Title: Look Down
Characters: Ianto, Jack
Summary: Ianto’s baffled by Jack’s love of rooftops. Jack explains.
Word Count: 702
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
“I just don’t get why you like roofs so much.”
Deep in thought, Jack hadn’t heard anyone approaching, but if he was startled he didn’t show it. He remained silent and unmoving as Ianto came to stand beside him, hands shoved deep in the pockets of his suit trousers. Not that it provided much protection against the chilly wind, so much more noticeable up here than it was at ground level.
Turning to lean his back against the parapet, Ianto looked up for a few moments at the clouds scudding across the night sky, giving brief glimpses of distant stars. Finally, he spoke again.
“It’s not as if it gets you much closer to the stars, and you can’t see much anyway because of the city lights.” He thought about that, then added, “Well, not unless your eyesight’s a lot better than mine.”
“It probably is a bit,” Jack told him with a smirk. “51st century genetics and all that. Your eyesight’s not the problem though. If you want to know why I spend so much time up here, you’re looking in the wrong direction.”
Ianto frowned and turned around, still looking up at the sky. Jack chuckled and shook his head.
“You’re looking up when you should be looking down.” Jack pointed down to the streets below and Ianto’s gaze followed. “What do you see?”
“The street, traffic, a few pedestrians. A lot of litter. Normal stuff.”
A soft snort came from Jack.
“Nothing. You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t notice the litter. That’s not the important thing.”
“Not to you maybe.” Ianto sounded ever so slightly miffed.
“Every day, we put our lives on the line, some days more than others, and that’s why do it. For those people down there, so they can go on about their lives, doing all the normal things they do each day; going to work, heading home again, doing the shopping, going on dates…”
“Dropping litter,” Ianto interrupted him.
“Yep, even that. When we’re down there on the streets, we only see a little, as far as the next bend in the road, the next office block. It’s easy to forget how big Cardiff is and how many people are out there living their lives. Most of them have no idea of the dangers they could be facing. Coming up here gives me some perspective. It reminds me why we do what we do, but it’s more than that. When it’s been a really bad day, when we’ve failed to save someone, I can come here and look down at everyone we have managed to save and know that even at its worst, what we do is worthwhile. We’re never going to win every battle, but we win most of them and there are a lot of people out there still alive to enjoy their ordinary lives because of us. Knowing that is what gives me the strength to keep going even when I feel like giving up. It gives me a sense of purpose. And anyway, it’s a nice view.”
Beside him, Ianto nodded. “It is. Apart from the litter.”
Jack laughed. “Thankfully, the litter’s not our responsibility. Street sweepers will be out at first light to deal with it. Cold?”
“Just a bit.”
“Ah, Ianto-speak for ‘I’m bloody freezing but I wasn’t going to mention it.’ Chip shop’s still open,” Jack added, pointing at the street below. “How about we grab some chips and go back to your place, laze around in front of the fire and watch dumb movies? I’ll make my famous hot chocolate; that’ll warm you up.”
“Chips and hot chocolate, what a disgusting yet oddly appealing combination. You’re buying, since it’s your fault I’m cold.”
“Ah, well, I’d be happy to except I left my wallet at the Hub…”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “Bloody typical. Alright, I’ll get the chips this time, but I expect extra marshmallows in my hot chocolate!”
“I think that can be arranged.”
Side by side they made their way off the rooftop, closing the door to the stairwell firmly behind them as high above, the clouds finally cleared and the moon shone down turning everything to silver.