stringertheory: (Sam B&W)
[personal profile] stringertheory
Title: Thursday's Child
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Characters: Samantha Carter, minor appearances by Jack O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, Vala Mal Doran, Cameron Mitchell, and Teal'c
Word Count: 5680
Categories: AU, drama, romance, character study
Spoilers/Warnings: No spoilers. Set post series. Jack/Sam relationship prerequisite.
Beta: [personal profile] lolmac (Thanks for sticking with it!)
Summary: She never planned to give birth on a spaceship, thousands of light years from Earth. But life has never gone quite the way she planned, and this is no exception.



She isn’t supposed to be here.

She’s supposed to be on Earth, in a hospital, surrounded by doctors and nurses and specialized equipment with blinking lights and massive doses of painkillers. She isn’t supposed to be giving birth to her first child (and only, she decides as another contraction hits) thousands of light years away from home.

But life has never quite gone the way she planned.

Dr. Richards is an excellent physician - his mere presence on the ship is testament to that fact - but he isn’t her doctor, Dr. Ahmad, who coaxed her through the first trimester of morning sickness, who convinced her to return all the parenting books she bought one day in a panic, who shared her joy at the first heartbeat. She is supposed to be on Earth with Dr. Ahmad holding her hand, up to the gills in meds, not in the infirmary aboard the Hammond, with her replacement in command and the ship days off course.

At least Daniel is here. He’s done this before. A few times.

---

“Two days, Daniel. Two whole days.” Sam’s face was stern, but the twinkle in her eye gave her away. “It’s not like you didn’t know we were coming. You had nine days’ notice. You could have wrapped everything up with time to spare, yet here we are.”

They were navigating the hallways of the Hammond, slowly working their way from the Deck 12 ring platform to Daniel’s quarters on Deck 5. Daniel, knapsack slung over one shoulder, was trying, and failing, to look contrite.

“Yes, and then five days ago we found a fourth chamber, and --”

“And I had to pry you away from the planet with a crowbar.”

Daniel gave her a look, a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “You agreed to the extra time, Colonel Carter.”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “So I did.”

“And you could have left me, you know,” Daniel added. “I could have Gated home any time.”

“Except the entire point of this little jaunt was to pick you up,” Sam pointed out.

“I thought it was a dry run for your replacement?”

“The dry run was to get you and return you safely to Earth.”

“Ah,” Daniel said. “So I’m the precious cargo for practice?”

“General O’Neill’s orders,” Sam replied with mock gravitas. She caught Daniel’s eye and they both starting snickering. Still chuckling, she absentmindedly placed a hand on her swollen abdomen, even as the other hand kneaded at a niggling twinge in the small of her back.

Daniel eyed her in concern. “You okay?”

Sam gave him a small smile. “Yeah. I've just been on my feet for a while, that’s all.” She sighed. “I’ll be glad when all this is over with,” she said, gesturing to herself.

“Maybe we should get you somewhere to sit down,” Daniel said, still watching her carefully, one hand hovering between her shoulder blades.

Sam stopped in the middle of the hall and narrowed her eyes at him. “You know, I’m pretty sure Jack sent us all the way out here to get you just so he could have you keep an eye on me during the return trip.” She caught the flicker of guilt that crossed Daniel’s face and nodded. “Thought so.” Her smirk quickly melted into a gentle smile, and she patted Daniel on the arm. "I’m fine. Really. Just a little tired.”

They resumed their trek through the ship.

“Where is your fearless replacement?” Daniel asked.

“I left him to man the bridge after getting us under way.”

Daniel nodded and opened his mouth to ask something else, but at that moment the ship quivered beneath their feet. The lights flickered wildly for a few seconds and the hum of the hyperdrive faded into silence. Then the lights cut off entirely, leaving the ship dark for the split second it took emergency power to kick in. Daniel and Sam looked at one another.

“That’s not good,” Daniel said.

