Lady Paperclip (paperclipbitch) wrote,
Lady Paperclip
paperclipbitch

"Flipping With A Coin That's Got A Tail On Either Side", Torchwood, Owen/Martha

Title: Flipping With A Coin That’s Got A Tail On Either Side
Fandom: Torchwood
Pairing: Owen/Martha
Challenge/Prompt: fanfic100, 002. Middles
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 2540
Genre: Gen/Het
Spoilers: Season 2 episodes 6-13, Doctor Who 4x05
Copyright: The title is from Love It When You Call by The Feeling.
Summary: “I’m still not dead,” he says by way of a greeting.
Author’s Notes: Writing snatches of dialogue has been keeping me sane for the last couple of weeks. Hooray. This isn’t a sequel to waiting for a dream but follows on from my ideas in there of Martha calling Owen up every week to check on him. This follows my own timeline of the last 6 episodes because I wanted it to. And it’s got a real downer of an ending.



I know you could use a friend but you don’t seem to have the time
I wonder if you ever get to say what’s on your mind
So take a little time.

The Feeling


The phone is ringing when Owen walks back into his flat. He contemplates not answering it, because he hasn’t exactly had the best of days, and he’s not sure that he’s up to apologising – yet again – for breaking his fingers in front of Tosh. It’s funny how his deadened nerve endings mean it’s only others that get hurt when he injures himself. Well, if by ‘funny’, you actually mean ‘fucking depressing’.

Owen picks up the phone anyway, if only to save himself from morose contemplations and channel five’s late night Law and Order repeats.

“Hi, Owen,” Martha says. She has the grace to sound a little sheepish about calling him. After all, they only said goodbye four hours ago.

Owen finds himself smiling at the sound of her voice, which is a really bad sign, and sinks down to sit on the floor. It’s not like his legs get tired any more, but old habits die hard (much like Torchwood doctors – hey, that’s almost amusing).

“I’m still not dead,” he says by way of a greeting. “Well, you know, I’m still the same kind of dead I was when you left.”

“That’s… good.” Owen hears Martha smile. “Sorry to call you up so soon, but…”

“It’s ok,” he interrupts her. “I get it. People are worried that I’m going to run out of life at any second. Nobody turns their back on me any more, in case I’m actually dead by the time they turn around again.”

“Oh.” Martha is silent for a moment. “That’s got to be awkward.”

“It’s more annoying than awkward,” Owen replies. “Anyway, I haven’t stopped being a zombie in the time it took you to get back to London. I saved a woman’s life, you know.” Pride enters his voice, but convincing Maggie not to chuck herself off a rooftop was reasonably impressive.

“Well done.” Martha laughs. “I don’t know, I leave for a couple of hours and you’re already setting yourself up as a superhero.”

“I think I’d make a good undead superhero,” Owen counters.

“You’d look awful in lycra,” Martha tells him mildly.

“I won’t put any weight on,” Owen reminds her. “I’ll be this slim forever.”

“You’re not slim, you’re scrawny,” Martha giggles. “Superheroes aren’t scrawny.”

“You’re the one who said I had to do some kind of exercise so that I wouldn’t atrophy,” Owen points out. “Can you think of a better kind of exercise than being a superhero?”

There’s silence for a minute. “Have you picked out a name yet?” Martha asks eventually.

“Nope,” Owen replies. “Undead superhero names have to be taken seriously!”

“Ok then… what about Super Zombie Man?” Martha suggests brightly.

Owen makes an irritated sound.

“No, you’re right. Maybe it should involve an animal, you know, it worked ok for Batman and Spiderman…” There’s a pause in which Owen swears he can hear Martha thinking. “Got it,” she says eventually. “Weevil Man.”

She starts giggling gleefully and before Owen can stop himself he starts joining in.

“I’m putting the phone down,” he warns.

“Speak to you soon, Weevil Man,” Martha laughs.

~

“Hello, Weevil Man,” Martha says brightly.

“I’m not going to talk to you if you’re going to be infuriating,” Owen informs her. “I have other friends; I don’t have to put up with the teasing.”

“Name one,” Martha replies lightly. “And not Tosh, because we both know why she talks to you.”

“Isn’t it the same reason you talk to me?” Owen murmurs, pushing just a little because what’s the point of being dead if you’re not going to shove the boundaries too far?

