A/N: Okay, I finally decided to take a plunge and post this story here

A/N: Okay, I finally decided to take a plunge and post this story here. Effectively, very dark ride. VERY dark. It's set post Last of the Time Lords, but doesn't particularly fit in with the stream of new season 2 episodes. The closest I can offer is that it is set after "Meat", but before "Reset". "Adam" pretty much doesn't factor into it, because none of the team remember those two days anyway. I don't know exactly where this story is going, exactly, so just sit down, buckle up and hang on...

Please keep in mind that as far as Jack's miraculous healing abilities are concerned, I am clinging ferociously to what was said at the end of Cyberwoman, that non-lethal wounds will not heal as fast.

Rating: Strong 'M', borderline NC-17. This story contains allusions to non-con sex, torture and ongoing mental and emotional trauma, not to mention considerable emotional angst for all characters concerned.

Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, its characters, or John Barrowman or Gareth David-Lloyd. More's the pity. I have no money, suing me would get you nowhere.

Detective Kathy Swanson approached the cordoned-off area grimly, mentally psyching herself to face what she had already been warned was a brutal crime scene. A slight shudder swept through her. She had been with CID Cardiff now for close to five years, and she still had yet to fully adjust to scenes like this one.
Pack assault, she'd been told on the way over. Suspected multiple offenders and one victim who was apparently very lucky to be alive. Nothing had been said, but Swanson strongly suspected the victim had suffered some degree of sexual assault, if not outright rape.

Now was not the time to speculate, though. She had a scene to investigate, and a victim to see.

The ambulance sat stationary as she walked over to it, and was a little surprised to find it empty. Turning, she spotted a uniform and walked across to him.

"Constable, where are the paramedics?"

"Still inside, Ma'am."

Sighing inwardly, she headed into the building to see just what was going on.

She was met inside by one of her own colleagues, a detective by the name of Crowe.

"Alan," she greeted him. "What's happening? I heard the paramedics are still in there."

"Yeah, they are. You aren't gonna believe this..."

She frowned at the incredulous tone of his voice.

"I'm not going to believe what? What are you talking about?"

"The victim, Kathy. It's..."

He was cut off by a sudden, strangled howl of pain from the next room, and he spoke grimly in explanation when she looked at him in horror.

"It's why they haven't taken him out of here yet. He wasn't just tied up. The sick fuckers wrapped his wrists and ankles with barbed wire. Even gagged him with it, too. He's a real mess, worse than anything I've ever seen. They're still trying to get the stuff off him. I'm telling you, Kathy, I don't care how much Cardiff Police hate him. No one deserves to have done what's been done to him. No one."

Swanson felt a chill settle in her gut. Crowe was speaking collectively about the Cardiff Police, and there was only one man in Cardiff who was collectively hated by the Cardiff Constabulary. Striding past him, she pushed into the room, and found herself confronted with an horrendous sight.

There was blood spattered everywhere in the room, covering both the walls and the floor. Her attention was quickly drawn to the naked figure on the bed. As Crowe had said, his wrists and ankles were bound not with rope, but with barbed wire that was secured to each end of the bed.

That, however, was only the start of the abuse he'd suffered.

The man's body was covered from head to toe in cuts, bruises and other such injuries. He was virtually one great open wound, and Swanson couldn't help but wonder that he was still alive at all.

Someone came up beside her, and she looked around to see yet another colleague standing there. It was Derek Lloyd, a smug son of a bitch that neither she nor anyone else in CID had any liking for. Even now, she could detect a hint of a smirk on his face, and she braced herself for some innately inappropriate remark. He didn't disappoint her.

"What's that saying, Kathy? The bigger they are, the harder they fall. And here's one big son of a bitch that's fallen pretty damn hard, don't you think?"

She rounded on him angrily, infuriated by his callousness, and the pleasure she could hear in his voice.

"You think this is funny, Lloyd? You think it's funny to see a fellow human in this state, being treated like this?"

"Well, no, but..."

"But nothing, you sorry sack of shit. Get the hell out of here, right now. Go!"

He went, visibly angry. Swanson watched him go before turning back to the victim on the dirty mattress; to the infamous Captain Jack Harkness.

The first time she had laid eyes on Jack Harkness, he had audaciously asked her if she'd prefer him naked. Now, he was naked and it was no joking matter for either one of them. She edged closer, looking over his naked form with a discomfort that she hadn't experienced since her early days as a police constable.

Nothing had been left to the imagination. He lay on his back, completely exposed to the prying eyes of all and sundry. His arms were stretched painfully over his head and his legs pulled cruelly towards the bottom corners of the bed. As Crowe had said, it was not rope that held him down, but barbed wire that tore horribly into his flesh.

