Whisper

"Grampa Nick!" Manda demanded, slapping her hand angrily down on the bed. Her eyes welled with tears that Daniel knew, this time at least, weren't calculated to charm him.

He sighed and folded his arms, walking slowly and deliberately up to her. It was beginning to seem like both of his children were closer to Nick than they were to him. It was understandable, of course, that Manda would want Nick at naptime; she was used to her great-grandfather being there during the day, especially when Daniel and Vala were off-world. Knowing that, though, didn't stop the twinge he felt at the idea of his daughter wanting someone--anyone--other than himself.

"No," he said firmly. "No Grandpa Nick. It's naptime."

"Daddy! You're so annoying!" the toddler declared in disgust.

Daniel bit the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing and sternly pointed a finger. "Lie down, young lady. Now."

She scowled for a long moment, but finally scooted back in the bed and settled onto the pillow. Then, she promptly inserted her thumb in her mouth and glared, daring him to remove it. He closed his fingers gently around her wrist and did so, rather surprised at how easily she let him.

"Daddy need a nap," she grumbled.

"I think Manda needs a nap," he replied, fighting a smile.

"Daddy cranky," she insisted, lifting her chin defiantly.

"Daddy is not cranky!" Daniel laughed despite himself.

"Mmm-hmm," she nodded.

"Mmm-mmm," he'd started to shake his head before realizing what he was doing and abruptly sighed. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he attempted, "It's time to face the wall and close your eyes now, Monkey."

"Manda have story?" she asked hopefully.

"Okay," he sighed softly. "One story."

Never one to discourage his children's enjoyment of reading, he walked over to the bookshelf and picked up Goodnight Moon, which fortunately happened to be one of her current favorite books. Manda was sitting up again when he turned around to hold it up for her approval, and she nodded enthusiastically. Returning to the side of the bed, he folded his arms and waited expectantly.

She tilted her head sweetly and offered him a grin that was well worthy of her mother. "What?" she asked, feigning innocence.

"You need to lie down before Daddy can read," replied Daniel, covering his mouth with his hand and trying desperately not to laugh.

"Why?" she asked.

"Because it's naptime, Manda, c'mon," he said, allowing a touch of sharpness into his tone.

She eyed him stubbornly, and he set himself for more arguing, but she reluctantly lowered herself onto the pillows again. "Cranky," she muttered with a smug nod.

Daniel shook his head and perched on the edge of the bed to open the book. The repetition and rhyme, he knew, often had a way of lulling her despite her best efforts to stay awake, but this time he had gotten through the entire poem twice and she was still quite happily willing to recite along with him. She whined a protest when he closed the book without a third read, but he set it on the bedside table and thoughtfully pushed out his lower lip.

"How about I rub your back for a while, Monkey?" he suggested.

"Then more story?" she grinned.

"Maybe," allowed Daniel, though he hoped that a back rub might induce an actual nap.

"Kay," she decided, wriggling onto her stomach. He smiled again as his hand began slow, circular motions on her back. She had him as firmly wrapped around her finger as her mother did, and they both knew it. In fact, he'd known it the day she was born, but he couldn't say he'd ever minded.

After a few minutes, he finally felt her muscles begin to slacken and leaned forward to kiss the back of her head. At the touch of his lips, she tensed again and turned over. He opened his mouth to scold her, but her bottom lip jutted out.

"Dada, stay," she ordered.

"Manda, you don't call me Dada anymore," he frowned.

"Stay," she said again, her chubby arms coiling tightly around his neck.

"Okay," he promised, pressing his lips to her forehead. "If I lie down with you for a while, will you take a nap?"

Her brow furrowed with displeasure at the idea, but she grudgingly nodded. Closing his eyes briefly, Daniel kicked off his shoes and resigned himself to an afternoon spent scrunched up in the purple, toddler-sized bed. A few minutes of jostling later, she was cuddled against his chest, happily humming something that sounded vaguely like Daddy's Girl.

"Shh," he murmured, not particularly minding when she didn't. He rested his lips in her hair and closed his eyes, soothed by the rhythm of her heart next to his and the soft, tuneless crooning. Had it really been three years ago that he'd first held her aboard Ba'al's mothership? Sometimes it seemed far longer, but most of the time it felt as though the days had flown by. Despite his best intentions, he knew he still spent far too much time off-world than he'd ever intended. In another few days, he'd have to go again, but for now at least, he could let his little girl sing him to sleep…

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"Grampa Nick!" Manda shouted as her unmistakable footsteps pounded down the stairs.

Eyes widening, Nick snapped closed his book and stuffed it down on the side of the recliner. Pushing his feet down as the little girl burst into the living room, he exclaimed. "Manda! What are you doing out of your bed?"

"Daddy sleeping in my bed!" she grinned.

"Your daddy is not sleeping in your bed," he chided, getting up. He sighed, extending a hand to her before he started for the stairs. "You come with me right now, and we're going to take a nap."

"Daddy sleeping in my bed," she repeated, still grinning as she took the hand he offered and trotted back upstairs beside him.

Nick stopped short in her bedroom doorway, his mouth slightly agape at the sight of Daniel indeed asleep in the little bed. He ducked out again and crossed the hall to the nursery, where Vala was feeding Nicky. He stood silently in the doorway for a moment, waiting for her to look up, then gestured with a finger for her to follow him.

Vala frowned and rose, carrying the baby with her into Manda's room. She stopped in the doorway beside Nick, where she let out a little snort of laughter. Manda spun to look at her, index finger pressed urgently to her lips.

"Whisper, Mama! Daddy need a nap!"

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As a final note: this fic does have multiple sequels set later in Daniel and Vala's marriage. They were written as sequels because I fully intended to stop this AU here, but readers asked for more, and challenge prompts gave me the necessary inspiration.

They will be posted in the upcoming future. I am not sure when. If you enjoyed Fire and Water, feel free to add me to your Author Alerts subscription. DON'T subscribe to a story alert for this fic; you won't get update notices because the story itself is complete.

In chronological order, the stories in this universe are:

-Fire and Water (written early s9; What if Vala had been able to ring back after destroying the first Supergate?)

-Interlude ( a loosely interconnected collection of fics set in the same universe as Fire and Water. They were written after the series itself, so I don't include them as part of it. )

-Rediscovered Hearts (a 46 chapter epic set in the third year of Daniel and Vala's marriage, involves the birth of their first child and an exploration of Vala's past.)

-In The Moment (a loosely interconnected collection of fics similar to the Interlude set. They were written shortly after I wrote Rediscovered Hearts, but take place before Beyond Breaking.

-The Promise of Thorns (an SGA fic set in the same verse. It's the SGA equivalent to Fire and Water, kicking off a crossover sequel called Beyond Breaking.)

-A Rediscovered Christmas ( a Christmas series set in the RH universe. Hijinx abound when Vala's Santa Trap actually works. Just silly, but I had lots of fun writing it.)

-Beyond Breaking ( the planned followup to RH and Promise. I and some of the RH readers on LJ readers were speculating about season 10 and what might happen if the Ori returned in the RH AU somewhat later than they did in canon. About six chapters have been written, but the end of SG-1 s10 and SGA s3 really blew the fic out of the water. It will be done eventually, just don't know when.)

-Idyll Days (the final collection of short interconnected fics in this AU, set after the resolution of the Ori conflict)