“Dinosaurs don't automatically make everything better,” Ianto told Jack when he saw how excited his lover was.
“What d’you mean? Of course they do! There are dinosaurs in Cardiff; it’s brilliant! How can you not be thrilled about it?”
“Because this is the twenty-first century, Jack.” Ianto tried to remain patient and explain, but in the face of Jack’s enthusiasm, it wasn’t easy. “Dinosaurs don’t belong here, if people see them we’ll have mass panic on our hands.”
“Panic? This is Cardiff, Ianto, people are used to the weird.”
“Okay, then we’ll have hundreds of people taking photos of them and someone will probably try to sneak one home as a pet. Either way, we’re going to have one hell of a job containing the situation, not to mention the dinosaurs.”
“They won’t be any trouble, they’re vegetarians. Look at them, isn’t that a sight? A peacefully browsing herd of dinosaurs in Bute Park, that’s not something you see every day, not even here.” Jack leaned against the SUV, watching the grazing dinosaurs, a dopey grin on his face.
Ianto sighed heavily. Yes, it was indeed a sight to behold, but as usual, Jack was failing to grasp several very important points. “Jack, there are almost thirty dinosaurs eating the botanical gardens; we have to stop them somehow, then round them up and find somewhere to put them until we can send them back where they belong. Preferably before word gets out, or something panics them and they stampede. Just because they’re vegetarians doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. Look at the size of them! If you got trampled by one of those you’d notice it.”
“You just suck all the fun out of things,” Jack grumbled. “Look on the bright side for once instead of wallowing in pessimism!”
“I would if I could find one, but it’s currently obscured by a herd of bloody dinosaurs!” Ianto snapped, finally losing his patience.
“Fine. Be like that! I like them; dinosaurs are cool.”
Rolling his eyes, Ianto turned back to the rest of the team and focussed his attention on trying to come up with a workable plan of action.
It took several hours, a lot of Retcon, and a rather flimsy story about vandals targeting the gardens, which probably wouldn’t hold up under close scrutiny, but eventually the team managed to herd the beasts into trucks rented from Harwoods. An old Torchwood-owned warehouse provided temporary accommodations for the beasts, and then it was just a case of contacting the Doctor to give them a ride home.
To Ianto’s annoyance, the Time Lord proved as enthusiastic about their accidental visitors as Jack had been.
“Hadrosaurs! Aren’t they brilliant?”
“I know!” beamed Jack, practically bouncing with excitement. “I wish we could keep them,” he added, “but they don’t belong in this century, they wouldn’t really be happy here, especially locked up in a warehouse. They need to get back to their own time but it’s hard enough to control the Rift when we’re only returning a single being to its home, this is a bit beyond our capabilities.”
“Say no more, plenty of room in the TARDIS, I’ll have them back in the Cretaceous before they can blink. Assuming they do blink.”
“They do, I’ve seen them!”
“Blinking dinosaurs! Fantastic! Just have to herd them through the control room and into the gardens, they’ll be fine in there.”
“They’ll eat all your plants,” Ianto told him. “Will they even fit through the door?”
“Oh, don’t worry about the plants.” The Doctor waved a hand airily. “Plants grow back. As for the door, well, let’s just say it’s bigger than it looks.”
“It would have to be,” Ianto muttered to himself as he wandered off to start rounding up the dinosaurs again. Seriously, where in his contract did it say anything about being a dinosaur herder? As General Support Officer he seemed to get lumbered with all the jobs no one else wanted. “When this is all over, I need to get myself an assistant,” he said, addressing no one in particular, which was just as well since nobody paid him any attention. He shook his head despairingly. “Might as well be invisible.”
Herding dinosaurs isn’t easy, they’re a lot bigger than people and rather ponderous in their movements, but eventually the last one vanished through the TARDIS door. Even after seeing it happen twenty-seven times, Ianto still couldn’t work out how they fitted through a door less than a third of their size, but somehow they did. It was a bizarre and slightly mind-boggling thing to watch.
“Is that all of them?” the Doctor asked cheerfully.
“Last one, unless there’s another one hiding somewhere.” Ianto gestured around the vast, open space of the warehouse interior where you couldn’t even successfully hide a sheep, never mind a dinosaur bigger than a bus.
“Well done! You’re really very good at this herding business. Comes from being Welsh I imagine, all those sheep! Must be in your blood.”
Great. Now the Doctor saw him as a sheepdog. Ianto felt decidedly unappreciated. He had loads of other, better, more important and more useful skills. If anyone tried to pat him he’d bite them!
“You’ll look after them, won’t you? Find them a nice spot to live?” Typical. Jack cared more about the dinosaurs than about his loyal, overworked, under appreciated lover.
“Oh, don’t worry about them, they’ll be fine. Your Toshiko gave me everything she had from when they fell through the Rift; I’ll have them back home before their friends even know they left.”
Ianto had his doubts about that; he’d heard tales of the Doctor’s less than stellar timekeeping. He’d be lucky if he got them back in the same century. Not that Ianto was about to say any such thing; that would be tactless. He was just glad they were no longer his responsibility.
With assurances from the Doctor that he’d drop by for a proper visit soon, the TARDIS faded out, accompanied by its usual wheezing, grinding sound. Ianto felt sorry for her; you’d think after all the time he’d been flying her, the Doctor would remember to take the hand brake off. Oh well, maybe he’d have a word with the Time Lord about it next time.
“Well, that’s sorted. Time to go home.” Ianto set off towards the warehouse doors. Cleanup could wait until certain things dried out a bit, it would be a lot easier then. “Jack? You coming?”
“Right behind you. Oh crap!”
“What’s wrong now?” Ianto turned to glare at Jack, hands on hips.
Lifting one foot, Jack looked at his boot, a disgusted expression on his face. “I just trod in dino doo-doo.”
“Serves you right, you should’ve watched where you were putting your feet. And you can clean your own boots, I’m not doing it for you.” Ianto smirked, feeling far happier with the turn of events than he really should have; after everything he’d had to deal with, it was immensely cheering to see fate pick on someone else for a change.
Jack tried unsuccessfully to scrape the offensive material off onto the concrete floor. “Stupid dinosaurs.”
“They’re just animals, Jack, you can hardly blame them. Anyway, it’s like I told you earlier…”
“I know, you were right, okay? I admit it,” Jack huffed petulantly. “Dinosaurs don't automatically make everything better.”