I do not own The Tower and the Hive, Torchwood or Spooks (MI-5)
"Okay," Jack snapped as he turned away from the monitor to face Gwen and Ianto. "You are absolutely certain that the Rift went that way, right in front of Thames House," he asked Gwen as he gestured briefly at the monitor.
"Yes, Jack, I'm positive," Gwen assured him. "It took most of the night for me to track the Rift on the CCTV. The Rift flashed past Thames House and when it was gone, that girl was there," she stabbed at the monitor to emphasize her point.
Ianto was leaning over the computer and studying the footage of the Rift as it passed Thames House, leaving the girl on the pavement in its wake.
"She must have come through the Rift, somehow," Ianto muttered and then straightened up. "I guess we have to go and get her then?"
"She came through the Rift, we have to," Jack stated. "I'm just not sure how we're going to handle going up against MI5."
"Forgive my stupidity, but don't we have some kind of working relationship with the security services?" Gwen wanted to know.
"I've managed to mostly avoid it, up until now, it seems. I do have a sort of favor I can call in, it might help us," Jack explained, but he didn't sound very convincing. Gwen frowned and looked at Ianto, who shrugged.
"It's no use asking me anything," Ianto said and walked away to pour himself some coffee. Gwen turned back to Jack.
"You going to explain that remark or what?"
Jack gave Gwen an exasperated look, shoved his hands in his pockets and walked away. Gwen let out a noise as she waved her hands in irritation before slapping them down to her sides and going back to the computer. Sometimes it was easier to get blood from a stone than get information out of Jack Harkness.
Ianto walked up and put a cup of coffee down on the desk next to her.
"I don't suppose he told you anything."
Gwen shook her head, picked up her coffee and took a sip. "No, course not, why Jack Bloody Harkness answer any bloody questions about his bloody past," Gwen snapped in a low voice.
Ianto put a calming hand on her shoulder. "I shouldn't worry," he said, trying to sound comforting.
"Not worry? Ianto, someone's come through the Rift and for some bizarre, unknown reason MI5 have taken her in. How are we going to get her and take care of the situation?"
"Well, I don't know, we'll think of something, though. We always do."
"I wish Tosh and…." Gwen trailed off as the words stuck in her throat.
"I do, too, but it will be fine. You'll see," Ianto said softly. "Maybe they just think it's some girl who got attacked," he added.
Gwen looked at him, not quite believing and shrugged. "Doubtful, but anything's possible I guess."
"Right, so drink your coffee and I'll…I don't know…get things ready in case we need to go."
Gwen nodded and picked up the coffee cup. "Thanks, Ianto."
Jack sat in his office and watched Gwen and Ianto through the glass. His brow furrowed as he tapped a pen on the desk and then tossed the pen aside and yanked open one of the drawers in his desk. He rummaged until he found a slim leather wallet and placed it on the desk. His hand strayed to the pen where it had landed at the edge of the desk. Picking it up, he began tapping it again as he stared at the wallet.
It might help it might not, either way they had to go to Thames House. Whether MI5 knew it or not, they were harboring an alien and Torchwood had to take care of it.
Aisling opened her eyes and sat up. As she took in her surroundings, the smile faded from her face. It had just been a dream. She was still here, trapped in some alternate world and no way of knowing if or how she could get back home.
"Aisling, there's tea ready if you want some," Ruth called through the cracked-open door. Aisling hadn't "felt" Ruth's approach. It seemed her abilities were still unreliable after whatever it was she'd been through.
She made a noise of assent and climbed out of the bed, dislodging Fidget, who scampered out of the room, no doubt to be fed.
Ruth was shorter than Aisling, but the kind woman had left a skirt that might look okay and a top draped over the chair near the bed. Aisling realized she would have to find some way of going shopping. She wasn't sure how, since she had no money in this place. Ruth was kind though, she would probably help.
Aisling pulled the clothes on and studied them in the mirror as she finger-combed her hair. The style was strange, and extremely old-fashioned to Aisling's eyes, but they would suffice. She took a deep breath and headed down the hall towards the kitchen.
Ruth looked up from the toast she was buttering and smiled.
"Good morning, I hope you slept well?"
Aisling nodded as she sat down.
"I did, thank you," Aisling replied and reached for the teapot to pour herself some tea.
"I have a lot of work to do today, but um, I'll take you in with me. Harry wants Jo and Zaf to look after you today. Maybe they can take you around London."
"That would be nice."