“Ha ha,” Martha replies. “I view you as a scientific experiment, you know that.”

“Yeah.” Owen smiles ruefully. “Actually, I think Ianto might be starting to hate me less. And Gwen smiles at me occasionally.”

The silence is uncomfortable and a little too sharp, but Owen isn’t sure how to sort it out.

“Maybe,” Martha begins eventually, “I’ll get you a t-shirt printed with Weevil Man printed on it. I bet my brother would know where to get it made.”

“I won’t wear it,” Owen warns. “I’ll destroy it. Or give it to Ianto as a birthday present.”

“Don’t go palming your clothing cast-offs on me,” Ianto warns softly. He’s currently tidying up bits of paper on Tosh’s workstation, mostly in an attempt to get out of helping Gwen with her seemingly endless wedding preparations.

“Ianto doesn’t want one,” Owen informs Martha. “I’ll probably still give it to him.”

“I could make you matching t-shirts,” Martha suggests cheerfully. “You could wear them together; it could be a bonding exercise.”

“I don’t want there to be bonding with Ianto!” Owen exclaims. Behind him, Ianto makes a very quiet choking sound. Owen turns to him. “I said bonding,” he clarifies.

“Thank God,” Ianto mumbles, and quickly heads over to start tidying up Gwen’s desk instead.

“So Torchwood is still Torchwood then,” Martha says, sounding amused.

“Yep,” Owen snickers. “What, you don’t use bondage as a team-building exercise at UNIT?”

“Oddly enough, no,” Martha replies.

“You should,” Owen tells her. “It’s astonishing how much distrust it breeds.”

“I’m really not sure I believe you,” Martha says. “I know Torchwood is a law unto itself, but I’m pretty certain there must be some lines you don’t cross.”

“Gwen saw me naked on her first day here,” Owen informs her in a neutral tone. “Sure you don’t want to put in for a transfer?”

“I’ve seen you naked,” Martha reminds him. “You were rather cold and dead and on an autopsy table at the time, but, you know, same difference.”

Owen thinks about it for a minute. “I haven’t seen you naked yet.”

“Goodbye, Owen,” Martha giggles.

~

The not-sleeping-anymore thing is quickly losing its novelty. It turns out that there is only so much late-night poker Owen can watch before he is tempted to start breaking more of his bones in an attempt to alleviate the boredom. He tries hanging around the Hub only to find that Ianto tries to rope him into the creepily OCD disinfecting gig he’s got going on, or otherwise he ends up walking in on Jack and Ianto doing things that have somehow indelibly printed themselves in traumatic Technicolor on Owen’s brain.

Owen manages to last until six in the morning before picking up his phone and calling Martha. UNIT people keep hours nearly as antisocial as Torchwood people, so he knows that she’ll be awake.

“What are you having for breakfast?” he asks, possibly with a little too much longing interest.

He can hear Martha chewing before she answers. “Is this going to become the equivalent of what colour knickers do you have on?”

Owen grins, but puts on an offended tone. “I am shocked at you, Miss Jones. Would I ever ask you that?”

“Maybe once upon a time…” Martha suggests.

“Well,” Owen replies, “Sadly, I’m far more interested in your breakfast than your knickers these days.”

Martha makes some more chewing noises before she speaks again.

“Toast. Tea.”

Owen sighs loudly. “If I’m going to live vicariously through you, you’re going to have to get better eating habits.”

“Take it up with Tom,” Martha tells him. “He’s the one who handles the food in this house.”

There’s a man’s voice in the background, sounding slightly offended, but Owen can’t work out the words.

“Ooh,” he says, “Have I caused a domestic?”

“No,” Martha replies, tone amused. “Tom’s just explaining how a man who works in casualty for most of the day doesn’t have time to make cooked breakfasts for his fiancé who won’t eat them anyway.”

“Ah.” Owen smirks. “Put him on.”

“What?”

“Put Doctor Gorgeous on. I think it’s about time I got to know him,” Owen replies steadily. “Or do you want me to stay your dirty little secret?”

“Fine,” Martha says brightly. She murmurs something Owen doesn’t quite catch, and then a minute later a man tentatively says: “Hello?”

“Hi Tom,” Owen replies, and then adds a little unnecessarily: “I’m Owen Harper.”

