Shona Stewart stood up from her computer terminal and promptly fainted. At the next desk, Munroe MacDonald jumped up and was at her side before anyone else. Owen was quickly summoned to the scene and examined her carefully. But it was Darius, to nobody’s surprise, who lifted her into his arms and carried her to the medical room.
“What’s wrong with her?” he asked anxiously. “Is she ill?”
“Give me chance,” Owen responded. “I can’t just wave my hands over her and get an instant diagnosis.”
With the alien technology at his disposal, it was nearly as simple as that, though. She was starting to come around groggily as he passed the all-body scanner across her abdomen.
“Lie still,” he urged her. “This is a clever bit of kit. It does the job of an x-ray, ultrasound and full body MRI in a unit a quarter of the size of even one of those machines. But the picture still blurs if the patient moves too much.”
Darius hovered uncertainly. He looked as if he wanted to hold her hand, but she would never let him do that unless they were alone.
Owen looked at the scanned image and then looked at Darius. He bit his lip thoughtfully.
“Lieutenant, you can get up from there. Slowly. Come and sit at my desk while we have a little talk. Darius… can you please step outside. I need to talk to my patient in confidence.
Darius was on the point of protesting, but Shona gave an impatient sigh and told him to piss off. He did as she asked. He usually did.
“I need to ask you,” Owen slowly began as he sat opposite her and glanced at a small desk calendar sponsored by Wellcome. “In the last six weeks… give or take a week, either way… have you had sex with anyone other than Darius?”
“You need to ask me a question like that? What do you think’s wrong with me? I fainted, that’s all.”
“When was the last time you fainted, Lieutenant?”
“When I was twelve,” she answered. “But I still don’t… Good God! Are you saying I have some kind of STD? No, Darius has been my only sexual partner for months now. And I’m pretty sure I’m the first person he’s shagged in ages. I know he’s a… but…”
“He’s a vampire,” Owen finished the sentence. He wondered why Shona had trouble saying the word. She never had any trouble calling him ‘vampire’ or ‘blood sucker’ before they started up a sexual relationship. But since they became an item, it seemed as if saying the word out loud reminded her that she was having sex with somebody who wasn’t Human.
Which made what he was about to tell her all the more difficult.
“No, not an STD. Shona… you are about six weeks pregnant. In fact... I’d go so far as to say EXACTLY six weeks.”
“What!” Her eyes widened and her complexion paled. Owen wondered if she was going to faint again, but she rallied herself. “No, you must be mistaken…”
“I’m not,” he assured her. “Not with that equipment. The foetus is clearly visible. The size and development is consistent with that length of gestation. Which is why…”
“It’s still early enough for an abortion?”
She asked the question quickly. Owen paused before answering.
“Yes, if that is your choice,” he said. “You are well within the legal limit of twenty-four weeks. The procedure is relatively safe and straightforward. But you really should take more time to decide. And… Shona, I sent him out of the room because first and foremost this is about you. But if Darius is the father…”
“No, don’t tell him,” Shona answered. “Just… make what arrangements you have to make. Get it done today… get it over with. I don’t want… I can’t… no…”
“It would have to be in a hospital,” Owen said. “And it would take more than a day to arrange. By rights, you should have a second opinion about the medical necessity of the procedure. And I ought to refer you to a counsellor to discuss the emotional impact of an abortion. But…”
“Bollocks to that,” Shona swore. “You do it... here… Now.”
“I can’t,” Owen answered. “I’m not licensed to perform non-emergency surgical procedures on live patients here in the Hub. I understand that you are scared, Shona. But you must let me do this the right way. And I still think…”
“I don’t want to have a baby,” Shona insisted. “I definitely don’t want a fucking vampire baby. So get it out of me right now…”
That was the wrong thing to say at exactly the wrong time. Darius had obviously grown tired of waiting outside and chose that moment to step back into the medical room. Owen saw his already pale face blanch as her words sank in.
“Shona…” His voice was ragged and hoarse. He stepped towards her tentatively. “Is it true?” He reached out and touched her shoulder, then stepped back as if her touch shocked him. “Oh… Oh… it is true. You ARE carrying a little kudikis.”
