Pairing: Jack/Ianto, could be read as gen
Rating: PG-13 for language
A/N: 1,128 words; perhaps a slightly different interpretation of the theme. Was to be part of a different fic, but it got out of hand. Why Owen sounds like Rodney McKay at times is a mystery to me.
“Move,” Owen yelled. “Move, move, get the fuck out of my way --“
Tosh squeaked as he barrelled past her. Bits of paraphernalia went flying off her workstation: pencils, paperclips, a mouse; she grabbed at the keyboard before it could make a daring escape.
“What’s going on?” Gwen said sharply, over the clatter of metal and elsewhere, Owen’s bark of radios on! Everyone! “Owen, what are you --“
Owen’s voice came over the comm, harsh and brittle. “Shut up! Tosh, you stay put. Jack, bring him down to the medical suite, now.”
Gwen’s eyes widened as she caught sight of Jack making his way across the Hub; Ianto was cradled in his arms, limp but conscious, and surprisingly heavy for someone so lean. He couldn’t see where he was putting his feet, so he jerked his head at Gwen, not wanting to trip over something unseen.
Gwen fluttered helplessly at his elbow while he put Ianto down. “Jack,” she said, “what’s wrong, did something happen --"
“Take his other arm,” Jack said. Then, to Ianto, “We’re just going to walk downstairs. Can you do that for me? Just a few more steps.”
He didn’t wait for Ianto’s vague affirmative noise, his barely-susceptible nod, just walked them forward; past Tosh, who was standing silently and fidgeting at her workstation, looking like she wanted to bolt towards them. Gwen looked uncomfortable, though whether it was from the weight or the heat he couldn’t tell. “He’s really burning up,” she said, and because Jack didn’t think he could manage sarcasm at this point, didn’t think he could force it out through the tight dryness in his throat, he replied with one short “yeah.”
They guided him to the medical suite in agonisingly short increments. It took forever. By the time they got there, Owen had run a cool bath and was banging drawers around, looking for a thermometer.
“What the fuck took you so long?” he said, stripping Ianto down, no finesse.
His tone made Jack want to snap. But it was Owen’s playing field, now; it was out of his hands. Owen wasn’t waiting for an answer, anyway. He wrapped Ianto in a towel and slid him into the bath, pressing a cold compress to his forehead, snapping at Tosh all the while.
“Get the expert system,” he said tersely. “Look up hyperthermia, ataxia, dizziness, mydriasis, dry skin --"
Tosh’s voice was harried and frantic as she typed. “Wait, my -- myd -- Owen, I don’t know how to spell that --“
“-- r-i-a-s-i-s. Tachycardia at rest, confusion --”
“Shouldn’t you be putting ice in there, or something?” Gwen asked awkwardly. She looked pretty much like how Jack felt: confused, out of her depth, a little afraid.
“Oh yes, excellent, let’s turn his hyperthermia into hypothermia,” Owen snapped, and then sagged against the edge of the basin, energy draining out; he even had the grace to look slightly contrite. He slid down and stared at his hands, making tiny ripples in the water. “Look -- he was about to get heatstroke. I think that calls for a little panicking, seeing as how I’m just about the only doctor on this team.”
“Get some water,” Jack said to Gwen, quietly. She nodded and made her way to the sink.
Owen was checking Ianto’s temperature, the tightness around his mouth beginning to fade. “Still conscious, thank God.”
“What happened?” Jack asked.
Gwen came back with the cup and knelt beside the bath, pressing it to Ianto’s lips. “Drink,” she said gently.
“I don’t know, I thought he had a fever,” Owen said. “Flushed, said he was dizzy, started taking off his tie.”
“But he wasn’t sweating.”
“Right,” Owen said. “Body temperature climbed through the roof. I don’t know what the fuck this is. He’s dry as a bone.”
“I don’t know either,” and Tosh’s voice was uneasy, restless. “Nothing’s coming up on the search -- nothing with all these symptoms, anyway. Could be some sort of alien virus --”
Owen sat back and made a muffled groaning noise. “Check again,” he said. “Diseases, virals, drugs, everything. Anything you can think of.” He leant back over the basin and snapped his fingers to catch Ianto’s attention.
“Hey,” Jack said.
“Shut up. He’s sick, not an invalid.” Owen studied Ianto carefully, watching the flutter of his eyelashes, his wide-blown pupils. “Ianto. Ianto. Have you noticed anything weird recently? Anything out of the ordinary? Did you receive anything new from anyone?”
Ianto paused to think. When he spoke, his voice was slurred but strong. “A watch,” he said.
“Where? When did you get it?”
This time, the pause was longer. “Yesterday,” Ianto said, closing his eyes briefly. “Yesterday, yesterday, yesterday --“
Owen adjusted the device at his ear. “Tosh, add perseveration to that list.” To Ianto, he said: “Anything else?”
It was rare for Jack to feel so useless, like he had no choice but to stand back and watch from the sidelines. He found he didn’t like the feeling; crossed his arms and shifted his stance and tried to settle down, trying not to look at Ianto in case he started yelling at people. He waited.
Ianto shook his head slowly, and Owen let out an exhalation. The silence from Tosh was growing increasingly oppressive.
“Tosh, how’s that search going?” Owen said finally.
It was a long few seconds before she replied. When she did, her voice was curt.
“BZ,” Tosh said.
Owen’s head snapped up. “What?”
“3-quinuclidinyl benzilate, QNB,” she said. “Military incapacitating agent, antichol -- anticholinergic. Odourless. Fits all the symptoms,” and then, when Owen made a noise of disgust, she snapped, “it’s either that, or some unknown alien compound, and I think I know which I prefer given that Ianto’s going to be fine in a few hours.”
“But why?” Gwen asked, just as Jack said “How?” and Owen ground out “production of BZ is supposed to be strictly limited, so forgive me if it sounds just a little far-fetched --“
“Guys,” Tosh said, tiredly, “Just do a chemical analysis on the watch, we can all figure out the hows and whys later.”
“I’m really, really sorry.” Ianto looked at them apologetically, and then huffed a half-laugh when Owen snapped, “Yes, well done, that was a completely pointless waste of energy.” His eyes slipped closed, body relaxing underneath the cool water, breathing deep and even.
“Ianto,” Jack said sharply, and then, voice rising, “Ianto --"
“He’ll be fine, Jesus, he’s just sleeping,” Owen said. He pressed a damp cloth against Ianto’s forehead, gently wiping it clean, as the panicked tightness in Jack's chest started to subside. “Let him be.”
"He'll be fine," Tosh echoed.
And after a while, he was.