Ianto opened the door on the third knock, something Gwen was very grateful for, because carrying a kettle full of soup was heavier than she'd anticipated. She smiled; he frowned, looking mildly confused.
"Gwen," he said flatly.
"I brought you soup!" she said, determined to stay cheerful.
"You brought me soup," Ianto repeated, twisting the sentence so that it sounded like a question. Gwen felt her smile shrink slightly.
"Well, yes," she replied, pushing it towards him. Instead of taking it out of her hands like she wanted, he stared at it, utterly bewildered.
"Why what?" Gwen asked.
"Why is there soup?" Ianto countered, speaking as though he were talking to a small child who was about to get into mischief.
"Because," Gwen started, faltered, then started again. "Because- because you're grieving Ianto, and bringing people food is something you do for friends who are grieving."
She stopped, waiting.
He didn't say "But you shot her," like she feared he would, and he didn't say "Thanks" like she hoped. Instead, he looked at her with something like pity on his face and said, "You don't even know me."
Well, she couldn't argue that one.
"Right, well... have it anyway," she said, pushing the kettle towards him forcefully enough that if he didn't take it, it would fall to the ground.
"Uh," he stared down at the kettle. "Okay?"
"Okay," she said, determined cheer back in place.
"O...kay," Ianto repeated. "Um, I'd like to go back inside now. Do you want to come in and have coffee or anything?"
Gwen almost automatically said yes, but everything from Ianto's undone cuff to his exhausted body language to his falsely polite smile begged her to say no.
"Nah, I've got... things," Gwen said, vaguely.
Ianto smiled ruefully. It almost looked genuine.
"Okay," Ianto replied. "Bye."
He shut the door, softly, but firmly. Bereft of anything kinder to do, Gwen made her way back to the car.
Gwen was in Jack's office when there was a quiet knock on the door. Naturally, it was Ianto; Owen would have barged right in, and Tosh favored coughing over knocking.
"Please, tell me it's not another Hoix," she said, exasperated.
"It's not another Hoix," he said, honestly. "There's just a small, personal problem.
And that's how the two of them ended up on the firing range, while the take-out moldered in the bin and her mobile filled up with angry text messages from Rhys.
His stance was fine, and his first shot was normally bang-on, but both his aim and his posture degenerated with each successive shot.
"I can't believe Jack didn't teach you how to recover from the recoil," Gwen said for the third time. Once again, Ianto didn't respond but instead emptied another clip into the target. This time the first three bullets hit before he started to go off his center.
"I mean, this is important," Gwen continued, handing him another clip. "It's one of the first things I ever got proper training for, and it's not like you can stun-gun a Hoix or Swamp Beast or anything. What was he-"
"He wasn't thinking," Ianto grunted. "Especially not while down here."
Three hits again, although the fourth one was on the line, really. Gwen handed him another clip, and then nudged his legs farther apart. Four hits.
"He must have, though," Gwen insisted. Ianto corrected the stance on his own, but went back down to three. "You're support, yeah, but it's not like there aren't dangers in the Hub."
Ianto gave her a strange look, and suddenly she realized what it was she'd just said.
"That doesn't change anything," she defended herself. Four hits. "It's still dangerous for you."
"It does change things," Ianto answered, a note of finality in his voice. This time he emptied his entire clip into the center of the target, but his posture was too awkward to be of any use in the field. She bent down to adjust his stance again, placed her hand on is thigh, and had another sudden realization of what this would likely lead to, if she were Jack.
She handed him the next clip without quite meeting his eyes.
They continued on for another hour or so in silence, before pure exhaustion caused her to call an end to their session. She helped Ianto store the guns away before heading for the main level of the Hub.
"It wasn't like that," he blurted out suddenly. Gwen turned around to give him her full attention. He looked like he already regretted speaking, so she didn't push, just stood there in the doorway, waiting.
"I have no idea what it was," he said finally. "But it wasn't that. We were- it wasn't that."
