St Vincent’s Hospital
Mike Logan hated waiting rooms. He especially hated waiting rooms in hospitals. He hated the smell, the look, the feel… Basically, he hated everything about hospitals, usually because it meant sitting around helplessly, waiting while a friend, or perhaps a colleague, fought for their life. It was the sort of misery that he honestly felt he could do without in his life.
Right then, however, his reason for being in the Emergency waiting room of St Vincent’s hospital was because he was waiting to talk to a snitch that he used on a semi-regular basis. This particular snitch had a bad habit of pissing off all the wrong people, and this time it had gotten him knifed. It wasn’t a serious wound, although anyone who heard the guy shrieking might have thought he was dying. In reality, it was barely more than a flesh wound, and had almost stopped bleeding by the time Mike got to him.
That was the other point that was irritating the hell out of him right then. Why, out of all the cops in the whole of the Five Burroughs, did the guy have to call him?
He’d asked that very question while they waited on an ambulance to arrive, and the snitch had shrugged unapologetically and given an answer that made Mike want to walk away and let him bleed out.
“Because you’re the only one who’d actually come.”
As it was, Mike had satisfied his urge to violence by smacking the idiot across the head. Now, though, he was stuck waiting for a chance to talk to him, to try and figure out who had attacked him. After all, if it had been a genuine attempt on his life, regardless of how botched it had ended up being, he still was obliged to investigate it.
And so there he was, sitting in the Emergency waiting room waiting room when Bobby and Alex arrived. He sat, watching in surprise and concern, as Alex guided an increasingly dazed Bobby through to the currently unattended administrative counter.
“NYPD!” Alex gasped as Bobby stumbled against her. “I need help here!”
Her panicked tone galvanised Mike, and he launched himself to his feet. He grabbed a wheelchair that had been sitting idle by the wall and pulled it over, urging Bobby to sit down in it. It was telling, he thought grimly, that the big detective never so much as uttered a word of protest.
“Alex, what happened?” he asked as a nurse who came running took control of the wheelchair and took Bobby through into the ER. Alex shook her head helplessly, looking dazed and utterly confused.
“I… I don’t know, Mike. I don’t even know how to begin to describe it.”
“C’mon,” he murmured, tugging gently on her hands. “Come over here and sit down.”
He tried to guide her to a nearby seat, but she was having none of it, her eyes locked on the swinging doors through which her partner had been taken for treatment.
“No, Mike. I need to go with Bobby…”
Under ordinary circumstances, Mike would never have dared to do what he did next. Under ordinary circumstances, Alex would have decked him for even trying. She was in the early stages of shock, though, and he took full advantage of the fact that she was in no fit state to argue with him.
Taking a firm hold of her shoulders, Mike turned Alex around and walked her across to an empty chair, where he firmly sat her down. Crouching down in front of her, he gently urged her to focus on him, rather than the doors that led into the ER.
“Talk to me, Alex. What happened? Tell me from the beginning, okay?”
Alex drew in a gulping breath, and opened her mouth, as though she was about to answer him. Instead, she very nearly sent Mike flying over backwards as she bolted past him and ran for the bathroom.
Mike watched her go with a heavy sigh before pulling out his cell phone. Alex and Bobby would probably both kill him for what he was about to do, but there was no putting it off any longer. It was time to call Ross.
Danny Ross had just returned to his office with a fresh cup of coffee, extra-strong, when his cell phone rang. Frowning, he checked the caller ID, and then found himself having to resist an urge to roll his eyes before answering the call.
“Whatever it is, Logan, it had better be good.”
Ross could almost hear Mike cringing on the other end of the line, and fought back a grin.
“Captain, I’m at St Vincent’s. Eames just brought Goren into the ER.”
Ross felt his stomach drop unpleasantly, and an icy cold wave swept down his body. His first coherent thought was remembering Bobby’s earlier call, telling him what they were doing… and his consent. What, he wondered with a sick feeling, had he allowed them to walk into?
Fighting down the shock, Ross forced himself to speak slowly and in a calm tone that belied how he was really feeling.
“Is he seriously hurt, Logan?”
Not for the first time, Mike was impressed that the captain’s first thought was for his detective’s wellbeing, rather than any potential implications, political or otherwise. He was just sorry that he couldn’t give a more positive or reassuring report. He spoke grimly, knowing full-well that nothing he could say right then was going to alleviate the captain’s concerns.
“I don’t know, sir. It was his hands that were injured. I don’t exactly think it’s life-threatening, but it looked like he was losing a hell of a lot of blood, and I think they were both in shock.”
“Was Eames hurt?”
“No, sir, just Goren.”
“Is she there now, Logan? I want to talk to her.”
“She, uh… She’s kind of indisposed, Captain.”
The moment the words were out of his mouth, Mike wanted to smack himself across the head. If Alex had heard him say that, he had no doubt that she would have. As it was, the statement was met by a lengthy silence from Ross. No doubt, Mike thought wryly, trying to decide how best to answer.
“What do you mean, indisposed, Logan?”
“Well, I tried to get her to tell me what happened, but she turned kind of green and ran for the bathroom. I think she was starting to go into shock, Captain, and believe me when I say that almost never happens with her. So whatever happened to them, I think it must have been bad.”
