Gwen leant back in her chair with a sigh. It had taken her nearly twenty four hours of typing but she’d finally finished the report on the latest project. They had been trying to discover what the latest alien device that had been found did, and, after nearly a weeks worth of experimentation it had been revealed as a hairdryer. What kind of creature needed a hairdryer like that Gwen didn’t know, and wasn’t sure she wanted to know. Far too many heads for comfort.
She stood up, stretching and rolling her neck to loosen stiff muscles. Her actions were noticed by her team mates, and Toshiko peered round the consoles at her.
“Yes, at last.”
Toshiko grinned. How anyone could go for as long as Gwen working at one task she didn’t know. On average she could manage about twenty minutes working at a report before she needed a break, but Gwen had been working non stop on it for two days with just occasional breaks for food and about 4 hours sleep.
Turning round Gwen headed towards the small kitchen that was on the main floor. There was a more comprehensive one upstairs but if you just wanted a coffee the small one was easier.
“Anyone want a coffee?”
“No thanks. Like the red seated pants by the way, very fetching.”
Gwen twisted at Owen’s comment, looking down at the seat of her jeans. Sure enough there was a clear red patch on the denim. Turning to look at her chair it was to find a glistening patch on that too.
“Fuck…” She collapsed back into her seat, her head falling into her hands. How could she have been so stupid? Bad mood, craving chocolate, slight cramps, they all added up to her period starting, so why had she just ignored the signs? She didn’t even have her normal bag with her, so no protection.
“Hey newbie, I knew Cardiff was less advanced than other places but I would have thought that you’d know about basic bodily functions.”
Gwen was ashamed to find that she was sobbing, tears streaming down her cheeks. Owen’s comments were hitting home in a way they normally wouldn’t. If she didn’t feel so bad then his comments wouldn’t matter, so why did they hurt so much?
Toshiko leapt up from her desk and stormed over to where Owen was leant against his work table.
SLAP! “You bastard!” Her hand connected hard with the side of his face for the second time in as many seconds with a resounding crack. “You insensitive prick!”
Jack had exited his office when he’d heard the commotion and now commented “She has a point Owen. I didn’t hear what you said but you’ve got Gwen in tears. You’re a TEAM. That means you work together, guard each other’s backs. It doesn’t involve making the other members cry. I suggest you go home now and contemplate that fact. I’ll expect you to have a new attitude when you come in tomorrow.”
“Jack, it was a joke.”
“Not a very funny one from the reactions of your female colleagues. Go home and think about it.”
Owen grabbed his stuff and left, his face white.
Jack swiftly crossed the floor to kneel beside Gwen. “Sweetie, what’s wrong? What did he say?” He slipped an arm around the woman’s shoulders and pulled her to him until she was sat on the floor next to him.
Gwen didn’t respond, but sobbed harder into his shoulder. Toshiko piped up, “He made a comment about her jeans having a red patch. She looked and sat back down looking upset, then he made a comment about Cardiff being behind the times but he thought they would know about normal bodily functions by now.”
Jack clenched his teeth. “Bastard.”
“I’ve already said that,” murmured Toshiko, but her words went unheard as Jack turned his attention to comforting Gwen. “Sweetie, please don’t cry. I know Owen was a git, but we can sort it.”
“You don’t understand. I don’t have any protection, my jeans are ruined and I feel like crap. I can’t go out like this.”
Jack rose from his half crouch and pulled Gwen to her feet. “Well I don’t know about the feeling crap part but the other things I can deal with. Tosh, could you go to the chemists? Get a selection, not only humans menstruate, it’s only polite to be prepared.”
“Sure. Gwen, I’ve got a couple in my bag, hang on a sec.”
She returned from underneath her desk a minute later with a purple package. “That’ll do until I get some more.”
Gwen managed a weak smile. “Thanks.”
Jack nodded to her in thanks. “Why don’t you have a shower while Tosh goes to the chemists? Might make you feel better.”
“Jack, it may have escaped you attention, but my jeans are ruined. I don’t have a change of clothes in my bag you know.”
“I’ll clean your jeans while you’re in the shower.”
“Jack, that stain won’t come out if you washed them twenty times and then bleached them. There is no way you could get them clean and dry in twenty minutes.”
“I have my ways. Your towel’s here from last time, it’s on the rail in the bathroom.”
“Thanks Jack.” Gwen slowly rose from her position on the floor with a little help from her boss. Tosh was looking at them as if they’d turned into Weevils. Jack turned to her as Gwen made her way to Jack’s quarters.
“Should I ask why her towel was here?”
“Ok. I expect an answer at some point though.”
Gwen sighed as she allowed the hot water to wash over her. It was nice not to have to rush, not to have something else she had to be doing. In fact, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d been able to take her time in the shower. For weeks it had been ‘roll out of bed at five in the morning, grab a bite to eat and a quick shower then head to work’. Some of the mornings it had been even simpler, roll off the fold out camp bed and switch the computer on. Most of the time she didn’t mind, she loved the job, but it was nice just to be able to relax for once.
The last few weeks had been strange. After the events that had happened two weekends before Gwen had taken to staying at work later than the others, spending time with Jack, not just shagging, although that was a nice bonus, but talking, about trivial things like what their favourite foods were, or what type of films they liked.
She’d opened up to him about her past, and in return he’d given her a bit more information about his, not much, but enough to know that there had been two people he had loved, and that they had abandoned him.
