By DJ Forrest
Mitchell awoke in the early hours of the morning to the sounds of heavy breathing beside him and the strong odour of sweaty dog. He shifted his position, his arm felt cold, numb and damp. Wolf gave a soft growl as Mitchell moved.
“You’re lying on my arm.” He retrieved his arm from under the wolf’s neck and sat up feeling the instant pins and needles, and gave his arm a rub to stimulate it. The room spun and he paused before he got properly to his feet. His insides knotted and rumbled. He was hungry and felt sick at the same time. Finding his feet he pulled on his clothes, partly warm from the wolf lying on them, scented still from Reuben’s flat. A nauseas feeling washed over him and he just made it to the dimly lit toilet and threw up in the pan. He was grateful he couldn’t see in the dark dank downstairs washroom just what it was he’d thrown up, given that he’d not eaten for the past 12 hours. He shivered, his stomach contracting pushing to throw up again. He felt like shit.
Straightening up he sluiced water around his mouth, cleaned his teeth, the fresh mint sharp on his tongue but welcome from the bile and acidic taste of the coppery residue. He knew it was blood, it had been the same at the old movie house, something hadn’t agreed with him. He put it down to food poisoning, he’d been feeling crap for days. The beatings hadn’t helped much either. It came that he hated Wednesday’s and his stomach would knot up dreading that day when Brody would finally kill him like all those before him.
Wolf was still sleeping when he returned to the room to locate his trainers. Whatever Wolf did all day was a mystery, but every morning and when he returned late at night, the wolf would be asleep either by the cupboard in the kitchen or on his bed.
He pulled the wooden door closed behind him, pulled up his collar of the new woollen coat, a gift from Reuben, and made his way along the quiet litter strewn streets towards the regular ‘pick up’ point.
The air hung cold and the smog blocked out the sunshine with a veil of greyness that blanketed the entire city even at this time of the morning, the early morning rush hour was beginning in every street, road and avenue heading to the big smoke. Across the city everywhere people were going about their everyday lives.
He rested his back against the wall, and felt the clammy hands of the damp morning cling to his skin. He had to get away from here. He’d do the job, get what Alex asked for and leave, if Lexy didn’t come, he’d go without her, he would. He would!
His stomach somersaulted as he saw the black sedan take the junction into Summersby Road and pull up beside him. So used to travelling in the back of the government car he paid little attention to the passenger until he took his seat and saw Reuben, in full suit and tie, briefcase separating them on the back seat, solemn look.
Paul, the regular driver, took an unfamiliar route, and Mitchell grew nervous! They drove passed the usual run to the apartment, and along quiet back streets with the view of the river never far from them. The car pulled up and parked alongside a quiet piece of road, a cul-de-sac, dumped mattresses and oil drums, a battered fridge freezer and a mound of turf and gravel dumped beside overgrown verges and derelict industrial estate turn offs. Paul switched off the engine and climbed out and stepped away from the car. Mitchell’s instinct was to get out and run. He reached a hand for the lock as the internal locks clicked - shut. Mild panic rose to extreme fear.
“I thought we could talk.” Reuben broke the silence watching the nervousness of the often relaxed and casual young man beside him. He saw Mitchell hesitate at the handle. “I thought...I actually thought after all that I’ve done for you, and what you’ve done for me that...” Reuben stopped. Mitchell turned to face him.
“I’m the bit on the side, the one you pay money to fuck, there’s nothing between us only business.”
“I know.” Reuben forced a smile.
“Unlock the door.”
“I want us to talk.”
“Mitchell! Why are you really here?”
“Because you pay me for sex and I do what I’m told. Please unlock the door.”
Reuben shook his head. “It’s not that. Colin would normally provide me with a boy and that would be it. You’re different; it’s rare he would sell me someone of your calibre quite so readily. So the truth. Why are you here?”
Mitchell always knew the bubble would burst eventually and that the truth would come out, but sitting in the back of the black sedan with tinted windows and parked down a derelict cul-de-sac he wasn’t prepared to give his death speech quite so readily.
Mitchell, his gaze tilted towards the man’s upper coat pocket detected something metallic, heard the whirring of a recorder and leaned over the briefcase. A look of worry etched its way over Reuben’s face, but as Mitchell planted a kiss upon his lips reciprocated the action, his arousal awakening although somewhat cramped and still buckled into the seat. Mitchell, slipped his left hand into Reuben’s inside pocket of the rich tailored suit and switched off the voice recorder. It’s whirring ceased and it fell silent. He broke from the kiss and sat back in his seat.
Reuben’s heart raced even for a few moments after the boy sat back down, his trousers were tight about the crotch and he was grateful to be in the car, not in his office, not in a corridor, he’d never be able to walk this off for a while. He looked at Mitchell, a gaunt figure of a boy who had come so readily to bed with him, pleasured him far longer than any other boy he’d paid for – ever!
“Who are you?” Reuben patted his forehead dry with a cotton handkerchief he’d pulled from his trouser pocket and wished he could wind down the windows; he hated everything electronic, how he wished for the old fashioned handles.
“You know who I am.” Mitchell gazed front. Suddenly he turned to face the older man, with the paunch of many rich meals, more than Mitchell could ever afford. “I’m whoever you want me to be, no questions asked, I do what you want, I perform for you whenever you call. In the dead of night, in the early hours, whenever you want me I’m always there. That’s who I am!” He lowered his head, he was degrading himself but he knew that no matter what, that was all likely to change very soon.
“The young man I take to my bed at night, which I send my driver to collect, who laughs at my jokes, who fixes my laptop and shows me a good time, and yet I know nothing about you. There’s no data on you in any public records, no National Insurance details, no birth documents, it’s as if you don’t exist.”
