Ch. 8 Do not mess with angry mothers
When Owen and Jack arrived, the Hub was a big mess. It looked like a tornado had been let loose inside. One workstation was upturned and papers and other debris littered the place. A light flickered on and off making the sight seem a bit eerie. Jack scanned the room, but he could see neither Toshiko nor Myfanwy. Suddenly Owen pushed past him and rushed into the Hub proper. He clambered over the upturned workstation and flung an office chair out of the way. Jack joined him and saw Toshiko lying on the floor. Owen was checking her vital signs.
“Is she..?” Jack asked with fear in his voice. His beautiful little Toshiko. She looked so frail. Blood was marring her features. She had a large gash on her temple right up by the hairline.
“Unconscious. Took a knock on the head. She’ll need a few stitches and needs to be watched to rule out a concussion, but other than that she’s fine.” Owen said. He hid his concern behind an air of professionalism. He was a doctor, and this was his patient. The fact that the patient was becoming rather dear to him was something he could not recognise right now. Jack put his hand on Owen’s shoulder for a moment. Just long enough for them to make eye contact. Jack nodded at the unspoken sympathy between them. Jack carefully picked Toshiko up bridal style, while Owen cleared a passage to the autopsy bay.
While Owen was busy with Toshiko in the autopsy bay Jack went around the Hub, surveying the damage. It wasn’t too bad. The only things broken were the computer screens on the upturned workstation and some coffee mugs. The rest was just a mess that could be tidied. ‘Glad Ianto’s not here. Don’t know how much more the man can take for one day.’ Jack thought to himself, as he grabbed some of the papers as a token clean-up. They had left Ianto, Orion and Gwen back at the recycling centre with the alien Kali-ra. Jack started chuckling as he thought of the events of the day. It was amazing how things could turn out sometimes. He laughed outright when he remembered the little Orion talking to the giant Kali-ra and Orion telling Ianto three babies as if that was the most important thing at that time. ‘Kids, they say the darndest things’. He laughed again.
Then he heard a familiar screech up above.
“Human!” Myfanwy was furious as well as beside herself with worry. She dove into an almost vertical dive aiming straight for her human. He was responsible, she knew it. He had tried climbing up into the nest to take the youngling and now the youngling was gone. He’s taken it.’
“The youngling. Where have you taken it?” she screeched furiously. Jack threw him self down on the ground as she swerved up again, narrowly missing the floor - and Jack. She flew upwards a little before braking and let her body fall down in a controlled, but hard landing. She glared fiercely at him.
“Where is the youngling?” she hissed menacingly. Jack’s eyes were wide as he looked at her. He had never seen her look this pissed. He scrambled back putting more distance between them until his back struck the legs of Gwen’s workstation. Myfanwy moved in closer. Her body language was oozing predatory anger. Soon they were face to face, Myfanwy growling at him. Jack swallowed hard. Death by pteradon didn’t seem very appealing.
Suddenly a shot sounded. Its echo reverberating around the Hub, making it last longer. Myfanwy spun her head furiously in the direction of the autopsy bay. Jack didn’t dare take his eyes of her, but out of the corner of his eye he could see Owen with his gun still pointed in the air. Toshiko – who was now awake - was lying on the table propped up on one elbow and craning her neck to see the goings on. Myfanwy hissed angrily and moved toward Owen.
“Myfanwy stop!” Owen told her in his most firm, commanding voice. She kept coming. His eyes widened.
“Stop, Myfanwy! Stop, you overgrown prehistoric chicken. Stop damn it!” he yelled at her, his panic increasing with each step she took. His gun was now pointed at her, but he really didn’t want to shoot her. Toshiko screamed. Jack was yelling by now as well, trying to distract the animal.
Suddenly Ianto was screaming frantically in his ear as well over the comms. Before he had a chance to make sense of any of it a very familiar figure appeared to the side. Orion!
“Myfanwy! No!” Orion yelled at her, with his high pitched child’s voice. Myfanwy responded instantly. She halted, spun around and a look of utter relief and joy appeared on her face – her entire body radiated her pleasure at seeing the child again. That didn’t last though, as Orion continued to yell at her. “Myfanwy bad! Very bad!” he frowned at her. She cocked her head. Her youngling was upset. ‘Why?’ she didn’t understand. He flung out his arm encompassing the Hub.