Even worse, as Crowe had warned her, the torturous metal had been used as a gag, jammed into his mouth with the barbs puncturing his cheeks and tearing his lips and tongue to bloody shreds. In a twisted way, it was a far more effective gag than any kind of soft material, for Jack could not move his mouth without the barbs ripping into his flesh even worse than they already had.

It was, she decided with a sickening wave of nausea, the cruellest thing she'd ever seen.

Slowly, she became aware of Jack's eyes on her. She stared at him, and fancied she could almost hear him begging her to give him a little bit of dignity. In the end, she could honestly say it was the very real agony that she could see in his eyes that drove her to act.

"All right," she snapped loudly. "I want everyone out of here who isn't essential personnel. Rescue workers and EMTs only. Move it, people!"

They filed out with some reluctance, until only the paramedics and Detective Swanson were left. Then, and only then, did she go to the bedside, crouching down beside the stricken man. He couldn't turn his head to look at her, but his eyes followed her as she crouched there.

"How in the name of all things sacred did you manage to get yourself into a situation like this?" she asked softly, knowing full well that he was incapable of answering.

His eyes strained to keep her in sight — the only part of his body that he seemed to be able to move without pain. As she watched, a single tear formed in the corner of his eye, and rolled unchecked down the side of his face. Detective Swanson felt a clutch of empathy, and reached across to brush her fingertips soothingly across his temple.

"We're going to get you out of here, Jack, I promise you. Just bear with us, okay, sweetheart?"

Even through the sheer agony he was in, she didn't miss the amusement that flashed all too briefly in his eyes at the term of endearment. She couldn't help it, though. Right then, she didn't see him as the arrogant and secretive captain of Torchwood, but rather as the victim of a cruel and vicious assault.

She looked across at the paramedics, her mind filled with concern for Jack's wellbeing.

"We need to get him out of here."

"We know, Detective," one of them answered. "Problem is that the wire has been wrapped so tight, it's going to have to be surgically removed, and the way it's fixed to the bed doesn't make it easy for us to just cut it. It's pulled so tight, that it could snap back and hit one of us… or him. Then, on top of that, it's gonna hurt him like hell, and we can't give him anything for the pain in case it sends him into shock."

She looked back to Jack, into his pain-filled eyes. Reaching across, she oh so gently touched his bloodied fingers with hers, taking care not to use any greater pressure for fear of hurting him. He seemed incapable of even the simple task of flexing his fingers, and she wondered suddenly what sort of nerve damage the barbed wire might have done.

"Listen to me, Jack," she told him softly. "They're going to cut you free as carefully as they can, but it's really going to hurt, so you need to try and brace yourself, okay?"

Another tear escaped his bruised eye, and he managed a single blink. She looked up at the paramedics, one of whom was holding the metal cutters, ready to do the deed. She transferred her hand to the top of his head, ensuring that he was still able to feel her presence through the painful procedure.

"He's ready. Do it."

Later on, she would admit that Jack's strangled screams of pain were some of the worst she'd ever heard, and it had left her badly shaken. She didn't give in to her desire to flee, though, and stayed right there beside him, keeping that connection through her hand resting gently on his head.

Mercifully, Jack lost consciousness, either from shock or pain, just as they were starting to cut loose the wire that was binding his right ankle. From there, they moved quickly to cut the rest of the wire, and then Jack was lifted with care onto a waiting gurney, and rushed out to the waiting ambulance.

"Has anyone tried to contact Torchwood?" she asked Crowe as the forensics team moved back in to start their examination. Crowe answered with a quick nod. He was looking a little green around the gills, she thought, and she didn't blame him one bit. She wasn't feeling particularly settled in the stomach herself.

"Yeah, we tried," Crowe said. "Harkness must've given his people the holiday off. All our calls were diverted to his mobile phone."

Swanson sighed.

"And we have no other way to find them. I don't even know the names of his people. Just that one woman whose car we were tracking for him... Cooper, I think it was."

Crowe snorted.

"And it's not as if that's a common name," he retorted.

"I know, I know. Can't even check our records. Torchwood wiped them on us after that other business. There's no one at all that we can call for him."

"Are you going to go to the hospital, then?" Crowe wondered.

Swanson nodded.

"Yes. Hopefully I'll be able to talk to him, and start making sense of this nightmare."

Crowe snorted.

"The man was gagged with barbed wire, Kathy. How much talking do you think he's going to do?"

She shook her head.

"I don't know. I have to try, though. And besides, he doesn't have anyone else to be there for him."

A wry smile touched Crowe's lips.

"You're a softie, you know that?"

She had no chance to respond to that in the way she would have liked, as another voice called out to her.

"Detective Swanson!"

