By DJ Forrest
It had been a week days since they’d arrived in Cardiff and holed up in a safe house away from prying eyes and interference from any quarter. Mitchell was still asleep, his wound healing, and Jack had never left the room for more than a few minutes. Even now as the boy murmured in his sleep, the sheets down around his middle, sweat glistening on his skin, Jack stared at the boy while in deep thought.
It had been years ago, more years than he cared to think about, way before his latest team, way before Alex. He’d been sent across the other side of the world on a mission from Torchwood, to search out an alien civilisation. It had been reported that one such creature was trying to make contact, trying to be an ally to the human world yet had so far met with opposition.
After Jack had traced its history from North America he discovered that the ally was none other than Porlicanthus, a man he’d met off world. Locating him in an old Inuit settlement Jack learnt a great deal more about the man, who resembled a North American Indian, one of the Ciu Sioux tribes. They worshipped the wolf, the protector of their species. They came and went about their business, occasional livestock disappeared when the moon was high, and only on rare occasions was a young child from a neighbouring village taken, one to continue the blood line.
But something happened late one night to change that forever, and the Ciu Sioux scattered the length and breadth of the world. Jack couldn’t remember all the details of the change, only that the Ciu Sioux no longer existed.
Porlicanthus was the son of the great ruler of the Ciu Sioux tribe that had scattered and set up home in the highlands of Scotland in the late 1900’s. They’d crossed the wild universe in search of a resting place, somewhere to put down roots, but because of the ruling of the moon, their resting place often brought with it danger and the threat of extinction. The wolf population in Scotland dwindled to the point of almost extinction, the lycanthrope tribe disappeared and only remnants of the old order were discovered in monasteries in the deepest most cultural parts of the Scottish hillsides where many villagers still lived in fear of the wolf, of the myths and legend; of the werewolf.
When Jack met Porlicanthus he was still a traveller, a lone wolf. He still held memories of his tribal past but he had disassociated himself from the brotherhood. Caleb, the father of the tribe, was an old devout warrior who believed that those in the family only strengthened the unit and any who left must be brought back in line. If they had offspring, these too must be brought into the group, and trained and honed to the laws of the brotherhood. The teachings were so strict that Porlicanthus had to leave, he knew that if his father was allowed to continue, the war between the humans and the Ciu Sioux would grow and a final battle would ensue.
But the old man as devout as his teachings and that of the old ways sent out his followers to keep a track of his son and report back as often as possible. The old man was not ready to let go.
When their paths crossed, Jack was being set upon by two large bounty hunters from the Pethsquearia Division who had been led to believe that Harkness was the man responsible for their dead comrade when in fact that had been down to Porlicanthus. It was only after they’d met up did they both realise, that they had been sent to find the other.
“You know when I sent the message I wasn’t expecting someone like you.” Porlicanthus stroked his bristled jaw.
“What, dashing, good looking...?” Jack asked brushing the dirt from his long coat.
“Someone who brings trouble with him. I was hoping for a quiet interaction.”
“Hey trouble follows me, I can’t help that. Goes with the coat.”
Jack smiled and was brought back to the present by the loud cry from the bed. Mitchell sat bolt upright, sweat running in droplets down his face, chest heaving, a look of sheer terror on his face. He stared ahead of him, shaking. Jack was on his feet in an instant. It had been a nightmare.
“You ok?” Jack asked, studying the boys face. The eyes shifted to look at him. His face deceived him as he nodded.
“Yeah...who are you?”
“It’s not important right now. You want some water?”
Mitchell studied the man who was coming into focus, as the nightmare blended into the shadows of the room. He was dressed in military attire, blue shirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbow, shirt open by two top buttons. He had dark braces on his shoulders and military trousers and Mitchell trembled. His last memories before he’d leapt from the window, was that he’d escaped from a military building before whoever had been hammering at the door had entered. Now it seemed that whoever they were, one of them was sitting on the end of the bed looking at him.
He saw a door but the man had a hand on the bed sheet, his leg still under the covers and he doubted he’d make it to the door before....he clocked the holster, and even if it were for show, which he doubted, he didn’t feel strong enough to reach the door, and what if on the other side was Brody? He wracked his brain, he was certain he’d killed him, certain he’d ripped his throat out, tasted the thick fatty flesh of the man’s throat, felt his hot blood wash over his mouth, up his nose, down his neck. He gagged just thinking of it.
“Do you need the bathroom?”
Mitchell nodded. If it was through that door, he’d be one step closer to freedom. He accepted the man’s help as he got from the bed to the door. His legs felt like jelly, his head swam, he could taste bile rising in his throat.
Jack with a hand around the young man’s skinny waist helped him to the bathroom along the corridor. There was barely any weight in him at all. The light was still on in the bathroom and as he pushed the door he saw Lexy freshening up.
“Sorry, thought it was vacant.” Jack apologised as he held up the boy.
Lexy glanced from the mirror as Jack entered with Mitchell. Her eyes locked with the young man and she turned properly to view him. He was awake but he looked terrified. She watched as Jack lifted the lid and helped the boy down still unsteady on his feet. She studied Mitchell, something about his manner, she’d seen it before.
