ANOTHER WORLD

“That was uncharacteristically diplomatic of you, Jack,” Gwen remarked with just the faintest hint of sarcasm as he joined them in the first task room. Jack didn’t try to hide his smirk as he pulled the shades on the windows, effectively putting a stop to any unwanted attention.

“Rule one. Try to piss off the natives as little as possible when you have to operate on their turf. You saw them. They were just about ready to shoot all of us.”

“But still,” Gwen mused with a smile. Jack shrugged as he stepped over to help Ianto lift a particularly heavy piece of equipment.

“Doesn’t hurt to try and avoid burning all the bridges, and we pissed them off enough at the scene earlier.”

“We?” Owen retorted. “What do you mean we, Harkness? You're the one who got in that other captain's face and practically decimated his authority in front of his subordinates.”

“Subordinates,” Gwen teased him. “That's an awfully big word for you, Owen.”

“Shut up, Gwen,” Owen grumbled. Tosh paused, looking at Jack in concern.

“Jack? Are you okay?”

Abrupt silence fell as all eyes turned to the captain. Jack had paled, and was looking just the slightest bit unsteady. At Tosh's words, though, he snapped out of it and came back to reality. His gaze went to Owen, and when he spoke it was in a forcibly calm voice.

“Don't use that word.”

Owen blinked, confused.

“What word?”

“Decimate.”

It came out of Jack's mouth like he was spitting out poison, and they all saw the shudder that passed through him as he said it. Owen appeared on the verge of arguing, or perhaps making some derogatory comment, only to stop himself as he took a good look at Jack. Finally, he nodded and spoke with no trace of amusement or mocking in his tone.

“Sure, Jack. Are you okay?”

Jack deliberately ignored the question, shaking himself out of his momentary daze, and a familiar, cheeky grin lit up his face.

“And besides, did you get a look at any of them? Who knew there’d be so many hot cops here? Can’t wait to…”

“Stop it,” Ianto growled, only half-joking, while Owen, Gwen and Tosh made no effort to hide their amusement. Jack threw him an incredulous look.

“I was going to say, I can’t wait to meet them.”

“My point exactly,” Ianto replied passively. Jack raised an eyebrow at him, and for a long moment the two men locked stares, with Ianto not quite able to completely hide a smirk.

“How long before we're ready to go?” Jack asked abruptly, deciding it was high time to move the conversation on. “Tosh?”

“Ten minutes,” Tosh answered, turning her attention to the laptop that she was in the process of booting up. “I just need to link up to the Hub's mainframe and databases. It won't be long.”

“Good,” Jack murmured. “Owen, take the scanner and head down to the morgue. I want the readings on the victims as soon as possible.”

“Okay,” Owen agreed, collecting the small bag in which the deep tissue scanner was held and heading for the door.

“Just a second, Jack,” Gwen spoke up. “Assuming you're right about what killed those people, how do we go about catching it?”

“Specifically,” Owen added, pausing just before heading out, “are we planning on catching it? Or did you have something else in mind?”

Silence met Owen’s question, and Jack suddenly found himself the focus of four intense stares, not exactly hostile but definitely concerned.

“We’re going to try and catch it,” Jack told them quietly, sincerely. “If we can catch it alive, I have a friend who’ll be able to deal with it. We’re not killing it unless we have no choice.”

“You’ve changed your attitude, Jack,” Owen retorted. Jack regarded him wryly.

“Would you rather I said we’re going to just blow it out of existence?”

“No, but at least we knew what to expect before. This new warm and fuzzy Jack is a little disconcerting, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

Jack couldn’t help the smile that quirked his lips in reaction to Owen’s remark.

“Get moving, Owen. I need to know what you find with the victims’ bodies.”

Owen nodded and pushed the door open.

“If you don’t hear from me within the next hour, it probably means I’ve been shot by some demented New York copper who’s got it in for Special Ops.”

Jack grunted as the door swung shut again behind Owen.

“I think he might have more to worry about from their Medical Examiner. Gwen?”

She looked up from where she had been helping Ianto to boot up the rest of the laptops.

“What is it, Jack?”

“I want you to go and talk to those two detectives.”

“What, now?”

He raised an eyebrow at her.

“Unless you had something better to do…?”

Gwen reddened slightly.

“Sorry. Okay… I’ll go and do that, then.”

