Alun and Ianto stepped out of their favourite backstreet cinema, clutching hands happily. It was 1940s nostalgia night and they had just enjoyed a big screen triple bill of Brief Encounter, The Maltese Falcon and Odd Man Out.
“It’s funny,” Alun commented to his lover. “But you always seem at home watching those old black and white films. As if you relate to them better than you do to modern films. If I didn’t know better I’d think you fell through the Rift from the 1940s.”
“I was born in 1980,” Ianto assured him. “And to prove it, what I really feel like right now is a good modern donner kebab.”
“Best place for that would be Tanzis on Womanby Street. We can take a short cut down this way.”
Alun stepped into a dimly lit alley. There were street lights at the far end, not more than fifty yards away, but Ianto shivered. He knew perfectly well what sort of things lurked in the shadowy places of Cardiff. When he wasn’t armed with weevil pacifying spray and cuffs he really preferred to stay on the well lit main streets of the city after dark.
“You’re probably right,” Alun agreed and paused in his step. “Hold on… what’s that…”
He lunged forward into the darkness. Ianto sighed and ran after him and instantly forgot about kebabs when he saw the body that Alun was bending over.
It was a man, sitting upright, propped against the wall with his legs outstretched.
“When we passed the top of Castle Street, did you notice the digital temperature readout on the front of the tourist office?” Alun asked him.
“It was seven degrees centigrade before we went into the cinema five hours ago,” Ianto replied. “I think it’s probably dropped about three degrees since then.”
“Yeah, I’d go with that,” Alun agreed. “So how on Earth did this guy freeze to death?”
Ianto found a penlight torch in his pocket and shone it on the body of a well-dressed man. His face was almost bone-white with a peculiar texture to it. Ianto reached out and touched the dead man’s cheek. The texture was a layer of frost. His fingers left a track in the rime.
“He… might have…. been locked in the back of a refrigerated trailer and dumped out here?” Ianto suggested. Even though he worked for Torchwood he searched for ordinary explanations before he turned to the extraordinary. “Maybe… I saw a newspaper report once… about a man who owned a Chinese restaurant. He committed suicide by slitting his wrists while lying down in the chest freezer. I… really went off Chinese food for a while after reading that…”
Alun gave Ianto a quizzical look.
“I suppose that’s possible. But… I don’t know. Martha is on the night shift. I think she’s going to want to see this body.”
With that he reached for his mobile phone and asked the Torchwood medic to come out with the SUV and pick up the corpse. Martha didn’t sound pleased.
“Just call the police and let them take him to the hospital morgue. It’s probably just a down and out. This winter saw a lot of them dying of the cold. There aren’t enough hostel places for them.”
“Five weeks back when we were knee deep in snow, yes,” Alun answered. “But it’s much warmer now. And besides, he’s not a tramp. He’s got a tooled leather wallet with credit cards and cash in it. And he’s frozen stiff.”
“All right,” she conceded. “I’m on my way.”
At a little after seven o’clock Jack Harkness arrived in the Hub. He noticed Alun and Ianto on the rest area sofa. They had fallen asleep together in a cosy tangle of limbs. The TV was displaying Film 4’s ‘not in service’ test card after an all night marathon of classic black and white movies. He switched it off and left them alone. He went to the coffee machine that was always bubbling away any time Ianto was in the Hub and poured two cups. He brought them down to the medical room where Martha gratefully accepted the refreshment.
“So… were the boys right? Have we got some Torchwood style weird shit going on?”
“I think we have.” Martha took a gulp of coffee before turning to the built in cadaver drawers. She opened one of them and unzipped the body bag inside. Jack looked dispassionately at the corpse. Then he touched the sides of the drawer.
“Room temperature,” he noted. “But the body…” He touched the chest with two fingers. The flesh was pliable now, but still freezing cold. “How long was it since the boys called you out?”
“Five hours,” Martha answered. “It’s taken this long. I haven’t even been able to do an autopsy yet. He was too solid.”
Jack helped her to transfer the body onto the autopsy table and watched her work. She first measured the external temperature of the body and then body cavity temperature. The flesh was now a little above freezing, but the temperature inside the mouth and rectum was still minus one centigrade.
“By the way,” Martha added, glancing at Jack. “Have you noticed something about this body.”
Martha smiled widely.
“I am surprised. I didn’t think it was something YOU’D miss.”
