Title: How To Live With A Neurotic Alien
Characters/Pairing: Jack/Ianto, Mickey, Owen, Nosy, mentions Tosh and Andy
Rating: PG-13 for minor language
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: Nosy is settling into its new home… sort of.
Word Count: 4026
Warning: Beware - fluff and cuteness abound!
Series: Third in the Nosy-Verse, after Capturing The Beast and Getting To Nose You
Disclaimer: I don’t own Torchwood, or any of the characters (except Nosy). It all belongs to the BBC.
A/N: Thanks to zazajb, totally4ryo and sariagray, all of whom have generously allowed me to bounce ideas off them, and to everyone else who has read, commented and encouraged me to write more. I hope this is up to standard! Comments are always welcome, so don’t be shy. If you can spare a moment, please let me know what you think!
“Jack?” Ianto mumbled sleepily.
“There’s a monster under the bed.”
Jack hugged his lover closer and kissed the back of his head, “It’s fine, Ianto, you’re just dreaming, there’s no monster. Go back to sleep.”
“’m not dreamin’, I can see the tail stickin’ out.”
Frowning, Jack propped himself up on his elbow and leant over his partner to peer down at the floor.
“Oh.” He reached down and prodded gently. An indistinct hum sounded from under the bed. “Huh.” Jack flopped back down and wrapped his arms around Ianto again. “There’s a monster under the bed.”
“We probably should’ve shut the hatch,” Jack said through a yawn.
“Mmm, probably,” Ianto agreed before yawning himself.
“How d’you think it got down the ladder?”
“Good question. Better question is how do we get it back up the ladder?”
Jack was silent for a moment, thinking. “Yeah, let’s leave it for now, we can figure it out in the morning.” He snuggled closer to Ianto, pulling the covers back over them both again and closing his eyes. “It’s not going anywhere.”
The strident ringing of the alarm clock shattered the peacefulness of the small, dark room. Ianto groaned and reached out one arm, flailing vaguely in the general direction of the annoying sound until his hand finally found the clock and he managed to shut it off. He lay still for a moment, then dangled his arm over the edge of the bed, fingers fumbling around until they connected with something warm, soft and fluffy.
“Still there?” Jack asked through a yawn.
“Still there,” Ianto confirmed in a half asleep mumble.
“Huh. Guess that means our usual wake-up routine is out of the question,” Jack huffed.
Ianto rolled over to face him. “It’s under the bed, Jack. We’d probably end up squashing it.”
“Good point,” Jack sighed.
Ianto disentangled himself from Jack and scrambled off the bed, taking care where he put his feet and wincing slightly when he put his weight on his injured leg.
“Okay?” Jack asked.
“Not as bad as I was expecting, I think the ice helped a lot.”
“You should strap it up today and stay off it as much as possible.”
“We’ll see. I’m going to shower, the hot water will probably help ease the stiffness.” Ianto headed toward the bathroom and Jack flopped onto his back with a sigh.
“Ianto paused just outside the bathroom door. “Care to join me?”
Jack shot up in bed. “Best offer I’ve had all day!” He leapt off the bed, narrowly missing a fluffy body. “Oops, sorry,” he said in response to the alarmed squeak from beneath the bed, leaning down to pet the furry body before heading for the bathroom and his rendezvous with a certain gorgeous Welshman.
Forty minutes and two showers later (the second required to wash away the after effects of the first) Jack and Ianto emerged from the bathroom clean, dry and ready to face the day. Their monster was still firmly ensconced under their bed, except for the tail end which apparently there wasn’t room for. It was a rather small bed, after all. They decided to leave it there so they wouldn’t trip over it while they were dressing.
Ianto sat down on the bed and let Jack help him bandage his knee, then headed for the wardrobe to pick out his clothes for the day. Having dressed in his choice of a charcoal suit with a fine pinstripe, a royal blue shirt and a tie with diagonal royal blue and black stripes, interspersed with fine lines of silver, he turned back to find Jack still sitting on the bed, naked, prodding at the fluffy tail with his bare toes.
“Jack, what are you doing?”
Jack looked up with a grin, “Every time I poke it, it squeaks!” he said delightedly.
“You’d probably squeak if I kept poking you,” Ianto replied, giving Jack a stern look. “Did it ever occur to you that maybe Nosy is squeaking because it doesn’t particularly like being poked?”
Jack’s smile faded to be replaced by a look of horror.
