Toshiko Sato went through her first day at Torchwood as though analysing alien technology was the most boring job she had ever had. On that day she was attacked by Weevils twice, hacked into a CIA server that Jack had been trying to access for over a year and almost accidentally turned Suzie into a man. By the end of the day, Jack and Suzie were laughing and slapping her back as though she had worked there for years. Tosh had never been accepted by anyone so easily.
She didn't care.
Discovering the existence of aliens should have made it the most amazing day of her life, but Tosh just didn't care. The only thing that meant anything to her right then was that she wasn't in prison. She may as well have been working in a shop, or as a secretary – the only places that existed in her mind were prison and Not Prison, and the only reason she got out of bed the next morning was that working for Torchwood was that if she did, she could keep living in the world of Not Prison.
The next day, when she walked through the door, Suzie pounced on Tosh excitedly, holding a tiny metallic device emitting a message in some kind of code. Tosh wasn't excited. She wasn't even interested. But translating foreign languages, along with understanding electronics and writing computer code, was just an automatic response for Tosh. By the end of the day she and Suzie had managed to translate a message from a planet further away than either of them could imagine.
It was a letter written by a prisoner, to his mother.
Tosh cried, and Suzie held her, and Tosh thought she didn't deserve this.
Six months later, on Owen's first day at Torchwood, Tosh watched quietly from behind her computer console all day. She watched Owen grumble his apathy and disbelief, criticise everyone's work and insult everyone who tried to talk to him. She watched him try, and fail, to antagonise Jack, who could dismiss him with a turn of his head, and she watched Owen effortlessly trap Suzie into several fights, one of which became so belligerent that Jack had to separate them as though they were his kids.
She smiled when Suzie spat insults at him on her way out that evening, because Tosh knew what she was seeing, something that Jack and Suzie didn't understand. Owen was someone who was trying to remember how to give a damn.
"You want to get a drink?" She had her coat and handbag, all ready to go home, not that there was much of interest to go home to. Owen was still at his desk, still in his lab coat, as though he didn't know where to go now that he had no aliens to dissect.
"You haven't said a word to me all day," Owen said, dully. "Why now?"
"Married to my work. I always have plenty to do here. But now it's time to go home, and there's not much to do there at all." She cocked her head at him. "I have a feeling you know what I mean."
Owen grunted. "I hate it when women do that. Watch and stay quiet and then think that they know me so well. Playing it so fucking safe. Pathetic."
Having heard Owen insulting every square inch of the Hub all morning, Tosh wasn't particularly put off by this. "Suzie's more your type then?"
"Bitch," Owen spat, meeting her eyes now. "Come on, you can't be about to defend her, can you? She is a bitch."
Tosh fought back the urge to laugh. "You've only known her a day!"
"Oh! Oh! Don't tell me. I just need to get to know her better." Owen shook his head. "You're bloody predictable, too."
"Well, I can't deny that she's a bit rough." Tosh smirked. "On the other hand, she's hot, so I can forgive a lot."
Owen blinked at her in surprise, and then laughed. "So you and her... Figures she'd be a…"
"Oh no!" Tosh's eyebrows flew up and her confident smirk disappeared instantly. "I never even… I don't think she'd be interested at all."
"And I think you're dead wrong there," Owen said, sourly. "So what, you've never even asked her?"
Tosh shrugged. "Never got the chance."
"Who needs a chance? Just spit it out!" He threw his hands in the air. "I bet you she's dying for a good shag. Why don't you go for it?"
This was not at all where Tosh had expected this conversation to go. "I guess I don't think I deserve her."
Owen rolled his eyes and threw his arms in the air all at once. "Christ, Tosh! You are the most unbelievably spineless woman I think I've ever met. What a bloody hopeless case!" But all the same, he had now gotten decisively to his feet and swapped his lab coat for an overcoat. "Come on, let's get that drink. You'll feel inadequate and I'll predict every nice shy girl cliché you spout all night."
"If it helps," Tosh said, impishly, "I'm only working at Torchwood because it was the only way they were ever going to let me out of prison."
"It's okay, I don't mind if you don't want to tell me why you're here. My story's more interesting. But the first round's on you."
She walked out the door with a spring in her step, and after a moment, Owen followed, muttering insults under his breath all the way.