Ships: Jack/Ianto - and really CTA is only up to ep4... (I'd put Ianto/Lisa, but they've been ex' since about 1000 BC)
Warnings: Suicidal themes. Occassional gwen-bash. Character death.
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood or Doom or Doctor Who - the characters, idea, situations, etc. - nothing really. A&A song isn't mine either.
Call To Arms
"Hello, sweetheart," Ianto said quietly. He smiled down at the lying woman and gently squeezed her hand.
Lisa opened her eyes and grinned back at him even though the muscles in her face felt lax and even through the heavy medication she felt a stab of pain every now and then.
"I thought you weren't coming back tonight," she said slowly. "Or is it morning already?" Even her body had trouble managing the drugs and cyber programming at the same time and she often spent entire days sleeping as opposite to times when she couldn't fall asleep no matter what. Her days were long and nights even longer and she had long since forgotten when which was.
"It's still evening," Ianto assured her before setting up a computer on a chair beside her 'bed'.
"The hub's empty. I'm supposed to be at Owen's beck and call and I can do that from here as well as from the house. Not to mention that I'll probably have a clean-up job to do later," he said as he was pulling up CCTV to monitor hub's entrances. He didn't want to be surprised.
"Remember – I told you that Jack wants to hire someone normal and preferably with some kind of combat training?" he asked when he noticed her questioning look.
"The human element," Lisa rasped. "I remember."
Ianto frowned. He would offer her ice-water, but there was so little human left of her body that water would offer her no relief at all. The dryness in her throat was a short circuit in one of the chips that were infused in her brain.
"Yes. Well, it seems he's found one. Curious little thing, really. She's a police constable and we've been monitoring her for a while."
Lisa chuckled. She would have laughed, but that would have hurt more.
He took her hand in his and caressed her cheek. "Easy."
When she calmed down he continued. "Well – I've been monitoring her for a while. And yes," he knew what she was asking even if she didn't voice her question, "a junior police constable isn't exactly my standard for 'combat training' either, love."
"He's going to hire her?"
"If she'll remember – yes," he answered with a frown. "That is kind of sad, because I enjoyed setting up the scenarios."
"Tell me," she asked squeezing his hand with all her strength. She had woken up this morning for the first time this week.
His lips curved into a sad smile when he felt her fingers press against his lightly. "So – I already told you about how we set her up at the murder scene yesterday. I didn't doubt that she'd be curious enough to spy on them, which reminds me – I'll later print out the still from CCTV, you should see her face when Jack called her on her eavesdropping.
'Anyway – yesterday we raised her curiosity – today we tested how far she'd go to get answers. I set up a bar fight which wasn't overly difficult – people are so easily riled nowadays - and made sure it was her patrol that was sent to cool things down. I actually paid one of the guys to punch her hard enough to warrant a short hospital visit, but it turned out that I wasted my money, because she managed to get herself pushed into a wall by accident. I actually feel insulted by that one."
Lisa snorted. "Poor thing."
"I meant her," she said forcing her lips into a small, cold smile. Her tone was light with amusement; she still had control over her vocal chords and managed to convey emotion with her voice that her face was no longer capable of.
"Of course," he remarked stiffly although his face was alight with joy. "After her examination Jack made sure that she saw him enter the stairway and when he heard her following - he took off to the highest floor. I planted a story about biological hazards and chemical accidents earlier that day and we had marked the whole floor off as dangerous. She followed him and met Janet as planned. Now – what I really hadn't planned was for a porter to show up. He got killed and I had to act as a false witness who saw him leaving and will have to dispose of his body later. At this moment it's soiling the trunk of the SUV."
"You're displeased," she noted.
"They got carried away. They left her with Janet for too long – they were too convinced that Janet is domesticated and won't attack. And while I did work on Janet with Gwen's pictures and she was unlikely to attack… They were stupid, my shoes got ruined while I was wrapping up the body and the SUV will stink for days unless I clean it," he said calmly though his lips were curled in distaste. "I hate cleaning up their mess."
Lisa sighed. She'd suggest that he quit, but they fought about that often enough. "What do you think of this Gwen?" she asked in a not very subtle attempt to change the subject.
"She's curious. Persistent. She's definitely not brilliant, but she's smart enough to put the pieces together. I'm not sure whether she has attitude or pretends to have one. Easy."
Lisa trembled in a fit of suppressed laughter. Pain shot through her body and she gasped loudly even though her lungs had stopped functioning months ago and oxygen to her was provided by the machines.
"You know that I didn't mean it like that," he chided her softly. "She's easy to accept and to adapt. She's easy to startle, surprise and fool. She's easy to like and dislike. She's easy to figure out. And, yes, she's easy on the eyes as well. I don't think that Jack would ever hire someone who isn't.
'She's the normal he wants. She's friendly enough, caring enough and not messed up enough. She's the average do-gooder on the street who thinks that their personal dramas have impact on the whole wide world so let's all share a smile.
'We are her nightmarish fairytale ride and she'll be our exit sign."
Lisa looked at him worriedly. His distress was painfully visible to her and she wished she could comfort him, but there was so much more to his worries than Gwen Cooper and his issues ran so deep that she wasn't sure she wanted to bring it all up again.
"Did you get hold of that cybernetics doctor?"
Ianto took a deep breath and collected himself before answering. "Yeah."
"He can be here within three months," he said quietly.
Lisa closed her eyes for a minute. "I don't think that I can hold on for that long," she said softly.
He squeezed her hand hard. "You can," he insisted. "No one could have survived what you did, but you did. We're not meant to die, Lisa, and I'm not going to give up."
"It's been so long," she whispered tearfully although there were no tears in her eyes. She couldn't cry since Canary Wharf.
He knew that she didn't mean what she had endured ever since the aborted attempt to convert her. He bit his lip refusing to be dragged into ancient and painful memories. Not tonight.
"I'm sorry," she said. "Ever since I'm hooked up to this machine here I keep thinking and remembering all that I wish would have stayed forgotten."
"You keep on fighting. You hold on and when it's over we'll forget again together," he promised. "As long as you hold on – I won't give up.
'And I'm sorry too. I'm sorry that I can't do this alone, but I can't risk you. Not more than I already have."
"What an ancient and sorry bunch we are," she said and there was a tone of resignation in her voice.
He had nothing to say to that. He sat in silence until half-hour later his phone rang. It was Jack calling to tell him that Gwen had gone home and would he be so nice and keep an eye out on her computer.
Lisa fell back into sleep while he was busy deleting the file on Gwen's computer. He turned off the computer – his and Gwen's – kissed Lisa's forehead and went back upstairs. He didn't take his laptop with him.
He'd just finished checking CCTV on hub's main computers to make sure that there was nothing suspicious about him and was about to leave when Jack walked in.
"You know when I said that you should be on stand-by – I didn't mean for you to stay here."
There was something to each word of phrase. For a man who didn't like to talk about emotions – Jack expressed plenty in the way how he spoke. Ianto noted surprise, amusement and oddly – concern.
"I know, sir," he replied simply.
"Good," Jack stated. "So what are you still doing here?"
"I had some work to finish and it was easier to access PC Cooper's personal computer from the hub than it would've been from my house," all his words were correctly spoken and his voice perfectly measured. Ianto showed very little of himself in his manners. It was best for them not to know much about him and it was easier for him if they didn't notice him.
"Right then – do you need help getting home?" Jack quickly turned the conversation around and leered at Ianto. "It's late, you know. And you must be exhausted here working."
Every now and then Jack would harass him with not so subtle innuendos and suggestions – Ianto had soon found the best methods of discouragement. For all that – he would be hard pressed to admit that he wasn't amused by the Captain's antics.
"As a matter of fact there is something you could give me a hand with," he said softly.
"Really?" Jack's eyes lit up in anticipation.
"Really," Ianto assured. "There's a body at the back of the SUV. If you'd be as kind and dump it in the bay for me."
Jack visibly deflated. "That's your job."
Ianto resisted the urge to smirk. "Goodnight, sir."
The body was already stiff and cold. He loaded the dead porter in the trunk of his own car and decided that he'll clean up the SUV tomorrow or whenever fancy will strike him. It was already late and Ianto Jones needed to sleep more often than once in a week or at least pretend that he needed to.
The attitude of his careless colleagues amused him. He knew very well that if he'd be like any other simple human he would have expired quite a while ago out of pure exhaustion. Everyone with their so very important jobs couldn't be bothered with cleaning up after themselves, dumping a body and planting a trail of evidence or occasionally even finishing up their own which always added to his standard duties of taking care of the tourist office and the aliens in the cells and providing food for the team.
He drove an hour out of Cardiff to dump the porter. He knew the exact places he needed to dump a body for it to show up in the bay a few days later. Of course he could've dumped it somewhere in the city, but it was easier to monitor ocean currents than edit half the city's CCTV to make sure he wasn't seen. Yes, in his old age Ianto was getting rather lazy.
It was close to three in the morning when he finally walked into his house. Then he remembered that he should've planted the image of the knife at the police computers to give them and Gwen a clue. It was unlikely that they would piece together the image with their technology if he didn't help. And it was even unlikelier that PC Cooper would remember anything without the prompt. And Jack wanted Gwen on the team. Ianto didn't really care.
He liked Suzie. He honestly did – it was pleasant to be acquainted with someone so perfectly messed up and completely in control of their actions at the same time; however she also was getting careless and it was almost too easy to set her up. Ianto sighed.
It was then that he remembered that he had left his laptop with Lisa. He cursed quietly. He couldn't go back to hub just yet, because he knew that Harkness lived there, but he also couldn't wait until the morning. It was no longer the trail of evidence that he was concerned with, but a laptop within a reach of cyberwoman. Oh, he knew that Lisa would never do something stupid, but she wasn't always in control of herself either.
He tossed his shoes into a bag – they had dried blood on them and he so wasn't going to try and get it out. He would burn the shoes in the hub's incinerator later. After a moment he stripped and shoved his suit in the same bag. He felt dirty.
After two hours of resisting the urge to climb the walls of his house, he got dressed and drove back to the hub. It was five in the morning and he wasn't sure that Jack wouldn't be up. The man seemed to haunt the base, but Ianto wasn't one to deny people's odd urges now and then. He knew how it felt. If only it wouldn't be so bloody inconvenient sometimes.
"When I say bright and early – it doesn't really mean– with the sunrise," Jack said while leaning on the railing. He yawned and pretended to be awakened by the hub's alarm while in reality he had been going over the last week's reports.
"The sun's not up yet, sir," Ianto replied and let a hint of tiredness in his tone.
"So – why are you here?"
There was no suspicion – only curiosity and concern in Jack's voice and that made him feel strangely comforted although Ianto was fairly sure he didn't need comfort. Not like other people did. Just like he could do more and needed less – exactly like everyone assumed although to them he was just another one of them or maybe someone beneath them if they treated him like they did.
"I couldn't sleep, sir," he said the partial truth.
For a moment it looked like Jack was going to ask for elaboration, however the moment passed, "Then make me a cup of your brilliant coffee, would you?"
"Of course, sir."
He hacked the Cardiff police servers not long after and planted the picture of the knife. It was another hour before Ianto was sure that Jack was busy and wouldn't feel like spying on his subordinates – it was then that he finally could venture down to Lisa.
"Stop!" he cried rushing over to her and knocking the laptop down on the floor hard enough to make the screen crack.
The laptop hardly resembled one. There were wires, gadgets and gizmos attached to it and it was obvious that something had been in the process of being created. He took the thing and threw it against the wall as hard as he could. It shattered in hundreds of little pieces.
Lisa shuddered and opened her eyes. Her pupils contracted and dilated rapidly, but after a while she seemed to gain control of her body. "I'm sorry! So sorry!"
He drew in a long calming breath. "Don't be silly. It was my fault for leaving it here."
"Every time I close my eyes I feel like I'm losing ground in the battle for my body, but with every waking moment I feel like I'm losing the fight for my sanity," she confessed in a voice strained with distress.
"Nothing out of the ordinary then," he quipped although his tone lacked the humor.
"I don't think I'm getting out of this one," she said quietly.
"Stop it! Just stop! Shut up!" he blew up at her. "You don't get to say these things. I will fix you. I will fix you and then it's long past for Ianto Jones to die – we will leave. We will disappear and we will forget this entire nightmare and remind ourselves why we're still around."
"Why?" she croaked and not for the first time wished that she could still shed a tear. "Why are we still around?"
"Because we are alive, damn it."
"Not we. You are. I'm dying a slow death just like Grainne. Just like Flavius. Just like Maria," she said and her voice broke with grief with each pronounced name. "Maybe they had the right idea all along."
"No," he denied although his tone lacked conviction. "They were wrong. Don't you dare to say that they were right," tears pooled in his eyes. "Don't you remember how they suffered? I can still hear her screaming every time I see a bonfire."
"But I'm suffering now," she pleaded. "It's been so long and I just want to give up."
"No," he choked out. Tears were falling over his cheeks and on their clasped hands. "Not after all we've lived through. Not after all you made me live through. You don't get to say that you want to quit after three thousand years."
"I just want to rest," she beseeched. "All we've lost," her voice held all the tears and anguish she couldn't express with the rest of her body. "I lie here awake and I can't stop myself – I see all of them. I see home. I don't want to be strong anymore. I can't."
He took long and deep although choked breaths. He tried to calm himself, because they couldn't afford to lose it both. He had to be there for her. He had to pull her from the edge as she had done so many times to him. It's just – he had never been on the other side of the ledge trying to talk someone down. He was usually the one on the ledge.
"You say – you keep thinking and remembering things," he paused after every few words, but he didn't stutter. "Then remember something good.
'Like all those times we tried to smuggle silkworms out of China or the Heraea Games. Remember Heraea Games! You won the race and they offered you food for life as a reward?"
