Emlyn Jones, This Is Your Life
Characters: Jack, Ianto and Gwen.
Pairing: not that sort of story.
Set: immediately after the end of 'Adrift'
Disclaimer: don't own 'em, never will.
She'd been staring at nothing for at least twenty minutes before she realised that Andy had gone.
She shifted uneasily on the low concrete wall as something in her lower back started to complain, blinked, looked round and tried to reorganise and edit her thoughts in a way that wouldn't leave her waking up shivering every night for a week.
It was harder then she'd thought it would be.
Unconsciously she phased out again, reviewing over and over the looks on Jonah's face, the looks on Nicky's; Jack's; the nurses; the lies; Rhys; Andy; the boatman; Jonah; Jack; the deception; the desperation; the necessity; the-
-something was nagging at her attention-
-it would make sense if she thought about it enough, she knew it would. Well, maybe - she knew Torchwood, damn Torchwood, bloody damn Torchwood, was – was, well, was the first, last and only line of defence against the worst scum of the universe, and wouldn't she love to watch that film now, knowing what she knew, and – but, but this was human. Hers. Human. Vulnerable. Needing. Needing so much to belong. Jonah had taken years to work his way back home and, and-
-something in her line of vision wasn't right-
-my world. Not Jack's, not the Weevils', mine, mine and Rhys'. Not theirs, not even – well, Owen lives on Planet Owen, but not even Tosh's, in some way…in some way she's assimilated this in a way I never really will and Andy's buggered off – can't blame him, really – so wait, it's an eight-mile walk and I suppose it'll do some good…my world, you know, the normal one that sometimes I worry about losing and worry that I only sometimes worry about losing, the one with a husband and ch – with a husband, normal things, real things, things like buying milk and decorating the kitchen-
-what's that over there? -
Still in her half-daze, and acting strictly on automatic pilot, she got up and walked towards the smiling man in the purple shirt sitting in the black SUV.
"Thought you might like a lift," said Ianto.
She could have hugged him.
She didn't say a word all the way back and Ianto was perceptive enough to not make her; in fact she didn't say anything until they'd gone in through the Butler's Wharf entrance and were in his little tourist office. As he reached under the desk, she said:
"So why did you help me?"
His eyebrows flickered; the only outward sign he'd even heard her. In fact he waited so long before replying that she was beginning to wonder if he even could, save that like the inherently decent man he was he'd merely wanted to do what was right, and-
"I've been there."
She stared at him. The door began to swing open. Neither of them saw it.
"Flatholme. I've been there," he said, quietly. "I saw it happen, once."
He glanced down.
He was so close that Gwen could hear the lining of his jacket moving over his shirt as he shrugged, then broke the mood of introspection by flashing his brief smile.
"And Jack keeps his secrets."
Jack was wrestling with his paperwork when Gwen walked into his office. He looked up and the megawatt smile shone.
"Get back OK?"
She nodded. "Ianto gave me a lift."
"I know. I sent him. So, you have a nice chat?"
Gwen's eyes narrowed slightly.
"They're not all there, are they?"
Jack closed the file and put it down on the desk. "We do what we c-"
"Physically there? The ones who came back? They're not all kept there, are they, Jack? There are-"
Jack shut his eyes for a second, then looked up at her from under his eyebrows. "When did you guess?"
She shrugged, almost without thinking.
"When you said that. But I wondered when we lost Beth…Old soul."
Jack sighed. "You got that right. Let me tell you a story."
He motioned at the spare chair. She sat in it.
"Once upon a time there was a man who lived in Penarth; his name was Emlyn and he was a conscientious objector, which was not a great thing to be in that place at that time, which was 1916."
"He was a pacifist and was strong in his beliefs, which kind of made it worse. Anyway, one day back in May '17, they found Emlyn's boat floating abandoned in the Bristol Channel. Theory was, he jumped. But they never found a body. So. Tell me-" his eyes held hers "-what was Emlyn's middle name?"
Gwen glanced down, and then looked up to hold Jack's eyes.
"Ianto." she said.
He nodded, almost imperceptibly. "He was the eighth. I found him staggering round Flatholme of all places, in 1998. Eighty-one years out of his time. Disoriented, wandering, confused to hell, but he still had…he wasn't…he was still trying to work out what the hell had happened to him - he was still…him…he was the first and so far only returnee I've ever met whose thought processes were unaffected. Which was…"
He paused, frowning.
"Maybe it was because he only travelled in time, not space. We'll never know. Anyway, Toshiko worked her magic and created a whole new set of records for him and I sent him to Torchwood London, and when that went up he came here, and thanks to post-traumatic stress and a tiny little amnesia pill he didn't remember Cardiff and more importantly he didn't remember me. Which is kind of a tragedy, don't you think?"
"But he remembers Penarth? He knows?"
"Oh, yeah. Still keeps a written diary. Still looks for things in books, even though he's a good hacker. And he never talks about his family."
"He's not the only one." Gwen smiled. So did Jack.
"All right. Anyway, the second time we met was on a very select cruising ground, and to cut a long story short we ended up going hunting-" (his eyes flicked up toward the pterodactyl coop) "-which is a whole other story involving a use for chocolate that even I didn't know about…and the rest is extremely well-groomed history."