Title: Nosy Saves Christmas
Word Count: 2835
Characters: Nosy, Jack, Ianto, Tosh, Gwen, Owen, Andy and Mickey.
Contains: Fluff and silliness.
Written For: meatball42’s prompt ‘A new team member (OC, crossover, other character from show, w/e) insists on bringing in some holiday cheer,’ at torchwood_fest.
Summary: Work is stressful and Team Torchwood isn’t getting into the Christmas spirit. Nosy the Fluff decides that something must be done.
Beta: My dear friend kul_breez who is fitting these in despite being busy.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood or its characters, they belong to the BBC. However, I do own my fluffy alien!
Team Torchwood had the Christmas Blues. Not that Nosy could blame them; being empathic meant it knew exactly how they were feeling. The last few weeks had been tough on them all; long hours, not enough sleep and far too much mortal peril for anyone’s comfort. Frankly, they needed a break
Every member of the team was nursing injuries of one kind or another, and that included Jack. Just because he healed fast didn’t mean he suffered any less when he got hurt, just that his suffering was of a shorter duration. Add to that the fact that his injuries were usually more severe than anyone else’s in the first place because he put himself in the line of fire to protect his people, and… Well, you get the picture. Dying was often a lot more painful than just getting injured, and coming back to life was no picnic either. Nosy knew Jack often continued to hurt for some time after reviving.
Seeing its friends so sad and blue at what should be a happy time of year troubled the Fluff. It wanted to help them feel better, but it wasn’t sure how. It thought back to the previous year, its first Christmas with Torchwood, remembering all the pretty decorations its friends had put up around the Hub. How they’d sparkled: Little twinkly lights; lengths of fluffy, glittery stuff; big green trees covered in small, brightly coloured balls and bells and other shiny things… It had been lovely.
But that had been last year; this year, everything was all wrong. Christmas wasn’t far away, people on the TV and radio kept saying so. Five more days to Christmas, and yet there wasn’t a single decoration to be seen anywhere in the Hub, not even a Christmas card. Weeks ago, at the beginning of December, Ianto had fetched all the boxes of sparkly things from where he kept them in the archives when they weren’t being used, but there they sat, all in a pile and still unopened. The sight of the boxes made Nosy feel sad.
Despite their injuries, all the humans were working hard, doing their jobs the way they always did. Whenever the Rift alert went off, some of them would hurry out of the Hub and come back later, often looking dirty and tired. The rest of the time they sat at their desks, writing reports and working on their computers. Normally they’d be talking to each other, telling silly jokes, laughing and teasing; instead, they only spoke when they had to and hardly even smiled, weighed down by work and responsibility. It wasn’t right. Obviously, something had to be done.
Quietly, Nosy slunk across the Hub and took refuge from the gloom under the sofa where it lay in silence, thinking hard about how it could bring back its friends’ Christmas spirit. It was still deep in thought when people started to leave for the night.
Gwen was the first to say goodnight, heading home to Rhys. Owen and Andy left shortly after, intending to have a drink or two before making their separate ways home to their beds. It was Mickey’s turn on night shift so he finished up whatever it was he was working on then wandered down to the night duty room, in the hopes of catching forty winks before the Rift kicked off again.
Ianto cleared away the coffee mugs, put out food and fresh water for Nosy, fed Myfanwy, and then wearily followed Jack down to their quarters. Tosh worked for a while longer, but eventually even she turned off her computers and left. Nosy was on its own at last.
A whole afternoon of thinking had resulted in a possible plan of action. Maybe the team weren’t happy because inside the Hub everything was dull and grey; it didn’t look at all Christmassy, not like everything looked on the TV. The trouble was, they were all clearly too busy, tired and sore to even think of taking on more work; they simply couldn’t get up the energy and enthusiasm needed to put up decorations. But what if Nosy did the job for them? Then when they came to work in the morning they’d have a lovely surprise; surely that would cheer them up!
It waited a while longer, until it was sure that those still in the Hub must be asleep, then it slinked its way over to the pile of boxes and studied them carefully. They weren’t heavy, so it was fairly easy to push the top ones off, using its fluffy coils to cushion their fall, and before long, it had all the boxes lined up in a row and opened.
Now things started to get tricky. For a start, Nosy didn’t have a proper tree; not a real one like last year. However, there was a small more or less tree-shaped thing, so that would have to do. It was sort of folded up though; it took Nosy a while to figure out how to make the branch bits stick out properly, and when it had managed that, the little tree wouldn’t stand up. A few moments’ thought came up with a solution to that problem; Nosy simply wedged the bottom of the tree’s stalk into one of the holes in the grating. It looked a bit wonky, but still, it wasn’t a bad start.
