amberfocus: (Leap of Faith Icon--Do Not Take)
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Title: Leap of Faith
Author: [ profile] amberfocus
Characters/Pairings: John Smith (alt!Nine)/Rose Tyler, Toshiko Sato, Jake Simmonds, Mickey Smith, Ianto Jones, Jackie Tyler/Pete Tyler, Tony Tyler, various original characters.
Genre: Romance, Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Fluff
Rating: Adult
Betas: [ profile] amyo67
Summary: Hiding from the Family of Blood, the alt!Ninth Doctor turns himself into John Smith via the chameleon arch and with his companion Toshiko Sato, takes a job at Torchwood. He clashes with everyone he meets and Rose Tyler, the beautiful young director of Torchwood Field Operative Training and the daughter of his boss, is no exception. AU after season 2.

Previous Chapters:

Chapter Thirty-Six: Requests for Help

Delilah closed her eyes and took in a few deep, restorative breaths. She was normally a very controlled woman, but the events of the day so far had thrown her off balance. She’d had a right royal freak out on the phone with Pete after Martha had brought up the Cybus doctor. She’d lost Owen, who despite his snarky tendencies was a dear friend, and a man she relied on heavily at work, because he could always get things done. She’d almost lost her friend and long-time colleague Gabriel to the most intense miniature battle she’d ever witnessed. Her boss’s daughter had almost died under her watch. Marcie had died and been revived.

She was five agents short, three of them the scientists she needed, with a young child underfoot and a baby coming, and for a moment she didn’t know what to do. She let herself feel everything for five seconds and then she went into action. “Okay, Martha, go get Mayumi out of that scanner and have her watch Kathlyn and Gabriel. Then Martha, go to Jane.”

“I’m not a mid-wife,” Martha protested.

“Have you delivered babies before?”

“Well, yes, but not on purpose! And that was a few years ago.”

“Just do your best.”

Martha nodded and headed on her way.

Delilah took a deep breath. “Mickey, call John and tell him to get in here with Rose. Rose is well enough to watch the others and then Mayumi might be able to help us with the testing if she still remembers the science. It’ll just have to be enough time. Then collect that blue residue and make sure it’s contained. Have John test it when he gets here. I’m going to Jane.”

Delilah ran down the hall and up the stairs, thumbing on her phone, and calling Fred on the way to Jane’s office.


“Your wife’s in labor. Can you get to Torchwood immediately?” she asked.

“Yes, of course!” said Fred excitedly. “But it’s my day off. I have Joshua. Can I bring him? I know you don’t like—.”

“Yes, what’s one more?” she asked exasperatedly. “Just get here fast!”

“What about our mid-wife?”

“I can’t have her in Torchwood and I don’t think there’s going to be time to move Jane. We have a doctor with her. Just come.”

She didn’t wait for a reply as she climbed the second set of stairs. She hung up on him and called Pete. “Delilah, I’m not going to talk about this further—.”

“No,” she said, cutting him off. “We need help, immediately. We need agents.”

“How many?”

“Four, five, whatever you can send me. And a couple of scientists, ones who can run medical tests. We’ve got to get more help in the lab.”

“What’s going on?” he demanded.

“I don’t have time to talk! Jane’s having her baby. I have to go. Just send us people and I’ll explain it later.” She took another deep breath, sure that she was going to regret what she said next. “And I need an office manager. With Jane out of commission I’ve got to have someone who can help with the day to day running of this place.”

“Who was going to take over for Jane during her maternity leave?”

“Someone from your temp pool.” Delilah hit the last stair and heard Jane groan. “I just need someone with massive organizational skills right now.” Jane cried out again. “I’ve got to go, Pete.”

“I’ll see what I can do,” he said.

Delilah didn’t bother to say good-bye. She threw her phone down on Jane’s desk and skidded to a stop next to Jane, who was on the floor, doubled over with pain.

“I’m here, Jane,” said Delilah.

“It’s too fast,” said Jane. “The contrac—oooh ow ow ow ow ow—contractions are—gaaaah—too fast.”

