Characters: Rhys, Gwen, Jack, Ianto, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Spoilers: Post CoE, with everyone still alive.
Summary: It’s over, the 456 are defeated, and the members of Team Torchwood are being honoured for saving earth’s children.
Word Count: 1179
Written For: Prompt 049 – Loyalty at fandomweekly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
It was surreal to be standing before the Queen in one of Buckingham Palace’s great halls. Come to that, everything about the past few days had been surreal; the children chanting, Roald Dahl Plas being turned into a gigantic crater, going on the run from a government black ops team out to kill Torchwood, rescuing Jack from a living death inside a solid block of concrete, escaping to London, stealing cash and equipment, and hiding out in an old warehouse Ianto had told him used to belong to Torchwood One…
Rhys still couldn’t quite get his head around recent events, and to cap it all, Gwen was expecting. He was going to be a dad! That was something he’d been beginning to think would never happen, what with Gwen’s job being so dangerous, especially after Toshiko and Owen’s deaths.
Glancing to his right where Gwen stood, looking proud but awkward, he smiled; his gorgeous wife, soon to be the mother of his child! How a regular working-class bloke like him had ever been lucky enough to win the love of a woman like her he’d never understand.
Beyond Gwen was Jack in that coat of his over what looked like a uniform of some kind, complete with cap, and beyond him, barely visible from where Rhys was standing, was Ianto, all immaculate three-piece suit and tie. Rhys looked down at the suit he was wearing. It didn’t fit anywhere near as well as Ianto’s did; unlike his countryman he’d never been one for getting all dressed up if he didn’t have to, but it was appropriately smart for the occasion.
He took a moment to appreciate that all four of them were still alive despite everything that had been thrown at them. The Prime Minister and certain other people in the government had tried to keep Torchwood from doing their job, protecting the earth from alien threats, and if they’d succeeded, ten percent of earth’s children would have been forfeit. It was unthinkable! He had a feeling most of the cabinet were going to find themselves serving time, along with a fair few military types.
Gwen’s elbow dug sharply into Rhys’s ribs, bringing him back to the here and now as the Queen rose to her feet and cameras flashed. Rhys pulled his shoulders back and stood up straighter, trying to suck his stomach in and hoping it wouldn’t make his trousers fall down. Maybe he should have fastened the belt a notch tighter.
“Breathe,” Gwen hissed at him.
Right, he was holding his breath; that was probably why he felt a bit light-headed. He breathed. Wouldn’t do to pass out at Her Majesty’s feet, it would probably be considered disrespectful, not to mention the press would most likely catch it on camera and run with it. He could just see the picture, splashed across the front page of every newspaper in Britain. Talk about embarrassing.
“Captain Jack Harkness, Mister Ianto Jones, Mrs Gwen Cooper-Williams, Mister Rhys Williams, you stand before us today to receive commendation for your actions during the recent crisis. Thanks to your courage, determination, resilience, and ingenuity, millions of earth’s children have been spared a dreadful fate. Many families the world over owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be adequately repaid. You risked your lives to battle the greatest threat our planet has ever known, a threat from a distant world, and you did so without hesitation.”
That wasn’t quite the way Rhys saw it; he’d gone along with the others because he couldn’t let Gwen leave without him, not when he knew there was a good chance he might never see her again. He’d vowed at their wedding ‘til death do us part and he was damned if he’d let his pregnant wife go into danger without him by her side. He was a loyal husband, and he’d been determined to stick to her like glue, no matter what. If they’d died at least they would have gone together.
“No medal existed for precisely these circumstances. However, as reigning monarch we are permitted a certain amount of discretion; therefore, we have taken the liberty of establishing a new medal. It is our great honour and privilege to award each of you the Elizabeth Cross for conspicuous valour in the presence of a dreadful enemy, for your loyalty to the Crown and to the British Isles in the most extreme of circumstances, for your heroism in the face of overwhelming odds, and for the great service you have performed on behalf of all mankind.”
As Her Majesty moved along their line, draping ribbons bearing their silver medals around each of their necks, Rhys swallowed hard past the lump in his throat, his eyes going misty. How could he, an ordinary haulage company manager, deserve this kind of honour? The other three had done all the hard work; he’d just been along for the ride. Then the Queen was before him, and she was so small. He stooped to receive his medal, accepted her handshake, her hand tiny, soft, and delicate in his big workworn mitt.
“Thank you, ma’am. Not sure I deserve it though.”
“You perhaps more than the others, Mister Williams. Protecting our planet is their job after all, but you put your life in danger as a civilian, stood beside your wife and her colleagues when you were not obligated to do so. That is a very rare kind of loyalty and we thank you for it.”
Rhys really did have to blink back tears then. He felt Gwen squeeze his hand and managed a wonky smile.
“I’d do it again if I had to, ma’am.”
“That is without doubt.” The queen stepped back, smiling from one to another of them. “We will personally see to it that funds are made available to rebuild your base, and to expand your team,” she said, addressing Jack. “It would appear that threats from beyond our solar system are on the increase, and we cannot always rely on the Doctor to be here to defend us, therefore we must look to our own defence. Torchwood is key to that, Captain.”
Jack saluted smartly, then winked. “We won’t let you down.”
“Of that we can be sure.”
As the four left the palace, stepping out into the warmth of an early autumn afternoon, Rhys fiddled with his medal, tilting it this way and that so the sunlight reflected off the silver cross.
“Never thought I’d get to see one of these up close. Is it silver? Looks like it.”
“Doubtful,” Ianto said. “A true silver medal would tarnish too easily; you’d be forever polishing it and the detail would wear away. Perhaps some kind of titanium alloy…”
“You know what? It doesn’t matter. I’ve got a silver medal.” Rhys beamed at the other three.
Jack slapped him on the back. “Don’t sound so surprised! Lizzie’s right: you earned it. We couldn’t have saved the world without you. There’s a place for you in Torchwood whenever you want it.”
Rhys grinned. “I’ll let you know.”