IMPORTANT A/N: This chapter was completed as a joint effort with my good friend TrinityWildcat. She emailed me one day recently with a piece of writing that she did after being inspired by this story, and damn it, it was too good to allow it to go to waste. So after some collaboration between her and myself, I incorporated what she’d written into my story.
Her wonderful, insightful and inspiring contribution begins at the very start of this chapter, and comprises of the entire first segment of the chapter. I’ve added just a paragraph here and there to augment what she has done.
I want to thank her profusely for this, because it’s given me fresh ideas when I felt things were starting to lag just a little. And to finish on a positive note – the next chapter is already half-written and, in my typical style, the proverbial is about to truly hit the fan.
NB: For those unfamiliar with Torchwood, Myfanwy is the resident Pterodactyl. And Jack's threat is not entirely in jest - he fed Ianto's girlfriend to it in the episode "Cyberwoman". The name is not made up by the fans, it was apparently christened Myfanwy by the cast and crew.
The following morning
One Police Plaza
It’s not an elevator, dammit, it’s a lift.
Gwen stared at the offending set of metal doors, and silently tried to will the lift… elevator, whatever… into existence. It didn’t work.
Come on, come on, come on…
She folded her arms, realised it made her look defensive, and stopped.
How many damn floors does this place have, anyway? Cardiff CID never needed this many.
Gloomily, Gwen reflected that she must be one of the few people in history to be offered a free trip to New York from Wales and spend the whole time secretly wishing she was anywhere else.
Time to toughen up, Gwen, you’re in Torchwood now…
It was the eyes that got to you. She would have sworn that every single cop who had walked past her in the past – ten, fifteen? – minutes whilst she’d been waiting for the lift had given her the sort of look most people reserved for something nasty on the bottom of their shoe.
Any of the others in Torchwood would have said she was being paranoid, she reflected uneasily. (Apart from Owen, who would have just asked why she gave a monkey’s about what a bunch of dumb Yanks though about her.) Then again, none of the others in Torchwood had ever put on a police uniform and headed out on a cold Saturday night knowing full well that, if push came to shove, the only thing standing between you and a bottling from a drunk would be the loyalty of your fellow officers. The brotherhood of the uniform was one of those things you had to experience, and she was the only one on the team who ever had. It was an extremely uncomfortable feeling to have it operating against you. Right now it felt like every single precinct of the NYPD had pinned up the faces of the Torchwood team in the break rooms, with instructions to cold shoulder and glower at them on every occasion.
And whose fault is that?
She winced at the thought, and felt guilty. After what Jack had been through, the least he deserved was his team’s unquestioning loyalty and support. They had to stick together. If the NYPD was closing ranks, then Torchwood would close ranks against them. In any case, they haven’t got a clue what they’re dealing with, and they should be grateful we’re here to deal with it for them…
A deep male voice interrupted her thoughts, and she turned quickly to see one of the Major Case Detectives standing next to her. Logan, her memory prompted her (she’d always had a good memory for names). She eyed him warily, all too conscious of the fact that only last night she and the others had yet again completely usurped his and his captain’s authority at a crime scene.
She still had to struggle not to cringe at the memory of coming around the corner on the observation level of the Empire State Building to discover Ianto holding the ME at bay with Jack’s gun, while Jack lay dead on the concrete. She was still waiting for the backlash on that one. Of course, Jack had walked into One Police Plaza that morning like nothing had happened, with an enviable ability to completely ignore the pointed stares of every cop in the place. The rest of them weren’t quite so accomplished.
However, just the fact that Jack was up and walking around that morning (the captain had still managed to rise first despite what had happened only hours before) was testament to his apparently phenomenal recuperative powers. Although… she suspected from the comment Ianto had made about sufficient hours sleep, or rather lack thereof – a comment Jack had studiously ignored – that perhaps he wasn’t quite as well recovered as he would have had them all believe.
A hand alighted briefly on her shoulder, and she snapped out of her musings to find Mike watching her with an inscrutable gaze.
“Hey, sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you.”
“You didn’t…” She realised how defensive she sounded, and took an instant decision to stop it. “It’s okay, don’t worry about it.”
“Been waiting long?”
“Ah… not too long.” She cast a covert glance over Mike, cataloguing six feet tall, leather jacket, seen-it-all-and-then-some eyes, probably still thinks he can make it with the ladies…
He snorted. “Better get used to it. The brass haven’t gotten around to fixing these for the past few years. Not a priority…”
“Things like that never are, are they?”
He chuckled. “Nah. I guess some things stay the same whichever side of the Atlantic you’re on.”
She smiled, and was rewarded with a friendly grin from Mike, which caused part of her brain to rewrite her last thought as …and probably can still make it with the ladies. She stifled the thought, thinking of Rhys back home in Cardiff with a faintly guilty feeling, and cast a more questioning eye over Mike. He appeared to be being genuinely friendly. She should probably end the conversation quickly, before he tried to get information out of her about the killings, but it was such a relief to speak to someone who wasn’t treating her like a lower form of life.
“So… what are you working on at the moment?” she asked, and then kicked herself, realising that she’d just given Mike the perfect opportunity to flip the question back at her, precisely what she didn’t want him to do. Oh well, she’d have to deal with that situation when it happened.
