Disclaimer: UFO and its denizens are not dragon's. They belong to Gerry Anderson and his production company and some other people. I just borrow them and annoy them periodically.
Time: Several days ago
Rating: PG13 – max
Synopsis: SHADO – a home away from home for monsters of the id?
The Werewolf Dr. Jackson
Ford opened the door and was surprised by a dark furred something bounding in past him, leaping onto his sofa, scattering magazines and books to the four winds, and sitting there panting brightly at him. He blinked. He blinked again. Either he was losing his mind or - there was a werewolf that bore a distinct resemblence to Dr. Doug Jackson sitting - on - his - sofa. Panting.
The apparition tilted its head back and let go with a plaintive howl that reverberated off the walls of Ford's modest apartment. It then did the obligatory turn around multiple times to flatten the imaginary grass into a suitable sleeping area and lay down, forepaws crossed neatly at the wrists, very red tongue lolling out the side of its mouth.
"Let me guess, you're hungry."
"I'll take that as a yes." Ford stepped into his efficiency kitchen and rummaged around in his American style refrigerator. Ever since he'd discovered that one of those energy sucking behemoths could hold two weeks of groceries so he didn't have to go shopping as often, he'd happily paid the outrageous electric bill the one he'd bought from an American service man who didn't want to pay to ship the thing home, generated for him each month. He pulled out the pizza he'd had delivered earlier and took it out. He frowned as he set it on the coffee table. Was garlic a problem for werewolves? Apparently not. The wolf thing was suiting action to name and ingesting pizza at an awe inspiring rate.
It - he? - finished off the pizza, licked his chops, laid his big shaggy head on his paws and drifted off to sleep.
Ford sighed. He wondered just what the good Dr. was going to have to say for himself when he woke up.
Ford looked up from the book he was reading and considered his situation. There was a large, shaggy, wolf thing sleeping on his sofa. It still reminded him of Dr. Jackson. And if it was Dr. Jackson, he wasn't going to wake up as a wolf – Oh, great. Ford got to his feet and went into the bedroom where he found a sheet which he proceeded to toss over the wolf.
The thing woke up at that point and discovered it was under a sheet. The big fuzzy head shook until the sheet was dislodged. Ford fought to keep from laughing at the spectacle of the wolf thing half under the sheetl.
It seemed to frown. "Rooooowwf." It tried.
Ford looked puzzled.
"Rowf!" it seemed to agree.
"OK." Ford walked into his kitchen, opened the refrigerator and rummaged around. Steak. One, thick steak. He could get another one. He took it out of the package and dropped it on a plate. He took it out and set it on the coffee table.
Wolfie looked at it, snuffled at it and nosed it onto the floor.
"You don't like steak?"
"Cook it?" He wasn't certain whether he was more amazed at the thing wanting the steak cooked or the fact that he seemed to understand what it wanted.
"Rowf!" Pant, pant, pant. That was a really long red tongue lolling between really long fangs. That seemed to be a yes.
He walked back into the kitchen, pulled out a frying pan and turned on the range top. He frowned at himself as he dropped the steak into the pan. He walked back out to the living room to retrieve the book he was reading. The wolf thing was looking around curiously. It looked at Ford and gave him another of those disturbing drop jawed grins.
"Barbecue sauce." He repressed a shudder. "All right." Personally, he hated barbecue sauce. He went in, turned the steak which was cooking nicely, and rummaged in the refrigerator again. Nope, no barbecue sauce there. He rummaged in his cabinets until, in the very back, he found a dusty, unopend bottle of Masterpiece tm barbecue sauce. He opened it and took a hesitant sniff. Ugh. He hoped it was still all right.
He pulled the steak out of the pan, dropped it on a plate, covered it in sauce and took it out to the wolf thing. He set it down on the coffee table with a knife and fork. He looked at that and decided he was frazzled.
The wolf thing knocked the knife and fork onto the floor as it gobbled up the steak, crunching the bone happily and slurping up barbecue sauce. He decided he just couldn't continue to watch and it was time for bed. He walked off to the bedroom. "Glad you like it," he murmured.
"Rur-rur," it responded.
"You're welcome." He closed the door behind him. What the hell was he doing? He was talking to a big wolf looking thing that reminded him of Dr. Jackson like it was some sort of natural thing to do. "Drugs. I'm definitely on drugs," he mutttered. "That or I should be. Tranquilizers. Lots and lots of tranquilizers."