The tree was much too small for all the shiny balls, so Nosy just picked out a few. It was delicate work getting one of the tiny hooks through the loop at the top of each ball and then hanging it on the tree, especially for a creature with no hands, but Nosy was accustomed to using its mouth as a hand; its lips were quite sensitive and dextrous. Patience and perseverance were the key; after a few false starts, the Fluff got the hang of it and soon a couple of dozen decorations were dangling from the branches.
Next, it needed some of the fuzzy, glittery strands. Nosy liked them, they looked a bit like twinkly, long, very thin fluffs, just a lot smaller than the real thing. It picked a pretty red one and draped it around the tree, adjusting it carefully, then added a gold one and a purple one. That seemed to be enough; there wasn’t room for more without covering up the other decorations. Nosy moved back to look at the result. The tree was very pretty now, but the rest of the Hub still looked bare.
Luckily, there were still lots of fuzzy strands in all sorts of colours, so Nosy set about twining them around the catwalk railings, the chairs, and the workstations, sticking each end in place with careful little dabs of the safety glue Ianto let it use to stick pretty pictures in its scrapbook. That was difficult because sometimes the first end came unstuck while Nosy was sticking the second end, but eventually it succeeded in making everything stay where it was put.
The lights were the hardest part to deal with, but with patience, determination, and the help of some of the decoration hooks, Nosy managed to string them along the edge of the catwalk outside Jack’s office and get the plug into one of the sockets. It flicked the switch and the lights came on, twinkling prettily. Good, they worked; that was a relief. It switched them off for the moment as there were still a few finishing touches it needed to add, like hanging some little balls and bells from the fuzzy stuff now that enough time had passed for the glue to set and the extra weight wouldn’t make everything fall down again.
With that task completed, all that was left was to write some Christmas cards; there were a few packs of them in one of the boxes. Choosing a set with cute animals on them Nosy opened it and tipped the contents onto the coffee table, picking out a card for each of its friends and using its tail to sweep the rest back into the box. It didn’t bother with envelopes, having no easy way to get the cards into them. Spreading the chosen cards out, Nosy picked up a green crayon from the set Jack had given it and holding the cards down one at a time with its tail, it wrote a name in big, wonky letters, and the words ‘Love from Nosy’ inside. When each card was done, Nosy picked it up in its mouth, slithered over to the right workstation, and set the card down where it would be easily seen. Ianto’s card it propped up against the coffee machine; that was always the first place he went after he got up in the morning.
With all the cards delivered, and satisfied that everything looked as good as possible, Nosy pushed the boxes into a corner where they’d be out of the way. There were still a lot of decorations in them, but if they had the time, maybe its friends would like to put those up later in the places that were out of reach for a Fluff.
Decorating the Hub had taken more than half the night, but at least the Rift monitor had stayed quiet so that no one had come in too soon and spoiled the surprise. Tired but very pleased with itself, Nosy slinked quietly off to bed to get a couple of hours’ sleep; it wanted to be up before anyone else so it could watch everyone’s reactions. It hoped the pretty sparkles would make its friends feel happier.
Jack and Ianto were the first up the next morning, a little surprised that for the first time in almost three weeks, they hadn’t been woken in the night by a Rift alert and had been able to get a full night’s sleep. They both felt better for it. Coming up into Jack’s office, at first they noticed nothing unusual; it wasn’t until Ianto headed out into the main Hub intending to get coffee started that he realised things weren’t quite as he’d left them the previous evening.
“What on earth? Jack, come and take a look at this!”
“I really don’t know, but it looks like we were invaded by Christmas elves sometime during the night.”
Jack came up beside Ianto and stared out across the Hub, studying the strange sight. “Short Christmas elves,” he decided, noting that everything was hung no higher than four feet above the ground or within easy reach of the catwalks.
Lurking under the sofa, watching intently, Nosy was too far away to hear what was being said, but it could sense Jack and Ianto’s confusion and puzzlement. Slinking out of its hiding place, it made its way over to join them, one end of a Christmas cracker it had found at the bottom of a box gripped firmly in its mouth.
Catching movement from the corner of his eye, Ianto turned his head to see Nosy slithering across the concrete towards them, sparkly bits of tinsel caught in its fur and a Christmas cracker in its mouth. He nudged Jack with his elbow, smiling. “Maybe not elves after all, looks like Santa’s got a new helper this year.”
Jack took one look and burst out laughing. “So you’re our mystery Christmas sprite, are you?”
Nosy hummed agreement, offering the cracker and letting go of the end it was holding when Jack accepted it.
