Nightmare

Part Two – A Middle

Placing the last period with a satisfying 'dot' of his fountain pen, Ianto slipped the completed report into the folder and added that to the rest of the files waiting to be put away. He then capped his pen, tidied away the odds and ends on his desk and turned off the lamp. Even as he rolled his chair back, his mind had already moved on to what needed doing before he could start cooking dinner. Jack was finally coming home after almost a week away and Ianto wanted it all to be perfect.

Everything was ready at home; he'd set the table before he'd left for work, he had the wine chilling, and the music was ready to play. All he had to do was stop by the bakery on his way home for a loaf of hot, fresh bread, and once he'd finished preparing his speciality, he would have Jack eating out the palm of his hand, again.

Ianto stood up – well, actually, he tried to stand and then he plopped heavily down into his seat again. 'What the…?' Ianto frowned. 'Has Owen played a prank on me?' he wondered as he looked down. 'If you've glued me to my seat, Owen…!'

"Good grief! When did I get so fat!" he yelped aloud as he saw his extremely expansive waistline.

With a jolt, everything came pouring into his mind. 'I'm not fat,' he realised, "I'm pregnant!" As if to confirm his words, Ianto felt a series of kicks and twists inside his body and his hands flew to his belly.

"It's all right, baban, Tad's here," he soothed his restless baby. "Just a few more days and you'll be out of there!" His hands stroked his swollen middle in small comforting circles. "Your Daddy and I can't wait to meet you."

Speaking of Daddy, Ianto knew he needed to get moving or dinner would be late, so he gathered himself together and with one push, heaved his overly-large body up and to his feet. Waiting a moment to make sure he wasn't going to be dizzy, Ianto quickly grabbed his bag and started for the door. Past experience told him that it would take a good five minutes to get from his desk in the Archives out to the car park, and that didn't include the obligatory bathroom stop on the way out. One humiliating experience of being forced to pee into an empty water bottle had taught him to never, ever pass up the chance to use proper indoor plumbing again.

Finally, thirteen minutes after standing up, Ianto arrived in the Torchwood car park. As he approached his beloved Audi, he noticed that something didn't look quite right. It seemed to be sitting at an odd angle. Sure enough, as he rounded his car, he saw that the driver's side front tire was flat.

Setting his bag down, Ianto gazed at the tire, trying to figure out how on Earth he was going to change the puncture in his condition; he could barely tie his shoes! Just as he had decided to give up and call a taxi, Gwen drove into the car park. Seeing Ianto standing at the back of his car, staring forlornly into the boot, she stopped and rolled down her window.

"Are you all right, Ianto?" she asked sweetly. "Do you need some help?"

Ianto shook his head sadly. "My car has a puncture and there's no way I'll ever be able to change the tire like this." He shut the boot none-too-gently. "Jack's coming back from that UNIT conference in Cornwall tonight and I need to get home."

"Why don't I give you a lift then?" Gwen offered.

"No, that's okay. You go home to Rhys." Ianto politely declined. "I'll get a taxi home and then call the towing company in the morning."

"Don't be silly, Ianto," Gwen said firmly as she turned off her engine, got out of her car, and picked up Ianto's bag. "It's rush hour and it'll take forever to get someone out here."

"But…"

"No buts about it…" Gwen paused and giggled. "Good thing Jack's not here!" she laughed. "I'd never hear the end of that slip-up!"

Ianto laughed with her. He could already hear Jack's innuendos in his head. A line like that was too good for anyone to pass up at the best of times, but for Jack it would have been impossible.

"Now come on. The sooner you get home the sooner you can get off your feet." Gwen left him no choice as she put his bag in her car and then stood by the passenger's door, waiting expectantly.

With a sigh, Ianto went around to the passenger's side and with Gwen's help, he lowered his bulk into the seat. "I usually have the steering wheel to help me," he grunted as he got comfortable. "You're going to have to help me back out, you know," he warned as he clicked his seatbelt shut.

"Oh, great! Now you tell me!" she laughed. "Maybe we should call the tow company after all, have them meet us at your flat!" Gwen shut the door and missed seeing the look of hurt that crossed Ianto's face. As it was, he hated having to let the rest of the team help him out around the Hub. He was always acutely aware of how his condition – his size – was a problem. 'I already have Owen making cracks about my weight!' Ianto mourned silently. 'I really don't need Gwen, too!'

As Gwen eased into traffic, she asked, "So, how are you feeling, Ianto?"

He grimaced. "OW!"

"What!" Gwen gave him a panicked look. "Is it the baby? What's wrong?"

"It's okay, Gwen!" Ianto hastened to reassure her. "Baby Harkness-Jones is just letting me know he or she is awake by planting a very pointed elbow in my bladder."

"Oh, all right, then," Gwen heaved a sigh of relief.

"That also answers your question of how am I, I suppose," Ianto reflected. "'OW' does indeed say it all."

"How so?"

