Title: A Different Path. (Part 1 of 2)
Characters/Pairings: Ianto/Lisa, 9th Doctor.
Fandom: Doctor Who/Torchwood. (AU from Parting of the Ways for Doctor Who, and for all of Torchwood.)
Word count: 2100 (this part of about 4.5k total)
Warning: Assisted suicide of canon character.
Summary: The Doctor had meant it to be a quick stop in Cardiff to refuel the TARDIS, then back out into time and space, alone once more after losing Rose to a parallel world. What he hadn't expected was to pick up the energy signature of an operational cyberconversion unit.
A/N: Canon divergent AU - the Doctor didn't regerate on the Gamestation although it was a close thing. Will post part two this time next week. There might end up being more in the 'verse that this, but not at the moment, and this fic will be complete as it is by the end of part 2.
The energy signature is faint, but unmistakable, and the Doctor’s face is grim as he walks through the deserted industrial estate. In the near dusk the place looks bleak, the majority of the lock-ups and retail units around him are boarded up, their faded and peeling ‘for let’ and ‘for sale’ signs only adding to the desolated feel.
It doesn't seem, in the Doctor's opinion, like the sort of place that Cybermen would set up a base. But they’ve caught him out before, not many times admittedly, or for very long, but when they have the consequences have been terrible.
Although why Cybermen would choose a run down industrial estate on the edge of Cardiff, Tremorfa to be exact, he has no idea, unless it’s due to the proximity to the Rift. But if that is the case there are far more suitable locations, like a warehouse in the Roath docks or an office or apartment complex down by the Bay.
He remembers going to a planet called Tremorfa once, years and years ago, when he’d been somebody else. But then after nine hundred years he’s been to planets called most things at one time or another. There are, after all, only a limited number of sounds and combinations of sounds in the universe and sooner or later they had to be reused.
That particular Tremorfa had been a lot more pleasant to look than this one. They’d had the most amazing semi-sentient plants there, which changed colour to reflect the mood of the people looking at them. He's not been back there in years, maybe even centuries, nor is he likely to visit again any time soon. He’s not sure he would like what colour those plants might turn for him now, what it would reveal. Experience has taught him that sometimes it’s just better to remember things as they were.
Reaching the end of a cul-de-sac of garage units he stops, the device he’s carrying whirs louder and the lights on it flash insistently, telling him this is the place that he’s looking for.
He’d only meant to make this a brief stop, to refuel the TARDIS after burning up so much energy saying his last goodbyes to Rose. He’d owed her that. That, and so much more, after all that had happened between them, especially since his near regeneration on the Game Station.
Putting the detector back into the pocket of his leather jacket, the Doctor listens at the door for a moment. The noises inside are indistinct, but there's nothing to suggest any activated cybermen are waiting inside.
The simple lock on the garage’s shutter door, which is fastened from the inside, takes the sonic screwdriver just a few seconds to unlock. Then carefully opening the door, the Doctor looks inside.
The interior of the small garage unit is dim, the only illumination coming from the faint blue light emanating from the machinery in the centre of the room.
The Doctor’s eyes widen as he realises that it's not the entrance to a Cyberconversion factory, or even to a control centre, it’s just a single conversion unit. It’s badly damaged, functioning only because it has been augmented with medical equipment and has been wired into the mains via a tangle of cables.
Were it not a Cyberconversion unit the Doctor thinks that he’d be very impressed at ingenuity of whoever has managed to keeping it working with just 21st century Earth technology. Only it is a Cyberconversion unit and at the moment he’s got very little patience for people meddling with things that can’t even begin to comprehend. So it is with disgust that the Doctor realises that not only is the unit functional, it's occupied.
Strapped to the unit is a young woman, her dark skin standing out in sharp contrast to the silvery metal that has been grafted to her body. She opens her eyes as the Doctor approaches, her lips barely moving as she tries to speak.
Lying on a mattress on the floor by her side, and wrapped in a sleeping bag, a dark haired young man sleeps. Shivering, the he moves restlessly, his breathing harsh and pained in the quiet of the building.
Stepping carefully around him the Doctor approaches her, his expression is one of amazement mixed with horror. Even he has never seen a person living in a half converted state such as this, or has ever wished to.
“I know who you are.” She opens her eyes as he approaches, her voice is faint and pained. “I saw you at there at Torchwood before it fell. You stopped them. You're the Doctor.”
