The Naming Game
Jack slipped out of the room, leaving Sam and his youngest child to be fawned over by the rest of SG-1. With a clipboard tucked securely under his arm, he cast cautious glances up and down the relatively deserted corridor. He had to duck into a few unoccupied patient rooms along the way, but eventually he made it to a rarely used supply closet.
Checking over his shoulder, Jack made sure no one was around before ducking inside. He flicked the light on and settled himself in the far corner of the room. Then he clicked his pen and began filling out the paperwork, balancing the clipboard on his knees.
It didn't take long to fill out the forms. Once he was done, a triumphant smile spread across his face.
Turning the light off behind him, Jack pulled the door shut and strode confidently through the halls. He didn't bother dodging other people this time, accepting the many congratulations that were offered throughout the journey.
Before returning to Sam's room, he swung by Carolyn's office to drop off the clipboard. Jack poked his head through the door to make sure he was clear to enter.
"I'm surprised you put her down," Carolyn teased, grinning.
"Would you have told Teal'c he couldn't hold her?" Jack retorted. Sauntering into the room, he held the clipboard out in front of him.
Carolyn accepted the board and skimmed its contents. "I make a habit of not telling Teal'c 'no.' That's what my staff is for… Are you serious?" she demanded suddenly. She looked up at Jack in wide-eyed surprise.
"Yeahsureyabetcha!" He casually stuffed his hands in his pockets.
"She really agreed to this?" Carolyn asked skeptically. "I mean, with all due respect, General, your fights over this are practically legendary around here."
"The boys have been calling her that for months and we didn't want to confuse them by switching it up now," he explained calmly. After all, it was a perfectly reasonable explanation for Sam's sudden change of heart.
Carolyn thought it over for a few moments, then nodded. "Okay. I'll get the paperwork started."
"Thanks," Jack said. He flashed her a tired grin. "For everything."
"Hey, this is by far my favourite part of the job," she replied. "Thank you for letting me deliver her."
"Glad to be of service," Jack said as he backed out of the room. "I should get back."
"I'll be by a little later to check on mom and baby," Carolyn promised distractedly. Her attention was already back on her computer screen.
Without another word, Jack left the office and made a beeline for Sam's room. He'd hoped to be able to slip back in unnoticed, but he really should have known better.
The moment he swaggered through the door, seven sets of eyes locked on him with varying degrees of suspicion, wariness, amusement and excitement.
"Daddy! Babies are small!" Jackson informed his father in the stage whisper he'd obviously been scolded into using around his sleeping baby sister.
"She doesn't kick Mommy any more," Jake added. He sounded very pleased about that.
"Are you guys being gentle with Mommy and the baby?" Jack asked quietly, delaying the inevitable. He got two solemn nods in reply.
"Where have you been?" Sam demanded. Her eyes narrowed with suspicion.
"I just wanted to drop by Hank's office and let him know it was a girl after all." Jack shrugged nonchalantly, ignoring the skeptical looks he was getting from the others.
"General Landry was here," Teal'c informed him. The big Jaffa was wearing a smirk that screamed 'busted!' "He departed only moments ago."
Sam was definitely Teal'c's favourite, Jack decided. The big guy always took her side.
"I know," Jack lied glibly. He really hoped he could cover his mistake. "He wasn't in his office, so I came back. I got stopped by just about everyone on the way back… It took a while."
"Where's the clipboard?" Vala asked from her perch on one corner of the bed.
Cam scooped an increasingly restless Jackson up off the bed before his squirming could wake the baby. "What clipboard?"
"The one Jack left with," Vala replied, despite the pointed 'shut up!' look Jack shot her.
Jack decided then and there that Sam must be Vala's favourite too.
"The clipboard with all the paperwork we were supposed to fill out for Doctor Lam?" Sam asked. Her eyes narrowed even further as she scanned the room in search of the aforementioned clipboard.
Daniel's eyes widened in disbelief as he realized just what his friend had done. "You didn't!"
"I believe he did, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c replied. He casually clasped his hands behind his back and turned to watch Sam's reaction.
"Jack O'Neill, if you did what I think you did…" Sam growled warningly.
"All right, everybody out!" Carolyn declared, appearing in the doorway. "Let's give Sam some privacy to feed Carter Catherine O'Neill."
One look at Sam was all it took for the others to realize it was time to clear out for an entirely different reason.
Vala hopped off the bed and grabbed Jake under the arms. She followed Cam's hurried exit, talking loudly about going to get ice cream in order to stop either of the little boys from complaining about their abrupt departure.
Teal'c stayed only long enough to give Jack one last amused smirk. Then, smart man that he was, he beat a hasty retreat, trailing in Cam and Vala's wake.
Daniel dallied only a few seconds longer than the others. He leaned over the bed and, under the pretense of planting a kiss on Sam's cheek, he murmured, "If you kill him, I'll bring you a zat so there's no body to hide."
