Notes: My head has distinctly been in the realm of original fiction lately, so I apologise for my lateness. I am also seeking a small beta audience for original fiction (in most genres) so do let me know if you're interested.

Disclaimer: I do not own Torchwood, and I make no profit from this work.


Owen had never really liked his family.

That wasn't any news to anyone who'd ever known him, actually. Some of the lads in medical school had thought he didn't have family, what with how few times he ever went anywhere but the university for holidays. Certainly nobody in Wales assumed he was close to them. He thought his mother still lived in that run-down piece of shit house that she never looked after in the middle of Colindale, but he wasn't sure and he wasn't going to find out.

He didn't need her.

He knew from the odd neurology and psychology courses he'd taken at medical school that people tend to form their own substitutions for family members that either don't exist, or are unwanted in the extreme. Some examples were obvious - step-parents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, all filling in the roles of parents and siblings.

But sometimes it was less obvious.

He wouldn't have ever put a name to anyone in Torchwood, for example. Maybe Jones was some incredibly annoying brother (though Owen hadn't decided in the substitution game whether he would be older or younger) but nobody else really had a role. It was just sick to fantasise about shagging your sister, after all.

But then, maybe Jones was a good example of it.

Family had never been some big thing with connections and familial love and affection, for Owen. Family were the bunch of people that you were exposed to, consistently, and you felt some weird obligation towards even if you hated them, and those people where it was easier to get along than to fight and hate all the time.

And him and Jones? Right there.

Owen could easily have hated Jones. Hell, he didn't even use his first name half the time. He could easily hate him - no problem, no barriers there, let's get on with it. But he didn't.

Jones was annoying and pedantic and needed a good smack in the gob six days out of seven, but Owen never really delivered on the idea. It was just easier to ignore him than clash with him all the time. And sometimes, when they did clash, Owen couldn't settle afterwards, and things were stupidly awkward for a while afterwards. Not like fighting with anyone else.

Kind of like, he supposed, fighting with your brother.

He knew he'd step in and help if Jones ever asked him to. He also knew that wouldn't happen if he waited a thousand million years. Jones didn't do help. (And hell, Owen had seen him when he was angry. When the fuck would Jones need help?) Truth be told, Owen didn't really do help either. But he would, if he had to, for Jones. Even though he didn't want to.

Cos, yeah, that's family. They make you into hypocritical little fuckwits who drop important stuff to deal with someone you don't particularly like, and you wouldn't mind if you never saw again, and you don't even hate enough to do anything about.

Family sucks.

Ianto hadn't really fitted in with his family.

It wasn't their fault, he supposed. They were just...not enough. Happy to sit there in rural Newport and Cardiff, happy to putter along and aim for complete mediocrity. And Ianto had, in the end, found that attitude to contemptible.

He still went round to his sister's, now and then, to catch up a bit and offer the kids a bit of cash (cos he felt he should play the uncle now and then. It wasn't their fault that his and Rhi's father hadn't been great at the whole understanding-and-accepting-your-weird-son thing) and put up with her hubby. He still rang Mum, once a month, and let her talk at him, and fed her a couple of lies about his life to keep her happy.

But he did it because they were his family, not because he liked it.

That was what you did. He hadn't liked them much, and he'd liked growing up and being able to go to London and make his own life with people that he could choose, but Cardiff had always kept a grip on his life. Because they were there.

In a way, his colleagues had fallen into the same category. He genuinely liked Toshiko - that was friendship, not family, and he maintained it as such. He would choose to help her, and go out of his way for her, and get the same regard in return. But the others?

Owen, especially, was family to Ianto. He was abrasive, irritating, stubborn to the extreme, and reminded Ianto almost entirely of an obnoxious cousin he'd been forced to play with as a very small child, whose interests included pulling the wings off flies and burning ants in the sun.

And, like family, it was just easier to clear up after him, provide the hangover remedies on his desk on Monday mornings, and largely ignore his existence on the planet. It would have used up so much energy to hate Owen - so much effort and energy to keep that fire of anger and loathing going, keep it warm and intact, when it was easier just to accept that he was there, he wasn't going to be buggering off any time soon, and he was (unfortunately) part of the immediate circle that Ianto's brain insisted on keeping tabs on.

Everything would go a lot more smoothly if Ianto simply accepted that, and stopped making pyramids out of Owen's dirty cups, or 'accidentally' deleting his porn stash from the servers.

Yeah, right.