One Police Plaza
Mike snapped his cell phone shut, and his breath caught in his throat as Alex's words echoed in his ears. She'd gotten through to Martha Jones. The Doctor... whatever or whoever the hell the Doctor was... was on his way. He shut his eyes for a moment, feeling a rush of relief that was tinged strongly with a pervasive sense of unease. Help was coming, finally.
“Logan, no time for a catnap, pal,” Jackson said, nudging his shoulder as he passed by. Mike grimaced and swung his feet off the edge of his desk, getting up.
“Wouldn't dream of it. Is Ross back from meeting with the Chief?”
“Yeah. He's in talking with those Torchwood guys.”
“Great,” Mike murmured, and headed for the task room.
“Logan?” Jackson asked, sensing a sudden change in atmosphere around the other detective. “What's going on?”
Mike paused, glancing back at Jackson.
“Cavalry's coming,” he said simply. Then he headed on towards the first of the task rooms. Jackson watched him go before turning away and muttering grimly to himself.
“Just hope it's not too late.”
Ross couldn't resist the pull of curiosity, and he eagerly took the opportunity to sit back and observe the three remaining members of Torchwood. Only hours ago, if someone had asked him how he thought the team would cope without their captain, he would have said without hesitation that they would fall apart. Even to an observer like him, who had only known them for a few days, it was painfully obvious that Jack Harkness was the glue that held them together. In the wake of the Captain's abduction, though, the remaining members had certainly stumbled, but not fallen. And then, even as Ross watched, they picked themselves up, found their stride and almost literally surged forward.
Even though Owen Harper seemed to be second in command, Gwen Cooper had stepped up to the plate and taken charge. Her colleagues followed her lead with confidence and absolute trust, and with every decision Gwen made, her confidence grew.
Ross was especially impressed by their resilience and determination, given the grim situation they were all facing. It would have been too easy to crumble and give up, and none of them had. All the same, all the determination in the world didn't change the fact that they were getting nowhere fast. There had been no further power surges to give them a clue as to the Grysliaak's whereabouts, and Ross thought he knew why.
One thing that Jack had told them about the creature was that the Grysliaak was gradually assimilating human form. Ross suspect that assimilation was now complete, effectively ruling out any chance of tracking it via power surges. The grim truth was that despite all efforts, none of them could see a way out of this that wouldn't result in the deaths of Bobby Goren and Ianto Jones. As for Jack Harkness...
Ross had always believed that there were some fates that were worse than death, and he couldn't imagine a worse fate than being kept as a replenishable source of food for a monster.
“Excuse us,” Owen said abruptly, breaking Ross out of his reverie, “but are you planning to offer anything even remotely helpful, or are you happy to just stand there gawking?”
Ross regarded Owen with a mixture of annoyance and bemusement.
“Are you always this rude to your own captain?”
“All the time,” Owen answered flippantly. “Especially when he's being an insufferable prat, which is frequently. It's part of the reason he hired me in the first place, because I don't try to kiss his arse twenty-four seven.”
Ross raised an eyebrow. Owen's words were deprecating, but he could read between the lines as well as anyone, and he could hear a distinct tone of respect in the man's voice as he spoke about Jack.
“If any of my detectives were as disrespectful as that, I'd have them up for insubordination,” he remarked calmly, at the same time giving himself yet another mental reminder to show Bobby a little more appreciation if... no, not if. When they rescued him. Owen didn't appear the slightest bit perturbed.
“Yes, well, Jack isn't you, is he?”
“Just as well, too,” Tosh retorted, throwing Owen a dirty look. “Considering Owen shot him.”
Ross did a double-take.
“You shot him?”
“In my defence, I wasn't exactly thinking straight at the time,” Owen said.
“None of us were,” Gwen said quietly. “It's difficult to explain, Captain Ross. There were things happening, and we were all being manipulated by these... visions. Jack was the only one of us who wasn't affected, because he was the only one who never saw anything. We all turned on him... Four against one... We made a terrible mistake, and we nearly lost Jack permanently because of it. The way we talk to... and about him... might seem disrespectful to you, but the truth is we couldn't respect him more. We love him. He's not just our leader, Captain Ross. He's our friend... our brother... He's everything to us.”
