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Dragon-Verse icon

To Be Human - Chapter Eleven

To Be Human - Chapter Eleven
Author: Milady Dragon
Series: Dragon-Verse
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys, Toshiko/Kathy, Owen/Diane
Warnings: Language, Character Death
Spoilers: Both series up to S2, E2, "Sleeper"
Disclaimer:  I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better. 
Author's note:  This is the Dragon-Verse version of "Sleeper".    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

 

Ianto held on for dear life as Jack floored the SUV along the dirt road, toward the farm where the last sleeper agent was heading.

He glanced back at Beth; she looked scared, but determined, and Ianto couldn’t have been more proud of her for helping them stop what was about to happen.  It had to be hard, fighting off whatever was trying to activate her, but she was doing it admirably.  He only hoped it would continue.

They passed a sign proclaiming that trespassers would be shot, and Ianto wondered if that was what all the shooting had been about earlier.  Their suicidal drive had gone on in silence after that, except for several beeps from Beth’s arm implant.  She didn’t say anything, and so Ianto assumed that it was something to do with the implant and not what was going on up the road ahead of them.

He thought about what they’d discovered about the old mine.  Ianto knew that Jack had every reason to be mad about it; Torchwood was technically the authority in the area when it came to alien threats, and if an invading force gained control of those nuclear warheads – like they were doing at this very moment – then Torchwood should have been read into their presence. 

While there hadn’t been nuclear power back in the past, Ianto was completely certain this was one thing on the short list of things that could kill him.  Then he wondered about Jack, and if being blown apart by such an explosion would end him for the final time.

He shivered.

He didn’t want to think about that.

“We’re almost there,” Jack growled.  The SUV went faster, if that were possible.

“Do we have any sort of plan?” Ianto asked, pitching his voice as if they were simply on their way to dinner instead of a possible apocalypse.

“Not really, no,” Jack answered. 

The vehicle shot through a pair of wrecked metal gates, wheels spinning on the sudden appearance of gravel under the tires.

“There he is!” Beth exclaimed, her finger pointing from the back seat.

Ianto looked in the direction she was pointing.  A man was striding across the gravel parking area toward a large building that would have fit in with the abandoned farm look if not for what resembled some fairly high-tech security gear around it.

“How about this for a plan?” Jack aimed the SUV’s front bumper right for the intruder, who was ignoring their approach.

The SUV struck the man, sending him up onto the bonnet and then off, rolling across the ground.

Ianto didn’t think.  He was out of the car even before Jack had rolled it to a halt, triggering his transformation into his true form.  The dragon flapped his wings once and then pounced onto the still-moving terrorist, pinning him to the ground with one large claw.

The alien looked…well, normal.  The dragon doubted he would have given him a second glance if they passed each other on the street.  In his forties, with dark hair and eyes, he resembled one of any number of businessmen that occupied offices in downtown Cardiff. 

But then the iron scent of blood reached the dragon’s sensitive nose, and he noticed the red stains on his white shirt, and knew this was the alien, and a killer, plain and simple. 

His prisoner began to thrash, and the dragon pressed down on his body to keep him still.  As he watched, the alien’s arm transfigured itself into a blade, and the dragon had to twist out of its way to avoid being stabbed without letting up on his grip.

“Jack!” he called out, needing his mate to get there and help.

“I’m here,” Jack answered, kneeling next to the struggling alien.  He immobilized the knife-arm by the easy stint of putting his knee onto the terrorist’s shoulder, and began to run their scanner over the implant.

“You can’t stop us,” the man ranted.  “We know what your weaknesses are, even yours, dragon!  We know who you are.  We received a lot of information before you switched her off.  You’ll all be factored into our plans!”

The dragon growled, showing his teeth.  “And we’ll be ready for you,” he promised.  It shouldn’t have surprised him that they knew about him, since Beth had been transmitting information from the Hub’s computers, and yet it did.  He’d mistakenly thought that Owen’s scans on him would be untouchable by anyone hacking in, but then he hadn’t considered a high-tech terrorist cell.  He was going to talk to Toshiko about even more encryption, since he didn’t want just anyone to know how to kill him.

