He looked toward the house. There was a light on. It was only about 9:00 after all. It occurred to him that Janet may well have seen his car parked out on the street and wondered why he was just sitting there, not coming in. He really couldn't just drive away. She didn't deserve that. He got out of the car and walked to the front door, very slowly, still uncertain as to what he would do or say when she answered it. He didn't need to ring the bell because the door opened just as he got there and Janet stood haloed by the light from behind her. She took his hand, drew him into the house, and closed the door.
She reached up and touched his cheek. "It's bad, isn't it?"
"She is so wonderful," he thought. "She focuses on me, not some other guy. She sees how I'm feeling, really sees me." He allowed her to lead him into the dimly lit living room and pull him down on the couch.
"Where's Cass?" he asked making conversation, not brilliant conversation, but conversation.
Janet waved her hand dismissively. "She's up in her room. She just took a call and she'll be up there forever." She squeezed his hand and said, "What happened, Danny?"
He studied his hand, clasped in hers. "Sam told us, Jack and me. She told us about the babies."
Janet gasped. "When?" Then she said, weakly, answering her own question, "Tonight. You mean she told you tonight?"
He nodded mutely. "Oh, Danny, I thought she told you weeks ago. I never…" she trailed off, obviously upset.
He turned then and cupped her face in his hands. "I figured out that you must have thought I knew. And I know she told you she didn't mind if you dated me."
"She told you that?" Janet said, a little incredulously.
"No. What she did do was turn down my marriage proposal. Flat. It was pretty clear how she still visualizes me as the friendly neighborhood eunuch instead of a man."
"She is an absolute fool," Janet said vehemently.
Daniel smiled. "The sun coming out from behind the clouds," Janet thought, lost in his eyes.
"You really believe that, don't you?" he said tenderly.
"Don't ever doubt it," Janet whispered softly and kissed him, a kiss like a benediction.
Daniel reached past her and turned on the heavy bronze floor lamp, flooding her face with soft light. "I want to look at your dear face," he said. He smoothed a hand across her hair. "I've been walking around for years emotionally anemic, bleeding from the thousand little cuts she gives me without meaning to. She rips me to shreds and you heal me." He paused a moment and then said, "I fell in love with Sam while I was still mourning Sha're."
Janet raised her eyebrows and he said, "Yeah, I'm admitting it. I've been in love with Sam for a long time, too long. But I tell you that, about Sha're and Sam, so that you know, so that you can believe, that loving Sam doesn't prevent me from falling in love with you."
Janet looked at him, clearly not sure she was understanding. She said slowly, "You love me? Is that what you're saying? I mean, you just proposed to Sam. I want to believe you but it seems awfully fast."
"I proposed to her because she's carrying my child. That's what a man does." He pulled Janet across his lap and into his arms. "These last few weeks with you have been so wonderful. I had almost walled off my feelings for her. Tonight she put up the rest of the wall. It's over. I'm free."
He could tell she was still unconvinced. "You need to trust my feelings for you totally. We haven't been intimate yet, not completely, and that should wait until you really believe in us."
"Could you be any more perfect," she purred. "Let's explore what we can do."
Three weeks later the Tokra code was transmitted through the gate and a spare, grey haired man walked down the ramp. George Hammond met him and they hugged affectionately. "Where's my little girl?" Jacob asked his old friend.
"She's in her office. I'll walk you there," Hammond said easily, clapping Jacob on the shoulder and steering him out of the gateroom.
Out of the corner of his eye, Jacob noticed a couple of the men on duty, looking at him sideways and sniggering. "Is something going on, George?" he asked. "Sam's message was a masterpiece of non-information, hedged about with reassurances, that although it was important that I come, everything was all right."
"She really is okay, Jacob, just dealing with some changes," came the only moderately reassuring reply.
When they reached the door of Sam's office, Hammond clapped Jacob on the shoulder again and said, "I'd like to spend some time visiting with you later."
