Four Ways Jack and Gwen Fell In Love, And One Way They Didn't
Torchwood ; Jack/Gwen, Gwen/Rhys, Jack/Ianto, Jack/Gwen/Ianto ; PG-13 ; 1700 words
Four AUs off different bits of Torchwood, and one coda to 'Something Borrowed'.
The new copper's brilliant, it's undeniable. She's smart and brash and so certain of her humanity, not like his team, the broken souls that Jack collects like driftwood. He's not certain they need her, but he knows that he wants her.
"So," he asks, because she didn't say, "what's the story? Boyfriend, girlfriend, exotic polyamorous set-up?"
She laughs, looking shocked, and Jack makes a promise to bring out that look on her face as often as possible. "No," she says, "no, and definitely not!"
Jack smiles easily, and they stand on the rooftop in silence for a moment. Cardiff looks beautiful today. He steals a glance at Gwen, and the future stretches out, suddenly. She'll work for him, and challenge him, a push and pull that will never stop, and he'll need it, crave it, end up falling head over heels, probably. Then one day the fighting turns to sex, and he'll be able to kiss her breathless, run his hands through her hair as she arches against him, reminding him what it is to be alive.
It's been a long time since he last fell in love.
But this could be a terrible idea. Torchwood breaks everyone in the end, and maybe she'll snap, grow cold and tired, even wind up next to Suzie's body in the morgue, and Jack's not sure how many more times he can stand it. He takes a long breath, hating himself a little for what he knows he's really asking of her, and turns to her.
"Job going spare now," he says. "Do you want it?"
Her eyes grow wide with uncertainty and wonder, and there's an ache deep in Jack's chest, raw and wonderfully human, as she says, "Yeah. Yeah, I do."
Jack gets back from Ianto's flat, numbness slowing his steps, making it almost impossible to walk up to his office, past the used coffee mugs, the untidy paperwork, the reminders that once there was someone else who worked here.
He's not surprised that Gwen's still here.
"Jack?" she asks, voice full of concern. "What happened, is Ianto all right?"
"Oh, he's fine," he tells her bleakly, sinking into his chair. "He retconned himself, left me a note asking me to destroy anything that would remind him of Torchwood, or Lisa." Or me. A week since a Cyberman nearly killed them and Jack's still being freshly reminded of all the ways he never really knew Ianto Jones at all.
"I'm so sorry," Gwen tells him. She studies him for a moment. "Were you and he --?"
Jack sighs. "I thought--" He shakes his head, wordless. She rests a hand on his arm, steady and radiating comfort, and it helps.
Jack is back from the dead and it's the day after the end of the world. Some people have died, but more have lived, and he'll take his victories wherever he can find them.
"Jack." Gwen stands at his doorway, and the tone of her voice, the look on her face, makes him sit up a little straighter, something nervous and thrilling curling inside.
"Just - just don't say anything until I'm finished, all right?" she begins. "I can't keep doing this any more, Jack, I can't pretend like it isn't happening, that I don't--" She stops, takes a breath, starts again. "I helped to tear open the Rift to get Rhys back, but afterwards, when you died, it wasn't him I came home to. I stayed with you. I stayed with you, because-- I love Rhys, I really do, but not the way I love you." She spread her arms wide, open and defiant and strangely vulnerable. "And I don't know what that means, I don't know whether you'll have to retcon me now or whether you're even capable of having real feelings for anyone any more, but here I am. Here I am, Jack sodding Harkness, telling you I'm in love with you."
Jack gets up slowly, walking towards her until he can reach out, run his hand down her arm and hold her hand.
"Jack?" she says, little above a whisper.
"I'm capable," he answers. "Believe me, I am."
He couldn't say why he still hesitates, but he does, and so it's Gwen who moves, reaching up to take his face between her hands and pouring herself into kissing him. Jack gasps with something like relief, holding onto her and moving them backwards, and he's running through options, wondering whether to navigate them down to bed or whether simply to let her fall back against the desk and press open-mouthed kisses down her until he draws out his name from her lips. But those alternatives and many more besides would mean he'd need to stop kissing her, and he can't bring himself to yet, not when it feels like she's bringing him back to life all over again.
In a corner of the Hub, a jar is glowing gold, the hand inside twitching slightly. Ianto pauses, hearing a strange sound. He stares at it, and then goes up to Jack's office to tell him, ablaze with curiosity.