“Fred’s on his way!” she said kneeling down. “Martha will be up in a minute. “What can I do to help?”

“Painkillers!” yelled Jane.

“I don’t think we have anything for childbirth in the infirmary.”

“Aaaaahhh,” moaned Jane. “Crisp,” she panted, “crisp, Crispini—de-device.” She bit down on her lip. “Vault 28B!”

“I’m here,” said Martha entering the room slightly breathless. Her arms were full of towels which she put down on Jane’s desk. She shook out two and placed them down on the seat of the overstuffed rocking chair. “Let’s get her up.”

“I don’t think—I don’t—unghhh—think I can,” said Jane.

“We’ll go between contractions,” Martha said.

“Between?” shouted Jane. “There’s—owwww—no—daammmn—between!”

Martha glanced at her watch and then back at Jane’s face. When the pain eased for just a few seconds Martha said, “Now!” She and Delilah bodily picked Jane up and got her into the chair while Jane questioned the parentage of both women. Martha almost laughed at the woman’s inventiveness and despite the stress of the situation Delilah cracked a smile.

In a no-nonsense manner Martha covered Jane with a towel and removed the clothing that would be an impediment to the delivery process. “I need to do an exam,” Martha told her as contractions ripped through her again.

“Painkiller!” Jane insisted before it became too hard to make words again.

“I have to examine you first. If you’re too far along—.”

“NOW!” roared Jane.

“No, not now,” Martha said firmly. She placed a hand on Jane’s stomach. As soon as the ripples paused she flipped up the towel and did a quick exam. “You’re only 5 cm dilated and 40
% effaced,” Martha said. “It’s still safe to use a pain blocker.”

“I’ll go get the Crispini device,” Delilah said and took off as fast as she could and headed down to the vault. She’d forgotten they’d used it before when Jane’s delivery of Joshua had had complications.

“28B, 28B,” she muttered as she put in the password for the main vault and faced all of the little locked compartments inside. She brushed the dust off the keypad screen, punched in the secondary password, inserted her key, turned it, and opened 28B. She grabbed the small triangular device, but something gave her pause. Quickly she scanned the remaining compartments. She frowned as she noticed that compartment 27B had no dust on the little screen above it.

With trepidation she punched the password into 27B and turned the key. It was empty. Anger flared in her. Someone had been in the vault without her permission. Well, she’d have to deal with that later. Right now, she could only hope that what had been taken wasn’t dangerous to humanity. Tamping down on her annoyance she returned to Jane and Martha.

“What is that?” Martha asked.

“It’s safe,” said Delilah. “And I know how it works, but I don’t know why it works. That was Owen’s department and he’s not here.”

“Are you sure it won’t harm the baby?” Martha asked.

“Jane used it when Joshua was born. It’s fine.”

Delilah activated the device and set it in the middle of Jane’s forehead. A red light began flashing and quickly turned blue. Within seconds the woman’s moaning had ceased and she took in deep, pain free breaths. And the sense of everything happening all at once abruptly ended.

The buzzer at the door of the travel agency dinged. “That’ll be Fred,” Delilah said. “I’ll go and let him in.”

She hurried out of the room and down the hall to the airlock door, unfastening it and walking through the darkened fake business front, to the locked front door. They hadn’t had the staff to man the desk or keep the door open. Fred stood there waiting patiently holding his toddler. She let him in.

“Am I in time?” the man asked cheerfully, while Joshua pulled at his father’s dark blond locks.

“Yes. And Jane’s fine. Just a little over halfway there.”

“Oh, there’s time to take her to the birth center then,” he said. “I thought for sure this would be the second child born here.”

“I don’t think it’s wise to move her,” Delilah said. “She was in a lot of pain. Dr. Jones is managing it, but we can’t take the Crispini device off the premises.”

“I can take her without it,” Fred said.

“Good luck with that. Your wife would make sure you never fathered any more children if you even tried to take it from her at this point. Her contractions are bad.”

“We were planning to stop with two anyway,” Fred cracked. Delilah shot him a look, one he remembered from their days of working together. “Okay, okay, we won’t move her,” he said.

