Another Time, Another Place by xwingace [Reviews - 4] |
Note: Written for kataclysmic's Jack Harkness Crossover ficathon, for _archaicangel_, who requested: Angel: Jack/Spike S5, pre-Hole in the World. Spike finds a rift in space under Harmony's desk that leads to Cardiff, more specifically Captain Jack Harkness's Torchwood office.
This was written before Torchwood ever aired, contains no spoilers, and is probably already contradicted by canon. Nevertheless, here it is.
Credit: Thanks go to kataclysmic for organising this thing in the first place, and livii and Dune for their insightful and helpful comments for improving this fic. Any mistakes and strange things still left are of course down to me.
“Fred?” Spike spoke into the phone. “I don’t see anything here, pet.”
“Try scanning again. We’re sure there’s something there,” the head of Wolfram & Hart’s science department urged. Winifred Burkle had been convinced her trusty staff had picked up something ‘weird’ emanating from under the desk of everyone’s favourite executive secretary.
Quite how anything could be classed as weird in a demonic law firm currently under new management by the good guys, consisting of two vampires with souls, a former street thug with magically implanted legal knowledge, a Texan science whiz with a broad side interest in the supernatural and … well, Wesley was always a bugger to define. Watcher, wanker, warlock; they all fit but none of them very well. The point being that the situation was already so far beyond weird that the word really didn’t have any meaning anymore.
Nevertheless, something appeared to be there that wasn’t supposed to be, so Fred had roped Spike into checking it out. He shifted his position in the cramped space, trying and failing not to bump his head. He pointed the portable scanner the science department had rigged at a new stretch of wood. A thin purple beam shot out, and started moving around. “Remind me again why I’m doing this?”
“Because I asked you nicely? Besides…” Halfway through Fred’s reply, the air in front of Spike started to shimmer. He didn’t get to hear the end of the following sentence, because the next thing Spike knew, the desk and telephone were gone. He was no longer on the top floor of Wolfram & Hart’s LA office.
Instead, he was in a large open space with people dotted around it. About half were in white coats, the rest were in something resembling military uniforms.
“What the… Abort! Break it off, people! You! Don’t move!” He had already been noticed. The people in uniform were aiming odd guns at him.
Also aiming a sidearm, but not in uniform, was the man who had just ordered Spike to freeze. His accent was American and despite the fact that he didn’t wear a uniform, his stance and bearing screamed ‘military’. And the gun he was holding didn’t resemble any firearm Spike had ever seen.
Soldiers not wearing proper uniforms. Military with unfamiliar guns. Strange experiments. Oh bollocks. Somehow he’d ended up in another Initiative facility. He raised his arms. He was still holding the scanner in his right hand.
“Smart move, buddy,” said the same man who’d spoken before, as he continued to take the lead. Had to be some sort of commander, then. “Now slowly put that thing you’re holding on the ground. Very. Slowly.”
Spike lowered his right arm and placed the scanner in front of him. Then he stood up, slowly. The barrel of the gun followed him all the way up. As soon as he was fully straightened out, four soldiers tackled him from behind.
When he’d been trussed up like a turkey, or ‘secured’ as one of the soldiers had expressed it — in a Welsh accent, funnily enough --, the commander crouched next to him to closely study his face.
This gave Spike the opportunity to do the same thing. The man had dark hair, sticking up just like Angel’s, though it looked like he used a lot less hair gel. His eyes were blue and the man’s facial expression served to make those eyes seem to pierce straight through Spike.
They didn’t quite penetrate far enough, though, it seemed, because the next words out of the man’s mouth were “Now, who the hell are you?”
Spike was looking out over Cardiff bay, the skyline of the city bright with lights in the distance. Standing next to him was the man he’d surrendered to when he’d suddenly ended up surrounded by armed men and startled scientists. As it turned out, the man’s name and rank were Captain Jack Harkness, the one American among the English and Welsh here. Just why that was the case wasn’t quite clear and Jack didn’t seem inclined to share, either.
“It’s probably not that different, is it?” Jack asked, indicating the skyline. Three days into a regime of surprisingly gentle medical investigation —at least compared to all Spike’s previous experiences with such — and rigorous interrogation one of the Captain’s questions had gotten an unlikely, if not entirely unexpected, answer. To Spike’s surprise, that answer had lead Jack to quickly release Spike from the glass cell he’d been kept in and continue his interrogation in more comfortable quarters. Soon after, when Jack had apparently been satisfied that Spike wasn’t dangerous, even that confinement was lifted. Hence why he was now walking almost freely around what had to be one of the most boring cities imaginable. There hadn’t even been any signs of vampire attacks to liven up the nights.
To anybody else, that would be a good thing. It made Spike slightly uncomfortable. Especially since this unit Jack commanded, however Initiative-like it might have seemed, didn’t seem to know much about demons or vampires at all.
