Pairing: Owen/Ianto (with hints of Owen/Gwen and now: Jack/Ianto)
Genre: Slash (het)
Sequel to: Here and There and Nowhere AND Somewhere
Summary: Absolutely everything implodes.
Author’s Notes: This was way too much fun to write. I think I’m getting further and further away from the beautiful realm of In Character, but I no longer care. Woo!
“Are you sleeping with Jack?” Owen demands, Thursday afternoon. Ianto carefully lays down the colour-coded stickers he’s using to cross-reference the archives and looks up.
“No, Owen,” he says, with a patronising smile, “I’m filing. Do try to keep up.”
“Funny,” Owen snaps back, sitting down and distractedly picking up all the files Ianto is attempting to work with, getting them immediately in the wrong order. He hears soft tutting from the Welshman, and pretends he isn’t listening. “You know what I mean.”
“No, I’m not sleeping with Jack,” Ianto replies steadily.
“Have you?” Owen persists. Ianto’s smirk broadens.
“Well, that’s a different question, isn’t it,” he says slowly. “And Owen, I wouldn’t worry either way; you’re still the official slut of Torchwood.”
Owen rolls his eyes.
“Is that a ‘yes’?”
Ianto sighs, but there’s a smirk twitching at the corner of his mouth.
“I need that file there,” he says, pointing to one of the manila folders in Owen’s hand.
“You need to get something else in your life besides filing, mate,” Owen tells him as he hands over the file.
“I did have,” Ianto says, darkly significant, and for a moment Owen wonders if Ianto means him. “But you all shot her; remember?”
“Don’t go there,” Owen says, a warning in his tone. “You had to know that bringing a Cyberman into the Hub wasn’t going to end well.”
Ianto pulls the folder tiredly from Owen’s grip, opening it and sticking red tabs onto two of the pages inside. His face is blank and bland again, and it’s clear from his posture that he doesn’t want to talk any longer. Owen lets the remaining files in his hand slip out of his grip and fall messily back onto the table. He walks away without saying another word, wondering why exactly it is that he can’t ever seem to have a conversation with Ianto that ends in anything but an awkward silence.
“Owen was asking questions earlier,” Ianto says, laying a large mug of coffee beside Jack, taking care to avoid the mountains of paperwork stacked precariously all over Jack’s desk.
“I know,” Jack replies, not taking his eyes off his computer monitor, where he’s got the live feed up from close to Tosh’s workstation. She and Gwen seem to be giggling over something, although Ianto wouldn’t be able to hazard a guess as to what.
“Sir,” he begins carefully, “Do you actually do anything but watch us all on the security cameras?”
“Well,” Jack says, “Sometimes I fight with the Prime Minister.”
“It’s distinctly unsettling, sir,” he says, stepping back and sliding his hands into his pockets, awkward stance, mirroring the one Jack usually has.
“Ah.” Jack sounds disinterested (and probably is), clicking the mouse to switch a camera view. “Well, I’ve got to make sure you’re all working, and behaving yourselves.” A wolfish smile spreads across his face. “Which none of you are.”
“There really must be something more productive you can do with your time,” Ianto tells him. “Bickering, brooding and stalking are not the most healthy of pastimes.”
Jack ignores him.
“So what did you tell him?” he enquires, picking up the coffee mug and taking a mouthful.
“Nothing,” Ianto replies shortly.
“You really should stop tormenting Owen,” Jack says, smirk pulling at his lips.
“Sir,” Ianto begins reasonably, “I make my living serving hot drinks and binning crisp packets. I have to get my kicks somewhere.”
Something about this whole sorry thing matters to Owen. Ianto is not entirely sure what it is that keeps the man persisting but there is definitely something. It shouldn’t matter, but it does. Ianto is tidying up after a particularly trying day where there seems to be twice as much debris as normal, when he hears footsteps behind him too light to be Jack’s but too heavy to be Tosh or Gwen’s. He’d assumed that everyone had gone home, but then Owen always does seem to have this ability to show up when Ianto isn’t expecting him.
“Jack is watching every single move we make,” Ianto says steadily, bending to pick up a pile of useless papers beside Tosh’s workstation.
“I don’t care if you don’t,” Owen replies, almost flirtatious in his tone, but Ianto refuses to turn around.
“Doesn’t surprise me,” he says, “You always struck me as an exhibitionist.”
Owen laughs; a short, sharp, ugly sound.
“Tell me what exactly it is that you want from me, Ianto,” he says.
“I don’t know,” Ianto replies truthfully, and quietly.
“Not good enough,” Owen snaps back, fast and almost ready for Ianto’s non-committal response. Ianto finally turns to look at him.
“I. Don’t. Know.” He spits the words between his teeth, making sure that there is no space for Owen to misinterpret them. “Do you actually know?”
