Ianto hates to leave Lisa for this long, but he needs the part. The cyber conversion unit he managed to cobble together from salvaged parts is incomplete at best. Lisa told him, struggled through the pain to tell him what they need.
He tries not to think about how she knows what they need. Or the flat monotone she explained it in.
Sometimes he looks at her and he can barely see Lisa at all. He doesn’t think about that either.
He’s so busy not thinking about so many things that he nearly misses when his contact walks in. The tall red headed man walks over to the bar. He orders his drink and walks over to Ianto’s table. He’s thick set, a little shorter than Ianto and a good ten years older.
“This seat taken?” he asked with a grin.
Ianto shook his head. The other man had barely sat down before Ianto spoke. “Do you have it?”
“Straight to business then?” asked the man.
“I don’t have time to mess about,” replied Ianto. “Either you have it or you don’t?”
The man smiled in an unpleasant way. “Torchwood One, right? You’ve got that look. A lot of your lot have ended up buying and selling. Time was you were running blokes like me out of business and just taking what you needed. How the mighty have fallen.”
“Most of ‘my lot’ are dead,” replied Ianto stonily. “I can pay, what do you care about anything else?”
“It never hurts to know your customer. And as you’re Torchwood I think the price just went up.”
Ianto was careful not to let the panic he could feel inside show on his face. “How much?”
“Double what we discussed before, or I just walk away” replied the man smiling wider. He lent back in his chair sipping his pint watching Ianto carefully.
Ianto tried not to choke on his panic. He could barely afford the first price, double that is impossible. But he needs the part. Lisa needs it.
“Half now,” said Ianto gruffly. “Half after I’ve seen it. It’s no good to me if it doesn’t work.”
The man smiled unpleasantly and nodded. “Drink up then, Mr Jones,” he said in a voice that made it clear he didn’t believe that was Ianto’s name.
The man led Ianto to a warehouse not far away. He showed Ianto the part with the air of someone pulling a rabbit from a hat.
“That’s too old,” said Ianto. “It’s not from Canary Wharf.”
“Nope,” agreed the man. “It’s from an earlier Cyberman incursion. London late 1800’s.”
“What if it doesn’t work?” mumbled Ianto mostly to himself.
“Do you want it or not?” asked the other man.
“I don’t have a choice,” replied Ianto pulling out a gun. “And I’m sorry but I don’t have anything like the money you’re asking for it.”
When the man came to he looked for Ianto. But Ianto had covered his tracks well. And by that time he was in Cardiff anyway.
Lisa stared at the ceiling. She felt so cold, it bit into her bones. It was hard, so hard to remember anything about her life. Who she was. She clung to the memory of Ianto’s face when he wasn’t there. She was sure his determination was the only thing keeping her here. Her, as apposed to the cold intelligence she could feel in her mind, all around her. But even holding on to the image of him it was hard to remember what he meant to her. He used to mean everything.
His voice. Ianto. She forced the name to mind, then forced it between uncooperative lips. It sounded wrong and harsh to ears she wasn’t sure she could even call her own any more.
“It’s going to get better Lisa, okay?” He’s holding her hand and she can barely feel it. “We’ve got you into Torchwood Three, so there’s all the power we need. I’ve got the name of a guy who’ll be able to help. Just a little bit longer, sweetheart.”
Lisa listens to him babble. She feels disconnected from him, like they’re not even on the same planet. She can feel herself slipping away, she panics a little she doesn’t want to go. She doesn’t want to leave him all alone with whatever is in her head but there’s nothing she can do. Nothing to hold on to.
‘Oh no you don’t Lisa Hallett’
Suddenly Lisa feels something pull her back. Suddenly she’s in the room, she can hear the distant hum of some kind of generator and feel Ianto’s hand on her cheek. She can smell the damp in the air. She can even smile. Ianto smiles back and it’s just as beautiful as it ever was.