“This and that. It’s kinda chaotic at the moment… having to rearrange everyone’s workloads.” He shrugged. “Actually, right now I have a message for your boss, which is why I’m hanging around waiting for the frickin’ elevator.”
“You could give it to me, I’d be happy to deliver it,” she offered, hoping to distract him from asking about how their investigation was going.
Mike smiled a very wry smile. “Actually, no offence, but no, I can’t. This has to go to him, personally.”
They stared at the metal doors for a few more seconds, then Mike turned suddenly. “Hey, you wanna take the stairs? We could be stuck here for hours.”
She shrugged and nodded, then followed him as he led her towards a set of doors. The two of them started jogging up the steps, Gwen deliberately setting a fast pace. Annoyingly, Mike kept up with her; he might be, what? in his forties, fifties perhaps? but he was obviously still capable of pounding the streets. They reached a small landing about halfway up and paused for a breather.
Mike turned to her and grinned. Someone must have told him at some point in his life that he had a nice smile, Gwen reflected, since he seemed to use it so often. Not for the first time, she wished that they were working with the NYPD, not against them. We could always retcon them afterwards…
“Still getting used to these stairs… Staten Island PD doesn’t have so many,” he remarked, in between catching his breath.
She frowned. “I’m sorry?”
“Ah, I used to be based out in Staten Island – moved to Major Case about two years back.”
“You say “Staten Island” like it’s a bad thing?”
Mike rolled his eyes. “Yeah.” He looked like he was going to add a few more words, then apparently thought better of it.
“So you’re the new guy?”
He chuckled. “Yeah, kind of. I used to work Homicide, then I… got sent out there.”
“Let me guess; it’s where they send you…”
“… if you screw up, yeah.”
“What did you do?”
Mike grinned again, with a faintly rueful air. “I punched a politician.”
“Was it worth it?”
He laughed. “Not quite… ten years on Staten Island is a long time. How about you; how long have you been with Torchwood?”
“I don’t want to talk about that,” she snapped reflexively, and then blushed, as Mike held up his hands and pretended to back off.
“Okay, okay! Just asking.” He gave her The Grin again, and set off up the stairs again. She followed, blushing with annoyance and wondering when she’d acquire Owen or Tosh’s easy way of dealing with difficult questions about what they did for a living.
Once you stop caring about other people so much.
They reached the top of the stairs. Mike politely held the door for her, making a slightly theatrical gesture for her to go first. She didn’t miss the slight buzz of curiosity that echoed as she entered the room with Mike close behind. Ignoring it, she walked purposefully across to the rooms Torchwood had commandeered from the Major Case Squad, Mike pacing beside her. He seemed tense, but Gwen put it down to his impending discussion with Jack. For a minute she saw Torchwood as everyone else in the building must do; a bunch of brash, British, intruders, who had insulted the NYPD’s top investigative team, taken over their offices, and drawn a gun on their medical examiner… and who still hadn’t managed to catch the killer.
She banished the thought, reminded herself that they should be grateful that the experts were here to handle the problem and that nothing would ever change the fact that Torchwood needed to keep its secrets. She opened their temporary office’s door and leaned through it.
“Jack? You’ve got a visitor. Detective Logan. He says he has a message for you.”
Jack was perched on the edge of a desk, one leg swinging in the air, going through some of Goren and Eames’ files. He looked up from a set of notes, and his face darkened.
“Tell him it can wait.”
From behind her, Mike’s voice came through the open door: “Actually, Captain, no, it can’t. This relates directly to the case.”
Jack thought for a few seconds, then shrugged. “Okay. Gwen, let him in, but this had better not take too long.”
She opened the door and gestured to Mike to step through. He sauntered in, his own face tightening just slightly as he saw the Torchwood team in possession of what until recently had been part of the Major Case Squad’s own office. Jack did not look up at him, instead leaning over to Ianto and remarking: “We’re going to need to speak to Goren again, I can’t read some of these notes – can you go and get him?”
Ianto nodded and rose from his seat, but was stopped by Mike, who planted himself firmly between the younger man and the door. Ianto glared at him, and Gwen was reminded of the old saying about the irresistible force and the immovable object, except that in this case the immovable object was winning the battle.
Jack looked up from the papers and scowled. “Detective, get out of the way.”
“In a few minutes.”
Mike’s face had set into a harder expression than Gwen had seen him wear so far. She could hear him saying again, “…I used to work Homicide”, and was suddenly and acutely aware that Mike’s apparent affability must hide a core of steel, and suddenly equally aware that the closest she’d got to anything similar during her time on the force was arresting a few angry drunks in Cardiff city centre after closing time.
Jack rose from his desk, his coat falling into folds around him, and stalked across to confront the detective. “If your message is just for me, then let’s hear it, but get out of Ianto’s way first.”
“Actually, he needs to be here for it.” Mike glanced around at the rest of the team, who had stopped work to watch the confrontation taking place in front of them. “In fact, Captain Harkness, your whole team does.”
Something about the way Mike ever-so-slightly emphasised the word “captain” in that sentence caused a deep feeling of unease, and Gwen suddenly had a sinking feeling she’d misread the entire situation. Jack, however, seemed dismissive of the whole thing, and gestured to Ianto to stay put for a few seconds.
