In additional to my usual wonderful betas, Jess and Monica, I want to thank my medical advisers who went way out of their way to help me with this: Nerowill, Diana M. Nurse, and an obstetrics nurse in NJ who is choosing to remain nameless.
This story was written strictly for the purpose of entertainment. No attempt has been made to copyright any characters which may not have been originally created by the author, and no profit is made from this work of fiction. Any original characters and the stories themselves are the property of the author.
So far, Dr. Daniel Jackson had avoided cracking up outright but if he bit the inside of his cheek much more, it was going to start bleeding. His best friend, Colonel Jack O'Neill, had replaced his white shirt with a light blue one and his red tie with a navy tie and then a blue and red striped one. Daniel was mildly surprised Jack owned that many ties since the only tie he could remember seeing on him was the one that went with his dress uniform. The width on the second and third ties did suggest that they had come out of the vault but he kept that to himself, not wanting to discourage Jack if these weren't going to end up as the final choices. Now Jack had cycled back to the white shirt and the red tie. The discards were strewn around him, a level of untidiness generally quite foreign to the military man.
"You look good, Jack," he said for the umptiumph time.
Jack was now peering into the mirror on the back of the closet door from a few inches away, pushing down around his eyes. "I look old," he announced.
"Where is that coming from?" Daniel asked, once more in danger of inappropriate laughter. When he didn't get an answer, Daniel said, "Jack, wouldn't you and Sara both be more comfortable going somewhere a little less formal?"
Jack shook his head. "No, Daniel. Sara didn't get the real proposal experience the first time we got married. We just started talking about it sort of casually, theoretically, and then the next thing you know, we were walking by a jeweler's and noticed a sale. It was hardly the stuff of a girl's dreams watching her boy friend get all excited about the 30 markdown."
"I see your point," Daniel agreed. "Sha're didn't get one either. They basically just gave her to me to be my wife. Fortunately we were both more than okay with the idea."
Jack continued as if Daniel hadn't said anything, "I screwed up the first time, Daniel. Most of what went wrong after Charlie died was my fault. That time in captivity gave us a second chance with our lives. I'm not messing it up."
Jack stepped away from the mirror, shrugged as if to say, "Not much I can do about it at this point," and left the bedroom with Daniel trailing behind, extremely relieved to have moved beyond the dressing Jack phase. Jack came to a halt in the middle of the living room as if he had lost his bearings. Daniel was amazed to realize that Jack looked panicked. His icy calm, seasoned commander who had fearlessly led him through all sorts of danger, looked like a kid on the first day of school in a strange town if his new classmates were all going to be Unas.
Daniel decided to try to help move him to the next phase. "It's 7:00 or, 1900 hours, take your pick. Aren't you supposed to pick her up in 15 minutes?"
"Not helping, Daniel," Jack said as he starting patting one pocket after another, searching for his keys.
"I know where they are," Daniel said. "Hold on." Daniel went back in the bedroom and retrieved the keys from the khakis Jack had been wearing a tedious hour before and then veered to the kitchen next. He grabbed the bouquet of perfect red roses out of the florist's box in the refrigerator and brought them as well. He pitched the keys to Jack who almost fumbled them, another sure sign of nerves. Then he handed him the flowers which Jack regarded with a certain amount of suspicion and accepted rather gingerly. "I forgot about those," he admitted.
"I noticed," Daniel said.
"I've probably only given Sara flowers twice the whole time I've known her. Maybe she'll think I'm guilty of something," Jack said dubiously.
This was just too much. Daniel wasn't amused any more. He was beginning to get concerned for his friend. "Jack," he said patiently. "Relax. We both know she's going to say yes."
Jack grimaced and squared his shoulders, almost as if he was mentally shouldering a gun, and said, "Wish me luck."
Daniel hated to slow him down but his confidence level was extremely diminished so, instead of complying immediately, he said, "You do have the ring?"
Jack looked stricken. "Oh, lord, it's gone," he said sounding like he was going to lose it. And then he did, laughing, at Daniel's expression. "I got you there. It's here," he said, indicating his inside coat pocket.
Daniel said, "You know what I'm going to do now, right?"
Jack was still laughing a little. "Manly hug."
Daniel affirmed, "Manly hug," and they exchanged one. Daniel then followed Jack out of the house and waved him off before he got in his own car.