Delilah nodded curtly and led Fred to Jane’s office where the now peaceful woman rested with her eyes closed.

“How is she?” Fred asked Martha. Jane’s eyes opened.

“Better now,” Jane said.

“Hi, Mummy,” said Joshua. “Baby come now?”

“Soon, love.”

“I’ve got to go check on Mickey and Mayumi,” she said to Martha. “Will you be okay here?”

“Everything’s under control,” Martha said.

“Good.” Delilah nodded once and turned on her heel.

The phone rang insistently. It had gone to voice mail three times and was starting again. Rose moved to answer it. “Don’t,” John said in a pleading tone. “It’s probably just your mother.”

“No, it’s not. Mum’s the Darth Vader theme. That’s Fighter. It’s Mickey’s ring tone. It’s got to be important if he’s leaving messages.”

“We’re on leave.”

“Yeah, but only for another 11 hours. I need to find out what he wants.”


Rose gave him a wicked grin. “You can stay where you are, John. Just don’t go as fast so I can talk.”

John slowed his current activity to a snail’s pace as Rose reached again for the phone. She could just barely grab it without making John get off her. “Hello?” she said, trying not to breathe too hard into the phone at John’s measured thrusts.

“About time,” said Mickey.

“What’s up, Mickey?”

“You didn’t even listen to the messages? We’re in crisis mode. Delilah needs the pair of you to get in here now.”

“What? I’m not supposed to be back on duty for another 11 hours,” Rose said.

“Well, you won’t be on duty as much as baby-sitting,” Mickey told her. “We need John to run some tests and we need to free up Mayumi, but someone has to watch Marcie. She died.”

“Oh, no,” Rose began, but Mickey continued.

“But we got her back. Gabe had some issues so he’s in healing coma land again. Owen’s daughter Kathlyn is here and Jane’s having her baby, so Martha is with her. Mayumi might be able to help us, under John’s guidance, but the others can’t be left alone.”

“All right, we’ll be there in a bit,” Rose said.

“You need to come in now.”

“Soon,” Rose said. She hung up and John began moving a little faster inside her. She quickly relayed to him what she’d been told, ending up with, “We need to get in there. And I need to shower first. You, too. We smell like sex.”

“We ought to finish having it,” John said. “Or we won’t have clear minds going into the next several hours.” He still hadn’t stopped his movements.

Rose laughed. “We’ve been having it all day long. I don’t think we have the time. It won’t kill you to not come once.”

“Believe me, I can finish in about two more minutes. I’m close.”

Rose smiled. “All right, but make it quick. And you’ll owe me later.”

“Oh, I’ll pay you back just fine,” he said with a growl. “And you’ll love every minute of it.”

Rose giggled then gasped as John picked up the pace so fast he took her breath away. One minute and 27 seconds later he came inside her, his body relaxing from all its tension. She pulled him down close and kissed him deeply, then broke it off.

“All right you, off,” she said.

“Just like that?”

“Just like that.”

“Or just like this.” He nibbled on her ear, nuzzled her neck, and with a contented sigh, rolled off her. “You sure you don’t want an orgasm?”

“It’d take too long. Five minute showers and you go to your own. If we go in together I’m sure you’ll wear my resistance down,” Rose said.

“Bossy. You sure you can manage on your own?” he asked. “I promise I’ll behave myself.” His voice was dark and sexy and very clearly said he absolutely would not.

“Yeah, I feel good as new. The only place I feel weak is in the knees and that’s only because you’re looking at me like you’re starving and I’m the main course,” Rose said. “Can you please get up off that bed? You lying there like that makes me want to climb right on top of you.”

“So do it.”

“John!” Rose protested.

“You said we’d be there in a bit. Not immediately,” he reasoned. He stood up and Rose couldn’t take her eyes off him.

“Damn, you’re gorgeous,” she said.

“Not like you,” he said. He wrapped her in one arm and leant in for another kiss. Rose didn’t even offer token resistance as his tongue swept into her mouth. His free hand made its way over her breast, tweaking the nipple, then sliding to her waist, over her hip, and towards her sex. His fingers dipped between her folds, his thumb stroking her clit and his first two fingers making their way inside her as she widened her stance and groaned.

