Ianto held himself stiffly the first time he met Jack Harkness. He tried to look relaxed, tried to look confident—didn't quite manage the first.
He casually mentioned weevils, casually tried to bring up that hey, he knew things, wouldn't Jack like him to join his branch of Torchwood?
Jack immediately shuts down.
Ianto's gloved hand clenches of its own volition. His shoulder aches.
Ianto thought it would have been useful to know that Jack Harkness despised any and all things to do with Torchwood One earlier.
The next time wasn't much better, and the time after that…
He catches a break when he finds a Pteranodon in Cardiff—and wasn't that one way to bring back some of the wonder of the universe? Give a man Cybermen and it turns into a nightmare, but give a man a dinosaur and he's revisiting his 11-year-old mindset—and feels his arm shift when Jack threatens to run him over. Clenches his other hand down over it in warning.
The interest in Jack's eyes when Ianto mentions a Pteranodon is a relief.
His arm goes slack under his grip.
He thinks for the first time that his… affliction has some uses when the Pteranodon scrapes claws over his arm as it wings past. Thinks that otherwise those claws would've made it to bone. Instead, it only ruins his sleeve.
As it is, while Harkness is distracted with the Pteranodon, he has to do a quick check that nothing is showing through the tear in fabric, to pull his handkerchief free from his pocket and tie it just under the tear…
Tie it to hide the shine of metal underneath.
When they end up rolling against each other in an effort to keep from getting crushed, Ianto has no room in his head to notice the warm press of Harkness against himself, let alone room enough to enjoy it.
Instead there's a blind panic hidden in the backs of his eyelids, a mantra of please don't notice please don't notice, oh gods he must feel it, please don't—
His heart was pounding when he finally managed to push away from the contact, and doesn't slow even after he's managed to convince Harkness to take him on…
It rankles some that he'll be on as a glorified Tea Boy, that he'll likely be kept from what he's been doing the past two years—what he's been trained to do—by whoever's looking after Three's Archives, but he wasn't actually all that interested in rejoining Torchwood.
If he were really interested, he would have approached Harkness the one time and then moved onto UNIT afterwards…
Even if he doesn't like the militaristic gob shites it would have been better than knowing and not being able to do anything about it.
But his only interest right then was Lisa.
Lisa, and then his arm.
Ianto would like to say that he took his whole situation in stride from the get go, that he saw the problem and learned to deal with it… but he couldn't well say that when the first thing he tried to do coming out of Canary Warf was saw his arm off.
Tried, and failed.
His shoulder had already been aching, and there were a dozen other aches and pains he'd been dealing with not even counting the ones he got pulling Lisa to safety, but Cybermen, and how could they do that, and just get it off had been running though his mind. He looked down at his gloved hand now, hearing the creak of leather as fingers flexed, and thought longingly for a prosthetic limb.
A useless one. One with interchangeable hands. One that he could take off and put on at will, one that he wouldn't constantly worry about, one that would allow him to look at the stump of his shoulder and see that his arm is gone. See and believe and stop being able to forget about it—because he shouldn't be able to forget like this.
Ianto had been ambidextrous before, more dominant on his right side, and now he mainly used his left hand—
Unless he forgot.
When he forgot, it was like he was normal when he wasn't; it was like he didn't have Lisa to look after, like he didn't have to worry about Jack Harkness finding out about his plans to bring Dr. Tanizaki into their secret base, like he wasn't in a constant state of worryworryworryfretfretfret every hour of every day.
Because he was the Head Archivist—the only Archivist, and wasn't that a joke—and he knew the bowels of Torchwood Three better than anyone, save Harkness perhaps, so Ianto could do this. Ianto could bring Tanizaki in, could have him look at Lisa and perhaps help…
He smoothed his expression and brought out coffee, empty smile and empty banter and air of polite disinterest a shroud around him, his armor.
His armor, polished to a eye-averting shine in his suits
(his suits that a vain part of him was glad fit normally, was glad to not have a gaping sleeve, and he was working on squishing that part out of him because he wasn't—)
and kept strong with the knowledge that if it wasn't he would be letting Lisa down.