She looked around as a uniform approached.

"What is it, then?" she asked, with just a hint of impatience.

"On the other side of the building, Detective. We found the Torchwood SUV."

The SUV had been locked away in a garage on the other side of the run-down building. The driver's side window was cracked with blood visible on the glass, suggesting that someone had perhaps had their face slammed into it.

"Harkness' face was pretty badly cut up," Crowe mused as they examined the vehicle. "I'll bet when forensics check, they'll find this is his blood."

Swanson didn't respond immediately. Her focus was on other evidence that was in the back of the car.

"Looks like he might have been ambushed elsewhere, and brought here. They may have stripped him here... Those must be his clothes. I recognise that coat of his."

"Blood stains," Crowe mused, leaning in for a look of his own. Swanson frowned, spotting something in amongst the pile of apparently ruined clothes.

"Alan, could you go and try those numbers for Torchwood again?"

"Uh... Sure."

He gave her an odd look, but headed out nonetheless to do as she asked. Once he was gone, she leaned into the vehicle and carefully plucked Jack's brown leather wrist strap out of the pile. As much as she knew she shouldn't mess with evidence, something told her that this was one item that couldn't be allowed to fall into anyone else's hands. slipping it into her coat pocket, she took one last look around before hurrying back out into the gloomy Cardiff day.

It took her another hour to make it to the hospital, only to be told on arrival that Jack was currently in surgery to have the barbed wire removed, and to fix his right arm which was apparently very badly broken. She recalled having a passing thought that his arm had appeared to be bent unnaturally, but other concerns had overridden that at the time. The nurse at the administration desk told her kindly that it would be another half hour or more before the surgeon was finished, and if she liked she could wait in a private room.

In the end, she chose to remain in the public waiting area, if only so that she could watch other people coming and going, and not feel completely cut off from reality. She seated herself in a corner of the waiting room, and fell to reflecting on her colleagues' attitudes towards Jack.

Crowe, despite being vocal in his personal loathing of Torchwood in general and Jack Harkness in particular, had still been horrified by the crime committed against the Torchwood leader. As he'd said, no one deserved to go through what Jack had experienced. She, for one, didn't even want to try and imagine the agony he must have been in.

A small, bitter smile crossed her lips fleetingly. What she had witnessed that morning had instilled in her a new sense of respect for the Captain. She imagined it would have been all too easy for him to simply give in to the shock of what had been done to him, and die. She had, after all, seen others die of lesser injuries — killed by the shock and pain of their injuries, rather than the injuries themselves. The fact that Jack not only fought those effects, but stayed conscious right to the last, was definitely worth extra points in her opinion.

It was a pity, she mused, that not all of her colleagues were willing to afford the same respect. Lloyd, she reflected with some anger, had been nauseatingly smug. That son of a bitch had actually taken pleasure in seeing Jack not only hurt, but also humiliated by the exposed and compromising position he'd been left in by his attackers. No doubt the bastard would be talking it up with his mates even now. She could only hope that most of them would ignore him.

It was a slim hope.

Swanson shook her head, trying to erase from her mind the image of Jack that was burned into it — Jack naked, beaten and tortured, humiliated and suffering pain beyond what she suspected most people were capable of tolerating. Their past encounters were a non-issue now. She wouldn't wish what had happened to him on anyone.

She glanced up, watching tiredly as a group of a dozen or so people suddenly piled through the doors into the waiting room, guiding a young woman who was obviously in labour. For a brief moment she allowed herself to be distracted by the sight of the woman and her excited family, and a sad smile touched her face.

It must be nice, she thought wistfully, to be involved in new life like that, unlike the constant death she was always confronted by. Her one consolation was that Jack was apparently in no danger of dying. Although, she couldn't help but wonder whether he might later wish he had died, once he had to fully face what had been done to him.

She watched as the mother-to-be was taken off in a wheelchair, along with a man whom she supposed was the father. The rest of the family collapsed into chairs nearby, chattering quietly but excitedly.

"Excuse me, Detective Swanson?"

She looked around to find a doctor standing there. He offered a kindly, if somewhat tired smile.

"I was told you were waiting on news about Jack Harkness."

Nearby, one of the group who had come in with the pregnant woman looked around sharply at the mention of that name. Oblivious to the sudden, extra attention, Swanson nodded and rose up to meet him.

"Yes. Is he out of surgery?"

"About fifteen minutes ago, yes. He's just being moved to a private room now."

"How is he doing? Will he be all right?"

The doctor hesitated for just a fraction of a second before speaking soberly.

"Perhaps you should come with me, Detective. We'll talk somewhere a little more private."

Swanson nodded and, trying to quash her growing unease, she followed him from the waiting room.