Pairings: Owen/Ianto [with Jack/Ianto]
Sequel to: Here and There and Nowhere and Somewhere and Above and Below AND Left
Summary: Some background between Jack and Ianto and things get even more complicated between Owen and Ianto.
Author’s Notes: Literally an interlude before it all concludes itself in “Right” (currently in progress but it should be done soon). Puts in a few things and provides lots of conflict so I can concentrate on tying up all the loose ends in the last part.
The first time Jack kissed him, Ianto had been working for Torchwood Three for all of about two and a half hours.
“I have a girlfriend,” Ianto stammered quickly, in case he forgot (Jack had so much charisma that Ianto could barely remember his own name under the pounding of his heart, and that was just plain ridiculous). The attack on Torchwood One was still fresh enough on him that Jack’s kiss hurt his split lip.
“Oh,” Jack said, shrugging in an entirely unapologetic fashion, “My bad.”
And he kissed him again.
Jack demands coffee; it’s so late that Ianto isn’t even sure what the time is, but his eyes are starting to itch with exhaustion and his hands are shaking.
“I want to go home,” he announces, putting a mug of coffee beside Jack and clutching his own mug of tea with both hands as he sits down. “Is there anything else I can do for you, sir?”
“Ianto, it’s three a.m, I think you can dispense with the ‘sir’ shit.” Jack sounds weary and frustrated, which tells Ianto that he’s attempting to track down the Doctor, and once again it isn’t paying off. Nothing new there.
“Fine. Jack. Can I help you with something?”
“What, you got somewhere better to be?”
Ianto hates this side of Jack. It’s the side that only he sees, now that Suzie’s dead. Dark, unforgiving, boiling over with suppressed fury. In the half-light produced by Jack’s desk lamp, shadows spilling over Jack’s face, Ianto almost doesn’t recognise him. He grits his teeth and reminds himself that he probably wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight anyway.
“I’ve got plenty of better places to be,” Ianto says quietly, calmly. “But I’m paid to be here and I obviously won’t leave if you need me for anything.”
Jack doesn’t even look up, reaches distractedly for his coffee, and starts gulping it down, keeping his gaze on the printouts in front of him.
“If this is about today-” Ianto begins, unsure how to continue but realising that leaving Jack to stew in his own anguish will only end in a trashed office and Myfanwy getting upset at the shouting.
“I thought, you know, that you were the professional one,” Jack tells him. The way he says it makes Ianto’s stomach lurch. “But we needed backup today, and where the fuck were you?”
Ianto takes a sip of his rapidly cooling tea, trying to work out what to say.
“I’m sorry,” he offers. It isn’t enough, not nearly enough, and he knows it.
“Doesn’t really cut it, Ianto.” Jack finally meets his gaze, blue eyes rimmed with red, clearly exhausted and angry. “Last few weeks, you’ve been a mess. More than a mess. The tension between you and Owen is making everyone uncomfortable, and it’s interfering with everything you do.”
“I seem to recall you positively encouraging it,” Ianto points out, aware that there’s a shake in his voice.
“I thought that you’d be sensible enough to tell when things started interfering with your work,” Jack tells him.
“Well, I’m clearly not.” Ianto is getting angry himself, somewhere underneath the deep-set exhaustion.
“I can see that only too well.” Jack turns his attention back to blurry CCTV shots of a large blue box and Ianto bites his mouth hard so that he won’t say anything he shouldn’t. “You know what, Ianto? Fuck off home. Get some sleep. Don’t even bother coming in tomorrow.”
Ianto stares at him, open-mouthed.
“Are you firing me, sir?”
“Do you think I should?”
“This is definitely sexual harassment, sir,” Ianto told him.
“Don’t call me sir; it’s way too kinky,” Jack mumbled in his ear, breath warm and laughing slightly. “Jack will do just fine.”
“What about ‘captain’?” Ianto suggested, because if he stopped speaking for even a second he might forget about Lisa and the fact Suzie wasn’t all that far away and Jack was his boss and this was all very, very wrong. He was answered with a soft groan.
Sleeping with the man who signed his paychecks. Oh, that was always going to be a good idea. Still, Ianto couldn’t stop himself, because he was lonely, he was tired, Lisa was a lost cause, and besides, there was something about Torchwood that made him feel that he could do what he liked and there’d be no repercussions.
Maybe that was the problem.
“I’m not sure that I should answer that,” Ianto tells him slowly. “But I’d really rather keep this job.”
“You only took it for your girlfriend,” Jack remarks casually. “Nothing keeping you here.”
There’s far too much keeping him here; Ianto will never admit to it.
“I think I’d better go, sir,” he mumbles, placing his mug of almost untouched tea on the desk.
“Yeah.” Jack doesn’t look up until Ianto’s almost out the door. “Hey, Ianto!”
“What?” Ianto is entirely too tired for this.
“How are things going with Owen?”
It’s three thirty in the morning and Jack is not in a good frame of mind and Ianto still isn’t entirely sure what happened earlier.
“Worse than I could have thought humanly possible. Good night, sir.”