Sam was already heading down the hall as fast as she could waddle, barking for those personnel in her way to make a hole. Daniel hurried along in her wake. A few minutes later, they entered the bridge, which was in a state of semi-contained chaos. Crew members were working frantically at every console, one or two darting back and forth to check data or read-outs with one another before hurrying back to their own workstations. Colonel Velacruz, Sam's replacement, was in deep conversation with Lieutenant Grant, the communications operator, who looked frustrated and baffled by whatever was currently plaguing the ship. Sam headed their way.

“Colonel Velacruz,” she said as she reached them, “what’s going on?”

“Colonel Carter,” Velacruz responded, nodding in greeting to Daniel as well as he did so. “Right before we dropped out of hyperspace, our sensors picked up a magnetic anomaly in the area of space we were traveling through. According to Sergeant Han, that’s the problem.”

Sergeant Han looked up from her console nearby. “It appears that we’re in an electromagnetic field that’s adversely affecting our systems, ma’am. Looks like there was a massive burst from the nearest star.”

“That would be the one for the planet I was on,” Daniel piped up. He turned to Sam, apologetic. “It tends to have more frequent and larger flares than our own Sun and it seems to have entered a period of increased solar activity. I should have warned you.”

“It’s alright,” Sam reassured him. “What systems are affected?” she asked Sergeant Han.

“All of them, ma’am,” Sergeant Han replied. “Comms, navigation - we don’t have any of them.”

“Hyperdrive?”

Han shook her head. “No, ma’am. It’s offline right now until we get main power back up and running, but even then it’ll be useless. We can’t determine where we are, so there’s no way for us to plot a course. The electromagnetic radiation is still affecting us, and will be until we get outside the range of the blast or the radiation dissipates. Sublight’s okay, but we’ll be flying blind.”

“How’s the power situation coming?” Sam asked.

Lieutenant Grant spoke up. “Engineering called in just before you arrived. No severe damage, just a few blown fuses and flipped breakers, and one lightly singed sergeant who was working on an electrical panel at the time of the surge. They’re working on it now and we should have main power back in about twenty minutes.”

Sam sighed and walked to the front window. The stars twinkled innocently in empty space, no sign of whatever was affecting the ship to be seen. From behind her, Daniel gave a snort of laughter. She turned back to face him, her expression questioning.

“What’s so funny?”

“I can’t wait to see the look on Jack’s face when we tell him this was caused by magnets,” Daniel said, grinning widely.

Sam shook her head at him, but she was smiling as she walked over to assist Sergeant Han.

Half an hour later, the main power came back online and they were better able to assess the situation. Despite the fact that they had all systems back up, they were still blind, the ship’s systems going through some sort of magnetic hangover. With the only other option to sit and do nothing, Sam ordered twenty percent thrust of sublight engines. They could at least attempt to make some headway while they waited for the electromagnetic interference to die down so they could re-plot their course.

---

The contractions are still far enough apart that she can almost convince herself this isn’t happening.

When they first start - a sharp but brief stab of pain along her spine, every so often - she chalks it up to overexertion or one of the hundred other surprises her body likes to throw at her recently. She doesn’t have time to consider it to be anything else. The crew seems to be in good spirits, but there are a million and one tiny things that she has to see to, all compounded by the unforeseen complications of their little adventure. She has too much to do to give into her body now.

But when the pain starts lasting longer, the moments of relief coming fewer and farther between, she feels a touch of panic.

Not here. Not now. Not yet.

She ignores the pain, as if that alone would be enough to stop the process in its tracks, as if she were still master of her own body. With determination, she manages to hide it from others until a particularly strong contraction forces her to wince and hiss in pain. Unfortunately, Daniel is with her at the time and is immediately worried. Despite her protests that she is fine, that it’s nothing, he knows better.

Now she’s sat in the infirmary, under monitor and the doctor’s watchful eye, while the replacement she brought out here to train runs her ship.

