Fandom: Doctor Who / Torchwood
Pairing: The Doctor (Ten)/Suzie Costello
Word Count: 1,947
Rating: R for sexuality
Summary: The Doctor follows a human weakness, and it leads him to Torchwood, yet again.
Author's Notes: So sorry this part took so insanely long to get out, I had a lot on my RL and RP mind. =( The next parts shouldn't take so long! 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.
Other Parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three
He lets Suzie slip from his grip and slide towards the stairs, away from him. Back into Torchwood, into the things that she understands. He turns then, glances up to the top of the stairs to the man he is supposed to recognize but only barely can.
Jack. The Doctor wishes he could say that time was good to the other man. His hair is clipped, his stance is stiff and cold, and the look on his face is one of complete disapproval. A simplistic hot-shot Jack is not, but the Doctor knew that from the beginning.
"Wasn't aware that there was a visit due in from Manchester," Jack's voice booms with authority along with that disapproval and annoyance, "I'm Captain Jack Harkness, any reason you've got my second-in-command pressed up against a wall?"
"It's nothing Jack," Suzie says, rolling her eyes, "If it was, you know I could handle it."
Jack ignores her---little wonder the woman doesn't care much for him---keeping his eyes on the Doctor. There's a flash of something there, in that gaze. It's not quite recognition, not quite suspicion. Nothing more, and the Doctor can't push it, no matter how much he wants to.
"Doctor John Smith," he says, stepping up the stairs with the same sort of calculated grace he's watched everyone in Torchwood walk with, "Just in the area, heard about the crash, thought I'd drop by, see if I could lend some assistance. You weren't at the crash when Miss Costello and I arrived."
"Still no reason to be manhandling my team," Jack says. His arms are crossed, he's closed off. The Doctor can't remember the last time he saw him so cold. There's an anger there, and it's a kind he's never seen Jack have before. Maybe when they went up to floor 500 after they thought Rose had died, but that...that was a long time ago. And Jack wears his anger now the way most women wear mascara---thick, but it's supposed to look natural.
"We were discussing personal views on Torchwood equipment," the words slide from the Doctor's tongue easily, and he feels a bit of an ache at how easy it is to put on a false air and slice out truths from a man he once trusted with his life.
As he reaches the top of the stairs, Jack takes a step forward, invading the Doctor's personal space and glaring at him with all the anger and annoyance those grey eyes of his could hold.
"You want yourself in on this mission, Suzie wants you here, I don't care. You keep your hands off my team. Understood?"
The Doctor tries so very, very hard to look ashamed and intimidated, but he can't remove that look of curiosity. Why does Jack have so much anger? What happened? How did he survive? How does he survive with all that fury and coldness?
There's no time for desired intimidation, and Jack spins around, barking a command like, This way or something to that effect.
"While you and Slim Jim back there were over at the crash site, I was in the main lab, made it there just a few minutes after you left," Jack says to Suzie, "Collected the black box and the equipment left behind in the shuttle." He glares a bit at her, "I suppose you were going to go back for it."
"Had a few other things on my mind at the time," Suzie says, and although she doesn't blush, the Doctor can tell she's got irritation and embarrassment running just below the surface of her skin.
"Yeah, well, should keep your eye on the ball, Suzie," Jack says, eyeing the Doctor for a moment before returning to what he was speaking about. Words aren't really necessary for that look. That look says a whole lot more.
On the table in front of him sits a bright orange space suit, not unlike the one that Victor was wearing when the Doctor and Suzie first found him. Intact, apart from the side, which appears to be cut open.
"This is the suit from one of the missing pilots," Jack says, "Now something is very, very wrong with this suit---"
"It's cut open," Owen offers, "Let in chemicals...?"
"No, Owen, I did that," Jack says, and that annoyance doesn't seem to vanish for even a heartbeat, "These suits are specific for this team, for this mission. They're stitched in such a way that it's a multi-layer system, so while aboard the crew can remove layers depending on heat, comfort level, that sort of thing. The next layer can't be worn without the first but these---"
"Are completely intact," the Doctor finishes, shaking his head a bit as he steps forward, taking the suit in hand and glancing at the multiple layers, "But that's impossible. Suits like that are made to be put on one layer at a time, not put together in parts."
"So, what, you're saying the pilots just disappeared, right from their suits?" Toshiko asks, glancing nervously at Jack.
"I don't know," Jack replies, "But we'll find out more when we get through the black box."
"Speaking of," that would be the voice of Ianto Jones, all intimidated quietness, but with a sort of authority in every word he speaks, something the Doctor respects. Not a lot of words, but the ones he uses are ones he knows are correct. "I've got the box opened, Sir, where do you want it?"
"In my office," Jack replies, all but skipping up the stairs. He doesn't say anything, but everyone begins to follow him, so the Doctor does as well. No point in not following the crowd when he's trying to fit in.
