Lady Paperclip (paperclipbitch) wrote,
Lady Paperclip
paperclipbitch

I finally got John Barrowman's christmas singing thingy out of the internet! *happy noise*

Title: Below
Fandom: Torchwood
Pairing: Owen/Ianto (with hints of Owen/Gwen and Jack/Ianto)
Rating: PG-15
Genre: Slash (het)
Sequel to: Here and There and Nowhere and Somewhere AND Above
Summary: Ianto gets his own back in more ways than one, and then finally figures a few things out a little too late.
Author’s Notes: I wrote most of this on a very slow day at work in between selling people books, so I can’t promise that it makes any sense at all. *shrugs* And I’ve finally taken the Gwen-bashing to the next level. I really dislike her at the moment.



Ianto lies on his sofa and decides that he really is quite sick of being at home on his own with nothing to do. There must be something more to life outside of cranky pterodactyls, incestuously close relationships where everyone knows exactly what you’re doing and who with, and handing out coffee while thinking but why exactly is it that I put myself through this? He has yet to figure out quite what that is, probably because his entire professional life has been spent inside various Torchwood institutes (not that he ever wants to think about his three-month stint in Torchwood Two ever, ever again), and nothing is ever even slightly normal when you’re dealing with alien invasion on a daily basis.

Maybe, he wonders for lack of anything else to do, he should get a girlfriend. One that has no relation to Torchwood, one who is actually slightly sane. Of course, Lisa ruined him for all other women. Or was that Jack? He can never remember. Not that it actually matters, not when you get down to it. Ianto is fairly certain that, along with his personality, his sense of self-preservation, his common sense and twelve kinds of shit, his conception of love has been utterly kicked out of him. And Torchwood has obviously indoctrinated him even more, because he doesn’t actually care.

*

Gwen screams herself hoarse and winds up silent and pouting, much to Owen’s eternal relief. To be honest, he’s not entirely sure why she was angry in the first place, and he reckons Tosh only got herself involved either because a) it was turning out to be another one of those boring-as-hell days where precisely nothing happens or b) she’s still got that obsessed-with-him thing going on.

“I don’t- I don’t want to be around you right now,” Gwen finally says, voice sounding raw and broken.

“Then for fuck’s sake, go home,” Jack says, appearing soundlessly behind them. “I highly doubt that anything is going to invade Cardiff right now, and we’re all going to be nursing migraines all afternoon from the pitch of your shrieking.”

Gwen chokes, a hurt expression spreading across her face, but it’s clear to Owen that she isn’t the one that Jack is actually angry with. It’s a pity that the amusement has faded away, because that was kind of fun. Now, he gets the feeling that he’s really in trouble. No one gets to hurt Ianto unless Jack is doing it, and he has successfully managed to get the whole team yelling at each other. Productivity for today is pretty much a zero.

“That goes for you too, Tosh,” Jack adds, although whether he means that she can leave or whether her shouts have made his ears bleed too is left ambiguous (probably deliberately, Owen reflects. He may like to think that he’s a dick, but he’s only a novice when he’s in the same room as Jack, the King of Complete And Utter Arseholes). The two women leave, looking faintly sulky. Owen notes that Jack is not granting him a reprieve, as the other man straddles a chair opposite him and fixes him with an angry blue stare.

“While this was massively entertaining,” Jack says, doing a pretty good impression of a headmaster, “You will not ever do it again.” The tone implies that if he does there will be Consequences, such as Owen’s genitals being fed to the Weevils, or whatever it is Torchwood has deemed necessary as punishment. “I can’t keep sending the entire team home just because you never learned what tact is. Who’s going to make my coffee now?”

Owen grits his teeth and says nothing. He’s not entirely sure that there’s anything to say, which makes the whole conversation that much worse. His head is actually buzzing in an unsettling fashion.

“I… won’t hit Ianto again,” he says finally, picking his words with care. He does not add unless he deserves it, because he realised a while ago that Jack can practically read minds, and so hears it anyway.

“Good idea,” Jack says briskly, “He won’t be nearly as pretty if you knock his teeth out.”

