A New Age Dawns
Chapter Eleven
by Apollymi

Series: Torchwood
Pairing: General
Rating: 15
Word Count: 3464
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.

The Himalayas... Well, Toshiko had always said that she wanted to see them at some point in her life. She'd never thought that she'd actually get to go, much less go on someone else's ticket with someone else paying her entire way. That the government might be paying for her to go there never crossed her mind, though maybe given where she worked, it should have. In the years she'd been with Torchwood, though, it had never happened; she'd been to all corners of Wales, England, Scotland, and parts of Ireland with Torchwood, but the job had never sent her out of the country before. Besides, Jack would have probably never allowed it, not if it meant he'd be stuck in Cardiff with Owen and Ianto and only Suzie to play mediator between them in the days before Gwen joined, and after that, things had just been going non-stop that it seemed they scarcely had a chance to breathe before something came up again: if it wasn't fairies, then it was cannibals, or sex aliens, or spaceships parked in Cardiff Bay, or homicidal robots, or any number of other things.

Still, such short notice! Apparently Mister Saxon wanted them on a plane within the day, and there was one waiting to take them off shortly after two in the afternoon. It only gave them a few hours to get their things together and set the Hub to order. She supposed it was bad to be glad that Ianto was having to figure out what to do with the Weevils. The pterodactyl could just be let out to hunt for her own dinners. Jack and Suzie had trained her not to eat people, something she didn't want to think about how they'd accomplished, though it had eventually been done. No-one would be eaten by the pterodactyl if she was let out, but they might end up missing some household pets - but there was nothing she could do about that on such short notice.

As it was, she was scrounging to find her thickest winter coat and wondering if it would be thick enough. It was warm enough for Cardiff winters, and this one had been particularly mild so she'd let her warmest coat drift to the back of her closet. At least she'd managed to turn up some gloves and a scarf or two. That would be helpful. If worse came to worse, she supposed, she could always buy clothes once they landed. Cardiff just probably wasn't the best place to acquire winter clothes for the Himalayas. Well, they'd just all have to make do as long as they could till they could find something better. Every last one of them were good at that, she expected.

Finally! There was the coat! She pulled it off its hanger and carefully placed it in her bag on top of her other warm clothes. At least it hadn't been June when Mister Saxon asked them to go to the other side of the world. She would hate to have to get into the boxes she usually packed her non-seasonal clothes away in for something to keep her from freezing to death in Nepal. She wasn't bothering to properly fold and place everything in yet. Right now she was just worrying about getting in it all located and at least in the vicinity of her bag while also juggling the phone and trying to explain to her neighbour that she was going to be out of town for a while and wouldn't he be so kind as to step in occasionally and make certain everything was okay and that no-one stole her car.

After she got off the phone with Mister Davies, she still needed to call her parents and let them know what was going on. She'd stop by to see them, but time was short and growing shorter the more the man on the other end of the phone droned on. Finally she managed to find a break in her idle but ceaseless conversation, made her apologies and goodbyes, and ended the call. With exaggerated carefulness, she set her phone on top of the television and complained to herself that the man didn't half have a gob. He was definitely one of those 'why use one word when twenty work just as well' type of people, the type that got her nerves on a fairly regular basis, especially when she'd had a long, hard day at work.

For the past few months, it seemed like that was all that Torchwood Three had had: long, hard days and sometimes nights at work. She really should suggest to Jack if - no, when - they got him back that they start recruit more staff. Five people was barely a skeleton staff and was only just barely that, so increasing the staff - hopefully with real people, not alien constructs sent to monitor the Rift from this side - should be sufficient to cut individual workloads. In turn that would lessen the likelihood of burnout, as well as giving them a chance to specialise more than they were at this time. Of course, if she was going to present this idea to Jack, she would have to find a way to put it that didn't sound like corporate doublespeak. He had a notorious dislike of double-speak that rivalled his hatred of fairies.

It was starting to look like she had everything that was available here to get already in her bag or in its general vicinity and mostly ready to go, once she got it properly folded and in the tote and set just inside the door. Setting herself to that task, she picked up her mobile and dialled her mother's number out of habit. It would be the best place to start with her more important calls, she decided, listening to it ring and folding her clothes up both neatly and as small as possible. Nonetheless, as the phone rang quietly in her ear from its precarious position balanced between her shoulders, she did have to hope everything was going well for the rest of the team.

There was a quick click and she involuntarily straightened as a woman's voice spoke in her ear, "Moshi moshi?"

"Moshi moshi, okaasan. Toshiko desu..."

It really all came down to timing, she supposed. She had gone with Owen to his place to get his things together, still feeling a bit guilty for making his arm worse (and he was probably completely enjoying every moment of that), so he was driving her back over to her flat (her and Rhys's flat, even if she hadn't been there for a week). She really couldn't help it, but she was dreading going there after this long away. What was she going to say if Rhys wasn't there? Just raid the place for her warmest clothes and maybe, maybe leave a quick note? 'Haven't been kidnapped but am out of country. Clean out the fridge, and don't forget to buy more milk. ~Gwen' perhaps?

