Lost and Found by Mustang_bex1126
Summary: Torchwood seems to be a cause of death for many people, but surprisingly it brings them back as well. At the same time, something sinister is going on in the Torchwood organisation, and Ianto and Jack are determined to uncover it before anyone gets hurt.
Rating: All Ages
Characters: Other Character(s), Owen Harper
Genres: Angst, General
Series: To Err is Human
Lost and Found by Mustang_bex1126
Chapter 1: Part 1Author's Notes: This part of the story is rated for some scenes and images which may be disturbing to others: please be warned for suicide, heavy drinking, and death.
This story would never have been possible without the dedicated work of my fantastic beta jo19844.
At 0600 the dark room was suddenly filled with unintelligible sound effects, and the very loud voice of the morning disc jockey. After a couple of seconds a hand and arm snaked out from under the sheets and knocked the alarm clock off of the nightstand, silencing it.
“Shit”, a muffled voice cried from under the heap of blankets.
Owen Harper flung the blankets and stood stretching for a moment on the rug before padding towards the hallway, his feet bare. There was a flushing sound, and then the hiss of the shower. The second body in the bed slowly slid her feet to the floor and stiffly stood up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She listened to the sounds from the hall for a moment longer before heading to the hallway and in the opposite direction of the lavatory.
Owen wiped the condensation from the mirror and checked out his reflection. Behind him the door opened and a hand holding a coffee mug slid in through the crack.
“Are you decent?” Called an Irish accent from the hallway.
“Come ‘ere”, he took the cup with one hand and pulled the figure through the doorway with the other; A beautiful blonde woman with light freckles slipped through the gap. “What do you care if I’m decent anyhow?” He kissed her deeply.
“You’re cheery this morning- what have you done with my husband? Maybe you know him: surly, tall, bit wiry…” She kissed him back, straightening out the collar of his shirt as she did.
“You forgot brilliantly talented, and devilishly handsome.” He held the coffee mug she’d brought him and inhaled the fumes. “Oh, you’re a tease- bringing me a hot cup of love like this when you know I’ve got to work.”
“Everything is sex to you- go on now, get going, or you’ll be late.” She laughed and slapped him on the arse.
“Oooh, that’s harassment, if you don’t behave I’ll tell my wife.” He smirked at her, and drained the last of his coffee. “Right, off to save the world, you take it easy today- a woman in your condition…”
She punched him in the arm. “My condition, come on now doctor Harper, I’m pregnant, not infirmed!” She ran her hands over her protruding belly through her nightgown. “Women have been having babies for eons, even those not living in a gaff in Penyrheol. I have some painting to do today.”
Owen placed his hand over hers on her belly. “Right Shannon, you win, but no heavy lifting, or climbing up too high… I just don’t want you to get hurt…” He looked her in the eyes, “Either of you…” He added pointedly before kissing her again, his hand lingering on her stomach.
“Alright Owen, I promise not to try climbing Everest whilst you’re at work. We’ll save that for when he’s at least a couple of months old.”
“You’re a blooming nut, you know that? Why’d you go and marry a guy like me?” He checked his watch again. “shit, never mind, I am going to be really late- Sam wanted to have a chat before I spoke.” He fidgeted with his tie again. “Right- so, tell me: Do I look like an expert in experimental medicine?”
“You look great, very smarmy professor, don’t worry the students will love you. It’s only one lecture and then you can return to hiding in your lab and avoiding people unless they bring you coffee!” After another sweet kiss he swept from the room.
Owen Really was late getting to Swansea University- there’d been an accident on the M4 that delayed him- so he missed meeting with Sam entirely and had to simply meet him in the hallway before the lecture began.
“Doctor Owen Harper!” Sam called enthusiastically, slapping him on the back.
“Yeah, sorry Sam, traffic, the missus, you know. Are we ready?” Owen fidgeted with his tie more.
“Right mate! Never thought I’d see you all nerves and jitters- they’re students, not aliens, you talk, and they’ll listen.” He checked his watch. “Now, I’m going make your introduction, you enter when you hear your name. They’re gonna love you!”
