Hearts

Chapter 10

-Two Weeks Later—

It was not a good morning at Torchwood. During the night Myfanwy must have gotten bored. At least, that was the only explanation anyone could come up with for why she tried to eat Tosh's computer. Ianto arrived early as was his habit, and found Tosh's workstation strewn about the room, the one remaining computer bearing a very beak-shaped dent in it.

The sounds Tosh made upon entering the Hub and seeing the remnants of her prized technology were somewhere between a gasp, a scream and a moan. Jack might even have found it funny if Tosh had not proceeded to curse earnestly in Japanese, swearing to kill the dinosaur. Jack was glad Myfanwy had gone off to hide somewhere or Tosh might have made good on her threat.

Following such a morning, Jack decided it was a good afternoon to get out of the Hub. As the Rift was being good for once and there was not much to do, he took the opportunity to go visit Kate.

When he arrived he was mildly surprised to find evidence of some serious home improvement going on. The gutters had been cleaned, the front door repainted, the fence whitewashed, and the garden weeded. He rang the doorbell and got no response.

"I'm up here," yelled a voice from the roof. "I can't stop what I'm doing, but if you go around the side yard there's a ladder."

Jack diligently went around and joined Kate on the roof. She was dressed more informally today, an old t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off, jeans cut off at the knees, tennis shoes, and her hair caught back in a messy braid and covered by a red bandana.

She had a mouth full of nails, which she was using to replace damaged roof shingles with new ones. Except instead of using a hammer, she would line up the nail, and then point a device that looked rather reminiscent of the Doctor's sonic screw driver at it, and the nail would go into the wood as if hit.

Jack raised an eyebrow. "Let me guess, sonic hammer?"

Kate spat the nails into her hand, "Yep. Jenny told me about the sonic screwdriver her dad used. We found plans for a similar device in the TARDIS library and built this. It's very useful, opens doors too." Kate wiped her forehead with the back of her hand and sat down, legs dangling over the side of the roof. Jack sat beside her. Kate seemed to have no fear of heights, but then again, Jack didn't either.

"So were is Jenny?"

"She went for a hike. If she doesn't get horribly lost, she should be back in an hour or two."

"So tell me, why are you fixing the roof?"

"Because it needs fixing."

"It's needed fixing for a while. You didn't seem very worried about it when you were thirteen."

"I was self-centered. Not a very good daughter. I'm trying to do better."

"Which is why you're trying to assuage your guilt about getting ready to leave your mother again."

Kate leaned back, flopping against the roof. "You don't miss a thing, do you Captain."

"I'm an observant man." He gave Kate a pointed look. "Do you really think your mother will miss you any less, just because you put the house in order before you vanish again?"

"I was going to tell her before I left, and Jenny and I would be back in a week or two."

"It'll still break her heart."

"Her heart's already broken. She lost her little girl, I'm hardly that person anymore."

"Your still her daughter."

"Yeah, but eight years and a hell of a lot of life experience older. I know it sounds stupid after all those years of fighting to get home, but I don't think I belong here any more, Jack. I've got a room full of a children's things I have no use for, clothes that don't fit and bed sheets with ponies on them. I can't exactly just pick up things where I left off."

"You could always go to University, you're not too old."

"And study what? I've been in the greatest libraries and schools in existence. There is no university in Britain that could teach me more about science and technology than I already know."

"You could get a job."

Kate sat up and looked at him, "Will you hire me?"

"No."

"Oh come on, who's better equipped to deal with aliens than me?"

"That's not the point-you're too young."

"I'm twenty one! No one on your team is past thirty."

"Exactly. I want to see you live well past that age."