Mitchell’s mind ran back to the children’s home, to old man Greer and his teachings. He was a friendly old man, he cared for all the kids, he wasn’t a typical Fagin, he wasn’t a thief, but he wasn’t, and Mitchell was sure of it, he wasn’t a typical human either. Mitchell shook his head, that must have been a dream, he told himself, nobody can transform into another creature, that’s impossible!
He heard Reuben call his name and broke from his thoughts to look at the government man.
“Who are you Mitchell, if that is even your real name?”
“Does it matter?”
“In my job, yes, for national security, you have to have an identity.”
“Perhaps it’s just as well I don’t, if you’re going to check up on me. Did you check up on the boy who had his throat slit by your boss?”
“Did you check out all the boys who have come to you and you’ve given willingly to Brody?”
“Then why am I suddenly so different?”He growled.
“Because...I love you!” Mitchell stared open-mouthed at the confession from Reuben. “There, I’ve said it. You’ve done something to me I never expected to feel for another. I’ve been toying with these feelings for weeks now. In all the time I’ve worked for the Ministry I’ve kept my feelings separate from my job, but now I can’t. I can’t focus, when I try and think of my job, I think of you. When I see my wife, when I’m in bed..with ..my...wife, I want to be in bed with you.” Reuben’s eyes filled with tears, a confession he couldn’t pull back. “Say something.” He begged.
“Open the door.”
“I can’t. Paul has the key.”
Mitchell clutched his head, rubbing his fingers through his uncombed hair and groaned. He turned to look at Reuben. “You were just a meal, somewhere to go from the cold, somewhere to feel safe, to feel loved, just for a few hours, before I go back to my shit hole of a life.” He growled and kicked at the front seat. He felt stifled by the heat and the close proximity of the older man. He felt the bile rise in his throat again, sweat beads glistened on his face. “This isn’t how it’s meant to work.”
“Well it wasn’t how I planned my career either.”
“NO you don’t understand. This...this was never meant to happen. If you’d have just left....” he sighed and rested his head back against the headrest. Reuben frowned.
“I don’t understand, what do you mean, if I’d have just left what?”
Mitchell sighed and loosened the coat from around him, his t-shirt hung loosely from his shoulders.
“What happened to you?”
“I got sick.”
Reuben paled. “You mean you’re... that you’ve got...”
“No, think it’s something I ate. I’ve been off my food for a week or two, just can’t keep anything down.” He laid his coat on his lap and felt slight comfort from the exposure to the air. He turned to look at Reuben and wished Paul would save him the confession, but Paul was nowhere to be seen. “This was meant to have been an in and out job, screw you, get the plans and leave.”
“Plans?” Reuben felt punched in the guts. “So you...you were like the others after all.”
“I’m nothing like the others.” Mitchell growled. He swallowed back the bile rising in his throat and closed his eyes a moment, quelling the nausea. “I owe someone...I owe someone big time. This job was to finish my association with him.”
“I can’t say.” He could hear Reuben’s disappointment in his voice, see it in his facial expressions and he felt sorry for the man. Sorry that gullibility would be his downfall.
“So you were using me?” Reuben saw the boy nod and sighed heavily. He lifted out the voice recorder and stared at it for a moment. “You know, if you’d only told me this when we first...the first night it would have saved me a lot of heartache now.”
“Nobody has to know.”
Reuben held up the voice recorder. “This is linked to Brody, everything that we have said here, he’s listening to on another line. Everything...my confession and yours.”
“I switched it off.”
“Back there, when I kissed you. I could hear it whirring away, I knew, as soon as I got in the car, and the fact we’re parked here and not heading to your apartment. I need the blue print of a ship you have housed in a bunker somewhere. I was told you had it. I get that and I’m debt free, and I’m out of your life, out of Al....out of his life, I’m gone.”
Reuben lowered the voice recorder and felt used. He was angry, hurt and right there and then wanted to take a weapon and beat the boy to death. But it wasn’t in him to be violent, he was a weak man, he knew he was, more often than not, he’d send a good man to die, or a bad man to walk into the arms of another. Brody wanted Mitchell, something about the boy interested him, and it was only after he’d beaten the boy and sexually abused him through sado-masochist treatment that he’d also taken a phial of his blood to test his theory. “I could kill you.”
“I know. But you won’t.” Mitchell lowered his gaze to his woollen coat on his lap. “I’ve never met anyone like you before. In all my association with men, you’re the only other man who showed me kindness. I never meant to hurt you.” He glanced up and saw tears in Reuben’s eyes. “For what it’s worth, I...I never stopped thinking of you either.”
“Liar!” Reuben spat and broke down.
“Liar!” Reuben spat and broke down.
“No, I’m serious.” He moved the briefcase to the floor and inched along the seat, putting down his coat into the floor well. He took hold of Reuben’s hand clutching the voice recorder. “I never wanted to do this job in the first place, but when you’re faced with my boss, and his two thugs who will break your legs permanently, I didn’t have much choice. But Brody scares the shit out of me too, so I’m stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. I never wanted to hurt you. I just wanted the blueprint and then I’d leave. You have done so much for me.” Mitchell felt the prickle of tears and the heavy lump in his throat. He sniffed as he stroked his hand over Reuben’s. “If there was a way around this, don’t you think I would have tried it? But I’m scared of losing you, of what we had...have.” He corrected himself. “I feel safe when I’m with you, a sense of belonging.”
“These are just words to humour an old man.” The government man scoffed.
“No I’m serious. I’ve never felt like this, had these feelings for another man before. Please. I don’t want to lose you, but without those plans I will. I’ll lose everything.” He found himself shaking emotionally, tearfully, and tried hard to pull himself together. He found the confessional a relief, a chance of saying what he had to before it was too late. He wasn’t to realise how close that was likely to be.
