Pairings: Captain John/Owen, Jack/Owen [references to Jack/Ianto]
Challenge/Prompt: 5drunkfics, #5. Mistakes
Rating: PG-15 [mild smut and lots of swearing]
Word Count: 3175
Spoilers: Season 2 episode 1 Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. You’ve been warned!
Summary: He decides that his apparent obsession with men with made-up ranks, military coats, severely damaged personalities and inflated opinions of themselves is seriously unhealthy.
Author’s Notes: TOTAL CRACK. One of those stories where, once you get the idea, you want to write it, even though you know you probably shouldn’t. I just wanted to write John/Owen… it’s based around the clips currently on the BBC website because I want this to exist before canon makes my idea superfluous. So, obviously, if you read this on Wednesday and my characterisation is all wrong, that’s why! And I really don’t know where the Ianto-bashing came from, I really don’t. I also accept that John Barrowman says that Jack’ll be nicer this series… I just don’t really care.
Ianto, when it comes to Jack, is all about being obedient. He doesn’t question, he doesn’t argue, he spent the entire duration of Jack’s Significant Absence straightening the papers on Jack’s desk, ignoring the fact that there was a distinct possibility that Jack wouldn’t bother coming back at all. He was also very pointed in his refusal to get involved in the group bitching sessions that took place at least once a week (which mostly involved everyone sitting around drinking inadvisable substances, and sharing variations on that stupid, selfish sod, I’ll kill him when he gets back. And then I’ll kill him again. And then you can have a go).
“Jesus,” Owen told him once, “You just kick yourself in the balls, really, don’t you?”
Ianto just looked at him like his blind faith in a bastard who’d already proven he wasn’t to be trusted was something to be proud of.
Needless to say, Owen is anything but obedient when it comes to their captain. So he doesn’t react the way he ought to, with glares and guns and desperate hostility, when Jack wanders cheerfully back into their lives. Ianto looks like a piece of paper that’s been crumpled up and spread out again, and Gwen and Tosh don’t seem to be able to decide between anger and relief. Owen thinks he might be too bitter to work out how he feels, and then he thinks that maybe the breakdown he wouldn’t let himself have when Jack first vanished is starting to make itself felt.
Which almost goes towards explaining why he’s sitting here at a bar where he doesn’t want to be downing shots he doesn’t want to drink. Tosh has called him six times, Gwen four. Ianto is maintaining a silence, as always, but Owen is beginning to suspect that their glorified teaboy (Fish-Head sort of had a point; Owen is saving that as ammunition for their next argument) doesn’t know the real reason they’re fighting. And Owen is hardly going to tell him.
He doesn’t know if Captain John Hart made Captain Jack Harkness, or if it was the other way around. Either way, John is like Jack with all the stops pulled out, and Owen finds himself wondering if Jack used to be like that. Amoral and beautiful and convinced there was nothing about the universe he couldn’t own if he went the right way about it. Owen used to think that Jack was the epitome of inappropriate and self-absorbed; but he pales in comparison to this newcomer, whose selfishness strays over the line into megalomania.
Jack has charisma so potent that there’s probably no one alive who could resist. But John; oh, Jesus, Owen privately thinks that the dead could get turned on if John sent the right look in their direction. And then, as he downs another shot, he decides that his apparent obsession with men with made-up ranks, military coats, severely damaged personalities and inflated opinions of themselves is seriously unhealthy. Not to mention masochistic.
His empty shot glass clicks as he manages to put it back on the bar, licking alcohol from cracking lips. The woman beside him is watching him with mild interest, mascara ever so slightly smudged around large brown eyes. She has a lot of blonde hair and before Diane, before Bilis Manger, before Jack fucking off, he’d already be offering to buy her a drink. Now, he just stares pointedly at the slightly sticky surface of the bar, and tries to remember exactly when he decided this would be a good idea. It’s probable he didn’t, and he just wound up here on autopilot.
“So,” she begins, apparently not one to be repelled by Owen’s general expression of conflicted bitterness.
“Look, love, just… no, ok?” Owen used to be good at letting people down with a cruel smile. Not any more. Once upon a time, he had a little bit of charm to help him cover up the flaws in his personality, but that disappeared along with Jack.
She scowls at him.
“Bastard,” she mutters, sliding off her barstool and wandering away.
