Sister Abigail Ignatius glided along the hall, drawn by a faint sound, a soft whimper. She carefully opened the door and peered into her charge's room. The five-year-old boy tossed and turned, a soft, strangely lonely sound escaping him.
Poor thing, she thought as she stepped inside and sat on the edge of the bed. Her voice was soft. "Evan?" She very gently brushed the dark curls from his damp brow. "Evan?"
He jerked awake with a sobbing gasp. "Oh! No…." He drew his knees up, hugging them.
"Evan, are you ill?" She felt his forehead, a look of concern on her face.
He looked at her as if he didn't recognize her at first. "Sister Abi…. N… no. I'm not sick. I just… I had a very sad dream." He wiped away the tears on his cheeks with apparent frustration.
"Ah, I see" She smoothed his curls. I wish we didn't have to move him again, she thought. It must be stressing him horribly. "Tell me?"
"I… I don't remember," he lied, voice barely a whisper. He knew a nun wouldn't deal well with what he'd seen. It was naughty in her religion. He held his breath for a moment. "Sister? Did I… do something wrong?"
"Oh, no, dear. You did nothing wrong."
"Then why didn't Ben and Annie want to keep me?"
"Evan, they love you very much." She pulled him into a hug. "But we had to move you to keep all of you safe."
"Oh…." He tried to look like he understood even though he didn't. He could feel that the old nun was very worried for him and he didn't want her to be worried. She had taken care of him from time to time, he knew. His young memory was dim in many places, but she seemed to be a beacon in those times, holding him and soothing him.
"Here," she coaxed. "Lie back down, Evan. You need to sleep. We have a long day tomorrow.
He did as she asked, settling back into the bedding. It was only when she was gone that he began to drift off again. As he fell asleep a name passed his lips in a faint whisper.
Jack Harkness cursed under his breath as the Weevil he was chasing shimmied his way down a sewage grate a half block away from him. It was a fast little bugger, not as bulky as most of the Weevils he'd seen. He had to wonder why the stupid things still hung around on Earth. There had been enough chaotic things going on in the last few decades that a good number of alien races had decided to give this particular speck of spinning rock a wide berth. Still, there were enough to keep him and his current Torchwood team busy.
Gwen caught up with him, a little winded. "Jack?" She puffed a wisp of silver-streaked hair out of her face.
"It's down the grate." He gestured.
"Oh, lovely." She thought for a moment. "Only one way for it to go from that one. Pump station that way, so it'll have to go the other."
"Right." He studied her red face for a moment. "You okay?"
She gave him a rather cross look. "Fine. Let's go."
She took off and he followed her, a faint scowl on his face. He wondered how long it would be before she admitted she was having a hard time keeping up as she got older. He'd started to worry about her. Rhys and Anwen would never forgive him if anything happened to her. But she was more stubborn than he was. He supposed she had to be with a willful teen to handle.
It took them another two hours to round up the Weevil and get him settled in the holding cell. Gwen closed out the report and realized Jack was nowhere to be seen. Their new tech guru, Chris Hathoway gestured absently with a piece of pizza. One hand clutched the food and the other fiddled with whatever odd project he was amusing himself with this week.
"Gone already," he muttered.
He'd only been with them a couple of years and didn't know Jack very well. None of the new team did. Jack was careful to distance himself from them. But the observant tech nerd had noticed that there were particular days of the year when Jack was even more distant than usual. It had only taken digging up certain records to know why. He was glad he didn't believe in ghosts. If he did, he'd be scared to see how long a chain of them Jack Harkness dragged along behind him.
Gwen sighed softly. Then her lips pursed as she noted the date. August 19, Ianto's birthday. She shook her head faintly, chiding herself for not noticing sooner. All these years gone by and still he mourned. She supposed he could, quite literally, mourn forever. He'd be out in the city somewhere drinking himself into a stupor. She'd had half a mind to try and stop him from doing that this year, maybe ask him home to dinner with the family. But, as usual, he'd snuck out before she could nab him.
Evan had showered and gotten dressed without really thinking about it. He'd spent most of the day painting and had originally intended to continue until he passed out from exhaustion. Late in the afternoon, though, he felt the sudden inclination to go out. He had no idea where he was going, though. He hadn't been in Cardiff long, so he still wasn't very well acquainted with it.
Well, he thought, no time like the present for exploring, I suppose.
It was his nature to wander. Here he was 23 years old and a long way from the last foster home he'd been in out in the boonies of Wisconsin. He missed Kaye. She'd been his foster mother for longer than any of the many he'd had. But he had a wanderlust that was extreme. As soon as he'd turned 18, he'd hit the road, roaming all over the Americas. He'd gone home briefly three years back to support Kaye when his foster father, David, had passed away after an accident. She had begged him to stay but, somewhere deep inside, he knew he had to keep moving. He'd been wandering Europe for months now, seemingly pulled in random directions. He lived off of the inheritance David had left him, which was sizable and spit out a good deal of interest every quarter. He supplemented that by selling his art where he could. He sent most of it back to his agent, Jerry Straton, back in the States. It kept him from having to lug it all place to place.
As was the norm for him, he headed off without really thinking of where he might be going. He had a knack for ending up in interesting places just on a whim. So he set out at a leisurely pace, the rubber soles of his beat up lace-up boots thumping quietly on the sidewalk. He carried his messenger bag over one shoulder. It was black with a rainbow-scaled dragon emblazoned across the front flap and contained his sketching supplies, his little tablet computer, phone and some snacks. He meandered on into evening, mind wandering as much as his body did. He would stop now and again to take a photo with his phone or do a quick sketch of things he saw. Close to 10 PM, he looked up to find himself standing in a pool of orange-red glare cast by a sign that read The Drake and showed the faint shape of a fire breathing dragon. It was a pub. A lopsided grin touched his lips. Dragons. They were everywhere and that suited him fine. He liked them.