Ross nodded, unable to help being affected by her heartfelt words.
“I believe you. I can see it in your faces. But the bottom line is that it still doesn't get us any closer to finding them.”
Not for the first time, frustration flashed across Gwen's face, along with a healthy dose of fear.
“I don't know,” she admitted finally. “I just don't know what to do. Bobby and Ianto are going to die, and Jack's going to be lost to that... thing... and I couldn't be more fucking useless!”
Ross could see the downward spiral into despair and hysteria almost before it began. Hoping that an unorthodox response was the right approach with this unorthodox team, he stepped in and grasped Gwen firmly by the shoulders, bringing her panic attack to a halt before it had a chance to begin.
“Stop right there, Miss Cooper. You're not going to do anyone any good, least of all yourself, by going down that track.”
Gwen stared at him, struggling against the sense of utter hopelessness that threatened to swallow her up.
“We don't even know where to start.”
Ross drew in a long breath. Eames would probably ream him a new one for this, but he had to do something.
“Twelve months ago, Detective Eames was abducted by a serial killer. She was missing for twelve hours, and I think you can all understand how long twelve hours can seem in a desperate situation. We had very few clues, no idea where to begin looking, and our only suspect was uncooperative... and, as it turned out in the end, innocent. We had no way of knowing if Detective Eames was alive, but we did not quit. She was found safe in the end, mainly due to her own ingenuity, but we didn't give up hoping. We never give up. The only time we stop is when we find a body. Until we actually find the bodies, we are not going to give up now, either on my detective or your colleagues. As long as there are no bodies to prove otherwise, we have to believe that they're still alive. Are you hearing me, Miss Cooper?”
Gwen nodded slowly, grateful for the much-needed support. Stepping back from her, Ross spoke again.
“What about this Martha Jones woman? Have you tried to reach her again?”
“Not since we came back from the power plant,” Tosh said. “We should try her again now.”
“No need,” a new voice said, and they looked around to see Mike standing there in the doorway. How long he'd been there, Ross decided he didn't want to know.
“Why not, Logan?” he asked. Mike stepped all the way into the room.
“Because I just spoke to Eames. She got through. We've got a message back. The Doctor is on his way.”
Owen let his breath out in a rush.
“That's it, then. All we can do now is sit back and brace ourselves, 'cause when he gets here, all hell is gonna break loose.”
“I thought he could fix all of this,” Mike growled, feeling that sense of unease rise up in his gut once more.
“Oh, he can, mate,” Owen agreed. “But this is the Doctor we're talking about. He sent the Sycorax packing... ended the battle of Canary Wharf... Story goes that he's the last surviving Time Lord, from a world that was erased clean out of existence. He's known as the Oncoming Storm, and he didn't get that name by accident.”
Ross and Mike exchanged bemused looks.
“Is that supposed to scare us?” Mike wondered. Owen had the grace to look mildly embarrassed.
“Yeah, well, sorry about that. That sort of thing always sounds better coming from Ianto. He's got the voice for it, you know? Creepy Welsh accent, and all that.” He paused, suddenly conscious of the glare that was being directed at him from Gwen. “Sorry. No offence, darlin'.”
Gwen rolled her eyes, and looked back to Ross, who sighed inwardly before speaking.
“So... what do we do, then?”
All hints of amusement fled Owen's face, and he spoke in a sombre voice.
“Only thing we can do, Captain Ross. We wait.”
Martha didn't wait so much as a second before scrambling out of bed and grabbing the first clothes she could find. As she hurriedly dressed, it occurred to her that her mother wasn't saying a word of protest.
“Aren't you going to ask me what I think I'm doing?” she asked. Francine shook her head.
“Jack is in trouble, Martha. You don't need to justify anything to me.”
Martha smiled gratefully.
“Promise me something, Martha,” Francine told her daughter softly as they headed downstairs.
“What is it?”
“When you find Jack, there's something that I want you to do.”
“What is it, Mum? Spit it out, the Doctor could be here any second.”
“Just hold him, Martha. Let him know he's not alone.”
Martha stared at her mother, puzzled, before hurrying out the door.
“Don't be daft, Mum. Why would he think he's alone? He's got his whole team with him.”
Francine looked decidedly frustrated as she followed Martha out.
