Title: Grief

Author: Estella Greenleaf

Rating: T

Disclaimer: I do not own anything.

Author's Note: I am a horrible person. I wrote something for the first time in over a year, and it is not related to Lord of the Rings or 300. Please don't hate me.

Author's Note: This stand-alone piece is written as a potential set up for an alternate universe 'fix' for the events in Children of Earth. The larger story, I will not post unless it is finished (yes, I have learned my lesson!!). For now, I hope you will enjoy this depressing little vignette.

Dull eyes stared into a distance, looking but not quite seeing. Shaky fingers reached for his glass by instinct, bringing it to lips that could once charm birds out of the trees. He downed the contents in a single gulp, reveling in the way the amber liquid burnt his throat. He liked it, the pain; it was a welcomed distraction from the grief wrecking havoc on his senses. He had always cared more than he let on; but this… this soul crushing sense of regret… he never thought himself capable of feeling…caring… that much.

He had been so sure then, that it was just a bit of fun on the side, no strings attached. After all, love was when someone rocked his world and inspired him to be a better man; and the young man who had warmed his nights did neither. The dashing Welshman was just there, convenient and willing. Companions with benefits, that's what he thought they were, clinging to each other because the ones they truly loved were gone. It wasn't until the day they walked through death's door together and he came back alone that he realized what they had shared was so much more.

It had hurt then; but there wasn't time to wallow. Too much was at stake. Another life… another loss… he found himself numb. It was time to move on, to find a new life in a faraway land. Yet, for all the wonders of the universe, solace eluded him; the carnal pleasures he'd once relished in offered him no joy. With every nightly escapade, every morning of waking alone, the nagging sense of wrongness grew. Memories of happier times haunted him; and he saw for the first time the things that could have been. So much time wasted… so much left unsaid… if only he'd understood sooner: Love was when someone accepted him despite the secrets and the flaws against all odds, when a simple kiss could take his breath away. Love was when he was with Ianto – and it was gone.