The terrorist laughed.  “No one is ready for us!”

“Don’t count on it,” Jack answered.  “We know how to counter you now.  We’ll stop you.”   He stood up, pocketing the scanner.  “In fact, you’ll find your transmitter is now dead, along with your force field generator.”

“You’re lying,” the alien snarled.

The dragon twitched a claw, puncturing a hole in the struggling man’s shoulder.  “Care to try that again?”

“When are the others coming?” Jack demanded, taking his place by the dragon’s side.   He had his gun out, aimed at their prisoner’s head.

“They’re already here,” was the answer, and the laugh that followed was chilling.

The dragon felt the shock ripple through him, and he could tell that Jack felt the same.  If the invaders were already among them…how were they ever going to find an alien race that were programmed to act completely human until triggered, before it was too late?  It had only been a sheer fluke that they’d discovered Beth.  What would have occurred if those burglars hadn’t broken into the Halloran home?  When would their plan have been put into motion?  Would they have had any warning at all?

“You’ll never take me,” the man added.  He opened his other hand…

To reveal a beeping device that he knew meant them no good at all.

Jack’s eyes widened.  “Run!” he shouted. 

The dragon opened his wings, lifting himself off of their prisoner, who had begun laughing again.  As he gained altitude he could see Jack gather up Beth and drag her along toward the cover of the SUV.

The explosion caught the dragon and pushed him backward, and he would have tumbled if he hadn’t been able to control his momentum with his wings.   “Jack!” he called out, looking for his mate.

“We’re all right,” Jack’s voice answered from the opposite side of their SUV.

The dragon landed on top of the SUV, the vehicle’s reinforced suspension creaking slightly under his weight, and craned his neck down to look at Jack and Beth.  They both appeared to be fine, although Beth’s expression was more of awe than fear.  Her eyes were wide and her mouth had fallen open, but as the dragon watched her expression morphed into a smile.  “You’re a dragon!” she exclaimed.

“I am,” he answered.  “I take it that doesn’t bother you?”

She shook her head.  “Now I get it.  I was wondering why you could sympathise with me the way you were, and now I know.  You’re like me, in a way.  You’re an alien inside a human body.”  Her face fell.  “But at least you won’t change into a cold-blooded murderer like I will.”

“Beth,” he said, his heart going out to her, “you saved the world.  I think that makes you less a cold-blooded murderer than anyone.”

The smile crept tremulously across her lips once more.  “I did, didn’t I?”

“That you did,” Jack answered, putting his arm around her.  “I think you’ve proven that you’re more human than a lot of people out there.”

“But how long with that last?” she asked.  “How long will it be before they try to activate me again?”

“It is exactly that worry,” the dragon said, hopping back down off the SUV and changing back into his ephemeral form, “that makes you very human indeed.”

**********

“Okay,” Owen said, coming up from the Autopsy Bay, “I think we’re good to go now.”

Ianto nodded.  “I’ll go and let Beth know.” 

They’d arrived back at the Hub with the remains of the cell member in the trunk, and they’d immediately tossed them into the incinerator, not wanting to take the chance of anything happening to the corpse.  Whatever information it had managed to gather was gone for good, and that was the best thing for it. 

Beth had been silent but she’d watched the body burn until there was nothing left but ashes.  Ianto had offered her a coffee and she’d accepted, so he’d left her in one of the upstairs labs, where she could look down onto the Hub and yet be on her own.  He was certain she was still processing everything that had happened today, and he wished there was something he could do to help her with this burden.

Jack had suggested cryo-freezing again.  Beth hadn’t seemed happy about the idea, but had finally agreed.  It had taken Owen and Toshiko about an hour to recalibrate everything so they wouldn’t be fooled by any false readings this time.  Ianto wasn’t sure it was the right solution; the problem was, it was the only solution they had.

