Title: I’ll Meet You on the Other Side (13/14)

Characters: alt!Doctor, alt!Martha, Jackie Tyler, OC, Jack Harkness & other DW/Torchwood folk

Word Count: 8098

Rating: R

Spoilers: S4 through Journey’s End

A/N: Sorry for the delay in posting; the final chapter is not far behind. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] persiflage_1 and [livejournal.com profile] radiantbaby for their beta help.

Disclaimer: I don’t own the Whoniverse.

Index Post

Rules of the Game

John found himself in Pete’s office, a tray with tea and biscuits waiting for him. He poured a cup and drank it while he got his bearings. Time travel without a capsule was never really a good way to go, and this was his second trip in less than three hours. He was exhausted.

“Hello John.” Pete Tyler extended a hand to him, which John grasped before rising to embrace the man in a warm hug. It had been too long.

“Thank you for helping. I know you had to, in a way, but all the same—“

“Part of the job when you’re watching over the world.” Pete sat on the couch and poured himself a cup of tea. “Thank you for coming to help us out with this one. I know you prefer to keep out of events, especially governmental ones.”

“So UNIT’s in pretty deep here?”

“Not in the way you’d think, although there’s a good bit of rotten to root out there. The Colonel’s returned to his base with Ross; they’re due to check in with us in an hour, when we hope to have more information to share with them as well.”

“Never known you all to play nice with each other.” John raised a brow as he dunked a biscuit in the tea. “What brings this about?”

“Your Dr. Jones, that’s what. Well, her and that reporter,” Pete smirked, remembering the very twitchy two hours he and Mace had spent with her in the café. “She’s keeping us on our toes.”

“She here?”

Pete shook his head. “At UNIT; we agreed it was better to let her in on things as they develop in a way we can control, rather than have her out there on her own. She’ll be back here later, I assume, although our private status makes her claim to information about Torchwood a bit more difficult to support.”

“What about Mar—Dr. Jones?” John corrected himself. “Why is everyone so concerned about her? I thought the chip was the thing.”

“Well, we’ve found all of the study participants. Several of them were hidden away in a sanatorium—that Prince is a real piece of work, let me tell you—but the remainder are in our infirmary, where they’re getting top treatment. Ianto’s in charge.”

John was glad to hear it; he knew how much faith Pete had in Ianto, and tasking him with the subjects’ welfare was a sign of how important it was that they recover safely. He knew that Pete had hoped that he would be the man to fill Ianto’s role, and John was glad that someone who actually could do the job well had it. “Were there any other soldiers affected?”

“We found one regiment who’d been fitted like the ones in the café yesterday.” Pete noticed John cringe, but said nothing. He knew he’d work it out in his own way. “UNIT’s taking care of them at their facility as well. Your Dr. Jones, on the other hand—“

Pete’s voice trailed off, and John wondered what was on his mind, and why he kept referring to her as “his” Dr. Jones. “Yes? What about her?”

“What do you know about her research?” Pete inquired, and John felt as though he were being scrutinized.

“Not much, really,” John replied. “I know that she’s found a natural route to unlocking human telepathic abilities, but we haven’t really discussed the how yet.” Haven’t had time, he thought, what with all the talk about “me” going on.

“Do you know why she did it?” Pete asked.

John nodded as he focused on the cup in his hand.

“We’ve been watching her—well, Ianto has—for a while now. We were too spread out dealing with the factories around the world, then the global warming, then the stars—“ John could see Pete softening a bit as he considered the various crisis situations he’d faced over the years. The weight of his role in the world was clearly pressing on him, and he was amazed that this man, with the daft dreams and the health drink fortune had become savior to so many. “—we should have got to her first.” Pete leaned forward, his hands clasped before him as his arms rested on his knees.

“I think she’s alright, Pete.” John didn’t understand Pete’s concern, although he knew its source. When he’d lived in the mansion, they’d talked a few times about the aftermath, about Jackie’s death and how he’d coped before the other Jackie and Rose came into his life. He hadn’t really thought about the connection Pete might feel to Martha, but he could understand that Pete might look at her as a fellow survivor. “She’s been doing her bit to undo the damage. She’s amazing.”

Pete looked up at his friend, a small smile curling the side of his lip. “Yes, I’d say your Dr. Jones is quite amazing. That’s why I wish we’d got to her before UNIT; we could have given her the support she needed without the military interference. She would have been protected from Prince.”

“You don’t know that Pete. Besides,” John was starting to see where things were going, “her being here wouldn’t have stopped Prince from doing what he did.”

“No, but it would have kept her work from being tangled up in his crimes.” Pete walked over to the bar and poured a drink. He held out the glass to John, who shook his head, opting instead for a fresh cup of tea. Pete returned to the couch. “We need to find out how her research works, get her in here. But first, we’ve got to figure out who Prince is working for.”

John’s eyes flashed over to Pete’s. “There’s someone else.”

