So I was reading another fic and suddenly I thought, "What if Ianto had been a bit more level-headed and had imposed a 5-hour lockdown when Tanizaki arrived so that he could finish fixing Lisa?" And so this was born. Title is from the lyrics of a Paul Simon song.
Ianto is good with technology. He always has been. He's not a genius like Tosh, but he knows enough to cover his tracks from her, enough to hide from the team's searches for him. They're in Scotland now, in some awful dingy flat that's wet and cold and cramped. But Ianto thinks it must be better, it must be because Lisa is with him, and she's whole again. It has to be.
Tanizaki had come through the door and looked amazed at the technology stretching out before him. Ianto hurried to greet him, taking his briefcase and leading the doctor down into the lower levels. In his excitement, Ianto nearly forgot to trigger the five hour lockdown, but at the last moment, the little thought in his brain grew bigger and hurried to a computer, pressing in a few commands, and editing the programme so it looked like an innocuous chemical-triggered lockdown. The alarms sounded, doors rolled. There were locked in.
"This is Lisa," Ianto told the doctor when they got down into the lower levels. He kissed her gently, even though he knew she was asleep. The Japanese doctor stared at them, amazed, revolted, awed.
Ianto responded automatically as Tanizaki babbled and asked him questions. All he could think about was that they were so close and that Lisa would be well again and they could go away and live their life together free of all this awful stuff.
"You said there was somewhere I could work upstairs?" Tanizaki asked. Ianto nodded. "Good. First, we must bring her up. Remove all but the respirator."
"Yes, sir." Ianto fell back into blankness as he followed the doctor's instructions, unplugging or removing various tubes and technologies, sliding a slumbering Lisa onto a stretcher and wheeling her up. There wasn't much talking, and Ianto chose to ignore Tanizaki's nearly surreptitious gropes with only a silent wince.
When she was settled on the medical table, the doctor got to work properly, hooking her up to monitors and checking various things. He opened a programme on his computer and began typing rapidly before injecting her with some sort of medication.
"This first stage should enable her to breathe without the respirator. Once her body functions without support, I can judge what work is needed."
Worry spiralled up Ianto's spine. "What if she's not ready to breathe on her own?"
"You must be prepared for her not to survive."
No. He couldn't let that happen. Lisa had to survive. She had to. He had done so much for her. He wasn't about to fail.
Tanizaki looked sympathetic for a moment. "Sometimes, in order to save what we love, we have to risk losing it."
Ianto didn't want that. He turned away, chewing at his thumb, worrying. When Lisa flatlined, all Ianto couldn't think about was how this wasn't allowed to fail, how this had to work, she had to live. He would will her to live if he had to.
The steady beep of the monitor was like a warm breeze.
"Ianto?" It was wonderful. Ianto could hardly keep his tears of joy at bay.
"Yes, I'm here." He turned to Tanizaki, excited, elated. "She's breathing! It worked! You're alive!" He kissed her. "He kept you alive!"
Lisa blinked, a smile wobbling on her face, and turned her head to peer at the doctor. "Thank you."
"This is only the start," Tanizaki told them. "Mr. Jones, how long do I have to work here?"
Ianto checked the computers quickly. "Four hours, twenty minutes."
"That's quite enough time for me to work. Miss Hallett, I'm going to have to sedate you again."
"Why?" Lisa sounded disappointed. Ianto could understand; she had only just been freed from the claw of cyber control.
Tanizaki bowed his head in apology. "Because this will hurt very much otherwise. I don't want to cause you more pain."
"Okay," Lisa agreed. "Okay."
Ianto watched, and occasionally assisted, as Tanizaki removed the metal platings and stitched up the tears in Lisa's skin, as he reprogrammed the metal arcing across her head and destroyed the electrical pulses that controlled the emotionless computer inside. Ianto had to shut his eyes and turn away, gagging, as blood leaked from Lisa's ears and various cuts on her head when the doctor removed the helmet. He couldn't turn and look, couldn't listen, couldn't think about it, not until a hand touched his shoulder and he turned to see her helmet-free, her head bandaged but intact.
"She will heal," Tanizaki assured him. "Keep her here and resting for a week, give her medicine and fluids and rest. She will get stronger. She will be fine."
"And the Cybernetic parts?"
"All removed. She is fully human again. Her organ functions are strong. Her muscles may have atrophied a small amount during her time being kept stationary. But they will recuperate quickly."
Ianto could hardly keep from hugging the doctor. "Thank you. Thank you so much."