Ross didn’t argue with Mike on that point. He knew already how true a statement it was. A moment later, he made a snap decision.
“Logan, take care of Eames, and make sure that she’s okay. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“What are you going to do, Captain?” Mike asked, and the tone of his voice suggested that he could sense a great deal of trouble headed their way.
“Never mind, Logan. Just do as I say, and look after Eames.”
He snapped his phone closed before Mike had a chance to argue further and stood up, clenching his jaw grimly. It was time to find Torchwood, and confront Captain Jack Harkness.
By the time the team made it back to their hotel suite, Ianto had finally given in to the shock and the loss of blood, and had passed out. To the great interest of the other three, Jack would not let them help him carry the Welshman, and rather than taking him into Ianto’s room, Jack carried him straight to his own room. There, the women beat a strategic retreat the moment Owen stated that Ianto’s clothes would probably have to be removed, to allow him to properly tend to him.
It was only when Jack had laid Ianto down on the crisply made sheets with absolute loving care did he finally allow Owen to step in and start scanning the younger man to see the extent of his injuries. Even then, though, Jack continued to hover anxiously, and Owen couldn’t help but notice that he refused to completely relinquish contact with Ianto, keeping one hand lightly on Ianto’s uninjured shoulder.
“You know, Jack,” Owen muttered as he passed the scanner slowly over Ianto’s wounds, “if you’re not careful, we might start to think that you and Ianto have a thing going.”
Jack stared at Owen, eyebrow raised.
“A thing? That’s really eloquent, Owen. And if that’s your subtle way of trying to get me to admit that Ianto and I are sleeping together, then you can knock it off. You know damn well that we are.”
“Oh, I know you are, mate,” Owen agreed calmly. “I just can’t help wondering at what point Ianto shifted from being your part-time shag to something a little more permanent.”
The look that Jack sent in Owen’s direction would have frozen vodka, but the young medic seemed unfazed by the glare from his captain.
“Don’t give me that ‘what the hell are you talking about’ look, Harkness. Ianto was nothing more than a challenge to you to begin with, and you bloody well know it. But somewhere along the line, that changed. He told me once that you needed him, and I told him he was dreaming… but he was right, wasn’t he? You really do need him.”
Unsettled by Owen’s uncharacteristic perceptiveness, Jack instead focused on Ianto’s bruised face. It did precious little to improve his mood, though. If anything, it only served to make him angrier still.
Owen watched him out of the corner of his eye before speaking again quietly.
“C’mon, Jack. Would it hurt so much to admit you do actually need someone else?”
“Why do you want to know?” Jack demanded in a heavily defensive tone. “Why are you even asking, Owen?”
He just barely managed to refrain from throwing Diane’s name into the mix. To bring up the subject of Owen’s lost love would have been unnecessarily cruel and just plain unfair.
“Because,” Owen threw back at him, “even I can see that this is one truth that you haven’t admitted to yourself yet, and it’s about bloody time that you did… for Ianto’s sake, if nothing else. You’re not infallible, even with this whole ruddy immortality thing that you’ve got going for you. Why the hell can’t you just admit that you love him? None of us are going to judge you over it, Jack. You ought to know that much by now.”
A shudder swept visibly through the Captain, and when he spoke his voice trembled noticeably.
“That isn’t the reason.”
“No? Then what?”
Jack shut his eyes as memories that were best forgotten forced their way to the surface of his mind.
“He killed him.”
Owen paused in his work, staring at Jack in confusion.
“Who killed who?”
“The Master,” Jack whispered hoarsely. “The Master killed Ianto.”
Owen blinked, thrown by Jack’s words and wondering with growing trepidation whether the Captain had finally snapped.
“What are you talking about, Jack? Ianto’s right here, and I admit that he looks a little worse for wear, but he’s going to be all right…”
“I’m not talking about here and now,” Jack snapped. “I mean during that year… The year that wasn’t.”
And then Owen finally realised what Jack was talking about.
“You mean when you were a prisoner on the Valiant?”
Jack nodded quickly, and though his head was down once more, Owen couldn’t miss the tears that fell onto the sheet.
“Yes. The Master… He got inside my head, found out about Ianto. He found out how much I care about him, so he had Ianto tracked down, captured and brought to the Valiant. The son of a bitch made me watch Ianto being tortured and murdered. He did it right in front of me, Owen. I can still see his eyes, see him watching me… I can still hear him begging me to save him… and I can still see him dying right in front of me… just out of my reach.”
Owen made a soft noise of sympathy.
“Okay. So now I get why you practically kissed his face off when you came home.”
“Just seeing him alive,” Jack admitted, “unhurt… untouched by what happened…”
He trailed off, trembling badly, and Owen nodded in understanding.
“It’s okay, Jack. I understand.”
Jack stared down at Ianto’s passive, pale features before speaking softly.
“I do love him… and it scares the hell out of me.”
Owen smiled wryly at the soft, frank admission.
“Mate, you wouldn’t be human if it didn’t. ’Course, now I also get why you nearly shot that cop.”
