After the police were called, and after Gwen got her answer, and after Ianto had been sent to retrieve the stolen SUV and re-load all the supplies that the villagers had tried to, shall we say, appropriate, for their own uses, Ianto took a few minutes to sit by himself on a tree stump at the edge of the village. Anyone observing him would have seen the swollen black eye, the bleeding cuts to this heads and neck, the way he held his right arm protectively against his waist, and how he seemed to be favoring his right leg. A closer observer would have noticed the quick, shallow breathing, the glazed eyes, and the occasional shaking of various extremities. Ianto, however, was practically invisible. It was a trait taught to him at his father’s knee. “Be kind, polite, and quiet Ianto. That’s a true gentlemen. Don’t let the world see your anger or your fear.” Of course, little Ianto would learn to internalize life and become even more invisible as his mother’s schizophrenia increased. He quickly learned that by becoming invisible he could escape the bruises from belts and fists, the bloody noses and the burns from left over oil in frying pans. At times like this, though, he wasn’t sure if he liked being invisible.
Being invisible today meant that he was ignored. In one respect that was good – it meant he was able to sit quietly and reorder the thoughts in his head without being interrupted by others. It also meant, though, that everyone had apparently forgotten that mere hours ago he had almost joined the ranks of the fillet-ed. This though gave him a short giggle. He remembered his mother pounding chicken on the kitchen counter. As a child, he had wondered if the chicken felt the mallet. He asked his mother once. She looked at him and said, “I should hope so. Otherwise I’d be taking my anger out on you.” Ah, if only his mother could see him now. She’d be so pleased that someone had finally decided to follow through on that thought.
Ianto was lost in his own head. Images of body parts and cleavers combined with fiery hallways, metal men, and talking pepperpots. This, of course, led the continued question of how one got a pepperpot to talk and fly. Ianto was the type of person who always tried to take apart electronics to see how they worked. If he wasn’t subjected to nearly-nightly nightmares of Canary Warf, he’d have liked to get his hands on a Dalek casing, just to see if he could figure it out.
Somehow Jack’s bellowing of Ianto’s name broke through his concussion-induced reverie. Jack was pointing to the SUV, though Ianto couldn’t quite make out what he was saying. Slowly standing, all sound was cut off by the feeling of blood rushing in his ears. He steadied himself against the nearest tree, bracing himself for the walk to the vehicle.
Owen was sitting in the passenger side, muttering about lazy tea-boys with their minds in outerspace. As Ianto entered the SUV’s back seat, Owen said, “Oh now he decides to join us. As if we weren’t in this shit-hole long enough, Tea-Boy decides to go for a picnic. Jack, get us the hell out of here and back to civilization.”
Ianto glanced around the compartment, wincing as Jack took turns quickly and sped up once he reached the A409. Ianto noticed the black spots at the edge of his vision. He’d seen these before. When he finally got Lisa out of the Tower and into a storage facility by the docks, she’d kicked out, thinking he was an enemy. She’d thrown him across the room, his head striking the metal wall. The darkness had been nice, Ianto remembered. All soft and warm and encompassing. He’d liked it then, and hadn’t wanted to wake up.
Now, of course, he couldn’t let the darkness win. Tosh was sitting next to him, Gwen laid out on the seats across from them. Tosh kept flinching, and Ianto knew she was remembering the cannibal with the baseball bat. There was only so much a person could take, Ianto thought. Being threatened with physical and sexual harm certainly topped the list. This, of course, led Ianto to making a list of all the things that made up his list. He was good with lists. Lists meant order. Order. He needed to order neat for Myfanwy. White meat though, fish probably. Too much red meat had affected her digestive tract. Oh, digestives. Jack liked the chocolate ones. He’d forgotten to add them to his list. Back to lists then. List. Listless. Listen. Listing. Lissom. Lisp…
At some rational level, Ianto knew he his mind wasn’t working properly. Objectively, he admitted he should have allowed one of the EMTs to see him. Of course, this had been mere minutes after he’d been beaten, bitten, and almost bled (oh, alliteration. Tad liked alliteration. Used it a lot), so he supposed he could be forgiven for not wanting to be touched. It would have been nice, though, if someone had helped him out of the ropes and gag. He’d had to do that himself. Good thing his cousins had liked to play Cowboys and Indians or he’d never have learned how to undo knots.
