Title: Moving Forward
Summary: Rhys finds a way to give Gwen something tangible to remember her absent friends and find the courage to start moving forward again.
Warnings: Reference to canon character deaths.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood or any of the characters associated with the television series. This story has simply been written for fun, and no money has been or ever will be received for it.
Spoilers: For all Torchwood, up to and including Children of Earth.
Word Count: 1,080
Beta: Thank you to thesteppyone for the beta/britpick. Any remaining errors are my own.
Author's Notes: This story has been written for Challenge #10 at the redisourcolor community on Livejournal. A bunny bit me quite hard upon seeing this challenge, and I hope that you enjoy it:)
It had been three days.
Three days since Jack Bloody Harkness had decided that it wasn't enough for him to bugger off on a road trip to nowhere. Three days since he'd hitched a ride off the entire bloody planet rather than help rebuild Torchwood with the only member of his team that he had left. Three days since the light had gone out of Gwen's eyes. Three miserable nights where Rhys could do nothing except hold Gwen close while she cried herself to sleep.
"There's nothing left, Rhys," Gwen whispered to him in the dark.
Rhys murmured as he tightened his arms around her, "I know it hurts, love. But I'm still here. I've got you."
"I know," Gwen replied. "I'm grateful for that but you're not Torchwood, Rhys, and especially with the baby coming, it's important that you stay that way."
Tears trickled down her face as she continued. "I'm the only one left and I don't have a clue where I should start. It was hard enough losing Tosh, and Owen, but now Ianto is dead and Jack has gone where I can't reach him. It feels like they've all been wiped away-- almost as if they never even existed. The Hub is gone and there's nothing left--no photos, no trinkets to remember any of them by, just me."
Gwen was sobbing whole-heartedly now and she buried her face into Rhys's shoulder as she cried. "The world still needs Torchwood, but I don't know how to do this alone, and I miss them, Rhys. I miss them all so much!"
Rhys was awake for a long time that night after Gwen had finally settled into slumber. It was obvious that he needed to do something; that he needed to find a way to help Gwen to get through the loss of her colleagues so that she could begin to move forward again. The trouble was he had no idea how to go about it. Gwen was right…he wasn't Torchwood. He was simply an ordinary man who, during the occasional emergency, had become involved in extraordinary circumstances.
Gwen shifted in her sleep and Rhys gently brushed away a lock of hair that had fallen over her face. Then he closed his eyes and decided that being ordinary didn't matter. Tomorrow, for her, he would figure out a way.
He was stopped at a traffic light, en route to work the next morning when the answer suddenly became clear to him. Delighted with his revelation, he hurried the rest of the way to Harwood's Haulage and rushed to his computer. His idea required a bit of research, but Rhys was determined to get this right.
Several hours later, Rhys had finished his research, ordered his selections, and with a grin told Ruth that he was leaving for the day. He drove to the several stores he needed to pick up his purchases, and then hurried home with them to surprise Gwen.
When he returned home he found an empty flat. Gwen must have stepped out, obviously not expecting him to be home at this hour. Smiling, he quickly moved everything inside, and sat down on the sofa to wait for her to return home.
He didn't have to wait long.
A few minutes later, Gwen walked through the door with a Tesco's shopping bag. Her eyes went wide as she discovered the variety of potted plants that filled the room. She set down her bag, walked over to Rhys, and asked in stunned surprise, "What is all of this?"
Rhys rose to his feet and took her hands in his.
"I was thinking about what you said last night," he began quietly. "About missing your friends and feeling like there's nothing left of them with all the destruction. I wanted to try to give you something back, something tangible to help you remember them. Then I remembered what the florist for our wedding was saying about the meaning of flowers and I did some research."
He led her over to a pot of brightly coloured yellow flowers with short fat petals and explained, "These are Zinnia's. They represent thoughts of absent friends, but the yellow ones specifically mean, daily remembrance."
He moved on to the next pot which held beautiful purple orchids. "Orchids represent rare and delicate beauty, love, and strength."
Gwen ran her fingers gently over the leaves of the orchid and gasped in sudden understanding what Rhys was trying to give her. "Tosh," she said quietly looking into Rhys's eyes. "This is for Tosh."
Rhys nodded, swallowing hard as he moved onto the next plant. "These are Yarrow. They are difficult to maintain and have a relatively short life span, although they can be prolonged with proper care. They represent healing and sorrow."
"Owen," Gwen whispered, with tears beginning to well up inside her beautiful brown eyes.
Again, Rhys nodded and this time Gwen moved them over to the next plant. "What's this one?"
"Gladiolus," he answered. "Their meaning reminded me of Ianto. They represent strength of character, sincerity, admiration, and remembrance."
Gwen took a deep breath and let it out slowly as she nodded her agreement.
"The Cypress flowers are for Jack," Rhys said softly, resulting in a shocked look from Gwen.
"I know he's not dead," he explained. "But he was important to you, and you lost him in a way that you never expected. Cypress flowers are associated with death, melancholy, mourning, and immortality."
"And the roses," Gwen asked, her voice breaking with emotion. "What are the roses for?"
Tears were running freely down Gwen's face now and Rhys lifted his hands to her face to gently wipe them away as he answered, "The roses are for us. Red roses are for passion, respect, courage, prosperity, beauty, and because I love you."
Then Gwen threw her arms around his neck and as she kissed him, Rhys felt for the first time in four miserable days that things were going to be okay.
"Thank you," she whispered. "Thank you so much."
She kissed him again--softly, sweetly, then took his hand and led him back to sit with her on the sofa. He held her in his arms, grateful that he had found a way to help her. It wasn't over. Gwen still had to figure out a way to rebuild Torchwood, but they had finally found their way out of the dark. Now they could begin to start moving forward again, together.