Somewhere in London, there is a tastefully decorated office – nothing overly dramatic, just fine wood paneling and the sort of desk which declares, in an understated fashion, that that the person who sits behind it is Important. There is no number on the door, and you won't find it unless you have an appointment. That you may not know you have an appointment until a sleek black car pulls up beside you and a professionally dressed woman with a Blackberry tells you to get in is merely a minor detail.
It is an especially minor detail when you are Captain Jack Harkness, RAF (ret.) because if you are immortal you have rather less to worry about when it comes to being abducted by cars with tinted windows.
It is a lovely spring day in Cardiff - which means that the sky is grey and the weather damp and drizzly - when Jack exits the Hub and steps down from the curb.
There is a black car waiting, back passenger door perfectly aligned with the perception-filtered paving stone. A man in a government-issue black business suit is standing next to the car. He opens the door when Jack steps off the stone, without so much as a twitch of surprise.
"Did anyone tell you this is a pedestrian zone?" Jack asks as he saunters forward.
The man doesn't answer. Jack sighs, shakes his head, and gets into the car.
He isn't sure what he was expecting, but he is pretty sure it wasn't a woman in a little black dress tapping away on her Blackberry and ignoring Jack completely. Seeing she is rather attractive – all curves and legs and auburn curls – and they are the only two people in the back seat, this is an unacceptable state of affairs.
“Nice to meet you. I'm Captain Jack Harkness,” Jack says as the car starts to move, and flashes her a blindingly white smile. That's usually enough to get them interested.
“I know.” She doesn't even looking up from the Blackberry.
“So, what's your name?” He lowers his voice a little, turns up the charm incrementally. She really is good looking.
“Really?” Jack asks, teasing.
This time she looks up at him and smiles a patronizing sort of smile. “No.” She turns back to the Blackberry.
Seven minutes of chatting, cajoling, and flirting get him nothing more than monosyllabic answers and a few false smiles. Jack and not-actually-Medea exit the car down by the docks. There is a helicopter waiting, rotors spinning idly.
"So, where are we going?" Jack shouts as they are helped into the helicopter by a man wearing the sort of generic black tactical gear that just screams 'I work for a shadowy government organization.'
Medea gives him another one of her patronizing smiles, slips on a pair of noise-canceling headphones, and turns back to the Blackberry.
There is a black car with tinted windows - identical to the first - waiting to pick them up when they land in London. Jack has been watching out the window and is fairly sure they are somewhere in Whitehall.
“I'll be seeing you around, then?” Jack asks after they have reached their destination and Medea has lead him into a well-appointed office (her ass, by the way, is amazing.)
“No,” she replies with another false smile, and leaves.
“Captain Harkness.” There's a man standing behind the desk – tall, average weight, impeccably cut three-piece suit, and a very practiced hint of an insincere smile. “Or should I say Agent Harkness? Please sit down.”
Jack drops into the offered chair, settling into his usual insouciant sprawl. Pity the assistant was so cold, but the guy behind the desk isn't half bad himself. The day might still hold promise, for those enough bold to grab it – and Jack Harkness is always bold.
“You've got one up on me. Do you usually have your secretary kidnap people and airlift them to your office, or am I just special?”
“How remiss of me not to introduce myself. I am Mycroft Holmes - and no, usually I have my assistant kidnap people and bring them to deserted warehouses.”
“Can't say I've heard of you.”
“You wouldn't have. Mister Harkness-”
There is another narrow smile. “Captain Jack Harkness, of the RAF, died when his plane was shot down by enemy aircraft during a training exercise. You assumed his identity-”
“How do you know this?”
“-but you yourself have never received a commission in the RAF. I know everything, Mister Harkness.”
Jack laughs at that, because he knows it can't be true. He likes this Mycroft fellow, though, so he lets it slide. “Just all me Jack. So, why'd you have your assistant kidnap me off the street and bring me here? We can argue the semantics of my address if you want, but I may need a little... incentive.” He lets his eyes drift over the other man.
