It had been a very stressful day.
An attempted invasion by extremely hostile and still unidentified aliens had resulted in Jack dying (three times), while Tosh, Andy, Gwen and Ianto had all been injured.
Thankfully, none of their injuries had been life threatening, but they’d required a variety of bandages, stitches, plaster casts and painkillers. Owen had been run off his feet tending to four patients simultaneously. He still hadn’t stopped.
Everyone was feeling frazzled and it was clearly affecting Nosy. Being an empathic creature could be tough at the best of times, but in an environment like Torchwood it was inevitably much worse. Every time Jack had seen Nosy since the team had arrived back, it had been slithering past clutching one of its soft toys in its mouth, busily trying to comfort the injured. Now Tosh was sitting on one of the sofas hugging a plush hippo, Andy sat beside her with Nosy’s floppy dog on his lap, Gwen huddled in an armchair holding a green crocodile and Ianto was lying on the other sofa with Nosy’s fluffy sheep tucked under one arm.
Jack had seen Owen refuse Nosy’s offer of a cuddly monkey several times, not having a free hand to hold it with, but now he sat slumped on the floor in the break area where he could keep an eye on his patients, the monkey in one hand and a bottle of beer in the other.
When it wasn’t checking on its injured friends, Nosy lay nearby, coiled around the green furry snake Ianto had given it after he and Jack had returned from their first toy-shopping trip.
Jack leant on the railings outside his office, observing his battered team, minus Mickey, who’d miraculously avoided being hurt and so had been left behind to liase with the police and hand out Retcon where necessary.
Just as he realised Nosy was no longer in sight, Jack felt something nudge at his leg. He looked down to see Nosy offering him a teddy bear. He was about to refuse when he realised it was Fred, the first toy he’d ever given Nosy, nearly two years ago. Along with Shaun the sheep and Sid the snake, it was one of Nosy’s most treasured possessions, the Fluff wouldn’t loan it to just anyone. Jack accepted it solemnly, hugging it to his chest, feeling tears prick behind his eyes.
The Fluff hummed sympathetically and tugged at his trouser leg, urging him towards the stairs to join his team.
“Yeah, you’re right, we should all be together to comfort each other.” He followed Nosy down to the break area, dragging a chair from the nearest desk and settling himself by Ianto’s head. Nosy curled itself tightly around its toy snake beneath the sofa Ianto was currently lying on, nursing a mild concussion and a laser wound through his right thigh. He’d hit his head falling when his leg was literally shot out from under him. Jack ran his fingers gently through Ianto’s hair, carefully avoiding the large lump on his temple.
Everyone was silent, each lost in his or her own thoughts. Andy, his left leg with its cast propped up on the coffee table, stared down at the toy dog on his lap, playing with its silky ears. Gwen, curled in her chair, her hair hiding the cut on her cheek and two black eyes, her bandaged hand held protectively close to her chest, stroked the velvety fuzz of the crocodile, which lay on the chair’s arm. Tosh had curled up on her right side, using the hippo as a pillow, the bandages stark white against her gashed left arm. Owen leant against the sofa beside her, holding the monkey by its hands and swinging it back and forth, occasionally pausing to sip at his beer. Jack hugged the teddy bear tightly against his chest with one arm, fingertips playing with one of its fuzzy ears, his other hand still smoothing Ianto’s hair.
Ianto, lying on the sofa and making the sheep hop back and forth along the cushions in front of him, snorted softy. Heads raised and all eyes turned towards him.
“We look like overgrown pre-schoolers put down for a nap with our stuffies. Why is everyone being so gloomy? We saved the day again, we all survived. Isn’t that reason enough to be happy?”
“I died,” corrected Jack. “Three times.”
“I know, I was there, remember? All three times. But you’re alive again, that counts as surviving. So we got a bit battered and bruised, so what? Wasn’t the first time; probably won’t be the last. The point is we lived to tell the tale. We’ll heal, just like always. We have a great doctor.” Owen looked at Ianto, surprised. “He’s a pain in the arse but he knows his stuff.” Owen considered protesting at that, but then just shrugged.
“Takes one to know one.”
Ianto inclined his head slightly in acknowledgment.
“We should be celebrating instead of acting like we all died.”
“You all could have,” Jack said bluntly.
“Could have, but didn’t. Leave the mourning until we do kick the bucket; until then, smile and be glad we’re all still here. It’s been a tough day, I know, I was there, but it isn’t the end of the world. We saw to that.”
Jack nodded slowly, taking in what Ianto had just said. He may be the youngest of the team but he was wise far beyond his years.
“Ianto’s right. Yes, some of us need time to heal, but what matters is that we’re all still here. We should be counting our blessings. No more wallowing, time to cheer up! The Doctor always thought that tea was the ultimate cure for everything so how about I make us all some?”
“You can make tea?” Owen sounded sceptical.
“Jack makes good tea,” Ianto affirmed. “Learned that from the Doctor. Apparently even aliens are partial to a cuppa.” He tilted his head a little to look at Jack. “I could use a hot drink and much as I hate to say it, tea’s definitely a better choice than coffee under the circumstances. Count me in.”
“Me too.” Tosh waggled a foot at Jack, unwilling to move the rest of herself.
Owen raised a hand.
“Beer’s okay, but tea would be better.” Everyone turned to stare at him. “What? I’m still on duty, wouldn’t do to get plastered.”
“I’m the only one allowed to be plastered right now,” Andy quipped, gesturing at his cast. He raised one of the dog’s front paws. “Tea sounds good, I’m parched.”
“A cuppa would be heaven,” Gwen added with a wonky smile. “Thanks, Jack.”
Nosy hummed agreement from under the sofa.
“Tea for everyone then,” Jack grinned, standing up and heading for the kitchenette, teddy bear tucked under his arm.
By the time Mickey got back from Retconning witnesses, the rest of the team were sitting around, sipping tea, munching on biscuits and telling terrible jokes. He pulled a chair over to join his friends, settling astride it as Jack handed him a cup of tea. Looking around at everyone, he decided it might be best not to ask why they were all, including their fearless leader, clutching cuddly toys. There were some things he was probably better off not knowing. So when Nosy slithered up and shoved a stuffed toy rabbit into his hand, Mickey took it without a word. It seemed like the right thing to do.