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Back in November, I posted a partial draft of an Ianto-centric post-Cyberwoman fic as an installment of "Is this Anything?"  Today, I finished it!  Yeah, I don't know, either.  I read a couple fics, watched a couple of episodes that were knocking around on the oldTivo, and banged this puppy out.

I'm posting again from the top; about the last half is the new stuff.  Here's the blueprint:

Title:  Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Rating:  R-ish for language and themes.

Summary:  Obligatory post-Cyberwoman Janto.  My attempt to answer the question of "How did Ianto get from calling Jack a monster in "Cyberwoman" to suggesting sex games in "They Keep Killing Suzie"?"  Because what the fandom really needs is more of those.  Anyway, here's my take. 


A week into Ianto’s suspension, Jack goes to his place, unsure what he’ll find.  A body in the bathtub and a sad little note seems well within the realm of possibility--and if that’s it, he’ll be glad he got there before the neighbors noticed the smell. 

He knocks, and waits.  He’s about to start picking the lock when the door finally opens.  Ianto--wearing ridiculous striped pyjamas, even though it’s the middle of the day--blinks at him slowly for a few seconds before silently retreating into the house.  He doesn’t ask Jack in, but he doesn’t shut the door in his face, either. 

Jack follows him into the living room--the lounge, he’d probably call it--where Ianto has made himself a squalid little misery-nest on the sofa, with a throw blanket and a bed pillow, some barely-touched plates of food on the coffee table, and lots of tissues. 

Uninvited, Jack sits down on the edge of an armchair.  Very slowly, Ianto picks up a remote control and turns down the volume on the TV.

For several minutes, Ianto stares blankly at the TV screen--it’s a news programme, but Jack somehow doubts he’s been watching it; he probably just has it on for the noise.  Jack waits. 

Finally Ianto says, “Have you come to kill me?”  His eyes don’t move from the TV screen, and Jack can’t tell if he hopes Jack has, or if he doesn’t care. 

“No.”  Jack isn’t sure, honestly, if he still has a place for Ianto.  And Torchwood only has two severance packages--Retcon or a body bag.  But killing a member of his team is just…wrong.  He knows that Torchwood has a long and undistinguished history of executing troublesome employees, but under his leadership, that’s one thing that’s going to change. 

“I’d prefer it,” Ianto says, tonelessly.  “I met her at work, you see.”  There’s finally some feeling in his voice now, but it’s a sort of self-mocking edge.  As if Ianto feels he has to make a joke out of his own deepest feelings. 

Jack waits, again, to see if Ianto has more to say. 

He doesn’t.  But, looking at the scene in front of him, Jack can’t convince himself that Ianto really wants to die.  For one thing, he’s had seven days to kill himself, and he hasn’t done it. 

For another, he’s been trying--not succeeding, but trying--to eat.  To keep his strength up.  It doesn’t look like he’s done much with the last few days other than stare at the television and cry, but then, he’s been waiting for Jack to come and kill him, or erase his memory of almost his entire adult life.  Not really a surprise, then, that he hasn’t started any DIY projects.

He thinks about the day after.  Ianto had come back into work and quietly gone about his job, with no trace of blood and tears, until Jack sent him home.  Jack wasn’t sure what that was--devotion, desperation, or sheer brass balls. 

Either way, Jack had kind of admired it.  “What about keeping your job?” 

Ianto’s jaw twitches--the first hint of any emotional reaction to anything Jack’s said.  “Is that an option?”

“I don’t know.”  He wants it to be.  After Suzie, he’d been shaken to realize that someone he saw every day had been carrying on something so terrible, right under his nose.  He’d vowed to be more careful, to pay more attention to how his employees were doing.  To notice any danger signs, changes in personality--and, more importantly, to follow up on them.  But he hadn’t noticed a thing--he’d thought that impassive and nearly invisible was just Ianto’s natural personality.  He should have known better.  Nobody was that blank for no reason--even the very best butlers, back in the days when “butler” was the pinnacle of a life in service rather than a half-understood joke, had let the mask slip.  Tickled housemaids in the kitchen, if nothing else. 