“That's me,” the Doctor says, surprised that her speech and thought patterns still appear to be human. The Doctor quickly checks the level of conversion, assessing the damage that has been done to her.
It’s severe, even if he was able to transport the entirety of the conversion unit and its power supply without any of it short circuiting to somewhere with a more advanced technological level than 21st century Earth the chances of success are almost non-existent. As it is, the Doctor is all too aware that he's not able to do that and that there's nothing that he can do to save her.
So he simply asks, “Who are you?”
“Lisa.” She makes a small noise of pain, her eyes closing for a moment. “Lisa Hallett.”
“Did he do this to you?” The Doctor points to the man asleep on the floor.
“No!” Lisa sounds horrified. “He got me out. He loves me.” Lisa looks down at the man on the floor then back to the Doctor. “He won’t listen to me when I tell him the metal is taking me away. The metal and the cold. He thinks he can save me, but there’s not enough left.” Silent tears start to fall.
“I’m sorry.” The Doctor holds her hand, although he doubts she can feel it as much of her hand has been upgraded.
“Don’t be, it’s not your fault. We’d all be dead but for you.” Lisa closes her eyes again, frowning slightly as if trying to come to a decision. “I need you to help me.”
“There’s nothing I can do.” The Doctor wishes that there was, that he could save her, have one more victory over the Cybermen, even if they would never know it.
“I know,” Lisa says sadly. “If there was anything, any way at all, Ianto would have found it by now.”
“Is that his name?” The Doctor looks at the man. He's obviously unwell, some form of lung damage or infection, the Doctor thinks seems most likely, by the rattle and wheeze of his pained breathing. There had been a lot of smoke in Torchwood tower after the battle, fires burning unchecked as people fled, office furniture and alien technologies all going up in a single conflagration.
“Yes. Ianto Jones.” Lisa smiles, remembering happier times. “He was going to marry me. ” Her smile fades as she looks at the Doctor again.
“I'm sorry,” the Doctor mumbles. This kind of interaction has never been his strong suit, and since the last Great Time War, and the loss of Gallifrey it has only become harder.
Looking at a length of blue cable that snakes its way though the garage, Lisa says, “The cable, give it to me.”
“But that's life support.”
“I know.” Lisa looks him in the eye. “And it's all right. This is my choice.”
Wordlessly the Doctor hands her the cable. He won’t stop her, or deny her this. He just wishes that he’d had a chance to know such a brave young woman under different circumstances. Her and her young man, who is, from what he can see of the wiring and repairs, a natural with alien technology. They are the sort of people who he would loved to have travelling with him, seeing how they would marvel at the wonders of the universe.
“Take care of him.” More tears run down her face, as she grips the cable tighter.
“I can't do that,” the Doctor says, finding the idea of having somebody new and dependent on him on board the TARDIS harder than Lisa's other request.
“Please, he’s got nobody. He’s all alone.” She looks pleadingly at him. “Just…just tell him I’m sorry, and that I love him, and I wish…I want...”
“I know.” The Doctor nods. He wishes he didn't understand, that hasn't had to hear so many people's last words down the centuries.
“Just don’t let him do anything stupid.” She looks steadily at the Doctor, and smiles. “Thank you.” And then she pulls the cable free.
For a moment there is nothing and then there's an electric whine as her heart monitor flat-lines. It’s not particularly loud, but in the quiet of the lock-up it seems almost deafening.
There's movement from under the pile of blankets as Ianto struggles to his feet. “No.” Looking wildly around, he barely seems to register anything apart from Lisa.
Sobbing, gasping for breath, as he stumbles the few steps to her side, before falling to his knees, holding her hand against his face.
The Doctor looks around and sighs. He’s left in a dismal little lock-up in Wales, with a dead, partially converted woman, and her sick and distraught boyfriend. It's certainly not the situation that he’d thought to find himself in when he’d picked up the signal. It would have almost been better to have just Cybermen. He could have dealt with them and been on his way again, this is so much harder.
He doesn’t usually deal with the aftermath, the bodies, the people sobbing their singular hearts out because they’ve lost everything. He doesn’t because it too hard to bear.
