- Dark Themes
- Death-Major Character
- Death-Minor Character
- Episode Related
- Science Fiction
After Ianto had left to meet with some bonded pair, the first thing Jack did was take a shower. He had learned to hate the feeling of dried blood on his skin, but there had been more important things to do than to clean himself right away. Jack knew from past experiences that this part of his problems would fade soon, while others would stay with him for month or years.
Someone – probably Ianto – hat freed him of his ruined clothes and cleaned off most of the blood, but it just was not enough. He needed to feel clean and the possible problem a shower could be to his senses had not crossed his mind until he had already stood under the warm water. He turned up the hot water and only when he saw his skin turning red without feeling the heat it registered to him, that he had turned down his sense of hot and cold without meaning to do so. He adjusted the water and hoped his senses would do so themselves without his interference, because he had no idea what he would have to do.
He would still like to deny his coming online. The history of humans was pervaded with stories about Sentinels and Guides, but they had slowly vanished when humans had blended with other races. He had learned in school, that this legacy had been lost to the advancement that had let them leave earth.
If there was still potential for Sentinels and Guides to emerge, then why had there been none when Boeshane had been invaded? That had been his first thought, when Ianto had confirmed, that he had felt him come online. Why had he not come online when it could have helped him protect his brother? Or when he had had to witness the torture of his best friend, while they had been held captive by the enemy?
And then there was the problem with his immortality. How would it affect his senses when he died the next time? How would he learn to live with the yearning for a Guide, if he could never ever bond to one? And with his situation he could never risk a bond.
It made him more angry than anything else in this situation. He had come back with the plan to make something more out of the arrangement he had had with Ianto. It had started as sex to get over Ianto’s grief and had morphed to companionship after their trip to the Brecon Beacons. And it had started to get something more in the last weeks.
He had wanted to take this chance for the first time since Lucia. He had come back to take this chance. And now it had been taken away from him by a biological quirk that he could have used so many times when he had still been mortal and that now would just be a curse. He would never be able to have any kind of sexual or romantic relationship with a guide, because he would not risk a bond.
Jack left the shower feeling clean, but not better at all. He wished for time to digest his situation, but when he came back into his office, Gwen was waiting there for him. Her face spoke volumes and for a moment he just wanted to send her away. But he had promised Ianto to speak with her today and that would not get easier if he send her away first.
Jack sat down behind his desk and looked her over. Finally he said: “How nice of you to wait for me.”
“Where is Ianto?”, Gwen asked.
“He is running an errand for me.”
Gwen frowned. “Do you think that is a good idea?”
“Why shouldn’t it?”, Jack wanted to know.
Gwen huffed. “He is a Guide, Jack! And he didn’t tell anyone, again. I don’t think we should trust him!”
“And it’s your decision who deserve trust on this team and who does not?”
“How can we be sure that he didn’t manipulate us from the start?”, Gwen asked. “He lied about this Cyberman and risked all of our lives. Now he’s lied about what he is. A Guide can’t be trusted!”
“I would have thought you would have learned enough about Guides in Hendon to know better. There are courses about Sentinels and Guides, aren’t there?”
Gwen scoffed. “They were mandatory, so I couldn’t get out of them. A bunch of bullshit, if you ask me. I bet none of the instructors have ever met one of them.”
“And you have?”, Jack asked. “Where are you taking your knowledge from?”
“My grandfather was a Sentinel. He came online during the war and had a bond forced on him. He had to bring this Guide he was bonded to into the home of my mother, when he came back. She had to watch while this man destroyed her family!”
Jack shook his head. He had seen a lot of such cases after both wars and every single time it had been the inability of the spouses to accept the change in their partners that had destroyed the families. It was the rigid view on relationships of this time period and Jack had never been able to understand the resentment of these spouses, but it was them society was supporting, even though no one would ever get the idea to deny a Sentinel or Guide their bond.
“How much contact did you have to your grandfather?”, he asked.
“None. He had left the family long before I was born.” Gwen’s voice was vibrating with loathing. “He left my grandmother alone with three children, because he preferred his Guide.”
“So, all you have are the memories of your grandmother and mother, which are full of resentment.” Jack braced his arms on his desk. “I assure you, would you have searched for your grandfather and his Guide, you would have found them very near to your family and keeping an eye on them. Even now he will know exactly where every one of his children and grandchildren are, how they are doing, what they are doing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was by your graduation from school and from Hendon, even though you have never met him. Sentinels and Guides don’t leave their families behind. The only reason, that there was no direct contact would have been that your grandmother and her children didn’t want to have contact with your grandfather.”
