Without Lifetime Guarantees.
Afterwards, Gwen sleeps for over twenty hours, only waking up because she's unbearably hungry. And although her coping mechanism wants her to go back to bed until her heart stops aching so much, her most pragmatic side tells her that she has to eat, if not for her because of the child in her womb.
Rhys, she finds out, is not at the flat, a note stuck to the fridge telling her he went to do some groceries. Still half asleep, Gwen puts the coffee machine on as she looks for something easy to eat, and she's half done with a bag of crackers when the scent of coffee hits her and suddenly she's blinking tears away.
Ianto won't ever greet her again with her cup and her coffee ready, his smile soft and partially hidden inside his eyes. She won't get to speak with him again, nor nag, like Jack used to say they did.
Before her grief gets to heavy, the bell rings and she has to pull herself together. She puts the coffee down just enough to splash some water on her face, least she appears like a monster, calling a 'Coming!' as she rushes to the door.
And then she almost drops her cup to the floor.
"Agent Johnson," she starts, wondering if she'll have to use the scalding coffee as a weapon to run away. She lost her weapon and with Torchwood destroyed it's not as if she can go and get a new one. She can drop her slippers and run away if she has to, but she has no idea where she'd run to. Tosh is gone, Owen, and now Ianto. Jack hasn't called at all.
But Johnson is in her civilian clothes, blue jeans and a buttons down shirt, her hair in a ponytail. She's not even carrying a bag, as if to reassure Gwen that she's not armed.
"I'm not armed," she says, as if reading Gwen's mind (and it's kind of scary enough that that is a possibility, concerning Gwen's life, but best to be paranoid than dead). "I just came here to talk. Can I come in?"
"... we can talk outside," Gwen offers, unwilling to be in a closed space with a woman that can still be dangerous.
But her offer seems to be well taken by Johnson, who simply nods and turns towards the stairs. There's children laughter outside, which is a small comfort that, Gwen is sure, will help her in the months to come. See, Ianto? Torchwood did it. Jack did it. He saved the children. We saved your niece and nephew.
"I wouldn't have thought you'd have time to come and chit chat," Gwen says once they're outside, leaning against the door frame, sipping from her coffee. "The government must be going crazy."
"It was, last I knew," Johnson shrugs. "I quit. I just couldn't stay there any longer, after what I saw."
No surprise there, Gwen thought but did not say. "What can I do for you, Johnson?"
"I was wondering if you could tell Jack Harkness I want to talk with him?" Johnson shakes her head. "I'd ask for his address, but I don't think you'd give it to me."
But he has no address now, Gwen thinks with sudden, ugly bitterness. You blew it up to pieces, the Hub. That was Jack's home. We lost Myfawny, and Jack's blue and black cup that Ianto hated, and the pictures that were left. Gone are Tosh and Owen's research, countless days and nights spent there as we tried to save England without anyone finding out. Gone all their laughter, and their ghosts to hunt us.
But then, she thinks--
"Jack's gone?!" she starts.
Johnson starts nodding before her eyes narrow. "... I assume by your words that he hasn't communicated with you?"
"I... no," and that had been one of the reasons for her to want to come back immediately. Because she didn't know where Jack would go afterwards, and the way he had hugged her had spoken of goodbyes and it had scared her, it had truly and honestly scared her, that. "What happened? And don't say it's classified. If you quit, you can tell me what happened."
"... captain Harkness found out how to kill the 456," Johnson tells her in the quiet, ruthless way that officers get to have, when they don't deal much with civilians. "He could send a frequency similar to the one that they used to kill Clement."
And Johnson hesitates before she adds, in a softer tone of voice: "Through a child."
"No," Gwen covers her mouth with a hand, closing her eyes tightly. There's anger there, the same feeling that she won't ever be able to forgive him that that has come after a number of cases, the sick twist to her guts that can't believe someone would make that choice. But there is also the knowledge that it was only one child, against the millions that would have been, other wise. Just one child that-- she sucks in a breath, eyes going wide as she looks at Johnson.
The confirmation comes in the way of a nod. "It was Steven Carter."
"Oh, god... " Gwen closes her eyes tight against the tears she feels are forming already. Jack's grandson. Jack had to kill his grandson, end up with what little family he still had. And his daughter! Just trying to imagine what she must be going through.
And then, as she takes into account this new dead, Gwen comes to a startling, painful realization.
"... I don't think you'll be able to find Jack for a while," she tells Johnson. "I don't think he's going to let anyone find him for a while."
Because even if Jack can live forever, it's one death too many, and while immortal, Jack is still a human. Tosh and Owen had been a hard blow already, but now the Hub is gone as well, and with it goes Gray and Jack's hope for future redemption, and then Ianto, and now his grandson.
No, Jack is not going to be found for a while, who knows how long. 'I always come back,' Jack had said, blue eyes and a devil-may-care grin before he was killed, but would he have said the same if he had known just how much he would have to break his own heart?
