Pairings: Ianto/Suzie, Ianto/Lisa
Challenge/Prompt: fanfic100, 071. Broken
Summary: Ianto tries to remain faithful to Lisa, but neither she nor Suzie make it easy.
Author’s Notes: Very strange disordered fic, that struck me and was partially written on a bus, and then between the hours of 11 pm and 1 am. I tried swapping around some of the ideas of characters and so on, and even if you normally read my Torchwood slash and not my het, I’d be really grateful if you’d read this and give me some feedback (and also because I’m slightly proud).
This is one moment.
“You know,” she says one evening, when Ianto is lying there wishing he smoked so that he’d at least have something nonchalant to do, “I’m not really sure what this is.”
“Neither am I,” Ianto admits. “Do we have to know?”
“No,” she replies thoughtfully. “I’m just curious.”
“Well, Suzie,” he mumbles, finally deciding that it’s the moment to move, “I hardly think we’re cut out for the great love affair, and I need to get back to work.”
Suzie laughs in a way that doesn’t sound amused.
“Spending so much of your time at work,” she says, “Are you shagging Jack?”
“No,” Ianto tells her, surprise in his voice, picking his clothes up from the floor, “I always thought you were.”
“That boat sailed,” Suzie says in a tone that doesn’t give a lot away but speaks volumes anyhow.
But this is not where it changes.
Lisa is crying and Ianto can’t make her stop, dabbing at her cheeks with a Kleenex and feeling desperate.
“Lee, please,” he whispers, wishing he could touch her properly without the metal that is her skin repelling him constantly, making his hands feel superfluous and alone without the connection of flesh.
“Who is she?” Lisa demands.
“She’s just a friend.” Ianto evades the question as best he can, aware that what he’s doing with Suzie is wrong, that he’s committed to Lisa and to no one else.
“Don’t give me that shit,” Lisa snarls. Ianto can’t reply, and then Jack crackles through on his earpiece, asking him where the hell he is, he wants a coffee, and Ianto backs out with apologies written across his face.
The human part of Lisa is devastated, but pragmatic; Ianto has done everything he can for her, and she can’t expect him to love her without some form of resentment. If he needs to be with someone else to stay alive, then so be it. The cyberman part of her is patient. She knows that Ianto harbours so much guilt, so much duty, that he has no choice but to return here, day after day, down to the dark in the basement, and he is hers, only hers, for ever and ever.
But this is not where it began.
The Glove is found on a wet October afternoon at the sight of the crash of an alien ship, and brought back to the Hub in a containment box. Ianto carries it through to Suzie’s workstation for her, and can’t miss the way her eyes don’t leave its tarnished metal covering.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it,” she whispers when he brings her some tea, “I wonder what it does?”
The others have run off to take showers and get dry. Suzie is still soaking wet from the rain, and making no move to rectify the situation.
“Would you like a towel?” Ianto offers. Suzie looks at him as though he isn’t speaking a language that she can actually understand.
“It’s all right,” she replies eventually, pushing a limp strand of sodden hair away from her face. “I want to know what this does. I want to know everything about it.”
“It’s glove-shaped,” Ianto tells her. “Maybe it’s some form of fashion accessory?”
Suzie’s withering look makes him take a step back. She doesn’t apologise and instead angles her desk lamp to shine brighter off the metal plating. Ianto walks away from the glare, in time to see Jack standing on the stairs in nothing but a towel, concern in his eyes as he looks at Suzie and the alien device. He doesn’t notice Ianto at all.
But this is not the part you can’t forget.
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” Suzie mutters, slightly drunk, slightly maudlin, tapping her fingers on the tabletop. “Only not for us. We just become icy cold.”
Ianto nods, words failing him. Torchwood employees, or at least, what’s left of them, find their way into body drawers to be stored forever. Apparently, anyway. They certainly have enough drawers in the Hub, not that Ianto’s ever thought to check.
