“I swear it was an accident!”
Seeing Jack standing there in the doorway to the underground garage, wide-eyed and pathetic, dripping all over the floor, it was all Ianto could do not to burst out laughing, which would not do at all. This was a serious situation. Jack looked like some kind of swamp monster from an old Fifties B-movie, covered in glutinous greenish-brown sludge, and to make matters worse, he stank to high heaven. Instead he gave a long-suffering sigh.
“What did you do this time?”
“I was only trying to help!” Jack’s eyes, an even brighter blue than usual in contrast to his slime-covered face, pleaded mutely for understanding.
“I’m sure you were, but that’s not what I asked. What did you do? And what is that disgusting smell?”
“You don’t want to know.”
“Which part? What you did, or what the smell is?”
“Um, the second part? Although, probably the first part too.” Jack’s shoulders sagged in defeat.
“You’re most likely right about that, but you know I’ll find out anyway, so you might as well tell me.”
If anything, Jack sagged even further. “You know how you were saying the other day that the drains in the garage were getting blocked and needed clearing?”
Already Ianto didn’t like where this was going. “I remember.”
“Well, you always have so much else to do every day, and I wasn’t busy, so I thought I could save you a job, because… unblocking a drain, how hard can that be? So I got the rods and poked about down the drains a bit, and then I got the hose, stuck that down the drain, and turned it on to flush the blockage through. I poked about with the rods a bit more, and I thought I was getting somewhere, but then there was a weird gurgling noise from the old trough we wash our boots in, and when I went to see what was making it…”
Jack didn’t need to continue; Ianto got the picture and groaned, dropping his head into his hands. “You’re right, I didn’t want to know.”
“On the plus side, I don’t think there’s anything blocking the drains now…”
Ianto cautiously raised his head, eying Jack suspiciously. “Dare I ask why?”
“Um, because it’s all over the garage now?” Ianto jerked back, and on seeing his horrified expression, Jack scrambled to explain. “It was so sudden, like a volcano erupting, just whoosh!” He threw his arms up and out to demonstrate, splattering gunge everywhere in the process. “And I would have stopped it if I could, but I didn’t know how!” He dropped his arms back at his sides and Ianto stared in fascination as a lump of sludge oozed down Jack’s left sleeve and dropped to the concrete with a wet splat.
“You didn’t try turning the hose off?”
“Of course I did, but… I don’t think it made much difference.”
Ianto drew a deep, calming breath. “Right, get back in there, I’m not having you dripping that… muck right through the Hub. I’ll be there in a minute.”
“I’m sorry,” Jack said in a small voice, visions of being served instant decaf for eternity floating before his haunted eyes.
“I’m sure you are. Go!” Ianto made shooing motions with his hands and Jack obediently slunk back into the garage, leaving a trail of foul-smelling goop behind him.
Ianto joined him five minutes later, dressed in overalls, wellies, and thick rubber gloves, a stack of buckets under one arm and a shovel in his hand. With Jack’s help, he scraped as much of the goop off the floor as possible, tipping it into buckets to empty into the sewers. Then he grabbed the abandoned hose, sluiced Jack down to get the worst of the muck off him, and left him to drip in a corner, where he’d be out of the way while Ianto tackled the drains properly. Lifting the drain access panel, Ianto worked steadily at the build-up of mud and other substances until at last water was running freely along the pipes.
After that, it was just a matter of hosing down the rest of the garage, walls and ceiling as well as the floor, then cleaning up the trail Jack had left through the main Hub, plus the various splatters he’d caused by flinging his arms about. The one piece of good fortune amid all the disaster was that Owen and Gwen had taken the SUV out on a retrieval several miles outside Cardiff and weren’t back yet, otherwise the car would have had to be cleaned as well.
By the time Ianto was done with the cleaning and had rinsed his boots off in the old trough, most of the water had drained out of Jack’s clothes. He was bedraggled, smelly, and still far from clean, but good enough to be marched through the Hub and down to the decontamination showers, where he was unceremoniously shoved inside and run through a full cycle twice, first fully clothed and then naked, just to be thorough.
Wrapped in a fluffy robe, Jack padded back through the Hub to his quarters to dress while Ianto threw Jack’s clothes and his own overalls into Torchwood’s alien-tech enhanced washing machine, and took himself off for a nice relaxing shower. He felt he’d more than earned it.
“While I appreciate your good intentions, next time you get the urge to help, don’t bother,” he told Jack when he entered the other man’s office some time later and found him sitting forlornly at his desk, dressed in fresh clothes and smelling much sweeter than he had, “It’s a whole lot less work when I do it myself.”