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Torchwood Five

I don't write fan fiction anymore. Except when I do, obviously. Having given it up last year, for various reasons, I've mostly stuck to my guns. Then somebody told me about a challenge over on one of the Torchwood communities here at LJ, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the show's first episode, and I couldn't resist. It's Torchwood's fifth birthday! There must be bouncing and parties. Possibly balloons.

Don't expect any great literary merit here. This is written solely to celebrate some of the things that first made me fall in love with the show, quite some time before it actually aired. So do expect Jack, and a long, flappy coat - and a longer and flappier pterosaur. Or five.

Well what's the point of fan fiction if you can't fill it with giant, extinct reptiles?

PS: I have no idea what the relevant community is, should you be searching for partying and challenges. Not one that I'm a member of, but another one. Somewhere. Sorry, that's not terribly helpful, is it.


A TALE OF FIVE PTEROSAURS

In the depth of the night, a wind blew across Cardiff. It chased itself through the streets, and nipped at the tails of the rats that lurked in the alleyways. In the sewers the Weevils growled at the sound of it, sniffing at the new scents that it brought to the air; but the humans knew nothing of it. It was a wind that no human could detect. No human save one.

Jack Harkness felt the wind. He stood on the highermost point of Altolusso, watching over the city that had become his adopted home, and he felt the change as it crackled through the air. To him it was like a charge of static electricity, teasing the hair on the back of his neck, whispering secrets that had travelled through every corner of the universe. It was the voice of the Rift, blowing its flotsam and jetsam out into the world, sucked up from an infinity of nooks and crannies across all existence. Jack had seen so much fall through the Rift. Monsters that could tear a man in half with scarcely an effort; flowers like living jewels, grown on worlds that nobody on Earth would ever see. Whatever it was that came through tonight, however dangerous, however beautiful, however alien, he had a duty to find and contain. Cardiff stood like a cork in a bottle; a bottle containing enough nightmares to destroy a million worlds. It was Torchwood's job to see that the bottle never cracked; and it was Jack's duty to lead their way. Standing far up above the city, he tilted his head and listened, waiting for the moment that he knew was about to arrive.

It burst into life above him - a whirlpool of alien light, shining from some other place, some other time. Sparks flying off the universe, raining down onto an oblivious city. Wider and wider spread the light, the air itself was torn in two, and the Rift blew out a breath. For a moment Jack could see straight through, to some other sky, some other world; could see the clouds and the great orange burn of a distant sunset - then from out of the portal came the flicker of shadows. Creatures, four of them, borne on long, dark wings, flying out of the Rift and into Cardiff. Above him they wheeled, equilibrium lost, shouting to each other in their curious, throaty voices. Four huge creatures that had no place in Cardiff. Four huge creatures that had no place anywhere on Earth.

And below them, standing on the roof of Altolusso, Jack Harkness was grinning like a child on Christmas morning.

**********

"Ianto!" There was no answer from inside the flat. Jack had tried knocking on the door, banging the letterbox, and even running back outside again, and throwing gravel at the windows. Aside from getting a glare from the old woman who lived a floor beneath, that had accomplished nothing. Consequently Jack was back outside the front door, calling through the letterbox in the persistent fashion of a drunken Jehovah's Witness on Armageddon's Eve.

"Ianto!" He was getting louder. Soon enough, the old lady in the flat below would call the police; and then Jack would either have to rely on his charm - never the best idea at gone half past two in the morning, when it was a case of Torchwood versus Cardiff's finest - or he would have to hide in the caretaker's cupboard. Jack didn't like the caretaker's cupboard. The ten-legged Maltrusian rodent that was nesting in the wall didn't especially like Jack, either. It had a tendency to bite, and often. Rattling the letterbox until the flap threatened to come off in his hand, Jack leant close to the gap, and yelled far more loudly than was sensible.

"Ianto!"

"Jack..." The voice of his young associate, drowsy with sleep, was welcome for all kinds of reasons. The sound of slow, half-stumbling footsteps came to him across the hall carpet, and a moment later the door rattled and opened. Ianto glared at him, from eyes that did not look as though they wanted to be open. Jack smiled cheerfully.

"Morning, tiger."

"Jack, it's..." Ianto peered at the clock on the wall, "a quarter to three. A quarter to three am. I left work barely an hour ago. Some of us need sleep." He fell silent, blinking his bleary eyes down at his still crouching employer. "What's going on?"

"Oh, you know." Straightening back up, Jack brushed out the creases in his long coat, in what he hoped was a dramatic fashion. "Stuff."

"If that's a euphemism, I don't want to know. Not at a quarter to three in the morning." Ianto fought off a yawn. "Do you want coffee?"

"No time for that." Jack swished off his coat, swinging it gallantly around Ianto's paisley pyjama-clad shoulders. "Worlds to save. Monsters to catch. Civilians to protect." He guided the younger man over the threshold and into the corridor, just as an approaching police car sounded its siren out in the street. "Policemen to hide from. No time to lose."

"But..." But the door of the flat was swinging closed, and Ianto did not keep a spare set of keys in his pyjamas. He groaned. "Jack! The door! My keys..."

"I'll get you back in again later." Jack tapped his wrist strap, in a manner that absolutely did not bode well for Ianto's future privacy - or for the security of any locked door in Cardiff. "Come on."

"Monster hunting?" They were in the lift in seconds; and then, a few moments later, Ianto was being bustled through a side door. Jack was grinning widely, and as he ushered his companion out into the open air, he pointed skyward, to where four dark shapes wheeled and swooped.

