They've been here for days now -- picking through the rubble, vaporizing or storing anything dangerous, anything the public can't see. Anything Cyberman. They each have two UNIT guards, and this whole thing would go a lot faster if they were willing to split up, each one take a separate floor, or even a separate room. But neither of them wants to.
They don't say it, obviously, but if one of them moves out of eyesight of the other, they're quick to move. And the UNIT soldiers, pale underneath their absurd red caps, are understanding, moving in quiet circles that hardly ever take them out of arm's reach of their charges. It's almost enough to make Owen feel reassured.
He's been down to Torchwood London before, twice. So it's not like he knows these people well, but the destruction is evident through most of the building -- the lower levels scorched and gutted, blasted hallways filled with rubble until it's nothing like the pristine white halls Owen remembers comparing mockingly to the cavernous expanse of the underground Hub. The fact remains that they are the only two living members of Torchwood in this building, and it's really only as a courtesy than anything else -- UNIT is running this investigation, Jack has sent Suzie and Owen as representatives, not even coming out of his office himself, just sitting there, staring at the list of the dead again.
He keeps expecting to see bodies, to see blood. But the Cybermen apparently took care of most of that, incinerating the bodies before they ran out of time, and began co-opting them whole.
Owen and the UNIT doctors had spent half of yesterday being ill as they went through the 'survivors' of the final hours of the battle. It would have been longer, but there had been so few.
The rubble shifts underneath his feet, snapping him out of his thoughts. Suzie puts a hand out to steady him -- an unusual gesture for her, usually steely and unperturbed. He grabs it, holding tightly.
"I think —" His voice is a rasp and he stops, swallows, starts over again. "I think that's it for this room. Let's take a break for a bit, hey?" The others nod with sombre eagerness, and they begin picking their way out of the dark tomb.
They all blink in surprise when they come out into the sunlight. It feels like they've been trapped in that cave for ages, but when Owen glances at his watch, it's only been three hours. The sun is out, and there is only a scattering of clouds in the sky. The park plaza sits undisturbed, with its cheery white flowers and perky shrubs and trees, as if nothing more exciting than normal had happened a week ago. He sits on the steps, tucked into a corner of the plaza, out of the public line of sight. Suzie sits down next to him. He stares at the yellow caution tape, fluttering in the wind.
"You know, Jack always talks about how dangerous this job is, but you don't —" He shakes his head, not sure how to word it, but Suzie knows what he means.
"That was their problem. They got too cocky. We'll have to be careful now." She leans against him a little, and he takes her hand again. It's warm, alive. They've all been walking around like ghosts, every one of them, brittle and harsh, like if they stop to talk to each other the reality of what happened here will finally set in. He looks at the soldiers and for all he knows, they could be robots, in suits of skin instead of metal. But not her. He can feel her pulse through her skin.
It's not enough. He turns towards her, desperate suddenly, trying not to think about the cloying stench of death all around them in that building. The smoothness of her flesh replaces the feel of soot and ash. She obviously feels the same as she opens her mouth for him, and he kisses her hungrily, feeling her alive and vibrant, moving and organic, pliant. No metal. Her hands are on his face, one of his is wrapped in her hair, the other feeling the bumps of her vertebrae, the warm skin on her back.
They kiss, again and again, not letting go. They are alive. They are the only ones.2. Ianto
Ianto doesn't go for his mouth first. He goes for his shirt, trying to pull it over his head, which gives Owen time to actually back away, keeping Ianto at literal arm's length, though Owen is desperately aware of the wall now at his back. He really has nowhere to go. Still, he tries.
"Ianto, come on. You don't want to do this. It's just the spores from that plant-thing --"
," Ianto says with a growl, lunging forward past Owen's arms to pin Owen's shoulders to the wall, sliding one thigh between Owen's legs, and pressing his face into the curve of his shoulder to bite at the tendon there. "And I know you don't have a fix for it." Owen gasps breathlessly as Ianto shifts his thigh.
