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Myfanwy 2

May 2018

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Cry of the Space Whale - Chapter Eight (Complete)

Cry of the Space Whale - Chapter Eight (Complete)
Author: Milady Dragon
Series: Dragon-Verse
Rating: PG-13
Pairing(s): Jack/Ianto, Toshiko/Kathy, Rhys/Gwen (past)
Warnings: Language, Violence
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:  Here we are, the end to this story.  I'm glad you've all enjoyed it!  I am going to be starting on the next story, which...won't be the Dragon-Verse version of "Adam".  I am actually going to be taking a story out of order, because it fits here much better, so stay tuned for that one.  If you're interested in a PDF (or other downloadable form) please go to my AO3 profile and you can get it there.  Thanks to everyone for reading!

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.




4 September 2008

Rhys made his way into his local pub, his eyes scanning the lunch crowd that was gathering for Ianto. The dragon had contacted him last night, asking him to meet at the pub for a ‘discussion’. Considering it had been two days since the alien had been rescued, Rhys figured he was pretty safe from Retcon at least; not that he honestly thought Harkness would order it. He hadn’t back when Gwen had left, which really would have been the best time to do it; make him forget about everything that’s he’d been told about Torchwood ever since they’d ‘retired’ Gwen.

Ianto wasn’t the only one in the rear booth, waiting; Harkness was also there, his arm thrown across the back of the bench seat, practically sprawling against the corner. Ianto was leaning slightly against him, but straightened as his eyes met Rhys’ as he approached. The dragon nodded toward the bar, and Rhys made a detour, figuring that meant they hadn’t ordered for him. He motioned toward the keep, asked for coffee and the shepherd’s pie, and then took his mug to join the two Torchwood leaders in their booth.

“No beer?” Ianto asked, his eyes glittering with laughter.

Rhys chuckled, recalling the first time they’d ever met and how he’d complained about the waste of a good beer by putting Retcon in it. “Got a run out to Porthcawl this afternoon and I’d rather not go back to the office with alcohol on my breath. Mister Harwood’s being a hard arse on lunchtime drinking since Leighton…even though the accident was determined not to be his fault.”

“Can’t blame him,” Harkness replied, taking a sip of the tall glass of water in front of him.

“Nope,” Rhys agreed. He took a sip of his coffee; it tasted slightly burnt, but at least it was caffeine.

The last couple of days had been a bit crazy, to say the least. After the Harris brothers had been taken into custody, Rhys had received a visit at the office from Detective Inspector Swanson and Gwen’s old partner, Andy Davidson, who’d been promoted to detective constable. Rhys hadn’t been surprised at it, since he’d realised pretty early on that while a bit too earnest for anyone’s good, Davidson had a decent head on his shoulders and would most likely go far in the police.

He had expected the visit. Ianto had informed him it would happen, so Torchwood could cover Rhys’ involvement in what had become a media shitstorm practically within hours of them saving the creature in that warehouse. The story had broken all over Wales about the attempted tampering of Cardiff’s food supply, and while Rhys’ name hadn’t been mentioned, Ianto had been afraid that somehow word would get back to Harwood’s that he’d been into it up to his neck. So, with cover story in hand, he’d played out a little act with Swanson and Davidson – who were both in on the real happenings, since they were tied to Torchwood – and Rhys had gotten a commendation from Mr Harwood and Ruth’s mothering of him had proceeded to reach epic proportions.

Rhys had gotten pretty uncomfortable with it in record time.

Still, it had been hectic, and to be honest Rhys was glad to get away from the yard for a bit. The trip out to Porthcawl was also in a way of a good thing, and he was actually looking forward to it; getting away from the office, by himself and just driving with the radio on. Maybe if he was lucky, he’d hear the Harwood’s jingle again.

Yeah, that never got old.

“How’s the alien?” he asked.

Ianto smiled. “It’s recovering quickly. Once it realised we weren’t there to hurt it, we were able to keep it awake for longer periods of time. The wound is healing faster than Owen had thought it would, and we anticipate being able to set it free next week.”