Then he was gone too, leaving an angry Sam, confused Carolyn and dead Jack behind.
"Oh, Carolyn," Sam began sweetly. All the while, she was glaring at her husband. "What did you just call my daughter?"
"Carter Cath…" the doctor trailed off. Her eyes went wide as she realized it was Jack's foolishness and not her instructions that had cleared the room so quickly.
"You said she agreed!" Carolyn cried, whirling around to face Jack.
"You can't blame a guy for trying." Jack shrugged. "Print off the paperwork again. We'll toss around some names and get it back to you in a few hours."
"I can't do that." Carolyn shifted awkwardly and shot an apologetic look at Sam.
"Why not?" Sam demanded. She was still glaring at Jack.
"Because I already submitted the paperwork."
Sam thudded her head against the pillows behind her several times. To keep her from waking their still sleeping daughter, Jack swooped in and took the infant from her arms.
"So we'll just fill out the paperwork to change her legal name." It was no big deal, as far as he was concerned. So long as his daughter was healthy, nothing else mattered.
Sam sighed heavily. The long-suffering sigh of a woman who put up with a great many shenanigans from her husband. "No, we won't."
"We won't?" Jack parroted, confused.
Glancing down at the baby in his arms, he wondered if this would be the last time he'd get to hold her. Sam might very well follow through on her threat and send the little girl to be raised by Ishta and her Amazon friends.
"We won't," Sam confirmed. "The boys have been calling her 'Carter' for months. Changing her name now will just confuse them."
"It will?" Carolyn asked disbelievingly. Her surprised gaze shifted to Jack.
"It will!" Jack grinned, pleased his bluff about Sam's logic had been right on the money.
"And I guess there are worse names than 'Carter'," Sam conceded.
"Like 'Matilda'," Jack reminded, grimacing.
Glancing at the baby again, he tried to imagine her running around the backyard, careening in his direction on unsteady toddler legs when he hollered 'Matilda.'
He couldn't picture it.
"So, no change of name forms?" Carolyn clarified hopefully.
Sam sighed again. "No."
"Okay." Carolyn sagged with relief. She made a vague gesture towards the door and said, "I'm just going to…" and then she was gone.
"So, Carter Catherine O'Neill?" Jack confirmed. He arched a hopeful eyebrow at his wife.
"Yes, Jack." Sam smiled at him indulgently. "You win. You finally get your daughter named 'Carter'."
"And will I still be around to watch her and her brothers grow up?" Jack pressed.
Just in case the answer was 'no,' he dropped a feather-light kiss on his daughter's tiny forehead.
"That remains to be seen," Sam replied wryly. Then she grinned at him. "Daniel's offered to smuggle me a zat, so you'd better be on your best behaviour."
And damned if she wasn't Daniel's favourite too. Of course, that had been obvious since day one.
Jack realized he was going to have to start bribing Cameron. He was the only hope Jack had left of anyone ever taking his side.
"I'm going to be paying for this for a very, very long time, aren't I?"
Sam held her arms out, wanting to hold her sleeping daughter. "Oh yes, that you can count on," she promised.
"In my defense, I had no idea the paperwork would go through that fast," Jack said. He reluctantly handed the baby over, conscious of the fact that there was now nothing left to stop Sam from attacking him.
"Seriously," he continued. "When has bureaucracy ever moved that quickly?"
"Impressive bureaucratic efficiency aside, you're still in trouble," Sam reminded as she settled the baby in her arms. "But… I don't know. Maybe you're right. 'Carter' might be kind of cute as a girl's name. Maybe. Possibly."
Jack took a seat on the edge of the bed. He was in the strike zone, but he doubted Sam would bother when she had her arms full of newborn baby.
"If you really hate it, we can change it."
She regarded him seriously. "It's really important to you, isn't it? At first I thought you kept bringing it up because it drove me crazy, but you hate paperwork. You wouldn't have filled it out today if you weren't serious."
"Yeah," Jack agreed. He leaned forward, pressing a kiss to his wife's forehead before kissing his daughter again. "It's important to me."
"You could have said so."
"I thought I did." Jack smirked. "Nine months at a time."
"She's beautiful," Sam breathed, effectively changing the subject.
"Just like her mom," he agreed. He rubbed a gentle thumb down their daughter's tiny nose. "I love you. Both of you," he added.
"I love you too." Sam grinned, despite the exhaustion pinching her features. "Now, go shut the door so I can feed our daughter in privacy."
"Yes, ma'am," Jack replied. He fired off a sloppy salute as he got to his feet.
He was under no illusions. He'd be on diaper duty indefinitely as punishment for his transgression, but he didn't care. His daughter had finally entered this world, arriving healthy and whole, and to top off the day, he had finally convinced Sam to let him name their little girl after her.
Right now, life was pretty much perfect.