Characters: Tosh, Gray, Owen.
Spoilers: Exit Wounds.
Summary: There’s so much to do and so little time, but Tosh won’t let anything get in the way of saving the people of Cardiff, not even her own impending death.
Word Count: 863
Written For: m_findlow’s prompt ‘Torchwood, Tosh, even at the bitter end, she put the lives of others before her own,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Owen is out at Turnmill, and the reactor has already gone critical. Things are pretty bad, but Tosh knows she has to remain calm; there’s a lot to do and not much time to do it in. She’s intensely aware of the seconds ticking away, and equally aware of the need to make every one of them count.
Just because meltdown is imminent doesn’t mean there’s nothing she can do. After all, she’s brilliant, and she tells Owen so as she works, diverting power and preparing to talk her friend through restoring the coolant system.
She doesn’t see Gray, isn’t aware of anything but the data on her devices until the bullet hits her in the stomach. When she feels the sudden pain, looks down and sees all the blood, it’s sort of surprising, surreal. She falls to the ground, hands clutching at the wound, and vaguely she can hear Owen’s voice in the background. More clearly she can hear the voice of the man who just shot her, but she can’t make sense of his words. She can’t tell if that’s his problem or hers.
He takes her PDA, tosses it down the steps into the autopsy bay. She wants to shout at him, tell him she needs it, but it hurts just to breathe; shouting is beyond her. He touches her face and then he’s gone, leaving her in a pool of her own blood.
How can this be happening when there’s so much she needs to do? If the meltdown progresses too far she won’t be able to stop it and hundreds, maybe thousands, of people will die. That’s not acceptable. It’s her job to save them, there’s no one else who can do it; this is her responsibility. She can’t let all those people down. But she can feel the blood leaking out of her, and just as clearly she can feel time ticking away. She’s already been lying here too long. Her injury isn’t important; she needs to get to work.
First things first, she can’t do anything without her PDA. Crawling across the cold concrete of the Hub, dragging herself inch by inch to the tiled steps down to the autopsy bay, is a painfully slow process, but the passing time isn’t slowing one iota. She’d go faster if she could but it’s a struggle to move at all without losing consciousness, the pain is so bad. At the back of her mind, she thinks that at least she’ll be in the right place when she dies, because she knows she’s not going to survive this, but she can’t die yet because Owen and all those people need her. She has to be strong.
She lets gravity take over and simply rolls down the steps. What do a few bruises matter now? She can hardly make anything worse for herself, and besides, it saves precious seconds.
It seems to take forever to cross the tiled floor to where the PDA landed, but finally it’s in her hand and she goes to work. The pain is distracting though, it’s a good thing Owen keeps syringes filled with painkillers handy in case of emergencies. She fumbles with one, stabbing the needle awkwardly into her thigh one-handed and injecting Owen’s good drugs. It helps, dimming the pain and clearing her mind enough that she can concentrate, but Owen’s not stupid, he knows something’s going on.
She lies to him, and he believes her. That’s good. It wouldn’t do any good for him to know she’s been shot; he’d only worry. There’s nothing he can do to help her anyway, and too much he needs to do to handle the meltdown. She can tell him what to do, which buttons to press, but he’s got to be her hands. It’s sort of like operating a machine by remote control.
She can practically hear the seconds counting down in her head as she instructs Owen, but everything is working just the way it should until a power surge traps him in the control room that will soon be flooded with irradiated coolant. It’s a bitter blow; there’s no way to get him out of there.
As time slips away from them both, Tosh spends her last moments offering Owen what comfort she can, talking to him, trying to calm him, helping him to make his peace with his fate. He’s so brave at the end. She’s trying to be brave too, but it’s hard because she loves him and he’s going to die before her. She wishes she could have saved him.
Tosh’s only real consolation is that she’s saved so many other lives this night. When it comes right down to it, they’re what matter; she did what she’d set out to do, the meltdown has been contained. Cardiff has taken a battering, but the city and its people will continue. Neither her life, nor Owen’s, is important in the grand scheme of things, they’ve both served their purpose. Owen is already gone, and now it’s her turn. Who knows? Perhaps this won’t be the end and she’ll see him again. As last thoughts go, Tosh thinks it’s a good one.