“What’s happened?” She asked as Jack stepped away from him and towards the sink in the large wet room.
“Nightmare! He’ll be fine, he just needs...Hey!”
It had been enough for Mitchell to make a run for it as Jack stepped away from the door. Finding a hidden boost of energy he ran down the corridor, his hands pressing against the wall to booster him along, but every door to him was locked. There were no windows either. He rattled every handle, slapped his hand on every door, pushed, panicked, and only wearing his boxers felt the dampness of fear soak into them. He heard the heavy footsteps of the soldier running along the corridor, saw him block the exit back to try the other side of the building.
“Mitchell, it’s alright, you’re safe here.” Jack maintained eye contact. He could tell the boy had wet himself, the pool of dampness by his left foot was evident, and he knew there were no leaks in the house.
“Open the door.” Mitchell recalled himself saying that once before, when Reuben was alive, when he’d asked him who he was and now he felt it all over again. Someone would open a door and he’d be back with Brody.
“If you want out you’re going to have to get dressed, it’s too cold out there for just your boxers.” Jack smiled, lightly.
“Open the fucking door.” His voice faltered. He watched Jack fumble in his pocket for a key, a large door key.
“You want out, you open the door.” Jack growled tossing the key to the boy, it landed by his right foot.
Mitchell snatched up the key quickly looking back at Jack. He hadn’t moved. Shakily he tapped it around the lock before finally inserting it home and turned the key till it clicked. As he pulled open the door feeling the sudden cold draught, Jack slammed it shut, his hand just visible in Mitchell’s eye line. Mitchell had taken his eyes off him. He yelled in fright and lashed out, catching Jack in the jaw with a right hook. Jack staggered back and rubbed his jaw, and laughed.
Mitchell felt a red mist fall like a veil over his eyes, a deep anger rose in his belly, before him he saw only Brody and launched himself at Jack, pushing him over onto his back and clamped his teeth around Jack’s throat, while his free hand rooted for the key for the door. Jack struggled to breathe as he felt his trachea closing, he punched Mitchell in the gut, tried to wrestle the boy off him.
Lexy heard the commotion and ran to the kitchen for the device she’d seen in the drawer the night before. She switched it on and ran calling to Mitchell, she hoped she wouldn’t have to use it, but as Mitchell didn’t respond, she fired the tazer hooks into Mitchell’s back and fired it up. It had the desired effect. He released hold immediately, arching his back, crying out, small flecks of blood around his mouth where he’d broken the skin around Jack’s neck.
Jack pulled himself away, a hand to his neck, eyes to his hand and stared at the limited blood loss. He watched the boy cry and writhe at the tazer till he lay quite still on the carpeted floor. He edged cautiously over and felt for a pulse. The boy was out cold. Lexy stared at Mitchell, in all the years she’d known him, this action had taken her by surprise.
“He’s never...I’ve...!” She trailed off.
Jack removed the hooked barbs from Mitchell’s skin, tiny droplets of blood trickled down his bare back. “Run a hot bath.”
“I meant for Mitchell. Then make up another batch of that soup.”
Lexy stared after Jack. He caught her gaze.
“Lexy, he was terrified, whoever he thought we were, panicked him enough to want to escape. We have to prove to him that we’re not the enemy.”
“So if he attacks you again you’re going to drown him?”
Jack smirked. “No, but good idea.” He sat back on his haunches and looked at Lexy. “Go run the bath then let me do the rest. Take yourself out for a couple of hours. Get some fresh air, might ease that sickness.” He saw her cheeks flush red and smiled. “You should maybe get that checked out.”
“It’ll be a bug, or food poisoning. I’ll be fine.” She assured him and left to run the bath.
Mitchell awoke in bed, propped up on three pillows, clean sheets and dry underwear. He felt comfortable and the salty aroma of a meaty bowl of soup sat on the table beside the bed. Jack sat as if nothing had happened, albeit visible bruised bite marks around his neck. The man smiled at Mitchell, a reassuring safe smile, not a sinister, evil, calculated one.
“Hi! How are you feeling?” Jack asked. He saw the boy study the bite marks and laughed it off. “You barely got me, just a scratch.”
“Who are you?”
Jack smiled again. “Captain Jack Harkness.” He caught the boy frown and knew somewhere in the databanks of his mind he’d be trying to remember. “Eat this, get your strength up, then we’ll talk.” He lifted the bowl onto the table over the bed and held out the first spoonful of warm soup out for Mitchell and grinned. “Here comes the aeroplane!”
