Title: Tomorrow will be better, I swear!

Author: Asrai

Rating: R

Spoilers: Up to and including Cyberwoman.

Pairings: You really don't want to know. Trust me.

Summary: A happier ending to Cyberwoman.

Warnings: May contain traces of crack.

Author's Note: Um. Sorry?

- 1 -

When the team finally makes its way down into the Hub, and, finding nothing, moves to the lower level ever so carefully with Jack leading the way to where the Cyber Conversion Unit is located, the silence is deafening. There is no sound except the soft, steady dripping of water, and absolutely nothing behind the closed doors where Ianto has been keeping Lisa for all those months.

They advance in one line, guns drawn and cocked, and it's Owen who kicks the double doors open with one foot, revealing the room behind it.

Jack doesn't know what he's been expecting to find: Ianto half-cyberised corpse maybe, killed by his insane girlfriend in her desire to upgrade them both. Or Ianto threatening her at gunpoint, dithering whether to shoot or not – although, really, Jack has assumed right from the moment when he's given the other man that ultimatum that Ianto would never be able to actually pull the trigger. Another option he's come up with involves Ianto weeping over her corpse, maybe killed by the pterodactyl after all, refusing to let go, needing to be tranquilised, etc.

The absolutely last thing he thought he'd see is Ianto standing before the Conversion Unit, a broom in one hand and a bucket in the other.

Lisa's obviously lifeless body is lying in a dark corner of the room, as if pushed aside absent-mindedly and then immediately forgotten.

"Ianto?" he asks sharply, not lowering his gun by an inch, "What the hell is going on here?"

The other man turns around, mild surprise on his face. "I thought that would be obvious, sir. The Unit needs dismantling but I think a rudimentary cleaning is in order first. All that blood, you understand."

"The fuck?" Owen mutters and Gwen takes a tentative step further into the room.

"What about... Lisa?" she asks, her voice cracking with nerves and barely suppressed fear.

Ianto spares a quick glance for the corpse and then shrugs. "She's dead. That's what you wanted me to do, remember? To execute her."

"Yes, but..."

"If you'll excuse me now, I have rather a lot of cleaning to do. The Hub's a mess as well, I'll get to it as soon possible."

Sometime during the last five minutes, Jack decides, something must have gone tits up quite thoroughly, but for the life – or death, come to think of it – of him he can't figure out where.

- 2 -

Tosh comes into the tourist office, carefully carrying a tray with five paper cups of coffee on it.

Ianto is sitting at his desk, rapidly typing away on his keyboard, his face as impassive as ever and tie firmly in place.

"I got you a coffee," she says as gently as she can, setting down a cup in front of him. "Nobody ever gets you a coffee."

Ianto doesn't seem to react. In fact, his eyes barely leave the screen to acknowledge her presence.

Mustering all of her courage Tosh asks, "Are you doing anything nice, this weekend?"

Rising abruptly, her colleague can't seem to suppress a mild smile as he presses the button to open the door to the Hub. "Nothing special, just some quiet days in with... Well, just some quiet days in. Go on through."

Slightly creeped out, Tosh flees towards the lift, wondering if any man has the right to sound so cheerful one day after his mad mechanic girlfriend has been killed by his own hands.

- 3 -

"So, Owen," Jack says, "Let's get this over and done with, shall we? Anything unusual in your autopsy findings?"

Gwen leans back in her chair and closes her eyes for a moment, feeling exhausted already. To be fair, it's only Monday and the day has barely begun. Last night, however, involved Rhys stumbling home from the pub pissed off his face and then being violently sick all night. A meeting at 8 AM, discussing the aftermath of this whole Cybergirlfriend business is definitely not her idea of a good morning.

Jack had given her and Ianto the weekend off, virtually kicking them out of the Hub on Friday afternoon. Gwen had lingered on, not wanting the others to clean up this whole mess on their own. Ianto, on the other hand, had practically bolted from the office, foregoing his usual clean-up round and forgetting to power down his computer.

Understandable, really, considering he'd killed his girlfriend the day before.

"Not really," Owen is saying now and Gwen is studiously keeping her gaze fastened on the table, afraid of what would happen if she actually looked at the other man.