“Look what you did! You made a big mess.” He pointed at Toshiko. “And you hurt Tos-iko! Bad Myfanwy!” She looked around. She had really trashed the place and one of her humans had been hurt. The humans all smelled of fear and the youngling smelled really angry. She hung her head in shame. She had overreacted and behaved really badly, she realised that now. She whimpered. The youngling – her youngling - was mad at her and now her humans would be too and she would not be fed any more of the sweet, brown stuff or…” she started keening in sadness. Orion looked at her. Taking pity on her he walked over to her, still a bit unsteadily and put his arms around as much of her as he could reach.
“Don’t cry. Me right here.” Myfanwy gently rubbed her beak against his back. “We clean up. Tad not see.”
‘He’s right,’ Jack thought ‘if Ianto sees this mess he’s gonna go ballistic. Myfanwy will be punished for months for this.’ He got up, keeping a wary eye on the dinosaur. She looked carefully at him and hung her head in shame again. Almost like a puppy that had been caught at mischief and were awaiting the rolled up newspaper.
“If only I had a newspaper big enough.” He mumbled as he glared at her. She hung her head even lower and keened again. Orion looked over his shoulder at his Daddy and softly stroked down Myfanwy’s side with one hand.
“Are you guys okay?” Jack called toward the autopsy bay. He heard their affirmatives and nodded to himself. Still observing his son and their cumbersome pet pteradon – making said pteradon squirm under his gaze – he touched his comm. Ianto answered immediately and Jack soon found himself quite busy calming his young man down.
A few days later they waved goodbye to Kali-ra, after having helped her repair her ship. She had turned out to be quite remarkably good company, once they got Toshiko’s translating computer up and talking. Speaking through Orion had become rather bothersome, as he a) didn’t know all the words, b) wasn’t mature enough for some of the topics discussed and c) he needed to be put down for naps regularly or he would simply fall asleep mid sentence.
Myfanwy was keeping a low profile and staying well out of everybody’s way. Only Orion went up to see her. Toshiko had set up a monitor dedicated to the CCTV of her nest that was never switched off. It became common practice to always check the nest before panicking over the young child’s whereabouts. Even though the nest was becoming a bit filthy Ianto refused to go up to clean it. He still hadn’t forgiven her for all the trouble she had caused.
Rhiannon Davies was strolling through the park pushing the blue stroller in front of her. ‘It was a nice day for it’ she thought as she watched the children run off down the path toward the playground. It was the middle of December. All the shop windows were crammed with Father Christmas’s and glittering decorations. ‘It’s enough to put one off Christmas for good, it is.’ She smiled ‘cept when you have kids.’ It never seized to amaze her how much joy her kids took in the holiday. ‘It’ll be fun to see how young Orion takes to it’ she looked at the kids chasing after each other. David the oldest would be too old to want to go to the park in a few short years. He was running in front of Mica, just keeping out of her reach. Mica was laughing joyfully at the thrill of the chase. She made a grab for her brother, but he got away. Instead she turned at the younger Orion, who swerved quickly and only just managed to escape. They laughed.
‘Six years old and she’s already chasing after the boys’ Rhiannon laughed at her joke. She could just hear Jacks voice saying something like that. She smiled. Her brother sure knew how to keep surprising her. First by announcing he was dating a bloke, second by springing Torchwood on them – granted the circumstances where awful, that whole alien invasion thing - and then he had a kid! She had only just reconciled her self to the fact that he would never have kids – at least none of his own – and then he comes and tells her that not only does he have a kid of his own, but it’s Jack’s too! And it’s part alien as well. She’d actually fainted at that part. She had woken up to hear Johnny yelling at Ianto and Jack for it.
She smiled fondly. It hadn’t been too fun at the time but now she could appreciate the humour of the situation. Too bad she couldn’t share it with the girls. But then again most of the stuff they talked about was sex, childrearing, dead beat husbands and the lives of the rich and famous. To think she had once been as featherbrained as them. She snorted and shook her head at her self. She might still have been if it hadn’t been for Jack and Ianto.
