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ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

After Mary
By ralst


Toshiko watched as Jack made his way through the darkness back towards the street entrance to the hub. He looked so dashing, his broad shoulders and muscular build enhanced by the bulk of his military jacket, just as the swishing of the coattails brought to mind various super heroes from her childhood comic books. A man of mystery who should have infused her with wonder, trust and desire but, despite everything, left her feeling alone and empty.

It wasn't Jack's fault. He'd never been able to connect with any of them, not really, even though it had seemed for a while as if Gwen might have broken through his vast layers of enigma. Not that he hadn't tried to offer comfort, in his own way, but she wasn't sure anyone could make her forget the voices and horrors she had heard over the past few days.

Damn Mary. Damn her and the secrets she revealed. Whoever had said 'ignorance is bliss' could very well have met the alien seductress in a previous life. Before Mary had come into her life she had been okay. Fine. All right. Before Mary she hadn't felt her heart ripped to shreds by jealousy, pain, disgust, empathy and love. Before Mary her world had been bearable.

Leaving the solitude of her bench, Toshiko began to wander the streets, being sure to stay within the brightly lit confines of the more travelled areas of the city. Looking into windows and overhearing the laughter that spilled out onto the street she was tempted, almost, to venture inside and lose herself amongst the crowds. All the milling people whose thoughts she could no longer hear but whose duplicity and secrets she could still sense beneath the surface. Her final gift from Mary, total and absolute distrust of her fellow man.

Heading away from the crowds Toshiko began the short trek back to her flat and the relative peace it could provide. Not the peace of forgetting, she knew that much, the traces of Mary's presence and her moments of ignorant bliss would be all too obvious. The unmade bed, empty bottle of wine, lipstick smeared cup, all ready and waiting to mock her once she returned. The foolishness of her feelings laid bare. But at least she would be gifted with the peace of solitude and an escape from knowing or accusing eyes.

Owen's hostility she could almost tolerate. The feelings she had, so recently, harboured for the man had been smothered and destroyed by the pendant and its revelations. With Gwen it was different. Shame had easily eaten away at her jealousy but it had left in its place a trace of fear. Not the normal kind she faced, day in and day out, working for Torchwood but something new. The fear of being discovered and understood.

"Love suited you."

At that moment, as she'd listened to Gwen's words and seen the look of pity and understanding in her eyes, she'd wanted to join Mary in oblivion. Not because of any Shakespearean idea of starcrossed lovers but as a means of escape from what Gwen's knowing might mean.

For a few short days she had allowed herself to take a chance and, however messed up and manipulative, she had taken her first taste of what if felt like to be in love.

And she hated it.

The End

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