"'Have fun, kids', he says," Owen grumbled as he pulled yet another anonymous pasteboard box down from the archive shelf. "Have you noticed how every time he says something like that it means he'll be sitting on his arse watching us work?"
"He does have an excuse."
"He's not even as pregnant as you are, Tosh. He could at least have offered to trade off with one of you. You know, in shifts or something?"
"It would be more trouble than it's worth to find us down here."
And she had a point, the deep archives they'd been slowly recataloguing their way through were a maze of overflowing racks, the two other teams down here with them out of earshot almost immediately though Owen knew none of them could be more than a couple of aisles from each other even yet considering the rate at which he and Tosh had been proceeding. He suspected Jack had sent them down here in pairs not so much because none of the girls were in any condition to do heavy lifting but simply for the sake of not going mad in the silence. "He's still a git," Owen said.
Tosh pecked away furiously at her laptop as he opened the box to show her the contents. "Hold on, that's supposed to have a, red, says it's about this big -- we'll have to find that before we can check this one off, maybe it's got put in one of the other boxes by mistake --"
"I can't believe Jack used to have you doing all of this by yourself."
"At first I wanted it that way," Ianto said, shining his torch around onto the shelves randomly just so it was illuminating anything but his face. "When... when it was about hiding Lisa. After... I don't know, I guess I'd just got used to it. Wasn't all bad. Not enough CCTV coverage down here to tell if I was working or practising for the roller-derby."
He'd known he'd be able to get Gwen to laugh at that, too enchanted by the picture of him skating through the archives in his fine suits to dwell on the mention of his cyberised lover. "I could wish we did have skates, we'll be forever just getting in and out of here for the loo." (As if that would be the best idea, when she was so pregnant she couldn't see her feet --) "Come on now, the database says there ought to be at least one more box of those squiggly bits to find in this section...?"
Police Constable Andy Davidson (and it was a little strange he still thought of himself that way, even as he kept making excuses to stay on with these mad people, but there you went) handed another long box down to Martha, careful to be sure he still bore most of the weight of it until she had it nearly to the floor. Wouldn't do to squash the boss's very pregnant wife, after all. "That's the last on this shelf," he said.
"I think we can probably take a break for a minute," she said, shutting the laptop and plopping down onto the stack of boxes already waiting for some proper attention. He pulled up a seat next to her, happy enough to be off his feet for a while. "So, how's it been going with Owen?"
The best excuse he'd found so far. "It's... going," he admitted, knowing he was grinning like an idiot. "Never sure what you'd call it, but... Going."
"It's so sweet, the way you found each other," Martha said, with a fond look. "Seems to be the best thing that's happened to him in a long time, he hasn't been nearly as much of an obnoxious little troll lately. We've been wondering what you did to tame him."
It had mostly involved handcuffs and the threat not to use them, but he didn't really think that was an appropriate subject of conversation in the circumstance. "Just one of those things, I suppose," he shrugged innocently.
The next pasteboard box had a coat in it, brown wool with military flash on like Jack's. Owen tried it on for the hell of it and found that it fit him pretty well. "It suits you," Tosh said shyly.
"Mine now," Owen agreed, feeling a bit more cheerful about at least having got something out of this dreary day for himself. "Something different for this winter. Well, I suppose you'll have something very different for the winter, won't you." Yes, there it was again, that flash of panic he'd been seeing more and more often in those too-sad eyes at the thought of what she'd managed to get herself into. "Tosh... how are you doing? I mean, really?"
She looked for a moment as if she were about to blow him off with a flippant answer, but then she sighed and seemed to crumple in on herself. "Scared. Lonely. And, erm, incredibly frustrated sometimes, it isn't easy, with all the, erm, hormones.... it's, it can be... frustrating. You know."
Bad light in here, but was she blushing? "Are you coming on to me, Tosh?"
Well, that's an interesting look, yes -- "Would it work?"
"Is this a trick question? Come on, Tosh, you know I..." He couldn't quite finish that sentence, he'd never quite been able to finish that sentence, but he'd always thought she knew, didn't she? How sometimes she'd been the only reason he kept coming in to this crap job at all, because he couldn't bear the thought of Jack retconning her away. Wasn't even about wanting her that way (although, yeah, not blind nor any longer dead), just... she was Tosh, you know? Their Tosh. She'd never needed to run out and get herself in the spot she was in this way, he'd have been -- well, maybe not happy -- well, maybe he -- She was still looking at him like that, wasn't she. "C'mere."
