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Once Bitten

Chapter Text

 

1 November 2008

 

Patrick had finally given in to the urge to snack again, and had thus finished off the pickles and crackers, and was tempted to eat what was left of the Marmite. He was incredibly nervous about his granddads coming to the Hub, even as he was glad that Ianto and Jack had decided to let them in on what was going on.

It didn’t help that there really wasn’t a good plan in place to deal with the mother Nostrovite.  It came down to two choices:  destroy the egg he was carrying around in his abdomen and try to track the Nostrovite down; or to let her find him and stop her when she tries to retrieve the egg.  Neither plan was really a good one, and Patrick knew which one he’d go with, but it was convincing the rest of the team to do it that would be difficult.

Not to mention his granddads…because he didn’t doubt that Ianto had shared what was going on with them.

Owen had completed the autopsy, and the Nostrovite was now safely frozen in the Vaults.  Strangely a part of him was sad that it was dead, and that was even after he’d been bitten and had been implanted with this egg.  It wasn’t the Nostrovite’s fault really; it was only doing what nature created it to do.  It couldn’t help its basic instincts.

At the same time, though, the Nostrovite didn’t belong on Earth.  Its presence here was wrong, and it needed to be stopped.  Torchwood couldn’t allow a dangerous alien like that free reign on the planet.  It was up to them to do what needed to be done.

Patrick found himself unconsciously stroking the mound of his stomach and forced himself to stop.  He couldn’t wait to get this thing out of him.  His feet were aching and he felt so incredibly bloated and unable to move off his place on the sofa.  He felt as if he’d been sitting there forever; his ass was sore from all the enforced inactivity and while the couch was fairly comfortable he felt trapped there.  However, it kept him in the midst of the action, which was just where he wanted to be.

From his place he could witness Toshiko work her magic on her computers.  She was amazing to watch, her fingers dancing on the keyboard like she was some sort of virtuoso, doing things with mainframe that no one else could.  She was trying to track Rift energy through the city, hoping to be able to track the other Nostrovite to wherever she was hiding.  Tosh wasn’t having all that much luck; the city was practically bathed in Rift energy, after all, so it was slow going, like trying to find a needle in a cosmopolitan haystack.

Rhys was searching the police band for anything that might be a Nostrovite attack.  From what Jack had said, the aliens were voracious eaters, so there should be some sign of it somewhere in the city, either by an attack or something left over from one.  So far, there had been nothing at all, and Patrick could tell that his friend was getting frustrated by the lack of results.

Deborah was still insisting on waiting on Patrick hand and foot.  He thought she’d make a wonderful mother someday, and hoped she might find someone she could love and have a family with.  She wasn’t quite as deep into Torchwood as everyone else, and Toshiko made it work with Kathy.  Hell, Jack and Ianto made it work, and look at them!  Those two were busier than any of them, and yet they still managed to get home at nights when the Rift wasn’t blowing up.

As for Owen…there was Diane, and that was the ultimate in long-distance relationships.  The medic was currently banging around in the autopsy bay, getting the microtron calibrated and ready for use.  Honestly, the thing was huge and it kinda intimidated Patrick a little, knowing he’d have to climb into that machine.  Still, this egg had to come out, and Patrick really wanted it gone.

Jack was in his office.  He hadn’t been happy about letting his granddads in on Torchwood, but Ianto had prevailed and Patrick had put his two cents’ in as well.  Rhys had jumped on the bandwagon, reminding their boss of how they’d trusted him in on Torchwood before he’d even come to work for them.  Plus, it wasn’t like Granddad Canton didn’t already know about aliens, since it had been him to have recommended Patrick to Torchwood in the first place. 

Ianto had been the one to go and speak with them, admonishing the team before he left that, just because they were being read into Torchwood didn’t mean they needed to know about Ianto’s being a dragon or that Jack was immortal.  That would be something to come later, if Jack and the dragon decided they could be trusted and if they needed to know.  Personally, Patrick thought they could be let in on their secrets, but at the same time it was up to the two of them.

“Here.”  Deborah was smiling at him as she passed him a cup of coffee. 

Patrick took it gladly, inhaling the strong scent.  “You are a lifesaver,” he said, returning her smile. 

She settled onto the sofa next to him.  “It’s no problem, really.”

He propped the warm mug onto his protruding belly, the bump there making an excellent table.  “You’ve been cleaning up after me all day.  Thanks.”

