One Police Plaza
Bobby arrived at the Major Case squad room just before five o’clock that morning after yet another sleepless night. He knew Alex would throttle him if she knew what time he’d shown up at the office, so he was hoping furiously that no one else was there yet, and he would be able to hide himself away in one of the task rooms to study the case files and evidence... His thoughts virtually derailed as he walked into the bullpen, and his gaze went to the three main task rooms, currently off-limits to all but Torchwood.
Torchwood, he thought with a frown, and fancied that the mere thought of the secret group left a bad taste in his mouth. It was like the Squad had been overrun by the CIA. Slowly, he found himself drawn to the door of the first task room, the curiosity already starting to bubble within him. All of a sudden, he desperately wanted to know what was behind that door, and what sort of equipment that they were using.
His hand was on the doorknob and, before he could even begin to think what a bad idea it was, he’d opened the door and walked in.
At a glance, there didn’t seem to be anything particularly out of the ordinary. There were five laptops set up around the table, each one in sleep mode. Not expecting to be able to access any of them, he wandered over and tapped a key on the nearest laptop. He was startled when the laptop flickered to life and he found himself confronted with a strange program that he didn’t recognise or understand. Before he had a chance to get a closer look, a voice spoke almost directly behind him.
“See something that interests you?”
Bobby turned so fast that he caught his hip on the edge of the table and stumbled. He would have fallen, but for a strong pair of hands that closed around his shoulders and pulled him back upright. A moment later, Bobby found himself standing unnervingly close to the Torchwood captain, with the other man’s hands gripping his shoulders and holding him close.
“Easy does it,” Jack said with just the slightest hint of amusement.
“Thanks,” Bobby muttered ruefully. Jack, however, didn’t release his grip, and Bobby was suddenly uncomfortably aware of the other man’s gaze sweeping him up and down in a blatant show of checking him out. And then, abruptly, Jack stepped backwards, away from him.
“There’s nothing in here to interest you, Detective. If you’ve got questions, why don’t we take it somewhere else, and you can ask me what you want directly.”
For several long seconds, Bobby said nothing, torn between putting up a show of being abashed at being caught snooping, and abandoning that pretence in favour of wanting to know more about what Torchwood was doing. Eventually, he settled for the latter, and decided it was time to see what he could get out of Jack.
“Care for coffee, Captain?” he asked. “My shout.”
Bobby could have sworn the smirk on Jack’s lips widened just fractionally. Jack stepped back, and motioned to the door.
“After you, Detective.”
Wondering just what he was letting himself in for, Bobby exited the room with Jack right behind him.
“Had you been there long?” Bobby asked as they ensconced themselves in a corner of a little café just a few minutes later with large mugs of steaming, fresh coffee. “In the squad room, I mean.”
Jack paused in answering, taking a moment to sip at the coffee.
“Mm, this is good,” he said approvingly. “Almost as good as Ianto’s coffee. I’m telling you, Detective, you haven’t tasted coffee until you’ve tried Ianto’s coffee.” He took another mouthful, his eyes closing briefly as he enjoyed the rich taste, before focusing on Bobby once more. “And yeah, I’d been there for a while. I saw you come in.”
Bobby held Jack’s gaze unapologetically.
“I won’t apologise for looking.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to. What sort of detective would you be if you didn’t snoop?” Jack smiled faintly, and shook his head. “Forget it. Just tell me honestly, did you even understand any of what you were looking at?”
Bobby hesitated, and then sighed and shook his head.
“No,” he admitted. Jack nodded, satisfied.
“There you go, then. You got to snoop, I don’t need to ret-con you, and we can all still be friends.” He paused again, eyeing Bobby’s sceptical expression, and chuckled. “Well, maybe not. Anyway, no harm done. Just don’t try it again.”
Bobby took a mouthful of coffee, relishing the burning sensation that the scalding liquid left in his mouth. He had questions that he desperately wanted to ask, but at the same time he sensed that to go ahead and ask would not necessarily be the wisest move. And so he turned his focus inwards, trying his best to stomp down on his curiosity.
Jack watched Bobby with open amusement. The big detective was trying so hard to quash his curiosity, but if the guy was anything like Gwen then his curiosity was a deeply set instinct, and impossible to ignore.
“You remind me of Gwen, when I first met her,” Jack remarked, and Bobby looked up at him quizzically.
“Mm. She had a driving need to know everything about us.” He paused, contemplating that for a moment before going on. “I wonder sometimes whether she wishes she’d just left well enough alone.”
Bobby eyed Jack critically, intrigued by the sudden wistfulness in his tone.
“Do you wish she had?” he asked, and an odd look flickered across Jack’s face at the question.
“Sometimes I do,” he admitted, surprising Bobby by actually responding. “Mostly, no. She brings something to the team that the rest of us can’t supply. And… she keeps me human.”
Bobby had little time to wonder exactly what Jack meant by that comment. Jack went on, a wry smile twisting his lips just slightly.
“Go ahead,” the captain said, deciding to cut Bobby some slack. “Ask what you want to ask. I can’t promise I’ll answer, but go ahead and ask.”
“Who are you?” Bobby asked, all but blurting it out. Jack grinned openly.
“You tried that one yesterday, Detective. I told you who I am.”
A small smile crossed Bobby’s lips, leaving Jack wondering just what was going through the other man’s mind.
“And you didn’t answer, not properly.”
Jack leaned across the table towards Bobby, and flashed a brilliant grin at him.
“What makes you think I’ll answer now?”
Despite himself, Bobby couldn’t help smiling back. He really couldn’t help it – there was something in the man’s smile that was infectious.
“I had to try,” Bobby said with a slight shrug.
“I know,” Jack conceded. Bobby hesitated, peering thoughtfully at Jack over the top of his coffee.
