Title: The World's Keepe
Author: JerBearThompson
Rating: I suppose G…
Spoilers: None really. It wouldn't hurt to have seen Exit Wounds but it doesn't really matter if you haven't, hopefully won't give anything away.
Genre: …Hurt?
Characters: Ianto, Jack, Gwen
Length: A bit over 1,000 words. Very short.
Summary: He should have just listened to Ianto.
Disclaimer: The usual. Not mine, but if you actually know what Torchwood is (which I'm guessing everyone here does) you'll know that already.

Notes: This is my first Torchwood fic… In fact, it's my first fan fic EVER. So… please be kind. It was inspired by the end of an episode of Scrubs I was watching. Con-crit is welcomed. It's not beta'd so please forgive any mistakes. I only just got the idea at about 11:30, and it is now 12:20 in the morning so… sorry if my brains not functioning quite as it should. Enjoy?

The World's Keeper.

Jack breathed in the smell of fresh coffee, closing his eyes against the aroma washing over his face. Then he slowly took his first sip of the hot liquid, savoring the taste.

'Best coffee in the world, have I told you that?'

Ianto smiled smugly and shoved his hands into his pockets, or rather, slid his hands into his pockets. Ianto never shoved.

'Want to say something, or shall I just carry on?' Jack asked conversationally, taking another sip from the blue and white striped mug.

Ianto stared around him, taking in the serenity of being outdoors. The wash of green against his eyes, with the sound of birds whistling softly in the background as the wind ruffled his hair. 'Lovely day,' is all he said, at long last.

'It is,' Jack agreed, his heavy sigh belying his words. 'I still don't know why you dragged me out here, though.'

'You needed the fresh air,' Ianto surmised with a shrug of his shoulders. 'Sometimes even you have to get away from real life. All this death… this grief… you shouldn't carry it all on your shoulders. You can't think of yourself as the world's keeper, Jack. You shouldn't have to. You're only a man.'

Jack chuckled softly, casting his eyes downward with a sad shake of his head. 'You always think you know what's best for me.'

At this, Ianto turned sharply and stared him straight in the eye. 'I do,' he said evenly.

Now it was Jack's turn to return the gaze, a thin smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. 'I know you do, it's why I… why I…'

There was a heavy puff in which Jack could or could not have breathed the words love you.

Perhaps it didn't matter. Perhaps they both already knew.

'Jack, promise me something,' Ianto began sharply.

Anything, Jack wanted to say. But he knew that would be impractical, no matter how much he wanted to say it. If there was one thing Jack Harkness could pride himself on, it was that he was a man of his word. And a promise was just that – a definite promise.

'Name it,' he said instead, trying to smile but for the life of him just not being able to gather the sufficient energy.

'Forgive yourself.'

The way Ianto had said it, with such raw emotion, his eyes boring into the depths of Jack's very being, made the captain ache to be able to give him that one promise. One promise, one honest request, and he couldn't even do that for the man he cared so much about.

When the following silence had dragged out just enough to know Jack wasn't going to answer, but not quite long enough to be awkward, Jack said softly, 'I should have listened to you.'

Ianto just smiled amiably. 'If you had of, they would have died. You saved their lives.'

'Jack!' Gwen's voice rang out uncomfortably loud in the peace of the afternoon. 'There you are! I've been worried sick! I didn't know where you were, I thought… thought you may not… show up.'

'Don't worry Gwen, I've just been talking to Ianto,' Jack replied kindly, if somewhat distantly.

'Jack,' Gwen repeated softly, approaching the captain slowly, like she would a startled animal. 'Sweetheart,' this said in the same soft voice as gentle hands prised the cold, empty mug from the man's rigid hands. 'Why do you think you're out here?'

'Ianto…' Jack began, brows knotted together in confusion. 'Ianto brought me out here, for some fresh air.'

Gwen slowly put the cup down, nestling it within the grass at the side of the path, mentally reminding herself to pick it up later. Then she reached out and took Jack's hands tentatively in her own.

'Jack… Where do you think we are?'

It was then that Jack noticed where Ianto had brought him to. Noticed that he wasn't wearing his usual attire, but instead dressed in a smart black suit with a matching dark tie. Noticed how his hands began to shake as his vision blurred against the sight of the neat, grassy terrain studded with stones and crosses. Noticed that Ianto had gone.

'Come on, love.'

The whispered words were so soft that Jack may have imagined them, but he nodded regardless and let Gwen gently steer him toward the rows of plastic chairs laid out before a dark coffin, laden with flowers and a single photograph. A photograph of a handsome young man, his torso covered by a pristine suit, smiling contently.

Jack sat in the front row, his eyes never leaving the photograph as he clutched Gwen's hand tightly.

Too many lives, Torchwood had taken. Snatched away cruelly, while saving a world who couldn't even acknowledge their heroic actions. And they were all so young… so young…

Eventually the other seats began to fill up. There were depressingly few people, but Gwen had been adamant that Ianto deserved at least a proper burial, even if there was no body within the casket. No beautiful… perfect body…

It was then that Jack felt the first tear break away and roll hotly down his cheek. How could he be strong when the very being who kept him going was gone? Gone forever…

Forever. Jack's curse. He literally had forever to live, with the knowledge that it was because of his stubborn arrogance that he couldn't even spend at least a good century with the man he… the man he had….

The man that was gone. Because of him. He should have just listened to Ianto.

'Good evening, family, friends. We are gathered here today to honour the memory of one Ianto Jones, a man who…'

It was at that point that Jack gave in. Broke down, and cried like he hadn't allowed himself to do for centuries.

And when the service finished, he would go home. He would lie on his bed and stare blankly at the ceiling, numb, wondering if he'd ever be able to forgive himself, until morning when he would get up. When he would carry on, like he always did. Would always have to.

Because he was the world's keeper.