“Oh, and Gwen,” Jack added as she headed for the door. She paused, looking back at him questioningly. Jack’s expression was deadly serious as he spoke to her. “Don’t let them intimidate you. This may be their territory, but we’ve got the authority. Don’t forget that. And don’t let them try to wheedle anything out of you, either.”

“I’m not a newbie anymore, Jack,” Gwen told him reprovingly. “I think I can handle a couple of Yankee coppers.”

Jack nodded.

“I hope so. But just in case, keep your earpiece switched on. If you have any problems, I’ll know about it.”

She stared at him scathingly.

“So you can come running to my rescue? I can deal with it, Jack.”

She marched out of the room before he had the chance to respond. Jack watched her go, chewing thoughtfully on his lower lip, not sure whether to be annoyed or amused.

“She’ll be fine, Jack,” Tosh insisted, not taking her eyes off the laptop screen in front of her. “Have a little faith.”

Jack swallowed a sigh as he leaned back gingerly against the wall of the office.

“It’s not Gwen that I’m worried about.”

Tosh paused then in what she was doing to exchange a concerned glance with Ianto. Neither one of them needed a translation program to know what Jack was really talking about. He was deeply worried, and probably with good reason, that the detectives in question would not be satisfied with simply handing the case over to Torchwood. There was little they could do, though, except to hope that the Americans showed some common sense, and stayed well away from business that simply didn’t concern them.


The moment that Gwen walked out of the task room, she could feel the eyes of the entire Major Case Squad zeroing in on her. She paused, taking in a long breath before having to will herself away from the door. She clung almost ferociously to Jack's words as she approached the desk where the two detectives in question were sitting, telling herself over and over again that she had authority over them in this particular case. It took some effort not to pull a face. She just hoped that she could pull it off.

Walking over to the conjoined desks with all the confidence she could muster, she was almost painfully aware of the pervasive stares that the two detectives were sending in her direction. All of a sudden, she felt markedly less than sure of herself, and had to actively fight against a desire to turn and flee back to the safety of the task room, and Jack's all-encompassing protection.

Damn it, she was Gwen Cooper, former Cardiff copper, and member of Torchwood! No copper – British, American or otherwise – was going to succeed in intimidating her. Bolstered by her own bold thoughts, Gwen picked up her pace and walked briskly across the room.

She came to a halt by their desks, and was very nearly undone by the piercing, suspicious looks she was getting from them both. It reminded her a little too vividly of Andy back home, and every time that she'd run into him at a crime scene. The last time that she'd seen him had been just before she and her colleagues had stupidly allowed themselves to be tricked into opening up the rift. Then, she and Jack had gone to collect a Roman soldier from police custody, and she acutely remembered the derisive sneer and disbelieving words he'd muttered at the idea of something... anything supernatural.

'Mulder and Scully', Andy had called her and Jack, and she couldn't help but wonder just how long it would be before similar jokes were going around this place.

Authority, she reminded herself, and spoke as formally as she could bring herself to.

“My name's Gwen Cooper. I need to speak to you both about your involvement with the case.”

The detectives exchanged glances, each one thinking the same thing, and quietly delighted to be given such an early opportunity to mess with one of the interlopers.

Just Gwen Cooper?” Alex queried in a deceptively pleasant voice. “Not Agent Cooper? Or Detective Cooper?”

It was with some effort that Gwen resisted the urge to point out her previous career with the Cardiff police. Somehow, she doubted that introducing herself as former Police Constable Gwen Cooper would be in any way impressive to these two detectives.

“We don't bother using pointless titles,” she answered in what she sincerely hoped was a dismissive tone. “It's just Gwen Cooper, Torchwood.”

Again, Bobby and Alex exchanged pointed looks, and Gwen had the sudden, unnerving sensation that they were somehow reading each other's thoughts.

“So...” Bobby began mildly, “if you don't bother with pointless titles, then your captain...”

Gwen raised an eyebrow nonchalantly.

“What about him?”

A slight smile cross Bobby's face.

“So, his title of captain means what, exactly...?”

Gwen couldn't help flinching slightly, and quietly cursed herself for the unintentional slip. Both detectives had definitely seen it, for their delight was even more obvious than before. She resisted an urge to look back over her shoulder, as though suddenly fearful that she would find Jack was watching her – perhaps evaluating her on how succinctly she dealt with these two brash detectives.