“I’m glad to help,” she answered.  Her eyes met his for a moment, and then she continued.  “When I was ten, my Mum got pregnant with my little brother.  It had been a surprise to her because the doctors had claimed she’d never have any more children after me.”  Her face turned sad. “I was really too young to understand when Mom lost him.  But I always wondered if I had taken care of her she might have gone to term with him.”  She shrugged.  “I know it’s not the same thing, because you’re not carrying a real baby…but I just feel like I need to help when I can.”

Patrick gave in to the urge to hug her, and his arm went around her shoulders.  Deborah snuggled up against his side, her feet coming up to curl against the end of the sofa, her hand on the swell of his stomach.  His heart went out to her, and he was going to blame the pregnancy hormones that he definitely wasn’t falling prey to for the misting up his eyes did.  “You are amazing,” he whispered into her hair. 

He felt her shrug vaguely.  “No, not really.”

“Yes, really.  Even without knowing your history I’d think it.  You’re…well, you’re kinda like the sister I never had.” 

That had her relaxing even deeper against him.  “You’re not so bad yourself, Patrick.”  He could hear the smile in her voice.

Really, if she hadn’t been spat out by the Rift into another time, Patrick was certain Deborah wouldn’t be working for Torchwood.  He was fairly sure she didn’t regret that much on the good days.  He certainly couldn’t imagine the place here without her.

Patrick had lost track of time – which seemed to keep happening ever since this egg had ended up inside him – and was brought out of the light doze he’d fallen into when the alarm on the cog door sounded, jerking him upright, dislodging Deborah, and nearly sending the now-cold coffee spilling all over himself.  He cursed and managed to steady the mug as Deborah sat up, and he missed her warmth immediately.

He glanced up, and watched as Ianto entered the Hub, followed by two very familiar men.  He grinned as his granddads both boggled at their surroundings; pretty much the same as he had, when he’d first set foot into the Hub.

Myfanwy took the opportunity to fly by overhead, letting out her distinctive cry as she did.  Granddad Canton managed not to jump in surprise, but he couldn’t say the same for Grandpa Pat.  “Is that a pterodactyl?” Pat nearly squeaked.

Patrick laughed for the first time since he’d discovered his ‘pregnancy’, and then had to wheeze to get his breath back.  Damn thing was pushing up against his lungs something awful.

Both his grandfathers looked in his direction as they heard him.  Granddad Canton’s eyes went wide, and Grandpa Pat’s mouth dropped open.  “When Mr Jones said there’d been physical changes in you, son…I don’t think we were expecting this!”

Patrick couldn’t help the smile that curved upward at his Granddad’s words.  “Congratulations!” he exclaimed.  “It’s an alien egg!”

That earned him a snort from his Granddad, and a fond shake of the head from his Grandpa.  “It must not be too bad if you’re joking about it,” Pat said.

“It really is that bad,” Jack’s voice cut off Patrick’s sarcastic comment.  His boss was standing at the door to his office, arms crossed over his chest.  His eyes were on the two strangers in the Hub, and Patrick could see the wheels turning in Jack’s head as he processed the fact that non-Torchwood personnel he wasn’t personally familiar with were in his domain. “It’s just that you learn to not take such things seriously.”  Then he turned on his famous mega-watt smile on their visitors.  “Welcome to Torchwood, gentlemen.” 

Canton returned the smile with an expression that said he was honoured to be there but wasn’t going to put up with any bullshit.  “Captain Harkness,” he said, moving closer and holding out his hand.  “Thank you for letting us see our grandson.”

Jack accepted the handshake.  “He’s family, and family’s important.”

That seemed to earn Jack some brownie points with both his grandfathers.  He then completely lost them when he added, “Plus having two handsome men in the Hub is a bonus.”

Pat also offered his hand, and Jack nodded to him in greeting as he took it, a flirty grin on his face. 

“Didn’t know we’d be getting so domestic in here when I was hired.”  Owen’s snark cut across the silence that had descended like a hot knife through butter.

Jack shook his head.  “Let me introduce you.  The bastard who just said that is Owen Harper – “

Doctor Owen Harper.”  The medic rolled his eyes.  “How many times do I have to say it?”