"Cause of death is not a hundred percent certain because her biology is – was – rather messed up and I'm no expert in Cybernetics. I'd say she died of the gunshot wounds but was already weakened by the pterodactyl trying to make a meal of her. Still, she's dead and it's the result that counts, right?"

"Anything else?"

"Actually, yes. Her brain was a mess – what was left of it anyway after -"

He falls abruptly silent as Ianto enters the room, carrying a tray with four cups. Gwen notices that Jack is looking distinctly unhappy all of a sudden. The early start of the meeting is now making sense to her: Jack wants to discuss this without Ianto's knowledge, either because he doesn't want to cause the other man even more unnecessary pain or because he doesn't trust him. The truth is that it's possibly a bit of both.

"- I disassembled her," Owen finishes defiantly, obviously refusing to let himself be intimidated by the sight of Ianto noiselessly placing cups in front of them.

"She seems to have undergone brain surgery at some point, possibly shortly before they cyberised her. Do you know anything about that – Ianto?"

Gwen gasps and sharply elbows Owen into his side, hissing, "Shut it, Owen."

Instead of a flinch and Ianto's eyes brimming with unshed tears – which, in her opinion, would be the normal reaction to Owen being the insensitive tosser he revels in being – what she gets is a steaming cup of coffee placed next to her with a perfectly steady hand and Ianto's face showing no emotion whatsoever.

"I beg your pardon, what are you discussing?" he asks politely.

"Your girlfriend. Well, ex-girlfriend now I suppose. Did somebody fuck with her brain before the Cybermen finished the job?"

"That's enough," Jack says sharply and then turns to Ianto who's still standing next to the table, motionless. "Sorry, Ianto, I didn't think it necessary to call you in for this..."

"It's quite all right, sir," Ianto says calmly, picking up his tray, "And no, not that I'm aware of. However, I can retrieve her medical records if you require it."

And then he ghosts out of the room, completely unperturbed and Gwen is starting to ask herself whether this is Ianto's way of dealing with trauma, or whether he's in denial about the whole thing. She's witnessed that before, with crime victims who simply refused to accept what had happened and carried on as before, as cool and collected as you please until they inevitably broke down in the end.

Tosh clears her throat awkwardly. "I've double-checked the system and it's up and running again. However all data on the system from that day has been lost, including our internal CCTV footage. I suppose this is due to the multiple power cuts and ran a couple of tests..."

- 4 -

Five days later and Gwen can't shake the feeling that not all is right with the world. The nervous breakdown she's been expecting from Ianto for the past week hasn't manifested itself so far; in fact he's been more cheerful than ever.

Take today, for instance: Having announced earlier that although all computer systems are up and running again, some electrical circuits may have taken some damage last week, Ianto then proceeded to take off his suit jacket, loosen his tie and start to open up control panels all over the Hub like a hyperactive Duracell bunny on speed. He's been happily puttering away ever since, connecting cables, running simulations on a laptop and fiddling around with a dizzying array of screwdrivers and spanners. Gwen passes him by intentionally a few times and by now she's read to swear under oath that Ianto is humming as he works.

Humming.

Maybe she should make a discreet suggestion to Owen about running a psych evaluation on Ianto, although that would involve actually talking to Owen and that's a different can of worms altogether.

"Girls, I'm off to the pub. Anyone fancy a pint?" Owen asks, coming up the stairs from the autopsy bay and shrugging off his lab coat. Gwen throws a quick look at Tosh and sees the other woman nodding. In that case there's surely no harm in having a drink with a couple of mates from work, is there? It'll all be perfectly innocent if she can get the other woman to sit between Owen and herself.

In fact, two people sitting between Owen and her might be better, just to keep it on the safe side.

"Ianto?" she calls out and the man in question raises his head from the readings he's been studying and looks enquiringly at her. "We're going for a drink and I was just wondering whether you'd like to join us? Kind of an early start into the weekend."

And if Owen is looking a bit ticked off at her for inviting Ianto to come along, all the better.

"Thanks," Ianto says and smiles. "But I've already got plans. Another time perhaps?"

Gwen shrugs and then joins Tosh and Owen on their way out. Oh yes, there is very definitely something wrong with Ianto – first cheerfulness, then humming and now smiling, for goodness' sake, but she's buggered if she knows what. In any other person she'd probably call it happiness.

