Pairing: Owen/Ianto (Gwen/Owen implied)
Genre: Slash (het implied)
Sequel to: Here and There and Nowhere (I’m so fucking creative when it comes to titles)
Summary:Torchwood has a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ kind of policy, which has proven itself on several occasions to be unsettlingly impractical.
Author’s Notes: Love to justian for reading this through for me and being very comforting about my insecurities and sudden shrieks of: “but this is not actually in character!”
Torchwood has a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ kind of policy, which has proven itself on several occasions to be unsettlingly impractical. Suzie, for example. Had someone actually asked her what she was doing with that glove at all hours of the day and night, then perhaps she’d be alive today. If someone had asked Ianto a few questions along the lines of and where do you disappear to all the time? then maybe Lisa wouldn’t have infiltrated the base and maybe things would have worked out differently. But instead, they all have to keep their mouths shut and watch the world fuck up around them.
If any of them liked or cared enough about each other to ask questions, someone would know if Gwen and Owen were still sleeping together. There’s a dearth of pornographic CCTV footage, but Ianto knows that that doesn’t necessarily mean that nothing is happening. Tosh has no psychotic necklace (or psychic- same difference) this time, Jack’s little smiles could mean fucking anything, and Ianto can’t figure it out just from watching. They’re hiding well, this time. If it’s even happening. The painfully obvious absences are no longer a regular occurrence, and Ianto can no longer smell Owen’s aftershave on Gwen’s skin, in her hair, as he brings her beverages and paperwork.
But because afternoons become increasingly long and cold, and Ianto is angry in a way so obscure that he’s not entirely sure what he’s angry at, he begins the slightest form of sabotage. In their coffee. It’s simple really. He brews Gwen and Owen’s coffee slightly too strong, or slightly too weak, with just the wrong number of beans. He’ll add the tiniest bit of sugar to Owen’s, even though he knows that the man doesn’t like sweetening of any kind, or one teaspoon of milk too much to Gwen’s. Not enough to make the coffee undrinkable, but just different enough for them to dislike it. But to say Ianto, you’ve messed up my coffee would be madness (it’s common knowledge that Ianto is the King of Coffee, and for him to mess it up would be sacrilege), so the two of them suffer in silence. It’s petty and it’s pointless, but Ianto has little to do with his time now he no longer has a girlfriend on life-support in their basement.
“What do you reckon?” Jack asks him one afternoon, as Ianto brings him the latest readouts from their satellite. It looks suspiciously as though an Arkanyan cruiser is due to pass by somewhere around tomorrow, and so Tosh’ll have to get the cover story ready.
“Sir?” Ianto says flatly, unreadable as ever.
“Owen and Gwen. Are they or aren’t they?”
“You would know,” Ianto replies, voice not giving anything away, not one crack.
“Would have thought you’d be the one,” Jack replies easily, setting his feet up on the desk. Ianto just about manages not to wince, and forces himself to remember that this poor, poor desk has had much worse things happen to it than Jack just smearing dirt over its surface. “You seem to know everything around here. Number of secrets you’re keeping for everyone.”
“It’s part of my job,” Ianto replies quietly. It isn’t, but it might as well be. It’s more than his life’s worth to spill the beans on his teammates.
(Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t try and find out my secrets, don’t get angry when I find out yours, don’t open your mouth, don’t put that much sugar in my coffee, don’t leave Weevils in the SUV, don’t forget to feed Myfanwy, don’t tell anyone what you do here, don’t ask me why I do the things I do, don’t look me up in the archives, and if you do, don’t expect to find any relevant information there, don’t question this, don’t do anything but expect the worst, don’t get attached, don’t get involved, don’t touch me, don’t expect me to like you, don’t ask me questions, don’t sulk when all I give you in return are lies, don’t touch The Hand, don’t mention Suzie, or Lisa, or Rhys for that matter, don’t have a life outside this cold underground base, don’t for one second think that you’ll escape, don’t sleep with your teammates- it won’t end well, don’t let them see that you’re hurting, don’t even think that maybe there’s something more, something beyond this.
Ianto’s life is just made up of don’ts, and it’s getting more than a little depressing.)