“Ianto likes to sing to it,” Harkness grinned, bumping the dragon’s shoulder with his own.

“And it sings back,” Ianto answered, sounding exasperated but looking fond. “It’s a different sort of music I’m used to, but it’s so beautiful…it echoes up through the Hub and it’s just…peaceful. I’m going to miss it when it leaves.”

His expression turned wistful, and once again Rhys questioned why Gwen had been so sure these people – and this dragon – had lost their humanity. They’d saved an alien whale from torture and were nursing it back to health…if they’d really been all that cold and cruel, they would have killed the thing without being concerned about it at all.

Hell, they would have gone in that first time, not caring that Rhys had stepped into a hornets’ nest in the misguided quest to clear his friend’s name.

“Can I be there when you let it loose?” he asked. “It’s just…” he felt his face get a little hot, “I was there, you know? I saw it when they were hurting it and I feel…” He really couldn’t put a name to it.

“Invested?” Harkness suggested.

Rhys smiled. “Yeah, that’s it exactly.”

“Rhys Williams,” the dragon said softly. “You have a good heart.”

A warm feeling fanned out through his chest, and Rhys felt a bit embarrassed at the praise. “Nah, I’m just a regular bloke who got in above his head.”

“No,” Harkness denied. “You’re much more than that.”

“In fact,” Ianto added, “we’re a bit ashamed that we didn’t quite realise it sooner.”

“Which is why we’d like to officially offer you a place on our team,” Harkness continued.

Rhys sat back, stunned. No way was this happening!

He was kept from saying anything that he might have regretted by the sound of Ianto’s last name being shouted out from the bar. The dragon got up. “Be right back,” he said, weaving his way through the lunch crowd.

“Something tells me you’re about to refuse,” Harkness said shrewdly.

“Are you a bloody mind reader, then?” Rhys huffed, covering his sudden discomfort by taking a drink of his coffee.

“No, but I’m pretty sure a guy like you wouldn’t think of himself as worthy of the position.” He leaned forward. “But I want you to seriously consider this question: do you honestly see yourself working at Harwood’s ten, or even five, years down the road?”

Rhys opened his mouth to say, ‘Yeah, of course,’ but he closed it as it occurred to him that, right in that moment, that he really couldn’t.

Sure, this time a couple of years ago, things had been different. He’d had Gwen. They’d been thinking of marriage, of family. Of getting a larger flat, or even a house somewhere with a nice garden and in a quiet neighbourhood. Gwen’s police salary had been slightly larger than Rhys’ at Harwood’s, and so he’d applied for the manager position…which he’d gotten quite handily, thanks to his logistical knowledge.

Gwen’s Torchwood salary had been nearly three times what he’d been making when she’d gotten hired by Harkness. It had made planning easier, had allowed Rhys to save his own money in order to buy the ring that Gwen had worn for such a short time…and that was now returned to its box, stuffed toward the back of his sock drawer. Rhys had been perfectly happy with what he’d had then, even if he’d had no idea just what the love of his life was up to. He could have kept working at Harwood’s for as long as he’d needed, and be completely content with it.

But now…he was still at the same job, and he’d completely lost that sense of contentment that he’d had for so long. Part of that was Gwen’s leaving…a really large part. Rhys knew he would always love her, and he’d miss her terribly, but that was now over. The loss of her memory had made her rethink her priorities, and Rhys Williams was no longer on that list. She’d done her best to explain it to him but in the end Rhys hadn’t really understood her reasons for leaving, and yet he let her go, mourning the woman he’d met at University, who’d agreed without hesitation to go on that first date with him, much to Rhys’ shocked joy.

Rhys thought about his office there at Harwood’s; of Ruth, who might not have been the best secretary in the world, but who at least cared; of the lads he worked with, and played footie with on the weekend. It was his life, and all it had taken was a lorry crash and a tortured alien to question it all.

He’d been so lost in his thoughts that he hadn’t even noticed that Ianto had returned with their lunches. Rhys’ shepherd’s pie was steaming in front of him, and his lunch companions were busy eating, even if they were watching him wrestle with his thoughts.

