I don't own The Tower and the Hive, Torchwood or Spooks (MI-5)
A/N: The character of Aisling Flynn is an AC based from The Tower and the Hive books. The story takes place after series 2 of Torchwood, but before series 3 (Children of Earth). The story takes place in Spooks series 5 episode 5 with the events taking place at the start of the story altering Ruth's participation at the beginning of what becomes the investigation into of Maudsley and the Cotterdam fire.
The Prime of Your Life
**/\**Earth, Blundell Building, FT&T Headquarters**/\**
Aisling Flynn stepped from her personal carrier and looked around. This place was huge! She'd read descriptions and seen holos, but nothing, nothing had prepared her for the immensity of the Blundell Building-FT&T's headquarters here on Earth. Earth! She was actually on Earth! She could hardly believe her luck. Only two weeks ago her mother Morag and her grandmother Damia had given her the news. The current Earth Prime, Jeff Raven wanted to finally retire.
Since Damia's children all had choice Prime Towers throughout the colonies and the naval fleet, Earth's Prime, The Raven, as he liked to be called, chose to pick his possible successor from the great grandchildren. He'd chosen three of them to come to Earth at various times for their final Tower training and to see how they might mesh with the support team. Once training was accomplished, Jeff and his wife, The Rowan, would retire to Deneb and help find and train up bright young Talents from the prolific Raven clan. Aisling couldn't believe her luck she was one of the three. She quickly snatched up her carisacks and headed for the entrance of the Prime's headquarters where her escort waited.
"Good morning ma'am, er, Prime, ma'am um..." the young man trailed off.
Aisling gave him a small smile and handed him her bags. "Hello, yes, I'm Prime Aisling Flynn, thank you." She continued in a slightly lower voice. "Please, don't call me ma'am."
"Right, okay, um, I'm T-3 Ryan Baker and I'll be showing you to your quarters and to your meeting with Earth Prime. Right this way, please." He opened the door and gestured her to precede him.
Aisling ran a quick hand through her mane of dark hair, grateful once again that she'd been one of the few grandchildren whom had inherited the distinctive Raven-Lyon silver streak in her hair. As a Prime, she was of course accorded a certain amount of respect, but her youth often offset the advantage of her status. The silver streak in her hair often made people think her older than her 22 years and caused them to give more weight to her opinion than they otherwise might.
She gazed, wide-eyed, at the beautifully appointed building that was Earth Prime's Tower. She clenched her hands at her sides and clenched her jaw to keep herself from gawking like an idiot. She and her escort finally reached the "private quarters" section and stopped before one of the doors. He quickly keyed the door and then indicated the pad next to the door. Aisling quickly stripped off one of her gloves and placed her palm on the pad to open the door. He led her inside and placed her carisacks on the table near the door. He stood quietly and waited while she stood gaping at her quarters. Huge, beautiful and all for her! She managed to close her mouth and looked at her escort.
He gave her a quick smile. "Earth Prime is ready for your meeting, if you are."
"Yes, I'm ready." She gave one last glance at the rich furnishings and followed him from the room. She was getting a bit tired of all the walking and risked a quick glance at his public mind. She gave a small sigh of relief that the meeting room they were going to was just around the corner. He stopped at a set of double doors, gave her a small bow and smile and walked away. Aisling looked at the large doors, squared her shoulders, took a deep breath and palmed the door pad.
"Aisling, granddaughter, you look lovely," Jeff Raven said as he turned from the window. 'I'm not calling you great-granddaughter, it makes me feel old', he sent to her privately.
"You are not old," she scolded with a smile as Jeff hugged her.
He handed her a drink and gestured for her to sit. She sat in the proffered chair as he perched on the corner of the table. "Now, you start training first thing next week," he raised his hand to forestall her objections as he saw her open her mouth, "hear me out."
She closed her mouth and waited for him to continue.