This time though he’s got to deal with it because there’s nobody else who will. He can’t let the conversion unit fall into the wrong hands, he can’t have Torchwood all over again, destroying everything with their naïve arrogance that they can control everything. He’s not willing to call up UNIT either. Too long has passed for them, and the people he knew and trusted have retired, and they weren’t exactly infallible either.
He really hadn’t wanted to have another passenger on the TARDIS so soon, but looking at Ianto, who is coughing and sobbing brokenly, Lisa’s hand held tightly in his, he knows he can't leave him there.
“You…you switched it off, you killed her,” Ianto says as he lurches to his feet. “Why?” He swings a wild, uncoordinated punch at the Doctor, who easily avoids it. “Why would you do that? She wouldn’t have hurt anybody.”
“It's not like you think.” The Doctor catches hold of Ianto's wrists, preventing any more blows. “It was her choice, lad, she knew what she was doing. She wanted to spare you seeing what would happen to her.”
“Nothing would have happened.” He struggles weakly, tears streaming down his face. “She was going to get better, I was going to make her better. I would have...I...”
“No, you couldn't,” the Doctor says, hoping that it doesn't come out too harshly. “I think you know that really, don't you?”
The fight seems to drain out of Ianto, and he slumps forward, sobbing.
Eventually even the tears stops, and Ianto becomes an almost immobile dead weight in the Doctor’s arms, almost insensible from exhaustion, grief and illness.
Undecided with what to do with him, the Doctor supposes that he could, and probably should, take him to the nearest hospital, make sure that somebody is going to look after him and then be on his way. But he’d told her, Lisa, that he’d take care of him, and leaving him with the first group of people that he meets really doesn’t seem to fulfil that promise.
Telling himself that this won't be for long, just until the Ianto is on his feet again, the Doctor picks him up over his shoulder, and then carries him to the TARDIS.
To be continued.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Title: A Different Path. (Part 2 of 3)
Characters/Pairings: Ianto/Lisa, 9th Doctor. (Past Doctor/Rose, and Doctor/Jack/Rose implied.)
Fandom: Doctor Who/Torchwood. (AU from Parting of the Ways for
Rating: R (see warning)
Word count: 2100 (this part of about 6k total)
Warning: Assisted suicide of minor canon character.
Summary: The Doctor had meant it to be a quick stop in Cardiff to
refuel the TARDIS, then back out into time and space, alone once more after
losing Rose to a parallel world. What he hadn't expected was to pick up the
energy signature of an operational cyberconversion unit.
A/N: Sorry for how late this is, real life has hit hard the last week or so, and the story got rather longer than planned. There might end up being more in this 'verse, but there aren't any definite plans at the moment.
The lights in the TARDIS pulse softly, seeming to express sympathy for the situation, as the Doctor puts Ianto down on the one of the benches near the console.
“I know I said it was just going to be us for a while,” he says aloud, walking through to the wardrobe room. Retrieving a blanket from one of the storage boxes, he takes it back to the console room and places it over Ianto. “But I can’t just leave him there.”
Tucking the blanket round Ianto, satisfied that for the moment at least that he isn't going anywhere, the Doctor gets started on the task of removing all traces of the Cyberman technology from the garage.
Even with the TARDIS parked just inside the garage, it still takes some time to dismantle the conversion unit, but there is no way that the Doctor is leaving it there where it can be found and maybe utilised.
By the time he's removed Lisa's body from the conversion unit, dismantled it and jettisoned the offending pieces of cyber technology into the Sun, he’s tired and his hands are scratched and sore.
The fact that Ianto had somehow managed to get the unit and Lisa from London to Wales in a functional condition and then keep it working for a few months is impressive.
He’s not had anybody who was handy like that aboard since Jack. The Doctor closes his eyes for a moment. He misses Jack as much as he misses Rose. They'd both been just what he'd needed. Fun, optimistic and with a sense of adventure that had made travelling a joy again, rather than a way of trying out run the guilt of being the only survivor of Gallifrey.
“Turning into a sentimental old fool,” he grumbles to himself. Wanting something else to concentrate on, and realising that he's ignored Ianto since leaving him in the console room, he goes to check on his guest.
He can hear Ianto, who is still lying on the bench where the he’d left him, before he sees him. His breathing sounds worse than it had been in the garage, the wheezing painful to hear.
“Come on, I'd better find you a bed, and something to drink,” the Doctor says walking over to him.
