Characters/pairing: Jack/Ianto, Ianto/Lisa, Gwen, Owen, Tosh
Warnings: Spoilers for 2x12 Fragments
Author’s note: HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DIVERGENT BOOK/MOVIE FRANCHISE. Written for the comment_fic prompt ‘any/His Dark Materials, 5 people who were surprised by the form their daemons took when they settled, and one who wasn't.’ I didn’t actually do the +1, because there are five main characters on Torchwood and it felt superfluous. Fills the ‘Hugs’ square of my hc_bingo card and the ‘Crossover: TV shows & movies’ square of my made up cliche_bingo card.
Summary: Five Torchwood members who were surprised by the form their daemons took when they settled.
The rest of the time, she was a hawk. The rest of the time, he was in mandatory military training, because their planet was under constant attack and everyone needed to be ready. Jack's daemon could fly a few feet above the soldiers' heads to survey the area and had talons and a beak sharp enough to take care of any attackers.
When Jack was a child and went by a different name, his daemon spent most of her time as a peacock. He calls her Anna, now, but at that point she, too, had a different name, one that Gray would scream with laughter as he chased her huge, waddling body across the beach. She showed off for Gray, because she, like Jack, would do anything to make him happy.
When Jack and his best friend were captured in a mission gone wrong, his daemon hid, a ladybug within his fatigues. He could feel her trembling through the torture, as he watched Em die. Once their interrogators left, as Em took his last shuddering breaths, Jack's daemon flew over to him, stretching the length of the bond, and turned into a soft gray and brown tabby cat. She licked the feathers of Em's unconscious sparrow daemon and twined herself through Em's legs. His breathing settled, and then stopped.
When Jack's father died, when Gray was taken, when his mother stopped seeing him, he signed up for the Time Agency. A hawk daemon would be most efficient, he decided. No more games of chase the peacock. That time was over. But his daemon stared up at him with slit-pupiled yellow eyes and he knew that Fate had chosen.
The next century brought Jack more hell than he could have imagined. Disgraced, displaced, trapped in ancient times, he wished he had his hawk's resilience or his peacock's disdain for the affairs that tore at Jack's heart year after year after cold, empty year. Instead, after every heartbreak, his daemon would curl up on top of him and wash him of his tears, and it was nearly enough.
The day that Erin settled as a labrador, he locked himself in his room and cried for the first time in ten years, Erin's chocolate fur knotting under his fingers.
From a very young age, Ianto knew his daemon was going to be something special. His father's daemon was a lazy pit bull, his sister's a caring dalmatian, but Ianto knew he was destined for greater things. When he read about James Bond and his sleek lion daemon or watched cops on the telly with proud eagles on their shoulders, he knew that one day, he would be as impressive as them.
Once he recovered from the shock, Ianto had to admit that Erin's new form fit him. He loved to have fun, to have friends, to have a steady life he could feel proud of. He was much more sociable than those eagle daemons, not recklessly brave enough to be a lion. He still dreamed of the day when he would save the world, but they were just dreams.
Discovering Torchwood was his dreams coming to life. At Torchwood, he could save the world, or at least contribute to it, and still work a nine-to-five and go out partying with his girlfriend. At Torchwood, Ianto learned to be proud of his dog nature instead of ashamed, and with Lisa, he learned that both he and Erin were beautiful.
When Ianto saw Lisa in the conversion machine, Leanord a bloody pile of scales at her feet, it was like a dagger through the heart. He got her out of the Tower, got her to Cardiff, stabilized, planned and thought and prayed and it took two days to see Erin's change.
His loveable labrador was gone forever. In her place was a lean, pale greyhound who stared up at him with eyes more steady than stone.
When Lisa cried, Erin should have whined and licked her fingers, done silly tricks to make her laugh. Instead, she sat a few feet from the conversion unit, keeping watch as Ianto tried his best to save her. Occasionally, Erin nudged Leanord with her nose, but she never spoke to him, never tried to wake him or comfort Lisa, and Ianto started to hate her again.
