Characters: Owen, Katie, Jack.
Word Count: 711
Summary: When he lost Katie, Owen discovered that he wasn’t as tough as he’d always thought.
Written For: Challenge # 198: Glass at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Owen had always considered himself tough, strong, resilient, even unbreakable. He’d grown up the hard way, living with his mother, a cold, unfeeling woman who drank too much, in one of the gloomy little flats high up in a tower block in one of the poorest parts of London. It hadn’t been an auspicious start to life.
Because he was small and weedy, he’d been a favourite target for bullies in school until he’d learned to fight back, and even when at the age of sixteen his mum had kicked him out of the only home he’d ever known, he hadn’t given up. Despite all his disadvantages, he’d worked hard to get good grades in his exams, had earned his scholarship to medical school, and had got a job to pay his living expenses while he studied, dreaming of becoming a famous surgeon.
Most mothers would have been proud of their son’s success, but not his. Owen didn’t care; he’d done it for himself, not for her, proving once again how strong he was. Everything had finally been going his way; he’d been a third year resident, with his own flat and a wonderful, beautiful, amazing fiancée. They’d been planning their wedding and their future together when it had all abruptly and horribly fallen apart.
Katie’s sudden illness, rapid decline, and subsequent death had shattered his heart like glass. Not the toughened glass used in windows and doors that breaks unwillingly and then only into pieces, but the most fragile blown glass of the delicate ornaments his mum used to lavish her affection on, the kind that disintegrates into tiny, razor-sharp splinters and can never be put back together again. Who could have known that his tough exterior concealed something so easily breakable?
His life, his whole world, in pieces, Owen had wanted to hate the cocky American with his flouncy, flappy coat and too-wide smile. The bastard should’ve saved Katie, but he hadn’t. It wasn’t fair. One look in the man’s eyes though and he’d seen right through him, as transparent as any window. This man had known losses too, seen people he loved die and not been able to do anything about it. He understood Owen better than anyone else could, and a little part of Owen felt bitterly satisfied that he wasn’t the only one suffering the pain of a shattered heart. It didn’t mean he liked Captain Jack Harkness, it was too much like looking at a mirror refection of his own grief, but he accepted the job the man offered him anyway. Why not? It wasn’t like he had anything better to do, and misery loves company.
There was another reason too. He and the Captain were alike; two men with shattered glass hearts, except Harkness had started putting his back together again, fragment by tiny fragment. If he could do it then perhaps so could Owen, it was just probably going to take him the rest of his life. Fighting aliens, helping people, saving the lives of someone else’s loved ones, at least gave him somewhere to start, and being in another city, away from all the places that stirred memories of Katie, would maybe help too.
The booze and the one-night stands probably weren’t healthy ways of dealing with the pain of the glass shards constantly shifting inside his chest, slicing into his lungs with every breath, but it was his life; he’d live it his way, for better or worse. Right now it was mostly for worse, and yet he had to believe that someday it might get better, if he lived long enough to get to that point.
Were glass hearts stronger after they’d been broken and mended, or were they always just as fragile? He could’ve asked Jack, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer. It was a moot point anyway because he’d never risk loving again, not the way he’d loved his Katie. She was the love of his life and he wouldn’t tarnish her memory by falling for someone else. Even if he someday managed to put it back together, no matter how much he slept around he vowed to stay true to Katie where it counted, in the depths of his poor, battered glass heart.