Title: And All The Clouds
Disclaimer: I do not and never will own Torchwood or the characters within.
Characters: Ianto Jones, Jack Harkness, Lisa Hallett
Note: Written for the Redisourcolour Challenge 24. Prompts used are an image(included in the fic), the words ‘false, evening, pride, salt, witness ' and a quote from Queen Margaret’s monologue in Act IV Scene 4 of Shakespeare’s Richard III . I used ‘A hellhound that doth hunt us all to death’.
This is the fourth in my ‘verse where Ianto has saved Lisa which began in The Season Between and continued in The First Day of Spring and then With The Rain.
Author’s Note: I also took the fic title from the same play’s opening lines… and now on to the Advent challenge for which i feel rather freaked out about as i realise i could end up actually having to write a fic each day to make it through if i don't start writing now and get ahead of the dates ...
Summary: At the end of the day Ianto Jones is alone.
And All The Clouds
Dark clouds swirled overhead, a brisk wind making the water choppy and the evening chill. Ianto resisted the urge to huddle deeper into his thick coat as he stared out almost blindly towards the far mountains on the other side of the loch. First day of Spring indeed. Someone had obviously decided that this day was to be one he should be wary of. Last year’s had been so happy, this one had been a veritable roller coaster. God knew what the next one would be like.
“What are you going to do?” The American accented voice was whisper soft beside him.
“That will depend on what you intend to do,” Ianto replied unhesitatingly. “I’m not fool enough to think otherwise.”
“Because you know Torchwood, right?” Captain Harkness responded with a cynical edge and Ianto shrugged in agreement.
“I believe we covered that earlier,” he said. “You want me to believe that your Torchwood is better than ... is better. But even you can’t ignore what I did – what Lisa nearly became.”
“You could have ret-conned my coffee,” Jack pointed out. “Made me forget finding you.”
Ianto snuffed a breath out and shook his head. “That would be wishful thinking on my part, Captain. I’d have to erase more than just a day and you know. As soon as you got back to Cardiff you’d re-read whatever brought you here – or the others would ask how it went and then wonder at your sudden memory loss and you’d be back within the week. Not to mention that I’d also have to ret-con Lisa and then anyone in the village who might have seen or talked to you.” Ianto’s shoulders shifted slightly. “I think ret-conning you would cause more trouble than it’s worth.”
“Always knew you were a thorough man, Mr Jones,” the Captain replied almost proudly and Ianto’s eyebrow rose. Jack seemed to sense Ianto’s disbelief without even seeing his face. “It’s true you know. Finding you was no easy task. You covered your tracks very well. Chances are we’d never have found you if I hadn’t had to come up here to see Archie. Did you know that Torchwood Two gets a copy of all Scottish hospital admissions including outpatients and district nurse assignments?” Jack saw the sudden tension in Ianto’s stance. “I’m guessing not because otherwise I’m sure you would have found a way around it. But they do. It’s mainly to keep track of resident aliens. Like we do in Wales and One probably did for the UK. Although most aliens were sensible enough not to settle within London’s reach if they could.”
Jack paused and looked at the tense young man beside him. Ianto was still staring fixedly across the loch. He had to give the Welshman credit. Ever since he’d appeared on the man’s doorstep, Ianto had been polite and gracious. There had been nothing false to Ianto’s hospitality. He’d also been remarkably honest. Jack didn’t think he’d lied once and Jack had responded as he’d found himself being equally polite and surprisingly tactful in front of Lisa.
“A hellhound that doth hunt us all to death,” Ianto murmured and it was Jack’s turn to lift an eyebrow. Ianto seemed to sense it as he answered the silent query. “Shakespeare. One of my supervisors at One used to say that about Yvonne. I didn’t understand what he meant when I first got there, but…” Ianto sighed and fell silent.
“I’ll be honest with you, Ianto Jones. I can’t say that I would have welcomed you into my Hub if I’d known about Lisa when you first showed up, and up until I walked into that room this afternoon I never would have believed that it was even possible to save anyone from a partial cyber conversion. But I like to think I would have at least listened to you.”
Ianto shook his head. “You might have listened but you wouldn’t have helped me save her. I was already tainted in your eyes by being from Torchwood One. You didn’t even want me there. As I said earlier, you would have killed her – and me- if you’d known about Lisa.”
