Title: Pushing Owen’s Buttons – Part 2-2
Characters: Ianto, Owen, Jack, Tosh, Gwen
Word Count: 2507
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.
Some time later, bored and with nothing to do because the weather was interfering with his internet connection, Owen went down to the archives intent on annoying Ianto, one of his favourite pastimes. He found the archivist studying the device they’d found, logging its characteristics for its file: dimensions, weight, colour, full description including diagrams and/or photographs… The information in Ianto’s archives was always very detailed, even for items that couldn’t be identified.
“It’s a remote control, why can’t you just put ‘remote control’ and be done with it?”
“Because it wouldn’t be accurate, and if I don’t keep accurate records, we might not be able to locate what we need when we need it.”
“Why would we need to find a remote control? And anyway, why would it be hard to find something filed under ‘remote control’?”
“Because,” Ianto said patiently, “it’s not the only remote control down here. There are one hundred and thirty seven items down here that are remote control devices of one kind or another. This makes one hundred and thirty eight. What happens if the object this is designed to control falls through the Rift and we need to stop it doing something dangerous? Are we supposed to try them all at random until one works?”
“Got an answer to everything, don’t you, smartarse?” Owen folded his arms across his chest and leant against the wall beside Ianto’s worktable in his archive cubbyhole.
“Was there something you wanted, Owen? Or are you just being an annoying prat?”
“What do you think?” Owen smirked evilly.
“I think you’re trying to keep me from getting my work done.” Ianto jokily pointed the remote control at Owen and pressed ‘fast-forward’. “Go away already.”
Owen jerked away from the wall, his arms waving erratically. He was speaking, but his voice came out high pitched and jabbering, like a tape recording speeded up, and Ianto couldn’t understand what he was saying. Abruptly, he swung around to the doorway and walked rapidly and jerkily away through the archives. Ianto stared at his retreating form, then looked at the remote in his hand. Quickly he pressed ‘stop’. Owen froze in mid-step and Ianto’s eyebrows vanished into his hairline. Tentatively, he pressed ‘rewind’ and watched as Owen walked rapidly backwards into the small office, swivelled so his back was to the wall, flailed about a bit, jabbered in reverse, refolded his arms and leant against the wall. Ianto stabbed at the ‘play’ button.
“What do you think?” Owen smirked evilly.
“I think something seriously weird is going on.” Ianto frowned at the remote and scratched his head. “What just happened?”
“What’re you on about? Nothin’ just happened. You asked if I was being an annoying prat, I replied, and here we are.”
“No, that’s not what happened. You speeded up and headed out of here, then I pressed the rewind button and you came back.”
“You feelin’ alright, mate?” Owen unfolded his arms and pushed away from the wall. “Sounds like you had a bit of an hallucination. I should probably check you out.”
“There’s nothing wrong with me, it’s you I’m worried about. You said this touched your bare arm when you mowed me down out there.” Ianto waved vaguely in the general direction of ‘out there’.”
Owen threw his arms up in the air. “Nothing happened! And I only said it might have touched me. My arm’s fine, see?” He waved both arms around.
“And you felt nothing?”
“Just a bit of a burn from the cold, lasted a couple of seconds tops. Nothin’ to be concerned about.”
“I’m not so sure about that.”
“Look, I think I should check you out, maybe you hit your head when I knocked you down, could be a mild concussion.”
“I’m fine, I definitely didn’t hit my head; I’d remember if I had.”
“Not necessarily, not if you have a concussion. You coming up to the med bay?”
“No. I want to figure out what’s going on.”
“Fine!” Owen threw his arms in the air again, looking exasperated. “I’ll just go tell the boss that you’re being a stubborn bastard and let him convince you!” Owen swung around, stalked through the door and headed away.
Ianto aimed the remote at Owen’s back and pressed ‘fast-forward’. Owen’s steps speeded up and Ianto jogged after him, hitting play when the medic was halfway up the first flight of stairs. Owen took two more steps upward, then faltered, confused.
“How the hell did I get here?” He turned around and saw Ianto standing at the foot of the steps, grinning and pointing the remote at him. A finger hovered over a button… “What are you doing?”
He pressed the button and Owen blinked. Ianto was gone.
A hand tapped his shoulder, making Owen nearly leap out of his skin and spin around. “Jesus, Teaboy! Give me a heart attack, why don’t ya? How the fuck did you do that?”
Ianto shrugged. “I put you on pause.”