“Okay, Detective, let’s get this over with.”
Almost the next thing Gwen knew, Jack was lying flat on his back, as Mike lunged at him with a punch that connected with Jack’s right cheekbone with a sickening cracking sound, and enough force to knock him backwards onto the floor. Pandemonium reigned as Owen and Tosh simultaneously launched themselves towards Jack, Ianto whirled towards Mike with an expression that suggested he was seriously thinking about drawing Jack’s gun on him, and Gwen… found herself paralysed, unsure whether to rush over and check whether Jack was okay, join Ianto in confronting Mike, or just stand there wondering what the hell had just happened.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Owen started to rise to his feet, but was stopped by a force-ten glower from Mike that stated clearly that he would willingly punch Owen too.
“Shut up,” he growled, very softly, but with sufficient force that even Owen stayed silent. They watched as Jack , leaning on Ianto’s arm more heavily than he would have perhaps liked anyone else to see, got back onto his feet. His eyes were as dark and angry as Gwen had ever seen, and he stalked forward to confront the other man with a glare that would have terrified Gwen if it had been aimed at her, yet Mike seemed unfazed. Instead, he gestured around at the other members of Torchwood, and his expression changed from anger to a more thoughtful expression.
“This is your message, Captain. You come in here and take over our offices and our case, you insult my colleagues and treat us like a bunch of incompetent hicks… that’s one thing.”
Mike paused, and his face darkened. “You get one of us killed, you punch my captain, you point a gun at our M.E. … now, that’s another. That’s something else entirely. The NYPD looks after its own.”
Jack took a step forward and the two men locked eyes, their expressions the sort that would have had Gwen yelling down the radio for back-up if she’d seen them outside a Cardiff pub at closing time.
“I’m sorry your officer was killed, but that is not my fault, Detective.” Jack’s voice was thick with pain, but his anger came through clearly. “You choose to disregard our advice, you are going to get yourselves killed, and that’s nothing to do with us. That’s your mistake, and that’s on your heads. If Goren and Eames had listened to us…”
Mike sighed, a little wearily. “Yeah. Because you’ve given us so much reason to trust you, Captain. I didn’t come up here just to slug you in the face; I came here to show you what’s going to happen if you carry on like this. We feel the same way about ours as your team feels about you. Right now, the only thing we know is that you’re withholding information about something which is killing our citizens, and our fellow officers...”
“We are the only people – the only people – who can handle this, and if you insist on getting in the way, the consequences are not our responsibility.” Jack spat the words out, and Gwen unwillingly found herself admiring Mike’s determination to stand his ground. Most people, when faced with an angry Jack Harkness, would have cut and run.
“Yeah. That’ll be a big consolation the next time we get two fresh bodies on the street… oh, sorry, Captain. One body.” Mike’s expression was entirely too knowing.
They stood nose-to-nose for a few seconds, then Jack sighed, and Gwen was suddenly chilled. He looks… old. Frightened, almost. She banished the thought, she had to be wrong, but, not for the first time, she found herself wondering just how badly damaged Jack was after what had happened on the Valiant.
“Okay, Detective, you’ve made your point. Now leave, and if I see you in here again…”
Mike snorted and interrupted him (and Gwen recognised the technique, classic detective move, never leave without having the last word…) “Yeah. I’ll see myself out.”
He turned on his heel and left, leaving Jack staring after him for a second, before he turned and snapped at them: “Okay, the show’s over. Unless you’ve all forgotten, it’s still out there, so stop standing around and get back to work.”
Tosh and Ianto seemed inclined to fuss over him, but a wordless glare from Jack sent them both scurrying back to their desks, albeit with a slightly reproachful air in the case of Ianto. Only Owen seemed inclined to ignore Jack, and sauntered over to him, raising a hand towards his face. As Gwen watched in turmoil, Jack’s hand whipped up and caught the other man’s wrist in a sufficiently hard grip that Owen visibly winced, but didn’t pull away, saying softly: “That needs setting, mate, otherwise it won’t heal as fast and it’ll hurt a lot more.”
“I can do it myself; get back to what you were doing.”
Owen shrugged and turned away as Jack gingerly began to manipulate the bones of his own face back into place, crossing the floor and leaning down to speak to Ianto in a low whisper. Ianto paused in what he was doing to glance first at Jack and then back at Owen. He gave a single, quick shake of his head, and then went back to what he was doing without speaking a word. Owen nodded to himself and, with apparently fresh purpose, strode from the room. Gwen wondered only briefly what that was all about before returning her attention to Jack.
The expression on Owen’s face was dark and determined, and she wondered if he too was having the same thoughts as her. Just how badly damaged was Jack? She felt a stir of unease. Of all the other members of the team, Owen was the most likely to take that thought to the next logical stage; should Jack even be in charge of Torchwood at the moment?
She shook her head slightly, banishing the thought. Right now, Jack needed their support, not their disloyalty. Nevertheless, something drove her to step out of the room rather than rejoining the team, where, a few paces down one of the corridors, she found Mike bathing his rapidly-blackening knuckles under the water fountain. She paused, wondering what to say, then Mike’s head snapped up. Her words died in her throat as he gave her the same unfriendly look as every other cop in the building.
