Gwen Cooper sat staring at the fountain in the centre of the city, watching the water trickle down the pavement and into the drain, and wondering if her life was going the exact same way.
The bitch of it was, she'd been content, even happy in her old job in the police, living in her own, cosy little flat with her own, cosy big boyfriend, a man who wanted for nothing more than a comfortable life and the slightly-more-than-occasional shag. Gwen loved Rhys and she knew he loved her dearly. She doubted he'd ever propose to her- she certainly had no dreams about ever proposing to him- but she'd have had a very hard time saying 'no' if he ever had popped the question.
Gwen had been happy with her old life. But all that changed when she met them. Or, more specifically, when she'd met him.
It may have been Owen that she'd wound up in bed with- repeatedly- but Gwen knew, beyond all doubt, that the man that had brought all the chaos into her life was none other than Captain Jack Harkness.
Everything in her life had spiralled out of control ever since her first talk with him, in the bar, about Torchwood and what they did. Even though she could only remember vague bits of the conversation (damned Retcon, Gwen silently thought to herself), she knew that it was then that she passed the point of no return. She'd been 'promoted' to Torchwood, working alongside the elite to meet the aliens, negotiate with them, fight them- and what had she ended up with at the end of it? Nearly getting sliced to bits by a Cyber-conversion unit, being slowly shot in the head by a homicidal maniac- who had herself been deceased for months, being tormented by a being whose powers far exceeded anything she could ever imagine, and worst of all, finding herself holding a knife as it was driven into the chest of a defenceless old man. But one thing summed up Gwen's life at Torchwood for her, one word, above all else- heartbreak. Not just for her- but for Rhys too.
Gwen slowly sighed and lowered her head, sick of the metaphor of the fountain. A few seconds later, she became aware of a man sitting down on the bench next to her.
"Go away," she intoned in her distinctive Welsh accent, "I'm really not in the mood right now."
"What a coincidence," the man replied, "neither am I. But you look like you want to talk to somebody. No, actually, you look like you need to talk to somebody. Big difference between the two, you know."
"What are you," Gwen asked sarcastically, "some sort of psychiatrist?"
"In a manner of speaking," the stranger said. "So, are you going to tell me what's up or do I have to bore you with my problems?" Despite her mood, Gwen had to admit the stranger had a certain charm to him, his southern English accent almost compelling her to trust him.
"I made a mistake," Gwen confessed, "a bad one. I've hurt someone very dear to me."
"I see," the stranger said quietly, non-judgementally. "Do you love this person?" Gwen simply nodded, trying to hold back the tears that were already starting to creep out of the corners of her eyes. "Does he love you?" That was it for Gwen. The tears finally flowed freely. Gwen felt more embarrassed than anything, if the truth be told- there she was, a supposed 'elite' of Torchwood, crying like a little girl on a park bench in Bristol. Her only comfort was the surprising reassurance of the stranger's hand on her back, gently rubbing her and helping her calm down. Then, something occurred to Gwen.
"How did you know it was a man I'd hurt?" She asked, looking into the stranger's face for the first time.
"Ah, just a lucky guess," he replied, running a hand through his dark brown hair. "Have we met before? You look kinda familiar to me."
"N-no," Gwen replied, shaking her head. "I don't think so, anyway..."
"It'll come back to me," the stranger stated, beaming a toothy grin at Gwen, before sobering his face back up again. "Let me tell you a little thing about love. Besides the fact that it's a many splendoured thing, of course." Gwen let out a little giggle at the stranger's slightly out-of-place gag. "When two people love each other- and trust me on this, I'm talking from experience- nothing can damage that love beyond all repair. No distance, no action, true love is always FUBAR-proof."
"I slept with another man," Gwen confessed to the stranger, feeling a weight lifting from her heart as she said each word.
"Now there's the thing," the stranger said, "the difference between having sex with someone and making love to them. I'm guessing that when you slept with the other man it was more the former, am I right?" Gwen simply looked at her shoes again.
"That's the thing, you see," Gwen mumbled, "I'm not all that sure."
"That's something you're going to have to work out for yourself, I'm afraid," the stranger sighed, "unless of course you have an alien mind-reading device on you."
"I left it at the office," Gwen half-joked.
"What is it you do?" The stranger asked, making no effort to disguise the fact that he was attempting to pry into Gwen's private life.
"Just... stuff," Gwen said, fighting every urge she had to tell the stranger about Torchwood and what she did.
"Stuff is good," the stranger agreed, nodding. "I've been known to dabble in a bit of stuff myself. Wouldn't be surprised if that's where I've seen you from, actually." Not bloody likely, Gwen thought to herself as she contemplated what exactly her job entailed.
"Anyway, I suppose I should leave you in peace," the stranger said, standing up and smoothing out the creases in his suit. "I've got a bit of stuff to take care of myself."
"Wait a minute," Gwen said, "you never told me your name!"
"Nope," the stranger said in agreement. "You never told me yours either!"
"It's Gwen, Gwen Cooper," the young Welsh woman said to the stranger's back as he walked away from her.
"Nice to meet you, Gwen Cooper," the stranger said, turning around briefly before setting off again, his hands in his trouser pockets.
"Wait!" Gwen shouted, pursuing the stranger through the crowded city centre. She didn't know why, but something inside her made her pursue the tall, skinny stranger. She'd thought she'd cornered him as he walked down an alley, but when she turned into alley, the stranger was gone, the alley empty save for an old-fasioned blue telephone box that Gwen simply dismissed offhand. Admitting defeat, she turned and walked out of the alley, but stopped as she heard a sound behind her, a sound unlike anything she'd ever heard before. Turning around and brushing the hair from her face (it had suddenly got a bit windy), Gwen gasped as she saw that the blue box was suddenly nowhere to be seen...