“I didn’t want you to know,” Shona told him. She turned her face towards him as he stood by her chair. Her eyes were glassy as if she was fighting back tears. “I didn’t want to hurt you. But I can’t… I can’t keep it.”
“Because it’s mine?” Darius’s eyes narrowed angrily and Owen thought he saw a glint of red in them. “Because I’m….”
“I didn’t want a baby at all. Do either of you seriously think of me as a fucking brood mare? I’m not Toshiko. I don’t stop what I’m doing to open my blouse and pop out a nipple. I can’t stake out an alien safe house with a toddler strapped to my back. I don’t… I don’t want a baby. I never planned to have one, ever. And… I definitely don’t want… Yes, because you’re a vampire, Darius. This is… unnatural. And I can’t.”
“You fucking bitch!” Darius exclaimed. “I though you understood. I thought you…”
For a brief moment his face turned grey and his eyes really did flash red. Then he controlled himself, though it was obviously an effort. His anger seethed. He looked from Shona to Owen and back again.
“You bitch,” he said again. “I thought you loved me.”
“I do,” she admitted. “But we were just supposed to be about sex. I never expected... I didn’t even think it was possible.”
“Neither did I,” Darius admitted. “It is... rare... Owen... that’s... that’s another reason why you can’t... why she can’t... once in a hundred years... if that... a vampire Human relationship... conception... it’s a miracle... and... you can’t...”
“Take that look off your fucking face, Doctor Owen Harper,” Shona Stewart snapped. “I’m not going to have a baby just for an experiment... just so you can find out what happens when a Vampire and a Human mate. I’m not... not for either of you. I want an abortion. If you won’t arrange it, then I’ll go to another doctor. I have the right. Six weeks... there can’t be anything too obviously weird about it. Nobody else has to know what the father is.”
“I honestly wouldn’t know,” Owen told her. “I used an advanced scanner using alien technology not available to ordinary GPs. Any other doctor will send a urine sample to be tested. Who knows what kind of chemical differences there might be.”
“I’ll take that chance. Just so long as I can be rid of it.”
“No,” Owen said. “I’ll make the arrangements. I’ll take the responsibility. Darius... I understand how you feel. I really do. But legally and ethically, it is what Shona wants to do that matters. I have to go with her wishes. Please understand...”
“I... do understand, Doctor Harper,” Darius said. “I understand perfectly. But... forgiveness is another matter.”
He stood up and turned away. Owen watched him go. He sighed unhappily. This was the sort of situation, the emotional minefield of the medical profession, that he thought he had left behind when he joined Torchwood.
“I’ll make the arrangements,” he told Shona. “In the meantime, perhaps it would be better if you went home... a few day’s sick leave.”
“I’m not sick,” she responded.
“Call it compassionate leave,” Owen suggested. “Just... For fuck’s sake, Shona, get out of here. He’s absolutely gutted. Give him some space. If you care about him at all... do him that much of a favour.”
She nodded and stood up. She turned away slowly. Owen waited a few minutes and then walked back to the Hub. It was quiet. Toshiko was working in her corner. Genkei was asleep in his cot next to her. Munroe was at his workstation, Dougal at his. There was no sign of Darius or Shona. Owen glanced at the lifesigns monitor at Toshiko’s station and noted that the blip representing the non-lifesign that was Darius registered in his room on the lower floor. Shona’s car appeared on the external monitor leaving the secure parking.
“What’s wrong with them?” Toshiko asked. “Darius and Shona... I’ve never seen either of them so...”
“I can’t tell you,” Owen answered. “Doctor-patient confidentiality.”
“You mean she’s....” Toshiko’s eyes widened. “Oh...”
Owen wondered how what he had just said could possibly have given Toshiko a clue about Shona’s condition. Was it a female thing?
“Owen!” Munroe MacDonald called to him. He crossed the floor to his other work colleague who had just taken a telephone call. “Doctor Montgomery at the Maternity hospital called. He asked if you would come down there. He says there’s something that comes into your specialist field...”
“At the maternity hospital?” Owen reached for his car keys. “Call him back and say I’ll be there in twenty minutes,”
The Maternity Hospital! Owen sighed as he turned his car into the staff car park and found the pass that entitled him to leave the Ford Escape there. Why here? This was the place where his son was born on Christmas Eve. It was a place where good things happened. Not things that were in his ‘specialist field’.
