DISCLAIMER: The mighty Beeb owns Dr Who in all its incarnations. MGM and whoever can have Stargate back whenever they want. I only borrowed them for a while, showed them a good time.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEQUEL: To The Long Way Round.
Long Way to Go
Still on a high following her reunion with Sarah Jane, Sam Carter drank a little too much at the reception. Not enough to lose control but enough to blur the edges slightly. She remembered dancing with several people, one man in particular, an American though with a slightly otherworldly air to him. He was dashing, possibly too handsome, knowledgeable about far too many things, including her identity and her reason for being in the UK and far too good at diverting questions about himself other than to leave a carefully cultivated air of mystery. She did learn his name. Another Jack of all things. He strongly reminded her of the Doctor.
"The Twenty-First Century," he told her. "That's when everything changes."
He was a very good dancer and a witty and charming conversationalist. Sam had a much better time than she had expected to. She allowed him one good-night kiss before she left the reception, got a cab back to her hotel and retired alone to her room to dream of Sarah Jane.
Sam had a headache the next morning and declined the full English Breakfast on offer in favour of black coffee and a slice of dry toast. Her meeting at Torchwood was scheduled to begin at 9.30 at their new London HQ at Admiralty Arch. She took a cab from the hotel, peering out at the crowded noisy streets as they passed. The sense of history was overwhelming. She had been in cities that were far older and far more impressive but there was just something about being in the centre of London that spoke to her. Her recent ancestors were from this part of the world after all.
The young woman at the reception desk took her ID and scanned it and then asked Sam to put her right hand on a second scanner `for security identification' before politely asking her to take a seat. Someone from Torchwood would be here to collect her in a few minutes. Only moments later a serious looking young man in an immaculate suit appeared from a side door and came to stand in front of her.
"Colonel Carter, my name is Ianto. If you'd like to come with me, please." He nodded to the young woman at reception and then ushered Sam through the side door and down a short corridor to a bank of lifts. One was waiting. Ianto accessed the security panel, entering a code and then pressing the palm of his right hand to a screen that appeared before standing aside and indicating that Sam should do the same.
"Ianto Jones, Colonel Samantha Carter recognised. Access to Torchwood granted." The lift doors slid shut and the lift began to descend.
"How far down are we going?" Sam asked.
"Only about 100 metres," Ianto said. "Torchwood London took over the old WW2 command facility that lies under most of Central London after the incident at Canary Wharf. The office and meeting space is finished but most other areas are still being fitted out. They're mostly going to be used for labs, storage and archiving."
"How long have you been working here?" Sam asked.
"I normally work at Torchwood 3, based in Cardiff. Captain Harkness, Dr Sato and Miss Cooper from the Cardiff facility are also attending the briefing today. Things are a bit hectic so I volunteered to act as reception and security. It's the job I normally do at the Cardiff office."
Cardiff from her somewhat sketchy knowledge of English geography Sam remembered that that was in Wales. Hence the man's unusual name and accent. She knew from her briefings that Torchwood 1 was in London, Torchwood 2 was in Glasgow, Torchwood 3 was in Cardiff and Torchwood 4 was actually she couldn't remember if the briefing document had given a location for Torchwood 4.
The lift smoothly came to a halt and after a beat the doors opened onto a wood panelled corridor that looked like it should lead to someone's country house library. She followed Ianto down the corridor and through a set of double doors into a large boardroom. Several people were already situated, some at the long table reading over briefing notes, a group down at the far end helping themselves to coffee and pastries.
Sam paused as she caught sight of a familiar face. "Jack "
"Ah, you've already met Captain Harkness," Ianto murmured. "He is rather unforgettable. He's head of Torchwood 3."
"I met him at the reception yesterday evening," Sam said. "He didn't mention being involved with Torchwood."
"You'll find that Jack often doesn't like to show his hand too quickly," Ianto said, ushering her to a seat and placing a sheaf of documents in front of her. "There are a few more people still to arrive, please help yourself to coffee, Colonel Carter."
