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zabbers in fairytaleweekly

Just a Story, Zabbers, PG

Hello hello! It's been ages, but the fairy tale style called to me, and produced this. No little match girls (which I have totally done a little joking thing about Sheppard all lost in the snow because of his terrible sense of direction and deciding it was just too hard to find his bearings and sitting down and being all woobie, and then someone comes along to lead him to the nice warm pub that's only like two feet away, observing that he looks like the little match girl--before I saw this challenge), just a sad little boy.

Title: Just a Story
Author: Zabbers
Rating: PG or so
Fandom: Torchwood
Main Characters/Pairing: Ianto (Ianto/Lisa, teeny tiny bit of Ianto/Jack)
Summary: You could call it a fairy tale, but as you know, it doesn't have a happy ending. Still, it starts with 'once upon a time'. It's just a story. Ianto's story. I imagine Ianto telling this story to some people who don't really know what he's talking about, perhaps around the fire, it's raining outside, and he's got a nice hot cup of coffee in his hands. Which is basically how I wrote this tale, around the proverbial fire of the instant messenger chat.
Warnings: Spoilers for 1x04 "Cyberwoman", Doctor Who 2x12-13 (and the whole history leading to that, but just barely, just from Ianto's perspective). Just the deaths that happen in canon.

Once upon a time there was a boy.

And he was a clever boy, but a naive boy. He was inexperienced in the ways of the world, having spent his life in a small community.

Because he was clever, he went away to school. He learned a great deal, but schools, as you might know, are not places one goes for Worldly Experience. He was a good student, of course, studious and good, and he learned how not to expose himself and his rather provincial and crude roots.

Now, the day came when he was to leave the school and be sent out into the world. He completed his courses and sat his exams, and when the results were posted, many came and courted him. School, despite its sheltered nature, had widened his horizons, and he wished to follow that line between the earth and sky into the unknown.

Perhaps he chose unwisely.

The boy moved to a Great and Sparkling City, full of life, full of things to be experienced. He went to work in a fortress in the center of the city; some might have called it a magical castle, but he saw it for what it was, a pirates' stronghold, a repository for the hoarding of all the wondrous things of the universe. Still, his work was challenging, and he saw things he had never imagined he would see. It was full of young people, all clever and interesting and from all over the land. Such stories they had to tell! The boy listened to all the stories, filling them away in his mental database.

And then one day, the boy met a girl.

You knew there'd be a girl in this eventually, didn't you? Of course you did.

Really, it was the girl who met the boy, who saw him and loved him and made him her own. It was no accident. For though the boy imagined he controlled his destiny, his fumblings in the dark were nothing in comparison to the instinctual knowledge of the girl, of all girls.

She loved him because he was clever and focused and driven. He loved her because she was wild and impulsive and free-spirited. And so, so beautiful. They roamed the Shining City, slept under the twinkling lights of the warm, dark night, and in the day cataloged treasures in the towering keep, happy together.

But happiness was not to last.

Happiness never does, you know.

There was this war, see. Well, there had been one, an epic war, fought upon celestial battlefields we can only imagine. A war that broke the powers fighting it, scattering the people to every corner. And in the shattered remains, many smaller wars flared, those who otherwise would have been kept in check by the greater powers became strong, waged their own wars. It was only a matter of time before all this trouble came to a head. And of course it did so all at once.

The armies marched on the castle stronghold. Those within it had become too self-confident, too sure of themselves after putting out a few small fires. They had taken too many risks, allowed what was in effect a trojan horse into their castle.

Two armies, each in its own right more than adequate to destroy all, stormed the fortress, one from within, one from without. The defending forces were decimated, the castle burned. So many died, so many were taken by the invaders. The girl, she was among the taken.

But the boy was brave, and he was clever, and he loved her so very very much. He went after her, he crept through the castle, snuck into the place the invading army was keeping the prisoners. He didn't know how, but as it turned out, these armies--both of them--were to be defeated soon. That was probably the only way he was able to rescue her.

Amid the flames, amid the screaming, and the chaos of the panicking armies and the original occupants of the castle trying not to be caught, the boy was able to pull her out of the flames, to hide her away, and to evade the clean up crews after the armies were defeated. For you see, the prisoners were tainted. They had been converted into the very monsters who made up one of the armies. And they all had to die. But they didn't understand, the girl was only partially converted before the boy rescued her.

So he kept her hidden, he nursed her wounds, he sat with her in the dark as she moaned with pain, he took care of her as well as he could. When he went back to their now-empty home for a few hours' sleep in the small hours, he never actually slept. He'd make himself dry toast and strong tea and sit there staring at it, unable to choke it down, and then he would weep. He was so helpless, and she was in so much pain, and she needed him, and so he would drag himself back to where he had hidden her to sit with her for another few hours before he had to go back to work in the ruined castle. There was a lot of clean up to do. Every moment of the clean up was a sharp reminder of what had happened. Eventually, they finished salvaging what there was left, and the few survivors were to be sent away. Many of them chose to leave that life. They chose to forget, and to turn new leaves, put it all behind them.

But the boy couldn't forget. He had responsibilities. He had the memories.

So he agreed to stay on. He was sent to a smaller fortress--a dungeon, really, hidden in the ground like a rat's nest. He brought the girl with him, of course, snuck her into the dungeon, where he could continue to care for her. And to keep her safe, he slaved for the masters of the castle. He pretended to be grateful. He spent a lot of time listening to her whimper. She was not lucid very often, thank god. Sometimes he wondered if he had done the right thing, hiding her from her would-be executioners.

But he had worked so hard to keep her alive. And he had no one left. The people he worked for--they were oblivious. The leader of their little band, especially. The boy fell in with him. He told himself it was for the girl, but I don't think he knew why, not really.

Then they were discovered.

Because the boy just wasn't clever enough, or good enough.

She died, that's all.

The end.

I'm sorry.