Johnny had lost his job a while back and the job he found instead didn’t pay as much and with her staying at home with the kids… well, money had been tight. She and Johnny had fought a lot. She’d talked about it with Ianto when he confronted her about it. Next day he and Jack came over and Jack offered her a job tending to the tourist office part time while the kids were at school. The pay was good too. The only condition was that she never asked questions regarding Torchwood business and she wasn’t allowed down in their base. She had no problem with that. The less she knew the better, in her mind. It also meant she got to see a lot more of her brother. They had become closer as a result.
It had been her idea to babysit Orion during the day, after all there weren’t all that much to do in the tourist office. She had seen how busy they had been and how they often rushed in and out of the door. Sometimes one or more of them would be injured. Most often Jack, she had noticed. That man seemed awfully accident prone, as he often came in with blood on his coat. Though she had yet to see any injuries on him ‘hmm’
“Mummy, look at me, mummy!” her daughter yelled. The girl was bundled up in warm winter clothes from foot to toe only her pretty little face was showing. She was at the top of the slide waving energetically.
“I see you!” Rhiannon yelled back with a smile. Mica pushed off and slid down with a laugh. Orion was next. He looked like a 2½ year old now, but in reality she knew he was much younger – at least in term of time having passed since his birth. Ianto and Jack were having serious trouble keeping up with the rapid changes. Ianto had been out buying new, larger clothes every week until Rhiannon told him to come and collect all of David’s old clothes instead. That way he didn’t have to shop again until Orion surpassed David in size… which would probably be sometime in the spring.
She looked at the kids. David was on the swing, laughingly competing with another boy to see which of them could swing the highest. Mica was now chatting in the sandbox with a girl in a pink snowsuit holding a doll. Orion was no where to be seen. She looked around for him. When she still didn’t see him she walked over to Mica and asked if the girl had seen him. She hadn’t. Rhiannon could feel the first flickers of nervousness now, but she had been warned of the child’s tendency to teleport. She pulled out her phone and called the Hub. Jack had warned her not to call them directly in case they were on a mission. They had set up a line to the Hub with standing orders for the person remaining there to pick up the call.
“Toshiko speaking.” The soft voice of the petite Asian woman sounded over the connection.
“Hey Toshiko, its Rhiannon,” she suspected that the woman already knew that, but it was an old habit to brake, when one had grown up without caller id. “I’m in the park with the kids and I can’t see Orion anywhere.” Before she could continue, she could hear the clicking of computer keys being pressed and the woman muttered:
“That kid needs to be permanently equipped with a tracking device… “More loudly she said “He’s not in the nest (Ianto had explained to her about Myfanwy acting like a pseudo mum/pet)… and he’s not around the Hub, at least not that I can see. Hang on, I’ll ask the others.” The line was put on hold and a calming piece of classical music sounded. Rhiannon tapped her foot impatiently and looked around the playground. Still no change.
The music stopped after a while and Toshiko’s gentle voice came back.
“He’s not here. He’s not with Jack or Ianto either. I couldn’t get a hold of Gwen. It’s her day off. Besides I don’t think Orion would seek her out.” Rhiannon didn’t miss the slight emphasis on the word her. The bad feelings had become evident the very first time she’d seen Gwen walk through the door. She’d scowled at the boy – and he’d stuck out his tongue at her. In fact, Rhiannon didn’t like her all that much either. She was a stuck up, condescending bitch and Rhiannon had not missed the looks she sent after Jack either. Ianto was right to be suspicious of the bitch. She breathed in and out calming her self down. Getting angry at the infuriating woman now wouldn’t help anything and it wouldn’t do for her to take it out on Toshiko neither. She sighed.
“No, I don’t think so either. But where could he be?” she sighed again. “Guess I had better go around and look for him. I’ll let you know when I find him.” ‘If he’s still in the park.’ She added silently.
“Do that – and let us know if you need any help.”
“I will.” She hung up and looked around. Mica was the closest so she went to gather her first. The children protested when she pulled them away from their fun.
