herlady_ain (herlady_ain) wrote,

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Part Three, "To Err Is Human..."

As always, humble thank yous to my betas who did their best to keep me inline!  You're fantastic talkingtoatwig and silver_x_cross!  
Owen must take responsibility for things going wrong after he brought a stranger into Torchwood and the team works to go about life like normal.  Owen makes a serious mistake.
Please read, enjoy, tell your friends, comment, etc.

A Very Bad Idea

“Well, I’ve got her on a ventilator, but vitals are looking good.  She’ll be right angry when she wakes up, with that terrible hole in her neck, but she will wake up.” 


Jack and Ianto were sitting on the couch when Owen came upstairs from the autopsy room.  Both of them looked a little pale, as they sat there sipping scotch.  Owen, on the other hand, looked exhilarated.  “What?  No round of applause for a spectacular save?  You lot…”


“She wouldn’t be in this situation if you hadn’t brought her here.”  That knocked the cock right out of Owen.  “She told Ianto you kidnapped her.  Is that true Owen? And the bruises on her arms?  Did you have to rough her up a bit to get her to come along?  You are out of control Owen- she’s not her mother.”  Jack’s voice had begun to rise, he was shouting. “What did you expect would happen if you brought her here?  Were you even thinking?!”


That did it for Owen.  His lip curled back and he spit his words at Jack.  “How was I supposed to know she’d react like that?  You’re the one who established the protocol to use the shit, JACK!  I didn’t give it to her; I wanted more time to talk to her.  Fuck Jack, you could have at least given me that!”  His whole body had tightened like an animal ready to strike; his hands curled into fists. 


Jack watched him standing there like an angry child, his chest heaving with each breath.  For a moment he certain he was going to hit him, but in an instant he regained his cold demeanor.


“Well Owen, you’ve got your wish.  We can’t let her leave, and we obviously can’t Retcon her again, at least until we understand what happened this time.  Ianto, fetch Owen a cot.  As long as Reggie’s here, he’s here.”  He turned to Owen, willing him to argue.  “Any problems with that?”


Owen wasn’t going to give Jack the satisfaction.  “No, sir.”


Jack was on a roll:  “Tomorrow, you will spend the entire day trying to figure out what just happened.  I want you to go all the way back through her medical records, her father’s medical records, Diane’s.  Everything we’ve got; anything about compound 67, or any of the other ingredients from those pills.  We can’t let her go until you come up with some sort of solution.  You wanted her so badly; she’s yours now.”




It had been two days, and Owen was getting bloody sick of this damned place.  He stormed back to the autopsy room, kicking over a waste bin as he went.  From a drawer he retrieved some antiseptic and bandages and sat down to redress the cuts his perfectly manicured nails had left in his palms.  A quick movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention. 


“Hello Sunshine!  Never thought you’d be glad to see my face, eh?  Sorry about those restraints- we couldn’t have you falling off the table.”  He quickly undid the restraints and began gathering some medical supplies.


Reggie tried to sit up or talk, but the drugs, the medical equipment, and the entire ordeal made it impossible. 


Owen kept talking, “No, right, sorry.  No talking I’m afraid.  You went into shock and we had to put a hole in your throat so you could breath.”  He shined a light in her eyes.  “Good news is, you haven’t got a concussion.  Since you’re back with us now what do you say we turn of this ventilator?” 


There was a ‘whoosh’ and the air escaped from the machine, and then Reggie gasped in through the valve in her neck.  Owen capped the opening and after a couple more tries she was able to breathe normally. 


Owen helped her to sit up, “Right, that’s better.  Look, I’ll be able to put you back right after you’re feeling better…”


Reggie put her finger over his mouth and made another attempt to speak.  This time she did manage, but it was barely more than a fractured whisper.  “What about my family? My friends?  My life?”


Owen handed her a cup with a straw.  “Drink some of this, and try not to talk too much, or there’ll be permanent damage.  We had the school put you on emergency leave, and sent message to your parents and friends about a research trip you’ve gone on with your program.  Crude, but it’ll work for a few weeks.”