Well, he mused, I'll take that as my sign to rest a bit before I go back.
He rarely drank. Being a nomad who wandered the streets at all hours of the day and night, it just wasn't safe to have dulled senses. He knew the pub owner wouldn't let him rest there long if he just bought food, though. The food wasn't where their money was in any pub. It was merely a sideline to the booze. So, he decided the fish and chips smelled good enough and order a pint to go with it. He found himself a table off in a corner near the door and began nibbling at his meal. He hung about longer than he had intended to after the meal was done. He was nursing the beer much to the chagrin of the pub owner. The man was giving him dirty looks as more of a crowd wandered in. Normally he would just move along, but something made him hesitate. Something was stirring a vague expectation in him that he couldn't figure out. He felt like he was supposed to wait for something, but what? He'd only just started to wonder when he realized what it was he was waiting for.
Jack strode into The Drake with a purpose and that was to drink until he was numb and perhaps drown his sorrows further in a bit of fun if he was extremely lucky. He was so intent on the first part of that agenda that he didn't even notice the young man off to the left of the door who almost fell off of his stool at the sight of him. He got a whole bottle of vodka and a glass from the bar tender who eyed him suspiciously. He clearly wondered how soon it would be before he had to call the law to remove him. Jack thanked him, promised he wouldn't be a problem and found a seat as isolated as he could get.
Evan's jaw hung open and he stared at the newcomer. It was the same… all of it the same. The hair, the eyes, the lips, the delicate little cleft in the chin. No, he thought. It can't be.
One of the bar girls cleared her throat. "Can I get you anything else, handsome?"
"Uh, oh! Sorry. Um. No, thank you." He felt his cheeks heat and was glad for the dim lighting.
She chuckled softly, following his gaze. "Ah, so that's why you've been ignoring me. Can't blame you. He's definitely very easy on the eyes." She nudged him gently, "You should go talk to him."
He blushed darker. "Really?"
"Yeah, really." She gave him a wink. "You'd make a cute couple."
He took a deep breath, trying to will the redness in his cheeks to fade. Right, he thought. Why would I dream about him if it didn't mean something? But there was a little worm of doubt twisting in his gut. What if he just thought this was the man he'd been dreaming about and he didn't really exist at all? Damn it, if I don't and he walks away, I'll never know.
He took another breath and let it out slowly before tucking his things back into his bag and sliding from his stool. He caught sight of his wind tousled hair in the glass beside him and groaned at himself. He did his best to make himself presentable, smoothing hair and clothes back into some semblance of order. It would have to do. He swallowed a lump that had suddenly crawled into his throat and headed toward the man's table, beer in hand. As he approached, Jack's eyes rose up from the table top and slowly made their way to his face. Looking into those gorgeous eyes, even though he could feel the agonizing pain behind them lapping against his consciousness, made his heart race. They were the same eyes. He had no doubts about it now; those eyes that twinkled with impish light when he was teasing and clouded like a summer sky when he was upset. One eyebrow rose in a question when Evan hesitated.
"Something I can do for you?" His eyes raked over the young man again, appraising. Hmmm, he thought. Not bad. He might do.
"Um, I…." He wished he could slap himself for stammering.
"Have a seat. Your beer's gone warm. I'll get you a fresh one."
Evan sat rather awkwardly. "I… don't really drink much. I bought it because I knew the owner would run me off if I didn't." Oh, God… I sound like an idiot, he thought. And the almost hungry look in Jack's eyes was unhinging him further. It was a weird mix of elation tinged with fear. What if he was just crazy?
There was a faint twitch of amusement on Jack's face. "Okay. What can I get you, then?"
He waved the waitress over to order and then studied Evan intently. "What's your name?"
He offered his hand. "Nice to meet you. I'm…."
Before he could finish it, the words tumbled from Evan's lips. "Captain Jack Harkness." He managed to bite off the words before "You are Torchwood" managed to get out.
Jack pulled his hand back as if he'd suddenly realized he was about to touch a cobra. His eyes narrowed. "And how do you know my name?" He'd been through enough in the last few decades to make him a little more wary than he once had been.
Evan's eyes dropped and he saw the little brass airplane buttons on the coat Jack still wore despite it being summer. His voice was a little distant. "Even the buttons are the same…."
"Evan." Jack snapped his fingers under his nose making him jump. "How do you know my name?"
"I…I dreamed it."
Jack leaned back in his seat and crosse his arms over his chest. "Okay, who put you up to this? Gwen? Chris? Jules?" He poured himself a generous amount of vodka and guzzled it.
"N… no. I dreamed about you. I really did." The look on his face was almost pleading. He'd never told anyone about the dreams that sometimes made him cry, sometime made him blush. He'd been seeing the joys and sorrows of this man for as far back as he could remember and he had no explanation as to why. Now he feared he was going to be laughed at and it made his gut twist painfully.
Jack's head tilted slightly to one side in confusion. He was decent at reading people and this kid, whoever he was, at least thought he was telling the truth. "So what else have you dreamed about?"
He lowered his voice so that only Jack could hear over the music, eyes on his fingers nervously tracing the wood grain of the table top. "I… know what you do."
"Oh?" Evan nodded slightly. "And what would that be?"
Evan's eyes darted over the crowd. "Not safe to talk about here…."
"You're right." He got up so fast that he startled Evan who cringed a little. "Relax. Do you have somewhere we can go?"
"Good." He handed Evan his bag, left money on the table and guided him toward the door.
