Hearts

Chapter 2

-Six Months Later-

It had not been a good morning at Torchwood, what with the multiple weevil sightings, the rodents of unusual size in the sewer and the coffee machine breaking. Jack was sipping dejectedly at a cup of tea when Tosh knocked on his office door.

"Hey Jack. You know how you asked me to monitor that house on the outskirts of the city for any unusual activity?"

Jack set his tea down and nodded slowly.

"The computers just picked up some sort of brief energy surge. Also a police report just came in about neighbors hearing an explosion, something about the Caylan girl blowing up the garden shed again."

Jack scrambled to his feet. His mind running through all the worrisome things an adolescent time lord might have done to cause a small explosion. It seemed Kate was more prone to mad scientist antics than her mother had admitted. He hoped she was all right. He quickly gathered up the team and headed out.

A quarter of an hour later the torchwood van arrived on scene. It was a small old house well on the outskirts of Cardiff, surrounded by a sturdy wooden fence and sizable flower garden. They found Kate in the back garden spraying a large charred metal box with a fire extinguisher and cursing angrily in welsh. Her mane of fiery hair was thoroughly singed and her goggles and a green rubber lab coat were covered in dark smudges.

"You okay kid?" called Jack.

She gave the box one final blast of foam and set the fire extinguished down. "Yes Captain Jack, I'm unhurt." Now that she knew Jack was not a malevolent Time Lord she was considerably friendlier towards him. She pulled off her goggles revealing a raccoon like ring of unsmudged skin around her eyes. She ran a hand through her hair, wincing at the crinkling sound the burnt ends made. "I can't say the same for my hair though. My mom is going to kill me."

"From the looks of it your lucky this didn't," said Owen pointing at the smoking box.

"Nice to know your still a git Doctor Harper," she said smiling. She wriggled out of her lab coat and examined the melted bits. "You might be right though. This really didn't go according to plan. I had no idea the inner workings of the TARDIS would combust when I tried to revive them."

Jack was taken aback. "Your mother said your Father's TARDIS was beyond repair. What are you doing mucking about with it?"

"Speaking of which where is your mother. Does she know what your up to?" added Gwen giving Kate a stern look.

Kate sat down to pull at a partly melted rain boot. "Oh she's out of town. I wouldn't try this if she were about. She doesn't like me messing with the TARDIS, she thinks it's too dangerous. You're not going to tell her are you?" After Kate made several unsuccessful tugs, Gwen sat down next to Kate and gave her a hand.

Jack rolled his eyes. "That has yet to be seen. Now what exactly were you trying to do?"

The boot came off with a loud pop sending Gwen and Kate tumbling backward. Kate sat back up and started on the second boot. "Like I said I was trying to fix my Father's TARDIS. He told my mom it was broken, and he couldn't fix it. But he was rubbish at fixing things. I read up on some of the books he left and figured out the TARDIS wasn't dead, just in a sort of deep healing sleep."

"Wait? You can read Gallifreyan?"

"Yea, it took me a while, but eventually I managed to figure it out. So anyway I thought I knew how to wake it up. Seems like it wasn't so happy about it though."

"You're going to try again?" asked Ianto giving the box a wary glance.

"Soon as I figure out what I did wrong." With a final tug the second boot came off. Kate flexed her foot, reassuring herself that all toes were present and accounted for.

Jack frowned. "I don't think you working on this on your own is a good idea."

Kate looked up at him curtly. "Well I'm still going to, and you can't stop me."

"We could take your TARDIS. What with being a big powerful secret organization and all," said Owen.

"You have no right!" She sprang to her feet looking about desperately with her ashy raccoon eyes. "You can't take it away. It's the only thing my father left me. Without it I'll have to spend my whole life on this boring planet!"

"Hey earth isn't that boring," protested Jack. Kate glared at him. Jack held up his hands. "Calm down, I won't take the TARDIS. I just don't want you blowing yourself up or opening a hole in time. How about we help you? Torchwood has a lot of resources. With your natural aptitude we might be able to fix the TARDIS or at least figure out how it works. Hopefully with fewer fires."

Kate glanced at the box and then at her signed hair. "And when it's finished will you take it, or leave it to me? I've heard about you lot. You're always grabbing up alien artifacts."

Jack was sorely tempted to take the TARDIS. It would be an incredibly useful tool for Torchwood. On the other hand it was far too advanced for this time period or for humans in general. It was probably be best to learn what they could from it and then leave it with the girl. She had a biological right to it.

