Chapter Nine Summary: With the tension lessened, Martouf and Lantash become aware of how well the Tok'Ra and the Tau'ri are getting along. Daniel seems preoccupied and somewhat worried. The gate should be working soon, but would it be soon enough?
"Italics" - Symbiote-Host communications
Martouf looked around the cafeteria the next morning at breakfast and it struck him how much the atmosphere had changed overnight. Where there had been an indefinable tension the day before, there was now a relaxed and easy feeling. There was more laughter and smiles. Not that laughter and smiles had been completely missing before, for they had not been. However, today, the laughter was deeper and the smiles brighter. This morning the mood was more comfortable, and less restrained, as if something almost imperceptible was released from some dark place, and let out into the sunlight, where it simply dissipated into nothingness.
Jacob and Janet Fraiser were having breakfast with the General and Resenna. Martouf blinked. He had not realized that anything had developed between the General and her, however, there was no doubt that something was growing between them. Giving it some thought, he realized that it probably should not surprise him. She was older, a calm and sensible woman, but still very attractive. Her symbiote, Arisana, was quiet, tranquil, had a great deal of common sense, and was disposed to neither outbursts nor snap decisions. She and the General appeared to be on very good terms, and he wondered why he and Lantash had not noticed this development before now. Lantash answered his thought, saying, “Perhaps because we were rarely on base, and barely here for more than a day or two, before we left for our next mission. That would be the logical assumption. It is difficult to realize something like that, when you are not around to see it taking place. Moreover, while it might have been interesting to watch it pass from friendship to more, I am still grateful that we were kept unusually busy.”
“You are probably correct, Lantash,” Martouf murmured absentmindedly. Still looking around the cafeteria, he was very close to feeling amazed by what he perceived. At many of the tables, there were Tau’ri and Tok’Ra, sitting together talking, laughing, and sharing their meal. Furthermore, it was not only hosts that were in the forefront. Many of the symbiotes were the ones who were in the conversations.
“This is exactly what the General was hoping to accomplish with his exchange program. I would venture to guess that there are several Tok’Ra who will be staying on at the SGC when the time comes to return to the Tunnels, Martouf,” Lantash stated with obvious satisfaction.
“Yes, and from what I am seeing today, I would suggest that not only were we off world a great deal, but when we were on base, we were simply so caught up in our own world that we have not noticed these things developing. I would guess that several SGC personnel may be going to the Tunnels, as well,” Martouf answered.
“I agree. I think it is exactly what we needed, so even though the situation was deeply distressing for many of us, some very good things seem to have come out of it,” Lantash pointed out the good rather dwelling on the bad. He paused and then spoke very softly, adding, “However, I do sincerely hope that the next time we need to be brought to our senses and realize something, that it will be presented and taught to us in a less emotionally devastating way.”
He continued his thoughts, saying, “Although, in all truth, I am very pleased that we managed to overcome our fears and stop smothering our Samantha. It has also given us a peace, a joy, both within us and within our relationship with Samantha, which was not there before. I am very grateful for that. I did not realize how very full of fear, anxiety, and tension we were.”
Martouf sent him a smile and a hug before commenting, "It is a very good feeling this quiet happiness. While we are anxious for our Samantha’s return, it is a normal feeling of missing her, not the panic we would have felt before.”
“No, it is not,” Lantash answered him and then paused, obviously considering something. He spoke slowly as if considering each word before saying it, “This is how it should have been all along. Yes, we miss her, and we wish she was with us, but the overwhelming fear, dread, and panic are gone. Yes, something could still happen to her, but something could happen to her with us in the same room as well. We cannot help but worry, but we now know that we cannot keep her safe. More importantly, we now know that we can live with that fact.”
Martouf agreed with him and his comments, and then said, “It is a great relief, Lantash, as if a burden has been lifted from us. We survived not knowing and came out stronger for it. She did not intend this, but since it happened, I can see that it has forced us to come to accept the truth of what she was saying.”
“Yes, dear one, it did. Now, all we must worry about is whether she will be home for the birth of our child. It very well could be that she will not be here, Martouf. We must accept that as a possibility. She is due anytime now; we are both aware of that fact, and as she said, the child shall choose its own time to arrive. She has no control over that. Perhaps it would be just as well if it did happen before she arrived back,” Lantash replied.
“Why, Lantash? Why would you not wish to be with Samantha?” Martouf asked, incredulous at this statement.
