Title: Husband First, Hero Second
Author: Erin Giles
Characters: Jack, Rhys, Ianto, Gwen (Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys)
Summary: Rhys saves the world, Gwen keeps losing mugs, Ianto gets manhandled and Jack destroys the BBC.
Prompt: Jack and Rhys have to team up and save Ianto, Gwen and Cardiff. Rhys gets to drive the SUV. And carry (maybe fire?) the Big Gun.
A/N: Written for tw_genfic. Thank you to electrictoes who kindly beta-d this for me while half asleep and offered to help me throw things at Rhys when he refused to save the world.
The phone was ringing in the office, had been ringing off the hook for most of the morning if Rhys was honest. Thursday was always a busy day, companies looking to sort out last minute deliveries before the weekend and that.
'Ruth?' Still no reply from his absent receptionist. 'It's like working with the invisible bloody woman.' Rhys answered the phone himself. 'Hello, Harwoods. Rhys speaking.'
'Rhys?' the voice – an American accent full of self-loving charisma and smarmy charm – said.
'Yes, mate. What can I do for you?'
Rhys' heart sank with his body onto his office chair. There were only two reasons that Jack Harkness would be calling Rhys. The first reason was that he was phoning to gloat over the fact he'd bedded Rhys' lovely wife and they were now running off to Hawaii together, or the second more likely option was that Gwen - his gorgeous, wonderful Gwen – had been killed working for Torchwood.
'Everything alright?' Rhys' voice sounded worried to his own ears.
'Thing is, Rhys, I've got some bad news and some good news.'
'What's the bad news?'
'I've lost your wife.'
'What do you mean you've lost my wife, Jack?'
'Um, well-' Jack Harkness was flustered, and Jack Harkness didn't really do flustered. 'Lost, as in misplaced temporarily, but that's where the good news comes in, Rhys Williams. I need you to help me get her back.' He sounded like a game show host with all his false cheer. Rhys was worried.
'What do you mean you need my help?'
And that was how it had started. Jack Harkness had asked for Rhys' help, and he'd given it. Not for Torchwood – no, Rhys didn't work for them, not quite yet anyway. Not for Cardiff – he loved his city, but half the time he didn't love the idiots that populated it on the Friday night. Certainly not for Jack Harkness and his love of macho posing, but for Gwen.
The problem was, that Jack Harkness' idea of help was 'stand there and look pretty while I do everything because I think you're too dumb to touch anything of value within our secret base'. Jack was busy talking at a hundred miles an hour, running from one level to another, looking up in search of Gwen and Ianto every now and again and discovering he only had Rhys Williams at his disposal. His face would fall for a moment before he'd dash off somewhere else to get another part for whatever it was Jack was trying to build.
Rhys was sat at his wife's desk trying very hard not to rifle through the contents of it. It was in an absolute state, though. There were reminders littering it, post-it notes attached to every available document and surface as well as a half drunk cup of coffee. Gwen had written her name in sharpie across the side of the mug. She'd spent ages ranting about how mugs kept going missing in the Hub the previous week. She'd been convinced they kept disappearing into a black hole somewhere, or Ianto was refusing to wash them because no one else did, so just kept throwing them out. She'd lost her favourite mug, that was the problem. The one with a Keep Calm poster embossed on the side of it. Rhys didn't have the heart to tell her he'd broken the handle off it the other week and was still trying to glue it back together.
There were other things that made it Gwen's desk. The crumpled photo of Tosh and Owen pinned to one of the uprights as well as Gwen and her cousin's puppy that she'd tried to talk Rhys into looking after for a week. Rhys wasn't a dog person. He shifted a half dead potted plant to find his own ugly mug staring out at him with cross-eyes. He laughed. Jack stopped talking out loud and looked up.
'Something you wanted to add?'
'What? Me? No. No, nothing to add.'
Gwen's computer started flashing at him then, the words RIFT WARNING in large red letters. Rhys immediately put his hands in the air and wheeled himself back away from the computer. Jack swore and left what he was doing to pull on his coat before gathering up the parts he'd been tinkering with.
'Right, time to go. Grab that bag will you, Rhys. I'll have to finish this on the way.'
Rhys looked down at the large holdall at his feet before tugging it onto his shoulder. 'Bloody hell! What you got in here? Ton of bricks?'
'Something a bit more effective than that.' Jack was sweeping out the hub then, coat flapping behind him. Rhys tried to pull his leather jacket straight underneath the bag strap as he hurried to catch up with Jack who was disappearing down a passage. Someone had painted the words 'To garage' followed by a little white arrow on the wall.
The fire door swung open ahead of them into an underground car park that Rhys recognised.
'This is the Wales Millennium Centre, this is.'
'Free parking and free tickets to the Opera when we ask nicely. Ianto's a promise member of the WNO.' Jack winked as he took the bag from Rhys and slung it in the boot before shoving the box of parts in beside it.
'I'll drive,' Rhys said.
Jack looked sceptical, the keys still fisted in his right hand.
'Look, you need to fix that who-ja-ke-flip and you can't do that if you're driving. You're also forgetting I drive for a living, I'm not going to wreck your precious mystery machine joyriding it through the town now am I?'