“Martha’s not-really-dead friend,” Tom says. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Oh.” Owen frowns. “Should I be worried you’ll be coming down to Cardiff to beat me up?”

“Is there a reason I ought to?” Tom doesn’t sound concerned; more bemused.

“I used to be quite the marriage-wrecker,” Owen informs him proudly. “You know, pre-zombie days.”

“How many marriages did you wreck?”

Owen counts on his fingers. “Four and a half. Though I suppose I should add I’m physically incapable of doing anything fun and marriage-wrecking what with the no heartbeat and everything.”

“I would kill for the chance to examine you,” Tom says. He coughs. “Does that sound creepy? It does, doesn’t it?”

“Slightly,” Owen agrees. “But I wouldn’t worry, I swear half my team are trying to find a subtle way to ask if they can stick their fingers in the gunshot wound. Maybe I’ll let you have an examination as a wedding present or something.” A thought occurs to him. “Why do you have security clearance?”

“I don’t,” Tom laughs. “But as long as UNIT don’t find out that I know it’s not really a problem, is it?”

“Probably not.” Owen finds himself smiling.

~

Gwen’s long-awaited wedding becomes far more interesting than Owen is really prepared for, what with the Nostrovite and Gwen’s entirely unforeseen pregnancy and the discovery that since his clever breaking-fingers decision he can no longer work the singularity scalpel. And he does his duty; dances with Tosh, dances with Gwen, helps Ianto put retcon in the champagne and shakes Rhys’ hand while telling him what a lucky guy he is. The clean-up job will come later, though Owen can see the guests already starting to quieten down and begin to fall asleep in corners of the room.

His phone goes off and Owen fumbles it out of his jeans, watching Gwen and Rhys twirl around the dance floor some more, while Jack and Tosh have a surprisingly graceful amount of fun a few feet away.

“Hey,” Martha says, “So how did the big day go?”

Owen opens his mouth to reply and realises that he has no idea where to even start. “I saved you some cake,” he settles on eventually. “It’s pretty good.”

“Oh,” Martha says. “But you don’t have any digestive system.”

The Projectile Brown Spew story will probably become the stuff of Torchwood legend. It’s not a comforting thought.

“I haven’t tried it,” he clarifies, “But this cake doesn’t contain retcon and isn’t splashed in alien blood, which, right now, makes it pretty unique.”

Martha laughs. “Sounds like my kind of wedding.”

Owen groans. “Seriously, Martha,” he says, “When you get married to Doctor Gorgeous, elope and do it in a concrete bunker somewhere.”

“I can’t really see Tom going for that.”

“Talk him into it,” Owen insists. “All the guests here have been memory wiped. There’ve been some interesting Kodak moments, and I really don’t mean the cutting of the cake.”

“I’m sorry I missed it,” Martha tells him. “Sounds like one hell of a party.”

“I can’t work out whether my favourite part was an alien shapeshifter threatening to rip me apart until it realised I was already dead, or the part where Jack and Gwen spent so long dancing that everyone in the vicinity got really uncomfortable.”

“Did Jack interrupt the wedding?” Martha asks in the voice most people reserve for the juiciest gossip. Owen glances to check that Jack is still dancing with Tosh before replying.

“Yeah,” he murmurs. “Perfect timing, of course, the sod. He goes running in at the ‘does anyone object’ bit. Half the congregation recorded it on their camera phones, as it turns out. I’ve watched it about six times.”

“Oh, he didn’t,” Martha gasps. “That’s brilliant.”

“I think Ianto would probably call it something else,” Owen says carefully. “But I’m not
getting involved because I’ve got enough emo-ness of my own without adding his to the mix.”

“And then you all wondered why I didn’t want to stay,” Martha murmurs.

“We could probably arrange to have Jack come and interrupt your wedding,” Owen offers. “I think he’s running a sideline business in disrupting weddings, there’s no way that was the first time he did that.”

“I don’t think Jack should come and interrupt the wedding,” Martha replies firmly. “I might be a little disappointed if the Doctor doesn’t, though.”

“What about me?” Owen laughs. “I’m pretty sure I could come running in with just the right yell of stop the wedding!

“Are you offering me a life of zombie bliss?” Martha asks mildly.

“Pretty sure that’s an oxymoron,” Owen points out. “But I’d never leave the toilet seat up, which ought to count for something.”

