Title: And All We Need Of Hell
Pairings/Characters: Suzie Costello, Gwen Cooper
Summary: Suzie knows she never would've liked Gwen, and now there's only moments between them before she can find the way she was before Torchwood ruined her.
Author's Note: Thought of one paragraph ages ago, and finally decided to try to write something around it. Title from a poem by Emily Dickinson. Thank you to snarkymuch for betaing!
Gwen has big innocent eyes and a grin that’s too bright for the grey stained walls of Torchwood. Suzie hates her. She glares up at the woman standing at Jack’s elbow, her replacement in every way. She can see how Gwen hasn’t seen enough yet. Her gaze is still too soft. Suzie’s seen darkness and the twisting maw of despair and she knows that Gwen won’t last long with her, that she’ll have to work fast.
“They’re not that bad,” Gwen says in the car, tilting her head to see through the rearview mirror. “And this job, I like it. It’s new and different. I’m not breaking up pub fights or poking bums to get them off the street.”
“It certainly is different,” Suzie agrees. She’s looking out the window to avoid looking at her replacement. They’re nothing alike and Suzie can’t stand it. There’s nothing but light in Gwen’s expression.
Thirty minutes later and they’re having a whole different sort of discussion. Gwen has tears in her eyes and Suzie can’t decide whether to be satisfied that she put them their because of the pain or because of the admission that there’s nothing but blackness waiting for everyone.
“There can’t be nothing,” Gwen insists after a time. “There can’t be. What about ghosts? What about religion? It just cancels all that out?”
Suzie decides not to mention how the darkness is crawling with things, crawling with deeper darkness, a thicker black, all the parts of the mind that scrape the barrel of terror and disgust and twisted. She remembers how she recognized the shape of the thing moving in the dark; she knew the shape of her own mind.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“It has to matter. We’ve all been doing this for nothing, then. All this hurt and pain and killing, nothing. We’re hurting people and creatures for no reason. I hate it. All of them, they’d hate it.”
Suzie scoffs and looks out the window again. She can’t understand how this girl has been working for Torchwood since she died and still doesn’t see how fucked up and twisted everyone in the organization is. How you have to be the kind of person who delights in pulling the wings off of flies, then falls into a depression three days later because of it. How you have to be so messed up that the most beautiful things hurt and the ugliest creations are beautiful because of how much they remind you that things can get worse.
“It’s not about what matters when you die. Life matters. Outlive everyone else, that’s the point. Stay alive and cling to each other in the dark and don’t let the horrible things drive you mad or eat you alive.”
“I already feel like I’m going mad.” Gwen rubs her temple with a hand.
“You are. This job, it starts in on you the moment you walk in there.”
“What about you?”
Suzie shrugs. “I tried to stay alive. Obviously, it didn’t work. This job is the worst thing that ever happened to me. It was killing me.”
Gwen looks at her, eyes big and scared with memory. “It did kill you. And then you came back.”
“Our lessons scarcely done.”
“Poetry. Emily Dickinson. I used to like to read.”
Gwen looks like she’s been slapped. “Don’t say it like that.”
“It’s true.” She shrugs. The mystery of death holds nothing for her. It’s easy to speak in the past tense because the parts of her that weren’t ripped out when she was young have been festering for far too long to ever say that she’s still herself. “I’m not who I used to be. Torchwood changes you.”
There’s a black hole yawning in front of her future and back behind her, Torchwood and her father’s eyes are intertwined in terror, and she’s not sure which one of them pushed her to death, which one tore everything that was left out of her. She wishes that she could feel bad about killing Gwen, wishes she could hurt at the slow demise of the woman beside her, but she’s pretty sure that ability dried up long ago, and the memory of her own twisted mind staring back at her in the dark terrifies her in a way that she doesn’t want to think about. Life is the better option, and it’s all that matters. She can do it over again, try something new, find whatever part of her that’s missing that made her like this.
“Nearly there,” Gwen announces, teeth gritted, blinking away tears.
“Yes,” Suzie nods. “Nearly there.”