“Tell me this then, if you can. How does an American man come to end up heading what is effectively a secret organisation in another country?”
Jack sorely wanted to laugh. Bobby’s choice of wording seemed innocuous enough, but Jack had no problems catching the subtle attempt to lead him into giving up information about himself and Torchwood.
“What makes you think I’m American?” he asked as he took another mouthful of coffee. Bobby blinked, caught by surprise by the counter-question.
“Well, the accent is a bit of a give-away,” he said finally. Jack laughed softly and shook his head.
“You people, and your quaint little categories.”
Bobby’s eyebrows went up at the odd comment, but he chose to ignore it, storing it away in his library-like mind for later reference.
“So… You’re saying that you’re not American?” he pressed, and Jack laughed out loud, amused by the big detective’s perseverance.
“You’re persistent, I’ll give you that!”
Bobby was again unapologetic.
“What can I say? I’m the stubborn type.”
An odd look flickered across Jack’s face at that comment, and Bobby though he saw a momentary recognition in the other man’s eyes. Although, what might have precipitated such a look, Bobby had no idea.
“Yeah,” Jack murmured, suddenly sounding a little more sombre than before. “That makes two of us, Detective Goren.”
“You haven’t answered my question,” Bobby pointed out, and Jack sighed in mock exasperation.
“All right,” he gave in finally. “I’m a UK citizen. I have been for… a long time.”
He had to catch himself there, much to his own surprise, after very nearly adding ‘for the last eighty or so years’. That, he thought ruefully, would have been a little harder to brush off. Although, the look he was seeing on Bobby’s face right then was setting off some serious alarms in his mind in any case. Time, he decided, to shift the focus of the conversation away from himself.
“How long have you been with the NYPD, Detective Goren?”
Bobby didn’t have to pause at all before answering that question.
“Nineteen years. I’ve been a detective for twelve of those years.”
“You must enjoy the job,” Jack remarked casually, all the while watching Bobby with a piercing stare.
At that, and much to Jack’s curiosity, Bobby hesitated in answering.
“I like the job,” he said finally, choosing his words with great care, as though he was terrified that it might get back to the wrong person. “And, I have a great partner.”
Jack sat back a little, intrigued enough to press for greater detail.
“I’m sensing a little dissatisfaction here.”
Bobby didn’t look up, although whether that was because he couldn’t meet Jack’s gaze, or whether he was simply lost in thought, Jack didn’t know and wasn’t going to speculate.
“It… It hasn’t been an easy couple of years,” he admitted softly. “We had a change of command last year, after our former captain was forced to retire under a cloud over something he didn’t even do… The new guy…”
“Yes. He’s been difficult to adjust to. I mean, he’s a good cop, but it just… It’s not the same. Deakins understood me… It seems like Ross doesn’t even want to try.”
Jack felt a twinge of sympathy, recalling more than one time in his life when he’d had a good relationship under a particular senior officer, only to then have to adjust to someone entirely new. It was never easy, and by the looks of it this detective had found it especially hard. Bobby went on, oblivious to the silent sympathy he was getting from Jack.
“Some of the cases we’ve had were hard to deal with… And then my mom was sick…”
“Was?” Jack queried quietly.
Bobby’s gaze flickered upwards just briefly.
“She… She died… a few months ago,” Bobby admitted quietly.
“I’m sorry,” Jack murmured sincerely, and Bobby nodded in wordless acknowledgement.
“I just…” he went on in an even softer voice that Jack found himself struggling a little to hear. “I just can’t help thinking sometimes… that maybe…”
“It might be time for a change?” Jack put in when Bobby trailed off. The detective looked up at Jack slowly, with a mixture of confusion and startled realisation on his face. He didn’t say a word, but his expression told Jack that he was on the money with his assessment.
Inexplicably, Jack found himself wondering just how this seasoned cop would cope with the daily goings on in Torchwood. Sure, he was a little out of shape, but that could be fixed easily enough with some intensive training…
He shook the thought from his mind, annoyed with himself for even contemplating such a thing. Regardless of whether he thought Bobby might make a good recruit to Torchwood, now was not the time or the place for thinking about it. He was not in New York to look at expanding his team.
All else aside, he thought ruefully, the Doctor himself had made it very clear how he felt about the current Torchwood team getting any bigger than it already was. He recalled very distinctly the Doctor’s warning words to him about it while they were still on the Tardis.
“Now, Jack, about this Torchwood that you say you’ve rebuilt in my honour…”
Jack immediately went defensive, expecting a rebuke… or worse still, a direct order to disband the team.
“I told you before, Doctor. There’s only a half dozen of us now…”
“Oh, relax. I’m not going to tell you to end it. You probably wouldn’t even if I did, stubborn git that you are…”
Jack stared at him in surprise.
“You’re not? I don’t?”
“No,” the Doctor assured him calmly. “You don’t, Jack. So just calm down.”
Jack let his breath out in a fierce rush, his relief painfully obvious.
“That’s great, Doctor. But… why? You’re not planning to hold us to ransom down the track, are you?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” the Doctor retorted, quietly amusement by Jack’s ill-concealed astonishment and confusion. “And close your mouth, Jack. The nanogenes are going to escape.”
Jack’s mouth snapped shut, and the Doctor went on cheerfully.
“I’ve got no intention of holding you to ransom. And, I’ve got no problem with your Torchwood continuing on. By all accounts you seem to be trying to do the right thing, which is something, I suppose. Oh, you’ve made some mistakes… a few whoppers, actually, but you’ve at least tried to fix them, unlike those idiots at Torchwood One, who went merrily along until they nearly destroyed the whole planet. So, I don’t mind your little group continuing on, as long as it stays just as it is. Don’t go trying to make it any bigger than it is now, Jack. Do you understand me?”