- 5 -

It's a particularly slow morning at work, and Owen notices this as soon as the pounding hangover he's worked so hard to obtain last night abates, leaving him light-headed and slightly queasy in the process. He doesn't remember why he'd thought it that it would be a good idea to empty half a bottle of Scotch by himself while having a bit of a porn-watching marathon. In any case, he vows to never repeat the experience again, especially since he woke up this morning and noticed that the DVD still playing on his tv was entitled Manhammer 6! and involved twenty men with piercings in interesting places as well as the occasional midget.

Therefore Owen is quite happy to snooze with open eyes while staring blankly at the computer screen and keeping his fingers hovering over the keyboard. Tosh keeps on shooting him half-amused, half-exasperated glances and this pisses him off enough to head down to the autopsy bay before Jack catches on that his valued second-in-command is doing fuck-all on company time.

Sadly, the autopsy bay isn't any more interesting than the screensaver on his computer and Owen finally gives up and decides to go out and get a cup of coffee. Normally he'd just needle Ianto into making him some – it's his job, after all – but ever since the revelation that Ianto's last relationship was fraught with issues such as his girlfriend being a murdering Cyberwoman he's become a bit wary of the other man. Owen wouldn't put it past Ianto to poison them all while serving the afternoon tea, and anyway, the fresh air will probably do him good.

Taking his coat, he sneaks out of the revolving door before Jack or Tosh can ask him where he's going, and Gwen doesn't care. These days Gwen blushes whenever she's talking to him and this has cut down conversation between them to a minimum, something that Owen doesn't mind all that much. For all of her assets, Gwen Cooper can be a royal pain in the arse, though he does wonder whrther she'd shut up in bed given the right incentive or whether she'd spectacularly good at talking dirty.

Owen enters the tourist office and hopes that Ianto will be off doing... something, somewhere else, but he has no such luck: Ianto is sitting in front of his computer, looking up at a woman his age leaning against the counter. Both of them have wide smiles on their faces and they're casting adoring glances at each other that are sweet enough to make Owen want to hurl. He clears his throat, loudly, and the girl rights herself up abruptly and crams her hands in the pockets of her jeans. She's pretty, Owen notices that of course, with messy blonde hair spilling out under a woolly hat and jeans riding low on her hips. Not usually his own type, but definitely Ianto's, judging by how put out Ianto looks at the interruption.

"Owen," he says politely. "Did you need something?"

"Nah, thanks, I'm just going out for a bit. If Jack asks, tell him I'll be back in twenty minutes."

"Will do," Ianto says distractedly, his attention already back on the woman in front of him.

Owen slams the door shut behind him a bit harder than necessary on his way out and suppresses the completely irrational urge to go back inside and throttle the other man.

- 6 -

Toshiko can't help it, she really can't, and anyway, it's not snooping if you weren't looking for it in the first place, right? However, a routine file sweep on the system leads to her idly flicking through the CCTV recordings within the Hub from the past week and it's sheer luck – or spectacularly bad luck, depending on your point of view – that she stumbles over a clip of Ianto locked in a rather passionate embrace with a woman in the small room behind the tourist office.

Tosh lets out a small squeak and sits up straight while inching forward in her seat until her nose nearly touches the computer screen. It is Ianto she's seeing, no doubt about it, and she watches in horrified fascination as her ever-so prim and proper coworker grabs his partner's behind and almost slams her against the wall, all the while never breaking a heated kiss probably involving a lot of tongue, although that's not clearly visible from the angle of the camera. Tosh shuts the video window as Ianto starts taking his shirt off and nearly strangles himself on his tie in the process. Then she simply sits very, very still for a couple of moments until Gwen walks into the Hub and drops into the seat next to her.

"Heya, how are you?" the other woman asks in blissful oblivion and Tosh can't help a slightly hysterical giggle forcing its way out of her mouth.

"Fine," she gasps. "Just fine."

Gwen throws her a puzzled look and shrugs as no more information on Tosh's side seems to be forthcoming.

Tosh, for her part, is still caught up in the image of Ianto getting laid while ostensibly being at work, and damn it, this is not fair. Then it occurs to her that Ianto's killed his girlfriend just a month ago, and Tosh doesn't recall the five stages of grief involving shagging your brains out.

