Lady Paperclip (paperclipbitch) wrote,
Lady Paperclip
paperclipbitch

"So close to touching freedom, then I hear the guards call my name..."

Title: Here In My Head: The Final Testimony Of Suzie Costello
Fandom: Torchwood
Characters: Suzie (hints at Jack/Suzie and Owen/Suzie)
Challenge/Prompt: philosophy_20, 3. Ends Justify The Means and 7rainbowprompts, 8. Broken Promises
Rating: PG-15
Genre: Gen (implied het)
Copyright: Tori Amos, “Here In My Head”
Summary: Set during “They Keep Killing Suzie”. She can’t face what they’ll think of her.
Author’s Notes: I love Suzie. So I had to write this. Give me a go because I had such a good time working on this; it took me 5 months!



In my head I found you there.

Knowing that she is killing Gwen Cooper and depressed but not surprised at the fact that she doesn’t care, Suzie Costello sits in the interrogation room alone, spreads her fingers on the table and counts them a couple of times. Still ten. She picks up a biro from the table, then picks up the file full of photographs, turns them all over. How long she’ll be down here before they realise what she’s done to Gwen is a mystery, but maybe they’ll never realise. Torchwood is a surprisingly unobservant organisation at times. Suzie bites her lips together and slowly begins to write on the back of one of the Pilgrim photographs, small, neat hand. Obsessively careful. I wasn’t always like this, Jack. You know that I wasn’t. She considers this. She won’t die, she refuses to die, she’ll get herself out of here at the earliest opportunity, go somewhere clean and new and different, not small and rainy and full of lilting accents like Cardiff. But for some stupid little reason, she can’t face the fact that all they’ll think of her is the woman who killed and killed and killed again, all for that edge of desperation.

Smile quirking her lips, she keeps writing. They won’t understand, but maybe it’ll help somewhere along the line. Or drive them all mad. At this point, she honestly doesn’t give a damn.

And running around and following me.

I wasn’t always like this, Jack. You know that I wasn’t. You know that I laughed along with the rest of the world… well, from time to time anyway. Do you remember laughter? I don’t think I do. Something about the cold down here. It freezes half your memories. Do you still laugh like you used to? You used to have the most beautiful laugh. Don’t remember what it sounds like but I remember that I used to like it.

You hate me. You didn’t hate me the first time, and I realise that now, you were confused and you blamed yourself a little, a lot, I’m sure of it, but you hate me now because if you’re reading this then you know what I did. And I did, Jack. I did everything, laid down the traps, fixed Max’s mind step by wicked step. Do you know how much retcon it takes to make a man’s mind yours, Jack? I do. I learned by trial and error and sheer desperation. It doesn’t excuse it, at least in your mind, but I don’t care any more. I really don’t. Funny really. There was a time when I’d have given anything for your approval. When just to have you smile was all I needed.

I thought about loving you for a while but I don’t and I never did.

But you don’t, oh, dare now.

Childhood was horrendous, although I suppose you’ll figure that out in your own time. I don’t really want to talk about it, I’m sure that it’s not an excuse for whatever it is that I’m doing right now, although I hear you never really leave your childhood behind. Abusive father, desperately miserable mother. I’m sure you’ve heard the story. Hell, you probably fucking lived it, Jack. You keep running, God knows what from. I’m not sure I want to detail the childhood I had that tore me apart, but let’s just say that I hated it and I did everything I could that would ensure I could get away from it all as soon as possible.

So I guess that’s it when it comes to childhood memories. I’m not clever Jack; not clever like Owen pretends he isn’t, not a genius like Tosh, not logical like Gwen probably is. I just worked for it. Worked so fucking hard I think maybe it drove me a little mad. It doesn’t matter really.

I don’t remember what life was like before Torchwood; before you took my hand and begged me to come and work for you. Years ago. Ten years and you haven’t aged a day. I shot you through the head and you didn’t die, Jack; I think I’m beginning to piece things together. I’m not logical. I have to take my time finding my puzzle pieces and working out how they all fit. But I know a few things and what I don’t know I can – I will – find out.

