Replacement

 

 

Suzie: Do you ever wonder?
Gwen: What?
Suzie: Who is he?
Gwen: All the time.

 

 

"All you people, down here in the dark," Suzie says on her second day. "You forget things."

Grind and whirl, flash of alarms; in comes Jack, smile at her, saunter up to his office, hands splayed over his hips, thumbs in his belt loops.

"Like what?" Hint of a challenge in his voice. Go on. They say you're good at everything. Impress me.

She hesitates.

"Football tonight?" she ventures. Little kitten whine in her voice. Love me?

[The heat of his hands on the side of her neck, so close she can feel his breath dampen her hair. Palms sweaty on the butt of the gun, one long inward shout of I can't believe he's I can't believe he's--adjusting her hips like that, palm easing over the curve. Straight line to the sights.]

The boy who saw the alien huddles in the cell, and Tosh looks at the computer, and Owen looks at the blood sample, and Ianto looks at the bins, and Jack looks at her, and only she's looking at the shadows under his eyes and hearing him whisper "but I can never tell, but I can never tell about the monster, but I can never tell."

So it's Suzie's job to walk in, sit down, hold his hand. She hates kids. He's snotty. "It's okay, you can tell us." Never tell, Suzie, says the lifelong voice in her head. Never tell anybody.

When she looks back at Jack, for a moment, he's still watching her, and there's something like need in his eyes, and for a moment she's happy, really happy, and it's all she wants, after all.

She knows what she is to Torchwood now.

[The heat of his breath, an inch from her face, so close her eyes cross trying to meet his; the jaunt of his chin, the insistence of his hands. One long inward whirl of scream rape and throw him off, no, take him, no, kick him, no, kiss him, yes, no, he isn't the right one he isn't good enough, no, I don't love him. Whereas you and me, we're not cozy at all, we'd be amazing.]

Owen fucks her in cold storage two feet from his scalpels, beer bottle in his hand until she takes it out, takes a swig, slips further down on his cock, and clings to his shoulders as they flex, strong, almost as strong as his.

She wants to copy his tongue. It cuts, so brilliantly. It slices her ears to the bone, and she loves the cruelty, wants it for herself, because she's in pain and she deserves it, but he doesn't make her happy.

He laughs at her when she shakes out her handkerchief and murmurs, "gag me," because once she came to close to crying, "Jack."

[Blood. Blood on her hands. The growls and hisses from the cellblock. Eyes from other worlds. We aren't safe, we're never safe, we're just little creatures, just another sort of animal, like weevils, like junk drifting about. Empty bullet shells at her feet. I can't die; but I can't. The glove, the glove, the glove the glove the glove these things, all these things, they're changing me.]

"You have no idea what it's like," Suzie says, voice cracking. Her lips are curling back, she can feel it, she hates it. You look awful when you cry, Dad would say, stop it. "No idea. You can't possibly imagine. Every day. Just every day, he's going past, and he's got that smile, or his hands are on your shoulders. Or he makes the...lewd remarks. Horsing about. It's why Owen reminds me of him, sometimes. But Owen's a tosser, really. And he's...he's so beautiful. He's a god. He doesn't die. Oh, god. I'll never be good enough for him. I can't do it, I can't be what he needs, I'll never be good enough..."

Drop the pill in Max's drink, walk away.

[Oh god, she realizes, holding his face in her hands, oh my god no, no I can't be, no, oh god oh god oh god, I'm falling in love with my boss, oh shit, no, I've been in love with him for so long, Jack fucking Harkness, oh god I'm so sorry, but Owen, no, it's all his fault, Jack fucking Harkness, he did this to me, he changed me, say it once, I forgive you, Rhys, please, say it, say you forgive me, say it, please.]

Jack won't ever love her.

The glove keeps her up at night. Owen says she talks about it in her sleep, fucking creepy, go home already.

Tosh bites her lip when she's helping her in the interrogation room. The witness started crying, and she didn't notice. She's supposed to be the sensitive one. Isn't that what'll make Jack happy? She's supposed to be...

"Holding it together," says Jack.

She isn't. She never has. Why does he always want the impossible? Perfect little Suzie. All she wants is happiness.

 

 

Never tell.

Never tell about this.

Never tell your mother about this.

Never tell anyone my little Suzie.

Never tell.

Never tell anyone I did this.

Never tell anyone how your mother died.

Never tell.

Never tell anyone about this.

Never tell, Owen.

Never tell, Jack.

Never tell, Torchwood.

She stares at the retcon in her hand, drops it into Max's drink. She hasn't told.

She didn't tell Gwen, but she'd hoped to meet her mother when she died. (Never left primary school.) It's okay, Mum. Dad's safe. I never told anyone how you died. You don't want revenge, do you, Mum? Please tell me you don't want revenge? I was good, I never told. But I didn't grow up to be good at everything.

I'm in love, Mum, but I'd rather die.

All I want is to be happy? (I was never any good.) Is that too much to ask? (Jack, I'm sorry.) Even though I'm horrible?

 

 

It's taken her so long to realize exactly what it is that she's terrified of.

Her vision's gone black. Suzie's pulling her from the car, she thinks; she can't move, can't hardly breathe. Too busy being scared.

She thought it would be weevils. Or the villagers of Brecon Becons. Or Rhys dying, having to kill somebody, bug-eyed monsters from outer space, pissing off the desk sergeant, not making desk sergeant, everything changes, having to watch people die, the yank at her heart when the glove starts up, getting raped in an alley, all her things in a warehouse somewhere, clowns, being alone in the dark, being not alone in the dark. Y'know, things normal people are afraid of.

It's all pain now. She thinks there's pavement somewhere. She's going to die. If she still could move she'd have a fit at that; oh my god I'm going to die, it's the sort of thing you have a fit at, isn't it?

But it's not what makes her soul shriek, curl up, die of fright.

I failed Jack.

Somewhere in there in the last stutterings of her brain, she thinks, I'm turning into Suzie. And then, but that's the same thing, and then, nothing.

 

 

It's all your fault. You recruited me.

Suzie jerks like she's coming every time he puts a bullet in her, and he thinks distantly, huh, maybe she was in love with...nah, couldn't be.

It's all your fault. You recruited me.

His best friend will scream that, three millennia from now. They will flay him to the ribs and crack his heart. They will paint his face in his blood and let him go. There will be nothing he can do.

It's all your fault. You recruited me.

He'd thought Suzie was special. Bright. Brilliant. Like--

--hasn't dared think her name in five decades--

It's all your fault. You recruited me.

When will Gwen say that? How much of her blood will be on his hands? How many bullets will he put in her?

Jack holsters his gun, looks slowly over through the dawn.

He thinks distantly that he wants to be happy, someday. But he's still got somebody to wait up for, and trying again would just be a waste of bullets.

 

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