“Nice job you’ve done with the decorations, young Fluff. Very… festive. Ianto, care to pull a cracker with me?” Jack offered Ianto the slightly damp end, grinning when Ianto rolled his eyes. Damp or not, the cracker still made a very satisfying bang. Jack claimed the paper hat from inside, putting it on his head, and handed Ianto the cheap plastic moustache. It really was a very old cracker. “Always wondered what you’d look like with a moustache.”
“And you can keep on wondering,” Ianto replied, slipping the object into his pocket.
“What’s all this?” Mickey had emerged from the corridor leading to the night duty room to investigate what he’d at first thought was a gunshot. “It looks like…” He trailed off, unable to come up with a suitable comparison.
“I think this is Nosy’s way of telling us to cheer up and get some Christmas spirit.” Ianto sounded amused.
“Wait, you’re tellin’ me Nosy did all this?”
“Looks that way.” Jack shrugged. “We can always check the CCTV to be sure, but right now our friend here looks to be the most likely suspect.”
“That’s pretty good for something with no hands. There’s even a tree!”
“A tree?” Ianto made his way down the steps and frowned at the battered little thing. “Didn’t we throw this old thing out last Christmas?”
“You did,” Jack corrected. “I rescued it. I’ve had that tree for over forty years; I know it’s past its best, but it has sentimental value.”
“Oh. Sorry, I should have thought.”
“That’s okay. Looks nice, don’t you think?”
“I’m not sure ‘nice’ is the right word, but it’s certainly… colourful.”
Before Ianto could say anything else, the cog door opened, accompanied by its usual deafening sirens and flashing lights, alerting those present to the arrival of the rest of the team.
“Bloody Hell! Looks like an explosion in a tinsel factory! What happened?” The expression on Owen’s face was a picture.
“Nosy got tired of waiting for us to put the decorations up and did it for us,” Jack explained. “Be nice, this must’ve taken hours.”
“I think it looks lovely!” Tosh smiled at the bright colours and twinkling lights as she went over to her workstation. “Oh! I’ve got a Christmas card. Look!” She picked it up off her keyboard, holding it up to show the others.”
“I’ve got one too.” Gwen opened hers. “How sweet, who wrote these for Nosy?”
“No one. I bet Nosy wrote them itself.”
“Oh come off it, someone must have done it. Nosy can’t write.”
“How do you know?” Andy asked, picking up a card from his desk and reading it. “It can draw stick figures and stuff, and we know it can spell things out with its blocks. Why shouldn’t it be able to write?”
“Well I love my card! Thank you, Nosy!” Tosh hugged the Fluff, getting bits of tinsel all over her clothes in the process.
“Have we all got one?” Gwen asked.
Ianto nodded. “Probably. I doubt that Nosy would leave anyone out.”
“Here’s mine.” Owen picked a card off his workstation, chuckling at the picture on the front of a polar bear wearing a Santa hat.
“I’ve got a hedgehog with a Christmas pudding!” Mickey waved his card, laughing.
Jack bounded back up the stairs to his office and sure enough, there was a card on his desk, a red-nosed reindeer throwing snowballs. Leaning carefully on the railing so as not to dislodge any of the decorations, Jack grinned down at Ianto. “Bet I know where yours will be.”
“Coffee machine.” Ianto headed for the kitchenette where his card sat in full view, a penguin on skis. Laughing, he set it carefully to one side after reading it so he could put the coffee on, setting out the mugs while humming ‘Deck the Halls’ under his breath. The all-pervading gloom that had been weighing everyone down lately seemed to have miraculously lifted, all because of a few silly cards and some decorations.
Speaking of which... “There’s still loads of decorations left,” Andy pointed out, rummaging through the open boxes, “and it’s probably not too late to get a tree for the boardroom. There were still a few outside the greengrocer’s yesterday when I passed.”
“Let me just finish my coffee first,” Mickey replied, “then you and me can take the van and get one. We can decorate it between Rift alerts.”
“Sounds good to me,” Jack agreed. “Girls, when you get a spare moment, help Ianto take the rest of the decorations into the boardroom and sort them out. Andy, Mickey, nothing too big, around the six-foot mark should be about right.”
“Okey dokey, caprtain!” Andy mock saluted
“And a small one for the tourist office, a three-footer, something like that?” Ianto asked hopefully. “Maybe Nosy could help me decorate it this evening.”
“See what we can do,” Mickey assured him, taking his empty mug back to the kitchen on his way to fetch his coat.
Quiet but merry Christmas music started to filter through the Hub’s sound system, Tosh’s contribution to the more festive atmosphere, and some of the team started to sing along.
Draining the last of the coffee from its mug, Nosy watched the scene with satisfaction; its plan had worked, everybody looked a lot happier now, their tiredness and pain pushed aside to make way for some much-needed Christmas cheer. It just went to prove that with a bit of thought and effort, anything was possible.
Happy Holidays, everybody!