Characters: Ianto, Lisa, Jack, Owen, Team.
Spoilers: Cyberwoman, Countrycide.
Summary: According to Jack, the trip to the Brecon Beacons was supposed to help Ianto feel more like a member of the team, but it’s just making him feel lonelier than ever.
Word Count: 1362
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, any, You don't need to be alone to feel lonely,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
The area Jack had picked out for their camp was sheltered by nearby hills, but they were still out in the backend of nowhere, miles from the nearest farmhouse, never mind actual civilisation. Ianto didn’t mind the countryside, he liked going hiking whenever he got the opportunity, he and Lisa had been a reasonably outdoorsy couple, but without even the facilities provided by an official campsite, conditions were going to be seriously primitive. Hopefully it would only be for a night or two.
Ianto wasn’t sure why Jack had dragged him out here with the rest of the team; he was the handyman and butler, not a field agent. Jack had said something about wanting to make him feel more like he fit in, and that the trip would be a good team-building exercise, but Ianto suspected it was more about Jack nor trusting him enough to leave him alone in the Hub while the rest of them weren’t there.
Whatever. He would have preferred being alone, it would have suited his mood better, but he hadn’t been given a choice and since he was here, he supposed he should make himself useful setting up the tents. It wasn’t as if the others had a clue what to do, with the possible exception of Jack who seemed able to turn his hand to most tasks, like a true Jack-of-all-trades. Ianto shook his head tiredly; he couldn’t even manage a smirk at his own inner play on words.
Ianto pitched one tent, mostly by himself, while Jack by turns instructed, assisted, and outright bullied a reluctant Owen to set up the other one, abandoning him once the job was almost finished and only a few tent pegs remained to be hammered in. ‘So much for making me feel like part of the team,’ Ianto thought morosely. Nobody had said more than two words to him since he’d climbed out of the SUV and started unloading their gear like a good little servant. He didn’t know why he was surprised; that was all he was to them anyway.
Being ignored and overlooked was nothing new to Ianto; he’d grown accustomed to it over the eight months or so since he’d wheedled his way into Torchwood. It had served his purposes back then to go unnoticed, but now it just made him feel the loneliness that had swamped him when he’d lost Lisa even more keenly than when he was on his own. He’d never realised before just how lonely it was possible to feel when surrounded by people. The others were always talking to each other, but there were times Ianto had been compelled to check his reflection, just to make certain he hadn’t turned invisible.
It hadn’t been like that when he’d had Lisa with him; she’d always seen him, her warm brown eyes lighting up with happiness and a smile curving her lips. He wished she were here with him now; she’d have loved this, getting back to nature. Until Lisa, he’d never met anyone who enjoyed camping so much, and as he checked to make sure the second tent was anchored securely, for a few minutes he was back on that beach in France, their last camping holiday together. He didn’t even need to close his eyes; he could see it all as clearly as if he was still there and the last thirteen months had never happened.
They’d driven along the coast as soon as they’d come off the ferry, found a deserted stretch of beach far away from any signs of habitation, and pulled off the road to eat the packed lunch they’d brought with them, washing it down with the bottle of wine he’d grabbed on their way through the ferry terminal. After eating they’d lazed around for a bit, then taken a dip in the chilly sea before chasing each other up and down the beach to warm themselves up and dry off.
Before they’d known it, the sun was setting and Ianto didn’t have a clue where they were, or how far it was to the nearest town. They were using Lisa’s car and she didn’t have a satnav, claiming she didn’t trust them and preferred to navigate the old-fashioned way, with maps and signposts. She never bothered about getting lost and that sort of thing, just telling him, “We know where we are, we’re right here, together. What does is matter if we don’t know where anyone else is? As long as we have each other, we’re all we’ll ever need. Let the rest of the world take care of itself. Life’s more of an adventure this way.” He’d loved her all the more for her carefree spirit, she was the most amazing woman he’d ever met and he'd never understood what she saw in him.
He checked his watch and winced when he saw how late it was. “We mucked about too long, Lise. By the time we drive to a town it’ll probably be too late to check into a hotel, and that’s even assuming we can find anywhere with vacancies. We should’ve booked in advance.”
Lisa laughed. “Ianto, my love, who said anything about staying in a hotel? We’ve got our camping gear in the boot, so we can just pitch the tent right here on the beach. Besides, how could we have booked in advance when we hadn’t even decided to go away for the bank holiday until two days ago?”
“Good point, as usual,” Ianto smiled, wrapping his arms around Lisa, pulling her close and resting his chin on the top of her head as he gazed out across the windswept beach. “But camping at the beginning of May… Isn’t that a bit daft? The wind’s getting up and it’s already chilly. Once the sun sets completely it’ll be bloody freezing.”
“We’ll just have to find ways of keeping each other warm then, won’t we? Come on, we’d better get the tent up while we can still see what we’re doing. Race you to the car!” Pulling out of his arms, Lisa raced off along the sand, laughing, heading back along the beach to where they’d parked. As Ianto ran after her, it occurred to him that they must have wandered farther than he’d realised; he couldn’t see the car, or even the road. There was no sound of traffic, only wind, waves, the occasional seabird, and Lisa’s laughter drifting back to him as they ran. They might have been the only living people in existence and for an instant he’d half wished they could stay there forever, just the two of them with no responsibilities and all the time in the world.
Dragging himself back to the present, Ianto surreptitiously wiped at his face with one hand, brushing away the traces of tears from his cheeks so nobody would see. Not that the others were paying any more attention to him than they usually did. He straightened up slowly, easing the kinks out of his back and scanning the makeshift campsite. The rest of the camping gear still needed to be unpacked and he doubted the others would lift a finger to help, just leaving it to him as always. The thought stung; he’d never felt lonelier, or more alone, in his life, never felt less like part of the team.
If he walked away from camp would any of the others even notice he was gone? Probably not, they were too caught up in their own petty squabbles and rivalries, but suddenly he couldn’t stand being ignored any longer. Lisa was dead, killed by the people he worked alongside every day. Only a short time had passed since they’d torn his world apart and yet they already seemed to have forgotten. Well, lucky them; it wasn’t something he could forget so easily, but how could he make them notice him, see that he existed and that he had feelings? That he was still hurting from what they’d done, even though he knew now that they’d had no other choice?
All he really wanted now was to not feel so completely alone. Was that really so much to ask?