AN: This is set two – three weeks after COE. This is a short chapter, but is to serve as more of an introduction.
For anyone awaiting an update to Agents of Mercy, the chapters are trapped inside my main computer which is currently dead. It will be continued as soon as I can rescue them.
Gwen paused at the door to the coffee shop, her hand braced on the handle for a moment. Taking a deep breath she pushed the door open and stepped inside. The comforting, bitter aroma of coffee washed over her immediately and she inhaled it deeply, as if getting the fragranced air into her lungs could help heal her from the inside.
The world was starting to heal. Whitehall was still in chaos, though it was being hidden from the public well, but normal people where returning to their normal lives. The immediate threat was gone, the children were fine and everyday life was easy to slip back into. Made it all just seem like a bad dream; made it easier to forget.
Except in this little corner of Cardiff. Here, two families were grieving the loss of sons, a brother, an uncle. She was grieving. Rhys was grieving; although Gwen knew a lot of his grief was for her, sympathy for what she had lost.
And Jack...Gwen didn't have the words to describe what Jack was doing. It was like he had died himself. He'd left London as soon as he could and physically he was still here, but wandering; an aimless ghost lost in Cardiff. Not knowing where to be, but needing to be somewhere. He said he was back for her, but Gwen knew he wouldn't be around for long. An awful, horrible part of her would almost be glad. She could barely bring herself to look at him. It was like he was empty. Catching one glimpse of those normally shining eyes that were now dulled, hollow, bereft of humour, light or life, just broke her heart even more.
With a small shake of her head Gwen tried to clear the thought and ordered a large latte with caramel syrup. The ultimate comfort coffee. She stood by the counter scouting for a good table with her eyes while she waited for it to be ready.
A woman in the queue behind her ordered a blend of two beans as a double espresso, but served in a proper coffee cup, using hot water, not boiling.
Gwen's heart stopped beating inside her chest for a moment, but she tried to swallow the feeling and replace it with a fond smile. There was only one person she'd ever known who drank that coffee. He had that blend with those instructions every time they came here together, but it was always better when he made it himself.
But that was why she was here now. To try to start to put the demons to rest. To start to try to remember the good times. She had told Rhys she needed time alone; he wasn't happy about it, but trusted Gwen to know what was best for herself.
She picked up her coffee with a small smile at the barista, and went over to a table. Their team had so many memories here. So many early mornings that were in fact late night's for them. Stolen afternoons when they acted like normal co-workers who had coffee out at lunchtime. Times when the warmth and comfort they needed couldn't be found in the vastness of the Hub. Or sometimes, just because they all wanted to.
There were ghosts in this coffee house, but Gwen felt she needed to spend some time here with them.
She should have been surprised when the woman who had ordered his coffee came over and sat down opposite her at the table. But part of her, the been in Torchwood for too long for anything to surprise her anymore part, had been expecting it. She didn't even look up. The woman remained silent too, sipping at her coffee.
Finally Gwen broke the deadlock.
"That's his coffee. You shouldn't be drinking it. It should only be his." she said flatly.
"It's my coffee too. But it was always better when he made it." The woman's Welsh accented voice held an even, matter of fact tone, displaying no emotion, yet not being unpleasant. It was disturbingly familiar.
There was another long pause.
"Why do you have his coffee?"
"We shared everything. We were a part of each other; as one."
Gwen looked up sharply and gave her a glare that would have melted glass.
The woman didn't flinch, but added quickly with an urgent, reassuring tone; "Not in that way. No, that was Jack. It was only Jack."
Gwen let out a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding. She retreated back into silence for a while, sipping at her coffee while the woman opposite her did the same.
Once again it was Gwen who broke the stalemate. "You claim to have been so close, but Ianto never mentioned you to us."
"Yes, and Ianto never kept anything from you did he?" Gwen looked up, startled to hear such a familiar snark in her voice.
The woman's tone softened again. "I'm Ianto's last secret I promise. But I am a pretty big one."