Disclaimer: I do not and never will own Torchwood or the characters within.
Note: Set after the events of 'Cyberwoman' and written for my longliveIanto bingo card prompt 'Back story'.
Follows on from Siren
Author’s Note: Yes, i should be finishing the canary but it's been a tough couple of weeks and the siren call was too tempting...
Summary: Jack begins to deal with Ianto Jones in the aftermath.
“Jesus fucking Christ!” Owen exclaimed as he appeared on the pier and saw close to a dozen bodies lying scattered over the boards. He looked over at Jack who was cradling an unconscious Ianto at the end of the pier. “What the hell happened here?”
“Ianto happened,” Jack told him in a tired voice. “They're all unconscious and I don't know when they'll wake up. Can you retcon them? I don't want them remembering the last hour or so.”
Owen knelt beside one of the bodies checking for a pulse before getting up and walking across to Jack. “And what about him?” he asked.
“I’ll sort him once we get him in the Hub.”
“And you've been sitting here holding him instead of doing that because...?” Owen asked pointedly.
“Because I was watching the others and because I can't walk at the moment,” Jack admitted.
“You said Ianto did this. What did he do?” Owen demanded.
Jack looked down at the slack sleeping face of the Welshman. “He sang.” He looked up at Owen. “Ianto's not exactly human and if you tell anyone that I will retcon you back to infancy,” he said with unmistakable promise and Owen nodded as he recognised the complete sincerity in the Captain's words.
“I’m guessing you’re not going to answer any questions about him right now are you?” Owen queried surprisingly without any rancour.
“No. And it’s not just because I don’t have any answers,” Jack agreed. “I’d also appreciate it if you didn’t say anything to him. Not yet anyway.”
“I will need to check him over,” Owen pointed out.
“I know. Just don’t say anything, that’s all I’m wanting.”
“For now,” Owen grunted and Jack knew the sour doctor would obey for the next few days at least. “How long will he be out of it?” Owen asked turning his mind to practical matters.
“I don't know. He’s been unconscious since just before I called you.” Jack looked at his watch. “Twenty minutes? Half an hour perhaps.”
Owen crouched down and studied Ianto, fingers brushing at his neck and then gently lifting an eyelid. “More unconscious than sleeping and his heart’s a bit slower than it should be. He could be out for another hour or so. Can you carry him? How long until you can walk?”
Jack flexed his leg muscles with a wince. “My legs are tingling very unpleasantly.”
“Sounds like your nerves are fine then. It’ll get worse but it shouldn’t last more than another ten minutes,” Owen said unsympathetically. “I'll make sure the others are in comfortable positions and then we’ll see how you are and get the stretcher for alien boy if needed.”
“I wouldn't get into the habit of calling him that. Decaf will be the least of your problems,” Jack warned and Owen rolled his eyes. “The others?” Jack prompted. “And don’t forget the retcon,” Jack added and Owen pulled a small bottle from out of his backpack. “And you might need to check the Bay too. There’s a couple of boats that came rather close.”
Owen frowned and shot a look at Ianto. “I really want to hear those answers.”
“You and me both,” Jack muttered as Owen began to work his way through the unconscious people slipping the small pills under their tongues and placing them in recovery positions.
Jack sighed and tried to move his tingling legs.
“You'd better be worth all this trouble, Ianto Jones,” he said to the unconscious man.
The child who would one day become Ianto Jones began singing before he learnt to talk. In the way of Sirens, along with the nonsense syllables all children babbled he also began to hum. He was more precocious than most being able to string the meaningless syllables into rhythms that caused his mother no end of trouble when her crockery would dance along with her son's babblings.
As he learnt to talk, he often slipped into song and it had taken a lot of 'talkings to' and several rather hard beatings before he learnt some self-control over his voice. But it left him with a voice that was different to the rest of his kin. Soft and lilting, he always sounded as if there was a song hidden behind every word.
From the beginning it was drummed into him that never was he to use his voice against another person. He was taught to be careful with rhythms and rhymes. It was all too easy to become caught up in lyrical words and tones and the song would follow. Emotions and feelings were tempered always with the knowledge of their uncontrollability. It scared him sometimes how easily it was to get lost in a moment, to have the song take over his sensibilities and control and leave him breathless and shaken afterwards.