You have no idea, Owen thinks, and orders another drink.
“Was she bothering you?”
Owen tries to tell himself that he’s got drunk enough to start hallucinating – or maybe blondie slipped rohypnol into his last shot or something – but the chances are that this is depressing, horrible, screwed-up reality, always worse than the trippiest of visions.
Captain John Fucking Hart is sitting beside him, a bemused expression on that angular face. He gives no explanation as to why he’s here, and Owen decides he won’t ask because he doesn’t actually want to know.
“Was she bothering you?” John repeats. “‘Cause I could take her out the back and kill her, if you want.”
Owen puts his head on the bar and doesn’t say anything at all. He’s not quite drunk enough for this, but he’s still incapacitated enough to realise he can’t hold a straight, sensible conversation. Although there is something about John that makes having a normal sort of conversation impossible.
“Please go away,” he mumbles, before his brain lights up and sparks and comes up with a completely not sensible suggestion.
“Don’t think I will,” John replies brightly. “I like you British, always so polite. Could’ve just told me to fuck off, but you didn’t.”
Owen makes a soft, strangled noise, and raises his head. “That accent, and you’re not British?”
John shrugs his shoulders under that entirely inappropriate coat.
“Not even close.”
It’s like talking to Jack, but at least Jack looks apologetic when he’s being frustratingly cryptic and refusing to give straight answers. John just looks like he’s having all kinds of fun. Owen has seriously had enough of mysterious men with hidden pasts and a willingness to shag anything as long as it’s breathing (well, that’s Jack’s criteria. He suspects that John’s is even less discerning) coming along and cocking his life up.
“Go bother Ianto,” Owen says dismissively. “He’s easier than I am.”
“Not what Jack tells me,” John replies, leaning too close and Owen hates him, he fucking hates him. “Doesn’t matter, of course.”
“It doesn’t?” Owen asks.
“Nah.” John’s arm is resting on the bar, and he moves it a few inches over, fingers closing tightly around Owen’s wrist. “Go on, then, pull away.” He leans forward, dropping his voice. “Hit me, tell me you’re not that sort of boy.”
His eyes are very, very blue, but not the blue of summer skies like Jack’s, but the blue of oceans that are far too deep and will pull you under at any minute. Owen curls his fingers into a fist, but doesn’t move.
“Ah.” John’s mouth curls into a nasty, nasty smile. “What do we have here then.”
Owen realises that he’s definitely hit rock bottom. This occurs to him somewhere around the time it sinks in that shagging Jack’s ex-whatever in some vague attempt to feel better about Jack’s disappearing act isn’t rebellious or cruel; it’s just desperate. Sad, pathetic, and a level of desperation that even Ianto wouldn’t sink to. And Owen knows this, because Ianto has gone home to weep into his no-doubt meticulously anally ironed bedsheets, while Owen is the one with his legs wrapped around Captain John Hart’s waist. It is wrong and he should probably make some kind of effort to make it stop; but it’s kind of too late now. He’s caught in the middle of an embarrassingly awful situation, and there’s no way of backing out now.
John laughs, a low, breathy sound crushed against the curve of Owen’s neck.
“Bloody introspective,” he mutters, with a push of his hips that makes Owen groan, in spite of his better judgement. “Are you like this with Jack?”
Owen digs his fingernails into John’s back, doing his best not to think of Jack right now because it’ll make a stupid and fucked-up situation even worse.
“I’m not shagging Jack,” he hisses.
John stills, momentary confusion flickering across his face.
“You haven’t fucked him yet?” He sounds almost comically surprised.
Owen shifts his hips in the hope John will get the message that during ill-advised and kind of drunken sex, you’re not supposed to stop for a conversation. John ignores it.
“So he’s not screwing all of you?”
“No.” Owen shuts his eyes, trying to stop the anger and frustration spilling out. “Just Ianto. Well, and Suzie, but she shot herself.”
“Poor sod. You have no idea what you’re missing.”
Actually, Owen thinks he has a pretty damn good idea what he’s missing (Ianto hasn’t got the hang of properly erasing CCTV footage yet, and Jack has never exactly been modest), but he doesn’t point this out because he doesn’t want to add potentially voyeuristic masochistic fucker to his list of personality flaws. John’s already got a lifetime’s worth of blackmail material on him, and that’s more than enough to be getting on with.