Rhys made a mental to note to ask Gwen if he could have a day at a racetrack for Christmas or his Birthday this year – he knew she earned enough with Torchwood to be able to afford it. He was having the time of his ruddy life as the Sat Nav barked directions at him and the residents of Cardiff gave him a wide berth like he was the traffic cops. Jack was still busy talking about wires and electrons and other maths related things that Rhys wasn't really interested in. He was too busy staring past the wipers working overtime as he bombed it down the bypass.
'So do we know where Gwen is now then?'
'Hopefully she and Ianto are at the centre of all this rift energy that's creating the electrical storm.'
A spark of lightening ricocheted across the sky followed by the bang of thunder as if to make Jack's point. They sped towards the motorway, Rhys a little worried about aquaplaning as traffic ahead of him jumped out his way onto traffic islands and into lay-bys.
'The source is creating an electro-magnetic focal point that everything seems to be revolving around like an electron around-'
Rhys wondered if his Gwen understood half the things that Jack talked about, or half the bits of technology that were even in the car, let alone the hub. The dashboard was lit up like something out of Thunderbirds. Maybe he could get a job playing Parker to their Lady Penelope. He'd never underestimated his Gwen, but even all this science fiction malarkey seemed a bit beyond her ken. He knew she was smarter than him. She had always shown him up in the classes they shared at college and she knew how the HD/DVD/DVR/VHS box thing that his mam had got them for Christmas worked, which was more than Rhys did. He'd managed to get it out the box and plugged in and figured out how to get BBC HD in time for the rugby, but that was it.
'Which is where you come in, Rhys.'
Rhys hadn't been listening.
'Where I come in?'
'That bag you dragged out to the car contains our big gun. I need you to go in like Indiana Jones and create a distraction. You're our secret weapon, Rhys. I've heard you're pretty handy with a chainsaw so this shouldn't be too difficult for you.' Jack chuckled at his own joke and Rhys frowned, remembering his wedding day and how Torchwood had ruined it.
'You with me on this, Rhys?' Rhys had pulled the SUV to a halt outside the abandoned industrial estate at Llandaff where the BBC used to be. Clouds were gathering above them in swirling clumps and Rhys wished he'd paid a little more attention while Jack was prattling on. Maybe he'd be more prepared.
The only thing Rhys was thinking about though as he lugged the gun up onto his shoulder and prepared to follow Jack into almost certain death was Gwen and how for once he was getting to play the hero.
There wasn't really much to it, Rhys realised. Point the gun in the general direction of the thing and pull the trigger. It was all speedy, jerky movements that Rhys couldn't make out but he just kept aiming in the general direction and hitting the trigger until his hand started to cramp. Jack was yelling at him to stop as what had once been producing things now seemed to be sucking them back in. Rhys didn't really care as long as it wasn't trying to kill him anymore.
Rhys let the gun drop from his shoulder with a heavy clatter and Jack took it from him, clapping him on the shoulder in celebration.
'Spilt up. We need to find Ianto and Gwen before this building ceases to exist.'
Rhys didn't really want to know the logistics. He jogged from room to room, turning over pallets and left over props from sci-fi shows that were no longer running. He shoved aside racks of costumes looking for his wife before he heard Jack yelling in the distance.
Gwen and Ianto were sat side by side in a three-sided set that was supposed to represent a police cell. The fourth wall was missing, as was the camera. They weren't chained to anything, but they weren't moving either. Jack was knelt beside Ianto, a hand against the pulse point on his neck.
'They're fine, just unconscious.'
'Gwen! Gwen, love, you alright? Gwen?'
'Rhys, there's no time for declarations of love. We need to go.'
Rhys turned to see Jack lifting Ianto in a fireman's carry, an arm hooked through the crook of Ianto's knee, keeping him in place by clinging onto the fabric of his shirt by his wrist. Jack still had the cannon of a gun clutched in his left hand.
The building was shaking, bits of plaster crumbling from the walls. One side of the police cell fell backwards with a loud thwack as Rhys bent down to lift his wife in his arms. The last time he'd carried her bridal style had been on a night out when they were still in college, feet too sore to walk home and too drunk to cling onto him when he offered her a piggyback. She hadn't even let him carry her over the threshold into the bridal suite.
The building disappeared with a final pop, blinking out of existence and leaving Rhys and Jack stood next to the SUV where there had once been several large warehouses and the BBC studios. The rain began to ease off as Gwen stirred in Rhys' arms.
'Gwen? You alright, love?'
'Rhys? What are you doing here? Me and Ianto we tried to-'
'It's fine, love. Me and Jack sorted it.'
'You and Jack?'
'Yeah, something to do with electromagnetism. It's all sorted now. Cardiff's safe to live another day oblivious. Although, I'm not so sure Harwoods will still be standing by the time I get back.' Gwen blinked up at him in almost disbelief. Out of the corner of his eye Rhys could see Ianto protesting at being manhandled as Jack refused to put him down. When Rhys looked back at Gwen she was smiling the widest smile he had ever seen.