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Hearts

By Wandering Storyteller

Scifi / Adventure

Chapter 1

Owen set down the phone, "Oi, Jack, we got a call from the hospital, something about a girl with two hearts. It sounds like another mild mutation caused by the rift, probably like that toddler last month with the three lungs. Want me to go check it out?"

Jack dropped the folder he was holding sending papers tumbling across the floor. "Did you really say two hearts?"

"Yeah, so?"

Without bothering to pick up the papers Jack was already heading to door. "If this girl is what I think she is, I need to meet her in person."

The nurse that led them to the room was a very chatty young woman. It was proof of Jack's distraction that he didn't attempt to flirt with her. "So why was the patient brought in? Is she hurt?"

"Not badly. Her name is Kate. Poor dear was in a car accident. It would have just been a fender bender, but the airbag didn't deploy and she hit her head on the passenger side dashboard. Knocked her clean out. The paramedics brought her straight here." The nurse paused outside the patient's room, wringing her hands. "When she got here, the doctors started to notice certain things about her weren't quite right. Her body temperature was incredibly low, so low you would think she was dead. It was her heartbeat that really scared them though. At first they thought it was just irregular, then the doctors realized she and two distinct heartbeats. That's when we called you. That's what you told us to do last time after that baby with three lungs."

"Just as you were supposed to. We'll handle it from here." Jack smiled at the nurse and pushed the door open.

A groggy twelve-year-old blinked at him from a bed across the room. She had fairly cute features in a pre teen sort of way, although a large and purplish bruise on her forehead marred them. Her nose was still rounded with childhood, and slight freckles dotted her cheeks. Her curly red hair surrounded her head like a halo of tangled tulips. She sat up on bony elbows watching the strangers apprehensively.

Jack felt his heart sink. Whoever she was, she clearly wasn't the Doctor in any disguise, shape, or form, nor was she related to him. Although it was not an ability he broadcasted, since people in the twenty first century tended to be alienated by it, he could recognize people by the scent of their pheromones. There was something vaguely reminiscent of a Time Lord about Kate, but she smelled vaguely human too.

Owen stepped from behind Jack and walked towards the bed. "Hi, I'm Doctor Harper. Do you mind if I examine you, Kate?" he said holding up a stethoscope.

"Yes."

"Well tough." The girl tried to scoot away but a wave of dizziness hit her. Owen barely got the trashcan under her before she threw up. Once the spasms subsided he helped her lean back gently. "Take it easy, whatever species you are you've definitely got a concussion. No quick movements for a while."

"I don't think I could if I wanted too. My head really hurts," she grumbled, closing her eyes.

Owen retrieved an ice pack for her then pressed his stethoscope against her breastbone on the left, and then on the right. He held up her wrist and took her pulse. He stuck a thermometer in her mouth, which she was too tired to spit out. Owen frowned and looked up at Jack. "Everything the nurse said is true. She's definitely not fully human. Do you have any idea what she might be?"

"None of your business!" snapped a woman from the doorway. She was clearly the girl's mother, and trailed a waist-length mane of the same fiery hair. She stormed into the room, placing herself between the strangers and her daughter. "I don't know who you are, but you've got no right to come in here and bother my daughter. Especially after she has been hurt."

Jack looked down at the shorter woman a half smile on his face. She was the attractive sort, aside from her owlish glasses. Jack would normally have tried to flirt with her, except over the centuries of his existence he had learned hitting on an angry mother was a very, very bad idea. "Actually we do. We're Torchwood, and it's our job to investigate aliens in Great Britain. Now would you care to tell me why your daughter seems to be part Time Lord, and you're seeping with matrix energy?"

The woman went pale. "Rodageit said you would find us someday. Oh for the love of God please don't tell them about us."

Jack's expression softened. "Tell who?"

The woman cocked her head to the side in confusion. "The Gallifreyan government. You work for them don't you? You are a Time Lord aren't you?"

Jack shook his head. "I'm human, and my name is Captain Jack Harness. I work for Torchwood like I told you, and it's a British organization."

The woman's body went limp with relief, "So you won't tell the Gallifreyan government about us."

Jack frowned. "I couldn't if I wanted to. All of Gallifrey is gone. The Time Lords are mostly extinct."

"Oh," said the woman very quietly.