Wolf opened his eyes after the boy left and got up as a human. He visited the bathroom after hearing the boy throw up and could tell on the air that something was not altogether right, the usual vomit aroma was stifled by that of something more internal. He returned to the room and sat on the bed remembering the nights’ events as if it were only a few hours ago. The boy was sick, and Wolf knew it had something to do with Shepperton. It was time to pay the businessman a visit!
Captain Jack Harkness stared at the scribbled phone number on the scrap of paper as he took his morning constitution on the roof of the ‘abandoned’ building in Park Street. It had been many years and many deaths since he’d heard that name and now with the possibility of hearing her voice again, he hesitated. His last meeting with Lexington Barlow had been during a visit to the Care Home of Congleton Kenzie, a strange out of town children’s home that offered everything a child who wasn’t quite human, the comfort and ease of integration into human life. But as he recalled Hainey was an exceptionally difficult child to institutionalise. A mutant child at birth, his abilities to conjure thought forms had been one of the reasons he’d been moved on from his last home. The children there hadn’t been informed of the magical and often mythological creatures that were conjured up in the bedrooms while they slept, and awoke to fire breathing dragons, or snakes that petrified the child turning them to stone. Eventually, Hainey found his way to London and in the relative care of Lexington Barlow was given a home, a life, and an income. He lived in an old bedsit, fully run by himself, for his own means, where dragons, tigers and any creature he chose would enter his world and exit at his choosing. All he had to do, was help out at the homeless shelter one night a week.
And it had been there, that Hainey had found Mitchell.
Jack held the phone close to his ear, the wind was buffeting his legs and the strong breeze threatened to push him back from the ledge. He refused to allow it. He heard the phone connect and smiled as her soft English tone, answered.
“Hello Lexy! I got your message!” His eyes softened at her voice, her sudden realisation at who she was talking to.
“Jack?” She gasped. Then a pause, in the background a door closed, noise muffled. “You have no idea how long it’s taken to find you. Where have you been?”
“Oh you know, around.” He laughed. A pigeon crapped on his boot blown by the gust of wind coming in off the ocean. He tutted, pulled a face and declared war on the bird, making the shape of a gun with his hand and showing his evident disgust by imagining he’d blown the bird to smithereens. The bird sat above him on one of the discs and ignored him.
“I tried all the regular contacts in my phone book, I suppose I should have just tried Directory enquiries.” She laughed sarcastically and heard the same back.
“What’s up, what’s happened?”
“Quite a lot, but I don’t wish to discuss it over the phone. How soon can you get to London?”
“Couple of hours, why?”
“Do you remember the place you brought me to after Karla died?” She stared at the photograph of her mother on the wall of her apartment. She was only in her early thirties when the man lovingly embracing her in the photograph killed her. But it was the only photograph she had of her mother that hadn’t been destroyed.
Lexy checked her watch and calculated the time. “Meet you there at 4. Until then Jack.”
Lexy sat at the table on the plaza sipping a warm cappuccino while constantly checking the time on her mobile. She’d said 4pm but there was no sign of Jack and she began to wonder if he’d forgotten the location or had called off the meeting. As she paid for her coffee and left the cafe and walked up to her car, parked opposite a rundown church, its poster still begging for parishioners, although its history a little tarnished. She pulled her key from her shoulder bag, the alarm bleeped and she reached for the door as a deep American voice spoke from somewhere behind her.
“Thought you were never going to finish that coffee.”
She spun around to see the same smiling young man that she’d met all those years ago and couldn’t stop herself from embracing him, inhaling the pheromones that she’d always thought was aftershave. “Oh Jack, I’ve missed you.” She felt overwhelmed by his presence and fought to control her emotions but failed miserably.
He laughed at her embrace but welcomed it, holding her close, inhaling her sweet perfume and kissed her on the head. “Missed me huh?” He laughed again.
She hadn’t changed, perhaps a few lines here and there, but she was still that pretty sweet girl he’d saved all those years ago, and would save countless more times, without question.
“So tell me what’s so urgent that I had to come to London?” They were in her apartment drinking coffee. Her work done for the day, she sat beside him, and withdrew a folder. On the front of the brown carded sleeve was the name of a boy. Mitchell!
Jack’s smile faded and he leaned forward putting down his mug, he lifted the heavy folder and opened it. Jack skipped the first page, it was in his own handwriting, he knew what it said, he remembered the boy. But as he read the next few pages, the boy he remembered as a baby, had grown up and was now living rough in London.
“He needs you Jack. It’s your turn to take over.”
“Why did he leave the home?” Jack lifted out the photograph of the young boy, only a few years old when he remembered leading him into Old Greer’s office. The boy was into everything, fascinated by machinery and electronic gadgetry.
“As far as I can make out he was bullied and left after a beating.”
“No kids in the home. Greer looked after him, did what you asked, as have I, and Wolf. We’ve all looked after him but I’m worried about him Jack. Something’s going on, something dangerous, and I’m scared for him.”
Jack put down the folder on the floor by his feet and turned to look at Lexy’s very concerned face. She used to frown like that as a young teen too. “Tell me...everything, leave nothing out. Tell me where I can find the boy.”
Wolf dabbed at the cuts to his elbow and face as the door pushed open and Lexy followed by Captain Jack Harkness stepped into the squat. He turned briefly to look, a scowl crossing his face as he saw Jack and returned to his injuries.
