Not Himself

by badly_knitted [Reviews - 0]

  • All Ages
  • None
  • Drabble, Fluff, Humor, Standalone

Author's Notes:
Written for Prompt 289: Possible at anythingdrabble. This is the long version of the story.

One of the first things new operatives had to deal with when joining Torchwood was redefining what they considered possible. If they were unable to do that, they might as well just find themselves a nice, quiet, preferably padded room and have a nervous breakdown. It saved everyone a lot of bother that way, because when it came to alien technology, practically anything was possible. Even if human scientists would have flatly refused to entertain the idea, citing numerous scientific ‘laws’ that absolutely, positively, could not be altered, ignored, or proved false, alien scientists obviously knew better, which just went to show how advanced they were compared to their human counterparts.

Several jaws dropped as Ianto entered the Hub, a vaguely annoyed expression on his face, and something on his head. Of course, to the longer-serving members of Team Torchwood, this was nothing particularly unusual. It was hardly the first time Ianto had gone out on a Rift retrieval with Jack only to return some time later with something they could only assume was Jack, even if he was no longer quite himself.

In the hush that fell as Ianto strode towards Tosh’s work area, carrying one of the standard containment units equipped with stasis technology that were used to transport potentially unstable technology, everyone could hear him quite clearly.

“It’s no use trying to blame me; this is in no way my fault.”

The creature on his head chittered angrily, peering down at his face.

“Don’t you take that tone with me. I could’ve just as easily left you out there, you know.”

‘ChitterChitter!’ The creature stamped a small paw.

“No. You’re big enough, under normal circumstances, and old enough to take responsibility for your own misadventures.”


“I know you don’t like squirrels, but you only have yourself to blame for getting turned into one. I told you to be careful, but you didn’t listen; you never do. It’s all ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ with you. There’s a whole list of rules you expect us to follow when handling anything alien, but do you follow them yourself? No, of course not. If you did, you wouldn’t be a squirrel.”


“Look, if I could put up with being stuck as a chipmunk for the best part of a day that time, then you can deal with spending a few hours as a squirrel; the tech that did this looks similar to other transformative devices we’ve encountered. Of course, if you hadn’t managed to drop it, you wouldn’t have to wait for Tosh to repair it before she can turn you back.”

Squirrel Jack chittered some more, leaning right over to glare at Ianto, one paw on the bridge of his long-suffering boyfriend’s nose for balance.

Ianto was not impressed. “Watch where you’re putting your claws, twpsyn!”

Withdrawing to the top of Ianto’s head again, Jack crouched there, grinding his teeth.

“Thank you. Then again, if you hadn’t picked it up in the first place, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” Ianto set the containment box on Tosh’s desk. “Sorry about this, Tosh. Got a job for you, if you’re not too busy.”

“It’s fine, Ianto. I’ll get right on it,” Tosh promised, offering her friend a sympathetic smile.

“No need to rush. Might do himself some good having to live with the consequences of his actions for a change.”

Torchwood’s erstwhile boss gave an angry squeal.

“Shut it, you. Keep that up and I’ll lock you in a cage.”

Ianto’s threat was enough to make Jack subside, chittering under his breath.

“I should think so. You could be using this as a learning experience, testing out your squirrel abilities, instead of complaining. You might even find it cures you of your squirrel aversion.”


“Well, you would say that.”

Owen, who’d been watching from his desk in fascination, finally spoke up. “You can understand squirrel language now?”

“No,” Ianto admitted. “But I understand Jack in any language.” Digging in his jacket pocket, he took out an acorn, and passed it up to his uninvited passenger. “Maybe this will keep you occupied for a few minutes. And don’t go throwing it at Owen; if you do, you won’t get another one.” He smiled down at Tosh. “I’ll leave you to it then, shall I? If you need me for anything, just call. In the meantime, I suppose I’d better make coffee for everyone.”

With surprising dignity, considering he had a squirrel on his head, Ianto turned and made his way towards the kitchen, leaving the newest members of the team gaping after him in disbelief. They didn’t seem to know what, if anything, to say.

Finally, Andy cleared his throat. “This sort of thing happen often, does it?” he asked.

“Often enough. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it,” Owen assured the ex-PC.

“Once you’ve been turned into something else a few times, you’ll find nothing really surprises you anymore,” Tosh added, lifting the lid off the containment box to get a good look at what she was dealing with. “Accidents with alien tech happen all the time, but there are far worse things that can happen than just getting temporarily transformed. It can be quite fun sometimes, depending on what you’re turned into.”

“At least no one ran out screaming this time,” Owen pointed out,” nodding approvingly at Andy and the two other recent recruits.

“Didn’t seem like that would be an appropriate reaction,” Andy said. “Looked like Ianto had the situation under control.”

“Yeah, well nothing fazes him,” Owen said. “Anyway, the most important thing you lot need to know is that anything’s possible around here; the rules you learned in school science classes don’t necessarily apply. Keep Calm and Carry On should be Torchwood’s official motto. Where’s Jack?” he added as Ianto returned with a tray of coffees.

Setting the tray down, Ianto turned to show Squirrel Jack now clinging, head down, to the back of his jacket. “I told him to get off my head because nobody wants bits of squirrel in their coffee.”

Owen smirked. “You do know he’s staring at your arse, right?”

Ianto half shrugged, turning back to take his own mug off the tray. “It figures. Human or not, Jack is still Jack. Some things never change.”

The End