But I find that I have now more than I ever wanted to.

I met you, Jack, in the summer of 1996. Do you remember? Or perhaps we all blur into one after a while. Just how many Torchwood employees have you met, shut into morgue drawers, forgotten? Blow the dust off the memories, Jack, I deserve to be recalled a little. We all do. You’re unchanging, unmoving. I’d even put money on the fact you founded Torchwood Three all those years ago. You’ve lived long enough to be sick of living, Jack, even I know that. I’m not there yet though. I want to live. I want to live for as long as I can. Perhaps you’ve realised that now. Live until you die, yes; but I want to live longer than that. Much, much longer.

I was out with a boyfriend of mine that I didn’t like all that much, having lunch. You blew up the restaurant.

Do you meet us all that way?

You met me looking up at you with my dead boyfriend’s blood all over me, and although, as I’ve said, I didn’t like him, I did like that skirt. And you blew someone up all over it, and no amount of dry cleaning ever got it clean again. As it turns out, it’s not just my clothes that are irreversibly stained.

So maybe Thomas Jefferson wasn’t born in your backyard like you have said.

We’re not friends. We’re not even enemies. But I think somewhere along the line we became nemeses. I didn’t know that then. All I knew was that you had blue eyes and a smile with more teeth than anyone should have in it (like a shark, Jack, your smile isn’t reassuring, it’s terrifying- has no one ever mentioned that to you?) and a big coat and you weren’t screaming or trembling.

I think I clung to you and cried. Imagine that – or remember it if you’ve got enough memories left – me clinging to you, face buried in the soft grey wool of your coat, drowning in your smile, sobbing helplessly with other people’s blood and fettuccini all over me. Do you remember? I can’t forget it. I wake up screaming because I can’t help thinking that I shouldn’t have clung to you. I should have pushed you away and run and run and run until my feet were bleeding, just to get away from you. Over the last ten years I’ve regretted the way I didn’t leave. I’ve been glad and I’ve been morose about it. I’ve screamed until my throat bled and watched doctors sew my skin back together and I wish, I wish that I hadn’t listened to you in the first place.

If I hadn’t listened to you, I wouldn’t be here now. I wouldn’t be strung somewhere between life and death with a hole in the back of my head and a mug of cold coffee for company.

But I knelt there in the rubble with you and when I was less hysterical you took me with you in the battered Landrover that served as your transport in those days, you and the other four, Torchwood Three in the nineties. And I became one of you. I don’t recall whether you asked me or whether you just assumed I’d go with you. I don’t know what you saw in me, that made you choose me, employ me, teach me and make me part of your team.

You chose wrong. You do know that, right?

And maybe I’m just the horizon you run to when she has left you there.

Ianto would have been a teenager then, doing whatever it is sixteen-year-olds do for fun in little Welsh villages. Owen would have been in his first year of residency on Casualty shifts. Tosh would have been starting university, on the fast-track to somewhere full of promise (but she ended up down in the dark here. I think you take some kind of deeply perverse pleasure, Jack, in watching our lights go out. All that potential in shreds). Gwen would have been deciding that she wanted to join the police force, I suppose.

All of them safe from you, in their own little alien-free lives, when you took me downstairs into the train station and handed me a gun and pressed up against my back and taught me how to use it. I was young. Not so young, perhaps, but definitely naïve. Just the sound of the shots echoing around, beautiful acoustics, was enough for me. I thought I’d finally found somewhere I belonged. The gun felt right in my hands, call me a psychopath – it’s probably accurate – but it felt right, you whispering in my ear, the metal warming up in my shaking hands.

Perhaps it was a premonition. I did shoot myself, after all.

