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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-18 01:25 pm

The Justice League Of Cardiff Is A Stupid Name

Title: The Justice League Of Cardiff Is A Stupid Name
Rating: PG
Summary: Superman is evil and Batman wants to know why Torchwood's agents don't wear capes.
BETA CREDIT JESUS: Like, everyone ever. [livejournal.com profile] 51stcenturyfox, [livejournal.com profile] neifile7, [livejournal.com profile] juniper200, [livejournal.com profile] misswinterhill, [livejournal.com profile] gypsylady, and [livejournal.com profile] paragraphs.
Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] bluejeans07, because I lost a bet over an episode of Doctor Who.
Warnings: None.

Originally posted 1.11.10

Also available at AO3.

BLUEJEAAAAANS! *Barrowman fist-shake*

***

"He's an alien," Jack Harkness said, standing in front of the clear plexi wall of the Torchwood incarceration cell. "He's the last of his kind. So they say, anyway. His planet was destroyed in a cataclysm, and he was the only one spared."

"We seem to have a lot of those," Ianto volunteered, arms crossed, also regarding the alien. "He looks human. Weird, but human."

"Easy to say when he's not destroying any major city centres," Jack said. The man on the narrow bunk stirred briefly, then settled back into slumber. A small green stone set into the restraint collar around his neck winked gently in the dim light.

"You see news stories about him sometimes," Ianto continued, drawing closer. "The Man of Steel. Reckon if they didn't have them they'd need Torchwood, what with all the mischief Metropolis seems to fall into."

"Point taken," Jack said, and it was: Ianto was subtly reminding him that with Superman in a cell in Torchwood's underground lair, Metropolis was more or less laid bare for the taking. Oh, there were a handful of others who could help, but Superman was out. And Batman was apparently missing from Gotham, which may or may not have been coincidence; given Superman had attacked Gotham, who knew if Batman was even alive.

"How'd you capture him?" Ianto asked. It was a fair question, given that earlier that morning he had come into the Hub, carrying a bag of scones for breakfast, and discovered Jack attempting to haul a half-naked man twice his own body mass into the cells.

The corner of Jack's mouth tilted upwards and he gave Ianto a sidelong, satisfied look. Ianto looked back at Superman, startled.

"Come on," Jack said, turning and bounding up the stairs to the atrium of the Hub. "Time's wasting, and we have work to do."

Upstairs, in the Hub atrium, Gwen had arrived and was reading the morning paper. At first glance it might have looked like she was goofing off, but it was in fact part of her job now that Tosh was gone -- information management, something she was better with in hardcopy than online.

"Isn't it a shame, though," she said, ruffling the front page at Ianto as he passed her on the way to get coffee. The headline of the Echo was on some American businessman visiting Cardiff, but below-the-fold a second story announced ROGUE TERROR IN AMERICA with the subheading Superman Gone Mad; Batman Gone Missing. "I'm not sure I'd want a superhero in Cardiff."

"We are the superheroes in Cardiff," Ianto replied, measuring out the grounds.

"Yeah, but we're not proper superheroes, I mean we don't have cost...umes..." Gwen trailed off, watching Jack hurry past to his office, greatcoat sweeping along as always. Ianto straightened his tie. "You know what I mean, Ianto."

"We defend Cardiff outside of the tenets of the law and sometimes get bits of the city blown up; spandex is a surface distinction only," Ianto told her. "By the way, Superman's our prisoner."

"What?"

"He's down in the cells. Have a look, if you like," he said, switching the nearest monitor over to the cells. Gwen examined the sleeping man with interest.

"Well, job well done us," she said. Ianto presented her with a cup of fresh, steaming coffee. "Torchwood operating at its usual peak efficiency, eh?"

"Jack caught him. I haven't really pressed him on how," Ianto added, almost to himself.

"So," Jack called, stepping out of his office. "Who wants to kidnap a doctor?"

"We have to stop doing that," Gwen said.

"Sooner or later the hospital's going to notice," Ianto agreed. Gwen shot him a look. "And of course it's very wrong as well," he added smoothly.

"Hey, as soon as we find one that doesn't freak out when we show them the pterodactyl, I'll stop retconning the ones we take," Jack told him.

"Why do we need a doctor, anyway?" Gwen asked. "Aside from the obvious, I mean. With...Superman. Is a doctor going to do us any good?"

"Well, something's wrong with him," Jack said. "He tried to melt down the nuclear power plant outside Gotham yesterday."

"Maybe he had a reason?"

