Joss Whedon owns "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and all related characters; Russell T. Davies owns "Torchwood" and all related characters; I own nothing.AN:
I'm so sorry it took so long to update this story. I haven't really been feeling Torchwood lately, but I'm hoping the new series will help me get back into these characters and this story. Thanks, as always, to the amazing RevDorothyL for being a fantastic beta and giving this a read-through. And thank you to beq, bookahalicau, Chrystal, Featherfoot, MarcusSLazarus, and the madhatter for the recs!
Now, where were we?Chapter Twenty-fourWhack
. Buffy smiled grimly as her fist hit the punching bag in her workout room. They were waiting for Tosh to come back with the lowdown on the group that Mark Briscoe's wife had organized and that Suzie had been a part of, but it was going to be a while. Buffy was using that time to take out some of her anxiety about what was going on with their latest case. Whack. Whack
. She had been down here for about thirty minutes while Ianto and Tosh prepped the briefing on Suzie Costello and Pilgrim, and already she could feel the tension slowly ease out of her body.
"Thought I might find you down here." Jack's voice snapped her out of the zone that she entered when she was working out by herself. Grabbing the swinging punching bag, she looked around it towards the door.
"Yay," she muttered, more than a little annoyed at being interrupted just as she was getting into a zone. "Do you get a prize or something for finding the Slayer?" She could think of a prize, but she wasn't sure Captain Fiirts-a-Lot would appreciate having a nice bruise on his eye. Instead of giving into temptation, Buffy walked over to where her water bottle and towel were and grabbed both of them before sitting down to stretch.
"How about an apology to Gwen?" Jack asked, an unsmiling look on his face. Buffy's head snapped up and she stared at him for a moment. "I'm serious, Buffy," he added, a slight frown crossing his face. "What you just did in there was uncalled for and completely unprofessional. She deserves an apology from you, Buffy."
"Do you have any idea of how wrong that thing is?" Buffy shot back, instantly feeling defensive. "What's dead should stay dead, Jack! Messing with it just leads to vamping, and sucking, and world-ending badness."
"Don't think I don't know that, Buffy," Jack replied, an inexplicable look crossing his face for a brief moment before it hardened again. "But that's still no excuse for how you just behaved to Gwen. You either apologize, Buffy, or I'm pulling you from working on this case and having Ianto take you home."
"But...," Buffy began before Jack interrupted her with a shake of his head.
"I expect an apology by the time Tosh is done with the briefing," he told her, his tone brooking no opposition. "It starts in ten minutes." He walked out of the gym, leaving Buffy by herself.
Forcing herself to breathe evenly, Buffy continued through her cool-down stretch, thinking about what Jack had basically ordered her to do, and wondering if she could possibly find a way around it. She didn't understand why Jack was taking Gwen's side in this. Hell, she didn't understand why he was being all willing to use that glove, even though she was more than positive he felt the same way about it that she did, which was that it should be destroyed as soon as possible. That glove was no good. There was something about it that made Buffy want to go throw up whenever it was around, and she wasn't sure if it was just the fact that it could raise people from the dead, or if there was something else about it. She couldn't rely as much on her Slayer senses in Cardiff as she could in Sunnydale. It was the supernatural versus extraterrestrial aspect, she guessed, but she could still tell there was something majorly off about the glove, and Jack was letting Gwen use it not once, but repeatedly?
Was he that wiling to sacrifice Gwen in order to figure out who was killing these people?
"Yeah, that's a good path to think down," she muttered to herself, getting to her feet and shaking out her limbs. "Because Jack is that
focused on the mission." Rolling her neck, Buffy went back to the original problem, that of the apology to Gwen. If she was honest with herself, maybe she had overreacted a little, but she still felt justified in pointing out the threat the glove posed. She didn't see why she should have to apologize for that. On the other hand, if she didn't apologize, she wouldn't be allowed near the Hub while the rest of the team was going after whoever was killing these people who apparently knew Suzie Costello. Buffy wasn't sure her pride meant that much to her that she would let Jack bench her because she wouldn't apologize to Gwen. Besides, he didn't say she had to particularly mean it, just that she had to apologize.
"I might as well get it out of the way," she said, before stopping to wonder why she was talking to herself in an empty room. Shaking her head, she gathered up her stuff and went to the bathroom to change and to think over how best to apologize and make it sound like she meant it. ~*~*~
"Gwen, can I talk to you for a second?" Buffy asked the older woman. She had changed out of her gym clothes in record time, and had quickly gone to find Gwen, who was sitting at her desk looking over some paperwork.
"Of course, Buffy," she replied, putting down the file. She looked a touch apprehensive, which made Buffy feel slightly guilty for the way she had yelled earlier.
