It was ridiculously early to be out and about, barely six in the morning, but despite not having gone to bed until close to midnight, Ianto felt almost ridiculously cheerful. One might almost say he was full of the joys of spring, a fitting analogy what with it being mid-April. Ianto loved spring; it was such a happy time of year. All the plants that had been dormant throughout winter were growing new leaves and bursting into bloom, birds were singing in the trees, and out in the countryside there seemed to be baby animals everywhere you looked. Not that he was in the country right now, he was on his way to the Hub, but that was beside the point. Spring was a time of new life, new beginnings, warmer weather… How could anyone not respond to that with optimism?
Feeling reenergized and more alive than he had in months Ianto all but bounced down the front path to his car, a spring in his step as he passed between flowerbeds full of bright yellow daffodils. A light breeze set them swaying to and fro, making them seem to be nodding good morning to him. His smile widened at the sight; was there anything better for a Welshman than the sight of daffodils on a sunny morning? Speaking of which, rising above the houses down the street, the sun was an equally bright yellow ball in a cloudless pale blue sky, already warming the air and filling him with a sense of wellbeing. If he’d had the time, he might have chosen to walk to work, but since he might have need of his car later it would probably be wise to drive.
Stooping to pick up a pale-yellow bloom that had been broken off, perhaps by a passing fox or cat, he tucked it into his buttonhole, a little splash of sunshine to carry though the day, there to buoy up his spirits if needed. Reaching his car, he jumped in, rolled the window down to let in the fresh air and sunlight, and set off for the Hub.
Arriving at work Torchwood’s headquarters appeared grim and drab in their greyness compared to the brightness outside, but Ianto remained undaunted; he had his happy daffodil, drooping a bit now, but it perked up again once he trimmed the stem and put it in water.
“Morning, Jack!” he greeted a short while later as his lover slouched over to where he was making coffee and breakfast.
“Morning. What’s got you so cheerful today?”
“It’s spring, in case you haven’t noticed! The sun’s shining, the daffodils and crocuses are in bloom… I might buy some later, once the shops open. This place could do with a bit of brightening up, bring a bit of the outdoors inside.” He set Jack’s breakfast in front of him, having turned the semi-circle of his omelette into a smiley face with the addition of a tomato, cut in half and grilled, for the eyes.
Jack couldn’t help being infected by Ianto’s good mood. “Am I supposed to eat this or just smile back at it?” he laughed.
“Your choice, but I dare say it’ll taste better while it’s hot.” Ianto sat opposite his lover with his own smiley breakfast and tucked in. Most days he’d just have a slice of toast with his first coffee of the day, but the pleasant weather and his good mood had given him more of an appetite than he generally had this early in the morning.
By the time the rest of the team arrived a couple of hours later there were vases of bright daffodils on every desk.
“What’s this?” Gwen asked. “It’s not St David’s day!”
“Does it need to be for us to appreciate a cheerful splash of colour?” Ianto asked, smiling as he distributed coffee to his teammates. “I thought it might be nice to bring a bit of spring sunshine into our gloomy underground lair.”
“I’m not complaining, I was just a bit surprised, that’s all. They are lovely though.”
No matter how beautiful a day it was, however, work was still work and everyone was reminded of that when the alarms blared out a little while later, not the Rift alert but the klaxons that warned an alien craft had been detected approaching the planet.
Tosh tracked its flight path as it came in fast for a barely controlled landing some distance beyond the city limits. Once in a while the Rift pulled spaceships off course, like a powerful and irresistible magnet, and that appeared to be what had happened in this instance. The team mobilised immediately, prepared to render assistance if the aliens were peaceful, or to take whatever action proved necessary in the event of the visitors being hostile. They wouldn’t know for sure what to expect until they reached the ship, since its configuration didn’t match anything in Torchwood’s databases.
“Better hope we can get them airborne again without causing a panic.” Ianto’s earlier good mood was slipping a bit as he considered the logistics of dealing with a crashed alien ship and its crew.
“At least they’ve come down well away from habitation,” Tosh noted.
