Characters: Ianto, Jack, Lisa, Team, OCs.
Spoilers: Fragments, Cyberwoman.
Word Count: 1628
Summary: When he was younger, all Ianto wanted was to escape Wales for London. Now he’s in London and all he wants is to go home.
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 17: Song Titles: Jerry Jeff Walker at ficlet_zone, using ‘London Homesick Blues’.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
There’d been a time, back when Ianto was young and still searching for some kind of purpose in life, when he couldn’t wait to get away from Wales. Newport and the council estate had been his prison, stifling him, offering only the bleakest of futures; the dole or a dead-end job in a factory, probably getting one of the estate girls knocked up along the way and either moving into a council flat with her or paying child support he couldn’t afford, just like most of the guys he’d gone to school with.
His father’s death had given him the impetus to escape before his fate was sealed, and the first chance he’d got he’d headed straight for London, the Big Smoke, determined to make a better life for himself than he could have back on the estate. He’d even succeeded for a while.
Oh, not right away of course, the first few months had been rough, living in squats, taking whatever work he could get, but then Torchwood had found and recruited him. After that he’d thought nothing could stop him hitting the big time. He’d worked hard at his job, and the pay had been more than generous, enabling him to rent a nice one-bedroom flat in a good area of the city, buy some smart suits, make himself really look the part of an ambitious and successful young executive.
And then there’d been Lisa, beautiful, classy, and smart… Obviously way too good for a lowly council estate boy like him, but then she hadn’t known about his old life when they’d first stared dating, and when he had finally got up the nerve to tell her, she’d told him she didn’t care who he used to be, because she loved the man he was now. For eighteen months he’d ridden a shooting star, sure that he’d find himself on the fast track for promotion before he knew it, and honestly believing that nothing could stop him from achieving anything he wanted in life. Everyone who mattered agreed he had a bright future ahead of him.
They’d been wrong of course; his good luck hadn’t lasted. Just when he’d been confident that everything was falling into place and every dream he’d ever had was almost within his reach, his world had been turned upside down. Hell had come to earth in the shape of a marching metal army intent on converting humanity into more of themselves, and a horde of malevolent alien pepper pots determined to destroy all life forms but their own.
Ianto and the people he worked with had been trapped between two deadly forces as destruction rained down on the once pristine tower that was Torchwood’s head office. Everywhere he’d looked people had been dying in agony, converted, exterminated, or just plain trampled to death by their panicking colleagues, all of them trying desperately to escape the flames and the deadly alien invaders.
Most of them had failed.
Lisa had failed.
But the process had yet to be completed when Ianto had finally found her. Despite the implants and the metal exoskeleton welded to her body she’d still been his Lisa; he’d seen it in her eyes. Desperate, terrified, in agony, she’d begged him to save her, and he’d done all he could, pulling her from the machine, bloody and broken. Her slender body had been half encased in cold, ugly metal, so she’d looked like some half human, half robot monstrosity, but it hadn’t mattered; he’d been determined to save her, to at least salvage the woman he loved from that living hell, even if he couldn’t save anyone else.
With her strapped to a hastily cobbled together life-support unit in the back of a nondescript van, Ianto had turned tail and run. Fleeing from the bright lights of the big city, and from the wreckage of his hopes and dreams for a better future, he’d crawled back to Wales, where he’d come from, but not back to the estate; he’d known there’d be no help for Lisa there. Instead, he’d made for Cardiff and the one place he might be able to find what he needed to restore his girlfriend.
The Welsh capital was so much smaller than London, just as Torchwood Three was smaller than Torchwood One, merely an outpost, only there to monitor the Rift. But that small outpost had represented Ianto’s best chance of saving Lisa and so he’d taken it. What else could he have done?
And he’d tried so hard to help her, taking care of her, administering painkillers and sedatives, promising he’d find a way to fix her, make her well and whole again.
