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Trading Places - 5


 

Trading Places

 

 

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Chapter 5- Connor and Becker

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Hunting

 

When Becker awoke and stretched out his arm, he found the other side of the bed empty. Connor must have been gone for a while as the sheets were cool, he thought, getting up and pulling his jeans on. His boyfriend had been really shaken up by the body of that young woman and now Becker was worried. Usually, Connor would at least wake him when he left.

 

He heard the sounds of hushed voices from the kitchen and walked in to see Connor and Ianto sitting at the counter with coffee and a plate of toast each. When Becker got close enough, Connor leaned back on his stool and tilted his face up for a good-morning kiss.

 

“Did we wake you?” he asked. “You looked so peaceful I thought I’d let you sleep a bit longer.”

 

Becker took the seat next to Connor and snagged a piece of toast from his plate. Connor frowned.

 

“You know, I could make you some,” Ianto offered, but Becker shook his head and smiled.

 

“That’s OK, if I steal Connor’s then it’s already got jam on,” he replied.

 

Connor gave a martyred sigh. “See what I have to put up with?” he said to Ianto.

 

The other man laughed and reached for a mug from the work surface, pouring a coffee for Becker.

 

“So, how are you feeling this morning?” Becker asked Connor as they headed back to their room after breakfast to get dressed for the day.  

 

“I’m fine. It kind of seems like last night was a movie I watched or something,” he replied.

 

“Maybe you should stay at the Hub today…”

 

Connor cornered Becker by the door and leaned in. “You don’t have to worry about me all of the time,” he said. “I’ll be OK.”

 

Becker shifted their positions so that he had Connor pinned between his body and the wall.

 

“I only worry because I care,” he told Connor before closing the space between them and closing his lips over Connor’s.

 

Connor arms snaked around his boyfriend’s neck as he melted into the kiss. It was just a damn shame that they had to work today; he was so tempted to forget all about it and drag Becker back to bed instead. That, however, would piss Lester off. His rules had said ‘no inappropriate behaviour’ and ditching work to get naked with his boyfriend would certainly come under that heading. His life wouldn’t be worth living if Lester found out about that one.

 

Taking a last few moments to enjoy the feel of Becker’s lips on his, he broke the kiss.

 

“We should get moving,” he said, seeing his reluctance reflected in Becker’s expression.

 

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“Good morning, boys,” Jack called out chirpily as they came into the Hub. “Everyone sleep well?”

 

Becker glanced at Ianto. “Is he always this damn cheerful at the crack of dawn?”

 

“Unfortunately yes; he’s a morning person,” Ianto confirmed.

 

Jack waved them up to the conference room, indicating to the monitor he had been watching before they had come in.

 

“There was another attack,” he announced.

 

“And that’s a reason to be cheerful?”

 

“Yes, Ianto, it is.” Jack froze the CCTV footage on the image of a young man coming out of a bar, a blonde woman in an extremely short dress hanging onto his arm. The young man’s attention was fully on her, or rather, on her large breasts, squeezed into a low-cut top. “Meet David Bennett. This is the last footage I can find of him, right before he disappeared. They found him two days ago but because they pulled the body from the canal they didn’t automatically associate the skin discolouration and texture with aging as opposed to the fact he had been in the water.”

 

“Now, look at this,” he said, flipping the footage from the shopping centre the previous night.

 

The woman that Connor had last seen lying on the ground, aged about a hundred years, was on the screen, leaving the store where she worked. She had just started to walk away when a man called out to her and she turned, looking surprised. Her surprise turned to a huge smile as he began to walk with her.

 

“That guy there is Lucas Mitchell; he’s the assistant manager,” Jack told them. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t working that day and there are at least three people who can verify that.”

 

He looked around at his audience. “Look at them. What’s the common factor?”

 

Connor had the feeling that Jack already knew the answer but was determined to wait until one of them said it also.

 

“Well, the girl from the nightclub is pretty,” Ianto said. “If she was the lure then that explains how she got him to go with her. And the manager would be someone that Jessica trusted so she wouldn’t be suspicious.”

 

“Would it help if I told you that the night David disappeared he told the barman at the club that she,” Jack pointed to the screen, at the blonde in the tight dress, “was his dream girl. I’m betting that Jessica’s admiration of her assistant manager went beyond that of an employee.”

 

“So if we keep with Ianto’s theory of them being lured away,” Becker said, “then they each got what they most wanted or, rather, who they wanted.”

 

“Exactly. I think what we have here is a shapeshifter, a succubus to be exact. Some succubi take emotions, some take life; I think this one lives from other peoples’ youth.”

 

Connor frowned. “Do things like that really exist? Like, vampires and stuff?”