“Our medic,” Jack went on as if Owen hadn’t interrupted.  “Doctor Toshiko Sato, our technician extraordinaire…”

Tosh looked up from her work, giving both men a friendly smile.  “It’s a pleasure.  Patrick’s told us so much about you.”

“And he’s told us hardly anything about you,” Canton countered, one side of his mouth lifted in a sardonic smile.

Patrick sighed.  Like he was going to break security protocol and tell anyone about his co-workers?  His parents had raised him better than that!

“And this is Rhys Williams, our logistical manager.  He also keeps us supplied and is a wizard on the internet.”

“Not so much a wizard,” Rhys replied from his workstation, looking slightly embarrassed at the praise.  “Just someone who wants to make sure eBay remains a safe place for the rest of the world.”

“And of course we’ve already met,” Deborah said, standing.  “It’s nice to see you both again.”

“She’s been looking after me while I’m…well.” Patrick motioned to his distended belly.  “Since apparently I’m having pregnancy symptoms I shouldn’t be having.”

“When your Mom was carrying you,” Grandpa Pat said, “she used to eat the weirdest things…”

Patrick wasn’t about to admit that he’d been doing the same thing.

His grandfathers seemed to be taking this very well, but then at least his Granddad Canton was a bit used to weird shit.  After all, he’d been hunting down aliens since before Patrick had been born.  He did wonder if there’d be some sort of freak-out later on, and he could certainly understand if there were…after all, he’d done the same thing that morning.

“And I told you,” Owen countered, “that your blood tests are showing elevated levels of hormones associated with pregnancy.”

“How is that possible?” Canton asked.

“From what I can tell,” the medic said, “is that there’s something in the Nostrovite’s saliva that triggers hormone production.  I think it’s done so whatever’s injected with the Nostrovite egg is fooled into thinking it’s an actual pregnancy.  Of course, humans don’t puff up overnight, so that was a dead giveaway.”

“That…makes an odd sort of sense, I suppose,” Pat said hesitantly.

“Yeah, but it’s playing havoc on my nerves,” Patrick whined.  “My ankles are twice their normal size and I have to piss every few minutes.  And I’d blame dust on my eyes watering but I know for a fact that Ianto keeps this place practically sterile, so there’s no chance of that.”

The dragon snorted.  “It’s a losing battle, I promise you.”

His grandfathers came over to him, Pat sitting down on the sofa and Canton staring down, his dark eyes knowing.  “You’re not even here for half a year and you’re already in trouble.”

Patrick wasn’t at all intimidated.  He simply shrugged.  “And this is something new?”  He knew damned well his parents were always insisting he’d inherited the combined Delaware-Coulson trouble gene.  Along with the early-onset hair loss Patrick had been doomed even before he’d been conceived.

His comment had gotten him a snort of his grandfathers and eye rolls from the Welsh members of the team…who, as a people, had the whole eye-rolling thing down to a fine art.  Patrick had often wondered if it was something learned, or if it was a part of the Welsh gene pool.

“Do we have any good news?” Jack asked, bringing proceedings back down and to the point.

Toshiko sighed, frustrated.  “I’ve tried to scan for any sort of residual Rift energy, but that was a longshot to begin with.  There just isn’t anything different in the scans we’d taken from the male Nostrovite to differentiate between the mother alien and half the alien residents in Cardiff.”

“Nothing from me, either,” Owen added. “I’ve run all the tests and I can’t add anything to Tosh’s search.”

“And nothing’s coming from on police channels,” Rhys reported.  “I’ve even spoken with Andy, and he says they’ll put out an alert, but what can they even look for?  The bloody thing’s a shape-shifter, and all we’ll have is a body she leaves behind to show she’s even been somewhere.”

Jack’s face darkened, and Patrick could read him enough by now to know that he didn’t want to consider the alternative.  “We can’t wait until she kills someone,” he pointed out.  “We need to find her now.”

That got him a rather dirty look from one of his grandfathers, and a worried look from the other.  Pat stood up and tried to loom over Jack, but that never worked and Patrick could have told him that if he’d bothered to. 

“We don’t want to dangle you out as bait,” his boss swore.  “In your condition you wouldn’t be able to fight her off…and we know how resistant they are to bullets.  We’d need something more powerful if we’re going to destroy her.”

Then, as Patrick watched, Jack’s face brightened and a smile blossomed.

He had something on his mind.  Patrick didn’t know if he should be relieved or scared out of his wits.

