SUMMARY: He wasn't fine. S3 Maternal Instinct Tag.
SEASON/SPOILERS: Major ones for Maternal Instinct.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is another old story of mine from 2005 that was originally published in the zine Ancient's Gate VIII: Legends. I am trying to streamline all my Gen fic in one place and ff dot net seems a good place for now :).
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Stargate: SG-1 or anything associated with it. I'm simply borrowing, but I promise to return all in one piece. Eventually.
"You all right?"
"Let's go home."
- Maternal Instinct, S3
It was late, and he was working. Another translation, another headache, another night he'd lost track of time until the throbbing between his temples reminded him it was past midnight and he'd forgotten to eat dinner. Again.
Daniel sighed and took off his glasses, dangling the lenses in one hand while the other came up to wipe his tired eyes.
A sandwich sat in the corner of his desk, untouched. A contribution from Jack, when he'd dropped by at six to let him know he was heading out. Though he'd quickly learned Jack hadn't truly intended it to be eaten in the first place. He recalled the conversation he'd had with his friend.
Jack had made his way in, plopping a tray down on his desk with a thud. Daniel acknowledged him with a tight smile.
Jack stuck around, picked up things Daniel really wished he'd let be and tried to convince Daniel that ESPN was better than staring at some old rock.
"Tablet," Daniel corrected.
Jack shrugged. "Same thing. Both of 'em are old, heavy, and hard."
"Jack…" He had work to do and preferred being able to do it uninterrupted.
"Come on, we'll round up Teal'c and Carter. Hit up that steak place. Do some team bonding. And drink beer."
"I hate beer." He shifted his desk lamp.
Jack shifted it back. "You like steak, though. And it's better than that sandwich I brought you from the commissary."
"Not tonight. SG-12 brought these tablets back and I promised I'd try and get a translation to Hammond by tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? Daniel, you're not a machine. You haven't gone home since we got back from Kheb, which, may I remind you was two days ago."
Kheb. Yes, he guessed it had been that long since he'd seen the inside of his apartment. "I've been busy." He moved the lamp again and went back to the tablet.
"Uh huh," Jack replied, his tone colored with disbelief. "I thought you were okay with this whole Oma thing."
Daniel didn't look up. "I am."
"Which is Daniel-speak, for 'of course I'm not okay, Jack, but I don't want to talk about it. Not now, not ever.'"
Daniel sighed. "No, it means I'm fine. I asked you to lower your weapons didn't I?" Jack said nothing. "Listen, Jack, any other time and I might be willing to have a long discussion with you in which I can convince you that my mental health is yet again back on track, but I really need to get some work done. So, please?" The "leave" was unstated, but Daniel hoped understood.
"Okay, Daniel. I'm going home. But the light's on and you know where the key is."
Daniel dropped his glasses to his desk as the memory faded.
He wasn't fine.
Nope. No matter how many times he said it, he couldn't convince himself it was the truth. No matter how much he wanted it to be.
There were so many emotions running through his brain. Oma Desala had flown up into the sky, towards the gate, destroying all in her way in order to protect the boy. After all, he was precious cargo. He was the child Sha're had told him to find.
But he couldn't do such a thing. Not by himself. Amaunet had hidden the child because she knew exactly what was on Kheb. Why the baby would be safe.
Then, why, did Sha're want him to find the child? Oma Desala could protect boy better than he ever could on Earth. Why, then, did Sha're tell him to locate the child? Yes, he was Harsesis. Important strategic information, definitely, but it didn't help Daniel protect the boy.
It just let him know that Apophis and his crew wouldn't rest until they had located his son.
His and Sha're's son.
In the end, he knew what bothered him. It had bothered him when he'd delivered the child almost a year previous. He'd stomped the feelings down, left the child with Kasuf and focused on finding his wife.
He didn't dwell on what Apophis had done.
The one thing Daniel couldn't give Sha're, Apophis had given her. Hell, it could have even happened on the first try, for all he knew.
On Abydos, he and Sha're had desperately tried to have a baby. Sha're was already behind her friends in the childbearing department.
