TW/SPN: Toshiko Sato, Bela Talbot;
for absinthefairy88, written as part of my snowflake meme/thank you,
wherein I was asked how these two characters first met.
It was after the fall of Torchwood One. Toshiko Sato, along with the rest of the Torchwood Three team had gone up to London to salvage what they could from the debris where once Canary Warf stood. She'd been sifting through the rubble, the device in her hand issuing soft, gentle beeps of reassurance as she breathed quick, shallow breaths through her mouth; the taste of ash and dust better than the smell of death and burning flesh. She kept her head down and her eyes trained on her footfalls and the images on the screen of her monitoring device, trying in vein to locate anything (or anyone) that would make a day this heart-breaking worth the effort-- all those poor people, all that life- lost- and for what?.
Bela Talbot was one of the first on the scene. Hours before the other branch of Torchwood showed up, when the fire crews were putting the last of the flames out and even the crowds of curious bystanders had begun to dwindle down till all that were left were those desperate to discover the identities of those who had survived.
She'd known exactly where to go, where to look, how far down she needed to dig; broken nails and scratched up skin a small price to pay for retaining ownership of the object she was after. It took her longer than she thought it would have. Hours longer than she would have liked. Her knees scraped bloody, her hair and face ash-dusted as she dug and scrambled amongst rock and rubble (bodies too, or bits of bodies, but she averted her gaze from that. She couldn't give up, not for anyone; not when they were already too far gone to save).
"Excuse me?" The voice that spoke was quiet, timid almost, as if afraid to interrupt her. Bela stilled, her fingers digging fists around the last of her handfuls- the object of her desire in tantalising sight now.
Bela turns her head, sees a mouse of a woman with wide, reddened eyes and some strange sort of device in her hand. A device that lets out a rapid succession of beeps as the woman takes a hesitant step forward. She stills then, eyes widening, flittering between the device and Bela herself and Bela finds her mouth thinning out in displeasure as she surreptitiously reaches for the small, almond-shaped artefact she'd spent far too long digging for.
"Who are you?" The woman asks and Bela looks up at her. She's closer than she was before and Bela pushes quickly to her feet in surprise; she didn't hear her move.
"Who are you?" Bela retorts, brushing her hair from her face whilst slipping her other hand into her pocket.
"I'm Torchwood," comes the reply and a tilt of the head telling Bela that her own answer is awaited. The woman waves the device over the area Bela was digging and her device lights up in excitement- a residual echo, Bela thinks, patting her pocket.
"That's a funny name," Bela says, smiling grimly as she cocks her own head and watches as the other woman flounders.
"No. I'm with Torchwood. We're here for the clean-up."
Bela nods then, ducks her head and adopts a contrite expression. "I'm looking for my fiancé," she says, lowering her voice as if the words she speaks are too painful.
"Oh. Oh! I'm so sorry, I-"
"I know it's hopeless," she laughs without humour, shrugs her shoulders and looks out across the vast expanse of nothing where once a building stood. "I just..."
"It's okay. You don't have to explain," a hand touches at her arm and she looks up, seeing compassion and understanding in the other woman's eyes. She feels no guilt playing on this woman's pity.
"You should leave the searching to us." The woman says. Bela shakes her head, then nods it again. She must look as lost and upset as she aims for because the next thing she knows, she's being led from the scene and towards an area where other, desperate family members are clamouring for answers and mourning their losses.
A stiff, white card and a pen is pressed into her hand and she looks down.
"My name is Toshiko Sato," the woman says, "if you can tell me your fiancé’s name I can call and let you know if we find him."
Bela writes down a name and number. The first that pops into her head. The object of her search weighs heavily against her hip and it is then that Bela realises the woman, Toshiko, has said if and not when. As though bodies may never be found. She sees the families of those lost to the fall of Torchwood Three and feels the first stirrings of uneasiness.
Toshiko turns to go. Bela reaches out, catching her sleeve. "My name is Bela. Bela Talbot."
She doesn't know why she tells Toshiko this, doesn't know why Toshiko's hand touching lightly at her own should comfort her (she's not lost anyone to this, she doesn't even know who these people are or what they do here), all that she knows is that when Toshiko smiles at her- as quick and sad a smile as it is- it makes Bela feel marginally better about the job she does.
♥ other snowflake meme replies/fics will be done over the course of the weekend.
♥ I will also start posting festive wishes some point this coming week (since so few flisters actually requested gifts I'm trying my damdest to make all the wishes I grant as good as they can be!)
♥ why yes, I have changed my layout again ;D it's it just delightful?