Characters: Ianto, Jack, Gwen, Others.
Summary: Jack wants to shield Gwen from the truth behind the random disappearances, but she refuses to stop her investigation.
Word Count: 1106
Written For: Prompt # 066 – Gathering Clouds at fandomweekly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Trouble was brewing; Ianto could sense the storm clouds building on the horizon, and the problem he was faced with was what he should do about them. Was this really any of his business? Jack was the boss, so setting Torchwood policy was up to him; if he chose to keep certain things secret from the rest of the team that was his prerogative. He was the one who made the rules and gave the orders; Ianto was just the General Support Officer.
Okay, yes, he was also the one who took care of the day-to-day running of the Hub, and he was Jack’s lover, which meant it was his duty to ease Jack’s burdens as much as possible, but… The problem this time involved Gwen, and where she was concerned Jack could be somewhat blinkered, to put it mildly.
One of these days Gwen’s obstinacy was going to blow up in everyone’s face, and this could be that time. She’d got the bit between her teeth, and no matter what Jack told her, no matter how many times he ordered her to drop her investigation and get on with her assigned work, there was no way she was going to quit. She’d just keep arguing with him, yelling at him, trying to get her own way, until he gave in out of sheer exhaustion, and once that happened, she’d think she could get away with anything.
Jack had already let her get away with far too much, giving in to Gwen’s refusal to Retcon her boyfriend, and Ianto sort of got why he’d done that because Jack was trying to avoid conflict these days. He’d been so worn down, weary and vulnerable since his return, and although Ianto knew the reasons for that, nobody else did. He put up a good front most of the time, concealed the trauma he’d endured behind the persona of the devil-may-care Captain, the larger-than-life hero, but Ianto could tell it was an act. Jack was just hoping if he pretended for long enough the pretence might once again become the reality, but so far it didn’t seem to be working.
Now here Gwen was, demanding Jack allow her to continue her investigation into the Jonah Bevan case, and Ianto understood only too well why Jack wanted her to drop it, but he also knew she wouldn’t. She wanted to make it her personal project, and Ianto wanted to shake her, tell her to back off, to stop hurting Jack like this, but he knew he couldn’t because that would give her something else to ask questions about, another thing that Jack didn’t want the others to know. So he talked to Jack himself, tried to reason with him, because regardless of Jack’s orders to shut the investigation down, Gwen was just going to carry on, behind his back, as always convinced she was right and everyone else was wrong.
“You have to tell her the truth, Jack.”
“No!” Jaw set, Jack glared back at him, but Ianto wasn’t intimidated.
“You’re as stubborn as she is. She won’t let this go and you know it. Her obsession’s interfering with her other work; if she’s distracted, not paying attention, she’ll be constantly putting herself and others in danger.”
“I know that!”
“So tell her what she wants to know, tell her everything, then maybe she’ll understand you’re already doing all you can for Jonah and the others like him.”
“If you really believe that then you don’t know her at all. She’s always trying to fix things that can’t be fixed, and that’s noble in a way, I admire her for it, but…”
“She doesn’t know when to give up.”
“No, she doesn’t. I can’t tell her, Ianto. If I do that now, after I’ve already told her ‘No’ in every way I can think of, she’ll take it as carte blanche to ignore my orders in the future whenever it suits her, and what good would that do any of us?”
Ianto sighed, knowing Jack was right. “So what’re you going to do about her? We can’t just ignore the problem and hope it goes away.”
Jack glared stonily at his lover. “I’m not going to anything; my hands are tied.” He pointed a finger at Ianto, practically poking him in the chest. “But yours aren’t.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You give her what she wants, just don’t make it too easy for her; make her work for it.”
“And what about you?”
Shoulders sagging, Jack sighed. “I’ll be there to pick up the pieces afterwards.”
Ianto nodded, accepting the burden so Jack wouldn’t have to see himself as the villain of the piece, destroying Gwen’s optimism, possibly forever. Putting broken people back together was something Jack was good at; he’d fixed Ianto, hadn’t he? He just couldn’t fix himself.
So Ianto arranged for Gwen to receive a GPS with the coordinates of Flat Holm Island already programmed into it, watched her follow the lead to the secret installation where people who’d been taken by the Rift and then returned, were cared for. They could never rejoin their families; they were too damaged, shattered both mentally and physically. They’d never heal, never be whole again.
Ianto was waiting on the dock when Jack and Gwen stepped off the boat, Gwen looking angry, defiant, self-righteous, and Jack looking tired, resigned, defeated. On the horizon, out across the bay dark clouds were gathering; lightning flashed, thunder boomed, and Ianto knew right then the plan had backfired.
“Gwen wants to take Nikki Bevan to visit her son,” Jack murmured as Gwen stalked past towards the SUV.
“That would be a really bad idea. Are you going to let her?”
“You really think I can stop her? She says Nikki deserves to know the truth.”
“It’ll destroy her, Jack! She won’t even recognise him, and who knows how much harm it’ll do to Jonah if she rejects him!”
“Try telling Gwen that. Her mind’s set, and no one’s going to talk her out of it.”
“It’s not your fault, Ianto. This is why I didn’t want Gwen to know, I knew what it would do to her, being confronted by something nobody can fix.”
“You can’t shelter her forever, Jack, you’re not helping her by doing that. She needs to understand we can’t save everyone, no matter how much we want to.”
“I know, I just don’t want her to stop trying.”
“Even when you know it’ll end in disaster? Nikki will have to be retconned after this.”
“You’ll take care of that, won’t you?”
Ianto smiled sadly. “Don’t I always?”