Jack glanced at her and then looked again at the body on the slab. For a moment he didn’t get what she meant. Then he saw it. He couldn’t help the grin that crossed his face.
“Well, you know, corpses really aren’t my style. If I’d met him earlier in the evening…”
“Behave,” Martha told him. “Or I’ll tell Garrett. But my point is… he must have died very quickly. If it had been slow, then I think he would have lost his erection. The pain of freezing would surely have killed the passion.”
“He had a hard on, in a back alley in the city centre after midnight. No prizes for guessing what he was up to. But how did he turn into an ice block?”
“I have no idea,” Martha admitted. “And I’m not sure an internal autopsy will tell us much. But I suppose I’d better get on with it now that I can actually make an incision.”
Jack watched as she picked up her tools and began to cut into the body. He looked up and noted that Alun and Ianto were watching, too. So was Gwen. He left the autopsy long enough to give all three of them some work to do before taking up position at the rail himself where he could see everything that Martha was doing to the body without having to be too close up.
“Good grief,” she murmured as she pulled something out of the stomach cavity with a long pair of surgical tongs. It clattered as she placed it on a tray.
It was the dead man’s liver.
It was frozen solid.
Martha carefully extracted all of the internal organs. They were all still frozen.
“If you want a preliminary conclusion,” she said. “I would say that this man froze from the inside out. His heart was stopped by the freezing action along with every other organ… and it was so fast he couldn’t have had any idea what was happening to him.”
“Small mercies,” Jack commented.
“He had eaten steak and had a couple of glasses of wine with it,” Martha added. “Not very long before his death. The stomach contents are perfectly preserved. I’ll do toxicology as soon as I can defrost some of his blood, but I’m not expecting to find anything unusual there. The cause of death is obvious… just bloody unlikely.”
“Ok,” Jack replied. “Thanks, Martha. You did a good job. I think we’re all ready for a working breakfast about now. I’ll order in. Finish up here and join us. The boys can bring what they have about our ice cold lover boy to the table.”
Perhaps anywhere else it would have seemed odd sitting around a table eating crispy bacon, scrambled eggs and hash browns, swilled down with a gallon of coffee, while discussing the last movements of a dead man. But this was the Torchwood Hub.
“The victim is James Ogden of Roath,” Alun said. “Aged thirty-four. He’s a graphic artist, own business. Engaged to be married….” Alun paused there and looked around. But nobody thought that there was anything unusual about that statement. “He’s engaged, and yet he…”
“I’d be more surprised if you’d told me he was a virgin, saving himself for his honeymoon night,” Jack commented with a shrug. “Engaged, yes, but still happy to have a quick one up against the wall in a back alley. Typical hetero male of the twenty-first century.”
“If that’s what he did,” Ianto pointed out. “I mean… have we ruled out the possibility of a deep freeze?”
“Yes,” Martha answered. “First of all, the fact that he was found sitting with his back square against the wall. He froze in that position. Plus Gwen has the CCTV….”
Gwen put down her coffee cup and turned to the computer terminal behind her.
“God bless image recognition software and Toshiko’s night-vision enhancement programme that sharpens up all these pictures.” The CCTV pictures appeared on screen. “Our man had dinner at Ben-Joe’s in the High Street. Best steaks in Cardiff. Rhys and I ate there a couple of weeks ago…” She smiled her gap-toothed smile and got back to the point. “After eating he walked up to Castle Street and went into Kando’s… it’s a Jazz club… He was there until 1.15… that’s something like three-quarters of an hour before the boys found him in the alleyway. He came out with…”
He came out with a woman. She looked like a regular client of the After Dark Club three doors down with the classic figure hugging black dress, long dark hair with a widows peak, pale complexion and carmine lips.
“She’s not,” Jack said with absolute certainty.
“Not what?” Gwen asked.
“Not one of the After Dark crowd. She’s not a vampire. They don’t show up on security cameras. Look…. That’s a Human with a vampire companion passing them now.”
The man who walked past in the opposite direction looked like he was doing a mime of a man holding hands with a friend. As he passed Ogden and his lady friend he turned his head as if paying attention to what the invisible person by his side was saying. Then he half turned and looked at Ogden. It seemed as if he was going to go back to him, but the invisible person tugged at his hand and he changed his mind.
“That guy’s vampire friend guessed there was something wrong,” Martha said. “He knew there was something funny about her.”
