Notes/Warnings/Spoilers: Post-ep for "Ghost Machine" and spoileriffic for that episode. Mentions of rape. Thanks to hllangel for quick and dirty Beta.
Summary: Owen comes looking for answers.
Ed Morgan was dead.
Perhaps he deserved it for his past crimes, but that didn’t change the facts. Jack wanted to change Torchwood, make it something the Doctor could respect, make himself something the Doctor would be proud of, and here they were with more blood on their collective hands.
Jack shook his head as he remembered Gwen crying in his arms. It would have been easy to take her to bed that very night, and it took more self-control than he usually had to send her home to Rhys. She’d looked awfully good the night before with two big guns in her hands. Why shouldn’t she get a chance to shoot biggest one of all? Stop it. This was no time for dirty puns or dirtier thoughts about Gwen Cooper.
Without Gwen, he was alone, unless you counted the ghosts of Torchwood who kept him company as he wondered if it was possible to accomplish his self-assigned mission. Maybe Torchwood was conceived in sin; born in iniquity and Jack was wasting his time trying to save its soul. Not that he had anything else to do with his time, he thought glumly, staring at the Hand.
He could go out and find someone for a few hours. His date with Gwen was sometime in the future, and his need was here now. He grabbed the coat and was on his way out, when he saw Owen coming in, practically reeking of self-hatred and guilt.
Some boss, he berated himself.
Jack had seen exactly what was happening after Owen saw the vision of Lizzie Lewis’ murder and done nothing to stop it . Something about Owen made it hard to say no, even for his own good. Owen with his brooding sarcasm, and barely-concealed anger at the world in general and Jack specifically. Jack watched Owen, worried about him, occasionally lusted after him, and couldn’t even protect him from a piece of alien technology that he knew damn well would make things much, much worse.
“Since when do you work extra hours?”
He tried his light, mocking voice, hoping to figure out exactly what kind of shape Owen was in and what, if anything, Jack could actually do about it. Full of booze and self-hate, but not necessarily drunk on either, from the looks of it.
“Came by for a bit of truth. That is, if you’ve got any.”
“I’ll see what I can do for you.”
Truth. Always a danger. Jack had so many secrets that he couldn’t tell anyone until he found the Doctor again. The hundred years had passed, so where the hell was he? Out among the stars with someone new. Someone who wasn’t him. Or Rose.
“Anybody home?" Owen asked,
This also wasn’t the time to feel sorry for himself. He spent enough nights doing that. If Owen needed something, it was up to him to at least try to be a human being.
“Yeah, sorry. Truth. Let’s go in my office and see if I’ve got any around.”
He followed Owen down the stairs to the office, both watching his arse and keeping an eye out for potential stumbles. Owen was probably the kind of drinker who had plenty of practice acting considerably less intoxicated than he was at any given time. Jack suspected he’d worked whole days at Torchwood soused out of his mind and still managed to do the job. That was all he could ask of anyone really.
He sat on his desk, while Owen paced and bounced, completely unable to relax even enough to sit down.
It was a good thing the Ghost Machine was locked away in the safe. Any readings from his office would be a little too revealing for tonight’s conversation. He might add Owen to those he’d had right on this desk, but probably not tonight.
“I need to know what you really think of me.”
On the other hand, if Owen was going to give him an opening like that, it was certainly worth a try. Except that wasn’t what Owen was asking, and probably not what he needed to hear right now.
“I thought enough of you to bring you into Torchwood. I think you do a great job here and…”
“And you want to shag me because you want to shag everything that moves, I know all that. I need to know if you think I’m like Ed Morgan.”
“A murderer? Why would I think….”
“A murderer and a rapist."
“Owen, you’re not…”
“You know what that spray does. You know what I did with it, right? I used it for two weeks and I had five different women, three blokes and one I’m still not sure about. So tell me Jack, should I go turn myself in to the police?”
Jack had a good idea how much pain and guilt Owen carried around with him already. He didn’t need a bogus charge muddying the waters. Whatever he’d been up to with the spray may not have been nice by earth standards, but it certainly didn’t make him an Ed Morgan. Jack knew that species well. They had made both a study and religion of sex, and the spray was only about improving the experience for all involved, not coercing any unwilling participants. In fact, Jack could tell a story about the first time he’d encountered that particular scent…but he wouldn’t. If he could retcon this whole thing from Owen’s mind, he would do that, but he’d made a decision only to do that to employees who chose to walk away. The gift and curse of Torchwood was to keep your memories. All of them.
“You’re not like Ed Morgan. He wanted to take. He wanted to hurt Lizzie. You’re not like that.”
“How do you know that? How can anyone really know?” Owen demanded, as if he were looking for condemnation rather than absolution, in which case he’d come to the wrong man. Jack was in no position to do either.
“Stand still!” he ordered, in a voice that commanded obedience.
He stood up and looked Owen straight in the eye, forcing him to look back, eyes dark and intense.
“Now listen to me. I can’t tell you everything I’ve seen and done, but some of it would turn your stomach and make you beg me to take the images out of your mind. I know the worst things men can do, sometimes with the best intentions. A wise woman once said to me, there’s no great men, Jack, there’s just men. You’re just a man, Owen, but you’re a good one. You wouldn’t be here, if you weren’t.”
Not a bad speech, aside from the old movie line he’d cribbed, and the fact that he had met one great man, but it was good enough for Owen. He could see the change, feel some of the self-hatred dissipate. He put his hands on Owen’s shoulders, not with anything in mind, just because he liked touching Owen, and Owen seemed willing to let himself be touched, at least for a few seconds. Jack knew they were close enough for Owen to be getting a whiff of his natural scent and what effect that might have.
He’d just started to move one hand toward Owen’s face, when Owen seemed to snap out of a trance.
“Do you want me to?”
Owen appeared to seriously consider. Those pheromones did wonders for inhibitions, especially ones about banging the boss. Owen moved close enough for Jack to think a kiss was imminent, and he reflexively closed his eyes and waited.
“Not like I’ve ever given a toss who or what I went home with before.”
Owen was sighing and shaking his head.
“You know what? It’s been a helluva day.”
Normally that would be as good a reason for Jack to proceed as any, but tonight it meant he was going to be a good man too.
“Tell you what. Go home and get some sleep. It’s not like I’m going anywhere,” he said, trying to sound glib instead of bitter.
“None taken. Just come in tomorrow and do your job. And when you figure out what you want, let me know.”
“Yeah. I’ll do that.”
Jack watched Owen leave, relieved about some things and confused about others. He couldn’t help thinking the Doctor would have done a better job, on both counts.
In the meantime, the bars were still open and Jack didn’t feel like being good anymore.