Jack slumped on the sofa, feeling thoroughly miserable. It was bad enough that he couldn’t go out anymore because of his hugely bloated belly; he looked like he’d swallowed a whale, and the curious stares of passers-by made him feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. Besides, he waddled when he walked and his feet hurt all the time. He’d kept working as long as he could, mostly doing paperwork and research for the rest of the team, but now he was so huge that he’d almost got stuck in his desk chair last week, so he’d decided to spend the remainder of his pregnancy at home, where he could rest, watch TV, and knit baby clothes.
He knew it had been the only sensible option in his condition, and Ianto had agreed with him; the only problem was, Ianto was at the Hub so Jack was all alone, his feet were cold, and try as he might, he couldn’t reach them to put socks on. Used to be, he could touch his toes easily, but that had been months ago, when he could still bend. Now his middle was crammed so full of baby that bending was a distant dream, and so, apparently, was having warm feet. He’d contorted himself into every position imaginable, trying to hook a sock over the tips of his toes and pull it up, but to no avail. Now his arms hurt, his back ached, his hips and knees felt like they’d nearly been pulled out of their sockets, he needed to pee again, and his feet were still freezing.
Levering himself awkwardly off the sofa, he padded into the bathroom, the tiled floor only serving to make his bare feet even colder. A big tear dribbled down his face and dripped off his chin; he felt frumpy and ugly and cold, not to mention bored, and he didn’t like being alone like this while everyone else was out having fun, or at least being kept busy. He doubted they were even missing him at work; it wasn’t like he’d been much use the last two or three weeks, unable to concentrate on anything for long and prone to either falling asleep or bursting into tears for no reason.
Slowly he waddled his way back into the living room, stopping off in the kitchen to fetch a snack and make himself a cup of tea. Maybe a hot drink would help to warm his cold feet; they were starting to make the rest of him feel cold. Why had he said no when Ianto had suggested getting him some fluffy slippers to wear around the flat? He could really use something like that now, but his only footwear was his usual boots and a single pair of black leather dress shoes for going out on dates. Neither of those would help his cold feet, even if he could bend enough to get them on.
Tilting sideways, he managed to set his mug and plate on the end table before sinking gratefully onto the firm cushions of the sofa. He shifted about, settling his bulk as comfortably as he could, then picked up the steaming mug, cradling it in both hands as he took a cautious sip. It was still much too hot to drink, so he rested the mug on his bump and thought morosely of what lay ahead. Four lonely weeks stretched out before him until his due date. How was he going to cope with four weeks of cold feet and isolation?
The baby kicked, almost spilling his tea, and he lifted the mug one-handed for another sip, smoothing his other hand over his bump, hoping to soothe junior enough to prevent having the stuffing kicked out of his innards. What had possessed him to get pregnant anyway? It was all Ianto’s fault.
Still, there was nothing to be gained by wallowing in self-pity. Maybe he could take his mind off his discomfort and his cold feet by reading while he had his snack. He reached to pick up the book he’d left on the arm of the sofa earlier, and promptly knocked it onto the floor. Tears of frustration filled his eyes; it wasn’t fair, everything was conspiring against him! Setting his mug down, he slid to the edge of the sofa, and from there onto the floor, fumbling around for the book because he couldn’t see past his belly. Snagging it by the cover, he picked it up and put it on the seat of the sofa, then spent a good five minutes levering himself back up there, where he slumped again, panting. When he got his breath back, he picked up his tea again only to discover it was almost cold. That was the final straw; he called Ianto, and sniffled incoherently down the phone at him.
Less than ten minutes later, the flat door opened and Ianto hurried in, finding Jack on the sofa, eating a chocolate biscuit and crying. He sat down beside his pregnant husband, and heedless of getting covered in crumbs and chocolate smears, wrapped his arms around him while Jack tried to tell him what was wrong.
“I can’t bend and my feet are cold so I made a hot drink and that went cold too, and I know I said I didn’t want warm fluffy slippers, but I do!” Jack wailed.
