The other day, I was thinking about Discworld and how completely fantastic it is, and I remembered the existence of Reg Shoe's support group for the undead. Seeing as Owen has some pretty serious issues, particularly after his death, I thought he could use all the support he could get.
Warning, contains language, because it's about Owen
Disclaimer, I own neither Discworld nor Torchwood Some Lines are directly taken from Terry Pratchett's Reaper Man
Owen Harper grimaced, reading the sign that was loosely tacked to the shabby wooden door in front of him, 'Come in! Come in! The Fresh Start Club. Being Dead Is only the Beginning!" He rolled his eyes, the beginning of what exactly? His death had been the end of something shitty and the start of something shittier. Owen half turned to go, what was he doing here anyway? Owen didn't need therapy. Who the fuck did Jack think he was, sending him to this sad, shit hole of an alley in what was proving to be an extremely disappointing alternate dimension. Owen had never been to another universe before, thus far he was under whelmed.
Being dead wasn't like dealing with an aging parent or getting dumped by your husband, all the group therapy in the world wasn't going to make it any better, wasn't going to make him alive again, make him breath or eat or piss or have sex again; it couldn't make his feel again. Ironically enough, moving on wasn't something you could move on from.
He strode down the narrow alley, looking around as he did so. The place seemed… rustic, almost medieval. Owen wondered if it had any good bars, but wait, he couldn't drink. He kicked at the sludge that spilled form gutters out into the alley. He bet this place stank, but he couldn't smell anything either.
Suddenly, Owen turned and walked furiously back the way he had come. Fine, he would go to the bloody stupid meeting; it wasn't as if he had anything else to do.
The building was even dingier on the inside than it had been at the doorstep. The door led to a steep staircase with creaking steps, graffitied walls, ample dust, and insufficient lighting. It reminded Owen of the dumps he had lived in during his med school days, except the graffiti was different. These tags seemed to be in support of some kind of political movement, 'End vitalism now!" one read. Owen guessed from the unashamed use of exclamation point that the author was the same person who had penned the sign out front.
He reached the top of the stairs and gritted his teeth, I can still turn back now, he thought, tell Jack to screw himself and keep dealing on my own. But, just then, the door burst open.
"Come in friend!" A cold, clammy hand took Owen by the arm and pulled him enthusiastically into the room. Owen glanced around and shuddered, the room looked superficially like the one that his Mum had gone to every Tuesday night for a couple of weeks after his dad left (she'd quit after not too long, said it was a waste of time), but the people seated in the chairs were quite different from the sad, shrunken ladies he remembered from his youth. There were two rather ordinary looking people in elaborate and ill fitting evening wear and a fat old man wearing what appeared to be a dress, beyond that none of the attendees even looked human. There was even a wolf sitting on the floor, watching the proceedings very intently.
The owner of the cold, clammy hand turned towards Owen, beaming ecstatically. "Welcome, welcome to our society. Feeling left out and oppressed by the living? Victim of vitalism? We dead have to organize you know, claim our rights as the deceased citizens of this city!"
"Yeah, whatever" said Owen. He glanced around the room again and momentarily caught what looked like a sympathetic look on the canine face of the wolf. The man, or post man, judging by the state of his flesh he hadn't been anyone for several years, was speaking again, doing introductions, "I'm Reg Shoe, you can call me Brother Reg. That's Brother Arthur Winklings and Sister Doreen Winkilngs." The dumpy little woman cleared her throat, "er sorry", Reg corrected himself, "Count and Countess Notfaroutoe, Brother Schleppel", he gestured to an empty chair, "Brother Lupine", the wolf, "Brother Windle", the ancient man in the dress, "Sister Drull, Brother Gorper, and Brother Ixolite", a variety of only vaguely human shaped creatures. "Now, said Reg brightly, would you like to introduce yourself?" No, thought Owen, I would like to go home and not be here and not be dead and maybe I would like to go shoot Jack fucking Harkness again. But he didn't leave, instead he stood in front of all the ghouls and zombies and vampires and said, "I'm Doctor Owen Harper"
"Welcome Brother Owen!" said Reg, thumping his enthusiastically on the chest with his limp, meaty hand. Owen received the groups greetings with what he thought was truly commendable patience and took a seat on a rickety chair in the corner of the room, wondering when this meeting would ever be over.
He zoned out for a while, attempting to keep as far away from the conversation as possible, but was roused by someone calling his name. "Brother Owen" said Reg, "as our newest member, would you like to share your story? Sometimes it's helpful for people to go over how and why they died, it gives them a feeling of finality so they can being their fresh start."
No, thought Owen, no I do not want to 'share my story', but he found himself doing so anyway, telling them everything, the way he had told that girl on the roof, about Torchwood and Martha and getting shot and dying. Finally, he finished, "and then they fucking brought me back because the needed the combination to the alien morgue. That's all, just the bloody combination."
The Countess Notfaroutoe raised her hand and seemed to sniff back a tear, "Are you sure, well, are you sure they didn't bring you back because they missed you? Maybe they just told you it was for the morgue because they couldn't face their emotions."
At last the interminable meeting came to a close and the small horde of the undead filed out into the ally. Owen returned home to his apartment feeling… different. He kept thinking about what Doreen had said, "are you sure they didn't bring you back because they missed you?"
Owen found himself strangely drawn back to that place. Every Wednesday he thought he would skip it, would do some work instead or watch some TV or whatever, but instead he went there, to that dismal alley in another world. Strangest of all, he felt better. Whether he was coloring stupid posters for Reg or chatting with Brother Windle, it felt good to be around people who understood, people who were dead.
Captain Jack Harkness sat in his office, observing his team at work through the glass. He watched Owen especially carefully, he had been acting oddly lately. Jack would have put it down to his being dead, but he couldn't understand how dying could make a person, particularly a person as grouchy and cynical as Owen, act this way. He'd tried it himself dozens of times and it had never had this effect on him. He actually caught Owen smiling sometimes, not smirking or grimacing, but smiling! Owen began greeting people with "Good Morning" when he came into the Hub, Owen had never been that civil even when he was alive.
Jack heard a knock on his office door, there he was, speak of the devil, Doctor Owen Harper. "Hey boss", Owen said, "I hate to bother you", hate to bother me, since when? thought Jack, but I was wondering if I could get off a bit early today, just by an hour or so, I'm going bowling with the guys."
"The guys, what guys?" Jack was unable to conceal his surprise. "Oh, just Reg and Windle, maybe Arthur if the Countess lets him out", replied Owen. This answer did not bring Jack any closer to comprehension, where these people Owen's friends. Owen didn't have friends, not outside of the Hub at least. "I'm sorry, who?" "The guys from the Fresh Start Club, they say bowling is a good activity for you know, us, cause it doesn't involve drinking or eating or you know other stuff we can't do. We we're thinking of starting a team of our own actually, not that we wouldn't let the living in, we're all about acceptance and integration. I just hope Reg's arm doesn't come detached again, you should have seen it, sliding down the ally. It shouldn't though, I gave him a very nice suture job."
Jack grinned to himself, still a little mystified "Alright then, I think we can manage without you for a while. Have fun."
"I will" said Owen, and realizing it was, for the first time in a long time, true, Owen left the Hub smiling.