---

Scurrying crew members snapped to attention against the walls, parting the way as the pair of colonels - their current and future leaders - made their way down the hall. The Grand Tour, as the crew had taken to calling it, was to be their introduction to Colonel Velacruz, and the colonel's introduction to the ship.

“We’re prepping the ship for departure and should be ready in about an hour or so. We aren’t taking a full complement on this trip since it’s really nothing more than a practice run for you.” Sam veered right, leading Velacruz down a short maintenance corridor that opened to a hallway that ran parallel to the one they had left behind. “But you’ll be able to meet most of the crew.”

“I’ve commanded many crews in my time, but never this large.” Velacruz had been on the ship before a number of times, but Sam was pleased to see there was still a flare of excitement and anticipation in his eyes as he peered down corridors and eyed every nook and cranny they passed.

“It isn’t all that different from any other Air Force command,” she said. “But you will have to get used to the lingo.”

“I’ve been practicing,” he told her with faux stoicism before his face melted into an infectious grin.

“Brushing up on your nautical terms?”

“And my peg leg walk,” he added, adopting a stiff-legged gait for a few steps.

Sam snickered. “Very good. All you need is a parrot.”

Velacruz laughed, his grin fading into something softer as he glanced down a corridor they crossed. “Never imagined when you joined the Air Force that you’d be commanding a ship, did you?”

Sam thought he still looked a little surprised by the idea himself. “For a little while,” she admitted.

Velacruz looked around with interest and something a little like approval in his eyes. “NASA?”

Sam nodded. “Until the Challenger, anyway.”

Velacruz nodded in understanding. “To be honest, I was going to enlist in the Navy at the beginning.”

“Really? What changed your mind?”

“I went out on a boat for the first time and got seasick,” he replied, somewhat sheepishly.

Sam laughed. “You won’t have to worry about that much here,” she said.

“Inertial dampeners, yes?”

“Exactly.”

They continued down a few more corridors toward the bridge before Velacruz spoke again, this time with a contemplative air.

“I’ve read up as much as I can on the Hammond’s advancements,” he said. “But I’d love to hear more from someone who had a hand in building the original model.” He gave her a warm smile and Sam couldn’t help but feel pride.

“I’d be happy to answer any questions you have,” she replied.

Velacruz smiled warmly and gestured her ahead of him through a bulkhead. “I’d really like to hear about how we combined Earth and alien technology…”

---

Colonel Velacruz is more than capable - something for which she is eternally grateful - and more than understanding of the situation, having three children of his own.

He sits with her when she is first relegated to the infirmary by Dr. Richards, who showed a firmness of authority she did not expect from him (and that reminded her a bit of Janet). At first the colonel stays to get the last few details he needs to take over command of the ship, but he lingers at her bedside to regale her with tales of his own children, even producing pictures from one of his jacket pockets.

Sam examines the photos with a mixture of admiration and anxiety. The colonel’s three boys favor him greatly, especially the eldest and the youngest. Miguel, twelve, has the same dark, intelligent eyes and Carlos, only six, the same impish grin. The middle child, Javier (“Just turned ten; you should have seen the party!”) also favors him, but there’s something around his eyes, around his mouth that is a bit different. Sam says as much, and the colonel chuckles loudly. That’s thanks to his Lara, he says with a wide grin, love and delight warming his gaze to the point that it’s difficult for Sam - so far away from her own other half - to look at him.

Soon after, duty calls him away and she finds that she misses his presence and the distraction he provided. The infirmary is far too quiet without his booming laugh, his boisterous energy.

She is left alone with her treacherous body and swirling mind.

Before long, her thoughts turn to what the original plan had been, before they wound up in the middle of nowhere, before she wound up alone in the infirmary waiting for her child to make its way into the world. Things were supposed to be very different, she says out loud to the empty room. Jack should be here for starters.

Jack. Oh, god - Jack. He is going to be so angry he missed this, especially since he hadn’t wanted her to go on the trip in the first place.

---

“No. Absolutely not. No.”

