Hearts

Chapter 4

Stephanie of course remembered nothing about weevils or Time Lords by the next morning. Ianto's kind offer of ice cream had in fact been a fiendish way to retcon the girl. Kate realized in retrospect why Ianto had specifically handed the glasses out, making sure Stephanie got the spiked one.

Kate was angry, but there wasn't much to be done about it. She had liked the idea of Stephanie knowing who she really was; she wanted to show her the TARDIS. All the same she knew the impossibility of telling her the truth. If nothing else at least she could talk about the TARDIS with Jack and Tosh.

It was on Kate's fourth visit to the hub that she accidentally arrived during one of Owen's autopsies. She arrived as usual on her way home from school, scurrying into the hub after Ianto let her in through the tourist office. She waved hello to Jack, took a peek at what Tosh was doing on her computer, and then hopped down the steps of the surgery taking them two at a time, as was her habit.

She froze abruptly in mid leap, hand clenched on the rail. She took in a sharp breath, letting it out as a muffled squeak as the meaty sweet smell of death hit her. She had only ever seen bodies made up in funeral homes, never the stiff limbed, ugly grayness of true death. It didn't help that the man laid out on the table had been the victim or a particularly violent murder; his head half smashed in, one shoulder half torn from his body. Owen looked up from where his hands were buried in the chest cavity and cursed. Kate shook her head and the bolted. She made it to one of the upstairs wastebaskets before she threw up.

Jack stormed down the steps a moment late. "Owen what the hell is wrong with you? I know you have the bedside manner of an exacerbated vole, but even you should know better than to let a thirteen year old see a body."

While Owen might have apologized before, Jack's anger now made him defensive. "Oh, get over yourself, Jack. It's not like the kid's an innocent to the evils of the world; she was perfectly able beat off a weevil with a boot. I think she can cope with a dead human."

Jack threw up his hands in frustration, "What she can and can't cope with isn't the point. We have no right to make her deal with any more trauma than necessary. Honestly Owen, have a little compassion. Cover the body with a sheet next time, alright?"

"Fine."

Jack gave him another sharp look and stomped back up the steps. Owen took his time removing his spattered autopsy coat, and putting his normal lap coat back on. When he figured enough time had elapsed for everyone to calm down he picked up the scanner and headed upstairs.

For someone who was supposed to be traumatized, Kate seemed remarkably calm, if a tad more pale than usual. She sat on the Torchwood couch with a cup of hot cocoa in her hand and a hovering Gwen fussing over her.

Gwen shot Owen a dirty look and then headed back to her own desk. Kate smiled weakly at Owen. "You seem to have an alarming talent to make me to vomit."

"At least I'm good at something."

"I'm sorry I reacted like that."

"Well don't let it bruise your pride. I turned green as a tree frog on my first day in the dissection lab back in medical school."

"You always reminded me more of a gecko."

"Hey!"

Kate quickly switched topics. "I heard Jack yelling at you. Was he very angry?"

"A bit, mostly just indignant on your behalf. He likes playing the protective big brother. He only really has about three ways of relating to people; he flirts with them, protects them, or fights them. One or all are fine with him so long as he gets to be in charge."

"I guess you fall into the 'fights with' category."

"Wouldn't want to be in the other two," said Owen with a shrug. "Now stand up I want to get this scan done before I forget what I came upstairs for."

Kate stood and Owen ran the scanner over her a few times, then jotted down the numbers and words that appeared on the screen. "Congratulations. You are no longer loudly broadcasting your status as an eligible Time Lord female."

"Glad that's over with. I don't like the idea of being on the radar of every psychic species around, especially if there are more carnivorous ones like weevils out there. I really hope this thing is not going to be every month like it is for humans"

"I doubt it. Species that go into heat usually only do it once or twice a year, at least on earth. We can fall back to scanning you once every week now. If your hormones don't shift, we might even be able to do this every month."

"Can I still come to the hub?"

"You'll have to ask Jack about that."

