Timeline/Spoilers: S2, after 2.4 'Meat'
Notes/Warnings: Unbeta'd. All comments, nitpicks & crit weclome
Disclaimer: Not mine. No profit, no foul.
Summary: They say travel broadens the mind. So does Torchwood.
An engaged couple, home from work early on a Friday night, cooking spaghetti bolognese and looking forward to a night in front of the telly. It might not be every girl's dream, granted, but it works for Gwen Cooper. It works just fine.
What she loves, what she really loves, is how ordinary it is. How average, plain, down to Earth. She loves the cheap bottle of supermarket wine Rhys has brought home with him, she loves the silly story he's telling her about an argument (won, of course) with his nemesis, the Cardiff Council Traffic Management department, she loves the simple fact that he's there, in the kitchen with her, safe and sound, in one piece. She loves all of it. She loves him.
'So,' he says, tipping a sheaf of pasta into the pan of boiling water. 'Jack Harkness, then. Captain Jack. He's a bit, isn't he, you know?'
Gwen stirs the sauce, smiling. They've had more than a few conversations lately that have started, 'So, aliens, then,' but this is a variation. She reaches past him to the spice rack and takes down a jar of oregano. 'A bit what?'
'What's the word for it these days? Hot, is it? That's what Ruth at work says about that one, what's his name, Robert something, from that Twilight film. He's hot, she says.' He stops, and looks at her around the swirl of steam puffing up from the saucepan. 'Gwen? Are there vampires, too?'
'Vampires? You mean proper, Buffy-type vampires? No. Not that I know of, anyway.' She sprinkles a pinch of the herb into the sauce, then narrows her eyes at him. 'Hang on a minute. Did you just call Jack hot?'
He pushes a few resistant strands of spaghetti under the surface of the water. 'Well, he is, isn't he?'
She frowns at him for a little longer, then shrugs and turns back to the simmering bolognese. 'I haven't really thought about it. Can you start grating some parmesan?'
He doesn't move. After a few seconds she looks over. 'What? He's my boss, Rhys. You don't think about your boss like that, do you?'
She puts the lid back on the herb jar and returns it to the rack. 'No, you don't. Well, I don't, anyway. Obviously, I can't comment on whether you've spent any quality time calculating the hotness factor of old Dougie Harwood.'
'Be fair, Gwen. Dougie Harwood is ninety-six and looks like a menopausal turtle. Jack Harkness looks like a Hollywood film star.'
'I think he was, at one point. Silent movies.' She dips the spoon in the sauce and holds it out to him. 'Taste.'
He licks it. 'Pretty good. Needs a bit more black pepper.'
She takes the grinder out of the cupboard. 'So, then, you're saying that if you worked for Jack, you'd be rushing home at night to tell me all about your sexy new boss, are you?'
He abandons the boiling pasta and snuggles up behind her. His hands move over her waist as he drops a light kiss on her earlobe. 'I would, yeah.'
She shakes her head, laughing. 'Parmesan, Rhys. This is going to be done in a minute.'
'I'd tell you all about his bedroom eyes,' he continues, pulling her hard against him. She can feel the heat of his breath on the nape of her neck. 'And the way they look at you, like he's imagining all the filthy things he's going to do to you. I'd tell you all about how tall he is, how strong, about how he always wears this great big coat that makes you wonder exactly what's underneath it.'
She drops the wooden spoon into the pan and turns around to face him. 'What on Earth are you going on about, you crazy man, you?'
'Come on,' he says, pulling her close again, 'you can tell me. Tell me all about Jack Harkness.'
She laughs again, struggling out of his grip to turn the heat down under her sauce, which is threatening to boil. 'Honestly, Rhys. What's got into you tonight?'
As she stirs, getting the bolgnese back under control, a familiar buzzing sound comes from the kitchen table as her mobile skitters across the wood. 'Damn,' she says. 'Here, keep stirring this while I get that.'