"Well, starting at the bottom, my feet hurt, my ankles are swollen, my legs are tired, Jack's the only one who's seen my penis for the last few months…" he stopped speaking so he could turn a withering glare on Gwen. She was trying unsuccessfully to keep from laughing at Ianto's last complaint and he waited until she was finished giggling before continuing.

"I have constant indigestion, I have to pee a hundred times a day, I've put on weight and my nipples are sore!" Finished with his litany of ailments, Ianto crossed his arms over his belly and pouted.

Gwen smiled fondly at her team-mate. She knew he hadn't had an easy life over the past nine months, not after coming in contact with an alien who had decided that Ianto would make the perfect female to carry his offspring. He kidnapped Ianto and took him on board his cloaked spaceship which he'd hidden in a warehouse on the docks, no less. The alien had then used the technology of his medical bay to permanently alter Ianto's DNA and physiology.

In addition to his own normal male bits, the young Welshman would forever have the internal reproductive organs of a human female. The only thing other thing Ianto didn't received were female breasts, something Jack bemoaned on occasion but which Ianto celebrated joyously. According to Toshiko's research on the species, it was customary for the male of the alien's race to nurse the children; Ianto could only be thankful for small favours.

"On the other hand, Ianto," Gwen said, trying to make him feel better, "you are glowing."

Ianto pursed his lips. He didn't want to smile; he wanted to feel sorry for himself, but it was no use. His bloody hormones betrayed him. "Really?" he finally asked hopefully, a slight blush on his cheeks.

"Yes, really," Gwen confirmed.

"Well, thank you, Gwen," Ianto told her gratefully. "And thank you for the ride home."

"Oh, don't thank me yet; we're not going to your flat." Gwen drove past the turn into Ianto's quiet neighbourhood.

Ianto twisted in his seat, looking back down the street. "Gwen, you missed my turn."

"Yes, I know." Gwen's demeanour had changed. Gone was the happy, laughing woman that Ianto had known for three years and in her place was a cold, snarling stranger. "Now sit back and be quiet."

"Gwen, what's going on?" Ianto was beginning to be afraid, not for himself, but for his baby. As if sensing its tad's worry, the baby gently poked Ianto in the side.

"Last chance." Gwen's hands were white-knuckled on the steering wheel. "Shut up and enjoy the ride."

Ianto sat quietly for a few minutes, watching the passing streets and buildings, trying to figure out where they were going. As far as he could tell, they were in an old industrialised area of Cardiff, long abandoned and set for demolition within a few weeks.

"Gwen, please, talk to me," Ianto asked, trying very hard to keep his fear from coming through in his voice.

"I warned you…" Faster than Ianto could track, Gwen's arm swung out and he felt a sharp prick in his leg.

"What… Gwen, what did you…?" Ianto could feel himself growing woozy and he struggled to keep his eyes open.

Gwen grinned at him. "Oh, just relax and enjoy it, Ianto. You're always so uptight!" She turned into an alley between two of the old buildings and pulled up in front of a huge double door.

Getting out, she went to open the doors, leaving the keys in the car and the engine running. Desperately, Ianto reached for the keys; if he could get them, maybe throw them away, anything! But he discovered to his horror that he couldn't control his arm. As hard as he tried, he couldn't make himself move more than a few inches.

'Oh God, what has she done to me?' his mind cried. 'Please let my baby be okay!' Hot, frightened tears began falling. 'Jack, help me!'

Returning to the car, Gwen saw his tears and laughed at his distress. "Oh, come on, Ianto! Where's your sense of adventure? It'll all be over soon, I promise!" She drove inside the warehouse and got out of the car again to close the doors behind them. Once the daylight was cut off, the interior was pitch black, and then with an angry buzz, overhead fluorescent lights sprang on.

Ianto blinked his eyes at the sudden difference and studied what he could see of the building, which wasn't much at all; the car was parked facing a wall. Gwen startled him by suddenly appearing at his window and opening his door.

"Come on now, out you go." As she leaned in to unfasten his seatbelt, Ianto tried to head-butt her, but only succeeded in bumping into her gently. She just shook her head at him. "Nice try, though," she smirked.

Pulling a wheelchair closer to the car door, it took all of Gwen's strength to pull Ianto out of the car and into the chair. "Good God, you weigh a ton!" she exclaimed. Using her hands to fan herself, she leaned against her car to catch her breath. After a few minutes, Gwen pulled herself together and pushed Ianto off into the depths of the warehouse.

Ianto realised that they were actually heading towards an enclosed area in the back corner, probably an office of some sort, he thought. When they got to the door, Gwen turned them both around, bumped it open with her arse, then spun him to face front again and then shoved the chair forward, pushing him into the room. After closing the door, the room was again pitch black.

After a moment of sitting silently in the dark, wondering what was going to happen next, Ianto realised that Gwen wasn't in there with him. 'This may be my only chance,' he thought, trying desperately to make his legs move. 'Maybe, if I could just get out of this damned wheelchair, I can find another exit or a weapon or a phone or something! Why did I put my mobile in my bag?' He could feel himself beginning to panic and he forced his lungs to breathe, pulling air in through his nose, deep breaths, out through his mouth. Slowly, he could feel his panic subsiding.

