Characters: Ianto, Lisa, Others.
Spoilers: Fragments, Cyberwoman.
Summary: Surviving the Battle of Canary Wharf is perhaps not the stroke of good fortune that most people seem to think.
Word Count: 788
Written For: juliet316’s prompt ‘Author's choice, author's choice, they were the supposed lucky ones... they survived,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
They were the lucky ones, everyone said so, both those who knew what had really happened that day at Canary Wharf and those who believed it had been some kind of terrorist attack. Over eight hundred people had been working in the tower that day, and only a little over half that number of bodies were ever recovered, the rest presumably burned to ashes along with everything else in the building. And then there were the others, the ones who came out alive if not unharmed. That pitifully small band numbered just twenty-seven; they’d seen Hell come to earth, they’d lost friends, and colleagues, and in some cases loved ones, but they’d been fortunate enough to survive.
Afterwards it was all over the news, such terrible devastation and loss of life. Members of the public talked about all the hundreds of poor people who’d died that day, and wasn’t it tragic? But what about the survivors? Such lucky people, surely they were grateful, happy to still be among the living, relieved to have been spared from suffering the same fate as all those less fortunate souls who’d lost their lives.
Nobody asked the survivors how they felt, of course; they were whisked away for medical treatment, their memories erased by powerful drugs, but they were Torchwood personnel, and while the drugs worked on some of them, they didn’t work on all. Some remembered, and they didn’t feel lucky at all, haunted by the screams of the dying and the voices of the metal monsters that had turned their world into a nightmare vision of Hell. Some of them didn’t survive for very long, unable to live with their horrific memories.
A few of the least damaged were recruited by UNIT, the organisation having some vague idea that they might get access to at least some of Torchwood One’s secrets that way, but those who did remember anything had never known much to start with, not having had particularly high security clearances at Torchwood Tower.
The rest of the survivors, those deemed too seriously damaged, either physically or mentally, got severance pay and that was that. Lucky survivors? Not so much. They were cast away like yesterday’s newspaper; no use to anyone, they were simply left to fend for themselves. Few people had ever even known their names.
There were two other survivors though, two who didn’t get counted, having made a bold escape practically under the noses of the UNIT guards: a young man of barely twenty-three, and what was left of his girlfriend, which frankly wasn’t much, even though he didn’t know that at the time. The man didn’t consider his girlfriend lucky, though he may have thought himself fortunate since he’d managed not only to find her amid the chaos of fire and death but also to get her out of the tower, and then out of the city, for all the good that did either of them. He tried his best to protect her, tried to find a way to heal her, but in the end he was doomed to fail. There wasn’t enough left of her to save; cyber conversion is a very thorough process and it can’t be reversed.
Ianto Jones remembers it all, and most nights the events of that terrible day play themselves out in his dreams. All too often he wakes terrified and screaming, thinking he’s still there searching for Lisa amid the flames and the smoke and the rivers of blood, while soulless metal monsters clank past his hiding place and he tries desperately hard to stay silent and still so he won’t be discovered.
Time heals, or so people say, but living with the memories of the massacre is hard. He avoids sleep when he can, taking refuge in work so that he doesn’t have to think or remember. Maybe some day it will have the desired effect. In the meantime, and with the help of Torchwood Three’s leader, he tracks down the survivors who haven’t taken their own lives, those who weren’t recruited by UNIT, and does what he can to help them. Most of them are people he never knew personally, but it doesn’t matter; he feels a sense of duty towards them regardless, because in the end, despite everything, he was more fortunate than they were. He still has his memory, his mind and body are mostly whole, and he at least has some hope for the future.
As he looks over the files of those who are still alive, the ones left permanently crippled or incurably insane, locked away in mental institutions for their own safety, he reflects that sometimes the luckiest ones are those who don’t survive. For them the nightmare is over.