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This Crying Earth - 7/17

Series: Mosaic
Word Count: 40.092
Summary: Coedwig Street has been a peaceful neighbourhood for a long time but now, a mysterious being is roaming the street and gardens, scaring the families living there and getting Torchwood's attention. The team doesn't know that it's messing with a force older than Earth … and its dangerous allies. And while Gwen is having problems with Rhys and Ianto is struggling with his attraction to Jack, the Fairies don't seem to be finished with the captain, yet.
Characters: Jack Harkness, Ianto Jones, Gwen Cooper, Toshiko Sato, Owen Harper, Rhys Williams, the Fairies, Andy Davidson, Myfanwy, OCs
Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys
Rating: PG-13
Spoiler: Everything Changes, Ghost Machine, Small Worlds, Fragments, Characters from Children of Earth (Ianto's family) / Novels: Slow Decay / Doctor Who: Mentions of The End of the World and hints at The Sound of Drums plus The Last of the Time Lords
Setting: after Small Worlds
Warnings: OC M-Preg in the past. Language.
Feedback: Can’t breathe without it.
Beta: alt_universe_me , danian  and Vistin. Thank you.
Disclaimer: I’m not making money with this fanfic. The tv-show Torchwood and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.

Chapter Six
Masterlist

Remember to drop a comment at rex's LJ for the awesome art made for this story.

***
***


7.


Rhys was usually a very calm person. He was proud of his ability to always keep focussed and not lose it, but this situation with Gwen was getting on his nerves, making him twitchy. He blamed Torchwood and that bloke who was always calling Gwen – even in the middle of the night – and whose orders she followed without asking why. He was her boss, Rhys knew that, but there were limits, even with secret organisations. He was sure of that.

Now she was sleeping next to him in their bed, peaceful and innocent, as if she hadn't tried to avoid the flat issue and the future topic the whole evening. Not only that, Gwen was avoiding their whole relationship, and Rhys was getting the feeling that Jack was to blame. Gwen always smiled when she took his calls.

Rhys knew that he wasn't an exciting kind of guy. He was normal bloke from Wales. He loved rugby, beer and Wife Swap. He wasn't athletic. Maybe he should think about a diet. Even though … the last one had been quite the disaster. And Gwen had never complained about the few pounds he had too much. Yet. Of course, that Jack had to be a supermodel. Tall, slim, wearing tight jeans and a leather jacket. Maybe he even had a motorbike and soulful blue eyes.

Rhys grimaced. This couldn't go on. He was only hurting himself with thoughts like that. It was time for him to step forward and act. He wouldn't just take Gwen's behaviour any more. He had to do something.

Carefully, he slid out of bed and crept around to Gwen's bedside table. There it was – her mobile. Always within reach.

Rhys grabbed it and left the bedroom. He closed the door, switched on the light on the hallway and headed for the living room. The empty space the couch had left strengthened his determination and he looked through Gwen's contacts. Time to make his presence known. If Gwen wasn't going to listen, then Rhys would have to talk to the origin of their problems.

***

Coedwig Street was the kind of neighbourhood that Jack could imagine would be his home if he'd ever had a normal job and a normal life. Neat gardens, nice houses … he could be domestic, even if the bigger part of his team seemed to think that he laid everyone looking at him too long. It was a reputation he was loathe to lose. As a Time Agent, he'd had the respect of the others because he'd been popular, and in the Time Agency, becoming popular meant telling dirty stories, and for a while – when he'd been young – he'd loved that way of life, but everyone grew up some day. Jack had been married, he'd had more than one serious relationship. He wasn't incapable of loving or being monogamous. The opposite was the case. But with his current situation, a relationship was out of reach. The Doctor's arrival would happen this century, the girl had said. Jack wouldn't start a relationship when he couldn't be sure that he would be still here in a few months. He couldn't be more to Ianto than an interlude. He wondered if Ianto held back because he wanted more. Jack doubted that he was ready for that – Lisa had just recently died. But he found it difficult to read Ianto's signs, so he didn't assume that this wasn't the case. Maybe he should talk to him again, tell him how it was, but he wasn't sure if Ianto would understand.