“Yes. Someone hidden, although we’re closing in fast.” He tossed a packet of documents over to John, who kept looking at him curiously as he rifled through the papers.

“Water companies? These are scattered across the country.”

“We’ve been combing through UNIT’s communication records—email, phone calls, fax and modem transmissions—and these small companies keep turning up.” Pete took a sip of his drink. “We don’t get it either, but the money doesn’t lie; you’ll find the financial trail there too. Took Tosh about an hour once we knew what we were looking for. Prince has been getting payouts from these PLCs for the last three years. Now we’re trying to figure out who’s holding them all together,” he added, finishing the scotch.

“But why would they pay off Prince? What would he have to do with utility contracts?”

“I don’t know. I suppose he could have been giving them some scientific advice about safety levels and such, but even that link strains believability.” Pete set the glass on the coffee table as he collapsed back into the chair with a heavy sigh. “Regardless, we know that Prince isn’t the mastermind here; there’s another person linking it all together.”

John flipped through the sheets Pete had given him again. “Water companies, water companies,” he muttered, “control the water supply. But why—“ he stopped, then started rifling through the papers quickly. “There aren’t any London companies listed here. Isn’t that odd?”

Pete nodded. “We noticed that; Tosh is trying to get access to the records of the larger London-based firms to see if we can isolate any connections to Prince in those.”

Jack stuck his head in the room. “We’ve got something,” he said to Pete, and then, noticing John, he teased, “Oh, you finally made it.”

John glared at him. The sight of Jack, after Pete’s reminder of the horrors Martha had faced, brought back his anger from her memories.

“Don’t,” he said.

Jack could see that this wasn’t a time for joking, and his tone grew serious. “Toshiko is incredible,” he told Pete, who smiled and nodded. “Good that you stole her from UNIT.” He raised his hand at the two men who were still seated. “Well? C’mon.”

They followed him down the hall. John halted as they passed the door he knew led to Rose’s office. “Where is she now?” he asked Pete quietly.

“California, I think, although she could be anywhere in the southwestern U.S.”

“She OK?”

“She’s good. When this is all sorted, I’m sure Jackie will be glad to tell you what’s going on with her.”

John nodded. Pete put a hand on his shoulder. “She’s happy.”

“I’m glad.”

They’d reached the data lab, where they found Tosh scanning through video footage, the program rapidly searching for facial matches. John squinted at the screen. There was something about the face she was matching, although it was grainy, that seemed familiar to him.

“Time for you to get those eyes checked,” Jack remarked, and John scowled at him.

“Here. Let me show you the simulation.” Tosh selected several companies whose names John remembered from the list, then typed in a few commands. Instantly they could all see the names move and transform as a web of connections, of lines and squares and circles representing other companies, corporations, conglomerates spread out in a rapidly expanding pattern. When the image stopped growing, it was clear that there was one point of origin in this corporate family tree.

“Luscious Liquids?” Pete asked, and John noted a hint of jealousy in his voice. Luscious was a new company on the scene, and had become Vitex’s largest business rival, a reality that had been causing Pete increasing consternation over the years.

Tosh nodded her head. “I’ve checked a number of the companies, and all roads lead to them.” She typed in a few more commands, and the image on the screen was replaced with a corporate fact sheet. “Luscious Liquids, a privately held company, mainly focused in the UK with aspirations toward the European markets. Owned solely by Lucius “Luc” Johnston, one of the most reclusive men in the world.” She peered over the top of her glasses at Pete and John before flashing them a saucy smile. “Want to get a look at him?”

Pete looked puzzled. “No one’s seen him save a few grainy photographs shot from long distances. Of course,” he grinned as he watched her fingers fly over the keyboard, “if anyone could find it—“His voice trailed off as the image Tosh had retrieved resolved.

Pete and John looked at each other, mouths wide open in surprise at the face on the screen before them. Jack was puzzled by their response.

“I take it he’s familiar to you,” Jack said, taking a sip of his coffee.

“I’ll say,” Pete replied, and Jack could almost hear a tremor in his voice, a signal of some unknown terror.

Jack looked at John, whose skin was pale in the light of the screen. “So who is he? And why do I get the feeling a director’s about to say ‘fade to black?’”

Had John been less moved by the face on the screen, he’d have laughed at the statement, but he knew that Jack would be a bit less flippant as soon as he’d heard the name. “That—“ he pointed to the screen “—is John Lumic.”

It had begun years before, when the Cybermen were pressing themselves into existence in the Doctor’s universe. John Lumic had been working for Torchwood then, a researcher toiling away in a small, locked laboratory, cataloguing tissue samples as he tried to find the key to accessing human brainwaves. He was the one who’d determined the need for psychic training, and it was he who had given it, hoping that his efforts in this quarter would have garnered him some respect and a promotion. He was thanked, given a new lab assistant, and then largely forgotten, his protocols for training new operatives even being given to those with “better people skills.” Always hidden away, always being kept hidden.

