Word Count: 4065
Summary: “Robot,” Owen mutters under his breath, mentally willing Ianto to say something that will give him an excuse to attack him.
Author’s Notes: Set during 1x02 Day One, because it’s always fun to go old school. And I’ve had a particular exchange of dialogue in my head for a fortnight and finally figured out what I want to do with it. Season One Owen/Ianto is always that bit sharper and pointier, which I like, because Owen hasn’t mellowed out yet. This story starts just after Owen has been found naked in the cells…
I just realised: I don’t like you.
Owen manages to fume all the way through getting the handcuffs unlocked, through reclaiming the clothes Carys all but tore off him, through getting dressed, and through stomping back up to the main Hub again. Jack is putting the Hand into a fresh jar of storage fluid, seeming not to care that they’ve now got a psychopathic sex alien loose on the streets of Cardiff. Owen can’t exactly blame him, since this seems to happen far too often. There’s something about Cardiff that just seems to attract all the weird kinky shit. Normally Owen is amused about this, but now that he’s been stripped naked and imprisoned by one of the sex-aliens, he’s just plain pissed off, and looking for a row with anyone who’ll let him wind them up sufficiently.
One look at the mixture of anxiety and fury on Jack’s face tells Owen that picking a fight isn’t a good idea. Tosh and Gwen don’t seem to be around, and anyway it seems tacky to harass the new girl who tried to strangle him earlier, and being mean to Tosh always seems to make Jack angry with him.
Tugging on the collar of his t-shirt, Owen goes to find Ianto. When all else fails, when he’s had a shitty day and there’s no other form of relief around, Owen always resorts to tormenting their teaboy. Ianto hasn’t been working with them for long, less than a year; he just walked into the Hub one morning with a sharp suit and a bland smile, and Jack’s only explanation seemed to be well, we need someone around here who can make decent coffee. In all fairness, Ianto makes very decent coffee and is probably offering their Captain sexual favours in the archives; but his quiet sarcasm, and habit of deliberately fading into the background, irritates Owen no end. It doesn’t matter; Ianto doesn’t seem to like Owen much either.
Ianto is calmly cleaning mugs while his beloved coffee machine makes grinding noises, indicating that everyone’s near future will involve freshly brewed coffee. Normally this would cheer Owen up at least slightly, because there’s nothing like being perilously over-caffeinated to brighten up the hunt for a murderous sex alien; but it doesn’t today. He scowls sourly at their gigantic, industrial-strength coffee maker. Sometimes he thinks it’s the only thing Ianto really loves. It figures that their practically OCD teaboy would really only care about machines; after all, they hardly ever go wrong and can always be fixed when they do.
“Can I help you with something?” Ianto asks brightly enough, though his voice is eerily robotic. Maybe Jack built him in the basement out of spare parts from all the artefacts lying about in the archives; when you consider their boss, it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility.
“Robot,” Owen mutters under his breath, mentally willing Ianto to say something, to say anything that will give him an excuse to attack him. He needs to burn off some frustration somewhere.
Ianto sighs heavily. “Calm down,” he says, turning around to look at Owen. “Have a Jaffa Cake.”
“I don’t want a Jaffa Cake,” Owen snaps, but it comes out more petulant and childish than righteously cross. Ianto sometimes has that effect on him, and it’s always annoying.
“We’ve got Hobnobs too,” Ianto replies, turning back to the cupboards. “Though I think that Jaffa Cakes would help more, they have that random orange-y part. And Hobnobs have that tendency to crumble all over you.”
“I don’t want a Hobnob either,” Owen spits. Ianto must have realised that Owen came up here for an argument and he’s managed to make sure that the inevitable row happens on his own terms; in other words, they’re going to argue over biscuits.
Ianto flashes a wicked smirk over his shoulder. “No, perhaps that would be a good idea. After all, you’re getting a little squashy around the waistline. I think you might actually be developing love handles.”
Owen makes a growling sound that only the Weevils can decipher. Ianto’s amused and slightly gleeful tone is doing nothing for the anger he’s felt ever since Carys fucked him up with hormones, stripped him naked and left him in the cell to be found by the frustratingly smug Gwen Bloody Cooper, who he never wanted to join them anyway, and Tosh, who is probably right now either putting the CCTV images on the internet or printing them out to take home, depending on whether she likes him today or not.
