Wind in the Wires
Eighth Doctor, Ianto Jones, (Ianto/Lisa);
PG-Rated; Pre-Torchwood S1; 2000words;
Follows on from, but is set before, “Romancing the Storm”.
It all started on a similarly stormy night as Ianto leant upon the railings overlooking the Thames River on a relatively secluded area of Canary Warf. There was an office party going on in the Torchwood headquarters that he’d managed to escape from for a few moments; October thirty-first bringing with it the irony of a Halloween Party, as if they didn’t deal with enough of the supernatural in real life.
He shook his head with a fond enough smile and looked out across the choppiness of the water spread out before him. It was cold out, the wind picking up from a cold breeze to a bone-biting howl and Ianto shivered, his suit jacket was still inside along with the gangster type hat Lisa had brought for him, instinctively knowing that he’d never consent to dressing up for this occasion.
It explained why she had been so insistent he wear the pinstriped suit today when he’d been more inclined to wear the grey. She knew him far too well sometimes and knew exactly how to bend him to her will. He smiled affectionately at the thought of her, shaking his head as he realised how easily she’d played him that morning.
Footsteps from behind him made him turn instinctively, his eyes searching through the dully lit area to pick out the man approaching him. Ianto eyed the mess of shoulder-length curls he wore with something akin to amusement.
“Good evening,” the stranger greeted with a wide smile as he moved up towards the railings, conscious of keeping a polite distance between them as he stared out into the darkness of the night.
Ianto nodded his greeting, his eyes flickering to roam across the well-dressed figure beside him. Well-dressed, if a little outdated, he was likely another Torchwood employee seeking refuge from the horrors of the office party.
“I think it may storm,” the man said, turning suddenly towards him and Ianto felt himself freeze as startlingly blue eyes met his own. The man smiled and cocked his head a little, causing Ianto to shake himself and look away. He focussed his attentions on the dark clouds above them, moving slowly overhead and blocking out the stars and the crescent moon he’d noticed earlier that evening.
“Yes,” he agreed after a beat, realising the man was waiting for a reply. He swallowed away the sudden nervousness curling his belly, not understanding the reasoning behind it.
He turned suddenly, “I’m Ianto Jones,” he said, holding out a hand on impulse. The man graced him with a slow smile as he reached out without hesitance to clasp firmly at his hand.
“Nice to meet you, Ianto Jones,” was all he said, squeezing at his hand a second too long before releasing his grip and allowing Ianto to slide his hand away.
Ianto waited for the man to share his own name, the silence between them allowed to grow uncomfortably long and Ianto found himself shifting his weight ever so slightly at the perceived awkwardness; the man was still watching him.
“Um,” he cleared his throat, “who are you dressed as?” He enquired, hoping to break the stare the other man was using on him.
“Dressed as?” Ianto watched as the man’s brow furrowed in confusion. “I don’t understand.”
“You’re not at the party?” Ianto questioned. At the continued look of confusion he added, “It’s Halloween.”
“Ah, no,” The man smiled suddenly, “no I’m not! I hadn’t realised the date…” he reached into his breast pocket and withdrew an antique watch from it, seeming to study it for a moment whilst muttering what sounded to Ianto very much like ‘curiouser and curiouser’, but he couldn’t be sure.
“And what are you dressed as, if I may enquire?” The man snapped his watch closed, slipping it away and looking up at him once more.
“I’m not dressed up.” Ianto answered.
“Oh. Why ever not?” The man asked and Ianto shrugged.
“I suppose I’m not all that big a fan of Halloween,” he felt something cold hit his cheek and he reached up to find it wet. Another droplet of watcher touched his hand and Ianto looked up, unable to see a thing, but feeling a few more splatters of icy-cold rain instead. A rumble of thunder suddenly rent the air and Ianto stepped away from the railing.
“I should return to the party,” he said to the man, feeling obliged to offer a reason for his pending departure.
“You do not like the rain?” The man asked with a smile that Ianto found himself returning.
“I don’t mind the rain; it’s the getting wet part I’m generally against.”
“Yes, I can see how that could put a damper on things.”
Ianto let loose a bark of laughter before he could stop himself. The man grinned widely at him, his own laughter shining in his eyes.
“You know, there’s a region on the Sonbea Peninsula where the rain that falls does not wet anything it touches. It simply fizzles away into nothingness upon contact. Like sherbet upon the tongue. It’s quite fascinating really. And tickles, if I remember rightly. Though I can’t be sure. That could have been another place and time. Strange how memories mix and merge till you cannot tell the one from the other. It used to be all so clear in my mind and then poof suddenly everything is all over the place and- oh dear, do forgive me, I appear to be getting away with myself!”
“Umm…” Ianto stared at him with wide eyes, “I really should get going,” he said softly, inching his way around the other man and wondering if he looked crazy enough to try and pounce him the moment he turned his back.
The man merely smiled at him. “I never introduced myself, did I?”
And Ianto stopped, caught off-guard. “No,” he agreed, “no you didn’t.”
“Again, please forgive me. It’s been a while since I’ve been around humans. One tends to forget the niceties after too long.”
