AN: That's it folks. Hope you've enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing it. I'm off to try and stir up some more plot bunnies.
The Morning After - Epilogue:
He sat in the chair on his roof space and absently itched round the edge of the brace that tightly supported his arm and shoulder. It was hard to resist the urge to take it off and go without. He'd been lucky, the X-rays and scans had all been clear: no fracture or separation. But he had some pretty impressive bruising and Olivia had warned him about ligament damage, so he consented to leaving the brace alone and playing it safe for a bit.
The sun was beginning to set, bringing what had been a bright weekend to an end. Toby stared out across the city for a while before turning his attention to the sheet of paper Oz had dropped on his lap. While he'd managed to get himself signed off work for a couple of weeks, Oz wasn't so lucky. He had copped for a half shift, as cover, this morning. That's when he'd picked up a copy of the official press statement. Toby guessed Ryder had let them have it so they knew vaguely what to expect when the local papers came out tomorrow morning. And so they knew that any negative press wasn't coming from the service.
A bottle of beer appeared over his right shoulder, and he took it gratefully. "Thanks Oz."
"So what do you think?" Oz gestured with his beer before lowering himself with a groan into his seat.
Toby raised an eyebrow. "You say this is Ryder's work? I know I was on some good pain meds Saturday afternoon but I don't remember him saying this stuff when he had a 'word' with us."
Oz laughed. "Yeah it's weird how we're 'idiots breaking procedure and trying to get ourselves killed' on Saturday, and today we're 'heroes and a credit to the service'. I reckon he's got to be schizo' or something."
"Sorry Oz, did he have much of a go at you today?" He felt genuinely guilty about not being there to take some of the stick, especially when it was his impulsiveness that had landed them in trouble in the first place.
"Nah, he'd calmed down a bit." Oz paused a second and glanced across at Toby, grinning. "Just a little bit."
They both sat and drank in silence for a short while before Toby asked, "did you get chance to see either of them?"
"Yeah, Ryan's good, the doctors reckoned he'd be discharged tomorrow. Richie?" He ducked his head and made a so-so gesture. "Not out the woods, long road to recovery etc etc. I talked to Liv though; she reckons he'll be okay in the long run. All thanks to the heroes of the Toronto EMT service, right?"
Toby was shocked by the sudden bitterness in his partner's voice. "Oz man, what's wrong? Okay, we screwed up a bit, but we got them out right? That's what matters; of course Ryder wants to paint it rosy for press."
Oz gestured to the press release again, his tone serious. "The thing is, that's a lie, isn't it. I mean the bit about it being 'part of the job',and that any crew would have done the same. We were ready to leave, if it wasn't for… Well, any other crew would have left, I would have left."
Toby sighed, suddenly understanding. The simple fact was if they had left it would have been hours before either of the boys was reported missing. The likelihood was that one or both of them would have been dead before they were found. The thought that had been buoying Toby since Liv had dropped him home Saturday night was that for once using his gift had resulted in happy consequences. But from Oz's point of view… well, Toby remembered just how useless he felt as the rescue teams worked on extracting the boys. It wasn't a good feeling.
He looked up at Oz. "We had luck on our…"
Oz interrupted him. "We had you man, that's what we had. If I'd been on that call with Murphy or someone else, we'd have left..."
"Hey, don't put this on yourself Oz," Toby said and then shook his head in annoyance as Oz tried to continue. "Those kids shouldn't have been down there, the boys that rung in should have stayed, the security company should have been making sure that building was secure. What happened or might have happened is not your fault."
"Yeah, right," Oz said before taking a deep swig of his beer. He didn't sound convinced.
Toby sighed tiredly. "Look Oz, I would have left too."
"No buts, I was about to leave. If it hadn't been for that 'hit' I would have left." Toby awkwardly pulled his chair close to Oz, facing him down.
"But you got the hit."
Toby leaned forward, trying to get the message through to his partner. "Yes, but that's not something I control. It's random; a freak chance. Heck I don't know what it is, or how it works, but if it hadn't happened I would have left. I would have left Oz, and I wouldn't even have searched properly. I'd have strode into that factory, 'felt' around a bit, and then I would've been convinced we were alone and I'd have left."
"No you wouldn't, I know you." Oz was adamant.
"Yes you know me, what was it you put in that report about me? Impulsive, erratic." His partner started to interrupt, but Toby held up a hand to stop him. "You know I would have left. Anyone else would have searched thoroughly, probably found the back room, then rung it in, and got backup or at least advice."
"I don't believe that," Oz denied it with as shake of his head, but Toby could tell he was starting to consider it as a possibility.
He hesitated, considering just how much he should admit to. "You know what the worst thing is? Now that you know what I can do, I would have been able to convince you to leave as well."
"I convinced you to follow me down there without calling it in," Toby countered.
"Toby…" Oz started, but Toby interrupted, determined to get his message through.
"Look Oz, I'm not getting at you. It's me, the way I fling myself into things without thinking. I'm not some superhero. Sometimes I take the things I read at face value. I could use some backup from someone who doesn't."
Oz nodded slowly in agreement. "So you weren't joking the other night. It turns out I really am the brains of this operation." He took a couple of long swigs of his beer. "I've got your back man."
They drank in silence for a few minutes before Toby gestured to his shoulder. "I definitely need someone to watch my back."
"Hey, I had your back then."
Toby rubbed his shoulder deliberately. "You were watching my back, huh?"
Oz looked at him and grinned. "Oh yeah I was watching your back. Your back, and the rest of you as it went bang! Plummeting down a set of steps."
"Very funny Oz. Thank you," Toby replied sarcastically.
"You know what though? I should have realized yesterday that you aren't a superhero," Oz said, sounding deadly serious.
Toby looked at Oz suspiciously, not sure where he was going with this. "Why?"
"Well, we all know superheroes can fly, right?"
"Oz no... Oz don't." Suddenly picking up on the direction of his partner's thoughts, Toby tried to head him off.
"Seriously, you've got the flying thing down man but..."
"Oz please, don't say it," Toby warned.
But Oz was on a roll now and just shook his head at Toby. "The flying is nearly there man, but you've just got to…"
"…nail those landings?" Toby interrupted, taking the words exactly from Oz's mind while trying not to start laughing.
Oz could barely talk he was giggling so hard, clearly pleased with the joke, but he managed to gasp out, "That's right, just got to nail those landings."
Toby frowned at his nearly empty beer; neither of them had to work tomorrow and Oz had restocked his fridge. It was going to be a long night.