Working Title: Rendezvous
Episode Title: Canary WharfDisclaimer: I do not own, nor ever will, Torchwood or the characters within.
In the ruins of Torchwood One Ianto Jones met a man in a red coat.
I'm trying out posting here, so I wrote this so I would have something to post and am now finding out that I have no idea what I'm doing... :)
It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath –
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death…
The smoke was suffocating and Ianto Jones coughed again as he crawled over another fallen ceiling. The cloying smoke burnt his lungs with its acrid stench and his eyes watered making it harder to see the devastation in front of him. Sparks fell around him as bared wires scraped against exposed beams. Pinpricks of heat flared across his face and he moved quicker as his heightened and frightened nerves pushed him past the danger. The floor softened under him and it took him a moment to realise that he was crawling over people. Dead people. He retched and acid bile filled his throat.
“Sorry, forgive me, sorry,” he whispered through the bile and smoke as he crawled almost gingerly over the corpses as if fearing to cause them more hurt. He tried not to meet their blank eyes as he moved and he was pathetically grateful that he didn’t recognize them. He kept swallowing until he felt concrete under his hands and knees again and then he couldn’t stop the violent upheaval of his stomach. He spat bile in convulsive gasps, his whole body shaking. Sweat and tears scored marks through the dirt on his face as his hands fisted against the floor.
Each heaving wave made his ribs and stomach muscles ache and it became impossible to breathe between gasps as the smoke closed around him again. His vision narrowed down to his scraped and filthy hands, his ears became filled with the roaring sound of collapsing masonry. Dust and smoke billowed around him and he coughed weakly. His arms gave out and he slumped forward, falling over his forearms, feeling the concrete against his cheek.
The Tower was burning, crashing, falling and he was genuflecting in his own bile. Ianto nearly laughed out loud but the smoke clogged his lungs again and he coughed helplessly.
“Nice ass there,” a voice drawled from behind him, the words coming to him as if through a tunnel. Ianto twitched, lacking the strength to lift himself up and turn around to find who was speaking. Booted feet appeared before him and hands suddenly landed on his shoulders. He was lifted up to be on his knees and the world wavered around him as he tried to bring into focus the man squating in front of him. Red swum in front of his eyes as something swiped roughly across his face in an attempt to clean some of the grime away.
“Bet you clean up real pretty-like too. Got yourself some gorgeous blue eyes there,” the voice told him with a distinct thread of amusement. Ianto blinked and his vision cleared enough to see pale eyes staring back at him.
“Come on, upsy-daisy,” the man said and pulled him to his feet with a strength Ianto hadn’t expected. He found himself leaning heavily on the slightly smaller man, breathing heavily as black spots floated dizzily in front of his eyes. “Don’t pass out on me yet blue eyes, need to find somewhere slightly less apocalyptic first.”
Ianto felt himself being manhandled with a firm arm around his waist as his saviour led them along the passageway. Ianto tried hard to stay focused but his sight and his mind kept fading out, seeking some relief from the horrors around him. People, bodies, bits of bodies lined every step they took. Ianto retched uselessly. He wanted to go back and make sure he knew none of them and then he wanted to close his eyes and open them again to find out this had all been a terrible dream.
“Stay with me blue eyes,” the voice told him as he nearly fell and the arm around his waist tightened. Ianto was trembling and the smoke kept choking him. Why isn’t he affected Ianto thought in a brief moment of mental clarity.
“Advanced physiology wins every time,” the voice laughed and Ianto could only nod mindlessly as the smoke claimed his senses again. His fingers clutched at the man’s coat tangling in intricate frogging and his other arm reached around the man’s waist seeking additional balance and support.
“Want to… got to… find…” Ianto mumbled as they pushed through a door and found themselves in a stairwell.
“What do you want to find, blue eyes?” his companion asked as he dragged them down the stairs.
“…Lisa…” Ianto managed to say before he stumbled again.
