- Dark Themes
- Death-Major Character
- Death-Minor Character
- Episode Related
- Science Fiction
Jack knew something had changed, something was wrong with him, when he woke up. He distinctly remembered coming back to life once before, trapped in pain and darkness and silence. If it weren’t for the fact that he was lying down on something soft, he would have feared to be still trapped on the Valiant, where on some days one death had chased the other.
Before he had time to take in the changes he could feel, he heard Beth threaten his team and for a while a new, unknown instinct took over his body. He let it happen without a fight, let himself be guided by this instinct to protect, until Beth lay dead to his feet and he was sure, that there was no other threat to his team inside his Hub.
Ianto’s question shook him out of this alerted state and his first reaction was denial, when Gwen told him of Ianto’s suspicion. It was partly her condescending tone and partly the reminder, that Ianto would actually have felt him come online, that let him pause.
He wished he could contradict it. It should not be possible for him to have come online as a Sentinel. But he could hear the heartbeat of all four of his teammates and those of Myfanwy and Janet. As much as he wanted to, he could not deny the change in his perception.
“There hadn’t been any Sentinels or Guides left for more than five hundred years when I was born.”
“That’s what I told him!”, Gwen agreed.
Ianto rolled his eyes. “That you knew about. Doesn’t mean there weren’t any who just weren’t reported to the whole universe or were even recognized.”
“Right.” Jack rubbed his forehead with his hand. He needed time to get a hold of this whole cluster fuck. And probably help to sort through all the new impressions his senses seemed to bombard him with. “We have work to do.”
Gwen interrupted him: “You don’t actually believe this crap, do you? You can’t be a Sentinel, Jack!”
Jack frowned. “And yet I hear your heart beating, and even Janet’s heartbeat down in the vaults. I think that is a dead give away, that Ianto is right in his assessment. And as he is the only one here who can actually be sure about it, I wouldn’t doubt him, even I wasn’t hearing things I shouldn’t.”
“You knew that he his Guide?”
There was something other than disbelief in Gwen’s voice that Jack couldn’t place. “Ianto wasn’t exactly trying to keep it a secret just because he wasn’t talking about it. It’s his right not to talk about it. It’s probably not the first time you have worked with a Sentinel or Guide without knowing them as such. – Owen, Tosh, I want a thorough analysis of Beth’ body and the technology in her body. It would be really great if we found a way to detect them. Gwen, you’ll come up with a cover story for her disappearance. Check with the hospital if they could save Mike and if you have to factor in, that he has to belief it, too. Ianto, you are with me.”
“Jack!”, Gwen protested. “You can’t just…”
“It would do you good to remember that I’m still the boss around here!”, Jack snapped. He had grown really tiered of her behaviour since he had come back, but in this moment it felt for the first time absolutely intolerable. “And to remember that you are actually the most junior Agent in this group.”
Gwen gawked at him wide eyed. It was no surprise, really, after all the times that he let her get away with these things for the most part. He was no longer sure why he had done it, but it would stop. And the brief relief he saw on the faces of Ianto, and Tosh and even Owen as he looked down at them, told him that he should have taken this step a long time ago.
“We have all work to do!”, he reminded his team, before descending into his office and taking Ianto with him. He saw Owen and Tosh reach Gwen and help er back up on her feet as he closed the door.
“Has someone called the police and the military to tell them that all members of this terrorist group are dead?”, Jack asked, while putting on the trousers and the shirt, that were laying on his desk.
Ianto nodded. “I spoke with them while Gwen was driving you back. The General wants to talk to you as soon as possible about the breach in their security.”
Jack scoffed. “You did tell him that we were just following the terrorists, right?”
Ianto shrugged. “He probably thinks of me as not much more than a secretary and such things aren’t discussed with lowly secretaries.”
“Let’s find out who his CO is and I’ll give them a call, so I don’t have to have this discussion with a lowly general.” Jack grinned, when Ianto snickered. “Tell me what happened, please.”
Ianto dropped down on the sofa and sighed. “You had bled out on the way back and were probably dead for something like half an hour. The moment you came back, I felt that you were online. I’m not sure if you were even aware, but I think you had zero control over your senses. As I couldn’t help you, I called for Owen. Who didn’t believe me about you being a Sentinel and subsequently killed you, because he gave you the wrong kind of drug. The next time you came back, you were in control of your body, but I’m not sure if it was because I had tried to put you in better circumstances or because the imminent threat to Gwen or something other altogether.”
“I’m not looking forward to testing this”, Jack muttered. He had sat down on the edge of his desk and crossed his arm. He was not looking forward to a lot of things that would come with being a Sentinel.
Ianto stared at some point in front of Jacks feet. “Me neither.”
“There are ways to suppress the senses, right?” It would be the easiest solution to the problem. And Jack did see his being a Sentinel as one big giant problem. The question in which state he would come back to life was only the tip of that iceberg.
“Not long term.” Ianto shook his head. “There is no such thing as voluntary dormancy. And even if there was … You body resets completely when you come back to life, doesn’t it?”
Jack nodded with furrowed brows.
“Dying didn’t make you go dormant. It stands to reason, that being online is your new normal. We should probably assume that whatever you do to suppress your senses will be reset as soon as you die.”
“That’s really not what I wanted to hear”, Jack muttered darkly.
“It’s not a bad thing to be a Sentinel”, Ianto protested.
Jack scoffed. “I’m sure there are some positive things to his whole cluster fuck. But at the moment the list of problems is so long, I can’t even begin to see anything positive.”