"I said I'd rather have a laurel wreath or a palm branch," Lisa offered quietly.
"See," he said pleadingly. "We had good times. Even after."
He breathed more easily. It felt as if he had gained something – managed to get her to take his hand. He smiled a broken smile.
"I never said we didn't," she said softly and all the ground he had felt he'd gained – he lost. "Would you up the dosage on pain meds, please?"
He looked at her for a moment with a blank gaze. She hurt and he wanted to help her, but for the life of him – he couldn't let her give up. He was selfish and afraid to become the last one. "Sure," he agreed softly and adjusted the parameters on the machines.
"I'll sleep for a while now," Lisa informed him quietly. "Come back later?" she didn't tell him to leave – she asked him to come back after he'd leave.
After Lisa fell asleep Ianto went to the Archives and busied himself with ordering what didn't really need to be ordered. It was several hours before he finally decided to show up on the main floor although he didn't doubt that nobody would come looking for him if he decided to stay in the Archives for the rest of the day.
Tosh and Owen were already at their stations which forced him to conclude that he had been down longer than he had expected. If Owen was already at work…
"Ahh, Ianto!" Jack called from his office. "I thought you fell asleep down there!"
"Quite the contrary, sir," he responded calmly glad to note that his distress was well under control.
"Well – fine time to show up, teaboy! I want breakfast!" Owen called.
"Right," Ianto said quietly – more to himself than to anyone else. "The usual?"
"Yeah – and don't forget coffee!"
"Tosh?" he asked when the resident computer genius didn't offer any requests.
"Oh. Breakfast?" she asked forcefully turning away from the monitor. "Remember you once got me salad with chicken – I don't remember how it was called, but it was delicious. Could you …?"
"Sure," he said with a smile although unbidden came thought whether he was supposed to memorize everything Torchwood ate at any given time? "You, sir?"
"I'm alright," Jack said smiling down at him. "Just bring me some coffee."
He nodded and left. Later when he was waiting for his order on their breakfasts Ianto wondered how long it will take for Torchwood Three to starve to death or die from indigestion when he'll finally be gone.
Tosh was busy, Owen looked bored and Jack was nowhere around. Ianto concluded that it was unlikely that they'd make the effort to have the breakfast together. Not that he cared. He really didn't – there were times when he'd forcibly gone without breakfast longer than one would like to imagine and the loss of easy camaraderie with colleagues over a meal wasn't something he was going to angst over. He supposed that the sadness lay with the fact that he didn't feel disappointed.
Torchwood Three was a means to an end and it was almost too easy to distance himself. When one lived as long as he had – days tended to blend together and the time he had already spent here seemed nothing more than one really bad and really long day.
"Oh… Thank you!" Tosh thanked him when he set her salad on a nearby surface. "Ianto …?"
He nodded and moved towards Owen not noticing the questioning tilt in her voice when she called his name.
"Ianto – are you alright?" she asked directly.
"Yes, of course," he answered turning to face her. He wondered what had prompted her sudden concern and interest.
"It's just …," she seemed unsure of what to say next. Ianto was a constant in their chaotic lives – he never seemed anything less than perfectly fine, but today something was different and she couldn't really put her finger on it. She scrutinized him until she noticed the redness around his eyes. Tosh had never seen him appear so worn.
"You look tired," she said finally. He seemed much older than his supposed twenty six years.
Ianto blinked. He was unsure how to respond to her unexpected show of concern. He also wondered how bad he must look for her to notice it. Finally he smiled reassuringly and said softly, "Just been having a little trouble sleeping lately. I'm fine, really."
Owen frowned. "Everyone's fine around here until they collapse," he said snidely and glanced at Tosh.
Tosh didn't have the decency to blush. She knew what Owen was referring to, but refused to be ashamed. He had been new to the job and she had long ago developed a habit of keeping to herself – little cold hadn't seemed overly threatening until she had collapsed with pneumonia. Owen still hadn't forgiven her or himself.
Hub alarm's blared and Suzie walked in.
"Thought you took the morning off," Owen called to her.
"I did," she responded before rolling her eyes and heading towards her desk. "Hi. And nice to see you too, Owen. By the way," she mocked not really bothering to do it quietly.
"Its afternoon as of now as a matter of fact," Ianto supplied glancing at the watch on the wall. Suzie smirked.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah! Punctuality! Give me my breakfast," Owen helped himself and took his breakfast and coffee off the tray Ianto was carrying.
Ianto smiled lightly and looked at Suzie, but before he could ask anything she waved him off, "I already ate. Thanks."
He nodded and went up to Jack's office to leave the man's coffee on his table.
He'd been sitting in silence beside Lisa not knowing what to say for the past half-hour when his earpiece jerked to life and Owen spoke into his ear.
"Ianto, come up to the autopsy."
He didn't think to question the request. Owen probably had misplaced some piece of equipment again or wanted more coffee. Nothing unusual. "Give me a few minutes," he requested.
"Go," Lisa urged.
Ianto didn't move. He just stared at her. She was the strongest person he knew. He relied on her so much that he didn't know how to return the favor.
"At least it'll give you time to think of something to say," she said and judging from her tone of voice – it was meant to cheer him up.
"Go," she pushed when he still didn't move a muscle. "Your teammate needs you."
Ianto stood and there was some bitterness in his voice when he spoke, "A fucking babysitter – that's what they need."
She looked at him long and hard. She was angry at him for his words and at the same time she feared for him. Ever since Flavius killed himself Ianto seemed to distance himself from the world around and while living often forgot what living meant. She hated him when he became like he was now – seemingly too superior to have anything to do with anyone who wasn't like them. It was self-destructive, because everyone else was dead – it was just them. For Lisa his death was not an option. She had pulled him back too many times. Saving him was like saving herself to her, but now when she felt herself losing, when she finally wanted to lose – she refused to drag him down with her.
"Taking care of others has never been your strong suit," she spat. "So you obviously don't qualify for the job."
He turned on his heel and left before he said something that he would regret. He knew what she was doing when she said things like that, but that didn't make him feel any less riled. Lisa never failed to make him feel enough to lose control. Surprisingly the only other being who managed to faze him was Jack. When that happened Ianto blamed those 51st century pheromones Jack had confessed to be in possession of.
"Owen – what's the problem?" he asked stepping in the autopsy bay.
"You," the doctor responded not looking up to him. "Sit down," he motioned to the desk.
"If you want me to give you some nice pills – you have to let me check you out," Owen said exasperated finally looking up.
"I don't want any pills," Ianto said simply while trying to figure out what brought this on.
"You said you've not been sleeping well …"
"And?" Ianto interrupted. "It's nothing really. You don't have to bother."
The medic looked rather uncomfortable. "Just… Let me check you out, okay? Suzie will have my head if you collapse one day from sleep-deprivation and I'm rather fond of your coffee."
Honestly Ianto didn't think that Suzie would go that far – even if she was somewhat murder-happy recently. "One might think you care," he said carefully.
Owen growled at the comment. "Will you stop beating around the bush? I have actually work to do."
"Then don't let me stop you."
"Damn it, Ianto," Owen exclaimed. "Do you have to be so difficult?"
"I'm not being difficult," he replied calmly. "Honestly!" he said raising his hands to demonstrate his harmlessness and truthfulness. The gun that was in the holster at his side somewhat ruined the expected impression.
Owen smirked, rolled his eyes and continued to look expectantly at Ianto.
"Look – if it won't stop – I'll get back to you, but now – I really am fine," he said in a pacifying manner. He really didn't want to test whether he could manage to falsify the test results with Owen hovering around. Because there was no need for the medic to know exactly how fine Ianto was.
"Swear," Owen demanded.
Ianto blinked. "You have got to be kidding me." Much had changed with time, but for Ianto – oaths meant something. He wasn't sure he wanted to give one so flippantly.
"You promise me – you'll come to me if you feel like keeling over or I sedate you now and run every test known to mankind just to entertain myself," the medic stated. "Your choice."
Ianto frowned. Promises he could break, but it wouldn't do if he gave in too easily so he pretended to mull it over for a while. "I promise."
"Good," Owen said obviously relieved. "Now go – you've wasted enough of my time."
Ianto resisted the urge to roll his eyes and left quietly.
"And you said that they don't care," Lisa remarked when he told her what Owen had wanted.
"I don't know what came over them," he said sitting down by her side and setting up a laptop nearby to monitor CCTV. He had gotten a new one before getting the team their breakfasts.
"Probably nothing," she said teasingly. "You just didn't notice before."
"Lisa," he warned her to stop.
"What? You often don't," she said not minding his warning.
"Stop changing the subject and making it all about me," he demanded. "We didn't finish our last conversation."
"What is there more to talk about?" she asked tiredly. All amusement gone from her.
"I don't know. How about the fact - that you suddenly want to kill yourself?" he couldn't keep his voice calm.
"It's not sudden," she said quietly. "It's been building up for months. When I lay here awake at odd hours of day or night – in the dark and alone…"
"If you feel lonely – I can be here more often!" he said. "I'll blow up the Archives and say that only I can be trusted to repair them – I'll be here every second you're awake."
She wished she could smile up at him. "No. That's not what I mean – I know I'm losing. I can't stand long against the programming. It will take over eventually."
"I'll make sure Dr. Tanizaki is able to arrive sooner," Ianto promised.
She squeezed his hand in what was meant to be a reassuring manner. "I hope he'll be able to help."
"He just has to assist. I'll make it work," Ianto's demeanor was full of determination.
They sat in silence after that. Lisa wanted to say more about how she felt, but she knew Ianto wouldn't listen – not now. Ianto knew he was far from pulling her off the proverbial edge, but he hoped he had given her hope. For the first time ever he knew how she must have felt every time she had to kick and drag him back from the ledge.
The laptop beeped. Ianto glanced at the screen and saw Suzie leaving the hub while at the same time Gwen Cooper was approaching the monument. He saw Suzie pull out a gun and barely a minute later the laptop beeped again – Jack was about to leave the hub on the lift. Ianto cursed.
He got up and ran – not really sure what to do when he'd reach them, when Lisa called out to him – "Don't forget the laptop!"
He was already around the corner when he heard her. He ran back and was about to disconnect and grab the computer when he saw Suzie shoot Jack in the head. Ianto gasped inadvertently; he froze on the spot, his gaze glued to the monitor.
Suzie stepped over Jack's body and advanced towards Gwen. Ianto sighed – he was pretty sure he knew how things were going to play out now. He zoomed the camera in on them and clenched his teeth – this wasn't how he had expected the things to go down. Jack was dead for heaven's sakes. Ianto didn't stop watching to think why the fact bothered him so much. Seconds trickled by but Suzie didn't shoot.
And then Jack stepped in the camera frame and Ianto chocked on the air he was breathing. "What the fuck?"
He felt Lisa's gaze on him, but she didn't ask and he didn't explain. Then Suzie shot herself. Ianto cursed and violently threw the laptop against the wall. There was nothing more to see.
"Stupid! So goddamn stupid!" he raged.
"What happened?" Lisa asked calmly and coldly. She didn't try to pacify him with her voice – she just wanted to know what was going on. There weren't a lot of things that could make Ianto seethe with anger.
He paused to take a deep breath. "Jack got shot in the head. He rose from the dead. Suzie shot herself in the head. I don't think she'll get up," he stated before starting to pace the room.
Lisa was quiet for a moment after. "That's unusual."
"What?" he stopped and glanced incredulously at her.
"Jack. He's unusual," she announced. "In our experience – dead people stay dead. He got up hence he's unusual," she looked at him as if he was especially dumb and slow.
"Right," he responded off-handedly.
"So it's Suzie," Lisa said thoughtfully.
"What?" he had trouble following her thoughts when his own where muddled with rage.
This was so stupid. It wasn't meant to happen. He hadn't planned this. This is why he hated people, life and everything associated – because he messed up. Although Lisa hadn't meant what she had said earlier that day – she had been right; he didn't know how to take care of people. And yet – somehow he never could just stay away.
"It's Suzie that got you so riled up," she said patiently. She had been dealing with his moods since before people realized that Earth was round – experience did make it easier.
"Obviously. Jack's alive isn't he," Ianto remarked.
"But you set her up," now that was the part that interested Lisa.
"And I would have bailed her out!" he exclaimed before turning and punching a wall.
Small bits of concrete fell to floor as his bruised and broken knuckles shifted back into place and grew a new skin. Not a drop of blood made it to the floor. It didn't make him feel better.
His earpiece blared to life before Lisa could say anything and Jack spoke into his ear. "Ianto – are you still down in the Archives?"
He made eye contact with Lisa and drew a deep breath to compose himself. "Yes. Is there anything you need, sir?"
There was no answer for a while and he used the time to get his anger under control. He drew strength from Lisa and felt ashamed at doing so – he should be the one supporting her not the other way around.
"You've always been my damsel in distress, honey," Lisa said teasingly when she noticed the expression on his face, but coming from her – it was as reassuring as amusing.
He chuckled just as Jack spoke again, "Get up here and take a containment box with you. Standard size."
"Is something the matter, sir?" he asked carefully.
"Yeah. Yeah, something happened," Jack admitted. "I'm calling Owen and Tosh in too." There was another pause before Jack continued. "Just get up here, Ianto."
"Right away, sir," his voice was devoid of emotion.
He was somewhat surprised that Jack didn't ask him to bring in any alien tech he might have embezzled. He was the one who had most access to things just lying about the hub. On the other hand – Ianto was practically always in the hub so there probably was little point to him taking things outside. Good thing that it didn't occur to Jack to ask about things he may have brought in.
"Right," Jack said breaking the solemn silence that settled on the group after the glove was placed in the safe and Owen and Toshiko handed in the toys they'd borrowed. "I want you all to take the rest of today off," he said and looked each of his team in the eye.