The safe house was literally as it was, safe. Miles from anywhere remotely linked to civilisation, Lexy climbed into the driver’s seat of her sports car and drove into the city. It was still nightfall and the stores were closed bar the 24hour superstores with their Dragon FM music blaring up and down the aisles. Lexy didn’t want to think about the sickness but she did as she wandered along the aisles, pushing a trolley that contained only her shoulder bag, containing her sidearm and purse and all manner of importance only relevant to her. There was a woman with black hair muttering in a strong Welsh accent at a larger man with a healthy beer gut, who was pushing a trolley with a toddler, chewing on a piece of crusty bread. They were bickering. Or rather the smaller, petite woman with the black hair was bickering, and moaning while the man defended himself. Lexy shook her head, she didn’t want to know. But yet the sickness and the baby and the aisle she walked along, the Clear Blue box and the range of prices and packets, baby wipes and cough sweets all gathered along the same aisle forced her to face facts. If this was food poisoning then she’d have remembered the way she felt last time it occurred, the level of pain in her stomach. She didn’t have stomach ache! If it were a bug again, she’d feel nauseas but also have the cramps! She only felt sick, light headed, nauseas!
The woman was bickering again, a loud NO then childish giggling and another hit from the charts played over a tannoy for extra help at the checkouts. Lexy lifted the Clear Blue into the trolley and continued on her shop.
Mitchell sat up after the meal, a set of fresh clothes lay on the bed, shirt, jeans, fresh underwear, socks and shoes, and a hooded top, colours he may have chosen for himself, all new, all soft and comfortable. All something he remembered from Reuben. He sensed Jack watching him and looked up towards the door.
“Once you’re dressed we’ll take a walk, you can ask me anything you want.” He retook his seat over in the corner in the large comfortable cloth upholstered armchair and watched Mitchell.
“Don’t you have something else you’d rather do?”
“No I’m good.”
Mitchell dressed slowly, his back turned to Jack and slipped on the jeans finding their fit snug but comfortable, yet all the while he wondered what the Captain had planned for him. His stomach somersaulted at the thought.
“Where am I?”
“Cardiff.” Jack responded.
“Where’s that?” Mitchell turned as he lifted his booted foot onto the bed to tie his laces.
“Wales. Can you remember anything before you arrived here?”
Mitchell paused. How could he forget? He resumed tying his laces and put his foot back on the floor. He stood up; his slim body required another notch of the belt. He pulled on the hooded top and fastened it up. Jack smiled.
“I think I preferred you naked.” He smirked.
Mitchell’s stomach flipped.
“Why am I here?”
“It’s not safe for you in London. You’re my responsibility from now on.”
“I don’t need a minder. Where’s Lexy?”
“She’ll be back soon.”
Mitchell cased the room, again no windows, low lighting above the areas where windows should have been, two doors one for the closet and one for the exit into the hallway. There was a phone on the wall, but likely it would be monitored and who would he call.
“The wolf, I don’t suppose...”
Jack’s smile faded. “I’m sorry, he didn’t make it.”
“I don’t...” Mitchell narrowed his eyes. “He was in the flat, the house, how do you mean he didn’t make it?”
Jack fell silent.
Outside the building and the only lights came from over the front door and the stars. The moon hid behind a cloud. Coolness hung on the air and both Jack and Mitchell’s breath was visible in the light. Mitchell pushed his hands into the pockets of the hooded jacket and hunched his shoulders.
“It’s colder here.”
“We’re on the coast, it’s always colder.”
“So tell me what it is you couldn’t explain inside the nice warm building.” Mitchell stared at the man whose face was partly silhouetted in the light.
Jack sighed and focused on the boy. “What you have to understand is that, not everything is as black and white as you think.”
“Just tell me already!”
Jack chewed on his lower lip and paused with effect. “I’ve known Wolf a long time, you only saw one side of him, I saw both.”
“You want another bite in your neck?” Mitchell hated cryptic clues, he was already growing tired of the conversation.
“Wolf wasn’t just a wolf.”
“No, he was a man. A human.”
Mitchell burst out laughing. “Oh man, you’re crazy you know that. Wolf was a canine creature, he was not a man.” He growled.
“Wolf was your Uncle.”
Mitchell punched Jack in the face, he’d heard enough to realise that whatever else came from Jack’s mouth was not to be believed. As the man staggered back, Mitchell blended into the darkness and put a distance between him and the safe house, and most importantly between him and Captain Jack Harkness.
At the checkout her trolley containing more than the pregnancy kit, Lexy lifted the groceries onto the conveyor belt, behind her the Welsh couple were still bickering. It was only as the male uttered Jack’s name did she stop loading the belt and look at them.
“Do you know Jack Harkness?” Lexy questioned. Instantly she detected a change in the Welsh woman’s stance, as if mentioning that man’s name was a taboo subject, it was a pity that subject hadn’t been instilled into the rule book for the tall Welshman.
“Who’s asking like?”
Lexy hesitated a moment before answering. “He’s back.”
“Excuse me but how do you know Jack Harkness?” Gwen asked after following Lexy to her sports car.
“Enough to know that when I call him he’ll come running. I can see it in your eyes; he means the same to you as he does to me.” She lifted the groceries into the boot and closed the lid. Turning she faced Gwen, alone, her husband strapping Anwen into the car seat.
“I’m Lady Lexington Barlow, Lexy for short.” She held out her hand and noted a frown. “He came to London on a matter of some urgency. I’m surprised he didn’t tell you.”
“Well he didn’t.” Gwen replied frostily.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean it to sound as if I was point scoring.”
“Jack likes to play things close to his chest. Why would he tell me?”