An odd look flickered across Jack’s face, mixed with a small amount of regret.
“It wasn’t his fault… or his partner’s. I was just reacting to Ianto getting hurt. They followed us, but they didn’t interfere until that beat cop got involved. Stupid kid… We’ll have to do something about that.”
“If I know Tosh, she already has,” Owen said placidly. “Don’t worry about it, Jack.”
Jack rubbed a hand restlessly over his face.
“It wasn’t Bobby’s fault. He was just defending his partner… and I can’t blame them for being curious and wanting to know what’s going on. Damn it, I should have anticipated this!”
“Don’t be daft, mate,” Owen told him in a dismissive tone. “How could you possibly anticipate there being a weevil in New York? Although, this is New York, so I suppose anything’s possible, given what I’ve heard about the place.”
Jack couldn’t quite hold back a smile at Owen’s flippant tone.
“I know,” he murmured. “Give me Cardiff any day… even with the rift.”
Owen smirked as he stepped back.
“I’ll second that. Okay, he’s intact. He’s got a couple of cracked ribs, but there’s nothing actually broken. The gashes and bite wound will heal, but he’s going to be sore for a while until they do. I don’t want him up and about for at least twenty-four hours, though.”
Jack snorted in response to that.
“Good luck with that.”
“I’m counting on you to make sure of that, Harkness,” Owen told him in a mildly threatening tone. “Tell him I’ll sedate him if I have to.”
Again, Jack snorted.
“You’d never get that past him, Owen, and you know it.”
Owen only smirked as he began to work at disinfecting the Welshman’s wounds.
“I did it to you, Jack. If I can pull off sedating you, then I can do it to him. But… I’d really prefer not to. If we were back home, I would in a second, but we’re in an unfamiliar place, with God knows what lurking out there. That, and I want a decent cup of coffee from him when he is up and about again.”
Jack laughed softly.
“Okay, I’ll see what I can do, but I’m not promising anything.”
“That’s all I wanted to hear,” Owen reassured him. “Look, he’ll listen to you, Jack. I think you’re the only one he will listen to. Make sure he stays in bed… even if you have to stay there with him.”
A grin started to spread across Jack’s face, but Owen held his hand up to silence Jack even before he could begin to speak.
“No, don’t go there. I don’t want to hear it.”
Jack chuckled and was about to speak anyway when Gwen’s voice cut through the otherwise quiet of the room.
“No, you can’t come in!”
And then, a familiar and unwanted voice followed Gwen’s outburst.
“I want to see your Captain, Miss Cooper, and I want to see him now! Don’t tell me he’s not here, because I know damn well that he is!”
Jack and Owen exchanged looks across Ianto’s unconscious form, and Owen felt himself cringing at the dark expression that rapidly began to build up on Jack’s face.
“Isn’t that…?” Owen started to ask, and Jack finished the question for him.
“Captain Ross. Probably here about his detectives. Owen, stay here with Ianto. I’ll deal with this.”
“Just don’t shoot him,” Owen called after him as the Captain disappeared out of the bedroom. “Only, the blood’s a right bugger to get out of the carpet.”
Danny Ross was used to dealing with subordinates. Despite his own rather diminutive stature, he was used to being able to intimidate people when he needed to. Gwen Cooper and Toshiko Sato were subordinates and, despite the authority that being a part of Torchwood apparently gave them, both women still cowed when he confronted them.
Even so, neither one of them seemed to be willing to take him to their Captain, or go and get him. They may have been intimidated by him, but it appeared they were intimidated even more by their own leader.
“Do I have to search every room myself for him?” he demanded, glaring from one woman to the other with a ferocity that was fed by his very real fear for Bobby Goren’s wellbeing. Before either woman could answer him, though, a new voice spoke with a fury to rival Ross’s.
“No, Captain Ross, you don’t. I’m right here.”
Ross turned to face Jack, and almost recoiled from the other man’s visible rage. At the last moment, he collected himself and spoke in as fierce a voice as he could manage.
“Captain Harkness, you have a hell of a lot to answer for. One of my detectives is currently in the Emergency Room at St Vincent’s Hospital being treated for severe blood loss, and the other is apparently in a severe state of shock. What the hell did you and your team do to them?”
Out of the corner of his eye, Ross noticed both Gwen and Toshiko retreating slowly, their eyes fixed firmly on Jack. He barely had a chance to wonder about it, for a second later Jack’s fist connected with his jaw and all of a sudden he was flat on his back on the floor, with a very angry American captain towering over the top of him.
“What did we do? You want to know what we did? I’ll tell you what we did, Captain Ross. We saved their sorry asses from getting killed! That’s what we did! And I’m telling you right now that if they… and you… had obeyed what I told you all right from the beginning, then Detective Goren wouldn’t have been injured, and Detective Eames wouldn’t be in shock. Because neither of them would have been anywhere near us this morning! Tell me something, Captain. Did you approve them following us? You did, didn’t you? You stupid, arrogant ass, you could have gotten them and us killed!”
Slowly, Ross pushed himself up, one hand coming up to rub gingerly at his jaw.