Reggie swallowed wrong and choked and coughed.  “A few weeks?”  She wanted to shout and swear and tell him she hated her but he shushed her.


“Hey, easy!”  He busily examined his work to make sure nothing was damaged. “Look, I’m sorry.  You can’t leave her until we’re certain you’re not a security risk, and we can’t wipe your memory until we know it won’t kill you.  So; that means you and I are going to become great friends.”  He silently returned to removing the IV from her right hand.


“Owen?”  A women’s voice called from upstairs.  “Are you here Owen?  We’ve got Chinese.”


“Down here Gwen.  There’s someone you’ll want to meet.”


A cute woman with dark hair came down the stairs, followed closely by a pretty Japanese woman.  “Is she awake?”  Before Owen could answer she addressed Reggie directly.  “Gave us quite a scare, we were beginning to wonder if you’d ever wake up. I’m Gwen...”


Reggie interrupted her.  Her voice was still a whisper, but it was getting stronger.  “Cooper.  Jack told me- before he, Owen, and Ianto tried to kill me that is.  And you must be Toshiko Sato.  Charmed.”  She shook each of their hands with her left hand; Owen was still bandaging the other.


“Just call me Tosh.  Gwen and I took the luxury of fetching some clothes from your flat…” She had a hard time looking Reggie in the eyes, and she kept looking away from the valve in her neck.


Once Owen had run out of ‘doctoring’ to do he chimed in:  “Right, well Gwen and Tosh can show you to the ladies room so you can get changed, and I’ll… I’ll be upstairs getting a bite to eat.”  He gave her another glance.  “Right.”


Gwen and Tosh stood on either side of Reggie as she made her way up the stairs to the lavatory.  Thankfully there was a bench for her to rest on before she attempted the arduous task of dressing herself.  She was amused to see, on the end of the bench neatly folded, was a pair of her jeans, a t-shirt, fresh undergarments, a sweatshirt, and on the floor, a pair of her trainers. 


Reggie stuck her head out the lavatory door, “You said you got these from my flat?”


Tosh was waiting just outside for her, or to help if she fainted or whatnot.  “Well yes, I’m sure that Ianto has re-laundered and pressed them for you; he does that.  Are they alright?”


“Yes, they’re fine… thank you.”  She retreated back in to get dressed.  She rested another minute before checking herself in mirror- she was a total mess and in desperate need of a shower.  The hemorrhages in her eyes and the sallow look of her skin weren’t done any favors under the florescent lighting.  She washed her face in the basin and examined the damage on her chest, arms and throat.  The bruises were awful, but she hoped they would be gone in a couple of days.  Her throat was another story.  Owen had done it perfectly, but a big bandaged hole in someone’s throat was never pretty.  She wasn’t able to see the stitches on the back of her head in the mirror, or she would have given those a thorough check as well. 


When she emerged from the lavatory, Ianto had replaced Tosh.  He held out a mug.  “Tea?  I’m afraid it’s not very hot, Doctor’s orders.  Jack would like to see you in his office.  I can help you up the stairs.”


Jack was sitting behind his desk looking over some preliminary reports from Owen and Tosh on the allergic reaction.  He absent-mindedly fingered the edge of the glass of Scotch that Ianto had poured him.  He looked up in time to see them coming up the last couple of stairs.  She certainly looked like death, he thought.  There was still a striking resemblance to her mother.  Goddamn Owen Harper.


Jack stood as they entered the room: “Ms. Martelli!” He smiled at her and helped her to a chair, dismissing Ianto with a nod.  “Very good to see you up and breathing on your own.  I assume Owen has told you the situation we’re in?”


Reggie nodded silently, she was enjoying the piss warm tea far more than she thought possible, but she wasn’t ready to say anything yet.


“We’re working very hard to figure out what happened.  Owen and Tosh have worked on nothing else.”  After getting no response he continued.