The door is ajar. Ianto stands there for a long moment, unwilling to watch, unable to move away. He does not interrupt.
"Don't marry him," Jack says suddenly, the words that have been running through his head all day, buried safely away until now.
"What?" Gwen sounds baffled, angry.
"Don't marry Rhys." He's up in her space now, a hand against the wall behind her and looking at her with an intensity even he finds startling. "You can't. You marry him, and you'll want to leave, you'll have to. But I won't let you. Your place is here, you belong to me. All of you, you and Ianto, Tosh and Owen too, you're mine."
She breaks away from him, a hitch in her breathing, and for three weeks nothing happens. Some days she barely speaks to him, other days it's as though the conversation never happened. But then one night Jack gets back from a nasty run-in with a pack of Weevils and Gwen and Ianto are waiting for him. They let him hold them, every touch of skin a reminder that they're his, every kiss an oath of fidelity.
Later, they'll be dazed and entangled, Jack's hand over Ianto's and his arm around Gwen, holding her as close as he's able. Ianto will sit up slightly, surveying the scene with serene amusement and inquire why exactly it is that they never did this sooner.
"What the hell, Harkness," Owen snaps.
Jack blinks. "Ah, hello, Owen, how nice to see you, I hope you managed to get some rest after all our work clearing up Gwen's wedding yesterday? That's a more pleasant way of greeting your co-workers, I always thought."
Owen glares at him. Jack shuts up. "You're a real wanker, you do know that."
"What have I done now?" Jack asks, frowning.
"I mean, even by your own standards of free love and shagging anything with a phone number, hitting on Gwen two hours after she got hitched is pretty low."
"It doesn't really matter if she's the love of your whole bloody immortal life, you have missed your chance by a mile - the ship has sailed, and you're just going to have to deal with the fact that yes, there really is a woman out there who would choose another bloke over you."
"Owen, what are you talking about?"
"And although I absolutely will disembowel you if you tell him I said this, while we're here it's worth noting that that whole performance was a pretty shitty thing to do to the teaboy, as well. Anyone with eyes can see how he feels about you, and if you're just using him as a convenience then you've really got to stop."
Jack can feel a headache coming on. "Wait, wait. You're saying that you think I'm secretly in love with Gwen, trying to steal her away from Rhys, and using Ianto for sex in the meantime?"
Owen shrugs. "That's what it looked like yesterday.
Well, crap. "Does Gwen think that?" Jack asks. "Does Ianto?"
"I have no idea," says Owen. "Sounds like you need to find out, though."
"Right, right." Jack nods. "Okay. Thanks, Owen."
Owen rolls his eyes and walks away, muttering to himself.
"Jack? What is it, what's happened?"
Gwen sounds panicky on the phone and Jack's quick to reassure her. "No, nothing, everything's fine. How's the honeymoon?"
"It's lovely," Gwen says cautiously, "or it was, until it got interrupted by work. What's up?"
Jack hesitates, not really having planned this far ahead. "Are you secretly in love with me?"
"Good, because I'm not either."
"Jack, what the hell?" Gwen sounds torn between irritation and flat-out confusion.
"Something Owen said."
Gwen sighs. "Jack, look. I know there's been a bit of a thing, a bit of a history, but I chose Rhys a long time ago."
"No, I know - and I'm glad! I'm very happy for you, Gwen."
"Well, good. And you've got Ianto, right?"
Jack grins. "I do."
"Right then. It's not that I don't appreciate this attempt at emotional honesty from you, but my husband has just brought me lunch and is looking rather delectable himself, so if you don't mind I'd quite like to get back to my marital bliss now."
Jack laughs. "Give him my love, and I promise not to call again."
"Bye, Jack," Gwen says fondly and hangs up.
"Do you think I only settled for you because Gwen got engaged?" Jack asks Ianto later.
Ianto shoots him a look, which Jack is pretty sure means is this really a question to be asking when we're naked? Jack concedes that Ianto has a point.
"No, I don't think that," Ianto says slowly. "Why?"
Jack can feel Owen's wrath emanating from wherever he is at the moment and shrugs evasively. "Just asking. Because I didn't. I could have anybody, half this city's mad for me even if they don't realise it yet. I don't do 'settling'."
He gets a derisive laugh for that, but then Ianto leans over to kiss him. "I don't think you settled for me," he says. "But it's nice to hear you say it all the same."