Title: The Care And Feeding Of Alien Fluffs - Part 2/2
Characters/Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Tosh, Owen and Nosy. Andy, Mickey and Gwen mentioned
Rating: PG-13 for Owen being slightly… Owen
Spoilers: Don’t think so. Set after Exit Wounds and Doctor Who, Journey’s End, but everyone’s still alive and the team has been expanded.
Summary: The boys go shopping for Nosy supplies.
Word Count: 7186
Warnings: Blatant silliness, bizarre ideas.
Series: Fourth in the Nosy-Verse, follows How To Live With A Neurotic Alien
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or any of the characters, but I do own Nosy!
A/N: Finally, after nearly two years, it’s here! Thanks to everyone for being so patient. Thanks also to zazajb, angelsphonebox and totally4ryo for ideas on food and toys for Nosy, also to timelordshines for prodding at me to get back to writing!
A/N2: The St. David’s Shopping Centre is a product of my imagination – there may be one, but if there is it probably doesn’t resemble this one at all!
There is a Pet World in Cardiff, though I have no idea what it's like or who owns it. The interior of my Pet World is a vastly expanded version of the late, lamented Petmart in my hometown, a victim of so-called progress. Anne is the female version of Petmart's owner, Steve Zlotowitz, who knew all his customers and their pets, and was always welcoming and helpful. What he didn't know about animals wasn't worth knowing.
Part 1 is here
Owen had left the Hub shortly after Jack and Ianto, muttering something about a local farmer’s market and food for Nosy. Mickey and Andy were busy on one of the lower levels setting up tanks, lighting and a pumping system in one of the Hub’s many empty rooms, where it was hoped they’d be able to grow a range of different pond weeds to supplement Nosy’s diet. That left Tosh working busily at her computer in the main Hub, completely engrossed in refinements on her Rift Predictor programme.
Nosy mooched about disconsolately. It had already explored the entire main area of the Hub. Twice. There were things than beeped and hummed and buzzed, but nothing seemed to do anything interesting. It slunk over to its water dish for a drink, nibbled half-heartedly at some leftovers from breakfast, then hung from the catwalk railing for a bit, swinging backwards and forwards, but even that seemed boring. It slithered back to the floor and slumped in a heap with a huff.
Tosh looked up at the soft sound. Nosy was so quiet and she’d been so involved in her work, she’d completely forgotten it was even there. She immediately felt guilty. With everyone else absent or occupied elsewhere, it had been up to her to keep an eye on their new pet, but she’d just ignored it.
Jumping up from her seat, she went to Nosy and gave it a hug. “Oh Nosy, I’m so sorry, I didn‘t mean to ignore you. Come on, I‘ll find something for you play with.” She went to rummage in her desk drawers, looking for something to entertain the bored alien, but there wasn’t anything remotely toy-like in there. Finding a piece of string, she screwed up a sheet of paper and tied it to the end, then waved it about in front of Nosy. “I used to have a cat who loved playing like this.”
Nosy looked at Tosh, looked at the dangling bit of paper, then gave Tosh an insulted look.
“Right. Not like a cat then. Sorry.” She sat down cross legged on the floor in front of Nosy. Elbows on her knees, chin in hands, she stared at the alien. Nosy stared back.
“There must be something around here you could play with,” she said with a sigh, “I just can’t think of…” Pausing in mid sentence, Tosh sat up straight, “Of course!” she exclaimed, jumping to her feet and starting to dig through the disorganized chaos in Owen’s desk drawers. “Now where are they?”
It took Tosh several minutes to track down what she was looking for, but she finally dragged them from the back of the overflowing bottom drawer. “Perfect!” She turned to Nosy with a grin, “Ready to have some fun?”
Nosy hummed eagerly.
“Come on then!”
When Owen arrived back at the Hub a couple of hours later, laden with shopping bags, he stepped through the cog door only to jump back quickly as he almost got mown down by Nosy, tearing along in hot pursuit of a ball thrown by Tosh.
“Oops! Sorry, Owen,” she called out.
Owen took a moment to compose himself, letting his heart slide down from his throat and back into his chest where it belonged. Nosy may be completely harmless, but seeing it bearing down on him at high speed was still alarming.
“It’s fine, Tosh.” He stepped back into the Hub again, the cog door sliding closed behind him, and stopped to watch. “Having fun?”
“Nosy is, but my arms are getting a bit tired,” Tosh admitted. “I hope you don’t mind us playing with your balls,” she added, then frowned, blushing slightly as she realised what she’d said. “Umm, that didn’t come out quite right.”