“You are the current head of the organization known as Torchwood, correct?” If Mycroft notices Jack's scrutiny (and Jack wasn't going for subtle; he must have) he ignores it completely.
“Sure am,” Jack replies with a lazy grin. That one's always a hit. Mycroft appears unimpressed.
“There are some - issues, shall we say, that I would like to discuss with you regarding your leadership skills and the Torchwood budget.”
“I didn't know we had a budget.”
Mycroft's smile is small and slightly pained. “Yes, that is one of the points that I wish to touch on.”
“Okay,” Jack says, because something is very weird here, and for once it's not him. “Last time I checked I didn't have any financial oversight.”
“That state of affairs has changed, Mister Harkness.”
Jack quirks his eyebrow. It's really rather endearing, how much this petty paper-pusher thinks he's got Jack in a corner. Oh, if only he knew. “How are you going to manage that?”
“I took the liberty of having your accounts seized. They are now the property of the Crown.”
“You seized the Torchwood accounts?” Jack asks, and he can't help it, he's laughing, laughing until tears come to his eyes and he wheezes to a stop because he can't breathe. It's hilarious because it's impossible, and yet Mycroft is so self-assured – it's adorable, really. Jack thinks he could get use to this. Maybe after he's finished setting things straight he'll take Mycroft for a drink – the poor guy could probably use a night out of the office.
Mycroft waits until Jack is done, and hands him a box of tissues.
“If your mirth is sufficiently under control, Mister Harkness, shall we proceed with the financial review?”
“You actually think you've found our accounts?” The man is precious, Jack thinks – definitely going to have to take him for a drink. Some strategic hints about alien technology, perhaps a demonstration, so to speak, of Jack's own personal 'alien technology,' and the man will be putty in his hands.
“I assure you, Mister Harkness, that we have devoted our best minds to the issue.” The man is smiling again, and there's something in it – some hint of self-satisfied secrecy that sows the first seeds of doubt in Jack's mind.
“Alright, show me what you've got.”
Mycroft removes a folder from a desk drawer and hands it across to Jack, who opens it and smiles indulgently. Yes, Mycroft and his little posse seem to have found a few of Torchwood's many financial accounts – just the smaller ones, though, the Earth-based expense accounts for the Torchwood team. He'll have to get Tosh to upgrade the security settings on those. Obviously they were a little lax.
“Those are just the Terran accounts, of course,” Mycroft murmurs, removing another file, and another, and three more after that.
Jack's head snaps up, and he stares. Mycoft meets his eyes, gaze steady and unflinching.
“Oh dear. Mister Harkness, I do hope you have not have been laboring under the quaint illusion that your little organization was the only one with access to alien technology.”
Jack looks at the new files – neatly labeled, every one (Boeshan Peninsula Savings and Loan, 51st Century; Satellite Five Credit Union, and a handful of others) – and back up at Mycroft. This isn't possible. No one should be able to find, let alone access, any of those accounts. Yet here it all is – account numbers, balances, exchange rates from alien currencies to Pounds Sterling.
"Okay," Jack says, switching tactics, "what part of 'outside the government, beyond the police' don't you get? I gotta admit, I'm impressed you found, well, any of our accounts, but this is out of your jurisdiction."
Mycroft's answering smile is thin and reminds Jack uncomfortably of a shark. "Well done, Mister Harkness. I knew you would come to that issue eventually. I assure you, I have nothing to do with the police - except on a purely personal level, of course - and I am similarly... outside the organized structure of the government."
"Great. Sounds like we've established you have no authority whatsoever."
"Hm. What is that trite little phrase - might makes right? I have full control over your financial assets, along with express approval from the Crown and the backing of UNIT - though we are two reasonable men, so I am sure the... big guns will not be needed."
"UNIT? You mean the jokers in the red berets?" Jack chuckles. UNIT, a threat? Maybe to themselves.
"Oh dear me, no. Not them; the competent branch." With that, he shuffles through the documents on the corner of his desk, extracts a sheaf of papers, and before Jack can recover, changes the subject. "There are a few items in these expense accounts I would like to go over personally - we don't need to cover every little thing, my auditors can take care of that task - but let us just take a moment to touch on the highlights."