Jack had visited shit holes before, and this was no different. The usual piss ridden smells from downstairs toilets where the sewer rats would climb out of the pan if the lids were left up, but the coppery scent hung on the air and he screwed his nose up. He entered the hovel of a living room, an unmade bed, the sheet dishevelled, pizza boxes and polystyrene food trays littered the floor. Something indistinguishable was rotting in the sink and beside the wall near a row of cupboards housing nothing but more pizza boxes and dishes that you wouldn’t want to risk eating from. Jack kept his hands in the pockets of his great coat and cast a disgusted glance around the room.
Lexy examined Wolf’s injuries, she didn’t need to ask where or how he’d got them, something already told her where he’d been.
“We’re looking for Mitchell.” She examined his eye and the cut above it, and using what supplies that were in her bag, patched the worst.
“He left this morning, he won’t be home for a while.”
“Where did he go?” Jack piped up, remaining in the middle of the room, any further and he was afraid he’d contract something.
“He’s working for a government body. Ministry of Defence.” Wolf growled. Jack seemed slightly impressed until he caught Wolf’s eye.
“In what capacity?!”
“Rent boy.” Wolf pulled himself away from Lexy and to the bed, pushing past Jack abruptly. “If you had only answered your phone messages, none of this would have happened.” Wolf growled, studying his shirt for tears and blood.
“I was busy.”
“Too busy to care for the boy, the one you swore to look after?” Wolf shot Jack an evil glare.
“I couldn’t. He was better at the home than with me. You know what my job is like, I can’t guarantee where I’ll be any day to the next, the role of the job is....”
“Screw your fucking job.” Wolf was on his feet, face so close to Jack, he’d have ripped it off in a second. “They were right about you Jack Harkness....I should have listened to Caleb, the first chance you got you gave up the boy, Grandig gave his life for your Torchwood and this is how you repay him.”
“Enough, the pair of you.” Lexy shouted. “Grandig had a choice the same as everybody, he chose to let the moon consume him.” She defended.
Wolf turned to face her, his eyes dark and foreboding. “The moon’s power is strong, it takes a lot of willpower not to be consumed by its power. Grandig knew that, the brotherhood were aware of how strong the power is, and they know that when Mitchell reaches his 25th birthday, that he too will possess the power. You and I know that we can’t keep Caleb away from the boy forever, his power will come....”
“Yes I know....at a price. Don’t you think we know that?” Lexy defended again. “We took an oath Wolf, the same as Grandig, that we had to protect the boy from Brother Caleb, before the alignment, when all the planets converge and the moon is most powerful. But if we tell him, he’ll only go looking for Caleb, he’ll know what he is, I thought the plan was that we didn’t tell him of his future.”
“Well while we’re standing here arguing Mitchell is somewhere where he shouldn’t be. Who is the Ministry guy?” Jack didn’t need a history lesson, didn’t need to be reminded of his obligation. It had been nearly twenty years ago when he’d taken the boy to the children’s home, the child so keen to learn, soaking information up like a sponge. A part of Jack wanted to keep him, train him, but his work took him everywhere and he worked better alone, without having to worry about family or children. He pushed the sick stomach churning feeling back. There was that word again ‘family’.
Wolf sat back on the bed, the scent of the boy, his sweat heavy on the bed rose to meet his nostrils. “His name’s Brody, Alastair Brody, head of the department of Defence. Shepperton was very willing to divulge the information once I had my teeth around his throat.” Wolf recalled.
Shepperton had been ready to leave, the last few papers were signed off. He was taking a few days away, before making plans to negotiate some deals with regards to the blueprint. He’d been lining up a few potential bidders, some with money to invest, some lucrative arms dealers with more money than sense. There was always a war monger looking to cause trouble in some far flung country.
Shepperton heard noises out in the hallway, a crunch, scream, yell and a groan and had looked up the instant his soft panel door had opened with a slam against the plastered wall, rattling the paintings on the walls and in fell one the burly brute Sampson, a severe gash to his throat, eyes white and staring at the ceiling and a dog that suddenly changed into a human right before his eyes. Shepperton panicked, pushed the chair back from the desk, its wheels polished on the thin carpet. “What the hell....?” he yelled. Then the human had spotted him and Shepperton realised where he’d seen him before. “You?”
“WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY NEPHEW? WHAT ERRAND HAVE YOU SENT HIM ON THIS TIME?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about...get...get out of my office, get......aaarrrgghhh!”
Wolf flew across the desk, scattering the stress balls simultaneously off the table bouncing one after the other into the waste bin at the side of the desk. Before Alex had left the seat Wolf had transformed back to a wolf and had pushed him back into the leather and forced the chair back against the outer wall, his teeth clamped around the man’s throat biting down against his Adam’s Apple. “Where is he?” Wolf growled, his mouth full.
“Bro.....Brody!” Alex just managed, his throat tightening in the grip, stifling the air that had just been knocked from him as he’d connected with the wall, two front feet punched into his guts, the back legs on his lap. Was nobody going to come to his aid?
“Who’s Brody, tell me before I rip your throat out?”
“I can’t....breathe.” Alex gasped.
Sampson stared at the ceiling, puckered with air holes, the venting system for the entire office block. He heard a noise to his left as his hearing returned and detected the sound of his boss’s voice. The stress balls were in the bin, which was odd, as Alex rarely grew tired of the silver balls that he grated together when he was planning something. Sampson rolled onto his side and saw the blood on his shirt. Tiny droplets of blood dripped onto the sandy carpet and he brought his hand up to his neck. It wasn’t deep, not too deep that he could push his fingers in, but deep enough to notice that he was losing blood and he’d have to get it fixed. But first things first. He staggered to his feet and saw a dog, no a wolf pinning his boss to the seat, growling, his mouth around Alex’s throat. His boss was terrified, pale. Sampson looked about for something. He grabbed the waste bin.