“I looked in one once,” Suzie informs him. “A doctor from 1901.”
“Suzie,” Ianto begins, “That’s completely against protocol, and-”
“Give it a rest,” Suzie tells him. “I wanted to see if maybe they take us out a month later, bury us.”
“And?” Ianto is curious, in spite of himself.
“They don’t. He was all laid out, handlebar moustache and everything, pocket watch forever frozen at twenty past nine. Still there. Over a century later.”
“Fuck,” Ianto says quietly, suddenly feeling claustrophobic. “Do you feel better now? For looking? For knowing?”
“No. I feel worse, actually.”
But this is not the part that really stings.
“I’m doing my best for you!” Ianto screams, eleven p.m, raining up on the surface, forever dark and quiet down here.
“Well your best isn’t good enough!” Lisa shouts. Ianto stumbles back, like he’s been pushed. He’s never seen Lisa so torn up and angry before and it makes him feel physically sick.
Their shouting could alert someone, he says, lip service excuse. There’s no one but Jack in the Hub and Jack won’t hear this. Still, the argument peters out. Funny how, after all this, they’ve still got everything to lose.
“I’m sorry,” Ianto whispers, kissing her forehead, leaving the room, stumbling as though drunk.
Lisa waits until he’s gone before whispering: “I’m not.”
But this is not why you care about her.
Trembling hands clenched around her coffee cup, she looks like a junkie, withdrawn and pale. Ianto has started to worry about her, but Jack is so wrapped up in himself he hasn’t noticed (or doesn’t care) about what Suzie’s doing with that glove, and Tosh and Owen aren’t focused enough on her to see the telltale clues.
“Get some sleep,” Ianto tells her.
Lisa has been silent all evening, refusing to look at him. Ianto doesn’t know why; some perceived wrongdoing. He wouldn’t expect Lisa to act like a saint all the time- fuck, he can’t give her as much morphine as he’d like, and she’s mostly metal and hooked up to machines and in danger of discovery and dissection at any moment, but still. Sulky, silent, malevolent. Ianto is beginning to suspect she blames him for her present condition. It isn’t fair. He didn’t shove her into that conversion unit. And he saved her life.
“Come on,” he insists, holding out a hand. “You need rest.”
“Don’t.” Suzie turns away, scowl on her lips, but Ianto doesn’t relent.
“If you faint clean away tomorrow-”
“I won’t.” Suzie laughs, the sound is bitter. “Fuck, you’re such a mother hen, Ianto. Go fuss over Jack. I’m sure he’d appreciate the sentiment and the coffee and maybe you’ll get bent over his desk for your troubles.”
Ianto pulls her up to her feet, takes the mug from her hands and places it on her workstation, and clasps her wrists. Suzie lets him do it, but glares all the while. Ianto doesn’t mind. Her reproachful looks (infused with underlying fury and desperation) aren’t a patch on Lisa’s.
“Going to take me to bed, tuck me in?” Suzie’s tone is mocking.
“Yes,” Ianto tells her. And he does.
But this is not where you changed your mind.
Ianto watches the moon through Suzie’s kitchen window. He left things badly with Lisa, giving her a sedative rather than listening to her scream about how much she hated him, how he obviously wanted her dead, maybe he’d just better turn off her life support now and be done with it. The room rang loudly with silence long after she’d stopped sobbing.
Suzie laid down her research and smiled almost tentatively; they left ten minutes apart so Jack wouldn’t suspect, but he was gazing morosely at his hand in a jar, and wouldn’t have noticed if they’d started shagging right there, on Tosh’s workstation. Ianto lost himself this evening, as he has done too many times to count before, in Suzie’s eyes and Suzie’s hair and Suzie’s skin. Loneliness multiplied by two and stuck together with desperation.
“Are you crying?” Suzie asks, walking up to stand in the doorway. She’s wearing his shirt, and only his shirt; in the moonlight she almost looks beautiful.
