Characters: Ianto, Meriel, Nosy, Jack.
Summary: At only a few months old, Meriel is already developing fast, thanks to the attentiveness of her constant companion.
Word Count: 1094
Written For: Challenge 219: Interact at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or the characters.
Raising a child was proving to be quite an adventure; almost every day brought something new, although not always something good. Nappy rash wasn’t fun for anyone; a miserable baby made for miserable parents, but thankfully Owen had soon come up with just the thing to fix that problem. That was about when the fun of child-rearing had really started.
When Meriel had been a newborn she hadn’t done much of anything, just slept, drank her milk, and cried when she was hungry, uncomfortable, or needed changing, although Nosy had been such a good early warning system that often Jack or Ianto would be there to provide for their daughter’s needs almost before she could register her displeasure, let alone protest about it.
Now, however, she was almost six-and-a-half months old and really beginning to get to grips with her environment. She could sit up by herself and was starting to shuffle about on her bottom, when she wasn’t trying to slither like Nosy, who was apparently her role model.
Ianto found her development endlessly fascinating, seeing her learn to interact not just with himself, Jack, and Nosy, but with her toys and other everyday objects. Yesterday had been his turn to work at the Hub so he’d missed out on a whole day of watching his daughter discovering her world, but today he was home and determined not to miss a thing. There were chores to do, but hopefully he could fit most of those in during nap times.
Breakfast over, the dishes in the dishwasher, and Meriel changed and comfy, he sat his little girl on her blanket, surrounded by toys. Her first teeth were coming through, so she was chewing on everything, and Ianto had to rescue one of her plastic building blocks, replacing it with her teething ring, which was much more suitable for gnawing on. Holding that in one hand, Meriel picked up her favourite toy rabbit with the other, waving it about by its ear.
“Going to be ambidextrous, are you, sweetheart?” Ianto asked, grinning at his daughter.
Taking her teething ring out of her mouth, Meriel grinned back at him, squealing with delight, then lost her grip on Bunny, who went sailing across the carpet. Her eyes went huge with astonishment, but before she could get upset about Flopsy Bunny making a bid for freedom, Nosy was there, retrieving the runaway toy and returning it, prodding it against Meriel’s belly and making her laugh.
Ianto sat back on his heels, watching his daughter interact with her playmate. Nosy hummed and Meriel seemed to be listening, almost as if she understood what the Fluff was saying. Maybe she did; she was the first human baby to grow up with a Fluff, and babies her age picked up language like a sponge. She couldn’t talk yet, but she understood her name, and a few other words. Perhaps she was learning Fluff language at the same time. She could grow up trilingual, fluent in English, Welsh, and Fluff. Now there was a thought. Would she be able to speak the language as well as understand it?
Pushing that line of thought aside for the moment, Ianto observed in fascination as Nosy pushed Meriel’s fluffy toy ball towards her, making the bell inside it jingle merrily. She reached for it, dropping her teething ring to grab the ball with both hands before clumsily shoving it back at her friend. Ianto had never seen her do that before; it didn’t roll very far, but that wasn’t the point. He suspected his daughter might be quite advanced for her age, her empathic bond with Nosy allowing her to pick up new skills faster than most babies as the Fluff gently guided her development.
Every day she seemed to learn something new. She’d already mastered the art of pointing to whatever toy she wanted so Nosy would bring it to her if it was beyond her reach. There was no telling what she’d learn next; surely nothing could be more thrilling and rewarding than being a parent. Ianto didn’t like reality shows, but he was happy to make an exception for this one.
By the time Meriel was seven-and-a-half months old she’d given up bottom shuffling in favour of crawling, finding that a much faster method of getting around. She could frequently be seen zooming across the floor with Nosy in hot pursuit, diverting he away from anything she shouldn’t touch. Her hand-eye coordination was improving too, and she was learning to stack building blocks, under Nosy’s expert supervision, even if most of her attempts didn’t get far before collapsing, something that she seemed to find hilarious. If the blocks didn’t fall down by themselves, she knocked them down, which was apparently even more fun because the blocks went further and Nosy had to slither about retrieving them all for the next attempt.
The Fluff never got bored or frustrated by these games, always attentive, humming encouragement and seeming as excited as Ianto by Meriel’s progress, so perhaps unsurprisingly, her first word wasn’t Da-da or Ta-da, but Fuff. Ianto tried not to be disappointed or offended; Nosy was with Meriel every single day, and slept beneath her cot every night, humming her back to sleep whenever she woke, while her parents worked alternate days so that even though they had an important job to do running Torchwood, one of them was always there to care for her. Inevitably that meant Nosy was the cornerstone of the little girl’s existence, her first friend, her teacher, and her truest companion. The only time they were apart was when Meriel accompanied one or other of her parents to the shops, because Nosy, being an alien, couldn’t go with them. There were always squeals of joy when the two were reunited.
Nosy was there as well when Meriel took her first steps, providing a soft landing every time she fell, urging her to try again as Ianto held his breath and filmed the moment on his phone, sending the clip to Jack at work, only for Jack to arrive ten minutes later, breathless and panting, wanting to see for himself, eyes wide with delight as his daughter tottered toward him, Nosy keeping close, just in case.
It was fair to say that Meriel had three parents, her Daddy, her Taddy, and her Fluff, all of whom cherished her and applauded her every achievement. With so much support and encouragement in her early life, Ianto had no doubt she was destined for great things. How could she possibly fail?