Something about his smile reminds Owen of a question that he never did get answered.

“Jack?” he begins tentatively, “Did you ever sleep with Ianto?”

“Sleep with as in ‘zzzz I’m so sleepy’, or as in ‘oh God-’”

“Stop avoiding the question!” Owen interrupts. Jack rolls his eyes in that patronising way he has, but doesn’t say anything. The Hub is momentarily silent, which is welcome after all the shouting that’s gone on today. However, the silence is not actually answering Owen’s question, and the more that he gets ignored, the curious he gets.

“You want some advice?” Jack enquires in a tone that tells Owen he’s going to get advice whether he wants it or not, so he may as well just shut up and possibly take notes.

“I want to know about you and Ianto,” Owen tries once more.

“Tough shit, keep wondering,” Jack tells him shortly. “My advice is: get the hell over yourself, get the hell over Ianto, or fucking do something about it.”

“Shit or get off the pot?” Owen paraphrases dryly. “Well, thanks for that, boss. Going to tell me to always wear clean underwear in case I get run over by a bus?”

“Actually, you’d be surprised how many times-” Jack begins, and then stops himself and grins broadly. “Piss off Owen, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Owen won’t say that he’s not grateful for the half-day off, but reflects that he’ll have to find a better way of getting one next time. Maybe he could punch Gwen.

*

Ianto finally picks up the phone. It has been ringing constantly for the last four hours. He’s been getting calls from all the members of Torchwood, even Jack, although Owen has been the most irritatingly persistent, and Ianto’s answering machine is blinking with nearly fifty unheard messages.

“No,” he says firmly, cutting Owen off mid-opening sentence. “I do not want to talk to you. Right now, although I know it’s childish, I would quite like it if you were, you know, dead. Or somewhere quite far away being eaten by ten-inch-high cannibals.”

Owen sounds torn between exasperated and amused.

“Ten-inch-high cannibals. What a scary little place your head is, Ianto.”

“Really?” Ianto laughs. “Did you never ask what happened to the last medical examiner?”

“Ianto-” Owen begins.

“Don’t,” Ianto says simply, and slams the phone down. And no matter how many times it rings again, he doesn’t answer.

*

Owen is late in the next morning, but Jack isn’t around to chew him out over it because he is being Conspicuously Absent. Gwen gives him a malevolent look from her workstation but Tosh greets him genially enough. Ianto is pottering about cheerfully doing his Ianto-y type things in silence. His mouth is bruised and his upper lip is cut, but he’s still smirking. Owen allows himself to momentarily imagine pinning Ianto against some kind of hard surface and kissing those damaged lips until Ianto is nothing but hissing, biting lust. He gets the feeling that that would be rather unwelcome at this point in time, however, so instead says nothing and slumps down in his chair, a sulky expression on his face.

“Where’s Jack?” Tosh asks Ianto as he brings her a pile of printouts.

“Out looking for some kind of ‘invading alien’,” the Welshman explains. “He’s bored out of his mind.”

“Wow.” Tosh spreads the papers over her workstation. “He really needs to get a hobby of some kind.”

“It is something that I’ve mentioned on several occasions,” Ianto agrees, giving Gwen a smile. She turns away, throwing Ianto a filthy glance that says something along the lines of slut. Ianto, on his way out, bends down to whisper something in her ear. She looks up, mild horror on her face, eyes widening slightly. Ianto gives her a bland smile and keeps walking away. Owen has no idea what he said, but he gets the feeling that it’s something along the lines of it takes one to know one.

*

Owen is hanging about in his lab because he has nothing better to do, and at least no one is glaring at him in here. The Hub is unsettlingly quiet without Jack around (apparently he’s on the roof sobbing please, come invade us, my team are maniacs!), and so Owen has far too much time to think about how potentially stalkerish calling Ianto forty-three times in one evening is. Tosh is doing sudoku puzzles in a tired fashion, and Gwen is busy charting fifteen years’ worth of local disappearances in the hope that there’s a supernatural connection (which there won’t be). It’s one of those boring afternoons when nothing at all is going to happen. Even Myfanwy has lost interest in tearing up sheep carcasses with unsettling ripping sounds and has instead settled down to sleep.

