Out Of The Past

by badly_knitted [Reviews - 0]

  • All Ages
  • None
  • Drama, Fluff, Humor, Mixed, Standalone

Author's Notes:
Written for Challenge 381: Amnesty 63 at fan_flashworks, using Challenge 298: Cat.

“So,” Ianto repeated, beginning to grow frustrated with Jack’s silence, since he wasn’t sure his lover had been listening to him the first time he’d spoken. “How exactly do you suggest we capture and contain a fully-grown sabretooth tiger?”

“Huh?” Proving to Ianto that he really hadn’t been listening, Jack reluctantly tore his gaze away from the magnificent creature that was currently creeping stealthily across the park, apparently stalking a pigeon, and gave the Welshman a blank look.

“You said we’d capture it,” Ianto reminded him. “I just want to know how. If you have a foolproof method of capturing ferocious carnivores without being ripped to shreds in the process, enlighten me, because I’m not convinced it’s possible. I mean look at it!”

“I was, until you distracted me.” Jack turned back to the prehistoric big cat. “It’s not that bad, less than half the size of a Bozog. Tranquillising it shouldn’t prove too difficult. It doesn’t even look like it’s noticed us yet.”

“Only because we’re lucky enough to be downwind of it,” Ianto muttered under his breath. “Once it gets a whiff of your pheromones, I don’t want to think what might happen.”

Jack glanced his way again. “What was that?”

“Nothing. Use your head, Jack: What would we do with something like that even if we could catch it? It’s not as if we can just shove it in one of the cells and toss it the occasional cow to chew on, and as for sending it to the reservation, that would be a complete disaster. It would eat all the other residents in no time, and what if it escaped? Nobody would be safe from something with teeth like that. I can just imagine trying to cover up the massacre of an entire rural village, and if someone managed to photograph it... Which they might anyway, if it’s allowed to wander around loose out here for much longer.”

“Why d’you always have to go straight to the worst-case scenario?” Jack grumbled.

“Someone has to be realistic, and it’s never going to be you. That’s not some fluffy little stray kitten; it’s a big, strong, not to mention very dangerous carnivorous predator. Something like that isn’t going to do well in captivity. It’s not like Myfanwy, we couldn’t have it running loose in the Hub, not if we wanted to keep all our limbs attached, and there’d be no way of taming it.”

Jack brushed that off with a wave of his hand. “One problem at a time,” he said firmly. “We can figure all the rest out after we catch it. Owen, do you think you can hit it from this distance?”

Torchwood’s medic didn’t look too happy at being put on the spot. “Can’t be sure. There’s a bit of a headwind, and that could send the dart anywhere. I’d probably need to be closer.”

“How much closer?”

“A lot, half the distance at least. Even then, I can’t guarantee the first shot would hit it; there’re too many variables. It’s not like firing a handgun.”

“Add to that we don’t know how thick its hide is, or even whether the tranquilliser would be effective…” Ianto trailed off.

“This is the same stuff zoos use to sedate lions and tigers for transport or treatment,” Owen pointed out. “It should work, if the needle goes deep enough and delivers the full dose.”

“If.” Ianto huffed a sigh. “And just suppose it doesn’t. Our friend there goes down and we think it’s out, but when we get closer, we find it’s just been temporarily stunned. Have you seen those teeth? I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong end of those. They’re like knives; must be a good eight inches. We wouldn’t stand a chance.”

“What do you want to do about it then?” Jack asked, getting exasperated with Ianto’s negativity. “Do you want to kill it just because it was unfortunate enough to be dragged out of the past and dumped in the present?”

“Want to? No, of course not. I’m just saying we might not have much of a choice. If we try to tranquillise it and fail, we probably won’t get another chance. It could either turn and attack us, or get spooked and run the other way, in which case we’d have to try to find it again before anyone got hurt or killed. We’ve been lucky so far, the trip through the Rift and the unfamiliar surroundings have left it disoriented, but it’s already beginning to adapt. Sooner or later, it’ll turn its attention to more substantial prey than pigeons.”

By now, the sabretooth was chowing down on the pigeon, which hadn’t been smart enough to fly away.

“Teaboy’s got a point,” Owen admitted, siding with Ianto for a change. “If we spook it, things could get very bad, very fast.”

Jack glared at his team. “We’re supposed to be better than Torchwood One. We don’t kill unless we have to.”

“Which is what I’ve been saying all along,” Ianto pointed out. “We can try capturing it, but we need to accept that killing it might be unavoidable.”

“No! We’re not killing it, and that’s final.” Jack stalked away, scowling.

Owen grimaced. “Well, that’s us told.”

“Yep.” Shoving his hands into his trouser pockets, Ianto stared across the park to where the sabretooth was cleaning its front paws like an oversized housecat.

“We can’t stand around here doing nothing just because Jack refuses to face facts.”

Ianto spared the medic a brief glance. “So what do you suggest?”

“I don’t know, but you heard him; he’s dead set on snagging himself another prehistoric pet, regardless of what anyone else thinks.”