 

“Of course. What, you catch dinosaurs for a living and yet you find this hard to believe?” Jack teased. “The whole vampire thing has been blown way out of proportion, though. I mean, they don’t go around drinking blood and biting people. Well,” he added thoughtfully, smiling, “not through necessity. I knew this guy once whose bite could actually make you-”

 

“Jack,” Becker interrupted. “Too much information.”

 

Jack grinned and waggled his eyebrows suggestively. “I seem to remember that you don’t mind a little biting,” he said.

 

How did this conversation manage to get so far off topic? Connor wondered. He glanced at Becker from the corner of his eye and saw that his boyfriend was blushing slightly. That was so adorable, he thought, reaching out under the table to take his hand.

 

“Whilst I was checking the CCTV footage from the club I got to thinking; we should go out dancing,” Jack announced. “When this is sorted, I mean.”

 

“Dancing?”

 

“Yes. And if we should happen to end up in bed again then so be it.”

 

And there it was. Connor should have known that something as innocent as going dancing would have some kind of ulterior motive when it was being suggested by Jack. Jeez, the man was a flirt and a half! Still, looking surreptitiously around at Ianto and Becker, he saw that neither of them seemed in the least way inclined to reject the idea. Or the thinly disguised proposition.

 

“Definitely,” he said. “But first, I’m hoping you have a plan for how to catch this shapeshifter thing.”

 

“Spoil all of my fun, why don’t you?” Jack grumbled good-naturedly. “And I do have a plan, as it happens. Whilst you were all sleeping, I was busy.”

 

Ianto sighed. “I offered to come back and help but you told me not to,” he pointed out.

 

“That’s because you needed to get some rest.”

 

“And you didn’t?”

 

Jack grinned. “You know I don’t sleep. Anyway, I ran a scan of Jessica’s body and I found something. There are faint traces of a chemical on her skin, more concentrated around her lips; I think it was using some kind of touch-based pheromone to keep its victims’ from realising exactly what it was doing to them.”

 

“But it was already impersonating exactly the person they wanted to be with,” Becker said. “Why would it need to drug them as well?”

 

“Because it didn’t need them struggling or fighting back as it was taking what it wanted.”

 

That made sense, Connor thought, and although it was useful, it still didn’t answer his earlier question.

 

“So, how exactly are we going to track this thing, or catch it?” he asked.

 

“I was getting to that,” Jack told him. “It appeared at the same time each night, within a mile of each other, and it always coincided with a minute spike in rift activity. I think it draws power from the rift to enable it to change forms.”

 

“So we wait for the spike in the rift energy and that tells us where it is,” Ianto summarised. “Then what? It could look like anyone by that point.”

 

--------

 

He should have been suspicious when he saw the gleam in Jack’s eye but it didn’t occur to him to be. Which was why, at 10pm that night, Connor found himself standing in the end of a dark side street in the middle of the city. He had been volunteered as bait because his age fit the profile of the people the shapeshifter was targeting. And he hadn’t managed to think of an excuse why it shouldn’t be him quick enough when Jack had suggested it.

 

He and Becker had been kitted out, Ianto equipping them both tiny in-ear transceivers and pistols that could be easily hidden inside their clothing. Jack had also sprayed Connor with a synthesised pheromone that he said would draw the shapeshifter to them.

 

“We’ll be close by and ready to move in as soon as it appears,” Jack promised. “All you have to do is hang around and look tasty.”

 

Connor had also been provided with a small flat disc of metal that was about the size of a mini-disc. On the top were three little blue lights that blinked on and off, positioned around a tiny stone set into the centre.

 

“This is a portable forcefield,” Jack told him. “We confiscated them a few years back from a visitor. All you have to do is to press the centre stone and slide it under the target. It takes five seconds to activate from the time you press the button so you have to be quick.”

 

Half an hour later and Connor was convinced that this had been a waste of time. He was bored, cold, and hungry and was completely sick of standing here. And if one more person gave him a funny look he was going to leave. So far, he’d been propositioned twice from people thinking he was working, and not for Torchwood. It appeared that Jack had chosen the local red-light district as the location for their trap.

 

“Not funny, guys,” he had protested via the transceiver after he had managed to deter the second man. He could hear the laughter in Jack’s voice as he reminded Connor that they were supposed to have radio silence. Oh, yeah, they were probably pissing themselves laughing as they watched from their hiding places.

 

Just wait until Abby heard about this- no matter how embarrassing it was, he knew he’d still tell her. She was his best friend and, besides, Becker would tell her if he didn’t. He made a mental note to call her and see how things were going with Gwen. He could check up on Sid and Nancy as well; he was beginning to miss his pets.

