spock: logic is sexy

Torchwood Fic: Annotations on a Self-Made Elegy (Toshiko, gen)

Title: Annotations on a Self-Made Elegy
Author: igrockspock
Character: Toshiko
Rating: PG
Summary: When Toshiko is finished recording her goodbyes, she watches them one last time to make sure she got it right.
Word Count: 1311

Finding the time to say goodbye to the world is much harder than she expects. There are, of course, a myriad of Torchwood crises: alien sex parasites, an improbably large, radioactive fish, and several dark, broody strangers with mysterious vendettas against Jack. All of which leave her with a black eye and a swollen cut on her cheek -- not that she's complaining, mind, because she could easily have died -- but she wants her team to remember her cool and smooth and polished, not frazzled and battered.

When her face finally heals, she needs time alone to record the video, which is when she realizes that Ianto never leaves the Hub and Jack is always watching. Then there are the false starts. The first time, she sits too far to the left of the camera. The second, third, and fourth time, her voice cracks when she says she must be dead. The fifth time, she records the whole thing with her specs on and there's a glare on the lenses and besides, she really wants them to see her one last time, without the extra barrier of glass between her face and the camera. When she finally gets going though, the ease of it is shocking. She had thought that saying goodbye might hurt, but it is the most peaceful she has ever felt, and it is easy to watch the video one last time to make sure she did it right.

Okay. So, if you're seeing this, I guess it means, I'm, well, dead.

The little pauses and equivocations don't bother her, she decides. She doesn't sound scared or sad, just startled by the oddness of it. And it is strange to think of herself dead. She pictures herself for a moment, gray-haired, surrounded by a dozen fat grandchildren. Not bloody likely. When she dies -- this job doesn't offer an if -- she will look much the same as she does now. Perhaps a wrinkle here, a scar there, a souvenir of yet another close call, but she will still be young. She had known nearly from her first day that she would die in this job, maybe even in the Hub. But she had stayed anyway, long after the end of her indentured servitude. She didn't intend to live into her old age; only, she did not want to die silently and suddenly, leaving behind nothing but memories of her anguished screams. She liked things to be neat and orderly and finished. Always had. And this is good, a coda to whatever messy Torchwood death awaits her. Now she will not have to fight her death, struggling to breathe out some hopelessly incomplete goodbye through a crushed trachea or bubbles of blood. She can go quietly, looking into the eyes of someone who loves her -- or at least cares about her, in any case -- and if she has to be alone, she can go in peace.

Hope it was impressive! Not crossing the road or an incident with the toaster.

This is a secret fear of hers. The toaster. It's stupid really, only she lives by herself and always will, and her gran had died that way -- alone and inexplicably, with a broken toaster at her side. The randomness of it bothers her. All the dangerous things she does for Torchwood, and still she could be struck by a lorry tomorrow, or choke to death on a bit of cheese and pickle sandwich. Somehow, she feels she should be exempt from these stupid, senseless deaths and guaranteed one befitting a Torchwood employee. But that is not how the laws of probability work; shooting a rabid alien one day does not make one less likely to be hit by a drunk driver the next. So when she says that she hopes not to be killed by a toaster, she is being funny, and she hopes that Jack and Owen and Susie will smile through their tears. But she also means that just this once, she would like fate to smile on her and make her death part of some larger order, something that could not be brushed away and forgotten, something that will prove once and for all that she really was a part of something.

I just wanted to say, it's okay. It really is.

This is the only part of the tape she watches more than once. Just to remind herself that it is okay. For every action an equal and opposite reaction: she gets all the wonders of the universe, and she gives a long life in exchange. She doesn't regret it, and she wants them all to know. She wants Jack to know.

Jack, you saved me. You showed me all the wonders of the universe and all those possibilities. And I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Thank you.

She isn't talking about Unit. She hadn't wanted to die in prison, of course, but she had needed saving long before that. Somehow she had known, almost since she was born, that she was not made for this world. But she never could find the words for what was missing, and when she fit in so badly, she could not credibly claim that it was the universe that was lacking, not her. But Jack, Jack had understood. Without even talking to her. Without even seeing her. And, at the darkest moment of her life, he had offered her exactly what she needed. There were strings, of course. Video surveillance. A clear understanding that she could, at any time, be transferred back to Unit for no other reason than that Jack did not want her anymore. None of it mattered. She needed a home, and Torchwood was it. She would have sold her soul to be there, and she was grateful that Jack hadn't asked.

And Owen, you never knew. I love you. All of you.

She pauses, reveling in the peace of her certainty: she loves Owen wholly and completely, and he will never know. He deserves that, she thinks. She doesn't know exactly why he is the way he is, but she thinks perhaps someone did not love him enough when he was a child. She doesn't dare hope to make up for that, but somehow she thinks it's the universe bringing things back into balance: he loved a mother and a father silently and deeply when he was young, and they did not return the favor of his devotion. It should have been the other way around, parents loving unconditionally and children taking it for granted. But it wasn't, and now he has something -- someone solid and certain behind him, and it's okay that he never will return those feelings, because she can bear it and go on loving him just the same.

But of course, it isn't only Owen she loves. She would say something to each of them, only, she cannot say for sure who will be there when she dies. Jack will; he survives everything. And Owen, because he looks out for himself and she cannot imagine the possibility of his destruction. But she has to be realistic. The people she knows now might die, and she cannot torture the remaining team with some terribly ironic goodbye to fallen comrades. Worse, she cannot risk leaving out someone important, someone she has not yet met but who will someday mean the world to her. So she settles on "I love you all." She doesn't know who they all are, but she takes on faith that she will love them.

And, I hope I did good.

She has done good. She will do more in whatever time she has left. That, more than anything, is why it really is okay.
Oh, Tosh. I cried when she died. It's been such a long time since I saw that episode, but this fic helps me remember why I was so attached to her.
I know! I was so sad when she died, even though my heart is made of stone and does not release tears while watching television. But yeah, she was an awesome character and her death was beautiful, and I'm glad this fic made you remember that :)
Thank you! That is such a relief because this is my first fic for this fandom, and I really need Toshiko to be a good character in my big bang.
It took me four tries to read this because I kept starting to cry.

Well and beautifully done.

Oh my word her death was sad but her goodby was heartbreaking, I still cant watch that part without getting choked up, this was beautifully done and your Icon is totally gorgeous and totally true.
I like how you've captured Tosh's quiet strength.

I still miss her. Naoko is such a talented actress.
and now he has something -- someone solid and certain behind him, and it's okay that he never will return those feelings, because she can bear it and go on loving him just the same.