And it seemed a strange twist of the knife on top of the conversation he just had with Shona and Darius. His mind was still on all the tangled consequences of that when he stepped into the hospital reception and was directed to the mortuary.
That hardly boded well, either. Of course, a maternity hospital had such a facility. Any kind of hospital did. But it was especially sad in a place that was meant to be about new life and new hope.
He was met there by Doctor Montgomery, a tall, slender man with deep set eyes and thick eyebrows who Owen remembered from Christmas. Disturbingly, the doctor didn’t remember him as a father of one of the babies he delivered. He had been recommended to him by the pathologist at Southern General Hospital as somebody with ‘specialist interests’.
He looked first at the body of a young woman. She was very slightly built, and Owen’s immediate thought was that she was too young to have been a patient in this hospital in the first place.
“She said she was nineteen,” Montgomery said. “If that isn’t true, we had no way of checking at the time. Trying to save her life was our first priority. And we failed at that. She died of uncontrolled haemorrhaging after an emergency caesarean. The child died, too. That’s what I wanted you to see, Doctor Harper. But I thought you ought to take a look at the mother, first. Then you will know that....”
“That she’s Human... an ordinary, innocent, Human girl. She looks a bit like my own daughter. And if she were, I’d want to get my hands on the thing responsible for her death...”
“Thing?” Owen queried his choice of words.
“Thing,” Montgomery insisted. He moved to a small cadaver drawer and opened it. Owen swallowed hard. He thought he’d seen just about everything in his time at Torchwood. But the little body that was revealed when the doctor pulled back the sheet capped it all. Well, just about. The giant demon Abbadon towering over Cardiff, killing everything in its shadow took some beating. So did the sex gas monster. And he still had bad dreams about what they had to do to the space whale that was being used as a living source of meat for the kebab houses and pie makers of South Wales.
But this was in his top ten, not only because it was horrific, but also because, at the same time, it was terribly, terribly sad and pathetic.
It was a baby. He would go so far as to say that. A newborn baby. The umbilical cord was still attached. But it was not a Human baby. Of course, he would need to do a full autopsy and a whole series of blood tests to fully establish that. But even the worst genetic defects didn’t result in a baby that was pale green with whitish scales all over its body, a vestigial tail and a jaw that resembled some kind of dog rather than anything homo-sapien. A bright green tongue protruded from between the lips and there was a greenish foam filling the mouth.
“It breathed... three times... then it choked and stopped breathing. I can confirm that much. I was holding it. I tried to give it oxygen. But it was obviously beyond help. Then we began to lose the mother. And... my attention after that was with her. But there was nothing more I could have done for... for the... child.”
Doctor Montgomery sighed helplessly. Owen was impressed by the level of compassion he had for the dead creature. He actually called it a child. Most people would have said ‘creature’ or ‘monster’.
“I’ll do the autopsy on it,” he said. “You take the mother. I will need to know if the unusual pregnancy was directly related to her death.”
Doctor Montgomery set to work on the necessary procedure. Owen did the same. They worked steadily. They worked with as much emotional detachment as it was possible to have in such circumstances.
And they reached some disturbing conclusions.
“This is an alien baby,” Owen announced, finally. “It’s DNA contains nothing Human. There is Human blood in its veins, because the mother has been nurturing it for however many months it took to gestate. But if it had lived, that would have been flushed out of its system within twenty-four hours by its own alien blood. Everything else... the internal organs, the shape of the brain, the composition of the skin cells, is alien. That poor woman was impregnated by an alien... and its young gestated within her body, used her strength. But there isn’t a molecule of her DNA within this child... she was merely the host... it was a parasite... using her.”
“And it killed her,” Doctor Montgomery confirmed. “Look at the placenta. It attached to the womb in such a way that, when it separated, the blood vessels continued to bleed out. That’s how she died. She was a vessel for the growth of the child... and when she was no longer needed....”
Doctor Montgomery was angry.
“There’s an alien out there, impregnating young women... who doesn’t care if they die in agony.”
