Characters: Tosh, Tommy Brockless, Owen.
Spoilers: To The Last Man.
Summary: Tommy Brockless saved the world. He was a hero, even if only a handful of people would ever know.
Word Count: 1079
Written For: Prompt 004 – Victory at fandomweekly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
I lean on the railing near the Norwegian church, staring out across the choppy waters of Cardiff Bay, slate grey beneath the clouds. The wind keeps blowing my hair into my eyes, but it seems like too much of an effort to do anything about it. Let it do whatever it chooses. What does it matter? I’m too tired and my heart aches too much for me to care about anything as insignificant as the weather.
I’m not sure what it is that’s drawn me back here, or on second thoughts, maybe I am; this was one of the places we visited when I brought Tommy out of the Hub to see the sights and breathe the fresh air, was it only yesterday? So much has happened since then it feels like forever ago.
It was raining then too, but that’s Cardiff for you. Back then, the rain couldn’t dampen our mood; Tommy was so eager to see and experience everything about the world of today, a world so utterly different from the time he’d grown up in, but now the weather reflects the way I feel. There’s a weight on my heart, sadness, yes, but guilt too. Tommy was sweet, and kind, and so brave, but I betrayed him. Maybe I didn’t have any choice, maybe there was no way I could have changed the past even if I’d tried, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about what I did. It’s something I’ll just have to learn to live with, but that’s going to take time. Right now it just… hurts.
I know what Jack would tell me, that I did the right thing, that I did good, that we succeeded and saved the day, all the days between then and now, all of the past and the future. We kept two time periods from trying to manifest simultaneously, kept time linear, the way it should be, everything happening in the order it’s meant to, and that is a good thing. I don’t need Jack to tell me that, but… What did our victory cost? For us, nothing really, but for Tommy?
I should have been able to find another way, a way that didn’t involve sending him back to 1918, some way for him to use the Rift key at this end of the fracture instead of at his end. There simply wasn’t enough time, which is ironic. Decades between then and now, and all we had was a few short hours. Not long enough to work out a solution to a complex problem bridging two distinct periods of time, just long enough to give Tommy a bit of happiness, something good to remember, even though he wouldn’t, not once he was back in his own time.
Just long enough for me to start falling for him despite Owen’s warnings. Am I so desperate to have love in my life that I’ll fall for anyone, even a frozen soldier I only got to spend one day a year with? But Tommy was handsome, and gallant, a real gentleman, and he liked me. He was so young though; too young, despite being born in 1894. Only twenty-four and burdened with such a terrible responsibility. Is it possible to love someone you’ve only know for four days, spread out over four years? Or is it just that I felt bad for him, knowing he’d soon be sent back to the life he knew before, shell-shocked and hospitalised?
He trusted me, and I repaid him by sending him back to his death, to be executed for cowardice like so many other shell-shocked soldiers. How is that right?
It’s easy to say he would have faced the firing squad anyway, even if he hadn’t been ripped out of his life and frozen just so he could be returned to the past and stitch the tear in time back together again. Easy to justify what we did as the only possible course of action, because if time had torn apart, nobody would have had much of a life. But Tommy wasn’t just a thing to be used and discarded; he was a living, feeling, wonderful person, and he deserved better. He deserved a life, and a future, maybe a wife and children. If we hadn’t sent him back, maybe he could have had all that here, in the future.
Is his death my fault for sending him back to 1918, or should the blame lie with the Torchwood team back then? If they took him from the hospital and froze him once, couldn’t they have done it again to save his life? Or they could have recruited him after he did what they needed him to do. They could have done something, prevented him from being sent to the frontlines again, but they didn’t, and it’s not fair! He wasn’t a coward; he was a hero, and he should have been treated like one!
I can feel raindrops running down my face, or are they tears? When did I start crying, standing here staring out to sea?
I’m so sorry, Tommy. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you, I’m sorry I had to lie to you, but I’m not sorry I knew you; I could never be sorry about that. I wouldn’t trade the four days we had for anything, and I’ll never forget you. I promise.
I don’t know when Owen joined me, leaning on the railings by my side, but he’s here now and… I guess I’m glad. Maybe I’m not the only one who’ll remember Tommy and everything he did for us.
“He trusted me right to the end,” I tell Owen, because I feel like I should say something.
“Because you were strong. All of this is still here because of you.”
Owen’s wrong about that, I can’t take the credit; I really didn’t do anything. “Because of Tommy. Let's hope we're worth it.”
Tommy’s sacrifice can’t be for nothing. All the people alive today wouldn’t be here without him. He was my brave, handsome hero, he saved the world, and nobody outside of Torchwood will ever know.
Goodbye, Tommy Brockless, you won a great victory and I’m so proud of you; it was an honour and a privilege to know you.
As I walk away through the rain I have no idea where I’m going; maybe I’ll just walk for a while, but I think maybe I’m going to be okay. Not right now, but eventually.