"I just wanted to say that I'm sorry for how I reacted earlier, when you were using the glove," Buffy began, doing her best not to fidget and show how uncomfortable this was for her. "I overreacted, and I shouldn't have yelled at you like I did." She paused and took a breath, willing herself to continue and not just stop there like she really, really wanted to. "I get the whole doing what you need to in order to do your job, it's just that... the glove freaks me out, Gwen, and after hearing what happened with the last person who used it, I don't want that happening to you."
"Oh, sweetheart, you don't need to worry about that," Gwen said, getting out of her chair and giving Buffy a hug. "As soon as we've solved this mystery, that glove is going back into Jack's office. I saw firsthand what happened to Suzie when she let the glove get a hold on her, and I'm not going to let that happen to me."
"You better not," Buffy replied, returning Gwen's hug. "I think one person going psycho because of this thing is more than enough.”
“Are you two done having your chick flick moment?” Owen shouted from the doorway of the conference room. “Or are you going to hug some more and let the bastard behind this get another step or two ahead of us?”
"As much as I hate to admit it, Owen does have a point," Buffy sighed, pulling away from Gwen and making a face. "Don't tell him I said that. He'd never let me live it down."
"Your secret's safe with me," Gwen promised, a twinkle in her eye. As they made their way to the conference room, Buffy wondered absently if Gwen and Owen were still... doing whatever the hell they were doing. There had been the awkwardness after the whole Tosh-mind-reading incident, but either they had stopped going behind Gwen's boyfriend's back or they had just gotten better at hiding it from the rest of the team. As much as Buffy hated to admit it to herself, it was probably the latter.
"So, Tosh, Ianto, what can you tell us about Pilgrim?" Jack asked as soon as Gwen and Buffy entered the glass room. Buffy took the empty seat next to Ianto, and took the piece of paper that he handed her. It was a small, yellow flyer, with hand-drawn graphics and text touting the meeting times and locations.
"Pilgrim is a religious support group, more like a debating society, meaning of life, does God exist? All that stuff," Tosh began as everybody looked at the pieces of paper that had been passed out. "The point is, it was tiny, more like a hobby than a serious organization, run by Mark Briscoe's wife, Sara. She had all these stashed in the wardrobe. Handwritten and photocopied, that's why we couldn't find any records. She wasn't even online."
"Any mention of Max or Suzie?" Jack asked, leaning forward and giving them an intent look. Ianto and Tosh exchanged a look before Ianto shook his head.
"No mention of them at all, sir," he answered, sitting down. "It appears that Sara never kept a register of who attended the meetings."
"I don't get it," Owen interjected, drumming his fingers against the table. "No way our Suzie would ever buy into this type of support group bollocks. It wasn't her style."
"How would you know?" Gwen countered, turning to look at him. "I mean, were you her friends outside of this place? Did she ever talk to you about stuff like this?"
"No, uh, she kept to herself," Owen answered after a slight pause. "But I still don't see why she would go to these nutters when she could have talked to us."
"Maybe that's why she went to them," Tosh suggested quietly, sitting down as well. "Because she needed a different perspective that she couldn't get from us." A heavy silence fell over the group as they considered what Tosh said. Buffy bit her lip, and wondered if that was really the case with Torchwood, that it had the potential to mess with you enough to you couldn't even talk to your teammates about what was going on in your head. Was that what caused Suzie to finally lose it?
"It could be," Jack said, breaking the quiet. "You have a point there, Tosh. I think it's time we got to know our deceased colleague a little bit better. We're going on a field trip." ~*~*~
The car ride seemed endless to Buffy, squashed in her normal position between Jack and whoever else was in front, this time Gwen. She watched the windshield wipers move back and forth as they waited at a red light on their way to wherever Jack was taking them.
"What caused her to snap?" Buffy finally asked, voicing the question that had been at the back of her mind ever since this thing had started. "I mean, yeah, I know she went crazy and killed people, but was there something else and this was the straw that broke the donkey's back?"
"First, it’s camel’s back. Second, we've been trying to figure that out ourselves," Jack answered as the light finally changed. "She wiped all of her information from the Hub's computers, and like Owen said before, she kept to herself." Before Buffy could ask her next question, mainly why did Jack hire her in the first place if he knew so little about her, he pulled into a parking lot and stopped the SUV. "Everybody out. This is our stop."
Making sure her rain jacket was on, Buffy followed Gwen out into the pouring rain. They were standing in front of a deserted looking storage facility, one that wouldn't look out of place being home to a nest of vamps. Ignoring the rain seeping down her collar and down her back, Buffy followed Jack before he stopped.
