Jack and Ianto were alone in the hub. Jack was working in the conference room and Ianto was on the balcony, cleaning the coffee machine after Gwen’s ‘trying to help’ disaster that had left foam, water and ground coffee bean sludge everywhere.
Ianto was working slowly and methodically when he heard a shriek. For a second he thought one of the girls had come back without him noticing and he looked down to the lower level. All was quiet, the computers powered down, everyone had gone home after a very long day. Ianto was hoping to leave soon as well, depending on Jack and what mood he was in.
“Ianto! Get in here!” Jack’s voice roared, a little more high pitched than Ianto was used to. But he automatically ran across the balcony and crashed through the door and looked at Jack in shock. He was crouched on the table, his papers slightly scattered, looking like he wanted to stand up and start clambering up to reach the light fitting.
“Jack, what are you doing?”
Jack directed wild, blue eyes in Ianto’s direction.
“One of those bloody spidery-mouse things, it was on my leg. It must have got out. Get it!”
“Okay,” Ianto said slowly, drawing out the word, implying that Jack was slightly mad. Jack didn’t react other than to look at him pleadingly.
“Where did it go?”
“I don’t know!” Jack snapped, he shuffled on the table uncomfortably. He twitched nervously as he looked down making sure it wasn’t on the table with him. Ianto looked around and then slowly crouched to scan the floor, and he smirked. Said spidery-mouse thing was under the conference room table, its front legs and antenna in the air, ears twitching but frozen, clearly frightened by the sudden movement.
“Okay, it’s under the table…”
He had hoped to be giving reassuring information but there was a thudding from the table top, Jack’s boots appeared on a chair, tipping it as he crawled over it and before Jack could fall he threw himself at the sideboard. There was thudding and a sickening crack of wood as he landed on it. Ianto knelt up to peer over the table top at him. Jack was again crouched pressing against the wall, like he wanted to climb up it.
“Just get it!” Jack whined at him. Ianto raised his eyebrows. He turned and reached for one of the large glasses on the side and went back under the table.
The spidery-mouse thing, clearly as disturbed by Jack’s frantic movement as Jack was of it, had run to the side of the table and got halfway up the table leg on the right hand side of the table. It clung there, its antenna and nose moving, the brown fur slightly on end.
Ianto crawled under the table and looked at the glass. He couldn’t pin it under it. For one thing, it was halfway up a table leg and the second, the glass wasn’t big enough.
“Ianto!” Jack whined again.
“All right,” Ianto said. He put the glass down. The creatures weren’t dangerous. They weren’t poisonous, didn’t bite and ate vegetation. They were just a little weird to look at. Ianto knew he was safe, but still he grimaced as he moved a little further under the table, slowly, so the thing didn’t move again, and then he reached out a hand.
At six inches away he darted his hand forward and grabbed it. As he did so the thing gave a little squeak and when he pulled it off the table leg the legs gripped to his hand instead. The head dropped slightly and sniffed him, then started to lick at his fingers, tasting coffee, milk and washing up liquid. Judging by the sounds, Ianto guessed the little thing liked it.
He crawled out from under the table.
Ianto had crawled out on the side of the table nearest Jack and as he held up the creature Jack yelped and pressed closer to the wall. The spidery-mouse thing remained oblivious, still licking Ianto’s skin.
“It’s all right Jack, it’s not going to get you. It's more scared of you than you are of it.”
“Just take it away!” he howled.
“Yes, Sir,” Ianto said, smirking. “It’s not going to hurt you.”
“I don’t care, it’s all legs and fur and icky! Take it away!”
“Okay, Jack, it’s fine, you can get down off the furniture now.”
“What if there’s another one?”
“Do you want me to run a scan?”
Ianto didn’t wait for an answer. He went to the computer and set a scan running. Jack huddled on the sideboard and whimpered. Ianto wanted to giggle. Captain Jack Harkness, the fearless leader of Torchwood was cowering at a rodent-arachnid cross-breed that seemed to like, not coffee but the taste of washing up liquid. Ianto made a note to check if it was harmful to them, he thought they were kind of sweet. That could have been because now, one was squeaking and wriggling in his hand, being harmless and cute, almost. As long as he didn’t look at it too much.
“There are only three life-forms in the room, you, me and this spidery-mouse thing. All other spidery-mouse things are in the containment cell where we put them. You can get down off the sideboard, Jack.”
“Take it away first!”
“Okay, I’ll take it back, be off the sideboard with those great boots of yours when I get back.”
“All right,” Jack said, squirming a little and looking nervous. Ianto went to the door, the creature had stopped wriggling and looked like it had gone to sleep, its legs curled up around his hand. He paused at the door and turned to the still cowering Jack.
“I presume you wish me not to inform the others of this small… fear.”
“I’ll give you the best blow job ever if you don’t,” Jack said. Ianto pulled the stopwatch out of his pocket with his free hand. He set it running and put it on the table.
“I expect it to last the length of time it takes me to put this thing away.”
“Okay,” Jack said.
Ianto turned and headed out of the conference room and took his charge back down to its friends. He looked at the clustered group of aliens and smirked. He wouldn’t tell the others, but he would keep hold of that small snippet of information.
You never really knew when it could be useful.