If he’d taken the time to wonder what was wrong, maybe the whole tragic scenario would have ended better--Lisa would still have had to die, but Tanizaki and the pizza girl wouldn’t have, and Ianto could have said goodbye.  He knows where the blame rightly belongs--first on the Cybermen themselves, and then Ianto, but there’s a little left over for him, too. 

“Whose decision is it, then?”

“Mine,” Jack admits.  “I just--don’t know.”  Part of him hopes Ianto will make a case for himself--that he’d demonstrate some enthusiasm for continuing his life. 

But Ianto just says, after a long moment, “I suppose.  If you decide you’ll have me.” 

#

The second time, Ianto opens the door after only two and a half minutes’ delay, and he’s dressed, in jeans and a wool sweater.  The misery nest looks much the same, but the absence of both mold and a greater accumulation of tissues and dirty dishes lets Jack deduce that he’s cleaned up at least once. 

He’d hoped that giving Ianto some hope of a future would have more dramatic effects, but at least he doesn’t seem any worse. 

He sits, and Ianto turns down the television.  But he doesn’t speak.  Still makes no attempt to plead his case, or to justify himself, or even to apologize.  Finally, Jack prompts him, “Why did you do it?”

Ianto seems to take a long time to gather his thoughts, but then says only, “Does it matter?”

And at that, Jack’s had enough of Ianto’s passivity.  “Yes!  For God’s sake, Ianto, I’m looking for a reason not to kill you!  The least you can do is act like you care.”

Ianto looks at him, meeting his eyes for the first time.  “I don’t.…”  He trails off.  After a moment, he takes a deep breath and answers the question.  “I couldn’t bear to lose her.  I thought--I thought she was still her.  I couldn’t abandon her to--to certain death, just because she was…ill.” 

Jack realizes that he’s hearing the story Ianto had told himself, to make it seem all right that he was hiding a Cyberman--cyber woman, whatever--in the basement.  But they’re way past the time for comforting stories.  “She wasn’t ill.” 

“I thought she was.”  He speaks softly, almost inaudibly--but he’s responding to the pressure Jack’s putting on him by pushing back, which is at least better than blank passivity.  Hell, Jack’s almost proud of him.  “I thought there was a chance she might get better, and even if not--she was still there.”  Ianto’s crying quietly now, tears running down his face.  “She was,” he insists.  “It--it changed her, it made her wrong.  But she wasn’t--she wasn’t completely gone.” 

“Converted Cybermen still remember who they were when they were people,” Jack admits.  “But they’re not, and it’s not reversible.  It isn’t like no one ever tried.” 

“I didn’t--I didn’t know that when I started.  I just saw--I saw the cleanup team--”  Ianto was still crying, and his face contorted in what looked like agony. 

It probably was.  “You loved her.” 

“Yes,” Ianto said, as if that was obvious. 

“Two people died.  It could have been more.  It could have been all of us, and if she had escaped from the Hub, it could have been everyone.  The entire world.”  He has to say it, because it’s an important point, and he isn’t sure that Ianto hasn’t forgotten it, in the face of his private sorrow.  Ianto had gotten through the months since Canary Wharf, had kept on doing his job, eating his meals, functioning, by telling himself a story, Jack thinks.  A story where Lisa was ill, and Ianto took care of her, kept hoping she’d get better.  The only characters in that story had been Ianto and Lisa, and he wasn’t thinking about anyone else, beyond making sure they didn’t find out. 

Ianto drops his chin to his chest and makes an abortive movement with his hands, as if he wants to cover his face with his hands.   But he doesn’t cover his face, and Jack doesn’t know what that’s about, except that Ianto is broken, somehow.  Like he thinks he doesn’t even deserve shame.

