Fragmented Time

Ianto/Lisa. Pre-series. How Ianto managed to get Lisa out of London and to Cardiff.

Ianto used to carry Lisa around his apartment. She giggled the first time, called him a barbaric Viking and giggled and not-so-secretly loved it. It was something stupid and cute and one of those things that they only shared privately. He was always stronger than people imagined, testament to his forefathers' background in farming, mining, and every industry that relied on brute strength and not much beyond. It was just that the first time he truly needed his strength, he failed.

Time does timey-wimey shit at the absolute worst moments.

Ianto's universe collapsed as he woke up. Water dripped down into his eyes, stinging him, twitching him into consciousness, legs sine waving with adrenalin.

The room's ceiling had collapsed, pinning his coworkers beneath tile and metal venting. Somehow he'd survived, the room's AC compressor a foot over his head, held up by the two desks he had fallen between. He looked up, then away, trying to shake the dirty water from his eyes, lose the incessant thrumming of the drip drip drip into his face.

His leg throbbed along his old tib/fib fracture, but knew it wasn't broken. One hand mashed, fingers able to bend, wrist hurting only when rotated up and down. He needed to move, to get himself out from under the conditioner. But time red shifted around him, flowing out and away as he laid there, watching the appliance hover above, giving him time to stay, allowing him to worry about paralysis, internal bleeding, stroking out, shock, trying to survive, whether to just die right there and then, trying to process what to do next. And then time caught back up, and he wriggled along his back, swinging his body between the desks until he could finally sit up. His shoulder knocked against the right desk, the air conditioner slipped out and thudded en pointe heavy onto the tile floor. He watched it leak dirty water where his head had just been, wondering if he was alive or not.

Ianto finally decided he wasn't dead, stood up, staggering along the leg, felt a ping, but got up to his feet. He walking through the broken office, ignoring the dead scattered throughout as he staggered, drunk, the formless shapes of people he had been talking to minutes, hours before.

He got sick. Bile working itself up through his body, rejecting his lunch and anger and everything he could feel.

Time flatlined.

He was standing there, mute, walking, travelling to the men's bathroom, and walked up to the basin. He washed his hands, seeing the bathroom, memories of previous, mundane handwashings overtaking his consciousness as he wiped his face clean, soaped his fingers and palms, and rinsed under the tap.

Reaching for towels, reality snapped back to the present, and he could see the wrecked bathroom. The destroyed basin, water and porcelain flooding the floor. Then memories returned, and he had to get out, escape, rescue friends, dead projects, Lisa.

He sprinted out, away.

Running in squishy, ruined loafers, he passed the dead again. Down the emergency stairs to the records processing department. He could tell that the Cybermen had been there, fought the humans. More dead intermixed with cybertronics. He'd hoped that the battle was over, but somehow knew that it only shifted elsewhere, to another floor, another building. But still he ran. Past Mary the Secretary's front desk, past Martin and Steinbergs' offices, through the rows of knocked over, pulled down cubicles, the floors strewn with alien tech, papers, personal pictures, artwork.

The office labyrinth worse as he picked his way across the mess.

Stopped.

A cluster of dead cybermen hybrids broken bodied before him. Positioned against the emergency exits, each with bullet wounds to their skulls. He checked each face, desperate, calmly, recognized two from before. Put it aside. Had to find Lisa, couldn't find her.

Went back to the two offices. Steinberg was dead. Ianto closed the door.

Martin's door struck against something heavy. Refused to open. He pushed, hard, but couldn't move it anymore. Whispered Lisa's name.

"Ianto?"

He pushed again. Then realized that she was elsewhere. The room empty of anything alive.

He closed his eyes, listening for her voice again, pretending, hearing it arcing through time.

He quickly left, entered the men's bathroom, found nothing. He was about to return when he heard footsteps. Watched like a voyeur as two foreign Torchwood members plucked their ways through the office, putting artifacts into bags and cases, ignoring the dead, almost joking with body language as they finally left the office, heading up toward his own through the stairwell.

"Ianto?"

The voice perfumed around him, louder, and realized where she was. He kicked the door open, found her strapped to the machine in the women's room.

He screamed in pain.

"Ianto," she said, her voice metallic, confident, hesitant. "My Ianto."

"I'm here," he quieted out. "I'm here now and we're safe now." He calmed his mind, failing, as his emotions betrayed him. He screamed for help.

Lisa's voice weakened into plaintive cries, begging quietly to live as he unstrapped her, checked her pulse, other minor, useless medical things he'd learned for his job. Something to do. She was free then, the machines wailing, dying, flickering without a body to support it.

And he tried to pick her up, remembering those times in his bedroom, in her bedroom, the free and easy way her body fit snug against him. The metal joists and attachments now too heavy to be lifted. He dragged her out, away, screaming time and again for help, for the other Torchwood team to come back, to help him save her. Unable to hear him, refusing to help. He could drag, would drag her, Lisa panicking, her breath hyperventilating, seeping out with little inhaled in return.

He dinged the delivery elevator, positioned her softly against the wall.

"I… I can't breathe," she exhaled consumptively.

"It's just you being scared," he said, hoping, frightened.

"No, it's the machines. I can't… breathe."

His face fell, realizing that they kept her alive. "How long can you go without?" He asked. An honest question. A stupid question. She tried shaking her head, thunking metal against the metal seam.

"I don't know."

"What…. What should I take?"

"Everything."

"But…."

"I don't know." She paused, gave him a list. He noted it, put her into the open elevator, blocked the sensor to force it open.