“I think it’s likely,” he says eventually, straight-faced and emotionless. “Owen and Gwen, I mean. They have… a chemistry.”
Jack is looking at him with a grin tugging the corners of his mouth.
“You should play poker, Ianto,” is all he will say. Ianto, for his part, refuses to dignify that with a response.
But three days later, he catches it. The inevitable slip-up. Owen is showing Gwen something in his lab, on his computer, leaning over her shoulder to point something out. He’s leaning in a little too close, but then in a place like this no one pays attention to things like personal space, and boundaries, so it’s not entirely unusual. But Gwen’s eyelids momentarily flutter closed, and her breath hitches. It’s so slight and so quick that no one else would pick up on it. Ianto does.
He calmly makes his way upstairs to make them all coffee, because Jack has been whining that there’s blood in his caffeine system and this must be rectified as soon as possible (“I’m dying, Ianto, I’m dying, I must have coffee now!” “Sir, I find that highly unlikely to believe.” “You have a heart of stone, Ianto. Catch me coming anywhere near you next time I’m actually dying.” “I told you that I’d watch you suffer and die, sir, you can’t say I didn’t give you ample warning.” There’s a pause. “Good point. Anyway. Whatever. Get me coffee.”). He carefully brews it in his cafetiére, pouring the liquid into cups at regular intervals. Gwen’s is the weakest, then Tosh’s, then Owen’s. Ianto leaves Jack’s to stew for a little longer as he adds sugar to Tosh’s, and milk to Gwen’s. He pours Jack’s out, black and dark, and then considers Owen’s for a moment. Even though it is sacrilege, deeply wrong, and it’s almost physically painful for him to do it, Ianto neatly gobs a mouthful of spit into Owen’s pale blue mug, wipes his hand across his mouth, stirs the drink once, piles everything on a tray and goes downstairs.
A fortnight passes and Ianto won’t look him in the eye. He’s polite, wishes Owen goodnight every evening as he walks out, brings him coffee and food and folders and whatever else Owen demands without thanks. He’ll have conversations with him, calm and steady, but he won’t look him in the eye. It’s subtle, but not unnoticeable. And it’s getting Owen’s back up. Step by step, inch by inch, his irritation is increasing.
Gwen shrieks and begs and she’s perfect, really, acres of soft skin and unbelievable tits and she can do this thing with her mouth that just about makes him die. She sleeps in his bed and wakes him up in the mornings, wandering about in his shirt making tea. He picks her long, dark hair off the pillow when he’s alone, smells her perfume on his soul. And that gap between her teeth is sexier than anything has a right to be. But he’ll never tell her he loves her, and eventually, he knows, she’ll realise this, and crumple like paper. She used to have Rhys to love her, and Owen to fuck her. The perfect little ménage a trois. Rhys is, however, absent from their… their thing, and it’s only going to be a matter of time before this stops working.
Owen is working late because they’ve unearthed a headless, half-decomposed corpse, and it’s his job to work out just why it’s headless. Jack is hanging around looking worried and keeps coming in to check on him, and Tosh and Gwen have gone home. Ianto brings him a mug of coffee, carefully setting it down on one of the sidetables, well away from the distinctly mushy corpse on the autopsy table. Owen snaps off the latex gloves he’s been wearing and comes over to take a drink. The thick, strong taste just about manages to jerk Owen awake. Ianto is already making his way up the stairs again.
“Wait,” Owen says. Ianto obediently turns back, walking down into the lab again.
“Mate, you really need to find something to say other than ‘can I help you with something?’” Owen says tiredly, taking another sip of coffee. Ianto stands motionless and expressionless, a breathing cardboard cutout. It’s irritating, to say the least. Owen searches for something to say. “Have you spat in this?” he enquires, indicating the coffee.
“Yes,” Ianto replies calmly. “And in every cup you’ve drunk this week.”
Owen pauses with the mug halfway to his lips, then shrugs and takes a mouthful. It doesn’t taste any different.
“You don’t get to be pissed off with me,” he says steadily. Ianto says nothing, doesn’t react. It’s driving Owen up the wall. “I haven’t done anything wrong.” As such.