“Martha, I love you, and I know you went through hell just like the rest of us, but you do not know half of what went on aboard that ship. I don't care what Jack, or anyone else, says. No one could go through what Jack went through, and not be scarred by it.”
Martha felt a chill rush through her at her mother's words, and she turned slowly back to stare at her.
“Mum? What on earth are you talking about?”
“Just, do what I asked?” Francine insisted softly. Then, after pressing a loving kiss to her daughter's cheek, she turned and disappeared back into the house. Martha had no time to dwell on her mother's words. The door had barely swung closed behind Francine before she heard the familiar grinding sound of the Tardis' engines, and the ship materialised in the middle of the street, right in front of her. The doors were thrown open with exaggerated flamboyance, and the Doctor strode out into the street.
“Doctor...” Martha greeted him.
“Where, Martha?” the Doctor demanded, striding right up until they were almost nose to nose. “Tell me where he is!”
“I don't know exactly,” she stammered, taken slightly aback by the ferocity in his manner. “All I know is what I told you on the phone.”
“But where?” the Doctor burst out. “Where in New York? Awfully big city, and believe me when I say it's grown a lot since we were there last.”
“Oh, right... Um... Well, that detective I spoke to on the phone said she was with the Major Case Squad. Does that help?”
“Major Case Squad?” the Doctor echoed, frowning deeply. “New York Police Department... There's only one Major Case Squad in New York, and that's housed in One Police Plaza. Right, I'll work out the coordinates on the way.”
He turned and practically ran back into the Tardis, with Martha right behind him. He paused to look at her even as he was reaching for the time rotor controls.
“Don't you dare tell me I'm not coming, Doctor,” she told him in a warning tone. “This is Jack we're talking about. He's my friend, too, and if he's in enough trouble for you to come running like this, then you're not leaving me behind.”
The Doctor hesitated only a moment before initiating the dematerialisation sequence, and sending the Tardis into the time vortex and on its way to present day New York City.
“Oi, is someone going to tell me what's going on already?” a voice demanded, and Martha looked around to see an unfamiliar woman standing nearby. When it became obvious that the Doctor wasn't planning on introducing them, Martha took it upon herself to do so.
“Hiya. I'm Martha. Martha Jones. And you are...?”
“Donna Noble,” the other woman answered, accepting Martha's outstretched hand with some reluctance. “Don't s'pose you know what's going on? He hasn't said a word to me since he answered that ruddy phone call. Just ran around muttering to himself like a loon.”
“A friend of ours is in trouble,” Martha explained, instinctively grabbing hold of the rail for support as the Tardis gave a violent shudder. “We're going to help him... I hope.”
“You know he can barely fly this thing? Never lands where he wants it to land.”
“Usually, yeah,” Martha agreed, watching the Doctor's almost manic actions out of the corner of her eye. “Except when something really important is at stake. Then, he never gets it wrong.”
Donna raised an eyebrow.
“This friend of yours that important?”
Martha stared at the Doctor, taking in the fury and sheer concentration that radiated out from him.
“Yeah,” she answered finally in a soft voice. “He is.”
Early the following morning
One Police Plaza
None of them left the squad room that night; all of them waiting for something and yet not knowing exactly what. Even Gwen, Owen and Tosh seemed to be in the dark, none of them knowing what was going to happen when the Doctor arrived. Therefore, when Alex walked back into the squad room early in the morning, with her head still sporting a bandage, there was no chance of slipping in unnoticed.
“Ross is going to pitch a fit when he sees you,” Mike said flatly as Alex walked stubbornly past him. “You should still be in the hospital.”
“I got myself discharged,” she answered. They exchanged stares, and she spoke again defensively. “I'm okay, Mike. Really, I am. I'm better off here worrying myself sick along with the rest of you, than worrying myself sick on my own in a hospital room.”
Mike conceded to that. He knew damned well that he would have felt exactly the same in her position.
“Fine. Just... don't go getting yourself all stressed and frantic, okay? The rest of us are doing enough of that, believe me.”
Alex looked up at him, taking in his pale and drawn features, and the circles under his eyes.
“Have you been up all night?”
A wan smile stretched almost grotesquely across his lips.
“And you haven't?”
