For more than six months Ianto had been convinced he was doing what was best for Lisa, caring for her, protecting her, all the while searching for someone capable of removing the metal plates and cruel implants that marred her beauty. Now Lisa was dead, every part of her, from her half-converted body to the brain she’d transplanted into the head of an innocent young woman, and Ianto couldn’t help but wonder… when had Lisa stopped being Lisa? When had the cyber-consciousness taken over?
All the plans they’d made as she lay strapped to the life-support machinery he’d cobbled together following her instructions, where they’d go once she was healed, what they’d do… Had any of it been real, or had Lisa been nothing more than an illusion created by a cyberman to secure his willing assistance and keep him from seeing the truth? Had the cyberman deceived him, or had he deceived himself? How could he separate the truth from the fiction?
When he’d found Lisa, broken and bleeding, parts of her encased in metal or replaced by machinery, she’d pleaded with him to end her suffering, and maybe he should have done as she’d asked, but he’d been consumed by the need to save her. The way he saw it, if she was still alive, still recognised him, still loved him, and was capable of talking to him, then obviously the conversion had failed. The process had been halted before the woman he loved could be transformed into an emotionless metal monster. To kill her then, at least in Ianto’s opinion, would have been murder, not mercy. Lisa had deserved better than that, she’d deserved the chance to live, free and happy, and he’d been determined to see that she got it.
So he’d disconnected her from the machinery, despite all her protests, provided her with life-support, smuggled her out of Torchwood Tower in an unmarked van, and brought her to Torchwood Three in Cardiff, the only place he’d thought he might be able to access the equipment and resources needed to save her. He’d hidden her in the bowels of the Hub, administered painkillers and sedatives, while the machinery kept her heart beating, her blood circulating, her lungs pumping air.
When she’d been conscious and the pain not too severe, they’d talked, reminiscing about the past, planning their future, and if at times her voice had taken on a metallic edge, if her face had sometimes grown expressionless, her warm brown eyes cold and distant, he’d blamed it on the drugs. She was so doped up it was perfectly understandable that she might not always seem quite herself.
Even on those occasions she’d somehow known things about the machinery sustaining her that Lisa couldn’t possibly have known, Ianto had refused to dwell on the implications. He hadn’t wanted to accept that saving Lisa might not be possible, or worse, that Lisa herself might no longer exist in any meaningful fashion. If her mind, memories, intellect, and personality were no longer intact, was whatever remained still the woman he loved?
Now he could see that the future he’d planned for the two of them had been nothing more than a mirage, as insubstantial as mist. All the wishful thinking in the universe wouldn’t have been enough to make it real. Forty-eight hours ago, he’d been sure that his goal was within reach. Doctor Tanizaki, the cybernetics expert, had arrived and started work. Lisa had been able to breathe unaided, no longer reliant on her respirator. Everything had been going to plan, and then… It had all fallen apart.
Lisa, or rather the Cyberwoman, had killed Tanizaki while trying to upgrade him, then gone on a rampage through the Hub. She’d meant to upgrade the whole team, himself included, and from there the rest of Cardiff, Wales, Britain… She wouldn’t have stopped until everyone in the world had been converted.
Jack had been right to kill her. He’d seen the truth, understood the threat the cyberman posed, while Ianto had still been trying to make excuses for Lisa, because he loved her, because he didn’t want to accept that he’d been wrong. In some ways, the shattering of his illusions had been worse, and more painful, than finding Lisa in the first place. Back then he’d still had hope, but now with the thing that had once been Lisa dead, he had nothing left, nothing to live for.
Caring for Lisa, making plans for the future, had given Ianto a purpose, a reason to keep going no matter how difficult and exhausting it had been. Now it had all been stripped away.
Ianto didn’t blame Lisa. He couldn’t. Everything that had happened was on him. He should have listened to her at the start, when she’d been begging for death, an end to the pain. She must have felt the cyber-programming chipping away at her even then, must have known she wouldn’t be able to stay in control indefinitely. No, Lisa wasn’t to blame; she’d done the best she could to warn him. He was the one who’d failed her, preferring to believe an illusion because he was too weak, too scared, too much of a coward to face the future without the woman who meant everything to him.
Now he had no choice. He had to go on without her, had to make amends for his own stupidity. Death might be preferable, but he didn’t deserve to dodge the consequences of his actions.
His punishment would be to live.