Tosh saves the file, tagging it neatly under 'Anomalies, non-technical' and 'Staff Issues' before clearing her throat and turning to Gwen.

"So," she says slowly. "Did you know that Ianto has a girlfriend?"

- 7 -

"Maybe we should inform Jack," Gwen says a week later after Ianto has served them Chinese take-away with his tie askew, his hair mussed and a decidedly blissful smile on his face. Obviously Owen hasn't noticed anything amiss, and Jack seems to be a bit preoccupied these days, but both Toshiko and Gwen have become rapidly obsessed with Ianto and the mysterious woman that's the cause for his abnormally sunny disposition these days.

Toshiko's done some research, all in the name of security obviously, and found out that Ianto's girlfriend's name is Annie Wilkins, that she's a Sociology student in her final year and that she works at Jubilee's pizza as a delivery girl. She has family in Brighton, four housemates who annoy her to death and over 200 friends on Facebook, although she should really change that rather unflattering profile picture and her status that she hasn't updated in a month.

From close observation Toshiko – and Gwen, who's insisted on watching the videos herself – knows that Annie Wilkins seems to love hats in all shapes and sizes. She also gives fabulous blowjobs, judging by Ianto's ecstatic face very time she gets down on her knees. So far Tosh has kept herself from enabling the sound recording option in the CCTV equipment, but she knows that it's only a matter of time until her curiosity – Toshiko prefers the term 'investigative zeal' – wins out unless something isn't done about this soon.

Telling Jack, however, is taking things a bit far in her opinion.

"And what would you tell him?" Tosh asks. "Ianto's entitled to his private life."

"But he's shagging his girlfriend right in the Hub!" Gwen hisses and Tosh thinks that she'd do the same with Owen, given half the chance. "And he's gone insane! That Cyberwoman, he went nuts over her and now he's forgotten all about her apparently!"

"Maybe he's on the rebound," Toshiko offers reasonably.

"Tosh!" Gwen gives her that earnest, pleading look that usually works wonders on Jack whenever Gwen wants an afternoon off or to negotiate with that alien life form which has been murdering kittens and puppies all over the Bay area recently.

"Look, I just think we should give it a bit more time -" Tosh starts and flinches as a large hand comes to rest on her shoulder.

"Give what a bit more time?" Jack asks in a seemingly friendly tone and Gwen bites her lip, shrugging at Tosh as if apologising to her. Tosh turns around and squares her shoulders as she begins to tell her boss about file sweeps and the usefulness of CCTV and the relevancy of the love life of Torchwood employees to their performance while on duty. Jack's expression remains one of studied neutrality throughout the entire time, but a flickering in his eyes confirms what Tosh suspects.

They're all busted, the lot of them.

- 8 -

"You wanted to see me, sir?" Ianto asks as he enters Jack's office.

Jack nods and gestures towards the chair in front of his desk, but Ianto shakes his head. Shrugging, Jack observes the younger man for a few moments while gathering his thoughts. Ianto looks impeccable, as always: His charcoal suit contrasts nicely with the pale blue shirt and tie he's wearing, and his face is clean-shaven and impassive. Were it not for the light bruises peeking out from underneath his shirt collar you could think that Ianto was the picture perfect example of a Torchwood One employee, efficient and competent, but also somewhat of an emotional void.

"Sir?" Ianto's voice interrupts his musings and Jack clears his throat, still not quite sure how to broach the subject. He's always preferred a hands-on approach concerning his coworkers and colleagues and in some cases that had been taken literally. But Ianto's different, somehow, because one of the reasons Jack accepted him into Torchwood Three in the first place is that his arse looks fantastic in a suit. Despite that fact Jack hasn't actually had a taste of his delectable behind yet, and he's buried all hope of that ever happening after he'd had their pet pterodactyl make a meal out of Ianto's girlfriend. It's his job as boss to make sure that his employees' private lives don't affect endanger security, Jack reminds himself sternly, but he can't quite shake the feeling that he's going to sound like a scorned potential lover during the following conversation, and not at all like the aloof leader concerned for Ianto's welfare and mental well-being.