She had to concede that. The painkillers she'd been given the previous evening had done nothing to help her sleep, and consequently she had spent the entire night wide awake and struggling with the deepset terror she felt for her missing partner. In all truth, she'd harboured some small hope that she would have walked in this morning to find that this mysterious Doctor had already arrived and set things to rights. As much as she knew it was a pointless expectation, there had been a tiny part of her that had fully hoped to find Bobby sitting back at his desk when she walked in, as if nothing had happened.
It was a foolish hope, and one that she kept carefully to herself.
“No sign of this Doctor, whoever he is?” she asked softly. Mike shook his head.
“No. I don't think even those Torchwood guys know what to expect... or how he's even going to get here. Ross asked them where he's coming from, and none of them could answer. Closest we got was Toshiko saying he could be coming from anywhere. Personally, I think they know just about as much as we do, which is zip.”
“Oh, great,” Alex muttered as Ross's voice literally exploded across the squad room. “Here we go...”
Ross strode across the floor, glowering at his detective in visible frustration.
“What the hell are you doing here? You should still be in the hospital!”
Alex stared at him fully, as though daring him to try ordering her back to Mt Sinai.
“I left,” she said flatly.
“Obviously,” Ross growled. “Why?”
“Captain, I really don't need to stay in the hospital. It'd just drive me crazy. I might as well be here, where I know at least as much as the rest of you what's going on, than lying in a bed halfway across Manhattan, and calling you every five minutes demanding to know what's going on.”
Ross raised an eyebrow at her, realising ruefully just how right she was. He had to try at least once more, though, if only to settle his own conscience.
“I suppose there's no chance of convincing you to go home, then?”
Alex didn't even bother replying to that, and Ross sighed and nodded.
“Thought not. Logan, keep an eye on her.”
Mike nodded, deliberately ignoring the angry glare that Alex directed at him.
“No worries, Captain.”
Ross nodded, and continued on to his office. Alex watched him go, and then looked back to Mike.
“Is this all we're doing, then? Just sitting around on our asses, doing nothing...?”
“Waiting, Alex,” he countered gently. “We're waiting. It's all we can do.”
“Bobby is God knows where... having God only knows what happening to him... and we're waiting?”
He laid a hand on her shoulder, though she wasn't sure whether it was meant to be comforting or something else. Then, he headed back to his own desk, leaving her with a pile of paperwork that she had no hope of concentrating on.
Exhaling loudly in frustration, Alex started shuffling through the pages aimlessly. She was trying so hard to focus on those pages that she didn't immediately notice the strange grinding sound that broke the quiet atmosphere. It wasn't until the papers on her desk suddenly exploded into her face from a gust of wind that came literally from nowhere, that she finally realised something very startling was happening.
She looked up, flapping pages away from her face, and noticing out of the corner of her eye that her fellow detectives were all having the same problem. The noise and disturbance had brought an angry and irritated Ross out of his office, and the three remaining members of Torchwood had also emerged from the task room, where they had been doing whatever it was that they did.
She heard Mike swearing loudly on the other side of the bullpen, but even as she looked across to where he should have been sitting, there was suddenly a large blue box appearing right smack in the middle of all their desks – a blue box with the words Police Box around the top and a bright flashing light on the very top.
The grinding noise wound down, and the box became a visible, solid fixture in the centre of the Major Case bullpen. Silence reigned in the room as all present stared in utter shock. A quick glance revealed that Gwen, Owen and Toshiko all appeared similarly stunned, although Alex thought she saw a flicker of recognition in their faces at the sight of it.
Ross was the first to find his voice, and he strode forward with one hand on his gun.
“What the hell is this?” he exploded, his voice laced strongly with anger and a healthy dose of fear. Before anyone had a chance to offer any suggestions, though, the doors of the box swung open and a tall, somewhat lanky man in a brown striped suit and ankle length brown coat emerged.
He stopped just outside the box, looking around fiercely and when he spoke, although he didn't speak particularly loudly, they all found themselves cringing regardless.
“I want Torchwood, front and centre, right now,” he demanded. Nervous though they looked, Alex had to give them credit that not one of the three hesitated in walking around to face this new arrival.
