The sun poured down out of a clear, liquid blue sky, and you might almost think it was high summer on such a beautiful day.
Until, that is, the blistering cold wind blew off of Cardiff Bay and across the Millennium Centre plaza. Until it caught at the tails of your coat and seeped through every tiny gap in the woolen fabric. Until it stiffened the exposed skin of your face and made it the bright red of a sunburn.
Olivia Raines stood near the Water Tower, oblivious to the comings and goings around her on Roald Dahl Plass. She was staring out over the water of the bay, but her eyes held the blank expression of someone whose thoughts are turned completely inward. When a large man in a fur-collared coat bumped into her she never even noticed, nor did she acknowledge the other's apology.
She wasn't even aware of the man that stood just twenty yards away, watching her. Jack Harkness had spent a great deal of his time over the last couple of months watching Olivia Raines. She had landed on Torchwood's doorstep almost four months ago with a vortex manipulator strapped to her arm and very little memory beyond her name and the fact that she was on planet Earth.
It hadn't taken very long for the Torchwood team to add one more fact to the short list on Olivia: she wasn't human.
That simple fact didn't bother Jack as much as it did the others. What bothered him far more was the fact that they hadn't yet been able to determine what, exactly, she was. Torchwood had the largest compiled database on alien life forms, after all. If they couldn't figure it out. . .
A chirping sound came from his pocket and he quickly pulled the mobile out. The text of a message started to scroll across the screen.
RIFT SHOWING SIGNS OF INCREASED ACTIVITY
UNIT ASKING QUESTIONS
DOCTOR JONES COMING FOR VISIT
Jack grinned at the message. The rift getting more active and a chance to see Martha? Two of his favourite things! He pressed the automatic "Acknowledge" button on the mobile and slipped it back in the pocket of his coat.
"It must be good news."
Jack started and glanced up. Olivia was still standing about twenty yards away with her back to him, yet there was no doubt that she was the person who had spoken. He took a few steps closer to her.
"You knew I was standing there?" he asked.
"I always know when you're near, Jack. Call it time agent instinct."
"And the 'good news' part?"
Olivia finally turned around and faced him. "Your mood shifted," she replied with a shrug. "Before you were dark and thoughtful, now you're light and happy."
"Is that more instinct?" Jack asked, somewhat unnerved at her accurate insights.
She grinned. "Maybe. Call it a sort of human instinct." She started walking towards him. "You being the human, of course."
"Obviously." Jack offered her an arm and she slipped hers through, threading her fingers in his. "Your hand is like ice," he said. "You must have been freezing out here."
Literally. One of the first (and biggest) clues to Olivia's non-human status was the fact that her normal body temperature was over one hundred degrees Fahrenheit. In an ordinary situation being near her was like standing beside an open oven; warmth radiated from her skin constantly. At that moment, though, she felt like a block of ice. Jack put his arm around her as she shivered.
"Come on," he said. "That's enough fresh air for today." They started walking towards the regular entrance to the Torchwood Hub.
"So, what's on the agenda for today?" she asked. "New and interesting aliens to study and catalogue?"
Jack grinned. "Nothing so exciting, I'm afraid." He pulled the mobile out of his coat and showed her the message. "I'm curious to know, however, what might be causing this latest rift activity."
"And this U.N.I.T.? And Doctor Jones? Are they curious as well?"
"Definitely," Jack replied with a rueful smile. "U.N.I.T.'s been trying to get us to join them for over a year. They keep saying. . ." His voice trailed off as Olivia abruptly stopped walking. She stood absolutely still, an expression of dismay on her face. He took her hands in his.
"What's wrong? What's the matter?"
She looked up and met Jack's eyes. "What if it's me, Jack? What if I'm somehow causing the rift activity?"
"That's possible," he said, "but not likely." He gave a tug on one of her hands and they resumed walking. "Think about it; you've been here for almost four months. If the rift was reacting to you in some way we would have seen it before this. Not to mention it's a rift is space-time; you'd have to be using the vortex manipulator in some way, or it would have to be malfunctioning, to cause the rift to start cracking."
She sighed. "You're right, I suppose. I just wish I knew something. Remembered something! It's all so bloody frustrating!"
Jack gave her hand a squeeze. "We'll figure it out. Just don't push it; you'll never force your memory."
They were almost to the entrance before Jack spoke again. "Whatever – or whoever - is going on I hope it's friendly."
"She doesn't remember anything? Not even how she ended up here, in Cardiff, on top of the rift?"
Jack shook his head. "Not a thing." He held up his left arm and pointed at his vortex manipulator. "But if she set this on Automatic and was anywhere in this sector of the universe it would have been naturally drawn to the rift. Not that that information helps us, of course."
