Characters: Ianto, Owen, Jack.
Spoilers: Nada. Canon AU.
Summary: Ianto finds an effective way of motivating Owen to do better with his paperwork, which yields incredibly long-lasting results.
Word Count: 1302
Written For: Challenge 103: Detail at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“Why do we have to fiddle with all this stuff anyway?” Owen complained when Ianto asked whether he’d finished writing up his latest mission report yet. “There’s no point to it. Why can’t we just put a one in the win column and call it a day?”
“It’s no good just calling something a win and not explaining how that win came about, Owen. We need to make notes of everything; the smallest and least significant-seeming detail could mean the difference between life and death the next time we encounter one of these aliens.”
“But I’ve got everything right here!” Owen tapped his head. “Why does it have to be written down and filed in triplicate as well as saved on the computer?”
“What happens if the next time Torchwood encounters a Mikkona you’re not there? You could be off sick or something, or it could be fifty years from now… What you don’t seem to get is that we’re not just gathering all this information for ourselves in the here and now. The reports we write today could save lives far in the future. Torchwood has existed for over a hundred years already, and a lot of our victories are down to the detailed information earlier teams collected and filed, information we wouldn’t have if they’d had the same attitude to reports as you have. As to why we have paper copies as well as the computer files, that’s because if we lose power like we did a few months ago, we can’t access the information on the computers.”
“Got an answer for everything, don’t you?” Owen grumbled.
“I can’t answer questions regarding medical matters; that’s your department, so get on with your report, and be as detailed as you can be.”
“I prefer the term ‘Office Administrator’. It has a more official ring to it, but if ‘Slave Driver’ works for you… Not sure how Jack will feel about my borrowing his whip, he prefers to keep that for his own personal use, but I’m sure he’d be happy to make an exception if that’s what it takes to get the job done.”
“Jack owns a whip? God, I did NOT need to know that!”
“You brought it up,” Ianto said mildly, turning away. Then he turned back for one final try. “Owen, you are on the forefront… no, you ARE the forefront of medical, chemical, zoological, and biological discovery when it comes to alien species. I would have thought you’d be eager to record all your findings for future generations. One day Torchwood and all our work will become public knowledge. Don’t you want to go down in history as the foremost authority on the subject of alien medicine? Not to mention all the discoveries you’re making that could benefit humanity. Do you really want the scientists at UNIT to get all the glory when the time comes? Don’t you want it to be your name and your research that everyone’s talking about five hundred years from now?”
That got Owen’s interest. He leaned back in his seat and looked up at Ianto thoughtfully. “You really think that could happen?”
“Not if you don’t record your observations and findings in full detail. Just because we might not have a use for a lot of what you discover right now doesn’t mean we never will. Someday alien races might be referencing your work in scientific papers. So what if you can’t publish right now? Even when all of us are gone, Jack will still be around and he can get your work published when the world, and the wider universe, is ready for it.”
“That would be something, wouldn’t it? I always thought someday I’d like to get published in one of the big scientific journals,” Owen admitted. “Okay, fine.” He pulled his notes towards him, opened a document on his computer, and started typing. “How about coffee to lubricate the world famous medical genius while he works?”
“That I can provide; all you had to do was ask.”
“I just did.” Owen didn’t look up from his computer screen, so he didn’t see Ianto’s satisfied smile as Torchwood’s GSO turned in the direction of the Hub’s kitchen.
The latest edition of the Journal of Medicine contained a fascinating paper by Dr Owen Harper that had all the world’s most eminent scientists talking, calling it groundbreaking and influential, while the man himself was lauded as a visionary, among many other complimentary terms.
Ianto smiled; it was nothing less than the truth. Owen was long gone, of course, he’d died of old age more than five hundred years earlier, but Ianto had made a promise to his friend all those centuries ago, that some day he would be remembered for his work in the fields of medicine and biology, both human and alien, and Ianto always kept his promises if at all possible.
Torchwood was public knowledge now, and Owen’s research had been published in the form of several highly regarded academic volumes, as well as dozens of papers in the most important scientific journals over the last fifty years or so. Ianto only wished Owen could have been there to bask in his fame and the universal acclaim for his work, which was frequently praised for being so detailed and thorough. Who would have guessed that Ianto’s reprimand so long ago would result in such an outpouring of knowledge from the acerbic medic? It just went to show what could be achieved with the proper motivation.
“Owen was ahead of his time, thanks to the Rift.” Jack smiled wistfully, leafing through Owen’s paper on his handheld computer.
“He’d be insufferable if he was here to see all this, lapping up all the attention, and no doubt bragging,” Ianto chuckled. “Modesty was never his strong point.”
“He was a genius in his field; it’s just that it’s taken a long time for that fact to be universally acknowledged.”
Ianto inclined his head, accepting the truth of his husband’s words as they relaxed in their comfortable kitchen, enjoying breakfast. Universal was right; the journals, and Owen’s books, were in publication across all the planets humanity had colonised, as well as many alien worlds. He was going to be remembered for the advances he’d made in his chosen fields for millennia to come. It was a fitting tribute. “We should get moving; don’t want to be late for work.”
Jack was unworried. “We can’t be late; we’re the bosses.”
After taking a lengthy sabbatical from Torchwood in order to travel, helping set up human colonies and broker trade agreements with various alien races, they’d returned to earth forty years or so ago and taken up the reins as joint directors of the Torchwood Institute once more. They were living in exciting times. With humanity making first contact with new races so frequently, someone had needed to train the diplomats and ambassadors who would handle those delicate situations. Who better than two immortal humans with several hundred years of experience in dealing with aliens?
“We don’t want to set a bad example with the new batch of employees though,” Ianto reminded Jack.
“I suppose you’re right. Don’t want them to develop bad habits; we had enough of that with the old team.”
Ianto glanced towards the big framed picture hanging on the living room wall; Jack’s original team, squeezed onto the sofa beneath the Torchwood sign in the old Hub, smiling for the camera. The Doctor had taken that picture for them, Jack, Ianto, Tosh, Owen, Gwen, Rhys, Andy, and Mickey. Those days were long gone, and so were the people, all except the two of them, but none of them would ever be forgotten, not as long as Jack and Ianto lived, and that would be a very long time indeed.