In panic's wake, he became aware that his baby was kicking up a storm. Alarmed by its unusual level of activity, Ianto momentarily abandoned his attempts to stand up, concentrating instead on soothing his unborn child. With awkward fumbling fingers he slowly unbuttoned his shirt and then slipped it out of his trousers' waistband. It took forever; despite his intense focus, his fingers were clumsy and sloppy, but he was finally able to push it far enough out of his way, baring his belly to his worried gaze.

Wishing Gwen had turned on the lights before she'd left him behind, Ianto used his fingertips to trace the shape of his baby's body. He could feel the head; the baby was upside down, ready to be born… well, if he were a woman, that is. Owen had things all set up at the Hub to perform his C-section when his labour contractions began. Thankfully, the alien's alterations of his body had all been on the inside; there wouldn't be a wild and scary trip through the birth canal for his child.

With a joyous smile that belied the frightened tears on his face, Ianto felt little feet kicking him under his hands and he gently poked them back. "Don't you worry, my sweet baban. Tad's right here and I'll take good care of you. Don't be scared, okay?" he whispered softly. He and Jack had spent countless hours talking to their baby, and he could feel it respond to the sound of his voice and begin to settle down.

"That's it, Cariad; you sleep and let me worry about what's going on out here." Stroking his hands over his baby bump in an effort to sooth not only his child but also himself, Ianto crooned the lyrics of the only song that he could think of, an old Welsh lullaby that his own man used to sing to him.

Ianto wasn't sure how much time had passed between when Gwen left him in the pitch-black room and when she returned, flipping the switch and flooding the darkness with blinding light. At some point, while soothing his restless baby and trying to calm himself, he had managed to drift off into a light doze, something no doubt helped along by the drugs that Gwen had injected into his body earlier.

"Wake up, Ianto!" Her voice overly cheerful, Gwen grabbed the back of the wheelchair, startling him awake; she steered him deeper into the room. With a groan, Ianto forced himself to open his eyes, clenched tight against the unexpected glare. As the room came into focus, Ianto gasped aloud as its contents sprang into view. Before he could stop himself, a loud whimper escaped his lips and the sound make Gwen laugh gleefully.

"Oh, come on now, don't be like that, Ianto!" she said in a sunny, smiling voice. "It'll all be over soon, I promise."

"What are you going to do, Gwen?" An icy hand of fear clenched Ianto's gut when he saw that she had changed from her street clothes into a set of Owen's surgical scrubs.

"I'm going to fix things." Gwen bustled about, organising and arranging objects. "Put everything right; you'll see."

"Please take me home, Gwen," Ianto asked, heedless of the tears streaking down his cheeks. He struggled to wrap his shirt and jacket around his belly. "Please take me home to Jack." He knew he sounded pathetic, but he didn't care. He was too scared. Deep inside he knew something very bad was about to happen and there was nothing he could do to stop it. He couldn't keep his promise to his beloved unborn child to keep it safe.

Ignoring Ianto's pleas, she retrieved the chair and stopped it against the large table set up under a large overhead light. "Okay, up onto the table." Gwen slid both arms under Ianto's armpits and pulled him to his feet. Somehow, she managed to nudge the wheelchair out of the way as she used her body to turn them both around so that Ianto was backed up against the metal surgical table. Hoisting Ianto's weight with a loud and very unlady-like grunt, Gwen managed to manoeuvre Ianto so that his butt was high enough on the table that she could grab a leg and swing him around. With one mighty shove, Gwen pushed Ianto completely onto the bed and into a semi-prone position.

"Gwen, please…" Tears began to cascade down Ianto's cheeks in earnest as his captor undid his belt and yanked it free of the belt loops; he heard it clatter to the floor somewhere off to his left, followed by the twin clunks of his shoes hitting the floor. She then popped open the button and pulled down the zipper; in the silence of the room the sound was deafening.

As she shifted Ianto's body this way and that, tugging and yanking at his trousers, she suddenly giggled. "Never thought having Rhys coming home drunk from the pub and then passing out would ever come in handy!" With a final tug, she succeeded in pulling Ianto's trousers free and she tossed them across the room. For a moment, she stood, hands on her hips, catching her breath and looking critically at Ianto.

"Let's see here…" She tugged experimentally at the waistband of Ianto's boxers, testing the give in the elastic. "I think… if I…" Gwen pushed Ianto's pants down far enough that she could tuck them into his groin, leaving his genitals covered but his belly completely clear. Looking up, she grinned at him; "Leave you a little bit of modesty, yeah?" Leaning down, she kissed Ianto's belly several times. "Hey there, little one, this is your mam and pretty soon, we'll go home to your Tad and then we'll be one happy family forever."