He sucks a breath in through his teeth.
“If you’re doing this to prove a point, you’re not proving it very well.” Things can’t get worse, Owen can’t make them worse by pushing. He’s so drunk that being fucked by a violent sociopath makes almost logical sense, though the worst part is that tomorrow, even if no one brings it up, Jack is going to know. The man is damn near omniscient at times, and doubly so when it comes to sex.
“I thought you were the one proving a point,” John replies almost casually, displaying an understanding that Owen doesn’t want him to have, and slams into him so hard that Owen actually can’t see for a minute.
“Bastard,” he grits out, resisting the urge to leave scratches on John’s shoulders because that’s such a fucking cliché, and John starts laughing again, the sound ugly and pressed too close. Owen thinks that he kisses him to shut him up, there are too many teeth involved and it shouldn’t feel as good as it does.
It’s horrible, because this is a stupid mistake and the repercussions are going to be even more unbearable, and Owen knows all this, and he’s still sort of enjoying himself regardless.
This is fucking sick.
John is wearing nothing but his coat and gun holsters, and so Owen is staring fixedly at the ceiling, because he will not exacerbate things by being so stupid as to look at this practically naked unreasonably good-looking man.
Jack’s coat shouldn’t be nearly as sexy as it is; it’s ridiculously long, and, ok, so it billows in an interesting way even when there isn’t any wind at all (and other people wonder why the team are half-convinced that Jack is actually a superhero), but on anyone else it would look bloody stupid. John’s coat, on the other hand, is utterly filthy in all sorts of disturbing ways, possibly it’s the gold braid across the front. John’s military coat is tighter, shorter, and redder than Jack’s, and for some reason that makes all the difference.
“Go away,” Owen mumbles, pushing the heels of his hands against his eyes. He’s sticky in all sorts of nasty and disconcerting ways, and he’s going to be so damn hungover tomorrow.
John ignores him. “You know, maybe I should get my own harem of sycophantic little worshippers,” he muses, wandering over to go through Owen’s wardrobe.
“We’re Jack’s team,” Owen tries to correct him, “We don’t-”
“Harem, team… same difference,” John interrupts. “At least, if you’re anything to go by.”
Owen groans, and rolls over, pushing his head into his pillow and idly wondering if he goes to sleep, he might wake up and find out that this didn’t happen.
“First good idea Jack’s had in ages,” John continues, apparently oblivious to the fact Owen just wants him out of his flat, and he wanted him out five minutes ago. “Might do it myself, when I get the hell out of here.” He turns around to look at Owen with something that is probably meant to be a charming smile, but it’s too wolfish for any kind of comfort. “Want to join me?”
“I’m Jack’s,” Owen responds before he can think his answer through properly. Oh, he should never hold conversations while shitfaced. “Besides, you’re way too much of a cunt.”
John laughs, and his teeth glitter like Jack’s do. “Tell me which way I’m worse than your precious Jackie-boy.” Owen opens his mouth, and then hesitates. “Go on.”
“Oh, seriously, fuck off,” Owen groans, because he knows he can’t answer.
John knows it too. It’s in the smirk that plays around his mouth as he starts trying to find out what happened to his clothes.
A fortnight later. John is gone, and they’re all still so tired. It’s a Thursday night and they don’t win every battle and Owen is drinking his way through a bottle of scotch he found in the archives earlier (God knows who put it there; maybe their teaboy is suffering more than he’s letting on, for he is the Master of Repression and all that).
“Hello,” Jack says too brightly, dragging Tosh’s vacant chair over to sit beside Owen.
“Leave me alone,” Owen murmurs without all that much conviction, pouring himself another shot and getting it all over his paperwork. Again. Ianto won’t be happy, but then the man is unforgivably whiny at the moment, it won’t make all that much difference in the general scheme of things.
“You’re drinking alone in the Hub in the early hours of the morning,” Jack informs him, “That’s definitely a cry for help. Or attention.”
“It’s not a cry for anything,” Owen mutters. “Fuck off.”
“Nice to see you’re as charming as ever,” Jack replies calmly. It’s damn near impossible to get his back up, he’s so steadfastly bemused. Owen hates it.
“I don’t want to do this, ok?” Owen snaps.
