A new day, a new disaster. This one had already left Gwen with a bandage on her forehead, Tosh with her harddrives nearly wiped clean, and Ianto with so much clean-up work he doubted he'd sleep for a week. Jack sat at the head of the conference table, his arms crossed.
"I can go, Jack," Owen insisted, slamming a bandaged hand down on the table. "I know the risks, but you know what I can do!"
"The Faa'sora only feeds on living flesh," Ianto agreed, placing a mug of coffee. "There would be less of a chance of it attacking if we sent him in."
"You really need to stop agreeing with him," Jack shot Ianto a look punctuated with a raise of his eyebrow, "It's starting to border on unsettling."
Tosh darted into the room, looking disheveled and frustrated. "It's wiped most of our main defense systems. I have programs running that are repairing it, but they aren't going to do the job fast enough to track him."
She pushed a button and the projection behind Jack changed to a street layout. "The blocking signal came from here…" A light appeared in the upper corner of the screen. "But it could be anywhere by now."
"Then we'll have to do it the old-fashioned way," Gwen said. "I'll head to where the---"
"You'll do no such thing," Jack snapped, pointing a finger at his injured agent. "It's already smelled you; it knows what you look like."
"And taste like," Ianto added.
"You're a liability, Gwen. We have to keep you safe. Ianto and Owen, we're---"
"I'm not incapable, Jack!" Gwen snapped.
"No, but you are injured." Jack returned coolly.
"Jack," Owen said.
"You can't stop me from doing my job! Injuries are part of the job!"
"I can stop you from killing yourself."
"What?" Jack turned to Owen.
Owen nodded back to the screen. "Look."
Jack turned around and looked up at the screen that had changed from the street to a face of a skinny, spiky-haired man wearing black spectacles. He leaned back and scratched his head. The team had never seen the pinstripe-suited man before---well, some of the team hadn't. Jack's face split into an unnaturally wide grin at the sight of him.
"I didn't know we subscribed to the Fantasy Channel," he said to the screen.
The man on the screen returned the wide grin with a rather manic one of his own. His voice came through the tiny speakers on the conference table. "Jack, Jackie Jack Jack! Here I was beginning to think I'd never get through. Did you all suffer a major memory wipe of your systems lately? Nearly impossible to find the right IP address."
"Dealing with a rather aggressive Faa'sora," Jack replied without hesitation. "Wiped all our systems when it escaped."
"A Faa'sora, in Cardiff?" the man on the screen scratched at one of his sideburns. "In Cardiff? Doesn't make much sense, see, they're allergic to salt water. Must've landed there by mistake. Or desperation."
"Salt water, really?" Jack nodded. "Right, we'll remember that." Ianto was, in fact, already writing down that information.
"Who the hell're you?" Owen barked at the screen.
"Is this the whole team?" the man on the screen looked very impressed. "Not a bad crew. You sure do go for aesthetics, don't you, Jack?"
Jack's grin turned proud. "I do my best. We've got Dr. Owen Harper, Dr. Toshiko Sato, Ianto Jones, and Gwen Cooper."
The man's face twisted into a smirk. "Ianto Jones. Oh, I've heard about you."
Ianto looked at Jack, then back at the man. "Uh…"
"Jack! Who is this?" Gwen barked, standing and placing her hands on her hips.
"An old friend of mine, it's all right." Jack replied. He turned to Gwen to give her as best a reassuring smile as he could, then back to the screen. "Heard what you did for Martha."
The Doctor didn't reply at first, his eyes were narrowed as he stared at Gwen. The look he gave her was curious, just verging on disturbed. Jack turned his gaze back to Gwen for a moment, then back to the Doctor.
The Doctor seemed to snap out of it all of a sudden, shrugging. "Hmm? Oh, Martha Jones! They'd have been a fool not to hire her." He paused. "How…I mean, she's well?"
"Did that thing where she saves the world," Jack replied. His smile softened. "She's doing well."
"Good," the man replied, his voice holding something back.
"So, you…both know Martha?" Tosh asked, raising an eyebrow and staring at the screen.
"Well, we'd look right foolish if we didn't, Dr. Sato," the man replied.
