Owen rolled his eyes as his boss said with excessive enthusiasm, "Come on, Owen. It'll be fun!" They were walking down Queen Street with a destination in mind, but Owen was dragging his feet.
"What planet are you from? In no way could this be construed as fun."
"Well, it won't be bad, anyway," Jack assured him. "Between the two of us we should be able to figure out what to get Tosh for her birthday. We both know her pretty well, right? There's gotta be something."
Owen was not convinced. "We know what to get her. A gift certificate for Geeks-R-Us."
"That's what we got her last year."
"And she liked it, too!"
"No," Jack insisted. "This year we're going to get her something personal, something that shows we put some thought into it."
Owen narrowed his eyes. "You've been talking to Gwen again, haven't you." When Jack looked sufficiently guilty, Owen asked, "What's Ianto getting her?"
Now Jack pouted. "He won't tell me. Says he has 'confidence in my ability to select a suitably meaningful gift'."
Owen snorted. "And now we're off to bloody Marks and Spencer. I hate that store." Something occurred to him. "We're not buying her a bra, so get that right out of your mind."
"Oh," Jack whined, "you're no fun. But Marks and Spencer is. Absolutely the cutest girls and guys in town work there. Haven't you ever noticed?"
Suddenly intrigued, because one thing Jack had was excellent taste in girls and guys, Owen stopped, and Jack stopped with him. Owen said, "Hmm, that does sound promising."
"Yeah. We can pick one we like and get him to help us choose something for Tosh."
"Or her," Owen added.
Jack nodded happily, "Or her."
They were both startled by the sound of gunfire, way too close for comfort. Looking toward the noise, Owen saw four masked men coming out of Barclay's a couple dozen metres ahead of them, carrying bags and assault rifles. One of them trained his weapon on a young couple walking their dog past the bank entrance, and opened fire.
On reflex Owen reached for his gun, but who takes their gun shopping to M&S? He would next time. The men turned in their direction. If there was a next time. "Crap," he said.
The next thing he knew, Jack was pushing him to the ground, and he ended up on his back between the tyres of a car and the curb. Two seconds later Jack's considerable bulk landed heavily on top of him. Between the two blows, Owen's breath was knocked out of him. The fact that Jack's shoulder was directly over his face didn't help him breathe any easier.
The popping and rattling sound of the guns continued and Jack jerked against him, then went still, the muscles of his body relaxing. It took a moment for it to sink in that the jolt was the impact of bullets entering Jack's body, and that he had died. He said it to himself in his head. Jack just died. He repeated it again, his brain feeling inexplicably slow.
After just getting his breath back, now Owen was holding it. Pure terror ran ice cold through his veins. The immobilizing terror of imminent, sudden and permanent death. He could hear footsteps near his head, then felt the thud of a boot kicking Jack in the side. The footsteps moved away, and the weapon began firing at another target. Not at Owen.
His chest on fire, Owen risked one breath, then another. Death was less imminent. For him. Jack was dead already.
Suddenly desperate to get the other man's weight off him, Owen tried to push Jack away, but found that he couldn't move. His shoulders were wedged tightly between the car and the cement curb, and he couldn’t get them free. He bucked his hips, but his lower body didn't have the strength to shift Jack. He could bend his elbows to move his forearms, and his hands came up inside Jack's coat to clasp Jack's sides. Muscle and ridges of bone felt solid and familiar beneath his palms. Jack.
When Owen wasn't crazy, there was no one he trusted more than Jack Harkness, and this was exactly why. He'd just sacrificed his own life to save Owen's, without a moment of hesitation. Sure, Jack would be all right. He knew that, had seen it demonstrated often enough, but that wasn't the point. Owen was fairly sure that if Jack only had one life to give, he'd do the same. Unfortunately, Owen wasn't sure he could say the same for himself. He was crazy way too much of the time.
Owen grasped Jack tighter, his nails digging into the other man's flesh through his shirt, but now he wasn't trying to push him away. He turned his face and angled it up into Jack's neck, for better access to oxygen, but also to catch Jack's distinctive citrus scent.
Jack's weight was crushing him, but Owen welcomed it. It held him down, kept him safe, kept him from flying to pieces. It reminded him of, forced him to remember, a time that seemed like only yesterday. Owen had been crazy, and the bullets entering Jack's body had been fired by his own hand. He liked to think that if he could go back and stop himself from pulling the trigger, he would, he but wasn't sure of that. Jack had been dead, but then he'd forgiven Owen, and wrapped his arms around him, held him so tightly that it felt like redemption. He'd never been more alive in his life. It was better than an orgasm, better than being mauled by a Weevil.
