Characters: Ianto, mentions Jack, Lisa, Owen, Tosh, Gwen, Annie.
Summary: Finding himself back in his flat after Lisa’s final death, Ianto can’t recognise the face he sees in the mirror.
Word Count: 1369
Written For: juliet316’s prompt ‘Author's choice, author's choice, first thought,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
Ianto wasn’t sure how he’d got back to his poky little furnished flat. He supposed someone must have driven him, though probably not Jack, who’d been too angry earlier even to look at him. Not that Ianto could really blame him, no matter how much he wanted to; he was angry at Jack too, for killing Lisa, for not trying to help her. But that hadn’t been Lisa, had it? Not really. It had been a monster wearing Lisa’s face. Jack and the others hadn’t had much choice; they couldn’t let the monster live.
So, not Jack then; one of the others. Owen maybe, or Tosh. Not Gwen because she wouldn’t have left, she’d still be here with her unwanted wide-eyed concern, trying to mother him, as if anything she did could make him feel any better. Nothing any of them could offer, even if they wanted to, which he doubted after the way he’d betrayed them, would even scratch the surface of the raw grief and agony he was feeling. The last thing he needed was the sympathy of someone he barely knew and who had no idea what he was going through.
He didn’t know how long he stood there, just inside the front door of his flat, thoughts whirling through his head and going nowhere, before he was finally able to make himself move. He looked down at his clothes, the once pristine suit now soaked in blood, both Lisa’s and Annie’s. Poor Annie; she hadn’t deserved her fate any more than Lisa had. They’d both fallen victim to the same metal monster, even though he’d clung on to the hope that somewhere inside Lisa was still there and could be saved. Stupid. He knew that now, but he’d been so deluded for so many months. All that time and effort for nothing.
Suddenly having blood all over him became unbearable; he had to get it off, and get rid of the suit. Even if it was salvageable, which he doubted, he knew he could never bring himself to wear it again.
From standing frozen in place in the flat’s tiny entrance hall, he was suddenly running flat out for the bathroom, tearing the suit jacket off as he went then clinging to it, unwilling to drop it and further contaminate his living space.
He shuddered to a halt in the cramped bathroom, stopped in his tracks by the mirror over the sink and unable to tear his gaze away from what he saw there. His first thought on catching sight of his reflection was, 'That's not me. It can’t be.' But there was nobody else in the flat, and there wasn’t room in the bathroom for more than one person at a time anyway.
Bloodshot, haunted eyes stared back at him, dark bags beneath them stark against the pallor of skin that was splattered with dried blood. His hair was matted and sticking up, as if he’d run his hands through it repeatedly, tugging and tearing, but he hadn’t done that, had he? He didn’t remember doing it. Not that he could trust his memory right now; it seemed to be full of holes, blank spaces gaping accusingly at him. He should remember. His bottom lip was bleeding where he’d bitten it at some point, and his clothes… Shirt creased, mostly untucked, bloodstained, and with several buttons missing, collar open and tie tugged loose, the crumpled knot halfway down his chest… The mirror was too small to show anything below his waist from this distance, but he doubted the rest of him looked any better.
He should be stripping out of his clothes, bagging them for disposal at the Hub, getting in the shower and scrubbing away the blood until his skin was raw. He felt filthy, and worse, defiled by the events of earlier. He wanted nothing more than to wash it all away, and maybe wash the endless slideshow of horrific images from his mind at the same time, but his reflection in the mirror distracted him from what he should be doing, kept him pinned in place like a butterfly on a cork board, spread out for all to see. It wouldn’t let him go.
He reached up and touched the dry brown specks on his cheek; Lisa’s blood was all he had left of her, save a few photos, trinkets, and some of her clothes. It was macabre and disgusting, but how could he wash it away down the drain as if she’d meant nothing to him when she’d been the most important person in his whole world? That would be the final betrayal. He hadn’t been there to protect her when she’d needed him, and he hadn’t saved her despite all the promises he’d made. He’d failed her in every way possible, and now…
How long he huddled, wedged in between the side of the bath and the sink, rocking back and forth, sobbing, tears streaming down his face to mingle with Lisa’s blood and drip from his chin, he didn’t know, couldn’t even remember squeezing himself in there, but a thin stream of daylight was creeping slowly across the floor when he finally regained his senses. He drew a deep, shaky breath and nearly choked on it; he stank of stale sweat and rancid blood, and god only knew what else from the fully clothed dip he’d taken in the slimy water of the Rift pool… was it really only the previous evening?
Struggling to his feet, wincing as cramped muscles protested and sensation returned to parts numbed by lack of circulation, Ianto avoided looking in the mirror, not wanting to see how much worse he must look now, eyes red and swollen from crying, face sallow and puffy from exhaustion. He couldn’t face anyone right now, the state he was in, but least of all himself. His memory was patchy but he clearly recalled becoming mesmerised by the sight of his own almost unrecognisable face; couldn’t let that happen again, not now.
Leaving the bathroom, he fetched a roll of black bin bags from the cupboard under the kitchen sink, tore off and opened several, and took them with him back to the bathroom. Stripping methodically after emptying his pockets of keys, wallet, change, and phone, he put all his clothing in the first bag, including his ruined shoes, squeezing out the air and tying the top as tightly as he could. That bag went inside a second with the top tied, then a third, a forth, a fifth, until he was sure the stench would be contained for now. Dried blood was flaking off his hands; he’d need to clean the floor later, but he needed to take care of himself first.
Stepping into the bathtub, he hesitated, staring one more at Lisa’s blood, caked under his fingernails. Lisa was gone; there was no way of bringing her back and her blood was nothing more than organic filth. She’d always hated the sight of blood anyway, closing her eyes or looking away if she cut herself, hurrying to rinse the injury under the tap, wash away the bright red droplets. She’d be horrified if she could he him now, smeared with dried blood and dithering like this. Reaching up, he turned on the shower, listening to the rattles and clunks of the plumbing. He didn’t bother to wait for the hot water to come through, just stepped under the spray, reached for the shower gel, and started scrubbing himself clean.
Right now the future was uncertain, there was no way of knowing what Jack would decide to do about him after what he’d done, harbouring a monster in Torchwood’s secure base. Likely Jack hadn’t decided what to do with him yet, whether it would be execution, or Retcon, or something else entirely. Ianto wasn’t even sure he cared; with Lisa dead he had nothing left to live for. But he owed it to her memory to face whatever came next the best way he could. If nothing else, at least he could make sure he was clean and tidy; then maybe he could look his own reflection in the eye without fear of what he’d see there.