Doubts and Certainties
"Wow. Now, that looks familiar. Is all that for Cassie?"
Dr. Janet Frasier looked up from the stack of forms that had entirely
consumed her attention. She blinked owlishly up at the crumpled and dusty
form of Daniel Jackson. He quirked a smile and took a long sip from his
coffee mug. The commissary was quiet, for once. It was hard to mark time
down here, with only clock faces and the rhythms of the various shifts
coming on and going off-duty. Night could take you by surprise, with no
windows to mark the passage of the sun into twilight. Janet glanced at her
watch absently and rubbed the back of her neck. Two AM. Oh-two-hundred.
"Yeah. I was trying to get these filled in so I could get them in the mail
tomorrow. Today." She glared at the forms in disgust.
"Addendum 25-AE1: Parental and/or Familial Rights, Termination of." Daniel
read the top form upside down, squinting a bit behind the smudged and dusty
lenses of his glasses. "I thought General Hammond was taking care of all
of this." Inhaling another deep, energy restoring gulp of coffee, he sat
across from her and gathered up the sheaf of forms in one hand.
"You're getting PX1-784 all over the form, Dr. Jackson," she said sternly.
"Jack said you were done cataloging all of the artifacts you brought back."
She was actually glad of a change in topic; the legal double-speak was
giving her a headache.
"Hmm. Well. Jack thinks cataloging has something to do with ordering L L
Bean over the phone rather than online." He carefully wiped his dusty
hands on his equally dusty fatigues and began leafing through the forms.
"I think there are actually more forms now than when I first sat down.
Amazing how they multiply, isn't it?"
"I never knew adoption would be so difficult." Janet sat back in her chair
with a sigh. "I wish I knew if I was doing the right thing, Doc...Daniel."
Jackson did not look up from the forms, but his tone had taken on an intent
quality, "How do you mean, Doc.Janet."
The coffee maker chose that moment to begin gurgling, signaling a fresh
infusion of ambrosia. Cup in hand, Janet rose tiredly. "Well, I've never
been a mother before. And.I have my work. Will I have enough time for
her? Will I have to completely change my life around for her? What will
my folks say?" She adulterated her coffee with an ample dose of cream and
sugar. "What will my cat think?" She turned back to the table and was
treated to a rare sight: Doctor Daniel Jackson, laughing. Granted, it was
a silent kind of laughter. More of an amused shrugging of his shoulders.
Still, a rarity and a sight to be treasured.
"Your cat?" He said at last, his eyes crinkling with suppressed snickers.
He wiped the corners of his eyes and finished his coffee, shaking his head
"I know, I know.but you think of stuff like that at two in the morning. So
sue me." Janet had to laugh at herself.
Pulling three forms from the daunting stack, he laid them aside and shoved
the rest back into the FedEx envelope. "These are the only ones you need
to worry about. Just give the rest to the General along with your lawyer's
phone number. That's what they both get paid for. Dealing with the
paperwork." Placing the forms on the table, he rose to go.
Something tickled the back of Janet's mind as he headed for the door to
return to his cataloging. "Wait a sec, Daniel. How do you know so much
about these forms? Your records don't show an adoption."
"Nope. I was a foster kid until I was sixteen and could escape to the not
so hallowed halls of academia."
Daniel paused at the door, looking down at the empty mug in hand. "There
was one family, when I was ten. They came close." He paused, looking back
at the FedEx folder. Janet's question hung unspoken in the too-quiet room.
He answered, looking away. "Too much paperwork. They couldn't deal with
Then he met Janet's eyes, and he began to laugh silently once again, his
own eyes crinkling as he took in her sad and somber expression. "Just
kidding, Janet. Really."
The tension crumpled again and she threw the plastic salt shaker from the
table at him. "Bastard. You got me."
"Ow. You have good aim, Doc." He rubbed his shoulder ruefully. "Even my
life isn't that much of a Greek tragedy." He made mournful eyes and
intoned, "Tooooo much paperwork." and held a dramatic hand to his forehead
in a 'B' movie heroine-swoon. The pepper clipped his hip, followed by
several wadded up napkins, most of which he volleyed back.
"Jerk! Doofus! Jackass!"
"That's Daniel-ass to you. One Jackass in the SGC is enough."
"Just you wait until you come back all battered from some PTHX11Whatever
wanting to get patched up in MY infirmary.."
"Put down the napkin holder, Janet. It might be loaded."
"You're just lucky they ran out of coconut cream pie this evening."
"A food fight? At our age? I'm appalled."
Soon, both combatants were collapsed on the floor, holding aching sides and
trying to catch their breaths. "Truce. Pax. I give up." Daniel gasped.
"I accept your unconditional surrender, Dr. Jackson, and declare myself
Queen of the Commissary. Ta-rah."
"Heh. You're gonna be a great mom, Janet. Don't ever doubt you're doing
the right thing." The mood was abruptly serious again, the laughing eyes
looking deeply into her own and turning a bit sad. "When I was a kid, I'd
swipe copies of those forms from my social worker's files and practice
filling them out. Just in case. I never stopped hoping for a forever
family. For someone to throw napkins at, or tell me that reading in the
dark would ruin my eyes." He quirked a half smile, the dirty lenses of his
glasses glinting in the harsh lights of the commissary. "You're just what
Cassie needs, Janet. Someone to love her. Don't doubt that." He heaved
himself gracefully to his feet and began gathering up napkins.
It took a little longer for Janet to catch her breath. The lump in her
throat matched the burning in her eyes as the big, gangly man scrabbled
under a table for the salt shaker from her first volley. Talking to Daniel
was sometimes like walking on thin ice. There were dangerous depths there,
and a footstep unwisely trod would send you to a place where your heart
Deeply thankful that he did not comment on her continued silence, Janet
picked herself up at last and refilled Daniel's coffee mug. She handed it
to him after he deposited the last of her paper missiles in the trashcan.
"Oh, that's what I came down here for. Thanks, Doc." He took a long sip
and sighed. "I gotta stop working so late. We're going on a mission
tomorrow. Sam says its called P3X1124. I personally think we need to
start coming up with better names for these planets. The one's that don't
have names, that is. I wonder if P3X1124 is nice this time of year." He
was babbling now, Janet noted. A sure sign of fatigue.
"You'll find out soon enough. Go to bed, Daniel. Doctor's orders." Janet
tried to stiffen her tone to a professional standard. Then she softened.
"Mom's orders, too. Git."
And, surprisingly enough, Daniel Got.
Janet stopped by the VIP room where Cassie stayed the nights Janet was on
duty. She was there now, sleeping peacefully, her mussed hair fanned
across the pillow and her arm clutching the rag doll Carter had given her
on her last visit. Janet looked in from the door and the little girl, her
daughter to be, opened sleepy eyes and said, "Mama?"
"I'm here, dearheart. Go on back to sleep." And she watched from the door
until the increased activity in the halls told her the sun was coming up
soon. The papers in her hands seemed to fill themselves out as she stood
there. The whole packet would be handed to the General in an hour or so.
Then, it would be a done deal. "But I'm already there. Mama." The
diminutive woman hugged herself a little, then shut the door and headed for
the General's office.