TARDIS Travel – Not For Everyone
Disclaimer: Yep, I do not own anything.
Summary: Jack and Ianto have to explain to Gwen that traveling with the Doctor is not as glamorous as she thinks it is. Ianto/Jack. Donna/Doctor. Some Gwen-bashing.
As you've probably guessed, I'm not the biggest fan of Gwen. (Personally, I find her annoying and altogether useless, serving no real function on the show.)
Anyway, the main focus of this remains the awesome and adorable relationship between Ianto Jones and Jack Harkness.
The presence of the TARDIS at the end of the road stood there as a testament to the sheer oddity that was the Doctor and his traveling companions. To normal people, it wasn't important and they didn't give it the time of day. But, to those people who had spent any time with the Doctor and had been forever changed by his presence in their lives, the blue police box was the gateway into seeing something that was bigger than they had previously thought.
And, to those few who were an extension of the people who traveled (or had traveled) with the Doctor, the presence of the TARDIS was either a blessing or a curse, depending on the person.
For Gwen Williams (née Cooper), it was apparently a curse.
Jack's jaw was tense, Ianto observed, as he stared at the dark-haired woman sitting across the table from him. That was never a good sign, usually preceding a very large fight.
The day had started out so nicely. On Donna's suggestion, they (Ianto and Jack) had gone to visit Gwen, Rhys, and Anwen.
Donna thought it would be nice, since Ianto had just gotten back on his feet after recovering from the after-effects of the radiation poisoning (and death). That had been a slow recovery. Though he wouldn't carry any scars because of it, Ianto had, however, gotten a few premature streaks of gray in his hair, as a result of direct exposure to the radiation. He would have been vain about those streaks, if Jack hadn't mentioned (on multiple occasions) how much he liked said streaks on Ianto.
Anyway, Donna and the Doctor had extended an invitation to Rhys to bring Anwen out for the day and accompany the small family of Time Lords and Ladies around town. Knowing that Anwen and the twins were roughly the same age and had bonded on every meeting, Rhys gladly accepted since, as Donna had whispered to Ianto, a be pretty serious verbal argument that had been brewing for quite some time between Jack and Gwen.
It had been nice to catch up with Gwen and Rhys. Traveling through all of time and space generally made regular communication difficult, though Donna did make it a point to have regular communications with her mother and grandfather, especially since the twins were still so young. But that wasn't the case here.
Gwen had been kind and invited the pair of them to stay behind, to have tea with her. Ianto had accepted, if only to act as a buffer.
He had noted that Gwen didn't make coffee, much to Jack's clear dismay. Jack was an avid coffee drinker and would drink pretty much any form of coffee put in front of him, even if he still stuck to the point that Ianto's was the best.
Idle conversation had dominated the early parts of the afternoon, with Gwen talking all about how much Anwen enjoyed school (the girl was nearly six now), how Rhys' job at the advertising firm was going well, and how Gwen herself was liking being back on the police force, now that Anwen was going into school. Ianto had told her about how the twins were quite exception (even as a young Time Lord and Lady, respectively), how Donna and the Doctor were getting each other into and out of trouble, and how he and Jack had saved a few planets along the way.
He had noted that Gwen's eyebrow had twitched a tiny bit when he was talking about their adventures. Ianto had to wonder about how much she was missing their Torchwood days.
That was something that he and Jack talked about, as they lay close at night, reminiscing on old times.
Still, as he watched the tension in Jack's body, Ianto had to worry about Gwen's safety. Jack was bordering on dark, scary anger, an encounter from which few people ever survived.
It had been an off-comment from Gwen that had made Jack tense up like that, just a thoughtless statement about the wonders and paradise of traveling around and seeing the stars, coupled with the adventure of being the savior.
That struck a nerve, even with Ianto. He could forgive her romantic notions of what it was like, traveling through time and space. But he couldn't get over how she had continued on about what it must be like seeing those places, insinuating to Jack that she desired to have him show her what the stars looked like.
Was she really that daft?
"Gwen, that wasn't the smartest thing to say," he said quietly, trying to put some distance between her statement and what Jack was, no doubt, planning to do.
She looked at him. "What? What do you mean?"
He sighed. "Gwen, traveling with the Doctor is wonderful and all, but it's not as perfect as you have it cracked up to be. It's a hell of a lot worse than what we faced with Torchwood. Trust me, I know. I've been doing for over fifteen years."
"Oh come off it, Ianto. You're just being a dead-beat downer."
The memory of sirens and radiation and Jack's tormented face at Ianto's death and imminent following death played across his mind for not the first time.
