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Fic: Stolen Hope 11/?

Title: Stolen Hope 11/?
Rating: Teen
Warnings: Very vague mentions of sex, some coarse language, terrible pick up lines and Owen being crabby
Pairings: Jack/Ianto, slight Owen/Tosh later on.
Summary: Hope is a powerful emotion and in some corners of the galaxy, hope is a delicacy. Where has the alien from the crash site gone and just what does Ianto and a Jubilee Pizza delivery girl have to do with all this?
Chapter summary: In which stage two begins.
Previous chapters: Can be found here

She had seen them leaving the hospital. The woman and the man, so confident, so at ease with themselves. She knew them on sight, she had watched them on her stake-outs entering the underground complex she had detected during her first night in Cardiff. They belonged to Harkness, and that meant that he knew that something was going on. Whether he knew it was her... She didn't know.

Torchwood... A strange name. What little information she had been able to access told her that they were founded by a long dead monarch to protect the Empire. This had angered her. How dare he aid rebellion one month and be a staunch protector of imperialism the next? Was he a mercenary then? She didn't care. It wouldn't matter what he was in the end, he would still die. He would die soon in fact. She finally had enough energy to put the second part of her plan into motion. Every one of her systems was back online and more or less fully functioning.

She gazed down at the sleeping girl she cradled in her arms. Tasha had been so useful. She had accepted the mental conditioning so easily. Because it was what she wanted. Deep down, Tasha had wanted direction and purpose. She had floundered around in uncertainties all her life, always accepting second best in hope that it would lead her to coming in first. She was always hoping. It was admirable in some ways, to try and find a light in the increasing darkness and noise that surrounded her. In other ways, it was a bit pathetic. But really, it was of no consequence. Her hope made her energy so delectable and so much more potent.

It had been easy to get her out of the hospital, an open window on the ward was all she had needed and Tasha had left it wide open, just as she had been told. All that had been left to do was to extend the radius of her cloaking circuits, pick her up and leave. Nobody had seen, Tasha had insisted that the curtains around her bed remained closed, of course. It had all worked perfectly.

Now she was carrying the human down a street lined with spindly trees and tiny terraced houses. Cars were packed on either side of the road and pedestrians huddled into their coats and scarves as the wind nipped at any skin that was left exposed. The sky was a boiling mass of gray clouds and she could almost taste the electricity as it crackled in the air. Only a few hours ago Harkness had been on this very street, dashing out of a house she had committed to memory.

She stopped outside the house and scanned it. One living organism, human. She checked around for any lingering pedestrian. There were none. She shifted Tasha, freeing up one arm to open the gate. Then she placed the human on the doorstep.

“Action three,” she told the girl firmly.

Tasha's eyes flew open. They were blank, completely glazed over. Then she got to her feet stiffly, as though she was moving under great pressure. She stood still for a moment, then stepped forwards and rang the doorbell.

There was no immediate response, but then came the sound of footsteps approaching the door and the click of the latch. Then Ianto Jones appeared in the doorway.

“Tasha?”

XxxXxxX


“Why is it always Splott?” Owen grumbled, slamming the door of the SUV shut. “It's always aliens in Splott. Why not somewhere warm? The tropics perhaps? Hell, I'd even go for Penarth, just for a change.”

Tosh tried not to snap. He'd done this the entire way there, one long rant about why he didn't want to go to Splott, how Gwen or Jack could have gone instead and could she actually say something rather than just nod please? She also tried not to let his comments sting.

“Oh I don't know,” she said, attempting cheerfulness. “Perhaps Splott is an exotic destination by alien standards.”

“And I thought London was bad...” Owen muttered. “Right, come on then.”

The house they approached was clearly meant to be a charming family home, maybe it had been at some point. But it wasn't now. Three stories, three flats crammed into one structure. The rusty gate led to a scrubby patch of discoloured grass, choked with weeds and littered with fragments of the ancient roof tiles that had fallen in the bad weather. The grimy plaster over the brickwork was crumbling away and there were stains under the windows from the damp that made the building look like it was weeping.

It was miserable. Tosh thought of her warm, modern apartment and felt guilty for a moment, living in her posh flat while this poor girl was living... Here.

“Fucking dump,” Owen said, wrinkling his nose, clearly not sharing her feelings. As per usual then.

They picked their way to the front door. It was unlocked and opened onto a dingy hallway, the door to the first floor flat directly opposite them. The floor was littered with water-damaged flyers and cigarette butts. It smelt like damp wool and old booze.

The apartment they were going to investigate was on the second floor. Owen placed a familiar piece of tech onto the lock and thirty seconds later, it popped open. He grinned and slipped it back into his pocket, motioning for Tosh to follow him inside. Tosh braced herself, expecting to find a horrific mess or perhaps a hive of aliens lurking in the bathroom.

