Title: The Mermaid of Mermaid Quay (6/6) tanarian
Characters: Andy Davidson, Jack Harkness, OFC
Rating: PG? I don't know, Jack's in this thing. Say R just in case he gets out of hand
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?
Spoilers: None. This takes place in my Homecoming AU, eight years or so before Ianto returns to Cardiff
Summary: Inspector Andy Davidson is on the trail of a killer who might not be human...
Author's Note: This Andy is a little older and a lot sadder and wiser. Dedicated to
Part one is here
; Part two is here
; Part three is here
; Part four is here
; part five is here
“Hannah Applegate,” Lily said as she flipped through her notebook, “was born and raised in Selsey. She was a sickly sort who barely stepped out of her house, except for taking long walks on the beach. The local constable described her, and I quote, as pale, dumpy, and unremarkable. Not exactly the type that jumps into a water tank wearing next to nothing and gets herself noticed by young and not so young men.”
“So how did she come to leave Selsey? Because I’m assuming she’s no longer there.”
“You assume correctly. An old friend of the family left her a nice little pile. As soon as she had her hands on it, she shook the sand off her soles. She kept close to the water, though. Seems to have been doing a circuit of seaside towns, staying a few months to a year then moving on.” Lily helped herself to a biscuit from the plate in front of Andy. “So far, I’ve talked to four different constables and the story is always the same. There are one or two unexplained deaths or disappearances in every place she’s visited.”
“That’s it, then.”
After speaking to Peter, Andy had returned to the station and had set in motion a number of enquiries. It had taken a little effort to convince Marie to stay at the club and wait for news, but he had managed. He also had asked the local constable to keep an eye on the area, but he knew better than to hold out much hope.
“You think she’s going to hurt that boy?”
“Yes.” He felt impotent to stop it and it enraged him. “They are going to kill him.”
“I can’t tell you about it Lily, I’m sorry. Duw. Now I know how Gwen must have felt trying to talk to me.”
“It’s all right, Andy.” She started to leave, then turned back. “You’re going to leave, aren’t you?”
“What in the world are you talking about?”
“Leave the force. Join Torchwood. The rest of us don’t really want to know what they do, Andy. Some of the things they deal with… but for you? It’s like cream to my cat.”
He watched her leave, stunned. He hadn’t given himself the chance to think about it, at least not consciously, but it had been in the back of his mind the whole time. Lily, in her usual blunt fashion, had yanked it out into the open.
He pulled out the ID and phone Jack had given him. The ID had his name, a recent photo, and a narrow barcode strip running along the bottom. Over it all floated a holographic image of the Torchwood logo.
Suddenly he remembered something Jack had said. He fitted the earbud of the phone into his ear and tapped it once.
“Cop Boy,” John Hart’s sardonic voice answered before the phone even rang. What can I do for you?”
“Jack says I can have access to the mainframe?”
“You sure can. Just slide your id card into the slot on the left hand side of the phone, hologram up. But since you’re here with me, metaphorically speaking, what would you like to know?”
“I need to correlate two people’s routines, see if they frequented the same places, ate at the same restaurants, that sort of thing. I don’t have time to do it through channels. Can the mainframe do that?”
“Cop Boy, that’s insulting. My baby can do that while you brush your teeth. Give me names and NI numbers.”
Andy read out the information. “Call me when you get something.”
“Cop Boy,” Hart said in a long-suffering tone. “You just stay on the line for a minute. So, are you coming over to the dark side?”
“Jack and Gwen both want you, you know. We need a good cop around here, Gwen’s too busy keeping the idiots in line. Hold on… here it is. Your guys, who, by the way, got killed by a tzax’unu… ugly way to go, that… made several purchases at a shop called Lady Fair.” He gave Andy the address. “Not exactly a great neighbourhood.”
“Thanks, Hart. I’ll…”
His door smashed against the wall. Andy looked up to see Keightley burst in, looking like a prime candidate for an instant heart-attack. Andy repeated his thanks to Hart and closed the connection.
“Davidson! What the hell is going on?”
“The Chief Constable says you’ve been assigned to Torchwood.”
“It would seem so, sir.”
“I won’t have it! Those bastards can shovel their own shit.”
At that moment Andy realized that he had already made his decision. He smiled gently at Keightley. “You will have what Torchwood decides that you will. Now, excuse me. I have work to do.”
