Death Can Be Such a Relief

Three shots rang out from the direction of the Torchwood entrance and three weevils collapsed to the ground.

Gwen and John Hart turned to see Ianto and Tosh with their guns raised, and Gwen felt an immediate rush of relief.

That was then quickly replaced by a rush of panic as Ianto stepped forward and turned his aim to John, and before Gwen could apprehend him, John was staggering backwards, yelling, and looking at his bleeding shoulder incredulously.

A few seconds of stunned silence passed before John looked at Ianto and stated, "Boy toy, why?"

Gwen flew into action and ran to John, pressing her hands to the wound to stifle the bleeding. She looked at Ianto. "What the hell? He was helping me!"

Ianto stood there, having lowered his gun to his side, a mix of "oh my god" and "I don't give a fuck" on his face.

Tosh, meanwhile, had quickly retrieved cloth from an autopsy room drawer and replaced Gwen at John's side, who had backed up against a wall to support himself. "Hold that there as firmly as you can," she said to the injured man, pushing perhaps a little too hard on the wound as she applied the rags. He had punched her and shot Owen, so she didn't feel too sympathetic for him at the moment.

Gwen and Ianto had turned their attention to the downed weevils. There were too many problems going at the moment, thought Gwen, and they needed to manage at least one of them before they became unmanageable.

"Help me take these down to the cells, Ianto," she said, picking up one weevil under the armpits and dragging the heavy body towards to the stairs.

Ianto holstered his gun, still glaring at John, unforgiving, and scooped up a second weevil.

Tosh stood and went to collect the third but Gwen stopped her. "No, Tosh. You need to find Owen and get John here some proper bandages before he loses his arm." At hearing that, John let out a small yelp, which Gwen ignored. "We'll handle the weevils. They're not even conscious yet." She threw a small reassuring smile to Tosh, hoping that it would convince her. It did.

"Alright," Tosh conceded. "I've got some more bullets in my gun as well, if I need them."

"Owwwwww, hel-lo," complained John. "Still losing more blood than I'd prefer to."

Gwen and Tosh rolled their eyes at each other, and then Gwen swiftly followed Ianto with her weevil.

Tosh turned to John. "Keep holding that there," she said as she motioned to the rag, "and take this." She moved to give John her gun, but held it back when he reached for it. "For the weevil. You shoot me, you bleed out, if Ianto doesn't get to you first. Got that?" John nodded, sincere.

Tosh hurried to the computers to contact Owen with his crisis.

Tosh contacted the doctor in no time, and he communicated how clueless he was in this situation. His new status as King of the Weevils was ideal for the journey there, but not ideal for the real problem.

Tosh chuckled. The team couldn't survive without her, and so at this moment, she felt selfishly proud.

"Doing all right, John?" she asked nonchalantly from her computer.

"I'm—no, not really, but I'm sure you're busy with something much more urgent, so I'll wait." The sentence was doused with sarcasm.

Tosh didn't hear any screams of pain and so she continued to focus on the meltdown.

Owen's voice popped onto her desk, emitting from the handheld. "Wait, John? As in John Hart? That sonuvabitch who shot me and pushed Jack off a building?"

"He's currently no threat," replied Tosh. "Just an annoying ear worm."

"Not like me, though."

"No, Owen, not like you. You're quite a welcome ear worm."

"Mm-hm...Alright, can you fix it?" asked Owen through the com.

Tosh smirked. "Of course I can. I'm brilliant."

Owen laughed. "Yeah."

"I'm going to try and divert power to the auxiliary source back to Turnmill. If that works, I can talk you through restoring the coolant system. Right. Now—"

The noise that followed was a combination of a pop and a shout, but what hit Toshiko's stomach felt like an explosion of force and fire.

Owen's voice sounded faintly in her ear, saying her name.

She looked down and saw her hand lift to reveal a deep red quickly soaking her shirt.

A glance up revealed Gray, Jack's brother, holding the smoking gun. 'And we were trying to save him! Bastard...'

Her legs gave out and she collapsed to the floor with a gasp, her mostly immobile hand trying to apply pressure to the wound.

"Help me. Please..." she begged, though it only came out as a whisper.

"Toshiko!" exclaimed John from the wall, his moment of shock over, and lurched forward off the wall, aiming Tosh's gun. He had identified the smoking gun as well, but before he could get a shot off, Gray put a bullet in his left leg, immediately bringing him down with a crash. Gray rushed him, guarding himself with his firearm, and then pistol-whipped John and kicked the gun away.

John's cries of pain served as background noise as Tosh watched from the other side of the room. Gray then walked around her desk and monitors, pulling all cords that looked even slightly functional. Her computer screens went black. Constant beeping could be heard from the device laying to her left. Turnmill. Owen.

