Colonel Jack O'Neill sighed.
As soon as SG-1 plus Doctor Fraiser returned from the fact finding mission to P98-J4D, Walter had passed along the order to report directly to the briefing room. The team had been quickly divested of weapons and packs by the supply staff that had been sent to meet them in the gate room. From there, Jack and his team had headed straight up the stairs and were now seated at the briefing room table.
Sam and Daniel had each scrounged up a pad of paper and a pen from God knows where and were busy making notes. Like Jack, Teal'c and Janet were lost in thought. Through the glass window, Jack could see General Hammond in his office using the red telephone. Hammond seemed to be doing more listening than talking, his frown growing more pronounced the longer the call went on.
Inwardly, Jack sighed. This wasn't his finest hour. Drumming his fingers on the table, Jack mentally tried to phrase his report as they waited for General Hammond since the bald truth wouldn't do.
"Well, you see, sir, Daniel and I got so totally wasted on alien goo that without realizing it we did the wild thing in public right on top of one of those DNA mix-master machines like Nirrti had. Yes sir, the machine was very active at the time which is why Daniel is now two months along with my love child. On a positive note, the crowd in the temple enjoyed our performance so much that they play tapes of it world wide. Continually. There's even a thriving souvenir business, which I'm sure has helped their economy along. Let's say we chalk that mission up as a win in the 'humanitarian aid' column!"
Oh yeah. Wouldn't that go over well? Jack figured his own fate was pretty well sealed because "don't ask, don't tell" obviously extended to "don't knock up your boyfriend", even if said boyfriend was a civilian. Jack just hoped they'd let him retire instead of kicking him out with a dishonorable discharge or, worst case scenario, bring him up on charges. Whatever happened to him, though, was secondary to how Daniel was handled. Regardless, Jack really hoped the grumpy look on Hammond's face wasn't an omen.
A few minutes passed before Hammond hung up the phone and joined them at the table. Before he even finished getting seated, he asked for Jack's report.
For the first time since his days as a raw young Lieutenant fresh out of the academy, Jack found himself tongue-tied in front of a superior officer. He stammered, wishing Daniel would jump in and help him, but Daniel was staring at his note pad. So was, Carter, so no help there. Teal'c was sitting back and watching the show.
After the longest thirty-seconds of Jack's life, Janet stepped into the breach, sounding smooth and professional.
"During their visit to the temple, Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson were inadvertently exposed to extraordinarily high levels of a psychotropic substance used during the ritual in which they were participating."
God bless Fraiser, Jack thought.
"This impaired their cognitive abilities in much the same way as extreme inebriation would. Due to this impairment - ah - "
Janet stumbled a bit but Sam was right there to pick up the ball and run with it.
"Due to this impairment, the Colonel and Daniel were unable to identify the DNA manipulating device which had been built into the altar and dais on which the ritual took place and which was therefore nearly unrecognizable. Although the machine was active at the time of the ritual, the people there have no understanding of it or the technology it's composed of. There is no record of what settings were in place on the machine at that time."
And God bless Carter. Jack sent up thanks for her along with those for the doc.
"Even if we did have that information," said Janet regretfully, "it is extremely doubtful that Daniel's condition could be reversed in any way."
Hammond looked deflated. "Are you absolutely certain that there's nothing to be done?"
This time it was Daniel who replied. "We spoke to one of the Demarians who let us into the temple - "
"Omri," corrected Jack.
"The folks on P98-J4D are the Omri."
"That's right." Daniel nodded at Jack then turned back to Hammond. "Anyway, as I was saying, one of the Demarians - "
"You did it again." Jack couldn't help himself. He had just corrected Daniel, but the man was still making the same mistake.
"Said Demarian. The people on P98-J4D are the Omri." "
"Yes. They are." Daniel spoke slowly as if to someone with a limited intelligence.
"You keep saying Demarian."
"Because it was a Demarian that took us to the temple."
"No, Granny One Tooth and the Giant Bee took us to the temple."
"If you are referring to the elder, her son, and his family that met us at the gate, then yes, they accompanied us, but only to the city of Grebat." Daniel folded his arms across his chest. "Your point being?"
"My point, Daniel is that Granny, Jed and the rest of the Clampetts are Omri."
"I'm not disputing that." Daniel's voice rose in pitch.
"Well, you keep calling them Demarians." Jack's voice rose in volume as he said firmly, "Marietta is an Omri."
"Yes, yes - but Marliota, Acolyte of the second level of Tralan, is also a Demarian." Daniel was using his reasonable voice now, which meant that he thought Jack wasn't. Reasonable, that is.
"O'Neill." Teal'c's voice cut sharply across them. "As I recall from our initial briefing, the term Demarian refers to the priests and their ilk among the Omri."
"Yes!" Daniel flung one hand toward his team mate. "Thank you, Teal'c. Demarian is a collective term for anyone affiliated with the religious order on the planet whether they are priests, nuns, acolytes or anyone who serves them. Marliota was an acolyte therefore, he is a Demarian as well as an Omri."
"Well, maybe if you had said that to begin with, I would have known." Jack let his annoyance show.
"I did say that." Daniel was getting huffy. "I said it in the initial briefing."
"That was months ago and anyway, you must have mumbled that part because I missed it."
After investing all that time arguing, there was no way Jack was going to meekly back down now. Too bad he had forgotten about Daniel "Last Word" Jackson.
"Maybe if you spent your time listening instead of scribbling pornographic stick figures in the margins of your note pad -"
"Pfft!" Jack waved a hand dismissively. "Like I'm the only one who does that!"
"Enough!" barked Hammond.
On the other side of the briefing table, Sam hurriedly flipped her notepad over, her cheeks tinged a becoming pink.
"I get the picture, people." Hammond sighed. He spoke slowly, carefully choosing his words. "What I'm hearing is that I can safely say that Dr. Jackson's unique condition was brought about by his proximity to Colonel O'Neill in the presence of unknown alien technology that was activated without their knowledge."
With that, Jack breathed a sigh of relief. Worded that way, there was no breach of "don't ask, don't tell." Jack and Daniel should be safe from reprisals on that front.
Hammond stood. "You are all dismissed, but I want your written reports by the end of the day tomorrow." Returning to his office, he shut the door behind him and headed straight for the red phone.
Without another word, Jack and the others pushed away from the table and filed into the corridor. Once out of earshot of Hammond, Jack suggested they go to Janet's office so that she and Sam could repeat their description of events for the written reports. Crowding into Janet's small office, Teal'c and Jack stood, Janet sat at her desk, and Sam insisted that Daniel take the lone chair in front of the desk. Intending to sit on the corner of the desk, Sam pushed aside some files.
"Hey!" Sam exclaimed. "You bought a memorial plaque." She held it up for everyone to see. It was one of the souvenirs from the market on P98-J4D depicting Jack and Daniel's coupling at the temple. Luckily the picture on this plaque only showed their faces.
As one, Jack and Daniel exclaimed, "What?!"
"I wanted a memento, that's all," Janet explained. She snatched the item from Sam and stuffed it in a drawer. "How often do I get to go off world? Besides, maybe you should ask Sam about her new t-shirt."
When all heads turned to stare at her, Sam raised her chin defensively. "It was pretty and the picture doesn't show anything, um, naughty. Besides, like the Colonel said, the writing on it is an alien script so no one on Earth will know what it means."
Teal'c's deep voice rumbled around them. "I myself purchased two shirts, a ceramic mug, and one set of carved wooden figurines which the merchant assured me were accurate representations of specific moments from the recording of your coupling at the temple."
There was a stunned silence before Jack protested, "T-man, I'm begging you. Not the little statues. They've got our faces on them. Everyone will know it's me and Daniel and they'll see exactly what we were doing."
The Jaffa ruminated a moment then inclined his head. "Very well. You have my word that I shall view the figures only in private."
"Somehow I don't find that comforting," commented Daniel. He eyed the Jaffa speculatively. "At all."
Jack calculated the odds of wresting the wooden figures from Teal'c by force. Let's see, take one slightly over the hill Special Ops Colonel add one Large and Extra Muscley Jaffa in his prime, try to subtract one set of souvenirs and, yeah, pretty much zero chance of that happening. Still, he should at least offer. "Do you want me to make him hand them over?" he asked Daniel.
"No, no," was the hasty reply. "It's done now. I guess I'll have to accept it." Daniel looked intently at Teal'c, Sam, and Janet letting his disapproval show. "I'm just disappointed that each of you bought something when you know how Jack and I feel about them."
Shamefaced, Sam and Janet each dropped their gaze to the floor. Teal'c, however, calmly stared right back at Daniel.
"Perhaps," suggested Teal'c, "you should be certain that O'Neill's view of this matter truly is the same as yours before including him in that statement."
"Why?" Daniel asked cautiously, his gaze bouncing back and forth between Jack and Teal'c.
Teal'c said nothing, just raised one eyebrow. Jack could feel it pointing at him, accusing him with its arch and furrow. Crap. Teal'c was actually ratting him out. Then again, spreading the blame was a time honored tradition for taking the heat off of yourself. Just ask Janet. If the tables were turned, Jack would most likely have done the same and the gleam in Teal'c's eye suggested he knew that.
Eyes narrowing, Daniel focused on Jack.
"Jaaaack?" The name was drawn out, inflection rising at the end. There was a warning implicit in the sound.