Owen is silent for a moment, frowning, and then he sighs, and the words spill out of his mouth.
“I want more than I’m getting from you right now. I want more than snide remarks and spat-in coffee, unless you’ve moved on to pissing in it now, which I wouldn’t actually put past you. I want eye contact, I want halfway decent conversations, and I want to fuck you, all right?”
“Yes, because we’re going to wind up with the kind of relationship where we can talk to each other, where I can tell you exactly why I moved Lisa in here even though I knew she would probably wind up killing us all, and perhaps you can tell me who it was that broke your heart so badly that you run away from anything that looks like it could turn into some kind of affection.”
Owen is glaring at him, but Ianto doesn’t care.
“You have to make everything so fucking difficult, don’t you?” he snarls.
Ianto reflects, in a detached sort of fashion, that they’re both about five minutes from losing it completely.
“I’m sorry that Gwen doesn’t like you very much at the moment,” he says, trying to keep his tone rational, aware that his voice is shaking.
“Don’t bring her into this,” Owen snaps. Ianto ignores him.
“But really, there are much easier avenues to pursue than coming here and shouting at me until I give in and fuck you,” Ianto continues, digging the nails of his right hand into his thigh to keep from screaming, “As I understand it, you have an excellent success rate with women wearing skirts shorter than eight inches.”
Owen is staring at him.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?” he demands, all pretence that he isn’t angry stripped away.
“The last person I fell in love with became half-machine and then tried to kill me,” Ianto replies matter-of-factly, “And then she was brutally murdered by my work colleagues. Excuse me for not wanting to jump into any sort of a relationship with someone right away.”
“For God’s sake,” Owen snarls, “Casual sex never did anyone any harm.”
“Owen,” Ianto begins, “If all that you wanted was a informal handjob in the men’s bathrooms then you wouldn’t be standing here right now attempting to have this conversation.”
He’s got Owen there- and they both know it. The doctor draws a sharp breath in through his teeth, and actually seems to be struck momentarily speechless. Ianto refuses to feel guilty; Owen has got him confused enough as it is. So he turns away to the piles of bits of paper and chocolate wrappers that have been left inconsiderately about by Team Torchwood, who are of course far too busy to use things like wastepaper baskets. He keeps working without turning around, but it’s a good five minutes before he hears Owen walk away.
When Ianto is certain that he’s alone, he finally looks up at the boardroom. Jack is standing and watching him through the glass, and Ianto feels faintly awkward, because for the first time there isn’t the faintest hint of amusement on his face.
Owen slept badly and Gwen spent most of the night wandering about making tea. She can’t stand him now, so quite why she’s still sleeping on his sofa (and having soul-destroying sex with him) is sort of a mystery to Owen. Still, he’s never understood women. She’s been investigating flats to let in the local area, however, so with any luck she’ll be gone soon. He almost would feel bad about all this, if he could be bothered; he started out with such… well, not good, but at least not bad intentions. Still, Gwen fucked up her relationship with Rhys all by herself, so Owen refuses to feel bad for her. Seriously. And if she still wants something from him, then who is he to deny her? Win-win all round and all that.
He’s yawning about at his workstation the next morning, watching Tosh run a translation program through bleary eyes. Gwen is almost too perky, dashing about and calling estate agents on Torchwood’s phonebill. Jack is nowhere to be seen.
“Coffee,” Ianto announces quietly and too close to his ear, and Owen flinches back. Ianto has nothing else to say, however, as he moves on to deliver drinks to Gwen and Tosh too. Owen studies his drink suspiciously. Given how angry Ianto has got to be with him, he wouldn’t be surprised to find any amount of substances in his mug.
“I haven’t spat in it, you know,” Ianto tells him, coming back over. “I also haven’t pissed in it, or added any of my other bodily fluids. So you can drink that coffee, or you can make your own.”
Owen doesn’t really relish either prospect. He’s got a headache this morning, and the unreadable expression on Ianto’s face isn’t improving matters any. He’s got all sort of things that he wants to say, but he’s not entirely sure what they are or how he’d articulate them.
They’re both distracted as Tosh jumps up excitedly, her translation program apparently working, and runs upstairs to tell Jack that she knows what their latest artefact is for. Gwen is on the phone to yet another estate agent, but it seems that she’s actually getting somewhere now.
Ianto sighs, and reaches to take away Owen’s coffee, with a mutter of well, if you’re not going to drink it… Owen reaches to snatch his mug back, and their hands collide. And linger. However angry he may be with him, and however confused they both are, Owen knows that Ianto wants him. Knows that right now Ianto is thinking about Owen’s hands on his skin, mouths crushed together. He closes his eyes momentarily, swallows.