“Lisa? She your girlfriend?” The arm around him gripped tight into his now grubby suit jacket.
“…Yes…” Ianto nodded and his head felt strangely loose on his shoulders. It was hard to stop.
“She’s probably dead,” the man said bluntly. “It’s been nothing but cybermen and corpses so far. You’re the only live one I’ve seen.”
Ianto started shaking his head and a “no, no, no, no” fell continuously from his dry lips.
“Sorry blue eyes, but odds are she’s gone.”
“No, she has to be alive… she has to be.” Denial overrode his shock and he pushed away, scrabbling at the closest wall to stay upright. He faced the strange man and tried to glare at the pale eyes. “She’ll be safe. She works in the Archives. She’ll be safe down there.” The need to believe gave him fluency and he blinked rapidly struggling to keep focus and aware.
His saviour gave a loud obvious sigh and tilted his head with a long-suffering air. He leant against the handrail opposite Ianto and Ianto got his first clear look at him. The red coat with its thick frogging looked rather like an old Hussar’s jacket. It hung open revealing an undershirt that had definitely seen better days. Blue trousers led to fitted boots and Ianto looked up to find a smug smirk on the man’s face. Ianto’s gaze dropped back down to the wide belts slung around the man’s hips. Two solid dependable looking guns nestled against the side of each thigh and a sword hung at his left side.
“Enjoying the view?” the man asked with a laugh.
Ianto lifted his head to meet those pale eyes again. “You’re not Torchwood. Who are you?”
The man shrugged. “I haven’t decided yet.” He smirked and leered at Ianto. “Who would you like me to be?”
Ianto leant heavily against the wall. “I just want Lisa,” he said disjointedly, finding it easier not to think too hard about the anomalous man. It made his head hurt and he fixated on the easier, more explainable need. “Just need Lisa,” he repeated.
“You could call me Lisa if you want,” the man in the red coat said without any hesitation. “Although I think you’re a little bit too shocky to see the benefits in that.” He took a look down the stairwell. “Looks like we need to find a detour. Your Lisa’s in the Archives you said? I’d really kinda like to see them so how’s about you find us a way down there. Unless you can move concrete with your bare hands?” He nodded down the stairwell at the rubble at the next landing.
“The archives?” Ianto latched onto the thought. “We can see Lisa?” He blinked slowly.
“Yes, blue eyes, we can go see your Lisa,” the man in the red coat said in a careful manner, the pale eyes watching him closely.
“Lisa…?” Ianto asked again and the man shook his head as Ianto’s eyes unfocused.
“Oh, you are losing it completely now. You’re not much use to anyone right now, least of all me. You have a sit down and maybe someone will find you.”
Ianto slipped down the wall as the man closed the gap between them. The man’s thin face filled his vision and soft breath wafted against his skin. Ianto took a breath that wasn’t filled with smoke but carried the scents of the sea and he blinked, lips parting to take a deeper breath. The feel of a mouth on his held him frozen in place and then it was gone just as he started to twitch. Pale eyes, not quite blue, not quite grey, smiled at him.
“Maybe next time when you’re more with it, we should do this again. And a whole lot more.”
Ianto had barely registered and understood the innuendo when the red coat flashed before his face as the man stood up.
“See you later, blue eyes.”
Ianto watched him walk away, down to the door at the next landing. A swirl of red and he was gone, the stairwell echoing with the door closing and the smell of smoke closed around Ianto again as his vision blurred. The building seemed to groan and creak and Ianto wondered if it was him or the wall that was shaking. His hand was trembling as he swiped at his eyes, trying to clear them of the fuzzy edges and he pushed himself up.
“Lisa…” He took a step down and another, one foot in front of the other.
“Red coat,” he said at the third step.
“Archives,” escaped him at the fifth step.
“Lisa,” at the next.
