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Freefall

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Callen hadn't really been wanting a murder or a kidnapping or anything of the sort - it's just well, he was just bored. Bored out of his skull. He'd taken to practical jokes to try to trip Sam's SEAL training up somehow, with a bit of help from Deek's and boy did he never think he'd have to say that ever. Kensi had been going for the junk food with a real sense of loss of dignity while Nate had been hiding since Kensi had hurled said junk food at him for telling her to ease it up a bit now. Kensi quite rightly decided to do it after the comment about how she might put on a pound or two and wouldn't that have been bad?

Hetty had actually been off the charts which was more than unusual for the team who'd been waiting for her to appear at any given moment. There weren't things she didn't know about already and here she was - missing right now. The only two people who looked like they hadn't gone crazy within the past two to four months of constant and incessant paperwork - and Sam would've liked to known their secret to the peaceful keeping partnership because within the first 2 weeks he'd been ready to throw G out of the roof window with hardly any regrets, although it could have been the fact that Eric's enthusiasm for doing anything that ignored actual human conversation that paperwork was done happily - had been the Wonder Twins up in Ops.

Thankfully towards the end of the last month Hetty decided to make herself known to the general public again spilling everyone's coffee's in the process having shocked them. She wouldn't say where'd she been as per usual. The paperwork had begun to even out a little as well and the OSP team thanked anyone they could find that someone was looking out for them.

However it was also around the time that Eric started to get twitchy. Very twitchy. Actually if they all thought about it then they'd notice that every Christmas or July he was twitchy more than he ever happened to be; He'd always check over his shoulder if he was out with the team or ask Nell to run yet another scan to certify her laptop wasn't bugged. He'd ask Sam or Deeks if they could help him practice sparring and the weirdest part was that whenever he spoke to 'his folks', he'd never look happy about it. Like he was keeping something horrifying from them. Mind you this was NCIS strictly undercover style so maybe it was that...

 

"Mr Callen, Mr Hanna. A word in your ears if you please?" Callen and Sam had been working a case for the past two months now both suspecting a suspect was a man involved in heavy gang duties and dealing - dealing what they didn't know and weren't over-keen to find out - The only reason it was even in their jurisdiction was because a Petty Officer.

Hetty watched on as the pair made their way over bickering to and fro neither missing a beat after each sentence to start on the next. What she had to say next would annoy the pair no end but knew it had to be done. Both came to a standstill in front of her and her desk which she was currently sitting at.

"I'm afraid that the DA would like the local police to handle this one. Before you start Mr Hanna, it looks as if they have caught the man in question because he was hanging around their station at the time. Let this one go. That's all" Both men grumbled as they found their way back to their seats. Hetty regarded her two oldest agents with a smile and a roll of her eyes.

The agent had just been about to make a fresh batch of tea when the shrieking whistle came through for the group to make it up to the main sector - they had another case already. Brilliant.


Strolling into OPS had made Callen feel much calmer than he had in a while, what with his case lost just now and paperwork for what felt like half a year and all - hopefully this case would actually get solved and by them! Nell stayed by her station as the rest filed in with Eric doing his usual spin round and giving out information on the case so she could operate the board.

"Ladies and gentleman, please welcome the incredible talents of Danny Devirro, 32 and married. Has no kids but an excellent job working as? What, no guesses?"

"If you don't mind Mr Beale, we are in a hurry"

"Sure. He's obviously one for NCIS seeing as his wife of only just recent weeks - Linda Foster-Jane is a shrink for PTSD sufferers although before she married - she actually used to have Danny on her books seeing as he served in Afghanistan"

"Now that is twisted form of fate, don't cha think?" Deeks absentmindedly mentioned

Callen had just been about to press Eric for the details when Eric's own personal phone rang. Hetty looked on in distaste but allowing him to have the option of whether to answer or not while the rest just stared on. The man never had his phone on at work as far as they could see and this was just weird especially when the technician operative tried to carry on filling them in trying to block out the noise. After five or so minutes of constant ringing, it looked like the caller gave in but much to the surprise of the room - except Eric who rolled his eyes then looked ashen faced - the caller instead left a message for him.

A voice Eric hadn't heard for a long while.

"Hey Eric, didn't I tell ya to answer this phone so long as you shall live? I swear if I come back and see your head stuck on a spike or something, I'll bring you back just to kill you myself. And lemme tell you, that one is no picnic. We need your help. I need your help. We're working on this case - I'll fill you in on the details myself since I'm guessing the reason you didn't pick up is because you're with those fancy ass agent people and I have no patience to tolerate stupid right now. Either way we happen to be working on this case and it's got a bit of activity only problem is guess where it's sending us? That's right. L.A. I don't know if we'll be working together on this one as a co-team or not but I need you to be on our side. You're still one of us. Make sure you have your ID. I'll get Tosh to ring when we land. Even if I won't like 'em, they're still your friends at least. We'll keep em safe Eric, I promise"

Eric regretted not picking up the moment that that man's voice filtered out from speakerphone and all of a sudden a crash of voices came onto him at once; voices that looped one over the over not giving someone else a chance to speak. Hand gestures everywhere, there were shapes of some sort but people he now couldn't make out. The last thing Eric saw was the face of a now extremely concerned Nate.

Eric fainted.

Chapter Text

The man couldn't remember when he last fainted. It must have been when he first got to grips with the Rift and that there was more beyond their lifetimes and planet - with a man in a blue box flying round their universe protecting it..oh and the pretty little fact that he found out his boss couldn't physically stay dead. Quite literally.

Moreover he now had the worst migraine known to man and an even worse feeling in the pit of his stomach. Nate apparently was still hunched over him with the rest of the gang to the side. Rose had ran up straight from Autopsy to check he was okay as well but after being given the all clear from her, she left quite quickly only leaving a plastic cup of water next to him. Clearly she'd picked up on the ever growing tension.

 

"Eric. You know I don't like to push to let anyone tell me things they don't want me to know until they're ready but as the operational psychologist here and to ask for the rest of the team since they don't want to, I have to ask if you committed or are thinking of committing treason? We have never heard of this person before and he has your personal number which I don't think even any of us have. And is this really the best way to go about solving your past issues.? Obviously the man on the phone was familiar and it looked like you went way back"

"No to the treason thing and he has my personal number because he needs it, probably more than you guys do and it's on a safe and secure line... And yes we do"

"And you didn't think to let us know this vital piece of information Mr Beale? If we are having yet another interference then rest assured I will bring it to my utmost attention with your present attitude toward the team and have you thrown off this team quicker than you can gesture a goodbye"

"I don't want to be rude or lead you guys on anymore than I have been or might do in future but I can't explain. I'm not allowed too. Even if I wanted too. All you have to know is that before I joined NCIS, I lied on my form. After completing my degree, I spent a few years or so with a team instead of just joining up with you guys. All on a need to know basis. We...did..good". As Eric then stubbornly and softly thought - I've been keeping you safe. Away from the underworld.

"You did good, that all you gonna say or are we gonna have to meet my friend punchy?" Sam started but instead of making an apology Eric had rolled his eyes. Really at times, Sam tended to remind him of a certain team leader when he wouldn't get his way.

Turning back round to face Callen and the rest now, he knew he had to remain in control and pretend to have an incredible idea. In short it was the one that would keep everyone (hopefully) happy and Eric, sane.

 

"How about we invite them up here after they've landed? You can meet them and see what I did before this? Or as much as we can say. As they said we might be sharing this case and we'll need to trust them, right? I know I do but you guys might need some extra help here. So I'll just go call my boss back" - At which point he remembered Hetty was his boss and had been for the past however many so years and cringed inside. He also remembered that he'd stated he was happier in Ops never wanting fieldwork ever again. The moment when he was almost frelted and it was all thanks to Deeks for forever keeping that word and imagery burned in his mind.

This was going swimmingly already. A look to his left as he exited from Callen said it all.

'Oh, God'.

Chapter Text

The Torchwood team had been dragged so far out of the Hub and the Rift that they'd grumbled about it throughout half their journey to the States. Touching down had always made the team feel a bit wobbly underfoot; They could hunt, catch and sometimes kill aliens but they couldn't handle a touch of light turbulence?

Tosh had just been about to try ringing again when she noticed a text message sent while they had been in the air then smiled to herself before turning to speak to the team.

"Jack? I have a message already. It says for us to an abandoned warehouse. The walls and gates are painted a faded but crisp white on the outside and there's a car which is quite flash parked outside as well. No make, just the word flash. No proper location. Guess we'll be wondering the streets a bit"

"Never did go for a proper job that had a easy to find location, did he?"

"Come on, we're burning daylight. Quickest way to find him is to actually start looking"

 

Eventually they'd found it and were all exhausted from their flight as well. A slightly shorter yet sprightly older woman came into view. With a look of murder on her face. Right. Good start.

"Good evening. You must be those people that my agent said were coming. Welcome to NCIS. While you're here I want no arguing and no trying to harass or coerce my agents into joining your agency. And do not give out our our location. Here is where we do our deep undercover work and keep everyone under protection so it will stay that way. Do please come in"

Hetty led the team in whilst noting that every single one in her team had been waiting for their arrivals and how they spoke to one of their own. The man in question had been left standing next to his partner on the last step hanging onto the railings. It began like a stand off to see who would go to who first when eventually Torchwood gave in first. Eric himself counting his blessings as Jack came to shake his hand and talk - Eric didn't think he could handle that intense eye contact if that had been kept up any longer. The tension there had been mounting since the phone call, sadly he knew it wouldn't go instead getting worse with every step.

Especially if they found out the main truths. Jack had clearly also been watching to see how his old team mate had been handling the intense pressure so far having been away for so many years - well, since 2003 if he was going to be pedantic about it.

 

"Eric"

"Captain"

"Good to see you"

- "Hi Eric! Lots have gone on since you left. Suzie left us but not in the not in the happy way as I'm sure Gwen filled you in on, Jack left but came back and don't we at least get some form of a proper hello?"

"What are you talking about? Right, yeah. Suzie. Fill me in later about the other stuff over a movie and popcorn? Just like old times, Tosh. We can game as well if you want? Awesome. Hey Owen. Good to see you're looking better than they said you would. You, er, over that, uh injury?"

"Eric. Good to see you're looking well mate. I want a physical on you later, no matter what you say or if you put up a fight - I'm still your doctor. Got it? And yeah, almost recovered completely if this job is anything to go by, learnt to embrace my troubles, something odd happened and I saw one light at the end of the tunnel. Got everyone 'ere helping me even if I never wanted it in the first place... Anything weird 'appen lately?"

"Right, great. We all know I love check up season. Nope, nothing to report anyway. Not anything than the usual at best. Mostly our night crawler friends. Yes, I have the sprays you sent me and all the other inventory that Ianto sent me. Thanks by the way, I'll update all the other things to later"

"Likewise Eric." Chimed in Ianto. All members of Torchwood, past and present aware of their surroundings and personal space noticed that both teams were now all standing in one big circle between them. And here OSP yet again started another bout of overlapping voices.

Now that he'd experienced it once, he found out that it was actually rather tedious. All this was; was them asking him the same questions over and over and over again. Ones he knew, that unless they knew he could never say. Then again maybe he could find a loophole round the system? Fight back like Gwen did for Rhys?

What would Jack think though? The others? He'd have to go up against all of them. Most of all what would NCIS make out of all of it? Would they retcon them after this case was all over? Was it even their choice or Eric's? Surely it was theirs if they found out? Too many thoughts clouded his nice clear view from earlier this morning. He'd have to find his sprays and arm himself properly again. Be alert more than he was at present. There went his relaxation time.

Then the worst two thoughts hit him with another for good measure; What if they wanted to join the fight?

What if any of them died during this case or after? What if they died all because of him?

 

Typical. Bloody Torchwood.

Chapter Text

Dear Eric,

Not much will have happened or gone by as you receive this. I may not even be alive still. You know who will make sure of that. To be honest I miss you and your friendship. Your geeky fun. How you always went up against everyone. Made people question our rights and wrongs. Always putting up a fight. You were always the golden child weren't you? I was just someone to that secretive man but I digress.

Just know that before...

Before the glove. I was happier and freer. The glove took me and turned me into someone obsessive - I need to understand it and we could use it to help someone properly come back, don't you see? The things we could have changed and added to the world. My actual contribution to society - I was your friend. I can't reiterate that part enough. I don't know whether I still am, I suppose, I avoided you at every turn and even when you said you were leaving us for something less 'off the charts weird' I still wouldn't let you ever come near me. I now wish I had. Maybe Torchwood needed you. Maybe I did. And I didn't want to admit it.

You see - I never had many friends in my life and yet I did. I had you and the team. Maybe I was hurt or angry that you were actually getting out and trying to save yourself. Have a safer life somehow away from all this but who are you really kidding here? No one escapes this job or lives to draw a pension. You know this. Why are you running away trying to prevent it when it was inevitable. Maybe that's why.

I know you told Ianto last. You were always good mates with him, weren't you? You never told each other anything but you were mates even if you went a month after he joined.. I know you told Jack second to last but Owen and Tosh together. I know you didn't want them to each find out alone. I guess maybe you thought they'd lean on each other - you always were some sort of matchmaker, weren't you? Trying to get Jack and Ianto together at the same time has continued to make me laugh.

But why did you tell me first? Maybe you wondered at how I'd react or you didn't trust me as much as the others. Or because you just thought we weren't as close as we used to be and didn't want your going away to be affected by someone not worth your time.

It's still the same old, same old. There's been a lot less death, I guess.

I wish you hadn't decided to leave because right now I think I need some of your sense to help me get through this. I wish you'd told Jack not to even think about picking up the glove because out of all of us - maybe except Ianto - he'd have actually listened to you. Maybe that means something. Maybe that's why you've chosen to go down this new route.

It's never without it's problems though. Did you even attempt to tell your new team whoever they are how you do have evil in you? How you can cause someone pain. Cause destruction.

Jack always said you were destined for greatness.

You've always wanted to help people. Whether they were of this galaxy or not. I could never say the same thing. Some people never want to believe that there might be some evil in everyone and neither do you but it'll come back to haunt you.

Why do you get all the good chances? Why did Jack pick you? How did he find you?

What's your past? You won't tell us anything. I guess that's why you clicked here - with us - no one ever mentions their past.

I'm sorry

Eric Beale. Defender of the Earth. Tech extraordinaire.

Eric Beale. The one who doesn't know what he's heading for.

Chapter Text

"So how you doing Eric?"

"I'm good Jack. How's the Hub?"

"Still standing"

"And you guys?"

"Coping"

"I heard about that year by the way. I'm sorry you had to go through that horror Jack"

"Yeah. It was tough but we all got through it"

"Yeah but I'm also mad at you"

"Me, what did I do?"

"You know exactly what. You ran off with no note. Do you think when you're gone, I don't talk to the others? Or that I'd have noticed your absence. Oh and thanks for telling me you're back safe and sound by the way"

"Well of course. Who else would you want to speak to? I get it though Eric. I guess I left you in the dark as well. We've moved past it now. Can you?"

"Yeah but next time I won't. You scared me just as much as the rest of your active team"

"Noted"

Hetty had stopped waiting and started walking towards her tech operator. Eric upon seeing her physically gulped starting to take a step toward Callen; No matter what happened - Hetty was scary to the point of sometimes downright terrifying, and now standing next to him. The visitors, definitely not aware of this fact moved to stand around their man.

"Mister Beale? I'd like a word in your ear"

"I know what else you'd like" Owen mentioned in passing but completely forgot why as Hetty tugged on his ear bringing him down to her height.

"And you are?"

"Owen Harper. I'm a doctor"

"And you will continue to be one if you never use that sort of sentence near me ever again. I'm sure we can come to that agreement. Are we clear Mister Harper?" Owen nodded as she let him back up, okay, he was adding something to his list; Do not piss off Henrietta Lange.

 

Even then still standing in a circle ten minutes later, Torchwood wouldn't let Eric leave without some form of back up which infuriated Sam who to no end was overprotective of everyone at the best of times but this? This was taking it way too far. All she wanted was a word and if it had anything to do with the fact to question who these people were and why he hadn't mentioned that he'd originally worked for them with another question about where his loyalties lay was fine and dandy with him.

Hang on - who even were they?!

"Who even are you? How do I know I can trust you? Cos I got a gut instinct telling me you're not who I think you're telling me you are. I got another telling me you're trouble. The serious kind"

"Someone you need right now"

"We don't need people to let us know how to do our jobs" Callen put in backing up his partner.

"Yeah well, think again"

Nate arrived back from filing downstairs at that point but sensed the tension while seeking out who was at the point of it all. He knew there was about to be an all out brawl and carefully got out of the way.

No one really took notice of him as he did so. Then he saw Eric. Ah, well this was new.

 

Nate had let it descend into utter chaos before he stepped in - at least before anyone got another punch in - and did something he wasn't really proud of. He yelled.

"Guys!" Finally he had every single's person attention on him.

"Mister Getz, what is the meaning for your supposed timed interruption?"

"I'd like a word with Eric if I can? Alone, outside and without any violence if possible?" The home team were perfectly fine with this as Nate was almost on the same wavelength as Hetty for hitting the ground running in fear but again Jack intervened once more.

"Absolutely not"

"Actually I think you'll be surprised to find out that I am the shrink for the team and only Eric has a choice in whether he comes or not. No one else. Not the team or you guys. Just him. His choice to tell me what he wants and his choice what he decides to hold back. I'm looking after someone's mind here. Unless you'd rather we do it here?"

"Eric, why do you need a shrink? Did something happen that we didn't know about sweetheart?" Gwen started checking for injuries almost instantly until Tosh patted her arm and spoke up for the first time to the other team and for hers.

"I'm sure if he was, he'd have told us, don't you? And Jack? Maybe it's best if he does talk to Nate. He is a psychiatrist so maybe if Eric is feeling low, he'll be able to find out if it's not under confidentially, right? And as he said, it's Eric's choice. He's not who he was with us, I think the hard edges have gone or have been tucked away unless something happens, something big - and it's a lot less dangerous than back home, he's someone else who we have to get to know" Ianto voiced his agreement with her nodding towards Eric and Nate before going to shake the other group's hands warily.

"Fine but just know I'm not happy about it"

Eric rolled his eyes at the same time as Ianto's smiling at each other as they did so from opposite sides of the room now. He was going to have to voice his own opinion as well or they'd literally stay by his side for the rest of the time they were here. Tosh was right. He was a completely different person than he'd been. He had yet to decide whether that was a good thing or not.

"Jack. Guys. Stop mother henning me. And thanks Tosh...for understanding. Nate's just going to ask me some things like he always does. It's a monthly eval for everyone, as he said - gotta make sure the mental part of me is all good - I bet I just happen to be first. And we'll discuss who each of us are and what we do when I come back up. Just...stop for a minute and just talk about anything trivial? Please?"

Nate guided Eric out of the room knowing he'd just lied. None of the mental health checks were happening until 2 months from now. Eric Beale had just lied. Something people thought he couldn't do. Comments just slipped out like when he told Nate that he and Nell had kissed or that sometimes he wished he could have looked out more for certain people - which now he was coming to understand who exactly he meant - Mind you he was clearly going to continue from the guilt on his face. Only Nate would have been able to catch it in time.

Okay. Now he was intrigued.

 

 

Eric walked out of OPS wondering what Nate actually wanted to talk about. He had a sneaky suspicion though.