He ate mechanically, ruminating on everything that he’d seen in the last several days and comparing it to his life so far. Sure, he’d been one for a quiet time of it, with his girl and his job and as near a perfect family life as possible.

All of that had been stripped away. And, the worst part of it was, Rhys found himself not caring all that much.

Or maybe that was the best part.

“If I decide to accept,” Rhys said, putting his fork down and looking at each of his potential bosses, “what exactly would I be doing? I’m not one of your special ops secret agents, and the only time I’ve ever seen a gun was on telly. I’m a manager in a haulage firm. What can I offer Torchwood?”

Ianto and Harkness glanced at each other. Harkness put his sandwich down, leaning back in the booth as his sharp eyes met Rhys’. “Rhys Williams, you are seriously underestimating yourself. First of all, let’s talk about how easily you accepted everything you learned about our team, just before we had to Retcon Gwen. Ianto told me about your sense of wonder over his true form, and how willing you were to believe that there was a real, live dragon living in Cardiff. A lot of truths were handed to you that day, and you didn’t overly freak out or run away. That, in and of itself, is pretty damned impressive.”

“My Gran was fond of stories about magic and dragons,” Rhys answered, feeling his cheeks warm a little at the praise. “I was kinda primed, really.”

“Maybe so,” Ianto conceded, “but that doesn’t discount the fact that you were able to use your knowledge to find that warehouse where our alien was being kept, and you managed to find an ‘in’ with the Harris gang.”

“Yeah, but I told you why I did it,” Rhys argued.

“Yes, because you wanted to prove Gwen wrong in her opinion of how you’d handle Torchwood,” the dragon said. “Even though she’d never know…just for you to know was enough. But, you also wanted to save that poor creature just as much as we did. You felt compassion for something you didn’t understand, just because it was suffering.”

“I wonder if Gwen would have felt the same,” Harkness murmured.

“We’ll never know,” Ianto replied, resting his hand on the one Harkness had lain on the table top. “Maybe she would have, or maybe not. It doesn’t really matter, because we’re not really taking Gwen into consideration here…it’s all about Rhys, and what he can offer Torchwood.”

Harkness squeezed Ianto’s hand, and then let his eyes fall back onto Rhys. “You have a good head on your shoulders, and a grasp of logistics that I think we need. Sure, you might not have a lot of skills we look for but, if we’re going to bring Gwen into this, neither did she when I hired her. Much of that can be taught, and you never know exactly what you’re going to realise that you already know yourself until we bring it up. You’re open-minded, but not so much that you’re easily led.” Then he shrugged. “And Ianto trusts you…which is a really big bonus in my book.”

Rhys glanced toward the dragon, and Ianto nodded, confirming Harkness’ words. He really had no idea what he’d done to earn that trust, but he knew he’d never take it for granted.

“Right now, Ianto does a lot around the Hub that he really doesn’t need to be doing, and we’re thinking you might fit some of those duties. Mostly keeping us supplied, arranging maintenance on our vehicle, such things like that.” Harkness smirked. “What we didn’t realise when we hired Patrick, was that Ianto would gain several more alphabet agencies to his rolodex, ones that we didn’t anticipate having.”

Ianto snorted. “Like I don’t have enough agencies to liaise with.”

“How did that happen then?” Rhys was curious. Patrick had seemed an alright bloke, and he couldn’t work out how the American would have made more work for Ianto like that.

“Patrick’s family,” the dragon answered. “He has more spies and coppers and secret agents in his family tree than anyone has the right to have. And of course they now know about Torchwood, which means they’re politely requesting information and a liaison. That would be me.”

“And eventually, we’ll get you trained up as a field agent,” Harkness said.

“Which means you’ll get to learn how to use a gun,” Ianto added, which caused Rhys to laugh.

“Also,” Harkness went on, “there’s something else you might want to know, even if you decide you don’t want to come work for us.” He leaned forward, both elbows on the table, and the expression on his face made Rhys want to sit up and pay attention. “You aren’t the first person in your family who’s come across Torchwood in their lives.”

