Disclaimer: Don't own, yada, yada, yada. I do this for love of the characters and practise of my craft.

A/N: it occurred to me that Owen's defining moments through S1 & S2, have to do with women. Let me know what you think, please. WARNING: Spoilers thru "Exit Wounds"

He stands in front of the control panel, knowing there's not much time left, and there's no coming back from this. He's saved the city, and he's going to die. It doesn't matter, it's just that there's so much he understands now, but there isn't time enough to say it.


He measures his life in the women he's loved. There's enough ego to feel a sort of macho pride in his attractiveness to women. He isn't the handsomest bloke in the room, but there's a sort of rakishness that girls tend to flock to. They know he's not the kind of man they'll ever take home to mum for Sunday tea, and it excites them. He isn't the kind of lover who gives of himself, but that same macho pride means he never sends a girl away without giving her a damn good time. Shagging is easy, intimacy is hard, and he doesn't do intimacy- most of the time. Gwen understood that, and didn't want it anyway. What Gwen wanted, Gwen got: bloody fantastic shag, with someone who understood the darkness they all carried with them every damn day. They went at it like rabbits for months, before the guilt started to eat away at her like acid. She's never forgiven him for being the one she turned to. He knows that for her, if she was going to be unfaithful to Rhys, it should have been with Jack. He loves that about her, the need for absolutes, and the way she rages at the gray zones that make up reality when you live on the Rift.

He measures his life in the women he's lost. His mother, who claimed to love him; while at the same time making it crystal clear that she didn't much like him. The last nice thing she ever did for him, was packing his bags on his 16th birthday. He'd been glad to be shot of her, but making his way in London, alone…he wished he hadn't had to be glad of it. Katie, so young and full of life- until the memory loss began. The rapid disintegration of his beautiful girl like a melting candle: burning so bright, only to be snuffed out in an instant. When he'd joined Torchwood, it had taken months to open up to anyone, even the tiniest bit. Suzie had coaxed him, and she'd been like a firework, blazing out of control. She'd never been easy, but as the nightmares and obsession twisted her into someone he couldn't recognise, she became impossible. Her suicide on the Plass was only the visible destruction of a brilliant, gorgeous woman. There is still the brutal ache in his chest when he remembers watching Diane, as she soared off into the Rift. She loved him, just not enough to stay, even when he'd begged her. Showing her the world, had given him a reason to look at all the things he loved about this mad, absurd planet again. He hasn't forgiven her for that, yet.

He measures his life, in the women who loved him. Katie did, until she forgot him. Diane did, but couldn't break the pull of the vast sky. She is always there, always waiting.

Toshiko, the quiet one, who comforts all of them, yet accepts none for herself. She's loved him from almost the moment they met. He's always known he doesn't deserve her. Every once in a while, he has dreams of her and a ginger bloke; she's happy, and confident, and looks at this git the way she looks at him in the waking world... The dreams frighten him, because he sees the way he is in them- nothing. In his dreams he needs her, and she knows it, and it means nothing to her. He understands that after these dreams, he's an even bigger prick than usual. Somehow, he thinks that she can see the need in him, which won't do at all

He measures his life, in the women who needed him. Katie, Suzie, Gwen, the memory of a murdered girl, Tosh, lost in the past, Diane, and Martha Jones. He knows he did the right thing, even if it was bloody stupid. Maggie, she needed him. Toshiko needs him, but it isn't the same- she's braver than she thinks; smarter than she believes, and it isn't so much needing him, as wanting him to be the one to see who she is. Jack has always seen it, and he hates him for showing him how much he's failed her.

He measures his life and his death by the women who have defined him in ways both good and bad. His mum led him to Katie, Katie led him to Torchwood. Suzie and Gwen, and Diane led him to the edge. Torchwood led him to Toshiko Sato, and she led him back to himself. No matter how many times he pushed her away, no matter how many times he made an arse of himself, or raged at what his life had become- she always led him back.

She was always there. He shrugged off the words she'd spoken as he lay dying, because he couldn't believe that after everything, she still saw a man worth loving, in Owen Harper. He wouldn't believe it; belief carried too high a cost.

He measures his life, and death, by what he learnt too late.

He measures his life, and now he's counting down the seconds because it's almost done. He rages at the injustice of it, at being lost in the darkness, only to find the light and then lose it again. He rages because he can't find the words to tell her everything he's always known, but only just understood. Then the raging stops.

"…Because you're breaking my heart…"

He measures his life by the woman who loved the man she saw in him, instead of the man he pretended to be. The woman, who never left him, never shunned him, except in his dreams, and who even now…even now she's trying to help him let go of a half-life he didn't want, but doesn't want to lose. This is the only gift he can give her- life. She'll live, and she'll know, as she's always known: he's too much of a frightened boy to tell her he loves her. Yet, he does love her, more than anything, including this frenzied existence. He measures his life through her eyes, the good and bad and for just this once, he doesn't come up wanting. The life and death of Owen Harper finally has meaning. This is his last full measure of devotion.


This is the last measure of the man Owen Harper has become: he lets go; lets the darkness take him, for her.