"So Eric. How are you doing? I haven't checked in on you a for a while"

"I'm doing okay"

"Really? Honestly because the fight I had to yell over was saying a different story"

"Just because I worked with Jack and the others in Cardiff before I came here does not warrant a fight breaking out. All Hetty wanted was a quiet word where she would undoubtedly tell me where the door was especially if I didn't tell anyone who the hell they are. I am different to who I was but I can't do that to them, leave them without explanations. They're important to me. But so are you guys and I don't need protection from you guys. I just.."

"Want them to understand you can work together?"

"Yeah"

"So this job you had. Cardiff's a long way to come from L.A and back. What kept you there?"

"A lot of things. The actual job was half the fun. And half the pain"

"So you left because of it. You didn't want the pain anymore"

"Exactly. I got a call from one of you when I hacked something and I did it again and that's where I got involved with NCIS popping up on their radar. I left because even with the sights I'd seen and the people I'd met - I knew this wasn't something I could easily let go of like with other job's I'd been offered. Seemed like a place where I could relax a bit more for one" - One where I don't have to defend Earth daily and worry about being in my 20's so much.

"Did something happen in your last job that I should know about?"

"I don't know. I can't tell anyone about it. It's sort of a 'you need to find out for yourself'. Just know it was important yet at the same time really screwed you and your mind over but not something you can forget so don't bother giving me an infamous pep talk that I might be able to move on because you and I can both see I can't, damage is done"

"Right. Why?"

"Classified"

Nate noted at how his whole demeanor turned around when he started to press for more information on the last job he'd taken. He'd have to take a different route.

"So what was this job called"

"I said I'd tell everyone at the same time. Not fair to play that game with me Nate. The job wasn't easy to let go of, I can say this only so many times y'know. I doubt I ever will be able to. It follows you round. The things I've seen and the things I've done. You would be hasty to judge. I know I was when I first found out. Hell you may not even like me if you do ever find out! I just, I don't want for it all to fall apart especially if we have to work together"

"Eric. I know you need support here not a... defensive launch missile. I'm here if you need to talk it through. Nothing changes between you and me whoever you happen to be. I won't judge, I've got no right too. And I bet Deeks won't either"

"Thanks Nate, that means a lot to have at least someone on my side. Wait, what?"

"You're not fooling anyone Eric. At least not me. I know his opinion matters to you"

Eric pretended not to hear the end of that sentence choosing instead to scuff his shoes on the railing a little ways outside Ops even if it might be true even if he was unsure about Nell. Nate waved his hand back to the room they'd left deciding they'd spent enough time talking, they needed to go back in. Much as Eric didn't want to..

 

Eric pulled up his own file then gave the nod to Jack. It was time.

Jack made his way to the forefront of the room and started talking. All attention on him.

"Eric Beale. Early twenties - 28 if you want an actual age - MIT trained. Major gift in hacking and general technical operations. Claimed he once broke the internet or at least that's what we heard over the phone once he'd done so. Either way he and Tosh are pretty much tied although I think she could win you over now Beale.

Recruited in 2003 under my command. Described as a young man in serious trouble when I found him both in mental and physical state. Worked alongside Suzie Costello for two years as partners until she left to go work on something solo. Worked with everyone here standing before you. We're a major team unit, small but efficient. We have to be. Mainly specifies in background work but has used firearms and stun guns, we're hands on at our job, you have to be active or die trying. I'm guessing you look surprised that he's handled weapons and such and hasn't yet as such here. For the record - excellent shot.

Expert field agent and genius with computers. Easy to get along with. Hard worker and good under pressure. Will do anything to keep anyone safe. Has a few weaknessness much like anyone would although not many. Won't let anyone help if he feels like he doesn't need it. Doesn't leave work early even when suggested. Sometimes fragile.

Canary Wharf. 2007. Can't go into details but it brought down one of our organisations which actually started off my idea of leading this place. We aim to be better than that one.

Suzie Costello. Pronounced officially - finally dead in 2007. I'm sure Eric heard what happened and it's his choice whether he says so or not.

Eric Beale was a brilliant addition to our team. Did and said things he would never have been able to. Job is not without it's dangers though much like yours.

Eric let us know in advance when you rang him up. After a month or so of him wandering to take it or not, he did. He knew that it would be difficult to leave but thought it best for his own sake. He now gives us regular check ups so we know where he is and how he is. As I said this job is dangerous and can affect your mental well being. But Eric's a trooper and has not done or said anything out of character, which trust me, makes me happier to no end.

We miss him. All of us"

Here Jack stopped letting NCIS know he was finished and waiting for someone to speak.

"That's all well and good but uh and I'm sure Eric here won't mind me asking but who exactly are you? What's your organisation name?" Deeks questioned.

Together they all answered with Eric's voice mixed in as well;

"Torchwood"

Chapter Text

"Torchwood? I've never heard of that before. What's that?" Kensi asked as they got over the shock of them speaking as a collective, more Eric himself having joined in than anything else before they all smirked at one another afterwords clearly all not having been able to guessed he better respond before Jack did. No one wanted to be stuck there for an extra half hour. He remembered they still had a case at least. Plus it might get some of the team off his back for a second or so, he was hiding far from enough from them.

"Outside the government. Beyond the 21st century is when everything changes. And we gotta be ready" Eric almost had said that they tracked down alien life but managed to cut it off quickly breathing a sigh of relief, nevertheless Deeks had picked up on it already with his cop instincts tuning in. Or maybe it was because he was really fine tuned into Eric but he definitely did not want to go into those specifics just yet or maybe ever. He softly spoke - and if he dared to admit it inched a little closer towards him - to the man. Yeah definitely ever.

"Eric? I know you hesitated"

"People who've done bad things. I work much like I do here"

"And the bit about the 21st century changing and being ready?"

"Deeks" A warning in his voice. He always went too far and edging too close to the truth. They couldn't get this out, he couldn't afford to to let them, he couldn't afford to let himself be freaking out like this! Still trying to keep his breathing even, he held Deek's gaze.

Owen spied the underlying tension first, coughing to erase their continued eye contact. He couldn't take it with Jack and Ianto for Christ's sake. He would not put up with these two as well. Did that Nate bloke know? Did even they know? . Jesus Christ, they'd only been here for an afternoon. Hopefully like the professional and fine tuned Torchwood agent Eric had turned - and proved - out to be, he'd concentrate more on the case and deal with feelings later.

Who could say though, no one knew who Eric really was anymore or NCIS or did they?

Bloody hell on Earth, this was doing his nut in. It was at times like these, Owen wished he could drink again.

"Sorry but we can't really say who we are. It'll blow our cover. Trust me, you never want to know what we do for a living. I found out back when I was a copper myself so I know the struggles and pressure of not knowing of what you're going through right now and I'm sorry in advance. Truly"

 

Callen unsure of how to go about asking more questions from Eric got sidestepped anyways.

"No asking me questions about it. It's best it stays secret. All you need to know is that we're called Torchwood. And that bit about everything changing. We do need to be ready and I think Torchwood is. That's all. Please, just let this one go?" As he was pleading for them to do so, Vance's face popped up on screen sitting up in his chair hands clasped on the table in front of him.

"I don't think we'll be able to. I just got the tip off from SecNav. You're to work together on this case. Torchwood and NCIS OSP. I want no fights or arguments over this. I don't like it any more than you do Agent Callen but rest assured Torchwood are more than equipped to deal with this and they have the priority to assist you on this case, it falls under their jurisdiction or so I'm told. Play nice" With that he logged off leaving both teams to the case.

Their new case.

Chapter Text

"So, care to fill us in?" Jack had grabbed Eric's chair sitting smugly in it arms folded above his head and acting if he didn't have a care in the world. As if he now owned the building. Torchwood had ended - by the end of Jack's constant antics - setting themselves up on NCIS's desks with their gadgets and laptops. Some which L.A hadn't even wanted to question - especially when they saw their own teammate flinch at one while one of the girls - Tosh if they remembered correctly who had started to get the giggles at this motion. Eric just gave her a well trained glare, she bloody well knew he hated those things.

Sam really did not like these guys and he absolutely felt like being inclined too by the young man always up in Ops. But then Eric also happened to be one of them or at least used to be, so did that mean he had to hate Eric? As far as he knew the boy - which he admitted wasn't much - a little weird and geeky but otherwise...he was an all round okay guy. Knew what he was doing, good at this job even if he goofed off sometimes - but when didn't Sam himself? - seen too much at such a young age already, sure but then hadn't they all? Besides Eric wanted his team now to like his team then and they were working together, maybe they might learn something from each other, who knew?

Okay, for Eric's sake, and for his sake only, he'd try and play nice. He'd be able to get the others to play ball alongside, he was certain. Plus this meant that they could get closer to who and what this team did, accomplished and hid. Moreover it would be a way to figure out who Eric was as well. Just maybe.

 

Deeks had come round to sit beside Eric for the briefing noting the tech was now getting more than a little jumpy with his old team there. That and his sudden readiness to follow Torchwood and do whatever they said without questions - the guilt of having lied this far and continuing it by the sounds of things. If anything his face showed it. You could always tell how the techie was doing by his expressions... or at least the OSP version of him. He just had to hope there were no skeletons in any of their closets they had to dust off.

Not for the first time did he admit to wondering what his life would be like without having joined NCIS and staying as a straight laced LAPD cop. At least he knew what went on in those walls. Here though...

Just for once in this job, he'd like the truth.

Owen edged towards Jack, and further if he dared say it, away from Hetty Lange. Talk about not fuelling any extra fires and besides he finally admitted - and would forever say to so to anyone ever - she was downright scary and he was terrified plus he had the extra bonus of not having to see googly eyes from the two men - well four -if he could help it. Owen decided he'd start it off with the medical analysis and then they could be filled in on the rest of the details.

"So far the latest test results from your dead petty officer show to be one of drug use but I think there's something else burrowed deep in there which we just can't get at just yet. Something else might be alongside it wedged in there hidden by all the narcotics he was pumped full of but as I said I can't be sure what or if anyone forced it into 'im or he did himself. I think if I'm able to get the body, I can perform an examination on him Jack and pull the things outta there. I think it's going to be one message for us and one for you lot. Right that's me out the way, who's next?"

"Me, I think. I can work with the police here back like we do in Cardiff. I'm assuming your police here might be wanting to aid us? Either way, I'll get Andy on the phone to make sure Cardiff won't fall while we're gone right now Jack, and I'll phone Rhys, he might know what to do if anything does happen Torchwood like" Gwen then stepped out of the room not having bothered to ask permission to exit or who the two men she mentioned where.

Neither team were quite sure what to do after that until Eric stepped up towards the board.

"Victim's name is Danny Devirro, 32 and married. His wife is Linda Foster-Jane. She didn't take his last name and honestly who's forcing her too? She used to have Danny on her books seeing as he suffers from PTSD but apparently 3 months ago he stopped going and no one could say why. Some people thought he was cured, others not. Some thought he had even run away from the centre he was being looked after in. My theory is maybe someone or something took his eye and he went off the grid only to find out that it wasn't such a good idea then two weeks ago was found washed up on shore.

It hasn't been said that Linda did or didn't know where he was going or why but what we do know is that the centre has said she hasn't checked in for about 2 days now and all her patients are starting to get antsy without her there to help calm them down. Do you think the same people could have taken her as well, Jack?"

"Maybe. Or maybe she's running" Eric rolled his eyes at Jack's blatant use of over-dramatics and carried on walking back to his seat ready for instructions from both teams.

 

After a few hacks into Danny's system and finding nothing that would help further to which Callen and Sam had shrugged as this was fairly normal while Jack had told them Eric had yet to go deeper, they'd called a break from the case to talk to their Tech Operator properly with it just being NCIS - to which Jack had grumbled about having his old team separated again to no extent - and were now all sat in the main bullpen;

Callen and Sam sat in their usual chairs to try and psyche the answers out of him by just staring and glaring. They only had one shot at this, after Eric would confess on his own. They were both ready to make it count.

Kensi had been content just to sit in her normal seat and let the action unfold and just let the man come to his own conclusion about what side he eventually wanted to be on with Nell sitting beside her pitiful for her friend;they shared everything - Oreo's anyone? She thought - and both had been in agreement that secrets were not a good thing to have or at least Kensi thought they had. This must have been quite a shock, maybe a bigger one for Nell.

Nate stood to the side watchful with a folder in his hand ready for the off with Hetty by the other side of him ready to break up a fight if there was one.

And Deeks was standing. Nervously. He stood by the other computers that the two techs used when they wanted to show them something they'd found but Ops was busy. It seemed to calm him a little. More than it should have. He'd really have to figure out what his head and heart were telling him here. None of them needed this extra thought/feeling/whatever this was piled on right now. He didn't need a hurt heart as extra.

All seven watched as Eric came hurtling down the stairs with Tosh in tow with Owen and Gwen behind them all talking about something. It looked fairly serious and all their faces betrayed the fact that they wanted to work moreover looking like they could sleep for a full few months and then some.

It was a fairly warm July and almost everyone was in shorts and a t-shirt letting the air con wash over them as they regarded their friend, they watched him receive two tight hugs from the girls and an awkward pat on the back from Owen as they went their separate ways for the night. Jack came next with Ianto who Eric pulled into another hug, and handshake with a nod to his old boss before they exited the building as well. Then the younger man looked towards his right where his current team were sat. Taking in a deep breath and letting it out, he made his way over towards them slowly. Looking them over, he closed his eyes feeling the nerves of every single one of them including his own. He might not be able to stand long, feeling shaky with every step he took until he came to a stop.

Why could that job never grant anyone some peace once they'd left?He'd have to keep a few things to himself as well, cats could not be let out of the bag anytime soon even if he felt like this was his third family second to Cardiff itself. Bloody Torchwood; a thousand times over.

A few more deep breaths and he'd be be ready to face them. Just a few more. Was anyone ever prepared for this? They never included it in a manual or helpful guide, and with that thought in mind, Eric chuckled lightly. By thinking that thought his worries lessened and his chuckle became more of a light laughter. Worryingly the agents looked on as their normally quiet, focused friend become a mess of nerves and almost going into hysteric laughter.

"Eric, you okay man? You've gone through a lot in the past couple hours. You feeling up to working on this case with us? How many fingers am I holding up?"

"I-i'm fine Callen. It's just, can you imagine if Torchwood came with an instruction manual? You'd have to include everything about the current team and who they were and how they came to be working in something so weird, pasts and everything. And then you'd have to have a whole separate chapter for Jack and everything he did and does, who he is and was. You'd include where One, Two, Four and Five where and what happened to each one of them. How there's a guy who helps save the world with a new-found friend of his from Earth's total destruction. What actually happens when working there. And my favourite - who gets to ask for coffee when everyone already knows that Ianto's makes them and woe betide anyone who doesn't drink it. Just popped into my mind but I'm okay now"

"Right, funny, we're laughing all the way into our seats. Eric, what even is Torchwood? What do they do? Why did you start working for them?" Sam started. Eric sobered up considerably at that and all humour had been erased. Gone was their fun loving techie put in it's place a man with a hard edge to his voice with a glint in his eyes.

"Because they saved me"

 

"Saved you?"

"Yes Deeks"

"Saved you how? Eric, you've been acting odd all day and I speak for all of us when I say that I'd appreciate it if you could explain what exactly you mean by all this?" Callen folded his arms waiting for him to start explaining fully even though he knew he wouldn't get the full story properly for now, Eric was hiding more than his fair share of secrets.

"In 2007, some bad things happened. Ianto was actually a part of it and I don't think he's ever been the same. Job changes you. For the best sometimes. Anyways Canary Wharf was where it happened, biggest change in Torchwood history"

"Hang on, I read about that. A part of London fell. Eric, were you also in that?" Kensi had almost grabbed his arm to make sure he had no battle scars instead opting for tilting of head. This made up for his jumpy behaviour most days, thank God for that final conclusion, she didn't like to think what else could have made him like that.

"Not as such. I was in the aftermath of it. Nobody thought much of the building really. It almost killed me, with what had happened to me but Jack and his team were there to help me. I have a past I don't want to talk about right now and I don't think I ever will unless having to on pain of torture or death, I only ever mentioned it to Jack. Jack said I had a lot of good in me and thought I could help people. So I went to work for him. I enjoyed the job but after a while you realise how much it saps from you, how much it takes. How much I took. The lives I've seen come and go. Before any of you carry on from that point just know..I did good as well. As I said I've seen things you couldn't possibly imagine, done things I never thought I could.I love Torchwood. I love what they do and how they protect us. I love the people. I loved how there was always something round the corner and I always felt appreciated.."

"But. There's a but there, am I right. Tell me I'm right. What's the but?"

"Deeks"

"The warning's back in your voice. What on Earth are you afraid of telling us?" That voice of genuine concern came from Callen himself feeling concerned for Eric's well being and mental state.

"Nothing. I tell you guys a lot of things already, y'know. Can't I keep this one to myself?"A pleading undertone gave way instantly falling through his hardened shell, he kind of regretted that, he was not as weak as everyone seemed to think he was outside these walls in this big, big world. He without thought put them straight back up as someone spoke - Nell? He was blocking them out so he could speak keeping this appearance up. He would not crack therefore when Nell's voice did, he gave in.

"Fraid not. I'd like to know as well. I work with you closely up in Ops and I've never heard a word of any of this much like the others. I thought we were close?"

"So what's the but, Eric? Give a cop liason some appreciation here"

"I loved the job and I still do. The thing is it never leaves you. It follows you round like something out of a zombie film. No matter how much you run away, it's always going to come back and make you remember it's there. That's my 'but'. I love that job but I'm halfway terrified of it. I don't want to hurt anyone anymore. I didn't like doing any of that in the first place and even then Jack conned me into gun training, so what if it helped me live? I just wanted to help people in sticky situations and I guess I did...I am grateful. I saw so much, you really have to try to explain and I can't. I just loved it"

"If you loved it so much, why'd you stay for so long then?" Kensi blurted out.

"I wanted to live past the age of 30"

Chapter Text

"I'm sorry, I think I may have misheard you there for a sec, what did you just say? Because I thought you said you wanted to live past the age of 30? I mean do you know crazy that sounds, how crazy you sound right now? Living past 30 is not in anyone's leading goal books surely"

"You are over 30 or at least bang on it though, right Eric? What possible clause could you have for this feat? And maybe you could, uh, tell uh what uh, lead to you only telling us this now? Were you ever going to? Thinking that maybe one day you'd go and leave us worrying about you, to leave us searching up and down the whole of L.A until one day we realised just like Dom, you'd be missing and killed in action" Nate's voice had turned colder with each passing sentence. But by the time he had mentioned Dom so had the room. Eric's eyes glazed with anger and frostbite all in one.

"I think that's a little too far, don'tcha think Nate? But like any other doctor I know, you've probably got more questions than answers inside right now and you need me to answer every single one of them. So go ahead. Finish it off. Finish off your thoughts Nate, only I thought you said I didn't need a defensive launch missile and that you happened to be on my side in every way here"

"Eric, just because I found out something about your past and now you just so happen to be so concerned about us and the protection we've been offering doesn't mean you should be throwing it back in our face. Why, is that what Jack and Torchwood do?"

"Answer your questions Nate. You and I both know we're two of the smartest people in the room here because of our jobs. Not to put down the others but you know we both need a system. C'mon Nate, we're losing time with each passing minute. Please?"

"Were you having second thoughts about coming to us before you left? Would you have come to us if you didn't know about your 30's gamble?"