Neither of them moved, until Ianto began pulling at his tie, and Gwen realized that she was between him and the door.
"Let's go home then," she said.
Ianto walked with her out of the range, but peeled away before they reached the door, heading for the kitchen instead, muttering about needing to get the rubbish out.
"Do you even go home, these days?" she asked, on impulse.
"What for?" Ianto replied.
Owen had nearly finished with Rhys before she managed to track Ianto down, looking decidedly disheveled and more than a bit pleased with himself. It irked her, if for no other reason than she was currently three steps away from falling to pieces.
Taking a deep breath, she told herself to calm the fuck down, and forced a smile on her face. "Ianto," she said.
He turned around. "Hi, Gwen. Rhys all better?"
"Owen's working on it," she replied. "How are you?"
"I'm fine. Just trying to cancel that plankton order. Now that we don't have to worry about the giant manatee anymore..." He frowned, opening another window on the computer, and typed something. "Anything you needed?"
"I-" she stopped, swallowed and started again. "I need you to talk to Rhys for me."
"Talk as in..?" he asked, raising an eyebrow.
"As in talk!" she cried. "He threw himself in front of a bullet for me! Someone has to tell him he can't do that, and I don't think he'd listen if it came from me."
"You want me to tell Rhys not to get himself shot," Ianto clarified.
"Yes," Gwen answered. "Not over me. Not if he can avoid it. I can't lose him again."
"Gwen," Ianto began warily.
"I can't lose him again," she repeated.
"You know you're going to have to retcon him, right?" Ianto asked, sounding concerned.
"I know," Gwen replied. "But... better safe than sorry, yeah?"
Ianto looked as though he was going to argue further, then thought better of it. "I'll... see what I can do."
"...and I've picked up something from the bakery for dessert, there's no way I can handle baking dessert from scratch," she finished, forcing herself to meet Ianto's eyes. This was embarrassing, and the sight of him looking utterly bewildered was doing nothing to alleviate it.
"You know I can't cook, yeah?" he said finally.
"What?" Gwen asked.
"I can't cook," he repeated. "Not from scratch anyway."
Gwen blinked, looked down at her shopping, and then looked back at Ianto. "What do you mean you can't cook?"
Ianto cocked an eyebrow.
"Well, where did that pan that's been soaking in the Hub's kitchen sink for the past two days come from then?"
Ianto blushed. "That was... not me."
"Jack cooks?" Gwen said incredulously.
"He makes a nice lasagna," he replied neutrally.
Gwen shot a panicked, despairing look at her groceries. She had missed their last three dinners, and really, really needed to make it up to Rhys. Cooking a nice dinner was perhaps the only thing that could do it all in one night. But if Jack were involved, not even a five-course gourmet meal would help.
"I'll certainly give it a try though," Ianto promised, uncuffing his sleeves and rolling them up. "I mean, we're highly trained secret agents who fight alien threats for a living. We should be able to handle dinner."
An hour later, Gwen clutched at the arm rest as Ianto made a sharp turn on the way home from market, hoping that the smoke had had time to clear out of the flat before Rhys came home, and that the take away in the back was as home-styled as advertised.
"We don't talk to anyone about this," Ianto stated, bringing her car to a screeching halt outside her flat. "Never."
"Never ever," she agreed, snatching the bags and dashing inside.
Gwen woke up first.
The first thing she noticed was the slightly sore feeling of ill-stretched thigh muscles. She wondered for a moment what had caused that (had she and Rhys tried a new position? something more adventurous? ended up in the kitchen instead of the bedroom?) when she picked up on two things: a) she was lying in the SUV, the middle row of seats laid out as flat as they would go and Welsh country roads bumping along beneath her and b) she hadn't seen Rhys in over a day.
