Fandom: Doctor Who / Torchwood
Pairing: The Doctor (Ten)/Suzie Costello
Word Count: 3,039
Rating: R for sexuality
Summary: The Doctor follows a human weakness, and it leads him to Torchwood, yet again.
Author's Notes: This wound up becoming a bit of a re-write of the dreadfully bland Quatermass Experiment, since it had a great concept but very poor execution (in my opinion!), and was the initial inspiration for this ficlet series. Special thanks to gets_inside_you, whom has been my Suzie-voice beta.
Other Parts: Part One
"It isn't a crash," she says, glancing briefly at him as she pulls the SUV out onto the highway, "Well, not the way you think it is. It's a landing of a Torchwood-specified shuttle liner. Several of our men were up there, picking up Nancy and Williams."
His eyebrow raises, and he tilts his head a bit to the side, "Nancy and Williams?"
She turns to look at him again, this time with a look that, quite clearly, says he should know about these people.
"Right, uh, right, Nancy and Williams," he scratches his head and looks forward, out the front window into the night, "Decent couple, they'll never last six months, though. But I'm rubbish with determining that sort of thing."
The snort of laughter from her is what he is looking for, at least. A distraction, a sign that him not knowing is both expected and amusing. Well, he is amusing, on occasion.
"They're deep space exploration probes," she says, taking a turn off of the highway and onto a rockier back road, "We sent them out after the attack on Christmas, and, as a result they took some very interesting photographs of wandering meteorites, possibly some signs of life."
"Something went wrong, though?"
It is odd, it is almost as though he is just the Doctor, talking to just another Torchwood member about a recent event or invasion or whatnot, not the Doctor in congnito as a Torchwood member sitting with a Torchwood member with whom he'd just had rather misguided and intense sexual intercourse.
If he's trying to forget, however, his still skyrocketed body temperature and the aching scratch marks down his back remind him quite plainly.
"There were three probes, Nancy, Williams and Connor, named after the dogs of one of the scientists, I dunno, I never try to pay attention to things like that," she says, "Connor broke atmosphere fine, but Nancy and Williams had difficulty returning to atmosphere, so the shuttle was sent out to retrieve them. Wasn't even necessary to go out into space, just attach the probes to the outer hull."
"But..." he prompts.
"But, the shuttle lost contact with Torchwood Sydney 59 hours ago, and no one heard from them until just under 2 hours ago, no vocal contact, just visual of the ship. It managed to crash land not far off from Cardiff, so our team was called. I'm surprised they called me before Harkness, usually I hear about this thing the next morning."
Harkness again. The Doctor knows there's a connection to the Jack Harkness he knows, but he can't tell her that, of course. Time traveling and leaving a companion behind for regeneration doesn't exactly make excellent road trip conversation.
"Not a big fan of this Harkness, are you?" he asks, instead. It was the sort of thing a normal bloke would ask a woman, at any rate. Without all the alcohol and all that---and was she suited to drive? He didn't even think about that.
She snorts, a noise unexpected to come out of a woman with such slim, delicate-looking features, "I'm not a fan of anyone who just waltzes in and thinks they're in charge, no. I've been with this branch of Torchwood for six years. Six years, Doctor. That gets inside of you, gets under your skin. I deserved promotion to captain, but instead they give it to this joker. Just walks in one day with an antiquated identification card and some amazing references, and he's hired as project captain without a second thought."
He nods, "No idea where he came from, then?"
"None," she shakes her head, "Nobody does, really. He keeps himself to himself. Just likes to make sure we all know he's in charge and I'm second-in-command. It's wonderful, really. Makes my life a helluva lot easier." The sarcasm rolling off her tongue is comforting in itself. She's a cynic, she's a bit cruel. She's real, it's endearing.
He smirks a bit at her words. Oh, that does sound very like Jack, to just waltz in and steal someone's thunder. Their thunder, their wallet, their panties...it was all the same to Jack, if he remembers correctly. Time changes a person, though, and he has no idea what time has done to Jack.
"We're nearly there."
The way she walks across the damp mud is almost inhuman. She does it with a gazelle-like grace, and manages to get no mud on either her pants or her pointy heels that he expects to sink into the inch-thick mud from the rain earlier that night. While he, on the other hand, has lines of the brown goop of Cardiff up his striped pant leg and smothering his white plimsoles.
Maybe it's a Torchwood thing. None of them seem as affected by the weather as he is.
"What do you mean he isn't here yet? It's my bloody night off and I came!" She barks at a younger Torchwood member, a slim, pointy-faced man he could swear he saw at the London Branch so long ago. He nods, backing away with a meek look, back towards the vans.
She snorts, then steps towards him, gesturing to the hill, "Just over the rise, Doctor. Remember when I told you I was a fun night out? Not exactly what I mean, but I think you get the idea, right?"
He smirks at her words, but follows eagerly. He's nothing when he's not saving the world, averting a crisis, helping a person. He's a cowering mess of mistakes and stupidity and sometimes he wonders how it is that the TARDIS can keep the pieces of him from spilling out all over the universe.