"Well, when I said monsters..." he clarified, with a devilish glint in his eye, "I kinda may have been exaggerating a little." Ianto's mouth dropped open.

"Actually, Jack, I rather think those are monsters. Bloody hell!"

"I rang Tosh." Jack was striding ahead, peering carefully around the edge of the building in search of any policemen who might be searching for him. "And I rang Owen. He didn't sound very happy. Something about twins, and edible chocolate paint, and me having to extract my head from somewhere painful, but I think he's coming." The coast was clear, and reaching out to grab a fistful of finest RAF blue, Jack hurried Ianto on around the corner, to where Torchwood's giant black SUV was parked at the kerb.

"Is this really a good idea?" asked Ianto, as he was guided into the passenger seat with more haste even than was usual for Jack. "Do we have the right equipment?"

"Of course we've got the right equipment." Jack slid across him into the driver's seat, and started up the engine. "Always be prepared. Rule one of Torchwood."

"Maybe. It's just that some things are a little easier to prepare for than others." Fastening his seatbelt, Ianto leaned forward to peer out of the windscreen, up to where the four great shapes still circled above them. "It's almost like they're looking for something. If they get hungry--"

"They're not hungry. They're just looking for a little company." Jack started the engine, revving it with his customary zeal. Ianto shot him a look.

"Irresistible though you may be to most life forms..."

"Not me." Jack frowned, eyeing the sky with a speculative expression. "Although that's not to say that I couldn't, if I really put my mind to it."

"Jack..."

"They're actually after this." By means of demonstration, Jack leant out of the window, pressing a button on his wrist strap. A frightful shriek blasted from some hidden speaker, destroying the peace of the quiet neighbourhood. Ianto jumped.

"What the hell was that?!"

"Think about it. You've lived with her long enough." Settling back into the seat, Jack pulled the SUV away from the kerb, heading back out towards the main road. "Figured we'd keep them interested with this, lead them to some quiet, out of the way place, and then nab them."

"And then we're going to do... what exactly? Put them in the boot? I know you picked the model with the best available luggage space, but even with my packing, I don't think we're going to fit four gigantic pterodactyls in the back of the car!" Ianto sighed, and dropped back into his seat. Clearly he could see that his protestations were getting him nowhere. Jack was intent upon his plan. "You sure we've got everything we need?"

"Net," said Jack, as though ticking off items on a mental checklist. "Extra large and reinforced. Tranquilliser gun, with enough darts for a thousand pterodactyls."

"Don't tempt fate," Ianto told him, in the stoic tone of voice of one who was doing his best not to get caught up in the enthusiasm. Jack's answering grin did not help.

"And chocolate," the captain finished, before slamming on the brakes so hard that Ianto had every reason to be grateful for the existence of seatbelts. "Good and dark. That same fancy brand you like." He fluttered teasing lashes. "That way I figured I might catch you as well."

"Much though it pains me to admit it, I think you already have." Ianto looked about, frowning. "Why did we stop?"

"Reinforcements." Jack nodded out of the window, to where Tosh's car was parked at the side of the road. Owen was leaning against it, pointedly ignoring the sky, and Tosh and Gwen were both sitting inside. Ianto glared out of the window.

"How come everybody else got time to dress?"

"Everybody else answered their phone," Jack told him. Ianto switched his glare to his employer.

"Everybody else wasn't up until past one, cross-referencing alien artefacts," he pointed out. Jack shrugged.

"I offered you a bed for the night. You could have had maybe an hour's extra sleep that way."

"If I'd stayed the night, I wouldn't have got any sleep at all."

"True." Unrepentant, Jack turned to welcome the others. "Hey. Sleep well?"

"Until somebody rang me up, yes." Gwen climbed into the back seat, looking approximately as cheerful as Owen. "This is going to look great in the morning paper. Surely somebody's going to notice four bloody great dinosaurs flapping about over Cardiff?"

"They're not dinosaurs," said Ianto, through a yawn. "They're pterodactyls."

"Actually they're pteranodons," put in Tosh. "And there's five of them, not four."

"What?" said Jack, staring up at the sky.

"What?" echoed Ianto, craning his neck to see. Sure enough, a fifth creature had joined the other four, and with a shriek of welcome, it began to lead the other four away across the city. Jack's shoulders slumped.

"Damn," he said, and leaned back in his seat. "Well that kills that plan."

"There was a plan?" asked Owen, with the air of a man who had many reasons to doubt that there had ever been one of those. Jack nodded.

"Play them a recording of Myfanwy. Get them to follow us somewhere convenient. I hadn't figured on her showing up and cutting out the middleman." He gave Ianto a glare. "Did you leave the skylight open again?"

"Oh, right. It's my fault. I'm sitting in the middle of Cardiff, in my pyjamas, with a sky full of extinct reptiles, and obviously I'm the one to blame." The younger man sighed. "Follow them, Jack. Quickly. We've still got the chocolate. We might still be able to salvage this."

"Oh, great." Owen slammed the rear door closed, sealing them inside. "Cardiff's about to get attacked by a flock of giant carnivores, but it's okay because we've got chocolate. I know you lot like to look on the bright side, but that one's a bit absurd even by your standards."

"Pterodactyls like chocolate," said Ianto stiffly, with an air of wounded pride. Behind him Tosh was busy with her palmtop, navigating her way through the emergency services' logs, in search of any reports on their flying intruders.

