Note: General spoilers for season two.
It isn't any slow dwindling thing, not on his part. The realization comes all at once, startling and obvious and of course. Ianto's never been good at realizing a relationship was over. He kept Lisa in that basement for months.
Still, he's learned quite a lot since then, and standing there, watching Jack watching Gwen--it hits him that it's over, as sure as that time Lisa threw him across the room.
Ianto would leave if he had anywhere to go. The sad truth is if he stayed after Lisa, he can stay after this, and if every part of him still hurts he hasn't stopped moving and he isn't going to, now, either. It's actually kind of funny how little changes at all. Jack doesn't even realize that he's been broken up with for almost a month.
"You haven't been over for awhile," Jack says.
Ianto says, "Oh, I'm not having sex with you anymore. Have a pleasant evening, sir. I'll see you in the morning."
And as he left he found that moving hurt a little less.
Jack says nothing the next day, or rather, he says nothing about this. There is still the flirtations, the innuendos, an edge to it maybe that had been absent the day before. But he says nothing.
He makes the coffee and he cleans the guns. He mops up the blood in holding cell 2B. He goes home again.
His apartment is such an ordinary place, it is nothing like Torchwood. The others used to take bits and pieces home, things they grew attached to, like Suzie with her glove. Ianto never did. Jack was the only thing he ever thought to keep, but he'd been as foolish as the rest of them.
He could have an ordinary life here, if that was what he wanted. He's sure he would fit right in.
Ianto feels sick and a little horrified, the next day, standing in the middle of the hub. His black polished shoes are at the edge of that muddy water and he can hear the fountain overhead, running, and running.
There is so much mess in this place, so much dirt and blood and dust.
Owen and Tosh and Gwen walk through it, oblivious. Jack knows it's there and it doesn't bother him. Ianto's not sure which way is worse, which aspect he envies. He's not sure how much longer he can do this.
Jack grabs his wrist later, as Ianto stacks the papers on his desk. In. Out. Signed. Pending.
"What did I do wrong?" Jack asks.
Ianto says, "What does it matter?" and Jack lets him go.
The idea starts slowly, a lingering little thing, just a last resort at first. Ianto keeps the pill bottle in his coat pocket, like a contingency plan. Jack's so fond of those, Ianto's sure he'd understand.
He never quite allows himself to think he'll actually go through with it. Not at first.
Not until this night, when the others are gone and Jack is standing in front of the door, determined and dangerous and all of those things that Ianto admired once.
"I want to know what happened between us," Jack says.
"I used to think you were far too good for me, do you know that?" Ianto says. "But you're not. You're just like the rest of us, maybe worse. Because you've had longer to learn and you're still making the same mistakes."
"I can't learn if you don't tell me what I've done," Jack snaps.
"You won't change even if I do," Ianto says. "You don't see it as wrong."
"Ianto," Jack says. "I want to know."
"You don't know who I am," Ianto says. "That's the problem, Jack. You don't know me. Maybe I could have lived with that, but I don't think you care who I am, and I deserve someone who does."
"That isn't true," Jack says.
"I bet you could tell me Gwen's life story," Ianto says.
"Because she's told me hers," Jack snaps. "It's not that I haven't asked."
"It is," Ianto says. "Because you haven't."
Jack must have noticed it was missing from the medicine stock, because he kicks down the door without even knocking and comes charging through. Ianto's sitting at the table and the pill bottle is open on the surface, empty.
Jack grabs him by the arm and pulls him to his feet. "What have you done?"
"You know, or you wouldn't be here. I know it's so far out of your way." Ianto lets Jack lean him against the wall. The room is blurring. His thoughts are unraveling, one by one, and all the anger is fading along with all of the pain and the grief.
Jack actually looks terrified, and Ianto watches him, wondering how that's possible. "Why would you do this?" he asks. "We could have--you're--"
"I put my resignation letter in the mail," Ianto says. "I would have given two weeks notice but honestly I couldn't have stood it."
"Ianto," Jack says. "Ianto, I love you. I do. Gwen's just, she was just--"
"Don't say it," Ianto says. "It makes it worse, not better, if you're only toying with her life as well."
"I never meant to toy with any of you," Jack says. "Nothing is this complicated where I come from."
"You've been here longer than anywhere, so that excuse doesn't work now," Ianto says. "Please. Please, leave. You can't be here when I wake up. I won't know you."
"I love you, Ianto," Jack says. He has tears in his eyes, and Ianto can see the lights bounce off them, like tiny little mirrors. "I would have fixed this eventually. I would have."
Ianto gives a choking laugh. "Of course, you say that now, when you know I won't remember."
"I could find you again," Jack says, hands resting on Ianto's neck, close enough that he can smell the salt in his tears. "I could find you and I could do it right next time."
"But you won't," Ianto says. "And you wouldn't. You'd do the same thing, and so would I."
"I love you," Jack says again. "How could you not know that?"
"Because you don't," Ianto says. "Not like I love you. Please, please, Jack, just leave me be. Don't find me. Don't."
Jack kisses him on the forehead. He says, "goodbye" and "I'm sorry" and then he leaves.
Ianto wakes up in his apartment. His apartment is an ordinary kind of place except for the curiously broken latch on his door. He doesn't remember moving there. He remembers a job offer by a woman in London and supposes nothing came of it.
There are images of people like ghosts in the back of his head. A pretty pretty girl with skin that's cold like metal and a man with dark hair and a wicked grin. They press at the back of his mind, shouting like they're trying to get out, tearing through his mind to something--something.
Ianto shrugs them both off like the remnants of a dream. He has a life to build, and no time for them.
If they were important at all he's sure he would remember.