Pairings/Characters: Ianto, Jack
Spoilers/Warnings: Spoilers for Cyberwoman
Summary: Ianto and Jack react to the events of Cyberwoman. Ianto is a universe of hurt.
Author's Note: Written for my "consequences" square of angst_bingo. Finally I've written a proper post-Cyberwoman fic! It's like a Torchwood coming of age thing.
The physical destruction is quantifiable, at least. Jack can count the bodies, the machines, the amount of money it will take to get everything repaired. Jack can count the number of times Ianto’s hand clenches and unclenches around that of his dead girlfriend. He can’t understand much else.
Jack takes the pizza girl’s body away, sliding it into a drawer for Owen tomorrow. The I.D. in her wallet says her name was Annie Price. He writes it on a clipboard and places it on Owen’s desk. When he turns back to face the main Hub, he is startled again by the destruction, wet and dark and bloody, strewn about the cavernous place. Closing his eyes, he takes a long, shaking breath and wiggles his toes and fingers, trying to find familiar sensation, to ground himself.
The corridors are blue-dark and clammy as he walks through them, back down to the hellish room where this all began. His torchlight bounces and wavers across the bricks like an impish phosphorescent creature, but the golden-white glow is hardly reassuring.
Ianto utters only a wordless cry of desolation and anguish when Jack picks up Lisa’s body. His hand is still gripped around her lifeless one, and he drags along for a few feet as Jack moves back and away. Then his mouth and eyes open wide, gaping, bulging, wetting his already damp face as he realizes all that he has done and all that he has lost. He slumps, going limp and falling face first onto the cement floor as he lets her death-stiff fingers go. Jack turns away, walking towards the door. He flinches but doesn’t turn back when a broken sob echoes through the chamber.
The Cyberman—Jack refuses to think of it as anything more—is heavy in his arms and Jack is panting when he gets upstairs. The twisted, metal-clad corpse goes onto another gurney and into a drawer. Jack knows its name was Lisa, that was all Ianto had said about her. It’s all he can bear to write on the form right now. Another breath, another moment to try to collect himself, to try to pull the bits of fear and anger and betrayal and absolute utter sorrow from the corners and shadows of the Hub and put them back together and shove them away.
He goes up to the grotto at the top of the Hub and peers into the dark. The pterodactyl is a large brown lump in the shadows. He coaxes her out with a chocolate and looks her over as she eats. She’s bruised; her head is cut from the Cyberman’s metal knuckles. One clawed talon looks broken. He tends to her cuts and resets the bone, which earns him a pained squawk and nothing more; the creature is too tired and hurting to react properly. She retreats into her cave. Jack turns away to look across the hub. He can see the destruction even more clearly from up high. It’s not as bad as he thought it was, but the darkness in the Hub presses down on it and spreads it, pooling and seeping the blood and dirt.
Jack thinks of the bodies on bodies that have moved about the space and died and been brought back to this place to stay and corpses that are lined lifelessly about the walls in the lower level like hidden butterflies. He shudders for a moment, then stops and looks up with terrible realization.
Ianto couldn’t have restored a Cyberman by himself. He is clever with machines, but not that clever. And the Cyberman couldn’t have been stupid enough to tell him how to do it and arouse his suspicions. It takes him less than a minute to bound down the stairs and boot up Owen’s computer to check CCTV. He watches Ianto greet an Asian man at the cog door and take his case. He doesn’t see the man leave.
Jack has lived in this base for nearly a hundred years. He is comfortable with every stone, every hall, every pipe. But tonight the corridors are terrifying. He jumps at every sound, his torch flickering and guttering slightly as its light glances off the walls. His foot scrapes wetly against the ground. He looks down. A browning trail of watery blood slides and skids across the floor. Jack follows it to an empty hall of cells. The blood trail stops at a hastily concealed lump beneath a tarp. Jack’s stomach knots painfully, and he tells himself it’s from the sour smell of blood.
He pulls back the green canvas tarp and can’t help his scramble to the other side of the tiny cell, or the sharp intake of breath to mask a cry of surprise and horror. He stares at the body, morbidly transfixed by the broken face, by the thick iron shoved deep into the tender body, by the twisted shabby attempt at a Cyberman with the last desperate efforts of a corrupted, dying mind. Then he breaks out of his reverie and retches, leaning his shoulder against the grime-streaked wall as he heaves fruitlessly.