Instead they were confronted with a perfectly ordinary flat. It was a little cluttered, very cramped but it was normal. The front door opened directly onto the kitchen. A chipped mug sat in the sink with dregs of tea congealing at the the bottom, an ancient TV set and battered sofa in the living room. The bedroom closet was a mess of clothes and art supplies, the shelves full of jars being used to hold paintbrushes all meticulously cleaned and tubes of paint arranged neatly by colour and shade.

“An artist then,” Tosh said, spotting a huge stack of sketchbooks in the corner of the room. She picked up the one at the top and flicked through it. It was mostly full of sketches of the same view from the living room window but each time it was very different. The shadows moved, the figures and cars came and went. Some of them were bright and cheerful, the others were dull and moody. Tosh didn't really know too much about this sort of thing, but she figured that this indicated some real talent.

Fifteen minutes later they had found nothing.

“This was a waste of time,” Owen said, crossly as he sat on the floor and rummaged through a wastepaper basket.

“There must be something,” Tosh said, failing to keep the despondency out of her voice.

Owen growled and shoved the bin back into the corner and stood up. “Come on Tosh, I think it's safe to say-”

He was cut off by the front door opening.

They both froze. Tosh's mind was reeling, Tasha wasn't due to be released from the hospital yet, Owen had made sure that they were doing enough tests to keep her there for at least another two days while they tried to ascertain whether she had anything to do with whatever the hell was going on or not. She glanced around the room, there was nowhere to hide. Owen signalled for her to get away as he crept towards the kitchen door, one hand reaching into his jacket for his gun. She slowly moved back towards the bedroom and then slipped into the bathroom. It was tiny and pitch black, there were no windows and she didn't dare switch on the light.

Two minutes later by her count Owen opened the door and stopped, reaching out into the dark for her. His hand closed around her arm and he relaxed slightly, moving in closer.

“I can't see anybody out there,” he murmured. Tosh could feel his breath on the side of her face and the hand on her arm was shaking.

“Then why are you whispering.”

“Because things are moving around by themselves.”

Tosh felt a shiver race down her spine, followed by a prickle of sweat. “What?” she hissed.

Owen was about to reply when they both heard the rustle of something moving in the bedroom outside. Owen's grip on her arm tightened and she instinctively stepped forwards, huddling closer in the dark. There was a sickening silence. Was it gone? Had it heard them? Tosh began to slowly reach for her gun. Her fingers brushed the cold metal and she pulled it out from the holster she wore under her jacket. Instantly she felt better with it's comforting weight in her hand. Then she realised how close she was standing to Owen and another shiver ran through her.

He was so warm. He smelt good too, like expensive aftershave mixed with the faint, sharp tang of antiseptic lingering around him from all the time he spent down in the autopsy room. She blushed, of all the times to notice his scent. It was hardly professional.

She didn't know exactly how long they stood like that, frozen in the corner of the bathroom but the silence just stretched on and on, finally broken by the thud of the front door shutting. Tosh gasped and slumped down onto the toilet seat. She felt like she had been a spring, being wound tighter and tighter until she snapped. Owen fumbled for the door handle and slowly opened it.

They both winced as the light assaulted their eyes and they moved around the rooms like they were trying to navigate a minefield. There were no signs at first that anything had been moved but then Tosh noticed the neat stack of sketchbooks had been rifled through and put back haphazardly, and a few scraps of paper littered the floor around them.

“Owen, over here,” she said, bending down beside the pile.

“What?”

“Whatever it was took something out of one of these books,” Tosh said, picking the first one up and flipping through it. Sure enough, the first few pages had been torn out messily, fragments of paper still sticking out from the binding.

Owen leaned over her shoulder. “What's the odds it missed something?”

Tosh shrugged. “I don't know. If I take this back to the Hub I could scan the pages that were underneath and see if I can pick up any imprints in the paper and rebuild what was on the missing pages,” she said thoughtfully.

Owen grabbed an armful of the books. “There could be something in these too,” he said in reply to Tosh's questioning look.

“You're right,” she said, closing the book and took the remaining sketchbooks from the floor. “Let's get back then.”

XxxXxxX


Gwen yawned and spun around in her chair. The Hub was quiet, Owen and Tosh were out investigating Tasha's flat and Jack was somewhere down in the archives looking for any more information on the Acherite race. This left her staring at several screens that weren't displaying anything unusual at all. She got up to get herself a can of Coke from the fridge and sat back down, the screens just as blank as before.

Last night had been nice though, she thought with a smile. Rhys had been too tired to cook so they'd ordered Chinese and climbed into bed to eat it. They'd chatted, she'd told him about the case they were working on and he'd had a whinge about his secretary who was getting on his nerves again. It had been like those days when she'd just joined the police and there hadn't been aliens or saving the world. It had just been Gwen and Rhys, two normal people with normal jobs. As much as she would like to say that sometimes she wished it had all stayed the same, she knew she didn't.