"Myfanwy does, anyway," she added. "We don't actually have any data on her species as a whole. This could be a useful opportunity to make a study."

"I don't recommend submitting the report to Cardiff University," Owen told her. Jack turned around in his seat to glower at the lot of them.

"Can we save the squabbling until later? This is supposed to be fun. When was the last time we got to chase pterodactyls? When was the last time anybody got to chase pterodactyls? Lighten up."

"Shouldn't we make a move, Jack?" asked Gwen. He shrugged.

"No hurry. My wrist strap will find them easy enough."

"Before they get seen by half the inhabitants of Wales?" inquired Ianto. Jack frowned.

"Good point." He pulled the car back out into the road, pointing it approximately east. "And it was 1978, in case you were wondering. Passaic, New Jersey."

"What was?" asked Owen. Jack smiled at him in the rear-view mirror.

"Last time anybody chased pterodactyls. That I know of. I'd gone there to catch the E Street Band in concert. Long way to go for a night out, but what's the point of living through history if you're not gonna catch the big dates?"

"You chased pterodactyls with the E Street Band?" Owen voiced the question in a tone that suggested he was already regretting having asked. Jack shook his head.

"They'd left the theatre by then. Which is a shame all round. There's not a member of that band I'd say no to in a hurry, that's for sure."

"We don't want to know," Ianto told him. Jack grinned and sped the car up, one eye on the sky as he drove.

"Reports are coming in from the public," said Tosh, with her usual talent for getting the conversation back on topic. "Two people claim to have seen several dinosaurs flying north-east. Both were calling from outside night clubs, though. That should help to discredit their testimony." She shook her head with exasperation. "Dinosaurs. Honestly."

"If we have to drop by later and retcon them, you can put them straight then." Jack spun the wheel again. "And north-east we go. What's north-east of here?"

"Wales," said Owen unhelpfully. Tosh tapped away at her palmtop.

"They could be headed for farmland," she suggested. "Myfanwy has some favourite hunting grounds outside the city. She might be taking them out there."

"Are pterodactyls really that hospitable?" asked Gwen. Ianto sighed.

"I hope not. It's hard enough covering things up when she grabs a lamb. If she's planning on throwing a party, we'll have to retcon every sheep farmer in South Wales. Hurry up and find them, Jack."

"Give me a moment." Driving one-handed, which caused Ianto to dive for control of the wheel, Jack flipped open his wrist strap and leaned out of the window. He returned in a symphony of electronic beeping, his wrist awash with blue light. Gwen eyed him with interest.

"Can that thing really hunt down pterodactyls?" she asked. Jack nodded.

"Like I was telling Ianto earlier. Always be prepared, that's my motto."

"I thought it was 'Never say no to anything in a uniform'?" piped up Owen. Ianto fired off a dirty glare in his direction, and Jack laughed.

"That too."

"So does it just have a thing for pterodactyls?" continued Gwen, as though the interruption had never happened. "Or does it pick up any passing dinosaurs? Not that pterodactyls are dinosaurs, obviously," she added hurriedly, when Tosh looked about to intercede. Jack typed something into the device, causing a small, blue, holographic pteranodon to flap briefly over the front seats.

"I live with a pterosaur," he pointed out. "Pays to keep an eye on her. I've never had much call for a full scale Mesozoic alert system."

"I could probably build one," offered Tosh. Ianto jumped in quickly when it looked as though Jack might be about to accept.

"Anyway," he said with meaning, and gestured to the wrist strap. "Somebody was saying something about a plan." Jack took the hint, flipping the strap cover closed, and reclaiming the neglected steering wheel.

"Okay, everybody. Hold on to your hats." Mind back on the job, he stamped hard on the accelerator, speeding them up and sending them on their way towards the edge of the city. Occasionally they caught glimpses of the creatures against the sky, but it was soon clear that they were trailing badly behind. Jack grumbled as he drove, railing against the expanding metropolis, and muttering about how much easier it had been to chase monsters before the city had grown so large.

"I'll have a word with the county council," offered Ianto soothingly, as a road that was intended to be a shortcut came to an abrupt halt right in front of a new housing development. Jack slammed the car into reverse, sailing backwards at a speed that should have been impossible.

"Somebody ought to have a word with somebody," he growled, and swung them around in a one hundred and eighty degree turn that caused some wild shrieking from the tyres, and quite probably left half of their rubber on the tarmac. "How am I supposed to head north-east when people keep changing the roads?"

"We need a Torchwood jet," said Owen, leaning almost entirely out of the rear window in an effort to keep their quarry in sight. Myfanwy had sped up, however, leading her visitors beyond the reach even of the alien binoculars that he was using.

"That would be subtle," muttered Tosh. Gwen glanced up from a scanner device that she was not entirely sure how to operate.

"We're Torchwood. We don't really do subtle," she pointed out. "With the best will the world, we left the speed limit behind miles ago, and we're whizzing about town right now in a huge, black truck."

"With bright blue lights all over it," put in Owen, from outside. "Right, Jack. Go right at this next turning."

"Pretty sure that's not allowed," said Ianto, only for Jack to spin the wheel in that direction anyway.

"You can't be expected to follow the Highway Code when you're chasing monsters, Ianto. If there'd been a one-way system in 1912, there wouldn't even be a Cardiff right now." Jack spun the wheel again, with his usual gusto. "Or a South West England either, for that matter."

