Owen ran the sensor of his scanner over Jack’s stomach, then paused.
“There.” He pointed at the screen. “Listen, can you hear it?” The throbbing sound that filled their ears was loud enough that the whole team could probably hear it; so much for keeping this under wraps. “A good, strong heartbeat. Ianto was right; you’re up the duff again.”
Jack stared at the screen, his mind whirling, wonder warring against shock as he watched the tiny spark of life pulsing steadily. “How did this happen?” It was almost a wail.
That drew a snort of disbelief from the medic. “If you haven’t figured that out by now, you never will! You’ve already got three kids, and the way you two go at it like bunnies, I’m only surprised you haven’t got yourself knocked up more often.”
“But that’s the point!” Jack exclaimed. “We decided when the twins were born that three was plenty; they’re such a handful, and they’ve only just started school. We were looking forward to getting a bit of a breather, having time for ourselves. We’ve been so careful!”
“Yeah, well, no form of contraception is a hundred percent foolproof, and it’s not like either of you can get the snip. The whole immortal fast-healing thing means you’d be back as you were within a few days, probably less.”
Standing beside the examination table, Ianto hadn’t said a word, his face devoid of expression, and his eyes were locked on that tiny tell-tale heartbeat throbbing away on the monitor.
“Ianto?” Jack asked in a small voice. “Are you mad at me? Please, just say something, anything!” He tugged at his husband’s sleeve, and at last Ianto tore his gaze from the screen, turning to Jack. There were tears glistening in his eyes.
“We’re having a baby!” He broke into a smile as the news sunk in. “We’re going to be daddies again!”
“You’ve never stopped bein’ daddies since the first one,” Owen pointed out, but he wasn’t surprised to be ignored.
“You’re okay with this?” Jack asked tentatively.
“Of course I am, twpsyn! Okay, I know we meant to stop at three, and I know the twins keep us on our toes, but maybe school and the new baby will settle them down a bit.” Ianto caught the sceptical look in Jack’s eyes. “Yeah, I don’t believe that either, but we’ve got Meriel and the Fluffs to help us keep everyone in line. We can manage one more; it’s not as if we don’t have enough room.”
“But we’ve only just got to the point where we can both be at work while the kids are at school! When the baby arrives, we’ll be right back to one of us staying home while the other goes to work!”
“Or bringing the baby to work like we did with the twins. We’re never short of childminders around here. Now relax and stop worrying. It’s not good for the baby.” Ianto rested his hand on Jack’s flat stomach. It was too soon for there to be even a trace of a baby bump, but that didn’t matter. The new little life was there even if it couldn’t be seen or felt yet.
Jack groaned. “I’m going to end up looking like a whale again!”
“Don’t be daft, you’ll look gorgeous, just like you did the last couple of times.” Ianto closed his eyes, smiling, imagining he could almost feel the beat of their baby’s heart through the palm of his hand. “Four is a nice even number.”
“Mm. Maybe it’ll be another boy; then we’ll have two of each.”
“Or another girl, perhaps less of a tomboy than Jenna. A girl we can dress in the cute little dresses we bought for Meriel when she was a baby. Either way, this baby will be just as loved and cherished as the other three.”
Jack placed his hand over Ianto’s. “That’s true. As long as our baby is healthy and happy, nothing else matters.”
“Owen…” Ianto turned to Torchwood’s medic.
“Oi, don’t look at me!” Owen said, taking a hasty step back. He gestured at his medical equipment, a lot of which was either of alien origin or from the future. “Even with all this stuff, I can’t determine gender this early!”
“That’s not what I was going to ask; I just wanted to know how far along you think Jack is.”
“Oh, right. Well, judging by development I’d estimate six or seven weeks, no more than that.”
“That gives us plenty of time to get the nursery ready and tell everyone who needs to know.”
“The nursery!” Jack’s eyes went wide with horror. “We need to get started on that right away, we’ve been shoving everything in there! It needs re-painting, and a new carpet, and…”
“Calm down, Jack,” Ianto soothed. “It’s not that bad. Most of what’s in there is stuff the kids have outgrown. We can sort through it, decide what we want to keep for our new baby, and donate the rest. Come on, get dressed; we should probably tell Nosy first, so it can decide when to start budding a Flufflet. It left things a bit late with the twins.”
Jack nodded. “You’re right.” He hesitated. “But first… Owen? Could we have another look, please? I was too shocked to really take it in before.”
Sighing, Owen reached out with the sensor again, running it over Jack’s stomach until he located the tiny, rapid flicker of movement, the heartbeat of a developing life.
“Our baby…” Jack felt the first stirring of excitement.
“Yeah,” Ianto breathed beside him. “Amazing!”
In approximately seven and a half months, there’d be a new little bundle of joy to care for, sleepless nights and stinky nappies included as standard.
Jack squeezed Ianto’s hand. “I need to start knitting.”
“Of course you do,” Ianto agreed, grinning at his husband. “You probably got pregnant just so you’d have a good excuse to get your knitting needles out again. We’ll pick up some wool on the way home.”
This baby was unplanned and unexpected, just like Meriel and the twins had been, but despite that, it was as loved and wanted as its older sisters and brother.
“This is absolutely the last one though,” Jack said firmly. “At least until this lot have all grown up and left home.”
Ianto laughed. “Where have I heard that before?