When the first wave of Cybermen came, he was terrified. He found them in his laboratory, where they’d entered his dimension. At first he thought they’d kill him, but relaxed as they regarded him with what appeared to be (as far as he could tell from the cyber suits) curious interest. When they explained their origins, and told him of their creator, another John Lumic in another world who’d been incapacitated in a different way, he was willing to listen to more, and then, when the ghost shifts had started in earnest, he’d helped them to hide themselves by faking a restoration project. He was to be their leader once they’d established themselves on this new planet, and he waited and watched until everything had gone horribly wrong.

There were a few of them left, the ones who hadn’t crossed the void, who weren’t sucked into that hell. They rallied round him, sharing the knowledge of him as their leader. He kept them hidden, they told him of Lumic’s past, and as time went on he grew more and more desperate to go to that world, to see what pieces he could pick up to start anew. After that fateful day, he’d found the small yellow disc in the debris, and in the coming years would turn it over again and again, trying to sort out exactly how it had worked and what he could do to get it working again. Then the earth moved, the stars were going out, and on a whim he pressed the button. He found himself in a brave new world, and he set about re-making his double’s old connections.

When he found Prince, he was able to really establish himself; the Colonel’s status and connections quickly put him in touch with others who could help him to quietly reclaim certain of Lumic’s assets and begin to access the stores of Lumic’s hidden wealth. He found he had a head for business, which, coupled with his desire to learn and create the new, led him to build a very broad and successful food and beverage conglomerate in a very short time. He steered clear of his double’s more prominent former business ventures—no holdings in communications companies at all—and focused himself on the nation’s food and drink supply, which he saw as a much better way of insinuating himself into every household in the land. His counterpart, riddled with disease and terrified of the finality of death, had become obsessed with his desire to prolong life. This John Lumic, reborn Luc Johnston, a recluse, was healthy and only obsessed with taking the power that had been denied him in his former world. He’d worked and built and watched and waited. When Prince informed him that Martha Jones had been successful, he knew that his time had come.

Pete was on the phone with Mace, who’d called Torchwood as soon as he was informed of Johnston’s identity. John was poring through financial records, blueprints for buildings, and bills of lading for various shipments; he was trying to find anything that might hint at what Lumic was planning. Jack was at a nearby terminal studying Lumic’s security detail; he needed to sort out the best plan for infiltrating the heavily-guarded compound to extract the man with the least amount of fanfare and loss of life.

“Needles in haystacks,” Jack sighed.

“Yeah,” John said softly, “too many haystacks.” He pushed his chair back from the table and rubbed his tired eyes. “I wonder how Martha’s getting on.”

“How do you think she’s going to take it? About Lumic, I mean.”

“I don’t know,” John sighed, his hand pulling at his cheeks. “I can’t imagine she’ll be entirely unaffected, but she seems to handle surprises well.” Although I have given her an awful lot to deal with, he thought, remembering how quiet she was as he finished his tale earlier. He wondered how she was doing now.

“I think we’re going to have to bring her in soon,” Jack responded. He stood and stretched a bit, his back and limbs uncomfortable from being hunched over the screen. This wasn’t his usual workspace.

“What do you know about her research?” John’s question was a bit tentative.

“Loads,” Jack replied, “but there’s not much I can tell you. Her story to share.”

“Glad to see you’ve learned to respect her boundaries,” John muttered.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Jack’s voice was sharp and edged with fear.

“I think you know exactly what I mean.” John bit the words. “How could you do that to her?”

“I didn’t…I wanted to…I didn’t know,” Jack stammered. “I thought she’d want to say goodbye.”

“For someone from such an advanced point in human civilization, you’re pretty thick, aren’t you?” John sighed, recalling the Doctor’s visit to Rose’s past and the horrors that had unleashed. “Didn’t it occur to you that you might have changed events? If she’d been a few minutes later, if Martha had detained her longer or got her to change her mind—“

“Well, the reapers weren’t going to let that happen, were they?” Jack’s voice was bitter. “All of my time in the Time Agency, I was trying to stay one step ahead of them, being dispatched to take care of potential anomalies so that we could keep them at bay. And I almost brought them down on her.” He looked over at John. “Things didn’t go so well for me after that, but Martha—well, let’s just say that even though she had every reason to hate me, she never gave up on me, and she never let me down. I’d known how special she was before, but meeting her, knowing her—I don’t want to imagine what will happen if we don’t figure out what Lumic’s up to.” He turned his attention back to the screen.

John was silent for a few moments. He wanted to be angry with Jack, but couldn’t find the energy to be, particularly as he could see the hurt in the man’s eyes and face, and could hear the longing in his voice as he spoke about Martha. “What about Simon?” he asked, eager to change the subject and get some news of his assistant. “Where is he?”

“Should be packing up now, I suspect,” Jack said absently, his brow furrowing as he scanned the screen.

“Packing up? Where’s he going?”

“Home.” Jack spoke as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. “He’s finished what he came here to do. Time for him to go home.”

“And what was it exactly that he came here to do?”