"I want you to take this week and travel around a bit, become familiar with the planet and the support towers. I want you to meet face to face with the T-2's and T-3's that head up our other towers. Earth Tower is the heart and head of Federated Telepath and Teleport. As such, you need to get to know the people you will be working with as Earth's Prime. Besides, I think you'll enjoy something of a holiday before you get to work, because you will work...hard. Your grandmother trained you well in shifting cargo on Aurigae. Your time on Clarf with your aunt Laria has made you familiar more than most with our Mrdini allies, despite the fact you weren't raised with a Dini pair. Being Earth Prime is more than that. You will go through intensive training on every aspect of FT&T's structure. You will have to learn the laws and diplomacy. I also suggest you take a visit up to Heinlein Base and see the Hiver Queen. Progress is slow but sure on pacifying the Hiver occupied worlds we find with that pheromone mixture your so-clever uncles came up with. However, space is big and the species is still worth studying and understanding."
She nodded her agreement.
"Now," he clapped his hands together and grinned at her. "How about dinner?"
"I'm starving," she replied, grinning back at him.
"We'll go to my favorite place," he said and offered his arm. She took it and he teleported them to the restaurant.
Early the next morning she began what she thought of as "The Grand Tour". Over the next several days she visited every FT&T installation on Earth. It was fun and it was exhausting, person after person to remember and complex after complex. She blessed her eidetic memory, part and parcel of being a telepath, but feared her head would explode with so much input. She noted places she fully intended to visit again on holidays and arrived back at Earth Prime Tower late Friday evening, tired but happy. She collapsed on the huge bed in her quarters and dropped straight into sleep with only the briefest of wishes for 'Dini dreams to help her process the wealth of information she'd acquired.
Saturday morning she awoke early and breakfasted with her great-grandfather before leaving for the moon and her visit to Heinlein Base. T-3 Blake escorted her out to her personal carrier and with a quick telepathic clearance from Earth Prime; she quickly and efficiently leaned into a quick gestalt with the Tower's generators and lifted her carrier to the moon.
She enjoyed a quick tour of the facilities and then joined most of the staff for lunch. After, she visited the enclave where the Hiver Queen was housed. Aisling shuddered at the sight of the huge, insectiod creature even while having to marvel at the Queen's beautiful coloring. The famous Rowan/Raven mind merge that had saved Jeff Raven's home planet of Deneb from a Hiver incursion so many years ago filled her with a sense of family pride. The two of them had been the focus for the merge of every Talented mind in human occupied space. The Rowan merge to destroy the minds of the Hiver Queens on the Leviathan and the Raven merge to shove the Leviathan into Deneb's primary, ending the threat and saving Deneb from the destructive methods of Hiver colonization.
She wandered back to the administration enclave slowly, gazing up at the stars in wonder. She loved looking at the stars, comparing the starscape here to the others she'd seen at home on Iota Aurigae and on Clarf. Her internal alarm told her it was time to head back to the Tower and she flashed a quick thought to her great-grandfather to let him know she was preparing to leave.
She bid a quick farewell to the base staff she'd met and walked out to her carrier. She climbed in and settled herself and sent another thought to Earth Prime for clearance. As she tapped into the generators and lifted, a thought occurred to her.
'Great-Grandfather?' she sent.
'Would you mind terribly if I made a quick orbit of the moon, the earth and the stars look so lovely from here...' she trailed off.
He chuckled. 'Yes, yes of course. We'll leave your carrier's cradle clear and I'll make sure you have a window when you've finished your stargazing.'
'Dinner in one hour,' he teased and she felt a quick telekinetic kiss on her forehead.
She quickly shifted herself into a wide, stable orbit. A wave of her hand opened the large viewport. She settled herself more comfortably in her seat and enjoyed the view as she drifted. As her orbit took her around to the dark side of the moon, she caught a glimpse of a strange light far off to port. She shifted the carrier until she was facing the direction and leaned forward in fascination. The large ribbon of light wavered and shifted, shimmering in gold, green, red, blue and purple. She'd had a chance to see the Aurora Borealis on her tour of the FT&T facilities and this phenomenon reminded her strongly of it.