“You know,” a voice said from behind her, making her jump. “I think there's such a thing as being too organised.”

Jack had reappeared from the archives empty-handed. “I can't find anything,” he said grumpily. “It's just so... Tidy. I'm scared to move anything.”

Gwen giggled. “Why don't you give Ianto a call, he probably knows off the top of his head.”

“I might just have to,” Jack agreed, pulling his phone out of his pocket. He was sent straight to voice mail. “Ianto, I didn't want to bother you but I can't get the hang of your archives, do we have anything on the Acherites? Get back to me when you can and I'll see you later.”

He snapped the phone shut. “He must be asleep.”

Gwen nodded, then the computer behind her gave an alert and a window sprang up onto the monitor. She spun around, her fingers whirring across the keys as she went through the report. Jack stood still, waiting for her to finish.

“My God...” she muttered, turning to face him. “Tasha Parker just vanished from the hospital.”

At this moment the cog door rolled back and Owen and Tosh came clattering in, both laden down with armfuls of what seemed to be sketchbooks.

“What's with all these?” Jack asked, momentarily distracted from Gwen's disturbing news as he watched them dump the books onto a desk.

“Evidence,” Tosh said, shaking her cramped arms. Those books had been heavy.

“While were were there, something came in,” Owen said, passing Tosh a particularly tattered sketchbook, torn paper stuck out of the sides at all angles.

“What did it look like?” Jack asked urgently.

Owen shook his head. “It was invisible. Stuff just started moving around by itself.”

Tosh was now scanning one of the books into her computer. “It went after this book, tore some pages out. I think I can...” she trailed off, typing furiously.

“Well, just as you came in we got a report,” Gwen said, standing next to Jack. “Tasha just vanished.”

Owen looked up. “You what?”

“She's gone.”

“I've got it!” Tosh cried.

On her screen was a messy tangle of scribbled black lines. It didn't look like it was something to be so enthusiastic to Gwen but with a few tapped out commands on the keyboard and some clicks of the mouse, Tosh separated the lines into four definitive sketches. Each one was of a tall, willowy figure with long arms and legs and a delicate, beautiful head. The bones and skull were clearly visible through it's skin and Gwen could see rough rectangular shapes scattered around it's body.

“What is that?” She asked.

“An Acherite,” Jack said heavily. “Tasha's involved alright. But where is she?”

“I'll check the CCTV footage around the hospital,” Tosh said.

Jack nodded. “You do that, Gwen, Owen, I want you two to go back to the hospital and have a look around. I'm going to go fetch Ianto, I need that information now.”

Confident that they would have Tasha brought in by the time he got back, Jack took the SUV and drove to Ianto's place in a hurry. He felt bad dragging him back in on his day off, but there really wasn't any other option. He seemed well enough this morning he thought with a smirk, thinking back to the shower they'd had this morning, steamy in more ways that one. Besides, it had been well over twenty-four hours since the overdose, he'd be right as rain.

He rang the doorbell and knocked impatiently as a warning before opening the door with his key. Ianto was sitting on the sofa in the lounge, absorbed in a book. He looked up expressionlessly when Jack bounded in.

“I'm afraid I have to drag you back into work Mr Jones,” he announced. “I can't find anything in the archives without the expertise of a certain sexy archivist.”

Ianto nodded stiffly. “Alright.”

Jack frowned. “Look, I'm sorry Ianto, I'll make it up to you. Dinner later? My treat.”

There was no change in Ianto's expression. Jack placed his hands on his shoulders. “I mean it, I'm sorry,” he said softly, bending down to kiss Ianto.

He was surprised when Ianto jerked away, jumping up from the sofa and backing away towards the kitchen. Even when Ianto was angry with him, he never reacted like this. Then comprehension dawned on him as he stared into Ianto's blank eyes.

“Oh I see,” he said with a laugh.

Then he punched Ianto Jones square in the face.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
lilferret
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:06 am (UTC)
ACK!

*blink blink*

Obviously Jack knows what's going on here...
misfitmiss
Nov. 9th, 2011 12:25 am (UTC)
Let's hope he does!
remuslives23
Nov. 9th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
Jeez, Jack! Don't break that pretty face! I love how this story has developed.
misfitmiss
Nov. 9th, 2011 07:09 am (UTC)
Thank you very much~
jsks
Nov. 9th, 2011 03:40 am (UTC)
eep! what will jack do now?
bluelilacs
Nov. 9th, 2011 07:31 am (UTC)
Obviously Jack knows something's wrong with Ianto's reaction, but poor Ianto getting punched in the face because of a darn alien.
chironsgirl
Nov. 10th, 2011 11:48 pm (UTC)
And where's Tasha hiding?
xOXOXOX
misfitmiss
Nov. 11th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
Under the kitchen sink?
hab318princess
Dec. 7th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)
*gulp*... great chapter
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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