Lady Paperclip (paperclipbitch) wrote,
Lady Paperclip
paperclipbitch

How a dream became 11, 555 words.

Title: You’re Going To Wish I’d Never Touched You
Fandoms: Torchwood/CSI
Pairings: Owen Harper/Greg Sanders, Owen/Ianto, hints at Nick/Greg
Challenge/Prompt: philosophy_20, #17 Lack Of God
Rating: NC-17
Genre: Slash/crossover
Warnings: Apocalypse!fic. Major character deaths in both fandoms. It’s also really dark. Oh, and it’s written in a confusing and non-linear fashion.
Summary: Owen winds up in Las Vegas, if only to prove a point.

You really don't need to have ever watched CSI to read this. I just borrowed a character. The whole thing is actually Torchwood-centric.



Author’s Notes: This is inspired directly from a dream. Sort of. What I remember from the dream is that Owen and Greg had wound up being a couple, somewhere along the line. It was set in a totalitarian dystopian future, rather like the one in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (which I finally read a fortnight ago), and I remember a lot of running about in metallic warehouses. Of course, to prevent plagiarism, I’ve changed the plotline. And taken myself out. The me in the dream didn’t really do much, I was mostly just watching the story unfold, but Greg was offering to help me have a baby so that a) I wouldn’t be killed for not having children and b) he wouldn’t be killed for being gay. I wound up in my year 8 design & technology classroom hiding behind a sewing machine begging the army to leave me alone and not force me to have a child. How lovely. I don’t remember how it started or ended, but Greg did have long hair, which was exciting.

Basically, this was inspired by my dream, but it is not my dream. On with the fic!





You’re Going To Wish I’d Never Touched You

It’s kind of getting harder to breathe
I won’t let it show – I’m all about denial,
But can’t denial let me believe that we could talk about it?
But we can’t talk about it,
Because nobody knows that’s how I nearly fell.

- Aimee Mann

.

Owen crashes the car into a wall; smoke pours out from under the bonnet and he takes the rifle and a jacket that isn’t his with him before the flames start. He stumbles when he walks, he called it steadying his nerves once but it’s not that any more. Now, he’s just drunk because he’s got to keep going but he doesn’t want to remember what he’s left behind. What he did.

Vegas looks dull, washed-out, murdered, without the neon lights. Windows of houses boarded up, he came here once when he was younger, with his friends, they gambled money they didn’t have, spent a week out of their heads. Owen doesn’t want to be here now, with blurring vision and unsteady hands. Behind him, the car might be on fire but it wasn’t his to begin with, neither was the bottle of amber-coloured liquid left in the backseat, but he needed it to get through the night.

He doesn’t know what he’s doing.

.

He was in bed with Ianto when things started splitting. His mouth around Ianto’s cock, he thinks {remembers}, eyes closed, they were both supposed to be back at work by then. Summer afternoon, and there was only so far that they could take recuperating before it just became taking the piss. Ianto had stopped shaking days before, Owen’s broken ribs were close to being healed.

Jack said take a few days off, we can cope without you. He didn’t mean take nearly a fortnight off and they really were pushing it.

Ianto’s hand carded in his hair, erratic, hips shifting against the sheet. It was quiet, peaceful, the sunlight bleeding through the blinds of Owen’s flat.

Later on, when they turned the television on, it turned out that a hundred bodies had been found in the Nevada desert. It seemed like an illogical tragedy. They didn’t know the truth, not then.

.

A woman with a paper bag full of whatever passes for shopping these days glances at him, a perfunctory sort of glance; Owen notes the gun tucked into her belt. He’s got one in the waistband of his jeans, actually, hard against his hip. He tries not to think about how he got it, how there wasn’t much of a choice. Someone had to get here. It’s too late to make a difference, but someone from the tattered remains of Torchwood had to get here, just to prove that one of them could, to point out that they tried.

“I’m not one of Them,” he tries to assure her, and the words slip together. He wants to laugh {he’s so out of it, Jack wouldn’t be impressed, drinking while trying to save the world – but where is Jack these days? Not here}.