“Not going to apologise, sweetheart.”
She bristled slightly at being called 'sweetheart', but decided that it was not the time or the place to get into an argument over that, seeing as the big detective had just shattered Jack's cheekbone with a single punch.
“I’m not going to ask you to.”
“Good.” He sighed and they stared at each other for a few minutes.
“Listen, I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what Torchwood is. But what I do know, Ms Cooper, is that I’ve been putting away murderers since before you left school. I do not like dead bodies on the streets of New York, and I really don’t like it when people keep information from me that stops me from catching their killers.”
“I hope so.” He sighed again. “I gotta get back to the squad room. See you around.”
He turned and left, leaving Gwen to the turmoil of her thoughts.
Dogged by shadows that haunted his dreams, Ianto awoke just before six the next morning. A quick glance at Jack told him that the captain had had a peaceful night for once, his rest undisturbed by nightmares. A closer look revealed a renewed tinge of colour to his face that had been missing during the previous day – particularly after Detective Logan’s unexpected and unwarranted assault. No, it seemed that Jack was finally recovering from the Grysliaak’s attack, something that was most likely aided by the mild sedative that he and Owen had secretly added to Jack’s coffee after they’d arrived back at the hotel last night.
Ianto grimaced. The last time they’d drugged Jack had been for exactly the same reason; because he needed real rest after a violent and traumatic death experience. Regardless of intentions, though, Jack was still likely to throttle them both when he woke up and realised what they’d done. A moment beyond that, Ianto smiled as he decided that he simply didn’t care.
Unable to resist, he leaned in and pressed his lips to Jack’s in a feather-light kiss. Jack stirred but didn’t awaken. Smiling to himself, Ianto quietly got dressed and slipped out of the bedroom, leaving Jack to sleep in peace.
To his surprise, Ianto emerged to find that Owen was already up and dressed. In fact, Ianto thought as he set about brewing a fresh pot of coffee, it looked suspiciously like he had either slept in his clothes, or not slept at all. He opted not to comment, instead passing the medic a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
“Ianto, you’re a godsend,” Owen muttered as he took the mug gratefully.
“Did you sleep at all?” Ianto wondered, giving in to his curiosity.
“Got in a couple of hours,” Owen murmured. “Been thinking about this Grysliaak thing. Jack said it’s effectively a mass of energy, right?”
“Yes,” Ianto agreed with a slight frown. He wasn’t quite sure where Owen was going with this, and nor was he sure that he wanted to know. “That’s right. Why?”
“Okay. So, shouldn’t there be a way to cancel that out?”
“You mean if we were to hit it with an enormous charge of power, or something like that?” Ianto wondered.
“Yeah,” Owen confirmed. “I mean, the other alternative is to let the fucking thing keep feeding off Jack until it becomes totally solid, and then shoot it in the head.”
“No,” Ianto growled vehemently, and Owen held up his hands defensively.
“Wasn’t suggesting it. Just laying it out on the table. We really don’t have a lot in the way of options here, Ianto.”
“I’m fully aware of that, Owen.”
“Is that fresh coffee? Oh, thank God…”
Ianto and Owen watched in amusement, their discussion momentarily forgotten, as Gwen emerged, still looking half asleep. Just a few minutes later, Tosh came out as well, looking considerably more awake than Gwen.
“Where’s Jack?” Gwen wondered once she’d downed half a mug of coffee. Ianto indicated back towards his bedroom.
“Still asleep. He’ll kill me for letting him sleep on, but it’s the first time he’s not had any nightmares. I just didn’t want to wake him before I really need to when he’s actually getting proper rest for once.”
“Are we still going to put it to him when he wakes up?” Tosh asked, and Owen nodded.
“Definitely. No other choice.”
A frown slowly filtered across Ianto’s face.
“Put what to him?”
The other three exchanged long glances before Owen caved and explained what they were talking about.
“We’re going to suggest to Jack that we ask for help. You know… from the detectives. We can’t deal with this alone anymore, Ianto. You know we can’t. Look at what happened to Jack last night, for God’s sake.”
Ianto stared stonily at Owen.
“And that’s your solution, is it? To put more people at risk? Jack will never agree, and I don’t either. So, if you were hoping to get me on side to convince Jack, then you can forget it. This is our responsibility, and we’ll find a way to deal with it that doesn’t include putting others in danger.”
“You’re being a moron, Ianto!” Owen growled impatiently. “We can’t do this on our own, and Jack’s going to be the one to suffer for it! Is that what you really want?”
Ianto said nothing, his thoughts going to Jack’s request, to call Martha if something went terribly wrong. Just how wrong was ‘terribly wrong’, anyway? One death for Jack? Two? More? Or should he do as Jack had explicitly instructed, and make the call only when Jack had been taken by the monster that they were hunting?
It disturbed him greatly to realise that he was, in fact, thinking ‘when’, and not ‘if’.
He had no chance to dwell on those thoughts, though. A sharp rapping on the door of the suite jolted them all back to reality. Sparing his colleagues a dark look that warned them the discussion was not done with yet, he went to see who was at the door.
“Bloody hell,” he hissed a moment later as he peered through the peephole. “It’s Captain Ross and his detectives.”