Getting closer he can see he’s shivering, sweat soaked hair clinging damply to his forehead. Frowning, he shakes his shoulder. “Wake up, lad. You can’t stay there.”
Ianto opens his eyes and stares at him. They're bright with fever and lacking in comprehension at what is going on. He mumbles something that might be about dying and Lisa, before closing his eyes again.
Taking the blanket off him, the Doctor stands there for a moment trying to decide what to do for the best. Ianto hadn't seemed this sick when he'd brought him into the TARDIS. But the Doctor suspects that with Lisa's death he'd lost the only thing that had kept him fighting. Leaving him to overheat under a thick blanket probably hadn't done him all that much good either.
The Zero Room, seems like the best option, as he knows that the environment their can be tailored to suit whatever the needs of the person are, regardless of their species.
Ianto is limp, his skin far too hot as the Doctor picks him up again, and carries him through the TARDIS.
The last person he’d had to deal with who’d been this sick was Jack. Following the thing in Russia – repeated dousing in freezing sea water, near drowning, superficial burns and almost complete exhaustion from running and fighting for his life and their for days had taken their toll, and after a day or so claiming to be fine he collapsed, and spent the best part of the next week in bed fighting off pneumonia cause by breathing in some of the water.
That hadn't been the last time the Zero room had been used though. The last time had been for himself. Not that he remembers much about it.
The details of getting there after the energy from the heart of the TARDIS from Rose are fragmentary at best. He remembers falling to his knees in the console room, the energy burning through him, sure that his current body was about to die, and then there'd been nothing until he'd woken some days later feeling indescribably weak on the bed in the zero room, Rose asleep in a chair by his side.
Putting Ianto down on the bed, the Doctor starts to program the controls for the room. The low level psychic field in the room will assure him a deep, dreamless sleep to help him heal. While the air in the room can be augmented with compounds to assist in fighting off whatever infection or virus he's picked up.
He's not so far out of it that drinking, albeit with some assistance, is a problem. So after some cajoling and reassurance that the 38th century isotonic energy drink isn’t going to poison him despite its less than palatable taste, the Doctor is satisfied that Ianto has drunk enough, and that he's not going to get sicker due to dehydration.
The only thing that remains for him to do is let him sleep. Watching him seems unnecessary, as he's not going to go any where or say anything for the next few hours, and the Doctor turns his attention to removing the last pieces of cyber technology – those that had been graphed on to Lisa.
Removing the metal from her body isn’t been a quick or pleasant task, and despite using some synthetic skin replacement technology that he'd picked up years ago to cover up the worse of the damage caused by the partial conversion the extent and disfigurement caused by it is still severe.
* * *
Even with the Zero Room helping speed Ianto's recovery, it still takes some time for him to become coherent enough to be able to talk or even be aware that the Doctor is there. And further day beyond that for the Doctor to decide that he can move Ianto to one of the other rooms in the TARDIS.
The infection in his lungs caused by breathing in whatever irritant particles had been in the air when Torchwood Tower burnt, is mostly healed, although the Doctor knows that there will probably be some level of scarring that will remain. Although unless he’s really pushing himself the Doctor is reasonably sure that it shouldn’t interfere with day to day life.
Getting rid of the infection though had been the easy part, getting Ianto to show any interest in anything, including eating, has been much harder.
Wearing old fashioned stripy pyjamas and a faded dressing gown, Ianto is sitting on the edge of his bed staring at the wall, hands resting limply in his lap when the Doctor walks in.
There’s a hollowness, an emptiness, in his red rimmed eyes, that the Doctor knows only too well: It’s the look of someone who has seen everything they cared about, their entire life, destroyed.
“I’ve travelled with enough humans to know that they need to eat. They start getting cranky if they don't,” the Doctor says putting the plate of food down next to Ianto.
“I’m not hungry.” Ianto doesn’t look at the Doctor or the food.
“You must be, you’ve not had anything but a little bit of soup and water for the last two days.” The Doctor is fairly sure that it has been days, but floating out here in time vortex, it gets hard to tell after a while. “You’re not going to get better if you don’t eat.”
“I don’t care.” Ianto shakes his head, before handing back the plate to the Doctor, and lying down on the bed. “Please, just leave me alone.”