As Daniel started his car, he thought about how their period of captivity had changed all of their lives. He and Jack, imprisoned together, had forged a very tight bond. They had forced each other to take a look at their lives. Each had come back determined to make changes. Jack decided he needed to try once again with Sara whom he had never been able to forget, even though he had feelings for Sam. Daniel decided to quit waiting for Sam to get over her infatuation with Jack and her fear of commitment and try to find happiness with someone else. He had struck gold with Janet. What neither of them had counted on was the curve the aliens threw them when they inseminated Sam and made her pregnant with twins, one his and one Jack's. For reasons that were completely opaque to Daniel, Sam had given up on Jack and seemed to be honing in on him. It was just a little too late.
He hadn't gone more than a couple of miles, deep in his musings, when his cell rang. It was Jack. "There's a big problem," Jack said, sounding tense. "Sara just called me and she wants to cancel the date."
Daniel had a sinking feeling, imagining going through the previous hour with Jack again at some point in the near future. "What's the problem? Can you change her mind?"
"Sam came over to help her dress and now Sara's afraid to leave her alone," Jack explained.
"Why?" asked Daniel. Part of him was still mad at Sam for refusing his marriage proposal when he tried to do the right thing for her immediately after he and Jack had learned about the babies. That angry part wanted to say something snappy, something flip. At least if he could have come up with something snappy. The anger was slipping away on a daily basis though and he mostly was just plain worried at Jack's words.
"Sara says she's been having some menstrual-like cramps, some back pressure, and a little diarrhea. It's after hours and Sam doesn't want to go to the Emergency Room for something that seems trivial to her. I've told you how Sara had two miscarriages before we were able to have Charlie. She's getting scared." Jack said, sounding grim. Daniel thought he was probably just as worried about what this was bringing back for Sara, as that there might really be a problem for Sam.
"I've been doing some reading," Daniel admitted. "It sounds like it could be preterm labor."
"That's not good, is it?" Jack asked and then went on without waiting for an answer. "Look, Daniel, I agree that Sam shouldn't be alone but I really don't want to have to psych myself up for this proposal thing again either. I know you have a date with Janet but, I don't know, maybe you could push it back to 9:30 or 10 and stay with Sam? We could be back by then."
Daniel had no choice but to agree. Instead of going straight to Sara's, he pulled over and stopped the car. He knew Janet wouldn't be happy and he didn't want to try to handle the call while he was driving. She had been getting increasingly testy about time he spent with Sam. On the one hand, she kept saying that he needed to be part of his child's life and she was proud of him for his desire to be involved but, on the other, every time he did something like go to the childbirth classes with Sam, she was a little touchy, a little distant for a couple of days afterwards. He drew a deep breath, thinking to himself that the whole cleansing breath thing from the childbirth classes seemed to be rubbing off on him, and hit Janet's number on the speed dial.
"Hello, darling," she said, relying on the caller id. "I'm wearing something new that I think you will REALLY like and I've made beef stroganoff, just the way you like it. I hope you're calling to say you'll be a little early."
"Oh crap," Daniel thought glumly. "This is not starting out well." He cleared his throat. "Actually, Janet, Jack is planning to propose to Sara tonight but she doesn't want to go out because Sam is showing symptoms that are scaring her. You know, Sara, had the miscarriages. Anyway, the only way she'll go with Jack is if I stay with Sam. So.."
"So, you're going to Sam's?" Janet asked, giving nothing away yet.
"Actually, she was over at Sara's when it started. I'm going over there."
"Well, I'm a doctor. I'll just bring the dinner over there and she'll have company and medical support," Janet answered, flabbergasting Daniel. "Meet you there in a few minutes."
Daniel sat staring at the phone like he had never seen one before. Is this why they had invented cell phones? To convey unwelcome tidings like this? As he started up the car, he thought to himself, "There must be something in the dynamic in polygamous cultures that I'm just not getting."
Jack was literally poised to push Sara out to the car the minute Daniel came in the door. She was protesting but he wasn't listening. As the sound of their mostly one-sided conversation ebbed in the distance, Daniel took a really good look at Sam. She didn't look good. That was she didn't look good because she looked so worried and more than a little drawn from the cramps but on another level she looked very good. He couldn't completely repress a spurt of lust. She looked at him unenthusiastically, sitting huddled on the couch with an afghan, her hands protectively wrapped around her middle. He sat down next to her, wanting to help but at a loss at how to do it.
