: I hold no rights over any copyrighted material. The Torchwood and Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters all belong to their original owners. Alison and Seo are mine.
And, speaking of Torchwood, with this story, we're almost up to the very beginning of the Torchwood series, in terms of timescale! Hurray!
(The next story in the series is the story where Seo meets Gwen Cooper, who is, at that point, a newbie.)
I didn't bother to filter out the bad words, in this particular story. I felt like the story required Suzie to use them.
So... yeah. Enjoy this story!
Next up is "the Most Dangerous Alien You'll Ever Meet."
(I really do need to go back and actually post "the Prophecy of Harkness" at some point. Otherwise that line about Xander, in this story, doesn't make sense. Along with a bunch of other things in later stories. Damn.)
In Seo's defense, she'd never actually expected to wind up in Cardiff in the first place.
But… they were chasing this alien, see… and one thing kind of led to another, and next thing they knew…
"Paddington station!" Alison shouted, racing forward, her feet thudding against the pavement, as she analyzed the alien tracker in her hands. The alien tracker that Seo had built.
"Paddington?" said Seo, back, darting forward. "You mean like the bear?"
They burst into the station, to find people everywhere in a panic, one person already lying on the ground, wounded, and a number of others calling for an ambulance and the police.
"Torchwood!" Seo shouted at the nearby ticket booth vendor, flashing a leather wallet at him as she vaulted herself over the turnstile.
"Me too!" Alison added, scrambling to keep up.
She snatched the wallet out of Seo's hand, as they raced across the platforms, towards the shrieking crowds of people and the weirdly glowing figure in the distance.
"This is a coupon for two free pizzas!" Alison accused.
Seo snatched the wallet back. "I've found," she replied, still running full pelt, "that if you're chasing an alien, shouting 'Torchwood' and flashing a bit of paper is usually all you need to get into anywhere! It doesn't matter what the paper actually says!"
"Are you ever going to properly explain what Torchwood actually is?" Alison asked.
They turned a corner, and there — just on the platform, in front of the train, was the alien! It spun around, facing Seo and Alison. Seo stepped forward, a determined expression on her face. Her hand outstretched.
"It's over," she said.
The alien grabbed up one of the nearby civilians, an alien gun pointed at her head. The doors to the train behind him began to close, as he stepped onboard.
"No!" shouted Alison, leaping forward and managing to catch her foot in between the doors just before they closed. Seo pried them apart, and they raced onboard, just before the train doors shut and the train lurched into life.
"That way!" Seo said, as they caught sight of the alien dragging the hostage into the next cabin.
They rushed after it, fast as they could go, pursuing it all the way to the back of the train. When it realized there was nowhere else to go, it turned, looking back at them, holding its hostage even tighter, terror on its face.
"Just give us the weapon," Seo said, "and we'll let you go. Really."
The alien gave a harsh, bitter laugh. "What's it to you? The weapon doesn't hurt humans."
"If you use that weapon," said Alison, "hundreds of your own people will die."
"They deserve it!" snapped the alien. "Do you know what my people are like, the self-obsessed little bastards? I tried to blow up one minor continent — just one! — and suddenly, it's 'homicidal maniac' this and 'massive psychotic episodes' that, and next thing I know, I'm being sentenced to exile on a class-five hellhole like this!" His eyes glowed with anticipation. "Well, let's see how they like getting their molecules dissolved!"
"You don't want to do this," Seo pleaded. "If you use that device—"
"Yeah, thanks for the tip, kiddo," said the alien, shoving the hostage out of the way, as the transporter in his hand activated. "But you were the one who fixed that 'device' for me in the first place. Remember? And then, because of my nice little sob story, you even built me a transporter, so I could get home." He grinned at her. "Little miss naïve."
The hostage scuttled away, into the next car forwards.
"No, really," said Seo. "Trust me. You don't want to do this."
"Actually," said the alien, "I really, really do." Then pressed the button.
Seo and Alison shielded their eyes, as a blinding white light shone out from the transporter, wind whipping out from its center and pouring through the train car, blowing hair in Seo and Alison's faces. The alien, laughing, waved at them, then disappeared inside of it.
Before the light sealed itself away, and there was nothing left of the alien, transporter, or weapon.
"All right," said Alison, trying to catch her breath. "Where did that transporter really send him?"