Jack turned to Owen. "Keep an eye on Kate will you? Just make sure the doctors don't try to give her any medicine. It could be toxic to her. I need to have a conversation with her mother so we can sort this out."

Owen shrugged. "Sure, it's not like I don't have more important things to do at the hub that baby-sit a sick alien preteen."

"Owen."

"Fine, fine, go have your talk."

Jack led Kate's mother from the room towards one of the empty hospital lounges where he knew they would not be disturbed, stopping along the way to filch two cups of tea from the nurses' station. A good cup of tea could often be just as effective as a truth drug, if applied properly. He gave the woman the paper cup and they sat down. She was calmer now, and if anything more wary.

"So tell me about yourself," Jack said, offering one of his heart-stopping smiles. The woman did not look amused. He tried again. "Your name might be a good place to start."

"My name is Janice Caylan and that's all I'm going to say until I'm certain I can trust you."

Jack leaned forward. "How do I get you to trust me? Torchwood means your daughter no harm; we just want to know who she is. We only worry about dangerous aliens, and she looks like the shy sort."

"Telling me what you know about the Time War would be a good place to start."

"I don't know much, just what the Doctor hinted at."

"Who's the Doctor?"

"A Time Lord I used to travel with."

Janice's eyes narrowed with suspicion. "I thought you said they were mostly extinct."

"They are-he's the only one left. The Time War with the Daleks went badly. In the end the Doctor had to destroy both races to save the universe."

Janice's shoulders slumped. "I thought maybe the Time Lords went back on their word and imprisoned Rodageit, or that he died during the course of the war. I never quiet imagined mass genocide." She looked up with tearful eyes. "I don't suppose this Doctor is a tall, mad scientist sort who tends to accidentally blow stuff up, is he? Wavy black hair, gray eyes, speaks with a strong Irish accent? Loves coffee, hates tea, won't eat sweets?"

Jack shook his head slowly. Janice slumped again scrunching her eyes shut. "I didn't think so. Rodageit wasn't the sort to purposely harm anyone, certainly not an entire race." After a moment she straightened up, drying her eyes. "Enough blubbering; I accepted his death long ago. It's just a bit hard to finally know for certain."

"This Rodageit, he was Kate's father?"

"Yes. We were married."

"How did you meet him?"

"I used to live in out in the countryside. One night I was out for a walk on the moor when I thought I saw a falling star, except it kept burning when it hit the earth. I ran to it and found a man and a ruined sort of metal box. The man was very badly hurt, and in so much pain, and scared. He couldn't really tell me anything before he died. I held him as he went cold, but then all of a sudden he was flooded with a golden light, and changed into a different man. I was exposed to a lot of matrix energy then, being so close to him when he regenerated. Rodageit thought that was why I was able to get pregnant with Kate later on. He said normally Time Lords can't or won't crossbreed with other species, but the matrix energy I absorbed made me compatible. But I'm getting ahead of myself-we didn't even marry for several years. When he woke up in his new body he was a bundle of energy, as if he hadn't just died. He was quite sad about his box, though-said it was dead. He called it a TARDIS. He said he was running from his own species, the Time Lords, that in trying to capture him they had shot his TARDIS and it sort of crashed through time and space."

"Did he ever say why he was running from the Time Lords?"

Janice bit her lip. "Well, I never quite understood that. It had something to do with breaking the rules of time and space. He helped someone live who wasn't supposed to, and caused a hole in reality or maybe a vortex-he wasn't good at explaining it." She sipped at her tea. "So anyway, he was stuck on earth. I think he rather liked it actually. He didn't have any money, or ID or anything, so I let him stay in my home." Janice smiled. She had a good smile, not too broad, but playful and warm. "I'd spent my entire adult life writing science fiction novels. How do you think I felt finally meeting a real alien?"

"You fell madly in love."

"Yeah, predictable, I know. Took him a while to figure it out though. Time Lords aren't a very sexual species. Rodageit told me once that they reproduced with looms, instead of biologically. Most of the time he was too busy blowing up the garden shed with one of his inventions to notice anything around him. Not that they ever worked out, really, not how he meant them to, anyway. He tried to fix the toaster once, made the most incredible radio machine. We could get music from distant galaxies.

"Sooner or later, though, we sorted things out, fell in love and all that. He got very worried when I got pregnant with Kate. First because he was amazed it was possible and was worried something might go wrong. Then because he realized how bad it would be if the other Time Lords ever found us.

