Smiths & Joneses
Author's note: For disclaimer, rating, etc. see the Introduction.
Warning: disturbing images in this chapter.
The news that the Torchwood Director had been found unconscious in a small lane near his flat in the middle of the night had caused an uproar with the Cardiff Police… to put it mildly. Saying that it was the sensation of the night watch would have been more accurate. Everybody knew Ianto Jones, from the time when he'd been merely the general support officer of the Torchwood gang, and everybody liked him. His sharp suits, quiet snark and phenomenal coffee were the stuff of legends.
The fact that said coffee had usually been laced with Retcon to make constables and detectives conveniently forget things like carnage caused by murderous aliens was largely unknown.
Largely but not by all. Detective Swanson, the Torchwood liaison of the police force, was well aware of it. She even agreed, most of the time. There were things ordinary coppers just weren't supposed to know. Sometimes she wished she could forget the things she'd got to see due to her association with Torchwood, but that was not an option.
Her job was to know such things.
"I wonder who would have anything against Jones?" her secretary and flatmate, Eiry Conway, said clearly perplexed. "I mean, I'd understand if somebody wanted to knock out Harkness; the man has made annoying the hell out of people to a form of art, but Jones?"
"It might not be personal," Tim Cochrane, the SOCO on night watch, guessed. "Perhaps they aimed at Torchwood in general; there are a lot of people with an old grudge or two."
"Or he was just in the wrong place, at the wrong time," Trefor Pugh, Swanson's second-in-command, shrugged. "Even the Torchwood director can have a case of bad luck."
"Possibly… although not very likely," Swanson turned to Cochrane. "Have you found anything at the crime scene?"
The scruffy little SOCO shook his head. "Not a thing; of course, I wasn't there long. Davidson and Lloyd were already there, with another one of those spooky-doos, wielding all those weird gizmos they use when investigating something."
"Another grand entrée from Harkness, then?" Swanson asked with a wry smile.
Cochrane shook his head again. "Not this time. He only had eyes for Jones. If it were someone else, I'd almost say he was panicking. But Harkness doesn't panic."
"Not usually," Swanson agreed. "He might be making an exception this time, though."
"Because of Jones?" Detective M'Benga, a slender black man with a clean-shaven head asked in surprise. "They've got a thing running? That's odd."
"Why would it be?" Detective Flores shrugged; he wasn't a fan of Torchwood in general and even less of Captain Harkness in particular. "Everyone knows that Harkness would shag everything with a pulse and perhaps a few things without one, too. Why would Jones be an exception?"
"Because he's their boss now, and because – unlike Harkness – he's not that kind of bloke, perhaps?" their newbie, Detective Moira Fenner asked back. "I can understand Harkness, too," she added with dreamy eyes. "I wouldn't want to lose Jones, either; that boy is absolutely gorgeous."
"Can we stop the drooling and the gossip for a moment and focus on the facts?" Swanson asked, a lot sharper than intended; whether she was willing to admit or not, she was worried about the young Torchwood director, too. "Where have they taken Jones?"
"To St. Helen's," Eiry Conway replied. "Doctor Harper said that the Torchwood base doesn't have the right facilities to treat a comatose patient, and as they already work with some of the doctors there, that was the most logical arrangement."
Swanson nodded. "Right. I remember. I'll go to St. Helen's then and see if I can get anything out of Harkness. Perhaps the concern for Jones will make him a bit more cooperative than usual. When I'm back, I want every detail about this case, no matter how small or insignificant it seems, on my desk. Understood?"
The others nodded in unison and were off to do their jobs. Swanson headed for the garage to get her car.
The emergency call reached Tom Milligan in one of the better restaurants of Cardiff – generally known among the locals as that French place, as very few could actually pronounce its name – where he was having a late dinner with Martha Jones and Doctor Fox. A very late one; but again, he and Emilia had a lot to catch up with… mostly from the "talking shop" category, as they didn't want to discuss personal matters in front of a third party.
They had just run out of career-related news, and the discussion was turning to Emilia's current project at the UNIT base, when Tom's phone rang. He answered it, listened to someone with a frown, asked a few questions before disconnecting, and then rose from his seat.
"I'm sorry, Em," he said to his ex, "but I have to go." Looking at Martha, he added. "Ianto's been attacked. They've brought him to St. Helen's, and Owen needs my help."
Martha jumped to her feet. "I'll go with you."
"That's not necessary," Tom replied. "Angie is on duty tonight; between the three of us, we can surely treat a single patient. Even if it's our boss."
"Sure, but Jack will need me," Martha said. "If Ianto is in a bad shape, Jack will be devastated. Ianto is his lifeline; he can't go on without him."