Seo grimaced. "The Cleveland Hellmouth."
Alison gawped at her. "You sent him to Hell?"
"Well, it was a little hard to tune exactly
where it sent him." Seo sat down on one of the seats, her face looking a little glum. "If he's lucky, he'll wind up just outside of it and run into my aunt. Then she'll take the weapon away from him. But… more likely…" She gave a small shrug. "Yes. I sent him to Hell."
Alison sat down opposite Seo, her back against the window, feet up on the seats. "You've got a bit of a ruthless streak to you, you know?"
"I told him not to use that thing," said Seo. "If he'd handed over the weapon, I'd have sent him somewhere more pleasant."
"Like into a volcano," Alison agreed, "or maybe just outside a black hole."
Seo didn't answer. Just sat there, refusing to meet Alison's eyes, saying nothing.
Alison leaned back, crossing her arms. "You do realize," she put in, "that we're now on an express train to who knows where, and neither my parents nor your mum have the first idea where we are?"
A small smile slid up Seo's face. "Brilliant, isn't it?"
"You like traveling to random spots without having the first clue where you'll wind…?" Alison stopped. Shook her head. "No, wait, don't answer that. Of course you do."
Two hours later, they arrived in Cardiff.
"Should have known," said the police officers, the moment they spotted Seo. "Hear about trouble, and it's always bloody Torchwood behind it."
"Yes, Torchwood, exactly," Seo agreed, trying to drag Alison off the train and away from the many police officers waiting for them, before they could get questioned too closely. "Situation's taken care of. No need to worry."
Alison stumbled after Seo, trying to put the pieces together in her head. So… Seo's mum had to drive three hours to get to 'Torchwood'… and these people recognized Seo…
"This is where it is!" Alison whispered, in excitement. "This… alien-fighting special forces group you and your mum are part of. It's in Cardiff!"
"Shhhh!" Seo whispered, back.
Alison did shush. She also listened. Listened to the police officers radioing in their contacts, telling them that the train situation had already been looked into and resolved by 'special ops', and could their team hurry it up with the evidence from the latest murder case, please, before Torchwood stepped in and destroyed all the evidence, again?
Seo, beneath her breath, swore.
"What?" asked Alison.
Seo grabbed Alison by the hand, pulling her forward. "Time for you to meet Torchwood," she said. "We've got a resurrection to stop."
"Wait! Explain again, slower," said Alison, rushing to catch up with Seo. "Torchwood… fights aliens who kill people. And… we want to stop them… why?"
"Because, this time, we have to," said Seo, still running. She glanced over at Alison. "All right — crash course. Torchwood. Five members. Not counting Buffy — Mom — because she's freelance." She counted them on her fingers. "First. Jack. Don't drink anything he gives you. Because it'll erase your memory."
"Right, then," said Alison.
"Second, Tosh," Seo continued. She gave a small grin. "She's my friend. She's good with computers. And she let me cry into her shoulder for days after that thing with Xander."
"What thing with whom?" asked Alison.
"Third, Owen," said Seo. "Doctor of aliens. Patches me up when I'm injured. But he's a little abrupt. And he's breaking Tosh's heart, so I'm a bit angry at him."
"Uh…" said Alison, as they turned a corner.
"Fourth, Ianto," said Seo. "He's one of the all-around cleverest people there. And desperately sad. I don't think the others have quite worked any of that out, yet. He helped me kill a demon, once. Also, he forgave me for accidentally almost ending the world, when I first came here, so I like him."
"Accidentally almost ending the world?" Alison double-checked.
"And fifth and finally… there's…" Seo stopped, dead, in her tracks. Then pulled Alison by the arm, and yanked the two of them out of sight.
As a woman with curly brown hair and a metal glove tucked under her arm walked by.
"Suzie," Seo whispered.
A group of four other people — including, Alison noted, Jack himself — emerged from a nearby SUV, following Suzie, all talking at once. One of them — a short, Japanese woman — stopped Suzie, speaking in a hushed voice.
"I always like to make sure I know where she is," Seo whispered, tugging Alison along, towards the police cars and yellow tape. "And what she's doing. At all times."
They managed to sneak their way past the yellow tape, hiding in a nearby dumpster, Seo illuminating the darkness with a little pocket torch of hers. Then dumping things out of her pockets, and beginning to assemble an item, fast as she could.