“Because of why I called him.” She shivered in the cool night air. “I’d better take these supplies back before Mitchell wakes up, before he tries to kill Jack again.” She walked to the driver’s door.
Gwen frowned and stepped towards Lexy. “Mitchell?”
“I’m sure Jack will call you.” She pulled open the door and climbed in.
“Who’s Mitchell?” Gwen called after the woman slipping on her seatbelt and selecting the ignition key.
It was cold on the streets of Cardiff. The shops and cafe’s were closed, and the shutters down. Seabirds were quiet. Pigeons roosted in the nooks and crannies of non-spiked window ledges and in the empty buildings just off from the main streets. The streets were steady with traffic heading home, heading to work, heading anywhere. Empty buses were returning to the depots and trains were heading out of the station. Nightlife was coming alive in streets, in a few hours the bars and clubs would spill out into the cold night air, drunken late night revellers singing the last chorus of the song playing as they left, some throwing up in doorways or pissing up against the door. The bags of take-away food would litter the sidewalks and low walls. Only the street foxes and the lone wolf would feast on the heated meals left after the stagger home.
Mitchell lifted a tray of a half eaten slab of burger meat and fries that had just been deposited in the nearby bin and walked along the quiet Plass, in the oval bowl of lights and stared at the water tower, a monument of cascading water that disappeared into the pavement. He mused on it for a while as he sucked on the grease of the meal before discarding the tray for a half drunk Styrofoam coffee.
On another street in another part of town Clark Goodson stared at the tall BT building on Park Street and shut his car door, securing it. Taking a side entrance he keyed in a code and entered the building. Switching on his maglite he walked carefully and quietly through the corridor, his handheld scanning device detecting where every single sensor hid. This was too easy.
He took the stairs to avoid alerting anyone of his movement throughout the building. Every floor was open access. As he climbed the stairs a thought struck him. What if this was an elaborate trap to trick him into believing there was no actual deterrent against intruders, perhaps there was something lurking on the next level, something that would trip every sensory alarm on Floor 17.
He could feel the butt of the side arm press against his chest as he rode the stairs all the way up. He knew this floor well. He’d been in the building when the crocodile had wreaked havoc. He’d been lucky that day, he’d not left his station, not taken a stack of folders to accounts, not been eaten by that crocodile.
Clark took his job seriously. It was a means to an end, although at the time he hadn’t expected Torchwood to take up residence in the same building. It had been luck, opportunistic luck that they’d arrived on the day he had been sent in to research the organisation once a name in the City, now just a blemish, a name that was met with rebuke.
He didn’t fully understand why the old major was so interested in a defunct organisation like Torchwood, but he was. Perhaps it didn’t matter, so long as the pay was good and the job was done. But sometimes some things did matter, such as where this would lead to, would his military background be something Torchwood would want? Would it hinder his plans, could he get near enough to lure the Captain and the boy away from the safety of the building? Would they trust him? Did he even trust himself?
Clark stopped mid flight – he had to stop doubting himself. He had to think like the old man, think like the major. Stop at nothing. Hang the consequences. Jack Harkness and the boy, get them both, get paid, leave. Simple!
Marley Hanratty sat at the computer screen and stared at the data before her. It was her data, her past, but then again it wasn’t. Marley Hanratty was a different woman to that of the Torchwood operative and it pained her so much to know that the man at the testing facility wasn’t aware of her existence, wasn’t aware of whom she really was. She wondered if the other Marley knew of the work she did, or was she just a botanist, a researcher into everything non Torchwood related. How could two lives be so different? She made herself a coffee, they were low on sugar and as much as she could convince herself that Acacia honey was good on almost everything, it tasted disgusting in coffee and even worse in tea. She wondered if the other her liked the same things, or was it just the exact opposite. What had been surprising was that Greg had worked at the facility yet wasn’t part of Torchwood, or was he deeply undercover?
She sighed as the kettle clicked and stirred in the milk. They were out of biscuits too. She sighed again.
“You cannae have a coffee break without biscuits.” She said more to herself.
A door closed with a click on Level 17 and the alarm on the computer alerted her that she wasn’t alone. She’d taken to carrying a fire-arm wherever she moved, not wholly convinced that Elvis was the only crocodile to make it through the void. But all previous recordings, data imaging and alarms had only told them that the heating now worked in the building, the air con was fully operational and there was definitely NO crocodiles or any amphibious creatures anywhere within the building. So who had just entered the Level?
Returning to the monitor she keyed in the CCTV and scanned each room, the corridor cameras detecting heat sources three rooms before theirs. Her heart beat fast and hard against her chest. She gripped the butt of the gun tightly, as she focused her attention on the double doors that led out into the hallway, and into the next set of offices.
Moving the mouse she saw a black shadow move stealthily past the hall camera, and disappeared into the next office. Marley took evasive action.
After a tour of the Bay area in moonlight, watching the boats bob in the water, hearing the gasps and groans of lovers below him along the boardwalk, or sneaking onto boats moored for the winter, Mitchell moved away and inland a little, heading through the shops, along the alleyways, listening out all the time to the sounds of the streets, the kids with the knives, and the solvent abusers and the junkies, and the strange creatures in the shiny overalls that followed him at a safe distance and stank horrendously of something that lived in the sewers. He put a further distance between them.
