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Myfanwy 2

November 2017

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To Be Human - Chapter Eight

To Be Human - Chapter Eight
Author: Milady Dragon
Series: Dragon-Verse
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys, Toshiko/Kathy, Owen/Diane
Warnings: Language
Spoilers: Both series up to S2, E2, "Sleeper"
Disclaimer:  I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better. 
Author's note:  Here we are, the Dragon-Verse version of "Sleeper".  I know there have been a few detours before getting to this, and I hope it's worth the wait.  As usual, dating is taken from several fan-made chronologies, especially Ianto's Desktop, and other information from the TARDIS Index File.



Summary: An attempted home invasion puts the team on the trail of an alien sleeper cell intent on invasion, and Gwen gets a lesson on what it means to be human. 




29 June 2008

 

A lot people thought, when realising that Jack came from the 51st Century, that he’d have all this knowledge of what the future would hold, and that he’d be able to stop the major bad things before they happened, thus saving countless lives in the bargain.

This would be completely false, even if it didn’t violate all sorts of rules against tampering with major temporal events.

Jack had been born on the Boeshane Peninsula, which was considered a backwater by most of the human race…and they were, of course, correct.  Jack’s being accepted into the Time Agency had been a big deal at the time, because there weren’t many who didn’t consider him to be some sort of backward hick who could barely read and write, let alone know the difference between a time loop and a tesseract.   It had been an uphill battle, and to be fair Jack hadn’t been the best student in a few of his courses, but he’d taken to Temporal Theory and Quantum Mechanics like he’d been born with the equations written across his frontal lobe and had used an atomic modulator for a teething ring.  He’d also been an ace at pretty much every vehicle he’d had to learn to pilot, and had done very well indeed in several of the technical labs that he’d thought would be boring until he’d actually set foot inside them.

Of course, he’d also learned about paradoxes and how not to create them, which had brought home the fact that he’d never be able to go back and save Gray, since it had been that particular event that had set him on the path to joining the Time Agency.  Jack hadn’t been at all happy about that, but even as much as he adored his younger brother and wanted to find him, he knew he couldn’t chance risking the universe on his personal crusade. 

As much as the Time Agency focused on scientific and technological theory, it really didn’t teach much actual history.  A Time Agent learned what they’d needed to know from one assignment to the next, and that could vary wildly.  Jack’s brain had been filled with such esoteric knowledge from what had caused the American Civil War, to being able to recite the twelve generations of rulers of the planet Szelany up to King Uban the First, who had been the last of his line and who had died spectacularly when he’d tried to convert his royal palace into a spaceship and had paid for substandard spatial sealing on all the windows, which had caused the entire structure to implode once it had hit vacuum.  To say the man had been insane was the understatement of the galaxy.

When Jack had come to Earth and had found himself in 1869, he really hadn’t much of a clue as to what to expect.  He’d had to learn on the fly – which was the sign of a really good Time Agent – and he’d managed to fit in fairly well…until he’d discovered his immortality, of course.  That had started a years’ long bender until he’d finally been caught out by the Torchwood Lesbians in 1899.  At that point it simply wasn’t safe to be showing any form of weakness, and loose lips sank timelines.

It had been bad in the beginning.  Emily Holroyd and Alice Guppy had been quite fond of asking him about future events, and when he claimed not to know they’d done some very creative things to him until they were convinced that he honestly hadn’t a clue.  The questions had petered out after a while, when his colleagues had begun to realise that Jack wasn’t the font of all knowledge where the future was concerned.  Certainly, he could quote chapter and verse on World War Two, but had had no idea there would be a Great San Francisco Earthquake until after the fact.  Certainly there had still been teasing, like Gerald wanting to know the Derby winners for the next ten years, but eventually things did calm down and Jack was allowed to do his job without someone trying to get him to cough up some form of future knowledge.

That wasn’t to say that he never used the information he did have, although that usually extended to future tech and the actual events that he had been a witness to.  So, when Beth Halloran’s arm changed and she seemed to gain an entirely new personality, he’d known exactly what she was.

“She’s a sleeper agent,” he said, once everyone had gathered around the boardroom table.  “It clicked as soon as I saw the implant.”  He turned to Beth, who was sitting in Ianto’s usual chair, the dragon standing behind her with his hand on her shoulder.  Jack knew it was as much for comfort as to keep the woman in place in case she decided to bolt.  “I’m sorry.”

Beth was shaking her head in denial.  “What does that even mean?”

