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Cheaters

Chapter Text

Cardiff, 1939.

The street was empty and silent, save for the echo of music and dancing from the Ritz, nearby, and a young, married couple walking down the pavement on the street outside, speaking to one another.

Until the sound of a violent explosion ripped through the street.

The married couple were thrown backwards against the wall, as a gale of hot-air roared out from nowhere, the ground shaking as if a bomb had just gone off, a scream that seemed to sear across eternity…

And then it all vanished.

The couple looked up. To find a young-looking girl, blond hair with a fringe, freckles dotting her nose, now lying on the street — burned and scraped up, her clothes scorched, her breath raspy.

She was clutching something, desperately, beneath the remains of her jacket.

The couple raced towards her, the man checking her over, the woman soothing her, telling her not to worry, her husband's a doctor — or the nearest thing to it, anyways. They'd help her.

The man hesitated. Looked up at his wife. "Amy?" He raised up the girl's wrist. "Her… her pulse…"

"What about it?" asked Amy.

"She doesn't have one."

The girl opened her eyes. Terrified.

"He's coming for me," the girl breathed. "Chasing me. I got trapped in the rift, and now he's trying to change things. Everything. I… I can't let him find…" She stopped. Looked down at herself, taking out a package wrapped in brown paper — which had, remarkably, survived the blast unscathed.

Amy leaned down. "Who's coming for you?" she asked. "What…?"

That was when Amy caught sight of the inscription on the package. And froze.

"Please," the girl said. Staring into Amy's eyes, thrusting the package at her. "Please. Take this to Jack. Torchwood. Promise… you won't… let anyone else…"

With an exhale and a shudder, she collapsed, eyes drifting closed. Her wrist fading out of reality, just a bit, and drifting through Amy's husband's fingers — like smoke.

He started, in surprise. Jumping back.

"Rory," Amy said, her eyes back on the girl, "did you notice she looks almost exactly like…?"

"I noticed," said Rory.

But the burst of people pouring out of the Ritz to see what happened soon overwhelmed the young couple, as the crowd mobbed the injured girl, trying to figure out what was going on, shouting to get help, shouting for a doctor or for someone to inform Mr. Manger!

The crowd pushed Amy away, Rory struggling to stay beside the girl who looked so similar to the Buffy Summers he and Amy had met in Sunnydale — shouting out to the crowd that he had medical training and everyone should get back!

Which was when someone knelt down beside the blond girl — an older man, with an angular face and beady black eyes, wearing a cravat. Mr. Manger.

Mr. Manger glanced at Rory. "It's all right," he assured him. "I know her. First met her long ago." Scooped her up in his arms, with a strength he shouldn't really have had, and then stood up and tried to make his way back to the Ritz. "I'll make sure she gets back where she belongs."

Amy jerked herself through the crowd. Trying to get to her husband, as Mr. Manger and the blond girl faded into the sea of people. "Rory!" Amy shouted. "Stop them!"

But Rory was already running.

He sprinted after Mr. Manger, pushing his way through the crowd and into the Ritz, his eyes fixed on the retreating form of the man carrying the girl. Thought he could hear the girl gasping, "You!" and the man replying, "You should have known I'd remember."

Then… the girl screamed!

Rory skittered around a corner. And froze. Staring, as he watched Mr. Manger stabbing the girl through the chest with a knife, repeatedly. Mr. Manger paused, glanced up at Rory, suddenly noticing he was no longer alone.

And, not even looking down, Mr. Manger snapped the blond girl's neck.

"You… you…" Rory stammered, edging away.

Mr. Manger said nothing. As the girl's blood vanished from his shirt. The girl, herself, disappearing into the air. "Forget you saw this, Rory Williams. It doesn't concern you."

In the blink of an eye, Mr. Manger was gone.

Rory gaped.

Then raced back to his wife.


"He killed her," said Rory, panting as he arrived outside. "Just… snapped her neck. Right in front of me."

Amy gaped at him. "What?"

"And then both him and the girl just… disappeared," Rory continued, "as if they'd never been there at all."

Amy turned back to the package in her hands. Her eyes fixed on the inscription on its surface. "There's something weird going on, here, Rory. Something bad. But we're not the ones who'll fix it."

Rory hesitated. "But who else could…?"

Amy shoved the package in front of Rory's face. And he stared, as he read the words written onto the brown paper.

For Jack, Torchwood:

Do not open. When Ianto discovers this in your office, you'll know it's time to send it.

— The Doctor.

"The Doctor!" Rory said.

He and Amy exchanged a look. Realizing why they'd been singled out. Neither one knew what had just happened between Mr. Manger and the girl, or what this package was, or who Jack or Ianto were, or where Jack was even supposed to send that package when the time eventually came, but…

Whatever was going on, the Doctor was taking care of it.

And they had to do their part.

"That girl gave up her life on a mission for the Doctor," Amy said. "To deliver this package." She planted a determined look on her face. "It's up to us to make sure she didn't die in vain."

Time to find Torchwood.

And a man named 'Jack'.