I don't own The Tower and the Hive, Torchwood or Spooks (MI-5)
"We're going to need petrol soon."
Aisling closed her eyes and focused. "Should be fine."
Zaf quickly pulled into the services station and set about filling the car.
When the car was full, he stuck his head in the window. "I'm going to get something to eat. You coming?"
"Yes, of course," Aisling replied climbed out. "I definitely need to walk around."
Zaf ordered them tea and sandwiches while Aisling wandered around. He carried the food over to Aisling and led her to a table.
"I don't suppose there is any chance you'll explain to me any of that business in the car?"
Aisling took a nervous sip of her tea. She wasn't sure she could tell Zaf the truth about herself. These Torchwood people were after her and Zaf no doubt knew what they did, so he had to know there was something about her.
But she really liked Zaf and she was sure there was something between them. He might not want anything to do with her if he thought she was some sort of freak. On the other hand, he was helping her. He didn't have to. None of them did. She still wasn't entirely sure why they were helping her.
She took another sip of her tea and met Zaf's gaze over the rim of the mug. The earnestness in his big brown eyes decided her. She put the mug down and began to speak.
"Do you think you'll get home?" Zaf finally asked after hearing a condensed version of Aisling's story.
"I don't know. I hope so," she said in a faraway voice. She leaned her elbow on the table and rested her chin in her hand. "I can't help wonder if maybe these Torchwood people actually want to help me."
"I suppose that could be possible. I don't know anything about them, but Harry clearly does and he's trying to keep them away from you."
"Do you think I should try to talk to them? See what they really want?"
Zaf looked at her. "I think only you can answer that."
She caught her bottom lip in her teeth and then picked up her tea and drained the cup.
"Let's go back. Talk to Harry. Perhaps he can set a meeting up for me so I can talk to Torchwood."
Zaf nodded and stood. "If you insist." He held out his hand and helped her stand. She stumbled slightly as she stood and fell against Zaf. She straightened up and her eyes caught his. She felt her heart begin to pound and her throat felt as though it were closing up. Without thinking, she pressed her lips to his. Zaf began to kiss her back, but then gently pulled away.
"We probably shouldn't do this," he said softly and stroked a finger down her cheek. Aisling felt herself blush. She couldn't speak, so she merely nodded.
"Let's go," he said and escorted her back to the car.
The screen on Ianto's laptop suddenly flared with brilliant light, made an odd humming noise, and then blew out a shower of sparks. Gwen let out a small scream and Ianto cursed as he flipped the machine away from himself and into the footwell.
"What the hell was that?" Jack demanded as he slammed on the brakes and slid the SUV to the curb.
"My laptop has blown up," Ianto complained. "One moment it was fine, I'd actually got a hit on that signal and then 'fwomp'," he ranted, trying to imitate the noise the computer had made before the shower of sparks.
"Damn!" Jack hit the steering wheel in frustration. He twisted around in the seat.
"How long will it take to fix?"
"It's fried. I'll need a new one."
Jack sighed and met Gwen and Ianto's expectant gazes.
"Fine. We're going to go and have a talk with those spooks again and this time, they will cooperate," he snapped in a disgusted tone. He pulled back out and cut a U-turn, ignoring the blare of horns around him, and headed back to Thames House.
Adam and Ruth barely managed to slip into the Grid relatively unnoticed in all the bustle. Ruth went to the back of the room and slipped into Malcolm's shadow while Adam strode over to where Ros stood, surveying the bustle with her arms folded across her chest and an angry look on her face.
Oliver Mace stood in the middle of the organized chaos with a look of smug self-satisfaction on his face, pointing and directing the people who were rushing around.
"He got here about half an hour ago, took great pleasure in informing us of Harry's arrest," she muttered to Adam under her breath.
"Has anybody heard from Harry?" Adam asked her in a low tone.
"No. Oliver Mace," Ros spat his name, "has forbidden any contact. He's gathering what he calls 'evidence' that Harry was conspiring with terrorists." Ros snorted her opinion of Mace's accusations. She glanced at Adam out of the corner of her eye. "You know something."