“We’ll show you.  Toshiko?”

The technician tapped a key on her keyboard, and the large screen on the wall flared to life.  It replayed everything that had occurred under the mind probe, and by the time it was finished Beth had gone ashen.   “But what am I?” she asked, distressed.

“Yeah, Jack,” Owen echoed.  “You said you knew.”

Jack wished he didn’t.  But he’d once been sent into a warzone, and he’d seen this first-hand.  He had to fight the shiver that threatened to crawl up his spine; even after so long, those particular memories were still quite vivid.  “No one knows very much, because they don’t usually leave many survivors.  Their official designation is Cell 1-1-4.  They infiltrate planets, adapting their bodies, and gather intelligence, sometimes for years.  They watch, until they’re ready to take over.”

“That’s….creepy,” Gwen murmured.  Jack didn’t miss the glare that Ianto sent her way.  Jack could tell something was going to explode between his Second and the former copper, and personally he thought it was about time. 

“If we’re lucky,” he went on, bringing the meeting back on track, “then Beth is the first.  They send in an advance guard, in order to gather intel.” He turned back to Beth.  “They gave you false memories, the better for you to blend in.”  He felt sorry for the woman; he couldn’t help it.  Beth’s world had been completely destroyed simply because she’d defended her home and her husband.    “Your real self took over briefly and killed the burglars.  It was self-preservation.”

Beth looked totally wrecked.  “Then I did kill those men.”

“I’m afraid so.”

“I’m…some sort of mass murdering alien.”  A single sob escaped her.  “No, not all of my memories could be fake.  I know I love Mike, and Mike loves me.”

 “Of course he does,” Gwen answered stoutly.  “And you, him.”

“So what’s real?”  She looked up at Ianto, and Jack could tell that she was depending on him to honest with her, to tell her everything.  She was practically begging for the truth, and the dragon opened his mouth to speak.

But Gwen beat him to it.

“You both are,” she said.  “You both fell in love.  That happened, which proves that you’re just as human as anyone else.”

“You’re not helping, Gwen,” Ianto growled.  Jack could see the protective instincts rising within his mate, and the anger that her words had engendered.

Beth reached up and put her hand on top of Ianto’s where it still rested on her shoulder.  “It’s okay,” she murmured.  Her dark eyes met Gwen’s.  “I don’t need platitudes from anyone,” she stated.   “I want the complete and utter truth. I need to know what’s going to happen to me and what this…thing is in my arm.  So don’t patronize me, all right?  I’m not human, and I guess I never was.  It doesn’t change how I feel about Mike and my memories of our life together.”  Her face crumpled.  “But we’ll never have what we’d planned and it’s all because some weird alien created Beth Halloran so I could be some sort of spy for their invasion.”

Jack was proud of her, and he suddenly felt cheated that he wouldn’t be able to get to know her. 

Gwen looked as if she’d been slapped, and her eyes widened almost comically.  “You can’t give up hope,” she encouraged.  “We can fix this.”

“No Gwen, we can’t,” Jack told her.  “Technically, Beth Halloran doesn’t exist.  Once the programming takes over we’ll all be in danger.”

“Even now that implant is gathering information,” Toshiko added.  She tapped in a command on her keyboard, and the large screen lit up again, showing flashes of images…some of them looking very familiar.  “It’s all being stored inside, and I’m guessing that when it gathers enough it will transmit it back to their homeworld.”  She brought up a schematic.  “This is a force-field generator.  It creates an impervious layer just above her skin, not even a nanometre thick.  That’s why none of our needles would penetrate.”

The images from Beth’s implant kept playing.  “Damn, they even know about us,” Owen pointed out, obviously recognizing some of what was being shown.

“They know more than I do about this place,” Ianto growled, sounding both angry and scandalised.  “No one knows more about this place than I do!”

Jack would have found his mate’s irritation funny if it weren’t such a desperately bad situation.  The technology in Beth’s arm was steadily tapping into Torchwood’s systems and recording everything that it could find.  It didn’t seem to matter about the security around mainframe; everything was being accessed, unless they could somehow stop it.  “Tosh, can you do something to shore up our security?”

“I’ve been trying ever since I found out about the hacking,” she answered, “but it’s like everything I put into place is somehow bypassed.”

“Can’t you turn it off?” Beth asked worriedly, rubbing her arm roughly.  “I don’t want it doing anything!”

Jack watched Toshiko as she considered the question.  “I can try to isolate the transceiver and fry it with an EM pulse.”

