Trouble Brewing

A/N: More of Jack's memories in the next chapter....

Ianto glanced around wearily as Donna walked into the room, with Eleya settled comfortably on her hip. Her gaze flickered from Ianto to Jack, and took in the Captain’s sweat-covered countenance.

“How is he?”

“He’s in distress,” Ianto said unhappily. “I wish I could just wake him up, but I can’t.”

Donna set Eleya down to play with a puzzle, and joined Ianto at the bedside. At a second look, in distress was an understatement. Jack’s face was contorted in pain, and his breath came in wheezing gasps that had both Donna and Ianto cringing.

“There must be something we can do,” she said softly, acutely aware that Ianto’s anxiety levels were sky-rocketing in response to Jack’s apparently worsening condition.

“There isn’t,” Ianto said miserably. “I can’t even wipe his face for him. The Doctor said that whatever happens, we can’t interfere in any way, and that includes any sort of physical touch. If we do, it could cause serious damage.”

Donna frowned, wondering how true that really was, and whether she could make the skinny git admit it if it wasn’t.

“It’s not the risk of death,” Ianto went on in a calm tone that utterly belied his turbulent emotions. “He’d come back from that. It’s what it could do to his mind. If we interfere now in any way, it could destroy his mind.”

“But it’s like any other injury, isn’t it?” Donna asked. “Wouldn’t he heal sooner or later?”

“No,” a stern voice answered from the doorway. Donna looked around as the Doctor entered, but Ianto never took his eyes off Jack. “The mind is a different prospect to the physical body, and there are just some things that even the vortex can’t heal. If Jack’s mind is damaged or destroyed whilst in this state, there’ll be no coming back from it. Ianto is right. We can’t interfere, not even to wipe the sweat from his face. Any sort of physical contact is out of the question. He must be left untouched, to come out of it on his own.”

Donna looked grimly back to Jack as Ianto sat with his hands hovering near his lover, but never quite touching.

“It better be worth it, spaceman,” she growled softly. “They’d better not be going through this for nothing.”

The Doctor didn’t reply, but silently he hoped the same thing.

How long has it been now?”

Owen slammed the scalpel down on the autopsy table, and glared up at Gwen in rapidly increasing aggravation.

“It’s been three and a half hours, as you bloody well know. For fuck’s sake, Gwen, go and find something to do! Quit harassing the rest of us!”

“I can’t help it, I’m worried!” Gwen argued. “We have no idea just what is going on inside that… that ship. I’m just worried about Jack, and Ianto and Eleya as well.”

Her admission did nothing to improve Owen’s disposition.

“You think I’m not? Bloody hell, Cooper, how did you ever manage as a copper?”

Gwen looked affronted, but had the sense at least not to argue. Seeing she would get no satisfaction out of Owen, she decided to put her focus towards other mutually beneficial tasks.

“Look, I’m going to go out for coffee.”

Owen’s face lit up at the word.

“Finally, something practical! Bring back one, would you? I know Ianto showed Alex how to use the coffee machine, but she seems to specialise in that rocket fuel that Jack drinks.”

Gwen fought to hide a grin at the memory of Owen nearly choking on the last cup of coffee that Alex had made for him. His only saving grace had been that he’d waited until he was back in Autopsy before tasting it.

“All right, I’ll bring one back for you. Owen…”

“Yes, Gwen?”

“Jack will be all right, won’t he?”

Owen looked back up at her with a mixture of frustration and sympathy.

“Isn’t he always?”

She headed away from him without another word, not certain whether to be reassured or not.

“Gwen!” Tosh called to her as she emerged back into the main body of the Hub. “We’ve got a rift alert. Something’s come through, but I can’t tell yet if it’s sentient.”

“What’s the location?” Gwen wondered.

“Police Headquarters,” Tosh replied. “It’s only minor, so it’s likely that we’re dealing with something inanimate.”

Gwen grimaced.

“Not necessarily. Remember when John Hart arrived? That didn’t trigger much of an alert, either. I think I’ll play it safe and take someone with me. Where are Bobby and Alex? Won’t hurt to give them a bit more field experience, even if it does turn out to be nothing major.”

