For once it seemed like it would be a quiet morning at Torchwood Cardiff. The team revelled in the boredom. Gwen used the time to have fun with Rhys, Ianto filed, Tosh worked on her latest project, Owen was downing a pint and Jack – who'd run out of ideas – was having target practise downstairs. It seemed too good to be true.
It was at midday when the rift spike struck. Tosh's squeal drew most of the team to her but Gwen had to be phoned. She turned up promptly however, clearly itching for a bit of action.
"What's the problem?" she asked, joining the huddle around Tosh's desk.
"I've just detected a huge energy spike." Tosh replied.
"Where's it coming from?"
"Still trying to find the location. Give me a minute – there you go!"
For a while the team stared at the dot on the digital map, trying to work out in their heads whereabouts it was.
"Oh shit." muttered Ianto.
The group looked at him in surprise but he didn't say anything more.
"Let's go." said Jack. "It's not that far from here."
And with that they headed out to the SUV.
"Can I drive?" asked Ianto. "I know a short-cut."
"Sure." said Jack throwing him the keys.
"What's up with Teaboy?" Owen whispered to Gwen.
It didn't take them long to get there; true to his word Ianto knew a short cut and it was surprisingly efficient. They all got out of the SUV.
"Any idea what we're looking for?" said Gwen.
"Nope." Jack responded.
"Something fast." said Ianto. Once again they all stared at him. "Watch out for its tentacles."
"How come Teaboy here knows what we're dealing with?" Owen asked, turning to Jack.
Ianto rolled his eyes at the use of his nickname.
"I grew up here. It was my first alien encounter." he explained.
Owen's eyes widened in realisation.
"How do we find it?"
"If it's the same creature, it'll find us." Ianto replied grimly.
"Let's make a few house calls." Jack decided. "We can see if anyone's spotted it. Ianto you're with me."
Toshiko cats Ianto a sympathetic glance recognising the 'you're with me' to mean: what have you been hiding?
Ianto set off instantly up the hill. The town was nice and quiet at this time of day. He remembered the wonderful view from his teenage years but his father had never understood it.
As Ianto eagerly sprinted up the road Jack had difficulty keeping up. When he reached the top of the hill he stared out at the Welsh landscape. The combination of hills and houses made Ianto smile. It was every bit as good as he remembered. This place had been his escape; his way out when his father pushed too hard for the hundredth time, for when his sister got on his nerves or for when his mother's nagging reached a climax. On the bright side friends had never been a problem. He didn't have many of those.
Jack cleared his throat loudly to break Ianto out of his daydream.
"It's beautiful but it's not what we're here for."
"Right. Sorry Sir."
Jack groaned internally at the formal address.
"Tell me about the alien."
"I don't remember much. It had this way of messing with your mind."
"What do you remember?" Jack probed.
"It was the creature in the corner of your eye, I didn't notice it until it was too late. It had these amazing black tentacles that stretched out to me. You mustn't let the suckers touch you."
Ianto laughed bitterly.
"With your healing it'll probably fade instantly. I've still got the scars."
He pulled up his sleeve to reveal a ring of sucker shaped burn marks around his arm. Jack winced.
"Point taken." He turned to face the house behind them. "Let's get back to interviewing the locals."
Together the pair approached the flaking red door. Ianto felt nervous but tried not to show it as Jack knocked on the door.
After a few minutes the door swung open to reveal a frail old lady.
"Hello. You'd better not be selling anything."
"No we're not. We just want to ask you a few questions." informed Jack.
"Oh police are you?"
"Not exactly – "
"You look familiar." said the woman, her eyes firmly set on Ianto.
He nodded, not trusting his voice. Jack tried to drag them back on topic.
"Have you seen anything strange today?"
"What kind of strange? There's all sorts of kinds of strange. Do you mean – "
"Have you seen a creature with black tentacles?" Ianto interrupted bluntly.
"Is this a joke?"
"No maim we're completely serious." added Jack.
"Then go away, I don't want loonies at my door." the lady snapped.
Then she slammed the door in their faces.
"She's seen it." said Ianto.
"What makes you say that?"
"I told you, it has a way of fiddling with your mind."
"She didn't remember me."
Ianto turned away from Jack and tried to compose himself as he marched up to the next house. He wiped the tear from his cheek and knocked on the door.
By the time the team rendezvoused Jack was casting Ianto worried glances. The perfect emotionless mask the welshman had mastered was slowly slipping. This place was getting to him.
"Did you find out anything useful?" Jack asked the others.
They shook their heads.
"The most useful bit of information we got was a crazy old bat pointing up the hill." said Owen.
He mimicked the shaky finger. It pointed directly at the first house Jack and Ianto had visited. The pair exchanged glances.
"What did you two find?" questioned Gwen, not missing the meaningful looks.
"The woman who lives," Jack paused to gesture at the house. "up there has seen our alien."
"Great! What did she tell you?"
"Nothing. After a few questions she called us loonies and slammed the door on us."
Ianto smiled despite the fact the woman hadn't recognised him.
"Some things never change." he muttered fondly.
He attracted a few more inquiring looks from the team but Gwen continued.
"Then how do you know she saw it?"
"The creature has a way of messing with your head." Jack explained.
"It can make you hallucinate, or make you forget parts of your life." he added, his mask slipping slightly at the word 'forget'.