“Doctor?” Gwen asked tentatively. She had a vague idea of what he looked like from the pictures that had been broadcast of him, his companion and Jack back during the Saxon business, but that was all. It was not so much what he looked like that told Gwen who he was, but rather his entire countenance. In that moment, Gwen believed everything she had heard about the Doctor from the bits and pieces scrapped together about him by Torchwood, and it frightened the hell out of her.
The Doctor stared intently at her, then at Owen, and finally at Toshiko. When his gaze came to rest on the young Japanese woman, though, the anger faded with startling abruptness, and his whole face lit up.
“Dr Sato! Haven't seen you for... well... it'd be a good two and a half years now, wouldn't it!”
Toshiko blinked, taken aback by the unexpectedly cheerful greeting.
“I'm sorry... Have we met before...?”
“Oh yes, although I looked a bit different back then. Big nose, big ears, less hair... It was over a pig in a spacesuit, remember?”
Realisation lit up Toshiko's face.
“Oh, I remember! The spaceship that crashed into Big Ben!”
“You've got it! You weren't working for Torchwood back then, were you?”
She shook her head quickly.
“No, Jack recruited me afterwards. Torchwood One were going to retcon me after that business was all over with, but he wouldn't let them.”
“Yes, good old Jack,” the Doctor murmured, a thoughtful look filtering onto his face, and he seemed to zone briefly.
“Doctor!” a voice snapped behind him. “Remember why we're here!”
“Oh, right!” And abruptly, the ferocity was back and he looked around with eyes that were piercing in their intensity. “I want to know what's going on, and I want to know right from the beginning. No frills, just give me the facts.”
Ross came forward slowly. He didn't understand who this character was. All he knew was a sudden, deep belief that this was the man who could bring a positive end to the terrible situation they were all in.
“I'm Captain Ross,” he introduced himself, grateful that he was able to keep his voice steady. “We have a creature somwhere here in New York City that's been murdering citizens. Captain Harkness and his team arrived to help us stop it, and Captain Harkness identified the creature as a Grysliaak. We had a plan to catch it, but it got in first, and it took Captain Harkness captive, along with Ianto Jones and my detective, Detective Goren. They've been missing for nearly twenty-four hours now, and we don't know where to start looking for them.”
The Doctor favoured Ross with an appreciative stare.
“To the point. Good. Very good. All right, this Grysliaak...”
“It's the same one, Doctor,” Gwen said suddenly, and the Doctor turned a hard stare on her.
“What do you mean?”
Gwen flinched just slightly under the force of his gaze, but didn't back down.
“Jack said it's the same Grysliaak that was on the Valiant. The same one that the Master set onto him.”
The Doctor met that revelation with silence, and though they could all see a whirlwind of thoughts in his brown eyes, he didn't speak a word of it to any of them.
“We found this, too,” Owen said, and held out Jack's vortex manipulator. The Doctor took it slowly, feeling his hearts sink. Had Jack still had his manipulator, whether it was working or not, he would have been able to track it in the Tardis, directly to wherever Jack was.
Behind him, Martha edged out of the Tardis and worked her way around until she could see what the Doctor was holding.
“That's Jack manipulator!” she burst out. “How're we gonna find him now?”
“We can do it,” the Doctor said, staring at the manipulator intently. “But it's going to take longer, because the old girl still isn't too sure about him, and she's going to take some convincing to lock onto his biosignature. On the other hand, once I convince her to do that, we should be able to locate him pretty quickly. Because believe me, Jack has a very unique biosignature. No one else in the universe has one like him.”
“The old girl...?” Mike asked, frowning, and the Doctor patted the box affectionately.
“My ship, of course.”
Mike promptly turned away, coughing something under his breath that sounded something suspiciously like 'lunatic' under his breath. The Doctor favoured Mike with a harsh stare before dismissing him entirely.
“All right. Who's coming and who's staying?” He motioned towards Mike, who had looked back sharply. “Not him. I don't have that sort of time to waste.”
Gwen, Owen and Tosh all piled into the Tardis without hesitation. Alex started forward, only to find herself stopped by Ross.