“Ogden and his friend carried on down Castle Street. These images here are from the After Dark Club’s cameras, incidentally. Notice them stepping around a couple more people who don’t show up in the images. Then down Womanby Street and into that alleyway. It should have taken them maybe a minute to walk straight through to Westgate Street. A bit longer if they stopped for… you know… a shag… But I checked the camera footage either end of the alley right up to an hour later when Martha turned up in the SUV. Of course, your man didn’t come out. Because he was dead. But she didn’t come out, either.”
“There was nobody in the alley when we found him,” Alun and Ianto confirmed. “So… where did she go?”
“The emergency exits to quite a few buildings lead out into that alley,” Jack pointed out. “She could have got in anywhere. You two go back there and make inquiries. Gwen, you come with me. Martha, could you try your contacts in the morgue and find out if there have been any other cases like this. Yes, I know. It’s February and there are probably plenty of down and outs dying of exposure. But try anyway.”
“I know what I’m looking for,” Martha confirmed. “I’ll see what I can find.”
“Where are we going?” Gwen asked as she watched the traffic lights turn conveniently green ahead of them on the A470.
“Tongwynlais,” Jack replied. “Because Davina from the After Dark Club tells me that’s where the chap with the invisible partner lives. I faxed her his picture. She identified him from her membership database. He’s Aleksy Dudeka, a Polish migrant. Must be doing better than most, though. He owns his own house and he’s a premium member of After Dark.”
“Aleksy Dudeka?” Gwen repeated. “You don’t listen to the sports news much, do you?”
“Not as a rule, no,” Jack answered.
“He’s Cardiff City’s newest signing. He used to be Poland’s number two goalkeeper. Banana boat and Big Daff had a row about him last week when they were round our place. Daff reckons there are too many foreign players on the team now. But then again Daff thinks Bristol is foreign. He moaned when they got a defender from Northern Ireland. Banana Boat reckons he doesn’t care if they sign up the whole Polish national team if City get to the Premiership….”
“Wonder what Daff would think if he knew Mr Dudeka has a vampire girlfriend,” Jack commented. Gwen laughed and decided she wasn’t going to be the one to tell him.
The girlfriend was actually a boyfriend. Aleksy Dudeka was surprisingly accommodating when Jack introduced himself and Gwen and stated the purpose of his visit. He served them both coffee before he closed velvet lined curtains in the tasteful modern drawing room of his house and then opened an internal door and called out in Polish. Presently, a young man with dark hair and pale complexion entered the room. He sat down on a leather sofa. Aleksy sat at his side gripping his hand.
“This is Kaspar Dudeka,” Aleksy said. “He came over from Gdynia with me. Though in truth, he didn’t go through the usual channels. Immigration for vampires is… a slightly different procedure.”
“You’re married?” Gwen asked, noting that they had the same surname.
“No,” Kaspar replied with a much heavier accent than Aleksy and a toothy yet rather endearing smile. “I am Aleksy’s great-great-great grand uncle. I have been in the family for several generations. We… well, I think we’re far enough removed for it not to count as incest, but I know it must seem a bit strange to you.”
“I work for Torchwood,” Gwen told him. “You don’t know strange like I know it. But… The reason we’re here…”
“It’s about the Welur, isn’t it,” Kaspar said. “Did she… has anything happened?”
“There’s a man dead,” Jack replied in a cool tone.
“Oh! mój Bóg!” Aleksy exclaimed and then launched into fast, almost incomprehensible Polish. That is to say it was completely incomprehensible to Gwen whose language skills amounted to conversational Welsh and O’level French. Jack understood Polish because he had once been exposed to the energy at the heart of the TARDIS and being able to understand virtually every language in the universe was just one side effect. It was incomprehensible because Aleksy was speaking so fast and with increasing emotion.
The gist of it was that Kaspar had recognised the creature he had called a ‘Welur’ and Aleksy had wanted to warn Ogden that he was in danger. Kaspar had been afraid to get involved. First, because he was a vampire and an illegal immigrant, but secondly because he was a man, and Aleksy had come to Wales to play football in a league where homophobia was an issue still to be addressed. He wanted them both to keep a low profile and not get involved in anything.
“We should have done something,” Aleksy insisted, turning to English again. “That man might still be alive if we hadn’t been worried about our own skins.”