“You pack a hell of a punch, Captain Harkness,” he admitted ruefully. Jack said nothing, but stepped back deliberately to give Ross the space to stand up again. He did so, torn between being remorseful for what was starting to look like a serious lack of judgment on his part, and wanting to arrest Jack for assaulting a police officer. He finally settled for something in the middle.
“Yes,” Ross said coolly. “I did approve them following you because, frankly, I don’t trust you. I don’t know what your agenda is, and I don’t trust secret organisations.”
“The secrets we keep are for your own good,” Jack snapped.
“Not when it leads to my detectives being injured!” Ross snapped right back. The anger flared back up in Jack’s eyes.
“Injured? You think Bobby was injured? He barely got scratched, Captain Ross. You want to see the real result of your detectives’ interference this morning? Fine, then. Come with me.”
He turned and strode away, not waiting to see whether Ross followed him – simply assuming that he would. Ross stared after Jack with suspicion and mistrust, but finally conceded and hurried after him.
Owen was just putting the finishing touches on the gauze he’d fitted to Ianto’s shoulder, and was about to start dressing the gashes to his side when Ianto awoke with a soft groan of pain.
“Easy,” Owen murmured as the Welshman tried to move. “Stay still, Ianto. You undo any of my great medical work, and I’ll be pissed.”
Slowly, Ianto forced his eyes open and they gradually came to focus on the face that hovered above his own.
“Yeah, mate, it’s me.”
“Where am I?”
“Back at the hotel. No poncy American hospital for you, my friend. You’ve got the very best of care right here, in me!”
“Modest as ever,” Ianto mumbled with half-hearted derisiveness. Owen smirked.
“No shame in being proud of the skills God gave us, Ianto. Unless, of course, your greatest skill is filing, cleaning up after your workmates and making the best coffee they’ll ever drink.”
Ianto eyed him in irritation.
“Do you ever want another cup of coffee from me?”
Owen held up his hands defensively.
“Point taken. I’ll shut up now.”
“Fine. Just try and stay still. I still need to dress your side, and it might hurt a little.”
Ianto glanced again at Owen, and then tried to look down at his injured side, with little success.
“How bad is it?” he asked, sounding suddenly like a frightened child. Owen hesitated, and then rested his hand briefly on Ianto’s shoulder, as Jack had done earlier.
“Probably not as bad as it feels. You lost a bit of blood… and you’ll have some new scars to show off, but you’ll be fine. As long as you don’t try taking on anymore weevils for a while, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make a full recovery.”
Ianto fell quiet, but Owen noticed his eyes flickering around the room, as though searching for something… or someone… that wasn’t there.
“He was here,” Owen told him after a moment’s silence. Ianto glanced back at him quizzically, and Owen smiled and shrugged unapologetically. “He was worried sick. Wouldn’t leave you alone, even when I told him you’d be okay.”
“Then where is he now?” Ianto asked, not quite able to keep the bitterness from his voice.
“He went out to deal with a problem,” Owen told him. “Probably be back any minute. Just relax, okay?”
Ianto had no chance to respond to that with either scepticism or acceptance, for the door suddenly swung open and Jack walked in, his face darker than a thundercloud. The instant he saw Ianto was awake, though, the fury vanished, and he strode over to the bedside.
“Hey, you’re awake.”
“Apparently,” Ianto sighed, taking relief in the comforting sensation of Jack’s presence as the Captain sat down gingerly on the edge of the bed, and allowed their fingers to intertwine. Before Ianto had a chance to say another word, another figure appeared in the doorway, and Ianto recognised the captain of the Major Case Squad. Jack looked around at him, his expression hard.
“This is what the interference of your people did today, Captain Ross. It nearly got Ianto killed. Your detective got a scratch on him, nothing more. And believe me, it could have been a hell of a lot worse.”
Ross stood stiffly in the doorway, pale as he stared at Ianto’s battered form. Jack waited several long seconds before speaking again in a fractionally less harsh tone.
“Now turn around and walk out of here, Captain Ross. Go to the hospital, and see your detectives. And if you’re smart, you’ll tell them to forget about what happened this morning. Tell them to forget what they saw. Forget everything they saw. And if you won’t do that, then I will, and I guarantee I won’t just be relying on words to do it. Do you understand me?”
Ross drew in a long, shaky breath. When he had come to the hotel to confront Jack, he had envisaged it going vastly different to this. The threat from the Torchwood leader could not be ignored, though, and even though Ross didn’t understand what Jack was talking about when he said he would use other methods to make Bobby and Alex forget, something told him to take the man’s words very seriously.
He was suddenly taken back to the words of warning from his friend in UNIT, who had told him to beware of Captain Jack Harkness. Before, that warning had been merely words, and he’d not really taken it to heart. Now, he found he had no choice. Jack’s actions and threats had forced him to see the very real danger that the man presented.
He rubbed lightly at his jaw where Jack had punched him, and nodded with obvious reluctance.
“I understand. I’ll tell them.”
“Make sure you do,” Jack growled. “Because if this happens again, and one of my people is hurt again as a result, then you don’t want to know what I’ll do.”
With a last look at Ianto, Ross turned and strode from the room. It was only after they heard the outer door of the suite opening and then closing again with a bang that Jack finally relaxed.