“Don’t exactly know that,” Jack mused. “Just told me he was done, and he was off, and I told him to give my love to his mom and dad.” Jack paused, a worried look crossing his face. “Come to think of it, he was sad when I told him that. I hope Gray is alright.”

“What?” John’s tone voiced his confusion to Jack, who finally looked up from the monitor.

“Right—you weren’t there. Simon’s my nephew.”


Jack nodded. “Surprised me too when he told me; still not used to the idea.” He laughed. “Can’t believe someone’s going to get Gray to settle down.”

“So you didn’t know him before?”

“No. In my timeline he hasn’t been born yet.”

“So what was he doing here? Was he trying to find you?”

“No, not me. You. He came here to meet you, to work with you.”

“What?” John was incredulous. “Why? Why me?”

Jack shrugged his shoulders in a manner that was not convincing. “Haven’t got a clue.”

“I don’t believe you.”

Jack smirked. “Wise man. I may have a small bit of a clue, but I can’t tell you, just as he couldn’t tell me.” Jack smirked at the frustration he could see building on John’s face. “Spoilers,” he offered, then returned his attention to the screen.

John opened his mouth as if to speak, then snapped it shut. Could Jack know her? Nah, he told himself. The universe isn’t that small.

They worked for a while more in silence, finding little that they could piece together to make some semblance of a plan. Jack had found a point or two of vulnerability in the security system, but without knowing what scheme Lumic might be hatching, it was difficult to know where to strike and when. They were about to take a break when the phone rang. John looked at the clock. It was 11:30 in the evening, and they knew precious little more than they did before. He answered to find Pete on the other end.

“I think it’s time we bring in Dr. Jones, don’t you?”

John agreed and hung up the phone. “I need that wrist strap again,” he sighed. If only I could get a nap.

Jack grinned as he tossed it to him. “Happy to do it myself if you’re feeling too old, old man.”

John punched in coordinates. “You have no idea.” In a flash he was gone.

They sat in the car Pete had arranged for them, John reluctant to do another hop to get Martha back to Torchwood; every time he used the strap he was finding it more and more difficult to shake off the physical discomfort. The backpack containing her notes and the computer were on the floor near his feet. Martha was snuggled up at his side, her head resting on his shoulder. The drive was an indulgence, but he wanted this time to speak to her before they entered the building, to give her time to collect her thoughts and, if necessary, her emotions before taking the next steps.

He’d told her about Lumic shortly after he’d found her in the kitchen. She’d gone ashen from the shock, and he’d packed the bag while she sat silently reflecting and processing the information he’d given her. When he was done, he’d brushed her cheek and gently probed her mind to see if she was ready to talk. Martha?

I’m alright. Just thinking. How many of them are out there, how many parallel worlds?

I don’t know, John thought, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he’ll be in all or most of them.

She nodded. If he can still be around—do you think that she might be as well? Martha gave him a weak smile. His expression was grim, and she knew that in his world, at least, Adeola hadn’t survived either. “Somewhere,” she whispered, and she took the hand he offered and walked with him to the car.

On the drive over he explained what they’d found out about Lumic’s holdings, and she shared her discoveries as well. It didn’t take long for either of them to piece together the disparate bits—the water treatment plants, the formula, the minds of the people of England—and they called ahead to get Torchwood working on analyzing water samples. Martha had also called Tish and arranged for her to be brought to the Torchwood offices by one of the guards at her family home. She had a feeling she’d need her expertise with public affairs, especially if, as John had told her, that reporter was going to be present.

Now, with Martha pressed against his side, John was especially glad they’d taken Pete’s car and driver. Between the excitement of the day and its attendant weariness, he longed for the comfort that just holding her brought him, and hoped that his presence was comforting to her too. He pressed the button to raise the dark glass, shielding them from the driver’s view. He felt Martha start a bit at the gesture, then relax into him as she took his left hand in hers, twining her fingers with his. He kissed the top of her head, and she shifted to sit across his lap, eliciting first a chuckle, then a soft moan as she began kissing the nape of his neck. “I missed you,” he whispered. She responded by pressing her lips to his for an intense kiss.

Twenty minutes later they realized the car had stopped and was idling patiently. John could feel Martha smiling up at him while she kissed him languidly. He had pinned her to the leather seats before sliding into her, and they’d tried to keep their voices quiet so as not to embarrass the driver. They’d been successful up to the moment of Martha’s, then John’s, release, and though they’d tried to muffle the sounds of their pleasure, John was certain that Martin would be reluctant to bring him anywhere again. John chuckled softly as he kissed at Martha’s neck and cheek, then slowly slipped from her body. He pulled his pants back to his waist and fastened them while Martha quickly replaced her own clothing. In the dim light from the garage, they stole furtive glances at one another, trying to keep themselves from erupting in a fit of giggles.

“Got a bit carried away there,” Martha said sheepishly.

“How could I not,” he replied. He took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. Martha shuddered in an echo of pleasure.