Owen exhaled heavily and shook his head, working to psych himself up. “You are Doctor Owen Harper, you work with all sorts of nasty, dangerous diseases…” He tried out his best arrogant smirk. “Right, they’re just students.” Upon hearing a smattering of applause he straightened his sport coat and strode into the room.
“…And this bloke…” Sam snorted with laughter. “And this big bloke says, ‘What the fuck do you know about it then? What are you a pervert?’ And Owen… Owen just says ‘No you stupid bastard, I’m a doctor.’ Looks down at the git’s rod again, and says ‘Looks painful, hope he was worth it’ and smiles!” Sam and the young woman sitting next to him were smiling and laughing loudly.
“Right, and that’s when the stupid sod punched me.” Owen sipped calmly from his bourbon, smirking.
“That’ll teach you to chat up men in the pisser!” Sam held up his glass, “Cheers mate, to you and your missus!” They clinked their glasses together and Owen checked his watch.
“Fuck me, I’ve got to get going- I’ve got an hour and a half drive ahead of me!” He pulled out his mobile to dial his wife, and noticed that the screen said 15 missed calls.
An hour and forty minutes later Owen burst in through the doors of Cardiff University’s Critical Care unit and stormed up to the empty desk.
“Hey! HEY!” He was frantic, and shouting and didn’t care at all who he disturbed. “Where are the bloody…” a hand clamped down on his shoulder. Owen spun around ready to shout some more but the hand belonged to Shannon’s friend John.
“Owen! Owen, calm down. Where the bloody hell have you been!?”
Owen ignored the question entirely, only one thing mattered. “John, where is she? What’s happened, I need to know what happened…. Where is my WIFE!” He was shaking the other man by the shoulders and panting.
“Owen calm down. She’s here Owen-“ He gripped Owen’s shoulders firmly. “She’s here, they called Sherrie and me when they couldn’t get you, but we haven’t got a status report, they’ve been waiting for you…”
Owen blanched- he knew what that meant; he was a doctor after all- they were waiting for next of kin. “Oh God… oh dear God no…” He frowned and shook his head. All the shouting had brought quite a lot of attention. A doctor emerged from behind the secure doors and approached him and John.
“Doctor Harper? Doctor Harper, I’m your wife’s specialist, Charles Martin- if you’d please have a seat, all of you.” John and Doctor Martin guided Owen back to the sitting area. “We need to talk about your wife’s condition.”
Owen was speechless, and his head was swimming. He hated this man, Doctor Charles Martin, for his sympathetic, professional demeanor. Sherrie moved to sit beside him, gripping his right hand in her own. Suddenly Owen worried he may throw up.
“Doctor Harper, I’m afraid your wife, Shannon, she’s had a hemorrhagic stroke.”
Owen shook his head, as if by simple rejection, he could alter or stop what Doctor Martin was saying. “No… no, no, no. Not my Shannon, we’re, we’re having a baby…”
“I’m sorry, but sometime late this morning the postman discovered her and called for an ambulance. They stabilized her at the local emergency, and then transferred her here to my care.”
Owen continued to stare at the floor. “No, no, no, no…”
“Doctor Harper, you work at the University, correct? I’m sure you know, we’ve the highest standard of care here, the finest Doctors on staff worked on your wife. Unfortunately, we don’t know how long she was down before being brought to hospital…” He trailed off a little. “Sir, I’m sorry, your wife’s brain was deprived of oxygen for too long, the damage to her organs was widespread. There was nothing more we could do. I’m very sorry.”
Sherrie was the first to speak up. “And the baby?” The words were almost too painful for Owen to bear.
“I’m afraid there was nothing we could do for him.”
The words echoed in Owen’s head. Their dreadful finality threatened to crush the air from his body. He slid to his knees on the floor and let out a devastated wail. “Shannon!” He cried, balling his hands into fists and pressing them to his eyes. “Oh my God, not my Shannon.” His body was wracked with uncontrollable sobs; he let out another agonizing moan.