“I have to train my replacement, sir.”

“And you will, Colonel. With a nice, safe, short trip to the edge of the solar system and back.”

“The edge of the solar system?” Sam cocked an eyebrow and folded her arms across her chest. “A two day training trip on a vessel meant for long-distance space voyages? Come on, sir. You know that won’t cut it.”

“That’s what you’re getting, Colonel.” Jack stared her down with his best command glare, but the concern that laced his expression weakened its effect.

“Jack... ” Sam stopped herself and walked over to shut the office door before returning to stand in front of the desk. “I’m actually giving in if you think about it.”

Jack looked up at her in confusion. “Come again?”

With a sigh, Sam sank into the nearest armchair. “You wanted me to go on leave next week, right?”

“And you will?" Jack asked hopefully.

“I wanted to wait until a week before the due date.”

“Which is patently ridiculous, by the way."

Sam ignored him. “That plan would have had me making your proposed training flight a week before that, and spending the last five or so days of my time on duty grounded. The plan I’m proposing would allow me to properly train Colonel Velacruz and would get me off duty earlier.”

Jack leaned back in his chair. “I’m listening.”

“I take the Hammond on a routine flight - no battles or recon or anything dangerous, just a basic taxi-service mission - to somewhere far enough away that the colonel gets a feel for distance travel, but close enough to get us back, say, two weeks or so before my due date. We can pick a route that follows a line of planets with Stargates, so that if anything happens - not that it will - I can Gate home within minutes.”

Jack didn’t look entirely convinced. “I don’t --”

“And when we get back, I’ll immediately go on leave.”

Sam knew she had him. He was looking at her suspiciously, clearly not willing to believe she would give in so easily on a fight they had been having - and that she had been winning - since the day she found out she was pregnant. From day one, she had balked at the idea of early leave, determined that she would stay active for as long as she could. Now she was using leave as a bargaining chip to get what she wanted: one last trip.

“So let me get this straight,” he said, sitting up in his chair and leaning forward. “You’ll go on leave a week earlier if I let you take a longer jaunt out into the great dark unknown?”

“Yes.”

“Done.”

Sam blinked at him. “Just like that?”

“Yep. I even know where you can go.” He was up and heading toward the office door even as he spoke.

“You do?"

“Oh, yes,” he replied with a grin. Pulling open the door, he stuck his head out and called for his assistant. “Johnson! Get on the horn. The Hammond needs to begin preparation for a flight to P3R-929. Oh, and call Colonel Velacruz. Tell him to pack a bag; he’s going on a little trip.” He ducked back into the office and plopped back down at his desk, smiling across it at a flabbergasted Sam.

“P3R-929?” she asked.

“You’re going to pick up Daniel.”

“Ah.”

“This will actually mean an extended stay for him on 929. He was supposed to Gate back next week for the summit.”

Sam looked at him in surprise. “But the summit’s still at least another three weeks away.”

“Exactly. Knowing Daniel, he’d get wrapped up in something, forget about his deadline, and show up a week after the summit’s over. This way he gets a few extra days on the planet and I don’t have to worry about him being late.”

“Clever.”

“I know," he said with a sigh. “A nice little pleasure cruise past a line of Gated planets, a quick rendezvous to grab our wayward archaeologist, and then straight as an arrow - wham! - right back here. Total round trip? Eighteen days, give or take a day - which will be the most give you get,” he said, suddenly stern. “I expect you back here within eighteen days of the time you leave, understood? No dilly-dallying.”

“What about Daniel?” Sam asked with a smile.

“You can drug him, hog tie him, trick him for all I care, but you get him on that ship and get both of you back here.”

“Yes, sir.”

Johnson stuck his head in the door. “Sir? The Hammond has begun preparations, but they’re waiting on Colonel Carter to get there for the checks. Colonel Velacruz is on his way and should be there within the hour. Also, your one o’clock has been moved to two, your three o’clock has been moved to Friday, and your lunch meeting is cancelled. Oh, and the President is on line two.”

