Steps : Showdown

by Pip

(Branch-off of the Steps Series)

Summary: They face the toughest showdown of their lives. DV

Warnings: Slight one for language use.

A/N: So, thanks to the comment made by my beta in the BOtR chapter 'Afterparty' after she'd beta'd it, and several comments made from people saying they'd like to see more of that storyline, I decided to work on it. I'd actually had the bunny hoppin its way around my fron for a while.

In terms of this being part of Steps, I decided to make it branch-off from that series, since it did turn out to be a little long and that left Steps open for me to add the stuff that happened before the big show here (which I will get to...I promise!). So basically I've written the beginning of the Series, as well as the end and the after the series parts. All I need is a middle. LOL! I just thought you'd like to know why this wasn't IN Steps.

Anywho, enjoy! I really put a lot into this one!

--------

Two and a half weeks. The number kept rolling around in Vala's head as she lay awake in bed. Two and a half weeks. After that, everything would be different. Even more different that it'd already become within the past several months. Two and a half weeks. That was all that was left in the beginning stages of this journey she'd...they'd started on. In two and a half weeks, she was going to be a mommy...again.

Blinking in the darkness, Vala inhaled deeply. This time it was going to be different. There were no supernatural powers involved, nothing to prevent her from experiencing the joy of holding in her arms the life she'd carried inside herself for nine months. She was going to be able to watch this one grow gradually, like nature had intended, and see how the life of a child blossomed with real love and hard earned knowledge. Vala would raise this child. Turning her head, she gazed through the black at the face snuggling into her arm. And she wouldn't be doing it alone.

This was Daniel's first, and she knew he was getting more excited the closer the day drew near. Not that she could blame him. It was an exciting thing to give life to something. Vala was more than happy to give him this opportunity, especially when it was obvious he'd never expected to have it - not after the loss of his wife. That thought troubled her occasionally, but Daniel told her not to dwell on it. This was going to be their child together, and he couldn't be happier. He'd told her he wanted to do this with her, that he would choose no one else but her no matter what. His words had made her feel important and loved, and she smiled at that remembered feeling.

The smile turned to a grimace as a cramp seized her just below the stomach. It wasn't the first time it'd happened. It'd happened quite a lot during the pregnancy. It was partly the reason she was wide awake - they'd been coming closer than normal all night. Plus it didn't help that she was feeling a little off, more so then she'd felt since getting pregnant. After a moment, the pain eased. It was immediately followed by sudden pressure on her bladder. Vala rolled her eyes.

Sighing, she pushed her rounded body up slowly on her arms. As she turned to place her feet on the floor, a strong hand softly clasped hers. Vala turned her focus on its owner.

"Alright?" Daniel's concerned voice was muffled into the pillow and heavy with exhaustion.

Vala didn't have the heart to tell him she was feeling kinda wonky. Especially when she knew it'd have him waking up completely. She couldn't do that to him, not when he so desperately needed his rest. Along with taking care of her and preparing for the baby, Daniel was still active in on-going missions. Everyone had insisted, herself included, that he take the time off along with her, but it had been a futile request. Daniel didn't do 'inactive' very well. He'd been doing the job for so long now that it'd become a part of him. He lived for the action and the adrenaline, something he was only just starting to come to terms with. But added on top of everything else, it was leaving him drained by the end of the day. Just that night when they'd crawled into bed, Vala had said he looked about as exhausted as she felt. And he wasn't carrying a child.

"Fine, darling." She whispered back, pulling her hand from his light grasp to brush it through his hair. "Baby's just demanding mommy go to the bathroom."

"Okay..." Daniel said around a huge yawn, burrowing deeper into his pillow.

Vala patted his still outstretched hand. "I'll be right back."

His eyebrows lifted a little though he never opened his eyes. "Be here." He mumbled around another yawn, already letting sleep take hold.

Slowly, Vala shuffled her way to the bathroom. She swallowed against the cold tile floor and flicked on the light, closing the door most of the way so not to disturb Daniel. She found herself stopping in front of the mirror to stare at her reflection.

Gods, she looked horrible. Her face was puffy, her hair was a mess, and her eyes definitely betrayed her will to prove she wasn't near dead on her feet most days. Vala couldn't resist from poking a finger at her chubby cheek. She felt fat and disgusting, and there was no point in asking Daniel how she looked. Because he was blinded with his love for her and always thought she was beautiful. More so since she was pregnant. To him, she never looked more radiant. She'd like to see how he felt after carrying a baby for so many months. See if he still felt as young and vibrant as she had before the pregnancy.