He needed to focus on Lisa, he reminded himself, cleaning up after the slobs of Torchwood Three, needed to focus on her because she had it so much worse.
She had it so much worse than simply having a Cybernetic arm.
Ianto doesn't have it in him to be surprised when is attempt to actually saw his arm off is met with… resistance.
He only sighs and thinks, that's twenty quid down the drain, and starts to collect the pieces of torn-up metal for disposal.
It was worth a shot, anyway.
Ianto smiled at Gwen Cooper, letting her through the Tourist Shops back entry, and felt a frisson of relief-worry. The smell of cooling pizza churns his stomach.
This'll be enough of a distraction, for now.
Jack will be distracted by her, be distracted by cleavage and the Welsh accent he seemed to be so weak against, and Ianto would stay in the background.
Stay in the background, and everything was set up for Tanizaki to come to Cardiff, so he would use the distraction to the best of his ability, and hope, and worry, and do his best not to throw up from stress.
He doesn't know it then, but the distraction stretches on.
He would be annoyed at how easily Jack let Gwen Cooper into Torchwood if he wasn't busy with Lisa, Lisa, Lisa, and if Gwen Cooper wasn't enough of a distraction that he could've smuggled an elephant past the rest of Torchwood Three without comment. Because Gwen Cooper brings inexperience, and unleashes a Sex Mist, and fiddles with alien machinery like it's a child's toy, and everyone is scrambling to do their own jobs on top of making sure she didn't get anyone killed.
It's nothing to get Tanizaki in.
"Remarkable," Tanizaki says, reverent, "absolutely remarkable…"
After the initial denial—"This is not possible!" "This is Lisa."—Tanizaki had started his… examination.
Ianto wasn't comforted by the fact that Tanizaki obviously saw Lisa as a science project. Didn't like the way he looked like he wanted more to see how he could get it to complete the process than to reverse it… but he'd told Ianto about reverse engineering. Told Ianto that it taught him much more about an unknown project than completing it. "Her," he corrected him.
"Tell me… what happened? How did you find her?"
Ianto swallowed, and his gloved hand came up to his throat to rub, slightly. He pushed it down.
"She… worked for Torchwood London. It was the, uh, end of the Battle of Canary Warf, and the Cybermen realized that they needed more soldiers… fast. So they started converting whole bodies. Rather than transferring just the brain." He swallowed again.
"They used Earth Technology… They found their way into one of the Archives storage floors. Started using… started using what was on hand." He couldn't help but choke out a laugh at that. On Hand. Right.
"I found where Lisa had been taken to. To, uh, they had to. Right. They had already… They had already s-started on her and. I couldn't. I just." Ianto swallow again, mouth dry, and tried to organize his thoughts. He could hear the screams, still, felt the phantom ache in his throat from when he was screaming himself, and felt the ache in his shoulder where…
Tanizaki was looking at him. Ianto tried for a smile. Felt it probably fell short, more of a rictus.
"Right, um. I think you should… well, you should know that it wasn't just Lisa. It wasn't…" Ianto took a breath, and started undoing the clasp at his wrist keeping his glove from slipping. "It wasn't just Lisa. I… got caught. Looking for Lisa. But by then I had… Okay, they had less time for me… but they did something, looked inside my head, and apparently they thought I was good for an upgrade, and started on me, but by then I had…"
Ianto didn't know why it was so hard to get out. So hard to get out I lost my arm to this man, when he was there to help—
He dimly realized that his hand was shaking, making it more difficult to remove his glove, but by then Tanizaki had seen the flash of metal and gasped. Rushed back around Lisa's equipment and held his hands around Ianto's wrist, reverential.
"It's…" Tanizaki seemed a loss for words.
Ianto smiled a humorless grin.
"Yeah. I know." But he didn't think Tanizaki quite got it.
How could he? How could anyone get it? He'd lost his arm—had it vaporized clean off—and hadn't even had the time to mourn it, to fully comprehend that he was missing a whole arm because he'd had Lisa to focus on.
Had Lisa to focus on then, had her to focus on now, and now he had to focus on himself, and he just didn't want to. Didn't want to, and didn't want to, and didn't want to…
His smile turned brittle.