“I do wish to be with her, Martouf, but childbirth is not an easy process. And,” Lantash stopped, wondering if he should remind Martouf of the childbirth classes they had attended. It seemed like a very long time ago now. The movie Janet Fraiser had played for them had been graphic, and while they were both aware of the process neither of them had actually seen a birth. Well, not for many centuries, anyway. Lantash seemed to remember helping at a birthing a very long time ago, but the woman had been a mother several times over and the process now seemed surprisingly easy when compared to what they had viewed in the film.
“And what?” Martouf prodded him.
“And it is, well, it will be extremely painful for Samantha, and we will be able to do nothing for her, Martouf. Nothing. The most we will be able to do is hold her hand and help her to breathe in the manner in which Janet taught us. Samantha will do all of the considerable work involved, and all of the pain will be borne by her, as we stand helplessly by and watch. Perhaps we should ask Janet to go over everything again, in case she does get back in time to have our child here,” Lantash fretted, as the thoughts chased themselves through and around his mind.
“Lantash, dear one, you are simply replacing one worry with another one. We went through several classes with her and Janet. We will be fine. Stop worrying.” For once, Martouf was the one advising and soothing. Hoping to distract his friend, he said, “There is Daniel, and he does not look very happy. I wonder what is the matter?”
Watching him as he approached the area in which they sat, Lantash studied his face. Martouf was correct. Not only did Daniel not appear to be happy, he seemed to be worried about something. He prompted, Martouf, urging him to action, “See if he will join us, Martouf. We will see if we cannot discover what is troubling him so much. He could simply be lost in thought about some ruin or artifact he is studying, I suppose, but he does not look quite as distracted as he does when that is the case. He looks…concerned and, perhaps, worried about something. I wonder what has happened?”
“There is definitely something preying on his mind,” Martouf said, as he motioned to Daniel to come over and join them.
He nodded in return and proceeded to choose his breakfast and, of course, garner a rather large mug of coffee. Once he had that, he headed over to them.
“Good morning, Daniel, how are you today?” Martouf greeted him, as soon as he arrived at their table and started unloading his tray.
“I am doing fine. I slept a little better last night; I have to admit. I did not realize just how tense I was over not knowing what was happening. I thought I had myself convinced that they were fine, but I must not have. I think I slept as if I was dead for a good six hours.”
“Only six hours, Daniel?” Martouf asked, frowning. “That is not very long when we have not rested well for so long. Both Lantash and I slept for well over twelve hours, which is a very long time for a symbiote. I suspect that Lantash has been getting even less sleep than I have, though, for he can increase the chemicals that help me to sleep. However, short of putting himself into a dormant state, which I know he did a few times, there is nothing else he can do to help himself sleep.”
“I did not realize he was not putting himself into a dormant state. He should have been. You were both very tense.” He sighed before saying, “We have all been tense. There is a palatable sense of that tension easing this morning. Jack stopped by this morning, and he said there was a hell of a party last night that went on into the wee hours of the morning. General Hammond cancelled all off world trips that were not absolutely necessary for today, so everyone can just enjoy the feeling of relief.” Daniel grinned briefly, adding, “Or recover from their hangover. It seems that, after General Hammond left, someone went for some hard liquor and some of them, er, overindulged. So to speak. Jack should know; he has a dandy headache this morning.”
Going along with Daniel’s diversion tactics for the moment, Martouf answered him asking, “Did the symbiotes allow their hosts to imbibe as well? They do occasionally, you see, and depending on the circumstances, they sometimes allow it to affect themselves as well as their host. You have seen nothing until you have seen a tipsy Tok’Ra, Daniel. They become, ah, quite unrestrained. Moreover, Tok’Ra are…not good at being ill. They so seldom are, you see, and a hangover is, to them anyway, an insult to their abilities. For once they allow the alcohol to affect them, they cannot, assuming they consumed a great deal, which they generally do at those times, well, they cannot avoid the hangover, for they cannot “heal” it. It simply is, and they must allow time, as well as time-honored remedies, help them to cope. Of course, as I said, they do not do illness well at all. No,” Martouf smiled, as if at a memory, before continuing, “not well at all.”
Daniel gave a small smile in response to the information, although Lantash thought it looked more like a grimace. Responding to the unspoken comment, Martouf said, “Yes, it did. There is definitely something wrong here, Lantash.”
Lantash agreed with him, responding, “I concur. Therefore, we must move the conversation back to him, before he has time to put up a guard around himself. At the moment, he will not be expecting us to question him.”