“I’m not going anywhere,” she says and for the first time since Ianto pulled her from the rubble the words leave a mouth that is completely under her control.
When Ianto left the voice in her head came back. Except it’s not a voice. It’s like when someone is standing very close but you can’t turn your head to see them. A pressure, a presence. The words, or a least the knowledge of the words just appear in her thoughts.
Having less than prefect control of her body was bad enough, this is like losing your mind.
“Lisa Hallett. 24 years old. Jill and David’s only daughter. Such a silly little girl.”
“Who are you?” asked Lisa out loud
“My dear. You don’t need to speak, I can hear everything anyway. And we don’t want your boy to think you’re going crazy now do we? I’m the ghost in the machine Ms Hallett and I need you. I need your boy to think he can save you. And you are going to help me.”
“I’m not!” thought Lisa feeling desperate. “Leave Ianto alone!”
“Oh my dear. You don’t have a choice; if it wasn’t for me you’d be lost already. Then that wonderful earnest young man of yours would have realised and we’d all be done for.”
“You’re not a Cyberman,” thought Lisa.
“No, I’m much stronger than that. I’m Miss Hartigan, but seeing as we’re so close you can call me Mercy.”
“I have to admit,” came Mercy’s presence in her head. “Your boy is quite resourceful.”
“He’s not my boy,” replied Lisa. “His name is Ianto.”
Ianto was talking, babbling really, about his day. Looking more and more worried because Lisa wasn’t answering. Lisa tried to force words past her lips but she couldn’t get her voice to work today.
He started talking about Jack. Yet another cute workplace story. ‘Jack’ was always the star. This time the older man had made the microwave blow up. She could hear the amusement in Ianto’s voice. Like when he told her off about the state of her kettle. Lisa found that she hated Jack Harkness, just because he made Ianto smile.
“Oh I see,” came Mercy again, waves of amused contempt washing over what’s left of Lisa’s mind. “Not your boy at all…”
And Lisa wants to cry, to scream and fight. To tell Ianto. But there’s nothing she can do. Can’t move, can’t make a sound. Trapped between Ianto and Mercy. It’s tempting, so tempting to just slip away. To not feel any of this. To let the cold Cyberman at the back of her mind take over. It would almost be a relief. But they won’t let her go.
“Oh no Lisa, stay with me. I still need you.”
“Stay with me Lisa. I love you.”
It’s impossible now to remember who she is. What she wants. Between Mercy and Ianto and the Cyberman.
She hurt Jack Harkness. The Cyberman didn’t care, Harkness was just an obstacle to be removed. Mercy enjoyed it, she doesn’t like men very much. Lisa… it was her that did that. Payback for every fond word Ianto had about ‘Jack’. But she doesn’t know how she feels about it. She’s not even sure how she should feel.
The pterodactyl has gone. Flown away to tend to its wounds. Lisa is dying, she can feel it. Blessed relief that even Mercy can’t keep her from this time.
“No you don’t. You stay here. Fight!”
For the first time Mercy seems desperate and Lisa can’t help but smile.
“Do you really want to leave Ianto?”
“Ianto? What the hell is this place?”
It takes Lisa a moment to register that it’s a voice. A real human voice.
“Oh my god!” exclaims the girl. “Are… are you okay? Do you need help?”
Lisa manages to pull herself to her feet. Still her feet, if only just. Mercy knows what she’s planning.
“No, you can’t!”
“I can,” Lisa thinks back. “I can leave you and the Cyberman behind. Then it’ll just be me. Ianto and I, we can be together. Upgrade together. Then we’ll both be safe. No more you, no more Jack Harkness. Just us, like it should be.”
Finally Lisa can see a way out.
During Ianto’s suspension Jack tried to talk to him about Lisa. Tried to get Ianto to believe that she’d died, Lisa had died at Canary Wharf. That there was never any chance of saving her. Ianto wishes he could believe that. But he knows now, nothing is that simple.