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Taste Test

7th Mar, 2011 | 05:27 pm

Fandom: Torchwood
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 815
Summary: Jack's experience comes in useful...
Prompt: tw_unpaired 230: Poison
Betaed by: cowgrrl and eldarwannabe

Taste Test

Jack’s second death – his first in Victorian Cardiff – was a poisoning. Thinking back on it, he knows he should have recognised the effects of hemlock at the time. It used to be a favourite of his in the Agency, after all. A classic.

But then at the time he’d been busy getting dead drunk. He hadn’t really noticed the numbness when his legs had gone out from under him in the street. He’d thought, as much as he’d been able to think, that it was just the usual drunken loss of control. He’d thought it was hilarious, too. And his new friends had helped him up and hauled him somewhere quiet.

He remembered trying to tell them how kind and thoughtful that was, remembered struggling to get even the first words out, struggling to breathe.

After that, just darkness.

He’d woken up in the morning with no headache, no money, and no friends, and counted himself lucky to still be alive. It was another thirty years and another eleven “lucky escapes” before he hit a death he couldn’t explain away.

Since then he’s become something of an expert in the effects of pretty much every poison out there.

So when he clinks glasses with the Cerethen Ambassador and drains his jinal wine with a gulp, he notes the faint taste of citrus, and sighs.

“And I really thought things were going so well,” he says, putting his glass down with great care.

The translator devices in their ears take a moment to catch up with him, and the Cerethen pauses with its glass halfway to its mouth. There’s another few seconds of delay as the Cerethen’s growls morph into English.

“I do not understand what you –”

“How long have I got?” Jack asks, pushing his chair back and checking his watch. “Five minutes? Big mistake, Kel. I can call you Kel, can’t I? I figure if you’re gonna poison somebody you should at least be on first name terms with them, right?”

“This is outrageous,” the translator chirps in his ear. “Your fears are groundless. Perhaps you are unwell.”

Jack laughs, and grabs the edge of the table to stay upright as the floor lurches under his feet. He’s pretty sure that’s just his body reacting, not the ship changing course, since the rest of the wine and food didn’t budge.

“What’s the idea, Kel? My tragic death while in your tender care sparks some diplomatic incident which sparks a bigger row so you can wipe out humanity, claim a pre-emptive strike to get round the Shadow Proclamation, and settle down on Earth, no sharing required?”

The Cerethen turns an angry blue and plants all four hands on the table.

“That you suggest such a thing shows only how treacherous the human mind can be. We came to seek sanctuary, not dominion.”

“Maybe you should be seeking a better vintage,” Jack wheezes, and drops dead on the spot.

~*~


He gasps his way back into the world almost a full day later, just in time to clean up, down three pints of water (not quite getting rid of that dry feeling on the roof of his mouth), and make an appearance at the Cerethens’ departure.

The poisoner has already been caught and jettisoned into space, the standard Cerethen punishment for murder. Kel takes a certain amount of relish in telling Jack that’s thanks to his dying, since UNIT only revealed Jack’s immortality after justice had already been served. To Jack’s disappointment, he wasn’t even the real target, just a political red herring, a distraction from the personal feud which nearly resulted in Kelashriak’s death. Kel’s positively gleeful that it got his ex-wife killed instead.

“I aim to please,” Jack croaks, and is half-ready to turn that into a better come on now that Kel’s being warm and friendly, but their time is up.

The Terran offer of sanctuary, say the Cerethens, isn’t good enough. Not enough space, not enough freedoms, too much blind prejudice and xenophobia among the current human population. The Cerethens prefer their chances elsewhere.

Jack says his goodbyes with the little entourage of UNIT employees who’ve been overseeing things in his absence, and then they all beam back down to their assigned locations and the ship quietly vanishes off the radar.

When he gets back home, he finds Ianto’s suffered a bite from a Freeth in the Bay and his right hand is twice its usual size, while Gwen’s developed a rash all the way up both arms just from the Freeth’s slime. Toshiko tells him there are Weevil sightings in Splott and up near the university, so it’s a good thing he’s finally back.

Jack makes them all coffee. It seems like the thing to do.

Owen, of course, takes one sip and spits it straight back out.

“What are you trying to do, poison me?”

Jack just smiles.

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Comments {25}

valancy_joy

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from: valancy_joy
date: 7th Mar, 2011 06:09 pm (UTC)
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Oh Owen... LOLOL

Loved it all... its Jack, and aliens, and overwork, and coffee ... and everything that makes TW great! :)

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Laligin Tashika

(no subject)

from: laligin
date: 7th Mar, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
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(: Thank you! I'm still getting back into fic-writing, so that's really great to hear. ^_^ I'm glad you liked it!

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Taffy

(no subject)

from: taffimai
date: 7th Mar, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC)
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Hee, love this!

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Laligin Tashika

(no subject)

from: laligin
date: 7th Mar, 2011 09:11 pm (UTC)
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^_^ Aww, thank you! I'm glad you liked it!

