A Good Man – Chapter 23

Two unknown dark-haired women were driving in a car, speeding down a long, empty road in the endless darkness. Maybe they were driving towards a hospital, maybe they were escaping from something one of them had done.

The driver, who was somehow now Gwen Cooper, turned and smiled. “A bit more colour in your cheeks,” she said to the passenger who was now Suzie Costello. Gwen’s own face was getting paler; inversely matching how much Suzie was looking healthier. Gwen’s freckles stood out in sharp contrast to the paleness of her skin.

The car grew colder, the road seemed longer and the darkness seemed impossibly darker.

“When you’re dead… I mean, when you die, what happens?” Gwen asked. “What’s out there?” Because somehow, Suzie had been dead, and now she was alive. Alive, but not quite how they remembered her.

Suzie looked at her chillingly. “Nothing, just nothing. It’s just darkness.”

Outside, darkness followed the car, surrounded it, swallowing everything else up, leaving only the darkness outside the car; a terrible, empty darkness. Suzie opened her mouth to speak again, to tell Gwen that when you’re dead you weren’t alone, there was something out there… in the dark and it was moving, but then, suddenly, there actually was something there with them.

Suzie laughed in triumph, her face growing older, becoming wrinkled, her eyes cruel, and, for a brief moment, she was transformed into an old man. An old man wearing a cravat.

The road in front of them split into two, the earth pushing upwards and knocking the car off to the side of the road. Something rose from the split in the earth and loomed over them. It was huge and dangerous. It looked like something that could suck the life right out of you. It was…

It was coming for Ianto.

Jack held on tightly. He had known from the moment Ianto had started struggling against him that this was going to be a bad nightmare.

“Something’s coming. It’s coming. Something’s coming. It’s coming.” Ianto repeated fearfully, over and over again.

Jack continued holding on to him, making sure he didn’t hurt himself while soothing him as best as he could.

Ianto finally woke, his hands scrabbling wildly over Jack’s shoulders and arms, trying to get a grip on him and draw some strength from him. Jack didn’t resist, not even when Ianto’s grip grew tight enough to be painful; his only priority was making Ianto feel safe and secure again.

“Shh, shh,” Jack said comfortingly. “You’re awake now. Shh.”

All Ianto could do was look back at Jack, his blue eyes wide, his breathing erratic. Jack pulled Ianto’s head down gently to rest on his shoulder. When he felt Ianto’s breathing start to return to normal, he asked Ianto what had happened in the nightmare.

“I don’t know yet,” he was eventually able to say.

“Yet?” Jack questioned.

“Mmm,” Ianto replied. “It’s always like that, the first few times I don’t remember much of what happens. It’s not until I’ve been having the dream for a week or so that I start remembering it all.”

“So this is going to be one of your recurring nightmares then? One that shows something that’s going to happen? Are you sure?”

Ianto looked back at him, a wry smile on his face. “After so many years, I know. It’s usually only the ones that happen straight away that I remember everything the first time it happens. The others tend to reveal themselves a bit at a time.

“This one, it was… all I really remember was that it was dark, and then suddenly something huge was there, and it was coming.”

He didn’t say any more. There was one more thing he remembered from the dream, but he wasn’t quite ready to share that with Jack yet. Suzie was dead but not dead? That aspect of the dream seemed different to the rest, it seemed more of a hint to what could have happened in the past, rather than to something that was yet to happen. That had not happened in his dreams before and he needed some time to process it first.

Ianto rested his forehead back against Jack’s chest, suddenly wanting to – needing to – lose himself in the smell of Jack and the steady sound of his strong heartbeat. He closed his eyes as his hands moved against Jack’s back, enjoying the feel of Jack’s smooth skin against his own as they lay there, lost in their own thoughts.

In the morning, Suzie rang to ask if it would be all right for her and Tosh to have the rest of the week off. She told Ianto that Tosh was not coping as well as they thought she would with recent events, especially the loss of Mary. Suzie said she thought it would be best for her to have a complete break from Torchwood and the Hub for a while. Ianto had Jack check the rift prediction programme and when it seemed there wouldn’t be any rift activity for a while, Ianto was happy to agree.

Ianto was actually rather relieved not to have to face Suzie after the nightmare he’d had. He was feeling a bit out of sorts himself and he wasn’t sure yet how to deal with the nightmare.

Tosh and Suzie being away for the week did mean however that later that day Ianto ended up travelling with the rest of the team after they received a call from the police to report a double murder that had been discovered that looked to be a case for Torchwood. Hopefully this field trip would be a lot less painful for Ianto than the last time he went out with the team. Jack gave him a reassuring smile as they got in the SUV, causing Owen to tell them good-naturedly to get a room, which in turn drew a laugh from Gwen.