“I didn’t think, I just thought it sounded cute!” He slid off the bed onto his knees and thrust his head and upper body under the bed. “Sorry, I won’t do it again, I promise!”
Ianto stared at Jack’s arse, sticking up in the air. Really, it was just too tempting to resist. He limped across, extended a finger and gave a good poke.
Jack squeaked and there was a loud thud as his head connected with the underside of the bed, making the frame rattle. He crawled from under the bed and sat rubbing his head, glaring petulantly up at Ianto. “What did you do that for?”
“Just making sure you remember in future how unpleasant being poked unexpectedly can be,” Ianto replied innocently.
Jack huffed and scowled, then sighed. “I suppose I deserved that.”
“Just a bit,” Ianto agreed. “Besides, it’s your own fault for providing such a tempting target.”
Jack grinned, “Knew you couldn’t keep your hands off me!”
Ianto rolled his eyes, “Just get dressed, we’ve got a lot to do today.”
“We do? Like what? I thought Tosh said the rift would be quiet for a day or two.”
“It should be, which is why we need to take advantage of the lull and see about supplies for our new pet. I thought we’d go to Pet World and get a proper water dish, see what toys they have, maybe look at pet beds too. They probably don’t have anything anywhere near big enough, but at least we‘ll get some idea of what’s available. Might be worth visiting the local toy shops, see if they have anything suitable for a giant, fluffy alien snake to play with.”
“Toy shopping?” Jack’s face lit up with eagerness, “Sounds like fun!”
Ianto pulled a clean t-shirt out of a drawer and threw it at Jack, “Get some clothes on then, we still have to figure out how to get the monster out from under the bed and up the ladder!”
Jack hastily started pulling on the clothes Ianto handed to him.
Dressed at last, Jack sat on the edge of the bed lacing his boots. “Maybe we could tie a sheet or something round Nosy and I could pull it up that way,” he suggested, looking up at Ianto.
“Maybe.” Ianto sounded a bit dubious, remembering how heavy Nosy had been to carry the previous day. “We need to get it out from under the bed first though.”
Jack leant forwards from where he was sitting and peered under the bed. “You can’t stay there all day, you know. If you’re not out here in five minutes, I’ll get hold of your tail and pull you out,” he said sternly.
After a moment, there was a quiet slithering sound and a head appeared, followed by a long, furry body.
“Must remember to get grooming brushes,” Ianto muttered to himself, observing the dishevelled alien. Tufts of fluff were sticking out in all directions.
“It’s got bed hair!” Jack laughed.
“Yep,” Ianto agreed with a grin, “Looks just like you do first thing in the morning.”
“Do I look as cute as that?” Jack asked mischievously as Nosy fluffed up and gave itself a vigorous shake to rearrange its fur.
“Oh yeah,” Ianto told him, leaning in for a quick kiss. He turned back to the ladder, frowning. “Now for the hard part.” Looking down at Nosy, he added, “I wish I knew how you managed to get down here in the first place.”
Nosy slithered over to Ianto and rubbed its head affectionately against his leg, humming softly, then slunk across to the ladder and started sinuously weaving its body back and forth through the rungs, gliding upwards as the two men watched in astonishment. With a final flick of its tail, it disappeared through the hatch.
“Well, that was easier than I was expecting,” Jack commented lamely.
Ianto just nodded absently, a thoughtful expression on his face, then: “Bunk beds!”
“Huh? What?” Jack blinked at Ianto in confusion.
“The old cot in the night duty room is falling apart. It needs replacing, so why don’t we replace it with bunk beds? Whoever’s on night duty can sleep on the bottom bunk and Nosy can have the top one, that way it won’t be alone at night. I‘m sure whoever‘s on duty won‘t mind the company. If it can manage the ladder out of here that easily, it won’t have any trouble getting to the top bunk and we were going to get it a bed of some sort anyway.”
“You’re a genius!” Jack exclaimed.
Ianto smirked, “I try my best,” he said with a wink. “Coffee?”
“Please! I’m going to check the CCTV records from last night, find out what time Nosy decided to join us and make sure it didn’t get up to any mischief beforehand.”
Just then, a fluffy head poked down the hatch and gave a questioning hum.
“We’re coming,” Jack told it and the head withdrew.
“I’ll feed Nosy while the coffee’s brewing,” Ianto said as he started slowly up the ladder.
“Alright?” Jack asked.