'Great-grandfather, look at this,' she sent quickly. She felt him take her offered "hand" and merge with her.
'What the hell is that?'
'I don't know. It reminds me of the aurora, don't you think?'
'Yes, as a matter of fact. Strange. Heinlein Base is sending out a scout to investigate. The scanners on the base can't really pick up anything at this angle. I want you to come back now. You'll want time to get ready for the Staff dinner and the scout has arrived at your position. They'll relay any information on to the Tower.'
'Just a little longer, please,' she begged. 'I don't need much time at all to get ready and I want to see.'
He sighed and she sensed he was giving in. She could barely contain her excitement.
'All right, but I'll be keeping my mind on you. Any sign of any trouble and I'll pull you out. Deal?'
'I'm getting to old for this,' he grumbled.
'Callisto Prime Rowan to Earth Prime Raven, what is going on out there? Everyone is going crazy over lights in the sky. We're in perfect position to see all this nonsense apparently and nobody seems to be able to shut up.'
Aisling smothered a laugh at the annoyance threaded through her great-grandmother's thought. She gasped as the Rowan's aggravation focused on her.
'Prime Aisling Lyon-Flynn, exactly what the bloody hell do you think you're doing out there?'
'I just wanted to look at the stars and spotted it when I came around to the dark side of the moon. It's beautiful. I'm not staying long; I just want to watch a bit longer.'
'See that you don't, young lady. I do hope this doesn't mean you're going to start taking after your grandmother Damia's reckless behavior.'
'No, great-grandmother, I promise.'
'I've got my mind on her, Rowan, she'll be back on Earth at the slightest sign of trouble,' Jeff Raven explained to his temperamental wife.
'I should hope so. I don't think I have the strength to go through another generation of this.'
Aisling "felt" him pat his wife's cheek fondly and smiled. She suddenly noticed movement out of the corner of her eye. Why was the scout backing away?
'Great-grandfather, where is the scout going?' she asked in confusion.
'What do you mean? They're holding position and scanning...' he broke off a moment and then surged back into her mind so quickly she nearly reeled.
'What do you mean stop? I'm not doing anything!'
'You're moving towards it, now get back here.'
Aisling felt a frisson of fear down her spine. 'I'm not moving myself, I swear!'
'Rowan, merge with me quick. Message from the scout says somehow she's being pulled towards that thing. We have to stop it.'
Rowan quickly merged with her husband to grab Aisling's carrier, but somehow it eluded their grasp.
Aisling felt the beginnings of panic and began to breathe deeply to focus past it. Her great-grandfather's mental "hand" suddenly slipped from hers.
'Great-grandfather, I can't stop it. Help!'
'We're trying,' the Rowan-Raven merge replied, sounding far away. 'Something's interfering, we having trouble grabbing hold.'
'What? I can barely hear you. I can't feel your minds!' She felt the panic again and fought to keep it from overcoming her.
'The scout says it has never seen anything like it before. The energy readings are off the scale and completely unknown. It's causing massive interference with our abilities,' Rowan wailed
'Try again!' Raven commanded.
The Rowan-Raven merge reached again, and again the carrier slipped away.
'Help me!' Aisling sobbed in her mind and aloud as the lights drew nearer and began to enfold her.
'Aisling!' Rowan-Raven cried in despair as the little carrier was swallowed into the lights and vanished.
**\/**Cardiff, Torchwood Hub**\/**
Klaxons wailed and red lights flashed throughout the underground complex that was Torchwood headquarters.
"Gwen, Ianto, what the hell is going on out here?" Captain Jack Harkness bellowed at his team as he slammed out of his office.
"Don't know, rift energy suddenly started spiking off the scale," Gwen yelled back as she tried to type on the rift monitor's keyboard and keep herself from falling to the floor with the other.