Tom shook his head. "I don't really think that Jack would be in life-threatening danger," he phrased his comment very carefully because of Em's presence. Jack's immortality was still a secret, and it was supposed to remain one.
"Not physically," Martha allowed, "but he's in a fragile state of mind. Has been since… well, since he came back. He will need a friend right now. Let's pay the bill; we can drop Em off at her hotel on our way to the hospital.
The other two agreed with the suggestion, and soon they were on their way to St. Helen's, reaching the parking lot at the same time as Detective Swanson.
"Any news?" Swanson asked.
Tom shrugged. "I just got the call. Let's see the patient first, shall we? I suppose he's in one of the private rooms."
Swanson nodded. "Follow me. I know a shortcut through the basement."
The others didn't ask how she'd come to know such shortcuts. Instead, they followed her through the basement which, as Tom mentally noted, was in an inexcusable shape – for a hospital anyway. He started worrying in earnest. If Ianto survived the attack itself, he might still die because of the general lack of hygiene in the hospital itself. He'd have to see that their young boss got to a better clinic, as soon as possible.
Fortunately, the private rooms were in a much better shape, he found. Impeccable, in fact, and Tom released a breath he hadn't been aware of holding. There were two beds in Ianto's room, one of them empty, the other one occupied by Ianto himself, wearing one of those ugly hospital scrubs, as the others hadn't had the chance to fetch him something of his own.
Other than being unconscious, he seemed unharmed, as if he were simply sleeping. Not that it could have been a pleasant sleep, though; his expression was tense, his brows were drawn together, his lips pressed into a thin line, and his forehead was damp with cold sweat, plastering his hair to his pasty skin. There were electrodes attached to various parts of his body, transmitting readings to a strange-looking portable scanner of supposedly alien origins, the readings of which Owen was studying with an unhappy scowl on his face, while Angie – Dr. Connolly – was making notices by hand into an old-fashioned notebook.
Jack was sitting at Ianto's bedside, holding the younger man's lifeless hand in his larger ones; his eyes were red-rimmed, although he tried to keep his calm. Martha didn't buy his brave act for a moment, of course; she was probably the only one who knew what it meant for Jack to see Ianto like this.
Owen shot her and Tom a relieved look but tried to hide his concern behind his usual acerbic mask.
"'Bout time you showed up, Milligan," he snapped. "You're the one with recent A&E practice. I need pointers."
Tom ignored the irascible tone of his fellow doctor and checked both the readouts and the more conservative notes of Dr. Connolly. Twice.
"There's nothing that would explain why he's comatose," he concluded with a frown. "All his readings check out completely normal; save for the limited brain activity, that is."
"Save for that, yeah," Owen agreed. "Any idea what might have caused it?"
"Severe head trauma would do it," Tom began, but Owen shook his head.
"We found no sign that would indicate a head injury."
"Not even blunt trauma," Angie added. "Physically, his brain is unharmed, just like the rest of him. We couldn't find any kind of physical injury."
"Lack of oxygen for an extended period of time could be another cause," Tom tried to think out loud, but Owen shook his head again.
"That would leave traces in the lungs. Which there aren't."
"Then there's only one answer left," Martha said. "It must have been a telepathic attack. That would explain these strange brain patterns here," she indicated the graphic representation on the viewscreen of Owen's scanner.
"Have you ever seen anything like this before?" Tom asked, a bit sceptically.
Martha nodded. "I once visited a word with the Doctor, in the far future, where memory wipes and suppressing one's emotions were a common form of punishment. These patterns clearly show a similar kind of manipulation."
"You mean someone – or something – messed around with Ianto's brain?" Jack asked, shocked but not particularly surprised.
Telepathic attacks were nothing new for him. As a Time Agent, he had even been trained to withstand them – or to perform them. He knew that – like any other Torchwood One employee – Ianto had basic psychic training that should have at least partially protected him from such attacks; if he knew he was being attacked in the first place.
"It looks like that, yeah," Martha replied grimly, "although I can't say how it was possible. Contemporary humans don't have the mental powers to do something like this; and I don't know of any existing technology that could do it."
"Neither do I, and that includes the alien tech we keep safely stored in the Hub," Jack said.
"How did it happen, then?" Martha asked.
Jack shrugged. "We did have a Rift spike some fifteen minutes before finding him. A big one. Something – or somebody – definitely came through."
"Do you have the location?" Swanson asked.
"Right where Jack found Teaboy," Owen answered grimly. "In that dark little lane directly behind his flat."
