Tosh didn't wake when the Hub door rolled open. She thought it would wake her, between the alarm and the noise generally associated with the door opening, gears, the clank of metal. Instead, she only shifted on the couch, burrowing deeper into the jacket she'd balled up as a pillow.
It was the footsteps that woke her, a little too loud, stomping towards her, slowing and quieting as they neared the couch. The realization that there was someone actually there penetrated her sleeping brain, and instinct reacted before logical thought intervened, her eyes snapping open while she fumbled for the nearest object to use as a weapon.
Her vision cleared after a second, enough for her to make out in the dim glow of computer screens that the person standing there was Owen, hands held up in a placating gesture. Owen, not some hostile alien. Also, her "weapon" was a coffee mug.
Tosh set the mug down with an embarrassed grimace.
"I didn't mean to scare you," he said, just holding back a chuckle.
"You didn't." She willed her racing heart to slow down. "Just startled. Waking up suddenly in a place that's not your bed will do that."
Tosh pushed herself to her feet to turn on the lights. Which left the atrium much too bright, and now she just kept blinking against the light, but at least she wasn't left to make out Owen's expressions in blue-green half-light.
"Why aren't you?" he asked from behind her, and she turned, frowning a little.
"Why aren't you in your bed?" he elaborated. "As opposed to here? On the couch?"
"I was waiting for a translation program to finish running. I already stayed late to talk to Gwen about that communication device and, um..."
"Fell asleep?" Owen asked, and flopped into the nearest chair with a teasing grin. Tosh's chair. She stepped forward to wave him out of it with a roll of her eyes.
"Only for..." Her eyes flickered to the clock on one of her computer screens, and she frowned at it. "What are you doing here at four in the morning?"
Owen slid out of her chair with a grimace. "Couldn't sleep."
Tosh dropped into the chair herself and tapped her mouse, bringing up the results of her translation program. "So you decided to come to the Hub? That sounds... completely unlike you."
"Yeah, well. Thought there might have been something I could..." He trailed off, like he wasn't sure why himself - maybe it was just that since Jack left, they were almost afraid to leave the Hub in case something happened. Instead of actually bothering to explain, Owen gestured to the computer. "What've you got?"
"That's a good question," she murmured. "It looks like..." Realization hit, and she groaned. "It's a parking ticket."
Owen snorted. "This is what we're doing with our lives? Translating alien parking tickets?"
"Apparently." She pushed herself up from the chair in disgust. "I'm going back to sleep."
Tosh didn't answer, just collapsed face-down on the couch.
"Guess not," Owen said, a hint of a smile in his voice as Tosh curled up.
At some point, she reflected, her job had gone from something worthwhile to... either a minor disaster everywhere they turned, or translating intergalactic parking tickets. And in the meantime, her sleep schedule had gone to hell. Sometimes, she wondered why she bothered.
The couch shifted after a while, with the weight of Owen sitting down beside her. Tosh registered it through a sleepy haze, and shifted closer, unthinkingly pillowing her head against his leg. A moment passed, and in the seconds before she drifted off altogether, she felt Owen's hand settle on her shoulder.
Tosh was beginning to think that any day she didn't get thrown into a wall by an alien with psychic abilities was a good day. This was not one of those days.
"Tosh!" Gwen's voice, over the ringing in her ears. Tosh's vision had gone to black, but her head was throbbing, and she thought she felt a trickle of blood down the back of her neck.
Owen lunged toward her as her vision cleared, resting one hand on her shoulder, the other on her cheek. "I'll take care of her," he snapped over his shoulder. "Gwen, don't let it get away!"
The sound of Gwen's running footsteps somehow blended into the pounding in Tosh's head, in time with her racing heartbeat. Tosh leaned back against the wall she'd been thrown into, winced as her head touched it, and reached up to feel the back of her head. Owen caught her hand before she could, fingers gentle but firm around her wrist.
"Let me look at it. I'm the professional here." He reached to feel at the back of her head gently, while she gritted her teeth and tried not to hiss in pain. After a moment, he snapped his fingers in her face, searching her eyes intently and then letting out a soft groan. "Pupils are uneven. Lovely."
Owen reached up to tap his earpiece, his other hand moving to rest on Tosh's shoulder. His fingers felt sticky with her blood.
"Gwen, Ianto, Tosh's got a concussion."
"I'm fine," she started to protest, but a stern look from Owen cut off any further argument.
"Who's the doctor here?"
Tosh rolled her eyes and ignored the way the world seemed to have started spinning. It was beginning to make her nauseous.
Ianto's voice came over the headsets, and Tosh managed not to wince at the sudden sound right in her ear. "What happened?"
"Tosh got thrown into a wall," Owen muttered, like he'd really rather not tell him.
"I told you you'd scare it if you came in with guns blazing."
"Like your plan was any better!"
Eyes closed, Tosh touched her own earpiece and spoke before Ianto could. "Can you do this when I'm nod bleeding from a head wound?"
She got an apologetic smile from Owen, an embarrassed silence from Ianto. Good enough.
