A Torchwood Family/Hurt/Comfort Fanfic
Immortal men who've seen more than their fair share of loss aren't the only ones to have nightmares about their pasts. Anna is no different from anyone else, but she has her own dreams. These are some of hers.
Rated T for mostly morbid themes.
Disclaimer: RTD owns Torchwood, not me. I own any and everything relating to Annalily Harpwell (except her major boyfriend). Moonshine is mine; its trademark strawberry pastries are mine.
A/N: I can't remember why I started writing this. It was some time ago, and I basically just sat down and had the first dream, and then the dreams just flowed and flowed and boom! I have a fair bit of character-development on Anna's part. What was originally intended to explain her mother's death instead explains her dislike of the name Jamie.
Also, one reference to SLTT(2): When Everything Changes, and spoiler ruining the ambiguity of who the father is.
The name Desiree is not insignificant. It was the name my birthmother gave me. Except, her spelling, according to my mum, was "Dessirree." I'm going back and forth between whether or not I like the spelling "Desirree", but I definitely think the two Ss are unnecessary.
"Good morning, sweetheart."
Anna sat up and blinked rapidly. No one she knew, or no one she knew at this point in her timeline, called her sweetheart. Familiar blue eyes greeted her.
Familiar blue eyes that she hadn't seen in quite a few years by her timeline. "Mum?" she whispered. "You're – but you were – you – you–"
Her mother's laugh interrupts her stammering. "What did you think happened?"
"You..." Anna begins again. "You..."
"What is it, Anna?"
Anna frowns. Her mother never called her Anna. That was why she chose the name Anna. It wasn't the name her mother adored so.
"You're dead," Anna whispers.
Her mother smiles. At first it is a gentle smile, but it transform into a horrible grin and then from the horrible grin, her supple skin fades into the grotesque image that Anna remembers of the last time she saw her mother. And then, it fades further, fades from the dying woman to the preserved facade that they buried, and then into the skeleton that Anna knows exists somewhere below the ground on Moonshine.
* * *
She is running. She is not twenty-five years old anymore, but eight and terrified. Her mum is sick. Really sick. Bad sick. Daddy told her not to go in the room, the room where Mum was getting better, but she did anyway. She loves Mum. So she went in to see her. But Mum didn't look like Mum. She looked like a monster. Scary face, scary skin.
She is ten and still running. Mum looks better, but Jamie is smart enough to know that she isn't better. She's heard Daddy and Mum talking, saying things that Jamie isn't supposed to hear. She heard them discussing what will happen when she's gone. Mum, not Jamie. Mum won't last much longer. She'll die eventually.
She is thirteen now and running, running, running for ever and ever. Mum is gone, and is never coming back.
She is dead and Jamie looked at the corpse, the one they preserved and put in a wooden box like they did in olden times. Daddy told her that would be okay, but it wasn't. It didn't look like she remembered Mum. It just looked wrong.
So she ran, and ran, and ran, and will never, ever, go back.
* * *
She runs out of the tunnel and is still thirteen, still fifteen, still a teenager who doesn't know what she's doing with her life. She knows she's going to travel now, travel through space and time. But she has still to mature some, and get older, before she can strike out on her own.
She has emerged in a 51st Century shopping centre. A specific shopping centre, on commercial Moonshine.
There is a distinct smell of strawberry pastries that she has never before associated with this memory.
As she watches from afar, the nineteen-year-old her materialises out of thin air and is swept into the arms of–
No, that's not right, the teenage her thinks, though it makes no sense that she should know what's right and what isn't.
She turns and runs back towards the tunnel, back to where the tunnel was. Back to some sort of safety.
Even if safety is terrifying.
* * *
This time, she does not emerge from the tunnel but is simply out of it. She is in the Time Agency Academy. In the dorm that her father is paying for. Sitting on the bed that her step-mother's money bought. Waiting for the roommate that the Agency chose.
A girl almost as tall as her brother Rex comes in. She is sturdily built, muscled, definitely sports-minded. Someone her brother would like. "Hi!" the new girl says. "I'm Violetann, but you can call me Vy."
Violetann. Mum's name.
"You must be Jamie."
No. Jamie's Mum's daughter. Mum's dead. I can't hear Mum in everything I do anymore. Her name's reminder enough.
"Annalily," she replies. "Or just Anna. Jamie reminds me too much of my dead mum."
"I'm sorry," Vy says, though she doesn't seem it. "Anna it is, then."
