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Myfanwy 2

December 2017

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Cry of the Space Whale - Chapter Two

Cry of the Space Whale - Chapter Two
uthor: Milady Dragon
Series: Dragon-Verse
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Toshiko/Kathy, Rhys/Gwen (past)
Warnings: Language
Spoilers: Both series up to S2, E4, "Meat"
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better.
Author's note:  This is the Dragon-Verse version of "Meat".  As usual, dating and research thanks to the TARDIS wiki and Ianto's Desktop.

A/N2: Hey, I meant to have this up a couple of days ago, but I got a round of food poisoning that had me somewhat indisposed.  We've also been so busy at work, so I got a bit behind.  Hope this was worth the wait.

SummaryWhen one of Rhys Williams' employees is killed in a road accident and Torchwood investigates, he is determined to get to the bottom of what happened...and to find out what just was wrong with the meat that had been in the back of his friend's lorry.




1 September 2008

Rhys made a U-turn – with the assistance of a pleasant-looking constable after a word from Ianto – and headed back toward Harwood’s. His mind was running like a hamster in a wheel: racing, and yet not really getting anywhere.

This just didn’t seem real. Even glancing into his rear view mirror and seeing the strobing lights from the accident scene wasn’t putting it into any sort of perspective for him.

And no, it wasn’t anything to do with Leighton’s death. That, he understood. Accidents did happen, and while Harwood’s had an excellent safety record this wasn’t the first time one of their drivers had been injured or even killed in a road accident. Yes, it was the first since Rhys had become manager, and so was the one to play on his conscience – although, really, it wasn’t his fault even though he’d been the one to sign off on the paperwork that had approved the job and the release of the lorry for it.

He couldn’t stop thinking of Jen, and that little baby who would never know his dad, and the fact that Leighton, his friend, had apparently been doing something underhanded in plain sight and Rhys hadn’t caught onto it.

And what was worse was that it was something that had brought bloody Torchwood sniffing around.

That was just the icing on the cake, that was. Because Rhys had been perfectly happy with his limited contact with Torchwood – which had consisted mostly of Ianto Jones showing up for footie a couple of times and some phone calls from him or Harkness checking in on the relationship that had somehow become a chore.

A chore that he’d found himself disliking until even Gwen had noticed something was wrong and had gone off to Swansea and to let him stew in his own issues. What was worse, there were times when he was glad that she had left him, because Rhys had absolutely hated knowing that she didn’t remember nearly a year of their lives together, and that it had been her own doing. That Gwen had chosen to do the things that she had, and that somehow she’d thought she’d be beyond the consequences of her actions. That she’d been right about everything despite the evidence that she’d been completely and utterly wrong.

He still had the ring. It was in his sock drawer. He’d never given it back to her, had never asked her to marry him again. Rhys couldn’t, knowing what she’d done to him and of her cheating on him with another man. If she’d really come to him and confessed, he might have taken her back; taken the responsibility of sleeping with her co-worker without the use of that damned Retcon…but now he would never know how he’d have reacted. She’d taken that decision out of his hands by making him forget it.

It wasn’t that he couldn’t understand the secrecy. He did. He himself was keeping the same secrets and wouldn’t even dream of giving them up. But he’d come to realise that Gwen had been lying to him about other things, keeping things from him that didn’t need to be hidden, like that run-in with the cannibals out in the countryside. Cannibals…now that had been a fucking shock.

Although, he knew he couldn’t really blame Torchwood for what happened with Gwen. They had merely opened his eyes to her true nature, and in a way he should really have thanked them for it. But he wasn’t at all sure he could trust them, for the same reason. Gwen might have been alright if she’d never met up with Harkness and his bunch. She might have still lied to him, and kept things from him, but what she would have hidden wouldn’t have been so explosive…

No, he couldn’t think that way. It really wasn’t her team’s fault that Gwen had turned out the way she had.