They turned from their internal conversation in time to hear Daniel say, “I believe that some of them did. At least, Jack mentioned that a few of the symbiotes had become, er, I believe the word you used was tipsy. He indicated that he thought they became a lot more fun in that condition, but I have no idea what happened. Whatever it was, Jack seemed less sarcastic than normal this morning. Of course, during the last many weeks, he has come to know some of them, and he realizes that they are not Goa’uld, in any way other than the physical. He has been slowly coming around, I think. I know I have not heard him refer to anyone as a ‘snake’ in several weeks.” He stopped talking, but an arrested look came into his eyes and he grinned, albeit a small one, but it was there. Martouf was about to ask him what he had thought of, when he said, “You know, we are right and Jack has not been using the word snake. In fact, I cannot remember him using it since Jacob and Selmak arrived. I would bet just about anything that General Hammond ordered him to lose it from his vocabulary.” Daniel laughed softly and shook his head before continuing, “But, I also think that Jack is coming around. I don't think it was very hard for him to lose the word.”
Lantash came fore, answering him, “I, too, have noticed this, Daniel. Although, it has been conspicuous in its absence, I have no desire to point it out, and thus push him back into his previous behavior, which I believe we could. Whether it is an actual change in attitude, or the result of a direct order from his commander, I hope it continues, for he is much more pleasant this way.”
Daniel grinned again, but this one was full and real, as he said, “I agree. I have not brought it up either, nor will I. Let sleeping dogs lie and all that. Moreover, you are right about the other as well. It does make it a whole lot more pleasant to be around him, and I believe that it has already had an effect on other members of the SGC. Some of them that were none too happy about having the Tok’Ra here have come around after watching General Hammond and his ease and comfort when he is with one of you. I am sure that they have noticed Jack’s change in attitude, as well. It probably helped, too, that they were where they could observe the Tok’Ra closely. You know, they could see that you are not anything like a Goa’uld. Which is all a goodness from my perspective.”
“I agree, Daniel, however, as fascinating as I am sure you find this conversation, I believe there is something more important for us to discuss.”
“I have broken the ice, Martouf. You may continue,” Lantash informed him.
“Why, thank you, Lantash, that was most kind of you,” Martouf responded, grinning at his symbiote. Lantash was notorious for his almost complete lack of tact and diplomacy as soon as it was needed most. In his personal relationships, he could be unbelievably sensitive, caring, kind, understanding, and eloquent. He could even be quite charming when he wished to be. Put him in a situation that contained anyone other than one of his mates along with a desperate need to be tactful, and he was a, what was the Tau’ri term? Ah, yes, he was a bull in a china shop. Thus his abrupt opening of the conversation and subsequent release of control to Martouf, who, it was well known and acknowledged, was admired for his ability to calm troubled waters, soothe irate counselors, and lead touchy conversations and negotiations to mutually beneficial conclusions.
Daniel was looking at Martouf blankly. “What have I forgotten? I don’t recall anything pressing we had to discuss. What is the matter, Martouf?” Once again, Daniel showed his ability to tell them apart.
Martouf smiled at him even as he shook his head in denial of anything being “wrong.” He followed it up verbally, “There is nothing, wrong, Daniel. I believe Lantash was referring to the wonderful event that occurred yesterday afternoon; I do not believe he phrased his comment very well,” Martouf assured him, then continued, saying, “It was a wonderful lifting of the tension that has permeated the SGC, was it not? I know that Lantash and I are feeling very much at peace today. I must admit, too, that we also feel a deep well of joy. It was wonderful to hear her voice and know for sure, that she and the baby are both doing well.” You could hear the happiness in his voice, and he sent a full, brilliant smile to Daniel, inviting him to share that sense of joy and relief. Daniel glanced down at his tray and frowned slightly.
Suddenly, Martouf changed tactics, lowering his voice and saying very softly and gently, “But you are not feeling relief, Daniel. You are quite tense,” Martouf said quietly, his voice full of tenderness. “What is wrong, Daniel?”
Daniel shook his head, as he stared at the pancakes he was just playing with instead of eating. Finally, he looked up, sighed deeply, and said, “It sounds crazy, but I think there is something wrong with Anise. I cannot explain it. It is just a weird feeling I am getting that Freya was lying to me. Something in her voice, I guess.”
Martouf frowned, completely surprised at Daniel’s answer. Even though it seemed logical that Daniel’s mood had to do with Anise and Freya, he had not truly believed that it would be that. Still frowning, but now in concentration rather than shock, he asked him, “What do you mean, Daniel? What was she lying about, and why do you suspect that there is something wrong with Anise? Do you mean she is ill? That would be very unusual.”
Daniel shook his head again, as he tapped his fork against his plate, obviously deep in thought. “I asked to talk to Anise and Freya said she was asleep. That she had been up all night working on the communications and that she had just fallen asleep. She did not want to disturb her.” He took a sip of his coffee and looked at Martouf, who was staring back at him.
