Written for the Ficathon walks into a bar challenge.
Prompt: Owen Harper walks into a bar and meets Trent Kort
Fandoms: Torchwood/NCIS (and a bit of MI5/Spooks)
Pairings: Jack/Owen (References to Jack/Suzie, Jack/Everybody, Owen/Suzie,
Rating: R (mostly for language and violence.)
Warnings: Violence. References to torture.
Notes: Takes place prior to Torchwood Series 1. Great thanks to beta_goddess and drunken_hedghog for superlative Beta, Britchecking and Woobie-prevention. Thanks to sabinelagrande for running such an an awesome ficathon.
Summary: Owen still has a lot to learn about Torchwood, Jack and himself.
Do you like Glenn Miller?
Nope. I prefer Benny Goodman myself.
Owen repeated the “code words” to himself before he entered the bar, hoping that Jack’s obsession with all things 40’s wasn’t going to get him in a some sticky situation, or worse a pub quiz due to some ridiculous misunderstanding.
Jack had assured him that the code wasn’t even necessary since he’d recognise Kort immediately. When Owen had demanded to know how this miracle would occur, Jack fell back on his usual combination of charm and authority.
“Trust me, you'll know him. He’s got a certain….”
For a second, Owen was sure that Jack as about to say “aura,” at which point Owen would have walked out the door, never to return. It was still a day-by-day thing with him, as to whether he’d stay with Torchwood or not, and some mornings he was too hungover or beat –up from the night before to drag himself in. Maybe Jack had figured that out from Owen’s expression and re-thought his words.
“…a certain something.”
That was all Owen had to go on to find a CIA agent and tell him (in Jack’s words) that “Torchwood was not America’s errand boy. “
Whatever that was supposed to mean. He'd been on the job a month, and despite Jack’s occasional lofty pronouncements, he still had no idea exactly what Torchwood was or wasn’t, except an organisation that sent him into a bar in one of Cardiff’s dodgier neighbourhoods to meet a CIA agent, armed with only a cheesy code-word and the promise of a certain something, rather than anything concrete, like a physical description or possibly a photograph.
Do you like Glenn Miller?
He muttered it one more time before walking in the door and instantly identifying the man leaning against the bar as Trent Kort. Owen wondered if a CIA agent ought not be slightly less noticeable. Undercover, as it were. Of course, there was no way Kort could have been inconspicuous if he wanted to. The height, the closely cropped hair and the hawk-like features all screamed, “Here I am, and don’t fuck with me.” Owen assumed that Kort had at least two weapons on his person and wouldn't need either one to destroy him in less than ten seconds.
He was tempted to leave and drive his car to London, stopping by the Hub just long enough to deliver some choice words to a certain arrogant bastard, but it wasn’t like he had anyone waiting for him in London, or anywhere else for that matter.
Before he could take the first step, he realized that Kort had made him as well. There was nothing for it but to go ahead with the job.
He walked up and put out a hand. “Owen Harper, Torchwood.”
Kort looked him up and down, as though scrutinising a potential purchase. Even Jack’s leers didn’t make him feel as uncomfortable, which was saying something.
“You’re Jack’s new…”
Kort let the sentence trail off with an insinuating raise of his eyebrows.
“Doctor,” Owen replied firmly. “I’m Torchwood’s new doctor.”
And determined to stay only that, fuck you very much.
Suzie had warned him about Jack, not that Owen hadn’t already had a few glimmers of what Jack expected from his employees.
“When he first wants you, it’s like you’re the centre of the universe. He’ll do anything to get to you. Jokes, compliments, flirting. The way he looks at you...whatever it takes. Then you give in and it’s like you’ve never even had sex before. Some of the stuff he does…well, you’ll find out soon enough.”
Owen would have protested that he most certainly would not, but that would require getting a word in, and Suzie couldn’t be stopped.
“You get a few nights, maybe a week or two if you’re lucky, but eventually he loses interest and starts looking at someone else. Do you know what it’s like to be sucking your boss’s cock, knowing he’s thinking about your co-worker?”
“Can’t say I do. Didn’t come up much at the hospital.”
Suzie didn’t seem to catch the humour.
“I tried to tell Joey, but he wouldn’t listen.”
Joey had been Owen’s immediate predecessor as Torchwood’s physician as well as his first Torchwood autopsy.
