Jack woke and stretched himself in the warm comfortable bed and sighed happily. He’d enjoyed last night. He’d pulled a good looking man in one of his regular haunts. His name was Huw and he had given as good as he got when it came to flirting. They’d danced together all night in the club – the sort of dancing that involves a lot of touching and groping and promises of ‘later’. And then ‘later’ turned out to be at his place and involved the best sex he’d had in ages.
He was alone in the bed. He wondered where Huw had gone. Making breakfast, maybe? That would be a nice way to start the morning. But it didn’t seem like it. There were none of the smells or sounds associated with cooking. Not even the smell of coffee.
His bladder reminded him of other morning necessities and he got out of the bed and headed for the bathroom. On his way back he noticed a door slightly ajar. It was the second bedroom in the two bedroom apartment, of course. But it didn’t sound like it was being used as a bedroom. He moved closer and looked in.
What he saw stunned him. Huw was kneeling on the floor. In front of him was a small altar with a cross and candles and incense burning. And he was praying. Jack caught a few of the words. They were the ordinary prayers most people learnt at school, even in the 51st century. But he was saying them so fast and furiously they seemed more like an incantation. If the cross had spontaneously combusted Jack would not have been surprised.
He backed away, feeling a little strange about standing there naked watching a man praying. He went to the bedroom and found his clothes then went back to the bathroom for a quick shower. Decently dressed he went to the kitchen-dining room. If Huw was busy HE would make breakfast. He put on fresh coffee in the percolator and found eggs and milk, flour and some cold potato left over from a meal the previous day. He made scrambled egg and hash browns, remembering that it was his favourite breakfast when he was a youngster a long time ago and in another place.
He let the memory linger. It was a good memory. It was a reminder that, despite all evidence to the contrary he WAS Human. He’d been thinking about things like that a lot lately. Home. Where he came from. Usually he didn’t LET himself do that. But it had all been opened up when he was affected by the ‘mood pebbles’ as Ianto had christened them. And since then he had not quite been able to bury the past as deeply as it used to be. He let himself remember how he had once been an ordinary boy who ate scrambled eggs and hash browns and played ordinary games and thought about what he might be when he grew up.
And what if those ambitions hadn’t quite been fulfilled? After all, what he became wasn’t so bad. He was one of the good guys. He helped people who were in trouble. He was helping to get this planet ready for when it would know the worst trouble it had ever known. He thought the people who once loved him back then would be proud.
“Hello.” Huw came into the kitchen looking freshly showered and dressed normally. “That smells nice. Thank you. I don’t usually…”
“It’s a workday. We both need something hot inside us.”
There was a double entendre there that reminded him of the hot sex they had enjoyed. But it didn’t seem to have the same connotations for Huw. The prayer session probably spoiled the mood.
“What sort of work do you do?” Huw managed to ask as he put the food on the table and poured coffee.
“I’m the manager of an office,” he answered, more or less truthfully. “In the bay area. What about you?”
“Similar,” Huw answered. “Civil Service. Up at the tax department.”
“Not as boring as it sounds?” Jack queried.
“Every bit as boring as it sounds.” Huw ate quietly for a while, then Jack noticed him looking at him. “Did you… when you got up… did you…”
“The door was ajar,” Jack told him. “I noticed you were occupied.”
“I suppose it must seem odd. We spent the night in fornication and then….”
“I’ve never had sex with anyone religious before,” Jack said. “Usually our sort of sex and religion don’t go together. But… you know… whatever rocks your universe.”
Huw managed a half smile.
“There’s so much you don’t know about me,” he said.
“That’s always the case when you meet somebody in a club. I went home with a woman last week and it was only when we got out of the club that I realised she was American, like me. You just can’t have a conversation in all the noise. Even then I never really knew more than her name. That’s the way of it. First names and that’s about all. Sometimes if you want a second date, you get as far as surnames and phone numbers. Which… I would love to do, by the way. I enjoyed last night and I would like to see you again, Huw.”
“I… Yes, that would be nice,” Huw said as Jack reached and poured him a second cup of coffee. For a little while it all seemed pleasant. Jack wondered if he really could maintain a steady relationship the way Ianto and Alun did. It would be nice to have somebody warm to reach out to. Even if he DID feel the need to pray for forgiveness for his sins in the morning. That was strange. But it was something he could live with. He could give him plenty of sins to be forgiven.