 

Connor moved to lean on the wall of the building, so that he could see the main street as well, watching the comings and goings of the various other people out. There were very few clubbers around here, with most of the major nightclubs and pubs a couple of streets away, but there were still a few people on the corner. As he watched them, he found himself wondering if he really looked as though he were touting for business; he wasn’t dressed like they were, or using the same provocative poses. Yet he was still being approached so he figured he must be doing something.

 

He heard the sound of footsteps coming from the side street and turned to look, half fearing that it would be a mugger. The way his night was going that would be likely. It wasn’t, but he almost wished that it had been instead of being the very creature they had come out hunting for. The most disturbing thing, to him, was the guise it had taken.

 

“Hello, Connor.”

 

It even had her voice perfect.

 

“Abby?”

 

He knew it wasn’t her, because the real Abby was back home. Still, it was creepy to see the shapeshifter in her form.

 

“Aren’t you pleased to see me?” she asked. She reached out and stroked a small hand down his chest, looking up at him through kohl-rimmed eyes. She was wearing an outfit he knew well, Abby’s favourite little tartan skirt and black leggings, a large patterned black t-shirt over the top. When she touched him, it was like the version of Abby he knew and the one before him blurred a little. He should be worried about something but he couldn’t quite grasp onto what that was. It felt nice, her touch- No. That was its influence speaking, not Connor. Once that illusion had been broken, he could think clearly again. As fake Abby’s hand teased the back of his neck, trying to draw him down for a kiss, he stepped back, away from her. If he let her kiss him, he got the feeling that he wouldn’t be able to break the illusion.

 

Fake Abby looked confused, a frown creasing her forehead as she watched him and he realised that she was reading his thoughts, trying to work out what was wrong. He felt in his pocket for the disc, feeling across the surface to find the stone in the centre. Trying to keep all thoughts of what he was doing out of his head, he pictured Becker. Remembered last Saturday when they had gone out to dinner and then walked home, just enjoying the night. They had walked hand in hand and kissed under the stars.

 

In the shadows, he saw movement and knew that it was the others, waiting. At present, the shapeshifter wasn’t a danger to him –it was merely confused- and he could trap it before it realised that it was outnumbered.

 

Moving quickly he slid the disc across the ground and seconds later there was a flare of purple light.

 

“Connor?”

 

Becker came to stand beside him as Jack and Ianto took positions on either side of them.

 

“You might as well give it up,” Connor told the shapeshifter. “I know you aren’t Abby; we know what you really are.”

 

“But I can be her,” it said. “Your thoughts were of her, you care for her.”

 

“Is there something you’d like to tell me, Connor?” Becker asked, amused, as he looked over the fake Abby who was still flirting with Connor even whilst trapped. “After all, it does become the person we most want it to be…”

 

“No. I don’t know- Oh my God, I was thinking that I was going to phone Abby when I got in tonight and it must have picked up on that.”

 

Connor could see it trying to work out where it had gone wrong and, in a way, he felt sorry for it. It was like a child trying to understand.

 

“Take another look,” he told it.

 

The shapeshifter studied him for a moment and then it changed. It seemed to flicker, like a disrupted television signal, and suddenly Becker was standing in the forcefield. The real Becker shuddered beside him.

 

“OK, that’s weird, seeing it being me.”

 

Jack glared at the shapeshifter. “Drop the projection,” he told it, and it did. The next time Connor looked, the fake Becker was gone and in his place stood a humanoid creature that stood at around seven feet tall. Its facial features were androgynous and yet stunningly beautiful in an ethereal kind of way.

 

“Release me,” it said in a breathy yet commanding tone. It was like the touch, Connor thought, as the notion of going over and deactivating the forcefield flitted briefly through his mind before he remembered he shouldn’t.

 

“I can’t do that,” Jack told it, seemingly unaffected by its influence. “You killed two people.”

 

“They were necessary. I needed to live.”

 

“Well, here you can’t take lives no matter what your reason,” Jack said.

 

The shapeshifter’s expression turned to a snarl. “I gave them purpose! They had so much energy, so much youth, yet they wasted it pining away for what they could never have. I gave them what they wanted and took what I needed in return. I deserved it more than they did.”

 

“And what about me?” Connor asked. “You saw into my thoughts, you’ve seen what I do on a daily basis; do you think I wasted my energy and deserved to have that taken from me?”

 

The creature looked confused again as though not sure what to make of the question. It didn’t seem to comprehend that there were some things that it wasn’t entitled to just take.

 

-------

 

By the time they had got the shapeshifter to a holding cell and called for it to be extracted and moved to the main Torchwood detention centre in the morning, it was late.

 

“I’m not tired,” Connor announced. He glanced around at the others. “But I could do with a drink.”

 

Jack picked his coat up and put it back on. “Come on then. I know this great little bar, open 24 hours a day…”

 

 

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