Jacob nodded and returned Hammond's half salute as he disappeared around the corner. He rapped softly and entered Sam's office without waiting. She was sitting at her desk. When she saw him, he was dismayed to see how uncertain her smile was. He was also appalled by her butch haircut. What had she been thinking? She didn't get up to meet him but, instead, reached out for him to come to her and give her a hug. He did so gladly but the strangeness of all of it didn't mitigate his growing unease.
He sat on the edge of her guest chair and said, "Sammy, what's going on?"
"General Hammond said he told you about our captivity and rescue? I saw you looking at my head. Don't try to deny it," she said as an aside seeing the expression on his face. "I know it looks awful. They kept my head shaved."
"No torture, right? George said you weren't harmed."
"It depends on how you define harmed. We don't know how they did it. It might have been using in vitro embryos. It might have been artificial insemination. Whatever. The upshot is they made me pregnant." She stood up for just a second to give him the full effect.
"With some sort of alien baby?" Jacob could barely get it out.
"No. And no. It's two babies, twins. They're mine and Jack and Daniel are their fathers."
Jacob was on his feet immediately, resting his hands on the desk and leaning toward her. "What, may I ask, are they planning on doing about it?"
"Dad, wait a minute here. This isn't like we were lovers or they raped me or something. They were made fathers without their consent. They're going to be there for the babies, act like fathers."
Jacob got hold of himself with a visible effort. "Daniel surely offered to marry you."
Sam was very surprised. "How did you know that?"
Jacob rolled his eyes. "Sam, you may be certifiably brilliant but in some area of life, you are a complete moron."
"Dad," Sam said with asperity,"I don't need that."
"It's true. The man has been in love with you forever and he's a very decent guy. There is no way he wouldn't propose to the woman carrying his child, particularly when he loves her so much."
"So, what are the wedding plans?" Jacob said, listening with half a mind, communing with Selmak and trying figure how much and when he could be on earth.
"There's no wedding planned. I turned him down," Sam said, sounding very tired.
"You what?" Jacob was back on his feet, leaning on her desk again. "Sam, please, please reconsider. You love the guy. He's your very best friend. That's the basis for a good marriage."
"What about passion? What about being IN love? I want what you and Mom had," Sam said brushing away a tear.
Jacob closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Sam, I'm going to tell you something that you can never repeat, particularly to Mark. I didn't ever want you to know. Your mother and I had to get married because she was pregnant with your brother. She was the girl next door, my very good friend, but it wasn't all those things you just said, not at first. We were good Catholic kids and it never occurred to us that we had any option other than making it work."
Sam was looking at him aghast. "But you weren't in love with someone else. It wasn't the same."
"How do you know Sammy?" her father asked. He sighed. "Just out of curiosity, am I correct in assuming that Jack did not ask you to marry him?"
Sam said nothing. Jacob nodded. "You don't love Jack, Sam. You love the idea of Jack. How much companionship have you ever actually had with him? Huh? Long conversations? What would the two of you talk about in between bouts of wild monkey sex? And, by the way, he's almost as old as I am. The amount of wild monkey anything he's got in him – even given the famous gate effect they're beginning to suspect rejuvenates those of us with years of travel – is not going to be all that much."
Jacob was struck with another thought. He asked, deeply concerned, "How are they going to save your career and Jack's when the real reason is classified? It just looks like you guys fraternized big time."
Sam sighed. "Yeah, that's a mess. General Hammond put something in our records that makes it clear that neither of us did anything we shouldn't have but that what happened is classified. The official story, and its been spread to everyone who knows the real one, is that my biological clock went off. I asked both Jack and Daniel to be donors, and rather than make a choice, I used both donations." She saw that her father was still looking solemn. "You don't think it's going to work, do you?"
Jacob said, "I know you want the truth, not something to make you feel better. The truth is it can't help but slow you down a little. Your rate of promotion, you know. There'll always be people who will wonder. But considering what a high achiever you are, it won't be catastrophic."