The funeral and aftermath were a whirlwind. Shannon’s parents and two youngest siblings came in from Limerick and stayed with him. They’d left a week ago, and now he was alone in his house, their house. Once again he found himself sitting in his son’s unfinished nursery. The room still smelled like fresh paint, and oak. Owen sat on the floor leaning against the wall. Shannon had been in the middle of painting a mural of Irish faerie stories on that same wall the day she died. She’d been such a talented artist and she wanted their son to be proud of his heritage.
“Oh God, Shannon.” His whisper was horse and quaking. Moira, Shannon’s mum, had tried to pack away the nursery, hoping that she could somehow shelter her son-in-law from the most painful reminders of his loss. Owen had blown up at her, shouting and swearing. She had insisted there was no need for an apology, but Owen knew his actions had hurt her; she’d lost her daughter and grandson, after all.
Sitting in this room, thinking about his last moments with his wife brought on another fit of sobs. He grasped the bottle of gin and rose to his feet, wobbling slightly. He knocked into the fully assembled bassinet and recoiled, bumping into the dresser they had planned to use as a changing table. He leaned against the smooth, cool wood, looking at his reflection in the mirror. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He’d told her to be careful, but she was healthy. She wasn’t supposed to die. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this. They were having a baby. A son… his son. Another gasping sob escaped his lips. He punched the mirror, shards of glass cutting his left hand and dislocating a couple of his knuckles.
“Fuck…” he grabbed a discarded dishcloth and wrapped it tightly around his hand. Without a second thought he reset the bones in their sockets. He winced from the pain, but he’d be damned if he was going to hospital. Not after Shannon.
Owen stumbled down the hallway, leaving a small bloody smudge here and there as he steadied himself on the wall with his free hand. He tipped his head back draining the rest of the gin and let the bottle fall to the floor. After another few steps he tripped over a couple of Shannon’s painted canvases stacked against the wall and landed on the floor.
That was where he awoke some hours later, it was still dark outside, but the blackness had begun to pale and fade at the horizon- it was going to be light very soon. Owen’s head was still swimming, but he rose to his feet with a great determination. He had something he needed to do.
Owen had purchased the handgun on the sly after getting shot in the shoulder during a mugging. When Shannon moved in 3 months later she had demanded he get rid of it; another promise to her he’d broken. He tugged up the loose board in the cupboard and removed a small box of ammunition and a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. He’d forgotten just how cold the metal felt and it took him a couple of moments of fumbling to find the clip release. Internally he kept debating with himself how many rounds to load.
“Yeah, but if I miss…” He had been sitting in silence for so long he didn’t recognize his own horse voice at first. He loaded two rounds, just for good measure. The simple addition of two rounds seemed to increase the weight of the weapon in his hand exponentially. Despite his better judgment, Owen stuffed the handgun down the back of his trousers and rose to his feet.
In the back garden the sun had risen, bathing everything in a burning golden light, and melting off the dew and patches of fog. Squinting against the ever-increasing light Owen took a seat at the little bistro set Shannon had painstakingly refinished immediately after their wedding. The metal was cold through his clothing, causing an involuntary shiver.
From his front pocket he removed the gold chain she’d taken to wearing round her neck when her fingers began swelling too much for her to wear her wedding band. He turned the ring over in his hands, the smooth metal catching glints of sunlight; another sob escaped his lips. Crying again he draped the chain over his own neck, pressing the band against his heart.
He dislodged the 9mm from his waistband and placed it on the tabletop. For minutes he simply stared at it, willing his hand to grasp it. Two days after he’d buried the love of his life, a woman he’d only known for 8 months, he’d made the decision. He had never believed the church stories of heaven and angels and afterlife, but Shannon had believed it, and he was convinced she was there now. He simply had to act.
“It’s easy,” he started to explain to himself, the shake in his voice barely audible, “A projectile passing at high velocity through the brain, entering under the chin and exiting the back of the head… The damage from this sort of injury is catastrophic.” For a moment he had a flash of memory, a small black hole in pale flesh, a yawning void surrounded by long dark hair matted with blood and brain tissue; déjà vu? He furrowed his brow, trying for a moment to hold on to the thought. “The uh… the proximity of the weapon upon firing can lead to severe burns at the site of contact… but uh… Well, mate, you won’t feel it long.” His morbid laughter threatened to turn into another cry.