Double crap. That was the intonation which meant "I know you're up to something and if you 'fess up now I won't be nearly as pissed as I would be if I had to figure it out on my own, but either way, you're in trouble Mister." It was amazing what depth of meaning Daniel could pack into one prolonged syllable. Must be the linguist in him.
Jack made a big show of reluctance as he grudgingly admitted, "I picked up two of the shirts."
In fact he had gotten six shirts altogether - one of each design. Two of the shirts weren't that great looking, but he had gotten them anyway because he had wanted to complete the set. He'd give up those two to Daniel and make sure the other four were well hidden.
Daniel wasn't quite buying his story, suspicion clouding his eyes. Jack put on his best "Crap! You caught me!" pout and eventually Daniel subsided.
As the talk turned to wording for the reports, all Jack could think of was how very different their lives would be from here on in.
The sound of retching woke Jack from a deep sleep. The door to the adjoining bathroom was ajar, a long narrow strip of dim grey light spilling out onto the carpet. Three strides had him gently pushing the door open to see Daniel sitting back on his heels in front of the commode, elbows on the seat, his head propped wearily in his hands. Daniel had both wrist bands, intended to quell nausea, in place. Judging by the sounds that woke Jack, the wristbands weren't able to cope with the increasing levels of hormones that were throwing Daniel's system out of whack.
"Hey." Jack spoke softly, trying not to startle Daniel.
Daniel didn't answer, but rose up to a kneeling position, and vomited.
Jack wet a washcloth with cold water, squeezed the excess from it, and folded it into a compress. When Daniel sat back, Jack flushed the toilet then gently wiped Daniel's face. He ended by laying the compress across his lover's forehead.
"Here. Hold this a second." Jack put Daniel's hand on the compress, then went to the medicine cabinet. Despite the gloom of the tiny nightlight, he easily found what he was looking for. Opening the box, he tore one of the suppositories out of the pack and peeled the foil down.
"I think it's time for those things Doc Fraiser gave you." Jack handed the suppository to Daniel. "Ah, do you need me to..."
"I'm not so out of it that I can't find my ass," Daniel snapped.
"I know." Jack kept his tone light. "Just thought I'd do the polite thing and offer." He rose to his feet. "Let me get you a glass of water to rinse out your mouth."
Backing out of the bathroom, he pulled the door almost closed. The water was a pretense to give Daniel his privacy since Jack could easily have filled the cup in the bathroom. Instead he wandered through the dark house to the kitchen.
By the time Jack returned, Daniel was on his feet in front of the sink washing his hands. He was hunched over and leaning heavily against the countertop, as though it was the only thing holding him up. After quickly setting the water glass on the counter, Jack grabbed a towel from the bar on the wall behind him and dried Daniel's hands.
Dropping the towel on the counter, Jack held the rim of the glass up to Daniel's mouth. Daniel tried to hold the glass himself, but his hand was too shaky. Together, he and Jack did a couple of rounds of rinse and spit before Jack dumped the remaining water down the drain. Setting aside the glass, Jack put an arm around Daniel and carefully maneuvered him back to bed. They moved at a snail's pace since Daniel had his eyes closed, couldn't stand up straight and kept swaying. Jack deliberately left the bathroom door wide open to take advantage of what little light there was.
As soon as he hit the mattress, Daniel rolled onto his side and curled up. Jack pulled the covers over him, tucking them in all around. Daniel still felt clammy, so Jack made sure the bedroom trash can was within Daniel's reach before climbing into bed and spooning up behind Daniel. After a moment, Jack rose up on one elbow so he could get a better view of Daniel and keep an eye on his condition.
“Earlier,” Jack said quietly, “I thought of a great name for him - Gordie Howe.”
That wasn't really true. This was all spur of the moment. Jack just needed something, anything, to distract Daniel long enough for the anti-nausea meds to kick in.
There was a long pause, then a slight wrinkle to Daniel's forehead. “Was that your grandfather on your mother’s side?” The words came out slowly and slightly slurred, but Daniel seemed interested.
“Gordie Howe, Dr. Jackson, is one of the greatest hockey players of all time, as I believe I have mentioned repeatedly.”
Very repeatedly, in fact. Jack knew that Daniel tended to tune out his sports talk just as he tuned out Daniel's archeology lectures, but still the names should have stuck with Daniel. It was a sign of how unwell he was that Daniel didn't place it right away. Jack used the same technique for grading the severity of Daniel's headaches.
“I thought the greatest hockey player was Wayne Gretzky.”
“Him too, but Gordie did it all first.” Good - all Daniel had needed was the context. Jack snapped his fingers as though something had just occurred to him. “Hey! That’s a great idea! We’ll put the two together and call him Gordie Wayne.”
“No! No sports figures." Daniel rolled his shoulder back, turning his head to look at Jack. "Besides, what if it’s a girl?”
“Easy - Gordina Waynette” teased Jack. There was no way he'd saddle a kid with such an outlandish name, but it was useful for getting a rise out of Daniel.
“Why do I suddenly hear banjo music?” was the sardonic reply. Lips pursed, Daniel pondered a moment. “If you want to name him after a famous person how about something classical, like Horace?”
“Are you nuts?” What the hell was his partner thinking? Jack hoped he was joking but you never knew with Daniel. “You wanna name him after a Goa’uld?”
“Not Horus – Horace." Turning onto his back, Daniel drew his knees up then used his hands to further emphasize the difference in the identical sounding names - a sure sign he was starting to feel better. "He was Roman poet, philosopher, and satirist.”
Jack ran weightless fingers over Daniel's arm, both to soothe and reconnoiter. Daniel didn't feel clammy anymore. His skin was warmer, and a little sticky from dried sweat. If Daniel was feeling better enough to get into a wacky name contest, Jack would be happy to oblige.
“That’s a great name – if you want our kid to get beaten up every day. You might as well slap a 'loser' sign on his back as you send him off to school," said Jack. "If you’re going to give him a sissy name at least pick out a guy that kicked ass, like Horatio. He held off the entire Etruscan army single handed at the bridge across the Tiber. Still had a sissy name, though.”
“Okay,” conceded Daniel. “I just…I don’t want to give him some ordinary name that 50 other kids in his class will have, alternate spellings not withstanding.”
Daniel sounded kind of down. Not good. Better jolly him out of it.
“Considering how he’s probably going to come out," Jack said, "I’ve got the perfect name for him.”
Mouth pursed, Daniel glared at him. Even in the murky glow from one far-off nightlight, Jack could tell it was an impressive glare. “We are NOT going call our child Hemorrhoid.”
“Hey – it’s good enough for the Asgard.” Jack felt something ease inside him at the demonstration of Daniel's acuteness. Sharp Daniel was a Daniel who felt fine.
“That’s Heimdall, and the answer is still no.”
“Sheesh, Daniel. No need to shout. I was just kidding.” Outwardly, Jack made faces, but it was good to see Daniel recovering.
“You’re not nearly as funny as you think you are, Jack.” Daniel shifted away from him.
“Fine. Just for that, we’re naming him Budge.” Trying not to smile, Jack waited for the explosion.
Daniel's eyes bugged out for a moment, then he relaxed and chuckled. "You're such an asshole," he said fondly.
Jack laughed with him. He knew Daniel would figure out what he was doing. "Yeah, but I'm your asshole." He kissed Daniel on the cheek and put an arm across his chest. "Now go to sleep."
"Thank you, Jack" murmured Daniel as he draped his arm over Jack's.
By way of reply, Jack put his face in the hollow of Daniel's neck and nuzzled until they fell asleep.
Jack was irked.
Not a lot, mind you, but definitely irked. He didn't mind listening to Daniel bitch constantly about the weight gain, slight as it was, now that the nausea had abated or about the 'beer belly' Daniel was getting. That's what a partner was for - to listen.
Jack didn't mind standing while Daniel got to sit on the comfy bed either. Jack had sat enough at his desk doing paperwork this morning so he was glad of a chance to stand. Besides Daniel was the patient so he deserved the comfy bed. He didn't even mind being here in the medical isolation room with Daniel since he wanted to be present when Janet gave Daniel his first ultrasound.
What really irked Jack was that because of the weight gain and the little pot belly, Daniel had been forced to go up a size or two in his pants - which meant that now he could wear Jack's pants. So, Jack's regular pants were Daniel's fat pants and wasn't that a kick in Jack's ego?
Jack was trying to be nonchalant about it, but since Daniel had rolled his eyes at Jack's choice of salad with no dressing and a glass of water for lunch, he probably wasn't being too successful.
"Okay, Daniel. You don't need to undress completely for this." Janet gave him a reassuring smile. "I just need to access your abdominal area for the ultrasound."
Lying back on the bed, Daniel unbuttoned his BDU pants. Sticking his thumbs under the waistband of his briefs, he shoved everything down to his hips then pulled his t-shirt up under his arms. Janet picked up a tube and squeezed a dollop of gel just above Daniel's pubic bone.
"Yow!" Daniel flinched, pulling his legs up as he exclaimed, "Warm the lube!"
The second he realized what he had said, Daniel looked embarrassed and flushed a mottled red.
Janet was amused. "When it goes here, Daniel, it's called gel or jelly."
Jack deliberately didn't look at Daniel who was ignoring him in return. In the wake of an incident near the beginning of their relationship, those words had become a catchphrase between them. As embarrassing as Daniel's outburst was, Jack feared he'd laugh if he caught Daniel's eye and Daniel didn't seem at all inclined toward laughter at the moment.