"The prisoners were removed before the fire, so they could disappear and be tortured. Mace is obviously covering it up and getting rid of Harry is just a bonus. We uncovered evidence that someone from Section D might have been involved."
Ros' eyes widened slightly, but she kept her mouth shut.
"If we don't all get locked up, we can look into what Ruth and I found. We'll have to keep it to ourselves for now." He paused. "And see if we can figure out a way to get Harry out of this mess."
"Well, Adam, nice of you to join us," Oliver Mace said in an oily tone. "I trust you and the team won't give me any reason to arrest the lot of you."
His lips turned up in a small smile that didn't reach his eyes.
"Of course, not, Sir," Adam replied in a neutral tone.
"And you weren't here earlier because…."
"My nanny called. There was a problem with my son."
"I see, well…" Oliver looked around as his officers began to file out through the pods. "I don't have to tell you…" he looked around, fixing each of the team with his gaze, "I'll be keeping an eye on you."
He snapped back around to face Adam. "All of you." He flashed the same cold smile before he strolled out behind the agents.
Ros looked at Adam.
"They're setting him up for murder," Ruth said as she left the corner where she'd been hiding. "What if...what if I put myself in the frame instead."
"What?" Adam asked in surprise. Ros raised her hand to silence Adam.
"We release the microfilm. Say that I'm Fox. Say that Harry was just protecting me his..friend...lover whatever you like. They let Harry go."
"It won't be that simple," Adam told her.
"Oliver Mace is on a witch hunt," Ros put in. "He's never going to fall for it. And Harry will never forgive you going to prison for him."
"I'll have to take that chance."
"Maybe we can help," a voice spoke from behind them. "We don't like that slimeball of a JIC chairman Oliver Mace any more than you do. Besides, we can make a trade. We get you Harry, you give us the girl."
They turned around to see Jack, Gwen and Ianto standing behind them.
"How do you propose to help us? We already have a plan," Adam challenged.
"For one thing, your plan requires one of you take Harry's place. We should make it look as though MI-5's involvement was faked, perhaps that Oliver Mace was setting you up," he glanced at Ianto who nodded.
Ros barked a laugh. "How exactly are you going to manage that?"
"Our toys are better than yours," Jack said to her in a smarmy tone. Ros rolled her eyes.
"We need to fake a photograph of Mace meeting whoever you want the fake agent to be...perhaps Harry since he's already a suspect?" Jack suggested. "But we need it to be just bad enough to show that it's fake."
"So it looks like Mace is trying to set Harry up," Malcolm spoke up.
"Yes. Do you have anything else?" Jack asked.
Ruth looked at the others. "Well, we have this piece of microfilm."
"Ianto," Jack said and gestured. Ianto gave Jack a look, but walked over to Ruth.
"May I see it?"
Ruth nodded and handed him the small square of film. Ianto held it up to the light and squinted at it, then brought it close to his face and scrutinized it closely. Finally, he lowered the film and looked at the others who were watching him expectantly.
"I can alter it, no problem. Anyone will think Mace had someone create a fake piece of microfilm for him."
"What about the others who were involved?" Ruth asked quietly. "And the prisoners?"
"They'll be easy enough to find and get released. As for the rest, you know what Mace is like, he'll make sure he finds some way to bring them down with him," Gwen said as she opened her laptop.
"And we end up being the heroes who uncovered it all," Adam stated.
"I'll get started," said Ianto. "I could use your help, Malcolm."
"Hold on, no one starts anything just yet. I believe the deal was, we help you, and you help us."
"No, you aren't laying a finger on her," Ruth said in a deadly quiet voice.
Jack moved in front of Ruth and looked down at her. "Then we don't help and somebody goes down."
"I don't care. I've already said I'm willing to take Harry's place. You butchers aren't getting your hands on her," Ruth snapped as she pushed at Jack's chest with her forefinger.
"We aren't going to hurt her," Jack argued through clenched teeth.