In amongst the shops just off the main street, alongside a park with metal railings and overgrown vegetation, where the litter gathered in against the mesh waistband, stuffed with chocolate wrappers, empty and half flattened cans of soda, stood an old sandstone building, blackened by the years, lichens and graffiti on the lower levels of the building. It looked unusual and odd against the backdrop of shops in and around the city. A defunct public house with boarded front windows and an old black sign that swung saying: The Vaults. There was no entrance at the front, but around the back six stone steps lead down to the only way in and out. In one corner the strong odour of piss rose to his nostrils and he pulled a face.
Opening the double black doors the sounds of decadence poured out past him. The cloying scent of strong laced perfumes took his breath away the instant he stepped inside. But as he grew accustomed to it, as he squinted at the light and the smoke that hung in swirls above his head, circling and weaving like a snake, he relaxed. Stepping slowly towards the light and the laughter, he saw men and women and strange creatures that to him had just stepped out from a recent Star Wars movie and were congregating in a bar. As Mitchell walked into the room, all eyes fell upon him, their body smells, their language was something he’d never ever experienced before. He found himself ushered towards the bar, where just to his left a woman in long flowing ginger hair was making out with a tall column. At first he thought she were a lap dancer but then the pole moved, and became a person, an albino image of the woman who was grinding against her. He turned to hear laughter and saw a group of men similar to the Vikings in the old school books back at the home, they wore animals skins draped over thick shoulders, their bearded faces pursed in frowns, large skeins of beer in their thick jumbo sausage fingers. Shoulder to shoulder they sat huddled around their table. Ahead of him stood a seven foot tall built like a brick outhouse man who had a group of smaller men gathered around him, hearing his tales of the Hibernian Province on the Delta 7 outcrop. He was a vast traveller of worlds; he bought and sold, and wasn’t bothered whether it was human or alien meat that he traded. As he turned to see why the bar had suddenly quietened behind him, his eyes fell upon the 6’ tall slim figure in the grey hooded top, that stood nervously yet trying to blend in.
“And who do we have here?”
Mitchell swallowed hard, his mouth felt dry.
“You’re a long way from home unless you’ve come looking for work!” The Hibernian bellowed.
“I don’t want any trouble.” The bartender called from behind the counter. A slight man with crooked eye and half an ear missing, his third arm dealt a pint to a small squat man on a stool who drank with a long straw, no, drank with a long tongue that slipped into the glass and lapped at the alcohol. Mitchell couldn’t take his eyes from the creature.
He suddenly felt a tightness around his throat, around his neck and he was torn back to the man with the bellowing voice. He was off the ground, Mitchell struggled against the grasping tightness around his throat. He wrestled in the grip but feared his neck would snap if he wriggled too much. Laughter echoed around the bar as the Hibernian gazed at the boy whose face turned red as he struggled to breathe.
“How much do you think he might fetch on the open market? Two, maybe three Karanians?” He offered shaking the boy who kicked and pulled at the sausage hand that held him so tightly.
“There’s nothing of him Rak, you’ll not raise much meat on him, maybe as a slave, I’ll give you 25 Macoolies for him. He can work with the animals on the ship.” Called one of the animal skinned heavies at the first table.
Mitchell felt his ears pound.
“I’ll give you two Karanians Rak.” Purred the ginger haired woman who ran her silken hands up under Mitchell’s shirt, smiling at the hot flesh knowing she could have a lot of fun teasing the boy before she ate him.
Mitchell’s heart raced.
“Perhaps I should keep him, there’s enough on his bones to keep me going till I make it back to the ship.” Rak decided. He unbuttoned his own shirt, pulling open the garment, and as Mitchell saw, with horror, the man’s stomach detached, a sliver of skin and flesh peeled back to reveal a creature within. Mitchell’s eyes widened which given his current position was a feat in itself, but whether Rak had released his grip slightly, Mitchell saw a creature, small, squat and with a mouthful of sharp teeth, and arms like tendrils that reached out of the cavity of the stomach, and at the very tips four grasping talons that snapped as it reached closer and closer to the boy, and as if to add further insult, Rak brought his arm in closer to the creature.
In a last ditch attempt as he felt the grip tighten once more, Mitchell drew his knees up and kicked hard at the ugly bulbous face in the man’s belly forcing the creature back inside the man’s body, splattering it against Rak’s spine. The man cried out and released Mitchell, who fell to the ground hard. He rolled onto his side and gulped in air, and for a few moments couldn’t move till he heard the pandemonium of the larger man and several chairs grate against the stone floor.
Mitchell scrambled to his feet and made for the exit as three burly travellers grabbed hold of him and held him fast. Rak was on his feet, his stomach open and bleeding, the creature dead and draped over his waistband, tendrils swaying as the man moved. Out of a sheath he drew a 14” blade and strode towards the boy secured by the men.
“I’m going to run you through boy, I’m going to make you wish you’d never been born.”