"Course I did, who doesn't before they go into a new thing after what they've been used to for so many years? Maybe, even without the 30's gamble as you call it, it was still a dangerous game to play and be in"

"Eric, we don't need the entire story now but exactly happened during your time there?" -

"That's bull and you know it Nate! He's not being honest with us in the slightest. In fact I bet he hasn't ever been. Something tells me that this is the real him. Jaded and all. So come on then Eric Beale, tell us something real. Give us the real you because I don't know about you but I'd rather have something more than half a story wrapped in half a secret which keeps flicking between stories of people he was and people he knew. I'd never have expected this to become of you Eric. I'd never have thought of you to be this untrustworthy person of a man. Yet here we are" Callen fumed with his arms having made his way to his chest now folded to show Eric he meant business.

Eric however was now letting his L.A side show more as he fumbled his way through his words exaggerating how much they all meant to him here. He needed for them to trust him, this was more than he ever thought he'd get when he was younger. He needed to keep it.

"Guys, Callen, come on. You know me. You always have, you know me"

"No we don't Eric, that's kinda the point"

Eric huffed before taking in a deep breath himself. He couldn't believe his life had come to this. It just went to show the past would always catch up with you, no matter how many times you ran away from it.

Okay they wanted a full on truthful answer than that is what they would get. The amount of things he had revealed already was horrifying enough, Jack was more than likely to kill him or catapult him through the rift if this sort of thing kept up. But this was...this was his family, his ever growing family. Some things needed to change. Maybe letting them know this one thing was part of it. Letting them inside his Torchwood side or again just a small part of it. While he'd been thinking this, they'd all been staring at him disconcertingly. When they heard a small hum come from the OPS man they all stared - well more Sam glared and the others just stared - waiting for the man to speak.

 

"Okay. You want to prove that putting your trust in me is paying off and has paid off since I came here to OSP. What's to say you don't afterwards? Not to put more of a damper on things but something tells me I couldn't handle that sort of thing right now, anymore than I could originally"

"Woah Eric man, time to calm down. Just tell us clearly - very clearly -what you meant about leaving your old job to coming here and living past the age of 30, you are over 30..right?"

"Yyy-yeah. No. I was at Torchwood from when I was 23 to when I was 26 which is the age when I came to work for you guys and I'm 28 now coming up to being 29 in a couple of months time. It's hanging over my head every time it gets closer. I wish it'd leave but it just won't"

"Yes we gathered Mr Beale but you still happen to be dodging our question - and very well I might add - but much like other things that have come to pass about you we can discuss later. For now however what we are trying to get answered by process of elimination is just why exactly you left before turning 30, what the big deal is with it and why you happen to be scared of even thinking this. Now the real honest answer if you please?"

"Just one of the many perks of being a Torchwood operative. For everyone in the galaxy, turning 30? Not a big deal. Done and dusted but for us? Let's just say I'd be very surprised to make it. I wouldn't wish this sort of twisted fate on anyone even those people we have on lock-down. There are things about my past I wish I could leave behind. Guess my past is just one of them"

"Yeah we heard already. Look you going to tell us finally or what exactly? I don't need a sob story to compensate or add to your new forming persona" Sam was getting agitated now.

"Oh sorry, I can't just switch it off like a machine because unless you hadn't guessed, I'm not one! - Eric yelled louder than he had meant to but realising this he stumbled on his words again with his eyes widened - God, I'm..i'm so sorry, I never meant to yell like that. Maybe all those late night games are finally getting to me" He finished as a half joke which thanks to the mood in the room fell sadly flat.

"We're all exhausted just listening to your voice which has never been like this since we've been able to know you. Just say what you're afraid to so we can finally move on from this and get back to where we're needed, please Eric" Kensi motioned grasping her hands together and pushing them forwards towards her friend.

"How are we misunderstanding each other? I just wanted to live past the age of 30, that's all. As we all know from countless times, living past means sorta not dying. Well, trying not to anyways. I wanted to live well into my golden ages, y'know late 80's, early 90's but uh that means kinda making it through these crucial years first severely unharmed or through instant obtainable death and even then I'd still have to look into research to find the best places to vacay in hell.

"Sorry to butt in here but uh, what?! Hell?" Deeks chimed in his face falling in shock much like the rest.

"I've done some things, mostly bad. Kinda thing you can't come back from"

"Sure everyone has, no one can actually call themselves a fully fledged 'saint' as it stands but already condemning yourself to hell - a lifetime of eternal hell - because you did a few bad things? Eric that's nuts! And if there's one personality trait you don't happen to have, it's that. We do this because of our job not because of who we are. Don't take yourself down like that"

"So you'd think and I appreciate and value your concerns but again, I uh might have without any offence to you guys of course - I might happen to have a bit more of a worldly view, when that happens it tends to include more than your average shooter games or even the reaches of this job. I've actually accepted the fate to be honest however I dread to figure out whether the others will be joining me there, I hope they go towards the brighter lights with their pasts they more than deserve it but who can say. Turns good people to do bad but all the while necessary things"

"Ss-so what? Now we've covered all that up, what I want to know is if there are any rules to go with it? Are we affected by this or anything Torchwood at all?"

- "Yeah we could find like a cheat code or something?!" Nell all of a sudden piped up from her area of the room looking hopeful.

"Oh for God's sake! Woah I just sounded like our very dashing unlikely hero himself. Remind me to stop hanging around him so often otherwise it'll keep happening and I can't honestly have that on my conscience. I..will stop now. Sorry Hetty. Sorry guys. Ehem. No rules I guess apart from that one. Jack hasn't told us any otherwise. Just the extremely obtainable death thing"

"How on earth are you able to be so calm about this?"

"Had a lot of time to get used to it. Is that, uh, all you needed?"

"No but it's a start" Callen nodded unfolding his arms a little.

 

Jack and co had entered back into the room not wanting to let it be any further than they had already forgoing sleep like usual while sensing the mood of the room. Jack's attention stepped right up to Eric knowing he was more than likely the cause for it. God damn it, what had he said? He sent a half glare towards his young charge to let him know that this would only be a one time thing especially if he found out he had told them something big, he knew he wouldn't have told them the real truth about who they were and what they did but he could have let some things slip through the vine unintentionally due to the stress and pressure of it all. Within the glare he made sure to send the message of 'anything else you say to do with us now has to go through me first' to which Eric had gaped before stuttering at him.

"But wait, seriously? Jack, c'mon it was the simplest thing, you can't take me down for that? Jack? Jack?" Eric noting Jack had started to distance himself from the groups into a completely separate corner of the room, moved to the same place himself steeling himself for the talk down he was most likely about to have. This just wasn't good on the nerves besides he hated any of his who he deemed friends being mad at him.

 

"So he clicks his fingers and Eric just follows?" Kensi asked still trying to digest the over 30 rule sending a few choice glares towards the people who had caused Eric hurt in the past.

"And without any jokes or ramblings either. Did that earlier too. Straight to the point" Sam finished off the conversation as their ears picked up on the harsher American's voice clearly ending a hushed discussion.

"No Eric. No. No more ifs, no more buts, no more of any of that. You knew for a fact I didn't give you any clearance even for this. It was imperative we didn't freak any of them out or give anything away apart from what we told them earlier. You've done this before, I remember. It's why you were one of our best, why you fit in. It's also why I don't want you to betray my trust like this again" With that Jack stepped away from the man whose eyes just rolled after him even if his cheeks were flushed a little and storming off as an extra flourish. He motioned for the rest of Torchwood to follow him out of the building to which they all nodded to Eric half smiling before doing so. Tosh had sneakily while leaving given Eric's tablet back to him after taking it to..update it.

 

All the OSP tech could do was now sigh deeply, take off his glasses and rub his eyes, he should have known Jack would be on his case constantly berating him even for the minor things like the person he knew him to be. He'd tried his hardest to tell OSP something about himself. Putting the glasses back on, glancing to the side he saw his team noting how horrified they all looked at treating another team member like the Torchwood leader had.

Sure they all let loose at each other but they kept calm and collected, kept personal matters out of the dressing down if it happened and with no malice. Here was a man who just did all of that in one go.

Fully turning to face them all he shrugged deciding to not let Jack's words affect him too badly, the amount of times this happened between any of them and now that he knew Jack wasn't upset, just his usual self he hadn't felt as bad as he might have. Eric and the others were just so, so used to it.

"Jack's always had a flair for the dramatic"

Chapter Text

"I just can't believe it. All this time a different person. Someone who we thought we knew, we trusted. And now this? Kensi replied with her hands clasped in front of her leaning on her appointed desk answering to an empty question hanging in the air since two evenings ago when Eric revealed a new part of himself. Owen however had been looking for the perfect distraction from his studies of the body lying before him when he heard the rising voices but this wasn't the one he was wanting to overhear.

"I am quite in agreement with you Miss Blye. I don't know much like you all what to make of these new discoveries just yet. So let us quickly focus on what we do know so far. We know he can't say a lot about his old line of work but that it forced him to we believe quite ruthless however we do not know quite how far he took this. We also do not know whether he wants us to know or not seeing as he deflects at every turn. He is as we know him and yet not. A tricky balance to hit. Who's say to who he is, does he?"

"But you think he's testing us, see where his trust and certainty lies, right Hetty?"

"Not quite Mr Callen. Think a little deeper into what I said and what he has been saying since we met them all a week or so ago. He's despite deflecting and taking notice of what this Jack Harkness has said for him not to, does want to tell us. He's been giving us small tidbits of information"

"Wanting us to clue it together so he doesn't have to tell us. He's scared that if he tells us outright especially without Torchwood's express permission that we won't accept him as we ultimately do now. Must really be something big. Hetty, what happens from here on in? Do we keep tabs on him? Nell could keep GPS on him? At least til we're sure he's not in any mortal danger?" Callen asked finally seeing where Hetty was going.

"I don't know about you the rest of you, I'm worried that maybe seeing how Eric beneath our radar - "

With that last little notion Owen had finally had enough.

 

"I'd be careful with what you say next" All of them jumped at Owen's presence now looking a little sheepish at having been caught out.

"Oh yeah how come?" Sam tension's flared up.

"He might be one of yours but he's still somehow one of ours"

"How'd you know?"

"I worked with the lad. I work with the lad. He means something to me and I'm not about to let stuck up toffs like yourselves work your way into thinking summat he's not even close to"

"Protecting him from us and all we are right?"

"Right. Take it or leave it, you all need to come to your senses that this is part of Eric, it just so happens to be a weak spot as well. In case you hadn't guessed either, we're keeping things back for your sanity. Don't think you could handle this to be honest. If you can't quite remember that is, we are joint lead on this case"

"We know nothing besides the fact my partner wants to live past 30 and that it's a dangerous game. I just want to be able to talk to him again. This past week has just thrown us"

"You're saying it wasn't for him? While I may have some reservations about 'im coming here I understand why, I finally got over myself and accepted it. A job like ours- as a feeling I'm always going to be repeating it, what's one more? - is not for the faint hearted. To be fair to him I'm glad that he still has part of a softer side. Not all completely gone with that shell of his"

"You uh, really like Eric then?" Came the fairly hesitant voice of Deeks trying not to give anything away of what he'd been thinking with Eric then. All Owen could do was roll his eyes at the blatant longing and jealously in the LAPD's voice. It took everything in the man not to laugh as he said the next bit. He winced a little as he sounded a bit too proud of his old tech friend.

"Good head on his shoulders, fairly level headed unlike some team leaders I could care to mention. Doesn't let his past affect him or at least from what I've seen. Knows what he can be, knew when to quit being behind the scenes and enter into the fray guns blazing becoming a man of action so they say. Think he got a bit lost before he came to us and certainly when deciding whether to leave us, knew how it would effect all of us not just him. He's proved himself time and time again so much so I trust him especially with my life. He's pushed himself sometimes too far. Sure. Good man with strong beliefs as I'm sure you know by now. He needs you more than he's able to say I'll bet. I'm not afraid to lose him. By the way you ever tell him I said any of this, I won't hesitate to rip anything off of you"

"Well aren't you a cheery one Mr Harper"

"I'm who I have to be. So's Jack, so's Gwen, so's Torchwood. We've all had something made of us. Speaking of our true and brave American hero, where is Jack? I need him for something important"

"Here, what you've got for me? Everything good here by the way?"

"Bloody fantastic, now if you don't mind I'd like to drag you away from your polite manners and focus on the findings of that body we have y'know before he gets frostbite?"

 

"He's not going to care especially Owen, he's dead" Came Ianto's strong Welsh voice with the sarcastic dryness carrying coffee's for everyone now handing them out. Eric ran down the steps two at a time having noted they were back, Nell trudging behind.

"Hey guys. Why are we standing like this, oh God, no one's fighting are they?"

"Nope, Owen's got some info for us apparently though he's yet to say what exactly what it is" Tosh guided him to finally say what it was linking arms with Eric to drag him properly over.

"Well not much, hopefully enough to be getting on with, few pieces to fit our never ending puzzle"

"So tell us already cos my feet are getting tired" Jack motioned.

"He was definitely pumped full of narcotics. I'm taking a stab in the dark and saying it was ecstasy. You know how it's risen to being deadly if you take too much of it in recent years and I could find no other alternative to fit the description of what I found. I don't know what it is here but it is very illegal in the UK. Not that that would stop the person who did this. He didn't do it to himself, I'm sure of it, if he'd taken it himself there'd be no signs of restraint but look at the marks on his arm. That's definitely fingernail marks dug into the skin from his attacker. I can try and get more DNA traced from it as a double check to make sure I 'ave got the right person involved here but it might take a little longer"

"Have it done. Rose can help you out again" Callen nodded as Nate made a call instantly to her.

"What else, you said something earlier about two things being wedged in him"

"Yes I spose' I did. Well, I'm not really sure you want to have a look but I know we need to. Think it'll give us an idea on Linda Foster-Jane's whereabouts as well"

"Think it's fair to say we know she wasn't taken as a random. Have a look at this Jack. Um, Callen"

You're next Linda. Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily merrily just hear the people scream

"Well that's horrific" started Deeks. Kensi and Nell had lifted their hands to their mouths in shock. It never got easier even if you saw things like this all the time. Turning to their neighbouring team they noted they weren't even paying that much attention to it.

"What's the second one say Owen?"

"Why don't you read it yourself Gwen? I thought your humanitarian side would be out here right now. Has Andy actually got back in touch with you yet?"

"Oh haha, and what happened to your one night stand friend, how's she doing? I-"

"Oh she's fan-bloody-tastic. Why, looking for something you want but know you can't have. Rhys not enough as usual?"

"-"

"Alright, alright! I can only take so much of your bickering when I'm around you guys. Give it here, I'll read it" Owen was only so happy to do so. Where L.A had paled at the first one, they were waiting on Eric to do the same.

Not the first time there's been a runaway. Who'll be next, who, who, who? Could it be you? Could it be them? Could it be YOU? Here's hoping.

"Safe to say I think there's a vendetta or something against these two. And against us apparently. Clearly they expected us to find both notes as Owen said earlier but with no intended times. Do you think they know they've found it by now? Jack?"

"Hopefully we're just one step ahead right now"

"Jack, alright to butt back in here?"

"Sure, go for it Eric, you know we value your expertise here"

"Haha, very funny"

"Wasn't a joke Beale. Go ahead"

"Oh. Right, well who are they referring to when they ask who's next? Do you think it's, um, that or that. Jack they don't know, how do we tell them? Jack we need to, if"

*PING*

"That's your tablet and mine Eric. Uh-oh" Eric had wondered over towards her, then eyes widened as they both looked at it.

"Oh yeah, that's an uh-oh, that's a big uh-oh. As far as uh-oh's go that's a big one. How do we get rid of the uh-oh?"

"Think you could stop saying uh-oh for five minutes?" Nell asked from across the room. By this point Jack had joined them.

"Okay, I think we all are in agreement this brings trouble, it's not what we wanted to hear but we knew instantly the reason why we were appointed lead was because of this suspicion. Now, we know who the suspects are, let's figure out how to get to them"

 

"You explained to your group but not to us. We want answers. Now" Callen almost sneered at them.

"Very well. Our suspects are two people. One is a very auspicious character named Jack Desir, he's been in juvie for violent conduct before, I don't know how you missed it and guess what he just so happened to be in Linda Foster-Jane's PTSD books and apparently he and Danny were on good terms. I'll leave you to follow up on that potential. No doubt you'll come to the same conclusion as we did. The other...well that's a little trickier to explain. How long you got?"

"We got time"

"Well then, I'll gather them round - yours and mine - we'll explain who we are, what we do and what exactly has been going on. This could take a while"

 

"We've been sitting here for 2 hours? What exactly is going on?"

"We're waiting on Eric. For some reason no-one can decide on, he's been freaking out for this long" Owen said popping more chocolate into his mouth.

"And you're not helping him, thought you guys were best buds" Deeks glared at the lack of concern for his teammate's disappearance.

"Not 'alf Detective. Ah there's the boy 'imself. Come on heart attack Beale, let's get this show over with. Been waiting long enough in this chair, my arse is getting sore. You're not helping by being this late"

"Hello to you too Owen, how are you? Too late, I don't think I care" Eric waved his tablet towards the medic thankful for the distraction he had just given, it had given his freak out a chance to calm down, recollect his thoughts and focus on getting the proper words out., despite what he thought-and tended to project onto others - Owen wasn't that big a bastard - not enough to not care like this he supposed.

Ianto had entered slipping coffee into his hands which was his way of letting him know he'd be there ready for the fallout later. Tosh had given him a smile and Gwen a pat on the arm. Jack nodded for once entering with no coat just a waistcoat looking exhausted.

Clearly he'd been stressing about this as much as Eric had. Why couldn't things ever just be simple for him? For them? Time to bite the bullet.

"Um, hey guys. First off I'm really sorry in advance for everything you're about to learn. For the lies. For me. And that it's such a big reveal and that it's come around as a reveal so quickly but were running out of time, we've always been running out of time so I guess now's a good a time as any" Hetty had stood next to Nate again waiting for the outcome. Nothing was ever going to be the same again after this, was it?

Chapter Text

"Well?" Sam started leaning back on his chair feeling the tension.

"I got to think about how to say this without sounding terrified and sane"

All of them straightened out their backs focusing on the man, clearly it was something serious. Not just serious but clearly tragic along with causing a lot more stress than he'd let on lately.

"We're listening. We're here for you Eric" Kensi caught his eye then held it until he dragged it away.

Torchwood sauntered in with Nate having all having informed him that they might need his expertise just in case they decided to lock Eric up inside or worse, convince what he saw was definitely in his head and that the organisation was unrealistic. Jack knew they could dish out some retcon if they needed if they freaked out anymore than needed. If Eric decided to tell them with this new information (which he was infuriatingly right about) and be able to trust them with not spilling their guts to everyone then it was fine with the captain.

 

Too long a silence reigned over, too many fidlings of things on tables -with hands - which prompted Kensi yet again to speak up, the boys could um and hah all they wanted but they in waiting for Eric to speak on his own terms had let extra time to slip. Earlier was fine but now they had information, good useful information with actual suspects, she had shifted her attentions to figuring out what Torchwood actually was and now to actually seeing if they could find their missing person alive. When she spoke, it was clear she spooked all of them. Plus she thought much like the others she was getting tired of Eric's BS.

"We want answers now Eric and not your usual half assed ones" So much for being subtle though. However it prompted the others to start joining in with their own burning questions ready for the truth.

"Eric, we just want to know who you are without having to research or resort to telepathy. We tried asking someone once and all we got was that you were trouble, told us they didn't want to know. You've been running, and guess what Beale? Time's up" It wouldn't have been scarier if Nell hadn't half smiled through her sentence. God he had hated lying to his partner.

"I just don't want to scare you guys off"

"Please Mr Beale, give us some credit. We work with you" Eric's mouth quirked up a bit at that but it went as quickly as it happened.