He moved in and out of her slowly. He broke the kiss, moving his mouth to her neck. “You sure you don’t want to come first? You’re soaking.”

Rose didn’t speak. She wasn’t sure she could form words. The pleasure he was giving her was too intense. He grazed his teeth over her shoulder and his free hand began to play with her breast again, cupping, stroking, and tweaking the nipple.

“But if you really, really want to go take that lonely shower,” he teased, “I could stop.” And he stilled his fingers within her. Rose whimpered. “Or I could go on.” He kissed the pulse point in her neck. “Your choice, Rose Tyler.” He moved his hand and stopped again.

“You’re evil,” Rose managed, squirming against his hand.

“Is that a yes?” he stroked again. “Or is that a no?” He stilled.

“Yes, damn it!” she shouted.

He stopped teasing then, taking her mouth and speeding the strokes of his thumb against her pleasure center. Rose was shocked when just a minute later she began to spasm, her inner walls clamping down hard on his fingers as she flew into orgasm. It was long and hard and she wasn’t sure if it was the excitement of knowing she should be doing something else, knowing that people were waiting on her while she took the time, the novelty of John fingering her while she stood up, or just that he was that good.

She fell against him as she really did go weak in the knees and found herself panting. “Oh, John.”

“Got skills, me,” he said brashly.

“You’ll get no argument from me.” She kissed his chest. “And yeah, I think I’m going to need help with that shower.”

“Jake?” Ianto Jones poked his head into Jake’s office. “Pete wants to talk to us.”

“Is Rose okay?”

“First thing I asked. She’s fine.”

“What’s he want, then?”

“He wasn’t forthcoming. He just said to collect you and meet him in five minutes. Which was two minutes ago.”

Jake got up and the two men made their way to the lift. They made small talk, but Jake’s mind wasn’t on it. He was never really quite comfortable around Pete Tyler. As one of the few people that knew the secret of how Rose, Jackie, and Mickey had come to this universe, Pete had always considered Jake a wild card.

Ianto had been trusted immediately, having worked for Torchwood since before the Cyber War, but Jake had not been, despite Rose and Mickey both vouching for him. With time their work relationship had smoothed out, and Jake had never been held back from promotions or prominent assignments, but it never felt quite right.

“Your head’s not here today,” Ianto said at last.

“Yeah, sorry. I didn’t sleep well last night.”

The lift opened and they were greeted by Pete’s receptionist. “Afternoon boys. He said for you to go right in.”

Jake held back just enough that Ianto was the one who knocked on the door and opened it at Pete’s summons to come in.

Pete was not sitting at the desk, but was pacing back and forth in front of the windows that lined his office walls. Ianto settled into a chair and Jake followed suit. Pete continued to pace for one more moment then sat down behind his desk.

“May I ask what’s wrong, sir?”

“Stuff is going to hell in Cardiff.”

“I thought Rose was okay,” Ianto said.

“She is. I mean, mostly she is. But Gabe is down, too, Jane is having her baby, and Cardiff needs help. Delilah has asked for two scientists and four or five agents.”

“We don’t have four or five agents to spare,” Jake protested. “Most of them are still recovering from the incident with those dragon things. Shelle is still on maternity leave for a week and even if she wasn’t, she’s requested to be moved to admin now that she has a child.”

Pete frowned. “Are any of the new recruits ready?”

“In a week? Are you crazy?” Jake asked.

“Jake,” Ianto said warningly. “No, sir. None of the recruits are field ready. But if I might suggest, Ian McFarland is ready to be promoted in the science division. His internship is ending this week. And there’s a woman doctor, Wendy or Wanda something…” He trailed off and glanced at Jake.

“You mean Willa Andrews? The robotics specialist?”

“Yes, Willa Andrews,” Ianto considered. “She minored in biochem and has just completed all the basic field training. Not to the level for a field agent, but she’s got a good head in an emergency and she can handle her weapons.”