“Thank you, Johnson.”

Sam hauled herself to her feet as Johnson left. “Well, I suppose I should go prep my ship.”

“I suppose you should.”

“Will you be staying here while I’m gone?”

“Actually, I have to be back in Washington on Monday and since you’ll be outside of the solar system for a while, I’ll probably stay there until you get back here.”

“Fair enough.” She leaned over the desk for a quick kiss. “See you when I get back?”

“Definitely,” he replied as she headed for the door. “Sam?”

She turned back to him. “Hmm?"

“Be careful.”

“I will be.” She opened the door and stepped outside.

“Because if anything happens, I’ll demote you!” Jack called after her.

She smiled cheekily, waved, and was gone.

---

It is too late for her to Gate back.

Going through the Gate had been a possibility, but a dangerous and untested one. They could have sent her through, but no one knows what Gate travel might do to her at this point in the process and she, for one, wasn’t willing to risk it, even if Dr. Richards had acquiesced. At any rate, she hadn’t been symptomatic (or at least had been ignoring her symptoms) when they last made contact to report on their situation. The last thing anyone at Stargate Command heard, she was still running the ship, they were expecting to arrive in nine days, and everything was fine.

With the last Gate a few days behind them and Earth still a few days ahead, the only thing to do is keep going. She is on the ship for the long haul. A sub-space transmission is prepared to give Earth a final update. They need to report on their progress, as well as the change in command.

And someone has to tell Jack.

They use the communications system in the infirmary so she can be part of the conversation. Sam sits quietly as Colonel Velacruz relates the events of the past few days, giving specific updates on their location, speed, and estimated time of arrival.

The good news is that they should arrive on time with the adjusted schedule, barring any further complications, he says.

Then the room goes quiet for a moment as everyone looks to Sam. She starts to speak, but Daniel does it for her.

Jack, Sam’s labor has started, he says. She isn’t there yet, and we’re on our way.

It’s just a few sentences at the end of the transmission, but she’s grateful that she doesn’t have to be the one to say it. She gives Daniel’s hand a squeeze. Shortly thereafter, the transmission is sent, and they fall to waiting for the response.

When it comes, it’s short. Jack’s voice at the other end of a couple hundred thousand light years is tense and worried and just a little bit angry. He takes care of the confirmation of plans and acknowledgment of change in command in a quick and perfunctory way. Then he pauses and the transmission goes so completely silent for a moment that they think it has ended. Then his voice comes through again, clear and curt: Bring them home. Hurry.

Sam closes her eyes for a second after the message ends. At this rate, she’ll have to take an extra month of maternity leave to make up for these botched plans, even if there is nothing she could have done to have prevented it. She sighs at the prospect.

Jack had been stunned when she had first told him the news. They hadn’t planned for a baby, not even in general terms, and the idea of parenthood wasn’t something that had crossed their minds. His immediate response to the pregnancy had been to become increasingly protective of her. She’d had to fight him every step of the way, and not just him. The boys - her boys, she thinks - had taken his side, to varying degrees. Cam was the worst, coddling her and worrying far too much, just like another Jack. Teal’c had been the most lenient, but also the only one it had been impossible to disobey. For all the allowances he gave her, once he made up his mind that she shouldn’t do something or had had enough of something, that was it, and no amount of arguing she had put up would change things. Daniel - who is even now at her bedside, asking if she needs anything and watching her closely - had fallen somewhere in between. Grateful as she is for his company and care, Sam wishes Vala were here.

It had been Vala, of all people, who had been her savior, who had backed her up and been her confidante. She had run right over Jack’s protests (to his eternal frustration) and, having been through the trials of pregnancy herself, had known exactly how much Sam could do and how to stop her without Sam realizing that’s what she was doing. Vala had taken care of her and kept her sane and had been determined to give her all the trappings that came along with a baby.

---

“Has everyone had cake? Anyone want another slice?”

