Title: Weevils And Other Daemons
Betas: Nox/BJ, Onigami/Lorne and Alex/Odysseus
Fandoms: Torchwood, Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials'
Disclaimers: If I owned either franchise I would not owe the Australian Government $12,000 in HECS debt.
Warnings: Supernatural themes. Some violence. Some language.
Summary: A bizarre event, in other words, a normal day for the Torchwood team, forces Owen to come out about his private life.
Author's Note: I stole the concept of 'daemons' from Phillip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' Trilogy, which is an excellent series, I highly recommend it. But, for those of you not familiar with it and the concept of 'daemons', this site should give you a bit more information.
http://en. day Doctor Owen Harper thanked every God in creation, every deity in every universe, every multiverse, that Jack was the way he was. Obviously, he wouldn't wish the whole not-dying thing on anyone. That was just… no. But, because the geezer couldn't die, Tosh had to reconfigure the computers and security systems in the Hub. Set them up so they allowed both humans and the close-enough-to-human that was Captain Jack Harkness. It also meant that he slid through the systems undetected. Well, he amended, sliding one hand into the pocket of his jacket, they got through undetected.
"Ianto," he nodded to the Welshman as he moved into the tourist bureau that fronted their base.
He received a small smile in return, "Owen," Ianto lilted back to him, pressing the button that allowed him – them – access into the Hub.
Owen moved into the Hub, tossing his stuff down onto his desk and booting up his computer, drifting as he waited for it. Helbreda was the other part of the aforementioned 'they'. A small, white, pink-nosed ferret with a stripe of grey down her back and little black feet.
Hellraiser, her name sounded like. Hell or Helly, Owen called her. Miserable bastard, she called him, amongst other things. And Owen was a miserable bastard sometimes, he knew it. Helbreda told him, quite often. But, perversely, unlike most daemon-bound people, Owen felt the need to question, to prod, to poke. So, more often than not, he ignored Helbreda's soft-voiced advice, quiet from his pocket at work, or out in public, or curled around his neck at home.
Most daemon-bound people, people like him, people with soul-deep connections to an animal spirit – and didn't that sound poncy – were exorbitantly proud of their daemons. Showed them off. If they were small, like Helbreda, then they kept them in their arms or on their shoulders. If they were too large to be held, like his father's leopard daemon, then they kept them close to their sides, a hand always resting, always touching.
That's what he'd always been led to believe, anyway. He'd been more than a little stunned when his mother had rounded on him the day after his father left and demanded that he never show 'that filthy creature' off in front of her again. His mother knew that she couldn't make him give Helbreda up without killing him, so she made him hide her, made Helbreda a shameful thing. His mother wasn't daemon-bound, could you tell? Then as soon as he was old enough, they left and never looked back.
Owen was still lost in thought, absently scowling at his screensaver, when a soft nudge in his ribs from inside his jacket brought his attention back to the Hub. He blinked, letting out a startled noise as a coffee mug suddenly appeared in his field of vision. He felt, rather than heard, Helbreda chuckle against his ribs and resisted the urge to throw a sarcastic comment her way. Instead, he turned his scowl up to Ianto, standing over him, face calm, holding the coffee mug.
"Bloody hell, d'you walk 'round 'ere in socks or something? Get your jollies outta sneakin' up on people?" he took the mug from Ianto's hand, sighing softly as the smell of the coffee hit his nose.
The calm on Ianto's face never faltered, even as he shifted his weight and showed Owen his black leather shoes, "My shoes and socks have nothing to do with my jollies, Owen," he deadpanned, "Enjoy your coffee."
As the Welshman walked away, Owen muttered, "Bloody teaboy."
No-one but Owen heard the soft voice that said, "If the 'bloody teaboy' knew how much time you spent watchin' his arse…"
"Shut it, you," Owen mumbled, swivelling in his chair as he took a sip of coffee, sighing with delight, and opening up the files on his computer.
Since starting at Torchwood, Owen had had a fair few mishaps. A fair few times that he could think of, where he should have followed Helbreda's advice, but didn't. There was the incident with the pheromone spray. Helbreda had told him…
'Leave it be, Owen, nothing good can come of that…'
… but he had ignored her, and taken it anyway. Then they had found the Ghost Machine. He had watched Lizzie Lewis get raped and murdered under that bridge. And Owen had been horrified. His hands had shook; tears had spilled down his cheeks. Tears of sorrow for Lizzie, but also tears of shame for himself. Nothing had happened that night he'd taken the pheromone spray, but, oh, it could have…
'It's over, Owen, let it go. Guilt only hurts us both…'
Dianne Holmes. The only woman he thought he could ever have loved. More like him than he could ever have dreamed. She'd left… run away with the changing wind. Owen thought he could've spent the rest of his life with her. That scared him. Really scared him…
'It scared me too, Owen. I thought we would drift apart…'
Then in the cage… facing down the weevil… that solitary moment… No. Fear. He'd told Jack that he hadn't wanted saving. And he hadn't. For one brief moment, he hadn't. It wasn't until he'd registered Helbreda's startled whimpers and horrified cries…
'Owen! Owen! Owen! Stop this… We need to get out!'