"Stop trying to protect me. You couldn't do it before, you certainly can't do it now." Kate knew her words were cruel but anger blinded her. "Believe me when I tell you, Jack, that Torchwood can't do anything worse to me that has already happened. Do you have any idea of the things I faced as a frightened child! I haven't got a crumb of innocence left to protect. Do you really think I haven't fought for my life before, haven't seen death, and haven't killed? I've seen the best and the worst the universe has to offer. I've seen beautiful wonderful things, sights beyond your imagination, and kindness that's not that different from what you would find on earth. But I've also faced the worse the universe has to offer, I've seen war, and genocide, and everyday cruelties that are worse than that. Don't you dare act like you know what's good for me."

Funny how Kate could seem both so old and incredibly young at the same time. Her eyes were a cool green like light reflecting off the smooth ashes left by a fire. Yet in her voice, her movements, her expression, Jack could see the terrified, insecure girl he had pushed into the TARDIS and told to run for her life. Neither of them was saying it, but they both knew she blamed Jack. It wasn't logical, but she did. She held him accountable for all the fear, all the loneliness, everything that had happened since he and Torchwood had failed to keep her safe as they had promised.

"Kate." Jack reached for her and she shrugged him off. Why had he thought that if she wouldn't accept his comfort at thirteen she would at twenty-one? Because he could not apologize for the past, he did so for the present.

"I'm sorry if I brought your mom into this. I had no right. I guess I don't get to tell you what to do either. Whether you go or stay is your decision to make."

"Thank you." A moment passed in silence. Kate lay back down, sunning herself like a lazy cat as if exhausted by her outburst.

"Your still not going to give me a job, are you?"

"Nope. Maybe you are an adult, but I still wouldn't be able to bring myself to send you into danger."

"I suppose I can accept that." She leaned up on an elbow. "I'm still leaving in two weeks time. I'm bored out of my mind and Jenny is going stir crazy. She's not happy unless she's running to or away from something."

"You two could always play tag."

"Been there, done that, almost got arrested by Cardiff's finest for indecent exposure. Honestly though, I don't know why they felt the need to patrol the countryside at the city's edge in the middle of the night. Fortunately the officer who found us was too embarrassed to do more that tell us to put on our clothes and go home."

"Tell me was his name PC Davidson."

"You know, I think it was."

Jack nearly died laughing. "I asked the local police to monitor the outskirts of the city, because I thought some weevils might have set up shop there. I just told them to report anything suspicious. You'll be glad to know Jenny's and your antics apparently don't fall under that category in Cardiff."

"Good to know. I try not to spook the locals when I can."

"So where will you go?"

"Ansterfarius. I've heard it has the loveliest crystal lakes. I've seen a lot of things, but never a crystal lake. I figured I ought to fix that."

"Kid, I have the feeling that you will do that and more."

Of course, the next day everything went horribly wrong and any travel plans were completely forgotten. It started as a quiet afternoon. Gwen and Owen were in the field looking into some mysterious disappearances. Tosh was trying to do paperwork at her desk, without much heart for it. Ianto was somewhere in the vaults.

Kate and Jenny were in Jack's office, distracting him from his work. They had brought in an artifact Kate had picked up in her travels and hoped Jack might be able to help her identify. It was a metal cube covered in complex symbols done in multiple colors. When she pressed certain symbols they lit up. That was all she had been able to get it to do though.

Jack grinned when he saw the box. "I used to have one of these as a kid."

"What does it do?" asked Jenny hopefully.

"Let me show you." Jack tapped several symbols and then dragged his fingers over them. They symbols moved. After fiddling for a few more minutes Jack had all matching symbols in line. The box flashed brightly and popped up. In the center a small glowing orb played the Beetles song "Help".

Jenny clapped her hands and Kate rolled her eyes.

"So for all the snazzy appearance it's just a combined rubix cube music box?"

"Yep. If you out in different combinations you should get different songs. I used to have one that played all the old Cole Porter songs.

As the last strains of the song died away Jack realized there was an alarm ringing. If you worked at Torchwood long enough you became almost immune to beeping sounds. Something was always going off, be it the hub door, a warning about an encroaching alien fleet, or the coffee maker announcing it was done.

