When Jack and Ianto arrived back at the Hub after what was supposed to have been a routine check on some of Cardiff’s resident aliens, the whole team stopped what they were doing and just stared, mouths agape. Ianto couldn’t really blame them; they were rather a sight, and not in a good way.
It took almost a full minute before anyone managed to get their brain in gear enough to actually say anything, but finally Tosh found her voice.
“What on earth happened to you two? You're all wet!”
“And purple,” Owen added. “Don’t forget the purple.” He eyed Jack and Ianto critically. “Sorry to tell you this, but that shade doesn’t really do anything for you,” he smirked.
“Ha ha,” Jack replied through gritted teeth. “So glad you’re finding this amusing, Owen. Just for that, you can clean out the SUV.” He tossed the keys to Owen who caught them automatically, only to find himself with a handful of purple slime as well.
“Ugh! That’s disgusting!”
“You’ve been up to your elbows in worse,” Ianto pointed out, amused.
“Not without gloves,” Owen retorted, pulling a face. Plucking the car keys carefully out of the mess, he looked around for something to wipe his hand on, finally reaching for one of the reports on his desk.
“If you wipe your hand on your paperwork,” Ianto warned, “I’ll drip slime all over your new leather jacket.”
Owen hesitated, glancing uncertainly towards Ianto. “You wouldn’t…”
The look on Ianto’s face, what Owen could see of it through the slime, said it all; Ianto did not make threats unless he was prepared to make good on them.
“You bastard, you’d really do it, wouldn’t you?”
“Try me. After the morning I’ve had, it would give me great pleasure to inflict some of this,” he raised one dripping, purple arm, “on someone else.”
“Fuck!” Owen stared at his own slimy hand in dismay, not knowing what to do now.
“Here, Owen.” Tosh appeared beside him with a handful of paper towels she’d fetched from the kitchen and Owen shot her a grateful look.
“Thanks, Tosh; you’re a star.” He quickly wiped his hands and the keys.
“Anything to keep you from dripping on my computers.” She gave him a cheeky smile.
“Right, if you’ll excuse us, I think we should get cleaned up,” Jack said firmly. “Come along, Ianto. You’ll feel better after a nice, hot shower.” He set off across the concrete, leaving a slimy trail in his wake, and Ianto shambled after him.
“This stuff better not stain!” He paused in the doorway that led to the locker rooms and showers. “One of you better get a mop and clean that up.” He gestured at the slime-splattered ground. “You wouldn’t want to step in it; someone might slip and get hurt.”
“We’ll get right on it, Ianto,” Tosh assured her friend. “Don’t worry.”
With a terse nod, Ianto followed Jack, radiating gloom. As he disappeared from sight, his voice drifted back to them. “I really liked this suit.”
“Poor Ianto,” Tosh sighed as she went to fetch mops and buckets.
“What about Jack?” Gwen asked, picking her way past the slimy patches on the floor.
Tosh shrugged. “He’ll be fine. Even if he’s stained purple he’ll go back to normal the next time he dies.”
After a long, leisurely shower, first fully clothed and then naked, Jack and Ianto stepped out of the big multi-jet cubicle, looking clean and not at all purple, and briskly rubbed each other dry with big, fluffy, blue towels.
“Better?” Jack asked.
“Much better now that I’m pink again and not smelling of fish.”
“Mmm,” Jack agreed. “Your natural scent is a lot more appealing.”
“So is yours.” Ianto gave Jack a quick kiss, then went over to his locker and got out the spare suit he kept in there along with a couple of changes of casual clothes.
“Do we have to get dressed right away?” Jack pouted.
“Yes,” Ianto said firmly. “I need to clean up the rest of the slime before it sets, and I don’t trust Owen to do a proper job on the SUV’s interior.”
“Those seat protectors you used should’ve caught most of the mess,” Jack reminded him, “and I wiped my hands before I touched the steering wheel.”
“Yes you did, and you’ll get a reward for being a good boy later, after we send the others home. But first we have work to do, okay?”
Jack sighed. “Okay, but I’ll hold you to your promise.”