Ianto walks like a ghost, soft footsteps barely disturbing the air. Owen is learning to hear him coming, though, and he’s ready.

“Come to hit me back?” he enquires.

“No,” Ianto replies. “Not really my style, that.”

Ianto is standing far too close and Owen can feel the other man’s breath warm on the back of his neck. He’s trapped between Ianto and one of his workbenches.

“What are you bloody doing?” Owen demands, standing motionless, breath hitching in his chest.

“Shhh…” Ianto whispers in his ear, as his right hand slides down Owen’s chest, and Owen obediently stops speaking. If he says a word, he knows that Gwen will be right down here with her preaching and her shrieking and her accusing, accusing eyes. By the time Ianto’s hand has finished making its way down his chest, Owen’s cock is already hard, and the Welshman laughs as he moves to grasp it through Owen’s jeans. Owen’s eyelids flutter closed as he pushes his groin into Ianto’s palm.

“Is this what you want?” Ianto asks softly, tongue flicking out to tease Owen’s earlobe, fingers fumbling on Owen’s fly, as the doctor’s mouth drops open and he tries to gasp quietly. Somehow, insanely, he’d forgotten how good Ianto is at this, nimble fingers getting into Owen’s boxers and squeezing his aching cock like he was born to do this. Owen realises that Ianto is just about holding him up as he leans back, legs almost giving out underneath him, hungry and desperate, no matter his misgivings. No matter that he has no idea how he feels about Ianto, no matter that yesterday he punched the man in the mouth, no matter that this is all a really, really bad idea. This is sex. This, he understands. Ianto’s hand moves faster, and Owen bites his mouth back together, desperate to make some kind of sound but knowing that that would be a really, really bad idea.

He’s close, so fucking close to the edge, when Ianto lets go and moves away. Owen can’t think straight, and it takes a moment for the world to come back together again.

“What- the- fuck-” he pants, so aroused that it’s actually physically painful. Ianto grins in a not-entirely-nice way, indicating his split lip.

“Now we’re even,” he says calmly, turning.

“Don’t you fucking dare,” Owen hisses, just about managing to support himself by leaning on the workbench. “You can’t leave me like this.”

Ianto’s grin broadens, seeming to tell Owen that if he makes a big fuss about this, it’s going to bring Gwen and Tosh down here and they’ll see everything and the shrieking will start again, and then Jack will come down and either a) get angry, or b) – actually, Owen doesn’t want to think about b).

Ianto serenely turns and walks away, and Owen reflects that he’s getting a little sick of watching him do that.

*

Much to the relief of everyone, about four in the afternoon they get calls reporting purple-coloured creatures in a local hospital. Jack, Owen and Tosh go to investigate, leaving Gwen behind in the Hub to field more calls and be on standby in case anything else is called in. At least, that’s what Jack says, although Ianto privately thinks that it’s probably to reduce tension in the SUV. Deciding that being around Gwen right now might be a bad idea, he disappears into the downstairs archives for a while, enjoying the peace and quiet, but he knows he ought to get back to help her.

Gwen has made coffee. Ianto is immediately suspicious. He is even more suspicious when he takes a sip and it actually tastes all right. That implies that she Touched His Coffee Machine, and Ianto has to stop himself from shouting at her. No one is allowed to touch that machine, partially because yes, Ianto is a little (a lot) possessive, but mostly because he knows the members of Torchwood, and he knows that they will break it in minutes (just look what they did to the microwave). Still, his eyelids are itching with exhaustion and today is turning out to be pretty crap, overall, so he’s hardly going to turn her down. Ianto sits down beside her at her workstation, sipping his drink and waiting to find out exactly what she wants.

“I wanted to talk to you about Owen,” Gwen begins tentatively. Ah, Ianto thinks, all the best coffee comes with a price tag.

“Well,” Ianto says, “He’s out resident doctor, bit self-centred, can be remarkably unfeeling-”

“Ianto,” Gwen says, those eyes pleading. “Please. I need to know.”