"But why would an alien attack him?" Swanson shook her head in bewilderment, remembering her colleagues asking the same… well, without the alien part. "He might be the Torchwood Director, but I seriously doubt that any intergalactic villains would be aware of that and target him specifically. He could hardly have the same reputation outside this planet you are supposed to have," she added, glancing at Jack, who nodded glumly.
"Unless John Hart decided to pay us a little revenge," Owen commented. "He didn't take it well when Jack refused to leave us – especially Ianto – for going on a grand galactic adventure with him."
"He'd certainly love to do something like that," Jack allowed, "but not even he does have a strong enough mind to cause this kind of damage. He's a fairly common sort of guy as abilities are concerned."
"Your ex is all kinds of things none of them exactly common," Owen snorted.
"Perhaps," Jack admitted. "But he still doesn't have the strength of mind to do this."
"I don't think it was a personal attack, or that Ianto had been specifically targeted," Martha interfered. "Perhaps all our hypothetical alien wanted was information. It might not even realize that its telepathy is disruptive for the human brain."
"In which case we should prepare for more such victims," Owen commented darkly.
"That possible?" Swanson found it a bit hard to believe, although the Torchwood gang seemed to find it normal… well, what counted as normal for Torchwood anyway.
"It's known to have happened before," Martha answered with a helpless shrug. "Brain waves can be every bit as incompatible as different blood types."
"Let's assume you're right," Tom's voice revealed that he didn't truly believe her. "How does that help us… and Ianto?"
"I'm not sure," Martha admitted. "If we're very lucky, though, Ianto might not actually be brain-damaged… just in shock. In which case we might cajole him out of hiding."
"Any ideas how we're supposed to do that?" Tom asked.
Martha nodded. "With we, I actually meant Jack. He's the closest to Ianto from us all; and he's mildly telepathic."
"You are?" Tom looked at Jack in surprise. Jack nodded.
"Lowest possible level only, but yeah, I am. It's worth a try."
"What do you mean?" Owen frowned. "Are you gonna perform the Vulcan mind-meld with Teaboy?"
"I wish I could," Jack answered sourly. "That would make things a lot easier."
"How do you intend to do it then?" Owen demanded.
"I honestly don't know where to even start," Jack confessed.
"Oh, c'mon, Jack, you know you can do it," Martha said in a determined, no-nonsense manner. "You managed to reach my Mum on the Valiant; even Tish, though you didn't know them back then, not really."
"Those were extraordinary circumstances," Jack said evasively.
Martha raised a surprised eyebrow. "And these are not?"
"Not for Torchwood, actually," Owen muttered under his breath. "Having your mind wiped is the average, run-of-the-mill event around here. Being obsessed by alien sex gas and killing blokes with orgasms… now that's a bit more interesting."
Martha roiled her eyes and ignored him, turning to Jack encouragingly. "You can do this, Jack! You can reach Ianto, I know you can! Just focus and try to find his presence in your thoughts… in your heart."
"Assuming I do have one," Jack muttered self-deprecatingly.
Martha shook her head angrily. "I'm not playing this game with you, not now. You do love him, don't you?"
For a moment, the entire sick room became eerily silent. No-one else would have had the brazenness to ask Jack Harkness, the king of obfuscating, that question. But all had realized by now that he and Martha Jones had a special closeness that enabled her to say things the others wouldn't dare… and even receive an answer, most of the time.
After that eerie moment, Jack nodded wordlessly, effectively wiping the smirk from the one or other face with that simple gesture. Then he tried to focus, just as he had been taught in the training facility of the Time Agency in his long-gone youth – three thousand years in everyone else's future.
Sara Lloyd and Andy Davidson returned from the crime scene to a virtually empty Hub. Only Sally was holding down the fort, as Owen had gone to St. Helen's with Jack and Ianto. Lloyd vanished in her DNA-lab at once, to examine any possible trails she and Cochrane from SOCO had collected, while Andy joined Sally in the main working area for a cup of coffee and a bit of gossip.
Between the two of them a mutual interest had begun to grow in the recent couple of months. While they were both too careful to jump into an office romance headfirst, they definitely enjoyed the way leading to it.
Besides, office romances were the only kind of romance a Torchwood agent could truly hope to have. The job was too demanding to leave time and room for any outside partners; and then there was the necessary secrecy. Why, they even had to give Mike Halloran, Beth's hubby, some carefully edited information about the nature of their work, in order to keep their marriage going – and the truly dangerous secrets confidential – despite the fact that Beth only ran the cover shop.