I think, maybe, at the time I arrived, you were sleeping with all the members of Torchwood Three. Montague, a pale woman who was, to all intents and purposes, undead; pale skin, dark eyes, never breathed or blinked or coughed. I don’t know how she got that way but she transferred to Torchwood Four and I don’t know what happened to her. William Mills, missing a chunk out of his leg because of a nasty incident the previous year with a sabre-tooth tiger, walked with a limp but oh, he had a lovely smile. Annabelle Kings, who made coffee and mended computers and didn’t say a lot but always managed to be where you needed her most. Greg Whittaker, the Torchwood One representative, always wore a smart suit, whitened teeth, blue eyes almost as breathtaking as yours, and a knowledge of nearly 40 alien languages.

And then there was me.

You are here in my head.

I proved my loyalty. I had your back. I saved your life on countless occasions. I stood by and watched you fuck everyone who had the misfortune of falling into your path. I withstood your flirting and brushed lint off the collar of your coat without making it seem like I was coming onto you. I learned to play your games and I held on. Montague is lost forever in time and space. William is dead in a drawer, three along and two up from mine. Annabelle is in a mental institution somewhere quiet, mumbling with what remains of her mind in tatters. Greg is retconned, living out the rest of his life in Florida, with no idea who we are.

But I’m still here. I died and yet I’m still here.

And when I’m gone, really gone, dead or escaped, you still won’t remember me Jack, the way you won’t remember the dozens of team members who’ve slipped through your hands over however many years you’ve been down here. We’re temporary. We don’t matter.

Don’t think I don’t know why you’re here.

And running around and calling me.

We used to drink together, laughing, taking care not to mention anything that would make our relationship anything more than necessary friendship. You love necessary friendships, don’t you Jack? Necessary relationships and quick fucks, in the dark, hands on skin.

I don’t remember.

Did we?

It haunts me, which is stupid, when you think of all the other things that should keep [should have kept] me awake at night; other people’s blood, the aliens, the way the world seems intent on screwing itself up and maybe we should just let the human race die – it could hardly make things worse – but it’s what bothers me. Did you and I ever…? I can’t even say it, I wish you could see how I’m shaking. It’s a possibility that we were drunk or I was sober or you retconned me or it really never happened. I think we would have made a pretty couple, I think I would have made you happy, I know you’re supposedly the world’s best ever shag but the thing is I don’t know or I can’t or I won’t recall if you and I ever slipped up. We must have done.

I remember things that don’t make all that much sense. Do you?

“Come back, I’ll show you the roses and brush off the snow.

There’s a scar on my left forearm that runs from the crease of my elbow for six whole inches. I needed a lot of stitches. It was a December evening and there was actual snow drifting about in a half-hearted fashion that promised traffic delays the next day, and our doctor of the time, Miriam Stokely, lovely woman, I can’t even remember what colour her hair was, was stitching my skin back together. I was shaking like a leaf. It was 1999 and the world was preparing itself for the Millennium and Torchwood, if I recall, was preparing itself for the invasion of hundreds of thousands of aliens taking advantage of the computer viruses that were almost certainly going to run rampant.

You looked romantic and nostalgic in your white shirt, because those were the days before you decided to wear more colour, so it was white shirt, black trousers, black braces, a monochrome photograph with blue eyes. I was on a lot of painkillers and you wavered in front of my eyes, a gentle smile, you always were a good-looking bastard. My arm hurt and there were maybe two weeks left of the century, the millennium, all those years and people and earlier I hadn’t even been sure if I’d live long enough to see the fireworks and the change.

Miriam finished my stitches and went home, telling me to get some sleep and not get the bandage wet. She left me a lot of pills and I was shaking. A lot about that day is blurry for me, adrenaline and codeine mixing everything up into a lot of colours and shapes and you were the hero in a black-and-white film. I was just vague and held together with stitches.

I remember you kissing me.

And open their petals again and again”

We always did pay you too much attention, feeding your hero complex, which is ridiculous because you are not a hero and also you are not the good guy in all this, not even close, and the sooner you figure it all out the happier we’ll all be. You labour, Jack, under the impression that everything you touch turns to gold and you can save everything and everyone. You think… you think that you’re hurt, that you’re realistic, that everything hurts and burns you and you’ve lived a thousand lives of pain.