But even worse, what if he was there? Then she'd have to explain where she'd been the last week and why she had never gotten around to contacting him to let him know she was all right. The truth just was never going to cut it for that. Rhys would never buy 'My boss died and it was kind of our fault, so I had to wait for him to get better, and he woke up three days later, but then he was kidnapped, so we've been trying to find it', not in a million years. Shame how the truth was not usually the best answer. But no easy lie immediately came to mind either, so she was left with no real answer to give if Rhys was there. And now she hoped he wasn't.

"I can smell you worrying from over here," Owen commented in a monotone. "Knock it off. It's annoying." From the driver's side of his car, he glanced over at her. "We'll handle your Prince Charming once we get to it."

"You're coming up to help?" she had to ask in dumb-founded shock. She could count on one hand, with four fingers left over, how many times any member of Torchwood had been in her place, and that had been Jack, when the fairies had made a right mess of the flat, burying her living room in foliage and flower petals. At that moment, she'd understood why he disliked fairies so much. At that moment, she had too. "I wouldn't exactly say no, but you know you don't have to. I can pack my bags on my own. Been doing it rather well on my own so far in fact."

He laughed, a sardonic little chuckle that, when they'd been sleeping together, had gone straight to the part of her brain that liked to scream 'sex now', smirking at her across the car. Hard to believe just two months ago, she'd have probably made him pull over so she could screw him senseless. Now it just made her smile back. "I'm not agreeing to any heavy lifting or shit like that. You can just forget about that now. I'm back-up against your boyfriend, and that's it."

"My knight in shining armour," she drawled out. "What would we do without you?"

"Oh, that one's easy. You'd all have bled to death long ago. Well, maybe not Jack. Or he would have bled to death and woken back up. How does that work anyway?"

She shrugged. "He didn't exactly give me details. All he said was that he couldn't die."

"It's more like he dies and then wakes right back up. I wonder how it happened: some kind of bleed through from the Rift we should be worried about, or knowing Jack, maybe an alien STD."

She couldn't help it and burst out laughing. "Now that sounds right up Jack's alley," she giggled. "Life lesson there then: if you get screwed by aliens, then you'll really get screwed by aliens. Do you think it - the alien, I mean - thought Jack was a good enough..."

"Gwen?" Owen interrupted, and she trailed off to look over at him curiously. "I don't want to talk about Jack's sex life. In fact, it's a topic I want us to stay off of for the rest of my life."

"Oh really? That's why we had to talk about it my first day?" she shot back. It was true, after all, and it had shocked her till she realised just how much of an enigma Jack was to his own team. Instead of talking about the aliens they had seen that day, when they went out for drinks after work, they discussed their theories on Jack, ranging from the outlandish ("He's a pensioner they brought out of retirement; he just moistures a lot, why he looks so good for his age") to the serious ("Wasn't there any other way to get the fairies to leave than for him to just give them the girl?") and everything in between. And now that the other three knew about his immortality, she could foresee many new topics of conversation about Jack coming up, with theories as wild as an alien STD or as serious as Rift radiation no doubt coming up then too. And maybe this time, Ianto might even join them; he'd surely have ideas on the matter. Right now she didn't really care, as long as Jack eventually came back - and hopefully soon. They were more or less lost without him there already, and she would hate to see how they'd be if it stretched much longer. "My first day and several other days after that?"

"Hey, some people gossip around the water cooler about whatever is on the television. We gossip about our resident immortal, gay boss."

"I still don't think he's gay," she argued back automatically. "I mean, there was Estelle: I don't think that was his father in that 1940s picture with her, and Tosh did say he acted like he belonged in the Forties; it had to have been him. He's bi at the very least." She grinned out the window. "I still agree with Tosh: he'd probably shag anything if it's gorgeous enough."

"So if Jack's immortal and Jack was alive in the 1940s, what is he waiting around Cardiff for? There has to be something. No-one just sits around Cardiff like this just for fun." Oh, she should have known not to let Owen get started. She could swear he was worse for gossip than her grandmother and every bit as likely to keep going till someone shut him up or changed the topic. "Still, if he's immortal, what's he waiting on?"

The right kind of doctor immediately jumped into the forefront of her mind. And oh, God, that made a sickening kind of sense. How had she not thought of it before? It was one of the first things he'd said to her when she joined Torchwood and one of the last before he vanished: 'the right kind of doctor'. She felt like a complete idiot. But if the Doctor was Jack's 'right kind of doctor', then might he have left of his own free will? And if the Doctor was Jack's doctor, then were they ever going to see him again? But 'the right kind of doctor', that was Jack's story to tell. She shouldn't have even told them about his immortality, but she definitely could not tell Owen about this. She couldn't tell anyone this. It would be too much a betrayal, on top of what she had already done. She just couldn't.

"He never said anything to me," she finally lied. It didn't matter that it wasn't the truth. It wasn't like Owen would know till Jack got back, plenty enough time for this to die down some.