But not even Helbreda, with her almost uncanny sense of impending danger, saw it coming that day. The little ferret had no real wish to be squashed into his jacket pocket with Owen's torch. And Owen had no real wish to explain to the rest of the team why he was struggling to carry both his torch and his kit, when he had supposedly free pockets. So he'd placed Helbreda into a satchel that rested across his back, her warm weight resting between his shoulder blades. Close, but not close enough for either of their likings.
"What's in the handbag, Owen?" Gwen's teasing voice floated across to him.
Owen resisted the urge to sigh, wanting nothing more than to reach up and press his hand against the satchel, "Nothin' which concerns you, PC Cooper," he returned.
Helbreda murmured from the bag, "I really hope she was good in bed, Owen… coz she's a right cow…"
Owen was really glad Gwen was behind him as he blanched, "Ta, Helly, but if there's one thing I don't need… it's a runnin' commentary on my sex life from a bloody ferret!"
He endured the good natured teasing about the satchel. Any other time he would've given up long ago and flung the satchel at the nearest person. He felt Helbreda shiver against his back. But not this time. Not when they weren't close enough. It made him uneasy. Made them both uneasy.
That's why he was uncharacteristically quiet in the face of the ribbing. He missed the concerned looks the rest of Torchwood Three shot each other as they walked towards the most recent weevil sighting. He was too tense, too on edge, to notice the quiet words between Jack and Ianto, didn't see the Welshman nod and move around to Owen's other side. Owen almost started when Tosh's voice called out suddenly.
"This is it! This is the last known location."
Gwen looked around her, "Well… they aren't here now. Maybe they've moved on."
Owen bit back a snicker as Helbreda murmured from the satchel, "Hey… clever one, that one… Weevils aren't here, so they musta moved on… brain-boggling conclusion there."
Jack nodded, "We'll stick together this time… Tosh's scans reported at least three weevils. Tosh?"
Tosh looked up from her PDA, "The forest is probably our best bet," she nodded towards a grove of trees up ahead.
As they headed for the trees, Helbreda kept a running dialogue against Owen's back, "Splendid idea! Absolutely grand! Let's pack up our gear and toddle off into the forest where there may or may not be a pack of bloodthirsty weevils. Lovely!" Owen agreed with her.
Despite Helbreda's misgivings, Owen's constant watchfulness and the daemon-bound pair's uneasiness, the weevil attack still caught them by surprise. Owen started as Jack yelled a warning before hurling himself to the ground as a weevil roared and ran past him. Jack rolled back to his feet, gun out and firing. Owen dropped his kit and, keeping his back to a tree, protecting Helbreda, drew his gun and started firing too.
So focused was he on keeping his back to the tree and his gun up and firing at the weevil in front of him, that he nearly failed to notice the weevil to his left. Only a swipe of Helbreda's clawed feet across his shoulder blades and a screeched warning that was lost in the chaos made him turn, still firing. One, two, three bullets thudded into the weevil's chest. Owen squeezed the trigger again. The gun clicked over.
"Oh shit..." Owen pulled the trigger two more times as if that would suddenly make bullets appear in the chamber, "Oh really shit..."
The weevil thundered into him. Owen went flying, landing heavily on his back, the air whooshing out of his lungs as he gasped. His eyes flew wide open and he sucked in a huge gulp of air and sat up, reaching behind him wildly. Helbreda. His hand scrabbled over his back. Nothing. No satchel. No Helbreda. Where was his daemon?
"Oh no..." Owen scrambled unsteadily to his feet, already feeling the pull of being too far away from his daemon, "No, no, no..."
Jack reloaded and kept firing into the weevil that had knocked Owen down; noticing that the satchel the team had ribbed Owen about was sitting not far away from the weevil's feet, "Get back to the SUV! Go!"
Ianto ignored his Captain completely and stayed, eyes wide with fear, but still firing and reloading, firing and reloading. Tosh fired her last two bullets, waited until her gun clicked over then turned and ran. Gwen did the same, but paused a few steps away, hesitating, and yelled something unintelligible back to Jack. Owen heard Jack swear and tell her to move her arse, normally he would have found that funny, but in his hazy mind, there was something more important. Helbreda was more important.
Ianto stared in shock, gun falling into silence, as Owen started to take slow, shaky steps. But Owen's walking abilities were not what had the Welshman stunned. No. Ianto blinked in stunned horror as he watched Owen walk back towards the weevil, a look of foggy determination plastered onto his face.
"Sir..." he said, aiming his gun at the weevils in Owen's path, "Jack!"
Jack glanced over, "What in the hell is he doing?!"
Ianto took a step closer, firing at the weevil near Owen, "Owen! Are you mad?!"
Owen blinked owlishly at him and called something unintelligible back. Ianto shook his head, still firing. Owen kept walking and yelled back to him again, this time pointing at the satchel. Jack swore.
"He's going after the damn handbag?!"
Ianto shrugged helplessly, "I don't know, sir. He has to be concussed or something..."
"Or something..." Jack agreed sourly as he ran towards Owen, firing at the weevil.
A few more steps. Owen kept his eyes fixed on the satchel in the dirt. Helbreda… Just a few more steps. Owen grunted as he someone crashed into him from the side, narrowly missing a swipe from the weevil's claws. He let out a groan as he hit the floor. His head bounced off the dirt. Owen groaned again, nausea from the concussion and the pull of being too far away from his daemon pressing down on his mind. He barely registered being hauled to his feet and half-carried away.