Bobby Goren’s apartment
Alex Eames awoke with start to the sound of persistent knocking on the front door of Bobby’s apartment. Groaning softly, she roused herself from where she’d been attempting to sleep on Bobby’s less than comfortable sofa, and padded across to the door. A quick check through the peephole confirmed what she already suspected, and she opened the door to a white-faced Mike Logan.
“What…” she started to ask, but he pushed past her and headed straight for the kitchen without saying a word. Tired and increasingly aggravated, Alex locked the door again and went after him. She walked into the kitchen to discover Mike was taking a half-full bottle of Scotch from its hiding place at the back of a kitchen cabinet and, as she watched, he poured himself the equivalent of a double shot and downed it in one long swallow.
“Mike, what the hell are you trying to do? Knock yourself out?” she demanded as he doubled over, gasping as the alcohol hit his system hard.
“I’d like to,” he rasped. “I really would, Alex. After what I saw tonight, I would love for that to happen. Then I could tell myself it was just a bad fucking dream, and I’m not really going out of my fucking mind.”
She stared at him, shocked. When he finally returned her gaze, she was frightened to see a very real desperation in his eyes.
“Mike, what happened?”
“Wake Bobby up first.”
“I can’t! Do you know how long it took to get him to go to sleep after you left? His hands were killing him!”
He leaned in close, his eyes wild and frightening.
“Wake him up, Eames. Now. He needs to hear this, particularly after that alien shit he was going on about earlier.”
Something in his tone warned her against arguing further, and she went to do as he’d asked. Mike poured himself another glass of Scotch and wandered back through to sink into one of the two armchairs in Bobby’s living room. Minutes later, Bobby emerged from his bedroom with Alex, looking a little bleary-eyed but full of concern for his friend.
“Mike? What’s wrong?”
“Sit down,” he told them. When neither Bobby nor Alex sat, Mike motioned agitatedly to the sofa. “Sit your asses down. Trust me. You’re going to want to be sitting down for this.”
Exchanging glances, they sat and waited for Mike to explain himself.
“I got a call-out,” he told him hoarsely. “Ross would have called you guys, but he didn’t want to put it on you, Bobby, with your hands like they are. So he called me, told me to meet him at the Empire State Building, that there’d been a body found.”
“Was it our killer?”
“Shut up and let me talk,” Mike snapped. “I’m getting to that. Okay… So I get there, and Ross and I head up to the observation deck. There’s one of the security guards up there and yes, it’s our killer. Same MO, same everything. The difference is that this time, there’s a second body. The killer took two victims this time.”
“He’s escalating,” Alex whispered. “We were afraid of this.”
“I said shut up and let me finish,” Mike growled, his voice starting to sound fractionally hysterical. He paused, taking a mouthful of Scotch and allowing the burning liquid to soothe his nerves.
“Mike, Ross’ll have your ass in a sling if he knows you’re drinking hard liquor while you’re on duty,” Bobby pointed out softly. Mike, however, shook his head.
“No, he won’t. He took me off-duty. Took himself off-duty, too, as a matter of fact. Told me to get myself somewhere safe, and then have a strong drink or three. Said he was going home to do exactly the same.”
“Two bodies,” Alex said, trying to cover her sudden bout of nerves. “You said there were two victims this time.”
“First one was the security guard. Second one was Captain Jack Harkness himself.”
Stunned silence met the revelation.
“Jack… is dead…?” Bobby asked finally in shock and dismay. Mike uttered a strangled laugh.
“I’m getting to that. Will you shut the fuck up and let me talk?”
Again, Bobby and Alex exchanged glances. Mike was one step away from a break-down. Whatever had happened that night, it was major. The Irish detective went on in an increasingly strained voice.
“Rodgers was there. She checked his vitals, and nothing. No heartbeat, nada. Then Torchwood arrived. They were just showing up in response to the call-out. Sons of bitches must have access to the police scanner. Anyway, they rocked up, and Ross and I went to talk to them… You know, to tell them. Ross took that young guy… the one in the suit…”
“Ianto,” Bobby murmured.
“Right, him. Ross took him around and I stayed with the rest of them. I don’t know what happened, or what was said, but then Ianto starts screaming for the rest of his buddies. When we got around there, the stupid kid was holding a gun on Rodgers…”
“What?” Alex burst out. “Is she okay?”