"Very good. I am particularly curious about the reasoning behind the... 'Land Rover: front panels, custom embossed.' Having the name of your organization emblazoned on your vehicle hardly seems the best way to ensure secrecy. Of course, as I am informed every little old lady in Cardiff knows of Torchwood, perhaps your name on a motor vehicle is the least of your worries."
Two hours later, Jack is wondering at Mycroft's definition of a 'moment' and wishing he could just shoot himself and have it take, rather than spending another excruciating minute trying to justify his purchasing decisions - half of which he can't even remember.
"I do believe that brings our little financial review to a close." Mycroft murmurs, setting aside the sheaf of paper.
Jack manages not to shout thank God,but it's a close thing.
"Just a few leadership issues I would like to discuss-"
"Fuck," Jack mutters.
"Think of it as an annual performance review."
"I don't have annual performance reviews. It's one of the perks of the job."
Mycroft smiles another satisfied shark smile. "Congratulations on your first."
Jack just groans.
"Perhaps a brief respite for tea and biscuits is in order."
"Are they poisoned?"
As much as Jack hates to admit it, the tea and biscuits do help restore his mood to something approaching normal levels. Not that the tea is anything near as good as Ianto's coffee - but beggars can't be choosers, and Jack is uncomfortably aware that in this situation, he appears to be a beggar.
Mycroft selects another folder seemingly at random. Jack suppresses a shudder - he is never again going to be able to look at filing folders the same way.
"Back to business, I am afraid." Mycroft makes a show of flipping through the pages that he probably has memorized. "I must confess," he continues, eyebrows raising a fraction, "I am particularly interested in how you managed to miss the fact that your tea boy - a... Mister Ianto Jones, how very Welsh - was keeping a Cyberwoman in the basement."
"Quite apart from your subordinate's obvious emotional distress," Mycroft pauses to look critically at a few CCTV stills taken, as far as Jack can tell from his vantage point across the wide expanse of desk, from Cardiff Torchwood base's internal cameras (just another in a long list of today's impossible events,) before continuing, "the abnormal power fluctuations should have alerted you to the possibility that something was wrong."
"Not before you had a fully upgraded Cyberwoman inside your base. One would think such subtle-" Mycroft spits the word out as though it is distasteful- "clues such as the attempts made to alter the internal CCTV footage might have tipped you off a bit sooner, had anyone been paying attention. I do hope you gave him a raise."
"Wait, gave who a raise?"
"Mister Jones, of course."
"Give Ianto Jones a raise for nearly getting us all killed?"
"Mister Jones' actions were regrettable, certainly - but he showed great initiative, not to mention courage and ingenuity, in rescuing his erstwhile paramour and setting her up in your basement. A little cake and grief counseling would take care of those distressing loyalty issues, and a salary increase would do wonders in convincing him to put his obviously substantial talents to use for you."
"Oh," Jack says because no matter how bad it gets, there is always room for innuendo, "Ianto Jones is definitely putting his talents to use for me."
Mycroft Holmes, it seems, has mastered the art of blank looks. The one he directs at Jack would give a clean whiteboard a run for its money in the blankness department.
"Moving on - oh, this was a particular favorite of mine. Would you care to enlighten me as to how a team of highly-trained experts, armed with the latest in alien technology, manages to get themselves kidnapped by murderous cannibal farmers? At least I assume, from the figures on the payroll, that you are all highly trained - but do feel free to correct me if I am mistaken."
Jack is saved from having to try to come up with an explanation for that fiasco by the sudden entrance of two men, heralded by the door to the office flying open and slamming against the wall.
"Sherlock, Doctor Watson. My brother," Mycroft explains, gesturing to the taller of the two men, "and his colleague. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?"