"Rest. Grieve. Make sure there's no more alien tech lying about your house," he advised looking especially hard at Owen and Toshiko, "Because tomorrow… We have to pack Suzie's apartment."
"I remember," Gwen whispered again.
"Yes," Jack agreed sparing her a glance. "Now – go!" he motioned for them to leave.
Owen and Toshiko didn't waste time getting out. Ianto and Gwen stayed behind. He didn't want to go to the house. It was just a house. He wanted to stay here – he needed to talk to Lisa. Gwen didn't know what to do.
"Ianto – I meant you too," Jack said softly before Ianto could say anything. "You've been here what? Twenty four hours, already? You need to get some rest. Go home."
"The Plass needs to be cleaned up. There must be quite a bit of blood on the pavement," Ianto said quietly but clearly.
"I'll take care of everything," Jack assured him. "You've been here too long," he grimaced as the words passed his lips. "You need to get out – get some rest."
"What about me?" Gwen asked and her tone was borderline hysterical. "I remember everything!"
Ianto clenched his teeth. His friend's blood and brain was splattered on the ground above and Gwen just couldn't shut up for a godforsaken minute. Suzie was dead and Gwen was making this all about her.
"Fine, sir," his patience was worn too thin. "I'll just finish up in the Archives and then I'll leave."
"Ianto!" Jack called out before the other man left. There was something in Ianto's tone – something in between resignation and determination, hurt and anger – Jack wanted to offer comfort even if he didn't know how. He put his hand on Ianto's shoulder and squeezed. "Get some rest, okay?"
Ianto nodded tightly and left.
At first he sat down by her side, but he couldn't sit for long. He stood and started to pace the room quietly.
"I would've thought that Harkness would send you all home," Lisa spoke when she got annoyed with his pacing.
"He did. I said I had to wrap things up in the Archives," he replied in clipped tones.
"And? Don't you?" she asked. "I've been meaning to ask – do you do anything in the actual Archives?"
He stopped and frowned. His thoughts were momentarily side-tracked. "They weren't perfect, but it didn't take me long to catalogue everything so that I could understand it. Now I mainly just dust every once in a while."
Lisa realized that she missed snorting. His answer definitely deserved a snort. She knew that his method of cataloguing – the one he was taught at the Library of Alexandria wasn't what one would call handy or easily manageable.
She didn't put it past Ianto – he might have put everything up by Egyptian letters and not by the thing's purpose, but by its size and date when it was found or something equally doubly confusing. She settled for rolling her eyes.
"So why are you here?"
"I have to…," he started to reply, but stopped. "I don't have anything to do at the house."
"Well – you're just a miserable bastard here as well," she said not bothering to soften it up for him.
He stopped his pacing and looked hard at her. She met his gaze and didn't back down. She could see rage boiling in him and she knew he wanted to say something, but wouldn't until he was properly unhinged. Sometimes she thought that the reason why she hadn't bothered having a child all these years was because Ianto was quite enough for her motherly instincts.
"You know that I'm right. You're angry and when you're angry – you're a bastard. Miserable comes to you naturally," she said it as if it was a matter of fact.
"Of course I'm fucking angry!" he exclaimed. "This isn't how it should've happened! Suzie shouldn't have died! This is so stupid! So goddamn stupid! Stupid Jack. Stupid, stupid Gwen. The woman is a damn constable yet she stood at the side and watched Suzie shoot herself while she could've reached over and knocked the gun out of her hand. Fucking useless!"
"Most people avoid charging on object that could potentially kill them," Lisa remarked.
"I know," he said sinking to the floor.
"You liked her?" she asked and they both knew that she didn't mean Gwen.
"Yeah," he replied quietly.
"Would you tell her about me?"
"No," his voice was quiet, but clear and he didn't hesitate. Lisa's condition was a secret he couldn't afford to entrust to anyone. "She was just… Interesting. And simple at the same time, you know."
Lisa knew. 'Right and not easy' are fancy words, but if you have to live more than few decades – after a time one understands that sometimes 'simple' is good enough as well. "Jack's interesting."
Ianto snorted. "And complicated," he added. "He can't die apparently. At least not from a shot in the head."
"That could be a good thing," she said carefully.
"You've been telling me that for centuries," he said quietly. "Yet now you seem to thing that death is the right way to go."
"While you're alive – living is what you should do," she said strongly.
"Then what the hell all that suicide talk was about?" he asked heatedly getting up from the floor.
"I'm not living!" she screeched at him. "I'm half human and half programme. I'm only half alive."
"We'll change that! I'll fix you!" his voice was full of desperate promises that he hoped he could keep.
She closed her eyes for a moment. There was tightness in her chest that wasn't physical. She wished she could take a deep breath to make it better. "Let's not talk about this now, okay?"
He stared at her for a while before conceding to her wishes. "Right."
"Go home, Ianto," she beseeched him. "Your friend died and before you say anything – whatever Torchwood Three means to you – Suzie was your friend even if you didn't wish it. You're upset and angry – go sleep, go for a run – run as far as you can or go for a swim in the bay – work off the anger, because when you're angry – you make mistakes."
He smiled sadly. It felt nice to be known so well. It felt nice to feel someone care. It was devastating to feel that he might not be able to save Lisa.
The house he'd bought didn't feel like home to him, but on the other hand – it was never meant to be a permanent residence – it lacked comfort and he didn't want to go there, but he nodded his assent, kissed her forehead and left.
"Don't forget to feed the Weevils, sir," he said as he walked past Jack and Gwen towards the tourist office. He'd use that exit so that he wouldn't have to walk past Suzie's brain matter and blood that was probably still splattered on the Plass.
When Ianto got to the house – he got drunk. There was no use for him to have a drink, because alcohol in small amounts was wasted on him – he didn't drink for pleasure and what usually made even the most resilient people feel pleasantly buzzed and detached from the world didn't even make him blink. So he got drunk.
He got over a dozen bottles of whiskey from the kitchen just about emptying the stash he had and sat down on the sofa in the living room. He figured that after first few bottles his throat will be burned raw and he won't feel the horrible taste then. For some while at least – if he drank fast enough.
He drank bottle after bottle so that he could have at least few short hours of sweet oblivion. He drank all morning until midday when he finally felt like he was standing beside the world not in it. The detachment was such a pleasant feeling. It felt so nice not to have to care for a few minutes until he passed out.
As it turned out next morning – it was easier to drink excessive amounts of alcohol than wash the smell off. Ianto had forgotten that. The last time he had gotten drank most of the world still thought that bathing was a sin and in the stink of the whole world the heavy smell of alcohol hanging around him was somewhat overlooked.
He stumbled out of the shower and using the wall for support tried to calm down his own breathing. Yesterday morning getting drunk had sounded like a good idea, but today nightmares and memories plagued him while he was awake and he remembered quite clearly why he had felt the need to get drunk the previous time.
If only he could make the screaming stop.
He had planned to arrive late for once, but he couldn't bear to stay in his house any longer. The walls seemed to be pressing closer and closer and Grainne's dying screams filled his ears. Every thing that was even remotely red stood out to him and it seemed that the pyre was burning just out of the corner of his eye.
He pulled the car to stop just outside Suzie's apartment. It was early morning and he knew that none of the Torchwood Three would be here already, but he didn't mind. He had her key and he wanted a moment alone with her things. Today was about Suzie. Today was about his friend who had died yesterday not his kinswoman who had died nearly two hundred years ago. The only thing that linked the two women was that they both had chosen their deaths.
Suzie had given him her key not because of great friendship – it never had the time to develop – but because Ianto took care of Torchwood Three. She had known that he would always come and help if she couldn't get up in the morning or had forgotten something. To tell the truth, Ianto had the keys to Owen's apartment and Tosh's house too. They seemed to assume that his duties did not end with the hub. Like with most of the thoughtless things they did – Ianto was amused by the reliance. He would've thought that they'd be more paranoid.
He paused in the doorway. He knew that nobody had been here since Suzie had left the apartment to never come back. This was how she had left her things. He was still for a minute, because he thought that somebody should show respect to the fact that this is how it was and never would be again. He tried to think of her, because she deserved nothing less.
The minute passed and he moved further in the apartment. When he packed her things he was careful, because this was all that was left of her – everything that showed who she was and what she liked. Today was about saying goodbye to her, but he wasn't about to object if it helped to banish old ghosts.
It was nearly two hours later when the doors opened again and Jack walked in.
"How long have you been here?"
"Good morning, sir," he answered from the other side of the room.
Jack walked further in the room and frustration was evident on his face. "I meant for everyone to rest before today. I didn't even mention bright and early…," he said exasperated. "Do you want to work yourself to death?"
Ianto blinked. Jack had interesting choice of words. It seemed that the Captain realized what he had said and grimaced.
"I had all yesterday to sleep. I'm fine, sir," he said walking closer and that turned out to be a mistake.
Jack sniffed. His expression turned from sad and guilty and concerned to angry and concerned. "You've been drinking."
Ianto felt affronted. Honestly. While Jack didn't know that the alcohol was long gone from his system and generally just wasted on him – it still didn't give the Captain a right to call him on it. After all, Owen showed up drunk on most Monday mornings – not even mentioning those few times when the medic hadn't even bothered to show up at all.
"I don't believe it's your business to what I do in my free time, sir," he said turning away and packing away a vase.
"I meant you've been drinking a lot," Jack stated angrily. He supposed that to most people it wouldn't seem like Ianto had drank more than a couple of shots, but his heightened 51st century sense of smell told him that his receptionist had consumed significantly more than that.
Ianto glanced at his boss. "I'm fine."
"How much, huh?" Jack asked stepping closer. When the other man didn't answer, Jack grabbed him by his elbow, "How much did you drink?"
Ianto blinked, surprised at the Captain's aggressiveness. He wrenched his elbow free and stepped aside. "A couple."
Concern mixed with anger and Jack didn't feel like being calm and reasonable. He didn't even know what about the whole thing had set him off like that. He couldn't say that Ianto was somehow defiling Suzie's memory here, because the man was nothing if not careful and considerate. Maybe that was what set Jack off like that – it was clear to him that Ianto was drunk yet the man show it. At all.
"A couple of what?" Jack demanded. "Bottles? Cause they sure as hell were not shots."
Ianto decided that it was best not to answer. He wasn't sure what had come over the Captain – maybe it was a side effect to being shot in the head.
Jack cursed and glance out of the window. Something seemed to click in his mind. "Did you drive here?"
Ianto was on his way to the kitchen, but stopped and glanced at the other man incredulously before answering. "Of course."
Jack spluttered. "What were you thinking?"
Ianto thought back to the memories of fire, wood, scorching heat and screams that plagued him ever since he had woken up and swallowed hard. "Nothing in particular, sir."
Jack was about to say something scathing and concise, but then he noticed how pale was his secretary and the light tremble of the man's body and he thought better of it. "Right," he said quietly.
Ianto nodded and disappeared in the kitchen to pack dishes and cutlery.
It was another hour before Tosh showed up. Shortly after her arrived Owen.
The medic stopped short in the living room. "It seems I'm late as usual," his voice was strangely subdued – none of the usual sarcasm or cheer at having less to do.
"I arrived earlier and got started," Ianto said stepping in the room. "I've finished kitchen except the large machinery and Jack has done part of the living room…"
"I'll take the bedroom," Owen cut in, took a few boxes and left.
"I'm not picky," Tosh said lightly looking to brighten up the mood. "I can help Jack," she said speaking to Ianto.
"Sure," Jack said with big smile not waiting for Ianto to reply her. "You get started – I'll take Ianto back to his place and then I'll come back."
Tosh's gaze shifted between Jack and Ianto before settling on Jack. "No problem," she chirped.
Somehow the feeling of last night came back to him. Detachment. They were talking about him while he was standing right next to them. Ianto wondered where the hell the Captain was aiming with this. "I've yet to call the transport company and …"
"I'll call them," Tosh offered interrupting him.
"You've done so much already – you look tired, you should get rest," she said firmly but quietly. "She was our friend too. Let us have some part in this too," she pleaded.
Ianto looked at her hard before nodding his agreement. "Let me know if you need anything, okay?"
He knew they didn't need invitation to burden him with tasks they didn't feel like doing, but at the moment he felt like he had to offer. It seemed that Tosh needed to hear those words as much as he wanted to offer them.
She smiled at him thankfully.
"Why are you doing this?" Ianto asked as he and Jack walked out of the apartment building.
"What do you mean?" Jack replied with a question and pretended to fiddle with his keys to the SUV.
"Driving me home," he said pointedly. "In the SUV. I have a car, you know."
Jack glance over the car's roof to Ianto and his gaze burned with anger for a second. "You're drunk," he stated and unlocked the car.
"I'm fine," Ianto insisted sliding into the passenger seat.
"You smell like a liquor store was dumped over you," Jack remarked. "And I'm not letting a member of my team drive home drunk and end up kissing the pavement and broken glass or a post." He didn't speak out loud what he thought next 'I've lost enough people this week.'
Speaking of smell – Ianto didn't feel the oppressive smell of dried blood in the SUV which meant that it had been cleaned. And not by him – he had completely forgotten about it. He wondered if Jack had had the car cleaned.
"You drive atrociously even when you're sober," Ianto said simply. "I don't see how this is different."
A smile tugged at the corner of Jack's lips, but he didn't take his gaze off the road. "Cheeky."
"Honest, sir," he replied immediately.
Jack killed the engine in front of Ianto's house. "Home, sweet home."
"What about my car?" Ianto asked glancing at the house. He didn't feel like walking in, but it seemed he had little choice.
"Tosh'll help me later," Jack said confidently. He studied the other man silently for a while. "Maybe you'd like to go somewhere else? You have a sister, don't you?"
Ianto looked at his boss. "No, it's alright," it wasn't like he was going to confess to forging his papers and that the woman mentioned in them while real wasn't his sister or related to him in any other way. Her name was just a favor returned.