"We should get you back to the SUV," Owen said after a moment, hooking his arm under her shoulder to help her to her feet, wrapping his arm around her once she was up. "How's it going, Gwen?"
"I lost it," she sighed. "I'm coming back. We'll track it from the Hub."
"Another successful Torchwood mission," Owen muttered as he started toward the SUV, still half supporting Tosh. She laughed, despite the pain in her head.
"It could be worse..."
"God, never say that. It's like asking for trouble."
Tosh looked up at his face, vaguely hoping that if she focused hard enough on one thing, the spinning and nausea might go away. "I never thought you were the superstitious type."
"I'm not. I just don't want to tempt fate and get shot again."
"The alien didn't have a gun."
"As far as you know!"
They reached the SUV and Owen helped her into the back seat, ignoring her protests that she was concussed, not completely incapacitated. Much to her surprise, instead of taking his usual position in the driver's seat, Owen slid into the seat beside her. He shrugged in answer to her questioning look. "Someone has to make sure you don't fall asleep back here on the way back."
It seemed, to Tosh, a particularly flimsy excuse, considering Gwen was perfectly capable of doing just that, but she didn't bother arguing. There was a good chance anyway it was just the head wound making her think that.
Things were going well.
Things were actually going... well. They were all starting to get the hang of managing without Jack. It didn't seem to mean any fewer late nights, but at least it meant less getting thrown into walls, almost crashing the SUV, and civilian casualties. The last major disaster was that avalanche in the Himalayas, and they all got through it. They were learning, and they'd all started to believe they just might survive without Jack.
Tosh found Owen in the medical bay, just as he was sending an alien corpse down the vaults. The metal drawer shut with a clang that echoes, and in the silence it left behind, Tosh cleared her throat, coming down the stairs.
He looked up, eyebrows raised, and smiled. "Tosh!" Owen reached over to grab something from an instrument tray and walked over to meet her by the stairs, grinning now. "Hold out your hand."
Tosh eyed him uncertainly and did no such thing. "Why?"
"Just hold out your hand!"
"Is it any part of an alien?"
Owen rolled his eyes. "I promise it's not."
"I'm just saying, most little boys grow out of this-"
Tosh smiled slightly and held out her hand, palm up and flat. Owen, grinning again, dropped something small, oblong, and milky silver-gray into it, strangely cool against her skin. Tosh frowned and held it up to examine it.
"I think it's some sort of chip. Found it in its brain, anyway, thought you might want to look at it."
A slow grin spread over Tosh's face, and she closed her fingers around the object. "Thank you, Owen. No one's ever given me an alien brain chip before."
"I do my best."
Owen smirked a little and turned away to straighten his instrument tray. "So what did you want?"
"You came and found me," he pointed out, glancing over his shoulder at her. "What do you need?"
"Oh." She smiled a little sheepishly – somehow she'd forgotten there was a reason she'd come down here – and took the last few steps down the stairs to the floor of the med bay. "I just... I guess you're going home, then. Since you finished with the autopsy. I was going to get food, and I thought I'd ask if you wanted any, but if your'e going..."
"Yeah, I hope so. I haven't actually slept in about forty-eight hours, unless you count that nap at my desk, so..."
"Of course." Tosh smiled. "I'll see you tomorrow, then."
She started to turn around to walk back up the stairs, but stopped as Owen turned around abruptly, covering the distance between them quickly. He was just heading for the stairs, of course, nothing to do with her being right there, but she froze anyway, and Owen stopped just short of reaching the stairs.
"Of course, I could go with you," he said abruptly.
Tosh blinked. "I'm sorry?"
"To get food. Gwen and Ianto won't miss you if you're away a bit longer."
"I... guess not. I certainly wouldn't mind if you wanted to come..."
Owen took a little half-step toward her, and she stopped. Talking. Breathing. She always found it impossible to breathe when he got this close to her, and the way his eyes just kept searching her face, remarkably alert for someone who hadn't slept in almost two days...
She was standing in his way. Should probably move so he could get up the stairs, and one of them should say something because there was an odd, awkward silence now, and she almost jumped when his hand came up to rest on her arm.
It occurred to her they were just close enough to kiss.
It occurred to her also that he might justbe leaning forward a little, that if she tilted her chin up and...
The second she thought it, footstepsechoed upstairs, coming toward the medical bay, and they both jerked back, away from each other. Gwen appeared at the top of the stairs, and leaned against the railing, while Tosh quietly tried to sort out what had just happened. "Owen, I'm sorry, but we're going to need you."
Owen groaned. "What is it now?"
"Police report of a stolen sports car."
For a moment, Owen stared at her, and then snorted, starting up the stairs with the clear intention of brushing past Gwen and leaving anyway. "What's that have to do with us?"
"It was stolen by a blowfish."
Owen stared at her. "A..."
"Blowfish," Gwen repeated, in a tone that suggested she'd been over this a few times. "Bright red. Bipedal. Blowfish."
Owen glanced back to Tosh. For a moment, neither of them moved, and then both simultaneously started up the stairs as quickly as they could.
"I'll get the SUV."