Out Of The Vortex: THE LURKER

Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood, Doctor Who, or the Lovecraftverse. I do own Mira Jamerson, Lucian Jamerson, Victor Norton, and David Smith.

Susie Olivier is the original character of Anna Morris and is used with permission.

Violet Conway is the original character of Mary Kate Daily and is used with permission.

Sarah Jane Patterson is the original character of Sarah Harmon and is used with permission.

Faith Harkness is conceptualized by Moriah Holt and is used with permission.

Please do not sue me or them.

The Lurker takes place in an AU where Miracle Day never happened.

The Jack Returns

April 10, 2011

A black SUV, rather dented and generally the worse for wear, pulled up about 300 feet away from the rusted out old warehouse on the Cardiff docks before sputtering and dying.

"Son of a bitch!" bellowed a muffled female voice from the driver's side. A young woman leapt from the car, popping the trunk and peering through the smoke within with a look of obvious distaste. This was not what she had signed up for. She kicked the front left tire in frustration.

"Come on, god fucking damn it! You piece of shit! Come on! You're almost there." She sighed, stalking toward the door of the warehouse. She'd have to call a mechanic. again.

The inside of the warehouse was nothing like its dilapidated exterior. In fact, it resembled a run-down office building more than anything else. There were several hand-me-down desks that had definitely seen better days. One, near the front of the warehouse, housed an old laptop as well as three or four computer monitors that looked like they were dragged out of a dumpster In truth, they probably were. Gwen didn't ask where her technology officer had found them. She was just glad they had a system running at all. All were running the familiar Torchwood Operating System, though she had more than once kicked at the tower in frustration when the old pieces of shit had frozen up.

She sighed again. It was nothing like the old days.

Another desk by the far wall was covered in magazine clippings and paper dolls, and she smiled as she straightened up the mess, particulary when she noted that the one that looked like her had been dressed in a pretty pink evening dress.

"Come on, Faith," she murmured to herself. "I would never wear something like that." She pulled the dress off her doll and placed it on one that looked like Jack Harkness, snickering slightly. Yes. that was better.

The third desk, placed on what appears to have been an upper loading dock, had a single monitor and a large stack of file folders on it, rather messily placed. Gwen climbed up an old metal ladder to this last desk, sat down, and began to look through the folders.

More cases. Too many.

She sighed, wiping her eyes with one hand. It was going to be one of those days.

A door at the back of the warehouse opened with a creak, and she started, relaxing when she recognized the man entering as David Smith, technological genius.

Then she noticed that he was limping.

"David, are you ok?" she asked in concern, swinging down from her loft.

The dark-haired young man gasped in pain, his brown eyes bright in agony.

"Fine, boss," he hissed. "I'm fine. It's nothing."

Gwen smiled slightly at his bravado. They were always so brave.

"Rough night, I take it?"

He rolled his eyes as he eased into his desk chair.

"Yeah, I suppose you could put it that way. Hey, do we have any Weevil spray left?"

She frowns at this, finally noticing the blood pooling at his feet. She spun him around, glaring at him with concern.

"Liar. That doesn't look like nothing. Take off your pants."

He shot her a strange look of amusement and slight apprehension. Her eyes widened and she blushed softly as she realized what she had said.

God, I sound like Jack.

She glared at him, shaking that thought from her mind.

"So I can look at your wound, you dolt. I need to see how bad it is."

He smiled, though she thought she saw a hint of disappointment in his dark eyes.

"Oh. Well then, sure."

"You don't have to sound so hurt. I'm a married woman, you know."

She treated the wound with bandages and alcohol, smiling compassionately as he winces at the contact.

"Lucky it wasn't too deep," she muttered, pulling the gauze tight about his thigh. "We're nearly out of just about everything."

She paused, frowning. "You say a Weevil did this? But we haven't had a sighting in months."

David hissed in discomfort as he stood. "Guess they decided it was time to reintroduce themselves."

He pulled his pants back on and eases himself back into his chair, turning to face the monitors. He typed for a few seconds, then stopped and stared at the image onscreen.

"What is it, David?"