"Tosh? Tosh, you hear me? You there?"

She tried her best to force out words of warning, reaching over her body painfully for the device on the ground, so close yet impossible to reach.

Then Gray's foot landed in front of her face. He bent down, grabbed the device, and carelessly tossed it down the stairs. She watched it fly over the landing, now practically miles away from her, the only way to help Owen, whose questions could still be heard distantly over the com.

Gray, the fucking bastard, leaned over her gasping body, talking something about death, but all she could focus on was gun—no time—Owen, even as the intruder touched her face, surprisingly gentle. His touch produced a chill throughout her body, and an urge to spit in his face. She didn't have that ability at the moment, and she cursed for being so foolishly unobservant right when the situation came to a boiling point. She was endangering Owen's life the longer she was on the ground. She had to get up.

Before she could move, Gray bent over her, his breath hot on her face, his eyes alternating between tense eye contact and amused wandering along her body.

"Technology genius," spat Gray, "what a waste. You could've done so much more. I've done my research. I know what my brother values most here; his team is the most important thing in this life, even a sad jailbird like you, and I'm here to take that away from him. To cause him pain, just so he can feel a sliver of what I felt for years." Gray straddled Tosh, leaning forward onto her, putting his body weight on her core. She could only hold in a shout for a second, but the weight of a grown, vengeful man was too much, and she let out an ugly scream that she was sure could be heard throughout the Hub.

'Oh god, the others,' she thought, names pushing their way through the piercing wound. 'Gwen—Ianto.' She realized they were handling the weevils, unaware to the new danger. Or had Gray gotten to them already? Were they bleeding out, or given quick deaths and carelessly thrown in a pile reminiscent of a horror movie? 'Oh please, please, let them be—'

"Gray, let her go!" shouted John from across the floor.

"Shut up, Hart!" For a second, Gray seemed to lose his cool, his eyes burning. "I'm done with you now."

Gray ignored John's shouts for Gwen and Ianto as his focus turned back to the tech.

Tosh screamed again as Gray grasped her broken arm, squeezed, and pressed it flat to the floor. Her arm protested, trying to resist the whole way. She could feel the broken bones scratch against each other. With her good arm, she blindly wound up and punched Gray in the face, desperate for him to release her. Gray was knocked to one side and had to catch himself with a hand on the ground, but he recovered quickly and restrained her good arm as well. She looked at the blood that freely flowed from his lips and felt a hint of satisfaction.

"Get off of me!" yelled Tosh, twisting her head sideways, yet struggling less fiercely than before, the wound in her stomach becoming more painful with every muscle movement.

Gray ignored her. He leaned closer and looked her right in the eyes, spitting poison and literal flecks of blood with his words.

"Every single person here in Jack's new family — you, the ones in the cells — I will kill them slowly, because that's what Jack deserves. To know they died because of his actions. Because he left me to perish all alone, and he was unable to keep you from the same fate. You died because he cared for you." He paused, and then said more as an afterthought, "And that pale one, I'll find him too. He won't make it to tomorrow."

Tosh understood three things from this. One: Gwen and Ianto were still alive downstairs, albeit for who knew how much longer. Two: Owen was safe for now, as long as he kept improvising. If he improvised just a bit longer, and she was incredibly lucky, she could get to her com and help him save the meltdown, save the city. Three: Gray and Jack had a complicated history, and they really needed therapy to sort it all out. Shame she didn't study psychology at University.

The last weevil left in the middle of the floor, right where it went down, let out a hoarse grunt, shifting slightly in its attempt to recover. Gray looked up and watched as it roused itself up to a crouching position, and as soon as it made eye contact with him, Gray shot it in the forehead. Tosh flinched and jerked under him, crying for the unnecessary loss of life, caught in the middle of a storm.

Gray glanced down at Tosh again and almost smirked. "Death can be such a relief."

A hand moved to encircle her neck, placing it firmly and without squeezing. He placed it there just to let Tosh know that he could do it. Of course, she did not need any convincing of the fact that he could kill her with a flick of the wrist and a gnash of his teeth. The other hand remained on her broken arm as additional persuasion.

When he spoke and when he didn't, Tosh could see he was determined, driven, willing to do anything he could to get what he wanted. His eyes were hard, staring at her and through her. They also seemed unemotional, unchanging. And then there were moments, brief moments, that she swore she could see rage or sadness, but his hardened heart hid those quickly.