At some point, he realized that he was well and truly mentally rambling. Mental conversations were nothing new to him; hours upon lonely hours of being in the Hub when the others had gone off to the pub or the beach or wherever without him had helped Ianto realize that talking to oneself was all well and good so long as it wasn’t done out loud. Or, if it was done out loud, then one hid the CCTV footage. Owen would never let him live that down. Down. He’d wanted to buy a new down comforter. He was also cold. Lisa hated his cold feet. She’d yelled at him to wear socks to bed. Bed. Bedbugs. Beddy bye, Bedding. Beading. His eyes clicked over to Gwen’s hairtie. Beading. Who invented beaded hair ties? More than that, who invented the Bedazzler? As the son of a master tailor, Ianto was adamantly opposed to Bedazzling anything that wasn’t an ice skater’s costume. Oh, ice skating. He hadn’t done that in a while. Took Lisa out in London two Christmases ago. They had chips.
As Ianto reached the point of debating the merits of mayonnaise versus vinegar for chips (another frequent mental debate), Jack pulled up in front of Tosh’s flat. Ianto only realized this because moving Tosh required that Ianto to get out of the SUV first. And that’s when the black spots came back again. He leaned himself against the side of the SUV, watching as two black spots completed a perfect 4-step waltz around the streetlight. He didn’t notice Jack had come back until the American was pushing him back into the car.
Owen watched all this with a rather nasty eye. “Oh great, first Tea-Boy gets Tosh captured, then he freaks out, and now he’s zoning out. Seriously Jack, don’t ever bring him with us again.”
Jack shot a look at Owen and glanced in the rear view mirror. Ianto caught his eye and watched as more black spots finished what could have been a tango. Or a samba. Lisa wanted to take dancing lessons. Ianto refused.
Jack just shook his head, muttering something in another language. Ianto, of course, had no idea what he said, but he could image it was similar to what Owen had said. Ianto had personally acknowledged the same things. He had never made any claims to be a field agent. He had failed the only people who he could even consider to be his friends. This, then, led to further mental ramblings, as Ianto remembered all the other times he’d failed. Some of them were big, Lisa and Canary Warf included, others were small, like when he ran the wrong way down a rugby pitch at his first match. The team beat him up the next day for losing the try for them. Try. Hm. He had some new recipes to try. They had meat, though, and Ianto now had a certain empathy for animals. He’d have to try vegetarian. Imagine if the rugby team had heard that!
Ianto never noticed when Jack pulled up to the Hub and Owen helped Gwen over to his car. “I’ll see she gets home and settled,” the doctor called.
“Right,” Jack answered. “No one comes in till tomorrow at noon.”
Jack then turned to Ianto. “Ok. Well. You need to get home and I need to go modify some arrest reports to make sure the villagers don’t get a psychiatric defense or anything else. You ok to go home?”
At this point, the blood was rushing pretty heavily in Ianto’s ears and had basically drowned out Jack’s words. Ianto was decent at lip reading, though, and understood the most of the conversation. “Yes Sir. I’ll see you tomorrow, Sir.”
As Jack walked away, Ianto was willing to admit that his current mental state was not conducive to driving the 10 kilometers to his flat. Thanking Owen’s frequent states of inebriousness for preparing him, his hit number six on his mobile’s speed dial and arranged for a cab to pick him up at the bench outside the tourist office. He sat down to wait.
Jack had spent most of his night on the roofs of various buildings. Once noon rolled around, he headed back to the Hub, running into Tosh as she made her way in. He gave her a quick hug, silently noticing the way she flinched when he touched her, but pleased when she finally decided to hug him back. When they arrived at the main area, they were both shocked and gob-smacked to see Owen had already made it in, far less hung-over than they anticipated and grinning at Gwen
“Right. Where’s Tea-Boy? I need coffee and I need it now,” Owen growled. “Here I am, being the great and amazing doctor and coming in early to check on Gwen, and what happens? He’s not here. You’re not here. The whole place is empty. Just so you know, I’m leaving early tonight to make up for it.”
“What do you mean Ianto’s not here? He’s always here first,” Tosh asked, confused.
“I’m sure he’s just taking his time. Let’s give him a few minutes before we freak out, ok? I’ll be in my office. When he gets in, tell him I want the strongest coffee he can make,” Jack said, heading up the stairs to his office.
When 1 o’clock, and then 2 o’clock rolled around with still no sign of Ianto, Jack began to get concerned. It wasn’t like Ianto to be late for anything, especially work. He wandering down to Tosh’s desk, pleased to see that she had the same thought and was attempting to reach Ianto on his mobile.
“Jack, I keep getting sent to voicemail. When I try his flat, it goes right to the answerphone. His car’s up in the parking lot, but I can’t find him,” she said, worrying her lower lip. She pushed her hair out of her face and gave him a concerned look.
