Typical Toshiko, she’d quibbled why they’d only rated her nine out of ten for ‘Dress Sense’.

‘You’re making a fuss about nothing, anyway,’ she said. ‘I’ve only got a few glass cuts on my face. You should have seen what happened to Jack.’

‘Get Well Soon cards are wasted on Jack,’ noted Owen.

‘Perhaps we should get him a Get Well Slowly card,’ Ianto said. He and Gwen had just clattered in through the cog-wheel door, returning from their hunt for the guerrilla gorilla. ‘He might take a bit of time off.’

‘Careful, Ianto.’ Gwen patted him on the shoulder. ‘You’re starting to sound like Rhys. I’m just off the phone from him, and he’s all “you’re late again, Gwen”. No thank you for warning him to stay away from the Stadium, mind.’

‘Was he angry about missing the match?’ asked Ianto.

‘Angrier that Banana got pissed in the City Arms and had to be carried home.’

Jack hung back quietly, unnoticed. He enjoyed the easy confidence that his team had together, friendship and trust forged in combat against whatever the Rift could throw at them. Sometimes he just liked to watch them like this, so proud of their achievements.

He left them in the Hub celebrating, and slipped away for his appointment in town. David Brigstocke was already sitting at a table in the window of Casa Celi when Jack arrived.

‘My first instinct was that this would be a trick.’ Brigstocke tried to sound nonchalant, but Jack could practically hear his heart hammering the inside of his tweed jacket. Did the guy have nothing else in his wardrobe? ‘Are you humouring me, Jack?’

Jack pushed aside a red napkin containing cutlery so that he could lean on the table. ‘Stand you up? Never.’

Brigstocke put his hand into his jacket pocket.

‘No recording, please,’ said Jack.

‘Would there be any point?’

Jack shook his head very slightly. ‘But tonight, I’m trusting you. Let’s just talk.’

Brigstocke brought his hand back out again, and folded it over the other on the metal table. ‘I notice that you walked here.’

‘Exercise is how I retain these irresistible good looks.’

‘Something more than that, I think.’ Brigstocke’s eyes glittered. ‘Your foot’s completely healed. Impossibly fast, wouldn’t you say? And as for the injuries you sustained in the Stadium…’

Jack beckoned the waiter over and ordered a glass of iced water for himself and a Morreti beer for Brigstocke.

‘Captain Hark-a-ness!’ declared the waiter. ‘And-a what-a else can I get-a for you?’

Jack grinned and sent him on his way. He knew that Enrico Celi was a Welsh Italian with a natural South Wales accent. ‘Save it for the punters, Rico,’ he laughed.

Rico winked, and returned to a large table at the rear of the cafe. A small group of Italians from the international were trying to enjoy themselves. Depending on the result, Rico had been planning either a celebration or a wake, but the match postponement had dampened enthusiasm. A smaller number had turned up than he’d expected. Jack studied them across the room as they gazed sullenly at their gnocchi. All of them had the dark hair and tan that made even the meanest of features look attractive. Well, compared to the Welsh anyway, thought Jack as one drunk hammered on the front window while staggering past.

Which brought his attention back to Brigstocke.

I saw that one of its heads seemed to have had a fatal wound,’ Brigstocke quoted, ‘but that this deadly injury had healed and the whole world had marvelled and followed the beast.

‘Beast?’ smiled Jack. ‘I’ve been called that before.’

Brigstocke leaned closer. ‘It’s from the Bible. In the church this morning, do you remember? You’re not a beast, Jack. But you’re something more than human.’

Jack sipped his water and said nothing.

‘And I’ve seen you and your team in action today. Properly, I mean. Saving all those people. And so much more. I hope I helped.’

Jack thought about the unicorn. ‘More than you know.’

‘What will all those people know about this?’

‘Not much,’ admitted Jack. The rest of the Torchwood team had swung into action in the Stadium aftermath. The football players got Retcon added to their team-room drinks. And the recuperating TV crews and stewards received particular treatment from a special ambulance crew made up of Ianto, Gwen and Owen.

Brigstocke wasn’t convinced. ‘How do you explain the wreck of the Stadium?’

‘Nasty bit of vandalism,’ suggested Jack. ‘Freak winds.’

‘And that light show in the night sky?’

‘Good idea,’ smiled Jack. ‘Light show. Hadn’t thought of that.’

Brigstocke scowled. ‘You’re just giving them a pack of lies.’

‘People want to believe it,’ Jack said. ‘They wouldn’t believe the truth. There’s no point having the facts if you can’t process them and stay sane.’ He contemplated the water in his glass as he swirled it around. ‘Knowledge isn’t the same as wisdom.’

‘Why? What’s the difference?’

Jack smiled. ‘Knowledge is when you can tell that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is when you leave it out of a fruit salad.’

The journalist blinked slowly, unsure about this.

‘I know you want to join Torchwood.’ Jack was pleased to see that Brigstocke’s pupils dilated at this. ‘But would that be wise?’

Brigstocke clearly took this as encouragement. ‘I want to be a proper part of it. Not just because I’m chasing down what happened to Rhodri-’

‘But because you got a taste of it today, yeah.’ Jack looked out through the cafe window, into the evening. The pavement tables were occupied by a hardy bunch of inveterate smokers, huddled against the cold, suffering for their addiction. ‘Torchwood work hard to protect these people. And just as hard to prevent them knowing they’re being protected. We can’t always save everyone.’ He stared back at Brigstocke. ‘We couldn’t save Rhodri.’

And Jack explained how Brigstocke’s friend had been a victim of a Weevil attack. Who Torchwood were. Why they’d covered up the death. Brigstocke seemed to relax into his seat, as though the revelations had confirmed everything he’d always believed. To conclude his explanation, Jack stuck his leg out beside the table and performed an ankle rotation with his completely healed foot.

‘Do you still want to join Torchwood?’

Brigstocke was good. He gave the impression that he was thinking carefully before he said: ‘Yes, Jack. Yes, I do.’

‘Your turn, David,’ Jack murmured. ‘Tell me what you already know. How you discovered it. Who told you.’

Brigstocke did just that. Jack listened openly, uncritically, for nearly an hour while the Italian table cleared and Rico brought them more drinks. Sometimes Jack peered at things through the big glass window beside them – the straggling remnants of the international, staggering through the town centre and in danger of missing their last train home. Or giggling kids in lurid Halloween costumes, toting bags of booty from their trick-or-treating. But mostly he looked candidly into Brigstocke’s earnest, pleading eyes, gauging the journalist’s pain and passion.

‘OK,’ Jack concluded. He gulped down the dregs of his latest glass of water. ‘I’m gonna talk to the others.’

The last of the Halloween kids brushed past the cafe window, squeaking the plastic tip of his devil’s pitchfork along the glass.

Trick or treat, Jack thought.

‘Let me sleep on it, David. And I’ll contact you again tomorrow.’

By then, the Retcon in the journalist’s last Morreti beer would have done the trick. David would forget he’d ever been interested in Torchwood. Jack knew it was so much easier to hide the truth than have to tell Brigstocke a

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