Tosh set aside her laptop and came to tuck herself into Owen's waiting arms. (She always fit, even now --) "Sometimes, when I start thinking about it in the middle of the night, I just want to scream," she confessed to the top buttons of the coat.
"You don't have to do this alone, Tosh. I --" Another one he didn't know how to finish, damn it. Or maybe he did, at that. Owen tipped her chin up and kissed her, gently, letting her take as much as she wanted from it which quickly proved to be quite a lot --
"Alien sex pollen? Come on, that has got to be one of Jack's stupid --"
The jar slipped from Gwen's hand, tumbling, crashing, spores dispersing into the air in a fine haze...
"What about you, have you got any tattoos?" Andy felt himself starting to blush. "Oh, that has to be a yes, where is it then? Come on, I showed you all of mine --"
Sure that his face had to be the colour of beetroot by now, the constable tugged down his waistband until she'd just be able to see the two lines of an abstract dolphin on his hipbone. Martha put a hand to her mouth as if she were trying to keep in a giggle. "That's... it really suits you, actually."
"Swam at Uni, even came this close to making the Sydney team -- sort of thing your mates talk you into in the locker room, right?"
"But I'm guessing you weren't still at it four years later."
Andy shrugged. "Well, that's life, isn't it? Had a kid, got married, she left me for a diver... Can't be the only bloke who's tried to find something larger than myself to be a part of after a thing like that. Although if you'd asked me a while back I'd have told you I meant just protecting Cardiff, not the entire human race. -- Begging your pardon, ma'am."
Martha laughed. (He'd never noticed before what a pretty laugh she had, kind of infectious -- Erm, boss's wife, Andy my lad, that wasn't the most survival-oriented thought you just had --) "I was born as human as you, Andy, just 'cos I got my biology rewritten doesn't mean Earth isn't still home. Anyway most of my best mates are human. Although I did meet this very nice dolphin once --"
And she slid the palm of her cool hand over his tattoo.
"You really don't want this, Gwen."
"You cannot tell me this isn't turning you on."
Well, that was perfectly correct, he'd lost any hope of plausible deniability when she'd started grinding her hips into his like that, but still Ianto felt he had a duty to make the effort. "What would Rhys say?"
"That he wished he was here."
Which effectively stopped his next words from having been and what would Jack say?, damn her. "I don't think he's attracted to me in the slightest --"
He still hadn't figured out how she'd got him flat on his back on the floor like this. A moment of hesitation, perhaps, the natural reluctance to fight back when a very pregnant woman was suddenly doing her best to find the right angle to facilitate, erm, congress -- There went another shirt-button, damn it. Well, if ever there was a time to lie back and think of Torchwood, Ianto thought, this probably came the closest to qualifying, since he couldn't see another way out of this at this point without one or the other of them getting hurt, physically, anyway, they could deal with emotionally later, and oh, my, that was a convincing argument she was making all of a sudden, really --
This probably wasn't the time to start wondering if they'd been in a CCTV blind spot, Owen thought rather belatedly. His reputation was one thing, but Tosh didn't deserve to be dragged into it. "Need to go find the toilet," he eventually mumbled, hoping she wouldn't take it as quite the blatant shag-and-run that it felt like to him. He did feel the sudden need to splash water on his face, or something, anything to counter this wooziness that had descended to muddy up what had actually been a rather pleasant bit of a cuddle after. Even if they were lying on a grubby concrete floor wrapped up in an old wool coat. He helped Tosh to get herself back up and sorted before he slunk off, taking the coat along because, well, it was a nice coat and if she wandered off while he was gone he might never find it again, right? In this place he was going to be lucky if he could find his way to the toilet, much less out. Damn it, he really wasn't thinking clearly today, maybe he had better go back to Tosh and --
No. Not thinking clearly at all, Harper. Be about your business and you can sort things with her after. Give her time to cool down, yeah? (If I want her to -- Erm. No, not thinking clearly.) Oh, she's going to kill me when she has a minute to think this through... And he didn't even want to get into thinking about what Andy would say, or the creeping conviction he was beginning to have that the simplest way to handle everything would be to get all the parties together and --
Not thinking clearly at all today...
She was such a tiny bit of a thing in his arms, Andy thought, sleepily wondering how events had come to such a pass. Not that he thought Jack would mind, from what he'd seen of the man he'd probably even think it was funny, but still -- "You're very gentle," Martha said. "Owen's lucky to have found you."