She poked around Ianto's baby bump, feeling for the baby's position. Nodding in satisfaction, she walked away for a few seconds and then returned with a laptop on a rolling cart. She left a second time and returned with another cart, this one containing medical instruments and various other paraphernalia. Finally, a third trip away and back brought a baby bassinet to the side of Ianto's table.

Grim realisation flooded through Ianto as he finally accepted the horrifying reality of what Gwen Cooper, his friend and team-mate, was up to. "You're going to take my baby!" he gasped, trying frantically to get off the table. "Damn it! Why are you doing this, Gwen? Why?" He couldn't move his legs any more than a few twitches and his arms hung down off the sides of the table, flailing about. He couldn't stop the whimper of despair that escaped his lips.

"Just relax and lay back, Ianto." Gwen slipped on a pair of Owen's latex gloves with a snap. "Once we get going, it'll all be over with in just a few minutes," she grinned her gap-toothed smile at him.

"Why are you doing this, Gwen?" Ianto questioned her. 'Maybe if I can keep her talking long enough, Jack will come and rescue us,' he told himself.

"Why not?" she asked him. "Someone has to be a proper mother to Jack's baby. It's not like you're going to be around."

"You can't make me just disappear! Jack won't stop looking until he finds me!" His protest ended with a loud gasp as she began washing his belly with cold antiseptic liquid.

"Jack won't have any reason to look for you, pet," Gwen told him calmly. "As far as he'll ever know, you died in the line of duty." Finished washing Ianto, Gwen stepped over to the laptop and started typing.

Frantically, Ianto searched his mind, trying to figure out something, anything that would keep him alive until Jack could find him. Just as he knew for sure that Gwen was going to try and kill him, Ianto was just as certain that Jack would save him. That's how it worked. Nearly being eaten by cannibals in the Brecon Beacons? Jack to the rescue. Maxicorfin raiders kidnapping him and Owen? Jack to the rescue. It didn't matter who, what, when or where, Jack was always the knight in shining armour, riding in to save the day.

"Gwen, what are you going to do to me?" the captured father-to-be asked, trying to sound as calm as possible.

"Shhh!" she shushed him, waving her hand back at him while she scrutinised the computer screen. From his angle, Ianto couldn't see what she was studying so intently.

'Jack, please, hurry! You have to save our baby, please, Jack!' In his mind, Ianto was screaming his pleas loudly enough to be heard in London, even in the northern-most Highlands of Scotland.

Turning back to Ianto, Gwen clapped her gloved hands together. "Okay! I think we're ready here!" There was a look of maniacal excitement on her face that made Ianto's stomach turn rancid. "Now, let's get you numbed up, shall we?"

When Gwen picked up a syringe and approached him, Ianto couldn't stop his terrified whimpers from escaping, no matter how tightly he pursed his trembling lips.

"Should I make a joke about feeling a small prick?" she giggled, remembering when Owen had used the same line on her in the Brecon Beacons as the medic had prepared to treat her shotgun wound.

As the sharp point of the needle punctured his skin for the first time, Ianto tried to squirm away, but it was no use. Whatever paralytic Gwen had injected him with in the car wasn't wearing off quickly enough. All he had was limited use of his arms, but it wasn't enough to stop Gwen.

"What is that, Gwen? What have you been giving me? What if it's bad for my baby?" he asked in a fearful voice. "What did you give me in the car? What is this?" He tried futilely to move again and suddenly Gwen's silence was too much. "Damn it, Gwen! You can't just inject me with whatever you bloody well please!" Ianto snapped ferociously; his voice was sharp and angry and his blue-grey eyes were blazing with fire.

"Don't be daft, Ianto. Do you think I'm a complete twpsyn? I would never hurt my child!" Gwen gave Ianto two more jabs before she was satisfied. "There. Didn't hurt a bit, did it?" For the first time she stopped long enough to actually look Ianto in the eye. When she saw the tears coursing down his cheeks, she immediately reached out and tenderly brushed them away.

"Please don't hurt my baby, Gwen, please?" Ianto wept; his anger was gone and once again, fear for his child was all that he could feel. "I'm begging you!"

"Oh, don't cry, Ianto. Everything will be okay, I promise." She patted his shoulder. "This baby will have a wonderful home with two loving parents. You'll never have to worry about a thing, I promise."

"Oh, thank God, thank you, Gwen. For a min…"

Gwen continued on as if Ianto weren't speaking. "Jack and I will make sure that our baby never wants for anything."

Ianto's blood turned to ice in his veins. "Gwen, what do you mean by 'you and Jack'? I'm not giving you my child to raise and Jack certainly doesn't want you." Ianto tried to sound as decisive as he could. "Jack is with me, Gwen."

Gwen stared at Ianto and for a moment; there was a look of absolute hatred and malice in her eyes, but it was gone as quickly as it appeared. "Jack won't remember you, Ianto," Gwen told him bluntly. "Well, that's not quite true; he will remember you, but only as one of the more unfortunate Torchwood employees who died in the line of duty. It's truly a wonder what one can achieve with Retcon, you know?" She prodded Ianto's belly. "How's the numbness? Can you feel this?"

