Author Note: This fic is set... er... okay, I actually can't answer that. And I really can't explain it either. Just know that a bottle of cider went into this fic and it may only make sense to you, dear reader, if you too are slightly sloshed...
All beloved praise to my dear friend and fellow Torchwood addict Rachel (better know as Galadriel1010) for filling me in on bits of needed Torchwood info and laughing at me when I had to backspace every third word. Vintage reserve cider should be used with caution.
Disclaimer: Jack, Ianto, Owen, Gwen, Tosh and even Myfanwy belong entirely to Russel T Davies, even if he does kill them off. Tiffany Summers is mine, hands off.
Part One: OMGWTFBBQROFLCOPTER
The search was not going well. Tiffany cursed herself for ever thinking to bring Jack and Ianto here of all places. Cardiff Bay was a tourist hotspot, no one in their right minds brought a pair of excitable Labrador puppies to a tourist hotspot.
Tiffany reflected that she could never be called right-minded in any case.
Ianto pulled on her leash, wanting freedom, wanting to explore. They had just moved onto searching the Roald Dahl Plass when Tiffany lost her temper, the frustration of the past few hours boiling over.
"Jack? Jack! You get back here this instant or I swear you'll be eating that nasty tinned stuff tonight!"
Tiffany passed the infamous Water Tower. A thought occurred to her as she gazed at her own watery reflection. She still had Jack's collar, perhaps Ianto could help track him down? She kneeled before the brown haired dog, putting the collar in front of Ianto's nose.
"Good girl, you gonna help me, yeah?"
Ianto whined; her head whipped around, catching a scent.
"Good girl! Come on, help me find Jack."
A man appeared around the other side of the monument. "This yours?" he asked in an American accent. A black Labrador was sniffing at his heels.
"Jack bloody Harkness, you get away from him right now!"
The man paused, cocking an eyebrow. "I only want to return your dog, no harm meant."
Tiffany checked herself. "Sorry, sorry. He has a habit of eating shoes, I didn't want your—" Tiffany peered down. "Hmm, your rather nice brown boots to be ruined."
In the shadow of the fountain Tiffany saw the man give her a brilliant grin. She smiled back, if timidly.
The black Labrador spotted Ianto and ran at her. The pair scuffled for a while. Tiffany felt both relieved and embarrassed. This man had helped her and all she could do was grin like an idiot at her fighting dogs.
But then the man walked forward, out of the shadows, and Tiffany froze.
"J—John Barrowman?" she whispered.
The grin disappeared for one moment before returning in confusion. "Who?"
"You're John Barrowman. My God, you're even wearing the coat!" Dogs forgotten, Tiffany rushed forward. "Can I have a picture? No one at home will believe this. Are you shooting another series—" Tiffany's face fell. "Never mind, not after Ianto. I doubt they could rewrite that. Anyway, hi!"
The man had been watching her in disbelief but when she mentioned the name 'Ianto', his brows furrowed. Who was this girl, and what did she know?
"I can wholeheartedly assure you I am not 'John Barrowman', young lady," he said, wondering if the girl had ever spent much time on Planet Sane. "Nice name though."
Tiffany stopped herself babbling and said, "You what?"
"Captain Jack Harkness, pleased to meet you. You might be?"
Tiffany stared at the outstretched hand. Numbly, she became aware he wanted her to shake it; she did so. A leather strap hidden under his sleeve caught her attention. "Oh wow, even the wrist strap..."
The man's grin became ever more fixed. "Pardon?"
"Or what was the name? Vortex Mapper, Vortex—"
"Manipulator," the man finished, no longer smiling.
"That was it," Tiffany said weakly. The guy was clearly a loon, if a very well researched one, and obviously a bigger Torchwood fan than her. But he looked so much like—
"Jack!" Tiffany shouted, and the black Labrador cringed, backing away from the other dog. "How many times, eh? Stop asserting your dominance over Ianto!"