Ianto was working feverishly at another console, also trying to brace himself against the shaking. "Readings are all over the place, the rift is going mad," Ianto called over.
Jack whipped around as best he was able and pulled himself up the stairs and outside. He held tight to the wall and looked around. Panicked people were screaming and trying to run for safety as the whole of Cardiff shook in the quake. Jack's gaze moved to the rift in surprise as he saw it visible, blazing in a silver ribbon across the plaza. It flashed and sparked in such a way that Jack began to be afraid. It would tear the city and more apart and how could they stop it? How long would they have before their headquarters fell apart? Damn, damn, damn! Where was the Doctor when you needed him?
Then, just as suddenly as it began, it stopped. The light vanished and the ground was still. Dust hung in a cloud stained red-orange by the just-setting sun. Jack heaved a great breath and watched the confused masses begin to pick themselves up and look around in shock; uncertain if the nightmare was really over. Jack brushed dirt from his greatcoat and stalked back down to the Hub, breathing heavily. A quick flick of his hand on a console and the alarms cut off. Gwen and Ianto stood in a daze, looking at him. He saw fear and relief playing across their faces and grabbed a bottle of scotch as he headed down. They all took a large swig from the bottle and looked at each other.
"I've never seen anything like that, Jack. That spike flared up so fast, there was absolutely no warning," Gwen gasped.
"One minute all quiet and calm and the next, fwoop," Ianto agreed. Jack raised an eyebrow at Ianto's choice of word, but let it go.
"Fine, okay, let's analyze the data, but first, did anything come through?"
Gwen and Ianto opened their mouths, looked at each other and shrugged.
"Well find out!" Jack ordered and his team hurried to work. Jack rubbed his face with his hands, took another drink from the bottle and sighed. It was going to be one of those days.
**/\**London, Thames House**/\**
"...Cardiff was wracked by a terrifying earthquake just a few minutes ago. Police and rescue crews are working hard to find injured citizens and helping clear up the damage which is currently estimated to be hundreds of thousands of pounds. At this point, no fatalities have been found. Scientists are estimating the quake was somewhere around 8 on the Richter scale with ripples of smaller tremors being felt throughout a large portion of northern Wales and western England. A large number of eyewitnesses in Cardiff have reported seeing a strange ribbon-like wall of flashing silver light during the quake, but whether this is fact or some sort of hallucination brought on by panic and hysteria at the epicenter of the quake is not yet known..."
Ruth and Malcolm looked from the TV screen to each other in shock.
"Bloody Nora," Malcolm breathed and Ruth nodded agreement.
The phone rang, startling the both of them.
Ruth grabbed the phone and answered. "Yes?"
"Could somebody come help me please? There seems to be a naked girl lying unconscious on our doorstep," Adam's voice replied.
"Just…come help, okay?" He hung up. Malcolm looked at her expectantly.
"Um, that was Adam. He needs help. He says there's a naked girl lying unconscious on our doorstep."
Malcolm's eyebrows shot up in surprise and he stood and followed Ruth out to help Adam.
Adam had draped his jacket over the girl and was waiting patiently as the two arrived.
"Adam, why haven't you just called an ambulance?" Ruth asked in mild exasperation.
He gestured to the two to kneel down with him. After a quick glance at each other, they complied.
"I think we should take her inside and talk to Harry about it."
"Why?" Malcolm wanted to know.
"Look, when I was walking back here tonight I was approaching from that direction," Adam pointed to his left. "There was nothing here. And then, I saw this bizarre silver light flash by," he waved his hand from right to left to demonstrate, "and then there she was. And look at this..." he tucked his jacket around the girl more tightly, lifted her slightly off the pavement and jerked his head at Ruth and Malcolm to look.
"Oh my god," Ruth gasped as she looked. She ran shaking fingers over the cracks and indentations in the pavement under the girl's body. "It looks like she hit at high impact and high speed." Ruth looked back up at Adam in amazement. He nodded.