She poked him with a needle and watched his face, and when she saw him wince with pain, she said, "No problem; we can wait. After all, I don't want to be cruel and have you in pain while you're having my baby." She smiled fondly and brushed Ianto's hair back from his forehead.

"I'm not…" Ianto struggled to keep from screaming out his frustrations at her. "Gwen, you can't! I'm not in labour yet! My baby isn't ready to be born!"

"Doesn't matter, pet." Gwen poked Ianto's belly again. "I'll have it out so quickly it won't make a difference." She turned back to the computer. "Not a problem at all, trust me."

"What about Tosh and Owen?" Ianto was desperate to keep Gwen talking; he had to delay her until Jack could arrive.

Gwen huffed out a breath, clearly running out of patience with Ianto and his questions. She pulled in a deep breath, held it for a moment, and then slowly breathed out.

"Gwen, please, just tell me what's going on here, please?" Ianto begged. "Don't you understand…"

"Oh, for God's sake, Ianto! How does Jack put up with your constant yapping?" she snapped in utter frustration and then immediately turned back to Ianto and took his hand in hers, obvious remorse in her eyes.

"Listen, pet, if I tell you what's going on, what's going to happen, will that make you happy?" Gwen placed her free hand on Ianto's belly. "All this stress can't be good for the baby, right?" She waited for Ianto to respond. "Right?"

Reluctantly, Ianto did have to agree. Even though he couldn't feel Gwen's hand lying on his belly, inside his huge baby bump, his son or daughter was dancing a Highland jig. He could feel each tiny foot and fist as they pummelled his insides. "You're right, Gwen." He squeezed her hand as best he could. "I'm just so scared," he admitted. "And besides, you know I have to know everything!" he joked, albeit feebly.

"Yes, you do, don't you!" Gwen laughed. "Okay, I'll give the anaesthesia a few more minutes; I really don't want you to feel any pain. She stepped away for a moment and Ianto took the opportunity to struggle against the paralytic that made his arms and legs uncooperative. It was no use; he could twitch his leg muscles and he discovered that he could flop his arms around more than before, but he couldn't make them obey his commands. He could feel tears of frustration leaking from his closed eyes.

"It won't do you any good, pet," Gwen spoke as she returned to the side of the table Ianto lay on so helplessly. "It's an alien drug that fell through the Rift. It freezes your limbs so you can't fight or flee, but it leaves everything else working perfectly." She set a stool down next to him and sat on it, taking hold of his hand again.

Despite his dire circumstances, the Archivist in Ianto couldn't resist the need to acquire knowledge and he frowned. "I don't remember anything like that coming through."

"It was last summer, while you were in Glasgow helping Archie get his Archives sorted." Gwen nodded. "Remember?"

Ianto nodded; he remembered all too well the three weeks he was seconded to Torchwood Two and the eighteen-hour days he'd spent in the disgusting pit they used for storage. As usual, Archie had no clue what artefacts he actually had in his possession. Once again, it had fallen to Ianto, as Torchwood's only Archivist, to sort everything out before Archie's filing method of dumping everything into a cardboard carton and tossing it in the back of a closet destroyed the world.

"I don't recall archi…"

"I did it. Jack asked me to try and keep the artefacts handled for you, so they wouldn't pile up and be such a mess for you to deal with when you came back." Gwen grinned when she saw the storm clouds gathering in Ianto's eyes. "Oh now, Ianto, don't be like that. I was very careful and precise. I didn't leave a mess, not like Owen would have."

"It's not the mess I'm thinking of." Ianto could feel a distinctly pouty-sounding tone enter his voice when he said, "Working with the artefacts is the fun part of my job, Gwen. I enjoy studying them, ID-ing them, etc. It sort of makes up for the blinding monotony of filing," he confessed.

Gwen looked surprised. "But I thought you liked all the paperwork and the filing and that kind of… stuff!"

"I do, but let's face it, all the never-ending new reports, plus the backlog of historical documents, added to the endless re-filing of reports that get pulled for you lot, that's a lot of filing! I really look forward to working with the artefacts. It's like my reward, my playtime." Ianto was feeling positively petulant at Gwen's news.

"Oh pet," Gwen sighed. "I never thought of it that way. Now I feel guilty for leaving that massive pile of filing for you to do. Jack just thought you'd prefer it if we stayed out of your filing cabinets. In fact, he was the only one permitted to pull any files we needed."

Slightly mollified, Ianto smiled fondly. "That was thoughtful of him, I will admit."

"Okay, there! That's the Ianto-Jones-smile I love. You should smile more often." Gwen frowned sadly. "I'm actually going to miss it."

Ianto's smile vanished instantly and he could feel a wave of panic trying to overtake him once more. "Why are you going to miss my smile, Gwen? What are you going to do?" He could feel his blood pressure climbing even as he spoke.

"Relax, Ianto, remember the baby." Gwen stroked her hand through his hair, trying to calm him, trying not to grimace at its sweat and hair product stickiness. "Now, take a deep breath."

