He woke up in the hospital, a young woman in a black uniform and a red beret by his bedside, reading Hello magazine. His mind supplied "UNIT" before going blank.
That was the way it was going to be, the doctors told him later, some things would come back, and some never would. Ianto supposed he should be grateful his mind had retained his own name.
The soldier, her name he didn't remember, or maybe she never told him, said he'd been in a battle. "The Battle of Canary Wharf," she called it. Then she carefully told him that Lisa was dead. Lisa. His beautiful, wonderful Lisa.
The world ended.
Rhiannon came in the evening, rushing into the room like a whirlwind. "You--" she said, ignoring the chair the UNIT soldier had sat in and sitting on his bed, too close. "Oh, god."
He felt awkward at her tears because she knew something he didn't; he had a few burns and no memory of the last two months (apparently), but the shock in her eyes was alien to him.
She was trying not to cry, and he said, "It's okay, Rhi," and she shook her head. "What would I have done if you'd died?" she asked, slapping his arm. "God, you never ring, you never write -- would it kill you to send me an email every now and then?"
He was shocked into silence when he couldn't remember the last time they'd talked.
He went home with her, because, after Lisa's funeral, there was nowhere else to go. He stood in his and Lisa's flat, and couldn't remember why there were cocoa pops in the cupboard instead of frosties, why there was no lager in the house, or what the password on their computer was.
He stood there and was lost, as lost as he'd been before he'd moved to London, and he remembered that, but not why his favourite cereal wasn't in his kitchen cupboard.
The estate was noisy and he couldn't think. He tried to sleep, in the narrow bed with the cars on the sheets and the wallpaper (David's room), and the street lights that shone through the too-thin curtains. He could hear Rhi and Johnny whisper to each other in the next room, and wondered if they were keeping their voices down because they were fighting about him.
He looked at the picture of Lisa he'd put next to the bed, then rolled onto his back to stare at the ceiling.
"What are you going to do?" Rhiannon asked a week later.
Ianto stared at the Teletubbies on the TV and Mica blowing raspberries at them.
"Ianto!" Rhiannon snapped. He looked at her. "You can't sit here and mope. I know it's..." She got up to clear the table, stacking dishes in the sink. "There's jobs going where Johnny works."
Ianto replied drily, "I'm not cut out for construction."
Rhiannon turned to look at him. "I meant in the office. Personnel or something. You could do that, you always had a head for numbers."
He thought of Lisa, complaining about calculating leave hours and wage slips.
Rhiannon picked up a dish towel, worried at the fabric, and put it down again. "Damn it, Ianto. You never say anything. What is it I've done wrong? Why can't you just--"
"It's not you," he offered. It wasn't, not really. It was him, not fitting in, not wanting this life, not understanding her satisfaction with two screaming children and a too-small house and a predictable future.
Outside a car drove by, loud music from its stereo. A man hollered abuse, a blast of the car's horn the reply.
"You're my little brother," Rhiannon said. "Can't you at least try?"
Ianto tried to think, working hard to block out the roaring car engine, the screaming tires, Mica's giggles, and the sound of the Teletubbies babbling nonsense at each other. "Yes," he said finally. "I'll try."