Characters: Ianto, Lisa, Others.
Spoilers: Cyberwoman, Countrycide.
Summary: Ianto always loved the countryside, but now his perspective has been changed.
Word Count: 1014
Written For: Challenge 80: Wide at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Back when he was just a boy, growing up on the estate, Ianto had revelled in the wide-open spaces of the countryside, and the Brecon Beacons in particular. He had a host of fond memories from his childhood of family days out during the school holidays. There were trips to the beach and to local parks, of course, but the majority involved getting out into the country and going for long hikes through the wilderness, hiking being an activity that cost very little. Money had often been tight back then, but it hadn’t mattered to Ianto; a packed picnic lunch for him and his family, and a tattered, dog-eared book on the flora and fauna of Wales had been all he’d needed. No matter how many times they went hiking, for him it was always an exciting adventure, full of wonderful discoveries.
His enthusiasm for the countryside stayed with him through his teens, when he’d grab his book, a sandwich, a bottle of pop, and a battered pair of binoculars he’d got at a jumble sale and cycle off to explore the closest rural areas to where he lived. By that time it had become an escape for him on the days when his tad was drinking too much, or hungover. It was the closest thing to freedom he could find, and it brought back memories of happier times, giving him hope that someday things might get better again.
Moving to London a few years later, he’d left the countryside far behind, but there were still parks for him to explore, and when the big city weighed on him the most he could escape to Wimbledon Common. After a year or so, he was recruited by Torchwood, and there he met Lisa, discovering in her a kindred spirit. Whenever they could, they’d take off for the country for a day, or a weekend, often camping if they were staying for a night or two. Lisa shared Ianto’s love of nature, and of unspoiled areas where you could see for miles. She was athletic, and enjoyed pitting herself against rough terrain as much as he did. During those two blissful years, his life was as close to idyllic as he could ever have imagined it being, and he was filled with hope for the future, with his beautiful Lisa by his side.
But then everything started to fall apart; the Battle of Canary Wharf happened, Lisa was partially converted, and he had to flee with her, trying to find a way to undo what the Cybermen had done to his beloved. In retrospect, his failure had been inevitable; he simply hadn’t wanted to accept that she was already lost to him, and his refusal to see the truth had cost lives. He was just lucky that only two people had died through his stupidity. It could have been so much worse.
During his suspension, once he’d pulled himself together a bit, he’d started going on long walks again, needing to get away from the claustrophobic confines of his tiny flat. At first he’d wandered aimlessly around Cardiff, but then, craving an escape from the people and noise of the city, he’d headed out into the country again, where the open spaces and the endless sky stretched wide above him eased the constriction in his chest and made him feel he could breathe again.
Roaming the countryside also brought back happy memories, of both his carefree childhood and of the times he’d spent with Lisa, strolling along, holding hands, and pointing out things of interest to each other. They’d left adulthood behind them in the city and mucked about like a pair of kids, rolling in the grass, splashing through streams or jumping over hem, chasing each other amongst the trees, sometimes even climbing them to swing from the branches, laughing all the time… Those were good memories to have, a balm to soothe the grief he felt over her loss; better to remember her as she had been when they’d been so happy, vibrantly alive and in love, than as she was those last few months, half encased in metal, strapped to the machine that enabled her to breathe, and in constant pain.
Returning to work after his suspension was difficult, and at first he clung to his recent memories of green fields and trees, and the freshness of the country air, just to sustain himself through the first couple of weeks. But gradually it grew easier; the people he worked with started to treat him more normally, and if they still didn’t trust him completely, for which he could hardly blame them, at least they were making an effort to be nicer to him. They even started to include him more, not only in conversations but on group outings for a meal or drinks after work. He didn’t always accept, but he appreciated the invitations nonetheless. Slowly, he began to feel as though he belonged and wasn’t just there on sufferance.
Then the whole incident with the cannibals happened, and in the space of a mere twenty-four hours the countryside, which had been his refuge from the stresses and sadnesses of his life for so long, was turned against him. The wide-open spaces he’d once equated with freedom now seemed to loom threateningly, making him feel exposed, while the trees and rocks provided hiding places where all manner of dangers might lurk. Even the wind, which he’d always found exhilarating in its wildness, now whispered eerily though the trees, or howled mournfully between the rocks, making a chill run down his spine.
He was plunged into grief again in addition to the horror he’d witnessed and the ordeal he’d been put through, this time mourning the loss of the sense of peace and contentment the countryside had always brought him, and the tarnishing of all his happy memories. The worst part was that he had no idea if he would ever be able to get past his new distrust of strangers and regain what the cannibals has stolen from him; his peace of mind.