Ianto just hugged and kissed him. “Don’t worry, Cariad, I’ll fix everything.”
“You will? You’re not mad at me for calling you at work because I’m so useless?”
“Of course I will, and you’re not useless. Don’t ever think that.”
“But I can’t even bend to put socks on or pick things up when I drop them!”
“That’s not your fault, Jack, it’s this little one in here getting in the way.” Ianto placed his hand gently on Jack’s bump.
“It’s not little, it’s enormous. I look like an elephant.”
“You don’t, but even if you did it wouldn’t change anything; I happen to like elephants. Now, you dry your eyes,” Ianto handed Jack a box of tissues, “and I will take care of everything else.”
While Jack mopped his face, Ianto went to their bedroom and fetched two pairs of warm socks, crouching down to slip them onto Jack’s feet, which he put up on the footstool. Then he turned the heating up a bit and took Jack’s cold tea to the kitchen, pouring it away and making a fresh mug, then filling a thermos with tea as well.
“There you go, now you have plenty of hot tea to drink.” He sat down beside Jack again. “This is my fault really,” he sighed. “I should have helped you get dressed before I left this morning, and I shouldn’t have left you alone for hours trying to manage all by yourself. You need a helper.”
“But Torchwood is one man down as it is!” Jack protested. “You can’t spare anyone to hang around here just in case I need a hand with something, and you can’t exactly hire someone to sit with your pregnant husband either. And anyway, I should be able to look after myself. Pregnant women manage so why can’t I?”
“You can, but just like everyone else, you need a hand occasionally, and I think I have the ideal solution. In fact I should’ve thought of it right away, I don’t know why I didn’t. Now, just relax and I’ll be back before you know it.” Ianto stood up and put his coat back on before bending to kiss Jack. “Love you.” He bent further to press his lips to Jack’s belly. “Love you too, even though you’re causing your daddy no end of problems. Now be good and don’t kick too much in there or you’ll give him hiccups again.”
After Ianto had left, Jack sipped his hot tea and thought how lucky he was to have such an understanding husband. Poor Ianto was having to run Torchwood in his place, as well as rushing around doing all the things Jack couldn’t manage, like the shopping… and putting his socks on.
Ianto was back not half an hour later, laden with things to help Jack manage more easily. First a grabber, a stick with pincers on one end operated by a lever on the handle, so he could pick up things he dropped without needing to bend. Then a pair of rainbow-coloured fluffy slippers that he could easily slide his feet into so they would stay nice and warm when he was moving around, and last but by no means least, Jack’s new assistant.
As soon as it came through the door, Nosy slithered straight over to its friend and laid its head in his lap, humming comfortingly, and Jack almost broke down in tears again.
“Nosy can fetch things for you, keep your feet warm when you’re sitting down, and keep you company as well,” Ianto explained. “While we’ll miss having it around the Hub, I think you need its help more than we do right now.”
Jack petted the Fluff and gave a wobbly smile. “Thank you.” He wasn’t sure whether he was thanking his husband, their pet, or both, but he felt certain they’d understand.
“Is there anything else you need before I head back and make sure the Hub is still in one piece?”
Jack shook his head. “I think I have everything I need now. Any idea what time you’ll be home? I thought I might make macaroni and cheese for dinner.” Jack was on a vegetarian diet since he couldn’t stand the smell of cooking meat.
“Sounds great! I should be back around seven.” Ianto kissed Jack goodbye, patted Nosy, and left.
“So, want to watch a movie?” Jack asked Nosy.
“HUM!” Nosy agreed cheerfully. It slithered over to the TV, switched it on with its snout, and brought the remote control to Jack, who flicked through the available options.
“How about The Princess Bride?”
“HUMMMM!” Nosy said eagerly. It loved that movie as much as Jack did.
Laughing, Jack started the movie as the Fluff slithered up onto the sofa and coiled itself against his side. Suddenly spending the next four weeks stuck at home didn’t seem so bad. It was amazing how much difference the right company could make.