Ianto regarded him with a sad smile. “You’ll need training. I can get into contact with the community, if you like.” He sighed. “For both of us, probably. Obviously I’m not able to get my abilities back under control on my own.”
“When did you start to use them again after Canary Wharf?”
Jack had long suspected that Ianto had shut down anything to do with his Guide gifts on that day. He could not see how the young man would have come out of that day alive and much less sane, if he had not cut of his empathy. And it was the only explanation why he had not recognized that Lisa had been dead long before he had gotten Tanizaki into the Hub.
Ianto averted his gaze. “During this whole disaster with the cannibals. Not the best decision I ever made, but I needed to be sure that Tosh would do what I wanted her to do. – It let me recoil from it for a few more month, but it also taught me, that I needed to establish an empathic connection to all of you.”
“Fuck.” Jack carded his fingers through his hair. He did not even want to think about Ianto subjecting himself to the emotions of those monsters. “You need to be more careful with yourself!”
“You have to talk!” Ianto scoffed. “You let yourself be killed fairly regularly since you came back!”
Jack just shrugged. He had died so many times in the year on the Valiant, that it really did not matter any more. It was still an ugly feeling, it still hurt like nothing else, but it had become as easy as breathing nevertheless.
“Do you remember what you told me after … after Lisa?”, Ianto asked. “You were right, you know? It does help to talk. And I’m more than willing to return the favour of listening.”
Jack shook his head. He would never want for Ianto to have to hear the things he would have to say about that year. “There is nothing to talk about.” He would find a way to live with it without talking about it. He had to, because he would never want to burden anyone with this knowledge, much less Ianto.
It hurt to see Ianto retreat behind the polite smile he had worn steadily when he had first become part of the team. On the Valiant, Jack had created this fantasy of his relationship to Ianto being so much more than it had been. He had needed something to hold onto and the memory of Ianto had been the most robust of his choices. He just wished it would be easier to let go of this fantasy now.
Ianto sighed, probably very aware of Jack’s distress. “How are your senses?”
Jack shrugged. “I’m good. No sensory spikes. But then, I’m not really using them, right? I’m just letting them be as they are. … I’m probably a little bit too focused to keep track of all of you. It’s hard to ignore Gwen’s bitching out there.”
“She has a real problem with Guides and Sentinels.”
“I noticed.” Jack frowned. “And I don’t know how she got through Hendon with this attitude. Most of the Sentinels and Guides work in the police forces. She has to have worked with others in the past.”
“You let her get away with a lot of things in the past that won’t be easy for you to tolerate from now on”, Ianto cautioned. “Sentinels are … driven to protect whomever they call their own even from threats within this group. And she repeatedly did put the team or part of it in danger.”
“It’s a headache to come.” Jack sighed defeated. “But I’m aware that I created this situation, so it’s only fair that I have to find a way to resolve it. It’s not your problem to solve. I’ll talk with her in a little while. Today.”
Ianto snorted. “That won’t save me from being confronted by her. Or by Owen for that matter.”
There was probably nothing he could do to prevent that and he knew Ianto could fight his own battles. It was a little bit disconcerting for Jack, that he had to fight the urge that he wanted to put himself between Ianto and any kind of threat or even discomfort. He had started to develop these kind of feeling shortly before the Abandon-debacle and just tried to ignore it. But they had been rapidly amplified in the last half an hour since he woke up.
“I have not the best contact the Sentinel and Guide community here in Cardiff”, Ianto continued. “I kind of avoided them, after I came here and they let me get away with it. But someone will make themselves available, if I tell them there is a newly online Sentinel.”
“They know about me.” Jack took a deep breath. “There was really no chance to keep it a secret from them and at least I knew that none of them would get the idea to experiment on me. But I have had no regular contact with them since I took over Torchwood here. There would have been nothing that would have made Hartmann come here quicker.”
It had been hard enough to keep himself out of Yvonne Hartmanns clutches after Alex had killed the whole team. He had avoided everything that would have made her more suspicious of him, and contact to the Sentinels and Guides of Cardiff had been one of the first points on this list.
Ianto bit his lip. “Do you know why I joined Torchwood One?”
Jack frowned. “No.” He had never even thought about it, even though it was suspicious to find a Guide working for Torchwood One.
“I was there on the behalf of the community in London. There are a lot more of us in London than here in Cardiff. When Yvonne Hartmann became the director of Torchwood, the organisation began to withdraw from any other organisation in London, citing they were only beholden to the Queen. It made a lot of people very suspicious and uncomfortable.” Ianto sighed. “Hartmann had made contact to me without knowing, that I was a Guide. I was asked by the Sentinel and Guide community to use the opportunity to get them an inside into Torchwood One. When Canary Wharf happened we were nearly ready to petition her Majesty for an intervention.”
Jack laughed wholeheartedly. “You were a spy! I can’t believe it, but that’s great! And it was sorely needed.”
“Didn’t make a difference.”
Jack sobered up immediately. “You were the only one, right? That alone is … they should have never send you in there alone. And One was fucking big. Much bigger than it was ever intended to be. – There was ample reason for the Crown to step in long before Canary Wharf and I don’t know why no one did.”
“If you say so”, Ianto muttered “I had heard of you, of course. From Hartmann, but from the Sentinels and Guides I was working with, too. They trust you. That’s the reason why I came here. – It’s probably high time to establish a working relationship with them. They could help us in a lot of situations.”
Jack nodded. He had thought so for a long time, but since the fall of One he had found no time to plan an appropriate approach. Maybe there actually was something positive about him becoming a Sentinel, and if it was just to have an excuse to sit down for a long talk with whomever was leading the Sentinel and Guide Community in Cardiff these days.