“You mustn’t think that way,” Gwen said to him kindly. “You couldn’t have known…”
“But we did,” Kaspar told her. “We both know what a Welur is capable of. They’re rare enough now. Like vampires, they were hunted down by Humans But every so often, there are a few victims, usually attributed to the weather, of course. But if you found that man, then you know…”
Jack nodded sympathetically. He understood why they had not acted. He wished it had been otherwise. It was a cowardice of a kind, and he despised cowards, even though he had been one himself for a time. But he found himself unable to condemn them.
“We found the body,” he confirmed. “Look, recriminations won’t help him, now. You had your reasons for not getting involved. It makes you no worse than the average Cardiff citizen walking by on the other side of the road. So don’t beat yourselves up over it. Just… help us out here. What IS a Welur? Is it a kind of vampire we haven’t come across before?”
Kaspar’s expression darkened. Gwen thought there was a hint of sharpened incisors protruding. He made a noise in his throat that wasn’t exactly a growl, but wasn’t Human speech, either.
“Welur are… szumowiny. They are… slime… scum. They are dirt beneath our feet. No vampire of honour would associate with Welur. They have no honour. They murder indiscriminately. They have no thought other than taking from humans that which they need to continue their unnatural lives.”
Gwen thought that was a case of the pot calling the kettle. But Jack nodded and told him to go on.
“They are creatures of the night, like us,” Kaspar admitted. “There the resemblance ends. And it is to my shame that I did not put down that leech when I saw it for what it was. A man died…”
“They take what from humans?” Jack asked patiently.
“Heat,” Kaspar explained. “They take every bit of heat from the body, fuelling their own cold blood with it. They leave their victims devoid of the slightest spark of warmth, frozen even on warm summer nights.”
Kasper spoke in Polish to Aleksy again then turned back to Jack and Gwen.
“Unless there have been other victims that were not recognised as the work of a Welur, you may be lucky. There might only be one in the city. It will hunt only at night. It cannot absorb the warmth of the sun. It can only take Human warmth. It will come out after dark and prey upon the men of this city.”
“It can be killed?” Jack asked.
“They can,” Kaspar confirmed. “Unlike vampires they are vulnerable to all Human methods of killing. They can be shot, stabbed, hung, beheaded.”
“That’s what I hoped you’d say,” Jack told him. “Thank you, Mr Dudeka. Both of you. Thank you for your help. Please don’t worry about what happened last night. Have a good life, both of you.”
Jack told Gwen to drive. He was busy on the communicator to the rest of his team. First he contacted Martha who told him there may have been two other victims of the instant freeze. Two men had been found on successive nights, one apparently drowned in the lake at Roath Park, the other by the weir at Pontcanna bridge on the River Taff.
“Not more than a mile apart,” Gwen noted. “Both are notorious spots for people falling in and drowning though. The weir is lovely in summer, but treacherous this time of year with all the meltwater rushing downriver. As for the lake at Roath, that’s just too close to a couple of pubs. There’s always some idiot.”
Martha agreed with that assessment, but confirmed that neither body had significant levels of alcohol in them. The pathologists had, however, noted that the bodies seemed colder than they ought to be, even after several hours in the water.
“That clinches it for me,” Jack decided. “The Welur has struck twice before Ogden last night. She did a better job of hiding her victims before. Perhaps she doesn’t care as long as she feeds.”
“She’s got to be stopped,” Gwen said.
“Yes, she does. I’m hoping Ianto is going to tell me now that he and Alun found her sleeping it off in a basement near the alleyway and shot her to bits.”
“We’re not that lucky,” Gwen told him. And she was right.
But Ianto did have something to show them. He and Gwen met him and Alun in a wine bar called Jake’s of Westgate Street which had a fire door leading out into the alley where the Welur had killed James Ogden. The bar was shut. The owner-manager was sitting very quietly. They had let him have a drink. That is to say they had poured him a glass but it hadn’t been enough to get him over the shock. They had just given him the bottle. It was almost empty now and he hugged it as if it was precious to him.
“We told him we were fire inspectors,” Ianto explained. “We said we wanted to see his basement. He insisted that he just kept some old furniture there. He didn’t go down there very often. I’m prepared to believe that, because he was pretty shocked by what we found there.”
“What DID you find?” Jack asked.
Ianto didn’t say anything. He just waved towards the staff only door. Jack followed him out to the back of the establishment and down to the unused basement.
“Ah!” He looked dispassionately at the four pod-like things hanging from the low ceiling. They pulsated slightly and he could feel heat radiating from them. He raised his hand as if to touch one of them, then changed his mind.
