She sat on the edge of the bed, watching him with eyes that missed nothing. He was angry; she knew that. She even understood why. The guilt continued to gnaw at her unrelentingly, and she wasn't sure she would ever be rid of it. Trumping the guilt, though, was the knowledge that everything she had done had been for the welfare of her daughter, and she was quietly confident that he understood.
He didn't cease his actions, nor did he bother to glance at her. He did, however, tense visibly at the sound of her voice. Sighing, she slid off the bed and approached him. Her hands alighted on his shoulders and she rubbed soothingly.
"Stop it, Jack. We need to talk."
The words barely made it out of her mouth before Jack swung around, slapping her hands away from him. He wasn't gentle about it, either.
"Don't. Don't touch me."
She stared at him and, even though she knew why he was reacting like that, her mind tried to deny it.
"What do you mean, don't touch you? Jack, it's me..."
The sneer that crept across his face and twisted his lips unpleasantly sent a chill through her.
"I know it's you. Just, don't."
"Oh, for God's sake, Jack, are you going to keep holding that against me? You know why I did it. My daughter was in danger. Do you really think I should have just sat back and let them do whatever they wanted to her?"
The sneer faded, though not entirely.
"No. I understand why you did what you did. But that doesn't mean I have to like it... or even forgive you for it."
His words were like a slap across her face. She stared at him, momentarily gob-smacked.
"You've always forgiven me before," she protested finally, unable to accept that he meant what he said.
"You would have let them kill me!" Jack exploded and the sheer force of his rage sent her stumbling backwards, away from him. "You would have stood there and let them kill me right in front of you! When you had to know they probably weren't going to let them go!"
"I had to," Gwen choked out. "Jack, I had to. You know I had to. You would have done the same for your daughter..."
She trailed off very abruptly, knowing in her heart that she'd just said exactly the wrong thing. Jack stared at her, and for the just the second time since she'd met him, she saw the truth in his eyes; that as much as he might have loved her, she was still expendable.
Jack advanced on her, menacing and terrifying, until he was hovering over her and she had no clear way to escape.
"I killed my grandson to save this stinking planet, and I did it while my daughter watched. I saw the hatred in her eyes afterwards and I know she'll never forgive me for that betrayal. It doesn't matter that I didn't have a choice. She will never forgive me. Now tell me, Gwen Cooper Williams, what makes you so damned special that you deserve forgiveness for betraying me?"
Her mouth moved, but nothing came out. Tears leaked from her eyes and rolled unchecked down her cheeks. Years ago, Jack knew that look might have swayed him, but no more. But even so, despite all that had happened, he had no desire to kill her.
Jack stepped away, allowing her to sit up.
"What choice did I have?" she asked hoarsely. "You tell me, Jack Harkness, what choice did I have?"
"You could have trusted me," he said flatly. The rage was gone from his voice, as quickly as it had appeared, and now he just seemed exhausted. "All this time, and you never truly trusted me. Well, guess what, Gwen? The feeling's mutual."
She was still considering an answer to that when he rounded on her again. It seemed that her push for resolution between them had unlocked the doors of his emotions, but it was as far from what she expected as was humanly – or inhumanly – possible.
"You said you were being honest. While we were in the car, you said you were being honest."
"Yes," she answered, suddenly wondering whether she was just digging a deeper grave for herself. The truth was, she had never been this afraid of him, and now all she wanted to do was flee. Something warned her not to try.
"So you were secretly glad when Owen and Tosh died? And what about Ianto? How did you really feel, sitting next to his dead body?"
She started to look away, only to yelp as he grabbed her fiercely by the chin and forced her to meet his gaze.
"Tell me, how did it make you feel when Ianto died?"
"Good!" she burst out. "Terrible! I don't know!"
"Did you think you finally had a chance with me?" Jack demanded to know. "Is that what you were thinking? And that night that I left Earth. You really thought you were enough to keep me here? Well, it's my turn to be honest, Gwen. You were never enough. You will never be enough."
"You came back for me," she countered, crying freely now. Jack laughed – actually laughed in her face.
"You make it sound like some big unrequited love. Reality check, Gwen. I might have thought I loved you once, but it was just infatuation. Nothing more, nothing less. You reminded me of someone I once knew and I kidded myself into thinking her were just like her, but you're not."
"And what about Ianto, then?" she asked. "Did you love him?"
"Oh yes," Jack breathed out, and for a split second the anger and the hatred and betrayal was gone as he remembered his long-dead lover. "Yes, I loved him. I had a chance to have him back, too. It might have been at the expense of the planet, but I could have had him back. And you know something? I was willing to take it. To hell with the planet, I could have had my Ianto back. Out of all the people I've ever loved and lost, he was the one I wanted back more than anything. Him, alone. And you know something else? If it had been you instead of him, I would never have thought twice. It would have been easy to let you go a second time."
He was being cruel, and he knew it, but she was the one who had brought Ianto's name up. She was trying to hurt him, and he had no qualms about hurting her. Not any longer. He was done.
"You're a liar," Gwen whispered. Jack sneered again.
"And you're a hypocrite."
"Don't you dare say you aren't. You know how much of a hypocrite you are, Gwen How often have you lied when you didn't need to? Even before you knew anything about me, about Torchwood, about any of this. Don't you dare blame me, because you were a compulsive liar long before Torchwood got hold of you."
She wanted to argue. She really did. In the end, she couldn't, because she knew he was right. She'd weaved a web of lies around herself from even before she'd stumbled onto Torchwood. They'd started off small, but they'd grown in size until she was telling lies to protect existing lies. Until she didn't know how to tell the truth anymore, until forced into a corner that she couldn't talk her way out of.
Jack nodded, and she thought she caught a glimpse of satisfaction in his eyes.
"I hired you to remind me of what it was like to be human, but I put my faith in the wrong person. It was never you who was going to remind me of that. The only thing you ever showed me was belligerence, arrogance and hypocrisy. And betrayal, so many times over!"
"Twice!" Gwen argued. "I betrayed you twice, Jack, and both times it was to save my family!"
"The first time you risked the world," Jack thundered, "and the second time you risked me!"
"And you forgave me, that first time. Why can't you forgive me now?"
Jack took a step away from her.
"Because I don't want to."
Again, it was like a slap across her face. She stared at him in shock and distress, but the emotions had no effect on him.
"So this is it, then?" she demanded finally. "You're happy to just wash your hands of me and run away again? One thing I never took you for, Jack Harkness, is a coward."
It was a cheap shot, and she knew it, but it altogether failed to have the desired effect. Instead of furthering the argument, Jack seemed to relax and a grin began to spread across his lips.
"Goodbye, Gwen. I do love you, you know. But if I ever set eyes on you again, I will kill you."
It was as blunt and plain a threat as he had ever delivered, particularly to her, and she knew from the look on his face that he was not bluffing. She stood there by the bed as he picked up a small case and started to leave, not daring to follow him.
"You'll come back eventually," she called after him. "I know you will."
"You'd better hope I don't," he called back to her, his tone all the more ominous for not being able to see his face, and for the pleasantness that she knew was just a well-constructed facade. She listened to his footsteps faded, and even after she could no longer hear any sound of him, she continued to wait quietly. It was nearly a full half hour later before she finally left the room, and headed home to her husband and daughter, and back to an ordinary life.