“Well done, Jack,” Owen remarked dryly as he carefully pressed a large patch of gauze over Ianto’s side. “I think you scared the crap out of him.”
Jack sighed softly, the anger bleeding out of him as fast as it had arisen.
“I just hope it was enough. Because this time was bad enough, but if they interfere again, and they come up against the Grysliaak, then neither one of those detectives will live to tell about it, and I don’t want that on my head.”
Gwen and Toshiko had reappeared in the doorway by then, and Gwen frowned reprovingly at Jack.
“It’s not your fault if they won’t do what you ask them to do. You can’t take responsibility for everyone, Jack.”
Jack was silent, momentarily lost in thought as he remembered the way the Doctor had so willingly taken responsibility for those he came into direct contact with – those who by pure accident were drawn into the dangers that seemed to follow him wherever he went. The way that the Doctor had taken responsibility for him from the moment he’d rejoined them on that forsaken planet so far into the future.
“They are my responsibility,” he said softly, with a sadness that the others couldn’t quite understand. “Whether I like it or not, they became my responsibility from the moment we took over from them yesterday. I can’t just ignore that.”
“Well, then,” Tosh murmured, “let’s hope they heed their captain’s warning, and stay out of our business from now on.”
A murmur of agreement swept through the team, but the look on Jack’s face told them all that he didn’t expect it to happen.
St Vincent’s Hospital
When Ross arrived at the hospital, he soon found Mike and Alex in the waiting room. Alex was nursing a steaming cup of coffee, while Mike sat close to her, talking to her in a low voice. He spotted Ross first, and must have said as much to Alex, for she looked up as he approached them. She was fairly pale, he noted, but her eyes were alert. Any shock she’d experienced had clearly faded.
“Detectives,” Ross greeted them soberly. “Eames, are you all right?”
She nodded slightly.
“I will be. I just… Captain, I can’t even begin to explain what happened this morning.”
“I’m not going to ask you to, either,” he told her quietly. “Just tell me, how is Goren? Do you know?”
“He’s okay,” Mike answered. “We talked to a doctor just a few minutes ago. They had to stitch up his hands, and he won’t be using them again for a little while, but he’s otherwise okay.”
“They wanted to keep him in overnight,” Alex took over explaining. “The doctor said he wouldn’t have a bar of it, so now they’re hooking him up to a drip and blood bag to try and replace the blood and fluids that he lost before they release him.”
“Your partner is a little too stubborn for his own good, Eames,” Ross remarked wearily. Alex smiled just faintly.
“I know. It’s part of his charm.”
“Captain, are you okay?” Mike asked, peering at Ross with a frown. “You’ve got a hell of a bruise coming up on your jaw. Didn’t walk into a door, by any chance, did you?”
Ross again rubbed gingerly at his jaw. It was aching badly, now. That Harkness really did pack a punch.
“Not a door,” he told them ruefully. “More like an iron fist.”
“Someone punched you?” Alex asked, startled. After a brief moment’s consideration, Ross decided he might as well spill the beans and tell them. He would probably have had to anyway, given the warning that Jack had demanded he pass on.
“I went to the Plaza Hotel before coming here. I wanted to see Captain Harkness, and demand some answers about what happened this morning.”
“Let me guess,” Mike mused. “It didn’t go quite as you expected?”
“No. Harkness punched me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man so angry, but still so in control of himself. My friend from UNIT was right. He is very dangerous. He gave me a warning to pass on to you and Goren, Eames.”
Alex’s expression shifted minutely.
“He told me to tell you to forget about everything you saw this morning.”
Alex stared at Ross incredulously.
“You can’t seriously expect me to abide by that.”
For several long seconds, the two of them stared at each other. Then, finally, Ross shook his head.
“No. No, I don’t.”
“Good,” Alex growled. “Because a cop is dead, Captain, and there is no way I’m going to forget that.”
Ross started, horrified.
“He didn’t mention that bit, did he?” Alex said bitterly. “Why am I not surprised?”
The captain hesitated, and then sat himself down beside her.
“He didn’t tell me anything about this morning. Talk to me, Eames. Please, tell me what happened.”
Over the next several minutes, Alex went slowly over what happened, from the moment Bobby had called her from outside One Police Plaza, right up to their arrival at the hospital, with Bobby injured and bleeding. She was silent for a moment, as though trying to think of anything she might have missed. Then, suddenly, she looked around at Ross with an anxious expression.
“One of them was hurt, too. That young guy who made that great coffee yesterday. Ianto, I think they called him. He put himself between Bobby and that… that thing. He looked like he was badly hurt.”
“I don’t think it was as serious as it looked,” Ross murmured. “They took him back to their hotel rather than bringing him here to the hospital. And anyway, I saw him when I was there at the hotel. He was awake, and seemed to be more or less patched up. He was all right at any rate, Eames. Don’t worry about him.”
“It’s not for me. I guarantee that when they let us in to see Bobby, that’s going to be the very first thing that he asks; is that young guy okay. I just want to be able to give him a positive answer. It’ll stop him from worrying and getting in the way of his own recovery.”
