Characters: Owen, Gwen, Ianto, Tosh, Jack [slight Gwen/Rhys and Jack/Ianto]
Challenge/Prompt: philosophy_20, #20. Reflection
Word Count: 1655
Spoilers: 2x05 Adam.
Summary: After the events of Adam, the retconned team reflect on a few things.
Author’s Notes: All my Adam tie-ins are going to have musical sort of titles, ‘cause I want to. One of those little tie-ins that are always all kinds of fun.
The last two days are a big static-y blank, just like a video tape wiped clean. Owen feels a little like his brain is buzzing, and for some weird reason his mother is on his mind.
He tries not to think about his mum too much. Dwelling on his past is a bit like deliberately poking a bruise; you know it’s going to bloody hurt, so doing it is just embarrassingly masochistic. Besides, it’s such a cliché, much as he wishes it wasn’t.
She said he wouldn’t amount to much, and Owen remembers her shouting at him, throwing a plastic Tesco’s bag full of clothing down the street after him. He’s deliberately forgotten the words, but the tone of voice is still sharp and clear. Jabbing at the bruise, picking the scab off the graze. He’s got to stop, because he can already feel the way his breath is catching in his chest, corners of his mouth twitching. The breakdown he has never allowed himself to feel. It’s not worth it, it’s really not.
Before he really knows what he’s doing, Owen picks up his phone, thumbing the buttons, automatically dialling in a number he’s somehow contrived to remember. Halfway through, he hesitates.
He’ll either be proving her wrong, or merely proving her point. At this point in time, he’s honestly not sure which.
Drawing in a breath like a painful hiss of regret, Owen puts his phone down.
He still can’t.
Rhys looks a little anxious when Gwen walks in. He doesn’t get off the sofa, but reaches over and switches the television to standby. The sudden silence crackles awkwardly.
“What’s the matter?” Gwen asks, feeling a sort of tension in the room, but unable to work out where it’s coming from. “Did something happen?”
He smiles uncomfortably.
“No.” Rhys swallows. “Are you all right?”
Gwen grins, deciding that she’s being silly. She must be.
“‘Course I am, why wouldn’t I be?”
Rhys nods. “Good.” He doesn’t relax. “You’ve been acting a little… strangely, the last two days,” he offers. His voice is tight.
“…You remember?” Gwen asks, stunned. Rhys frowns, confusion apparent on his face, and Gwen decides that this is one of those incidences when it’s ok to share classified information. “We’ve all forgotten the last two days,” she explains. “There’s just… nothing.”
“Oh.” Rhys thinks about this for a moment. “It’s probably for the best.”
Gwen opens her mouth to demand answers, to find out what he knows, but Jack told them all not to pry too deeply into what happened, and she decides that maybe she shouldn’t know. For some reason, she’s been thinking about Rhys all day; how they met, how he makes her feel when he smiles.
“I do love you, you know,” she says.
Rhys looks at her like he almost lost her; she knows then that he’ll never tell her, and she’ll never ask him.
“I love you too,” he replies.
Ianto is dumping cold, used coffee grounds into the bin when it hits him. It’s like a sudden smell or a piece of music drifting straight past him (except that the only smell is that of espresso, and the only sound is the soft hum of the machine, and Jack whistling somewhere below).
It’s funny, the way that remembering Lisa doesn’t hurt. Instead, an almost involuntary smile spreads across Ianto’s face, as he remembers running into her in a corridor, apologising profusely, offering to make her a coffee to make up for practically mowing her down. Right from the word go, she could always make him laugh, and she was so beautiful that for months he was certain that she was only talking to him and spending time with him until she got a better offer. When he finally realised that it was him that she was interested in… Jesus, free-falling into love was incredible. Ianto feels something that’s nearly a laugh pressing at the inside of his mouth. Oh, wow, he was so damn lucky.
He hasn’t been able to remember the good parts, not since Lisa went down in blood on the concrete. Mostly, it’s been a haze of hate and guilt and hurt and resentment, and it feels so damn good to recall all the things that make up the beautiful whole that they used to have without feeling that edge of agony.
“You look happy,” Jack remarks, appearing soundlessly beside him.
Ianto nods, unable to articulate the strange swirl of emotions inside. Bliss and agony in equal measure, and it’s amazing.