“Yes,” Jack answered, sounding just a little hoarse. “I got it, Doctor. But… Why? Really, I mean why? You hate Torchwood, and everything it’s ever stood for.”
The Doctor leaned forward, until his face was barely inches from Jack’s.
“So why did you join it, then?”
“I… I wanted to change it,” he stammered. The Doctor nodded.
“And you have, quite superbly, too. Although, you are still a little trigger-happy, but you have plenty of time to work on that. What it comes down to in the end, though, is that I trust you, Jack. I should have thought that was obvious.”
That had floored Jack, and he had still been flustered by the frank admission hours afterwards. Then, when the shock had finally faded, warmth unlike anything he’d experienced for a long while had surged through him. Between that and the Doctor’s warm and sincere offer to rejoin him on the Tardis, all of the negative and draining feelings of the abandonment and betrayal that Jack had lived with for so long effectively evaporated, finally leaving him free to go on with his life – however long that might be.
He was free from that now… but he had quickly discovered that he was not free from the trauma of his suffering under the Master. That, he had soon begun to suspect, was something he would never be free from.
He had asked the Doctor about it a couple of days after the Doctor had talked to him about Torchwood, not really expecting a positive response but still hoping regardless that perhaps there was some glimmer of hope in the middle of the darkness. When he’d asked, though, all he had gotten in response was a sad, almost heartbroken gaze, and a heartfelt, softly spoken ‘I’m so sorry, Jack’.
The finality in the Doctor’s words and tone, and the deep sympathy and sadness in his eyes had just about broken Jack’s own heart, and he’d retreated back to his room on the Tardis, not to surface again for a long time. No one had been able to draw him out, then – not even Tish, who had been so close to him while they were still prisoners on the Valiant.
When he’d finally emerged, just before the Tardis finally landed in Cardiff to drop him off, he’d behaved as though nothing was wrong, or had ever been wrong. He’d flirted ferociously with both Martha and Tish, and even with Francine to a degree, in what he later knew the others had seen as a desperate display to hide his great emotional pain. He’d never let on again how much he was still suffering, and indeed, Ianto was the first to have finally broken through the wall he’d built up around himself since his return to Earth.
A voice spoke, breaking steadily through into his reverie, and he looked up to find Bobby was watching him with a mixture of curiosity and concern.
“Sorry,” Jack apologised, flashing the detective a wide grin in an effort to hide his discomfort at being caught out wallowing in his memories like that. “I zoned out a little just then. What did you say?”
“I said, are you okay, Captain Harkness?” Bobby asked. Jack sat up straight, and even as Bobby looked on, Jack’s face once more became a mask of false congeniality, impossible to see beyond the façade it presented.
“I’m fine.” He glanced down at his watch purely for show, but was genuinely startled to discover it was after seven. What had felt like just a short time had actually morphed into nearly two hours. It was time, he decided, to put an end to this little chat. “Time to be getting back. My team should be arriving soon.” He paused, looking curiously at Bobby as they stood up together. “You were there pretty early, come to think of it. Do you show up there at ridiculously early hours regularly? Or was it just that you thought you’d beat us in and get a closer look at our gear?”
“No,” Bobby answered, reddening slightly. “I… I just don’t really sleep well. I never have. I’d rather be in at the bullpen, getting things done, rather than sitting around doing nothing.”
Jack nodded in whole-hearted agreement.
“Detective Goren, that is a sentiment that I totally agree with.”
Bobby hesitated, wondering if he wasn’t making a mistake with what he was about to offer. It only took him a minute to decide he really didn’t care one way or the other.
“Please,” he murmured, “just call me Bobby.”
Jack nodded acceptingly.
“Okay, then, Bobby. And you can quit calling me Captain Harkness. It’s just Jack. And nobody calls me ‘sir’… Well, except for Ianto, and I’m working on that.”
“If you don’t mind me saying,” Bobby remarked, “you’re not like any captain I’ve ever seen before.”
Jack grinned at that.
“I hope you mean that in a good way, Bobby.”
Unable to resist the other man’s incorrigible charm, Bobby smiled back.
“And if I didn’t?”
Jack uttered a short laugh.
“You probably do not want to know.”
They were on the sidewalk, heading back to One Police Plaza, when a sharp beep emitted from Jack’s wrist control device. Frowning, he slowed to a halt and flipped the top open and began to manipulate tiny buttons and dials that looked unlike anything Bobby had ever seen before.
“What is that?” Bobby asked. His curiosity got the better of him finally, and he leaned in towards Jack to get a closer look.
“Ah… I could tell you…”
Bobby regarded him sceptically.
“But then you’d have to kill me?”
“First Gwen, and now you. What is it with you cops that you all think I’m homicidal? I was going to say that then I’d have to ret-con you, and I don’t really want to have to do that. So don’t ask, I won’t tell, and we’re all happy. Well, more or less…”
He trailed off as a final reading came through on the device and, as Bobby watched, Jack’s grin melted away, to be replaced by an expression full of incredulity and disbelief.
“That’s not possible,” he muttered. “It can’t be right…”
“Jack?” Bobby asked cautiously, hoping to get some clue as to what suddenly had the captain so much on edge. When Jack looked back at him, though, there was a dismissive look on his face mixed with a deadly serious intent.
“Sorry, Bobby. I enjoyed talking to you, but I have work to do now. Go on back to your squad room. Maybe we’ll have another chance to talk again.”
And with that dismissal, Jack walked quickly away from him, his long greatcoat billowing out dramatically in the wind. As he went, one hand came up to switch on his earpiece, suggesting to Bobby that he was about to contact one or all of his team. After just a brief moment of indecision, Bobby pulled out his cell phone and followed him.
The Torchwood team was well on its way in, and just a few city blocks away from One Police Plaza when their earpieces began to flash blue to signal an incoming call or message.