"Mycroft," snarls Sherlock, and oh, he is stunning, Jack thinks, eyes traveling up the miles of leg and over the lean frame. Jack can't quite see, but he would bet quite a bit that there was a really nice ass under the long coat. "I should have known better than to believe you when you claimed you hadn't bugged the flat." He pulls a double handful of electronic surveillance equipment out of the pockets of his coat and dumps it all on Mycroft's desk. Jack admires his hands, lingering for a moment to think about what those long, dexterous fingers could do; lets his gaze slide up the delicate alabaster neck, and settle on the pale, angular face, the snapping eyes, all framed by tumbled dark curls.
"Routine safety measures," Mycroft murmurs. Doctor Watson, the shorter, sandy-haired man standing at parade rest behind Sherlock looks unconvinced.
Sherlock snorts, and leans over, slamming his palms onto the desk. Jack decides that bent over and braced against office furniture is a look that suits Sherlock very well indeed.
"Hello nurse," Jack purrs, putting on his best smile and leaning back in his chair to get a better view. Doctor Watson shifts slightly and shoots a distinctly unfriendly glance at Jack.
"Consulting detective, actually," Sherlock murmurs, straightening up and looking down at Jack with an affronted glare. A second later he blinks, and looks vaguely disgusted. "Oh God," he groans, turning to his brother, "Really, fifty-first century? I would have thought even you had better taste than that."
Sherlock glares at Jack, then at Mycroft. "If you break Lestrade I'm telling Mummy. You know how she took a liking to him last Christmas, I'm sure she'll be very displeased. Come along, John, we're done here."
John rolls his eyes and shrugs apologetically to Mycroft.
"Sod off, mate," he growls when he notices Jack indulging in a last ogle as Sherlock sweeps out the door.
"Hey, you're welcome any time. I'll share." Jack's disarming smile falters when John gives him a look that, if looks could kill, would probably have left Jack a small, greasy smear on the very expensive carpet.
"I don't," John replies in tones so cold as to be Arctic, and follows Sherlock out of the office.
"Wow. I bet he's a tiger in the sack," Jack muses, tone reverential. "God, the two of them-" Jack lets out a low whistle. "What I wouldn't give to come between them."
To Jack's endless delight, Mycroft Holmes actually emits what can only be described as a small, pained noise.
"As a rule, I pursue a role of passive non-interference with the subject of my brother's... sex life. However, I feel in this instance I owe to you as a fellow human to warn you of the probable consequences of any... involvement... in that area."
"Is this the 'hurt my little brother and I break your legs' speech?"
"Oh no. As I said, passive non-interference." As Mycroft is speaking, he opens a drawer in his desk and removes a sleek, black device, easily mistaken for a next generation e-reader if not for the words 'DON'T PANIC' emblazoned across the front in large, friendly letters.
Jack stares. "You have a copy of the Guide," he finally manages, in a sort of flat, how-is-this-my-life monotone.
"Hm? Yes, of course," Mycroft murmurs as he pulls up the entry on Earth. Jack can see the familiar words "Mostly harmless," along with the disclaimer that This article relating to the Western Spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy is a stub. You can help the Guide by expanding it.
The 'See Also' section, though - that one is new to Jack. There are two links: 'The Doctor,' and 'Doctor John Watson.' Mycroft selects the second and slides the Guide across the desk to Jack.
"Consider it a friendly warning," Mycroft says, quite calmly.
The article has a photograph - several, actually - and they're all unmistakably of the short, blond, wholly unremarkable man that had been following Sherlock around. Jack tears his eyes away from the photo of John Watson in desert combat dress, his uniform jacket open and showing off toned, tanned skin, to read the article.
Doctor John Watson is one mean frood, it begins in the Guide's familiar vernacular tone. Don't let the cuddly jumpers fool you: this human is one badass motherfucker, all wrapped up in enough wool to keep your granny busy all winter - and she will be, too, if she's hanging out with Doctor John Watson. In addition to being a card-carrying, certified BAMF, this tiny assassin is a libertine to the extreme. Forget three continents, John H Watson has got his leg over three planets at least - and the reports are still coming in.
Jack stops reading to glance up at Mycroft, disbelief writ large across his face. "This is the guy that was in here five minutes ago?"
Mycroft just nods.