“I am not getting squashy,” Owen all but shouts, finally remembering at the last minute that he doesn’t want Jack to overhear and come up and join in with the mock-Owen’s-physique party. “I do not have love handles.”
“If all you’re going to do is repeat what I say but in the negative this is going to become very childish and very dull,” Ianto tells him. “Either say something offensive so we’ll be forced to yell at each other for the rest of the day, or leave me alone and go and do your job.”
“You’re the one who wants to get into a fight over fucking Jaffa Cakes,” Owen replies a little sulkily.
“I merely offered you refreshments in an attempt to cheer you up,” Ianto says patiently.
“Not all of us have an eating disorder like you do.”
“And what exactly is the basis for your diagnosis, Doctor Harper?” Ianto asks, giving him a pointed glare.
“Normal people don’t stuff themselves with fatty foods in order to feel better about themselves.”
“You ate three portions of special fried rice the last time you got dumped,” Ianto tells him, displaying that horrible photographic memory for small stupid details. “One after the other. And you’d only known her a week.”
“Don’t judge me until you’ve seen her tits,” Owen says, before he remembers that isn’t actually the bit he’s meant to be protesting. “And that was one time.”
“Obviously it wasn’t or you wouldn’t be all squashy around the waist,” Ianto murmurs, tone neutral, turning his attention back to the coffee machine.
“What is this fixation with my naked body, Ianto?” Owen asks softly, finding a whole new angle to work with. He steps closer, pressing himself against Ianto’s back. After all, if this works in the way he wants it to, Ianto should hopefully hit him first.
“I’m seeing you in a whole new light,” Ianto murmurs, turning his head slightly to look at Owen. The look in his eyes clearly says two can play at this game. “I think the CCTV footage of you might be my new screen background. I can file my documents and stare at your arse.”
Oh, you’re good, Owen thinks. He’s horribly aware that whoever cracks first loses, and only at Torchwood can you have a fight by sexually harassing each other until someone gives in to embarrassment. He and Suzie used to do this; then they actually ended up shagging and arguing kind of took a backseat. Gwen Cooper really should run for her life and her virtue while she still can.
“Why settle for CCTV stills?” Owen asks, mouth too close to Ianto’s ear, pressed so hard against him that he can smell the mixture of coffee and aftershave that clings to Ianto’s skin. “I could show you the real thing.”
He’s played this game with Jack before and lost; he will not lose to Ianto. Not today, when he’s already been made to look enough of a twat as it is.
“Only if we can get those handcuffs out again,” Ianto replies, leaning back comfortably against Owen.
“Is that all you have to offer?” Owen asks, creeping one hand over Ianto’s hip under his suit jacket.
“You won’t explode when you come,” Ianto informs him, tilting his head so that Owen can actually feel Ianto’s mouth moving against his jaw when he speaks.
“That doesn’t sound like much incentive,” Owen murmurs, wondering how much further he’s going to let Ianto push him until he gives in and flees. He doesn’t want to sleep with Ianto, in much the same way he didn’t really want to sleep with Suzie. He grew to like it, but he really doesn’t want to like sex with Ianto. Oh dear God.
Ianto laughs softly, mouth still pressed against the side of Owen’s jaw, and forget being naked in the cells; this is damn incriminating.
“I could offer you incentive,” he whispers, and Owen really thinks that that could break him. He expected to come up here and maybe punch Ianto a couple of times and then walk out of here with a black eye or something; not get caught up in a sexual harassment battle.
Mercifully, Jack calls out:
“Owen, I need you to get testing the air samples from Carys’ cell! If you don’t get down here now I’ll put the footage of you naked on youtube!”
Owen pulls quickly away from Ianto under the guise of being professional, and heads down the stairs without looking back.
“You wouldn’t,” he says, “You’re scared I’ll get more hits than you did when we put that CCTV of you up last Christmas.”
Jack grins his matinee idol smile. “I’m not afraid of a little competition,” he informs Owen. “Go,” he adds. “Go test the air now.”
Owen obeys. A few minutes later, he’s got a cage of rats and the large Perspex cases they use for experiments of these kinds all laid out neatly.
“Coffee,” Ianto announces, walking down into the autopsy room. “In spite of your best efforts to stop me, I’ve managed to make some.”