Owen steadied himself, fighting back another wave of grief, biting down on the knuckles of his uninjured right hand. Once his breathing had calmed again he sat up straight, popped his neck, and grabbed the handgun off the table. He ran his fingers over its rough grip, and along the harsh angles of the barrel and slide. In his dreams, for some reason, he always used an old revolver, an antique, with smooth edges, and an ancient, worn grip that seemed to mold to his hand. That gun didn’t have a safety lock, but this one did- Owen flicked the lever to the ‘off’ position.
Owen let his eyes drift over the garden, somewhere one of the neighbors was mowing the lawn; soon the lab would be ringing to inquire about his whereabouts. He pressed the side of the pistol against his forehead, the metal cool against his skin. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply through his nose. He could smell the sun-warmed paving stones, and the rich moist earth of the potted plants. Owen thought he could even smell the petrol from his neighbor’s lawnmower. It was all so perfect. It was time.
Owen pushed all sense of the outside world from his thoughts and focused on Shannon, on her face and all the good memories of their life together. They’d known each other for such a short time- he desperately tried to recall every contour of her body, every freckle and mark on her skin. He willed himself to remember the day she’d come home and told him he was going to be a father- the way her voice rose with excitement and surge of energy and pride he’d felt after their first ultrasound appointment.
He remembered her eyes, how beautiful, but sad her eyes had seemed, pools of green-blue so deep he’d been lost in them from the moment she sat next to him on the plane. He was still imagining her eyes when he felt something click, deep in his memories. A plane- there was something about a plane. And a red dress, but Shannon didn’t have a red dress. He focused again on her eyes, and made the image reappear. But they were wrong- these were brown eyes, soft and warm, he knew he should recognize them, but he couldn’t make his brain work it out. And in an instant they were gone again, replaced with Shannon’s once more. He opened his own eyes and wiped the tears from his eyes.
“This is it.” He said to himself, closing his eyes again. He pressed the muzzle of the gun to the underside of his chin and inhaled, holding his breath. He poised his finger over the trigger. “I love you Shannon.”
With a steady hand he squeezed the trigger. There was a women’s voice in his head, ‘there’s something waiting in the dark…’
There was nothing, only a barely audible click, and his eyes flashed open. He exhaled sharply, drawing in another deep breath, with tears pouring down his cheeks. He’d forgotten to load the chamber. Quickly he drew the slide back and put the gun to his head again. He was frozen, the voice echoing through his head, and he couldn’t pull the trigger again. A wail of frustration and grief escaped his lips and he threw the 9mm into the garden. He took his head in his hands and cried- in the house the phone started ringing.
Four weeks later Owen paced around the small flat he’d just rented in Splott, speaking loudly into his mobile phone.
“I don’t care if I take a loss, just sell the bloody thing!” He slammed the phone shut. He didn’t know why he’d moved here, of all places, but he knew that he couldn’t stay in the house anymore. Everything about that place made him want to scream. He found himself overwhelmed by a curious sense of déjà vu from time to time. On top of having nightmares about his late wife, he kept having the recurring dreams of things that hadn’t happened. Every night it was different, but somehow still familiar. Sometimes he dreamt about things that only ever happened in science fiction- dinosaurs, and robots, and aliens. Other nights he’d find himself in the plaza of the Millennium Centre.
He had hoped that the change of environment would shock his senses enough to put a stop to it all but the last three nights he’d once again dreamt about the Millennium Centre. It was so odd, so vivid. He was always coming upon the water tower monument from underneath, emerging from some dark place into the open air. He couldn’t make any sense of it all. He’d only ever been down there once before, to see the symphony with Shannon.
In the bathroom, Owen splashed water over his face and looked at the small digital clock on the counter top- it was 3am. He resigned himself to the fact that he wouldn’t be getting back to sleep and settled down on the couch in front of the TV. There was some old War movie on Sky- something with pilots and British ingenuity or some other rubbish. Owen rested his head on the back of the couch and closed his eyes, barely able to hear the dialogue of the film.
