A New Age Dawns
Chapter Five
by Apollymi 

Series: Torchwood
Pairing: General
Rating: 15
Word Count: 3592
Note: The title comes from the Epica album Consign to Oblivion. Yes, I still suck at titles. This is the first of my fan novels for Torchwood. It is set to bridge the gap between Series 1 and Series 2. Whether or not it will be Series 2 compliant is left to be seen, but it does take into account information released in "The Sound of Drums" of Doctor Who.
Summary: Set immediately following End of Days but prior to the beginning of Series Two, Torchwood Three's leader is gone. What will happen in the meantime?
Disclaimer: Doctor Who and Torchwood belong to the BBC. I'm just borrowing.

Gwen was downing coffee like it was going out of style. She'd come in this morning with enough to go around, as had Ianto, and she'd already finished both cups. With some concern, Toshiko had to wonder if she'd even slept the night before, watching the other woman as she in turned eyed Ianto making coffee. ("Jack's industrial-strength coffee", their byword for the coffee the leader enjoyed despite being thick enough to eat through a spoon, was generally best when one drank it as quickly as possible before the taste really sank in. Before Gwen had joined, there had been some discussion of whether or not it could replace motor oil in the SUV. Tests had been run on various confiscated cars, but nothing had been successfully concluded, other than an engine or two had fallen out a few kilometres down the road. Owen still blamed the coffee to this day.)

Still Gwen had had two large coffees now, before any of them had finished their first, and it looked like she was planning on working her way through an entire pot of Jack-grade coffee on her own. And next to the coffee pot and mug in front of her on the conference table were a few stacks of papers, thankfully typed; she still had trouble with Gwen's handwriting from time to time.

"Did you even bother to sleep last night?" Owen groused, dropping down into his usual chair and flipping through the pages. Out of curiosity, she sank down into her own chair next to his and opened the packet Gwen had assembled.

She knew Gwen had gotten in after her and had gone straight to her desk and started sorting papers into what was apparently these packets. Obviously she hadn't gone home (and she hadn't come back here), so she must have stayed up at whatever hotel she stayed at, compiled all this, and printed it there. It was all neat and organised and almost completely unlike any other document Gwen had brought up since her first one, before she'd figured out that professional reports were rather low on the priority list.

"You know, Gwen," Tosh began hesitantly, "when I asked you to go somewhere and sleep, I was hoping you'd actually sleep."

"I did, a little," the other woman answered as both she and Ianto took their own chairs, opposite Owen and Tosh. "It may not be a lot of help, but I worked up a profile on the Doctor."

She could only look down at the pages before her in shock. Profiles had been done on the Doctor before - she was sure they had been, even if she'd never read one - but they'd never done one. They'd never seen the need to do one themselves, but then the need had never really arisen for one... till now.

Like any of Gwen's reports, the first several pages were nothing but photos. She knew to expect that; they all did. But then none of them had ever opened a folder to see the most current face of the Doctor, as clipped from CCTV staring up at her. How strange that he was looking directly at the camera too. What were the odds of that? A variety of other pictures followed, of various men that Torchwood or U.N.I.T. had tapped as the Doctor. Interestingly, though, there was no picture of the Doctor she'd met, just a photocopy of a picture dated 1914. "What about-"

Gwen opened her mouth to say something when Ianto slipped in neatly. "I ran a check last night. Apparently shortly after you met him, Tosh, a computer virus was released from somewhere in London. It wiped out all images of the Doctor on the web. Apparently, it was unable to bypass Torchwood's firewall programme though. If you will recall, you spent several weeks after Albion reinforcing the firewall."

Now that he mentioned it, she did remember that, though if she recalled correctly, Jack had never mentioned why she was having to do that. All he'd said was that she needed to do it, and maybe he'd mentioned a virus.

"Convenient timing, that," Owen commented dryly. "Think the Doctor tried to erase himself?"

The other man shrugged self-deprecatingly. "Perhaps. He did a good job. The files we got from U.N.I.T. were the hard copies the virus obviously couldn't get to. Any others they had were destroyed. Our files, of course, were protected by Toshiko's firewall."

"Not any real surprise then. U.N.I.T.'s on-line security isn't the best," she commented quietly. "So this picture you have of him? Is it really from 1914?"

"As far as I can tell, it's authentic. It was given to Torchwood - Jack, in particular, logged it in - by a Caroline Finch, widow of the late Clive Finch. Until his death, roughly a year prior to the bombing of 10 Downing Street, he ran a website dedicated to the Doctor. He even managed to secure images of the Doctor we didn't have..."