Shyly, Sha're just smiled and had told him that she would give him many sons as soon as she could. Suddenly parenthood didn't seem so terrifying. He laughed gently.
"Or daughters," he responded. It didn't matter to him, as long as they had her eyes. He had never thought much about fatherhood before. He'd been too involved in academic desires and proving his theories. His one long-term relationship had ended sorely when he pursued his 'crazy' ideals.
Marriage, fatherhood had been the furthest from his mind. His childhood hadn't exactly shown him how to be good father and as much as he hated to admit it, the memories of his parents were fading with each passing day, much like the one photo of them he still possessed. How could he be a good father when he could barely remember the things that had made his own dad so wonderful? Thus, he'd thought children might not be a part of his future. It would be safer that way.
Until Sha're. All she had to do was say the word and he agreed. Knew it was what she wanted. Knew it would take time to adjust when the moment arrived, but that he could get through it just fine. As long as they had each other, he could survive anything, least of all parenthood.
He remembered the moment. He had been studying the strings of addresses, trying to make sense of them, when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
"Sha're, what you doing here?" he had responded, even as his face broke out into a grin. She didn't usually follow. She did chores during the day, and he would return to help her with the remainder. No other men did this - he was laughed at at first. That is, until he learned Sha're was the envy of the tribe for having such a husband who would help.
"I could not wait, husband." She spoke English, practicing what he was teaching her.
"Couldn't wait for what?" He smiled at her, waiting for her to continue. "Something bring you all the way here?"
"Not just Sha're." She pulled his hand from the wall to place it on her stomach. "Sha're plus another."
He stared at his hand a minute before it registered. A joy he'd never felt flooded him. She watched his response, smiling.
"Wow," he finally breathed. "You mean …"
"Yes," she said. "I am with child."
The world seemed right at that moment. He pulled her close to him, her back up against him, and laid both hands on her stomach. Their love would bring a life into the world. Years from now he'd be able to tell his kid that she was in this world because he loved her mom with all his heart and soul.
It was not to be. Sha're went into labor early - too early. If he was correct, the baby was born at six months and was stillborn. A little boy, one who looked just perfect. He had ten fingers, ten toes. He was just too small to survive in the world. Kasuf had forced him to hold the child in his arms, when he refused, and he cried. Sha're was not well - the pregnancy and early delivery had taken a lot out of her, yet once again Kasuf pushed him and the child to his wife's side. Weak, she touched the child.
The sight was almost too unbearable to watch and he felt the tears fall as they both mourned the life that hadn't even gotten a chance.
He was buried three days later, in a ceremony celebrated by many. Daniel hadn't seen so many people come together since his and Shar'e's wedding reception. The child remained nameless. Abydonian custom held the belief that a child does not receive its name until the third moon after its birth when it had developed a personality suitable for a name to be applied to.
Sha're had wanted to try again, but he was reluctant. Another loss in a string of many had hit him hard. By the time Sha're convinced him it was all right to try again, Jack was back and she was gone.
Just like that.
Daniel blinked, startled back into the present when something wet hit his hand.
Tears. Tears he didn't know he still had left.
He wanted the child. And not just the one he and Sha're created that lay in the sands of Abydos, now with his mother.
He wanted the Harsesis child, too.
No, not Harsesis. That didn't sound right. It was impersonal and not fitting for something so tiny and innocent. He was flesh and blood and deserved to be acknowledged as more than simply "the boy" or "Harsesis."
This child would always be more to him. Daniel had held that baby in his arms and in felt so good, so right. The weight bore into his soul and he saw Sha're in those eyes. There he was holding a living, breathing reminder of his wife, something that would grow and remind him each day that she had existed.
It was almost as if she'd left a gift behind just for him.
He'd always doubted his parenting skills, even after Sha're was pregnant. Yes, he was happy and couldn't wait to take the baby, their baby into his arms, but he feared he'd never be able to hack it. That the insecure boy still deep within him would find its way to surface and leave its mark in everything he tried accomplish.
Sha're trusted him. Told him he'd make a fine father. Was this her way of saying she still believed that?