He was ten years old when his mother went away. No-one ever told him why so he made up stories and songs that he would whisper to his favourite toy when he was buried at the bottom of his bed under all his blankets. That stopped the night his father came in and found him. The resultant altercation left him with a broken leg and an intermittent buzzing in his left ear. His father hadn't been so lucky and he held back tears and apologies every time he saw his father's scarred face.
He was sent away to school soon after and his talent for singing didn’t translate into an ability to make friends. His first year was a lonely time without either family or friends and the second year wasn’t much better so he poured all his energies into his studies and he learnt. He learnt everything he could. He read through the academy libraries and his willingness to learn encouraged many of the professors to give him additional books and lessons. He took it all in and found that the more he learnt the more control he had to exert over his voice. The lilting tone he had developed in childhood became stronger and uniquely his.
And then one day soon after the start of his third year he disappeared.
He doesn't remember why or how he ended up on Earth but he does remember his first sight of Bryn Jones at Torchwood House where he suddenly appeared quite literally out of the blue. Bryn took him in and didn't tell anyone about the boy’s strange and sudden arrival. To Bryn the dark haired blue eyed skinny lad appeared as human as they came and so what if the boy could and did shatter glass with his crying. Bryn had seen worse.
He called the boy Ifan.
Bryn had retired from Torchwood active service several years ago and had accepted the curator's position at Torchwood House. He knew full well what would happen to the boy and to himself if Torchwood or UNIT or any of several other organisations learnt about Ifan.
So Bryn undertook to school him as best he could in this new world. He taught him English unintentionally giving him a Welsh accent which only deepened when he taught him Welsh as well. He reinforced the lad's earlier training and with careful testing, together they worked out ways in which he could safely hide his true nature.
Wisely or not he allowed Ifan access to the archives held there and over several years Ifan read his way through the entire collection. Bryn told himself it was for the boy's protection to understand what else was out there. He told himself it was good that Ifan understand the consequences if anyone found out that he wasn't human. He didn't expect the boy to want to apply for the annual intake at Torchwood One.
“But I can hide myself,” Ifan insisted against all of Bryn's objections. “It's a research position, in their archives. I won't be in any danger there.” He waved the internal memos at Bryn and Bryn could only blame himself for letting Ifan read them even as he refused.
It took Ifan three months to convince Bryn to allow him to go to London. And that was only after Bryn had constructed a complete background for his boy. Ifan became Ianto Jones the son of Bryn Jones with a (half) sister, Rhiannon, a not-too outstanding academic record, a minor police record and half a dozen casual jobs behind him. And then Bryn made Ifan work at those jobs and Ifan learnt more about human society in eight months than he had in eight years. Only then did Bryn let him go to London for the next year’s intake.
Within the first hour of entering Torchwood One Ianto Jones had to resort to humming to ensure his medical records did not mention his distinctly non-human genetic makeup. He was also grateful they hadn't scanned too deeply as his vocal chords were also markedly different. And he was more than grateful to learn that it was only on admittance did they require this full medical check and that unless he got injured he only needed to front up every three months for inoculations.
Torchwood One never discovered that Ianto Jones was not the twenty year old Welshman he claimed to be.
When Ianto Jones met Lisa Hallett over a trolley of files requiring archiving it was love at first sight for the young Siren.
Her eyes captivated him and her voice enthralled him. Her voice was music to him literally. Every word and sentence wrapped around him and had him aching to sing to her in return. But she was human and the songs that had joined his parents would kill her should he try. So he fell as deep in love as he could and he had never felt more human. If he ever wished for more he never said.
And then the ghosts came.
Ianto didn't like the ghost shifts. The grey shapeless figures made him feel queasy and they had no music in them. There was always a dissonance in the air just before they appeared that put his teeth on edge. Lisa dismissed his uneasiness but when he told Bryn the old man suggested that Ianto bring Lisa up for a holiday. “Just to be on the safe side,” he said.
But two days later the Cybermen came and the Daleks followed them. The dissonance in the air made it hard for him to concentrate as he tried to survive long enough to find Lisa. He avoided the Daleks only to be caught by the Cybermen. Later he would think that if he hadn't been caught he never would have found Lisa.
She was already strapped into a conversion unit and he was too far away. He couldn't make his voice heard above the noise of screaming metal and humans alike and the heavy stench of blood and death had him retching when he tried.
The surging wind that rushed through every room and corridor lifting Cybermen and Daleks and pulling them away sent an ebbing pulse of sound through his head. For a moment he thought he would be whisked away with the metal monsters but after several weak tugs at his clothes the invisible force disappeared and his head felt much clearer.
