Sequel to: Here and There and Nowhere and Somewhere and Above and Below and Left AND Between
Summary: Ianto makes a decision but it doesn’t work out the way he expected.
Author’s Notes: Last part in my “No Sense Of Direction” series, featuring lots more Sociopath!Jack and an ending that hit me blindingly hard in the middle of a history lesson. I’m quite proud of how astonishingly strange and random this whole thing became. *shrugs*
Just in the interests of being helpful, I suggest you re-read “Here” before you read this.
Somewhere around the fourth time Owen lets Ianto fuck him without saying a word Ianto decides that he needs to do something. This has gone way beyond a casual shag in the evening, laughing into each other’s mouths, biting and teasing and bickering and generally having a good time. This is not fun any more. It is not even remotely fun any more, and Ianto would stop except that he can’t. Perhaps he really is some kind of masochist. But when Owen is turning his face away and refusing to let Ianto kiss him and Ianto can’t say a word for fear of rocking this fragile balance and wondering whether it’s actually worth it in any way, shape or form, he knows that it’s gone too far. He is fairly certain that sex with workmates should be less complicated than this (although, in all fairness, this is Torchwood, where nothing is ever simple).
The afternoon drags on and Tosh does paperwork and Owen hides out down in the cells with their Weevils and Jack and Gwen are out and about somewhere, on the trail of a potentially murderous alien or shagging or getting lunch or all three (Ianto didn’t really care enough to ask). Ianto himself is work-avoiding like mad, wandering about attempting to look professional in the hope that no one will notice that he’s not actually doing anything. When you apply to Torchwood, they never tell you about this bit. They never tell you the part where you have to wait weeks before the next bit of alien technology turns up, or the part where the Rift stays stable and mostly closed for months on end. Some days, working for Torchwood can be inescapably dull; and when it isn’t dull, it’s life threatening. There’s no middle ground, and from time to time, Ianto wonders why he hasn’t just quit already.
As he colour co-ordinates the coffee mugs (because it implies that he’s busy without him having to expend any brain power) Ianto decides that it has to be saner elsewhere. There have to be places where your boss doesn’t act like he has multiple personality disorder, where your co-workers aren’t all miserable or obsessive or empathetic to a fault. Where the little secrets you keep tend to be about who broke the photocopier or about who kissed who at the Christmas party. Not secrets this deep and this dark (I’m keeping a Cyberwoman who could kill us all in the basement; I’ve been killing people and bringing them back to life; I’m a lot older than you think I am, I can’t die, and hey- I’m probably not even human). Ianto knocks a blue mug out of the cupboard, grimaces as it smashes, and wonders whether people who work in offices have to worry about pterodactyls eating the potplants. Probably not, he decides, and switches on the coffee machine.
Owen can’t remember exactly why he stopped sleeping with people who wanted to fuck him, and why he’s started being with someone who clearly doesn’t. It wasn’t meant to happen like this, except that Owen tried to talk to Ianto the day after he tried to- well- he- but he never meant- anyway, they were supposed to talk, and they wound up shagging on the autopsy room table (followed up by Ianto calmly disinfecting the surface with a bottle of Dettol and a faintly perturbed expression on his face).
The thing is- the problem is- that they have no idea how to talk to one another. And they have no idea what this is so they can’t talk about it. It’s more penance than fun anyway, and Owen is beginning to resent Ianto. There is something sticking them together, but he’s buggered if he knows what, and it’s starting to feel like they’re trapped and this will never be over. It’s not a comforting thought, but it is a recurring one.
At the moment, the status quo is calm and quiet, Gwen is talking to him again, and Jack seems less bad-tempered than usual, but Owen can’t help wondering how long it’ll be before they fuck it all up again.
“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. Jack drops his mug.
“You want to what?”
“Well,” Ianto says, “The thing is, it’s not going well. It has never gone well. And it’s going to end badly and one or other of us is going to have to quit and there could even be bloodshed or mutilation. The entire situation is a trainwreck and I can’t remember exactly how I got into it and I want to make it stop. Now.”
