Characters: Jack, Ianto, Nosy, Flufflets.
Word Count: 1219
Summary: Taking the Fluffs to the beach on a chilly spring morning seemed like a great idea, but now the friendly aliens are behaving very oddly, going round and round in circles. Whatever are they doing?
Written For: Challenge 293: Circle at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
The Rift was in a quiet phase, Meriel and Lily were both in school, and Rhiannon was babysitting the twins; it was the perfect opportunity for Jack and Ianto to take Nosy and the Flufflets, Dizzy, Spot, and Squiggle, out for some badly needed fresh air and exercise. They’d been cooped up indoors far too much over winter. It was still cool and breezy this early in the spring, and there’d been a fair amount of rain lately, so instead of heading out into the countryside they loaded their furry friends into the SUV and set off down the coast to a remote stretch of beach they hoped would be unoccupied.
It was a good thing the SUV had tinted windows, because otherwise the sight of four colourful furry heads peering through the glass with big round eyes might have caused multiple accidents as Jack drove along busy roads towards the outskirts of the city. As it was, no one was aware they were being observed by several curious aliens.
It was quite a long drive to the spot Jack had in mind, not that the Fluffs cared; they loved watching the world go by, humming with excitement at everything they saw, from other cars and pedestrians, some of them with dogs, to fields of sheep and cows, tall trees, trains passing along the railway line, and planes flying high overhead, leaving vapour trails across the pale blue of the sky. The friendly creatures found everything about earth endlessly fascinating, even though three of them had never known any other world.
Eventually, Jack pulled off the coast road onto a narrow, sandy track that wound its way through scrubby bushes and ended among dunes thick with coarse grass. Parking out of sight of the road, he switched off the engine and turned to the passengers.
“Okay, kids; we’re here. Just wait a minute while I check there’s no one about.”
Nosy hummed agreeably, knowing it would soon be out on the sand, but the three Flufflets, two of whom had never seen a beach before, squirmed impatiently, swarming into the front seat, wanting out now! Ianto and Nosy pulled them back by their tails as Jack slipped out of the car and climbed the nearest dune.
Ianto was happy to let his husband be the scout; Jack’s fifty-first century eyesight was far superior to his own twenty-first century version. He could see for miles. If there was another living soul anywhere in sight Jack would spot them, but he was back within minutes, throwing the doors open and giving the all-clear.
“Looks like we’ve got the place to ourselves, nothing around but a few seagulls. Everybody out! I’ll get the picnic basket; Ianto, can you bring the toys?”
Taking Fluffs on an outing wasn’t much different to taking their children out; drinks and snacks were required, along with a few things to provide entertainment, which for the Fluffs meant things that could be thrown, chased, and retrieved, such as balls and Frisbees.
Nosy led the way between the dunes; it had been out here before and knew the best route. The Flufflets followed, all three of them pushing and shoving each other, wanting to be the first to reach the wide expanse of sand they’d heard so much about. Jack and Ianto brought up the rear, Jack with the picnic hamper and Ianto carrying a string bag of toys, and a canvas windbreak, which he set up to form a semicircle, providing protection from the windblown sand for himself and his husband.
The first hour or so was spent throwing balls and skimming Frisbees, watching the Flufflets slither at speed across the dry sand in hot pursuit. In this at least they weren’t much different from dogs; they loved to play fetch and would happily spend hours at a time endlessly chasing and retrieving whatever was thrown for them.
Jack and Ianto, however, despite being fit and healthy immortals, didn’t have the endless reserves of energy the average Fluff could boast and eventually had to take a break to rest their aching arms, retreating to the shelter of their windbreak for a cup of Ianto’s finest coffee and a bite to eat, leaving the four aliens to entertain themselves.
For a time, the Fluffs were content to roll in the sand, giving themselves dust baths, and then they played a vigorous game of tag, but after a while Ianto noticed something odd. Nosy was slithering round and round in a circle, looking a bit like a clockwork toy that was running down. Then the three Flufflets started to do the same.
He frowned puzzled, and nudged his husband. “Jack, look. What are they doing?”
Jack followed Ianto’s pointing finger and shrugged, unconcerned. “I don’t know. Chasing their tails?”
“Hm, maybe,” Ianto mused, but watching the strange antics, he wasn’t entirely convinced.
Nosy came around in another circle, then abruptly changed direction, moving a bit further away and circling again. Spot and Squiggle stopped circling and headed off down the beach, weaving back and forth as if they were drunk, then executed a neat turn and started back again while Dizzy lived up to its name, whirling in circles one way, and then the other. Nosy began to circle its first born in a wide loop.
Standing up, Ianto started towards the Fluffs; they seemed completely oblivious to his approach, continuing their odd behaviour, and he changed direction, scrambling up a nearby dune to get a better view. His eyes widened at what he saw.
“Jack, come up here! You’ve got to see this.”
Still clutching the sandwich he’d been eating in one hand Jack ambled over and climbed the dune to stand beside his husband. Before them on a smoothed out stretch of beach, a big circle had been inscribed, enclosing a not quite complete ring of smaller circles, which in turn surrounded another trio of circles, laid out like a cloverleaf. Leading away from the big circle was an intricately plaited path that ended in another pattern of circles, like the links of a chain, laid out in a semicircle, and with a big spiral in the middle.
Jack beamed. “I always knew Nosy was artistic, but this is really impressive!” Digging in his coat pocket he pulled out a small digital camera and started taking photographs, going from one dune to another to get shots from different angles.
Ianto stayed where he was, deep in thought, until Jack returned.
“Isn’t it amazing?” Jack enthused. “Fluff art, the first of its kind on earth!”
“And big enough that it’ll probably be clearly visible to any satellite passing overhead. What if it shows up on Google Earth? People might come flocking out here to see it for themselves!”
That was a slightly disturbing thought; it had taken them a long time to find a beach secluded enough for the Fluffs.
“So what do you want to do, trample all over it and destroy it?”
“No, of course not!” Ianto looked appalled. “After all the effort they’re putting into it, that wouldn’t be fair.” He gave a wry smile. “Maybe we could convince people it’s a new variation on crop circles.”
Jack grinned. “Well, at least we can say with absolute certainty that this one really was created by aliens.”