As Jack lingered over his third cup of coffee, knowing he probably SHOULD be getting on to the Hub very soon, Huw went to the window and opened the curtains. It was just dawn on a cold but clear late October morning. A rare beam of sunlight glanced off his face. He gave a deep, long drawn out sigh and when he turned back to look at Jack his expression had changed. He looked positively anguished.
“You must go,” he said. “Go now, and… and repent your sinful lifestyle. You will burn in Hell if you go on sinning against God. As will I.”
“Huw?” Jack stood and reached towards him, but he shrank back as if Jack’s touch would contaminate him. “Huw what’s wrong? I understand about you having religion. That’s fine by me. It really is. But…”
“Go from me, sodomite, spawn of Lucifer,” Huw cried out. “Go and tempt me no more to the dark path to destruction. I abhor you and your foul actions.”
“Hey,” he answered. “That’s not fair. They were YOUR actions, too. It takes two to tango. And you didn’t seem to abhor much when you were ripping my clothes off and giving me love bites all over my chest.”
“Sodomite!” Huw cried again. “Onanist.”
“Ok,” Jack sighed. “I’m going. I’ve got to get to work anyway. But… look… even if you’re schizoid, I still think you’re hot, and the side of you that doesn’t talk like a nutcase is nice to know. Really, call me.”
He wrote his mobile number on a pad by the phone. Huw looked at it and ripped the sheet, and several sheets below it, off the pad and screwed them in a ball before crying out a string of Old Testament biblical quotes with the words ‘sodomite’ and “onanist” thrown in for good measure. Then he turned and ran from the room, Jack followed him slowly. He had gone back to his prayer room and was not just kneeling, but prostrating himself before the altar now.
Jack went back to the kitchen and washed the plates and cups from breakfast and then wrote his name and number again on the pad. Then he quietly left the apartment. He took the lift down to the ground floor and stepped out into the cold, blustery but sunny morning. The wind blew in his face and cooled his head as he tried to puzzle out what went wrong. Why had a pleasant breakfast after a fantastic night turned so quickly into something else?
He still didn’t have an answer by the time he reached Roald Dahl Plas and descended by the pavement lift to the Hub.
He didn’t have a lot of time to brood during the morning. The summer crop circles were continuing long past harvest time. Now there were suspicious burnt patches in the stubble fields. Nearly everyone was out on the case. Gwen and Alun had gone to one badly affected location in Alun’s new car. Owen and Toshiko had the SUV out at another with the carry cot strapped into the back seat. Ianto was in the front office, ostensibly running a tourist information service but actually collating the reports on the circles.
Jack had been on the phone most of the morning to other agencies involved in the same problem. U.N.I.T., the MOD, the Ministry of Agriculture, the RSPCA for some reason! And a strange bunch of amateur conspiracy freaks who promised to send him a copy of their detailed map of all the alien landing sites.
At 12 o’clock Ianto came into his office with a large pizza box.
“I got garlic bread as well,” he said. “Want to share?”
“Sure,” Jack answered with a smile. He pulled up a chair for Ianto and they ate hungrily.
“How was your weekend?” Jack asked conversationally.
“It was better than I expected,” Ianto answered. “My mum visited.”
“Ah.” Jack half smiled. “And?”
“And Alun has her wrapped round his little finger. He’s such a charmer. Nicely spoken, well dressed. A mother’s dream. If I was a daughter instead of son, she’d be made up. She made us go to chapel yesterday morning, though. And she managed not to have to tell any lies about her son and his ‘friend’.” Ianto smiled. “Bet you never knew I was a chapel going valley boy before Torchwood corrupted me?”
“It never crossed my mind,” Jack answered honestly. “And I don’t recall you singing many hymns when we were…” Ianto blushed charmingly and Jack didn’t need to finish his sentence. They both laughed. “So, does that mean your chapel-going mother is ok with you and Alun being a pair of sodomites?”
Ianto gave a short, ironic laugh.