“Red coat” just as he pushed weakly at the stairwell door. He fell through the door as it opened and his hands latched onto sheeted plastic as he tried to remain upright. He coughed as a foul stench assaulted his nose and he slapped one hand over his mouth as his stomach heaved. But there was nothing left and he shook as his muscles hurt and ached.
A sudden noise had him jolting around. The plastic crackled and he tried to push through it. It wrapped around him and he whimpered as he pushed harder at it, feeling trapped and nauseous. The noise repeated again. A loud sharp bang that echoed in his panic and he cried out, twisting and getting more and more entangled. Red light glowed and shifted with each twist and turn and he became more hysterical, hearing whimpers and sobs that he didn’t realise were coming from him. Hands grabbed at him and he shouted, his voice cracking as he flailed his hands around him.
“Come on blue eyes, you got to calm down.” The words made no sense and he struck out feeling his hands connect with something. What could have been a curse came in response but it didn’t sound like English so he struck out again. “Damn it blue eyes, if you wanted it rough you should have just said so,” someone said right by his ear as arms suddenly clamped around him and held him tight.
He struggled, the panic lending him strength but it didn’t last and he felt it slipping away as the arms kept their tight grip and his eyes slowly recognized the red coat.
“Red coat,” he panted with a lost sound as he shuddered and collapsed into the holding arms.
“Yeah, red coat, that’s me, blue eyes. Come on, upsy-daisy again. Let’s get you out of here.” Plastic crackled and scrunched around them as red coat untangled him from the tattered sheeting. “You’re a stubborn one aren’t you?” the man said with easy humour as he pulled Ianto up against him and eased them between the draping plastic walls.
“Lisa,” Ianto replied as his head spun.
“Single-minded too, I see,” red coat replied.
“Archives,” Ianto nodded and red coat laughed.
“Come on blue eyes, this ain’t a place to be stopping.” Red coat half-carried him past a torn sheet and Ianto froze completely, his body stiffening in repulsion and horror.
Cradles of metal. Cables snaking over the floor, hanging from the ceiling. Screens and monitors flickering. Tools scattered everywhere. Armour. Metal plates and pipes stacked beside steel frames. And people. People held in the frames, people strapped into the cradles, people with metal armour and pipes jutting from their chests, their heads, their legs. People who moved and writhed. Men, women, stacked next to the frame. Blood slicked the floor, puddled dark and wet under the cradles, drew haphazard patterns on plastic walls, ran in rivers over metal and steel. Light flared intermittently reflecting and washing everything in the colours of blood and metal.
Ianto couldn’t even retch as he stared. He breathed in blood and steel, an acid bitterness that swamped him, but it was the silence that hurt the worst. There should have been noises from the machinery, from the people, god even from the blood still dripping but it was completely silent. He shook his head, he stuck his fingers in his ears, hearing himself swallowing hard trying to make his ears pop. He removed his fingers and there was still no sound. The silence was terrifying. He needed to hear something, anything.
People were still moving and he stumbled to the closest one dragging red coat with him. A man, as young as Ianto, stared back at him. Strapped tightly into the frame, steel and golden metal circled his head and chest. Ianto recoiled as the man opened his mouth. There was no tongue. Red coat reached past him and there was a loud bang. Ianto jumped and saw blood welling from the neat hole that appeared in the man’s left temple. It was only then that Ianto saw the gun.
“Yes.” Red coat’s voice was flat and he pulled Ianto away from the dead man. “They’ve been converted. Killing them is a mercy.” He turned Ianto around and stared at him. “They’re already dead, blue eyes.”
“He had no tongue,” Ianto whispered.
“Cybermen don’t need them. Another few minutes and he would’ve had a whole new cyber voice box fitted.”
Ianto tried hard to understand but the smell and the silence kept him drowning in deepening shock. Red coat left him standing in place and approached the next cradle. Another shot and another. Ianto watched the red coat circle the room jerking with each shot as he tried to remain upright. He swayed dangerously close to falling as red coat returned to his side and help him straight again.
