Character/Pairings: Rhiannon Davies (Jack/Ianto, suspected Jack/Gwen)
Rating: PG13 (plus language warning for one F-bomb.)
WARNINGS: Dark!fic. Takes place post-Miracle Day, but deals with events of CoE and canon character death. Possible grief triggers. Read at your own risk.
Notes: Written for MMOM 2012, Day 31. Thanks to book_junkie007 for Beta. Remaining glitches are my own. Thus we end another Merry Month. Final thoughts and a masterlist (ahem) coming on Monday.
Summary: Rhiannon sees a familiar face and then wishes she hadn't.
The pain never went away.
One minute she might be helping the kids with some homework, or making dinner or even just taking a moment to read the latest movie star gossip on the internet and the next she’d feel like the world was falling out from under her and there was nothing to do but cry. Her brother was dead and nothing could make the pain stop.
Johnny had done his best for her. He was a good man, a good father, but Rhiannon could tell it was getting harder for him to be a good husband. Not his fault, really. She’d been pushing him away, lest they both be consumed by her grief. They never talked about it, but there were times they might as well have been flat-mates for all the love she was capable of feeling. It wasn’t fair, she knew, but then how could anything be fair when her baby brother was gone, and for what? That was the worst of it. Gwen had tried to explain; tried to make it seem like Ianto had died doing something heroic.
Rhiannon knew it must be true. She’d seen the men with the guns coming for the children, but it still made no sense, especially the bit where Ianto and this mysterious Captain Harkness had confronted the so-called aliens. This was where Gwen always got that guilty look on her face, as though she knew how ludicrous it sounded. Eventually, she would just shake her head and say, “It’s Torchwood,” as if that explained everything.
She missed Gwen, too. Somehow they’d become friends. Gwen had let Rhiannon vent her anger and cry for her brother. Even if Gwen didn’t know Ianto as well as she thought, at least she’d cared about him. She told Rhiannon stories about how fastidious Ianto had been at work and about how Torchwood couldn’t have functioned without his organisational skills. In return, Rhiannon had advised Gwen on what to expect from pregnancy, practically coaching her right up to the hilarious moment she went into labour while they were in the bakery section of Tesco’s sneaking éclairs.
And then she disappeared. Rhiannon had come round to the hospital with Johnny and the kids, bearing all manner of flowers, stuffed animals and chocolates, only to find the room empty and a bitch of a matron who insisted that there had never been a Gwen Williams there and if they didn’t leave immediately security would be called. It was a close thing, but Johnny eventually got her calmed down enough to avoid actual arrest. Rhiannon frantically called every number Gwen had given her, plus trying directory assistance for Gwen Cooper, Gwen Williams and even Torchwood. Nothing. She’d added the loss to her other sorrows and it just made things that much worse at home. Now she had no one who could make her smile by saying that Ianto was the unsung hero of the weirdest wedding in history or that there ought to be a shrine built to his coffee-making skills.
When that madness with the Miracle broke out, she couldn’t help thinking that it must have something to do with Torchwood. She kept hoping Gwen would show up to explain everything. How could death just stop when it was too late to save her brother? It was like a curse, like God was spitting on her personally. She needed someone to talk to; someone who understood, and there was no one. Then the bloody thing stopped and life went back to normal, but for her there was no normal. There was never going to be a normal again. There were just days that weren’t as bad.
Like a crisp Monday in May. The air was still raw, but the sun was shining on the Bay and she’d decided to treat herself to a bit of shopping at John Lewis. There were some nice blouses; a few scarves in bright colours. When was the last time she’d bought something so pretty? She couldn’t remember. She also picked out some shirts for Mica and a pair of shorts for David. The children had come through their own ordeal unscathed and Rhiannon had tried to shield them from her mourning as much as possible, but Mica was a sensitive girl; she knew something was wrong with Mummy, maybe more than just missing Uncle Ianto.
How could she explain? She barely understood it herself. They’d seen him so little the past few years, but now his absence was like a hole in her heart that just kept getting bigger.
Better days, Rhiannon thought; better days.
It was getting late and she needed to get back home. Maybe a stop for some tea first. She could use a lift before getting on the bus and the café had a carrot cake that could take the edge of almost the worst of her grief, if only for a few minutes. No sooner had she turned around from paying the cashier than she was hit right between the eyes with the last person she’d honestly expected to see that day.
Speak of the devil.
It was Gwen Cooper herself. Here in Cardiff, having tea with Rhys as though nothing had ever happened to her. Her black leather jacket and hair were equally shiny. Of course she’d gotten her figure back. Little wisp like her probably took all the baby weight off in the first month. Rhiannon shook off that petty resentment as well as the frustration with Gwen’s disappearance. There must have been a good reason and Rhiannon intended to sit down with Gwen and Rhys and hear all about it. She started to walk over before she realised something that hit her like a second blow to the heart, this one a killer.