She flailed, pushed herself into an upright sitting position and inadvertently hit Ianto over the head. Ianto moaned, buried his head under his arm, and mumbled, "If the Rift's not exploding, Jack…"
It was then that Gwen noticed that both she and Ianto were wearing boiler suits, and Jack was smirking at them in the rear-view mirror. It was one of his friendlier, if more patronizing smirks; the one that said "Oh you people…"
"What happened?" she asked, trying to make her voice low and dangerous, and succeeded in not really squeaking if nothing else. Beside her Ianto froze, and sat up with such poise and calm that she knew it had to be fake.
"What happened?" she repeated, and this time she did sound dangerous. The fact that she could see Ianto's death glare aimed at the back of Jack's head helped some.
"You don't remember?" he asked. They nodded in unison, and Jack's grin shrunk by several teeth. "Well- we were getting those strange reports from Llandovery, and as it turned out, it was a piece of alien technology that caused spontaneous and irresistible sexual attraction."
There was a very pregnant silence as they digested that information.
"Jack, did we have sex?" Gwen asked, this time not even bothering to suppress her squeak.
"Where?" Ianto demanded. "We didn't have a hotel and-"
Gwen had a sudden memory of being pushed against a stone wall, grit digging into her shoulder blades as Ianto-
Judging by how red Ianto was going, she wasn't the only one taking a trip down memory lane.
"Why did you let us do that?" Gwen demanded. "I mean, you couldn't have thought it was normal for us to- to-"
"To have sex in Llandovery Castle," Ianto said in his fake calm voice. "Which I must point out, isn't so much a castle these days as a ruin. A very open ruin."
"We had sex," she said, as though saying the words would make the sentiment they carried less strange. "We had sex in a castle in Llandovery."
"You triggered a defense mechanism," Jack said defensively. "Sex is a by-product. It's actually supposed to induce a heart attack, but the species it was designed for is wired differently than humans; here, it makes you have sex instead."
"We had sex in Llandovery Castle," Gwen repeated. Sometimes, she really wondered why she stayed with this job.
"I set up a perimeter; no one saw. Promise." He met her eyes in the rear-view mirror again, and flashed her a brief, blinding grin. Somehow, she couldn't shake the feeling that what he really meant was, No one but me saw. "And we got the device as well, no one got hurt, so all in all it wasn't too bad a day."
"I don't suppose you know whether there's a chance I got Gwen pregnant, do you?" Ianto asked, the sound of his calm facade cracking in his voice. She whipped around to stare at him in abject horror.
"I'm on the pill. I mean, there really shouldn't be-" She stopped herself. "No, no there's not. No chance."
There was a beat of silence, before Gwen asked, "What happened to our clothes?"
"They're up here," Jack said. Ianto held out his hands in the universal 'gimme' gesture. "I don't think they're really salvageable," he warned them, but handed over the small pile of cloth from the shotgun seat anyway.
Gwen's blouse was missing several buttons and was torn nearly in two down the back.
Ianto's trousers seemed to be missing their crotch entirely. She had the sudden memory of
being entirely frustrated with how complicated the zipper was and in her impatience she-
She didn't make eye contact with anyone else for more than a few seconds the whole trip back.
A change of clothes and a few hours later, Ianto came over to her work station with a cup of coffee.
"Ianto-" she began. He held up a hand.
"We never need speak of this," he said gravely. "It happened. We'll keep working together. It's not that big a deal, on the grand scale of things."
It shouldn't be that simple. It shouldn't be that easy to just cut out the memories, now completely restored, of Ianto's mouth on her breasts and her hands on his arse and his dick in her cunt- not without some chemical help, anyway. But getting Ianto to talk about anything was normally something that required time and patience and a whole lot of other things she'd like to think she had more of than she really did. And, to be completely honest, it wasn't something she wanted to talk about so much as she felt she ought to.
"But what am I going to tell Rhys?" she muttered despondently.
Ianto shrugged, and handed her the coffee.
She took a sip of her coffee, and then frowned. "Is that rum I taste?"
"Yes," Ianto replied. "I'll be in the archives if you need me."
He walked stiffly away, and Gwen took a large gulp, plotting how to get her hands on some retcon.