Would he really have been able to care for the boy? Was he really ready to open his home to him? Daniel's spare bedroom was nothing more than storage space; it was hardly an environment for a child.
Did he even think he'd ever find the boy?
He sighed, deeper this time. His head was pondering now, fast working its way towards full-blown migraine.
He closed his eyes. Jack was right. He needed to get out.
He drove around aimlessly for almost an hour until his head practically pleaded with him to stop. The first light of day was peeking over the horizon and squinting only made his need for Tylenol increase.
He ended up at Jack's.
He'd intended to go home, down half a dozen Tylenol and throw himself across him bed, but instead, he found himself parked in Jack's driveway, his hands gripping the steering wheel for dear life.
It was almost five-thirty a.m. Jack was probably up, the military having made the man a disgusting early riser. In the very early days of SG-1, when Daniel was still taking up space in Jack's spare room, he would hear him milling around in the pre dawn. Daniel had just groaned and flipped over during those times, not understanding how Jack could be coherent at that hour. Especially when it was their day off.
Sure enough, Daniel noticed a single light through the front window. Jack was in the kitchen. Jack might even have coffee.
Daniel turned the key and pulled it from the ignition.
Jack opened the door before Daniel even had a chance to locate Jack's key.
"About time" was his greeting to the archaeologist.
"Um, good morning to you, too, Jack."
"You're behind schedule, Daniel. I expected you around three. I even left the coffee maker on."
Daniel smiled sheepishly. "Yeah, well…" He sniffed. "There's coffee, now, right?"
Jack just grinned and shook his head. "Of course there's coffee. What do you take me for?"
Jack gestured Daniel in with his hand and slammed the door behind him. Daniel made a beeline for the coffee machine. The wonderful, expensive coffee machine that he'd given Jack as a thank-you for letting him say there three years ago. Jack hadn't understood the gift; he insisted he had a pretty good coffee maker. Daniel told him that Jack expected Daniel to be drinking coffee at his house, there had to be a proper coffee maker.
It took Jack three months to figure out to finally use the thing, and Daniel laughed, because Jack's pride wouldn't allow him to ask his friend for help or read the instruction manual.
Daniel poured himself a coffee and sat at the table, wrapping his fingers around the mug, reveling in its warmth.
Daniel looked up. Jack had placed three Tylenol gel-caps on the table next to him.
"You have a headache," Jack said. "And don't lie and say you don't. Your eyes are doing that squinty thing and I'd prefer you'd try and cut the incoming migraine off at the chase. Unless of course, you'd like to visit Janet and her handy dandy Imitrex meds in the morning."
"It's already morning," Daniel groused before scooping up the capsules and swallowing them with a gulp of coffee. Jack poured himself a cup and settled in the chair across from Daniel.
"So…" he started.
Daniel sighed. "I lied, Jack. I'm not fine."
"I…don't what I am, but…" He was searching for the words, but they weren't easy to find.
Jack took a sip of his coffee. "You wanted the kid, didn't you?"
Daniel blinked. How did Jack know? How had Jack gotten so good at reading him? Was he really that transparent?
"Yes," he admitted softly. "I actually thought that Oma was trying to show me how to protect him. How to help him, so that I could care for him on Earth. Part of his DNA is Sha're's."
"And part of it is Apophis', with a little Amaunet thrown in for good measure," Jack pointed out.
"He's just a child, Jack."
"One who possesses all the knowledge of the Gou'ld. Something you were quick to point out during this entire search, I might add."
"So? Jack, if you're trying to help, you're failing. Miserably."
Jack sighed. "Daniel, I *am* trying to help. You stepped foot on Kheb to find this Harsesis child and before I knew it, you're turning a little flame into what could have easily been the beginning of a three alarm fire. We're listening to some guy spout sentences that made no sense. Next thing, you're telling us you have the power to protect the kid. Then, proof, you do a one-eighty and this Oma character is floating through the sky, kid in hand, taking Jaffa down as she went."
Daniel swallowed. "Do you have a point, Jack? I'm waiting for the point."