Vala, wielding a serving knife like a weapon, glanced around at everyone with a determined glint in her eye. The surprise baby shower had already been in full swing long enough to see Jack come and go, an entire buffet line of finger foods be demolished, and three attempts to start up a game of pin the tail on the donkey fizzle out. Vala had been serving cake with wild abandon, and everyone quickly passed on the offer.

“Nah, I’m good,” Cam said, patting his stomach.

Sam and Teal’c waved her off, Teal’c rising to take his and Sam’s plates over to the trashcan. Daniel, who was staring in dismay at the large slab Vala had unceremoniously plopped on his plate mere minutes earlier, murmured a negative response. Vala’s enthusiasm wasn’t the slightest bit dampened by their refusal.

“Great!” she said. Placing the knife back on the cake platter, she hurried over to the small table that was covered with Sam’s gifts and picked up one of the boxes. “That means we can open presents now.”

“I ask that my gifts be opened first," said Teal’c.

“Got to get back?” Daniel asked.

Teal’c nodded. “The council graciously postponed one of our meetings so that I could attend today, but I do not wish to delay them any longer.” He turned to Sam. “I am sorry to leave so soon.”

Sam patted his arm and gave him a smile. “It’s okay; I understand. Vala?"

“Right. Muscles first.” She held up a small bag. “This one?”

Teal’c nodded, and Vala brought the bag over to Sam, who dug through the tissue paper to unearth a wooden ring the size of a small dinner plate. A symbol had been created in the center of the ring by the interweaving of many different colored strings. She recognized it immediately as of the same design as those she had seen among the Hak’tyl. Running her fingers across the pattern, she looked to Teal’c questioningly.

“It means ‘strength,'” he explained.

Sam smiled warmly, somewhat embarrassed to feel tears welling in her eyes. She cursed her hormones and murmured a thanks.

“This large box also has your name on it,” Vala called, huffing as she pulled the gift out from under the table.

“Indeed,” Teal’c replied. “But it does not need to be opened. It is merely a large quantity of diapers.”

“Sentimental and practical,” Cam said with a smile.

“That’s our Teal’c,” Daniel chimed in.

Teal’c rose, and the others followed suit. “I must take my leave,” he said, turning to Sam.

She stepped forward to meet him, a smile on her lips. He took her face in his hands and stared deeply into her eyes for a second, and something inside her shifted, like a memory half-forgotten. Then it was gone and he smiled warmly at her and kissed her forehead. She embraced him tightly.

“You will make a very good mother,” he rumbled into her hair.

He had barely made it through the door before Vala was pressing them all to sit back down, Cam’s gift in her hands. She passed it to Sam.

“That's technically from my mom,” Cam said as Sam opened it. “When I told her about the baby, she was determined to make something for you. I have one like it from when I was born.”

With a raised eyebrow, Sam pulled off the lid off the box. Inside was a plush quilt, a pale green and yellow patchwork of squares covered with tiny airplanes. She admired it, tracing the shape of the planes, as Cam explained that his mother had chosen that particular pattern when she heard that both parents were in the Air Force.

“She thought it fitting for a military baby,” he said.

When Sam asked him what they would do if the baby was a girl, he gave her a knowing look and a crooked grin.

“Didn’t stop you,” he said.

“Me next!” Vala exclaimed, bringing over a medium sized box that was dwarfed by the bow she had plastered on top. She proffered it to Sam with a flourish. “I attempted to knit you something called ‘booties’, which were mentioned in just about every baby book I read, but I’m a bit rusty on my handcrafts.”

“Never knitted before?” Daniel asked.

“Not a stitch,” Vala replied.

“Hence the rustiness,” said Cam.