Bright lights blaze at him over the hill of mud, and several vans, police cars and many, many noisy bystanders circle the half-buried spacecraft.
"The hatch is still above-ground, at least," she says, "And, while we can't determine their status, we know that there are lifeforms on board."
"The crew," he says, watching as the police push and shove people out of their way so they can enter the scene. Torchwood, special ops, it's all the same to the police. They're important.
She holds the police tape up for him, "We can only hope so. There were three men who went on board, Doctor. Doctors Victor Carroon, Ludwig Reichenheim, and Charles Greene. Two engineers and a chemist, all three with space experience and a lot of practice under their belts."
"It's not their belts we're worried about here, is it?" he asks in as flippant a tone as he can manage, stepping towards the shuttle. The hatch is white, with a Union Jack and a German flag painted on either side of the word Torchwood 9. Beneath those two is a smaller, more decorative set of writing, that reads Bad Wolf Project 2005. Bad Wolf. A shiver runs up the Doctor's spine, and he glances around at the fully hazmat-suited individuals around the hatch, wondering if they recognize the name, or it's significance to the human race.
"Doctor!" her tone is insistent, firm, "You can't just go wandering over there, get some gear on!"
Gear. Right, of course, he forgets that sort of simple, plastic procedure that's supposed to save them from something or someone that might maneuver its way out of the shuttle. He's not the rash, rushing Doctor, he's not Code Nine, and dangerous. He's just a Torchwood member, and they're smart enough to take precautions.
He steps back towards her, but his eyes stay on the capsule. Three men on board, two probes attached to the top, but no one is rushing inside to see who is still alive. Torchwood. Save the human race at the expense of the humans.
"No response from the men inside?" he asks, snatching some gear from the table that she's led him to.
"None," she replies with authority and certainty, "The dual-welding on the hatch is still sealed; it hasn't been opened. If they had a radiation leak, or some sort of underlying destructive cause, or sabotage, until we can get it open, there's no way to tell what's in there."
"Sabotage?" he asks, raising an eyebrow, "You really think it could be that?"
She twitches her lips into a bit of a smirk, "This is Torchwood, Doctor. Anything could happen."
She pauses, then pulls a large, metallic glove out of her knapsack. It looks like a piece of armor, maybe a relic of some time long past---but the design, the feel of it, he recognizes it instantly: It's alien.
"What's that?" he finds himself asking without preamble.
"It's a project I'm in charge of," she says, simply, "It's...it's...we may have to use it, depending on if any of the scientists survived or not."
He wants to believe that means it's some sort of a healing agent, that if they survived she could fix them, but the way she's holding it, the way her voice holds both defeat and excitement, he has a feeling that's not the case.
"Wait," he says, holding up a hand, "Listen, can you hear that?"
She pauses, shaking her head, "Hear what?"
She may not hear it, but he can. It's faint, very faint. The sound of tapping, scratching. The faint vibrations of someone inside of the capsule. Trying desperately to get out. Dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot. Morse code for "SOS", save our ship. Someone inside is desperate, afraid.
"I hear it," she breathes, her face a look of surprise.
He nods, "Someone's alive---"
"Miss Costello!" The voice that barks from behind them is sharp, almost frightened, followed by the sound of a loud bang as the capsule hatch is knocked off with an almost inhuman strength. He grabs for his sonic screwdriver---as if that could really help in a situation like this.
Several camouflage-suited men with guns (a must-have accessory for springtime according to Torchwood online, only £49.99 plus shipping) aim their weaponry at the hatch, preparing to fire no matter what may come crawling out.
The correct term, however, he internally amends, is stumbling out, as the orange-suited astronaut pulls himself from the shuttle and falls with a sickening thud onto the mud below. Without hesitation, he slides beneath the police tape again and towards the fallen man.
"Doctor, no!" she shouts, all the same following him, "You don't have proper gear!"
Gear. Stupid bloody gear, a man is hurt! He drops to one knee—the suit was long since ruined anyway—and pulls the scientist's helmet off, checking pulse, vitals, breathing. His skin is clammy, wet, veins all but pulsating beneath his skin and the texture almost rubbery. This is more than just space sickness and he knows it, but, for once in his life, he has no idea what it could be."
"Hatch is empty, Miss Costello!" a voice barks in their direction, and he's surprised to find her there, just over his shoulder.
Her eyes stay on the man, but she barks back with authority, "Empty, what do you mean, empty, there should be two more men in there."
Her head whips around, "Well, figure out where they went, then! They didn't just nip out for a quick fag if the hatch was sealed, did they?"
"The hatch is still empty, Miss Costello, I don't know what else..."
"Well, then look again." She turns back to him, the voice behind them both dismissed and disregarded. "Well, you're a doctor, what does it look like?"
He shakes his head, "I don't know, Suzie. I just don't know. He needs to get to a hospital, though. Can't figure out much here, I'm afraid."
She nods, and makes a sharp motion to the body, "Get him to HQ, set him up in a sterile environment, Doctor Smith and I will be there shortly." She glances down at his attire, "Should probably get you some other clothes, Doctor, HQ probably won't want to see you looking like you've been shagged and then thrown through the mud."