The woman with the paper bag stops walking. She’s young, ash blonde hair, her practical outfit let down by stupid turquoise high heels.

“You should get off the street,” she tells him. A tiny piece of advice, a loose suggestion. Something close to compassion. It floors Owen.

“I’m looking for someone,” he explains. She frowns, but Owen knows she’ll never be able to run for her life in those shoes.

“Who are you looking for?”

He grins, and it must look manic; he hasn’t slept in four days, and has been drunk since before he got on the plane at Gatwick.

“The police. Who else?”

.

When Jack got taken, Gwen cried for days. Tosh shut down completely, face pale and drawn, and watched the news reports as people disappeared and other people died and people who weren’t really people at all patrolled the streets and it all got rather messy.

“Do you think Jack’s dead?” Ianto asked, on a Thursday morning. He was holding a mug of coffee in his hand and he looked sick.

“I don’t know,” Owen replied, back against the concrete. They weren’t in a relationship; Owen didn’t care enough to make it anything permanent and Ianto never stated a preference either way. Looking back, Owen wishes that they’d figured out something more concrete, but then it would have made what he did worse {if that’s even possible}.

“If Jack can be taken, then anyone can,” Ianto murmured, looking down.

“I won’t let them take you,” Owen replied, he meant it to be comforting, it didn’t come out right {he meant it, then}.

Ianto’s smile didn’t reach his eyes.

.

There’s a bar still open, which is a minor miracle in and of itself, and Owen walks in because even if he’s got a job to do, he doesn’t want to be sober. The world is ending around him, people shutting up shop and hiding in their cellars. He always feels a sense of relief when he sees somewhere that won’t give in and close.

He puts a near-worthless green banknote on the bar. Inflation and all the places you can’t spend money these days. Still, it should cover something.

“I want-” he begins, and doesn’t know.

“I think you’ve had enough,” the bartender says carefully. He looks too young to be legally able to drink anyway, and there are maybe four other people in here, all of them hunched, waiting to be killed. It’s got to be a soul-destroying place to wait it out.

“I’m drinking to forget,” Owen half-snarls, “I want whatever I can buy with this, and you can keep the fucking lecture.”

“Oh.” The bartender’s face creases with understanding, probably understanding more than Owen wants him to. He puts whisky on the counter.

.

“I should have quit years ago,” Gwen said in the hours before she killed herself.

.

Whoever They were, They took Jack. He struggled and shouted and Owen and Tosh were running down the street in pursuit but it was all so fast and they couldn’t save him. He was gone and with him their hope vanished. If Jack, immortal, beautiful Jack was just as susceptible as the rest of humanity to the creatures that looked like people but weren’t, then the rest of them were damned. Fucked. Dead. However you wanted to put it.

They wear the skins of dead people, Owen knows, they see out through dead eyes, and he thinks that they might have started out as aliens. He’s not sure what they are now, and the phonecall that arrived three weeks after Jack was snatched from the street {is he dead? Alive? Taken over? Some space in-between?} implies that maybe they could crack the puzzle except that even if he does uncover the truth, there’s nothing he can do with it.

Tosh sat up all night, the first night, just staring at the wall.

.

The man is waiting for him on the pavement, one hand clenched tight around a gun. They look like people, after all. And sometimes you can’t tell the difference until it’s too late. Owen has alcohol on his shirt and he threw up three gutters ago and he should be trying harder than this and he isn’t.

{He doesn’t deserve to be here. Why should he bother?}

The man is still young, wearing a long coat over a t-shirt advertising a concert that took place before he was even born. His hair is too long, has a ragged look that implies he stopped caring about his appearance a while ago. Owen can’t even remember how long this has been going on, can’t trace back the length of apathy to the source.

He’s holding a manila file.

“Are you Torchwood?” he asks doubtfully.

“What’s left of it,” Owen replies.

.

He says his name is Greg. He doesn’t seem to like Owen all that much, but then Owen can’t blame him. The name ‘Torchwood’ and the idea that they were coming out here implied that perhaps things might improve, that there might be professional people to produce some kind of safety. What Greg has in fact got is a drunk, manic-looking man, too skinny, haunted eyes, with only two guns and a lot of cynicism. Owen can understand why he is disappointed.

