Normally Ianto appreciated minor injuries. They gave him a reason to make Owen touch him.
But Ianto couldn’t appreciate Owen removing half-inch-long rose thorns from Ianto’s throbbing arm with a pair of pliers. Even Jack couldn’t have made that sexy. And it didn’t help that Owen stopped every few thorns to have a laughing fit.
“It’s not funny,” said Ianto. “I’m bleeding. My suit is in tatters. Not funny.”
“You got savaged by a bouquet of roses,” said Owen. “It’s hilarious.”
“No,” said Ianto.
“Yes,” said Owen. He ripped another thorn from Ianto’s arm. Ianto bit his lip. His mouth tasted like blood. “Who was even sending you roses, anyway? Because if those were from Jack—”
“A rogue florist sent them to Tosh,” Ianto said, twitching away from the pliers as they grasped a thorn just below his elbow. “Jack is tracking him down. And they aren’t really roses, they’re white assassinata from two galaxies over—” Ianto squeaked as Owen levered out the thorn. “I want more painkillers.”
“Owen, what have I said about torturing people without my express permission?” called Jack, jogging down the stairs with his coat billowing behind him. “Especially Ianto. No one gets to torture Ianto but me.”
Owen snorted and went to clean off the blood gumming the pliers.
“Thank you, sir,” said Ianto, not quite sarcastically. “Did you find the florist?”
“And introduced him to the marvels of retcon.” Jack sighed. “It’s too bad, really, he does incredible things with his tongue.”
Jack pressed his hands on Ianto’s shoulders, his cheek on Ianto’s hair. “I had to get him to trust me, didn’t I?” he said. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to rip off your scabs.”
Ianto supposed that screwing someone else when Ianto was damaged was Jack’s idea of kindness. How very…Jack.
Owen returned with the freshly cleaned pliers and scowled at them. “Go away,” he told Jack, removing a thorn from above Ianto’s elbow. Ianto bit through his lip. “This is a delicate medical operation.”
Jack kissed the side of Ianto’s face and walked around the autopsy table, standing behind Owen and catching hold of Owen’s wrists. Owen froze. “Owen,” said Jack. “What did I say about torturing Ianto?”
“I have to ask your permission?”
Jack laced his fingers through Owen’s, running his thumb over Owen’s palms and kissing Owen’s neck, his eyes on Ianto’s. Ianto shook his head. Hot as it was, he didn’t want Jack enraging Owen just then, and Owen was glaring at Ianto as if he’d put Jack up to this.
If the assassinata weren’t so bloody painful Ianto might have considered it. Angry Owen was really hot.
“Let’s go through how to do this properly,” Jack whispered in Owen’s ear, wrapping his hands around the pliers and maneuvering a thorn out of Ianto’s arm. Jack’s hands were very gentle. “Now let’s try that again…”
Jack kissed the other side of Owen’s neck and looked over Ianto’s flushed chest with a half-smile. “Gently,” he enunciated into Owen’s ear. “Like you’re making love to the thorns.”
Ianto squirmed. Jack winked at him and kissed Owen’s shoulder, pressed himself tighter against Owen’s back. “See how he didn’t scream that time?” Jack murmured, as Owen levered out the last thorn.
“He never screamed,” muttered Owen, flushed.
“Didn’t want to give you the satisfaction,” said Ianto.
Jack stuck out his tongue and then licked Owen’s neck. Owen jumped and stabbed Ianto with the pliers. “Owen, Owen, Owen,” said Jack reprovingly. “If you keep learning this slowly I’m going to have to show you how to wash his chest, too.”
“Won’t be necessary,” Ianto said quickly. “I’m sure Owen can…um…” Owen looked like he might try to feed Ianto the soap. “I can wash my own chest, sir, thank you.”
Jack sighed and turned Owen around, bent him back against the autopsy table, and kissed him properly. And left, smirking and swaggering his way up the stairs.
Owen glared at Ianto, cheeks fiery red, lips swollen. It was a pity Ianto’s arm felt like it would explode if he moved it. He would have liked to kiss Owen too just then. “You and your fucking games,” Owen snarled.
“Wasn’t mine,” said Ianto. Owen. hurled a roll of bandages at Ianto and stalked out with as much dignity as he could muster.
So Ianto didn’t really blame Owen for leaving a pair of roses on Ianto’s desk the next morning: white, like the assassinata, white with dark red bleeding in from the edges. Ianto’s cuts stung in terror and he circled the desk three times before he dared to pluck the card from the leaves.
“Love, Owen,” of course, in spiky, mocking handwriting.
That was just well-deserved revenge. But then there were a dozen roses a week later. And a dozen roses the week after that. And the third week, roses festooned around Ianto’s office like a May Day parade.
Ianto crept out of his office and hid behind the coffee machine. Perhaps he would have a nervous breakdown. He could become one with the coffee machine and always make Owen decaf.
