Notes: for Storms-Are-My-Nature, after her request for more 'Owen and Ianto snark'. But also for everyone who reviewed 'Obvious', because the response was incredible and made my day exactly 75% less crap.
Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood and I am not making any profit from this work.
That week had been...boring, to say the least. If the monitors hadn't been checked, tinkered with, and rechecked for accuracy, Jack would have said that the Rift had closed up and Cardiff would return to normalcy, if it had ever been there to start with.
Boredom, in tight quarters, breeds mischief, contempt and danger even more than familiarity.
And, thanks to Owen finally being out of new and fascinating aliens to cut up, and being stuck with the old frozen ones he hadn't quite finished from last time, the feud that had always, inexplicably, existed between Owen and Ianto sprung up again.
The simple fact was that Owen and Ianto got along in the oldest, truest, and most annoying ways of men who hadn't forgotten about being boys. They annoyed the hell out of each other, and wouldn't admit under torture to even remotely liking each other. They got their kicks out of winding each other up and winning verbal (or, occasionally, physical) battles and seemed to have even developed a complex points-scoring system that even Tosh couldn't figure out.
But that week, Ianto was winning by two and a half points (stupid system that it was) and Owen was livid about it.
So when Ianto had come into the Hub on Wednesday morning and seen the pyramid of used coffee cups that started at the pool at the bottom of the tower and rose a good six feet into the air, he wasn't best pleased.
But he didn't say anything. Just cleared it up.
Which pissed Owen off.
He found out about two hours later, though, when he had tried to continue the dissection of something green and unspeakably rank in odour, and found that, by some amazing coincidence, every single one of his scalpels was blunt.
Which made Owen very unhappy.
Unhappy enough to, when Ianto was out of sight in the depths of the Hub, touch the coffee machine.
And Ianto, being Ianto, knew it.
He knew it.
And worse, he knew it was Owen who had removed the filter and put all the tins of different types of bean in the wrong places, and Owen hadn't actually counted on Ianto figuring that out.
Which had lead, eventually, to the current situation.
Jack was leaning on the railing just outside of his office, grinning down at the spectacle like the kid in the playground who organised the fight between the two biggest bullies in the first place. Tosh, just as used to this as Jack, stood at his elbow nursing her coffee and smiled, idly wondering whether she could make this coffee last until Ianto would be capable of making her another one without exploding. Gwen stood on Jack's other side, clutching his arm with one hand and biting the nails of the other, torn between watching passively like the others and wanting, as a former policewoman, to intervene.
The main area of the Hub looked almost like a boxing ring. Owen and Ianto stood as far apart as they could without leaving the area, glaring at each other and obviously itching for a fight. So far, they had only thrown verbal agro, but Owen's hand kept straying to the desk behind him, and Ianto was still holding his own coffee. Which Gwen suspected he hadn't finished.
"And if you sodding well think," Owen was bellowing, red-faced and fuming, "that there is any way in Hell you are getting back in my autopsy bay after this, you are sadly fucking mistaken!"
"Until the next time you need me to clean up the mess you made," Ianto sneered.
"We're not all as anally-retentative as you, tea-boy," Owen snapped.
"No, some of you, particularly those of the medical ilk, are so perfected in the art of filthiness that they could win a bloody Turner prize."
"In fact," Ianto continued blandly, "I suspect some of the great art galleries of Europe would be interested. Don't let us hold you back, Owen, go into your artistic career. It pays better than being a failed doctor."
"I am not a failed fucking doctor!"
"You cut up dead shit!" Ianto retorted. "Any more failed and you'd be a dentist!"
"At least I don't spend my days watching sodding rugby, making sodding coffee, and shagging the sodding boss!"
"Synonyms, Owen, remember those?"
"I have a proper job, here, alright, tea-boy? Your job was just created 'cause Harkness can't keep his mind off sex!"
"And yet when one of us has to go away for any length of time, it isn't your absence that brings the entire place grinding to a halt."
"You're a bloody nanny. A childminder. That's not a job, it's a sentence."
"Says the failed doctor."
"Oi! I am not-"
"Come off it, if you could be a normal doctor, you would be. Feeling up all those nice young ladies. You miss medical school."
"I do...wait. How the fuck would you know that?!"
Up at the office, Jack's eyes brightened with interest and he straightened up to watch more intently, even as Tosh gave an aborted giggle and a sly look stole across Ianto's face.
"You say a lot when you're drunk, Owen."
"...What the fuck?! When was I drunk around you?!" Owen demanded, going purple.
"After having several too many at the pub watching England v Wales. Few months ago," Ianto shrugged, almost casually, and grinned. "You say a lot of things when you're drunk. And do a lot of things."
"I don't remember this!"
"Owen, Owen," Ianto said in the most patronising tone he could manage. Which was pretty patronising. "Work it out. Who makes your coffee? Me. Who has access to retcon? Me. So, logically..."
"You little shit!"
"I didn't think you'd want to remember, personally, not after getting in my pa-"
Owen threw something at Ianto's head. Nobody even really registered what it was, as Ianto ducked and Jack sprang down from the walkway to jump between them and prevent things going any further.
"That's enough!" he ordered.
"Jack, I swear to God, if I..." Owen began, but Jack cut him off.
"Out. Both of you," he snapped. "I'm not having this out at work. Go out and fight on the Plass if you must. Just not in here."
There was a long silence, before Ianto straightened up and walked out, calmly and coolly. With a strangled growl, Owen swung on his heel and stalked after the Welshman, muttering obscenities under his breath that made Jack pretty sure that Ianto was about to get his clock cleaned.
"Are you sure that's wise?" Gwen worried from above him. "They'll just end up hurting each other."
"They're both big boys," Jack said, and chuckled. "They'll be fine. They're sensible enough to know when to stop."
"Are you sure?" Gwen asked.
"Trust me, Gwen, this has gone on as long as Owen and Ianto have been here."
Out in the cold, Cardiff air, the pair of them walked down to the waterfront and the long line of bars, restaurants and shops that vanished beyond the main cameras of the Hub.
"Thank God for that," Owen said. "I thought I was going to die in there!"
"Right," Ianto said. "You got us kicked out, so it's my round."
"Yep. No match on tonight?"
"That...didn't really happen, right? Me getting too drunk? Right?"
"Nah," Ianto said.
But Owen might have pushed it further had he noticed the smirk that crossed the Welshman's face.