“That’s the scientists, which seems to be the biggest need, but I should send her someone.”

“I could go,” said Jake. “I’ve got nothing pressing, other than training and Ianto can take that over in a pinch.”

“There’re no other agents to be spared?” Pete asked.

“It’s been a while, since I’ve been in the field,” Ianto said, “but if push comes to shove—.”

“No,” Pete said. “You’re needed here. We’d fall apart without you. And someone has to be training the newbies or it’ll be even longer before we have more active agents. Jake can do the work of two field agents. He usually does.” Jake was surprised that Pete noticed. “Isn’t there one more agent we can bring in off medical leave?”

“Not for another week,” Jake said. “Dr. Varley won’t clear them.”

“Okay, what about admin? Someone was scheduled to go down when Jane was due to have the baby. Can they go early?”

“We’ve been having trouble with the temp pool,” said Ianto. “That hiring freeze coupled with the wage freeze has hindered us, quite frankly, sir. The girl who was going to go to Cardiff has quit.”

“What about your receptionist?” Jake suggested. “She has the highest level of clearance and great organizational skills.”

“No, Agnes is needed here almost as badly as Ianto.”

“I have a suggestion, sir,” Ianto said.

“Well, let’s have it.”

“Send your wife.”


“She can organize with the best of them, she already has clearance and knows about alien stuff, and in a pinch, she could run the whole thing,” Ianto said. “She runs that charity and does all those fundraisers.”

“But Rose would never forgive you,” Jake said. “She’s still on the outs with her mum.”

Pete thought for a minute. “I can’t see any other option for admin. Hold on.” He pushed the button on the intercom.


“Agnes, get Jackie on the phone, please.”

“Yes, sir.”

He looked back at the men. “Think men. Anyone else at all we can spare?”

“Oh,” said Jake, an idea occurring to him. “What about UNIT? For field agent help, I mean. Dr. Jones is already there helping. Maybe the Brig would send someone else in.”

“I don’t know. It was hard enough to get him to release her to us.”

“But he did. UNIT is playing nice right now. We should take advantage of it,” Jake said. “I might do the work of two agents, but I certainly can’t do the work of four or five.”

Finally Pete agreed. “All right. I’ll call him. Jake, I want you down there as soon as possible. Ianto send up the paper work for McFarland’s promotion and inform him and Dr. Andrews they’ll be leaving for Cardiff in the morning.”

“Very good, sir.”

“With a pot of your coffee.”

“Yes, sir.”

The intercom box buzzed. “Yes, Agnes?”

“Your wife’s on line three.”

“Thank you.” He waved the men out of the room as he picked up the phone. “Jackie, love, fancy a trip to Cardiff?”

“Rose is going to kill you for suggesting that,” Jake said as they left Pete’s office.

“Let’s just not tell her whose idea it was.”

“Deal, if I get five years of IC-5 rights,” Jake bargained.

“IC-5? You can have IC-7 for the rest of your life.”

“My lips are sealed.”

Delilah stopped at the lab, but it was deserted. She headed to check on Gabe, Mayumi, and the children. Mickey was there. “Everything’s fine,” he said. “The blue stuff has been contained.”

“Marcie’s vitals are fluctuating and Gabriel seems stable,” Mayumi said. “I’m concerned with myself, though.”

“Why? What’s wrong?” Delilah asked as she walked over to the baby. The infant was hooked up to a monitor and the readout was indeed all over the place.

“I feel like my body is struggling not to regress again,” Mayumi said. “I know I’ve been stable for a while now. I’ve had a chance to look over my notes. I have the beginning symptoms, but it’s like it’s stalled.”

“Okay, then, Mickey you best stay here until Rose gets here. We can’t risk Mayumi changing on her own if Marcie might flat line again. Speaking of Rose, shouldn’t she and John be here by now? It’s been an hour.”

“I called her a few minutes ago. She and John stopped to pick up food for everyone and are on their way. She said it’s probably been hours since anyone ate anything,” he said.

“She’d be right.”

“Is there anything I can do from here?”