Ianto was driving, having claimed the privilege after Jack’s promise from the previous day. None of the others had argued with him, though. The women were content to let him navigate the unfamiliar streets while they fiddled with their in-vehicle computers, and Owen was too busy focusing on the coffee that Ianto had thrust into his hands the moment he’d emerged, dressed, from his room.
All in all, Ianto reflected as he reached up easily to switch on the audio receiver part of his earpiece, it had been a blessedly quiet trip from the hotel. That in itself was a surprise, considering the profanities that had been spewing from Owen’s lips from the moment Ianto had woken him up. He’d not commented on it, though, not daring to say anything that might have resulted in a further outburst, and just enjoying the peace, for as long as it could possibly last.
Not for very long at all, apparently, he thought ruefully. A moment later, his suspicions were confirmed when Jack’s voice, laced with tension, spoke loudly in his ear.
“Ianto, where are you?”
Ianto’s eyebrows went up slightly at the other man’s sharp tone.
“We’re on our way in, Jack. We’re just a few minutes away, now. Why, what’s wrong?”
“We’ve got a weevil alert.”
Ianto barely had time to feel surprise himself as, behind him, both Toshiko and Gwen uttered squawks of surprise at the news and, in the passenger seat beside him, Owen started up, suddenly fully alert.
“I’m sorry, Jack,” Owen cut in incredulously. “I could have sworn you just said there’s a weevil alert.”
“I did,” Jack’s voice shot back.
“This isn’t Cardiff, mate,” Owen protested. “This is New bloody York!”
“I know where we are, Owen,” Jack snapped. “According to the readings, we’ve got one right smack in the middle of Central Park. All the gear we need for hunting weevils is in the back of the SUV. Pick me up out front of One Police Plaza.”
“We’ll be there in three minutes.”
Alex was perhaps one block away from One Police Plaza when her cell phone rang. Frowning, she answered it without bothering to check caller ID first. She knew instinctively who it was, and didn’t need caller ID to confirm it for her.
“It’s me,” Bobby’s voice came through clearly, and she immediately felt herself stiffen in reaction to the audible tension in his voice. “Where are you?”
“About a black away from the garage,” she answered. “I thought I’d try beating you in for once, but you’re already there, aren’t you?”
“Yes, but never mind that. Don’t go to the garage. Meet me out the front.”
Alex blinked, caught by surprise. A moment later, she felt a familiar mix of annoyance and elation.
“We’ve got a case?”
“No,” Bobby answered, and Alex felt her heart sink a little.
A new case would have given both her and Bobby something else to focus on other than what was currently going on within One Police Plaza right then. His next words, though, made her want to head straight for the garage and tell him to meet her up in bullpen, where she might be able to slap some sense into him.
“That lot from Torchwood have got something, though. Hurry, Eames.”
Alex sighed bitterly as the line cut out before she could get another word in. Deciding she might as well go along with it, she stomped her foot down on the gas to get to her partner before he got impatient and did something stupid.
Barely a minute later, she was pulling up outside One Police Plaza, and Bobby was climbing in.
“Well?” she asked, and he motioned further along. Alex looked in the direction he was indicating and, sure enough, there was Captain Jack Harkness, waiting with growing impatience.
“What’s he waiting for?” she wondered with a frown.
“His team, I think,” Bobby murmured. “We were coming back to One Police Plaza, and he got some sort of alert on that leather strap he wears on his wrist…”
“Whoa,” Alex cut in, staring at him with a frown. “What do you mean, you were coming back? Coming back from where?”
Bobby hesitated, wondering just how much he ought to tell her. One look at her face, though, and he knew that to not tell her would be even worse.
“Okay, so when I got in this morning, there didn’t seem to be anyone around…”
“And you got curious,” Alex sighed. Bobby looked at her with a familiar sheepish expression, and she couldn’t resist the urge to roll her eyes. “Of course you did. Go on, then. What happened?”
“I wasn’t alone,” Bobby admitted. “Jack was there. I went into the task room to see what equipment they had, and he followed me in. Damn near gave me a heart attack, too, I might add.”
“What did he threaten to do to you?” Alex wondered, suddenly curious as to what creative threats the mysterious Captain Jack had up his sleeves. Bobby seemed to sense her curiosity, and looked almost embarrassed as he spoke.
“He didn’t. He said that if I wanted to ask questions, then to ask him directly.”
“And?” Alex pressed. Bobby gave a lopsided shrug.
“I offered to buy him a coffee, and we went to Delia’s. Uh…”
Alex eyed him questioningly.
“What is it?”
“Remember what we talked about yesterday? How you said you’d go out with him if he asked you?”
Alex lifted a single eyebrow with a look on her face that told Bobby expressly to tread very carefully.
“Yes, I recall. Why?”
“It… It’s just… I, uh…”
A frustrated noise escaped Alex’s lips.
“Just spit it out, Bobby!”
Bobby was looking thoroughly embarrassed by then, but he forced himself to speak.
“I’m not so sure that he, uh… bats for the same team as me and Logan.”
Both of Alex’s eyebrows shot up at those unexpected words.
“Excuse me? Are you trying to tell me that you think he’s gay?”
Grimacing, Bobby attempted to explain himself more clearly.
“When he walked in on me… When I was looking at their equipment… He startled me a little, and I nearly fell over.”
“You? Startled? Inconceivable,” Alex snorted. Bobby shot her a withering look, but went on.
“He grabbed me, and stopped me from falling…”
“And you deduced he was gay from what? The way he caught you?”
“No… The way he held me against him after catching me was kind of a giveaway.”
Alex stared long and hard at Bobby with a deep frown before finally conceding that he was being honest. She knew he wouldn’t screw her around when it came to men and, all else aside, he was far too embarrassed to be lying or delusional.
