Sitting on and around the sofa beneath the Torchwood sign after saving the world yet again, or more accurately saving Cardiff, which amounted to the same thing in Ianto’s opinion, the team were helping themselves from cartons of Chinese that Ianto had just brought down from the tourist office. They were all starving, battling alien invaders really worked up an appetite, so for a while there was silence except for the occasional squabble over a choice morsel, usually a three-way between Jack, Gwen, and Owen. Tosh and Ianto liked to think they had better manners and took turns to sneak the best bits while the others were preoccupied with arguing.
“They’re like a bunch of ravenous harpies,” Tosh giggled.
“Even Myfanwy has better manners, which is saying something,” Ianto agreed, popping a prawn into his mouth. “Can you imagine dinosaurs squabbling over who gets the biggest bit?” He frowned, suddenly remembering something Jack had said once, something he’d always meant to ask about… “That reminds me. Jack?”
“Umph?” Jack said, his mouth crammed too full for anything more coherent.
“Have you really eaten dinosaur, or were you just having us on?”
Jack hastily chewed his mouthful and swallowed hard before speaking. “Yes I have. It was back when I still worked for the Time Agency; I was chasing a fugitive who tried to go to ground in earth’s past. Every time I nearly had him he jumped further back in time and I had to follow. Couldn’t let him get away; he could’ve caused catastrophic damage to existing timelines. Anyway, he miscalculated one jump, added a few extra zeroes by accident, misplaced a decimal point, something like that, and went a lot further back than he’d planned. Ended up where no one with any sense would want to be, right after the extinction event that finished off most of the dinosaurs. There were carcasses everywhere, slowly cooking on hot rocks; looked like the biggest barbecue in the universe.”
“Oh come on,” Owen scoffed. “Now you’ve really got to be kidding.”
“Honest, I swear on… uh… Ianto’s life, it’s the truth.”
“My life?” Ianto raised an eyebrow.
“Not much point swearing on my own, is it?”
Ianto considered that. “I suppose not.”
“Where was I?”
Universe’s biggest barbecue,” Ianto prompted.
“Right! So anyway, I caught the guy I was after, but that big a jump isn’t advisable, takes a lot of juice so we were stuck there while our VMs recharged from solar energy. As you can imagine, with all the dust in the air that took a while.”
“It would do,” Tosh agreed.
“Most of the vegetation was burned away, at least it was where we were, and there wasn’t much water either but we found a spring that provided just about enough for us. The only thing that wasn’t in short supply was meat. The smaller species turned out to be a bit on the gamey side, not to mention stringy, so we mostly ate bits of the bigger herbivores. It wasn’t bad, although it got a bit boring after the first couple of weeks. It took close to two months before we could attempt a return to the future, and even then we had to make a lot of smaller leaps, no more than fifty thousand years at a time. We took a dinosaur haunch with us to tide us over for the first few leaps, just until earth recovered enough that there were other things we could eat, and eventually we made it back to the fifty-first century where my captive was tried and convicted, and I got a commendation.” Jack beamed proudly.
“I’m sure it was very well deserved,” Ianto said, deadpan.
Jack preened. “I still have my medal somewhere.”
“You’ll have to show it to me later. There’s just one thing I really want to know though.”
“What does dinosaur taste like?”
Jack looked almost sheepish. “Honestly? Tasted a lot like chicken.”