He nods, but he's far from interested in her remarks. He's been walking through a haze these last few days, and the only clearing through it is the purpose---saving a life, saving the world, saving...anything. Meaning something. His mud-covered plimsoles move towards the capsule, and he glances inside. Empty, just as the other man had said. Nothing but pressurized suits and equipment.
"And they're sure that this wasn't opened, not even once," he asks her, sliding on his glasses and looking within.
"Positive. The doors are set to register and manually mark whenever a door has been opened. This wasn't a space-walk mission, Doctor, it was just a routine probe pickup."
"So you've said," he says, shining his screwdriver inside of the hatch, "And these doors don't appear to have been tampered with." He takes a breath, and turns to look at her, "So how could two men have simply disappeared, then?"
She blinks, as if surprised that a man she has suddenly considered an inferior is now demanding an answer from her.
"I-I'm not sure---"
He smiles at her, a bit weakly, "S'all right, I'm not sure, either." A pause, and he looks back into the capsule, "But I intend to find out."
The ride back to the HQ in Cardiff city is nothing short of extremely awkward. She's driving, again, but this time her eyes dart back and forth from the window to him. He can't see her doing it---his eyes are glued to the initial visual reports by a Ianto Jones, whose handwriting is insanely small and perfect and impossible to read---but every time she looks in his direction, she breathes as she opens her mouth to say something, but changes her mind every time.
"What is it?" he demands at last, sliding off his glasses and glancing over at her.
She turns from the road for a moment, then looks back, "Are you a captain? Head of projects management?"
"No." At least that's not a lie, so he relishes in saying it.
"People don't order me around, Doctor. Not unless they're above me or they're stupid."
"Well, clearly I'm a bit on the addled side, but I'd far from call myself stupid," he says, smirking a bit in her direction.
Her tone is far from impressed, "I worked very hard to get where I am, Doctor. People don't put in the hours and the time at other jobs like they do at Torchwood. I don't get bossed around, not by anyone."
His eyebrow raises, and he turns to glance at her curiously, "Is that what you're worried about, me bossing you around?"
"Just because I shagged you doesn't mean that you have control over me."
He feels the urge to laugh at that. She thinks that has anything to do with his reaction towards her, his impudent nature and disregard for authority? He's tempted to blurt out the list of atrocities he's committed, of rules he's broken simply because he could, but the list would be far from complete and there was no way he'd be finished before the night was out.
Her voice...something about it, though. She's experienced that before, a man looming her sexuality over her, using her despite how hard she's worked. He's been many things, but never a woman, so he can easily admit he doesn't understand how she feels, but he does understand that he should not mock it.
"Suzie," he says, tugging on his ear and turning to face her, "Suziesuziesuziesuzie. While...tonight was very----" Amazing? Unusual? Human? "---intense. And I've no doubt that if this didn't happen I'd have found my way to a phone and rung you up at least...well, most likely more than once. When it does come to this, though..."
He shakes his head, "I-I don't...take that....into consideration. Danger makes companions of us all. Anything more...that's a separate situation altogether."
Some part of his mind---the half, he supposes, that is Gallifreyan---is reminding him that had he kept himself from wallowing in the stupid, the foolish and the human, than this conversation would never have happened. He wouldn't be trying to convince a woman that he thought of her only as a Torchwood member, rather than the sexual partner she had been mere hours ago.
She shakes her head, "Right. Fine. It had better stay that way. I don't pick from the people at my job for a reason, Doctor. I live with work every day, it's in my blood, under my skin. I don't want to fuck it, too."
He shakes his head, "No, I can't imagine you would."
Her car slides up to a large parking lot of the Millenium Centre, in front of a sign that said, "Parking for Suzie Costello, Torchwood". Next to, of course, a sign that read, "Parking for Cpt. Jack Harkness, Torchwood", "Parking for Dr. Owen Harper, Torchwood", "Parking for Toshiko Sato"---Dr. Sato?----"Torchwood".
He glances around, "For a secret organization, you all don't seem to mind advertising your wereabouts."
She laughs, "If a giant, secret organization was planted right in the heart of Cardiff, you know what people would do?"
A grin slides across his face, "Walk right past it?"
"You got that right."
She leads the way across the walk, and, although he hops to catch up to her, he can't bring himself to reach across and take her hand the way he would a normal companion. That intimacy isn't the kind of intimacy they share, and for some reason, that stings him. He misses...that. If he were to try, she'd most likely simply push him away, anyway. She's not the kind for simple touches, everything is so very, very complicated.
"Here," she says, moving to a block in front of the fountain, "C'mon, haven't got all day, Doctor."
His eyebrows knit together, but he has no reason to say no, and hops up next to her. Her with her perfectly pressed suit, unsmudged makeup and severe features. Him with his mud-covered trousers, filthy sneakers, flushed face and ruffled hair. They do make quite a pair, don't they?
Without warning, her hand lowers, twining her fingers with his.