Rhys couldn’t even begin to stop his mouth from falling open. Someone in his family had had a run-in with Torchwood? How was that possible?

He asked just that question.

“Your great-grandfather,” Harkness answered. “He was a shell-shocked young soldier who was sent back to Cardiff for care, but he found himself involved in something that could have destroyed the world. He was a hero, Rhys. He wasn’t well and yet he still managed to do what needed to be done to keep the world from ending. In thanks for that, I kept him from being sent back to the Front. I changed his name and set him up in a little village where he married and had kids, and eventually you were born. Thomas Llewellyn – or as we knew him, Tommy Brockless – was a hero and you come from a line of magic users. It’s in your blood, Rhys Williams…the magic and the Rift are in your blood and bone and heart, and it’s time you knew it.”

“It doesn’t matter if you join Torchwood or not,” Ianto said softly, his gaze intent. “You were made for bigger and better things, and you deserve it. You may be content to be a normal bloke who works a normal job and goes to the pub on the weekend and who hides his true self, although it’s completely unintentional. If you don’t work for us, then can you at least promise to find something that is more toward your potential?”

It was like listening to his Gran, Rhys realised. She’d always got onto him about his potential, especially about what he was accomplishing with his life. It had been his Mam who’d been silently condemning of his choice of mate, and now Rhys did see that both of them had a point. He’d thought he was happy, but now he knew…he’d only been content, and he was worth it to make that grab for happiness that he’d believed he’d had with Gwen.

It had just taken a dragon and an immortal time traveller to finally convince him of that.

But then, family could often be accused of bias. Harkness and Jones weren’t biased in the least.

“Well,” he finally said, feeling just a bit overwhelmed by everything he’d heard, but knowing what he was about to do was quite possibly the most right thing he’d ever done, “when do I start work?”

Comments

OOW last chapter...
Already looking forward to the next dragonized chapter!
Love what you did for Rhys!!!
So glad you liked it. I just love Rhys and he could have been so much more...

Next story is starting now. :)
As always your stories are outstanding. Loved this little tale of Rhys and the space whale. Looking forward to the next story in this 'verse.
Thank you, hon. Glad you liked it. More up now. :)
Coooooooool Rhys is now in the Torchwood family so up yours Gwen. HA!
Gwen just didn't know what she had, did she? *grins*

Thanks!
Great way to wrap up the story - Loved it!
Thank you! So glad you liked it. :)
Yes!!!!

Excellent choice, Rhys! :)

Another incredible story satisfactorily concluded. LOved it.
Rhys will flourish now that he's in Torchwood.

Glad you liked it. :)
Yay!!!!!!
Glad you liked it. :)
Hooray, Rhys is in Torchwood! :D

Terrific story! Loved it, loved it! <3<3<3
Rhys will be such a better choice for Torchwood.

Glad you liked it. :)
Yay Rhys, I am so glad for him. Ianto is like the ultimate grandmother really, it's so sweet! I am really looking forward to what is coming next. OMG the Tommy connection nearly blew my mind! I love it! :)
Rhys will fit so much better into Torchwood. Haha! Yes, Ianto really is, isn't he??

The next story is starting now. :)
Know you said this is the last part, but may I plead for an epilogue when the whale is freed. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this was the Dr Who whale? Anyway, than you for another lovely story. Glad to see that poor creature saved
This is the last, but the second chapter of the next story (which I have just started posting now) will certainly mention the whale being freed, so stay tuned. :)

So glad you liked it.
Wow! Both these last two chapters were great, and yay for Rhys finally getting what he deserves!

The last bit of chapter eight actually gave me goose flesh in a hot bath! :-D

I so love this 'verse and I can't wait to find out what you have up your sleeve next!!
So glad you liked it, and Rhys will really flourish in Torchwood.

More up now, as a matter of fact. *grins*
Tommy is his grandfather?!
super.
Rhys is someone stable. to me he embodies the good Welsh, right in his boots, which did not waver and remain present in the storm.
good recruit.