Word Count: 2.614
Summary: A nightly swim in the ocean tells the team something new about Ianto.
Characters: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness, Gwen Cooper, Toshiko Sato, Owen Harper
Pairing: mild Jack/Ianto
Setting: Series Two
Warnings: Almost drowning, language
Author's Note: Written for the tw_unpaired challenge, answering wildeagain's prompt: The Team discovers Ianto doesn't know how to swim.
Beta: danian, thank you!
Disclaimer: I'm not making money with this fanfic. The tv-show Torchwood and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.
"I wonder why nobody ever listens to me," Owen said, looking at the dark landscape gliding by beneath them. "Red buttons are evil. And this is why."
The team was standing at the door of a Judoon cargo ship that had crashed in the Brecon Beacons a couple of hours ago just after midnight. Tosh's examination had told them that the ship was still able to fly, and Jack had felt the need to demonstrate how very much like a Porsche the engines sounded, leading to their current predicament.
Jack was leaning against the door frame, a thoughtful expression on his face. At Owen's words, he rolled his eyes. "Well, how was I to know that the ship's on autopilot?" he asked. "How was I to know that we wouldn't be able to turn it off?"
Gwen snorted and glanced away from the outskirts of Cardiff. "You could have just not pushed the button, like Tosh said."
Tosh frowned. "Nobody ever listens to me."
Ianto assured her, "I do."
"Me, too," Gwen said.
"Me, three," Owen added.
"Okay," Jack said, raising his hands defensively. "So it was my fault."
"Yes," all four of them answered.
Owen felt the need to add, "And it doesn't sound like a Porsche at all."
"So," Ianto asked, "what are we going to do now?"
Jack grimaced. "I'd hate to give this baby up. It's a cool ship."
Owen snorted. "Well, considering that that 'baby' is currently taking us for a trip to Germany, then Russia, then America and then back to the good old UK, I'd say – fuck it."
Tosh sighed. "The systems are fried. I can't turn the autopilot off. We'll have to get off the ship and then destroy it with the long-range weaponry before someone notices it. It's a good thing it's nighttime since I can't activate the cloak, either. That way, at least nobody will see us."
Gwen raised her eyebrows. "Wait, we've got long-range weaponry?"
Owen rolled his eyes. "Did you actually read the handbook?"
"What handbook?" Gwen asked.
"The one that has the history of Torchwood in it. The one about our security and weaponry system. The one that Jack made me read three times because I kept forgetting the small things."
Jack protested, "They weren't that small."
"It's absolutely not important which Torchwood agent created the pool in the Hub!"
"That information will save your life one day!"
Ianto interrupted the erupting argument with a raised hand and addressed Owen. "We don't make the newbies read it anymore."
"Why?" Owen asked.
"We lost all the copies in that small fire that broke out in the archives last year – just before Gwen joined."
Owen pouted. "That's unfair."
"Guys," Tosh said, "I really don't want to interrupt, but … I can see the ocean."
"Okay," Jack said, suddenly determined. He looked down at the nightly city and then towards the sea. "I guess we all want to stay in Wales, so let's jump."
"Jump?" Owen echoed.
"Yes. We jump, then we swim to the coast."
Ianto's eyes widened. Gwen gasped.
Owen said, "Your plan sucks."
"Tough," Jack said, "'cause here comes the ocean." He grabbed Owen's arm and pushed him out the door. Owen screamed until he hit the water. Gwen looked at Tosh, then they both nodded at Jack and jumped.
"Jack-," Ianto said.
"Now, Ianto," Jack interrupted him and grabbed his hand.
"Just don't let go," Ianto pleaded.
Jack smiled reassuringly. "We'll need our hands to swim. See you at the Quay."
Then he pulled him over the edge. They hit the water close to Gwen and Tosh. Jack let go of Ianto's hand and followed his team towards the Quay. The coast wasn't far, three minutes and he reached one of the ladders at the piers. Nobody was nearby. A relief. Jack would have hated to explain why there were five people swimming at this time of night – fully dressed.
He climbed the ladder and joined Gwen, Owen and Tosh. They were all breathing heavily, wiping salty water from their faces. The girls started wringing their hair, while Owen was standing doubled-over, his hands on his knees.
Jack grinned. "That was fun."
"Screw you, Harkness," Owen gasped and pushed him. "I hate swimming."