“Come on,” Greg says quietly. “We should get out of the open. I think They know what I’ve got.”

“Do you live around here?” Owen asks, wondering if he’s walking into a trap {it happens, you know, people give up and start selling out their own kind just to survive} and if it is, whether he can bring himself to care.

Ianto would know what to do in this situation {Ianto was meant to be here}.

“I do now,” Greg replies, a look on his face, and Owen remembers that he’s not the only one suffering, that everyone else is ruthlessly ensuring their own survival too. It’s so easy to forget.

.

“The Crime Lab in Las Vegas were the ones to examine the first bodies,” Tosh explained. Her dark hair was pulled back, away from her face, and she had the worn look of someone who’d been so afraid of dreaming they’d cut sleep out altogether. “So they’ve got all the evidence they gathered from the investigation. With their information, and our reference files, we might be able to work out exactly what’s going on. If this is an invasion, or a virus. We might even be able to figure out how to stop it.”

Gwen was dead in one of the cells downstairs. A power cord, a jump from a chair. The old methods are often the best.

“We should cut her down,” Ianto muttered, ignoring Tosh and all her possibilities. “We can’t just leave her down there.”

Owen was supposed to be leader except he did a crap job the first time around and so point-blank refused to lead the team. None of them knew what they were doing. And there were people in the Roald Dahl Plass that weren’t people at all.

“We need to get to Vegas,” Tosh insisted. “The phonelines are erratic at best, the internet no longer works, we have to go and get this information in person. It could be vital.”

Owen just watched Them fill up the square on the surface. When he closed his eyes, he could see Gwen’s swinging feet.

.

The look on Ianto’s face was perhaps the worse thing. It wasn’t even betrayal; it was resignation. As though he’d been expecting it all along.

“I’m letting you off the hook,” he said.

.

“When was the last time you ate?” Greg asks, when they are behind boarded-up windows, with a bare light bulb illuminating someone else’s apartment. Their apartment, now. Take whatever’s for the taking.

Owen thinks that there might have been peanuts on the flight a few days ago, and says some words to that effect. There was an air hostess on the flight too, blonde, unsmiling, hands shaking as she brought him tiny plastic bottle after tiny plastic bottle. It wasn’t really a plane designed for longhaul flights, and only about six or seven people on it {what’s the point in travelling now?}, and they avoided eye contact until it became ridiculous.

No one even looked twice at him when the gun in his jeans set off the metal detector. No one tried to check him for explosives. No one asked to see a passport.

“It’s too late, you know,” he says, face on the table, as Greg makes him a sandwich with bread that isn’t yet mouldy. Greg pretends not to hear him.

.

Ianto tasted like coffee when the government were slaughtered. Owen left bruises on the other man’s hips, he was holding on so hard, and Ianto didn’t say a word but pressed his mouth to the perfectly round scar on Owen’s shoulder and it wasn’t fun, this. It wasn’t enjoyable. It was desperate, and haunted, and too fast and too hard and most of it hurt.

Jack’s desperate voice as he shouted down the telephone filtered through the corridor and it’s possible that Ianto stifled a sob against Owen’s neck, just one, quick and terrified, and when he came Owen didn’t murmured Ianto’s name.

“They’ve got Rhys,” Gwen said hollowly that evening, face stark white. “I went home and-” Her voice cracked and broke entirely and Jack pulled her close when she sobbed, and Owen couldn’t look at anyone because there wasn’t anything to say.

.

Owen sleeps on a half-collapsed couch while Greg keeps watch, and he half-suspects he’s going to wake up dead, or at the very least alone with his gun stolen. He’s still kind of smashed when he finally opens his eyes, and Greg is reading a battered paperback and not looking at him.

“I thought you could help,” Greg says accusingly.

“We were going to help,” Owen replies, pressing a hand to his head, which really hurts, “Then… everyone died.”

They’re both too scared to be the heroes. It’s becoming painfully apparent.

Greg sighs, head in hands. The sound breaks in the room and through the boarded-up windows, Owen hears a car backfire, or maybe it’s a gunshot.

