Warning: Character Death
Notes: 1688 words. Written for tw_flashfic's Undercover challenge.
Summary: Jack loses a team mate.
Jack lifted the sheet off of Owen’s body. Under the cover of white, Owen lay cold on the autopsy slab that he had worked at so many times.
“I can’t do this,” Jack said, not looking at the body. At Owen, he reminded himself. It wasn’t just a body. Tosh nodded and wrote something down on the clipboard. She refused to look at Owen, at the gashes and torn chunks of skin.
“How could this have happened?” Gwen cried, sitting on the stairs. “Owen knows how to handle Weevils! It’s routine! Just a few hours of Weevil hunting. Jack…” her voice was pitiful. “Jack, talk to us. What happened?”
Jack shook his head.
“I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW, all right?! I don’t always know everything!”
Tosh shot him a look, her hands clenched around the pen. Gwen started crying again. Jack ran a hand through his hair.
“Go home, Gwen. You’re no use to me like this.” He patted her back to take the sting out of his words. But Gwen shrugged him off.
“No! I need to stay.”
“No,” said Tosh, biting her lip. “You need to go.”
They held each other’s eyes for a moment before Gwen nodded.
“Okay. All right. Just…don’t…don’t put him away until tomorrow. I want to say goodbye.”
The other two nodded and she left. Jack covered Owen up before looking at Tosh.
“Can you retrace his last movements, on the CCTV?”
Tosh nodded, controlling her breathing.
“Yes. I think so, yes. Do you…” her voice trailed off, “do you want me to look for Ianto too?”
Jack wanted to scream. Instead he dug his fingers into his flesh.
“Do you think you’ll find something?” he asked, looking towards the bundle of shredded clothes they’d found on Owen. Ianto’s red tie and pinstripe suit were easily recognised.
“There was no body.” Tosh offered and Jack shook his head.
“There was the fire, though…”
“Don’t you think he’d have come back by now, if he could’ve.”
“Well,” Tosh offered, “he’s got no clothes. He might feel it would be professional.”
She watched Jack give a weak smile.
“Sorry,” she said, “I’ll go look. Don’t…don’t do anything stupid, Jack.”
“Don’t worry about me,” he smiled. Tosh frowned, walking up the stairs.
“But we do,” she whispered and Jack closed his eyes.
Under the cover of night, Jack stalked down the streets, his coat enfolding him like a cloak. He could still smell the burning, the charred flesh of Weevil and human alike. They had gotten Owen out before he could burn to ashes…but he had already succumbed to his wounds.
Jack couldn’t believe it. In one day, two of his team members had been wiped out. How had he lost control? How had this happened?! Owen, especially, was well trained and quick on his feet. He couldn’t imagine what it had taken to bring Owen down.
And Ianto. Jack suddenly leaned against the wall, buckling forward and throwing up bile. Oh god, Ianto. Why had he gone again? Jack couldn’t remember, and he thought he might just…well…killing himself was pointless, but do something if it turned out he’d been the cause of Ianto going on this thing with Owen.
Jack breathed in deeply. He needed to find proof. Proof that Ianto had died. Proof that he would no longer have that lean, warm body in his bed. Jack was almost sick again, but managed to control himself. He could do this. He could.
It was touch and go for a bit, especially when the burnt warehouse came into view. It was cordoned off with police tape, but he just ducked under it and waded through the first few layers of plaster, wood and stone. Some of the walls were still standing, and Jack realised it had been a huge storage place, bigger than he had imagined.
It almost looked like the place where Owen had gone undercover to fight the Weevils. Jack stopped. It wasn’t the same place, was it? It couldn’t be. Owen wouldn’t possibly be that stupid…or drag Ianto into that…would he? Jack trembled as he thought of what Owen was capable of when he lost his head.
“Tosh,” he whispered into his com, trying to control his breathing. “Tosh, is…is the place that burnt down…is it the same place where Owen…” he trailed off, hoping she understood.
Her voice crackled back.
“No,” she said, and he breathed in relief until she added, “but it was part of the agency.”
“WHAT?” Jack said, looking around. “The same…so it was for sale? Hypothetically?”
“Yes,” Tosh said. He heard her type in some stuff. “Jack,” her voice was hesitant. “I’m in Owen’s files now. He’s been tracking them. Their movements. It seems he was trying to make sure they didn’t start up again.”
Jack looked around at the warehouse, and thought of Owen’s wounds back at the Hub.