"And I quote," Ianto read from the newspaper, "Because humanity is a blight on the face of the Earth, beginning with that foul trap of pestilence and ugliness, Gotham."

"That's a bit on the nose," Gwen said.

"And then he came to Cardiff," Jack announced, spreading his arms and grinning. "We're number two!"

Ianto gave him an extremely sceptical look, but Gwen wasn't paying attention.

"So do you suppose he just had a bad day?" she asked, as the man in the cells began to wake. "Or is that why we want a doctor? To find out?"

"I think he's been screwed with," Jack said. "Not in the fun way, either. Hypnotism, drugs, I don't know. Something's not right. Fortunately for the planet Earth, there's us!"

"Sounds like a t-shirt slogan," Ianto remarked.

"You still haven't actually said how you caught him, Jack," Gwen added.

Jack sighed and rubbed the back of his head. "Okay. Metaphorically."

"No, Jack. Literally," Gwen ordered.

"No, I mean...metaphorically, Superman represents all that is good and just in the world," Jack said. "That's a hefty weight."

"He's fit, isn't he?" Gwen asked. "I'm sure he's up to carrying it."

"This is all so very American," Ianto sighed.

"Truth! Justice! The Welsh way! just doesn't scan right," Gwen laughed.

"Hmm. More like Tea! Rugby! It's my light, give way!" Ianto agreed.

"My point," Jack growled, "is that when someone like Superman gets a little whammy, he wants to blow off some steam. If you had no moral compass, what's the first thing you'd do? Don't answer that," he added, as they opened their mouths. "As for him...he wants to play. Takes a bit to keep Superman interested -- like, say, a man who can't die."

"Ohh," Gwen said. Realisation dawned on her face. "You didn't, Jack." She glanced at Ianto, who looked unperturbed. "He did, you know," she told him.

"He still had his trousers on," Ianto answered calmly.

"It's kind of a rule," Jack told Gwen shortly. She frowned.

"Like the one-foot-on-the-floor rule," Ianto murmured.

"Ohh." She covered her mouth to hide a smile.

"O-kay," Jack continued, annoyed. "He's harmless as long as that collar's on him. We have to find out what happened and how to fix it."

"I'll go pack the medical-abduction kit and get the SUV started," Ianto said, but before he could move there was a sleek whirring noise, followed by a soft splash. Jack, who was facing his team, went very still; suddenly two guns were pointed at him (Ianto and Gwen both had tightly-honed reflexes) and someone large and dangerous was behind him.

"Show yourself," Gwen ordered. A second splash. Jack turned slowly.

A man stood at the edge of the fountain pool -- quite a man, Jack noticed, because Jack noticed these things. Broad shoulders, wide chest, narrow hips, all well-defined by a skin-tight suit. He wore a cowl and a cape, and his eyes were diamond-shaped patches of light.

"Great," Jack sighed. "Another one."

Gwen kept the man covered as Ianto came forward. He passed Jack, which seemed like impudence and a death-wish combined, and stood face to face with the intruder.

"I'm the Batman," the intruder said.

"Well, yes, obviously," Ianto replied, eyeing him.

Batman eyed him back.

Jack and Gwen watched, fascinated, as they stared each other down. After about twenty seconds, when it seemed like one of them had to blink, Ianto licked his lips.

"Coffee?" he asked.

"Black," Batman replied. Ianto pivoted smartly and strode off. Gwen slowly holstered her gun as well.

"He does know how to make an entrance," Jack observed.

"He's standing right here," Batman told him.

***

Batman was, to put it mildly, perplexed.

On the one hand, he felt right at home in this dark, faintly damp cavern underneath Cardiff. It felt like the Batcave. On the other, and he freely admitted this, what the Batcave most resembled was the lair of a supervillain, as did this place. Back on the first hand, these people had apparently captured, and survived imprisoning, Superman. Also, one of them seemed like a reasonably trustworthy American. Returning to the second (more negative) hand, the other two were British and they all had guns.

Given all the hands, he felt a little like he was juggling cynicism and negativity.

Regular day then, really.

"Captain Jack Harkness," the American in the blue coat said, while the younger man went off to bring him a coffee. "This is Gwen Cooper, that's Ianto Jones. Welcome to Torchwood, Batman."

"Torchwood," Batman said, because Batman didn't really ask questions. He just repeated the bits of sentences that didn't make sense.

"Yep," Captain Jack Harkness said, bouncing on the balls of his feet. "We're kinda like you, only for Wales."

Ah. Superheroes, then, or at least positively delusional villains.

"No powers, then," Batman inclined his head at them.