It had been hopeless from the start, but that was something Ianto had only fully understood after the fact, after the people he’d been working with for months had gunned down the monster Lisa had become, destroying what was left of his hopes and dreams in the process.
For a while, Ianto had expected to die too, either to fade away from the overwhelming grief of loss and the sudden lack of purpose, or to be executed for his crime of harbouring a Cyberman. At the very least he’d expected to have his memories stripped away, a fate worse than death.
None of those things had happened; against all odds, he’d found himself forgiven by the people he’d betrayed. He’d even been allowed to keep his job, and gradually, inch-by-inch, he’d rebuilt his life.
It hadn’t been easy, but he hadn’t had to do it alone, because despite his boss’s initial rage Jack had been there for him, and so had the rest of the team, each in his or her own way. Grief had lain heavy on Ianto’s shoulders though, along with guilt and shame over the danger he’d put everyone in, and the deaths Lisa had caused, but in time it had grown easier to bear and life had once more become worth living.
He and Jack had grown closer again, this time without the spectre of Lisa hanging between them. Gradually Ianto had realised it was possible to love again after loss. Gradually, he’d accepted that maybe he’d loved Jack all along, ever since they’d caught a prehistoric flying reptile and wound up rolling about on a cold, hard warehouse floor together.
Ianto sighed, thinking back over the events of the past few years. A lot had happened, some of it so bad he still had nightmares about it, but a lot of it had been good, especially recently. Only now here he was, back in London, the city he’d once believed would make all his dreams come true, and all he wanted was to be back in Cardiff, with Jack and their friends. Less than twenty-four hours into his four-day trip, with hours of meetings and sensitive negotiations ahead of him, and he was already homesick.
He pulled out his phone, right there on the pavement outside his hotel as he waited for the car that would take him to UNIT HQ, and called Jack’s number. His captain picked up almost immediately.
“Ianto! Is everything alright in London?”
“Yes, everything’s fine so far, HM sends her love, I just… I wanted to hear your voice before I have to go and deal with UNIT. I miss you.” There’d been a time when he would have been too embarrassed, and too unsure of his lover’s feelings for him, to make such an admission, but not anymore.
“I miss you too; I wish I could’ve gone with you.”
“We both know that wouldn’t have been a good idea; can’t have you and General Prentice in the same room without him going a very unflattering shade of purple and almost blowing a fuse. You’re not good for his blood pressure.”
“That man has anger management issues.”
“You hit on his wife, his son, his pregnant daughter, and his son-in-law in the space of five minutes.” Even Jack’s flirting failed to worry Ianto now.
“He should have been flattered. How does a guy who looks like a sunburned walrus manage to surround himself with so many beautiful people?”
“You think everyone’s beautiful.”
“Not General Prentice.”
Ianto could practically see the disgusted expression on his lover’s face. “Well, I suppose there are exceptions to every rule.” A car pulled up in front of him and a uniformed UNIT private leapt out to open the rear door for him. “Got to go, my car’s here; I’ll talk to you tonight.”
“If you don’t call me I’ll call you. Love you!”
“Love you too.” Putting his phone away, Ianto slid into the rear seat and the private slammed the door behind him before jumping into the front seat. Sinking back into the leather upholstery, Ianto sighed. It was hard to remember why he’d once thought London was the only place for an ambitious young man to live; it was overcrowded, expensive, polluted, and couldn’t hold a candle to Cardiff, with the fresh, salty air coming in off the sea. “I’ve got the London homesick blues,” he muttered.
“What was that, sir?”
“Nothing, just saying a little prayer for strength before my meeting with your boss. I hope the coffee this time will be drinkable; the last time I was here it tasted like tar and was so thick you could have filled in potholes with it.”
“Yes, sir.” Whether the young private was agreeing with him about the coffee or just trying to be polite Ianto was unsure, but it hardly mattered. The car pulled away from the kerb and Ianto closed his eyes, thoughts of Jack and home filling his head. Only three more days and then he’d be on the train back to Cardiff. He could hardly wait.