"I promise we won' take it."

"Alright then. But what about my mom, are you going to tell her?"

Jack gave her a mischievous shrug. "Well I don't see that we have to tell her about today's accident if you can hide it. We'll need an excuse to come back work with the TARDIS though. I could say Torchwood just want to study it and not mention anything about the repairs."

Kate nodded. "I think she'll agree to that." She extended her hand to Jack and he took it.

"I believe we have ourselves a deal."

Janice provided less resistance than expected in allowing the access to the TARDIS. She seemed to have warmed up towards Torchwood now that she was sure they posed no threat to her or her daughter. If anything she seemed fascinated by them and constantly pestered them for information about the aliens they dealt with.

Jack at first told her it was all classified, but when she proved to know more about certain species and artifacts than he did he gave up and told her anything that wasn't incredibly confidential. Janice had already been married to an alien; she could clearly keep a secret.

Janice even seemed a bit glad that Torchwood was providing a free babysitting service and distracting Kate from her usual habit of slightly volatile experiments. She told Jack, "I don't think you'll be able to find out much. That box really is just a burned out shell, but I won't stop you from looking it over. Just be careful and don't trample on the garden or cause any fires. Kate can play with you lot once she's done with her homework."

Despite a promising start the TARDIS did not prove very easy to repair. Kate worked largely with Tosh and Jack, Tosh for her computer skills, Jack for his knowledge of alien technology. They usually worked on afternoons or weekends when either Tosh or Jack had time or just needed a break from dealing with more serious matters.

Jack found it odxdly comforting to spend time with Kate and her mother. Torchwood made it so easy to forget that there were still people out there just living their lives in peace. It was good to watching a child growing into a young woman.

After a few months of study Tosh was able to create an alternate power source that could bring some of the mechanical parts of the TARDIS back on line. The biological heart of the TARDIS remained slumbering and impenetrable. The chameleon circuit remained broken, and TARDIS maintained its outer appearance of a singed box.

It's insides however sprung back to life. With the revival of it's mechanical parts the TARDIS became once again bigger on the inside, and allowed the access to the rooms that had not been destroyed in the crash.

Many of these were of little interest, a kitchen with an interesting fungus colony in its refrigerator, an unremarkable bathroom aside from its yellow ducky shower curtain, a plain bedroom, and mildly interesting wardrobe. Who would have thought one Time Lord could have collected so many socks.

It was the library and the lab that proved fascinating. The lab was full of half built things, most of which were best left alone, or at least not casually poke at. Jack had to go through and separate all the dangerous, and reactive chemicals that had been left too close together. He managed not to get killed, but after a close call with a poisonous gas, he was glad he had done it instead of his considerably more mortal team members.

He had to wonder what regeneration Kate's father had been on, and how many had been the result of careless mistakes. It wasn't that any of Rodageit's inventions had malice intent; it was just that they were volatile, pushing the rules of chemicals, mechanics, and physics. Clearly the man hadn't had a smidgen of common sense, or self-preservation instinct.

The library at least proved more benign. It was full of books from countless planets and times in countless languages. Because the heart of the TARDIS still slumbered it could not help them read any of the books that were not in earth languages. However with the help of a translating program from the Hub and Jack's knowledge of a few more common alien languages Tosh, Jack and Kate set about studying the library. They soon realized it mostly consisted of technical manuals, and journals of experimental science. It was not exactly the great the window into the universe Kate had been hoping for.

Kate had some use for the technical manuals but she found the journals useless. As she said to Jack, "A third of them describe impossible things, a third are incorrect, and a third are just silly. I mean honestly, why would I want to make an atom tap dance, or turn gold blue?"

Kate however did not tell Torchwood about her greatest discovery. Jack came upon her one afternoon sitting in the shade of one of the gardens trees reading something. She set the book down quickly upon seeing his approach. Jack noticed.

"What ya reading?" Jack said sitting down beside her companionably.

"Nothing much"

Jack used his superior arm length to lean around her and snatch up the notebook. It had a simple brown leather cover. It's pages were worn smooth around the edges from use.

"Hey give that back!" snapped Kate.

Jack smiled mischievously, "well you certainly seem to care a lot about it for it to be nothing? Is this your diary, full of your secrets? Things you haven't told your mother, grudges you keep against your friends, boys you fancy? Girls you fancy?" He playfully held it out of Kate's reach. She bit her lip and said nothing.

