A New Age Dawns
Chapter Seven
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.

A fresh pot of coffee before them, this time brewed to a strength more easily tolerated by mere mortals and a change of location to Ianto's office in the tourist office upstairs, and it was almost a bearable atmosphere around them again. The air was a bit less thick and somehow more breathable, as odd as it sounded. She was still working on clearing her head, but Owen, Tosh, and Ianto seemed immeasurably better by the minute. She hadn't quite gotten up the energy or the nerve to ask why they were recovering so much more quickly than she was.

Apparently while Ianto had dashed off to make or buy new coffee, he'd also picked them up breakfast. Fresh coffee (hopefully with no chance of alien contaminants), honey cakes, and bakestones, and she was a happier woman. She'd almost be willing to nominate Ianto for sainthood, if it weren't for that whole pesky Cyberwoman in the basement thing. Maybe she really should start trying to forgive him for that one of these days. No, she had forgiven him, she corrected herself; she was just having problems with the forgetting stage of the game. Buying the whole team treats like this for breakfast after the hellish day they were already having - and it wasn't even nine in the morning yet! - could persuade her to step up her efforts though. The man was a god of coffee, after all, as far as the team was concerned.

All she really wanted to do for a while was sit here and nibble on the treats and sip on the lovely, lovely coffee so generously provided till her head finished clearing, but that wasn't seeming too likely. Still, at least her head was starting to clear, and the sudden extra senses were dulling. Well, it was dulling somewhat, not enough to make her happy, but enough that she could function as normal. The urge to take a chunk out of someone's throat was fading, which was probably a good thing as far as she was concerned, the strange feeling of someone else's emotions in her head was starting to diminish, and the almost-voices were gone now that she wasn't sitting so close to the Rift Manipulator machine. That last point was actually bothered her the most. No-one else said a thing about hearing anything close to voices, just the prey or predator feelings, even if they weren't exactly voices. Not in the strictest sense of word, per se, and they were almost gone, so there was no point in mentioning them. She wasn't in the frame of mind to deal with the questions that would inevitably result from saying anything.

The only ones who might understand without too many questions were Jack - who was still missing but was usually willing to listen to his team's problem, most of the time, rather that risk any more life-threatening situations developing - and perhaps Toshiko. She'd had that telepathic pendant for a while after all. She didn't exactly have the telepathic alien tech to use an excuse, but she was fairly certain she wasn't going insane or at least no more than this job usually made her feel. It seemed like it was tied in with the prey and predator thing, given how it was fading. Her head still felt like it was encased in cotton or maybe shipping Styrofoam, but the food and coffee were helping. As long as she could resist the urge to tear into Owen or possibly serve Ianto or Toshiko up as a side dish to the honey cakes, she should be okay.

As it stood, she was keeping the urge contained by thinking of two things: how many ways Jack would find to murder her if he came back to find out she'd eaten half of the remaining team and bashed Owen's brains in like so much rat jam (She would be doing good to get off with just being shot to death like they did Ianto's cyber girlfriend), and reminding herself that neither blood nor meat were proper accompaniments for a breakfast of sweets.

"Pity the-"

She bit down on a bakestone rather viciously and chased it with hot coffee. She was not hearing voices. She wasn't, because she said she wasn't, and that was all there was to it. They were gone, were a product of sleep deprivation mixed with a very active Rift, and they were gone.

A small hand touched her arm, and she nearly started out of her skin. Following it up the connecting arm, she was almost surprised to see Tosh smiling nervously at her. & quot;I'm sorry," the Asian woman was saying. "The first thing we do after we get Jack back is make him start your psychic training."

She felt her head tilt slightly in confusion. "'Psychic training'?" she repeated. "What's-"

Tosh sighed softly. "It used to be standard Torchwood protocol, part of original training program-"

"Even before weapons training," Owen put in helpfully. She glanced behind Toshiko to see both him and Ianto crouched before the ancient-looking (but really not) computer terminal. From where she sat, she couldn't see what they were looking at, but that didn't really bother her too much for some reason. She couldn't drag up an ounce of care. For now, she was more than willing to leave any and all responsibility up to someone else, anyone else. She couldn't trust herself to lead her way out of a bag at the moment.

"Yes, even before weapons. There's not as much need for it here in Cardiff, though, so I guess Jack thought it could wait."