"Oh, please," Ros snorted. Jack rounded on her.
"She doesn't belong here. She needs to go back where she came from. We can do that."
Ros folded her arms and narrowed her eyes at Jack as she shook her head. "I'm not buying it."
"How dare you judge us when you don't even know us," Gwen countered, getting in Ros' face.
"You're a group who thinks you're above the law, above everything, it's inevitable."
"We have saved lives; we have saved this planet…" Gwen began, her voice going shrill. "Arrgghhh, ungrateful."
She turned and stalked away from Ros to avoid punching the woman in the face.
Suddenly, tempers flared and Jack, Gwen, Ianto, Adam, Ruth and Ros were embroiled in a full blown screaming match, complete with waving arms and pointing fingers.
Jo and Malcolm looked at each other and backed away from the raging storm that had swept up the others and watched.
"Stop," a voice said. The word was barely audible, but resonated in the heads of the arguers. Silence filled the room.
"I won't be the cause of all this fighting. I won't have someone hurt on my behalf," Aisling said in a soft voice.
Jack guiltily lowered the fist he'd been lifting to punch Adam with.
Jo walked over to Zaf, who had an odd look about him. "We thought you were hours away."
"How did you get back so fast then?"
"You don't want to know," he replied and Jo noticed he looked slightly wild-eyed. He clearly didn't want to say anymore about it, so she didn't push it.
"Where is Harry?" Aisling asked. "Ahhh, I see. You must help them," she told Jack. "I will go with you, after." She paused as he was nodding acknowledgement of her words. "Can you really send me home?"
Jack's eyes widened, but he quickly covered his surprise. "What are you, some kind of telepath?" he asked, half joking.
"I am the best kind of telepath, I am a Prime," she replied, drawing an air of authority around herself that made him nearly salute despite the fact she stood there in baggy jeans and a t-shirt.
"You could help us with Mace," Adam broke in as he put a hand on Aisling's shoulder. "You could help us get Harry out."
"I don't see how I could," Aisling said, her confusion evident.
"You could convince Mace to turn himself in and clear Harry's name," Gwen put in.
"Yes," Adam agreed.
Aisling looked at them. It was very near a violation of her ethics, to use her telepathy in such a way. But she wasn't at home. She was in a strange world, on her own. She wasn't even sure she could get home. They had helped her, an alien stranger they had no real reason to help. Harry had helped her. Torchwood would of course assist in this plan to save Harry, but if she helped, it might be less messy and would guarantee that Harry's name and his team would be cleared of any suspicion.
"Very well, I agree to try. You must understand that my abilities have been…unreliable. I cannot guarantee that I will be successful."
"Understood," Adam said. "And thank you." He turned to the assembled teams. "Get to work making us some evidence people. I'll call Mace and tell him we found something."
About an hour later, Oliver Mace strolled through the pods. Gwen and Ianto ducked behind computer monitors on desks in the back while Jack ducked out of sight down the hall, pulling Aisling along with him.
"Adam," Mace greeted as he approached. "What is it that you've found exactly?"
Adam proceeded to show Mace the photo and the microfilm.
"What is this actually supposed to prove?" Mace sneered.
"That you set Harry up. You had those men removed from Cotterdam and then you burned it down so they would be thought dead so you could torture them."
"Preposterous!" Oliver snorted. "This isn't any sort of proof." He smiled a small, smug smile at Adam. "It was Harry, conspiring with terrorists. He's going to be locked up for a very long time." Mace drew the last three words out to make his point.
"I really think you should lying. Confess. Admit what you did, and that Harry is innocent."
Mace began to laugh."You are as deluded as Harry."
Aisling peered around the corner and studied Oliver Mace for a moment. Then she leaned back out of sight and closed her eyes.
"Good luck," Jack whispered.
Aisling focused and concentrated, willing Oliver Mace to change his mind, to confess and reveal the entire plot surrounding Cotterdam.
"Confess," she muttered under her breath.
Oliver's expression suddenly changed. Adam glanced over at Ros who moved to stand next to Adam.