“It’ll be taken into account when I’m trying to work out whether to elope with you,” Martha informs him dryly. “You know, Tom really likes you.”

“So the fiancé likes the undead bit-on-the-side,” Owen smirks. “You really dodged the bullet there.” He thinks about what he’s said. “You know, that saying has got really surreal since I didn’t.”

“You’re not my bit-on-the-side,” Martha tells him.

“What am I then?” Owen asks.

“I… don’t know,” Martha admits.

“First step into the Torchwood mindset,” Owen tells her. “Ambiguity.”

“I’m not joining Torchwood!” Martha insists.

“I won’t be around forever. I’ll need a good replacement.”

“You could outlive me,” Martha reminds him. “You could outlive Jack.”

“Jack won’t ever die,” Owen shrugs.

Martha makes a strange little sound that sounds a bit like a cross between a cough and a sob, but doesn’t elaborate.

~

“Is Gwen still on her honeymoon?” Martha asks, the next week.

“Yep,” Owen replies, stretching out at his desk and resting his feet on his workstation. The Rift is being uncharacteristically quiet, and he is in no mood for paperwork. “We got a postcard this morning. Jack’s probably wanking over it in his office right now.”

“That’s-” Martha stutters incoherently for a moment, before exclaiming: “Owen!”

“It’s probably true,” Owen shrugs. “Ianto’s all miserable and twitchy. He’d probably take me up on a quickie in the morgue if I offered him one and we all know, given my current state, how much fun that would definitely not be.”

Martha sighs. “You can be really cruel, you know.”

Without Gwen as the glue to hold them together, the Hub is getting to be an increasingly bitter place, reminiscent of the way it was before Suzie shot herself and they were all expected to gain feelings.

“I’m dead, Martha,” Owen almost snaps. “All I’ve got left is schadenfreude.”

Martha is quiet for a long moment.

“What’s the matter?” she asks quietly. Instantly forgiving him even though Owen isn’t sure he deserves it.

“You know when you’re having one of those days, ‘cause you’re dead and your co-workers are edging around you more than usual because they’re freaked out about the whole fucking zombie deal, and the one person in your place of work who remembers what emotions actually feel like is away so you all crumble because she’s not around, and you’re expected to do paperwork and you know you won’t which means the secretary will get even more glary than he is already and sooner or later your boss is going to do something sociopathic because that’s what he does when he gets bored. You know, days like that?”

“Well,” Martha admits, “I don’t think I’ve ever had a day like that.”

Owen sighs. “I wish I knew more zombies. Then there could be a support group or something.”

“That’s a mental image and a half,” Martha replies, though the amusement falls right out of her voice as she adds: “Is there anything I can do?”

“Nah, thanks. We’ll just work through it Torchwood style; you know, shout at each other and create a few bruises and there might be some inappropriate sex in inappropriate places and it’ll all work out fine. It usually does.”

What Owen won’t tell Martha (or possibly he can’t tell her) is that what he wants from her is something that he can never have. It’s just easier never to admit it than have to talk about it.

“But you can’t bruise or have inappropriate sex,” Martha’s voice is careful.

“I’ll figure something out,” Owen replies tersely.

~

“I think I’m suffocating,” Owen says.

“Oh.” Martha is silent for a moment before she replies. “But you don’t breathe.”

“A guy made of celluloid stole my last breath,” Owen tells her.

It randomly occurs to him that that would make a pretty awesome (if pretentious) t-shirt. Well, it’d definitely be better than Weevil Man, anyway.

“I can’t work out if your job is exciting or traumatic,” Martha decides.

“It’s both,” Owen shrugs. “What, UNIT doesn’t send you off after people who’ve escaped from rolls of film? Aw, do they just keep you shut up in a lab in the basement?”

“Stop insulting UNIT,” Martha says, laughing. “I could send a whole load of soldiers down there just for you saying that.”

“I’ll just use Jack as a human body shield,” Owen tells her. “You don’t get rid of me that easy, sweetheart.”

“You wouldn’t use Jack as a human body shield,” Martha says.

“Did I ever tell you I shot him once?” Owen shouldn’t tell her this, it shows him in a horrible light and she may never call him again, but it’s already too late to take it back.

“We’ve all got Jack killed at one time or another-” Martha begins.