"It's alive!" Jack looked up to see Kate running into the hub. Ever since the night of the weevil attack it had proven almost impossible to keep her out of the hub. Every day for several weeks afterwards, and now once a month she had had to visit so Owen could run a scan on her in the hopes of figuring out how her hormone cycles worked. To make life easier for everyone, Jack had taught Kate how to get into the hub on her own through the tourist office. Kate had seemed to take this as an open invitation to visit the hub any time she wanted, often darting in on her way home from school to chat with Tosh about technology, say high to Jack, talk to Gwen, annoy Owen, or hit up Ianto for a snack. As pleasant as the teen's company was, her continued presence in the hub worried Jack. The hub had repeatedly been the center of trouble in the past and he didn't want to girl caught in the crossfire. On a more practical level she was also hurting company efficiency. The team found the teenager to be a very tempting reason to take a break from paper work, and some reports weren't getting filed.

Kate leaned against the railing trying to catch her breath. She was still wearing her much-singed lab coat, and her blue goggles bounced around her neck. Her red hair was sticking up at odd angles that could only be achieved by pulling several consecutive all nighters.

"What's alive?" asked Jack hoping it wasn't another slime monster. Two in one week had been more than enough.

"The TARDIS!"

Tosh's head popped up from behind her computer. "You finally woke it up?"

Kate nodded excitedly, "Yeah. I tried that reboot combination I found in one of the manuals. It worked. The whole ship is humming on the inside and the chameleon circuit is even working again. It looks like a garden shed."

Tosh was on her feet in an instant heading for the door. "I have got to see this."

"As do I," agreed Jack snatching his coat up off a chair. "Gwen, you're in charge while I'm gone. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"That doesn't consist of much."

"Exactly."

When they arrived at Kate's home there was indeed a new garden shed. It was also on the opposite side of the garden than it had been before.

"Did you take it for a test drive?" asked Jack suspiciously.

"Maybe. Not through time and space or anything, just across the garden. I didn't even teleport; I flew it, perfectly safe."

"You said that about pushing the blue button on the TARDIS console, and you know what that caused," said Tosh.

Kate rolled her eyes. "All I did was cause it to snow."

"In July, over exactly one city block. We had fun explaining that to the weather station."

"Whatever, come see." Kate grabbed Tosh's hand and pulled her towards the TARDIS. It was alive and beeping inside. The center consul hummed with energy and glowed with a sort of golden light. It rather reminded Jack of the Doctor's TARDIS, but without the coral, and a bit more singed looking. They still hadn't found a way to scrub the ash of the ceiling.

"Oh you were right, this is so exciting!" gushed Toshico, pushing her glasses into place and darting around the room to look at the flashing lights. "Show me which controls you used to move the TARDIS."

Kate pointed at a mix of levers and knobs, one of which rather looked like a car steering wheel. "Well these are simple forward, back and sideways controls. I think this lever here lets it levitate." Jack's hand clamped over hers when she reached for it.

"Let's make sure your damn certain of that before you try it. Torchwood has a strained enough relationship with the local weather station as it is."

"Aw, your no fun." Kate grumbled.

"Sorry, Kate. This is a time machine, not a toy. No more test-drives until you can convince me you're absolutely sure you know how it works."

"Well I kind of know, and I'm very good at figuring things out."

"Not well enough yet," said Tosh, giving Kate and apologetic look. "This is alien technology. If anything goes wrong and you end up in the wrong time or place, we might not be able to help you. Jack's not saying you can't ever fly the TARDIS. He just wants you to familiarize yourself some more with the instruction manual first. I'll help."

Kate sighed. She looked disappointed but not crest fallen. A bit like a child just given a guitar who has discovered there is more to learning to play it than just hitting the strings. "Well alright"

Jack smiled. "So do I have your word this ship won't move form this spot until I say so."

"Yes. You have my word. Although I still say this proves your turning into a boring old man."

"You don't know the half of it kid."




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