"So I figure," Ianto says, one hand stealing up under his too-thin t-shirt to tweak a nipple, "I'm going to get crap from you over this for a good long while." His hand drifts down. And down
. "This might cut it down a week or two."
Owen swallows. Ianto's cock is pressed up hard against his own erection, and he's moving
. But really, there are about a dozen reasons why he shouldn't do this, he’s sure, the least of which is the one Ianto mentioned.
"Besides," Ianto says, and his Welsh accent has all but dropped out in the sex-charged gravel. "It'll piss the hell out of Jack." His mouth is on Owen's again, and this time Owen opens up, dragging his tongue across Ianto's lips hungrily, and thrusting up with his hips. Because damn if the boy doesn't have a point. And having to deal with an embarrassed Ianto for months would just be tedious.
Jack will just have to live with the CCTV footage like the rest of them usually do.3. Jack
"Come on, Owen!" Jack yells from up ahead. Owen hadn't noticed at first, but he is slowly starting to fall behind. It's not surprising, really. They've been going on about 36 hours now, trying to find the crash site, and get the aliens and the ship out of sight before the locals came round. Fortunately there are more sheep than people out here on this stretch of coast, so it's easy enough to sink the small craft in the deep water, using the same rocks that tore it open to hide its presence from any unsuspecting humans.
Owen glowers at Jack, and trots to catch up. Tosh and Ianto have driven off with the surviving aliens in the first SUV, leaving Owen and Jack the long walk back to the second vehicle, once the rest of the evidence is disposed of. Owen tucks his hands deeper into his armpits and shivers. He doesn't remember the car being this far away, and he's fucking freezing
. Of course, being half-drenched in sea spray doesn't help anything, and it's a cloudy, miserable December day. He glares at Jack in his nice warm wool coat. Though he'd bet it's more the hot air coming out of his mouth that keeps him warm.
"Owen!" Jack yells again. Christ, that man is impatient.
"I'm coming, I'm coming, keep your pants on." He jogs a little faster, catching up at last. Jack has stopped, and is watching him, a curious frown marring his features, which have pinked in the cold.
"You okay?" Jack asks, eyeing him critically. The wind picks up a little and Owen winces as it buffets at him. It's probably about 4 degrees out, less with wind chill. The sky is heavy with purple clouds that look like they're going to dump loads of snow on them at any second. There had been no sign of this when they'd left Cardiff, and Owen was wishing he'd brought a heavier jacket.
"I'm fine, just freezing my balls off. Where the hell's the SUV?" He stamps his feet while they stand. They feel like blocks of ice.
Jack turns his head to look behind him. "It should be just over that hill." He turns back. "I want to get out of here before that storm breaks."
As if on cue, the first smattering of snowflakes fall between them, heavy and damp, in thick clusters, hurtling towards the ground and sticking. They are quickly joined by more.
"Great. Thanks for that, Harkness," Owen says sarcastically, and they break into a quick lope to the car.
For once Owen doesn't mind taking the passenger's seat, it being the nearer of the two, and he lets Jack take the long way round to the other side while he brushes the snow out of his hair.
He's blowing on his fingers, waiting for the wonderful sound of the engine turning over as Jack puts the key to the ignition, but all he gets is a desultory growl, ch-chunk-kunk-thunk
, and the engine goes dead. Jack tries again, with similar results.
"What the hell, I thought this thing was only a couple of years old?"
Jack gives a growl and throws himself out of the car, opening the bonnet. Owen reaches over and pulls Jack's door closed.
The next few minutes fade out in a succession of muffled bangs and curses as Jack investigates the engine, though Owen has stopped caring. He just wants to get warm. He dimly realizes his teeth have stopped chattering -- that's a bad sign, isn't it?
He looks up with a start when the door whips open, letting in a blast of cold air and an unbothered Jack Harkness. The man looks the same as he does when it's thirty out, the only sign of the cold pink cheeks and a heavy dappling of snow along his shoulders.
"Damn thing’s frozen over. We don't usually go out in weather this bad, it's not surprising. Still, it should be fine in an hour or two and --" Jack stops when it's obvious Owen's not listening. "Owen?"