"You're kidding me," Jack said, turning around to look for Ianto. "You have the perfect physique for it." He frowned when he was unable to spot Ianto in the waves rolling towards the Quay. It was dark, but the city lights should have made it possible to see him.
"Where's Ianto?" Tosh asked, coming to stand next to him.
"He jumped with me," Jack answered. "He should have been right behind me."
Gwen toed off her shoes and tried to get the excess water out of them. "Didn't you check?" she asked.
Guilt slammed into Jack and his chest tightened, making it harder to breathe. "No. I just assumed ..." He shrugged out of his sodden coat. "I'm going back."
"I'll come with you," Gwen said, dropping her shoes and pulling off her jacket. He frowned in concern. The last thing he wanted to happen was to lose another member of the team in the dark. Gwen's expression was determined. "I'm a fast swimmer."
"Jack!" Tosh called, alarmed. She pointed to the waves. "There he is."
Owen was standing next to her and now, Jack could see Ianto, gasping for air, struggling to stay above water. And then, Ianto vanished beneath the surface.
"Shit!" Owen said. "I bet it's a cramp."
Jack didn't wait any longer. He jumped back into the water, vaguely hearing Gwen hit the waves after him. The only thought going through his mind was: 'Why did I let go of his hand?'
Owen turned to Tosh. "The Hub's only a few minutes away. You stay here. I'll run and get the SUV."
He turned away, but Tosh grabbed his arm. "No way. What if they come back before you do?" She toed off her wet shoes, apparently not wanting them to slow her down. "I'll run. You stay here, just in case."
Owen nodded. "Right. Get the SUV, as many blankets as you can find, spare clothes and my bag. You need to be quick. Hypothermia's not our friend."
Tosh gave him a reassuring smile and started to run. Owen turned back towards the ocean, fighting the urge to jump into the water. He wasn't a good swimmer, he would only slow them down, maybe even get a cramp himself, and that was the last thing they needed right now. That didn't change the fact that he felt useless.
He couldn't see Ianto, but then he couldn't see the others, either and that was oddly reassuring. He caught a flash of Gwen's pale face, streaked with wet strands of her hair. Then he saw Jack breaking through the surface and he heard Gwen calling something indistinct. Jack nodded at her, before they vanished from sight again.
"Shit!" Owen cursed. He couldn't jump in, because they needed him here, waiting and gathering his strength to be as focused as possible when they found Ianto. That didn't mean he had to like it. "Come on, already."
Gwen coughed, took a deep breath and dived again. She forced herself to open her eyes, but the salty water made them sting and the murky darkness didn't let her see much. She came up for air and spotted Jack a few meters away, frantically looking around him, before diving. She looked around, too, brushed a few strands of wet hair from her face with a shaking hand – she was getting cold – and cursed. It couldn't have been more than two or three minutes since they'd last seen Ianto, but she worried that they were too late.
She caught a glance of something to her left and squinted. There it was again, something blinking, reflecting the lights of the city ... a watch!
"Jack!" she screamed. She didn't check if he'd heard her, just started to swim towards Ianto. When she reached him, his hand was just disappearing under water. She grabbed it and pulled him up and against her. His weight caught her off-balance and she struggled to get them to the surface again. Never before had she had to rescue someone while in the water and she couldn't quite remember what to do. The fact that Ianto started to struggle didn't help. She managed to get them above the surface. Ianto coughed and clung to her, making it difficult to swim. She gasped. "Ianto, I need your help here."
He moaned and coughed again, tightening his hold around her. She was afraid that they would be pulled under again, but two strong arms enveloped her from behind and held her above water. "Ianto," Jack said, "let go of her."
"Can't," Ianto muttered.
"You can. You're pulling her under." Jack's voice was strict and Gwen didn't quite understand why. She felt so tired all of a sudden. "Gwen!" Jack's voice, just as strict as towards Ianto, startled her and she realized that she'd stopped treading water. Hurriedly, she started again. Jack was beside them now and pulled Ianto towards him. Ianto's arms came around Jack's neck and he held on tight, still gasping for air. Gwen wasn't sure he was quite with them. Jack seemed to think the same. He brushed a hand through Ianto's wet hair and addressed Gwen. "Swim to the shore."
"I'm fine," Jack said. His hand brushed her cheek. "Your lips are turning blue. I want you out of the water." She hesitated and he added, "Go. I'm right behind you."
She nodded reluctantly and headed for the Quay.