And as much as he needs to face the consequences of his actions, Ianto also needs a new story--one that takes the facts and turns them into some kind of sense.  That makes what he did a terrible, terrible mistake, but not one that meant he didn’t deserve to live.  “But,” Jack continues, “you did it because you didn’t want to lose someone you loved.  There are worse things.”  At least Ianto hadn’t been trying to take over the world, which had been his first thought when he saw the Cyberwoman. 

Ianto looks up.  “Are there?”

“Absolutely.”  He’s surprised Ianto has to ask--but maybe he’s sunk so deep in his misery he isn’t thinking straight.  He smiles in a way that he hopes is reassuring rather than flirtatious--even he knows that there’s a time and a place--and says, “So, I think I can forgive you.” 

Ianto’s eyes widen, as being forgiven was something he hadn’t even dared to hope for. 

“But no more secrets,” Jack adds.  “Can we agree on that?” 

And even though Ianto has to know that no secrets means more than just words--this is Torchwood--he doesn’t ask what Jack has in mind.  He just straightens himself up and says, “Yes.” 

#

Before Ianto comes back to work, Jack takes each of the others aside, and tells them the story.  There are worse things. 

“Annie Bennett had people who loved her, too,” Gwen points out. 

“He feels bad enough already,” Jack says, because he knows she could put together a dossier illustrating just that fact at the drop of a hat, and he doesn’t want Ianto finding it on his desk when he gets back.

Tosh just says, “It must have been very hard for him.” 

“Yes.  It was.” 

He doesn’t get out more than, “Ianto will be back at work Monday--”

Before Owen snorts and says, “Why?”

On his first day back, Ianto’s wary, as if he expects the others to smack him when he’s not looking. 

Which makes what Jack has to do even worse than it has to be.  At the end of the day, when everyone else is putting on their coats and picking up their bags, he tells Ianto, “I’ll need to see you in my office.” 

Ianto just says, “Yes, sir.”  And for the first time that day, he doesn’t seem afraid. 

Jack gets him settled in a comfortable chair, tells him to loosen his tie.  Ianto doesn’t ask any questions. 

Still, when Jack hands him the pills, he says, “It’s not Retcon.”  Which is a lie--Recon is part of the mixture.  He know Ianto will hate this, and the only way to give him even a little dignity is to make sure he doesn’t remember it. 

Ianto swallows the pills.  

“It’ll take a few minutes,” Jack tells him, and sits down to pretend to do paperwork while they wait. 

He knows the drugs have taken hold when Ianto speaks.  “I wondered why the others didn’t say anything,” he says, his voice slurring slightly. 

Jack caps his pen and says, “I asked them to be as sympathetic as possible.” 

“Thank you.”  Ianto is struggling to hold his head up.  Oh, yes, he’s going to hate this. 

Jack steps behind him and puts his hand under Ianto’s jaw, guiding him to rest his head against the back of the chair.  “It’s all right.” 

Ianto laughs humorlessly.  “It’s not.”  Before Jack can respond, he says, “It’s bad enough you’re killing me, you don’t have to lie to me.”

Jack’s speechless for a moment, and when he finds his voice, he realizes his knees have gone out from under him and he’s holding on to Ianto’s shoulders to keep himself upright.  “I’m not killing you.  I’m interrogating you.”  Ianto had come up here and taken his medicine, meek as a lamb, thinking that Jack was executing him?

That’s beautifully, agonizingly fucked up.  And--unfortunately--Jack knows he really isn’t afraid.  By now, the DubCon will have stripped down all his barriers, and if Ianto were afraid, he’d be showing it. 

“Are you going to hit me?” Ianto asks curiously.  “I don’t like being hit.  It hurts.”

“It’s not that kind of interrogation,” Jack reassures him.  “We’re just going to talk.” 

“That won’t hurt,” Ianto says, his tone making it half a question. 

“No,” Jack agrees.  He finds himself reluctant to get started.  Ianto is a deeply private person, and Jack’s nearly sure that’s true even when he isn’t hiding a girlfriend in the basement.  If he’d known that Jack was planning a couple of hours rummaging around in his head,  rather than a quick execution, he probably would have kicked up a fuss.  But putting it off isn’t going to make it any better--and at least Ianto won’t be embarrassed tomorrow, since he won’t know what happened.  He pulls up a chair in front of Ianto and begins,  “How did you get her out of Torchwood One?”

