Disclaimer: Not mine.
Chapter 4 – Flatwarming: She found a place about two weeks after that conversation. It was a loft, actually, maybe a bit big for one person, but she liked it. It was also closer to the Hub than her old place, which was good, considering her current duties. That was coming along too – the team was coming along. At first, they'd been running around like chickens without heads – something she'd actually seen, as she had an uncle who owned a farm. Not the most enjoyable of mental images, but an accurate one. But they were getting better. If Jack ever came back, she thought, he'd be impressed at how the team was forming a cohesive unit.
Which begged the question of command. If Jack came back, would he just swan in and take over again? Didn't she want that? Well, in some ways yes, and in others no. Having Jack around was... well... OK. She'd been entranced by him from the first time she'd laid eyes on him, and with him gone, she could admit it. If she was the poetic sort, she'd say he was the flame to her moth or some such thing. The sentiment was true, if more than a little cliched. And that aside, he was better at his job than she was at his job. But did they need a leader who would just disappear at random times? A leader who kept them in the dark? But then again, didn't they need a leader who cared about them, who would risk everything for them? Who would die for them? But she could be that. The only difference would be that if she died, there was no coming back. But if it came to that, it came to that.
"Something on your mind, PC Cooper?" Owen was holding out a report. "I figured I'd get it to you before you went off on me."
"Oh, thanks, Owen," she said, taking the paper from him.
"So, Gwen, what's up with you? Mooning over the teaboy?"
"What!" she yelped. He rolled his eyes and sat on the desk, fixing her with a piercing stare. When had Owen become the interrogating sort?
"Oh, come on, I may be oblivious part of the time – well, Tosh says so, I disagree – but I know you well enough, Cooper. You've got a thing for our teaboy, and he's got one for you. Now what will you two do if our Captain comes back?"
Gwen froze. A good question, that, and one she had refused to consider. What if Jack came back? Would the... whatever-it-was brewing between her and Ianto implode? She didn't know. She couldn't compete with Jack, she knew that much. Would she have to? "Owen..." He'd been her lover, once, but they'd never talked about this kind of thing before. Finally, unable to lie because she knew he'd see it, she told the truth. "I don't know. To be honest, Owen, I don't even know where Ianto and I are headed."
"Sweetheart, you and teaboy are headed for a nice warm spot between the sheets, the only question is if you're willing to add a third party." Gwen scowled.
"Very funny, Owen."
"Oh, I'm serious, Gwennie. Dead serious."
"Hmph. And don't call me Gwennie."
"All right, all right." He grinned. "But still, what are you going to do?"
"Who knows? Jack may never come back, so I'm not going to worry about it."
"Sure." And Owen sauntered off. Gwen scowled at his retreating back, irritated. What did Owen know anyway? She and Ianto were just friends. OK, even she didn't believe that. But he was with Jack. When Jack was around. Oh, this was just too much to deal with. It was exactly why she wanted to move out of Ianto's. So she could stop thinking like this.
Her new flat was nice in a lot of ways... except for the walls. They'd been painted in this awful yellow-green color in nearly the entire place. She had no clue who had come up with this color scheme, but she thought they must be crazy. Or colorblind. Or both.
So she decided she needed to paint the walls new colors. Unlike the previous owner, she not only liked decent colors, she did not want her whole apartment to be one color. Unfortunately, the flat was large, and would take forever to paint. And it would take a lot of paint.
Which was why she was to be found, one slow day in the Hub, looking at sale papers, trying to find a way to get a good deal on paint.
"What are you looking at, Cooper?" Owen asked.
"Trying to find paint on sale. You should see what the last person did with the walls of my new flat." She shuddered dramatically for emphasis. "It's bloody awful."
"Isn't that flat a bit large for you to paint alone?" Ianto asked.
"Well, it'll take a while, but I'll manage."
"We could help," Tosh suggested. "If you think you need it, of course."
"Well," Gwen laughed, "I wouldn't say no."
And so, that Saturday, the Torchwood team was to be found painting the walls of Gwen Cooper's flat. Owen had grumbled about it, but he'd just been doing it out of habit. Actually, he didn't really mind it. If nothing else, it gave him a chance to observe Gwen and Ianto for more proof of his theory. But when he tried to do so while Gwen and Ianto were in a different room, Tosh noticed.
"Owen, stop spying!"
"Oh, come on, Tosh, it's all in good fun."
"You just like to harass them."
"Sure I do. But if I wasn't, they'd think something was wrong."
"Yeah, I guess so." Tosh looked down at her paint can. She seemed to want to say something, but not know how to say it.
"Tosh? Everything all right?"
"Yeah, of course. It's just... d'you, maybe want to go for a drink sometime?"
"We do that all the time."
"No, just... you and me. As friends, I mean, I don't want to make it sound like... well... I just... You know what? Never mind."
She went back to painting. Owen looked at her, stunned. Surely Tosh didn't... fancy him? Guilt flared as he thought of how he treated her. And if she did like him... God, he must have hurt her. The question now was, did he like her? Diane's face flashed into his mind. Even if he did think of Tosh like that, could he risk going through that pain again? Looking at her now, he thought maybe he could. "Tosh? I'd like that."
Meanwhile, Gwen and Ianto worked in another room, chatting casually about work, the TV show EastEnders, which they both enjoyed and tried to see whenever they could, and other, random things.
"So that's really how you got hired? By helping Jack catch Myfanwy?" Gwen said skeptically.
"Yep," Ianto said lightly. "I distracted her with chocolate."
"Yes, you've never seen me do that at the Hub?"
"No. How'd I miss that?"
"I have no idea."
"Oi, lovebirds, we're ready for the joint project of the living room now," Owen called out. Ianto and Gwen rolled their eyes and went to meet Tosh and Owen. Denying Owen's lovebird comment would only make him say it more often, after all.
They actually worked peacefully for nearly an hour when Owen said, "I'm bored."
"So what do we do about that?" Tosh asked teasingly.
"This." And he flung paint at her. Tosh shrieked and flung some back, but, unfortunately for Ianto, Tosh's aim with a paintbrush was terrible. It hit him square in the chest.
"No problem, after all, you didn't start this!" And Ianto aimed for Owen, but Gwen got in the way. Next thing they knew, they were having a free-for-all paint fight that somehow turned into just a free-for-all when Owen grabbed Tosh to stop her from getting him and discovered she was ticklish. Then Ianto discovered Gwen was as well. Somehow, without either of them knowing how, Ianto wound up on top of Gwen, tickling her.
"Stop, stop!" she shrieked, thinking frantically of a way to make him stop. Then, once she had it, she did it. Fisting her hands in his hair, she pulled his face to hers and kissed him. Hard.
"Well, that's one type of flatwarming," Owen observed.
A/N: OK, this whole chapter was centered around the goal of getting them to have a paint fight. Don't ask, it came to me at work.