Rhys glanced over at his passenger. Jones sat beside him, his hands folded in his lap and his eyes watchful as they travelled. At first, he’d been so excited to know that his Gran’s stories had been true; that dragons did exist, that there were more mysteries out there in the world that regular people had no clue about. She’d told him all about magic, and about her mother, who’d been a healer, and Rhys had even seen her do magic on occasion. Rhys’ own mother followed what was now called the Old Religion, and had her own tiny spark of magic, but he’d been born pretty normal.

He remembered Gwen scoffing at such things, and sighed.

He suddenly felt eyes on him, and knew that the sigh had been heard. “I truly am sorry about your friend,” Ianto said softly, misinterpreting the cause of it.

“Yeah. I just can’t get past the fact that Leighton was up to something.”

Ianto hummed softly. “We don’t even know if he was up to something,” he pointed out.    “He might have had no knowledge of what was going on. He could be innocent in this, Rhys.”

There was that. Rhys felt a bit better after that, because he really didn’t want to think badly of Leighton.   “I have the records of the transaction in my office. Hopefully we’ll find something there.”

“If we can at least check out the person or company that rented the lorry, that should give us a clue.”

Rhys chewed his lower lip for a second, and then finally asked the question he really wanted the answer to. “What about the accident? Will Torchwood investigate that too?”

“No, the police will; they’re better equipped to handle road accidents. In fact, from what we’d heard before we’d arrived, they’d already worked out that the other car was the reason for the crash. Witnesses claim that the car attempted to pass the lorry, but it cut back into traffic too soon and clipped the front end of the lorry and with the roads wet…”

Rhys let out a breath he hadn’t been aware that he’d been holding. Thank god for that, that Leighton hadn’t been the cause of the accident. It wasn’t even because Harwood’s would have been liable; no, it was more because he didn’t want Leighton to have caused it, especially if he was actually up to something else that would get him into more trouble. It also meant that Jen and the baby would get Leighton’s benefits and the insurance money. They were going to need it.

Rhys made a mental note to set up a collection for them. He knew the drivers would gladly give what they could to help them out.

The rest of the drive was made in silence, and he was somewhat grateful for that. It gave him time to get his thoughts in order.

Rhys knew what he really wanted to do was to prove Leighton innocent of everything. That his friend hadn’t had any idea of what he’d been hauling. That Torchwood wouldn’t get away with placing blame where it shouldn’t go.

That they wouldn’t touch anyone else’s lives without destroying things completely.

Okay, sure, he knew he was holding a grudge. He recalled vividly the day he’d been approached in a pub by a man who was actually a hidden dragon, and how excited he’d been. He could finally be the confidante of his fiancée, and she would never have to hide anything from him again. That night had also brought truths to his Gran’s tales and his family’s history, which had been a bonus.

The next day, Gwen had lost nearly a years’ worth of her memories and Rhys had volunteered to be her secret carer just in case she recalled things she shouldn’t.

Then it had been Rhys keeping things from her, and he honestly couldn’t understand how she’d been able to do it with a nearly-clean conscience.

Well, he didn’t have to do that to her anymore. Gwen was gone, off to a new life, leaving Rhys on his own because she couldn’t stand being in Cardiff any longer. It had been a relief, which had made him feel guilty.

He still felt guilty about being glad she was gone. That wasn’t how he was supposed to feel when it was the person he’d considered the love of his life was gone for good.

He was still poking his guilt like he would with a bad tooth when Rhys pulled into Harwood’s car park, pulling into his company vehicle’s assigned parking space. He turned the ignition off, twisting in his seat to give his passenger a look. “I want to make one thing perfectly clear,” he said, determined. “If Leighton is actually guilty of something, I don’t want Torchwood ruining his life, especially since whatever the hell it is is so bloody secret no one will ever know the truth.”

Ianto met his gaze, his eyes old and sad. “Rhys, we don’t want to ruin anyone. We do need to know what this meat is, what your man has been doing with it, and where it came from. Do you honestly think anyone would believe it if we came right out and said that meat was some sort of alien? The only thing we’re interested in is making certain there’s not a danger to the people of Cardiff. Blackening your friend’s name isn’t going to do that.”

