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Myfanwy 2

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Learning Curve - Chapter Three

Learning Curve - Chapter Three
Author: Milady Dragon
Series: Dragon-Verse
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Gwen/Rhys
Warnings: Language
Spoilers: Both series up to S2, E2, "Sleeper"
Disclaimer:  I don't own Torchwood, I would have treated it better. 
Author's note:  This story takes place directly after "Sleeper" so it is the same date as that story.

A/N2:  Well, I thought this would wrap up in three chapters, but it looks like it's going to be four.  Hopefully the next one will be up before the end of the week.

Summary:  Rhys Williams meets someone at his local pub who will change his life forever. 




29 June 2008

Rhys knew that Ianto didn’t live in a cave, but he couldn’t help but be a bit impressed by the multi-storey Victorian that was at the address the dragon had given him when he’d called.  The front garden was fairly good sized behind the stone wall the encircled the property, with a walkway leading from the driveway up to the dark red-painted front door.  Rhys rang the bell with just a small bit of hesitation, knowing they were imposing at this time of night.

On the trip over, Rhys couldn’t help but notice that Gwen got twitchier and more on edge the closer they got.  He’d asked her what the problem was several times, but she’d never responded. 

Rhys really didn’t want to think that Gwen was lying to him.  He would have much preferred that, somehow, Ianto Jones had taken him for some sort of idiot and had played a joke on him.  But Gwen herself had verified a lot of what he’d been told at the pub, and Rhys couldn’t deny the little voice in his head asking him that, if Ianto told the truth about most, then why not all?

Gwen had lied to him in the past.  Rhys knew that.  Hell, her very job meant she’d had to keep some pretty important secrets from him.  But he’d also caught her before she’d even gotten hired into Torchwood, and he’d called her on it when the lies were obvious.  That left him wondering how many not-so-obvious lies she had told him that didn’t have anything to do with the Official Secrets Act.

He would always stand by his fiancée, and he hated doubting her.   There were only a couple of things that could possibly sour their relationship, and nothing he’d heard so far would change his mind about that.  But he felt he deserved to know what Gwen had been up to, and he knew he needed both sides of the story in order to make any sort of decision. 

One thing he did know, though: it didn’t matter what happened in that house tonight, there was no fucking way he was going back to not knowing about Torchwood.

The door opened, revealing a sombre Ianto Jones.  He’d changed out of his suit, and had on jeans and ‘Red Dwarf’ tee-shirt, of all things.  “Welcome,” he greeted them, throwing the door open wide.  “Please, come in.”

Rhys did so, followed by Gwen.  He couldn’t help but notice that she really didn’t want to be there, and he might have told her to wait in the car if it weren’t important that she be with him.  Rhys was determined to know the truth, and he couldn’t do that without her presence there to answer some of the questions he had.

“Would you mind removing your shoes?” Ianto asked politely.  “It’s…a tradition, I guess you would day.”

It was then that Rhys saw that Ianto’s feet were bare, and be bent over to unlace his work boots.  “Is it some sort of dragony thing?” he asked curiously.

Ianto chuckled.  “Not really, it’s just a very long-standing habit from back in the Roman days, when people would remove their sandals to keep from tracking dust and dirt into the house. Of course, there’d also be slaves too, waiting to wash your feet as well…”

Rhys kicked his boots off, and seeing the mat beside the door with shoes already on it – a pair of black dress shoes, some trainers, and another set of sturdy boots – he quickly sat his own there as well.  “Did you have slaves?”

“No.  It’s against dragon law.  But Father would sometimes purchase slaves in the market and then set them free.  They’d often stay out of gratitude, and of course Father would pay them for their work.  Some of those ex-slaves became genuine dragon friends.”

Rhys wondered at all the history Ianto had seen; all of the advancements that had been made since he’d been born.  He would have thought it wonderful, if not for the fact that Rhys knew, after their conversation at the pub, that the dragon had been very lonely until he’d met his Jack.  How terrible was living forever?  He really didn’t want to find out.