Mitchell couldn’t move, he couldn’t attack, he couldn’t protect himself. Suddenly, a voice broke over the cacophony of voices, then a gunshot and all was silent.
“You don’t want to do that Rak.” Captain Jack Harkness called from behind the angry man.
“Oh I think I do, look what he did to me, he killed Coran.”
“Do you think the Counsel of Arakia are going to see it like that, when this goes to trial?” Jack stepped to the side of Rak and stared at the boy raising a brow. “I can’t leave you alone for a minute.”
“He’s with you?”
“I’m entrusted with the authority to see that the royal prince comes to no harm while he’s over here. Now it would look a little awkward for you Rak if you were to run him through over something that you started. And with witnesses, who are aware of the Arakian government and their rulings for any offence against the state, are you sure you want to do this?”
Rak took long enough to deliberate his decision before growling and sheathing his weapon. “Just get him out of here. You’re lucky tonight boy, but you kick me again and government or none, I will kill you.” He warned, before returning to his drink at the bar.
Jack pushed through the circle and out of the bar, Mitchell now released followed after him.
“Thanks for that, another few minutes and I’d be.....” Jack had landed a punch that knocked the boy clean off his feet. He stood over him snarling.
“You pull a stunt like that again and I will let them kill you.” Jack growled. Mitchell rubbed a thumb against his split lip as he looked up at the Captain.
“You said Arakian royalty?” Mitchell asked pushing the empty plate away and lifting the coffee cup to his lips. He winced as the hot liquid ran over his cut lip.
“It was the only thing I could think of at short notice.” Jack replied. They were sitting in an all night coffee bar, a regular haunt for Jack, once, many moons ago. The view of the outside world was quiet bar the odd drunken reveller pissing up against the local government office across the road that mildly amused him.
“But he believed you.”
“A lot of those men have had dealings with the Arakians over the years, they’re not to be trifled with. Have you had enough to eat yet?”
“For now.” Mitchell replied taking in the coffee bar for a final time, scanning the trays at the counter with the cakes and gateaux, sandwiches and fried food. The owner was wiping down; Jack and Mitchell were his only customers. It was another quiet night.
“Drink up, and I’ll take you home.”
“I don’t want to go back there.”
“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know, but that place felt like a prison. You said about keeping me safe, but you never said why?”
“As I recall I was getting to that when you punched me.”
“You said my Uncle was a wolf, exactly how was I meant to react?”
“If you come back to the house, I’ll tell you everything you need to know.”
“Tell me here.” Mitchell insisted. Jack shook his head.
“It’s not safe here, too many ears and eyes watching. At the house we’re safe, I promise.”
Mitchell slid from the secured seat and got to his feet. “You lie to me, and I really will rip your throat out.” He replied darkly.
Clark Goodson stepped into the empty office where an illumination of colour flashed before his eyes, yellows and reds, a monitor screen alerted whoever was working late that someone was in the building as it flashed INTRUDER ALERT in bold yellow letters on a black rectangle background. He kept his sidearm un-holstered and scanned the room with his eyes and edged slowly into the room. He passed a stationary cupboard, every office had one, it was closed, he moved on to the next room. The board room, every other office had one, always facing the Millennium stadium, he peered in, taking in every corner – nothing! He did a full 360° turn but saw nothing and continued towards the small gantry, a cubby hole with a microwave, kettle, few cupboards, washbasin, fridge, but nothing and stepped back. He felt the barrel of a pistol pressed against the back of his head and he brought his arms out to his sides, his right hand easing slightly off the grip of the gun.
“One wrong move and I’ll give you a third eye hole.” Marley growled in a strong Scottish brogue. Clark tried to recall the face, the name, the voice. There were two women at the cafe, he’d known one was Welsh, this must be the other, not the Gwen Cooper.
“Please don’t shoot! I’ll put the gun down slowly, just please don’t shoot!”
Marley had watched him edge into the room, from the handheld camera as she hid in the stationery cupboard. She saw every movement Clark took, holding her breath as he hesitated beside the cupboard.
“Move very slowly, one sudden movement could wind up very messy for me!” Marley spoke deeply.
“How do you figure that, you’re the one with the gun to my head?”
“I’m the one who has to clean up!” Marley replied. “Throw your gun over to the right, keep your eyes front. I mean it.” She threatened.
Clark smirked. “If you really meant it, you’d have killed me by now!”
“True, but I like to play with my food.” She pulled a face. She really had to lay off the late night tv. “Who are you and why are you here?” She asked after his gun skittered across the carpet.
“Goodson, Clark Goodson. I came to see if the Captain was in.”
“With a gun and all the stealth of a burglar?”
“I’ll admit it wasn’t the best plan I’d had. But I wanted to prove myself.”
“By entering the building brandishing a weapon, stealth mode?”
“Look can I turn around, I feel foolish standing talking to a wall.”
Marley considered a moment and took a step back, but her weapon was still trained. With her free hand, she pressed her comms link still attached to her ear and prayed Gwen was in. After a few moments, Gwen answered and she relayed the message.