Vala banished those hateful thoughts, knowing they were unfair. Most men usually said those things just to make their pregnant significant others feel better. Not Daniel. She knew that all he truly saw was beauty when he looked at her. She didn't know how he could, but he did. And it made her happy to know she still looked amazing to at least one person, even if she didn't feel that way. And that one person was most important of all.

Abandoning the contradictions of her reflection to Daniel's compliments at the mirror, Vala took the remaining steps to the toilet. Bracing herself against the counter, she slowly began to lower herself into a sitting position.

She'd barely made it a few inches when her surroundings spun wildly, sending her falling sideways against the counter. The cramp turned to a searing pain that ripped through her entire body, and Vala fell hard onto the seat of the toilet. Before she could stop it from happening, she slipped off the toilet and her butt collided hard with the tile floor.

Through the roar of pain in her ears, Vala realized that this was way more than feeling a little wonky. Something was very, very wrong. Tears came to her eyes. She needed help. She needed Daniel.

"Daniel..." She called out, but it was nothing more than a hoarse whisper. Her eyes squeezed shut, tears sliding down her suddenly hot cheeks, as burning pain continued to rip into her abdomen. Vala tried to push herself up, but her arms buckled under her own weight. When had she become so weak? Fear seized her by the chest and she couldn't stop her breathing from becoming more labored.

Desperate, Vala tried once again to push herself up. Her hand slid out from under her, and she collapsed backwards onto the floor. Through her darkening vision, she gazed at her hand, suddenly realizing it was wet.

"Daniel..." She slurred through a wheeze, panic building at the sight of red on her hand. The last thing she recalled thinking before it all went dark was it wasn't supposed to be that color.

----

Blue eyes slowly opened to a room bathed in grey shadows. Daniel breathed in deeply, stretching a little as the pre-dawn light filtered in through the window. His gaze drifted to the bed, which his still half-asleep mind finally figured shouldn't be empty. Where was Vala?

He racked his tired thoughts for an answer. She'd gone to the bathroom. That couldn't have been that long ago, seeing as she wasn't back in bed yet. He must've dozed off for a few minutes. Of course it felt longer to him, but he was still a little too tired to analyze it.

Daniel scrubbed his hand through his hair lethargically and yawned.

"Baby, you okay?" He called out, never opening his eyes. He listened for some kind of response for about a minute or two. When nothing came, Daniel opened his eyes. "Vala?" He called out again around yet another yawn.

Sitting up, Daniel looked towards the bathroom. Light shown out from the crack where she'd left the door open at, as well as from beneath it. Crawling out of bed, he casually made his way over to the door.

"Vala..." He stifled another yawn, unable to stop them from coming. "Hey," He placed his hand on the door, slowly pushing it open. "Is everything al-" His words caught at the sight of the woman he loved in a crumpled heap at the foot of the toilet.

"Vala!" Daniel gasped as he fell to her side an instant later, the blood on the floor soaking into his pajama pants. He took her head in his hands and turned it up, discouraged by the fact that it moved so easily. His fingers felt for a pulse, then Daniel leaned his ear close to her nose. "Baby, can you hear me?"

Faint puffs of air tickled the hair close to his ear. It was a start, but did nothing to ease the panic building up in him. He pulled back and brushed her hair back gently. "Vala, wake up for me please!" He commanded.

With his free hand, Daniel massaged a fist into her chest. "Come on hunny, wake up." He made sure to keep his voice loud but soothing. He got no obvious response to his calls. Sitting back on his heels, Daniel knew he needed help. Standing, he made his way out of the bathroom.

Bloody footprints stained the carpet as he moved to the nightstand. He snatched up his cell phone, flipped it open, and pressed the first speed dial - all in one fast movement. Spinning on his heels, Daniel snatched up a shirt from the floor. He pulled it on as he moved back into the bathroom.

The phone continued to ring as he dropped to Vala's side once again. "Wake up, Vala." Daniel called to her, brushing his hand through her hair, damp with sweat. The tone rang again and he was about to hang up and try the next number when it finally clicked over.

"Somebody better be dead or dying." A gruff voice answered irritably.

Daniel knew he was supposed to be keeping himself calm, but upon hearing the familiar voice, his resolve faltered a moment. "Jack." He mumbled desperately into the phone, suddenly feeling guilty for having to awaken his friend.

"Daniel?" The tone had shifted to a worried one. "What's wrong?"

Breathing in deeply, Daniel built his resolve back up. "It's Vala."

"What about Vala?" Jack asked. If he hadn't been alert at the way Daniel had greeted him, he certainly was now.

"She's unconscious on the bathroom floor." Daniel looked her over again. "I just found her. I don't know what happened, but there's a lot of blood." He pressed his hand up in between her legs, grimacing when it came away red. He swallowed thickly. "I'm pretty sure she's gone into labor."

