Notes: Written for consci_fan_mo. Takes place after "Adrift" and contains psuedo-canon subversion. Also, sort of sequelicious to Forgotten Words and Bonds, but you don't need to read that to read this. Thanks to _tallian_ for Fast and Furious Beta.
Summary: Jack knows who and what he wants.
Owen opened the door, wearing an unbuttoned shirt over jeans, looking disturbingly attractive for a man with a bullet hole in his chest and the pallor of the grave on his face.
Dead or alive, he still didn’t pull any punches.
“Never thought I’d say this Jack, but you look like death warmed over.”
“Look who's talking.”
“Least I’ve got an excuse.”
Jack could feel guilt pushing at his gut over what he’d done to Owen, but he had worse sins on his conscience right now.
“Can I come in?”
“Like anyone ever says no to you.”
He followed Owen inside, and found himself mesmerized by the view of the bay and the lights of Cardiff. He fancied that he could see Gwen and Rhys’ flat from here, which of course was rubbish.
“I lied to her. Again.” He said, taking a familiar seat on Owen’s sofa, not bothering to take the coat off. He didn’t need to elaborate on which her he meant. They both knew.
“You thought you were doing the right thing,” Owen replied.
The comfort in those words was as cold as the skin of Owen’s hand, which Jack took in his as they sat together, lost in their mutual dilemma.
“Owen,” he said, in his best, you know you want to, voice, even though he wasn’t sure Owen did anymore, or what he could really do about.
“Why don’t you go cling to your boyfriend for few hours? Maybe that’ll make you feel better.”
It wouldn’t. He’d already tried.
He kept holding Owen’s hand, even bringing it up to his lips and gently kissing the inner palm. That had been known to produce swoons back in the fifties, but Owen seemed to be immune.
“I get it. You’re bored of Ianto, Gwen won’t have you and even you aren’t enough of a bastard to risk hurting Tosh. Either the bars are suddenly having a shortage of pretty things for you to play with or you’re getting lazy in your old-age.”
Jack missed the days when he was an enigma to his team, leaving them wondering who or what he might be shagging at any given time. Not much mystique left if Owen could read him like a book with especially large print.
“It looks like hurting Tosh is still your department.”
Instead of defending himself, Owen just nodded. Death seemed to have given him more self-awareness than he’d had in life, or at least acceptance.
“There’s nothing here for her. Or you. Didn’t you read the report? No air. No blood. Significant lack of bodily fluids. I think the Beatles said it best.”
He was confused until Owen graced him with a slightly flat croon.
Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be.
Those words, and Owen’s resignation broke him in a way that hadn’t happened since he watched the Master die in the Doctor’s arms, and realised he’d never be as close to the Doctor as his worst enemy.
“I’m sorry, Owen. So sorry.”
The echo of the Doctor in his own words made him feel worse. The Doctor was out there somewhere with a new companion and he was here, trying to save the planet, but managing to screw-up individual lives along the way. He couldn’t blame it on Torchwood anymore. Owen had been right. It was him.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake Jack.”
Even though Owen sighed and rolled his eyes, and generally acted like a prick about it, he still put his arms around Jack, and held him, until he’d gotten the current dose of self-pity out of his system. Owen clearly knew when it had happened. The kiss on the lips was probably a clue.
This time Owen physically pushed him away, something that had never happened before, not for long anyway. The push wasn’t strong, but it was definitive.
“You fucked up and you feel like shit.”
It wasn’t the first time. He could still hear the Doctor telling him he’d caused the disaster with the nanobots in the course of his self-cleaning con. His failures to protect the people he loved stretched as far back as he could remember and probably into those memories that had been taken from him. There’d always been one solution to that feeling.
Sure he could go out and find someone, but that would be too easy.
Owen had never been easy; that’s why they’d been so good together, even when they were at each other’s throats. It was Owen he’d turned to when he needed something angry and raw, rather than cloying attempts at comfort.
“I’m not lazy. I just know what I want.”
He moved toward Owen again, thinking there had to be a way. Owen could touch him, talk to him.
“Nice of you to try, but it’s all just cheap nostalgia isn’t it? Like that coat of yours.”
Jack stopped still, slightly sick with the awareness that Owen was right. Owen might be with Torchwood for a long time, but his Owen was gone. He might as well start letting go now; Owen obviously had.
Apparently someone could say “No” to Jack Harkness, at least two people, he thought, as he looked out the window toward the darkness, three, if you counted Gwen, but that battle had barely been fought.
“Thanks,” he said, getting up to leave, not sure if he was going to look for a fresh face or spend some time standing on one of his favourite buildings. He did know he was lucky to have someone around who could tell him the truth, even when it hurt. You had to love a man like that.
For all the good it did either of them.