“I’m counting on it,” Ianto winked, going over to where he’d hung his suit and Jack’s trousers. They were thankfully unstained, but would need dry-cleaning before they were wearable again. He took the Coat out of the alien clothes drier and checked it over carefully. Because its resilience almost matched that of its owner, the shower and a drying session were all it had needed to get it back into peak condition again, although as always after drying, it was a bit lethargic and sleepy. It hung limply from his hands, completely relaxed.
“How is it?” Jack asked, always anxious about his favourite garment.
“Good as new. Here you go.” Ianto held Coat out for Jack, who was now fully dressed, helping him to slip into it, and Coat stirred itself briefly to settle comfortably on its owner’s shoulders, warm and heavy and exuding contentment. Jack smiled happily, smoothing it down.
Before leaving the locker room, Ianto spared a few minutes to mop up the traces of slime they’d left on the tiled floors and drop the used towels in the laundry basket to be dealt with later, then he led the way out into the corridor.
He was pleased to see, as they made their way back up the stairs towards the main Hub, that someone had thoroughly mopped them, most likely Tosh since she wouldn’t have let anyone else venture down there while they were showering. The main Hub also looked well mopped, though Ianto’s keen eyes noticed a few spots that had been overlooked. He pointed them out to Gwen, who sighed heavily but picked up her abandoned mop and set to work again.
Leaving the main Hub, Ianto went through to the garage, where Tosh was giving the floor a final wipe over with her mop and Owen was rinsing out the seat protectors in the big stone trough that ran along the side. Fetching a damp cloth, Ianto wiped over the SUV’s door handles, inside and out, plus a few other places he knew either he or Jack would have touched, then nodded in satisfaction. Everything looked up to his exacting standards.
“Good job, Owen. Tosh, thank you. Come on back though to the Hub when you’ve put everything away and I’ll make coffee.”
“So, what exactly happened to the pair of you?” Gwen asked curiously when they were all seated around the coffee table sipping one of Ianto’s finest brews, usually reserved as a reward for a job well done. “I thought the aliens you were visiting were supposed to be harmless.”
“They are usually,” Jack said. “Unfortunately we picked a bad time to visit Huw. He’s a Loxipatl, they’re shape-shifters and most of the time they have no trouble maintaining human form, but for ten days every five years they go through a moult. During that time, they have to remain in their natural form while they produce vast amounts of slime in order to shed their old skin and protect the new one, which is extremely sensitive for the first few days. Huw wasn’t due to start moulting for another week, but he got a little overexcited at our visit and set himself off early.”
Ianto took up the story. “We had to help him down to his tub in the basement of his house, while he was sliming uncontrollably over everything and trying to apologise. It got very slippery.”
“Ianto lost his balance and fell into the tub, dragging Huw in on top of him, so I had to jump in after them and fish Ianto out before he drowned. Believe me, climbing out of a slime-filled tub when you’re covered in the stuff is no easy matter; took me nearly ten minutes to get out, with Huw trying to help, and then I had to pull Ianto out.” Jack was grinning now. “It was like something out of a slapstick comedy!”
“I lost a shoe,” Ianto added, he lips twitching as he finally started to see the funny side, “and Huw was wriggling around, slopping slime over the side of the tub, trying to find it, apologising all the time.”
“And when he finally pulled it out and handed it back, Ianto just took it and put it back on, but he forgot to empty the slime out first and it squelched straight up his trouser leg with a sound louder than that whoopee cushion Owen put on Gwen’s chair last week,” Jack gasped out, shoulders shaking and tears rolling down his cheeks. “You should’ve seen the look on Ianto’s face!”
“Huw got so agitated, he sneezed slime all over Jack.” Ianto was laughing now as well. “It was dripping out of his hair.”
“I’d ‘ave paid to see that!” Owen said, grinning as the girls giggled.
“Poor Huw was so embarrassed.” Jack shook his head and wiped his eyes. “Still, thankfully there’s no permanent harm done. He’ll be right as rain in a couple of weeks so we’ll go back then and check up on him, make sure he came through his moult alright.”
“It turned into quite an eventful morning,” Ianto said wryly, “although the slime seems to be really good for human skin. My hands have never felt softer.”
“Just goes to show,” Jack grinned, “there’s a bright side to everything!”