Characters: Ianto, Jack, Lisa, Team.
Summary: Jack hasn’t told Ianto he can’t go out, he just can’t face the world again quite yet.
Word Count: 1353
Written For: Challenge 2: Reverse Fandom M*A*S*H at ficlet_zone, using “House Arrest”
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
On paper, Jack had it down as one month’s suspension from duty, with pay, while privately, after the first few days or so, he’d told Ianto to consider the time off as being more along the lines of compassionate leave, time to grieve for his losses and hopefully give some thought to his future. To Ianto, it felt more like he was under house arrest. Jack hadn’t specifically told him he couldn’t leave his flat, hadn’t so much as hinted at it, but going outside and facing the world, knowing that not only was Lisa gone for good but that through his foolish actions every person he encountered would have been either deleted or converted if Jack and the others hadn’t killed the cyberman… How could he face other people knowing his naivety had come so perilously close to costing them their lives? The fact that they had no idea they’d come so close to death because of him was immaterial; he knew, and he’d seen firsthand the carnage cybermen could wreak.
He didn’t deserve freedom.
The first time he’d visited, Jack had given Ianto some options to consider; not that he had many choices. He’d been told that he could have his memories altered so he would think Lisa had been killed outright at Canary Wharf and everything since then had just been nightmares caused by PTSD; that would allow him to continue working for Torchwood Three, but without the burden of guilt he carried now. He could have all his memories of Torchwood erased and be set up with a new life, perhaps across the channel in Bristol, never to remember Lisa or anything that had happened; a whole new start, but with a huge gap in his memories. Or he could remember everything and try to make amends, hoping that one day his colleagues might forgive him even if he was sure he could never forgive himself.
In many respects, the third option was the least appealing. He’d have to carry around the guilt and shame of what he’d done for the rest of his life, have to witness the wariness and suspicion in the eyes of the people he worked with on a daily basis, knowing he might never be forgiven or regain their trust. Not that he felt he deserved any kindness on their part. The other two options would allow him to move forward, relatively unburdened, which was tempting, but… He didn’t want to forget Lisa, and he didn’t want to forget Jack, and if he asked to have his memories altered, he’d forever be wondering why the others regarded him with such suspicion and mistrust. Unless Jack intended to alter their memories as well, which would more or less be like punishing the rest of the team for his actions. He couldn’t have that.
Where did that leave him? Option three, obviously; remember everything and go back to work once his suspension was over. As unappealing as that idea was, it struck his as the more honourable course of action; it was the only way he could try to make amends to those he’d betrayed and lied to. Nothing he could do would make up for the deaths Lisa had caused though. No, not Lisa; the cyberman pretending to be the woman he loved. Despite not having killed them with his own two hands, Ianto held himself responsible for what had happened to Doctor Tanizaki and poor Annie. If he hadn’t been so blindly determined to save Lisa, they’d both still be living their lives instead of dead and hidden away in Torchwood’s morgue, their families and friends never knowing their fate.
In his darker moments, Ianto wondered whether that was where he should be too, tucked away in cold storage where he could never, whether directly or indirectly, cause harm to another living soul. Being alive had never felt like such a heavy burden until now. Isolating himself from everyone was only a temporary measure; sooner or later he’d have to leave his private prison, go out and face the world again, meet people, and try to be ‘normal’. He wasn’t sure if he could do that, but he suspected Jack wouldn’t give him any choice. In the end, he’d have to do as he was told or suffer the consequences, whatever they might be.
Not yet though, he still had three weeks of his suspension to go. Three more weeks of waking up every morning, remembering Lisa was gone, and forcing himself to get out of bed, shower, dress, and eat. Three more weeks of spending his days sitting on the sofa in his living room, with the curtains closed, staring sightlessly at the TV, his mind constantly replaying everything that had happened since the destruction of Torchwood One. Three more weeks of wallowing in grief and guilt, too ashamed to show his face outside. Three more weeks of relying on Jack to bring food he had to force himself to eat. He felt so numb inside that he couldn’t remember what it was like to be hungry, or happy, or hopeful.
All the time he’d been caring for Lisa, it had been hope that had kept him going. Hope that he could find someone to heal her, restore her to how she’d been before. Hope for their future together, far away from Torchwood. Hope for marriage, and children, and a long life of shared happiness. Hope that was gone now, erased by the fact that everything he’d been holding onto, including Lisa herself, had been a cruel illusion fostered by a monster, an impossible dream that never had the smallest chance of coming true. Every time he thought about his lost hopes and dreams it made him feel like crying, but sometime over the last couple of days he seemed to have run out of tears. Maybe he wasn’t drinking enough. Perhaps he should get up and fetch a glass of water.
The effort of doing so didn’t seem worth the rewards. He wasn’t thirsty, as far as he could tell, and did he really want to give himself fuel enough to produce more tears? Crying over Lisa hadn’t made him feel any better thus far, so why would it now? Besides, he’d only just sat down, hadn’t he? Or was that this morning?
Judging by what was on TV, it was around mid-afternoon. Jack would be along sometime this evening, just like he had been every day since Ianto’s suspension had begun; perhaps he’d bring takeout, or groceries from the supermarket, stocking the cupboards and the freezer with tins of soup and microwave ready meals. He’d ask Ianto how he was feeling, Ianto would say he was fine, and they’d both know it was a lie. Then Jack would ramble on about Torchwood and the team, Ianto would grunt occasionally, they’d eat whatever food Jack had picked up, and after an hour or so, Jack would leave again, same as always.
Closing his eyes, the TV nattering away to itself in the background, Ianto though back over the events since Canary Wharf one more time, trying to figure out if there was anything he could have done differently, trying to identify the exact moment Lisa had stopped being Lisa, trying to make sense of things that didn’t make sense no matter how much he thought about them. Lisa was gone and there was no way of getting her back, no way of resurrecting the future they’d planned. All that was left for him to do now was attempt to put his life back together, piece by tiny piece, and in the process, do what he could to make amends for all the mistakes he’d made. And tomorrow, or next week, or the week after that, maybe he’d finally find the courage to end his self-imposed house arrest and step out into the world once more. No matter how tempting it was, deep down he knew he couldn’t hide himself away like this forever. Life would go on for him, whether he liked it or not. It was what Lisa would have wanted.