"Thank you," Sam smiled up at the young man and then cast a covert glance over to the Torchwood people. So Jack Harkness had indeed known exactly who she was and why she was here when he had been flirting with her last night. Their files on him were sparse to say the least. There had been no current photograph on record hence her failure to recognise him the night before. An American citizen or so he claimed though there were no birth records, no records to say he had ever been educated or employed in the US, and no record of his leaving the US for the UK. His two colleagues were also interesting. Toshiko Sato was quite brilliant in a number of fields, particularly computers, cryptology and information synthesis. In person she was a slight figure, very intense and slightly nervous in her mannerisms. Gwen Cooper was something of an unknown quantity. The only information she had found on the young woman was an undistinguished career in the Welsh Police Force before she had been seconded to Torchwood. Her thick dark hair fell around her shoulders and her deep blue eyes seemed to see everything. She might be an unknown quantity, Sam thought to herself, but she would bear watching. And then there was Jack Harkness himself, exuding confidence, a go-to guy if there ever was one. The way they held themselves was familiar. Too familiar. They were a team, bonded in fire. They had dealt with things that people in this time and place were not meant to comprehend. There was a strength there that people who saw her interacting with the rest of SG-1 must see.
The door opened again and Ianto ushered in three more people, a fair- haired man and a black woman in military uniform both Generals by their insignia and a slightly harassed looking middle aged woman in an expensive suit that Sam recognised immediately as being Harriet Jones, the British Prime Minister and driving force behind the resurgence of Torchwood. The black woman was Brigadier General Winifred Bambera, head of U.N.I.T. The man was only introduced as General Fairfax.
Sam hadn't realised that the Prime Minister would be handling the briefing herself. The Brits really were starting to take Homeworld Security seriously, but given their recent encounters with the Slitheen, the Sycorax, the Daleks and the Cybermen that was only to be expected. It had still been a surprise when they had unveiled their weapon after politely refusing the SGC's offer of the Daedelus which had luckily been in near-Earth orbit at the time. The discovery that the British Government had its own secret programme dedicated to keeping Earth free from alien influence with a royal charter from Queen Victoria no less hadn't been an entirely unwelcome surprise to President Hayes. He got on well with Harriet Jones and the mutual agreement to share technology that had come out of the Sycorax incident served both nations well. The Special Relationship was alive and well.
After the round of introductions, they got down to business. Arrangements for the British SG team went smoothly. Sam was able to report that the names put forward had all been accepted by the SGC and that training slots for the six men and two women would open up within the next three months. They would train at the SGC in basic Stargate 101 for six weeks before going to the Beta Site for intensive offworld training for another six weeks to three months. After which they would be assigned to existing teams for a six month evaluation period before either their own team was formed or places were found for them on existing SG teams, according to their particular specialisation. Assignment of missions remained in the hands of the SGC but the British Government would be given full disclosure. The British Government had already signed up to lengthy agreements regarding acquisition of off-world technology, first contact situations and what would be done in the case of death, injury or capture of one of the British military officers.
Sam brought them up to date on the latest intel on the Ori and the destruction of the Supergate. Toshiko Sato began a lengthy presentation on the latest artefacts to appear from the rift.
Three hours later and even Sam was flagging. She had just had to sit through some rather sharp questioning on how the Ba'al clones had managed to escape from Earth with the Ancient Gate addresses. Her Torchwood colleagues hadn't faired any easier. Something about the status of one of their former operatives who might be redefining death. Sam realised that she should probably be a little concerned that the nature of the conversation didn't well, concern her at all. She had redefined death herself once or twice in her time and Daniel Jackson had virtually made it an artform. They were heading towards `Any other Business' on the Agenda.
"Captain Harkness have you any news on the Doctor?" Harriet Jones asked.
Sam could not hide her reaction. She felt Jack Harkness's eyes on her for a long moment but did not look up to meet his gaze. That man knew entirely too much about her all ready.
"No confirmed sightings since the incident at Torchwood 1. We know he successfully sealed the breach at Canary Wharf but he hasn't been seen since. As his TARDIS hasn't been located, we assume he escaped. There have been no sightings of Jackie Tyler or Rose Tyler since that time either. They are presumed dead or still travelling with the Doctor."