Jack noted the extra spring in John’s step when he and Martha walked into the conference room, and while he felt a pang of jealousy, he couldn’t hold onto it for too long when he saw how happy Martha was. She was happy to see him too, embracing him in a hug that seemed too large to have come from her tiny frame. Shortly afterward they were joined by the assembled team, and there were no smiles around the table, only worried faces intent on solving what was turning out to be a very complicated problem.

Reports were coming in from operatives around the country; most of the water supply was clean. In some isolated areas they’d located supplies for the accelerator, but they appeared to not have been added to the treatment cycle yet. Martha was reminded of the mood in her home as they’d watched the results coming in from the last presidential election, only now she was in the thick of the counting, not just observing, and the stakes felt higher than the results of any popular vote. She was glad to have Tish with her; in the past three days she’d been pulled from everything familiar, and her sister’s presence was a point of solace and comfort. It didn’t hurt that she knew Tish would look out for her personally and professionally. Martha could see that Tish was already drafting a plan to contain any negative publicity that might come out of the events of the day. She rarely got a chance to see Tish at work, but it was easy to understand why she was so successful; she might seem a bit flighty during her off-hours, but when she was on the clock, she was cool and focused.

One by one Tosh crossed off the names of the various water treatment facilities owned by Luscious, and with each red strikethrough the mood in the room began to lighten a bit. Tish was focusing on long, not short-range, plans, and John considered sneaking off with Martha for a bit of a nap. The sun was rising and Jake went out for pastries and coffees. Everyone was in good spirits; even Ianto was relaxing his usually stoic demeanor, and John could have sworn he saw the slightest hint of a blush creep into his cheek when he caught Jack staring at him from across the room.

When the word came in, finally, from the tiny village of Cholderton, the group didn’t quite know whether to laugh or cry. It made perfect sense to Martha; an isolated community was well suited for Johnston’s (she refused to utter his other name) plan. They made an ideal control group—limited contact with the larger country, insular, relatively stable population—and were unlikely to be aware enough of the changes occurring in their midst until it was too late to do anything about it. There was no way to tell exactly how much exposure the residents of the small village had had to the accelerator, but given the levels of the chemicals present in the drinking water supply, Martha had to assume that in the best case, the average resident would have received a double dosage of the drug daily for as long as it had been in the water.

“Alright Dr. Jones. Tell us—how does it work?” John was surprised at the stern tone in Pete’s voice.

Martha addressed the assembly at the table as she’d done dozens of times before in meetings with UNIT officials. “The accelerator helps the growth of neural pathways in the brain’s communication centers; these paths are open to telepathic communications, but mainly underdeveloped in the normal mind. We had to find something natural—the chips do a similar extension, but do it almost instantaneously, which can be dangerous. We wanted a sustainable development, more like an evolution, really. The accelerator was the answer, and it’s been remarkably successful.”

“So that’s it? Just ‘drink me’ and you’re open?” Jake seemed unimpressed, but became a bit more interested in his coffee when Pete glared at him from the end of the conference table.

“Well, it takes time for the synapses to grow and mature, and we felt it important to introduce the changes as gradually as possible. We kept the dosage levels low to give our subjects time to adjust. All the accelerator does is open the mind to reception and transmission of thought processes.” She paused and gave a weak smile. “Looking back, that was the easy part. Learning to control it took time.”

Martha continued. “The mouth, tongue, teeth, and lips had to learn at some point in human evolution how to project and control sound, like the brain had to learn to translate it. We don’t notice it at all because we’ve always just worked that way, but the scientific community knows from studies and experience that sometimes those connections break down, causing a variety of communication problems typically associated with various disabilities. To help speed the body’s acclimation process, we taught our subjects, through physical and mental training exercises, how to open their bodies to send and receive transmissions, and how to close themselves off from unwanted ones. We went beyond how the chip protocols worked; they really just create open portals with a strong predisposition to follow telepathic input.”

“But it’s just a predisposition, right?” Tosh asked. “Someone with an implant could refuse, couldn’t they?”

Martha shook her head. “In theory, yes, but as we all know from our varied experiences,” her eyes glanced around the table, “pain is a great motivator, and the pain of the chip if one refuses is utterly unbearable.” She noted the grim set of John’s jaw, and reached under the table to grasp his hand. It’s not your fault. He relaxed a bit, but she knew they’d have to talk about the soldiers later.

Martha looked around the table. “I don’t understand, though. If the real plan was to make the accelerator on this grand a scale, why even bother with the chip?”

John was quick to respond. “Well, remember—Prince wanted to build an army. Different purpose, different mechanism. Of course, he was merely a pawn in a larger game, wasn’t he? But Lumic wanted to live forever, so why—“ he stopped. Different bodies, different motivations.

“He’s playing the long game.” Pete leaned forward and began tapping the table in Tosh’s direction. “Tosh, take a look at any political contributions he’s made in the last twelve months.”

Jack was confused. “Politics? You think this is about politics?”