They were quiet on the ride to the hotel other than Evan telling him which one it was. Jack was familiar, so there was no need for further directions. Evan wanted to talk to him, to ask him questions so he could prove he wasn't just insane. But he wasn't sure if that was the right thing to do. All he was sure of was that the slightly spicy, warm scent wafting up from Jack and his wonderful coat was making him get a hint of shivery warmth that crept along his skin like static electricity. He caught himself staring at the man's profile, particularly his lips. When Jack cast a questioning glance at him, he blushed furiously. He'd just been forcing down the urge to reach out a finger to trace the lines of those lips.
Oh, my God! He chided himself. What is wrong with me?
Jack just kept driving. It seemed like an eternity to Evan. When they were safely inside his hotel room, Jack's eyes swept the room quickly, noting the neat piles of art supplies. Then, before Evan could utter a word, he was lightly pinned to the wall beside the door. His heart thumped a hard, fast bass against his ribs. The scent of Jack swirling about him made him almost lightheaded and, despite the fear scrabbling in his gut, it started to arouse him. Faint flashes of images from his dreams crept into the edges of his consciousness.
"Now," Jack's voice was soft and smooth as silk, but firm. "What do you know about me, Evan?"
He looked at him with the wide eyes of someone who might be sleepwalking. One hand gently cupped Jack's cheek. "I know you hurt, Jack." He froze under Evan's hand, suddenly looking very uncertain. "It's today. You need this today… so much."
Before Jack could protest, the young man's arms were about his neck and he was kissing him. A soft whisper of sound bubbled up in Evan's throat as he pressed his body closer. Jack's body overrode his brain from there. Logic and consternation be damned, this was one thing he rarely said no to. His coat slid away and so did his shirt. Some part of him was screaming that he was being stupid, but he ignored it under the tender ministrations of Evan's hands and mouth across his torso. Evan was looking up at him, eyes filled with… awe? Wonder? He wasn't sure.
"You smell so good, Jack." His mouth settled over a nipple.
"Pheremones…." It came out in a shivering sigh of breath as he moved them toward the bed.
The very first thing Evan became aware of was the wonderful, spicy scent that clung to his skin and the bed. There was warm sun streaming into the room. It made his eyelids red-gold as he rolled over, seeking the other warmth that should be there: another body in the bed. His brows moved together when he didn't find it. He sat up and looked around his room.
"Jack?" He slid from the bed, not bothering to cover himself. After all, when you've done some of the things he and Jack had done, being naked in front of that person just wasn't embarrassing, was it? He heard nothing. His heart began to sink as he peered into the empty bathroom. He let out a slow breath, leaning against the cool wall and shivering as he raised his hands to breathe that scent in deep again.
I might not ever have that again, he thought. And it was a thought that made him want to curl up and die. Nothing in his life had ever seemed so right and perfect as being with Jack had felt. He breathed in and out, slow, the way he did when he meditated. No, Evan. Just no. You aren't going to tear yourself up. The dreams never showed you what would happen if you ever found him. So you don't know.
In fact, the dreams had been almost like a movie all about the life and times of Captain Jack Harkness in full color, vivid detail though lacking in a soundtrack unless there happened to be music around Jack at any particular time. He shook his head slightly.
Resolved to not mope, he straightened and went through his usual morning routine of getting cleaned up before preparing to head out to hunt up breakfast. It wasn't until he came out, ruffling his night-black curls with a towel, that he noticed his phone was sitting out on the table. Jack had to have gone through his bag. It had been in his bag last night, hadn't it? He snatched it up and turned it on. The screen showed a message.
"You're not off the hook. I'll call you. J." He blinked slowly as he whispered it. Then the corners of his mouth twitched up. "He'll call me. That's something anyway." He paused, wondering what else Jack might have dug out of his bag. A sudden trickle of ill feeling crept along his spine. "Oh, no…."
He pulled the bag up onto the table from the chair and whipped it open. As he feared, his old, leather clad sketch book had been filched from it. It was the one he never showed to anyone, the one he drew the images from his dreams in.
"Shit…." He chewed his lower lip as he got dressed. There was nothing to do for it now. Jack had the book. He would call and Evan would ask for it back. It was simple. Wasn't it?
Gwen glanced over Stephen's report on last night's Weevil victim, but she wasn't really reading it. She was worried. Jack had come in not long after she had arrived at The Hub. That, in itself was a little strange. He usually didn't stay out overnight unless it was for a case. He always came home to roost. She imagined it was the way he kept even his most intimate acquaintances from getting too close these days. He didn't stay with them overnight. Not that it would make much sense for him to anyway. He didn't sleep. But still…. She knew he and Ianto had spent more than one overnight together.
What had troubled her most, though, was the very odd look on his face. He'd looked very out of sorts, the way a man looks when his whole world has gone topsy-turvy and he's not quite sure why. She tapped her foot under her desk for a moment, trying to decide if she could meddle without getting her head bitten off.
"Tea time!" Julianna "Jules" Wilkins appeared with a cardboard holder of cups in one hand and a bag of fragrant pasties in the other. Her cheerful demeanor faltered as she saw the look on Gwen's face. "Oh, you have that dour den mum look, Gwen. Should I be afraid?"
She managed a faint smile. "Only if you've been up to no good."
"I was a good girl while I was out." She wrinkled her nose in amusement as she set Gwen's cup of tea and swede pastie beside her. "I even got Chris his manky old cat soup burger." She pulled a smaller bag out of the larger and tossed it to him. He caught it without looking up. "I don't see how you can eat those nasty things."
He glanced up, peering at her over the top of his console. "Talent." A quirk of a grin touched his lips before he fell upon the hapless sandwich.
Jules set a meat pastie on Gwen's desk as well. "Care to see if you can stir the Captain out of his cave? He passed on breakfast. He's got to be hungry by now."
"Mmm. Will do."
"Wonderful! And I'll be down with the Crypt Keeper."