"When he first ran away, he was in trouble, and they might have taken a regeneration or two from him if they caught him, but that was it. But if they found out he fell in love with a human they would have thought he was mad or sick. Time lords hardly become involved with each other, much less other species. It would seem to them the way it would seem to us like a human loving a goldfish. For a time lord to have a child with a human would have been an abomination to them.

"He said that if the Time Lords ever found him they would lock him away forever in an asylum, they would make me forget him, and probably kill Kate. That's why he panicked you see, when a Time Lord did find him."

"When?" asked Jack. "Eleven years ago, when Kate was just a tiny baby. I'm not sure how they found us. One morning we were all sitting out in the garden when there was a whooshing sound and a big box in the shape of garden shed appeared. A man in the oddest set of robes with a high collar stepped out. "He told Rodageit not to run, that he wasn't there to arrest him. His name was Tovik and his job was to find all rogue Time Lords. Gallifrey was at war with the Daleks and everyone was being called home to help. If Rodageit came with him he'd be granted full amnesty. Rodageit didn't want to go with him. Tovik got angry. He threatened to tell the other Time Lords about Kate and me. He was smart; it didn't take him more than a glance to figure out we were Rodageit's family. Rodageit had to go along to protect us. He promised to come back as soon as he could. He never did.

"I waited for weeks, months, years. For the longest time I held onto hope, waited to hear the sound of a TARDIS. I knew he wouldn't abandon Kate and me; he loved us too much. He was scatterbrained, and foolish, but fiercely loyal. I finally had to accept that the only thing that could have kept him away from us was death." Janice sipped at her tea, not seeming to have noticed that it had long since gone cold. "That's all there is to tell really."

"Does anyone else know Rodageit was a Time Lord, or that Kate isn't completely human?"

"No."

"Does Kate know what she is?"

"Oh of course. She can't remember her father, but I've told her about him. She's seen the inventions he left. She's been able to fix some of the less successful ones too. She made the loveliest flying teakettle"

Jack raised an eyebrow, "Does she cause stuff to blow up too?"

Janice grinned. "No, Kate is a good bit more practical than her father; she takes cause and effect into consideration."

"So no risk of her accidentally destroying the world, opening a portal to another planet, or anything else Torchwood needs to worry about?"

"Not on my watch."

Jack set down his cup and stood, stretching. "Alright then. The two of you seem like your keeping a low profile and not causing any trouble. I'll see to it that the hospital doesn't give you any trouble." Jack paused to jot down a number on a scrap of paper. "If Kate ever gets hurt again and needs a doctor call this number. I can get her treated at my headquarters without the trouble you had here."

Janice stood as well. "Thank you. One last thing though, are you going to tell this Doctor person about Kate?"

Jack paused, "Well I don't really have a way to contact him, at least not easily."

"Good. I don't want him to know about Kate. If he destroyed the Time Lords that means he probably killed Rodageit. I don't want him near my daughter."

Jack flinched at the insult against the Doctor. He didn't defend him, though. The look in Janice's eyes was too cold, too burned with grief.

She saw Jack's hesitation. She grabbed his hand in hers, sharp nails biting into the skin. "Promise me you won't tell him."

"I can't do that. He deserves to know he's not alone."

Jack tried to pull away but she hung on "If that murderer comes near my daughter or me I will kill him!" Years of pent up frustration and anger burst from her voice. She needed someone to blame for the death of her husband. The Doctor fit that role. Jack had no doubt she could make good on her threat. He was glad he hadn't told her any more about him.

"You have my word that I will see to it that he stays away from you and your daughter."

Janice released him, the sudden fire receding from her eyes. "That is acceptable." She straitened her skirt and brushed her hair from her eyes. "It's been a long day. If it's alright I'd like to take my daughter home."

"Yes of course. We'll call you if we have any more questions." The woman turned without saying anything more and set off down the hall, her practical flat shoes making a steady click against the tile floor. Jack ran his hand through his hair with an exasperated sigh. Well, that had gone bad quickly. He had wanted to talk to Kate, but now that didn't look like an option. Not without upsetting Janice more. It would be best just give things time. Once Kate was an adult he could offer to help her contact the Doctor if she wanted to meet him. Surely she would want to meet another Time Lord. How hard it must be to know next to nothing about one's own biology or cultural history. Jack knew quite well what it was like not know the nature of his own body.

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