“Haven’t heard THAT word for it in years. I think Mum is still slightly in denial. As far as she’s concerned Alun is a workmate who sleeps in the spare room. Even though she knows perfectly well there’s no bed in there. But…” He laughed again. “Sodomite? If anyone actually called me that to my face, I’d crack up!”
“I got called it this morning,” Jack said. “And told I should repent my godless lifestyle.”
“Never thought of it like that,” Ianto replied. “I suppose it is. I mean, if we’d told anyone at chapel we were lovers the place would have imploded. But I’ve never felt guilty in that way.”
“I used to think you did. You used to be so hard to turn on. I thought you were bothered by it.”
“No, not really. I don’t know, I just…”
“Doesn’t matter,” Jack said, letting him off the hook. “We’d all burn in hell if we took the bible literally. Owen is a worse whore than me at the weekends and there’s you and Alun at it. Even Gwen and Rhys, the STRAIGHT couple. They’re not married, so they’re buggered, too. Toshiko… the most reluctant lesbian in town…”
“Actually, Tosh would be ok,” Ianto noted. “All the stuff about sex is in Leviticus and it goes on about what men can’t do with men, but it says nothing about women with women. So she isn’t going to burn in hell. The rest of us are doomed, though.”
“Here’s to damnation,” Jack said, raising a glass of coke in mock salute.
Talking to Ianto helped. He still didn’t understand what happened this morning, but he felt better about it. Then just as he was about to get back to work, the phone rang. Jack answered it.
It was DCI Swanson.
“Gloria, lovely to hear from you,” he said cheerfully
“Get down here,” she replied in a cold, humourless voice. “Just you, not your bloody entourage.” And she gave an address that wiped every possible smart response out of his head.
It was Huw’s address.
“Boss?” Ianto looked puzzled as Jack stood up looking like he’d been physically hit. “Jack… are you…”
“I’ve got to go out.”
“Yeah, I gathered that,” Ianto answered. “But are you ok? Do you want me to come with you?”
Yes, Jack thought. Somebody to hold his hand. If the awful precognition in his head was right. Yes, he would like him to come.
“No, you’d better hold the fort.” He took his coat off the peg and looked for his car keys, then remembered that the SUV was out in the field. “Call me a cab, would you, please?”
He could have walked. But he wasn’t sure he had the willpower. He knew he was going to something awful and being driven there by somebody else was the only thing stopping him from running back to his office hidden below the Plas where even DCI Swanson couldn’t find him.
He thought about that option as he stepped into the lift, accompanied by a police officer who had met him at the entrance to the apartment block but said nothing at all except to confirm his identity.
But that would be cowardly. Jack wasn’t really a coward, even if he had sometimes pretended he was.
“Bring him in here,” DCI Swanson called as he stepped under the yellow police incident tape into the apartment he had left a few hours ago. It was seething with scene of crime officers. And they all looked grim. Jack’s stomach churned as he prepared for the worst.
When he walked into the prayer room he realised he had no idea what the worst was. He swallowed bile as he looked at the mutilated remains. He tried to take in the details professionally. He looked at the victim’s face, noting his still open eyes, wide with fear and pain, colourless, waxy complexion, mouth twisted in a scream. He carefully noted the way the body had been slit from neck to groin, the internal organs exposed. Or they would be if there were any organs left. The heart, lungs, stomach, liver, kidneys, all had been removed. All that was left was a bloody shell.
“I…” Jack turned his face away, pushing down the bile that rose in his throat. He wished he could just throw up as one or two of the police officers had done judging by the mess on the floor and the smell that mingled with the sharp, awful smell of congealing blood.
He wished he could just break down and cry. He wasn’t in LOVE with Huw. He had just been a one night stand, a pick up in a club. But it still hurt to see a man he had spent a warm, fantastic night with, whom he had kissed and caressed, who he had made love to, and who had reciprocated vigorously, reduced to a bloody carcass.
“I’m going to ask this only once,” Kathy Swanson said to him. “Were you here last night?”
Jack nodded. He didn’t trust himself to speak. Then Swanson nodded to two of the uniformed officers and Jack felt them taking hold of him. One restrained him while the other handcuffed him behind his back. Kathy Swanson read him his rights. The sound of her voice echoed in his head as he looked at her with a betrayed, hurt expression.
