Copyright: Title is a quote from “Othello” (the Shakespeare play, yes. I did it for AS level last year, as some of you might have noticed)
Summary: Ianto can feel Owen watching him through the shelves of archive room 12-C.
Author’s Notes: This was going to be for johanirae, who draws the most wonderfully charged pictures of Owen watching Ianto filing. Except it got a bit angry and angsty and I don’t think she’ll like it. So it’s for her if she wants it and not for her if she doesn’t. I haven’t written hate!sex in forever, it’s quite exciting. Anyway, I’ve finished rambling incoherently. On with the archive!smut.
Ianto can feel Owen watching him through the shelves of archive room 12-C. Oh, Owen is being admirably quiet and uncharacteristically stealthy; and there are so many files crammed together on every shelf that Ianto technically can’t see anyone at all, but it doesn’t matter because he knows that Owen is there. Not saying anything. Not doing anything. Just watching through the cracks between the folders.
This started when Jack left. Vanished straight out of the Hub and left them still piecing together the damage Abadon had created. Jack wasn’t gone all that long – just long enough for Ianto’s heart to break and then for him to get over the faintly unsettling grin of his leader – but he came back with a strange edge to him. He still won’t say where he went, no matter how many different ways Gwen tries to get it out of him.
But in the time Jack was missing Ianto found Owen watching him with narrowed eyes, on a basis regular enough to worry him slightly. He assumed it was because Owen wanted to get even, so was trying to find a way to shoot him and make it look like an accident (Ianto secretly wore a Kevlar vest underneath his suit for a fortnight). Then, when no bullets were forthcoming, just more stony-eyed glares, Ianto began to wonder if Owen was planning some really, really disturbing form of revenge.
He didn’t even begin to think it was something else entirely until a very drunk Tosh let something slip, late on Friday night. They were drinking in the Hub, for lack of anything else to do, spilling alcohol all over the paperwork Ianto hadn’t got around to filing yet. Ianto had been recounting the latest blazing row he and Owen had had. He was complaining about how generally obnoxious Owen was, and how unfair it was that the majority of Owen’s foul personality got directed at him, a well-worn rant. Tosh, speaking as though it were obvious, and Ianto was stupid for not figuring it out yet, said: “he only acts up because he wants to shag you”.
At the time, Ianto put it down to the fact Tosh was out of her head, though over the next few days, he couldn’t help noticing that Owen’s glares were considerably less vengeful than he’d originally assumed them to be. It was a disconcerting thought, that Owen, who apparently had hated Ianto from first sight, didn’t exactly hate him in a logical way. Of course, there is the fact that Owen is similar to Jack in that he’ll sleep with anything if he gets bored enough, or if it stands still for longer than three minutes. In fact, in many ways, Owen is really only a military title and some dental work away from being their boss.
And that thought doesn’t comfort Ianto at all, as he carefully adds Tosh’s latest Rift report to the relevant file. Everything is quiet at the moment – almost too quiet. Even the Weevils seem to be keeping their distance, or at least are getting better at not killing innocent people in an unbelievably conspicuous way. Ianto fully expects a full-scale apocalypse to arrive at any minute, to punish them for getting complacent. Besides, when aliens aren’t trying to kill them every other day, it leaves them all with too much time on their hands. Torchwood Three doesn’t idle well. Jack spends his days brooding either in his office or on the roof of the Millennium Centre; Tosh starts playing with the computer network in a way destined to end in tears and power outages; Gwen spends most of her time bickering with her boyfriend on Torchwood’s phonebill; and as for Owen…
Well, Owen is watching Ianto cross-reference the archives.
Some days this job is so insane and uncomfortable that Ianto can’t help wondering why he hasn’t just shot himself or quit already. If Suzie and Lisa and the disturbed cannibal villagers and Owen’s meltdown and Abadon weren’t enough, then Jack leaving and reappearing months later looking completely unconcerned about the fact they’d all been going crazy without him, and not even wanting to pick up where they left off (ok, so Ianto didn’t want to, but Jack could at least have tried to make a move on him) would be enough to break the strongest of men completely.
These days, Ianto is no longer close to anything resembling ‘strong’. He is functioning and breathing and coming into work every day only because he’s afraid that if he stops he’ll fall right off the edge and never be able to climb up and get started again.