"At least not till he went and bit it, and the old lady gave Jack his stuff," Owen summarised. "What's so important about the picture?" He was a bit extra grumpy this morning; he probably hadn't slept much either. That he was pouring himself a cup of the industrial coffee proved her point.

Gwen fixed him with a hard look, the "ex look" she'd dubbed it. "First, it dates Tosh's Doctor over 90 years before she met him, and second, it was taken the day before the Titanic sailed."

"Which came first: the Doctor or the disaster?" Ianto intoned solemnly, lifting a picture of the curly-haired Doctor and the Doctor she'd met to compare.

"Exactly," the Welshwoman replied. "These are just some of the pictures I found of the Doctor, but there are others. I have two theories on this. Either 'the Doctor' is a title that's passed on father to son," Tosh nodded, as it was a theory she herself had come up with, "or he can change his face."

Finally Owen sat up a bit straighter, suddenly paying a bit more attention. What could she say? She couldn't exactly blame him. She was paying closer attention as well. "What? Like a chameleon?"

"In effect. U.N.I.T. files seem to indicate that he changes his face and body at times when he should have died, at times when a human would have died. They saw it happen at least once, from what I'm gathering. Considering that he's obviously an alien, no matter how human he looks, it makes a degree of sense."

Tosh nodded slowly, sinking back to slump in her chair once more, barely paying attention to Gwen pouring herself another cup of coffee and Ianto rising to put another pot on. "A chameleon... It makes sense. It's just that it's so easy to forget he's an alien when he looks so human."

"Perhaps," Ianto spoke up again, "it's like the invisible lift, how people can't see it unless they're looking for it. Perhaps the Doctor has something similar, so that people forget he's alien."

Gwen nodded, sipping from the still steaming cup in her hands. "Perhaps. It also looks like the Doctor from Canary Wharf is the same Doctor that both Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth met." She looked up, about to speak, when the other woman continued, "We know that the TARDIS can move around the Earth. Presumably, it's also a spaceship, of some sort. But I was thinking: Bilis Manger could move about through time. What if the Doctor can too? Maybe the TARDIS is also a time machine. It would explain the overlapping timelines."

"If that's true, then he could have taken Jack not only anywhere..." Owen began.

Ianto finished his thought: "...but also anywhen. How are we supposed to fight that?"

"I might not be right," Gwen jumped in before either she or Owen could speak. "I'm still the newbie, after all. If Torchwood can't figure him out in a hundred years or Tosh in two, I'm definitely not going to." She reached back and set a comforting hand on his arm. "I'm probably wrong, Ianto."

A though occurred to her, and so she spoke up after the other woman. "And even if she is right and the Doctor can travel in time and space... He has all of time and space at his command, and yet he keeps coming back to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He likes them. He has a regular predilection for them. He'll be back here and now sooner, likely, rather than later. If he doesn't have Jack with him when he shows up..." She deliberately trailed off, glancing over to Owen.

"Then we'll just have a little... chat with him till he 'fesses up," he finished. "And if he's left Jack in the past somewhere, then we just wait a bit and he'll walk back in. I mean, Jack's immortal, right?"

The implication there was that Jack could walk back in that door any minute. She wasn't going to be the one to rain on anyone's parade and mention that, if that was the case then he'd have certainly been back by now; he'd have found a way to at least show up and tease them about managing to lose him so utterly. If he'd had long enough to have thought things up, someone - probably Ianto - might get a snog. Of course, someone might have also gotten shot if he'd had too long to think on it... but he'd almost definitely be here by now. Jack wouldn't leave them hanging for two days, not when he knew how they had to be worrying. No amount of petty revenge would be worth making them feel this frantic. Jack could be tough, after all, but he was rarely cruel.

"And it's not like he could take Jack to the future," Owen was continuing. "It's all... fluid and in motion, right?"

Gwen rolled her eyes and tossed an emptied sugar package at him. "That's Star Wars, idiot."

He threw it back. "Like you said, at least I have an idea. I'm not just sitting here twiddling my thumbs."

The packet flew back across the table, bouncing off Owen's shoulder, and nearly landing in her cup. Tosh grabbed it before it could do any further damage. "I'm not exactly twiddling my thumbs here. I want to make sure we find Jack, and who knows? This profile might help."