But she's holding out the spoon to empty air; Rhys is already at the table, picking up the phone. 'Jack,' he says, sounding like he's trying to purr, 'we were just talking about you.'
Gwen snatches the phone out of his hand and gives him a good glaring at while she blows on a spoonful of sauce and half-listens to Jack talk about Weevils in the sewers.
'Can't you -- well, where's Ianto, isn't it his turn to -- no, no, all right, I understand.' She drops the spoon back into the pan and sighs. 'Yes, yes, okay, Jack. I'll see to it as soon as I can.'
She slides the phone into the pocket of her jeans and turns towards Rhys. 'I'm sorry, love, but there's this thing, with -- well, with some aliens, and I--'
'And you've got to go. You've got to go, because he wants you. Captain Jack. He wants you.'
She rolls her eyes. 'Yes, yes, very funny. He wants me to let my dinner get cold while I play Weevil-nanny. It's not exactly favouritism, Rhys. I'm not getting any special treatment, believe me.'
'Bet he'd like to give you some special treatment, though, if he had the chance.'
She takes a step forward and slaps him lightly on the chest. 'All right, Rhys, that's enough, now. I won't be long, so tip this in that big casserole dish and stick it in the oven, it'll keep till I get back. Now, come on, I've got to go.'
Instead of moving, he grabs her hand and holds it in place. 'Got to go to Jack, right. Jack's the boss, you have to do what he says. If he said, come here, Gwen, you'd do it.' He pulls her closer. 'Like this. And if he said...' he trails off, sliding her hand from his chest down the length of his body. 'If he said, touch me, Gwen...'
'What?' she says, trying to pull back. 'Rhys, seriously, what is this?'
He doesn't answer, just kisses his way along the line of her jaw to her mouth as he pushes her hand against his body so that she can feel his hardness against her palm. He presses down on her bottom lip with his teeth, ever so slightly, and she gasps.
She's not entirely sure what's going on, but when he slides a hand up inside her shirt and his thumb finds her nipple through the thin lace of her bra, she decides that figuring it out it will keep until later just as well as the sauce.
Rhys lounges in bed for a while after Gwen's finally rushed out the door. He flicks idly through the channels, snacking on the remains of the curry he'd microwaved after discovering that the spaghetti was way beyond resurrection. He scratches his thigh absent-mindedly, then lets his hand linger. It surprises him to find his cock still half-hard, despite the workout they've just given it.
He flashes on an image of Gwen riding him, then smiles as his cock immediately jumps fully to attention. She's something special, his Gwen, no doubt about that.
The smile fades a little as he remembers her bewilderment earlier, the half-joking slap. Rhys, seriously, what is this?
Well now, Rhys Williams, that's a good question, isn't it?
Trouble is, he doesn't really have a good answer. He'd had a vague, half-formed idea (and when would he ever learn that those always get him into trouble?) of... well, not testing her exactly, but... just checking out what her reaction would be. Because he has wondered, sometimes, what goes through her mind on the subject of Jack Harkness.
It's not that he doesn't trust her or anything daft like that, but... well, he's just a little curious. Because there is something about Jack Harkness, isn't there? Something about him that draws the eye and the attention, something that goes beyond the flashy clothes and the grin and the 'I'm in charge' attitude. Something that's a little like getting too close to a live electrical circuit.
And you do have to admit, in all seriousness, that he's a good looking man. Gwen's a normal, red-blooded woman (boy, is she ever) and it'd only be natural for her to notice that. She'd have to be blind not to. She works with the man, has to spend long hours with him in dangerous situations. Rhys's own Torchwood experience, limited though it might be, was... strangely exhilarating. The fear, the excitement, the adrenaline -- that kind of charged atmosphere can do things to you. Can make you think about people in ways you would never do otherwise.