The gun fire had moved farther away, but Owen could hear moans and people crying. A siren began to bleat in the distance. He couldn't do anything about it, so he ignored it, and concentrated on memorizing the sensation of Jack's body against his. It was sweet, but disturbing in context, and he refused to acknowledge the physical reaction he felt stirring in him. He bloody well was not going to get a hard-on from a corpse. Not that Jack would mind, the randy bugger.
There were people moving around, now, and he probably could have shouted to get someone to help him, but given Jack's propensity for sudden, startling resurrection, he thought it prudent not to draw attention to them. So Owen waited. Breathing in Jack. Breathing because of Jack. Jack's body and his ridiculous grey coat shielding him from the world. Want rose up in him. Wanting Jack? Yeah, maybe, but it was more. It was a deeper want, a need for something he couldn't quite name.
Jack gasped and shuddered, as life returned. He groaned and shifted, grinding his groin against Owen's. Then Jack lifted his head and blinked down at Owen, reorienting himself.
"Hey there," Jack said. "I know you don't have a gun in your pocket, so you must be glad to see me." He thrust his hips slowly, making Owen's predicament even worse.
"Piss off," Owen said, trying not to smile. "It's purely a near-death experience, glad-to-be-alive physiological reaction. Don't flatter yourself, Harkness."
"It's a reaction that I completely approve of." With a cheeky grin, Jack continued to rub against him, and Owen felt the other man's corresponding hardness grow between them.
Owen groaned, "Oh, bloody hell," and banged his head against the cement.
"Don't hurt yourself," Jack teased. "I went to some trouble to keep you in one piece. You are all right, aren't you?"
"Yeah. And, uh. Thanks for the heroics."
"Any time. Also, any time you just want me to cover you with my body, say the word."
Jack was moving his hips in maddeningly stimulating circles. Owen needed to either have off right then and there, or stop the torture.
"Get the fuck off me, you prick," he said gruffly.
"You sure that's what you want?" Jack asked, with a couple of targeted thrusts for emphasis.
Owen pulled out the big guns. "I'm a doctor, and there are people who need medical attention. You're stopping me getting to them."
That worked. Jack sobered and quit moving. "Oh. Right. Uh, Owen, you may have to let go of me before I can get up."
Owen closed his eyes in humiliation, and forced his reluctant fingers to loosen their grip on Jack's sides.
Jack leapt to his feet, none the worse for wear for having been dead two minutes before, then bent down, grabbed Owen's hands, and pulled him up and against him for one last grope. Of their own volition, Owen's arms slipped around Jack inside his coat, and his hands brushed over the ragged tears in the other man's shirt, where the bullets had ripped through.
After surreptitiously adjusting his uncomfortably tight jeans, Owen pushed away and turned Jack around to find the back of his coat smooth and whole.
"Dammit! I knew it. How do you do that?"
Jack winked at him. "That would be telling. So correct me if I'm wrong, but we just experienced a common, run of the mill bank robbery, right? No alien involvement, nothing to do with Torchwood? None of this is our fault for once?" He motioned toward the carnage around them, where the emergency services were just beginning to arrive.
"Yeah. For once," Owen said, as he surveyed the dead and injured. "A bank robbery with bloody automatic weapons. The neighbourhood's going to hell. Be as bad as America soon."
An elderly black man with a profusely bleeding shoulder wound was moaning where he lay against the wall near Owen and Jack. Owen went to him and began checking him over. It was a clean shot through the fleshy part of his shoulder. Not fatal as long as the bleeding was stopped.
As Owen applied pressure to the wound, he looked around and found Jack kneeling, his head practically under a car just down the street, where he was trying to coax a small child out from under the vehicle. Despite the horror of having just seen her mother killed, the child was fascinated by Jack's smiling, reassuring face, and was already reaching her hand towards his. Yeah, that was the effect Jack had on people. It was the effect he had on Owen.
If Jack had died the day that Owen killed him, he wouldn't have had to live with the regret. He would have died soon after, himself, either physically or worse, inside, without even taking into account the giant Armageddon monster he had been responsible for unleashing on the world. He had deserved to die. Whoever or whatever made Jack immortal was to thank for Jack still being there, not Owen. He felt, in a way, that every day he lived after that one was extra, beyond his fair allotment. He wasn't complaining. It gave him a chance to put his unexpected redemption to use. Make it mean something.
Owen turned back to the man he was tending.
"You're going to be all right."