Characters: Ianto, Jack, Nosy, Team.
Summary: Nosy’s foster children are flourishing, but the busy Hub isn’t the best place for ducklings.
Word Count: 500
Written For: Prompt 200: Imprint at anythingdrabble.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Watching where you stepped around the Hub was a habit long ingrained in all the Torchwood team. The floors were rough concrete, there were frequently electrical cables stretched across them, various pieces of equipment and other potential hazards often wound up on the ground by accident, and then there was the resident Fluff to look out for. Not that Nosy deliberately got under anyone’s feet, but there was a lot of it, and to avoid mishaps, it was always a good idea to know where all of it was.
Now, however, there was another reason to be extra careful: eight small, fluffy puffballs, all downy feathers, webbed feet, and fragile bones. It was well known that ducklings imprinted on the first thing they saw upon hatching. In the wild, that would usually be their mother, but in this case, since Nosy had been incubating them when they hatched, they’d imprinted on it instead. To all intents and purposes, the furry alien was now their mum.
That was fine; every member of the team agreed that Nosy made an excellent surrogate parent, keeping its eight ducklings cosy and warm tucked up in its thick fur, encouraging them to swim in the Rift pool, and showing them what was good to eat. The only problem was that just like Little Bo Peep, everywhere Nosy went its flock was sure to follow.
While Nosy slithered about its daily routine, eight little ducklings trailed behind its five-and-a-half metre length, bumping and tripping over each other. Sometimes one would get itself into trouble and have to be rescued, so that by now, the whole team were constantly counting ducklings. So was Nosy, pausing frequently to check that all of its charges were present and accounted for. The Hub was a hazardous place for such tiny creatures.
It was easier for everyone when the ducklings hitched a ride aboard Nosy, their little heads peeping out of its thick, green fur like brown and yellow pimples, but they couldn’t ride all the time. They needed to use their legs and wings to grow up strong and healthy.
“Everybody stop what you’re doing and don’t move! We’ve lost one!” Ianto’s shout was familiar by now; it was heard several times a day, so the whole team paused and looked around them, trying to spot the errant duckling.
“There it is!” Jack called from the catwalk. “Behind Gwen’s rubbish bin.”
Ianto fetched it since Gwen wasn’t there, returning it to its siblings and watching the whole brood scrambling after Nosy’s tail tip, on their way to the pool for a swim.
“I’ll be glad when they’re all fully grown,” Ianto sighed, climbing the stairs to stand beside Jack. “I live in fear of stepping on them. I don’t think Nosy would ever forgive me if I squashed one of its flock.”
“Just wait until they start to fly. Then you won’t just have to watch where you put your feet. They’ll get everywhere.”
Ianto groaned. “I can hardly wait.”