Ruth studied the girl over the rim of her tea mug after they both fell silent and Aisling began to eat. The conversation they had had over dinner last night had left Ruth frankly astounded. A world where people had psychic gifts and used them in everyday life and in space travel no less! Ruth wasn't sure if the girl was delusional or not. She was inclined to think not, however. The strange way she'd been found, the fact they'd all heard the girl in their heads, it was hard to think the girl was lying. Ruth had asked Aisling to show her some telekinesis, but the girl had said her abilities, her Talent, Ruth could hear the implied capital "T", didn't seem to be functioning properly.
Ruth wondered what Harry's plans for the girl might be. They couldn't just keep her around. She wasn't an agent and despite the fact the girl seemed harmless enough, they had no way of dealing with someone like this. Ruth put down her tea and picked up her toast. Hadn't she heard of some sort of organization that handled things that were, unusual, she thought to herself as she ate. She was sure she'd heard whispers around GCHQ back before she transferred to MI5. Something about fire or torches or some such…she couldn't remember.
Ruth noticed that Aisling seemed to be fidgeting and realized she'd been silent too long.
"I know it's not much, but I know you don't have anything of your own, so here," Ruth began as she reached over and picked up the teapot. She put it down in front of her and then gave the handle a sharp jerk. Aisling's eyes widened in surprise as the handle popped off and Ruth extracted a small, tight roll of paper. She placed the roll on the table and put the handle back on the pot then unrolled the paper. She straightened it out as best she could and then handed it to Aisling.
"There's only about 150 quid there, it's sort of an emergency back-up fund," Ruth explained. "But you can use it to maybe get a few clothes."
Paper money! Aisling was surprised. She'd heard about paper money having been used in the past in her world, but had never really seen it. She closed her hand around the bills tightly.
"Thank you, Ruth, that's so generous. I'll find some way to pay you back."
Ruth simply smiled and nodded before standing up to clear the table.
"Look, I'll clear the table, you do whatever you need to do before we go," Aisling offered.
"Very well," Ruth agreed and went back to her room to finish getting ready while Aisling cleaned up.
"Oh, bloody hell," Ruth grumbled as they walked outside to discover it was raining. She hurriedly opened her umbrella as Aisling bounded down the path to the street.
"You'll be soaked," Ruth admonished.
"It's fine, I don't mind. I love the rain," Aisling enthused as she essayed a twirl and giggled. Ruth sighed and shook her head, but couldn't fight a small smile.
They paused to get tube tickets.
"Excuse me, do you have any change, it's not taking notes," a man asked.
"Um, hang on," Ruth said and dug into her purse. "Nearly, not quite."
Aisling stood nearby and waited her back to Ruth and the man as she watched people hurry past while she hummed to herself.
"That'll do," the man said. He turned and to start walking away as Ruth called "No, no, no," after him.
The man didn't see Aisling at first as he turned to walk away and promptly tripped over her foot.
"I'm so sorry," Aisling gasped and reached out a hand to help the man up. Ruth bustled over.
"Are you all right?" Ruth asked in a concerned tone.
"Fine," the man grunted.
"Oh, here's your change," Ruth said and pushed the money into his hand before he could rush away.
The two women watched the man nearly run into the station.
"I didn't mean to have my feet in the way," Aisling said contritely.
"Sometimes you need eyes in the back of your head," Ruth told her. "No harm done. Let's go."
They rushed down to the train just in time to hear the screams.
Aisling grabbed Ruth's arm and looked around, her eyes wide.
"What is it?" Ruth asked as she watched the color drain from Aisling's face.
"Someone's fallen in front of the train," Aisling replied in a bare whisper. She put a hand to her temple and closed her eyes to try and close out the mental chaos. Fine time for her telepathy to decide to work, she thought with disdain.
Ruth craned her neck around at Aisling's statement, but there were too many people for her to see what was going on. She looked back at Aisling and saw the girl's discomfort.
"Let's get you out of here, we'll take a taxi," Ruth said and led the girl out.
By the time they'd reached the Grid, the accident was all over the news. Ruth gestured Jo over to take charge of Aisling. She caught sight of the picture of the victim and gasped in recognition. It was the man who had asked her for change. She pulled the note out of her pocket and glanced at it before striding off in search of Harry. She gestured him to follow her into the kitchen and quickly told him what had happened that morning. She handed him the note.
Harry examined both sides of the note carefully in the sunlight streaming through the window as he and Ruth stood in the kitchen. "There's nothing on it."
"Are you sure? It has the feel of a classic drop."
"That's the trouble with spies, always looking for meaning in everything," he teased as he handed her back the note. "Are you and the girl okay?"
"Yes, I am," Ruth replied.
"Are you certain?" Harry asked his concern evident on his face.
"It's silly I know, it's just a stranger, but I can't quite get the image out of my mind. It all happened so quickly and um…god…sorry…" Ruth broke off. "The girl was far more upset than I was."