“Humans?” Ianto- well, he wouldn’t say he squeaked, but the word was said in a rather higher pitch of voice than was his norm.
“Yes, humans,” the man frowned. “This is Earth, is it not?”
Ianto nodded a little dumbly. Jumping slightly as a flash of lightning lit up the sky.
“Oh, good! That would have been more than a little embarrassing.” And he laughed, the sound so carefree and innocent that Ianto didn’t think to use his momentary distraction as the opportune moment to escape back to the Torchwood building.
“Who are you?” Ianto dared to ask as the man’s laughter died away. His mouth was dry and his palms sweaty, his stomach churning with something he couldn’t quite name as he beheld the man before him.
“I’m known as the Doctor,” the man- the Doctor- replied simply, his hands slipping into his coat pockets as he watched Ianto’s reaction to his words and waited for the inevitable “Doctor who?”. He was quickly disappointed.
“Which incarnation?” Ianto asked, suppressing his initial gasp of surprise. It would certainly explain a lot if this man was who he said he was… but at the same time it could just be some loon from the office party sent out to wind him up. That sounded like something the guys from Research would do.
The Doctor frowned. “Eighth incarnation, if you must now. And whilst we’re on the subject, just how do you know?”
“I work for Torchwood.” Ianto said, but the Doctor continued to look blank. “We were set up by the Queen to protect the country from the threat of alien invasion. And… um… you.”
“Me?” He sounded genuinely shocked. “What did I do?”
It was Ianto’s turn to frown, “Well you-,”
“Wait!” The Doctor interrupted, just as another rumble of thunder sounded, a flare of lightning flashing minutes later. “Which incarnation was it?” he soon asked.
“I’m not sure exactly,” Ianto began slowly, distinctly aware of the rain slipping through his hair and down his face and the back of his neck. He shivered at the feel of it sliding beneath the collar of his shirt, “the time travel makes it a bit hard to know for certain.”
“Have you any idea what I looked like then?” The Doctor raised his eyebrows enquiringly.
“Um… well, he- you?- had ginger hair, and wore glasses and looked slightly manic… ring any bells?”
“Nope, not a one!” And suddenly he was smiling. “Best not tell me anything more, Ianto Jones, he sounds like a future me. And we don’t want to be causing any paradoxes or anything. Nasty business those. But no matter, how would you like to travel with me?”
“I- what?” Ianto stepped hurriedly back.
“Travel,” the Doctor repeated as if he hadn’t said anything out of the ordinary, “I could show you the universe, Ianto Jones. Get you away from the day to day dullness of life on earth. Though your species does have its moments, don’t mistake me, but I can offer you a life of excitement and adventure. What do you say?”
“I can’t travel with you!” Ianto blurted, feeling oddly bad when he saw the Doctor’s face fall.
“Why not?” He asked.
“I- because I can’t.” Ianto stumbled on his words.
“That’s not really a reason you know.” Ianto gaped at his words, the Doctor shrugged, “Well it’s not.”
“I…” Ianto shook his head. “This is ridiculous. Even if you are who you say you are- and I’m not saying I believe you are. Who you say you are, that is. But… I have a life here. A life I do actually enjoy, thank you very much. So, no. Just… just no.”
“Really?” The Doctor pressed, “are you sure? Not even one trip, a taster if you were?”
And despite himself, Ianto felt himself waver at the offer. How often had he wished to just up and leave? To leave England, and Britain, and the whole goddamned planet. But… that was before, when he’d been between jobs and friends. That was before Torchwood, and Lisa. He couldn’t just… not now when… the very thought of leaving behind the life he’d managed to scrape for himself at this exact moment in time though tempting- very, very tempting- was impossible to comprehend. Any life without Lisa in it was just incomprehensible to him.
The Doctor was watching him, eyes eager for an answer. Ianto shook his head, shivering against the rain and wind.
“I’m sorry. I can’t.” And he turned and hurried away before the man- Doctor- could say anything further. His heart pounded so loudly in his ears, an explicable fear that he was making the biggest mistake of his life assailing him but he forced himself to quicken his pace till he stood, dripping wet and frozen to the bone, inside the reception of Torchwood One. He sucked in a deep breath, stomach twisting into knots. Was it too late to turn back?
A towel was dropped unceremoniously atop his head and removing it, Ianto found Lisa standing beside him. Though she had her arms crossed disapprovingly she was smiling. Ianto smiled back, shyly (guiltily).
“What are you like,” she tutted, grabbing at his arm and dragging him in the direction of the party. “Honestly, Ianto, most people would think to go back inside when it starts to rain,” she shook her head at him and rolled her eyes.
“There’s nothing wrong with the rain,” he felt himself saying before jerking to a sudden stop.
“Ianto? What is it, love?” Lisa looked at him with concern but he just shook his head, leaning in to kiss her quickly before offering her a smile.
“It’s nothing. Just the pneumonia setting in, no doubt,” and she laughed, cuffing his arm and taking his hand.
“Come on, you.” And he went, squeezing at her fingers as he stepped into the garishly decorated hall and pushed all thoughts of the Doctor and his offer from his mind. For Now.
[ end. ]
[ written as part of Caspe-Wri-Mo ]