Johnson's shoulders drop a notch. "I... suppose that was to be expected."
Gwen combs a hand through her hair, trying to think what she's going to do now. She had assumed, before, that they would rebuild Torchwood, perhaps move it to another place. But now she's the one member left, with no idea of what of her file remains.
Should she walk away now? Is this a chance for a clean slate, even though she didn't ask for it? Could she really go back, pretend nothing was happening?
Gwen knows the answer immediately. No. No she couldn't do that. Which means that...
"I don't suppose you're looking for a job, are you?" she asks, sitting down on the step. "Since you came looking for Jack and all."
Johnson looks at her for a moment, surprised by the sudden turn in the conversation, and she blinks. "Are you serious?"
"Why not? You've got the skills, you're trained, and you know about the kind of situations we'd be dealing with without me having to explain everything," Gwen shrugs. "If you want to, the job's yours."
"I..." Johnson shakes her head. "I'll have to think about it."
"Brilliant. Mmm. I wonder if Lois would be interested..." Gwen ponders, falling into her thoughtful mood, at once feeling better now that she was almost being productive. Lois had been more than helpful, and while she didn't know much about these things, Gwen knew, by experience, than in a few months she'd be an expert. And god, she'd have to make a zillion phone calls to see about rebuilding things, but after this last stunt the government owed them, and they could really fuck themselves if they thought she wasn't going to make them pay.
She takes a sip of her now lukewarm coffee, only to hear Rhys clearing his throat. "Don't you know caffeine is bad for the baby?"
Gwen winces. "Sorry, sorry. I promise, this is my last caffeine cup, I just really, really needed it."
"MM-hmm" Rhys rolls his eyes, even as he looks at Johnson, not completely trusting, but he's willing to let go enough to sit by her side, the groceries bag between his legs. "And what was that about searching for jobs?"
She could lie, Gwen thinks, but she also knows that's not what they promised. For not mentioning that it's not just her involved, this time.
"It's about Torchwood, Rhys. We have to rebuild, and I have no idea where Jack went to but I can't just stay sitting down and pretend that nothing's happening, I would go mad if I had to act like that. I swear, Rhys, I'll be so careful and I'll come back home early every night and--" she shuts up as Rhys holds up a hand.
"I don't suppose you have some room for me in your new team, would you?" Rhys asks after a few moments of silence, a small smile lurking around the corners of his lips.
Gwen feels her mouth open for a few seconds before she pulls herself together. She can feel her heart beating like crazy, in something like anxiety and hope.
"Really? I mean, Rhys..."
"Well, I figure... you're gonna be there, and if I'm going to be worrying about you and the baby back home, I could do that somewhere else and be of help."
Gwen feels herself grin, even as she blinks tears away. "Of course," she says, wrapping her arms tight around Rhys' neck, offering a small thank you that he's with her right then, that she didn't lose him like she lost everyone else.
"Well, that makes it two members of the new Torchwood team," Gwen says with a smile, her eyes still watery even as she wipes her tears away, before she puts a hand to her stomach. "Okay, two and a fraction. We're almost a complete set. We still have to find a doctor. I should call Martha..."
"So in this new team I'm going to be the only bloke?" Rhys pretends to shudder. "Blimey."
"Oh, don't you start with that. And it's not certain, I'm just putting names in the air, but we really should have at least something as soon as possible, before the next apocalypses decides to happen." And there's John Hart as well, Gwen will have to see if she can find him and see if he wants to cooperate for a while, if Jack decides to stay away for too long.
"So situations like these happen often?" Johnson asks.
"Aliens coming through the rift? All the bloody time. But most days it's not quite dire. It might look like it was at the moment, but then you have a Time Agent threatening to explode with you and you end up thinking fondly of the time a zombie woman wanted to use your life force to come back to life."
"A zombie woman? Dear, I think I'm having second thoughts about this whole thing."
Gwen touches Rhys' arm, leaning against his shoulder. Johnson looks thoughtful for a few moments before she looks at them.
"Has there been a worse Apocalypse than this one?"
Gwen nods. "But we can't remember it. Only a few people remember it, since it happened in a time paradox. Once the paradox was taken care off, the end of the world never happened. "
"Well... if I take the job, at least I'll never be bored, that's for certain," Johnson says in the overwhelmed tone of voice of someone who has gotten way too much information in a little time. Gwen feels a little more sympathy for her.
"If I may, as a not-official-member?" Johnson starts. Gwen nods. "What about captain Harkness? Would he be part of this team?"
Jack. Her throat feels tight immediately, her stomach heavy. Where is Jack now? Why didn't he come? After the loses they both had, after everything, why did he chose to disappear? They both could have taken care of each other wounds.
Gwen shrugs, and she manages to smile, squeezing Rhys' hand.
"When he comes back, we'll see about that."