Pairing: Owen/Ianto [implied Jack/Ianto]
Word Count: 3725 (in two hours! Go me!)
Spoilers: 2x01 Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.
Summary: Ianto drives Owen home. [non-spoilery summary! Woo!]
Author’s Notes: ‘Cause I wanted to. An experiment with a slightly different O/I dynamic than the one I’ve created, though no less angsty. Besides, how much Jack/Ianto is going to come out of that episode? So here’s my contribution to evening it all out. Welcome to the new series and all :D
"So," Owen says in a conversational sort of tone, "We sent John away through the Rift."
"Yep," Ianto agrees neutrally, trying not to notice as Jack and Gwen walk away from the damp car park too far ahead of the rest of them.
"So tonight's events might have changed slightly, because we're here now."
Ianto isn't entirely sure what happened; this is Tosh's area of expertise, and she's tagging after Jack and Gwen with a glowing blue device of some kind. No one to ask. Once again, they'll have to make up their own science.
"Yep," he says again, because it sort of makes sense (and that's always been good enough; start looking too deep, and your brain feels a little like it wants to implode).
"So why am I still shot?" Owen finishes, tone practically a bark of pain.
"Because the universe fucking hates you, Owen Harper?" he suggests.
Owen lets out a short, sharp laugh, and then pretends he hasn't. "You're very funny, Ianto," he mutters, though he's shaking ridiculously hard, stumbling every other step. Ianto supposes that's an unfortunate side effect of being shot in the side; Owen really isn't having much luck with guns this year, is he?
"Are you ok?" he asks, though he almost wishes he could just go back to ignoring Owen and resenting him half the time. They've inevitably spent too much time looking out for each other, it's impossible to reach neutrality again.
"Yeah." Owen gives him an unconvincing smile, it's got too many teeth in it.
"Come on," Ianto sighs, and Owen falls into his side like he's just been waiting for the invitation. Ianto half-drags, half-carries Owen in the direction of their cars, the way he's done too many times before. Owen falling apart, miserable and drunk, Owen wounded and angry about it; the last few months haven't been easy, though they'll never tell Jack that. Not ever. He's got to think that they can survive without him. Maybe they can.
"Just need to get back to the Hub," Owen mumbles, leaning on Ianto even more heavily, any minute now and Ianto will just give up and try to sling their ridiculously skinny doctor over his shoulder, "Patch myself up, it'll be fine."
"We can't go back to the Hub," Ianto reminds him, "We're still in there. Can't risk a timeline crossover."
"Yeah, 'cause that would be really weird." Owen snickers, he's too bony in all the wrong places and Ianto thinks his shoulder might actually be breaking.
"I could take you to A+E," he suggests mildly.
"Sod that," Owen mumbles, "I used to work there, remember?"
Ianto doesn't remember; Owen never told him. Sometimes, he thinks that Owen considers them better friends than they actually are. Sometimes, he thinks that they've indulged in too many retcon-saturated drinks to remember what the hell they've actually told each other.
"I'll just leave you here to whine, then, shall I Owen?" he suggests, all false sweetness. Jack is driving the girls home, tossing Ianto and Owen an unreadable look and a bright smile as he passes, leaving Ianto and Owen with the bright red blowfish car. It turns out even fish-headed aliens are subject to midlife crises, because it's the sort of car no one would drive unless they had some kind of point to prove.
"I've got supplies at my flat," Owen says. "Some antiseptic, few plasters, that sort of thing, I'll be fine." He turns his head slightly; this close it's a personal space violation. "He's not as good a shot as you are," he murmurs right into Ianto's ear.
"I was trying to kill you," Ianto mutters, feeling momentarily uncharitable as he dumps Owen into the passenger seat and tries to remind himself that he has nothing to worry about; that just because he's driving a bright red sports car around doesn't mean he's trying to compensate for anything.
"Nah, you weren't."
They rehashed that one at least four times; it involved drinks, and retcon, and Ianto woke up with a broken wrist once. Fuck knows what happened, and really, Ianto would like to leave it that way.
"Let's just get you home," he says, turning the key in the ignition.
"Come up and help me?" Owen suggests, when they're sitting outside Owen's block of flats. "It's really a two-person job, I need someone with steadier hands than mine."
Ianto has been learning a few basics of medical care while Jack's been gone; nothing too complicated, just stitches and clean-ups and things, to help Owen out. Working for Torchwood involves getting hurt a lot, it seems only logical that more than one person can help out when things go wrong. As they perpetually do.
"Well..." Ianto hesitates. Jack's back, you know, and maybe he could try and find him, and...