“Go figure,” she retorted wryly. “Carolyn was right. All the good ones are gay or married.”
Bobby did a double-take.
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Girl talk, Bobby. Forget it. Look, here comes the SUV.”
Bobby looked around to see the Torchwood SUV coming from the opposite direction. To the astonishment of both of them, Jack didn’t wait for them to pull around, but rather ran straight across the road to the vehicle, narrowly avoiding being struck by no less than four cars and a bus; apparently oblivious to the angry sound of several car horns that honked loudly.
“Shit!” Alex swore. “Does the guy have a death wish?”
Bobby could only shake his head, equally incredulous as they watched Jack run around the momentarily stationary vehicle, and climb in through the rear door. Then, the car accelerated away.
“Eames…” Bobby said tensely.
“Hang on,” Alex warned him, and took advantage of the brief break in traffic that followed Jack’s suicidal dash across the road to swing her car around and go after the Torchwood car. “No one out-drives me. Especially not…”
“Don’t say it,” Bobby threatened her.
“You don’t know what I was going to say,” she retorted, barely holding back a smirk. Bobby scowled.
“No, but I can guess. Just don’t, okay? It’ll be hard enough to live down if it ever gets back to Mike.”
“I don’t know,” Alex snorted in amusement. “Between you and Mike, Jack might be spoiled for choice. And since when did he become Jack to you, anyway?”
Bobby’s flush deepened, and Alex found she could no longer contain her smirk.
“Just shut up and drive, Eames.”
Alex grinned, but otherwise conceded and planted her foot on the gas.
“We’re being followed,” Tosh announced placidly as she examined the monitor in front of her. Jack nodded, not appearing the least bit surprised by the news.
“I know. It’s Bobby, and probably his partner as well. He was with me when the weevil alert came through.”
“And you just let him go?” Owen growled. “Just great. That’s all we need, a couple of local yokels tailing us, thinking they’ll get in on the action.”
“What are we going to do?” Gwen wondered. “If they get in the way, they could get themselves killed.”
“Simple,” Jack told her calmly, as though it were the most logical thing in the world. “We get to the weevil before they catch up to us.”
“Oh, of course,” Owen snorted. “How stupid of us not to think of that first. Seriously, Jack, the detectives aside, have you even thought about what we’re going to do with this weevil when we catch it? I don’t think we’d get away with taking it into One Police Plaza, you know.”
“Can you imagine the looks on their faces?” Tosh asked, uttering a half-stifled giggle at the thought of the looks on the faces of the New York police if they were to be confronted with a weevil.
Jack, however, was not smiling, and his sombre expression quickly erased the amusement of the others.
“I don’t know what we’ll do with it,” he admitted. “I don’t want to have to kill it… But we might not have a choice. We can’t exactly lock it up somewhere until we go home, and we have no way of taking it with us when we do.” He paused, and then shuddered and shook his head. “Trying to disguise a weevil for a twenty hour flight home to Cardiff is not exactly a matter of just covering the face. I don’t think anyone could get drunk enough to ignore that, or that we could safely sedate it for long enough.”
“So you’re seriously suggesting we just put a bullet in its head?” Gwen demanded. Jack shot her a dark glare.
“I told you, I don’t want to have to do that, but there might not be any other option. We have no idea where this weevil’s come from…”
“Most likely from the sewers,” Ianto interjected. “That’s where the ones in Cardiff reside. It’s entirely possible that there’s an entire nest of them down there somewhere.”
“Thankyou, Ianto, I’m aware of that possibility,” Jack said tersely. “The bottom line is that, like Owen pointed out, we have nowhere to hold it, but we can’t just let it go, either. It’ll end up killing someone, if it hasn’t already. We have to deal with this, and we have to do it quickly. If it means killing it, then so be it. We have a bigger issue to deal with than weevils.”
“And what about our friends tailing us?” Owen wondered. Jack shifted around to look at the young Welshman currently driving.
“Do you want to pull over and let me drive?”
“I wouldn’t advise that, sir.”
“Then move it! Lose them, now!”
Ianto smiled tightly.
“Holy shit,” Alex swore as the Torchwood SUV suddenly pulled away from them and, at the next intersection, pulled a hard left from the far right lane, cutting off several cars and nearly causing a multiple car pile-up.
“Slick,” Bobby muttered with grudging respect. Alex glared at him.
“Slick my ass, Goren. They could have killed someone! I swear I am going to kick that guy’s ass when we catch up to them!”
“If we catch up to them,” Bobby pointed out bleakly. Alex looked again, and realised just how right Bobby was. The SUV’s hazardous manoeuvre through the intersection had left it very thoroughly blocked. There was no getting through, and Bobby and Alex could only watch helplessly as the vehicle vanished around the next intersection.
“No,” Alex growled, reaching for the radio. “No way. They are not getting away, not after that stunt.”
“What are you doing?” Bobby wondered, although he thought he could guess.
“Calling for back-up,” Alex told him. “I want to know where they’re going, and what’s so damned important that they had to pull an idiotic stunt like that. Hang on…”
Bobby sat back, looking around impatiently as Alex placed a call over the radio for other units to keep an eye out for the Torchwood SUV. She laid down careful instructions that they were not to be stopped – just watched to see where they ended up.
Within a minute, they had their first answer. A uniform on foot radioed to inform them that he’d sighted the black SUV headed towards Central Park East. A second patrol unit reported the same, and a third told them that the SUV had actually mounted the pavement and driven into Central Park itself, stopping a short way in much to the astonishment of the people who had been standing around at the time. There, apparently the team had piled out of the car, loaded up with equipment that the uniform couldn’t begin to describe, and headed off into the park.
“Okay, stay where you are,” Alex told him. “Detective Goren and I will be there in two minutes. Don’t let anyone near that car.”