"What's your biggest fear?" Gray asked, which honestly took Tosh by surprise. What kind of question was that, at this particular moment in time? It was dying. Of course, it was dying. She wasn't going to try and be clever about it, not now. Her biggest fear was dying right then and there, unable to see Owen, Gwen, Jack, Ianto, or her mother again. It was never getting the opportunity to learn anything new, create anything new, to never smile again. It was knowing that she would never tell Owen how she felt (curse that hopeless romantic begging to escape), knowing that Owen had died at Turnmill believing that Tosh abandoned him.

Her thoughts were interrupted as Gray leaned in closer, his eyes piercing into hers. "What is your biggest fear, Ms. Toshiko Sato?"

She stared back at him, biting through the pain, through the terror and intimidation. "You."

At that, Gray paused, surprised by Tosh's response. Apart from the brief moment of pause, Tosh could only guess what he was thinking. Perhaps he was taken aback, or pleasantly surprised, or simply did not know how to respond to such a blunt answer. Nevertheless, he recovered from the thought and moved his hand from Tosh's neck to flat on the floor by her head, not as immediately threatening, but still very present.

"I appreciate that, but your biggest fear should be my brother. Because his heart is stone. He left me to torture, never came back, even after all these years, and yet he's having the time of his life with you. And he'll do it again, with you all. He'll leave you to death and hop on to the next blissful team, leaving you as only unhappy memories."

Through the immense pressure and threat of passing out, Tosh maintained defiant eye contact with Gray. That wasn't Jack. He had one of the biggest hearts she knew. His love for his team, his utter devastation that he couldn't find Gray. Yet she was sure that even if she had told Gray this, his own heart and mind would deny any possibility of it. He was too far gone.

"Jack is the one to fear."

And thanks to some actual 'deus ex machina,' Torchwood edition, the "pale one" stood above Gray and Tosh, gun drawn and held at point blank to Gray's head.

"Off her. Now."

Tosh's eyes refocused on the newcomer. Fucking hell.

Gray hesitated, and for a second he glared down at Tosh, irritated, as if she had planned all this — Tosh glared back up at him, irritated and scared and furious and grimacing in pain as he squeezed her broken arm one last time — and then he stood up off of her, hands in the air. The weight on her middle and her arms felt instant relief. Her sight had gone fuzzy with hot tears and she blinked them away before she made eye contact with Owen.

There he was, a miracle in and of himself, with somewhat of a halo from the fluorescent ceiling lights behind him, keeping firm aim on Gray. He looked as if he were going to punch him out right then and there, his breathing deep yet unsteady.

Toshiko, laying lightheaded on the floor with a pool of blood forming beneath her, wondered if she was hallucinating.

Gray rolled his eyes as he turned to face Owen. "Speak of the de—"

His quip was cut off short when Owen delivered a satisfying punch to his gut, bringing him down, breathless to the ground beside Tosh. Owen kicked away his gun and it skidded away.

"Yes!" shouted John from the floor — whom Tosh has forgotten was in the room — bleeding still, though John seemed to be paying more attention to the trio than his own self, something that Tosh would've been impressed with if she wasn't still catching her breath and grimacing from being fucking shot. "Fuck you, you psychopathic pile of shit! Serves you ri—" He winced as he attempted an enthusiastic yet painful fist pump to the air.

Owen quickly found a pair of cuffs and restrained Gray to one of the bars on the staircase. "Fuck fuck fuck," muttered Owen as he assessed the situation and performed speedy triages on Tosh and John. Tosh, being the body in most need — the shot to John's leg was through-and-through — was seen to first. Owen ran to the autopsy area and grabbed scalpels, clamps, povidone-iodine for cleaning, and all the gauze he could carry.

As Owen knelt down to attend to Tosh and started pouring the solution onto her wound, she reached up and squeezed his arm weakly. "Gwen, Ianto," she said breathlessly. "They're down with Janet and other...escaped weevils. They could be...hurt, too."

Owen took in the information and then slammed his palms against the floor. "Fucking—where the hell is Jack?! He has no right to disappear or die or whatever and then not revive himself and help his team! This really could not be at a worse time..."

"Owen—" Tosh winced as the clamps were set in place.

"I'm sorry. No painkillers," apologized Owen. "I'll make it up to you with a new computer."

Tosh attempted a smile. "Good luck, my equipment costs hundreds and thousands...of pounds." She paused. "Owen...Turnmill. How..."

"A bit of luck and brains is all I needed." Owen's chin seemed to lift an inch or two higher, but then he smiled slightly. "Not mine, though. She came back to help." After a puzzled look from Tosh, he focused again on her wound. "Now shush, I need to get this bullet out."

Tosh complied. She winced and gasped whenever Owen poked or prodded a particularly sensitive spot, which was really everywhere in her abdomen.

But eventually she heard a soft tink on the tile floor as Owen extracted the bullet from her body. The following sanitization and bandaging of her wounds were painful, but she felt a sense of relief that both the bullet and the man who shot the bullet were removed from her immediate person. What was left was the healing.