"Do I want to ask?" asked Ianto. Jack flashed him a smile.

"Probably not. Eldrantian slime beast. Look it up some time. Not pretty." He spun the wheel again, clipping a kerb, and sending several Weevils slinking away into an alley. "And praise be, I think we're getting somewhere. Any police reports on us, Tosh?"

"Several," she answered, in a tone of voice that suggested the real figure was probably in the hundreds. "I've got our computers liaising with theirs, though. They think they're after a blue Ford Escort with false license plates."

"I should give you a raise," he told her, and she smiled faintly.

"I could probably give myself one whenever I wanted."

"I don't doubt it." He wrenched the wheel again. "Okay, folks. Nearly at the city limits. Once it gets quieter, there's more chance of Myfanwy and her buddies flying lower. They'll start looking for prey."

"They won't go for people, will they?" asked Gwen. Tosh shook her head.

"They don't have the mass for large prey like that. They're actually supposed to eat fish, at least as far as we know. It's just that nobody seems to have told Myfanwy that."

"She has a taste for lamb," said Ianto. "Like Tosh said, she usually makes for farmland, but there's no telling when those other four last ate. They might not be willing to wait that long. If we're lucky they'll stop sooner, and then we can use the tranquillisers and... and do whatever it is you do with rogue pterodactyls. Where did they come through into our time exactly?"

"A portal opened up above Altolusso," said Jack, slowing down a little as the rear lights of another car appeared ahead. Gwen looked up from her scanner again.

"In the air? So how are you planning on getting them back through it? Giant catapult?"

"Maybe Myfanwy can lead them." He shrugged. "We should probably give her the chance to go home. She might prefer it."

"I doubt it," said Owen, rejoining them inside the car. "No Kentucky Fried Chicken in the Mesozoic. No pizza, either."

"Which is probably a good reason to send her back there." Tosh shook her head, clearly unimpressed with the notion of feeding junk food to extinct species. Owen laughed.

"Try telling her that. Still, at least she'd be warmer back there. I'm freezing my 'nads off hanging out that bloody window."

"Nobody will miss them," Gwen told him. He shot her a withering look, and Jack glared at them all in the mirror.

"Children... Hunting pterodactyls, remember? This is supposed to be fun."

"They're pteranodons," muttered Tosh, then jumped as a loud scream rent the air. "Oh dear."

"S'okay. Not human." Jack sped up again, his wrist strap radiating a veritable discotheque of blue light as the scream came again, louder this time. Holographic pteranodons launched themselves out of his wrist, and he slapped at the strap in an effort to shut them off. "There!" Sure enough, up in the sky they could see one of their targets, flapping about almost directly above them, and squabbling loudly with an owl. "Must be hunting for rodents. Okay, everybody. Action stations." He slammed on the brakes, depositing Owen on top of Gwen, and Gwen almost on the floor, whilst showering Tosh with medical paraphernalia. Before anybody could ask him what their action stations were supposed to be, he was out of the SUV, and running around to the rear. Ianto followed more slowly, watching him prepare a tranquilliser rifle.

"I can't see the other four," he mused. Jack shook his head.

"Probably split up. Maybe this one was hungrier than the others." He levelled the rifle, then lowered it to look back at Ianto. "Is that a word?"

"Close friend to grammar though I usually am, right now I'm not sure that I care." Ianto pointed skyward. "Shoot the pteranodon, Jack. Quickly."

"Yes sir." Jack snapped off a shot, and a moment later, with a startled squawk, the huge creature began to descend. It landed awkwardly a few feet away, and Owen came to help as they manhandled it back towards the SUV. It was no mean feat to manoeuvre it onto the roof, where it lay, inconveniently large, as they tied it down. Its huge head hung down over the top of the windscreen, and its long wings stuck out on either side. Owen frowned.

"Awkward buggers, aren't they. Be a lot easier just to kill them."

"Don't you dare." Jack headed back for the driver's door. "Nobody's ruining my evening with bullets. Anyway, they're an endangered species. Look on this as protecting Cardiff's valuable biodiversity."

"They're extinct," Owen told his retreating back. Ianto shrugged.

"Can't get much more endangered than that," he pointed out. "Come on. Four more to go."

"Yeah. They're going to look great balanced on top of this one." Owen climbed back into the car, and as Ianto closed the passenger door, they sped off again. "Which reminds me. Anybody keeping an eye on the local traffic? There were lights ahead of us a little way back. There's no telling what the driver saw."

"We can't track every car in South Wales," said Gwen, then frowned. "Can we?"

"In theory," supplied Tosh, without looking up from her work. "In practice it's a little complicated. I'd prefer to do it back at the Hub, with a proper keyboard to work from. Jack?"

"Relax. If they'd seen anything, they'd probably still be sat back there gawking." Jack held his wrist strap out of the window again, and gave it a hopeful shake. "Right now I have other priorities. Anybody see anything? At all?"

"Not a dicky bird," said Owen. "Except for the one on the roof, obviously."

"It's not a bird," corrected Tosh, apparently more or less by force of habit. "Is it all right up there, Jack? What happens if it wakes up?"

"Nothing, if Ianto tied his knots right." Jack grinned. "Which he usually does."

"No comment," put in Ianto. "And your wrist thing's chirping. Action stations?"

"No." Jack shook his arm again, and held the device to his ear. "I think having one on top of us is confusing it. I need to recalibrate the scanner, and I can't do that while I'm driving."