“Stop muckin’ about.”
“I’m not. You’re remote controlled!”
Before Owen could do anything, Ianto was pressing another button.
Well, Ianto assumed that was what Owen yelled, but as he’d just pressed ‘mute’ there was no sound. Owen’s eyes went comically wide; he clutched at his throat and tried to yell.
Snatching the remote from Ianto’s hand, Owen aimed it at himself and stabbed repeatedly at the ‘mute’ button, to no avail. He couldn’t make a sound. He pointed it at Ianto and pressed one button after another, but nothing happened.
“Give it here.” Ianto reached for the remote, but Owen backed off. “I don’t think it’ll work for you, so if you want your voice back…” Owen stopped, scowling, thinking things through. Finally, mouthing something Ianto thought might be ‘Okay, you prick!’ he handed the remote back to his colleague. At that moment he wasn’t willing to think of Ianto as a friend.
“Look, I wasn’t trying to hurt you or anything, just to convince you that there’s nothing wrong with me, you’re the one with the problem. Something happened that’s made this,” he waved the remote control, “work on you. Now we need to figure out why, whether or not it affects anyone else, and how to undo whatever it’s done, okay? For that we’ll need Tosh’s help, probably Jack’s too. You with me?”
“Okay, I’ll un-mute you, just please don’t yell.” He pressed the button once more and stared at Owen. Owen just stared back. “Well? Say something!”
“Shut up. I’m trying to think of a suitable insult, you pillock! Give me that, I don’t trust you with it.” He snatched the remote again and stomped off up the stairs. Ianto rolled his eyes and followed.
“Jack?” Ianto called as he and Owen stepped out into the main Hub. “We have kind of a problem.”
“What kind of a problem are we talking about?” Jack sauntered out of his office and leant on the catwalk railings.
“Not entirely sure, but now Owen works by remote control.” Coming up behind Owen, Ianto whisked the remote out of his grasp, earning a startled cry of “Give it back!”, and pressed ‘pause’, making the other man freeze in place even as he was reaching out to reclaim the device. Ianto backed off to a safe distance, and with another click of the button, set his beleaguered colleague back in motion. Owen’s hand closed on thin air and he looked around wildly, trying to locate Ianto.
“Stop doing that!”
Up on the catwalk, Jack chuckled. “Very funny, guys. You had me going for a moment there!”
“Oh, I wish it was a joke,” Owen said feelingly. “That bloody Teaboy of yours is having a high old time messing around with that bleedin’ remote! He’d have me jumpin’ through hoops if he could!”
“I don’t think there’s a button for that.” Ianto studied the remote. “Haven’t tried this one yet though!” He prodded at the button marked ‘Next’ and watched as Owen blinked out, reappearing further into the Hub. Interesting.
“Whoa!” Jack sounded more than a little started; Owen just looked put out.
“Well, as I was saying…” Ianto looked up at Jack. “Kind of a problem.”
Jack made his way down the steps and over to Ianto, holding his hand out. “Give me that.”
Ianto handed over the remote control and shoved his hands in his pockets as Jack studied the small device. “Huh. Looks perfectly ordinary.” He aimed it at Ianto and pressed ‘fast-forward’. Ianto remained where he was.
“Owen already tried that.”
Jack tried the little gadget out on Tosh, then Gwen, to no effect. He pointed it at Owen, pressing ‘pause’, but when the medic continued to move, he shook it and looked at it in disappointment. “Doesn’t seem to work for me.”
Ianto took the remote back and pointed it at Jack, pressing ‘skip’. Nada. Turning to Owen, he pressed the ‘skip’ button again.
“Argh! You’re a dead man, Jones!” Owen yelled as he started skipping around the Hub.
“Oops! Sorry, Owen, didn’t know it would do that,” Ianto called cheerily, pressing ‘play’ to return the other man to normal.
“I’ll get you for this, you bastard!” Owen snarled, balling his hands into fists and stalking towards the other men.
“Owen, that’s enough!” Jack snapped. “Focus on the problem at hand. What exactly happened during the retrieval?”
It was Ianto who spoke. “It started snowing. I was over at the SUV getting the containment box; Owen was out in the field keeping an eye on the device. He pulled his sweater sleeve over his hand to avoid contact with his skin, picked the device up and ran towards me. He was maybe two hundred metres away from me, and before he covered half the distance, the snow was so thick I couldn’t see him. I kept calling his name; he followed my voice and ran headlong into me, knocked me flat on my back. Something, presumably this,” he waved the remote control, “jabbed me in the chest, here.” He rubbed his sternum. “I’ll probably have a lovely bruise.”