Sounds of movement and Jack talking to someone else were coming through the phone. "That's not supposed to happen for another two and a half weeks."

Anger flared in Daniel's chest. "You think I don't know that?!" He yelled, continuing to try and rouse Vala. He hated how her skin was pale and cool to the touch.

"Calm down, Daniel." Jack replied patiently.

Shaking his head to clear his anguish, Daniel had to blink back tears. "Sorry..." He sighed into the phone.

"Did you call Carolyn?" Jack's tone now sounded condescending and Daniel had to really fight the urge to snap again.

He licked his lips slowly. "No, I'm going to as soon as I get off the phone with you." He answered slowly. A heavy silence followed, and Daniel knew Jack was trying to figure out a way to say he was an idiot for calling him first that wouldn't upset the younger man. He breathed in and out quickly. "Just...get here please."

"Already on the way..." Jack offered urgently, but gently. Daniel didn't even bother to say goodbye. He just ended the call and hit the speed dial for Carolyn. And he still tried to get Vala to wake up, or at least open her eyes.

The tone only rang once before it clicked over. "Jackson, you know what time it is?"

Daniel rolled his eyes. Why couldn't things be easy? "Put Carolyn on the phone."

"She's sleepin', whatcha want?" The southern drawl on the other end yawned, and it irritated Daniel to no end. He didn't have time for this crap.

"Dammit Cam, put Carolyn on the goddamn phone!" Daniel barked, resisting the urge to punch the floor. He, instead, tried calling out to Vala once again. "Baby, you need to wake up for me...Come on Vala." It effectively blocked out the irritated 'fine!' on the other end of the phone. Daniel started listening again when he heard Carolyn's muffled voice in the background.

"Daniel..." Carolyn sighed. "I don't appreciate being woken up-"

He cut her off. "Well, I don't appreciate everyone being difficult when my girlfriend is lying in her own blood unconscious on the bathroom floor!" Daniel snapped. Sounds of rushing once more filled the phone's speaker.

"She's gone into labor?" The tired quality had dropped from Carolyn's voice.

Daniel nodded, even though she couldn't see him. "Yes."

"You're sure? Has her water broken yet?"

Blue eyes shifted down towards Vala's legs. "I...I don't know. There's a lot of blood here." Before she could ask any other questions, Daniel beat her to the punch. "Her breathing is faint and shallow, and I checked her pulse. I could barely feel it."

Carolyn tried to muffle her curse so he couldn't hear it, but he did anyway. Not that it really mattered. Daniel already knew things had taken a very bad turn.

"How long has she been like that?"

Daniel winced and he felt a pang of guilt. "I really can't say." He admitted reluctantly. "She told me she was going to the bathroom. I fell back asleep. When I woke up, she wasn't back in bed so I assumed it had only been a few minutes." He paused as he heard the front door to the house open and then close with a loud slam. Jack, with Sam in tow, appeared in the doorway moments later. "Now that I think about it, it was still dark out when she told me. She's probably been here for hours." He mumbled.

"Or it could have been only an hour." Jack offered.

"Jack's right." Carolyn added, having heard him over the phone. "There's no use beating yourself up over that. It won't help Vala." There was a short pause. "Now we need focus on what we can do to help her, starting with getting her to the hospital."

Daniel massaged the bridge of his nose, smearing blood over his face. He really didn't notice or care, and Jack and Sam didn't have the heart to tell him. "You mean the SGC."

"That's a forty-five minute drive from here, Danny." Jack said at the same time Carolyn replied with "Memorial Medical is closer."

"We can't take her to the hospital." Daniel argued.

"Daniel, something is obviously very wrong. Vala needs medical attention as soon as possible." Carolyn answered slowly, almost patronizing.

Daniel let out an exasperated sigh. "I know something is very wrong with her. Finding her passed out and bleeding alerted me to that fact. I also know if we take her to the hospital, they're gonna ask questions. Ones that we can't give the answers too." He shifted his angry gaze back and forth between Jack and Sam. His free hand stroked over Vala's hair. "And I don't know about you guys, but I REALLY don't feel like giving them all a rundown of the sordid details that led us here. We know why this is happening, but we don't know what is happening to her." He swallowed, and looked down at her lax face and the tears staining her cheeks. "Now if you'll stop treating me like a terrified idiot and actually start helping me, the sooner we can get her and our child help."

"Okay, we're on our way to the SGC." Carolyn finally said. "How long will it take you guys to get there?"

Daniel mouthed how long to Jack, who mouthed twenty minutes back. Daniel knew his friend would do whatever it took to get Vala to help as soon as possible. "Twenty minutes." He answered. "Is there anything I need to do?"

