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. nodded slowly, "Not before I apologise though," he said, leaning against the wall.
Owen frowned slightly, memories of pain and forests and iron-strong arms around him filtering into his consciousness, "You…" his eyes widened, "You separated us."
Jack winced, "Yeah. But, in my defence, we didn't know you were daemon-bound in the first place."
Owen nodded, "Touché," his hands still curled protectively around the ferret's body, however.
Gwen half-raised her hand, "Can I ask something? I mean, you lot seem to know an awful lot about this… Does it make Owen an alien?"
The team snorted with laughter as Owen shot her a dirty look, "No, Gwen, it doesn't make me an alien. It just makes me like himself over there," he tilted his head at Jack, "Human-but-not-quite."
The team watched as a frown creased Owen's brow and he glanced down at the ferret, murmuring, "What?" there was a pause, "Well, no… but…" he sighed, flicking his gaze back up to the team, then back down to the ferret, "I am so whipped," he muttered.
He turned back to the bemused looking team, "This," he said, holding the ferret up by his ear, "Is Helbreda, my daemon."
Gwen reached out a hand to pat her, "She's cute, Owen," but blinked in shock as Owen practically recoiled, yanking the daemon out of Gwen's reach.
"Do… not… touch… my… daemon…" he said, giving Gwen a dirty look as Helbreda wound herself around Owen's neck.
Gwen and Tosh both turned to stare, wide-eyed, at the pale Ianto, who stood, head bowed and shoulders hunched. Jack shook his head and looked out at the ceiling of the Hub, watching Myfanwy circle lazily around the room. Owen looked between them all, eyeing each one warily.
"What?" he said cautiously.
Ianto finally looked up, "In the forest… Owen, I didn't know…"
Owen paled slightly, "You… touched her…?"
Ianto nodded, cringing, "I took her out of the bag and put her on your chest when you were hurt."
Owen blanched a little at the thought of someone else touching his daemon, "It's… ah bollocks…" he took a breath, turning to face the little ferret for a moment, obviously listening, before nodding, "I suppose, in that circumstance… it's alright. Just… really… don't do it again."
Tosh looked at him curiously, "Why is it so bad? Having someone other than you touch… Helbreda, was it?"
Owen frowned, thinking about that, "I… it's like…" he turned to Helbreda, "Little help?"
Helbreda's furry head cocked sharply to the side, "Well, we are the same and not the same… one but two…"
Owen raised an eyebrow at her, "See… I understand that perfectly," he nodded to the team, "But them?"
Helbreda shrugged, the gesture odd on a ferret, "You try and explain it then."
The team watched the one-sided, to them anyway, conversation with mixed feelings of amusement, curiosity and confusion. They watched as Owen sighed and finally turned back to Tosh, who was still waiting for an answer.
"Okay…" he said, scratching the back of his head, then moving down to Helbreda's ears, "A daemon is like part of your soul. That's why the bond between daemon-bound people and their daemons is so close," Owen shrugged, looking slightly embarrassed, "You wouldn't want just anyone walkin' up and pattin' your soul, now would you?"
Tosh nodded, accepting the explanation. Owen glanced around at the rest of Torchwood Three. They seemed to be fairly accepting of this... them... his daemon. Jack was grinning at him. Owen belatedly realised that he was still nuzzling Helbreda's ears. Gwen still looked slightly confused. No change there. Ianto still looked guilty. Owen's mouth twisted a little.
He shifted off the table, "I'm bloody starving," he announced, seemingly apropos of nothing.
Ianto's head came up, "I'll go fetch us some dinner, shall I?" he asked, glad to be doing something once again, "Chinese alright with everyone?"
As everyone else was talking to Ianto, giving their orders, and the Welshman was grabbing his coat and trying to remember it all at the same time, Owen turned his head and met Jack's eyes. Jack quirked his mouth at him and gave him a small nod. Owen shrugged and nodded back. The teaboy felt guilty. If keeping himself busy helped Ianto get over that, then who was he to stop him?