"I just don't want to cause a rift between us especially when an actual one already exists"

"Eric, uh, buddy? Hate to tell you this but you happen to not be making a lot of sense here" Callen tried to steer him towards an actual answer.

Afterwards a massive pause happened. A really dragged out one which made all uncomfortable. Another noise much like a notification went off to which Tosh rushed over. Jack glared at the offending item especially when he saw what had gone off.

 

"You looked us up, all our personnel files?"

"Well when you outright lie to us, sure. Eye for an eye y'know. Plus it involved an active member. On my team. Hence the checking up. You'll never guess what Nell found out though"

- "Wait what? Nell you did this? Like I knew you had to but?" Nell avoided his eyes as they tuned back into the argument between both their bosses. Jack had just tried speaking when Callen had jumped right back in.

"None of your names are on any official documents. Torchwood? Doesn't exist, not on our systems anyway. So yeah I had you looked up, What'd you do to Eric anyway, tie him down and make him believe you were the best damn things around? Why have you made him think he'd done hideous, immoral, dehumanizing actions alongside you?"

"Maybe because he did? And they weren't immoral...not that much anyways. I told you, it's a necessity in our jobs to not be affected personally or keep people in the loop because otherwise they're in jeopardy. And I've already told you, it's wasn't for you to know. Now I believe we're owed an apology for snooping?"

"Not at all"

"Well then" Sensing a blast from the past and the fact he couldn't honestly deal with this much longer made the decision to intervene. They'd already chosen to say about Torchwood but Jack had just had to make it difficult for them all.

"Guys! Stop, go back to wherever you came from. No I didn't mean that, just go sit back with Ianto. Now. I need to speak with this band of misfits. Without any interruptions"

Jack glared before doing his usual nod walking towards said person. Before doing so, he pressed his hand onto Eric's shoulder meant as a comforting gesture which Eric had gratefully returned.

After this point they noted all the things they saw in their trusted colleague. Exhaustion, weary tone, spacial and constant looking of space. Being fearful of something new whenever something was brought in for inspection. Weary tones. Always wanting to stay late, getting attached to something. The sarcastic tones that had been brought out. Everything they had never bothered to notice before. Now they did and it was traumatic, too late to unlearn.

 

"Guys I appreciate you wanting to look out for me but here's the thing; at some point you're going to have to stop because you won't be able too. You'll just end up getting yourselves into trouble, you'll end up getting me into the worst trouble. I can't protect you as well I can protect myself when it comes down to it. Despite what you all think I can. I don't need any of your deaths hanging over me. I kinda have enough on my plate here already"

All the agents weren't prepared for the small rare outburst that just didn't come from Eric. Where was their bright technician? Who was this man standing in front of them?

"Then give us some answers. Fast" Sam responded trying to maintain some head space for the real explanation.

"Not as easy as you might think, can't just click my fingers and then my life story is ultimately revealed"

"Well then give us something at least" Deeks pleaded.

"Deeks, Kensi. Why can't this be easy? Why does everything wish to screw with me lately? What'd I do, I haven't pissed anyone off lately surely? That aside, surely you get this by now that even if I'd wanted to, I couldn't. Even though we're about to tell you, I feel like I'm being forced too, and it's not by my own admission which is why I feel like I can't. You actually weren't even meant to have heard of us or me being part of this. All because of a quick phone call leading to this case. But maybe I can make sure that everything is okay...Jack?"

"What? Can't decide by yourself?"

"This is serious. I'm not messing about. Not this time"

 

Jack had witnessed the conversation happening before his eyes ready to have another talk with Eric about these little freak outs. The call he had gotten when Dom (who the hell was he?) died had made him worse for wear wanting to tell them then but he had held off asking as he listened through Jack's tone of voice which meant alarm bells and a swift retcon session, Jack was glad he hadn't, Eric was someone who had flitted into their lives and proved every damn time why he'd cemented himself firmly into their individual lives and Torchwood's heart or lack of one. He knew at this point in time he'd let Eric be given the okay however he wanted to have a little fun first, why not? Eric had reached the immortal by now with both hands in a surrender position.

"No"

"Jack you don't know what I'm about to ask? What am I even saying of course you do. Jack there's no time to be doing this to them. Please? Otherwise Hetty is just going to get angrier and I do not need that especially after the surfboard incident..again. I need something to shield myself, we all know it's most likely not going to work but hey-"

"Eric. Take a breather or two, it might help you out here. That's it, deep breaths in and slowly out. Don't get yourself so worked up here, you'll only hurt yourself. Good man. Jack I don't know about the others but we did say we would. Might be useful in the long run to have some organisations in the know. If they're able to handle that, it is. Think about it, could be good to have someone trust in us and the secrets we're inevitably keeping. Now if you don't mind, I need to go back to being an actual M.E"

As he left he patted Eric's shoulder then a nod to his captain before leaving the room leaving both men stunned but a very happy smile on Eric's. He knew Owen wasn't as bad as he could be sometimes. Emphasis on the sometimes. Eric had quickly just to make sure held the medic's hand squeezing it with him squeezing back. Eric let out another small breath watching a wisp of his hair go up onto his head and down his face again.

 

All of OSP had resorted to watching the interactions between the other special OPS because of such a big change when Eric was around them not to mention they were a very..interesting bunch. Deeks had been lurking a bit behind to watch trying to pretend he wasn't mad at the closeness portrayed between the medic and the tech. It was fair to say he was very much failing. Seeing the grabby hands has flared up something up in him again. Dear God why was this happening? He needed to sit next to him, talk this out somehow. Sooner the better. Hang on if he thought this process through..was...was he...jealous?

Eric managed to catch his eye again with a bigger smile than before letting his eyes rest before leaving them. God he was so screwed.

 

"So we're agreed? Ianto, Gwen? I don't want to do this without anyone's permission, doesn't seem right"

"We're all in agreement pet" Gwen smiled at the small semi-circle to the side that they had been pulled across to with softer eyes than before.

"I hope no one minds me saying so but I do believe we're being watched quite inadvertently" May I suggest we don't delay this any longer"

"Quite right tea-boy"

The protectors of the Rift waltzed back to stand behind Eric to now protect him especially if a fight were to happen. It was all up to him to deliver now. His team, his words, his choice. Speaking of the kid, it looked like a deer in the headlights right now as they just all had agreed to speak through stares and glares. Torchwood joined in, Eric finally now realising how ridiculous it looked. One of them needed to back down, neither determined to do so. Tough crowd.

"I think maybe we should talk. All of us. A common thing unites and separates us and that one thing is me"

"Sounds like you're going up for election, should I start calling you Mr President soon then?"

"What like Major Tom to ground control? Nell you know exactly what I want to speak about, all of you do"

"We just don't want to see you hurt" Callen added to the fold both as a team leader and as his friend. In response Eric tried hard not to roll his eyes like a teen and blush at the big concerns they all had. It was moments like this which had made his decision to move easier. Now how to phrase this without making them worry too much? There didn't seem much choice.

"I've already been. And if you listen, you'll be able to begin to understand why or at leas try too" He'd felt someone's presence coming towards him which he didn't think he'd be ready for, one thing at a time. Thankfully Nate had intervened pushing them back a little letting Eric carry on. How did Nate just know?

"Eric, this won't make us love you any less. This won't mean much but we are all here for you and we will listen to you, respect you and your decisions. It's going to be okay" Kensi soothed. Ianto had somehow between the awkward pauses made coffee passing it round leaving Eric out.

"Yan, where's mine?"

"Well I do believe that you once said you could make your own, you do have arms you know? Besides you know the rule, Torchwood employees only"

"Hang on, you've served the others, is this your idea of petty justice?"

"I do believe so"

"I'm onto you "

"I'm hurt" came the deadpan voice as they both laughed giving each other pretend snorts of derision. The distractions by the others had been possibly been the best thing at this moment in time right now. Deeks had hopped off his seat instantly as if on autopilot making coffee handing it to Eric with a shrug as he took a sip.

"Um, thanks. Better than yours Ianto, by far" Beneath the gentle teasing there was genuine affection and warmth lying there. The warmth in both their chests as they faced each other didn't go amiss between teams or them. Eric also looked to Nate as if he'd just had another shock to the system, looks like he didn't have any unsure doubts in his head now.

Still shyly smiling at each other they had stopped getting ready to get this over with. Much as Hetty enjoyed being able to see her team start to see each other, she had to remind yet again that there was a time ticking.

"Mr Beale, I hate to be the one to remind you this once again but we are on a very tight clock, it's getting faster every minute" Hetty's word had stilled the frustration in him now giving an idea as to how to start himself off. He ran quickly up to his home away from home up in OPS then pelting down the stairs to face them properly now a little flushed plus a little pleased with himself.

 

Hang on, was that a gun in one of his hands? Eric hated guns, sure they might have mentioned he used them once or twice but for the most part he never went near them. Claimed they had a rippling effect on him. All attention rushed back towards him as he stepped towards them.

"Hi, sorry to meet under such unfortunate circumstances. Eric Beale. Torchwood" So that's what he was planning to do. Setting the scene, reintroducing himself. Sam decided it would be in their best interests to play along.

"Sam Hanna, G Callen, NCIS"

"Never heard of your lot before, what do you deal with?"

"Depends on what you want to know. How do you think you'd feel about the..supernatural?"

Silence came over them. No one had any idea how to respond. No he'd gone insane. What about laughing? None of them thought he could be serious, those things were fairy-tales, they didn't exist.

"I'm not kidding around"

Eric's change of voice settled the mood differently. The old agent was being utterly, completely serious. Almost all of their mouths slightly opened with hands starting to shake a little. An extra jarring into their already imperfect world. Hetty and Nate couldn't even bring themselves to look up to face him. A lot of what Nate had been told a while back made a lot more sense now.

"We're a secret, discreet organisation ordered in the 1800's founded by Queen Victoria. It was originally set up to protect her but then to protect her from a man called the Doctor - something to with Rose and Werewolves, I forget the details. Then something happened. More specifically a person. Jack here took over to find and then admittedly save that man from harm. To help focus on the real threats Earth faces. In 2000, an old team went and a new one had to be brought in. This included the people you see before you now. Except one. Suzie Costello, killed in action. Gwen replaced her for us to keep a human and moral side, I think however for the most part we keep our end up just as well. There's always the real threat of being captured by evils galore or going y'know dead. Jack came to me in 2003 before I chose to leave 3, 4 years later. I had only joined because of the aftermath of Canary Wharf happening, not just through a hacking of a phone line. Back then Torchwood was viewed as something worse to be involved in, we wanted to change perceptions"

"So you've said but what is Torchwood exactly, you've said the supernatural but supernatural what? There's so much of it that you can't really pick one surely?"

"Things beyond our imagination, ghosts, aliens, vampires, devices. Everything that you were ever scared of - especially when you were a kid. The monsters underneath your bed? They're real"

 

 

They'd all settled down, now looking like they'd recovered a little more.

"Well this has been a revelation of sorts. But I must be allowed a question or two if I may?"

"Sure Hetty"

"Why did you associate yourself with this? You said you were brought in, something tells me you had a choice. How exactly did you join? You seem to have turned out a very apt young man"

"Torchwood and OSP's doing. Maybe we could discuss me later? Two big things of truth are probably a bit too much to handle right now. This is going to hit you like a truck once the shock wears off and I should stay far away from you guys when it does"

"Very well. But Torchwood handles aliens, uh how?"

"We have a base in Wales, Cardiff. A crack in space and time opened up there. Things and people are able to slip through it. Some bad, some good. We research and discover which before tooling up and taking them out or looking after them, setting them back to their own timeline's. There's a big Weevil population near us which sometimes we have to sort out. We call that crack the Rift.

"The rift you mentioned earlier" Nell remembered thinking carefully out loud.

"Anything else we should be aware of, I know you were worried about saying all of this when we first started and I can understand how you came to be"

"Gee thanks Nate. Yeah, don't tell anyone. Big number one. Tell anyone even someone in this building, I will not hesitate to wipe this discussion from your minds. I will retcon your memory, no matter what you say or what the circumstances happened to be or just because you thought you could get away with it to prove me wrong. We've trusted you, we might need you for future help in cases. You can hopefully help us out. Deceive me, I'll take you out"

"Eric listen to what you're saying right now. You don't sound human, you sound heartless!" Callen yelled finally losing it. Eric stood stonily, he had had that from Gwen a lot when he was working full time, sometimes from even Jack. Wasn't that a fun thought to have. Thankfully he knew how to answer this now in a way that wouldn't offend the asker or Torchwood.

"Maybe but with this job I have to be. Doesn't mean I like or enjoy it all the time. Not everything is sunshine and rainbows you know that but get too happy, too settled, you'll get burned. If you let anything get to you, you'll get burned. I chose...I still choose heartless"

"Eric, this has the highest security clearance I've ever seen. Go you. Just please tell us what's happened to you. Secrets aren't you"

"I keep to myself a lot, I don't like being the main focus of attention. Guess you didn't bother to know me at all"

 

"Why couldn't you just tell us" Deeks's voice wavered as they resettled back onto Eric's softening a little, the hardness going a little bit.

"Didn't you just hear? Wouldn't exactly been easy unless you meant me telling you something else?" Callen peaked at them both wondering what on Earth had gotten into them checking back in to hear Deeks's answer.

"I just don't get why" Okay no solid answer to the question asked.

"Well, can we also save that for another time? This, er would not be the best place. And the full story about me, myself and I would take a lot longer than any of us have time for right now so let's get moving again"

"You mean you don't want to talk about it" Sam mentioned ignoring the hopeful, pained look in his eyes instead rising to the challenge set. He never challenged anyone, a bit meek to do so.

"Why do you think I'd want to?"

"Answer the question Eric" Callen almost yelled again in annoyance.

"Right now I'm focused on saving that person's life, sorry if that bugs you"

Deeks had left it for a little calming his heart rate down getting mad that it kept fluttering every-time he looked up into cool eyes. Eyes which gripped so much emotion. None to be seen here. Where had the fun loving, shy, quip, awkwardness galore and helpful man gone. Why had he been replaced by someone made of stone, an empty shell. Without even thinking he had started muttering to himself not daring to stare into those eyes or let the others hear worried they'd be on his case for days.

"Who are you, I don't recognise you. At least not anymore. You're worrying and scaring us all at the same time. Worrying and scaring me" Nate and Hetty had heard however letting their hearts break a little.

"I can't go back to five seconds ago and change your ideal of who I was, least of all those years I spent in Torchwood and all the years I will spend. So you all need to drop this and for now let it go. For my sake. Please"

"Eric, I'm going to try and understand where you're coming from but I speak for all of us again when I ask this with all this new information presented to us especially when we now know we can properly joint on this case. Are we going to be safe? More importantly, will you?" Sam glanced up with the others at Nate's voice joining the fold now all turning to Eric.

Eric didn't think he'd have the heart to tell them despite his coldness and old Torchwood habits he had hung onto that he knew he wouldn't be.

Chapter Text

"How you feeling Eric?"

Eric sighed internally trying not to let out his irritated huff. Nate. Of course he'd come talk to him after all this, after all he was meant to be the one who was meant to keep his sanity on tabs. Operational psychologist indeed. He knew Nate cared but he'd just had a lot taken out of him, the emotional state he was in already after one big secret had decided to take its toil finally, exhaustion happily setting back in for the fifty thousandth time. He didn't want to think about what they could think, do or say even once they had had the full story.

Maybe if Eric kept really quiet he could be left alone and be able to get reporting back to Jack about how it'd gone however he should have remembered how much Nate never gave up when it came to one of them. He huffed again ready for his questions. Besides Nate was only trying to help him in his own way, he shouldn't take it out on him. The quizzical look on Nate's face though showed he'd given more away than he'd thought. Always happened when it came to him though. Operational psychologist. It's in the description.

"Eric. I know you feel that if you keep quiet i'll be inclined to leave you alone but..here's the thing i'm not going to. Not this time. I thought last time when we talked I had helped a little but now I know that this goes far deeper than suspected... you need to open up to someone, anyone at least about this. It's clearly something you miss and love but it's scaring you, not the being in Torchwood but the fact we now know and whatever else you have locked up inside. I've spent enough time around you to see that. Let us help you"

"I'd appreciate if we could change topics. I'm happy you're looking out for me here Nate but i'd rather you just be my friend right now and not my psychologist" And again it was said as a hanging statement not the usual questioning tone to his voice. Nate understood immediately nodding.

"Of course, whatever I can do to help. Did you give anymore thought to what we discussed a few weeks or so ago?"

"Not that topic" 


 

"I need coffee. Lots of it. Nell?"

"Yeah? Okay let me grab my purse and we'll go"

A short car ride and some awkward silence later both girl's sat opposite each other coffee cups in hand trying to start a conversation between themselves but everytime it died with the thought of what they'd just heard.

"I can't believe it. All those ghost stories I used to enjoy when I was younger, how I used to laugh and ask for more. Nights spent behind the sofa underneath a duvet or blanket watching horror movies"

"Yeah it's pretty...insane. I just don't get why they felt they had to tell us now instead of earlier or later. What on earth could have been such a shock to the system that they felt they had to tell us as if they were in a do or die situation?"

"That thing Eric was reading from"

"He read us the two suspects name. He ran them through AFIS"

"But he didn't do it through official files. At least not the second name. I just checked. He must have used something with a Torchwood search and let us think he ran it through our NCIS official channels. Didn't Tosh take it from him a little while ago to 'fix' it?"

"Yeah now I think about it...and he said that Tosh was a computing genius. Whatever she did must have been for their eyes only. He gave us the first suspects name freely -"

"And then he froze up. Whatever he was reading from -"

"Was the catalyst to it all. Hang on my phone's ringing"

- Nell? It's Callen, you and Kens need to get back here. We've got a definite fingerprint match

 

"So why'd you call us back?"

"As we said, we got a match. Looky looky at what Torchwood didn't want us to find"

"The name I take it?" Kensi glanced over as she rolled her eyes at Sam.

"Correct oh wise one. Other person's name is a Jon Dene, no I've got no idea how you say that take a guess. Guy seems a little hazed, looks like he did time in juvie when he was younger, could have carried on into his adult life maybe dragged the other along with him, apparently they were in the same section according to this little information packet G. I hate to say it''s come to this but I have to agree with Captain Smug over there, how did we miss this?"

Eric came bounding back in with Nell and Tosh at his sides all looking over something with Eric's blanching some more - not that that it was unfamiliar lately really - and without thinking wandered over towards Deeks almost bumping his shoulder then deciding to lean against him instead making the slightly taller man blush a little. He needed to kill this when it was looking more and more like the techno was getting more dangerous every day not that he hadn't been already or had he himself..

"I believe we have more information to pass onto you and seeing now as you are aware of us..and what we do now would be the right time to say. We sent you a file a few hours ago via our shared network which is private so please don't abuse it. Now we have our two suspects. Jack Desir and Jon Dene, both in the same juvie, both believed to be violent and have violent pasts. No record of mental illness between them either so we need to figure out exactly why Linda got sent those notes possibly by them and if how involved they were with Danny's death."

Nell nodded continuing on from Tosh both now finding they worked with some of the same methods forming a mutual trust and respect.

"We got the rest of those tests back. Definitely Ecstasy and completely forced onto him. Those fingernail marks as well? They belong to both our suspects. I think it's incredibly fair to say we have the right people and that they have Linda"

"Okay then our next step is to locate them. GPS, trackers, drones anything that could find them get them. Let's try and get her before anything bad can happen to her if it hasn't already. I'm going to ask Hetty to see if we can get sniffer dogs on the ground as well from where Danny got dumped. Hang on..do we know why Danny disappeared, was it his PTSD or was he taken by them?"