“Anise was asleep when they contacted us?” He finally asked. “And Freya did not want to awaken her? I have to admit it does sound odd,” Martouf said slowly. He looked as puzzled and confused as Daniel did, now.
Daniel nodded his agreement, and then told him, “At the time, I took it at face value. I mean, no doubt others were doing as much as they could so that Sam would rest. Now though, the more I think about it, the more worried I become. It just does not make sense. And shortly after telling me that, she said she should allow someone else the opportunity to talk to their mate and that was it.”
Martouf was quiet, obviously contemplating what Daniel had revealed. After a short period of thought, he said, “There were several people who needed to talk to their mates, and no doubt, Malek wished to talk to Selmak. Perhaps it was simply that she was truly tired, Daniel. As you said, they may all have been working extra to keep Samantha from doing it. There is the chance that by doing so, she became exhausted. It is possible. And knowing they now have communications, it is not as if you will not get to talk to her the next time.”
Daniel shook his head, indicating his refusal to agree with Martouf’s statements. Sighing deeply, he said, “She just really sounded strange to me, once I thought about it. I woke up in the middle of the night convinced that something is very wrong, and there is not anything I can do about it. We have been apart for almost six months now, and the last time we were together, it was a very brief surprise visit by me. Surely, Anise would have wanted to talk to me. Perhaps, she no longer cares for me, or she never truly did, and now she realizes it. She was attracted to me first, though, so that makes no sense. If it was Freya, I would believe it was possible that she was no longer in love with me. But I would have sworn they both loved me.”
“They do both love you, Daniel. Whatever the cause, it is not because she does not care for you. I feel quite certain of that, and Lantash agrees with me.”
Daniel sighed again. “Perhaps I am over reacting. I just feel it, you know? Freya was keeping something from me. It just makes no sense for Anise to be asleep when they contacted us. None at all,” Daniel said firmly.
“That is not true, Daniel,” Lantash came forward to say. “There are many reasons a symbiote might be dormant and exhaustion is certainly one of them. Do not forget that Anise wants to return to you as much as Samantha wants to return to us. She would be working herself very hard to try to accomplish that, and when you add the issue of Samantha’s pregnancy into the equation, you have a true reason for her to have done so.”
Daniel still looked unconvinced, but he did seem a little more relaxed. “I suppose you could be right. At any rate, there is nothing I can do about it, so worrying is pointless. Let's try changing the subject; maybe I can just forget the entire thing for a while. They are safe; that is the main thing. Now that we do not have to worry about an attack taking place as they were settling in, we can concentrate on some of those writings we found a week ago in that temple. The one where there seemed to be missing sentences, but we couldn’t figure out why.”
“Actually,” Daniel began to sound almost excited, “I had another thought the other day when I was looking over those images again. I know you remember the world we went to together, for us to come to terms with our fears and stuff?” He didn’t even wait for a reply, but plunged onward, “Well, it came to me that the temples on that world were exactly the same except that it was not every poem as it was in the other one. It makes me think there may be a link between them. Now, I just have to figure out what it is, and what the poems mean. Because, I think they have some meaning that I am missing,” he finished decisively.
“I remember both places, Daniel. You could very well be correct. It does seem odd that we would find the same sort of writings on both worlds, unless there was a link of some kind. We already decided that the poems, in and of themselves, were strange and more than that, they were strange to find on what used to be a Goa’uld world. Would you care for some help? I would be glad to have something with which to occupy myself. The next few days are going to be very long I am afraid.”
“Sure, I would love the help. Besides, look on the bright side, Lantash. You know Sam’s safe, and if she has the baby before she gets back, you and Martouf will not have to go through the worry of the birth. Although,” he added, “it would be a shame to miss it. It is a pretty special happening.”
“We agree, Daniel, and that is why we wish to be there. It is something that may never happen for us again. We have already missed the last two months of her pregnancy through no ones fault but our own. We do not wish to miss the culmination as well.”
“Well, rest assured, Sam will do her best to get back here for the big event, so that you can be there with her for it. She wants you to share it with her, as much as you want to share it with her. So, just keep in mind that they will all be working flat out to get the DHD up and going again, as soon as possible.”
“Yes, I know.” Suddenly Lantash laughed. “We are also worrying about her working too hard. It seems we are destined to worry regardless.”
Daniel grinned at them, as he finally began to eat his now cold pancakes. “That is what new-daddy’s-to-be do best. They worry. Therefore, you are doing your job. Just relax and go with it.”
“I will remind you of that when Freya is the one that is carrying your child, Daniel.”
“Somehow I just cannot see Anise agreeing to that. It would be a fantastic thing to have happen, of course,” he said, his eyes shining softly at the thought, “but the chances of it are pretty slim.”