Picking up the wand, Janet activated the ultrasound machine, and placed the wand low on Daniel's abdomen. For a while the room was silent as she moved the wand around, changing angles and locations until the fetus showed on the display. The image was made up of black, white and grey spots that from far away enough resolved into a picture of the baby who was showing them how the fetal position got its name. One hand was up by its face, the thumb in its mouth. A pulsating 'whoosh-whoosh' sound came from the speakers.
"What's that noise?" asked Daniel
"It's the baby's heartbeat."
Jack had spoken in unison with Janet. He remembered clearly the first time he had accompanied his ex-wife Sara to the doctor when she was pregnant with Charlie. Looking at the image of his child all those years ago was the moment he had first felt like a father. Although no one could ever take the place of the boy he had lost, Jack was starting to get excited about being a father again. He examined the image in front of him now, wondering if he was going to have another son. Hey! Was that - ?
"It's a boy!" exclaimed Jack as he pointed at the monitor. "And he's hung like a bear!"
Janet peered more closely at the image. "That's not - "
In his excitement, Jack cut her off, puffing up proudly. "He takes after his daddy," he boasted.
"Why, thank you, Jack." Daniel grinned at him. "I appreciate the compliment."
"What?" He gave Daniel a startled glance before turning back to the monitor. "No, I meant me."
Okay, so yeah, they had gotten the ruler out that one time and technically, Daniel was the better endowed but only by a quarter of an inch. In Jack's mind that qualified as a tie because anything under one half should be rounded down to the nearest number. Daniel insisted that since the ruler had markings delineating sixteenths of an inch, the standard of measurement should be exact. Jack proceeded to prove to him that size didn't matter - twice that night and once more the next morning.
"You said daddy," insisted Doctor Pedantic Jackson, "so that could be either of us and since I'm officially the one who's better - "
"Aht!" Jack raised a finger to stop him.
" - better equipped to handle the subject so to speak," Daniel gave him a wicked grin, "I think - "
Jack wiggled his eyebrows and pretended to tap a cigar, doing his best Groucho Marx impression. "I'll be happy to handle your subject for you, any day."
"Gentlemen!" interjected Janet. "And I use the term loosely." With her free hand on one hip, she gave them the eyeball that meant 'settle down' while simultaneously reminding them they were in her domain and under her rule. Since she was also suppressing a smile, that took some of the sting out of it.
Even so, they settled respectfully, giving her their complete attention.
Carefully keeping the wand aligned over Daniel's womb, Janet put her finger on the same spot on the image that Jack had pointed to "That is the umbilical cord."
"Oh." Daniel sounded disappointed.
Irrational as the feeling was, Jack understood because he felt disappointed, too. He tried to sound casual as he asked, "So, where's his penis?" Jack squinted at the screen, trying to sharpen the grainy image. Please, lord, don't let his boy be hung like a hamster.
Janet shook her head. "The way the fetus is positioned, we can't see that area."
"Shy, huh? Must be a girl then," Jack joked.
"You'll be getting regular ultrasounds from now on so there will be other opportunities to find out the gender." Janet included both men as she asked, "The real question is - do you want to know?"
Jack looked inquiringly at Daniel who looked inquiringly back at him. There was a silent round of "what do you think?" and "I don't know, what do you think?" and "Hey I asked you first" all played out in a twitch of an eyebrow, a twist of the mouth, a tilt of the head. Finally they reached a consensus, turning in unison to face Janet.
"I think," said Daniel, "we'd like to be surprised."
"Well, that would certainly be consistent with the pregnancy as a whole," Janet said wryly. "Okay, I'm going to record a few measurements, now."
Clicking sounds joined in with the whooshing as Janet worked. Jack and Daniel watched the baby on the monitor as it floated in the womb sucking its thumb. Daniel rubbed the edge of his belly with one hand, staying well clear of the ultrasound wand. He seemed pensive.
Janet put the wand aside, then cleaned the gel off of Daniel's abdomen. She made some notations in Daniel's chart, then pressed a few buttons on the ultrasound machine.
"I'll be putting copies of the ultrasound pictures in your file, plus I've printed an extra one for you to keep. Unfortunately, the printer is down the hallway, so if you'll wait here, I'll be back in a minute."
As Janet left, Daniel pulled his shirt down and his pants up. Sitting all the way up, he swung his feet over the side of the bed and fastened his pants. The ultrasound machine was directly in front of him with the last image of the fetus on the monitor, frozen there on display. Daniel stared at it, mesmerized as one hand crept onto his abdomen, gently cupping the area where it pouched out the most.
"This...this is real." Daniel spoke slowly as he stared at the fuzzy image on the screen. His words were half statement, half question.
"You've known that for awhile now." Jack spoke quietly as he put his hand on Daniel's shoulder, though he wasn't sure which of them he was trying to comfort.
"Yeah, but it didn't feel real until now. Seeing that picture, seeing the...the..." Daniel took a deep breath. "... fetus...it just..." He floundered to a stop.
"What did it feel like before this?" Concerned, Jack focused on Daniel.
"The flu." Daniel's voice was so soft that Jack could barely hear him. "A bad case of the flu that lingered." Leaning forward enough to touch the monitor with his other hand, Daniel splayed his fingers across the image, as though holding it.
Jack entwined his fingers with the hand Daniel still had on his belly. "And now?"
Eyes glued to the monitor, Daniel squeezed Jack's hand. "I'm - I'm having a baby." His voice was tinged with awe.
"Yeah. " Smiling, Jack squeezed back. "We are."
Jack had been doing his best statue imitation for nigh on five minutes. His view was blocked in here, but his ears strained for the slightest sound. He'd prefer to wait a few more minutes, but he was also cramping. He had been lurking in the tool shed when his hiding place had nearly been discovered. Caught mid-stride, Jack had instantly stilled knowing that motion and sound were the two things most likely to give him away. Unfortunately, most of his weight had been on his front leg at the time, keeping his calf muscle under constant tension. He had to move now or suffer the pangs of a severe charlie horse.
With glacial slowness, Jack shifted his weight, easing back until his body was supported equally by both legs. When there was no outside response to his movement, he risked exposure with a broader change of position, flexing and stretching his aching limbs. The shed was stifling hot but he didn't dare throw open the double doors or turn on the overhead fan since either action would be a dead giveaway.
But Jack needed relief from the sweltering interior. His shirt was soaked under the arms and around the neck and he'd been there less than an hour. Decision made, he headed for the door, his sneakers noiseless on the concrete floor. It took over a minute to turn the knob and open the door half an inch. He peered through the tiny opening, alert for anything out of place. The yard was peaceful. Calm. Deserted.
Good. No sign of his opponent.
A furtive sprint across the yard and Jack was on the deck by the side door to the house. After a few moments spent doing a little recon through the windows into his living room, he judged the coast to be clear, at least at this end of the house. He opened the door and hurried through the living room and down the hallway. If he could just make it to the basement. Sure it smelled kind of musty, but at least it was air conditioned and even a man on the run appreciated the creature comforts.
Jack had never dreamed the day would come when he'd be using his special ops skills to skulk though his own house. Especially since he was using them to avoid -
Shit! Jack jumped as Daniel suddenly popped into the hallway in front of him from the bedroom doorway. Jack had hoped he would be napping by now.
"Jack! There you are!" Daniel's extra large shirt was snug across his stomach. "I've been looking all over for you." Wiggling one eyebrow suggestively, he leered at Jack. "How 'bout it, flyboy?Wanna fool around?"
Jack's heart sank at the words. Oh God. This was just what he had been trying to avoid. Daniel was feeling frisky. Daniel had been feeling frisky for the last couple of weeks. Neither his ever expanding belly nor the increasingly frequent urge to pee had slowed him down. Sure, Daniel got tired more often, but a short nap did wonders to re-energize him, dammit. And between visits to the refrigerator and trips to the bathroom the only other thing he wanted to do was fuck.
A short time ago, things had been the other way around. A short time ago, Jack had been like a dog in heat, sniffing around Daniel every chance he got. He had been after Daniel like a bee to honey. A moth to a flame. Ants to a picnic. Jack had craved Daniel's body and the closeness - the interconnectedness - of sex. The mind-blowing orgasms had been the icing on the cake. There was nothing Jack had loved better than letting Daniel have his wicked way with him. In fact, Jack had actively and enthusiastically encouraged it.
That, however, was before the phrase "chaps my ass" had taken on such a literal meaning.
Daniel, pulled him into a full body hug, his hands firmly clamped to Jack's butt.
"Jesus, Daniel. Again!?" Jack put his arms up between them and pushed away, careful to keep his hands well clear of the baby.
Daniel frowned at him. "Oh come on, you're always after me."
"Seriously, Daniel, I don't think my ass can take any more."
Daniel's lush bottom lip stuck out in a pout as he let frustration overtake him. "Fine. Then suck me, fuck me, jerk me off, just DO something okay?"
Daniel rubbed his crotch against Jack's leg, reminding Jack of a spaniel that Jack had had when he was a boy that would hump the leg of every visitor to the house. The dog had been sent to live on his uncle's farm after what was thereafter referred to in the family as "that unfortunate visit from the Avon lady".
"Do I even need to be here for this?" Jack growled, cranky from the constant pestering. "You seem to be doing fine on your own. Just go beat off."