“She’s fine. More pissed off than scared. Although, I can’t say the kid wouldn’t have pulled the trigger. Looking at his face, I think he might have. And it was all because she was going to take Harkness’s liver temperature… You know, to determine time of death. Anyway, then the rest of them got in on the act. The doctor, he told all of us to get lost none too politely. In the end, we did.”
“Okay, so they’ve just lost their captain,” Bobby murmured. “They must have been in shock…”
Mike looked up at Bobby through reddening eyes.
“He’s not dead.”
Again, silence met Mike’s words. Then, slowly, Bobby leaned forward.
“I said, he’s not dead. Jack Harkness is not dead.”
“He survived?” Alex asked in astonishment.
“No, he didn’t,” Mike replied, and by this time Bobby and Alex were starting to look increasingly agitated and confused.
“Mike, will you just come out and say what you mean?” Alex demanded. “First you say Harkness is dead, and then you say he isn’t, and now you say he is. Will you make up your mind?”
Bobby, however, had already realised what Mike was trying to say.
“He was dead… but he came back to life.”
“What… so, you’re saying they managed to revive him?” Alex asked with a deep frown.
“I don’t know,” Mike admitted heavily. “I… just don’t know.”
“That had to be it,” Alex muttered, but Mike shook his head.
“He was dead for at least half an hour by the time that they got there. Add another fifteen minutes… Alex, the guy was dead for at least forty-five minutes, maybe longer. He was dead! I’m not imagining that!”
“I believe you, Mike,” Bobby said softly, ignoring the sharp look he got from his partner. Mike, for his part, looked suitably sceptical.
“Sure you do.”
“I do,” Bobby insisted. “But we’re not doing anything about it now. Right now, we’re all going to try and get some sleep and then, first thing in the morning we’ll work out how we’re going to deal with this.”
Mike stared at Bobby with a mixture of relief and befuddlement.
“And not lose our minds in the process?”
Bobby laughed softly, voicing a humour that he didn’t really feel.
“I hope not.”
Jack awoke with a start, the distinct and acrid scent of smelling salts burning in his nostrils. His eyes opened and he looked around slowly, through a haze of blurriness that he could not control.
“Easy, Jack. Try to relax.”
That was Ianto, Jack realised numbly. He shifted a little, and finally managed to focus on Ianto’s face, as it hovered above his own with an adorable expression of concern.
“I need you to wake up, Jack. I can’t get you clean while you’re unconscious. C’mon, snap out of it.”
With some effort, Jack roused himself and forced his mind back into awareness. Ianto slipped an arm beneath his shoulders, and helped him to sit up, smiling affectionately as he did so.
“How are you feeling, then?”
“Like I got the life sucked out of me,” Jack answered in a dazed mumble.
“I’ve run a bath for you,” Ianto told him. “Let’s get these clothes off you, so we can get you clean.”
It was a testament to how bad Jack was really feeling, Ianto mused, that he never responded to that golden opportunity with a lewd comment.
Minutes later, Jack was sinking into blessedly warm water with a relieved sigh, while Ianto sat gingerly on the edge of the tub and proceeded to gently soap his upper body.
“Do you think it was waiting for you when you left the bar?” Ianto asked quietly after a while.
“I didn’t notice it if it was,” he answered. Ianto was silent for a while before speaking again.
“Was it as bad as you remembered it being?”
“I think it was worse,” Jack answered bitterly. He didn’t elaborate, and Ianto decided not to pressure him for details. Instead, he turned his attention to washing the slimy residue from Jack’s hair. He guessed the captain was feeling even worse than he looked. Under any other circumstance, lewd suggestions would have been free-flowing from his lips by then.
“How are you really feeling, then?” he asked finally. Jack paused in replying, and Ianto was unsure whether it was a reluctance to answer at all, or whether he simply didn’t know what to say.
“I don’t know how to deal with this thing, Ianto,” Jack admitted, sounding all of a sudden like a lost little boy. “I don’t know how to stop it. And now, it’s focused on me… Everyone around me is in danger now.”
“Don’t even think about trying to go this one alone, Jack,” Ianto warned him quietly. “We’re a team. Whatever we do, we do it together.”
