- Dark Themes
- Death-Major Character
- Death-Minor Character
- Episode Related
- Science Fiction
Gwen came back to Cardiff in the morning of the day she should have come back to work. The police picked her up on her way to the Hub, while Tosh tried to track the car and driver, who had brought Gwen back. Jack heard all of that from Brac and Tirion, in whose House he had spend the third night in a row. The police had called them as soon as they had Gwen is custody.
Jack was not quite sure, why the police was asking the Kendricks to witness the interrogations of Gwen and even Rhys Williams, but he had gotten the impression that the investigation into this organization was much more serious than the police let on. Jack had gone to the station with Brac and Tirion and had listened into the interview of Rhys before he had left for the Hub.
Gwen was staying silent and Jack was sure he would be more of a hindrance than a help, if he tried to speak with her. He had heard enough from Rhys to know that a police holding cell was the right place for Gwen. He was frustrated by the whole situation, especially as he had not even been aware that anti-Guide-and-Sentinel-organizations were such a problem. He had never even thought about them in the past.
When Jack cane into he Hub he could see Tosh sit on her computer and hear Owen curse in the med-bay. Ianto was nowhere to be seen and Jack was somewhat relived about it.
The last two days had been awkward, full of aborted gestures and heavy silence. The nascent bond was like a wall between them, threateningly flaring up whenever they touched skin to skin. Jack had not known how often he casually touched Ianto until he had to remind himself repeatedly not to do it. And then there was this yearning for the younger man, that had already developed on the Valiant hand had become so much stronger since he had come online.
Jack had no idea how he could maintain his distance to Ianto in the future and so far had found no time to think about it.
Despite is relief he could not stop his senses from searching for Ianto until he could detect his heartbeat in his office. He needed to know where every member of his team was at any given time. In the last days had even continually searched for Gwen despite knowing she was not there. The void that had left in him had diminished when he had learned that she was in police custody and entirely vanished after he had heard Rhys’ interview. He would need to talk to someone about this, but that had time until the evening.
Jack hesitated a moment in front of the door to his office and took a breath to steady himself. Which was a mistake, as all it did was let him inhale Ianto’s scent, accelerating his longing for the other man.
Ianto was sitting in the chair in front of the desk and looked up from the stack of files in his lap, as Jack came into the office. “Hey, you are late.”
“Yeah, sorry.” Jack sat down in his chair, blowing out a breath. “I went to the station after I learned that Gwen was in custody.”
“What did she say?”, Ianto asked.
Jack shook his head. “Nothing. And I didn’t try to talk to her. I’m not even sure why I went there, but I had enough after I heard what Rhys had to say.”
Ianto raised his brows. “Is he involved?”
“No, probably not. He didn’t even know Gwen wasn’t at work.” Jack furrowed his brows. “The officer asked him if he knew anything about an uncle of Gwen called Robert. Apparently, Gwen has fond childhood memories of this man, who is not really an uncle but someone she has called by this title her whole life. Allegedly he does some kind of work for the betterment of society and was the inspiration for Gwen to go to the police.”
“Great.” Ianto sighed and his shoulders sagged down. “So, Tosh’s worst case scenario just got much more likely. This will cause a lot of unrest in the police.”
“It already has”, Jack confirmed. “Everyone in the station seemed to be … angry and determined to root out the problem. – You were right letting them handle this. I didn’t even know such organizations were such a big problem.”
Ianto shrugged. “Not many people outside of our communities are even aware of them. On the whole there are still very few of us and many mundanes aren’t very concerned with us.”
It should have concerned him, not just because there had been a time, decades ago, when most of the people he would have called his friends, had been Sentinels and Guides. He felt he should have known about such a threat to them. But then, he had never cared much for politics, because all he had done was bid his time until he could reconnect with the Doctor. Much good that had done him!
“This will change very soon, you know?” Jack frowned. “The number of Sentinels and Guides all over the world will rise significantly in the next couple of years. I don’t remember when exactly, but it was the first quarter of this century.”
Ianto sat up straightening his back. “Do you know why?”