Wolf yelped as the blinding crash on his skull resulted in him letting go of Alex’s throat. Again another bash and he yelped again dropping from Alex’ lap and turned to see a brute of a man with a gash to his neck with a silver ball that reflected the wolf. With a blinding headache, Wolf leapt at the man knocking him back, snapping viciously at the hand that held the balls. Sampson, although shaken by the dog, slammed the silver ball against the dogs’ snout, loosening a few teeth. Wolf went in for the kill.
Another came from the open door and another fought, and given that his fighting ability was compromised as a wolf transformed into a man and tussled with both men, while Alex gathered his coat and bag and made for the door. He had reached the lift as Wolf tore after him, his quarry in sight. But the doors of the lift closed leaving Wolf with the stairs.
Alex was shaken, he stared at his neck in the reflective metal in the lift, the wolfman hadn’t pierced his skin, merely marked it. He wondered if it had, if he’d become like him, a wolfman in his own right, would that affect the business, would he have to cancel late night discussions and business meetings while he howled at the moon?
The lift pinged for his floor and the doors opened. Tentatively he looked out and saw nothing like a rabid dog, or a man who resembled a wolf, with a black mane of hair, and eyes so dark that the whites were extinguished.
Alex saw the glass fronted foyer door and walked quickly towards it. He heard a growl behind him, a fire exit door close and turning his head briefly saw the wolf baying for his blood. He let out a scream, an unmanly scream and ran gripping his briefcase for fear of losing it and ran for the door. He jostled people aside as they came in, and left the building, the wolf caught up with the people at the door, now all trying to leave at once.
Alex saw his car; the sedan parked up in the usual spot and thankful for the short distance, sprinted his hardest towards the door. It was locked.
“Shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!” he cursed trying all of them.
The wolf was gaining ground.
Every door was locked. Alex, his heart in his throat, flattened himself against the car, clutching his briefcase at his chest, whites of his eyes, fear, panic. He was mentally writing his own obituary.
Wolf stalked towards his prey, slavering it snarled in Alex’s direction, saw the man pinch his toes together, try and squeeze through the metal structure of the car, as if he could blend into it, be unseen. He penetrated Alex’s mind, his voice inside his head.
“Tell me about Brody and I’ll let you live, lie to me and I will find you and kill you in your sleep.” Wolf snarled.
Alex felt warmth running down the inside of his tailored trousers, he was trembling more than he’d ever done, more than he’d done as a child when his father stood before him with a hard metal belt strap.
“Please...please don’t.” He begged.
“You want something from Brody, what is it? What is it you want the boy to do?”
Alex contemplated the next five minutes carefully, to give the wolf the information would mean that two people would be in the running for the blue print. He couldn’t risk that.
“Brody works for the Ministry of Defence. He wanted boys for a considerable amount of money and I sent him Mitchell.”
The wolf snapped at Alex’s knee and the man yelped and dropped the case, buckling the hinge and scuffing the leather corner. Alex clutched his bloodied knee, blood seeping through his ripped tailored lining.
“NO TELL ME THE TRUTH.”
“I am telling you the truth. This would clear our debt. Mitchell stole from me dammit, I wanted my money. This cleared it.....you bastard, my leg.”
“It’ll be your throat, now TRUTH!”
Wolf looked at Jack Harkness. “Alex Shepperton wants the blueprint for the Arakian spaceship that’s currently housed in a bunker that you and I both know of.” He saw Jack blanch. “Brody holds the blueprint, but he’s a dangerous man to know and according to Shepperton has already killed several rent boys who Shepperton employed to get the same thing.”
“Oh my god.” Lexy paled. “We need to find Brody.”
“He has an apartment overlooking the Thames. We may be too late, but he’s a sado masochist, and he holds all his parties in that apartment. Allegedly it’s the place he also uses to torture the rent boys when he discovers that they’re only after one thing.”
“I think I’m going to be sick.” Lexy felt nauseas.
“I wouldn’t. The boy was sick this morning, I have a feeling that what he brought up was more than his dinner. He was running a fever last night, for the last few nights he’s been throwing up blood. I’ve tried Lexy, I’ve tried to help him, but these plans of never letting him know who I am, I can only do so much for him. Every time he awoke I had to resume life as a wolf.”
“We’ll find him.”
“Let’s hope we’re not too late.” Wolf scowled.
Mitchell awoke to a stinking headache and a pain in his upper limbs. He felt a chill to his body and an uncomfy feeling that he was semi naked, if not completely. His view was obscured and the smell of leather, sweaty against his mouth and nose forced him to awaken with more of a start and realisation. He blinked but still he was blind, he kicked but he couldn’t move, he couldn’t feel his own body, but he was aware from the balls of his feet that he was on solid ground, wooden. He tried to think back, he was in the car with Reuben, they were talking, they’d embraced, they’d talked some more, then the door locks opened and before Mitchell could open the door, relieved, Paul stood in the way, a silencer in his hand and Mitchell stared down the barrel. He’d felt something hit him in the chest, but he wasn’t dead, or if he were, this was some fucking sick joke. Blind, naked and unaware if there was a hole in his chest or not and his head covered with a bag or a mask. And where was Reuben, what happened, where was he, HELP!
“You’re awake then?” Brody! Mitchell’s heart sank. He knew the end was close, he knew that he was about to die just like every other kid who had dared to run an errand for Shepperton. He’d come into this life with nothing and he’d leave with nothing!
