"Is Carmen back? Has she gone into labor early?" Daniel inquired. The baby would be quite premature and was definitely a cause for concern.
Danny looked at him as if he was from Mars and then seemed to realize that Daniel had no way of knowing. "The hospital just called. Mom and Carmen are both there. Some drunk plowed into their car. They are going to have to do an emergency c-section. Mom's got a concussion."
Daniel ran after Danny to the car. Debri had heard the yelling and followed them getting into the car while still demanding an explanation. Daniel insisted on driving. Danny drove like a Kamikaze at the best of times. Immediately before he pulled out, he asked, "Do you have your cell?" Danny nodded. "You've got to call Jack and Carmen's parents."
After Danny finished the calls, Daniel slid a quick look over at his son and saw his lips moving silently. All the trips to Mass with his mother and wife had rubbed off. Danny was praying. Daniel envied Danny the small measure of peace it seemed to be bringing him but all he could do was scream inside his head, "No, no, not Sam. Please not Sam," but he had no idea to whom he was screaming. The refrain never really left his head through the nightmare hours that followed. As sad as he was for Danny's baby and as worried as he was for Carmen, it was his consuming love for his wife that was uppermost in his mind.
Daniel was exhausted. He had split his time between keeping vigil in Sam's room and trying to help Danny come to terms with the fact that his tiny baby hadn't survived the emergency c-section hours before. The Duartes had arrived and Jack and Sara on their heels. Carmen's father had said some pretty nasty things about Sam as the driver before Jack had taken him aside and shown him the police report. The two women had been hit by a drunk driver and there wasn't anything Sam could have done to prevent it. Her father had managed to upset Carmen so much that Angelina Duarte and Danny had alternated sitting with Carmen and her father had stayed out in the waiting room where he was driving everyone else crazy. He was in competition with Debri who kept chanting some sort of prayer or dirge that only she understood. The surprise of the evening had been that before Jack had taken Carlos Duarte in hand, Debri had given him a good talking to. She didn't know a thing about the circumstances of the accident but she had loyally defended Sam. Her effectiveness was compromised by the fact that she kept breaking into her own language but there was no mistaking her passion.
The two women were not in intensive care. Sam had had a concussion and had already awakened only to go back to sleep. Carmen was also not in serious condition physically but emotionally she was in terrible shape. Her hysterical refusal to accept the baby's death had finally resulted in sedation.
Daniel and Jack had had several conversations that were painful for Jack but he was willing to do anything that might help. Daniel had pleaded with Jack to help him know what to say to someone who has lost a child. Jack kept giving him the same advice. "Just be there."
Daniel stumbled outside hoping that the cool air would revive him and heard Debri follow him. She had her own grief to handle and he appreciated that. She had lost Danny and had thought she had a chance at experiencing his babyhood at one remove, just as he had. He just didn't have any resources left to comfort her.
"Daniel," she said softly. "I am so sorry."
"We all are," Daniel said, "We all are."
She circled around to stand face to face with him and looked him in the eyes, her big brown eyes swimming with tears. It seemed to take a real force of will for her to do it but he could see the resolution written on her face. "No, Daniel," she said in a broken voice. "It is different. They are here because of me."
Daniel was stymied. "What are you talking about? It was a drunk driver."
"They were out in the car because of me. I upset both of them and they wanted to get away. I never intended anything like this," she said earnestly, "please believe me."
"Of course I believe you," Daniel said softly. "You have to quit blaming yourself. No one else does."
"Not yet but when they have time to think about it, they will," she disagreed. She lifted her chin and said, "I want to go back to Cheyenne Mountain and ask them to find me another world where I will not make any more trouble for my son."
"I can't believe Danny would ever go along with that decision," Daniel said, stifling the thought that just for a moment came to his mind of how much easier it would make his life. "Decisions like that should never be made at a time like this, in any case. Wait a couple of weeks and then talk to Danny."
She shook her head. The guilt and remorse she felt was overwhelming. She needed to do something sacrificial, some form of penance to even begin to be able to live with herself. "Debri, I want your promise. Losing you right now could make things even harder for him. Promise me."
"All right I wait," she promised. She almost believed she would keep the promise.
Daniel went back inside and down the hall to Carmen's room to overhear another serious conversation. Carmen was awake again and Danny was sitting next to her. Carmen said, "I should just go back to my parents. There's no more reason for me to be a burden to your family."
"Do you really want to live with your parents again?" Danny asked, feeling hurt.
"Danny, you only married me because I was pregnant. We have most of our senior year left," she explained, her mind occupied not by her senior year that might have been but the free spirit that Danny had seemed to her before he accepted responsibility for a wife and a baby.
"The baby affected the timing but not my feelings about you. I would have kept after you until you married me someday," Danny said stoutly. "Maybe you would never have married me, if you hadn't been pregnant."
Carmen didn't say anything but she sniffed a couple of times and Daniel realized she was crying again.