“Fuck, what do they want?” Owen muttered. Ianto briefly considered ignoring them and not opening the door at all, except that he knew they would have to face them sooner or later. That, and it was entirely likely that they would use their authority to get the concierge to let them in. Grimacing, Ianto made up his mind and opened the door to the detectives and their captain.
Owen came forward, shoulders squared as he psyched himself up to deal with them, but Ross got in first.
“I don’t want to hear a word from you, Dr Harper. I want to see your captain, right now. Where is he?”
Owen raised an eyebrow in amusement, tempted to make a smart mouthed remark about not saying a word, only to decide that it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do when confronted by four visibly angry cops.
“He’s still asleep, Captain Ross. He’s still recovering from what happened two nights ago.” He paused, firing an angry look in Mike’s direction. “And what happened yesterday didn’t help either, thanks very much.”
Ross frowned, looking from Owen back to Mike, genuinely puzzled.
“What’s he talking about, Logan?”
Mike was unapologetic. He knew it would come out sooner or later, and he was willing to face whatever reprimand Ross had for him, knowing full well that it was probably all he would get. Ross was far too pissed off with the Torchwood crew to really take him to task over punching Harkness and, even if he wasn’t, as far as Mike was concerned a reprimand was worth the satisfaction of knocking the arrogant bastard off his feet.
“I gave Captain Harkness a message yesterday,” Mike answered placidly. “On behalf of the squad.”
Slowly, Ross turned to face his detective. He suspected he knew what was coming, but he wanted to hear it from Mike’s own lips.
“What sort of message?”
“I hit him,” Mike told him. Ross shut his eyes for a moment, only barely suppressing a groan.
“Damn it, Logan…”
Owen and Ianto exchanged bemused glances. Clearly Ross had been ignorant of his detective’s little attempt to assert his authority the previous day.
“As I said, Jack is recovering, and we’d all appreciate it if you’d kindly clear out. He needs to rest, not be harassed by you lot.”
Ross turned so fast that Owen nearly stumbled backwards. His expression was hard and angry, and very much unrelenting.
“You will go and wake your captain right now, Dr Harper.”
Owen stared at him with an angry glower.
“Or what, Captain Ross?”
Ross stepped forward, until he was almost nose to nose with Owen.
“Or else we’ll arrest your colleague here for threatening our ME with a gun.”
Owen glanced at Ianto who, far from looking alarmed, instead looked slightly perturbed at being dragged into the middle. The medic turned his attention back to Ross, and finally allowed himself a small, cold smile.
“You go ahead and try that, Captain, and I guarantee you’ll get booted out of the NYPD so hard that you’ll land in fucking Alaska.”
“You think you have that authority?” Ross asked with a slight sneer. To his irritation, Owen’s grin widened.
“Not me, Captain. I meant Jack. Do you realise he has a personal hotline to your President?”
Ross couldn’t quite hide the discomfort that flickered across his face at that revelation, although he made an admirable effort. Behind Owen, Tosh coughed conspicuously, and Ianto spoke up in a deceptively bored tone.
“Yes, well, if you two would like to put a hold on your little struggle for alpha male status, perhaps we can all sit down and discuss the situation reasonably. What do you say, hmm? And I’ll make us all a lovely cup of coffee.”
“You just said the magic word,” Alex murmured appreciatively as Ross and Owen both backed down at the same time. Ianto smile wryly.
“Doesn’t matter how wide the cultural divide. Coffee is universally understood.”
Ten minutes later, they all sat down with freshly brewed coffee, and all noticeably calmer for it.
“Is he really still sleeping?” Mike asked, just a hint of scepticism in his voice.
“Yes,” he is,” Ianto confirmed. “And it’s so rare for him to get a decent amount of sleep, that we really would prefer that he not be prematurely disturbed.”
All of a sudden, Gwen made an odd noise and focused a hard stare on both Ianto and Owen.
“You did it again, didn’t you?”
“Did what again?” Ross asked in confusion when neither man answered. Gwen was positively glowering by then.
“Drugged him, that’s what. They decided Jack wasn’t getting enough rest, and so they drugged his coffee. He’s going to kill you both, you know that?”
“He can do what he bloody well likes. Better to knock him out for one night than have him collapse on us at a critical moment. Despite everything, the man is still human, and he can run himself to exhaustion just like the rest of us.”
At that, Alex glanced pointedly at Bobby, but opted against saying anything. Ross spared them a glance, and then returned his attention to the Torchwood team.
“We need to talk about what happened the other night. No matter what you try to tell us, it doesn’t change the fact that your captain was dead. And then… he wasn’t.”
“Why can’t you just let it go?” Tosh asked, a hint of anxiety in her tone. It was Bobby who spoke when both Ross and Mike hesitated.
“We’re NYPD. We pride ourselves on being rational and logical. Two nights ago, Captain Ross and Detective Logan witnessed something that wasn’t rational or logical. We can’t explain it, but they know what they saw.”
Ianto regarded Bobby placidly.
“Perhaps they simply didn’t see what they thought they did.”
“He was dead, damn it!” Mike burst out abruptly. “We were there! We saw it, and our ME saw it, and she would not make a mistake like that!”
Ianto was still considering what to say when Gwen suddenly spoke in a quiet, lulling tone.