“So I bought you this instead,” Vala continued, pointing to the object Sam had finished unwrapping. “It’s a mobile that projects constellations and planets and random stars on the ceiling of the baby’s room.” She picked up the box Sam had set aside. “According to the manufacturer, it is supposed to be an accurate representation of the sky as it appears over whatever area of the planet that you set it to.” She indicated the controls on the back of the mobile. “See, here? You simply calculate it for your latitude and longitude and it casts the proper night sky onto your baby’s ceiling. It even adjusts with the seasons.”

“It’s wonderful, Vala,” Sam said sincerely. “Thank you.”

Vala half-shrugged, though she looked pleased. “Oh, it’s nothing. I thought it might be good for the baby to get a head start on learning the stars, what with both you and the general traveling through space all the time.”

“Keeping up with mom?” Daniel asked.

Vala nodded and grinned. “Exactly.”

---

The memory causes her to smile, the thread of irony running through her life showing itself once again.

Can they pinpoint the exact place of the birth, she wonders. She asks for the navigation team to try. She wants to be able to tell Vala, to be able to put that point in the nursery sky. She wants there to be a specific place to remember, not just the impersonal vastness of space.

It will be soon. The time is drawing nearer; she can tell.

The infirmary has been cleared for the event. Only the nurse, the good doctor, Daniel, and herself remain. There was only one other patient to begin with, but he volunteered to leave, wanting to give his former commanding officer as much privacy as possible. Dawson, she thinks it was. She makes a mental note to thank him later for his discretion.

Panic starts to rise in her again as the preparations intensify. She catches Dr. Richards by the elbow when he stops by her bed for a quick check-up. She’s certain that something is wrong now that she has done the math. It’s too early, she tells him. She isn’t due for over a week. This shouldn’t be happening yet. The doctor smiles down at her and gently reminds her that babies tend to come when they will, due dates or not, and the estimated date of arrival can be off by a week or so. It’s nothing to be worried about. No doubt the stress of the trip’s complications helped move things along a bit more quickly, too.

She looks up at him in concern. Don’t tell the general that, she pleads.

He chuckles and pats her hand.

---

“Say something.”

Jack had been staring at her in silence for at least a minute, and Sam was beginning to get nervous. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, clasping and unclasping her hands anxiously. Jack licked his lips and shoved his hands in his pockets.

“When?” he asked.

“When what?”

“When are... ?” He trailed off as if unable to voice the words.

“When are we having a baby?” Sam posited quietly.

He nodded once.

“In about seven and a half months.”

He was still staring at her, his face slightly pale and his eyes very dark. She folded her arms over her chest and stared back. She was damned if she was going to be the one to make the first move this time. After another long minute, he closed the distance between them.

“How long have you known?”

“For certain? Only since this morning when the doctor told me. I’d suspected it for about a month, though.” She searched his face, trying to determine what he was thinking. "I didn’t want to say anything until I was sure.”

He closed his eyes and lowered his head, and for a moment she was worried. Then he rubbed a hand over his face and, taking her gently by the upper arms, met her gaze.

“We’re having a baby,” he said.

She nodded. “We’re having a baby.”

A slow smile spread across his face, and she felt herself responding in kind. He kissed her softly.

“What now?”

Sam sighed. “Now we have a lot of planning to do.”

---

She can’t help but laugh, even if it is through clenched teeth as an endless contraction rolls its way through her body.

All their careful planning and here she is giving birth among the stars. The first breath their child will take will be of recycled air, the first nursery it will know the infirmary of an intergalactic battleship. She can’t help but feel it fitting. With parents like her and Jack, what else could be expected? A simple birth in a bright, cheery hospital room on Earth? Far too cliche, far too normal.

Their child will have stories to tell - to anyone with the right security clearance.

She isn’t supposed to be here, but now is the time and here is the place and this will be another story to tell.

And Daniel is squeezing her hand (or is she squeezing his?) and the baby (her baby) is coming and she knows that Dr. Richards and Daniel are coaxing and coaching her but she can’t hear them over the sound of her own breathing, her heartbeat pulsing in her ears. She takes a deep breath, and for a moment time seems to stand still.

Then a baby cries.



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