Jack shook his head. “I never bothered to learn. It was three thousand years in the past when I went to school. So even if I had learned of the reason there, we wouldn’t be able to trust it fully. And the Timeagency had banned this whole century for travel, so I never bothered to look up their information on it.”
“What would cause such a ban?”, Ianto asked.
“A lot of things. Most likely a fixed point, or more likely even a series of fixed points.”
“Whatever a fixed point is”, Ianto muttered. “Someday you’ll have to explain to me, what this whole business with the Timeagancy is.”
Jack smirked. “Maybe.”
Ianto huffed. “Which means no, I take it. – But that’s not why I was waiting for you anyway. I have completed the list on positions we need to fill and for each a list of potential candidates. That bonded pair that the Kendricks recommended, when will they be able to start?”
“Day after tomorrow. I talked with them briefly on the phone yesterday. They have cut their travels short and are coming back to Cardiff tomorrow. They’ll wait up at the water tower at nine.”
Ianto nodded. “That’s good. We were lucky so far with the rift, but we need more hands around here. The sooner the better. And that gives us nearly three weeks to get them used to all the crazy around here, before we have to wake up Tommy.”
Jack smirked. “Just enough time, so they hopefully won’t freak out completely by it!”
Ianto snorted. “Yeah, not really. I still freak out about it. – Tosh and Owen provided a list of potential candidates, but I was really surprised by the list you send me for the maintenance and support positions. A whole family out of London, without any experience with aliens?”
Jack shrugged. It had been a spur of the moment decision after a late night call with Trish. He missed Martha’s family more than he had expected, they had grown on him over the year on the Valiant. And as far as he knew, they had massive problems with going back to a normal live.
“But then I saw there pictures and remembered that I has seen them on the footage of the Valiant.”
Jack looked up sharply. “What do you know about that?”
“Not nearly as much as I would like to know.” Ianto hesitated. “When we came back from this fools errand in the Himalayas the first thing I did to check UNIT’s database for any information about Harold Saxon. It was highly suspicious that he had sent us away while attempting to make contact to some alien race and at the same time declaring you alongside the Doctor and an unknown woman terrorists. Of course, it was all over when we came back, with the American President and our Prime Minister dead, but I still wanted to know what happened.”
Ianto looked down. “I found the footage that Saxon had broadcast and that had vanished from every other possible source. It just brought up more questions. It’s obvious that there is something missing between the moment the President died and the following minutes. If there are any reports of what really happened on the Valiant, I haven’t found them.”
“They are kept on a separate machine that isn’t connected to any network.” Jack closed the eyes. This footage should be there, too. He would have to make a call later to rectify this situation. “You don’t need to know what happened on the Valiant. It’s just … It’s a nightmare. And in the end … it didn’t even really happen. The discrepancy you saw in the footage, that was time being set back.”
“It happened to you.” Ianto’s voice was quiet and full of sorrow. “You said it was a year and you looked … you were a prisoner on this ship, weren’t you?”
“I can’t…” Jack took a ragged breath. “I don’t want to talk about this. And you don’t need to be laden down with such a knowledge.”
Ianto sighed. “The things I have seen from you, since you came back … the little you have said and the things I have picked up emphatically … I know you were tortured. To know how won’t make this knowledge any more devastating for me than it already is. And as much as you seem to want to just forget it, that’s not how these things work. You need help, Jack, you need to talk about this.”
“I really don’t!”, Jack bit out.
He did not need to rehash any of it. It was over and done with and he had gotten over similar situations on his own in the past. There was no need to put his own nightmares in the heads of other and especially not that of Ianto.
“If not me, than maybe Tirion”, Ianto suggest undeterred. “Or another Guide. There are those who specialize in treating any kind of trauma. – And if you bring the Joneses here, do you really think you’ll be able to keep what happened a secret from the team? I gather, they would benefit from a little bit of psychological help as well, if they remember it, too.”
“They do. Everyone on the Valiant remembers.” Jack shook his head. “I don’t even know why I want them here. I was fine with calling them every other day until … until I came online.”
“They were prisoners with you?”, Ianto asked.