Steeling herself, she took a deliberate step back and motioned to the second, as yet empty task room.

“I'd like to speak with you both. Now, please.”

For a third time, the detectives exchanged a surreptitious glance, neither one as yet making any effort to move from their seats. For nearly a minute they were locked in a stalemate, and just as Gwen was starting to think they were going to completely disregard her, Bobby finally pushed himself to his feet and headed toward the task room.

“In here?” he asked, with more than a hint of the sardonic in his tone. “Exactly in here?”

Biting back a powerful desire to make a sarcastic remark, Gwen nodded brusquely. She waited for them to walk inside, and then followed. She wasn't quite quick enough in pulling the door closed to avoid hearing the sniggering laughter that washed across the squad room, and quietly fumed at the heat that rose in her cheeks.

“So, Gwen Cooper of Torchwood,” Bobby said with not-quite-concealed amusement. “What did you want to know?”

Gwen stared intently at him for several long seconds without speaking, and he responded in kind.

“Detective...?” she asked, careful to keep her tone bland and mildly uninterested.

“Goren,” he answered, obviously deciding to show some degree of civility. “Detective Bobby Goren, and my senior partner, Detective Alex Eames.”

Gwen nodded in appreciation.

“Thankyou. When did you take on this case?”

Once more, the two detectives looked at each other, and Gwen was starting to suspect she'd made a mistake in talking to them together. She could almost hear Jack's voice in her head, half-teasing and half-reprimanding her for making such a rookie blunder. From the looks of it, the detectives sitting across from her were thinking much the same thing, and intending on taking full advantage of it. If they decided to gang up on her, she thought ruefully, she wouldn't have a chance.

“We were given the case with the fourth victim,” Alex answered, deciding to be cooperative at least for the moment. “The Homicide squad that caught it to start with hadn't made any progress. The brass was getting antsy...”

“Sorry... brass?” Gwen interrupted, puzzled by the term of reference. Bobby answered, and this time there was no mocking in his tone.

“Our superior officers. The Chief of Detectives, the Commissioner...”

“The Mayor, the Governor,” Alex added dryly. Gwen raised an eyebrow, recognising the subtle rancour in her tone only too well.

“Let me guess. Politics always interfering, getting in the way of getting the job done?”

“You sound like you know what it's like,” Bobby said, flashing her a warm and sincere smile, and Gwen smiled wryly in response.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. A year ago, I was a PC with CID in Cardiff. There was always interference of one sort or another in the job. Got to the point where we couldn't do a thing without some bloody politician hovering at our shoulders.”

“A year ago?” Bobby mused. “So what happened to make you leave the police and join up with a group like Torchwood?”

At that, Gwen's expression faltered and for a brief moment she was caught up in her memories. A rainy night, and a glove that brought people back to life... Suzie, and the alien knife... Jack being shot in the head and then getting up again, as though nothing had happened...

She blinked, and her vision came back into focus to find both Bobby and Alex watching her with intense interest.

“It was time for a change,” she answered simply. “Tell me about the first scene you attended.”

Bobby's eyebrows lifted just slightly at Gwen's apparent indifference, but he decided not to comment on it. At least, not right then.

“There was no difference between that scene, and all the others,” Bobby said. “The bodies of the victims were all in the exact same state.”

“No witnesses?” Gwen asked, and Alex shook her head.

“No, which you'd know if you'd waited to read the case files before talking to us.”

If the remark was intended to sting, it missed its mark. Instead, Gwen actually smiled in response.

“Maybe so,” she agreed, “but I prefer talking to people directly.” She looked across at Bobby. “Don't you?”

Bobby couldn't resist smiling, seeing a budding profiler in the young woman.

“Yes,” he admitted. “We do. Tell us, Miss Cooper...”

“Please, just call me Gwen,” she told them. “I hate being called Miss Cooper. Sounds so ruddy formal.”

Bobby chuckled, despite himself. He'd intended to thoroughly crush this young woman into verbal submission, but the more they talked the more he found himself beginning to respect her. It couldn't be easy for someone like her to find their confidence around a booming personality like her captain.

“Call me Bobby, then. Tell us, Gwen, what exactly can Torchwood do here that we can't?”

