It was always a simple enough concept: if someone needs help, you help them. Before Torchwood, that was a given in my line of work. That's what I was there for. It's a hard habit to break, and one I've never wanted to. But here, with what we do, the things we're dealing with... it gets complicated.
It started off simply enough; we were just following a signal, just chasing some kid in a jacket because whatever he had with him was alien. We didn't know who he was, or even what the thing was. We just were supposed to catch him and get that thing out of reach from the general public. Protecting people from this stuff -- often from themselves, given what people do with these things without knowing -- that's what we do. It's a different way of helping.
Some days I don't think it's enough.
It started with the push of a button. Don't even know why I did it, really. It was just there, and I wasn't thinking about what it might do. I just felt ... like it wanted me to push it. All that blinking and flashing... oh, it sounds bloody stupid now, but it was such a strong impulse that I never even questioned it until much, much later, long after Ed Morgan was dead. Long after I killed him -- and you can save your comforting speeches, I've given them all to too many people not to hear the lie in your voice. I killed him, even if the only thing I did wrong was push a stupid button, see what I thought was the ghost of a little boy, and want to help.
Turns out he didn't need my help, or anyone else's. He was a 74-year-old man with a sad story, but he was fine. I should've left it at him, probably. I would've left it, but Jack pushed us to find more, to find the kid, was so concerned with that and only that he didn't care about what Owen saw. Didn't care about Ed Morgan or what he did. Didn't care about the dead girl, Lizzy. It was all in the past, so it didn't matter, and we were left chasing down a nineteen year old kid who didn't even know what it was.
He said he was going to die. That the other half of the ... thing, whatever it was, when he used it it showed him that he was going to die. Here was someone in the present, in there here and now, not forty or fifty years ago but right now who needed my help. Of course I pushed the button.
And saw myself. Hands bloody, holding a knife, begging for help. Not the kid, not Bernie Harris, but me, talking about how it was too late, how Owen had the knife. How someone died. I couldn't say why Owen would've wanted to kill Bernie Harris, but then who knows why Owen does anything, right?
By the time it all started to click together it was already too late. I just didn't know. I saved Bernie Harris, nasty little bugger that he was. I helped him, and it should've ended at that. But it wasn't enough. Owen got the knife, decided he wanted to scare the old man some more -- not that Ed Morgan didn't deserve that and more for what he did, but it's not our place. We're not the police, and even if we were, it's not our place to punish people.
I killed Ed Morgan. Some would say he killed himself, and that's as true as anything else. I only wanted to help, and some would say I did. Bernie would say I did, saving him. Plenty would say I did in helping Ed Morgan end his life even after all that time, even if it was what he wanted by then. That someone like him deserved to die for what he did to Lizzy Lewis. I might even have said that, if it hadn't been me in the end left holding the knife.
It was always a simple enough concept: if someone needs help, you help them.
Then there was Torchwood.
It'll never be so simple again.