Ianto considered that the only plus point of the whole affair; with luck the ship was far enough off the beaten track that it wouldn’t draw unwanted attention from farmers or hikers taking advantage of the beautiful weather.
When they arrived at the coordinates of the crash, it was obvious the downed spacecraft had come down quite hard, its nose ploughing a furrow through the grass and bracken, and shoving aside several clumps of wild daffodils in the process, until it came to rest at a distinct angle. There didn’t appear be any serious damage to the ship itself, however. Spacecraft were built to withstand all manner of mishaps, so it wasn’t easy to put a dent in one, and the inhabitants of this one were already scurrying around trying to right it, chattering enthusiastically to one another. They looked remarkably like three-foot-tall, bipedal, short-eared rabbits, fittingly in various shades of yellow.
“Looks like we’re being invaded by the Easter bunny’s relatives,” Owen said.
Jack called out in Galactic Standard and the aliens turned towards him, one of them replying before bounding over to them. There followed a rapid-fire conversation that Ianto couldn’t quite manage to follow. He knew the basics of the language, but their unintentional visitors were speaking so fast his brain couldn’t keep up. It didn’t matter; as soon as he could, Jack translated the gist of what had been said.
“They’re Benumbruns, a scientific study group. They were supposed to be doing a survey of Saturn’s rings, but a fluctuation in the Rift caught them by surprise, dragging them towards earth, and they had to make a bit of a precipitous landing.”
“I can see that,” Ianto said with a smile. He couldn’t put a finger on exactly why, but seeing the Benumbruns bouncing about made him forget his earlier concerns. They seemed to be a jolly bunch, completely unperturbed by their near disaster.
“Any of them hurt?” Owen wanted to know, ready to begin dispensing medical assistance if necessary. Every previously unknown alien race the team encountered was a potential source of new biological and medical information that would take him another step toward becoming earth’s foremost authority on alien medicine. Someday he’d be famous. Maybe.
Jack relayed the question to the group’s spokesperson, then turned to Owen, assuring him the Benumbruns were all unhurt. “They seem to be quite resilient,” he added, “probably because they bounce so well. I told their leader we’ll help dig their ship out and check it for damage. Looks quite a solid little craft though, built to handle pretty much anything that’s thrown at it. I don’t think it’ll need much in the way of repairs.”
One of the other Benumbruns bounded over to the one they’d been conversing with, its arms full of a daffodil clump, and chattering excitedly.
“Those are daffodils,” Ianto said, pointing at the flowers. “Daffodils.”
“Close enough.” Owen was right; it was rather like being confronted by the Easter Bunny and friends.
The daffodils drew another burst of rapid-fire Galactic Standard from the aliens.
Jack smiled. “Apparently yellow flowers are particularly prized on Benumbra,” he explained. “They’re considered… good omens, bringing good fortune and happiness.”
“Oh. Well, they make us happy too,” Ianto replied, his own Galactic Standard much slower than Jack and the Benumbruns could speak.
“We take with us please?” the one holding the daffodils asked, speaking slowly for Ianto’s benefit.
They’d already been dug up, however inadvertently, so Ianto couldn’t see any reason why not. “Yes, if you like. You’ll have to put them in something though.” He haltingly explained the growth cycle of daffodils and their needs before helping the Benumbrun pot up the clumps their ship had displaced into some empty containers scrounged from the ship’s stores. The rest of the team were already helping the other Benumbruns with their spacecraft, which was easier to move than something its size should have been, thanks to its antigravity field being operational.
Even so, it was well into the afternoon before the spacecraft and its crew were ready to get back to their interrupted scientific studies. Ianto was sorry to see the Benumbruns go; they were such happy people and as they boarded their ship, closing the hatch behind them, it was as if the light from the sun had dimmed a little. Still, as Torchwood field missions went, this had been one of the most enjoyable he could remember. He picked up a stray daffodil that had broken off one of the clumps the ship had uprooted and tucked it in his buttonhole, smiling to himself. He’d add it to the others back at the Hub. Red might be the colour that suited him best, but on reflection he decided yellow was what made him happiest. It was a shame it looked so awful on him.