“You’re probably wondering where you are and why you’re here, but I have a feeling that an intelligent boy like you would know straight away why you’re here.” Brody stood before Mitchell, he held a leather whip barbed at the end in one hand and stroked a knuckle duster in the other. His hands were wrapped in leather gloves, fingerless, these too were studded across the knuckles. His own suit was tight and did him no favours but it was all play, all a game, and all a thrill when blood spilled. He got off on it, Brody loved the danger. He laboured a punch hard into Mitchell’s guts, slamming the boy against the wall. He heard him cry out, saw his legs buckle but the straps securing his arms and wrists didn’t allow him to fall. He was ready for another severe beating and felt another searing pain into his guts, tasting blood in his mouth, Mitchell waited for death to take him.
One hundred and fifty one miles away, in Cardiff, Gwen Cooper sat in a cafe with Marley Hanratty. A cup of frothy coffee each and a bun and both girls chatted finding out a little bit more about each other oblivious to the eyes that watched them from an unmarked car, parked nearby. A silent figure, young, close cropped hair, earpiece fitted, listened to the conversation passing between them. His black leather gloves gripped a pair of binoculars as he sat in the passenger seat, a voice recorder connected to a parabolic microphone discreetly attached to his car picked out Gwen Cooper’s voice as well as a cacophony of other voices. The listener lifted his coffee in the Starbucks take away cup and smiled and raised the glasses zooming in on Gwen Cooper and the woman beside her. Their chatter was nothing to concern himself about, it was old news, Torchwood was hardly a name worth worrying about. But when the words Jack and Harkness were used together, the listener strained to hear all there was to hear about the target.
Mitchell gasped awake. Water ran down his face and neck and bare chest. He stared down at his naked self, raised skin around his guts, red and beginning to bruise. His skin was tight, ribs showing through. His feet were bare, this man had stripped him completely. His dignity was in tatters, he was being punished and he was going to die. He knew it, Brody knew it. He felt sick.
“Why do you want the blueprint? What good is it to you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Mitchell rasped.
“He talked you know, Reuben. Bleated like a little lamb, he thought it would save him in the end, but it didn’t.” He gripped Mitchell’s jaw and turned him to face the dead man lying crumpled against the far wall, his throat cut, bleeding out onto the plastic sheet, his face pale, lips blue. “I can’t abide people who have no backbone. Nobody has the gall to stand up to me, I reign supreme and you my boy, I have wondered about you. According to records, you don’t exist, now why is that?” Brody slapped Mitchell’s face as he continued to stare at Reuben, the tears rolled down his cheek.
“I owe someone money. It was a job, clear my debts, it means nothing to me.” Mitchell felt sick. Reuben was a gullible fool but he didn’t deserve to die. “Reuben never had it, the plans, he told me you were the only one to have them. I knew I couldn’t get them. But I’m going to die, right.” Mitchell turned to face Brody, his face hard and bitter towards the grossly overweight man in the gimp suit. “You’re going to kill me, the same as the others, so why don’t you humour me, tell me where it is, so I can spend eternity beating myself up.”
Brody laughed out loud, the ripples of flesh wobbled like a jelly on top of a washing machine on the spin cycle. He guffawed, throwing his head back, the toad like fleshy throat rippling with every movement. Mitchell teased out his wrists from their moorings. He swung a punch into the man’s neck and heard him gasp and fall back. He couldn’t speak, his trachea had collapsed and he was slowly suffocating.
Mitchell wasted no time, locating some of his clothing he pulled on his pants and searched for the data. His talk with Reuben had possibly been the reason for the hit, the voice recorder having been switched off, had stopped the communication. Mitchell found Brody’s laptop was still switched on, and unprotected with a password, located the folder and file he needed. Reuben had bleated like a little lamb, but there were reasons for his confession to Mitchell, and one that had cost the man dearly. Brody was a man you didn’t go up against, he knew too many people, lives would be immeasurably lost, families would be torn apart. But a rent boy like Mitchell, who had nothing to lose but perhaps everything to gain...Reuben liked the odds.
In the back of the car before Paul came to silence the pair, the Plan B should the voice recorder be detected, Reuben instructed Mitchell on where to locate the blue print, and which memory stick to use. But Mitchell had a better idea, and sent the complete file to a safe encrypted email address.
Brody, gasping crawled to the door realising his bounty had escaped, only to discover he was sitting at the computer. With a last surge of effort Brody picked himself up and launched himself at the boy, knocking them both to the ground. Brody could feel his trachea slowly healing, he could breathe but only just. Mitchell struggled to move against the weight of the man on top of him. A man still with the knuckle duster in his hand. He felt the pummelling force and the sweaty breath of the man against him. Forcing himself to turn and face the fat man crushing him he hooked his free hand around the back of the man’s neck and bit into the thick flabby sweaty neck, tearing through the layers of skin and tissue, feeling the rush of blood wash over his chin and up his nose. Brody’s guttural cries ceased the pummelling of the boys guts and both hands went to his own throat. Brody fell back unable to stop the steady flow of blood the tear. Mitchell spat out the chunk of flesh from his mouth, the taste of rich thick blood washed down his bare chest, bathed him in warmth. He crawled away from the man and watched him writhe, flailing his arms and legs, that made no difference, Brody would be dead and so would he.
He heard noises out in the hallway, thumping sounds on the door and glanced at the windows, double glazed. He pulled himself up, slowly, kneeling on all fours, then slowly standing he staggered to the window and pushed it open. A thirty foot drop. A wall three feet from the building, and then the drop to the river, taking the risk that he could quite easily bounce onto the wall and break not only his neck but his back. The thumping continued. He had to make a choice.
Captain Jack Harkness, Wolf and Lexy pulled up outside the expensive rich location of Murray Mackenzie’s Apartments on the Winterthorne Road and ran up the five steps into the foyer. The receptionist’s desk was empty, perhaps they didn’t keep after office hours. The lifts to the first floor pinged open, but Wolf was already taking the stairs and Jack followed after him. Lexy took the elevator. Having already discovered which apartment belonged to Brody, Wolf followed the scent.