He got out of the SUV and walked down the street. Everything was quiet, no trace of a mysterious woman in a dress. He'd decided to come here spontaneously, after he'd dropped Ianto off at home. It hadn't been necessary to give him a lift, Jack knew that. It wasn't that late and Ianto was able to defend himself, but Jack had wanted to make sure that Ianto went home, and didn't spend the night in the Hub working.

Jack's mobile rang, and he fished it out of his coat pocket, glancing at the caller ID. “Gwen Cooper! Up for an adventure? I could provide,“ he grinned.

It was silent for a moment. Then a man cleared his throat.

Jack froze. “Who's that?“ he asked tensely, prepared for the worst.

“Rhys Williams.“ His voice sounded as if he was trying to remain calm.

Jack smiled in relief and relaxed a bit. “The boyfriend, right? I'm Captain Jack Harkness, what can I do to please you?“

“Keep your hands off my girlfriend.“ He sounded angry and was talking slowly, as if he was forcing himself to be quiet.

Jack frowned, but decided to react with humor. He didn't want to leave a bad impression on Gwen's boyfriend.

“That's … a cliché.“

“Listen, you bloody hero, all I want is for you to keep away from her, okay?“

Now, Jack was getting angry, too. “I am. Believe me, I accept the boundaries of a relationship.“

“Yeah, sure you do,“ Rhys muttered.

Jack thinned his lips. The words stung more than he wanted to admit. He was doing nothing but keeping his distance from Gwen. She was a beautiful woman, he wouldn't deny that, and there was … something between them. A spark, maybe, or simple attraction, but he knew that she was in a relationship, and he wanted her to stay that way. Gwen needed a slice of a normal life. Rhys was the one who could give that to her.

He cleared his throat and answered calmly, “I'm working, Mr. Williams. If you're done ...“

“No, I'm not done. I want you to stop calling her to work all the time. I know that you're a special unit, but I can't accept you spending more time with her than me.“

Before Jack could answer, he heard Gwen's voice, “Is that my mobile?“

Rhys seemed to place one hand over the receiver, because Jack didn't hear the short conversation of the couple, but then there was Gwen's voice again, clear and close, “Jack, I'm so sorry.“

He put his free hand on his hip. “Normally, I'd love to chat with my colleagues' soulmates, but I'm a bit busy at the moment,“ he said, irritated.

“Where are you? Do you need me?“

“No, thanks, Gwen. If I need help, I'll call Tosh or Owen. See to it that your private life doesn't interfere with your job.“ He rang off with that and put the mobile back into his pocket. When he raised his head again, she was standing there. She was wearing a white dress. Her head was ducked and the filthy hair shielded her face from his view like a curtain. Her large hands were hanging at her sides.

Jack made a startled step backwards, but he caught himself and put a hand on his Webley. “Hello, lady,“ he said. She slowly raised her head to look at him from her dark eyes lying deep in the eye sockets. Tears were running over her wrinkled skin. She wasn't a beauty by human standards, but she wasn't human either. She whimpered a few words, and Jack shrugged. “I can't understand you.“ He tilted his head. “Look at you. Where could you come from?“ He determined that she looked a bit like a Kioas. He hadn't spoken their language in a long time and asked hesitantly, “Hol jeyer fiad?“

She sobbed.

“Aw, my Kioas can't be that bad, lady.“ He decided on charming, and smiled brightly. “You don't understand a word I'm saying, right?“ He stepped closer slowly. “Why are you crying?“

She said something.

Jack pulled his mobile out of his pocket. “Let's test a theory.“ He activated the record function. “Say something.“

She stared at him.

“Don't be shy now.“ He startled when she screamed and vanished.