The scene changed, and Owen sat upright. There was that feeling again, the feeling of something familiar. A swaggering American Soldier was giving some sort of pep talk to the brave British boys, something about preparedness. Owen was transfixed- there was something here he was missing. Something about that voice, that he couldn’t place.
Owen sat on the edge of the couch waiting for another hint, another spark in his brain that could tie all this together for him. He was certain that somehow, if he just could understand what these feelings meant, it would all be worth it, Shannon’s death, and his life. Everything. Owen watched the entire movie and the one after it before finally falling asleep there on the couch.
Owen couldn’t see very well, the room was full of mist. There were people moving around him, he could make them out when they came close enough, but their faces were always hidden from him. He could hear their voices, but they weren’t making any sense, the words all overlapped, he thought he saw Shannon moving to his left, but when he turned there the space was empty. Out of the corner of his eye, a red dress fluttered, but once again, when he turned he was faced with nothingness. One phrase rang out clear suddenly.
“There’s something waiting in the dark…”
Owen turned his head upwards towards the sound desperate to see where the voice was coming from. Overhead the Millennium Centre water tower loomed, black and foreboding, urging him to remember.
The phone rang- startling Owen from his slumber on the sofa. He made no move to answer it. It was Maren from work. He knew that. He let her leave a message while he tried in vain to hold on to his dream.
Owen leapt to his feet and ran to his bedroom. He emerged only seconds later, wearing a pair of trainers, crumpled jeans and pulling on an equally crumpled shirt as he grabbed his keys off the hook by the door. In the hallway he nearly collided with a young couple snogging against the wall.
“Hey! Watch it!” He snotted at them. “Get a fuckin’ room!” Owen rushed to the lift and stepped in before it could close, pressing the button for the first floor.
“Sorry,” the man responded; and there was another flash of déjà vu. Owen tried to get a better look at the man, but only caught a fleeting glimpse of his dark, tailored suit as the lift doors slid shut.
Owen left his car in the public garage and walked down to the ferry dock. The whole of Cardiff Bay stretched out before him, and each inhalation filled his lungs with the scent of fish, and diesel, and the sea. Owen turned around. Behind him, in the distance was the domed roof of the Millennium Centre and the black obelisk that kept appearing in his dreams.
Suddenly Owen remembered the scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey where the primates were driven mad by the towering black obelisk- leading the monkeys to create weapons and thus starting their evolution into mankind. Owen burst out laughing for the first time since Shannon’s death. That was it- this was him descending into madness. And it honestly couldn’t have been funnier.
After a couple of moments he was able to regain his composure. Tears had formed at the corners of his eyes; a great feeling of relief had flushed over him, a feeling he never thought he’d know again. He walked around the quiet streets for a couple of hours, basking enjoying the sun and fresh air. He fought off a twinge of guilt that threatened to ruin his good time as he stood and strolled along in front of the shops.
“You don’t go crazy every day, right mate?” He asked to nobody at all. Another fit of laughter took him as he pushed open the door to a pub.
Owen hopped onto a stool at the end of the bar and took out his wallet.
“I’ll have a shot and a beer!” He beamed at the bartender and slapped 20 quid on the bar.
“Ok mate, coming right up.” He returned very quickly with both drinks and picked up the note. “Anything else for you?”
Owen smiled again, tossed back the shot, and chased it with a swallow of beer. He made a satisfied smacking sound with his lips. “Actually, now that you mention it,” he pulled a fiver out of his wallet and set it on the bar, “I’ll have another.”
Owen downed the second shot and turned on his stool to lean against the bar, his pint in his hand. He really was enjoying himself now that he knew he was going mad. A cute bird at a table in the corner was staring at him; Owen raised his glass in salute and drank deeply. The woman reached her hand up to her ear just as Owen swiveled on the stool, turning himself back to face the bar. He busied himself with taking another 20 out of his wallet, looking at the mirror just in time to see the woman leave through the door behind him. For a moment he caught the flutter of a long grey-blue, wool coat as the door swung closed.
Owen had another of those pesky memory flashes, but this time he shook it off and ordered another round for himself.