But the screaming continued. Men, women caught in their metal cradles screamed and struggled and their pain echoed through him. Lisa cried as he pulled her from the metal cage and he forced himself to stop long enough to sing until the screaming stopped.
Lisa almost died several times as he dragged her through the ruined Tower. He sang to keep her alive and finally he had to place her in a discarded conversion unit because singing was no longer enough. He sang to avoid the soldiers that had begun to appear as he manoeuvred the unwieldy machine to the basements. It took what felt like hours and he was terrified beyond all measure, but Lisa had to survive.
He had already hidden Lisa away when he ran into a patrol and they insisted on him going with them to the main triage where a UNIT medic tried to send him to hospital. As soon as the medic went to treat another patient – survivor – Ianto slipped away.
It was distressingly easy to steal a truck, easier still to sneak Lisa out of the building while the soldiers were moving upwards through the Tower. A chance overheard remark about Torchwood Three and suddenly he had a goal, a plan. He had a way out, a way to save Lisa and maybe himself as well.
He rang Bryn and the old man swore at him in his relief. He swore again when Ianto refused to come home and again when he told him he was going to Torchwood Three. They shouted at each other and Ianto hung up on him. He sat by Lisa and cried. Then he dried his tears and headed for Cardiff.
Ianto stared up at the ceiling and vaguely realised he was in the autopsy bay. The table was cold and hard under him and he wondered why he was alive. He knew the songs of ending but his throat was closed against tears and songs alike. There was a deep emptiness inside his chest and a pulsing ache in his head.
“You’re a long way from home, Ianto Jones.”
The words took a few moments to be understood and Ianto didn't know if he felt relieved or scared. He didn’t ask how the Captain knew. It was irrelevant to the aching hole in his heart.
“Ah,” he let his breath out. “You killed my home,” he murmured.
“And you brought a monster into mine,” the Captain said.
Ianto laughed, a harsh broken sound he choked on. “Who’s the bigger monster?” he asked. “Her? You? Me?” Tears burnt his eyes.
“It would have brought about the end of the world.”
“So can I,” Ianto pointed out with a precision he didn’t really feel.
“But you won’t.”
“I could do,” Ianto mused. There was a strange satisfaction to know that if he wanted to – if he felt deeply enough, if he sang loud enough, hard enough – he could make the Earth and all upon it Lisa’s pyre. The songs were there in his head within his reach.
“But you won’t,” the Captain repeated and Ianto deflated as the emptiness returned. His father with the scar Ianto had given him, his mother, his tutors, all the people he had known in London and Lisa… Lisa. He’d lost them all and singing the Earth to cinders would not bring them back. Nothing would ever bring them back. And Bryn would kill him if he tried. Tears pooled and he blinked to clear them away.
“What are you going to do?” he asked.
“I don’t know yet.”
“I’d rather you killed me than retcon me,” Ianto told the ceiling.
“We should talk first.”
“There’s nothing to say.”
“Your file is a lie. Your background is a lie. Everything I know about you is a lie. You accused us of not asking but if we had you would have lied to us. So, we are going to talk and then Owen will check you over, and then we are going to talk some more.”
“Owen?” Ianto was startled and he turned his head to look at the Captain for the first time.
“Yes, Owen.” The Captain was leaning against the tiled wall. Without his coat and with his shirt sleeves rolled up he looked rumpled but there was an edge to his expression that had Ianto unable to meet his gaze. “There were a dozen others caught up in your song. Owen’s up there making sure they’ll be fine.”
Ianto’s face twisted with remorse. “I didn’t realise anyone else was there. I was just… I’m sorry.”
“I know, and I know why you sang, but you can’t expect me to ignore it or you. If you are to remain here then you need to be honest with me.”
“Remain here?” Ianto breathed, uncertain he had heard correctly.
“Well, I’m fairly certain there’s no way you can return home. You wouldn’t be here if there was and we do need an archivist and Owen would hate it if I took his coffee-maker away. The girls would probably have some objections too.” The Captain shrugged before straightening up. “What you did was wrong for so many reasons but I do understand why you did it. Your song was very clear on that.”
Ianto’s eyes drifted back up to the ceiling and his head followed in a slow movement like an afterthought. He opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out and tears trickled down into his hair.
“That’s what I thought,” Jack said and Ianto heard him drag a chair over and settle next to the table. “So, Jones, Ianto Jones, let’s start at the beginning…”
Continued in Counterpoint