He flipped the notebook open and was about to pretend to read it when he noticed that it was written in a strange alphabet he really couldn't read. The script tumbled across the page in a fluid scrolling script that could not possibly belong to the messy adolescent.

Jack snapped it shut and handed it back to Kate, with an odd sense that he had trespassed on something sacred. Kate held it protectively against her flat chest glaring at him.

"What is it?" he asked softly.

"My father's journal. I found it in a hidden compartment in the cabinet by his bed."

"and you don't want me to see it?"

"I don't want Torchwood to see it, and you are Torchwood. This isn't a technical journal. It's a record of his life before he came to earth. It's got his private thoughts. Strangers shouldn't read those."

"I wouldn't ask to," said Jack quietly. They sat for a moment in silence.

"So was he the man you thought he was?"

"Kate stared at her feet. "He was selfish and very self-centered. He didn't care about anyone beside himself, regardless of the consequences. Some of the things he talks about in here sound unethical."

Jack placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder. "You know he probably changed a lot when he came to earth an met your mother."

Kate looked up at jack her granite grey eyes pained. "How much can anyone really change?"

"Quiet a bit. I used to be a conman and now I'm saving the world on a regular basis, or at least trying to. Well at the very least I'm keeping the weevil population down. If you live long enough life has a way of changing you."

"I want to believe that, but it's hard. The man in this journal doesn't sound like the one my mom talks about. It makes me wonder if anything she's said about him is true. What if she lied? What if she made up the whole story of him having to leave, what if he chose to abandon us! Maybe he didn't want a family. Maybe I'm the reason he left mom."

Kate wasn't the sort to cry when she was upset. A solitary childhood had taught her to keep things within herself. She drew up her knees and hugged them, hunched her skinny shoulders like a vulture and turned her gaze down. Jack drew back his hand realizing from the tension of the muscle beneath that such comfort was not welcome. Just as he had learned when a hug or a pat on the shoulder was needed, he had also learned how to tell when a person didn't want to be touched.

He spoke carefully, treading on eggshells. "I can tell you from a very reliable source that the Time War did happen, and that the Time Lords were wiped out. I can also tell you from my own judgment of human character that your mother doesn't seem to be the sort who is very good at lying. What she told me about your father sounded like the truth. You're her daughter. You know her best. Do you really think she would lie to you?"

"No, she wouldn't lie to me." She tugged absentmindedly at a strand of hair. She had cut it to a length just under her ears after the first TARDIS incident. The new look had the disconcerting affect of making her look older, less childish than her long locks had.

"It would be a lot easier if I could hate him you know."

"So you wouldn't have to grieve him?"

Kate shrugged. "Well I can never exactly grieve someone I can't remember. The thing is that over all these years the way I best know my father is by the grief he caused my mother. She's never completely gotten over him, she's always carrying this heavy pain around with her at the back of her mind. She's good at hiding it, but I know it's there"

"The way she tells the story of him leaving he sounds all noble, but sometimes I wonder if there wasn't some other way. Couldn't he have hidden, or ran, bargained with or fought the other Time Lord. Anything so that we wouldn't have to live our lives in the shadow of death."

"And yet you're trying to rebuild his TARDIS. That smacks a lot more of life than death to me."

"I just want to get off this rock."

"That's what you keep saying, but with your way with technology I suspect you could eventually create another form of transport if you really wanted to. I'm not saying your father did completely right by you or your mother, but he did protect you both. I think you respect him more than your willing to admit. Your following in his footsteps, that's why our fixing the TARDIS."

Kate's laughter was warm, like hot water across frozen hands. "You should be a psychiatrist."

"I tried that for a while. I kept ending up on the couch with my patients."

Kate uncurled herself and looked at him thoughtfully. "You know I have no idea when to take you seriously or not."

"That's the way I try to keep it." He stood stretching languidly and offered Kate a hand up, she accepted.

"So are you going to be alright?"

She shrugged noncommittally. "I usually am."

"Will you show the jounral to your mother?"

"No, I think she's better off with her memories. Let her remember my father as he was on earth, not who he was before that."

Jack nodded and turned to go. "That is probably for the best." Jack walked away leaving Kate to return to her reading. Was it just him or did everyone he knew have abandonment issues?




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