"But there's not a mark on her," Malcolm commented as he glanced at the girl's unblemished skin. He took the girl's wrist in his hand. "She's alive."
"So, she's not going to the hospital. We're taking her inside and talking to Harry," Adam said with a tone of finality.
Malcolm shrugged out of his coat and draped it over the girl as well as Ruth went and pulled open the door to Thames House.
"Looks like it's going to be one of those days," Malcolm muttered. Adam nodded in agreement as he carried the girl inside.
Once through the pods, Adam went to the right down a hallway to lay the girl on a couch, Malcolm close behind. Ruth spotted Jo and Zaf and strode purposefully towards them.
"Right, Jo, Zaf, need your help. Adam's found a girl outside, she's unconscious and she might be injured, we're not quite sure. Jo, the poor thing hasn't got a stitch on, see if you can find something we can dress her in. Zaf," Ruth paused and spied Ros across the room, "come with me."
Zaf followed Ruth over to where Ros sat at a computer terminal.
"Hi, Ros, look we need help. You have some basic medical training so can you take Zaf and find any medical supplies we have and take them over there?" Ruth pointed in the direction of the hallway down which Adam and Malcolm had disappeared.
Ros looked at Ruth questioningly but nodded and got up to search for the supplies. Ruth went and grabbed some bottles of water.
Harry gazed out his office window, a frown creasing his face as he watched the team scrambling around. He sighed, slapped his hands on his desk and stood up. He walked out of his office and stood, observing the bustle.
"Will somebody tell me just what the hell you think you're doing?" he roared.
Jo, Zaf and Ros, their arms already full of the items Ruth had requested, stopped and as one turned to Ruth, who looked at each of them, sighed, dropped her head, and then approached Harry.
"Er...well, Harry," Ruth began hesitantly.
"Yes?" Harry encouraged as he folded his arms across his chest.
"Adam called a few minutes ago, he'd found a girl," Ruth continued.
"Well, let's call a press conference then, shall we?" he commented acidly.
"No, sorry, not...not like that," Ruth stammered. "He found a girl lying in front of Thames House, naked and unconscious."
"And has he called an ambulance?"
"Uh, no, we brought her inside."
"What the devil for? Ruth, we are not MI-5 stroke medical center," he snapped.
"It's just, there is something strange about this girl, we don't know what, but Adam wants to find out," Ruth said as she touched Harry's arm to have him follow her to where she and Malcolm had been watching the news about the earthquake. Special reports were still broadcasting.
"You saw what happened in Cardiff?" Ruth asked, indicating the news report.
"Yes, yes, very sad business," Harry answered quietly, "but what exactly does that have to do with what is going on?"
"Well, a lot of eyewitnesses are saying they saw this sort of silver wall of light cutting through Cardiff during the quake. Adam said he was coming back here and he saw something very similar flash by in front of the building and then the girl was just there. She's naked and unconscious, but so far as we can tell she's alive and maybe uninjured. But the ground beneath her Harry, it was cracked and indented just underneath her body as if she'd hit at high speed. Adam might be able to tell you more, I don't know."
Harry gazed steadily at Ruth and finally sighed. "I assume you're getting things organized?"
"Yes, Jo is finding some clothes and Ros and Zaf are getting the medical supplies. I've got some water and fruit."
Harry gave Ruth a small smile and Ruth relaxed in relief. "Show me."
"Look, I realize that as a man you seem to need every chance you can get to leer at a naked woman, but I want you out of here so I can examine her," Ros snarled at Adam as Harry and Ruth approached.
"It's nothing to do with that. I'm not leaving her," Adam countered quietly, his hand tightening around the girl's small, fine-boned hand. He looked back down at her face and started stroking her forehead again.
"Everyone out, now, please," Harry said calmly. Adam looked up and frowned, unwilling to move from the girl's side. "Please," Harry said again. "Ruth, you stay here with Ros and help check over our guest's condition. Adam, I want you and Zaf to go outside and see if you can find any more clues as to how she ended up here. Jo, Malcolm, I want you two to go over every single news report you can find of people talking about this wall of silver light," he paused as they all looked at him. "Move!"
