Companion to 'and there was evening'. Different styles, different characters, but ultimately covering the same ideas. Spoilers for 'Children Of Earth'.

Disclaimer: Torchwood is not mine.

we came so far to lose our looking-glasses

I Can't Stand To Look At Her Anymore

The way you say goodbye means little to you; it means less to her. The hug is perfunctory, the whisper mechanical. You are doing this because it means no-one can hold you to account; you did what was expected.

And when you place your arms around her, you both know you're thinking of another time. Where she curled into your side, the wind whipping her hair into her face as you looked over the Bay together.

You can't think about the Bay now.

All too soon, your thoughts turn to Ianto. Your arms wrapped around him, never quite being able to say what he wanted to hear. But maybe that's for the best - at least then he had no more to lose than when the 'relationship' started.

As the helicopter pulls away and you stand with your hands tied, you see her face, and she looks so tired. You remember another time, when another person wore that expression and you can't quite recall whether it was Suzie or the mirror.

I Can't Stand To Look At Her Anymore.

She is in front of you, pleading - don't break my heart again. You have been gone for far too long, and yet you feel exactly the same. And she is so disgustingly hopeful, belly full of new life and eyes full of stars, and isn't ironic, isn't it just fucking fantastic, that now of all times there is a child born to Torchwood?

And it comes far too late. Too much death, and so much guilt, and you can't remember the last time you felt this filthy. Scrubbing your hands until they're raw, boiling pits of lava and endless dark seas, and none of it matters because you come back exactly the same. Untouchable.

You can't help but notice, when you ask what to come back for, that the last time they had the conversation you were coming back for her. And she thinks the same trick will work this time - her answer is an unflinching me, the kind she never had to think about because the answer was obvious.

It's too much, rather than not enough. Because yes, you would come back for her, and yes you would die a million times over and make it stick just so that she can continue to go shopping and have breakfast and do all those other pointless little things that make her human. But you can't stay for her. Not this time.

You saw it. That frightened little girl who had never touched a gun now shoots with elegance, with arrogance. She has taken too much of you to heart and now you have to run, because if you couldn't save Gray, Suzie, Tosh, Owen, Ianto, how can you save her?

And you have to save her. She's the only one left.

Now you know why your Doctor runs. He loves humanity too much to make an attempt to join it.

You leave, and she stays.

I Can't Stand To Look At Her Anymore.

No. You can't look at her for the same reason you shatter mirrors.

You'll only see yourself.