In The Blink Of An Eye by badly_knitted

Summary: Checking out a mysterious signal, Ianto unexpectedly finds himself elsewhere.
Rating: All Ages
Categories: Torchwood
Characters: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness, Toshiko Sato
Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Fluff, Mystery, Standalone
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Published: 2023.05.25
Updated: 2023.05.26

In The Blink Of An Eye by badly_knitted
Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Author's Notes: Written for prompt ‘Any, Any, Stranded,’ at spring_renewal.

“Well, isn’t this charming?” Ianto wasn’t sure who he was talking to since there was nobody else around, or not that he could see. Perhaps, he decided, he was talking just to hear something familiar, and to make himself feel less alone.

He hadn’t been alone a few moments ago. He’d been with Jack, investigating some unusual signals Torchwood’s sensors were picking up. Thanks to alien-enhanced technology, the state-of-the-art sensor net Tosh had developed for the Hub’s internal security had recently been expanded to cover most of Cardiff, although she was still in the process of fine-tuning it. Anyway, it had picked up something outside normal parameters, and Jack had decided it should be checked out.

“It’s probably nothing, but let’s make sure. There’s not much happening around here today, so we could visit the National Museum while we’re out that way. It’s only a short walk from Alexandra Gardens.”

“Or we can just enjoy the gardens themselves,” Ianto had pointed out. “Providing we don’t find anything we need to deal with.”

Jack had laughed at that. “It’s probably just a minor glitch in the sensors. Once Tosh has everything adjusted properly, we’ll stop picking up these unidentifiable blips.”

Hah! Famous last words.

When they’d arrived at the gardens, everything had seemed perfectly normal, but they’d split up anyway, armed with scanners, just to make certain. Ianto’s search had failed to turn up anything and he’d been on his way to re-join his lover when it had happened. There’d been a faint buzzing sound, which he’d at first assumed was bees among the nearby flowers, then his skin had begun to tingle and before he could do anything, a faint silvery shimmer had filled the air around him. The last thing he’d heard before the gardens had vanished had been Jack’s voice shouting his name.

It seemed to Ianto he’d done nothing more than blink. There’d been no sense of movement, no disorientation, no sensation of being taken apart and put back together again, but Cardiff and everything familiar was gone. He was standing among tall, slender, silvery-grey trees on the edge of what appeared to be a lake.

The water was strange, emerald green and completely still, not the faintest ripple disturbing its surface. There was no breeze either; the narrow leaves on the trees hung motionless, and the silence was so complete that Ianto could hear his own heartbeat.

Turning slowly, he stared off through the trees, which were widely spaced, the ground between them carpeted with a bluish moss, stretching as far as he could see. One thing was certain; wherever he was now, it was nowhere on earth.

Ianto didn’t panic, this wasn’t the first time he’d unexpectedly found himself transported to an alien world, in fact he was remarkably well-travelled for someone who’d never voluntarily left his home planet. Nevertheless, it didn’t escape his notice that he was stranded, with no idea where he was, and no obvious way of getting home. He didn’t even know how he’d got here. He knew what Rift portals looked like; they appeared in a flash of golden light and vanished the same way. What they didn’t do was manifest as a silvery shimmer in the air. He wondered if he’d been abducted by aliens, it wouldn’t be the first time for that either, but if that was the case, where were they?

He cleared his throat awkwardly. “Um, hello?” he called, looking around himself. “Anyone here?” His voice sounded curiously flat in the still air. There was no reply, but he hadn’t really expected one.

Now what should he do? If he left this spot, he might not be able to find his way back to it. And what if whatever force brought him here reversed itself while he was elsewhere? He might miss his only chance of getting home. But if he stayed where he was, he could starve to death, or more likely die of dehydration, before any kind of rescue plan could be set in motion. Neither possibility appealed.

Then his phone rang, breaking the silence and almost scaring the life out of him. It was ridiculous, totally impossible, and yet…

He answered it cautiously. “Hello?”

“Ianto!” Jack’s voice came through loud and clear, sounding relieved. “Thank the gods! Where are you?”

“Damned if I know, but it’s not earth.”