"Just keep trying to wake her up." Carolyn replied. "If she does wake up, try and keep her as calm and comfortable as possible. I don't want her inducing any more unknown symptoms than she already has."

Once again, Daniel didn't bother with a goodbye. Snapping the phone shut, he looked over Vala again. "Uhhh..." He was unsure what to do or how to do it.

Jack stepped into the small bathroom and placed a hand on his shoulder. "What do you need us to do?" He asked, knowing Daniel was the one who needed to handle this. Jack would provide whatever help he could, however.

Taking a deep breath, Daniel scrubbed his hand through his hair. "Blankets...there's some old blankets out in the garage."

"I'll get them." Sam said before exiting the doorway.

Jack watched her leave then returned his focus to Daniel. "Whatcha need from me?"

Daniel laughed out sadly. "Just be here..." He screwed his eyes shut, trying to stop the tears. Now wasn't a good time to breakdown...he needed to be strong for Vala. Feeling the hand squeeze the back of his neck, his eyes snapped open again. "I need to wake her up." Daniel said with determination, his voice was thick with emotion.

He leaned over and ran his fingers over Vala's cheek. "Vala, sweetheart." His voice was soft as his lips hovered close to hers. The kiss he placed to them was soft, pleading. "Please wake up. We all need you to wake up."

"Here's the blankets." Sam rushed back into the room. She bit her lip at the sight of Daniel, so close to losing it, trying to wake Vala up once again. Jack took the blankets from her, his look not offering her much reprieve. Daniel sat back up and took the blankets from Jack.

"Do you need my help?" Jack asked as his younger friend maneuvered Vala carefully onto the blanket.

Daniel barely had enough concentration left to reply, he was so focused on making sure he didn't jostle Vala too much. "No...I uhh...I got her." Cradling his entire life in his arms, Daniel lurched to his feet. He was glad for the hand Jack placed on his arm to help steady him. Slowly, he made his way out of the bathroom just to stop again outside the doorway.

"Sam..." Daniel couldn't stop his voice from wavering. It was so hard to try and be brave and strong when he'd never been more terrified in his life.

Sam stepped up to him. "Yeah?"

Blue eyes roamed around a room that felt so foreign. "There's a...umm...we made a...uh..." He adjusted his hold on Vala.

"You got a bag ready for when it was time?" Jack offered, motioning to Sam with his head to search the room.

Daniel nodded. "It's what the books she read said to do." He offered helplessly. Not like reading those books had done them any good. "It's what she wanted to do."

Jack squeezed the back of Daniel's neck again. "That's very good, Danny."

Sniffing, Daniel let out a sound of determination. "We have to go." Quickly, yet carefully, he exited the bedroom, Jack and Sam right behind him.

------

"Vala." Daniel was like a broken record. He just kept saying the same things over and over, trying to get some kind of response from the woman in his lap. He paid no mind to how insanely fast Jack was driving or how many traffic laws they were breaking. All that mattered was getting her to open those grey eyes. "Wake up, Vala."

The seat they were on was being soaked red from the bleed-through on the blanket. He was hoping Jack wouldn't get mad. He'd have to make sure he apologized later, even offer to get it redone if he had to.

"Baby, open your eyes." Daniel was so surprised he sounded so calm and collected, so strong. It was the total opposite of how he truly was feeling. It was a fighting battle to keep it together. He was so scared and he knew if he stopped forcing them to stay relaxed, his hands would be shaking. "You need to be awake to have our baby. Wake up so we can have this baby, hunny."

Finally, Vala complied with his gentle command. Her eyes fluttered open a small fraction.

Overwhelming relief spread through every fiber in Daniel's body. "Hey there." He smiled down into her unsteady gaze, his bloodstained fingers stroking her hair.

Vala watched Daniel for a moment, then shifted her look out the window above and behind her. It was a very bad idea because the sudden blur of trees combined with the almost steady turn of the car had her turning her head and throwing up. Right all over Daniel.

Tears burned in her eyes. "Sorry..." She slurred around a sob. She was so disoriented, tired, and in an unbelievable amount of pain. As if suddenly remembering the pain, Vala bucked against Daniel.

"Easy." Daniel tried to hold her in place, bracing her legs against the seat. "It's okay."

Vala shook her head violently. "Something's wrong." She mumbled, fingers turning white as they clung to Daniel's now dirty shirt.

Bringing a hand to grip hers, Daniel rubbed his thumb over the back of it. "I know, baby. But we're gonna take care of it."

The same excruciating pain from before shot through her body. "W-what's hapning?" Vala gasped with pain and fear. The tears now ran freely down her face. She buried her face into Daniel's chest, not caring that what she'd just had in her stomach was strewn all down the front of the material.

