I wanted to write a fix it but somehow this came out O.o. Placed somewhere around the time of Gwen's engagement to Rhys.
I put his steaming cup of coffee on the coaster and he gives me a quick smile.
"Thanks" he says quietly and then looks out over the coffee, beyond his desk and past the windows of his office. From where he's sitting, he can see Tosh's, Owen's and Gwen's stations. I don't need to follow his eyes to know which station he's fixed on. My heart thumps painfully only once and then reverts to beating normally. But the pain echoes, it's dull but it's there. It's been there all day. It's been with me all week. Ever since she announced it to us. Ever since he started acting this way.
Maybe he hasn't noticed. Hasn't noticed the way it's tearing me apart. But in a way, I shouldn't be feeling betrayed. What sort of claim do I have over him? None.
Instead, this should be my wake up call. I should wake up and realize that this is what I am to him. Second. A runner-up. A constant rebound. No, how could this be a wake up call if I've known that all along.
I turn away and walk out of his office, descend the stairs and retreat into the archives. I wonder why I stay. Why is it that if he beckoned me or called out for me I'd do anything to get to his side?
Jack and Gwen come out from the cells. I immediately notice that Jack looks uneasy and from a distance try to discern the look behind his deep blue depths. His eyes are fixed on the floor as he walks and as soon as the stairs are in view he bolts. I turn my attention to Gwen who is looking up after him with what I think is pain, uncertainty and maybe even a hint of determination. I look up at the office once more and then turn back to the coffee machine.
Gwen clears her throat and as I turn around I see that she's forced a smile onto her face. Her lips look tight and her hands are fiddling nervously behind her back.
"I've got an announcement to make!" she exclaims and the edge in her voice doesn't escape me.
She sticks out her left hand and a glint of light has my eyes on her silver banded finger."I'm getting married!" she cries and this time her voice sounds a bit more sure, though I notice her eyes bounce off to the side and look up at his office. Tosh is the first one to react, thank god, or else an awkward silence would have ensued.
She squeals in a way only females are capable and jolts out of her chair, runs over and throws her arms around the eventual Mrs. Williams.
"Oh my god!" she shouts and grabs Gwen's hand, pulls it out in front of her. She twists and turns the hand and then smiles. The diamond on the ring sparkles brightly. "It's beautiful!" she lets go and hugs her again "congratulations" she squeezes tightly and then steps away.
That's cue for either Owen or me to extend our congratulations. I glance at Owen who has gotten up and with a small smile walks over to Gwen. "Well congratulations Mrs. Williams," he jokes and pulls Gwen in for a hug. She lightly stabs him in the gut and then hugs him back.
"Thank you," she says, directing it at both Tosh and Owen.
Owen pulls back and squeezes her shoulders, he steps back.
That leaves me. I instantaneously leave the coffee machine and pull out one of my many masks, this one portraying happiness. 'Congratulations' suddenly seems over-used so I say the next best thing. "Rhys is a very lucky man," I smile and then oddly pull Gwen in for a hug.
It's awkward and a bit strained at first but she relaxes and tightly hugs me back, almost as if asking for reassurance. Out of all the members at Torchwood, I would have to say my weakest relationship is with Gwen. Even Owen and I, though always at odds, are more than aware that we've got quite a strong friendship. All those nights at the pub have not been forgotten.
With Gwen however, I've never made much of an effort besides the usual business relationship. Come to think of it, if we hadn't gone out as a group, we would have never gone out at all. It's not very hard to distinguish why our relationship is as such. Admitting the reason though, is not a thought that passes through my mind very often. But, when it does it's blatantly obvious.
I don't blame her though, not even for a second. Jack is very handsome - her attraction, my attraction. But, my jealousy leads me to often feel angry. For once, I'd like to tell her what's on my mind. 'You've got Rhys haven't you?' I repeatedly wish to say.
And Jack, yeah it's plainly obvious he fancies her. I can't completely tell the nature of their relationship but I can see it in the way he looks at her, the way his hand accidentally grazes hers when they pass something to each other.
It's there and it makes me feel one-inch tall. Time and time again I tell myself to put an end to it. I'm only causing my own misery. Confront him about it and then end it. But, when it comes down to it, I'm terrified of losing him.
Losing the one thing that's been keeping me going.
The one thing that I'm living for.
A few hours later
I take out my stopwatch and my mind reels back to the times it really came in handy with Jack. That puts a stupid little smile on my face and I quickly drop it. I flick it open and check the time. By now all the coffee cups will be empty and refills are to be needed, or else Owen becomes adamant in yelling for me to hurry up. I wonder who would suffer more from caffeine withdrawal, him or Jack?
I leave the computer and steadily make my way out of the archives and to the coffee machine. I retrieve a tray and begin collecting the cups. The last one to be collected is Jacks and it passes in silence. I look down at his desk and notice much of his files have yet to be touched, possibly even looked at. I hold back a sigh and know that I'm in for a long night. My eyes shift over to him and to anyone else he would look just the same but to me, the details are evident. The way his hands are clasped together and his chin's resting on them as if he's contemplating something. The way the corners of his lips are slightly tilted downward, an echo of a frown. But most noticeable of all is the way he hasn't made one single teasing comment to me the whole day. I'm even wearing one of those suits that he finds irresistible, but I get no second glance. I turn away and head for the door. I stop and turn back, my mouth opens but the words aren't there. He looks over at me. I close my mouth and leave.
Back downstairs I wash the cups and turn the coffee machine on. I wait patiently and the humming from the machine sends a pleasant vibe through me. In a few hours it will be time for everyone to go home. I'll stay behind like I always do. He lives here, alone in the HUB. 'He must get lonely," I've always thought. So I stay. And maybe he doesn't want my company but if by chance he does, I stay and I offer it.
The humming stops and I fill the cups, my hands moving along knowingly and doing all the work without needing much thought. I place them back on the tray. I make my rounds. I walk the steps back up to Jack's office and place the cup on the awaiting coaster. This time he just offers me a glance and I can't help but feel hurt. I won't say anything though; I won't let my face show anything but the blankness. My perfectly poised mask will stay in place. I walk back to the door and this time the words have formed.
"All you have to do is say something," I hear myself say and hope he doesn't notice the way my voice trembles. He turns his head and looks at me quizzically. You're breaking my heart, like you've done so many times before. "All you have to do is say something," I repeat and my voice isn't my own, it sounds hollow "and she will say no, she'll come to you". He just blinks at me in response and his eyes look mildly confused. I stand there silently; I'm hoping he'll say something. Some reassurance that maybe I've been mistaken. Silence and I'm not at all surprised. I blink and his face blurs lightly. The pain is back and I quickly leave the office. I can feel his gaze on my back and I don't wipe my eyes, I can only hope he didn't notice.
I drop the tray beside the coffee machine and withdraw into the archives. I turn a corner and the gaze lifts. I lean against the wall and swipe my sleeve across my watery eyes. 'Shit' I curse myself for letting my emotions almost break through. I walk into the archives and slip into my chair. I suddenly feel exhausted and I lean back. Right now would probably be a good time, to tell him that I can't do this anymore. To finally release myself of this pain. That's what I would like to think. But, I've come to be sure of a few things. Maybe leaving him would indeed lift this pain, but I'm just not strong enough. Even if I can't do this anymore, I'll continue none the less for as long as I live, I will stay by his side. He breaks my heart, but he also mends it. He sinks it and he lifts it. And so I've fallen. I've fallen for him.
And, I've fallen so hard.