She smiled as she headed for the gangway that went down into the medical bay where Stephen Latimer held court. She was his assistant, acting as his hands for delicate operations. He'd been a brilliant surgeon once. But then he'd been damaged and his hands had gotten shaky. Jules had been his surgical assistant for a while before that, so it just seemed natural to for Jack to recruit them both and train the girl up a bit. She was rather odd, but there were few people associated with the sort of work they did who weren't. Still, she was just a bit too perky over the autopsy table for Gwen's taste.
Gwen looked at her pastie and then at the one intended for Jack. She debated whether she should eat hers first, then try to get Jack to eat? Or try to get Jack to eat first? She drummed her fingers for a moment. If I was Anwen she was dealing with, she'd walk right up and give her 'the voice which shall not be disobeyed' which, amusingly, worked equally well on Rhys. She doubted Jack would be that easy to cajole. Well, she wasn't above a little unfair use of psychology. She grabbed both pasties and her tea, made a cup of coffee precisely the way Jack liked it and headed up to his office with the whole lot balanced in her hands.
"Jack?" She tapped the door with her foot. "Open up. My hands are full."
In his office, den, well… everything room, Jack was startled out of his thoughts. "Be right there." He very quickly shut the sketchbook he'd been scowling at and set it aside before opening the door. At the sight of the food, he raised an eyebrow. "I… didn't order?"
"The good fairy Jules decided we both need to eat." She slipped past him and set his food in his side of the desk before setting in the other chair.
"Ah. I see." He resisted the urge to let out an exasperated sigh. Jules meant well, she really did. He didn't want to hurt her feelings or Gwen's, so he settled into his chair and took up the cup of coffee. No, he'd hurt Gwen's feelings more than enough running off and abandoning her previously… twice. He did his best not to do it unnecessarily now. Funny how he'd actually started to care about that kind of thing.
"So, how are you, Jack? You seemed a little… out of it this morning?"
"I'm fine. Really." Liar, liar, he thought.
She gave him a look, but said nothing. They ate in silence for a while and her eyes fell upon the leather book on his desk. "What's that?"
"A book." He said it deadpan.
"What sort of book? It looks hand-bound."
"It is. And it's nothing special. Just something I found."
Gwen knew that it wasn't any of Ianto's journals, which might have made sense. Those had been lost in the explosion at the original Hub. But Jack was obviously not going to invite her to look. "Mind if I look at it?" She started to reach for it and froze when his hand moved to cover the book.
"I do, actually."
He was starting to get just a little tinge of cranky in his voice. She redirected her hand to her tea. "Okay." She gave a faint shrug as if it was no big deal, but her gut instincts were giving her a whole chorus of alarm bells. What's got him so wound up, she wondered.
He sensed her unease. "Gwen, stop worrying so much. It's just…." His voice trailed off.
He looked a little embarrassed. "Yes. It was." The sympathetic look she gave him almost broke him. "Oh, don't look at me that way. I'm coping."
No, you're not… you're still hiding, she thought. She managed to not say it aloud. "Alright, Jack."
When she finally got the hint that she'd worn thin her welcome and left, he locked the door behind her, clear indicator that he wasn't to be disturbed unless it was of utmost importance. He did that a lot since they'd gotten this new Hub up and running. Gwen wore a look of concern as she went back to the main floor.
"He's in a weirder mood than normal." Chris opined, eyes on his screen.
"That's an understatement…."
Jack leaned back in his chair, eying the book warily. He wasn't sure what to think of it. It was almost full, every page covered in sketches, front and back. Some were small, like doodles in the margins. Others took up a whole page, sometimes two. All were done in a very clean, precise hand in pencil originally. Some had been carefully inked. They all showed things from his own life. There were things in there which no one else should know but him and the person he'd been with at the time. One inked image in particular kept nagging at him. The words 'First Kiss' were neatly written under it with a date. It was the first time he'd kissed Ianto in rather exacting detail. He reached out, flipped the book open to that image and left it open on the desk. He steepled his fingers against his chin as he leaned back again.
How the hell could Evan, a young man he was certain he'd never met before last night, know the things which were in this sketchbook? He'd said 'I know you hurt'. He'd known exactly what Jack needed: to lose himself for a little while in pleasure. He hadn't seemed to care much about his own needs. He had focused entirely on what Jack wanted. That was pretty weird when you considered that he was a total stranger. In Jack's experience, that just wasn't how it worked. Wild flings tended to be all about what you wanted from the other person for the most part. There had been something… eerie about Evan's warm brown eyes, something strangely familiar yet alien at the same moment. All in all, Evan had turned Captain Jack Harkness into a big seething ball of confusion and he was pretty sure he didn't like that at all. He wondered for a moment if he should have Chris research and see what he could dig up on the kid. Maybe he'd find some clue as to what exactly was going on.
Evan glowered at his phone through breakfast, as if he could will the thing to ring. Of course, he couldn't. He sat there for over an hour, pushing eggs around on his plate until they were cold, gooey and totally unappealing. Eventually he just nibbled at his cold, heavily buttered whole grain toast and drank his equally cold coffee.
"Eyes bigger than your stomach, duck?" The waitress was perhaps into her early 50's, a very grandmotherly looking woman with kind eyes. She'd been very nice to him.
"Something like that. I think I'm done." He gave her a rather sheepish apologetic look for the messy plate.
"Well, do try to get something more down later, dearie. No good for a young man to be starving all day, you know."
"I will. I promise." He knew he wouldn't have much choice in that. He'd always had to eat frequently to keep his energy up.
He smiled at her. Something about the way her eyes crinkled when she smiled brought to mind a nun in her black habit. Sister Abi. He hadn't thought about her for a while. He realized he wasn't even sure she was still alive. He was mulling that over as he paid his bill and wandered out onto the sidewalk. He'd left the kind waitress a nice tip.