“You really don’t like it when things aren’t in your control, do you?” Jack asks, ignoring the coffee creeping across the floor. “Always got to have everything neat and straight and just where you want it.”
“Please,” Ianto says.
“You don’t want to ride this thing to the end, see if it actually does work out?” Jack looks bemused.
“I’m not doing this for your amusement!” Ianto snaps. “It’s my life!”
“It’s Owen’s brain,” Jack points out. “And if you’re so determined to stride in and wipe his memories, then why are you asking my permission?”
“Because,” Ianto sighs, “If I wipe it and don’t ask you first, you’ll just make some comment and bring it all rushing back.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” Jack tells him, looking wounded.
“Yes you would!”
“Fine.” Jack smiles. “Give him the retcon tomorrow morning. In his coffee. I’m sure Gwen and Tosh would like his memories to be gone anyway, and I won’t say anything if you don’t want me to.”
Ianto feels unbelievably relieved.
“Thank you,” he says, turning to leave.
“Not that I’d want to wipe what a great shag you are out of my brain,” Jack remarks casually.
“Don’t go there, sir,” Ianto tosses over his shoulder, and walks out.
It’s ten o’clock on Friday morning and Owen can feel Jack watching him. It’s making the back of his neck prickle, but when he turns around their Captain looks otherwise distracted. It’s frustrating, and, more than that, it’s unnerving. He watches Ianto wandering about with a binliner for a while, reflecting that the man has a fine arse but it can’t go on like this. Not that there’s anything he can do, short of murdering Ianto and dumping him in the Bay. And Owen tries to tell himself that that idea has no merit whatsoever.
He got a halfway decent night’s sleep last night, so he can’t work out why his eyelids are drooping and the words are blurring on the computer screen in front of him. Then he looks at the mostly drunk mug of coffee beside him, and it clicks.
“Shit, Ianto,” he says. “That’s not fair.”
Ianto is slipping out of focus as he walks over to stand in front of Owen.
“Can you think of a better way out of this?” he asks.
“I was all for- for dumping your body in the Bay…” Owen can hear his voice slurring and falling away. “I don’t want to forget,” he adds. “Don’t do this…”
“Sorry,” Ianto tells him, but he doesn’t sound it, and Owen tries to get up, because he should at least punch him in the face for slipping retcon in his coffee and getting away with it, but he feels his legs give out under him and the last thing he registers before it all fades to black is Ianto catching him and lowering him carefully to the floor.
Ianto looks down at Owen and feels somewhat sheepish, but mostly just relieved. He reflects that perhaps he should have let Gwen and Tosh in on what he was planning to do, though, because now there’s an unconscious Owen on the floor and Gwen is screaming.
“What have you done to him?” she demands.
“I put retcon in his coffee,” Ianto explains. There’s nothing for it but the truth.
“Because I need this to be over,” Ianto explains. “So I put it in his drink, and now he’ll forget… everything.”
Gwen pushes her coffee away from her.
“I didn’t drug yours, Gwen,” he informs her. “What would be the point? We haven’t slept together.”
Gwen’s eyes widen.
“How do I know?” she asks, suddenly looking panicked. Ianto rolls his eyes to heaven and Jack helpfully cuts in.
“You haven’t, Gwen. Calm down. And someone should probably help me get Owen somewhere comfortable.”
“I’ll do it,” Ianto offers.
Jack shakes his head and his smile gets this edge to it that makes Ianto take an involuntary step backwards.
“I think you need to sit down, Ianto,” he says. “Wouldn’t want you to hit your head.”
“Oh, you didn’t,” Ianto mumbles helplessly, glancing miserably at the mug of tea Jack handed him about ten minutes ago. The world is already getting fuzzy around the edges. “You bastard.”
“You just did this to Owen,” Jack points out, “It’s hypocritical to get angry with me now.”