“Do not be so sure, Daniel. There is really no reason that Anise would not agree. What are a few months? She would not have to go to sleep for the first month or so, and would awaken as soon as the child is born to help Freya’s body readjust quickly. I can see her agreeing to it.”
“Really? So, you think I should maybe bring it up to them? Talk to them about the possibility? I mean, I agree with Selmak, and it would be nice if our kids could have each other to play with. I remember you telling me about Sam talking about them not being able to go to school like normal kids would. And she is right, they can’t, not as long as the N.I.D. is out there. So, it would be a nice thing to have one right away so they can all grow up together.” Daniel nodded once, decisively. “You are right, and I will talk to them as soon as I can. Well, as soon as they are back, and we can be alone and discuss it,” he revised his comment.
Martouf took control back from Lantash, and grinned as Daniel both asked questions of them and answered them himself. They agreed with him anyway, “Yes, Daniel, we believe that is a wonderful idea.”
“Me, too.” Daniel finished his pancakes and stood. “Ready? We may as well occupy ourselves.”
“We are ready, Daniel.”
Martouf smiled at Janet Fraiser as she stopped him in the hall. They had heard from Verduna two days ago when the ships had arrived. Again, Freya had given Daniel an excuse for Anise not talking to him. Both he and Martouf were puzzled, but her excuse had been that someone needed her immediately, and they had to leave. They loved him and would see him very soon now. They hoped to have the DHD working in two or three more days.
“Martouf, believe what Sam told you. She said she is fine and we have to trust her. She sounded fine. Without being able to examine her, I cannot tell you anything else. Keep in mind that many first babies are late. So, don’t worry so much, we could still have another three weeks to go, even after her due date.”
Martouf smiled slightly, saying, “While we know this intellectually, Janet, we do not seem to be able to make our hearts believe it. Daniel says it is new-daddy-to-be syndrome, and that we have to worry; it is obligatory, and we can do nothing, but suffer through it. The next one, he says, will be easier. Or, so he has been told. I do not think it would ever become easy.”
Janet smiled broadly at him, as she said, “Well, he is right, so just try not to worry too much. Moreover, I really believe that if they can get the gate fixed, she will make it back before the baby is born. I just hope that going through the gate this close to her delivery date does not throw her into labor before she is ready. I don’t suppose you have seen enough of that type of gate travel to know?”
“I have seen women who were in the process of labor enter the circle to go to a certain midwife. They returned with healthy babies. Not right away of course, but perhaps a few days later. Gate travel does not seem to harm very young infants either.”
He watched as she relaxed. “Good. I have to admit, that part of it kind of had me worried. I almost asked Selmak, but I was afraid it would upset Jacob, and if he had not really thought about it, I did not want him to begin worrying.”
“I understand. It is something we have thought about, too, and Lantash has shown me many instances of it happening, beyond those with which I am familiar, with no ill aftereffects. I just hope she makes it home,” he sighed.
“I know. We all do. Furthermore, from what they said, they expect to have it fixed anytime now. The next people through the gate could be Sam and Freya. So do your best to stay calm. I am sure if anything happens they will contact you.”
“I agree. I just hope they do not contact us to tell us our child has been born.”
“Martouf and Daniel sat in Daniel’s office going over some of the film of the temple with the missing lines of poetry. Rather, they were pretending to go over it. Finally, Martouf stood, saying, “We are not concentrating on this, Daniel, much as we would like to believe we are. Neither of us can keep our minds on it. Why do we not simply stop and go get some coffee? At least we will not have to pretend to be doing that,” he grumbled, obviously upset with their inability to think of anything other than Samantha and the coming child.
“Good idea, Martouf. It is twenty-two hundred hours. We should be in bed and asleep instead of having coffee, but I have to admit it does appeal more. Let’s…” Daniel did not finish his sentence. The klaxon’s were blaring an off world activation. One that was not expected.
“It could be SG-10 coming back. They might be coming back early. I hope that it is not injuries like SG-6 were a couple of hours ago. I do not think Janet has left the infirmary yet.”
“You are probably correct but…”
“Yeah,” Daniel agreed, “let’s go see.”
They headed for the control room, but they never made it there. They met an almost running Malek in the hall, and he was carrying a very pregnant Samantha. Moreover, she was obviously in pain. Daniel did not notice. He was looking at Freya half-running beside him. Neither Daniel nor Freya noticed Martouf take Sam from Malek and head toward the infirmary. They were too busy holding each other.
“Dear universe, Samantha, when did your labor start?” Martouf managed to ask.