Jack waved it off. "What do you need, Doctor? Got that Faa'sora to handle and while I'd love to chat…"
"Hmm?" he blinked. "I'm afraid you're going to have to stop following the Faa'sora, you've got something more important to deal with."
"All right." Jack didn't hesitate to drop the Faa'sora's file down on the table and turn his entire attention to the man on the screen. "What is it?"
"What?" Every member of Jack's team spoke at once.
"They're in stereo, too! Great job, Jack!"
"We've got a flesh-eating killer out there and you want us to focus on---" Gwen gestured madly at the screen, then back at the file that Jack so easily discarded.
"It's for the future of the human race," the Doctor said, very seriously. "Two very important individuals who have no idea who they're going to become yet meet on Grammar Day. If Cardiff cancels it, like your brilliant little mayor is planning on, then they'll never meet and…" He pursed his lips in thought. "And we don't want to know what will happen without their contribution to the universe."
"So, what? We just go in, tell the mayor not to cancel it?" Owen shook his head. "Being this almighty doctor-bloke Jack keeps talking about, why don't you go in and handle it?"
The Doctor made a face. "Well...."
A voice barked from off-screen. "The prisoner will be silent!"
He turned behind himself and saluted to whoever---scratch that, whatever it was behind him.
Tilting his head as if he was trying to actually look further than the view screen allowed Jack mused, "Bit of trouble?"
"Just a bit. Look, I'd love to be down there to sort it out, but you lot are all I've got." He pulled off his glasses and sighed.
"Shouldn't take too long," Tosh's voice was optimistic. "Owen and I could take the SUV up to the mayor's office and you can keep track of the creature."
"I'm afraid it's more serious than that," the Doctor said. "You see, since Grammar Day is in two days---"
"36 hours," Ianto corrected.
"Ooooh, I see why you like him, Jack! You got a stopwatch there too, Ianto?" The Doctor smirked.
"As a matter of fact, I do---"
Owen groaned, "You and that bloody stopwatch. Haven't you got a new toy to fantasize over yet?"
"Aaaaanyway," the Doctor looked disapprovingly at Owen, then back at the rest of the team. "Since the event is so close by, they don't have any staff. You are going to have to staff the event."
"Again with the stereo, Jack, I love it!"
Jack raised his hand up to pause the room from what he was pretty sure was quickly becoming a non-argument situation, "So Doctor, let me get this straight. We have to not only get this literary event up-and-running, we also have to staff it?" He paused, "See and I just had my tuxedo taken to the cleaners."
The Doctor smirked. "Oh, don't worry, those tuxedoes only attract trouble. Though I'm sure some Televites---er, you lot call them Weevils, I think---will show up to make things interesting. But nothing brings two people together like adversity, so I think that'll be good for the event overall."
"Jack, you can't be seriously considering this." Owen looked like his head might explode from the very notion.
Jack shook his head. "If this man says we need to do it, we need to do it. No question. We can always track the Faa'sora when it's all done."
"People could die, Jack!" Gwen threw her arms up in exasperation.
"Full of emphatic gestures, that one," the Doctor said, nodding approvingly. "Anyway, I've got to go. Got an execution to attend."
"Your own?" Jack asked.
"Hopefully not, but we'll see if I can talk myself out of this one." He grinned manically at them and nodded. "Take care, Captain."
"You too, Doctor."
The screen flashed, and immediately went back to the streets that were up moments before. The team stared at Jack in both shock and disgust.
Jack sighed. "Well, looks like we've got a long couple of days ahead of us." His hand rubbed down across his face before he addressed his team, "Gwen, get the police to keep an eye out for the Faa'sora. Toshioko I need a meeting with the Mayor on the books yesterday. Ianto, we'll need uniforms." He put a little too much thought into that order and a smirk appeared on his lips just a moment too soon. "The ones with the little bowties."
"Shall I make them pinstripe, Sir?" Ianto asked, looking from Jack to the now-empty screen.
Shaking his head slightly at Ianto he smiled, "They are quite elongating, but I think solids are good for everyone."
Muse: The Doctor (Ten)
Fandom: Doctor Who / Torchwood
Word Count: 1,605
Special thanks to onlysayinghello for Jack-voice beta, and ninewho for general awesome beta! *love*