“Come on blue eyes.”
“Archives,” Ianto said blankly as he let red coat lead him through a plastic sheeted passage and into another butchery.
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Her too,” red coat responded absently as he sighed at the carnage.
“Lisa.” Ianto’s voice was stronger and he let go of red coat and ran, stumbling to a cradle that held the body of a young woman.
“Ah fuck,” red coat said behind him. “Let me guess. This is your Lisa.”
“Lisa, Lisa,” Ianto said as he reached out, lightly touching the face encased in golden metal. Dark eyes stared at him as he felt warm flesh under his fingers. He sobbed in relief. “Lisa, Lisa.”
Hearing the click of a gun being cocked and seeing the black barrel rest against her forehead had him turning on red coat with a furious protest.
“No! You can’t. She’s alive, she’s alive!” Ianto grabbed hold of red coat’s arm and tried to push the gun away but red coat was stronger and Ianto was weakened and the arm and gun remained steady.
“She’s not human any more, blue eyes. She’s not alive; she’s one of them now.” Red coat stared calmly at Ianto. “You try to save her and the first thing she’ll do is convert you. That’s just not Lisa anymore.”
Ianto shook his head. “No. Lisa’s here. She’s alive.”
“Look at her, blue eyes. Really look at her.”
Ianto turned to Lisa and met the dark eyes that stared back at him. He stroked the soft skin of her cheek. The dark eyes didn’t blink. Ianto ran a hand down her arm and tried to hold her hand. Her long fingers stayed lax and the dark eyes did not blink. The metal was cold but her skin, her flesh was warm. He looked at her chest. Metal covered her like a golden corset. It shimmered with a slow movement.
“She’s breathing,” Ianto said fiercely.
“Internal pneumatic system. Turn her over and you’ll see the connections in her back,” red coat replied. Ianto stared at the golden metal. It took three minutes before it shimmered again as the gold casing lifted up and then sank down.
“She’s breathing,” Ianto repeated brokenly, denial thick on his tongue.
“I’m sorry blue eyes.” Red coat took the gun away from Lisa’s head and held it between them. “Do you want to do it, or shall I?”
Ianto stared at him. “Me? You want me to … to kill... kill Lisa?” The words strangled themselves in his throat and he choked them out through the rushing blood in his ears.
“I don’t want you to do anything, blue eyes, but she was your girlfriend so I’m just giving you the chance to end it. If you can’t then I will.”
Ianto stared at the gun, at red coat, at Lisa. The dark eyes didn’t blink. He could feel tears on his cheeks but her eyes remained fixed on his. She didn’t blink. He waited, not blinking, through another slow rise and fall of her golden breasts. She did not blink. His eyes began to burn with the strain.
“No, don’t call me that! Ianto, my name’s Ianto,” Ianto almost spat as he blinked. Lisa did not.
The gun reappeared, the barrel resting gently on her cheek and then almost caressing as it moved upwards to her forehead. With an agonizingly slow movement Ianto stretched out his hand his fingers curving, placing them over red coat’s. Keeping his hand there, Ianto leant forward and brushed his lips against Lisa’s. He breathed deeply hoping, wanting to breathe her in but only the cold smell of metal filled his nostrils. Tears dropped from his cheeks to hers. He looked into the dark eyes. She didn’t blink. He straightened up and his hand tightened around red coat’s.
He didn’t jump at the loudness of the shot.
He didn’t blink. Neither did she.
Ianto stared up at the ceiling. There was a stain that meandered across the off-white panels to the fluorescent lights. He often followed that stain and ended up staring into the light as if it would burn away all the memories that played in an endless nightmare behind his eyes. He refused to blink every time his eyes watered.
He’d never been fond of hospitals and this one was no worse or better than any other he’d been in. The bed was comfortable, the lack of visitors was preferable and the medication wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to silence the screams and cries that echoed in his head, behind his burnt eyes. It was ironic, he thought at times, that his memories supplied the noises he hadn’t heard.