"Why?" asked Alison.
Seo grimaced. Then, leaning in close, said, "Because she's insane!"
Alison raised her eyebrows at Seo, who continued assembling her gadget.
"Also, she wants to murder me," Seo continued.
Alison gaped. "What, really?"
Seo glanced up. "Yes, of course really," she said. "Last time I talked to her, she told me — and I quote — 'If I were running Torchwood, I'd have you shot between the eyes the way alien scum like you deserves.'"
Alison's jaw dropped. "She actually said that?"
Seo shrugged, as if completely unaffected by this. "Well, she didn't use the word 'scum'." She finished her device, then attached it to the outside metal frame of the dumpster, as the voices of Torchwood rang from outside. Then activated it.
"What does that do?" Alison whispered.
"Stops all psychic activity inside the resurrection glove," Seo whispered, back, as a chorus of increasingly disappointed-sounding Torchwood voices echoed through the air. "So they can't use it to bring the murder victim back to life for 90 seconds."
Alison stared. "But… why stop that?" she asked, in a harsh whisper.
"Because it's sick and twisted and cruel," said Seo, a dark look passing across her face. She pointed to the side of the dumpster, towards the murder victim. "Those people were innocents. Innocent victims brutally murdered. They're at peace when they're dead. The glove forces them back. Back to that moment of pain and misery and horror. You bring them back just long enough for them to realize they're dead and there's nothing they can do but suffer, and then… you kill them, again!" Her hands shook with suppressed rage. "It's disgusting."
"But they could identify the murderer!" Alison insisted. "You could use it to stop crimes! Save lives! You could—"
"And the ends justify the means?" Seo snapped. She looked away, wrapping her hands around her knees. "No. There's a right way to do things, and a wrong way. And the glove is the wrong way. Always."
Alison opened her mouth to say something else, when a familiar voice suddenly came from just above their dumpster.
"—almost like some sort of highly focused psychic disruptor beam," Jack said. "Coming from right about…"
The lid of the dumpster opened, and Jack looked down at Seo and Alison, pointedly.
"You two having fun in there?" he asked.
As Alison and Seo climbed out of the dumpster, Alison was a little surprised to find that Seo — for once — wasn't looking sheepish or bashful or nervous around Jack. Not the way she usually acted, when she knew she'd done something wrong.
No, this time, she met Jack's angry gaze with her own, steady one. Leveling just that same stare at him that she'd given that alien, back on the train, one that was filled with self-confidence, conviction, and not an ounce of uncertainty.
That was when Suzie came over, her eyes blazing, her fists clenched — like she was just barely stopping herself from smacking Seo across the face.
"You piece of alien shit!" she screamed.
"Woah, Suzie," said Jack, trying to step in the middle of them. "Calm down."
Suzie pushed past him. "Is this what you want?" she demanded, waving up a silver, metallic glove in Seo's face. "I know you've felt it, too. You want to take the glove away from me. Make them think I'm incompetent, so they'll let you use it instead of me!"
Seo stood her ground, her hands clasped behind her back, her face showing not a single trace of fear, worry, or jealousy.
"I don't want it," she said, simply.
"Don't give me that!" Suzie snapped. "We all know, if I dropped dead, tomorrow, who'd pick this glove up and start using it. Just so you could 'show off to mummy'." She scowled, as if the words were revolting to her.
Still, no reaction from Seo, just that level, steady gaze.
"Using that glove to resurrect people," Seo explained, in the same steady voice, "is wrong. It's wrong when you do it, and it would be wrong if I did it. It's cruel and barbaric."
Suzie threw up her hands in the air. "And using it to torture the fuck out of someone before burning them to death is fine?"
A brief flicker of hesitation across Seo's face. But it was gone in an instant.
"Those are innocent
people," Seo said, her voice still not raising. "Innocent souls, who've had to undergo a traumatic and miserable death. You're dragging them back from peace and tranquility for 90 seconds of pain, agony, shock, and emotional trauma."
"It's more complicated than that," said the Japanese-looking woman. She shook her head. "And anyways, we have to do it. To catch the killer. You'll… understand when you're older."