“Sorry,” she said. “But your name and phone number was on the pad in the kitchen. And tell me, are we going to find anyone else’s DNA other than you and the victim when we run our tests?”
“No,” he answered. He had nothing else to say.
“Then, since you’re our only suspect, I have no other choice.” She nodded again to the officers and they led him away. Jack went quietly. He had no choice. She was right. He WAS the most obvious and only suspect. He said nothing as he was led down the lift. He didn’t object when one of the officers put his coat over his head to shield him from the spectators that were gathering. He said nothing as he sat with an officer next to him in the back of the van that drove him to the station. He answered only the standard questions for the custody sergeant. When he was asked for his address he hesitated. He wasn’t going to give Estelle’s old house as his address in a sordid affair like this. And his only other home was the Hub.
“Just put me down as NFA,” he said with a resigned sigh.
His possessions were bagged up and his coat, shoelaces, belt and braces were confiscated. Then he was led to a cell and the handcuffs removed as he was shut in.
He laid himself down on the narrow bench and turned his face away from where he knew there was a security camera watching him. He cried, for himself, for the desperate situation he was in, and also for Huw, who he had liked enough to want to see again.
Toshiko and Owen were the first to come back from the countryside. They were surprised to see the Tourist Office with the closed sign up and even more surprised when they reached the Hub itself to find Ianto sitting in Jack’s office chair looking dazed and worried.
“Jack’s missing,” he told them. “He was called out by DCI Swanson… I don’t know what it was about, but he was really worried when he left. And I can’t reach him. His phone goes to voice mail. His radio communicator is switched off. Four hours and not a word from him. I’m not sure about Kathy Swanson, either. HER phone is going to voice mail and her office are being bloody uncooperative.”
“He’s probably up a tall building sulking about something,” Owen said.
“No, I think it’s more than that,” Ianto answered him.
Toshiko didn’t say anything. She was at her desk warming a bottle for the baby. She came back into the office and handed baby and bottle to Owen.
“Look after her,” she said. “I’ll do a scan of the usual places.”
Owen was perfectly happy to do as she asked. He held Etsuko in the crook of his arm and fed her from the bottle, smiling at the dark baby eyes that looked up at him. He and Ianto edged towards Toshiko’s desk and watched her expertly select the traffic cams and CCTV’s that overlooked Jack’s usual ‘sulking spots’ as Owen called them.
“You know,” Owen said as she scanned them all for signs of Jack. “I don’t mind doing this, but I am surprised you don’t breast feed. It IS better for the baby.”
“I work in an office with four men,” Toshiko replied without taking her eyes off the screen.
“Well, yeah, but three of us are gay and I EXAMINED your breasts last week to make sure the milk was coming properly.”
“Even so, you’re still a perv, Owen, and Jack and Ianto aren’t exclusively gay. Besides, it IS breast milk. I express in the morning. Easier to manage during the day at work. And it lets me delegate.”
She never took her eyes off the screen as she talked. Owen continued to feed the baby then expertly winded her while smiling the sort of smile that would seriously ruin his reputation as a confirmed bachelor of Cardiff City.
Ianto watched the screen and bit his lip nervously. He looked, Owen thought, like somebody whose world was spinning at a different speed to everyone else’s.
“He’s in none of the usual places,” Toshiko eventually concluded. Jack, she knew, went up on high roofs to be alone and to think. But he didn’t go to hide away from people. They usually knew where he was. This was worrying. “The UNusual places would take forever. Let’s try something else.” She turned to the other keyboard and screen and brought up the police system. She looked for Kathy Swanson’s currently open cases.
“Oh my GOD!” she exclaimed as she read the details of the current murder investigation. She said it again when she found the name of the suspect held for questioning. “Oh, Jack!”
“No,” Owen said. “No fucking way.” He hugged the baby close to him. “Sorry, kiddo, you’re too young for words like that. But still, no… no… no.”
“No,” Ianto echoed in a curiously numb monotone. “No, that’s not right, It’s not….”
Toshiko took Etsuko back from Owen and held her as she sat at her desk and read the report through again. She glanced at the mood pebbles in their nest of cotton wool. She was SURE they had darkened a little in the last emotionally charged minutes.