No, Ianto thinks, no you don’t. And then he begins to wonder just why, since Gwen arrived, everyone has felt the need to discuss their feelings, instead of repressing them and pretending that they don’t exist like normal. Ianto isn’t sure what was wrong with repression. He liked repression.

“The last time you left Owen,” he starts, wondering whether Gwen is going to whip a policeman’s notebook out of thin air and start making notes, “One thing lead to another. A couple of times.”

A white lie, but Ianto feels resentful at Gwen’s expectation that she can give him a coffee and sit him down and he’ll tell her everything. For God’s sake, whatever his recent actions may imply, he’s not that easy.

“That’s it?” Gwen looks… disappointed? Relieved? Disbelieving? Ianto, however, does not crack. He’s worn this bland face to lie to Jack, and if their most esteemed and practically psychic boss couldn’t see through it, he’s damned if he’ll allow Gwen to.

“That’s it.” Ianto tells her.

Gwen still has her eyes narrowed at him. Ianto irrationally and suddenly hates her, for no other reason than the fact Gwen seems to want him to whore himself out to her, describe every kiss and every touch and every bite mark, when she isn’t even involved with Owen anymore. It is not fair, and it is also faintly voyeuristic.

“And…” she sounds almost hesitant, but Ianto has decided that that is mostly an act, and he will not fall for it.

“What do you mean, ‘and’?” he asks, sitting forward. “It happened, it stopped.” He puts his mug down on the desk. “I think I’d better get back to-”

“Owen gets under your skin,” Gwen says in a low voice, grabbing his wrist. “I know that better than anyone. You think you hate him and you turn around one day and realise that you don’t. Ianto, I have to know.”

“Calm down, Gwen,” he says quietly, steadily, unpeeling her fingers from his arm. “It doesn’t matter.”

“It does.”

The woman is insane.

“You won’t get him back,” Ianto says, low and careful. “He doesn’t want you. If you want my advice, I’d move on. Owen gets bored far too easily.”

“That isn’t true!” Gwen flares back into anger immediately. “What, because you fucked him once or twice, you think that you know him?”

“No,” Ianto says, still keeping a measured tone, aware he should stop speaking and deciding that maybe he won’t, “I think I know because I fucked him thirteen times, and because-”

“Shut up!” Gwen screams. Ianto obediently does, offering her another bland smile, and picking up their empty coffee mugs to go and wash them out. He can feel Gwen watching him go, and he doesn’t care, although he’s beginning to suspect that he rather put his foot in his mouth there. He knows that he went too far.

Owen gets under your skin… you think you hate him and you turn around one day and realise that you don’t.

Ianto nearly drops the mugs, manages to put them in the sink, takes a moment to adjust his tie and his cufflinks and take a breath until he feels empty and impassive again. He refuses to think that maybe, just maybe-

Relief rushes through him as the main doors to the Hub open, hearing Tosh speaking swiftly about computer programs and holograms, Owen complaining that he’s hungry, Jack muttering about how insane humans are. Something to distract him. So he walks back down the stairs, trying not to notice how Owen seems fixated with his mouth, and goes to clean up the SUV.

You think you hate him and you turn around one day and realise that you don’t.

Ianto curses quietly. He refuses to let this be happening, because it isn’t fair. He liked disliking Owen. It was easy to focus on the man’s worst features, ignore his calls, avoid staying with him for any length of time or acting with any form of lingering affection. It worked. But now, thanks to Gwen, he’s going to have to consider that maybe he was just slightly wrong. That maybe things are a lot more complicated than they were to begin with.

He knew he should’ve persuaded Jack not to hire her.


End Notes: There are, at this point in time, going to be two more parts to this series (imaginatively titled "Left" and "Right") because I finally worked out where I want this to go. However, "Left" is so bad right now I'm going to have to spend about a fortnight editing. Uh. That's it. :D

Tags: character: gwen cooper, character: ianto jones, character: jack harkness, character: owen harper, pairing: owen harper/ianto jones, series: no sense of direction, tv show: torchwood, type: slash
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