He made his way up the gantry toward the lab where he’d left Beth.  Through the glass wall he could see Beth…and Gwen.  Ianto growled deep in his throat, lengthening his strides in order to put a halt to whatever mess Gwen was stirring now.

He’d thought he at least partially understood Gwen’s motivations, but now he was beginning to seriously doubt if Gwen even knew what her own issues were.  Ianto had been all for giving her the benefit of the doubt, despite her hearty dislike of him, but this was ridiculous.  Beth didn’t need any of her well-meaning platitudes.  They only muddied the waters and made Beth feel worse than she already did.

He was just at the door when it was flung open, and Beth stormed out, anger etching her already strained features.  “I can feel it,” she snapped, spinning back and pinning Gwen with a glare.  “I can feel it coming, pushing me out…and you want to be my personal cheerleader?”

“We can fight this,” Gwen answered, holding one hand out as if she were soothing a wild beast.  “I know we can.  You’re as human as most of us here.”

“I’m not human!  Why don’t you get that?”

“What the hell is going on?” Ianto demanded, getting between the two women. 

“All I wanted was to be left alone for a while,” Beth replied.  “But she couldn’t even give me that.”

“Gwen?” Ianto turned to his teammate.  “Haven’t you learned that Beth doesn’t want you around?”

“You and Jack have her convinced she can’t fight this…this possession,” Gwen said hotly. 

“She can’t,” Ianto responded.  “As much as I want her to be able to, there will come a time when another activation signal might come, and then Beth will be gone.  Now, we’re going to try the cryonics again with the hope that we might be able to stabilise her personality with some form of future tech, but at this point there’s nothing we can do.  Handing out false hope isn’t the way to go about anything, Gwen.”

“And if the cryonics doesn’t work?” Beth asked imploringly.

“Then you already have my promise, Beth,” the dragon assured her.  “I’ll turn off the machines and let you go in peace.”  He hated to say it, but he owed it to her.

“Of course you can say that,” Gwen snorted.  “You’re not even human.  You don’t know a thing about human feelings.”

“You bitch,” Beth seethed.  “He’s a hell of a lot more human than you are, with your platitudes and your rousing speeches and your refusal to accept the truth about my situation.  He tells me the truth!  Not what you think I want to hear.”

The lights above them flickered, and one bulb blew out.

Ianto’s heart slammed in his chest.  “Beth…you need to calm down.”

“I’m sorry, Ianto,” she said, “but she doesn’t have any idea what it’s like to be human.  You might be a dragon, but you also know what it’s like to be in my situation, where no one understands what it’s like to be something other than normal.  I won’t have her insulting you because she doesn’t get it.”  She glared at Gwen, who was looking at her pleadingly.  “How dare you say Ianto doesn’t understand?  He does, more than anyone here!  He’s treated me with respect, and all you’ve done is give me your pity.”

The lights flickered once more.

More quickly than Ianto could move, Beth’s arm had converted to its blade form.  With her free hand she grabbed Gwen by the shoulder, and rested the sharp blade against Gwen’s neck.  Gwen’s eyes went wide in disbelief.  “You don’t want to do this,” Gwen gasped.

“How do you know I’m still Beth?  How do you know the alien hasn’t been released?”  Her voice sounded harsh and flat, as if someone else was speaking through her.  Her posture had stiffened as well.

Ianto had his hand under his jacket, automatically reaching for his gun.  He could see that it was, indeed, Beth Halloran standing there, her knife blade at Gwen’s throat, even though she looked more composed than she had in the entire time Ianto had known her. 

She’d made her decision about her life.

“Beth,” he sighed.

She turned her dark gaze on him.  “I will kill her if you don’t stop me.  I won’t let you freeze me again!”