"He probably wasn't planning on us being so damn stupid and opening the Rift, though," she muttered before taking a large bite out from one of her remaining honey cakes, enough that she wouldn't have to try to speak for a while.

"So once he's back," Tosh continued after several beats' pause, "we'll make certain you get trained. It'll help you fight off this if it happens again."

If this happened again... Now those were ominous words. As she saw it, there was no "if" to the matter. There would be another assault like this one. Maybe not immediately, maybe not even the next time they went back into the main section of the Hub (Myfanwy wasn't going to feed herself, after all, and then there were even more important things than making sure the pterodactyl got her regular meals), but it would happen again. There was something teasing the back of her consciousness, hinting towards what the answer might be - just might be - but it stubbornly refused to come forward. Whatever it was, it felt like it was important, but it continued to elude her. No point mentioning that either. God, she really was slipping.

Jack probably never would have taken her on the team if she'd been like she was now when he first met her. She definitely wasn't at her best at the moment. In fact, she might be several degrees below her worst. There were probably corpses out there left over from Abaddon, that just hadn't been found yet, that were probably in better, more viable shape that she felt like she was. Breakfast was helping, but not enough.

The thought that kept coming back to her, more than even the homicidal thoughts towards her team-mates and friends, was that she would be okay if she could just get away from the Rift. How silly. Torchwood was there to cover the Rift, after all, not run away from it at the first sign of trouble. Though with their recent track record, running from it might not be a bad idea: at least that way, they wouldn't be the ones doing the exact thing they'd been told repeatedly never to do. Never mess with the Rift. How many times had they all heard it, at one point or another, during each of their tenures with Torchwood? Well, they'd disobeyed that first cardinal rule and now they needed to work on cleaning up their own mess. And find Jack. They needed to work on that as well.

Well, she was certainly being a downer for the group. She forced a smile and tried to pretend it was not pained. "Absolutely. Once Jack's back, psychic training. Sounds fun." Actually it sounded perfectly miserable because how did one go about doing psychic training anyway? And would it involve Jack steering her around by the hips as he'd done with weapons training? Not that she'd complained then or would complain now. That particular part of her training hadn't been too bad. Okay, not bad in the least. Sod what Owen had said anyway: no way Jack was gay; no gay man enjoyed manoeuvring women around like that nearly as much as Jack clearly had.

"At least you'll have Jack training you," Ianto opinioned, drawing her attention back over to the two men. "He'll probably go easy on you. I had Yvonne Hartman. She was either going for complete control, utter insanity, or creating an army of psychic warriors."

"Well, that explains a lot," she heard come from Owen. "Not the psychic warriors or complete control, but the utter insanity."

The other man somehow resisted the urge to roll his eyes; she didn't know if she could have in his place. "Yes, Doctor Harper, I'm completely insane. I'm going to come to your house and turn all your clothes inside out, switch all the CDs in your collection so that they're all in the wrong cases, and mismatch every pair of your socks. You have discovered my evil master plan. Whatever shall I do?" The words were so deadpan that she had to give a quiet giggle almost against her will. That felt good. How long had it been since she'd laughed?

"So what's on the agenda for today?" Gwen had to say she felt a bit more relaxed now, like she could handle more than breakfast. She may not be back up and ready for a full-blown Torchwood adventure, complete with running for one's life and shooting at things that belonged in nightmares, but she was ready at least to brave the world beyond coffee.

"Well, first off, someone needs to call the police and have them call off the missing persons report that was filed on her last night," Owen retorted, shooting her a sardonic grin. "Who knew not showing for a few days would be cause to make the boyfriend worry? This would be why I live alone."

"Except when you're... entertaining guests?" Somehow she managed to say it completely without sarcasm. Amazingly she didn't even feel angry at the thought. She wasn't quite numb, but the anger just wasn't there.

"Even then," he returned with a smirk.

"I'll call Andy and have him rein in the manhunt." That was the most she was giving him though. She wasn't going home. Not yet. If she went home, Rhys would want explanations, and she didn't really have time for those. Even if she did, what would she say to him: 'Sorry I haven't been home in a week, honey. My boss died, got better, and got kidnapped, so I couldn't be home for tea'? It just didn't work like that. So she couldn't go home, not until they'd found Jack, and even then, he would probably have to send her home to make her go. "What else is on the agenda?"

