Holiday - Chapter One
Author: evilhobittess (aka thecrystalkey)
Disclaimer: Do not own anything except the words below in the order they appear.
Rating: Um. PG-13 (for now)
Characters: (Jack, Martha, Torchwood 3)
Warnings: End of S3 DW and S1 Torchwood
Summary: Sequel to Correspondence. As requested, Martha at Torchwood. As I now have a vague idea where this is going and I'd hit page 8 , I decided to post. Thanks to all y'all over at LJ for pointing out the missing words.
The bell above the shop door jangled and Ianto Jones poked his head through the beaded curtain partitioning his desk from the main shop. The front for Torchwood was a little Tourist Information Centre kiosk on Roald Dahl Plass (sometimes known as Millennium Square) in Cardiff Bay. Most who came in were tourists looking for postcards, brochures, maps, or directions. They had a deliberately poor selection of the former two, and plenty of maps. Ianto, partially to make sure visitors stayed gone and partially out of personal pride, gave excellent directions.
The woman who'd just entered had dark skin and a self-confident demeanor that belied her apparent age. Her black hair was tied tightly back with only a few well-tamed tendrils framing her face. She was wearing jeans and a blue top, paired with a red leather jacket and matching high-heeled boots. Her eyes were clear and intelligent and she moved with purpose, wasting no time with the dusty racks of tourism paraphernalia. She met Ianto's eyes and smiled in a friendly way.
"Hi. You must be Ianto. I'm Martha Jones, I'm here to meet with Jack."
Despite the adrenaline rush of fear her greeting had sparked in him (people who knew details like generally turned out to be evil aliens, in his experience) Ianto maintained a politely curious expression.
"I'm sorry, miss. Jack who?"
She smiled, like he'd made a joke. "Harkness. Captain Jack Harkness. He's expecting me. I'm a little late, I know, but his directions were terrible."
Ianto lips twitched almost into a smile, in spite of himself. That certainly sounded like Jack. He couldn't let her through just on the strength of that, though.
"One moment, miss," Ianto said. "I'll see what I can do."
He retreated to his desk and engaged the cone of silence, even though she didn't seem inclined to eavesdrop. Ianto spoke briefly with his boss, who had been expecting her, though he hadn't told Ianto. Jack said that he'd intended to meet her himself but had gotten caught up in an urgent call from Glasgow and lost track of time. Ianto was to send her straight down, same as Gwen's first night.
Ianto came out and smiled at her, pressing the latch release on the door concealed in the far wall. She looked over as the door swung free then back at Ianto, as though for permission. Or possibly because she thought a secret door was clichéd. The look on her face was difficult to decipher.
"Through there," he encouraged her, smiling blandly. "He said to come right down."
Most people were intimidated by the secret wall and the stark grey of the passage beyond. This one rolled her eyes and muttered, "of course he did" before proceeding into the corridor without hesitation. Watching the rest of her trip down into the hub on the surveillance monitors, she actually seemed to be mostly amused; a stark contrast to Gwen's confused fear. Then again, if she knew Jack as well she seemed to, she might be to be used to the bizarre.
Still, couldn't hurt to Google her. Maybe ask Gwen to run a background check.
Martha stepped out of the elevator and made her way down the corridor, judging herself to be about at sewer level and hoping that the Torchwood HQ would at least be cleaner and better lit than other sewer-based secret headquarters she'd visited. Hoping for less damp seemed overly optimistic.
Force of habit had her pausing at the entrance to the main area to assess the place. The concrete walls were at least a foot thick and the entrance could be sealed, she noted, with a rolling door of reinforced steel at least that thick. To the left were a couple of computer workstations, both occupied by dark-haired women with their backs to her. Presumably they were Gwen and Tosh but neither woman looked around as Martha entered so she couldn't even start to tell one from the other.
To the right of the entrance were stairs up to a mezzanine level but the balcony railings obscured any view of what the glass-fronted rooms might be. Offices or labs more than likely, Martha concluded.
She didn't see Jack anywhere and proceeded further into the room, allowing her eyes to be drawn up and up and up along the column of the fountain whose top section extended into the square above. Head cranked back, she caught sight of something with wings that was much too big to be a bird or a bat swooping in lazy circles near the roof. Squinting, she concluded that it was actually a pterodactyl, or an alien that closely resembled the common perception of them.
He didn't make a noise but she felt him walk up behind her.
"You have a pterodactyl in your attic," she commented, without looking around.
"Myfanwy." He sounded amused. "It tries to eat people if we don't feed it but at least it doesn't bang the pipes or howl."
She was grinning as she turned to face him. "Shoulda known you'd be a Harry Potter geek as well."
He winked at her but, before she could say anything else his face became solemn and he drew himself to attention as he snapped into a textbook salute. "Doctor Jones. Ma'am."