She is again the young teenager watching herself meet Jack.
"Jamie Annalily Harpwell, but don't call me Jamie," the older Anna tells him.
Jamie's Mum's daughter.
Mum can't be dead.
Mum looks wrong. No, she's sick. No, she's a skeleton. No, she's standing right in front of me. No, she's dead, DEAD! But there she stands, perfectly healthy as Anna can't remember her, ten times healthier than any memory Anna has.
"Jamie, I have something to tell you."
Anna turns and runs.
* * *
She is a young child. Young, quite young. Six, or maybe seven. Maybe, though probably not, maybe eight years old. "We should have called you Anna," Mum says.
Jamie doesn't like the name Anna. She is Jamie, not Anna. Anna is her friend, who lives across the street. Anna likes dolls. Jamie likes reading.
"My name is Jamie."
"You don't like the name Anna?"
"Anna is Anna. Not me."
Mum smiles at her. "You're my Jamie."
* * *
She is thirteen years old. Her mother is dying. But her mother is already dead, and she has met Jack and has a child of her own.
But she is thirteen years old and her mother is dying. What does time matter to one who travels throughout it, anyway?
Jamie's mum is dying. She stands with Rex, holding his hand. He is eleven, and acts like he's the coolest thing at school. But here, he is standing in front of Mum and he seems to be ten, nine, eight years old. Turning into a child before her eyes. Because he can't handle Mum dying like a grownup.
Jamie doesn't think she can, either. "Jamie, I have something to tell you," Mum says. Rex has gone. The two of them are alone. Mum whispers. She is going to die soon. Anna knows that this is the last thing she ever said to her. Jamie knows Mum will die soon but she doesn't want that to happen so she pretends that she doesn't know. Maybe that way, Mum won't die so soon. Maybe.
Anna watches from afar, crying in Jack's arms over the lost memories of her mother.
* * *
"I want you to know that I'll always be here for you," Mum says. Jamie is not even six years old and Mum tells her this.
"I want you to know that I'll always love you," Mum says. Jamie is six or seven years old. Something bad happened, something that made Jamie say that Mum didn't love her. But Mum loves her. Always.
"I want you to know that I'll always support you," Mum says. Jamie is eight years old and she just tried something new, something that some of her friends didn't like. They stopped being her friends. Mum never will.
"I want you to know that I'll always trust you," Mum says. Jamie is ten years old and going to a party on her own. It's around the corner and three streets down, and Mum is letting Jamie walk there on her own. Jamie doesn't realise how much she will enjoy this freedom later.
"I want you to know that I'll always get you whatever you need," Mum says. Jamie is eleven and she knows they are going through a tough time. Mum can't work when she's sick. But she makes sure Jamie is happy.
"I want you to know that I'll always be thankful for you," Mum says. Jamie is twelve and Mum is sick, and Jamie has been helpful when Mum can't be.
* * *
"I love you, Jamie," Mum says. She is sick. She is dying. She is on her death bed. And Jamie has come up next to her, and holds her hand, and tries to tell her with her eyes that she's not allowed to die, not now, not ever. "I've loved you as long as I've known you. I've loved you for always. My always won't last much longer. Remember me for always, and that always will last much longer."
And Mum's hand that was gripping Jamie's so tightly slips from her grasp. Jamie slips down into darkness, down into despair. She doesn't know what to do.
So she runs.
* * *
She runs, and runs, and runs. She is running into the tunnel, and she bursts out into the light as Anna, twenty-five years old and pregnant.
She is meeting the family that will raise her beautiful daughter under a 21st Century alias.
She is writing letters to her daughter, to her daughter's family three years into the girl's future.
She is watching her daughter from afar.
She is regretting her decision to give her daughter up.
* * *
She turns to Jack.
"Stop dragging me away from our daughter."
* * *
The voice is soft and far away. Anna doesn't want to leave. She is trying to convince Jack that they should take back their daughter. Where is Jack? He was just here.
"Anna, wake up."
She is awake. She is – her daughter isn't here, either! Where is everyone? They were here a second ago. Jack, and their daughter – just there. See the resemblance?
She was startled from sleep, her dream still fresh in her memory. She rubbed her eyes.
"What were you dreaming about?" Jack asked.
"My mum," Anna said heavily. Jack frowned, looking her right in the eye.
"Really?" he replied. "Because you were saying my name and telling me to stop."
"Well," she began, but didn't continue.
She took a breath. "Desiree."