“But mum, he’s always disappearing.” David whined at her. “He’s probably back home now or something.” She scolded him mildly. The kid was right. Orion did have a habit of disappearing, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t be taken away against his will or he could get hurt somewhere. He didn’t have the same experience that her own kids had. In fact he always seemed surprised when told he could have gotten hurt. Like he didn’t believe them or didn’t think it mattered. ‘Just like Jack’ she dragged her son along after her while pushing the empty stroller in front of her. Mica was holding on to the side of it. The girl was not happy about being pulled away from her game, but she knew her mother wouldn’t let her stay by herself so she trotted along like a good girl.
“I know, why don’t we make it a game?” Rhiannon said to her son. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. “Me and Mica, against you. See which of us can find Orion first.” David looked up at her intrigued.
“All right.” He accepted. She knew her son could never back down from a challenge. He was like Johnny that way. She hoped he wouldn’t get into as many fights as his dad when he got older.
“Hey that’s not fair. I wanna go look by myself too.” Mica piped up.
“No, I need your help. I can’t look the same places you kids can.” She told her and faked at being an old granny trying to grab her. Mica squirmed away laughing.
“I’ll go look over that way, mum.” David pointed off to one side of the path overlooking a large lawn and crops of trees and bushes.
“Okay, but stay so I can see or hear you. I don’t want you getting lost as well.” He rolled his eyes at her and she was instantly reminded of both Ianto and Orion. She couldn’t decide whether it was a movement that ran in the family or that the kids were just copying Ianto.
“Okay mum.” And he took off. Rhiannon looked after him sighing “They grow up so fast.” She felt a tug on her sleeve and looked down at her daughter.
“Come on mum, we have to find Orion before David wins.”
They searched for a while. She could hear David calling out Orion’s name at intervals. It calmed her to know that he was safe and actually looking for his cousin.
“Orion?” she heard Mica ask. She turned to see the little girl crouching down at the foot of a large tree apparently addressing a squirrel. Said animal squeaked and ran up a neighbouring tree.
“What are you doing?” she asked. The little girl looked up at her. Her purple snowsuit bulking up her otherwise slight form.
“Orion can become an animal.” She shrugged, as if that kind of thing was an everyday occurrence. But then again it was. At least when one was around Orion. He would often change into various different animals on demand when the kids were playing. In fact she just realised:
“He can’t change into an animal of a too different size. He always changes into an animal of a similar size. Remember the elephant?” Mica laughed gleefully. That had been fun. He had been the littlest elephant she had ever seen and the elephants they had at the zoo were huge. Even the baby ones.
Suddenly they heard a dog barking. Joined swiftly by David’s laughter.
“Stop it, Orion.” She heard him squeal. She and Mica looked at each other.
“Oh man.” Mica kicked a pebble in chagrin.
When they went to join them, they were met by a strange sight. David was rolling around on the grass with a small dog jumping all over him, playfully trying to lick his face. The dog looked like a golden retriever puppy.
“Orion?” she asked. The puppy looked at her and then bounded over to her. It jumped up at her leg, getting its wet paws on her clean pants and then bounded on to give Mica a similar treatment it had given her brother. She let the antics continue for a few moments then told him to change back into his human form again.
He looked up at her with shining eyes and Jack’s trademark smile. She felt her resolve diminish. But then she scolded her self, the child needs to be told off.
“Don’t you ever do something like this again! Do you know how long we’ve been looking for you?” his eyes became huge and his smile disappeared. “What have I told you about running off?” she shouted “And changing form in public” she hissed more quietly so no outsiders could hear. He gulped and looked a bit shameful, though not enough for her liking.
“You’ve told me not to.” He pouted and bowed his head, glancing up at her. He reminded her so much of Ianto when he had been a kid. The same look, the same stance.
“Yet you did it anyway.” She wasn’t letting him off the hook. It didn’t work for Ianto and it would not work for his son either.
“Yes,” he answered with a timid voice. Mica came over and held his hand. He glanced at her and sent her a little smile.
“Why?” she kept her voice stern. Orion gulped.
“Because of the mice.” ‘The what now?’ of all the things he could have said, she hadn’t expected something like that. It threw her off completely.
“The mice,” he said and looked up at her. A small smile creeping on to his face. “There were two of them and they were arguing about something and I wanted to know what it was.”