“Late - last night,” she panted as another hard contraction hit her. “They are – very - close together, - Martouf. My - water broke several hours - ago,” she bit out. “We don’t - have much - time.”
Rushing into the infirmary, Martouf called for Janet.
Janet swiftly left her office, when she heard the depth of the panic in Martouf’s normally calm, serene, and well-modulated voice, and took in the situation at one glance. She started snapping orders and asking questions. When she found out when the labor had started, when her water had broken, and how close the contractions were together, she snapped at the nurse, “Forget the prep, I want to do an exam, but I may just be in time to catch the baby.”
Martouf laid Samantha down on the bed and she screamed at him, “Not - flat, for goddess's - sake, I - have to sit - up!”
He immediately pulled her upright, then quickly crawled into the bed and sat behind her, letting her rest against him, except that she appeared to him to have no rest. The contractions seemed to be almost continuous. He realized she was in a long dress or shift of some sort and that Janet was not bothering to try to get her out of it.
“Lean her back just a little Martouf, not much. That is it; that is good. Oh, yeah, we are going to have a baby really soon.”
“I can’t - stop – pushing, Janet, - I just - can’t,” Sam gasped.
Janet nodded, “Go ahead, you are completely dilated. I do not know how you managed to hold off as long as you have.”
“Had to – get the- Aaahhh,”
“That is right, come on, push, Sam.” Then, “Okay, relax.”
“the gate – going. Just – just now – finished – it.” Sam screamed as the next contraction hit, and Martouf held her, forgetting all about breathing, or anything else. All he wanted to do was to stop this for her. No more, he swore to himself. There would be no more children. He could feel the muscles harden in her abdomen and back, and he knew it had to be agonizing. She was gripping his hands so hard, it felt as if she was breaking his fingers, but if it helped her, he did not care if she broke them all. Lantash could repair them.
“Push, Sam, push - now, - good girl, one or two more like that and you will be holding this little one.”
“I don’t – think I – can. I am – so – tired.”
“You can do it, Sam, here it comes, push… harder… good girl. We will have the head out next push. Almost over, I promise. Breathe, Sam.”
“Martouf, we are supposed to be helping her to breathe,” Lantash remembered suddenly.
“I know, but I do not remember how,” Martouf replied urgently.
“At this point, I am not sure it matters, and she seems to be doing it herself,” he soothed and calmed Martouf.
Sam’s moan and Janet’s triumphant cry brought their attention back to the drama unfolding before them and of which they were a part. “One more and it is all over, Sam.”
“Breathe, my love,” Martouf tried to help, but he felt bewildered, lost, and confused. It was all happening so fast. However, at his words, and the touch of his lips on the top of her head, he felt her acceptance of their being there for her, and knew that they were helping. She had made a supreme effort to be here for this birth, and all she really wanted was for them to be there for her. She could breathe, but she could not hold herself. Only he and Lantash could be there and do that for her, and that was what she truly needed from them. Realizing that, he felt calmer, and he noticed the same feeling coming from Lantash. It was all right. Now, they knew what too do, and they kissed her again, silently giving her all their love and emotional support.
Sam screamed once more, and then he heard Janet saying quietly, “It is a girl; a beautiful, healthy little girl. Well, not so little, actually. She is a chunk, Sam.” The baby let out a cry, and then she was placed on her mother’s tummy.
Martouf blinked at the mucky little body when they gently placed her onto his Samantha’s abdomen to lie next to her mother for the first time. Women had an odd concept of beauty, he decided.
Sam gently touched her baby’s cheek and the little one opened her mouth. Sam laughed and cried all at the same time, and watched as they took her daughter to be cleaned up and checked out. She sighed then, obviously exhausted.
“Okay, Sam, we are going to deliver the rest of this stuff, and then get you cleaned up, into a clean bed, and clean clothes. Martouf, while we finish here, why don’t you and Lantash go get one of Sam’s nightshirts that she bought for when the baby came. Be sure you get one that opens in the front, so she can nurse easily.”
“In a minute, Janet,” Sam said, as Martouf moved from her back to her side, so that she could lie down. She looked up at him and smiled tiredly. “I am glad you were here with me. I am sorry I could not make it back before. We really tried.”
Seeing her tiredness, he leaned over her and took her lips in a soft kiss, “You are here now, and that is all that matters. We love you, Samantha Carter. More than you will ever know.”
“I love you both, too. Just as much, I promise you.”
He nodded. “We will go and get you some clean clothing and return at once.”
“Hurry. They will have the baby cleaned up fairly quickly, and I want you to be here when they give her back, so you can hold her, too.”