Jack didn’t respond, but instead reached for a bar of soap. His hand was trembling, though, and the soap slipped through his grip.
“Just try and relax,” Ianto admonished him lightly. “It’s not going to hurt to let me take care of you for once.”
Jack sighed as he peered up at Ianto.
“You were mauled by a weevil only this morning.”
“And you had the life drained from your body not two hours ago,” Ianto countered. “You took care of me all day, Jack. Now let me return the favour.”
Jack sighed again and sank down further into the water.
“Where are the others?”
“In the living area. Tosh is searching the Torchwood files for anything related to Grysliaaks. Gwen is looking through the victims’ files, and Owen is looking at medical reports. It’s under control, Jack.”
“Appreciated, but you can tell Gwen to stop, for starters. There are no links between the victims that might lead us to the Grysliaak, and if it kills anyone else, it’ll be doing it to lure me out.”
“No,” Ianto replied quietly, and Jack’s heart skipped just slightly. The last time Ianto had spoken that word to him, in that tone, had been right before they’d fully opened the rift, and unleashed the monster Abaddon on Cardiff. He looked up at Ianto slowly, as though he was not quite certain what he might find there.
“I said no. I won’t tell her to stop. Not unless you have something significant for her to do instead. Do you?” When Jack didn’t answer, Ianto nodded sagely. “I didn’t think so.”
Jack’s shoulder slumped in defeat.
“Okay,” he conceded. “But I think it’s pretty obvious what we have to do to bring this thing out into the open, and profiling the victims isn’t going to do it. What we still have to figure out is how to kill it…”
He trailed off, suddenly conscious that Ianto’s fingers had suddenly ceased the soothing massaging motion in his hair. Looking up, his gut knotted painfully at the hurt and angry look on the younger man’s face.
Abruptly, Ianto stood up, and turned away.
“I think that does it, sir. If you care to get yourself out of the bath, I’ll prepare the bed for you.”
“Ianto, wait…” Jack called out, but Ianto had already disappeared through into the bedroom. Groaning softly and muttering to himself about temperamental Welshmen, Jack slowly eased himself up out of the water.
His strength was coming back, but not quickly enough for his liking. As he stepped out of the bath his knees buckled and, in the process of trying to save himself from falling, he slipped and went down with a jarring thud. His head cracked on the edge of the bath as he fell, drawing an involuntary cry of pain from him and leaving him seeing stars.
Jack lay on the floor in a semi-conscious daze for an indeterminable amount of time before a voice cut through the haze, and he felt strong hands trying to move him.
“Bloody hell, Ianto, I thought you said you’d look after him!”
The silence from Ianto was painfully telling.
In the next minute, he was lifted up off the floor and a thick, warm bath robe was slipped over his shoulders and wrapped firmly around his body. From there, he was guided through and into the waiting bed.
“All right, Teaboy,” Owen said shortly. “Make yourself useful. Go and get some ice, before this swells up to the size of a football.”
“He’s mad at me,” Jack mumbled, wincing and making a half-hearted effort to pull away as Owen examined the spot where he’d struck his head.
“Really?” Owen retorted. “I hadn’t noticed. Will you hold still? Bloody hell, Jack, you’re worse than my dad.”
“It hurts,” Jack grumbled, and promptly cringed at how childish that sounded. Owen raised an eyebrow at him incredulously.
“What are you, five? So, are you going to tell me what you did to piss him off this time?”
Jack didn’t have a chance to answer. Ianto had just walked back in with the requested ice pack, and he spoke frostily.
“He’s planning to offer himself as bait to catch the Grysliaak.”
Owen stared first at Ianto, and then at Jack.
“That’s a little bit on the stupid side, isn’t it? I mean, seriously…”
Jack looked sourly at the two of them.
“If either of you have a better idea, I’d love to hear it.”
“Surely there must be a better way than offering you up like the proverbial sacrificial lamb,” Owen argued. “C’mon, Jack…”
“Do you think I want to?” Jack asked in a strained voice. “Do you really believe that I want to put myself at risk like that?”
“I think that you can’t help yourself,” Ianto said soberly. “I think that you’re so consumed with the idea that this world… that we are your responsibility, that you can’t see what’s right in front of your own face. You’re so busy trying to hide yourself from us that you don’t realise that you’re completely transparent.”
