This was written for NaNoWriMo 2012. It's complete at 50,700 words. I'll be posting a chapter a day. I hope you enjoy it.
He raced around the corner, hot on the alien's heels. His own feet ached in his new shoes, and grimacing at the pain, he again cursed his affinity for designer suits and fine leather craftsmanship. Just once he'd like to be out on the streets wearing a comfortable pair of trainers and some sweats. But he knew that wouldn't happen. After all, he had an image to maintain.
"Ianto, can you see it?" the voice called through his earpiece.
"Right in front of me, sir," he replied, slightly out of breath. Maybe it was time to hit the gym again. He hadn't been in ages.
"Remember, Ianto, we want this one alive."
He rolled his eyes. He wasn't the one who'd killed the last alien they'd chased. They had Owen's itchy trigger finger to thank for that one. "No sir," he said sarcastically. "I don't remember."
"Are you getting sassy with me? You know I like sassy."
"Oi, Harkness. We can hear you, you know."
Ianto smirked, imagining Owen's look of disgust. He then tried to ignore the ongoing banter in his ear as he pursued the alien, turning another corner and coming up short when he realized he had chased it into an alley with a dead end. The creature was standing in front of a large brick wall, breathing heavily. It hadn't turned around.
"Sorry to interrupt," he said, raising his gun in one hand, "but I've got it cornered."
"Have you pinned down a race, Toshiko?" Jack asked, the sound of feet hitting the ground mixing with the sound of fingers flying over keys.
"Not yet, no. I'm trying to narrow it down." There was a moment of silence from her end before she spoke again. "I can't be sure, but it might be the Raspotahn or the Kelmenicis. Although there may be more possibilities." There was further tapping of the keys. "Ianto, does it have an orange patch on its chest?"
Ianto frowned. "I can't tell. It's facing away from me." He swallowed, then called, "Turn around!"
There was no response from the alien. It simply stood in place, shoulders heaving as it apparently recovered from its run through the city.
"Still nothing," he advised, not taking his gun off the creature. "I'm not certain it speaks our language."
If Ianto could glare through the earpiece he would. "Amusing, sir."
"I was kinda serious."
"What about its legs, Ianto?" Tosh asked. "Is it bowlegged?"
His eyebrow shot up but he took a good look. "No. It has straight legs."
"Is that good or bad, Toshiko?" Jack asked. "I'm almost to you, Ianto."
"Well," she began, fingers silent, "if it were bowlegged and had an orange patch on its chest it would more than likely be the Kelmenicis. However, if there is no orange patch it could either be the Raspotahn or approximately six other alien races."
Ianto sighed, flexing his fingers around the grip of the gun. "Which one is dangerous, Tosh?"
"They could all be dangerous, Ianto," she said, tapping once more at her keyboard. "But they're not all aggressive."
Ianto heard Jack turn the corner but didn't look away from the alien before him. "Sir?"
"We'll have to play this one out," Jack replied, coming to stand beside him. "Owen, we need those tranquilizers. Where are you?"
"Keep your panties on, Harkness. We're just parking the SUV."
"Be very careful with the handling, Jack," Tosh warned. "Two of these races have mildly poisonous saliva."
Jack grinned. "I once had a boyfriend with poisonous saliva. Not only did we have to use protection, he…"
"Did you bring any gloves, sir?" Ianto interrupted. He was quite used to his captain's tendency to speak of his sexcapades, but perhaps now wasn't the best time to discuss them.
"We have some in the back," Owen supplied.
"Grab them," Jack replied. "And face masks, while you're at it."
"Face masks?" Gwen asked. "You mean like gas masks?"
Jack shuddered beside him and Ianto turned his head to look at him, cocking an eyebrow. Jack, however, was still looking straight ahead.
"No, I mean surgical masks. Surely you have some in your kit, Owen?"
"Yeah, I got 'em."
Several moments later the rest of their field team came around the corner. The alien still hadn't moved. Ianto thought that might be a good sign, as maybe it wasn't one of the races that were aggressive. If they got lucky, they might be able to get the creature back to the Hub with no casualties.
Within five minutes Owen and Ianto were carrying a sleeping alien between them and depositing it in the boot of the SUV. They spent the ride back to the Hub listening to Tosh fill them in on the details of the alien races she'd researched. She'd narrowed the window even further, and by the time they arrived at the Hub, she was nearly positive it was the Raspotahn.
