Bascially this is sort of a navel-gazing thing because I'm still kind of distressed to find myself in a position where I'm being given the Holy Grail of canon-slash and rejecting it. There it is on my screen, a level of sexual openness, (if not IMAO emotional intimacy) that would cause happy dancing and general frivolity if it occurred on a certain medical show, and I find myself rooting for the tacitly competing Het pairing.
One more time, I'm not a Jack/Gwen shipper per se, but I am an anti-Jack/Ianto shipper and despite the unbelievable subtext and brilliant acting in the Jack/Owen scenes, it doesn't look like that's getting pursued anytime soon, which makes Jack/Gwen my only default on-screen defense. Which makes me feel like a very bad slash fan. (Would I be in this state if I hadn't declared myself by bi-fictional already? In other words if I was one of those EWWWWWWWWWWWW HET! people, maybe this wouldn't be an issue because I would ONLY wear slash-glasses.)
SO-here's the thought experiment, which I've posited to myself.
WHAT IF--PC Ianto Jones had stumbled into Torchwood, where Captain Jack was carrying on an openly flirtatious, possibly sexual relationship with his sexy assistant Gwen. Everything else stays the same, including Cyber-girlfriend in the cellar, meaning that Gwen is probably mainly gay but "bi for her own purposes," the relationship with Owen, showing that Ianto is plenty willing to go with men and just waiting for Jack to make some kind of commitment. Even keep Rhys as Ianto's solid partner back home. (Or if that's too much give him an adorable wife/girlfriend.)
In other words, what if there were some kind of established Het relationship going on and Jack/Ianto was the banner of all things unspoken and USTY including goo-goo eyes and sexy gun scenes?
Trying to be absolutely honest with myself, I think I'd be much more drawn to that scenario, because there'd actually be something at stake. Maybe it's not that I'm a bad slasher, but that I'm looking for some angst and drama and not seeing it over on the J/I side right now. Assuming what we've been shown and can intuit without the decoder ring, Ianto loves Jack. Jack is happy with what he's getting from Ianto. Aside from just OMG MEN KISSING EEEEEEEEE!!!, who really cares?
In the opposite scenario, there's way more at stake, and the m/m stuff would be far more charged, if/when it happened. Let's say Jack comes back and finds out Ianto's girlfriend (if we go that way) is pregnant, gets THAT LOOK on his face and in the next scene is trying to convince Gwen to go on a date, instead of just shagging in the hub?
Now this raises the question of how the fandom would feel if Jack treated Gwen (or any woman) the way he's treated Ianto in terms of the sexual innuendoes, including the "looks good in a suit," the request for a costume, and the answer to "what will you do while I'm gone." Pizza, Gwen, save the world.
Would he be our charming Jack or would he be a sexist pig?
Would the J/I fans still be gah-gah for the pairing if it were contingent on Ianto cheating on either his boyfriend or his girlfriend and interfering with the "established" sexual relationship between Jack and Gwen? And what if it were a man who was going to give Torchwood (and Jack) back his humanity? Would there be Ianto-hate to match Gwen-hate or would everything be forgiven because OMG m/m UST and the "prettiness" of GDL?
Again, I think, I'd be much more accepting of that version, be truly invested in J/I getting together and might even resent Gwen. Who knows, I might end up hating her for hanging around the hub, stalking Jack and generally being an emotional drip.
Like I said, just thinking out loud, because this bothers me way more than a fictional situation should.