Summary: Living and dying all the time leaves a guy with some interesting war-stories. Owen/Jack friendship.
Rating: PG -- Maybe 13 for one instance of "the f-word" (it's OWEN, after all).
Disclaimer: Own nothing, turn no profit, please don't sue me. Seriously, blood and turnips come to mind.
Timeline: Shortly after "Last of the Time Lords" (DW) and "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang" (Torchwood)
Author's Note: Late-night conversations with friends can lead to some interesting ideas. Like "Where did the bullets go when Suzie and Owen shot Jack?" Which leads to crack!fic like this. Kameka, this one's for you, m'dear. Quack.
"He told his mother someday he'd be coming home.
The medals shine and the stars never end
But nobody counts on scars that never mend…"
-- "Train", The Clarks
"Owen, this really isn't necessary," Jack sighed as they waited for the films to develop. "I told you, there's no permanent damage."
"Jack, you were just tortured to death every day for a year. Even with your track-record, that's a lot of punishment. I just want to make sure everything's still running smoothly."
Jack shook his head. "Trust me, Owen, you don't want to look at those films. A full-body scan of me is not a pretty sight."
"I'm sure I've seen worse," Owen answered, staring at his computer screen. "Okay, all your blood-work came back clean."
"No surprise there."
"Well, better safe," Owen answered. "Don't need you dropping dead in the middle of an important mission, especially if something's been done to your ability to get back up again."
"Trust me, it's still working."
"Quite possibly, but we'll also want to rule out the possibility that you were somehow tampered with during your captivity."
Which was a valid enough concern that Jack did not protest for the rest of the insanely-detailed physical exam.
Then came the fun part: the full-body scans.
"What the fuck?" Owen demanded, staring at the slides of his head.
"It's the bullet from when Suzie shot me, and the ones from when you did," Jack provided. "Hell, why did you think I refused the MRI?"
Owen stared at him with wide eyes. "They're all still in there?"
Jack shrugged and gestured to the film in Owen's hand.
"How does that not impair your functionality?" the doctor demanded.
"It just doesn't." Jack shrugged. "Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe they aren't in an important part of the brain."
"Actually, looking at this, you should be paralyzed, unable to speak, and unable to breathe without mechanical assistance."
"What's this metal bit near your left orbit?"
He searched his memory. Unfortunately, where his many deaths were concerned, it was damn-near eidetic. "Stabbed in the eye back in, oh, I think… '23? Piece of the knife must have broken off when it scraped against the bone."
Owen made a face. "Does it hurt? I can remove it."
"And leave a scar? No thanks!"
The thought of a surgical scar made Jack wonder what it was about his "gift" that healed all fatal damage but left him to deal with his cuts and bruises the old-fashioned way. Hell, when Ianto had punched him in the face, it had taken over a week for that split lip to heal. Aggravating as hell.
Owen shook his head. "Okay, except for the bit of metal near the eye, these foreign objects are all the approximate size and shape of slugs, but there's one that isn't accounted for. Could be an implant."
Jack frowned at this thought, then it hit him. "Oh! Duh. Duel in '89."
Owen's jaw dropped. "You were in a gun-duel in 1989?"
Jack shook his head, scoffing. "Of course not. That would have been completely illegal! It was 1889." He smiled. "And, my God, was the guy we were fighting over gorgeous!"
Owen shook his head. "You are…"
"Yes?" Jack asked with a grin when Owen faltered.
"You know what, the English language doesn't have words for what you are."
"Give it another seventy years," Jack answered, laughing. "Well, sixty-eight, but who's counting?"
"Obviously, you are."
Owen shook his head again and laid aside the first film, picking up the ones concerning Jack's torso. He stared at it for a moment, then frowned at Jack.
"How do you get through airport security, exactly?"
"Actually, it's more about getting around it." Jack grinned. "Being with Torchwood helps. Okay, let's go."
"Well, let's start with the bullet lodged next to your heart, shall we?" Owen asked with a forced smile.
"That's a special one. The first time I died. Well, second, actually, but that's a long story. Fight on Ellis Island." He shook his head, grinning fondly. "You should have seen the look on that nurse's face when I woke up. Nice face to look at in general. We were together for… seven years, maybe eight before she died. She was a real sweetheart."
Owen shook his head, looking irritated. "And the bullet just beneath your left clavicle?"
"World War Two. That one wasn't fatal."
"And the one near your spinal cord?"
"World War Two. That one was fatal. And they couldn't remove it without risking paralysis. So, here I am really hoping that if it decides to migrate, it'll be a fatal event."
Owen cringed, but quickly composed himself. "And the one lodged in your right lung?"
"Bank robbery in the '70s. Wasn't even looking for trouble, that day, just went in to deposit my pay-check."
Owen sighed. "And the shrapnel in your left one?"
"Turned out the IRA was getting a little off-world help. I was sent in to break up the party. Had to throw myself on a hand-grenade to save my team."
"I see. And the spearhead?"
"It was a javelin. Don't ask." Jack shuddered. "Just, trust me, you don't want to know."
"Javelin, of course. My mistake." Owen inhaled deeply and continued.
World War One, the Anglo-Afghan War, a jealous husband, a jealous wife, India, Africa, the corner take-away… The list went on.
Finally, after accounting for the shrapnel in his right knee, Owen put down the last of the scans and asked, "And you've never had any of this removed because?"
"None of it's ever bothered me, and surgery's always a risk. For what that's worth in my case." Jack shrugged. "Besides, can you imagine the questions that would be raised?"
"I can," Owen admitted quietly. "'Cause I still have quite a few of my own."
"You want to know the sad part?" Jack asked quietly. "Those are just the injuries you can see. There were stabbings, poisonings, electrocutions, suffocation, starvation…" He stopped, not wanting to think about it himself, let alone subject the young doctor to all the rest.
Owen's expression turned momentarily horrified before he quickly composed himself and falling back on his professionalism. "Well, that damage would actually, eventually, heal itself, but all this? I just don't see how you can still be alive in this state."
"Alive's the only way I can be," Jack answered, shrugging. "I told you that you didn't want to do those scans on me."
"And you were right," Owen agreed. "But at least now I can give you a clean bill of health. Albeit a highly qualified one. I just don't understand how you're even walking around."
He smiled warmly. "Because a remarkable girl once loved me more than I deserved."
"If you say so," Owen answered, looking troubled.
"Try not to think about it too much," Jack advised. "It generally works for me."
"Thanks for the advice," Owen muttered.
"Would you like me to retcon you?" he offered.
"No. No, I want to think about this, figure out how it works, even."
"Fair enough," Jack agreed. "Buy you a drink? Hell, I can even tell you some stories that don't involve me dying at the end."
Owen smiled and nodded his acceptance of the offer. "All those stories? You didn't make it up, did you? Not one word?"
Jack laughed and shook his head. Slinging a companionable arm around Owen's shoulder, he confessed, "Actually, around you guys, I censored most of it for content."
Owen started at him in bald-faced shock for several quiet moments before announcing, "You are either truly sick or truly amazing. I'm not sure which."
Jack laughed, patting his arm. "Little of both, Owen. I'm a little of both…"