"Daleks took my arm, and Cybermen gave me a new one." Forced it on him. Cannibalized a box of unidentified scraps into a limb, and attached it to the cauterized lump—
The words were bitter on his tongue, but Tanizaki let out a shaky breath. Awed.
"May I see—"
"You should be focusing on Lisa." He cuts him off.
"Yes, yes, but if I can just see—to compare…" his eyes were shining with wonder. Ianto could understand how this would be huge to someone like Tanizaki, huge to the study of Cybernetics… but it didn't mean he was happy about it.
Ianto started undoing the buttons of his suit jacket.
The first time Ianto has time to fully focus on his arm, it's after a whirlwind of thoughts and mindless action. It's after knowing he had to hide his arm; pulling the coat off the body of Rodger Thomas, knowing he had to hide Lisa and keep her alive; listening to her instructions between screams, both hers and his own…
So when he makes it to a shower, he mindlessly undresses and doesn't register what he sees in the mirror. The blood and dust and sweat turn his skin scaly, his shoulder swollen an angry red beneath, and he doesn't see, doesn't know what to do with the sight of a shining metal arm attached to himself.
Dully, as he stared, the ache registers to him. The feeling of cauterized flesh pressed against skin-warmed metal. The new and horrifying ache in each movement, where it feels like the metal is encasing the stump of bone left in is arm.
A choked sob escapes him, because his arm—
He doesn't even register the fact that his other arm—his only arm—comes up to claw at the already scraped and raw skin of his shoulder, nails digging into the place where flesh and metal meet, digging, clawing—
Get it off get it off get it off—
Until his hand is being wrenched away.
A scream shudders it's way up his throat, but dies before it can fully form, because his arm—the arm—is holding him back. It's moving on its own. It's holding his wrist firmly away from his shoulder, effortlessly, and no matter how Ianto squirmed, he couldn't get free. He can't find the air to breathe.
There's not enough air, he thinks desperately. The arm is taking all the air from the room, he thinks, horrified.
His gorge rises, and his hand is free to keep him from bashing his head against the edge of the toilet as he empties what's left of his stomach.
Retches again when he catches sight of the metal hand clutching the edge of the bowl, a mirror image to his own on the left save for the cracks in the porcelain, and tries to breath through his panic attack.
Shaking so hard his teeth were rattling, Ianto tries to calm down, tries to calm the fuck down already, and clenches his eyes shut.
Takes a deep, shuddery breath.
Opens his eyes.
Clenches his hand against the edge of the bowl—
And flinches when the action is repeated by the mechanical—the cybernetic arm, and sends cracks straight through the porcelain.
Water starts dribbling onto the floor, and he hurries to get up, shock warring with confusion and horror.
Tries to move the arm, flex the fingers…
Doesn't know if he should be more or less horrified when the limb responds.
His gorge rises again, but there's nothing left in his stomach, so he's left dry heaving into the sink. He makes a desperate grab for his shoulder again—is intercepted before he can reach. By the arm. His shoulder burns and aches, the skin all around where his arm used to be swollen and tender and bleeding.
He doesn't know what to do.
Wants to go and talk to Lisa, have Lisa tell him what the fuck he was supposed to do now like it was yet more instructions on how to turn a conversion machine into life support, but she was unconscious, and he—
He was left staring at hic cybernetic arm. The one that did what he wanted most of the time… so long as he didn't try to remove it.
Tanizaki is delicate and professional as he examines where the metal arm joins his shoulder, prodding the ropey and still delicate scarring surrounding the area, and bends the arm at all it's various joints.
He thought that maybe if he hadn't found the numerous physical therapy exercises to do online, it would have hurt much more than the dull ache the prodding produced.
He sighed again.
He supposes he's lucky that his arm doesn't actually look like a Cyberman's arm—convenient because he didn't think an arm like that would fit under any sort of jacket, never mind his suits, but it didn't make him like looking at it any more.
He supposes, too, that the arm could be considered attractive…
He could see the appeal of all that sleek metal, the perpetual shine…
"These joints are amazing," Tanizaki breathed, holding his hand. He curled and uncurled his fingers, looking at the sweeps of metal and squeezing along each joint.