“Understood, Detective Eames,” the officer responded. Alex promptly put her car into reverse, and took off on an alternate route to the Park.
“Bobby, do you think you’d better…”
She trailed off, not entirely sure whether he’d appreciate a suggestion to call their captain. Bobby, however, seemed to have already come to that conclusion, and was pulling his cell phone out of his jacket.
“I’ll call Ross, and tell him what we’re doing. Better keep him updated… you know, just in case this comes back to bite us on the ass.”
Alex smiled wryly, but said nothing, concentrating instead on her driving.
In his office, on the eleventh floor of One Police Plaza, Captain Danny Ross sat back slowly, torn between staying in his office and waiting on news, or grabbing his jacket and gun, and going after his detectives.
Bobby Goren had just called to tell him that the Torchwood crew had taken off for Central Park in a hell of a hurry, and that he and Alex were following them in the hope of finding something… anything out. Finally, with a great deal of reluctance, Ross decided against going after them. All he could hope was that nothing went wrong, because he was beginning more and more to believe what the Chief of Detectives had told them just the day before – that Captain Jack Harkness was a dangerous man, and not someone to be crossed.
He had had a lengthy phone conversation the previous night after getting home. He’d spent a good couple of hours talking to an old friend who was high up in a British branch of the UNIT hierarchy, and that friend had had some very conflicting pieces of information to give about the mysterious and enigmatic Captain Harkness.
Firstly, Ross had asked about Torchwood, only to be told very succinctly ‘don’t ask’. Torchwood was its own entity, Ross’s friend had told him. They answered to no one except the Queen, and even she didn’t seem to have control over the organisation anymore. Ross had queried whether the group was an illegal rogue group, but his friend had just laughed.
“Nothing illegal about them, Danny,” had been the reply. “They’re as legit as the NYPD. Look, all I can tell you about Torchwood is that it was supposedly set up by Queen Victoria herself. I can’t tell you what they investigate. No one seems to know for sure, and they definitely don’t play well with others, you know? But they are definitely legitimate. They have all their own protocols and rules, and we’re not allowed to interfere in anything they do. They get priority, Danny, in everything. If they want a case, they take it. No one questions them. I don’t think anyone dares. And the last police officer who got his back up and tried arresting one of ’em for something? Well, he ended up losing his rank. It’s kind of like they’ve got diplomatic immunity in their own country, you know? As for that Harkness bloke… I’m telling you now, Danny, don’t get on the wrong side of him. He’s dangerous.”
“What can you tell me about him?” Ross had asked with a frown, wondering with a sinking feeling what he and his detectives had managed to get stuck in the middle of.
“Nothing solid, mate. Just rumours, really, but they’d be enough to stand your hair on end.”
“So tell me,” Ross had pressed. “I’d like to know just what we’re dealing with here.”
“Hmm, what is just about right, there. Okay, you want to hear it? I’ll tell you. For starters, there was that nasty business a few months back, on the Valiant. He was there, right in the middle of it, and just before all that happened there was a terrorist alert put out about him and two others.”
Ross struggled not to laugh.
“If he was a wanted terrorist, he would hardly be running around in public now, with the sort of freedom that you just described.”
“Mm, maybe. Anyway, that’s not all. Another rumour is that the guy is old, and I don’t mean like fifty or so. Someone in my team did a bit of extracurricular research, and found some evidence, a couple of pictures of him on the internet.”
“Pictures?” Ross had echoed, unable to keep from sounding disappointed. “That’s not exactly…”
“From 1941, Danny. These pictures were taken in a dance hall in Cardiff, in 1941, right in the middle of World War II. And I’m telling you, he doesn’t look a day older now than he did back when those pictures were taken. Hang on, mate, I’ll email them to you. They’ve been deleted now… probably by Torchwood… but we managed to make copies before they were taken down. Here…”
Minutes later, Ross had found himself staring at two pictures, surprisingly clear in their quality. Both were of a slightly bewildered-looking Captain Jack Harkness, another man that Ross didn’t recognise and a woman that he did. It was the same woman, Toshiko Sato, who had arrived with the Torchwood group yesterday. His attention, though, had been drawn to the image of Jack.
“It can’t be the same man,” he’d insisted. “His father, maybe…?”
“Yeah, you keep telling yourself that. The other thing about him… There are other rumours, and this might sound like the ramblings of a lunatic, but there are rumours that the man can’t die.”
At that, Ross had to choke back laughter.
“You’re right. That is insane.”
“Yeah, I know, but there is just something about him… Ah, I guess it doesn’t really matter, does it? Anyway, I’ve got to go, Danny. I need a few hours sleep before going on duty again. Just remember what I said. The guy could be dangerous. Whatever Torchwood is doing over there, my advice is to let them do it. Don’t interfere, and hopefully none of your people will end up in hospital… or worse, in a box.”
Ross had hung up feeling even worse than before talking to his friend, if that was even possible. And now, Bobby Goren and Alex Eames were doing exactly what his friend had advised them against. They had gone chasing after Jack Harkness and Torchwood, rushing headlong into God only knew what. And yet, despite instincts and warnings, Ross opted against calling them off. It wasn’t that he didn’t think they would listen. He knew that if he insisted hard enough, Alex would concede and back off, and Bobby would do so as well in deference to his partner.
The truth, though, was that Ross was as anxious to know what Torchwood was up to as much as his detectives. And so, he let his curiosity rule over common sense, and sat back and waited to hear from Bobby and Alex. And as he sat and waited, he hoped fervently that he wasn’t making a terrible, terrible mistake.
“Well, we lost them,” Gwen remarked as they headed into Central Park. Jack didn’t look particularly impressed.
“Not for long. Did you see the beat cop watching us when we pulled up? I’ll bet twenty quid that he’s already radioed to tell them where we are. They’ll be here soon, I guarantee it. We’d better do this as fast as we can. Tosh? Have you got a fix on it yet?”