"You said it yourself. In a hundred years, no-one's figured out the Doctor. What makes you think you're going to be the one to do it, when no-one else could? Just because no-one else has been a former copper?"

Okay, maybe she should have let them keep throwing the empty slip of paper. It obviously had been doing more than she'd counted on for keeping their venom in check, she belatedly thought as Gwen began to push herself to her feet, her body held stiffly in anger. "At least I'm not giving up on him."

And Owen was on his feet as well. "And what's that supposed to mean?"

How the hell had those two slept together for as long as they had and not murdered each other was quite beyond her reasoning skills. It might be worth doing a psychology paper on, if she were interested in psychology at all. She could probably build a thesis on comparing the attraction of opposites in human beings, much the same as it worked with magnets. And of course, likes repelled, why she herself would never sleep with any of them. Perhaps humans were just giant magnets; the theory could bear some scientific exploration, if she ever developed the time to do any experimentation. Locking Gwen and Owen in a room could go a long way to prove the opposites attract theory. Who could she lock up to check the likes repel though? That would take some looking into.

"I mean, you lot were just ready to give up on him after Abaddon. You never believed me when I said that he was going to wake back up. You didn't believe me then that he couldn't die. Are you just going to give up on him now?" She was practically shrieking by the end.

And suddenly everything made a lot more sense.

That was why Gwen was pushing herself to the breaking point? The twit actually thought they might leave Jack dangling out there, wherever - whenever - the Doctor had him? Of all the dim-witted ideas she'd had to date, including taking Suzie on a driving tour of the country and "sneaking" her way into the Hub that first time as a pizza delivery girl, this one could arguably be the most dim-witted.

"Why the fuck would you think that?" he growled.

The look she shot him across the table would have incinerated a lesser man. Thankfully, of course, that wasn't him. "You shot him, Owen! One shot and he was dead and you kept shooting him!"

"I didn't see you stopping me!"

Wrong thing to say, he immediately thought. That was about all he had time for. There was a split second where Gwen's eyes darkened, then she took a swing at him. He lost all points for dignity by collapsing back in his chair, which immediately tipped over backwards, so that he sprawled awkwardly on the floor. At least he managed to dodge Gwen's killer right hook, though. He'd seen Jack laid out by it; he had no wish to find it being practised on him. A little loss of pride was probably worth avoiding that.

Of course, he was none too certain that however bad his jaw might have hurt from a punch would be worse than how badly his shoulder was now throbbing. Apparently he'd managed to come down on it wrong or too hard or something. He couldn't quite forget that Tea Boy had shot him a few short days ago most of the time, not with the mostly dull ache that persisted in the area, but yesterday's activities - chasing down Charlie, getting his cranky ass in a cage downstairs, not to mention a less than pleasant and in fact rather restless night's sleep (such that it was) - didn't exactly add up to the most comfortable feeling at the moment. In fact, he would really rather like to shoot both the Tea Boy and Gwen right now. Yeah, that would be nice: let them see how it felt for a while. It would do nothing more than serve them right.

By the time he'd pulled himself back into a sitting position, albeit now on the floor instead of a chair, everyone else in the room had apparently played fucking Ring Around the Damn Rosies. Tosh had been next to him, but now she was across the room, apparently trying to talk Gwen's temper down; and that was a woman who should have been born a redhead as he figured it. That, or she was just bloody insane - or she had a crush on the good Captain Jack, which would no doubt upset the Tea Boy, who was apparently making sure sure he hadn't bled through his bandages again yet. Which probably meant Ianto was enjoying his handiwork.

And that was when it suddenly occurred to him that they were a catalogue of the walking wounded. The same day the Tea Boy had shot him, Tosh had sliced her own hand open to get them the codes for the Rift Manipulator, which had been a bit of a bust anyway with how it kept not being complete, no doubt thanks to that asshole Bilis Manger. Ianto's and Gwen's wounds were a bit harder to see. Ianto's full-time shag had died a few times, one of them by their hands - Owen's hands - and had now been kidnapped. Gwen had held her boyfriend's corpse, seen him alive again, seen Jack die, seen Jack wake up, and been less than a minute late to save him from the Doctor. Those two might not be physically wounded, but neither of them were going to get better off antibiotics and painkillers. Ianto would probably be helped by them managing to retrieve Jack, and while he was no psychologist, he was willing to place bets that seeing Jack - and Jack telling her to go home and see her boyfriend - would do her a world of good.