Maybe you have. But you haven’t learnt anything except how to have fabulous posture and a smile that achieves anything and how to make a coat billow even when there isn’t any wind.

I think we both agree that your ability to run a team and not fuck the whole thing up needs some work, Jack. Only I’ll admit it and you won’t. Or can’t. You can’t do a lot of things and unlike everyone else, I’m not scared of you or so in love with you I can’t think straight. I can tell you the truth. And to be honest, I hope it hurts. You’ve lied to us and toyed with us and played with your God complex and your fetish for heroics until it broke you. Other people might find it admirable. I don’t.

You’ve got the charisma, but not the substance. And there is no winning with you. I don’t think I’d even want to try.

And you know that apple green icecream can melt in your hands.

August. Your laughter sings on the air. You twirl me round the Roald Dahl Plas, an impromptu waltz. I try to stop you and you won’t let me. You tell me that I’m good at this, sounding almost cruelly surprised; I didn’t live in a box before I met you, Jack, whatever you may think. It’s warm, uncomfortably so; the rest of the team are hiding out inside the Hub, watching CCTV footage and giggling at us. They think we’re shagging. But we’re not. We’re just giddy with being alive when this morning all was dark and we were underground and hostages and there were aliens and I was screaming and you were bleeding and now we’re fine. Now we’re dancing like nothing else matters; maybe it doesn’t.

There are days when I want to hurt you, days when I want you five shades of dead, but this isn’t one of them. This is one of those days when things are better than I could have imagined possible, when I almost know where I fit in with the world, and the fact that I don’t know where I fit in with you honestly doesn’t matter.

Light follows dark, smiles follow pain, this morning I thought I wouldn’t see anything again, and now I can feel your heartbeat under my palm and it’s deafening and it’s terrifying.

That was five years ago Jack. A breathless August long enough ago to count the time on my fingers. And I bet you can’t remember what colour my shirt was.

I can’t.

You know what would have been perfect? If I’d fallen in love with you. If I’d fallen past friendship and past pain and into something new. I’m not saying that it would have been good for me or even that I would have liked it, but I think being in mad, helpless love would have helped me out a little. Given me something to focus on other than the mad gaping hole inside me, the desperation to figure out everything and find out exactly why human beings have survived so long. I’m lonely, Jack, half-mad, and I bet, oh, I bet, if I looked in my personelle files it could easily be revealed that none of you know the first thing about me. Ten fucking years and I amount to a few paragraphs on an unforgiving sheet of paper. Allow me my bitterness, I gave everything to this organisation and watched it get chewed into little pieces and spat back out again, ruined.

I gave my life in the end.

And you have never helped matters, Jack, because you’re confusing and you’re cruel and some days I think that I was your friend and on other days I knew that I wasn’t, because how could we ever be friends? I was just a permanent fixture, a tired little faded painting on the wall, in the corner with the dark and dust because it wasn’t so beautiful now, and you tolerated me because it was easier to keep me than retcon me and push me back out into the light, blinking in exhaustion.

I don’t think I can function in the world any more, you know? I don’t know anything any more, beyond Torchwood, beyond aliens, beyond danger, beyond the blue of your eyes telling me I’ve let you down again.

So I held your hand at the fair.

Is this the point where I smirk, settle back in my chair, and pull out the ace in my sleeve, lay it flat on the table and manage to look you in the eye? Oh, Jack, I’d love nothing more, but by the time you read this we’ll be past the point where I can do that. We can’t have this conversation eye to eye because, for one thing, you wouldn’t listen, you’d have hit me or kissed me or shot me or retconned me or walked out by now, after the first words of abuse I casually tossed in your direction. You’re not fond of criticism, are you Jack? You pretend to be self-deprecating and have a thorough understanding of your faults, but in truth you can’t stand the thought that you’re anything less than messianic.