"Can I get you something," he asked. "Some tea?" She just shook her head. "Would you like to watch something on television? You know, get your mind on something else." She shook her head again. He was almost glad when he heard the doorbell, despite knowing that it probably didn't presage fun and games for all.
"Who could that be?" Sam asked, a little crankily.
"Uh, when I told Janet you were having these problems, she insisted on coming to help," he stammered out, getting to his feet.
"Just how insecure is she?" Sam demanded, irritated. "She doesn't even trust you to sit with a woman with the runs?"
The doorbell sounded again. "I'd better get that," Daniel said edging out of the room.
When he opened the door, Janet avoided his eyes and pushed past him with a hamper in which he assumed their dinner was hiding. There was a slightly pugnacious cast to her expression and he groaned inwardly. As soon as she saw Sam, her expression changed. Clearly, to her practiced medical eye, this wasn't a woman working her pregnancy to get attention. This was a woman very likely had a real medical problem. She shoved the hamper at Daniel and went immediately to sit down next to Sam and look at her more closely. After an initial wary reaction, Sam seemed to be glad to have someone who knew what they were doing come in and take charge. After a few questions, Janet announced, "Let's go the hospital, Sam. We can call your doctor on the way."
"Really, Janet? You really think that's necessary?" Sam asked, trying to stay calm.
"It's nothing to get alarmed about, Sam, really. But there is a reasonable chance that there's something going on that the right medication could make better." Janet patted her hand and said briskly, "No need to have problems that can easily be avoided, right?" Janet stood and looked at Daniel. "I've got the SUV. Why don't we take it?" She pulled the keys from her purse and tossed them to Daniel. "It might be best if you drive so I can pay attention to Sam."
Daniel was beginning to get very, very worried and doing his best to hide it. He retrieved Sam's purse for her from the bedroom and locked the house up behind the two women. He drove carefully to the hospital although everything in him screamed, "Speed, speed," figuring a ticket or an accident would only make things worse.
As directed by the doctor, they went to labor and delivery. Janet commented that ER's just hate dealing with pregnant women and have a tendency to send them to labor and delivery when they're late in the pregnancy, even if the problem isn't pregnancy related. Instead of being grateful for the speed with which the admitting people moved, taking Sam directly back to an examining room, Daniel realized even more forcefully than he already did that the fact that she was carrying twins made every possible sign of trouble a big deal. A nurse arrived in a matter of minutes and took her blood pressure which she said, when asked, was 200/105. Janet looked grim at that information and Daniel was now approaching fugue state, looking on helplessly while the nurse put Sam on not one, but two, monitors, a fetal monitor and something that monitored contractions.
When the doctor came in and saw the nurse's work up, he gave Sam a smile. There was no faulting the man's bedside manner. Still, he also moved quickly and efficiently to start a pelvic exam. When Sam and Daniel realized what was about to happen, they both blushed and Daniel said, "I'll, uh, just be out in the waiting room while you do that."
Janet came to get him what seemed like an eternity later, although the clock in the waiting room didn't bear that out at all. He went to Sam's side and immediately took her hand. She squeezed it gratefully but her air was abstracted, all her attention focused on the doctor. The doctor didn't waste any time getting to the heart of the matter, "Ms. Carter is experiencing some preterm labor. I've done a vaginal exam andthe cervix is dilated a finger tip and is 20 effaced. It isimperative that we stop the contractions sono further cervical change occurs until we are ready for the babies to be born." Looking at their stricken faces, he added, reassuringly, "Preterm labor is not unusual with twins."
Sam's grip on Daniel's hand tightened. "I'm not going to lose my babies, am I?"
"If we respond to this intelligently, I think things will be fine. Let me explain to you what's happened so far. We've done a urinalysis and there is no protein or bacteria in the urine which is a very good sign, Sam. You are a little dehydrated which can contribute to preterm labor and we've started an IV to address that. I am also going to give you a shot of subque terbutaline. This will relax the uterus and hopefully knock the contractions out. If one shot doesn't do the trick we'll do another. Sam, terb will increase your heart rate, so if you feel like your heart is going to jump out of your chest or you feel a little jittery, don't worry. Those are normal side effects of the drug." He paused to ask for questions about what he had said so far. He was talking to two brilliant people and a doctor, also brilliant, so no one was having trouble keeping up. Their questions were all much, much bigger and this wasn't the time yet to ask them.
