Probably not my best work as I haven't written properly in about a year. But I hope it'll be alright.
Title: Second Glance
Author: Harmony (Silver Harmony)
Characters/Pairing: Toshiko & Owen
Word Count: Approximately 1,446.
Disclaimer: Not mine, sadly.
Notes: Set at the end of Adam, after Tosh finds the flowers from Owen. I wrote this feeling that while Adam was able to manipulate both memories and emotions, he didn’t exactly manipulate character; somehow, nerdy!Owen actually felt surprisingly natural – there were endearing parts of his characterization that I believe actually could’ve existed in the past, before he lost Katie. Keeping that in mind, I’m just going from there.
Feedback: Very much appreciated, as I need it to improve. Thank you!
Summary: He never looks at her twice.
He never looks at her twice. And she’s accustomed to it.
And she thinks it’s strange, now, when she passes the little kitchenette and he’s there, uninterestedly grabbing a couple of snacks for himself, and his eyes snap up to meet hers so abruptly that she actually pauses mid-stride. He unconsciously rubs his spidery fingers against the rough denim of his jeans and raises both his eyebrows, almost challengingly, before shifting onto his other foot and sweeping cleanly away past her without looking back. His gaze, in those fleeting seconds that their eyes had met, had maybe wavered even for the briefest moment; or maybe, Toshiko found herself reasoning, it was her imagination.
I think somebody’s winding you up, darling. I don’t do flowers, she keeps hearing him say in that cutting drawl. And I definitely don’t do apologies.
That day, she keeps the bouquet at her computer station as she does her work – fragrant white petals and long stalks and stout, scratchy leaves gracefully bowing into the heap of documents beside her keyboard. It feels strange there, delicately lovely amongst the mess of dusty machines and crisp piles of paper, but it leaves her with an unsaid comfort. Once in a while, she stops to glance at it, to lean over and breathe in the subtle honeyed scent. Several times, as she does this, she wonders if they really did come from Owen.
Something had shifted earlier that morning, maybe, when they’d all woken up in the boardroom with no memory of how they got there – stiff backs and aching bones and sticky, tear-streaked faces; and Owen, sitting across from her, had raised his head and openly blinked and blearily gazed at her, watery and wide-eyed as if seeing her for the very first time. She must’ve been doing the same, she realised after an instant, because that simple, pure moment of almost-rebirth was too suddenly gone; and there he was again, snapping back into place, the methodical, logical, practical Owen she knew – roughly pushing his chair back with a loud clatter, briskly walking out and demanding to know what was going on.
She wonders if that was maybe the longest he’d ever looked at her. And now, thinking back to it, she guiltily feels as if it wasn’t nearly long enough.
‘So beautiful,’ she whispers to herself, taking one more smell of the elegant bouquet.
She looks up casually from her computer to where Owen is sitting at his own workstation, and he is glancing over in her direction with an unreadable expression, something akin to hardened curiosity, perhaps. But their eyes meet for maybe the fifth time that day and he instantly looks away and goes back to his own work. They’d been dancing uncertainly around each other like this since they’d woken up in the boardroom that morning, looking at each other, looking away from each other, looking at each other. And, she thinks sadly, she sort of enjoys it.
‘Everything okay, Owen?’ she asks.
He doesn’t answer – in fact, he seems to duck away and work harder and even more busily on something – but she knows the kind of reply he would’ve made, in any case.
It is when she has finished her work and is leaving for home later that evening, the weight of the large bouquet comforting in her palms, that she is startled by Owen’s face appearing suddenly in the corner of her vision. Toshiko jumps; she wonders briefly if he had been skulking behind her in wait, but then realises, almost self-pityingly, how laughably improbable that is.
‘Sorry. You scared me,’ she says simply.
He raises a long eyebrow at her. ‘You’re taking it home with you, then.’
She looks at him in confusion.
‘You’re not even really sure who they’re from,’ he continues, when she doesn’t say anything. It feels strangely like he’s trying to fill up the silence with words. But, she tells herself, that can’t be right. This is Owen, who never really looks at her, who doesn’t really start conversations with her if it isn’t necessary – who doesn’t normally fix his eyes so intently and curiously on her the way he is doing now.
She picks up the card nestled within the crisp leaves with one hand and shows it to him again.
‘We might not remember anything of the last two days, Owen,’ she says, and even though she tries to sound resolute, she knows in her heart that she’s insecure about it, the way she always is when it comes to anything involving him. ‘But look at this one more time and tell me this isn’t your handwriting.’
‘Trust you to be so set on pinning it on me. We don’t remember anything. You’d never know if someone forged it.’
His eyes automatically narrow, and he keeps his gaze on her, and he doesn’t turn to look at the card at all. She notices, suddenly, that even though there is a hard look to his eyes he seems disquieted, shifting his weight from one side to the other, hands clasped together behind his back; and surprisingly, despite his unrest, he is not turning around to leave. Again, she silently wonders whether the flowers could have come from him.
‘Have you checked your wallet?’ she casually asks to break the pause, feeling somehow hesitant. ‘Maybe you kept the invoice for the flowers?’
And it is then that his gaze slips away from her, a strange look of barely-there awkwardness crossing his face, and he turns around and promptly starts making his way to the Hub exit, without a word in answer.
And it dawns on her. Everything, all at once.
‘Owen,’ she calls out quickly. ‘Owen, wait.’
She places the bouquet back down on her desk and runs across to him. Because even though he never looks at her twice, he had kept glancing over doubtfully at her throughout the course of the day. Because he’s a tough-edged person who apparently doesn’t do flowers, and doesn’t do apologies, but has the capacity to let curious uncertainty show through his dark eyes. Because she knows he’s a good person – the reason why she has always loved him, even though she’s sure that he would never love her back, and that doesn’t even matter. Because she believes now, without any doubt, that it must’ve been Owen.
He turns slightly, not meeting her eyes, and she leans up and brushes her lips lightly against his cheekbone. It isn’t really much of a kiss, if it even counts as one. But she feels a tender warmth slowly spreading inside her at the contact and at her own boldness, and she almost wants to laugh when she sees his scandalised expression: one look at his face and anyone would think she’d done something completely outrageous.
‘I don’t remember what they’re for, and I guess that you don’t either,’ she says softly. ‘But they’re not out of character for you. You’re a good person, Owen Harper, and nobody would be so fond of you if you were a complete bastard.’
‘In your dreams, Tosh,’ he rolls his eyes sharply.
For once, she’s not discouraged by this at all; in fact, the corners of her lips curl upwards. It’s just like him. ‘Whatever it is that you were apologising for, I’d forgive you ten times over.’
‘I’m going home,’ Owen curtly turns on his heel and continues walking to the exit.
‘Thank you for the flowers,’ Toshiko calls out, grinning.
He turns his head slightly to look at her again – to her surprise – and fashions his expression into an obvious glare. Amused, she watches pointedly as he leaves. She doesn’t know if she’ll get this moment between them again, and there is no way she’d not hold onto it.
She walks back to her desk; the delicate aroma of the flowers lingers there, and it almost feels natural by now, as if the sweet scent has always belonged. She’s certain that everything between her and Owen will be back to normal tomorrow, but for now she’s at peace, and it’ll be a different day at Torchwood nonetheless: every day at work is something new, something extraordinary, and she looks forward to it. To Tosh: love and apologies, Owen.
She gently picks up her bouquet, giving it one last content sniff, and makes her way home.