He turned his face up to the sky. It was a little gloomy, but there was a break in the clouds just overhead at the moment. He sampled the breeze and caught a hint of rain. He hoped it wouldn't rain. He was too restless to go back to his room and he didn't like tromping about in the rain if he didn't have to. Rain in cities always felt… dirty to him. It made him want to go shower after it fell on him because it felt sticky and gross, not fresh the way rain out in the countryside felt. He sighed and headed back toward a park he'd spied which had been teeming with raucous young children behind its wrought iron fencing. He thought he might do some sketching there. That was how he spent a good part of the day. He was walking along with a pastie in hand, trying to decide where he would go next when a voice behind him stopped him in his tracks.
He couldn't help the smile. "Jack." But it left him when he turned and saw the look on his face. Tension was clear across his lean frame. He took a shaky breath. "You took my sketchbook."
He nodded. "And we need to talk. Come with me."
"Where?" He felt a faint twinge of unease.
Jack tried to not get exasperated. "I'm not going to hurt you, Evan."
"I know. You wouldn't… not on purpose." He studied him for a moment. "Is there hot coffee where we're going?"
Jack snorted softly. "I don't know, Evan, you seem to know me pretty well. What do you think?" That earned him a rather lopsided grin.
Evan scowled faintly as they drove along. He could feel… something getting closer. It was like being in a crowd and having everything everyone around you thought screaming into your skull. It had begun as a low murmur and it was building to a roar. It had started giving him a headache. Torchwood. The Hub. That had to be where they were going. The voices weren't normal. They were… well, alien and hard to push off.
Jack had sent everyone out of The Hub on various missions and errands. The hardest ones to displace had been Chris and Stephen. The rest were more than happy to be running amok in the open air rather than cloistered underground. He led Evan to the hidden entrance, an arm lightly about him as if he expected him to try and bolt. He needn't have worried. Evan was too engrossed in just being close to him, breathing in the scent of him. Still, Evan winced as they began to descend. He felt it when the scans hit him and the alarms shrieked in his ears, echoing through his skull quite painfully. Jack was taken aback. He definitely hadn't expected that. He checked his systems link and saw the warning of "unidentified entity". He shut off the alarms. Evan had backed to the rear of the platform, clutching his head with a pained expression.
"So loud in here," he whispered. "So loud…."
"The alarms are off, Evan." He advanced on him. "How come you set them off?" He was moments away from a total meltdown.
The lift had stopped when the alarms sounded, leaving them halfway to the floor and Evan with no escape unless he could fly. "I don't know why, Jack. I don't know…."
He grabbed him by the front of his shirt, pressing him to the back of the lift. "What are you? Who are you, really?" It was almost a growl.
Evan was actually afraid in that moment. Perhaps he'd been wrong and Jack would purposely hurt him. "Just… an orphan." He couldn't look at Jack's face, at the blazing anger there. "I can't tell you what I don't know, Jack. Please…." He was about to cry and he was ashamed of it. This wasn't going anything like he'd hoped for.
Jack let him go then, stepping back, perilously close to the edge of the lift. "Orphan?" Now he was more suspicious. What else would someone say if they wanted to get at him, worm their way under his skin?
Evan swallowed hard, feeling nauseous. "Yes. I'm an orphan." He rubbed at his temples. "Everything in here is too loud." Alien minds and energies permeated the place and it was overwhelming. It took him several very deep breaths before he could think straight again. "Can we go sit, please?"
Jack was struck by the weariness in his eyes as he looked pleadingly at him. He huffed. "Fine. No funny business." The lift lurched onward.
"I'm not feeling very humorous."
Once they were closed into his office, Jack picked up the sketchbook. "What the hell is all of this?"
"Dreams. I told you, I know you from my dreams. I've been having them as far back as I can remember."
Right. A likely story, groused Jack to himself. "So, you're an orphan who just happens to dream about minute details about my life?"
Evan blinked at him, incredulously. "You are a man who can't die who works hunting aliens no one else believes exists, but it's bullshit?" He actually let a soft bark of laughter slip out.
"Yes." Jack crossed his arms over his chest defensively. Then he leaned forward, dropped the book and slapped his palms hard onto the surface of the desk, causing Evan to flinch. "Who do you work for, Evan?!"
"No one, Jack! No one! I swear! I wish I knew what to tell you, but I don't! I don't know anything about where I come from! They found me in a trash bag in a dumpster in the middle of December, covered in blood. No one ever claimed me." Saying it out loud like that just opened the wounds up afresh and that was very clear on his face as he looked at Jack. "That's the truth. Sister Abi told me it was a miracle I lived because someone found me before the trash truck came."
Jack almost cringed. 'Miracle'. He'd come to despise that word. He let out his breath very slowly. This kid was either an award winning actor or he was losing his touch when it came to sizing people up. He was shaken no matter which it was. He looked from Evan to the book and back again. "What do you want from me?" He slumped into his chair, head pounding.
Now that read as an outright lie. Like most people, he had an easy tell: a look down and left. "I know better. What do you want?"
Evan took a shaky breath. He knew if he blurted out the whole truth, Jack would run so fast there would be no catching him. So… truth by degrees. "I want to help you. I want… somewhere I belong." I want you…. But he didn't dare say it. "I want a chance."
"So, you show up at random, jump into bed with me for… a job?"
"No…. Ugh!" He let his head thump back against the chair. "God, Jack… I'm not a prostitute…."
"Well, how would I know, hmmm? I don't know a damned thing about you." He tapped his fingers on the cover of the book. "And this… this is just downright creepy."
