Notes: The full oneshot for #25 out of 'Snapshots of Smiles'. Requested by Screeching Dragon and Paraxenos.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
Obviously, they all knew how dangerous an enraged weevil could be. They were big, and strong, and two hundred pounds of sharp teeth, muscle, and complete lack of fear. That didn't make for a great fight even in human terms, and human teeth couldn't bite through someone's humerus.
The problem was that studying them, and their semi-tame Janet, sometimes made the team a little complacent about weevils. Looking back, Jack realised it should never have gotten to the point when a weevil-alert was just a weevil-alert.
Also, looking back, Jack would have suspected some divine intervention if he was at all a religious man. Things had been quiet recently, so he had taken all the team bar Tosh out to this particular weevil alert, despite the fact that it was probably only the one weevil. He couldn't really remember his reasoning, but...whatever it had been, it had saved Ianto's life from the initial danger.
And that phrase still brought a chill to his spine.
Their weevil was in an alley, rooting through dustbins, and not behaving very much like a weevil. Firstly, despite outweighing any human Jack knew of and armed better than most, weevils didn't actually really like humans. They didn't like to come near them. That night, that alley, that weevil, had no such inhibitions.
It had gone for them with the fury of a raging bull.
A two-hundred pound weevil flying towards you at a good twenty miles an hour is terrifying; more so when it shrieks and snarls like a madman. Naturally, gunshots were the response.
And Ianto fired first.
Maybe that was why he was targeted, maybe he was just obvious, maybe the weevil didn't like his tie. But one minute they were firing at - and most worryingly, hitting - that weevil, and the next, Ianto and weevil had gone down in a tangle of limbs, teeth, blood and screaming.
And Jack...Jack had frozen.
Frozen. Solid. He stood and he stared, the screams bypassing some part of his brain and echoing in his skull, and all he could think was this is it. Ianto Jones was going to die; Ianto bloody Jones was going to be slaughtered in a dingy alley in the seedy side of Cardiff, ripped apart by an enraged alien primate.
The gunshot interrupted his panic.
Gwen had managed, despite its movements, to shoot it in the head, and no amount of pain resistance or illness was going to keep it alive. It slumped, and Owen tore it from Ianto and flew into medic-mode faster than Gwen had fired.
"Jack, snap the fuck out of it!" someone yelled - probably Owen - and Jack jerked.
Owen had torn his own shirt off, clamping it down over Ianto's chest, while Gwen ran for the car, dropping her gun in the dirt like it was meaningless. Owen was yelling, at Jack, at Ianto, at Gwen, at nothing in particular, while his hands and shirt flooded red.
"Fucking hell, Jack, move!" Owen bellowed. "Shirt off! Give it here! He's going to bleed out on me if we don't hurry!"
That moved Jack, who ripped off his shirt and threw it to Owen, flinging himself down by Ianto and slapping his face ineffectively, trying to get those rolling blue eyes to focus.
"Ianto, stay with me, Yan, stay with me, you have to stay with me..." he babbled, trying desperately to tune out Owen's swearing, which seemed to get desperate to slip between two different languages.
"Gwen's getting the car and the med kit," Owen gasped. "Jesus, it must have hit an artery, I can't even see the wounds..."
"Ripped...oh God, my ribs..." Ianto hissed, and Owen groaned.
"What?!" Jack demanded.
"I think he means it's torn a chunk of flesh off," Owen said, then swore again. "Fuck! Gwen, hurry!"
The tyres of the SUV screeched up at the entrance to the alley and Gwen barreled out, throwing the med kit to Owen and taking over the compression of the makeshift pad of shirts.
"Hey, Ianto, you still with us?" she asked, calm and soft, and Jack was suddenly grateful for her police training.
A shaking hand latched onto Jack's, and he gripped back, stroking back Ianto's hair and talking to him, trying to coerce a response. But as Owen hurriedly slapped gauze onto the worst wounds and strapped Ianto as best he could, those eyes fell shut and Jack was forced to rely on the hand still gripping his tightly to remind him not to panic.
But as they began to move Ianto into the back of the SUV, and Jack glanced back at the alley, the amount of blood made him feel sick.
Tosh almost leapt out of her chair towards them when the lift deposited the men down on the floor of the Hub and they rushed Ianto into the autopsy bay.