Owen was nodding. “Yeah, nearly knocked it out of my hand, the end of it might’ve touched my wrist.” He pulled up his sleeve. “If it did, it didn’t leave a mark. I felt something though, just for a second, a burning, cold sensation along my forearm. But we were on the ground in a snowstorm, I figured I just got some snow up my sleeve; there was enough of it about.”
“Can you remember if you pressed any buttons?” asked Tosh, taking the remote from Ianto and studying it.
“I don’t know. I could barely feel my hands.”
“Which way around were you holding it?” Tosh looked at him expectantly, holding the remote out to him. “Show me.”
Owen took it and turned it so it was pointing towards him. “Like this.”
“So when you ran into Ianto, the operator end would have hit him and the sensor end would have touched you.”
“I don’t recognise all the symbols. Some are obvious, some are even in English, but there’s a whole group of buttons with symbols that don’t match anything we use at present. I don’t want to play with them when I don’t know what they do, and I don’t want to dismantle it in case it harms Owen.”
“Does it have a power source that could be removed?” asked Jack.
“I didn’t see any sign of a battery compartment when I was photographing it for the archives,” Ianto replied.
Tosh looked it over. “There doesn’t seem to be any way to open it.”
“So what do we do? Just put it in the secure archives and leave it? I mean, if no one can press the buttons, it can’t affect Owen, right?” asked Gwen.
“In theory. But what if it runs out of power? Will Owen suddenly switch off?” Tosh was frowning, worried. “No, we need to sever the three-way connection between the remote control unit, Owen and Ianto.”
“How do you suggest we do that?” Owen grumbled.
“I don’t know.”
Ianto took the remote control from her and Owen took a step back.
“You better not be planning anything!”
“Relax, Owen, I just want to look at the options.” He studied the array of buttons thoughtfully. Owen moved closer to look too. Suddenly, Ianto grinned. “Yes!”
Before anyone could move, Ianto grabbed Owen’s arm, jabbed the device against his wrist and pressed a button. Owen yelped and jerked back, rubbing his arm and glaring angrily at Ianto.
“That stung! What the fuck did you just do?”
Ianto pointed the remote at him and pressed ‘fast-forward’, but Owen didn’t move; neither did anyone else when he tried pointing it at them. He passed it to Owen. “You try.”
Owen did as asked, but once again, nothing happened. It seemed their little problem had been fixed.
“How did you do that?” Tosh asked, amazed.
Ianto shrugged sheepishly. “I just pressed the ‘reset’ button.”
Tosh laughed. “Genius!”
“Better put it in the secure archives and leave it there, just to be safe,” Ianto said. “Amusing as it might have been, short-term, I’m sure none of us want anything like that happening again.”
“Damn right!” Owen agreed. “It’s not funny havin’ someone control you like a puppet!”
“Yeah, sorry about that, Owen.”
“You fixed it, so I guess I won’t kill you, this time. Buy me a stiff drink when this snowstorm stops, and we’ll call it even. I need some heavy-duty alcohol after this.” He passed the remote to Jack.
“I’ll go one better and buy you the whole bottle. Jack? You want to come with? I might need a hand getting Owen home.”
“Don’t mind if I do.” Jack waggled his eyebrows. “Could be fun.”
“Nah,” Owen cut in, “just buy me the bottle and I’ll take it home with me. Don’t want to watch the two of you pawing at each other all evening.”
“Suit yourself, it’s your loss.” Jack tossed the remote in the air and caught it. “Guess I’d better store this. Coming, Ianto?”
“You’ve forgotten the password to the secure archives again, haven’t you?”
“I had no trouble remembering it before you changed it!”
As the two headed off towards Jack’s office, the rest of the team heard Jack say, “I wonder if this would work on Weevils…”
“No, Jack! No way are you trying that!” Ianto replied sounding horrified.
“Okay, okay, it was just an idea!”
Owen shook his head. “Don’t know how Teaboy puts up with him.”
“Just another of Torchwood’s mysteries,” Tosh said with a smile
Working for Torchwood was never going to be what anyone would describe as normal, but really, who would want it to be? With a shrug of his shoulders, Owen headed down to the autopsy bay. He should probably do some work at some point, but first, maybe a little nap would be a good idea. After all, it had been rather a busy day.