“That’s only half the story,” Owen added. “The father of this child didn’t care if it lived or died, either. Or didn’t know.... its lungs... they’re so different from Human lungs, it couldn’t breathe ordinary air. That’s why it died. Because you had no way of knowing what it needed... whether it was pure oxygen, pure nitrogen, hydrogen, a bath of mercury, fuck knows. If you’d known... you could have saved it. But the father of the child is a fucking coward who left them both to die.”
That made Owen angry.
“Why?” Doctor Montgomery asked. “The primary objective of any species is to survive and to procreate. To create life... knowing the environment is inimical to it...”
“Bloody good question,” Owen responded. “When I get hold of the bugger, I’ll ask it. After I kick its reproductive organs so hard it won’t be able to impregnate anyone else.”
“Do you think he will?” Montgomery asked. “That’s not a happy prospect. More dead women... more babies that don’t even get a chance to live... even if they could live on this planet... looking like that.”
“That’s another thing,” Owen pointed out. “Unless that young woman was extremely unfussy about the men in her life, the adults must look more like Humans. We’re dealing with something capable of cloaking its real appearance.”
“That really happens?” Doctor Montgomery asked. “It sounds like the stuff of science fiction.”
“I wish,” Owen replied. “Look... I’m going to take this little body back to my facility. There may be further research I can do. It’s for the best, anyway. If that poor woman had any relatives... they won’t want to see that.”
“I’ll make the arrangements,” Doctor Montgomery promised. “Modern medicine, specialist equipment, we can save babies so premature that they can be legally aborted. The mortality rate for mothers is so small it’s negligible. We’ve taken as much of the fear out of childbirth as we can. But this... I felt as if we were back in the Victorian age with a bottle of ether and a bucket of carbolic soap. I never want to feel that powerless to preserve a life – any life - again.”
The arrangements were made quickly and discreetly. Owen placed the small disposable cardboard coffin wrapped in a black plastic body bag on the back seat of the Ford Escape. The boot seemed too insensitive. He drove back to the Hub and allocated a cryogenic container for the sad remains. Then he asked Munroe to find out what he could about the woman who had given birth to the anomalous child.
There wasn’t much else he could do for now. The helplessness of the situation depressed him. And back in the Hub he was all too starkly reminded of the other problem that he still had to resolve. Darius was in the deep archive. The monitor showed him moving around. He was working. That was preferable to brooding in his room. Perhaps he would come to terms with Shona’s decision in time. Though whether they would be the same two people afterwards was another matter.
Toshiko wasn’t there. It was Wednesday. On Wednesdays, she always picked Etsuko up from the nursery and spent the afternoon with her. In bad weather they went to Jungle Jim’s and Macdonalds. In good weather it was the park.
Owen drove to the park. He found Toshiko sitting on a bench with Genkei’s pram by her side. Etsuko was sitting on a painted wooden duck that bounced on a spring and made her laugh. Toshiko smiled as he sat next to her and enjoyed a brief kiss on the lips.
“How did we get to be parents of two kids?” Owen asked. “It doesn’t seem like yesterday we were a pair of science geeks who practically lived in Torchwood. We certainly lived FOR Torchwood.”
“I don’t know,” Toshiko answered. “Do you have any regrets?”
“None. Before Torchwood... this was exactly what I expected from my life. Katie... we were going to get married, get a mortgage, have a couple of kids... be happy and ordinary. Now I’ve got that. I’ve got the ordinary... the things every man wants... and I still have Torchwood. I’ve got the seat of my pants excitement, the mysteries to solve, the aliens to chase... best of both worlds.”
They sat quietly watching their little girl play for a while before Owen spoke again.
“I forget most of the time that she’s not mine... biologically.”
“You were there from the start. You looked after me right through the pregnancy... not just as my doctor... but more. You were there when she was born... and ever since. You’re her dad in all the ways that matter.”
“Yeah.” Again a pause. “Tosh... when you found out you were pregnant.. when you knew that it was an alien... you were scared, weren’t you?”
“Terrified,” she answered. “Until you showed me... on the scanner... that she was Human, with my DNA and everything. Then... I was just scared of the ordinary things, like being a single mum, not being ready to be a mum... the changes in my life...”
“But you never thought of an abortion...”