“I think he called a cab last night. Try CCTV,” Jack answered.
Tosh pulled up the CCTV from the night before, and both she and Jack released a breath when they saw Ianto get into a cab. They both noted, however, how slow he was walking, (no, Jack thought, make that limping), and the way his right arm was attached to his side.
“Owen!” Jack bellowed. “How bad was Ianto hurt yesterday?”
“What? How should I know? Tea-Boy saw an EMT. He didn’t say anything so I figured he was fine,” Owen said. “When am I getting my coffee by the way? I refuse to dissect this Uvornian un-caffeinated.”
“You didn’t even check him over? Watch this footage and then tell me he was ok!”
As Owen watched Ianto slowly limp over to the cab, he reached in front of Tosh to zoom in on the screen. “Shit,” he muttered. “Looks like a broken arm maybe. And something with his right leg. And he’s swaying. Maybe a concussion?”
“Ok then. Doctor Harper, you and I are going to his flat to make sure he’s ok. Tosh, what’s his address?”
“Let me pull it up. SHIT!” Suddenly all the computer screens went blank.
“What the hell just happened?” asked Jack.
“It’s Mainframe. She…I tried to get into Ianto’s personnel file and she locked me out!”
“You mean Ianto programmed her to keep people from looking at his file? Why?”
“No, Ianto had nothing to do with this. This is coming directly from Mainframe. It’s like she doesn’t want us to know about him, like she’s keeping him secret.”
Just as Owen was about to ask how a computer was able to think independently, one of the screens above their head clicked on, showing a CCTV reel of Ianto sitting in Myfawny’s nest and scratching her head.
“What the fuck? Home videos?” Own cried incredulously.
Gwen ambled over, and as the four watched, Ianto began to sing a lullaby to Myfanwy.
“Shh, shhh…I know you don’t feel well but you need to sleep. Duw, you’ll be the death of me. Shh…you don’t have to be afraid anymore. Suzie isn’t going to use that electrical rod in your training. I broke it on her. No one should have to go through that. Shh….” Ianto whispered softly.
“Suzie electrocuted the pterodactyl during training?” Jack asked.
“Ianto sings to the pterodactyl?” Own countered.
Suddenly another image popped up on the screen. It was one of Ianto with his suit jacket and waistcoat off, his undone tie hanging around his neck. He was bending hip deep into a hole in the wall and was pulling out wires. He removed the wire stripper from his mouth and said, “Don’t worry serch, I’ll have this sorted soon. Honestly, what did those engineers think they were doing? It’s as if they purposely attached the wrong wires.” As the lights dimmed, Ianto continued, “Hmm? Oh, they’re out at the pub. They went out on a search-and-retrieval at the beach. Apparently it was a dead end. They spent the day there, called to ask me to order them some food. I sent Jubilee Pizza over, put it on the Torchwood tab. How you have a secret organization with a tab, Mainframe, I’ll never know.”
“Wait, he’s talking to Mainframe?” Jack wondered.
“Shh Jack, listen,” Tosh said.
“Oh, it’s alright love. I don’t mind. Damnio these wires are stuck. Hang on.. Duw! Got it! Now let’s see how fast you can run eh? Now Owen’s porn won’t keep clogging you. Maybe you could play a trick on him for me? Delete some of his stuff? Nah, never mind. He’d figure out it was me. Hates me enough as it is, last thing he needs is more ammunition. As if I intended to spill that coffee on him! If he hadn’t tried to trip me…Right, ok, that’s done. Sorry cariadfab, have to go see to Lisa. Did I tell you that doctor was coming? I’m so sorry to have to keep her here. But you’re the only one with enough power for the unit. Last time I disconnected her….” Ianto was quiet as he looked into the distance. Suddenly he looked so old, so tired, that Jack thought he was seeing a reflection of himself.
As the screen shut off, Tosh and Jack looked at each other. “She knew,” Tosh whispered. “Mainframe knew about the cyberman and let her stay. She helped Ianto hide her. She tried to help him.”
As Jack searched for a response, a new CCTV image appeared on the screen. This time it wasn’t of the Hub or even the Plass.
“Tosh, what are we seeing?” Owen asked.
“Um, Mainframe says it’s from a camera just outside Cathays Cemetery. It’s from last night. And look, there’s Ianto getting out of a cab!” Tosh said.
“Ok Owen, with me. Tosh stay here. Go through CCTV and make sure he’s still there. If not, follow him,” Jack instructed, pulling a complaining Owen by the scruff of his shirt.