Ianto smiles slowly.  “I almost didn’t.  I thought, you’re just a temp, what could she possibly want with you?  But I asked her--I was embarrassed, thought if she knew I was interested she’d laugh in my face.  So I said I had some questions about the computer system, and could we talk about it over lunch?  She told me later she knew it was bullshit, but she thought I was cute, so she said yes anyway.” 

Jack realizes right away that Ianto misunderstood the question, but he lets him ramble on for a while, talking about that lunch and the ones that had come after it.  “Our first proper date, she asked.  I was still too afraid, and then I thought it might have been too long, and we were only work friends.  But then she asked me--later on she said she’d given up on waiting for me to ask.  Beautiful girls are used to blokes being shy of them.  I never thought of that.  She said all through high school she’d never gone on dates, until she went to Uni and started going after the boys she fancied.” 

By the time Ianto has finished telling him all about the date--an aborted attempt at seeing a movie that turned out to be sold out, followed by dinner at a noodle shop and a walk in the park holding hands, all ending with a kiss at the door (Ianto’s; Lisa was driving)--Ianto is smiling dreamily, the memory of what was in store for him and Lisa having slipped away on a DubCon haze.  Jack sort of wants to gut himself, because he remembers--and if Ianto doesn’t trip over it in his meanderings soon, he’s going to have to bring it up. 

And a happy Ianto is such a rare sight that Jack doesn’t want to spoil it, even if Ianto won’t remember in the morning--either that he’d been happy, or that Jack had ruined it.  So he lets Ianto wander through the highlight reel of his and Lisa’s relationship--meeting her parents, the first time they made love, anniversaries, a camping trip. 

“--so cold we spent the night in one sleeping bag.  When we woke up a stray dog was--”  In mid-reminiscence, Ianto gasps, drawing in a ragged, painful breath like he’d just had the wind knocked out of him.  “Oh God, she’s dead!  She killed that poor girl, and now she’s gone!”  He lurches forward--probably trying to put his head in his hands, but voluntary muscle control is one of the first things to go under DubCon.  Jack catches him, and finds himself--without any real idea of how it happened--holding Ianto while he weeps against Jack’s chest. 

There’s nothing he can say that isn’t a ridiculous lie--he can’t say “it’s all right,” because it isn’t, or “I’ll take care of you,” because he won’t.  And Ianto’s already said he doesn’t want to be lied to.  So Jack rubs his back and murmurs nonsense in 51st-century English, a language Ianto won’t understand more than an odd word or two of, even if he were paying attention and not drugged up to his ear-holes.  Still, he sticks to reciting song lyrics and advertising jingles, and avoids comforting lies. 

Ianto can’t get himself under control--the drugs have stripped him of all self-control.  But after a while--long after Jack gets a cramp in his lower back--he wears himself out and goes quiet.  Jack settles him back in the chair and stretches. 

If it weren’t for the RetCon--and the fact that Ianto has only in the loosest possible sense consented to this activity--this might almost be good for him.  Ianto’s probably expressed more honest emotion in the past hour than he ordinarily does in a week.  In the future, there will be therapists who use this drug. 

But Jack’s not a therapist, and if he was doing this for Ianto’s own good, he’d stop now, and let him sleep off the rest of the dose. 

Instead, he wakes him up. 

This time, he makes the question as specific as possible. “After the Cybermen were stopped, and Lisa was partially converted, how did you get her out of Torchwood One?”

Ianto’s eyes go wide.  “They were killing them.  The people trapped in the machines.  Going down the row, shooting them.  I knew she had only been a few places ahead of me in line.” 

Somehow, Jack had managed not to think of that before--that Ianto had been only minutes away from being converted himself. 