It didn’t take long for Ianto to figure out that Jack wasn’t the flowers and chocolates type (which was a relief in too many ways), so he loved Lisa and fucked Jack and it all worked out rather well. Lisa, if she ever figured it out, never mentioned it; then again, she did have good reason to be rather self-absorbed. Jack was the closest thing Ianto had left to a friend, after all. Self-pitying, maybe, but then most of Ianto’s friends had died in the Torchwood One attack, and those who hadn’t been deleted or converted stopped calling after he moved to Cardiff and didn’t bother to plug in the telephone in his new flat for three months. Jack had a good (if incredibly twisted) sense of humour, an edge that drew Ianto ever closer, and he seemed to genuinely like Ianto.
But eventually Ianto began to see through the superficial, matinee idol Captain Jack Harkness to the damaged and sadistic man underneath. He was initially frightened to see Jack’s inner darkness, and then became almost relieved, because it explained a lot (quite what it explained, he wasn’t entirely sure, but then he had many hours of mind-numbing filing to turn it all over and fit the pieces together).
Owen doesn’t sleep well and when he comes in, Jack is yelling at UNIT down the phone, Gwen and Tosh are bickering over something pointless, and Ianto is wearing yesterday’s suit and looking distinctly crumpled.
“Coffee?” he asks tonelessly. Owen looks at the purple circles under Ianto’s eyes and wonders if he’s finally broken the tea boy. Hopefully, there’s some kind of warranty or Jack’s going to be after his skin. And then he’s disgusted with himself for thinking like that, after what he almost did.
“Do you actually want to make me coffee?” he asks, wanting to say something else entirely and not really sure where to begin.
“You look like you need it,” Ianto shrugs.
“So do you,” Owen points out. Ianto smiles a wan and faintly rueful smile.
“Jack had me here until three thirty,” he explains. Owen thinks I bet he did and then reminds himself that he’s not allowed to be angry any more. Ianto seems to realise what Owen’s thinking because he adds: “It’s not- I’m not sleeping with Jack. Well, all right, I am, but…”
Owen notes that Tosh and Gwen are watching them with borderline voyeuristic interest.
“I just want a fucking coffee, not a flowchart, Ianto,” he snaps, because he doesn’t like the look on Gwen’s face and he doesn’t want to have this conversation here. “Two sugars, no milk. Go.”
And he pretends that that isn’t hurt in Ianto’s eyes as he leaves. Owen waits until he’s in his lab and out of the girls’ sightline before kicking his table and muttering shit.
For a while, he listens to Jack informing UNIT of all the times Torchwood Three has saved their asses at the top of his voice, although Owen is fairly certain that their boss is making most of these incidences up, because he doesn’t remember there being giant spiders, and he’s sure they’re the sort of things that would stick in his memory.
Ianto brings him a mug of coffee eventually, playing the role of cool, competent and silent receptionist with his usual aplomb, although his tie is askew and he looks on the point of collapse. The words I’m sorry helpfully pop up in Owen’s head but he can’t say them.
“Ianto-” he begins.
“It doesn’t matter,” Ianto says, and for once he actually sounds angry. “Shall we just agree that I’ve made some bad decisions, and you’ve made some bad decisions, and the past few months have been very, very fucked up, and we’ll just let it go.”
“‘Let it go?’” Owen repeats.
“I think we’re at the point where pretending this never happened is probably our only option,” Ianto explains. “We’ve managed to tear up personal relations between everyone on the team, and they were never that great to begin with, and I think yesterday showed us that no good can come of this.”
“Ianto,” Owen says, “It’s not like reorganising a filing system or wiping up a coffee stain. You can’t just take this depth of- of whatever this is, and make it go away.”
Ianto’s smile makes his blood run cold.
“Oh, yes, you can,” he tells him. “You can make any number of things go away if you concentrate hard enough.”
Owen wonders just how much shit Ianto is repressing and reflects that one day he’ll just explode in fragments of waistcoats and coffee grounds and sarcasm.
“I don’t understand what the hell’s going on,” he says, deciding that it’s time to be strong and admit how confused he is.
“Neither do I,” Ianto points out. “Jack doesn’t know. Gwen and Tosh don’t know. And we’re in no fit state to figure it out. So, Owen. Just let it go.”
But he’s been getting ever closer and even though it sounds like he’s begging for this to be over, Owen can tell that Ianto doesn’t really believe what he’s saying. That whatever else may have happened, he still wants Owen, and they stare at each other with no idea what they’re doing for an impossibly long moment.
“Oh, fuck it,” Ianto mumbles.
And that’s Owen’s only warning, before the other man pins him to the wall, and this time they don’t say another word and they don’t – can’t – stop.
And... I'm literally writing the final part, "Right", this very minute. And just because you've all been so wonderful right the way through, I will give you a tiny preview:
“Jack,” Ianto says at nine-thirty on Thursday night, “I’ve got a favour to ask you.”
Jack settles back in his chair, coffee cup in hand, and gives Ianto the full force of his blue-eyed gaze. It’s quite terrifying, having Jack’s unadulterated attention on him, but Ianto is getting used to it, so he swallows and decides to just come out with it.
“I want to retcon Owen,” he announces.
See you next week :D