There wasn't much to say after that. The meeting broke up for lunch. Sam exchanged a few words with the Prime Minister who impressed Sam as being a very level-headed, sensible woman behind the cultivated air of fluster. And as the Sycorax incident had proven, not someone to be messed with.
"It seems incredible to me what you do what you have done," she said, taking Sam's hand. "And that no one should know of your bravery. One day, you will truly be a shining name in our history books, Colonel Carter."
"I'm just one of many people who make the Stargate Programme work, ma'am," Sam said, diverting attention from herself as automatically as ever. "And more still who have given their lives to the programme. They are the true heroes."
Janet, her heart sang as ever. Janet Fraiser. She knew nothing of that showed in her expression, yet Harriet Jones picked up on it.
"I know how you feel, Colonel. We lost good people during the Sycorax incident and again during the latest incursion. Too many good people, good friends. We continue the fight in their name."
"Yes, Madam Prime Minister," Sam said. Jack Harkness was at her shoulder.
"If I could borrow Colonel Carter for a moment or two, Prime Minister. We're trying to arrange an exchange visit between Torchwood and Area 51. As Colonel Carter headed up R&D there, we're hoping she can expedite things for us."
"I have another meeting to attend shortly I'm afraid," the Prime Minister said. "It was a pleasure and honour to meet you, Colonel Carter."
"And you ma'am." Sam said. She stood at parade rest as the Prime Minister and her aides left, escorted by General Bambera. General Fairfax had left as soon as the main meeting ended. She was alone with the Torchwood people.
"What we should really do is get you out to our Cardiff base," Toshiko said. "That's where the cutting edge stuff is. You can experience the rift first hand."
"I'm sorry, I won't have time this visit. I'm flying back to the States on Monday and I have plans for the weekend."
"Ah yes " Jack Harkness smirked. "Just how do you know Sarah Jane Smith?"
"How do you know that I know Sarah Jane Smith?" Sam countered. "Have you got her under surveillance or am I the one you're watching?"
"Miss Smith is a person of interest to Torchwood," Gwen said carefully, her voice giving nothing away.
"She is a known associate of an alien who calls himself The Doctor. He had been involved in several of the most recent attacks and incursions on Earth," Toshiko said.
"But you knew this all ready," Jack said. "And you know the Doctor. How?"
"I I travelled with him for a time, five years ago," Sam said. "That's how I know Sarah Jane. Though in her time scale it was nearer to thirty years ago."
"My God, that's incredible," Tosh gasped, her dark eyes lighting up. "Everything we know about this man, about the TARDIS just blows every theory of the linear progression of time out of the water. And you travelled with him I I'm jealous!"
Jack Harkness pulled a PDA out of his jacket pocket. "I wouldn't be so jealous, Tosh, your life is quite exciting enough as it is without the TARDIS. What did he look like when you travelled with him?" he asked.
"Tall, quite broadly built, dark curly hair, hawkish nose, very blue eyes, almost as intense " Sam ground to a halt, trying not to blush.
"Go on " Gwen prompted, unaware of the source of Sam's embarrassment.
"I was going to say, almost as intense as yours," Sam smiled shyly. Gwen's cheeks flushed a pale pink as Tosh made an exasperated noise and shook her head.
"You sure you haven't been helping yourself to Owen's pheremone spray?" she asked Gwen.
Gwen play-pushed her shoulder. "Hey, when you've got it "
"I know, I know." Tosh shoved back then grinned at Sam. "It's okay. We're just keeping score."
Jack Harkness ignored his colleagues. "From your description it sounds like No 4." He brought up a picture from a file on his PDA. It was `her' doctor all right.
"Yes, that's him . You called him number 4 what did you mean?" Sam asked.
"From what we know of the Doctor he has the ability to completely change his appearance, to somehow regenerate an entirely new body." Sam nodded, remembering Sarah Jane telling her about the Doctor as she had first known him the 3rd incarnation, Sam assumed.
"I already know he's not from Earth if that's any help to you," Sam said.