When Lexy returned to the safehouse the building was in darkness. Jack and Mitchell were nowhere in sight, not inside or out, and taking that opportunity, took herself and her box and locked the door to the bathroom.
It was a long walk back to the house, in the dark, and for a while the two men barely spoke. The boats out to sea and the lighthouse shone the occasional light out across the black water, a speck of light through the brambled hedgerows as they walked along the quiet country road.
Jack thought back to Porlicanthus and their last meeting just before all hell broke loose. It had been just over 25 years ago, a couple of years after the crashed Arakian space ship had ploughed up the arable lands of England’s fair country and the media had been over it like a tramp on chips. Every news agency wanted a piece of the action. Torchwood had been alerted as it broke through Earth’s atmosphere and had been on the scene minutes before the army and news crews. At that time Torchwood had been a name that people had only heard stories about, and all respect was given to those who would protect the realm. Unlike now he thought when the name was almost a slur, a taboo subject. He blamed himself, then he blamed those in government who had called for his head and for those who helped protect Torchwood, those who now watched from their windows, jumped and held their breath when the postman knocked, that was his fault. Who else could he blame?
Porlicanthus had called him after the arrest and capture of the remaining Arakian’s onboard the ship. It had been a hostile affair from the beginning but as Jack entered the ship he’d seen for himself just why. Clamped in irons and in a cage fit for an animal sat a beautiful young woman, with jet black hair and eyes like the Corazon crystals he’d seen on a planet somewhere, he could feel his pulse rising, drawn to her just from the one moment. He learnt that she was Arakian royalty, under arrest for crimes against humanity, and was due for trial in Pethsquearia. The details were a little fuzzy but she was due to be tried for war crimes. But looking at the woman before him, alluring, slender, he was convinced she wasn’t to blame. The Arakian’s were all powerful, they held a strong government and their laws were strict. It wasn’t unusual for them to commit crimes but normally it was the generals, the high ranking officials of the government and the military who were held for the atrocities very rarely, if at all, it would be someone of royal descent.
At that time Porlicanthus had begun working with Torchwood, he was able to speak many tongues, and like Jack was appalled at the way alien creatures and alien races were discriminated on Earth. The princess, still in chains was escorted from the ship to a maximum security base, below ground, and held until such times as Torchwood were able to decide what was to be done with her. Because her language was unknown to Earth, Porlicanthus was given the task of translation. Jack was assigned another mission that took him away from Porlicanthus, and away from the Princess. It was a few years before he returned only to discover that Meladrill, the name of the beautiful woman had been placed under UNIT control, and Porlicanthus was in disgrace. Meladrill was pregnant.
He quickened his pace as he saw the distant lights of the building, the outside lights signalling someone was home. Lexy, he hoped! He glanced back at the boy and eased up.
“So why London, the home was over a hundred miles from the city?”
Mitchell shrugged. “It seemed as good a place as any to start.”
“Start?” Jack enquired walking beside him.
“For as long as I can remember, something was pulling me to the city. I used to have dreams about the place. Odd dreams about a woman with black hair and deepest blue eyes. She was looking down at me.” Mitchell frowned in the dark lane, he had no idea who the woman was, but whenever he dreamt of her, she’d been smiling at him. And for some reason all roads seemed to lead to London.
Gwen Cooper arrived in the building and strode along the 17th Floor like a woman on a mission. Given Marley’s credentials as a Torchwood operator she’d felt certain the girl could handle herself in any given situation, obviously she was wrong. She’d planned an evening with her family, a cuddle on the sofa with Rhys, Anwen had gone down eventually, Rhys was asleep dribbling from the side of his mouth while the football highlights replayed on the tv, and Gwen had sat pondering over Lexy’s announcement regarding Jack and ‘his son’.
She thought she knew enough about Jack that he would have told her about this Mitchell, had they not been through enough already, were they not close enough to be able to trust each other over everything?
When Gwen entered the office that the Torchwood team had appropriated, given that it was the same floor that had seen a snapping crocodile storm the rooms and destroy lives all for the sake of a few Mint Imperials, she saw Marley sat at her computer and a man sat with his hands cuffed behind him a few feet from the girl. Marley smiled relieved that Gwen had arrived and came over to relay the information, Clark’s gun sitting only a few feet away from him. He eyed it with intention.
From what information that Marley had gleaned from the man and from the data on the computer, it was clear that he was more than just an office clerk. Gwen walked over to him, she took up his gun and studied the markings and the make.
“This is Army issue, where did you get it, and don’t give me any bullshit.”
“My dad used to be in the army, it’s his. It’s just...after the crocodile...I just wanted protection.”
“So you thought you’d come in after dark and do what exactly? Retrieve a packet of mints from your desk, because I can tell you now, all the desks have been cleared out and all mints went with Elvis.” She saw him raise a brow. “The crocodile.” She added.
Clark sighed and lowered his head. Marley turned the monitor to face Clark. “The details here tell us that you served with the British Army and you work in the Intelligence division. So perhaps now you could cut the crap and tell us the truth, or I stand by my convictions and really will give you a third eye hole!” Marley lifted her gun from the desk beside her computer and removed the safety. She raised it at Clark and cocked back the hammer!
