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Once Bitten

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1 November 2008


At least no one laughed too hard when Patrick came waddling into the Hub, with Jack and Owen as his escorts.  Although, he could tell it was a close thing, and the day was young.

Rhys wasn’t in yet, nor was Deborah, so all he had to deal with were Ianto’s and Toshiko’s reactions.  Ianto’s lips merely twitched once and then he was off down into the Archives to look for Owen’s gadget.  Toshiko snorted indelicately, turning back to her computer in order not to look in Patrick’s direction as Owen and Jack helped him lever himself onto the sofa to await whatever the hell procedure he would have to go through to get this alien egg out of him.

“Jack?” he asked as he was settled onto the sofa.


“Can you have Deborah go and pick up my grandfathers at the airport?”  That seemed to be the best alternative to him, being stuck on base until he was quite a bit less pregnant.

Jack pouted.  “I thought I might go and do it…”  He actually was disappointed that Patrick hadn’t asked him to do it.

For a split second, Patrick felt a bit guilty for it, but then he realised what a bad idea that would be.  “Deborah isn’t likely to pump them for information on my childhood, Harkness.  There’s no way I’m letting you anywhere near them without me being in the same room.”

The pout was replaced by a sly smirk.  “At least you’re not forbidding me to flirt with either of them.”

With that, his boss flounced toward his office, leaving Patrick open-mouthed and speechless.

Owen chortled.  “Never give him an inch, cause he’ll take the whole bloody mile.”

“You’d think I’d know that by now,” Patrick groaned.

The medic patted him on the shoulder awkwardly.  “You’ll learn, mate.”

Patrick slumped back, leaning his head against the back of the sofa.  “Why did Ianto have to go down to the Archives before making coffee?”

“There’s some in the kitchen,” Toshiko called out over her shoulder, confirming that the tech expert was indeed listening in.

“Bless the dragon,” Owen exclaimed.  He headed toward the kitchen.

“Please bring me some?” Patrick whined.  He was aware that he sounded like a little kid, but he’d had a hell of a morning already.

“Get it yourself, Delaware!” Owen sniped back.

“Caffeine is bad for the baby,” Toshiko teased.  She still wasn’t looking at him, but now her shoulders were shaking.

“It’s not a real baby,” he was duty bound to point out.  That appeared to be even funnier to Toshiko, judging from the choked noises she was making.

Patrick tried to get up off the sofa, but he’d managed to sink down so far he couldn’t get enough leverage to manoeuvre his belly forward.  He growled in frustration.  “I can’t get up!” he snapped.  “How do women do this for nine months?”  He felt nothing but sympathy toward the female gender for having to carry babies.  “My feet hurt, I’m pretty sure my ankles are swollen, and I have heartburn.  I’m also craving something and I’m afraid to even guess what that might be and don’t even get me started with having to piss every five minutes!”

“Hormones,” Owen said sagely, handing Patrick his mug which he took gratefully.  “You might not be a woman, but your body is still reacting like it’s pregnant with your own spawn.”  He seemed utterly fascinated and was looking at Patrick like he wanted to dissect him or something.  It creeped him out.  “Blood samples definitely, since you’re a man and your body shouldn’t be doing that.  Might be something to do with the egg implantation.”

“Autopsy first,” Jack called from the door of his office.  “And you didn’t think to bring me a cup?”

“Delaware’s got an excuse,” the medic snorted.  “You’re still able to see your feet.”

With that remark, Owen retreated to the autopsy bay. 

Patrick aimed his smug expression right at Jack, who rolled his eyes – it was nowhere as good a job that Ianto could pull off – then headed for the kitchen to get his own mug.  “Can I have some cookies please?” he called after Jack, hoping he sounded pitiful enough.

Jack didn’t answer, but a few minutes later he came back with a bag, tossing it at Patrick who caught it easily.  “They’re called biscuits in these parts,” his boss corrected.  “Think you’ll learn that someday?”

“Probably,” Patrick admitted.  He ripped open the package and stuffed one into his mouth.  Oh lovely…they’re the ones with the jam in them.  Jammie Dodgers, according to the wrapping.  They were his favourite.  “In about fifty years.”  Crumbs erupted from his mouth, and normally he would have been embarrassed by his disgusting eating habits but today he was just too hungry to care. 

That got him a laugh, which Patrick thought was well deserved.  It didn’t matter how long he lived in Wales; he knew there were just some things he’d probably never get used to.  He wasn’t like Jack, who’d had over a century to adapt to living in Cardiff.  Besides, a perverse part of him felt that his Americanisms kept the others on their toes, and he liked it that way.

Patrick had been sitting there just long enough to start thinking about ways to get his now bloated self off the couch and into the bathroom, when the cog door alarm went off and Rhys appeared, carrying two full bags of what could only have been groceries.  He stopped at the sight of Patrick, and his jaw dropped.  “Bloody Torchwood,” he exclaimed.  “Only here would I see a man looking like he was eight months gone.”

