Disclaimer: These characters belong to the BBC, not to me.
Notes:
Written for help_japan, for azn_jack_fiend, who wanted Toshiko's funeral plans.


POSTHUMOUS

by Rex Luscus

Jack had told her from the start that Torchwood agents died young. When the other choice had been an eight-by-ten cell for the rest of her life, she hadn't even thought about it. "Dying young" was a distant threat compared to the very real possibility of non-life in solitary confinement. And "young" was so vague. How long did one really need to live, anyway?

It got more real when Suzie died. Tosh didn't regret losing her so much. The first thing Suzie had done to Tosh was extort a confession of her attraction to the team medic, under a promise of intimacy whose cheapness Tosh was too lonely to recognize, and then turn around and sleep with Owen in a manner calculated to ensure Tosh would find out. But Suzie's death, so much more bizarre than Tosh could have anticipated—not just death in the line of duty but madness, disintegration of self, seemingly out of the blue—reminded her of that devil's pact she'd made with Jack. There was a date on it, even if she didn't know exactly when. For months, Suzie's absence sat there like a skull on an alchemist's lectern—memento mori. Don't get too comfortable. And it's not just pain you have to worry about. Something might destroy your soul first, replace you with something else, stain all of existence so that you're glad to die when it happens. A while passed before she could get through the day without obsessing over it.

But then there'd been Tommy, whose death made her want to join him, and Owen, who gave death a whole new terror. And suddenly she was thinking about it again. Her time was soon. She knew there was no rational basis for believing it, but she did, and by now, it didn't bother her as much. The knowledge had settled over her like a layer of ash. It was just a part of her day. And so she made the video, and a few other arrangements. After that, there was nothing left to surprise her.


Dear Ianto, the letter said, and his heart clenched at the familiar hand. So: I want to be buried in the ground. I'm sorry to make this your problem, but I know that if anyone can make it happen, it's you. Love, Tosh.

He wondered how she'd done it. The final log-out had triggered that video; it must also have dropped this letter in the post. He wondered if there were other letters out there, bringing more words from beyond the grave.

Grave. That thing Torchwood agents didn't have. But when a dead woman asked you for something, you "made it happen," as she'd put it. Tosh knew him. Ianto wasn't a man of action; he didn't think much of "doing." But "making things happen"—that was more his style.

He didn't tell Jack or Gwen. As far as they knew, the woman in Tosh's grave was a teenage Weevil victim from Butetown. Ianto had just put one extra twist in their ghoulish coffin shell game when they weren't looking, and Tosh had her spot in the ground.

Afterward, once he'd gone to her funeral and cried in the back while the small remnant of her family buried her in baffled silence, he started to think about her planning it all while she was alive. It gave him vertigo. She'd known she would die then, but only in the abstract. Now, it was real. Time rushed on. He thought of his own death, which he knew would be soon, and for the first time, he felt it as though it had already happened. Somewhere, somewhen, he was already dead. Perhaps it was time to write a letter.