"But," Jack protests, looking back down at the Guide, "there's seventeen subsections! Seventeen! It says - but -"
"Might I direct your attention to subsection one?"
Subsection one is titled 'Sherlock Holmes.' The first rule of John Watson, it reads, is Don't Touch the Detective. The second rule is No, Really, Don't Touch the Detective. The third rule is We Weren't Kidding the First Two Times, You Sodding Idiot, Now Give Him Back Unharmed and You Might Survive, With Prompt Medical Care and Extensive Therapy. Ever wonder why you don't see Weeping Angels around anymore? Forget thanking the deity of your choice, and drop a line to Doctor John Watson, BAMF. We have it on the good authority of a very traumatized witness that one of them made the mistake of attempting to snack on Sherlock Holmes, and the fallout was quite spectacular. Have we mentioned their solar system has an extensive asteroid belt? Or as we like to call it around the office, 'John Watson's rock garden.'
Jack closes the Guide and stares at the cover for a few minutes.
"Right. Message received, loud and clear. Stay away from your brother, or suffer John Watson."
"Indeed. But enough of this idle chit-chat." Mycroft slips the Guide back into his desk and returns to the dreaded file folders. He flips a page, then another, and suddenly the shark smile is back. "Oh yes, how could I have forgotten the delightful little episode with Abaddon? It isn't every day the Beast from the pit is released to ravage Cardiff. The public relations for that incident were a nightmare."
"Look, if my team and I hadn't been there, it would have been a lot worse-"
"It's the oddest thing - my impression was that if not for your team, the beast would never have been released in the first place. However," he continues, holding up a hand to forestall Jack's protests, "what is done is done, and I did not actually have you brought here to rehash past failings."
"Really? 'Cause that's not the impression I got."
"I assure you that I want nothing more than an amicable working relationship between our two organizations."
"And yours was what, again?"
"That is hardly important, Mister Harkness."
A discrete chime from the sleek intercom integrated into Mycroft's desk interrupts the conversation. Mycroft leans forward to answer the call.
"Sir," says the voice of Mycroft's assistant, "the Detective Inspector is here. Shall I send him in?"
"Yes, and please arrange transportation back to Cardiff for Mister Harkness."
"Right away, sir."
"Thank you," Mycroft says as he closes the channel and turns back to Jack. "Did you have any more questions, Mister Harkness?"
"Lots, actually, but I have a feeling I'm going to be fielding visits from your people for the next few months, and they'll definitely answer all my questions, and more."
This time there is a knock at the door before it opens, and a silver-haired man in motorcycle gear steps into the room. He is, in Jack's informed opinion, rather handsome, and the gear is doing nothing to disguise this fact.
"Myc," the man says, and Jack raises an eyebrow at Mycroft, because is that a pet name? Judging from Mycroft's smile, it is, the lucky bastard. "Look, if you're busy, I can wait. You don't have to interrupt your meeting for me."
"Nonsense, Gregory. We were just finishing up - weren't we, Mister Harkness."
"Yeah, I think we're done," Jack replies cheerfully, quite happy to take any opportunity to escape. He stands and holds out a hand. "Jack Harkness, Torchwood."
"Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade," the man says as he shakes Jack's hand. His voice is pleasantly gravelly. "Torchwood - that's the secret organization up in Cardiff, yeah?"
"'Secret' might not be the best term for it," Mycroft interjects cheerfully.
"Mycroft here tell you all about us?" Jack asks with a laugh.
Lestrade shakes his head. "No, we had a man on exchange from Cardiff for training - what was his name, PC Andy something. Davidson, I think. He had some good stories about you lot. Myc, I'll just take your assistant up on her offer of coffee 'til you're done here."
"Very well. I shouldn't be more that a few minutes."
"Nice to meet you, Harkness," Lestrade says, as he turns to leave.
"The pleasure was mine, Detective Inspector."
Jack waits until the door has closed behind Lestrade before speaking.
"Mycroft Holmes, you are a lucky man."
Mycroft's answering smile is nothing short of a self-satisfied smirk. "Mister Harkness, you have no idea."