When the cell door opened again a few hours later Jack had stopped crying and composed himself. He was told to stand up. He was handcuffed again as he was brought to the interview room. Two officers waited at the door as he sat at the table and waited.
DCI Swanson came in along with a male officer, a DI. She looked at him once then glanced away. That hurt more than anything. He had worked with her on so many cases. Not so long ago, in this very station, he saved her life. But now she wouldn’t look at him. He felt as if HE was the one who had been gutted.
DCI Swanson turned on the tape recorder and formally identified herself and DI Endaf Jenkins. She gave the date and time and the fact that she was interviewing a prisoner known by the name of Jack Harkness. She noted, also, that he had refused the option of having a lawyer present. Jack had stated firmly and decisively that he was innocent and he didn’t need one. She had looked at him with an expression that was a cross between pity and exasperation.
“Is that your real name?” demanded DI Jenkins.
“It’s the name I am known by,” Jack answered, knowing that wasn’t really an answer to the question.
“You have no birth record, no NI number. You DO have a driving licence apparently, but Swansea refuse to confirm if it is real or not. You have no known residence in the UK…”
“You know why that is,” he answered. “I’m the director of Torchwood Cardiff. If I could be traced that easily I’d be dead. So let’s not play around. I’m not going to answer those questions and I’m not here because DVLA don’t have a home address for me.”
“No,” Jenkins responded. “You’re here because you’re a fucking queer who murdered your boyfriend and ate his liver.”
“Don’t be sick,” Jack answered. “I don’t know what happened there, but I don’t think anyone ate anyone’s liver.”
Detective Swanson told her subordinate to keep to the point before she went on to ask him about how, where and when Jack had met the victim, Huw Ap Thomas. Jack answered truthfully about the club, dancing, going home to Huw’s flat.
“What did you do there?” Jenkins demanded.
“We had a drink and then went to bed. Do you REALLY want to know what we did there, in detail? You’d need a bigger tape in that recorder for one thing. And for another… I don’t WANT to go over my memories of a really pleasant time with a man who is dead now through nothing I did.”
Jenkins seemed to want to push it but DCI Swanson moved on, asking him about what happened in the morning. Jack told about Huw saying his prayers, breakfast, then the strange change of attitude.
“So there you go,” he said finally. “The guy was schizoid. A hot lover by night and a Holy Joe when the sun comes up.”
“So why did you leave your name and number?”
“Because the hot lover side of him was fantastic and I wanted to get to know him. I thought I could put up with the Holy Joe for the sake of the satisfaction he gave the rest of the time.” Jack looked at the two officers. DCI Swanson was inscrutable, but Jenkins was seething with barely controlled homophobia.
“Look, he was alive when I left him. Schizoid, praying like it was going out of fashion, but alive. And now he’s dead and I’m sorry he is. He didn’t deserve what some nutcase did to him. But it sure as hell wasn’t me.”
“Why should we believe you?” Jenkins replied.
“Because I’m telling the truth. And even if YOU can’t see it, SHE should.” He looked at Kathy Swanson. She shifted uneasily on her chair.
Gloria, you DON’T think I’m capable of this.”
“Don’t call me Gloria,” she snapped. “And… I don’t know WHAT you’re capable of. I don’t KNOW you that well. You and Torchwood are so shrouded in secrecy and subterfuge I don’t know WHAT I believe of you.”
“Look,” Jack sighed. “If I’d killed him, why would I have left my number, let alone all the other obvious DNA traces you’re going to find. I wouldn’t be that stupid. Incidentally, you WON’T find any of those traces of me in that room. I touched the door, twice, looking in on him saying his prayers. That’s all.”
He always figured Swanson for a woman who he could reason with. Why didn’t she see it? Why did she let Jenkins do all the talking?
“You could have used gloves,” Jenkins pointed out.
“I could have levitated,” Jack answered. “But I didn’t. It seems to me…”
“It seems to ME,” Jenkins cut him off. “That an A1 pervert has moved from sodomy to sicko, murdering his one night stands. And we’ve got you at last. So why don’t you come clean. Why did you murder them? What did you do with the entrails? Did you eat them?”