“Fair enough,” Ross conceded. “Did the doctor say how long it might be before we can go in to see Goren?”
“Maybe half an hour,” Mike answered. “Since you’re here, sir, if you want, I’ll get you some ice. That’s starting to swell.”
“Guy must really pack a punch,” Alex commented wryly. Ross nodded, and then regretted the action for the flare of pain through the lower half of his face.
“He did, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. I suppose I can understand why he was so angry, too… and just between us, I think I may be lucky that all he did was hit me.”
“How do you mean?” Alex wondered. Ross eyed his two detectives ruefully.
“Well, he told me to follow him, that he’d show me what our interference cost them. I followed him down to a bedroom, but he got ahead of me. When I caught up, he was sitting on the bed with Ianto, and he was holding his hand.”
Silence met the revelation. Then, suddenly, Alex groaned.
“Damn, Bobby was right…”
“What do you mean?” Mike asked with a frown. Alex hesitated, and then a tight smile stole across her lips.
“Well… originally, Bobby thought that maybe we could get some more information if I let their captain hit on me… because he seemed to be checking me out in the task room yesterday. But then Bobby told me this morning that Harkness caught him in the first task room looking at their computers and equipment…”
“Nosy bastard,” Mike retorted lightly. Alex smiled, and went on quietly.
“Bobby told me that the captain startled him, and he nearly fell over, but the captain caught him… and in the process got a little up close and personal, if you know what I mean.”
Ross lifted an eyebrow.
“Are you trying to say that Captain Harkness was hitting on Goren?”
“I don’t know if it was blatant as that,” Alex admitted, starting to feel embarrassed for her partner. “But it definitely got Bobby thinking that the guy bats for the other team. Looks like he was right, too, if that’s what you saw, Captain.”
Ross couldn’t quite keep a smile off his face.
“Well, we’re not the FDNY. I’m not going to judge the man on his preferences. And I have to give it to him that he cares about his team.”
“Captain, you don’t seriously expect us to back away from this, do you?” Alex asked quietly. “Even after what happened this morning… Especially after what happened this morning.”
Ross was silent, staring at the floor as he mulled over the situation in his own mind. He could understand Alex’s frustration. He was equally frustrated, but there did not seem to be any way past it.
“He threatened you and Goren both, Eames,” Ross said quietly. “I don’t know exactly what he thinks he’ll be able to do, but he told me to make sure you agreed to forget about everything you saw this morning, or he’d take it into his own hands.”
Alex snorted derisively.
“What’s he going to do, drug us? Some sort of mind control? Give me a break, Captain.”
“I know,” Ross sighed. “But he seemed serious about it. Look, just for the moment, back away from it. Do you think you can do that? Just back away for now, and watch from a distance.”
“I guess I can,” Alex conceded, though she sounded none too happy about it. “I wouldn’t be so sure about Bobby, though.”
“I figured as much. That’s why I’ll be relying on you to keep a check on him, at least for the time being.”
“He really is not going to like it, Captain,” Mike commented quietly. “And if he thinks he’s being stymied…”
“Captain, we saw a cop get killed!” Alex burst out. “A cop! And they’ve done something… I made a phone call, and according that kid’s precinct, he was never even on duty this morning! No one even thinks he’s missing, and they won’t follow up on it! Those Torchwood assholes have covered it up somehow! How can you expect us… either of us… to just sit back and do nothing while that sort of crap is going on?”
“I didn’t intend for it to be permanently,” Ross growled. “Just until we can get our bearings again.”
“We, Captain?” Mike pressed, and Ross answered with a nod.
“Yes, Logan. We. I don’t leave my detectives hanging for any reason. I thought you would have all realised that by now.”
“We have,” Alex murmured. “Thankyou, Captain.”
“All right, then,” Ross conceded. “I’m going to have to get back to One Police Plaza. Both of you, stay here, and wait until the doctors are ready to release Goren. When they do, take him home and make sure he rests… even if you have to use extreme measures.”
“Can I take that literally, Captain?” Mike asked with a grin, winning himself a thump on the arm from Alex. Ross smiled wryly.
“You know what I mean, Logan. Don’t be a smart ass. Take him home, make sure he rests, and then tomorrow we will all work together to figure out how we’re going to tackle this issue. All right?”
Alex and Mike looked at each other, and both of them nodded in concession.
“Good, Ross murmured. “I’ll see you all back in the squad room tomorrow morning. Come to my office as soon as you all get in, and we’ll work out what to do.”
Then he was gone, walking away towards the exit.
“You know, he really isn’t all that bad,” Mike mused as Ross disappeared through the outer doors of the hospital. Alex smiled wistfully.
“I still miss Deakins a lot, but Ross is a good captain. I think even Bobby has to concede to that. He’s supported all of us… even when he didn’t really need to.”
Mike nodded, thinking ruefully to the fight he’d gotten into with certain members of the FDNY, and the way it had been so publicly broadcast. He could easily have found himself kicked back to Staten Island for that, and yet Ross had stepped up to the plate and defended him vehemently. Subsequently, he was still working with Major Case, and enjoying it with a fervour that he had long thought he’d lost.