“No.” The Doctor can see a lot of himself in this young man, sees the same look of complete despair in his eyes that he’d felt after the loss of Gallifrey. He’d had nine hundred years of experience and the knowledge of the Time Lords behind him to deal with it, and still it had nearly broken him.
He’d only just been dragging himself out of that despair when he’d met Rose, and for a while everything had seemed so much brighter and full of life.
How old was this man, twenty-five? A paltry little a quarter of a century, just a blink of an eye in the terms of the universe. How was someone like that supposed to cope with his whole existence falling apart?
“Is this the part where you tell me it’s going to get better, I've just got give it time?” Ianto sounds bitter and hollow. “Well forgive me if I don’t believe you, but it’s a load of crap. It was when my mam died, it was when my tad died, and it is now.”
The Doctor frowns, it’s exactly what he was going to say. It’s a little unnerving, and it leaves him wondering if he’s becoming predictable or if Ianto has some form of psychic talent that he hadn’t detected. “Well I could lie and say I was going to say something different, but that isn't me. I'm trying to help you.”
“I don’t want any help. I just want to…” Ianto rolls over, hiding his face.
“No, you don't.” The Doctor sits down on the edge of the bed. He wishes that Rose were still there, she'd known what to say to him, how to comfort him properly. “You might think you'd be best off not being here, but there'll be people who'll miss you, there always are.”
“There aren’t.” It’s muffled from where he’s pressed his face against the sheets. “They’re all dead. And I’m not. And it’s not fair.”
He doesn’t ask Ianto if he means that it’s not fair they’re dead or if it’s that he doesn’t know why he’s still alive. He knows those feelings of confusion and guilt all too well.
Putting a hand on his shoulder, the Doctor says, “A lot of things aren’t fair, and there’s nothing I can say that’ll make it otherwise. But there are still good things out there, fantastic things, you just need to give it a chance to happen.”
“Why are you being so nice to me?” Ianto asks turning back over so that he can see him. “You must hate Torchwood, what they did. You know I worked for them.”
“Hate doesn't solve anything, not in the end,” the Doctor says wearily. So many times and on so many worlds he's seen the destruction that hate can cause, he's more tired of it than he can find the words to describe. “And Lisa asked me to.”
Sitting up, Ianto says, “She asked you to?”
“Yep. Told me to make sure nothing happened to you. And I’m trying to do it, but you don’t make it easy.”
Ianto sniffs and wipes his eyes. “She always said I was too stubborn for my own good.”
“Not going to argue with that.” Picking up the mug of tea on the tray he hands it to Ianto. “You going to try to drink some of this?”
Taking the drink, Ianto holds it white knuckled, clinging to it like it’s his only life line. “Did you leave her there?”
“Of course not.” He nods at the tea. “It’s going to get cold if you leave it.”
With a long suffering look, Ianto slowly sips some of the tea.
“Can I see her?” Ianto asks eventually, his voice unsteady. “I need to tell her…I need to…”
“Alright.” It's probably not the best idea, but the Doctor suspects that Ianto would try to find her as soon as he's left the room anyway. Better that he walks with him rather than have him wander off who knows where and collapse in a corner.
Getting off the bed, Ianto takes few shaky steps towards the door, before stopping, and leaning against the wall.
“Feeling dizzy, aren't you?” the Doctor says, getting close enough that he'll be able to catch him if he falls.
“It'd pass quicker if you'd start eating properly,” the Doctor grumbles to himself. Knowing that he's not got a chance of persuading Ianto to go back to bed, eat something and try again later, he says, “I'll help you get there, but you've got to promise you'll try and eat something later.”
Ianto nods looking like he'd probably agree to almost anything if it means the Doctor will let him see Lisa.
“Come on then.” Putting an arm around Ianto's waist so he can lean on him for support, they slowly make their way through the TARDIS.
The incident in Russia that the Doctor refers to (although not what happened with Jack afterwards) is from the tie-in novel Deviant Strain by Justin Richards. The Zero Room in the TARDIS is from classic Who, although since it was destroyed and then rebuilt in one of the Big Finish Audio (which I've not listened to yet) I've kind of taken some liberties with what it can do, mainly because I'm not 100% sure what it can do since the rebuilding. Although it has been (by all accounts) used to help a sick companion (also Big Finish Audio – Patient Zero.)