“The boy is here. I can smell him.”
Wolf hammered on the door after finding it locked. He could sense danger on the other side, and threw himself against the door, frantic. Jack pulled him away and with a hard kick with his Caterpillar boots at the lock kicked the door open. A chunk of door frame came away as the door swung open. As Lexy caught up with the boys, their eyes fell upon the scene before them.
Jack strode over to the dead man on the ground, his throat ripped out, blood pooling around him. Wolf was in the room where Mitchell had hung from and saw the dead man in the corner. Lexy didn’t move. It was too much!
Jack felt the breeze and saw the open window and glanced down and then out. He saw something floating face down in the Thames. “Shit! Wolf, he’s in the water.” The window was too small for Jack to head after him, and the chances of him snapping his neck were too great. He left the room, his coat tails flapping behind him. Wolf climbed from the window and leapt into the water, nimbly and agile. He caught his heel on the wall as he dropped, and yelped. Unperturbed he came to the surface and glanced about him. Locating the boy, face down in the water he swam after him, the current moving them along. Jack ran out of the building and along the footpath – he needed a boat.
Pushing himself on Wolf caught up with the body and turned it over, relieved it was the boy and not an unknown, he felt for a pulse and began CPR all the while aware that while they were in the water they were drawing attention. The tug boats in the Thames, smaller boats, the coastguards, all potential and all likely to descend. The boy’s mouth was still covered in blood. The Thames carried more disease than raw chicken left in the sun, he had to get him to shore. Wolf heard the horn of a boat coming towards him. Even with evasive action, he was but a man in the water, he waved in a bid to alert the boatman to swerve, and as he thrashed with his feet, his hand cupping under the boy’s chin to move him to safety, heard Captain Jack Harkness call to him from the boat. He stopped; relieved.
Mitchell, despite protestations from Wolf was rushed into hospital. Lexy maintained her position as his doctor and remained by his side throughout. Wolf paced outside in the car park, his wet clothes a hazard to anybody in the medical facility, Jack promised to keep an eye on him.
“What kind of person keeps that much torture equipment in their apartment?” Wolf stopped mid pace and looked at Jack. “I don’t understand humans sometimes.”
Jack laughed lightly. “They often have me stumped.” He inhaled deeply and let out a huge sigh. “What did Brody have on the boy?”
“I don’t know. According to Shepperton he was interested in the boy, because of his stamina. What does he mean?”
Jack shook his head.
It was several hours before Lexy stepped away from Mitchell’s bedside. The night air was cool on her face. She pulled a packet of cigarettes from her pocket and lit one inhaling deeply. It didn’t take the smell away but it eased the shaking she found she was still doing, and it wasn’t from the cold. She hadn’t left Mitchell’s side although he oblivious to anything, so far out of it, the surgeons doubted he would ever wake up. Internally his body was a mess, his guts had ruptured and Wolf had been correct, he’d thrown up his insides more than once. He’d been bleeding internally for days, weeks perhaps. She’d quietly cried as the surgeon walked away after giving her his verdict.
She cast the cigarette away as a familiar face came into view.
“Those things’ll kill you.” Jack smiled lightly. “How is he?”
She looked at him, still as young as ever, while she grew steadily older although never as wise. “Oh Jack.” She sobbed.
He held her close as she cried, clinging onto him, shivering against him. The horrors of what she’d seen still etched into her mind.
In the quiet canteen they sat with a cup of coffee each. Lexy stared at the froth on her cappuccino, the brown sugar sat like a mound on top of the froth and showed little sign of breaking through the thick barrier of foam.
“He’s dying. We’re too late. After everything, everything we did, one stupid move...” she spat. “One bloody credit card theft and he’s been punished over and over and over again.” Lexy gritted her teeth to quell the tears. She sniffed.
Jack placed a hand over hers and squeezed gently. “It’s not your fault, you did everything you could for him.”
“He asked me to run away with him, to leave London.” She looked up at Jack, her tears staining her cheeks. “I turned him down, I broke his heart. He was in love with me and I said no. It’s my fault.” Her face creased up and she cried again.
Mitchell lay in ICU, hooked and wired up to machines, a tube breathed for him, wires monitored his pulse including the clip on his index finger. He lay flat in the bed, a nurse was checking the board at the end of the bed, and signing it off. Wolf watched her leave and entered the room, closing the door behind him. He had changed his clothing, on instruction from Jack. A laundry room provided him with clean dry clothes, some a little tight, others a mismatch of varying trends, nothing from the recent decade.
Wolf drew up a chair, removed his jersey, focused on the Mitchell’s injury and set to work.
“The authorities will be looking for Mitchell, it won’t take them long to figure out who did this, especially if he has form.” Jack lowered the coffee cup.
“As far as I’m aware he didn’t have form, he kept his nose clean.”
“You said he stole a credit card.”
“Shepperton never pressed charges. He made certain the boy paid off the debt.”
“Still, a man like Brody would have had some form of protection set up in the apartment.”
“He did.” Lexy opened her shoulder bag and lifted out the camera device that had sat on top of a book case in the main room. “It was rigged up with the laptop. There were levels of CCTV all around the rooms, even the one with the torture equipment. While you were out with Wolf I ran a complete systems check on the computer and erased the files, including the data file he had on Mitchell.”
“Other people could have access to that laptop, was it an open line?”
“They were documents, I suppose it is possible, but Brody by all accounts would play that close to his chest, given what he keeps in his back room. If the Defence department got wind of that macabre set up I’m sure he wouldn’t be long in the job.”