Rhys felt somewhat mollified by the reassurance, but despite the awe he felt toward Ianto Jones being a mystical creature and all, he just wasn’t sure he could completely trust Torchwood.

Okay, maybe he was being a bit too harsh; after all, it hadn’t been Torchwood’s fault that Gwen had turned into a person Rhys hadn’t recognised. She’d been like that all along, but it had finally been the stress and excitement of Torchwood that had brought everything to the surface. And even if she’d stayed with the police there was no guarantee it wouldn’t have happened there, either; in fact, he’d begun to see signs of it ever since her first day.

Still, there was that petty part of Rhys Williams who felt what he thought was a purely understandable anger toward everything Torchwood for ruining his own life. He’d had too many plans, for himself and his Gwen, and now those dreams were dead and dust. Gwen would never come back to him; she’d made that clear. To her, he was a reminder of what she’d lost, even though she had no clue what that actually was.

“Well then,” he finally said, “let’s get started.”

He climbed out of the car, and made his way into the office, ducking slightly in order to keep rain from the overhang from dripping down in collar. Rhys was already wet anyway, and he was glad he always kept extra work shirts there at his desk. The last thing he needed was to come down with something.

Rhys led Ianto down the short hallway, past the front desk where the customers would come in and do their business, and then into his own office with its window overlooking the maintenance bays where they did work on the company vehicles. Ruth was at her desk when they entered the cluttered area; she stood up quickly, her mouth open to say something, but it snapped shut when she’d noticed that Rhys wasn’t alone.

He didn’t say anything to her. Instead, he walked to his desk, pulling out the chair and sitting. Rhys used the mouse to wake up his computer, at the same time pulling the book with today’s logs in it around so he could check the actual paperwork. Sometimes the computer wasn’t as updated as it could have been, which he was trying to work on, and it never hurt to check the physical record.

Rhys could feel Ianto watching him as he called up the file for today’s loads. Yep, as he’d suspected…no one had updated the computerised records yet. Still, he was able to get a bit of information from what looked like the scant billing records they had. Another thing he was going to get onto people about. “The firm is called Harris and Harris,” he said, without looking up. “They came to us about two months ago. It’s a weekly contract, payment on pick-up.”

“What’s their address?” Ianto asked quietly.

Glancing around the standing dragon, Rhys glared daggers at his secretary at the lack of information he had to admit to. “There’s no address down here,” he said more to her than to his guest.

Ruth, who had been sitting at her own desk, jumped up and made a vague, pointing motion in the general direction of the computer. “There’s a pick-up point,” she answered. “They said it was hard to find.”

“Do you often do business like this?” Ianto didn’t sound accusing, but Rhys couldn’t help but take it that way.

“As long as they pay their bill,” he countered, letting his anger show in his voice, “they can ask us to come out to bloody Timbuktu for a pick up.” It was true, but it still bothered Rhys to no end that he didn’t have any answers to give Ianto.

Then he slumped back in his seat. Getting mad wasn’t going to do Leighton any good. “”I’m sorry,” he muttered, finally looking up at the dragon, “but all I’ve got is a service station on the A470, about fifteen miles from Cardiff.”

“Is there a phone number?” Ianto asked.

“No, nothing.”

Rhys suddenly felt defeated. He wanted to make sure that Leighton hadn’t been up to no good, but how could he do that if there wasn’t any way he could check?

“Where was load going?”

“He was taking it to the Caerwen Abattoir. It’s a processing plant…just a general meat supplier for Cardiff.”

That thought brought back the notion to go home and throw all of the meat he’d bought recently and turn vegetarian. Whatever the hell that meat had been, Rhys didn’t want to think he’d been eating it all this time.

“What time did Leighton leave?” Ianto asked.

For that, Rhys turned to the paper log. He flipped open the large, ringed binder to the trip sheets dated today. “He signed out at 10am, and was scheduled to be back here at 1pm.”

“Leighton was the regular driver,” Ruth volunteered. “After that first time, they just went through him for their deliveries.”

“Is that usual?”

