Characters: Ianto, Meriel, Nosy, Jack, OCs.
Summary: Meriel comes home from university for the summer to a very enthusiastic welcome from her family.
Word Count: 948
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, Any, Cuddle pile,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters. They belong to the BBC.
The piercing scream from the living room had Ianto dropping everything and running as fast as he could from Meriel’s bedroom, where he’d been making up the bed, into the flat’s open-plan living room to see what was wrong. As he burst into the huge room it finally hit him that the sound he’d heard hadn’t been a scream of pain or fear, but one of excitement and happiness, and he stopped in the archway, smiling.
The middle of the floor looked like a bizarre rugby scrum, made up of a tangle of young bodies and multicoloured fluffy coils. Right in the middle was Meriel, grinning all over her face as she had the stuffing hugged out of her by the twins, Gareth and Jenna, four-year-old Rhosyn, and the Fluffs, Nosy, Daisy, Squiggle, and Spot.
“Taddy!” Meriel squealed when she spotted him. “I’m home!”
“I can see that. I thought you weren’t supposed to be back until this evening. I was just getting your bed made up. Your dad will be disappointed; he was planning on meeting you at the station.”
“I didn’t take the train after all; I got a lift home with a friend; she lives in Sully so Cardiff was practically on her way.” Meriel had just completed her first year at Brighton University, doing courses in computer science, and art & design, and the whole family had been missing her terribly. She held out her arms to Ianto. “Don’t I get a hug?”
“Are you sure there’s room for me?” Ianto raised an eyebrow as he studied the pile of kids and Fluffs.
“Of course there is, the more the merrier! That’s what cuddle piles are for.”
“Come on, Taddy!” Rhosyn urged impatiently. “Cuddles!”
“Well, if you all insist…” Ianto dived into the cuddle pile, hugging his eldest daughter and kissing her on the cheek. “Welcome home, sweetheart. It’s so good to have you back!” Of course then the other three kids wanted hugs and kisses, and so did the Fluffs because they were family too and didn’t see why they should be left out… As soon as Ianto could disentangle himself enough, he pulled his secure Torchwood phone out of his pocket, snapped a cuddle pile picture, and sent it off to Jack with the caption, ‘We’re all here, where are you?’
He knew they wouldn’t have long to wait, and sure enough, less than ten minutes later the door burst open and Jack blew through it like a tornado, taking the steps in a single bound and practically throwing himself into the pile. It was a miracle nobody got flattened. Good thing the Harkness-Jones family were a tough bunch, used to rough and tumble.
Jack squeezed his daughter so tightly she squeaked. “How did you get here so quickly? I thought you weren’t due in until this evening!”
“Got a lift,” Meriel gasped out, beating at Jack’s arm with one hand. “Dad! Can’t breathe!”
Reluctantly he pulled back, only to hold her at arm’s length. “It’s been forever; let me look at you! I swear you’ve grown!”
“I’ve only been gone a few months, dad, that’s hardly forever!” she laughed.
“It feels longer than that! It hasn’t been the same around here without you.”
“I know, but I’m here now and it’s so good to see you all. As much as I love university I hate being away from my family; I’ve missed the holy terrors,” she ruffled the twins’ hair, “and my little Princess of course.” She gently tugged on her youngest sister’s pigtail.
“I’m not a Princess,” Rhosyn insisted with a very Jack-like pout. “I’m a little monster. Taddy says so.”
“Only when you won’t go to bed,” Ianto told her. “The rest of the time you’re still our Princess.”
“I’d rather be a Fluff,” the little girl said with a put-upon sigh. “Then I wouldn’t have to go to school.”
“I thought you liked school.” Ianto looked at his youngest in surprise.
“I do, but the other kids are such babies! They don’t know their numbers, or how to read and write, they can’t spell their own names, and they can’t even tie their shoes!”
“Well then, Rosie, because you’re so much smarter than they are, perhaps you should try helping them instead of making fun of them. Not everybody is lucky enough to have big brothers and sisters to teach them things, and nobody but us has Fluffs,” Ianto reminded her.
“Taddy’s right,” Meriel agreed. “You’re really a very lucky little girl so you should try to be nicer to the kids who aren’t as lucky as you.”
Rhosyn gave that some thought. “Mm, I suppose. Okay then, I’ll do that.”
“Good girl.” Pushing Spot and Squiggle off his lap, and disentangling himself from the kids and his husband, who seemed to be practicing being a limpet again, Ianto floundered to his feet. “Why don’t I make coffee and fix us all something to eat, and then Meriel can tell us all about university life.” He paused and regarded the littlest member of the family. “Didn’t you have something for your big sister, Rosie?”
Rhosyn clapped both hands over her mouth, eyes going wide. “I forgot!” She bounced up and dashed off to get the Welcome Home card she’d spent the previous afternoon making, with a little assistance from Jack.
“I’ll give you a hand in the kitchen, Tad.” Meriel got up, pecked her dad on the cheek, and followed Ianto. She had no regrets about her choice of university, she was loving every minute there, doing well in her classes and making loads of friends, but it really was good to be back home with her family.