Characters: Gwen/Rhys, Ianto
Notes: For prettyquotable for the Gwen ficathon: request was ‘Gwen/Rhys post-wedding. Gwen tries to cook lasagna for Rhys but fails miserably.’
Summary: Cooking, in theory, sounds simpler than crazed shapeshifting vampire aliens. In theory.
“Hello, duckling! You got back all right, then?”
Gwen could hear her dad turn down the TV, cutting off Chris Tarrant in the middle of telling someone he didn’t want to give them that. “I’ll ring back when your programmes are finished,” she offered.
“Only a load of rubbish anyway. I can watch that any night of the week, can’t I?”
And he couldn’t speak to her any night of the week... Gwen bit her lip, remembering all the phone messages she’d forgotten to return, all the weekends when she’d meant to go out to Swansea with Rhys.
“How was the honeymoon?”
“Lovely,” she said brightly. “Sun every day. Gorgeous hotel. Rhys almost got swept out to sea parasailing, but we got him back safe in the end.”
“Well, you can’t ask for much more than that,” her dad said wisely. “It was a very nice wedding, love,” he added. He sounded as if he wasn’t quite sure this was true, but if she knew her mother at all, the wedding she’d made up in her head would have been just as detailed as the real thing, with far less aliens. Dad wouldn’t dare admit he couldn’t half remember it for fear of his life.
“I’m picking up the pictures in the morning, I’ll bring them round some weekend.” Tosh’s best Photoshops. Gwen hoped she’d managed to put in her mother and Brenda giving each other the evil eye.
“Your mam’ll be pleased. She’s out at one of her women’s meetings with your Auntie Julia,” he said, with the comfortable ease of someone who had no idea what these meetings involved and never intended to ask.
“Oh. I forgot it was Thursday.” Gwen looked at the pile of ingredients on the counter, her heart sinking. “Dad, have you ever made lasagne?”
He sounded suddenly wary. “You’re not cooking, are you?”
“Me and Rhys had this silly bet. The loser had to make the tea our first night home.”
“What sort of a bet?”
She turned the packet of mince over to see if there were instructions on it. “We were seeing who could hold their breath the longest,” she said absently, and then turned as red as the pile of tomatoes.
“Ah, well,” her dad said, “you always did like swimming.”
“Anyway, I’ve chased him off to Dafydd’s for a couple of hours, get him out from under my feet while I get everything nice and ready.” It couldn’t be that hard, she thought. She’d fought aliens, for heaven’s sake. She’d fought an alien on her wedding day, while hugely pregnant with its alien spawn. She looked at the pasta sheets and wished they could be as easily sorted.
“I don’t think you want to be bothered cooking, love. Can’t you get a nice takeaway in? Must be millions of takeaway places in Cardiff.”
“I did some cooking in school.”
“I remember, duckling.”
“And that was... all right...”
“...never dreamed of hearing such language from a domestic science teacher...”
“Well, I’d better go and make a start on this,” she said. “Love you both lots. I’ll come and see you soon, I promise.”
“Bye, Gwen love. I bet Rhys would love a Chinese. Have a think about it.”
She spent a few minutes in a staring contest with the tomatoes, before reaching for her bag and – rather guiltily, and for the first time in a week – cycling through to the Torchwood numbers.
Ianto took a long time to answer. “Gwen.”
“You’re not doing...” She looked up at the ceiling and decided she’d better reword that. “Not in the middle of anything, are you?”
“Not a thing.”
“I know Jack said I wasn’t to even ring in, but I promise it’s not about work.” She didn’t actually have any reason to believe that Ianto was any better at cooking than she was, but somehow in the last couple of months she’d absorbed the idea that he knew something about everything. “I’m making...” She jerked the phone away from her ear. “Ianto!”
“Still here, yes.”
“That was a shot!”
There was a pause.
“I’m watching a film,” Ianto said. An explosion boomed in the background. “It’s Die Hard.”
Someone shouted, “Ianto, get down!”
“Tosh’s never seen it before,” he said smoothly. “It’s got her a bit over-excited.”
“What the hell’s going on?” Gwen demanded.
“Passing you over to Tosh now. I think Jack’s about to do something unspeakable to the microwave.”
There were at least two more gunshots – and they were, she’d heard too many to mistake that sound – before Tosh said, “Hello, Gwen. Did you have a nice time?”
“Tosh, what’s wrong? What’s going on?”
“Nothing’s wrong,” she said, and Gwen thought that she might as well have added by the way, I’m lying. “Your photos are ready. There’s a lovely one of you and your dad.”
“Tosh,” she said, “would I be right in thinking there’s some sort of alien and Jack’s ordered the three of you not to let me get involved because I’m still on holiday?”
She could almost hear poor Tosh squirm. “I’d say that’s broadly true.”
“Well, sod Jack,” she said, already racing for her gun and her keys and slamming the flat door behind her. “Text me the address. I’m on my way.”
A few seconds later, she let herself back in and switched the oven off.
Rhys was puttering around the kitchen when she got back; she knew it was late, but she’d been hoping he’d lose track of time at Daf’s.
“I know,” she said, before he could speak. “I know I promised I wouldn’t get involved in anything bar the actual end of the world before the end of the holiday but they were in trouble, Rhys, and I’m sorry and I don’t want a row, but I couldn’t know that and do nothing.”
Rhys stopped wiping the counter and looked at her, and for a moment she couldn’t read him at all, this man she’d married. And then he broke into the smile she’d fallen in love with, all those years ago. “You were on the news,” he said. “Think it was you, anyway. Stuff blowing up on High Street?”
“Aliens taking over Marks and Spencers.”
“Brilliant. I mean, so long as nobody was hurt,” he added, and she smiled and shook her head.
“Jack got thrown into Lingerie, but I think he probably enjoyed it.”
“We were watching all this, this special report about the explosions, everybody on telly running around like they didn’t know what was going on, and I thought: ‘my wife’ll sort that out.’”
She crossed the kitchen and wrapped her arms around him.
“You even tried cooking, you mad woman.”
“Brenda was dropping hints at the wedding about some ex-girlfriend of yours who’s got a Michelin star now.”
“She’s no good with aliens, though.”
“Oh, rubbish with aliens,” she said, and pulled him down to kiss him.
“Your dad rang, by the way,” Rhys said. “Something about getting a Chinese. Have I ever said how much I like your dad?”
“That place you like doesn’t stop delivering for hours,” Gwen pointed out, walking her fingers up his shirt buttons, “and I think you almost definitely cheated on that bet in the first place. Best two out of three?”