Ianto wasn't sure why he bothered going after Jack that third time, Torchwood would have caught the pterosaur eventually – but he went anyway, chasing the damn thing down while still wearing the suit he'd gone to see the funeral director in. The same suit he'd planned Lisa's funeral in.
He'd been too late, not nearly smart enough, or fast enough and she was dead. But he'd still gone after Captain Jack Harkness – and he'd still shown up for work at Torchwood Three the next day.
If asked later, he'd say he had no choice, no where else to go, but the truth was probably that he was too afraid not to show up. Too afraid that Jack Harkness would find out what he'd done and for some reason, he didn't want that. For some reason he couldn't fathom, he didn't want him knowing what Ianto had done, had tried to do.
The first few months were easy, Jack flirted of course, but Ianto realised quickly that he did so indiscriminately, no matter how often he complimented Ianto on the suits, he would turn around five minutes later and make suggestive comments to one of the others about their weekend plans.
Gwen's arrival didn't change much for Ianto, he was still just the tea boy, relegated to cleaning up after the heroes. It suited him, in the first months after Lisa's death, it suited him not to have to involve himself with the team. And then they'd gone 'camping'.
Team building in the extreme perhaps, but after that things changed. Not all at once, but slowly, like the petals of a flower opening. Jack took him home, cleaned him up and held him as he cried through nightmares.
Ianto told him that night, although he was never sure why, but he did. In the darkness as Jack held him, running surprisingly gentle fingers through freshly washed hair, Ianto told him about Lisa.
"She was dead before you saved her Ianto," Jack told him softly. "Even if you'd gotten her into Torchwood, it would have been too late."
It wasn't meant vindictively and he didn't take it as such, but it hurt, it made his heart break all over again for the woman he'd loved... Jack held him through fresh tears and it was never mentioned again.
Suzie changed things forever. Oh they'd danced around it, looks, touches, one memorable kiss that Ianto was sure would have resulted in them fucking right there in Jack's office if the rift alarm hadn't sounded, but after Suzie, the dam broke and there was no turning back.
It wasn't love, sometimes it wasn't even sex, just fucking, desperation, comfort, need, fear and relief. Jack gave his body freely and Ianto returned the favour, with only the slightest reticence. If Jack knew he'd never been with a man before him, he never commented on it and Ianto was grateful.
And then Jack died.
Ianto knew of course, how could he not, the hours he'd spent haunting the hub, too afraid to go home to an empty apartment. He'd figured Jack out within a month, but Jack didn't talk about it and Ianto never asked. But knowing and seeing were two different things and he'd never seen Jack die before.
Those few days while Gwen watched over Jack, Ianto hated her, hated her for doing what he couldn't, because he had no right, they'd had sex, but it wasn't supposed to be love... it wasn't love, but it... it hadn't just been sex in the end either and it hurt, it hurt in a way that Ianto thought might finally kill him.
Jack had saved him after Lisa, but who would save him after Jack?
And then Jack lived.
He came back to them, still too pale and Ianto felt the slightest tremor when Jack hugged him, when Jack kissed him, soft and real and Ianto felt broken and fixed in the same heartbeat. Jack was back and maybe there was a second chance, a chance to fix the mistakes he'd made. Jack would give him another chance, Ianto knew he would.
But before he could ask for it, before he could formulate the words to tell Jack he was sorry... Jack left.
Ianto wasn't sure why he bothered to keep going. Torchwood would go on without him, but still he went. He turned up at work the next day in a freshly laundered suit and did his job.
If asked later, he'd say he had no choice, no where else to go, but the truth was probably that he was afraid not to show up. Afraid that Jack would come back, afraid that he wouldn't. Afraid that it wouldn't matter either way, or maybe that it would. Afraid that somewhere along the way, it would stop mattering.
Almost relieved when it did.