“Not…” Jack trailed off. “Ianto, the only phones that work between planets are the ones the Doctor’s modified. I don’t have one of those, and as far as I know, neither do you.”

“I know.” Ianto took his phone from his ear and frowned at it. According to the display, he was getting a good, clear signal. From another planet. He put it back to his ear again. “A lot of impossible things seem to be happening today.”

“What d’you mean?”

“Well, I don’t think the Rift took me, but here I am, what I can only assume is a very long way from home.”

“If it wasn’t the Rift, then how…?” Jack trailed off, clearly as confused as Ianto.

“Your guess is as good as mine, although… Maybe I stumbled into a wormhole connecting two worlds. That might explain why we can still talk to each other.”

“Suppose you’re right, what good does that do anyone? I still don’t know where you are. Maybe I should call Martha, have her get in touch with the Doctor. With any luck the TARDIS might be able to locate you.”

“Let’s keep that as a last resort. I want to try something first. Stay exactly where you are. Don’t move.”

“What? Why?”

Ianto was glad now that he hadn’t gone anywhere since arriving. All he’d done was turn around on the spot, so he did the same again, turning until he was once more facing the unnaturally smooth green lake. He reached out with one hand, feeling around. Nothing. He shook his head at his own stupidity; he was searching in the wrong direction; he’d been facing this way when he’d arrived. Turning back to face the trees, he tried again and this time, after a few seconds he detected the faintest tingling in his fingertips. Shuffling forwards a couple of inches, he heard the same buzzing sound he’d noticed earlier.

“Here goes nothing. Wish me luck!” Taking a deep breath, Ianto stepped forward, collided forcefully with something solid, and then he was falling. When he blinked his eyes clear, he was staring into Jack’s face from a distance of a few inches. He smiled in satisfaction. “Wormhole, has to be.” Rolling off Jack, he stood up and helped his lover to his feet. “Seems stable enough at the moment, but we should probably cordon it off and get Tosh out here. Maybe she can disconnect it or something. Can’t have random people ending up stranded off-world. They might not find their way back so easily.”

Before Ianto could say anything else, Jack grabbed him, kissing him thoroughly before pulling back. “How did you?”

“What?” Ianto wondered if Jack had hit his head when he’d fallen; he wasn’t making sense.

“Find your way back.”

“Oh, that. I hadn’t moved away from my arrival point, so I just turned round. Can’t really see anything until you’re already in it, then the air sort of shimmers a bit, but you can feel a weird tingling, and there’s a buzzing noise.”

“Huh. I didn’t feel or hear anything.”

“Really? Maybe you just didn’t get close enough.”

“Hm, perhaps. What’s it like there?”

“Pretty enough, I suppose. Green lake, tall silver trees, silvery-blue moss on the ground, but it was kind of eerie, completely silent, and nothing moved. I wouldn’t want to stay there for any length of time. It’s like the trees and moss are the only living things there.”

As Ianto turned to look back at where the wormhole was, even if he couldn’t actually see it, his ears suddenly popped, and he winced. Jack dropped his phone and doubled over, clutching both ears.

Ianto reached out for him as he straightened up. “Jack? You alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine now, just got a sharp pain in my ears for a moment.”

“Same here.”

On the grass at his feet, Jack’s phone abruptly blared out Glenn Miller’s ‘In the Mood’. He bent to pick it up.

“You’ve reached Captain Jack, what’s your pleasure?”

“Jack?” It was Tosh’s voice. “That weird signal I was picking up just cut off. Did you two find anything?”

“As a matter of fact, we did, and we’ll tell you all about it when we get back to the Hub. In the meantime, better set the system to alert us if the signal starts up again, here or anywhere else. See you in a bit.” Jack hung up and stepped closer to Ianto, who was feeling around where the wormhole had been. “Anything?”

Ianto shook his head. “I think it’s gone.”

“Let’s hope it stays that way. The Rift is bad enough; Cardiff doesn’t need anything else for people to stumble through, especially something that can’t be seen.”

“Mm,” Ianto agreed. “Invisible wormholes popping up all over the place could be a problem. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve never liked mystery trips; you never know where you might wind up.”

The End

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