It was almost December already, and Nosy the Fluff knew what that meant; Christmas time! It didn’t completely understand the holiday, but it knew there was a lot to enjoy about it. Only yesterday it had seen Jack and Ianto carrying lots of cardboard boxes up from where they were usually stored in the archives, boxes labelled ‘XMAS LIGHTS’ and ‘TINSEL’ and ‘DECORATIONS’. By now it could read all those words and a lot of others, although there were still a lot of words to learn. This would be its third Christmas with its human friends and it was going to ask Santa for a dictionary; then it could learn ALL the words, find out how they were spelled, and look up things it didn’t understand.
Christmas also meant giving gifts to the people you cared about, and this year Nosy wanted to choose and buy the gifts for its friends all by itself, instead of having to ask Ianto. He and Tosh had been teaching Nosy to use its own computer; they’d even set up an online PayPal account for it under the name Lenny Osia, so it could buy things off ebay with its wages. Ianto had insisted that with everything Nosy did around the Hub to help the team, it deserved to be paid, and so now it was. Money was strange stuff; it didn’t look like much, just little bits of metal and pieces of paper, but it could be exchanged for all sorts of nice things. It was nice being able to choose special things for itself without always having to ask someone if it could have something.
Nosy’s friends were all busy right now, doing important work things, and Nosy itself didn’t seem to be needed for anything in particular, so it slithered over to its play area and turned its computer on. It hadn’t bought anything for several weeks, most of what it really needed was provided by its friends anyway, so it had lots of money to spend on gifts, but what would everyone like?
Ianto was easy; his coffee mug had been broken the day before when a small alien had got loose in the Hub and tripped him up. It didn’t take long for Nosy to find the perfect replacement, a smart black mug with a red dragon on it. Ianto liked dragons. With a few clicks, Nosy had it bought and paid for.
Tosh was quite easy to buy for as well; she liked purple things so it got her a pretty purple woollen hat to keep her head warm in the cold weather. Gwen liked pretty things too, and she never seemed to wrap up properly in winter, always coming in shivering, so Nosy selected a cosy green and black scarf for her.
Jack liked silly things, but also old things, so Nosy looked at toys first, and then searched the collectables section. It took a while, but eventually the Fluff found a dark blue glass paperweight with sparkly bits in it that made it look like the sky at night. It would look nice on Jack’s desk, but be useful as well.
For Mickey, Nosy chose a pencil holder shaped like a funny little yellow person, much better than the old yoghurt pot he’d been using to keep his pens and small tools in, and for Andy a wooden puzzle, because he liked having something to fiddle with when he was thinking.
George was no problem either; a clothes brush to keep himself nice and clean would be ideal, and for Myfanwy, a big bar of dark chocolate. That just left Owen to buy for. Hmmmm.
Nosy liked Owen a lot, he was funny, often grumpy, but always kind. He’d helped Nosy when it had that sneezy thing because of the plant pollen, and he took care of Ianto and the others whenever they got hurt, which happened quite a lot because working for Torchwood could be dangerous, but what sort of present would he appreciate?
He liked playing computer games, but Nosy didn’t know which ones he’d already got and there were so many to choose from. He liked magazines with pictures of people with no clothes on, which wasn’t surprising because he was a doctor and needed to know what people should look like when they weren’t hurt so he could fix them when they were. He liked drinking beer, but Nosy wasn’t sure it would be a good idea to have something like that delivered by the postman; the bottles might leak and that would be no good at all. Perhaps something to eat? No, wait… Nosy suddenly had a flash of inspiration!
Down in the medical bay, and especially in his new research lab, Owen had lots of odd things in glass jars; he must collect them the same way Nosy collected bottle caps, so maybe Nosy could get him a new one to add to his collection.
It took a long time for Nosy to find what it was looking for because it didn’t know what the things in jars were called, but at last it found the perfect thing. The jar looked like it was full of small people heads, with funny expressions and wobbly eyes, and Nosy was sure Owen didn’t already have a jar like that one. He was going to love it!
Last item paid for, Nosy turned off its computer and relaxed; all its Christmas shopping was done and it wasn’t even December yet! All it would have to do was wait for everything to be delivered and then pop the gifts in the gift boxes it had also bought and write the labels.