Nodding again, he kissed her swiftly, and left to do as they asked. As he entered the hall, he realized that there were people everywhere. Jacob, the General, and SG-1 were the closest to the door through which he had come, though.
“Well?” Jacob asked.
Martouf gazed blankly at him, for a moment, as he attempted to focus on the question Jacob had asked him, as well as its meaning. Then, as he and Lantash realized what Jacob was asking, they smiled, saying, “It is a girl. We have a daughter. She and Samantha are both fine.”
“Yes!” Jack cried.
“Congratulations, Martouf, Lantash,” Teal’c said in his usual stoic way. Then he smiled. “I am most pleased for you.”
“Thank you. I, um, I have to go get some things for Samantha. They need them.”
He accepted congratulations as he walked through the throng that was now slowly disbursing. It was over, everyone knew it was a girl, that the baby and Sam were fine, and that they would find out later who had won the baby pool. After offering their best wishes, they left so the new father could return and become acquainted with his new daughter. Martouf saw Malek leaning against a nearby wall and went to him.
“We wish to thank you for helping Samantha return here for the birth,” he told him.
Malek smiled tiredly, “She would not stop and have the baby there. They insisted that they were too close to finishing it to stop just because she went into labor. She did rest often before the labor started, but she wished to be with you for the birth, so they worked to repair it until it was finished. We had time only to test it once, dial here, send the code, and when she doubled over, I simply picked her up and came through. Thank the universe our own scientists were able to finish the actual work on it with her simply giving verbal instruction.”
He paused before saying softly, “I do not think I have ever been so terrified in my entire life, as I was when she screamed and doubled over. She was in hard labor for some time, stopping only for the pain of a contraction to pass. Arwanna was with her and kept checking her. She was cared for even as we worked to get her here. Her labor started very early this morning Earth time. Last night for Verduna. So do not think she was not caring for herself. She was.”
“I am glad to know that. She and the baby are very healthy according to Janet, so there is no doubt that she was taken care of very well. We do thank you for watching over her, Malek, as I am sure you did.”
“You are most welcome. Now, I believe I will wait until after Jacob has seen his new granddaughter, and then I will return to Verduna. If I do not see you before I leave, believe that we are all very pleased for you and Lantash.”
“Thank you, and we will bring the child to the Tunnels soon, I am sure.” Smiling as he said goodbye, he turned and made his way to their apartment, where he soon found that for which he was looking.
When Martouf returned to the infirmary with Sam's gown, Janet turned to him with a smile, as she said, “You are just in time. Sam is cleaned up and waiting for her own gown. Why don’t you help her to put it on? She could probably manage for herself, but I happen to believe that new mothers should be pampered and coddled a little bit. They do very hard work during the delivery, and they deserve the extra care and attention.”
Martouf nodded and then said, “Even after watching the films, I had no idea how very hard that hard labor actually is. You are correct, and we will coddle Samantha for as long as she will permit it. I will be very pleased to help her, Janet. I will feel as if I am actually doing something for her, which is more than I could do during the birth,” he sighed.
“You did fine, Martouf. Everything happened very quickly. Normally, you would have been able to be of more help, but you were there with her and that was the most important thing. For now, you can help her dress and then help her to the room we have ready. She is staying the night here tonight and then returning to the apartment tomorrow. Let me know when you have her settled, and we will bring the baby; she is wanting fed already and these first few feedings are very important.”
“I remember. The liquid that contains the things the baby needs for its immune system. We will work as quickly as we can without either hurting or causing Samantha more fatigue,” he assured her, as he became aware of the high wail that could only be a newborn infant.
Janet nodded, before saying briskly, “As soon as Sam is settled and has fed the baby, SG- 1 and Jacob will come in. I will have them in scrubs by then, although, the birth itself exposed her to god knows what germs.” She shrugged, continuing, “And women have babies all the time in much worse conditions than these are. Besides that, she is healthy, so I do not look for any problems for either of them because of that.”
Sam was sitting gingerly on the edge of the bed when they entered. She smiled at them and allowed them to help her into her gown, and then into the other room where a wonderful looking bed was ready and waiting for her.
Martouf picked her up and laid her gently on the bed before bending down, kissing her softly, and resting his forehead against hers. “I love you; we love you. Malek told us what you did. You took a great risk, Samantha, but I am so happy to have you here, I will say nothing other than that I understand why you did it and holding you in this way is worth much.”
“I love you, too. I knew we were almost finished with it, Martouf, and I had to try. I am so glad you and Lantash were with me. I needed you with me. Thank you for being there for us.”
Martouf shook his head, saying, “You would have been fine without us there, Samantha, but we are glad that we were there.”
“Yes, I would have had the baby whether you were there or not, but having you there helped me. It made it that much more special. I am glad you were there.”