“What if we were to tell you that you were right? That Jack was dead, but that he came back to life?”
“Gwen…” Owen said softly, but she ignored him.
“What if we went a step further, though? What if we told you that Jack can’t die?”
“You’re out of your goddamned mind,” Mike said hoarsely. “You can’t expect us to believe that.”
Gwen leaned forward, staring at him with a piercing gaze.
“Then why do you think we want you to forget about what you saw?”
Silence descended like a crushing weight on all of them. Eventually, Bobby broke it in a wonder-filled voice.
“He can’t die. You really are serious… Jack really can’t die.”
Before Gwen had a chance to respond, Alex spoke up in a strained voice.
“No. No way. That isn’t possible. It… It just isn’t. You’re crazy, you’re all crazy!”
Ianto watched her grimly for a long moment before looking around slowly at the others. Like Alex, Mike was refusing to accept Gwen’s words. Ross, surprisingly, appeared to be at least considering them, although the jury was still out on whether he could bring himself to believe it or not. Bobby, on the other hand…
Bobby had already accepted it, Ianto realised with some degree of surprise. He’d accepted the truth about Jack without protest, and there was a strangely calm look in his eyes. He didn’t appear unsettled in the slightest which, in turn, left Ianto feeling unsettled.
“What do you want from us?” Ross asked, and the strain of all that had happened was just slightly audible in his voice. Owen deferred to Ianto, knowing full well that if it were left to him to respond, he would do so with a smart-mouthed and highly inappropriate remark.
Ianto, for his part, drew in a steadying breath. He could hardly believe what he was about to say, but after Gwen’s ill-timed exposé he could see no point in any further subterfuge. He could only hope that Jack wouldn’t flay the lot of them for it.
“We need your help.”
Again, silence reigned.
“You… need our help?” Ross asked finally. Though Ianto didn’t physically flinch at the captain’s tone, inwardly he was cringing.
“There are only five of us, Captain Ross, and now that we know what it is that we’re dealing with, we need all the extra manpower we can get.”
“This is rich,” Mike snorted derisively.
“Shut up, Logan,” Ross told him sharply, without taking his eyes off Ianto. “Assuming we agree…”
He never got any further. An instant later, the most god-awful scream any one of them had ever heard suddenly shattered the quiet.
“What the hell?” Mike gasped, launching himself to his feet.
“Jack!” Gwen cried out.
“That’s no nightmare,” Ianto said urgently, and took off down the hallway at a run, with both his Torchwood colleagues and the Major Case captain and detectives right behind him.
He burst into the room to a terrifying sight. A half-formed opaque creature was on top of Jack on the bed, pinning him down with a brutal strength while it fed off him like some demented sort of vampire. Trapped beneath it, Jack’s body had gone rigid and the screams of pain ripped from his throat as wave after wave of agony washed over him.
The creature’s body was alight with the energy that it was dragging out of Jack, and surplus electricity left the air powerfully charged.
“No, get off him!” Gwen screamed, and ran forward without thinking. She threw herself at the monster, but to no positive effect. There was a loud crack that all-too-briefly drowned out Jack’s strangled screams, and Gwen went flying across the room, slammed into the wall and slumped to the floor, stunned beyond response.
Owen started forward as well, as the screams rapidly diminished into sick, gurgling moans, only to be pulled back by both Ianto and Ross.
“Don’t,” Ianto gasped. “Remember what Jack said.”
“Fuck that!” Owen bellowed, struggling to get free of their grip. “We can’t just let it kill him! Not again!”
And yet, to the horror of all of them, it appeared that there was no other choice. They could do nothing but stand there, helpless, as Jack’s life was drained from him once more.
Owen was on the cusp of arguing again when suddenly he, Ianto and Ross were all pushed forcefully out of the way. A moment later, Bobby Goren charged the creature on the bed, and clutched in his hands was one of the wooden chairs from the suite’s dining room.
As they watched, he swung the chair with all of his strength and it collided with the Grysliaak’s near-solid form, sending it flying off the bed and into the nearby wall. Then, dropping the chair, Bobby drew his gun and aimed it swiftly at the monster.
“I’ll bet you’re solid enough now to take a bullet. What do you think?”
The Grysliaak stared at Bobby with a hate-filled glare, before launching itself upwards and going out the window with a howl of rage.
Ianto broke his paralysis almost immediately, and ran to Jack’s side. Owen was not far behind him.
“Is he okay?” Ross asked, even though he strongly suspected that he wouldn’t be.
“No,” Owen answered in a strained voice. “He’s not okay. Damn it!”
“But he’s still alive,” Ianto gasped hoarsely as he looked Jack over in borderline panic. “He’s not dead!”
“Not yet,” Owen said grimly. “It’s not going to be long, though. Damn it, how the hell did that thing get the drop on him twice?”
Even as he asked the question, though, he knew the answer, and Tosh confirmed his fears in a shaken and angry voice.
“Because you drugged him, you idiots! You might as well have drawn a target on his chest, and hung a sign out the window saying come and get me! You practically set him up for this!”
Ianto and Owen exchanged stricken looks. As much as they might each try to deny it, Tosh was right. Though their intentions had been good, drugging Jack had only served to leave him vulnerable to a second attack by the Grysliaak. Turning his attention back to Jack, Ianto gently took up Jack’s hand and cradled it lovingly to his cheek.