"If you're sure…"
"Yes," Ianto said strongly. "Like I said – I'm fine."
"You must have one hell of a hangover recipe," Jack remarked with a smile.
"I try my best," he said echoing his earlier words and getting out of the car. "Good day, sir."
"I have no doubt, Ianto Jones," Jack muttered as he watched the other man entering his home. "No doubt at all."
It was Sunday and he really wasn't supposed to go to work today. Not that Torchwood or the Rift had any concept of weekends - it was just that Jack had given them all the last day of the week free, because on Monday they would have a new member of the team.
Personally, Ianto thought that Jack didn't want them around so that he could shamelessly push around the local authorities and get Gwen transferred ASAP. It had been just a few days since Suzie shot herself and they were already having a new colleague next week.
Ianto knew that Torchwood Three had operated with three and four members respectively for quite some time before he joined so he knew that the problem wasn't in understaffing. There really was no reason to rush PC Cooper's transfer – the whole liaison thing was ridiculous too since Torchwood only needed to wave an ID and state their wishes. Maybe Torchwood – maybe they – just moved on fast.
Somehow it made Ianto feel like they were nothing more than cannon fodder in a war with no tangible enemy, but at the same time any guilt he might have had about the indigestion he may cause with his disappearance vanished. He knew he'd be replaced in a blink. Suzie was and she used to be the Captain's second in command.
Sometimes he marveled at how quickly people got over things. Sometimes it hurt knowing that in human's short lived lives – everything died and was forgotten so fast. Sometimes he wondered whether that meant there was no point to anything. At other times – he couldn't bring himself to care.
He decided to enter through the lift – that way he wouldn't activate the blaring alarms that sounded every time someone used the tourist shop entrance. He had little hope that he would be completely unnoticed, but then – stranger things had happened.
When he was half-way down and saw that the main room and Jack's office were empty – he didn't waste time and jumped from the lift landing softly in a crouch on the concrete floor. He fiddled with the system and sent the lift back up.
It took him a couple of minutes to erase the CCTV file and replace it with an old, uneventful footage so that no one would notice the missing files. He was great, but Tosh was brilliant and he was always careful not to leave any trace.
On his way down he suddenly thought of Weevils. Ianto sincerely hoped that Jack had remembered to feed them sometime for the past two days, because Ianto certainly wasn't looking forward to angry and hungry Weevils when he'll finally have to feed them himself. Speaking of which – he regularly forgot to do that - and could speak from personal experience that Janet did not appreciate a meal every two days diet. Even if the Weevils that lived in the sewers got their meals even more rarely.
Unwittingly he shuddered. Regardless of species – all females knew how to hold a grudge.
"You stink," Lisa greeted him with disgust as soon as he set a foot in the room.
He stopped abruptly. "I missed you too," he replied dryly.
She fixed him with a glare. "Oh, I don't doubt that it's been a while, but you're sure underestimating my nose if you think I can't smell liquor and burned synapses. I'm not even going to ask, but I bet it was a lot," she said flatly.
He had nothing to say to that. Their senses were so much more sensitive than that of humans' or rather ordinary humans, but he had already had the drinking talk from Jack. Yes, he knew that she was disappointed in him and angry with him, but she was not his mother and as much as she wanted – she was not by his side. He had grown up a long time ago and if he chose to get stinking drunk then that was his bloody right. Of course he didn't say that out loud to her.
"How much did you get?" she asked and he couldn't figure whether it was disgust or despair in her tone.
"Nine minutes," Ianto replied and took a broom. There were still shattered parts of his previously new laptop lying around on floor. "Nine minutes of detachment and then I passed out and woke up like nothing had happened. Fine and dandy," he said emphasizing his words with large sweeps of the broom.
Lisa watched his every movement. She remembered clearly the last time he had gotten really drunk. She had been so angry she could barely see straight. She had also punched him in the face and called him every name under the sun before collapsing beside him. However now – she just didn't have the strength to move so she just moved straight to the collapsing part. Not to mention that that previous time she had been jealous of him. She had wished that she could down the vile liquors just like he, because the scene of Grainne's death haunted her as much as it did him.
"That was the second one within twenty-four hours," she remarked about the pieces that was once fully functional laptop. "Impressive, even for you."
There was a minute of silence while she waited for him to speak and he couldn't think of anything to say. He didn't feel like cracking a joke. He didn't feel like carrying on with the conversation. He didn't feel like speaking at all.
"If you'd gone for a run or swim like I said – you'd be feeling much better," she said finally sounding superior.
"Damn it, Lisa!" he yelled dropping the broom and walking up to her. "You're so keen on making me feel better, but what about you? You want to die. What the hell?"
She was silent for a while and when she finally spoke her voice was quiet and unsteady. "I wonder if this is how they felt."
"Who?" he asked looking into her eyes. Her gaze was full of doubt, fear and sorrow and he wanted to help even if he wasn't sure what to do. His brave, strong Lisa – he'd do anything for her. She was the sister he'd lost and best friend forever.
"Back home," her voice lowered to a broken whisper. "I wondered if the adjusted felt it coming. If they felt their genes mutating and somewhere on a subconscious level they just knew that in a generation or two or five that… Or maybe they didn't know and just… I wonder if generation five felt like I do now – so little control over my own body or thoughts. So consumed by evil and unnaturalness. So already dead."
"You're not like them and you're not dead," he said resolutely even though his eyes were starting to swarm with tears.
"They were us. They were like me," she said desperately. "And they changed. It had to have been so slow, but it was so fast. So fast we didn't notice. Nobody noticed. It was a fault in a faultless mechanism. It wasn't supposed to happen. It was supposed to be new home. It was our home and it was destroyed from within. So many dead with so few changed. Generation five – just a few of them changed and everything collapsed like a house of cards. The world shattered and everyone died. We couldn't save them – we couldn't change them back," she beseeched looking at him to confirm her words.
He grasped her hand and nodded. Tears were streaming down his cheeks. "No, we couldn't," he affirmed brokenly.
"And I'm changing. There's so little of me left, but I could cause so much damage," she continued her speech in a stronger voice. "This is our home now. Your home. Don't let me destroy it – I can't be saved, I can't be changed back," she pleaded for him to understand.
"I couldn't save them – I can save you," he promised. "I will fix you."
"Don't you understand?" she cried. "Why won't you understand? I don't want to become like them!"
"You won't," he protested. "Just don't give up. Just let me try. It'll be okay. It'll be alright. You'll be fine and we'll leave – we'll go far away and have new lives. This is just a rough patch in a really long time, but we'll get through. I'll get you through. Just let me try. Please, don't give up. Please, don't leave me. There's so much we can do. I'll fix you – I promise. I'll do anything and you just have to hang on. Please, believe in me. Please, don't leave me. Don't leave me alone," words fell from his lips rapidly and pleadingly as he dropped to his knees beside her. He was desperate and he was begging.
She sobbed without tears, because she couldn't cry. She was slowly losing her mind against the programming; she was going to lose long before her body would fail in its metal trappings. Lisa was walking the path that all the survivors of Olduvai seemed to share – madness before death. Never easy and always painful.
She just wanted it all to end before she hurt someone. She knew she was dying inside – the rope she was walking on seemed to be finally ending, but she couldn't refuse him when he begged her. If he asked – she could fly before crashing.
"I'll swear," she said chokingly. "I'll swear that I won't give up until the very last if you'll swear something to me too."
He looked up at her. "What do you need?"
"I want your oath – swear to me that no matter what happens to me that you'll live. You'll go on and if Earth's too small – there are so many stars out there… Don't go back home, but you know the vastness of the universe. You do remember it, don't you?"
"If I promise that…"
"If you swear that," she said interrupting him.
"If I swear – you swear that you'll fight? You'll fight with me and you won't give up?" he was willing to swear practically anything as long as she agreed to hang on to hope.
"Yes," she consented quietly.
"Then," he said choking on a breath. "I swear."
Ever since he had had to go out of the hub to dump the body – he felt restless. He could barely stand to be in the base. Suddenly he felt like doing that run that Lisa had suggested except that he didn't feel like running, but a swim sounded good.
It was early October and he knew that the water would be cold in the bay. At least by ordinary human standards. He tried to stay away from everyone in the hub as much as was possible. He knew that if he asked to be released earlier that that would raise suspicion, because he never asked for anything. So he waited. Thankfully he was known to be distant and was also quite used to waiting.
He wasn't even remotely interested in the case that Torchwood was investigating now. All his thoughts were directed towards the cold blue waters of the bay that would offer him shelter and exercise and most importantly – peace.
Oh, he wasn't planning on drowning. He had sworn. Ianto wanted to walk in the water and swim until he couldn't anymore and then drift back towards the coast. He knew all the places where the currents would offer him a challenge and the beaches where he might wake up the next day. He could hardly wait for the evening.
It was a beautiful night. The skies were clear and there was no wind. The bay was quiet and abandoned. He breathed deeply before stretching his arms in anticipation. He was dressed in a short wetsuit and there was a wild grin on his face. He wasn't going for least resistance and speed tonight. Tonight it was all about feeling alive.
He walked into the water and started to swim forward. He wasn't going parallel to the bay – he was going out in it and then – to the Celtic Sea. He was strong and his body advanced far beyond he measure of humans that lived on earth – it took a lot to exhaust him; he wondered if he could reach the coast of Ireland before collapsing.
He had swum far and long before, but he had never tried to swim over a sea. Lisa usually took him running when he felt like feeling the exhaustion physically not just mentally. He breathed in evenly and breathed out in the water constantly moving, not stopping.
It was quiet and the water in the bay was calm. He felt one with the nature as he moved through the small, soft waves that gently rocked against his sides. The night seemed almost magical and with every stroke of his arms or kick of his legs he felt the hopelessness slowly wash away.
He was so engrossed in himself and the repetitive motions of his body that he did not notice the patrol boat that cruised closer and closer to him. Suddenly a beam of floodlight momentarily blinded him in the middle of inhale and he breathed in water as well as oxygen.
At first he choked and flailed his arms before going under. Somewhere in the corner of his brain registrated cursing and frantic movement on the boat. He kicked with his legs intent on breaking the surface, but somehow the confused movements of his arms brought him deeper under the water. He had overwhelming urge to cough, to get the water out of his lungs, but as soon as his mouth reflexively opened his lungs were flooded with more water. Then his throat closed up. After a short struggle his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he lost consciousness.
When Ianto came to he was lying on his back on the deck of the boat and it was still dark. In fact, no more than few minutes had passed since he passed out. He thought that Lisa was right – the stars were beautiful. Then his body convulsed and he started coughing violently.
"Easy," somebody slipped a blanket around his shoulders and patted his back.
After first few coughs he felt fine, but he pretended he still had some trouble breathing properly for a few minutes. He wasn't cold, but the blanket felt nice against his cold skin. He glanced around and concluded that this was Cardiff Bay patrol boat. He hadn't thought he'd swim into one of those.
"Alright?" a man asked before crouching beside him. "We thought we lost you there for a moment."
"I'm fine," Ianto replied. He thought that the water in his lungs must have evaporated by now, because he felt no tightness in his chest or trouble with breathing.
An expression of doubt passed the man's face and there seemed to be a permanent line of worry in his forehead. "Well, we're taking you to coast. We'll have a medic take a look at you; you may have inhaled some water," he said cautiously.
Ianto refrained from snorting. He reminded himself that for the patrol man this was a suspicious situation and that he didn't need to appear more crazy than absolutely necessary. Ianto had inhaled water alright, but this wasn't the worst that had happened to him by far and his body had already processed the excess liquid. He fixed himself up admirably fast.
"You should call them off and leave me where you found me," Ianto stated an idea already forming in his mind.
The man spluttered, "The hell I will!"
"This is official Torchwood business and you're interfering," Ianto declared and managed to sound indignant while recently almost-drowned and cold as ice.
"You were drowning! We had to help!" the man gestured to his partner at the helm of the boat.
"Like I said – interfering," he calmly retorted.
"You mean to tell me that Torchwood asks its people to drown in the middle of the night in the Cardiff Bay?" the man was clearly suspicious and didn't buy a word Ianto said.
"I wasn't drowning until you interfered. I was investigating…"
"With no boat and no back-up?" the man asked snidely.
"You do know what Torchwood is?" Ianto asked expectantly. The man seemed to think for a moment and Ianto continued just as the other man was about to give his answer. "It is secret," he snarled as if the three little words explained everything.
The man leaned further away from Ianto, but didn't turn his gaze away. "Look. There was no one else and if you're telling the truth maybe you were screwed over and then it's better for you to hitch a ride with us. If you're not…"
"I am," Ianto interrupted.
"If you're not," the man continued ignoring the interruption, "then you better come with us. That is – unless you have an ID?"
"No pockets," Ianto simply replied.
"Well, my name's Christopher Sadler. Just call me Chris."
"Ianto Jones," he replied. He did a quick math in his head and estimated that they had about half-hour before reaching the coast.
"So – you say you're from Torchwood," Chris tried to pick up the conversation again after few minutes of silence. He'd find it easier to believe that the young man sitting in front of him was truly on some kind of secret investigation if he couldn't see the hopelessness at the corners of his eyes or the desperation with which Ianto clung to the blanket. Chris wanted to believe what he was being told, because that would mean, that it wasn't only some freakish piece of luck that had this boy still alive.
But Chris was old enough to know that what he wanted to believe wasn't always the reality. He knew he had just over twenty minutes to talk to the kid, to work with him – to make sure he won't have a body to fish out later in the morning or tomorrow.
Maybe this Ianto Jones wasn't really Chris' business, but he couldn't turn his back on the younger man either. Chris could just report the incident and hand the boy, because sitting under that blanket Ianto really looked that young, over to the medics and therapists, but right now, he felt he had the opportunity to save a life. It was a powerful feeling.