He continued to hold the salute until, after a brief moment of amused disbelief, she returned it. She couldn't quite make her expression solemn, but her grin was tuned down to a fond smile. "Captain Harkness."
There was a moment's pause as a slow smile spread across his face, then he swept her into a tight hug with a gruff, "C'mere, you."
She surprised herself by wrapping her arms around him at least as tightly as his were wrapped around her. It had been six months since she'd been properly hugged and it felt so good, that feeling of safety and home, that she buried her face in his shoulder and simply enjoyed the moment. He, in turn, rested his chin on her hair, eyes closed, doing the same.
Then Jack moved to place his face next to her neck and planted a playful kiss at the pulse point while breathing in her scent. "You smell nice," he murmured next to her ear. "New perfume?"
She laughed, pulling back. "More like, lack of B.O. I musta been ripe after months of no showers. You smell pretty good yourself, relative. Is it entirely professional to be kissing the new hire, Captain?" she teased.
He grinned, stepping back to get a better look at her. "You don't work for me yet," he pointed out. "And anyway, I was just saying hello."
"I don't know what's sadder," she said wryly. "A grown man trying on that line, or the fact that I believe it because it's you."
Jack barked out a surprised laugh. "God, I've missed having a Jones woman around. How is the family?"
"Fine, more or less. Better than they were, anyway. I'll give you all the details later, if you want. Right now, I believe you promised me a tour, Captain."
"Actually, I promised to seduce you into taking a job here," he corrected with a wicked grin.
"Give you a hint how to start the seduction," she flirted back.
"Take you on a tour of this place?"
"Mm-hm. And I want to meet the rest of this team of yours."
"That you won't be able to avoid," he murmured. He put a hand on her lower back, ushering her forward around the column of the fountain and towards the same place he usually started the tour.
"You have a dungeon," Martha said, disbelief evident in her tone. "With cells straight out of Silence of the Lambs."
"The glass is made to order," he said, patting it gently. "Stronger than steel. More secure, too, because there's no gaps so you can get safely within arm's reach of the cell. Someday, every holding room or jail cell humans make is gonna be fronted with this stuff."
"Know that from experience, do you?" she teased.
He shrugged unrepentantly.
Martha shook her head, looking around at the grey stone walls again. "It's creepy is what it is," she muttered absently, her attention mostly caught by the alien in the only occupied cell. "What are you then?" she asked it softly.
"I call her Janet. They can't talk, we don't think. At least they haven't to any of us. They do seem to have some kind of telepathic or telempathic link to each other, though. We call them weevils," he added when Martha looked over at him briefly. "They live in the sewers, scavenging mostly, or hunting rats. Sometimes one of them will get tired of that, or go crazy or something, and decide to hunt bigger game up on the surface. That's when we step in, take them into custody."
"How exactly are they different from us?" Martha asked, stepping closer to the cell and putting a hand to the glass. "I mean, aside from the skin ridges and the being slightly psychic."
Jack reigned in the urge to pull her back to safety as the weevil bared its teeth and hissed in irritation at being disturbed. Even if it became violent, Martha wasn't in any danger as long as the door stayed closed and could handle herself if she was.
"Their teeth, for one thing," Jack pointed out the obvious. "Anything more specific than that, you'll have to ask Owen."
"Must be purely carnivorous," she commented. "Like the Futurekind."
They both stilled at the thought, visions of the Toclafane invasion running through their heads. It wasn't a comparison that had occurred to Jack, though he now realized it should have because it was so obvious.
"You don't think--?" Martha asked. The question didn't need to be finished aloud, she could see in Jack's eyes that his thoughts were running parallel to hers.
"I don't know," he answered, unnerved. "They do come through the Rift…But there's a reason the Master needed a Paradox Machine."
"Can't cross your own timeline," Martha agreed. "Except for cheap tricks."
Jack laughed, surprised at the addendum. "Don't need to ask where you got that little gem. C'mon, there's more to see around here than holding cells."
As they were walking Martha couldn't help following through on her previous chain of thought. "But, the reason Saxon needed the Paradox Machine wasn't so the spheres could co-exist with us or they wouldn't have been able to appear even in small numbers before it was turned on."
"Right," Jack agreed. "It was so they could kill us."
"It was so they could kill us by the millions, indiscriminately, without erasing themselves," she corrected. "This far back in their own history, anything except the wholesale slaughter of their ancestors wouldn't be more than a –"
"—cheap trick," Jack finished grimly along with her. "The weevils are only coming through one or two at a time, like the Toclafane did at first."
"They're not Toclafane," she snapped unexpectedly.
He raised an eyebrow at her, not offended since he had an idea where that had come from. His suspicion was confirmed a moment later.
"Sorry," she sighed. "I know you know that but…it's just, it was something I always corrected people on, back then. It's an effort not to, these days. I've been trying."