Detective Kathy Swanson turned and sighed in dismay as she watched the SUV roar up to the scene with its headlights glaring, even though it was broad daylight, and screech to a halt; she didn’t bother to hide her disdain. There was no love lost between Torchwood and some departments within the police force. Most departments actually.

The appointment of Gwen to Torchwood and her liaising with Andy Davidson had eased the relationship within some areas and Ianto’s presence also would also usually have a positive effect, but for some reason Detective Swanson seemed unusually determined not to like anything to do with them. As she and Jack spoke to each other, the disdain turned into outright hostility and Ianto decided he had better step in.

“I’m the director of Torchwood, Ianto Jones,” he stated, stepping in between the detective and Jack and holding his hand out to shake.

Swanson continued to glare a Jack a moment longer, before reluctantly turning her gaze to Ianto. “Pleased to meet you,” she replied, sounding anything but.

She gave the team a run down of what had happened, including the previous day’s practically identical, murder of Alex Arwyn. Swanson withheld one last piece of information back though, judging that it would have a far greater impact if they saw it for themselves.

She was right. The entire team stopped in shock when they saw the murder scene, all suddenly realising the cause of Swanson’s hostility. The killer had painted “Torchwood 6” on the walls in the victims’ own blood.

Clearing the room of all the police in the room caused another round of hostilities between Jack and Detective Swanson. Jack saw Owen smirking out the corner of his eye.

“Losing your touch there, Harkness?”

Jack just glared back at him.

“Still,” Owen continued as he shut the door behind the detective. “At least we’ve got a head start. If it’s someone we’ve pissed off, that narrows it down to… ooh, four or five million.”

Jack looked briefly at Ianto. “And that’s just the humans.”

They began to speculate on what the “6” stood for. Was it because there were six of them? Was there a Torchwood 6 branch they weren’t aware of?

After Gwen and Owen had gathered all the evidence they wanted from the scene and had arranged for the bodies to be transported back to the Hub, Jack told them to pack up, eager to get away from the judgemental stares of Swanson’s team. Ianto however told them to check through the whole house first. He wanted them to gather as much information as they could about the Briscoes. He had a feeling that they wouldn’t find anything useful left in the house if they had to go back in later, judging by the hostility from Detective Swanson. He left them going through the house while he spoke to Swanson again; wanting to know what information the police had managed to dig up. After Gwen and Owen came back from gathering various items, he told Owen that Retcon had been found in the murderer’s DNA profile.

After that, they left the scene, wanting to go back to the Hub and start their investigations. Ianto sent the information they had collected through to Suzie as well, just in case anything rang a bell for her.

Suzie read through the email from Ianto and logged off, deep in thought.

Tosh was lying on the couch watching some mindless daytime TV soapie, not really paying attention to much of anything. Despite Suzie’s earlier phone call to Ianto, it was actually Suzie who had had the restless night, not Tosh. Thankfully though, when she had suggested they take the week off together Tosh had agreed, without pushing for a reason why, making it easy for Suzie to steer the conversation away from topics she didn’t want to discuss. As far as Tosh was concerned, it had been a while since either of them had had a break and a chance to spend some time together was certainly welcome.

Suzie had by now had five visions of the glove and knife, but was no closer to working out what they actually were. After each of the visions, she had also found herself standing in front the drawer where she had found herself in front after the original vision.

Suzie decided to go and check her mailbox. She didn’t get many letters through the post, but her bills seemed to be never-ending and there always seemed to be something in there.

Suzie took her mail out of the mailbox only to realise she had been standing there, staring aimlessly into space with the mail still in her hand, for at least several minutes. She counted the envelopes in her hand. There were six of them. She sat down on a lounge chair not far from Tosh, feeling distracted and mildly disjointed. There was something lurking at the back of her mind trying to get her attention but she just wasn’t sure what it was or even what it was related to.

She thought about the number six and wondered again why the number six had been written on the wall at the Briscoe’s house. She still had the envelopes in her hand. She thought about the drawer upstairs. Six. The envelopes were still in her hand. Six. Envelopes. No, not envelopes, envelope. Singular. There was one…

She remembered with a jolt that there was an envelope in the drawer upstairs. The same drawer where she had ended up after each vision of the glove and knife. One that she herself had placed there. Six months ago or thereabouts.

With another glance at Tosh, she went upstairs and finally opened the drawer. There was indeed an envelope there. One on which Suzie had written that it was not to be opened for six months. She took the envelope out of the drawer.

Opening the envelope, she found a letter she had written to herself and a clear plastic evidence bag with a square of metal inside it. She rubbed her thumb across the bag where the metal was but decided to read the letter before opening the evidence bag.

The letter said that when she touched the metal it would hopefully help her to break through the retcon Torchwood had forced (forced?) her to take. She would need to get the glove and the knife from out of the Secure Archives. She had included the codes to the Secure Archives; she wasn’t supposed to have those codes as they had been changed the day Ianto started and she had written in the letter that she hoped that Ianto wouldn’t have changed the codes again since then.