Owen -- Andy sat up. "He's going to... I don't know, why did we do this again?"
Martha looked puzzled herself, at that. "Dunno. Haven't had a proper shag in a while -- I mean, Jack is nothing if not inventive, but sometimes you just... you know. But... yeah. This was weird."
"I won't tell Jack if you won't," Andy promised fervently, looking round for his trousers. "I think I had better, erm, I'm not even sure what, really. I'm not exactly feeling myself all of a sudden."
"Maybe it's all this dust, god only knows what it might be made of around here. You're covered in it, you should go wash up."
"That might help," he agreed, thinking that it would at least do to be up and walking about for a while.
"Ianto, oh, god, Ianto, I'm so sorry, I practically raped you --"
"Consent was eventually granted," Ianto said dizzily. "I think... I think you had better go home. I think I had better go home? Something." Everything was still kind of fuzzy. He wondered if she'd managed to knock his head against the floor hard enough to give him a concussion. He didn't exactly care, and suspected vaguely that that should probably worry him.
Shakily Gwen stood up and began gathering together her clothes. "Oh, my god, I'm going to get home and Rhys is going to notice I've lost my knickers --"
"You weren't wearing any."
She didn't look reassured. "Are you sure?"
"It was fairly obvious."
"...You mean you were looking?"
Sex-pollen, Ianto Jones -- "I'm going to go... report this to Jack, or something," he said, turning his back as he started to dress. "The label says this isn't a particularly dangerous strain of spores, but I think we're all going to be pretty well off our heads for the rest of the day."
Now Gwen looked good and alarmed. "Do you think the others will have been affected?"
"I'm only hoping Jack hasn't, I may be walking straight into a combine harvester." He wasn't sure if he was speaking all that metaphorically, either. "Maybe you should sit for a while and wait to see if the effects are passing, you seemed to be more, erm, affected by it than I was." And bless Torchwood One's psychic training, or lord only knew what dropping that jar practically at his feet might have done to him -- as frustrating as his life had been lately, it might not have been his clothes half torn off, and wouldn't that be a pretty thing to have to explain to an irate Rhys: Sorry I accidentally shagged your wife, but the spores made me do it? He could just punch himself and save them both the trouble. As it was at least he was the one who looked the worse for wear, and she might be able to pretend that nothing had happened between them, it certainly wasn't as if it meant anything after all -- He was rambling, that was probably another bad sign. Note to self, consider getting discreet medical attention in the very near future for spore contamination and possible concussion.
Note to self, any medical attention self could obtain in the very near future would come from one Owen Harper, who is never discreet and is most likely as far out of his head on sex-spores as self is.
Note to self, self is pretty well buggered one way or the other, isn't self.
"There's sex-pollen in the ventilation system," Ianto said without preamble when the constable encountered him at a crossing between aisles of shelving.
"That would explain a few things," Andy replied, oddly relieved to find that at least there was something resembling a good reason for his sudden indiscretion with his boss's wife. (Maybe not one that would have made a damn bit of sense anywhere but here, but still a reason besides that they'd both spontaneously taken leave of their senses, which he still wasn't sure even Jack would buy however flexible the man's morals were.)
"The main Hub is always at positive pressure relative to the sublevels, so at least it won't spread out of the archives, but I'm afraid we'll all have had a good dose by now. I'm saying this now because at some point my next words are going to be 'fancy a shag?' and I want you to understand that this doesn't necessarily have to be about anything personal between us." Ianto ran a worried hand through his hair. He looked a little concussed, Andy thought, or maybe that was another effect of this sex-pollen stuff? Then again Ianto always was a strange one, standing here nattering on when they could be getting down to it --
Owen rounded a corner on his way back from the toilet and came upon the strangest sight he'd seen in a career that had thus far been made up of little but strange sights. It almost looked like Ianto and Andy, locked together in a position that would be considered compromising even for Torchwood, and going about it in an eerily determined silence that was oddly beautiful to watch. God, it was like mime sex. "Oi, teaboy, get off my boyfriend."
"Sex-pollen. Ventilation. Erm, welcome to join us?"
Well, what the hell, better than standing here watching this, anyway.
Come and go, isn't that just like a man for you. Tosh decided to give it another few minutes before she went looking, though, no sense in them both getting lost in this maze. Come to that, why not just IM Gwen or Martha, chances were he'd run into one of them first and stopped to chat, and if not it was at least something to pass the time...
