It had always been there, he knew it. Hell he saw it every day in the way that he watched her or she followed him for that one last moment with him before she went home.
It had always made him feel insecure. Unsure. Jealous.
But he'd dealt with it, or at least he told himself that every time he saw Gwen fawning after Jack. But after today he could no longer ignore it. Could no longer deny it. As long as Gwen Cooper was alive, and probably long after she was dead, she and Jack would always share "something". What that something was he wasn't sure. But whenever he was forced to watch them together he always felt that Jack was settling for second best with him. That he was only with Ianto because he couldn't be with Gwen. But from the moment that Gwen had called Jack that morning everything else had paled in significance. Gwen called and Jack had gone running. It didn't matter that he and Jack had been enjoying each other's company at the time. It hadn't mattered that he and Jack had had an amazing night together the night before. All that had mattered was Gwen.
And okay, yes he could admit that Gwen had needed their help. But did she really have to throw herself at Jack in front of everyone else?
He'd done his part. He'd put aside his own feelings, as always, and he'd done his best to make sure that her wedding day was special. And yeah, maybe it hadn't been the dream wedding that everyone pictures for themselves. But in the end it had turned out all right. The dress that he'd chosen for her was beautiful. He'd even stepped in and made sure that the cake and catering were taken care of, those small last minute problems can just be a nightmare. Then once that had been taken care of he'd helped the rest of the team to take care of the Nostrovite and the guests at the wedding. He'd never been comfortable in a large room full of people, especially screaming hysterical people. But when you worked for Torchwood you just had to handle whatever was thrown at you.
And he'd done a good job.
But when the screaming was over and Gwen had made another pass at Jack, yes he had seen her reaction when Jack had come barging in with his gun at the end, he'd felt as if he was on the outside looking in.
He had no idea how he'd ended up here.
He should have died at Canary Warf with all of the others. But for some reason he'd been spared. Spared the pain of being converted, or dying in the flames at the end of Torchwood One. At the time he hadn't understood it, had thought it was some higher power or something. That he'd been saved so that he could try and save Lisa, to take care of her. But that hadn't been it. He'd gone back to Cardiff to help her, to track down Torchwood Three. He'd heard whispers about Torchwood Three while he was at One, about the mysterious Captain Jack Harkness. But nothing had prepared him for the reality of Jack. He'd done his homework when he'd returned to Cardiff. He'd watched from a distance. He'd found out all he could about Jack and his team before he'd made contact. But even all the research he'd done had not been able to prepare him for the effect that being up close to Jack had had on him. He'd tried to deny that there was anything there, at least on his side. His research had shown him that Jack liked to flirt. With anything. But there was knowing that Jack flirted and being on the receiving end of that flirtation.
He supposed when he thought about it that way he couldn't really blame Gwen for the way she acted around Jack.
But deep down he knew that he did.
It had taken Jack saving him the night that Lisa had finally died for him to realise that he'd been lying to himself since his return to Cardiff. He'd thought that Lisa was the only thing he had to live for. But he was wrong. He'd believed that everyone had that special someone out there. He'd thought that that had been Lisa. But he'd been wrong. It had taken his world turning into hell on earth for him to realise that while he had loved Lisa, she was not "the one" for him.
But still he'd hidden.
His suits had become his shield.
His sarcasm his sword.
His coffee his saving grace.
His job his life.
But in the end he'd been unable to stop himself. While he'd been hiding and running from life, life had slapped him in the face and told him to wake up.
And Jack had been there for him. Had flirted with him, had made him laugh and had held him while he grieved and through the nightmares. Had cared for him when he was hurt and had given him space when he needed it, but had always been close at hand for when he was needed.
But the wedding had been another wake up call for him.
And he felt as if he was being cast adrift. That all he had held close for the past year was no longer his. That maybe it had never been his in the first place.
He'd watched Gwen and Rhys get married.
Had watched as Owen realised that he would never be able to have what Gwen now had, while Tosh had come to the conclusion that she would be single for the rest of her life, and Jack as he watched Gwen declaring her love for Rhys. He'd seen the look that had briefly cross his lovers face. He'd seen the pain and the loss as Gwen said "I Do" to someone else. And he'd felt his own heart break. And he knew that no matter how much he loved Jack and would love him for the rest of his life, he was nothing more than a blip on Jack's screen. Jack would live forever, and let's face it, working for Torchwood meant you had a much shorter life expectancy.
So he'd done what he did best. He'd continued to work behind the scenes to make sure that Gwen's reception ran smoothly. He'd joined Jack, Tosh and Owen for the meal then he'd slipped away and had taken care of the music.
He'd spent most of the night djing, thinking and watching. He'd watched his friends interacting, seen them laughing and joking. He watched as Gwen glowed with happiness. And he watched as his world fell apart again.
He'd put a slower romantic song on, hoping to get some of the older people up on the dance floor. And it had worked. He'd been especially pleased when he'd seen Owen asking Tosh to dance. But then Jack had gotten up as well and had cut in on Rhys for a dance with the bride. Even from a distance he could see the pain and wistfulness in Jacks expression and movements. He could see Gwen soaking up Jack's attention. He could see them talking, smiling and laughing together and he felt the last shards of his heart shatter.
It was time to face facts and cut his looses while he still could. But first he wanted one last happy memory to take with him. He'd set up the music so that he could be gone for a while and then made his way over to Jack and Gwen to cut in. He just wanted one dance with Jack.
He knew that Gwen was surprised when he turned to Jack instead of her, and his couldn't help the spark of joy he got from that. Petty? Well yes, he could admit that it was petty. But then he wasn't the one lusting after someone else's partner.
He wasn't sure how to go about it at first, yes they had danced together before, but never in public! But then Jack had smiled and pulled him close. And he was man enough to admit, even if it was only to himself, that he was soaking up as much of Jack as he could. This would be the last time that he allowed himself to be this close to Jack. He deserved better than to be second best. And it was time to make his stand.
He would continue his work with Torchwood.
He would continue to take care of the others.
He would continue to look out for his family.
But after tonight he would resurrect the walls around his heart. He wouldn't allow himself to be hurt again, to love again.
He would bury himself in his work.
It would be enough.
It had to be.