"Simply astounding… This is so different form what I saw from the footage…"
"From what I understand, underneath all the metal, the Cybermen have a nervous system of a sort, transferred from when they were human… my arm was already, ah, gone, so they had to do things differently… I don't actually know why they were focusing so much on getting me a new arm, rather than—rather than doing what they did to Lisa." It was a thought that bugged him more than having a cybernetic arm did… he couldn't quite shake the fear that maybe the arm was just biding its time to start another conversion unit. And not one cannibalized into a life support system like the one Lisa's hooked up to, either. Maybe it had hidden programming. Ianto didn't know… there was nothing showing what was underneath the layers of metal, no ports or places to plug anything in. There also wasn't any sort of weapon as far as he could see; even the tips of the fingers had only vague indentations for 'nails'. They were only vaguely sharp.
He looked over Tanizaki's head to meet Lisa's eyes. They were slightly clouded from the medicinal cocktail keeping her from being in pain, but she answered his wavering smile with one of her own.
Of course, it's when things are looking their best when things turn the worst.
After looking over Ianto, Tanizaki had poked and prodded and tweaked at both Lisa and the machinery keeping her alive. To Ianto it had reminded him sharply of the teachers who used to fiddle at his and his classmates science projects in order to see how well it worked, but Lisa had given him a reassuring glance.
The questions Tanizaki had asked her had made Ianto uncomfortable, made his stomach seize up with nausea and remembrance, had made his arm shift restlessly at his side…
It had leapt onto Tanizakis arm when he'd gone to pull her off the life support system, and while his delight in the involuntary motion and the steel grip around his arm was obvious on his face, his confidence in his work was what made Ianto pry the metal fingers loose.
(He said pry, but it was only because saying that he thought that he would have to pry them off, and had them respond made him think that the arm responded to what he wanted—those thoughts were dangerous ones. He couldn't forget that the arm did things on its own.)
"You know I'll likely kill you if you let her die," he felt he should warn.
Tanizaki paused, and gave him a look. Glanced down at his arm with a small smile quirking his lips.
"I can believe it. If you don't manage it, that certainly will."
Turns out neither Ianto nor his cybernetic arm kill Tanizaki. Lisa does.
(…after trying to convert him. Ianto doesn't think on this. Because she wouldn't do that. Lisa wouldn't do that.)
He stares at Jack, hurting and aching and so full of murderous rage everything is turning into one big thumping noise.
He would not kill her. He would not kill Lisa.
He'd had a horrible moment of conflict, where he'd been worried about Myfanwy, worried about Lisa, worried about Myfanwy— how many times had he distracted Lisa from her pain with tales of looking after a Pteranodon? How many times had Lisa teased him about naming said dinosaur after a woman with an amazing voice, when she could hear her screeches from the bowels of Torchwood Three?
He couldn't think.
He couldn't think, and he hurt.
He had had such a phantom ache in his entire arm, in the entire cybernetic arm, that he'd struggled like he had a broken arm. He struggled with one arm limp. When the lift had stopped, the hurt in his shoulder and all along his arm (the one that wasn't actually there, so why did it hurt—)was nothing compared to the gaping wound where his heart was supposed to be.
He hates that his idea of training Myfanwy to identify her food via a specific sauce had been used against Lisa.
When Tosh says they can get back in he doesn't think, doesn't think anything, doesn't think that it's true, doesn't think that nothing, no one could survive an attack like that.
He doesn't know what he's doing when he grabs the gun, doesn't care if it was him or the arm grabbing it up, can't even muster up the thought that he'd probably be more deadly if he used the hand rather that the gun, because he can't—he can't—
"I have nothing left to lose." Gwen doesn't understand that, not when she thinks that anything done right now could be stupid.
"There's always something left to lose."
His hand tightens on the gun, and he can feel metal giving under the pressure, can feel the leather of his glove creaking from the strain… the gun probably wouldn't fire bullets anymore.
It's a relief and a tragedy.
He wants to beat Jacks face in.
He thinks about just whipping his glove off, see if they'd give up on him like they did Lisa. See if they'd change their minds about Lisa if they saw…
But there was no time for possibilities. He trains the probably useless gun on Jack.