“Sentinels and Guides tend to form tight familial groups around them”, Ianto explained. “Mundanes as well as other Sentinels and Guides. And its known that soldiers, who where isolated with a small group of comrades from support in any way, and who come online during this isolation or in the month afterwards, build these familial groups around those comrades.” He made a gesture that was encompassing the Hub. “We are basically in such a situation, as our work tends to isolate us from the rest of the city. On an instinctual level you probably see us and the Joneses as … yours.”
“Will it pass?”
Ianto shook his head. “I’m not sure. No one ever tried to sit it out, as far as I know. The Joneses are probably feeling the urge to come here. It’s … this legacy, that lets emerge Sentinels and Guides, is in every single human, it’s part of our fundamental biology. And so are these kinds of instincts.”
Jack frowned and shook his head. “I don’t want to uproot them. They have already gone through so much. – Just forget I gave you their names.”
“You should at least ask them”, Ianto insisted. “They don’t even have to work for us, if they don’t want to. Chances are high that they are already affected from this change. Don’t take their choice away from them! But I’ll leave it to you.”
Jack growled frustrated. Everything new he learned about his situation was just one more thing, that showed what a bad combination it were to be immortal and a Sentinel. There was a good reason he kept his distance from most others in the last few decades, but how could he maintain such if his newfound instincts were working against him?
How long would it take to drive a Sentinel insane if he was forced to lose everyone he held dear over and over and over again? He had found himself on some very dark edges in the last one hundred and fifty years and even before he had become immortal, sometimes even driving down in the abyss for a while. What would it mean to reach such a point as a Sentinel?
Ianto put one of the files from his lap on the desk. “This is a list including basic information of possible medical support. Every name on this list was provided by Owen, but two of them I had already to strike out. He is very enthusiastic about us hiring a second doctor. I think he would have no problem if he could use his medical knowledge exclusively for autopsies.”
Jack took the change of topic with more gratitude than was probably warranted. “And did you tell about your idea of mental evaluations for the team?”
Ianto snorted. “He was cursing a lot, but in the end he wasn’t able to deny the necessity. It’s something we should search for a psychologist who is a Guide. They would already know about what we are doing.”
“Another thing we could ask Brac and Tirion about, I guess.” Jack sighed. He had not felt accountable to anyone in years, but since he had met them again three days ago he had started to feel this urge to look at them for advice. He had never gotten an answer when he asked after the hierarchy in the Sentinel and Guide communities and now he began to understand, that there was no definite answer. It was build out of instinct and there was probably no one who could influence it.
“Yes.” Ianto nodded and put the next file in front of Jack. “Tosh has explicitly ask for engineering and IT support. She may be a genius, but it’s just to much work for one person. This list is divided in those two categories.”
“Why has neither of them ask for this support earlier?”, Jack wanted to know. Even as they had actively searched for new recruits, before Suzie had gone on a rampage, neither Owen nor Tosh had spoken up for what they needed.
Ianto shrugged. “You would have to ask them.” He put another file on the desk leaving only one in his lap. “And a list of possible field agents. They all have some specialities, but I think we really should have enough field agents to maintain two shifts.”
“Yes.” Jack agreed wholeheartedly and at one time that had been his goal. They had the budget for it, but before the fall of One Yvonne Hartmann had blocked any attempt on his side to have a bigger team than four people beside him. One of his biggest regrets of the last year was, that he had let himself be so impacted by Suzie’s betrayal that he had shied away from following through with these plans earlier.
Jack raised his brows, when Ianto hesitated with the last file. “That’s support for the administrative side of things, I assume?”
Ianto sighed. “Sort of. It is a list for possible administrative staff.” He took a deep breath. “And a list for a replacement for me.”
Jack was sure, he had heard that wrong. “Replacement? Why the hell would you need to be replaced?”
Ianto put the last file in front of Jack and a single cheat of paper on top of it. “This my request for a transfer to Glasgow. Archie already gave his okay for this.”
“But I won’t!” Jack pushed the form back over the desk. “Just no! What the hell, Ianto? Why do you want a transfer all of a sudden? – We need you here much more than Archie does!”
“I would have thought that’s obvious.” Ianto looked down at his hands. “The last two days have been … We can’t work this way.”
