Summary: A secret shared is a secret halved.
Character(s): Suzie, Ianto, Lisa, Jack.
Original story: Dancing on the Camel's Back by santousha
Notes: Thanks so much to santousha - this was a great story to remix. Big thanks also to verasteine for the very helpful beta.
“Is that what they call modern art?” Suzie asks, and Ianto jumps like her words are a bullet. The blood couldn't have drained from his face any faster if she had shot him. For a second, the set of his shoulders suggests he's considering violence. She almost wishes he would – another corpse would complete the tableau, and it wouldn't be hers. She could even show the others. One look at the Cyber Conversion Unit, and no one would ever doubt it was self-defence.
The thought excites her. She steps towards him. His tongue flicks out and wets his lips. His eyes are hunted.
“Did you lift that suit from Moss Bros?” She's read his file too, and found it incongruous with the Ianto Jones that Jack had presented to her on his first day, with his perfect little comebacks, and just the right amount of smile.
His eyes rove to the unit with its pinioned doll, and back to her. Suzie holds his gaze, doesn't even glance at the third party; lets him wonder for a free-falling moment if maybe she really doesn't understand what's going on here. But then she thinks of Jack, and how pleased he is with his brand new toy, and of what a mess this is all going to be, and she can't stop the laugh from coming. He knows then, and he pulls himself straighter.
“I paid for it,” he tells her, his accent heavy with defiance.
“For Jack,” she says. It's a nicer suit than he had to buy just to come to work in. He doesn't like that; his brows come together. She looks away from him, and over at the installation. It is still, just like art, and for a moment she's not sure if the girl is even alive, or if Ianto is really that kind of graveyard ghoul, but then she stirs, and he's by her side, grasping for her hand, his eyes pecking at her face.
Suzie snorts. “Oh, Ianto Jones. Only guilty men are that attentive. Did you fuck him already? Or is it enough that you've thought about it?”
He shoots her a look of pure venom, but Suzie is immune. She moves closer.
“Does she wake up at all? Do you let her? Might be kinder not to. That way, she never has to know what she's become. What you've made her into.”
He presses closer to the unit, to his sad little marionette with her severed strings, as though he can shield her from Suzie's words.
“What was her name?” she persists.
“Lisa.” A rise and a fall, with each syllable weighted. “Her name is Lisa.”
That was on his file too, she remembers now. Missing, presumed dead. She almost feels sorry for him. It's plain he hasn't stopped running since the tower came down. He watches her, wary and still, his every breath measured. She lets him wait until the silence kills him.
“What are you going to do?” he asks.
“I'm going to watch this unfold. It's like theatre. Pantomime. You'll never get away with it.”
He frowns, and she smiles, and for a moment they are stuck like that.
“Who are you?” he asks her. He means why won't you tell? but she opts to take him literally.
“I'm the brains of this operation.” She weighs him up. He hasn't done badly, all things considered. “Do you know, Ianto Jones, I think you and I could be friends. As it happens, I have a little project I'm working on too. You could help me with it.” He'll end up helping one way or another, she thinks. If he's overcome with some parody of decency and turns her down, the glove can have him.
“We're not friends,” he says. He tightens his squeeze on his cybergirl, her hand tiny in his.
“And that's not your girlfriend, Jones, but these are your concerns, not mine.”
“What do you want?”
“Jack seldom raises his brain above crotch-level, you know. He doesn't give a fuck about you, but then that suits you, doesn't it? Well, it suits me too. I know things he'll never know.”
“Jack...” he begins, and then down looks to the mess he's made and trails away. Suzie snorts again.
“Please don't tell me you're thinking of defending him, when you're wanking him off with one hand and stabbing him in the back with the other.”
“I'm not,” he says. “I haven't touched him. He hasn't touched me.”
Suzie holds his gaze for a moment, and finds she doesn't believe him.
“You're going to fuck this up without my help,” she tells him. “You're a very confused little boy.”
“I've done alright so far,” he says, with fire; she's lit a spark. All the better.
“You've done alright, but I can see straight through you. Wherever you come from, it's not half as smart as that suit you're wearing. But Jack's never going to see that. As far as he's concerned, you are that suit you're wearing. You do know you could use that, don't you? The Captain loves his team.”
“And what's in this for you?”
“It works for me if Jack has a fuckable coffee dispenser to occupy that part of his brain which might otherwise wander. There's other things he doesn't see, and I'd rather keep it that way.”
“And if I won't?” He is counting the cost behind his eyes.
“And what if you won't? It's that, or I'm telling. Could you stop me? Could you kill me now, before I reach the stairs?” Suzie knows he doesn't have the belly for it; if he did, they wouldn't still be talking now.
“I could expose you. Say you tried to blackmail me.”
She laughs, with genuine humour, a sound that jars with the air in this sick room.
“Oh, do. We'll share and share alike. Do you think they'll believe a word you say when they see what you've done to her?”
“I didn't do...”
“Shut up,” she snaps. He does shut up, like a switch flicked off, and she knows she has him then. She smiles, to soften her words. “Let's not fight amongst ourselves. We're going to get through this. All three of us are.”
His eyes swing again to his girl in the wires, as though he is the puppet, and she has him on strings, and something in him seems to give. Suzie steps to his side, and takes him by his free hand. It's cold, and it's clammy, but he doesn't resist. She is struck by an urge to pick at his wounds.
“Let's make friends,” she tells him.
They sit together, and she makes him tell her about Lisa. Who she was, how they met, how they talked about their future. He talks as though his tongue is trying to gag him, but he answers all her questions. It's like drinking tears from his face. She wants to kiss him when she's done with him, but he's all unstuck, and she worries that he'll taste like glue.
Jack spends the next few days strutting around like a cat who's drunk on cream.
“That boy of yours is unhinged,” she remarks to him.
“Which one?” he responds.
“Classy,” she tells him.
“Middle name,” he fires back.
“I'm serious.” She's sitting on his desk, and leans in closer. “He's coming apart like a car crash. It's always the quiet ones you have to watch out for.”
“Guess I don't have to worry about you then.” His grin is the brightest thing in the darkened Hub, but there's not a stroke of warmth to it. There's things down here that will never be warm again.
Sometimes, when Ianto is otherwise occupied, she goes down to the basement and sits with his secret, and calls it by a dead girl's name.