"Oh come on," whined Daniel. "Jerking off doesn't feel the same and you know it. YOU do it." Grabbing Jack's hand, Daniel held it against his crotch and pushed into it, already beginning to breathe harder.
"Oh fer cryin' out..."
Exasperated, Jack stuck his hand down Daniel's pants less for his lover's sake than for his own. Five minutes work now should buy him at least a couple of hours of quiet time and there was an NBA game starting in 15 minutes. Jack wanted to see every minute of the Bulls beating the snot out of the Pistons. Hopefully, Daniel wouldn't be pestering him again before the game was finished but if he did, he was getting another hand job since Jack wouldn't be able to see the TV if he blew Daniel. It might be basketball instead of hockey but there was no way he was going to miss a playoff game.
Daniel's breath gusted loudly in Jack's ear as he finished. Wiping his hand on Daniel's shirt tail, Jack gave him a quick peck on the lips and got a sweet smile in return.
"Love you, Jack."
"Love you too, Daniel. Now come on. We've got a game to watch."
Jack held Daniel's hand as they went to the living room, glad they still had that sense of togetherness that meant so much to him.
Jack cross-checked the diagram to the instructions, then looked at the crib in front of him. So far so good. The crib looked nothing like the smudged and useless diagrams, but it did look like a crib. He and Teal'c had already assembled the changing table and the cradle, now all that was left was the crib. Granted, the baby wouldn't need it right away, but since they were putting together the rest of the room they might as well get this done, too.
Daniel had planned to help piece everything together, but when Teal'c had arrived that morning, Sam and Janet had come with him and promptly hijacked Daniel. Even less of a shopper than Jack, Daniel had been dragged out the door in the iron clad grip of determined friends, his demeanor that of a man condemned. Teal'c and Jack had spent the last few hours chatting companionably in between bouts of cursing at incoherent instructions and illegible diagrams. During that same time, Daniel, God help him, had been at the mall. On a Saturday.
Putting down the reference material, Jack took swig of his drink. In deference to Daniel's dietary restrictions, Jack no longer had beer in the house. In a show of solidarity, his drink of choice was now the papaya mango juice blend that he'd always kept on hand for Teal'c. Jack grabbed a handful of bolts and the ratcheted hex-wrench. Teal'c held the last side of the crib in place while Jack installed the bolts.
Given the nature of their task, naturally their talk had centered around all things baby related. Adjusting his grip on the slats of the piece he was holding, Teal'c continued his reminiscence of his wife's pregnancy.
"As I recall there was an all too brief period of time approximately midway through gestation when Drey'ac's desires were greatly increased. Other than feeling our son move within her, that is my most fond memory of that time."
Jack grinned. "Oh yeah. Sara did the same thing when she was pregnant with Charlie. I tell ya, I couldn't wait to get home at night. It was over far too soon, but it sure was fun while it lasted."
"Have you encountered that same phenomenon with Daniel Jackson?"
Jack's smile faded away. "Yeah," he grunted.
Twisting the ratchet sharply, Jack over-tightened the bolt. He grabbed another bolt from the pile and used more force than necessary on that one too. Although he kept his eyes on the task in front of him, in his peripheral vision he could tell Teal'c was studying him. Crap. He should have plastered a smile on his face and pretended an unrelentingly horny Daniel was the best thing since sliced bread.
"Why is it that you are not enthused about the experience with Daniel Jackson?"
"Well, T, it turns out that there is such a thing as too much sex. Who knew?"
The last bolt snicked into place. They tested their work, raising and lowering the side of the crib several times to be sure everything slid smoothly.
"It is common knowledge among your closest associates that within the confines of your relationship with Daniel Jackson you are in fact a slut, O'Neill. An unrelenting horn dog. An insatiable sausage sniffer. A hose hound of epic proportions, a --"
"Whoa! Enough! I got the point," he said testily. To some degree, Jack was reluctant to open up, but he needed a confidante and he sure as hell wasn't going to complain to Daniel. "One word for you, T - chafing."
Both of Teal'cs eyebrows twitched. Oh it was subtle - the big man managed to stop them from swooping toward his hairline - but it was noticeable. "I must concede your point, O'Neill."
Jack couldn't quite believe he was having this conversation with anyone, much less Teal'c. Then again, of all people, Teal'c would be the least likely to judge.
"Yeah, well, one look at the poses in that souvenir figurine collection of me and Daniel should be enough to clue anyone in. Granted, those have it the other way around with Daniel...um..." Jack felt a rush of heat to his face. He just couldn't finish that sentence.
Teal'c nodded, but said, "I am afraid I am unable to view the collection."
"Well I didn't mean right now, but when you get back to the base, maybe...or not. Not works best for me," he grumbled.
Jack began to put his tools away while Teal'c gathered the instructions and other bits of debris from the carpet. Since they had been policing the area as they worked, final clean up took only moments. Standing in the middle of the room to admire their work, they each picked up their glass of juice.
"I meant that I am unable to view them at all," said Teal'c.
"What? Why?" Jack hoped they had somehow been obliterated. They better not have been lost. Or sold. Or given away.
"Several years ago, I repeatedly declined a second invitation to accompany you fishing. In response you suggested that I take up a hobby. I did." There was a wicked gleam in the big man's eye.
Jack frowned. He vaguely recalled the incident. "Okay, but what has that got to do with - " The expression on Teal'c's face was the closest Jack had ever seen to a smirk. Something clicked. Suddenly it was painfully obvious. "Son of a bitch." He swore with equal parts aggravation and admiration. "You've been winding us up all these years. Just pushing our buttons and watching us dance."
"It has been most amusing as well as incredibly simple. I believe the appropriate saying is, you are an easy target, O'Neill as is Daniel Jackson."
Jack probably should be upset over years of teasing but it had been so well done that he wasn't. "That's quite a feat, there, T-man," he admitted. "You played us like a couple of violins. A comment here and a comment there, and we're off on a tizzy." He raised his glass in a salute to the master prankster. "Well done."
Teal'c bowed from the neck to acknowledge the compliment.
"So, why are you coming clean now?"
"I have engaged in a new hobby."
"Oh? Some new martial art?" Jack raised his glass for a drink.
"The arrangement of vegetation, both harvested and viable, into aesthetically pleasing and situationally appropriate designs."
Jack coughed and sputtered. If only he hadn't been mid swallow when Teal'c said that.
"Are you all right, O'Neill?"
"Fine, fine." One last cough cleared his airway. "Florist, you say?"
"More specifically, floral designer."
"Uh-huh. And, ah, what brought that on?"
Before Teal'c could answer, Daniel's voice came floating down the hall.
"Guys? We're back!"
Jack could hear Sam and Janet chattering excitedly over a backdrop of rustling noises, all increasing in volume as the trio came down the hallway to the baby's room. Shopping bags came through the doorway first, followed by Daniel, more bags, Sam, yet more bags, and Janet. Whereas the women were still revved up over the experience, Daniel had that pursed lipped, narrow eyed look look which meant that he was cranky and tired and trying to hide it.
The bags all thumped into a group in the middle of the floor. The women headed straight for the furniture, exclaiming over the style. Jack headed straight for Daniel, putting a hand on his back.
"Your timing is impeccable, Daniel Jackson, as we have only just finished assembling the infant's furnishings."
A half-hearted "Yeah, great" was Daniel's only response to Teal'c's comment.
Jack guided his partner to the glider rocker in the corner and helped him get settled with his feet up on the ottoman. "Take a seat Daniel. Here, drink this," he said, pressing his half full glass of juice into Daniel's hand. Pitching his voice low enough that the others wouldn't hear, he asked, "So, was it as horrible as you feared?"
Daniel glanced over at the others to be sure they hadn't noticed Jack's comment, then replied in the same manner. "Honestly, it wasn't bad at all. Sam had some great ideas about baby-proofing the house and she and Janet both have excellent taste. Wait'll you see some of the outfits they got. And the bedding. And the toys. And room decorations. Frankly, the longer I thought about it today, the more I realized how lucky we are in our friends. I'm exceedingly grateful to them for helping us out like this." Daniel looked startled for a moment, then smiled wide. "Hey!" he called out to everyone. "Come quick! The baby's moving!"
Jack put his hand on Daniel's abdomen, feeling the flutter under his palm, then made way for the others. Sam was the last in line and the look of wonder on her face was priceless.
"Oh, wow, Daniel! That was awesome!" She gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "Thank you. When my sister in law was pregnant, I was usually on the other side of the country. The few times I was around her, the movement always stopped before I could feel it."
"So, you're saying I'm your first?" quipped Daniel.
Everyone laughed, while Sam gave him a mischievious grin and retorted, "But hopefully not my last."
Janet picked up one of the shopping bags, waving it in the air as she smiled at Jack "So, are you ready to see what we managed to scrounge up?"
Everyone gathered around Daniel in his place of honor in the rocker. Jack sat on the floor to his left and Sam parked herself on the floor to his right. Teal'c helped unload the bags while Janet did her best "Vanna White, Spokesmodel" interpretation and the group fell into a party atmosphere. Daniel, now that he had had a chance to rest and refresh himself, quickly joined in the festive mood.
Watching Daniel and Sam laugh over something that happened at the mall today, Jack was reminded of their moniker from the earliest days of the program - The Wonder Twins. They didn't know it, but he was the one who had tagged them with that. It was good to see that years later, that connection was still there because friends like that were hard to come by.