Nosy got a lot of post over the next couple of weeks, but wouldn’t tell anyone what it had been buying, making all of its friends very curious. It had been careful to only buy things for sale in the UK so they would arrive in time for the big day, and as the gifts arrived it enlisted George’s help to open the various packages and check their contents, before hiding everything carefully at the bottom of its ball pit where nobody would find them, not even Jack.
The night before Christmas Eve, which was the day everyone always gave each other their presents because most of them wouldn’t be at the Hub on Christmas Day, Nosy waited until Andy, who was on night duty, went to sleep and then slipped out of the top bunk to retrieve the gifts from their hiding place. It had already sneakily written the labels, so now all it needed to do was put each boxed gift on the right desk, its label attached with a dab of glue. When that was done, Nosy slithered back to bed and went to sleep, feeling very pleased with itself.
The next morning Nosy was up early, not wanting to miss anything. It was even up before Ianto and Jack, who were usually the first to surface from their room below Jack’s office, which gave the Fluff just enough time to check that none of the labels had fallen off the gifts during the night. They hadn’t, what a relief!
Ianto was the first to emerge, already immaculately dressed in his suit and tie. He made straight for the coffee machine, which was where Nosy had left his gift. A little while later, Jack called down from his office.
“Ianto? Do you know where this box on my desk came from?”
“Check the label,” Ianto called back. “I’ve got one as well. In fact, I think everyone has. It looks like a certain Fluff has been busy.”
“Huh, I guess now we know why Nosy was being so secretive about all the post it was getting. D’you think we should open ours now or wait for the others to arrive?”
“You’re actually considering waiting?” Ianto asked, coming out of the kitchen with a tray of coffee mugs. “Are you feeling alright?”
“Oh, very funny. I am capable of waiting, you know.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” Ianto teased, carrying the tray up to Jack’s office, with Nosy slithering along behind him. “Why don’t we open ours while we have our coffee? I doubt the others will stand on ceremony when they get here.”
“Brilliant idea,” Jack agreed, nabbing his mug and plonking himself down in his desk chair.
Ianto set the tray on the desk and picked up Nosy’s big mug, placing it on the floor where the Fluff could get at it. He took his usual perch on the edge of Jack’s desk before taking his gift from the tray.
“Do we open them together or separately? I don’t think we’ve got the same thing; my box is a bit bigger than yours.”
“I don’t mind, but I’m opening mine now.” Jack’s patience had apparently run out; he put his coffee mug down and reached for his present, flipping the lid open and pulling out tissue paper before unveiling the paperweight. His usual wide smile got even wider. “Look at this! I haven’t seen one of these for years! Thank you, Nosy; it’s perfect! It’ll keep the papers from blowing off my desk.”
Ianto was similarly delighted with his new mug; it was bigger than the old chipped one from the back of the cupboard that he’d been using since his had broken.
“This is just what I needed, Nosy, the right colours and everything! Thank you, next time I make coffee I’ll use my new mug.”
“Morning, all!” Andy wandered into Jack’s office. “Look what I found at my workstation! Thought I’d come up here and join you lot while I open it, if I’m not intruding.” He had a mug of coffee in one hand and a box in the other.
“Not at all!” Ianto smiled. “Soon as you’ve opened your present I’ll see about getting us all something for breakfast.”
Andy pulled up a chair and sat, setting his coffee mug on the tray on Jack’s desk to avoid annoying Ianto by leaving a ring on the polished wood. “Right, let’s see what this is all about.” He checked the label. “To Andy, love from Nosy. Well, thank you very much, young Fluff, what have we here?” Opening his box, he pulled out a wooden cube made up of twenty-seven smaller cubes, all joined together in various ways by a strong elastic cord. “A puzzle! I’m going to have a lot of fun with this. It’s brilliant!” He unravelled the puzzle into a long, wonky row of cubes then started trying to work out how to turn it into one big cube again.
Nosy hummed happily, three gifts, and three very happy recipients, or four if it included Myfanwy who had already eaten her chocolate. Nosy had delivered that to her first thing this morning, already unwrapped. No, make that five; George had just appeared with his clothes brush, stroking Nosy with his non-existent hand to show his appreciation before demonstrating his brush for the others present.
“That’s an excellent idea for George, Nosy,” Ianto approved.
“Wait,” said Andy, “didn’t you get Nosy’s gifts for us like you did last year?”
Ianto shook his head. “Nope, Nosy picked them out all by itself; online shopping is a godsend for a Fluff. It must have saved its wages for weeks.”
“Well, I’m impressed.”
