This story is the result of a suggestion made by Rachel (Unidentified99) and I am grateful for her helpful comments and suggestions as the writing progressed.
Ianto wakes up and finds himself altered.
Little Big Man
When Ianto Jones woke up and found out he was three feet six tall, he raised an eyebrow.
When he looked in the mirror and saw a four year old boy, he was concerned.
When he couldn't reach the shower controls, he was mildly worried.
When he realised he'd have to wear his niece's shorts and sweatshirt to work, he panicked.
But Ianto Jones was resilient. He closed his eyes and took calming breaths and tried to work out what had happened to him. Everything had been normal the night before when he left the Hub, he remembered that, and all he had done when he had arrived home was drink a mug of coffee. Then he had gone to bed and slept deeply, relaxed after a night of passion with Jack. So why had he changed? With a shrug of his shoulders he decided he needed help to work it out, and help lay with Jack which meant a trip to the Hub. Methodically, he stood on a chair and reached down the packet of coffee he had used the night before – Owen would need to analyse it – and put it in a carrier bag with his wallet, watch, mobile, PDA and keys. His niece, Mica, had not left a coat on her last visit, only these shorts, top and a pair of trainers, but luckily it was not raining. If Ianto walked fast he'd keep warm enough. At the front door he had to go back for a chair to stand on to reach the lock. He managed to close the door by pulling on the letterbox.
It was not far to the Hub but Ianto had reckoned without his much shorter legs and the heavy carrier bag. He tired more quickly and his arm ached from keeping the bag off the ground. How did short people manage? The walk seemed at least three times as far as usual. Another unexpected hazard was the curious looks he got from other pedestrians. Four separate women came up to him and asked if he was lost and if they could help him, which was nice of them but he did not need their help, he needed Jack. He managed to escape the women's clutches – discovering a high pitched voice at the same time - but he made sure he did not make eye-contact with anyone else on the rest of his journey. If he looked as if he knew where he was going then people wouldn't bother him he reasoned. He finally reached Roald Dahl Plass and sighed with relief as he crossed to the lift having realised that he would not be able to reach the lock on the Tourist Office door. Standing on the stone slab, he used his PDA to activate the lift and felt himself descend.
Jack Harkness heard the lift descend and quickly straightened up from Gwen's desk. He had been checking through her desk – something he did at least once a week, to her and the others – and did not want to be caught. He looked up as casually as he could, while sliding away from the desk. Then he stopped, open mouthed. A child had breached their security. He ran to the office, grabbed his Webley and ran back to the lift as it settled into its base.
"Stop right there!" He trained the Webley on the child. It did not matter to him what shape or size the intruder was, he had no hesitation about shooting to kill if necessary.
"It's me, Jack. Ianto."
"And I'm the Queen of Sheba. I said stop!" He pointed the gun at the child's head when he made to step off the stone slab.
"It is me, Jack. I woke up like this." Ianto stood with hands held away from his body to show he did not have weapon. "I need your help."
"You could be anybody," countered Jack, unwavering.
"Oh right, I forgot, every pre-schooler wants to break into this hole." Ianto unconsciously raised an eyebrow.
Jack looked at the boy, really looked at him. It was the eyebrow thing, only Ianto ever did that in just that way. Only Ianto looked at him with that mix of disbelief and awe and scorn and love. "Ianto?" he said dubiously.
"Yes, Jack. Now, may I get off the lift so we can talk about this?" He did the eyebrow thing again. When the Webley was lowered, Ianto picked up his carrier bag and half carried, half dragged it off the lift, across the Hub and up the steps to the work area.
Behind him, Jack stood irresolute for a moment then holstered the gun and followed the small boy. He took in the curly dark brown hair that touched the top of the Thomas the Tank Engine sweatshirt, the red shorts that were a little tight and the short legs ending in white and red trainers worn without socks. He stayed back as the boy that may or may not be Ianto put the carrier bag on the coffee table using both hands to lift it up. The child turned and looked at Jack before putting his hand into the bag.