Suzie's hand touches his arm, and he turns to her, raising an eyebrow, glancing back at her. The look she gives him is almost pleading, and it's only momentary before she covers it up with a mask of...something else.
"Don't rile him. Jack. He may be a bastard, but he's my boss, now. I have to work with him."
He offers her a slight smile, a very quick twitch of the lips. "You don't have to do anything, Suzie."
She mimics his raised eyebrow with one of her own, "You haven't worked for Torchwood that long, have you?"
He opens his mouth to ask what she means, but there's an annoyed cough at the top of the stairs---Jack, again---and they follow it without hesitation.
"You're just a bloke I picked up in a bar," she hisses at him, quietly, "This is my life, this is my job, all right? You pull a stunt like that again, and it won't be you Jack goes after, all right?"
"Job's that important to you?" he asks. He finds that his original interpretation of her is very wrong---she's easy to read. Right now she's terrified, completely terrified that this man who has followed her into her life is going to mess it up.
"It's my life," she says, "That's what this place is to me. It's inside of me." A pause, and she looks at him, "Isn't it like that for you?"
His eyes catch hers, and he can swear she's not human. No human can have eyes that are that dark, that completely scared and frightened while still hidden beneath a mask of professionalism. She needs someone to understand her. Doesn't just want it, she needs it.
"Right, yeah, yeah, it's like that." He tugs a bit on his ear, and wishes he wasn't lying. Then he could truly empathize. He feels like she needs to be understood. Then she walks past him, high heels clacking against the grate of the floor, and is back to being a Torchwood employee and no longer Suzie Costello.
He wonders if she realizes the difference anymore.
"Something's got into the ship? S'not possible!"
"Readings say pressure differences, for fuck's sake, calm down!"
"Ich habe keine---"
"Can you hear it?"
"Don't listen to it, Victor, don't. It's not...what the---"
Fifteen minutes from the time where they thought something was wrong until their deaths. The screams sit just above the white noise, and the Doctor can't decide which is more terrifying, the screams themselves, or the Torchwood team's lack of response to them. The voices are people, people with lives and families and everything that Torchwood's team doesn't have anymore. Maybe they don't react out of jealousy, because when they die they won't be losing lives, they'll just be dying.
He remembers when Jack showed emotions, cringed at the sight of pain, even if he was the one forced to administer it. Now, he was just empty. It was like he was dead, a walking shell.
"What does that mean?" Owen demands, "I'm not an astronaut, half that shit makes no sense, up to the point where they said they thought something was on board."
"Don't strain yourself, Owen. Pressure readings were off," Suzie explains, "It just means that something with a heavy density got on board."
"How? The doors were sealed, nothing could've got in." Dr. Sato speaks up, glancing at all of them over the rim of her coffee cup.
The Doctor speaks this time, scratching his head a bit as he does, "Everything doesn't have to 'get in'. Could've squeezed through the molecules of the ship's walls for all we know. That could be the simplified animal protein, a sort of lubricant between molecules. It attached to one of them, yeah? That's what they said?"
He picks up Ianto's transcription of the box information, scanning over it quickly.
"I didn't hear that," Owen says.
"It was in German," Jack replies, "About a minute before they all died. He cried out that he didn't know what was happening to him, something was attached to his suit." Of course Jack would understand that, the TARDIS still floats a bit in his mind. And, considering the 51st century Americans actually speak Japanese, if the Doctor remembers correctly, it is probably the only way he was able to speak to anyone in this time period.
"There weren't any claw marks on the suit," Suzie says, "Nothing that left a mark attached to him."
"If it slid through the metal, could've slid through the suit, too," the Doctor theorizes, "Damages them from the inside out? But why would it leave one man unharmed? Victor Caroon."
"There was residue on the suits as well," Jack confirms, a brief, somewhat impressed look on his face, "Right, okay, Tosh, run John's idea through some of the databases, we'll see what it comes up with. Owen, you keep analyzing those proteins and Victor Caroon. Suzie, John, you two are coming with me."
Suzie stands without question---she reminds him a bit of a Terorician soldier, now that he thinks about it, all strength and suppressed rage, with a layer of duty keeping her intact---and picks up her bag. The Glove is still in there, the Doctor thinks. He wonders why she keeps carrying it. It seems so...unnecessary.
The Doctor, however, can't seem to keep himself from blurting out, "Where are we going?"
Any impressed look Jack had is wiped away with another one of annoyance, "Where I tell you we're going, is that clear?"
There's a moment where the Doctor feels the urge to be rude. The urge to say something standoffish and possibly witty, to break the tension, to see if he can bring back a bit of the playful, fun Jack he remembers.
He has a funny feeling that Jack died back on Satellite Five.
He stands, picks up his coat and nods. "Crystal."