“Can’t bend my knee because of the bandage. I’ll get there, just a bit slower than usual.”
Jack chuckled, “I’m not complaining, I get to admire the view for longer.”
Ianto grinned back at him, “Voyeur,” he accused affectionately.
“But you love me anyway.”
While Ianto headed for the kitchenette with Nosy slinking along in his wake, Jack settled at his desk, turning on the computer and calling up the CCTV footage from the previous night, starting with the camera that had the best view of Nosy’s makeshift bed. It didn’t take long to find what he was looking for.
Nosy had stayed on its blanket for nearly two hours after Jack and Ianto had left it, but it clearly wasn’t happy. It kept peering about nervously, twitching at every sound. Eventually, it slunk cautiously off its blanket, took hold of one corner in its mouth and, dragging the blanket, slowly slithered towards Jack’s office. Jack switched to the camera in his office and watched as the alien slunk through the door and over to the hatch, dropped its blanket down the hole and after a last, anxious glance back towards the darkness of the Hub, quickly slithered down the ladder.
Jack glanced up as Ianto limped back into the office carrying two steaming mugs of coffee, “I don’t think our new friend is too fond of the dark, at least not when it’s alone. Take a look at this.”
Ianto set the mugs on Jack’s desk then perched on the corner to watch the CCTV footage. “Maybe it’s not so much the dark as the strange sounds and flickering shadows. Everything’s unfamiliar and Nosy’s not really had much chance to settle in yet. It‘ll probably be fine once it adjusts to its new environment.”
“I hope so, we can do without having to deal with a neurotic alien lurking under the furniture!”
Ianto nodded agreement and sipped his coffee. “The rest of the team should be in soon. I thought after I’ve given them their morning coffee, we could have breakfast at that little café across the Plass before we go shopping.”
Jack smiled his megawatt smile, “Sometimes I think you can read my mind.”
Ianto chuckled. “I don’t need to do that, I know you.”
Before Jack could respond, they were interrupted by an anguished yell from the main Hub. Jack leapt to his feet and ran from his office, Ianto hobbling along behind.
“Mickey? What is it, what’s wrong?” Jack sounded almost frantic.
“Your overgrown draught excluder, that’s what’s wrong,” Mickey growled, glaring at Nosy. “I turned my back on it just for a minute and it drank my coffee!”
“HUMMMM,” Nosy agreed with enthusiasm, poking its nose back into Mickey’s mug to slurp up the last drops.
Jack burst out laughing while Ianto quickly went to check on Nosy, concerned about the possible effects of caffeine on the alien.
“It’s not funny,” Mickey grumbled, turning to glare at Jack instead, “I hadn’t even had a sip yet, I was waiting for it to cool a bit first.”
Ianto smiled slightly, “Don’t worry, Mickey, I’ll make you a fresh one. Just don’t leave your coffee unattended in future.
Mickey huffed and folded his arms across his chest before turning to watch Ianto. He frowned worriedly, “Coffee won’t harm it, will it?”
“I don’t know. It seems alright, but I’m not a doctor. Better have Owen check when he gets here, just to be safe.” Ianto turned his attention back to Nosy. “It’s bad manners to steal someone else’s coffee,” he scolded gently.
Nosy looked suitably contrite.
“Can it understand what you’re saying?” Mickey asked.
“Not really sure. Maybe, although probably the tone of voice more than the actual words,” Ianto mused as he made his way back to the kitchenette.
When he returned a short while later with fresh coffee for the three of them, Nosy slithered towards him, sniffing eagerly and looking hopeful.
“No, Nosy,” Ianto told it firmly, “at least not until we know if coffee’s safe for you to drink.”
Nosy sank back down flat on the ground and huffed sulkily. Ianto rolled his eyes and tried very hard not to laugh; Jack wasn’t so tactful - he snorted into his coffee and said something about Nosy sounding remarkably like Owen.
As if mentioning the doctor’s name caused him to appear, the cog door rolled open just then, accompanied by its usual chorus of sirens and flashing lights, and Owen sauntered into the main Hub. Nosy perked up, squiggling past everyone’s legs and hurrying over to welcome its friend, twining itself around Owen’s legs and nearly tripping him up. Owen reached down to pat it.
Nosy hummed happily in reply.
Jack leaned over the railing. “Owen, I need to examine Nosy, make sure it’s alright.”
“Why? What did you do to it now?”