“I have to tell you, we never would have given you the amnesia pill if we had any inclination this would happen…”


Jack’s seemingly casual attitude made her angry.  “Well it’s too fucking late for that now isn’t it?  I have a gaping hole in my neck, and I’ve been withdrawn from all my classes.  My parents and friends think I’m doing research in Africa or the Middle East or who knows where.  I am being kept from everything that matters to me and all I care about right now is what happens next.”  She couldn’t yell, but it was obvious he was listening.


“Right… That seems to be a good summary of events.”  He took a swallow from his glass.  “As for what happens next;” He sat down on the edge of the desk, “I can’t tell you.  Right now the tests are inconclusive- we don’t know exactly what caused you to have the allergic reaction.  I cannot let you leave here.  I’m sorry.  We’ll figure something out, but for now, we need time.  If you need anything, just ask. I’m afraid you can’t make any phone calls, or send any emails.  Torchwood is your home for now.”


Jack watched her silently, trying to gage how she was taking all of this.  It was pretty shocking.  She was effectively a prisoner, and he knew he wouldn’t take that very well.


Reggie was focusing as hard as she could on breathing calmly but she could feel tears burning in the corners of her eyes. 


“It’s so unfair.  I know it’s stupid, because life’s not fair, but I was finally doing what I wanted.  All this, just because I delivered Chinese food to your crazy doctor.”  With that she lost the composure she’d been struggling to maintain.  She wept quietly to herself- alone again.


Finally it seemed she’d gotten it out of her system.  She hurriedly wiped the tears from her cheeks with the back of her hand and forced a weak smile.  Jack knelt down next to her chair and looked her in the eyes.  “I’m sorry, Reggie."




Jack let her sit another moment.  He knew that pride was rough, and after everything else she probably didn’t want to be sniffling and wiping her eyes when she saw the others.  He helped her to her feet and led her out to the conference room where the others were dining. 


“As long as you’re with us, Owen is responsible for you.  Anything you need- he’ll get it.  During the day feel free to talk with or ask anyone for anything you need.  Movies, books, food, too hot, too cold, anything.  Ianto is very helpful, so don’t be shy.  Ahha, here we are.”


Everyone stopped in their tracks when Jack and Reggie entered.  Tosh quickly hopped to her feet and offered her seat, which Reggie took without question.  She was so tired.


“Thank you… Chinese; from the Lucky Plate?”  She looked at Owen.  “I used to work there-- but that’s a story from another time.  What do you say doctor, am I fit enough to eat; any rules I should know about?”


Owen started to speak, but Jack interrupted.  “Owen will fix you a plate.  Won’t you Owen?”


“Yeah.  Right.  I’ll put some things together. You have to take it slowly, mind you.”  He put a couple of small piles on the plate.  “No rice, and nothing spicy.  Small bites please- don’t need you choking.”  He set the plate down in front of her and went back to his seat.  They all watched her for a moment, waiting to see what she did next.


“Have you got any extra chop sticks?”  There was a quick scramble, but Gwen was the fastest.  They continued to watch her as she cautiously started eating.  Jack was the first one to break the silence; inquiring about some report for someone.  Soon it was like she wasn’t even there, everything was normal. 


“Can I call you Reggie?”  Gwen’s question had surprised her.


“Yeah, I mean. Yes, you can.  Everyone else does, I might not remember to answer to anything else.”  She heard a couple of small chuckles and added her own, only to be struck down with coughing.


Owen interjected then, “No, right, that’s it.  As your doctor I think you’re going to have to refrain from laughing.”  He smiled a little and then looked away.  Everyone knew this was his fault.


“Owen why is my chest is bruised, and when can you remove this?”  She gestured towards her throat but didn’t dare put her hand up there.  The whole thing still made her a little nauseous. 


“Right… that would be from the adrenaline.  Sorry about the bruising, it takes a lot of force to get a needle through the chest wall.  As for the trach.,- I should think we can take care of it by next Friday.  Why, got a hot date?”  The forks and chatter stopped.  Gwen glowered at him.


“No. I could use a shower.  I assume you have one here?”