Owen grinned wickedly.
“You’re welcome to play with my balls any time, you only ever have to ask.”
Tosh’s blush deepened. “Owen, you know that’s not what I meant.”
“I know.” He winked, “Just sayin’, for future reference.”
Flustered, Tosh quickly changed the subject.
“So, what’s in all those bags?”
“Oh, food samples for Nosy,” Owen said as he juggled his load and made his way toward the kitchen area. Tosh quickly followed and relieved him of a few bags. “I got a wide selection of veg and fruits to see what it will eat. Moss and lichen are all very well, but they're not the easiest things to get hold of, at least not in large enough quantities to feed something Nosy's size. Anyway, it needs a varied diet, something that will give it all the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy. A steady diet of moss wouldn't do that even if we could get enough. Once we figure out what it likes, we can probably get stuff delivered.”
They dumped their bags on the kitchen table and started unpacking. Nosy slithered up and watched with interest.
“All of these things are compatible with Nosy’s digestive system and they all provide it with some of the nutrients it needs. Just depends which it likes the taste of.”
Tosh looked at the ever-growing pile of fruit and veg – Brussels sprouts, celery, cucumber, broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress and rocket vied for space on the table with apples, tomatoes, bananas, radishes, strawberries, blueberries, gooseberries, plums, peaches, pears, grapes and a large honeydew melon. There were even fresh peas in their pods and several kinds of beans.
“No cherries?” asked Tosh.
“Not for Nosy, I don’t want it choking on a stone. I got some for you though,” Owen added, pulling a bag out of his pocket. “I know they’re your favourites.”
Tosh was delighted. “Thank you, Owen!”
The contents of the final bag seemed even more bizarre. Packets of unsalted nuts, pine nut kernels, prunes, dried apricots and cranberries, shelled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and two packets of rice cakes.
“You went in the heath food store?” Tosh giggled.
“Yup! They had one of those sales on, you know, buy one, get another for a penny. The team gets anything Nosy won’t eat, so I figured I might as well get us some healthy snacks.”
Tosh nodded and said solemnly, “As befits your position as team doctor.”
“Yeah, well…” Owen flushed slightly. Of all the team, he was the worst for stuffing himself with junk food. “I won’t stay this young and handsome forever, maybe it’s time I started eating better.”
“We probably all should,” Tosh agreed, “we eat takeaway far too often. Maybe Nosy will set a good example for the rest of us.”
Ianto found a seat near the fountain and settled to wait for Jack, stretching his injured leg out carefully. His knee was aching from all the walking, but not as much as he’d been expecting. Jack’s cane helped and Ianto had to admit, even if just to himself, that he rather liked it. It was stylish, in an old-fashioned way, and he felt it lent him an air of sophistication. Well, it would if not for the gaily coloured hula hoops he was currently carrying along with several bags. He tucked the hula hoops under the bench, out of the way, but rested one foot on them just in case someone tried to steal them. There were kids everywhere, what with it being the summer holidays, and while Ianto preferred to give them the benefit of the doubt, it was only sensible to take precautions – just in case.
Five minutes later, Jack collapsed onto the bench beside him. He too had a fresh assortment of bags.
“Have we got everything yet?” he asked, leaning back and closing his eyes for a moment.
“Don’t know,” Ianto replied, “I was just trying to work that out.”
There was silence for a couple of minutes and they sat watching the fountain, an almost peaceful oasis in the midst of the milling throngs of shoppers.
“We should have one of those in the Hub,” Jack mused, “watching it is very relaxing.”
“When do we have time to relax?” Ianto asked wryly. “Besides, we have the water tower.”
“Not the same though, is it?”
“Mmmm, guess not. A fountain wouldn’t be very practical, though.”
“I suppose.” Jack stared at the fountain for a few more minutes before turning his attention to his partner. “So what did you get this time?”
“Just a few bits. I got another set of brushes – there’s a lot of Nosy to groom, it’ll be quicker with two.”
“Don’t think we’ll be short of volunteers! We should probably set up a grooming schedule so everyone gets a turn.”
“Good idea, don’t want the kids fighting over whose turn it is to groom the Fluff!” Ianto chuckled, “They’re worse than Mica and David for squabbling among themselves.”
“Mica and David are mature compared to Owen and Gwen. It’s scary how quickly our crack team can revert to pinching and hair pulling, even without the influence of alien tech.”