“So I ran ahead, checking all of the machines.  It was--chaos.  Pandemonium.  When I took her out of the machine, I just acted like I was meant to be doing it, and nobody took any notice.”  Ianto pauses a moment, and notes, “Nobody notices me.” 

Jack nods.  “What happened next?”

“I hid her in a room nearby and went to find some anesthetic.  Nobody would notice her screaming--there were a lot of people screaming--but she was in so much pain.  I had to stop her hurting.  But then when I got back, she was having trouble breathing.   Her heartbeat was erratic.  I knew I had to get her onto a life support machine, and the only thing like that available was the cyber conversion unit.”

Ianto goes on to explain how he’d stolen a Torchwood panel truck and kept Lisa in it, moving her around from one inconspicuous location to another for weeks, until he’d managed to get the job at Torchwood Three and had a permanent place to put her. 

It’s hard not to be impressed with skills, technical and otherwise.  He’d managed to outwit a top secret organization full of people paid to be suspicious.  On top of that, he’d taught himself a great deal about cybernetics in general and the Cyberman conversion process in particular, retrofitting the conversion unit into a life support machine.  Clearly, Ianto has hidden depths. 

So far, Ianto hasn’t mentioned anyone helping him--Jack’s main reason for asking about Torchwood One.  He can’t be protecting a co-conspirator, but just in case there was someone he hasn’t thought to mention, Jack asks. 

Ianto’s been very matter-of-fact about explaining exactly how he got Lisa out of Torchwood, but here he grimaces and starts to cry again.  “No--no, there’s no one.  No one we could trust.  Even Doctor Tanizaki, he only wanted to study her.”

Jack wonders if Tanizaki had tried to break Ianto out of his sad delusion that Lisa was still alive, or if he had just humored him in order to gain access to such an exciting test subject.  The more he read of Tanizaki’s work, the less he felt Ianto was to blame for the man’s death.  Ianto at least had good reasons for keeping Lisa’s existence a secret--his enormous emotional investment had blinded him to the risks she posed to the world.  Tanizaki, on the other hand, had been in an ideal position to realize exactly how dangerous she was, yet when he found out that there was a partially converted Cyberwoman housed in a major urban area, he hadn’t chosen to share this information with anyone.  “Right,” he says.  “Let’s talk about Doctor Tanizaki.” 

Ianto, it turns out, doesn’t know anything about Tanizaki that isn’t in Torchwood files, or files Torchwood is able to access.  The same things Jack already knows, since he read the files himself.  In fact, a lot of what’s in Torchwood’s files, Ianto put there himself, after finding it in other government databases.  Careful questioning proves to Jack’s satisfaction that the only thing he had left out was that Tanizaki had agreed to come examine Lisa. 

“The way he touched her, she wouldn’t like that,” Ianto adds.  “I didn’t like it.  But I couldn’t tell him off, because I needed him.  She thought he helped her.  She said she upgraded him to thank him for helping her.  But I don’t think he wanted to help her--I think he, I think he admires them.  That he wanted to make more.  Sometimes I wonder if he asked her to upgrade him, and I’m glad he’s dead.”  He stops abruptly, and Jack wonders if the DubCon is wearing off, if Ianto is starting to get some control over what he’s saying.  But the next thing he says is, “Sir, I think I need the toilet.”

#

Ianto doesn’t move, but somehow Jack knows he’s awake.  There’s something different about his stillness, compared to a moment ago.  He finishes the sentence he’s writing, then asks, “Did you sleep well?” 

They’re still in Jack’s office--when Ianto fell asleep, not long after their arduous trek to the men’s room, Jack had decided that bringing the camp bed to him was more practical than taking him to it.  Jack had a lot of experience toting colleagues home from bars where they’d drunk themselves legless, and this wasn’t much different, but faced with a ladder, even he had to admit defeat. 

“Yes.”  Ianto sits up, swinging his legs over the side of the camp bed.  Jack had taken him out of his shoes, jacket, necktie, and watch, but left the rest of his clothes on.  The situation is touchy enough as it is without adding 21st-century nudity taboos into the mix.  “Do I get to know what you did to me?”

