Weeks spent in the whirlwind of loss, trapped in the automation of routine. No diversions permitted. Nothing to break his concentration on the mundane. The day is plotted as tightly as a military campaign or a surgical incision: tidy, file, make coffee, feed last night’s leftovers to Myfanwy. Over, and over again.

He has bought a dozen suits identical to the one Jack liked best. Each morning he dresses the same, lifts his eyes slowly to the image in the mirror hoping to see a familiar figure reflected over his shoulder. Each morning he swallows his disappointment, fixes a half smile on his face with all the animation of a rictus, leaves for the office with a secret hope.

A year ago he yearned for a fast car and a large house to impress his girlfriend. Now he aches for the moist warmth of breath against his neck, for long sensitive fingers to slip between the buttons of his shirt and toy with the hairs on his chest. Somewhere between these poles he has slipped off the shackles of materialism for something less tangible.

At night he dreams of their last kiss, the king returned from the dead to greet his chamberlain. The quick darting of Jack’s tongue. The sweetness and the coolness of his lips. The knowing strength of his hand on the small of his back, brushing the curve of his buttocks. Sometimes he wakes with the flood of release. Sometimes he wakes with the utter fear that beauty has gone out of his world. That his only chance of true happiness has fluttered away in the wind just out of reach.

He carries a gun now, hidden in his jacket. It has become a thing of comfort. In the quiet of his office he takes it out and feels the weight of it lying in his palm, reminding him in its way of Jack’s heaviness. When the pain of remembrance becomes too much he goes down the old stairwell in search of Owen, the weapon hard against his thigh.