“Jack,” Ianto called over his shoulder as he ushered Rhys and Gwen into the lounge.  It was a large space, and Rhys wasn’t ashamed to admit that he immediately began drooling over the large-screen television set on the entertainment centre that dominated one wall.  He wondered vaguely how hard it would be to talk Ianto and Jack into hosting the next match at their place…also, there was this wonderful smell, and Rhys realised that they would have been interrupting dinner. 

“Gwen,” another voice spoke, and Rhys turned to see a tall man coming from what must have been the kitchen, a tea towel tossed over one shoulder.  He was handsome, dressed a bit old-fashioned – he had on braces, no less! – with dark hair and blue eyes, and Rhys couldn’t help but feel just a tiny bit frumpy compared to him.  “Rhys,” the man said, coming toward him and extending his hand, his lips raised in what might have been a salacious grin.  “It’s good to finally meet you.  Captain Jack Harkness, but you can call me Jack.”

Bloody hell, was the man flirting with him?

“Stop it,” Ianto said, his eyes rolling good-naturedly.

“I was just saying hello,” Jack pouted. 

Gwen seemed a bit irritated by the display, and Rhys wanted to know if it was because another man had been flirting with him, or if it was because he wasn’t flirting with her. 

“Why don’t you both sit down?” Ianto invited, waving his hand toward the large sofa that was facing the large television.  “Can I get you both some coffee?”

Rhys opened his mouth to reply, but Gwen beat him to it.  “No,” she answered brusquely.

Ianto shrugged.  “Suit yourself.”  He took a seat in one of the overstuffed chairs, and Jack propped himself up on the arm, his hand on Ianto’s shoulder.  “I had hoped to see you again, Rhys; I just didn’t know it was going to be so soon.”

Once again, Rhys was going to answer, but Gwen snapped, “What gave you the right to even approach Rhys in the first place?”

“You’re not glad that you don’t have to hide things from your own fiancé anymore?” Jack inquired. 

“It should have been my choice!  And you shouldn’t have sent Ianto in the first place.”

“We didn’t ask him if it was all right to hire you,” Ianto pointed out. 

“Everyone else has someone on the outside,” Jack added.  “Someone they could talk to.”

“That’s beside the point,” Gwen argued.  “If I’d known you were going to talk to my fiancé, I would have been there!”

“Why?” Jack asked.  “What difference would it have made if you’d been?”

“Then Rhys wouldn’t have gotten Ianto’s view of events.”

“And what makes Ianto’s view so wrong?”

“Because he isn’t human!”

“Why does that even really matter, Gwen?  Ianto is your teammate and your Second.  He knows what he’s doing.”

“He can’t understand what it’s like to be human,” Gwen answered hotly.   “You hired me for that purpose, Jack…to remind the team what it means to be human.  I can’t even do that with…a dragon.”

Rhys listened as Gwen and Jack argued, and he wasn’t certain he liked what he was hearing.  Not so much from Jack’s side; he had a point, that it really didn’t matter who’d told him about Torchwood in the end, although he would have liked it if Gwen had been the one to do it.  But Gwen’s attitude toward Ianto and his not being human…that didn’t settle well with Rhys at all.  From what he’d seen – and yes, he’d only spent a couple of hours with the dragon – Ianto Jones was very much human. 

He looked over at the dragon.  His face was impassive, but there was a combination of sadness and anger in his eyes that made Rhys want to shiver slightly.

“Yes,” Jack admitted.  “I did hire you because I thought the team had somehow lost its way.  But I’ve come to realise that I was wrong.  My team wasn’t missing humanity at all.”

“But they do,” Gwen answered.  “They’re down in that Hub all day, and it can change a person not being around others.”

