Sometimes Owen gets the feeling that he's forgotten something important. It's not quite the 'I think I left the oven on' feeling, which is like having your stomach drop away suddenly and without warning. What Owen feels is more of a tickle of memory, as though maybe he has missed someone's birthday, but maybe it's really next month and he's just worrying over nothing.
It happens at odd moments. A few months back, he saw a young brunette trying on a necklace in a jewelers. It was a long, gold chain with a heart shaped locket on the end, and he still can't fathom why it looked so wrong on her, or why he was so very angry about it.
Last week when Gwen tried to made tea for everyone, he felt an inexplicable feeling of loss when Tosh gently explained that she preferred hers without milk.
He can't abide the smell of cigarette smoke any more, which is particularly odd because he used to smoke quite a lot as a student. He can't actually remember quitting.
The last time he went to London, he felt vaguely dizzy the entire time. Weddings almost make him nauseous.
Owen has worked long enough at Torchwood to know what these sensations really mean. He's not just being absent minded, at least not in the usual sense. He's also not dealing with some repressed childhood trauma; unfortunately his childhood memories persist in high definition technicolour.
No, these are all part of a deleted memory, one deliberately removed from his conscious mind. This is the side effect of Retcon, and whatever was taken from him did not want to go.
He's also pretty sure that it was self inflicted. If the process is properly managed, Retcon doesn't cause these sorts of problems. In the first few minutes after loss of consciousness, another person can suggest comforting, false memories to the victim, and in the absence of the actual truth the victim's mind latches onto these constructions and turn them into a kind of new truth.
Owen doesn't even have any comforting lies to fill the gaps.
A pretty blonde wearing far too much eye makeup drops herself into the bar stool next to him. The club is extremely loud, the bar in front of them extremely sticky, and the girl looks extremely determined.
"Hi. My name's Katie. You can buy me a drink if you like."
Owen feels a spike of grief from his chest to his temples, and squeezes his eyes shut.
And he has no idea why.