"Please, Gwen, whatever you're planning, it's not too late!" Ianto struggled to move. "You don't have to do this!"

"Yes, I do, pet," Gwen smiled sadly at him. "Actually, you're just the last step of the plan, cos I've already taken care of the others."

Tears filled Ianto's eyes. "What have you done, Gwen? Please tell me Jack's okay?"

"Well, of course he is! They're all just fine. I wouldn't hurt any of them!" She stared at him. "What kind of a monster do you think I am?"

"But you're going to hurt me! Why?" Ianto demanded, anger beginning to replace the panic. "What did I ever do to you?"

"It's not like I want to hurt you, Ianto. You're my friend and I wish there was another way, but there just isn't. I know how to cut the baby out, but not how to put you back together again." Gwen shrugged nonchalantly. "So, you see, it's out of my hands."

For a moment, Ianto was speechless. Then, "What do you mean cut my baby out? Are you out of your mind?" His voice was rising. "Why isn't Owen doing this?"

"Because Owen doesn't know you're pregnant, silly." Gwen answered, her laughter evident.

"Of course he knows!" Ianto yelled. "He's been my doctor for the last nine months!"

"I know, and he's taken very good care of both you and my baby, but now he's forgotten all about it."

"Forgotten? For… got… ten!" Ianto roared before a sudden cold truth slammed into Ianto's brain and his voice dropped to a whisper. "You Retconned Owen, didn't you?"

"Actually, I Retconned them all." Gwen spoke matter-of-factly. "Jack, Tosh, Owen and Rhys."

Ianto's heart sank like a stone. "Jack?" He finally realised that the reason Jack hadn't arrived to save him yet was because he wasn't going to come. There wasn't going to be any last minute rescue for Ianto Jones. Not this time. A feeling of utter despair and hopelessness came over Ianto.

He finally understood that he was going to die, lying on a gurney in an empty warehouse on some deserted industrial estate. He wasn't going down fighting, or heroically saving someone's life, or defending the world against aliens or the Rift. He wasn't going to die of old age many years down the road, lying in Jack's arms, the way he'd always hoped he would. No, Ianto Jones was going to die here, now and alone.

Gwen continued speaking; she didn't notice the change that had come over her prisoner. "It's a beautiful plan, if I do say so myself," she told him proudly. "It all started with Rhys, about a month ago now."

"Rhys?" Ianto's voice was flat.

"Yep! I gave him Retcon in his after-dinner coffee one evening. Then I told him that we had decided we just weren't going to work out and that in the morning, he was to pack all his things and move out. He said he'd be gone before I got home that night. All he'll remember is that we gave it a good try," Gwen beamed, "and now we're just friends."

"Friends…"

"As for Tosh and Owen, well, they'll both remember you, of course. You have been our Archivist, our Tea-Boy, our dog's-body for such a long time now; we're all very fond of you, Ianto, really we are, and we'll all miss you very much."

"You mean you'll miss my coffee," Ianto snarked bitterly.

"Yeah, that too." Gwen frowned. "Too bad you can't make me one last cup, for old times' sake, you know?"

"What about Jack? What have you done to Jack, Gwen?" Ianto was getting frantic wondering if Jack was safe.

"Oh, Jack will remember you, don't worry about that, Ianto," Gwen hurried to reassure him. "You'll always be that sweet, naïve Tea-Boy who had such a schoolboy crush on him. He and I used to laugh about the way you would follow him around like a love-sick little puppy dog." She grinned at the image she painted. "You were always trying to get him alone so you could seduce him. Tosh and I thought you were just so cute!"

"Jack's not going to remember that we love each other? That we're married? That we're having this baby together?" A sudden, sharp, stabbing pain in Ianto's heart made him positive that it was actually breaking. Jack had sworn he would always remember him, that he would never be just a blip in time.

"No, of course not!" Gwen squawked in an outraged tone. "First of all, he would never be interested in the likes of you, and second and more importantly," her voice grew hard and cold. "Jack knows I would never allow him to cheat on me."

"On you? What do you mean?"

"Oh for heaven's sake, Ianto, you know that Jack and I have been together since before he hired me. In fact, that's why he hired me, so we could run Torchwood together." Gwen smiled brightly. "Poor dear, he simply couldn't do it without me." Her voice was syrupy-sweet and sickly-affectionate. "He depends on me for so much."

Ianto's spirits bottomed out. Not only was he going to be forgotten, but he was being replaced by Gwen bloody Cooper! He felt so overcome with despair that he slumped back on the gurney, barely even breathing, his sense of loss was so great.

"What becomes of me in the end," he asked quietly; now that he knew he was going to die, he was morbidly curious as to how.

"Oh, that's the easy part. I'm thinking that I'll probably come back later and retrieve the body. I'll take you back to the Hub, to Owen for autopsy and examination, and he'll determine that you died of wounds from a Weevil attack. We'll pop you into the morgue with all the other dead Torchwood agents and then pack your flat into storage." She glanced at her watch.

