Characters: Kathy Swanson, Jack, Ianto, Owen. Team implied.
Spoilers: They Keep Killing Suzie.
Summary: Kathy Swanson dislikes Captain Harkness at first meeting, and things go downhill from there. But is he really what he seems?
Word Count: 1679
Written For: muccamukk’s prompt ‘Author's Choice, Author's Choice, The second time she met him, she liked him even less,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Kathy had always considered herself a good judge of character; it was one of the reasons she’d been able to progress so quickly up the ranks in what was still very much a man’s world. She could assess people quickly, figuring out what made them tick and how to get them to do what she wanted. Some people might call that manipulation, but she just thought of it as cutting through all the bullshit.
The first time she met Captain Jack Harkness, at the scene of a murder that had Torchwood’s name all over it, quite literally, written in the victims’ blood, she didn’t like him. He was arrogant, egotistical, and wildly inappropriate. She’d heard plenty of stories about him, but up until that moment she’d always figured people were exaggerating. They weren’t.
With his film star smile and impossibly white teeth, he was a devilishly good-looking bastard and he knew it, flirting shamelessly with her despite the seriousness of the situation. She ignored him as best she could, getting right to business, but as soon as he got the information he wanted from her, he had her and her people kicked out of the room.
She left, but not willingly. “Torchwood walks all over this city like you own it. Now these people are paying the price. Ordinary people, ripped apart, with your name written in their own blood. From where I'm standing, you did this, Captain Jack Harkness. You did it.” If only she could prove it and get Torchwood shut down for good. They were more trouble than they were worth.
Torchwood solved the crime and dealt with the killer, but she did get one sweet moment to savour when Harkness and his team managed to get themselves locked in their own base and had to ask for her help getting out. If it hadn’t been a life or death situation, she would happily have left the lot of them trapped there for the rest of the day, or maybe even the rest of the week. It would’ve done them a world of good to learn a little humility.
The second time she met him, she liked him even less. It was another murder scene, a young clubber lying in an alleyway with his throat ripped out and one arm torn clean off; whoever had done it must have been incredibly strong, probably high on drugs.
She’d barely arrived on the scene herself before Torchwood screeched to a halt in that big, black monstrosity they drove. Harkness didn’t so much as acknowledge her existence; he simply dismissed everyone abruptly, telling them to leave things to the experts. What did he think the Cardiff police department was, a bunch of amateurs? He just gatecrashed her crime scene, striding about in that ridiculous coat of his like he owned the whole world and would trample right over anyone who didn’t move out of his way fast enough. The arrogant git! Who did he think he was?
She’d been given no choice so she’d left, taking her partner, the soco unit, and the police constables who’d been first on the scene with her, but after quickly writing her report, brief because she’d only had a few minutes on scene, she went back. She was going to give Harkness a piece of her mind; he’d been riding roughshod over the police for far too long and she’d had enough.
She wasn’t prepared for what she found when she returned to that garbage-strewn alley though; nobody could have been. Harkness was there, lying on the ground not far from where the dead clubber had been less than an hour earlier. His eyes were open, staring sightlessly up at the night sky, and his chest seemed to have been torn open. Kneeling beside him, cradling Harkness’s head in his lap, was the young one in the suit. He had tears in his eyes, an oddly tender expression on his face, and a gun in his hand.
He glanced up when Kathy’s shadow fell over him. “You shouldn’t be here, D.I. Swanson; it isn’t safe for you.”
Strangely, she felt no fear of the young man with the gun, only compassion. His boss was dead and he’d clearly cared for the man a great deal, judging by the way he was stroking his hair.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Don’t be; he’ll be fine in a while.”
‘Denial,’ Kathy thought. The poor kid couldn’t accept that Harkness was dead. “Is there anything I can do?”
“Yes.” He smiled then, an almost apologetic smile. “You can stay very, very still if you want to live.”
There was a sound behind her like nothing she’d ever heard before, somewhere between a moan and a howl; eerie and unearthly, it froze the blood in her veins.