“Oh don’t you kid yourself. I ran a system check on him too, while you were with the boy. He’s been with the department for nearly 20 years; he’s the guy they used to use in the Intelligence bureaus, those guys who would extract the information by any means possible.”
“You mean a ‘go to guy’?” She studied his face for a reaction.
Jack didn’t answer. He shot her a look.
“Three boys found face down in the Thames, their throats cut. How long would Brody have tortured Mitch before he too went the same way?”
“A perfect opportunity, get rid of the body out of the window.” Jack pushed his coffee cup away and made set to leave. “You should go home, get some rest.”
“I’m not leaving him.”
“He’s not going anywhere, not if you say he’s that bad.”
“He can’t stay in London. If Shepperton knows he’s still alive he’ll still want the blueprint.”
“What are you saying?”
“You have to take him with you back to Cardiff.”
“You’re his only hope.”
“Who the hell do you think I am, Obi Wan?” He pushed back from the table and got to his feet. He was NOT taking the boy back with him.
Wolf felt his head spin, he felt sick, sicker than eating out of date left overs from a bin on the East Filey road waste bin. He slumped forward on the bed, his lips, his face, his body weakening. He saw Lexy coming along the corridor, alongside the matinee idol or so he liked to think he was, Wolf detested Harkness, he was typical of the humans who promised the earth then took it from you. How he longed to shake these shackles and return to his own skin, his own existence.
Lexy pushed open the door in time to see Wolf collapse. Quickly, as Jack kept an eye out she cradled the man’s head in her arms. “What have you done?”
Wolf swallowed slowly, his eyes barely strong enough to remain open. “I saved his life.”
Jack glanced at the boy in the bed, at the monitors, from being at death’s door, the boy was far from it. But as he saw Wolf, he knew instantly what had happened.
“Lexy, we always talked about this. What we sacrifice to protect him.” He saw her tears. “Don’t cry. You knew it would come to this. Now hurry, take the boy and go. I’ll do the rest.”
Lexy and Jack were travelling on the M40 out of London when the hospital staff realised something was wrong with their patient in ICU, but by then it was too late. Wolf had maintained human form until his heart gave out, but Jack and Lexy were far from the hospital, Mitchell was carried from the hospital out of the fire exit, and was now asleep on the backseat of the car. Jack drove as Lexy slept. It gave him time to think.
Lexy was right, he had forgotten about his obligation to Grandig, and while he drove back to Cardiff, Grandig played heavily on his mind till they reached the border and would continually plague him for many weeks to come.
They arrived in Penarth a little after three in the morning, and parked outside one of Torchwood’s safe houses. Jack carried the weak and sleeping boy into the bedroom, and laid him on the bedsheet, his head on the single pillow. Locking the door, Lexy watched Jack settle the boy.
The apartment had once belonged to an operative of Torchwood, but who, she was unsure, but it had been used quite recently, fresh furnishings, plug ins, fresh and clean cupboards. Out with the old in with the new she mused. Opening the cupboards she found coffee and sugar and tea, no milk.
“Will you ever tell him?” Lexy asked, leaning her shoulder against the door frame as she glanced in at the sleeping boy. She turned to look at Jack. “He doesn’t remember Grandig, he doesn’t remember the man who saved him, protected him.”
“Perhaps it’s best he doesn’t know.” Jack glanced at the boy before looking back at Lexy, so tired. He sighed. “Sometimes the truth isn’t always the best course of action.”
“You can’t hide this forever. One day he’ll need to know who his father is. Would you want to live in ignorant bliss, knowing there are people out there who are searching for you, because of who you are?”
Jack laughed lightly and pushed his hands into his pockets. He sighed as he watched the boy’s chest rise and fall in sleep.
Jack was quiet for a while. “You’ll stay, right? We’ve got plenty of room.”
“My life is in London.” She continued to watch the boy.
“You took an oath too, to protect him, same as Wolf.”
“And I will, but he is your responsibility Jack and when he’s up and on his feet, I’ll return to London. What will you do with him?”
Jack gazed back at the boy. “I don’t know.”
In a rich upholstered leather dimpled walled office, behind an expanse of mahogany desk sat a peaked army cap. A cigarette box containing filtered sticks of expensive tobacco, a letter opener with the Queen’s crest upon the handle sat in regimented fashion beside a desk lamp the only light in the room, old hands turned the pages of a manila brown folder. In the semi darkness of the room, the young man stood, his hands behind him, back straight, military pose, he watched as the old Major deliberated on the findings.
“Do not underestimate the Captain, Lieutenant Goodson, he will come across as a very friendly, charming man, a dazzling smile to win you over, but he will expect something in return. Are you certain you can give what is expected?”
“Sir I have been observing Captain Harkness since his arrival back in Cardiff, he appears to have teamed back up with Operative Gwen Cooper but another appears to be operating with her in the new location. Her name is Marley Hanratty, she’s a bit out of her time. I took work within the department when that crocodile appeared.”
The rich accent, deep background within the military, medals of honour, for bravery, heroism, backstabbing and underhand behaviour on both sides of the fence, Major Harriman looked up from the folder.
“Captain Harkness has taken the boy from London, the evidence from these CCTV footage are as much as telling me that he will be keeping the boy close. You must return to Cardiff. You must infiltrate Torchwood and bring me the boy.” Harriman returned to the papers separating the blueprint from the photo of Mitchell. “Harkness is the key, with Harkness we find her, with the boy we’ll unlock the secrets on the Arakian ship. But we need all three. Good luck Goodson, but be careful, behind those eyes, Harkness is a devious soul if he suspects for one minute, I will be the least of your worries.”
Harriman closed the file as the young soldier left the room, and traced his fingers over the title.