“I didn’t know he was going to get back up again,” Owen interrupts. He knows he shouldn’t say it, but he can’t take it back,

The shocked silence doesn’t help the weird feeling he’s got in his chest; it’s not really a feeling because he doesn’t have feelings any more, but there’s something not quite right about him any more. What the Ghost Maker took from him didn’t kill him but it did break something. Just to add to the list of the many things about him that are tumbling to pieces. Sooner or later, something is going to fall off; and then fuck knows what he’ll do.

“Say something,” he mumbles eventually.

“I really don’t know you at all, do I?” Martha manages eventually.

Owen taps his injured hand against the knee of his jeans, swathed in stiff white bandages from his own self-destruction. And he’s lied to Martha for longer than he wants to think about.

“You’ve seen me die and claw myself back and fall apart,” he replies. “You’ve seen me at my worst.”

Martha’s voice sounds a little thick. “I really don’t think I have.”

Owen doesn’t know how they slid so quickly, how they got here, and he doesn’t know if they can get back again.

“I’m not that person any more,” he admits. “I grew up when Jack left; I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t.” He laughs roughly. “Ironic, isn’t it? I tried to become the good guy and it killed me.”

Martha doesn’t say anything. Her breathing is a little unsteady; Owen pays way too much attention to the ways people breathe nowadays.

“A year ago,” he adds, “I’d have stepped aside and let that bullet hit anyone but me.” There is more silence; for once, Martha seems completely lost for words. “Sorry,” Owen mutters. “We lost a lot of people today, I’m not in the best of moods.”

“And a man made of celluloid stole your last breath,” Martha adds finally, a hint of a smile in her voice.

“Exactly.”

“…Do you remember when our lives were normal?” Martha remarks.

Owen sighs. “I try not to.”

~

The first thing Martha says when Owen answers the phone is: “Are you ok?”

“No,” he replies dryly, “I suffocated to death when the SUV started emitting poisonous gases. Tosh is currently weeping over my discoloured corpse.”

“Hey!” Tosh calls from the other side of the Hub.

“You don’t have to mock me,” Martha tells him, a trace of a laugh in her voice, “You know exactly what I mean.”

“We’re all fine,” Owen assures her. “We’re sitting around in the Hub and Ianto is making refreshments. I think we’ve lived through too many apocalypses, we don’t react like people any more.”

“I know,” Martha says. “I’m worryingly matter-of-fact about them now.”

“And you’re ok?” Owen checks. “You and Doctor Gorgeous and everyone?”

“I’m fine,” Martha replies. “You know me.”

“Resilient.”

“Resilient,” Martha agrees.

“We’re pretty resilient too,” Owen decides. “I mean, once the SUV started emitting poisonous gas Jack and I drove it somewhere well away from everyone else while Ianto and the girls started sealing up the Hub. Jack suffocated in the passenger seat, though; he’s such a lightweight.”

“Jack’s not a zombie like you,” Martha points out. “Not everyone’s as lucky.”

A voice in the background of Martha’s call says: “Who’s a zombie?”

She laughs, and replies: “Nosy. Don’t you know it’s rude to eavesdrop?”

“I’ve always found it useful. You wouldn’t believe some of the things I’ve overheard. There was this one time in the Rygas galaxy-”

“You shouldn’t just go around announcing I’m a zombie,” Owen tells Martha. “I thought you were trying to stop UNIT from dissecting me.”

“Oh, he’s not UNIT,” Martha says, finding this funny for some reason, and then murmurs hey.

“I’m definitely not UNIT,” the voice says, and apparently whoever the voice belongs to has stolen Martha’s phone. “Well hello, Mr Zombie.”

“Make that Dr Zombie,” Owen corrects automatically, ‘cause if you’re undead and you don’t have dignity then what the hell have you got?

“Hello Dr Zombie, then,” the man says. “Can’t say I’ve met many zombies who are doctors; they mostly seem to wander about trying to pull people apart. Do you do that?”

“No,” Owen replies. “Right now I seem to specialise into walking into places that would kill normal people because I’m already dead so it doesn’t really make a difference what I do. But pulling people apart sounds like it could brighten up dull afternoons, so thanks for the idea.”

“You’re not pulling anyone apart in the Hub,” Ianto shouts over, “I’m not cleaning up after you!”

“Are you sure you’re a zombie?” Mystery Man asks. “You don’t really fit the criteria…”

“There’s criteria?” Owen asks a little incredulously.