“You’re not exactly a shining example of maturity yourself, Captain!”
Jack huffed. “I’m mature when I need to be. We all need a bit of fun from time to time, Mr Jones, even you. Maybe especially you. You work too hard, you need to play more.”
“We can play later,” Ianto promised with a smirk. “Right now, we should make sure we’ve got everything we want and then head back to the Hub. Even if the Rift is quiet right now, it’s not fair to leave all the routine, everyday chores to the others while we get to shop for toys.”
“Agreed. Okay, I got some giant crayons and drawing paper, since you’re not keen on the paints.”
“I got some extra large bath towels in case Nosy gets wet or has to be washed.”
“Those really soft fluffy ones?” Jack asked dreamily.
“Yep, and don’t worry, I got a set for our own use too.”
Jack beamed and planted a hearty kiss on Ianto’s lips. Ianto rolled his eyes, but didn’t even try to hide his smile.
Sorting through his bags, Jack produced ping pong paddles and balls. “The table’s being delivered tomorrow.”
Ianto raised an eyebrow. “Can’t wait to see you trying to teach Nosy to play!”
“Well, it’s not just for Nosy, I figured it would be fun for the whole team. We’re building Nosy a playroom and it got me thinking. Now there are more of us, we should have a few things to entertain the troops when there’s not much happening. Right now all we have is one ancient arcade game and the basketball hoop, that’s not much for a team of seven, and if we add a couple more team members like we planned…” Jack trailed off.
Ianto was nodding. “Fair point. You and I get to play the first game though.”
“Wouldn’t have it any other way. I got these too,” Jack added, pulling out a couple of Frisbees and a slinky.
“The Frisbees I can understand, but a slinky?”
Jack frowned at the slinky. “Yeah, I know. I just… it sort of reminded me of Nosy, for some reason.” He shrugged. “Anyway, they’re fun and there are plenty of stairs in the Hub.” Jack shuffled his bags around a bit, looking inside one or two, then straightened up. “That’s it, I think. I got chocolates for the team, toothpaste and hair gel – for us, not for Nosy - and grabbed a few other essentials for us, but I’m sure you’d prefer it if I didn’t wave those around in public.” He winked meaningfully at Ianto. “Your turn.”
Ianto indicated a couple of his bags, “Coffee beans from the Coffee Emporium - we were running a bit low - and some of those giant cookies from that little bakery opposite the market.” Jack reached for the bags and Ianto slapped his hand away. “Behave. They’re for all of us to have with our afternoon coffee.”
Jack pouted, but behaved.
Opening another bag, Ianto added, “I got this for Nosy.” He pulled out a large coffee cup, cream with stripes and spots in two shades of brown and a big, chunky handle. “The rest of us all have our own coffee mugs, hopefully this will keep Nosy from drinking other peoples’ coffee and it’s wide enough to get its nose in easily.”
“Guess that officially makes Nosy one of the team,” Jack smirked.
“I just don’t want a repeat of this morning. Mickey screams like a girl. Don’t tell him that though. Do you want to stop for a coffee before we head back?”
Jack shook his head. “Nah, let’s just get this lot home. I can’t wait to see how Nosy reacts to its new toys.”
“If it’s anything like Mica and David at Christmas, Nosy will be more interested in the packaging,” Ianto commented wryly.
“Pessimistic today, aren’t you?”
“Just don’t be disappointed if Nosy doesn’t agree with us on what constitutes fun.” Ianto started to gather his bags and Jack’s cane, looping the hula hoops around his neck for easy carrying.
“Hold on.” Jack put his bags down again. “What are those?”
“What?” asked Ianto, sounding puzzled.
“Around your neck.”
“Oh. Hula hoops. I remember Tosh saying she was hula champion at her school, she always wished she hadn’t got rid of her hoops. I just spotted them on the market as I was passing, so I thought I’d get her some new ones.”
“They’re for Tosh?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Oh good. For a minute there I had visions of you trying to teach Nosy to hula….”
They looked at each other for a long moment, then both burst out laughing.
“Now that would be a really weird sight!”
Still laughing, Jack gathered up his bags. “Come on, let’s get back to the Hub. I want coffee and cookies!” He grabbed a couple of Ianto’s biggest bags from him. “I’ll carry those, you have enough with the hoops and your cane.”
Side by side, they headed back though the crowds of shoppers towards the car park, still chuckling. Life with Torchwood was seldom dull and often bizarre, Ianto thought, smiling slightly, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The End (for now)