“And now he’s got our backs with this Torchwood mob,” Mike commented. “Whoever the hell they are.” He paused, and then snorted softly. “And I thought the CIA spooks were bad. This lot is definitely worse.”
“And yet…” Alex whispered, thinking back to the way the team had acted so closely together that morning. “I still don’t know what that thing was that they were dealing with, but they knew what they were doing. Whatever it is that Torchwood is really about, I think they really know their work. I think that if that kid hadn’t stumbled into the middle of it, they would have all been okay. In fact, I’m sure of it.”
“The point,” Mike said tersely, “is that he did, and now he's dead, and that lot seem to have managed to cover it up somehow. Whoever the hell they are, they can't just be allowed to get away with this.”
Alex stared at Mike wanly.
“They've got their authority directly from the President, Mike. How do you go through that?”
“I know,” Mike muttered sourly. He hesitated, and then sat back with a thud. “Shit. I guess we just have to wait, like Ross said for us to do. Damn it, I hate waiting.”
“None of us like it,” Alex murmured. “But we don't have a choice. Look, we'll do what he said, and wait for Bobby to be released by his doctor. Then we'll take him home...”
“He's not going to like that,” Mike threw in, to which Alex replied with a frown.
“You think I don't know that, Mike? I know my partner. We'll be lucky if we don't have to threaten to tie him down to his bed...” At those words, an all-too-familiar grin lit up Mike's face, earning himself a threatening glare from Alex. “If you're planning on saying something lewd to that, then forget it. I will hit you, Mike. I am not in the mood for it right now.”
Somehow, Mike managed to wipe the smirk off his face, but the twinkle in his eye remained, much to Alex's frustration.
“Seriously,” she muttered. “Working with you guys is like being back in high school, sometimes.”
“And that's a bad thing how?” Mike chuckled. Alex just rolled her eyes.
“Shut up, Mike. As I was saying, we'll take Bobby home, regroup, and then go back in tomorrow morning and we can all work out together... all four of us... what to do about this Torchwood.”
“If we just knew something about them,” Mike murmured. “Maybe we can find something on the internet.”
“Maybe,” Alex agreed somewhat doubtfully. “If there is anything, it's probably buried pretty deep, though. Mike shrugged.
“What's the hurry? We've got the rest of the day, haven't we? And it might be the only chance we have of making Bobby stay put in his apartment. I mean, he's got to want to know about them as much as we do. Right?”
Alex nodded slowly, having to concede that Mike was actually right for once.
“Right,” she agreed quietly.
“Great,” Mike enthused. “That's settled.”
“And you can be the one to tell Bobby, since you're the brilliant one who came up with that,” Alex snorted. Mike rolled his eyes, but laughed softly.
“Whatever you say, sweetheart.”
At approximately the same time
Bobby Goren felt sick to his gut, and it had nothing to do with the substantial pain from his injured hands. In his mind's eye, he could not keep himself from reliving that scene in Central Park over and over again. Whether his eyes were open or closed, he simply could not get it out of his head.
First, it was the sight of that creature... human in its shape, and yet so inhuman in its appearance. Its rippled skin and shark-like teeth were burned into his memory, and its enraged roars still rang almost painfully in his ears. Despite a strange humanoid sort of appearance, Bobby was quietly convinced that the creature was nothing even remotely human. The only question remaining in his mind – a question he would not be voicing to his colleagues – was whether the creature was native to Earth, or whether it was alien.
Then that young cop, fresh enough out of the Academy to still be enthusiastic about walking his beat, had stumbled into the midst of the chaos. The sight of that boy's throat being ripped open... literally ripped open... made Bobby want to throw up. It wasn't the sight of the blood and gore that bothered him, mind you, although that had been bad enough. No, what turned his stomach was knowing that a young man not even in his prime had had his life torn away from him the blink of an eye. That galled Bobby almost more than anything else that had happened that morning.
He and Alex had not planned on showing themselves, but when that kid had stumbled into the path of that monster, neither one of them had been able to keep out of sight. Galvanised by the knowledge that a brother cop was in danger, they had left the safety of their hiding place, and run down that narrow slope into the middle of the chaos.
In hindsight, Bobby knew that had been a very big mistake. By the time they'd reached the bottom of the slop, the kid had already been well and truly dead, and there was nothing either of them could have done to help him. All they'd managed to do was to put themselves into the path of the monster, and it had quickly focused on Alex.
Bobby was still quietly thanking God that his reactions hadn't slowed down so much that he hadn't been able to shove Alex out of the way, and he hoped fervently that she wouldn't be too pissed at him for it. If there was one thing she particularly hated, even more than the NYPD's buddy-boy system, it was what she viewed as unnecessary displays of chivalry. He knew she only accepted him opening doors for her because it was a behaviour that had been ingrained in his consciousness from a very young age, and even she was never going to change that.
So he had shoved Alex out of the monster's path, only to put himself directly in the line of fire. He'd tried to shoot it... He couldn't even remember now whether he had managed to get any shots off at all. He thought he had, but then the creature hadn't even slowed down, so maybe he hadn't.
