Watching Nosy puttering happily about the Hub, Ianto smiled.
“Hard to believe it’s been exactly five years since we captured our fluffy friend. Nosy doesn’t look a day older!”
“Well,” Jack smirked, sliding his arms around Ianto’s waist from behind, “neither do you or I.”
Ianto inclined his head. “True, that’s one of the more positive aspects of being immortal.”
Jack chuckled. “I didn’t used to think there were any positive aspects, but it’s different now. I have you, and we have our very long-lived pet. So, is everything ready for Nosy’s Finding Day party?”
Ianto nodded. “The guys are just putting the finishing touches on the decorations, Gwen smuggled the cake in and Tosh helped me set the table with the rest of the food.”
“I’ve got all the gifts in my office ready to take down to the conference room, if you can lend a hand?”
Ianto chuckled. “I think I can spare a few minutes to help you. What do I get as a reward?”
“How about a massage later?”
Ianto considered the offer. “Does it come with a foot rub?”
“I think that could be arranged.”
“Deal. Let’s get going.”
Half an hour later, with the party all ready to begin, the guest of honour was nowhere to be found, which was more than a little unusual. Ever curious, Nosy would usually be lurking nearby if anything even remotely interesting looked like it might be going on.
The entire team started searching, looking in all the places their resident Fluff could usually be found, calling Nosy’s name but getting no response at all. Finally, puzzled and concerned, they returned to the conference room, comparing notes on where they’d looked and wondering where to check next. Owen reached for a sandwich, but Ianto slapped his hand away.
“No one’s eating until the guest of honour is here,” he admonished.
Owen grumbled, but reluctantly agreed.
They never did find out what secret place Nosy had found for itself, but a short while later the Fluff suddenly appeared, slinking through the conference room door, followed by a small, fuzzy, black and purple striped version of itself. Everyone stared in amazement.
“Is that… a baby Fluff?” asked Tosh in a whisper.
“What else could it be?” Jack stepped forward to take a closer look. Nosy looked oddly smug.
“It’s a Flufflet!” Ianto declared.
Nosy hummed happily and picked its baby up, plonking it firmly on Tosh’s lap before helping itself to food from the table.
Tosh beamed happily at the Flufflet in her lap; it made squeaky little humming sounds as she petted it.
Owen huffed. “I guess that means Nosy is female after all.”
“Not necessarily,” Jack told him. “You can never really be certain with aliens.”
“Yeah, I guess.” Owen sat beside Tosh and was tickling the Flufflet’s head when Nosy appeared at their side and shoved some wet watercress in front of the baby. It immediately started eating. “Well, at least now I don’t have to ask what we should feed it.”
It wasn’t quite the party they’d planned, they ended up spending most of it laughing at the baby Fluff’s antics and playing with it among the discarded wrapping paper from their gifts. It had Nosy’s endless curiosity already and seemed quite independent, though they quickly noticed it only ate what Nosy put in front of it, probably already being taught what was good to eat. It also never strayed far from Tosh and Owen.
Knowing that Fluffs bond empathically with a chosen couple or family, Ianto smiled.
“Looks like Nosy’s chosen you two to be the Flufflet’s human family.”
Tosh was thrilled. “Thank you, Nosy. We’ll take good care of your baby, I promise. Now we just need to think of a name for it.” She looked up at Owen. “Any ideas?”
Owen looked at the Flufflet, which was trying to chase its own tail.
“How about Dizzy? ‘Cause that’s what it’s going to be if it keeps that up for long.”
Tosh laughed. “I like that! Dizzy it is then.”
Nosy hummed approval, it knew it had made the right choice. Really, it was about time those two had a Fluff of their own. Maybe now they’d stop messing about and bond with each other properly, the way its own humans already had!
It looked around at its human friends. This was a good place. Unlike the place it had come from, here there was an abundance of the substance needed for reproducing and its friends ensured there was always a plentiful supply. It had made budding a youngling so much easier and faster that the last time, the process had been completed in a matter of days instead of months. Here, it would even be possible to bud more than one new life at a time, something unheard of in the place it had come from. This youngling would surely thrive.
Nosy sniffed appreciatively as Ianto set a plate of cake in front of it, realising that he’d even been thoughtful enough to provide the nutritious substance in an easily digestible form for the youngling’s first few days. It carefully broke off a small piece of coffee cake and nudged it in front of Dizzy.
“Eat this,” it hummed in its own language, “and you will grow big and strong!”
Dizzy nibbled at the cake, giving a squeaky hum of delight at the taste and making Jack laugh.
“Looks like it will fit in well with the team, it’s already got a taste for coffee. Soon it’ll be as addicted as the rest of us.”
“Is that your not-so-subtle way of asking me to make some?” Ianto asked with a smirk.
Jack put on his best pleading expression. “Pretty please? It would go so well with this cake.”
Ianto rolled his eyes, but he was smiling. Glancing around the room, he asked, “Anyone else want coffee?”
Unsurprisingly, everyone in the room raised their hand.
“Coffees for everyone then,” he murmured as he headed towards the door, snagging Jack by the arm on his way out and almost dragging him along. “Come on, you’re helping, I can’t carry everyone’s drinks by myself, I’ll need an extra pair of hands.”
Just outside the door he paused and looked back; it was good to see everyone enjoying themselves. Jack stopped too, slipping his arm around Ianto’s shoulders.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
“Cheapskate. A penny’s worth nothing these days; make it a fiver and I might tell you.”
“I dunno, are your thoughts worth that much?” Jack teased.
“Cheeky!” Ianto elbowed him in the ribs, getting a startled “Oof” in reply. Relenting, he added, “So much has happened in the last five years, some of it good, some bad, some completely bonkers.” He turned to Jack. “I thought I knew what to expect today, I had everything planned so carefully, and then this…” He waved his hand vaguely at the crowd of happy people and the two Fluffs.
“It’s kind of reassuring that the universe can still surprise us in a good way,” Jack murmured in his ear, before pressing a kiss to Ianto’s temple.
“Yeah, I suppose it is.” Ianto smiled softly at Jack. “Come on, better make the coffee before they send out a search party.”
“Nah, they wouldn’t even notice if we didn’t come back at all.” Jack looked thoughtful for a moment. “Where do you think we’ll be five years from now?”
“Still here, and knee deep in Fluffs, probably.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
Hand in hand, chatting quietly, they made their way down the corridor, heading for the kitchen. Although there was no way of knowing what the future held, they both felt secure in the knowledge that whatever happened, neither of them would be facing it alone.