Or maybe you would sit there and you would listen to my words, my grievances, my memories, maybe you’d terrify me by giving me your full attention. But I know that I would lose my nerve. Stutter. Stumble. Dry up and return to being quiet and obedient and yours again. Following you on your crazy looping line until it got me killed or you killed or us both killed.

But, hypothetically, because hypotheses are still a little important to me, let’s say this is a conversation, and Ianto has left us mugs of coffee, and mine is drained, and I smile, smile that smile that sends shivers down your spine because it tells you that I know more about you than you ever meant me to find out, and let’s say that I open my mouth to speak and when I do I say a name.

The Doctor.

And your own coffee mug shatters on the floor.

And even forgot what time it was.

Oh, I’m not clever, I’m not logical, I’m not even all that interested, but ten years is long enough to start reading things into people’s silences and also to take advantage of the computer system and get into files that I shouldn’t. You made me second in command, you gave me the access codes. I just suppose you thought that it would turn out all right. But I’ve read your files and files of research and he means something to you, doesn’t he? This man, ten faces, ten bodies, ten awkward smiles, he means something to you, means more than the rest of us put together.

We’re interchangeable, means to an end. And the Doctor is the end that you’re striving and we’re all dying for.

Torchwood wasn’t put together to find the Doctor, it was put together to keep the British Empire safe from him. The British Empire has gone the way of all things (but you, apparently) and is tired dust at the bottom of most people’s memories, and it’s becoming clear that we need the Doctor, but you. You’re not a fanatic, you’re not one of those sci-fi geeks sitting in his basement because you caught a glimpse of a blue box and are convinced, now, that the internet will find it again for you.

I think you know him. And I think that you’d tear the world, solar system, galaxy, most of the universe apart, just to get him to notice you and come back. I think that he broke your heart in a dozen different ways. And I think that you joined Torchwood because you thought it was the only way that you could find him again.

See, Jack? Suddenly you’re not as enigmatic as you used to be. And when I tilt my head and look closely, you’re not half as interesting. What is left when I strip away the misery and the charisma? A smile with white teeth, blue eyes, hair that could probably do with a trim. You’re not even that beautiful any more.

And even Thomas Jefferson wasn’t born in your backyard like you have said.

Have I torn up enough preconceptions? Have I dirtied my name so much that when I’m gone no one will be allowed to mention me again? Have I given you a heart attack and shut you up for five sodding minutes? Of course not. I don’t matter. I’m not important in the grand scheme of things. I’m footprints in the sand, a temporary problem. You don’t care about me and I wish, I wish to fucking God that you didn’t matter to me in any way, shape or form.

But you take pleasure in creeping under people’s skin, don’t you? Creeping under, settling down, digging in your fingernails for the long haul. There’s no one whose principles you can’t melt down with the right smile and the right sort of handshake. I wish, I wish that I wasn’t so angry, because anger makes me weak and it also makes me yours.

But it was Owen that I fucked, Owen that I ended up with, because he’s at least half as lost as I am and slipping more every day. They all are, hanging on by fingertips and desperate force of will. What you do to the employees of Torchwood Three is akin to sadistic torture, with your seduction and marvellous ability to disconcert everyone.

And I know this, because I’m on the outside looking in. I always was and now, Jack, now I’m really an outsider. Now I’m not a member of your team, I’m not one of you. Sometimes I’m in my drawer slammed between Amelia Carlisle, Frederick Townsend, Toby Bayliss, Wendy Islington. All Torchwood employees. All with death certificates signed by you (or at least, by someone whose signature is breathtakingly similar and also happens to be called Captain Jack Harkness). Sometimes, I’m just sitting down here with my bleeding head and my pen and my memories.

I was never one of you and it’s a pity because for a long time I just wanted to belong.

And maybe I’m just a horizon you run to when she has left.

We all get hurt, from time to time, but we deal with it better than you do, Jack. I was there, holding your hand, when in the aftermath of Torchwood One’s attack you read the lists of the dead and found Rose Tyler’s name.