Can make you think about Jack Harkness, and the energy that seems to simmer just under the surface of his skin. About the way he seems to generate heat, a heat that raises the hairs on the back of your neck and leaves you feeling slightly dizzy and short of breath. About the way he looks at you as if he can't decide whether he's going to try and kill you or fuck you, about how he can make you shake with anger and then give you a kind of mental whiplash by coming out with something like this is quite homoerotic -- something totally unexpected and completely inappropriate, but that still sends strange sparks to your groin -- and do it while giving your fiancee this really significant look, which makes you start thinking about her thinking about the two of you, and --
Rhys swallows painfully, suddenly aware that his breath is whistling in his throat and his hand is working his cock with frantic energy. 'Oh,' he says quietly. 'Fuck.'
The silence in the empty flat rings in his ears. Against his will -- practically -- his hand keeps moving. 'Fucking Jack Harkness,' he says, and then there's nothing but the sound of his breathing, because his brain simply gives up on the idea of processing words for a while.
An engaged couple, popping down to the local for a couple of drinks on a Saturday night. It might not seem that exciting to some, but this is the first night off Gwen's had in a long, long time and the Crown & Anchor's house wine tastes like nectar of the gods. It tastes like freedom.
The pub's old, and makes a feature of it -- all uneven plaster, low ceilings and dark, scruffy wood. It's usually popular, and tonight's no exception. Rhys shuffles his stool closer to Gwen, making room for a couple of young girls in breathtakingly tight jeans to get to the bar and order their vodka and red bulls.
Couples and groups fill the bar area, laughing and drinking. None of them look like they have a care in the world. She smiles, feeling like it is, at least in some small part, something she contributes to. She helps keep them safe. Sometimes, it's not that bad a job, this crazy thing that she does.
Rhys leans in towards her and clinks his pint against her wine. 'So,' he says. 'Aliens, then.'
She laughs. 'Are you ever going to get over this?'
'Are you kidding? Aliens? Actual, honest to goodness, aliens? In Cardiff? I'm not thinking that's something you really get over. Although...' he pauses. 'I suppose it's just business as usual for you, isn't it? You must think it's all a bit boring now, then, eh?'
He sweeps his hand around, indicating the pub. 'All this ordinary stuff. Ordinary places. Ordinary blokes. Same old, same old. You must be bored senseless with it.'
'What? Rhys, no, don't be so daft. There's nothing boring about you. Never was, never will be.' She grins and raises her glass. 'And if last night was ordinary, then all I can say is that I'll drink to that.'
A flicker of something she can't read passes across his face, then he gives her a slow smile. 'I suppose it was a bit of all right, wasn't it?'
'A bit? It was more than a bit. It was downright bloody spectacular, Rhys Williams, and you know it. Now, stop fishing for compliments. I think I've stroked your ego enough for one night.'
'I suppose you have.' He lowers his voice, leans closer. 'If you want a bit of variation, I've got something else you can stroke, if you like.'
She looks at him, sees her own thoughts -- her own need -- reflected in his eyes. She hadn't been joking about the spectacular part -- whatever occasional problems they might have, sex has never been one of them.
Rhys likes to talk, and she likes to listen; loves it when he tells her how beautiful she is, how much he wants her and exactly what he's going to do about it. When he'd started talking about Jack, it had freaked her out a little... but not in a bad way, exactly.
If he said, come here, Gwen, you'd do it. If he said, touch me, Gwen...
That thought, once planted, had laid down roots. It wasn't so much the idea of touching Jack that had spun her -- although she can't deny that does have some attractions, yes, she's only human -- as the idea of taking his orders. About Jack there, in the room, watching. About imagining Jack beside them, nodding. Approving. That's right, Gwen. On your knees. Look at Rhys, tell him how much you like to suck that gorgeous cock of his. There's a good girl. Now do it. Take it all in, now.
And she'd do exactly what she was told, oh yes. She'd watch Rhys with pleasure, watch the way his throat worked and his eyelids fluttered, watch as his shoulders tightened and his head threw back as his hands worked themselves through her hair. And Jack would be watching too, telling her what a good job she was doing, how good she was at this, how much he enjoyed seeing her do this, bringing Rhys to the brink and easing back, seeing Rhys's cock sliding in and out of her mouth.