“We just talked.”

Ianto looks at him pointedly. 

Jack sighs.  “After I gave you a truth serum.  Well, truth tablet, actually.” 

Ianto’s expression goes blank--blanker than usual--for a moment, then he nods.  “What time is it?”

“About six.  You have time to run home and change before the others get here, if you want to,” he adds.

He probably doesn’t have time to do that and have a fresh pot of coffee ready when the rest of the team arrives, but they’d been doing without that for the last month; one more day won’t hurt them. 

“Yes, sir,” Ianto says blandly, gathering up his coat and tie, and shoving his feet into his untied shoes before heading down the stairs.

A few minutes later, Jack leaves his office to get something he’d left down on the main floor, and finds Ianto tidying up, fully dressed in a different suit than the one he’d worn yesterday.

Of course, he must keep spares somewhere.  That only makes sense, considering the kind of messes the rest of them bring home. 

#

Over the next day, Ianto’s wariness disappears, and he’s back to normal--well.  Back to invisible.  Keeping an eye on him on the CCTV monitor, Jack catches Owen needling him.  There’s no audio, but Owen’s body language is unmistakable.  Ianto blinks very slowly, turns on his heel, and walks away, with Owen shouting after him. 

Jack isn’t sure whether that’s a good sign, or not.  Ianto didn’t fight back, but at least he doesn’t feel that he has to take whatever abuse Owen feels like dishing out.  He considers saying something to Owen, but--no.  He wants to take more of an interest in his team’s psychological well-being, but he isn’t a recess monitor. 

Still, the next time he sees Ianto in person, he asks, “Is everything all right?”

Which is a stupid question, since there are a number of things obviously not right.  For one thing, the woman Ianto loved died--from his, slightly warped, perspective--less than a month ago.  But Ianto just says, “Yes, sir.”

“Any of the others giving you a hard time?” Jack presses.

“It’s fine, sir.  If you’ll excuse me.”  He holds up the files he’s carrying and brushes past Jack. 

#

Then the fairies come, and Estelle dies.  Jack can’t really say he’s lost her--he lost her decades ago, when he allowed her to believe that he died in the trenches.  But now she’s dead, only moments after realizing that the gentle, benevolent fairies she’d spent her life believing in had never existed.  He wonders how she would have coped with the knowledge if she had lived. 

He lets the fairies take a little girl--Jasmine--because he knows there’s no choice.   The others are appalled, but the others still think that its their job to save people.  It’s not.  It’s their job to protect the world, and sometimes that means people have to be sacrificed.  Even little girls in flowered dresses. 

Ianto’s the only one that doesn’t look at him like he’s a monster.  Jack doesn’t know if that’s because he understands, or because he already thought Jack was a monster and isn’t surprised.  He doesn’t ask.  Ianto wouldn’t tell him, anyway. 

#

It’s been a quiet day, and once again, the team are packing their things to leave.  “Rhys will be glad I‘m home on time today,” Gwen is saying to Owen and Tosh.  “All week, I’ve been getting home to find my dinner gone mushy in the oven, after he’s worked so hard on it.”

It probably doesn’t occur to her that if she’s hoping they’ll sympathize with her over long-suffering partners and spoiled dinners, she’s shopping at the wrong store.  For better or for worse, Tosh and Owen have married Torchwood.  He doesn’t think they particularly regret their choice, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily like having their noses rubbed in the road not taken.   Gwen’s so resolutely normal that in a place like Torchwood, she’s the odd one out. 

“Ianto.”  Jack pages him in the tourist office.  “Come down here, after you close up shop.”

There’s a moment’s hesitation before Ianto says, “Yes, sir,” and Jack knows, somehow, that Ianto knows what’s coming.  There’s no reason he should--it’s not unprecedented for Jack to ask him to stay back to work on projects in the quiet--but somehow, Ianto knows that tonight Jack’s going digging through his head again. 

