Title: Bubbly personalities
Characters: Torchwood team
Length: 1,684 words
Content notes: none
Author notes: Written for falkner's prompt "Any, any, ups and downs" at fic_promptly
Summary: Lunch has left everyone feeling a little bloated
One day the team would learn to stop trusting Jack every time he said that something which came through the rift was totally harmless. In fairness to Jack though, no one expected that the innocent looking cans would get mixed up with the regular grocery shipment, and that because Jack was in a foul mood, that he'd made Owen put away all the groceries, as penance for the mess he'd left in the SUV, which Ianto was now downstairs cleaning.
When it came time for them to break for lunch, Ianto went upstairs to collect the pizzas, whilst Gwen opened the fridge, and grabbed out a few cans of soda, breaking them open and pouring them into glasses for the team.
Sitting around the sofa and their desks, it was an enjoyable lunch, as Jack regaled them with yet more outlandish tales from his travels across the universe.
Just as lunch was almost over, that was when it happened.
At first it was barely noticeable, but one by one, each of the team began to slowly swell up.
'Oh my God, what's happening?' Gwen cried, as her torso began to blow up like a balloon. Each of them was in their own state of shock as their upper bodies increased in size, until they were three or four feet across in diameter, then they began to rise upwards.
'We're turning into balloons!' Tosh squealed, as she floated up towards the ceiling.
'Do something, Jack!' Owen screamed, bumping into the water tower as he continued his ascent.
'Like what?' he replied, hanging on to Ianto for dear life, which wasn't helping either of them, except for the fact that Jack had one hand wrapped around the staircase railing, stopping either of them from going higher.
'Don't you dare let go,' Ianto instructed him. Jack held tight, but his hand attached to the railing was slipping. A few moments later, both of them were joining the others in floating up to the roof, where they all remained.
'I told you not to let go.'
'I didn't let go of you, but my other hand was still greasy from the pizza.'
'What do we do?' Gwen asked. 'What happened to us?'
'We blew up,' Tosh replied. 'At least on the bright side, we haven't gotten any bigger,' she added, although as far as she was concerned, they were quite big enough as it was.
'Exploding like a popped balloon,' Owen muttered. 'Not how I thought I'd go.'
'Okay, nobody panic,' Jack said, grateful they still had arms and legs, even if everything in between was just a huge stretched ball of skin and clothes, which remarkably, had stretched with them. 'There must've been something in what we ate.'
'Or drank,' Ianto added. 'Was it just me, or did those sodas taste a little off?'
'They were the ones in the fridge,' Gwen replied. 'The ones you bought this morning. I was surprised they were cold enough to drink.'
Ianto frowned. 'I didn't buy any sodas.'
Before any of them could ponder the matter further, Owen let forth a huge burp.
'S'cuse me,' he said, finding himself float down off the roof a bit.
'Hey, did you just deflate a bit?' Jack asked.
'I dunno. I just-'
'Man, that that stuff is vicious,' he said, sinking lower again, several feet this time, his torso sinking inwards.
'Well, I think we figured out how to deflate ourselves,' Jack said, letting out a huge belch, dropping almost to Owen's level, about halfway down to the floor of the hub.
Emboldened by their new discovery, the pair of them continued burping until they were back on the ground, looking normal again.
'Come on down,' Jack yelled up at them.
Gwen, Tosh and Ianto looked horrified at the prospect of having to burp their way down, but in the end, they didn't get much of a choice. The soda fizzled inside them, creating more gas, and it became impossible not to burp. All three of them were bright red with embarrassment by the time they reached the ground.
'Glad you could make it,' Owen said, grinning.
'I'm just glad we're back to normal,' Tosh said, gratefully rubbing her once again flat stomach.
'What the hell happened?' Gwen said, still looking flustered.
'You said there was soda in fridge,' Ianto replied. 'Only we didn't have any.'
'So where did it come from?' Tosh asked.
'Uh oh,' Jack said.
Ianto crossed his arms and stared at him. 'What's, uh oh?'
'Tosh, what happened to those canisters we picked up this morning in Splott?'
'I put them on the bench for Owen to analyse.'
All four of them looked at Owen.
'I thought they were with the groceries.'
'You idiot!' Gwen cried.
'Well, how was I to know?'
'Did the odd writing on the side not give it away?' Jack asked.