“You are a sick bastard,” Jack replied. “Or you’ve been watching too many horror movies.”
“YOU’RE the sick bastard,” Jenkins answered. “Sick, perverted sodomiser.”
What WAS it with that word today, Jack wondered as he listened to a string of invective from Jenkins that had nothing to do with a murder case.
“That’s enough,” Swanson said to him and he calmed down again. It was a game, of course, Jack realised. Bad cop, good cop. Except Swanson wasn’t doing much about the good cop bit. She could have been a hell of a lot more sympathetic. She could have cut him a break.
Then Swanson was called away and it was just bad cop. For an hour, two hours, he questioned Jack over and over, demanding to know how he had killed Huw, WHY he had killed him, what he did with the body parts cut out of the corpse. He used the filthiest language Jack had ever heard, and he thought he had heard it all. Clearly men who picked up other men in clubs and went home for sex were the lowest form of humanity as far as Jenkins was concerned. Jack denied everything again and again. The abuse he ignored. He let it wash over him. He just wished it could be over. Let them put him back in the cell where it was quiet, where he could be alone with his sorrow, where he could grieve in peace.
Ianto grabbed the phone as soon as it rang. His fluttering heart sank when he heard Gwen’s voice, not Jack’s. But then, he wouldn’t phone his own desk!
“I’m sorry, Ianto,” she said. “They wouldn’t let me in to see him. I thought me being technically a police officer might help. But it was no good. And Kathy… she left a message. She said ‘If any of his bloody lot come sniffing around tell them to go to hell.’”
“She surely doesn’t think that Jack…” Ianto couldn’t even say the words. Murder and Jack in the same context. No. His mind couldn’t countenance the idea.
“You did your best,” he told Gwen. “Go on home, now. It’s hotpot night, isn’t it?”
“I can’t go home and eat Rhys’s home cooking while Jack is in a police cell…”
“Yes you can, Gwen, love,” Ianto told her. “I’ll ring you if we hear anything. Meanwhile… you try not to worry. Alun can drive you home then come on back here.”
“Can you ask him to pick me up a packet of disposable nappies?” Toshiko asked. “That’s all I’m short of if we’re going to work through the night.”
“You should go home, too,” Ianto told her.
“I don’t have a boyfriend at home fretting about me if I don’t keep office hours,” she pointed out. “Etsuko is the only one who needs me and she’s right here.”
Ianto passed her message to Gwen to give to Alun and put down the phone. He looked around. Owen was showing no sign of heading home tonight, either. They were sticking together. In Gwen’s case she was sticking with them by going home and trying to live a normal life. That was her role right now. To live the normal life that made it all worthwhile for the rest of them.
Jenkins finally gave up hounding Jack and he WAS put back in the cells, for a while at least. Long enough for Jenkins to have a meal and a rest and come back fresh to the challenge. Jack hadn’t had a meal and his rest had consisted of lying quietly with his back to the camera. Even so he managed to get through two more hours of the same questions, over and over, the same insults designed to wear him down. He WAS being worn down. But not so much that he would confess to something he hadn’t done. He wasn’t stupid.
It was hardly the first time he’d been interrogated, after all. As he lay on the bench after the second round of questions his mind turned back on the many times he had been on the wrong end of an grilling in the past. He remembered the time in 1915 when he had been caught behind enemy lines and questioned in broken English for twelve hours straight by a German officer who looked like a Human basset hound. Two years later his OWN side had accused him of being a double agent and interrogated him on and off for days before dragging him in front of a court martial and sentencing him to be shot. That was an experience he wouldn’t forget in a hurry. Waking up in a pit, in a uniform that was peppered with bullet holes. He remembered the burial detail wetting themselves when he climbed out looking like a ghost, covered in quicklime.
Then there was the Second World War, more bloody Germans yelling at him, and another firing squad. At least it WAS the enemy that time.
Yep, he’d been interrogated pretty thoroughly in the past. And Jenkins, even just outside the PACE regulations as he was, ranked no more than an amateur by comparison.