“C’mon, Jack,” the Welshman whispered desperately. “C’mon, fight it. Fight…”
“I'm calling for an ambulance,” Ross stated suddenly, pulling out his cell phone even as he spoke. He was startled, as were his detectives, when Owen suddenly rounded on him and grabbed his wrist in a ferocious grip.
“No. Put that away. We don't need an ambulance.”
Ross looked as though he was going to argue, but something in Owen's expression stopped him cold. His eyes hard, Ross conceded and put his cell phone away.
A sickening, gurgling moan drew their attention away from the stand-off between Ross and Owen, and they all looked around just as Jack's eyes half-opened, and focused just briefly on Ianto. They were filled with a pain that was heart-breaking. His mouth opened, as though he was trying to speak, but the attempt ended in a violent siezure, and his body began to convulse uncontrollably.
“He's siezing!” Owen shouted unnecessarily. Bobby moved in to try and help hold Jack down, but it proved to be a pointless exercise.
“His body is fighting to regenerate the energy that was stolen,” Owen growled. “Goddamn it, he should just die! Why the hell won't he die?”
“Shit!” Ianto burst out as blood suddenly bubbled up and out of Jack's mouth.
“He's going to choke on his own blood!” Ross shouted. “For God's sake, let us call an ambulance!”
“No!” Owen thundered. “I told you, no ambulances.”
“Owen, please!” Tosh cried out, unable to stand watching Jack suffer any longer. “Finish it off for him! Don't let him go through this! You know he won't stop fighting! He can't! Please... just finish him so his body can heal!”
Owen looked around at Ianto, pale and distressed. Tosh was right, and they both knew it. On the other hand, who was to say that a bullet at this stage, when Jack was so weak, wouldn't succeed where so much else had failed.
In the next moment, though, the decision was taken out of their hands. Jack's body convulsed once more, blood spraying from his mouth as his internal organs finally failed, and then he fell limp against the bed. Silence fell as Owen leaned in and checked for a pulse with trembling fingers.
“That's it,” he said quietly, soberly. “He's gone.”
Ross walked over and, after getting a nod from Owen, also checked Jack's vital signs.
“Nothing,” he confirmed. “He's dead.”
“So what now?” Mike asked. Ianto spoke grimly as Owen went to see to Gwen, who was still slumped on the floor, unconscious.
“Now we wait.”
The minutes ticked by with a painful slowness as they stood around waiting. Nearly twenty minutes had gone by before Mike suddenly uttered a frustrated noise.
“This is insane. He's dead. We should be calling in the ME.” He shook his head. “I'm not waiting around here any longer.”
He turned to go, but Ross spoke firmly, stopping him in his tracks.
“Stay right where you are, Logan. Don't you leave this room. We missed what happened the last time. We're not going to miss it again. You will stay and witness it.”
Irritation flashed across Mike's face, but he conceded and turned his attention back to the bed.
“How long does it usually take?” Bobby wondered, his eyes fixed on Jack's ashen features. Both Mike and Alex shot him strained looks, but Ross was with Bobby, watching Jack intently and waiting for an answer from one of the Torchwood crew.
“Usually only minutes,” Tosh answered softly as she brought a cloth in from the bathroom and gently began to clean the blood from Jack's face. “But circumstances like this are different. When he faced Abaddon back home, he was dead for nearly a week before he came back to us. And it took him nearly an hour to come back to life after he was attacked and killed two nights ago.”
“He was already weak,” Owen said from where he stood sombrely by the bedside. “It might be longer this time before he comes back.”
Behind them, Alex muttered something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like 'crazy bastards', which the rest of them pointedly ignored. Ianto, who had seated himself on the edge of the bed, took Jack's hand in his own and held it gently.
“We have to be patient. He'll come back. He always comes back.”
“You're not just talking about him coming back to life,” Bobby stated quietly. “There's something else to it, isn't there?”
“That is irrelevant,” Ianto said stiffly, only to be interrupted by a conspicuous cough from Gwen, who was still looking a little pale herself from her brief encounter with the Grysliaak.
“Perhaps not completely irrelevant...” she said tentatively. Ianto frowned at her, but before he could say anything else, Jack suddenly reanimated with a strangled gasp, his body arching up off the bed. Immediately, Ianto's attention was exclusively on Jack, oblivious to the stunned gazes of the detectives.
“It's all right, Jack. I'm here. Just breathe deeply, and don't panic.”
Jack shuddered violently as he gradually came back to awareness, and his memories slowly pieced themselves back together.
“It came for me again, didn’t it?” he asked hoarsely.
“Yes,” Ianto confirmed grimly. He could see no point in lying. “It did. I'm sorry, Jack. I should never have...”
He trailed off, unable to finish the sentence. Jack answered with a light squeeze of his hand.
“Not your fault. If you'd been with me, it would have killed you to get to me.”
Ianto blanched visibly, realising that Jack had made the wrong assumption about why he was feeling guilty.
“That... It's not what I meant,” he admitted stumblingly. Jack's pale blue eyes met Ianto's in a hard stare.