"I think they took his meds and then him if I'm being honest here. That way he wouldn't really have been there and it would have been easier for them. Why though? I have no idea"

"I swear if it's jealously again, I want 15 bucks"

"Mr Deeks, you will do no such thing, you should have learned from the last time. Mr Beale now we have some of our answers from last time I suggest now is the time for the rest of your speech"

Eric froze up again.

 

"N-n-no we don't have to do it now Hetty. We can do it afterwards. I'm completely up for that! Can we?"

"I'd like to know now before anything happens. I don't want to hear you've left someone out in the field because you went off with another" Hetty kept her voice even but her eyes screamed wanting her tech to challenge her.

Eric had never wanted this. Ever. He'd already spilled some of his most treasured secrets, he didn't want to spill this one. They'd sorted out the suspects, they were going to gear up and go soon, they didn't need to know really? But he loved these guys. They'd saved him from going too far and bringing some of that humanitarian side back before he knew it'd gone. He was dare he say it despite some of the things here safe. He was safe cooped up doing his thing in Ops. Despite this he still couldn't help missing some of the other work that had been presented.

"Fine. I need the others here though" Contrary to what he'd just thought he'd said in his head he needed Torchwood just as much. They'd saved him in a completely different way, sometimes he missed them more than he thought he would, sometimes wanted them more than his team here. How could he explain that one? He tapped his ear piece then took his place standing in front of the TV monitor ready to address them all then remembered he would most likely need Nate there as well. Typical. He tapped again taking his glasses off as they all approached, Nate almost colliding into Gwen making him chuckle a little, only next to Hetty could Nate be just as aware and elusive. All were there now. Nowhere to go.

Why couldn't the past just stay the past?

Lately he wandered what would have happened if he'd stayed in Torchwood, how different he'd be, he didn't want to tell Callen or God forbid Hetty that he was thinking about sharing his time between the two of the agencies or going back to Torchwood for good. Despite his qualms and his very un-sexually repressed boss he missed it. Missed the highs, thrills and what they dealt with. The massive saving the people, saving sometimes the aliens. The massive saving the world. He sighed once more ready to face them once more.

Chapter Text

"So considering we're all back here in the same circle we've grown accustomed too since a month or so ago i'm guessing we're all wondering if there's anything else you got locked away or are we just here for the fun of it because I'd like to get going as soon as possible. Someone's life is at stake and unless this is an emergency" Callen trailed off waiting for his answer. He had yet again folded his arms in front of t-shirt, usually he'd be a lot less wary about speaking to his tech however something was throwing him off. Something was preventing him from going over to him and physically asking him to spit it out already and get his head back on together if he could. To keep constant tabs on him since this had started. To resist the urge to do so now. Something was preventing him from just giving his friend a monster of a hug.

Unsteady breaths came from the man standing trying to focus. He could do this..no matter how much he hated thinking about this he could get through this. They hadn't gone off the rails. Nor had he.

Yet.

 

"A-actually there kinda is. More than you know, more than you could ever think. But like last time I don't want to make the biggest deal about it, that honour can go to Jack, always. I don't want to pile this on you, there's so much mileage and I hate talking about this and I want to put my focus on finding Linda, putting a killer to rest but I know you guys and I know me and God forbid anything Torchwood that's been happening behind your back I've been dealing with by myself keeping you unawares at all costs. Just for your protection no denying to myself how tricky this has been. We can discuss all my weird and sad personas once we're done with the case. All you really need to to be honest right now is just that I've been so worried about you finding this out, when it's said and done I know we'd rather have everything out in the clear. To be completely honest here as well...I don't think you could handle this much at one time even with all we've seen. I think once you see your first let's say 'odd' for now object which causes things to happen without knowing then you'll know how you'll really feel about all of it"

"We can't keep doing this, just tell us outright Eric and now. We'll just add it to the pile of stuff you never thought to tell us filing it for future references. For y'know when we have time or that person's life ends real quick" Kensi bit back a little harsher than she had intended having fully expected the usually shy man recoil into himself forgetting once more just how once influence the away team had on him. He stood tall, hands clasped at his sides instead of at a tablet, face stoic not intent on showing any emotion. Or at least not right now she hoped. Kensi had just been about to apologise when he answered her voice even with his not voicing any. Torchwood had clearly done something. This man was not their friend. No matter what jokes he tried to make or who he spoke to, this month was someone who didn't exist to them. This man was a shadow.

"Fine but don't say I didn't warn you especially when you all freak out and discover what a mistake this was"

"Eric are you sure you're up to this. You're starting to shake and your face is falling a little not wanting to show anything. At any rate this is taking more of a toll on you then first thought. I could as your doctor tell them not too" Eric gestured his head to one side as a way of thanks. Despite his harsh demeanour Nate could see the inner turmoil he was dealing with right now. Definitely good he confided - sort of - in him when he could even if it sometimes annoyed him.

Hetty was in charge sure but it was up to Nate to follow through and connect with them all. He was right, he did someone on his side even if he was a little confused by the new reveals; he did need to get this out, if they were really there for him, this'd prove it. He'd have to thank Nate later.

"Yea but I think i'd rather have that than Hetty's stare. I'm okay. You know you guys always appear at the most inopportune moments and now there's all this stuff I have to figure out. Nothing can go back to what it was before. Everything's changing and we gotta be ready. Torchwood...Torchwood is so am I but my past is a whole other ball game. . Just when all the shock's warn off like it will, promise me you leave these guys alone. That you don't contact them to find anything more out or shut down the good work they're doing. As much as I love you guys I love them too, they were my first family and sorta my protectors. Hurt them I hurt you. Game of chance"

"Eric please just tell us please I-we WE! We love you" Deeks tried to smooth over thoroughly embarrassed but praying the others hadn't caught on. Wait hang on did he just admit to himself he not only liked him but loved him? Oh no, that went far beyond anything. This man was proving to be far more dangerous, he couldn't. Eric however had turned a little red trying to control some of the butterflies, he started to think he had a small chance at that little slip-up. Hopefully things would come to a happy pass.

"I love you too. I love you all but where do I start?"

"From the beginning, wait no maybe not that. How'd you fit in Torchwood? Where was your family"

Eric squared his shoulders taking in a short breath having not expected the question relating to his personal life. He thought it would just be work related. He should have known better. Besides they were world renowned investigators and he trusted them. He trusted them. He could trust them with this along with Torchwood's secrets, all they'd have to do was bottle them up with their own so far. At least that was one thing with both places - they were never boring.

"Hang on, Jack? Ah Harkness?"

"Uh buddy, he's not here" Callen started when Eric changed tactics.

"Captain" Like magic he appeared, anything to help boost the man's already massive ego and he was there ready to listen although thinking about it Eric frowned. Jack had lost more than enough, maybe this was one of those things he held onto. Maybe he should apologise for all the times he'd assumed Jack had nothing better to do with his time other than become a brooding peacock even if Jack had always told him it was fine for him to tease. He snapped back into awareness to the man in question's voice making sure no one else was in the building before baring close to chest secrets. There went Jack looking at him like that again. He prayed they wouldn't have any heart to hearts until afterwards - Callen would have his head for one. Hetty too actually -

"Beale"

"Things have finally come to a head, my past for one"

"Well I say no. Not a chance, we've revealed enough, so have you"

"I wasn't asking, I'm..telling? Yeah I'm telling you. They deserve to know who I am. All the parts of me including the bits I hide away from"

"You've come such a long way Eric. I don't want to see you the way I saw you at the start. I think we'll leave you to it, it's not our place to hear you. Unless you need us, we'll be round the corner. Good luck" There went the hand on the shoulder again, such an affectionate gesture never went unnoticed from Jack and Eric was always thankful for the support he was given.

"Now was that just me or was that kinda disturbing for everyone" Deeks joked to try to bring some light to the room which must have worked a little as they all rolled their eyes in time used to their LAPD detective. Eric had gained a small smirk but extinguished it fairly quickly when he remembered why they were all standing around. Back to him then.

"So where were me, ah yes I remember my own personal hell" He tried to joke alongside but faltering. Especially when he'd realised there were others were around watching his every movement listening far too intently to his words.

"Eric - " Nate started ready to stop him immediately. Having been Eric's confidante all these years and what he had danced around whenever they spoke about worries, he didn't care what the others thought and would spare a confession for another day, Eric's mental health was far more important than anything even this.

"I'll be all right Nate, just like last time I'll get through it. I've got your support as well after all not matter how weird it's gotten. I guess I need to get it fully out in the open finally. That way there's no secrets left, no hidden extra's. I know what I am, who I've been, what I've done. You learn to live with it, come to terms with it all. This is all just...so..so Torchwood. Past, parents everything. Sounds like something out of a bad UK reality show, you ever seen it? God it's ridiculous, parents spy on their children while they're on holiday to make sure they aren't getting up to anything illegal but hey hey guess what sometimes they are but guess what they're unaware. What a breach of privacy. Imagine not trusting your kids that much. Then at the end it's all awkward..and I will carry on with my original point"

"Please last time you spoke this much my brain almost fried with your excited nerdiness" Sam grinned.

"You liked the game just as much as I did Sam"

"That's cos I enjoyed being able to beat your ass so easily at it G"

Eric interrupted their constant friendly bantering by just starting his story. How else? OSP all sat up straighter in their seats ready.

 

"I was young, naive as well I guess, My parents despite all those things you hear about 'troubled children' were great. We got on well, and then something happened maybe they saw something or been in something but they became a little withdrawn not to say they didn't stop caring for me or loved me any less God no, just a little distant. Became a little extra wary, a little more concerned for my safety. It was only until I learned they'd become integrated into a gang for a while when younger then came out of it when they learned they were pregnant with me. They came after them. Uhh they found us when I was 8, I was told to hide somewhere in the house. Hid upstairs in our spare attic room then about half an hour later or so after hearing an array of different voices I heard gunshots then a car drive off. Heard a distressed phone call to an ambulance"

He took a small shaky breath to help cope, his worst memory to ever exist stained in his mind forever - well besides the one he'd get to eventually much as he wanted all out in one line this story had to come first - he continued on with a nod to Nate who gently nodded back staying as the silent support.

"Paramedics did all they could but it was too late..to save her. At least I got to know her but dad never got over mum's death even if he tried as much as possible. When I said I'd be applying for places to study outside of the U.S..he freaked out. I guess he thought it'd meant losing me as well"

"So you studied all your computer stuff over in London?"

"Norwich. Well half of it, I finished the rest of my degree up here. I was sort of transferred over"

- "Hang on but you said you completed it over a number of years to me a while ago when I asked. Who'd allow someone to transfer on a part time course after a few years apart"

"Take a stab in the dark. Anyways can I get to my main part now?"

"We are listening intently Mister Beale if you'd only continued to speak instead of asking everytime someone interrupts"

"Errr...thanks I think Hetty. The reason why I went AWOL from my course, I. I went for a walk one day not far from my dorm, didn't look both ways while crossing, got caught off guard and caught. You have no idea how much I hated myself for not learning self defence any earlier which is why I'm so obsessed about it now always wanting refresher courses because no way am I allowing myself in that position again. Only later I found out I was their payment for their bank robbery gone wrong, no one really noticed I was gone til I didn't show up for class a week later. Quiet nerdy kid in the background, no one noticed really. And no, before you ask, was the robbery connected to my parents background. Just the worst random scenario I could have been involved with" He explained starting to feel the bitterness back on his tongue.

"How did they keep you underground for?" Nate asked putting it into his notes for later. He'd always known something was there just not what now, he was getting them, this could contribute to all the things he had heard from vague answers when a case threw him off. How had he coped on his own for so long? How'd he manage to talk to him when he pressed on some issues like this asking for opinions and how he was doing?

"3 years. And honestly I'm surprised I survived. They sent the police on all kinds of witch hunts, wild goose chases, it was unbelievable. Once they were right on top of us and I screamed so loud hoping they'd hear losing my voice in the process for about a week. My captors had however convinced them there was no funny business happening and it was most likely me having a fit or nightmare or something, they were clever I'll give them that. That was only the first year. Year two I spotted a walkie talkie in the corner. Ancient but it worked, I listened to the voices, found out some info. No one had been ordered to stay with me that day maybe because of another heist? I don't know.

Anyways I'd found out where they were next hitting, dialled a radio frequency I knew sending word out and at the same time guess who came back? After that I wasn't fed for two days or so. At the time I remembered feeling so weak, defeated moreover hating myself for it. I couldn't believe I hadn't gone crazy either. 2 years on and still sane. I asked myself what was so different about me when I heard or read about others having that mentality"

"Especially in such a high stress situation. It's wonder you didn't lose hope either. You mentioned 3 years in capture, what happened in your 3rd?" Now fully focused on Eric. This man could not catch a break.

"Police managed to find you?" G asked looking over his tech getting more worried about him each passing day when something new was mentioned connecting his team mate to something tragic, turns out he and the tech were starting to have more in common more than first thought and to him this was not okay. Nell mentioned in passing that he could have made a gadget or found another walkie talkie. Eric shook his head a little.

"Actually while I know the police did and tried everything they could, I know in their hearts they'd given up and put me as a cold case, to them I was most likely now a certified dead man. Not many people as we know in these situations end up being found alive. However here's the real kicker I haven't told you guys. It didn't feel like 3 years.

"What do you mean?"

"You laughed the first time I mentioned the supernatural and fair enough do did I. I was permanently stuck in groundhog day, my own personal hell without knowing. Then something big happened, just like when I was 8 I heard voices then a gun going off. I saw a tall man with a group of people following behind him. I watched a woman turn something off next to another man in a pressed suit, my captors finally on the ground not moving. They'd shot them but then..they died in a fire they'd set alight once they pulled me out of there. Right into the ground all while screaming. I fell to the ground as well finally having it all catch up. I spent 3 years in capture but to me it had only felt like 2 months or so. I thought it'd been 2 months. Alien device. No alien people, that always creeped me out. Just some morons finding it and using it for their own gains. Used it for sport on me to see what it could do because they were sick individuals" There he breathed out, his two worst memories come to life. Hopefully he wouldn't ever have this brought up again by them now they had their answers.

"So these people who saved you?"

"Torchwood. Bingo. I recalled the next day I'd woken up in a very different place than before. Turns out they'd found out about the case demanding for the police to hand it over and wanted to make sure I wasn't one of the evil ones so they say or had anything y'know stuck inside me or my brain. Weird but hey this is Torchwood here. We live off this nonsense. Still yet to be really freaked about it, can't wait for that day"

"Wait, wait hold on. You went through all that with sanity intact due to that device, get taken somewhere else against your will again so why'd you join Torchwood? Not something a victim of something like that would choose do" Kensi asked a little calmer while also being a little deflated she'd let rip without knowing all these facts beforehand.

"That's just it. I'm not a victim. Sure bad things happened to but I got off lightly. Could have been a hell of a lot worse besides at this point I knew I wanted to help people. Save them. Torchwood..they saved me. I felt for a while that I owed them. When I got to know them, the ethics and when I got to know I was protecting the world. Saving it! What other job gives you that option?

"Mr Beale, while I'm enlightened by the tales of your heroics and indeed concerned for your well being more than I most likely have ever been, we still would like to know exactly just how you joined Torchwood"

 

 

Flashback. Torchwood, Owen's med bay.

Jack leant on the banister waiting for the man they'd rescued come to his senses, didn't mean he wasn't going to escape the full Harkness treatment though. Besides no one could deny the man was cute. Ah there were the fluttery eyes. Although Ianto might kill him beforehand if he kept it up any longer.

"Wakey wakey time to rise and greet the day sunshine"

Eric blinked coming back into consciousness and sound mind. He rubbed his eyes noting they still felt heavy. Sitting up he took more stock of the person standing next to him rolling his eyes at the man perched on the mini staircase then focused on the thing the medical man had turned his attention to, were they results? The aforementioned man then rolled his eyes once more before speaking, his accent more clipped.

"Well answer 'im then mate, won't wait forever" Eric now becoming more aware of his surroundings and the people standing around him sat forward a little more on the bio bed.

"I-i uhh. Where am I? This isn't the place I was in. Y-you're the ones who burst in last minute, you broke in. You saved me. I thought I was never getting out. Thought I had a chance of really dying there anymore than I thought I'd been. You saved me"

"Smart and cute, a man after my own heart"

"Where exactly am I? Doesn't look like the friendliest of places...I mean not that here isn't better than where I was"

"So kiddo, quite an adventure you've had. Care to tell us the details" Eric note he had skipped past his little slip up of his painful memories and actually felt more than grateful. They seemed like decent people unlike his captors. For some reason he felt like he could trust them as well.

"All I remember is being grabbed I tried to break free, didn't work. I thought I'd been there for a month or two not 3 years. God. What about my dad? He can't lose another person, what would it do to him? Oh I...what could he be assuming...oh god the worst. Oh God"

"Rest assured when we took over we made sure to keep your dad in the loop obviously we've taken out some of the details out. We've never let him lose hope. We've contacted him, you can speak to him on the phone whenever you want...well after we get the results of these tests back. At this moment in time we can't let anyone near you just as a precaution"

"Oh wait what precautions? Hang on I saw something before I passed out. You were switching something off. Everything came flooding back, that thing you turned off gave me my memory back. You weren't freaked out, none of you were freaked out. Why weren't you freaked out?" Jack's smirk fell as it slipped into more of a hardened mask. What could have caused such a reaction?

"Not happening"

"Results are done. Perfectly healthy even with that short loss. Nothing to concern us" Now Eric hadn't missed that remark or the pointed look he gave towards the American. No way were they getting away with this, he had gone through hell - without even knowing what exactly it was! - he deserved to know. Deep in thought he hadn't even seen Jack place a cup in his hand slipping something in.

"Well drink this and we'll set you on your merry way" Eric readily agreed, as much as he appreciated what they'd done he'd rather get back to reality but something stopped him. The water was a little cloudy for a few seconds. He had been so stupid to trust, to put his guard down for five minutes, to think they'd give him the truth, the comfort and the safety he needed after what had just happened. Not even five minutes and he'd already fit the Torchwood bill he'd be thinking much later on in life. Not wanting to let anyone in moreover wanting the best life - the best protection and resources - for friends and family even if had meant lying and going into the fire multiple times. Oh and the stupid sacrificial urge in them all - but at least Jack topped all of them there. Even if it was disguised as 'heroics'

"What's in this? Why won't you answer my questions properly. I saw what I saw and I know by the way you're all acting weirdly around me as if you're all rehearsed at this confirms you're hiding something from me. I want answers. I just lost 3 years of my life causing stress to people around me. People possibly thinking they're never going to see me again! What did that thing do to my brain? I want the truth. I'm not drinking that and I'm not leaving til I get my answer" He folded his arms together trying to keep his focus glancing down at his feet more than he thought he should have when confronting someone. He'd never been good at those but the minute Jack spoke saying just the word 'tough', it went straight back up now facing the man in the trench coat, okay so he didn't like confrontation but he was also determined. He needed the truth to continue on with his life. Why couldn't they see that? Understand that? Before he could speak with his mouth running away someone else spoke for him.

"I...Jack have we not put this young lad through enough, while he may not have known it. he just helped us track down a real threat. I say we should at least give him a chance. Besides he look like someone who'll just keep on asking, clearly something has to have occurred for him to be put into ours and our places's futures. What's your name by the way assuming you have one? In fact I'm fairly sure you have one"

"Beale, Eric. Wait I never finished my degree!"

