Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Spoilers: Children of Earth
Warnings: Gwen's POV, Not overly friendly to Gwen, though she does have the excuse of hurting.
Summary: Gwen watches Jack. Companion piece to Delayed Goodbyes.
AN: Once again, I'm trying to keep everyone in character, with maybe a little bit of my own twist.
How could she have misjudged things so badly?
Gwen watched from a distance as Jack knelt down by Ianto's grave. She watched as the man she loved broke down and sobbed for a man she'd never considered to even be in the running for Jack's heart. For Jack's body maybe, but Ianto had openly defied Jack, refusing to apologize for Lisa, for endangering them all, and for threatening Jack's very life. Jack would never love some like that, at least she thought.
She'd noticed that they became closer after Suzie died for the second time, but the look Jack had given her after they saved her from Suzie's manipulations had spoken of the depths of his feelings for her. He'd started pushing her toward Rhys again after that, but she'd assumed that it was to protect her. She knew good and well that Jack wasn't a safe bet. Jack wasn't safe at all.
Rhys was a good man, but he didn't excite her like Jack did. Rhys was comfortable, stable. Jack made her feel like a teenager again. She just knew his touch would light her on fire. Just thinking of what he could do with those hands, the hands of a man who worked for a living, gave her a thrill of pleasure. Rhys could make the ground rumble, like Owen guessed, and Owen could make the earth move. Jack, Jack would have been so much more. He would have made the earth shatter.
She hadn't thought about Jack in the months that he'd been away as much as one would think. The 456 had left a mess that needed cleaning and nobody knew where to start. Torchwood was dissolved. The Crown had declared that unless Jack returned as commander, they wouldn't provide further funding. She had nowhere to go but back to the Cardiff Police. She'd gone from second-in-command of Torchwood back to a simple Police Constable again. She didn't even have Andy as her partner anymore, just some green boy who'd signed on after a PC defended his family when the soldiers tried to take his sister away.
Needless to say, she'd been thrilled when Jack called about meeting up with her. That's when she started thinking about him again. Thinking about the way his smile had the same effect on her belly as a good sip of Port.
She'd carefully prepared herself for the meeting, taking pains to look as well as a woman run ragged and four months pregnant could. In the doorway of her new house she paused, and then slipped off her wedding band. If the meeting went where she hoped it would, she didn't want the reminder to dissuade her or Jack.
An hour later, she was walking into the dive she'd told Jack to meet her at. She felt a pang of nostalgia followed by the sting of guilt. This was where she and Owen had spent most of their nights out, when they weren't shagging each other senseless back at Owen's flat. Jack wouldn't know that though, and Rhys would never venture to this part of town.
And there he was, sitting in a corner booth, just as handsome as ever. He looked tired though, his face haggard. Maybe she would be the one to take that look off his face.
She hurried over and slid into the booth. "Hello, Jack," she said.
"Gwen," Jack had said. She always loved the way he said her name. "You're looking good."
She snorted a laugh in response. Always the charmer, her Jack. "I look horrible. I've been running ragged these past few months, helping with the cleanup."
"With Torchwood?" Jack asked, his eyebrows raising in that way that she could never tell if it was serious of feigned surprise.
"Oh no, we're still shut down. Unless you want to turn yourself in, that is. I've been helping the Cardiff police, doing what I can. It doesn't pay as well as Torchwood did, but we get by." There was a flash of guilt through Jack's eyes. Good, the vindictive side of her thought, he knew how little being a PC paid. He knew she needed a Torchwood paycheck with the baby on the way.
She pushed that part of her away. She didn't like it, but it was part of her. She would ignore it as she usually did.
"Anyway, how have you been?" she asked, reaching over to take his hand. It was cold, but gripped her's back.
Jack sighed. "Ianto's gone, Gwen. How am I supposed to be doing?"