Tosh grabbed Gwen's arm and helped her onto the pier. Gwen coughed and shook, and Tosh wrapped a blanket around her while Owen knelt next to her. Tosh brushed hair back from Gwen's face. "Where are the others?"
"On their way," Gwen gasped. "Ianto's alive, but … sort of out of it."
Owen muttered, "Yeah, and you're heading for hypothermia. Get in the SUV, the heat's turned up. I want you to take off your clothes and change into the spares Tosh brought, then sit and rest, drink water."
Gwen nodded shakily and Tosh helped her to her feet and with an arm around her waist steered her towards the SUV. Gwen tripped when she tried to look back towards the ocean.
"They're going to be alright," Tosh assured her. "Jack's a fantastic swimmer." She tried to sound comforting, but she couldn't quite pull it off. Her eyes roamed towards the water, too, concern increasing with every second; she heard Owen mutter to himself behind them while he waited.
Jack helped Ianto climb the ladder until Owen could reach Ianto's shaking hands and pull him up. Ianto fell onto the wooden pier with an exhausted gasp, then he started coughing. Owen didn't spare Jack a glance, just bent over Ianto to assess his condition. He was pale and his lips were blue. Jack spread a blanket over Ianto and wrapped himself up in another. "That was close," he muttered. Owen was taking Ianto's pulse when his head slid to the side and his eyes closed.
"Oi, tea boy!" Owen said sharply and grabbed his face. "No falling asleep on the job."
Ianto looked at him blearily. "Coffee?"
Owen shook his head. "Not yet. Maybe later," he muttered and tested Ianto's pupils, before using the scanner on him. "Alright, there's no water in his lungs," he said to Jack, who was crouching beside them, his face worried, "but he's too cold. We have to get him warm. Confusion already set in ..." He looked at Ianto's hands. "He's shaking like a leaf. Shit!" He looked at Ianto's face and noticed that he seemed to have lost consciousness after all. "We have to get him to the Hub." Owen shoved his things into his bag and moved to help Ianto up, but Jack was faster than him, lifting Ianto and walking towards the SUV.
"Show-off," Owen muttered and hurried after him.
Between the four of them, they managed to get Ianto into warm and dry clothes and had him lie down on the couch in the main Hub, buried under several layers of blankets and surrounded by hot water bottles. Ianto woke several times while Owen tended to him, but he always fell asleep again. His body temperature normalized and Owen was able to breathe a sigh of relief. It had been close, but they'd managed to save Ianto. They'd even destroyed the cargo ship: the long-range weaponry system had vaporized it.
It was just after dawn by now and the team was sitting curled up in chairs near the couch while Ianto slept.
"He was lucky," Owen said. "It was dark. We could have missed him. A few seconds later and he would have started to drown, a few minutes later ..." He didn't finish the sentence.
Jack sighed. "I shouldn't have let go of his hand."
Gwen shook her head and put a hand on his arm. "How were you to know?"
"You saved him," Tosh added, smiling, "and Gwen's right, you couldn't have known that he would get a cramp."
From beneath the mountain of blankets, a tired voice said, "It wasn't a cramp."
The team turned to Ianto.
"Hey," Owen said. He shook his head at Jack who was already on his way to the couch and held up his scanner. "Let me have a look first." Jack nodded reluctantly and Owen went to assess Ianto's condition.
Ianto cringed away. "I'm fine."
"Let me be the judge of that," Owen answered, wielding his scanner.
Ianto looked at Jack. "It wasn't a cramp, though. I can't swim."
"What?" Jack was surprised. "You never told me."
"Why would I? It wasn't vital information."
"Until last night," Owen muttered.
"Right," Ianto said. "Until last night." He looked at Gwen. "Sorry by the way for dragging you down with me. I just … panicked."
She smiled. "It's alright. No harm done."
Owen switched off the scanner. "You're fine. But I want you to take it easy today …," he looked at Jack, "... and get a good night's sleep."
Jack pouted. "How come you always look at me when you say that to Ianto?"
"Huh," Owen replied sarcastically. "I wonder why." He stepped back from Ianto. "I'm done. You may now squish your boyfriend."
Jack smiled and sat down next to Ianto, pulling him into a relieved hug, before pressing their lips together. Owen grimaced and turned to the women. "I want to get out of here. Anyone up for breakfast?"
Tosh and Gwen nodded and got up from their chairs to get their things.
"We'll be back in an hour," Owen said, pulling on his jacket. When no answer was forthcoming from the couch, he rolled his eyes. "Make that two."