He stepped into the bathroom and acquired a coupled of painkillers to dull the throb beginning behind his eyes. This was all a bad dream. Just a really bad dream. He stripped out of his clothes and collapsed on his bed. He fell asleep to dream of grinning wolves who were peculiar psychiatrists in disguise and blonde vampires who clung like limpets to Commander Straker who didn't seem to have a clue.
He awoke to a dreary London rain. He took a shower, dressed and walked out into his living room. No wolf thing. That had been a hell of a dream. So why was there a plate on the floor with the remains of what smelled like – barbecue – sauce? He ran a finger across the surface of the plate. It was strangely slick, like something had licked it clean and left a layer of saliva on the surface. He shuddered at the thought.
He dumped the plate in the sink and looked for the left over pizza. No, wait. Wasn't that a pizza box on the coffee table? He shook his head. Work. A nice soothing day of avoiding getting yelled at. That should do the trick.
He arrived at work He entered the building and went to the locker room where he changed into his uniform. He walked out of the locker room and almost ran into Dr. Jackson. Their eyes met, Jackson looking as darkly secretive as usual.
"Enjoy the barbecue sauce?" Ford asked before he could stop himself.
"Yes," Dr. Jackson answered the same way. Then he really looked at Ford, the suspicion that there was something other than idle curiosity behind the question crossed the psychiatrist's mind. "How did you –"
"Just a hunch," Ford answered the half question and walked on. What did he think he was doing? Playing games with Jackson was tantamount to signing your own death warrant. He slid into his seat at the console he normally occupied, signing in on the roster and checking out all the items he routinely checked out.
"Bloody imagination going haywire," he muttered to himself. "Jackson's a werewolf. Straker's a bloody vampire. Who knows what anyone else is."
"Don't nose it about." Alec said softly behind him.
Ford nearly jumped out of his uniform and his skin at the quiet voice. He swung around and met the peculiarly red tinged eyes of the SHADO second in command. "Sir?" he nearly squeaked.
Ford lost what little color he had managed to maintain after years of underground activity. He swallowed hard. He had been hoping it was all just a nightmare. "I – er – excuse me, sir." He lurched to his feet and made a beeline for the bathrooms just off the control center area.
Alec watched him go with a concerned frown. He walked into Straker's office and met Straker's pale gaze with a shrug. " Something odd about Ford."
They both looked at Harmony who was seated in a chair against the far wall. "I don't know. Honest."
There was a knock at the door. Ford entered, handed Straker an envelope and walked out again without a word.
Straker slit the envelope open and removed the single sheet of paper.
"I'm sorry. But between the werewolves on the sofa, the barbecue sauce and the vampires, I can no longer even attempt to retain a professional attitude. I quit."
Straker raised an expressive eyebrow. "I think we've overloaded the Lt."
"Barbecue sauce?" Alec looked bemused as he pulled his mug of blood out of the microwave Straker had brought in earlier in the evening.
Lt. Ford, meanwhile, having soothed his aching psyche had returned to his post instead of going home, as any other abrupt resignee would have done. He was humming quietly to himself when Straker came out of his office and walked over.
"A word Lt. Ford."
"How did you – survive?"
Ford's dark eyes met Straker's intensely blue gaze. He swallowed hard. The encounter came back to him. The Commander, fangs, glowing eyes, game face of angles and planes, the sharp pain in his neck and then darkness. He blinked. "Uh – I'm not certain, sir."
Straker nodded. "That makes two of us. I am not accepting your resignation."
"Yes, sir. Probably just as well, sir," the younger man admitted with a sigh. "I really wouldn't be comfortable anywhere else. I just – It was a bit much, sir."
"The barbecue sauce?"
Ford gave a shudder. "I detest barbecue sauce and there was - " He cleared his throat self consciously - "Maybe later, sir. If you don't mind."
Some time later:
Keith Ford awoke with a jerk and a gasp. He blinked at the darkness of his bedroom, disoriented and panting for breath. For just a moment, he didn't know where he was. Then the familiar shadows began to take shape and he relaxed. He wished he hadn't. His sheets were soaked with sweat. He rolled out of bed and padded into the bathroom to rinse off. He thought about just rinsing off his face and decided he felt entirely took sticky to go back to sleep. He peeled off his coldly clinging boxers and stepped into the shower.