“I wanted you to fix this,” Greg mumbles into his palms.

.

Jack said he’d never come across anything like this before, which coming from Jack was disturbing, because the rest of the team were under the impression that there was nothing he hadn’t shagged at least once.

He mentioned his distinct lack of knowledge on a Tuesday morning when half of Louisiana had been slaughtered, silently, neatly, and the other half were walking down motorways, seeing nothing, footsteps even and precise.

“It’s not our problem,” Owen pointed out. “It’s in America, not Cardiff.”

“And you don’t think the fact most of Aberystwyth vanished last week isn’t connected?” Jack asked.

“We’re not even sure what’s happening!” Gwen pointed out, looking sick. She had an aunt in Aberystwyth, Owen remembered distractedly.

“Don’t you think we should find out?” Jack gave them all a look, the you’re not trying hard enough look.

Owen watched Ianto grit his teeth.

.

“We should get out of here,” Owen suggests, unsteady on his feet as he is, because staying in one place for too long is dangerous. Especially if They are looking for you.

“Where are we going to go?” Greg demands, and there’s anger on his face now. “Do you have any idea how many people died so I could get that file to you?”

The file is still on the kitchen table, and they remember this simultaneously, running through the door as though expecting to find it gone. It’s still there.

“You have no idea how many people I had to kill just to get to this bloody country,” Owen replies through clenched teeth, picking it up, “So I’ll read it when I know we’re not going to be interrupted. Get whatever looks like it might be useful, and let’s move.”

{He hates being reminded of the blood on his hands.}

.

When the train jerked to a halt, lights flickering, several passengers screamed. It was crowded, a Tuesday night, God knows why people thought that going to London was going to make things better.

Tosh closed her eyes, and Ianto squeezed her hand. Owen took his gun from the waistband of his jeans with hands that were barely shaking.

A woman dressed in dark blue walked out into the corridor between carriages, cracked open the window to look out.

“Oh God,” she said, and the silent carriage could hear every word, “They’re on the tracks.”

Ianto let go of Tosh’s hand, reaching for the handgun he had inside his jacket.

“I thought this was going a little too well,” he murmured.

.

They’d never seen Jack truly afraid until the hollow-eyed things that weren’t people at all dragged him backwards, moving faster than any of them would have believed possible.

.

Yet another stolen car, the rearview mirror bent. Greg sits in the passenger seat, even though it’s clear that Owen is still too drunk to be driving.

“They don’t bleed when you shoot them,” Greg says almost conversationally, playing with the radio dial as it spits out static.

“They don’t?” Owen keeps his eyes on the road, his hands are shaking and there’s every chance he could kill them both in yet another crash.

“You haven’t noticed?”

“I haven’t shot many of them,” Owen replies, taking a sharp left. He doesn’t know where he’s going, but they should probably get out of the city. Even though he suspects that getting trapped in the desert will only make things worse.

“I have,” Greg murmurs, turning his attention to the street outside the window. “It’s nothing like Resident Evil.”

There’s a woman on the pavement. Owen pretends he can’t see the turquoise stilettos on her feet, and floors the accelerator.

“Tell me where to go.”

.

It used to be a motel, but there’s no one running it now. The windows are boarded up, there’s someone floating in the pool, but the sheets are clean and between them they shove a wardrobe against the door of a room on the second floor. By electric light, Owen strips the bed and spreads out sheets of paper and photographs on the hard mattress.

He understands enough to make him feel sick to his stomach.

.

People streamed out of the train, having broken open the windows and doors in order to escape. The air was full of screaming; and They were dragging passengers out of the crowd.

Tosh sat down on the carriage floor.

“Do we make a run for it?” she asked. “Is it worth the risk?”

“There are three of us,” Ianto pointed out, leant against the door, “One of us could make it.”

It was unspoken that they doubted whether all three of them could make it to Las Vegas. As long as someone did. As long as anyone did. There was very little light outside, but if they stayed in the train they were sitting ducks. Waiting for the slaughter.

“Come on then,” Owen said, and offered his hand to help Tosh to her feet.

.