“I’m afraid that’s a bit of a problem too.”  Owen was full of good news.  “Normally I would recommend only taking baths, but I think, under the circumstances, we’ll have to make an exception.  You’ll have to wrap your trach. in water proof material.”


“Fine.”  She pushed back from the table.  “Well, I’m full- looks like I’ll lose that weight after all, huh Owen?  Would somebody please show me to my cell?”


Gwen flinched.  “Oh, now, please don’t think of it that way…”


“Will the door be locked?”  Nobody answered.  “And I assume that these locks will be on the outside.  Stop pretending it’s all roses.  I’m being held here against my will- In. A. Cell.”  Reggie stood up a little too quickly, but steadied herself on the edge of the table.  “Owen, we’re stuck together, right?  Would you be so kind as to help me to the small locked room where I’ll be staying?”  Right now she was completely powerless in the situation, but she wasn’t going to make it easy for them.


Owen assumed his place at her left elbow.  “Mind the bruises please, still a little tender.”  He tossed Jack a desperate, annoyed look and then dutifully led her to one of the rooms they occasionally used as a crash pad.


“Well, looks like somebody has been hard at work in here.”  Owen was exactly correct.  Somebody had put a set of sheets on the institutional grade mattress and added a seating area with a chair, table and floor lamp.  Gwen and Tosh had brought plenty of her clothes and even seemed to have gathered a couple of personal belongings.  Owen sat her on the edge of the bed.


“Stay right there, I have to suction out your trach.  I’ll be right back.”  Then he left the room.


Once he’d gone Reggie lost her composure again.  These were her things; somebody else had gone through her flat, and brought her things here, to decorate this sterile room.  This whole situation had been a nightmare, but sitting there in her cell made it real.  The sobbing wouldn’t stop this time.  She was still crying when Owen returned with the supplies he needed. 


Owen froze in the doorway.  “Oh fuck’s sake.”  Being caught crying like this, by him of all people, only made her cry harder.  He fetched a tissue from the lavatory and sat down on the bed next to her.  He sat there awkwardly as she blew her nose and slowly put herself back together.


“That’s a girl.  Chin up.  No shame in being upset.”  He busied himself with the cleaning.  Medicine was so much easier without live patients. 


“You loved my mother?” 


He hadn’t expected her to speak to him.  “Yeah, I guess you could say I loved her.”


“I didn’t even know her.  She spent the last year of my life in the hospital.”


“She smoked too much.”


“I wish people had told her that more often.”  She took a deep breath.  “What do you think she would have thought of all this?”


This was what Owen had dreaded the most.  “She would fuckin’ kill me.”  He stood to leave the room.  “There’s a com button by the bed.  If you need anything, I’ll be here.”


“All night?”


“All night.”


“Okay… thank you Owen.”


At that moment, Owen felt like the world’s biggest prat.  “I’m sorry,”




Reggie’s routine at the Hub may not have been her choice, but it wasn’t any more mundane than her life on the outside.  Ianto came in at a quarter of 6 and started the coffee.  The first couple of days, she awoke to the noises of him moving around outside her door and had buzzed Owen.  Since then it was an unspoken agreement that Ianto would come get her around 6:15 and she would shower and dress before meeting him in the conference room.  There was always coffee and sometimes he would breakfast with her.  It was nice not to be alone, even if he didn’t talk much.


It had been four days since Owen had removed the valve and sutured the hole in her neck.  In another couple of weeks it would be entirely healed.  The stitches in the back of her head were long gone, and the bruises on her arms were a barely visible yellow.  Her chest was still very bruised and tender, but Owen assured her that that too would heal.  Everyone was putting a lot of effort into behaving normally around her- she appreciated that.  The team, minus Owen or Ianto, would go out on calls.  Life went on.  She began seeing just how far she could push Owen.


“Owen.”  Her voice called from the speaker box again, sending Gwen and Tosh into giggles.  He was starting to wonder if she’d been put up to driving him mad.


“Yes Reggie.  Something I can do for you?”  He replied through gritted teeth.


“Owen, I know you’re very busy, but I was thinking… Are you up for another game of checkers?”