"And what? You never asked?" He sounded absolutely shocked, like the idea that not pushing for the information was just absolutely an anathema to him. "How could you not ask? How could you not be curious? Weren't you supposed to be a copper once upon a time?"

She rolled her eyes. "Of course, I was curious, but it's not my business. He told me about the immortality the day I joined; I was a bit too overwhelmed to ask too many questions. Remember: I had no idea anything like this existed before then. I was... Overwhelmed is the only word I can think of. And you've driven past my street three times already, Owen. What are we doing here?"

"Mostly, avoidance. We are avoiding your street. I don't feel like dealing with your boyfriend, you look like you don't feel like dealing with your boyfriend, so why don't we just swing into a store and buy you all new clothes for the trip? Avoid the entire thing."

It really shouldn't be so tempting, she thought to herself, grumpiness warring with exhaustion and resignation within her as she considered the option. It would avoid the confrontation all together, without the hassle of worrying if he was home or if he wasn't home or even if he might come home while she was packing. She wasn't planning on it taking long, but she wasn't too certain where her warmer winter clothes were: this winter had been so mild that she hadn't bothered getting out her winter garments and had just worn layers. That wouldn't work up in the Himalayas, though, so she would need her clothes if she were to go in there, but the temptation to listen to Owen was strong, almost too strong to ignore. "Were you trying to distract me from going to my flat?" she asked instead, countering his questions with another question.

"No, of course not!" He paused under the stern glare she turned on him. "Well, maybe a little." Like quicksilver, his mood changed abruptly. "Till we get Jack back, someone needs to keep this team going. No way it's going to be Tea Boy, you're getting your head scrambled, and Tosh is rubbish in the field, so who does that leave?"

"No-one has to lead till Jack gets back. We can share the responsibility and Jack's duties till he's back, then dump everything back on him so fast his head spins." He grinned, lightning fast, and finally turned down her street as they came to it again. "So what's the verdict?"

"If his car's there, we go shopping and get our last spot of decent food for a bit. If it's not there, then we grab your clothes and go get our last spot of decent food for a bit. The world won't end if we're not in the damn Himalayas by a certain time."

"I meant about leading Torchwood, dummy," she returned almost affectionately. They really did seem to get along better after the affair than they ever had before. And now, with Jack gone, suddenly they had found a few things to agree on: finding him and keeping the rest of the team safe. Those two things had become the most important things in their lives, more important anything else save the job, and they were going to do it. She got the feeling they were both pushing the matter for the same reason as well: they both still felt guilty about what they had done to their actual leader. What they had done to Jack was nigh unforgivable, but she hoped that k eeping Torchwood safe while he was gone was a good start.

And if he was with the Doctor and he was with the man by choice (And that still utterly boggled her mind to think about. Not humans going with the Doctor. Definitely not that: the man had a long and checkered past of various assistants traveling with him. No, what confused her was the idea of Jack with him. It'd be like putting two alpha male dogs in a small place and hoping for there not to be an explosion. A bit foolish, if anyone bothered to ask her) and it didn't seem like he would be back (If the Doctor was Jack's doctor, the one he was waiting to fix him, the only one who could have tempted him with visions to open the Rift, obviously the one Jack had so very strong feelings for, then how cruel could they be, asking him to give that up for them? She wasn't sure she had it in her to do that to him), then she'd at least make certain there was a good legacy left here in Jack's name. She wanted people to know it was Captain Jack Harkness who founded Torchwood, the one that survived anyway. No, not just survived: thrived, maybe even becoming a viable world power. If the twenty-first century was when it all changed and Jack wasn't here, then Torchwood would have to make certain everything and everyone was prepared, starting with them.

He was slowly down as they got closer where she lived and she leaned forward to try to look more closely for Rhys's car. "It's a valid idea," he conceded. "Who knows how it will work in the field, but it is a decent idea."

"Oi! It's more than a decent idea!" she shot back. "We can't afford to spread ourselves too thin, and I think we would do that if one of us trying to do all their own duties plus all of Jack's while the others just look on and twiddle their thumbs. It's not how Torchwood does things - and if that's how it is, then we need to change it. There are four of us: we can split everything more or less evenly, and get everything done. Why are you laughing, Owen?"

"I think Tosh and I had the same conversation. I can't really remember. I think we were standing next to our former resident scaly, telepathic alien at the time. That I remember even that much is pretty much a miracle . Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, after all. Who knows what's going on wherever they are."

The car wasn't there, so he pulled to a stop, letting her jump out. To her surprise, he shut off the car and followed her. Mounting the stairs to head to her flat, she hazed out a question: "Owen, what if Jack's with the Doctor by choice?"

"Like studying him or something? That'd be helpful. Not a very Jack-like thing to do, but helpful nonetheless." He stared over at her. "But you don't mean that. You mean, like... in a friendly way?"


"I... don't know. If it's by his choice, then maybe it's not such a bad thing. Maybe."

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