Fitz who is mentioned in this chapter was a companion of the 8th Doctor who travelled with him in a number of books and in some of the Big Finish audio adventures.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The Doctor can see a thin sheen of sweat forming on Ianto's face as they walk through the TARDIS's winding corridors. Despite their almost painfully slow pace, Ianto is starting to wheeze with the effort of moving by the time they reach the room where Lisa is.
Ianto leans against the wall by the door, but makes no attempt to open it and go inside.
“You want to be alone?” the Doctor asks, caught between not wanting to let him wander around on his own and not wishing to intrude on his grief. He remembers the state he'd been in with the combined strains of his near regeneration and the loss of Jack. If it hadn't been for Rose he's not sure how long it would have taken him get back on his feet.
“Yes,” Ianto replies quickly, then frowns. “I mean no. I...” He stops and takes a shuddering breath, a look of pain crossing his face. “I don’t know.”
“How about I come in with you, and then I can go, if you want?”
Ianto nods, then lets the Doctor open the door, before following him into the room.
Inside, Lisa is lying on a table, all the pieces of the cyberconversion stripped from her, a sheet pulled up so that only her face is visibly.
“She looks like she’s asleep” Ianto's lip trembles as he touches the side of her cheek. “I just want her to wake up. I want her to tell me it's going to be okay. But she's not and it never will be. Her family should…” He chokes back a sob, tears streaming down his face as he turns to the Doctor. “I’m going to have to tell her mam.”
For once the Doctor finds himself lost for words. He knows that if Jackie hadn’t already been in Pete’s world he would have had to tell her that Rose wasn’t coming back. He would’ve had to, the Doctor tells himself, he would have owed it to Rose and he couldn’t have let Jackie go on wondering about her for the rest of her life, that would have been too cruel.
“I can’t do this.” Ianto starts to shake, his breathing getting more and more distressed. “I can’t. I can’t.”
“You don’t have to do anything right now, lad. Time don't mean owt out here.” The Doctor pats his back.
A racking sob shakes Ianto's too thin shoulders and he sways on his feet for a moment. Then his knees buckle and he collapses against the Doctor, clinging to him, burying his face against his leather jacket.
The grief and raw pain radiating off Ianto is all consuming and the Doctor firmly clamps down on his abilities to connect for fear of becoming overwhelmed himself.
“Come on,” the Doctor says as he pulls Ianto's arm about his shoulders. “Time to lie down before you fall down.”
The sobs have subsided to wheezing hiccups interspersed with bouts of coughing and mumbled incoherent apologies by the time they reach his room and Ianto is shaking so badly that he is barely managing to walk even with the Doctor's help.
Ianto doesn't object when the Doctor lifts him into bed and pulls the covers tight about him. Instead just turning his face against the pillow to muffle coughs and tears alike.
Knowing there's nothing more he can do, the Doctor sits down next to the bed, staying with him until Ianto finally falls into an exhausted sleep.
“You worked for Torchwood, so I suppose you know I can travel in time, but you've not asked me to take you back and save her? Why?” the Doctor asks a couple of mornings later once Ianto seems a little stronger. Physically at least, thanks to the Zero Room. He can't delay this question any longer though, it wouldn't right letting Ianto believe that there was something he could do about what happened or worse Ianto thinking that he wasn't helping him even though he could. That sort of thing lead to people doing desperate, stupid things like stealing a TARDIS. He knew. Once he'd been that desperate, stupid young man, albeit for different reason.
“Because you can't.” Ianto stares dejectedly at the tea and toast that the Doctor has brought him. “If you could, you have saved the woman who was with you. If there was any way at all to go back there and change things, no matter how dangerous, you have done it by now.”
“How do you know about Rose?” the Doctor asks sharply.
“Was that her name?” Ianto asks, shrinking back a little at the Doctor's intensity. “We knew you weren't alone, you never seem to travel alone. There were rumours afterwards that your companion had been lost, but I really don't know anything more.”
The Doctor sighs, he knows his current appearance isn't one of the most approachable he's ever had, but he'd not meant to make him feel threatened. “Not your fault. I doubt you were the one who had the idea to muck about pulling holes in the fabric of time for no good readon. She got pulled thought the void, into another world. Cut off forever.”
“I'm sorry. I'm right though, aren't I? There's no way to fix this. Any of this.” Ianto picks up a piece of toast then puts it back down untouched. “You don’t seem like the kind of person who gives up very easily, not if there's any hope at all.”