At that, Gwen smiled, and there was something not so pleasant in that smile.

“You'll have to just trust us, there, Bobby. Tell me about the crime scenes. Was there anything unusual?” She paused, and laughed softly at the absurdity of her own question. “Aside from the obvious, that is.”

Bobby was already starting to shake his head, but a look flashed across Alex's face that set alarms off in Gwen's mind.

“What?” she asked, turning a quizzical look on the other woman. “What are you thinking about?”

Alex paused in answering, looking warily at her partner. She knew it was relevant, although she didn't understand how. Whether Bobby would appreciate it being dragged into the open, though, was a matter of opinion. Still, in the spirit of cooperation...

“Bobby has had a physical reaction at every one of the scenes we've attended,” she said abruptly, ignoring the dark look that he threw in her direction. Gwen's interest very clearly piqued at hearing that piece of news.

“Oh, right? What sort of reaction?”

“Nausea,” Alex said. “Migraines...”

“Vertigo,” Bobby added ruefully, and with a great deal of reluctance. Gwen had produced a small notepad from within her jacket, and was busy writing down the symptoms that the detectives were quoting.

“How long have they lasted for?” Gwen asked. “The symptoms, that is.”

“Only for as long as we've been at each of the crime scenes,” Bobby admitted. “Except for the migraine. That lasted all day. Does it mean anything to you?”

“No,” Gwen admitted. “But you never know what might be relevant, right?”

Again, Bobby smiled faintly. He really was starting to like her.

“Right,” he agreed.

“Your boss,” Alex said abruptly, and Gwen's eyebrows shot up.

“Better not let him hear you call him that. He hates the word boss. He especially hates it when it's applied to him.”

“But he is your boss, isn't he?” Alex pressed. Gwen nodded.

“Yes, but we prefer to think of Jack as our leader, not our boss.”

“And you call him Jack, not 'Captain',” Alex threw in, frowning.

“Oh, aye. Ianto is the only one who ever calls him 'sir', and I think he does that just to piss Jack off.”

“You have a very casual working relationship there,” Bobby pointed out. Gwen nodded.

“Yes, that's true. But it's what works for us. We're not like you, we don't operate in the same way. Don't ask me to explain that, because I can't.”

“Go on,” Alex encouraged her, her tone just a little too clipped for it to be purely conversational. “Give it a try.”

Gwen paused, thinking back to that night in the pub, when Jack had told her candidly what Torchwood did, and then ret-conned her. Hoping that she could make it sound as definitive as Jack had, she spoke firmly.

“We’re Torchwood. We’re outside the police, above the government and beyond the United Nations.”

“Sounds like the CIA,” Alex muttered, not sure whether to laugh or groan.

“Who does Torchwood answer to?” Bobby asked, frowning. Again, Gwen hesitated, wondering how best to answer that somewhat loaded question. As it happened, she was rescued from further difficulties when the door suddenly opened, and Jack strode in. She found herself cringing at the sight of his dark features.

“Gwen, go and help Tosh,” he told her. “Now.”

She went without argument, though she favoured him with an angry glare as she went, humiliated by what she saw as an unwarranted interruption. Jack watched her go, closing the door firmly behind her before turning back to face the two detectives. He said nothing, but simply stood there with his arms crossed forbiddingly across his chest, and staring at them with an expression that left both Bobby and Alex feeling slightly off-kilter.

Gwen had clearly been an inexperienced rookie, but this man was not, and even Bobby hesitated in actively engaging him in a verbal battle. Jack advanced slowly towards the desk, and they had to concede that he cut a very imposing figure.

“Tell me one thing, Detectives,” Jack said bluntly. “Are you more interested in the killer being stopped, or protecting your own reputations?”

It was a deliberately aimed barb, and it well and truly hit home. Alex was on her feet so fast that Jack had to make a conscious effort not to step backwards.

“Excuse us? You’re the ones who have barged in here and taken over! We’ve been working our asses off on this case!”

“And how far has it gotten you?” Jack asked without so much as blinking.

“You son of a bitch,” Alex snarled, but Jack appeared unconcerned by her anger.

“Yeah, been called that before,” he mused. “Seriously, though, we are not messing around here. Now, we were told you lot are professionals. Do yourselves and this city a favour, and cooperate.”