He adjusted the water to just about comfortably body temp and stepped under it. He closed his eyes and let the water sluice the remains of the dream panic off his body. He soaped up, rinsed off, lathered his hair and rinsed that. He felt much better until he opened his eyes as he pulled out of the spray. The water was red, thick, warm, viscous.
Keith Ford awoke with a yell as he launched himself across the room abruptly. He stumbled into his chest of drawers, scattering the small items sitting on its surface and grabbing for anything to keep from falling. He ended up sitting, back against the wall, panting. got to his feet, stripped off his pajama bottoms which seemed to be uncomfortably soaked with sweat, and stalked into the bathroom. He snapped on the lights and glared at his innocently gleaming white tiled shower enclosure. He rinsed off his face, dried it and took a really good look at the shower enclosure. He shuddered at the memory of blood everywhere, sliding down the tile, coloring his body a bright raw meat sort of color.
Ok, that was enough of that. He quelled his unruly thoughts and decided to try meditation to see if he could get his head cleared. He went into his living room, cleared a space on the floor and sat down, pulling his long legs into a full lotus fold and deep breathing to center down. He cleared his mind and tried to become calm. It worked. For about twenty minutes.
There was a knock at the door. Keith frowned and tried to continue his meditation.
He scowled and got up. Then he realized he was still sans clothing and made a dash for the bedroom and a clean pair of pajama bottoms.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
"I'm coming!" he yelled. He ran back to the door and opened it without a thought about checking to see who it was. The Commander. And Harmony. And Alec. Every expletive he knew ran through his mind in a single unintelligible thought. "Commander."
He knew he didn't like the extremely thoughtful look on the Commander's face. "It's late, Commander. I was just - going to bed."
Straker sighed and smiled faintly, hearing the partial lie. "Let us in. We need to talk. Away from work."
"I'd rather not."
"You didn't die the last time."
"No. And I'd like to keep it that way."
"Then let us in. According to some information Dr. Jackson had been withholding, we can't kill you. We can't bring you across."
"No, but you can make my life damn all uncomfortable for 48 hours."
The three vampires looked extremely confused. Harmony fixed her wide, innocent looking blue eyes on him and smiled. "Please, Mr. Ford. They really do need to talk to you."
"You're going to stand there in the hallway until I do, aren't you?"
"Come in, then. I'm tired." He walked away from the doorway, into the kitchen. If he was going to be dinner again, he might as well fortify himself. He pulled a cold beer out of the refrigerator. He looked at the remaining glass bottles and pulled three more out. Always the hospitable host.
Alec accepted the offered beer without thinking, twisted off the top and took a long pull a the bottle. He lowered it and then realized what he'd done. He waited for repercussions. His belly felt cold and that was it. It tasted good. Not as good as hot, fresh blood, but not bad.
Harmony took the offered drink and then sort of looked at it oddly. She twisted the top off and took a sniff. It smelled OK. She took a sip and made a face. Actually, it wasn't too bad. She met Straker's gaze and grinned. "I wasn't legal yet. I mean, it's not like I hadn't - but not much. I wasn't big on drinking."
"It's all right, Harmony."
She smiled that mega-watt smile at him and took another sip while she wandered around Keith's living room. She picked up a couple of magazines and a book, read the titles and put them down again. "Do you have anything a little lighter weight?" she asked.
"News of the World?"
She blinked. "You read that?"
"Occasionally there are real encounters in there."
"Oh, wow. You mean, like, survivors?"
Keith nodded. "Survivors. People who've seen the oppostion and reported it. Some of the reports are real encounters. I try to keep tabs on them." He kept a wary eye on his Commander while he explained. He pointed to the pile of newspaper and Harmony sat down on the floor next to it and rummaged through them. He focused on his boss who had taken a seat on the couch, although he hadn't accepted the proffered beer. Keith set the extra down on the coffee table and took a long swig of his own before meeting that piercing gaze again.
"I want to apologize."
For just a moment, the world spun too swiftly and Keith's lower jaw seemed completely dissassociated from his head. He goggled. Then he recalled himself, closed his mouth and tried to find something that didn't sound too inane to say. "For -?"
"Oh. Thank you, sir - You did, didn't you?"
"You don't remember?"
"It's - hazy. I've had some odd dreams - I remember feeling like there were two sets of thoughts inside my head. And then there was this incredible wrenching feeling, as though i was being pulled apart, piecemeal."