"That's encouraging." Ianto's tone was, as usual, perfectly dry. "Should we think about panicking?"

"I doubt it. They can't get all that far ahead." The road beneath their wheels became rather more bumpy, as they left the better cared for city streets behind them. Jack had to return to two-handed driving, somewhat reluctantly. "I wouldn't worry unless they fly over the English border. The English have far less of a sense of humour than the Welsh."

"Oi," protested Owen. Gwen patted him on the head.

"There there. Ianto might have a point, though, Jack. The others could have flown anywhere, and if we're heading in the wrong direction, we could lose them in no time."

"I guess. Okay, everybody. Hang on." Jack sped up again, roaring up the narrowing road until the red glow of tail lights once again loomed out of the darkness. He pointed towards them. "There's our friends again. We wondered if they saw anything. Maybe they did."

"You're never going to ask them?" protested Tosh. Gwen winced.

"She's right. No offence, Jack, but subtlety isn't exactly your middle name."

"We've already covered the subtlety thing," said Owen. "Huge black car with flashing blue lights, remember? Also with an unconscious not-dinosaur strapped to the roof. I don't think Jack is our biggest issue right now."

"Either way, let me do the talking." They were drawing up alongside the other vehicle, which proved to be a mud-splattered Land Rover. Leaning across Owen, Gwen rolled down the window and waved, and a moment later both cars bounced to a halt. A rather wary looking woman in work clothes looked back at her; or rather at their mercifully still asleep passenger. Gwen smiled.

"Evening. We're from the BBC. We were wondering if you might have seen one of our remote-controlled models? Like the one on the roof? Only it seems to have gone a little astray, you see, and they're worth rather a lot of money."

"BBC, is it." The woman had a mildly frosty air about her, as though carrying an unspoken grudge. "Not Torchwood, then?"

"Er... Well it's the same thing, really," supplied Gwen rather hurriedly. "Torchwood is an independent production company assigned to the BBC." The woman nodded.

"Of course it is, love. Your remote-controlled model and its friends are heading north. And you can tell the BBC from me that if my husband and I lose any more lambs to it, we'll be doing a lot more than complaining to the Director General."

"Um... right." There was an awkward silence. "Thanks, then." Nodding a farewell, Gwen rolled up the window, just as Jack stamped on the accelerator, and sent them barrelling away into the night. Spinning the wheel at a cross roads, he pointed them due north, glancing so often at his wrist strap that an increasingly twitchy Ianto offered to take over the driving. Jack shook his head.

"You don't drive fast enough."

"Meaning that I keep within the speed limit," accused the younger man. Jack nodded.

"Exactly. Anyway, don't worry about my driving, just look at the sky. How long until dawn, Tosh?"

"Another hour." There was a pause as she consulted the time. "Make that fifty-three minutes. Fortunately there aren't many houses out this way, though."

"There are back in Cardiff." Owen retrieved his alien binoculars. "We'd better get this operation in gear. Come on, everyone. There's more than one window to hang out of."

"Great." Clambering over Tosh to the opposite side of the car, Gwen fetched an identical set of binoculars from a pocket in the door. In the front Ianto was hunting through the glove compartment, eventually coming up with a set of his own. In moments the three of them were all leaning out into the darkness, scanning the skies for any sign of Myfanwy and her friends. As Owen had said, it was a cold task, the wind generated by their speed making short work of the protection offered by their clothing. For Ianto, who was barely even half-dressed, the experience was less pleasant still.

"The Cardiff police are starting to see through our deception," said Tosh as they drove on. "The word 'Torchwood' is occurring more frequently in their broadcasts. Along with quite a few other words that I won't mention."

"I'll square that later. Just as long as they don't follow us out here and get in the way." Jack spun them around a particularly energetic corner, causing a cavalcade of grunts from his uncomfortable colleagues. "Sorry."

"I'll try to distract them with a false report or two." Tosh went back to her tapping, stopping mid-sentence when a blood-curdling scream rang out through the night. "That really is a terrible noise. Does she do that often?"

"Only if I refuse to give her any pizza." Jack smiled into the mirror. "You get used to it. I'll miss her if she goes home."

"Maybe she is home." Tosh shrugged faintly at his raised brow. "Well, it may be a little weird, and it may not exactly be what any of us chose... but I know that the Hub is the one place I most want to be. Maybe she feels the same."

"Home is where the heart is, huh." His smile grew a little warmer. "Sure feels a lot more like home to me these days. Still, I'm not planning on sharing it with five pteradact... pteranodons, so let's see about getting at least some of them back where they belong." A thumping signal resounded across the roof, indicating that at least one of the team had spotted something. "And speaking of which..."

She saw them a second after he did - all four of them, together, in silhouette against the sky. One was perched on the top of a tree, its wings stretched out to their full, impressive extent. A male, considerably larger than Myfanwy, it looked big enough to take on a small plane and win. Two others were below it, crouched on a pile of glacial boulders, grooming each other in a manner that looked quite affectionate. The fourth was in the sky, circling around above the others, and screeching occasionally in a familiar voice.

"I think she's telling them to get a move on," said Tosh. Jack laughed.

"Probably saw us coming." He pulled the SUV to a halt. "Right. Ianto, grab the chocolate. It's in the glove compartment. Owen, get a net. Gwen, you're a good shot. You get a tranquilliser rifle. I'll take the other one, and Tosh, see to the rope. Everybody ready?"

