This is an AU fic that follows episode format, but not everything will follow the interactions from the show. I have tried to keep everybody as in character as possible, and I've added scenes and and tweaked things here and there, and will let you know ahead of time if something goes majorly different from canon.
Speaking of spoilers: All of Doctor Who S3 and probably S4 will be covered, to include the odd novel and animated special. This will be very AU for Torchwood, since I have absconded with their lovely TeaBoy, and I intend to steal Captain Jack and return him to Team TARDIS for the long run, though there will be a couple of Hub visits now and again.
Doctor Who and Torchwood do not belong to me. Quotes, shout-outs and references to other fandoms, media or music also do not belong to me.
Rated T for the usual Doctor Who stuff: Nightmare fuel, sci-fi violence, mild language/innuendo, random snoggage, and eventual Captain Jack Harkness plus Jack/Ianto (m/m ship, nothing explicit.) And puns. Lots and lots of puns.
The concept behind this fic was inspired by BeautyMouse's Meeting Points, where the Ninth Doctor and Rose meet Ianto Jones instead of Adam Mitchell in the episode Dalek. It's a fantastic story and well worth a read.
Oh, and this is un-beta'd, so while I am generally quite a stickler for proper writing, there may be typos and flaws that my eyes have simply missed. Also, I have re-written some sections since I first published, so if you've noticed things that look different, that would be why. Feedback is welcomed, so please let me know what you think.
Now that I've finished boring you to death with Author's Notes, happy reading! I hope you like it!
The Doctor turned his back to the wall, the blank, impenetrable barrier between him and his Rose, and walked away. Alone again. Another battle, another victory against the monsters, another loss.
He trudged to the end of the room, picked his way across the debris that had been Yvonne Hartman's office to stick his head out the gaping hole in the side of the building. UNIT forces were setting up a perimeter around the building, intending to scavenge the broken tower for alien tech, like they were raiding a younger sibling's room for their toys. His eyebrows knitted together in a scowl. He was going to leave now. Fly away in the TARDIS alone, just like he always did. He never stuck around to clean up. He wasn't their parent, it was their own fault if they got their hands on particle guns or Janis Thorns or warp stars and then tried to inflict them on the rest of the galax... The Doctor groaned, kicked a crumbling bit of wall, and headed off down the corridor.
He gave the upper floors a swift but thorough inspection, finding mostly trashed offices and no survivors of any sort to be seen. The laboratories took him longer, and tore his already battered hearts into even smaller pieces, where he found the remnants of Torchwood's prisoners: innocent lifeforms that had fallen to Earth and been locked them up, tortured, interrogated, experimented on, or exploited as tools and weapons. Most of them had fallen to the Daleks, and the few left alive were in such broken conditions that he was forced to end their lives himself to spare them further pain. He descended to the basement archives, uncharacteristically silent, aside from growling to himself as he sifted through the wreckage, dismantling various weapons and carting the pieces to an incinerator. The fire reflected in his eyes as he watched the last of its instruments of destruction shrivel into dust. He sighed wearily and scuffed his trainers against the floor as he prepared to trudge back to the TARDIS.
He reached the floor that held the conversion units: the cybermen might have been gone, but the conversion units were built from materials within the Tower, untouched by the void stuff. The echoed harshly with the clanging of metal and the buzz of wires and circuits. Isolated little spurts of flame were scattered across the room, thick and stuffy with smoke and melted plastic sheeting and the tang of blood and steel. There were bodies piled on the floor, of people who had resisted, or been found 'incompatible.' He grimaced, locating the mainframe that connected the metal frames, some of them still occupied with victims of failed conversions. He buzzed the main wire and watched the units fizzle and fall silent, one by one. And at the end of the row, he heard an all too human yell.
"No! No, Lisa, stay with me!" The Doctor ran down the rows until he found the source: a disheveled young man, drenched in sweat, sleeves rolled up, suit jacket long discarded, kneeling by one of the units. Human, beyond all doubts; lack of earpieces aside, no converted human could have such an expression of anguish. The metal frame held a victim: a young woman, partly flesh and partly webs of steel. The boy gazed up miserably at the Doctor as he dashed up to them.
"What're you doing?" the Time Lord asked warily.
"She's still alive, still human," the boy choked, "they didn't get her, I was trying to save her... but the power's gone, she can't breathe on her own without it." He reached up and cupped a hand around the woman's cheek, who was gasping through the cybernetic respiratory system. "Please stay with me, it's going to be alright." He turned back to the Doctor. "Can you help me?"