Owen helped him move the creature down to the cells, while Jack and Gwen pitched ideas to Toshiko so they could create a cover story for the alien's romp through the streets of Cardiff. It hadn't caused any damage that they were aware of, but far too many people had seen it and they simply weren't comfortable distributing quite that much Retcon.
"It didn't put up much of a fight," Ianto mused, removing his mask and gloves and tucking them into his jacket pocket. He watched the beast through the safety of the barrier.
"Tranquilizers will do that to you."
Ianto smiled. "I meant before we used them. When I cornered it in the alley it just stood there. It never attempted an escape, nor did it attack me."
"Disappointed, Tea Boy?" Owen mocked. "Perhaps you'd have preferred lying in my medical bay, getting stitched up."
"Of course not, Owen," he replied, still smiling. "Just surprised, that's all."
"Yeah, well, better you surprised than dead."
"I didn't realize you cared."
Owen glared and then spun around, heading up the steps. "Don't read too much into it."
Ianto stayed behind, watching the alien sleep on its back in the middle of the concrete floor. There was no orange patch, but then he'd already figured that, given its straight legs. Based on everything they could see, Tosh's assumption of it being a Raspotahn was the best lead they had to go on. If that was correct, it was a solitary creature, non-aggressive. Its only defense was the aforementioned poisonous saliva. It paralyzed its enemies, making escape possible, but it posed them no real threat.
"How'd you get here?" Ianto whispered, frowning. "The rift?"
"More than likely it was brought here by another race," a voice said from behind him. Ianto turned to find Jack standing there, hands tucked in his pockets. "From what I've heard of the Raspotahn, they were made into slaves from an early age and trained for hard labor. If this one fell through the rift it was pretty lucky."
"So that's what we're going with?"
"It's the elongated middle toe that gave it away," Jack replied, nodding toward the sleeping alien. "She said none of the others have that trait."
"Do we know who enslaved them?"
"Quite a few races, actually. Their strength and docile nature were perfect for manual labor. They're the oxen of the universe."
"What are we going to do with it, sir?"
"We'll have to keep it here for now. If whoever enslaved it is out there somewhere, we can't risk them finding it again."
Ianto considered this. "That could make for a very angry owner."
"Not worried about it," Jack replied, lifting his chin. "I've never supported the slave trade and I don't intend to start now."
Ianto nodded, turning back toward the Raspotahn. "Any idea what they eat?"
"They're vegetarians, so leafy veg is probably the place to start."
"I'll need to make a trip to the shops," Ianto said, starting to make a list in his head. "If it's alright I could do that now. Pick up dinner for the team on my way back."
Jack stepped closer, slipping his arms around Ianto's waist. "Always taking such good care of the guests and the team. We really should add 'hospitality extraordinaire' to your list of accomplishments."
Ianto's face remained neutral. "Is that before or after 'exceptional in bed'?"
Jack laughed, pressing a kiss to Ianto's forehead before releasing him and turning to head up and out of the cells. "After, Ianto. Definitely after."
Ianto grinned, following behind the captain at a respectable distance. He headed toward the cog wheel door before second guessing himself and making his way up to the kitchen instead.
"Anyone for coffee before I pick up dinner?" he called out.
A chorus of affirmatives was his answer, and Ianto set about the task, prepping the beans for the grinder before wiping down the machine. Once he'd started the brew he leaned back against the counter and waited.
He went over his mental checklist, deciding on spinach, broccoli, a few types of lettuce, and then a collection of beans and sprouts. If the alien didn't like any of them he would try more unconventional vegetables. He shivered, making a face. He really didn't care for vegetables much himself.
When the coffee was ready he brought each team member his or her cup, narrowly escaping his captain's wandering hands as he placed the mug on his desk. That man would try any tactic to avoid paperwork, especially his mission reports. Ianto figured he'd be completing Jack's as well as his own before the night was up.
Setting out once more toward the exit, Ianto called a goodbye to the team. Now that they had their coffee, however, he only received a reply from Toshiko. He didn't really expect anything different, though. When the team became engrossed in what they were doing it was nearly impossible to pull them away, even for common courtesy.