“Never. I suppose... if she had been an alien... you know, scales, two heads, a forked tongue... something creepy... I suppose... It would have been a hard decision. But I suppose I would have had to. When she was born, she was like a precious gift. As for Genkei, doing it the normal way, the two of us, having a baby together...” She smiled widely. She didn’t say anything else about it. She didn’t have to. Owen knew exactly how she had felt, because he was one hundred percent with her.
“You’re thinking of Shona and Darius, aren’t you?” Toshiko added, her smile fading. She looked at Etsuko playing, her healthy, happy little girl. “I talked to Darius. He was very snappy at first, then he cried. I didn’t even know he could. And he told me everything. She’s going to have an abortion?”
“Tomorrow morning. I arranged the appointment.” Toshiko didn’t say anything, but he knew what she was thinking, anyway. “I’d rather she was safe in the hands of a competent surgeon than doing something desperate to herself,” he added. “That’s why I did it. I want her looked after. I hope Darius will forgive me in time. I hope he’ll forgive her. But I’m not sure he ever will. I think this has screwed them both good and proper.”
“She’s seconded to us, from U.N.I.T. If she can’t stand being with him... being around all of us... she could go back to the Army.”
“I suppose so.” Owen shrugged and reached into the pram. Genkei was nearly six months old, now. He was a big, strong baby. He had Toshiko’s deep almond brown oriental eyes, but his other features were Caucasian. He really was a beautiful combination of the two of them. Owen hugged his son and quietly told Toshiko about the child he had examined this morning. She gasped in horror.
“What I said about Etsuko... when I didn’t know if she was Human or not... This poor woman must have known... but she went full term... carrying an alien child... one that didn’t even look...”
“There but for the Grace of God...” Owen managed to say.
“Is it the same... could somebody have experimented on her the way I was... and the other women...”
“Not the same. Your DNA was used to create a carbon copy of you. When Etsuko grows up everyone is going to say she’s the image of you. She can’t be anything else. She never had any other biological parent but you. This was the opposite. The child had nothing of the mother in it. It’s not the same technology. But I’m betting it’s some bastard with the same sort of idea... using Human women as unwitting surrogates. And when I get my hands on him, I’ll wring his fucking alien neck.”
Owen looked so fierce when he said that, Toshiko’s instinct was to take Genkei away from him, but he hugged the baby even closer and kissed his cheek.
“I’ve got no leads, no way to trace the alien bastard. So... for now... I’m going to sit here with my children, my precious family... in the park in the sunshine... and count my blessings.”
He did just that. He had a strange, guilty feeling about doing so, as if he was playing truant from school, evading his responsibilities as director of Torchwood Glasgow. But he felt he needed this time, this brief snatch of normality, before it sucked him back in again.
That happened just before three o’clock. They were strolling back through the park. They had stopped at an ice cream vendor and looked so much like a family with nothing to think about except what to have for tea when Owen’s mobile rang. He resisted the urge to snap irritably when he answered the call.
“The woman in the mortuary... I’ve got an address for her. It took a while. She’s not a British citizen, so she had no National Insurance number, no employment record, medical history. Turns out she’s a registered asylum seeker, living in a hostel in Kelvinside.”
“Does she have family there?” Owen asked. “Do they know what happened to her?”
“I don’t know,” Munroe admitted. “Probably not. The hospital didn’t have this information.”
“Give me the address. I’m going to see them,” Owen decided. Munroe did so. He turned to Toshiko and kissed her fondly. He hugged Etsuko and told her he would be home before her bedtime. He hoped he could live up to that promise. Torchwood wasn’t a nine to five job. It wasn’t always easy on family life.
The ‘hostel’ was a once genteel Georgian house with five floors, including an attic with windows set into it and a basement with a separate entrance down a flight of steps. There was a double row of doorbells for the individual living spaces within the building, but none of them had names in the slots beside them. People didn’t live there long enough to bother with such details.
Then Owen heard a scream from the open window on the first floor. A long, visceral scream of a woman in acute agony. It was followed by a distressed male voice demanding that somebody else get help, and another female voice that indicated there was nobody who could help.
“Wrong,” Owen thought. “I’m here.” He took a step back and then kicked the door. It gave partly, but it wasn’t a classic Starskey and Hutch entrance into the building. He had to take a second kick at it before it broke open. In the room above the woman screamed again. He charged in and raced up the stairs. He got ready to kick another door in, but it opened just as he reached the landing. He looked at the woman who had opened it long enough to note that she was very slightly built and about nineteen if she wasn’t lying about her age, and heavily pregnant.