It probably wouldn’t be much consolation if he knew Jack isn’t looking forward to it, either.  But Ianto’s behavior doesn’t give him the slightest hint of how the man’s holding up.  He could be coping just fine, under the circumstances, or one step away from dropping cyanide capsules in the coffee.  The latter seems unlikely, but then, cyber-converted girlfriend in the basement would have seemed unlikely, too. 

Ianto comes in as the others are leaving.  “Sir.”  He glances toward the stairs to Jack’s office. 

“Have a seat on the couch.  I think that’ll be easier.”  If Ianto decides he has to pee again, at least Jack won’t have to wrestle him down the stairs.  That’s not the kind of wrestling Jack likes, especially when it would be unethical to even cop a feel.  And he won’t be sleeping in Jack’s office afterward.

By the time Jack gets to the couch with the pills and a glass of water, Ianto has his jacket and tie off, folded neatly over the arm of the sofa, and his shoes lined up next to his feet on the floor.  “Good thinking,” Jack says, handing him the water and the pills.  “I’m not killing you this time, either,” he adds, even though he’s fairly sure Ianto already knows that.

“Sir?”

“Never mind.”  Maybe Ianto doesn’t remember that part of their last session.  He pulls up a chair and waits for the drugs to take effect. 

After a few minutes, Ianto’s head lolls back and his hands, neatly placed on his knees, splay to the sides.  “I’ve been wondering.  Since last time.  If I….”

That’s interesting.  He’s talking, even though he’s still enough in control to edit himself.  “What?”

“Embarrassed myself,” Ianto finishes. 

The question is so thoroughly Ianto that Jack smiles.  “No.  No, you were fine.”  He waits to see if Ianto has a follow-up question, but apparently not. 

Jack almost wishes he did, since he hasn‘t been able to think up a good way to start.  Are you minutes away from snapping in a bizarre and violent fashion? somehow lacks finesse.  Finally he says, “How have you been, the last few weeks?”

“I haven’t killed myself yet,” Ianto answers. 

Jack takes a breath and lets it out slowly. “Good,” he says encouragingly. 

“Every morning I tell myself, if it still feels this bad tomorrow, I’ll kill myself.  And then I don’t.  Even though it feels just as bad.”  Ianto pauses for a moment, and says thoughtfully, “I don’t know how I’d do it.  Pills, I suppose.  Would be in character.  If I shoot myself, someone will have to clean up after me.  But perhaps I want that.”

He keeps going, talking about different ways he could kill himself, and Jack can’t think of a way to make him stop, doesn’t know if he should.  Jack’s reminded of the Dorothy Parker poem--guns aren’t lawful, nooses give--except Ianto seems to find something appealing in each of his options. 

Remembering the purpose of this exercise, Jack notes that nothing Ianto’s saying even hints at harm to others.  If he snaps, it’ll be violence turned inward.

That doesn’t mean Jack has any less responsibility to prevent it. 

Ianto finally winds down, saying, “But killing myself just seems like so much bloody work.  Is it possible to be too depressed to kill yourself, I wonder?”

Jack ignores the question--it doesn’t sound like Ianto’s really asking him, anyway.  Instead, he leans forward and takes one of Ianto’s slack hands in his own.  “What can we do?  How can we help?”

Ianto struggles to pick his head up.  “You can’t.” 

It’s at that moment that the cog door rolls open, and Owen steps through.  He goes to his workstation and pockets something.  Turning to leave, he catches sight of Jack and Ianto, takes a step toward them.  “Keep walking,” Jack tells him, using his I’m the captain and that’s an order voice without thinking about it.  Owen hesitates, then nods and scurries out the door. 

When Jack turns back to him, Ianto’s giggling.  Yes, giggling.  High-pitched, manic, and helpless.  He tries several times to say something, and finally wheezes it out between giggles.  “Now he’s--”  Gasp “--never going to believe--”  Gasp  “--you’re not--”  Gasp.  Fucking me.” 

“Sorry,” Jack says, dropping his hand.  “I’ll--say something to him.”
Ianto rolls his head forward enough to give Jack a look.  “Like what?”