"In fact, Jack's over there right now, packing up his clothes and everything else of his. By the time I get home, he'll be all unpacked in my flat, where he'll believe he's been living for years."

Ianto felt a spark of hope. "How do you know that being in my flat and seeing his clothes and things won't trigger his memory?"

"Good thinking, Ianto!" Gwen patted him on the head as if he were a smart dog. "You see, we had a terrible row and he moved out for a short time. You thought it was your one shot at him, so you played the friendship card and took him in as your roommate. Now I've realised that I really do want to marry him, and he's moving back home because he's understands that he just can't live without me!" She shook her head at him. "See, I've got all the bases covered, Ianto. I've been working on this plan for many months now."

"And my baby? How do you explain that?"

"Well, it's mine, of course, silly, mine and Jack's! That's why Jack was pressuring me to marry him, so that our child would have his name." She smiled proudly. "I'll be Mrs Jack Harkness pretty soon." She removed her latex glove and showed him her left hand. On her third finger was a shiny diamond ring. "Picked it out myself although Torchwood did pay for it, naturally; I certainly couldn't afford such a thing!" She laughed merrily and waved her ringed hand around with admiration.

"Why, Gwen?" Ianto finally managed to speak. "Why are you doing this?"

"For God's sake, Ianto, why do you think! I'm sick to death of Jack ignoring me. You're just the bloody Tea-Boy! Jack belongs with me. He loves me! Not you; you're just his sad, pitiful part-time shag! He was just consoling himself with you. I'm the one he loves. He just thinks he can't have me because of Rhys. Well, now Rhys is gone, you're gone, and Jack will finally be happy. He'll have me and our baby and we'll live happily ever after."

Ianto had nothing to say; Gwen was stealing his dream life from him and there was nothing he could do to stop her. He tried to move his arm, to punch her, push her, something, anything! But while his leg muscles twitched, they refused to move more than a little bit no matter how hard he tried. He got more movement from his arms, but not enough to do him any real good.

He gave up and started thinking about Jack, about how much he loved the man, and about how much Jack loved him. He thought about how perfect Jack felt in his arms, and the way he looked when he slept. Ianto thought about Jack's voice, and about his eyes, and about how big and bright his smile was the day they found out that Ianto was pregnant. Jack had said that it was one of the happiest days of his long life.

'My baby, oh God, my baby!' Tears began flooding down Ianto's face. 'I'll never get to hold my baby. Why didn't I let Owen tell us whether it was a boy or a girl.'

"Oh, stop crying, Ianto. It'll all be over in a minute." Gwen admonished as she poked him one last time with a needle. "Feel that? Or that?" She didn't wait for Ianto to respond. "Good!" She reached out and picked up a scalpel. "Let's get started then. I want to get the baby home to Jack."

Ianto could feel the scalpel cut into his flesh and even though there was no pain, he cried out anyway.

"What!" Gwen jumped at the sound. "Can you still feel that?" She grabbed the syringe again and injected more pain medication around and inside the wound.

"Gwen, please, stop," Ianto sobbed. "Please don't do this!"

Ignoring him completely, Gwen was busy comparing the picture on the computer screen with Ianto's insides. "Darn it! The blood keeps getting in the way." She grabbed a bottle of water and sloshed it around, washing Ianto's wound clean. "Great! Looks perfect. Okay, so next step it…"

She clicked on the mouse and then studied the screen again. "Okay." She reached in and prodded something inside of Ianto, and then looked back at the computer. "So that's what that looks like," she mumbled. "Huh… not what I was expecting."

Shrugging, Gwen sloshed some more water into the wound she had made in Ianto and then she gripped the scalpel tightly. "Good news, Ianto!" she paused to look at him and what she saw was revolting to her. 'What could Jack ever have seen in him?' and she barely stopped herself from rolling her eyes at the man.

In truth, Ianto was a mess. His hair, soaked with sweat, was plastered to his skull in some places and sticking out at weird angles in others. His eyes were red-rimmed and blood-shot, and his eyelids and the surrounding skin were swollen. Ianto's face was blotchy and reddened and streaked with tears. Gwen shuddered. 'God, he's such a pathetic mess!' She patted Ianto's belly. "This will all be over in just a minute, pet."

Choked by his sobs, all Ianto could do was whimper as Gwen used the scalpel on him again.

"Shit!" Gwen yelped as she suddenly jumped backwards but it was too late. "Bloody hell!" she continued to shout as she surveyed the front of her scrubs. She hadn't even thought about the fact that when she cut into Ianto's womb, the amniotic fluid would come gushing out, and now her front was soaked with blood and fluid. Her canvas Converse squished unpleasantly as she stepped back up to Ianto's side.

"Well, I hope you're happy now!" She glared at Ianto as if it were all his fault. "I was planning on…" Out of the corner of her eye something caught her attention and she stopped her rant to turn and get a better look. "Oh, my God!" she breathed out the words in disbelief.