John pushed his chair away from the table, his arms extending across it, palms flat. “No. It’s about power.” He looked toward Pete. “It’s always about power in the end, isn’t it?” Everyone in the room could hear the blend of anger and sadness in his voice and could see it echoed in Pete’s melancholy expression and slight nod.

“What does this mean for my family?” asked Martha, and Tish put her arm around her sister, sensing the worry that was simmering so close to the edge.

“I think they’ll be alright now.” Pete sighed, then addressed Ianto. “A small detail watching the family members for a few days, just to be safe.”

“That’s it? They’ve been locked up, terrified, for two days. Are you sure?” Martha could hear the stress in Tish’s voice, and while she was thrilled to hear that Pete felt they were out of danger, she too was concerned that he could be mistaken.

Pete nodded vigorously. “He’s not looking to kill anyone; that’s not how Lumic operates. Blackmail, espionage, experimental procedures on unsuspecting populations—definitely. But your family won’t be his target; he has nothing to gain from them, or, frankly, from you, Martha, at this point.”

Martha’s face belied her confusion. “But he’s using my—“

“Yes, he’s using your formula—which he has, thanks to the Colonel—and he doesn’t need you, except as a scapegoat. He’s playing a long game, and we’re going to have to play along with him.”

Tish smiled. “I love a long game. What’s the plan?” She took in the worried look on Martha’s face. “Don’t worry, sis.” She winked. “I’ve got you covered.”

Martha stared at the table, the various numbers and chemical compositions of her formula swimming before her eyes, which were now filling with tears of frustration, anger, and fear. She felt utterly small and helpless, and the one thing that was hers, her career and work, was in jeopardy, had been just taken by this man with the face of her enemy. Her heart sank as she thought of the people of the village who’d become unwitting participants of a massive bit of experimentation; when they started demonstrating signs of synaptic development, they’d panic, or worse, become easily led sheep, ripe for whatever he was planning. She swallowed hard and closed her eyes as she felt Tish squeeze her right hand and John her left.

It’ll be alright, Martha. I’d trust Pete with my life.

Martha nodded and opened her eyes. “Right. What do you need me to do?”

Pete’s plan, while simple, would take time to develop. They couldn’t touch Johnston; there was no way to prove that he’d done anything technically illegal; even if they could procure evidence that he or his organization had introduced the chemical, the elements wouldn’t technically meet the definitional requirements for a dangerous agent. Exposure would jeopardize Martha and her work; her name was linked with the research and the purchase of the chemicals, and Jack was adamant that her work continue lest the timeline be broken. Enough people around the table understood the importance of fixed points, and while Tosh thought it smacked a bit too much of predestination, she trusted in John and Pete enough to trust in Jack.

“So you’ll go to the village, Martha, you, your sister—“ Pete paused to glance at John “—whoever you need, whatever resources you need, and you’ll find out just how much exposure they’ve had. Once we know that, we can decide which plan of a number of equally bad ones is best.” Pete exhaled, then glanced at Jack, who was fiddling with the wrist strap. “Captain Harkness? I’ll need your assistance here while Dr. Jones is away; we have surveillance needs and could use your help with…precision strikes.” Jack pursed his lips then nodded his assent.

“Miss Jones?” Tish nodded, eager to get to work. Most of her clients were high-profile businessmen; this was an opportunity to do something much larger and grander and she was especially keen to help out Martha. “You’ll work with Ms. Smith; you’re now our press liaison. She’ll be expecting to speak with your sister first thing tomorrow morning.” Tish nodded, then gave Martha a reassuring smile. “I need you to bring in your best assistant so that you can travel with your sister.”

Pete continued to give out tasks; Ianto was to setup an “invisible” perimeter around the village and to secure the space and equipment Martha would need for her work, Tosh had plenty of seeking and searching through various databanks to get the fullest picture of the intricate web of Johnston’s holdings, and Jake was assigned to assist Jack in his missions.

Within minutes the conference table was nearly vacant, everyone having returned to their various workspaces to prepare. Pete, Martha, Tish, and John remained. The quiet in the room increased the tension around the table. There were a few more things Pete needed to know.

“This is dangerous, you understand that?”

Martha nodded.

“Not the kind of dangerous we thought before—this has the potential to be much worse.”

Martha closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I can stop it if I have to.”

“I thought you might be able to,” Pete said quietly. “What does it entail?”

“There’s a reversal formula; it inhibits any new synaptic growth.”

John squeezed Martha’s left hand. “Are there any side effects?”

She covered her mouth with her right hand and closed her eyes for a moment, then placed her hand over the sheaf of papers before her. “It halts new development. In a mature human, that’s not so bad, but there will be children affected in that village.” Martha’s eyes met Pete’s. “It wasn’t supposed to be released, not yet, not for a while. I was about to go on holiday for three months, to relax and get ready for the next round of protocols.” She shook her head and gripped John’s hand tightly; he could almost feel her drawing strength from him, and he was happy to give it to her. “It’s not the holiday—understand that—it’s the timing. We’ve just verified the stability of the entire process; we’re not ready for anything this massive, for the variables in this type of population, homogeneous as it is.”