“That’s how the Weevils got him,” she went on. “We were tracking one in an alley and Joey started going on about Jack and asking me how to keep Jack’s interest, which was pretty rich since Jack had pretty much forgotten about me once he got Joey in his sights. Joey turned to look at me, practically in tears, and two of them came out of nowhere and got him. Nearly killed me too, but I was lucky that time. I’m strong. I already knew what Jack was like, so I didn’t let myself care.”
Owen chose not to mention the fact that Suzie was delivering herself of this lecture while making a serious dent in a bottle of Owen’s scotch between shag #1 and what he hoped would be shag #2.
“Yeah, you’re definitely taking it well. You could do that ‘Just say no’ thing.”
“No one says ‘no’ to Jack. That’s why we end up screwing each other. We’re nothing but Jack’s leftovers.”
That’s when Owen had made the decision that he would be the one who said ‘no’ to Jack Harkness. None of which he had any intention of sharing with Agent Big, Bald and Menacing.
It would be nice if the bloke he was supposed to be talking to would at least pay attention, but Kort’s focus seemed to have drifted. Owen followed the direction of his gaze to a table of three men. He couldn’t see anything particularly distinctive or disturbing about them. Just a bunch of middle-aged punters downing a few before going home. Maybe they’d have a game of darts or get a glare from the waitress for making a joke about her bottom, which was quite nice, if Owen did say so.
Certainly more interesting than what Kort was babbling. Something about various associations and who worked for what organisations. At least when Jack went on like that, there were aliens involved.
The gist seemed to be that a deal of some kind was planned, but the presence of a man with a salt and pepper beard, wearing a knit cap, meant that the whole thing was about to go horribly wrong.
“You got a gun on you?”
“What? No.” He’d seen too much of what bullets could do to the human body during his A&E rotation and wanted no part of inflicting that damage himself.
It had been a sore point with Jack. “Owen, there’s things out there you don’t understand. This is a dangerous job and you need to be able to protect yourself."
Owen had stood his ground, assuring Jack that he’d been through plenty of brawls and knew how to fight dirty without bringing lethal weapons to bear.
Jack had let it go with one of his typical smirks. “I’ll bet you do.”
Meanwhile, Kort frowned and shook his head.
“All right. When the shooting starts, stay low to the ground. You should be good at that. There’s a back door just past the men’s room . I’ve got a driver waiting outside.”
Owen was torn between protesting the cheap shot about his height and asking “what shooting?” when the first shot came crashing out from the opposite side of the room. Suddenly, “low to the ground” seemed like an excellent idea and couldn‘t possibly be low enough.
He dropped down and practically belly-crawled toward the back door, his ears being assailed by the sounds of gunfire, considerably louder than anything he’d ever heard on TV or in the movies. From that position, it was hard to make out who was doing what, but Owen thought he saw at least two other shooters, including a buxom redhead he’d been thinking of trying to chat up, not to mention Trent Kort with a gun in each hand, aiming one at the original targets while appearing to take stray shots around the bar. Aside from the shouts of surprise and screams of pain, he could hear what sounded like guttural curses, maybe in Arabic, and some earthy Anglo-Saxon phrases, as well as a bit of barely-remembered Gaelic.
By the time he made it to the back, Owen wondered if he’d been permanently deafened by the noise and was too stunned to find himself alive to question how or why Kort had gotten the bearded man in a headlock and appeared to be shoving him into the back seat of the car along with Owen.
He did manage to absorb with a sort of numb, slow-motion horror that the driver had been killed and Kort was pulling the body out of the car and leaving it on the ground before taking the driver’s seat. Owen thought he might have seen Kort mouthing a few words of regret, but between the darkness and the deafness it was hard to tell.
The car had tinted windows and Owen was too shaken to even make a guess at which direction they were going or how safe he was with one of the shooters in the back seat and the other one driving. He could only hope that whatever relationship existed between Torchwood and the CIA--or at least between Jack and Kort--was cordial enough for Kort to have a vested interest in keeping Owen alive.
As the shock wore off a bit and the ringing in his ears started to abate, Owen began hearing bits of the conversation between Kort and his prisoner, if that’s what the man was.