Oh Gods and Goddesses, this was not what he’d expected when he’d come up to fetch her.  This wasn’t what Ianto wanted.  Even though he really hadn’t held up much hope for her complete recovery, Ianto had at least hoped for the chance to try.

It looked as if Beth was taking matters into her own hands.

His gun was out before he could think about what he was doing.  “Back away, Beth,” he ordered.

“Don’t do this!” Gwen cried.  “She wants you to kill her!”

Ianto was well aware of that fact; he didn’t need Gwen to state to obvious.  The last thing he wanted to do was pull the trigger, but Beth was forcing his hand.

This was what Beth wanted, and Ianto had promised her.

“I will kill her!” Beth screamed, as she raised her blade to strike.

The sound of the gunshot echoed through the Hub.



Chapter Twelve



Comments

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ARGH! You left it there? *tears hair out* Tell me whoever shot missed and got Gwen instead?
Does it help to say I'm working on the next chapter now?
Ah, Stupor Cooper strikes again. I do hope it was not Ianto, but Jack who pulled the trigger. Heaven knows, if Ianto shot Beth then it will be just one more thing that Gwen will hold against him, and we all know she won't accept her own culpability in pushing Beth over the edge.

What an awesome, if still heart-breaking chapter this was, and I loved the verbal serve that Beth gave to Gwen. Should have happened in the episode, but sadly we had to wait until 'Adrift' before Gwen got the verbal dressing-down that she really needed.

Excellent chapter, and I will be heartily looking forward to the next one.

Edited at 2012-11-16 01:57 am (UTC)
Gwen is stubborn, and she just doesn't know when to quit.

We'll see who exactly pulls the trigger in the next chapter. Hopefully it'll be a surprise. *grins*

I always thought Gwen should have gotten told off a lot earlier than she was. She just kept up with the same behavior and no one seemed to care. It really irritated me.

Thanks, next one up soon. :)
This is a real shame. Beth needed an understanding friend and Gwen showed up. Dag.
Yes, well...it is Gwen we're talking about. She just doesn't take no for an answer. Glad you liked it. :)
I'm with Remuslives...let the bullet miss Beth and hit Gwen - please LOL Stupid, self-righteous cow that she is.
She really is, isn't she? *winks*

We'll see about that shot later. :)
Such a sad circumstance, this was a no win situation. It's a shame that Gwen couldn't just keep away from Beth - if she wanted some time alone, then no one should have interrupted her. I am curious as to what Jack's going to do about her interference.
It really was a no-win situation. There was no way anyone was coming out unscathed. Yeah, well Gwen always thinks she's doing the right thing...even when it's wrong.

Jack has a few things to say...in the next chapter. :)
wow! Smack-down! Beth 2 (or is it 3?) & Gwen -3 and dropping

Love Beth. "He tells me the truth! Not what you think I want to hear." and "He’s treated me with respect, and all you’ve done is give me your pity." A lesson in how to say a lot with so few words. :)

Could never believe someone could be so...thick. Gwen's changed my opinion.

....
aaaaarrgh!a cliff-hanger! Nooooo!
Now we gotta _wait_ to find out who got shot, and by whom.

Ah, well. It'll be worth the wait. Always is :)
I do believe it's Beth 3, Gwen negative infinity. *laughs*

That's our Gwen unfortunately. It's really a shame. Or maybe not, I guess it depends on your point of view.

I know, I'm a horrible person leaving a horrible cliffhanger, but I am working on the next chapter, so hopefully you won't have to wait long.

And I really laughed at your icon. LOL!
I prefer it when Ianto keeps the abroad! At least Jack has not be killed this time!
Finally, someone told Gwen her four truths and it's not a member of the team. In addition Beth really knows what she's talking!
Beth said that is so true: Gwen gives only false pity and not the real compassion as the other.
nevertheless I am not sure Gwen hear and understand that she has all wrong.

