Chapter 5: The Hub
The grinning face of Captain Jack Harkness and his gorgeous, twinkling eyes, greeted Rose. She didn't wait for invitation, or response, flinging her arms around Jack's neck, hugging him as tight as she could. Who cared if he wasn't Jack from her world, he was still, undeniably, Jack.
"I told you, that's what everyone does when they meet him," Suzie called over to Owen.
"Well isn't he just the lucky bastard," Owen muttered derisively.
"Pleased to see me?" Jack laughed, hugging her back.
"Oh my god Jack, it is you?" Rose pulled away quickly, holding his shoulders and squaring him up. "Please — before I go mad - tell me you're my Jack, from-"
"Sir Hank?" She raised an eyebrow.
Jack shrugged, grinning back, his teeth sparkling. "Good a name as any."
"Did he send you?" The lump in her throat was rising, and she cleared her throat again. "Did he...is he ok?"
The fire in Jack's eyes dimmed somewhat. "He didn't send me, Rose. I came by myself."
She shook herself. "Right," she laughed a little, out of nervousness. There had to be more to it than that. This was Jack, though, he wasn't exactly going to tell her everything here and now. She'd get it out of him. "So," she smiled coyly, tilting her head a little, "how did you get here, then?"
Her inner child was revelling. This was fantas...wonderful! She never thought she'd see him again!
"You'd never believe me," Jack renewed his sideways grin, crossing his arms. "Let's just say I floated down-stream with the rest of the trash."
"You are not, Jack," Rose hugged him again — she couldn't stop herself - laughing, closing her eyes and — nope, she couldn't help it — breathing in his smell. "You're the treasure amongs' the trash, you are."
Rose remembered that she was supposed to be working, noticing Suzie watching their reunion with question marks behind her eyes. She let go of Jack reluctantly.
"We can catch up after work — after you," she poked him in the shoulder - "tell me how our gamma team dug up a bunch of void ships under your nose?"
Rose could hear Owen's curse from across the room.
"Language!" Jack called back.
"The rift's been focussing," Suzie called out, "for longer periods of time. Longer than before, at least. That's how."
Rose held her breath. Had Jack rode the rift here, somehow? The cogs in her brain were turning — but she made herself listen, for once in her life, rather than jump to impossible, shattering conclusions.
Rose locked eyes with Suzie. "I didn' think your rift worked tha' way--"
"Tosh'll show you," Suzie pointed to Toshiko, to their far right. Rose could see the blue swirls and black and white code of Tosh's rift monitoring program from across the room. She didn't need to be told twice, moving towards the hum and glow. Jack followed. Toshiko shrugged as she pulled a second chair towards her desk.
"Nice to see you too," Toshiko remained smile-less as Rose sat down, all business as usual. Rose tried a small smile in reply.
"Here we are then, south Wales," Toshiko moved her mouse around at a speed that even Mickey would have found difficult to match, "and your vein-like formation of white lines indicate strong points."
"You are jokin'," Rose couldn't take her eyes off the map. There was Swansea, on the left of the map, sporting a number of bright white gashes, like a monster had raked it's claws through it.
"We don't joke," Tosh replied. "Not about the rift."
Rose had to keep herself from rolling her eyes. "Sorry. So, what was with the sphere's gamma dug up there?"
"Junk," Jack was close behind Rose, making her startle slightly.
"Sorry," Jack put a hand on Rose's shoulder, then moved it, pointing to the monitor again. "We found seven of the spheres near Abergavenny on Tuesday, and ninety in Cardiff city alone. They're dead. Space junk. Like me," he grinned.
Rose looked back to Jack, screwing up her eyes. "Why didn't you tell us about this? London, I mean."
Jack shrugged. "It's junk. We took care of it. What was Torchwood One doing in Swansea?" he crossed his arms, leaning against Toshiko's desk.
Toshiko waited a moment for Rose to continue. When she didn't; "So, why are you here?"
"Punishment. I dunno," Rose looked back at Jack and did a double take as she noticed his wrist band. He'd always worn that, and she'd always wondered at it. She remembered on Satellite 5, he'd programmed Robbie Williams into it when-
"Holy crap, Jack," Rose was still looking at the wrist band. "How did you get here?"
Jack looked confused, "I've already answered this-"
"No, no listen to me. You're dead. I mean-I know he said you were fixin' the world or somethin', but I thought it was jus' to shut me up at the time, and I remember, you died-" she babbled, trying to connect the dots.
"I'm not dead," Jack cut her off.
"But, you were dead," Rose stood, looking pleadingly into Jack's eyes. "Then..."
Rose thought back desperately. Everything about those last minutes on Satellite Five were hazy. Always had been.
"I lived," Jack placed his hands on her shoulders.
