Easy to Forget, Hard to Remember
by Jennamajig


SUMMARY: Birthdays have deeper meanings for a child.
SEASON/SPOILERS: None.

DISCLAIMER: The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.


"You'll like it. You'll see."

She patted her son's blond head and removed the stuffed giraffe from his little hands. Carefully, she placed it in the suitcase and closed the lid. Turning back to him, she saw his unsure eyes.

"America will be different, Daniel. But a good different."

His lips trembled. "But I like it here."

Claire sighed. They were leaving Egypt. The latest set of digs completed, she and her husband were back to New York, to set up for the exhibit of a lifetime. Or at least she thought it would be. She had a feeling it would change not only her and Melbourne's lives, but Daniel's as well.

He'll like America, she told herself. It was only the matter of getting him there. "America will be nice, too. New York has lots of things to do." No response. Time to try a different approach. "And when we get there, it will be close to your birthday. You'll get a birthday cake. With ice cream."

"With ice cream?" She smiled. Daniel rarely experienced cakes, let alone ice cream. Both were hard to stop for in the dessert. Even in their tiny apartment in town, the sweets were far and few between.

"Sure. Six is an important birthday." She sat down on the bed, picking up Daniel and sitting him on her lap. She couldn't help groaning. Daniel might be a little small for his age, but he was still getting heavy.

"Six is very important. When we get to America, you'll get to go to school. You'll meet other kids."

A small sniffle. "If I don't turn six, do we still have to go?"

She almost laughed out loud. "Oh, Danny. You can't not turn six." She tilted his head up towards her. "You don't want to forget your birthday. It's the one day where everyone reminds you how special you are. You can't change that."

He blinked, mulling her words over, and she released him, setting him down on the floor.


Two years later, the words rang through his head.

Special.

America was different. They'd been there less then a week. He followed his parents to the museum as they set up. Eyed everything and asked countless questions. They smiled, proud of their inquisitive child. He stood back, rocking in his new pair of sneakers, clutching the ice cream cone his mother had snuck in for him after lunch. He ate and watched.

Watched the chain break and his mother scream. Watched them both disappear. The ice cream dropped to the ground as he was led away as he called for mommy and daddy.

Two years had passed. He didn't have a birthday cake that year. He was shoved in a foster home before the funeral with only his sneakers to remind him of them. Even his beloved giraffe was gone. The family was nice, but he didn't speak, so they had no idea it was birthday. He didn't speak until two foster homes later. Then it was too late.

The next year was forgotten as well. Another family – this one not so nice. A feuding couple using foster care money for personal gain rather then childcare. They weren't down right mean; they simply didn't care. His birthday was forgotten, along with the two other children in their care.

This year was different. His grandfather. The social worker said they finally found his grandfather and that he was coming to America to see him. Daniel had visions of a happy birthday. His grandfather would pat his head, and take him for ice cream.

"You don't want to forget your birthday. It's the one day where everyone reminds you how special you are. You can't change that."

Nick wouldn't forget his birthday.

Daniel had met his mother's father once. The first thing out of his mouth was "Grandpa" but he was gently told to call him "Nick." Daniel thought it strange; his mother said he was his grandfather. It didn't matter though. He was coming.

Coming to get him.


"I have to go."

The tears threatened and he pushed them away. No tears, he told himself. Eight year olds don't cry.

It was one day until his eighth birthday. And Nick didn't care.

He was leaving.

Didn't even realize it was so close to his special day. Mom would know it was his special day. Dad would remember.

Nick forgot.

"I can't take a child with me, Daniel. Surely you understand."

Daniel nodded, even though it was far from the truth. His current foster mother, Mrs. Carson, stepped up and touched his shoulder. Nick paused and then got up.

He heard his social worker in the background. ". . . the Carsons are interested in possibly adopting Daniel. You'll have to sign some papers."

Daniel turned at the words. The Carsons wanted to adopt him? Him? Mrs. Carson, who make great chocolate walnut cookies and Mr. Carson, who bought books home for him to read and didn't mind when he dug up the backyard `excavating'? The couple that wouldn't forget his birthday was tomorrow? They wanted him?

"Adopt him? Oh no, I can't allow that."

Tears threatened again. Harsh words were said, but they blended in. Nick wouldn't sign. He didn't sign. He headed back to the Carsons' empty handed.


"Happy Birthday, Daniel."

Mrs. Carson sat on the edge of the bed. Daniel had placed himself there yesterday afternoon and hadn't moved since. Not even for dinner.

"I brought some cookies." She placed the plate by his head. "And a present."

He blinked and turned, his face betraying the tears he tried so hard to hold back. Mrs. Carson smiled and held her arms out.

"I know you are getting to old for stuffed animals, but I've had this since I was little and it's helped me through some tough times."

She held out a beat up giraffe, in surprisingly good condition for the amount of years it had seen. He blinked again.

"This way, you'll always have someone with you where ever you go." She put it in his lap.

"I used to have a giraffe." His voice was soft, and she leaned closer to hear him. "But it got lost when "

"You don't want to forget your birthday. It's the one day where everyone reminds you how special you are. You can't change that."

"Happy birthday. He'll be what you need," Mrs. Carson said, shifting next to Daniel and somehow getting him in her arms. She smiled. "Don't forget you're a special little boy. Even if everyone in the world can't see it. They're just wrong."

He missed his mother.

***-

"I can't take a child with me, Daniel. Surely you understand."

He woke up, the scene haunting him. That night, he had a birthday. Mrs. Carson made a cake. The other children sang `Happy Birthday.' Yet all he dreamt about was Nick's rejection. His blinked in the darkness and slipped out of bed toward the bathroom.

"...couldn't tell him tonight, Josh. It's his birthday. He deserved a day of happiness after the whole thing with his grandfather."

A sigh. "I know, Marie. But the social worker will be here the day after tomorrow. We have had him for three months. They don't want him to get attached. It will make it harder. We don't have a choice."

He didn't stay to hear her response. He went back to bed, curled up in the sheets, and cried. Again.

Maybe one year he'd get that birthday again. The one where Mom and Dad sang off-key. Where they wrote `Happy Birthday' in the sand and made him trace the letters.

America was different. His birthday still came.

But it was getting harder to remember he was special.


He turned the giraffe over in his hands. Its plush was almost no more and dust clung to its surface.

"Daniel! You coming?"

Daniel looked up to see Jack poking his head in the door. "It's your birthday. And I wouldn't leave Carter alone with the cake for too long. It's chocolate and after the way she bit our heads off yesterday, I wouldn't be surprised if there's nothing left."

Daniel smiled. Jack was lucky Sam didn't hear that. "I'm coming. Just reminiscing. Tell Sam hands off my cake." He heard Jack retreat into the hall.

"You don't want to forget your birthday. It's the one day where everyone reminds you how special you are. You can't change that."

He put the giraffe back on his desk. His mother was right. For the first time in years, he felt special.

It just took a little time and the right people to remember.


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