When she finally took the metal out of the bag and touched it, she had a very similar reaction to it that Ianto did six months earlier when he picked up the glove. Except where Ianto had been horrified by what he saw, to Suzie, the visions felt familiar and comforting. And as she had hoped six months ago, touching the metal square did help her break through the remaining effects of the retcon, and suddenly the meaning of the visions of the glove and knife all made sense. She stood up abruptly; she had to get back to the Hub before they found Max.

Ianto was working in his office, trying to track down the significance of the number six when he heard a rattling coming from the secure archives. It eventually got loud enough to bring the others into the office. They all looked at the safe and then each other in confusion. Ianto got up to open the safe and they saw straight away which container it was that was causing the noise.

Jack pulled out the container that held both the glove and the knife, not wanting Ianto anywhere near them. Opening the container, they were shocked to see the fingers of the glove wriggling, almost like someone was wearing it.

Gwen turned to Ianto. “Isn’t that the glove Suzie was working on a while ago? Why was it locked in the safe?” Gwen was the only one present who didn’t know what Suzie had intended to do under the influence of the glove.

Ianto reluctantly began to tell Gwen the full story. Gwen was furious at him. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she demanded.

Ianto sighed internally. “I had my reasons,” he said shortly.

Gwen had just opened her mouth to argue with Ianto when they were all distracted by the sound of the cogwheel door alarms sounding. They turned and saw Suzie entering the Hub, Tosh following close behind her.

Suzie looked up as they all stared back down at her. She took a deep breath and then surprised them all by saying “I know who the murderer is.”

Ianto and Suzie had been shut in his office for over an hour. The other four sat in the Hub, no one speaking, all wondering what was going on.

The door to Ianto’s office finally opened up and Ianto stormed out. “Owen!” he yelled. “Take her downstairs and put her in a cell.” He ignored the look of surprise on all of their faces and went back into his office. When Owen came and took Suzie away, Ianto was about to slam his office door shut again but stopped and called for Jack to come up instead.

Tosh and Gwen sat there, both wondering just what the hell was going on. When Owen came back, he wasn’t able to shed any light on the matter as neither Ianto nor Suzie had said anything to him about their conversation.

“Where’s Jack?” he asked, even though he was fairly sure he knew the answer.

“He’s up there,” Gwen pointed to Ianto’s office.

“Hell of a time for a shag!” he replied.

Gwen smiled half-heartedly.

When Jack finally came back down, he told Owen and Gwen to gear up. They were going to the Wolf Bar to find a Lucy Mackenzie. He turned to Tosh and smiled sympathetically at her.

“Ianto needs to speak to you.”

The trip to the Wolf Bar went successfully enough. After one mistaken identity, they managed to find Max Tresillian just in time to save Lucy Mackenzie’s life. While they were driving back from the club, Jack filled Owen and Gwen in on what had happened in Ianto’s office. He also told them that Suzie was now officially suspended and all her access to Torchwood systems had been revoked.

They put Max into a cell on a separate floor to Suzie while they discussed what to do next. Ianto sent Jack and Gwen to take Suzie to the Interrogation Room to formally interview her. Ianto knew he had no choice but to take some form of disciplinary action against her. With the murders that had happened, there was no way he could simply retcon her and hide it away. Murders had happened because of a Torchwood staff member, and that had to be dealt with.

When Jack had heard enough, he left her there with Gwen while he went to report back to Ianto. Gwen stayed with Suzie, wanting to know more about what had happened. She didn’t understand how Suzie had gone from investigating the alien technology to instigating a series of murders.

Suzie didn’t really know what to say to her that would satisfy her curiosity, but as long as Gwen was content to stay down there talking to her, she figured that she may as well try and turn it to her advantage. She had worked with Gwen long enough to know which buttons to press.

Suzie suppressed a triumphant laugh when Gwen returned to the Interrogation Room after supposedly going to make a coffee for them both, but instead had brought back the keys to unchain her from the chair.

Ianto, Jack, Owen and Tosh looked up in surprise as the alarms were set off. Tosh scanned the Hub to see what was going on and immediately realised that neither Gwen nor Suzie were still in the Hub.

“What’s she doing?” Owen asked as they looked at the footage of Gwen bundling Suzie into her car.

“Getting herself fired,” Jack replied grimly.

Jack and Owen were getting themselves ready to go after them when all of a sudden all the doors locked and the entire Hub was plunged into darkness.

“Ianto? Ianto!” Jack shouted.

“Captain,” Ianto replied as he walked towards them. He raised the torch he was carrying as Jack approached him.

“What happened?” Jack asked.

“But, I thought you must’ve done it,” Ianto said in confusion. “We’ve gone into lockdown.”

“Then can’t you reverse it?” Jack asked.

“I can’t. It’s 100%. The doors are sealed. We’re locked in.”

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