“You want to leave because I don’t want the bond?”, Jack asked flabbergasted.
Ianto sighed. “Not for the reason you think. It’s always there, I know you have noticed that. It won’t go away, it won’t … be patient forever. We unintentionally build this connection, and I don’t even know how as your trust in me on a personal level is obviously not the greatest. I talked with Tirion about this at length yesterday. The only way to hinder the bond to eventually build in full is … space. We need to not see each other every day, or even every week.” He shrugged. “With a little bit of luck I’ll be able to come back in a couple of years.”
“No”, Jack repeated. “That’s not gonna happen! And what the hell did I do to let you doubt my trust in you?” That accusation hurt nearly as much as the whole idea of Ianto leaving.
Ianto snorted. “I know from experience how much trust it needs to talk with someone about the things that plague your mind. But that’s not the point at the moment.”
“As you leaving isn’t a point at all it our discussion, we have a lot of room for this issue.” Jack had braced his arms on his desk and fisted his hands. “I’m not talking about this fucked up year at the Valiant, because I’m trying to protect you! You have no idea how relived I was, that you weren’t on the Valiant, that you wouldn’t ever remember, that you were probably long dead at the end, when I eventually managed to reverse the damn paradox!”
Ianto met his gaze straight on and said quietly: “You don’t have to protect me.”
“Yes I do!” Jack could not keep his arms from shaking. “You are wrong if you think it wouldn’t change anything for you to know what exactly happened. It would change everything. And that’s just another reason to prevent the bond! It would open up all these things in me to you, wouldn’t it? You would be subjected to all this shit inside of me and we couldn’t do anything to prevent it!”
“It would.” Ianto started to reach out for him, but aborted the move with a flinch. “Believe me, it wouldn’t be any more of a burden than the pure knowledge that you were tortured for a year. But I would be able to lift part of this burden from you!”
Jack could feel the tears burning in his eyes. “I would never want you to have to feel these … things.”
Ianto nodded slowly. “You are terrified of it, that is very clear. But that doesn’t change my opinion about it.” He averted his gaze, looking down at his hands. “And even so I don’t understand this particular reason, I do understand the other reasons you gave me.”
Ianto hesitated and ran is tongue over his lips. “I don’t necessarily agree with them. I still think you wouldn’t suffer more under a broken bond than under loosing any other person dear to you. And I think you would be able to find a new Guide and form a new bond after your old Guide has passed away. Because we are just not made to be alone. Sentinels and Guides have come in pairs from the very beginning of humankind.”
He looked back up to Jack, who could just stare unable to move. “And I would be willing to take the risk concerning a bond and your death. There too, I think, will be a solution that won’t leave us behind with a broken bond. – There was never before a Sentinel or a Guide who was impaired in such a way, that they couldn’t bond. I strongly believe that you would not have come online if your immortality really was a hindrance to a bond.”
Jack snorted. “There is a first time for everything.” He would like to wish for these things, just so he could allow himself to give in to his longing for Ianto. But even only to wish for them would make it so much harder to stay strong and keep away.
Ianto shook his head. “Not in this. It is our imperative to protect. And we only find our full potential to do so after we bond.” He smiled, but it was eternally sad. “If there was any way to take this curse of immortality from you, I would do anything to make it possible. And if there was a way to share it with you so I wouldn’t have to leave you alone, I wouldn’t hesitate even a second to do it. If a bond with you would mean either I would gladly accept it.”
“No!”, Jack said resolutely, shaking his head. “Don’t even think about such a thing!” Sometimes he had dreamed about it, to have someone to share his fate with, someone who was like him. But he would never actually want to put this on another person.
“That would be my choice, wouldn’t it?”, Ianto asked. “And we are back to you taking away the choices of the people around you. – But that doesn’t matter much at the moment, as we don’t know how to accomplish either. As I said, I may not agree with your reasons, but I accept them. I accept your choice. And the only way to prevent this bond from happening is distance. I initially thought to stay another few days, long enough to welcome the new additions to the team and to help in their orientation. But now I think it is better if I leave right away.”