“There's always hope,” the Doctor says, finding with some surprise that he actually means it.
“Not for me,” Ianto says softly, pushing the tray away. “There's nothing left for me. Lisa was all I had in the world. I told you that. It's not going to get any better”
“Well it won't if you don't eat.” The Doctor pushes the tray back towards him.
“Why?” Ianto looks at him hollow eyed. “Why bother? It all just feels so pointless.”
Time to try a different tactic then, the Doctor decides, hoping that it won't prove too much too soon or too cruel. “Because if you don't you're not going to be in a fit state to go and tell Lisa's mother what happened. You did say you needed to do that, didn't you?”
Ianto looks for a moment like he's either going to cry or be sick. Then carefully and deliberately he picks up a piece of toast and starts to eat.
It's a start, the Doctor decides, as he waits for Ianto finish his first slice. Only once Ianto has started on a second piece and drunk some of the tea, does the Doctor say, “You don't have to do it alone though, unless it's what you really want.”
Ianto swallows hard, the food seeming to stick in his throat for a moment, then he nods, mute thanks in his eyes.
“Right then. You finish that up.” The Doctor nods towards the plate and the remaining piece of toast. “Then I'll help you find yourself some clothes and then we can start to get things sorted out.”
A little later in the room containing the jumble that is best described, the Doctor supposes, as the TARDIS wardrobe, Ianto looks around at the rows and rows of clothes. A multi-coloured patchwork coat here, a set of cricketing whites there, a purple crushed velvet suit hanging up with long, hand knitted scarf next to a woman's air hostess uniform from the . Surprised by the variety of what was there he turns to the Doctor as if he's about to ask a question, then seems to think better of it and shrugs instead and continues looking.
Eventually he chooses some t-shirts, a jumper, jeans and a pale tan coloured leather jacket, and the Doctor turns his back so that Ianto can get changed.
Ianto doesn't ask where all the clothes come from and the Doctor doesn't volunteer the information. The t-shirt and coat had belonged to Jack and it seems that barely any time has past since he wore them during their brief visit to Cardiff to deal with the Slitheen. While the jeans and jumper had belonged to Fitz, just two of the many things he'd left behind during the long years that they'd lived to together in the TARDIS during the last great Time War.
The Doctor thinks Fitz would have got on well with Ianto, both young men who'd seen more than their fair share of tragedy, Fitz had always had the uncanny knack of making people look on the bright side of things. And Jack, he thinks with a sad smile, would have probably made as pass at him by now, if only to try and cheer him up.
He lets out a slow breath, he misses them so much that actually hurt. Fitz, Jack and Rose. His last three companions. All lost to him one way or another. He's failed them. Well he's not about to let that happen again, not when he'd promised Lisa that he'd keep Ianto safe.
He smiles at Ianto and pats him on the back. "Right then, let find you a phone.”
A few modifications later and it will call just about wherever and whenever Ianto needs it to. He stay with him the first couple of times he uses it, just to make sure he doesn't do anything stupid like phone his past self to say not to go in to work on the day the Cyberman attacked.
It would be easy to take charge and sort it all out himself, quicker certainly and seeing how distressed some of phone calls made Ianto, part of him thinks it would be kinder too. But he doesn't. As he suspects that this is part of the process of letting go for Ianto, that as painful as it is he needs to do it.
It's easy to provide him with a hotel room for as long as he needs and some clothes. Ianto had politely refused to take any money, saying he'd got enough to cover anything that he might need.
Considering he'd been half starved and sleeping on the floor of a garage when he'd found him the Doctor doubted it and added fully catered to the hotel reservation. Whether Ianto would bother to eat any of it was another matter, but at least he would feel as if he'd tried.
With everything arranged and Lisa's body moved to a funeral home with covering paperwork that said she'd died in a car crash, the Doctor takes Ianto back to London.
“I'll come back in a few days,” the Doctor says, wondering why goodbyes like this are always so awkward. With permanent ones you could be as sad as you liked and with temporary ones you didn't need to do much. No, it was in between ones like this take made him feel that he might have got it wrong somehow.
“If you want to,” Ianto says shivering in the light breeze blowing down the quiet street at the side of the hotel where the TARDIS was parked. He picks up his bag and turns to go. Then stops and puts it down. “I should say thank you,” he says holding out his hand. “Just in case this really is goodbye.”