“Jack,” Ianto said warningly, “you aren’t thinking what I think you’re thinking.”

“Why not?” Jack pouted.  “We know it will cut through dragon scale…”

“But it’s an up close weapon,” Ianto argued.  “You’d have to be right up with the Nostrovite in order to use it.  That’s too dangerous.”

Patrick was puzzled.  “What are you two talking about?”  He’d been told not to mention anything about a dragon, and yet Jack had just said…

Both of his grandparents were listening intently.  They wouldn’t have missed the reference to a dragon, but he very much doubted they’d put it together with Ianto Jones. 

“We know it won’t be any problem getting close to the Nostrovite,” Jack waved off Ianto’s objection.

Ianto threw his hands up.  “It’s not you getting close to the Nostrovite, Jack…it’s the Nostrovite getting close to you!  It’s a dangerous creature!  You and Patrick got lucky when you were able to take down the male last night.  You can’t rely on that again!”

“We’re not relying on luck,” Jack argued.  “If we plan this just right, there will be very little danger of any of us getting hurt.”

“Excuse me,” Toshiko butted in.  She’d left her station and was glaring at both men as if her very vision could set them on fire.  “But are we talking about the Dragon Killer? Because, if we are, I thought that thing was supposed to stay locked up in the Secure Archives.”

Patrick felt the blood leave his face.  There was actually something that could kill Ianto? And Jack as thinking about using it on the Nostrovite?

He’d thought killing the dragon was nigh on impossible.  Even in Ianto’s comparatively weak human form he was tough as nails and could take more damage than anyone else on the team…even Jack, when it came down to it.  Jack though would merely die; Ianto would come after you like a wounded…well, a wounded dragon, really.  It didn’t seem possible that there was actually a weapon out there that would take out a dragon.

But then, Ianto’s entire family – his race – had been destroyed by human beings.  It did make sense there was something that would do it.  But it was inconceivable that Jack would keep something like that around the Hub!

Jack was trying to seem reasonable, and Patrick would have bought it if it hadn’t been the fire in his eyes.  “We need something that’s going to take down a Nostrovite.  That’s the only thing I can think of that can.”

“I don’t think it’s up to you, Jack,” Owen said, in the calmest tone Patrick had ever heard the medic use.  “I think it’s up to Ianto.  It rightfully belongs to him, after all.”

Now that caused Patrick’s mouth to fall open, he was so shocked.  An actual dragon owned something that was designed to murder his own race?  That didn’t make sense at all!

The dragon just stood there, his arms crossed, glaring at his mate.  Patrick could tell that Ianto was angry, but at what he didn’t know.  Was it because Jack wanted to use this thing, or was it because it would put Jack in danger?  Even though his boss could come back to life, it still hurt like a bitch to die, and Ianto hated it when Jack had to go through that.  They’d all seen it, how the dragon would react to Jack being killed, and he could say with absolute certainty that every member of this team felt the exact same way as Ianto did and would do everything in their power to prevent it.

“Excuse me,” he just had to interrupt, “but is there an actual plan, or is Jack talking out of his ass?”

That earned him a snort from Owen, and a headshake from Rhys.  Deborah and Toshiko simply were amused, and his granddads had equally bemused expressions.  Ianto was still glaring, but the intensity of it had faded somewhat in the face of Jack’s pout.

“Of course I have a plan,” the boss answered.  “It’s just not one that’s going to be popular, that’s all.”

“Jack,” Ianto murmured, “are you intent on using it?”

“I think it’s the only weapon we have on hand that might have a chance against the Nostrovite.  If we had something else, I’d be suggesting that instead.”

Ianto’s shoulders slumped in defeat.  “You’re right, of course.”  He headed toward Jack’s office, where the safe with the Secured Archives were.  “I’ll fetch it then.”

Once he was gone, Toshiko spun on Jack, her eyes snapping.  “This isn’t right.”

Jack held up his hand.  “I know, Toshiko, and I’m sorry.  But we need something that will stop that Nostrovite, and we can’t rely on luck to kill the mother.  She’s going to be completely motivated on getting her egg back, and that’s going to make her unstoppable.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been so cavalier about it, but it really is our only chance if and when we find her.”

It was Tosh’s turn to give up.  “I don’t like it…”

“And you think I do?”