“That’s good,” Jack says, and Ianto reflects that he’s been all sorts of things lately, but happy hasn’t really been one of them. There was a time when he thought that having Jack back would solve anything and everything; then he grew up a little. He fits the coffee machine back together, painfully aware of Jack watching him.
In a moment, Jack leans in to kiss him, like he always does; but a voice in the back of Ianto’s head, a voice that’s female and not at all Welsh, says not tonight.
“Uh… can you hold onto that feeling, Jack?” he asks. “And we’ll revisit it soon.”
Jack smiles back at him, in a way that shows he understands more than Ianto meant him to.
“Sure,” he replies, squeezing Ianto’s shoulder before he walks away.
Tosh isn’t answering her emails. There’s a load of them, all from people without security clearance, which means that she’s got to spend a while thinking up lies. It’s surprisingly hard, considering that her job largely entails making up plausible stories and then selling them to the general public. Lying to her family though, to ex-colleagues; that’s considerably more complicated. Though Tosh can’t quite shake the strange little voice in the back of her mind insisting that they won’t care what she says either way, whatever words she eventually sends.
She hasn’t felt like this in a long time, certainly not since Jack left, when they had to pull together as a team or actually perish. Jack’s excellent at the pep-talk thing, but on the other hand he skates smoothly over actual emotions like he’s forgotten that they all have them. He was sweet when he had to kill Mary; sweet, yet… utterly ineffectual. Wiping her tears and then leaving her be without stemming them at the source. But when he was gone they learned to stand united because he was a safety net, even if there were moth holes in it, and without that safety net they had to band together quick and hope no one fell.
Over the last few months, Tosh has realised that the others do appreciate her. Genuine appreciation, not just the ‘oh look, techie girl has figured out how to stop that alien doing that thing it shouldn’t be doing’ type. She’s realised that she really does deserve her place in Torchwood, the resources at her disposal, the discoveries rich under her hands. They see her for who she is, and they accept her.
But not tonight. Old insecurities, old exhaustion is resurfacing, almost unbidden. Like her mind is a box of old-fashioned file cards, and someone has picked it up and shaken it, sending the ugly parts she hoped she’d forgotten fluttering out. Pieces of misery and feeling like no one looked twice at her, no one understood the way she looked at the world.
Tonight, things are crumbling again.
Grey’s shout – the one he didn’t give – wakes Jack up from the sleep he was barely entertaining. A shout from his little brother, begging him for help. Boeshane’s sands slip beneath his shoes, and he opens his eyes.
The memory is flat and tasteless, and he curses John again for awakening things he didn’t want awakened. It’s taken long enough to dull the sharp edges of Grey’s loss, to pack it away somewhere because he can’t afford to have it there, the albatross around his neck. John prodded it back awake, the hand slipping from his. Now, after two days ripped out from under his feet – it could be worse of course, it could be another two years – Jack’s brain isn’t feeling like the safe prison he took so much time to make it. And Grey is running and screaming and yet the memory feels like something he watched at the movies, half-submerged.
He’s sure that it used to hurt more.
Getting up, because sleep is futile, Jack wanders into the quiet, empty Hub. Nothing out of place, nothing different. Two days, and who knows what happened. It probably doesn’t matter, and Jack won’t pry. He has enough confusing existing memories without playing around with any more.
He and Grey were running, right, running because… because they were being followed. Ok. That much, at least, makes sense. It’s plausible. They were alone, because… Jack frowns. No. That’s not… exactly clear. Jack is used to his past being fuzzy, right down to the name he had before he started stealing other people’s, but this is strange because he tried to hold onto this one. Packed it away neatly, for taking out and turning around.
They were alone. And he lost Grey, and his mother cried. She was crying even before he told her the news, and Jack pushes to try and remember why. Right. Well. There was blood… blood on his palms, blood that wasn’t Grey’s… and his mother wept and the sand was gritty on his teeth, wind blowing it against his face. He remembers his mother, himself, the space Grey left behind…
He must have had a father, Jack supposes, a man who was about, or who never was. But he can’t picture him, can’t conjure up any emotions regarding that man. Just something like static and then half that memory vanishes; just the guilt remains.
Oops. There goes another piece of his past.
Sometimes, Jack thinks that he’s better off that way.