There seemed to be at least two languages involved, one European, one Middle Eastern and Owen couldn’t understand a word of either one. Maybe if Tosh were here with that nifty translation program and a laptop, she’d be able to pick up something useful and Owen wouldn’t be sitting here frightened out of his mind. All he could tell was that there’d been a major cock-up of some sort and both men were furious, mostly at each other, but also at the one other name he could make out: Harkness.
They could count him in there. If he did ever agree to carry a gun, and assuming he got out of this mess alive, his first target would be right between a certain pair of cold blue eyes.
Owen still had no idea where they were, but he could tell there was some kind of road block ahead. He put up a hand to shield his eyes from the glare of the headlights and used the other one to brace himself as Kort stopped the car abruptly.
He said something that Owen suspected was a combination of “Get the hell out of here” and “good luck.” Owen watched, not completely surprised, as the man opened the car door and ran off into the darkness, slamming the door behind him.
“He was never here. You got that?”
“Loud and clear,” Owen agreed, wondering who or what was waiting behind those lights and exactly what kind of game Kort was playing, starting with who he really worked for. That was no American accent that Owen had ever heard.
“Hold on!” Kort shouted, and Owen braced himself again, this time with both hands. Good advice since Kort gave every indication of planning to crash right into the phalanx of cars that Owen could now see coming ever closer, before hitting the brakes at the last possible moment.
Owen had already lost count of the number of times he’d been sure he was going to die this evening, but this was the first time he’d been in genuine danger of soiling his trousers. A high-pitched “Noooo” caught in his throat as the car screeched to a stop inches from the first car ahead, which Owen could now see was a Rolls Royce.
“Would have been a shame to dent that,” Owen muttered, surprised to hear his own voice working as well as it did.
“Would have been a pleasure,” Kort retorted bitterly, putting Owen instantly back on his guard.
“Why? Who’s inside?”
“You’re about to find out. Let’s go.”
Owen had no idea what to expect. Gordon Brown? Adolph Hitler? One of Jack’s interstellar boogeymen? He couldn’t think of anything that might surprise him anymore.
Except possibly a well-dressed man, apparently in his mid-50’s, with a booming voice that exuded pure British snobbery.
“Trent! I heard you were having a spot of bother back there and thought we might be able to lend some assistance.”
“That’s kind of you, Jools, but as you can see, the situation is well in hand.”Owen might not have sensed the tension behind the congenial tone, if he hadn’t heard the hostility in Kort’s voice a few minutes earlier.
“Yes, well, the Cardiff police are a bit perturbed, but I’m sure we can sort that out. Sorry to hear about your driver.”
“Did they ID the bodies in the bar yet?”
“Hey!” Owen interjected, fed up with all this chummy disregard for human life, particularly his own. “What’s going on here and who the hell are you?”
Mr. Suited and Booted paused and turned around, finally deigning to give Owen a moment’s attention.
“I am Jools Siviter.”
“He’s MI6,” Kort supplied. .
“And you,” Siviter intoned, “are clearly not Jack Harkness.”
With that, Owen felt he’d been assessed and found wanting. He had no choice but to follow Kort and Siviter to the Rolls, where he was at least provided with a drink while the matched pair of intelligence pricks discussed him as if he wasn’t right there.
“Trent, I’m afraid you disappoint me. You promised that Harkness would be persuaded to bring his unique skills to the matter and you bring me…this.”
“Sorry, Jools. Didn’t think Jack was playing it quite so cagey these days. But this is Torchwood’s new doctor. He must know something.”
Even in the darkened limousine, Owen could see the contempt on Siviter’s face.
“ Hardly. Jack tells his people barely enough to stay alive and keeps them happy with his cock. Then when one of them does get killed he uses his ‘guilt’ and ‘grief’ to seduce the next one.” Leave it to the toffs to have the filthiest mouths, although this one certainly seemed to have Jack’s number.
“Nice work if you can get it,” Kort commented.
“Yes,” Siviter replied, drawing out the word like a thoughtful viper. He seemed to be considering something before coming to a conclusion. “So, Doctor Harper. Perhaps you can prove useful after all. Cigarette?”
Owen shook his head and watched as Siviter opened a silver case and lit up like he’d never heard of lung cancer or emphysema. He pushed a button bringing on a light and Owen found himself looking at a pair of eyes blue enough to rival Jack’s.