As Jack watched Teal'c acting as straight-man to Janet's showmanship, and Sam proudly displaying the practical items she had selected, he knew that Daniel was right about how lucky he and Jack were. But Daniel was off on one thing. These weren't just friends.
This? This was family.
"Daniel? Hey. Daniel."
Jack stood in by the front door, watching Daniel type steadily on the laptop despite the pencil woven through the fingers of his right hand. The dining table around Daniel was strewn with books, file folders, and note pads. While Jack had been busy in the kitchen cleaning up the breakfast dishes, Daniel had set up shop on the table, still wearing the sweat pants and navy t-shirt he'd slept in. Jack had showered and changed into jeans, leather shoes, and a short sleeved button front shirt and Daniel was still working away.
"Yoohoo? Daniel? Kree!"
He finally had Daniel's attention with that, but Daniel had that speculative "just how insane are you?" look in his eye again. Jack held up the keys.
"Better hurry. The bus is leaving in five minutes."
Daniel pretended to shudder. "Nine o'clock on a Saturday morning is too early to run errands."
Jack looked askance at him. "Oh, but it's not too early for work?"
"It's more fun than waiting around for the truck to get serviced, and doing the grocery shopping, and whatever else is on the list."
"So?" Jack shrugged. "You can keep me company. Make it more fun for both of us." He jiggled the keys enticingly.
Daniel dropped his eyes, looking down at his screen as he answered. "I just want to get this done while I'm on a roll."
Daniel had never been good at lying for which Jack was heartily glad. Normally, he could count on Daniel to tell him the truth about any and everything. At the moment every bit of his body language was shouting "liar", but Jack let it slide.
"Well, there's that. I've also got to pick up the dry cleaning and run by the drug store. I might get a haircut, too, while I'm out, so don't expect me back for a few hours.
Eyes still downcast, Daniel said, "Fine, fine. Take your time. I mean, don't skimp on anything that needs doing. I've got plenty to occupy me right here."
Jack was chipper in his goodbye - jaunty, even. The minute he closed the door behind him, the smile fell away from his face. He did some thinking as he went about his errands.
Daniel Jackson was a fibber. A big fat fibber and therein lay the problem. The bigger he got, the more reluctant Daniel was to leave the house. In the last two weeks or so, Daniel's stride had begun to change as well. Fraiser said it was because of something called relaxin that made Daniel's joints looser, giving him more of a rolling gait. Along with it, came shifty eyed glancing at the people he passed. It had taken Jack a couple of outings with Daniel before he realized that Daniel was trying to see if anyone was staring at him. Although he didn't draw any undo attention, Daniel was feeling uncomfortable in the public eye.
By the time he returned to the house four hours later, Jack hadn't decided what he should do about Daniel's incipient agoraphobia. For now, he'd monitor Daniel and encourage him to come along for shorter errands.
Entering the house, he found the dining table still covered with Daniel Detritus, but there was no Daniel in sight. Since he could faintly hear the television in the den, he figured Daniel was taking a break, but didn't call out in case he was napping. Daniel needed his sleep. It took Jack two trips to empty the truck. A few minutes later, the groceries and supplies had been put away, and Jack was hanging his dress blue uniform in the closet, still in the plastic bag from the cleaners. Chores done, he moved quietly down the hall to check on Daniel.
Daniel was not napping.
Daniel was sprawled on the love seat, still in his night wear, his feet up on the coffee table, between an empty package of cookies and a crumpled bag of chips. The waist band of his sweat pants was hidden somewhere underneath his distended abdomen and his t-shirt had rucked up putting bare skin on display. His stomach and lap were covered in crumbs, as was the coffee table. One hand was wrapped around a pint of ice cream which was resting on his protuberant belly. The other hand clutched a spoon. A gluey blob of ice cream stuck to his chin with several more dribbled haphazardly on his t-shirt. Staring zombie-like at the television, Daniel's eyes were red-rimmed and watery, his complexion was blotchy red, and his upper lip was shiny with nose drool.
It was the most disgusting thing Jack had ever seen.
Leaning sideways in order to raise one butt cheek up slightly, Daniel blew a loud raspy fart into the cushions.
Ah, thought Jack, I stand corrected.
For a split second, Jack had the crazy idea that somewhere this morning he'd accidentally stepped through a quantum mirror into an alternate universe because this? This was not Daniel Jackson, The Incredible Stoic Man. This was not the man who would be just as at ease at a convention of eggheads as he would a gathering of male models.
This...this person wallowing on the loveseat stuffing his face and blubbering at, Jack double checked the TV, the cheesy melodrama of the week movie on The Lifetime Women's Channel was the polar opposite of Doctor "Yeah, My Head Fell Off But I'll Be Fine" Jackson. Janet had warned them that Daniel might go through mood shifts due to the hormones running rampant in his system. Guess she was right, because Jack couldn't think of a single other thing to explain this.
Stepping forward with the same caution he'd use to approach a grizzly, Jack said, "Um, Daniel? You okay?"
Blinking myopically, Daniel slowly moved his focus from the screen to Jack, his expression vacant. The spoon dipped into the pint container as if on auto pilot.
Jack waved a hand in front of Daniel who shook his head slightly, as if noticing Jack for the first time.
"Daniel? Watcha doing?"
Speaking quietly, Jack slowly reached out to take the ice cream from Daniel's unresisting hand. He wasn't quick enough to get the spoon, though, as Daniel drew back his hand. Daniel just stared at him. Maybe he should get Daniel talking. Wasn't that was Janet had said to do?
"You seem a little down. Did something happen while I was out?"
"Down. Dowwwwnnnnn. Down?" Daniel repeated the word as though trying it out for the first time. He was becoming more animated by the second which Jack much preferred to the previous lethargy. "Why could I possibly seem down? Oh I know! I've gotten so big that I have to wear my pants lower and lower just to get them fastened and now I've got plumber's crack. I haven't got a waist anymore. The only time I can see my penis is when I look in the mirror and who wants to do that?"
Daniel gestured emphatically, melted ice cream flinging off of the forgotten spoon. "Nothing fits. My back hurts constantly, my skin itches and I'm getting stretchmarks." Daniel's lower lip started quivering. "I'm fat and ugly and no one will ever want me again."
Inwardly Jack sighed. This situation called for exactly the kind of relationship skills he usually fell short on. Grabbing a handful of tissues from the box next to the chip bag, Jack wiped the mess of snot and soupy ice cream from Daniel's face, did what he could with the ice cream on the t-shirt, then dropped the dirty tissues into the empty cookie package.
"You're not fat, you're pregnant." Jack sat on the loveseat next to Daniel, sliding one arm around his shoulders. "I know you've gone through some changes, some of them inconvenient, but think of the miracle behind those changes." Jack pulled the spoon from Daniel's hand, tossing it next to the tissues. Taking Daniel's hand, he pressed it to Daniel's belly, Jack's own hand atop Daniel's. "There's life in there. A little person who's depending on you. How incredible is that?" Jack kissed Daniel's cheek. "You've never looked more handsome to me than you do right now. I will always love you, Daniel, and I will always want you. Count on it."
Sighing, Daniel twisted into him, putting his head on Jack's shoulder, his arms around Jack's body. Apparently a little truth went a long way. As they held each other, Jack remembered Janet saying this mood swing thing shouldn't last too long. He sure hoped she was right.
In the mean time, Jack was going to hide the junk food.
Jack surreptitiously checked his watch again. Doc Frasier had been delayed at her office at the Air Force Academy Hospital and was late for their appointment. He and Daniel had been cooling their heels in the infirmary for a good twenty minutes now. The off world teams had been having a run of good luck lately so there were no patients in the beds. A few minutes ago, the duty nurse had gone to lunch, leaving Jack and Daniel to themselves.
Daniel, who had woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, was getting more agitated as minutes passed. With an effort, he had gotten up from his seat on the bed and had taken to pacing the room. A few months ago, Jack would have described Daniel's movements as the powerful grace of angry tiger. Instead, his current condition meant that Daniel was waddling like a peeved penguin. With every step, Daniel seemed to get madder until he erupted.
"Dammit! It's bad enough to keep anyone waiting, but to do it to someone who can't even sit comfortably while they wait is unacceptable." Daniel winced and rubbed at the small of his back. "It's rude and it's thoughtless."
Attempting to mollify him, Jack said mildly, "I know you're uncomfortable, but I'm here for you, Daniel. We're in this together."
Daniel lumbered around to face him. "Together, huh? Together?" Both hands gestured dramatically at his belly. "So, which of us has swollen up like one of those giant balloons from the Thanksgiving Day parade? Because I don't see you stomping around like Godzilla with a glandular problem."
Taking a page from Daniel's Peaceful Explorers handbook, Jack put his hands out in a palms up and outward position which was intended to placate the person being addressed. "Okay, so I don't have the physical symptoms - "
"No!" Daniel interrupted. "No you don't have the physical symptoms. I do. I have all of them. You don't have a damn thing to complain about.
This time Jack counted slowly to five then tried palms down. "I'm not complaining, Daniel. I know that it's been hard for you -"
The placating gestures worked about as well at home as they did off world as Daniel jumped in again. He went right for waspish and started building up a good head of steam. All Jack could do was sit there while the words ran over him.
