Title: The First Step Is The Hardest
Characters: Tosh, Jack
Summary: Leaving the UNIT prison turns out to be harder than Tosh expected.
Word Count: 550
Written For: My own prompt ‘Torchwood, Toshiko Sato, After being freed from the UNIT prison, she's scared of open spaces,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Locked away in a UNIT prison, Tosh had believed she would never know freedom again, that she’d spend the rest of her life, short as it might be, confined in her tiny, bare cell. Exercise period, spent chained to other inmates and walking around the covered yard, was as close to being outside as she was ever likely to get.
Then he came, Captain Jack Harkness, and he promised her freedom if she would only sign on with his organisation for five years. The commitment was a small price to pay; she accepted his offer willingly, even eagerly. For the first time in she didn’t know how long, she felt hope, optimism; she had a future and it was bright.
She wanted out of prison, longed for the open sky above her, but when the time came for her to leave, she found herself on the verge of panic. She stopped dead in the doorway, looking out at the wide world beyond the prison walls, and she couldn’t make herself take that first step. She felt like crying at the unfairness of it all; she was so close to freedom yet it seemed further away than ever, all because of a sudden, irrational fear.
“I can’t do it,” she whispered, her voice shaking. “It’s too much, too big!”
“It’s okay, Toshiko.” Strong arms wrapped around her and held her close, comforting and kind. “What you’re feeling is a natural reaction after being locked up for so long, but it will get easier, I promise. It’ll just take time and patience and belief in yourself.”
“I’m not sure I have any.”
“Then I’ll teach you to believe in yourself. There’s nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it. You’re free, Toshiko, it’s only your fear keeping you prisoner now, and fear can be overcome. Trust me. I know.”
How could he be so kind? He didn’t even know her, and she didn’t know him either. Could she trust someone who was almost a total stranger? It didn’t seem she had much choice, it was either that or going back to the tiny cell she’d only just left, and that didn’t bear thinking about.
“Okay, I’ll try.”
“That’s all anyone can ask. I want you to close your eyes.”
Tosh did as she was told. Warm hands closed around her own and tugged gently.
“Now come with me.”
Eyes still tightly shut against the outside world, she let Captain Harkness lead her out of the building and across the open space to where he’d parked. She breathed a sigh of relief as he helped her into his car. It was surprising how much safer she felt once the doors were closed. She used to feel uncomfortable in small spaces, but now they made her feel secure. Would she ever be able to step outside again without fear and enjoy the feel of sunlight on her face, the wind in her hair? It seemed impossible.
And yet, if she let her fear of open spaces rule her, she would be trapping herself in a prison of her own making, and then what would be the point of being free?
She made up her mind. “I can beat this,” she said firmly, “and I’m never going to be a prisoner again.”