Jack let his breath out and his shoulders slumped a little. “Maybe, but I’ve seen what cybermen can do and even one would bring about the end of this world if it got free.”
“There is nothing left in Lisa that could reactivate,” Ianto said hurriedly.
“Nothing? Are you sure?” Jack asked and Ianto turned to face him.
“Yes, I am sure.” He glared angrily at the Captain. “I made sure of it before we left Wales. I used every scanner Torchwood had to make sure there was not the tiniest bit of metal or wire left in her. I used scanners that came from One and scanners that you had in your Archives. Anything that could detect metal or circuitry I used. Anything that could do internal imaging I used. X-rays, ultrasound, MRI, radioactive tracing even. All of it I used and nothing was ever found.”
“Nano-technology…” Jack began.
“Is very small and almost undetectable, I know, and alien tech could be even more undetectable but I scan Lisa every few days to make sure nothing is developing. I make sure she stays human,” Ianto interrupted belligerently. “And yes, I feel fully justified possessing and using alien tech to ensure that.”
“You have a scanner here?” Jack stated in disbelief.
“I’m not stupid or that arrogant to think there couldn’t be a future problem. I saw what they did. I saw how complete conversion was, and I will not let Lisa become one of them. So yes, I have a scanner here. I took it from the stuff that came from One and I don’t intend to give it back.”
“And if Lisa…?” Jack’s manner was intent and he didn’t bother finishing his question.
“Then I have … ways to stop it from going further.” Ianto’s face was blank but his eyes were dark and his voice was flat. “I don’t want to witness her suffering again but I won’t let anyone else suffer for what I’ve done either.” He met Jack’s eyes fearlessly and the two stared at each other for a long moment.
“I want you to contact me if anything changes,” Jack declared. “I noticed you don’t have a phone connected so I’ll get one put in for you.”
“No. No phone,” Ianto shook his head. “It’s not a good idea.”
“Why is it not a good idea? If something happens to Lisa you’re going to need help and you need a phone for that.”
“No. Lisa is listed as dead. Can you imagine what would happen if she called her mother? Or tried to contact her best friends? Who all died at Canary Wharf?” Ianto shook his head again. “I have a sat phone hidden away that I can use if I have to. I still remember the Hub’s number,” he added.
“And what about your family? Your sister? You’re not listed as one of the dead,” Jack asked.
Ianto snorted. “I haven’t seen my sister since I left Newport for London and we’ve barely spoken a dozen times over the last few years. Drifting became almost a matter of pride for me when I first left so she knows how footloose I can be. It probably shocked the hell out of her when you lot came to her looking for me.”
Silence fell again and Ianto turned back to stare at the loch. Jack studied the young man, noting the tired lines around his eyes and the almost tangible melancholic air. He compared it with the memory of the pale, reserved, well-dressed Welshman who had made divine coffee, flirted easily and never let him close. He seemed more careworn and Jack wondered if Ianto fully realised the price he had paid and was still paying for having saved Lisa. Jack suddenly wondered what would happen if – when - Ianto decided the price was too much. Jack’s jaw tightened and he felt in his coat pockets pulling out a small card.
He slipped the card into Ianto’s hand. “My private line’s on that, as is the new Hub number. We had to change all the numbers and codes after you disappeared. Standard security measures, you know.” Jack paused and abruptly wrapped his arms around Ianto, enfolding them together within his greatcoat and letting his body warmth surround the young man. “And if you ever want to just talk to someone, you can always call me,” he added before letting Ianto go.
He walked away and resisted the urge to look back. Jack had felt the deep shudder that had racked the slender frame in his arms and knew that it had been too long since anyone had held the young Welshman. He began to lay bets with himself on how long it would be before Ianto called him. Probably demanding to know what Jack would do. Or maybe, possibly just to talk.
When Ianto returned to the cottage, Lisa was sleeping curled up in their bed with the slightest of half-smiles on her face. Ianto leant against the door jamb and watched her. It was so quiet that he could hear each breath she took and he let the gentle sound wash through him. Dear God, please let her keep breathing for a long time yet he prayed silently. And then he was suddenly remembering the warmth of the Captain's arms and he had to turn away.
When he tasted salt on his lips and felt the itch of drying tracks on his cheeks he found himself praying again. Please don’t let me do anything to hurt her.