Tears burned in Daniel's blue eyes as well. "You've gone into labor." He offered, watching her pull her face back to look at him with pain-filled, shocked eyes. "You're having the baby, Vala." He smiled lovingly, despite everything that was going horribly wrong.

His words induced a completely opposite reaction from her. She once again shook her head and fought to sit up.

"No!" Vala cried, struggling to get out of Daniel's grasp. "I can't."

Daniel's grip was strong on her. "Yes you can, and you are." He tried to keep his tone soothing.

Vala smacked her hand at his chest weekly. He didn't understand. It wasn't time. Part of it being different this time was having an actual set date for them to bring this life into the world. She didn't care how much the little thing wanted to come out - she just wasn't gonna allow it. This birth had to be perfect. It was Daniel's first and it had to be just right. "Not yet." She gasped as her body went into another spasm. "Two and a half weeks."

"No..." Daniel's voice had gone hard. He looked away from Vala as the car came to a sudden stop. They were at the base. Jack and Sam were out of the car in mere seconds, both throwing open a rear passenger door on each side. Still, he refused to budge as his gaze returned to Vala. "Whether you like it or not, this baby is here, now. And if you don't fight through this, you could die. Do you understand me?" His voice was rough with emotion, the tears finally spilling over onto his cheeks.

Taken in by his emotion, Vala could simply nod in response.

------

They all watched him pace back and forth before the iso room doors. Carolyn had successfully blocked him from going in when Vala had first been wheeled inside on a stretcher. That had been over two hours ago. Not once had Daniel stopped pacing.

"Jackson, man." Cam sighed, trying to find a more comfortable position in the hard plastic chair. "You're going to wear a hole in the floor." He wasn't afraid to admit that he was still a bit upset with the man for snapping at him. Sure, he understood that Daniel was having a rough time with this - they all were. But all he'd had to say on the phone was 'baby' and Cam would've handed the phone right over.

Daniel shot him a glare in response, continuing to go from one side of the doors to the other. He resisted the urge to slam his fist into Cam's face. The damn obstinate man didn't understand that the fate of his whole life hung in the balance. That he was on the brink of losing both Vala, and the unborn child still within her. Daniel could seriously go for hitting something right then, and Cam was definitely well on his way towards becoming that something.

Thank god Jack was standing between them. He was the buffer. Where Cam didn't understand, Daniel didn't even have to begin to wonder if Jack did. He just knew he did. Every time his blue eyes found those familiar brown ones, there was a subtle nod of understanding. It wasn't a nod to ensure everything would be alright - no, Jack would never promise that. It was just a nod to let Daniel know he wasn't alone in this, would never be alone in any of it, no matter what was to come. Of course Jack understood. He understood simply because he was...Jack.

The older man stepped up to Daniel, effectively halting his attempt to break the new pacing record. "You should sit down." He said quietly, lightly taking Daniel's hand in his.

"Jack." Daniel breathed.

"Daniel." Jack answered calmly. "The moment you go in there, Vala is going to need you to be alert and strong and there for her farther than every step of the way. And you won't be able to do that if you're dead on your feet."

Daniel was about to give in when one of the doors behind him swung open, a very haggard Carolyn stepping out. Her scrubs sported rather large patches of blood down the front. She immediately stepped up to Daniel. His blue eyes watched her anxiously.

"I've managed to stem the bleeding." Carolyn figured she'd start with something good as the others gathered around. It would be a welcome reprieve to what would follow. "Though I can't tell you how it started, or from where. It's such a jumbled mess down there. But we already figured the answers wouldn't be easy to find, if we find them at all." They all nodded. She breathed in deeply. Her gaze focused on Daniel specifically. "You were right - she's in labor and this baby is coming. How long it's going to take or how it's going to happen isn't something I can tell you. I'm basically going into this blind."

"This is where it gets hard for me to tell you all this." She admitted, looking down at the floor. "As you all know, the Ori tried to make it so that Vala could never bear her own natural children, at least not successfully for very long. I don't know how they did this - my theory is through her carrying of Adria. In any case, they set up various...failsafes at certain stages of pregnancy to prevent it from going to the next stage. If somehow she did get pregnant, there would be something to come along to end the life of the child within her."

Daniel swallowed and glared past Carolyn at nothing in particular. "The mother of the Orici will carry no other but her." His voice barely hid his fury.

Nodding, Carolyn took a moment to gather her thoughts. "That's my understanding of it. You all knew this pregnancy was doomed to fail at any time. Vala somehow managed to fight through it all relatively unscathed."

Cameron crossed his arms over his chest. "But..."

"But there's still one more failsafe."

Now Jack crossed his arms. "What are you saying?"