“I bet you have a regular turn-over of staff,” Alex snarked at him. Jack favoured them both with a quasi-sympathetic smile which only served to infuriate her further.

“You’d be surprised. Torchwood is not something you quit. Ever.” And then, abruptly, the smile vanished in the blink of an eye and Alex found herself the focus of a hard stare that could easily have rivalled Bobby's skills.

“Sit down, Detective Eames. We're not done yet.”

When Alex hesitated, glaring defiantly at Jack, Bobby took the liberty of reaching up to touch her very lightly on the hand.

“Eames, please... This isn't getting us anywhere. Just sit. Please...”

With an audible noise of frustration that raised the tiniest of smiles in both men, Alex sat down again with a heavy thud. Satisfied, Jack took up the seat which Gwen had occupied only a minute before.

“These attacks that you've been experiencing at the crime scenes,” he started to say, turning his attention to Bobby. “With the exception of the migraine, each time it only lasted for as long as you were at the crime scene?”

The confused expression on both detectives' faces was priceless, and if the situation hadn't been so serious, Jack would have laughed.

“How did you know about those?” Alex demanded to know incredulously. “That's not common knowledge!”

Bobby, however, spoke in wonder before Jack had a chance to reply.

“Your earpieces. That's Bluetooth technology. You were listening in from the moment we came in here with Gwen, weren't you?”

Jack smiled amusedly, and nodded in confirmation.

“Very good, Detective. Very observant. Yes, you're right. Bluetooth, combined with global satellite technology. As long as the earpieces are switched on, they allow us to stay in communication with each other at all times, no matter where we are. The range is unlimited. It's a little more convenient and secure than your standard cell phone.”

“Are we done?” Alex asked in a snappish tone, irritated by Bobby's almost child-like fascination with the fancy technology. “We have work to do.”

“Not quite, Detective,” Jack replied, not taking his gaze from Bobby for even a moment. “You haven't answered my question yet.”

Bobby fell silent, staring sourly at Jack. He answered, though, as if a small part of him knew deep down that he had no choice but to answer the question. He spoke, hoping this mysterious captain would not drop him in hot water with Ross.

“Except for the migraine, it only lasts for as long as we're at each scene. Once we've left, it goes away.”

Jack's expression was unreadable as he stared at him hard, much to Bobby's frustration. He was more than a little disturbed to find that he couldn't read anything at all in those pale blue eyes. It was almost as though there was a veil there, shielding Jack from him.

“Describe it,” Jack told him, his tone brooking no argument. Bobby hesitated nevertheless, momentarily thrown. He'd tried damned hard not to think about it, and to put his complete focus on the case.

“I'm not asking you for my own amusement,” Jack told him. “It could be important. Please tell me the truth.”

Bobby resisted a powerful urge to sigh, and finally made himself answer, all the while acutely aware of Alex's piercing stare on him. He didn't have to be a genius to know that she was pissed off with him, and he supposed that she had every right to be. He'd not been totally honest with her over these attacks, over how bad they really were, and he'd never intended for her to find out. Something in Jack's tone compelled him to give full disclosure, though, and as the words came spilling out Bobby could only hope she was not too angry with him.

“It's been something different every time. The first scene that we went to, I just felt dizzy... bad vertigo... although I've never had vertigo before. I walked around feeling like I was going to tip over any second.”

“I remember,” Alex said ruefully. “I had a hell of a time convincing Ross that you weren't drunk or hung over. One of the uniforms at the scene saw you stumbling around, and reported back to him that you turned up drunk.”

“Thanks,” Bobby muttered, not entirely sure whether to be pleased at hearing that. Jack fought back a smirk, his thoughts momentarily encompassed by an image of Bobby stumbling drunkenly around a crime scene.

“What else?” he pressed. Bobby scrubbed a hand over his face. When they'd allowed Gwen to usher them inside that room, both he and Alex had had visions of turning her interview around, and making her into the one being interrogated. They'd almost succeeded, but then Captain Jack Harkness had taken control, and now the tables had been turned yet again. Realising he had no option but to cooperate, at least right then, Bobby answered the question.

“The next time, it was bizarre, like I was walking around with a... a wet towel wrapped around my head. I could barely think straight. The next time was the migraine... And at the last scene I had...”

He trailed off, glancing from Jack to Alex and looking painfully uneasy. Jack sat forward a little, sensing something of mild interest on the horizon.