“No, Gwen…they are human.    They’re even more human than you are, because you’ve never really had to suffer loss as they have.”  Jack leaned forward slightly, his sharp eyes glaring right at Gwen.  “Toshiko risked going to prison in order to save her mother from terrorists.  Owen lost who could have been the love of his life to an alien that had destroyed her brain, and yet he found a new purpose and a new love.  And Ianto,” he leaned back, touching the dragon on the shoulder once more, “risked everything to save the only other dragon living when human beings had tortured her, and yet he chose that very humanity when Lisa proved to be a danger.”  He sighed.  “I’m only sorry I didn’t see it before, because I would have made certain the Retcon had held.  You wouldn’t have ever remembered us at all, and now we wouldn’t be having this discussion for what feels like the hundredth time.”

“Rhys,” Ianto said, “I’m sorry you have to be a witness to this.  I tried very hard not to say anything against Gwen and her performance when we’d met earlier –“

“That’s fine,” Rhys answered, not quite believing what he was hearing.  Did Gwen really feel that way about the people she worked with?  That they didn’t have any sort of humanity?  But how couldn’t they, if they saved the world on a semi-regular basis? 

“Gwen,” Jack went on, “we’ve gone round and round about this, and to honest I’m quite tired of it.  Now you bring Rhys into it –“

“Ianto’s the one who talked to him,” she responded.  “He’s the one who brought Rhys into it.”

“But Ianto wasn’t the one who’s currently airing their dirty laundry in front of their fiancé.”

“Just, stop,” Ianto interrupted.  He looked tired.  “I’m sick of this arguing. Gwen,” he looked at her, “Rhys wants answers, he doesn’t want to witness us calling you on the carpet for behaviour you refuse to fix.”  He glanced away and toward Rhys himself.  “I take it you have questions that were raised when you spoke to Gwen?”

“Yeah, I did.”  Rhys was glad that someone had called off the slinging.  “I wanna know what happened today with the terrorists.”

Ianto sighed.  “I think you mean you want to know what happened with Beth.”  He suddenly looked wrecked, and very old.

Jack put his arm around him.  “You okay with this?” he asked gently.

“Yes.  Would you get my laptop from our bedroom, please?  I think perhaps Rhys would prefer to see it instead of simply hearing about it.”

Jack got up and left the lounge, heading up a flight of stairs at the other end of the room.  Ianto rubbed a hand over his eyes.  “We can let you see the actual CCTV footage o what happened in the Hub today.  Unfortunately there’s no sound, but it should give you a fairly clear picture of events.”

“You have a direct feed from the Hub to here?”  Gwen asked incredulously. 

“I do.  Toshiko set it up for me after the Brynblaidd, when I was on medical leave.”  He glanced at Rhys.  “I damaged a wing trying to stop someone from stealing our vehicle.”  He cocked his head.  “Did you hear the news about the cannibals being found in the countryside?”

Rhys froze in shock.  “Bloody hell…you were involved in that?  I thought you lot only handled aliens!”  He could recall hearing about it on the news and being completely gobsmacked by the very idea of a village full of cannibals.  “They said some of them died in some sort of fire…was that you?”

“It was,” Ianto admitted.  “I let loose my flame while in their abattoir.  It was…horrifying.”

“I’m pretty sure you’re understating that a bit, mate.”  He couldn’t help but be in awe of the dragon, honestly.

“And he murdered a bunch of those people when he did that,” Gwen scolded. 

Rhys snorted.  “You think that’s murder, Gwen?  I’d say it was self-defence, if Ianto was actually in their abattoir at the time.  And how many people had they actually eaten before Torchwood showed up, anyway?”

“It had been going on for years,” Jack answered, coming around the couch, holding an open laptop in both hands.  He set it down on the coffee table in front of Rhys, and on the screen he could make out a twisting blue design that very nearly made him dizzy to look at.  He then rejoined Ianto at the dragon’s chair.  “We’re talking hundreds of people they’d killed and butchered.”

“That’s disgusting.”  Rhys wanted to gag. 

“I sometimes don’t understand humanity,” Ianto confessed.  “They do the most horrible things to each other and yet they consider themselves the highest form of life on Earth.  No offence, anyone.”