Jack found him before the merge took place, unfortunately. “Where’s the coffee?” he demanded.
“Just fixing a screw,” said Ianto, dusting himself off and starting on the coffee. His fingers shook only slightly.
“I’ve been in your office,” said Jack. “You must have a herd of secret admirers. Why haven’t you invited any of them over to play?”
“That makes things simple,” said Jack. “He’s right here.”
Ianto poured the coffee into the cups. “He’s not an admirer. He’s making a joke. Shades of the assassinata. Hysterical.”
“I always knew he liked you,” said Jack. “Teasing you all the time. So quaint. So adorable. You should shag him. Is my coffee ready yet?”
Ianto handed him a cup. Let Jack get his own damn cream for once.
The next week, Owen ornamented the coffee machine with roses. Ianto stared at the sacrilege in silent horror until Owen walked up behind him, snapped his fingers, and said, “Ianto! Coffee!”
Ianto snapped and slammed Owen against the wall opposite the coffee machine. “Roses!” he blurted, slamming his head against the cinderblocks. “Roses! Roses!”
“Fucking hell!” yelped Owen, trying to push Ianto away. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”
“You sent me roses!” Ianto seethed, slamming Owen against the wall.
“I sent you two roses! Three weeks ago!”
“Look at the coffee machine!” cried Ianto. “You—you—you mutilated my coffee machine with roses. Four dozen roses! You—”
“Put me down, you bastard, I would never spend that kind of money on you.”
“You charged it to Torchwood!”
“I bet Jack charged it to Torchwood!”
“Jack—” Ianto stopped, suddenly unsure. His grip loosened and Owen shoved Ianto off him and against the coffee machine.
“If you ever hit me again I’m going to kill you,” said Owen, his face too close to Ianto’s as he rammed him against the rose thorns. “You tosser,” punctuating his rant with punches, “you fucking lunatic, you—”
Ianto took evasive action, in the form of grasping Owen’s head and ramming his tongue down Owen’s throat.
Owen was so startled that Ianto pushed him away from the coffee machine, but he regained his equilibrium before Ianto had him against the wall again. He tried to put Ianto in a head lock.
No way in hell was Ianto letting Owen incapacitate him. He scooped Owen into a fireman’s carry, or tried, and overbalanced. Owen fell and dragged Ianto down with him.
Ianto pinned Owen’s wrists to the floor and kissed him till Owen stopped struggling, and then kissed him some more because who turned down an opportunity for snogging?
“Is this your way of apologizing?” gasped Owen, when Ianto eased off his mouth to get acquainted with the hollow of his throat.
“What do I have to apologize for?”
“Flinging me against the—ah—the fucking wall, you wanker.”
“Sorry,” said Ianto, straddling Owen’s hips and letting Owen rip at his suit buttons. Thorns had ruined the jacket anyway. Bloody roses. Jack’s stupid plans—
“Owen,” Ianto gasped urgently. “Owen. Why don’t we continue this later?”
“What the fuck?”
“Without the CCTV,” Ianto said.
That broke the spell. “Get off me!” yelled Owen, shoving Ianto right onto the floor. “Off! Off!”
“You and Jack and your stupid games!” Owen yelled. He kicked the coffee machine before he left.
Ianto collapsed back on the floor, fixing the interlude in his mind for later playback (much better than CCTV) and letting his breath and color and heartbeat return to normal. Storming in to shout at Jack looking desperate to be shagged would probably not get the proper point across.
“Nice tongue action,” said Jack. “Increasing intensity. Good. I love how you cop a feel there. But you should’ve tried to take off his shirt once you’d got him down—”
The CCTV footage of Owen and Ianto’s escapade, accompanied by Jack's expert commentary. Sometimes, coming to Jack’s office was an ordeal.
“All in all, you may have a future in fight-sex,” said Jack, giving Ianto an appraising look. “If you learn some follow through. I’ll arrange more opportunities. The two of you can go Weevil hunting together. Maybe an undercover operation. Practical jokes…” he rewound the CCTV footage. “Let me show you how to do this right,” he said.
Tempting. But four dozen roses of torture was too many for even Ianto to forgive. “You’ll have to find the florist again, sir,” he said. “I’m afraid I have to get Owen to pick thorns out of my back.”
“But I retconned the florist.”
“That is unfortunate, sir.”
“And none of those thorns could have gone through your suit.”
“I’m sure Owen will figure that out eventually, sir.”
“I hope the CCTV sustains you for a while, sir,” said Ianto. “I’m afraid there will be no coffee today, because both the machine and its operator are incapacitated by floral arrangements. Have a good morning.”
Jack gave Ianto and Owen all the Weevil hunts for the next month. But it was worth it. Owen would do anything to fight the boredom of stake-outs.