Patrick noticed that his grandfathers weren’t getting involved in the conversation, but that was just like them.  Granddad Canton was paying very close attention, and Patrick could tell he was putting things together in his head, but he wouldn’t have enough information to really formulate a response to what was going on. 

Grandpa Pat was busily filing things away.  He was the sort of person who collected all the available information first instead of attempted to figure things out on the fly.  It was what made him a good journalist.

The thing was, Patrick didn’t know what the hell was going on either, and he was the one who was in Torchwood.  This directly affected him; he was the one carrying the damned egg.  He’d have gone into the microtron the moment it was set up if he’d really had a choice.  Because, face it, it was either his wellbeing or some innocent out there in the Greater Cardiff area who just happened to get in the way of a homicidal mother after her kid.

Patrick knew the armoury inside and out, and tried to come up with something that they could use instead of whatever the hell he had in mind, but there was nothing.  They had a couple of fancy-looking ray guns, but none of them worked.  He’d always intended to see about putting at least one of them back together; the Rift was often rough on the tech that fell through it, and any piece of advanced weaponry had seemed to fall victim to it.  After everything was back to normal – or as normal as things got in Torchwood – he was going to make it a special project to get at least one of them working.

He’d also have to speak to his uncle about getting him some more explosive…no, maybe he should ask either Natasha or Clint.  Surely they’d be able to get him something that he could smuggle into the Hub, and get him past Jack and Ianto’s rules about plausible deniability and how it was fine to break the rules as long as they didn’t catch anyone at it.

Ianto came down from Jack’s office, holding something in his hand.  It was about two and a half feet long, and narrow, and when the dragon got closer Patrick saw exactly what it was.

It was a sword.

The pommel was wrapped in stained and worn leather.  The cross hilt was curved slightly upward, and if he had to judge he would have said it was some sort of Celtic longsword.  The blade was pitted in places but generally well-cared for, and appeared to be razor sharp. 

Patrick had once asked Ianto about his family, and the dragon had admitted that they’d all been killed by Christian knights on their way home from one of the many Crusades.  He’d been vague about the timing, but Patrick thought it was more that it was a traumatic experience and had blocked a lot of it out of his memory than having actually forgotten. 

He would have bet any amount of money that this was the weapon that had slain Ianto’s family.  Although why the dragon would have wanted to keep it was beyond Patrick.

Granddad Canton’s eyebrows were both raised, but it was Grandpa Pat who said incredulously, “This is the special weapon you want to use on the Nostrovite?”

Ianto passed it over to Jack, who accepted it reverently.  “This sword is special,” Jack said quietly.  “It’s called the Dragon Killer, for the obvious reasons.  And, before you say anything, dragons are very real.  There’s only one left out there, and he gave this to me for safekeeping.  It was wielded by the knight who murdered this last dragon’s family, and almost killed him as well.”

“There’s something…off, about it,” Toshiko whispered.  Patrick saw that Owen had come up behind her, and had his arm around her shoulders in a gesture of comfort.  “The Earth doesn’t like it.”

“Probably ‘cause all the blood on it,” Owen growled.  He kept glancing between the sword and Ianto, as if trying to gauge the dragon’s reactions to the sword. 

Ianto’s face was pale, but he was holding himself together pretty well.  His fists were clenched at his sides and his spine was stiff, but he didn’t seem to be about to break down.  His eyes were shadowed, and Patrick had to wonder if he was remembering his family and how they died. 

He wished Jack had never suggested they use the damned thing. Some things were better left alone.

Rhys didn’t look happy about it either.  His own family had been worshippers of the older religions, and he had to have more knowledge of magic and dragons than most other people.  He must know just how…evil, that weapon was.  And Jack wanted to use it against the Nostrovite.

A hand was threaded between his elbow and his side, and Patrick glanced over to see Deborah back on the sofa beside him, as pale as Ianto was.  She didn’t like that blade either.  Patrick wanted to tell her that everything was going to be alright, that it was just a piece of forged metal, but he couldn’t.

This was an awful thing, and it was basically going to be used to save Patrick’s life.

That thought knocked the air out of his chest. 

Ianto was agreeing with this despite the terrible memories and the blood of his family on that steel.  It was for him, Patrick, and he just didn’t think it was worth it.

But Ianto thought he was.  It was a heady yet horrific thought.

Patrick didn’t know how to handle it.

He was saved from having to think about it overly much by Jack’s announcing his plan.

It went over about as well as Patrick had expected.