"It is my job, Mr. Jones."
Ianto checked the time. Forty-five minutes until the lockdown was released. "We need to get her back downstairs. I have another chamber set up for her to rest in."
"I will help you."
Together, they wheeled her on the stretcher down to another room in the lower levels. This one was cosier, with a proper bed and some lamps. Ianto lifted her into the bed and put a blanket over her.
"She will sleep for a few hours. The sedatives are strong and her body needs rest to heal."
"I understand." The doctor followed him up the stairs and into the autopsy room. He gathered all the Cybernetic components, willing his hands to stop shaking, and brought them down to the incinerator. Fifteen minutes.
"Doctor Tanizaki, come with me. You're going to have to leave through the back way, I'm afraid." He lead the man through the maze of lower levels. "It will let you out on the other side of the Millennium Center. Just press that button and enter code one-three-three-six-two. It will open for you."
"Thank you, young man."
"No, I thank you. I can't thank you enough. Really." They shook hands, and Ianto couldn't stop smiling, or bowing. He glanced at his watch. Four minutes. "Thank you for everything. Goodbye, Doctor Tanizaki."
He hurried down the corridor and into the archives, arriving just as the alarms for the release of the lockdown went off.
"Ianto!" Jack's voice called through the Hub. "Ianto!"
Ianto jogged back up the stairs he'd just run down. "Yes, sir."
"What happened? Why were you locked down? Was there a threat."
Ianto forced his face into a sheepish expression despite the grin that wanted to burst out. "No, sir. It was my fault. I dropped an artefact in the archives that released a chemical and triggered a lockdown."
"Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, sir. It was just helium. But I think the Mainframe just wanted to be sure."
"Understandable. I'm glad everything's all right. You had us scared up there."
"I'm sorry, sir. It won't happen again."
"Good." Jack clapped his hands together with a relieved grin, the twinkle back in his eye. "Now, I'm dying for a coffee!"
"Of course, sir. I've got you all addicted." Then Jack turned away to talk to Gwen about something, and Ianto was invisible again, unimportant. On any other day that would have made him a bit sad, but he had Lisa to think about now, and nothing could touch his happiness now that she was alive and well.
They lay low for two weeks while Ianto prepared their escape. He hardly even felt guilty now, or like he was going to miss this team to whom he was essentially just part of the furniture, a ghost that brought them coffee and cleaned up after them. Strangely, he felt like he wouldn't even miss Jack Harkness at all, which was something he had nearly worried about months ago. And when everything was in order, he waited until everyone else had gone home and Jack was off fighting a Weevil or drinking in a pub or brooding on a rooftop or whatever it was he liked doing, before he wheeled Lisa out in a wheelchair and slid her into his car, putting the chair in the boot. He knew that in twenty minutes, the CCTV of his removal of Lisa and departure from the carpark would be erased and replaced with blank footage. Eight hours later, they arrived in Glasgow.
Ianto thinks things must be better, but some part of his brain whispers in the night that it isn't, and it won't ever be. Lisa is still recovering, though her scars have been healed for a month now and her muscles are strong again. He helps her through it all.
So things should be good. They should be wonderful. But there's a distance they didn't used to have. She doesn't talk as much as she used to, she isn't as happy as she had been before. Neither is he; the memories are too horrid, too fresh, but he seems to manage better than she does. Sometimes she snaps at him, or screams at him in a way he's never heard her do before. He doesn't feel as connected to her as he used to. They cannot finish each other's sentences. She does not laugh when he makes fun of conservative telly. He had to trade their metal-sheened refrigerator for a white one before she would go anywhere near the kitchen. Sometimes he thinks of the fact that before all this, he was going to ask her to marry him. Now, when he thinks if he's going to do it, his mind stutters and trips and he doesn't know why but he can't and he won't. Not any more.
It's strange. He never doubted their love before. He always thought it would carry them through anything, that it would help them overcome anything. It doesn't seem like it anymore. They fight more than they laugh now, and more often than not they try their hardest to avoid each other. It's hard to even talk to each other. When Ianto has to help Lisa with her physical therapy, he won't look her in the eyes, and she only touches his shoulders if she feels like she's about to fall over.
They still sleep in bed together, but she has her side and he has his, and only on the best days do they ever cross, and only for the briefest of moments.
"Do you remember," Lisa starts one night, out of the blue. "When we went camping on the beach? In Brittany?"
"Yes," Ianto nods. "I remember."