Sam made a face and then said, "Thanks for the honesty, Dad. Jack and I talked about it a little and that's the read we both had."
Jacob laced his fingers together and closed his eyes for a moment. "Sam, I know I've been way out of line telling you what to do here. I just don't want you to make a mistake." He got up and said briskly, "Okay. Take me out and get me my annual huge juicy hamburger and fries."
Jacob stayed for two days. He didn't bring up Daniel again until he was about to step on the ramp and walk through the gate. He hugged her and said, "Think about, Sam."
Thinking about it became all she could do. She got up in morning and she looked in the mirror and she saw a woman with very little hair in a maternity uniform. Each morning she was a little more willing to consider marrying Daniel, but, looking in the mirror, a little less confident that she had what it took to take him back from Janet.
She felt like an almost universal object of pity. People talked in hushed tones around her as if she had terminal cancer. Not for her the typical questions for pregnant women like what was she going to name it? Did she know the sex? Did she want to know the sex? Instead most people pretended, very ineptly, that they didn't notice anything at all.
Almost the entire base knew the real story about the alien experimentation she had been subjected to even though they dutifully repeated the official one about artificial insemination. Everyone knew who her babies' fathers were. The alternative would have been to let people think she was carrying alien babies. She had been joking to herself when she had predicted it but there actually were people who believed that her pregnancies had been conceived the good old fashioned way. To these people, the real story just seemed a smoke screen for some good old fashion prison sex.
She was off SG-1 until after the babies were born and assigned various research activities on base. Hell, thinking about her responsibilities to her children, she would probably never go off-world again. This didn't help her frame of mind. There was one ray of sunshine, Teal'c. He had stayed away from her for the first few weeks after they were rescued. Finally she had cornered him and demanded an explanation.
"I have dishonored myself and am not worthy to be your friend," he had said, keeping his eyes lowered.
"You did what? I don't see it Teal'c. If you hadn't been better than the rest of us at avoiding capture, clever about scouting out what they did with us, and bringing in help, we'd still be there," Sam had said, very surprised at his perspective.
"I ran MajorCarter. I did not stay and fight," he said, making no excuses for himself.
"To fight another day, Teal'c. If you had stood your ground, we would all have been captured. None of us, NONE of us, believe you did the wrong thing."
He had looked up at her then and a huge grin had broken over his face. "Thank you MajorCarter," was all he had said but it had clearly made a world of difference to him. From that point forward, he stopped by on a daily basis, when he wasn't off-world, and seemed to have no problem behaving completely naturally with her.
The same could not be said for Daniel and Jack. Jack dutifully showed up every couple of days to ask how she was feeling and if there was anything she needed. He was very interested in looking at the ultrasound and any information at all she had to offer about their child. But other than the child itself, their conversations were extremely superficial and never went anywhere near the themes they had talked about at his house.
Daniel, on the other hand, called her on the phone every other day or sent e-mail. It had been a couple of weeks since she had actually seen him in person. When they'd had misunderstandings in the past, he had always been conciliatory, even when it wasn't mainly or, even in any significant way, his fault. Looking back on it, he had been one of the most forgiving people she had ever met and he had never avoided her. She began to realize that whether she was romantically in love with him or not, she had to have him in her life to be happy.
Sam began visiting their dream house regularly in her mind and pushing the boundaries of the imaginings to a complete marriage, testing the waters, and trying to understand herself.
She walks into the bedroom and drops like a stone on their queen sized, four-poster bed. All she can do is lie there, sprawled out full length on her stomach. Suddenly the bed sags next to her and strong hands begin kneading her back, her neck. It feels wonderful. She starts to feel drowsy but then the massage goes from one you could get from your physical therapist to one she imagines is available from those folks at that sort of seedy massage place on the run down commercial strip on the way out of town. He's massaging her buttocks but his hand strays frequently to other places in the neighborhood. Then he drops on top of her and starts kissing her neck and sliding his hands under her.