"Ah, I seem to recall a transfer I made when we found you if you'd like to take up your studies again mind you, you can finish it now or go to the L.A based place in a few years if you'd like. Either will take you" Jack had scowled at the ending almost ready to rip the Welsh man's head off while he faced him off not ready to back down and the Londoner rolled his eyes. This was usual then?

"Jones, Ianto Jones, do not...do not! Are you suggesting what I think you are? Really?"

"He shows promise I believe besides weren't we looking for an extra member?

 

Present Day

"Wait so Ianto kept tabs on your work and school life then decided that this was your calling because of some capture? Never mind the fact this was going to be messing with his mind?" Kensi jumped into the fold once more not believing what she was hearing so that she started to get mad that his team mate's safety wasn't the first thing on their minds. Before she got up to slap Ianto or something Eric had rolled his eyes stepping in to defend him when Jack got there first.

"Actually I believe you'll be delighted to know after Ianto said it, he backpedalled almost instantly not wanting a challenge or hurting someone's mind anymore than already. He then went to the retcon idea. Eric thought about it, decided to fight his case despite not knowing anything about us heading straight into pleading he needed something to keep him sane. As if anything Torchwood is. Fight, determination and his apathy to what he discovered...after the first faint that is, showed us just how much he wanted to become a part of this and our world"

Gwen stepped up next still a little wary of them, she hadn't known how strong the bonds were here, sure they all had them - being a copper had that sort of perk - but she guessed because this was undercover operations and the things they'd be seeing they'd need to have people to lean on and keep compassion between them.

"I never really got to know this lovely chap here properly seeing as I joined soon after...well after everything that happened beforehand. I can tell you though that he is a true hard worker fully dedicated to doing the right thing no matter how hard it can be. You should be proud of him"

"And who said we weren't huh? You gotta push all my buttons instantly. In one go?" Gwen had been instantly chastised by Sam and Eric couldn't resist the giggle that built up in one go.

No wonder Jack had had trouble at the start getting along with her. He cleared his throat as Tosh moved to speak a lot more carefully and usually when Tosh spoke it was clear and meant the end of discussion to get back to whatever they were doing. Mainly because where she and most often than not Ianto were concerned they had a bit more awareness and sense between them. He'd had less altercations with them at any cost. Or at least that's how Eric had thought them to be like.

"I suppose you want me to sing his praises as much as possible. I'm telling you now I won't be doing that. It's like everyone who comes through any law enforcement, we've all done things just ours is a little more...special . Sometimes there have been disagreements, for the most part things have been okay. All you need to know is standing here before you no questions barred. All you have to do ask. You should also accept the fact that he doesn't have to say anything, after all you would not like others rooting into your personal life constantly, I fail to see how this is any different" Eric could only touch her elbow in fear of losing it though he knew she'd appreciate the small gesture.

"Eric why did you? You just let the others answer for you. I'd quite like the real one" Callen attempted to ask taking Tosh's words on board.

 

 

Flashback

"So you work with other organisations to protect us. From some alien species and what I had surrounding me was an alien device? You're all used to this? So do vampires and ghosts exist?"

All of Torchwood were watching on as he took the information in, the man had fainted however beyond that hadn't appeared to be going loopy over it. The extra person they'd had before didn't have such a strong mentality and ended up having to be retconned before the Weevils had gotten to him. And they'd read Beale's files or rather Ianto had. He really could be useful given the chance.

Jack couldn't have this. He was not here to recruit. He was here to help him forget. He would not be the cause for another untimely death.

"Sorry to break our impending relationship up but you need to take another trip to dreamland" Eric's eyes narrowed as he looked the American up and down. This was his future. His life. His memories! Surely he got a say in what he remembered or forgot. Invasions of privacy and all that, he already had some of his innocence stolen and the fact someone had made him miss 3 years of his life turning it into 2 months? He didn't want to forget anything more. His decisions. As he looked across, he saw them all starting to argue, on behalf of him not even consulting what he wanted! Not on. He knew he had to speak up never mind if he couldn't yell over them or any people really.

"If I may? My world view and everything I thought I knew about myself and the world is being called into question, everything I hold dear. You knew me without knowing me, while I'm grateful to you for helping rescue me I don't think you're going the right way of talking to me. I'm a human being. Talk to me like one. However I think we can safely say I've not lost my head just a part of my studies which i'll happily take up again after I've taken a few years away from it. I think right now it would bring back bad memories. I've decided I want to because this world sounds immense, fascinating, I want to jump right in. I want to learn what it really means to help. Moreover I don't want people to go through what I did. All I've got to offer is my computing skills nevertheless I could learn more. You have a small group. You could teach me the history while I work here. I'd rather work than forget Give me a chance to prove myself at least. I don't want to walk into something I could have prevented. I can't lose anymore"

"You make a good case. You're good kid. You don't know the risks or what it'll do to you"

"So teach me. I want this. Teach me the computers, the history. How'd I pop onto your radars anyway? There's another reason you managed to find me, to take a risk here"

"You're a computing genius, you figure it out. Fine, you went into areas you shouldn't however so does Tosh, you're a sound man. We can train you though you'll have to fight maybe learn some gun laws. All the way. We'll teach you.

"I can handle this. You watch me. I'm prepared to do anything to save others"

 

"In that case. Welcome to Torchwood Eric Beale"

Chapter Text

"Sooo" Eric started clearly becoming uncomfortable again with all the attention on him.

"Eric can I go ahead and schedule a talk with you if it's okay with Torchwood that is. Actually could I go ahead and schedule some for all of you?" Jack almost went to decline when Eric jumped back in.

"Nate I'm fine with you talking to me, in fact I think it'll do me some good and we've talked about some of the things beforehand but the others might not want you going into their lives. Even if it might help them. We're all different as you keep saying and you know different things work for different people. Can we please turn our attention to the suspects now. I want to get this over and done with. I want these families to have peace and for this over to be as quickly as possible now"

"Very well then love. Let's draw it all together then, shall we?"

Sam motioned for Nell to bring up all the information they had on screen. A picture of Danny appeared. Then a picture of Jon Dene next to another of Jack Desir (who they all cringed at especially the fact that one of these two was an alien) when another picture of the notes also were brought to the fore front.

"We know Danny was killed by Ecstasy but not why Linda was sent the notes. However we think they are the same guys who took Danny who have taken her"

"We know this. What I want to know is why the notes?"

"I think either to sidetrack us or to warn us and I'm leaning more towards a warning. They think we won't get there in time to save her. And they're violent. God knows what they're planning"

 

Eric had started to bolt back up to OPS to be near his computer but when he thought about it...he wanted to be back in action. Back with Jack and the team as a one-off. Callen and the rest wouldn't be happy with him though even if he was good in the field. Nate might try and argue his case but ultimately he needed Hetty to sign him off. And he wanted to which mattered more for him.

"I deserve to have this closure as well"

"Oh really, and what closure would that be Mr Beale"

"Hey Hetty. I guess moulding the teams together and it seems like this is going back into my past somehow. I can feel it. Okay so one is actually an alien this time but I know just firsthand how much Linda is going through with the capture and the...well whatever is happening. I can go into the field Hetty, I swear it. I won't become any different. I need to be out there. Please Hetty"

"Mr Beale. I don't know about being the same person but even I can see where you're coming from and seeing as now you'll be talking to Nate about this sort of thing, I don't suppose I can say no especially as it's not my team you wouldn't be going into the fray with, am I correct?"

"Yes. Hetty, you won't regret this I promise. And whatever happens, thank you for letting me be part of NCIS even until now I've told lies and hurt the team, and you. Just thank you and I'm sorry"

"Yes well. I think you should go and get kitted out then, don't you?"

Then Eric did the thing he'd probably kick himself for the next few weeks if he came back from this - he hugged Hetty the tightest he could - and went to see Jack.

Hetty for her part had to take her glasses off for a quick minute and wipe her eyes. Eric was certainly a character and she was privileged to know him.

 

The L.A team had been putting their own gear together when he appeared. Deeks didn't know where to look either. Usually the man was in his shirts and shorts but here he'd made an effort to put long sleeves and trousers on before putting a body vest on. All of L.A stared as he went towards Torchwood all inwardly blanching. It was all starting to hit them. Everything Eric had said, everything they betted he had done while being there. How cold he seemed to be towards them right now.

Torchwood had taken it in their stride. Tosh, Owen, Gwen and Ianto had simply come up to him offering help with their own gear and gadgets unidentifiable while Jack had decided to nod and come towards him.

"Eric. I would ask if you're sure about this but from the eyes I can see whatever I say, you'd still do the same thing you're about to do now. Just...be careful. Don't race off and do heroics. This team clearly need you. I suppose we also do. I'm proud of you kid. Now we have a spare Torchwood ID card here somewhere. Ah! Thanks Ianto, here ya go. Welcome back. Let's go save the world"

 

It didn't take long to track them down thanks to the fact whoever these people were they had been actual morons in not turning off their GPS and leaving a trail of some stuff L.A did not want to know whatever it was behind them.

They hadn't wanted to ever see Eric with a gun either.

But there they were. And there they were. They could see the three shadows clearly despite the night thanks to the lighting of the moon. One looked to be on the edge of falling over from the spot they were occupying on the ground. That figure seemed to be Linda-Foster Jane and then the next they saw were the two suspects ready with their guns trained on her.

Callen was ready to re-group when he saw it in case they were about to have a victim dead instead of a victim alive but Torchwood were lead on this case and they knew it. Eric was ready with them as well. He made a motion to Jack to which Jack shook his head.

And before they knew it Eric had started to make his way towards the tent they were hiding in. Jack had thrown his hands up in the air as if the world had defied him. The team then rememebered that Eric had done things like this from before when they'd eavesdropped on a conversation that didn't seem so long ago now. Then they remembered before they went out that Jack hadn't wanted him to try any 'heroics'.

Oh God.

They weren't ready to lose another vital part of the team. Their friend. Not after Dom.

 

Eric had lifted his weapon and all of a sudden knocked on the opening of the tent headbutting the person who answered it. Okay good start. But then all of a sudden the second person had given Eric the slip, knocked the gun out of his hand and dragged him to where Linda was being kept.

All of NCIS and Torchwood ran towards him dodging the things one of their suspects was throwing their way then when they had come close to him started to fight with his fists. He'd just managed to throw Deeks out the way when Sam came up from behind having grabbed Kensi's taser in the scuffle and aimed at him feeling the anger within him. God he hoped this one wasn't the alien. And if it was then that he didn't have any invulnerability to tasers.

Kensi had clapped him on the back taking her taser back then when it seemed the man was getting back up, made the fully rational decision to taser him again.

And then the first man came back up from the knock on the head Eric had given him. This wasn't how they wanted their rescue to go.

The man got the jump on Gwen, then Ianto then Tosh no matter how hard they pulled their fists to the man's face. Callen then tried to aim for his legs which happened to be a mistake when his hands got stuck to the man's leg and managed to throw him back to the ground a few times over until Callen himself was ready to call it quits. Deeks had tried to team up with Kensi but both upon seeing Callen get hurt backed away slowly with Sam to figure out a new plan. They went closer to Jack and Owen as well.

"Jack, we need something new"

"Yeah I can see that"

"This isn't a time for your weird charm. Can we please just save our friends?"

And it was then at that point they noticed both men had their guns trained on the team. They had them surrounded and none could get to their guns that had been thrown off them in order to fight with their fists. They were well and truly screwed. Only Owen's voice could be heard when they started to usher them into their 'base'.

"BLOODY TORCHWOOD. BLOODY 'ELL HARKNESS!"

For the first time, the undercover team agreed with them.

 

 

When everyone had come to, they surveyed their surroundings. Eric was still sitting limply near the victim. The guns were still trained on them even though the men were taking a stance outside as if they were waiting for more teams to come bustling through. God they really were morons.

When Eric came to in the next fifteen minutes, his head hurt but then saw that the faces of his friends hurt more. Jack looked like he was ready to commit Eric's murder. He chanced a glance at Callen who looked away the minute they were eye to eye.

"I thought we could trust you Eric. That you wouldn't do the stupidest thing like I don't know, get us all involved with your messes?!" Kensi almost screamed.

"Yeah Eric, I actually agree for once. This is what you did all the time at Torchwood, isn't it? Just hurt people. Get them killed. Well I won't stand for it. We're getting out of here. Whether we can forgive you for putting this person's life at risk as well is another matter" Deeks added in which hurt both more than they could say.

Callen finally spoke up as well with Sam making sure to check him over. "I'll admit I didn't know how to take all your confessions but here we are. An innocent life on the line. And here you are. The cause of it. Your time in Torchwood, how cold were you really? How much did you take. How high and mighty did you feel knowing that possibly even the aliens lives you took were not of great importance. You managed to with your heroics knock almost all of us out at the same time. We could have died. Would you even have cared or just dumped our bodies, said goodnight, told Hetty you were off and went back to your old team without a care in the world because that's who you are now. Someone cold. Someone who I don't want to know"

"Know what you mean G. I don't think I could be associated who thinks they're saving the world but saving themselves"

"Someone heartless" Kensi finally finished up. All of Torchwood gritted their teeth keeping eyes on their exits and on the guns they'd aquired from where they'd been sitting. They'd heard all this before but didn't know if their old friend had. They had to figure out which was the alien as well. Either way they had their guns set to stun for it and then if they needed it, to kill.

 

Eric had had some trouble listening in having some unwanted memories crop up from the last time he was in a situation like this. He knew where they were coming from though and he had told them that the shock would wear off though dammit all if it didn't sting. In fact he noted he moved closer towards Owen. Owen of all things! He decided he'd carry on as best he could. As if they weren't ready to flee at the sight of him. They had Linda here and the suspects outside. If they could work together for the short amount of time then they could all get away scott free and have it out later.

"I'm thinking maybe we try going outside and facing them. Do you know which one's the alien or if there's an alien device somewhere?"

No such answer came.

"Fine, I'll go myself then" At which point Jack had pulled him back down glaring at him.

"You will do no such thing. Didn't I tell you not to do this sort of thing again. Now I know you got bad memories and you want out but we need to do it rationally. I know you had good intentions, I can see that Eric but if you think I'm not mad about it then you're wrong. Now I saw Mr Stubborn over here being tossed around when you grabbed one's leg. Who? And you can cuss Eric out later. Now who?"

"Jack Desir. He's definitely the one and as for any alien devices, I don't know. How would I know?"

"What you mean, that thing in the corner which so blindingly says 'don't touch'. Sure no alien stuff here" Came Tosh's voice.

Eric wondered over towards it. Then stopped instantly.

"It-t-t looks like the thing they used on me. I don't know how long she thinks she's been here for but thankfully she's only been missing for a few months. Do we have any tweezers or something to cut the wire? There's only one and I'm betting it's the one we use"

None spoke again.

"Okay I know you aren't happy with me right now but as Jack said you can yell at me later but if we could I don't know HELP?"

"Fine. Use my hair clip" Kensi tossed it over towards him as he diligently cut the wire forcing Linda to 'wake'. She looked as dazed as she most likely felt. Eric rose into action whispering as much as he could.

"You're with NCIS and Torchwood, it's okay. You're safe with us I promise you. We won't let you come into harm now you're in our hands. We're still in a position of capture so don't make any sudden movements or anything. I've dealt with this sort of thing before. You're in good hands. How long did they hold you for, d'yknow?"

Linda couldn't do much except hold up her fingers. She lifted one up then nodded once Eric had asked if it had been a month. Eric had breathed a sign of relief when it hadn't been anymore than that and seemed to have all of her memories intact from the get go.

Now...

How to get out of here?

Chapter Text

No one had decided to face Eric after his outburst or when he wandered over towards Linda and comforted her knowing full well he was keeping down a whole shed-load of emotions. When he came back - leaving Linda in her own pace to recuperate quietly and without the rest of them all staring at her or at least the illusion of it - he braced himself for the sleuth of words he was going to hear.

"Okay, you wanted to cuss me out? Well now we know that Linda's safe and that we can make a plan to get out of here shortly then I guess you better do it now. Make it quick"

"Eric. Of course we're mad at you. You jeopardized not only our victim's safety but yours. You could have died. I don't know who any of us would have been able to cope. Torchwood may be used to saying goodbye easily and thinking them better than everyone else but not us" Kensi summed up for him looking to Callen and Sam for backup. Jack had however scoffed and ready to fight his case as quietly as he could so as not to alert the kidnappers outside but Eric had stepped up again scoffing with him.

"I don't think you're in any position to criticise do you Eric? You just said yourself we could say whatever we wanted about you because you compromised a mission" Sam continued on. To which Eric scoffed gently rolling his eyes at the same time.

"Yeah I did but where in the brief did I say you could do the same to these guys? It may have been a throw-away comment but it still matters to me. I told you to not get mad at them and here you are again ignoring me. And you're wrong. Just because you don't like what they've done or are going to do, this organisation has saved countless lives and will continue to save countless more. It's got a great leader at the front who actually does care more than he could ever let on because then it hurts more. Ianto has the best organisational skills I've ever seen...he's also one of the most empathetic. I would wager anything that he keeps the office in line and he knows everything. Gwen was thrusted into this world on almost a whim and here she is. Sure she can be a little overbearing but then according to you guys so I can I right? Tosh is one of the biggest genius I've ever had the privilege to know and her gadgets are what led us to this area. And Owen...Owen has come back from the dead. These guys are some of the best and I've had enough of you lot judging them. We're so close to taking this whole op down and I'd quite like it if you could get along for that remaining amount of time"

Silence reigned over the tent.

"If you're fighting our case, don't see why we shouldn't fight yours - "

"No. Thank you. Seriously I'm grateful but we need to keep clearing the air. Hetty can hang, draw and quarter me when we get back but for now you can say whatever while I think up a way to get out of here"

"Sure. So why do Torchwood risk lives, why did Jack say you did this sort of thing again?" Callen asked calmer, calmer than he had been anyway.

"We don't risk lives. And if we do than it's only in the worst of situations. I always preferred leaping into the fold when I could and especially at the start because I still felt as if I was trapped and trying to prove myself. I know now that it was wrong, I learnt how to make sure I stayed on the sidelines until I knew I could into the fray and not be emotionally pulled towards them. I kept learning this and when I came to you guys I let my vulnerable side slip because I could now. I didn't have to worry about carrying myself everyday"

"Wait, I know that the 30 deal would come into this thinking but I don't know what you meant about being vulnerable" Deeks asked letting his own shoulders drop from the spat earlier.

"I...i...it's hard to explain. Torchwood is so closed off to the world and when you're dealing with the dark underbelly then it's worse. You see the worst in humanity. And the best. Yeah there are some that come to bring peace but other times it's not that and you have your orders. Shoot to kill. Unless you build up a defence, this job'll break you in more ways than one. I'm not defenceless like you all seem to think I am still. I might work in tech and able to work in the field - this notwithstanding - but you still me as something to protect. And you were right Sam. I was more interested in saving myself because I have nothing else to save. If it means I stay alive. Yeah I get you're finally seeing me for what I am. A skilled agent who just wants the world and others to be safe no matter the cost and if it means I make a few mistakes along the way then that's what you guys are here for right? Didn't I also tell you I can be heartless at the start of all this? Now I can't turn back the clock and make you forgive me but would you take an extremely heartfelt apology and next time you just don't talk about this?"

"He's giving you more than enough, trust me. Not many people would get the real deal, you'd be wise to take it. Eric I'm not angry with you. I knew what you had and wanted to do. Actually I'm pretty proud of you for standing ground long enough knowing that the rest of us would come to your aid. Owen, let's go over to Linda and make sure she's just sleeping and not like you were assuming earlier 'incapacitated' "

Tosh was nothing if not lovely Eric had decided a while ago. He would not get on her bad side ever though as he had seen that once and never again. And with that she practically dragged Owen over.

