Sometimes Ianto found himself dreaming of Lisa at weird hours of the night. And always, the moment he opened his eyes, she was reduced to a fading imprint in the back of his mind, all that was left of her being a lingering feeling of disappointment rising in his chest. He never woke up screaming—tears streaming down his face, yes, but it was a strangely calm experience, almost collected. It scared him, for reasons he could not quite put into words. The world around him during these times was still fast asleep; he felt as if he was caught between a world of dark and a world of light, awash in the creeping shadows of the tree branches outside his window. He’d never felt lonelier than during these quiet minutes of the night, grasping desperately for some semblance of the girl he had loved but finding nothing.
In the days to come he would go to work and spend hours watching Jack move about in his office, studying his every quirk and mannerism, thinking of ways to make him feel the utter hurt and loss that he had forced upon him. Jack would call a meeting, and Ianto would plaster a smile on his face and make the Torchwood team’s respective coffee orders, down to the last perfect detail. He would watch them joke around and go out on missions, and at the end of the day he would clear their shit up. No questions asked. As if nothing had changed. As if they hadn’t stood next to him and killed his girlfriend right in front of his eyes. Fuck. He hadn’t forgotten. And he couldn’t help but see Lisa every time any one of them spoke to him, couldn’t help but hurt all over.
One night Jack came in drenched in rain, the expression on his face somewhat unreadable—desperate, perturbed, almost panicked underneath the wonted coldness. Gwen said that Jack had lost someone very important to him, a long time ago. But death had always followed Jack closely; he practically bathed in it. Ianto watched as Jack strode up to his office and fell against his desk, shaking ever so slightly. Something told him it wasn’t from the cold. It made Ianto think of the numerous other times when Jack fell silent (not simply quiet but a kind of silent that Ianto could feel in the air around him), when he seemed to be simmering in his own recycled emotions. It was during these times that Ianto looked at Jack and saw more years in his eyes than he had ever seen in another living man’s. It was almost tantalizing, in a dark, inexplicable way. It made Ianto feel less like an outsider, but he didn’t really know why. Perhaps it was the realization of the sheer immensity of loss in Jack’s life, that made Ianto’s own loneliness pale in comparison. It nearly knocked the wind out of him. Needless to say, this was not the reaction he had expected to have. He certainly didn’t think he would ever pity Jack. But he had been wrong. He didn’t need to wait for the chance to watch Jack suffer and die. He already was. Every day. He knew this, despite knowing next to nothing about Jack Harkness.
So one day when he found himself alone with Jack in his office, he managed nothing but to stare darkly at Jack and Jack at him, and in the silence, they both began to scratch the surface of each other’s solitude—understand, even, to some extent. There was something so dangerous about a man who could never die. He had nothing to lose, and yet he had everything to lose. A hint of tragedy woven into a life filled with limitless adventure and bold, guns-blazing glory. He wondered if Jack ever felt afraid. If he had ever loved someone. At that thought, Ianto felt a chill run down his spine, and looked away quickly. Then without a word, he rushed out, closing the door behind him. Heartbeat, breathing—visceral. He stood with his back against the door, eyes closed. Still, he could feel Jack’s resolute gaze burning into the back of his head, and somehow, miles beneath the ground, he felt the sting of the midday sun outside.