"I know. It's hard." He reached out to put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I noticed you still call him Saxon, though. That's the one I have trouble with."
She smiled at him, but it didn't quite reach her eyes. "Mum, Dad, and Tish are the same. They just don't talk about it anymore, except to each other."
"And to you," Jack said.
"It's not the same," she denied, "when they talk to each other than when they talk to me. Because I remember, like they do, but not the same things. I wasn't there. They talk to me about the things they won't even mention to each other. But the stuff they share, they don't share with me." She blew out her breath in frustration. "Sometimes I feel more like a psychiatrist than a medical doctor lately."
"No wonder you needed a break," Jack said. "And I did promise to distract you, didn't I? Any ideas where to start to looking into that weevil thing?"
"Well, don't suppose that gadget of yours works as a timey-wimey detector?" she asked, nodding at his wrist. "Don't you have a team for this?"
"I'm trying to distract you here," he teased. "Besides, they don't know the details. They have enough trouble dealing with the concept of aliens on Earth, I'm afraid time-traveling aliens and paradox machines might break them."
"Didn't break me," she pointed out.
"You, Martha Jones, are special," he said, taking her hand and kissing the back of it.
She smiled, and this time it did reach her eyes. Jack was pleased that he'd managed it and decided to manage it as much as possible in the next week.
"Now, explain to me exactly what you meant by timey-wimey detector?" he asked, tucking her hand into the crook of his arm as he led her on down the hall.
Owen Harper looked up from browsing the local coroner's files. He could hear voices and laughter in the corridor outside of Autopsy. Neither of those was very common around here these days. They'd betrayed Jack and their mistake would have cost everyone's lives if Jack hadn't been able to live through anything. Worse, he'd forgiven them for it before running off to die.
And he had died. Owen was familiar with death, none better, and Jack had been as dead as it got. Until he hadn't been. Things had been uncomfortable around the Hub ever since. While Jack had been visibly more relaxed and open, relatively, that ease hadn't yet filtered through to the others. They all managed to work together somehow but they never actually socialized anymore.
So it got Owen's attention to hear the sounds of happiness about the place. Jack was laughing as he ushered a young woman into the room. She was gorgeous, but that was no surprise. She was laughing with him but didn't look even a little bit starry-eyed, since she was in her mid-twenties at best it made Owen wonder.
"When was this?" Jack asked her.
"1969," she answered, her accent giving her away as a Londoner.
"Let me guess, moon landing?" Jack said.
"Brilliant, isn't it?" Her eyes sparkled with the memory. She couldn't possibly be talking about the actual moon landing. "We went four times. Though, that, wasn't actually one of them. We were stuck. Weeping Angels."
"No kidding," Jack sounded impressed. Jack almost never sounded impressed, and absolutely never with a 25-year-old London girl. "I thought they were a myth. I have got to debrief you properly sometime."
"Debrief, hmm?" she said flirtatiously.
He winker at her. She didn't have a chance to respond as they reached Owen's desk and Jack continued, "Owen Harper, Martha Jones. Owen's a doctor, too. Pathologist."
"You're a doctor?" Owen asked. "What specialty?"
"I haven't officially graduated yet," she demurred. "I'm still trying to decide. Due to start rotation in two weeks. Though it looks like it'll be emergency medicine or xenobiological medicine at this point."
"Xenobiology's aliens, right?" Jack asked.
"Xenobiological entities," she corrected him. "'S what UNIT calls 'em, anyway."
"Poncy gits," Owen muttered, narrowing his eyes at her. "You work for them?"
"No," Martha answered with an eyeroll. "Dunno about poncy but they're right useless in an emergency. Mum works for them, though. Sort of. Either way, dunno about taking a job with them."
"But they offered?" he asked.
"Well, after what happened," she said, shrugging.
"They weren't exactly going to let someone with Martha's experience go without even trying," Jack said, giving the young woman a warm smile.
"You got any other job offers?" Owen asked. He was fishing but Jack didn't show people around the place very often. The last person he'd shown around had been Gwen, the new hire. But Jack didn't hire new people, only replacements. If she was a doctor, then it was Owen's job in jeopardy.
He'd been fired before, didn't want to go through that again; never wanted to be faced with the possibility of years of his life being retconned again. It had been a frightening thought and he'd been doing his best to behave since Jack had returned from London.
"Well, one other," she answered, smiling up at Jack. "But I haven't decided if I'll take it yet. This is just a post-exams holiday."
"For now," Jack murmured. "Let me finish showing you around before you make any decisions."
Owen watched the two all the way out the door. Only the security camera in the corner saw his lips peel back in a feral snarl after they'd gone. The sub-audible hissing that accompanied it was only heard by one other in the Hub.
End Chapter One
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