They dispersed to their various tasks and Ruth looked at Harry. "What are you going to do?" she asked curiously.
"I'm going to have a drink," he growled and stormed back to his office.
An hour later, Ruth walked into Harry's office. A bottle of his favorite single malt scotch sat on the desk and he idly toyed with an empty glass.
"What have you got?" he asked.
"We're all gathering in the meeting room just now."
Harry got up and followed Ruth to the meeting room.
"Ros, what is our guest's condition?" Harry asked as he sat at the head of the table.
"Apart from the fact that she's unconscious, I can find no other injuries. I would say that she passed out from shock and trauma brought on by some ordeal or something. We can say this, however," Ros paused and looked at Malcolm.
"She seems to be human, but there are some differences," Malcolm finished for her.
Harry narrowed his eyes at Malcolm. "What sort of differences?"
"Well, we don't have extensive medical equipment, however, Ros took some blood from the girl and it looked a bit...odd is the only way I can describe it. So I took some blood from Ros and we compared the two. There are definite and distinctive differences that anyone would notice. It's probably good that Adam didn't take her to a hospital."
"Not quite human?" Harry asked in a flat tone and sighed. "And what have we found out about this wall of light business?"
Jo stood up and went to the display of a map on the video at the front of the room.
"Malcolm and I searched every possible source of information we could find. All reports agree that the epicenter of the quake is also where the first reports of this wall of light come from."
"Cardiff," Harry interrupted. Something about Cardiff niggled at the back of his mind.
"Yes. We were able to get some satellite photos of Cardiff at the time of the quake. As you can see," she explained, pointing at the photo, "the light starts here and moves east. From the timing of the reports we found, it looks as though the light did not in fact begin moving until after the quake was over. From the reports we read through, the light traveled east from Cardiff all the way to just east of London and then it vanished, completely. 90% of the thousands of reports on this light are being discounted or ignored by authorities and that struck us as a bit strange."
"Any other reports of unusual people just turning up?" Harry asked.
"Right. Ruth, go make sure our guest is now dressed and comfortable, Ros I want you to go ahead and back her up in case there's any change in the girl's condition..."
"HELP MEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" The primal scream of terror knifed through their minds causing them all to grab their heads and cry out in agony. The scream was followed by confused images of blackness, stars and a strange aurora of lights surrounding them. The images were followed by strangled sobs that grew fainter and finally faded away.
"What the devil was that?" Harry snapped and winced.
Adam and Ruth looked at each other and immediately jumped up and ran to the girl.
Ros knelt by Zaf, who was unconscious and Jo handed around tissues to everyone to wipe away the blood that was dripping from all their noses.
When Adam and Ruth reached the room, the girl was sitting up, her entire body rigid and shivering and her eyes wide with terror and panic. Ruth reached out to the girl, but Adam put a restraining hand on her arm as he peered closely at the girl.
"Wait," he requested quietly.
The girl slowly turned her wide and blank-staring eyes toward them. Her breathing was fast and heavy and the two of them could hear a strange, whimpering, keening sound in their heads. Not as loud as the first scream, but low and anguished.
Adam took one slow step closer to the girl, his hand on Ruth's arm causing her to do the same.
"Is she...she's crying in my head," Ruth gasped and Adam nodded.
"Mine too. We have to be calm," he turned his attention back to the girl. He tried to stay calm so as not to frighten the girl, but visions of Fiona, shot and then dying in his arms began to nearly overwhelm him. This girl had the same look of terror. He fought to block the memories and stop the tears that burned his eyes.
The girl blinked. Ruth and Adam quickly glanced at each other.
"It's okay," Ruth began in a low, soothing tone, "we're here to help you."