{Owen sometimes thinks that he loves Ianto, but only after midnight.}

.

Jack was teaching Gwen to Cha-Cha-Cha when the suburbs of Paris were on fire. Owen was watching the footage at his workstation, flames filling his computer screen. To begin with, the whole thing had been blamed on students, called unconnected, until the news reporters were torn from their microphones and away into the burning buildings by things with blank eyes.

Ianto’s hand was tight on his shoulder, fingers digging in hard enough to hurt, and Owen couldn’t bring himself to look at the other man’s expression. Instead, he turned away from the computers, and watched Gwen attempt {and subsequently fail} to keep up with Jack {because no one could}.

.

“Jesus fucking Christ,” Owen mutters, gathering all the sheets of paper back together.

“What?” Greg asks, immediately alert. He’s been sat on a chair in the corner, leafing through the Gideon Bible, while Owen studied the evidence file.

“The first hundred bodies weren’t murdered,” Owen tries to explain, but shock is curling around his tongue. “I mean, they were, but not the way you thought.”

“Owen?” Greg moves, coming over to help Owen sit on the bed instead of the chair, because he’s shaking. “Don’t freak out on me, not now.”

Owen decides to let the fear in, just for a moment, before he pushes it away and forgets it entirely. Bad things happened to people, but to people who weren’t here. And he can’t care.

“You said they don’t bleed,” Owen murmurs, closing his eyes because he doesn’t want to look at anything, “You said they don’t bleed when you shoot them, right?”

“Right.”

“The bodies you found didn’t have any blood in them either.” Owen swallows. “They weren’t senselessly slaughtered. They were prototypes.”

.

There was gravel under his feet, and Owen couldn’t work out whether he was going to trip over a live rail and die of electrocution, and if that would be a better way to die than being systematically torn to shreds by things that used to be people. It was dark and he thought he could see Ianto out of the corner of his eye, but maybe not. He didn’t dare turn to look. If he just kept running, maybe They’d give up, maybe he could make it away safe {did they have a quota of victims? Was it systematic? Jack could’ve – should’ve – known}.

Tosh’s scream ripped the night air, and Owen turned his head and nearly fell and a hand caught his arm and he hoped to God it was Ianto’s, because if it wasn’t then-

“Tosh!” Ianto’s shout came from a voice broken with fear and Owen turned properly to see if he could do anything, anything at all, and Tosh was being pulled away by two men {if you could call Them that, and you couldn’t}, she was fighting and having no effect. Owen fired his gun, twice, missing the first time, and killing on the second time. The body fell flat and another one of Them took its place in a second.

A man running past, mumbling under his breath with panic, wrenched the gun from Owen’s momentarily slack hand, and was gone before Owen could react. Ianto’s fingers bit into his arm and they couldn’t see Tosh any more and a moment later her screams stopped.

“Come on.” He could hear Ianto crying but couldn’t see the tears in the half-dark and was grateful for it. They couldn’t stop. They had to keep running because they weren’t safe yet.

.

He had no choice. They both knew that. Ianto would have done the same to him.

But he had the gun.

.

Greg frowns. “I don’t-”

“What it means,” Owen says, swallowing nausea, “Is either They needed to practise before they worked out how to successfully take someone over, or They were created from scratch.”

There are footsteps outside, in perfect staccato beat, lots and lots of even footsteps. Greg doesn’t even have time to process the implications of what Owen’s said.

“We have to get out of here,” Owen murmurs. He is sorely tempted to leave the folder behind, that’s that They are looking for, after all, but they could still need it. A lot of people have died to get this information to Torchwood, and though he doesn’t care enough and all he really wants right now is a drink, someone’s got to do something. “They’re outside.”

They move the wardrobe from the door, head for the roof. Owen still has his rifle, grabbed from a still, cold body on the airport floor. The adrenaline has taken over, he’s clear-headed for the first time in days.

.

“And you used to do this for a living?” Greg asks incredulously, when Owen is picking Them off with his rifle, and They’re just waiting, like They know something {it’s possible that They just don’t know the meaning of self-preservation}.

“Still do,” Owen reminds him, reloading.

.