Martha Jones stood up and started to pace the confines of Jack's office. "And she definitely has a vortex manipulator," she said. "I don't suppose it could be something else?"
"No way. I'd know."
Martha stopped pacing and leaned against one of the file cabinets. "Do you think she was a time agent? Or did she get the manipulator in some other way?" She stepped forward and rested her hands on the desk. "You have instincts for this sort of thing, Jack. What do you think?"
Jack leaned back in his chair. "She was definitely a time agent at some point. She's said a few things that meant nothing to her, but I knew."
"Would an uncontrolled trip through the vortex account for the memory loss? Or do you think the agency did to her what they did to you?"
"They only wiped two years of my memories," Jack replied. "Not every last thing." He flipped some pages of the file on his desk before slapping it closed. "But to answer your other question, yes, it could account for the memory loss, but there's no way of knowing for sure. As far as I know no time agent has ever used the manipulator's automatic pilot function."
"Never?" Martha asked, her eyes widening in surprise.
"Never ever. She must have been in a hell of a lot of trouble to resort to it." He met Martha's eyes. "The kind of trouble that people don't usually walk away from." He stood up. "Which is why I've kept her here. Until we have some idea of what happened to her she's better off hiding, and Torchwood is ideal for that."
Martha smiled slightly. "Is that your subtle way of telling me I'd better not share this information with my superiors?"
"You think that was subtle?"
"For you, yes." The pair moved to the other side of the office, where they could see Olivia and Ianto Jones working at one of the monitoring stations. "You trust her enough to allow her access to information, Jack?"
"Nothing classified," Jack replied with a sidelong smile. "I'm not stupid." He pushed open the office door. "Come on. Let's get to work on what brought you here."
Two hours later Martha and Jack were in the medical lab going over the most recent alien autopsies. The records were incomplete and messy, causing Martha to sigh in frustration as she tossed another file on the worktable.
"This is useless!" she burst out. "I can't do anything with this –" she said, gesturing at the mess that surrounded her and Jack. "Incomplete autopsies, no genetic scans, no DNA profiles –"
"Hardly surprising," Jack interrupted. "We've been without a medical doctor ever since Owen. . ." He didn't complete the sentence, just stood silent with his jaw clenched.
Martha immediately looked contrite. "I'm sorry, Jack. I shouldn't have. . ." She swallowed hard. "I know it's been hard on you."
"You could make it easier. Stay here. Leave U.N.I.T."
"We've had this conversation before, Jack. Please let's not have it again."
Their eyes met and held for a long moment before Jack gave a nod. He turned away and sat at the computer. "Let me show you what we have on Livvie. I'd like your opinion, if you can make anything of the situation that we haven't already considered."
Martha stepped up behind Jack and studied the screen. "Is that normal? A body temperature of 100.3?"
"Yes, as it turns out," Jack replied, pulling up another page of the electronic chart. "When she first arrived we thought she was seriously ill with an infectious disease. We ran every test we could without the help of an actual doctor, but everything came up negative. That was our first clue."
Martha stared at the screen, amazed at what they had been able to discover. "What was your second clue?" she asked.
"This." Jack pressed a button on the keyboard and the screen changed again. He pushed the chair back from the worktop slightly, allowing Martha to get closer.
"Well, I can confirm that you've been right about her. She's definitely not human." She reached out and touched the screen lightly. "But how did you get this? You haven't done any other DNA profiles."
Jack shrugged. "We made a special effort in this case. Nearly blew every computer circuit in the Hub while we were at it. Even so, it's incomplete." He gestured at the screen. "You can see the gaps."
Martha glanced quickly at Jack and then back at the monitor. "And this doesn't match up with anything in your database? Not even partially?"
Jack shook his head. "The closest we came was twenty-three per cent. Not that it helped us; it was a twenty-three per cent match to human DNA. And all that tells us is that whatever species she is is humanoid, which we can see with our own eyes."
Martha turned away from the monitor. "What about personal belongings? Did she have anything with her when she arrived besides the clothes on her back and a vortex manipulator?"
"Yeah." Jack stood and led the way into the storage area. "There were a few things in the pockets of her coat." He pulled a box off of a top shelf. "Not much, though."
Martha looked in at the pitifully small collection of objects. "That's it?"
"I let her keep her lip gloss."
Martha laughed. "Always the gentleman." She reached in to the box and shifted the items around. There was a wide leather band that she took to be an extra wrist strap for the manipulator, an elaborate pocketknife, some coins in a currency she didn't recognize, a British passport, and at the bottom. . .
She froze when she uncovered the last item. The blood rushed and pounded in her ears as she slowly reached out and lifted it, turning it over in her hand as she did so.