Tosh paused, peering intently at the device in front of her before pointing away from the SUV, towards what appeared to be a heavily wooded area.
“That way. The signal is strongest in that direction.”
“Okay,” Jack muttered, resting one hand lightly on his Webley for reassurance. “Let’s go catch ourselves a weevil, people.”
Bobby and Alex arrived at the scene within a couple of minutes of Jack and his team disappearing through the trees. Even as they climbed out of Alex’s car, a young uniformed officer approached them at a jog.
“Detective Eames?” he asked, his attention going straight to Alex. She nodded.
“Officer Dalton, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Ma’am. They went that way, into the trees.”
Bobby and Alex wasted no time, heading off immediately in the direction that he’d indicated.
“Do you want me to come with you?” Dalton called after them.
“No, stay there,” Bobby called back to him. “Keep an eye on that SUV, don’t let anyone go near it. We’ll call for back-up, if we need it.”
And then they, too, were gone. Dalton stood there, a frown on his young face as he watched them go. Then, finally, with a last look at the black SUV, he drew his gun and took off after the two detectives.
Bobby and Alex ran in silence, with Alex leading the way. For a while, they ran blind, not knowing for absolute certain whether they were going in the right direction. Before long, though, new sounds reached their ears. Something that sounded like a bizarre cross between growling and whining met them, and Alex looked back at Bobby incredulously as they slowed to a cautious walk.
“Doesn’t sound like a dog.”
“A rabid dog, then. They came racing out here just to deal with a rabid dog?”
Bobby signalled her to be quiet, and pointed ahead of them to the top of a short embankment. She nodded and they approached together in silence, taking cover behind the trees before daring to look out. What they saw left both of them stunned and speechless.
Just over the rise of the embankment, the Torchwood team was spread out in a wide circle, and very slowly closing in on a creature, the likes of which neither Bobby nor Alex had ever seen before in their lives.
It was tall, human-shaped, and possibly the ugliest thing either of them had ever laid eyes on.
“What the hell is that thing?” Alex whispered, but for once Bobby had no answer to give her. Instead, he continued to watch in breathless astonishment as the five members of Torchwood slowly closed the gaps around the creature.
“Now what, O Great Leader, who forgot to take the weevil spray out of the SUV?” Owen hissed as they moved ever closer to their increasingly agitated target.
Jack clenched his jaw, his hand brushing oh so lightly over the holster that held his Webley. He really didn’t want to have to kill it, but it was starting to appear that he was not going to have any choice in the matter.
“I don’t suppose you know weevil-speak for ‘please surrender’, do you, Owen?” Ianto asked in a low voice, winning himself a scowl from the medic.
“Very funny, Teaboy. Why don’t you have a go? I’m sure if you ask it nicely, it’ll be happy to cooperate.”
“Shut up, both of you,” Tosh hissed. “You’re not helping!”
Jack was just tossing up in his mind whether to just go ahead and shoot the poor, miserable creature or offer himself up as bait, when a new noise drew the attention not only of the team but also that of the weevil. They looked around just as the young beat cop who had witnessed their arrival came running over the rise and down into the enclosed area. He stumbled as he came down the small slope, and though he didn’t fall, the momentum of his stumble carried him forward, straight into the path of the weevil.
The weevil gave an angry roar, and before any of the Torchwood team could do anything to stop it, the monster grabbed the young man and sank its razor teeth into his throat. Blood spurted into the air, and the young cop was dead before he even knew what was happening. The team surged forward, driven by a combination of panic and adrenalin, only to be brought up short when Jack yelled for them to stop. They fell back obediently, and he was about to draw his Webley and end it, when two more figures appeared, drawn into the situation by the need of a brother officer.
Jack watched, horrified, as Bobby and Alex slid down the slope, weapons drawn, neither one giving a thought to their own safety. They both thought they were armed and well able to protect themselves. They couldn’t have been more wrong.
The weevil, mad with blood-lust, let its victim go and turned its focus on the nearest living thing – Detective Alex Eames. It charged her with a roar, clawed hands outstretched and mouth wide open to sink its teeth into her. She fired her weapon once, twice, but it wasn’t enough to stop the crazed creature.
At the last second, something hit her from the side, and she was propelled out of the way of the oncoming monster. She hit the ground hard, and a moment later a strong pair of hands grabbed her by the arms and hauled her up and out of the way.
She didn’t have time to acknowledge whoever had come to her aid, though. Her attention was fixed on her partner, who had been the one to shove her out of the way. Bobby was now the focus of the weevil, much to her horror.
He lifted his gun, but the weevil swiped furiously, its clawed fingers raking across the flesh of Bobby’s hands and forcing him to drop his weapon. His foot caught on an out-jutting tree root, and he went over backwards, landing hard and winding himself. The weevil roared and started towards him, its intent all too clear.
Then, suddenly, someone else was there, someone putting himself between Bobby and the weevil, someone tall and in an immaculate suit that was almost painfully at odds with his immediate surroundings…
“Ianto, no, get out of the way!” Jack yelled, but it was too late. The focus of the weevil shifted in the blink of an eye, and it grabbed hold of its new prey, rows of razor teeth clamping down on the young man’s left shoulder while the claws tore at his right side.
Ianto screamed in pain, struggling futilely to escape the powerful hold even as he felt his ribs cracking under the pressure of the monster’s grip. The teeth left his shoulder and aimed for his throat, and Ianto had a fleeting, sorrowful thought that he would not be able to hold Jack just one last time before death took him…
And suddenly, inexplicably, the weevil was letting him go.
The vice-like grip on his body relaxed, and he dropped to the ground, dazed and in more pain than he remembered being in for a long time. Shuddering, he tried to look around, and was stunned to see Owen there, between him and the weevil… and were those hissing sounds coming from the medic?