Carolyn looked straight into Daniel's eyes. His gaze was strong and clear. He understood what it meant. He knew what she was getting ready to say. "If, by some miracle, both Vala and the child made it to the final stages of the pregnancy, there was one last resort set in motion." Carolyn crossed her arms herself to stem off the feeling of dread she knew she wasn't suppose to have. "Childbirth would be fatal to both mother and offspring."

"What does this mean?" Jack asked, and all but Daniel turned baffled looks his way. "No, I understand what Carolyn said. Vala and the baby are destined to die. But what does it mean?" He still got nothing but confused looks.

Daniel knew what Jack was asking. He finally broke off from staring at the door to glance at the group. "It means if we had terminated the pregnancy from the get go, Vala wouldn't be dying now. If we had picked her life over that of our child's from the start, we wouldn't be here watching her suffer." His angry look challenged any of them to tell him they'd made the wrong choice. That in taking the risk, him and Vala had made a terrible mistake. Not one of them did. They all knew that taking risks was what they all did to survive.

Turning back to Carolyn, Daniel took a deep breath. "Does Vala know?"

She shook her head. "She was barely lucid when you brought her in, and she's been slipping in and out of consciousness since. But she does know that something is very wrong."

Daniel nodded, remembering her saying it to him in the car. "Can I be with her?" The anger had fled his voice, and it almost sounded like he was pleading.

Carolyn offered a smile of sorts. "Absolutely." She placed a hand on Daniel's back and ushered him towards the door. Later, she would let the others come and go, but they all seemed to sense how much he needed to be alone with Vala.

"I'm sorry I kicked you out earlier." The doctor offered, letting herself slip completely into the roll of friend for a moment. "I didn't want you to have to see all of what I had to do."

He offered her an understanding nod as his eyes fell on the figure on the bed, attached to a collection of various machines. "How is she?" Daniel finally asked, knowing the confidence of that information would be just between him and her. He didn't want to have to burden the others with any more than was necessary.

Carolyn put her doctor face back on. "I won't lie and tell you she's not in a lot of pain because she very much is. She is sedated, but not too heavily for fear of harming the baby." She moved her hand down to lightly grasp his, which squeezed back instinctively.

"Is she having trouble breathing?" Daniel asked as they came to stand next to the bed, his eyes falling on the mask covering Vala's nose and mouth.

"She is...she's having a lot of troubles." Carolyn moved away to snatch a stool for him. As she placed it behind him and Daniel took a seat, Carolyn made sure to catch his attention. "But she's fighting this every step of the way. She wants to be a mother so bad, I can tell. And she wants to give you the child you rightfully deserve."

Daniel blushed at her words, feeling deeply humbled. He turned to watch Vala, taking her slack hand in his. Carolyn marked it as the official start of his vigil.

"But her will is bound to buckle under all of this eventually." She hated to say it, but knew it was bound to happen. There was too much strain on Vala, both mentally and physically, for her defiance to win out in the end. At least on its own. "So she's gonna need you to be here for her, reminding her that she needs to fight this, okay?" Carolyn waited for Daniel to nod. She knew he knew this, but needed her own reassurances. "Always let her know you're here."

With that, Carolyn moved to leave and give Daniel his alone time with Vala. His words stopped the doctor not even before she'd taken a few steps.

"And the baby?"

She winced silently. "The baby is fine at this moment, but..."

"That's not likely to last." Daniel sighed, stroking his thumb over Vala's hand.

Not having anything to say to ease his pain, Carolyn turned to leave. Once again, Daniel stopped her. At least she'd made it as far as the door this time.

"Do you think we'll get through this?"

She turned to see him watching her with shining blue eyes. His gaze was intense and she knew he was expecting her honest opinion. "If I followed the facts, and the research I've put into all of this, I'd have to say no." Daniel watched on patiently, as if he was refusing to accept that answer. "But you guys have taught me that it's not always in the facts where the truth of things lie. It's through the heart that things are learned. I've seen the two of you perform miracles, in more ways than one. So, following my heart, I'd say you've got a fighting chance."

Carolyn was surprised to see a genuine grin come to Daniel's face.

"That's all we ever really need." He said before turning back to watch over his love.

-------

Tears were coming unchecked to her eyes. She could feel the pain in every inch of her body, could practically hear their unborn child screaming in agony. This was killing her - she knew she was going to die. Vala was tired of fighting. She was ready to die.

Except the pressure on her hand and the irritatingly gentle voice close to her ear wouldn't let her slip off to that unending oblivlion.

"Vala, stay awake." It commanded, much too loving and calm for all the pain she was feeling. She hated its owner. Hated everything about what that voice conveyed. There was hope and love and compassion and promises of a future in that deep, familiar voice. Things that she would never have again, things that she couldn't take to the darkness with her. Vala shook her head at the voice's order.