"What happened?!" she gasped.
"Weevil," Owen grunted. "Fucking mad weevil!"
"Where's Gwen?" she demanded.
"Sent her back to get the body," Owen said, then glared at Jack. "Jack, move! I need to get to work!"
He practically shoved Jack out of the autopsy bay before calling a calmer Tosh to help him and snapping on gloves.
"Right, you Welsh bastard, don't you dare die on me," he growled.
Two hours later, Gwen sat down beside Jack on the sofa. They were both tired, drained, and worried, and she gave him a brief hug before whispering:
"How is he?"
"Don't know," Jack muttered. "Owen says it's not good, but he hasn't stopped, so..."
"Owen's a prick, but he's a clever prick," Gwen said.
"Better be," Jack whispered. "Fuck, Gwen, a weevil nearly tore him open. How the hell are we getting so complacent about them?"
"Because that weevil was utterly nuts," Owen said, emerging from the autopsy bay, glove-free and washed from what was probably impromptu surgery.
"Is he...?" Jack breathed.
"Alive, for the moment. I've got him on blood and antibiotics, because hell if he hasn't picked up something from the filthy animal," Owen shrugged. "It literally ripped a chunk of flesh off; I could almost see the third and fourth ribs. That should grow back without too much problem, but it'll scar like hell."
"Better than dead," Jack snapped.
"Yes. He got his arm in the way of the teeth and his chest as well, so his right arm is very broken and chewed up, but it probably stopped the thing getting to his heart and lungs. Which it would have done, if we hadn't killed it."
"I put it in one of the spare freezer drawers," Gwen said. "Thought you might want to cut it up."
"I will," Owen said grimly. "That isn't normal weevil behaviour."
"But Ianto's going to be alright?" Jack demanded, staying stubbornly on-track.
"Possibly. He's not going to bleed to death, but Jack, the weevil, the alley, and our shirts weren't exactly germ-free. He's weak, and if he picks up a nasty infection now, he won't be able to fight it properly," Owen said seriously. "And I'm sorry, but there really isn't anything I can do about that."
Owen was right. By that evening, Ianto was running a fever, and Owen elected to keep him drugged into oblivion. They got a campbed up in the conference room and set him up there, where it was warmer, more comfortable, allowed someone (mainly Jack) to sit with him and let Owen get on with other things - like examining the weevil.
The bandages needed changing every day, and the wounds washing, and Jack saw on the second day the bloody, pulpy mess that was left of Ianto's left shoulder, right arm and upper left chest. It made him feel ill, and he had to leave the room while Owen looked after Ianto those times.
For six days, a raging fever gnawed at Ianto's body. He tossed and turned even drugged, until Owen was forced to keep him two steps to the left of permanently stoned to keep him still. Owen stopped leaving the Hub at night, camping on the sofa to catch sleep, and Jack stopped sleeping entirely.
Ianto's hand wasn't gripping back anymore.
The litany that had started up when Ianto had first been attacked was returning - a running loop of this is it, this is it, this is it...
That wasn't it.
On return from an outing to catch more weevils - much more carefully than the last time - Jack hurried up to the conference room to find Ianto awake (barely) and talking to Owen (barely). He made a noise that sounded like a sob, even to him, and Owen rolled his eyes.
"Broody's back," he told Ianto. "I'll go get you some more water. Feel free to doze off anytime, you know, he'll just stay here."
"I know," Ianto managed.
"He's going to be okay?" Jack whispered as Owen passed him.
"On the way up," Owen nodded, and departed, leaving Jack to stagger back to the little campbed and grip Ianto's hand in his.
The returning grasp was tight and sure, even if Ianto did fall asleep halfway through their conversation.
Almost six months on, Jack still looked back with regret and anger over the whole sorry situation. The scars were still raw and vivid on Ianto's torso and arm, and the Welshman was still a bit twitchy about weevils. Gwen had had to take over Janet-feeding duties for a bit.
Jack was twitchy too, but nobody really minded too much if he kept a close eye on Ianto out in the field, or if he insisted more forcefully than usual on doing alien-catching himself. And Ianto didn't complain about the times Jack took his hand and held it, just for the sake of doing so, because he knew what Jack was looking for.
That tight, confident grip that said I'm still here.