“No,” she snapped angrily. “Don't tell me I can't go. My partner is out there somewhere, Captain, and I'm not going to stay behind just because of a lousy bump on the head! God knows I've had worse in my life, and so has Bobby, and neither one of us has ever abandoned the other, and I don't intend on starting now! I don't understand how this is going to work, and I don't know what we're going to face, but that isn't what matters now. What matters is my partner, and I'll be damned it I'm going to stay behind when he's in danger, so don't ask me to something that I can't do.”
She had started off making her case to Ross, but by the time she'd finished talking, she found herself facing the Doctor, who was watching her with a raised eyebrow and a critical gaze. He hesitated just a fraction of a second before stepping to the side and motioning towards the open doorway of the Tardis.
“After you, Detective.”
With a mixture of surprise, relief and determination on her face, Alex walked past him into the ship. The Doctor then looked to Ross.
“What about you, Captain Ross?”
It was all the Doctor said, but Ross heard a world of questions in the other's tone. More than anything, he could almost hear the Doctor asking did he have the courage that Eames was showing, to face a relatively unknown danger, and risk his life for what was really important.
Squaring his jaw, Ross strode past the Doctor into the Tardis. Martha then hurried back inside, but the Doctor paused a moment longer. His gaze fixed upon Mike, who was staring back at the Doctor with a combination of disbelief and hope.
“We'll be back. You'd better be ready.”
With that, he disappeared back into the Tardis, the door swinging closed behind him.
“Smaller on the outside, bigger on the inside,” the Doctor shouted as he charged up the ramp to the controls. “Welcome to the Tardis! Yes, she's an alien ship. Yes, she can fly. Yes, she can travel through time and space. Yes, she is a sentient ship, so you'd better be damn careful what you say and think, because she can hear and understand every word. Now, any other questions any of you want to waste my time with before we see about rescuing our friends?”
Startled silence reigned, and then Owen muttered under his breath to Gwen and Tosh.
“And Jack actually spent a hundred and thirty years chasing after him?”
The Doctor shot Owen a look that had the young medic wincing.
“Don't ask questions about something that you can't understand. Any other idiot questions?”
There was another long silence, and then Alex spoke up.
“Can we get this show on the road? We have three colleagues waiting to be saved.”
A grin spread slowly but surely over the Doctor's face.
“Excellent question. And the answer to that is absolutely!”
He turned his attention to the Tardis' controls, but rather than initiate the dematerialisation sequence, he instead started murmuring to the ship in a language that none of them recognised.
“What's he doing?” Ross asked, trying not to sound nervous. It was Martha who spoke.
“He's talking to the Tardis in his own language, in Gallifreyan. You heard him before. He has to convince her to search out Jack. That's what he's doing.”
“Why, though?” Tosh wondered in confusion. “Why wouldn't she want to? Didn't Jack used to travel with the Doctor?”
“It's... complicated,” Martha said, suddenly seeming somewhat uncomfortable. She remembered vividly the conversation that took place on Malcassairo between Jack and the Doctor, before everything quite literally went to hell, and somehow she didn’t think Jack’s team would appreciate hearing him being labelled ‘wrong’. She didn’t especially like that tag herself, and if he was so wrong, then her family would not have taken him into their hearts the way they had during That Year.
Finally, knowing that she couldn’t adequately explain it, she spoke again.
“It’s just complicated, is all.”
Over by the consol, the Doctor had suddenly shifted from speaking in Gallifreyan to very loud and frustrated English.
“Don’t be so stubborn! It’s Jack! Your Jack! He’s still the same person… well, more or less… but look at what he went through to save you. Remember all those burns you helped him to heal from? Yes, I know you remember. He got those from destroying the paradox machine. C’mon, old girl. I know it’s hard, but this is our Jack, and he needs our help! C’mon, please… Don’t you remember? Jack, who gave his life to buy me just a few more seconds on Satellite Five… Our Jack, who saved our Rose…”
Those last words had barely left his lips when the consol and time rotor lights, which had been pulsing dully up until that moment , suddenly exploded into near-blinding brilliance, and the engines roared to life.
A manic grin lit up the Doctor’s face, and he began to push and pull levers and hammer buttons in seemingly random succession.
“Here we go! Hang on, everyone, we’re on our way!”
All passengers made a frantic grab at the nearest solid fixtures as a violent shudder passed through the Tardis. They were finally on their way, and each of them offered up a silent prayer that they were not already too late.
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