Title: Pushing Owen’s Buttons - Part 1-2
Characters: Ianto, Owen, Jack, Tosh, Gwen
Word Count: 1852
Summary: Just because a device is small and looks remarkably familiar, doesn’t mean it can’t cause Torchwood a whole heap of trouble!
Content Notes: Owen does like swearing…
Written For: Challenge #108: Fast-Forward at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
“So what is it?” Ianto called out to Owen as he pickled his way across the rock hard, rutted field to where the medic stood, staring down at the latest object to fall through the Rift.
“Dunno,” Owen replied, hands jammed deep in his jacket pockets against the bitter cold. “Looks sorta like a universal remote. It’s got a shitload of buttons anyway.”
Arriving beside Owen, Ianto crouched down and studied the object without touching it. Torchwood agents knew better than to touch anything that fell through the Rift with bare hands, at least not until it had been declared safe for handling.
“Huh. Maybe that’s all it is. Can’t be too careful though. Wait here while I get a containment box. Don’t want to lose it.”
“God forbid!” Owen agreed. It had taken them more than two hours of searching in freezing winter temperatures made worse by a strong wind, to locate the small device in the vast expanse of the search area. Not knowing what they were looking for, or its precise location since the cold seemed to be affecting communication with the Hub, they’d been forced to start at opposite ends of the ploughed field and work inwards, furrow by furrow. Everything looked the same and the wind would likely blow away anything they left as a visible marker, so it made sense for one of them to stay put. Owen wasn’t happy about having to spend even longer standing out in the biting wind, but Ianto, with his longer legs, could probably get to the SUV and back faster. Besides, he had the keys. “Fine. Just don’t take all bloody day about it!”
Chuckling, Ianto hurried off, heading in the direction of the SUV, parked by the side of the road, slipping and sliding occasionally on treacherous icy patches. He’d just closed the boot and was starting back to Owen’s position, containment box and protective gauntlets in hand, when the first flakes of snow started to drift down, getting heavier by the second. Looked like they were in for a blizzard, pretty soon they wouldn’t be able to see a thing.
“Forget it!” Owen yelled as loud as he could against the wind, his voice faint in the cold air. Pulling his sweater sleeve down over his hand because he’d stupidly left his gloves back at the Hub, he snatched up the device and started to run towards Ianto, stumbling and slipping, trying to reach the SUV before visibility was lost completely.
It was a close thing. He turned his ankle on the uneven ground several times, barely managing not to fall, and the last hundred metres he could barely make out the hedge bordering the road, let alone anything less substantial. But Ianto was calling his name, guiding him as best he could, and at last Owen saw a dark figure looming before him just before he collided with it. They both tumbled to the ground in the wet snow, the device almost slipping out of Owen’s precarious grip and hitting Ianto in the chest even as it made contact with the bare skin of Owen’s wrist. A burning sensation stung his hand and ran up his arm but he ignored it, thinking it was from the cold and the impact.
“You okay?” he asked Ianto, scrambling off the other man’s legs.
“Aside from having most of the breath knocked out of me. Thanks for that, by the way. You?”
“Fuckin’ freezing, but I’m not lost in the blizzard, so that’s a plus. Good thing you’ve got a voice like a foghorn,” he joked, snapping open the containment box, dumping the little gadget in and closing the lid. Ianto unlocked the car and they piled in, slamming the doors behind them quickly to keep the worst of the cold out. Owen leant around to shove the containment box into the back, then slumped into his seat and looked at Ianto. Both were wet from the snow and half frozen, but they were used to it; such was the life of a Torchwood employee. Still, with the engine running and the heat turned on full blast, their hands and feet were soon thawing out and steam was rising from their clothes.
“Sauna in a car,” Owen smirked. “Nice!”
“Never let it be said that Torchwood doesn’t know how to treat the workforce,” Ianto agreed with a chuckle.
Turning the windscreen wipers on high speed, he flicked on the headlights and cautiously pulled out onto the deserted country road. It wouldn’t do them any good trying to wait out the weather; it looked like the snow had set in for the rest of the day. Much more sensible to head back to Cardiff before the roads became impassable. The SUV was well stocked with emergency survival gear, but that didn’t mean either of them wanted to be in a situation where they had to use it.
The drive back to the Hub was slow going and they were passing through Splott before they managed to regain contact with the Hub. Snow was still falling steadily, but because the city’s roads had been recently gritted, it wasn’t really settling much, so the final part of their journey didn’t take long at all. Almost before they knew it, Ianto was pulling into Torchwood Three’s underground garage, where Jack was waiting for them, with steaming mugs of tea liberally laced with brandy. Or was that brandy with a dash of tea?