“I think we all are. Our fluffy friend has excellent taste in gifts.” Ianto showed off his new mug and Jack his paperweight.
“I wonder what it got for the others.” Jack peered out across the Hub at the boxes still waiting on various workstations.
“We’ll find out when they get here.” Ianto stood up, gathering the empty mugs, including his new one, onto his tray to take down to the kitchen for washing. “Scrambled eggs on toast alright for breakfast? I’ll cook up some bacon as well for us humans.”
“Sounds good. I’ll give you a hand.” Andy followed Ianto out of Jack’s office, still playing with his puzzle.
Breakfast was finished and the dishes all washed and put away, courtesy of George, before the rest of the team started filing in. Tosh arrived first, as usual, calling a greeting to her friends as she took off her coat and hung it up.
“It’s really cold out this morning; I wouldn’t be surprised if we get snow.”
“It’s not forecast,” Ianto said, bringing his friend a mug of freshly brewed coffee. “Wouldn’t be the first time the forecast has been wrong though.”
“Thanks, Ianto. I’m sure the met office does its best; weather is just tricky
to predict with complete accuracy, it’s always changing.” Tosh headed for her workstation. “Oh! What’s this?” Putting her mug down she picked up the box on her desk, reading the label and smiling down at the Fluff who was lurking nearby, watching her avidly. “Thank you, Nosy!” Opening the box, Tosh pulled out the warm woolly hat, deep purple with a snowflake pattern in lighter shades. “Oh, this is perfect! Just what I need, especially if we get snow. It’s even my favourite colour!” She pulled it on to show everyone before crouching down to give Nosy a big hug. “I love it!”
Mickey arrived just as everyone was admiring Tosh’s hat, Gwen trailing after him; he’d given her a lift because Rhys would be coming in later on for Torchwood’s Christmas Party and it didn’t make sense to use both their cars since they’d be going home together afterwards. “Nice hat, Tosh; suits you.”
“Thanks, Mickey; it’s my Christmas present from Nosy.”
“Looks lovely and warm,” Gwen agreed, shoulders hunched inside her leather jacket, shivering a little.
“It is. I’m all set for whatever the weather throws at us. Are you two going to open your presents?”
“Oooh!” Gwen practically jumped up and down when she spotted the box on her desk. “Is this for me?”
Nosy hummed affirmatively, slithering over to watch as she lifted the lid off the box. She shook the scarf out, feeling the wool soft and warm in her bare hands, green and black, the colours that suited her best. Quickly she wrapped it around her neck. “Thank you, pet, it’s lovely! I’m going to wear it to work every day while it’s so cold out.” She bent down to stroke Nosy. “What did you get, Mickey?”
“Don’t know yet; I was waitin’ for you to open yours first.” Mickey flipped up the lid of his box, pulling out some crumpled paper, and broke into a grin. “A Minions pen holder; this is fantastic! I’m gonna put my pens in it right away. Thanks, Nosy!”
“You lot sound cheerful!” Owen came in from the garage, carrying a heavy box full of booze, his contribution for the party. “Did I miss something?”
Ianto took the box from him. “Nosy bought us all presents; yours is on your desk. Don’t open it until I get back.” He headed for the kitchen with the party drinks, returning with mugs of coffee for those who hadn’t had any yet.
Owen accepted his, taking a huge gulp. “Ah, that hits the spot. Bloody freezing out there. If it stays like that we won’t need ice for the drinks this evening; just send ‘em up on the invisible lift for a few minutes and they’ll be plenty cold enough, if they don’t freeze solid.” He set his mug down and turned his attention to the gift on his desk. “Someone’s been busy.”
“Hummm,” Nosy agreed, feeling justifiably pleased with itself.
“Right, let’s see what this is.” Owen lifted the lid off the box, rummaged in the crumpled tissue paper, pulled out a jar, and immediately burst out laughing. “Pickled People!” he snorted.
“Let me see!” Tosh squeezed up next to him, laughing too. “Oh, they’re cute! Look at their funny little faces!”
“Nosy, you’ve outdone yourself!” Owen grinned down at the Fluff. “These are goin’ with my specimen jars in my lab. I can’t wait to see the look on Martha’s face next time she visits!”
Nosy fluffed up with a mixture of pride and relief; everyone liked the gifts it had chosen for them. The only trouble was, whatever could it get them all next Christmas? It would have to start looking online as soon as the holiday was over.