Tosh smiled in approval. There was the sensible, level-headed woman that Jack had hired, as opposed to the emotional, high-strung woman who had ruled over the last couple of days.

“Take the SUV. I’ll tell them to meet you in the garage.”

Tosh soon tracked down Torchwood’s newest recruits in the Archives. Bobby appeared to be in the process of filing something that Alex had taken down to him and, to her amusement, he was being extremely meticulous about where it went. A tiny smile graced Tosh’s lips. Ianto would be pleased to know that his previous archives were in very good hands.

She signalled their comms, pleased to note that they were both wearing the Bluetooth earpieces that they’d been issued on their first day.

“Bobby, Alex, meet Gwen up in the garage. We’ve got a minor rift alert.”

On the CCTV, Alex could clearly be seen rubbing her hands together in anticipation.

“Great, fresh air at last! I swear, I don’t know how Ianto can stand being down here. The air is so damned stale.”

Tosh didn’t answer that, because the truth was that she didn’t understand it anymore than Alex did – albeit, for significantly different reasons. Even so, Ianto seemed to find refuge down there, and she would never have begrudged him that.

“Toshiko? Are you there?”

Tosh started a little, embarrassed at being caught daydreaming.

“Sorry. I’m here, Bobby. What is it?”

“Where’s the alert centred?”

“Oh… Uh, the Cardiff Police Headquarters. Be careful, we don’t know what you’ll find when you get there.”

The look she saw them exchange told her that it wasn’t the first time they’d heard that warning.

“Is your relationship with the police really as bad as Jack’s led us to believe?” Bobby wondered as they joined Gwen in the garage. She smiled ruefully.

“Well, it’s not good. We tend to run roughshod over them a lot by necessity. Needless to say, we’re not too popular with them. Although, they’re still more than happy to call us in if something happens that they can’t deal with.”

“Sounds like my career with the NYPD,” Bobby said with a touch of bitterness in his voice. Gwen looked at him incredulously.

“According to your records, you were one of the best detectives in the NYPD!”

“I had a solid record for arrests and convictions,” Bobby conceded, “but my methods had most other cops calling me a whack job.”

Gwen’s expression hardened as Alex nodded in grim confirmation.

“Well, you’ll never be called that by us, I guarantee it.”

Bobby smiled softly in appreciation as they climbed into the SUV.

“I know.”

None of them had any idea what to expect when they arrived at their destination. As Tosh had said, it was only a small spike, and there was every likelihood that it was something similar to Eleya’s treasure box. Or so they’d hoped. In truth, though, none of them were entirely surprised to arrive at the Cardiff Police Headquarters to find the place looking like a bomb had just gone off.

Acrid bluish-purple smoke was still wafting out through doors and windows, and police of all ranks were in the street - some being tended to by paramedics.

“What the bloody hell…?” Gwen murmured, her hand automatically resting on the hilt of her gun. She led the way forward, scanning the crowd until she spotted a familiar face. “Andy!”

PC Andy Davidson turned at her shout, revealing an ugly laceration down the side of his face that was bleeding profusely. Gwen uttered a cry at the sight of him, and hurried over to him.

“Andy, what the hell happened here?”

He shook his head, and then winced at the pain induced by the movement.

“Not a bloody clue. All I know is that these… people just appeared… They appeared out of nowhere! Made all sorts of weird demands… Wanted to know where it was, and reckoned that they’d level the place if we didn’t hand it over.”

“It being…?” Alex asked, and Andy shrugged.

“No idea. It was chaos, utter bloody chaos. They ripped the place apart. I don’t think anyone was killed, which was a miracle in itself, but a few of our lads tried to stop them and ended up pretty badly hurt.”

“Is that what happened to you?” Bobby wondered. Andy pulled a face.

“Wish I could say it was, but no. Got hit by a bit of debris, that’s all.”

“The people who did this,” Gwen said, anxious to get him to focus. “How many were there?”