Harry put a hand on her shoulder. "Sweet tea, that's what you both need," he said and he turned to rummage in the cupboards.
"There was something in his manner," Ruth began.
"Tea bags?" Harry broke in.
"Um, second shelf down…his face was, um, I wish I could describe it…it was like he was trying to tell me something," Ruth finished uncertainly.
"He was about to kill himself. I'm not sure how much you could read from his face," Harry said in reassurance as he put the mugs down next to her.
"I know," Ruth sighed.
"Your imagination, especially after a shock like that, it could play tricks," Harry continued.
"I know," Ruth added. She broke off as Harry's mobile rang. She picked up the mugs as he turned his back to her as he answered it. She picked up the mugs as he finished speaking and snapped his phone shut.
"I would like to give the note to Malcolm, see if he can find anything."
"Fine, if you feel it's necessary," he told her and patted her shoulder again. "I'll see you later."
Ruth carried the tea into the room where Aisling sat with Jo. The girl still looked slightly shaken, but was improving. Jo was distracting the girl with talk of clothes. She handed a mug of tea to Aisling and then went to give the note to Malcolm.
Aisling took a sip of the tea Ruth gave her.
"How much will you have to shop with?" Jo asked.
Aisling dug into the pocket of the skirt and held the money out to Jo, who took it and counted it.
"You should be able to get a few nice things. We can go whenever you're ready."
Jo and Aisling looked up as Zaf appeared in the doorway.
"Harry said we can have a car," he told them with a grin and flipped the keys.
Aisling looked relieved. She didn't want to have to go down to the "tube" again. "That sounds good."
Zaf winked at her.
"I'll be at my desk when you're ready."
Aisling could feel a blush heating up her cheeks as from the corner of her eye she saw Jo raise an eyebrow. Jo reached over and patted Aisling's knee.
"Hey, I fancied Adam when I first met him," she confided in a whisper and Aisling couldn't help but giggle.
"C'mon, let's go get Zaf and have him take us to Zara. I'm sure we'll find something there you'll like."
Aisling smiled and nodded eagerly. She might as well enjoy herself while she was here, she thought as she pushed the memory of the tube station to the back of her head. Meanwhile, there was Zaf.
He was funny and sometimes very charming as he drove Jo and Aisling around, and carried their bags as they shopped. Aisling couldn't help sighing over his big brown eyes and his smile made her heart stop. She knew it was a mistake to get involved, but looking and daydreaming couldn't hurt.
Jo kept giving Aisling sidelong looks every time Zaf was more solicitous of Aisling than he was to Jo herself. It was a shame the pair seemed to be quite smitten with each other. Jo realized she would have to find a way to remind Zaf that they knew nothing about this girl, that she wasn't even fully human. He couldn't afford any sort of romantic relationship with the girl.
When they stopped for lunch, Jo was relieved when Aisling went to find a ladies' room. She sat down facing the direction Aisling would approach from and then leaned over to Zaf.
"Zaf, be careful."
Zaf looked at her in confusion.
Jo shook her head at him. "You know what I mean."
"It's just some harmless flirting. She's very pretty," he said with a shrug.
"Zaf, I can tell that you like her, and she just as obviously likes you, but you know nothing can…."
"Jo, I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself."
"I'm not doubting that Zaf, but we don't even know who she is, or anything about her."
"Harry and Adam both seem to trust her fine. We wouldn't be helping her otherwise. No doubt they know something we don't."
Jo shook her head again. "Zaf, I like her too, but I'm not going to make the mistake of fully trusting someone we don't know."
Zaf snorted and turned away to take a drink from his glass of water.
"We also don't know how long she'll be here."
"I'm not that soft. I'm hardly in love with her."
Jo opened her mouth to say something else, but noticed Aisling coming over and said "I'll have the chicken."
"I will, too," Aisling added as she dropped into the chair next to Zaf and across from Jo. Jo glanced at Zaf from the corner of her eye, but he seemed completely intent on Aisling now. Jo wondered if maybe her attempt to warn Zaf had had the opposite effect. She really should have known better. And Aisling seemed quite taken with Zaf, too. Jo sighed.
Zaf held Aisling back when they returned to the Grid. Jo gave him a hooded look from where she stood behind Aisling, but he ignored it. Jo shook her head and went inside.
"Maybe I could show you around town tonight?" he suggested.
Aisling thought about it a moment. "Okay," she agreed. "As long as Ruth hasn't already made plans for us."
"Great," Zaf said and held the door open for her to go inside.
Aisling found Ruth seated at her desk and quickly pulled a chair over to sit down.
