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Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six



Shawn sat on Gwen and Rhys’ couch and stared at the pages of information they had gathered regarding Alan’s abduction. Gwen had found the two men in Torchwood’s personnel files. “Smith”—real name, Ian Davis—had been one of their best field agents in regards to acquisitions. He had really taken Torchwood’s motto to heart. “’If it’s alien, it’s ours’.” Shawn rubbed his hand through his hair and fell back against the couch. “What kind of motto is that?”

“Torchwood London really held on to the original tenets in the charter.” Gwen handed him a cup of tea. “They acted like there was still an empire.”

“But Alan’s a person, not a thing. He only came here because of me and look what happens.”

“Shawn, it’s not your fault. Alan volunteered for this. He would have if you were here or not. It’s just the way he is.”

“I know. It’s just…” Shawn felt like a fish out of water. There was only so much he could deduct correctly with the cultural differences. Then there was the tech and aliens to deal with.

After the emergency room, Rhys had brought him home, for which Shawn was grateful. He would have gone mad alone in that hotel room. That had been two days ago and they still weren’t any closer to finding Alan. He took a deep breath and bent his head over the files and photos once more. There had to be something he missed.

“Shawn!”

“What?”

“I called you three times,” said Gwen. “Can you get Mary from her nap? I’ve got to finish with this chicken.”

“Sure.” Shawn stood, stretched, and walked down the hall to the nursery. Mary cooed and gurgled when she saw him and all Shawn’s frustrations were banished when he saw that innocent face. He lifted the baby from the crib and experience told him she needed changing. He adeptly put on a fresh diaper and carried Mary back to the living room. He grabbed her juice from the fridge just as there was a knock at the door. As Gwen was up to her elbows in dishes, he answered the door. He was not expecting what he found.

“Well, if it isn’t Mr. Mom. Look at you, all domestic.”

Shawn was speechless.

Gwen came running from the kitchen and wrapped him in another very large hug. “Alan!”

“Dude, how did you escape? We couldn’t even find you.”

“It wasn’t an escape, it was a rescue.”

Alan moved out of the way and Shawn saw the greatcoat first before looking up at the face. He was struck speechless yet again. A new record.

Gwen moved to the other man. “Jack!” She hugged him tightly before stepping back and slapping him in the face. “Where have you been? How long have you been back? Why didn’t you contact me?”

Jack rubbed his cheek. “I guess I deserved that. OK, in order, around, a few days, it’s complicated.”

“I’d say he’s been in town at least since the day of the murder,” Shawn said as he headed back into the living room and sat on the couch with Mary.

Shawn saw the tread of Jack’s boots and knew that he had been at the crime scene. He had suspected the strange man who had just shown up out of nowhere but now he had something concrete to place him there. Now he knew it was under different circumstances.

Jack looked at him. “The stories are true. You’re good.”

Wow, even Jack knows about me and, according to Alan, he’s from even further in the future. Cool.

Gwen sat down on the couch next to him. Mary reached out for her mother and Gwen took her and held her daughter on her lap. “Why didn’t you come to me? Why didn’t you let me know you were back?”

“I didn’t want to show up on your doorstep after all that time...”

“What do you know? The great Jack Harkness at a loss for words.” Alan grinned.

Shawn guessed that Jack was the type to charm his way out of any situation. When it came to honesty, however, he seemed to have a tough time of it.

“Okay, so Jack’s been here for a few days,” said Alan, “but how do you know the exact day?”

“The treads of his boot match the prints at the scene.”

“And?”

“And I saw him that night in the alley,” Shawn answered quickly.

“What?” questioned Gwen. “You saw Jack that night?”

“I didn’t know who he was. He also wanted me to keep quiet.”

Alan looked at Jack. “You saved him from the Weevils.”

“What did you expect me to do after you lost him? I couldn’t let them get him.”

“Gentlemen, though I’m flattered, this is not the time to fight over me. We have to pool our resources to get these guys.”

“I’ll invite Andy to dinner and we can talk about it then. Now I want to hear where Jack’s been.”

*

While they had waited for dinner, Alan and Jack swapped stories. It had given Shawn a better insight into the man than hearing things in the third person. They had shown him to be a flirt and a con man, but he was also loyal to his team and friends.

When Rhys arrived, they had arranged it so Jack was the first thing he saw. “Jack Bloody Harkness!” His tone had been annoyed yet he smiled and gave the prodigal a manly hug.

“Good to see you too, Rhys. Glad to see you’ve taken good care of Gwen. New digs as well. Like ‘em.”

“Nice to know my life meets with your approval since you left, seemingly for good.”

“I had to get away, work things over. After spending so much time on this planet, I really needed to get away. Perhaps I should have stayed to work things out, but I’m here now.”

Andy’s reaction had been similar, minus the hug. Andy had feelings for Gwen and grudgingly accepted that she had chosen Rhys. With Jack back in the picture, Andy probably felt he had been pushed a little further out of the circle. He didn’t say much before dinner, and what he did say was mostly at Jack’s expense.

Now here they were at dinner and Shawn had become the focal point. Since Gwen had banned talking about the case, Andy wanted to hear more about Shawn’s life and cases. “I finally had the chance to read up on you.”

“I thought you did that the night you found us.”

“That was more of a background check to see if you were telling the truth.. This time I actually got to read up on your cases. You caught a serial killer? I heard she’s writing a book.”

Shawn didn’t want to talk about Yang. It was still too close, too personal. That woman had kidnapped his mother and strapped a bomb to her.

“Andy, I don’t think Shawn needs to go through that again. It hasn’t even been a year,” Alan said, coming to his rescue. “Why don’t you tell them about Lassiter and the time you made him think he solved the case?”

The memory brought a smile to Shawn’s face and he relayed the story of the murdered astronomer.

After dinner, Shawn helped Gwen clear the dishes so they could spread their files and information on the table. Photos and maps covering the whole of Cardiff and outlying areas littered the surface. Shawn studied them once again, hoping that a different arrangement would spark something. Alan and Jack got to look at it all for the first time.

“Alan, what can you tell us of where you were held?” Gwen asked.

“I was so heavily drugged, I have little recollection. All I remember is a small room, not much bigger than a cell. Each time I was conscious, I’d try to remember, but they’d just drug me again.”

“What about you, Jack?”

“No idea. It wasn’t really a conventional rescue. I zeroed in on his machine, got him, and then left without seeing anything other than the room.”

“OK, so they collect alien tech, right?” asked Rhys. “So you widen the search and the highest concentration of the stuff has to be them.” He sat back grinning like he had solved the problem.

“I’ve done so many scans over the past few days,” Gwen said as she opened her laptop. “Everything’s starting to blend together.”

Everyone gathered around and peered over Gwen’s shoulders at the screen. There were hot spots all over, thanks to the rift.

“At this rate, it’d be easier to look where the stuff’s not,” commented Andy.

The switch clicked in Shawn’s brain. He could feel a smile cross his face.

“Shawn? What is it?” Alan knew that smile.

“We do what Andy said. Look for where it’s not. These guys are Torchwood, right?”

Former Torchwood,” Jack stressed.

“So they must have shields of some sort to prevent detection. We find a large area of nothing and that’s them.”

Gwen expanded the search and six pairs of eyes roved the screen to find the discrepancy. Alan was the first to spot it. “There!” he pointed.

“Warehouse district,” said Jack. “Of course. Gwen, pull up diagrams of the building and all approaches.”

“Already ahead of you.”

“Now we make a plan of attack.”

“Well, personally, I plan better with dessert,” Shawn said. “Pineapple upside-down cake, anyone?”

Eight

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