He gave him a sardonic look. "You think I don't know that? Look, I know you have access to things. You can look. The nun who handled my case since I was a baby is named Sister Abigail Ignatious and she works with St. Christopher's Children Services in New York. The last foster parents I had are David and Kaye Wells in Pinastoake, Winsconsin. My name has always had Evan in it, but they changed the last name every time they moved me. They said it was to 'protect' me. I have no idea what they think they're saving me from. I don't think anyone does anymore." He flicked his fingers at Jack's computer. "Go on, look it up."
"Those records can be falsified so easily it's pitiful…."
Evan stood up. "This was a mistake…. Look, if you think I'm here to hurt you, then lock me up down there with the Weevils, Jack. Just don't forget to feed me. I eat a lot."
Jack just looked at him, silence between them for a time. He stood and came around the desk. He moved around him, looking at him from different angles. He stopped in front of him, tilting up his chin and staring into his eyes. They stood like that for a while, barely blinking.
"Jack…." He tried to cup his cheek in his palm, but he pulled back. He sighed softly. "I only know what has already been, Jack. I don't know what's ahead. I know what I want to be ahead…." He blushed. "But that's kind of in your hands."
Jack shook his head slightly, taking another step back. "If you mean what I think you mean, you might not want to hang around. I don't think I can be what you're after."
He gave him a slow blink. "Maybe it's more about me being what you're after, Jack." He closed the gap between them. "Or are you saying you didn't enjoy last night?"
"Oh, I enjoyed last night just fine. But that was before I found your creepy book."
"Oh for…." The words stopped in an exasperated sound.
He was so wrung out that he was beginning to lose what patience he had left. On impulse, he snagged Jack so quickly that he was carried forward as he backpedaled. He had to be fast or he'd be in for a world of hurt. Jack ended up backing around to his own abandoned chair and falling into it. That put Evan in his lap, right where he wanted to be, truth be told. Jack tried to fumble for a weapon, but Evan grabbed his wrists, gently resting them on the arms of the chair.
"Stop," he said softly.
Jack stared into his warm brown eyes, not even sure how the hell this kid had managed to pin his wrists. But he found he didn't want to fight him at all. Somewhere in him, a last little grain of hope flickered. Small as it was, it was powerful. Their eyes stayed lock as Evan closed the distance and kissed him, tenderly first and then more ardently. When he finally broke the contact, Evan was shivering a little.
"Evan…." He was about to tell him to get off of him, but gentle fingers stilled his lips.
"Don't, Jack. You can't tell me you don't feel it. I know you do. You feel how right it is. Everything about you is so wrong, but this… this feels right."
The Doctor had said that… that he was 'just wrong'. Ianto had felt right, too. Just look how that had gone. Now he was really confused. He couldn't think of a single thing to say that made any damned sense. So, he did the only think he could think to do. He kissed Evan again. It lasted a bit longer and Evan had to pull back to breathe.
"I trust you, Jack. If it takes forever for you to trust me, I'm okay with it."
"But…." Again the fingers silenced him.
"David always told me I should live as if tomorrow is my last day on Earth because to do otherwise means you miss out on things you would never otherwise take the risk for. So, consider this the last wish of a man who may… or may not kick off this old dirt clod tomorrow."
Jack just looked at him, nonplussed. "Has anyone ever told you that you may be the weirdest humanoid to ever walk the Earth?"
"I'm an artist, Jack. Of course I'm weird. But, weirder than a Weevil? Really?" He laughed. "I don't think so." He slid from his lap, seeming to be listening to something Jack couldn't hear. "I hope you're ready to explain to the den mother why you have a boy in your room." He blushed a little. "A very excited boy…."
As it turned out, Gwen was stunned that Evan was running loose considering that the sensors had showed him as "unknown entity".
"Jack, what the devil were you thinking bringing him here?!"
"Thinking with that other head?"
"Oh! You are a piece of work, Jack Harkness!"
Evan was down on the main floor with the others and he winced at Gwen's ranting. "I didn't mean to cause trouble… not like that."
Jules looked incredulous. "Wow. I've never seen Den Mum blow up like that before."
Chris scoffed, eyeing Evan suspiciously. "That's because The Hub's never been breached by an unknown entity before…."
Evan had the good grace to look abashed at that. "Yes, well, I had no idea I was an 'unknown entity', either. It's not as if anyone ever told me. That's the bad thing about being an orphan no one claims. You have no idea who… or what … your parents may be."
Stephen scowled, looking at the results of the blood analysis he'd done. "What is the more apt term on the paternal side. Maternal components are clearly human. The other… well, it's not matching anywhere close to a damned thing we have on the databases." He scratched at the stubble on his cheek absently. "You, dear boy, are a mystery wrapped up in a conundrum."
Jules leaned in whispering conspiratorially. "That's your cue to run for the hills before Stephen turns you into a lab rat."
"Uh… right." He edged a little farther from Stephen, but found the way blocked by the bulk known as Alex Costas who tended to security issues within and without The Hub itself. The rather imposing man had shown up hot on the heels of Gwen and the others, looking none too pleased that Jack had turned off the alarms.
"Oh, relax, Alex. He's not going anywhere. He's much too smitten with the Captain to run off now." She grinned and winked which made Evan blush. Costas grunted softly and didn't appear to relax at all. Jules rolled her eyes and shook her head. "I swear, you take things much too serious."
"And you don't take them seriously enough," was the rumbled reply. "I still say he should be locked down in the cells….."
He was glad Alex wasn't running things. He moved to flop onto a sofa, sighing when he saw that Costas had palmed his gun when he'd moved. Lovely.
"Jack's right, you know. These records I've pulled on him can easily be planted," Chris said.
"You're not helping…." Jules scowled at him and he ducked his head.
"Just saying…." He shrugged.
It seemed a long while before Gwen ran out of steam and came down the stairs. She gave Evan a very tense smile.
"Well, I'm sorry to say that you are going to have to stay here, Evan." He opened his mouth to speak and clamped it shut again at a look from her. "Jack will retrieve your things from the hotel. Alex will set up a special ward for you."