But the man had asked a question. “I haven’t the foggiest. I never did make it to Cardiff.” Spike turned around to lean on the railing of the bridge they were standing on. He looked at Jack. “Dull place. Mind you, any other place I’ve ever been, that back route you took to get us here would have been crawling with vampires.”
“Must have something to do with the location.” Jack grinned. “We get other problems here, and they don’t tend to stick to the back alleys.”
“No, they just appear in the middle of your headquarters. That has to be a major timesaver.”
That remark got an out and out laugh from Jack. Still shaking his head at the joke, he replied: “Well, they don’t usually show up that close to home, but there’s a reason HQ was built at that location, yes.” Then Jack turned serious again. “Did you call?”
“Says the man who was listening to all the calls I made.” After Jack’s shrug, Spike continued. “Most of the numbers were disconnected or someone else was living there. And the one person I did manage to reach hung up on me.” That hadn’t been fun. After about two dozen calls to anyone even vaguely related to Angel, Buffy or the Watcher’s council, the one call that got through had been to Fred’s parents. As soon as he identified himself and asked after their daughter, however, the woman on the other end had broken off the call. He’d just managed to hear a sob before it terminated completely. He turned back to stare out over the water. “Makes a man wonder if something happened.”
“A lot can happen in four years. Hell, a lot can happen in four minutes.” Jack was also looking out over the bay. There was a touch of bitterness in his voice. Was this related to why the man was here? But the start of that statement had been an expression of sympathy, and Spike accepted it as such.
Because that was the problem. Not that he had somehow miraculously ended up in Cardiff from Los Angeles, though that was strange enough by itself. That could be solved with a plane ticket, or better yet, a boarding pass on a cruise ship. No, the problem was that he had also travelled in time.
The question whose answer had eventually resulted in his current treatment had been: ‘What year do you think it is?’ And the correct answer hadn’t been, as Spike had thought, ‘2003’. The year was 2007. Four years lost. Nothing to a vampire his age. And yet those four years had cut him off from all his friends and associates. “So close, and still so far.”
“Tell me about it.”
Spike looked at Jack again, one eyebrow raised. “I did. I recall a lot of chatting over the past weeks.” The change in treatment had helped make Spike a lot more talkative, since it seemed that Jack’s motives, at least, weren’t that bad. He had slowly drawn most of Spike’s history out of him, in chats like these or in even more private locations. Spike was sure not all of that information had ended up with his superiors. Not all of the material was anyone’s business but his and Jack’s.
It had taken the Captain’s subordinates longer to stop treating Spike with overt suspicion, but after nearly two weeks of freedom without trying to harm anyone even that seemed to be fading.
“Oh yes, plenty of chats. As a matter of fact,” Jack paused to lift a bottle of whiskey out of one of the voluminous pockets of his greatcoat, “I did a little chatting of my own.” He twisted the cap to open the bottle. “And I have an offer for you. You can’t get back to your friends now. Stay on with us. That gives you the best chance of getting back, and we won’t stand in the way if that chance ever arrives.”
“That’s what you say. What about the big boss?”
“What about her?” Jack grinned again, exposing even white teeth. “I never officially was one of her subjects anyway. If I can help a man get back to his friends, then that’s what I’ll do.” He offered the bottle to Spike. “So, what do you say?”
Spike accepted the whiskey. “Might as well. Could use the exercise.” He took a swig. “Should warn you, though, Captain. I’m not big on taking orders.”
Jack’s shout alerted Spike, and he ducked just in time to let a bright purple beam pass over him. It hit a street light instead, and a part of the metal armature just vanished. The top part of the light, now no longer attached to its support, started to fall. Spike grabbed his opponent by the remnants of his shirt and gave him a shove in the right direction. The lamp hit him on what seemed to be his head and shattered. That took care of one nasty.
Jack had already dealt with the one that had tried to shoot Spike. The ray gun the alien had used was in pieces on the paving, with the shooter himself crumpled up next to it.
Number three was running off down the street. Jack looked at Spike, and together they raced after him. Initially, Jack kept pace with Spike and Spike allowed himself to relish the moment.
Working with Torchwood, as the organisation was named, hadn’t turned out to be so bad. The main difference seemed to be that here they called the demons ‘aliens’, and there was still a distinct lack of vampires around Cardiff. Aside from that, it was almost like the good old days. There weren't even any lawyers around to tell a man what he could and couldn’t do.
But fights like these were few and far between, and no vampires around also meant that there was never an easy way to find a scrap to work off the frustrations that inevitably occurred. Jack occasionally tried to function as a sparring partner, but even with his indubitably remarkable training —that he never commented on-- he wasn’t a match for a vampire who really wanted to let loose.