"What do I do with the chocolate exactly?" asked Ianto, fanning out several large slabs of the stuff in his hands. Jack nodded towards the creatures.

"Tempt them," he said, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. "You've done it before."

"Gingerly. With one surprisingly friendly animal." Ianto was eyeing the other three beasts with great trepidation. "Why do I have to be the bait?"

"Because you look tastiest?" suggested Jack, not helpfully. Ianto passed him the chocolate.

"I beg to differ. Besides, you make much better bait. You're indestructible, remember?"

"Yeah, but you're a lousy shot." Jack handed him back the chocolate. "I'm not gonna let them get close to you, Ianto. You just have to let them get a good chocolatey scent. They'll be unconscious before they taste anything. Now come on. We don't want them to fly off again."

"I think I do." Objections notwithstanding, Ianto followed him out of the car, hovering around uncertainly as Gwen and Jack armed themselves, and Owen prepared a net. When they were all ready, and Tosh was laying out the rope, Ianto unwrapped a bar of chocolate, and began to advance. He waved the bar backwards and forwards, as Jack called out gentle encouragements.

"Kinda reminiscent of our first date, isn't it," he said. Ianto muttered something uncomplimentary in answer, and up ahead, as though assuming that the comment had been directed at it, the big male pteranodon slowly turned its head to look straight at him. Ianto swallowed hard, but behind him Jack seemed delighted.

"That's it. Wave the chocolate a little higher. I think he's interested."

"I think he's interested in something, yeah." Ianto did as he was told. Far up above them, Myfanwy had begun to circle lower, her shrieking giving way to the quieter sounds that she often made at feeding time. She kept out of the way, however, letting the big male make the first move. When at last it took flight, Ianto went very pale, and held out the chocolate to the furthest extent of his reach. The giant beast swooped towards him, and with widening eyes, he drew in a deep breath, bellowing his objections to Jack.

As the huge beak opened, and the scent of long dead fish wafted out into the air, the sound of a tranquilliser rifle firing made Ianto jump. The pteranodon gave a similar jolt in mid air, and seconds later it flopped to a less than graceful halt on the ground, the tip of its beak barely six inches from Ianto's slipper-clad toes. He looked down at it, then shot a furious glare back at the others. Jack grinned at him, whilst Gwen busily reloaded. Alongside them, Owen was apparently considering creeping up on one of the other creatures with his net. Recovering his poise, Ianto advanced a little, waving the chocolate enticingly.

"Come on," he told the nearest of the two sitting creatures. "Nice chocolate. Mmm."

"He's good at this," said Gwen. Jack nodded, sighting along his rifle at the remaining two visitors. Myfanwy's circling was getting lower still, but he was far less concerned about her. She at least was a known quantity, and he trusted her not to attack. The collapse of the big male seemed to have unnerved the other two however, and as Owen crept closer they began to shift about, jostling each other, and making nervous noises.

"Shooting them quickly would be good," hissed Ianto. Jack moved forward a little way, doing his best to be quiet.

"Easy, tiger. If we shoot one of them right now, the other might panic and take off. Let Owen get a little closer."

"You really think he can catch one of them in a net? Myfanwy flew off with you, remember? She's smaller than these two. And Owen's smaller than you."

"Yeah." Neither fact had escaped Jack. He glanced back at Gwen. "Want to try firing together? On three. One... two..." As though it had heard, the nearest of the pteranodons chose that moment to move, breaking into a curious run, and stretching its leathery wings out wide. Owen lunged, the net descending over the second animal whilst its wings were still folded up. It covered it entirely, but the animal made a break for freedom anyway. It could not take flight with its wings trapped, but it could most definitely still run. Owen clung to the net, running along behind it, and doing his best to dig his heels into the ground.

"Shoot it!" he bellowed. His loud yell caused the other pterosaur to panic still further, and with a squawk it leapt into the air, just as Gwen fired. Scarce inches above the ground it gave a shudder, then dropped back down again, landing in a huddled heap. Half unsure whether or not to enjoy the show for a little longer, Jack fired after the other one, and it slowed and then stopped, toppling over onto one side. Owen caught his breath, and glared back at Jack.

"Does that thing have a time delay?" he asked. Jack shouldered the rifle, going over to help him with their prize.

"Couldn't risk hitting you, could I. Come on. Let's get back to the city before the first one wakes up."

"Yeah. Because what I'm really looking forward to is trying to coax four sleepy pterodactyls through a hole a hundred feet up." Owen looked towards the horizon. "It'll be getting light by the time we're back there, you know. There's a hell of a lot of people who live in that building."

"They're used to weird things going on." Jack was not especially concerned. He had had a particularly good relationship with one of the architects of the Altolusso project, and the apartments had a very nicely designed, Torchwood-modified, ventilation system. If necessary he could personally make sure that nobody inside saw a thing - or nothing that they would remember, at any rate. Owen did not ask for explanations, which was just as well. Some things Jack was not prepared to share.

"What about Myfanwy?" asked Tosh, as they began to strap down their three newest acquisitions. Their old friend had landed nearby, accepting a few chunks of chocolate from Ianto. Jack frowned.

"I'd rather not drug her if I don't have to. I'm kind of hoping for her help at the other end. Besides, if she's going home, I'd rather she took back happy memories."

"Riding like that might just qualify," said Owen. For the purposes of the neatest fit, they had arranged the four creatures nose to tail, and he was smiling at the sight. "Never thought I'd see dinosaurs sixty-nine-ing. And yes, Tosh. I know."