"So… I'm being locked up."
Jules looked horrified. "Gwen… you can't! He's…."
"Not human, Julianna." Gwen cut her off. She only used her full name when she was really agitated.
She hopped off the counter she'd been sitting on. "He's HALF human and that's enough!" She gave Evan an apologetic look. "Sorry, Evan. I guess we don't get a say."
"If we did," Chris said, "I'd be voting for caging him,"
"Oh… knob off, Chris!" She stormed down the stairs to Stephen's laboratory.
With a heavy sigh, Evan held out his wrists. "Just lock me up, please. I don't want to cause more problems."
He had to give Gwen credit, when she said 'ward' she meant something that looked somewhat like a small apartment if you ignored the glass wall. They'd even made sure he had a television and art supplies. All of his electronics save for his little music player had been confiscated. He flopped onto the bed and tucked the ear buds into his ears. He wasn't sure how long he'd dozed down there before a soft tapping on the glass woke him. He rolled his head toward the glass without opening his eyes.
"Come to throw peanuts at the baboon, Jack?"
"No. And how did you know it was me without looking?"
"Your boots make a distinct sound on the gangway. And I can smell your pheromones. Apparently, I'm extremely sensitive to that smell. I wish you would have swiped the hotel sheets for me. Then I could have that scent in here with me all the time. You should bottle it up and sell it. People would go crazy for it"
He didn't mention that Jack thought loud as a Weevil, too. He had decided to keep that little ability to himself if possible. No point making them even more scared. He knew all too well how much people feared telepaths and empaths. Some of the foster parents he'd had clamored for him to be moved when they realized what he could do. So, he'd taken to hiding it most of the time.
"Evan, I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have brought you here…."
"I came here willingly." He stood and moved to press his palm against a vent hole in the glass. "It's okay, Jack. At least I'll get to see and hear you even if I can't touch you."
A shadow passed over Jack's features for a moment and then was gone. "If we can't figure out what you are, then I'll set it up so you can prove yourself somehow. I promise." He placed his hand over Evan's on his side of the glass.
"I'll take whatever tests can be devised." He sighed. "I wish you could come in here."
"You know I can't. Not yet." Evan just nodded. Jack reached under his coat. "Well, I guess there's no harm in letting you have this back." He opened the hatch in the bottom of the door where food trays normally passed through and slid the sketchbook to him.
Evan picked it up and clutched it to his chest like a baby. "Thank you. It's funny… this, of all things, is my one truly cherished possession. Thank you, Jack. I half thought you might destroy it."
He shook his head." I don't destroy art, not if I can help it. Besides, it's not mine to destroy. It belongs to you."
Evan gave him a wistful smile, then leaned against the glass so his nose was beside a vent hole. He breathed deeply. "I'm a glutton for punishment, teasing myself like this. But, I can't help it."
"We'll figure this out." He turned and retreated down the corridor in a sudden rush.
The whirlwind of emotions boiling off of him made Evan wince a little. Sorry, Jack, he thought. I didn't know it would be like this. He carried the book to the table and set it gently down, running his hands along the worn leather lovingly.
The next several days were absolutely the worst he'd ever had outside of being born. He was poked, prodded, scanned, sampled, and generally fussed with to the point he was getting crabby. Being in his little cage was becoming tiresome. He longed for air, the sky, the sunlight, the trees and, most of all, the low thrum of life moving around him as he wandered. It struck him as odd that he could feel so isolated and yet need that presence of other living things streaming about him. On the fifth day, he balked when Stephen came to take him to the lab.
"I won't go. Not until I get outside for at least an hour."
Jules sighed. "Not going to happen, Evan. I've asked. Sorry."
She really was. He could feel that much. Something in him felt like it was stretching in his skin, rolling about restlessly. He shivered a little. She and Jack had really been his only company. He didn't really count the others because they interacted with him on a strictly professional level. Jules and Jack actually talked to him like a human being.
"Are you well?" Stephen looked concerned.
"I… I think so?"
He really wasn't so sure. Last night he'd felt like his skin was trying to crawl off of him and had woken up sweating and disoriented. Jack had been standing at the glass, watching him with a mixture of concern and confusion. He'd slipped some chocolate to him, told him to try and relax and been gone again. He did that a lot. He came and went, apparently uncomfortable staying long at the glass.
Having no real options, he went with Stephen and Jules. They took more blood, hooked him up to more machines. One of them had so much magnetic force it made him vomit. To him it was like being able to feel every little fleck of iron in his blood spinning around. Stephen took pity on him then and let him go back to his ward. He hadn't wanted to cry so badly since he was a little boy. But he wouldn't. He refused.
Stephen compiled his data, shaking his head with a huff. He'd done every blessed thing he was capable of doing short of dissecting the boy and still he had no clue what exactly made the other half of the hybridization. He pinched the bridge of his nose wearily. Jules put a hand on his shoulder.
"We'll figure it out." She scowled. "I don't see why we have to keep him locked up. He won't hurt us. We're not sure exactly how Jack ticks and we don't lock him up, do we?"
"Oh, but they did originally. Victorian era Torchwood was not nearly as… civilized as we tend to be. They used to kill any alien that caused trouble back in the day."
"Barbaric." She spat the word like a curse. She scowled as a series of Weevil moans echoed up from the detention area. "You know, I don't think they like having him down there. I noticed that when we take him past their cells, all the Weevils cower back against the walls."
"Mmm. I've noticed, too. They're sensitive to flux in space and time. Evan generates that sort of disruption. I think that's what's making it so damned difficult to reach a conclusion. This may be beyond what we have here."
There were certain issues with being separate from the rest of Torchwood. Though Jack and Gwen had managed to get the declaration of their deaths reversed, they were still viewed rather unfavorably. That meant they didn't always have access to the top cleared technology unless they begged and borrowed or, in some cases, stole it.