Gwen snorted, but Rhys agreed.  He watched the telly at night, and he’d heard all sorts of reports of what man did to man. 

“And that’s not counting what alien races want to do to us,” Jack added.  “Rhys, I assume Gwen told you about what happened today?”

“Ianto first,” Rhys answered. “Then Gwen filled in more.”  This was it’ this was where he’d find out what had happened and if Gwen’s concerns were real.  He was almost hoping they were, because he didn’t want to think that Gwen wasn’t being honest with him.

“Then let me give you the basics that are going to be part of the report I’m filing tomorrow, and then we can show you the footage from the CCTV,” Jack said.  “We managed to stumble upon an alien terrorist cell called Cell 1-1-4.  They are sent by an alien race in order to gather intelligence on their target planet and to be in a position to cause havoc on a grand scale.  It was that alien cell that was responsible for losing the phones and the explosion out near the M4.  In the course of the investigation we managed to capture a member of that cell.”

“Beth,” Gwen interrupted, frowning.

“Yes, Beth,” Ianto confirmed.  “She was a young woman, married to a man she loved very much…but her human existence was a lie.  It was programmed into her, and at the proper signal that humanity would have sloughed away, revealing the alien within.”

Already the story he’d been told by Gwen was different from what Jack and Ianto were saying.  He’d thought that the terrorist had been brainwashed into killing, but it looked as if it was the other way around: the alien had been programmed into being normal.  It seemed fantastical, but in a way it made perfect sense.

Rhys couldn’t help but notice just how upset Ianto seemed at the mention of this alien’s name, and he wondered why.  But he didn’t interrupt, wanting to hear what they had to say.

“Beth was human,” Gwen snapped. 

“And this is where we disagree,” Jack replied.  “You see, once we confronted Beth with what she was, she tried to help us stop the other three members of the cell.  She did succeed with one of them, and if she hadn’t Cardiff wouldn’t be here anymore.”    He glanced down at Ianto.  “Remind me to call the MoD tomorrow about those nukes, all right?”

Ianto nodded.

“Wait,” Rhys exclaimed in shock.  ‘”There were nuclear weapons?”

Jack nodded.  “There was a stockpile just up the M4 link road that we didn’t know about until it was almost too late.  Don’t worry though; I’m going to get them moved immediately.  But anyway, Beth was a hero today.”

“She deserved better than to be shot down like a wild animal,” Gwen said belligerently.

“The last thing Beth wanted to be responsible for hurting anyone,” Jack replied sharply.  “She made Ianto promise to stop her if she tried.”

“Perhaps this is where Rhys needs to see the footage?” Ianto suggested.  “Just hit ‘enter’ on the laptop and you’ll see the bone of contention.”

Rhys leaned forward and did so.  Ianto was right about the sound, but he could easily make out a metal walkway of some sort, the camera looking down on it and an open area below that looked like it had some sort of high-tech equipment in it.

He watched raptly as Gwen and another woman came into shot, and then Ianto joined them.  Some sort of argument was going on, and suddenly the woman’s arm seemed to change into a nasty-looking sword-like weapon, and she was threatening Gwen with it.  Ianto was moving…

But suddenly the woman fell backward, and Rhys could see the blood on the woman’s shirt. 

He shivered.  He couldn’t help it.  Gwen had been in danger, and someone had saved her life.  Rhys wondered who it had been, so he could thank them properly.

His heartbeat was thundering in his ears as he reached over and hit the ‘enter’ key once more.  The picture paused, and he could see that Gwen was gone, and Ianto was kneeling beside the dead alien, but he couldn’t make out what he was doing.

“She wasn’t going to hurt me,” Gwen insisted.

“Bloody fuck, Gwen!” Rhys exclaimed.   “She was gonna stab you!”

“No she wasn’t,” his fiancée disagreed.  “Beth felt he didn’t have a choice but to die, so she simply threatened me.  Tosh didn’t need to shoot her.”

“This is where we don’t agree,” Jack said.  “Beth had made Ianto swear to stop her if she tried to hurt anyone, and we couldn’t take the chance that the programming that had given Beth her human personality was breaking.”