***

“I can't believe you,“ Gwen said, holding up the mobile as if it was the most important proof in a murder case. “He's my boss.“

Rhys put his hands on his hips. “He calls you. All the time. Day and night, whenever we should be spending time together. It always ends with Jack trying to break us up.“

Gwen shook her head. “He's not trying to break us up, he's calling me in to work. This is not the police, Rhys. I have to work no matter what I'm doing or whom I'm with.“

Rhys snorted. “Aside from you, nobody's working in that unit?“

“The team's small. When Jack calls me, he's also calling the others. We're handling the cases together.“ She glared at him. “That doesn't give you the right to take my mobile and call him. Do you have any idea what kind of trouble you got me into?“ He crossed his arms stubbornly and Gwen continued slowly, as if talking to a child, “He is my boss, Rhys.“

Even though he wanted to be insulted at the way she was talking to him, he also felt embarrassed. Maybe he'd overdone it, but his defiance didn't let go that easily and he backtracked a few steps in their argument.

“He could hire more people.“

Gwen groaned in frustration and rubbed her forehead. “It's not that simple.“

“Why the hell not?“ Rhys asked, furious. “You just ask me to believe what you tell me, but how do I know that it's the truth?“

“Because it is, Rhys. Our job's complicated and top secret. We're only four field agents plus an archivist.“

Rhys snorted. “All I've got is your word on that and that bloody smile you wear whenever Jack's calling.“

Gwen stared at him, shocked. “Rhys … I swear to God, I'm not cheating on you, and I can't believe you'd think that lowly of me.“ She walked past him to the bedroom and slammed the door.

Rhys wanted to throw himself onto the couch, but then he remembered that it wasn't there any more. He yelled, “Where am I supposed to sleep?!“

***

When Ianto saw Jack the first time the next morning, he was just about to leave his office and putting on his coat. Ianto frowned. He was proud to know all of Jack's appointments by heart. There was nothing planned for this morning. The first appointment would be this afternoon. A call with the Prime Minister.

Ianto stopped half-way to Jack's office and watched him coming towards him.

“Sir, did something happen?“

“No. I have some personal business to take care of, and I'll take the back-up SUV. Could you take my calls and ask Tosh to check the Rift activities from yesterday evening? Between eleven and midnight. I met our mysterious friend.“ Jack was already at the door, leaving the main Hub.

Ianto trailed after him to the elevator leading up to the tourist office and down to the garage.

“Of course,“ he answered. “Do you want me to make you coffee?“

Jack entered the elevator and leaned against the door to prevent it from closing.

“I'm getting one on the way. I'll be on the road for quite a while.“ He smiled. “But I'd love your special blend as soon as I'm back. Now, I have to leave, I'm late.“ He stepped back and the doors closed.

Ianto stared after him in confusion, then he sighed and entered the main Hub. He'd cleaned up from the day before already, like he always did, and therefore was content with how the Hub looked. Myfanwy was screeching unhappily, and Ianto waved at her. She was always a bit impatient when it came to breakfast, but Ianto's watch told him that he had half an hour left before the appointed feeding time. He entered Jack's office and organized his desk, programming Jack's phone to reroute the calls to Ianto's mobile, then he glanced at the computer screen. He froze, hesitated, then he took a closer look. The website of Pembroke's local newspaper was displayed, and at the bottom of the screen, there was a personal announcement.

We invite you to say goodbye to our beloved mother and grandmother

Ianto sighed sadly when he read the name, and he assumed that Jack must have found the announcement only today. That was why he didn't mention any personal appointments yesterday. Jack was on his way to Estelle's funeral.

***

Jack had never been to Pembroke before, but he remembered Estelle telling him that her daughter and her family were living there. She'd told him, too, that she would be buried there. Jack had never thought that it would happen so soon and this way. The funeral had already started when Jack joined the people around Estelle's grave. He was happy to see that many had come. It proved to him that she'd been loved. The grave was near a tree that would shadow Estelle from the sunlight. Even though it was cold, the sun was shining today. Jack looked at the people who had come to grieve for Estelle … he recognized her immediately. She was the spitting image of her mother. Even though her eyes were tired and her make up destroyed by tears, she was beautiful, and Jack was reminded of the first time he'd laid eyes on Estelle. Her elegant moves on the dance floor where she'd been dancing on her own. The only girl dancing alone. Jack had been intrigued immediately, drawn to her inner strength. Estelle had told him about Victoria. Her only daughter, happily married, two almost grown-up sons. The wind was playing with her dark hair and the black costume was hugging her slim figure perfectly. For a moment, Jack felt a deep longing for her – a woman he'd never met before, and, embarrassed, he ducked his head to look at Estelle's coffin.