Never mind that Ianto didn't really need saving. At least nothing of the kind Chris could offer. Ianto was much older and his issues ran far deeper than the patrol man could imagine. Not to mention that Ianto hadn't been planning suicide – not tonight.
Somewhat unaware of Chris' decision to save him from himself Ianto replied, "I am from Torchwood. I can give you my boss' contacts. He can verify."
The key to everything is to pretend you're correct even if you're wrong so Ianto talked confidently and smoothly only later comprehending what exactly he had said. Shit. Dragging the Captain into this was like adding oil to the fire. Fuck.
It was late in the night or rather early in the morning. Jack was lounging in his chair behind his desk in his office and watching his silent base at night. Dawn was just a few hours away and he debated whether to open the bottle of scotch that he had bought nearly two months ago.
There was a pile of paperwork waiting to be done, but he didn't feel like doing it. Sleep didn't come easily to him and he didn't feel like tossing and turning in the sheets either.
There was nothing he wanted to do. It was night and most of the city was sleeping. His team was sleeping. Weevils in the lower levels were sleeping. Even his base seemed to be sleeping. Not him though.
Sometimes he hated the purposelessness of the nights. He didn't need to draw strength from the peacefulness of nighttime. He didn't really fancy going out to pubs or parties to be a nameless face in the crowd either. He didn't draw joy from anonymity anymore which is probably why he decided to have 'TORCHWOOD' engraved on his SUV so that those who met them would remember him. His secret organization wasn't so secret and he didn't feel sorry at all. Sometimes he got tired of being the only one who knew and would remember.
Jack sighed. Sometimes the night made him morose. He reached for the bottle of scotch and was just about to pour himself a shot when the phone on his table rang. He paused, recognized the ringtone and poured himself that shot. If it was someone from Cardiff police calling about someone named Owen again; Jack was sure he'd need the drink.
The phone had different ringtone settings so that Jack would know what to expect when he picked up the receiver. There was one for UNIT, one for Downing Street, one for each of his team's personal phones and one for simply 'Torchwood' when his team got in trouble with the locals.
He let the phone ring a couple of times before picking it up and growling in the receiver, "Torchwood."
There was a pause on the other end and Jack smirked. He didn't sleep, but calls in the middle of the night were supposed to be annoying and Jack just wanted to have a bit of fun.
"I'm really sorry for disturbing you so late in the night, Mr…," the caller paused again and Jack heard voices in the background. He thought he picked up Ianto's beautiful Welsh vowels when the caller spoke again, "Captain Harkness, I am…"
"Very sorry, I heard that," Jack interrupted. He was definitely interested now. Bailing out Owen was kind of customary, even if Jack pretended to be annoyed every time, but what kind of trouble could have his quiet receptionist gotten into?
"Yes..," the caller seemed a bit uncertain.
"Who are you?" Jack demanded.
"I am Christopher Sadler from Cardiff Bay patrol," the man seemed to gain confidence saying that. "And we have a Ianto Jones here who claims to be working for Torchwood."
"What does he look like?" Jack asked downing his scotch.
"Excuse me?" the man on the other end spluttered.
"Well – we do have Ianto Jones in Torchwood, but how do I know whether that's the same Ianto Jones you have?" Jack said leaning on the table. He already knew that it was his Ianto with the Bay patrol having heard him over the line, but he was enjoying confusing the man on the other end not to mention he was intrigued – what the hell could have Ianto done to offend the Cardiff Bay patrol?
"Er… He's about 24 and Welsh and…," Chris stammered looking over at the young man.
"Gorgeous," Jack supplied. "Looks good in a suit – is he in a suit? Blue eyes, dark brown hair, light skin, tall…"
"In a wetsuit, yes," Chris hastily interrupted.
"Wetsuit?" Jack could barely keep the surprise from his voice. 'Kinky,' he thought.
"This is Cardiff Bay patrol was he supposed to be in a three piece Armani?" Chris was getting annoyed. And he wasn't sure he liked Ianto's boss, the man sounded harassing. Suddenly it didn't seem such a good idea to push until he could call Ianto on his bluff. It seemed that the young man wasn't bluffing.
"Very well," Jack said abruptly ending that line of conversation. "So – what does Cardiff Bay patrol have to do with my employee?"
"We fished him out from the bay. He claims to have been investigating."
Jack frowned. "And?"
"What do you mean 'and'?" Chris asked confused.
"Torchwood investigation, okay. Completely out of your jurisdiction. And. Where do you come in?"
"Like I said – we pulled him from the water. He almost drowned. I don't know what the hell you're investigating, but leaving a young man in the middle of a bay in the night…,"
Jack didn't hear the rest of what Chris had to say, because blood was pounding in his ears. His fingers felt numb and breath caught in his throat. Words kept repeating in his head 'almost drowned'. Maybe the man was exaggerating, maybe not, but the possibility that he could have lost one more of his team tonight…
"How long until you reach the coast?"
"Ten minutes. Fifteen at most," Chris replied.
"I'll be there to pick him up," Jack said resolutely.
"So he is yours then?" Chris asked for clarification.
"Yeah," Jack replied and ended the call. "Yeah, he's mine."
Less than ten minutes later Jack was where the boat was supposed to dock. He looked calmer than he felt and four minutes later when the boat docked he was by Ianto's side the moment Ianto set foot on the pier.
"Torchwood," Jack said flashing his ID.
"Sir," Ianto began.
"We'll talk later," Jack assured although there was nothing soft in his tone.
"I'm Chris Sadler, we talked on the phone," said a man stepping out on the pier.
Ianto stood wrapped in a blanket and watched the patrol man and his boss stare each other down. The situation was rather uncomfortable and he was unsure how he figured into all of this. He was quite sure that Chris wasn't really buying his investigation story, but unless the Captain had said something incriminating – there was nothing Mr. Sadler could do. Now Harkness on the other hand could prove to be more of a problem. Ianto wasn't sure what had got the Captain so worked up; tension was radiating from the man.
This was exactly why he hadn't taken Lisa's advice before. Today there were too many people around and it wasn't easy to let off some steam without running into some foolishly concerned citizen.
Ianto blinked realizing he had missed some of the conversation between the two men.
"He should be taken to a hospital to be looked over. He could have breathed in some water," Chris said and there was a disgustingly paternal note in his tone.
"I'm fine," Ianto stated at the same time Jack said, "We have our own medic."
There was a pause of uneasy silence. Well, uneasy for Chris, because Jack thought himself far too old to be intimidated by a patrolman while Ianto was simply bored by the exchange.
"We'll go," Jack said turning to leave.
Ianto gave a small nod to Chris. "As unnecessary as this was – thanks anyway," he said. It wouldn't do if people stopped caring just because occasionally they ran across someone who didn't need their care.
"Ianto?" Jack called when he noticed that Ianto wasn't following him.
"If... If you need to talk or anything – you can call me," Chris offered. "It'll get better. Life's worth living," he said quietly, but confidently.
Ianto smiled a sad smile and for the first time this evening spoke honestly, "That's what she keeps on saying." Then he turned and followed Jack to the SUV.
They had been driving for a couple of minutes and Jack had yet to say anything. Ianto had nothing against the silence, but then again he knew that the longer he waited the more time the Captain had to boil.
"You said we'd talk, sir," Ianto said finally.
Jack drove in silence for about a minute more before turning into a quiet alleyway and hitting on the brakes. The tires screeched before the SUV came to a stop.
"Yeah, we'll talk alright. You wanna talk?" Jack asked aggressively turning to Ianto. "What the hell was this, huh? Some sick kind of passive protest?"
Ianto was quiet for a moment, staring at Jack. Protest? It took him a while to understand that Captain was talking about Gwen. When he was about to speak, Jack had picked up the thread of conversation again.
"Yeah, I know Gwen came in fast after Suzie and I know you and Suzie were close, but…"
"But what, sir?" Ianto cut in harshly.
"But we need her," Jack finished with less confidence than he would have wanted.
"We need her. We need her to remind us that there is a world out there. Outside of the hub. And that that world is worth fighting for. We need her to remind us that there's a reason for what we do and that what we do while part of us – it shouldn't define us completely."
"You've thought about this," Ianto said quietly, but at the same time he wondered who needed the remainder more – the team or the Captain himself.
"A lot," Jack admitted. "I… I am so sorry about Suzie. I'm sorry that I didn't notice how obsessed she'd gotten."
Ianto lowered his gaze. He was sorry too. Sorry that his plans backfired and Suzie had to find her own way out. Sorry that he noticed, but was willing to overlook. Sorry that … Sorry that he hadn't cared enough. Ianto had plenty to be sorry for too.
"And I'm sorry that it's been less than a week and I know that Gwen's inexperienced and that it's going to be hard for a while, but… We'll try, won't we?"
Jack was pleading with his eyes and Ianto found that he cared. "Yeah."
Jack was more surprised at himself for pleading than at Ianto for agreeing. He wasn't in the habit of needing something, begging for it (unless it involved sweat and nakedness) so he was stunned by how much he needed Ianto's approval.
He sat back into his seat and gunned the engine. Ianto didn't say anything anymore and Jack felt he'd asked for more than enough already. He sighed quietly and drove backwards out of the alley.
Tonight wasn't a good night for Captain Jack Harkness. Jack felt the night exposing him in ways android cameras on Satellite 5 hadn't managed and he'd been absolutely naked then. He felt far too melancholic and scared, and insecure in his own decisions tonight. He willed his hands to stop shaking and grasped the wheel tighter.
It wasn't far to Ianto's home and they reached the house soon. The Captain stopped the car and made no further move. Ianto studied his boss carefully. He had never seen Harkness so unhinged before; it seemed that the other immortal was barely holding himself together.
Ianto didn't for a moment believe that the Captain was so distressed about his assumed suicide. It was most likely how all the things had played out in the last few months – if anyone, Ianto knew how sometimes everything was just too much. Longevity wasn't all it was cracked up to be – because no matter how hard one might try; they're still a part of society and sooner or later one ends up caring for other people. Other people that die far more easily or in Harkness' case – far more permanently.
Ever since Ianto, though that wasn't his name then, was forced to seek refuge on this planet – he had had people like him. His people. Through the years many chose their own deaths and for them that was never the easy way out. Every single one of them went mad before death finally claimed them. Some disappeared – Ianto and Lisa assumed that they'd left the planet, but never knew for sure. And then there were Ianto and Lisa. They survived. They tried to live. They had a common ancestry, a shared pain and understanding.
He found it hard to imagine how it would be if he had to go through all these millennia alone with nobody truly understanding him. Ianto didn't want to imagine how it would feel like to be the last of his people – the last one to live for as long as he didn't take his own life in madness, because as the universe stood today – there was practically nothing in existence to impair his body's ability to repair itself. Nothing. Though he always allowed a margin for error.
Nothing. Because Lisa was not going to die. He was going to figure out a way to separate her from the cybernetics and then she'd be as good as new in no time at all.
So despite everything Ianto thought of Torchwood Three and its leader – when he looked at Jack Harkness; he felt sympathy. He didn't know how old the Captain was, though Ianto did suspect that the other man was much younger than himself, because if the Captain had been around for half as long as Ianto and Lisa – they would have run into each other sooner. This planet really wasn't all that big.
Age wasn't really important. Ianto knew that Harkness was alone. Lonely. He had sneaked around the hub often enough to know that the Captain barely slept and went out only for business or solitary walks. Loneliness is hard to endure if you have one lifetime – Ianto knew that it had to be torture if you had indefinite amount of lives.
He wasn't really fond of Jack Harkness. Sure, the man was attractive and charming enough to warrant a reason for outlawing flirting; however the man was also clingy. In the evening while trying to remain aloof when all he felt was restlessness; Ianto had made a quick work of Archive files and found a few folders concerning Jack Harkness. It seemed that the man had worked for Torchwood for over a century. A century.
There really was no reason for anyone to stick in one place that long – not to mention that could get suspicious… The Captain seemed to crave for some stability and it seemed he had found it in the Institution. Ianto hadn't refrained from snorting when he'd read it.
It wasn't only the fact that after so many years Torchwood was still so very juvenile; Ianto was amused about how the Captain stuck to the organization. Though now when Harkness was sitting beside him and staring in the distance with a look of a drowning man who didn't want to drown – Ianto didn't find it as funny as before.
Having established it in his mind that he didn't like his boss in many ways for various reasons – Ianto decided that there was no reason not to offer some small measure of comfort. He unbuckled his seatbelt and moved out of the car.
Jack didn't notice the silence stretching between them; he did hear the sound of seatbelt drawing back into the panel and the door opening. He glanced at his Archivist and knew he had to say something.
Harkness was about to say something, but lately whenever he addressed Ianto it was never good news. 'Something happened.' 'Dump the body.' 'We'll talk.' So Ianto decided to beat him to it,
"Maybe you should come in for a coffee, sir? It's early and you look like you're about to keel over."
Jack blinked unsure how to respond. He was pretty certain that the invitation wasn't a double entendre. Though – pretty certain didn't mean completely certain. He didn't feel up to anything coffees in 21st century usually led to despite the impression one may get from him usually. At least not tonight. "Sure."
Besides even though Ianto occasionally flirted back lightly – Jack still often got the impression that the man was going to clock him one in some dark corner of the hub. It was interesting; because Jack was fairly certain that no one else from his team had picked up those feelings from Ianto, though to be fair – Jack was from 51st century when psychic powers were pretty common.
Still – Ianto had offered and Jack was not about to turn down one of Ianto's coffees.
Ianto unlocked the door and threw the keys on a nearby table. He threw the blanket he'd been given by the patrol man on a hanger and went straight for the kitchen. His wetsuit was already dry and it didn't occur to him to change his clothes.