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analineblue

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from: analineblue
date: 7th Mar, 2011 08:28 pm (UTC)
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This made me smile :D I loved the insight into Jack's previous deaths, especially. :)

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Laligin Tashika

(no subject)

from: laligin
date: 7th Mar, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
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I'm tempted to explore the other eleven "lucky escapes" as it happens... It still surprises me that he landed in 1860something and only realised he couldn't die in 1892... :/

Anyway, my current fascination aside, thank you for reading and I'm really glad you liked it!

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analineblue

(no subject)

from: analineblue
date: 7th Mar, 2011 10:06 pm (UTC)
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That's a great point. There's definitely room for some exploration there! ...Because really? 32 years?! That's some serious...denial going on. *__*

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Laligin Tashika

(no subject)

from: laligin
date: 7th Mar, 2011 11:09 pm (UTC)
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Okay, *definitely* going to write something in that gap now. Heaven knows how long it'll take to do, though. >_

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Laura

(no subject)

from: cookielaura
date: 7th Mar, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC)
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Hehe, this was very cool :) I loved this line: “Your fears are groundless. Perhaps you are unwell.” For some reason it made me LOL!

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Laligin Tashika

(no subject)

from: laligin
date: 7th Mar, 2011 09:15 pm (UTC)
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(: Thank you! That line amuses me a bit too. XD Glad you liked!

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Nancy

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from: nancybrown
date: 7th Mar, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
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Ha! Experience does win out.

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Laligin Tashika

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from: laligin
date: 7th Mar, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC)
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Practice makes perfect, right? ;) Thanks for reading!

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reddevilpoes

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from: reddevilpoes
date: 7th Mar, 2011 09:35 pm (UTC)
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nice story!

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Laligin Tashika

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from: laligin
date: 7th Mar, 2011 11:04 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! ^_^

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fide_et_spe

(no subject)

from: fide_et_spe
date: 7th Mar, 2011 10:42 pm (UTC)
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Nice to see a story from you. Very nice little story as well. Poor Jack being poisoned. Poor Ianto and his fat hand.

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Laligin Tashika

(no subject)

from: laligin
date: 7th Mar, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
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XD Fat hand. That makes me giggle. I'm immature, I know. It's just exceedingly funny for some reason.

Ahem. Yes. Thank you for reading, glad you like it. (: And thank you for your lovely comments. (:

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jooles34

(no subject)

from: jooles34
date: 8th Mar, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)
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Lovely little fic this, so wonderfully Jack. The insights into his early experiances were lovely, and led on nicely to the main part. His thought process and calm, reluctant accpetance when he realised he had been poisened were brilliant, as was the sudden inclanation to flirt once he'd come back. Great stuff.

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Laligin Tashika

(no subject)

from: laligin
date: 8th Mar, 2011 12:58 am (UTC)
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Thank you! That was a wonderful comment. (: I love detailed responses! And I'm so glad it seemed in character. Thanks!

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Bekah

(no subject)

from: ms_bekahrose
date: 8th Mar, 2011 04:36 am (UTC)
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This was a wonderful story. I really liked that "first" death with the hemlock and Jack making the connections back to the agency and his own use of the poison. That he used it and favoured it, considered it a classic - especially so far in the future, is a really unique twist that I've never seen before. :)

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rabecka

(no subject)

from: rabecka
date: 8th Mar, 2011 05:02 am (UTC)
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So glad to see you writing TW again, and I really enjoyed this. Especially the segment with the team at the end, which had me laughing. Yeah, Jack goes and negotiates with aliens, gets poisoned, dies, recovers in time to say goodbye to the aliens, and then returns to TW to what passes for a normal day. Yup...

Jack makes them all coffee. It seems like the thing to do.
This is just perfect. And what follows.

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badly_knitted

(no subject)

from: badly_knitted
date: 9th Mar, 2011 12:59 am (UTC)
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Poor Jack - killed so many times, it's practically just tedious business as usual to realise he's been poisoned yet again. Still, at least the effects aren't permanent and he's back home in time to commiserate with his slimed team!

Good to see you writing Torchwood again!

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lone_star_woman

(no subject)

from: lone_star_woman
date: 9th Mar, 2011 05:50 am (UTC)
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Loved the morbid humor and the insights. That line from Owen is classic.

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Lia

(no subject)

from: lia_galanodel
date: 9th Mar, 2011 07:06 am (UTC)
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Hahahah that last bit at the end is perfect!!

This was a wonderful little tale, I really enjoyed it. :D

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eldarwannabe

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from: eldarwannabe
date: 10th Mar, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
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Well, you know I love it! I have to say that I think the opening is brilliant, and colors the whole fic nicely. We understand exactly why Jack reacts to the poisoning the way he does, and I really, really like how it all ties together at the end. :D

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mcparrot

(no subject)

from: mcparrot
date: 23rd Nov, 2011 10:09 am (UTC)
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Okay, late on this one, but I loved it. there really is great potential there to explore Jack's early time on Earth.

Here because my old mate Fiwen linked to your name.
I'm glad you've found each other and I'm glad I've found your writing. I can't believe I've missed it all this time.
May I friend you?

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