"Carmen," Danny said, very slowly and very carefully, in tones that sounded like a rehearsed speech, something he had worked out in his mind during these long hours, "our baby can't have lived for nothing. Our baby did one wonderful thing in its seven months of life inside you. He gave us to each other. Maybe if there had been no baby, other things would have gotten in the way and we would have missed out on each other. The timing may look wrong as far as the world goes but maybe it was the only timing that could make us happen. I love you with all my heart and I know you love me. If you go back to living with your parents, it will be much harder for us to be together. You know how they feel about me."
"Oh Danny," Carmen said, "I want to believe you're right. It gives me a little peace about the baby." In the long hours since the child's death she had been unable to keep her mind from circling around and around all the things this little one would never grow up to be and do. Danny was offering a branch with which to begin to pull free of that quagmire.
"Then believe it. Here's what I want us to do. I want us to get this marriage blessed in the church and I want it to stop being a marriage in name only. I think Dad and Mom would let us live together at their place or perhaps Dad," he laughed at the confusion, "Dad numero uno, would let us live together at his place if I took some responsibility, you know, got a part time job to help pay for things."
"What if I get pregnant again?" she asked, suddenly afraid. She couldn't be responsible for destroying all his opportunities as well as her own.
"We use three different kinds of birth control and practice rhythm on top of it," he said. "Carmen, people overcome huge obstacles and we are brighter and more capable than average."
"Danny!" she exclaimed reproachfully. Carmen was too modest to be comfortable with that statement for herself at any rate. She was sure that Danny was far above the average, not only in his demonstrated musical and athletic abilities but also in the very good mind he was finally allowing out of hiding, his innate goodness, and how out and out hot he was.
"Well, we are," he countered her, laughing a little.
"You're sure?" she asked. She was starting to be persuaded.
"I am," he answered. She held out her arms and he embraced her, very carefully and they were quiet together for awhile. Then Danny sat back up and said, "And, something else. I know Debri has made things difficult for you. I didn't want to believe it. She is all I have of my mother. Maybe Dad uno would let her live with him. I think she has been a real strain on Mom and Dad's marriage."
Daniel immediately went looking for Jack and took him aside. "Jack, things have been happening."
"You don't know what I mean," Daniel said. "Debri thinks she should go to another planet. She feels guilty about what happened to Carmen and Sam." Jack was puzzled. "There was a blow up with Carmen that Debri instigated and then Sam came home to find me comforting Debri and she got upset. Sam and Carmen left for the evening basically because they were so over Debri."
"She's been a real problem for your marriage Daniel and I was just resigning myself to the need to give you a talking to," Jack said. "Sometimes you are really thick for such a brilliant man."
"There's more. I overheard Carmen and Danny. I think he's got her persuaded to get their marriage blessed in the church and make it a real marriage."
"That's really stupid," Jack said but without heat. "I hate the problems that he's signing up for."
Daniel started to say something but Jack held up his hand. "But, Daniel, Danny's got your stubborn streak and I don't think we can stop him. We can just make it really difficult and make it much harder for them to make a success out of their lives and I don't want to do that. I bet you have a proposal to make already."
"I think we should look at Danny and Carmen living with Sam and I and Debri living at your house," Daniel said very tentatively.
"Because I'm SO old I'm the one man she won't hit on?" Jack asked. He laughed at Daniel's expression. "I know you didn't mean that. At least I hope you didn't." He leaned back against the corridor wall. "There's something YOU don't know that may just make that workable. Sara and I had a real moment a few hours ago in the chapel. Both of us went there trying to deal with the memories of losing Charlie this has resurrected. We don't want to waste any more time letting people we love slip away. I proposed to her and she said yes. Sara and Debri have a real connection and I think it actually could work." He laughed. "Danny needs a church ceremony to make his civil marriage real to the church but as far as the church is concerned Sara and I are still married. We need the civil ceremony. Still, we've decided we still want to renew our vows in the church."
Daniel went to Sam's room and when she opened her eyes again, he told her about the upcoming ceremonies. She dashed tears away and said, "I think that some people can fall in love over and over but others only truly love once. I think Danny and Carmen are one of those couples that need to be together forever. Despite the problems their age will cause both of them just about to turn 18, I can't be sorry."
Daniel could hardly take in what she was saying. It was just so good to see her conscious and talking normally, on the road to recovery. Her bruised face with the stitched up gash on one side was as beautiful to him as it had ever been. "I love you so much Sam," he said thickly. Tears were pouring down his face now. "I've loved before but I'll never love again. You're it. Now and forever." Then suddenly, he knew what he had to do. "The kids are getting their marriage blessed in the church. Now is the time for us too."
One month later as the sun streamed through stained glass windows and a small crowd including Teal'c, Debri, and Carmen's parents sat moved beyond words in the wooden pews, there was a ceremony in which Danny and Carmen, Jack and Sara, and Daniel and Sam affirmed to each other that they had found the place where they belonged until death and beyond.