“She was forcing your hand,” Gwen demanded.  “She could have been saved if you’d only given her a bit of hope in the future.”

“Rhys,” Jack turned to him,” I want to ask your opinion on something.”

Rhys nodded, even while he was still processing what he’d seen.  Gwen had nearly been killed, and he didn’t care what she was saying.  That alien had been threatening his Gwen with a whacking great blade, and Gwen had been saved by her teammates.    

He was shaken to the core, faced with just how truly dangerous Gwen’s job was.   Of course he’d realised it was, but seeing it on screen was something completely different and he hated the idea that Cardiff needed something like Torchwood to protect it.  In was necessary though, and his Gwen was a part of that dangerous world.

Rhys swallowed, hard.  Because it suddenly came to him that this job would be the death of the woman he loved, and he wasn’t sure how he was supposed to accept that.

“If there was something fatally wrong with you,” Jack said, “would you want to know the truth, or would you prefer to be given false hope even though nothing could be done about your condition?”

He didn’t even need to think about it.  “That’s easy, mate.  I’d want to know the truth.”  He suddenly put it together, and could see how this had gone.  They’d offered this Beth person the truth about who she was, but Gwen hadn’t accepted that and had wanted to lie to her in order to help her somehow cope with the situation.

Gwen was staring at him.  “You wouldn’t want hope to live?” she asked incredulously.

“No, I’d want to know exactly what was happening to me so I could prepare for it.  If there wasn’t any way to make me better, I’d hope someone would be honest with me about it.”

He didn’t miss the relieved expression on Ianto’s face, and the angry one on Gwen’s.  So, this was their current bone of contention…and yes, Rhys could tell that there had been many more in the past.  Ianto had been honest about this woman’s chances, while Gwen had been trying to get her to fight against the inevitable. 

But then, Gwen had always been horribly optimistic in that way.  It didn’t mean she was right, but he also knew that she’d never admit to being wrong.

“I can’t believe you’re siding with them,” she accused him.

“I’m not siding with anyone, Gwen,” Rhys protested.  “I’m telling you how I feel.  I just saw a woman try to kill you, and you’re saying she wasn’t going to?  How could you even tell?  It looked certainly real to me, and I want to hug the person who pulled the trigger.  Because, if they hadn’t, we wouldn’t be sitting here now fighting about it.  You’d be dead, and Jack and Ianto would be at our flat, informing me that you’d died in the line of duty.  Gwen, you’re idealism shouldn’t come at the cost of your life.”

Jack was nodding in agreement.  “This is exactly what we wish you’d learn, Gwen.  But, unfortunately, we know this isn’t going to happen.  Which makes you a liability to Torchwood.”

Rhys was all for what Jack had said…until he let the last part of that sentence sink it.

What the hell did that mean?



Chapter Four






Comments

What it means, Rhys, is that you're going to keep Gwen away from Torchwood. The end. :P
Exactly. *grins*
I was sorta disappointed that it suddenly became 3/4, but then my brain turned on... Woot! Go Rhys!
Yes, I was too, but that means we get a better confrontation! And more Rhys! *grins*
love your Rhys so much! unfortunately he'd have to keep Gwen by his side now!
Well, true...but he does love her, and he'll always try to make it work.
Good lord, your writing is incredibly cathartic.

I love Rhys, I love his sense of practicality, and his ability to reason when Gwen is blinded by her own biases. Not just in your writing, but we got a glimpse of it early in Miracle Day when Gwen is heaping the blame on Jack for them being arrested, and Rhys speaks up and tells her that it isn't his fault.

I love that you've captured that side of Rhys - that even though he might experience the stereotypical jealousy and feelings of insecurity, he is still open-minded enough to hear all sides of the story before making up his mind.

Gwen is so utterly different. She has always been quick to idolise Jack when everything is going well, and blame him when they're not, and she only ever wants to hear the side of the argument that furthers her own point of view.

