"Where is she?" Daniel asked, not really needing an answer, as he moved through the O'Neill house, Jack pointed to the bedroom, not speaking. He had called, although Daniel knew, he just felt it, felt that something wasn't right. He had checked on Vala, who assured him she was fine, checked on Teal'c, and Cameron, even Penny. He pulled Vala out of her nap, and drove at top speeds to the O'Neill home. He just knew, knew something was different, something had changed. Not bothering to knock, Daniel walked in, and looked around. The house was its usual quiet self, but he saw Jack, and just knew.
Vala moved to sit on the couch in the livingroom, and he moved down the hall. Her hands clasped around her pregnant belly, she looked at Jack, who smiled softly, in reassurance.
Sam was sitting on the floor, at the end of the bed, holding her knees to her chest.
"Sam," he said softly, as she looked up, her eyes red, and puffy from the tears. They were still silently flowing. Not saying anything, he moved to sit down next to her, and pulled her to his side. "I'm here now." She said nothing but turning into his embrace, and letting the tears run freely.
"The baby is gone…"
"I know." He held Sam for hours, letting her cry into his body, not letting her escape, even with each plea of 'let me go'.
"She lost the baby didn't she?" Vala asked softly, looking at Jack, as he nursed the one beer he opened when they arrived.
"Yup," Jack said, not letting emotion plague his voice. "How are you feeling?"
"Okay," Vala mumbled rubbing her stomach. In honesty, she was incredibly uncomfortable, the baby was kicking her ribs, and she was not going to say anything about the baby, to the man who just lost his.
"Baby kicking your ribs?" Vala looked at him, nodding her head she rubbed her stomach. "Good sign, means the baby is getting ready to drop. Which really means, you'll be giving birth in a few weeks."
"Yes," Vala agreed, as the front door opened, and shut. Not needing to look up, or even great the guest, Jack remained seated,
"Bedroom," Jack called, as Teal'c moved rapidly down the hall. His foot steps slowed as he reached the back of the house, and the sound of the door shutting caused Jack to look at Vala.
"In his timeline," Vala started, "I lost this baby. He was telling Sam, a few weeks ago, he didn't think I was listening, but I was. I heard, that, I lost the baby. I know in this timeline, I didn't, and I know that at eight months, this baby is kicking up a storm, and it means that he's alive, and I know that's all that matters. I know how it feels to lose a baby, I lost Adria the moment I knew I was pregnant. I knew she'd never be mine, and it's like loosing a child, it is loosing a child. I came to terms with that the baby was gone, and its hard, but you get past it. You'll never be the same, you'll be better." Jack looked at Vala and nodded his head.
"I was always afraid, I'm still afraid, that I'm going to be a horrible mother, but loosing Adria made me stronger, made me realise that I can do it. It gets better."
"My first son killed himself, with my gun, while me and my wife were outside," Jack said pointing to the picture of Charlie sitting on the mantel. "I know how it feels to loose a child."
"This is different, isn't it?"
"Yup," Jack said lifting the beer bottle to his lips.
Christmas was upon them, and although the reality of Sam's miscarriage was still plaguing them, they took to making sure Christmas was for family, and not sadness. Sam, at first, couldn't look at Vala, to much pain at seeing the pregnant woman, compared to her flat stomach, that once housed her child, now empty. Usually, no one made it home on Christmas, it wasn't a big event in their lives as it was in others, but this year, with Cassie saying she was coming home, they made it work, and for the first time in ten years, they were home.
Daniel waited patiently in the airport, awaiting Cassie's return to Colorado Springs. He wasn't sure why she requested he pick her up, usually Sam or Jack would be the one that would collect her.
"Daniel?" a voice said, as Daniel turned around, and smiled brightly. The young woman, dressed in a pant suit and heals, looking tired, smiled at him.
"Hey," Daniel smiled reaching over and hugging the woman, kissing her cheek. "I miss you kiddo."