The girl blinked again and with a strangled gasp, she collapsed back onto the couch like a puppet with cut strings, tears leaking from her eyes. Ruth carefully moved to the girl's side and knelt beside the couch, Adam followed suit. The girl's eyes flicked across their faces for a few moments and then met Ruth's concerned gaze. Ruth was startled by the depths of those eyes, but did not break eye contact. Ruth saw something change in those eyes as if a decision had been made and watched as the fear and distrust slowly faded.
"Wh-where am I?" the girl asked faintly, her voice barely a hoarse whisper.
"Thames House," Ruth answered, keeping her voice low and soothing. The girl's gaze shifted to Adam.
"M-I5 headquarters in London," Adam added, copying Ruth's low tone.
"London? This...this is Earth?"
"Yes," Adam managed to answer calmly but Ruth could see the look of surprise on his face and was sure it matched her own.
"I'm Ruth and this is Adam. Do you know who you are?"
The girl's eyes met Ruth's again. "Prime Aisling Flynn," she answered her voice a bare whisper.
"Are you thirsty? Or hungry?" Ruth asked. The girl nodded and Ruth reached for the glass of orange juice on the table by the couch. "It's orange juice," she said as she handed it to the girl.
The girl nodded and sat up, gratefully accepting the glass with a still slightly trembling hand. She drained the glass with a slight grimace and then carefully set it back on the table.
Adam stood up causing Ruth and the girl to look at him.
"I'm going to move those chairs over here, more comfortable and I'm going to tell Harry and the others to wait to come back in here. We don't want to overwhelm our guest just yet." He gave the girl a small smile and she returned it with a faint one of her own before turning her attention back to Ruth.
"How did I get here?" she asked, her voice sounding stronger now.
"Adam found you outside, unconscious. He brought you in."
The girl, 'Aisling,' Ruth reminded herself, frowned and shook her head. "I remember the lights..." Aisling trailed off, her eyes unfocused. Then her eyes snapped back into focus and she looked down at herself. Her fingers brushed the jeans and t-shirt Jo had provided and Ros had dressed her in.
"Where are my clothes?" Aisling asked in a slightly hysterical tone as she looked back at Ruth.
"You weren't wearing any when Adam found you out on the pavement," Ruth explained. Aisling's mouth dropped open and her gaze flickered to Adam as he approached with the chairs and put them down. She turned her gaze to the floor as a blush crept across her face.
"It's all right, I didn't look," Adam reassured. Aisling looked at him intently. Her face twisted briefly into a frown, she shook her head, blushed again and returned her gaze to the floor. Adam and Ruth looked at each other and shrugged.
"Do you know how you got here?" Ruth asked gently.
Aisling shook her head and brought her fingers up to massage her temples.
"Can you remember anything?" Ruth continued, trying to encourage the girl.
"I remember…" Aisling paused and sighed, "I remember the lights. They were so beautiful."
"I...my head hurts."
Ruth poured some more orange juice into Aisling's glass and handed it to her. Aisling smiled thinly in appreciation. Aisling looked up and Ruth saw her start and looked back to see Harry standing in the doorway.
"Hello, Aisling, is it?" He greeted her with a kind smile. Aisling nodded. "I have to say," he continued an almost fatherly tone to his voice as he moved to sit next to her on the couch, "you have brought us no small amount of excitement, but I suppose that is the way of young girls," he finished wryly.
Aisling dropped her head and turned her eyes to peer at Harry. "I'm sorry."
"Well, for now I think you need rest and you can't stay here." Harry looked questioningly at Ruth, who stared at him a moment and then reluctantly nodded. "Ruth will take you home with her. Get some rest and talk to Ruth. If you need help of some kind we'll see what we can do. Try to remember what happened." He gave her a quick pat on the back and stood up. "Adam?"
"Be right there," Adam replied and Harry nodded and walked out. Adam took one of Aisling's hands. "Take care," he said, giving her a reassuring smile and then stood up and left.