After Lisa's final death, Erin stood silent watch while Ianto laid in bed for days, laid on the couch for days, cried and shouted and composed sorry love poems. He screamed at her for not speaking, and she apologized, dark eyes huge and empty, and said that she didn't know what to say anymore.
Erin was silent when they returned to work, and Ianto was not much better. He tried to avoid Jack, tried to avoid his colleagues, and tried to avoid Erin, the unavoidable reminder that he was nothing but a shadow of his formal self, utterly pointless without Lisa to care for and abandoned to an aimless life. He couldn't stand the sight of her.
It wasn't until Jack left, and came back, and broke down in Ianto's arms in the two-bed hotel room that he heard Erin speak. She curled her long, thin body around the shaking ball of fluff that was Anna and lapped at her fur, murmuring promises of love and loyalty until the cat daemon quieted. Jack and Ianto watched in silence as their daemons found peace together.
Ianto found he could forgive himself for changing, since his new self loved just as strongly as the man he had been before.
Gwen's Maximilian spent a lot of time as a German Shepherd, when he wasn't flitting between every other form that caught his attention. One day he would be a polar bear and Gwen his warrior queen, the next a toucan while Gwen ran about in the garden. As they grew older, Maxi spent more time as a hornet or a badger; Gwen hated seeing bullies at school and made it a point to stand up to any she saw.
When Gwen was very young, her day-care teacher Janet had a German Shepherd daemon. Arthur was a white and brown three-foot-tall teddy bear who all the children loved. As Gwen's class was made of three- and four-year-olds, sometimes a child would forget that Arthur was a daemon and throw themselves on the dog's silky-furred back. Janet and Arthur were always gentle and understanding when such an event occurred, and Gwen decided that when she grew up, she would be a wonderful teacher with a gentle daemon just like Arthur.
Maybe it shouldn't have been such a surprise when Maxi, after raking eagle claws down a warthog daemon's side, declared that he liked this form the best.
Gwen's parents were shocked, of course. Their sweet daughter, with her top grades, her aspirations to become a teacher, settling with a law enforcement daemon? Of course, such things were not set in stone, they assured her; she could still follow her dreams.
But Gwen didn't want to be a teacher anymore. Maxi was strong and brave and honest, and maybe she wouldn't be nurturing little children, but she would be protecting innocents. Maybe, Gwen decided, she was meant to be police the whole time. It was just a matter of finding her way.
For all her noble ideas, police work just didn't suit Gwen. There was far too much regulation, paperwork, too much interaction with criminals and not enough with the people they were meant to protect. And in the end, there were too many unsolved cases, too many criminals they couldn't prosecute, too much they couldn't do.
Torchwood was a way out. Jack wasn't as idealistic as Gwen, but he was noble in his own way. He would protect people at all costs, he was just too unwilling to try and save everyone, too quick to sacrifice the few for the good of the many. But Gwen wasn't put off. Nowhere was perfect, but at Torchwood, she could do the work she was born to do, and make the world a better place.
Outside, among the neighborhood toughs, Owen got picked on for being small and mouthy and unwilling to grovel in the dirt for safe passage. At school, he got picked on for being smart and mouthy and unwilling to keep his observations to himself. At home, he got picked on for everything and everything, and for being a waste of space to boot. He grew a tough outer shell, made one or two good friends, and learned that digging your nails into someone’s wrist and holding on tight, or a straight punch to the neck, were worth far more than turning the other cheek or fighting fair. A reputation for dirty fighting, a tongue sharper than a penknife, and Malaika, forever a cougar at his side, kept people far enough away that he didn’t have to deal with them.
Owen grew up in a tough part of London. It doesn’t take a psychologist to know that a lot of his instinctive spikiness, the confrontational nature that has won him a fair share of enemies, is an early-developed defense mechanism earned from the concrete jungle that was his neighborhood, and the minefield that was his family home.