Things are weird enough already. Ianto thinks he'll let it simmer a little while before he goes and finds out exactly what Jack thinks is going to happen this time around. Presumably things will be better, and God knows he's missed the hell out of their Captain, but he's learned a few things in the space of time and this time around he's not going to go running after his boss. He's done that before. And it bloody hurt.
"You've got plans?" Owen asks, like it doesn't matter, but Ianto has somehow managed to get to know him as a person over the last few months, and he can see something else underneath the question. Owen’s really more vulnerable than he’d like any of them to know.
"No," Ianto decides. "At least, it can wait until I've made sure you're not going to get gangrene or something."
"That really would ruin my month," Owen agrees, and heaves himself out of the car. Ianto imagines that now the adrenalin is wearing off, the pain is really starting to kick in. Owen has a gauze pad duct-taped to his side, done in the dark by a panicking Tosh, it must be agony. Ianto's less vindictive than he used to be, he's no longer wants Owen in that much pain. He hasn't done anything to deserve it; at least, not this week.
Owen kicks his trainers off the minute he gets inside his flat, heading straight for his sofa, leaving Ianto to close and lock the door.
"Bathroom, under the sink," he instructs, pulling his t-shirt off and lying down on the sofa. "Big white box."
Ianto is in no way Owen's lackey, but the orders are given with less disdain than they used to be, so he obediently shrugs his jacket off, loosens his tie, and goes to find Owen's medical supplies. The box is easily distinguishable, and although he has a quick look, he doesn't find any kind of alien tech stolen from the Hub and hidden where Owen usually puts it.
"You don't have any illegal pheromones or anything in there," he remarks, pulling Owen's coffee table close enough to sit down on, pushing aside an untidy stack of medical journals and Maxims.
"I gave them all back," Owen replies. "I did tell you."
"Yeah, but I didn't believe you," Ianto points out, rubbing cold antiseptic gel over his hands. Hopefully, with Jack back, this is the last time he'll have to do this.
"I don't lie all the time," Owen murmurs.
"Just most of it?"
"Sod you, Jones."
Ianto rips off the duct-tape holding on Owen's makeshift bandage, and Owen's back arches, he screams through his teeth and calls Ianto a number of highly unkind things.
"And you wonder why I don't like you," Ianto mumbles, poking around in Owen's box for something to clean the bullet wound with.
"You like me fine," Owen replies dismissively, though his teeth are gritted. "Don't suppose you could track me down some painkillers or something?"
"Just lie still and let me get this over with," Ianto replies, trying to keep his tone neutral. Owen's had worse, much worse, and Ianto finds that both worrying and comforting. He drenches a piece of gauze with antiseptic, wipes it over the red hole in Owen's side. From the way Owen hisses, screwing his face up, it hurts like hell.
"Distract me," Owen grits out. "Argh - Jesus, Ianto, say anything. Take my mind off it."
Ianto gets a clean piece of gauze, continues washing away dirt and any potential germs.
"Jack asked me out on a date," he says eventually.
Owen turns his head too fast.
"Define 'date'," he says.
"I checked with Jack myself," Ianto tells him, and this is weird. The way Owen is looking at him is weird, and so he refuses to make eye contact, instead looking through the box for a cotton pad to tape over the wound. "Proper date, dinner, movie, that sort of thing."
"Fuck," Owen remarks.
Ianto rips the pad out of its sterile packaging.
"I suppose that means I won that bet," he says eventually. "You owe me fifty quid. I told you I wasn't just Jack's part-time shag."
Stupid words shouted out when their world was coming apart at the seams (then, they didn't know how much worse it was going to get), resulting in a nasty hole in Owen's shoulder and weeks and weeks' worth of arguments. It eventually came down to a drink one night, a bet made. Ianto realises, now, watching Owen close his eyes in pain as he tapes up the wound, that he didn't expect to win. But that's Jack all over, rearranging your view of the world whenever he feels like it.
"You'll get it," Owen mumbles. "Knew I shouldn't have bet against Harkness, man's too unreliable."
Ianto smiles slightly, getting up to track down a glass of water for Owen. He's still feeling... well, uncertain. Just a little.
He’s going to have to ask, check. Because things have changed over the last few months, but he doesn’t know how much, not yet.
"Did the fish have a point?" he mumbles, too quickly, because he might as well ask Owen; that way he stands a chance of getting a straight answer.
"You shouldn't listen to aliens that have fish instead of proper heads," Owen tells him, struggling to sit up. "Talking blowfish aren't exactly known for their intelligence, are they?"
"He said I was an over promoted office boy," Ianto forces himself to continue. A few months ago, and he wouldn't have done this. Not ever. Not with Owen. But things have altered beyond belief, and though they'll never really be friends, they're capable of having conversations that they shouldn't have with each other, but can't have with the girls. It's a truce of sorts, and it's lasted longer than either of them thought it would.