“I know, and the next time you and Owen drug me, I'll feed you both to Myfanwy.”
Ianto paled slightly, but nodded in acceptance. Jack sighed faintly and his gaze shifted around the room, eventually coming to rest on Ross and the detectives.
“What are they doing here?” he demanded tensely.
“They were here when you were attacked, Jack,” Tosh told him gently. “They saw everything.”
“And they're not quite as useless as we supposed,” Owen said dryly. “While we all stood around like monkeys, Detective Goren there had the presence of mind to grab one of the wooden dining chairs and knock the Grysliaak off you before it could finish you off.”
Bobby wasn't entirely sure what to expect when Jack looked over at him. A grudging thanks at best, perhaps. What he wasn't anticipating was the open look of gratitude and respect that Jack directed at him. For several seconds, the two men locked stares, and Bobby found himself having to look away first, unable to match the intensity of Jack's gaze. Even weakened as he was, the man had a natural, powerful charisma that was impossible to match.
Smiling faintly to himself, Jack attempted to push himself up. There was precious little strength in his upper body, though, and his arms gave out beneath him.
“Easy,” Ianto murmured. “Just take it slowly.”
“No time,” Jack argued. “Help me up, Ianto, please...”
Frowning his disapproval, Ianto nevertheless took Jack's arm and helped him to get up. At the sight of his body, clad scantily in boxer shorts and nothing else, Alex coughed and turned away.
“I'll just wait outside.”
Jack looked up at her, genuinely amused by her reaction.
“Never seen a guy in his shorts before, Detective?”
“Stop it,” Ianto admonished him. “Not everyone appreciates your exhibitionist tendencies, Jack.”
“I think,” Ross said wryly, “that perhaps we'll all wait outside while Captain Harkness makes himself more presentable.”
The detectives all filed compliantly from the room, followed by Owen and Tosh, leaving Ianto to help Jack shower and get dressed. Not one of them could fail to smile, though, as Jack's indignant voice reached them from within the bedroom.
“What's the point of being exhibitionist is no one ever wants to hang around and watch...?”
“Doesn't that bother you?” Alex asked Tosh as they sat themselves down in the living room. Tosh looked at her in genuine surprise.
“What? Do you mean Jack?”
A knowing smile touched Tosh's lips.
“No, you tend to get used to it. He doesn't mean any harm by it. It's just the way he is.”
“You mean permanently lecherous?” she retorted. Gwen laughed softly.
“Jack is just from a time where people are a lot more... relaxed about their sexuality.”
Alex blinked in astonishment as Gwen's words registered in her already overloaded mind.
“I'm sorry... Did you say time? Don't you mean he's from another place?”
Owen uttered a short laugh.
“You detectives don't miss a thing. No, Gwen did not mean he's from another place. Our Jack is, in fact, from the fifty-first century.”
“Now I really have heard everything,” Mike muttered. Bobby frowned at him from across the room.
“Mike, you just witnessed the man coming back to life after being dead for nearly half an hour. Is it really so hard to believe this now?”
“Good point,” Mike conceded, sinking back into his seat.
“If he's from that far into the future,” Ross said with a concentrated frown, “that what's he doing in our time? And how did he get here?”
“That, Captain Ross,” Owen stated quietly, “is up to Jack to explain.”
“You don't know?” Alex wondered.
“We know,” Tosh confirmed. “But it's not our place to tell. It's Jack's story, and he should be the only one to tell it.”
“I am starting to get sick of this,” Jack muttered, all the flirtatiousness gone from his demeanour in an instant once he and Ianto were alone. Ianto glanced back to where Jack currently sat slumped in a chair, while he adjusted the water temperature in the shower. Jack still looked only half aware, though whether that was a result of the attack or from being sedated, Ianto couldn’t know for certain.
Guilt pervaded the Welshman’s senses as he was again reminded that Jack’s vulnerability to attack was at least partially his fault.
“I’m sorry, Jack,” he said softly. “We didn’t stop to think that it would leave you open to an attack like that.”
Slowly, Jack lifted his head to look at the other man, and it was all Ianto could do not to physically cringe at the dark circles that now appeared under Jack’s eyes. However bad he had looked before, he was now looking ten times worse.
“You were worried about me. I get that. But I need you to be smarter than that, Ianto. I’m relying on you to back me up here, more than anyone else. I’m sorry if that doesn’t seem fair, but you’re the only one I trust to do what has to be done… to let happen what has to happen.”
Ianto looked distinctly unhappy as he helped Jack to his feet and slipped the boxers down his hips before guiding him gently into the shower.
“You mean let it take you.”
“If it saves lives, then yes. You have my instructions. Don’t try to save me. Just let it take me, and then call Martha.”
“And if I don’t want to do that?”
Jack paused, staring at Ianto through slightly bloodshot eyes.
“You can question what I ask you to do any time, and I’ll welcome it. But not now. Not this time. Please, Ianto, just promise me you’ll do as I ask?”
Ianto leaned in and pressed his lips gently to Jack’s, ignoring the water that sprayed across his face and shirt in the process.
“You’re not going to lose me, Jack. I promise.”
He felt Jack shudder against him, and felt one arm slip around behind his neck, holding him close.
“Don’t make promises that you might not be able to keep.”
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