He made his way toward the sofa, where he deposited the two bags beside Patrick.  “You’re lucky Jack called me, mate,” he said.  “You’re also lucky I believed him when he asked me to bring a few things from the shops for you.  Although he didn’t say a damned thing about why you needed weird shit to eat…or how he even had a clue about that sort of thing…”

Patrick silently reminded himself to thank his boss for thinking about him.

Just the proximity of food made Patrick’s stomach rumble.  He took the opportunity to tear into the bags, which had Rhys laughing.  “Not all of it’s yours,” he said, “and should you even be having coffee?”

With a cry of triumph Patrick pulled a jar of dill pickles out, followed by crunchy peanut butter.  “It’s not a real baby,” he denied, wrenching off the lids of both jars, something in him demanding that they’d taste wonderful together.  He slipped one of the spears out from its brothers and dipped it into the peanut butter.

Rhys made a gagging noise as Patrick proceeded to chow down.

Who would have known that pickles and peanut butter went that well together?

“That is disgusting,” the Welshman groused as Patrick treated another pickle spear in the same manner.

“It’s really not,” Patrick argued, not caring what anyone thought.  This was what his body wanted, so by God he was going to provide it!

“Are you sure that’s not a real kid?”

Patrick nodded.  “Owen says it’s some kind of egg.  He’s going to take some blood to see what it’s doing to me, because he says I shouldn’t really be acting like a really pregnant woman at all.” But at that moment he as more interested in eating than finding out why he wanted to eat. 

He dug around a bit more, much to Rhys’ amusement, and discovered more cookies, a hunk of cheese, crackers, and a jar of Marmite.  He’d never had that before, but had a feeling he was going to enjoy it a lot. 

Rhys managed to get everything else – the coffee and some other things he’d picked up for the kitchen – into their own bag and he went into the kitchen to put it all away.  The best way to keep it out of Patrick’s grasping fingers, more like. Now that the food gates had been opened, Patrick was determined to fill them with everything he could get his hands on.

He had no real clue how long he sat there stuffing his face.  He did know when Deborah showed up; she took one look at him – and a sight he must have been, too, with crumbs all over the sweatshirt he’d managed to get on over his pregnancy gut and the worn sweatpants that he’d barely been able to pull up over his hips – and then handed him a spoon, which made getting the Marmite out of the jar that much easier. 

Marmite and cheese on crackers was like manna from Heaven.

After that, though, he began to notice just how Deborah was treating him.  The first thing that appeared after the spoon was a footstool, and he sighed when he finally got his swelling ankles elevated.  She then brought him an actual plate for his snacks, as well as a garbage bag where he could dump his trash without tossing it on the floor or hoarding it on the sofa, which would have led to a really pissed off dragon.  A folded blanket ended up next to him, as well as a couple of pillows.  Drinks suddenly appeared, anything from juice to a soda to some tea…but no coffee, which didn’t make any sense but Patrick took it in stride.

And, every time Deborah did something for him, he’d get this look from her as if he was completely and utterly breakable.

It was kinda nice having someone looking out for him.  It didn’t happen all that often, although that was all Patrick’s doing.  He was an independent man, damnit.  He could look after himself.

He tried to convince himself that the tears that blurred his vision were allergies.

Yeah…allergies.  Not at all pregnancy hormones.  Because men didn’t have pregnancy hormones.  No matter what they were carrying around in their abdomens.

At some point, food lost its fascination and naptime came around.  Patrick was exhausted; after last night’s chase after whatever the hell it was that had bit him and implanted its alien spawn in him it had been nearly three in the morning before he’d managed to make it to his own flat and to face plant into his bed.  Then of course he’d gotten up way too early to discover he’d somehow swallowed a basketball in the middle of the night without knowing it.  He had every right to be tired.

The next thing he remembered was someone’s phone ringing nearby.

Even without witnessing it he just knew it had been Deborah who’d covered him with the blanket.  Patrick was going to do something really nice for her once he could be seen out in pubic again.


Well, that answered the question of whose phone had woken him up out of a very sound sleep.

Patrick decided to keep his eyes shut and to snuggle back down on the couch.  It was quite a comfortable sofa, he had to admit.  A lot better than the one in his flat, that was for sure.

Only he didn’t get to go back to sleep.

“Patrick,” Ianto’s voice close to his ear had him opening his eyes blearily.  The dragon was holding his phone out toward him, and Patrick took it without thinking.  “It’s your Uncle Phil.”

He brought the cell phone up to his ear, wondering just why his uncle was calling him.  “Hullo?” he said, sounding as if he’d just woken up.  Which he had.

“Patrick,” his uncle said, using his calmest Agent Coulson voice…which meant Uncle Phil was at his most dangerous and that heads were going to roll if he didn’t hear what he needed to.  “I’ve just received a most disturbing phone call from your Grandfather Canton.  Apparently you weren’t able to meet them at the airport?”

Oh, shit.  Granddad Canton must have called after Deborah had picked him and Grandpa Pat up at the airport.  Of course that couldn’t have gone smoothly. 

He knew he couldn’t tell his Uncle Phil everything.  Yes, he had an impressive security clearance but not quite enough to get the details...and like hell was he going to admit that he was pregnant with an alien egg, it was just too embarrassing.  Still, he had to say something that would ease the tension that he knew had to be filling his uncle…and of course, his grandfathers.