The mug has fallen over, coffee is seeping into Owen’s papers, Gwen has finished her phonecall and is staring at the two of them with something resembling horror, Owen knows that he should snatch his hand away from Ianto’s before this gets complicated, and he doesn’t.
Ianto sits in the briefing room where it’s mercifully quiet and holds an icepack against his bleeding mouth. Jack is laughing but then the man has a thing for melodrama.
“You are very possibly the root of all evil, sir,” Ianto suggests blandly, taking the icepack away and grimacing at the blood he’s getting on the teatowel wrapped around it. Blood is a bitch to get out.
“Owen hit you. That has absolutely nothing to do with me,” Jack points out, eyes widened with what could be innocence but Ianto knows better than to assume it is.
“Somewhere along the line, sir,” Ianto says, “Everything turns out to be your fault.”
He delicately spits a mouthful of blood into an empty mug on the table, and gingerly runs his tongue over his teeth. None of them seem to be loose or anything, which is a relief.
Jack doesn’t dispute the accusation, and instead eases himself to his feet to peer through the glass down below. Gwen and Tosh both seem to be shouting at Owen. Neither Jack nor Ianto can hear the words, which Ianto is privately grateful for. Quite why Tosh is so angry is unclear to him, but hopefully he’ll never find out.
“Owen looks cornered,” he says, clearly relishing the words. “Do you think Gwen will slap him again?”
“To be honest, I don’t care,” Ianto replies. “I’m going to wait for my mouth to stop bleeding, and then I am going home.”
“Let me see.”
Ianto reluctantly pulls the teatowel from his mouth. Jack squints at his split lip.
“You’ll live,” he tells him. “Want me to kiss it better?”
“No,” Ianto sighs, wondering if he’s ever going to stop tasting blood, “But thank you for offering.”
Jack gives him an over-exaggerated wink of the kind he’s forever giving him (they flirt more for the hell of it than for anything else) and turns back to watching the argument unfold below. It’s not like it hasn’t been coming for weeks. Ianto replaces the icepack against his lip, enjoying the cold against the hot throbbing of pain. He doesn’t blame Owen exactly. They were, after all, practically holding hands and staring into each other’s eyes in a way that was deeply, deeply unsettling, and when Gwen started shrieking, it was only natural that Owen would react instinctively and punch Ianto.
Still, the damage has been done, Ianto thinks. He may be bleeding profusely from the mouth, but Gwen knows everything now. And has taken it rather badly, if truth be told. She’s still shrieking away down there, in both English and Welsh, although Ianto could tell her that Owen doesn’t actually speak Welsh and is therefore missing the point of most of the invectives. He could also offer to step in and be an interpreter, but then Gwen might hit him and he’s in enough pain as it is. Quite why Tosh has got herself involved is still a mystery to Ianto, but then there really is nothing better to do around here.
“I want to go home,” Ianto says steadily.
“So go,” Jack replies without turning around. “I’ve got quite enough entertainment to keep me occupied for the rest of the afternoon.”
Ianto thinks about saying something else, but instead he just lays the icepack down on the table and goes to find his coat.
Gwen is in the process of explaining that he is the worst weasely kind of maggot ever and he should be strung up by his cock and spat at by small children for his deceit, blah, blah, blah, and Owen feels half compelled to point out to her that firstly, she isn’t the innocent one here, she was cheating on Rhys ages ago, secondly, he never actually two-timed her with Ianto, and thirdly, none of this is her business. He just about manages not to roll his eyes because that would only make Gwen angrier and he’s getting rather bored of being yelled at, and he has no idea why Tosh is shouting at him, except that she seems to be taking Gwen’s side in all this. It’s fucking madness.
They all shut up at the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. Ianto’s mouth is swollen and split, and Owen grimaces. He did that. He’s not entirely sure that Ianto didn’t deserve it, but that isn’t the point. He wants to have hit Ianto over a good reason, not just because their gazes met for too long and he was aware that everyone else was slotting two and two into place. Owen looks at the bloody bruising on Ianto’s lips and just wants to kiss him (and begins to reflect that perhaps he is totally insane). But he catches Ianto’s arm as he walks past.
“Touch me again and I’ll break your fingers,” Ianto says in a dangerous undertone that sounds nothing like his normal voice. Owen pulls back like he’s been burnt, and the homicidal look snaps off Ianto’s face. “Bye, all of you. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Gwen opens her mouth.
“I really wouldn’t,” Ianto advises her.
And he sweeps out. Owen glances over his shoulder, at Jack, who is watching them from the briefing room with a smirk on his face, and at Gwen and Tosh, who are momentarily struck silent. In the second before the screaming starts again, he reflects that, if nothing else, Ianto really does have style.