By the time he'd returned to the Hub with the groceries and several pizzas, the team was gathered in the conference room. How they always managed to know when he was on his way back he'd never understood, but he highly suspected misuse of the CCTV and the tracking of his mobile's GPS.
He set the vegetables on the counter and carried the boxes up, placing them on the table before heading back down for beverages. Once everything was set out he carefully placed his suit jacket on the chair behind him and tucked a napkin into his shirt collar.
"You do realize you constantly provide the fodder for my amusement, right?"
Ianto looked up at Owen as he pulled a slice of pizza from one of the boxes. "Is that so?"
"Yep. Honestly, Ianto, why can't you just take a risk and get messy like the rest of us?"
"Because one of us needs to at least pretend we're professionals."
"And the napkin in your shirt makes you a professional?" Owen quipped.
Ianto rolled his eyes, swallowing his bite of pizza before responding. "It keeps my shirt clean, thus maintaining my professional appearance."
"Are you saying I don't look professional?"
"Well, if the faded jeans and stained shirt fit…"
"Alright, alright. Down, boys," Jack interrupted, holding up his hands. "That's enough. Owen, Ianto likes to keep neat and clean. He wears a suit. There's nothing wrong with that. Ianto, Owen works with alien blood and guts the majority of the time. He can't be expected to stay clean a hundred percent of the time, or to wear a suit like you do. Imagine the dry cleaning bills."
Ianto nodded, taking a sip of his drink. Owen shrugged, digging into his pizza and scowling.
"That's better," Jack said, smiling. "Ianto picked up various vegetables to see whether or not our newest guest likes them. Why don't you tag along after dinner, Owen? I know how much you love to study our alien friends."
"What?" he replied, mouth full of pizza.
"It can be your new pet project. No pun intended."
"You're kidding, right?" Owen asked, swallowing his mouthful and glaring. "Do you know how many reports I've yet to write?"
"I can take a few off your hands, Owen," Gwen offered, smiling. "I'm just about done with my workload today."
"Well bully for you," Owen grumbled. "I can do my own reports, thank you."
"I was only trying to help," she replied. "Feel free to do them yourself, then. I'll just duck out early tonight. Rhys has been after me to catch a movie anyway."
"Owen, you're study of the Raspotahn is important," Jack told him. "Just like your Weevil study. The more we can find out about the alien the better and the quicker we'll be able to assess whether or not he or she can be released into our special population of riftugees. And that's another thing. We need to find out if it's male or female."
Owen sighed loudly. "Fine. But I'm not feeding the bloody thing or cleaning out its cell. I fancy my parts, and don't need poisonous saliva near any of them."
"I'll take care of the feeding and cleaning," Ianto said somberly. "It's what I do."
"And you do it well," Tosh said, smiling. "Thank you for dinner, Ianto."
"Yes, thank you," said Gwen.
"My pleasure," Ianto replied.
When dinner was finished Ianto took the leftovers to the kitchen, before collecting the team's trash and binning it. He then washed and prepared the vegetables, arranging them on a tray with a large cup of water. He slipped his mask and gloves back on, grabbed the tray, and headed down into the cells once more.
The alien was where they had left it, however it was no longer sedated. It sat in the middle of the floor watching him as he approached.
"Hello there," Ianto greeted it, placing the tray on the floor. "Are you hungry? I've picked up quite a few items for you. We weren't sure exactly what items you like to eat, or even if we have them on this planet."
There was no reply from the alien within the cell. It's large, brown eyes watched him carefully, however, and it seemed to be far more calm than earlier that afternoon. Ianto wasn't sure it spoke English. Neither Jack nor Tosh seemed to know for sure.
"Can you understand me?" he asked. No reaction. "That's probably a no, then. Well, just in case, I'm going to open your cell and place this tray inside for you."
He proceeded to do just that, and the alien remained where it sat. He left the tray by the door, waiting and watching. The Raspotahn never moved, still watching him.
Ianto waited for nearly half an hour before deciding it best to leave the alien alone. He suspected it didn't want to eat in front of him, preferring to keep its eyes on a potential threat at all times. As he made his way back up into the Hub, he heard the tray move and smiled. CCTV confirmed his suspicions as he stood with Jack in his office and watched the alien devour the entire array of food.