“You might as well let me have it,” Jack tells him. “Otherwise you’ll just let it build up, and then you’ll shoot me. Again.”
“All right,” Owen sighs. He presses his lips together, trying to find words that will make him sound reasonable and rational, and not at all like a whiny ex-girlfriend (or Ianto). “What the fuck was so bloody important that you had to run off without even leaving a sodding post-it note?”
It’s the question Ianto can’t ask, the question Tosh won’t ask, the question Gwen isn’t sure she wants the answer to. But Owen has always been the one to voice what the others have kept repressed, because his sense of self-preservation is distinctly left-of-centre.
“… I wish I could tell you,” Jack says eventually. He actually looks like he’s telling the truth, as he reaches over to take the scotch bottle and Owen’s glass, pouring himself a generous measure of alcohol.
Owen laughs bitterly.
“Nothing’s changed, has it?” He sighs. “This is always the way it’s going to be. We killed you, you left, you came back and you’re still the way you always were. It’s never going to be any different.”
Jack shrugs, swallowing the glass down in one go. Although he’s always pretended to be a teetotaller, he seems practised at heavy drinking. Still, no one’s sure exactly how long he’s been hanging around this world, driving himself insane. Owen drags the bottle back, scowling, drinks straight from the neck as Jack has stolen the glass that was giving this whole enterprise more respectability. Well, a little more, anyway.
“You done?” Jack asks, after there’s a moment of silence. Owen nods. He doesn’t feel better for having said his piece, and Jack doesn’t look at all guilty. He never does. Owen blames this on the team’s reluctance to impress upon him how scary and fucked-up life got in his absence.
Jack is watching him, a thoughtful expression on his face. “Wanna tell me just why you thought fucking John would be a good idea?”
…And this is his punishment for opening his mouth. For every accusation he can throw Jack’s way, Jack can throw one right back. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, all that shit.
“Could ask you the same thing,” Owen replies, aware that he’s being backed into a verbal corner.
“No,” Jack replies, taking the scotch back. “Face up to your own screw-ups. Tell me what the hell you think you were doing.”
“I was drunk. He was wearing that coat,” Owen shrugs.
“You’re going to pretend it was that simple?” Jack asks, looking slightly amused underneath the pale, glittering fury that they’re both ignoring for fear of what it could lead to.
Jack laughs, the sound soft and bitter and dangerous.
“You’re being more passive-aggressive than Ianto,” he mutters, sliding the scotch back across the desk.
Owen takes a drink before he replies:
“You should be nicer to him. He thinks he’s in love with you.”
That certainly knocks the smug expression off Jack’s face and Owen reflects that when this all goes tits-up he can at least say he won that one.
“He’ll learn otherwise,” Jack sighs.
Owen watches him, licking scotch off his lips.
“Are all time agents as fucked up and crazy and you and John are?”
“Pretty much.” Jack offers him a brief grin. “But you’re not really in a position to judge, are you?”
Owen resists the urge to say you made me like this, because it’s a lie, and he doesn’t want to give Jack any more ammunition against him.
“Screwing my ex, glaring at me all the time, drinking yourself into a stupor because I won’t give you straight answers… let me hazard a really immodest guess here, and say it’s all about me.” Jack is staring at him with those penetrating blue eyes, and Owen fucking hates him.
“Don’t flatter yourself,” he spits, and all that does is confirm Jack’s suspicion. Owen’s got to get better at this. He should be better at the mind games, but he’s not.
“You’re wrong, you know,” Jack tells him, pulling the scotch back over to his side of the desk, the bottle is emptying worryingly fast.
“About which part?” Owen asks, though he’d rather not know. He really, really, seriously doesn’t want to know.
“I have changed,” Jack says. “It’s just that I’m never going to want you. Ok?”
The razor slash of words makes Owen suck a breath in through his teeth. Jack really can be the cruellest of bastards when he wants to be, and presumably he doesn’t think Owen deserves the charming letdown he’s almost definitely going to bestow on Ianto. Maybe Owen forfeited the right to any sort of kindness when he let Captain John Hart kiss him for all the wrong reasons in a crowded Cardiff bar. Maybe this time, he’s finally gone too far.
“Turn out the lights out when you leave,” Jack adds, picking up the bottle and taking it with him as he walks back towards his office.
Owen doesn’t say anything at all. There’s nothing to say, not any more.