God, she was going to kill him.
TOSH: Gwen? Martha? Owen's got lost on me coming back from the loo, have you seen him?
MARTHA: Not me. Everything all right w/ you?
Tosh considered how to answer this. TOSH: Compared to? :)
GWEN: we have a problem
GWEN: i knid of
GWEN: I kind of dropped somethign
MARTHA: let me guess, alien aphroddisiac?
GWEN: oh shit
GWEN: are your boys acting
TOSH: when was this?
GWEN: 1/2 hr?
MARTHA: least that explains it
(But wait a moment, it had been more than --)
GWEN: stay put. coming 2 get you both
MARTHA: Tosh? Bets on whereabouts of boys? ;)
TOSH: ws trying not to picture, thanks
"I need a minute, I'm getting dehydrated," Andy said some while later.
"I'll take that as a compliment." Owen rubbed his nose against Andy's fondly.
"You two are making this more unpleasant than I'd have thought possible even under these circumstances," Ianto observed grumpily, trying to fasten up a shirt that was now missing half its buttons.
"Oi, the amount of crap I've had to put up with from you and Jack over the years --"
"Do you think we should be trying to find the girls? Or would that be a very bad idea?"
Ianto's brow furrowed, considering. "Bad," he said, sounding reluctant.
"I don't know, might be interesting to see how they're getting on with it in their conditions --"
"Bad," Ianto repeated with a firm glare at Owen. "This is embarrassing enough for all of us without dragging your fantasies about lesbian mud-wrestling into it. I've seen your internet history," he added, when Owen opened his mouth to protest that his interest was purely scientific.
"S'pose we're not safe to be around them, anyway," Owen said, trying to put the best face on it. "Or at least I fully intend not to be for a while yet. You may need to sacrifice yourselves heroically by throwing yourselves on me."
"Piss off, Owen."
(But Ianto looked like he was thinking about it again.)
"...This is not going to work."
"We should try to find Martha -- I mean, for her professional opinion? Of... the logistics?"
"I think we're supposed to worry if this goes on this long, aren't we?"
"No, he's just more... Owen than we are."
"Right now I don't think I could if you held a gun to my head," Andy said. "-- And that's not an invitation to try it, either."
"Like your head the way it is, anyway," Owen mumbled into Andy's chest.
"He probably just needs a cold shower," Ianto suggested wearily. "Although I'm beginning to understand why he carries that many condoms."
"Okay, people, I know you must be really into your work down there because I haven't had to answer any stupid questions in at least an hour, but it's probably about time we knocked off for lunch. Hello? Hello...?"
It was almost worth it, Ianto thought. Just to have seen the look on Jack's face when he realised they'd gone and had the orgy without him. They would never be hearing the end of this one. But at least he'd given up on the archive reorganisation for the next hundred years, and sent them all home early to clean themselves up and sleep it off...
No, the cold shower wasn't helping, damn it. Time to take matters into his own hands, so to speak --
A lanky shadow across the curtain. "'Physician, heal thyself'?"
"Well, unless you want to come in here and kiss it better."
And damn, but that innocent face hid a mind every bit as twisted as Owen's own.
Gwen slept the sleep of the happily exhausted, her confused husband watching her face in drowsy astonishment as that one lock of her hair fluttered up and down with her soft breaths. Rhys had learnt by now not to ask too many questions about his wife's daily grind, especially when the answer this time might have interrupted the best shagging he'd got in nearly eight months with the need to Take Umbrage at something or other. He rather suspected that there was quite a story behind this one, aye, and that under no circumstances would he ever want to pry into it. For fear of it never being repeated.
Martha slept the fitful sleep of anyone who tried to share a bed with Jack Harkness when he was too pregnant to be anything but frustrated to begin with, much less after the day he'd missed out on something he'd been trying to talk them all into for years. Finally she gave up and went downstairs to look up exactly how you did manage when more than one of the parties was getting to be the size of a light utility vehicle. Strictly as medical research, of course.
Andy and Owen slept. Eventually.
Ianto couldn't sleep, bogged down in worries over what the hell any of them were going to say to each other the next time they met in the cold light of day. They'd all kept their heads enough to be careful, thank god, not that any arguments about Torchwood's policy on internal paternity-suits would be an issue right now at least, but it still had the potential to be so damn awkward, especially around Jack and his questionable sense of humour -- "You think too much," Tosh said sleepily, nuzzling into the thicket of hair on his chest.
She was probably right, he decided.