Owen starts when one of Jack's big hands comes out of nowhere and cups the back of his neck. "Jesus, Owen, you're freezing!" And then both of Jack’s hands are all over him, pawing, groping, tugging at his jacket. "Your clothes are soaked, why didn't you say something --"
"I did, I said 'Oh Christ, now I've got half Tremadog down my back --"
"-- of course you did, then you shut up, I thought you were fine --"
"-- no, I said I'm piss-wet, and you laughed and said something about skinny dipping, and decided it would be a good idea to sink the ship in the Bay. Get off." He bats Jack's hands away ineffectually.
"You're right, you're right," Jack says, and he does sound upset, but he doesn't back off, hands still tugging at Owen's wet jacket, until at last it gives up the ghost and peels away. Jack keeps going after the next layer. Owen tries to pull away, unsurprised that Jack is winning the battle, even with half of the drive train lodged between them. "Come on, Owen, you're a doctor, you know these things have got to come off. Work with me here."
The SUV has a pretty good first aid kit, but it doesn't have spare clothes -- Ianto has forbidden that, for some odd reason -- and Owen's not about to trust his good bits to the flimsy protection of the foil emergency blankets. "Get off," he mutters again. "I'll just use the hot packs from the first aid kit."
Jack reddens, and has the good grace to look ashamed. "They’re all gone. I'm using them to heat up the engine. I needed a jump-start." Owen rolls his eyes. Great. Jack glares at him. "If you’d said something earlier --" Wind shakes the SUV briefly, and the snow is falling furiously outside.
"We'd be stuck here all night instead of just a few hours." Owen pulls away from Jack.
"Oh no you don't." Jack's not taking no for an answer, and no part of Owen is surprised. "Come here." And Jack's hands are on him again, and Christ, how are they so warm? "Jesus, Owen, your lips are turning blue!" And his shirt is gone, and Jack's hands are gone, and he wants to shiver, and he can't
Then all of a sudden there is heat
, and something heavy draped across his back, and with a startlingly smooth tug, he finds himself straddling Jack's lap.
He blinks, but he's still there. Jack laughs, a small chuckle, and the ghost of warm air skims its way across his earlobe. Jack is tucking Owen's hands behind him, low on his back about where his kidneys are, pinning them between him and the seat in a parody of an embrace, while Jack's own arms are circled around Owen's shoulders, maintaining his balance, and keeping Jack's coat pressed to his back. Jack looks at him, and the corners of his eyes crinkle in a small smile.
Owen is too tired to protest -- when did he get this exhausted? Isn't he not supposed to sleep? Or is that only before you get warmed up, because he's definitely warming up now. Jack's body is blasting out heat like a furnace. He tucks his face into Jack's neck, right where the carotid artery sends fresh, warm blood pulsing close to the skin, and for once he doesn't protest, doesn't say anything, and Jack responds with no taunts, no chiding remarks, no mystery. He just presses a hand to the back of Owen's skull, and turns his head a little, without disturbing Owen, and plants a kiss near his temple, hidden in the softness of his still-damp hair, a secret between the two of them.4. Tosh
Really, Owen's not used to this. Most of their work at Torchwood is of the point-and-shoot variety. Chasing things, yeah, he can handle. Stealthily pursuing things in a crowded street and trying not to get noticed? There, he's not so good. He's still fuming that Jack sent him to chase this alien that they're not allowed to actually make contact with, and, moreover, gave him Tosh
as backup. She’s okay -- steady in the field, knows how to handle a weapon, but she sticks out like a sore thumb in this crowd of Friday-night clubbers and partiers.
She's really throwing him off his game. It's not the heavy bass or the flashing neon lights, or the dim, smoky atmosphere pouring out of the bars around them. Those are all things he's used to. But she's not, and he can feel her discomfort, keeping her on edge just enough that it's keeping him
on edge. They're supposed to look like everyone else, two young adults out having fun, getting drunk and living it up, except Tosh looks like she'd rather be cleaning out the Weevils' cells than be out here. She'd startled any time someone had bumped into her on the dance floor when they were still inside, and even out here with less of a crowd she's still on edge. They're both spooking and starting enough that that Flern is going to notice them any second.