“They’re eggs,” Ianto said. “Embryo… things…”
“She killed Ogden… then sought a dark, dry place… to give birth to these…”
“That’s what she’s killing men for… so that she can…”
“Not while I have breath in my body,” Jack murmured and pulled his revolver from his holster. Ianto was a few seconds behind him, but he took his cue from the Captain. Seconds later, all four of the embryos were dead. Ianto coughed and covered his face as a pungent smell emanated from the gory remnants. Jack seemed oblivious to it.
“We’re not done,” he said. “Martha told me there were two more bodies. Assuming she lays the eggs immediately after absorbing the heat from the Human victim, then there must be more of these things near where the bodies were found.”
“Unless she dumped the bodies after killing them elsewhere,” Ianto pointed out as he donned a face mask and gloves and began bagging up the remains.
“If that’s the case, then we have a big problem, because these things grow into more creatures that turn men into ice cubes. But we’re due one piece of luck today, surely?”
And they had it. Jack sent Ianto and Alun to Pontcanna. He and Gwen drove to Roath Park.
“It’s lovely here,” Gwen said as she walked beside Jack along the edge of the man-made lake that was a central feature of the Park. It was a cold but crisp afternoon with a clear blue sky reflected in the water, and there were people walking their dogs, children playing. “Horrible to think that our weird shit is going on in a place like this.”
Jack slipped his arm around her shoulder. It was a long time since he truly appreciated anything at face value. He was too used to seeing the dirt and corruption beneath it all. But he understood exactly how she felt. He and Garrett had brought Grey to this park many times. He wanted it to be an innocent place.
“It will be when we clean up what that thing left behind,” he promised.
“Her… offspring.” That made Gwen shiver, too. “You and Ianto killed the ones you found before. You’re going to do the same if you find them here?”
“I have to,” Jack told her. “They’re a threat to humanity. They’re too dangerous to live. You do understand, don’t you? I mean… you’re not going to get all pro-life on me? These aren’t babies in the cute, chubby pink sense. These are filth. They have to be destroyed.”
“Are you trying to convince me or yourself?” Gwen asked him. “Because I haven’t said a word against it. I hope you don’t think that because I’m a woman and I’ll probably give in one day and have babies, do the whole parenthood thing, that I’m going to sympathise with this horrible creature and her… brood. Kill them, Jack. Make this city clean for us all.”
Jack nodded. Then he looked around. He wondered if Ianto might be right about one thing. He didn’t see any place where the Welur could have gone after she had fed on her victim here. There were no basements within easy reach.
“What about…” Gwen pointed to the clock tower in the lake. “Nobody ever goes in there. Maybe she…”
Jack studied the 1915 monument to the lost Scott of the Antarctic. He remembered it being built. It seemed a strange extravagance at the time. But the public liked it. They still liked it decades later. But nobody went anywhere near it except for the occasional bit of clock maintenance and a biennial coat of all weather paint.
“Worth a try,” Jack decided. He reached for his phone. Gwen wasn’t sure who he called, but it seemed to be somebody influential in the city council. Anyway, it wasn’t more than half an hour before a rowing boat was provided along with a set of keys. A park ranger stood nervously at the rail beside Gwen watching as Jack reached the clock tower with a few quick, strong strokes and unlocked the maintenance door.
He closed the door behind him. There was silence and then four muffled gun shots. The park ranger’s face turned pale, but nobody else seemed to be worried. The people of Cardiff were strangely accustomed to not noticing strange noises. They carried on walking their dogs, jogging, cycling, playing and didn’t worry about what one man might be doing behind a closed door that was always closed anyway.
Presently the door opened again. Jack stepped out, locked the door and got into the boat. A few strokes brought him to the shore. Gwen was glad to have him back on dry land. The park ranger was glad to take charge of the rowing boat.
“Somebody will be back first thing tomorrow to do some ‘cleaning’,” Jack said. “Until then, nobody goes in there.”
“Nobody goes in there anyway,” Gwen pointed out as they walked away. “I take it you found…”
“Four more of those things,” Jack confirmed. “Four less life-sucking monsters prowling this city.”
His phone rang as they walked back to the SUV. It was Ianto confirming that he and Alun had destroyed a third batch of the egg sacs in a disused pump house near the Pontcanna weir.
“These were bigger,” he said. “I think they were the first ones. They would have hatched in another couple of days.”