Gwen scoffed. “Right. You are supposedly a Sentinel for not even two hours and already you are an expert?”
“You are neither Sentinel nor Guide and obviously you think yourself some kind of expert”, Jack rebuffed. “You should not forget that I have gone the slow way from 1869 to today. I have served in both World Wars and have seen action in a number of other conflicts in the last one and a half centuries. I have seen Sentinels and Guides come online on the battlefield and here. A lot of them were my friends and I have seen families break just like yours, because of the mundane partners selfishness and inability to adept.”
He should probably expect a call or even a visit from Gwen’s grandfather with re-establishing contact to the community. Guides and Sentinels, especially bonded ones, had an average lifespan of forty or fifty years more than a mundane, so her grandfather and his Guide should still be alive.
“That’s bullshit propaganda!”, Gwen protested. “And I don’t even know why these people are so sheltered and protected!”
Jack sighed. Why had this deep rooted hatred for Sentinels and Guide not shown up in her background check? Prejudices such as this were never easily overcome and to need to overcome them in their line of work was a big obstacle. Gwen must have hold her opinion back on this matter for the whole time she was training to become and police officer and even after starting to work for the police of Cardiff. The forces took great care to weed out recruits with that kind of bigotries.
“What ever Ianto did to make you think anything has changed with your senses, we’ll find a way to break it.” Gwen sounded so sincere and convinced.
Jack snorted. “That’s not how a Guide’s abilities work.”
“They can sense a manipulate our emotions, right?” Gwen frowned. “That does explain why no one protested him staying after his girlfriend nearly killed us! You should have fired him without question back then instead of coddling him as you did.”
“How can you be able to want to understand a bunch of strangers who intended to eat you, but show not one ounce of compassion to a teammate who has gone through a traumatizing situation?” Jack had wondered about that since Gwen had sat down in front of that man and actually started to talk to him.
“He put us through a traumatizing situation!”
Jack shook his head and leaned back. “I don’t know what to do with you, Gwen.”
“Will you be able to keep working here, with your boss a Sentinel and his second a Guide? Will you be able to overcome your prejudices?”, Jack asked.
Gwen sneered. “And since when is Ianto your second?”
“Since the day Suzie died and Tosh didn’t want the job.” Jack raised his eyebrows. “I have no idea what happened here in the month I was gone and why apparently you took over the rains. That was not part of the instructions I had left for my departure. You don’t have the experience to even temporarily lead this team.”
“But Ianto or Tosh do?”, Gwen asked.
“They have worked for Torchwood the longest time. But we are not here to discuss my decisions.” He raised his hands to stop her from protesting. “I have made great mistakes with allowing you this in the past, and this will stop. – Will you be able to overcome your damn prejudices and work for me now that I am a Sentinel?”
“You can’t be a Sentinel! You told me yourself that they were extinct in your time!”
Jack shrugged. “Obviously I was mistaken. I will get the training I need and we’ll hopefully get a little bit of help around here.”
“Do you really want to risk telling them about the Rift and the aliens?”, Gwen asked appalled.
“Do you really think it is a secret to any Sentinel or Guide in this city?” Jack laughed. “Even as there was only one bonded pair and one other Sentinel here one hundred years ago, they knew about Torchwood and the Rift. There is no way we could have kept this a secret from them, so we didn’t even try.”
“You can’t be serious!”
“I am.” Jack crossed his arms. “You haven’t answered my question, Gwen.”
Instead of answering, she stood up. “You are making a mistake.”
“So, your answer is No.” That was not what he had expected and not what he had wished for. It would be a problem. “I think you should take a little bit time to think about this. Go home, spend two days with your fiancé. And overthink this decision, please.”
“You should go to a doctor who has no relations to any Sentinels or Guides. Maybe they could help you find out what Ianto has done”, Gwen insisted.
“Go home, Gwen. I’ll see you back here in three days and we’ll try this whole conversation another time.”
Gwen huffed but left without another word.
Jack rubbed his hands over his face. This day had already been so long and it got more frustrating with every hour. He just wanted to find a place where he was alone and could think. But he knew it would be a long time before that would happen.
Jack waited until Gwen had left the Hub, before he went to Tosh. “I need you to do something for me, Tosh.”
“Alright.” She looked at him with furrowed brows.
“I have given Gwen two days of downtime. But … I need to know she doesn’t do anything stupid.” Jack took a deep breath. He hated to do this, but there was no way he could just trust her. “Please monitor her communications. And those of Rhys Williams.”
“I…” Tosh hesitated. “Okay, sure. How are you feeling?”