"I'm going to finish working on my secondary program today, to track police chatter and the media for Jack." Tosh frowned in thought. "While I'm at it, I'll add parameters so that it will search archives as well. See if maybe I can find if the Doctor has dropped him off somewhere - somewhen. Sorry, I can't get used to saying that. Time travel... It seems a bit like science fiction, doesn't it?"

She offered up a hesitant smile. "It's just the best I could come up with. I'm not certain it's the right answer. It just feels like it is." She winced, catching herself on her words as she found a bit more attention than she'd strictly like on her again. "Sounds a bit daft, doesn't it?"

"What is that: copper speak?" Owen demanded. "'Feels right'? Daft is a mild way of putting it."

"Owen?" She smiled as she spoke. "Do you want me to hit you?"

"I never imagined this was going to end up being an abusive relationship," he bemoaned aloud, apparently completely uncaring that this could constitute outing their former relationship in front of their co-workers. She couldn't help grinning. "I say something, so you threaten to hit me, so I have to say something, and the whole vicious cycle continues. How bloody tragic. Someone really should put it on EastEnders."

"Sounds more like one of those bad American films," came completely unexpectedly from the other man. A laugh escaped her again, still completely by surprise. Why was Ianto suddenly so good at making her laugh? A new talent, or was she just getting better at deciphering a well-hidden dry wit? Maybe it was just that she never was quite expecting something even vaguely funny from Ianto and kept being surprised into laughing. "One of the ones with... whoever the big actress in America is right now. They change so quickly."

"I thought it was Jennifer Aniston again?" Toshiko offered almost hopefully. She looked a bit happy as well; they all did. That was good. This was the most relaxed they'd all been in quite a while.

She shook her head, amazed to still feel a smile on her face, careful to keep her voice teasing; it wouldn't do to hurt the other woman's feelings. "That's been a while, Tosh."

"Shows how much attention I pay to the tele, doesn't it?" With the smile still on her face, the Asian woman glanced around at the rest of them. "So my program and Gwen's police report... What else do we need to work on today?"

Owen stood slowly, looking like he was feeling a bit stiff and more than a bit s ore. "I've put off calling the Prime Minister and U.N.I.T. long enough. Torchwood Two for that matter as well. They need to know about Jack. He's had long enough to wander back home on his own. Maybe they can even help us find him." He groaned, loudly and theatrically. "So I'll probably be on the phone all day trying to get through."

"If you talk to Bambera, good luck," Tosh offered with a faint grin. "I think she liked Jack-"

"Everybody likes Jack. Even the people who don't like Jack, like Jack." Apparently Owen was also paying no attention to tenses. Just as well. She didn't want to think of Jack in the past tense either. Present and future only worked just fine by her. Jack was probably going to outlive everything on this planet anyway, as she figured it... not that she'd really thought about it till now. Jack's immortality, as it were, usually didn't exactly play on her mind.

Tosh giggled, actually giggled. That, in turn, made her own smile grow just a bit. "All the same, if you talk to Bambera, she'll probably be upset with you for us losing Jack."

"We didn't lose him, so to say. It's more he got taken right out from under our noses. Some of us more literally than others." She threw her last bakestone at Owen for the comment. "Thank you very much, Gwen," he finished, popping it in his mouth. "None the less, we didn't lose him, so Bambera can just piss off."

The other woman laughed. "You've obviously never talked to Bambera, have you? You are so in for it."

"Well, that's me, after all: winning friends and influencing people is the name of the game as far as I'm concerned. What about you, Tea Boy? Plans for the day?"

"The Weevils won't exactly feed themselves, nor does this office mind itself."

"You mean we actually get tourists?" Gwen glanced around. It wasn't exactly welcoming by any stretch of the imagination, and she couldn't imagine a tourist desperate enough to stop in here, except maybe - a very strong maybe - one that was completely and utterly lost. How lost could one get with the Millennium Centre right in front of one, though? Of course, she'd lived here all her life, so perhaps she had an unfair advantage. "No offence, but I can't imagine it."

"It must be my charming personality and irresistible wit."

"Now there's a laugh," Owen cut back in. "I'll trade you feeding the Weevils for calling Torchwood Two." Tosh giggled. "What? I don't like the guy."

The Asian woman leaned over to stage-whisper conspiratorially, "Owen's relationship with Torchwood Two might as well be the stuff of legend. No love lost there."

She cast her eyes back over to him, and he shrugged one shoulder in answer and repeated, "I don't like the guy. So how about it, Tea Boy? Weevils for Torchwood Two?"