“Jack, you’re, like, a member of the undead,” Owen said, sipping a hot coffee and rubbing eyes that were itchy from lack of sleep {hadn’t slept in three days, things were splintering}, “Shouldn’t you know more about this than you do?”

Tosh and Gwen and Ianto were watching, silent, desperate. Newcastle was a ghost town, Latvia was swarming with Them, the Pacific Ocean was full of floating bodies, and everyone was turning to Torchwood for answers. Answers that they didn’t have.

“I’m not undead,” Jack replied, a hint of irritation in his voice, “I’m apparently immortal. And it’s not like there’s a newsletter, anyway.”

“There ought to be,” Ianto murmured, swaying a little on his feet, “It would save time all round, wouldn’t it?”

Gwen almost smiled. Things were scary then, scary but they thought maybe they still had a chance; they had no idea how much worse it was going to get.

.

The last time they kissed, it was the day before they started the suicidal journey for London. It was acknowledged, though not spoken, that they couldn’t afford to care about each other any more. Someone had to get to Las Vegas. It didn’t matter who, in the end.

{It should have been Ianto.}

Ianto pulled away first, his eyes were still closed. He made to move, and Owen murmured wait, unbuttoning the top four buttons of Ianto’s shirt, pulling it away from his left shoulder.

“What-” Ianto began, but Owen shushed him, and bit into his skin. Ianto made a gasping sound, a moment of pain, and when Owen pulled back there was a perfect purple bruise.

“Something to remember me by, when I’m slaughtered horribly,” Owen said with something that wanted to be a laugh and really wasn’t, and Ianto kissed him again, his hands shaking hard before they fisted in Owen’s shirt.

.

Back in Vegas, in another hotel. Greg has ordered them both white boxes of Chinese takeaway, and as he eats, Owen remembers Gwen’s first day, eternity ago, the righteous indignation in her eyes. What are we doing having Chinese while a girl fights for her life? He almost chokes on a mouthful of noodles, swallows too hard. Jack couldn’t use chopsticks, Tosh always ordered the same thing on the menu, Ianto had an almost unnatural liking for prawn crackers.

“Why are people still delivering food?” he asks, to try and distract himself from the sucking terror and grief. There is no point in it. “It’s asking to get killed en route.”

Greg shrugs. He’s sat beside the boarded-up window, peering through the crack between two pieces of wood, watching the empty street.

“Want to talk about it?” Owen asks.

Greg doesn’t reply.

.

They move rooms to sleep, something on the first floor so it’ll be easier to escape if they have to. When Owen clicks the first light on, the bulb blows, and outside someone screams. Greg’s fingers graze Owen’s wrist in the dark.

“Did we do this?” he whispers.

Owen can’t tell him. He doesn’t know whether They were made by humans as an experiment, or if They really are alien. It’s possible that it no longer matters either way.

.

It was reminiscent of the days when Jack left them by choice, left with the Doctor while they lurched through days of confusion and then wound up in the Himalayas screaming at each other. Except that this time they weren’t in the Himalayas and Jack had been taken, with the probability that he couldn’t ever return.

“Do you think he’s dead?” Gwen asked, she was slipping even then {they should have noticed, should have fixed it}, eyes hollow in a face devoid of emotion.

“He’s immortal,” Ianto reminded her, voice soft, as he placed a hot mug of tea in front of her.

“That’s not necessarily a good thing,” Tosh pointed out, leaving unspoken the idea of a Jack taken over by Them but completely impossible to kill. They’d all considered it. They didn’t want to discuss it.

.

They wind up in a room with twin beds, and barricade the door with a chest of drawers. Owen tries the television when Greg is showering, there’s only one channel with nothing worth watching on it. He doesn’t know why he thought there might be news; there never is.

Greg is back in his jeans when he walks back into the main room, too-long hair dripping water over his shoulders. When he turns, Owen can’t help gasping at the scars.

“What happened?” he asks, and then answers his own question. “Skin grafts, right?”

“I used to be a lab technician,” Greg murmurs, “There was an accident.”

“I used to be a doctor,” Owen tells him, stretching out on one of the beds.