"When's the last time you had a bowel movement, Jack? Oh wait, that was this morning, wasn't it? I remember because last night I told you very clearly to lay off the bean dip and after you spent just five minutes in the bathroom this morning it was obvious that you had refused to listen. And would it kill you to use the spray?"
Daniel pulled out a whole different set of hand gestures, most of them short and sharp. "I haven't moved my bowels in almost a week and you can bet that when I finally do I'll be crapping little rocks and won't that be fun. Oh, don't you wrinkle up your nose at me. Sorry if you find this conversation too crude for your delicate sensibilities." Daniel mocked Jack with exagerated versions of Jack's mannerisms, parroting his words back to him. "Remember, we're in this together." Even Daniel's air quotes were sarcastic. "My suffering is your suffering."
In an effort to keep a lid on his temper, Jack abandoned counting for a mental review of the NHL standings after last season's Stanley Cup.
The downside of pregnancy had been weighing heavily on Daniel for a while now, pun intended. The weight made Daniel short of breath and gave him a back ache that wouldn't quit. Jack spent a lot of time massaging Daniel's back as well as his cramped calf muscles. Daniel was frequently fatigued, but couldn't sleep for more than an hour or two at a time and swore that he spent most of his day hurrying to the bathroom to pee. Again. It was all starting to wear Daniel out.
After reaching number ten in the standings, Jack took a deep breath and said as calmly as he could, "I know you're a little tired because you haven't been sleeping well, but - "
"Right, like anyone could sleep with you flouncing around the house like June Cleaver's campy gay brother with an obsession for cleanliness!"
What the fuck? Jack was floored. Where the hell was that coming from?
Annoyed, Jack growled, "Chrisakes, Daniel, you make it sound like I'm mincing around in a frilly apron and pearls taking a feather duster to the furniture."
"If the apron fits - " taunted Daniel, upper lip curled up in disdain.
Oh, that was it.
Jack was done being nice to Dr. Pissy McRanty over there. Jabbing his finger toward Daniel he closed the gap between them as Daniel raised his chin in a "bring it on" kind of way.
"If you're referring to last weekend," Jack snarled, "that was my barbecue apron and I only wore it for the pockets. Maybe you've forgotten, but I'm doing both of our chores now so instead of heaping derision on me, maybe a little thank you would be in order."
"VERY little thank you," Daniel was one level below shouting, "considering the layer of dust that's still on the mantle."
"Ah HA!!" Jack waved his finger triumphantly in Daniel's face. "NOW who's obsessing over housework!"
A thunderous voice booming "Cease this prattle!" startled them both into silence. As one they turned toward the doorway where Teal'c stood.
"Upon your return to your domicile, you may quarrel all you wish but for now you will conduct yourselves as befitting your rank and position within this facility."
Teal'c's face was stern, his voice hard, and Jack could feel every one of the decades the Jaffa had spent as First Prime coming to bear on him and Daniel. Sam stood next to Teal'c, arms crossed, radiating disapproval. The rapid click of high heels heralded the return of Janet who pushed past Teal'c and Sam, already chewing out Jack and Daniel.
"What the hell is going on in here?" Janet was definitely ticked off. "You two are left alone for a few minutes and it turns into world war three. I could hear you down the hallway. Don't you have any sense of decorum?"
Jack pointed at Daniel who was pointing at him, as they declared in unison, "He started it!"
Mouth drawn into a thin line, hands on hips, Janet advanced on them. "Well, I'm ending it. Now, sit! Both of you."
They hurried to obey. Fraiser was small but mighty and no one in his right mind wanted to get on her short list. Jack was sitting on the bed in an instant. Hampered by his girth, Daniel was slower, grunting a little as he lifted himself up on the bed next to Jack.
"Our apologies." said Teal'c. "It was not our intent to intrude upon your personal examination."
"Yeah, we thought you'd be done by now," added Sam. She uncrossed her arms, letting them drop to her sides and Jack could she had a brown paper bag clutched in one hand.
With one last warning look at Jack and Daniel, Janet smiled at Teal'c and Sam. "I'm afraid that's my fault for being late. This shouldn't take too long, though. They can meet you in the commissary in about fifteen minutes.
"Great!" Sam held up the bag. "Chocolate walnut cookies will be waiting."
Teal'c nodded his goodbyes then he and Sam left.
Janet stepped away briefly and returned with Daniel's medical chart. She took Daniel's blood pressure, pulse, and temperature, marking the findings in his chart.
"This won't be as thorough as the exam you just had. It's more of a follow up. I take it the back pain hasn't abated?"
Daniel shook his head.
Janet sighed. "I thought so. While back pain is common especially during the later stages of pregnancy, the pain you've reported has been both more severe and more chronic in nature. I've spent the last few days doing research. One item of significance has to do with you being a man. A woman's spinal column is structurally different from yours, specifically in the lower back."
"Right," said Daniel. "The vertebrae there are more wedge shaped. It's one of the ways we can identify the gender of skeletal remains we find on a site."
"Exactly," continued Janet. "Wedge shaped. Just like the stones you might find in the archway of an old building. When put together, the wedge shapes create the curve of that arch and allows the stone to support more weight than it would if it were straight. Now, in terms of biomechanics, what this means is that a woman's lower spine curves more as the pregnancy proceeds, allowing it to support the greater weight of the abdomen."
"So what does that mean for Daniel?" Jack put his hand on Daniel's knee, squeezing lightly.
Janet shrugged. "I'm not sure. The back aches he has are most likely because of his male spinal configuration. On the other hand, Nirrti's machine may have anticipated this and programmed a change to the spinal column to adapt. In that case, the back aches he's feeling could be from the vertebrae changing shape."
"Is there a way to find out?" Jack wasn't sure which would be worse - a normal spine and constant pain or an altered spine and decreasing pain. If Daniel's spine was changing, what would happen after the baby came? Would it revert or forever be altered? Come to think of it, what would happen to the womb?
"We could try an MRI and look at the shape of the vertebrae."
"But is that safe for the baby?" asked Daniel.
"All of the sources I checked suggest that it is but I will leave that decision up to you. However, regardless of whether you have the scan or not, I'm afraid I'm going to have to order partial bed rest for you.
"What? Bed rest?" Stunned, Daniel sat back. "No, no I can't. I have too much to do. I have to - "
"You have to think of the baby," Janet said firmly. "You don't need to lie flat, but you do need to recline at enough of an angle to take the pressure off of your lower back. You can still work, within reason, but you'll have to do it from home. After you meet Sam and Teal'c, you have one hour to get what you need from your office. As of now, you are officially on limited duty. You'll only come in for appointments or if you are requested by General Hammond. That's it. You can be up out of bed for no more than one hour at a time, for a cumulative total of four hours a day."
Daniel sat in silence, mouth agape and blinking rapidly. Jack knew how hard this would be for Daniel. He was a very active, very independent person. Curtailing his activities meant taking away his freedom. This would be difficult for Daniel to accept at first.
Jack pushed his shoulder into Daniel's. Daniel didn't push back.
"Look at the bright side," Jack said.
"What?" Daniel sounded as dejected as he looked. "What bright side?"
"Now you have first dibs on the recliner in the den."
That got Daniel's interest. "What, are you kidding? It's as much as my life is worth to touch that thing."
"Only during playoffs."
"You've made me wrestle you for it. Several times. And there were no playoffs for any sport of any kind involved."
"Yes, well, umm," Jack cleared his throat. "That was less about possession of the chair and more about the, um, manly grappling."
Daniel was staring at him. Janet was hiding her face beind Daniel's open file, but judging by the way the file was shaking, she was holding in a laugh.
"I know," said Jack. "I'm a jerk. But I'm your jerk, right?"
Daniel snorted, shaking his head, then began to chuckle. "Yeah, Jack. You're my jerk."
Having regained her composure, Janet put down the file. The corners of her mouth curled up as she tried not to smile. "On that note, gentlemen, you're dismissed."
One handed, Jack flipped the emesis basin in the air, caught it then flipped it again. And again. And again. He stood next to the infirmary bed where Daniel was resting. The head of the bed was raised so that Daniel could sit up while they waited for Janet who was at the other end of the infirmary patching up a slightly bruised Siler. Since Janet was tied up, Nurse Roberts had done Daniel's preliminary exam.
Roberts' first name was Clark and more than once "Nurse Kent" had been on the tip of Jack's tongue. It drove Daniel crazy when Jack screwed with people's names, which was half the fun. But this time, since Jack was already driving him crazy with the fidgety juggling, Jack had let it pass. Roberts had updated Daniel's chart, then left them to assist Janet with Siler. That had been ten minutes ago and Jack had already fiddled with everything else in arm's reach.
"This is pathetic," muttered Daniel.
Jack caught the basin and put it back on the rolling tray. "What is?" He put his hands in his pockets before he could reach for another item to fiddle with.
"Me," sighed Daniel. "For the past month the only time I've been out of the house is for my doctor's appointments. I actually look forward to them, now, just for the change of scenery."
Crap. Once he'd gotten over the shock of being put on bed rest, Daniel had complied wholeheartedly and without complaint so Jack had blithely gone about his business never once thinking of what it must be like for Daniel, stuck in the house.
"You've been outside in the yard. And you've gone to the grocery store with me." Right, because for a guy that visited strange new worlds for a living, being constrained to the back yard and the occasional errand wouldn't bother him at all. Jack could feel the guilt creeping up on him. Shit. He really should have thought of this sooner.