"And we had cheese toasties and shared a sleeping bag and a dog pissed on our tent in the morning and we hardly got any sleep." She continues.
Ianto smiles in the dark. The old days. Everything is different now. The distance between them on the mattress is only centimetres. It feels like miles. The dull stabbing in his gut doesn't feel like love anymore.
"I'd like to do that again." She sighs.
"Mmhmm." Ianto tries to imagine doing that now, camping out on the beach with Lisa now. He can't find it. His mind's eye is blank. He pushes that darkness away and drags up the memory of a few years ago, a grey beach in Brittany, the wind, the warmth of her skin, her carefree laughter, feelings he hasn't had in months. "Me, too."
They don't go, though. The distance grows. They only speak when they're about to go to sleep, and more often than not Ianto falls asleep in front of the telly after work. Lisa works a little bit from home, programming for various companies. She hates going out because of her scars. They scare people. They scare her. Ianto can't tell her she's beautiful. So he doesn't say anything.
He thought things would be perfect when he saved Lisa. He thought they'd have the ideal life together, that their love would conquer everything. Something went wrong somewhere.
At night now he dreams of his brief time at Torchwood Three. He dreams of Toshiko's barely coherent technobabble, of Suzie's sly grin and open curiosity, of Owen's brash but hilarious sarcasm. He dreams of Jack Harkness most. He dreams of the dashing smile, the American accent, the heroic coat, the laugh, his scent, and always, always, the way his foreign tongue mangled and curled around the name 'Ianto' as if tasting it for the first time. He wakes up with a feeling of loss aching in his chest.
Eventually, Torchwood catches up to them, like he knew they would. Lisa screams when they first burst into their home, and Ianto knows why because he, too, is suddenly flashing back to Canary Wharf and horrible creatures of metal smashing down the doors. Then she is silent as Toshiko and Owen escort her away. Ianto hates that he knows what that means. He hates that he doesn't care.
Jack doesn't kill him. He sits down at Ianto's kitchen table and watches as Ianto makes coffee for them both. When Ianto is settled, he takes a sip and groans.
"I missed this stuff."
"You don't work for me anymore, Ianto. You can drop the 'sir'." Ianto flinches at that. Jack peers at him like a curious child. "Why did you do it, Ianto?"
"I loved her. She was everything to me. I wanted to her to be well again. I wanted to be happy."
"And are you?"
Ianto stares down into his coffee, black and deep and bitter. "No," he whispers, not looking up. "She's different. She's not the same as before the—as before. I hate her."
"I'm sorry about that. If you loved her enough to risk all of—"
"I did." Ianto answers quickly. Then he sighs. "What are you going to do to me? To her?"
"I'm sorry," Jack says, his voice low and sombre, his expression regretful. "About her."
The realization crashes down on Ianto and for a moment, the shock freezes him. But as quickly as it has come, it passes, and he is left feeling exhausted and blank, and strangely relieved. It's over. It's all over, and he doesn't really even know all of what that feeling of it encompasses. So he nods once, and looks back up.
"I don't know yet."
"You destroyed Tanizaki."
That makes Ianto look up, startled. "What? How?"
"His obsession with the Cybermen. It killed him. He tried too hard to recreate the circumstances of a cyber conversion. The unit overloaded and exploded. It killed him. And even before then, his work was discredited when other scientists discovered his fixation on the tech."
"I didn't know." Ianto feels guilty, and very small. Jack touches the back of his hand, and it makes Ianto jump. Lisa's skin has been cold since—well, since. Jack's is warm and soft.
"I know. That's why I don't know what to do with you. Other than bringing a Cyberman into our base to fix her, you didn't do anything else on purpose."
"And yet, I still brought a Cyberman into your base."
"Ianto, what do you want?"
Ianto is taken aback by the sudden question, and he splutters. "I-I don't know, sir."
"Enough with the 'sir.' Really, what do you want?"
"I just…I just want to be happy."
"And do you think working for us would make you happy?"
"I don't know. Really." Ianto has no idea why these questions are being asked of him. He can hardly think enough to form those answers.
"Were you happy when you were working for me before?"
"I suppose. I wasn't really paying attention to myself at the time."
"And you're not happy now. But you want to be."
"Well, there's two ways I can do this. You know which choices they are."
Ianto nods. "And I'm sure you've already decided which one."
Jack only hums in agreement and leans back in his chair, gazing at Ianto as if appraising him or contemplating his insides. Ianto stares down at the bone-white bottom of his empty cup of coffee.