“How did you get here?” Greg asks, the beginning of a smile on his face before he pulls his t-shirt back over his head, hiding the impressive scarring from view.

“I wish I knew,” Owen mutters, closing his eyes.

.

When they finally stopped to rest, Ianto said: “she’s dead, isn’t she?”

They only had one gun between them, and it wasn’t going to be enough.

“I think so, yes.” Owen had a migraine and he pressed a hand to his face, wanting to relieve the pressure. They were sitting in a McDonald’s, long abandoned, the smell of fried, greasy food lingering. Both of them were on the point of falling asleep on the plastic tabletops.

“I hope she is,” Ianto murmured, he looked exhausted. “I don’t want her to be one of Them.”

{He didn’t want to have to kill her.}

They were silent, trying not to succumb to crushing exhaustion.

“We’ve only got one gun.” Owen finally put a voice to the creeping realisation in them both.

“Yes,” Ianto replied quietly, “Yes we have.”

.

If you’d asked him beforehand, Owen wouldn’t have said that Gwen would be the first to crack.

.

There’s a minibar in the hotel room. Owen finds it when he wakes at three in the morning, there’s a lamp on in the room because neither of them want darkness. Not right now. Possibly not ever again.

It’s mostly been raided, there’s a few chocolate bars, but Owen finds a couple of bottles in the back. He’s responsible for more than himself right now, but he’s beginning to suspect that the human race killed itself {although really no one is going to know, and the evidence is strong on both sides}.

Part of Owen wants to confess, to anyone who’ll listen, what he did to get here. But then he’d have to admit what he did to Ianto, and he can’t do that. He can’t.

He drinks what’s there, because there’s nothing else to do.

.

Of all the things that are genuinely terrifying to watch during a plane landing, the air hostess praying is one of the worst.

Owen wasn’t quite sober and hadn’t slept in longer than he wanted to admit. The man two rows in front of him was throwing up into a paper bag, the plane was shaking. And the air hostess was sitting near the back of the plane murmuring what sounded a lot like the Lord’s Prayer.

Even though it was a stupid idea and probably about to get him killed, Owen unbuckled his seat belt and made his way to a seat near the back.

“They’re in the airport, aren’t They?” he asked softly. The air hostess nodded, mascara smudged, face pale, considering herself already dead.

.

They never said it’s either you or me because that made reality too ugly and too much to bear.

Owen watched Ianto sleep with his head on a table and considered just going then and there, taking the gun and leaving Ianto to his fate. But that was the coward’s way out, and he knew that they had to stay together until it became impossible to do otherwise. Until the choice had to be made. Until there were no options left.

Owen watched Ianto sleep and tried not to remember anything at all.

.

There’s an underground garage beneath the hotel {Owen suspects he wouldn’t have been able to afford to stay here, once upon a time}, and in the morning, after a few hours of gritty sleep, Greg and Owen head down there. Greg hotwires them an SUV {he’s better at it than Owen is; after all, it’s been years since Suzie first taught him}, both of them remaining in a brittle silence. It’s uncertain how many of Them are outside, enough to matter, and Owen is not exactly… co-ordinated.

“You drive,” Owen suggests, there’s ammunition in the glove compartment and he can still shoot, winding down the window, taking a breath.

Greg drives fast, flooring the accelerator, looking straight ahead, knuckles white on the steering wheel. Owen shoots anything that gets too close to the car, but They just stand there, calm, detached. The car crashes through the crowd, knocking Them to the ground, the wheels bumping over Their bodies. Greg is shaking, but Owen can’t spare a breath to speak. The adrenaline is making him horribly sober and completely focussed.

They finally get clear, and no one is following them. Greg slows down a little, but he can’t let go of the wheel.

“I killed a man like that once,” he whispers.

.

“They’re in the Roald Dahl Plass,” Gwen said quietly, eyes on the CCTV screens. “Why are They here?”

Jack put his mug down on the desk, walking over to look at the monitors.

“Maybe They know who we are,” he suggested, hand ghosting over Gwen’s shoulder for a moment. Since Rhys had been taken, she hadn’t left the Hub more than she had to, she wasn’t sleeping, was barely eating {falling apart at the seams}. Jack watched for a few more moments.