“Oh, piss off, Ianto,” Owen growls. “I’m busy and I’m having a really shitty day here.”
“You’re not the only one having a bad day,” Ianto replies, walking over to join him.
“Oh yeah? And what exactly can you bring to the pity party?” Owen demands.
“Let’s see: my boss and our alien prisoner have got viscous storage fluid all over the floor of the tourist office that I still have to clean up, my co-worker seems determined to goad me into having a punch-up before today ends, I spent over an hour staring at grainy CCTV footage and then trying to identify the girl we’ve been looking for, and Lisa-”
Ianto stops himself talking, but Owen isn’t looking at him and therefore misses the momentary hunted look in his eyes.
“Who’s Lisa?” Owen asks immediately, sitting down to slide down one side of the special rat case. “Is she your girlfriend? Don’t tell me you’ve managed to con some poor brain-damaged bird into-”
The creepy part, Owen decides later, is the way Ianto’s expression doesn’t flicker. He just tips the mug he’s still holding and pours lukewarm coffee into Owen’s lap. He does it with quite a flourish, Owen has to admit.
“Shut the fuck up,” he says, voice still steady and measured.
Owen stares at him for a moment, and then becomes aware that he has coffee seeping through his jeans and into his underwear.
“You fucking psycho!” he yells. “What the sodding hell were you thinking?”
Ianto doesn’t say anything, he merely scowls flatly. Owen thinks he might actually be angrier now than he was earlier; first sex aliens practically steal his clothes and now Ianto’s poured coffee all over his jeans. Fair enough, he’s got more clothes in the locker downstairs, because Fun With Alien Intestines over the years has taught him to pack more than one clean outfit to change into, but still; today is utterly and completely ridiculous.
“I wish that sex alien had fucking killed you,” Owen snarls childishly, hating the way his wet jeans are clinging to his thighs.
Ianto rolls his eyes in a long-suffering sort of way. “Is this where you declare open war?” he asks, tone bored.
“I’m going to fucking kill you,” Owen hisses. “I’m going to push you in the direction of the sex alien and laugh when you die.”
“For God’s sake,” Ianto mutters, reaching for the cloth Owen keeps around to wipe up spillages, and reaching towards him. A moment later, Owen realises that the coffee is all over his crotch and there’s no way he’s letting Ianto get anywhere near there. He grabs Ianto’s wrist and tries to push him away, and it’s now that Jack finds them, Ianto with his hand half between Owen’s thighs and Owen practically growling at him (in anger, of course. Nothing but anger).
“If you want to get laid that badly, Owen, I’m sure I can let you borrow that pheromone spray sometime.”
Ianto moves away, smirking, and Owen grits his teeth.
“Go away,” he mutters, “Both of you. I’m trying to do an experiment here.”
Jack laughs and wanders away, and Ianto picks up the empty coffee mug and heads for the stairs. Owen feeds the air from Carys’ cell into one of the Perspex containers, and studies the vitals of the rat intently.
A minute later, and blood and bits of fur splash against the sides of the case. Somehow it figures.
That evening, Carys has been retconned and sent home to live a normal life sans arsehole boyfriend, the pink dust that was once the sex alien has been scooped into a tight box for Ianto to file in the archives under whatever topic he deems necessary, and Owen is trying to work out how to spend his night. There’s still some underlying tension he needs to work out, though he’s not sure how to go about doing it.
Tosh practically runs from the Hub the minute Jack says they might as well go home; Owen thinks that Gwen has made them all feel slightly inadequate by being so bright and cheerful about her life. So the rest of them don’t have a life outside the Hub; isn’t that punishment enough without Gwen rubbing it in?
“It wouldn’t kill you to smile once in a while,” Ianto observes helpfully, coming up from their basement. He’s coming from entirely the wrong direction for him to have been in the archives, but Owen doesn’t care enough to ask.
“It might,” he mutters, tossing the words out between his teeth, because he’s had enough. He’s had enough of Gwen and her why-don’t-you-all-care-more attitude, enough of Jack and his stupid mysterious persona, enough of Tosh and her chameleon personality, going from quiet to hard and cold to shy again. And he’s had more than enough of Ianto today.