"Looks like major rift activity nearby," he replied, pointing to a large red dot on his map. "We know the Weevils react to it. No wonder I got jumped."

Gwen stared at the map, sighing. Not another one.

"The real question is, what's causing it?"

David gestured at the dot, which was now moving westward towards their base. "Well, whatever it is, it's moving. That can't be good."

Gwen leaps into action, running for the door of the warehouse. Then she stops, turning back to David.

"Shit. I forgot. The SUV's gone autistic again. Keeps making that funny tapping noise. I guess I'll have to go on foot."

David nodded. "Be careful, Gwen! That's a bad part of town that is!"

Gwen nodded. "Just worry about tracking that thing. Whatever it is, I'll find it."

About four blocks away after a good run, Gwen turned a corner to find herself face to face with a particularly confused-looking dog. She sighed, tapping into her com.

"I think I found it. Looks like some sort of dog. Russian wolfhound, maybe?"

David sighed, his voice crackly on the radio. They really needed new equipment.

"Why would a dog be humming with rift residue?"

"I'm not sure. But it looks normal to me. Maybe the equipment's malfunctioning." She rolled her eyes. Wouldn't be surprised.

"Has it done that before?" asked David. He was still pretty new to this whole thing. Gwen rolled her eyes.

"Oh, loads of times. I remember this one time, when Jack. . ."

She stopped and stared at the pavement. She didn't want to think about Jack right now.

"Never mind. What's important is that I don't think it's much of a threat. I'm coming in."

She turned around and began walking back towards the warehouse.

Behind her, something started shimmering around the dog, like a morning mist. It sprouted thick, leathery wings and its teeth seemed to elongate into fangs.

Gwen stopped as if she heard something, but shook it off. Just a stupid dog.

Suddenly, the creature snarled and bounded towards her. She let out a cry of surprise as she pulled her gun, but it was already on top of her.

"Look out!" cried a familiar voice.

Captain Jack Harkness jumped from a fire escape overhead and wrestled the beast to the ground, breaking its neck.

It spewed a sort of glowing viscous fluid all over him. He stood up, dripping, shook the goo from his arms, and smiled dashingly at Gwen.

She gaped at him in shock and alarm.


His grin widened as he helped her to her feet. "Turning your back on a rift creature, Gwen Cooper? I thought I'd trained you better."

She pulled her hand away from him, glaring at him in indignation. "Abandoning me for months without a word? I guess I'm not the only one who made some mistakes. What are you doing here?"

Jack stared at her in open surprise. "Hey, now! That's no way to greet the man who just saved your life."

"What the hell were you expecting? A parade? Look at me, Jack! Look me in the eye and tell me that you did the right thing by running away."

He turned away, unable to meet her gaze.

"I'm sorry, Gwen. I'm so sorry."

She sighed. No. He didn't get to be the victim here. She punched him square in the jaw, landing him against the alley wall.

"Sorry? Sorry doesn't cover what I've had to go through without you. With the baby, and Rhys, and then I had to rebuild Torchwood from the ground up without you. Work from scratch with nothing. No funding, no real plan. It's been hell, Jack. Do you understand that? My life has been hell."

She suddenly grabbed him and planted her head into his chest, sobbing. He gingerly wrapped his arms around her, afraid she would punch him again.

"You lied to me. You said you wouldn't leave again and then you did. We could have gotten through it together, Jack. We could haveā€¦"

He shushed her, his eyes brimming with tears of guilt.

"I know. I know, Gwen. I'm sorry."

She melted into his arms gently, letting him hold her close. Then she suddenly tensed.

"I. . . I can't do this."

She pulled away from him, her face soaked with tears and slime.

"I can't let you back in, Jack. Not after all this. It's too much. I can't trust you."

Jack stared at her, his face contorted with guilt and sorrow. He had already lost his team. He couldn't lose her too.

"Gwen. . ."

She glared at him one final time and took off towards the warehouse at a dead run.

"Gwen! GWEN!"

He sighed and watched her go.

As she vanished from view, he looked down at his coat, picking at it gingerly with a look of disgust on his face.

"Well, I guess I should take a shower, shouldn't I? And get this thing drycleaned."

He stalked away in the opposite direction.