Ianto didn't even bother pretending to think it over. "It's a deal. They seem to prefer you to me anyway." She might have imagined the nervous/guilty look that passed over Owen's face, it went by so quickly, but somehow she didn't think that was the case. She wasn't going to mention anything though. Ex-lover and still co-worker wasn't exactly in the acceptable range for expressing a huge amount of worry for someone. "All the same, though, I'll wait to call him until closer to evening." She knew all of them looked at the door when Ianto spoke again. "Just in case."

Just in case Jack walked back in that door at some point during the day, she finished to herself. That's what they were all really waiting on. They would all breathe a bit easier once he was back. Even when Jack didn't know something, it was still good to have someone who at the very least knew how to lead at the helm, instead of the four of them bumbling along as best they could, trying to plug in the gaps and make do. A team was nothing without a leader, and right now that's what they were teetering on the verge of: nothing, being nothing, becoming nothing. The thought oddly wasn't as distressing as it should be. There was something, hiding deep inside her that told her one simple but heartening thing: Jack would be back. Their leader was not gone for good.

"If that's the case, then maybe I should hold off on Bambera and Saxon until later," Owen hedged. "As you said, just in case."

Ianto nodded, like this was some sort of a bloke understanding. "Just before the ending of the working day."

"Of course." Owen pushed himself to stand, pressing the key to open the corridor that lead down to the rest of the Hub. "Gwen, come give me a hand with this, then you can call your copper buddies."

She hesitated for a brief second. This did sound like Owen being lazy, since Ianto did this every day on his own. On the other hand, Owen did have a bullet wound through one shoulder and had recently taken a nasty tumble that had been at least partially her fault. And she was in no great rush to call Andy. There would be another set of questions there that she was none too sure she wanted to have to deal with coming up with believable answers to: where had she been, why hadn't she called Rhys... were people going to start falling through time again? This would at least be enough of a distraction that she could come up with what she wanted to tell her former partner. "Sure, but don't count on me going in those cells for you. Nothing you can say will persuade me to do that."

Gwen followed him down the hallway to the lift, rocking back and forth on the balls of her feet as it descended to the main floor of the Hub, hands jammed in the pockets of her jeans. A floor down, he finally spoke again. "Good job, with laughing at Ianto's piss-poor jokes." She pulled a confused face at him, glancing over out of the corner of her eye, one eyebrow raised. "No, seriously, I wasn't sure I could, and till Jack's back, we're going to have to play the whole team thing a lot closer than usual. Even the tea boy."

"He hates it when you call him that," she stated blandly, barely paying attention as the lift doors opened, followed by the rolling door and the gate, and they stepped through to pick up the meat kept in a separate refrigerator behind Owen's medical lab. "He thinks he should have earned more of your respect than that."

"Well, that would be what he gets for thinking." She wasn't buying it for a minute. She was currently able to ignore the hungry predator feeling that had been there before and wanted to come back only by focussing on this sense of what she was saying was right and that Owen knew that and that he probably didn't hate any of them nearly as much as he was trying to pretend.

"Not just him," she muttered under her breath. He thought he was doing so well with his hiding away of those pesky worried emotions (worried that this team was falling apart already, worried that he was letting Jack's trust letting him back on the team down, worried that he was further betraying Jack, worried that he wouldn't be able to be Jack for the team, worried that he wouldn't be able to hold them together), but she could see them, as clearly as if they were written on his face. It was like the induced feeling of predator that something had given her had woken up something else in her. Still best not to mention it. Not yet. This was something best brought directly to Jack himself, she decided, carrying a bucket of meat down several more floors to the cages.

Owen pushed open the door to the row of cells where the Weevils were currently kept, where she'd put Rhys to try to keep him safe from the end of the world - and there was something there that shouldn't be, locked carefully away behind a glass wall. "Owen?"

"Yeah?" he answered distractedly, his attention clearly on the Weevils before him.

"When did that thing get here? And where did it come from?"

15 July 2007

These late night finishings and updates have to quit. I'm killing myself for work.

Thanks again for all the reviews (I'll get caught up in a brighter part of the day with replying to them) and the hits. Over 100 hits in a single day - I'm starting to think you guys might like me or something.

More to come soon as I slowly work off my deficit. And many thanks to Katsuko1978 for the beta-read.


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