"What, what is it?" Ianto craned his neck as much as he could, which was precious little, trying to see what Gwen was staring at. "Gwen, what?"

"There's a hand…" She looked closer. "No, it's a foot, it's sticking out!" She looked at Ianto and then turned back to stare at the foot again.

"Gwen!" Ianto called to her. She didn't seem to hear him. "GWEN!" he shouted. This time her head whipped around to look at him, her eyes wide.

"You have to get the baby out of me, Gwen, or it will die!" Ianto exclaimed, trying to keep his over-whelming fear at bay. Gwen continued to stand, frozen in place, mesmerised by the sight in front of her. He struggled to move and found that while he wasn't going anywhere, at least a little more control of movement was returning to his arms.

"God damn it, Gwen! Move your fucking arse!" Ianto finally screamed at her. "Get my baby out of me before you kill it!"

The ferocity with which Ianto's words were delivered finally penetrated the fog Gwen was in. Now that the absolute reality of what she was doing (and had done) was staring her in the face, she was afraid. Hell, she was terrified.

"What do I do?" Gwen cried out, fear rendering her almost useless. "Oh God, I don't know what to do, Ianto!"

"Gwen, look at me." Ianto spoke with a serene calmness that totally belied the sheer terror he was feeling. "Take a deep breath, and let it out." Gwen did as he asked, almost relieved that he was telling her what to do.

"Okay, take another breath; that's good. In and out. In and out." In the back of his mind he could hear Jack spouting lewd comments at his choice of words and he swallowed a set of hysterical giggles.

"Now, show me your hands." He knew he was wasting precious seconds, but there was too much at stake for Gwen to make a mistake.

Gwen raised her hands for him to see, and Ianto was relieved to see that they were actually quite steady. "Pick up a clean scalpel and widen the cut that you made." He watched as Gwen followed his instructions. "Be very careful you don't cut the baby; that thing is razor-sharp."

After a moment, Gwen set the scalpel down and looked at Ianto again.

"Reach in and feel around its neck. Make sure the umbilical cord isn't wrapped around its throat." When Gwen nodded that everything was okay, he said, "Now reach in and gently pull the baby out."

Ianto watched as his beautiful baby emerged into the world. "Careful now, the placenta is still attached." He was stricken with jealousy as he watched Gwen staring at his baby, her expression awestruck. 'That should be Jack holding our baby; he should have been the first person to see it!'

"Is it a boy or a girl?" he whispered.

"Oh, uh…" Gwen absent-mindedly glanced down at the baby's groin. "It's a boy," she answered him automatically, her voice almost monotone. "Damn it! I wanted a girl!"

Shocked by Gwen's cold attitude, Ianto managed to swallow his anger for the sake of his son. "Okay, now use the bulby-thing and clear the mucus from his nostrils and mouth." Ianto hold her. "You have to make him cry, Gwen; he has to suck air into his lungs. Slap him carefully on the butt if you have to, but he has to cry out so he'll breath."

The instant Ianto heard his son draw his first breath and cry he burst into tears again, but this time they were tears of absolute and abiding joy. He didn't even try to hide the ragged sobs that tore from his throat. It took several minutes before he was calm enough to carry on; he was so very grateful that his son was alive and well, despite his unusual arrival in the world.

"Now, lay the baby on me and clamp off the umbilical cord, and then cut below the clamp, Gwen. Good. Good job."

Ianto wished with all his heart that he could hold his son in his arms, even if only for a moment. 'It's a boy, Jack! We have a son,' he thought to himself with pride. 'I've given you a son, Cariad.' He wished he could see Jack's face the first time he laid eyes on his first male child, to be there when Jack held him for the first time. Ianto choked back a sob of despair.

"Please, Gwen, let me see him?" Ianto begged shamelessly. "Let me hold my son, please?"

Gwen looked at him for a moment. The shock brought on by her actions had worn off and she was back on track with her plan. After a moment's consideration, she shrugged and said, "Sure, why not. It's not like you'll ever see him again anyway."

Ianto watched as Gwen laid his son on his chest, and he relished the feeling of the tiny body lying over his heart. With surprising gentleness, she helped him wrap his arms around the infant. After watching them for a moment, she turned away to get a pack of baby wipes. After pressing them into Ianto's weak hand, she walked away from the table, allowing father and son a few minutes of precious private time together.

With absolute wonder at the miracle before him, Ianto used the baby wipes to gently clean his son's face and chest. His movements were clumsy but he used his fingertips to awkwardly trace the baby's lips and ears. "Hello, my baby boy. I love you so much." He feasted his eyes on his son's face, committing every detail to memory. "You have your daddy's mouth," he whispered with a tender smile.

"Your daddy will love you and take care of you forever." Tears stung his eyes as he gazed upon his son. "I love you, little one. You will always be the most important person in my life." He could hear Gwen returning and he stroked the side of his son's face. "Please remember that no matter what happens, I will always be your Tad and I will always love you more than anything else in the world."