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Better Than Silence

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"We're just animals, howling in the night, ‘cause it's better than silence." – Suzie Costello

With Jack, it had been all hands and lips and burden-sharing, like passing sips of wine from mouth to mouth. It was unremarkable, really, which isn’t to say that it wasn’t good, but it was as meaningful as soldiers in the battlefield, or the night before an execution, and just as fleeting. It happened and then the next morning it didn’t.

After the first night, Jack had seemed astonished. She hadn’t expected his look of confusion, but it made sense in retrospect (much, much later retrospect, after dying and coming back to find out that Jack had beat her to it a thousand times over. Bastard.)

He reminded her of her father, if she thought about it too much; lecherous eyes and condescending grins. But only in those things, those expressions that ate away at her like acid, and in the way she sought his approval (Daddy, Daddy, did you see? Did you see me?) . Sometimes, he’d put a hand on her back, on her shoulder, and she’d flinch or go rigid and he’d frown at her like she was some strange alien life form.

Owen and Toshiko were an exercise in understanding people. She knew that Toshiko carried a bit of a torch for Owen, and so she'd slept with them both to see if they were compatible, just to satisfy the itch of curiosity that kept her awake at night. Ultimately, the experiment was a failure - she'd ended up in a legitimate, messy affair with Owen as the prize for her hard work, and not much else. The attachment was nice at first, but it grew tiresome quite quickly and was severed as neatly as possible. (Owen and his damn smug face, like he’d won her.) And all she found out from her trial was what she already knew - Toshiko wanted something to remember, while Owen just wanted to forget.

It was different with Ianto, born of a desire to crack him open and see the inside of his brain spilled out like the cogs and coils of a pocket watch. He was quiet and unassuming and respectful, but there was a darkness there inside of him, dormant, like he was balanced on the razor's edge of madness. He intrigued her and she wanted to know if he was anything like she was.

His hands shook fiercely that first time, and he protested, but it was obvious that he wanted it. She could tell by the way he held her wrists above her head, and the tight seam of his shut eyes. At least, he wanted something. Probably not from her, and that was a bit of a shame. She’d been asked to run Ianto’s background check, back before he’d been hired, and she hopes even now that he'd finally been able to get over that dead girlfriend.

She likes him, always had, more than any of the others, and so she's let him alone while twisting the guilt-knife, shoving it in between the ribs, with everyone else; she has no grudges to air, no quarrel with him. Poor kid probably had to mop up her blood and the sticky clumps of brain matter.

She taps her fingers against the metal table, a rhythm that she can’t quite place but seems comfortingly familiar all the same, and waits for Gwen. Gwen’s easy to read, even with all of her clothes on, because Gwen is Suzie as she once was. As she would’ve been. She adjusts her scarf and bites her lip impatiently.

She still can't get a good read on Ianto, though, and she wonders, after seeing him walk across the hub with an unfamiliar air of confidence, if Jack's had him yet. She’d been watching it escalate day by day for weeks before she died, and she would kill for a status update right about now. But Gwen’s clearly smitten with Jack and terrified of her, so she doubts she’ll get one even if she asks.

Suzie smiles to herself. If Jack hasn’t had Ianto yet, he will soon enough. Jack always gets his way. Except now, with this. Now it's her turn.