“Being this angry can’t be good for your blood pressure,” Ianto observes. “Has today really been that bad?”
Owen much prefers it when Ianto limits his conversation to here, I have made you some coffee with the occasional I’ve picked up your dry-cleaning thrown in for variety.
“I made rat jam,” Owen responds hollowly. “You poured coffee on me. A sex alien stole my clothes.”
Ianto considers this, mouth twisting a little.
“Want to have sex?” he asks, in the same bland tone he usually reserves for would you like a coffee?
It’s only sheer force of will that keeps Owen’s mouth from opening in shock. Of all the many things Ianto could have said, he really didn’t see that one coming. It’s possible he’s misheard, but there’s the slightest of flushes high on Ianto’s cheeks, and Owen knows that he hasn’t.
“What the fuck?”
“I’ve had a shitty day too,” Ianto explains calmly. “I want to have sex until it no longer matters, and right now I can’t be arsed to talk to anyone.”
“So you’re asking me.” Owen is astonished at how steady his voice is; he’s sure it should be kind of high-pitched and terrified right now, but somehow it isn’t.
Ianto shrugs. “Well, it’s kind of a toss up between going home with you or waiting around here watching Jack and Gwen pretend that they don’t want to sleep with each other.”
“That could get boring,” Owen agrees, like what Ianto’s saying makes perfect sense, like there’s actually some logic behind the decision he’s probably about to make.
“You should probably lay off Gwen a bit,” Ianto murmurs, suddenly looking away from Owen like he’s feeling a little stupid for even suggesting that Owen might want to try not being a dick for at least part of the time.
“Why do you care what I do to the new girl?” Owen demands, feeling more hostile now that sex has been taken out of the conversation again.
“Jack will probably hurt you if you carry on being such a bastard to Gwen,” Ianto shrugs.
“I repeat: why do you care?”
“I don’t,” Ianto replies, and Owen believes him. “I’m just saying.”
Owen thinks about this for a moment. “I’ll have sex with you if you stop talking,” he offers.
“Done,” Ianto says, smiling a smile that Owen’s never seen before. It’s quite a sweet smile, actually, and he blames that smile entirely on the way he gets up, grabs Ianto’s tie, and pulls him into a kiss.
Well, he’s got to check and see if Ianto will actually be any good before agreeing one hundred percent to a shag. He’s a slut, but a slut with standards, after all. Hopefully.
Ianto’s mouth is warm and soft and the kiss is ok but something’s bothering Owen. He pulls away almost instantly. Ianto gives him a puzzled look.
“You don’t taste like coffee,” Owen blurts, feeling a little like an idiot.
Ianto sighs in a give me strength kind of way. “And you’re surprised about that?”
Owen shrugs. “Actually… yes.”
Ianto’s incredulous expression is kind of hilarious. “If you’d like to go and shag the coffee machine, I’m pretty sure it could be arranged.”
“Shut up,” Owen mutters, and kisses him again. It’s better this time, because Ianto brings up a hand to run through the back of Owen’s hair, pushing him back a little until Owen’s thighs bump against his workstation. They should move, because Jack and Gwen are both still around and this really isn’t the sort of compromising situation Owen wants to get caught in. Not after the stupidity of the rest of today. Still, Owen doesn’t mention this and doesn’t try to push Ianto off him; instead, he tugs his hips a little closer, fingers pressed to the warm material of Ianto’s suit trousers.
When they part to breathe, Ianto’s mouth is wet and red and it’s a good look for him. Not that Owen will ever say that.
“I’ve been thinking about you naked all bloody day,” Ianto informs him, but not in a horny kind of way. More in an annoyed kind of way, like the fact he couldn’t get Owen naked out of his head has been frustrating and inconvenient rather than enjoyable.
“You know,” Owen smirks, “I might start liking you more if you talk dirty more often.”
Ianto laughs quietly, hand sliding out of Owen’s hair and down the back of his neck. “You always get less hostile once you’ve been shagged senseless,” he murmurs.
Owen raises a challenging eyebrow. “And are you going to shag me senseless?” he asks, managing to sound mostly cocky though his voices catches a little at the edges.
“Definitely,” Ianto informs him, leaning forward again, catching Owen’s lower lip between his teeth and tugging a little. Owen’s fingers tighten involuntarily on Ianto’s hips as they kiss again, angry and hard as everything between them always is. He thinks he’d be disappointed if it was any different.