Rose shook the hazy memories from her mind, realising that she'd shook a couple of warm tears onto her cheek in the process.
"Oh my..." Rose tried to back away, but Jack held her shoulders, looking into her eyes, forcing her mind back with his stare.
"...how did you get here, Jack?" Rose gasped.
Jack pursed his lips. "Okay. I can tell this is a bit of a shock. Perhaps I shouldn't have just shown up-"
"No, please," Rose forced herself to focus. She needed answers, not emotions. Toshiko moved in the corner of her vision.
Rose looked to Tosh quickly. She always had answers.
"Tosh, how did he get here? Please? I need to...I need," Rose cleared her throat, desperately trying to think. "Did you lot find him?"
"Rose," Jack said softly, before Toshiko could react. Rose turned back slowly.
"Rose, you can't go back. Not ever."
Rose closed her eyes again, looked down. "He said that to me. He said, that I couldn't go through. That he couldn't come through."
"But you can? That isn't fair." Rose raised her eyes again. "Tell me how you got here, Jack."
Jack lifted his eyes to the other Torchwood Three members. Rose barely noticed their embarrassed movement as they broke their focus on the pair.
"Oh my god," Rose stepped forward quickly into Jack's office, picking up an object on his desk.
Jack crossed his arms and leaned against the door frame. "It's my TARDIS key."
Rose let the tardis key fall from her fingers, as her eyes sweep over the other bits and pieces on the desk. Pieces of Jack's past, some from her history. Look, there was a gas mask…had to have been from the 40's…
Balefully aware the glass walls and cameras weren't hiding anything from the rest of the team Rose looked, begging, to Jack.
"Please tell me how you got through," she sat by the desk. "This…all this stuff you have here from our world. You planned this."
Rose turned back to the desk. "How are things? At home?"
Jack shrugged. "Busy. Same as here, by the looks."
Rose nodded idly, picking up the TARDIS key from Jack's desk again, turning it over in her hands a couple of times. Silent.
Jack moved and sat at his desk, looking at Rose for a reaction.
"We're not going to get any work done, are we?"
"What?" Rose snapped to attention.
"You," Jack sat back a little.
Rose piped up a little too quickly, shaking her fringe out of her eyes. "No, it's just odd, that's all, first the void ships, now you," she smiled. "I'm fine," lying.
"So, we can get on with it?"
"Get on with what?"
"This," Jack passed a sheaf of documents to Rose.
Rose sat a bit straighter to read it.
"What's this then?"
"A transfer," Jack kept his eyes on Rose. "It was sent through this morning."
Rose skimmed the document, put it back on his desk, her heart sinking a little. It really was a demotion, of a sorts. All her stuff — her family — were in London. How could Jon do this to her?
Her eyes glance to the top of the document again — wait a second, it was from Jack. To Jon.
"You asked for this?" she looked up quickly.
Jack shrugged. "I've worked with you before."
"Yeah, but that was a bit different-"
"How?" Jack's eyes gleamed.
Rose glared up at him. "Because we had the Doctor with us then."
"And now, he's gone," Jack fired quickly. "And I'm here, giving you an opportunity to study the Cardiff rift, and work with an old friend. Is that so bad?"
Rose considered a moment. There really was no choice, not really, Torchwood didn't work like that. Once you signed on, they owned you, and you went where they wanted you to go.
Then a spark in her mind; reminding her that she was sitting next to Captain Jack Harkness, whom she'd thought she'd never see again. Jack knew how to get through to this world; Jack would know how to get back home. All she had to do was watch, and listen, and learn. Maybe that's why he wanted her; to help her get home, where she belonged.
But...if Jack had found a way through, why hadn't the Doctor?
Throwing her doubts and cautions to the wind, "Goodbye London,"she signed the transfer.
Jack grinned. "See, was that so painful?"
Rose shook her head, not trusting her voice.
"Great," he nodded, glancing at the papers. "Let's go," he started for the door.
Rose didn't move from her seat. "Um, Jack? One question?" she had to know.
Jack leaned back through the door from the outter office. "I can't guarantee I'll be able to answer you."
"Please, it's important," she bit her bottom lip. "Did you see him? Did...was he looking for me? Or has he...moved on? Forgotten..." she couldn't finish, and let the words fade.
Jack's eyes were fierce, his lips a straight line.
Rose made herself match his gaze, wondering at the lack of joy in this Jack's life. The old Jack — well, the younger Jack — had seemed so much more...fancy-free?
"Yes," his eyes were bright, and still so very fierce. "And, I don't know," he answered finally.Turned from the room.
Rose followed, a lump in her throat, feeling a little jaded, a little frustrated, and quite a bit excited. She'd find out how he did it. Jack was the key.
It'd just take some time to get answers out of him.