Jack crawls out of the cell and breathes. Then he goes back up to get a gurney. The return journey is a pit of dread in his stomach. The metal clangs loudly as he opens the gurney and echoes the sounds of heavy metal footsteps. He flinches, holds back an automatic convulsing of his throat, and heads back down into the dank. The body lolls limply on the slab, the eye staring accusingly up at him, the dark hole through the metal where another used to be threatens to swallow him. His own choked gagging sounds follow him up through the stone tunnels. He doesn’t bother with paperwork this time.
Ianto is a pathetic, crumpled heap curled in the centre of the shadowed room, heedless of the trickle of blood-tinged water that slides by underneath him and soaks his shirt and jacket. Jack might’ve thought he was asleep but for the tremors he can see wracking the young man’s body, the mouth working silently as if praying to some deaf and nameless god.
“Ianto.” Jack’s voice is sharp and loud in the silence. Ianto doesn’t respond. Jack shakes his shoulder and lugs him upright into a kneeling position. “Ianto, look at me.”
Ianto’s eyes rise to his face as commanded, but his blank gaze holds no recognition. Galaxies of pain and devastation twist and orbit in his irises. The blue light of the conversion unit reflects the salt tracks on his face. Jack is watching Ianto collapse under his self-gravity. His lips are still barely moving, repeating something. Jack holds his breath as if that could help him hear. It’s hardly a wisp of air, but it breaks Jack’s heart at its shattered sound.
“Why? Why? Why?”
Jack wants to gather the young man in his arms just as much as he wants to kill him. He settles for gripping Ianto’s chin and looking into the agony of the Universe. It’s as black and fathomless as the sky and Jack thinks he could fall through it.
“There’s nothing that could be done, Ianto.” His voice sounds harsh, and Jack finds that he’s still angry. He turns Ianto’s face, still gripped in his thumb and forefinger, towards the bloodied floor and conversion unit. “This happened because you brought a Cyberman into my base. I’ve already cleaned up the bodies. You clean up the rest.”
Ianto’s nod is almost imperceptible. Jack shoves him away before his own pain can start orbiting Ianto’s and goes to his office. Tosh, shaking and tired, had removed the block on the basement CCTV before she left. Jack turns it on now.
He watches as Ianto pulls himself into a standing position, shoulders hunched, fists clenched. He follows on the video feeds as Ianto walks shakily from the room and goes up to a lower level maintenance closet, pulling out a bucket of water, a tub of bleach, and a mop. Then he goes back to the room. He puts the bucket, mop, and bleach in the corner and goes to the conversion unit. His entire body is tense. He goes behind the unit and rummages around in something on the floor. When he straightens, he is holding a screwdriver and a spanner. Jack watches as Ianto takes apart the conversion unit with automatic mechanical precision. Soon the contraption is just a shapeless pile of metal on the ground. Ianto tosses the monitors and tubes onto the pile dispassionately. He finds a cart somewhere in the depths and brings the pieces to the incinerator. He doesn’t stay to watch them burn.
There’s a moment’s hesitation as Ianto enters the room again. Then he’s dumping bleach into the bucket of water and submerging the mop. His movements of the mop across the gore-filled floor are slow and stilted, like a sleepwalker. It’s as if stars are sparking and dying in his joints, leaving only cold dark space. He has to get fresh water ten times before the floor is clean. He puts the bucket and mop away and automatically goes back to the cellar.
Ianto stops in the centre of the room, looking at the emptiness around him. His hands clench convulsively. His shoulders pull inward, and when he turns towards the camera, Jack can see his slack expression of shock. Then he witnesses gravity shift, watches as Ianto’s face and body crumple.
Ianto covers his face with his hands, nails digging into his forehead. The sob is tinny in Jack’s computer speakers. Ianto shakes like an earthquake. His grief goes supernova, and Jack feels its pressure from his place in his office. Ianto’s voice is small and broken when he finally speaks, suffocated by immense realization. “Oh, god.”
The physical destruction is quantifiable. Jack can’t say the same for the damage to Ianto’s soul.