Pete rested his elbows on the table, his fingers tented against his lips. “You’ll leave for Cholderton in two days. Will that give you enough time to prepare?”

“Yes, although I’ll need to prepare a few testing protocols before I leave. Is there a laboratory here that I can use?”

“Of course,” Pete smiled, “and if you give Ianto a list of items you need before you leave, we’ll have everything ready for you tomorrow morning. Why don’t you and your sister find him ? He’ll show you to your workspaces, get your list, and then you can go home and get some rest.”

Martha, John, and Tish collected the various notes and papers spread around them, then began to make their way to the door. Pete’s voice stopped them as he called out.

“Your first test subject, Dr. Jones? Why did they volunteer?”

Martha stiffened at the question, and John thought back to his earlier conversation with Pete. A flash of memory brought to mind a darkness passing through Martha’s eyes, and he felt a strange thrill at the idea of this woman housing some mystery. He reached up to touch her, but she turned to face Pete, and his hand hung in the air for a moment before returning to his side.

“It was a dark time, and she thought she had nothing to lose.” Martha’s voice was calm, and while John could tell that she was still tense, she was also utterly in control.

“I’m glad it worked out so well for her, then. Perhaps now she might see things differently.” He gave Martha a terse smile, and she and Tish left to find Ianto. Pete motioned for John to follow him to his office.

Twenty minutes and two drinks later, Pete finally broke the silence. “This wasn’t quite what I was expecting.” He and John sat in the office, waiting for Martha and Tish to finish giving Ianto instructions. “Your adventures are usually a bit more—“he paused, searching for the word, then gave up—“adventuresome than this.”

“Ah, well, Pete, this is really your bailiwick, isn’t it? Business, politics, spin control. We’ll have to keep an eye on Lumic, though; we may not be able to touch him, but he’s too powerful to ignore.” John stared at the carpet, the glass cool and heavy in his hand. He’d been brooding over this mystery of Martha, wondering what that exchange between she and Pete had been about.

“The whole of England,” Pete sighed from his desk as he took a swig of his drink. He was looking at the sales figures for Luminous Liquids, whose sales had surpassed Vitex’s in the space of 2 years. He’d left a vacuum in the market when he’d shifted his attentions to Torchwood, and while that work had been necessary, he couldn’t help but feeling some measure of responsibility for giving this monster such a wide field in which to range. Millions of people across the country could have suffered without ever knowing why.

“Well,” Pete said as he rose to sit near the couch. “If nothing else, we’ll have to expose the extent of his control over the water supply to DEFRA. That should keep him occupied for a while, long enough at least for us to get Letitia and Martha in place.” He took a drink from the glass. “What will you do?”

“Me? Same old life. Why should anything change?” John looked into his glass, a glum expression on his face as he considered what was coming for Martha, how busy her life was going to be, how little room there might be for him in it. “Will have to find another assistant. Got any lying about?”

Pete patted him on the back and took the empty glass from his hand. “Start small,” he said. “Take the girl home—the car is waiting for you downstairs. See how you feel in the morning.” He motioned over to the door, where John saw Martha standing, handbag on her shoulder, backpack at her feet. She looked tired, but peaceful, and John couldn’t take his eyes from hers as he rose to meet her.

Pete watched them walk out, then picked up the phone. “Jacks?” His voice was tired, all the vigor he’d previously displayed gone at the sound of the one voice he trusted. “Everything’s alright. I’m coming home.” He hung up the phone, shut off the lights, and left the room.

Martha and John sat next to each other, with Tish on the seat opposite. Martin had put the dark window up before they’d even entered the car, and John’s head was too filled with questions to be amused by the gesture or its implications. They’d simply given him the address of Martha’s mother’s home and settled in for the drive. Tish was already on the phone, making calls to secure the help of her most able assistant.

John took Martha’s left hand and gave it a small squeeze. You OK?

She nodded, and he could see that she’d put a wall up; she could hear him, but he wouldn’t be able to see into her.

Do you want to talk about it? What’s bothering you, I mean?

Martha shook her head, and in his mind John saw a thick rope thinning and breaking apart.

I’m here when you’re ready, Martha. I’m not going anywhere.

Martha could feel a gentle warmth envelop her mind, and she raised her right hand to brush away the tear that had escaped at the shock of that feeling. Thank you. I’m sorry; I just need to think for a while, that’s all. From the corner of her eye, she could see him nod, and they sat holding hands in silence for the remainder of the drive.

When they arrived at Francine’s, Tish, who’d been busy, but not blind on the ride home, surprised John by giving him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek before entering the house. Martin remained stoically focused on the road before him as Martha and John sat in the car.

“Are you going to be alright?” John stroked Martha’s arm gently.

“Yes. I just need some rest, a little time to think.” She gave him a smile as she reached up to touch his hair. “You could use a little rest too.” She leaned in to kiss him, and they lingered a few moments, Martha considering just returning to John’s flat. She might not get as much actual rest as she would at her mother’s, but the exercise might do her good as well.

