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Story Notes:
So I don't usually write Gwen much, except in a supporting role to typically Jack/Ianto based stories but one line of this popped into my head and I just went with it... And yes, it's Immortal!Ianto. And no I haven't explained how or why, let's just go with it :). Thanks to fififolle for the beta... and her blethering - any remaining mistakes are my own.
One: Everything Changes.

It was a lesson she rightly should have learned a long time ago and maybe even had, but she'd forgotten it somewhere along the way.

Torchwood taught her.

It reminded her in sharp, painful ways that screwed with her head - the cannibals still gave her nightmares - and made her do things she'll look back on with shame - Owen, Rhys, even Jack, despite the fact that nothing ever actually happened there - for as long as she lives.


Two: Everyone Dies.

Another one she should already have known, that she knows she did know, but she conveniently forgot, or ignored, because it was easier that way.

Torchwood taught her.

Suzie. Lisa. Mary. Suzie again. Eugene. Rhys - she thanked God every day she'd got him back. Tommy. Owen. Tosh. Owen again. And Jack countless times in the middle. Sometimes she thinks it's easier that Torchwood doesn't bury their dead, all the black suits she'd have to buy, which is a cold hearted thought in retrospect.


Three: Sometimes, You Have to Stop Caring.

She hated it. Passionately. The lesson that came with that knowledge. That sometimes caring will break you and so you have to stop caring or stop functioning, and the second option was never really an option at all.

Torchwood taught her.

It could have been any number of things that did it, but in the end she knows it was a scared, scarred fifteen year-old boy in the body of a man three times his age and less than half his understanding of the world. It was the screaming that rang in her ears for days afterwards.


Four: Everyone Is Out For Themselves.

That might be just a little unfair. There are people, good, honest people like Rhys and like she tries to be, but it's so rarely she meets them now, that she's not sure she even really believes in them as anything more than fairy tales.

Torchwood taught her.

John Hart was a slimeball. A scumbag of proportions Gwen couldn't put into words. For a long time, she'd like to believe he was the exception to the rule, that just because he was an arse, didn't people like them, like Rhys and Jack and Ianto, prove that people were good and noble? The 456 blew that fantasy to hell right along with the hub.


Five: They Lied. Time Doesn't Heal All Wounds.

Her Mam and Dad had said it when she was growing up, when she'd had her heart broken by a boy and when her Granddad died. All the cheesy romantic movies - where boy, or girl, tragically loses a loved one and finds love again - said it. It was the thing people said. When you were sad, or heart broken. 'Time heals all wounds, Gwennie... trust your old Dad'.

Torchwood taught her.

Jack still hurts from a lifetime of losing, or being forced to leave, people he loved. From being abandoned by the Doctor. From 2000 years in the ground. Ianto still hurts from Lisa. From the horrors of Torchwood Tower that Gwen can't ever comprehend no matter how often she reads the reports. They all still hurt from Tosh and Owen. From other losses. Other disappointments. Time doesn't heal all wounds. It doesn't even scab half of them over. It just hides them under other wounds and sometimes that's actually good enough.


One: Love Can Last Forever.

Of course Gwen's concept of 'forever' has always only been around a hundred years at most. Humans - at least not 21st century humans - don't live to be several hundred years old, let alone several thousand.

Torchwood taught her.

They're different. It's not just the way they look, although Jack has a definite smattering of grey in his hair and deeper crow's feet. Gwen is pleased; because she feels sure they are more from laughter than tears. Ianto is a little... she hesitates to think fitter, because he was always fit, but he's bulked up a little and it's clearly all muscle. Enough to make him look more gorgeous, without being over the top, she thinks.

"Hello, Mrs. Williams," Jack greets with a hug and Ianto repeats it a second later, squeezing her hard like he hasn't seen her in...

"How long has it been?" she asks.

"Oh, I don't know, a while... a couple of thousand years maybe? Ianto keeps better track than me."

"Two thousand, four hundred and seventy-six years. More or less," the Welshman answers. And he still has his accent, although it's softer now.

"God!" Gwen said. That amount of time... she knows Jack wasn't much younger, technically, than that even last time, but it still seems inconceivable.

"We meant to come back sooner but... we've been busy," Ianto is apologetic.

"Well, Ianto has been, going off, saving the universe. I've just been watching his six," Jack grinned.

"Watching is the right word," Ianto said, rolling his eyes. "When he hasn't been haring off with the Doctor, or running dangerous military missions into hostile space."

There were clearly stories there if the looks they were sharing were anything to go by, but she'd get them another day.

"Well, you're just in time," she said, rubbing her swollen belly. "Because this little one is due any day and the hub's only half way rebuilt. Not to mention I've had your sister on the phone once a week every week..."

"Well then, it's a good job we dropped by," Ianto said. "How Rhys?"

"He's wonderful," Gwen answered, looping an arm through Ianto's and then Jack's on the other side as they walked. And she smiled. Smiled bright and happy and felt lighter and happier than she could ever remember feeling because they'd had nearly twenty-five hundred years and they were still so... them.

And that gave her perhaps the most important lesson Torchwood had ever given her... there is always hope.


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