Jack shrugged and put on a fake smile. “We saved the world, so it’s a pretty good day around here, isn’t it?”
Tosh sighed. “You do remember we are your friends, too, not just your employees, right?”
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I have learned to live with the inability to stay dead. To learn being a Sentinel will be nothing compared to that, don’t you think?”
“I’m here if you need anything.”
Jack patted her shoulder. “Thank you, Tosh. I … I won’t forget.”
She smiled. “I’ll remind you, if you do.”
He nodded and left her to her work. He found Owen in the autopsy-bay, with Beth on his table. Jack leaned on the railing and looked down at the body. He had agreed to the plan to freeze her before he had died on the way back, but that was one more thing he could not understand any more. To freeze her had not stopped the technology in her the last time, so why would they think it would work now? It should not have been Beth’ decision to choose her death, but his.
“Do you want something other than watch me work?”, Owen asked.
Jack sighed. “I’ll meet someone later, who will be able to help me train my senses. Ianto is making contact at the moment.”
“I should examine you.”
Jack raised his eyebrows. “Are you qualified to examine a Sentinel?”
“And what does that mean?”, Owen spat out.
“That you have taken care of a Guide for nearly eighteen month and did not recognize him as a Guide.”
“He should have told us!”, Owen insisted.
Jack shook his head. “You shouldn’t have to have been told, you should have seen it in his medical file. I saw it, when I looked at the file. So, I have to question how much you know about Sentinels and Guides. – I’ll wait to be examined until we have someone with us, who could help me with my senses.”
“To get me training is just the first step.” Jack looked down. “We need to plan a few experiments how I’ll reacting to coming back in the future. It won’t do anyone any good if I come back in the field like the first time today.”
“Oh, and for something like that I’m good enough?”
“You are good for a lot of things, Owen. I just don’t want to repeat the experience from earlier, before I haven’t learned a little more about my new circumstances. And really, when did you treat a Sentinel or Guide the last time?”
Owen huffed. “During medical school. You are right, I haven’t cared to learn a lot about them. It seems, I have to change that.”
“Not the only thing that will change.” Jack regarded the body with a wary look. He was itching to get it out of his Hub, but knew that it would take a while until they could get rid of it. “When you are finished with her, I would like you to prepare a list of parameters to test my reactions to coming back to life. Ianto tried to adjust my surroundings to my new circumstances, but he could only make it easier on the touch and sight front. We can’t know if that really helped or if it was the threat to my territory and my tribe that changed my reaction.”
“Could he tell you when you came online exactly?”, Owen asked.
Jack shook his head. “Ianto said I was online when I came back the first time. Chances are it happened shortly before I died. My injuries where bad and I don’t remember much after the explosion.”
“I hope you’ll let Gwen clean the SUV, its a mess in there!”
“Gwen has two days downtime.” Jack closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I did ask er to kill me quickly, because I wasn’t strong enough to kill myself. Not because of the blood, mind you, but because it would have been much less painful and I wouldn’t have been a liability it something had happened. But she ignored me. – In retrospect it’s probably a good thing I didn’t have to revive out there.”
He resented her a little bit for ignoring his plea. And he had pleaded with her, as long as he had still been able to form coherent words. His death had been inevitable and Gwen had known it. And she had not been able to give him the mercy killing he had asked for.
Owen frowned. “Why the downtime?”
“She is not … prepared to work wit Sentinels and Guides. I still hope she’ll get her head together, but…” Jack shrugged.
“Bloody fantastic”, Owen muttered. “And for the other thing – are you actually suggestion, that we kill you repeatedly for some experiment?”
“Not the first time that I would be subject of experiments for the sake of science. Although, it will be the first time I’m consenting to it.” Jack blew out a breath and ignored the horror on Owen’s face. “It’s necessary to determine if I’m a liability in the field or not.”
“You suck, Harkness! – I’m not sure Ianto should be part of those experiments.”
Jack raised his brows. “And why is that?”
“You dying nearly knocked him out, too. – I didn’t belief him about being a Guide until you actually died from a drug that shouldn’t have been lethal and his reaction to it. … I’m sorry I killed you, I guess.”
“No hard feelings. It did lead to me finding my bearings, so…” Jack shrugged. “It’s hard for any Guide to feel a Sentinel die, and vice versa. But Ianto probably needs to learn to handle it. – It’s something Ianto has to decide for himself, though.”
On the one hand he would like to shield Ianto from this experience, but Jack could just imagine how it would go, if he tried to order Ianto to stay away. On the other hand, to learn to handle such a situation would be paramount for them to be able to go into the field together.
This was just another problem they would need to find a solution for. The damn list kept growing.