The man did a double take. Then burst out laughing. Tiffany turned back round to glare at him; she fell short as she saw the obvious mirth and amusement twinkling in his eyes. It would be impossible to hate this man, she was sure.
He looked so much like—
"You still haven't told me your name," the man pointed out.
"Summers, Tiffany Summers."
"Well, Summers, Tiffany Summers, how about you tell me how you know what my wrist strap is?" He lightly tapped the small, leather bound machine.
Tiffany gave him an odd look. "Because it was on the telly? Because I watched Torchwood religiously when it was on?"
The man folded his arms across his chest, measuring her up. "You know about Torchwood?"
"Sure. Air dates, car models, character birthdays, everything. Absolutely everything."
A water filled silence descended. The man regarded Tiffany. "Really everything? I don't think you do." But that didn't stop him taking another step closer. Tiffany became aware that the plaza was steadily becoming deserted, and tried not to feel as if she should back away. Tiffany also felt that she had to prove herself.
"Torchwood," she said. "Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, Owen Harper, Gwen Cooper, Toshiko Sato. Suzie Costello is hopefully still in the vault, and Myfanwy roosts in a half blocked pipe at the top of the Hub."
The man seemed to be staring at her with a mixture of shock and awe. "You know the pterodactyl's name?"
"She's a pteranodon, technically," Tiffany felt obliged to add. "And she likes dark chocolate. It's her favourite."
"Just how could you know that, Tiffany Summers?"
"Because I'm a fan and an addict. Aren't you? You have to be, your outfit is spot on. I still adore that coat..."
The man chuckled, running a hand through his dark brown hair. "Summers, Tiffany Summers, I think you're going to have to come with me."
That brought Tiffany up short. "Excuse me?"
"You obviously know a lot about us, so you know what's going to happen now." He began to advance on her. She backed away.
"'Us'?" she repeated. "What is this, some kind of Mega-Torchwood cult— Hey! Get your hands off Ianto!"
The man had grabbed Ianto's leash and was entwining the material around his wrist. "It doesn't look like you're going to be taking me seriously, Tiffany. I'm just going to take..." He repressed a chuckle. "Ianto here for a little walk. Feel free to join us."
Then he turned away, Ianto and Jack following at his heels. Tiffany cursed herself for not getting more faithful dogs and jumped off the stone step to follow after the fast-paced man.
She'd lost sight of them. Tiffany couldn't believe it. Her dogs had been kidnapped by a maniac in a lush coat and it was all her fault for indulging him. And now her feet really hurt, she'd been walking for hours. First to find that damned dog, and now this.
Tiffany was so wound up with worry and anger that she almost walked past the suited man sitting on an upturned barrel.
Then she stopped.
"Hmm," the new man said, standing up and straightening his tie. "Well, you look normal, that's for sure, but appearances can be rather deceiving in this place." He smiled and turned around, indicating she should follow him to an innocuous looking door. "After you," he said, pushing it open.
Tiffany walked inside and nearly fainted. It all looked so real! Stuff the dogs, if this Mega-Torchwood Cult stuff was true, they had better let her join...
The door closed behind her.
Tiffany heard the locks slide.
The man walked around her to sit behind that dearly familiar desk. "Tiffany Summers, I presume? My name's Ian—"
"Ianto Jones," Tiffany whispered. "Are you sure it's not Gareth David-Lloyd? Pretty please?"
Ianto Jones gave her a politely confused smile. "I don't think so. Could check all my records though, if you wanted to be sure."
She knew he was joking with her, but all that escaped her mouth was a breathless squeak. Ianto frowned, glancing at the screen, and then his hand reached under the desk and Tiffany just knew there would be a small grey button waiting to be pressed...
A section of grimy wall on the opposite side of the wall slid over, revealing an ominous looking corridor. Tiffany didn't know whether to blanch or jump with ecstasy.
"Well, go on. Don't keep him waiting."
Tiffany jumped, cramming her knuckles into her mouth to keep from squealing. The line. He'd used the line. Trying her best not to squeak, Tiffany hurried through the door in the wall.