Originally Andy had been more than reluctant to join the 'spooky-doos' as he'd called Torchwood. With Gwen and her constant insubordination (which he had to smooth over all the time) out of the way of promotion, he could have made Desk Sergeant in no time. Perhaps even fulfil his long-nurtured dream to become Detective. He'd seen no reason why he should leave the police force right then.
It had been Ianto's powers of persuasion that had finally made him accept the job. That, and the fact that Rhys had joined, too. Andy liked Rhys, always had, and was glad to see that Rhys had finally gotten over Gwen, who really hadn't deserved his devotion, and found himself a nice girl who knew to value a decent bloke.
Just as Andy hoped to have found the right girl. That Sally was smarter and better educated didn't bother him; he'd always liked smart chicks. Smart blondes especially, as they proved the old cliché a lie; and Sally was not only smart and sweet, she could also be tough as nails if she had to. She's been UNIT, after all, and even civilian UNIT personnel were generally trained to face alien invasions and the likes.
Andy found the combination incredibly sexy. He was even turned on by the little frown lines between Sally's brows, as she was checking the readings on her surveillance computer.
"More Rift activity?" he asked. Sally shook her head, without looking up to him.
"No, this is something different," she replied absent-mindedly. "Some kind of signal I've never seen before."
"Where does it come from?" Andy asked.
"That's the weird part of it," Sally tried to triangulate the origins of the unknown signal. "It comes from somewhere within the Hub itself."
Andy paled as the possible meaning of that fact became clear to him.
"Have we been infiltrated?"
"Possibly," Sally said grimly. "I can't tell anything for sure before I'd have located the source of the signal."
"Should we call in the others?" Andy asked. "At least Tosh or Jack?"
Sally shook her head again. "Tosh is gonna work for two while Trevor's in London, and I doubt that anything short the end of the world would be enough to remove Jack from Ianto's bedside. We'll do this on our own."
"How?" Andy had his reasonable doubts about the idea. "Do you know how huge the Hub is? We have no means to keep any potential intrudes trapped while we're scanning room after room for the source of your signal."
"Yes we have," Sally replied calmly. "All we need to do is to initiate an emergency lockdown."
"What?" Andy all but yelled. "That would mean we won't be able to leave for at least twenty-four hours – unless Ianto comes and lets us out. Or Jack. Or Tosh."
"Which they won't do, not with a possible intruder lurking somewhere within," Sally pointed out. "This is the only way to keep things contained. Not even phone signs can get through a total lockdown, and most certainly no unknown signals. The secure landline in Ianto's office would be our only connection to the outside."
"Is it really necessary?" Andy was still not comfortable with the idea of being locked into the Hub hermetically, together with potentially hostile aliens.
"Afraid so," Sally replied with grim determination. "Trust me in this; I've survived one alien invasion – barely – and am not eager to repeat the experience. The second time we might not be so lucky."
Andy sighed. "All right, then; do it, if you think you have to."
Sally was already typing away on her keyboard. A moment later, the lights of alert started flashing all over the Hub, and big, blinking letters flashed over every singly viewscreen.
At the same moment, the cog door rolled closed solidly.
"Torchwood lockdown," the artificial voice of Mainframe stated the obvious, before the passive scanners would come alive again.
"What now?" Andy asked, trying to fight his claustrophobia and losing, big time.
Sally gave her a feral grin. "Now we'll go hunting," she replied, picking up a hand-held scanner and a gun.
The car park at the far end of the dark little lane behind his flat is chocking down with rain. The rain has soaked his hair, plastering his wet locks against his chilly face, and dripping into his eyes, his mouth… choking him. He cannot breathe; he is shaking violently, as if having a seizure. He knows he's done something horrible, something unforgivable – but for the life of his, he cannot remember what it was.
Then a sudden flash of memory comes to him, like a lightning bolt illuminating the dark, cloudy night. The memory of a woman, more a girl, actually – young, slender and blonde, moving around with easy grace. Then she gets hit from behind, swirled around and pressed up against the wall.
His hands around her neck, shaking her, chocking her with horrible delight. Her eyes, their colour not recognizable in the ghastly yellow light of a far-away street lantern, but clearly something pale, perhaps blue or grey, wide with horror before turning glassy and lifeless in no time.
The weight of her pliant body weighing down on his aching arms before he drops her onto a rotting, rat-infested mattress against the dark alley wall. There she lies, her limbs twisted into an unnatural position she wouldn't be able to bear alive, her eyes unseeing, her pretty face a frozen mask of terror.
And then there's nothing but the rain again, pounding down on him mercilessly, as if trying to wash him clean from what he's done. But there's no cleansing for him, no absolution, no hope. He's murdered the blonde girl – and he doesn't know why.