“I don’t know,” Ianto replies honestly. Suzie sighs, and holds out her hand.
“Come back to bed.”
Ianto takes it, because there’s nothing else to do.
But this is not where you crossed the line.
“Tell me,” Lisa says, restless and tired and sounding more like a whiny child than usual tonight, “Tell me about Torchwood.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Ianto tells her. “Owen autopsied a body we found buried in the woods. Drug overdose- no aliens there. Tosh is still trying to decode what we think might be a letter found at a crash sight months ago. Suzie’s messing around with this thing called the Glove. It’s dangerous, but-”
“Malevolent knitwear?” Lisa enquires. “Very good.”
“It brings people back from the dead,” Ianto replies.
Lisa looks at him.
“Won’t be any good for me,” she says, “I’m not dead.”
“I don’t look at every piece of technology to see if it can help you,” Ianto snaps before he can stop himself, angry because he can see how much Suzie is ripping herself apart and how everyone else refuses to see.
“You should,” Lisa replies. “You promised you’d help me. You promised it wouldn’t be like this forever.”
“I’m doing what I can but you have to remember, Lisa, that the world doesn’t revolve around you!”
Lisa gives him a cool look that makes Ianto wonder if maybe she’ll kill him after all.
“Your world has to,” she points out. Ianto sighs, suddenly angry, resentful for the burden she poses, her love, her sickness, her presence dragging him back into memories he no longer wants.
“It doesn’t mean I want it to,” he snaps, bitter, lonely, sick to death of Lisa only caring about herself (he can’t blame her; he just hates it).
Lisa watches him out of the room and listens to him bolt the door in a mutinous silence.
But this is not why you chose her.
The tears and laughter intertwine. It’s confusing to watch and painful to listen to, Suzie twisting her hands in her lap.
“Do you think I’m crazy, Ianto?”
It’s far too late for this. Ianto is crazy on virtually no sleep and he wants to go home and he wants Suzie to go home too but she’s sitting crying and laughing and being generally insane in the Hub.
“No,” he replies, sitting down beside her.
“Liar.” Suzie rubs her hands over her face. “I feel crazy. I have this dream, Ianto, you know, where I’ve got this big puzzle and I’ve got to fit all the pieces together, only I can’t, but if I don’t we’ll die- everyone will die, and time’s running out and I’m cutting my hands to shreds and still the pieces won’t stay together.” She’s almost crying again, vulnerability poking out from her hardened exterior of not-giving-a-fuck that she normally favours. “What does it mean, Ianto?”
“That you need to cut down on caffeine,” Ianto tells her, rubbing her shoulders gently. He’s never touched Suzie before, and he’s surprised at how thin she actually is.
“I was being serious,” Suzie sniffles, shooting him a betrayed look.
“So was I.” Ianto hates physical bodily contact, it precedes other things like intimacy and whispered confessions and other things that he has no time for.
Suzie looks at him for a long moment, laughs, leans in and kisses him. Just once. Ianto decides that maybe she is mad, because there can’t possibly be a reason for this, then decides that he is madder, because he actually kisses her back.
But this is not where she got too close.
“Tell me about Torchwood One,” Suzie orders him.
“It’s hardly pillow talk,” Ianto points out. He doesn’t want to talk about it. But maybe he does. It would be nice to talk about it to someone who isn’t Jack. Jack has his own prerogative to gather from the account, and he only wants to know about the Doctor (“Oh, no reason. Torchwood just has to know all it can about the Doctor.” Ianto can see through his false nonchalance without even having to try.)
“Everyone I knew died,” he says finally. “Everything I had, destroyed. Instantly.”
Four months of sleeping with Suzie and he still doesn’t think he’ll ever understand her. Her face twists into sympathy; a strange look on her.
“How do you walk away from that much death?” she asks. “How do you carry on?”