Jules gathered up all of their data. "Well, let's go give your recommendation."
He nodded and followed her up to the meeting room. Jack was already there, his fingers laced before him on the table, thumbs tapping together. He looked up as everyone started to file in.
I don't care what they say, today. This isn't a damned democracy. I'm head of this unit and they'll do what I say or I'll replace every last one, fumed Jack silently. His face remained carefully placid. I know Evan isn't a threat. We can't keep him caged like that. Over the days, he'd watched him deteriorate and that, more than anything else, was eating at him.
Gwen wasn't fooled by his outward calm. She saw that telling little crease between his eyes that said he was shoving down a lot of anger and upset. "We're just waiting on…."
"Me," huffed Chris as he rushed in and flopped into a chair.
He took a deep breath and let it out. "I'm afraid I'm no closer today than I have been. The only thing I've been able to verify with certainty is that his brain activity is off the recordable ranges and his metabolic rate is nothing short of impossible, which is why he eats so much. Everything else I've tried comes back inconclusive. Frankly, I'm running out of options outside of… dissection."
"And that is not going to be done. Am I clear on that?" There was a bit of threat in Jack's voice.
"Perfectly. I didn't intend it." Stephen was a little taken aback by Jack's tone. I swear this has been a difficult for him as it has been for the boy, he thought.
Jules had been holding her tongue beside him, but she just couldn't do it anymore. "Look, the only ones who really do anything other than poke, prod or research Evan are Jack and I. No one else has bothered to really even talk to him other than to try and interrogate him." She shot Alex a dirty look and he smirked. "He's really very nice."
"Which is exactly what he'd want us to think," huffed Alex.
"I have real problems with someone whose parents can't be traced," said Chris. "The father could be… anything. For all we know he could be some sort of sleeper assassin or something. It's happened before."
Jack let them talk and debate back and forth for a few minutes before standing up. "File all of your reports. Your recommendations will be noted. However, the decision is ultimately mine."
Gwen's eyes widened. "Jack…."
He held up a finger. "No. My decision. And I'll take full responsibility if I'm wrong. Clear?" He looked each of them in the eyes and all they could do was stare at him. "Right. " He strode from the room, headed for the detention level.
Chris shook his head. "He'll get us all killed some day."
Gwen closed her eyes, rubbing at her face. "Unfortunately, that's probably as accurate a statement as anyone could make about Captain Jack Harkness."
"Well," Jules piped up, "at least it's bound to be loads more interesting than croaking out in some old fogy home."
Chris blinked owlishly at her and chuckled. "You are certifiable…."
"Yes, well, we already knew that, didn't we?" She reached over and pinched his cheek saucily before going to follow Jack.
Evan was waiting at the glass when he got there. "Jack?"
He let out a huff of breath. "Don't prove me wrong, Evan. I'm letting you out." He input the code and the glass slid up. Before he could so much as blink, Evan had his arms around him and was kissing him.
A bubbly laugh at the end of the corridor broke into their reunion. Jules was beaming. "Aww. See? He's just sweet as honey. Welcome back to the free world, Evan."
Evan blushed. "Thanks, Jules." His eyes went back to Jack. "I can go outside?"
Jack had never seen a more effective pair of puppy dog eyes. "Yes. It's night, though."
"I don't care. Come with me?"
"Sure." He pointedly ignored the looks the others shot each other as he walked up with his arm lightly on Evan's shoulders.
When they stepped outside, Evan took several deep breaths, savoring the cool air that stirred through his hair. "I need to walk. I remember a park…."
"This way." Jack gently guided him along in the right direction.
They walked in silence a while. "Jack, why did you let me out? We still have no idea what I am…."
"Because you were starting to go crazy down there and I couldn't stand it anymore." He didn't look at him.
They had reached the edge of a pond in the park and Evan stopped him by leaning lightly against him. "Thank you."
"So, what now?"
"I don't know. Can I have a few days to think about it?" Jack nodded, a bit of wariness coloring his thoughts. "I'm not going anywhere, Jack." He made him look at him. "I'm not leaving. I just need to figure out some things… like living arrangements."
"That's easy. Stay with me."
"I… suppose I could for now. No offense, but I really don't want to live underground forever. I need… this." He opened his arms to indicate the air, the world, everything.
Jack nodded. "What skills do you have, Evan?"
He chewed his lip. "I have some… psychic abilities. Psychometry, really. I can 'read' objects. I suppose the dreams count as something, but they're not premonitions or anything as far as I can tell. At least, I don't remember having any dreams that come true after I have them. I can file and write reports, cook and clean, wash laundry and that sort of thing. Kaye believed I should be self-sufficient as much as possible, so she taught me a lot of domestic things. I could probably learn anything you need as long as it isn't too steeped in math and complex technology." He shrugged a little. "I'm… open to possibilities and opportunities." He pressed close against Jack, wrapping his arms around his waist. "Can we go convince them that I'm not going to eat anyone's face or anything so they'll go home and give us some privacy?"
Jack chuckled softly. "You're shy?"
He blushed. "Yes, I am. I can't help it. Reserve is a by-product of being around a bunch of nuns as a child, okay?"
"Ah, I see. So… I shouldn't do things like this, when other people are around?" He groped his butt.
Evan laughed. "No."
"How about this?" He slid the hand around toward the front, making him yelp.
"Jack! I won't be able to walk if you do that…."
He grinned devilishly. "I could carry you back."
Jack mock pouted. "Oh, fine, spoil my fun then."
It hadn't been many days, but Jack had come to a realization in that short time that made him happy and nervous at the same time. Evan was right. It did feel so very right to be with him. He just had to make sure he never broke a very important promise.