Ianto was excited and nervous at the same time; his and Jack’s baby daughter was four weeks old today and they were taking her out with them for the very first time. They weren’t going anywhere all that thrilling, just to the St David’s shopping centre, but going out with a baby was a big deal that required careful preparations.
The previous day the new baby seat had finally been fitted in the equally new family car, a bright blue SUV that Ianto had chosen a couple of weeks earlier to match Meriel’s eyes. It had only been after she was born that they’d realised Ianto’s Audi wasn’t going to be enough for the family. Jack would need a suitable vehicle in Cardiff for those times when Ianto had to drive to London; he could hardly cart the baby about in Torchwood’s official vehicle. Besides, the new SUV also had plenty of room in the back for Nosy to go with the family once Meriel was old enough for picnics and trips to the beach. It wouldn’t be fair to leave the Fluff out; it was already completely devoted to its new charge.
Nosy was at the Hub today, however, because they couldn’t take it shopping with them and it would get lonely if left by itself in the flat. Jack had taken Ianto’s car to drop the Fluff off, leaving Ianto to get everything they needed into the new SUV. Once he was ready he’d pick Jack up at the Plas.
Ianto went carefully through the checklist in his head, mentally ticking off every item. One new pram, folded and stowed in the car’s capacious boot along with the shopping bags. Check. The baby sling, in case the little one wanted to be carried instead. Check. Blanket. Check. Cuddly duck. Check. Changing bag, containing mat, nappies, wipes, nappy cream, baby powder, and a couple of changes of clothes in case of leaks. Check. Formula and burping cloth. Check. Pacifier. Check. Flask of coffee, plus assorted snacks to keep his and Jack’s energy levels up. Check. Night feeds meant the pair of them were all but living on caffeine. Ianto briefly wondered how parents with two or more children coped with leaving the house. One was complicated enough; there was so much to remember.
Finally sure he’d got everything they could possibly need, including his wallet and credit cards, phone, the keys to both the flat and the car, and his own coat, Ianto locked up and jumped in the car. “Off we go, baby girl! You’re about to see the big wide world for the first time! Prepare to be amazed” he told his daughter as he started the engine and pulled out of the warehouse, which Jack, in a stroke of sheer genius, had bought a few years ago to have converted into their new living quarters. Now more than ever Ianto was grateful for his husband’s foresight. The poky terraced house he’d lived in before would have been impossibly cramped for two six-foot tall men and a growing child, not to mention five metres of fluffy alien.
In between feeds, Meriel was a surprisingly laid back and passive baby who slept a lot. There wasn’t so much as a peep from the back seat, or the nifty monitor system Tosh had set up, as Ianto drove to collect his husband. After the mad run-around of preparations since getting up this morning, Ianto was feeling rather pleased with himself. He had every right to be; the first trip out was going quite smoothly, if he said so himself.
Jack was waiting right where Ianto had arranged to pick him up. It was a busy street so there was only time to pull over and let Jack quickly jump in.
“Any problems?” Jack asked as he buckled his seat beat and Ianto flicked the indicator on, looking in the wing mirror and waiting for a gap in the traffic.
“None whatsoever. Meriel’s been a little angel, sleeping right through while I got the car loaded, and…” Ianto trailed off, head jerking up to look in the rear-view mirror, his eyes widening in horror. “OH MY GOD! WE HAVE TO GO BACK!”
Jack laughed. “Are you telling me that the most organised man in all of Wales has forgotten something?” he asked, amused by Ianto’s panic-stricken expression.
“Not just something; the most important thing! Meriel’s still in her crib!”
“WHAT?” Jack twisted in his seat to stare into the back. The car seat was empty.
Tyres screeching, Ianto pulled away from the kerb, causing several motorists to lean on their horns. Ianto ignored them all, putting his foot down as much as he dared, cursing Cardiff’s one-way system as it forced him to go far out of his way in order to get back to their home. It never crossed either his or Jack’s mind that one of them on foot could have got back to the flat much faster.
Pulling into the ground floor garage area at last, both men leapt out, leaving the car doors open and the engine running, and raced up the stairs, bursting through their front door to find Meriel still fast asleep in her crib, looking like she didn’t have a care in the world. They stood staring down at her, getting their breath back and letting their pounding hearts calm down.
“Thank God she’s alright,” Ianto said at last, running a shaky hand through his hair.
“Yeah,” Jack agreed. “I thought you had a checklist to make sure you wouldn’t leave anything behind?”
Ianto glanced sheepishly at his husband. “I did, in my head; it just never occurred to me that I should include the baby on it. Jack, I’m so sorry…”
Jack wrapped his arm around his husband and kissed him on the forehead. “Don’t worry about it; she’s fine. At least you didn’t leave her at the shops like I did the first time I took Melissa out on my own. I was almost home before I realised, just dumped the shopping on the pavement and ran all the way back. No parent is perfect, especially right at the beginning; I know that much from prior experience.”
Ianto gave a sigh of relief. “Maybe you’re right, but I think I’m going to put signs up anyway,” he said. “Don’t Forget The Baby. Just to be sure this doesn’t happen again. I don’t think my heart can handle a repeat.”
“Whatever makes you feel better. So, shall we try again?” Jack asked.
“Yes.” Ianto nodded. “I mean, everything else is already in the car; it would be silly to just unload it all and not go anywhere.”
“That’s the spirit.” Jack lifted Meriel from her crib without waking her and turned towards the door. “Sure we’ve got everything this time?”
Ianto frowned in thought. “Pram, baby supplies, money, keys, phone, husband, baby… Yep, that’s everything.”
Together, the small family made their way out of the flat and back down to the car for Meriel’s all-important first trip out.