Speaking of which… Jack was starting to pull ahead of Spike. Couldn’t have that. Spike stopped holding back and was soon far ahead of him and closing in on the final alien. He tackled it, sending both of them rolling in the mud. The thing was quick, arms and legs and several previously unseen appendages all squirming and grabbing at Spike’s hands and legs and wrapping around his throat.
Why was this one so difficult? He’d disposed of the first one without any trouble, and even Jack had managed to deal with the other very quickly. Now he wasn’t even getting any chances to use his fists. And biting didn’t seem like a very salubrious option.
The alien rolled him around. Up until now, Spike had at least had the upper hand in that he had been straddling on top of it. But now the thing’s weight crushed him, making the struggle all the more difficult.
Then there was a dry thud. The writhing alien on top of Spike went limp, suddenly a dead weight. When he’d heaved it off, Spike found himself looking up at Jack.
The captain had his arms folded and a frown on his face, although he also seemed to be suppressing a smile. “What part of ‘They’re tough, hang back so we can bluff them into giving up’ didn’t you understand?”
Spike pushed himself back onto his feet, accepting one of Jack’s hands halfway through. “I said I was no good at taking orders.” His coat had taken quite a lot of punishment. He attempted to brush off some of the dirt and mud. He only succeeded in making it worse.
Jack had moved over to the alien and was searching the body. After Spike’s comment, he looked up and grinned. “So you did.” Then he resumed his search, the argument over.
Bugger. That comment to Angel would most likely have resulted in a long, drawn-out exchange of opposing views that was almost as much fun as an actual fight. Whereas Jack really did just laugh and shrug off the mild stings. Not quite as stuck up as the old poof, this young one. And therefore less fun to mess with.
“What’s this? Another one of those disruptors?” Jack had found a weapon. He held it up. It looked intact. “Too bad it got damaged in the fight.” With two quick twists pieces of quite delicate looking electronics fluttered out. “Yep, completely wrecked. Probably unrecoverable.” Jack looked at Spike, one eyebrow raised as if challenging him to say anything.
Spike put his hand over his heart in a pose of dramatic remorse. “My utmost apologies. It’s all my fault.”
Jack smirked and checked his watch. “You keep working on that. You’ve got five minutes until cleanup gets here.”
Spike made himself comfortable in Jack’s chair, positioned so that he could look out of the office into the main hall of Torchwood’s centre of operations. Five months now since he’d accepted Jack’s offer of a job at Torchwood. It wasn’t such a bad position, but with every day, he began to miss the people back in LA more and more. Quite a lot of the same kind of team spirit and even personality characteristics were also present here, but they just couldn’t quite measure up to the real thing and that made the lack all the more painful.
Jack was talking to one of the scientists on the team, but now he turned and called Spike over. When he joined them, Jack didn’t mince words.
“We’re getting the same readings from the rift we got when you arrived. We don’t know how long it’s going to last, but we’re going to take measurements.” Jack now turned to look at Spike very intently. “What do you want to do?”
It didn’t even merit an actual answer. After a brief look at Spike’s face, Jack nodded and handed over the scanner Fred had rigged together. He pointed to a particular spot on the floor. “That’s where you showed up. Good luck.”
The settings on the scanner hadn’t been changed. Spike took the indicated position and crouched there. At Jack’s signal, he turned the scanner on. A thin purple beam shot out and started moving through the air in front of him. It looked slightly ridiculous.
Jack’s expression, first as excited as Spike felt, slowly sank into disappointment along with Spike’s mood. But just as he was about to give up, the air in front of him shimmered. Spike’s last glimpse of Jack was a wide grin and a double thumbs-up.
Then he hit his head against the underside of the desktop. He stifled a curse.
Fred was still talking on the phone, the receiver now lying on the floor. “…Harmony said that if anybody was going to mess around under her desk, it was going to be you.” There was a short pause during which Spike tried to blink away the stars that had appeared in front of his eyes. Then he heard Fred’s voice again. “Spike? What did you just do?”
Spike shifted his position slightly so he wouldn’t hit his head again. He picked up the phone. “I didn’t do anything here. Just hit my head. Why?”
“The readings just stopped. That’s weird. Why would they stop just like that?”
“I don’t have a clue, pet. Was that it?”
Spike crawled out from under the desk and put the receiver back in its cradle. He took a good look around. Home sweet home.
Harmony was approaching, a large file folder in her hands. Spike picked her up, spun her around and kissed her, all under hysterical and half-hearted shrieks of protest. He was already halfway to Angel’s office before she found words to scold him with. “Spike! What do you think you’re doing?”
Spike grinned at her. “Haven’t got the time, princess. I need to go bother Angel.”
And in the meantime, try not to think too hard about what was going to happen that meant that none of them would be around in four years' time…