"How are you, Ianto?" he asks finally. As beginnings to potentially awkward conversations go, it's not the most suave one in the book, but it'll hopefully get the other man talking.

"I'm fine, sir."

Or not.

"Everything all right at work?"

"Things couldn't be better."

"And what about life outside work?"

Ianto's lips quirk up in a small smile as he crosses his hands behind his back. "Things are fine," he says and Jack knows that Ianto knows exactly what he's aiming at here but simply enjoys playing with him. Bastard.

"Look, I know you've got a girlfriend," Jack takes the plunge into conversational uncertainty and cringes at the sound of the word 'girlfriend'. "And I'm happy for you," he continues doggedly. "But taking all things into consideration, wouldn't you say that your behaviour in the last month constitutes somewhat of an anomaly?"

"An anomaly, Sir?" Ianto raises an eyebrow and musters him with polite disinterest.

"An anomaly," Jack repeats firmly. "Six weeks ago your girlfriend was killed in this very Hub. You could say that the circumstances surrounding her demise were traumatic. Yet here you hare, happily moving on with the girl delivering your large pizza Margherita every other Tuesday?"

"I don't quite see how any of this pertains to my performance at work." Ianto seems completely unfazed and Jack can't make up his mind whether he'd like to hit or to kiss the younger man. Nevertheless, he finds the whole exchange disturbingly hot, and rises abruptly from his chair to look out over an empty Hub. Tosh, Gwen and Owen left hours ago and the fleeting though crosses Jack's mind that anything could happen. Not that it will, of course, what with Ianto being ostensibly straight and this century's silly notions of monogamy -

A warm breath ghosts over his neck and Jack flinches violently just as Ianto gently bites down on the soft flesh connecting his neck to his shoulder.

"What the hell -" Jack gasps out as Ianto's hand sneaks around his waist and cups his rapidly hardening cock through his trousers.

"Sssh," Ianto shushes him and Jack can feel him smile against his skin. "We wouldn't want to disturb the pterodactyl."

"Ianto?" Jack asks in a tone that's about two octaves higher than his normal voice. His entire world has suddenly gone topsy-turvy, and he knows that he shouldn't be doing this. Although in all fairness, he's not doing anything here: It's Ianto who turns him around and kisses him fiercely on the mouth, their teeth clacking together almost painfully. It's Ianto who makes short work of his braces and belt. As the younger man gets down on his knees in front of Jack, his intent more than obvious, Jack can't do anything but close his eyes and moan.

Now these are office politics he could get used to, he thinks, and then all thoughts of girlfriends and really bad ideas are swept away by Ianto's incredibly talented mouth and the feeling of his long fingers digging possessively into Jack's hips.

- 9 -

It's yet another Friday night, and although the concept of weekends doesn't really apply when you're working for a super-secret alien-hunting organisation, Owen celebrates the weekday by doing exactly what all the other amazingly boring people in the pub are doing: He's on his merry way to getting well and truly plastered. Squinting at his half-empty pint of Guinness, Owen is sure that the original plan for the evening included pulling a hot chick for some stress-relieving action, but at the moment he's got trouble remembering his own name. He's reasonably sure that his conversational skills might not quite be up to scratch under the given circumstances, among other things.

The stout still flows smoothly down his throat, though, and somehow that makes it all better. Slamming down the glass on the counter in front of him, Owen's about to slur out an order for another pint when he notices the woman standing next to him. She's waiting to be served, twirling a strand of long blonde hair around her fingers. She's hot, Owen notes, in a geeky sort of way, wearing tight jeans, a faded tee shirt and a black hat despite the fact that it's boiling in the pub at this advanced hour of the night.

"Hang on a second," Owen says. "I know you!"

The woman throws him an amused glance.

"Is that the best you can come up with?"

"No, seriously," he insists. "You're that bird who delivers our pizza and you shag Ianto in the tourist office during his lunch break."

Owen's quite sure that he wasn't supposed to say that because he's not supposed to know about Ianto's little romance in the first place, but what the hell: He's drunk and as pick-up lines go, it's by far not his worst one.

"Ah," the woman says. "You're the guy who always order extra cheese, right? Nice to meet you, Torchwood."

