Characters: Ianto, Lisa.
Word Count: 741
Spoilers: Cyberwoman, Fragments.
Summary: Even in his dreams, Ianto can’t escape from the game he’s playing.
Written For: Challenge #154: Hide And Seek at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
In his dreams, Ianto is always searching for Lisa; although he can’t see her, he can hear her laughter, and her voice. It sounds like she’s teasing him, but he can’t make out her words; they seem to be coming from a long way off, and there are echoes endlessly resounding through the white-walled corridors of the tower, so that what reaches him is a meaningless jumble of sound, giving no clue to which direction he should go.
Intermittently, as he wanders from floor to floor, and through countless rooms, he hears the heavy thump of metal feet, sometimes slightly muffled by the hardwearing carpet used throughout the office levels, other times sharper and clearer, marching across the easy to clean tiles of the labs. It’s a sound that scares him for reasons he doesn’t understand, and when he hears it, he hides. He knows he mustn’t let those footsteps catch up to him, but he can’t remember why, and he forgets all about them the moment they pass out of earshot.
They’re not important to him anyway; all that really matters is finding Lisa, so he keeps searching, never encountering a single other person in the whole of the vast building. At the back of his mind, he’s aware that he should find the absence of other people disturbing; he knows the building is always staffed, both day and night. Ianto dismisses the vague, nagging concern; the only person he wants to see is Lisa, so what does it matter if nobody else is there?
He has no idea why he and Lisa are playing hide and seek in Torchwood One’s headquarters. He’s sure there must be a good reason, but when he tries to figure it out, it slips away from him, like trying to grasp fog, and after what feels like an eternity, he finally stops trying. He needs to concentrate on his search; he can’t afford to waste time or effort.
The tower has fifty floors above ground, several more below, and the whole place is like a maze. Rooms and corridors and stairways lead one to another in endless succession, Lisa could be anywhere, and why is she hiding from him anyway? Her voice sounds like it’s coming from the next room, but when he gets there, she’s gone and next time he hears it her voice is faint with distance. Doesn’t she want to be found? The game isn’t fun anymore, and yet he has to continue, there’s no other choice; Ianto knows it won’t be over until he finds her.
An irritatingly incessant beeping noise drags him from sleep, confused and disoriented in the dim light, and he blinks, rubbing sleep from his eyes. For several long moments he has no recollection of where he is or how he got there, and then the vague shapes around him start to coalesce into recognisable objects and his heart lurches in his chest as he stares at the conversion unit. He knows the figure lying silent and unmoving, hooked up to the machine by wires and tubes, is Lisa, but she’s barely recognisable, parts of her encased in silver metal.
He remembers his dreams, the endless, increasingly desperate game of hide and seek. In reality, his search had ended when he’d found the woman he loved, strapped to a machine, being systematically torn apart and rebuilt into something else, something that wasn’t completely human anymore.
But it’s still not really over, not yet. Lisa is still being hidden from him, her mind trapped within her disfigured body, and her once slender form buried beneath cold metal armour and cybernetic implants.
The game hasn’t ended, only changed, and now he’s playing both roles. He’s become the one doing the hiding, concealing Lisa in this poorly lit, damp little room deep in the bowels of Torchwood Three, all the while keeping what he’s doing from being discovered by his new colleagues. But he’s still the seeker too, searching for someone capable of restoring his love to the vibrant and beautiful woman she once was. Balancing his multiple roles is getting harder every day. He can’t remember how it feels to not be exhausted, but sleep brings him little rest.
He’s twenty-three years old, feeling the weight of the world pressing down on him, and he’s playing a game he can’t afford to lose. But worse than that, he’s no longer so sure there’s any way he can win.