He has a point.  There isn’t much Jack can say that isn’t going to sound like he’s protesting too much. 

Ianto’s giggles are winding down.  Jack wonders if hysterical laughter is any better than hysterical sobbing.  Probably not.  Much, anyway.   He digs out the scrap of paper where he’d jotted down a few things he hadn’t thought to ask about last time.  “All right.  I’m surprised the frequent failure of the CCTV system didn’t raise any red flags with Tosh.  How did you manage that?”  He doubts there was RetCon or any other form of mind control involved, but he has to be thorough.

“Oh, that was simple.  I arranged for various of the cameras to fail in the same way, and told her I’d fix them.  She was happy to let me.  She had plenty of more interesting work to keep her occupied.”  Ianto thought for a moment.  “I fixed the other ones properly, of course,” he adds, and begins a meandering explanation of exactly which components he’d engineered to fail.  He’d chosen something that was fiddly to replace, but not difficult, and had taken advantage of a supply-chain breakdown at the plant that manufactured the cameras.  Apparently, at one point Tosh had even agreed that, given the shortage of replacement components, fixing the cameras that served the disused storage area where Lisa lived wasn’t a priority. 

Which, of course, it wouldn’t be.  Once again, Jack finds himself trying not to admire how smoothly the deception was played out.  In his con-man days, he’d have thought Ianto was a walking wet dream.  While Ianto rambled, Jack took a moment to think about how the old Jack would have reeled him in--first with promises, then--if Ianto wasn’t taken in by the promises--with threats of turning him in to the authorities.  Finally, Jack would tie him to him with sex, knowing that after an experience like Ianto had had, he’d be able to rationalize anything to himself to avoid betraying another lover. 

He pulls himself back to the present.  Ianto’s started to sound a bit proud of himself for outsmarting Torchwood.  It’s a reasonable, if slightly unappealing, way for Ianto to feel--they had all underestimated him, and even if he’d, to a certain extent, wanted them to, that still had to sting. 

And Jack doesn’t even have to ask his next few questions, because Ianto moves on from the cameras to how he’d managed to give the impression that he’d left when he hadn’t.  “It wasn’t much of a trick, since for all the rest of them cared, I might as well have lived here.  But even if they had been looking, they wouldn’t have noticed,” he adds, with a mixture of pride and bitterness. 

#

Much later, Jack looks down from his office at the sofa.  Ianto’s asleep--Jack can tell he’s in natural sleep now, not drugged unconscious, because he’s turned onto his side and curled one hand against his cheek.  He looks impossibly young. 


On to part 2

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
joya_oscura
Oct. 18th, 2012 01:28 pm (UTC)
In regards to the following: Ianto finally winds down, saying, “But killing myself just seems like so much bloody work. Is it possible to be too depressed to kill yourself, I wonder?”
To answer Ianto's question - yes, it is possible to be so depressed that the depressed person can not summon the energy to kill themselves. If I remember my psychology teacher correctly, if people that have reached that level of depression are given anti-depression medication, they will kill themselves. One would assume that the meds did nothing to help. In actuality, the meds did help - before, the person had no energy to kill themselves; after starting the drug regime, they now had enough energy to complete the task.

Sorry for the rambling, but that was the first thing to pop into my head when I read that passage.

As for the rest of the fic thus far, a very interesting premise. The drug was well named. Now to read part 2.
badly_knitted
Dec. 13th, 2014 10:02 pm (UTC)
Great first half, I'm really enjoying it. I feel for Ianto, but I admire him to for never giving up and for finding ways to deal with each problem he encountered. That kind of ingenuity is something Torchwood can use.

As much as I love fics where Ianto is understanding after Jack has to 'sacrifice' Jasmine to the faeries, it's refreshing to read a fic where he doesn't. I also like the point you make about the rest of the team thinking their job is to save people when it's really to protect the world. Jack understands that sacrifices sometimes have to be made. The others will learn eventually.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )