Word count: ~ 2,000
Warnings: Off-screen death, on-screen dealing with the aftermath, tiny bit of gore-description.
Disclaimer: All recognizable characters are the property of their respective owners. I am in no way associated with the creators, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: Torchwood/HDM fusion. Part six of the Heaven and Earth 'verse. Things at Torchwood are progressing (and not just the case).
A/N: Do dæmons eat? I guess in my universe they do. (Yeah, like that's the main point of the story…) Anyway, the case part of this fic will continue in the next installment. Maybe. (This here is the part where I start jumping around in the timeline, i.e. why they're one-shots and not a chaptered story.)
The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strain’d (It Droppeth As the Gentle Rain From Heaven)
It’s pouring down rain, water flowing thick and fast in the gutters and pooling in the streets, turning traffic lanes into ankle-deep rivers. Mielikki is miserable, ears pinned flat to her skull and tail tucked tight to her body, and Ianto isn’t far behind. He turns his coat collar up, hunches down in the thick, weather-treated wool that is nevertheless vastly inappropriate for the conditions, and tries to think dry thoughts.
They've never very much liked rain, either of them.
Police lights give the scene an unearthly glow as Suzie and Veremoren—seemingly above the notice of such base, inconvenient things as rain—lean over the sprawled body, taking readings. Tosh hovers at Suzie’s elbow, bundled up tightly in a raincoat with Ranmaru tucked underneath it, and Owen is griping and snarling behind her, only a little less unhappy than Ianto and Mielikki. Bronwyn is huddled deep within his pocket, only the tips of her whiskers showing when she’s feeling particularly adventurous.
Ianto watches them all and feels the misery spread. He very, very much hates rain.
The corpse they're investigating, which has been decapitated and had all its limbs removed, doesn't do much to brighten the scene.
“Ianto!” Tosh calls, and he looks up to see her clomping towards him through the puddles. Her coat is hanging open, a flash of her gun visible, and he straightens. Something’s unnerved her.
“Yes?” he asks as she approaches. “You know what did this?”
She shakes her head, gripping Ranmaru a little more tightly to her side. “Something is interfering with the equipment, making it seem like he’s got human and alien DNA. We’ll take him back to the Hub and see what we can do there.”
Ianto turns to watch Suzie and Owen roll the partly dismembered corpse into a body bag, and frowns a little. “Are you sure it’s the equipment?” he asks slowly.
Tosh shoots him a startled glance, but before she can speak, Jack is striding up to them, trying to look stern and only managing rather damp, Amoria a bedraggled clump of feathers hunkered down on his shoulder.
“Got something?” he asks, raising a brow at Ianto.
With a faint shrug, Ianto crouches down to rub Mielikki's chin. “Maybe,” he murmurs, a little reluctantly—he’s still not entirely used to the idea that he can speak his mind and, unlike at One, people who matter will actually listen. “Occam’s razor applies even here. What if it’s not the instruments? What if the body really does have both kinds of DNA?”
Jack blows out a short, hard breath and rakes one hand through his soaked hair, which the rain has turned from dark sand to chocolate. “Then we have a much bigger problem on our hands than I thought.” He sounds grim. “Ianto, get the locals cleared away, but keep them happy, and make sure they'll call us if they find anything else like this. Tosh, check the CCTV cameras around this spot. I know none of them look at it directly, but I want to know who dumped him here.”
Tosh nods, heading for the SUV and her laptop. Ianto sighs and futilely tugs his collar up a bit more. He glares at the sky, full of heavy clouds that don't look to be lightening any time in the near future, and then drops his gaze back to Jack, who’s looking at him with amusement.
“Right,” he says in resignation. “I’ll meet you back at the Hub, and pick up lunch on my way. Any preferences?”
Jack shakes his head, dropping a hand on his shoulder and giving a brief squeeze. “No,” he says, and it sounds fond. “Will you be okay getting back? It’s a long wait for a bus.”
“Who said anything about a bus?” Ianto asks, vastly amused, though he does make some attempt to hide it. “Just because the entire police force hates you with a passion doesn't mean they hate all of us. Detective Swanson is a perfectly lovely woman, and I'm sure she’ll give me a lift if I ask nicely.”
The narrow-eyed glare he gets in return is well worth the tease. “Ianto,” Jack warns.
Ianto chuckles and leans forward to press a soft, watery kiss to Jack's cheek. This thing between them is fairly new, and they've yet to actually do anything about it—the closest they've come is sleeping in the same bed after the Canary Wharf cleanup, with Owen in a twin bed across from them (the hotel had been short on rooms). But Ianto is hardly going to find anyone else when he’s got Captain Jack Harkness in all his brilliant, eccentric glory in his line of sight.
“We've had coffee to discuss cases,” he assures Jack. “That's the extent of it, I promise.”
He doesn't mention that Kathy Swanson had once expressed an interest in more—dinner at the very least—and that Ianto had turned her down flat, unable to consider anything but hard muscles and big hands, bright blue eyes and a warm, crooked grin.