“What was it?” Mica asked curiously. Again astonishing her mother with the child’s ability to just accept the most ridiculous things from her cousin. Orion looked at her and grinned.
“They were looking for food and one of them had found a piece of sausage by the trashcan. They were arguing over it and being very rude about it too.” He winked at her. She giggled. They had been practicing bad words in secret when they thought Rhiannon couldn’t hear them.
They went back to the playground. It was deserted by now, so the children played amongst them selves while Rhiannon watched.
Orion and Mica were building a sandcastle in the sandbox, when David came over to them. He was looking down the path winding through the park.
“Isn’t that your dad?” he said to Orion. The two children turned and looked searchingly. Orion lit up and a bright smile appeared.
“It is!” he proclaimed.
“Why is he running?” Mica wondered. The man in question was pelting across a grass lawn cutting the corner of the path. In front of him a hooded figure was running at great speed, trying to get away.
“He’s chasing that man.” David told her, with an air of superiority. He was older than them; therefore he knew a lot more. Besides anybody who had eyes could see he was trying to catch the other man. He suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. His sister asked such obvious questions sometimes.
“It’s not a man. It’s a fish.” Orion told him, with an equal air of knowing-it-all. He even rolled his eyes.
“Don’t be ridiculous! Fish don’t look like people! And they don’t live out of the water!” David told him angrily. Mica was staring at the running figure with huge eyes. They looked about ready to pop out of her head.
“It is a fish! Look David! It is!” she started yelling and pointed excitedly towards the figure. It was running in their direction along the path and Jack was not far behind it. It’s face looked like a red tropical fish, but it’s body appeared human. It was a most odd sight.
It was pelting down the path straight towards Rhiannon, who stood in the middle of the path, looking at a text on her mobile. When she heard the rapid footsteps on the gravel she looked up. Her eyes widened as her brain registered the oddity of an alien in a park at broad daylight. Then instinct kicked in and she grabbed the stroller and swung it at the alien. It went down and knocked it’s head on the leg of a bench nearby. Jack came running up, his greatcoat flapping behind him. He gave her an impressed look and went to secure the alien with handcuffs. The kids came running over.
“Wow mum! That was amazing!” David yelled. Mica was nodding with emphasis, looking hugely impressed. Orion was beaming at his aunt and his dad.
“Yeah.” He turned. “Hi daddy.” He said. Jack looked at Orion and the kids with a look of concern. He wasn’t comfortable with having them around the alien. He still remembered the scolding Ianto had given him for bringing Orion on the weevil hunt, when he was a baby. But it couldn’t be helped. They were here and so was the alien. He would have to give Rhiannon some mild Retcon to give to Mica and David. He broke into his trademark smile.
“Hi kiddo, hi David, Mica.”
“Why were you chasing that… fish, Uncle Jack?” Mica asked him. He smiled at the title and looked down at the alien whose back he was straddling. It was beginning to struggle.
“Oh, it’s not supposed to be here, so I had to catch it to make it go home.” He said with a shrug. The alien snarled something angrily at him and the kids. “Hey, behave. There are kids present.” He told it. The alien spat out a word. Obviously a swear of some kind.
“Hey! That’s rude.” Orion said disgustedly.
“Maybe we should get out of here.” Jack looked pointedly at Rhiannon. Taking the hint she looked at the kids.
“Yes, that sounds like a good idea. It’s time we left anyway. I promised the kids a cup of hot chocolate at the café.” The kids all perked up at hearing that. It was a cold day and hot chocolate would warm them quite nicely.
“But mum, how is Orion going to be going? You’ve killed the stroller.” David asked reasonably. Said stroller was indeed all banged up and bent out of shape. One wheel was dangling loosely; it wouldn’t take much for it to fall off completely. She looked from Orion to the stroller and back. Sighing she said:
“Well, you’ll have to walk, Orion. You were getting too big for the stroller anyway.” They set off, waving to Jack as they left.
Needless to say, by the time they were halfway to the café, she ended up carrying the half sleeping Orion the rest of the way.
Hmm, I’m not entirely happy with cutting the part with Kali-ra, but I couldn’t get it to work. Sometimes you have to kill your darlings.