“Good work,” Jack told him. “But the adult Welur was nowhere in sight at any of the locations. She’s still out there. When the sun goes down she’ll be looking for victims. And there’s only one way to stop her.” He sighed deeply. “You know, I really DID just fancy a quiet night in on the sofa watching TV tonight.”
“Liar,” Gwen told him. “You don’t do quiet nights in.”
“Yes, I do,” he responded. “When I don’t have to be the honey in a monster honeytrap.”
It wasn’t the first time he had set himself up that way. It was almost routine. He just had to cruise the hotspots of Cardiff and let himself be picked up by the lady.
The problem was, Cardiff had a lot of hotspots when the sun went down. There were nightclubs and pubs, restaurants, café-bars, cinemas and theatres up and down all of the main streets and dozens more small, intimate places on the side streets. The obvious place to start was the jazz club where Ogden had met his fate. But the Welur had so many other choices.
Jack wasn’t without resources, though. And in particular, resources that could spot the creature he was seeking.
“Do you realise how much money I’m losing tonight,” Davina Lohmeier said to him as she sat by his side at the bar of a small wine house two streets away from the After Dark Club. “Every vampire in town is drinking elsewhere.”
“The only people who can reliably spot a Welur are vampires. And the one place in town she’s not going to go is the Vampire night club,” Jack pointed out. “I’ll make it up to you. Any way you like.”
Davina smiled lasciviously.
“Any way apart from that,” he added. “I’m spoken for. Garrett is at home, waiting up for me. But I really am grateful for all the help from you and the vampire community of Cardiff.”
“Those filthy creatures… They’re as much of a danger to us as they are to humans. If there’s one here in this city, then we have a duty to help you find it… and destroy it.”
Jack nodded. Davina looked at him carefully.
“You ARE going to destroy it, aren’t you? Jack, don’t get any ideas about taking it alive. It exists to kill, to breed, to infest. Don’t be fooled by its outer appearance. It isn’t an attractive woman. It’s a monster. Kill it before it kills you… before it kills anyone else.”
Jack looked at Davina, an extremely attractive woman who also happened to be a vampire.
“Most people would think that description applies to you.”
“Then I’m lucky that you know better,” she replied. “But this creature…”
“I know what I have to do,” Jack assured her. “I just hope it isn’t too late. She might already have marked her victim. Maybe we’re stretched too thin and she’s slipped through our net.”
Then Davina’s mobile rang. Jack watched her anxiously.
“She’s in O’Neill’s on Trinity Street,” she told him. Jack took just long enough to hear her say that before his legs carried him across the bar in one bound. He rushed out of the door and ran along Castle Street, into the High Street, onto Church Street, cannoning off pedestrians and bouncing off the front bumper of a taxi before he reached the relatively quiet Trinity Street. He paused for breath in front of the blue and white façade of the franchise Irish bar before he stepped inside and breathed eau de Guinness and stale deodorant.
“Captain Harkness!” A frantic voice called his name and he felt a bloodless hand grasp his shoulder. Kaspar Dudeka would have been breathless if he had any breath. He was certainly agitated. “She just left by the side door… with Aleksy.”
“Aleksy… how did he…” Jack groaned. “Oh, no.” He shook his head and pushed through the crowds towards the side door. Kaspar followed him. He didn’t have time to argue with him. He could guess what was going on. The two of them were still feeling guilty about not acting last night, and Aleksy had let himself be picked up by the Welur to redeem himself.
Was he offering himself as a victim or just trying to stall her? Jack wasn’t sure he liked either idea. Civilian have-a-go-heroes usually just ended up dead when they got involved with his kind of weird shit.
“Aleksy!” He yelled the name as he stepped out into Trinity Gardens in time to see two people, one in figure hugging black moving between the trees. “Aleksy Dudeka… you stupid bastard.”
As he ran towards them he could see the Welur pressing him against a thick tree trunk, reaching to kiss him. He swung his arm and punched Aleksy square in the face, knocking him out cold. He slid slowly down the tree trunk and slumped to the ground.
“You bastard,” he said again. “I had my eye on her all night, then you moved in…” He grasped the Welur’s arm. “Forget him. He swings both ways, you know. That’s his BOYFRIEND over there. What you need is a REAL man.”
“A real man like you?” The Welur’s voice was like cream liquor poured over ice. If Jack was in the mood and he was stupid enough to fall for it, he might well have been seduced. He looked and sounded like he was as he let her steer him away from Aleksy. He glanced back once to see Kaspar bending over his lover as he came around from the knockout blow.