Ianto cocked an eyebrow. What a strange girl.
He tapped his comms. "She's on her way, Jack. You'd better explain yourself. She seems half possessed. Thought I was this Gareth guy or something."
"You know she's named her dogs after us?"
"Has she indeed?"
"Yeah. You're the female."
Ianto didn't respond. He got up from his office chair and hit the button to open the wall again, striding to catch up with Tiffany. He did not want to miss this.
Tiffany stopped at the circular, peg-toothed door. Was it real? Her fingers reached out to touch it. Cold metal. Her knuckles rapped on it, producing a very real sounding 'clang'.
All of a sudden, it rolled aside. Lights flashed, sirens flared. Tiffany could see Jack just beyond the metal cage that encapsulated the doorway to the Hub. Ianto appeared a few feet behind her.
"You rang?" Jack said, cheeky as ever. "I'd give you the big welcome, but apparently you've seen it all before?"
"Not in the flesh, per say. It's so big..."
A short, black haired woman peered out from behind her set of computers, wanting to see the what was going on: Toshiko Sato.
"You know my name?" Toshiko asked.
Tiffany realised she'd spoken out loud. "Err. Yes. Err." Oh well, one last attempt couldn't hurt. "But it isn't Naoko Mori, just on the off chance, is it?"
Tosh shook her head, bemused.
Jack watched Tiffany with curiosity in his eyes. "Want to look around?"
Priorities, priorities, Tiffany thought. Priority one: get dumb dogs out of fictional character's keeping. Priority two: squeal and fangirl over Ianto, Tosh and Owen for still being alive. Priority three: get proof. No one will believe this back home.
"Yep," she said in a strained voice. "Sure."
Jack had starting to walk away when she called out, "What about my dogs?"
"They're safe. Come on."
Tiffany followed Jack as they trailed around the Hub, eventually coming before the well-worn sofa by the medical area. She looked around as if realising something.
Jack's fingers twitched. "Not here."
Some measure of silence descended. Tiffany could hear beeps and the light chuntering of all the machines and computers. She wondered just how much energy all of this used, and she wondered how she was going to get out.
Tosh watched from behind her computer desk, eyes flicking from the screen to Tiffany and back.
"I was born in London Bridge hospital," Tiffany said, staring at Tosh, "if that helps at all." The Japanese woman shot her a small, mischievous grin and typed this in. The grin disappeared.
"No record," said Tosh. "No Tiffany Summers' have born in London Bridge for the last fifty years, or in any other London hospital."
"She could have been born somewhere else, don't rely on her accent. Check everywhere."
Tiffany flinched on the sofa. What did they mean 'no record'? She'd seen the birth certificate herself. "London accent," she mused. "I wonder if I sound like Rose."
Abruptly, Tiffany realised she'd been talking out loud again. This was starting to turn into a bad habit; Jack was glaring. No one else seemed to have noticed her comment, or at least they hadn't reacted to it. Why would they? thought Tiffany. Who apart from Jack even knew who Rose was?
Jack Harkness towered over her. The effect was quite terrifying.
"I've had enough of your games, Tiffany Summers. You know too much."
"Err, I'm sorry?" She had a bad feeling about this.
"Get up. Now."
"Jack," Tosh chided. "Don't be like that."
"Stay out of it, Toshiko." To Tiffany, he said, "Up."
Tiffany stood. Her hands were shaking. If this was really really real, then she was in trouble. Real trouble.
Tiffany saw Jack's eyes glance over her shoulder and he gave a fractional nod. She stiffened and turned in time to see Owen standing behind her, hand raised.
"Burn Gorman?" she asked in hope.
He brought down the syringe. "Not really, sweetheart."
Before she could move, Tiffany felt the slight metal pierce her skin and everything turned black.
Secondary author note-ness: Please tell me what you think! (I may wish for them, but those mind-reading powers are still proving elusive)