Rhys shrugged. “It can be, yeah. If it’s a regular delivery, then we usually keep the same driver on that route. It saves from having to get a new driver familiar with the route.”

Ianto nodded. “If that’s all you have, I’m going to head back and we can start working on a way to trace the route.”

“Do you need a ride back?” Rhys asked, trying to be polite.

The man smiled. “No, I can find my own way back.”

“Look, I want to help you find out what’s going on.”

“That earned Rhys an appraising look. Then Ianto shook his head. “I appreciate the offer –“

“Leighton was a friend of mine!” Rhys felt a full-blown rant coming on, but he throttled it back because Ruth was still in the room and he wasn’t about to give anything away.

“I understand,” Ianto answered softly, “but this isn’t your business, Rhys. I’ll keep you informed, but you’re not a part of the team and we’re not about to put a civilian at risk.”

Rhys wanted to point out that it was his risk to take; that he didn’t trust Torchwood to do the right thing in regards to his friend; that despite the fact that they’d been about as honest with him as they could be that he simply didn’t believe that he’d ever know the complete truth of things.

“I’ll be in touch.” Ianto gave him a smile that was heavily tinged with sadness, and then made his way out of the office.

“What was that all about?” Ruth asked, once he was gone.

Rhys didn’t answer. Instead, he rested his chin on his hand, staring at the words on the computer screen as if they would give him some sort of clue. He realised that, if he wanted to know the real truth about that meat and about what Leighton was up to, he was going to have to do something himself.

But what?

It was all he could do not to slam his head against the desk in his frustration. Rhys wasn’t some sort of secret agent; he was a haulage manager, who was pretty good with routes and logistics and who was a glorified bookkeeper when it came to travel logs and mileages…

Oh bloody hell. Of course!

Rhys sat up straight, flipping the log open to the past week, when Leighton had taken the last load of suspicious meat to the abattoir. He couldn’t help but grin at the somewhat scrawling lines of numbers in the log.

Torchwood hadn’t asked for any sort of trip totals. But Rhys had them all right at hand: times, odometer readings, petrol amounts. It was all at his fingertips, and if there was one thing Rhys Williams was good at, it was making sure his guys weren’t taking side trips or goofing off when they were supposed to be working.

He had the round trip miles. He had the total petrol usage. He could easily check on the distance back to the yard from the abattoir and from the yard to this service station where Leighton would have met whoever was responsible for the load.

Rhys couldn’t help but grin. He quickly pulled up the company’s route program on his computer, and began working.



Chapter Three



Comments

Poor Rhys, I think that he shouldn't feel guilty for being glad to be rid of Gwen. :) Looking forward to seeing how the story is going to unfold. :)
Well, he was with her a long time, it's just natural that he should feel a bit bad about her being gone.

More up in a bit. :)
Loved the updated!
Thanks! More up in a bit. :)
Great update. I have feeling Rhys is gonna go looking for trouble... ;)

Hope you're feeling better. *hugs*
Oh yeah, and you know he'll find it. *grins*

Feeling much better, thanks hon. :)
Poor Rhys. He's so sad and angry, and all around depressed. Such a good portrayal of his character - a good bloke doing the best he can.
He really is. And I'm really glad you like how he's being written. Thanks! :)
thanks for the great update!!! Sometimes Rhys is too clever for his own good...
Thanks! Yeah, he is...and we'll see more in the next chapter. :)
Great update! Like the introspective bits about Rhys' feelings about Gwen and towards Torchwood, but now I'm worried about what he might get himself into!

Hope you're feeling better, and that there'll be a new chapter up soon!
Thanks, glad you liked it. :)

Rhys is about to put his foot right into it... more up in a bit.
Rhys is going to end up a part of Torchwood whether he intends to or not, and I think the team will be all the better for having him.
Yeah, it's kinda his destiny, isn't it? :)
Rhys is basically good. He blames mistakes and bad behavior Gwen. He should not but it is sweet that is not selfish.
The opposite of Gwen!
So this is how he will end up on the way to TW!
He really is, and yes, he does. Rhys will be in Torchwood, it's his destiny. :)