She didn’t keep asking about his past, she accepted that he had secrets, but she hoped that someday he might finally trust her enough to tell her.
Her relationship with Rhys was over, it simply hadn’t collapsed yet. She would break it off with him soon, if Rhys didn’t do it first. It would have happened even if she’d stayed in the police, she’d realised that much. They were just too different, and when she’d moved up the ranks and started working longer hours things would have broken down. In a way it was a good thing it had happened now, without the complications of divorce.
It was doubtful that they would have had kids, she wouldn’t have had time, but there would have been the money and house to split up. As it was they still had separate bank accounts, so it would just be a case of Gwen finding somewhere else to live and moving her stuff out.
That led her on to her feeling about Jack. Right from the start he had seemed closer to her than the others, and that had only intensified over the past couple of weeks. They hadn’t actually done much after that initial meeting, just occasional snogging, a quick grope up against a wall. On the one night where she was the only one staying over, partly due to Rhys being at home, she’d woken to find Jack lying behind her, holding her. Neither of them had mentioned it since, but Gwen had secretly enjoyed it. She was used to sharing a bed by now, it seemed strange not to.
Rhys still didn’t fully understand her devotion to Torchwood, partly because he didn’t know much about it. He complained that they never saw each other, which was true, however Gwen still didn’t feel it was right to go home at 1am knowing that she’d be up again at 5am. He complained when she woke him at that time of night, so she’d eventually decided to stay at work for the week. Owen and Tosh had stayed over when it got more hectic, bringing sleeping bags and mattress’s, all fighting over Jack’s shower.
When he’d first told her Gwen had thought that not sleeping would be terrible, but after a week of 4 hours sleep a night she could see the advantages. Jack had kept working after they went to bed, was still working when they forced themselves up again. For that matter, Ianto always seemed to be there with cups of strong black coffee, no matter what time of day or night. How he managed it was a mystery.
She dragged her mind back to the present as she heard the bathroom door open and close softly. Only Jack would dare come in without knocking so she wasn’t worried. Giving her hair a final rinse she turned off the shower and drew back the curtain. Jack was sat on the closed lid of the toilet, looking at her in concern.
“Yes thanks.” Stepping out of the shower Gwen grabbed her fluffy towel off the rail and wrapped it round herself.
“Um, Tosh got back a few minutes ago, said to give you these.” He handed her a bag with the chemist’s logo on. Peering inside Gwen could make out several brands of tampons and pads.
An awkward silence descended. Gwen clutched her towel more tightly to her body, despite the fact that Jack had seen her far more exposed before. Jack got up.
“I guess I’ll see you outside then.” He slipped out of the room, gently closing the door behind him. Gwen sighed and looked around to find her clothes neatly folded on top of the cabinet by the sink. Holding the jeans up she was surprised to find that not only were they clean, but they were freshly ironed too. Deciding to find out how he did it later she slipped the jeans and tee-shirt on and added the necessary protection.
She felt a lot more human when she stepped out of the bathroom to find Jack perched on his bed. He immediately jumped up to wrap her in a hug.
“I’m fine.” Despite her reassurances Gwen felt herself snuggling further into Jack’s arms. “Could really do with some painkillers and some chocolate ice-cream though.”
Jack grinned. “Your wish is my command.” Leading her up the stairs to the main section of the Hub he commented, “Tosh is going to want to know what’s going on you know, especially after that towel comment I made.”
“I think we can trust her not to tell anyone, Owen isn’t exactly in her good books at the moment anyway.”
“Good point. You sure?”
“It’s not like there’s much to tell. Just that we ended up shagging that day I was in a crap mood and that since then we’ve become friends. If you don’t want her to know…”
“No I’m fine with it. Might make it easier to have someone on our side when it comes to telling the others.”
Gwen murmured an agreement as they reached the top of the staircase. Tosh greeted them with a worried glance at Gwen.
“Are you alright?”
“Yes Tosh, I’m fine. Just needed to calm down a bit, that’s all.”
She looked sceptical but accepted it. Jack headed to the freezer, produced a large tub of ice-cream and three spoons and carried it over to the table. “I suppose we owe you an explanation.”
“It would be nice, yes.”
The two women eagerly attacked the ice-cream, Tosh looking at Jack with an expectant expression. He sighed. “Lets just say that in order to cheer Gwen up when she was feeling down a few weeks ago we became more than friends. She’d stayed over at the hub a couple of times which is why her towel was here.”
“Oh. Does Rhys know.”
“No.” Gwen spoke up. “It’s over with him anyway, we just don’t see each other often enough for it to be a relationship.”
Tosh nodded. “Does anyone else know?”
“Not at the moment, no, so don’t spread it around.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t.” She grinned. “You two suit each other.”
“Um, thanks, I think.”
The ice-cream had disappeared remarkably fast, and Jack went to throw the empty carton away. Tosh stood up. “I may as well go, I won’t get any work done now. I’ll see you two tomorrow.” They both waved as she disappeared into the exit tunnel.
“What should I do now? I can’t go home to Rhys, he’d want to know why.”
“Stay here. Get some sleep. It’s not like you’ve had much free time this past week.”
“Ok.” She was nervous about her next request. “Stay with me?”
He looked shocked but agreed. “Sure.”
“Thanks. I don’t like being on my own.”
He wrapped an arm round her, guiding her down the steps. “I’ll stay as long as you want me to, I promise.”