1 October 2008
The Pharm was located on a large private estate outside of Cardiff, surrounded by trees and far too much security.
There was an honest to god guard post at the gate.
Owen shook his head as they approached. Jack was driving; the wheels threw up gravel as he slammed on the brakes at the front gate. A beefy guard in a grey jumper approached the open window, and he had a gun in a holster at his waist. It was just plain overkill, as far as Owen was concerned. He’d been around long enough to know this was just one more reason to believe that the Pharm was hiding something. A person just didn’t have armed guards for a research facility, and if it had been doing government contracts the guards would have been at least regular Army. These were private security, and it made Aaron Copley look decidedly shady in Owen’s opinion.
The guard on duty stepped up to the open window, and Jack barked, “Torchwood,” at him.
The guard checked the clipboard he was carrying, and Owen was glad that Ianto had convinced Jack to let him call ahead and make the initial visit official, because the man simply glanced at his list and then waved them on. The gate slid up, and Jack was driving through and up the long, private driveway toward the main house.
Owen had to admit the place was impressive. Multiple storeys, constructed of pale stone with a fancy looking front door where two more guards were stationed, these two also armed and looking distinctly competent.
Jack parked in front of the stoop, slinging more gravel all over the place. The guards didn’t even flinch, which Owen had to give them credit for. Anyone else would have been wary of Jack’s driving just from how he’d made that U-turn in the large area that had plenty of room for more cars. A small side drive led off into the trees, and the medic thought he could just make out a fence beyond.
The three of them exited the SUV, Jack and Owen striding side by side and Patrick taking up position at the rear, and he knew the American had to have looked like some sort of PA or secretary, and not the heavily armed operative he was. Owen sometimes thought that Patrick’s ability to resemble someone completely innocuous was some sort or superpower.
There was a front desk just inside the door, and Jack made his way confidently up to the woman sitting there, announcing their appointment to see Dr Copley. Once again, the word ‘Torchwood’ worked wonders, and they were being ushered toward an office down the hallway, one that had the director of the Pharm’s name on it in tasteful gold lettering.
Aaron Copley’s office was well-appointed, and very neat. If they already didn’t know that Copley was up to something, Owen would have instantly distrusted him just for that alone. Any researcher he’d ever known had had journals and papers strewn about the desk, and the shelves would have been filled with well-used reference books. Everything looked too new and shiny, and Owen figured this was where Copley met with anyone asking to see him who didn’t work for the Pharm.
Jack sat down in the single visitor’s chair in front of Copley’s desk. The man was pretty much what his picture had shown, although the blankness in the pale eyes was much more pronounced.
Owen took up position near the door, in front of one of the shelves. Out of the corner of his eye he watched as Patrick pulled his ‘I’m here, but don’t mind me’ act that he was well known for. How he could practically vanish into the background of any environment Owen didn’t know. He was worse than Dragon Boy at doing it.
Copley was pretty much ignoring them. Owen had to give him balls for that, but then he didn’t know just how dangerous Patrick really was.
Jack though, was lounging in his chair, as if he had all the time in the world. He held the unmarked file folder he’d carried with him loosely in one hand, the folder resting on his lap. He was watching Copley as the researcher kept his attention on a file on his desk, happily prepared to wait him out.
Owen wasn’t that patient, but he wasn’t about to break the silent stalemate between the two men.
Finally, Copley spoke. “I’m afraid you’ve wasted your trip out here, Mr…Harker, was it?”
One side of Jack’s mouth crooked upward in a knowing smile. “Harkness. Captain Jack Harkness. But you can call me Jack.” He slouched even further, as if amused by the whole thing.
Maybe he was. Owen was good by now at reading his boss but this was Jack playing one of his little interrogation games, and it was a game he was particularly good at a lot of the time.
“Captain?” Copley returned blandly. “Where do you park your boat?”
Jack laughed. Owen knew damned well that Copley wasn’t that stupid, and would have recognised Jack’s RAF greatcoat for what it was. “I like a man with a sense of humour. Know any good jokes about clinical trials?”
He leaned over, flipping opening his folder and placing it on top of Copley’s paperwork. Inside were the photos of the three of their victims, looking very dead, and Jack fanned them out so Copley could see each and every one of them.
“Are these supposed to mean anything to me?” Copley asked calmly. Owen bristled at the dismissive tone. “Because, Jack, I don’t recognise any of these faces. And as the institute director, I would have met them personally, had they been our trial subjects.”
Copley was a cool character. Owen had to give him props for not reacting to any of the pictures. Of course, being a researcher he would have seen dead bodies before, but lying to Jack about not knowing them took guts and a certain amount of bullshit to do.
“Mister Copley – “
“It’s professor, actually.”