It had swiped at him, there had been a white hot pain in his hands, forcing him to drop his gun, and he'd lost his balance and fallen over backwards... And then, suddenly, the young man from Jack's team... the one in the suit... had been between him and the creature. That young man had gotten himself mauled, Bobby realised with a sick feeling deep in his gut. He'd gotten himself mauled to protect a clumsy, dumb-ass cop who hadn't known enough to stay out of a situation that he couldn't even begin to comprehend.
Fresh guilt gnawed at Bobby as he recalled that young man... Ianto, he thought his name was... as he recalled him lying on the ground, bleeding profusely and barely conscious. He thought of him, and all of a sudden, the pain in his hands didn't seem anywhere near as bad as it had just a moment ago. But as he recalled the scene, he remembered something else of interest. After Jack had pushed him away, the Torchwood captain had pulled Ianto to him, cradling him like... like a lover, Bobby realised with some interest. Not like a friend, but like a lover.
No wonder he'd reacted so vehemently to the young man being injured, Bobby mused, and felt all the more worse for being at least partially responsible for that.
His thoughts were effectively derailed when the curtain surrounding his bed was pulled back, and Alex came in, followed by Mike Logan.
“Mike?” Bobby asked in confusion. “When did you get here?”
“I was here when you and Alex came in, pal,” Mike told him. “How are you feeling?”
“I'll be fine,” Bobby murmured, his gaze shifting to Alex as he spoke. “Are... Are you okay?”
She reached out to squeeze his shoulder gently, reassuringly.
“I'm fine, Bobby, thanks to you.”
The relief on Bobby's face was plain to see, and it took some effort for Mike not to laugh. He had a powerful feeling that neither of them would appreciate it.
“What about Ianto?” he asked tentatively, and Mike nudged Alex.
“You were wrong. It wasn’t the first thing he asked.”
“Shut up, Mike,” Alex retorted. And then, to Bobby, “He’s okay, Bobby. Captain Ross said he saw him at the hotel where they’re staying. Apparently he’s a little beat up, but more or less okay.”
Bobby grimaced, not sure whether to be relieved by that or not. He decided it wasn’t the right time to be dwelling on a guilt-laden subject such as that one.
“As soon as they give the okay,” he went on quietly, “I can get out of here, and we can get back to One Police Plaza... What? What is it?”
Mike and Alex exchanged looks, and Alex smirked at him unapologetically.
“I told you, genius, you can break the news.”
“What?” Bobby demanded, starting to sound agitated, and as his voice rose, so did his heart monitor. “Will someone please tell me what's going on?”
“Okay, calm down, pal,” Mike told him quietly, anxious to avoid having a nurse come to investigate the disturbance. “Just calm down. I'll tell you. Ross was here...”
Bobby looked sharply at Alex, who shook her head and indicated towards Mike.
“Not me. He called him, but don't worry. He wasn't pissed... Well, not at us.”
“What do you mean?” Bobby asked, puzzled. Alex hesitated, and then decided she might as well tell him.
“After Mike called him, Ross went looking for our mysterious Captain Harkness. Tracked him down to their hotel suite, and confronted him over what happened this morning. And, um... Harkness decked him.”
Bobby blinked, stunned.
“He... hit him? Jack hit Ross?”
“Jack?” Mike snorted. “You're on a first-name basis with this asshole?”
“Maybe not after this morning. Go on, Mike.”
“Okay. So, Ross came here after... talking to Harkness, and he told us he didn't want to see any of us back at One Police Plaza until tomorrow morning. He said to take you home, make sure you were okay.”
Bobby met that with silence, and Mike and Alex exchanged worried glances. Silence could be either good or bad with Bobby – there was often no knowing which it was. All they could hope was that this time he would be accepting.
It seemed their prayers would be answered this time, as Bobby visibly relaxed.
“I guess that's not such a bad idea,” he murmured, his gaze flickering to his heavily bandaged hands. “I'm not going to be much good to anyone anyway, am I?”
On impulse, Alex leaned down and kissed him lightly on the forehead.
“You always find a way to be useful, Bobby, but it won't hurt to take one afternoon off. And I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to hit the internet, and see if we can't find anything out about this Torchwood. There must be something about them on it somewhere. Even if it's just scraps of information, I'll find it.”
Bobby nodded approvingly.
“I like that plan.”
“Good,” Alex murmured, more than a little relieved at his acquiescence. “That's what we'll do, then.”
Bobby hesitated, then, and Alex felt her heart sink once more. She could sense what was coming as clearly as if it were flashing on a ten foot sign surrounded by neon lights.
“That kid... The beat cop... What's happening with him?”
Silence passed, and Bobby's forehead creased slowly into a frown.
“What is it? Alex?”
“They've covered it up,” Alex said softly. “Somehow, they've managed to cover it up.”
Bobby went very abruptly quiet at that, much to Mike and Alex's concern. When he spoke again, there was a suppressed fury in his tone that both of his colleagues knew so well.
“We saw him die... and they've covered it up? Like it never happened?”
“Yeah,” Alex whispered hoarsely.
Bobby said nothing more, but there was a new resolve in his expression and, in that moment, Mike and Alex almost pitied Captain Jack Harkness when Bobby got a hold of him next.
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