The woman lying on a bed in the agonies of childbirth might also have been about nineteen. Owen pushed a man away from her and did a preliminary examination.
“Ok, she’s nowhere near fully dilated, yet,” he confirmed. “There’s a while to go. But she shouldn’t be in this much pain. Not from a normal labour.”
He looked at the patient’s face, then the woman who had opened the door. Then he looked at the man and his expression darkened.
“What the fuck is going on around here?” he demanded. “Three pregnant women with the exact same face...”
“Three?” The woman who wasn’t yet in labour stepped forward nervously. “Saran... my sister... she has been missing since yesterday. We have been worried... so close to birth...”
She had an unusual accent, as if English wasn’t her first language. But her grammar was better than he would have expected from an asylum seeker.
“She’s dead,” Owen replied. “So is her ‘child’. Is this woman your sister, too?”
“That’s Gian. I’m Mellis,” the woman explained. The man said something to her in a foreign language that had the tone of a warning not to say anything else. But the woman replied impatiently before addressing Owen again. “Please help her. Don’t let her die, too.”
“I’ll do what I can,” Owen answered. “But I want the truth. Especially from YOU.” He turned to the man. He was a couple of inches taller than him, and more broadly built. But Owen still managed to spin him around and press him against the wall with his hands twisted painfully behind his back. “Are you the fucking alien in disguise who knocked up these three women? What sort of sick experiment have you got going?”
“Sir...” the woman called Mellis stepped closer. “Sir... it is not his fault. We didn’t know that procreation would be so difficult for us. We didn’t expect the reversal of the process...”
“What process?” Owen demanded. “What is everyone talking about?”
The woman on the bed groaned loudly and then screamed again. Owen let go of the man and went back to her side. There was little he could do. He had no equipment, no drugs. All he could give her was reassurance. But she looked up at him and smiled weakly.
“You are a good man,” she said.
“People don’t usually say that about me,” he replied. “At least not once they get to know me.”
“Can you help her?” Mellis asked. “Please... whoever you are... wherever you come from... don’t let her die, too.”
“I’m going to do everything I can,” Owen answered. “But I want to know the truth, right now. Did you know that he isn’t Human when you...”
“Yes,” Mellis answered. “None of us are Human. We are refugees from a world where we cannot live freely. We went through a process... it changed our bodies... the whole genetic code... we became like you... the people of this world.”
“Asylum seekers!” Owen shook his head. “As if we didn’t have enough problems with the ones from Eastern Europe. Now you’re coming across the galaxy. So... come on. Let’s have the rest of it.”
“The process uses a standard pattern. That is why we are alike. We thought it was complete. We came to this place to start a new life. The man from the government gave Levis permission to work, and we thought we would be happy here. We could live as a family...”
“One man, three wives? That’s how it works where you come from?”
“It is usual,” Mellis answered. “But if Saran is dead...”
That news distressed them all, including the man. Owen was still suspicious, but he was inclined to be sympathetic for the moment.
“Ok... you settled down on planet Earth... and decided to raise a family. Which means all three of you getting pregnant... But...”
“That’s the problem,” the man, Levis, said. “The process... didn’t take into account procreation. The offspring... are...”
“What you used to be before you scrambled your molecules!” Owen sighed. “What did you people breathe on the planet you came from?”
“Oxy-hydro,” Levis answered. “Our air was one part oxygen, one part hydrogen.”
“That’s why the other poor little bugger died,” Owen confirmed. “It can’t breathe our air.”
“Then Gian’s child will die,” Mellis said. “And... mine...”
“Not if I have anything to do with it,” Owen responded. “But there’s fuck all I can do here. Torchwood maternity facility is going to have to open for business in Glasgow.”
He reached to lift the woman from the bed, but her husband intervened. Owen let him. It left him free to call Doctor Montgomery and tell him to make some more unusual arrangements in his delivery suite and Munroe with a requisition from the alien artefact store.