Daniel tightened his hold on Vala's hand as he leaned over her. "Yes, you need to open your eyes and keep them that way." He said in the same gentle tone he'd been using for the past hour. That was when the real contractions had set in and Vala had bolted awake with a heart-breaking cry. Things were now coming to a head, and he knew this was when she was going to need him most. He'd been there every time she'd woken before, telling her he loved her and how strong she was. But this was different. This time, when her strength to fight failed her, he would be there to take its place.

"I...I can't...fight...'s anymore." Vala whispered, keeping her eyes squeezed shut. All she wanted to do was slip into the darkness she could almost feel at her fingertips. If it wasn't for that blasted hand squeezing hers so hard. It squeezed even harder, and her eyes flew open as she yelped.

"You can fight this." Daniel told her, his calm never faltering. "You can and you will."

Vala glared at him. "I hate you."

Daniel offered a rough laugh in return. "Well, at least one thing went normal with this whole birthing. It's not the normal I was expecting, but I'll take it." He smiled at her, continuing to massage and squeeze her hand. Still, her eyes began to drift closed. "No, no baby. Keep them open."

"Too hard." She whimpered. "Lemme keep...closed. Please."

The voice filled her ears again. "No because you'll fall asleep and never wake up. I won't let you do that."

"Why?" Vala whined, tugging at the hand in hope to get it to just let go.

Daniel stepped up on the railing. "Because at the start of all of this, we both said we were gonna fight this all the way through, no matter what happened. Do you remember that?" He asked her. "Vala, do you remember that day?"

She shook her head, not really bothering to try and remember. Memories were another thing she couldn't take with her so why try and think of any?

"The day that you told me you were pregnant." He offered, and despite her attempt not to her mind brought the day to mind. And now she couldn't stop herself from listening. Once she heard the point, anyways, she could slip off like she wanted to. "You had that horrible cut on your hand, and we argued. I was so scared you wanted me to leave. That you wanted this thing between us to be over. Do you remember?"

"No." She lied, still refusing to open her eyes.

"Well, I do." Daniel smiled even though she wasn't looking at him. "I'll never forget that day. You told me you were pregnant! How could I forget THAT?!" He laughed despite the tears in his eyes. "It was the happiest day of my life. Even with all the troubles that lay ahead for us, we were so happy. And you promised me, like I promised you, that this would be a fight til the end."

Vala tried to turn her head away. "This is the end." She pulled at the hand once more.

Daniel pulled it back harder. "No way!" He voice was too cheery for the moment and she just wanted to slap him. How could he be happy when she was suffering and dying before his very eyes. Vala vowed that when she died, she was coming back to haunt his happy ass. Then she'd like to see him be all perky. "This can't be the end. You know why? Because we haven't broken any more rules yet, and we're so good at that. This is our 'screw the Ori', baby."

A sob escaped her lips as the pain of thousands of knives stabbing up from her uterus overtook her. "The Ori screwed me."

"Actually, technically, I screwed you." Daniel's tone held a hind of mischief. "Oh come on, that was funny! And I haven't even been drinking!"

"Oh god, I wish I was!" Vala wailed out as the pain got worse. This was way more than what it had been like with Adria. This time she could feel things tearing inside her. She knew she wasn't going to make this...she just knew. "I'm dying, Daniel." There, she'd finally admitted it. He had to know that she knew.

The pain in her hand got a little more unbearable. "No you are not. You can't because no little girl can live without her mother. Not when you're so destined to become such a fantastically awesome mommy. You can't deprive our little girl of that." Daniel stopped as Carolyn beckoned him from the other end of the bed.

"Daniel, this is it." Carolyn's voice was muffled behind her mask. "I'm gonna need her to push."

Daniel turned his attention back to Vala, who's eyes were closed again. Her hand was going slack in his, so he squeezed it fiercely. "Vala, wake up. It's time to have this baby girl."

"Don' know's girl." Vala mumbled, head listing.

Placing his other hand on her face, Daniel turned it back up towards him. "Yes we do. We said we are going to have the most beautiful, intelligent, kickass crusading little girl ever. She is going to save everyone, starting with us...Right now." He paused as Carolyn yelled at him to get her to push. "Now you have to wake up and push because the baby is here."

Vala just shook her head.

"Yes, Vala. You have to push." Daniel was vaguely aware of how much like deja-vu this was. This was almost exactly what he'd done with Sha're when she had been in labor. Except this time, this was his child being born. The woman he loved, that he had every intention of marrying some day, was giving birth to their beautiful little girl. "This little monster of ours is ready to come out kicking and screaming and fighting, just like us on our bad days." He smiled at Vala's sobbing laugh. That was a good sign. "Now push!"