"I know," Daniel said glumly. "I just..." He sighed again. "Never mind."
"Hey." Jack palmed Daniel's shoulder. "There's that little park about 15 minutes from the house. Subtracting travel time, we'd have half an hour left of your one-hour limit, but that would be enough for a picnic lunch. How about we add that to our schedule on a regular basis?"
Jack's guilt deepened, when he saw the grateful smile on Daniel's face. Dammit, he really should have thought about this the minute the words "bed rest" came out of Fraiser's mouth.
Speaking of the doc - she had finally finished with Siler and was on her way over.
After pulling the privacy curtain around them, she picked up Daniel's chart, checking the vital signs recorded by the nurse. "Everything looks fine. How is everything? Anything new since I saw you last?"
Daniel hesitated so Jack spoke up. "There's something wrong with Daniel's treasure trail."
"Did you just say treasure trail to the person who is both our doctor and our friend?" Daniel seemed disconcerted.
"Well, yeah." Jack was confused. Now what had he done? "I'm sure she knows what it is."
"Could you not use a term with sexual connotations?" complained Daniel.
"What, like there's a clinical term for the line of hair leading from your belly button to your pubes?" Jack couldn't contain the sarcasm though he did manage not to point out that Janet was well aware of their sex life.
"Did you just say pubes?" Daniel sounded even more chagrined.
Janet patted his arm. "It's okay, Daniel. Patients use common terms all the time. It doesn't bother us doctors one bit. Now, just what do you mean by wrong?"
"Other than my belly button turning inside out?" Daniel joked. He put his fingers on the area he was talking about. "The skin there feels harder than the surrounding area, and Jack said there's something funny with the hairs. It started right after I saw you last week and has been getting more pronounced each day."
"Okay. Go ahead and drop trou for me so I can take a look at what's going on."
With a little help from Jack, Daniel peeled out of his pants, shoving them down to his knees. Janet palpated the line of hair and the skin a few inches to each side of it.
"Hmmm....I see what you mean. I can feel something under there. Let me get a better look".
Janet ducked out of the curtained area taking care returning immediately rolling a gadget in front of her. It was one of those magnifying lenses with lights on an adjustable stand. Plugging it in, she flicked on the light and continued her exam.
"There's another, more defined ridge running horizontally just above the pubic arch. Hmmm...you know, that's about where the incision for a C-section would go." Adjusting the lens, she peered closer, then gasped. "Oh my god!" Her voice was breathless with wonder. "It's Velcro!"
As one, Jack and Daniel exclaimed, "What?!"
Jack stuck his head next to Janet's, trying to see through the magnifying glass. Daniel was attempting the physically impossible feat of curling forward enough to see his underneath his giant belly.
"See there?" She pointed to the horizontal ridge. "If you look closely, this actually has two edges running parallel to each other." She waited for Jack's nod before continuing. "Now, look between those edges and you'll see extremely fine hairs. Notice that the hairs on the bottom edge are all looped. The hairs on the top edge are all curved into a hook shape."
"You're right. They are." It was the damnedest thing Jack had ever seen. "And that's Velcro?"
"Oh yes." Janet's fingers continued their gentle exploration as she talked. "Just look at both halves of a Velcro fastener and that's exactly what you'll see."
Although he couldn't see, Daniel could still participate. "The word Velcro itself is actually a mix of two French words - velours meaning velvet which is made of uncut pile so the threads are stil looped, and crochet meaning hook."
"Really?" Jack asked more out of surprise than doubt. If Daniel said something was so, then it was. "So, when my mom talked about using a crochet hook, she was actually saying a hook hook?"
Before Daniel could answer, Janet said, "Well, I think we have our answer as to how the baby will emerge. This is nowhere near done yet, but it looks as though your body is preparing a birth canal of sorts."
"What about the thickening up to the belly button?" asked Daniel.
"That's probably a structural support," Janet said thoughtfully. "Like a cross brace."
"I got you," said Jack. "Like the tougher lines woven into ripstop nylon."
"Rip?" The belly in the magnifying lens flinched as Daniel repeatedly nervously. "Rip?"
"Stop!" Jack added hastily as he looked up into wide, panicked eyes. Taking Daniel's hand in his, he gripped it reassuringly. Crap. Where was that brain to mouth filter when he needed it most? "Ripstop. Concentrate on the "stop" part of that, okay?"
Straightening up, Janet turned off the light and rolled the magnifier out of the way. "This is actually good news, Daniel. Now that I know what how your body is going to adapt, I can make more specific plans for the birth itself. For now, we'll keep to our regular appointment schedule, but Colonel, I'll need you to make daily observations so if there are any rapid changes we'll know right away."
With that, Janet stepped back through the curtain, leaving Jack to help Daniel dress and lurch off of the bed. Daniel still seemed nervous about the impending birth. Knowing the curtain hid them completely, Jack wrapped Daniel in a hug.
"Don't worry about having the baby, just think about what that means." He rocked a little, patting Daniel's back. "Not long now and you'll be a daddy."
"We." Muscles relaxed under Jack's touch as the tension eased from Daniel. "We'll be a daddy."
"Yep. We will." Jack patted Daniel one last time then released the hug. "Now come on. Let's get you home."
Jack had been true to his word about the park, making sure Daniel went there several times a week at different times of day. Today they arrived around 10:00 a.m., sitting at their usual picnic table under the trees. Sam and Teal'c were waiting for them, fresh from a stop at Starbucks. Jack sat across from Daniel, next to Teal'c, after helping Daniel settle on the bench next to Sam.
Normally, Daniel drank what Jack thought of as real coffee. Every now and then, though, Daniel had a hankering for one of the frou-frou coffee creations. While Jack sipped his black coffee with one sugar and Teal'c nursed his spiced chai, Sam and Daniel were each slurping up an extra large raspberry mochaccino with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. Judging by the yummy noises and blissful expressions, Sam and Daniel were very happy with their concoctions.
"You're sure that's decaf?" Jack asked Sam.
Sam rolled her eyes as Teal'c responded. "As Major Carter informed you the first several times you questioned her, she is well aware of Daniel Jackson's caffeine restriction and took great care to be certain that the coffee was decaffeinated, to the point of ordering both hers AND his as decaffeinated AND watching the preparation thereof from start to finish." There was an impatience in Teal'c's tone that was rarely heard. "The coffee is decaf."
"That's not coffee" groused Jack. If it were, then he wouldn't have to watch Daniel's pink tongue dart out to swipe whipped cream off of his lip. In public. Where Jack couldn't offer the use of his own tongue for that same purpose. "That's dessert."
"Think of it as culinary efficiency," suggested Sam with a grin. "It's two foods in one."
"It's sinfully delicious is what it is. Thanks for the treat, Sam. This really hit the spot." Daniel sucked a glob of whipped cream off the tip of his finger, closing his eyes as he hummed appreciatively.
Jesus, that was how Daniel looked when - Jack had to turn away, firmly squashing any thoughts of sex or how Daniel looked during it. Jack was already hard and getting harder. If Daniel didn't stop with the porny coffee love, Jack's pants were going to spontaneously combust.
In desperation, Jack mentally reviewed the SGC budget, specifically those areas the pricks at the Pentagon tried to cut for no good reason. Mentally composing a memo justifying the expenses, beginning with the salutation "You Pompous Pimply-Assed Dickheads" served as an excellent distraction, putting quite a damper on his libido. Crisis averted.
Daniel suddenly thumped his cup down on the table, a surprised look on his face, as he stared into the trees at the edge of the park. Everyone turned to see what he was looking at. Jack didn't know about the others, but he didn't see a thing out of the ordinary.
"Uh, guys?" Daniel's voice wavered. "I, um, I think my water broke."
Adrenaline slammed through Jack's system. "Carter, call Fraiser. Tell her we're on our way to the mountain. Teal'c, help me get him to the truck."
Sam flipped open her cell phone, clearing up their trash as she talked to Janet. Jack and Teal'c helped Daniel get up from the bench. It looked as though his waters had seeped through the new opening his body had created. The bottom of Daniel's untucked shirt had soaked up some of the fluid, but underneath the shirt, his pants were a mess. Daniel, of course, insisted he felt fine. Still, Jack held his elbow and Teal'c stood on the other side of him all the way to the parking lot, just in case. Jack kept an ear on Sam's half of the phone call as they walked.
"Okay, I will." Sam flipped the phone shut. "Janet said to remind you that water breaking does not necessarily mean he's gone into labor. It's the contractions we need to look for - how frequent, how long they last and how intense they are. Daniel could still have several hours before those start, though regardless the baby would need to be delivered within 24 hours."
Jack didn't feel reassured. All that advice was fine for a normal pregnancy which this definitely was not. Sure, most of what Daniel had gone through had been parallel to a woman's experience, but there wasn't anyone else on the planet with a Velcro flap for the baby to pop through. Who knew what else Nirrti's machine had done to improve the process? Jack had a feeling this baby's arrival was imminent.
They put Daniel in the back seat of the truck- also just in case, though Jack sincerely hoped that Daniel wouldn't give birth until he was in the mountain. The leather upholstery would be hell to clean. Teal'c sat in back with Daniel, while Sam rode shotgun.