Gwen almost flinched, and was sure that her smile had soured. Why was he bringing Ianto up now? Now, when they were finally alone together with nothing holding them back?
"He'd want you to take care of yourself," she said. It was true enough. If there was anything Ianto cared about more than his cursed coffee machine, it was Jack.
"He'd want me to do a lot of things," Jack said bitterly
"Are you taking care of yourself, Jack?" she asked, worried.
"It hardly matters. Whatever happens, I'll always snap back, good as new," Jack said.
"Jack," she said, appalled.
"I'll be alright Gwen. I always am."
Gwen hurt for him, she truly did. It was time to lay it all out there, this thing they were dancing around. "I'm worried about you, Jack. You need someone to look after you."
He didn't answer, his eyes telling her he was thinking it over. One last push, and he would be hers, she was sure of it.
"Let me help you," she said, squeezing his hand.
"You can't, Gwen." Jack was still pushing her away. Still worried about what he would do to her if he let her in. She needed to make it clear to him that she was willing to take that chance for him.
"I could, if you let me," she told him. Oh, what wouldn't she do for this man? She didn't know the answer.
"You've got Rhys and the baby to worry about Gwen. You don't need to be taking care of me too," said Jack. He was still pushing her toward safety, toward Rhys.
"But I want to," she said, keenly aware of how close she was to begging.
She'd said something wrong. She could see it in his face. She knew it when his eyes went to her ring finger.
"Gwen?" he asked.
Wrong or right, there was no going back now. She would tell him everything. "I don't know how to say this, other than just to say it... I love you. I think I've loved you since we first sat in that damn bar that night I found out about Torchwood."
Jack's protest hurt. She knew he wanted her, but it still hurt. "I love Rhys too. I do, just not like I love you." The words felt familiar, as though she'd said them before.
She was losing him. She didn't know why, but he was pulling away from her with each word she said. His loyalty to Rhys wasn't something she'd thought about before. She needed to say something to allay that.
"Rhys is dependable. He accepts me and takes care of me, but he can't give me everything I need. He knows that, and he knows the baby's his and doesn't care about… other things as long as I'm discreet." It was an outright lie. Rhys would never tolerate this. But she couldn't lose Jack, not on top of everything else.
"What do want me to say, Gwen?" Jack asked.
"Say yes." She had never pleaded with a man. Not like this.
"Ianto's barely in the ground, Gwen. My grandson's dead and my daughter wishes that I was. I can barely stand to look myself in the eye. Your husband is waiting at home and the child that the two of you made together is right here. Now what are you really expecting of me?"
Stephen? What had happened to Stephen? And why would his daughter blame him for it? "Let me in Jack. I can help you. We can help each other."
"No, we can't. I lost Ianto barely three months ago. I can't look at anyone without thinking of him. Every time I see someone with blue eyes, I see him staring back at me."
He spoke as though he'd been in love with Ianto. But he'd always been in love with her. She knew that. Maybe Ianto had been a closer friend to Jack than she'd thought. Or maybe it was guilt. He hadn't returned Ianto's love, and now that Ianto was dead Jack felt guilty, just like with Estelle.
"Sometimes I wake up expecting him to be there beside me. I have that one instant, after I wake up, where I forget that he's gone. That's the happiest moment of my day, Gwen."
He couldn't have just said that. He couldn't have. That would make it seem too much like he had been in love with Ianto. "Jack—" she began. To apologize maybe, to yell at him for playing her and Ianto at the same time, to say something. She would never know what she meant to say.
"I'm not finished, Gwen," said Jack. "After it comes back to me, I feel so damn guilty. I promised Ianto, while he lay dying in my arms, that I would never forget him. It scares me Gwen, because if I can forget he's gone, for even an instant, maybe one day I'll start forgetting the little things like his favorite color, or what he was wearing the day we met, or what his favorite meal was. Then I'll start forgetting the more important things, like his voice—and I loved that voice—, or maybe even his face. Finally, some day in the distant future I won't even be able to remember his name. And then I'll have broken my promise. That promise was the only one I ever gave him. He never asked for anything more than that. He didn't demand declarations of love or fidelity. Hell, Ianto didn't even expect me to stick around if he survived to thirty. I never told him that I would still be there when he was old and gray if he'd have let me."