"Okay," he said dumbly. "Stay here," he ordered, heading back into the main office area. Closing his eyes, he reentered Steinberg's office, took the man's ID badge, rubbed it in ash and blood to cover the photo, wallet, office keys, digital pass key, and the pistol in the turned over desk. Headed for the stairwell, stole the life sledge and first aid kit.

Leaving quickly, he loaded the sledge with machinery, dragged it next to Lisa, grabbed the wobbly cart from the backfile area. He loaded more and more and more machines, alien artifacts, sensors abandoned in the rubble, abusing his muscles, forcing himself to transport the entire transformer base to the elevator, then dinged it down. "Lisa?" he asked lowly. "Lisa?"

"Yes," she answered, "hurry."

The door opened, and they descended to the underground garage. There were several dead bodies but each was off, indistinct, dissolving in the shadows. He took out the keys, and clicked open the nearest Torchwood van. He first slid in Lisa, pushing, pulling her up over the cusp, then lined her with the machines. "Can you still breathe?"

A faint nod.

"Right. Which is the respirator?"

She twitched a hand toward a green contraption. Ianto stared at it, looking for outlets and wirings. He turned a switch. A valve pumped up and down, slowly, dying out after a few seconds. "We need a generator," he told her, scanning the garage, saw a gasoline one by other equipment. He hauled it over, and slid it into the back. "I don't know how to connect it," he said, touching her face.

"You have to attach the green line to the output wire source." He nodded, looked around, and stripped a plug in from a mechanics light, and spliced the wires together. Priming the generator, he plugged the respirator in, and stopped. "I don't know if this will work," he whispered to her, begging, praying for it to work. As he pushed the on button, the engine turned over, shocking the ventilator into life. She inhaled deeply, then exhaled, a smile on her strained face. "I can breathe." They both laughed, scared, surviving.

He bent over and kissed her. "I promise I'll save you." He said into her mouth, breathing her in, meaning it, finally believing it.

"Where will we go?"

"I don't know."

"Another Torchwood?"

Ianto shook his head. "They abandoned us."

"There's the one in Cardiff."

The name sunk in his stomach. He hated it there, hated the name, hated the memories, hated himself. "Not there." Too much past, too much present. Realized there was no other place to go. He would go there. "Cardiff." He nodded. "We'll be there in four hours. Hopefully. You'll be okay back here? Comfortable?"

"Yes, we just need to leave." She ordered, taking control.

"Yes", he said, kissed her again, slid up to the front, found the keys, and started the van.

He drove it to the entrance, flashed the badge against the door sensor, waited impatiently as the gate slid open.

He came up to the street, stopped by a military checkpoint. "Bruce Steinberg, Torchwood," he steadied his voice, blasé, arrogantly bored, holding his ID languidly.

The soldiers pointed their guns at him, took the card, looked at him, the card through the grime and gore.

" I'm an officer for the Torchwood Institute with vital information. I absolutely must get to the secondary base right now."

"Sir, we have orders to detai-"

"Do I look like a converted Cyberman to you? Do you know who I am? If you keep me from getting to the Barbican base right now, you'll wish you and your first born had been converted. Do you understand me?" His voice was cold, authoritarian, old.

The soldier quivered, let him through.

Ianto shivered, stilled, a man of chilling repression. A mask he could feel filling himself. He maneuvered around London, ignoring sirens and more police checkpoints. Fighting panicked traffic, he finally made it to the outskirts, stopped for supplies in Slough. Blankets and pillows for Lisa to lie on, water, food, caffeine, gas for the van and the generator, money for the tolls. Signing Bruce Steinberg to the dead man's maxed out credit cards. Bought clothes. Jeans. A random t-shirt. Jacket. Socks and sneakers. Clothes and accessories that would blend him into Cardiff better. A man in a suit and tie could drive a work van in London without comment. In Cardiff, people would notice, talk, remember him.

Headed west, chasing the sun against the sky.

"We need to stop," he finally told her, seeing Swindon appear on the off ramp signs, the last light fading from view. "I can't focus on the road." He explained, pulling over in a parking lot, closing his eyes. Lisa hadn't said a word as he slumped against the seat, too still for too many minutes.

Then he crawled into the back, laid next to her, holding her hands, her skin too cool and clammy, but alive. He breathed her scent again, a mix of oil, gasoline, and honey, felt her eyes on him. He could live on this, survive, somehow get her to Cardiff, and then.

He woke up.

Found himself driving, had been for a while as he followed the M4 back to Cardiff. Remembered that he had personally thanked god the day after he graduated from school. He moving out, away, never to return for any reason. But he would do this to save her. He would do anything to save her.

As dawn purpled and bruised in his rear view mirror, he finally reached the outskirts of town. Trying to remember where Torchwood Cardiff was located, realized he didn't know, and couldn't google search it. Had to think where he could figure out how to even approach them. The direct approach was out. Had to trick them into accepting him, his story. Be the quiet, happy guy he had been two days before. Just looking for a job. He wasn't thinking straight, knew that he was absolutely out of his mind, but saving Lisa would be worth anything. Any sacrifice. Any crime, misdemeanor, lie, immoral act. That, to save her, the ends would justify the means. He had to think. He had one day to prepare. He knew that. Three at the most for her to be fully reconstructed into the conversion unit. Lisa could breathe for a day, but eating, defecating, and other biological acts would absolutely require more power than a portable generator could provide and space for him and her to set up in. He vaguely knew that Torchwood Cardiff had vast amounts of room, power, artifacts, all the lies and myths of the place that were rarely mentioned around the London offices. He just had to find a way to exploit a weakness, to get her in. He just wasn't sure what he could do.