"You too," Cassie smiled. "Oh, I want you to meet someone," she said as she let go of Daniel, and pulling a young man by the hand to the two. "Daniel, this is John, my boyfriend."
"Oh, nice to meet you," Daniel said a little shocked. "Daniel Jackson."
"I've heard a lot about you. Cassandra doesn't stop talking about her family," John smiled shaking Daniel's hand.
"Funny, she hasn't mentioned you before," Daniel said looking at Cassie who just shrugged.
"Later, I wanted you to pick me up, because I want to know about this woman, and you've knocked her up!"
"Vala, and I didn't 'knock her up', we are having a baby," Daniel said shaking his head. "Come on kiddo, Sam can't wait to see you. Jack is sure you've abandoned him, and Vala can't wait to meet you."
"Murray in Toronto?" she asked raising a brow, as Daniel nodded.
"Yup. He uh, comes in tomorrow," Daniel continued.
Holding up two fingers, she looked at John. "Can you get the bags?"
"Sure," John replied, and moving towards the baggage claim.
"Do you love her, more than you loved mom?" she asked as Daniel looked at her.
"Daniel, when I was little, I always thought you and Mom were going to get married, and I'd get a baby brother or sister, but you screwed up and ascended, and then Mom died, and I lost that…and now I just need to know, do you love her more than you love my mom?"
"I will always love your mother, I will always love Sha're, but I don't love someone more than I love the other. I love Vala differently that I did your mother. Cassandra," his arm went around her shoulder. "I love Vala, and I love my child, very much. I wasn't supposed to spend my life with Sha're or Janet, I think that, it was Vala."
"Does she love you?"
"Very much so," he explained. "Listen, I know it's hard for you, and I know that you needed structure, but listen to me Cass, there is a woman at home, that is going to birth my child, and she is doing it willingly. I want you to remember that this: you are my family, and I love you, and you'll always come first."
"When is my nephew due?" she asked as John joined them.
"End of January, but don't mention anything about looking ready to pop, Vala feels fat enough all ready. And the mood she had yesterday, she would have given herself her own C-Section," Daniel said seriously.
Cassies smiled. "I love you."
"Me too kiddo."
"John seems nice," Sam smiled looking at Cassie, as the four women-Sam, Vala, Penny and Cassie- stood in the kitchen, preparing dinner, as the men, were no doubly, interrogating the young man.
"He is," Cassie replied happily. "He makes me happy."
"I can tell," Sam grinned ruffling Cassie's hair.
"So Penny, right?" Cassie asked turning to look at the auburn, who was sitting and cutting up vegetables. Penny nodded with a smile, she was slowly getting used to the close-knit relationship with this group of people, who seemed to teach each other as extensions of their own person. "How did you and Colonel Mitchell meet?"
"We were neighbors, I used to watch his plants all the time, when he went off on work," Penny said, not really knowing where he went, just that he left a lot. Sam was pretty sure that she'd be getting a request for clearance soon.
"Oh," Cassie smiled. "Well, welcome to our screwed up little family."
"Thanks," Penny laughed before noticing the look on Vala's face. "Are you okay?"
"Just, a cramp, I think," Vala replied holding her side. "This little man does not like to be kept still."
It had been three weeks since Sam lost the baby, and she was finally okay with talking about the baby that was due in a month.
"You sure you're okay?" Sam asked looking at her friend, who was holding her stomach.
"I'm fine, they'll go away," she said switching to a large smile. "Now Cassandra, tell us more about John."
Cassie laughed and continued to talk, as Sam watched her friend, how her hand went to her stomach, and knuckles went white, as she listened to the young woman tell stories of college, and her blooming relationship with John Wildman. Vala's face would change soften from a large smile, to that of pain, and it wasn't long before she gasped.
"Vala?" Sam asked, rather loudly as the woman gripped the counter and her knees went weak. "Daniel! Jack!" Sam yelled.
"Now, I'm not fine," she confessed closing her eyes in pain.
"What's going on?" Daniel asked appearing at the doorway, before noticing Vala. "Vala, are you okay?"
