14 March 2012 @ 10:37 am
Title: Solitary Confinement (Chapter 4 of ?)
Author: Merucha
Characters: Criminal Minds/Torchwood
Rating: Some chapters definitely not safe for work. Disclaimer: Oh, please. If I owned them, would I let some of those idiots write the scripts? And if I were making any money off them, would I be where they could find me?
Summary: Aaron Hotchner's secrets and the real reason for the existence of the BAU team is revealed when a terrible serial killer strikes...
Author's Note: People are the only mirror we have to see ourselves in. The domain of all meaning. All virtue, all evil, are contained only in people. There is none in the universe at large. Solitary confinement is a punishment in every human culture. Lois McMaster Bujold. Mirror Dance.
Author's Note: Fire and Ice, by Robert Frost


Part one is here; part two is here; Part three is here


My mother's favorite poem is Fire and Ice by Robert Frost. I once asked her why, of all the words of all the authors she had studied, all the great poets, playwrights and novelists, she loved that little nine-line stanza with no set meter or rhyme the most. It teaches you what to look for, she had said, and refused to say anything else, although she smiled as if keeping a secret. At the time I'd thought it had been just another symptom of her illness.

Now I understood what she meant. I understood her the moment I'd looked into Jack Harkness's icy blue eyes and seen my own death.

The meeting had disintegrated into a shouting match, with Hotch standing in front of me, blocking the Captain's way, while Rossi, Prentiss, Garcia, and even Morgan all tried to give a piece of their mind to anyone who would listen. I kept my eyes on the two men – after all it was my life they were arguing about – and wondered if Hotch realized how much he resembled his former lover. Not physically; in fact, there they were almost mirror images, dark against light, handsome versus beautiful. But the eyes were hard and the faces were set in identical unyielding expressions.

Captain Jack Harkness. Like Rossi, I had spent time surfing through the alien conspiracy websites. Photos of the Captain were the holy grail of alien hunters. There were grainy images dating back to the nineteen twenties that showed this man looking almost exactly as he did right now. In fact, in photos taken after after World War Two he looked exactly as he did right now, down to the military coat. They were mostly out of focus images, glimpses of a man entering and leaving places, including Buckingham Palace. Several of them showed him, much younger and happier, standing next to two men, both tentatively identified as the greatest mystery of all – the alien called the Doctor. It was also obvious, to me at least, that  he and Hotch shared a very personal relationship.

And he was going to kill me.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the young man that had arrived with the Captain whispering to Ieuan Harte, who nodded, leaving the room and returning a few minutes later with a gorgeous black woman in a lab coat.  She marched up to Hotch and the Captain, clearly expecting to be acknowledged. When her expectations were not met, she put her hands on her hips and let out a bellow that would not have disgraced a marine corps drill instructor.

“Quiet!”

I was startled to see both men blush. The Captain started to say something, only to be shut down by an upraised finger. Then the newcomer turned to me.

“Hello. You must be Doctor Spencer Reid.” She offered her hand and I found myself taking it before I had the chance to think about it. “I'm Doctor Martha Jones. Medical doctor. I read your papers on using soft body dynamics to model closed biophysical environments. We'll discuss the details as we go. I have some insight you might want to incorporate into your hypotheses.”

“Go where?” I asked, a little dazed by the force of her personality.

“Medical bay. You need a thorough checkup. Ianto, Penny, come with me.”

I trailed obediently behind her, Garcia and the young man called Ianto bringing up the rear. We went down two flights of stairs to what looked like a fully operational surgical theater. She waved me to the table.

“Sit there. Penny will be with you every step of the way, yeah? Ianto, I need you to keep an eye on the readouts.”

He nodded and moved to the workstation behind the bed. I heard a soft whine as machinery activated. Martha pulled out a tool shaped like a pen, but twice as thick and long, and studded with small knobs. She gave it a couple of twists and a bright bue light  appeared at its tip. A  little fiddling with the buttons and the brightness was toned down to a level manageable by human eyes. The conspiracy sites had images of something similar supposedly used by the Doctor.

“A sonic screwdriver,” I blurted out.

She looked up with a smug grin. “Well, more like a sonic medical diagnostic tool. All right, Spencer.  I can call you Spencer, yeah? Good. Stretch out. This is a diagnostic bed. It was designed by our technogenius, Toshiko Sato. As we speak it's doing everything your own doctor would do during your annual checkup. Ianto?”

“Everything reads human normal. Whatever Jack is picking up is not registering as a physical construct.”

I was surprised by the faint accent, but even more by the way he turned prose into something pliable and slightly erotic with just a infinitesimal lengthening and variation in pitch in the vowels.  After a moment's thought, I was able to identify it: Southern Welsh. So there was something to the conspiracy sites' claim that Cardiff was somehow linked to the Doctor.

“All right, then.” Martha twisted a few knobs in her diagnostic tool and pointed it at me. “Let me explain what is happening. This thing has retrieved the readings from the diagnostic bed and used them to create a Spencer Reid template which it has matched against the generic template for a twenty-first century North-American male.  It will catalog and analyze every difference it finds, down to the molecular level.”

I shivered a little. I didn't think I wanted to be cataloged like some sort of rare book. Most of those ended their lives in perfectly air-conditioned cages in Universities, taken out only for experts to examine.