"Hold it," ordered Jack, stepping forward quickly and grabbing the bag. He peered inside and checked for a gun. Then he turned it upside down and emptied the contents on the table.
"Careful," cried the boy, "you'll get coffee everywhere." Ianto meticulously righted the bag of coffee beans and placed the other items tidily on the table.
Jack moved round and sat on the sofa, pulling the boy to stand in front of him. He stared into the child's face. He noted the snub nose, the covering of freckles on nose and cheeks and the deep blue eyes. Screwing up his eyes, Jack looked hard at this face and tried to see if it was indeed Ianto. It could be but Jack could not be certain. Then he remembered something and pulled the shorts down.
"Hey!" protested Ianto, squirming.
Jack did not stop until he had uncovered the boy's right hip and saw the small birthmark that had always reminded him of a red umbrella. "It is you." Jack sat back, still staring at the child. At Ianto.
"Yes, it is. And you could have asked about the birthmark before you molested me." Ianto stepped back and put his shorts back straight. They were rather tight and pulled uncomfortably, probably because they had been designed for girls.
"I don't know. I hoped you'd be able to figure it out."
Ianto kept his face down, hands fiddling with the things on the table. He had got this far by behaving logically given the circumstances in which he found himself but this was crunch time. Would Jack know what had happened? Would he be able to get him back to being an adult? Ianto really did not want to remain a child for long, or to have to spend years growing up again – it had been painful enough the first time.
"Beats me." Jack paused for a moment then smiled. "But you are one cute kid!"
"Jack!" Ianto scowled at him which only made the cherubic face more appealing. "Focus on the problem here. I am not a child. I do not want to be a child. You have to get me back to normal."
"You're right, of course you are," agreed Jack, looking serious for a moment. "Come sit down and we'll talk about it."
"Thank you." Ianto moved round the table and made to sit on the sofa but Jack picked him up and put the boy on his knee. "Jack!"
"What now? You often sit on my knee." Jack was grinning, his arms wrapped round the struggling boy. He continued to hold him until the struggles ceased. "That's better, now tell me what happened." He rested his hand on the boy's back and stroked it up and down. "You were fine when you left here."
Ianto told Jack how he had got home, drunk a cup of coffee and gone to bed only to wake up transformed into a little boy. Jack listened carefully but at the same time he was enchanted with this mini-Ianto sitting on his knee looking so serious. He also thought Ianto's Welsh accent was slightly thicker which delighted him even more.
"So I think it must have been the coffee," finished Ianto, "which is why I brought it in with me."
"Right." Jack brought his mind back to the problem. "We need Owen to analyse it, I'll call him in. He needs to look at you anyway, check you over."
"I suppose." Ianto's heart sank; he dreaded Owen's sarky comments. The doctor was still getting used to being a walking dead man and his temper was volatile to say the least. The rest of the team would also be a trial, thought Ianto. He imagined the women would fuss over him if Jack's reaction was anything to go by. Why did this have to happen?
"Hey, we'll be able to sort this out." Jack hugged the small body, still amazed that this was Ianto. "And if we can't, well, a kid working here is no stranger than a dead man." He moved Ianto from his knee – reluctantly – and stood up. "I'll go call Owen and the others. Get them all working on this." He made for his office.
Ianto stood irresolute for just a moment or two. Then he took his wallet, watch, keys and mobile and went to his desk, just able to reach the drawer to put them away safely. The PDA could stay on the table for now. His first task of a normal day was making coffee for Jack so that was what he would do now. He went to the coffee machine and immediately encountered a problem. The mugs were on the shelf on top with the coffee; he couldn't reach. Looking around, he saw an equipment box and dragged this over in front of the machine and stood on it. Now he could, just about, reach if he stood on tiptoes. The blue and white striped mug was towards the back and his finger tips brushed it but he couldn't get a proper grip. He leant forward a little more but still it was tantalising just out of his reach.