Ianto is tired, and he is angry with everyone he knows, and all he really wants to do is find somewhere quiet and to hide there until all of this shit goes away, or at least represses itself into something so small that it doesn’t really matter anymore. Sadly, all he’s got are papercuts all over his fingers, a shirt permeated with the smell of spilt coffee, dust all over his suit, and a man he can barely tolerate lusting after him for no discernable reason. They really don’t pay me enough, Ianto muses. Still, he knows that he’s got to do something, before he loses it and attempts to bash Owen’s head in against a filing cabinet. He’ll never get the blood out of his trousers, for one thing.
“While I understand that stalking is a well-respected and popular Torchwood tradition,” Ianto begins slowly, “There must be something better that you could be doing. Tormenting other people, for example. Doing creative things with alien entrails. Date-raping impressionable young women with the aid of pheromones. Brainwashing Weevils. You know, the things that you normally do for fun. The things that take place a long, long way away from here.”
Even though he’d really rather not, he walks around the shelves to where Owen is leant against several boxes containing all the details of the 1967 Gryan Invasion.
“Who says I’m stalking you?” The lighting down here is unbelievably ugly, starkly highlighting all the flaws in Owen’s angular face. He’s got a confrontational expression that Ianto can see right through, to the awkwardness beneath.
“What do you call watching someone filing for an hour?” Ianto demands.
Something about Owen has always bothered him, perhaps because Owen has so many similarities to Jack that it’s bordering on worrying, but he doesn’t have the charisma to carry them off. Some days, he’s barely human, and other days he’s so unbelievably human that Ianto can hardly stand to look at him. There’s nothing reassuring about Owen. He’s all edges and angles, from his jutting cheekbones to his personality flaws. At least Ianto could pretend from time to time that Jack knew how to save him.
“Why the hell would I want to stalk you?” Owen asks incredulously, neatly avoiding Ianto’s question. He lost a lot of weight when Jack was gone and he was trying (and failing) to hold the team together, and he hasn’t managed to gain it back yet. He’s worryingly skinny, as though he could snap if pushed too hard. And Ianto tells himself that that thought is not tempting at all.
“Because you’re bored and I exist,” Ianto explains tiredly. “Because Gwen has enough sense not to want to go near you, and you’re afraid that Tosh cares too much about you, and Jack is too unattainable. Process of elimination.”
Owen’s expression gets angrier, though Ianto thinks that he has no right to get this furious when confronted by nothing but simple truth.
“It’s better than you,” he snarls, “Fucking anyone who’ll touch you because you’re so bloody desperate to be acknowledged.”
There are enough grains of truth in the words for them to sting. Still, Ianto learned months ago not to let Owen see that he gets to him.
“Which makes you different from me how exactly?” he asks, making all the effort he can to keep his voice steady. He’s got nothing but the upper hand and if he loses that then he’s mildly doomed.
“It makes us different because at least I wasn’t shagging Jack and kidding myself that he actually gave a damn about me,” Owen snarls. He’s always had the wonderful ability to hit someone right where it actually hurts, and Ianto decides that if Owen uses the word “teaboy” again he is going to shoot him properly, and this time he won’t miss.
“At least I bloody did something,” he points out, tone cold and only trembling slightly, “Rather than sitting around obsessing like a pathetic little lovesick schoolgirl.”
It seems that the word ‘pathetic’ is Owen’s breaking point. Ianto files that away for future reference (and abuse) as Owen’s face twists.
“Oh, I’ll fucking show you ‘something’,” he hisses, and for a moment it really is ambiguous as to whether he’s going to kiss Ianto or break his nose. Ianto, for his part, is planning on punching Owen in the face right up until the point where he doesn’t.
Misery was never a good enough motive, and neither was missing Jack so much that it ached, and neither was the sheer indifference that Ianto felt steeped in when whatever it was that he’d felt for Jack died out. But anger is good, and anger really could be enough to tip the balance. After all, it’s white-hot fury that makes Owen back Ianto into the shelves so hard that they tremble ominously. Ianto is tempted to tell Owen that if he causes an avalanche of paper, he will kill him. But he doesn’t. He just stands there, tensed all over, with Owen’s hands tight on his shoulders, and wonders exactly which way this situation is going to implode.