“What?”

“Cramps,” Bobby admitted ruefully. Alex eyed him incredulously, as though she couldn't quite believe what had just come out of his mouth.

“Excuse me?”

“Abdominal cramps?” Jack asked. “Like PMS?”

To Alex's amusement, a bright flush rose in Bobby's cheeks and he looked seriously as though he wanted to sink under the table and into the floor.

“I wouldn't know,” he retorted. “I don't exactly have any basis for comparison.”

“No wonder you wouldn't say anything,” Alex snorted, and his flush deepened even more. “This is great. My partner has PMS...”

“And this morning?” Jack pressed, deciding to move the discussion on. Bobby looked moderately grateful for the obvious tactic.

“Nausea,” he answered. “Thought I was going to be sick from the second I got out of the SUV.”

Jack frowned to himself as he tossed the information over in his mind.

“These attacks...”

“I wouldn't exactly call them attacks,” Bobby protested with a frown. Jack shrugged, uncaring about the description that they used.

“Attacks, afflictions, whatever you want to call them. They all started the moment you arrived at the crime scenes?”

“The second I'd get out of the SUV,” Bobby admitted. “And they'd stop again the moment I got back into the SUV.”

“Except for the migraine,” Alex corrected him.

“Yes, but even that wasn't as bad as it was at the scene, right?” Jack threw in. Bobby eyed him briefly before conceding.

“Right. By the time we got back here, it was more like an echo. Bad... but not as bad.”

“You think this is important, or relevant somehow,” Alex said, frowning at Jack. The Captain sat back calmly, and regarded them with a passive interest.

“Maybe. Maybe not. But we need to look at everything. Don't we?”

For nearly a minute, they stared at Jack while he stared right back at them, like they were caught in the middle of some strange showdown. Eventually, the silence was broken when Alex spoke tersely.

“Are we done yet?”

“Almost,” Jack assured her. He stood up, then, drawing himself up to his full height and staring at them with an unflinching gaze. “I want you both to listen very carefully to what I'm going to say now. I won't be repeating it. Keep out of our way, Detectives. Don't get any ideas about following us around in the hope that I'll give in and say all right, you can tag along. It's not going to happen. However, if you do decide to ignore me, and you follow us, just remember this. If you... either of you... put my team in danger through trying to put your noses where they don't belong, you'll get to see me angry, and believe me when I tell you that's the last thing you want. You do not want to see me angry.”

Aware as he was of Alex's aggravated reaction to the mysterious captain, Bobby stared up at Jack, increasingly intrigued by the sketchy profile that he was starting to form in his mind.

“You care about them,” he murmured. Jack returned his gaze, steady and calm, and Bobby could have sworn that he looked amused.

“They're my team,” he said simply. “My responsibility. Yes, I care about them.” He held off from adding that the many trials they'd gone through together had been one of the prime catalysts for bringing them closer than they'd ever been before... and also the catalyst for his extreme protectiveness. None of that was their business, he told himself.”

“A secretive captain in charge of a secretive group,” Alex remarked. “You're very mysterious, Captain Harkness.”

The first hints of a smile appeared on Jack's lips, and he couldn't resist the opportunity, as he saw it being presented. She was, after all, a very attractive woman... and he didn't think that her partner was all that bad to look at, either.

“It's all a part of the charm, Detective Eames,” he quipped to her. “I could give you a chance to get to know me better...”

The words were barely out of his mouth when Ianto's voice reverberated firmly in his ear.

'Stop it, sir.'

Jack blinked, caught by surprise by the admonishment, and resolved to ask later whether Ianto had happened to talk to a certain Doctor at some point since his return home. Shaking off his bemusement, he looked to see the Detectives staring at him, neither one looking especially impressed.

Damn, he thought in annoyance, unsure whether to blame himself or Ianto's unwanted interruption.

“Who the hell are you?” Alex asked suddenly, a dark frown creasing her brow. Jack's amusement was back as fast as it had vanished, and so was the big grin.

“I'm Captain Jack Harkness,” he informed her.

“We checked up on you,” she shot back at him. “The only Captain Jack Harkness we could find went missing in World War II. Since you're a little young to be him, we have to wonder who you really are.”

