Title: Stranded On Halloween – Chapter 3
Characters: Owen, special guest
Word Count: 1280
Summary: It’s Owen’s turn to be haunted.
Written For: Challenge #98: Haunted at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Owen woke with a start, sure he’d just heard Katie calling him. Rolling onto his back, he lay in the flickering light from the candles and fire, listening intently.
There it was again! He snorted to himself. What was he thinking? He didn’t believe in ghosts. But it really had sounded like Katie. Maybe he was dreaming. Yes; that had to be it. He’d just go and see what Katie wanted; it was always good to see her in dreams, even though his heart just about broke afterwards. Time enough to be sad later, he wasn’t going to miss the chance to see her. Slipping out from under his blanket, he pulled on his clothes, thankfully just about dry by now, then snatched up the blanket and wrapped it around him. He picked up one of the candelabra and tiptoed out of the parlour, pulling the door to behind him.
It was dark in the long hallway, but he could see a faint glow down the far end so he headed quickly towards it, somehow knowing that was where he’d find his Katie. Well, that was the way it was with dreams, right? You just knew stuff without knowing how.
At the end of the hall, he turned left into a massive old kitchen. There were dry leaves piled in corners, the windows were broken but overgrown shrubs blocked them, gnarled branches poking through the gaps and effectively keeping most of the storm outside. Katie was wandering around, examining everything. Owen wasn’t really surprised to find her in a kitchen; she’d loved to bake, had even talked about baking their wedding cake when he’d first proposed.
“Just look at all this!” She gestured around herself, eyes wide and sparkling with delight. “I would’ve loved a kitchen like this. Well, not exactly like it, it would need to be modernised, but the size! Just think what we could’ve done with all this space!”
“Our whole flat would’ve fit in here,” Owen laughed, caught up in her enthusiasm.
“These old houses were built on a grand scale. Wouldn’t want to have to clean it though.” She wrinkled her nose. “Too much like hard work.”
“Oh, so that’s why you always made me wash the dishes after your baking sessions.”
“Fair division of labour, Doctor Harper. One bakes, the other cleans up. You always got rewarded.”
That was true. Katie’s cakes and biscuits were delicious. If she hadn’t insisted that they go jogging, it wouldn’t have been long before none of their clothes fit.
“You look gorgeous,” he told her.
“I wanted to look my best for you.” She turned serious. “Owen, you have to stop. All the getting drunk and getting laid, it’s not good for you. I worry. You’re throwing your life away one night at a time and it hurts so much to see you like that. I’ve been gone more than four years now; isn’t it time you moved on?”
“What if I don’t want to move on? Katie, you’re all I ever wanted! How can I just forget that? Forget you?”
“I’m not asking you to forget, but there’s more to life than one night stands. You deserve better. I know you think you don’t, that you should have been able to save me, but you’re wrong. You’re a good man, Owen Harper, and a great doctor. You should have a family, the life we used to dream of.”
Owen was shaking his head. “It wouldn’t be the same, Katie. Not without you! We had so many plans. Why did that thing have to kill you? Why couldn’t it have been me instead?”
“Because you are a better doctor than I ever could have been. The world needed you.”
“And I needed you! I still need you!” He turned away, pacing the length of the room and staring sightlessly at the tangled twigs that blocked the windows, leaves turned autumn colours.
“Owen, look at me.”
Reluctantly he turned. She was standing a few feet behind him, though he hadn’t heard her approach. His heart ached at the sight of her, face stern and arms folded. It was her ‘no nonsense’ look; he always gave in to that look.
“I was unlucky, in the wrong place at the wrong time, and yeah, when I could think clearly I was angry at the way my life seemed to be falling apart just when everything was perfect. But there was nothing you or anyone else could do. I doubt even your Torchwood could have saved me. I died, but you’re still here. Please, Owen, don’t waste the life you’ve got. She loves you, you know, and you barely even give her the time of day. The girls you waste your nights on, they can’t give you what you need, but she could, if you’d just let her.”
“Who’re you talkin’ about?” Owen sounded defensive, even to his own ears.
“Don’t give me that, Harper. You know exactly who I’m talking about. Toshiko.”
“You like her. More than you let on, I think. You just don’t believe you deserve her love. But you know what? It doesn’t matter what you believe. She believes you deserve her love, and nothing you do is going to change her mind. So stop pushing her away. Let her in and maybe then you’ll finally allow your heart to heal. You’ve mourned me long enough, Owen. It hurts me to see the way you’re wasting your life. I want to be able to stop worrying about you all the time and I can’t do that until I know you’ve got someone to take care of you. Lord knows you’ve never been good at taking care of yourself. Have you even learned to cook yet?”
Owen dropped his gaze to the floor, shuffling his feet. Katie gave a snort of laughter.
“Thought not. Still living on takeaways and ready meals I suppose. You’re hopeless.” She was silent for so long, he looked up quickly, thinking she must have gone, but she was just watching him, a sad but gentle smile on her face.
“Give her a chance, Owen. Please. For me?”
He couldn’t deny her anything when she looked at him like that.
“Okay, I’ll give her a chance, take her on a date or something. No promises though. No one could ever take your place.”
“There’s room in your heart for more than one love; you don’t have to stop loving me to love someone else. One day the whole of humanity will realise that and stop beating themselves up for moving on after losing someone they still love. Every love is different, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be just as special. I still love you, dying hasn’t changed that. It’s why I want you to be happy with someone else, so you can have love in your life again with someone who can love you back in all the ways you need. Maybe Toshiko will be the one, maybe she won’t, but you have to start somewhere. You’ve buried your head in the sand too long already. Time you took another look at the world.”
“I guess you’re right. It’s just so hard.”
“Nothing worth having is ever easy. That’s what mum used to say, and she was always right. Be well and happy, Owen.”
“I’ll try. I love you.”
“You too. Bye, Owen.”
Even as she turned away she was fading and before he could even blink she was gone from sight.
“Goodbye, Katie love,” he sighed. Pulling his blanket tighter against the chill, he made his way slowly out of the kitchen, heading back to the front of the house.