“We have a man in custody under suspicion of grave crimes against Great Britain and he has been quite uncooperative. We believe he has information vital to the safety of our nation as well as the human race. We’d like to have a more thorough discussion, but only within certain parameters of health and safety. Perhaps, in your medical capacity, you’d be able to assist your country."
Owen cut through the nicely-worded bullshit.
“Torture? You want me to help you torture a man? Fuck you. I won’t do it.”
Rather than respond to his outburst, Siviter merely crossed his legs and took a deep drag on his cigarette.
“I believe you will.”
Owen knew in that moment that he would do it, simply because he knew that Siviter was capable of anything. After Katie’s death, Owen had been sure he didn’t care about anything, including himself. It was both a relief and a disappointment to find out he was wrong.
He was brought back to the Hub two days later, numb, exhausted, and in a state of self-loathing he would never have believed possible.
It was early enough that Tosh and Suzie were nowhere to be seen. It didn’t matter because all he wanted to do was level Jack Harkness with one good punch and tender his resignation to Torchwood and maybe this whole bloody world.
Either Jack already knew something or the whole ordeal was visible on Owen’s face.
“Owen, I’m sorry,” he said full of what appeared to be sincere concern, and instead of expressing his anger and disgust, Owen found himself seeking sanctuary as Jack held him. There was no bloody way he was going to cry, but the shaking was impossible to control. His fingers grasped at the crisp fabric of Jack’s shirt and he felt warmth and strength seeping into him from Jack’s body.
He would have let it go on, deriving comfort from the pure physical contact, but he felt Jack’s hand pressing against the back of his neck, at first kneading at the ball of tension, but then lightening to a feathery touch that evoked something more than relaxation.
Owen remembered his last conversation with Kort, just before he was “released,” even though he’d never officially been in custody. He’d been trying to get some answers that would help him understand any of this, including Kort’s affiliations and how this whole disaster had unfolded.
“Ask Jack why he sent you,” Kort had said.
Owen now asked himself that same question and managed to pull away from Jack’s embrace as he came to a conclusion that made him almost as sick as what he’d done in the interrogation room.
“You knew what was going to happen, didn't you?”
“I knew something might happen.”
“You bastard!” Owen exploded. "Do you know…I could have been killed. I’ve done things…there was a man and I…”
He didn’t want to go into the details, but the man’s screams…his eyes. Owen clenched his fists and bit down hard on his lower lip, fighting off a wave of nausea. It would be a long time before he’d forget any of that.
“We’ve all done things. And we can all die. Anytime. I needed you to understand what it means to be a part of Torchwood. You can’t just hide in the morgue. We’re here to protect the human race and sometimes we get hurt doing it. That’s why we have to take care of each other.”
Owen took a step back, physically resisting the pull of Jack’s voice.
“So you give me a tumble and that makes everything better? Got a magic cock in those trousers, do you?”
Jack smiled one of his best and brightest, making it almost impossible not to smile back. Owen managed it.
“Nothing makes it all better, but sometimes a little closeness makes it a lot easier to deal with.”
“For how long, Jack?” he asked bitterly, thinking of Suzie and Joey and the presumably endless number of others.
“Nothing lasts forever,” Jack answered, and the blunt words were tinged with a sadness that made Owen feel like he should be the one trying to heal Jack’s pain. All part of Jack’s technique, if Siviter was correct, which he probably was.
“No,” he said emphatically. “Not me. All the others. Maybe everyone you’ve met in your whole damn life, but not me.”
Owen watched Jack’s face for signs of anger, which flitted there quickly, only to be replaced with acceptance and a hint of admiration, or was it the glint of a challenge?
“Can we at least agree that you should carry a weapon?”
Owen had no objection to that. He never wanted to feel as terrified and helpless as he had over the last two days.
“Guns. Knives. Hand grenades. Whatever you got. I want it.”
“Excellent. Tosh brought your car around. Why don’t you go home and get some sleep. Shower probably wouldn’t hurt either. Then come back and meet me here tonight for some training. I’ll teach you how to protect yourself and defend the human race.”
Jack still had that grin on his face, and Owen knew nothing had changed. One thought came to his mind as he left the Hub.
Who’s going to protect me from you?
Bonus Torchwood/NCIS Crossover fic featuring Jack/Owen/Ziva