Insanely, Ianto thought that Owen could have given Daniel Radcliffe a run for his money as a Parselmouth in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but then a single gun shot resonated through the area, and the weevil was falling to the ground, dead.
Hands on his wounds, attempting to stymie the flow of blood… Ianto looked around in a daze to find the big detective had pulled himself together and was now trying to help him, for whatever good it was doing. But then, abruptly, the detective was shoved roughly out of the way, and there was Jack, reaching for him… Holding him…
“Keep your hands off him,” Jack snarled at Bobby, barely in control of his rage as he cradled his injured colleague and lover.
“He needs an ambulance,” Bobby said hoarsely, though he didn’t try to reach for Ianto again.
“What he needed,” Jack thundered, “what we all needed was for you to not interfere! You could have gotten him killed, you stupid, arrogant son of a bitch!” He looked around to where Alex was standing, staring at the weevil in shaken silence. “Both of you! I told you to keep out of it! What part of that didn’t you get?”
Gwen stepped across, laying a hand on Alex’s shoulder.
“You’d better go, now. Take your partner, and get him to a hospital. Get his hands seen to.”
“What about…?” Alex started to say, but suddenly Owen was there, a hard and unforgiving gleam in his eyes.
“Don’t stop to ask stupid questions, sweetheart. Just take your partner, and get out of here before Jack decides to just shoot you both. And don’t think he won’t. You two idiots nearly got Ianto shredded by the weevil. Jack’s killed others for a lot less than that.”
Numbly, Alex stumbled around and grabbed Bobby’s arm.
“C’mon. Let’s go.”
Bobby resisted, his gaze fixed on Ianto’s battered and bloodied form. Jack looked back up at him slowly, and Bobby recoiled from the sheer rage he saw in the other man’s eyes.
“Get out of here now.”
The words were barely more than a whisper, and yet held more threat than any shout. Alex pulled on his arm again, and this time he didn’t fight her. With a last look at the dead body of the young cop, Bobby and Alex stumbled back up the embankment and disappeared into the trees.
“Owen,” Jack choked out in a less angry but heavily distressed voice. Owen was there in an instant, tearing Ianto’s shirt open to get a closer look at the wounds.
“Okay, it’s not as bad as it looks,” Owen murmured. “I had worse in that bloody cage. Worst thing is probably going to be his ribs, mate. I’m tipping he’s got a few that are cracked at the very least. Ianto, you with me? C’mon, Teaboy, stay with us.”
Ianto shuddered and forced his eyes open again.
Jack leaned down and pressed his lips to Ianto’s forehead in a gentle kiss.
“I’m here. Just try and relax, let Owen help you. Damn it, Ianto, what the hell were you thinking?”
“No kidding,” Jack retorted. “Next time, just let me shoot the damn thing, will you? Don’t go getting in the way.”
A weak smile flickered across Ianto’s lips.
“Don’t worry. Lesson learned.”
Jack smiled back, quietly relieved that Ianto was even capable of smiling, given the amount of pain he had to be in. He looked up at Owen questioningly.
“Does he need a hospital?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Owen mused. “’Course, I won’t know if he has any broken ribs until I can use the deep tissue scanner on him, but if we can just get him back to the hotel, that should be okay. Then I can get the scanner from One Police Plaza, and check him out properly.”
“Gwen, here,” Jack said, tossing her the SUV keys. “Go back and get the SUV. Bring it as close to us as you can. And if anyone tries to stop you, don’t take any crap. Understand?”
She nodded wordlessly, and took off to do as she’d been asked. Jack then returned his attention to Ianto.
“You’re going to be okay. Just hang on.”
Neither Bobby nor Alex dared to stop until they were safely back at her car. Then, and only then, did either of them look back.
“What in the name of God was that thing?” Alex gasped as she leaned over and braced her hands on her knees as she struggled to catch her breath. Bobby shook his head and spoke, even though he didn’t really think she expected an answer from him.
“I… I don’t know. I really don’t know…”
Alex turned back to him, and the horror and shock faded a little as she got a good look at her partner’s bloodied hands.
“Bobby, your hands…”
She strode over to take a closer look, and cringed a little at the sight. Both of his hands had been clawed, but the left was definitely in worse condition than the right. Both were bleeding profusely, and if she wasn’t mistaken, she could see white bone through the torn flesh.
Pulling his handkerchief from his pocket, she quickly wrapped it around his left hand and started to usher him towards the car. He hesitated, though, turning to look as Gwen emerged from the trees at a run.
“Gwen…?” Bobby asked in a slightly shaky tone. “Is… Is he going to be okay?”
Gwen paused, eyeing the two of them grimly. The truth was, she was fairly sure that Ianto would be fine but, like Jack, she felt more than a little bitter towards the two detectives. All the same, she reminded herself, it wasn’t as though they had deliberately gotten Ianto hurt. Keeping that in mind, Gwen spoke to them in a forcibly calm voice.
“He’ll live. Now I suggest you both get out of here.” She turned her attention to Alex. “Get him to a hospital, Detective, before he collapses.”
Having said that, she climbed into the SUV and drove it further into the Park, heading towards the area that Bobby and Alex had just fled.
“C’mon, you,” Alex muttered grimly as she helped him get into her car, and put the seatbelt on. “I’m getting you to the hospital.”
She knew Bobby was in serious pain when he put up no argument. She watched in concern as he sank back into the seat, his breath coming in short gasps. Shock was starting to take hold, she realised… although, whether it was shock from his injuries, or shock from what they had witnessed, Alex had no way of knowing. Bobby was already beyond being able to communicate in any way.
“Hang on, Bobby,” she told him grimly. “Just hang on for a few more minutes…”
Back Home Law and Order: Criminal Intent Main Page Next