Affirmation of Life
Sam rang to say that she would be late.
Apparently Felger's screw up had morphed into something of monumental proportions leading to three teams being stranded off world and she wasn't sure when she would be finished, there was even the possibility that she would have to pull an all nighter.
I had been able to tell from the cadence of her voice that she wasn't looking forward to being away from Hannah for such a long period of time, that she was missing her, but I also knew that her professionalism would win out and she wouldn't leave the mountain until she had rectified the problem and had gotten those three stranded teams safely back home.
She had asked whether everything had gone alright today. I would like to think that the question hadn't come about by her lack of trust in my ability to look after our daughter and more to do with her curiosity as to how the layman had gotten on with his first full day of unaccompanied parenthood.
So I gave her a rundown of our day, even managing to elicit a prolonged bout of laughter from her when I recounted my ineptitude in being able to change a baby's diaper without getting nuclear grade waste in places I'd much rather forget.
It felt good to talk to her in a way that wasn't strained and loaded with all the baggage that we now invariably had between us. I took comfort in the fact that she wanted to talk, albeit about Hannah, but at least the lines of communication between us were better than they had been.
By the time that she had finally rang off I had managed to convince her that I could stay longer to look after Hannah, after all what is the point of Sam paying a sitter when she had someone on hand who could do it for free.
I kept Jacob's visit to myself, mulling over his words as I had bathed and changed Hannah for bed that evening.
Was he right?
Did Sam still love me?
Could there be a chance that we could still be together?
Hannah went down to sleep incredibly easily, which I have to admit was a surprise, perhaps in her own little way she too is warming to the presence of her father.
Having nothing else to do I decided to prepare dinner. Knowing Sam as well as I do I knew that she would have skipped at least one meal, perhaps two while her mind was focused on solving the problem of the malfunctioning Stargate.
I don't kid myself that I am a Cordon Bleu chef, but you don't live as a single guy for as long as I have without learning some basic cooking skills. I managed to prepare a pretty nice Lasagne a la side salad, which I divided into halves so that Sam's could be heated up when she finally got home.
So a couple of hours later, having watched some pretty mediocre television and even managing to finish the book on Mesopotamian architecture that I had been re-reading, it was time that I tackled the remains of my solitary feast.
Picking up the plates, I take them into the kitchen so that I can give them a quick rinse before placing them in the dishwasher. Turning on the faucet, I let the water warm before I begin my task, which turns out to be a boon because the residue comes away easily.
Dishwasher loaded, I grab a towel so that I can dry my hands, not wanting to electrocute myself when I turn the damn thing on.
It is then that I get that strange feeling, you know the one that we humans get when we suddenly become aware that we are being observed.
I pivot around to find an exhausted looking Sam standing in the kitchen doorway.
"You look very domesticated, Daniel."
A soft smile plays across her lips.
"I didn't want you to come home to find a mess, you'd never let me babysit again, but enough about me..." I toss the towel onto the counter top and walk the few short steps that separate us, taking from her hand the laptop bag that she carries, "... you look like you're fit to drop."
I lead her to the kitchen table, pulling out a chair and motion for her to sit down in it, which she does gratefully.
"Have you eaten tonight?"
"Sure I had a bowl of Jello from the commissary."
"The last time I looked that wasn't classified as a basic food requirement."
I give her a long disapproving look and tut noisily.
Sam laughs softly.
"You remind me of Janet, she never fell for that one either."
"Good for Janet."
I take the covered portion of Lasagne from the refrigerator and place it into the microwave to warm up. As it warms I lay the table in front of her with cutlery along with the remainder of the salad that I made and cut a few wedges of bread for good measure.
"You don't have to do this, Daniel."
Sam's voice is laced with tiredness and it looks as though she is having a tough time just remaining upright at the table.
"Yeah, I do because if I don't you'll go to bed hungry and that won't be good for either you or Hannah."
Sam gives me a smile.
"You've been reading those parenting books that I gave you."
"You know me, Sam, I always do my homework." The microwave dings and I cross back over and take out the Lasagne, returning to place it down in front of her. "If you're going to keep your milk production at the right level to sustain Hannah then you have to keep to a normal diet."
Sam picks up the cutlery and begins tucking into the meal, after a few mouthfuls she looks up at me, surprise written on her face.
"Did you make this?"
I nod a little sheepishly.
"Wow, all these years and I never knew you could cook."
"There are a lot of things you don't know about me."
An underlying current of something passed between us and for a long time Sam just stared at me, but then she shook her head and resumed eating. After a couple more mouthfuls of the food she put her fork down again.
"So beside your culinary skills, what other things am I oblivious about?"
Oh Sam, if you only knew.
"I can play the piano."
One of her eyebrows crawled upward in a fair impression of Teal'c's
"But… you've never had a piano in any of your apartments?"
"Just because I don't own one doesn't mean I can't play one." Sam gives me a puzzled look so I decide to tell her the whole story. "When I was eleven I was fostered by a couple in Chicago. I'd been moved around a lot before then, but for once I actually ended up in a place where I felt comfortable. Elaine, my foster mother, was a piano teacher. I used sit in my bedroom and listen to her practicing day after day, hearing the most wonderful music filling the house.
Then one day I came home from school and snuck into the room where she kept the piano. I started hitting keys and I realised that I wasn't exactly musically talented, I was making a God awful racket, which was about the time that Elaine walked into the room and caught me."
"Instead of being cross with me, she sat me down and gave me my first lesson, she was a great teacher and it wasn't long before I picked it up, could even play some of the classics by the time I moved onto my next home."
"If you felt so comfortable, why did you have to move on?"
I picked up the towel that I had been using to carry the plate from the microwave and made a show of cleaning up nonexistent crumbs from the table top.
"She got sick, really sick," I could feel Sam's eyes on me, asking the silent question. "For a while she went into remission, but it uh came back and she… she didn't make it."
"God, I'm sorry, Daniel."
Carefully I put the dishcloth down on the counter, placing my hands down either side of it and looked up at her.
"It was the first place that felt like a home and not like a way station. I actually felt as though I had a chance of putting down some roots, that I might have finally found a place to call my own and a couple that wanted me to be a part of their family, it never felt that way again, at least not until Sha're and that was snatched away from me too."
I felt the warmth of Sam's hand as it covered mine.
"You have a family, Daniel, right here."
"Of course you do."
"I have part of a family, not a whole one. I have Hannah, but I don't have you."
I stared at her for a long time, trying to let her see everything that I held in my heart; wanting her forgiveness for the wrongs that I had done to her and hoping that she might be able to forgive me so that we could move on.
Sam looked away at the same time as I felt her hand pull away from mine.
"Thanks for the meal, Daniel, I appreciate it. I'm gonna hit the shower and then go to bed. Can you see yourself out?"
I couldn't believe that she was dismissing me, but there was nothing I could do, it wasn't as if I could refuse to go. Plus she really did look done in, tired beyond exhaustion and I knew that Hannah would be up early and Sam would need whatever sleep she could get.
"Sure, Sam, I'll see myself out."
She moved away from the table and headed down the hallway toward the bathroom. I grabbed the plate that she had been eating from and disposed of the leftovers in the garbage can, then after placing everything in the dishwasher, I grabbed my jacket and headed for the door.