"Careful, little man," said Jack from behind him. He reached over the boy's head and got the mug easily, passing it to Ianto.
"Don't call me that!" Ianto scowled at Jack over his shoulder then turned to the coffee machine. He reached for the coffee but Jack was before him and held it out. "I can manage," said Ianto through gritted teeth.
"Sure you can," said Jack soothingly.
"Don't patronise me, Jack Harkness!" Ianto glared at him.
"I wasn't." Jack stepped back, hands held up in surrender. "Just trying to help. The others are on their way in." He put his hands in his pockets and stood watching as Ianto reached for the taps and made the coffee. He could see the boy was having problems reaching everything but he didn't offer any more help or comments. Just stayed close in case he was needed.
"I don't need an audience," Ianto complained without looking round.
"Okay. I'll be in the medical bay. May as well start analysing the coffee you brought in."
Jack walked off and Ianto breathed more easily. He didn't mean to snap at Jack but this situation was strange enough without him making it worse. Ianto carefully operated the machine, surprised at how much stiffer the taps were. When the mug was full, he carefully lifted the tray with it on using both hands and then realised he couldn't get off the box. He put the tray down and then climbed off the box before reaching for the tray once more. Even making coffee was much more complicated than when he was his proper size. He walked across the Hub, up the steps to the work area, across to the medical bay and then down the curving steps into the sunken area. He was unaware that his tongue was poking out of the side of his mouth as he made these manoeuvres.
Jack looked up when he heard the light footsteps and immediately spotted the tongue and smiled broadly: Ianto this size was just so cute. He wanted to pick him up and cuddle him. One look at the grave expression on Ianto's young face warned him off the cuddle – now was definitely not the time for displays of affection. Ianto needed to be treated as normal, though without the sex, or he may just lose his composure.
"Thanks," said Jack, taking the coffee. He sipped it, relishing the taste. "At least your … smaller stature doesn't affect the coffee. Couldn't be doing with Owen's again."
"I tried to warn you." When Owen had been confined to the base after his 'resurrection' Jack had had him making coffee, a very bad idea all round. Ianto pushed a chair across to the examination table where Jack had set up the analysis of the coffee beans. The Welshman clambered up and knelt on the seat so he could see what was happening.
They were still there ten minutes later when Owen walked in. "What's the big flap, then?" Owen dumped his leather jacket on the railing and walked down the steps into the medical bay. He stopped and did a double take when he saw a child beside Jack. "Who's this?"
"It's me," said Ianto, turning to the doctor with an impassive face.
Owen stared at the boy. "Who are you?"
"How many Welshmen work here?" An eyebrow went up before he turned back to the bench.
"Yeah but you aren't a man, are you?" Owen came nearer, still staring at the boy. Was this really Ianto?
"No, he isn't, and we need you to find out why." Jack straightened from the bench where he had been working. "Ianto went home last night, his usual gorgeous adult self, and woke up like this. Only thing he's ingested is this coffee. I've started the analysis but you need to do a workup on Ianto." He turned to the boy. "Soon as Tosh gets in, I'm going to take her and check your flat. Could have been a gas or some other atmospheric."
"I don't think there was," replied the little boy seriously, ignoring Owen's continued scrutiny.
"Still have to check. Owen, get onto this straight away." Jack bounded up the steps and was gone.
Owen eyed the boy warily and Ianto stared back at him. The two had never been friends, they were too different. "Come on then. If we've got to do this let's get on with it." Owen turned away, reaching for the latex gloves and snapping them on.
Ianto got down from the chair and looked at the examination table; it was too high for him to get onto. He pushed the chair across, climbed up again and then slid from the chair to the table. He looked triumphantly at Owen who had watched the whole process and made no attempt to help.
"Finished climbing, have we?" asked Owen, approaching the table. "You'll be trying Everest next." He deliberately moved the chair away effectively stranding Ianto. "Get your top off."