But even so, he wished the bastard would go off duty and leave him alone. He wondered where DCI Swanson was, and why she was letting this go on. Was she getting her own back on him for some of the times when Torchwood had taken advantage of her and her team? Surely not? Surely she HADN’T forgotten the alien in the cells and the fact that she and many other officers, possibly including Jenkins, would be dead without Torchwood’s intervention?
But it seemed as if Jack, as the only suspect, was going to be held for the maximum twenty-four hours they were allowed to hold him without charge. It seemed as if there was little effort being made to find the real killer and every effort being made to FIND something more than the circumstantial evidence that he was THERE in order to make the charge stick.
And as he was sent back to the cells for the last time, Jenkins had made him a sinister promise.
“You’ll get what’s coming to you.”
Toshiko watched as Etsuko fell asleep in her carry cot by her workstation and turned back to the screen. She glanced at the mood pebbles as she did so. They were VERY much deeper coloured now. They were feeding off the heightened tension in the Hub. They were all feeling it, deeply. They were the proverbial snake with the head cut off right now. Everything felt wrong. They all hurt. Owen and Ianto were worst affected. Ianto still cared very deeply for Jack even though they were no longer sexual partners. Alun, bless him, was doing a saintly job of not minding that his lover was pining for another man.
Owen was just holding it in at the moment. Toshiko wondered if it was the mood pebbles drawing off some of the tension and helping to balance things, or he was trying not to go ballistic around Etsuko. But it was a close thing. Jack was his captain, his friend, his role model. Jack was the one who kept the lid on Owen’s excesses, or who found him ways to let them out harmlessly when the pressure was about to blow. Without him, Owen was a pressure cooker with the valve stuck down.
Some time after midnight Jack DID get what was coming to him in the form of Jenkins and another police officer, who kicked him around the cell floor for twenty minutes, carefully choosing to injure him in such a way that could be put down to self-harm. The security camera was switched off, of course. There would be some reason given to explain that.
Then they left him alone and he finally got the peace he had longed for. He stretched himself out on the narrow bench-bed and tried to sleep.
It was eight o’clock, a little past dawn, by the custody suite’s clock, when he was roused from his sleep and told he was being released without charge. He said nothing except to confirm that his property was correctly returned to him. He put his laces in his shoes and fastened his belt and braces. He put his wristlet on his arm and the rest of his possessions in his coat pocket as he slipped that on, and then he waited patiently for the sergeant to unlock the door and let him out.
He breathed in the cool morning air and felt something like relief. But it was a relief tinged with dismay, because he realised WHY they had decided he was not their suspect after all.
The killer had struck again during this night while he was locked away in the police cells.
His mobile phone rang. He noticed it was DCI Swanson calling. He was tempted to send it to voicemail. He waited until a second before it would automatically switch over before he pressed the button to receive the call.
“Harkness,” he said tersely.
“Jack.” She sounded relieved. “You’re… they HAVE released you?”
“Ok. Look… I am SORRY, Jack. I had no other choice.”
“You had plenty of choices,” Jack answered. “You COULD have trusted your instincts and given me the benefit of the doubt. You COULD have asked me to help in the investigation. You COULD have kept that bloody bigoted son of a bitch of a DI off my back.”
“Jenkins?” Swanson paused for a moment. “Did he… Look…. If he overstepped the mark, you have the right to complain.”
“Damn right I do, and I will be,” he promised. “But right now there are more important things going on. There’s been another murder, hasn’t there? How many does that make it now?”
Again there was a pause. His last question was probably the one she was considering the longest. SHE had never said anything about other deaths. But Jenkins had given it away. He recalled his words.
“An A1 pervert… murdering his one night stands. And we’ve got you at last. So why don’t you come clean. Why did you murder them?”
Them, not HIM. This had already happened at least once before Huw was killed. And it had happened again. Gloria and her team had a serial killer on their hands.
“Stay out of this,” DCI Swanson told him at last. “This ISN’T Torchwood business. It’s a murder investigation, pure and simple. It’s not your case.”
“I say what’s a Torchwood case,” he answered. “Where are you, Gloria? Where’s the scene of the crime? You know I only have to ring my office and they can find out. Above the law, remember. It would be easier if you just tell me now.”
She sighed. She told him. It was the other side of the city. He dialled the number of a reliable minicab service.