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Ianto Little Smile

February 2023



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Fic: Penance

Title: Penance
Author: badly_knitted
Characters: Ianto, Lisa, mentions Jack, Team.
Rating: PG
Word Count: 934
Spoilers: Cyberwoman.
Summary: Ianto knows he needs to make amends for hiding a cyberman from the team, but that doesn’t make it any easier to do.
Written For: Challenge 255: Amnesty at fan_flashworks, using Challenge 145: Metal. Also for the ‘Purgatory’ square on my bingo card.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.

Since the execution of what had once been Lisa, coming into the Hub each day has felt like passing through the gates of Hell, or perhaps more like entering purgatory. Ianto nods slightly to himself as he gets on with cleaning up the mess left by the rest of the team; yes, that’s a more apt description. The Hub is where he pays for his sins, trying to make amends for being a blind fool and believing everything ‘Lisa’ told him. He should have seen it was the cyber implants that were controlling what was left of his girlfriend. How had he not realised that Lisa was already gone, far beyond his reach?

He has so much to make up for; he’d brought a monster into Torchwood’s base of operations, a thing made of metal and flesh that was no longer human, even though it had still resembled the woman it had once been. That had been bad enough, but then he’d compounded his sins by tending it, nurturing it, and finally bringing in an expert to free it from its dependence on the conversion unit that acted as its lungs…

True cybermen have no need to breathe, they’re simply silver metal robots under the control of an implanted human brain; they don’t eat, or drink, or sleep, or draw breath in order to speak, and they feel nothing, no physical sensations and no emotions. During the battle of Canary Wharf, however, constructing a robot army would have taken too long and resources were limited. They’d needed bodies ready to join the battle immediately, so the cybermen had deemed it more efficient to carry out partial conversions. But the patchwork creatures that had resulted were unsurprisingly weaker than their wholly metal brethren. Their organs had to continue to function, run by an internal power source, but Lisa’s conversion had been incomplete, even by the standards of the other half-human, half-cyber troops.

As long as she’d been hooked up to the life support system she’d instructed Ianto to build out of parts taken from a conversion unit, Cyber-Lisa had been powerless to act, but once Doctor Tanizaki had enabled her to breathe on her own everything had changed. She’d no longer needed to rely on Ianto for care and protection, she’d been free to act on her own, first trying to reward the doctor by upgrading him, and then killing Annie and stealing her body, so she and Ianto could be upgraded together.

That somewhere deep inside the cyber’s brain there had still been a tiny fragment of Lisa clinging to her identity had been a sickening revelation. Or had that been merely another cyberman trick, trying to convince Ianto to take its side, to help it further? He no longer knew what to believe; he’d been stupidly naïve, but the cyberman had been so convincing, ensuring his compliance by using Lisa’s voice and memories against him.

Maybe that was why it had never occurred to him to wonder how Lisa could know so much about the conversion units when engineering wasn’t her field, and she’d never come across such technology before. He’d been so stupid, blocking all such discrepancies from his mind, determined to save the woman he loved, positive that if only the cyber implants could be removed, and all the cold metal plating prised from her ravaged body, she’d eventually heal and be his Lisa again. He’d let himself be duped because he hadn’t been able to face the possibility of losing her.

Thinking back over the events of that awful day, Ianto’s shoulders slump; it’s a miracle Jack didn’t execute him on the spot. Because of him one of the most dangerous aliens in the universe had got loose in a place where technology was housed that was more advanced than anything available elsewhere on earth. If the rest of the team hadn’t managed to stop it, the cyberman would have had everything it needed close to hand to begin constructing an army with which to take over the world and destroy humanity.

That’s why Jack didn’t execute him, of course; it would have been too easy. Death is such a quick punishment, the suffering too brief. Ianto knows he deserves to suffer for his lies and betrayal, for bringing so much danger down on not just the team but the whole world, and for the deaths of Annie and Doctor Tanizaki. Purgatory is where he belongs, working to make amends for all of his many sins, and he’ll do so without complaint for the rest of his life if that’s what it takes.

He reminds himself that purgatory isn’t necessarily eternal; perhaps if he tries hard enough for long enough, he’ll serve out his penance and be redeemed. Perhaps eventually coming to work will cease being a deserved punishment and become something to be looked forward to, as it had sometimes felt before the cyberman had gone on the rampage, working among people who weren’t merely colleagues but possibly his friends. That faint hope gives him something positive to work towards, makes bearable the long days of being constantly monitored and regarded with suspicion by the people he works alongside. He knows he still has a long way to go, he’s only been back from his suspension for a couple of weeks; it’s still early days and there are times when grief and sorrow drown out his guilt and shame, but he won’t falter. Whatever it takes he’ll prove to the team, and especially to Jack, that he’ll never let them down again. It’s the only thing he can do.

The End


I like to think that despite his justifiable anger, Jack came to realise that Ianto did what he did out of love. Owen would have done the same if he could have tried to save Katie. Tosh bless her wanted to save her mother. Eventually they all understood and forgave him, accepting how much he was suffering, Gwen, I'm not so sure. She never had to make the choice to save Rhys
I think you must be right, otherwise the changes in Ianto and his relationships with the other characters would have had no chance to occur.

Gwen I doubt ever understood though.

Thank you!