"You don't either," Captain Harkness pointed out.

"Well, Jack can't -- " Cooper started. Captain Harkness gave her a look. " -- fly, but...he's...very good at running."

"You don't even wear capes," Batman pointed out. Because, well, they didn't, and it was a semi-vital portion of the gig when you got right down to it.

"Nor masks," Cooper said cheerfully.

"What do you call this?" Captain Harkness asked, spreading his arms wide so that his coat was shown off to best effect.

Batman snorted. "A coat."

He saw the Captain open his mouth to reply but, before he could, two mugs of coffee were thrust between them.

"It's easier than having to get the measuring tape." Ianto Jones, he of the icy stare and sensible priorities, gave them both a pleasant smile.

Batman accepted the coffee, sniffed it, sipped it, then decided it was probably just coffee and took a healthy gulp. Tracking Superman across the Atlantic was a recipe for jet lag.

"Captain Harkness," he repeated.

"That's right," the Captain said.

"Not Captain Justice. Or Captain Britain."

"No," Captain Harkness agreed.

"Captain Evil is right out," Jones announced, still in the same polite, conversational tone he'd maintained since asking about coffee.

"This isn't very impressive, for a couple of superheroes," Batman felt obliged to point out.

"We're more..." Gwen paused. "Jack, what are we?"

"Guardians of order in an area of endemic chaos," Jack said. The other two stared at him. "Tosh came up with that," he added.

"I expect you'll want to see Superman," Jones said, ignoring Captain Harkness. "This way."

Captain Harkness and Gwen Cooper remained above while he followed the young man into a narrow hallway and down a set of stairs. Likely they were closing off escape routes. No matter; he was nothing if not resourceful. He did feel a little overdressed, and focused on labeling them as underdressed instead -- not a cape or a chest-logo in sight. It was throwing him off.

"We've done what we can to make him comfortable, given the circumstances," Jones said, as they walked. "If you know of any dietary restrictions he might have, now would be the time to inform me, before I place a food order for lunch."

"No," Batman replied, feeling a very familiar sensation of being...handled wash over him.

"While you're in Cardiff we'll have to treat you to some traditional fare. I hope you like curry," Jones said drily.

"Your name is Ianto Jones," Batman said.

"That's right," Jones glanced over his shoulder and gave him a quick smile.

"Not related to anyone named Pennyworth."

"Not to my knowledge. Here we are," Jones added, leading him through an oval door and into a hallway lined on one side with more doors -- cell doors. Jones gestured at a window set in the first one.

Superman was in the cell, and he was --

Well, for a start, he was shirtless. He was also sitting up, looking vaguely confused, and wearing a collar. Batman discarded the shirtlessness as irrelevant and focused on the dilated pupils, the bewildered, stupid expression, and the collar.

"That's kryptonite," he said, pointing at the little green stone set into it.

"Is it?" Jones asked. "Jack captured him."

"You have kryptonite."

"Yes, it would appear so," Jones agreed gravely. Again, he felt a sense of...no, it wasn't being handled, so much as being buttled to within an inch of his life. "Whatever it is, I'm sure it's for his own good," Jones continued. "Jack detests wastefulness; we were about to see if we could find out what the problem was."

"Most people would just try to kill a super-strong indestructible alien bent on wiping humanity from the face of the Earth," Batman said. It was true; they wouldn't live long, but they'd try.

"Oh, Gwen wouldn't be having with that," Jones answered. "She's dead against us killing aliens most of the time, unless they really deserve it."

It was impossible to tell if anyone in "Torchwood" was serious, joking, or specifically teasing him. Batman felt that -- perhaps -- he had found his own people.

"I'm going in," he said.

"Be my guest," Jones replied, and swiped a keycard through the lock. A little light turned green and the door popped open; Superman looked up but didn't move. Batman gave Jones a suspicious look, then decided to hedge his bets; he hauled the door open and wedged a batarang tightly into the stone mounting, so that the door couldn't close or lock even if Jones wanted to try.

***

"So?" Jack said, when they emerged from the cells. Gwen jumped up from her chair and watched warily as they pushed Superman along on a gurney. "Any thoughts, or should we get back to kidnapping a doctor?"

"He came to Cardiff," Batman said. It took Gwen a moment to realise Batman was, indeed, asking a question. She nudged Jack gently.

"Yeah, well, I stood on a roof and shouted Superman a few times," Jack replied. "Things went from there."

"He's good on roofs," Ianto apparently felt compelled to add. Gwen caught Jack giving him a stern look.