"If this kid is really Harsesis, do you ever think the Gou'ld won't keep trying to find it? By keeping him on Earth, aren't we just inviting the Gou'ld to our front door? Besides," he added, "you don't have a crib. Or a changing table. Or diapers."
"I could have gotten them."
"You could," Jack agreed. "And you know Carter, Teal'c, and I would have showered the kid with presents and Fraiser would be the first in line to volunteer babysitting services. But, Daniel, even though this child is Sha're's, would you ever be able to look at him and see only Sha're?"
"What do you mean?" He was confused. Of course he'd love this child. How could he not?
"He's Apophis's as well. Could you look at him every day and not be reminded of that snake with your wife? Is that fair to the kid?"
Daniel hadn't thought of that. He tried not to picture his sweet Sha're in the arms of Apophis. She would have never done such a thing; Amaunet was in control. Still, it was Sha're's body and…
No! He couldn't think about. Didn't want to think about it.
"No, I could see past that. Sha're wasn't in control. It wasn't her fault."
Jack regarded him seriously. "No, she wasn't. But would you really have been able to remember that?"
"He's part of Sha're. That's all that important. I just wanted something to hold on to, since we lost…" He trailed off. No one knew about the baby he and Sha're lost on Abydos and he wasn't about to bring it up. It wasn't fair to Jack, it could stir up memories of Charlie and Daniel didn't want to depress Jack. Daniel was already depressed enough for the two of them.
Daniel shook his head. "It's not important. It happened a while ago."
"Of course it's important, Daniel. I can't understand you if I don't have the whole story."
The whole story. Daniel wasn't sure he wanted to revisit that tale for the second time in the past five hours. But he knew Jack wasn't about to let Daniel off the hook now. Not since he Jack let him off the hook last night. He took a deep breath and dove in.
"Sha're and I…well, she was pregnant during that year I was on Abydos."
"She was pregn…oh." Understanding lit up Jack's face. "I'm sorry, Daniel."
Daniel swallowed, his throat suddenly feeling very thick, and shook his head slowly. "The baby was stillborn at six months. It was a boy. I know I shouldn't be so upset—"
"Why not? He was your son, Daniel. You have every right to be upset!"
"He didn't get a chance. I didn't even get to know him. Not like Charlie."
Jack clenched his fist. "Damn it, Daniel! You can't go and compare things like that! Losing a child is devastating, whether they are newborn, ten, twenty, hell even forty. They're still part of you, no matter how long they existed."
"I didn't even have a chance to bond," he defended.
"See, Daniel, that's where you're wrong. You bonded the very second you knew he existed. The first moment I put my hand across Sara's stomach…" Jack trailed off a moment before continuing. "He existed, Daniel," Jack finished, his voice low.
Daniel felt wetness prick his eyes. He didn't cry and he didn't want to start. "He did, didn't he?" His throat felt so tight now that he feared he couldn't even swallow if he tried. "I just wanted a part of Sha're to be here, physically. A child…"
"I know," Jack agreed. "But you made sure he was safe. You did what Sha're asked for."
"Yeah," Daniel breathed. "But why doesn't it feel like enough? Why does it still hurt?"
"Because life's not fair. And things don't turn out like you hoped. Like you wanted. Sometimes you can lock yourself up and beat yourself up for doing everything right." Jack gave him a small smile. "Someone very special taught me that."
Daniel couldn't help letting a tiny grin escape. "He sounds very wise."
Jack shrugged. "Well, he doesn't think he is. But I think he doesn't give himself enough credit."
Daniel felt the lump in his throat start to dissipate. How did he survive without Jack? He considered himself lucky to have such a great best friend. Stubborn as hell, but then again, Daniel figured Jack would say the same of him. They were different, yet no so different at all.
Jack shrugged. "Light's always on. Besides, I need someone to show me how to turn the coffee machine off."
"You'd actually listen?"
"Nah, but does it matter?"
"No," Daniel said, shaking his head. "It doesn't."
Sha're's child was safe. And although it would take time, in the end, he knew that was all that mattered.