“Sir-” Ianto begins helplessly. “Sir, it’s completely different.”
“I don’t think it is,” Tosh offers, although she looks twisted up and torn and when Ianto stumbles she hurries over to catch his arm and help him sit down.
“Ianto, you said yourself that you wanted this gone,” Jack points out. “And you’d only have slipped up and said something you shouldn’t. Really, you should be grateful.”
“Grateful?” Ianto feels anger attempting to rise in him but he’s just so tired. “Yes, thank you for giving me brain damage, sir.” He sighs, tries to stop his eyes from closing. “I’ll never forgive you for this.”
“Yeah, you will.” Jack smiles broadly, so broadly his teeth are almost blinding. “You won’t remember what I did. It’s the perfect form of forgiveness.”
Ianto digs his fingers into his thigh in an attempt to stay awake.
“This is insane!” he insists. “You can’t do this.”
Jack shrugs, still smirking like the lying bastard he is.
“I just did,” he points out.
His unnerving grin is the last thing Ianto sees before blackness takes over.
Ianto becomes aware that he’s lying on his back on a bed of some kind. He has no memory of getting there, which is rather terrifying.
“I haven’t been kidnapped by cannibals again, have I?” he asks tentatively.
“No, but I’m sure it could be arranged,” Jack offers. He looks… relieved?
“What happened?” Ianto asks croakily. Everything in his head is fragmented and he can’t think properly.
“There was an accident,” Jack explains, sitting down beside the bed. “This box came through the Rift – lovely decoration, very art deco, would’ve looked great on my desk- and we were trying to figure out what it did. Tosh ran tests on it and couldn’t work out what it was, so you and Owen carried it down into the archives. Something must’ve messed up somewhere, though, ‘cause we found you both unconscious and the box had exploded.”
“Oh,” Ianto says, and becomes aware of his pounding headache. He puts up a tentative hand to his head, and presses down on what feels uncomfortably like a bruise. “Ow.”
“How do you feel?” Jack asks, all concern.
“I’m fine,” Ianto assures him. “Bit of a migraine… and my short term memory’s all over the place.”
“Probably to be expected,” Jack smiles. “I’m glad you’re ok,” he adds in a softer tone. Ianto bites his lips together.
“Thank you,” he murmurs.
“I’d better check on Owen,” Jack tells him, professional again, but he brushes the hair back from Ianto’s forehead to press a gentle kiss to the skin.
Owen has a migraine and his thought processes are currently somewhat shot, but at least he is not dead and he doesn’t seem to be having a brain haemorrhage, which is nice. He’s not entirely sure whether Jack’s story (cover story?) actually makes sense, but then his short-term memory is in pieces, so who knows what’s really going on in his head? So, when the dizzy feelings pass, he manages to stumble back into the main Hub.
“Anyone going to drive me home?” he asks. Tosh offers him a flickering smile but turns away too quickly, and Gwen can’t even look at him.
“I’ll call you a taxi,” she murmurs.
There’s something else going on here, Owen thinks, and begins to toy with the idea that maybe he lost his memory in something other than a completely random explosion. It all hinges, he supposes, on whether Jack is actually insane enough to retcon him, and then hit him around the head. It is plausible, but then he can’t think why it would be necessary for him and Ianto to have their memories wiped, so he dismisses it as paranoia brought on by the concussion.
Speaking of Ianto… the man presses a blue mug into Owen’s hand. Hot tea. Owen can’t help a small smile. Ianto might have died and he has probable brain damage, but he still has to make the coffee for them all. He feels pity for a moment, and then can’t think where it might have come from. He’s not in the habit of feeling sorry for their tea boy.
“I want to go home,” he says vaguely, because his head is pounding and the tea is doing nothing to help. Ianto gives him the tiniest of unreadable smiles and then walks over to deliver Tosh’s coffee.