The team was sitting around the only table big enough to hold all of them in the Hub when Ianto came back with the Chinese. The Welshman moved around the table, handing out everyone's orders, before finally sitting down in the last available seat, between Tosh and Jack. The team ate relatively quietly for a while, the only sounds the occasional request to pass the chilli sauce or the prawn crackers. Then, without warning, but with a musing look on her face, Gwen turned to Owen.
"So... what would my daemon be then?"
Owen almost spat out his food when Helbreda whispered in his ear, "A sheep. Bloody sheepshaggers, the Welsh are... whole bloody lot of them!"
"Shh..." he hissed at her, before turning back to Gwen, "How am I supposed to know?"
Gwen looked a little confused at his half-conversation, but answered anyway, "Well, I just thought... since, you know..." she trailed off.
"Changed my mind..." Helbreda went on in his ear, "Chicken daemon, definitely. Like from the movie 'Chicken Run'? Remember?" Owen couldn't hold back the snort of laughter as Helbreda continued, "You know the one, 'Oh... me whole life flashed before me eyes... an' it were really borin'...'"
Gwen looked even more confused as Owen suddenly snorted with laughter, "Owen?"
Owen waved a hand at her, "Sorry, sorry..." he was obviously still trying not to laugh.
Jack raised an eyebrow at the one-sided conversation, wishing quite suddenly, and with an almost overwhelming ache of sadness, that he too was daemon-bound. Sure, it would've complicated things a little, given him a few new ways to die, but at least he wouldn't have to go through this horribly long life completely alone. He was brought out of his musing by another snicker from Owen. He tilted his head slightly. Honestly, how could he have not seen it before? He stayed quiet and watched the half conversation between Owen and his daemon confuse the hell out of the rest of his team.
Tosh raised an eyebrow at Owen, "Actually, I'd be quite curious to find out what kind of daemon I'd have..."
Owen glanced down at Helbreda and sighed, "We aren't going to get out of this are we?" when he received a round of headshakes, he continued, "Right, is there anyone who doesn't want to know?" receiving no answer he nodded, lips twitching, "Right then, Gwen, I'm sorry, but we'll have to come back to you."
Gwen pouted at that, looking suspiciously at Owen and Helbreda and wondering exactly what had gone on between the two to make them laugh at the thought of giving her a daemon. Then she stopped, frowning at herself as she realised that she had just been glaring at, and housing suspicions of, a ferret. She settled back into her chair as she watched Owen glance down at the little creature that had wound its way around his neck and up under his chin, darting black eyes looking around intelligently.
Helbreda looked directly at Tosh, making her squirm under the scrutiny, "Her. We'll do her first."
Owen glanced at where Helbreda was looking, "Her name is Tosh. Toshiko Sato. As well you know."
"So, sue me," Helbreda's head dipped down over Owen's shoulder, "A big cat maybe?"
"For Tosh? Nah... my dad had a leopard... trust me, Tosh has balls, but she doesn't have the toss-faced arrogance to pull off a big cat," Owen shook his head, "Maybe a bird?"
"That covers a lot, Owen. What kind? Not an eagle or a hawk. An owl? She seems the type..."
Owen nodded, "Yep. I reckon that's it, Helly..." he turned to Tosh, "We think your daemon would be an owl, a snowy owl, most likely."
The team blinked as Owen carried on half a conversation with the ferret on his shoulder and, without meaning to, it seemed, revealed more about his childhood than he ever had previously. A leopard daemon and an arrogant tosser of a father? Each and every member of the team filed that piece of information away for further use. Jack, Gwen and Ianto carried on watching Owen, each trying to work out their own daemons before the medic could do it for them. Tosh dipped her head as she heard her daemon being called. An owl.
As Tosh smiled and settled back in her chair to think on that, Owen and his daemon turned to Ianto, "Easy..." Helbreda murmured in his ear.
"I know," Owen returned, "Teaboy has beaver written all over him."
"Beaver?" Ianto asked incredulously.
Owen nodded, "Course... Slightly obsessive compulsive about order and cleanliness," he grinned at Ianto's bland look, "Quiet and unassuming," the grin faded a little, "Always around to hold back the floods."