“Won’t that tip whoever it is off?” Owen asked.

“It’s not signaling anyone right now,” she answered.  “I’m not sure about what will happen if she activates.”

“Then we need to find a way to keep her human,” Gwen stated.  “There has to be a way.”

“If you come up with something,” Ianto retorted, “then we’d certainly love to hear it.”

“Enough,” Jack ordered, knowing he’d have to do something to break the tension between the two.  He really should have known this was going to happen at some point, that Ianto would get tired of Gwen’s poking, but the dragon had so much patience that he’d thought his mate would have been able to hold out long enough for them to actually get Gwen to either straighten out or to work out a way to Retcon her that wouldn’t come back to bite them in the ass.  “We need to figure out what to do.”

“Actually,” Owen mused, “I think I might have an idea.”  He paused just long enough to glance around the table.  “Why don’t we freeze her?”

 Jack considered Owen’s suggestion.  It made sense.  If Beth was in cryogenic suspension then she couldn’t activate.  There was no true way to save her; she would always be in deep freeze, but it would mean that they wouldn’t have to kill her.   

“What do you mean?” Beth asked, alarmed.  “You mean, like stick me in a freezer or something?”  

“No, nothing like that,” Ianto assured her.  “We have an advanced cryogenic set-up here.  It would be like falling asleep.”

“But I’d never wake up?” Her tone was bitter. 

“Not until we find a way to keep you from activating,” Gwen answered. 

“That’s if you can.”  Beth turned her gaze to Ianto.  “You have to promise me that you won’t let me hurt anyone.  No matter what happens, if I activate you have to swear you’ll do what it takes to keep me from killing.”

“You’re not going to hurt anyone,” Gwen exclaimed, throwing a dark look toward Ianto.

Jack watched as his mate’s eyes narrowed and he glared at Gwen.  He addressed Beth, however.  “I promise you.  I won’t let you hurt anyone.”

Jack knew exactly what that vow cost Ianto.  He had to have been remembering Lisa, and what he’d had to do to stop her.  Of course he didn’t know Beth as well as he had that other dragon, but that didn’t matter…Ianto would take that vow seriously, no matter the outcome.  Whether it was by making certain Beth remained frozen for eternity, or pulling the trigger…

He wanted to yell at Beth for making Ianto give that promise, but he couldn’t find it in himself to do that.  It was a show of trust that she was giving Ianto, trust that she wasn’t giving anyone else.  He wondered what had gone on down in the interrogation room while he’d been in his office with Gwen.   Something had changed between Ianto and Beth, and while Jack was certainly glad that Beth seemed to be finally accepting the situation as it was, he was worried about his mate and what doing his duty would mean to him.

“I’d really like to see Mike before…”  Beth swallowed hard, her eyes on Jack.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “but we can’t risk it.”

“What would happen if you activated while at the hospital?” Ianto pointed out.

Beth nodded reluctantly.  “I understand.  I just wish…”

“How about a letter?” the dragon suggested.  “Certainly we could get a letter to Mike…?”

Jack frowned.  It was against Torchwood regulations to let an enemy alien contact someone on the outside, but at the same time Beth wasn’t under the control of the cell yet.  Could they really trust her to write something that wouldn’t give things away?

But then, he knew how he’d feel if he was in a situation like this and wasn’t able to contact Ianto, or Alice.  There was no correct answer to her request, and if he was honest with himself he felt guilty about having to sequester Beth away.  There really was no hope that she would ever be able to be brought out of cryogenic suspension.  That much he did know from future experience. 

It might have been kinder to simply shoot her.

“That…should be fine,” he capitulated.  “But you cannot say anything about where you are, and what’s going on.  All you can do is say goodbye.”  He hated to be so tough on her, but there was no alternative. 

Beth nodded.  “That’s all I want.  I just want Mike to know I love him.”

“Ianto can get you paper and pen while we get ready to try to deactivate the implant,” Toshiko said.  She stood, pushing her laptop closed. 

Owen stood as well.  “Then let’s adjourn to my lair,” he replied, trying to inject a bit of comedic horror into his voice.  It failed horribly.

As they left the boardroom, Beth reached over and squeezed Jack’s hand.  “Thank you,” she said sincerely, giving Jack a tired, sad smile.

Jack nodded, watching as the four of them left the room.  That left him and Gwen, and he really didn’t want to be alone with her.  But he had to be clear.  “You’re not helping her.  So stop trying to make things better when they won’t ever be.”