“Not really. But when they get here, start searching the internet for leads on Tosh and Owen. Check the tabloids, call UNIT, and call all of the space agencies again. And then hack into their servers and search some more. Jane was going to, but obviously can’t now.”

“How’s she doing?”

“Martha said the baby will probably be here within the hour,” Delilah said. “I better get back to her. Make sure John and Rose come check in when they get here.”

“I will,” Mickey said.

Delilah left and he pulled out his phone to call Jake. “I’m on my way,” is how Jake answered the phone.

“Just you?”

“Just me tonight. The others will come tomorrow.”

“How many?”

“Right now, just two scientists and me,” Jake said.

“No agents?”

“None to spare. Pete’s calling UNIT for backup.”

“Who are the squints?”

“Dr. Andrews and Ian McFarland,” Jake said.

“Ian? You sure he won’t quit if he knows he has to work with John and Rose?” Mickey asked. “He’s terrified of both of them.”

“He’ll have to get over it,” Jake said. “Besides, Willa is a champion peace maker. They’ll be fine.”

“And maybe John and Rose will have mellowed now that they’ve done the deed.”

“What? When’d that happen?”

“Within the last two days,” Mickey said.

“And you’re okay with that?” Jake said.

“I just want Rose to be happy. That’s all I’ve wanted since she got stuck here.”

“Not all.”

“I’m over that, Jake,” Mickey said.

“You sure?”

“I am. What’s your ETA?” Mickey asked changing the subject.

“About 2 hours. I better go. The traffic is getting crazy and I need to focus.”

They said their good-byes. Mickey hung up and got onto the computer. If there was a lead anywhere he could hack, he’d find it.

Owen and Toshiko crept through the corridors, listening at doors before opening them to scan the room’s contents. After half an hour of looking for a computer and coming up empty, they heard voices around a corner and ducked into what appeared to be a supply cupboard, but held a door at its far end. There was a small window near the top.

“Boost me up,” Toshiko said.

Owen laced his hands together and Tosh stepped into them with one foot. “Can you see anything?” he asked.

“It’s dim, but I think it’s a server room,” she said excitement creeping into her voice. “I don’t see anyone in there. Let me down.”

He lowered her to the floor and she stumbled as her feet found less than firm footing on the floor. He steadied her, his hand brushing against her side, before firmly gripping her waist. Her breath hitched as he slid his hand away, the movement almost like being caressed by a lover. She could still feel the heat from it. She shook her head. There wasn’t time for school girl tingles.

She reached out to open the door. It was locked. “I can’t believe this,” she grumbled. “Almost every other door in this place is wide open, like they don’t care about security at all. The one place we really need to get into is locked.”

“And no keypad, either,” he said. “Figures they’d use an actual lock and key on this door.”

“You any good at picking that type of lock?” she asked.

“I can try, but it’s not my forte, no.”

“I don’t get their attitudes about security at all,” she said, as Owen removed a set of lock picks from his field vest. She was starting to think the thing used Time Lord technology. “You have everything in there, don’t you?” she asked.

“I’ve had to be a jack of all trades,” he said, “what with Torchwood Cardiff being so understaffed all the time. I’ve adapted the vest to fit everything in it I think I might possibly ever need. It comes in handy.”

He knelt down in front of the door and focused on the lock, ruffling his hair so it stood up on end before looking at his kit and selecting two picks. Tosh had to stifle the sudden urge to run her fingers through his hair. “What is wrong with me?” she muttered.

“Come again?” he asked.

“Sorry, just mumbling,” she said. She did not like where this attraction was going. She had no time for it. They were in what might be a life and death situation and she needed to focus, not be distracted by Owen’s slender fingers, which were really quite beautiful for a man’s.

“Did you ever play the piano?” she asked abruptly.

“What? Why?”

“Your fingers are quite dexterous.”

“The clarinet, actually,” he said. “And then the oboe and bassoon. My instrument got bigger as I got older.” He shot her a cheeky grin. “So my fingers aren’t the only things about me that are dexterous.”