The next thirty minutes took forever and took no time at all in that weird distorted way that time has of passing during an emergency. The first contraction hit Daniel en route to the mountain. It hit him hard, lasted over a minute, and was repeated not three minutes later.
Sam called Janet when it happened and stayed on the line, keeping her informed. Teal'c attended to Daniel as best he could. Jack, meanwhile, drove though traffic like the fighter pilot he was.
At the entrance to the SGC, they were met by Janet, Nurse Roberts, and two orderlies with a gurney. Daniel protested, but Janet put on her metaphorical Doctor hat and overruled him, for which Jack was heartily glad. He suspected that Daniel was glad, too, since three more contractions hit him in the short time it took to get down to the infirmary.
As the gurney was whisked over to an infirmary bed, Daniel spoke up. "Um, Janet. I really need to go to bathroom."
Janet gave him an assessing glance before agreeing. "Okay, but take the Colonel with you. While you're in there, I want you to strip and put this on." She took the cloth gown that Nurse Roberts had brought over, and handed it to Daniel who eyed the gown with distaste, but immediately got off the gurney.
As soon as they were alone in the bathroom adjoining the infirmary, Jack gave Daniel a quick kiss and ruffled his hair. "You doing okay?"
"I guess." Daniel undressed as he talked. "Remember when the water sterilization tablets didn't work on M98-GR3?" Handing his glasses to Jack, he pulled off his shirt. Built to accommodate convalescing personnel who might need wheelchairs or attendants, the room was large enough for both men to maneuver easily.
"Vividly." Jack tucked the glasses down the collar of his shirt, then knelt to unlace Daniel's shoes. "We all got Montezuma's Revenge - except Teal'c of course. I don't ever want to do that again. Why? Is that what the contractions are like?"
Daniel nodded as he stepped out of his pants. He made use of the solid metal bar bolted into the wall next to the lone toilet to get seated.
"Damn." Jack winced in sympathy. Nothing like three days worth of ferocious cramps and diarrhea to remind you why it's not a good idea to drink the local water. "No wonder you wanted to hit the head first."
Turning his back, Jack folded up the clothes while Daniel took care of business. As soon as he heard the flush, he handed Daniel the dreaded backless gown then helped him up.
"Better hurry," he said as Daniel washed his hands, "You're due for another contraction any second now." He handed over Daniel's glasses.
"I know," Daniel said grimly. "Can't say I'm looking forward to that."
They left the bathroom to find that the infirmary had been cleared of all personnel except Doc Fraiser and Nurse Roberts. Daniel made it to the bed without incident, but no sooner had Roberts hooked up the last of the monitors, when the next contraction started and it was a doozy. More intense, and longer lasting than any of the others, it left Daniel panting for breath.
Janet frowned at the readouts. "Okay, this may be progressing much faster than I anticipated. Daniel, you - "
Daniel cut her off. "I have to kneel."
Jack shook his head. "Why don't you just lie there so the doc -"
"No!" Daniel was emphatic, already moving on the bed. "No, I have to kneel."
"It's okay, Colonel. A large percentage of women get the urge to squat or kneel during labor," explained Janet. "The position lets them bear down more forcefully. I think Daniel should be allowed to follow his instincts. If he's feeling that same urge, we should let him do it."
The moment Janet nodded permission, Jack and Roberts stepped to opposite sides of the bed to lend a hand. Shaky and breathless Daniel scrambled into place, kneeling in the center of the bed. Roberts went back to the monitoring equipment, but Jack stayed where he was, holding Daniel's hand for balance and support. Jack's other hand was on Daniel's back, rubbing in soothing circles over Daniel's quivering muscles.
Come to think of it, Jack's ex-wife Sara had felt the compulsion to squat many times during the hours she was in labor. Granted, the urge had come over her while she was pacing the room, not while lying in bed, but Jack had helped her then as he helped Daniel now.
Janet used her best professional voice. "Daniel, now that you're upright, we can't keep the gown out of the way so that we can see. You'll have to take it off."
Daniel's lips flattened into a thin line as he flushed. The muscles under Jack's palm stiffened. Jack couldn't blame Daniel for being embarrassed. It was bad enough being the center of attention even without being totally naked. But Daniel had never let personal discomfort stand in the way of what had to be done. The gown came off as the next contraction began.
This time, the velcro seal at the top of Daniel's pubic area began to widen.
After that, everything was a blur of beeping monitors, Janet calling out instructions, and Daniel breathing hard and pushing harder. Far more quickly than Jack had imagined, Daniel delivered their baby. Janet clipped off the umbilical cord and Jack had the honor of cutting it. Roberts whisked the baby away for clean up and measuring. Janet had warned them that it might be an hour or so before the afterbirth would be expelled. Apparently, Nirrti's machine had changed that schedule, too, as the placenta appeared right then.
Finally, the birth over, Daniel and the baby had both been cleaned up. Daniel lay in a fresh new bed, the sleeping baby bundled up in his arms. Jack perched one butt cheek on the bed next to Daniel, one hand resting on the back of Daniel's neck as they got acquainted with their daughter.
"Daniel, do you feel up to having visitors?" asked Janet. "If so, there are some anxious people outside who would like to say hello."
Without taking his eyes off of the tiny face in his arms, Daniel said. "That's fine. Just give us a few minutes first, if you don't mind."
"No problem." Janet patted his leg through the covers. "Congratulations, you two." Gesturing for Nurse Roberts to come with her, she left the room.
Jack was overcome with awe. There was a reason it was called the miracle of birth, and this one was more miraculous than most. "She's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. She's perfect. Let's call her Mary Sue."
"No." Daniel wrinkled his nose in distaste. "There's no way I'm having a Mary Sue for a daughter." Hesitating, he asked, "Do you mind if we name her Claire after my mother?"
"That would be nice. What about a middle name, though?"
"I thought maybe...I know Belle is actually your mother's nickname. What's her real name?
Jack cleared his throat. "Gertrude Hortense."
Daniel's face lost all expression as his eyes blinked rapidly.
"Yeah. I know." Jack nodded. "Why do you think she went by Belle?"
Jack had been thinking seriously about baby names for a while now. While he had hesitated to mention this particular name for fear of dredging up painful memories, there was another special woman from Daniel's past that deserved a legacy. Deserved to be remembered.
Uncertain of how his partner would react, Jack quietly suggested, "I have a better idea. How about we call her Claire Shar'e?"
Daniel got a misty, far away look. Closing his eyes, he hugged the baby tighter for a moment then opened his eyes and smiled at Jack. "Claire Shar'e O'Neill Jackson it is."
Daniel was sniffling a bit, but it seemed like the good kind of sniffling. The 'overcome by tender feelings' kind. Jack had been so busy observing Daniel for signs of upset that he almost missed the significance of the full name. Now it was Jack's turn to get misty eyed. "O'Neill Jackson? You'll put my name in there, too?"
"Yeah. I mean, she is a joint venture so to speak." Daniel's lips curved into a sweet smile as he reached one hand out to cup Jack's face.
Jack leaned into the caress then pressed a kiss to the palm.
There was a quick rap on the door, then Janet poked her head in. "Do you need another few minutes?"
Jack shook his head. "Naw, we're good. Bring 'em in."
Janet held the door open for Sam, Teal'c and General Hammond. Everyone crowded around the bed offering congratulations and admiring the baby. Her name was met with blanket approval.
"I must say," observed Hammond, "that was one of the quickest deliveries I've ever heard of."
"Little Claire slid out like a greased pig on ice," said Jack. He thought it was the perfect description, but judging from the looks being tossed his way, it needed work.
Teal'c was the only one to comment. "What a charming way to describe the birth of one's child."
"Hey, that was sarcasm." Pleased, Jack lightly punched Teal'c in the shoulder. "Way to go, big guy. Nicely done."
Sam put her finger to the baby's hand and the baby's little fingers grabbed on. "She didn't even wake up." Sam had a megawatt smile. "She's so beautiful. She seems so special."
"Of course she's special." Jack bragged, smiling proudly. "She's the daughter of a special ops colonel and a formerly Ascended genius."
"Wonder what traits she'll get from each of you?" mused Sam as she pulled her hand back.
"Hopefully," said Jack, "she'll get Daniel's brain and my reflexes."
"I think she's got your mouth and maybe your hands," said Daniel.
Jack gently brushed the top of the Claire's head, then frowned. It was barely perceptible, but she seemed...lighter...brighter somehow.
Hammond pointed in disbelief. "Is...is the baby..."
Jaws dropped as everyone gaped liked stunned mullets at the softly glowing baby. Jack was the first to recover.
With an accusing look at Daniel, Jack said, "Okay. That? She gets from you."
"I'm not the one with the ancient genes," protested Daniel.
"You used to bean ancient."
The glow faded.
"Maybe she won't do that again," Daniel said doubtfully.
Jack snorted. "Or maybe she'll be her own nightlight every night. We'll just have to wait and see."
Daniel nodded thoughtfully. "In that respect, I guess she's no different than any other child. Every child is special in some way, their parents just have to wait and see what it will be."
From here on in their routine would be full of feedings, dirty diapers, crying, and sleep deprivation not to mention discovering what special tricks Claire had up her sleeve. It was going to be hard exhausting work and Jack wouldn't trade it for the world.
|Genres:||Established Relationship, Humor|
|Summary:||Jack and Daniel bicker their way through the long months of Daniel's pregnancy.|
Many thanks to my betas: Mare, Barb, and AnnO