The examination proceeded in silence. Owen poked and prodded, drew blood and otherwise went about his work with no regard for bedside manner or the sensibilities of his patient. Ianto endured it, forcing his mind to other things. One of the first things he needed to do was get some different clothes. These were too small and inappropriate. While he was dressed as a child that's how he would be treated. He wondered if Jack would take him shopping when he went out with Toshiko.
"Oh look at you!" Gwen had entered the medical bay and was descending the steps. "Ianto?"
"Morning, Gwen." Ianto gave her a small smile.
"I didn't believe it when Jack told me. Ianto, how are you, sweetheart?" She was now standing beside him and had her hand on his bare back, rubbing it up and down. "You're cold. Let me help you put your top back on."
"I can manage!" said Ianto, more loudly than he had intended. He reached for the sweatshirt. "Have you finished with me?" he asked Owen as he pulled the garment over his head. He noticed Gwen's helping hand but ignored it.
"Come and tell me what happened," said Gwen.
Seeing his difficulty in getting down, she put both hands round him and lifted him down. As soon as he was on the floor, Ianto took off up the steps. For a moment he had envisaged her carrying him! He was amazed how high the steps were. It took some effort to climb them and Gwen caught up with him easily and took his spare hand – the other was clutching the chain railing – and 'assisted' him.
"I can manage, thank you, Gwen," Ianto said stiffly, pulling on his hand but not able to get free.
"Don't be silly, these steps are high for a child."
Behind them, Ianto could hear Owen sniggering and that made him even more determined to be independent. He pulled harder and finally got his hand out of Gwen's clutches and proceeded to climb the steps. He was panting by the time he got to the top, from the effort and from indignation, and turned to Jack's office seeking assistance in shaking off Gwen's help. His boss was not there, nor was his greatcoat.
"Where's Jack?" He had meant to ask in a perfectly rational manner but his voice quavered and reflected his inner feelings at being left alone with the sarky Owen and the over-solicitous Gwen.
"He and Tosh have gone to your place. Something about an atmospheric something or other. Come and sit down." She laid a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder to guide him to the sofa.
"No. You'll be wanting coffee." He headed off determinedly to the coffee machine.
Gwen took a step to follow him then stopped. The sturdy little figure and the set way he held his shoulders reminded her of her friend Mary's son when he was trying to be grown up. He needed to try this alone. She stood between the desks and watched him in case he needed help. How had this happened? she wondered. And, more importantly, how were they going to reverse it? Ianto was standing on a box and manipulating the coffee machine that only he seemed to be able to use: she shuddered at the memory of Owen's efforts. The boy looked so cute, from the top of his curly head to his trainer clad feet. It made her long for children. She and Rhys had to find time for 'that' talk sometime soon.
Walking carefully, Ianto brought the mug of coffee and placed it on the table before going to the fridge and pouring himself some milk. Caffeine was not a good idea in his current state. He wriggled his way onto the couch holding the drink, glad he had only half filled it.
"Great coffee," said Gwen, sitting beside him. "So, how are you feeling?"
"You can tell me, Ianto, I'll understand." She placed a hand on his leg which was sticking out in front of him.
"I told you, I'm fine." He pointedly looked from her face to her hand and back again. She removed it. He then told her what had happened, what little he knew, in matter-of-fact tones.
"There's something in the coffee," said Owen from beside them. Neither had heard him approach and they looked round, startled. "Don't know what it is yet." He went to his desk and opened up his PC. "Oh, and that definitely is the tea-boy and he's healthy enough." He turned his back on them, typing on the keyboard.
"Well, that's good news," said Gwen jovially. "We can work out an antidote, no problem."
"Says who?" commented Owen, swinging round. "You got a degree in chemistry I don't know about? We'll probably never isolate whatever it is. Fucking hell, you don't half talk through your arse sometimes."
"That's better than being one! Can't you think about other people for once?"