He only acts up because he wants to shag you.
There is no CCTV in the archives. Ianto is sure that there ought to be. It would prevent ridiculous situations like this one arising, for example. Owen would be able to watch the camera feed from his desk, for one thing, and for another, Jack or Tosh or Gwen or someone would see the fact everything’s going crazy and that he and Owen are this close to doing something unforgivable, and then they would come down and make it stop.
As it is, Ianto finds himself incapable of diffusing the tension. Owen is looking at him with nothing but dark want in his eyes, and that is mad and stupid because Owen was never supposed to become Torchwood’s Most Fucked-Up Employee. Ianto always assumed that rather dubious honour belonged to him, or perhaps it was awarded posthumously to Suzie.
This is very and deeply wrong and he has no idea how to make it not happen. So, instead, Ianto does the only thing he can do: follow standard Torchwood protocol, and make it a thousand times worse.
“Well?” he demands, glaring at Owen, who is breathing raggedly and seems to be frozen on the edge of a decision. “Is it all just fucking talk with you?”
Winding up Owen works instantaneously, and the next second Ianto’s mouth is crushed in a kiss that has far too many teeth and a little too much anger in it. Ianto is fairly sure that Owen has no reason to be angry with him (except for the bullet in his shoulder and the attack from the Cyberwoman and a thousand and one barbed words over the last year, and if Owen’s still clinging onto those then he’s pettier than Ianto ever thought he was), but nonetheless he takes it, gives it back tenfold.
Ianto gets a hand free, tangling his fingers in the back of Owen’s hair, pulling him closer. He can’t work out why he isn’t punching the man, because he really ought to be. Owen might be taking the whole desperate-kissing-up-against-the-shelves thing as encouragement, and Ianto learned early on in his Torchwood Three career that encouraging Owen is never a good idea. Let him get away with something once, and he’ll only do it again. And Owen is obviously getting the wrong impression, unclenching his hands from Ianto’s shoulders and sliding them down to grip Ianto’s hips so tight that there’ll be bruising tomorrow, and Ianto has got to let go and explain to Owen all the reasons why this is stupid and why it won’t ever happen again.
The words come out kind of mangled and he realises it’s because he’s trying to say them into Owen’s mouth, where they’re instantly lost and Owen makes an answering sort of groaning sound that means nothing at all. This is not good. Ianto is supposed to be the responsible one. He is supposed to be the one with the helpfully categorised list of all the reasons why this mustn’t happen. He is not supposed to forget eighteen months of antipathy just because Owen’s mouth is wet and warm and insistent and not nearly as repellent as Ianto would have believed. Ianto catches Owen’s lower lip between his teeth for a moment and pulls too hard at his hair and none of this is getting things back to normal.
Oh, who the hell is he kidding?
Things are never normal here anyway. And Ianto can always blame it on temporary insanity or pheromones or alien possession or any one of those convenient things that always seem to plague Torchwood Three whenever team members make stupid decisions. That’s one of the perks of the job – having exceedingly good excuses. So this is a bad idea. It doesn’t matter. Ianto has made worse ones and at least with this one it’s highly unlikely that anyone’s going to end up dead tomorrow, just because Owen’s mouth appears to be trying to devour his and Ianto is making no effort at all to stop him. The worst that can happen is that tomorrow they find it impossible to look each other in the eye, and that’s ok, because it’s not like things haven’t been awkward since… well, forever.
With this in mind, Ianto relaxes a little, feeling the edge of a shelf dig into his spine in a way that is ridiculously painful, and not even caring. To give Owen his due, he’s pretty good at this. Ianto lets his head thunk back against the shelf, and wonders vaguely if Owen’s only good at this because he’s done it too many times before. He’s willing to bet that Owen and Gwen amused themselves down here at some point during that ill-advised-but-nonetheless-entertaining-f
Except that Gwen’s not here right now, is she, and Ianto thinks that Owen wouldn’t have touched Gwen like this anyway, and Owen is slowly but methodically tugging Ianto’s shirt out of his trousers, which is distracting enough for Ianto to forget all about their teammate and focus purely on the movement of Owen’s only-slightly-trembling hands. Ianto himself is holding Owen tight against him, so hard he can feel every ragged breath Owen attempts to take, all the places where Owen is unreasonably skinny.