Jack was indignant, “We didn’t do anything! Nosy drank Mickey’s coffee, we just want to be sure it won’t harm it.”
Owen turned a baffled look on Mickey. “Why’d you give it your coffee?”
“I didn’t!” Mickey growled in exasperation, “I put it down for a minute to log onto my computer and when I turned back, Nosy had its nose in my mug!”
“Enjoyed it too,” Jack added. “It tried to get Ianto to give it some more.”
“Great,” Owen muttered, “Just what Torchwood needs - a caffeine addicted alien fluff.”
“Fluff?” Jack queried, puzzled.
Owen shrugged. “Species name. You called it Nosy the Fluff; Nosy is its name, so it must be a fluff.”
“Logical,” Ianto agreed.
Mickey groaned, “I can see it now - signs on the doors saying ‘Beware of the Fluff’.”
Jack‘s face lit up. “Great idea! Can’t have visitors tripping over it!”
Ianto raised an eyebrow. “Torchwood doesn’t get visitors, Jack.”
“Well, no, not often, but still… Safety in the workplace and all that. It doesn‘t hurt to take precautions.”
Ianto sighed and shook his head. “Fine, but you can make the signs yourself.”
Owen straightened up from examining Nosy with several small alien devices. “Right, well the coffee doesn’t seem to have done any harm.” He held up one of his instruments. “This indicates Nosy can tolerate a moderate amount of caffeine, so it can have coffee if it wants, but I’d limit it to a couple of cups a day, preferably black.” He tapped something into the device and studied the readout. “Nosy’s digestion can handle dairy products, but it’s likely they’d cause significant weight gain, so better lay off the milk and cream except as an occasional treat, especially if it’s not getting a lot of exercise. Don‘t want it getting fat.”
“Handy device,” Jack said, peering over Owen’s shoulder.
“Yeah, I just wish I’d remembered about it last night. Tosh reminded me. It can analyse any living organism and determine nutritional requirements and what elements would be harmful. I usually use it on the alien plants in the hothouse to provide optimum growing conditions, but it’s equally effective for more complex life forms such as animals. Now it has a profile of Nosy in its databanks, I can check all kinds of food to see what Nosy can digest, then it’s just a case of letting it sample a selection of different things and seeing what it likes.”
Jack grinned. “Excellent. Then I can leave it to you to work out a suitable diet for our new pet.”
“If the rift stays quiet, I’ll go to Asda later and see what I can get. For the moment, I’ll get some troughs planted up with the moss you gathered and rig up growing lamps and an irrigation system. Mickey, mate, think you can give me a hand with the electronics and stuff?”
“Good. If you two don’t have anything urgent that needs your attention, make Nosy’s food supply your priority today. Tosh and Andy should be able to handle anything else that comes up.”
“Do I want to know what the two of you will be doing?” Owen asked tentatively.
“We’re going shopping,” Ianto replied, “We need other supplies for Nosy besides food.”
“Shopping? You’re supposed to be keeping off that leg as much as possible for the next few days!”
“It’s fine, Owen, just a bit sore. I’ve got it bandaged.”
“It’s going to be more than just a bit bloody sore after you’ve finished traipsing around the shops. Can‘t it wait until your knee‘s healed?”
“We might not have another lull in rift activity for weeks,” Ianto explained patiently, “and I’m certainly not letting Jack go shopping alone, God knows what he’d come back with.”
“Hey! I‘m not that bad!”
“You get distracted and sidetracked. The last time I let you do the shopping alone, you forgot most of what was on the list and came home with ten pairs of novelty boxer shorts!”
“They were on sale! Anyway, you liked them!”
“That’s beside the point. I had to go and finish the shopping myself.”
Nosy looked back and forth between them like someone watching a tennis match.
“Okay, enough!” Owen yelled. Everyone fell silent and Nosy turned to stare at him, wide-eyed. Which, come to think of it, was its normal expression. “Fine, you can go shopping…”
“Oi! I’m not finished! You can go shopping provided you agree to use a cane to take some of the weight off your leg.”
“What? No way!”
“Your choice. You use the cane - and I do mean use it, not leave it in the car - or I’ll have Mickey help me handcuff you to the couch and Jack can go shopping alone.”
Mickey raised his hands and backed off. “Hey, leave me out of it.”
“Fancy trying it on your own?” Ianto challenged, glaring at Owen.
“If I have to.” Owen glared back.