“Don’t be too hard on him, Owen; he’s remembering the space whale. It still bothers him that he couldn’t save it. Having to put down an innocent creature goes against everything he stands for.”

“Funny that he’s not so squeamish when it comes to killing Bozogs.”

“Yeah, well, there’s nothing remotely appealing about Bozogs, and they could never be described as innocent creatures. They live to kill, and they keep killing, even when they’re not hungry. Plus they stink to high heaven from rolling in the blood of their kills. Bozogs and personal hygiene…” Ianto shrugged. “That would be an oxymoron.”

“Alright, point taken.”

“Anyway, so far all Kitty there’s done is kill a pigeon, which could probably be considered a public service. If we could be sure it would stick to pigeons, there wouldn’t be a problem.”

Jack came stalking back to where Ianto and Owen were leaning against the SUV, looking considerably more cheerful than he had. “Okay, so I put a call through to the Doctor; he’s…” Whatever else he was about to say was drowned out by the sound of the TARDIS materialising barely six feet away from them.

The door swung open, and the Doctor struck his head out. “Jack! There you are! You said you needed my help with an emergency of some sort?”

“Sabretooth tiger,” Ianto cut in before Jack could say anything. “Not the kind of thing anyone wants wandering around a park in the middle of a city. Jack wants to tranquillise and capture it, but…”

“It’s a bit risky,” Owen finished for his colleague. “Could all go pear-shaped like that.” He snapped his fingers.

“Ah.” The Doctor pulled a face. “Can’t abide pears. Horrible things.”

“Forget about the pears; what about the sabretooth tiger?” Ianto valiantly steered the conversation back on course.

“Everyone else thinks we should kill it, but I was hoping if we could catch it, you’d take it back where it belongs,” Jack said. “Like when we had that herd of dinosaurs.”

The Doctor clapped his hands together enthusiastically. “Yes, of course, I’d be delighted! Lovely idea! I’ll just go and fetch it, shall I?” He turned towards the prehistoric cat.

“Oi!” Owen protested. “You can’t just go marching up to it! I haven’t tried to tranquillise it yet; it’ll have your head off before you can blink!”

“Oh, no need for any of that.” The Doctor beamed at them. “I speak sabretooth!” With that he was off, striding across the grass, roaring lustily.

“I can’t look.” Owen turned away, covering his eyes. In contrast, Ianto found he couldn’t look away, one hand on his gun just in case he had to use it to save the Doctor’s life.

They needn’t have worried; the sabretooth sat up and roared back. As conversations went, Ianto thought it was a bit… on the loud side. Still, whatever the Doctor was saying seemed to be working. In less than five minutes, he was on his way back, the massive carnivore walking sedately beside him.

“Right, it’s all sorted, so we’ll be off.” The Doctor sounded a bit hoarse from all the roaring. “Good seeing you again Jack, Ianto, um…”

“Owen,” Ianto said, watching the sabretooth warily.

“Right, Owen, of course.”

The sabretooth stared at Ianto and roared; Ianto tried not to wince at the volume.

“He says he likes your stripes,” the Doctor translated.

Ianto self-consciously smoothed his black and silver striped tie. “Ah.” He smiled at the tiger, careful not to show his teeth. “Thank you.”

“You could all come with us if you’d like,” the Doctor offered. “Meet his mate and cubs.”

“We’re a bit busy right now, but perhaps next time. Thanks for your help, have a safe trip!” Stepping back, Jack smiled as his old friend led the sabretooth into the TARDIS, the door closing behind them. Then, with its usual wheezing and groaning, it faded out and vanished. He turned to his team. “There, problem solved. I told you we didn’t need to kill it! Don’t you just love happy endings?”

“Yes, very nice,” Ianto agreed. “But we got lucky; we can’t expect the Doctor to always be available, like some kind of intergalactic, time travelling Uber.”

“I suppose you’re right.” Jack draped his arm around Ianto’s shoulders. “What we really need is a TARDIS of our own. Do you think if I asked the Doctor nicely…”

Shaking his head, Ianto opened the driver’s side door. “Doubtful. Come on, we’d better get back to the Hub and come up with a cover story. I’m driving.”

Surprisingly, Jack didn’t put up so much as a token protest, too busy poking at his Vortex Manipulator. “You know, if I could just fix the time travel circuit, I wouldn’t need to call the Doctor; I could transport displaced creatures myself.”

“Oh yes, I’m sure that would work brilliantly.” Ianto’s tone fairly dripped sarcasm as he started the engine and pulled away from the kerb. “I can see it now, you hopping a couple of million years into the past with a velociraptor tucked under one arm. What could possibly go wrong?”

“You have no faith in me, do you?” Jack pouted at his lover.

“Not when you keep coming up with hairbrained schemes. But if it’s any consolation, I love you anyway.”

“One of these days I’ll surprise you.”

Ianto nodded. “I know you will; that’s what worries me.”

The End