He makes a very strange little sound when Owen’s hands finally make it onto the skin beneath his shirt. It’s highly embarrassing and Ianto hopes that Owen is too distracted to pay much attention. This isn’t going to change things and Ianto knows only too well that Owen will have no qualms at all about bringing this up at an inconvenient time, throwing every slight slip-up and weakness into an argument in a few weeks’ time. It wasn’t like this with Jack. Ianto couldn’t trust him, but at least he knew that Jack wanted the contact, wanted him. There is no logical reason as to why Owen is doing this and no logical reason as to why Ianto is letting him, and Owen’s fingers are surprisingly cold when they wrap around his cock.
Ianto thinks he chokes on his own breath and he pulls away from the kiss, burying his face in Owen’s shoulder.
“Jesus,” Owen mumbles, and, simultaneously, they both see the sheer stupidity of this situation. Ianto does his best not to laugh, though, because it won’t make this easier on either of them.
“You started this,” he snarls into Owen’s ear, “You can bloody well finish it.”
Owen replies with a rough tug of his hand; Ianto hisses, and bites Owen’s shoulder through his t-shirt. It’s mad, it won’t help anything, and all he’s really doing is providing Owen with future blackmail material (which is never a good thing), but for some strange reason none of these downsides are enough to make Ianto want to stop. He remembers Owen trying to beat him to a pulp over a folder of blueprints, desperate and frightened and they were all over each other in a way that wasn’t actually necessary, and it occurs to Ianto that maybe all this is is an entirely new kind of fighting, one with bruises in different places but twice as many furious looks.
Ianto wonders vaguely if maybe there’s something in the water that makes them all completely and disgracefully indiscriminate when it comes to sleeping with co-workers.
“We should probably have got this out of our systems months ago,” he murmurs into Owen’s neck, digging in a thumb beneath Owen’s ribs just to make him hiss. Owen’s teeth scrape against his jaw, he really is all bones and sharp angles and he’s not Jack and maybe that’s a relief, when it comes down to it. But then again, it really isn’t.
“Better late than never?” Owen suggests. Ianto thinks, with perfect clarity, we shouldn’t be doing this, and kisses Owen again before he says it aloud. Owen’s teeth catch his lower lip, his hand is moving almost too fast and Ianto digs his nails into Owen’s hip, scraping just enough to make it hurt. And then his hand slides down a little more, feeling the heat of Owen’s skin through the worn denim of his Levi’s. That’s all Owen is now: skinny as hell and burning hot to the touch.
Ianto pushes Owen away from him, and, using some of those lovely techniques Jack once taught him about fighting dirty and therefore always winning, twists Owen right round and pushes him face-first into the wall. Owen makes a helpless little sound as all the air is forced out of his chest, but he doesn’t struggle. His forehead thunks against the bricks and he remains silent, waiting. The obedience would almost be sexy, if Ianto actually gave a damn.
From his Torchwood One training, his Torchwood Three training, watching Jack in action, and having some creatively sadistic thoughts while tidying up the team’s eternal mess, Ianto has learnt to kill someone in forty-seven distinctly different ways. For some mad reason, he wants to tell Owen this, Owen who looks so frustratingly fragile from behind. Owen is many things but fragile has never been one of them and Ianto hates him for the skinniness, the exhaustion, the way he willingly submits as Ianto tugs Owen’s wallet out of his back pocket, finds the ubiquitous condom, and tosses the rest of it to the floor.
A lot of things broke in those endless, Jackless months. Ianto doesn’t want to think that maybe Owen was one of them. But then Owen has always been tattered around the edges, making the obvious, desperate decisions and reacting to everything else with violence. It’s part of the reason that Ianto has never liked him.
Owen’s belt clangs unpleasantly on the floor when Ianto tugs it off, the buckle ringing on the concrete where it hits. Owen’s jeans practically fall down by themselves, they’re too big now but Ianto refuses to notice that because then he might feel inclined to stop and this whole thing really is mad.
“Well?” Owen looks back over his shoulder, swollen mouth twisted in a sort of smirk that makes Ianto want to punch him. “What’re you going to do now, Ianto?”