Jack and Ianto also decided it was wise to follow a few seconds over to give them space.

Another silence came over them. It wasn't exactly a nice one.

 

 

"Deeks, not that it matters...but would you mind not also going to check on Linda? I think the others have it handled"

"Give me one good reason as to why not Eric. I'm like the others right now but not in the angry way"

"In what way then? Just tell me even if you don't think i'll like it. I'd like the truth"

"Oh isn't that fantastic. You should have told us from the beginning y'know. I'm hurt Eric, okay?! I'm hurt you felt like this was the best way for you to exist. I'm hurt that you had a sort of difficult life, tried to bury it so you could move forward, and yet somehow you're still here. Most of all if we're being honest, i'm more mad at myself. I'm mad that I couldn't tell you were close to breaking. I'm mad I didn't even bother asking you about your past and who you are. Yeah I hated the fact you so easily ran into the fray and that I almost didn't get to you in time. God Eric you make my hairs stand on end more than anyone. I wouldn't have you any other way"

Eric had been hanging his head in shame a little but it almost clicked at how fast he rose it at the ending of his speech. He didn't want to get his hopes up especially not while still in capture and really was here really the place for a love confession?

"Eric c'mon. Um, don't leave me hanging with false hope here, it's just -"

"Stop. It's becoming real very fast. At the start I'd probably have jumped you and snogged you on the spot regardless of who was in the room but now...you know most things about me including the not so good ones and I guess what I'm asking for is a bit of space before I drag you into my world. I don't want to go into it here either, it's not especially the best place. Just know I feel the same"

"I gotta admit I also woulda made a move a while ago but I was curious about your situation with Nell"

"We kissed once and I definitely fancied her at one time"

"So..you're..?"

"Deeks if you're asking if I'm bi then that was the worst way to go about it. I am but that doesn't mean I don't run around after everyone or that I won't like you any less and besides does it really matter, I'm more than that"

"Eric. So long as we're on the same wavelength, I'm happy. And you can use my first name by the way not that I don't not mind whatever you call m because I don't but uh it's not cursed. I just wanted to know because I wanted to know more about you, I know and I get angry when that's all people focus on too but I meant it when I said I wanted to know more about you, if only up to 30 is all you have then I'm going to learn as much about you as I can and if you escape that 'deal' then I've got even longer. But enough about all this, how are you faring?"

"As fine as I can be cooped up in a tent with daggers being drawn at me and feeling like the walls could close in"

"Okay so distractions are good?"

"Yeah probably"

 

"So...Torchwood?"

"Yeah, Torchwood"

"Eric, I-"

"It's fine"

"No. No it's not and it's not that you think you should be the one giving the apology out here. It should by all accounts...be me. I messed up. We - I should have listened especially when we saw how you reacted when you first spoke of this. We shouldn't have kept digging, I shouldn't have made you feel as bad as I did even if you said the shock would hit us, shouldn't have forced you to speak about anything you weren't ready to, that's what separates us from the others and it sucks we didn't stick to that ideal. We preyed your past out leaving you in the dust. That hurts more than anything. And I am fed up, so fed up that you think so little of yourself, that you still think you should hide yourself. I care about you but that's nothing you don't know already and heyy everyone heard all of that, great"

"I am never letting you live this down. Ever" Kensi giggled trying to cover her mouth at both the boys clear embarrassment or Deeks rather.

"I caught it on camera! Hetty and Nate are going to love me more than they do already" Callen interjected.

"He's right though. Now we've had some time to calm down and come to proper terms and address our concerns with you, I think we're cool. I can't believe I'm agreeing with you, I need to go wash my brain out"

"Okay. Thanks I guess. We're all sorted. So I can't believe i'm in this sort of situation again. I'm thinking maybe we goad one of the people in here and then we can grab one of the guns off of them aka get our guns back. I'm sure Jack has an extra stun gun or two hidden in your coat pockets. Pass me one Jack"

The man in question had stared at Eric waveringly before seeing the fact he wouldn't be stupid this time and bring in everyone as much as he could, and Linda looked like she was fully restored but they needed to get her back to make sure she got the right support and counselling she would most likely be needing. Actually considering this place, she was probably getting more nervy each moment passing.

Jack tossed the gun over before starting to yell loudly at everyone creating as much of a racket he could until 10 minutes later...the captors arrived guns held at their sides.

Time for the off.

 

"I think you'd be wise to keep it down. We'd hate to have to...eliminate you"

"Nah I think I'm good. I want to talk to you. That's all. Just you and me. Let the others go. Leave me"

Kensi's strangled gasps coincided with the others having thought they'd be going up against up the man and alien together. They wouldn't let it end, not like this.

Jack and Ianto had exchanged looks while the undercover started to list their fears and the man with the gun poised started to grin. And then started to speak hoarsely.

"Very well, if that is your wish. However I think maybe I keep two back...in case you turn against me. I could let you choose though I don't think you'd choose wisely...so why don't we come to a compromise? I want the bulky man to stay and the one you apparently have been talking to most, the one most like shaggy from that TV show people claim to watch. The rest have 30 seconds to clear out otherwise I shoot your beloved American in the face right here, right now"

Callen knew from the tone of his voice he would not be joking. He couldn't believe he'd be involved in more hostage situations in his life time though. He wanted to know Eric was faring - the fact he was still standing in light of this was nothing short of incredible - and worried he'd be leaving his partner behind...and Deeks was someone he was counting as a friend now. He'd been thinking that for ages.

Jack saw the stop-start motion of the team leader. He could see the pros and cons weighing on him. Like Jack had said, he had countless faith in Eric moreover putting himself on the line was scary and shocking to the core because he knew, he knew Eric could be lost to them tonight if he wasn't the most careful he could be. Human lives and the burning families he created in the room would be destroying to the tech if he didn't get them out now. Jack grabbed Ianto's hand then Gwen's before pushing them to their feet with Owen grabbing Tosh and dragging them towards the others.

Ianto then titled his head towards Callen grabbing his arm to lift him and Kensi up to walk out calmly and slowly. On his way out he touched Eric's arm making sure to leave his earpiece there. Thankfully it blended into the jacket he was wearing otherwise it would've been even worse. With that earpiece if worst came to worse Ianto assumed then at least they could have time to say goodbye.

Callen had very quickly mouthed into Sam's ear that he'd better not up and die on him unless he wanted to come back and have him die twice and clasped Deek's hand. The look he received was worth it. Kensi had hugged both not wanting to let go until Tosh told her softly it was time to go.

Eric could handle this. If he didn't look at the tears forming in the girl's eyes or at the men still in the tent as payment.

 

"Well that was boring. I rather hoped they'd stay so I could shoot you. You're a pain in the neck. You just want to talk? I think you're a liar. The worst of them. You just wanted to get everyone out safely and if that meant endangering your own life than you would. However I now have the upper hand because I didn't let these two escape. I would have kept back that irritating other American with his smug face but...this oh this ahhaha this is gold dust. Look at you. The man who helped protect you..and the man you prove yourself that you're all innocent and that your hands are clean too. I have a revelation for you. He's not.

A man like you sacrificing himself has nothing to lose. Except the people he has. Did you expect to care? To fall so hard? Did you mean to murder me? The eyes narrowed and then Eric knew. This was the alien. Desir was the alien.

"Okay first I don't know who you are or what I did though I imagine you're talking about in the next few minutes but if you're being like this, I don't think I can apologise. You hurt a good man, a wounded solider and you decided to keep a woman under her will for a month because she thought it was wise to search for him herself. I don't like you. I don't think I like aliens like you, you give the others bad credit. I hate hurting your kind, and the fact you're using my friends against me? Well that's not been something that's been done before, right? I'm Torchwood. I've got enemies. All of this is proof you're not a nice person. Though I guess we're about to prove that I'm also not a nice person. Yeah maybe they don't know how much blood I have on my hand - innocent or not - they do know I have some though, it doesn't matter because they know who I am now. I may go on a Weevil hunt from time to time but I've never gone back into this world til now. Tell me what's so bad about protecting the world? I've got ears. I'm listening"

"Why not of course? But what's better than drawing life out of others purely for the power it creates? To feel something awaken in you. That man knew he nothing going for him, death welcomed him"

"No it didn't. Something tells me he tried to tackle you to make sure of it, you got a little bruise on your eye" Sam chimed in.

"You say you hate hurting my kind yet you do it. You say your hands are not clean and that these people know about some of it. I believe this is a lie to help them. They want to believe and see you as a technician safely hidden away not as a trained killer"

"I can either arrest you now or arrest you later. Your choice. Come quietly back to Cardiff with Torchwood and we can help you. Either way you will be locked up, doesn't matter where"

Deeks watched as the two sparred back and forth worrying for the younger man in front of him wishing for the best result. He didn't think he could carry on watching to be honest. Something was wrong though and having been a defence lawyer he could feel it, he hoped Sam could to with his SEAL training.

 

The alien clearly wasn't budging with his word or his gun. He knew it wouldn't end well when he fired a shot at the roof of the tent creating a hole in it.

"We're finished TALKING. I killed Danny because human blood is worth a lot on our planet and we had finished off our resources a year ago and I wasn't lying when I said I enjoyed seeing the life come out of those eyes. It was fun. Now I don't want to say goodbye to you just yet, I'm having too much fun playing with you so pick one of these two instead"

Both men's eyes widened at the thought. Eric remembered at that point the comms Ianto had planted on him.

"Sure I can choose, just stand outside and give me a minute to say goodbye maybe?"

Thankfully despite some of Desir's claims, he was fairly dim as he snarled and stepped out; he commed Jack.

"Jack, I haven't got long but I'm going to try and disable Desir. If anything goes wrong"

- "I know. Letter to your mum in the old drawer, letter to NCIS is in your OPS next to Nell right now and your other one to the blond haired beauty is in Hetty's tea cabinet. Eric...please be careful. I don't want you to die here. You're a good man Beale, I..I'll see you on the other side"

Jack switched off and Eric breathed heavily to the two people still with him.

"Don't do anything when he gets back in here. Let me sort this out, do not interfere with me. I'm gonna get you out of here"

Both nodded their agreement despite not liking it.

 

"Now where were we?" Eric tackled him to the ground grabbing the gun in his hands and knocked him out effortlessly with the butt of it before grabbing the rope that had been left behind from Linda's capture and tied it round as tightly as he could before half carrying him over to one side and dropping him there. The cry the alien had made had alerted the other man towards them.

He entered in his own gun brandished when Eric came out and stood in front of him with his glock back in hand as well.

"Who are you? One of NCIS's little crewman? Don't tell me, Henrietta Lange sent you? Whatcha going to do. I have you and your friends behind you there completely trapped. Tell me tech operator"

"Eric Beale, I'm surprised you've never heard of me. My advice? Run. Run before I catch you"

"You haven't answered my first question"

"I'm Torchwood, bitch"

 

With that he walked back towards one end of the tent, dismantles one of the tent poles before running back over to whack Issacs over the head, punching him once in the stomach to make sure he toppled over towards the ground.

All 3 had just been about to make a move when both awoke and somehow Desir had gotten free from his restraints.

"What an inconvenience"

"Are you kidding me? Did you not see what you just did?"

The alien snarled again as Eric spoke towards the more human of the two.

"Why do this?"

"He granted me power beyond this world, also money. Do you know who would kill to know things like this, weapons like this? I could be a billionaire tomorrow and I could get all the people who thought I never lucked out watch me luck out"

Eric seemed to think about this then drew his weapon back out when they lifted theirs.

"Do you know what Mr Issacs? I think maybe we kill the fiery one after all"

"I don't think so. I tried reasoning with you and you've left me with the only choice. And Sam, Deeks...I'm sorry. I've always been sorry, I should have told you. I'm not the man I was but I can't be the man you see before you now all bright and blue-eyed to you. Not ever again"

"Told us what?"

"What I'm about to do" Sam stared wordlessly at Eric and then Eric turned to Deeks eyes blazing with fear.

"You were never meant to be in my life. I never meant to let this happen. You're...what I always felt I needed. You're fantastic. I'm sorry. God I'm so sorry"

"Wait, wait, sorry for what, start making sense"

"Forgive me"

 

And with that he fired the gun into the other man's rib-cage. He watched as the man fell to the ground, saw Desir almost try to run away when Eric fired another shot watching the alien also fall down. Both dead but him still going. So close to having his name on a tombstone and gee he couldn't wait to have those nightmares added to the growing pile. Nate was going to have a field day with him when he got back. Hopefully Deeks and Nate would be able to go to him as well - after all the tall man had suggested speaking to them about this - moreover the fact that this was a Torchwood dilemma just helpfully added to it all. Stunning and bringing them back just wouldn't have worked in this situation, thinking like this was just going to give him a headache. He had tried to reach an agreement, it hadn't worked and his friends had seen him kill for the first time yet they were in the same law enforcement area so hopefully the repercussions wouldn't be too bad , Eric commed Jack instantly afterwards as promised alerting them to their presence;

"Eric? You okay?"

"I'm okay but they aren't. I knocked both out then they woke up, Issacs and tried to shoot me. I got to them before they got to me. We need a clean up and a cover story"

"Good. Trust me, you did the right thing, we'll get right on it. We're all on our way to you now. How are your friends?"

"Alive"

Chapter Text

Jack had instantly yelled for Owen to check everyone over and no he didn't care how long it would take. The man had then come towards Nate and Hetty slightly wary.

"You'll have to excuse us. You might also have to get yourself your own evaluation for your own agents, I have no doubt you can perform that task excellently. And yes I did just give you a compliment. Trust me it's warranted. Now listen I don't know what either of them said but -"

"We'll see to it they get the right results don't you worry Mr Harkness. Mr Getz is well equipped to help, just remember that he may not be able to repeat things said in confidence. Mr Hanna and Mr Deeks have been through worse and come through everytime, and while this is certainly an...interesting situation, I do believe they will be far more curious than changed"

"You have no idea how good it is to hear that, trust me. I do have to ask you some questions though, I imagine Mr tall, dark and not at all mysterious over here can give me a better view although that's not to say you wouldn't not know because I imagine you're someone who would know but -"

"Mr Harkness I think it best you stop talking and just ask your questions. I imagine they will all be back from your Mr Harper's examinations soon"

"Of course. Eric. He..um..he has been okay here right? He hasn't had any mishaps or anything we need to be aware of? I know he's been going out when he hasn't been working to sort out the Weevil population and other Torchwood like things which was thankfully nothing major, but he's never had anything happen to him that he's not said for fear he'd worry us?"

"If there's anything Eric wants to tell you, he'll tell you. Doctor-patient confidently"

"He's a resilient young man and he has been a wonderful and useful addition to our team despite his affinity towards dragging sand through the building along with his shoes. We're very grateful for him. As you have seen he is a changed one but I think the change by the sounds of things, it ended up being a good one. I must say I wasn't impressed at first what with the secrets and the constant worrying not just for myself however I do see now that it was a good decision for him, something good. I also would like to point out I am very much against what he has done although I do know he might not be here today if he had not done those things"

"You're being pretty contradictory Miss Lange"

"I suppose so but how else am I meant to be? Drag my feet and yell obscenities towards one of my most experienced and dedicated agents over something that happened so many years ago and something which I couldn't have controlled? Not to say that if I had I wouldn't have. That is nonsense and you know that Mr Harkness. I look out for my charges no matter the cost. You should know after all what with the palava between you and Mr Jones at the start of working together surely?"

Jack was torn between shock and glaring at the women not knowing how she knew that certain aspect of his life. So of course that was the time Owen had decided to let everyone go from his examination. Kensi, Callen, Gwen, Tosh and Ianto came towards them as the three made their own way to the main bullpen.

Kensi and Callen took their own respective desks and starting to look at the paperwork they'd have to do in disgust. It was one of the most mundane, brain numbing things and no one could bear staring at until they were physically told to by Hetty, it was a rare day if someone did otherwise.

"Where are the others?"

"Owen wanted them to be kept behind for something or other" Tosh answered.

"Can't say I'm wanting to know what the good doc has in store for them either. Sam's going to be a real grump about this as well"

"With you as a partner I can see easily why" Kensi bit back instantly with a grin on her face.

Tosh had been stood to the side watching as it played out enjoying the casual atmosphere. They wouldn't have this when they went back to Wales. Not when their base and work was so fast paced. Where everything hung in the balance on one second. God it was nice to slow down for a short while and recharge. To enjoy the company for once around her.

Just able to stop.


"So why were we lucky few kept behind" Sam had only just stopped wondering if Owen would actually stop with the needles and blood tests especially as it seemed as if the man was finding joy in their pain.

"Just wanted to give you some warning before you go back out there"

"Oh yeah?"

"I imagine your own operational doc will want to have words with you. I know it seems like it's something pretty pointless but you should say whatever you saw, heard or spoke about in that thing they called a tent. It'd be good for ya. The only way you carry on with these sorts of weird sightings is not by repressing them but by talking mind it's only with people in the know. Anyways I need to carry on my tests and put this all away so if you can all kindly shove off"

"Thank you Owen" Eric muttered under his breath as they meandered out of the makeshift medical wore a tiny smile as he heard it before huffing with the amount of work they've given him.

Sam had almost barrelled it out of the room and almost instantly put his head on the desk much to his own partner's amusement.

Eric had trailed a little further so he'd be walking in time to the man next to him trying to focus on his breathing since he had been running on adrenaline since they had got back only stopping to calm a tad when they had reached Owen's place. He needed the focus and the calm.

Eric's heart was racing not just from their ordeal though. He was so close to Deeks. If he wanted to - which he really did - he could grab his other hand and make his way down to the others clasping it knowing they were both safe and ready for the next bit of trouble.

Eric was prepared to keep walking after Deeks stopped him by holding onto his arm and spinning him round to face each other under the main archway next to the steps to OPS.

 

"Eric I -"

"Not here. Please not here and not now"

"Why, you regretting something already?" He winked as if to say he was joking concealing the fact he really wasn't.

"Deeks. Stop. I do want to talk to you but this isn't something for others to hear. Walls have ears. Can we just wait til Torchwood have gone and we're either going to be staying here late or"

"Or going to one of the other's houses. I'm guessing you won't be happy or comfortable with it? Too early on? Well then why don't we see each other in Ops later since I think you'll want your own private goodbye to the menace that have been your past team"

"I know you're trying to joke but I wasn't kidding from earlier. I meant it when I said they saved me. That's for later though"

"Sure, shall we then?"

"Are you going to be like this all the time?"

"What all suave and buck-eyed? Sure, why not?"

"They're waiting for us. We should move that way"

"Eric. Why not?"

"It...I. Could you file this away for later?"

"No. Seems like you Torchwood lot are adept at changing conversations you don't want to have and seeing as I've bagged myself one - and rightly so I may add - I need to have some straight answers"

"I really don't want to answer this. I'm not going to answer a lot of your possible questions sometimes because I won't be able to for safety and sometimes because I'm not sure you'll want to hear. I said not now for this conversation"

"If this is going to be something real then I want to be honest as possible in this. That includes a certain give and take. I've seen and heard worse, don't think you can't hold anything back from me even if you think I wont like or understand it. Right now it's your turn Mr Technician" Deeks had raised his voice a little whereas his counterpart had started to try to blend into the wall noting actually this was being pushed into public viewing.