"Um, Ruth, Zaf has asked if he can show me around a bit tonight, do you mind?"
Ruth looked up from the file she was reading.
"Well, I had made some dinner arrangements for us, but Zaf could come along if you like."
Jo had already spoken to Ruth about Zaf's infatuation and this seemed a good alternative.
Aisling smiled and nodded. She saw Ruth turn and followed the woman's gaze to see Harry standing there. She had to stop herself moving her chair at the intensity of feeling coming from Harry and Ruth. There was clearly something there, but when she and Ruth were chatting last night, Ruth hadn't mentioned any relationships. Aisling wondered if they knew how the other felt.
"How is our guest doing?" Harry asked Aisling after nodding hello to Ruth.
"Well, thank you. Jo helped me get some clothes and I saw some of the city," she told him.
Harry smiled. "Good."
An idea suddenly occurred to Aisling. "Ruth, Zaf and I are going to have dinner tonight, why don't you join us?"
Aisling focused past the mental and emotional clamor coming from Ruth and smiled winningly at Harry. Harry blinked in surprise and his smile this time was much larger.
"Thank you. I will, if Ruth doesn't mind."
"Um, no, fine," Ruth stammered. Aisling felt smug in her victory, but kept her expression bland. It was clear that although Ruth had feelings for Harry, she was avoiding acting on them. It was also clear that Harry had feelings for Ruth, but wanted very much to act on them.
"Then, I'll meet up with you here before we leave," he said before heading back to his office.
"Well, that will be nice," Aisling remarked after Harry was gone.
Ruth gave Aisling a look that Aisling returned blandly. Ruth shook her head and bent back to her file. She would have preferred not to have dinner with Harry Pearce, but it would be a small group so hopefully it wouldn't set tongues wagging. She couldn't deny that she was looking forward to spending time with Harry, though.
Aisling awoke early the next morning and grimaced. Could last night have been any more awkward? She sighed. Ruth and Harry, overly conscious of each other's company had toyed with their food in between sneaked longing glances at each other and boring, desultory conversation.
Aisling had looked forward to flirting with Zaf, but Zaf, painfully aware of propriety now that his boss was around, had been pleasant, but guarded. Aisling wanted to scream from frustration and was beyond relieved when the agonizing evening had ended and she was finally back at Ruth's house. She hadn't been sure she could keep up under the pressure of all the repressed emotions she could feel around her like a tangible presence.
She dragged herself from bed and went into the kitchen. Ruth wasn't up yet, it seemed. Aisling turned on the kettle to make tea and leaned against the counter as she waited and found herself wondering what Harry had in mind. He has asked her several innocuous questions about herself, but she wasn't fooled. He clearly had something in mind and since her Talent was so unreliable, she wasn't sure what. But her Talent not working did not affect her ability to read someone's body language and she wondered what he was planning.
Ruth quietly placed her mobile on the bedside table, wondering what Harry was planning. All he would say was that he did not want her to come in at all today. The implication being not bring Aisling in, since he knew Ruth would never leave the girl on her own. She was simply too unknown to risk leaving unattended. She heard Aisling moving around and decided to get up. Maybe they should plan some sort of day out. She wasn't sure why, but something in Harry's tone had made her feel as though she should get out of the house.
Harry put down the phone and sighed. He was grateful that Ruth seemed willing to do as she was told. He opened his desk drawer and his hand lingered over the bottle of single malt for a moment before it wrapped around his mobile. He flipped the phone open and read the brief, four word text from an unknown number.
"Calling in my favor"
Harry frowned. He knew who it was and he had an idea why the favor was being called in now, of all times. Aisling's mysterious appearance clearly hadn't gone unnoticed by them. He dropped the phone into his pocket and as if it had a will of its own, his hand moved to hover over the bottle of single malt once again.
Harry looked down at it and shrugged. Might as well. He opened the bottle, poured a measure into the glass and quickly drank it down. He then poured another, which he drank just as quickly, before placing the bottle back in the drawer and closing it.
Jack sat in the SUV and gazed up at Thames House.
"Are we going in there or not?" Gwen asked impatiently, jolting Jack from his reverie.
"I'm going in, you and Ianto are going to wait here and keep an eye out."
"What for?" she demanded in an annoyed tone.
"In case she shows up while I'm inside. If she does, you and Ianto bag and tag and get out of here."
"Just let me know. I can make my own way back, don't worry about me. I just want to make sure we get her out of here with as little violence as possible."
Jack speared Ianto with a look. "The faster we get this done, the better."
"How do you know they won't just hand her over?" Ianto wanted to know.
"Just trust me," Jack sighed and slid from the vehicle. He straightened his coat and strode inside.