Toshiko felt heat rushing to her face and upper chest. “That’s why you’re such a good kisser.” Did she say that out loud? Oh, dear, she had. Why did the floor never open up and swallow you when you wanted it to?

“You think I’m a good kisser.” It wasn’t a question and she could hear the laughter in his sing-song response. “I don’t blame you. I know what I’m good at. And any time you want to do it again…” She went from attraction to irritation immediately. He had to have known that. She’d taken his hand. Was he playing her after all that talk about giving him six months to change her mind? Why couldn’t she make up her stupid mind what she wanted?

He sat back on his heels. “That’s not working.” He put the picks back and removed two different ones. “I’ll try these.”

He inserted the new picks and began feeling for the tumblers. “I thought you were amazing, by the way. Quite knocked me out of my socks.” Toshiko’s irritation started to fade and vanished with his next words. “And that’s a rarity, these days. You’re unique, Tosh, in all the best possible ways. You know, except the one of not really being open to dating me.”


“Or even just shagging. I’d do with that, as well, but as you said—.”

“It’d get serious. Even if it started as just shagging,” Tosh said. “That’s who I am. I don’t sleep with someone if I don’t see potential down the road.”

“And you see no potential with me?” He looked hurt.

“I see too much potential with you!” Tosh said, irrationally angry again. “And I’m not going to start something that I’m not prepared to finish. I’m not going to be like all the generations of women before me that put their lives on hold for a man or a child—.”

“Whoa, wait a minute, Toshiko. No one is asking you to be a mother to my kid.” Now he sounded angry and had stopped trying to pick the lock.

“I didn’t mean—.”

“Kathlyn has me and I do a damn fine job as a father. I don’t expect anyone to fill the role of parent for me. Not a bedmate and not a girlfriend. Certainly not someone I just met.”

“Yet, you want to shag someone you just met,” she pointed out.

“I don’t want to shag you!”

“What? You just said—.”

“I mean I do, but I’d take that if that’s all I could get. I want to know you, Tosh, but I don’t want you to have a relationship with my daughter. Not without a lot of time and not without it being something that was going to work out for us. She doesn’t need to get attached to someone and lose them. I can cope with it, that’s what I do, but I will protect my child over everything in this world, including this, whatever it is.”


“There have been very few people in my life that I have bothered take an interest in and for some bloody reason I thought there was something here. If I’m fooling myself, if I’m wrong, just say so.”

“I don’t know if you’re wrong!” she said when he finally stopped talking. “I don’t know what I feel.”

He went back to fiddling with the lock. “I wouldn’t try to stop you, you know.”

“Stop me from what?”

“Living your life. Travelling. Whatever you need to do. You could have a relationship with me and still gallivant around the world. There’s texting, email, video chatting, and hell, letters. No one said that it meant being together 24/7. I’m not possessive, Tosh. And I’m not close-minded,” Owen said.

“I’m not close-minded.”

The lock clicked. “I got it,” he said triumphantly.

“I’m not,” she repeated as he stood up. He just looked at her. “What I really am is afraid.”

“Of me?” he looked shocked.

“No,” she said. She sought the words to put her mixed feelings into words. “No, not of you. Of letting myself settle.” She had surprised even herself with those words.

“Then don’t,” he said. His eyes had gone dark and his mouth had gone hard. She felt him pulling away and she didn’t want him to.

“But I think I want to,” she said quietly. “And I’m afraid if I do, I’ll lose myself.”

He softened. She could see it starting at the edges of his mouth and then moving through his body, removing the hard rigidity that had formed in all the lines of his torso when they’d started arguing. “Toshiko Sato, if you ever start to lose yourself for me, I promise I’ll find you.”

Tosh felt tears well up in her eyes and fought them back hard as her heart leapt at his words. A lump formed in her throat and it was all she could do not to fling herself at him. Instead she held herself in check and gave a single nod of her head. “Okay,” she said. “Okay, Owen. We can try to see if this leads to anything.”

He nodded back. “Now let’s get to work.”

He opened the door to the server room and they set out in search of an interface.

Chapter 37:
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