"No Daniel," she snapped back, her glare worth a thousand bullets. "I'm not."
"How far along are you?" John asked, looking at the woman.
"Umm, 8 months," she replied taking a breath. "Why?"
"I'm doing my fellowship in obstetrics," John replied touching her stomach. It was hard, just as he expected and looked at her. "Let's get you to the hospital, stop the contractions. Cassandra, which is closer?"
"Memorial, I'll call, get you privileges" she said digging in her pocket pulling out her iPhone.
"Okay, Dr. Jackson, if you and General O'Neill would please get her into the backseat of the biggest vehicle? Colonel Carter, and Miss Dean, can you find me a first aid kit, and get blankets please. I want to be prepared. Okay let's get going."
"It'll be okay Vala," Daniel said soothingly as his arm snaked around her waist. Two days before Christmas, and he was taking his girlfriend to the hospital.
Vala looked at Daniel and stared, her eyes screaming in fear. "It's too soon."
He wasn't going to lie, he was scared the moment that Sam shouted his name. It was three hours ago, and Vala was asleep in the hospital bed, wrapped around his body, the best she could. They had stopped the labour, for now, and she was ordered to say overnight, to monitor.
"How she doing?" John asked as he picked up the chart on the end of her bed. Flipping it open, he read, and cranked his neck to the side. "She's looking good, her doctor was a bit worried however, she's had a child before?"
"Sort of," Daniel said looking at the young man, he was a bit old for Cassandra for his liking, but she seemed to really care about him, and what he could tell, he really cared for Cassandra.
"Still born," he lied.
"Well, this baby seems to want to come out, a bit early for my liking, especially since she delivered a still born. I want to keep him in there as long as possible," John explained.
"Just how many babies have you delivered?" Daniel asked, squinting his eyes at the young doctor.
"Six-hundred and thirty two," John replied, "two years of residency, I spent a lot of time with the OB/GYN on staff, delivered a new baby everyday it seemed. I'm going to have the nurse keep an eye on her overnight, and I'll come back in the morning."
"You don't have to, enjoy your vacation," Daniel attempted to say as John laughed slightly.
"I'm a doctor, I don't have vacations. I'll have them bring in another bed for you, if you'd like," John said sliding the chart back on the bed.
"No, we'll be fine. Thank you."
"Don't think anything of it," John said before leaving the room and Daniel pulled Vala closer to him.
She stirred slightly, moaning into his chest, before attempting to roll onto her back. He watched as her eyes flickered open and she turned her head to look at him. "Daniel?"
"Hey," Daniel whispered, a smile on his face, as he rubbed circles on her arm. "Baby is okay, just wanted to come a bit early. They said no to that," he explained, at the worry that was written on her face.
"I'm sorry," she whispered.
"Hey, hey," Daniel started. "Its not your fault, the baby, he's just egger to get here."
Christmas morning was not like they had expected, it was the plan to have Christmas at the O'Neill's, but with Vala on temporary bedrest, everything was moved to the Jackson home. Which meant very quick decorating and a small tree, which the presents overwhelmed.
The morning of Christmas day, Vala awoke and groaned, finally sleeping properly in her own bed. Her hands went to her stomach, as they did almost too frequently lately. Feeling the child move within, she smiled and gave her stomach a good pat.
She laid there, half sitting, and rubbed her stomach, feeling the child's every kick, and every movement.
She was in awe at the child, and how active he was, much more than Adria was. Adria was not active, and she assumed that now, it was because she was never truly pregnant, but an incubator. This baby never stopped moving, he was constantly trying to find a comfortable position, which meant feet in her ribs, feet on her bladder, constant kicking and punching of her stomach.
She was imaging what the baby would look like, Daniel, he would look like Daniel, same messy hair, blue eyes, but her smile.
"Hmm?" Daniel groaned as he rolled onto his stomach and buried his head into the pillow again.
"Time to get up darling, it's Christmas!" she said hitting his shoulder, as Daniel rolled his head over and faced her, his face marked with a pattern of his pillow.