Ianto stood up and moved in the direction of the door, and before Jack could even think about his reaction, he had plunged out of the chair to the door, blocking it with his body. “You can’t go!”
“Jack.” Ianto sighed and stopped just out of Jacks reach. “There are only these two options. I leave Cardiff or we bond.”
“I can’t let you go!” Jack closed his eyes. “You have no idea how much the thought alone hurts. I just got you back!” Even if he wanted to, he just knew he would not be able to move out of the way. And he was not so sure any more if he really wanted to let Ianto go in any way.
“I’m not opposed to a bond. In fact, I would love to bond with you.” Ianto’ voice was steady and soothing. “I missed you, too, while you were gone. I hadn’t even noticed how much I was … how invested I had become in you until you were first dead for such a damn long time and then just gone.” He paused for a long moment. “It’s your choice. Do you want to bond with me or not?”
Jack opened his eyes and looked at Ianto. “A bond would be such a bad idea!”
Ianto’s sad smile came back. “That is a conviction you are desperately holding onto out of fear. It was probably the first thought you had after you had accepted that you had come online, right? – I understand your fear. But I trust into this biological imperative that has driven our kind for thousands of years and has as far as we know never gone wrong. I have to trust it, because I can’t stand the thought that you’ll be damned to an eternal life with this longing for a Guide.”
Ianto wet is lips. “I want to bond with you. I want to stay here and take great care in living a life as long as possible, only so I can stay at your side for a long time. I want you, Jack. But that’s me, probably being fairly selfish. – I’m prepared to let all of that go, if that is what you want.”
“What I really want hasn’t mattered in a long time”, Jack whispered. He was barely holding himself back from reaching out.
“It matters now”, Ianto replied quietly. “It’s the only thing that matters right now.”
Jack took half a step forward and raised a hand, but he stopped with his hand hovering just an inch away from Ianto’s cheek. “Are you sure? There is no going back if we … Are you really sure you want me, with all the ballast I’m carrying with me?”
“Yes”, Ianto replied smiling.
Jack took a shuddering breath as placed his hand against Ianto’s cheek and the warm spark that he had tried to avoid in the last two days rose up immediately. There was no going back now. He would not have the strength to step way again, as he had not had the strength to step aside and let Ianto go.
He still thought that all of this could and would eventually drive him crazy, that losing Ianto would drive him crazy. But he could not care for that at the moment. All he cared about was to take the man he wanted and not let him go for as long as possible.
They had shared a lot of kisses in the past, but none had been as careful and as savouring as this one was. Ianto curled his fingers in the front of Jack’s shirt and shifted his weight just slightly to lean into him.
In the last three days Jack hat taken in all new nuances he could detect in Ianto’s scent, in the tone of his voice and the other noises his body made, and in everything he could have seen of Ianto’s body. It was a never growing catalogue of thins he wanted to savour forever if possible and now he could expand it still with the taste of Ianto’s lips against his and the feeling of Ianto’s skin under his fingers.
Jack laid his free hand over Iantos’s hands, curling his fingers carefully around the fists. He could feel something shift between them, something that had been there for days, curling around them and pushing them together. It was nothing he had any comparison for and Jack had thought it would be disconcerting to let it go. But instead he was welcoming it and then with something like a snap he suddenly had an awareness of Ianto that was completely new. It was like he could feel Ianto inside his head and inside his heart, but it was not intrusive. It let him feel like he was whole for the first time in his very long life.
Jack drew back his head to look at Ianto. But before he could say anything or do anything, their surroundings changed. The ambient noise of the Hub vanished leaving them in an eerie silence, his office vanished making place for wide empty endless room bathed in a warm yellow glow.
“What the hell?” Jack took a step back, not letting go of Ianto’s hand, but scanning their surrounding for any threat.
“This feels like the spirit plane”, Ianto muttered confused. “But it doesn’t look like it.”
“Spirit plane?”, Jack asked warily.
“Or psionic plane. It’s … something all Guides have a connection to”, Ianto explained. “Tirion took me there a few times before I went to London, but I was never able to reach it on my own, but that’s not unusual for unbonded Guides.”
“We just bonded”, Jack stated.