Humans, honestly! There was his day in a nutshell; Yvonne Hartman's little army, that persecuted and exploited life from other worlds, that blackmailed him with Rose's life, that would have torn apart his precious ship, that unleashed hordes of Daleks and cybermen on the planet, and the moment it backfired onto them they tried to make him fix it. It was their fault the cybermen came through the breach in the first place, and - oh, for Rassilon's sake, they were humans. These two couldn't be older than twenty-five. They were practically kids. Caught in a cosmic crossfire, completely out of their depth, scared and hurt and clinging desperately to each other and a last few shreds of hope. They'd barely lived.
The Doctor sighed. "Alright, let's take a look." He pulsed frantically at sections of the conversion unit. "Can't fire it up all the way, but I should be able to get her breathing. C'mon, c'mon, c'mon... there we go!" He sparked a pair of wires together. "Residual power boost. 'S not going to hold for long," he said grimly as the woman gave a ragged inhale. The conversion knives above the unit began to whine and rotate. "Oh, no you don't!" he growled, sonicking them until they jammed, fizzled away and died. A shower of acrid smoke flared up nearby and the boy doubled over, coughing, eyes streaming. "You okay?" the Doctor asked automatically, before running a hand through his hair and shaking his head. "Sorry, stupid question. What's your name?"
"I'm... Jones," he faltered. "Ianto Jones, Archives." The Doctor looked him over properly. Welsh, by his name and accent; blue-eyed, baby-faced, with cuts and burns on his face and hands. He nodded and dropped his gaze to the woman trapped in steel. She had dark skin and deep, dark eyes and must have been a very striking woman before she had been soldered into a metal cage.
"And you, what's your name?" he asked gently. She gave a cracked whisper.
"Lisa. Lisa Hallett."
"Lisa, okay Lisa, that's a good sign, you remember your identity, he's right, it hasn't processed you completely. Lisa, can you feel anything?"
"Pain. It's burning." She squeezed her eyes shut, a tear sliding down her face. "Where's Ianto?" He moved to her other side, pressing a hand to her cheek.
"'M right here, Lisa, it's going to be okay... what're you doing?" The Doctor scanned the frame with the screwdriver, checking the readings, pulling away sections of wiring, severing some, fusing others together.
"This is different, this is new," he said darkly. "Usually they remove the brain and transplant it into a metal body, but they're upgrading everything here, I've never seen this before."
"They needed more soldiers," Ianto said hoarsely. "When those... Daleks showed up, the cybermen just started grabbing people left and right, dragging them off."
The Doctor nodded. "Easier to build the metal around a stable host than to remove the brain and plant it into a new body, probably," he mulled aloud.
"Lisa was halfway through the process when -" he gestured ineffectually at the burnt out wirings before slipping his hand into hers. "Do you know anything about cyber technology? Can you fix her?"
The Doctor looked at them seriously. "I know enough to know that it's nearly impossible to make a cyberman human again. But this is a different process. It's not something that's ever been done before, so there's a tiny chance that it's different enough. No guarantees. No promises. But I can try." He flicked the screwdriver up and examined the readings, muttering to himself, "'Bout 42% augmentation, 58% awaiting completion," he hissed between his teeth, "not ideal, how'd you escape, anyway?" he asked distractedly. There was no accusation in his voice, but Ianto hung his head.
"Air vents," he mumbled. "The cybermen blocked off the entire floor and started dragging people off, but I got about four people to follow me through a duct by the back wall. Hansen, Silvard, Luka and Cravis. I don't know where they are now, Hansen tried to get us to the secure archives to find weapons, but I... fell behind. I thought I could get up here to find Lisa."
Admiration flickered on the Doctor's face before he fixed Lisa with a rueful, reassuring grin. "He must really like you, huh?" She returned it with a weak smile of her own before drawing another ragged breath.
"I was going to propose..." Ianto whispered. "I'd been carrying the ring with me for weeks trying to work up the nerve."
Her eyes brightened for a moment, his words seeming to stave away the pain. "I'd have said yes."
Funny how humans could look so happy and so sad at the same time... The Doctor stood upright, checking and double-checking the readings. "Ok. Theoretically speaking, in order to save her, we would have to move her to a life support system that is compatible to her condition without the ability to convert her any further. Then she would need extensive and complicated surgery to remove the metal that's grafted to her limbs and torso."
"So she can be fixed?" Ianto's eyes flickered with hope.