“We’re having a conversation,” the man points out, “And you’re capable of using words that have consonants in them, which is more than most zombies can manage.”

“I’m a reanimated corpse,” Owen explains. “I got briefly possessed by Death and now I’m a walking, talking dead body.”

“That’s… brilliant,” the man tells him excitedly. “Oh, I would love to examine you.”

“Doctor Gorgeous said that,” Owen remarks.

“Doctor who?”

“You know, Martha’s bloke. Tom?”

“Oh.” There’s a slight pause before the man asks: “So he’s pretty good-looking then?”

“So good-looking that it makes other men feel inadequate,” Owen replies. “I’ve seen a picture. We practically had to pull the photograph off Jack; just as well Tom’s out of the country at the moment.”

The other man laughs in a nostalgic sort of way. “Yeah, that’s Jack for you.”

“Everyone always says that,” Owen tells him. “It’s the being-seduced-and-then-abandoned thing.”

The man makes an amusing spluttering sort of sound. “I’ve never been seduced by Jack.” There’s a trace of the lady doth protest too much about it.

“Everyone always says that too,” Owen shrugs.

The man laughs slightly. “Who are you?”

“Owen Harper, professional zombie,” Owen explains. “I work for Jack.”

“You must be Torchwood then.”

“Do you have security clearance?” Like he actually gives a damn, but still; it’s probably best to pay lip-service to these things, if only ‘cause Owen’s trying to avoid getting dissected by UNIT. Way too over-enthusiastic, those guys.

“Oh, security clearance,” the man says dismissively. “Apparently, according to Martha here, I’m classified. I don’t need security clearance.”

“Why are you classified?” Owen asks curiously. And then wonders if maybe he’s classified; that would be exciting. “I’ve told you who I am, who are you?”

There’s a pause, and then: “I’m the Doctor.”

Ianto drops an entire tray of coffee mugs when Owen practically shouts: “Oh, no fucking way!” He runs a numb hand over his face. “God, tell me you’re kidding.”

“I’m not kidding,” the Doctor assures him. His voice is shaking with laughter.

“Oh Jesus,” Owen says, “That’s crazy. It’s like, I don’t know, talking to a mixture of Santa, Hitler and James Dean.”

“I had them all round for dinner once,” the Doctor says dreamily, and then, sounding more offended, adds: “Hitler? Why am I Hitler?”

“Torchwood was set up to protect the world from you,” Owen reminds him. “Or did Jack not tell you that bit?”

“Queen Victoria told me that bit,” the Doctor replies. “Well, sort of.”

“You’re as bad as Jack,” Owen says. “He’s always coming out with stuff like: when I was in bed with Marilyn Monroe, or I was at this party with Houdini, and everyone was naked…”

“Yes, well, Jack does have this habit of flinging himself at the nearest available people,” the Doctor says, tone carefully blank.

“So your Queen Victoria story probably isn’t going to involve handcuffs in the throne room?” Owen asks blithely.

“She was a grieving widow!”

“Jack says those are the best kind.”

“Tell Jack I’m going to have a word with him next time we meet.”

“You’re not going to steal him for another four months, are you?” Owen’s tone is flat. “Because it wasn’t funny the last time, it really won’t be funny if you do it again.”

“Time’s complicated,” the Doctor tells him, sounding slightly defensive. “And I didn’t steal him, he practically broke my ship hitching a ride! Of course, Jack tells it slightly differently…”

Ianto is glaring daggers at Owen across the Hub as he tidies up, and the girls look curious. Jack is, mercifully, in the shower downstairs, because Owen’s not sure he wants to mention this conversation to him. Realising that he needs to go help with the clean-up operation, he sighs.

“Well, if you’re ever in Cardiff, feel free to come and say hi, or study my cold, dead body…”

~

The world is ending, or at least it fucking feels like it is. Owen’s narrowly escaped being decapitated by a glass window – it probably wouldn’t have killed him and it would really suck to have to walk around with his head tucked under his arm – and the team are battered and dusty and Captain John Hart is blowing up Cardiff. It is not fucking ok in any sense of the word.

Communications are going down fast and, on the roof of the hospital, Owen stares up at the dark sky and wonders what the hell they’re going to do now. The rest of the team are scattered across the city and Jack is gone and it’s amazing how many things a dead guy can be afraid of.