"I'm going back in to save her. Anybody tries to stop me, I'll shoot them." Maybe. Or maybe something worse.
Gwen moves and he automatically jerks the gun around to face her, finger steady on the trigger, and Jack moves.
Grabs the gun, twists his arm—tries, because Ianto is already moving, trying to turn into the open doorway, except Jack grabs his other arm and twists it up behind his back.
Perhaps he should have let him grab his right arm, his cybernetic arm, because there was no way Jack could have held him if he did.
As it is, he winces into the press of the door frame, and glares back at Jack. Curses his arm.
A week ago it had moved and nearly broke a barista's arm for nearly spilling hot coffee on him, and what was it doing now? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It wasn't responding.
It was the first time he'd ever felt like he didn't have his arm.
"You make a threat like that you better be prepared to follow through."
In any other situation, Ianto would have rolled his eyes and taken it as one more innuendo filled line.
Instead, he can see the barrel in the corner of his eye, and hear the tick of his pocketwatch.
Time is running out.
He had to save Lisa.
He thinks this as Jack shoves him around and threatens him, threatens him like an immature frat boy at initiation, and he feels a warped calm settle over his nerves.
Tries to say that Ianto's loyalty was with them now.
That's not his call to make.
Jack orders him to kill Lisa.
That's not his call, either.
"You can't make me." He almost wants to smile, except he doesn't know how any more.
"You like to think you're a hero," he says instead, "but you're the biggest monster of all."
He doesn't even know what his face is doing any more, just feels a vicious satisfaction at how his words obviously effect Jack—he thinks it's the first time he's seen Jack effected by anything. No flirts or innuendo here, Jack.
Because the words were said.
He almost wants to laugh, that he was the one with a cybernetic arm and he was the one name calling… almost, but can't remember how.
Jack gave him ten minutes, and a most likely useless gun.
He wasn't worried about the gun, but he was very conscious of the time limit. He had ten minutes before Torchwood came in and—
He had to save Lisa in less than ten minutes.
When he gets inside he looks about at the scattered equipment, at the boxes and—wait, was that pizza? He hadn't...
Myfanwy called from up above, and he wants to check on her, except—
And… the pizza boxes. He caught a whiff of cheese, tomato, and garlic, still warm…
(Oh no, no, no...)
Alarms are blaring, lights flashing, and he has… roughly seven minutes.
His heart nearly stops when he sees her, on the ground, the blood and alarms and stillness of her making him think back, makes him think back to his nightmares where he finds Lisa at Canary Warf, not screaming… not screaming because she's….
He doesn't remember anything between then and when he's at her side, blank eyes staring up at him, blood on his hands…
Its her blood on his hands, her blood, and he can't, he can't, he can't…
He's up with the useless gun in hand immediately, because it's not Tosh or Gwen who's speaking, and he's not fucking letting anyone near Lisa, not like this.
Not like this.
He can barely breath through the choking pressure in his throat, arm steady as he listens to Not-Lisa's voice speak the same way Lisa did, speak her memories like they were little tokens that came along with your id, speak like she hadn't just killed a girl and taken her body…
He lets himself hug her once.
Hug Not-Lisa, and breath into hair Lisa never kept that long, breath in her Not-Lisa scent, bend down a little bit farther than he would have for Lisa, Lisa, Lisa…
It's Lisa's expression of confusion that looks back at him as he steps back, brings the gun back up, until his vision blurs from tears and he wants to shout at her to give Lisa back…
He pulls the trigger, and nothing happens.
It doesn't even click.
There's a hole in his chest and it's going to swallow him whole, he has to turns away from her, rub the tears from his eyes and curse at himself, curse at fucking Cybermen, curse at Tanizaki, curse that leather doesn't fucking work to clean up tears…
"We can be upgraded… together…" Not-Lisa—never Lisa—says, appeals.
Bile climbs to the back of his throat.
The shots that come behind him are totally unexpected, shocking, appalling, and though it was never Lisa he can't help but anguish that she's dead.