'Gwen? You still with me, love? Do you want another --'
She tries to speak, finds her mouth too dry. She downs what's left of her wine, then reaches across and grabs Rhys's hand, pulling it away from his pint. 'Let's go,' she says, her voice hoarse. 'Right now.'
She jumps up from her stool, almost colliding with a figure behind her. 'Sorry, sorry,' she says hastily, then stops. 'Jack?'
Jack gives her and Rhys a huge grin. 'Hey there. Don't tell me you're rushing off already? Only I thought it would be a good idea for us to get together. All three of us.' He steps closer, leaning towards Rhys. 'Since I tried keeping you out of it and that didn't work, I thought it was about time we got to know each other a bit better.'
Rhys blinks at him. 'Uh,' he says.
Jack beams as if this is the most welcoming thing he's ever heard. 'Splendid. What are you having? On me.'
'Well,' Gwen says. 'Actually, Jack, we were just...' she trails off, her eyes fixed on Rhys, who is somehow managing to stiffen and squirm in his seat at the same time. It's hot in the pub, no question, but... is he blushing?
She watches him, intrigued. Neither he nor Jack seem to have noticed that she hasn't finished her sentence. She's not entirely sure they've noticed she's even still in the pub.
'Uh, Rhys says again, his own gaze locked on Jack.
Gwen looks from Rhys to Jack and back again. She has a triple whammy at work for her here - woman's, copper's and girlfriend's intuition -- and all three are telling her the exact same thing right now.
She nods slowly to herself. Suddenly, a lot of things make a lot more sense.
'Tell you what, Jack,' she says, patting his arm and making him jump a little. 'It's a bit packed in here tonight, so we were just about to leave and go back to the flat. What do you say, you want to come with us? Make a night of it, back at ours?'
Jack inclines his head. She suspects his intuition is pretty sound, too. 'Sounds perfect,' he says.
Gwen keeps one hand on Jack's arm, and slips the other through Rhys's. 'What do you say, love?'
Rhys doesn't immediately reply and Gwen hesitates for a second, because yes, they've always been adventurous and no, neither has so far come up with a suggestion that the other hasn't thoroughly enjoyed, and yes, they've joked around the subject of threesomes for a while, but. But still. There's fantasy, and there's reality. And then there's Jack Harkness.
But then she registers Rhys's expression as he looks at her hand resting on Jack's arm, and her doubts fade.
'Could do,' he says. His tone is light, nonchalant -- on the surface, at least -- and one she's heard before. Could give it a go, he'd said, the day she brought home the strap-on. Thought we could try it, he'd said with a casual shrug, handing her a bag with wrist restraints and a flogger inside.
'That's settled then,' Jack says. 'Let's go.'
Gwen smiles. 'Yes, sir,' she says, relishing the little shiver that runs down her spine.
It's been Rhys's experience that, in life, you frequently ran up against things that were Not A Good Idea. Answering the question 'Does it make me look fat?' truthfully, agreeing to that ninth pint, letting Banana organise a stag weekend -- the examples were many and varied.
Somewhere in a man's brain is an early warning system, a kind of hardwired spider-sense that always goes off, without fail, on the approach to an NAGI situation. He might not listen to that warning, granted, but he always knows it's there.
As Rhys walks up to his front door with Gwen on one side and Jack Harkness on the other, his spidey-sense is going off like crazy.
Not A Good Idea! it yells down every nerve ending. This is the man -- man, can I remind you -- that you've been having uncontrollable sexual fantasies about. And now you're going to invite him over? Really? You're going to sit there drinking beer and making small talk while your subconscious treats you to vivid full-colour re-runs of him fucking your wife? Of Gwen riding him while you kneel astride his face so that he can suck you off? Once and for all, this is seriously Not A Good Idea!