"Did you have something to say, Oliver?" Ros pressed gently, her voice soft and encouraging.
"I..." Mace broke off and looked helplessly at Ros. "What's...I...it was me, it...it was me. I engineered the whole thing, with the help of some others," he blurted. "Always hiding behind their rights, getting away with violent acts of terrorism. It's time to put an end to it!"
He looked around at everyone, his eyes wide and slightly wild. "It must STOP!" he pounded on a nearby desk for emphasis and then turned on his heel and stormed out.
"Do you think it worked?" Ruth asked.
"He's in a car now, on his way. He's going to tell everything," Aisling told them. She rubbed her head and quickly sat down.
Zaf hurried to her side and took her hand.
"Are you okay?"
"I'll be fine. It was just harder than I thought it would be."
"Here, drink this, it should help," Ianto said as he placed a bottle of juice on the table.
"Thank you," she said.
"We've done what we agreed to do, we should go," Jack said.
Aisling looked up at him. "I'd like to stay until Harry gets back. I want to thank him for helping me. I owe all of you a great debt of gratitude," she said as she looked at each member of Harry's team, meeting their gaze and giving them each a small nod.
"It's the least we could do," Adam said.
"If we're going to stay here, we should go get something to eat. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm starving," Ianto remarked.
"I'll go with you," Jo offered. "No telling how long until Harry gets back."
Ianto glanced at Gwen and gestured, she gave a small shake of her head and turned back to her laptop monitor. Ianto shrugged and walked out with Jo.
Ruth sat down next to Aisling.
"I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you've done."
Aisling lifted her head and looked into Ruth's eyes. "I know," she said softly. "I also know that you should be together," Aisling didn't have to say who she meant.
Ruth looked down and began to nervously twine her fingers together. "But the gossip," she said and glanced up.
Aisling shook her head. "They just like seeing the pair of you happy. Take a chance, Ruth, you deserve it."
Ruth gave Aisling a small smile. "I'll think about it."
"Think hard," Aisling teased.
"I found them," Gwen announced. Ros and Adam turned to look at her. "The prisoners, they're in Egypt. Oh, and look at this..." she said and slid the laptop around so everyone could see. There was Oliver Mace on live television, telling all and sundry about his master plan. "He looks a bit crazed now, doesn't he?"
Aisling blanched and turned to Zaf. "Maybe I pushed him too hard."
Zaf shook his head. "Nah, I'm sure he'll calm down once he's locked up," he reassured.
Ianto and Jo returned a short while later with pizzas and everyone settled down to eat and wait for Harry.
Aisling caught Jack staring at her yet again. She stood up and walked over to where he sat at a desk away from the others. She leaned her long frame on the desk.
"So, what do you plan to do with me?"
"Honestly? I don't know."
She sighed. "You can't send me home, can you," she said, a statement rather than a question.
"I'm not entirely sure we can, no," he admitted.
"Are you going to kill me?"
"Not if we don't have to."
She grimaced at the brutally honest answer, but she had to appreciate it. She nodded.
"You could be useful, I suppose. We could...make you part of the team."
She furrowed her brow in suspicion and looked at him. "Are you serious?"
He shrugged. "Well, I really don't think you're a threat. Clearly, you're disturbed by even the tiniest bend of your rules, so I think you're probably okay. I don't want to kill you and I'd rather not have to lock you up. Besides, with your...abilities...you wouldn't stay locked up for long if you wanted to go."
She couldn't help the small laugh at his comment. He smiled.
"So, if we can't send you home, you could become a member of Torchwood."
"Couldn't I stay here and work for them?" she asked with a gesture at agents, but her eyes went immediately to Zaf before she quickly looked back at Jack. He noticed the direction of her gaze.
"It would be tough," he told her. "They're subject to considerably more scrutiny than my team."
She considered what he said, but her gaze made it's way back to Zaf.
Jack put a hand on her arm. "You could visit him, you know. Cardiff isn't that far from London."
Aisling's head swiveled back to focus her attention on Jack, but she could feel herself blushing. She had just opened her mouth to say something when another voice cut through the room.