“Alright, alright.” He sighed. He shot Gwen a look before Marley. “I used to work for Intelligence, that data is old. I served in Afghanistan but no more. For the last year and a half I worked here as an office clerk. Straight up! I was hired by a private agency to investigate theft of office equipment and we almost had it nailed but for that bloody great big crocodile that killed the suspect. I don’t have a job anymore.”
“What about the agency, surely you could work somewhere else?”
“I could but I live in Cardiff and I don’t have a car and do we really need to get into this now? I’d heard of Torchwood, what you did, protecting the Earth against aliens and I thought why not? We’ve seen enough of those over the years, why not see if you were recruiting?”
“And you thought you’d come in late one night...”
“I know I should have called. But I don’t have your number...”
“We’re not recruiting at this time” Gwen replied finally and held out the gun to Clark. He looked at her indicating his cuffed hands. “Marley.” Gwen handed her the gun. “Un-cuff him!”
“But...aren’t we going to interrogate him further?”
“I’ve much better things to do with my time.” She replied.
Goodson got to his feet rubbing his wrists and took back his pistol. “The magazine is missing.”
He smiled. Holstered his weapon and left.
As Gwen watched him leave on the monitors she spoke to Marley. “What position in Torchwood did you hold Marley, because I’m beginning to think that you might be lying about your role within the organisation?” She turned to face the young woman who stared back guilty as charged.
Jack entered the dimly lit hallway and held the door for Mitchell. It was quiet but the familiar perfume lingered on the air and he smiled. After Mitchell entered he secured the door and shrugged off his great coat. “So who’s for coffee?” He smiled, ditching the coat over the back of a chair in the open plan kitchen, checked the kettle, enough water, and flicked it on.
Mitchell took himself to the lounge and flopped on the sofa, he rested his head back, stretched his arms along the back rest and chilled out. It was as if he’d accepted that it was his new home, but something about Jack he still wasn’t sure about. Who was he, why was he suddenly his protector, what was so precious about this cargo? And another thing bothered Mitchell while he studied the room, glancing to his left and the bedroom where he slept, and the new threads he wore. Would he have to perform sexual favours?
“I preferred you naked!” When had Captain Jack Harkness seen him naked?
Jack searched his phone for messages, it was unusual not to have heard from Gwen since he’d been back, although to be fair he’d not actually contacted her since he’d arrived back either. And he didn’t really contact her when he was in London. He owed her an explanation, and he would, tell her about Mitchell, just it was...complicated! He didn’t want her to get the wrong idea about him, about the boy. Jack wasn’t all that big on family, not since Alice...and Steven. He inhaled deeply. It still hurt! The kettle clicked off belching steam into the small space beside the microwave and the overhead cupboard. He’d made instant coffee, he’d have to invest in a proper coffee maker, something with a bit more life than granulated powder. He turned with the cups in hand and saw Mitchell in the doorway, his hooded top unzipped, white chequered shirt un-tucked, a mountain of questions on his tongue but he was certain that wasn’t why he stood there facing him at this moment.
“Coffee?” He raised the mugs.
Mitchell sucked on his lower lip. It seemed a simple enough thing to do, ask him, ask Jack Harkness what his intentions were, what he wanted Mitchell to do. Was he to carry out errands, deliver packages, produce a software system to protect the business empire he might possess? He took a few steps towards Jack as he lingered with the coffees and took his from Jack, setting it on the side. He was so close to Jack that he could feel the man’s breath against his cheek. A scent prickled his senses, a strong aftershave scent that he’d not smelt before, didn’t recognise the make. It was alluring. He felt his own heart race. He looked back at Jack, studied the man’s face, tilted his head to study the bite marks, the bite marks that had been there a few hours ago but now had disappeared. He frowned for a beat.
“Mitchell...this coffee...” Mitchell glanced down at the cup in Jack’s right hand before looking back at him. “Mitchell?” Mitchell’s lips pressed against Jack’s before Jack could utter another word. It took him by surprise, enough to tilt the coffee cup sloshing hot coffee onto the tiled floor. Mitchell’s left hand cupped behind Jack’s head pressing his lips harder against Mitchell’s. The cup slipped from Jack’s fingers and smashed on the tiles as Jack’s hand pressed against the small of Mitchell’s back, the other cupping his neck.
It was Jack who pulled back first, as he clawed his senses back in the box. “No...we shouldn’t...we can’t do this.” He mumbled as Mitchell returned his attention to Jack’s mouth, his hands already flipping the belt buckle and popping the buttons on his trousers.
“Yes...yes we should.” Mitchell insisted, as his head swam in the scent and his mind closed off from the actions.
Jack felt the young man’s hands around the waistband of his trousers. “No....we....” Mitchell returned the kiss.
Mitchell pulled Jack towards the bedroom closing the door behind them. Tonight he would thank Jack personally for everything, before he was told of the debts he owed him and the errands he’d have to run, because people like him never escaped from people like Jack or Alex, and they never would, Mitchell had decided. He was here for one reason only, and when that was done – he’d leave!