He really did love it that his family worried about him. 

“Look,” he began, “there was a callout last night that got out of hand.”  There was a silence on the line that Patrick wanted to fill with anything to keep his uncle from fearing the worst.  “I’m okay, but I was injured.  Our doctor just wants to keep me under observation to make sure there wasn’t anything…hinky going on.”

There was some more silence, and the Uncle Phil said, “I know I’m only getting a part of the story…”

Well, there was a reason why Uncle Phil was Number Three at SHIELD, and it wasn’t because of his charming personality and sense of humour.  Although, knowing how Nick Fury understood his uncle’s deadpan delivery when most of the time it flew over the heads of others…it was because he could figure things out without anyone having to actually say anything. 

“However I do understand why.  You couldn’t have at least called Canton and Pat and let them know you were alright?”

Shit again.  “I…left my phone at my place this morning when I had to call Owen and get him to check on me.  I…just didn’t think about it.”  Guilt flooded him.  He really should have thought to call.  One of the team would have been more than happy to let them borrow their phone.  It was a lame excuse and he knew Uncle Phil was seeing right through it and assuming the worst once more.  “Plus I’ve actually been sleeping a lot.”  He said that last bit quicker, as if to make up for the awful excuse of not getting in touch.  It didn’t matter that it was the truth; it really did sound just like something he’d made up on the fly.

“Call them, Patrick.  Let them hear your voice so they don’t think you’re dead and Harkness is just covering it up.”

“I will,” he promised.  “As soon as I get off the phone with you, I’ll call.”

“Alright.” Uncle Phil’s voice was still that same bland that he was so good at, but Patrick could hear the relief underlying the words.  “Now, I need to get back to work. I have a couple of unruly specialists to corral.”

Patrick snorted.  “Say hello to Clint and Natasha for me.”  He only really worked with two people as a handler, and Strike Team Delta was the best of the best.

There was a small sigh that he barely heard over the line.  “I will.  At least I won’t have to send them over to Cardiff to locate you now.  Director Fury hates me misusing SHIELD assets for personal reasons.”

And he would, too, and Patrick knew Fury well enough to know he would have let Uncle Phil do it despite the regulations.

Patrick said his goodbyes and disconnected.  Ianto was waiting there patiently for the return of his phone, one eyebrow cocked upward.  It really was a toss-up between his boss and his uncle on who could speak the most with just that one little facial expression.

“You forgot to call your grandparents?” There was a faint tone of dismay in the dragon’s question.

“Well,” Patrick said, “it’s not every day that a person wakes up to find out he’s pregnant and there weren’t even any fun times had to get there.”

The unspoken, you may have a valid point, was evident in Ianto’s shrug.  “You’d better call them, then,” he prompted. 

Patrick was just about to do just that when Owen’s bellow of, “Harkness!” rattled about the Hub. 

“That sounds a bit ominous,” the dragon mused.

Patrick couldn’t disagree. 

He held his hand out, asking silently for help, which Ianto obliged, levering him off the sofa.  It took Patrick a few seconds to get his balance because of the change in his centre of gravity, but that was enough time for Jack to appear from his office and hurry toward the autopsy bay.   

The rest of the team followed, because Owen being that shouty without the usual snarkiness really wasn’t a good thing.  They gathered at the rail in order to look down onto the medic’s domain.  The first thing Patrick did notice was the hulking machine that now took up a large part of the room, gleaming almost balefully under the bright lights.  It must have been the microtron, and Patrick had to wonder just how Ianto had managed to get it up from the Archives without waking him up.  Or even how he’d done it on his own, for that matter.

Owen was standing over the corpse of the alien that had bitten Patrick earlier that morning, the body open with the guts spilled out all over various tables and containers.  Not normally someone easily grossed out, Patrick suddenly felt his snack wanting to make a reappearance.  He swallowed convulsively, not wanting to make a fool out of himself by vomiting over the railing and into the bay below.

The medic was holding up something that was black and disgusting, and his face was even more sour than usual.  “We have a problem,” he said, hefting up whatever the hell that was in his hand.

It was by sheer will power alone that prevented Patrick from puking at the sight.  He felt somewhat better when he noticed that Ianto and Rhys looked equally sick.  It was a good thing Deborah wasn’t around at the moment, because Patrick just knew she’d be in the same boat as the three of them were.  Not surprisingly, both Jack and Toshiko seemed just fine.

“What is it?” Jack demanded.

Owen lifted it a little, as if wanting to give Jack a better view.  At that point Patrick just couldn’t look any longer.  “A Proteus gland.  The shape-shifting organ of a Nostrovite.”

“What the hell is a Nostrovite?” Rhys blurted.

Patrick was glad he’d asked, because he didn’t think he could open his mouth at the moment.  Of course Patrick had noticed the alien’s ability to change its shape, but he really wanted to know what made this alien just that horrible…besides the whole ‘injecting its egg into him’ thing.

“Trouble,” Jack answered darkly as Owen dropped the thing into a metal pan with an audible squish.  “Big trouble.”

No, that didn’t sound bad at all.