"No. Got enough troubles of me own." He had turned back to his desk and said this over his shoulder.
"Oh, right. You're so busy wallowing in self pity you can't spare a thought for how Ianto's feeling."
"Small, I should think," retorted Owen with an evil chuckle.
"Make a joke of it, why don't you!?" She was on her feet and standing beside his chair. "We didn't do that when you were killed and brought back. We've been here for you, helping you all the way, supporting you!"
"Haven't noticed you doing much."
"Haven't heard me making a stupid jokes at your expense, have you!?" Her hands were on her hips and she was shaking with indignation.
"Leave me alone." Owen refused to look at her.
"Not until you've apologised to Ianto." She took hold of the back of his chair and swung him round to face the sofa – which was empty. "Where's he gone?"
"Who knows? Now get off me and let me try and find a bloody antidote." He turned the chair and continued typing, feeling better for a good argument. It was about the only thing left to him that made him feel 'alive'.
"Ianto?" Gwen was looking round for the boy, afraid he might hurt himself. "Ianto, where are you?" She ran down the steps to the lower level but could not see him. "Ianto?"
"He's in the archives," said Owen laconically. He had checked the CCTV. A rational scientific approach, he thought, rather than Gwen's touchy-feely shouting and running about.
Wondering how Ianto had managed to get down there so fast, she went through the archway and down the steps to the next level. Walking along the corridor, she headed for the desk where Ianto usually worked and sure enough, there he was. "Ianto, there was no need to run away."
"I didn't. I always spend an hour or so down here at this time." He looked up at her, a strange feeling as he was normally taller than her, and looked at her innocently.
"But …" She didn't finish the sentence. Perhaps he needed this to be like a normal day even though it was far from it for him. Pulling up a chair, she sat at the side of the desk where he was sorting papers alphabetically ready for filing. "Okay. Despite what he said, Owen's working on the analysis. And he's good, he'll come up with something, don't worry."
"Is there anything you do want? Anything I can help with?"
Ianto hesitated. "I need some new clothes, these are not appropriate for work."
"They're a bit tight too. Where did you get them?" She smiled.
"Mica, my niece, left them at my place last time she visited." The girl had got soaking wet in a sudden downpour and had had to go home in one of Ianto's sweaters. "Can you call Jack, see when he'll be back? He can take me to get some new ones."
"No need to wait for him, I'll take you. We can go to Asda, they do a good range of kids' clothes." In her mind's eye, she could see the many rails and shelves full of children's clothes that she had often rifled through just for the pleasure of seeing the tiny garments. She checked her watch. "They'll be open now."
"I'd rather wait for Jack," protested Ianto. "If the stuff was in the coffee, there's nothing for him to do at my flat," he pointed out, "he can come back now."
Feeling a little hurt and very disappointed, Gwen said, "All right. I'll call him." She opened the comms. "Jack, where are you?"
"Ianto's place. Tosh is doing a sweep of the flat, haven't found anything yet."
Jack was standing at the open door of the wardrobe in Ianto's bedroom. He was taking the opportunity to peek into cupboards and drawers usually kept closed to him when the owner of the flat was around. He had already found a small stack of porn magazines and some well-thumbed Rupert the Bear annuals hidden away in the hall cupboard. He'd be able to make a lot of that in weeks to come. From the wardrobe, he had extracted and had in his hands the shortest pair of shorts he had ever seen and a cut off T-shirt. He intended to get Ianto, the adult sized version, into them as soon as possible.
"Owen's found something in the coffee, he's analysing it now. Look, Ianto's got the all clear medically and needs some new clothes. When are you getting back?"
"May as well carry on here, finish what we started." He had not checked the spare room yet. "No need to wait for us, you and Ianto go and get him some stuff. Just make sure it's cute!"
"Okay." Gwen cut the connection. "He says he'll be a while yet and I should take you." She smiled happily and Ianto's heart sank.
How will Ianto survive a shopping trip with Gwen?