And they were supposed to be the ones going after the Doctor? They might as well sign their own death warrants in their own blood. They certainly weren't going to be able to do Jack a lot of good in the conditions they were in, banged all to hell and back either physically or emotionally, much less somehow rescue him from the alien that had him. Gwen was right, in a way: now he did feel like chucking in the towel. There was just no way they were going to succeed at this, at getting Jack back, even if he was somewhere they could find and not on Mars a hundred years ago or something. And if that was the case, then Jack was buggered - and not in any sense the man would enjoy - given the luck just about every government on t his planet who had sent something to the red planet, including Britain herself with Guinevere One; he was going to be out there a long, long time before Earth got any sort of space travel between planets set up. And if Jack really couldn't die, then he would really be up shit creek sans paddle.

"It doesn't look like you're bleeding again," Ianto informed him, "at least not from what I can see with your shirt still on."

"It's going to take more than that to get the shirt off of me, tea boy," he muttered in return, "especially with that banshee over there out for blood."

It was as much a complaint as it was a statement of the miserable pain he was in - and as it was a test of Gwen's current mood. If she was still pissed off, there would be a surly bite to chase the banshee comment. If she was starting to calm down, either she would let it slide or he'd get off with just her pulling a face at him. The latter was what he got: almost amused annoyance with a side of exasperation.

"Did that feel odd to anyone else?" Tosh asked. How odd. He could almost lose her voice over his own rough breathing and his pulse beating loudly. Was Tosh's voice always so quiet? No, not all the time, but sometimes she did try to make herself as small a target as possible. At times like that, she even made her voice small. Like something tracking her couldn't pick up the fear miles and miles away. Tosh's fear would be like the perfume that's smell seeps into everything around it: permeating the world around it till it was impossible to think for it. And she was making herself a small target now, clearly nervous about bringing his and Gwen's attention back to her. Even her movements to calm Gwen were clearly as non-threatening as she could make them and still be near the woman.

The Welshwoman shrugged nonchalantly. "I want to hit Owen, so I tried to hit him." She blinked, obviously thinking something over once again. "It wouldn't be the first time I've wanted to hit Owen, but it's the first I've tried it. I never imagined - in all the times I've thought about hitting him - that if he dodged, I'd want to kill him with my bare hands, though."

"You'll have to forgive me if I stay well across the room from you then, Gwen," he replied. Definitely odd. And he both wanted to strangle her himself, just utterly choking the life out of her to watch the light go out behind her eyes, and drag her down to his autopsy room and shag the life out of her on the same slab he usually reserved for corpses and experiments that resulted in rat jam. He shook his head to try to clear it, but the thoughts persisted. "Toshiko, what would you and the tea boy?"

Well, the tea boy was obviously none too pleased with being continuously called that, if the narrowing of his eyes were any indication. When he spoke, though, his voice was utterly even and bland. "My first thought was get out of here or make myself a small target."

"Hide, hide, before the big bad wolf finds you," Toshiko whispered. "You too?" Her eyes were wide. Scared eyes, rabbit eyes.

"Not exactly those words, but definitely get out of the something big and the something bad's way before it could decide to eat me." Dark eyes, not afraid or hiding it well, turned to him. "Obviously you and Gwen got a slightly different treatment."

He managed somehow to nod. "I felt like I was the big bad, like I could conquer the world and devour anything weaker than me that crossed my path. It's not entirely dying down yet."

"Same here," Gwen spoke up, her voice a bit shaky. His probably was as well. Her pupils were dilated wide, from what he could see, watching Ianto like a lioness sizing up the gazelle that was going to be her dinner. Two hunters, two prey animals, small space. It'd be so easy. So very, very easy.

11 July 2007

This is what happens when you try to work on a story at work, get distracted, and try to come back to it at 11 at night: something out of left field hits you. I seriously didn't really see this coming - and if you did, share the subconscious mind reading trick with me. I need to know more of what's going on in my own character's heads.

There is a little nod in here to two 'ships I enjoy. Amazingly enough for being the slash addict that I am, I'm a Jack/Gwen fan. The other 'ship is my beta reader's pride and joy: Owen/Ianto.

Thank you to everyone who has reviewed. I'm not quite to my next ice cream treat with the hits, but I'm getting there. I'll get around to answering reviews tomorrow I hope. I'm going to try to finish getting caught up then, though, so no promises. Plus I'm actually being busy at work, so that makes a difference in how much time I can spend writing.

Hopefully no more till 11 writing sessions from here on out, though. Knock on wood.


[ Prologue | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | Epilogue ]