This put Gwen and Tosh over the edge.  Owen’s face soured further

 “Bloody checkers… why does it always have to be checkers?  Did one of you, maybe, oh, I don’t know, mention to her that I hate checkers?”


Ianto leaned over Owen from behind, setting his coffee mug on the desk.  “Oh, I think I might have said something about it to her.  Sorry.”  He smiled smugly and held out the checkers box in Owen’s direction.


Owen rose grudgingly and snatched the box out of Ianto’s hand.  “I hate checkers!”


When Owen stepped through her doorway she was already sitting in a chair at the table.  “Hello!” She called cheerily.




“Oooh, grumpy today.  I’ll trade you.  You stay locked in here at night.  It’s killing my social life, but doing wonders for my linguistic skills.  I’m learning Czech.”


“So, Ianto told you I hate checkers.”


“Yeah.  Wanna know a secret?  So do I.”


“Then let’s do something else.”


“How about going out for a pint?”  She knew he hated this game too: ‘what are all the things we can’t do?’


“Not this again, don’t you ever get tired of this shit?”


“No, why, are you?”


“You could say that.”

“Talk to me about my mother.”  Now she had him.


“Right, checkers it is then.”  He began setting up the board.


“No!” She slammed her hand on the table hard enough to make the tokens jump. 


“That had to hurt.” 


Reggie leaned in close to him.  She would have shut the door, but with the CCTV, it didn’t matter.  “Owen, you owe me the decency of answering my questions.  It’s because of you that I may never leave this place.  You’re not any closer to ‘curing’ my allergies, and you’re only working on that so you can hurry up and wipe my memory clean- put all this behind you.  I know the woman my father loved.  Everyone tells me about her.  I want to know the woman you loved.”




In the main room the four remaining Torchwood members held their breath and waited to see who would speak next.  Jack chased the others away from the monitor at Owen’s desk.  Tosh had taken Reggie’s room off of the regular loop but it still recorded to the system.  Since Owen was the one here to keep an eye on her at night, they thought it was still important that he be able to check up on her.


“Whatever Owen’s going to tell her, I think she deserves a little privacy, don’t you.”  Nobody bothered to argue, instead they simply returned to their work.  Jack stayed to watch.




“Why do you need to know- when we wipe your memory you won’t remember any of it.”  His eyes pleaded with her.


“I know that.  Owen, please.”  She put her hand on his.  “I have nothing left.  Please just give me this.”


For a moment she thought he would storm out.  If she’d pushed him too far this time, she wouldn’t get another chance.


“She ferried planes in the War.  Got a ‘taste for flying’, she said.  But after the war, when all the other good little women were going back to their stoves,” he chuckled at the memory.  “She wouldn’t.  Couldn’t stand people telling her what to do.”  He stared at his hands, recalling the memories and laying them out before her without meeting her eyes.  “She was class, she was.  She argued that women should be able to have equality without having to sacrifice chivalry.  You know… a true ‘modern woman’, sexually aware,” He glanced up slightly to see if Reggie had reacted before continuing.  “Outspoken, beautiful, smart, independent.  She flew to Australia solo in four days.”  Tears started to build up in his eyes.  “Once she got here nothing frustrated her more than not being allowed to fly- I tried to get some lessons for her so she could qualify for a new license, but she left before that happened.  She taught me so much…” He sat silently for a full minute before starting again. 


“Woke up one morning and she’d gone, left me a note.  I rushed to the airfield, but she couldn’t be persuaded to stay.  No matter how much I loved her, she couldn’t stay.  She wanted to see if the rift would take her somewhere new…”


Reggie squeezed his hand reassuringly.  “Owen, I’m so sorry.”  Her own eyes were full of tears again.  He stood up from the table and looked her in the eyes before turning and leaving.  She whispered at his back as he left, “Thank you.”




 (Apparently I hit the limit on this post- the last little bit continued below)
Part Three Continued

Previous bits Takeaway Girl
  Dire Consequences
Tags: a very bad idea, fic, owen harper, regina martelli, to err is human
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