“I’m not sure,” Andy admitted. “I saw three for certain, but I think there were more. Look, Detective Swanson is over there. She confronted them , she’ll be able to tell you more.”

“All right, love,” Gwen murmured. “You go and get yourself looked after, all right?”

Once he’d headed off towards one of the ambulances, Gwen activated her comm. and spoke to Tosh.

“Tosh, it’s chaos here.”

“I know, Gwen. I’m looking at the CCTV footage. Any information yet on who or what is responsible?”

“Three confirmed assailants,” Bobby said when Gwen hesitated. “Possibly more. The constable we just spoke to said they appeared out of nowhere.”

“Sounds similar to John’s arrival,” Tosh said, sounding less than happy.

“Tosh, access the footage,” Gwen told her. “See if you can get a visual, so we have something to start with.”

Instructions given, Gwen led the way through the crowd of police to where Kathy Swanson was currently being seen to by paramedics. She looked fairly bruised and battered, but still relatively intact, judging by the glower she directed at them as they approached.

“Cooper, isn’t it?” she growled as Gwen walked over. “Where’s Harkness, then? He’d be in his element here.”

Admirably, Gwen didn’t flinch.

“He’s dealing with another situation. What happened here, Detective Swanson?”

She started up, only to be pushed back down by the paramedic who was treated a nasty looking burn on her arm.

“What happened here was that we were attacked, without provocation. Now, I can’t prove it yet, but I know it’s linked to your captain. When I manage to prove it, I will have his arse in a sling! Do you hear me, Cooper?”

Sidling past Gwen, Bobby crouched down beside the riled detective so that they were at eye level.

“My name is Bobby Goren, Detective Swanson. Please, listen to me. We’re not here to step on anyone’s toes, or to lay blame. We’re here to help sort this out, and find the ones responsible. I don’t doubt that your people are more than capable of dealing with the situation, but the truth is that there are aspects to this that are directly within our jurisdiction of responsibility. Will you help us to do our job?”

Slowly, Kathy’s expression softened fractionally at Bobby’s placating words and tone, and she looked past him to Gwen.

“Your captain could do with taking a course in diplomacy from this one, Cooper.” Then, to Bobby, “There were six of them all together. They were equipped with guns, explosives, and other weapons that I’ve never seen before.”

“The constable back there said they appeared out of nowhere,” Alex said, and she nodded.

“He’s right. They did. There was this flair of light in the middle of the room, and the next thing we knew, these six people walked out of the middle of it. Don’t ask me to try and explain it, because I can’t.”

“The six people,” Bobby pressed onwards, “what did they want?”

There, Kathy paused. She stared up at the three of them intently, as though trying to make up her mind about something. Gwen started to speak, but Alex’s hand on her arm silenced her. Eventually, Kathy’s attention was drawn exclusively to Bobby, and the two of them merely stared at each other for a long while before Kathy finally moved and reached inside her jacket.

“I think they wanted this.”

Bobby, Gwen and Alex all watched with carefully neutral expressions as she withdrew a brown leather wrist strap that was, for all appearances, identical to Jack’s.

“They called it a vortex manipulator,” she said, watching them all with a piercing stare as she handed the strap to Bobby. “Each one of them wore one of those things on their wrists and, unless I’m mistaken, your captain has one, too.”

None of them attempted to refute her. Instead, Bobby offered her a genuine smile.

“Thankyou. I promise I’ll let you know whatever I can, when I can.”

She looked grudgingly grateful.

“I suppose that’s the best I can expect, isn’t it? Well, I suppose I ought to be grateful you’re taking this one over. As much as I hate to admit it, we’re out of our league here.”

“We’re going to take a look around inside, if that’s all right,” Alex said as Bobby straightened up again. It wasn’t an order, but nor was it a request. Kathy nodded her assent, suddenly too exhausted to argue.

“All right. But please, try to keep us informed. Purely as a courtesy?”

They started to move away when she called out again.

“One thing you should know about that… manipulator, or whatever it is.”

“What is it, Detective?” Bobby asked. She looked back at them grimly.

“I found it at Pendefig Mall, after you’d taken the little girl away.”

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