"What is this place?" Buffy asked. "Other than the obvious."
"When you die, Torchwood claims all your possessions, and we keep them here," Jack explained as Tosh went over to the keypad and quickly entered in the code.
"So, let me get this straight? When I die, you get to keep all my stuff?" Gwen asked, slightly incredulously. "What happens if I leave all my stuff to Rhys?"
"We'll stash him away too," Jack told her in a voice that would have been teasing had there not been an extreme overlay of seriousness.
"Lovely," Buffy muttered as the door in front of them slowly opened, revealing a darkened room full of cardboard boxes. Turning on their flashlights, the Torchwood team slowly entered the cramped room that held the belongings of their deceased teammate, looking for anything that either would implicate or exonerate her from the current mess they were in.
"This is all we are in the end. Just a pile of boxes," Tosh commented softly as she and Buffy made their way through the maze of cardboard. Buffy nodded, trying to shake the lingering sensation that they were hunting Suzie Costello's ghost throughout this entire case. Buffy had never met the woman, and it was still like she could sense her out of the corner of her mind, lingering and watching the team grope around blindly in the darkness trying to find some sort of answer. If Suzie's ghost was actually hanging around, like the pair in Sunnydale, Buffy couldn't see any of this ending well for the team or for Cardiff in general, given what she knew of the other woman.
"Ain't that the truth," Buffy replied just as quietly, going over to help Tosh look through the box of books Jack had just handed her. Most of them were non-fiction books about science-y type stuff, but there were a few random books thrown in, like Heart of Darkness
, and Jane Eyre
"Is her father still alive?" she heard Gwen ask Jack.
"We don't know," Jack answered, a hint of sadness in his voice. "Any information we had on her is gone, and she never mentioned any family while she was working here."
"She was always good with computers," Tosh commented, looking up from the book she was flipping through. "She was always good at everything she tried."
"Even murder," Owen added in a bitter, contained voice. "A laugh a minute, that was our Suzie." Buffy couldn't help but get the feeling that the team had never really talked about Suzie's death after it had happened, never really come to terms with what had occurred with their second in command until now.
"Sounds like a lovely woman. Shame I never got to meet her," Buffy said, grabbing another book and pausing to stare at the cover.
"What's that?" Gwen asked, coming to stand next to Buffy.
"The Complete Works of Emily Dickenson
," Buffy replied quietly, looking at the volume in her hand. It was so different from the non-descript book she had checked out from the library in order to impress Owen--god, was it only a year ago? She never had gotten around to reading those poems although she had meant to. Things with the Master had escalated, and then there was Spike... Basically, life had conspired against her to make doing any reading other than for school out of the question. The paperback volume in her hand was slightly worn, like Suzie had flipped through the book occasionally, although there was a crease on the spine, indicating a place that she had opened to frequently, most likely a favorite poem.
"Found it." Tosh's voice cut through Buffy's mental ramblings. Looking up, she saw Tosh hand Jack a familiar looking yellow sheet of paper. He studied it for a moment before looking up with a grim look on his face.
"That settles it," he said, looking at each member of the team. "It's time Suzie came back." Each member had a different look on his or her face. Jack looked determined, not showing any doubt or uncertainty he may have had over his decision. Tosh, on the other hand, looked nervous, unsettled at the thought of bringing Suzie back to life. Ianto's impassive face was a counter to Owen's scowl, and Gwen... Buffy couldn't categorize the other woman's expression. It was a mixture of fear, determination, and something else. Anticipation? Eagerness? Buffy wasn't exactly sure, but it added another tick to the ‘glove should be destroyed’ column of her mind. Not of the good at all.
"Do you mind if I take this with?" Buffy asked Jack as they slowly filed out to the SUV. He looked at the copy of the book for a moment before looking back at Buffy. Maybe it was the odd echo of her life in Sunnydale that was making Buffy want to keep the book closer to her.
"Any particular reason?" Jack asked, stopping to look at her. Buffy shrugged.
"Just because," she answered, unable to put into words the feelings behind her request. "I have a hunch, that's all."
"A hunch, huh?” Jack paused, considering her request before nodding sharply. "Only until we resolve this mess with Suzie and Max, and then it goes back to the storage unit. This is all that remains of Suzie, and we need to treat it with respect."
"Sure thing," Buffy replied, slipping the book under her rain jacket as they walked outside to join the rest of the team. "Back in the box it shall go." As soon as she sat down in the SUV, she pulled out the book and ran her hand over the cover and towards the line in the spine that marked Suzie's frequent readings, wondering what it said about the woman they were about to bring back to life.
So, what do you think?