Ianto grinned brightly. “Yes.”
“Is it usual for a newly bonded pair to take trip to this spirit plane?”, Jack asked, still alerted.
Ianto shrugged, warily looking around. “No idea. No one ever mentioned it. And even if it was … we should be in something of a blue jungle. Not in a yellow … nothing.”
“Don’t worry my Sentinel. Nothing will harm you or your Guide here.”
Jack spun around and came face to face with a ghost. “Rose?”
Her eyes were glowing and her hair seemed to be blown up by a wind that wasn’t there. She smiled warmly. “I’m not Rose Tylor. But it were her actions that gave me sapiens. And an impression of her from. I am Bad Wolf.”
Jack shuddered and he felt Ianto press against his side. “I don’t understand.”
“Rose was so desperate, so full of love and hope and determination. She gave all to save her Doctor. And you. But she wouldn’t have survived. The Doctor’s interference would have come to late.”
“What are you?”, Jack asked. He remembered the Doctor telling him, that Rose had looked into the heart of the TARDIS, right into the time vortex and that she had brought him back. He had never had the opportunity to ask how the Doctor had saved her afterwards.
“I am time.” She spread her arms. “Live, death, existence. I am what lets the stars burn and lets plants rotate around them. I am everything. – But Rose gave me something. She shared something with me no one had aver shared with me before. She changed me. And now I am Bad Wolf. And I saved her from me.”
“She changed me, too. You could change me back.” Jack frowned. “You are the heart of the TARDIS, you can take away my immortality.”
She shook her head. “The heart of a TARDIS is but a small window to me. Nothing more than a tether.”
“But you can change me back!”, Jack insisted.
“No.” She eyed him with a fond smile. “You were never meant not to be exactly what you are, my Sentinel. This was meant to be the course of your life from the very first breath you took.”
Jack took a step back. “No.”
“But you were never meant to be alone. It was never meant for you to walk this path alone.” Her glowing eyes turned to Ianto.
“When Jack was meant to be a Sentinel, an immortal Sentinel at that, why hasn’t he come online earlier?”, Ianto asked and Jack knew without having to question it that Ianto was asking this question for him, because of his doubt.
“He had to choose to be a Protector.” She cocked her head. “And he had to choose his Guide. And he did both at the same time. He waited so long for his Doctor.” She looked at Jack. “But he was wrong, my Sentinel. You never were a mistake.”
Jack wet his lips. “Choose my Guide?”
“You can’t change Jack back, but…” Ianto’s fingers tightened around Jack’s hand. “Can you make me immortal like him?”
“No!”, Jack interrupted before she could answer. “That is not…”
“Of course”, she said, without taking her eyes from Jack for one moment. “It was your Guide’s choice, my Sentinel. Nothing what he has said to you were empty words. He said every single thing with the conviction of his whole heart.”
“That doesn’t mean…”, Jack began.
Ianto turned to him and interrupted: “My choice, Jack. And you are not taking it away from me. I choose you. And I know all eternity with you will be anything but easy, but that doesn’t change my mind.”
“Ianto.” Jack took a shuddering breath.
“You have a long but great path before you”, she said. “You were meant to be, my Sentinel, because your kind needs a Protector through all of time.”
Ianto turned back to her and Jack frowned. “I don’t understand. A few thousand years from now there will be no Sentinels and Guides any more.”
“They are hidden, forgotten, dismissed, but never extinct. Sentinels and Guides are the proctors of the human race. And the protectors of every race that arises from humans.”
“But they need their own protector, which would be us?”, Ianto asked incredulous.
“Yes. Knowledge is lost for every race throughout time. You are to protect the knowledge of your kind and the position of your kind in their races. It is never to be forgotten that Sentinels and Guides are the protectors of humans and their descendants.”
“Why Jack? Why do I get to choose this but Jack didn’t get a choice at all?”
“But my Sentinel did choose. He chose Earth and he chose you.”
“Long after you had already made him immortal!”
She smiled brightly. “The day my Sentinel will become immortal is still in your very, very far future. – You are both eternal. You’ll stand as the Protectors of protectors until I’ll cease to exist and you with me.”