“But they did,” he said and walked further into the rubble. “They did and Owen tried to stop them. Oh DAMNIT OWEN!” Jack bellowed. He heard Tosh drop something. Then her voice was on the com again.
“Jack, you think Owen went to take them on alone?”
Jack felt like strangling Owen’s corpse.
“Yes,” he said, “I think that’s exactly what he did. He told me he was going Weevil hunting. He probably felt it was his responsibility to clean up this mess. That’s why he was tracking them. Only…they must’ve recognised him, somehow, and forced him in that fucking cage again. But he fought back this time…and killed the Weevil. That was the second body we found. Owen knows their weaknesses, he’s studied them. Oh Owen,” he whispered to himself, “why didn’t you come talk to me?”
“It’s not your fault, Jack,” Tosh said. “You know how stubborn he is. Was. It was a matter of pride.”
“He was part of my team!” Jack hissed back, pulling some wood off the floor and sighing.
“What about Ianto?” Tosh asked, her fingers tapping away at the keyboard. Jack shrugged.
“He must’ve either followed Owen or confronted him as he was leaving. He wouldn’t let him go alone, of course. Why does no one in this godforsaken team actually listen to me,” he hissed and Tosh cleared her throat.
“Except you,” he added and he heard her snort. Then she gave a gasp.
“Jack, I’ve been scanning with the body heat sensor. There’s a life form a few feet away from you. Breathing.”
Jack leapt forward and started pulling away blackened plaster and stone. He heard a whimper to his left, and moved slowly. The framework of the door was still standing, but the door itself had split in two, and had splintered to the ground. He walked through the opening, seeing that it had been some sort of closet. Something was moving in the corner, and he pulled out his torch, moving the rubble away.
Ianto lay curled up, his hands and feet tied, wearing only his boxers. There was a gag over his mouth, and his entire body was covered in bruises. He squinted at Jack, squeezing his eyes shut when Jack shone the torch at him. Jack rushed forward, pulling off the gag, whispering to Tosh to come get them with the SUV as soon as possible.
“Jack,” Ianto pleaded, “it hurts, Jack. Hurts everywhere.”
Jack untied him, rubbing his wrists and ankles to get the circulation flowing.
“Doesn't surprise me,” he said softly, "you've just had a warehouse burn down on top of you." Ianto was alive. He was alive.
“I tried to stop him,” Ianto babbled, “I said we should go back, get you, get anyone. He wouldn’t let me. He said it was his responsibility. I never wanted him dead, Jack. Jack, I heard him, heard him screaming. He tied me up. Said you would come for me. Said he wouldn’t risk me too. I tried to stop him Jack…Jack?” His teeth were chattering and Jack took off his coat, wrapping Ianto up in it. He carried him out of the burnt building, whispering in his ear, soothing him as Ianto trembled in his arms.
Tosh was already there, and Jack wondered briefly how many speeding tickets he’d get for this one. Tosh ran forward, tears streaming down her face, patting Ianto’s head, his face, his arms. Jack ushered them back to the car, letting Tosh drive, whilst he cradled the other man to his chest.
When they got back to the Hub, Tosh and Jack cleaned Ianto up as quickly as they could before Jack told Tosh to go home. She seemed ready to protest before she looked at his face.
“Okay,” she said, kissing his cheek. She kissed Ianto’s forehead and left, looking back a few times.
Jack carried Ianto down to his private quarters, putting the man down on his bed. He quickly undressed and slid them both under the covers, wrapping his arms around Ianto.
“I tried, Jack,” Ianto whispered, his body heating up slowly. “I tried to stop him. I didn’t want him to die. But he wouldn’t let me. He took my clothes, to play the part. But it didn’t work. He’s dead, Jack. I heard him screaming. They burnt down the place to cover their tracks. He didn’t know. I could hear him screaming.”
“Ianto,” Jack whispered, “it’s okay. It’s okay. I’ve got you. You’re safe. Owen probably saved your life. They didn’t find you, did they?”
Ianto shook his head, trying to get closer to Jack. He put his head on Jack’s chest, and Jack didn’t say anything about the tears he felt on his skin. He pressed a kiss to Ianto’s head before putting a finger to his lips.
“Ssh,” he said, “tomorrow you can help me point out who they were. Don’t worry; we’ll get them for this.”
Ianto nodded and his breathing slowed as he eventually fell asleep. Jack was awake for a long time after that, silently thanking Owen for keeping Ianto safe. It might be the most unselfish selfish thing Owen had ever done.