The Doctor sighed. "This conversion unit is a life-support system, meant to keep her stable only while the conversion took place, and right now it's the only thing that could keep her alive. Now, given a few months and some supplies from a really shady tech salvage expert from Meredain IV in the 37th century, one might craft something from scratch. Well, I could. It would take a human probably four years. And... this unit has lost its primary function to convert a human host. I've taken out the knives and disabled the conversion commands and the weapon functions; that wrist-gun thing on her right arm. It can't turn Lisa into one of them, but it won't keep her alive. The machine is shutting itself down, and the residual power might hold it for... well, we have about four minutes. I'm sorry, we just don't have time." He ran a hand through his hair and scuffed his foot against the floor in frustration. "There's never enough time."
Ianto flinched and closed his eyes. The Doctor went on, "The other thing is... an operation might be able to fix her body, and if that were all she might have had a chance. But there's already been extensive augmentation in the brain. That's what the machine went for first. It didn't inhibit her emotions, but the technology is in there and it'll slowly take over. By the time the percentages are reversed, anything could trigger a complete takeover. The brain is incredibly complex and delicate... I don't think anybody understands it well enough to return it to its natural state after it's been taken over by something this parasitic."
Misery flitted across Lisa's face before it was replaced with a stoic resignation, her breathing becoming shallower. "So there's nothing you or anybody can do."
"No. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. But there isn't."
"Okay. Promise me... you'll get Ianto out alive. Make sure he's okay."
Ianto's head shot up. "What? No, no, I'm not leaving you, I can't just..." Lisa looked at him, another tear slipping away unheeded and a fragment of a smile beneath her grimace of pain.
"My stubborn Welshman. I love you. But you're going to have to let me go. Find someone. Be happy. Do that for me?"
Ianto's face crumpled. "I don't want to. I love you, I don't want you to go."
"You're very brave, Lisa," the Doctor said gently. "Very brave, and very human, and I am really very sorry. I'll look after him. I promise."
Lisa gave him a weak smile. "Thank you." She coughed, pulling in a thready gasp of air. "Ianto..." she murmured. "Goodbye, love. Have a good life for me." Ianto choked on a sob, forcing it into the back of his throat and hastily swiping tears out of his eyes.
"Ianto, look at me," the Doctor ordered. Ianto met his eyes tentatively; tired, broken, ancient eyes raging with loss. "I know. Honestly, I know. But there's nothing you can do for her right now except hold her hand and make sure she doesn't have to die alone." Ianto nodded once, scraping tears away from his face with his shoulder. The Doctor took a step back to give them a moment. Ianto leaned over the unit to give her a lingering kiss and a whispered goodbye. He clung to Lisa's hand as she gave a last, shuddering sigh and became very still. He stared for one second, then two, then three, and then his face crumpled. He slumped to the floor, face buried in his arms, frame shaking with wrenching sobs.
The Doctor reached up and closed Lisa's eyes. He pulled Ianto upright, wrapped an arm around his shoulders and guided the defeated Welshman out of the basement and through the devastated corridors, back to the TARDIS. From the core of the ship came a wistful, soothing melody, and it was only once he saw the blue box that Ianto looked at him properly.
"Hold on. You're the Doctor?" he mumbled.
"Torchwood's enemy number one."
"But you're helping me."
Ianto shrugged desolately and followed him into the TARDIS. He offered no comment regarding its dimensional transcendentalism. The Doctor didn't expect one anyway.
Ianto woke, completely disoriented. He was curled up on an unfamiliar bed, still in his work clothes, which were stained and smelled like smoke. His tie, shoes and belt lay abandoned on the floor, mangled and singed and crumpled, and his hands were tangled in a slightly grimy, tear-stained blanket. He dug through his empty pockets, glanced blearily about the strange room as dim memories flooded back: smoke, cybermen, Lisa, the Doctor, the great big room inside the little blue box, Lisa converted, Lisa gone. He sat up and wrapped his arms around his knees, burying his head against a wave of emptiness that crashed through him. He registered a presence shifting gently, vibrating at a soft hum inside his mind - no, beside, not inside. He threw up his psychic barriers as a reflex, only to find them practically shattered from stress and panic. The walls - was it the walls? Something within the ship gave a wheeze; chiding, amused, and reassuring all in the same thought. He cautiously relaxed what remained of his barriers, and was rewarded with the lulling thrum.
"It's okay, she likes you." Ianto jumped. The Doctor, the Doctor, was slouching in the doorway, smiling gently, like an owner of an intimidating yet gentle big dog. "The TARDIS is sentient. Bit telepathic, bit moody sometimes, too." The ship creaked indignantly and he patted the wall. "Sorry, dear." Ianto squeezed his eyes shut, gave his head a tiny shake, trying to clear the fuzz from his thoughts.