“You know,” Ianto informs him quietly, “You really ought to get yourself a girlfriend.” He pushes back a little into Owen’s hands, which have drifted down to his arse. “Or a boyfriend. I think you’d become less aggressive if you had sex regularly.”
Owen shakes his head. “Like I told Gwen earlier, I can get all the grief I need right here.” Ianto kisses him or maybe he kisses Ianto, and this is stupid because he’s kind of starting to enjoy himself and this is not supposed to be about enjoying himself. It’s just the continuation of a stupid kind of game that he can’t seem to resist playing, with added sex. Because there’s nothing that can’t be made more complicated by adding sex to it.
“I think that might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me,” Ianto observes.
“Don’t get used to it,” Owen warns. “I’ll be right back to abuse tomorrow.”
“Of course,” Ianto murmurs, “‘Cause I’m the ‘fucking useless teaboy’.”
He punctuates the last three words with little thrusts of his hips against Owen’s, and for a moment Owen forgets entirely that this is Ianto, and all he can remember is that he’s angry and the whole sex alien thing has made him frustratingly horny and he might as well work the edges off with the nearest available willing person.
“You might not be entirely useless,” he offers.
“You really are that easy, aren’t you?” Ianto observes, amused, and Owen is about to try and come up with a reasonable reply that will insult Ianto without making him withdraw his offer of sex when the sound of footsteps makes them pull apart instantly. Probably a second too late because Gwen glances between the two of them with a faintly puzzled expression. She probably hasn’t seen enough, though, and it’s not like she’ll bring it up.
“I’m off,” Owen announces loudly, grabbing his leather jacket off the back of his chair and heading for the exit before Gwen can see that he’s allowed their teaboy to give him a hard-on, because it’s not like he’s ever going to admit to it.
“Can I get you a coffee before I leave, Gwen?” Ianto offers graciously, but Owen knows exactly how debauched he looks because Owen did it to him; hair messy and tie askew and mouth this really incriminating red.
“That’s all right, Ianto,” Gwen all but stutters, and just before the cog door finishes closing Owen watches Ianto swish over to pick up his coat before he follows Owen. Somehow, he’s managing this much more classily than Owen; not that it’s a surprise as such. Owen walks up the steps that will eventually lead to the surface, and lets Ianto hurry to catch him up.
“I’ll put retcon in her coffee tomorrow morning,” Ianto says.
Owen glances at him and sees that Ianto’s expression is entirely serious. “You really will, won’t you?”
“I might put it in yours too,” Ianto shrugs. “Depending on how bad this is.”
“It’s not going to be bad,” Owen informs him, irritated by the implications in Ianto’s amused voice, stopping abruptly to push Ianto up against the cold brick wall. He attempts to remove the smugness from Ianto’s voice through the sheer power of a kiss, and he can’t help wondering if there are still some stray sex pheromones somewhere in the air, because Ianto’s thigh slides between his and they’re practically trying to hump each other in the corridor, and, well, fuck. Oh dear God and fuck.
Sex with Ianto was never supposed to be this appealing and even if it’s an unofficial Torchwood rule, that shagging each other will somehow make this all better, Owen always thought he’d somehow manage to restrain himself for a little longer, what with the fact Suzie’s only been dead a week.
“If you’re going to be this frustrated then we can always stop,” Ianto points out a little breathlessly.
Owen’s answering growl is going to humiliate him in the morning, he just knows it. But he doesn’t have a boyfriend to return home to, just his slutty sheets and the waiting silence, and Gwen Cooper inhabits one world and Owen and Ianto inhabit a different one entirely. But it doesn’t make it any less valid, and he’ll keep telling himself that for as long as he can.
Ianto pulls away, apparently aware that they won’t actually leave unless someone manages to cool this down a little, and there are better places than the cold, dark corridor that links the Hub to the tourist office upstairs.
“Next time,” Owen informs him loudly, “I’m just going to punch you until I stop feeling so annoyed.”
Ianto laughs. “Just look at it this way: tomorrow you’ll have something else to blame me for.”
Owen grins, smacking a hand between Ianto’s shoulder blades and then pushing him determinedly towards the end of the tunnel.