The ‘Ianto’ has a sort of teasing inflection on it and it’s enough to wipe most coherent thoughts clean away.
“I’m going to fuck you,” he returns with calm certainty, and does not add God help you if you try to put up any sort of a fight. He doesn’t have to. Owen’s eyes are glittering with something like triumph and he splays his fingers on the concrete wall. He watches Ianto unwrap the condom and slide it on, sucking his lower lip into his mouth, the bad lighting adding all sorts of shadows to his angular face.
“Well, show me what you’ve got, teaboy.” There’s a challenge in Owen’s words, but Ianto knows that this is what he came down here for, what he’s been waiting for with those narrow-eyed stares. He’s not going to let ‘teaboy’ go, though, and he pushes Owen’s legs apart with determined hands, and slams in hard enough to make Owen shout against the concrete.
“The next time you call me that, I’m going to kill you,” Ianto warns him, as Owen spreads his legs wider and laughs only a little shakily.
“Excuse me if I’m not terrified, you’re a crap shot.”
On his next brutal thrust, Ianto makes sure to catch Owen’s prostate dead-on, just to prove a point. Control is rapidly slipping away from him, so is logical, he wants to find something insulting or maybe just desperate to hiss at Owen, but his mind is too focused on the movement of Owen’s hips as he thrusts back at Ianto, whatever this was supposed to be it isn’t any more. That’s the problem with these poorly-defined desperate situations; they so often shift and get out of hand and for a moment, fucking Owen into the wall with a viciousness that never used to be part of his character until Jack left and a whole lot of ugly things became second nature, Ianto wonders if maybe this is some kind of competition, and has the horrible suspicion that he hasn’t won.
“Did you ever shag Jack like this?” Owen asks almost conversationally, though his breathing is ragged and his whole body is shaking.
“No,” Ianto replies. “I liked Jack.”
He really did, he thinks vaguely, gripping Owen’s hips hard enough to leave inappropriate bruises, but things got torn and left behind and now he doesn’t like anyone. Not really. He tolerates, because he has to, but everything’s colourless but for the red of an anger that’s never going to go away, is it.
Owen is laughing, actually fucking laughing, but Ianto consoles himself with the fact he’s really going to ache in the morning, and he pushes once more, hard enough to make Owen shiver and come with a gasp of something that Ianto might have started out as his name, before Owen changed his mind and turned it into a strangled groan. Ianto bites Owen’s shoulder through his t-shirt a moment or two later, refusing to make a sound because this isn’t his mistake. He pulls out abruptly enough to make Owen moan, but Ianto’s legs don’t feel strong enough to keep him upright and he finds himself hoping that some kind of giant and homicidal alien will attack somewhere around now so he will be spared the awkwardness of the… after.
“Are you happy now?” he asks, throat raw and it takes a while to figure out how to do up all the buttons again and all he wants to do is lie down in a corner for a while and forget.
“I’m ok.” Owen gives him a weird, sort of lopsided smile, and his t-shirt is utterly ruined. Ianto can’t summon up the energy or the inclination to care. “It could be worse.”
Ianto only doesn’t have a headache through sheer force of will. He sighs, wondering just how awkward they can both make this over the next few weeks, and consoles himself that at least there’s no form of incriminating video footage. He doesn’t look at Owen, instead he turns back to the small pile of paperwork still waiting to be put in its rightful places.
“We’re not doing this again,” he says. Owen is shuffling around, reclaiming his belongings.
“Fair enough.” He doesn’t sound convinced and Ianto doesn’t feel entirely certain either. He thought it was just a one-time thing with Jack, to help them both calm down after Suzie’s psychopathic resurrection. And look how well that turned out.
He only acts up because he wants to shag you.
It occurs to Ianto that he really has no idea how Owen feels about him.
“Oh, one more thing.” Owen pauses at the door, raising an enquiring eyebrow. “Promise me you’ll never tell me why.”
Owen laughs, a short, cynically amused sound, and walks away without saying anything at all. Ianto sighs, not entirely sure what just happened and wondering if it actually matters. It’s probably been building for months anyway.
A few minutes later, old expense forms in his hands, Ianto realises that although he’s exhausted and a little bitter and slightly confused too, he is, for the first time in nearly a year, not angry.
It makes a nice change.