Jack's grin widened, given the detectives the distinct impression that he was actually thoroughly enjoying their attempt at interrogating him.

“Oh, you'd be surprised at how old I really am, Detective Eames.”

“Go ahead, then,” she shot back. “Amaze me.”

Impossibly, his grin grew even wider in response to her verbal challenge.

“I would love to amaze you, Detective Eames, believe me... but another time, perhaps. Right now...” He paused, looking from her back to Bobby. “I think you've both told me everything you can. So now you have your job to do, and we have ours. Do yourselves as well as us a favour, and pretend we're not even here.”

“Easier said than done,” Bobby pointed out as Jack abruptly wheeled around and strode from the room. Once he'd gone, Bobby looked across at Alex, eyebrows raised. She had a similar look on her face.

“First time they leave the building,” Alex said in a low voice, “we grab Logan and follow them. This was our case, and I am not giving it up to the Scooby Squad.”

Bobby nodded in wordless agreement, although he couldn't stop the uneasy feeling that invaded his gut, warning him that such action would be a dreadful mistake.


“I never pegged you for being the jealous type,” Jack remarked sourly to Ianto as he walked back into their makeshift Hub. Ianto couldn't resist a smirk.

“I'm not, sir. But do you really think flirting with a detective that you've just booted off a high profile case is going to prove... fruitful?”

“You're underestimating my skills,” Jack admonished him, but again Ianto only smiled.

“Not at all, sir. I'm well-versed in your skills, if you'll remember, and I'd never dream of underestimating them.”

Where she sat at her laptop, Toshiko coughed conspicuously. Jack deliberately ignored her, but what he couldn't continue to ignore were Gwen's eyes, boring holes in his back. Bracing himself, he turned to face her directly.

“Out with it,” he told her. She glowered at him.

“Out with what?”

“Don't play games, Gwen. Just say it. You're mad at me.”

“Whatever gave you that idea?” she snapped. “Just because you sent me to talk to those detectives, and then walked in and took over like I was some stupid rookie...”

“I shouldn't have asked you to do it in the first place,” Jack told her. “It's not a reflection on you. Those are seasoned detectives. You weren't ready to deal with them. It was my mistake, not yours.”

She snorted derisively.

“Oh, well, thankyou so much! That makes me feel so much better!”

Jack sighed heavily, deciding he wasn't prepared to deal with tantrums from anyone on his team.

“Gwen, you wanna be mad at me? Fine, but save it until this is over, and we're home again. I really don't have the time or the patience for this. Okay?”

She stared at him, and he could almost feel the daggers in her glare. But then, finally, she conceded with a nod and the anger subsided in her eyes.

“Okay,” she said quietly. Jack couldn't quite conceal his relief.

“Thankyou.”

Before Jack had a chance to say anything more, there was a sharp rap on the door. Looking from Gwen to Ianto and Tosh in mild surprise, Jack walked over and opened the door to find a grim-faced Captain Ross at the door.

“Captain Harkness,” Ross said tersely, not giving Jack a chance to speak a word. “Would you mind accompanying me down to the morgue?”

At the word 'morgue', Jack's first thought was that Owen had been filleted by one of the Medical Examiners. Grimacing, he nodded and stepped out of the task room, taking care to pull the door closed behind him.


“Is there a problem, Captain Ross?” Jack asked as they stepped into the elevator. Ross grimaced, again looking very much as though he’d prefer to be elsewhere.

“Of a sort. Let’s just say that apparently our Medical Examiner and your Dr Harper are having a difference of opinion down in the morgue, and I would really like to see it resolved as quickly as possible.” He threw a sharp look of warning at Jack, continuing to speak before Jack could get a word out. “Your team might have priority, but we still have to co-exist in this building. If you and your people can’t accept that, then we are going to have some real problems.”

Silence met Ross’s words and, for a minute as the elevator descended, Jack just stared wordlessly at the wall. When he did finally speak, it was in a genuinely apologetic tone that left Ross feeling mildly disconcerted.

“I’m sorry, Captain Ross. You’re right. I’ll talk to Owen, and to the rest of my team.”

Ross blinked in surprise, completely taken aback. It was obvious that he hadn’t expected such whole-hearted agreement from Jack.

“This might surprise you, Captain Ross, but I’m not a total bastard. I do know how to play with others, when I have to.”