When the funeral was over, and the guests had said goodbye to Victoria, her husband whispered something to her and headed with their sons towards the parking lot. She stayed behind at the grave, alone. Jack left the tree's shadow and joined her, a friendly smile on his lips. “Mrs. Robinson?“ He offered her his hand. “I'm so sorry.“

She looked up at him, a bit startled, and something like recognition flickered in her eyes. She didn't seem to be able to place where she knew him from, because she took his hand and asked, “Thank you. And you are?“

“Jack Harkness. A friend of your mother.“

Slowly, a smile graced her features.

“Right,“ she said. “The photographs. You're the son of ...“ She stopped, unsure.

He laughed softly. “Jack Harkness. Same name.“

“Right, Jack Harkness.“ She smiled. “He meant a lot to my mother, and she talked a lot about you. She was so happy that you decided to contact her.“

Jack shoved his hands into his coat pockets. Suddenly, he felt a bit insecure. He normally never talked to anyone at the funerals he attended. Most of the time, he stayed away from the guests and just came to say his private goodbyes to another lost loved one, but it was too late now, and a lie was a lie, so he said, “I couldn't resist. My dad was always telling stories about her.“

“I would have invited you to come but I didn't have your address or phone number.“

Estelle had known his phone number by heart – he'd given it to her in case of emergencies or for when she felt lonely. He'd never given her an address, though.

He stepped closer to Victoria and shook his head. “Don't worry.“

“What happened, is so terrible,“ Victoria whispered, and Jack put a hand on her shoulder. “She drowned, but they don't know how.“ She sighed. “I wish she'd agreed to move up here, but she didn't want to leave Cardiff. Well, at least she agreed to be buried here.“

“She was very stubborn,“ Jack nodded.

Victoria looked at him. “She loved your father, and she never understood why he stopped writing to her.“

Jack shrugged, looking for an explanation that would satisfy Victoria without making an even bigger liar out of him.

“It was a difficult time for everyone. I … can't tell you why he didn't return to be with her.“ He sighed, and Victoria nodded her understanding. Jack assured her, “But he was in love with her. She was special.“ He swallowed tears and added, “I won't forget her.“

“Thank you, Mr. Harkness.“

He smiled, turned away and headed for the parking lot. The noise of the city beyond the graveyard's walls faded, until all he could hear were his steps and his unsteady breath.

Chapter Eight
Masterlist

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
milady_dragon
Feb. 27th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
Loved that! Loved Rhys calling Jack like that, and demanding he stay away from Gwen. Hoe embarrassing! I can see his point, but still...you don't go calling your wife's boss and accusing him of that.

And Estelle's funeral...very sad. At least Jack got to say goodbye to her.
jolinarjackson
Feb. 28th, 2011 01:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Yeah, it's embarrassing, but I think Rhys is exactly the kind of impulsive guy to do things like that. At least when Gwen's concerned.
fide_et_spe
Feb. 27th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
Oh that was sad.

I think Rhys does have a point. It highlights how stupid the idea of such a small team is. I'll be interested to see how you play this out.
jolinarjackson
Feb. 28th, 2011 01:11 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
lone_star_woman
Feb. 28th, 2011 03:47 am (UTC)
That fight between Rhys and Gwen felt very true to character.

Gwen stared at him, shocked. “Rhys … I swear to God, I'm not cheating on you, and I can't believe you'd think that lowly of me.“ She walked past him to the bedroom and slammed the door.

And then, she shags Owen.

I liked how you worked Estelle's funeral into the fic. While sad, I was glad that Jack got to say goodbye.
jolinarjackson
Feb. 28th, 2011 01:13 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
I think shagging Owen was impulsive and born from shock. At least the first time. I don't think, at that point in time, she believed that she could cheat on Rhys.
lawsontl
Mar. 1st, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC)
Ooh, somehow I missed this chapter.

Great on Rhys for stepping up; I was sometimes surprised he didn't do it sooner in the series.

My favorite part, though, was the funeral. Jack's grief is understated, and his responses so human and true to form to him.
jolinarjackson
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )