AN: Another one from me. I hope you think it's okay, let me know if it is. This one has been beta'd, and a huge thanks goes out to her for her help. Any mistakes are all mine though.
Spoilers for 1x03.
The Morning After - Chapter 1:
His head hurt.
Toby pressed his face deeper into his pillow and screwed his eyes shut. Waking up with a headache was not unusual, but the added joy of a full blown hangover was out of character. "Damn," he murmured, cursing the fact that he had to work this weekend. He was normally careful not drink so much if he had a shift, and it took a moment to remember what had pushed him into last night's drinking fest.
He had told Oz.
It all came crashing back: Taz, the missing girl, and then Oz and himself on his roof, emptying his fridge of beer, bottle by bottle. He sat up groaning and swung his feet over the edge of the bed. He'd told Oz. "Oz knows," he said aloud to the empty flat, struggling to believe he'd really done it, really told someone.
Standing, he headed barefoot across the cold floor to the kitchen area, raiding his aspirin stash on the way. He washed a couple down with a glass of water before flicking on the kettle. He'd imaged telling Oz many times over the last few years and now he realized just how badly he'd underestimated his friend. He'd always figured people would react with fear and anger if they knew about him, but now he wondered how he could ever have thought Oz would respond with anything other than simple acceptance.
The more he thought about it though, the more a nagging doubt was beginning to surface: Oz wasn't known for his discretion, and a misplaced word or two could put them both in danger. Then there was the issue of how accepting Oz really was--sure he had thought it was cool yesterday when they were drinking and talking about girls, but what about when he time to think about it? They spent hours and hours together every day in their rig. What would happen when Oz realized that Toby could read his every thought? Would the invasion of his privacy be too much? Would Toby be looking for a new partner soon?
The sound of the kettle boiling interrupted his thoughts and he made himself a coffee, trying not to worry. His mobile was on the counter and he flicked it on. He had five unread text messages, all from Oz. Taking a long sip of his coffee, Toby opened them each in turn:
Wow that was 4 real right not a big joke.
Course not a joke. Just wow.
Got idea tell you at work 2morrow.
Cars' at yours don't 4get to pick me up 4 work.
Don't 'zone out' and crash my baby.
Toby was smiling by the time he read the last one, the worry muted slightly; hopefully things would be okay. That said, being late or crashing his partner's car wouldn't go down well. He emptied his mug and headed for the shower; he didn't have long to get ready, and he needed to work on shutting himself down and getting a grip on his telepathy if he was going to drive.
Ryan was out of bed and dressed the second he woke. He shoveled breakfast down in record time, then grabbed the bag he'd packed the night before and shouted, "Yeah mum," in reply to the request to 'be careful' as he headed out the door.
The sun was up but the sky was dark, and it looked like it might rain later. That didn't matter, though, where he was going. The den would be dry, and they could light a fire if it got cold; they'd made sure it had everything they needed.
It was Ryan who had found the place and set it up. For weeks now he'd been nicking things from his dad's office and taking them to the hideaway deep below the storeroom he'd discovered in an abandoned factory. The other boys, especially Richie (who until then hadn't had a moment to spare for the rich kid from Millen Street), had been completely wowed. Now Ryan was Richie's 'second' and he had more than a small say in what the group of boys got up to. When they saw what he'd brought with him today they'd be even more impressed.
He cycled as quickly as he could across the park and through the thick trees at the far end where the ground dropped away sharply for half a mile or so. Beyond the ravine was the wasteland where the factory was, and where the others would be waiting for him.
Oz was waiting for him on the sidewalk when Toby pulled up, and he was half tempted to let go of his fine control over his gift to check whether Oz was still okay with everything. Before he had chance, though, Oz opened the passenger door and stuck his head in. "Out--I'm glad you got her here in one piece, but I'm driving."
Toby obligingly got out and jogged round to the passenger seat. "Hey Oz."
"So," Oz began as he got himself sorted and pulled out into traffic. "No, I haven't told anyone, yes I still think it's cool, and yes I have a million more questions, only a few of which involve women--well, more than a few, but…" Oz trailed off.
For a second Toby was speechless. He glanced across at his partner. "I thought I was supposed to be the mind reader."
Oz snorted, "You had that look. Well not that look"--he opened his eyes as wide as possible and tilted his head slowly--"but you had that frown you get when you're stressing about something," Oz frowned seriously as well, parroting Toby's expressions with remarkable accuracy.
Toby looked out the side window in silence for a moment, embarrassed that he'd underestimated his partner again. There were a growing number of people and cars on the streets now and the distraction of talking to Oz had diverted him from keeping his senses closed off. The low, chattering hum of thoughts sounded in the back of his mind, reminding him of his headache. "Sorry, Oz," he apologized quietly. "I don't think you're going tell anyone, it's just I'm not used to talking about this… thing."
Oz seemed to think about that for a moment before asking, "Who else knows?"
"No one really, just Ray," Toby replied honestly.
Oz nodded. Well that explains that. Bit freaky though, hanging out with a shrink.
Toby bit his lip as he picked up on Oz's stray thoughts and resisted correcting him on Ray's profession. Oz and he had talked about nonsense last night: party tricks, what women were thinking about, and how to get on Ryder's good side, but nothing of consequence. Today he realized he'd be in for a lot more questions, and if he brought up Ray and the nature of their relationship he'd have to talk about unpleasant aspects of his childhood--such as his abandonment. Toby wasn't sure he was ready for a heart-to-heart with his partner about that just yet. Oz seemed to pick up on his reluctance to talk; he didn't push any further, and they drove in silence for a while.
It wasn't until they were parking up at work that Toby realized they hadn't started to talk about any of his partner's questions. "Oz, those things you want know…"
"Hey," Oz interrupted, looking over as he swung his door open, "don't worry about that. We've got twelve hours stuck in the rig together. I reckon we'll cover most of it by the time we knock off."
Sighing in despair, Toby groaned and dragged himself out of the car; it was going to be a long shift.
They dumped their bikes round the back of the old factory in an old shed that was hidden well away from view. They weren't worried about them because no one really came down here, and anyway a couple of weeks ago Richie had produced a chain and massive padlock from somewhere muttering about thieves being everywhere. They'd all laughed knowing full well that Rich had probably stolen it.
With the bikes locked up safely, they clambered onto the roof of the single storey office and through the broken window at the back, where they'd pried the corner of one the boards loose. A piece of string through the nail hole pulled the board tightly back into place when the four of them were all through, and from the outside no one could tell anyone had been there.
The inside of the factory was dark but the four them had flashlights, and they flicked them on as they made their way across the small platform of the second floor and down the metal stairs to the ground. Old machinery of various shapes and sizes took up most of the space in the huge expanse of the factory floor, but they didn't waste any time there. Running, they headed through a small door hidden at the back of the factory and down the rotten crumbling steps into the blackness of the storerooms and old tunnels below.
Toby was, as usual, at the rig and waiting a good few minutes before Oz was ready to head out. He'd thought about getting in the driver's side--now that Oz knew he wasn't about to have a stroke or a seizure at any moment it was probably time he pushed the driving issue. The big ambulances weren't easy to handle or maneuver and, although he didn't mind not driving, it was likely he would have to again at some point; he needed to keep his hand in. The nagging headache and the thought of being on the receiving end of a twelve hour interrogation made him change his mind, so he pulled himself in the passenger side and said nothing to Oz when he wandered up moments later and took the keys off him.
Five minutes later, just as Oz was pulling out from the ambulance bay, they got the call from dispatch.