“Well, that's interesting,” Martha muttered as she ran the diagnostic tool over me, returning again and again to my head. “Ianto...”

“That's unusual, isn't it?”

Martha nodded. I tried to twist around to see what they were looking at but was stopped by a sharp smack to the top of my head.

“Hey!”

I  pouted at Garcia, who shook a chiding finger at me in true Garcia style. Suddenly it ocurred to me that my old friend wasn't here as a friend, but as a guard.  No better executioner than someone who could discharge enough energy into your body to stop your heart. From what I had been able to pick up about Daleks, she wouldn't have hesitated.

Martha smiled at me again, but this time there was a tightness about her lips, and the smile didn't quite reach her eyes. “Question time, Spencer. What do you know about your family history?”

“The Reid family went from Boston to San Francisco during the Gold Rush. The only one to leave California was my father, who moved to Las Vegas in the sixties. My maternal grandfather moved from... oh.”

“What is it, sweetie?” Garcia prompted me.

“Grandfather Spencer moved from New York to Chicago during the Great Depression. He married late in life and my mother wasn't born until he was in his fifties. He died when she was seven.”

“Natural death?”

“He worked the high iron.” I chuckled at their confusion. “Skyscrapper construction. He fell off a beam he was soldering up about the fortieth floor.” I sat up, ignoring both Martha and Garcia. “What did you find?”

Martha turned off the diagnostic tool and put it back in her pocket. “Well, to begin with, you're as human as... Jack or John. Human with modifications.” She pulled up a stool and sat down. “They wouldn't show in a regular medical exam, but they are there.”

“Am I...” I swallowed and tried again. “Am I a Dalek?”

“No. Yes.”

I threw up my hands. “That's singularly unhelpful, Doctor Jones.”

Ianto chuckled. “Business as usual in Torchwood. Let me try. According to Martha's magic wand, you have a Dalek brainwave pattern superimposed on a human one. It makes your brain incredibly efficient at learning new facts and arranging them into patterns, which is, I think, why you're so good at profiling. At most anything, actually. The unusual aspect of it is that in your case, the human pattern is firmly in control.”

“And I don't have the first idea why,” Martha grumbled. “It should have overwhelmed the human you by now.”

“My grandfather was in New York at the time of the Hooverville incident,” I said. “So there's at least a possibility that he could have been involved in whatever was happening.” I caught a glimpse of Martha's face as she turned away to fiddle with the medical workstation's keyboard. “Doctor Jones, what aren't you telling me?”

She turned as if to answer, but she stopped, staring at me as I had suddenly sprouted two heads. “One last test, and then I'll tell you.” She took out the diagnostic tool, turned it on again, and pointed it at me. “Penny, would you kiss Spencer?”

I stared at her the same way she had stared at me. “Whaaat?”

Before I could say anything else, I felt Garcia's hand on my chin and my head was gently tilted. I barely had time to brace myself before her lips touched mine.

Garcia is a good a kisser as she is a hacker.

It wasn't a long kiss but what it lacked in length it made up in intensity. When we separated, we were both panting a little, and my ears were hot and probably bright red. Martha smiled like a kid on Christmas morning.

“One more time. Ianto, would you kiss Spencer?”

“Now, wait a...”

He caught me with my mouth open. His hand cupped the back of my neck as his tongue made a leisurely tour of every inch of my mouth. I had never kissed a man, but I suddenly understood exactly why I wanted to kiss Hotch. My hand came up to hold Ianto in place, and I tangled my tongue with his, fighting him for control. It went on for a while, until we were recalled to reality  by Garcia's delighted clapping. 

Martha shimmied all over in a little victory dance.  “That's why. Oh, he'll pitch a hissy when he hears about this.”

“Captain Harkness?”

“Nah. Jack understands sexuality better than any of us. The Doctor. You see, Spencer, the reason why your Dalek brainwave pattern can  never get the upper hand is because you have very highly developed  orbitofrontal cortex. In fact, yours is more like Jack's than that of a twentieth century human.”

“The orbitofrontal cortex is a multimodal association region that clinical evidence suggests is involved in critical human functions, such as social adjustment and the control of mood, drive and responsibility, traits that are crucial in defining the ‘personality’ of an individual. How does the fact that I seem to be  attracted to both men and women tell you anything? ”

Martha grinned at me. “Can you think of anything more critical to a species than sexuality? That's what Daleks lack, kiddo.  Their multimodal association regions have been modified to ignore the most basic human impulse. They can smell burning oil, but not the sweat of a lover. They can identify a human face, but they cannot see its beauty. They know when a nutrient feed is not properly balanced, but they can't taste the flavour of a lover's mouth. At bottom, the ability to do that is what makes us human.”

“Martha,” I said, slowly, as if I were trying to explain particle physics to Jack Hotchner, “I am so damn lacking in the ability to make human connections that a lot of peope think I am a high-functioning autistic.”

She stroked my arm gently. “I understand that you had a difficult childhood, Spencer. It does make a difference. Children learn to deal with emotion by watching those around him.” I nodded but didn't say anything. “Come on, then. I need to report to Jack.”  She started up the stairs, then turned back. “And Spencer? Welcome to the human race. You're going to have one hell of a ride.”
 
 
 
 
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