Characters: Jack, Ianto, Meriel, Nosy.
Word Count: 1158
Summary: Jack arrives home to find his husband and three-year-old daughter acting very oddly.
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 224: Hunt at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Jack had spent the whole day at the Hub, dealing with the usual frustrations of running Torchwood and feeling absolutely positive that all the really annoying stuff deliberately waited for one of his workdays instead of happening on Ianto’s watch. Since their daughter was born three years ago, he and Ianto had decided to share both Torchwood and parenting duties. Today, Jack had worked while Ianto stayed home with Meriel, and tomorrow Ianto would go to work while Jack stayed home. The arrangement worked beautifully; Meriel always had at least one of her parents at home with her, and work was much less stressful when you always knew you’d get the next day off, with only household chores and childcare to worry about. Being a parent was a full-time job, but it was still easier than running a secret alien-hunting organising policing a Rift through space and time. It was a lot less dangerous too.
It had been a long day, full of minor irritations and not so minor disasters, so Jack was tired and grumpy, eager to get back to his family and relax for the evening, preferably with his feet up. Chasing rogue Weevils took its toll.
Opening the door to their airy, open plan flat on the top floor of what used to be an old warehouse, Jack stepped into the entrance hall where he hung up his coat and set his boots on the shoe rack, then made his way into the main living area of the flat. Usually his daughter would drop whatever she was doing and run to greet him, but not this time. Jack stared in puzzlement at the sight of his husband and daughter creeping silently side-by-side across the carpeted floor as if they were searching for something. They were each holding small nets similar to the ones Torchwood used for fishing out items the Rift inconveniently dumped in Cardiff’s many ponds and lakes.
“Hey, what’s up? Lose something?”
Two heads turned towards him, matching frowns on their faces.
“Shhh, Daddy!” Meriel hissed.
“We’re huntin’ wabbits,” Ianto added in an odd voice.
“Rabbits?” Jack asked, confused. “How did rabbits get in the flat? We’re so high up here, and I’m pretty sure they can’t fly.”
Ianto huffed a sigh and straightened up. “Haven’t you ever seen any Loony Tunes cartoons? Bugs Bunny? Elmer Fudd?”
If anything, that just left Jack feeling even more confused. “What does that have to do with rabbits running loose in the flat? They’d better not be chewing anything.”
Ianto exchanged a look with Meriel. “Daddy’s silly, isn’t he?”
Meriel nodded agreement. “Yeah! Silly Daddy.”
“We were watching cartoons,” Ianto explained. “Elmer Fudd was hunting Bugs Bunny, but he’s never any good at it and Meriel thought we could do better, so now we’re huntin’ wabbits like Elmer, but with nets instead of guns because we want to catch those wascally wabbits without hurting them. Meriel likes bunny rabbits.”
“So where did you get these rabbits you’re hunting?” Jack was still peering around, half expecting a rabbit to pop out from under the sofa and go hopping across the floor.
“We already had them. Aha!” Ianto pointed, and Jack just caught a brief glimpse of brown fur poking out from behind his favourite chair. It vanished again almost immediately. Ianto and Meriel put their fingers to their lips, signalling for silence, and grinned at each other before tiptoeing towards the chair. The brown fur peeped out again and Meriel swung with her net.
“I got a wabbit!” She pulled the net towards her, and there, sure enough, was one of her stuffed toy rabbits. Pulling it out of her net, she gave it a hug and a kiss, put it on the chair, and the hunt began again.
A pink rabbit suddenly popped up over the back of the sofa, jigging about. Ianto swung his net at it but missed as it popped out of sight. “That’s a fast wabbit; too fast for your poor old taddy. You’d better catch it before it gets away, sweetheart.”
Giggling, Meriel dropped her net and climbed up on the sofa, crouching against the back, and when the pink rabbit reappeared, the little girl jumped up and grabbed it, tumbling down onto the cushions with her arms full, squealing with delight.
Jack was starting to get seriously worried; something unnatural was going on here. “How are Meriel’s soft toys moving by themselves?” he demanded, tugging at his husband’s arm. “Have you been playing with alien tech?”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “Of course not, and they’re not moving by themselves.”
“It looks like they are to me.”
“Appearances can be deceptive. Go look behind the sofa if you’re worried.”
A purple rabbit poked around the side of the sofa, waggling about. Jack circled carefully around the opposite end until he could see what was hidden there and… His shoulders sagged with relief.
The Fluff was coiled up out of sight, gripping the purple rabbit in its mouth and making it peep out, first around the end of the sofa, then over the top, as Meriel scrambled about trying to ‘catch’ her toy. Seeing Jack, Nosy waved the rabbit at him in greeting and Jack laughed, suddenly feeling a bit foolish for worrying over a silly game.
“So, do I get a net for hunting rabbits too?” he asked his daughter.
“You can have mine,” Ianto said. “I should get dinner started.” He passed Jack the net he was holding, adding, “Just remember, you have to be vewy, vewy quiet when huntin’ wabbits. Tiptoe around like this.” He demonstrated, bending over and taking exaggeratedly cautious steps on tiptoe. “See?”
Jack nodded. “Got it.” He looked towards their daughter who’d slid off the sofa and retrieved her net. “Ready to hunt some rabbits… I mean wabbits?”
“Yes! Come on, Daddy!” Excited, Meriel jumped up and down, then her eyes went wide and she clapped one hand over her mouth. “Oops!” Taking her hand away she put a single finger to her lips. “I forgot. Must be quiet,” she whispered.
Jack nodded solemnly, gripping the handle of his net in both hands and bending over, peering around. “Where do you think these wabbits are hiding?” he whispered.
Meriel pointed towards the sofa. “Over there!”
Out of the corner of his eye, Jack could see Ianto straightening up and easing the kinks out of his back, and he wondered how long his husband and daughter had been hunting wabbits before he arrived home. Well, Ianto could rest now while Jack took over. The wascally wabbits didn’t stand a chance against the fearless hunter Captain Jack Harkness-Jones and his plucky young sidekick. He was sure they’d have caught all of them by dinnertime.
“Watch out, wabbits, we’re coming to get you!” He said softly, winking at his daughter, and side-by-side they started creeping towards the sofa. Hunting wabbits was much more fun than chasing Weevils!