Who fired? Ianto, Jack, Tosh, Owen? or ... why not .. Gwen? we can always hope! ;-))

I hope this is not Ianto! or Gwen will still find more reason to be wary of him!

except , at least if they killed Gwen but I do not believe it too. Beth wanted to die. There is no way that Jack and Ianto did not keep their promise.

Grand Chapter (as usual!)
Wait for the next. ;-))
We don't know who took the shot...yet... *winks*

Beth did want to die. She'd had enough. It was her decision.

More up soon. Thanks! :)
God... Just... Shoot Gwen instead.
But that would make things too easy on Gwen! Although I can see the attraction to it, I really do. :)
Wow! Intense, I was hoping that Ianto wouldn't be put in this position. Poor thing. However his honour will force him into something terrible. I think the only salvation for that horrible guilt is the knowledge that Beth chose this and wanted Ianto to keep his word. I am glad to see Ianto's dragon self though, it has been a while since we have see him - probably because this particular story is all about being human (another UK television show which is awesome! If you haven't seen it, do, it is amazing!). I am really looking forward to the next chapter. :)
Well, we don't know who made the shot yet...but yes, Ianto had given his word and he would do his best to keep it.

Yeah,I know it's been a while since the dragon's been around, but you have to admit it comes out just when it needs to. *grins*

More up soon. :)
Oh dear it was alwasy going to end like this. You gave Beth the humanity she needed and deserved and helped her save the day. At least in the end she made her own decisions and Ianto was there to help her to understand. Great chapter.
K
xx
Yep, afraid so. But we don't know who took the shot yet...Beth needed to save the day, to give her the confidence to do what she wanted to. And Ianto does, indeed, understand.

Thank you, hon. :)
*please let him have missed*
*please let him have missed*
*please let him have missed*
*please let him have missed*
and hit gwen instead...
LOL! But that would be too easy! *winks*
aww poor Beth. Always felt sad for her. Sigh i really was hoping Ianto was too late with the shooting hehe
I know, I do feel bad for her. We'll see about the shooting soon though.
Great chapter as always. I don't think it matters if Ianto took the shot or not. Gwen has already made up her mind about him. I don't see where anything short of a brain transplant will change it. Even if he didn't take the shot, she will lay it at his door anyway. After all, he made the promise and pulled his gun. She's so delusional she'll probably think her pep talk was getting through. (shakes head at Gwen's stupidity).

Can't wait till next week. Looking forward to it.
You're right, it really didn't matter who pulled the trigger at this point. Gwen will be Gwen.

The next update should be up tomorrow, I think... :)
This has me holding my breath on who did the shooting and who was shot. Almost wish it was two shots with Gwen being nicked for being an idiot. Bet she would blame Ianto for the nick though even if it came from someone else's gun. I kinda figured that Beth was going to walk down this road no matter how much she and Ianto didn't want her to. The note she left for Mike was more of a suicide note than something saying she had an inoperable disease and it was killing her. Beth making sure that Ianto would kill her if she became a danger just clicked in with her suicide by Torchwood attempt. Now we just have to see if Ianto or Jack killed her or just winged her.
I know, I'm evil. But you won't be in suspense much longer, I promise.

Beth really didn't have much choice, and at least this way she gets to go out a hero and not a victim.

We'll see who pulled the trigger soon. :)
It was good that Beth got to help stop the sleeper agent and died with the knowledge that she'd saved the Earth. It's too bad it had to end this way for her, but there really wasn't an alternative.

Gwen is so full of herself. She always thinks she has the answer to every problem and she's everyone's savior. She desperately needed the reality check by Beth only I doubt it'll do any good. She just keeps spewing that hateful bullshit at Ianto that makes me want to slap her. As others have said, I hope it didn't come down to Ianto having to be Beth's executioner, but it won't matter to Gwen either way. She'll still blame him for it in the end when it was more her fault than anyone because she just couldn't give up the idea that she was right, again.
She really was a hero, but there was only one way this could have ended, unfortunately.

This is Gwen for you. Jack has a few more things to say to her in the next chapter. :)
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