Ianto looked a little taken aback at that, stunned into silence by the unexpected praise, prompting Jack to cut in teasingly, "Why Owen, I didn't know you cared…"
Owen cleared his throat and moved onto Jack, murmuring softly to Helbreda, "Not quite so easy..."
Helbreda muttered in his ear, "'Always around to hold back the floods…' You are such a bloody sap…"
Jack raised an eyebrow as a slight blush coloured Owen's cheeks and the medic shot a glare at Helbreda's furred nose, "Oh hush it and tell the Captain what his bloody daemon is!"
Helbreda swapped shoulders to get a better look at Jack, "He expects something regal and dignified..."
Owen snorted and they spoke as one, "Not bloody likely!"
They both sat and contemplated Jack for a moment, "Dog..." Owen said suddenly.
"Terrier..." Helbreda picked up his train of thought.
Owen nodded, "Cairn Terrier," he said decisively, feeling Helbreda nod against his neck.
Jack's eyebrows went up close to his hairline, "Cairn Terrier?" he clarified, "Not… I dunno… Yorkshire Terrier? Or Airedale Terrier? Definitely Cairn Terrier?"
Owen nodded slowly, a little confused by Jack's line of questioning, "One of those weird little ones that humps everything that moves..." Helbreda muttered in his ear.
Jack grinned, not his normal wide smile, but a soft nostalgic one, "I had one of those. It followed me everywhere. Ruthie, her name was. In the Second World War."
Helbreda looked at Jack for a moment, murmuring in Owen's ear, "There is a man who should have been born as we were," she said, uncharacteristically serious, before her voice lilted back up into its normal playful tones, "We still have one more. Constable Sheepshagger."
Owen snickered again, covering it with a hand, "Okay... that leaves PC Cooper."
"I still think chicken," Helbreda murmured, "Babs the Chicken... 'I don't want to be a pie... I don't like gravy...'"
"Helly!" Owen shushed her, trying not to crack up laughing yet again, "What about a butterfly?"
"A butterfly!" Gwen squawked indignantly.
"Or not..." they spoke as one.
Daemon and daemon-bound mused thoughtfully for a while, "Something earthy," Helbreda said after a while, "Although, I still dare you to say chicken."
"A hare?" Owen asked, ignoring the chicken comment.
Helbreda tilted her head at Gwen, "That works."
"A hare daemon for PC Cooper, then," Owen nodded to her.
Leaving the team to ponder their potential daemons, Owen carried on eating, occasionally lifting a piece of plum pork up to Helbreda, who would eat it daintily and carefully lick her whiskers clean. It was such an odd thing for the team to watch, yet, somehow, so completely normal. Owen, in a gesture of chivalry that would never have passed over into his dealings with human females, held the last piece of plum pork up to his daemon. He waited until she'd finished eating and slowly wound her way down his arms and into his jacket pocket before standing up.
"Well, it's been grand, but after today... I want some sleep," he scooped up his kit and his car keys, pressed a hand over his jacket pocket, feeling for Helbreda, and headed for the door.
"Back in work tomorrow, though, Owen," Jack called out to him, "Bring the ferret."
Pulling into the tourist bureau's carpark the next morning, Owen snorted, "'Bring the ferret', he says," he looked down at Helbreda, curled around the gearstick, "Not like I have a choice now, is it Helly?"
"Not really," Helbreda lifted her head, baring her teeth at him in a yawn, "I would've stayed asleep otherwise."
Reflex had him holding out a hand so that Helbreda could climb delicately onto his palm then up into the crook of his elbow and into his jacket pocket. He climbed out of the car and wandered into the tourist bureau. He gave Ianto a smile, same as he had the day before. Ianto looked down at Owen's jacket pocket then back up at Owen, raising one eyebrow. Owen smiled wryly, glanced around the empty tourist bureau and nudged the pocket, holding one hand against it and giving a crooked smile as Helbreda climbed up his arm and wound around his neck. Ianto smiled back at him and handed him a mug of coffee as he walked through into the Hub.