This alarm however had a very distinctive wail. It was the 'Hub has just been breached by a known hostile' alarm. Damn, why did this have to happen on a day when Kate and Jenny where in the Hub, and most of the team was away?

Jack bolted for his office door with his gun drawn. The last thing he saw was Tosh slumped over her computer consul before a cold blast to the side of the neck sent him into the blackness of death.

"Jack." Kate knelt by the collapsed Captain checking for a pulse. Jenny vaulted past her already in combat mode. She dodged another laser blast and dove towards the source, a man in a suit holding some sort of screwdriver. If it wouldn't have been completely out of place she would have thought he looked like Herald Saxon the former prime minister.

His eyes went wide when he saw her. "Doctor?" he asked in mild disbelief. Jenny tackled him and they went down fighting. Jenny managed to get a hold of his screwdriver and send it skittering across the walkway. Jenny soon had the skinny man pinned, his arm twisted painfully behind his back.

"Jack's dead." Kate yelled. She had not understood that he had truly died the times she had seen him killed before. Scrambling to her feet, she cursed angrily in several languages not meant to be spoken with human vocal cords, made all the more horrible by the sob she was suppressing. She picked up Jack's fallen weapon and stalked towards the trapped man. "I'm going to kill this bastard!"

"No, as a matter of fact, I think your not," said the man with far more confidence than one in his position should possess. He clicked a small device in his left hand. Everything around them went blurry for a second. From the lurch in her stomach Kate recognized the familiar feel of teleportation.

They all materialized again, Jack's body, Kate, Jenny and the strange man, in the center of a room surrounded by armed human soldiers. Had she not been in a situation of intense stress Kate might even have marveled at the wonder of the picture window, which looked out upon the earth floating in space.

"Your going to let me go, or these fine marines will shoot your red haired friend," said the man in a sharp commanding voice. Jenny considered her options, and with a frustrated snarl, released the man. He stood up with surprising dignity, brushing his coat off.

He cast a cold glance at Kate. "You're going to want to drop your gun as well. You'd be stone dead before you could pull the trigger." Kate narrowed her eyes and let the weapon slowly fall from her hands. Keeping a cautious watch of her surroundings she slowly edged over, until she was standing by Jenny. They faced the room back to back, waiting for the next move to be made.

"Computer, put up a localized force field around the two strangers." A brilliant blue light sprung up around Kate and Jenny. The man smirked when he saw Kate's eyes go wide at the sight of something behind him.

He whirled around with a flourish and blasted the charging Jack with a small laser he had concealed in his sleeve. "Oh don't look so surprised. Did the freak never tell you he couldn't die? Just keeps coming back, makes him rather fun to torture, actually."

He motioned to one of the soldiers. "Just shoot him every time he starts twitching again." That dealt with, he began to circle the force field like a prowling cheetah.

"Now, Doctor, you must tell me how you managed this truly unusual regeneration. Were you trying to come back as ginger and something went horribly wrong?"

"I'm not the Doctor."

"Oh really? Doctor, I know the feeling of your presence like an itch on the back of my neck. Did you really think this body would fool me? "

"No, seriously, I'm not the Doctor."

The man paused mid step and moved closer to the force field, looking suspiciously at Jenny. "Hm, let me check that." He pressed his hand through the force field. Jenny tried to step back, but there was nowhere to run. An invisible force suddenly immobilized her, as if the air around her had turned to cement.

The man pressed his hand against her temple and closed his eyes. Jenny cried out in pain and tried to get away. "Leave her alone!" snarled Kate, as helpless as her friend. After a moment the man stepped back, looking highly amused.

"Interesting," he mumbled mostly to himself, "for the result of stolen extrapolated DNA, you turned out remarkably well. I'd say you rather take after the Doctor's fifth incarnation, but a bit better dressed." The man shook his head as if returning his focus to the present.