Torchwood One had gone, the Tower had fallen they said and he was stuck here waiting. Waiting for them to come around and take away the memories that played out with every blink. He told himself he wouldn’t miss them.
“Lisa,” he told the ceiling.
“Red coat,” he told the light.
“Blue eyes,” the light replied and Ianto smiled.
“Told you not to call me that,” he whispered and a hand appeared between his eyes and the light. It moved to the right and Ianto’s eyes tracked the movement, his head following like an afterthought.
“You’ll always be blue eyes to me,” the man in the red coat smirked at him. “Although seeing you all clean like this… you’re definitely first class eye candy.” The man settled on the edge of the bed and surveyed the young man. Despite the dark shadows under the blue eyes and the bruises visible on the arms not covered by the hospital gown the young man looked remarkably unscathed. But the vacant expression that came and went so frequently through those blue eyes shouted a loud warning of the internal scars that might never heal. Although, as Ianto raised a slow eyebrow in disbelief, red coat figured there could be hope for the young man after all.
“Oh yes, pure gorgeous eye candy,” he purred and was rewarded with the faintest tinge of colour on Ianto’s face.
“Thought you left,” Ianto said with an uncomfortable wriggle as red coat leered at him. It was strange to actually feel embarrassment when he felt like he’d been in a complete vacuum the last few days.
“I did, but I came back for you.” Pale eyes twinkled. “Had to make sure you were okay,” red coat said with a careless shrug.
Ianto stared at him, not quite believing the casualness exuded by his saviour.
“You saved me,” Ianto whispered hesitantly.
“No.” The word was abrupt and harsh and red coat seemed to realise that as he sighed and softened his tone. “I just stumbled over you. You would have gotten out eventually. The place was crawling with soldiers you know. They would have found you sooner or later.”
Ianto didn’t reply. He didn’t know what to say and red coat looked as if he didn’t want to hear it even if he could find the words. He’d been found by UNIT soldiers a floor or two away from the conversion units, slumped in a corner and covered in a blanket. Ianto had no recollection of anything beyond the echoing gunshot and he had professed ignorance of where and how he had ended up. But he had known who had carried him from Lisa’s side. He had had no doubts that red coat had done him that one last favour of not risking his waking up at Lisa’s side.
“Try and stay out of trouble, blue eyes. I can’t be coming back here and saving you all the time,” red coat said as he stood up.
“You’re going?” Ianto asked and then bit his tongue at how bereft he suddenly sounded.
“Yep, I have a … flight to catch.” Red coat leant close and the scent of the sea that Ianto remembered surrounded him for a moment as he was kissed. “Mmm, sweet indeed,” red coat whispered against his lips. “Eye candy,” he said as he pulled back and smirked at Ianto.
“What’s your name?” Ianto asked in a rush. “I can’t keep calling you red coat.”
Red coat laughed. “I don’t mind you calling me that and there are plenty of other names I could suggest.” Pale eyes swept the room taking in a pile of books on the bedside chair and then he looked at Ianto. “John Hart. That can be my name for you.”
“John Hart,” Ianto repeated and red – John Hart smiled.
“You have one hell of an accent eye candy,” John Hart told him as he pulled his sleeve up revealing a wide brown strap around his left wrist. “You get better and I’ll come back. There’s quite a few sounds I’d love to hear that accent make.” There was a small beep as John Hart pressed something and the air around him shimmered.
Ianto watched, his eyes widening as the shimmering air thickened and then faded, taking John Hart with it.
Ianto sank back into his pillows. He stared at the ceiling again. He followed the stain to the light and when his eyes started burning he closed his eyes and kept them closed.
Six months after the fall of Torchwood One, Ianto Jones met the red-coated man again...
To the Second Rendezvous
Extract from 'Rendezvous' by Alan Seegar, 1917
'The King of Lies' by John Hart was first published in May 2006