He agrees, completely. Well, his brain does. His cock, however, seems to have other ideas.
Rhys clenches his fist, nails digging into his palm, and mentally recites Wales's World Cup scores in reverse chronological order until his traitorous flesh submits to his control again.
Once inside, Jack strips off his coat -- apparently it isn't surgically attached to him after all -- while Gwen disappears into the kitchen to fetch them all a beer. Jack sits -- no, sprawls would be a better word -- on the sofa, long legs kicked out in front of him like he's never felt more at home. He looks up at Rhys with a smile and pats the seat next to him.
Rhys pretends not to notice and stays leaning against the wall. Making the place look untidy, his mother would say. And ignoring a guest while doing it -- she'd have something to say about that, too.
Rhys shakes his head slightly, hoping to dislodge that thought. He's been having a hard enough time coping with images of Jack Harkness in his head. The idea of adding his mother to the mental landscape is just too much to bear.
He shifts his weight from foot to foot, glancing towards the doorway. What the hell is Gwen doing, brewing the bloody beer?
When he sneaks a look back, Jack is sitting with his head on one side, letting a blatantly appraising gaze roam over Rhys from head to toe -- and giving every impression of being pleased with what he sees.
Rhys swallows nervously as his mouth dries, his skin prickles and his cock starts twitching again. Goddamn thing has developed a life of its own, and seems to be devoting that life to tormenting him. He's trying hard not to fidget, but he just has to move a little to release some of the sudden chafing pressure -- fucking denim has no give in it at all -- and Jack's stare homes in on his crotch like a heat-seeking missile. One eyebrow goes up.
Rhys would have thought, from the amount of blood he can feel heating his face and neck, that there'd be nothing left for lower regions. But apparently, he'd be wrong.
He wonders briefly, hysterically, if his cock has been possessed -- taken over by some kind of alien sex-virus. It wouldn't surprise him, the things he's heard about -- the things he's seen with his own eyes -- lately.
He watches as Jack leans back, stretching. The black t-shirt he's wearing rides up a little, showing a slice of tanned skin with muscle moving smoothly under it.
The siren in Rhys's brain goes into overdrive. Not A Good Idea! it shrieks. Seriously! Not A Good Idea!
By the time he can hear himself think again, he realises Jack is looking at him expectantly. 'Sorry,' he says, 'did you say something?'
Jack grins. 'I said, did you have any questions you wanted to ask me? We are supposed to be getting to know each other, after all.'
Rhys stares at him. Questions? Of course he has questions. He has a million incisive, intelligent questions about aliens, the nature of the universe, the space-time continuum and Torchwood's role in all of it. It's just that with this goddamn alarm clamouring in his head, he can't quite bring any of them to mind right now.
He's saved by Gwen appearing -- finally -- with three botles of Grolsch in her hands. He grabs one gratefully and takes a long swallow.
'So,' Gwen says, looking around at them. 'What are we talking about?'
'Sex,' Jack answers cheerfully.
Rhys chokes on his beer. 'What? Wait, no -- I didn't -- we never--'
'Right,' Gwen says. 'So would that have been the story about the double-jointed acrobat triplets, the girl with the blue fur or the guy with the four sets of genitals?'
Jack offers Rhys, still spluttering, a disarming smile. 'What can I say? I like sex. I don't think that makes me a bad person.'
Gwen laughs and perches on the arm of the sofa next to Jack. 'Well, I hope not, because otherwise it means Rhys and me are really evil. Spectacularly evil, in many different ways.'
Which is Rhys's cue to yell, 'Gwen,' in a protesting tone.
'What?' she says, still looking at Jack. 'We live together, Rhys. I think Jack's worked out that we have sex.'
Jack gazes back at her intently. 'The thought had occurred to me, yes. A few dozen times or so.'
Rhys looks at his beer and then opens up the cupboard where they keep the Jack Daniel's instead. He holds up the bottle to Gwen and Jack, but neither of them are looking at him.
