This story has had me in something of a quandary. It falls into two fandoms – Criminal Intent, and Torchwood. (I’m not touching on the Doctor Who fandom... yet) After a lot of consideration, I’ve decided to go ahead and post it in the CI section of the website, at least to start with. I hope that a few of the readers from the Torchwood side of things have put me on author alert from my other ongoing Torchwood story, “You Can Never Go Home”.

Upon making that decision, I now need to offer up some explanations/basic information/etc for anyone reading this who is not familiar with Torchwood or Doctor Who. I’m making no assumptions that every living person on the planet is a Doctor Who buff. Six months ago, I knew nothing about the show, and Torchwood was just something I kept forgetting to put a video in to record. Oh, how things change...

Firstly, I haven’t abandoned my other stories, I swear it! But between trying to successfully complete NaNo (which I did, I made 50,000 words against substantial odds) and everything else happening in my life, I just haven’t time. But no, people, I haven’t just dropped off the map, I promise. And I really hope to have a few new chapters of other ongoing stories up really soon.

Secondly, I have tried to put equal focus on both the CI characters and the Torchwood characters. However, I fear that, to start with at least, my attentions have been more centred on Jack and his team. My apologies for that, but it’s just the way the muse has gone. I can’t control it, and I won’t even try.

Thirdly, there is slash shipping in this story, and I am not referring to Bobby and Mike. The slash pairing is Jack and Ianto from Torchwood, and before anyone wants to have a word with me about that, I have one thing to say: IT IS TORCHWOOD CANON. Yes, there is a very strongly implied physical relationship between Jack and Ianto on Torchwood. The evidence is in a couple of kisses between the characters and an eyebrow-raising proposition using a stopwatch in season 1; and a smokin' hot kiss and a lovely bit of body-hugging slow dancing in season 2 - not to mention a bucketful of innuendo, and a lovely, mouth-watering scene where dear Gwen walks in on Jack and Ianto whilst they are half-naked and in the middle of some very intense foreplay.

I also want to state categorically that I am not, nor will I ever be, a Jack/Gwen shipper. That pairing will never happen in my stories. EVER.

Fourthly... what the hell. If you don’t know the show, I can only hope that my story might encourage you to check it out, because it really is quite brilliant, and the character of Captain Jack Harkness is absolutely fantastic, especially for a sadistic writer like myself.

Seriously, how many characters are out there that you can torture to death in a story, and then bring him back to life and do it all over again? Gotta love the brilliance of those Doctor Who writers...

I’m posting the first few chapters all at the same time, mainly so anyone kind enough to read it will not be completely and utterly confused. I hope.

And now, to more banal things.

Rating: Strong T, for now. It may move to an M rating further on, depending on where the muse takes it.

Summary: A series of inexplicable deaths in New York city leave detectives baffled and draws the attention of a secret agency from another country.

Disclaimer: I don’t own Criminal Intent. I don’t own Torchwood. I don’t own Doctor Who. This is my NaNoWriMo story, written as a really big, month-long challenge and most definitely not for any kind of profit at all, unless you can count personal satisfaction as currency. In which case, we’re all royally screwed.

And on that note, now that my intro notes are probably longer than the prologue itself, enjoy...

He was being followed.

It wasn’t a feeling that he had, like in one of those corny horror movies that he remembered watching with his little brother. He wasn’t merely experiencing some sort of vague sixth sense intuition that he was being followed. There was no sound of footfalls that stopped whenever he did. There was no shadow in his peripheral vision that suddenly was no longer there when he turned back to look.

No, whoever… or whatever it was that was following him, they were making no attempt at all to conceal their presence or their actions. Twice he stopped to look back, thinking that his pursuer would perhaps pretend to be doing something else or, more stereotypically, try to hide from sight. But he didn’t. The figure – and he called it that purely because he couldn’t see him… or it… clearly enough to even give it a gender – continued walking at a brisk pace behind him, neither speeding up, nor slowing down.

He might have been able to fool himself that maybe he wasn’t being followed at all, that perhaps it was just some person who happened to be walking behind him, in the same direction. He almost convinced himself of that, except that when he looked back a third time, he got an eyeful of what appeared to be some very sharp teeth.

His breath caught in his throat, and it was an effort not to panic. A trick of the light. It had to be a trick. No one had teeth like that. Trick or not, though, there was no doubt that this… individual had targeted him.

Overcome with panic, he finally gave in and broke into a run.

He rounded the corner at a full-run, barely able to avoid having his feet skid out from underneath him as he went. As he ran around the corner, he caught a glimpse of his pursuer, and his heart skipped a beat at the realisation that he/she/it was still moving at the exact same pace as before. Then he was around the corner, and out of sight of the thing behind him.

He turned down a familiar alley where he had a cosy spot behind a disused dumpster, sheltered from the worst of the wind. Curling up inside, he trembled violently as he waited for the adrenalin to fade. Minutes past, that felt more like hours, before he found the courage to crawl back out and peer around the dumpster. There was not a soul in sight, save for the occasional pedestrian passing by the entrance to the alley at a brisk pace.

Relief flooded him, along with a slightly goofy feeling that he'd been a complete and utter idiot. He wasn't being followed at all. It had only been his imagination, and nothing more. Grinning idiotically to himself, he turned to crawl back into his box, taking a moment to adjust the newspapers and make the rough bed just a little more acceptable.

He had a threadbare blanket that he'd scavenged from the garbage one night, and his own arm served as his pillow. Comforted by his familiar surroundings, and by the solitude it afforded him, he settled down and went to sleep.

He awoke to a hideous slurping sound, like someone who was trying to suck up the last dregs of a bowl of soup with a straw. His eyes slowly opened with much effort, and he found himself staring up at a marble-white mass that wholly encompassed his vision.

He tried to move, to sit up… to do something, only to find he was utterly helpless. Between the increasing weight of the body that pinned him down and the growing weakness in his limbs and body, he had no recourse to try and save himself. At the same time that he realised he was going to die, though, it also occurred to him that there was no pain. He’d always dreaded death, thinking that it would have to hurt terribly, but this? This was different. This was blessedly painless and, for the first time in a long, long time, he felt warm and inexplicably safe.

Nevertheless, a deeper instinct kicked in and even as he consciously felt the life draining from his body he tried to utter a word of protest. All that came out, though, was a strange gurgling moan.

A hand alighted on his head, stroking his hair in a bizarre, almost fatherly gesture, and the last thing he heard before the darkness took him were four guttural words spoken harshly in his ear.

“I give you peace.”

After that, he knew no more.

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