One day when Owen was fifteen, he watched as his former bullies shove a man into an alley, stab him in the gut, and run away with his wallet and his keys and his watch. More afraid than he’d let himself feel in years, he crept into the alley and watched the man writhe on the ground. Blood was pumping from his stomach like an overflowing sewer, and it felt like a dream when Owen took off his hoodie and pressed it over the wound.
It’s too late, the man told him, breathing harshly, head resting on old, pale pavement. I’m a doctor, I can tell. He laughed.
Owen pressed harder.
When the man’s skin was the same shade as the pavement, his rooster daemon pecked gently at Owen’s side. Thank you, the man whispered. For letting me-- see something beautiful.
Owen looked: Malaika had landed on the man’s knee, a blue, green, red, and yellow butterfly. When the man’s breath stopped, Owen knew she had settled.
He wrote about that day when he applied to medical college.
Instincts don’t die, though, and Owen always felt defensive about his daemon. He knew people made certain assumptions when they saw her, and even if they didn’t make those assumptions, they made others. Not that he cared what people thought. In any case, he felt a bit naked without Malaika’s sleek fur, her strength at his side. It was Katie who told him that Malaika embodied strength by showing her true nature to the world and thriving despite the ugliness that surrounded her. He thought that was ridiculous and cheesy and stupid, but when Katie said it, running her finger along just the very edge of Malaika’s wing, he couldn’t do anything but believe her.
When Katie died, Malaika’s colors faded. He got angry at the world again, more than ever, and bared his teeth the way Malaika couldn’t, anymore.
When he met Toshiko, Malaika’s colors started growing vivid again. It made Owen nervous, and he didn’t acknowledge it, and Malaika, ever the strong and silent type, humored him by not mentioning it.
One day, when Owen was thirty-five, Malaika landed on Tosh’s shoulder at lunch, bright and beautiful. Tosh gasped quietly, and Owen turned bright red, but the anger had faded, leaving room for beauty again.
The daemons of computer programmers, engineers, and inventors were usually small animals, often birds, insects, or reptiles. While Kai was expected to take the form of a puppy of some sort in public, when her nursemaids let her play alone with circuit board in her room, Kai turned into a beetle and crept around wires and under partitions. Tosh loved getting Kai’s descriptions of the insides of machines, and Kai loved playing games and flying around with a quiet whirr.
Military daemons were around 80 percent dogs, for better or worse. Toshiko’s father had a proud Weimaraner that dominated any other daemon around it, but still played with Tosh and Kai. Her mother had a Mastiff, who never played with Tosh because they were rarely in the same house at the same time.
As she grew older, Tosh had school, and supervised dates, and not that many friends, and computers, and maths. Her parents supported her getting her degree; the RAF loved science degrees, and who knows, maybe she’ll meet a good man there. Kai spent most of his time as a beagle, but in private he still turned into a beetle, and that was all the confirmation Tosh needed that something was wrong with her, neurotic or insane or something.
The offer from the Ministry of Defense was a Godsend. It was for Queen and Country, so her father stopped grumbling, and it paid well, so her mother didn’t look down her nose. Tosh kept her head down and worked on her projects on the side, and never published a single paper outside her program.
In the cell where she spent twelve months, Kai huddled up to her for a month and a half as a beagle, licking her for comfort. After that, he spent six months as a beetle, tickling her wrists and neck. One day she felt a soft scratching inside her shirt and knew he had changed, and would never change again.
Kai didn’t let anyone see him until after six weeks at Torchwood. The first time Suzie saw the venemous brown spider crawling up Tosh’s arm, she smirked. Jack said you were a fighter, she said quietly.
Jack didn’t figure out what Kai was for a few weeks. Tosh could tell by the way he looked at Kai differently. Owen and Gwen never really figured it out. Jack told Owen, Tosh overheard, trying to earn Tosh a little respect, which anyone could have told him was a bad idea. Ianto, Tosh suspected, Googled everyone’s daemons early on, because he always treated her with a sort of wary respect that eventually gave way to friendship.
Tosh never wanted a violent life; she would have been more than happy as a normal, boring computer programmer, with Kai her goofy flying friend. But life led them somewhere else, and she was capable of taking it as it came.