Andy spent the ride to Lady Fair wondering what the hell would happen to his life now. He had burnt his bridges with a vengeance in a single sentence. He realized he had been hooked like a trout, and Jack Harkness was holding the rod. He should have been feeling terrified; instead he felt exhilarated.
As he got out of the car, he saw Jack and John Hart waiting. The Torchwood leader pointed to a narrow alleyway leading down to the river. “Lady at the shop says Hannah Applegate lives in a bed-sit in that old place at the end of the lane. Both Jones and Gardiner bought her presents regularly. She saw Hannah come home early today with a new boy. She remembers particularly because they both looked drunk and reeked of perfume.”
“Holding my hand, Jack?”
“Backing up a teammate. I have someone on the other side of the river, too.”
The three men set out down the alleyway. It was a dingy sort of place, with old houses crowded into narrow spaces. The early evening shadows were broken here and there by dim light bulbs over doorways and by a solitary lamp post marking the place where the lane met the river.
“There they are,” pointed Hart.
Hannah and Alan were staggering towards the river. The girl was half-carrying the boy and they both weaved about unsteadily. As they reached the lamp post, Andy could see that Alan’s face was slack, as if he were drugged, but Hannah looked haggard and old, her skin nearly translucent and her lips drawn back over her teeth. She spoke to the air above the river in a dreadful whine.
“Feed me. He’s here, come eat, feed me. Feed me!”
The thing that erupted out of the water was a travesty of a woman. The body was out of proportion, too long, too thick, and too narrow. The overall effect was one of a dreadful and lethal otherness. It hovered over the two, streaming liquid that seemed to hiss and retreat as it touched them.
Andy ran, ignoring Jack’s calls. The tzax’unu had started to fold around Alan. The boy was moaning softly and his body was twitching rhythmically. Hannah seemed to be mirroring his movements in an obscene parody. The water dripping from the alien had thickened into red-tinged mucus.
Not giving himself a chance to think, Andy barreled into the tzax’unu. It began to keen as it felt itself being propelled away from the boy and back towards the river. The sound was echoed by Hannah. She made a grab for Andy, but the combined momentum of the two bodies was too much. She lost her footing and crashed into the lamp post.
As he went into the water, Andy tried to push away from the tzax’unu, but it had wrapped itself around him as it had done to Alan. He felt something burn into his sides that reminded him of being stung by a portuguese man-of-war as a child. He thrashed about, trying to find his bearings in the murky water, but he could feel himself getting weaker as the filaments holding him tightened.
Suddenly, he felt the alien jerk away. Even underwater Andy could hear its high keen of pain. A beam of light impaled it, and as it twisted away, a second beam caught it on the other side. Each time it tried to escape, the light stabbed it. Andy turned towards the source of the light… and nearly took a deep breath out of pure shock.
She was glorious. The shoulder-length curls had turned into a flaming red mass that floated down to her waist. Her legs seemed to be encased in translucent webbing that began below her breasts and ended in a powerful fluke. She carried something that looked like a spear gun but fired the pure light that had the tzax’unu thrashing in agony.
Andy tried to swim towards her, but his lungs felt as if they were bursting. He felt a touch on his shoulders and turned to see Hart, who motioned him upwards. Andy shook his head, but Hart simply clasped him firmly about the waist and propelled him out of the water and into Jack’s waiting hands.
“We might as well start your education right now, Andy.” Jack said as he pulled him onto dry land. “Torchwood rule number one: only Jack gets to be reckless.”
Andy disregarded that piece of information with the contempt he felt it deserved. Still gasping for air, he blurted out, “Jack, there are mermaids in Wales.”
Jack roared with laughter. “Something like that, anyway. Here they come.”
Hart and Marie came out of the water dragging the body of the tzax’unu between them. Andy noticed that the webbing seemed to dissolve as Marie’s body met the air, and left her magnificently…nude. He snapped his fingers at Jack.
Still laughing, Jack took it off and handed it over. Andy wrapped it around Marie’s shoulders. She smiled and leaned against him, pressing her face into the crook of his neck.
“Andy, may I introduce… well, neither of us could really pronounce her name, so it will have to remain Marie, Keltheldra of the Khleil. Her people came through the Rift more than six hundred years ago.” Jack grinned at the couple. “Welcome to Torchwood, Andy. Welcome to Torchwood.”