Because really, what was he supposed to make of the Doctor? For years he'd been fed stories of how the Time Lord was the Enemy, a threat to earth, banished from the planet by Queen Victoria. And he'd honestly believed that Torchwood existed to prevent alien threats; many of his friends worked there because they wanted to protect people. And then the Doctor had to go and save the human race from itself. Had to make millions upon millions of cybermen and Daleks disappear. Had to search for survivors, had to try and save Lisa, had to drag him out of there and onto his ship. 'Enemy No. 1' had suddenly been replaced by 'mad, skinny alien in a suit and trainers' who traveled with plucky young women and their mothers and talked to his spaceship. He gave a little choke that might have been a sob or a giggle; abducted by aliens. What next?
The Doctor scuffed his foot against the threshold. His new passenger was curled into a protective ball, trying to muster a blank expression with as much effect as his psychic barriers, mind and face writhing with fear guilt loss anxiety confusion no stop help go away don't leave me. Not for the last time, he wished Rose was there. She would know what to say.
Because really, what was he supposed to make of Ianto Jones? Rose was gone and he was here and he would have been prepared to swear that no member of Torchwood would ever set foot on his TARDIS after everything they did. And then one of their minions had to go and be so... human. Had to climb through the ventilation shafts of the building to reach the woman he loved, had to beg him to save her, had to hold her hand and stay with her until the bitter end. 'Member of Torchwood' had been quite suddenly replaced by 'traumatized, heartbroken Welsh kid' who'd just lost his love, friends and future in the space of a few hours.
"Would you like a cup of tea?"
Ianto frowned, blinked, puzzled over the question for a moment. He worked for Torchwood. He was on their Enemy's spaceship. Torchwood was gone. He was being offered tea. And it felt like an awkward attempt at sympathy as opposed to a trap.
"You have tea... on your spaceship?"
"Every good spaceship ought to!" The Doctor plastered on a grin. "Lovely stuff. Tannins and antioxidants and all that. Take your time, kitchen's down the hall, three doors on the left, if you fancy a cuppa in a bit. And like I said, the TARDIS is sentient and a bit telepathic, she won't let you get lost. Unless she's cranky. Just thought I'd come check up on you, I've finished sorting out the rest of the stuff in the basements, and UNIT's moving in so we'll need to be skipping off now. I'll be in the console room if you're looking for me, big room in the middle, can't miss it."
Ianto stared at him, even more thrown off by his bright chattering. "Erm... okay."
"Oh, and..." he pulled a tube of blue-green gel from his pocket and tossed it neatly. "Got this from the med-bay. Comes from a kind of fern on Arbus XXVI-B. Put it on your hands and face once you've cleaned up a bit. It'll protect the cuts, keep them from getting infected." Ianto stared at it, then back at him. "It won't sting, I promise." He was about to turn on his heel and swish out the door when Ianto shook himself out of his fog.
Ianto looked at the floor, looked at him, then back at the floor. "Thank you." The artificially carefree grin slid off the Doctor's face. He nodded once, eyes suspiciously bright, and turned away.
The TARDIS lulled Ianto into a few more hours of uneasy sleep, before he managed to haul himself upright to get his bearings. True to the Doctor's word, the sentient ship would nudge him almost on a subconscious level in the right directions to help him find the kitchen, one of the many bathrooms, and the wardrobe. He had been stunned by the sheer size of the TARDIS wardrobe, and wandered through multiple sections before getting pointed to a row of suits like the ones he was used to wearing. Clean, rested, presentable, and slightly bolstered by layers of monochromatic wool armor, he straightened his tie and headed for the console room to face... whatever it was the Doctor was going to do about him. He loitered in the hallway as he heard the Doctor talking quietly to - he couldn't exactly tell, a projection of some sort, but this was clearly a private moment.
"And I suppose... since this is my last chance to say it..." the Time Lord hesitated. "Rose Tyler..." but the projection he was speaking to faded away. Just for a moment, Ianto caught a glimpse of his face: tear-streaked and anguished, still forming the unspoken words, before fading into regret and resignation. A pang of understanding coursed through Ianto; the blonde girl, his companion. The Doctor had lost someone too. He covered his face with his hands, wiping away tears, before leaning over to the console and pressing a few buttons. Ianto took a cautious step into the console room, saw the Doctor's head shoot up like a prairie dog as -
There was another person in the console room. In a wedding dress. Who had, quite literally, appeared out of thin air in a shimmer of golden light.
"What?" the Doctor yelped.
The bride spun around and made a strangled squeak in reply.
"What?" he repeated. She recovered coherent sentences first.
"Who are you?"
"Where am I?"
"What the hell is this place?!"