Jack followed Ianto quietly. The Captain rarely got to see the lives his staff lived outside of Torchwood so he greedily observed every detail. Jack knew Ianto as cool and collected at work so he was surprised when the other man carelessly threw around his keys and the blanket, especially, when the blanket slipped off the hanger and dropped on the floor.
Jack closed the doors behind himself and moved further into the house. He didn't head straight for the kitchen; he took time surveying the hall before stepping in the living room. There was a large archway to the kitchen from the sitting room and Jack could see everything Ianto was doing.
The items in the room were top quality, but the room still seemed bare. There were little to no personal affects and to tell the truth – the whole area seemed rather uninhabited if a little bit messy to Jack. One thing he wasn't surprised about was the coffee machine in the kitchen.
"You live here?"
Ianto looked up from the coffee machine to Jack. He frowned lightly at the incredulous tone in Captain's voice. "Yes," he replied shortly.
"Really?" Jack asked gesturing around wildly.
Ianto watched Harkness flail around his living room and started regretting his previous urge to babysit. "I don't get to spend much time here," he said shortly.
"Don't," Ianto said strongly. "I knew Torchwood doesn't do nine-to-five when I signed up and I'm okay with it. Besides most of my things are still in boxes. From London. I can't unpack them. Not yet."
He put emphasis on London to dissuade Jack from asking other questions. The truth was that Ianto hadn't made this place home, because to him it wasn't. He wasn't planning on staying long. He just needed to fix Lisa and then they'd be on their merry way – change names, places and trinkets. Those few things that were truly precious to them were in a safe place until they decided on a new home. Cardiff was just a pit-stop. Torchwood Three was just a pit-stop. Ianto Jones should have died at the Canary Wharf, but since Lisa Hallet hadn't – neither had he.
Ianto was glad that none of the survivors except him had decided to come back to Torchwood, because the persona he put on now and the man he had been at Torchwood One… Torchwood Three just wasn't worth any emotional investment. Even though he had liked Suzie.
He shook his head a little. His thoughts had run away with him and he had missed Jack's reply. Deciding that noncommittal shrug was the best way to go – Ianto shrugged and poured steaming hot coffee into two mugs.
"I thought so," Jack said placing his hand on Ianto's shoulder.
Ianto almost jumped a foot in the air. He hadn't noticed that the Captain had moved so close to him. Three thousand years spent on Earth – pushing four thousand altogether and Ianto still hated sudden surprises.
"Maybe Owen should have a look at you. Mr. Sadler seemed pretty convinced that you breathed in some water and even though…," Jack stopped before he said too much. Ianto didn't have to know that Jack could smell the salt water on him not in him.
"I'm alright," Ianto assured handing a mug to the Captain, but not moving away. Somehow Harkness' closeness didn't seem oppressive. "I promise I'm not planning on dying tonight."
That proved to be the wrong thing to say, because Jack's expression became cold and harsh as soon as the words were past Ianto's lips.
"Then what were you doing out there?"
"Little, personal project," Ianto replied not missing a beat.
"Swear it," Jack demanded. The cup of coffee was in his hands, but he yet had to make a move to drink it.
"I swear," Ianto said a few moments later. He sipped his coffee slowly and speculated whether he'd have to make up some kind of project or maybe the Captain wouldn't ask anything more. He knew for a fact that 'venting some steam' was not going to fly with Harkness.
"What is it with you people and oaths," Ianto muttered absent-mindedly in his coffee.
Jack caught the remark and frowned before deciding to let the comment slide and relaxing in the warm, alive, close presence of his receptionist and the delicious smell of coffee.
The sun slowly climbed the sky marking already the second day of the week. Both men slowly drank their coffee while leaning against the counter – both having reached some semblance of peace tonight – both not knowing that in a fortnight everything they had will be torn to pieces.
It was with great and vindictive pleasure that he threw the piece of clothing in the hub's incinerator. Honestly. Who the hell did she think she was? He may have pretended to be a tailor's son, not that she knew that tidbit of fake information, and he may have offered to be the Captain's butler – that did not mean he was Gwen Cooper's 'Free Help For Restoring Clothing Torn While Chasing Weevils'.
Ianto didn't really understand what had made the woman imagine that he was there to literally do anything she herself was too lazy to. He already had a list of duties a mile long, because Torchwood Three were dumb and lazy, but up until now the most personal help he had had to render was when Owen was too hangover to remember where he was in the morning.
He wasn't sure it would be worth the breath it would take to put the woman in her place even if it would be satisfying. Still – there was little chance of that happening, because Ianto Jones was no one of importance and he clung to shadows. He didn't need people to notice him. He wanted to be unnoticed. Even Harkness had forgotten about him in a matter of days when Ianto had presented his 'little bay project' hastily cooked up in one night.
It had been two weeks since the bay 'accident' and Dr. Tanizaki was due tomorrow. Ianto's nightmare was close to an end. The cybernetics expert would be competent enough to assist him and Ianto would finally fix Lisa. Then he'd fake his death and blow up the Archives – he had contemplated leaving them intact, but it was highly improbable that Torchwood Three would grasp his Ancient Egyptian or the method of cataloguing and the whole thing could make them suspicious so… Leveling the Archives seemed like the best course of action.
It was a shame – there were a lot of interesting and culturally valuable things in those Archives.
He breathed in the last tendril of smoke that used to be Gwen's jacket and grinned wolfishly. Cooper had gone on and on how this jacket had sentimental value since she'd worn it to her late aunt's Wake and wouldn't Ianto be as kind as to fix it – he had magic hands, didn't he? Ianto had solemnly agreed to fix it.
He had never had the intention of repairing that jacket. Firstly – he knew she was lying. The jacket probably had more to do with sex and ex-boyfriend than a funeral and she was just too coy to admit it. Secondly – if that jacket was that important, she shouldn't have gone to work in it. She knew what Torchwood is. Thirdly – Ianto just didn't care. He bought a new one that looked exactly like the old one and gladly burned the torn one.
He did not do laundry. He could pick up some clothes from the dry-cleaning shop; he could even buy something new in an emergency, but he did not do laundry for Torchwood Three – not literally. Of course subtle differences like that were often lost on Gwen as Ianto had noticed.
He closed the doors to incinerator and composed his expression before picking up a package from the floor and heading up to the main floor.
"Gwen?" he called distracting the woman from eyefucking their resident medic.
"Ianto!" she dropped the files she was holding on her desk and bounced over to him.
He smiled indulgently and handed her the package. "I did the best I could," he said modestly.
She ripped the package open and Ianto made a mental note to never pack anything for her ever again. She looked over the piece of clothing and squealed with joy. "It's better than new!"
He resisted the urge to smirk. "I'm glad you like it," he said although to tell truth – he couldn't care less.
She pulled the jacket on and hugged him impulsively. "Thanks!"
He returned the hug with one arm and forced his lips into a smile. "You're welcome."
Gwen tossed the remains of the package in a nearby bin and went to find a large mirror so she could properly admire her repaired jacket. Ianto shook his head lightly; his first assessment of Gwen had proven to be correct. She was easy. He checked that everyone else were busy with their work before heading down to the lower levels. To Lisa.
When he entered the room he found her asleep, but that didn't deter him. He could sit quietly by her 'bedside' for hours just so she wouldn't have to wake up alone. For a man who had dozens of little tasks to attend to, he had a lot of free time. It helped that he really needed to sleep only once every ten days or so.
With every week it became harder for her to be in this small, dank, dark room. She was used to open if not large spaces. She was used to have the world at her feet. Small world. Primitive world. But still a world.
But despite all that – it wasn't the concrete walls that were crowding her. It was her memories. With little conscious control over her own body – she was a prisoner in her mind. She had no way of entertaining herself and even though Ianto was by her side for hours – he wasn't by her side always.
Most of her life she'd spent going forward, living in the now and pushing the past as far away from conscious thought as possible. She had done that as much for herself as for Ianto. He was the one who often pondered what if. Improbable options are dangerous for people who can actually see them through.
She hadn't been sleeping for a while, but only now she opened her eyes. "Do you hate me?"
He squeezed her hand; he had been sitting by her side for hours. "No!" he answered incredulously. "Why would you think that?"
"Because I let your sister die," she whispered.
Ianto took a shallow breath. "No …"
"I did. I didn't let you save her. I pulled you away – I watched our home be overtaken by monsters and didn't do anything to fight for it," her voice was quiet and anguished, but resolved as if this was a confession she had been waiting a long time to tell.
"You saved my life," Ianto interjected softly.
"Did I? I think I never really did. I destroyed the Ark – the only way back to Olduvai and your chance at rebuilding it, saving it. I pulled you away, because I am selfish and I was afraid. I didn't want to be the last one so I forced you to live – while everyone else perished or left, I did everything I could so that you wouldn't die. Even when you wanted to. Even when you begged me to let you die – I didn't let you."
"That's not selfishness – its common sense," he said calmly.
"I think you hate me. You should hate me," she insisted.
"I don't hate you," Ianto promised caressing her cheek. Even if she couldn't feel his touch; she could appreciate the gesture.
"Why?" she asked desperately. "I always knew what I was doing. I don't have the luxury of saying 'it's not really my fault – I didn't know'. I knew that there was a chance you'd save her, but I stopped you and I let her die. I knew you would want to go back when I destroyed the Ark. I knew you'd rather die than live here yet I denied you rest again and again and again," she laid bare all the doubts and secrets she had carried in her soul for three thousand years.
His eyes were full of unshed tears. "It was a long time ago, Lisa," he said begging her to let the matter rest.
"Not for us. Never for us," she wheezed. Her emotional turmoil was interfering with her cyber programming.
"I did hate you," he admitted finally after a few minutes of silence. "For a few years after we were stranded here – I did hate you, but I could never hold on to that hate. I loved you and I love you now. I will always forgive you," he said truthfully. "For better or for worse, remember?"
Lisa sniffed. "For better or for worse."
He smiled softly at her. They'd been married many times over the years. They hadn't been in love since before seeking refuge on Earth. They cared for each other, though. Lisa loved him wholly and selfishly – she would do anything to keep him safe, alive and happy. He loved her completely and unconditionally – he would forgive her anything. The first time they 'married' was when Lisa claimed her possession of him to keep him safe from the savage women tribe they'd ran across. Then they'd married for convenience – to live together and not have to explain it to anybody. He'd owned her to keep her safe. They'd married for fun as well. Ianto loved weddings.
There was no destiny or fate tying them together. They weren't meant for each other and they didn't share a soul-deep connection. Not that they really believed myths like that, but they'd been around for long enough to know that sometimes there was more to life. They were just together. They were everything else to each other.
"My sister," he said softly tasting the words in his mouth. "Maybe I would have been quicker than that monster, maybe she'd already have activated the 'Stasis' process and we'd both be stuck. Maybe I wouldn't have been fast enough and we'd still die. The possibilities are infinite. I loved her – still do. She is my sister, dead or alive. But I forgive you for saving my life at the expense of hers," he said kissing Lisa's forehead.
"If you hadn't destroyed the Ark – Earth could have been invaded. Maybe we'd manage to stop them. Maybe I'd find a way to reverse the process. Even though we both know – it was a genetic anomaly. The ultimate unpredictable variable. Maybe we'd manage to put them down. All of them. Maybe we'd rebuild Olduvai… Maybe. So many 'may be'. Sweetheart, I blamed you for a long time and maybe I still don't understand your full motivations, but I don't need to understand to forgive. You wronged all of us who survived by cutting off a way home, but I forgive you," he pressed a kiss to her right cheek.
"I did want to die. Sometimes consciously – sometimes not. I wanted home; I wanted back all that we'd lost. I wanted back the life I had before and I thought that if I'd die… But death isn't natural for us. You knew that. I of all people know, but had forgotten it then. Flavius struggled for years. Grainne… She burned for days and didn't die, didn't lose consciousness – I can still hear her screaming every time I see an open fire. Maria…," he brushed the tears from his face and swallowed the lump in his throat.
"You kept me alive and that is something I don't need to forgive," he said kissing her left cheek.
"It is something I have to thank you for," he said softly and sincerely before pressing a chaste kiss to her lips.
He hadn't slept for two days and hadn't fed the weevils either. The poor aliens didn't deserve the treatment they got from him. He could only hope that whoever was tasked with care of them in the future would be more attentive to their needs.
He took a couple of deep breaths and straightened his tie before stepping out of the lift. The weevils wouldn't have to suffer, because of him for long. Today was his last day of work in Torchwood.
Doctor Tanizaki had arrived in Cardiff yesterday and Ianto had settled him in an expensive hotel suite in one of Cardiff's best hotels. The money didn't matter and Ianto wanted the cybernetics expert to be comfortable considering what Ianto had in mind for the man.
He needed Tanizaki to disconnect Lisa from the programming. Ianto was smart enough to tweak a conversion unit into life support, but he didn't trust himself when it came to dealing with a live consciousness. He had never been overly interested in technology – back at Olduvai everything was so sophisticated that it responded to his mental commands and rarely failed while the primitive technology he encountered on earth was just plain sad to look at.
Ianto had learned that when dealing with Earth technology there were nine chances everything was going to go wrong and only once chance of success. Even though he hated attracting outside help – he'd rather have a world renowned expert taking a chance than himself. He wasn't going to gamble with Lisa's life.
Tanizaki had his part to play and after that – Ianto planned on slipping him retcon. There were things he planned on saying and showing the doctor so that when the man will wake up in his hotel suite in the evening of the next day he would remember exactly what Ianto wanted him to remember.
If everything went according to plan then tomorrow by this time Ianto and Lisa will be sitting on a large, plush couch on the other side of the world sipping exotic drinks and Tanizaki will be flying back home to Japan angered at his secretary for messing up his schedule.
Ianto watched the team going out for drinks and for a moment he thought that maybe he could be fond of them if he didn't try so hard to dislike them. The lift closed; he dropped the ball and sprang into action.