"Actually, my name's Owen," he says stupidly. She's still talking to him, that's a good sign, and surely if she's shagging Ianto on a regular basis then she wouldn't turn him down? He's better-looking, after all, not to mention a hell of a better lay. Not that he's speaking from personal experience here, but in Owen's mind Ianto has always been beautifully asexual.

"Nice to meet you, Owen," the woman replies without a hint of irony. "My name's Lisa."

"So, Lisa," Owen says, pleased by the fact that he may not be too drunk to do this after all. "What's a girl like you doing in a place like this?"

Lisa leans against the bar and her belly button peeks out from underneath her shirt. Owen wants to lick it. "Well," she says. "I do believe this is a drinking establishment. Where else is a girl supposed to be on a Friday night?"

Oh, this definitely has promise. Owen can practically feel the excitement slushing through his veins alongside the eight pints of Guinness currently clouding his judgement. Licking his lips, he's casting about for a witty repartee when a horrifyingly familiar voice behind him says, "Oh, you are kidding me."

Turning around is not a good idea, as the world promptly starts tilting on its axis and Owen nearly falls off his bar stool. He heroically manages to cling on to verticality, although the sight of Ianto Jones wearing a pale pink shirt with the top three buttons undone might in fact have been more pleasant from a vantage point on the floor.

"Owen," Ianto nods at him and then turns to Lisa. "Please tell me you're not serious."

"A bet's a bet, Ianto," Lisa says, and it's positively obscene how her lips wrap themselves around his coworker's stupid Welsh name, seemingly caressing every single letter. "And you lost. I get a threesome with someone of my own choosing."

"But why him?" There's a definite whine swinging in Ianto's voice, although Owen can't be quite sure because a rather large part of his brain just spazzed out at the mentioning of the sacred word of 'threesome'.

"Because it's fun watching you sleep with your entire team?"

"It was just the once! You said you were okay with it!"

"I am!" Lisa assures him. "This has nothing to do with it. You lost a bet, and you know that I enjoy making you squirm. It's time to pay up, dear."

Ianto stares at both of them for a few more seconds, waving away the bartender who obviously wants him to order something or to piss off and make room for paying customers.

"Fine," he finally says, a bit sulkily. "But I'm not bottoming for him. And no toys, either. Last time I couldn't sit down for two days."

"Deal," Lisa complies immediately and grasps Owen's hand which is still holding his empty pint as if it were the only remaining link to sanity. It probably is, too, Owen thinks fuzzily as Lisa says, "Come on, then."

Ianto's preceding them out of the pub and Owen has not choice but to stumble along behind Lisa, her hand still firmly clutching his. Something's wrong here. Owen wants to pull back and sober up, to demand what the fuck is going on. However, voicing these rather complex thought processes is simply beyond his Guinness-flooded brain right now. It's all he can do to gasp out a confused, "What?" as Lisa tugs him into a waiting taxi and slams the door shut behind them.

- 10 -

Owen wakes up, although that might be a too optimistic description for him shifting his head too inches to the right so his nose isn't squashed by the pillow. He dimly realises that any further movement might result in copious amounts of projectile vomiting and clenches his eyes shut more tightly. Owen remembers the previous night in bright flashes of light and bursts of noise, and he also recalls wildly exceeding his recommended daily allowance of alcoholic units for safe drinking, but there are still a few things that seem to be off about this whole situation. He's not in his own bed, for one, and Owen never, ever stays the night. Two, his arse his sore and throbbing, and although Owen doesn't mind the occasional slap and tickle with a bloke, he's not in the habit of letting them fuck him – oh. Oh, shit.

He got his cherry picked last night, so to speak, and by none other -

"All I'm saying is that I've got to be at work in half an hour," a male voice whispers next to him.

- Ianto bloody Jones.

Suddenly Owen is glad for the hangover and the accompanying excruciating pain, because he's pretty sure that he'd slit his wrists on the spot otherwise. Doing so, however, would require opening his eyes and facing reality, and Owen prefers hovering in hazy self-delusion for a few more minutes longer. Maybe this is all a dream, or rather a nightmare, like the ones in which he gets married to Gwen with Jack giving the bride away and them having lots and lots of babies who all look exactly like Gwen's moronic boyfriend.

"Oh, shush, you can afford to be late for once," a woman whispers back.