“And it’s helping her by not giving her any hope at all?” she challenged, her hands on her hips.

“It’s a false hope, Gwen,” Jack answered harshly.  “There is absolutely no hope that Beth will ever be free of the cryogenic chamber we’re going to be putting her into.”

“You can’t know that!”

“Yes, I can.  Beth deserves to know everything that’s going to happen to her.  Don’t take away her dignity just because you have to try to make her feel better about losing everything she’s known. So keep your misplaced compassion to yourself for once and let us do what we need to do.”

“I can’t believe you can be this heartless, Jack!”

“And I can’t believe you’re being this willfully stubborn...no, I take it back.  I do.  Everything has to be about how you see things, even when you’re wrong.”  He stepped right up into her space, and to her credit she didn’t back down.  “Not everything is about your personal sense of justice, Gwen Cooper.  If I’d known what I would be getting into when I hired you, I would have upped the Retcon dosage and made absolutely certain you remembered nothing of Torchwood.”

Not wanting to hear anything else she had to say, Jack spun on his heel and left the boardroom.

Chapter Nine

  



Comments

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Retcon her back to childhood, Jack!!! Do it, do it, do it!!!!
LOL! We'll see... *grins*
This conversation is so like the one in the episode and I am so grateful that someone is finally putting Ms. Looney Tunes' comments in their correct context. There was no way Beth Halloran was "human" just because she wanted to be human. Gwen's entire conversation was so insane in the circumstances. Left on her own, Gwen would have let Beth go and she'd have been activated just like the others in her cell. Despite everything Gwen learned, she was still angry that Beth was killed and the others seemed to feel shame for doing what needed to be done. Cooper should never have been fighting aliens 'cause she just doesn't understand what's at stake unless it comes to protecting her own family. She's always shown a willingness to put everyone else at risk. Well done! Now get Jack to fire her butt!
Well, I did follow the conversation as closely as I could, and you're right...Gwen always bothered me with the pep-talk she tried to give Beth, not accepting that there really wasn't any hope for Beth ever to be human. I do think Gwen would have been the one to take Beth to see Mike, and if Beth had activated she never would have accepted the consequences.

We'll see what Jack is going to do. :)
"If I’d known what I would be getting into when I hired you, I would have upped the Retcon dosage and made absolutely certain you remembered nothing of Torchwood.”
Ha! Finally a Jack who's taken the blinder off. ^_^

Now that confrontation, on top of Beth's dressing down, has got to shake Gwen a bit [as her world-view's too strong to actually crumble - at least, right now. :)]
He has, and hindsight is 20/20. *grins*

We'll see how Gwen reacts. You'd think something would eventually penetrate, wouldn't you? :)
Gwen needs to shut up! She doesn't know what she's talking about, and can't seem to accurately judge a dangerous situation, how she was ever able to qualify for the police is beyond me. I'm glad that Beth was told the truth - this situation was never going to end well.
It always bothered me that Gwen was all about being human when all that false hope would just hurt Beth more in the end. Beth completely deserved the truth.
*shivers* Well, going to sleep forever sounds better than dying in my mind, anyway.
I think so too, but this is Jack after all, who can't die, and it's just coloring his perceptions just a bit. He'll have a dragon pull him out of that mood. :)
Hoofuckingrah. Now retcon her arse back to nappies and be done with it!!
Glad you enjoyed that. I know Jack did. *grins*
Great chapter. I always felt sorry for Beth as there really was no way to save her.
K
xx
There really wasn't any way to save her, and it was so sad. She didn't deserve it at all.

Thank you. :)
I wish he had of given her the recon as well grrr Love the update :) Next one soon please hehe
Glad you liked it! Don't worry, more up next week. :)
I am happy to see the dialogue of the episode.
Especially the Reply of Ianto!
I love it when Beth returns at her place Gwen and her sentimentality moved . but, unfortunately, it is useless with a person so limited!
Ianto is perfect. As usual!
Jack finally really opened his eyes to Gwen.
But she is aware that it is a tightrope that is soon broken??
unless a huge reversal of consciousness, for the moment she is sinking ever!

see you soon
Glad you enjoyed it. *grins*

Gwen was just giving her all this false hope, and it just hurt Beth in the end. That always bothered me.

Well, do we really think Gwen would have a complete turnaround? *winks*
I support all those in favour of retconning Gwen back to nappies and beyond..
The Retconning line forms on the right... *laughs*

I never did like Gwen's pep-talk with Beth the woman needed to fear the truth not be fed false hope. I'm glad Beth told her that she didn't need to be patronize.