The journey through the Glasgow evening rush hour in the back of the Ford Escape wasn’t an easy one for the patient. Her husband and co-wife were doing their best to help her, but she was still in agony and Owen was glad of the nifty alien device that turned red lights green ahead of him. They reached the Maternity hospital faster than they might have hoped, otherwise. Munroe was waiting with the equipment Owen had asked for, and Doctor Montgomery confirmed that everything was ready in the delivery suite.
After that, it was a matter of letting nature take its course for a couple of hours. Gian’s labour was just like any other in that respect. Owen and Doctor Montgomery regularly checked her blood pressure and heart rate. They checked the baby’s heart rate and confirmed that the head was presenting. They didn’t worry too much about what the head looked like for the time being.
“Get the father in here, now,” Doctor Montgomery said at last. “It’ll be very soon and alien or whatever he is, he might as well be here.”
Levis was ushered in from the corridor outside where he had been pacing nervously. He clutched Gian’s hand tightly as the last phase of her labour began. He watched as his child was born in the usual way of mammalian life all over the known galaxy. But neither he nor Gian were able to hold their baby boy. As soon as Doctor Montgomery cut the umbilical cord the newborn was placed in an incubator where it was able to breathe one part oxygen and one part hydrogen.
Owen, meanwhile, was looking after Gian. That was why he needed the alien object that had been named as a singularity scalpel back when he worked at the Cardiff Hub. His early experiments were too dangerous to let near any living being, not even lab rats. It was just too distressing when they exploded. But he had got better at it, and now he had no qualms about focussing it on Gian’s womb, removing the placenta quickly and cleanly and sealing all of the blood vessels instantly. Her vital signs stabilised and she relaxed after her ordeal, gazing happily at the incubator that was placed next to her.
Neither Owen nor Doctor Montgomery had any time to relax, though. The door opened and a nurse brought Mellis into the delivery room. One look at her face told them all they needed to know.
Ok, here we go again,” Owen said. “Get her comfortable while I phone home and tell my kid I won’t be home for her bedtime, after all.”
It was closer to midnight when he slid the key in his front door. He was exhausted, but satisfied. He kissed Toshiko and accepted the cup of coffee she had kept hot for him. He sat on the sofa and told her everything.
“What will happen to them, though?” she asked. “I mean... they look alien... they can’t breathe our air...”
“Levis says that they can go through the ‘process’ when they’re six months old. They’ll look perfectly Human after that, live normal Human lives. Tomorrow, I’m going to see what strings I can pull to get their citizenship expedited. Then they can get out of that hostel and into somewhere more private. It’s a funny sort of family. But it could be worse.”
“It’s not our usual Torchwood remit,” Toshiko pointed out. “Helping aliens settle on Earth.”
“Time our remit was widened, then,” Owen replied gruffly.
The next morning, he had just finished a satisfactory telephone conversation with the Home Office, ensuring that Levis and his family would be confirmed as British citizens, when Shona Stewart walked into the Hub. All eyes turned on her except those that mattered most. She ignored everyone else, and walked up to where Darius was sitting at his workstation. She reached out and touched his shoulder. He shrugged her away without looking at her.
“I... didn’t do it,” she told him.
He looked up at her. Owen moved closer. There were questions he had to ask. But he held off while Darius took in her news.
“You...” he reached out to touch her, then his pale, drawn face almost lit with joy. “You’re still... the kudikis...”
“It’s your bloody fault. There’s some sort of Vampire thing going on, messing with my head... hormones going crazy... I was sitting there, at home, waiting for a taxi to take me to the hospital... and... I felt... Look… don’t anyone get any ideas about me. I’m still not a brood mare... I don’t want a baby. When it’s born, you can figure something out. But I couldn’t do it. I felt an overwhelming urge to protect it from harm. I cancelled the appointment. So I’m stuck with it. I’m having a baby... a fucking vampire baby. But if I get any cravings for raw meat…. And if you think I’m going to breast feed it...”
Darius didn’t say anything. He stood up and embraced her. She tried to pull away. Displaying her affection for him in front of the other Torchwood staff was not part of their arrangement. But Darius pulled her closer and kissed her, despite her resistance. Owen backed off. The questions he had could wait a while longer.
“It’s got fuck all to do with her having a vampire baby,” Toshiko said to him. “It’s about her being a real woman, after all.”