Despite what Jack keeps telling him, Ianto’s memories don’t return. He can remember the months before his Accident, but there are pieces missing, like someone’s gone through with a pair of scissors and carefully removed sections. It takes him a fortnight to start thinking that maybe retcon was involved, but he decides that since he can still remember Lisa, he’s probably just worrying over nothing. Nothing’s changed, really, and he doesn’t seem to be having any side effects from their alien explosion. Except that he’s more tolerant of Owen than he used to be; when their doctor winds him up or leaves a lot of mess lying around or makes an off-colour remark, Ianto doesn’t get nearly as angry as he used to. He supposes that he got off lightly when it comes to brain damage.
Around a month after their Accident, Ianto is locking up. Jack has fucked off to the local pubs and probably won’t be back tonight, and he’s relishing the thought of an early night. Except that Owen is sitting under the autopsy table, resolutely drinking his way through a bottle of Jack Daniel’s.
“Why can’t you drink in the privacy of your own home?” Ianto asks, despairing, as he shoves a tray of scalpels into the sterilising machine. “Why do you have to inflict it on me? I want to go home.”
He’s sure he never used to be so openly hostile in front of Owen, but he honestly can’t remember.
“Shut up,” Owen mutters. “I’ve got a headache.”
“So you’re using that well-known cure; drinking yourself unconscious. Well done, Owen.”
“Can’t you just leave me here to die?” Owen asks hopefully.
“It’d be a bugger to clean up,” Ianto explains. “I’ll call you a cab and you can go home.”
“I like it here,” Owen tells him. He squints up at Ianto. “Want a drink?”
It’s been a bloody strange month. Ianto shrugs, and joins Owen under the table. The doctor grins madly and drunkenly at him, and hands him the bottle. Ianto takes a mouthful, and then another. The alcohol burns his throat, but it does relax him somewhat.
“So,” Owen begins, “Why are you still here? No, wait, don’t tell me; you’re shagging Jack.”
“I am not shagging Jack!” Ianto lies quickly. Owen eyes him dubiously.
“Are you like a priest or something then?” he asks, alcohol removing inhibitions that weren’t really there to begin with. “’Cause you had that Cyber girlfriend, so you couldn’t have been shagging her, and if you’re not with Jack-”
“I am not a priest,” Ianto protests, suddenly grateful for his exhaustion and the Jack Daniel’s in his system, because otherwise Owen’s words might actually hurt or anger him. Owen’s grin gets nasty and wide.
Ianto knows he should stop- there are all sorts of warning bells screaming in his head- but he doesn’t. He leans in with intention of giving Owen the briefest of kisses, just to send him running off screaming (he’s probably secretly homophobic; it seems like the sort of thing he would be). But as their lips touch something changes slightly, and Owen’s mouth opens willingly under his. Ianto suddenly gets déjà vu, something niggling in the back of his head, something important that he’s forgotten, but he can’t be bothered to work out what it is, and instead shifts so he’s facing Owen, Owen’s hand moving to tighten on the back of his neck, tongues sliding together as they share deep, messy, open-mouthed kisses. This is moving too fast and Ianto pulls back, shocked and a little confused.
He sees his own uncertainty mirrored in Owen’s eyes, but a moment later the man is laughing.
“You’d actually let me do it. You’d actually fucking let me do it,” he says.
There’s a stunned pause.
Owen stops laughing abruptly and they just stare at each other for a moment, breathing too hard, but Owen’s hand is still tight on the back of Ianto’s neck and there’s only a knife edge of a decision now.
“Do you-” Ianto begins, but Owen is already pulling him closer and cutting off the question with another kiss.
End notes: Of course, it’s now up to you guys to decide as to whether they actually do remember or not, and whether they’re going to fall back into the same cycle again, and whether Jack loses his temper and wipes their memories again. I’m done and leaving it mildly ambiguous. Thank you so much for all your support and feedback (I haven’t always been able to say thank you; my internet access is erratic at best) but I’ve always been grateful. *grins* And, naturally, I’m working on more Jack/Ianto and Owen/Ianto, so please keep your eyes out ;) xxx