It was a silver fob watch, elaborately engraved on the front in an intertwined pattern of planets and suns. Martha thought her heart would stop. She held it out to Jack with shaking hands. "Recognize it?" she asked, her voice the merest whisper.
He grabbed it from her before she could accidentally drop it, turning it in his hands and examining every surface of it. "No," he replied, pressing the button and popping the cover open. "Should I?"
Martha took a deep breath. "No, you wouldn't. You never saw it, did you? Not in 1913, and Professor Yana –"
"Yana? What does he have. . ."
But Martha had snatched the watch back and was sprinting up the hallway towards the stairs that led to the Hub's main level. Jack started after her, feeling no small amount of alarm. He was accustomed to seeing Martha at her unflappable best, and her almost frightened reaction had him worried.
He caught up with her at the top of the steps. "Martha, what's wrong?" he asked, grasping her elbow.
She shook her head and met his eyes. "I need you to trust me, Jack. Because the next few minutes might get slightly surreal."
"Surreal is normal around here."
"Not like this," she said, holding up the watch. "Trust me, please." And she pushed open the door to the main room.
Olivia looked up when she heard their footsteps on the catwalk. "Jack, we have a lead on what might be causing the increased rift activity. There's a large pocket of temporal feedback just outside the city," she said, turning back to the computer station. "In Grangetown. It's weird, though, because. . ." She looked up again and saw Martha's face. "What is it? What's the matter?"
Martha held up the watch. "Olivia, where did you get this?"
Olivia looked at the watch and then back at Martha. "I. . . I don't know. I can't remember." She looked towards Jack. "They told me it was in one of my pockets when they found me, but that's all I know."
Martha held it out to the other woman. "Have you touched it since you've been here? Or opened it?"
Olivia took it. "No. As far as I know this is the first time I've ever touched it. But it feels like. . ." Her voice trailed off.
"Feels like what?" Ianto spoke for the first time, exchanging a worried glance with Jack.
"It feels like a part of me. Like it's been there my entire life."
"Open it," Martha said. All three of them looked at her, surprised at the vehemence in her voice. "Do it. Please."
Olivia glanced first at Ianto, and then at Jack. When he nodded she pressed the button and the cover flipped open. They all stood still for what felt like an hour before Martha took the watch out of Olivia's hand and snapped it closed.
"Nothing happened," she said, sounding shocked and a little bit relieved. She met Olivia's eyes. "But I was sure. . ."
Jack stepped forward and took hold of the hand that Martha held the watch in. "I think we need to talk," he said quietly. He nodded to Olivia and Ianto. "You two, go get some lunch."
When they had bundled themselves into their coats and gone to the lift Ianto looked back and met Jack's eyes. "Go," Jack mouthed. "It's OK."
When the pair had left Jack steered Martha back to his office and pushed her into a chair. He poured a measure of brandy into a glass and watched while she downed it in one gulp. "Now," he began when Martha's coughing fit subsided. "Do you want to tell me what the hell that was about?"
"The watch," Martha said, her voice rasping. "I've only ever seen two like that. With those patterns engraved on the cover." She looked up and her eyes locked with Jack's. "One of them belonged to the man we knew as Professor Yana."
Realization started to dawn and Jack felt his knees go weak. He fell back into the chair beside the one Martha occupied. "Yana. AKA The Master." He looked around the office. "Now I need a shot of brandy, because you can't be thinking what I think you're thinking." He scrubbed his face with his hands. "Can you?"
"I can't think of any other explanation for how she could have one of those watches in her possession."
Jack sprang up out of the chair and moved behind his desk. "No. No. NoNoNoNoNo. She can't be!" He pushed a hand through his hair. "We may not have a medical doctor on staff, Martha, but I think we would have noticed something as obvious as more than one heart." He picked up the watch from where it sat on his desk. "Why is this so important?"
Martha explained to him what had happened the one time she had seen such a watch used. "It made him human. The perfect hiding place."
"But nothing happened when Livvie opened the watch," Jack said, snapping it open himself. "That doesn't fit your idea."
"Neither does the fact that her genetic profile is clearly non-human." Martha sighed. "It was a crazy thought, I suppose."
"But one we both wanted to be true, for his sake." Jake closed the watch and turned it in his hands, over and over. "Still, I'd love to know how she came to have this."
"Maybe she picked it up on a mission at some time," Martha suggested.
"I doubt it," Jack replied, still turning the watch in his hands. "There are very limited points in space-time where someone could come across even a small piece of Time Lord technology." He tossed the watch on the desktop. "And we have other work to be getting on with, Doctor Jones." He grinned. "Would you like to join my team on a quiet trip to Grangetown tomorrow?"
Martha smiled in return. "Cracks in the rift, pockets of temporal feedback and possible alien infiltration? You always know how to show a girl a good time, Captain."