"What time is it?" he asked groggily moving and laying on her chest to see the alarm clock. It read 7am. Settling his head between her breasts he rubbed her stomach. "How's he doing?"
"Settling down," Vala smiled, her hand covering his hand with her own. "Did he keep you up all night?"
"No, just woke up himself," Vala smiled as her other hand moved through Daniel's hair. "Daniel?"
"Always," Daniel smiled kissing her stomach, before moving to place a kiss on her lips. "Okay, time to get up," he said as the doorbell rang, and they heard boots come clambering into their house.
"Help me," she said as Daniel wrapped his arm around her side and helped her legs swing over the edge of the bed. "Pee, then downstairs?"
"That's all the walking you're going to be doing," with the look Vala gave him he stared at her. "I'm serious Vala, six weeks until this baby is due, and you're not going to be standing more than 10 minutes a day."
Groaning she nodded and was pulled into a standing position, as their bedroom door opened to Teal'c.
"I was instructed to collect you," he explained. "ColonelMitchell is preparing breakfast," he continued as a dog's barking rang through their ears.
"What was that?"
"GeneralO'Neill gifted ColonelCarter with a puppy," Teal'c explained as Vala laughed and Daniel shook his head. "Would you like help downstairs ValaMalDoran?"
"We're peeing first, and then heading down, thank you though," Vala smiled as she urged Daniel to move towards the ensuit. "We'll be down in a few minutes."
"Very well, I shall help Cassandra count presents from Santa Clause," Teal'c said bowing his head and moving down the stairs, as Daniel let go of Vala.
"Someone should tell him Santa doesn't exist," Daniel said leaning against the shower. Closing his eyes, he ran his hand over his face, before grabbing a hold of Vala's robe, placing it on the counter.
Since Cassandra was little, Christmas was an all pajama event, started by Janet, and Jack. No matter whose house they were at, you had to show up for breakfast and presents in your pajamas, no exceptions.
By the time they arrived downstairs, the house was smelling of pancakes, where Jack and Cameron were arguing over how to properly make a flatjack. Daniel settled Vala on the recliner, and looked at Sam who was currently rolling a ball around for a puppy.
"His name is Dash," Sam smiled picking up the boy. "He's a Labrador Golden Retriever mix."
Daniel shook his head and walked to the kitchen, staring at Jack. "A puppy?"
"Gives her comfort," Jack said with a shrug. "Name was her choice."
"How's breakfast coming?" Cassie asked bouncing into the kitchen, holding out her coffee mug to Daniel. "More please."
"When did you start drinking coffee?" Daniel asked, giving her a speculating glare.
"The moment I started all nighters," she said. "Sam got a puppy for Christmas."
"I saw," Daniel smirked. "Who has Captain?" he asked, referring to Cassie's dog that Jack had given her when Janet adopted her.
"Oh, he's staying without our roommate, she wasn't going home for Christmas, as her parents are in Africa on this Doctors Without Boarders thing, so she offered to watch Captain. He's old now, even if I wanted to bring him, he would have been all whiney about it, and just slept anyway."
"Breakfast is up!" Cameron called as he put the finishing touches on the plates. "Yo Princess, want jam or syrup."
"Syrup, there will be no jam eaten with pancakes," Jack supplied. "You have a lot to learn Mitchell."
"Sorry Sir, first Christmas with the team," he said as they carried the plates into the livingroom.
Cassie smiled, it had been years since the entire family had been together, really together for Christmas. The family was getting bigger, and she assumed it was going to get even bigger as the years progressed.
Daniel smiled brightly and kissed the top of Cassie's head before winking at Sam, and sitting on the arm to Vala's chair. Sam had pulled her new puppy into her lap, and was eating pancakes off of Jack's plate; Teal'c was sitting on the floor, by the Christmas tree; Cameron and Penny were sitting on the couch, smiling and listening to conversations around them.
Next year, it was going to be different, there would be a one year old involved, and that was just the start of the family that was growing.