"The collar?" Batman persisted.

"Torchwood sits on a rift in time and space," Jack told him. "It throws up some strange things sometimes."

"Does it," Batman muttered. Gwen wondered what he looked like under the cowl. Hot, probably. "I think I understand the problem."

"Well, that's nice," she put in. "Fixable, then?"

They all watched with interest as Batman drew a pair of small ear plugs from his utility belt -- she could see the wheels turning in Jack's head, and his fingers itching to find out what Batman stashed in there -- and popped them into Superman's ears.

"These are radio jammers," he said. He flicked the catch on the collar and eased it off Superman's neck. "There's a supersonic frequency overriding the moral centres of his brain. This should block them."

"Should?" Jack asked, as Superman shook his head and sat upright. Batman engaged in a series of dramatic hand gestures, which apparently were understood; Superman eased himself off the gurney and turned to Jack.

"WHERE'S MY SHIRT?" he asked loudly. Batman opened another pocket of his utility belt and drew out a spare, offering it to him with a sigh. "THANK YOU."

"Captain Jack Harkness," Jack said, giving him a salute. Superman returned it. Gwen stifled a giggle, and felt Ianto elbow her even as he tried not to smile.

"WE NEED TO TRACK DOWN WHOEVER DID THIS," Superman shouted at Batman, who nodded. To everyone's surprise, the Dark Knight looped an arm around Superman's shoulders and held on tightly. There was a rush of air, and then both men lifted off the ground, arrowing up through the Hub and out past the fountain tower. Myfanwy put her head out of her nest and made a quizzical noise.

"Shagging," Jack said succinctly.

"They never -- are they?" Gwen asked, staring upward.

"I should think shagging Superman's a dangerous proposition to begin with," Ianto said thoughtfully. "From a purely athletic perspective."

"Do you think I'd look good in a cape?" Jack asked them.

"I'm not wearing a catsuit," Gwen announced. "Or anything stretchy. I'd bounce."

"I think I prefer being paid for my job," Ianto agreed.

"Come on," Jack wheedled. "Captain Torchwood, with his trusty sidekicks The Pinstripe and Constable Cymru?"

Ianto and Gwen looked at each other.

"No," they said firmly.

END




Endnote: Just in case you were wondering, I did in fact write up Captain Torchwood, The Pinstripe, and Constable Cymru. Because I am a dork. :D

Captain Torchwood
An alien of indeterminate origin, Captain Torchwood came to Earth to have sex with your family to protect his own past, or so he says. By day he is a mild-mannered but devastatingly charming (if a bit dim) male model. At night, HE FIGHTS CRIME!
Costume: A heavy grey wraparound cape with brass accents, and a blue bodysuit underneath with a prominent codpiece. The Torchwood logo is printed on his chest in black. He wears a grey domino-style mask because it'd be a shame to cover that pretty face.
Powers: Flight, indestructibility, charm.

The Pinstripe
Quiet, hardworking teaboy Ianto Jones was once a supervillain bent on roboticising Earth's population, but he was captured by Captain Torchwood (see JLC #12) and rehabilitated with the help of Constable Cymru's telepathic compassion ray. Now he is Captain Torchwood's most loyal sidekick, and possibly the brains behind the operation.
Costume: an exquisitely tailored charcoal suit, red shirt, and black tie, with a charcoal pinstripe mask.
Powers: Cunning, guile, and a long-range stun gun.

Constable Cymru
An ordinary police officer until she was caught in an accident at the Blaidd Dwrg Nuclear Power Plant, Gwen Cooper found herself able to heal others both physically and mentally. She patrols the streets, in costume or out of it, and is loosely allied to Captain Torchwood because have you had a look at that man?
Costume: a white bodysuit with green leggings; a red wyvern logo on her chest. Her mask is attached to a policeman's cap and is the same checkered design as the band on the cap. She also wears an open flak-jacket which is secretly a utility vest.
Powers: Healing, Compassion, X-ray vision (used often on Captain Torchwood).

AND FOR BONUS POINTS:

The Doc
An alien with an uncertain relationship to Captain Torchwood, The Doc comes and goes without warning, leaving a trail of defeated villains (but also destruction) in his wake.
Costume: A blue robotic suit with a white square on the front. Needs no mask as he has the ability to change his face at will.
Powers: Superior intellect, super-speed when running, and a Sonic Screwdriver that shoots powerful but non-lethal blue energy bolts at his enemies. He may also be able to travel in time and space. Nobody knows for sure (except Captain Torchwood, and he's not telling).