His phone starts ringing.

“This phonecall shouldn’t be happening,” he tells Martha. “The networks are down.”

“The Doctor fixed my phone,” Martha explains. She sounds breathless and scared. “It can make calls any time, any place, anywhere. What’s going on?”

“Jack’s old flame is trying to kill us,” Owen explains dully. “And seems to be trying to kill the city too, ‘cause he’s really not about modesty.”

Martha swears. “Do you want me to send in back-up?” she asks. “I could, I mean, UNIT still has some soldiers left that the Sontarens didn’t slaughter.”

“No point.” Owen watches the city burn, and wishes that he had enough bodily functions left to tremble or tear up or anything, rather than this cold permanent numbness. “They’ll just get slaughtered here.”

Martha sounds desperate. “There must be something I can do.”

Owen turns away from the destruction, heading for the stairs down from the roof. “You could pray,” he suggests.

“Don’t,” Martha says, tone thick. “I’ve survived worse things than this, we can get everyone out of there safe.”

“You know what’s really sad?” Owen sighs.

“What?”

“I never even got to kiss you.”

He can hear the slight smile in Martha’s voice. “You wouldn’t have liked it.”

“I could’ve pretended to,” Owen replies, sounding a little plaintive.

“Don’t talk like this,” Martha insists. “Can’t you, I don’t know, get together an army of Weevils and fight back or something?”

“If you start calling me ‘Weevil Man’ again…” Owen begins, but his mouth is curving into a smirk.

“More like King Weevil,” Martha says, her voice shaking more than ever.

“Now I sound more like a wrestler than a superhero,” Owen complains, running down corridors in the increasing dark. “Or maybe a fast food chain.”

“I wouldn’t eat there.” Martha’s false brightness nearly hurts; nearly stings Owen’s deadened nerve endings. “Look, Owen, I’m going to talk to UNIT and see what we can do. Just hang in there.”

People are screaming and crying and Owen feels so damn helpless. “Martha, I want you to know-”

No.” He thinks she might be crying, but he’s not sure. “I’m not saying goodbye, Owen. Because you’re all going to come out of this fine.”

“Travelling with the Doctor should at least have made you a better liar,” Owen mumbles.

“I saw the world end,” Martha says, “And then the next minute it had never happened. I’m going to talk to UNIT, keep me posted.”

“Martha-”

He’s answered with a dial tone that fades to nothing as his phone loses signal again. Owen grits his teeth and wonders if they’ll ever talk again. Then he turns his attention to Cardiff’s own personal apocalypse.

~

There are bare minutes before he’s due to die forever; trapped underground in the dark in a due to be flooded with radioactive coolant chamber. Tosh has gone silent and Owen is scared; more scared than he wants to admit. He manages to fumble his phone out of his jeans and finds one bar of signal, even though he’s underground, even though most of Cardiff has been destroyed. Bloody good coverage; he’d send an email to the company, but, you know, for the obvious.

“Hello?” A man answers the phone, not Martha.

“Tom?” The line is bad, so bad, and it’s crackling. Owen’s voice sounds weak and scared.

“Owen!” Tom sounds pretty anxious too. “Jesus, Owen, what’s going on? It’s all over the news…”

“I need to speak to Martha,” Owen shouts in an attempt to get through the crap static on the line.

“She’s with UNIT,” Tom tells him. “I can’t get hold of her either.”

Owen closes his eyes, doing his best to gather courage that he doesn’t fucking have.

“Ok,” he says. “Tom, in about five minutes’ time, I’m going to die.”

What?”

“Don’t interrupt; I don’t have time. Martha can get the details off Tosh or someone later.”

“Oh Jesus, Owen.”

“I need you to tell her…” Owen wonders what you say to someone who has held you together through becoming a zombie and then learning to deal with it. If there’s anything you can say that will make any sense. “Thank her for me. Ok? Just tell her thanks. You can do that, right?”

“Owen-” The line is breaking, and Owen ends the call, his phone falling to the floor and cracking into plastic pieces. There’s nothing left to do.

He raises his chin, defiant to the end, and waits.

Tags: challenge: fanfic100, character: ianto jones, character: martha jones, character: owen harper, character: the doctor, character: tom milligan, pairing: owen harper/martha jones, pairing: tom/martha, tv show: torchwood, type: gen, type: het
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