Jack’s expression was stony in the wake of Ianto’s stinging critique.
“What do you want me to do?’ he asked finally, tersely.
“For starters,” Owen said as he held the ice pack to Jack’s temple, “you can quit acting like a one man army. We’re going to sit down together… all of us… and work out what we’re going to do. You’re not making any decisions without us, so don’t even try. We’ve got enough on our plate with those bloody cops, without you going renegade on us.”
Slowly, the anger and rebellion drained from his body, and Jack slumped back against the pillows, defeated.
“Fine,” he grumbled, suddenly too weary to argue anymore.
“So, is it safe to leave you too alone now?” Owen queried sceptically, but Ianto nodded.
“It’s okay. We’re fine.”
“All right, then,” Owen muttered. “Do me a favour, and do yourselves one at the same time. Try and get some sleep, and tomorrow morning we’ll work out a plan of action.”
Jack watched him go bemusedly.
“Now there’s the guy that I recruited,” he murmured with affection. A moment later, he yelped as Ianto removed the icepack and carefully applied antiseptic to his temple, where the skin had split open after he’d fallen.
“Stop it,” Ianto murmured, slapping away Jack’s hand when he tried to reach up to stop him. “You know I need to do this. You might be immortal, but you can still pick up infections.”
With visible annoyance, Jack surrendered himself to Ianto’s ministrations.
“Do you really see me that way?” Jack asked finally, tentatively.
Ianto didn’t bother to pretend that he didn’t know what Jack was talking about, and he responded quietly.
“In your defence,” he answered, “I don’t believe that you do it deliberately.”
“But that’s still how you see me, as some gung-ho leader looking for a hero moment in every situation.”
Ianto paused, taking a moment to consider his next words before speaking.
“I think that you believe that you have to do it all on your own, when the truth is that you don’t. You don’t need to be alone at all, unless you choose to be. Do you choose to be, Jack?”
Jack thought about that for a long minute before answering quietly.
“No, I don’t want to be alone,” he admitted. “But sometimes, it’s the way it has to be.”
“Why?” Ianto asked, frustrated.
“Because,” Jack replied soberly, “I can’t die, but you can.”
He shut his eyes as Ianto’s fingers threaded through his hair and half braced himself for those fingers to tighten abruptly into a pain-inducing fist, but it didn’t happen. To his relief and gratitude, Ianto instead began to gently massage his head in an effort to get him to relax.
“We can look after ourselves, Jack. You don’t always need to feel as though you have to protect us, especially at the cost of your own life.”
“Just… won’t lose you… again…”
Ianto had no chance to ask what Jack meant by that, as the captain finally gave in to his exhaustion and fell asleep. He sat there on the edge of the bed for nearly twenty minutes, just watching Jack sleep, before getting up and quietly leaving the room.
“Is he all right?” Gwen asked as Ianto joined them, sitting down gingerly in one of the dining chairs.
“Physically, he’ll be fine,” Ianto assured her. “Emotionally, that’s another story.”
“How do you mean?” Tosh wondered with a slight frown. Ianto looked around at each of them before his gaze came to rest on Owen.
“Just before he fell asleep, Jack said something to me. He said he wouldn’t lose me again. What did he mean?”
Owen raised his eyebrows incredulously.
“Why are you asking me? How should I know? You’re the one he tells all his deepest secrets to. Well, aside from the whole immortality thing, which he told Gwen about…”
“Eh, not a fair comparison, Owen,” Gwen growled. “He would never have told me that, except that he came back to life right in front of me.”
“All the same,” Ianto murmured, “I think perhaps you do know, Owen, and the fact that you don’t seem to be able to look me in the eye only confirms my suspicions.”
Owen uttered a frustrated growl.
“All right, fine. During that… that year that wasn’t, as he calls it, he said the Master found out about you, and how much you mean to Jack… and he used you against Jack.”
“Used me? How do you mean?” Ianto asked with a frown. Owen groaned and scrubbed his hands over his face in irritation.
“Bloody hell. He killed you, Ianto. Jack said the Master had you tortured and killed right in front of him. That’s what Jack meant.”
A soft sigh escaped Ianto’s lips as more pieces of the puzzle dropped into place.