"Really? Am I?" He leaned forward, pushing his teacup to the side. "The travel is wonderful, I won't lie, and I do like solving the problems that come with being a companion to the Doctor, but I cannot tell you how many times I've died or nearly died since I started traveling with him. It's not easy, even if you have the luxury of immortality."
Gwen rolled her eyes at him, patronizingly. "Really, Ianto, I don't see how bad it could possibly be. We've survived worse." She sniffed. "After all, I was there for Miracle Day."
Ianto drew a sharp breath. How could she be so dismissive of his warnings?
"You don't get it, do you, Gwen?" Ianto bit back. He saw Jack in his peripheral vision and Ianto knew that he had to do everything in his power to keep his husband from exploding at Gwen.
"What is there to get, Ianto?" she asked pointedly. "You two get to travel around the universe, seeing all those fantastic places that most people would only dream of seeing, while I'm stuck here, doing paperwork and figuring out how to deal with a Cardiff police force that just doesn't understand action!"
Jack's voice was level and cold. He didn't have to raise his voice to command their attention. Ianto shivered.
"Jack!" Gwen said, her voice a surprised whine. It took everything in Ianto's power not to roll his eyes at her statement. The Welshwoman just wasn't getting it and hadn't recognized the signs of an angry Jack.
"That's enough from you, Gwen Williams," Jack commanded. Gwen gasped but, thankfully, remained quiet. "This universe is a lot bigger and more dangerous than you can possibly imagine. But you'll never understand, if you can't even listen to one of your old teammates as he tries to explain. I should have seen it before." Jack shook his head. "You had a kind heart, once upon a time, and that's what got you into Torchwood, but you lost that heart, lost sight of what made you an asset to Torchwood. You became too involved with your own wants and own desires. I thought you were just innocent, naïve, that you would learn with time, but I was wrong. That was my mistake."
Ianto took his husband's hand and squeezed, reassuringly. Jack needed it, though he didn't show it.
"Jack," Gwen said, in an attempt to defend herself, "I want to be a part of your life again. I want to see what you see. Just because Ianto says it's hard doesn't mean I can't handle it. Don't keep me here! I can handle it!"
"Really?" Ianto saw the tears in his husband's eyes and his heart broke. Jack soldiered on. "Can you live with the memories of watching the love of your life die and you can't do anything to save them? Can you live, knowing that someone you care about dearly is suffering because they're helping, doing good? Can you live, seeing the person you promised to care and protect in pain and you can't be there to hold them because they're stuck in a radiation-filled room and you're on the other side of the glass?"
Then, and only then, did Jack break down.
He wept, the tears flowing freely. Ianto wrapped his arms around Jack, letting his husband bury his face into his shoulder. Jack needed the comfort, more than anyone.
Ianto looked at Gwen, who had wide and unbelieving eyes.
"Do you understand now?" he asked, his tone even.
There, finally, was a little bit of Gwen's heart.
He sighed. "This time? A nuclear reactor constructed to replace a sun's power. We shut it down, the Doctor, Donna, Jack, and me. We were helping the planet to fix their drift from their sun. There was an explosion in the reactor room and I was trapped inside, exposed to high levels of radiation." Ianto remembered that pain so well. "I died once and was on the verge of dying again before Donna figured out a way to release the radiation. It took me three weeks before the Doctor let me leave the TARDIS for more than an hour." Ianto tightened his hold on Jack. "You don't forget the looks on the faces of the people you love the most when you die."
Gwen was shell-shocked, expressionless but Ianto didn't care.
By the time the Doctor, Donna, the twins, Rhys, and Anwen had returned to the house, Jack's tears had subsided enough to make him semi-presentable, though he refused to budge an inch from Ianto's arms. Gwen was still silent, eyes wide, processing.
Rhys opened his mouth to say something, but Donna shushed him, shaking her head. She, in her infinite wisdom, had sensed what had happened and knew that Jack needed no further provocations.
With a friendly nod to Rhys and a kiss on Anwen's head, Ianto gathered Jack up in his arms and took him back to the TARDIS.
Back in their room, Jack finally spoke again.
"I don't believe her."
Ianto shook his head. "She didn't know, Jack. She believed traveling in the TARDIS was simple, easy, in comparison to Torchwood, or her life now."
Jack sighed raggedly. "Would it be alright if we don't do that again?"
"That's fine by me."
And that was how Jack and Ianto decided that Gwen would never travel with the Doctor.
So, what did you think? Let me know!