That wasn’t Rhys.
Rhys was certainly a fine figure of a man and a good one, from what Rhiannon had seen. He had been over the moon about becoming a father. What he was not, was a man so handsome it nearly took Rhiannon’s breath away and reminded her of a conversation with Susan that she’d repeated to Ianto.
Susan said he was gorgeous. Like a film star. Like an escort.
Only about a million times more. Rhiannon had thought Susan meant someone like Hugh Grant or Colin Firth, maybe even Brad Pitt, but this man made any of them look quite plain by comparison. Maybe he resembled Tom Cruise a bit, but there was something beyond merely conventional good looks. You couldn’t look at him and not want him. No wonder Ianto had…changed.
So this was Captain Jack Harkness, the man who couldn’t be arsed to show up at her brother’s funeral. Gwen had tried to explain that Jack was hiding from powerful enemies. Besides, she insisted, it would be too painful for him because he’d loved Ianto so much. That was her constant theme. Jack and Ianto. Ianto and Jack. The best of friends and passionate lovers. Gwen had gone on and on, telling her stories. The pet names, the in-jokes, the numerous times Gwen had caught them in some compromising position. If her brother had been truly loved by this man, then maybe, just maybe, he hadn’t died in vain. She could walk up and shake his hand and thank him for caring for Ianto.
The words never came. Another fragment from Susan’s breathless gossip came back her.
Well, no girl was getting her feet round that table, no chance.
In this case, no man or girl. They both had cups of tea in front of them, but Rhiannon suspected it had long turned cold. Jack had his hands on Gwen’s and he was looking at her with a gaze that seemed to shut out everyone and everything around them. If Rhiannon were some outer space beastie with a ray-gun, she would have been able to walk up and shoot them both dead on sight and they’d never see it coming. And they’d both bloody well deserve it.
She felt a rage bubbling up in her chest. How dare Jack fucking Harkness look at anyone that way? If he had truly loved her brother, he should still be mourning, like she was. He should mourn forever as far as Rhiannon was concerned. How could she believe a single thing Gwen had said when Jack was clearly infatuated with her and she was sparkling right back at him? Had this gone on while Ianto was still alive? Did he even know? If they were both making a fool of her dear, sweet, trusting brother, she would walk over there and rip their miserable throats out with her bare hands.
At the very least, she needed to demand an answer. Get in Jack’s pretty face and shout at the top of her lungs, “Did you love my brother?”
What was the point? She already knew how well Gwen could lie. Torchwood was all about lies and she had no doubt that Jack could lie just as well. Put on an expression of grief and tell her that Ianto had meant the world to him, that he still missed him and that he’d never love anyone that way again. It was too late. Rhiannon had seen the truth on his and Gwen’s faces. That was love.
She had half a mind to ring up Rhys, if she could find him, and tell him exactly what was going on with his wife and Captain Harkness while Rhys watched the baby. It was a deliciously vindictive thought and she clung to it for a few seconds before giving up. Rhys had become part of Torchwood and Torchwood did things to people. Either he already knew and didn’t care or he’d chosen not to know.
Rhiannon left the store, tea undrunk and cake hastily shoved in a bin. She couldn’t eat; she could barely find her way back to the bus stop. The hopeful sun had given way to a typical Cardiff evening gloom. Somehow she made it on good luck and instinct. It was only when she was sat on the bus, watching the familiar streets through the fog that she was able to choke back an extremely bitter laugh. Goddamn you, Jack Harkness, she thought.
Now she wouldn’t be able to…not that she ever should have been. It was wrong, disgusting even. She blamed it on Gwen and her stories, although she’d been the one begging Gwen for more details; hanging on to every scrap like the last crumbs of a birthday cake. The one about Jack and Ianto in the greenhouse. Or the time she’d found them going at it on a swinging contraption of some kind. Or just the moments when Jack had called her in to give her an assignment while he and Ianto lolled in bed with a plateful of croissants and a copy of the Western Mail. She’d put those together with the Welsh endearments Gwen claimed that Jack and Ianto used for each other and created a fantasy world. Sometimes she visited that world to watch them, to know her brother was happy. It was the only thing that brought her any joy.
Somewhere she’d crossed a line, touching herself while she imagined her brother in the act of… eating croissants.
She still gave Johnny a tumble now and again, just to be a good sport, but she didn’t feel anything. It was only when she imagined Ianto and Jack making love that she felt a warm glow moving through her body. It had become her one pleasure and now it was gone. Now she’d always see Jack looking at Gwen; somehow that ruined it.
Another thing Torchwood had taken from her.