“I don’t know,” Ianto replies, turning his wrists towards her so she can see the scars that are barely there, and normally hidden by the cuffs of his shirts. Neat, straight lines that he cut three days after the battle of Canary Wharf was over, and he was faced with no job, almost no money, and a girlfriend who hardly wanted to be alive and was now more machinery than flesh. Even then, he didn’t try hard enough to die. They found him and rushed him to hospital and Lisa berated him for being irresponsible when they finally let him out. And then he came down to Cardiff, wanting a job. “You find something to live for,” he says eventually.
“And what’s your something?” she asks.
Ianto wonders whether she really cares- he plans on saying something flippant- coffee, or chocolate, or Pobol y Cwm, but what accidentally slips out is the truth.
“Finding out if there is something to live for,” he murmurs. “I want to know if all this is worth it.”
Suzie frowns at him.
“You’re a strange little man, Ianto,” she says. “And just for the record: it probably isn’t. Worth it, I mean.”
But this is not where you thought about giving it all up.
“Is she prettier than me?” Lisa demands. “Is she a better fuck than me? Are you going to marry her?”
“I’m not going to tell you,” Ianto replies placidly, “You might as well stop asking.”
“I could kill you,” Lisa informs him steadily.
“And then where would you be?” Ianto enquires, concentrating on changing one of her IV tubes and only on that. “You’re having a bad day, Lee. That’s it. Nothing else.”
“You’re the one sleeping with someone else.”
“And it doesn’t mean anything,” Ianto replies, but he’s aware that that’s kind of a lie. Suzie means something; he just isn’t sure what it is. “So. Would you rather I was with you, and thinking of someone else, or with someone else, and thinking only of you?” He smiles in an approximation of kindness. “There’s a philosophical phrase to think about tomorrow.”
Lisa watches him through slitted eyes as he turns to go.
“Ianto,” she tells him, “You’ve forgotten to reconnect one of my breathing tubes.”
“Oh yes,” Ianto mumbles, “Silly of me.”
For a moment there’s a silence as they both try to work out if he seriously just tried to leave her to die.
“You’re going to pay for that,” Lisa informs him quietly. Ianto gives her a bland half-smile.
“Goodnight, Lee,” he says. “Sweet dreams.”
But this is not the point at which she betrayed you.
There’s blood on her hands and only Ianto seems to have noticed this.
“Have you hurt yourself?” he asks. Suzie shakes her head.
“I just need-” she begins, but she’s shaking like a leaf. Ianto hauls her down to the showers and helps her strip off and get in, rolling up his shirtsleeves and taking off his waistcoat so he can lean through the door and help her wash.
“What did you do?” he asks.
“Nothing,” Suzie insists. Ianto doesn’t believe her for a second.
“I’ll get Jack down here,” he threatens. Suzie nods, looking defeated.
“Ok,” she says quietly. “Just let me get clean.”
In fresh clothes, she sits and clings to her coffee mug. Ianto sits opposite her, notices the attempted sleight of hand where she puts retcon in his drink, and decides to let it slide.
“I killed someone tonight,” she tells him, matter of fact, quiet. Ianto could panic, but he takes his lead from her.
“Oh,” he murmurs. “Why?”
“I need bodies, for the Glove,” Suzie explains. “It needs testing, refining. So I killed this man, so we can resurrect him.”
“I’m not entirely sure that’s a good idea,” Ianto says, drinking his coffee as quick as he can. Suddenly, he wants to forget this.
“I can’t stop myself,” Suzie says, flames of sheer insanity ignited in her eyes. “I know it’s wrong, but I don’t care.”
“This isn’t going to end well, Suzie,” he tells her. Suzie agrees, and then catches him as the sedative kicks in and he falls from his chair.
But this is not where you made the conscious decision to continue.
“Don’t you have a girlfriend?” Suzie asks, second time around. Her skin is still new to Ianto, he doesn’t quite know where to touch to instantly spark a reaction.
“I do,” he tells her. “But it’s complicated.”