Her sister’s voice calling her from the front door broke the mood. Martha sighed as she rested her forehead against John’s. “Call me tonight?”

John grinned. “Sure. But you’ll have to give me your number first.”

Martha laughed as she fished a business card from her handbag. She wrote her mobile number on the back, then handed him the card, the pen, and another card. “Give me yours?”

She watched as his hand created the same neat and looping script she’d seen in the blue book, which was secure in the bag with her papers.

When he’d finished, he put the cap on the pen and handed it to her, then kissed the card with a flourish before slipping it into the handbag as he gave her one last kiss. “I’ve had a lovely time with you, Martha Jones,” he whispered, his shoulders sinking a bit. “It’s going to be a very long afternoon.”

She stepped out onto the pavement and took the bag that he handed to her, then closed the door. He immediately put the window down, and she chuckled as she leaned against the door frame to give him just one more kiss. “Rest up, mister. I’ve got plans for you.” She winked, stood, and walked into the house. John smirked and shook his head a bit as he watched her walk away, then knocked on the interior window to signal for Martin to leave. He settled into the seat and stared at the small card in the palm of his hand. A very strange adventure. Smith and Jones. Not time, not space, but right here on earth, in London.

His flat was quiet and cool when he entered, and it felt strange to be surrounded by so much silence in the middle of the day. After getting a glass of water from the kitchen, he started down the hallway to his bedroom. Halfway down the hall, he stopped, then took a piece of chalk from the office, grinning as he made his note on the wall. He sensed a busy night was ahead, and he wanted to make the most of it. He pulled the curtain in the room and settled into bed.
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From: [identity profile] persiflage-1.livejournal.com

Teh secksings in the car was naughty but very hawt!

I'm fascinated that you brought John Lumic from our world across into Pete's World to work with the Cybermen.

And I was very surprised by the revelation that Simon is Gray's son - I'd completely forgotten about Gray, when Simon said "Uncle Jack"!

This was lovely stuff. I really want to snuggle John and Martha...

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com

Teh secksings in the car was naughty but very hawt!

I knew that with a chapter this long, something naughty had to happen! ;-)

I'm fascinated that you brought John Lumic from our world across into Pete's World to work with the Cybermen.

Actually, he works with the Cybermen in our world and then comes over to Pete's World during JE. I don't know what happens to the Cybers who are left behind in our world.

I really like the idea of Lumic, though, and a parallel Lumic with a different set of shortcomings intrigued me. As we're playing the long game now, I hope you continue to find it fascinating in sequels.

And I was very surprised by the revelation that Simon is Gray's son - I'd completely forgotten about Gray, when Simon said "Uncle Jack"!

LOL--Jack is really surprised about Simon, and I imagine he's going to be keeping a close eye on Gray when they're together next to see if he can spot the moment he falls in love with Simon's mother.

This was lovely stuff. I really want to snuggle John and Martha...

Thanks--glad that you enjoyed it! John and Martha can't wait to snuggle each other again...
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From: [identity profile] persiflage-1.livejournal.com

I knew that with a chapter this long, something naughty had to happen! ;-)


Actually, he works with the Cybermen in our world and then comes over to Pete's World during JE.

I know. *sigh* Sleepy Pers was sleepy and phrased that badly.

I really like the idea of Lumic, though, and a parallel Lumic with a different set of shortcomings intrigued me. As we're playing the long game now, I hope you continue to find it fascinating in sequels.

I shouldn't think I'll get bored - it's very hard for me to get bored of anything you write!

LOL--Jack is really surprised about Simon, and I imagine he's going to be keeping a close eye on Gray when they're together next to see if he can spot the moment he falls in love with Simon's mother.

I bet!

Thanks--glad that you enjoyed it! John and Martha can't wait to snuggle each other again...

I hope that's soon!

From: [identity profile] ebbyzone.livejournal.com

This is so intricate, and well written and suspenseful and hawt and gripping.

I loved that this chapter was long; 'twas a lunch hour well spent. :D

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com

This is so intricate, and well written and suspenseful and hawt and gripping.

I loved that this chapter was long; 'twas a lunch hour well spent. :D

Thanks! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed it so, particularly as it was so long (much longer than I thought it would be, but there was a lot of ground to cover), and that you enjoyed it over lunch!

From: [identity profile] catholicphoton.livejournal.com

There is sooo much! Squee!

I really wasn't expecting parallel!Lumic. I love surprises ;-)

Gray's son hmm? Why do I think there's still way more to that? Loved the mention of Simon, I miss him!

The ending was adorkable :)

From: [identity profile] fourzoas.livejournal.com

Glad I was able to surprise--Lumic was too good to pass up!

I miss Simon too, as will John! And yes, there's much adorkable at the end after all that scientific/corporate cloak-and-dagger. I think I can promise more adorkable in the next bit as well!


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