I think once he knows what Jack and Ianto are planning for Gwen, he'll be all for it, though we know that Gwen won't go without one hell of a fight.

Brilliant chapter and, as I said, wonderfully cathartic!

Edited at 2012-12-06 01:17 am (UTC)
Thank you! *blushes*

I do love Rhys. He sees things as they are, and is a really good balance for Gwen's extravagance. He can rein her in when needed, because he's really the only one she'll pay attention to. The others, well she pays attention when it's to her own interest, and quick to judge every time something doesn't go the way she thinks it will.

Very glad you enjoyed it. One more chapter wit Gwen... :)
She's gonna be fired??? oh, please. oh, please. let her be fired.
"horribly optimistic"- yeah, that about cover it. delusional covers the rest.

...love,love, love Rhys! :D

wonderful update!
Let's just say Gwen has it coming, doesn't she? *winks*

Thank you. :)
Why Rhys! What a very good question! I am dying to know myself. The CCTV footage was a really good way to get to the heart of the matter. I still find it hard to take that Gwen thinks she is so much better than everyone else and that she thinks she is the yardstick for what is considered normal and appropriate. Grrr! I am looking forward to the conclusion to this confrontation - it should be a doozy!
Sometimes it takes an outsider to put things in perspective, and Rhys is pretty good at doing just that. He sees it as it is.

Oh the ending...I think 'doozy' is a good way to describe it. *grins*
Loved the update! I think Rhys will be happy to have Gwen out of Torchwood.
Thanks! You might be right about that, now that he's seen really how dangerous it is. :)
I'm glad Rhys is getting the chance to hear the real, whole story, complete with video. She can hardly lie her way out of that. It didn't take long for him to realize she hadn't been telling him the truth and he was able to witness first-hand her outrageous prejudice and nasty attitude toward Ianto.

I can't wait to see Rhys' reaction to Jack's explanation of his last statement.
Especially since Gwen was only giving her own opinion, not what it events really look like. To everyone, she was in danger. To Gwen, she was so certain Beth wasn't going to do anything. Seeing it makes it real, I suppose you'd say.

More up soon. :)
Hmm so what is Rhys going to do now? Looking forward to seeing where you go with this one.
K
xx
We'll have to see... *winks*
I love Rhys and can Jack and Ianto really get rid of Gwen and keep Rhys? lol. I swear i want to slap her everytime she speaks about Ianto grr. Loving this :)
Rhys will still be around. We haven't seen the last of him.

Thanks! :)
RHYS RHYS HE'S OUR MAN, IF HE CAN'T DO IT, IANTO CAN! GOOOOOO RHYS!!!!!!! *waves pompoms*
He deserves that cheer! *gets out pompoms as well*
Wahey, my day is suddenly looking a lot brighter..this sounds like:"Exit Gwen..."
Glad I could brighten your day! And yes...wave buh bye. :)
Gwen did not protest having to go to Ianto?
surprising.
But I guess that being so sure of herself, she thinks she can bring Rhys to his point of view.

The bomb is dropped! but it's not going to be easy.
Rhys will agree, since he discovered what dangers Gwen incur with Torchwood .
But Gwen ....
they'll retconned her?

In any case, I'm glad to see that Rhys is not fooled by Gwen. he knows, he knows his propensity to see his point of view and to be overly optimistic. she thinks she can do good but it may make things worse rather. it share of a good feeling but within Torchwood it can be fatal!
Well, she wasn't happy about it, but at the same time she was mad he went behind her back. And sure, Rhys is her fiance, of course he's going to side with her. *laughs*

Gwen certainly isn't going to have fun in the next chapter, that I promise.

Rhys is really getting to know his fiance and her job. :)
Again, Rhys is my hero. So happy he understands. As much as he loves Gwen, I wish that he would leave her and they give her Retcon and send her far far away.
I can't say enough how much I love Rhys. :)

As for the rest...next chapter is up now.
Sounds like the axe is about to fall...
With an extremely loud THUNK.