Need (Illegitimate) - author's notes - a.k.a. runelore and thoughts on the second season
Being a baaaaaby magician with a particular fondness for runes, I simply had to sign up for the challenge on the esteemed LJ community dwliterotica in June, 2006, in which participants were randomly (I think) assigned a rune by the mods, and then had to go write on it. I was assigned Nauthiz, meaning Need, promptly went off and read about it in all my books, and just as promptly got flailed at by my Gwen-muse of the time.
(The beginning and ending quotes are, of course, from the old Norwegian rune-rhyme--an alphabet song for myth geeks. Same thing, first in Old Norse, then in English. Translations vary widely; I edited together one I liked poetically, as I do not know the language well enough to check for accuracy.)
Nauthiz brings with it a whole subtext which I simply wasn't able to make overt in the fic, so it's relegated to notes: it means, on the surface, need, the pinch of fate, and is one of the most negative corners of the futhark. But the word also refers to a bowdrill, the making of what they call "needfire." The friction of the world, the pain, your needs and how you go about addressing them, can kindle fire, a rising core of strength, deep within.
The rune was also indicated, on the surface, to be associated with the myth of Frey and Gerd, which I did overtly reference in the fic: Frey, all fire and warmth and fertility, melting the heart of Gerd, the frozen maiden. I ran the cold all through this piece: Gwen, very lost, under tremendous friction, hoping Jack will come back from wherever he's gone and be her Frey. But, of course, the real sad bit is that she's missing the point, not understanding how--or simply failing--to kindle her own needfire, thaw herself out, no Jack needed.
Of course, this was written before the second season started airing. Gwen, as of this new canon, is a lot smarter and saner than I'd given her credit for at first (but without sliding into Sueville), so it's a little hard for me to reconcile the general tone of this thing. (I had collated a characterization of first-season Gwen that I liked--and I really did like her, for all that this was the first season--by making her extremely fucked up, playing on her behavior towards Rhys and the parallels in ep. 8 and writing her almost as a baaaaaby Suzie.) Not retconning this, of course; it was written for a contest, and was later (to my considerable squee) honored with publication in Lost Luggage and Lost Souls, so it's staying as it is. A particularly bad few days while Jack was gone, perhaps; perhaps, after this particular bit of her life ends, Gwen does kindle her fire and pull herself together.
As for the men--even given second-season canon, I don't think it's one hundred percent unlikely that Gwen would've had a drunken fling with Ianto, under these circumstances. We're still lacking satisfactory explanation of where and why her monkeying about with Owen ended; I am perhaps writing Rhys as more of a lunk than he deserves, given his massive quantities of win in recent episodes.
Tosh is Tosh, though I'm writing her more Aspergersy than second season indicates; they've been taking her in a different direction. And Jack is absent. This is still very much a first-season Torchwood fic; whatever transformations they went through, off-camera and without Jack, haven't happened yet.
So. Extra-screwy Gwen, prone to flailing. Go read the fic, if you haven't already.