"I'm not asking you to forget him, Jack. Just to let me in." She'd already lost him. She didn't know when. It didn't occur to her that she'd never had him.
"You want me to let you take his place," Jack accused.
"No, I'm not," she protested. How dare him. She would never—
"Yes you are. You might not realize it, but you are. I let Ianto in so far, so deep, there isn't any room for someone else just yet. It'll be a long time before I let someone else in again. Decades, maybe even centuries."
"Jack, I could be good for you." The instant she felt her voice quiver, she hated him He held this sway over her, and he didn't even care. She hated herself in that instant as well. She should be stronger than this.
"Sure Gwen, you could be good for me. We could go to bed together, shag each other senseless, and it would be fantastic. Really it would be. But at the end of it, I'd still just be scratching an itch."
He couldn't have said anything worse to shatter her heart. "Jack."
"I loved him, Gwen," he said, confirming what she just started to suspect. But he wasn't finish stomping on her dreams. "I loved Ianto like I loved Rose Tyler, like I loved The Doctor, and like I loved Estelle. Those are the loves I'll carry with me to the end of time itself. Even if I forget his face, his name, his voice, I'll never forget how he made me feel. He gave me back a piece of myself that I thought was long gone. They all did."
'But I don't, do I?' she wanted to ask. No, she didn't want to know for sure. At least this way she could pretend she did.
He was kind enough to give her a few moments to pull herself. She didn't cry. She wouldn't cry, not in front of him.
"Well, I should probably be going then," she said as she got up to leave. She couldn't resist a parting shot. "Rhys is waiting, and I've got a doctor's appointment this evening."
Rhys wasn't waiting, and her doctor's appointment wasn't until tomorrow afternoon. As she left, she rested her hand on her belly. Her baby was moving. The baby who would have to live in a second rate neighborhood because his mother's PC pay sucked and his father drove trucks. Her baby who wouldn't get to go to the best schools. If something like the 456 happened again, her baby would be vulnerable.
She hid out of sight in a nearby alley and waited for Jack to leave. She followed him, hand on her mobile. She could turn him in if she wanted. The Queen might favor him still, but UNIT would love to see him rot in some anonymous cell. There would be a reward, enough to set aside for her baby to get only the best.
She wasn't surprised when he went straight for the cemetery. She wasn't even surprised when he went straight for Ianto's grave. How many times had he come back to see Ianto? How many times had he come back for Ianto? Suddenly she looked back on the moment before Jack discovered her engagement ring with new eyes. He hadn't been saying what she thought he was. It wasn't her who filled his thoughts while he'd been away.
Jack knelt piously before Ianto's grave. He stayed there for a long while, just talking, sobbing.
Gwen's hand never left her mobile. She was working on her nerve. One call was all it would take. Her baby would have everything he ever needed. Jack had been her leader for nearly three years, but this was her child's future.
She watched in disbelief as Jack ripped a brass button off his beloved greatcoat. The coat Ianto had given him. A lover's last gift, she realized
No, it wasn't her child's future she was thinking about. It was revenge, pure and simple. Revenge for not wanting her. For wanting Ianto, quiet, traitorous, lying Ianto. Ianto who lied to her about his family, about his life. Ianto who probably lied to Jack with his dying breath. Ianto who was just as broken as Jack. As broken as she felt right now.
Her hand fell away from her mobile.
She turned and walked away.
AN: I was nicer to Gwen than I though I was going to be. ConCrit happily accepted.
PS: I'm aware that the dialogue doesn't exactly match up to Delayed Goodbyes in some places. That was intentional.