You can stop this, he thinks. Just tell her you're tired, you've had enough, it's time for Jack to go home.
That's all he has to do, to pull this... this game of chicken or whatever it was they were doing, back from the edge. He's had some fun with the idea, he has to admit that, and he had been the one to start it, but maybe it's time to let Gwen know that she's made her point. He might not be entirely sure exactly what that point is, but he's more than willing to concede that she's made it. So, yeah. It's time to start being sensible, to step back into reality. He knows Gwen would never let it get too far out of hand -- she's just making that point, whatever it was again, after all. But still. Best to just ease off, now.
Gwen slides off the arm of the sofa and onto the seat beside Jack. There isn't much room, and it's a tight squeeze.
Right, yes. Definitely the right time to call a halt to the whole thing. Rhys pours himself a generous shot of the bourbon. Right now. Before anything else can happen. For example, anything like Gwen leaning her head against Jack's chest. Like Jack's hand coming up around her.
'Are you that good, Jack?' she murmurs. 'Are you really that good?'
Jack looks down at her and then over her shoulder at Rhys. 'Yes. I really am.' He gives each of them a slow, lazy smile. The entire bottom half of Rhys's body tightens, and his chest isn't far behind. He draws a breath that's at least sixty percent bourbon fumes and his head spins.
Jack 's right hand slides around Gwen's waist and he pulls her closer. His left hand extends towards Rhys. 'Come here,' he says.
Rhys looks at him, then at Gwen. She nods, a tiny but perceptible movement.
There was a weekend once, an ill-advised trip to Blackpool with Banana and a couple of others that had resulted in them fleeing at three o'clock in the morning in a clapped-out Ford Escort they'd bought for thirty quid off a bloke in a pub -- a car that Banana had got up to ninety on the M6 before realising that the brakes were shot. There had been a long stretch of time when they'd been freewheeling down that motorway with no way of stopping, completely out of control. It had been incredibly dangerous and monumentally stupid, and when he tells that story now it's as a cautionary tale, but in his heart Rhys still cherishes it as one of the most exhilarating experiences of his life.
Jack says his name again, the tone commanding.
Rhys downs what's left of his bourbon. Brakes could be overrated, sometimes.
'Come here, Rhys,' Jack says. 'Now.'
Rhys puts his glass down and does as he's told.
Gwen awakes to the muted sound of the radio and the aroma of freshly brewing coffee. She stretches, feeling the deep, satisfied ache in her body: muscles used, and used well.
She leans back against Rhys. 'Morning,' she says through her yawn. 'Something smells good.'
'Breakfast,' Rhys says. 'Jack's making it. Does he actually sleep, Gwen? Or just, like, plug himself in somewhere to recharge?
Gwen smiles and rolls over so that she can lean her head on Rhys's chest. His skin is warm, his heartbeart loud in her ear. Steady. Strong. 'I suppose we should get up and help out.'
'Nope. I tried that, he turfed me out. Said he'll bring it to us in bed.'
Gwen runs her tongue along his chest, flicking it lightly over his nipple. 'That does sound like something to look forward to.'
Rhys shivers. His hand begins to trace light, spiralling circles over her stomach. 'It does. And then breakfast, too. We're being spoiled, all right.'
Gwen laughs and shifts her position to give Rhys's exploring hand greater access. 'You know, I don't think he'd mind if we got started early.'
Rhys rolls on top of her, his mouth closing on hers. 'You're sure?' he says after a while. 'It wouldn't be rude?'
'I think he'll forgive us our old-fashioned manners. The 51st century is a very tolerant age.'
'I like the 51st century,' Rhys says, and then there are no more words, not for a while.
Gwen arches her hips in time with Rhys's thrusts, listening to the sizzle of frying bacon and Jack singing in the kitchen. It might not be what most engaged couples usually do on an ordinary Sunday morning, but it works for Gwen Cooper. It works just fine.