The Doctor shakes it, although he's tempted to hug him, because honestly the lad looks like he needs it.
“You've been good to me. Far better than I deserved. I can't have been easy to deal with.” Ianto's staring down at the pavement rather than at the Doctor. “Torchwood was wrong about you. And so was I.” He stops and looks back at the Doctor. “If we don't meet again, good luck and stay safe.”
“You too, lad.” He pats Ianto on the shoulder. “You too.”
The Doctor watches from a distance to make sure Ianto get into the hotel safely and takes the TARDIS back out into the vortex.
The TARDIS feels empty again and after an hour or two of tinkering around with one of the circuits under the central console, the Doctor climbs out and says, “You miss him, don't you?”
The lights on the console dim, then flicker back to their normal brightness.
“Not much point just sitting about really, is there?” He runs his hands over the controls. “It's not like we're stuck on the slow path. I suppose you want to go and pick him up?”
The lights flickers again and something mechanical whirs softly.
“I thought so.” He pulls a leaver then presses a series of buttons. “You know he might not want to come with us.”
Another light flickers and the Doctor is sure that the TARDIS is telling him not to be so silly. He considers telling the TARDIS that he's not going not going to ask Ianto to stay, that he's just going to make sure he's all right. But he doesn't, because while taking him with him is probably the worse idea he's had recently. He hates the idea of leaving him behind all on his own when he so clearly still needs somebody, even if it's only to remind him to get up in the morning and actually eat something.
The fact that he's found Ianto to be good company in the moments when grief wasn't overwhelming him and that he's got used to the idea of having somebody else travelling with him again, has nothing to do with it, the Doctor tells himself. He's not lonely, he really isn't.
The TARDIS materialises underneath the spreading branches of huge, ancient yew tree. Unseen by the small congregation outside, the Doctor stands in the doorway of the TARDIS, looking out at the rain washed churchyard.
Dressed in a plain black suit and tie, Ianto looks thin, tired and close to tears as he stands at the graveside, talking quietly first with the vicar and then with a woman who the Doctor suspects is Lisa’s mother.
He's too far away to hear what they are saying, but he sees Ianto nod and then hang his head, as the woman puts a hand on his arm.
Slowly the people there all move away, until Ianto and Lisa's mother are the only people that remain. Dropping her umbrella, she hugs him tightly, and then she is gone also.
Standing alone at the graveside, Ianto seems to sway in the stiff breeze that is blowing. He remains like that as the rain increases and the wind grows stronger, until the storm dark sky overhead is split with lightening, then he drops to his knees, hands covering his face.
Watching and waiting, the Doctor has almost decided to go over to him when Ianto gets to his feet, and slowly walks towards the TARDIS.
Stopping in front of him, his suit dripping with rain, trousers soaked through with mud, Ianto looks as pitiable a sight as the Doctor has ever seen.
“How long have you been here?” Ianto asks, reaching him.
“Not long. You done then?” the Doctor asks. It's not the most sympathetic thing he could say, not even close, but he suspects that Ianto has had enough of people asking him if he's all right and how he's coping.
Ianto nods, the movement sending droplets of rain splashing on to the Doctor.
“What will you do now?”
“I don’t know. I’ve got no home, no job, nobody waiting for me. I…” Ianto's voice wavers, and he glances back at the low mound of earth. “I don’t know what to do.”
“Well.” The Doctor tries to sound casual. “I suppose you could come with me, I think the old girl got used to having you around. You seem like you’re pretty handy with tech from what I saw – so what do you say?”
“I might not be the best company,” Ianto says doubtfully, but moves closer to the TARDIS.
“I wouldn’t worry about that.” The Doctor smiles, and then steps back from door so Ianto can step inside. “Neither am I.”
Ianto nods, but doesn't speak. And after one final look back at Lisa's grave, he follows the Doctor into the TARDIS.
The doors close behind them and a few minutes later the wheezing grate and groan of the time rotas spinning fills the air as the TARDIS' engines spark into life. It flickers for a moment, the wind rushing swirling eddies of leaves around it, then it's gone and the churchyard is left deserted.
So that's it, the Doctor and Ianto are off travelling and having adventure in time and space. I might end up writing more in this verse one day if I get an idea for a Doctor Who type episode storyline, but until then I've got a load of other fic to write.