Which is why, he tells himself, he grabs Tosh by the waist and presses her up against the brick wall of the building they're failing to hide behind, and presses his lips to hers. She's quick on the uptake and her lips part easily under his. His tongue slides naturally into her mouth, chasing after her own, and she's warm and sweet and tastes amazing. Forgetting himself for a second, he chases after the taste, spicy and sharp. One hand has inched its way up her thigh under her skirt and the other is sliding under her blouse to trace the soft skin of her lower back, and her hands are clutching his shoulders before he realizes the Flern has moved on, unaware of them, and he backs away hastily. Tosh's face is flushed and red, which looks pretty on her pale skin. He has to work hard to keep his breathing even.
What the hell was that? He wouldn’t have labeled Tosh as a good snog -- she's so distant and quiet when she's not scolding him, but he's not about to risk a slap from her if he tries that again. Tosh is not his biggest fan at the best of times. He pushes the matter out of his mind -- back to work, where Tosh is already trying to undo the work he has done.
"There, now we look more like we fit in," he says, batting Tosh's hands away when she tries to smooth out her shirt. "Just gotta catch up to it again." He turns the corner, trying to set off in the same direction without looking like he's tailing the thing too obviously. Tosh takes another second, then follows behind him, silently. She still looks out of place -- a little wall-eyed, maybe she wasn't expecting she’d have to kiss him -- but gamely following along, good old dependable Tosh. 5. Gwen
If he'd been someone else, looking in on the scenario, Owen would have thought that Gwen would have taken him aside and told him separate from the group that she was marrying Rhys. Not out of any sense of responsibility for their former affair, or anything of that nature. But as a chance to get all the jokes, all the stinging words out of the way quickly, without the rest of the battered team around them to hear and bring up old hurts.
But she didn't. The attempt to fill Jack's shoes was bigger than either one of them, and they'd been forced to get over their rocky relationship and find an uneasy truce, and so Owen was as surprised as Ianto and Tosh when Gwen told them, after work one day at the pub. Tosh made excited noises and Ianto asked politely about how much time off she'd like for a honeymoon, and Owen made a flippant remark because it was expected of him, but it wasn't cutting. He downed another pint.
Then, slowly, one by one, they are the only two left at the bar. Conversations buzz around them, and shapes move past, but it's really just them.
"Am I doing the right thing, Owen?" Gwen asks, out of nowhere, and he can't believe she’s asking him that question. But maybe she isn't, because she goes right on. "I mean, Rhys doesn't even know what I do, and I just dump all my shit
--" She stops, crosses her arms over her chest tightly, as if that will prevent her from speaking more. Owen watches her, but he doesn't say anything.
"Every day. Every day, I look at him and think, I could tell him. Jack isn't here, no one would have to know, I could just tell him
." Her voice is fierce. "And if he asked me to, I'd leave Torchwood in a heartbeat." She turns to stare directly at Owen. "So I don't." She's trembling, that kind of angry fear she has.
He doesn't know what it is that Jack saw in Gwen, or how the hell the man had thought that dragging Gwen down into their mess would help any of them, but seeing her looking at him like that makes him want to help her again, though he knows he's the last person able to do it.
"So don't," he says, and Gwen starts. It's obviously not the answer she was expecting from him. What was she expecting? "But if you take and you take, and you only give when he asks, try giving when he doesn't. He doesn't have to know everything to understand." He sighs. "And you do need someone who understands." The words are an apology and an admission. He'd never tried that hard to understand what Gwen was asking of him.
She nods. "That's --" Smiles. "That's a lot classier than I expected of you, Owen. You getting all sensitive on me?" And there she is, teasing without cutting, the only one he can manage it with. Now that Jack's gone.
He smiles back, and leans over to kiss her cheek. "Don’t tell the others, okay? Wouldn't want to sully my stellar reputation." And she laughs, and for once he's glad Jack’s not here.
Tags: whovian, writing