He looks at Torchwood, Gwen's wide eyed astonishment, Owen's pitying glance, Tosh not even looking—trying to give him some illusion of privacy for his grief, likely…
Ianto wants to punch him again, this time with his right fucking arm, this time bash his stupid fucking face in until he can't look at anything ever again, let alone give Ianto that steady 'it had to be done' bullshit of a look.
He thinks that this man, this is the only person in the entire world he wants dead. Only person in the world he has ever wanted dead.
And his stupid fucking homicidal arm is still at his side.
He has three weeks to 'get his shit together'; three weeks set to mourn before he was expected back at work.
Expected to work under Jack Harkness.
Walking in the door is as conspicuous as it ever is, alarms blazing, the cage doors closing behind him never before seeming so symbolic…
He looks up and sees Jack, and Gwen beside him.
He wondered if Jack had fucked her yet.
He wondered if she'd even broken up with her boyfriend before doing it.
Jack blinks and nods to him.
After three weeks suspension, Ianto doesn't have any feelings left, so he turns and starts cleaning. It isn't as bad as he'd have thought…
A slow, low burn in his gut has him thinking, has him thinking that Jack probably thinks that he has… what was it he'd said? That Ianto's loyalty is to them now?
Jack probably thought he had it now.
Probably thought that because Ianto had come back, that he was loyal to Torchwood now, loyal to Jack.
He probably hadn't thought about the fact that Ianto had his reason for living wrenched from him… probably didn't realize that for three weeks Ianto had bounced from one extreme to another.
He'd raged; he'd cried, he'd contemplated suicide; he'd contemplated murder, he'd felt all degrees of guilt and shame…
He'd had Lisa on life support for such a long time, and for her to end up dead in the end. Dead, and turned into some… Cyberman wannabe. A Cyberwoman. In the end she wasn't even Lisa any more…
And he couldn't even put her out of her misery.
He'd tried to shoot her. He'd tried to shoot Lis—not-Lisa. It was unforgivable. More so than the fact that the gun…
The gun didn't work. He knew it wouldn't… he'd tried to shoot her anyway.
Tried, and failed. Both were bad, but one was infinitely worse.
It wasn't Lisa anymore, and yet he'd still….
Instead Jack had.
He had no doubt that the first bullet was Jacks.
Did he think that had earned him Ianto's loyalty? Or perhaps he'd thought he'd had it after performing CPR on him? Is that why he'd tried to force Ianto's hand?
I saved your life; now go kill your girlfriend.
I saved your life; now go kill the woman you were planning on proposing to.
I saved your life; now go kill your reason for living.
Ianto felt numb. He didn't…
He didn't know what to do anymore.
He'd hated and raged at Jack for so long, for three fucking weeks, and he'd… he'd raged so much that he broke through to the other side.
—No, not the other side…
He'd reached some sort of limbo.
He didn't know if he should be angry or grateful.
He didn't know if he loved or hated him.
He didn't know if he even had enough of a clear thought of him to have any sort of feeling for him one way or another.
He very little left of a personal life, leaving Torchwood to take up more space…
All that he really had to himself, now, was his sister Rhi and…
His hands clenched.
He only had one thing left to hide…
*Gasp!* What will happen when his arm is revealed…?
So yes, another story started, this time with a cyber-armed Ianto, and this is part of my Camp Nanowrimo Challenge… Woo! I'm at 10569 words total, over like 6 stories! (Thank RandomPersonOfDoom for that. Thanks friend. -_-;;)
For those waiting on Too Tired To Wink (sequel to And I Wake Up), I apologize, but the last couple of pages have been difficult! Like, wow what was I thinking, why do I have to have this in the story, but wait, I wrote so much of it now I have to finish writing this...
These are the sorts of things I'm thinking of.
This is what happens when you've got a 20 year old writing pregnancy and labor.
*shakes fist* Whyyyyyyyyy Gwen? Whyyyyyyy?
Also, Ianto's such a dramatic fuck it's amazing and sad.
More to come, and though I'm not going to do a 10k/chapter thing for this, I think that since I got this to about 5k that'll be how long each chapter is for this.
Hope you enjoyed, and wowza the sadness and angsting at the end of this.
Thanks to my dearest Random Person of Doom for dealing with my equally random idea jumping and OMG what-ifs.