And a scream shook the entire base as she did.

-----

Now both Jack and Cameron were pacing outside the doors. Hours of hustle, bustle, shouting, sobbing, and screaming had died down to an even worse silence. They'd heard no sound come from within the iso room for almost an hour now. And they found all they could do was pace.

Not a sign of Carolyn or Daniel had been seen. Any nurse that came out or went in would give them no information. It was as if the group of friends, the family, wasn't even there.

"Geeze, you'd think someone would tell us somethin'!" Cam growled as he and Jack crossed back and forth, him going one way and Jack the other.

"Your girlfriend is the one doing all the doctorin'" Jack paused, rejoicing in the scowl Landry, who had joined them not too long into their vigil, gave Mitchell.

Cam blushed under Landry's scrutiny, then turned a withering glare on Jack. He'd stopped treating him as the big CO some time back, except under the most formal circumstances. It'd helped move their friendship along, in most cases.

"Well, it's your spacemonkey who knocked up the princess and got us in this whole mess."

"Oh, you REALLY want me to throw you in the brig, don't you." Jack seethed. They'd been on edge for hours and Cam's backtalk wasn't helping. Cam seemed to accept the threat and stepped right up to Jack challengingly.

Teal'c picked that moment to reiterate his presence. "Do not make me get Daniel Jackson out here to separate you two."

Sam stepped into the mix herself. "Oh, could you? So we can really know what's going on instead of standing around bickering like a bunch of children."

"Stay out of this Mary Poppins." Cam held out his hand to her, still having a staredown with Jack.

The hallway burst into a cacophony of arguments being tossed from one to the other, and mixed in between.

-----

Carolyn gazed at the doorway where loud voices were filtering in from the other side. She then turned back to the couple in the middle of the room. Stepping up to them, she placed a light hand on Daniel's shoulder.

"I think I need to go put them all in time out." She whispered in his ear, but loud enough so Vala could hear.

Daniel grinned, his gaze never drifting away from the blanket-wrapped bundle in his arms. "You do that. And tell them to give me a minute." Finally, he looked up at Vala. She was propped up on pillows, fighting desperately to keep her eyes open. Ironic how just an hour before, she was fighting to let them close forever. "There's still one more thing to take care of."

Carolyn nodded and patted his shoulder, making sure to brush a hand over Vala's hair before heading out the door. The two shared a laugh as the loudness on the other side came to a sudden halt.

"We never decided on a name." Daniel murmured, looking from Vala back to their baby, who was already sucking lightly on his fingers. It was a weird sensation which he enjoyed to no end.

Vala dropped her head to Daniel's shoulder, gaze also focused on the new life. "Was there something specific you wanted?" She yawned as her hand came to rest atop the baby's head.

Sighing, Daniel shook his head. "I thought there was, but after everything I don't think it's that important." He turned his head to rest his lips in her still sweat soaked, limp hair. "Besides I think this kid's super amazing mommy deserves the honor." He placed a kiss where her lips were. "She did practically come back from the dead just to make sure this little one could be."

She laughed a little in response, then frowned. "You're gonna think it's stupid of me." Vala admitted, rejecting the idea with a shake of her head.

Daniel rested his cheek against her head. "I can more than promise you I won't." His voice was soft and loving.

Vala couldn't help the grin that broke out on her face. She pulled back from Daniel to look at him excitedly. She actually had put a lot of thought into this. She was a girl, after all. "Well, you know those Star Wars movies..."

------

Two of the group where practically shoving each other like five year olds when Daniel backed through the doorway, careful of the cargo he now carried in his arms. Their bickering stopped the moment they laid eyes on him and the latest edition to their family.

"Hey guys." Daniel said softly, allowing the others to circle around him. Every one of them was smiling in some way, Jack's being the most profound shit-eating grin the archaeologist had ever seen grace his best friend's features.

Sam ran a gentle finger over a tiny cheek. "And who is this little one?" Her voice was overcome with happy emotions.

Daniel smiled and looked down at the baby in his grasp, little fingers on a tiny hand lightly gripping his. "Everyone, I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of the SG-1 family." He grinned as she let out a tiny cough in her sleep. "My daughter, Hayden Lynn Jackson."

A/N: I did like ya'll's ideas about tying it into BOtR, but I already have enough storylines running there as it is. Plus, it's an added bonus to get to read it all in one go! I'm a bit worried it turned into a bit of a cop out at the end, but in my defense I wrote this ALL in one day, most of the story being done in one sitting. Even with that, I want to know how it all worked out? Was it too over the top? Hate it or LVOE it? Please please please review and let me know, because as you know I LVOE reviews!