"Doesn't anyone bloody work here?" Harry demanded to know.
"Good to have you back," Adam stated and shook Harry's hand.
"Good to be back. Seems Oliver admitted to everything," Harry remarked wryly.
"Harry," Ruth said simply with a small smile.
"Ruth," Harry said. They stood there a moment, unable to tear their eyes away from each other. Suddenly, Ruth stepped forward, grabbed Harry's face in her hands and kissed him soundly.
"Welcome back," she said when she let him go. She could see from the corner of her eyes everyone around her hiding smiles and she blushed.
"Err...thank you," Harry said breathlessly, staring at her in surprise. "Uhh, right," he began, trying to recover his composure.
Aisling approached him. "Thank you for your help. I'm going to leave with Torchwood. They've promised to try to send me back where I came from," she told him.
"Of course," he said and gave her a look of concern. "You're sure you'll be all right?"
"I think so, yes."
"Good," he said. He looked away from Aisling and over at Jack. He narrowed his eyes and his expression said 'you hurt her and you'll be sorry.' Jack pursed his lips and nodded to say 'understood.'
"If you need anything, you know where we are."
He raised his hands and gave her shoulders a squeeze. "Take care."
Zaf suddenly bounded up behind her.
"I'm going, too," he announced.
Harry's eyebrows went up and he shot Jack a questioning glance.
Jack shook his head, his expression one of confusion and he raised his hands as he shrugged."I don't know," he mouthed.
Harry turned back to Zaf. "Is that wise?"
"I just...it sounds...interesting," he finished lamely. Ros and Gwen gave identical snorts and Zafar's face darkened in a blush.
"Right," Harry said, drawing out he word to show he knew exactly what about Torchwood Zaf found so interesting.
"I don't have any objections," Jack said, finally coming to Zaf's defense as he walked over to where Harry and Zaf stood.
"Zafar Younis is a good agent, they don't just grow on trees," Harry protested. "I can't have you coming in here and headhunting my team."
"Ah, ah," Jack said, lifting his finger and shaking it at Harry. "He volunteered, I didn't ask."
"Not at all. I didn't even give him the slightest bit of encouragement."
"Didn't you?" Harry questioned with a gesture towards Aisling.
"Now that's not fair and also not my fault," Jack countered as the two men walked towards Harry's office.
"They'll be bickering all night," Ros remarked sourly and turned on her heel to leave.
Adam walked over to Zaf. "You know Harry will let you go."
"I know. I'll miss you guys."
"I'm sure we'll run into each other again," Adam remarked. He clapped Zaf on the shoulder.
"I guess I should go pack," he mused. "Oh, my flat," he suddenly realized.
"We'll take care of it," Adam assured and waved Zaf away.
"Where will I..." Zaf began.
"We'll take care of it," Gwen said in the same tone Adam had used.
"Great, thanks," he said and left.
"Do you have anything you need to pack?" Gwen asked Aisling.
"I have a few things at Ruth's house. Just a little bit of clothing, nothing much. I arrived with nothing at all so..."
"Well, let's go pack your things then, and we'll call Zaf and go pick him up and then head off to Cardiff, yeah?"
"Okay."Aisling looked to Ruth for confirmation. Ruth nodded.
"I'll get my coat and keys."
"Ianto, are you..." Gwen began.
Ianto snapped his hand into the air. "I'll wait for Jack," he snapped.
"Please yourself," Gwen said. "Sheesh."
Once at Ruth's, Aisling folded the few clothes she had and put them neatly into a small bag Ruth loaned her along with the toiletries she'd acquired.
"Do come back and see me," Ruth instructed.
"I will, as soon as I can."
"And I do hope you and Zaf can be happy," Ruth added.
"Me too. Pretty soon, I may not even want to go home."
"But if they figure out a way?"
Aisling shrugged and looked out the window, settling her gaze on the moon.
"I don't know. I guess I'll just have to cross that bridge when I get to it," she replied and smiled.