“It was bound to come back to its kill,” the young man continued in a quiet, almost conversational tone. “They always do. It’s a good thing we don’t get many of them. Weevils are bad enough, but Bozogs are just plain nasty. They’ll just keep ripping people apart until they’re stopped. Not fond of loud noises and bright lights though; that’s what drove it off before.”
Kathy wanted to turn, see what was behind her, but at the same time, she really didn’t want to know what a Bozog looked like, or how close it was. It howled again, closer still, and the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end.
The gunfire was deafening, from three different directions at once; the man on his knees in front of her and two more weapons somewhere behind. The Bozog’s howl turned to an ear-splitting screech then cut off abruptly, followed by a heavy thud. Before she could un-freeze her limbs enough to move, Harkness suddenly drew in a huge, gasping breath, arms flailing, hands clutching until one caught the young man’s arm, gripping tightly.
“It’s okay, Jack, I’m here.”
“It’s dead.” That voice came from behind her; the stroppy Londoner she’d met a few months back at her first run-in with Torchwood.
She couldn’t take her eyes off Harkness; he’d been dead, but now he was alive, slowly sitting up. His torn shirt gaped, revealing a sculpted and completely flawless chest, not the slightest hint of a scratch, and yet the shredded fabric was sodden with blood.
“Detective Swanson; nice to see you again.”
Harkness looked and sounded far less cocky than usual. “I’m sorry you had to see this; you weren’t supposed to come back.”
“You drive me off my crime scene and think I’ll just accept it?”
“Could you have handled that?” Harkness pointed past her and she turned to look at the body of a massive and shaggy quadruped with gaping jaws, razor sharp fangs, and claws like knives.
Her mouth went dry and it took her a moment to find her voice. When she managed to speak, she sounded faint and weak. “What is that?”
“Bozog. It’s an alien; came through the Rift. We get on average one a year, which is good. They’re fast, lethal, and have a hide so thick we have to use armour-piercing rounds on them. You don’t even carry a gun; what chance d’you think you or your people would’ve had against it? We needed you out of the way and out of danger fast; that’s usually the case when we crash one of your parties. So I’m rude, obnoxious, I get your backs up until you stalk off back to your cars, offended but alive.” Harkness sounded tired. “It’s our job to protect the people of Cardiff from things like that, things the police have neither the knowledge nor the equipment to handle. You have enough to do just dealing with human crime; leave us to do what we’re trained for. You have no idea what’s out there, and honestly? You’re probably better off that way. You can sleep easier.”
She stood there staring at them as Ianto helped Harkness to his feet. The captain rolled his shoulders and stretched his back, vertebrae popping; the sound made her wince. “You were dead.” She expected him to deny it.
“I was; now I’m not.” He walked up to stand in front of her. “You have a choice to make; remember all this and have nightmares, possibly for the rest of your life, knowing you can’t tell anyone because of the panic and civil disorder it would cause, or forget. One tiny pill and you can go home, go to sleep, and wake up in the morning as if none of this happened. Consider yourself privileged,” he added with a wry smile. “We don’t usually give people a choice; it’s a matter of our own safety and security to keep what we do secret. But you’re not most people. You could be an asset to us, and help to keep your people out of danger in the process. It’s up to you, but you need to decide now.”
She stood up straighter. “I’ll keep my memories, Captain.” She could live with nightmares far better than she could live with forgetting the valuable lesson she’d just learned.
“Good.” Harkness’s smile was more genuine than any she’d ever seen from him and there was respect in his eyes. “I didn’t think I’d misjudged you. Glad to know I was right.” He wiped his hand on his trouser leg to clean off the worst of the blood and offered it to her to shake.
She accepted it. He’d been right about her, but she couldn’t have been more wrong about him.
“Go home, Kathy Swanson, get some rest if you can. I’ll be in touch; we have a lot to discuss. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have rather a large alien to dispose off and a lot of cleaning up to do.”
“Most of which will fall to me,” Ianto said mildly.
With one last look at the dead alien, Kathy left the alley, returning to her parked car. Somehow she didn’t think she’d be getting much sleep tonight.