Jack's ego doesn't need any more inflating.
By the time he and Mielikki get back to the Hub, the rain still hasn't let up, but he’s loaded down with Chinese takeout that smells divine, and he’s got a promise from Detective Swanson to call immediately if anything similar comes up, or one of the body’s missing pieces is found.
Suzie comes to help him with the bags, Veremoren perched on her shoulder. She looks tired, which isn’t unusual—all of Torchwood is prone to insomnia, it seems, and Suzie has a habit of getting lost in her projects—but there are lines of tension around her eyes that shouldn't be there. Ianto watches her lay out the food in the conference room and makes a mental note to corner her as soon as possible. For being second in command and taking on the vast majority of the team’s troubles, Suzie always forgets that it goes both ways, and that she can share her own.
Drawn by the smell of food, the rest of the team trickles up the stairs, collapsing into their seats with clear relief. Ianto serves coffee before taking his seat, and for a short while the only sound is chewing.
Then, with a sigh, Jack pushes his empty takeout box away and sets his hands flat on the tabletop. “So. What do we have?” Amoria, on the back of his chair, resettles her wings and stares around the room with sharp orange eyes.
“It wasn't the scanners malfunctioning at the site,” Owen says, cradling his mug in both hands and scowling down into. “The bastard’s DNA is wonky, some mix of human and at least four different aliens that I can make out. I'm trying to sort through the rest of it, but it's like playing bloody pickup sticks in the dark.”
“There's no way to make an ID, either,” Tosh puts in. “No face, so no facial recognition, and no hands, so no fingerprint match.”
“I've started looking through the missing persons files for anyone who matches his statistics, but it’s hardly going to be exact that way.” Suzie’s eyes are narrowed, as though the imprecision is an affront to her personally.
Ianto looks up from his lemon chicken with a frown, Mielikki taking the opportunity to steal the piece he’d been eating from between his chopsticks. “Sounds deliberate,” he remarks after a moment. “Someone’s trying to keep us from finding out who he is.”
Jack's mouth turns down a little, expression grim and thoughtful. “It does, and it’s a bit too convenient for whoever—or whatever—dropped him there to write off as a coincidence. Owen, how soon will you be able to sort out the human DNA enough to run an ID search that way?”
Casting a lingering, longing glance at the clock, Owen sighs and drains his mug, pushing to his feet. “At this rate, starting right now, and if I don't hit any more snags? Six hours. Maybe sooner, with enough coffee. And I’ll have you know that's six hours I could be using to get pissed and shag some hot blond.”
Ianto rolls his eyes, batting Mielikki away from more of his food. “Of course, Owen,” he mutters, “because there's no way anyone would have turned you down when you look like you've been locked in an underground bunker for the past week.”
Owen glares at the reminder of their last case, when he and Suzie had been kidnapped damsel-style by the alien tech traffickers they’d been following, and shut up in an old bomb shelter together for seven days. Ianto considers it the major reason their affair seems to have fallen apart.
“Shut it, tea boy,” he snaps. “At least I wasn't spending all that time sucking the Captain’s—”
“Hey, enough,” Jack cuts in. “Owen, I want those results. Suzie, Tosh, keep looking and see if you can't find it faster. Ianto, anything else like this in the Archives?”
“I’ll look, sir.” Ianto slides his chicken over to Ranmaru, who seizes it happily, and he and Mielikki stand. “As far as I remember, there isn’t, but I’ll check London’s Mainframe as well. There might be something there I didn't have the clearance to see before.”
Surprisingly, Suzie falls into step beside him as they make their way out the door, Veremoren swooping ahead of them. Ianto glances at her, but keeps his peace until they reach the main floor. The raven dæmon settles on Suzie’s chair, ruffling his feathers.
Suzie looks at her dæmon, takes a short breath, and then says without embellishment, “My father’s dying.”
Ianto stops beside her, tilting his head to acknowledge her words. There's nothing he can really say, but he understands better than most what kind of position she’s in. There's the urge to go and see him, to play the dutiful child, but there's also the hatred, seething and thick, that whispers, “good, it’s what he deserves, the bastard will finally just die.”
After a long moment of silence, he murmurs, “I never went. When my father was dying, I mean.”
Suzie looks at him, dark eyes something close to desperate, her pretty face all sharp angles and high cheekbones and wild dark curls. “Do you regret it?” she asks.
That’s one question Ianto will never have to think about. He meets her gaze and answers flatly, “Not one bit.”
She smiles at that, just a bit, and it’s weak and trembling but still a smile. Ianto reaches out and gently catches her wrist in his hand. “I have some very good scotch and a fairly large movie collection, when this is all over,” he offers tentatively. “It doesn't solve anything, but—”
“A couple of drinks and movies with a friend?” Suzie cuts him off, and this time her smile is a bit stronger, even if her eyes are still sad and uncertain. “That sounds like it will solve everything.”
She doesn't say thank you. Ianto wouldn't want her to.