“But I can call you Aaron, right?” The smile on Jack’s face now was downright predatory.
It didn’t seem to faze Copley at all. Instead, he simply slid the photographs back into a neat pile and closed the file folder, hiding them from view. On a lot of people, it would have been construed as a sign of guilt, but Owen doubted Copley had a single shred of conscience left.
“See, this is a little awkward,” Jack went on. “Two of these people were murdered. Another died of a parasitic infection of alien origin and mentioned your organization's name shortly before she died.” He rested his index finger lightly on the closed file.
Copley snorted. “Alien origin? That’s preposterous.”
Even as he was denying it, Owen saw something in Copley that had him certain that the man was lying. Yeah, he was a cool customer, and it was apparent Owen would never want to play poker with him, but there was just something off about the answer he was giving out so patly. Not that Owen had had any doubt that Copley knew exactly what was going on, of course.
Owen found himself interrupting. “Uh, Professor, when I was writing my MD thesis, your published
works on immunology were very helpful, so thank you.” He made himself sound grateful, hoping to put the man at ease after Harkness’ rough tactics. They needed to know what was going on, and it was apparent that Copley wasn’t going to cave under Jack’s form of ‘smack ‘em over the head’ type of interrogation.
Copley nodded his head graciously. “Glad I could be of service.”
Owen really wanted to knock that smug look off the older man’s face, but he couldn’t do that just yet. “Now, if there was a drug that could restore the human body back to its factory settings, as it were, you would know about it, right?”
“Certainly, but no such drug exists.”
Jack rolled his eyes. “I had a boyfriend once whose nostrils flared when he lied.”
It was all Owen could do not to thump Jack on the back of the head. He’d wanted to get farther with Copley, and that certainly hadn’t helped, especially since Copley’s nostrils did not, in fact, flare, although he really was lying his arse off.
Copley’s smug smile vanished, and he looked at his watch. Standing, he said, “I’m already late for my next appointment. So if you gentlemen would excuse me?”
“We’ll just take a look around then.”
The man’s face went blank at Jack’s comment. “Our research suites are classified, so we can't grant you access to those, but we'd be delighted to give you the PR tour as soon as I can arrange a suitable guide.”
“Normally, Aaron, we usually go where we like.”
Owen wanted to shake his head. Jack wasn’t going to get anywhere, but at this point throwing around the ‘above the government’ card couldn’t hurt all that much. They were most likely going to get tossed out on their arses anyway at the rate his boss was going. Calling Copley by his first name in that sort of tone wasn’t going to get any sort of cooperation anyway. May as well do what Jack was good at: bull his way through and damn the consequences.
Copley gone back to smug bastard mode. “Not here, actually. Ask Whitehall. We're fireproof.”
“Yeah, I had a bad experience with a politician recently. I tend not to listen to Whitehall any more. Nor do I really have to.”
Like they all hadn’t had a bad experience with the self-same politician. Harold Saxon still gave Owen nightmares, and he hadn’t been the one who’d been the Master’s prisoner for a bloody year. It made him really wonder sometimes just what Ianto had to put up with when Jack dreamt.
Then he decided he didn’t want to know and would suffer his own bad dreams in silence.
Copley though wasn’t about to let Jack get away with his usual bullshit. He came around the desk, passed by Patrick as the man was lounging against the bookcase, and pulled the door open. “Let me get someone to guide you back to your vehicle.” He made a motion outside, and two security guards, a man and a woman, appeared in the open doorway. The man had his hand on the butt of his weapon, and Owen didn’t even want to take a chance with the woman; she looked perfectly capable of kicking his arse all the way back to Cardiff.
Owen had expected Jack to argue, but instead he accepted the two ‘escorts’ and let them show the trio out. Owen was a bit surprised, but then Jack was well aware that he and Patrick weren’t as immortal as Jack himself was and there was enough firepower on display that Owen doubted even Patrick could fight his way deeper into the facility, even with all the deadly weapons he knew his teammate had on his person. They were gonna need back-up if they were going to take on the Pharm.
“Was it me,” Patrick commented as they made their way down the short set of steps and to the SUV, “or was he a bit touchy?”
“Noticed that, did you?” Jack used his wrist strap to unlock the vehicle’s doors, and the three of the climbed inside. “So much for the polite approach.”
Owen snorted, because sure as hell that wasn’t at all polite. “We need to turn this place over.” He was more than certain Copley was behind the Reset now that he’d met the man.
Once behind the wheel, Jack touched another control on his vortex manipulator, and the thing beeped. “Oh yeah. According to these readings this place has the highest concentration of alien life forms this side of the Rift.” He slid his seatbelt on. “And grey is so not her colour.”
Glancing back over Jack toward the entry, Owen could see that Jack was right. Grey wasn’t that woman’s colour at all.