Ianto looks faintly like he’d like to argue but he keeps his mouth shut. Owen is getting angry, and unable to stop himself. He knows, he has seen, what Ianto is like under this cold exterior, and part of Owen misses that aspect of the Welshman. But, right now, he doesn’t know what he wants.
“Owen,” Ianto says slowly, meeting his eyes finally, “If there’s nothing I can help you with, and nothing I can do for you, then I think I had better be going.”
Owen catches his wrist before he can stop himself. Ianto doesn’t try and pull away.
“Oh, just go and fuck Jack,” he mutters, “If you’re that desperate. Then you’ll have collected the entire team, right?”
Anger and frustration take over and Owen’s mug smashes on the floor, as he backs Ianto into the wall, catching his other wrist and pinning both arms against the brickwork.
“Tell me that you don’t want this,” he hisses, pressing hard against the length of Ianto’s body.
“Tell me that you do,” Ianto replies through his teeth. And Owen is caught off-guard. He thinks about Gwen lying back on his bed, dark hair framed against the duvet, scars just above her hip barely healed from when she got shot, mouth meeting his, moaning helplessly. And then he thinks of Ianto, suit and armour stripped off, laughing against Owen’s chest as though he’s won something that he’ll never, never tell him. He pauses a fraction of a second too long.
“Told you,” Ianto mumbles, trying to push Owen away. “You want Gwen, and I’m still in love with Li-”
Owen is barely aware of anything but his need to shut Ianto up, to stop himself from acknowledging that maybe he does want this, and maybe he doesn’t. So he kisses him, deep and hard, and Ianto shoves at his chest, refusing to cooperate for a moment, before giving in, head thunking back against the brickwork, hands fisting in the back of Owen’s t-shirt. Owen has no idea what he’s doing or why, so it’s almost a relief when he hears Jack’s heavy footfalls coming to the top of the stairs.
“Are you two shagging or fighting?” Jack enquires with way too much curiosity in his voice. “The CCTV footage is a little hazy on the fine details.”
“Stop bloody watching us!” Owen shouts up. “It’s sick!”
“I can’t have you strangling my secretary,” Jack replies calmly, “It takes forever to train new ones.”
“I’m fine, sir,” Ianto tells Jack, his hands slowly uncurling from the back of Owen’s shirt.
“Good. I need some coffee,” Jack informs them. “So, whenever you’ve finished whatever it is that you’re doing, Ianto, I want caffeine, and Owen, there is a dead body on that table that needs you to identify its killer.”
Ianto kisses Owen so briefly it’s barely a kiss, and pushes past him, straightening his tie as he walks.
“I’ll get on with that right now, sir,” he says, walking up the stairs and disappearing from view. Jack leans over the railing to get a good look at Owen.
“Do you want me to erase all the footage from your lab, or do you want me to leave it lying around conveniently for Gwen to find?” he asks seriously. Owen has no idea, and says so. “Well, Gwen won’t stand being second and Ianto barely wants to get involved with you,” Jack adds unhelpfully, “So I guess there isn’t that much of a decision to make.” He makes a vague hand gesture in the direction of Owen’s groin. “And I’d sit down and think of your grandmother until that subsides a little.”
“You are so-” Owen begins, but Jack just walks away, laughing.
One: Other than me getting Jack involved, which I promise will happen sometime, what do you guys want to happen next? I’m not promising to listen to you, but I’m getting faintly stuck, so some suggestions might be helpful. :)
Two: Random Torchwood observation that will get me smacked by fangirls, but what the hell. I’ve got nowhere else to put it.
I know that the stopwatch is a symbol of Jack and Ianto and their fluffy, practically canon love, but in that awesomely Suzie ep, this happens:
Owen: Give Ianto a stopwatch, and he’s happy.
Ianto: It’s the button on the top. *gives Owen significant smirk*
No, seriously. If you’ve got a copy, rewatch. While I love Jack/Ianto very very much, I am going to put that down as a Owen/Ianto moment. And now I may have to do Owen/Ianto stopwatchness. Also, the wicked little smirk implies that this Ianto of mine isn’t quite as non-canon as I thought he was. Ahem. Anyway. Go back to your lives now.