Owen just shrugged. 'Honest mistake, alright. Not as if I check the details on all the packaging on stuff from the shops. Half of it comes from Romania, anyway. At least everyone's okay, now.'
No sooner had he said it, then they all began to swell up again.
'Oh, no,' Ianto said, puffing up and reaching desperately for anything to hold on to.
'Nobody panic,' Jack said, as he ballooned outward.
'You said that last time!'
Once again, they expanded out into a round shape, floating upward. This time, only Owen was too slow at grabbing something to stop him from rising all the way back up to the roof. Myfanwy even squawked as he floated up past her nest.
'Shut up, you stupid bird,' he growled.
As before, Jack tested the theory that burping up the gas inside them was the key to deflating back down to their regular size. This time, no one argued with him when he told them what to do, embarrassing and ill mannered as it was.
'Please don't tell me we're going to be stuck like this,' Gwen said, looking pale and nauseous.
'Being a human balloon really isn't as fun as it sounds,' Ianto agreed.
'Okay,' Jack said, returning from his office with several sets of fluffy handcuffs, handing them out, much to Ianto's horror.
'They're just a precaution,' he said, clipping the furry cuff to the railing, and watching as the others quickly followed suit.
Owen grimaced at the fluffy pink item. 'I don't even want to know if these are clean,' he said, before clipping himself down all the same. 'I hope you've got the keys.'
'Right,' Jack said, 'now that none of us can go far, I suggest you start analysing those cans.'
It was tricky work as the team carefully moved around the hub, clipping and unclipping themselves to various poles and rails as they tried to get to the bottom of the mystery. Several more times they each randomly blew up, floating up as far as their cuffed arms would let them, before being forced to deflated themselves.
Jack got worried when he hadn't seen Ianto for a while. Most of them had kept close to the centre of the hub, whilst Owen ran his tests, but Ianto had mentioned something about cross referencing their symptoms to something in the archives. When Jack finally made his way down there, grateful that he hadn't spontaneously blown up again, due to the lack of places he could tether himself to, he called out Ianto's name.
'Up here,' he replied sheepishly. Jack looked up to find him pressed against the tall roof of the archives.
'I thought I told you to tie yourself down.'
'I was in the middle of moving when it happened,' he replied.
'So come down.'
'No, I think I'll stay up here if it's all the same to you. My dignity has suffered enough today.'
'Come on, what's a bit of flatulence between friends?'
Suddenly, Jack felt a rumble in his stomach and quickly looked around for something to hold on to, finding nothing.
'Looks like I'm joining you,' he said, swelling up big and ascending, before bumping into him.
'Nice of you to join me,' Ianto quipped.
They floated there for about twenty minutes, with Ianto refusing to devolve himself any further into the embarrassing sounds that had become the norm around the hub, until Owen's voice came over their comms.
'Think I've got an update for you.'
'Hopefully it's more of a downdate,' Ianto said.
'We'd meet you up there,' Jack said, 'but we're rather preoccupied.'
'Typical,' Owen muttered.
'Can you just tell us from here?' Jack asked.
'Well, good news is that the effects are temporary. Tosh managed to run a translation on the can's labeling, and my tests confirm that within a few hours, the symptoms should wear off.'
'Did we find out what it actually was?'
'Well, it's definitely soda,' Owen replied. 'Just not your average sort. The translated name on the can was "bloat and float". Apparently it's all the rage on some planets, according to a search of the database.'
'Well, so long as we know it won't do any harm, I suggest the rest of you take the rest of the afternoon off work. It's going to be pretty hard to get anything done if people are going up and down all the time.'
'That'd be right,' he heard Owen moan. 'Only time the boss gives you the afternoon off, and you're still stuck at work.'
Jack laughed. 'Don't let it get you down, Owen. Or maybe you should, if that helps.'
'So,' Jack said, turning to Ianto. 'Since we're probably going to be here a while longer, did you wanna see if anything else got blown up big?'
'No,' he replied bluntly, trying to fold his arms in annoyed manner, but finding it impossible to join them around his inflated torso.
'Well, I guess well just hang out here, then,' Jack replied.
'Please no more balloon related humour,' Ianto begged.
'Don't be such a downer.'
Ianto wished he could find something to hit his head against, or Jack's maybe.
'How hard can I hit you before you pop?'