Tyler, Rose: Daughter of Jacqueline and Pete Tyler. Known associate of the Doctor. Current whereabouts: unknown, missing since attack on Torchwood One, presumed dead.

I don’t know how you know Rose, nor how you know her family, and I don’t know why the name ‘Mickey Smith’ on the lists of the missing can make you crumple up into a tired heap, and I don’t really want to know, either, because it’s dark and scary in your head and the world is made up of all these tired colours and shapes and I don’t want to get involved.

But it was tough, seeing the remains of the Cyber conversion machines, searching through rubble and debris for survivors, for anything surviving, and we were staying in an expensive London hotel, Owen three rooms along and watching porn and charging it to his Torchwood credit card, and those were the hardest days of my life, I think. Helpless and yet being so relieved that it didn’t happen to us (not that the Cybermen would have bothered with five bored borderline-schizophrenics in a disused tube station in rainy rainy Cardiff).

The afternoon that I don’t remember but think I know what happened anyway, we were drunk on room service champagne and also a bottle of scotch and also a bottle of vodka, you’ve never been one to do things by halves, and we were sat on the floor leaning against the foot of the bed and not speaking because there was altogether too much pain and fear, and then your mouth found mine, and it was only the second time you’d ever kissed me, and there’s something crazy about the way you kiss, and I don’t remember anything after that, not one bloody thing.

Well, I suppose that answers one question, anyway.

And now I think I’ll stop feeding your ego. Perhaps it’s just because I’m too angry to speak to you now. I don’t think I realised how much I’d forgotten until this moment.

You and me here alone on the floor.

Owen. Dr Owen Harper. Thought I’d better leave you a few words, even if I’m not sure you deserve them.

Do you remember screaming my name until you were hoarse, winding your fingers through my hair, turning off the lights so the only thing we could hear was breathing? Do you remember laughing at nothing because we were alive, again, we’d saved ourselves and the world was our sodding oyster? Do you remember holding my hand in a bar one evening because I felt so alone that I couldn’t stop shivering? Do you remember tearing your bedsheets because you couldn’t hold back? Do you remember, drunk and hollow, murmuring that I was the only thing you had left to you? Do you remember, your hand curled in the back of my hair, kissing me deeply and desperately until we both tasted like tears and we couldn’t work out whose were whose, not anymore? Do you remember sleeping beside me, twitching with dreams, and then showering the next morning, pressing me into the tiles and bruising my hips? Do you remember telling me that we should give this a proper go sometime, when the world was less crazy, because we could make this work, no seriously?

Do you remember any of that?

No. Me neither.

You’re counting my feathers as the bells toll.

Ianto. A name that sounds like it should be spelt with a ‘Y’, a smile so bland it makes me want to hurt you just so I can get a scrap of emotion from you. Except that we both know that I’ve seen emotion on your face, don’t we?

I found you in the wreckage of Torchwood One, clinging onto your barely alive and half-Cyberman girlfriend, both of you bloody and sobbing. And you begged me not to shoot her because she could be saved. I know how the Cyber conversion goes. I knew that saving Lisa wasn’t possible. And I didn’t tell you. Does that make me a bad person, Ianto? I didn’t tell you that she was beyond help, I didn’t put a bullet in her quivering body, I didn’t tell Jack that one of the hybrids had survived.

I suppose that was wrong.

And I helped you hide her, I helped you get bits and pieces of machines out of Torchwood One, I spoke to Jack and convinced him to hire you. You can’t even bring me a coffee while I sit here half-dead and all-mad but you owe me everything. Even when you strip away everything else, I could have left your girlfriend to die. But I didn’t. And you’re so quick to judge me and eager to follow Jack around like a puppy waiting to be kicked, but if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t have anything at all.

Did Jack ever find out? Or is Lisa still down there? And are you blaming whatever the outcome was on me?

I suppose I deserve it. I knew how it would end, and I didn’t tell you.

You see the bow and the belt and the girl from the South.