He clasped one hand behind his back and made a shallow bow. "Forgive me. It seems that in my assumptions I failed to realize we had never been introduced. I am the last of the full-blooded Time Lords, aside from the Doctor. My name is the Master and you will obey me."

Kate felt a cold shiver of apprehension run down her spine. She retreated to sarcasm, as it was usually the best refuge from fear. "Well that's not presumptuous or anything."

The Master made a strange half smile. "I strive for presumption at the very least." He cocked his head slightly to the side as he looked at Kate, resuming his circling. "Now what exactly are you? I sense you as being both Time Lord and human, except that's impossible. The species aren't compatible, I've tried."

In a supple movement, he leaned forward, reaching trough the force field again and pressing his hand against Kate's forehead. Kate had more mental barriers than Jenny. She had been around psychic species before, and knew enough to at least keep a low level psychic out.

But the Master was over nine centuries old, and she had only been around for two decades. She put up just enough resistance for the Master to tear parts of her mind, shattering memories, as he rooted around like a bull in a china shop.

Kate collapsed, curling into a protective ball when the Master released her. Her eyes were bleeding. Jenny knelt beside her protectively. She glared at the Master, as if silently calculating exactly how much force it would take to snap his neck.

The Master laughed. "So you're Rodageit's kid. Well, he only could ever get anything done by accident."

Kate sat up weakly, clinging to Jenny for support. "You knew my father?"

"Only in passing, always suspected he wasn't quite all there."

"Big words from the guy who calls himself the Master," snapped Jenny.

"Ah, we must all have our own little psychoses. I'm sure I can help you two develop some of your own."

He knelt to retrieve his screwdriver from the floor; it had been transported along with them earlier. He weighed it in his hand thoughtfully.

"I've decided not to kill either of you yet. A bit of nostalgia for my own species perhaps. If little else I'm sure I can use you both against the Doctor."

"Now, I do however think that you, Jenny, are a bit too dangerous to keep around as you are." He held up the screwdriver. "Tell me, do you know what this is?"

"A sonic screwdriver, my Dad had one. You're not going to scare me with that."

"A contraire, it is a laser screwdriver. An infinitely more useful device." He pointed it at Jenny. "Now I could make you a hundred years old, except I've learned that even old Time Lords are dangerous. I think I will do better not to leave you with an adult mind. How about we make your body match your real age?"

He clicked a button and zapped Jenny. She writhed on the floor in pain as her body realigned itself. When she stopped, a very angry three year old glared up the Master. What had previously been her white tank top now dwarfed her as a dress. She tried to speak; but she couldn't get out anything more complicated than "I hate you!" So she just ended up yelling and beating her small fists against the force field.

Kate knelt by the child, pulling her back from the force field wall before she hurt herself. "What have you done? Turn her back!"

"I reverted her body to that of a child's. I imagine it's rather unpleasant for her adult mind to be banging about in the brain of a child's-all those synapses barely formed yet. Considering she's never been a child before, this state might drive her a bit mad. Should be interesting."

The child in Kate's arms ceased screaming and began to sob. Jenny wasn't having fun with the complete loss of emotional control that came with her transformation. Kate tried to rock the child reassuringly, but didn't succeed.

"So are you going to turn me into a kid too? I should warn you I was something of a terror at that age."

The Master shook his head. "No, I'm going to leave you just as you are for the time being. You have just enough fear, hatred, and hidden cruelty to be useful to me."

"If you're trying to recruit me to be your evil minion, shooting my friends and turning my girlfriend into a toddler isn't helping your case."

The Master didn't seem phased. "We shall see." He clapped his hands. "Computer, transport the prisoners, including the dead man, to the cells. Remove all weapons and lock picks while you're at it."

With another jolt of nausea Kate found Jenny and herself in a small metal cell, a still dead Jack in the one beside them. She tried to calm the wailing child, but it couldn't be done.



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