Owen's sluggish mind provides him with the information that this is Lisa, Ianto's girlfriend who's creepily enthusiastic when it comes to watching her boyfriend fuck another man. Huh.

"Yes, but what about Owen?"

"What about him? I'll make him a nice cup of tea when he wakes up and send him on his merry way."

"Are you insane?" Ianto hisses and Owen realises that the two of them must still be in bed with him. They're probably all snuggled up together or something equally nauseatingly romantic. "You've told him your real name. Once he sobers up, all hell will break loose."

"Then maybe it's time to blow this joint," Lisa suggests, attempting an American accent and failing.

"I've told you, I need more time to prepare -"

"You've been saying that for the last two weeks! How long can it take to delete your file from the system?"

"It's more complicated than that, and you know it."

"There's another solution. We could get new bodies, new identities. We could upgrade together!"

"No!" Ianto sounds adamant in his refusal and Owen knows that he should care about their conversation. They're discussing something important or other, he's sure. As things stand, he's busy focusing on himself and thinking happy thoughts of being sober.

"But I'm sick of this body!" Lisa complains. "Look at me, I'm all pale and... jaundiced!"

"To me you're beautiful," Ianto says quietly and sounding like he means it, the git.

"You just say that because dear Annie Wilkins somehow missed out on having a gag reflex," Lisa shoots back without missing a beat. "So far it's all been for your benefit. I think we should at least swap. See how you like being a girl for once."

A drawn-out groan is Ianto's only reply an then there's the rustling of sheets and the unmistakable sounds of two people kissing. Really, this is too much and Owen's stomach is heaving now. He curls up into a ball and moans softly, if only to interrupt Ianto and Lisa in whatever lovey-dovey activity they're engaged in and to draw their attention to him, because he's dying here, damnit, expiring in a mixture of alcohol poisoning and mortification.

"Ah," Lisa says with a sight. "Don't start what you can't finish. You've got to be at work in half an hour, remember?"

The bed dips as someone's getting up, and Ianto mutters, "Bitch."

"But I'm your bitch!" Lisa calls out from another room and a minute later Owen can feel her looming over him.

"Owen," she says. "Come on, rise and shine."

He reluctantly cracks one eye open and sees her holding out a glass of water and two white pills. She's also naked and Owen's entire focus is immediately diverted to her gently swinging breasts as she presses the glass of water into his hands.

"You need to take these," she says and Owen promptly makes a grab towards her breasts, his one-track mind kicking into full gear now despite the shagfest last night. Lisa slaps his hands away with a shake of her head. "None of that now. Instead you'll get to test an issue that's been bugging me for years: Do you still have a headache if you forget that you've got one in the first place?"

"What?" Owen asks, puzzled by this entire development. Lisa takes the opportunity to push the pills into his mouth and he swallows obediently, forgetting about the water in his hands. Just before he falls asleep again, Lisa leans over him, smoothing back his hair. Owen can see that there's a thick, pink scar running across her forehead. This is important, he thinks, but for the life of him he can't remember why.

- 11 -

Gwen's idly scanning the latest police reports while pretending not to observe Owen out of the corner of her eyes. He's been rather twitchy for the last few days, working late and snapping at everyone crossing his path. She tried talking to him yesterday, just to offer a sympathetic ear in case he needs someone to talk to, but Owen didn't even seem to hear her properly, staring fixedly at the wall behind her instead. Gwen's a little bit worried because his behaviour is starting to resemble Jack's. Out of all her male coworker's it's only Ianto who still seems to possess a smidgen of sanity.

Speaking of Ianto...

"Has anyone seen Ianto today?" Jack calls from his office.

Owen jumps in his seat, startled, but then only grunts in response. Tosh shakes her head and Gwen says, "No, I haven't. Why?"

"He was supposed to be in an hour ago. Also, the coffee machine is gone. Was it broken or something?"

"Not that I know," Tosh offers.

"Maybe he went to get it spit-polished," Owen mutters viciously and then frowns in confusion.

"I'll give him a ring, see where he is," Gwen says. She gives the latest police report a cursory glance – an unidentified man and woman with head injuries found dead in the Bay – and clicks the window closed before dialling Ianto's number and pressing the phone close to her ear.

THE END