Toshiko Sato, I picked you. I read your files and talked to Jack and it was my decision to hire you. But now you don’t even want to talk to me. I know I messed up, Tosh, I know I’ve done things I shouldn’t have done, I know, I know, but you were my friend, and now I’m hurt.

Well, as hurt as you can get when you’re technically dead, have a hole in the back of your head roughly the size of a melon and are consigning yourself to the fact you don’t really care that you’ve betrayed and fucked over everyone in your life.

We connected, Tosh. We used to go for drinks, we used to have conversations about anything but Torchwood. I don’t know you, you don’t know me. But we were friends for a few months. And maybe you can’t forgive me for falling over that edge and killing and losing myself, but then Jack took a lot of what was left of me and ruined it, and maybe I am in the wrong. Perhaps you won’t ever forgive me for dragging you into this world, convincing Jack that we needed you here, but you have a lot to thank me for, in spite of everything.

Tosh; I am going to apologise to you. Because I think you deserve an apology. So I’m sorry. I’m sorry for taking you here where you shouldn’t be, I’m sorry for robbing you of the opportunity of a life so much safer and so much brighter than this one. And I’m sorry for being your friend, but not knowing anything about you.

But I won’t be sorry forever, and maybe one day you’ll remember to forgive me.

All favourites of mine you know them all well.

Gwen Cooper. I’m writing words that, with any luck, you won’t read, because you’ll be dead. I’m sorry. Well, I’m not, because you dying was the hinge to this whole plan – well, not you, because when I planned it you weren’t even a member of Torchwood, but someone has to die so that I can live and that person just happens to be you. You drew the short straw. You connected the Glove to your hand, placed it on my corpse, and tugged. And now I want your life, and I’m taking it.

I can feel it, as it flows into me. Slow, slow, you mustn’t find out what I’m doing yet, if it becomes clear what I’ve done then maybe the others will try to reverse it. But I can feel you slipping down my spine. Owen. You’re sleeping with Owen, you hate yourself for it, you have a boyfriend that you love but he doesn’t understand. You’re telling yourself that he doesn’t understand, anyway, so that you can justify not talking to him, not looking him in the eye, not eating the meals he spends so much time cooking for you. You justify letting Owen split you apart and crack you back together again by telling yourself that Rhys wouldn’t know what to do if you talked to him.

I can taste your denial on my back teeth. I can feel your desperate misery choking every breath I take. I wonder if this is what it’s like to be you, all the time. A whirlwind of confusion and guilt. And you should never have come here. You’re too human, too sane, too loving to become one of the jaded and insane members of Torchwood down here where it’s impossibly quiet and nobody cares about anything any more.

I’m setting you free. I don’t think you can tell that, I don’t think you’d ever understand, but you should be grateful for what I’m doing, rescuing you before you fall into the dark like everyone else has.

Spring brings fresh little puddles that makes it all, that makes it all-

Jack. Me again. You again. We’re still here. Still with the staring competition, waiting for someone to blink, and you thought you understood me. Sure. I killed myself. I killed other people. And that confused you because you’d refused to see how far gone I was. The Glove. It gets beneath your skin. It’s like having raw fire hardwired to your veins, and I think only you could understand how that feels, Jack. Like teeth sinking into my flesh, tearing me apart. It hurt and it was beautiful. I was scared, at first. When you all tried it and could only get it working for seconds at a time. But I could make it work longer. I could connect. It was mine, it called to me.

I was empty by the time we found it. You hadn’t noticed. I was just your second-in-command, I didn’t matter. You knew me inside-out by then. Knew how I’d react in a fight, knew I’d have your back, knew, predictably what I’d say or do in any given situation. I’d folded myself into the stereotype that you wanted me to be. I was hollow and everything tasted like ashes and dust.