'Jack could tell something was going to explode between his Second and the former copper, and personally he thought it was about time.' Me too Jack, it's about time Ianto finally spoke up to little miss heart.

Oh Ianto's vow to Beth has me worried what his emotionally state will be by the end, Beth can't be saved and it's going to destory a piece of Ianto when he has to do his duty, at least he has Jack, Tosh and Owen to help him through the aftermath. I really love the fact that Beth is getting a chance to say good-bye to Mike even if it is just a letter at least it's something.
I didn't either, because all Gwen was doing was giving her false hope...and it made it all that worse in the end. I just hated that.

As for Ianto...stay tuned. *grins*

That bothered me too, that she wasn't going to be allowed to say goodbye. Yes, she did escape to the hospital but looked what happened. This is so much better I hope. :)
Nice chapter. I like how Beth trusts Ianto to tell her the absolute truth in the whole situation. I also liked how Beth verbally slapped Gwen down for her false hope and the rose-colored glasses assessment of the situation. I swear that Gwen is still the definition of a teenager- Greek for "rocks in head". Only I think that her head is just plain rock. I will admit that being stubborn is a good thing, but only up to a certain point and she has passed that point. The problem that I see is what is Jack going to do to get rid of her. Too much Retcon can make Rhys and certain police officers suspicious of where she was working, especially now that she's engaged to Rhys. Detective Swanson knows that she's in Torchwood and might support them in how they deal with her insubordination, but PC Andy Davidson only knows that she's in special ops. All three might have to be told about what she's done and help keep her from remembering if Jack does Retcon the eternal mental teenager.

Thank you for the pre-birthday chapter. It was nice to see.
Well, I know what I'd prefer, and that would be the truth. Beth deserved it, and not all that false hope Gwen was handing out.

Yes, being stubborn is a good thing, up until that's all you are and you fight with everything over every little decision. You have to know when to hold your ground...and when to retreat. Gwen had never known how to do that.

Oh, and Happy Birthday! *throws confetti*
Reality check, after reality check, after reality check, and she still doesn't get it. What part of "You don't know what the hell you're talking about" does she not understand? Was she out to lunch when they were doing the mind probe? I could have sworn she was standing right there. I'd love to know how she would go about making sure an alien stays human. That would be a true feat of genius. Maybe she could cure cancer and solve world hunger while she's at it.

I really liked Beth in this scene. The alien, who knows she's not human and could quite possibly hurt a lot of people, wanting the truth and facing it head on even though she's scared shitless. It's too bad they couldn't have helped her. I think she'd have been a much better part of the team than the brainless wonder girl.
Well, it's Gwen. She's never learned when to admit she was wrong unfortunately. It always bothered me that Gwen kept feeding Beth all that false hope and it just made things worse. SO much for compassion.

I'm really glad you liked Beth in this. Yes, it's sad that nothing can be done, but at least she will get to say goodbye to Mike without stabbing him.
I think that if everything goes the same and Ianto has to stop Beth; the set up is perfect for him to go off on Gwen. I am glad that Jack has stopped pulling his punches with Gwen, although even the most brutal of honesty isn't getting through to her! I think that the characterisation of Jack knowing all about the 21st century earth was a little far-fetched. For all of Jack's brilliance he is no the scholarly type - Tosh and Ianto and more the scholarly type - so why would he know the ancient history of a planet that has little to do with him? That said remember how he mentioned Pompeii in his very first Dr Who episode? Imagine Jack in Ancient Rome, he would have been in hog heaven. Maybe you can do a little AU of your AU and have Ianto and Time-Agent Jack meet in Ancient Rome... what fun imaginings! As always I enjoyed the latest chapter and I look forward to the next. :)
Yes, Ianto and Jack both need to quit walking softly around Gwen and get on with it, and we'll see more of that coming up.

I'm glad you think that about Jack. I never could see him knowing everything about the 21st Century; he might know it's when everything changes, but I really had a hard time with him knowing exactly what that change was. He's more of a seat-of-the-pants, think-on-the-fly sort of guy, he'd study what he needed but nothing beyond that.

Oh, Jack would have loved Ancient Rome! He could have gotten away with so much back then. *laughs*


I find Beth very mature in this and the idea of a letter is fantastic, I would have never tought of it.

I wonder if there is anyone who can make Gwen see everything as it really is?

:)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked the letter, and you'll see more of that in the next chapter.

Gwen? Probably not. :)
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