"I doubt they have the equipment to make that sort of thing pleasurable anyway," she told him. He raised his eyebrows.

"We are so not going to find out."

"No time for scientific studies." Consulting his pocketwatch, Jack herded them all back towards the doors. "Come on. We need to get these babies back home."

"Just be careful driving," said Gwen. With an assortment of wings sticking out at awkward angles, it was not going to be easy to negotiate some of Cardiff's narrower corners, to say nothing of certain traffic signs and signals. Jack nodded.

"I know, don't worry. I can do careful when I have to."

"Or I could drive," suggested Ianto, and held out a hand. Jack eyed him sourly, but handed the keys over anyway. Ianto twitched them away quickly, when Myfanwy took too much of an interest. "Here," he told Jack, and handed over the chocolate in exchange.

"She's not getting in the bloody car with us," said Owen. Myfanwy gave him a look that suggested she thought he was an idiot, before promptly taking flight.

"She's old, not stupid," said Gwen with a smile. He glared, but held open the door anyway, so that she and Tosh could climb inside. As soon as everybody was in, Ianto started up the engine.

"Is she following?" he asked, as they turned around. Jack nodded.

"She can probably still smell the chocolate. Make sure you keep her in sight."

"Will do." They lapsed into silence as he drove, Tosh once again monitoring the emergency services, and the others all lost in their thoughts. The roads were surprisingly quiet, but even so they got one or two very strange looks as they headed back into town, the lightening sky revealing their secrets to a wakening city. By the time they reached Altolusso, dawn was well underway, and the earliest of Cardiff's workforce were scattered about the streets. Ianto pulled the car into the relative cover of the rear of the building, bumping across grass and concrete, and wondering for the thousandth time how it was that so few people seemed to notice a huge black SUV driving about where it shouldn't. Jack was not usually very forthcoming on that particular issue, and the others had long ago given up trying to press him on it.

"Come on, everybody. Show time." Opening the passenger door, his enthusiasm for the whole project still clearly in evidence, Jack was bouncing out before the engine had stopped. A baleful eye was looking at him from the roof, and he gave the nearest head a cheerful pat. "Never mind. Pizza aside, you'll be a lot better off back in the Mesozoic. Honest."

"Everything's better off where it comes from, that it?" asked Ianto. Jack looked across at him, over the roof of the SUV and its four stacked occupants.

"Not everything," he said. After a moment Ianto smiled, stretching up to begin loosening the ropes.

"Give me a hand, then," he said, when Jack didn't immediately follow suit. "They'd better fly in the right direction, though. I'm not chasing them if they don't.

"I could try making a noise," suggested Owen. "Might scare them up into the portal." Jack shook his head.

"All that would do is attract attention. Just let them do their thing." Nearby, Myfanwy came in for a landing, watching them as they unstrapped her fellows. "Hey there," he said to her, and pointed towards the glowing green disc in the sky. "That's home up there, old girl. Warmer weather. Proper food. Maybe a mate or six." As though understanding, she took off again, circling the SUV in ever increasing circles, and rising ever closer to the portal. Back down on the roof, the four other creatures stirred and shook themselves, arguing as they became entangled in their struggle to stand. There was little finesse to their movements, but eventually, one by one, they took flight and followed Myfanwy. To the humans on the ground, it seemed almost with relief that they sailed through the portal, as though resolutely unimpressed with their visit. Myfanwy led the way, squawking loudly, her cries fading into the distance as she vanished back into her world. Silence fell, only to be shattered moments later when she reappeared, alone. She descended quickly, landing on the ground beside Jack, and pecking meaningfully at a pocket of his waistcoat.

"You know, by rights I ought not to give you any of this," he told her, as he took out the chocolate. "You should be going home."

"I guess she's already there," said Gwen. He nodded, relinquishing a couple of squares.

"I guess she is." Above them, with a curious rushing noise as of escaping air, the portal faded and vanished. For better or worse, their unlikely pet was stuck with them now. Jack patted the roof of the SUV, and she hopped up there, settling down comfortably when he gave her the rest of the chocolate. "Come on, then. Time to go."

"You think it'll stay closed?" asked Owen, gesturing towards the sky. Jack shrugged.

"With the Rift there's no way of knowing. That portal could open up again in ten seconds or in ten thousand years. It might still lead to the Mesozoic, or it might lead to a different planet a million years in the future. No sense in worrying."

"Call me unnecessarily neurotic, but that sounds exactly the sort of thing we should be worrying about," said Gwen. Jack smiled at her.

"Welcome to Torchwood," he said, and opened the rear door with a flourish. "Now come on. Who's for pizza?"

"For breakfast?" asked Ianto. Jack held open the driver's door for him in turn.

"We'll get a vegetarian one," he said, "if you're after something a little more healthy. Then I guess we'd better think about getting you some clothes. You'll be a little distracting if you spend the rest of the day dressed like that."

"Forget clothes." Starting up the engine again, Ianto yawned loudly. "As soon as we get to the Hub, I'm going to bed. And no, you're not invited."

"Given that the rest of us will be sitting six feet away, I'm very glad of that," said Owen, and followed Tosh and Gwen into the back. Ianto guided the car back out into the street, choosing to ignore the comment. They lapsed into silence again then, all of them tired, but all of them inescapably happy. It had been an interesting night, and a fine reminder that all of their work for Torchwood did not have to be grim and depressing. When they reached Roald Dahl Plass, however, it was to find a police car parked opposite the Tower. A familiar figure was standing beside it, arms folded against the chill of the early morning.