Ross huffed slightly, holding back from making an unnecessarily snide remark about certain detectives needing to learn to do the same.

“Right. Wait until you meet our ME, and see if you still think that way.”

Jack raised his eyebrows in amusement, but said nothing.


They could hear the angry voices the moment that the elevator doors slid open. Jack could hear Owen’s frustrated voice, intermixed with that of a very angry woman. He looked quizzically at Ross, who nodded in confirmation.

“Our ME,” he replied to the unspoken question, and Jack groaned softly and rocked back slightly on his heels.

“All right, then. Let’s get this worked out so that we can both get back to work. Lead the way, Captain Ross.”

The sight that met them was akin to a high noon stand-off, Jack mused ruefully as they found Owen and ME Rodgers almost nose to nose, and neither one willing to back down.

“Jack!” Owen burst out as soon he spotted him walking in with Ross. “About bloody time. She won’t let me anywhere near the bloody bodies.”

“Rodgers,” Ross said wearily, “we were ordered to cooperate. That included you, I believe.”

Rodgers turned a furious glare on the captain, and spoke with pure venom in her voice.

“I am not letting that little swine into my morgue!” she snarled. Jack looked back at Owen with a frown.

“What did you say to her, Owen?”

“You just assume it was me?” Owen retorted. “That is an insult, Captain.”

Jack had to actively fight back a smirk, knowing that his humour probably wouldn’t be appreciated by anyone at that point.

“It’s only an insult if it’s not true. What did you say to her?”

“His words,” Rodgers fumed, “were along the lines of ‘step aside, sweetheart, the professionals are here now’.”

Both Jack and Ross winced at the revelation – Jack, because of the outright tactlessness of the remark, and Ross because he knew what had happened to the last unfortunate soul who stupidly called Rodgers ‘sweetheart’.

“Owen, c’mere,” Jack muttered, slinging an arm around Owen’s shoulders and leading him away to where they could talk. Ross watched them go, and then looked back to Rodgers, who was still fuming.

“I’m sorry,” he apologised. “If I had my way, they would never have set foot inside the building.”

“Why the hell are they here?” Rodgers demanded to know. “What good is it possibly going to do?”

“I don’t know,” Ross admitted tiredly. “I really do not know.”


“Owen, when I said not to take any crap, I didn’t mean this!” Jack hissed. Owen shrugged unapologetically.

“Okay, so maybe it was a little tactless. She still can’t keep me out!”

“No,” Jack agreed. “She can’t. But I’d prefer to not have to call the President again, just because we need validation, because we can’t get along with the locals!”

“You get me past that old Trojan,” Owen told him tensely, “and I’ll try playing nicely. I promise, okay?”

Jack regarded him ruefully.

“You’d better, Owen. We need the space to work.”

“You really want me to be all nice and cooperative?” Owen told him shortly. “You know what you need to do. You need Teaboy upstairs to start working his coffee magic. I’m deprived, Jack. I need that fix! Especially after getting straight off a goddamn twenty hour plane flight and having to jump straight into work!”

Jack sighed. Owen definitely had a point.

“Okay. I’ll get you in there, you get to work, and I’ll talk to Ianto about coffee.”

Owen nodded, placated.

“That’s what I needed to hear.”

Suppressing the desire to slap the younger man up-side the head, Jack walked back over to where Ross and Rodgers were waiting.

“I’ve spoken to Owen. He understands that this is your area, and he’s just a guest. Right, Owen?”

Owen nodded, and put on the most genuine smile that he could manage, jet-lagged as he was.

“Right. Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that to come out like it did. We just got of a twenty-plus hour flight from Cardiff, and to have to jump straight into it… I wasn’t exactly at the top of my game, you know? I really am genuinely sorry.”

Ross glanced at Rodgers, and was relieved to see the scowl fade just a fraction. She looked from Owen to Jack, and then back to Owen again before nodding in reluctant concession.

“All right. Come with me, I’ll show you the other seven victims.”

Throwing Jack a smirk, Owen followed Rodgers through into the morgue.

“Gonna slap him so hard one of these days,” Jack muttered, though there was a degree of affection in his voice that Ross couldn’t help but pick up on.

“Let me guess,” he said quietly as they headed back towards the elevator. “Worth the frustration?”

“Barely,” Jack retorted. “Only barely.”

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