Jack nodded. "He's of a race that called themselves the Time Lords. He claims to be the last one that the rest of them were wiped out in a huge war with the Daleks the second alien race involved in the London incursion."
Sam remembered the briefing on what Jack O'Neill would undoubtedly call the `pepperpot aliens' and nodded. "I didn't travel with him for very long," she said.
"Have you encountered him again since you left the TARDIS?" Gwen asked. "We didn't have much evidence that he ever met up again with his companions certainly not the ones we have access to. But his current incarnation the tenth as far as we can tell seems a bit more sentimental."
Sam reminded herself that this young woman had police training. She certainly had a direct way of asking questions and an air that expected answers. There was a look to her that Sam liked. She could tell by the way that her colleagues acted around her that they liked it as well. For a moment she speculated what their out-of-work relationships were like. She had the feeling that they might be complicated. And she mourned her own spectacular timing. In the years since Janet had died there had been no one despite Vala's best efforts. And now here she was, connecting with two beautiful, intelligent and apparently willing and available women in a matter of days. Sometimes her life just sucked.
"I met him again about four-five months ago. He invited himself on a tour of one of the SGC's facilities using the alias Dr John Smith and ID that identified him as a Scientific and Technical Adviser for UNIT. He looked totally different, but I knew him instantly.
"That's interesting " Jack made a notation on his PDA. "Did he have anyone with him?"
"He was on his own but it was a temporary thing. He mentioned a girl called Rose."
"Then it was no 9 or no 10," Jack said softly. "Brown pinstripe suit or leather jacket?"
"Suit," Sam said. " and tennis shoes."
"Definitely 10 then," Gwen said. Jack nodded.
"Okay, I've answered your questions," Sam said. "Now you answer one of mine. Which Doctor did you travel with?" She sensed Gwen and Toshiko perk up. Obviously Jack Harkness was as cagey with the personal history with his colleagues as he was with everyone else.
"His predecessor. Number 9." Harkness said. "Just for a couple of months." He stared at his team mates in turn, his gaze resting on Gwen for the longest. Sam could see that Gwen was bursting to ask questions. This was obviously a revelation to them as well.
"Was that before you joined Torchwood?" Toshiko asked.
"It was why I joined Torchwood," Harkness said, his voice taking on a harder edge. "I saw first hand just what kind of a loose cannon the Doctor can be."
Sam had to agree with him. Though she herself bore the man no malice, she knew only too well that the Doctor was an inveterate meddler who hated to stick around for the post-mortem afterwards. Though he always seemed to act for the best. She knew from her time on SG-1 how well that could turn out sometimes.
The door opened and Ianto peered round the door. "You asked me to come get you when it was three o'clock," he reminded Jack. "You had some things to do before we head back up to Cardiff."
"Yeah, a couple of things I need to check on," Jack said. "Well, Colonel Carter Sam it was nice to finally meet you in person. I hope we can continue this conversation some other time. Gwen will liaise with you on the exchange visit if that's okay."
Sam knew she shouldn't but she couldn't help but give Gwen her full smile. She knew from Janet's detailed explanation (including visual and tactile aids) just what effect that could have on people. The pinkness level in Gwen's cheeks upped a shade or two. "I look forward to it," Sam said.
The whole team escorted her back to the front door. Ianto immediately went across the pavement to a huge black car with `Torchwood' etched into the side panel and got in the driver's seat, his Bluetooth earpiece in place as he began an urgent-sounding conversation with someone called `Owen'.
"Sam " Jack Harkness drew her away from the others. "I didn't mean to intimate that we were any kind of threat to you or to Sarah Jane Smith or any relationship that might exist between you. Miss Smith is of interest to us, I admit. In fact if you want to extend an invitation to us to come talk to us about her experiences. She's one of the few people who has met a Dalek face to face and lived to tell the tale. She's one up on me on that one."
Sam thought that through and shot Jack a puzzled glance.
"Sorry long story," he smiled that killer smile of his again. "Have a great weekend Sam. And keep fighting the good fight."
"You too, Jack. You too."
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