"He missed out 'unforgivably emo'," Owen tells him, opening a pot of pills and tipping a couple into his hand. "Look, don't fucking dwell on it. He was a drugged-up fish, and Jack blew his brains out, and it really doesn't matter."
Ianto sighs, and sits beside him on the sofa, leaving a decent amount of space between the two of them.
"Captain..." he hesitates, reflects that he might as well just fucking say it, let Owen laugh at him, and then not think about it again, "Captain John kept calling me the 'eye candy'."
Owen groans, swallowing the pills down and putting the glass of water back on the coffee table.
"Look, Ianto, you're more than the tea boy, you're more than the office boy, you're more than the eye candy. You've more than proven that over the last few months, and you know that. But looking the way you do, you're always going to get those comments."
"'Looking the way I do'?" Ianto echoes, amused in spite of himself.
"Well, look, don't broadcast it, but I haven't been staring at your arse for the last three months because you've got the secret of the universe printed on your trousers," Owen tells him bluntly, in that way he has of saying the most inappropriate things possible at the worse possible times.
"You're not... you're not high are you?" Ianto asks, before he can stop himself.
Owen shakes the pill bottle. "Bog standard paracetamol. I told you, I gave back all the cool alien drugs."
"...Oh." Ianto swallows. "You've been staring at my arse for the last three months?"
"I thought you might pick up on it," Owen tells him in an airy sort of voice, though the frustration is plain. "But then you didn't. Sometimes, you can be incredibly dense, Ianto."
Ianto bites his lower lip, trying to find the right words. He hates all kinds of social situations, that's why he spends so much time in the archives. Clip folders don't suddenly try to tell you that they fancy you just after the rolodex has asked you out. They just don't.
Owen has retrieved his t-shirt, is struggling back into it.
"You said you had plans," he says, and his voice has gone all awkward and hard. Not angry, and certainly not as obnoxious as it used to be, but still. Much less friendly than it usually is, and for some reason that makes Ianto feel weird. "You should go."
"Owen..." Ianto swallows, and finds himself wishing that Lisa were still around, if only so he'd have his half-robot girlfriend in the basement as an excuse for being generally awful at human connections. Now, it's just being revealed how lacking he is in all social aspects of his life.
"I should probably get some sleep," Owen continues, pushing himself to his feet, "Might help me recover from the whole being shot thing. You should go, unless you feel like spending the night trying to alphabetise my CD collection or something."
"I did that last month," Ianto replies absently, and then wonders exactly how much time he's been spending with Owen while they all tried to hold Torchwood together. A surprisingly high amount, actually, no wonder Owen thought... wait, what did Owen think?
"See?" Owen almost reaches out to touch Ianto's shoulder, like he wants to push him away, then he catches himself at the last minute, curls his fingers up. "So go away and let me get some rest."
Ianto knows, instinctively, that if he walks out the door now he'll lose everything he and Owen have clawed back over the last few months. The tentative friendship, the genuine smiling at each other, the nights out drinking, the very nearly supportive conversations. The whole thing will be blown to hell if he leaves now.
"I don't know how to go back to hating you," he says instead. "I don't know how to go back to resenting each other, spitting in your coffee, exchanging glares. I don't know how to do that."
Owen gets a look on his face that Ianto hasn't seen in months and months. It’s not until now that he realises how much he hasn’t missed it.
"You're really good at picking things back up where they left off, I'm sure you'll manage just fine."
"I don't want to," Ianto says weakly.
"Look, Ianto, get out or I'm going to have to make you, and then hating each other again should be really easy." Owen is glaring at him and it's all falling apart too fast.
"Owen." It's been a weird night, a really weird night, even if it's just beginning all over again, and Ianto is too tired to be doing this. "I thought... I thought we were well on our way to being friends." It sounds pathetic, maybe the fish was right. Maybe Ianto is pathetic, crap at socialising, so far out of his depth that it would be funny if it weren't so worrying.
"We were never friends, Ianto." Owen looks exhausted too, the spark Jack's return put back into his eyes faded once more. "We were never friends, and you just didn't notice that because you're so bloody naive in all the wrong ways."
"I didn't..." Ianto doesn't know how to make this better, isn't sure that he can make this better. "I didn't know."
Owen laughs, a horrible sound. "I know. That's what made it worse." He shakes his head. "I need you to leave now, I need you to leave me alone, ok?"
"We need to talk about this," Ianto tells him a little desperately.
"What the fuck is there to say?" Owen demands. "It's just me being an idiot, like usual. I mean, I always knew you were his. You weren't exactly keeping that fucking torch you had burning for Jack a secret, were you?"