He wracks his brain to find an explanation while the rain is still falling down onto him but finds none. The events keep replaying before his eyes in a vicious cycle, again and again; the girl shows up, gets hit, then he throws her against the wall and chokes her. Every single time. There's no answer, no reason – just the bare facts.
And he knows that – given the chance – he'd do it again. Because, in a dark and twisted way, it felt good to feel her desperate struggling cease. To see the life fading away from her horrified eyes. He enjoyed it.
He enjoyed it; therefore he must be a monster.
Something stirs at the far end of the dark alley; something or rather someone. The person slowly comes closer, and now he could see that it's a tall, broadly built man, wearing a greatcoat that seems somehow familiar. He seems to recognize the handsome face of the man, and the bright blue eyes; brighter than any man ought to have.
Brighter than he's ever seen in the face of any other man.
And suddenly he also remembers who the girl was.
"Jack, help me!" he moans in despair. "I've killed Jenny!"
Jack, the doctors and Simpson stared at each other with open-mouthed shock as Ianto bolted upright in his hospital bed, his face white with terror, eyes wide open and unseeing.
"What has he just said?" Simpson demanded.
Jack shrugged helplessly. "I don't know any more than you do. I can't imagine it, though. Ianto's not a killer."
"Well, he wasn't happy about Jenny at all, that much is clear," Owen muttered. "Still…"
"Why don't you call Tosh?" Martha suggested. "That way you can make sure that Jenny's right." She doesn't seem to believe the alternative, either.
Owen nodded jerkily and whipped out his mobile phone. Having had a short conversation in muted tones in the farthest corner of the room, he soon returned to the others with obvious relief.
"Well, Jenny's sitting in Tosh's living room, eating bananas and laughing her head off watching East Enders," he told them.
"That's odd," Tom commented with a frown. "What's Ianto talking about, then?"
"It could be a telepathic echo from the attacker," Martha guessed. "Or he could have witnessed something traumatic, and his mind is trying to deal with it the best way it can."
"Perhaps we should check if there have been any assault cases in close proximity to where he was found," Swanson suggested. "He could have seen something and blacked out as a result. I'll ask Eiry…"
"Not necessary; Sally can get us the info a lot faster," Jack touched his earpiece. "Sally, this is Jack…"
There was no answer, and he frowned. He tried it again, but to no end. He tried his mobile phone, too, but all he got was a NO CONNECTION AVAILABLE message flashing across the small screen.
"Definitely odd," he muttered, trying to get his wrist strap connected to Mainframe – and failing.
"What do you mean?" Simpson asked.
"They've apparently put the Hub under lockdown," Jack explained.
Simpson's eyebrows drew together. "What for?"
"I don't know, but they wouldn't do it, unless they wanted to keep something – or someone – from entering the base," Jack replied worriedly.
"Or from leaving it," Owen added.
Jack nodded. "Whatever it is, it cannot be good. Sally isn't one who'd panic easily. She survived the Sycorax invasion, after all, and that without needing any shrinks afterwards to deal with the trauma. She's tough."
"So how are you gonna find out what's happening?" Swanson asked. "Last time you got locked into your own base we needed to read through Emily Dickinson's assorted poems…"
Jack winced at that particular memory. Suzie's betrayal – and how completely she had managed to fool them all – was still a sore topic with him.
"We've installed a few additional security measures since last time," he explained. "The secure landline in the office ought to work under any circumstances; and I'll be able to end the lockdown manually from the outside. Well, Tosh and I will. At least two of the three team leaders have to enter their codes and go through retina scan to cancel the lockdown. First, though, I need to learn what's really happening."
"And I'll have Eiry check the latest assault cases in the area," Swanson said.
They grabbed their respective phones. A few moments later they were looking at each other with grim faces that seemed eerily alike.
"No-one answers the phone in the Hub," Jack said. "I'm gonna alert Tosh and check what's going on there. You guys stay with Ianto."
"No way!" Martha declared with determination. "Tom and Owen can babysit Ianto with Angie's help. You might need me, though."
After a moment of hesitation Jack nodded. He trusted Martha unconditionally. He couldn't say the same about the other two. He might have forgiven Owen, but the doctor had killed him, at a time when his immortality hadn't been known to the team; and he found it a lot harder to forget than to forgive.
"And watch him closely," Swanson added. "Anything he happens to say might be of importance."
"Why?" Tom asked in surprise.
The detective's expression was shuttered. "I've just spoken to my PA. A young, blonde woman was found in the alley near the car park at the end of the lane where Ianto had supposedly been attacked. She was murdered."
All eyes turned to Ianto in shock. He'd fallen back onto his pillow and was unresponsive again.