“There is a God,” Owen groaned in appreciation as he sipped his drink. “Ah, that hits the spot! Right, I’m for a hot shower. Have fun, boys. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” With that, he ambled off in the direction of the main Hub, leaving Jack and Ianto alone in the garage.
“See?” Jack quipped to Ianto, who was cradling his own mug in both hands despite having been mostly warmed by the car’s heater. “Owen thinks I’m a God!”
“Don’t let it go to your head, Jack. He’d say that to anyone who gave him the good alcohol.”
Jack pouted at once again being denied godhood in Ianto’s eyes. He’d been trying for weeks to get Ianto to admit he was a sex god, to no avail. By now he’d reached the point where being thought any kind of god would do.
“So, did you at least find what came through the Rift or is it still out there buried beneath the snow?”
“We got it. Nothing to get thrilled about though, looks like a remote control from a few years in the future.” Ianto handed Jack his empty mug and reached into the back seat of the SUV for the containment box. “I’ll drop it off for Tosh to take a look at, then I’m going to take a shower and get changed.” He’d pulled on jeans, a sweater and work boots for the jaunt into the country, in deference to the wintry weather, but unlike the rest of the team, he didn’t consider casual clothes to be appropriate work attire.
“I can take it to Tosh if you want to get to the showers before Owen uses all the hot water,” Jack offered.
“That’s an offer I’m not going to refuse.” Ianto leant in to give Jack a quick peck on the lips, simultaneously shoving the small containment unit against Jack’s chest, forcing him to grab it with his free hand. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome!” Jack called to Ianto’s retreating back. “Huh, you’d think I’d get more respect, being the boss,” he muttered, following in Ianto’s wake.
Jack reached the main Hub just in time to see Ianto vanishing down the stairs towards the showers. Much as he would have liked to join his lover and indulge in some steamy shower fun, he didn’t think Ianto would appreciate it, not with Owen there too. Ianto was open-minded, but he drew the line at spectators, especially if they were colleagues. Sighing wistfully, Jack plodded over to Tosh’s workstation.
“Fair Toshiko, I come bearing gifts!” He dumped the box down on top of some files.
“Oh, they found it?”
“Looks that way. Don’t get your hopes up though, looks like it’s probably near-future earth tech, nothing of earth-shaking importance.”
“It’s still interesting,” Tosh said brightly. “Seeing the way familiar items are going to evolve over the coming years.”
Jack brightened and planted a kiss on the top of Tosh’s head. “That’s my Toshiko, ever the optimist. Well, enjoy. See what you make of it and we’ll all get together over lunch in the boardroom.”
Tosh hustled into the boardroom just as Ianto was handing out coffee and Gwen was distributing takeaway containers. It was definitely a day that called for a hot lunch. She slid into her seat and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear before opening the Styrofoam box in front of her and digging in.
“So,” she announced, waving a chip vaguely. I’ve run a full battery of tests on the device Owen and Ianto found.” She looked down the table at Jack. “You were right. As far as I can tell, it’s an ordinary remote control, just a little more compact than the ones we’re used to, probably from a few years in the future. It has all the expected buttons: play, stop, fast-forward, rewind, pause, skip and so on… there are some other buttons I haven’t been able to identify, but they probably relate to functions that are unique to the device it’s designed for.”
“Great,” Owen grumbled. “We went through all that, freezing our arses off and risking frostbite, for something that probably fell down the back of someone’s sofa.” He took a gulp of coffee. “It’s safe, right? I mean, nothing harmful about it?”
Jack frowned. “Why? Something happen out there that you two haven’t told me?”
“It started snowing heavily before I could get back to Owen with the containment box, so he had to improvise. But he pulled his sleeve over his hand; there was no direct contact with his skin. Right Owen?”
“Right.” Owen nodded. “Except, maybe when I ran into you,” he glanced at Ianto, “I lost my grip and it might have just brushed my arm. I’m not sure though, I was so bloody cold I could barely feel a thing.”
“Well, I did comprehensive scans and it’s saturated with Rift energy, but I didn’t detect any harmful radiation, microbes or anything else that could pose a health risk. I don’t think you have anything to worry about, Owen.” Tosh smiled reassuringly at the medic, who nodded back at her.
“Thanks, Tosh. Not that I was worried, just can’t be too careful in this game.”
“Is it okay to just enter it into the archives now?” Ianto asked.
“I don’t need to do anything else with it. You can collect it from my workstation whenever you’re ready for it,” Tosh smiled.
They spent the rest of their lunchtime discussing non-work related subjects and when they’d all finished eating, they each drifted away to continue their own work, none of them giving another thought to the device.