"Oh dear," said Ianto. He slowed the SUV to a halt, since there was little point in attempting a quick escape. PC Andy Davidson strode towards them, hat pulled down low over his eyes.

"Been having a good night, have we?" he asked. As was his habit, he addressed the comment to Gwen, with little care for the other members of the team. She smiled at him, rolling down the nearest window in the back.

"Morning, Andy. Good night yourself?"

"Now and again." He glanced upwards, to where Myfanwy was perched on the roof. Gwen's smile turned a little nervous.

"It's a remote-controlled model," she told him. He nodded.

"Course it is." He sounded even less convinced than the woman in the mud-splattered Land Rover. "That's why its beak is covered in chocolate. Listen, Gwen. I'm not the type to ask too many awkward questions... but do you think your remote-controlled model could restrict its... practice flights... to nights when there isn't any moon? Only with the best will in the world, I'm not a miracle worker. I can only cause so many distractions."

"You're far nicer to me than you should be," she told him, and he cast another glance towards Myfanwy, expression wry.

"I know. And some day I'm going to want more answers than I've got. Anyway, there's no harm done tonight, at least as far as I can tell. As long as it stays that way..." He trailed off, having clearly just noticed that Ianto was wearing pyjamas. "Never mind. I'm going home. It's been a bloody long shift, and I've been promising myself an Irish coffee for the last four hours. Just promise me one thing before I go."

"Anything," said Jack, with a flash of the famous Harkness smile. Andy raised an eyebrow, looking him up and down without much sign of having fallen for the charm.

"I don't want to hear a peep about Torchwood for the rest of the week. I don't know what it is you people are doing, or why it is you're doing it, or why it involves driving about the city with a... a... a whatever that is sitting on the roof of your car. Just... not a peep." He touched his hat. "No doubt I'll be seeing you. Morning all."

"Thanks, Andy." Gwen's smile was warm and grateful, and Andy coloured a little at the sight of it, stepping back to allow Ianto to head off to the car park. Jack eyed the diminishing figure in the rear view mirror.

"Any need for retcon?" he asked Gwen. She looked horrified.

"No! Jack, you can't. Andy's... well, he's not exactly on our side. He doesn't really know what our side is. He could be a good asset, though. Trust me."

"Maybe." Jack shrugged, dismissing the situation for the time being at least. "Never mind that now. Let's get Myfanwy back in her roost. Brand new day, brand new challenges. We've gotta get to work."

"We've been up all night," complained Owen. Jack nodded.

"So has goodness knows what else. Torchwood never sleeps, Owen. Neither do all the bad guys. Saving the universe isn't a nine to five job. You want that, you should have chosen a different career."

"I did," Owen pointed out. "Somebody waylaid me."

"You should say thank you to them some time," said Jack with a smirk, as Ianto pulled the SUV to a halt in its usual space. Owen smiled into the gloom of the underground car park, watching as Jack went to coax Myfanwy down from the roof.

"I do every day," he said quietly, as his rag tag collection of colleagues, pteranodon in tow, began to head towards the secret door leading to the Hub. Far out in front, doling out chocolate to human and pterosaur alike, Jack looked back at him and grinned. Owen smiled. A moment later a chunk of chocolate performed a perfect arc through the air, heading neatly for his hand. He caught it, slamming the door of the SUV in the same movement, before hurrying after the others. Pizza and chocolate in a secret cave beneath Cardiff. There were worse ways to spend a morning. Squawking loudly as she scampered through the doorway, it seemed as though Myfanwy agreed.

THE END

Comments

( 12 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
coldwater1010
Oct. 22nd, 2011 07:06 am (UTC)
This was the perfect birthday present for Torchwood's fifth.
swordznsorcery
Oct. 23rd, 2011 10:22 pm (UTC)
Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. :)
aviv_b
Oct. 23rd, 2011 02:11 am (UTC)
Yeah! Myfanwy fic with bonus friends. The com that's holding the party is: http://tw-classic.livejournal.com/ if I remember correctly.
swordznsorcery
Oct. 23rd, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I wasn't hallucinating the whole thing, then. :D

Cool icon, by the way.
dru_evilista
Oct. 23rd, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
Awwww! Myfanwy fic! Adorable. I love a good Myfanwy fic, with added teamy hijinks. Wonderful way to celebrate Torchwood's birthday.
swordznsorcery
Oct. 23rd, 2011 10:30 pm (UTC)
There can never be enough Myfanwy. If there's another series, they need to bring her back! :)
excentric397
Oct. 23rd, 2011 07:49 pm (UTC)
Loved this. Myfawnwy came back. That was the best part for me. Thanks for sharing.
swordznsorcery
Oct. 23rd, 2011 10:34 pm (UTC)
She had to come back. She's a vital member of the team!

Thank you. :)
lone_star_woman
Oct. 24th, 2011 06:47 am (UTC)
Oh, this is just wonderful. The banter was lively and funny. Everyone got a lovely moment to shine, and they were all in character. This story reminds me why I loved the show so much and why I miss it.
swordznsorcery
Oct. 26th, 2011 04:05 pm (UTC)
Hi, and thank you! I know what you mean about missing the show. I have enjoyed some of the later stuff, but there really is no beating the good old days.
hab318princess
Oct. 30th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
really enjoyed that
swordznsorcery
Oct. 31st, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :)
( 12 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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