Harmony looked up from the paper she was reading. "That was the demon. It left you for some reason."
"The question is, why?" Straker added.
Ford let his gaze move from one to the other and back. He shrugged his shoulders. Harmony told herself that it didn't matter how his muscles rippled when he moved. She had Ed. But he was nice to look at. He was lean and wiry, like Spike. Her face clouded for a moment. Only Spike hadn't wanted her, he wanted Buffy. Ed wanted her. That made her happy. She settled back into reading the News of the World and reminding herself that most of the stories were not about real things. She chuckled a little as she mused on what it would be like if they had a branch office in Sunnydale and some good teenaged reporters.
'What's different about you?"
"I don't know."
"I'd like you to let Dr. Jackson run some tests. They'll be kept confidential. Jackson, myself and Alec will be the only ones with the answers."
"Jackson's a werewolf."
"True. But he's a trustworthy werewolf."
Alec choked slightly at that and studied the ceiling. He was still having problems with concepts like "trustworthy" and "werewolf" being used in the same sentence. He wasn't too keen on "vampire" just yet, but he was getting there.
"All right. Now, could I get some sleep, please?"
"Of course. Harmony, Alec."
Ford closed the door behind them, locked it and wondered what else was going to get iffy in his life.
Lt. Ford reported to Dr. Jackson the next day for tests. He began to feel like a somewhat testy Russian Ensign on one of his favorite programs in the 60s. "If - If I live long enough, I may just run out of samples."
Finally, Dr. Jackson felt confident enough of his findings to make a report to Commander Straker.
"He's what?" Alec, also at the meeting, sounded dumbfounded.
"Technically, Lt. Ford is virtually immortal," Dr. Jackson repeated himself, his accent carressing the vowels in his words. "It is truly amazing. And I have no explanation for it. I found nothing extraordinary outside of his being more alive on a cellular level than most of us are."
"Which grants him - technical immortality. Fascinating."
"So what do we do with it?" Alec asked.
Straker looked around at him. "Value it. Ford's one of the best tech people we have. His ability with codes and computers is an invaluable weapon against the opposition, especially if he can supply continuity."
"Continuity?" Jackson and Alec both sounded uncomprehending.
"Continuity. We have no idea how long this battle will continue. The ideal is to take the fight to the enemy. Ford, in may ways, is a living record of what we have already done. Jackson, what's his rating on command?"
"Not as good as yours. He is not a physical person. He does not - lead. He is much more capable of working in isolation."
Straker frowned. He had been aware of Ford's ability to work well in a self disciplined environment. He nodded as though he had come to a decision. "We find a way to make the best of it then. He coordinates projects well. For now, we keep him where he is, but I want him groomed to become second to whoever inherits this seat."
Alec cleared his throat. "Ed -"
The clear blue eyes met his. "I know, Alec. I'm not human any more and I am, barring accidents, immortal thanks to Harmony and my personal demon." A faint smile curved his lips at that. "But I can't stay at the helm forever. Ten more years and I will have to give up, disappear."
"For the same reason Harmony will and you will. We've stopped aging. After ten years, people will begin to notice. Fifteen would be pushing it badly. I've always known that somewhere along the line I'd lose a battle and someone else would have to take over. As long as I was mortal, I could put off the knowledge, let chance play a hand. But not now. Now I have to face my limited lifetime as a part of SHADO's future."
That got a grin. "Oh, not completely. And that's where Ford comes in. He becomes our liason. We're going to set up a - shadow base, as it were."
"We recruit -?"
"Yes. According to Harmony, there's a vampire private investigator in Los Angeles who battles demons and other evils. There's a council of something called Watchers here in England. There's more than one secret war going on and I intend to recruit from the other battlefields. The vampire in LA is different, he purportedly has a soul and a mission. He's not a recruit. Harmony, on the other hand, is pure vampire. Yet she is capable of control and of being helpful. You and I are proof that it doesn't take that much to control our urges."
"We haven't done much to give in to those urges, and you always were a control freak," Alec pointed out.
"Yes. I had to be. I still do. But it's a little easier when the burden is shared. And it is shared. You. Harmony. Jackson. Ford, when he's ready. We've got the one thing I always felt I was fighting. Time."
"And vampire hunters."
Straker raised his mug in a toast. "To SHADO and it's mirror."