Title: Never Here
Pairing/character: Jack, Ianto
Warnings: spoilers for Cyberwoman and Ghost Machine
Disclaimer: I do not own, or make any money from the use of, these characters.
Jack was going to kill him. This time he meant it.
As if the day hadn’t been bad enough. Estelle, Jasmin, the rest of the team refusing to speak to him. As if Ianto’s return from suspension hadn’t been awkward enough.
No, he had to come back to the Hub and discover this. It was just lucky he had asked Toshiko to upgrade some of the security features while Ianto was away.
It had already been an awful day and coming back to find an alarm indicating that the secure archives has been breached hadn’t made it any better. Tracing Ianto’s current whereabouts to the sub-basement just made things that much worse.
He didn’t need to look to figure out where his soon-to-be-former-employee was and didn’t waste time checking to see what had been removed from the archives. He found the room on instinct and braced for the worst.
He wasn’t completely sure what he was expecting, only that it wasn’t this.
Ianto was more broken than he had suspected.
Jack holstered his Webley and watched from the doorway. It had only taken a second to identify the slumped figure sitting in the center of the room, but it took a moment longer to identify the quantum transducer, the ghost machine.
“You shouldn’t be here,” Jack said softly.
Ianto startled, shock, horror, and guilt showing for an instant before he replaced his usual, if somewhat paler than usual, stoic mask. The lack of a witty reply was telling, as were the red-rimmed eyes and tear tracks down Ianto’s face.
“What are you doing?” Jack asked, crossing his arms and leaning against the doorframe.
“I thought…maybe…I’m sorry…I wanted to…” Ianto trailed off, looking lost.
“What did you see?” Jack asked, voice softer, as he moved into the room.
“What did you see? What did it show you?” he asked, nodding towards the artifact in Ianto’s hand.
Ianto paused and looked down, as if just noticing what he was holding. “I thought maybe there would be something of Lisa still here, some trace of emotion, a happy memory.”
”And?” Jack prompted when Ianto did not continue. “What did you feel?”
“Gwen’s fear, your anger, my own…”
Jack moved across the room to crouch down near Ianto, noting the way Ianto’s body shook. “What did you see?” he prompted again, gently this time.
“She was never really here,” Ianto sobbed. “Lisa. There was no emotion, nothing of her left.”
“Yeah, she was gone as soon as the conversion started,” Jack replied, pulling Ianto against his chest. “I’m sorry. I know you loved her, but what you brought here, it wasn’t her. It used her memories to manipulate you, but she was gone.” Jack closed his hand over Ianto’s, brushing against the warm metal clutched there. At the sudden and overwhelming sense of grief and guilt, Jack pulled the quantum transducer free and tossed it across the room.
“I’m sorry,” Ianto slurred, suddenly slumping against Jack’s shirtfront.
“Shh. I’ve got you,” Jack reassured the now unconscious man in his arms. He toggled his comms before carrying Ianto from the room. “Owen, I need you back here now… It’s Ianto, I think he’s gone into psychic shock… No, he created a feedback loop with his own emotions…”