This is Owen's meltdown, this is how he coped with Jack's absence. By pushing all that hatred and anger and turning it into something entirely new and dumping it all over Ianto. And Ianto, looking for anyone to talk to because he was so damn alone, just made it worse.
Owen has reached his door by now, wrenched it open.
"You can't stand there looking like a fucking zombie all night, get the hell out."
Ianto reluctantly walks over, retrieving his jacket from where he left it.
"Owen..." he says, one last try, reaching out a hand, but Owen flinches away.
"Don't touch me, don't you dare fucking touch me."
That's what Owen does. He retreats behind a brittle shell of anger and cruelty when he feels like the world is going to hurt him. It's stupid and it's not a good method of pain management, but then, no matter how much better they get on as a team now, they're never going to be emotionally stable people. Not ever. Today has proven that much, at least.
"We're going to sort this out," Ianto tells him firmly. "I don't know how, but I refuse to lose you as a whatever-the-hell-you are, not now."
"I shot your girlfriend," Owen hisses, doing his best to be ugly and obnoxious and all the things that Ianto used to hate about him. "I nearly ended the world, you had to shoot me to try and stop me and you still couldn't."
"It doesn't matter," Ianto finds himself saying, and it's true. They argued all that out, beat each other up a couple of times, reached some point of catharsis. Owen knows that.
"Don't do this," Owen mumbles, and then the anger slams back into his eyes. "You've always been a weak little pushover, willing to let any amount of things go."
Ianto opens his mouth to reply, and then can't, because apparently Owen's reached his breaking point, and one hand catches Ianto's cheek, tilting his head into a kiss. Owen fingers are shaking, and Ianto knows he shouldn't but he opens his mouth against Owen's anyway. Owen makes a soft, mangled sort of noise, and pulls back a little.
"Don't let me do this," he whispers, it sounds like plea, though for what Ianto can't tell. "You've got to go, you belong to Harkness, you have to go out for dinner and probably get married and adopt a couple of Weevils and a pterodactyl. Please, Ianto, don't let-"
Ianto pulls Owen's mouth back against his to make him stop talking, pushes until they both sort of fall against the open door, making it slam closed. They're all hurting too much right now, Ianto wants to fall for Jack again but he knows what happens at the other end of that, and God knows Owen's too screwed up to give him anywhere close to what he needs, but it's been a fucking strange night and while Owen's touching him he can't think straight. Can't think at all.
Owen's tongue is tentative, running across Ianto's lower lip, one hand digging too hard into Ianto's shoulders, fingers clenched like he expects to fall apart any second. Ianto responds by pushing his own tongue into Owen's mouth, hard, certain, letting Owen know that whatever the hell he decides tomorrow, tonight he knows what he wants and it's this.
"Jack came back for you," Owen whispers, pulling back, his mouth looks bruised and wet and his eyes are wide. "He said so, he came back for you."
"I didn't ask him to," Ianto points out, sliding the hand that was on the back of Owen's neck down over his shoulder, fingers running down his arm, watching as Owen shifts in spite of himself. "He can't expect me not to be hurt."
"Is that what I am?" Owen asks, though his fingers are curling around Ianto's almost instinctively. "I'm the rebound?"
"I don't know what you are," Ianto responds. "I thought that would be obvious. But I don't know what Jack is, either."
"You said 'yes', right?" Owen looks at him. "When he asked you out, you said yes?"
"Of course I did."
Owen laughs, a shudder of sound that sounds weird, pushed this close.
"God, this is gonna hurt in the morning."
"Just don't try to kill yourself with a Weevil this time," Ianto murmurs.
"That's not funny." Owen kisses him again, though, quick and hard and like he can't resist although he knows he should. "Tell me stop, Ianto, come on. Tell me."
Ianto pulls Owen's hand until it slides across his side, cupping his arse, pulling the two of them closer together. This isn't fair, it isn't fair on anyone and Ianto still doesn’t feel inclined to stop. Owen's right; they never were friends. Kissing him feels natural, like it's been building for months, and it probably has, only Ianto hasn't noticed because he's been too distracted by a man half in love with his ex and still not entirely sure what he wants.
"We're going to hate each other in the morning," Owen warns him, even as his hand closes possessively around Ianto's hip and he tugs him in the direction of his bedroom. "By the time we walk into work tomorrow, we'll hate each other again. You know that."
"Maybe." Ianto bites Owen's earlobe. "But maybe we won't."
Things might work out after all. Right now, he can't see how, but things could all fall back into line. After all, this is Torchwood, where you never say never ‘cause the universe will just go out of its way to prove you wrong.
Ianto kisses Owen again, and tells himself that it doesn’t matter that they have no idea how this will end.