He went down to visit Lisa only to find her asleep. She had been sleeping for the last few days. Ianto hoped that the sleep was her own rather than a short circuit; she would need her strength. He pressed a gentle, chaste kiss to her forehead before leaving – he had to finally feed the weevils.
Tanizaki arrived earlier than Ianto had planned, but it was all for the better – the earlier they began the sooner this was going to be over. Ianto led the man down to Lisa and for the first time since he'd found the expert; Ianto told the truth – he really had done everything he could.
Ianto watched as Tanizaki caressed Lisa's skin in fascination and couldn't help but feel slightly disgusted with the expression on Tanizaki's face. He watched Lisa wondering if she'd wake up and lied effortlessly to the doctor.
The cybernetics expert questioned Lisa – he asked her about irrelevant things and she lied without a second thought. Names, dates, ages were important to people who lived to make history – they marked their time so that those that would come after would remember. Ianto and Lisa didn't make history, they lived it.
The names they had been given upon birth were half-forgotten and unimportant. Their ages would never be believed and dates… A date was just a temporary marking – everything changed with time. The name of the day, month or year even the length of a month or a year – everything changed and things that were important just stood out in the memory without the markings; Ianto and Lisa didn't need a calendar to remember.
Ianto met Lisa's gaze and for the first time in a month he saw hope there. His own heart constricted with joy. He knew that she had held on so long just because he had asked her. He knew that she hadn't really believed that she could fight long enough, but she had fought anyway just because he asked her. He was overjoyed to have shown her that there was an end to this nightmare, that hope wasn't just a word of empty consolation on his lips.
He got Lisa to the autopsy and he had harder time pretending that it was hard to get her there than actually carrying her there. He set up his new laptop (this one had already made through two weeks) to monitor the external CCTV while Tanizaki unpacked his equipment.
Ianto stood barely a step from Lisa as Tanizaki examined her again and made modifications in his data. Judging from the looks he got from the doctor – Ianto was sure that Tanizaki would prefer if he was further away, but, frankly, Ianto didn't care.
He was worried. Ianto was terrified that he had made a mistake – that he should have been better, that he should have known more and helped Lisa himself. He was scared that this cybernetics expert will fail which will essentially mean that Ianto failed.
When Lisa drew her first breath in six months Ianto felt that he could defy gravity and fly. Her strangled breath seemed as the most beautiful sound he had heard in his long life. He kissed her gently; his whole attention fixed on her. He didn't hear what Tanizaki said; he didn't care. All he cared about was that this was happening.
The alarm beeped loudly and echoed in the autopsy room and Ianto was forcefully dragged back from his joyful fixation on his so alive Lisa. He offered to carry her, but she denied. He wasn't sure whether that was, because it would seem weird if he just carried her off or if she wanted to walk, to move on her own for the first time in half a year.
When she looked at him wide-eyed and stated that she was alive, he wanted to cry and he wanted to laugh. That one moment was the fulfilment of months of desperate hope and it washed away every single fear and hurt. There had been times when deep in their hearts neither had believed that this was possible and now… Now triumph tasted sweeter than ambrosia.
He helped them till the stairs before hurrying back to the arriving team. He stopped for a moment before entering the main area of the hub and smiled a huge grin. On days like this he believed all the good things. He believed that there was more to life than it seemed. He believed that people are unique and brilliant and worth every pain they bought. On days like this he believed in love and beauty and freedom. On days like this he was truly happy.
They were already on the lowest level when Lisa felt it. Something was wrong. She tried to open her mouth, but her lips didn't move. She tried to squeeze the doctor's shoulder to alert him, but her fingers didn't comply. Her body moved on its own accord.
Since she woke up in the autopsy bay and until walked down here – for these few minutes she had been in complete control of herself. She had felt only herself and not a spark of foreign software moulding her to its own purpose. She had been free and full of hope and now she felt like a stranger in her own body.
She felt her awareness slip in a dark she had never known before accompanied by a soft, mechanic hiss. Somehow she knew that she would never wake up from that again. The way she perceived the world changed in her eyes and her last thought was an apology.
'I'm so sorry, Ianto.'
The moment the lights started to flicker he knew that something was wrong. He hoped and he prayed to whoever was listening to his screaming mind, but at the same time he knew. The moment when the world was generous to him was over.
He spoke hasty lies through the haze of fear that seemed to engulf him and not-surprisingly he was believed. He moved fast, but he began to run once he was out of the line of sight of others.
He arrived too late though it probably already had been too late by the time the lights had started to blink. He kneeled by the broken body of the cybernetics specialist and held back a sob. This was not how it was supposed to happen.
He asked her to explain; he asked her to justify herself. She wasn't even there to reply him. The mechanical voice with a vaguely familiar tilt was not the sound he wanted to hear so he made broken excuses for her.
Ianto was far too old to believe a word he was saying, but he had to. He had nothing else to hold on to. He tried not to think too much into it, because 'some kind of side effect' sounded so much better than 'I think you're gone, sweetheart'. He couldn't bear to lose her. He wouldn't.
He pushed at her and he pleaded with her. For a moment he though she understood. He thought that he saw a spark of recognition in her brown eyes and he refused to accept that that had been just a reflected light from the conversion unit.
He had killed people. He had killed people with and without reason – in self defence and in plain attack. He had seen murders, accidental homicides, slaughters and wars. He had participated. He had no innocence and he didn't expect it in others. He could accept a murdered scientist. He could forgive Lisa anything.
He pulled the broken body of Tanizaki down the hall. He didn't lift the man up, because he didn't want to get blood on his suit – the team might notice. Jack might notice and he would ask questions. His suit still mattered. Lisa mattered. They still had a chance – this was a minor setback. Ianto was not put off by one dead man.
Jack's voice sounded over his comm and Ianto felt himself break down. He could accept, he wasn't put off, he didn't care, but Lisa would. The Lisa Ianto knew would care about a pointless death. She would never kill an innocent man. She never killed without provocation. She saw something in humanity; she saw purpose and meaning in the short lives of humans and she would never kill one of them by an accident.
The Lisa Ianto knew could talk for hours defending simple, short-lived humans. She loved this planet and she loved everything in it. She made her home here and put it under her protection. He never could.
That was the whole point – while he could overlook, she never would. That meant that the woman back in the basement wasn't Lisa anymore – just a cyberwoman.
He wiped his eyes on the sleeves of his jacket after covering doctor Tanizaki's body. He was not giving up on her. It was still Lisa's body – she had to be in there somewhere. He heard Torchwood team chatter on the comm and straightened his jacket. The world could go to hell. Torchwood could go to hell; he wasn't done in this fight yet.
His body was perfect. The only human weakness lingering in him was that of his mind. She would help him. She would make him better.
She watched as the doors swung shut behind him before turning the power back on. 'Rest,' he had said. She didn't need rest. She had work to do. The failed experiment on the cybernetics doctor proved that the unit was not working correctly – she needed it to be at its best before she endeavoured to make him better.
The moment he walked in she understood the echo of feelings that remained with her from her host. He was beautiful although flawed. His mind was so very human and the pain she saw in him marred his beauty – he needed to be upgraded.
She was going to do it. She would upgrade him and then he would be better. Then he would feel no pain and then he would understand. Then they would be together forever. Just like her host always wanted. Just like he promised.
The moment dragged on and there was no answer from Ianto. Jack crossed his arms and thought frantically. Something was happening. It could be nothing at all and it could be something unthinkably dangerous. In Torchwood there really was only one possibility so he ordered everyone to assume battle protocols.
Owen offered to go before Jack could ask. He didn't know much – anything, really, about Ianto, but at that moment that didn't matter to the medic. He was a doctor and his teammate was quite possibly in mortal danger and if pressed hard enough, Owen could admit that he did love the coffee. His mouth was pressed into a hard line as he checked his gun. He hated incursions. Home was supposed to be safe.
Gwen offered to head down with him and Owen looked at the Captain for guidance. Jack had taken it upon himself to train Gwen whatever the hell that meant for Harkness so he'd have to know if the woman was ready or not. Owen did not want a liability with him. Liabilities got people killed and Owen had already lost one colleague due to PC Cooper.
Jack nodded his agreement and Owen gripped his gun tighter. He found the woman attractive enough to forgive her for her annoying qualities every once in a while, but she was not someone he wanted by his side in a battle situation. But since the boss said…
Jack stood by Tosh and followed Owen's and Gwen's progress through comms. He had given up on calling Ianto. He tried to sense the other man with his weak 51st century psychic ability, but Ianto was so far all Jack really got was that the other man was alive. It was some comfort at least.
Jack hated it when things like this happened in the base. A bad feeling hung over the place for years after. He knew – he lived here. After the Millennia Massacre the place felt badly aired for three years to him.
Not to mention that Ianto was a receptionist. He was not supposed to face monsters that lurked in the deep of the hub – unless it was to feed them. Jack was angry. Someone had broke into his house. Someone had messed with his stuff. And as of now it was quite obvious that someone was messing with his Archivist.
Then Tosh showed him the CCTV feed and all of Jack's slowly building rage abated and turned into confusion.
She heard the communication signals and blocked them before she listened in and heard the voices. There were two humans heading in her direction. She didn't power down the station, but she did hide in the shadows of the room. These were his colleagues; she wanted to see them.
A man and a woman. She hesitated trying to scrap together the imprints of information left in the body by host. It was easier to identify the man than the woman.
His smell was that of an ordinary human and that meant he could only be the medic. She knew that the other man – the leader seemed peculiar to him, because he always felt unwittingly flustered by the man. Finally she concluded that the woman must be new. Girl was asking too many questions and facing the wrong direction.
He had told her not to go near them, but he was still faulty. Later he would understand. She was doing this for him as much as for her race.
She stepped forward and hit the medic lightly over the head. He was human and full of weaknesses that had to be removed, but his knowledge could only be an asset to the cyber-race. Not to mention that he was going to need friends worthy of him. The medic fell to the ground unconscious – he couldn't be used to test whether the unit needed more repairs.
She turned to the woman. There seemed to be no importance about the girl so she grabbed her by her throat and pushed her in the conversion unit.
"You will be like me," she whispered to her test subject.
He heard screaming long before he saw the sparks going off the repaired conversion unit as it prepared to do its work on Gwen. The next thing he saw was Jack pointing his gun at Lisa and he really didn't think – he crashed his body into Jack's to at least impair the Captain's aim.
Ianto didn't know whether Lisa would heal or not and it didn't matter – she didn't have to take a bullet just because the Captain saw her as an alien threat. His lies were falling apart around him, but he still thought that he could see a way out. He and Lisa – they needed to leave. Nothing else mattered – only Lisa.
He cried apologies to Jack so he was surprised when the Captain pushed him off and against the opposite doorframe. Sure, Ianto hadn't exercised all of the force he was capable of, but still Harkness brushed him off too easily. Momentarily Ianto wondered whether that had anything to do with the Captain's inability to stay dead.
Ianto couldn't read what the intensity in Harkness' gaze meant, but he did understand one thing – the Captain knew something. He stared back and didn't lower his gaze – he was not apologizing and he was not showing remorse. If the Captain was searching for conflicting emotions and guilt, he was not going to find that in Ianto. His loyalty was to Lisa; he could be sorry and angry later when she was safe.
Gwen's terrified screams shattered the tense silence between them and they moved to help her. It took only one glance for Ianto to tell that Lisa had rerouted nearly all the circuits and that there was no chance he could wire everything correctly before Gwen literally lost her head. He proposed that all power should be shut down.
Jack relayed the order. The Captain trusted him on his word even though Ianto could be meaning to trap them all together. Because of that – in the dark and silence of a lockdown; Ianto apologized.
The click of safety being turned off of Jack's gun was a shocking sound in the silence even if the action itself was not a surprise. Ianto knew that the Captain knew something. Apparently Harkness knew just enough to want to shoot him.
He stood still even though he wasn't frightened by the weapon. His lack of fear didn't even come from high emotions and concern for Lisa; it came from certainty that even if the Captain's finger did slip and the gun did fire – Ianto wouldn't die.
Sure – the gun was pressed to his head; the bullet was definitely going to shatter a part of his skull. However death is not simultaneous – it may take seconds or even minutes (could be days) for every part of the body to shut down and die and every single cell in Ianto's body was resistant to age and damage and possessed magnificent ability to repair itself and the part next to it. To put it simply – he couldn't die.
Ianto was what back at Olduvai had been called naturals. It meant that he came from one of the ancient families and everyone in his bloodline was naturally genetically advanced to this point of humanoid evolution. He was practically indestructible and could recover from basically everything.
Still – there was always something bigger, stronger and meaner – otherwise his whole race couldn't have been destroyed.
Lisa was from Generation IV. Ianto's people developed a drug that when administered to humanoid life forms possessing 23 pairs of chromosomes would add another one – the 24th pair of chromosomes. It would make those people stronger, faster, smarter and long living. It would make normal human-type life forms like them; Ianto supposed that at that moment it had to have seemed as the perfect way to renew the population that was nearly annihilated by interstellar war.
Besides it wasn't like anybody had complained. Who didn't want to be young and smart for forever? Whole families chose to be inoculated. Lisa was a 4th generation offspring of an inoculated family. Her blood was slightly mixed, because one of her grandmothers was a natural.
It showed slowly and with time that the drug wasn't perfect. Those that were inoculated while underwent fantastic changes to their genetic make-up weren't quite up to par with those that were born that way. Nobody had been really bothered by that – it seemed logical, not to mention that it was obvious that with every generation the difference became less noticeable.
Then Generation V happened. It had happened so fast and yet the process was so slow they should have noticed it. He should have noticed it.
Ianto shuddered while drawing a breath – he should have noticed. He confidently led Jack back to the main part of the hub as requested, but his mind was on another matter entirely.