"You're wrong," said Seo. "You don't have to do it. You have a choice, and you're all making the wrong one." She looked right into Suzie's eyes, as if pleading with her to understand. "I've seen what happens when you drag them back. I've seen them crying, hysterical — sometimes even screaming. How can you do that, over and over again, and not see it's heartless and inhumane?"
"Inhumane?" Suzie exclaimed. She gave a bitter, disgusted laugh. "Inhumane?! Who are you to tell me what's humane and inhumane, alien?"
"All right, that's enough!" Jack shouted, grabbing Suzie away from Seo.
But Alison wasn't about to let this 'Suzie' get away with something like that. "And who are you
?!" she shouted, stepping forward.
Suzie's jaw dropped open. "Excuse me?"
"You heard me," said Alison, her voice shaking with anger, now. "Who are you to pass moral judgments on Seo, Miss If-I-Was-Running-Torchwood, I'd-Shoot-Seo-In-The-Head?"
Around them, everyone's jaws dropped. Staring at Alison, as if she'd just gone mad.
"Why… you… lying…!" Suzie started.
"All right, seriously, break it up, you three," Jack demanded. "Now."
The three backed down. But Alison made sure to keep herself between Suzie and Seo. Because… Seo was right. Suzie absolutely hated her. And if Seo thought Suzie was out to kill her, Alison wasn't going to second guess that.
But she'd have to go through Alison, first.
Jack turned to Alison, his arms crossed. "Okay, then. First off. You. Shouldn't be here. At all."
Alison didn't take her eyes off Suzie. "Seo thought she needed me," she said, in a quiet voice. She flicked her eyes back to Jack. "So I had to come. No matter what the risks."
A hint of hesitation in Jack's eyes. Then he turned to Seo.
"You know the rules and regulations," Jack said. He pointed to Alison. "Bringing her into all of this goes against every single rule in the handbook. Stopping the glove goes against even more."
Seo didn't answer.
"If anyone else on my team did what you've done," said Jack, "they'd find themselves out of a job and retconned. Why should I make an exception for you?"
Seo met Jack's eyes with her own.
"Because deep down inside," she said, very quietly, "you know I'm right."
They said nothing for a few long moments. The two just staring at each other, in a dark Cardiff alleyway.
Then, at long last, Jack sighed. Dropped his hostile posture.
"All right," he said, in a gentler voice. "You win."
The Torchwood team gaped at Jack.
"You've got to be joking!" snapped Owen.
Jack gave Alison and Seo a charming smile, stepping in between them and putting an arm over each of their shoulders, leading them off into the night. "Tell you what?" he said. "How about the three of us go out somewhere for dinner, and I can explain Torchwood to Alison a little better?"
Alison exchanged a look with Seo.
"Oh, no," she said. "He's going to Men-In-Black us, isn't he?"
Seo didn't catch the reference. But clearly could work it out based on the context. Squirmed out of Jack's grip, yanked Alison away from him.
"Run!" she shouted at Alison.
And the two ran off into the night.
"Is Jack going to stop them from using the glove, again?" Alison asked, when they were back on the train, heading towards London.
Seo shook her head. "He's always been against it," she said. "He's just there because he knows they'd do it anyways, even if he wasn't around. And it's better if they do it supervised than unsupervised."
Alison nodded, slowly.
Seo turned to her friend, a small smile on her face. "Thank you. For coming with me. I…" She cringed. "Suzie scares me. A lot."
"Any time," said Alison, with a smile.
Torchwood was shouting at Jack for letting Seo off the hook. Saying it wasn't fair, that Seo was purposely antagonizing Suzie, purposely messing up their experiments, purposely flaunting rules that Jack had claimed couldn't be broken by anybody.
What could Jack say?
Staring into those eyes of hers, seeing the way she stood, the way she spoke, the moral conviction flooding through her — and her companion, standing by her side, defending her all the way…
She wasn't the Doctor.
But she got pretty damn close, sometimes.
"Legally, we don't have any jurisdiction over her, anyways," Jack told them, flipping out his mobile. "I handed all rights to incarcerate, punish, or deal with Seo in any way over to Buffy."
Which wasn't completely true. But was the story he'd go with, for the time being.
He dialed the number.
Grinned, as he heard Buffy's voice, saying, "Jack?"
"Buffy!" he greeted. "You'll never guess who just paid me a visit."