“This is ridiculous. Jack…” Ianto started, turning to face his lover… only to find Jack staring at him, a slightly goofy grin on his face.”
“Jack?” Ianto waved a hand in front of Jack’s face. “Are you still in there?”
Jack blinked and seemed to come back from wherever his thoughts had wandered off to. He looked Ianto up and down for a moment, appreciatively, then suddenly bolted towards his office.
“Now what?” Owen grumbled. “You didn’t happen to drop him on his head yesterday, did you?” he asked Ianto suspiciously.
Jack skidded to a halt in his office doorway and glanced back briefly. “Stay there, I’ll be right back.” With that, he vanished into his office and down the hatch.
Three men and a fluffy alien stared after him for a moment, then looked at each other with baffled expressions.
“How do you put up with him?” Mickey asked.
“When he’s like this, with difficulty,” Ianto sighed.
Moments later, Jack reappeared, carrying a long, cloth-wrapped bundle. Setting it down on the coffee table, he removed the cloth wrapping and straightened up, turning to face Ianto and holding out his hands.
In one hand he held a rosewood cane with a brass knob; in the other, an ebony cane with a pewter knob.
“Where’d you get those?” Mickey asked, stepping forward for a closer look.
“They’re mine. Used to use them all the time, back in the days when they were fashionable. They’ve been in the back of the wardrobe for so long, I’d almost forgotten I still had them.”
Owen frowned. “Those better not have swords in them, we can do without Tea Boy getting arrested for carrying a deadly weapon.”
“Of course not!” Jack sounded scandalised. “My sword stick’s still in the wardrobe. It’s much too ostentatious for a shopping trip, it’s more suited for evening use, attending the opera or a recital.”
Ianto rolled his eyes. “Of course.” He was about to turn down Jack’s offer when he took a good look at his Captain’s expression. Jack was smiling softly, almost wistfully as he ran his hands lightly over the canes and Ianto found himself wondering what memories they evoked, of people and places in Jack’s past that he’d never mentioned. Unlike most people, Jack didn’t tend to keep much. The canes were clearly well cared for and Ianto realised they were probably among Jack’s oldest possessions, kept for sentimental reasons. He studied them carefully. As much as he’d disliked the thought of using a cane, he had to admit these were beautiful. Elegant accessories from a time of pocket watches and horse drawn carriages, they appealed to him in a way modern walking sticks never would. That Jack was offering him the use of one of these beautiful antiques spoke volumes and he knew he couldn’t refuse.
“The ebony one I think: it’ll go better with my suit.”
Jack’s smile seemed brighter than the sun. “Excellent choice.” He handed the cane to Ianto, who took it gently and tested it. It was ideal, not surprising as he and Jack were close to the same height.
Ianto smiled as he leaned in to give Jack a soft kiss. “Thank you, Cariad. I’ll take very good care of it.”
“I know you will.” For a few moments, they lost themselves in each other’s eyes, until Owen cleared his throat.
“Right, so that’s sorted. Go on your shopping trip if you must, just try not to overdo things. You can ice the knee again when you get back, then I expect you to keep off it as much as possible until it‘s fully healed. There still aren‘t so many of us that we can afford to be a man down because of taking chances with what should be a relatively minor injury.”
“Okay, I get it,” Ianto grumbled, “and I will rest my knee later, but there are things we need for Nosy that can’t wait - a bed for a start. It ended up spending the night underneath ours, which was inconvenient to say the least.”
“I thought you put it to bed up here.”
“We did, but it didn’t like being alone so it decided to join us,” Jack replied. “I suppose we should be grateful it didn’t try to get in bed with us.”
“God, yes, there’s barely enough room for the two of us as it is!” Ianto agreed.
“It’s cosy though.”
“Or cramped, depending on how you look at it,” Ianto said with a wry smile. “Right, the rest of the team should be in soon, so I’d better get their coffee ready.”
Ianto headed back to the kitchenette once more, assisted by Jack’s cane, this time with a hopeful looking Nosy slinking along behind him, carrying an empty coffee mug.
“Myfanwy will be wanting coffee next,” Owen muttered, shaking his head, “You just wait and see.”
Jack laughed and headed back towards his office, to return his other cane to its hiding place in the wardrobe and collect his coat. “Wouldn’t surprise me at all!”
TBC in What To Buy For Your Pet Alien (Title subject to change if someone comes up with a better one).