"Deeks I just told you I didn't want this to be a public spectacle. We're drawing people to us and I'm not okay with that many eyes on me. I prefer to be in the background and talking back in Ops which feels like a safe haven. And I don't know if you know but I know that..if you push me on something I don't want to talk about then I won't be able to talk about it without feeling judged or forced. I think you should know that. So can we go to the others please?"

"Sure. Oh and Eric?"

"Hmm?"

"I'm sorry for pushing you. Now I know, I'll try not to do it again. I don't want to promise. Just so long as you try to understand that I will sometimes want honesty about things. We all know that how can end up for the both of us. You are right though Eric. I am sorry."

Eric let a smile come over his face feeling a lot more secure than earlier. Eric as a way of thanks bumped his shoulder as they started to make their way to the desks and agents.

 

All looking up to see the pair, Kensi was one of the first to tease.

"So you two, got any hot gossip you want to spill?

"Or shall we wait for the wedding announcement?" Sam joined in while looking at both to see if they were marred from their experience in the field when they were they had been with Sam or not.

Eric happened to have only been on this side of teasing once before and he had shied away from Tosh then. Thankfully before he could stutter out something he'd come to regret, the man beside him talked for them.

"Guess you'll have to stick around in the next couple of days to see. So are we ready to wave goodbye to us few, can't say I won't be glad to be rid of you. At least the organisational part of you. Sorry and all"

"Ladies and gentleman I have wonderful news for you all, Linda is heard to be recovering fully in hospital and her injuries have been surely fading. However it's said that she only remembers being captured and she never saw anything out of the ordinary. That wouldn't have anything to do with you, would it now?"

"Actually Hetty that would have been me. I did it. There was no need for her to know, she's had enough on her plate, she doesn't need to have something else that would force her to go into a mental hospital. I guess the retcon placed something in her mind along with me telling her some things to fully make sure she wasn't going to remember her short trip to aliensville. Don't worry though because I also phoned for a counsellor to help her through with it and I made sure that another grief counsellor was aware that she might need them"

Hetty simply glanced while the others started to overlap with their voices about how he had gone above board and gone against keeping her mind intact. Eric rolled his eyes - yet again, he was going to need a stronger prescription.

 

"Guys! You already accepted that these things were going to happen when we talked it through when we got stuck in a place I'd really rather bank up top in the forgetful part of my brain. I know you aren't happy exactly with her not keeping it but really unlike you guys who have seen actual living proof...she hasn't. And really what would have happened if she had told someone? I'm not sure she could live with that and I don't especially want her being called delusional and thrown in somewhere because she only told people the truth. We don't need this getting out and most likely UNIT would have had a field day with us speaking of whom, do you want me to brief them Jack?

"Oh please like I could keep myself away from them! Please Eric. Anytime anyway from people on top of me. Oh and when you do, tell them Jack sends his absolute regards to the ever legend that is Martha Jones, use those words exactly. I gotta introduce you to her one day, I think you two would weirdly get along"

"Can I listen in to the call with you?"

"What? Deeks, no! Absolutely not" Eric shook his head wildly.

"Why not, its not private right?"

"Well no I don't think so seeing as you know about aliens and stuff existing but it would be official business"

"So why not, afraid I'll find your phone voice hot or something?" Deeks raised his eyebrows and winked as Eric's face flushed as both seemed to have forgotten people were in the room.

"Eric, I have never been so proud of your choice of partner"

Jack had spoken up knowingly smirking glad to see they were going to sort themselves out. Hopefully it'd be a good balance. Nate would be able to help them in the long run, make sure they had each other's backs, and he'd make sure Eric did stick to his promise of calling him to make sure he was alive. Though maybe he'd also get him or the others as well to check in on random days if it ever got too much. Plus it'd be nice to know that at least one of them was getting a social life and living happily next to their Gwen, and besides Ianto needed the company when the captain went away for long times and couldn't hide from Owen everytime he got too moody - which was always.

 

It had felt like a year since they'd all started working together and spilling secrets. Since the truth had come out.

Watching one of the youngest charges become more accustomed of now what seemed to be never ending teasing he saw the worry lines start to fade and a gentle smile start to take it's place. He looked as calm as he could now the case had been wrapped up and things were resolved. Even with Nell also making wink faces at him every 5 minutes.

He wasn't sure about the others but once they started to make their goodbyes, he'd be missing this group for all their quirks and flaws. He wouldn't hide them away any longer. They were a part of him through and through and it had been wrong to deny their existence til now because of his fears.

 

Hetty made her way back from the corner to the centre of the bullpen which hushed the building.

"Well this has been something of a busy time has it not? I think now however has come the time to part our ways. I wish you the best in your future endeavours and only ask you to not return so quickly. Thank you for bringing our colleagues and friends back to us especially in one piece. Just some of the things I like to have"

"Gee thanks for the vote of confidence Hetty"

"Mr Callen, do you wish for me to dock your pay?"

"Are you really going now?" came the hushed whisper.

"I'm afraid so Eric. I wouldn't worry though, I imagine Jack'll keep tabs on you even when you just want him to leave you alone. He's like the flu that way" Ianto quipped.

Eric barely managed to stifle his laugh. Gwen took the lead after that knowing that either a row or another bout of innuendo would come from their supposed team leader.

"Yes pet. I'm afraid we do. I'm very lucky I got to meet you though, keep in touch lad, goodness knows no one else will update me on normal things. Right, I'll be outside if anyone needs me. Need to phone Rhys, make sure Wales hasn't fallen without us to put it back in place" And after hugging the techie she was out like a shot.

"Seeing as we're making goodbyes then you should all know that I'll be emailing - or phoning depending on our temperamental systems - all of your blood test results. For now I'd say by the state of you, you're all in the clear. Eric, I want you to email me each six months and see me at once a year if possible. Miss Lange and I can co-ordinate a date if need be. Let's keep you fit and healthy shall we? Goodness you won't go any doctor otherwise even with one as dead as inside as I am. Right ladies and gents I'm outta here. Pleasure working with you...for the most part"

"I'd best go see to it he doesn't go destroy anything of value with our kit or himself. Apologies, I wish I could stay and give a proper goodbye and thank you all for your assistance. Call me too Eric, I want to hear all about your newish adventures and whatever this new thing is between you and him. If it had to work out for anyone then next to Ianto and Jack, I'm glad it was you. You deserve happiness remember?" She hugged the man tightly as he leaned into her ear telling her she deserved it too as they both began grinning to each other as she took in the room one last time before also stepping out.

Only Jack and Ianto were left to make their goodbyes now. Once they left it was final. Case over apart from the obvious glaring paperwork.

 

"I suppose we're off. Ianto gets cranky if left without knowing everything's ship shape back home. Although if you wanted to, there is still room"

"No. Thank you. I think as of right now...I'm good where I am"

"We'll e-mail next time we're in the area then. You were running low on Weevil spray and I've clipped on more numbers to your desk when you can reach us if we're out of the office itself - a variety in itself - and I would also say not to go out on your own and do silly things though I do suppose it'll reach upon deaf ears?" Ianto smirked before grabbing the younger's man to shake it. Eric rolled his eyes with his mouth curling up on side as a grin in response as was tradition for them. He'd known Ianto would have also put in an emergency button or something on his desk if it was a 'save the world' emergency and would keep the tabs on the others. Nothing he wasn't aware of.

Jack however was more for sentimentality and clasped Eric in a big bear hug and then while still keeping hold of his shoulders spoke in a hard set voice.

"Anything happens, you call me. I don't care what or when. You. Call. Me. They're good people and I'm sorry if I ever doubted, I'm happy you're good here, if we ever need to work together then let's say for now I won't mind. I hope to see you in the next year for the big 3.0. Don't let blonde haired beauty take too much of your time"

And with that casual smile, they both exited the building. Eric watched them fade from view. He felt misty eyed despite everything they just went through, he missed them and he was definitely going to miss them. Yes he'd stick to his promise.

"And I would also like my agents to get back to their work. Papers on this case which will include you Mr Beale don't think I can't see you walking away already. I imagine we leave out anything Torchwood?"

"Yeah. Sorry. Um.."

"Yes Mr Beale?"

"I'm sorry. I know things happened fast and things got heavy but I...I...it won't happen again. Especially now you know. If you could, like, stay out of it though, unless anything like they hinted happens then trust me it's best if it's just me who goes out in the dark world of hell. I'm going up to Ops if anyone needs me though or they have any questions they need me to answer. Maybe give me 5 minutes to myself though first?"

"Mind if I follow you up there then? I'll keep my hands to myself if you're worried"

 

 

"I thought we said later?"

"You said so earlier, figure later means now. Also it's really empty up here right now and like I said you lot are adept at steering conversations left, right and centre. So! Let's talk Beale. Lay the facts on me and are you just going to lean next to your computer or sit down?" Eric sat down and twirled the chair round to face Deeks, subtlety leaning against Nell's computer himself.

There was an awkward silence for a good ten minutes or so before Eric took the incentive to get conversation flowing.

"What I did, when we were in that tent, did it change anything when we got back? Cos I'd totally understand"

"No"

"Oh"

"I am sorry you know"

"I know. You don't have to keep apologising. It's over now"

"I do and it's not"

"Eric, c'mon"

Back to the awkward silence it was then.

"Are you sure you want this? You're not going to treat it as a joke? Like it's serious"

"Eric, why are you freaking out this much? Eric I like you. What your brain not catching up with the rest of you? We're going to be fine and no this is not a joke. I think you're overthinking things babe"

"What if we're not though, do you know much can go wrong?"

"Yeah but isn't it worth it?"

"Would it be worth the suffering or pain if I died this year or halfway through the next? It can still happen Deeks, I'm not immune! God, what if I get you into more trouble than it's worth or what if you get bored with me or if I get bored with you? What if one us manages to break one another's board while we're out surfing and we can't get help in time. What if when we're together, we can only think about how awkward it is and think it's better to be apart?!" Eric had folded his hands in his lap at this point as Deeks just grabbed his glasses pulling them off for a second to shut him up.

"I think...your eyes are pretty great"

Eric huffed a little calmer even if dear God that was some cheesy moment.

"Eric, can you look at me a little? I don't know whether it'll properly work out or not but I figured out we were at least going to give it a try. So let's try and see where it goes. I like you and you like me, we get on, and that's all that should matter right? I'm not immune either and all I can think about is when you had that gun on you for a short while and all the times you put yourself at risk when you worked in Wales. I know that working and being together is definitely going to be interesting but I think we can work it out. We're adults. Okay? Want your glasses back?" He placed them back on gently and going back to his original position.

"I guess I'm just worried I'll lose you and vice versa before we actually get anywhere. I want to tell you more about what I did and who I am but...what else are the others going to say?"

"A little and a lot. Didn't you hear them as we came through the archway?When we were downstairs? They probably already think we got together and Sam heard you when we were out in the field. Hetty and the others would prefer we keep it professional when we're working a on edge case but I guess times like now it'd be alright for hugs and some other general PDA right? Right? We're a couple, it's not a joke and we're going to be good together or at least let's hope so. I'm a joker Eric, I tease but that doesn't mean I won't care when we discuss serious stuff. We'll cross losing each other due to your Torchwood stuff or me with personal stuff or just NCIS stuff but we'll figure it out. Together. Okay. Just...stop worrying for now"

"O..o...i..i. If we're talking about okay PDA then care giving me a hug? I think I could use it right now"

"Even better, I'll even it up with a peck on the cheek"

Eric's laugh was gone within minutes as he was stood up and enveloped into warm arms holding him close, this felt really nice as they just stood there with the calmness of the room with all the computers turned off.

It was just as Deeks had pecked his cheek and after a second of glancing into smaller man's eyes that the police officer made a bold move into moving closer towards his mouth. They'd just come to the brushing of the lips both breathing very shakily when they heard a throat clear from behind them.

"Ehem. I'm aware it's the end of the day and everything's wrapped up but care to step away from each other for a second?"

"Nate, you have no idea how glad I am it's you and not -"

"You were saying Mr Deeks?"

Eric quietly groaned and hid his face into Deek's chest burning with embarrassment. Hetty was never going to let them live this down. Thank God it hadn't been anyone else otherwise he didn't think he'd have coped.

"Hey, I'm just glad to see you worked it out, don't think I could have coped anymore in our sessions Eric much as I was okay with it, just the pining, only so much you can take. Speaking of which I was briefed by Owen and Ianto as they left about everything, I'd like to speak to you together in one session if that's alright and then of course our scheduled sessions and if you need me to talk to and can't find me, I'm sure someone can find me for you. Night guys"

 

The three watched as Nate placed a file near Hetty then turn to leave. Eric finally took his head out and faced the woman standing in the room still.

"Well? Gentleman I trust you can keep it professional, of course if you want to keep it private then go ahead but I imagine you'll both keep it up in the air for others to say. If you have any problems then don't worry about coming towards me for them to have 'kind' words" Hetty herself picked up the flimsy file starting to move when Eric burst forward stopping her.

"Hetty I'm sorry about lying and then about getting people caught and then not telling you about who I was really and I'm sorry about this but are you sure it's going to be okay?"

"Eric. Despite what you may think, I am not the type to hold grudges against something like this. I believed you'd figure it out soon enough. Here we are. You are right though, I hope you won't keep something back anymore?"

"No. Thank you..Hetty. For the things you've said and haven't"

"Very well then, shoo! Go on home the pair of you, tomorrow is a new day and we must be ready for it and all it's trials"

 

 

Deeks entered in that morning sitting at his desk to the usual banter between his teammates, something about Callen's health once more when Eric entered in clambering down the steps to OPS two at a time. It wasn't a whistle so nothing had come up just yet and Nell must not be in either. A social call then although there was no real reason for one.

It had only been a week since all of their lives had been turned upside down but things had come back to normal fairly quickly. Despite the obvious that was.

"Hey you"

"Hi"

"Are you just going to stand there or do'ya want to come sit over here?"

"That depends, are you going to pull the same trick on me you did yesterday when I stayed at yours? I really liked those flowers and it turned out it was water spraying me in the face"

"Not my fault you couldn't handle the joke master Beale. You staying over again or?"

"If I do, would you mind if I called Tosh? She's got something she wants me to look at"

"Not at all, so is that a yes?"

"Yeah, okay"

"Great"

The two grinned at each other until Sam couldn't take it anymore and pretended to make gagging noises. Kensi had only started giggling and couldn't stop until she was forced to clasp her hand over her mouth. Callen just threw his arms behind his head leaning back in his chair to watch the rest of the scene in front of him fold.

Eric rolled his eyes finally deciding to stop standing and came to perch on Deek's desk next to him trying to ignore the eyes on him. It didn't help when he took his hand and they'd all 'awww'd at him.

"You guys are worse than Captain Jack Harkness himself when it comes to things like this and that's saying something considering he's one of the biggest flirts of the galaxy"

"And speaking of people relating to him, someone's ringing you. What? I can see your mobile from here in your pocket Eric, you going to answer that babe?"

Eric really thought one day his eyes would go into the back of his skull one day as he picked up the number.

 

"Pet names for each other already huh?" Sam teased.

"Be still my beating heart, I'd have thought you'd have thought Eric would have killed you if you'd used it" Callen continued as Eric picked up the call slightly frowning.

They only could hear Eric's version due to the crackling line.

"Eric. Oh hey Owen, how's things? No, nothing like that here. Oh I bet, did they? Yes we got them, thanks. Everything is pretty good here, tell Jack to leave it alone, let Tosh do it, he destroys things like that without even knowing! I can't believe this, could you get back to me, by the looks of it Hetty has a case for us and I don't want to cross her due to Jack's artron energy and breaking computers every turn. Yeah, yeah. I'm calling Tosh later so I'll help her then. Bye, you too Owen, stay alive huh? Well as much as you can considering it's you. Goodbye Owen.

Sorry Hetty, usual inventory of things back at base. You think his 40th century ass would have picked up some things but no. Think he'd have picked up something from the Doctor but no, not really. I can't believe them. It's Torchwood not an art gallery. You gotta look after things and that includes all the electrics and computer, why can't he leave Tosh to do cope with the rewiring even though I know she's ill right now, honestly I've had this conversation with Jack so many times, why do I even bother"

It was at this point without wanting the others to know how he was with his rant that he regarded the famous phrase of agents there gone by and of now whenever something happened with something of a fondness in his tone of voice;

"Bloody Torchwood"

 

The others watched as he climbed down from his perch and ranted some more as his partner sighed getting up from his chair and walking over to him wrapping him in a hug again brushing hair out of his glasses and putting it back to the side.

"Hey sweetie, you want to take 5 minutes or are do you want to I don't know tell us about the case and we can start working?"

"You're funny, but yeah I'm all good. I just...remember the worrying thing? It's just if they don't have equipment up and running...Kaboom! Either way I bet that's why Tosh wanted to call me in the first place from her sick chair before Owen did. She's always been one of the sneakier ones. Must be why Ianto gets on with her so much. Hmm... Oh and everyone's tests came back, you're all in the clear, you have nothing left on you besides your memories but I did mean it. Anything mentioned and your memory of all this goes and no I really won't care"

"Bit hard to take you seriously when you're all coupled and wrapped up like that but noted" Callen interrupted.

"Gentleman, I trust everything is working perfectly here? Mr Deeks, Mr Beale? I believe it's now officially working hours so if you could somehow separate from each other" Hetty smirked.

"I did like them after all that you know, interesting people even with things happening" Nate and Nell came towards them as Nate spoke.

"Yeah, I suppose they were good people after all. And we got our happy ending after all"

"I don't think they'd be saying the same thing but I know they'd definitely appreciate it. I hope no-one really minds if I do go help them at some points. It'd be good for me. I'm not running away from myself anymore"

"And we are all glad of it. Mr Jones put in a liaison request with NCIS for you to work with if things ever happen and I have accepted. However they have also put in a request for Mr Deeks as L.A police so no-one will be in dire straits which I imagine you will also accept. Now shall we continue with our day, Mr Callen time to fill us in on our latest M.I.A petty officer"

"Of course, Luke Hind went missing three weeks ago, no one know's why but it's said that he was in debt to a few people on the ship and off it. No wife, no kids to speak of but it's said he had an off and on again person. No-one can tell us their name but has sent a picture of them. Sam and I will go on the ship later. Kensi, Deeks could you go door to door with this picture and ask around, neighbourhood should be listed on the other side of it. Nell, Eric, background checks as usual and see if you can find out who, where and when those debts were about"

"Let's get to it everyone" Hetty ordered as she shooed them all away to their tasks.

Sam and Callen walked off first winking at Eric - the thought kept cropping up that he was going to need stronger glasses if he kept rolling his eyes as a sport - as Nell went ahead of him.

Kensi grabbed her bag and ID signalling that her partner could say goodbye first.

Deeks and Eric walked to the staircase as Deeks very subtlety placed a kiss on the cheek. Hetty wouldn't mind this sort of thing before they made off for the day.

"Don't stay inside too long and I want updates. Just text me or talk through the earpiece. Oh and when I come back we can go surf if the wave's right and eat out at that restaurant we saw the other day"

"Sure. Be careful out there, stay alive for me"

"You're good people Beale!"

 

Eric watched Hetty seeing them part ways, smiled nodding at her as a way of thanks, who did the same as he made the mad dash to OPS himself ready to pull techie magic on the case.

Bumping shoulders with his partner as they went to work he surveyed the area and what had happened and his stomach turned inwardly almost as if it was jumping for joy.

With this family here, his family in Wales and now with Deeks, he couldn't have wished for anything better.

Eric thought he was going to be fine. Just fine.

Even better...

Eric was fine.

The future is when everything changes and they gotta be ready and right now they were.

He hoped things could stay this good.