She rolls over and looks into his handsome face, blue eyes burning into blue eyes. He butterflies kisses on her eyes before kissing her deeply. She realizes that he isn't wearing a shirt. In fact he isn't wearing pants either. Suddenly she wants to be skin to skin and starts tugging ineffectually at her shirt. He smiles at her eagerness and slides off her long enough to quickly divest her of everything she is wearing as she lies there bonelessly, enjoying looking at him. He comes back to her and if it was good before, now it gets incredible.
Her decision made, Sam went to see Jack. He looked up surprised when she walked in to his office without knocking and shut the door behind her. All their contact since the night at his house had been initiated by him. "Can we talk?" she asked, sitting down.
"It looks like we're going to," he said, but without an edge.
She said, "I miss you being you. You've been so damn careful around me ever since our unfortunate little talk."
"I feel like a jerk, Sam," he said. "I hated saying all that stuff and I hated hurting you."
"Get over it, okay. I'm not upset with you and I'm in complete agreement with what you said. I need us to go back to being true friends who are comfortable with each other."
"Deal," he smiled. "Can we quit talking about feelings now?"
"If you'll help me get everyone on this base to start treating me like a normal pregnant woman. However I got pregnant, these children are a blessing and I love them already. I want to have full expectant mother experience."
Jack grinned. "All right. First thing then, we need to start talking about what we do to your house to really make it childproof and have a reasonable nursery or think about moving."
"I should have known you'd flash on the home improvement side of this, right away. Guy stuff. Tools. Not the layette." She grinned back. "And I want to have everyone over. Get back to being friends again. Would Sara come? Can she be my friend in this or would it be too hard for her?"
"We've talked about it a lot since you told me," Jack grimaced. "She did have a really hard time at first. I mean I couldn't tell her everything right? Aliens mugged you and left you pregnant. It's a little classified. But it all happened before we got back together and she's okay now."
"All right then. We'll do it this Friday and I'm counting on you to drag Daniel there."
Jack raised an eyebrow. "With Janet?"
Sam shrugged, "He wouldn't come without her, right?"
She left Jack's office feeling challenged but not down and out. Not yet. It couldn't be as hard as some of the astrophysics problems she had solved, could it? "People all over the world without half my intelligence," she told herself, not wasting time on false modesty, "Get their man right and left. I just need to start working on a solution." She decided to drop by the dream house.
Sam gets up out of bed and puts on a robe, looking at her sleepy, satisfied husband fondly. "Where are you going?" he asks groggily.
"I just have something I want to do," she says evasively. "I'll be right back."
She goes down to the garage and takes the sack out of the trunk, grabs a hammer and a nail and returns to the house. She decides that the blank wall in the laundry room is somewhere she will look at it several times a week. In the laundry room, she takes the small framed poster out of its sack and positions it on the wall. After marking the spot for the nail, she puts it back down. She is about to start hammering when Daniel shows up at the door, yawning and scratching his head. She should have known curiosity always drove her man, even when exhausted.
She drives the nail in the wall and hangs the poster up. Daniel squints at the very large letters and reads them with difficulty without his glasses. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." He turns to her with a quizzical expression, "Huh?"
"We're journeying through life together, right?"
He's sure she's lost it now. "Uh huh. And you just had to get up in the middle of the night and remind yourself of that?" He walks up behind her, kisses her hair fondly, and wraps his arms around her.
Back in her real house, Sam looked at herself in the mirror and, for the first time, found encouragement. Her hair was long enough that it had a sort of Audrey Hepburn thing going on and, as to her shape, her dad had told her that when her mother was pregnant with her, she had never looked more beautiful to him, that a man finds a woman carrying his child beautiful if he cares about her. Sam rested her hand on her respectably sized belly and said, "Good night, Jackie and Danny." She turned out the light, climbed into bed, silently asked the other member of her team for help, and told her babies, "Just watch your mama go."