But the Glove filled me up with fire again, filled me back with what life used to be, could be, made me see the world in colour again. It made me see you for who you really are. It’s not just a piece of technology. It’s sentient, it feels you breathing and joins you. And it wanted me. You didn’t, I was interchangeable, I was disposable, I was just a woman faded out from too many years and too little hope. Unstable, unable. But I came back to life with that metal gauntlet on my hand. I remembered how I used to feel before I fell apart. I remembered, and it was wonderful.

I won’t give that up for anything, Jack.

And do you know?

So. I came up with a back-up plan. I knew I wasn’t safe, especially the first time I plunged the knife into a beating heart and watched them die. I knew that you would find out and wouldn’t rest until I was dead. Until you’d killed me for my betrayal. And I wasn’t sorry. I hate you so much it’s like drowning in black, sand pouring into my eyes and nose and mouth, I’m nothing now but a piece of alien technology and a swirling vortex of my emotions regarding you. Sometimes I think you’re the only thing keeping me going, Jack, and you don’t care, not really.

I talked to Max. I met him at the Pilgrim meeting, tired little cult members, yes, but I didn’t fit into the world any more and neither did they, it was a place to breathe. Masquerading as friends. I don’t have friends, I don’t have a family. I have Torchwood. And Torchwood is notorious for slipping out of your hands without a moment’s notice. So I talked to Max. And retconned him, over and over, tearing his mind to shreds. And not caring. I’m the only thing that matters to me any more. Selfish, maybe, but someone has to care about me Jack, and it’s hardly going to be you.

My plan worked. I’m breathing, here, and Gwen will slip away. And then I can have the life I should have had. The life you didn’t suck away. I will have a proper life, I will fall in love with someone who loves me, I will smile in the sunlight, I will not spend years in the dark trying to make sense of things that never had sense to begin with. I will be the person I deserve to be, Jack, because I don’t have anything I can call my own any more. I refuse to be sorry because I’m so, so tired of who I had to be. I just want to be free, Jack. Free of you, and free of Suzie Costello.

Hey! Do you know what this is doing to me?

Ianto is the one who finds the photographs covered in Suzie’s writing, hours after she’s gone, taking Gwen with her. He tidies them into a pile, making sure they’re in the right order. He even reads the one addressed to him, smiles in a rueful fashion and reflects that he probably should have told Jack the whole truth. And he takes them all up to Jack’s office and places them on his desk, deciding that Jack can deal with Suzie’s words.

She’s dead in a drawer again. Failed again. Her white coat is bullet-ridden and bloodstained and Ianto is left to dispose of her clothes and shut her away into the dark. Jack is bothered by all this, he can see, so he takes his time making his way to Jack’s office, ten minutes long gone, and wonders what he expects to get out of this evening.

But it doesn’t matter. Because he finds Jack, white-faced, reading Suzie’s last words, and Ianto knows that there’s no comfort he can offer to make this better.

He leaves Jack alone in the half-dark with the truth he could never acknowledge.

Here in my head.

One photograph left, and almost no time. I’ve told you everything I can think of to tell you. I’m scared and I’m lonely and I’m not going to miss you. You destroy everything you touch, Jack, you can’t die and you’d give anything and everything up for the Doctor. You’re going to hate me now, for what I’ve done, you’re going to never, never forgive me, and I’m your own personal Judas, and I didn’t even betray you for thirty pieces of silver. I betrayed you because I wanted to. And I know that you can’t handle it. I know that you will never speak my name again, and flinch when I’m mentioned.

And I don’t care.

You only have yourself to blame. The way you treated me, the things that you did. And yes, I have manipulated and murdered people, and yes, I have stolen innocent lives so that I can live, and yes, I hoarded my hate for you for so long that it’s become a destructive force of it’s own, and yes, yes, I am wrong.

But just think, Jack. There’s one thing left to me that makes it all completely worth it.

I think I’ve finally done enough to make you remember me.

Tags: challenge: 7rainbowprompts, challenge: philosophy_20, character: jack harkness, character: suzie costello, pairing: jack/suzie, pairing: owen/suzie, tv show: torchwood, type: gen, type: het
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