She looked over to Gray, cuffed to the bars. He was sitting, head hung between his legs. He was shaking but made no sound.

Owen squeezed her hand reassuringly, so much different than Gray, before getting up and going to John's aid.

Tosh laid still on the ground with eyes closed, attempting to control her breathing, which when too deep would send a wave of pain pulsing through her abdomen.

"What the hell happened here?!"

"Tosh?" came a distant female voice from her left, and growing fast. "Tosh!"

Tosh turned her head to the left to see Gwen and Ianto rush in, guns drawn, to her and John.

Jack, lo and behold and certainly out of nowhere, had also arrived. In contrast to the others, he stood stone still, looking between Tosh, John, and his brother alone. From his expression, it seemed that he was not quite surprised, but indeed both enraged and heartbroken.

"Jack's brother just came in and attempted a massacre, that's what just happened here," answered Owen with evident annoyance in his voice. He was finishing up with John, applying the bandages as sparingly but effectively as possible. "Ianto! Bring me some more gauze!"

Ianto moved quickly, eyes wide as he passed by Tosh and Gray.

Eventually, the pain became too much and Tosh passed out.

Two weeks passed. John had returned to wherever or whenever the hell he was from, and Tosh was healing nicely. The Hub was more or less repaired, and the floor was wiped clean of the mess that had occurred. Even three-fourths of her workstation was up and operating smoothly.

Tosh had stayed home to heal earlier, by order of Jack, but she had insisted that she get back to work as soon as possible. Jack conceded, as long as she agreed to be temporarily doted on. She did, and so Gwen and Ianto, and really everyone, even Owen, treated Tosh with more care, bringing her coffee or snacks when she looked thirsty or hungry, bringing her an extra pillow for her chair, or cleaning her glasses when they smudged. Owen had already grown somewhat used to attending to her throughout his wellness checks to her apartment early on. She had come close to asking him out, but he was so focused on keeping her healing that she decided to leave it for later, when he could focus more on the personable attributes of himself rather than the professional.

She had brought a report to Jack's office one day while he was out, something about the correlation between rift activity and the number of people using wifi. She laid it on his desk, and as she turned to leave, she spotted a clear plastic bag. It was laying on a table on the way out, and so as she left, she stole a glance. In the bag were two smaller, separate bags. One contained two bullets and was labeled "2 count, .45mm bullets extracted from John Hart, gunshot wound." The other contained one bullet and was labeled "1 count, .45mm bullet extracted from Toshiko Sato, gunshot wound."

Tosh took a deep breath and stared at it. It was so small, yet caused so much harm. So small, yet she was scared of it. She used guns all the time as part of the job. She had killed before. But somehow it was different when she was the one who had been shot, nearly losing her life in a place she viewed as a second home.

She stepped back, exited Jack's office, and returned to work.

Another week passed. Everyone had gone home for the weekend. Tosh was finishing up yet another report on rift activity, this one approaching it from a weather standpoint, and she realized she never really had closure from over two weeks ago. She never saw what happened after she passed out, and really no one wanted to describe it to her, either. So she got curious.

She started to look up the CCTV footage from the Hub that day, but decided against it. If just seeing the bullet made her feel that uncomfortable, then surely the play-by-play would make her feel much worse.

Instead, she searched for Gray in the database. His face popped up in the profile. It made her jump, just for a second, but as her heartbeat slowed, she stared at him, studying his features. This was taken after his death. His eyes closed, his face almost peaceful. Boyish features, less mature than Jack's. He was a boy once, one who enjoyed playing outside and spending time with his family. But then the past happened, and he turned into someone else — a tortured individual who felt that this was the only way to rid his inner torment. It just made her sad.

Also on the profile was the word "DECEASED" and a letter-number combination for where Gray's body resided in the morgue. Looking down at his face — would that bring her closure? She wanted to know.

A soft thunk of a boot landed behind her. She jumped and turned to see Jack, standing solemnly ten feet from her with his hands in his coat pockets. Tosh, embarrassed, turned to close the computer screen, but Jack halted her.

"It's okay, Toshiko." He calmly strode up to her computer and regarded the screen with her. "We're okay." Jack rested a gentle handle on Tosh's shoulder. "The battle's done."

A/N: So it took me MONTHS to write this because I'm a slow writer and proofreader, but now I'm so proud of this, even if it is depressing. All typos are mine. Who knows, I'll probably come back to this in the future and decide that it's subpar or something, but there's no time like the present! I would like to personally thank COVID-19 for forcing me to actually get this done, but I still wish it'd get sucked into a blackhole. I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and critiques!

Be safe, everyone!