"Can you walk?" Ruth asked, taking Aisling's hand to help her stand.
"Yes, I think so." Aisling drained the orange juice and placed the glass back down on the table.
Ruth led the girl out of Thames House and out to her car. Aisling looked around curiously.
"This is London?" she asked. Ruth furrowed her brow, but nodded.
"Yes," she said simply, though she was tempted to say more. She had to remind herself that the girl wasn't quite human. It took some doing to get her head around.
Ruth opened her car door and looked at Aisling. "Best get in," she said and Aisling turned and looked at the car a moment before opening the door and getting in.
Ruth drove them to her house, answering Aisling's occasional questions. The girl seemed content to have the window rolled down and her head stuck out the window looking around at the city. She parked in front of her house and got out of the car and Aisling quickly followed her.
"Are you hungry?" Ruth asked Aisling as she unlocked her front door.
"I am now, I wasn't before," she said and followed Ruth into the house. She spotted Ruth's cat and let out a squeal of delight and rushed over.
"Hello, gorgeous," she burbled to the cat and began to stroke it. "I love cats," she breathed.
Ruth smiled and walked into the kitchen to see what she could make for dinner. A love of cats though had put her firmly on the girl's side.
"What's your name then?" Aisling asked the cat.
"That's Fidget," Ruth supplied and walked over to join the girl. She gave her cat a quick scratch behind the ears. "I don't have much in, so we'll have to get a takeaway, is there anything you prefer?"
"Well, I'm not very picky when it comes to food," Aisling told her.
Ruth nodded. "Right then," she said and went back into the kitchen to get a selection of menus from a drawer.
As the women idly chatted over their food, Aisling began to realize that she'd been unconsciously using her Talent to set the people around her at ease and helping them to trust her. She felt a momentary pang of guilt, it was borderline misuse of Talent, but what choice did she have? The fact that they clearly didn't have Talents emerging meant she was not in the past, at least, not her own. Somehow, she was in some alternate world, and she was completely alone. She could only hope these "security service" people might be able to help her, so she pushed her guilt aside and let her low level empathy do its work.
Surely, she'd be able to figure something out.
**\/**Cardiff, Torchwood Hub**\/**
"Jack," Gwen said as she lifted her head from the monitor, wincing as her muscles protested the sudden movement. She looked around. Where was Jack? She noticed Ianto, asleep with his face on the keyboard, but there was no sign of Jack.
Gwen yawned hugely and stepped away from the computer, taking a long stretch to work out the kinks from being bent over the bloody machine all night. But it had paid off, she was sure she'd found something.
She bounded up the stairs to Jack's office, but he was nowhere to be seen. She growled in annoyance and decided she needed some coffee. She poured the last of the coffee into a mug and took a long drink. She made a face at the taste, but drained the rest of it anyway. Now, she had to find Jack.
She went to the bank of monitors that the CCTV cameras fed to and let her eyes wander over them. There he was! On the roof. She was in no mood to go out there, however, so she pulled her phone from her pocket and called Jack. She smiled as she watched him jump as the sound of his phone startled him. She watched him flip open his phone and hesitate before he finally answered.
"What?" he sighed.
"Get in here, Jack, I think I've found something."
"On my way," Jack said and snapped his phone shut.
Gwen left the monitors and went to start more coffee brewing. After what she'd found, she was sure they'd all need their wits about them. She stared at the coffee maker until she heard Jack's step behind her.
"So, what is it that you found?"
"You're not going to like it," Gwen said in a dark tone as she led him over to her computer.
"I didn't think I would," Jack retorted.
Gwen pointed at the screen and then folded her arms across her chest as she watched Jack's face.
"I mean really not going to like this," Gwen warned as Jack looked at the screen, paused on an image of a man, scratch that, not just any man, an MI5 agent, carrying an unconscious girl into Thames House, followed closely by a female agent. He took in the indented and cracked pavement behind the two agents.
Jack's expression darkened. Thames House. MI5.