“I should have guessed, from the way he reacted to me when he came home. All right, then. We need to help him overcome this dear he has of losing us.”
“Are you out of your mind?” Owen asked him incredulously. “In case it slipped your attention, Ianto, we don’t exactly work in a risk-free environment. Any one of us could meet our maker at any time. You can’t kid yourself that we won’t!”
“Well, then, what do you suggest we do?” Ianto asked tersely. “Because we need to do something, or Jack is going to go ahead and used himself as bait.”
“Is that really such a bad idea…?” Owen mused, only to find himself the focus of three angry glares. “Okay,” he muttered, holding up his hands defensively. “It was just a thought.” He paused, then, eyeing Ianto critically. “What’s this really about, anyway? Jack being afraid of losing you, or you being afraid of losing him?”
Ianto blanched visibly, and stood up. Without a word, he stalked away to his room, where Jack was currently sleeping, and vanished inside.
“Now what was that all about?” Gwen demanded to know.
“Jack and Ianto are still trying to work out where they stand with each other,” Owen answered quietly, displaying an uncharacteristic insight. “I swear, though, it’s like watching a couple of hormonal teenagers. Every little emotion is bloody exaggerated.”
“Oh, come off it, Owen,” Gwen growled. “They’re in love! Why can’t you just leave them alone?”
He leaned forward, focusing a hard glare at her.
“Because, Gwen, we are currently in a strange city, chasing after a monster that has Jack squarely in its sights. We can’t afford to have the two of them constantly at each others’ throats!”
“Well, what do we do?” Tosh wondered. “I mean, maybe using Jack as bait is the only way to flush this thing out.”
“Tosh!” Gwen cried out in horror.
“I didn’t say I liked it!” Tosh argued. “But what else can we do? There are only five of us! And this is more than we know how to deal with!”
“I think,” Owen decided grimly, “that it’s time we swallowed our pride and ask for help.”
Momentary silence met his statement, and Gwen and Tosh exchanged puzzled looks.
“Help?” Tosh echoed finally. “Help from who?”
“Who do you think?” Owen growled impatiently. “The bloody NYPD! Who else?”
“Okay,” Gwen said finally. “Now you’re out of your mind.”
Owen snorted derisively.
“Well, that makes three of us, at least. Seriously, we need back-up on this, and last I checked UNIT had sodded off to the friggin’ Alps for a training camp, or something.”
“But the police…?” Tosh argued weakly. Owen nodded firmly.
“Look, Jack said it himself. These detectives are smart. They might be able to deal with it… or, at least until we’ve caught and killed the fucker, and then we can ret-con the lot of them and piss off back home.”
Gwen and Tosh again exchanged glances, neither one quite ready to concede that Owen was, in fact, making a great deal of sense.
“When Jack wakes up,” Gwen said finally, with some reservation, “we’ll talk about it then.”
“Fine,” Owen said, standing up and stretching. “In the morning, then. But I bet I know what he’s going to say.”
Gwen rolled her eyes as he disappeared into his own room.
“Yes, so do I, and I don’t think you’re going to like it one bit.”
The Grysliaak had not gone far after passing on its message for Jack and his little gang. In fact, it was practically within spitting distance when first the police and then the rest of Torchwood arrived.
It had watched the ensuing events with delight, and had barely been able to contain its excitement as it watched Jack come back to life. Indeed, it had taken a lot of restraint not to pounce on the man again, and help itself to his renewed life force.
Sweet… He had tasted so sweet and so much richer than the feeble mortals whose life forces it had taken previously. And where most humans barely had enough to whet its appetite, Jack’s life force was an abundance that it could truly glut itself on, again and again.
It wanted him. More than anything, it wanted to have Jack where it could feed off him whenever it wanted to – an unending supply, at its beck and call.
When they left the Empire State Building, it followed them all the way back to their hotel. It found a vantage point, and watched as the young human woke and bathed Jack, and then put him to bed. It watched with renewed hunger as Jack was left alone to sleep, and then with disappointment as the young man returned and slipped into the bed with Jack.
Previously, it would have considered the young man a delectable treat but, as before on the Valiant, once it had feasted on Jack’s life force, everything else thereafter tasted like ash. It wanted Jack, and Jack alone.
And so it stayed where it was, watching and waiting for an opportunity that it knew would eventually come.
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