“Let’s go in there,” she said, pointing to the clock tower of St John’s Church. “It’s dry and warm and I can really enjoy you… not just a fumble in the dark.”
“I’ve never done it in a church before,” Jack said with a hint of a nervous giggle in his tone. “Isn’t that… you know… blasphemous.”
“Don’t you worry about it, sweetheart,” She put her hand over the lock in the old wooden door and it clicked loudly. Jack wondered how she did that. Some kind of kinetic power over metallic objects, perhaps. Anyway, the door swung open and they stepped into the gloomy, slightly dusty base of the tower. She closed the door behind her shutting out even the street lights outside. Jack couldn’t see a thing. But he could feel her pressing against him, kissing his neck and caressing his cheek with one hand while the other reached to unzip him. Her flesh was cooler than his and the touch on his genitals was startling, but he found himself responding to her caress. It wasn’t voluntary, though. He was doing his level best not to be aroused by her, but there must have been some kind of pheromones involved. His body was betraying his heart and head.
He understood why she used sex, now. Hot-blooded male wasn’t just a metaphor. Sexual arousal caused the body temperature to rise several degrees. And she was ready to drain that extra heat from him.
“Relax, sweetheart,” she said to him. “Kiss me…”
Her lips pressed against his. They felt as cool as the rest of her body and so was her tongue as it pushed against his teeth, trying to force his mouth open. He resisted, though every instinct told him to surrender to her seduction. He could feel himself giving in, inch by inch, even as his head overruled his instincts and forced his hands to close around her neck. It was a slender neck. His hands were big enough to encompass it. He squeezed, choking her, but he was doing it with only one part of his will. The rest was being overwhelmed by the Welur. He felt his body heat being sucked out into her body. He shivered with cold as she began to feel warmer.
Then his hands twisted quickly. He broke her neck and with it the spinal column. Her body went limp and slumped against him. He pushed it away and stumbled forward.
“Jack!” He heard a voice call his name, but it seemed to be coming from a long way off. He had only just managed to kill her before she killed him. She had taken too much from him already. His heart was failing.
The door burst open and he recognised Davina Lohmeier a few steps ahead of Gwen Cooper and Kaspar and Aleksy, holding onto each other’s hands the same way that Ianto and Alun did when they were worried. Davina reached him first, but then she stepped away and spoke to Gwen.
“He’s freezing,” she said. “I can’t help him. He needs body heat… You have to…”
Gwen was unfolding a thermal emergency blanket from its packet but Davina took it from her and told her to hold onto Jack. Gwen knelt and wrapped her arms around him. Davina put the blanket around them both.
“Can’t get warm,” he said. “Too late… She took too much out of me.”
“I know,” Gwen told him. “I know, Jack. But let me make your dying a little easier.”
She held him tightly, trying not to shiver as his cold transferred to her warm body. She heard him sigh softly as his heart stopped and his last breath died on his lips. She pressed him even closer to her, trying to retain some warmth in his still body as she waited. She saw two shadows block the dim light from the door momentarily. It was Alun and Ianto coming to deal with the body of the Welur. They did so quickly and quietly, glancing anxiously at Gwen from time to time. She said nothing, but they knew it was just a matter of waiting.
It took rather longer than usual, Gwen thought. Jack’s consciousness had to fight its way back into his body and drive out the unnatural cold. At last, she felt his heart beating and heard him gasp for breath. His body felt warm again. His eyes, when he opened them and focussed on her, glinted with his usual wicked humour. He grasped one of her hands and pressed it against his open fly. She snatched it away again straight away, and called him a couple of choice Welsh swearwords.
“That’s what I needed,” Jack told her as he reached to close the zip. “A hot-blooded Welsh woman to get my circulation going.”
“It’s not your circulation that worries me,” She replied as she helped Jack stand up on still shaky feet and wrapped the blanket around him carefully. “Save it for Garrett, later. Share your body heat with him.”
“I’ll do that,” he responded. He reached out and grasped Davina’s cool hand. “I owe you a couple of favours, now. I hope I won’t regret it when you call them in.” He looked past her to Aleksy and Kaspar. They were both looking at him with wide eyed wonder.
“You were dead,” Aleksy murmured. “At least I thought you were… I mean… you’re not a vampire. I know that. But are you actually Human?”
“Don’t worry about it,” he answered. “You did ok. You stopped her picking on some unsuspecting dupe. But stick to being a football hero in future. Let me deal with the monsters.”