“I should really go mad every day!” He said cheeringly to the bartender when he set the order down on the bar. Owen toasted with the shot, “Cheers mate!” and downed it. Yes, fuckin’ gorgeous day to go crazy.
Owen was very drunk when they finally stopped serving him and he stumbled out into the street. The sun was low in the sky, and the streets and shops were beginning to fill with refugees from the workday. He dodged shoppers and made his way to an open bench in the empty plaza. His back was to the monument and that was damned fine by him; saw the bloody thing enough in his dreams he thought to himself and smiled.
Owen leaned his head back and closed his eyes, listening to the goings on around him. A smile crept to the corners of his mouth as he thought about his behavior this morning. He’d been so bloody stupid; thinking all of these ridiculous things could be connected. That a case of fuckin’ déjà vu could possibly help him understand the universe. He was a doctor after all, and doctors are scientists. No respectable scientist goes around thinking a huge black obelisk is somehow directing his life. He started to recount things out loud to himself.
“You stupid sod: of course you had a flashback about head wounds, there was that sad girl when you first qualified… left most of her brains for her mother to find all over the fucking garage! All these visions just prove you’ve seen too many damn films.”
Owen opened his eyes and stared up at the monument. “And you, you expensive piece of shit, what exactly do you have to do with it?” He laughed to himself and sat up straight.
“Right, where was I? Girl with the gap-teeth was probably just checkin’ out the merchandise… What else… Oh yeah, the skinny bloke and his Asian bird, probably saw ‘em in the lift before, or down at the tourist office…”
Owen froze, and his heart rate increased. What tourist office? He rose from the bench and turned in a circle, looking around to see if anything would help him make sense of what had just happened. He stopped again facing the monument.
“WHAT TOURIST OFFICE?” He shouted.
He felt a hand tap him on the shoulder and spun around to face a very young and very wary looking PC. “Sir- is everything alright?”
“No, right, sorry… uh… my wife had told me to meet her at the tourist office, but I think she got the address wrong…” Owen hoped that he didn’t look as crazy as he was feeling.
“Oh, you’re nearly there Sir. Just right down there and around the corner- why they’d put a tourist office where no one can find it I don’t know. Do you want me to take you there?”
Owen swallowed hard, not sure how to proceed; he recovered himself quickly. “No, no, that’s not necessary.” He started to move in the direction that the man had indicated. “Right down this way you said? Thanks- best not keep the missus waiting.” Owen flashed a weak smile and turned to head off in the direction he’d been pointed. After checking behind him that the PC had gone, Owen quickened his pace to a jog.
Owen stood in front of the dingy looking door, unsure what to do next. His palms were sweating. Again he felt another spark of recognition, just standing here in front of the door; he swore he’d done it before. He reached his hand out towards the doorknob and noticed he was shaking.
“Bollocks!” He stuffed his hands in his pockets and paced a bit.
After calming himself down Owen reached for the doorknob again. Owen had expected it to be locked, but it turned easily. He took a deep breath and pushed the door inwards, stepping into an immaculate but full little office. Owen was alone, but he was fairly certain he could hear somebody moving around in the room that was concealed by a gaudy beaded curtain.
The feeling of familiarity was still nagging him as he carefully examined the walls and racks around him looking for some sort of clue. There were brochures everywhere outlining the nearest and greatest places to do the drollest of activities. Owen was examining a bus schedule when somebody behind him cleared their throat, causing him to spin around so quickly it took his eyes a moment to refocus.
A man had come through the beaded curtain without making a sound. He was a bit over dressed for the place, wearing a vintage looking waistcoat and pocket watch. He was also wearing a heavy, military style wool coat
Owen’s eyes widened dramatically-- the coat. Everything, it was the bloody coat! Owen was paralyzed, breathe caught in his chest, with images of that coat flying through his mind. He knew this man, he knew all of it.
Owen stared at the man for another moment in complete shock. When he finally spoke it was barely more than a whisper. “Jack Harkness…” not quite a statement, not quite a question.
Jack let out a weary sigh, and braced his hands on his hips. “Welcome home Owen.”
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