He continued, "As a precaution I am going to give you a shot of betamethasone. Betamethasone is a steroid that will help to mature the babies' lungs just in case we cannot stop the contractions and you deliver beforewe want you to. We'll do that now and then again in 24 hours. So Sam, get comfortable. You're spending the night."
Daniel said anxiously, "What then? Does she stay here until the babies are born?"
The doctor said, "Dr. Jackson, let's wait and see how things go but the best case scenario would be going home on complete bed rest." He took off his glasses and polished them. It was a calculated dramatic gesture to make them wait and pay attention to what was coming next. "It is critical that we get you to 36 weeks, Sam. To do that we'll need for you to continue the terb by mouth, every four hours. That's even through the night, every night. You are only to get out of bed to go to the bathroom."
At this point, he looked at Daniel very directly rather than Sam. "Pelvic rest is critical."
Janet could tell that this was lost on Daniel. She said, but without any satisfaction in her voice, totally the professional now, "That means no sexual relations or even sexual stimulation."
Daniel and Sam both blushed a bright red. He let go of her hand as if it were on fire. Daniel said, very emphatically, "You certainly don't need to worry about that," as if the thought was monstrously abhorrent. There was an awkward silence. The doctor looked mildly surprised at his vehemence and Sam looked a little insulted. Even Janet didn't look pleased with his lack of sensitivity. He wanted to smooth it out and make it better but felt as if anything he said would be less than helpful.
The doctor asked Sam, "Do you have any questions?"
She responded, a little weakly, still processing everything she had heard, "Thank you doctor. I think it's clear."
"Fine then. They'll take you up to your room in a few minutes and I'll be looking in on you early in the morning. Dr. Jackson, Dr. Fraiser." He waved and left.
Sam covered her face with her hands. "How am I going to manage staying in bed all the time?" she said, talking more to herself it seemed than to either of her companions.
"I'll be there as much as you need me to be," Daniel said.
Janet quickly added, "I'm here too, Sam, and you know Cassie will want to help as much as she can get home." There was nothing of the jealous woman and everything of the friend in her voice and expression.
As if on cue, Daniel's cell rang then and he could see from the caller id that it was Jack. He quickly answered to hear, "Daniel, what the hell's going on. Sara called the house and didn't get an answer."
"Nothing to worry about but we're at the hospital. Sam has preterm labor. They're going to keep her here for a day or so and then, if things look good, she comes home on complete bedrest until the babies are born."
Jack asked "As in she can't get up except to go to the bathroom?" After Daniel's confirmation, Jack immediately said, "That was the only way Sara was able to have Charlie. You know I'll help her." Daniel heard Sara's voice in the background and then Jack added, "And Sara of course. Daniel, we both want to talk to her but first, how are you holding up my friend?"
Daniel looked over at Sam who was leaning back, her eyes closed. "I'd like to talk later. Did everything go as planned with Sara?"
Jack laughed. "Not at all as planned. When we talk, I'll give you the details but she did say yes. After we talk to Sam, I'll call Teal'c. He'll want to know and be there for her."
Daniel spoke softly to Sam and said, "Do you want to talk to Jack and Sara." She reached out for the phone and it was obvious that their support was a big morale boost from watching her face. The conversation lasted only a short time but when Sam handed the phone back to Daniel, she was smiling. She captured Janet's hand and said, "Janet, when the call interrupted us, I was starting to tell you that I really appreciate what you've done this evening. We've had some problems lately but you didn't let any of that get in the way. I owe you."
Janet bit her lip. "This is awkward isn't it. I'm in love with Daniel. You're having his baby." She looked at Daniel and shook her head ruefully. "And you don't know what you want, do you Danny?"
He tried to speak but she held up her hand. "Right now, there are two little lives that are all that matter." She took Sam's hand and asked, "Truce?"
"Truce," Sam agreed.
When Daniel told Jack about it later he said he felt a little like a spoil of war that had been temporarily parked with a neutral country. He flashed on himself, improbably, as a sort of male Helen of Troy. "I'm here, ladies," he said, not sure exactly why he was upset with them, but he definitely was. They exchanged a look fraught with meaning that only another woman would understand.