At first it had seemed that there was an outbreak of epidemic. Nearly all of Generation V collapsed and then two weeks later overnight they turned into monsters.
Ianto remembered staying up all the week those last seven days looking for a reason why every sick person's brain was slowly shutting down. He remembered the horror when he saw the bodies rapidly mutate and every shred of humanity or personality disappear behind deep red eyes and be replaced by animalistic lust for fresh meat and blood.
They'd been living on Mars for just over a thousand years. They had been slowly rebuilding their civilization up to the point where they considered reaching out to other stars to make settlements there and everything was wiped out in less than three days.
They had tried to fight back, but the mutated breathed out gas that was poisonous to them – people collapsed left and right before they were picked up and ripped to shreds. Generation V feasted on Olduvai's citizens and all they could do was run. The facility had a superb defence system against outside attacks but inside they were defenceless.
Ianto was a geneticist and he had spent his last night on Olduvai trying to figure out what had happened. He discovered that there was a slowly evolving unstable element in the original drug that under certain circumstances could result in Generation V effect, but that had been of no help whatsoever. He had the answer – why. But that didn't tell him how to stop it.
Nobody on Olduvai was a warrior. There were those that trained in fighting, because they enjoyed the activity, but there were no soldiers. They hadn't been prepared and whatever it was that Generation V exhaled – it made people drop like flies. All attempts at resistance failed and a day after the first person mutated – nobody really though about reclaiming the facility anymore. They just ran. And only few escaped.
Lisa had saved him. She had pulled him from his lab and search for answers and hauled him to one of the lower levels were the tech labs were located. There was an experimental transport device everyone had cheekily agreed to call'The Ark'. It connected to the closest planet with an atmosphere and semi-intelligent life forms. He was one of the last she pushed through and then she destroyed the gateway. That had been the morning of the third day since the first of Generation V mutated and Olduvai was overtaken. There was only a handful of survivors – all stranded on Earth.
Jack pushed him to his knees and Ianto finally stopped seeing double – the corridors of Torchwood's hub were no longer mixing with the hallways of Olduvai. He focused his gaze on Jack and let his breathing calm down.
It wasn't hard to see the Captain's anger. His rage. But it wasn't the gun pressed to his forehead that made Ianto want to talk; he was pissed off by Harkness' expression. The Captain looked betrayed – like he hadn't deserved what was happening and had never seen it coming. So Ianto talked. He told them half truths and half lies and he made it his point to make them see that he wasn't the only one in the wrong here. He wanted to show them where their short-sightedness had led them, because he was sick and tired of mistakes made because of selective blindness.
Jack was so angry he could barely see straight. He though he knew Ianto. He thought that two weeks ago they had had a moment. He felt as used as he hadn't felt in a long time and he had killed for less, but at the same time the anger and pain that seemed to be rolling off his receptionist in waves continuously stopped him from pulling the trigger. When Ianto admitted that he loved the girl Jack lowered his gun resignedly. He was angry and betrayed and used and, gods, he even felt jealous, but Jack couldn't shoot him. Not when he felt all that emotion from Ianto. Not when he realized he wanted to be the object of that affection.
Ianto kept his eyes wide and focused on his Captain even when he wanted to smash the man's jaw to stop the drivel coming out of his mouth. Ianto knew how a mass slaughter looked like. He had seen it over and over again and had learned how it happens in his own home – watched it happen in his own backyard and they were never small decisions. Harkness wanted him to give up on Lisa, but the man didn't even realize what he was asking.
Half of his arguments died on his lips, because it was far too easy to slip in the role of Ianto Jones to protect himself and Lisa, however that didn't stop him from making a protest.
"You're not listening to me!"
Jack watched the pale, pleading, tear-stained face of his receptionist and sighed. It felt like they were talking in two different languages about entirely different things. Superficially this was the ages old scenario where Ianto was the guilty party and Jack was the victim, but even though the Captain had forced the Welshman on his knees earlier he sincerely doubted that Ianto was going to ask for forgiveness.
They were standing so close and Ianto was projecting his feelings so hard that Jack knew that there wasn't a shred of remorse in Ianto. It was obvious that when push came to shove that Ianto's loyalty and all that entailed belonged to that shell of a human. Jack took a moment to feel what Ianto felt and the intense desperation tinged with hope along with the overwhelming fear for her made Jack withdrew his prying mind from Ianto's and take a step back.
Jack drew a deep breath and his tone turned pleading when he spoke to Ianto again. He entreated the other man to understand that that cyberwoman wasn't Lisa anymore. He wanted Ianto to understand that she had to die and that it had nothing to do with Jack's own feelings of inadequacy or jealousy.
Heavy steps, the sound of metal against metal as Lisa stepped on the grating interrupted the renewed argument between Jack and Ianto.
Ianto didn't hesitate – he ran towards her and stopped only few short steps away. He spoke to her and with every uttered word the hope in his chest slowly died. With every mechanic hiss of her voice he felt as if he was being slowly torn down just like an old building - dismantled brick by brick.
There had to be another way. There had to be something more he could do – this couldn't be the end. He stepped closer to her and he begged. He begged her to snap out of it. He begged her to recognize him and she did. She offered him love the only way she knew how to love and it broke him to decline. He'd follow Lisa anywhere, but despite the appearances this wasn't her that was asking.
"Then we are not compatible."
Her statement broke his heart. Then she threw him with all her might and broke his spine and skull as well.
His words angered her. She did so much for him and yet he rejected her. If he insisted on being so uncooperative, he was incompatible and expendable. Everyone here was expendable. If he didn't need what she offered; if he didn't need them, she most certainly didn't want them either.
All of them were going to be deleted and this will be the new base of her kind.
She walked past Ianto's crumpled body and headed straight for the woman she had failed to convert earlier.
Jack woke with a soft gasp. His body felt whole and new, but the memory of cyberwoman's electric touch was still fresh and the echo of pain caused him to shudder. He slowly managed to get up on his knees all the while thinking and hoping that his team had managed to get away.
The only evidence that few minutes earlier Ianto's head was smashed open against the grating was the blood in the water. When Jack slid in the water beside Ianto he did smell the blood, but it was far too dark for him to tell that the water he was sitting in was dark pink. Besides the smell of blood had always been too oppressive for him to tell how much of it had been spilt.
He cradled Ianto in his lap and tried to wake him gently. The stillness in the other man scared Jack, but he couldn't smell death on Ianto either. He felt he had to act fast but he didn't know what to do so Jack did what felt natural to him – he pressed his lips to Ianto's and willed the never-ending power that kept dragging him back to life give a little nudge to his receptionist.
Ianto's spine was just about finishing repairing itself when his whole body was flooded with unfamiliar force that helped him heal within seconds and pulled him to awareness so rapidly that it left him without breath. It took him quite a while to realize that he was staring incredulously in the Captain's face.
Moments later when he raced in the direction of Lisa's pain-filled howl his body was still tingling with the sensation of the unfamiliar energy coursing through his veins.
Breath caught in his throat as he looked at her body crumpled into a chair against the wall of the autopsy bay. He ran to her side, but didn't dare touch her.
'As long as you don't touch them, you can believe that they're still alive,' the words belonging to an old friend resurfaced in his mind.
He threw a questioning glance at Owen who hastened to explain that he had only been defending himself, but that was not what Ianto wanted to hear. The only question he had was – how? How could they've killed her? She was of his kind – she was supposed to heal. She was half-converted – how could she be killed so easily?
Then her eyes opened and he was pushed away. He wouldn't have moved if Gwen hadn't placed herself between him and Lisa. In the moment she looked at him; he thought he saw something in her gaze. It was a look that he recognized and he couldn't believe his own eyes. It was the same look that the mutated of Generation V had had.
Ianto was so dazed that he didn't notice to whom Owen aimed his question and nearly answered himself. Because he should be dead too, but he wasn't – he always lived.
They all stood behind Jack and Ianto felt the fight in him slowly die away. He could push them all aside and go to her, but what would happen then? He stared at her face – her sweet, familiar face and didn't recognize her at all. Her features were hard and there was no expression in her face. The Lisa he knew always showed something with her body. Her eyes were the worst. He knew them to be dark and warm like wet sand on tropical beach, but the eyes that looked at him now were dead – cold and empty.
He pleaded with the Captain to give her a chance, but he no longer fought for her.
Jack dosed the cyberwoman with an unhealthy amount of dark chocolate sauce to make her a big, yummy piece of fresh meat for the pterodactyl. As he ordered Owen and Gwen to hold Ianto on the lift; Jack couldn't help, but think about how much he hated obsessive ex-girlfriends. Then he released Myfanwy.
At first Ianto could only watch in horror then he screamed for Jack to stop. He considered jumping from the platform, but then he would have to push Owen and Gwen down too and they wouldn't survive the fall and Ianto didn't want to kill them. Not tonight. Not like this.
He pleaded for the Captain to have some mercy. Mercy for both Lisa and Myfanwy. Lisa (even if she wasn't really Lisa anymore) didn't deserve a death as gruesome as this and Myfanwy – the pterodactyl was not an attack toy. The pteranodon could get seriously wounded and damn it if the bird wasn't the only being he was actually fond of in Torchwood Three.
He had all this power – this life, this knowledge, this strength, but unless he was willing to kill two people one of whom had actually tried to help him – Ianto was powerless. All he could do was watch and it filled him with impotent rage.
Jack had been punched a lot of times in his life and many of those had been unexpected. Ever since he had died Ianto's punch was the first to make him collapse on the ground. The archivist's aggression fed his own anger and Jack jumped to his feet just as few cervical vertebras clicked back into their proper places.
Yes, Jack wanted the cyberwoman dead and Ianto was not going to make him feel guilty over that. He was right and Ianto was wrong and it was time that his receptionist realized that his 'tortured love' was not worth the destruction of the world. Jack advanced on Ianto, but let Owen hold him back and subsided with glaring fiercely at the Welshman who didn't seem to notice or care what Jack felt.
If Ianto wanted them dead, he would have jumped from the lift and let them fall. He wasn't going to shoot, but that didn't mean that he wasn't surprised when for the second time that day Jack overpowered him.
Jack was so angry that his voice trembled, but his hand was steady. It was a terrible moment for an epiphany. He cared for Ianto. God knows the man had probably lied to him since the very first day and had played him for a fool over and over again, but Jack couldn't help it. He couldn't shoot Ianto even when the man looked him into face and openly defied him.
So he ordered Ianto to kill her. He told him to pick up the gun and go and execute her. The cyberwoman couldn't be left alive – not before and most definitely not now.
His hands curled into fists when Ianto disappeared out of his line of sight. He wanted the kind of loyalty Ianto displayed to her aimed at him. He wanted Ianto to kill her, because Jack was sure that Ianto would never forgive him if he did that. He just didn't want to be the only one to feel this hurt. He wanted to at least control something in this whole mess.
When he looked at the scarred forehead of the pizza girl; Ianto knew. He knew that Lisa was well and truly gone, but he still went along with the lies. He still succumbed to her. He would still have followed her for the few scraps of memories that this being possessed of Lisa. Ianto had long ago realized that he would forgive Lisa anything and now that she was gone; he would forgive anything just to be close to what remained of her memory.
He knew that Annie was wrong. He knew that Lisa – the real Lisa was gone, but knowing and accepting that knowledge are two completely different things. He had been with Lisa for years – they were lovers before they were friends and they continued to be companions' thorough millenniums of heartache, loss and joy. She had stood by his side and pulled him from the edge so many times he had lost count. She had saved him again and again and again and when it was his turn to return the favour – he had failed.
He couldn't accept that she was gone. He couldn't just brush her aside and grieve for a while. If there was the faintest of echoes left of Lisa in this girl then Ianto couldn't turn his back on her.
Lisa was also the last of his kin. Some had disappeared never to be seen again and few had undergone long and gruesome and torturous deaths to finally gain some peace.
It happened in a fraction of a second while his back was turned – four guns fired and every single bullet reached its target and Annie collapsed on the powered down conversion unit.
Ianto gazed emptily at Torchwood Three before sinking to his knees between the bodies of Lisa. Everything he had done was wasted. Everything of hers was gone.
The old body had no mind left and the new one was primitive. When the cyberwoman transferred herself and what was left of Lisa – she took everything and placed the most precious thing Ianto had in a fragile, mortal body. In a body of a pizza girl that was now riddled with bullet holes.
He didn't think he could cry. He couldn't see or hear anything. The only thing he felt was the burning hotness of blood on his hands. He didn't know whether he was breathing or not – all there seemed to be was this complete and utter darkness. Desolation.
He felt alone in a very large and very empty space and he knew exactly what he was missing. He knew exactly why he hurt and the knowledge was choking him. He felt like drowning only he didn't want to be saved.
"Ianto… Ianto, look at me," Jack grasped Ianto's shoulders and forced the other man to look at him.
"I hate you," the words were simple and quiet and powerless, but Ianto meant every single one of them.
"I know," Jack said nodding lightly, but he still didn't release Ianto from his grip. "I know you do and you do have a right, but let me help you."
A broken sound that may have been a chuckle or a sob made it past Ianto's lips. "I hate you."
Jack's eyes were bright with tears. "I know you do, I can feel it," he said. "But I'm the only one who can help you. I'm the only one who can understand. Others may forgive, but I'm the only one who knows how this feels," his voice trembled the same way it did before - when he ordered Ianto to go and execute his girlfriend.
Ianto made conscious effort to focus his attention on Jack. He saw that the Captain was earnest, but wasn't this too little too late? "I…"
"I'm the only one here," Jack interrupted. "I'm the only one," he repeated. "Let me help you," he pleaded.
Ianto's vision swam with unshed tears and his sorrow was crushing him with its unimaginable weight so he accepted the offer that he was begged to receive. He collapsed forward into the safety Jack's arms and proceeded to sob his heart out.