“Then why are we doing this?” Suzie enquires.
“Because it’s complicated,” Ianto points out.
He thinks of Lisa, alone and fuming in her basement. He thinks of her metallic skin and the rebukes she throws at him just because she can.
“I refuse to get into a bitch fight for you,” Suzie tells him.
Ianto pictures Suzie and Lisa having a fight over him. Suzie’s head is in two pieces and the metal of Lisa’s thighs is spattered with blood. It’s not the cheeriest of mental images.
“That’s not something you’ll have to worry about,” he says.
“Good.” Suzie runs her fingers through his hair and brings his mouth back to hers. “Now, where were we?”
But this is not when you came clean.
“Are you staying?” Suzie asks with interest. She looks absolutely exhausted. “Don’t you have to get back to work, and whatever it is that you’re hiding in the basement?”
Ianto stares at her.
“I’m not blind,” she says, ruffling his hair almost affectionately. “You’ve got something down there. Is it your girlfriend?”
There’s no point in lying.
Suzie’s face lights up.
“Can I meet her?”
“No!” Ianto exclaims. Suzie pouts. “I think she’d kill you,” he adds.
“Oh God,” Suzie murmurs, “You’re not joking, are you.”
“She’s kind of a Cyberman,” Ianto tells her. Suzie gapes and then her expression relaxes somewhat.
“Retcon in the red wine?” she asks. “Nice one.”
“Neither of us will remember this evening,” Ianto tells her, “I think it’s for the best.”
“I killed someone else last night,” Suzie sighs. “That makes two. I think the third kill might be easier.”
“Can I request that I not be the third person?” Ianto asks, because there’s nothing else to say in this situation.
“Of course,” Suzie smiles. “You’re too pretty to die.”
They sleep off the sedative in each other’s arms, and wake up cold, but with rather convenient amnesia.
But this is not where you realised all hope was gone.
“Not spending this evening with your girlfriend?” Lisa enquires brightly, as Ianto unlocks the door.
“She wasn’t my girlfriend,” Ianto tells her, and his voice sounds utterly hollow. Lisa picks up on the past tense immediately.
“What happened? Did she dump you?”
“She shot herself,” Ianto tells Lisa.
“Oh,” Lisa says. “Well. Good.”
“I still love you,” Ianto says.
“Never doubted it for a second,” Lisa replies.
I did, Ianto thinks.
But this is not where she made her intentions clear.
“Do you ever think about dying?” Suzie asks.
“You are a very morbid woman, Suzie Costello,” Ianto replies. “And really, this is hardly a topic to be having in bed with a man who is almost your lover.”
“I hate that word,” Suzie yawns. “‘Lover’. You don’t love me. I don’t love you. We fuck and have macabre conversations, and sometimes you make me coffee afterwards.”
“By most people’s standards, we should be married by now,” Ianto tells her. There’s a pause. “I think about dying all the time. I’m not sure I’m looking forward to it.”
“Me neither.” Suzie sighs, laughs, looks at the ceiling. “Do you think anyone will miss me when I’m gone?”
“I will,” Ianto promises. Suzie looks at him.
“You know,” she murmurs, “I really think you will.”
But this is not where it breaks.
Ianto is tidying up. It’s probably too late. Suzie is very and extremely dead. Lisa is asleep. Jack is watching him.
“Are you all right?” he asks.
“Why shouldn’t I be, sir?” Ianto enquires. Jack shrugs.
“If you need time-” he begins, and then changes his mind. “You won’t need it,” he decides. “You were never very close, were you?”
Ianto wonders how it’s possible for one man to be so fucking blind. He licks his dry lips and thinks about Suzie’s morgue drawer and wonders if she’s scared and thinks about Lisa and how he’s inevitably bound and trapped to her until one of them dies, and reflects that he really does have a long way to go.
“No, sir,” he says, “We were never very close.”
But this is not where it ends.