“God,” Tosh said somewhere behind them, “I think I knew her.”

“You’re not helping!” Gwen hissed, voice shaking dangerously.

.

Sometime when television was still working, a time between Jack being stolen and Gwen giving up on them all, GMTV ran a poll. Text in: do you think the world’s ending? It seemed crass and distasteful, Gwen pointed this out with tears streaking down her cheeks; and Ianto texted five times in ten minutes and wouldn’t tell Owen which way he voted.

It seemed that an overwhelming amount of the British public believed they were all going to die very, very soon, at the hands of possessed people that weren’t people any more.

“We’re pessimistic, aren’t we?” Owen observed, as the presenters discussed the result.

“But probably right,” Ianto pointed out.

“Well, yeah.” Owen sighed. “There is that.”

.

Greg’s hands are tight on the wheel and Owen is beginning to suspect that unless he says exactly the right thing to calm the other man down, they are both going to wind up crashing into something big, and painful deaths can only follow. While it’s true that there are far worse ways to die at the moment, he has no great urge to be killed today.

“You need to slow down,” Owen begins, he’s trembling slightly and there is every chance that he is going to pass out or throw up on the dashboard. Really, he ought to be taking care of himself, considering how precarious everything is at the moment, but he really has very little sense of self-preservation {Jack pointed that out once, they laughed about it at the time}. “Greg, you need to stop the car before you kill us too.”

“I’m a murderer,” Greg says, taking his eyes off the road to stare, half-terrified, at Owen.

“Join the club,” Owen snaps {he’s insensitive to a fault, Ianto bit that into his neck, Gwen raked her nails down his back to that tune}. “And we don’t have the time for you to freak out. Stop the bloody car.”

{Part of him just wants to go faster. To make this all stop.}

.

The second time that Ianto’s breath hitched in a way that had nothing to do with arousal, Owen was seriously tempted to ask him whether he was crying, but he didn’t want to know the answer because Jack was gone and Gwen had hung herself in their basement two months ago for reasons still faintly unclear, and nothing at all was right.

They didn’t know it was the last time at the time, it was just something they both needed and Tosh was asleep in the room that used to be Jack’s. It was four a.m {and they weren’t using a condom}, and Owen’s knees left dents in the mattress, afterwards. Ianto was borderline crying on the back of his neck and they weren’t talking and it was almost too much human contact, considering.

“This is madness,” Owen mumbled some time later, with come on his thighs and Ianto had his face pressed into his hands and his mouth tight shut. “This is complete fucking madness.”

Saying it aloud didn’t make it better and they never fucked {made love} again.

.

When Greg is throwing up into a gutter, Owen sits on the hood of their car and leans his back against the windscreen. The sun is blazing and he’s wearing a dead man’s sunglasses, he found them on the back seat, and he hasn’t had a holiday in forever because it’s hard to leave Torchwood for any length of time. After a moment’s thought, he unbuttons his shirt, revels in the feel of the sun on his skin. The peace is so surreal, the world’s ending and Greg sounds in pretty bad shape and Owen is sunbathing.

“What happened?” Greg asks. Owen opens his eyes, aware he probably dozed off. He feels warm and impossibly lazy.

“To what?”

Greg is pale, but appears to be calmer. He points to the scarring on Owen’s chest, raised and white and still faintly reminiscent of teeth marks.

“Oh.” Owen shrugs. “I tried to kill myself.”

Greg looks faintly bemused, moving to sit beside Owen.

“With what?”

“A terrified and feral alien,” Owen replies {that Weevil was trying to rip him to shreds and he was only too willing to let it}.

Greg laughs; a short burst that sounds almost wrong, here, now.

“Well, you get points for being creative.”

Part Two

Tags: challenge: crossovers100, challenge: philosophy_20, character: greg sanders, character: gwen cooper, character: ianto jones, character: jack harkness, character: owen harper, character: toshiko sato, pairing: owen harper/ianto jones, pairing: owen/greg, tv show: csi, tv show: torchwood, type: crossover, type: slash
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