Suddenly remembering Malek’s face, as he confessed his terror to them, he laughed softly. “You would have been fine, but I am not sure that Malek would have survived it. He was very frightened both for and of you, Samantha. We owe him for not waiting for instructions from Arwanna but simply picking you up and going through the Chaappa’ai with you, despite his fear that you would have the child while you were in his arms, for it is my belief that is where his fear originated.”
Sam smiled back at them, saying, “Yes, we must think of someway to let him know we appreciate what he did.”
Hearing a noise near the door, they turned to look at Janet as she brought a now cleaned and dressed baby into them. “She really is beautiful, Sam, and everything checked out great. She is absolutely perfect. Here you are, mommy” Janet said, as she settled the little bundle with Sam. “She has some good lungs on her, too,” she remarked over the squalls that were getting angrier by the minute.
As Sam brought the baby to her breast, and she latched onto the nipple, it finally registered to Martouf and Lantash. They had a daughter. Furthermore, this time they had to agree with Janet’s comment. She was beautiful. The little bud of a mouth suckled greedily, and Sam smiled down at her.
“We have a daughter as we had hoped, Martouf. A small Samantha to wrap within our hearts. We shall keep her there forever, locked into a place that is only hers; a place that no one else will ever breach, just as our love of Samantha is locked it its place forever.”
“Yes. Yes, we have a beautiful daughter. It is an overwhelming feeling, this love for this helpless little creature that is flesh of our flesh. We knew it would be a wonder, and so it has proved to be.”
Samantha began talking to them, and it brought them out of their internal conversation.
“Come and sit here on the bed next to us, Martouf, and hold her.”
“Holding her is not necessary, Samantha, but we will gladly sit with you,” Martouf said, as he settled himself next to her against the pillows. He was unprepared when she ignored his comment and laid the infant into his arms. He was just as unprepared for the rush of emotions that raged through him. It was wondrous, exhilarating, and terrifying all at the same time.
They had a daughter. Looking down at her, as she lay in his arms for the first time, he caught his breath. She opened dark blue, but very unfocused eyes, and he smiled widely. He touched her skin and felt the wonder of the softness of her skin. “She is so tiny, so very delicate," he whispered to Lantash.
She closed her eyes and was instantly asleep.
Martouf insisted that Lantash come forward to hold her as well. He felt the wonder that coursed through him as he, too, looked down at this tiny being they had made.
“I did not believe the emotion could go any deeper, but it is. She is a wonder, a true miracle for us, beloved,” Martouf said softly.
“She is. I find that I am unprepared for these overwhelming sensations. I knew we would love this child, but this feeling, these emotions – it is indescribable,” Lantash replied.
“She is beautiful, Samantha,” Lantash said, his voice low and quiet, so as not to disturb the now sleeping infant. “What name are we going to give to her? We never did decide on one, but there were several we liked. Did you finally decide which one you liked best?”
“I was thinking we might name her Latara Elizabeth. The Latara has aspects of both your name and Martouf’s and the Elizabeth was my mother’s middle name.”
Lantash looked down at the small bundle he was holding. He could not get over how very tiny she was. “Neither Martouf nor I would object to that name. It is very pretty. And it will fit her, for she will be as beautiful as her mother,” he said softly, as he placed a kiss on the soft downy head.
He heard Samantha laugh softly, and he looked at her in inquiry.
“She already has you wrapped around her little finger. You will be a very doting father and allow her to get away with all kinds of things you should not.”
Lantash smiled slightly, “Perhaps you are correct. However, she will deserve to be so indulged. She is such a miracle to us, Samantha. Thank you for this gift of your love. We will cherish her always.” Leaning into her, he kissed her sweetly.
“You are most welcome, my love. Thank you for this part of you and Martouf that you have given to me as well. She is a gift for each of us from the other.” She smiled lovingly at her Lantash and Martouf, and then turned at the commotion coming through the door. SG-1 and Jacob entered as quietly as a group can enter. She smiled at her dad and held out her arms.
“I get a hug before your new granddaughter captivates you, and takes you away,” she said to him, as he hugged her hard.
“I am glad you are okay, Sam. We have been worried, but you knew that. You sure know how to make a spectacular entrance.”
“I wanted to make sure everyone knew we were here. I could not do that quietly. Now, would you care to hold her? If, that is, you can pry her away from her fathers.”
“Have you named her?” Jack O’Neill asked. “Did you name her after me? It is Jacqueline, right?”
Lantash looked over at Jack and answered smoothly, “It gives me great pain to disappoint you, Colonel, but we did not. She is to be known as Latara Elizabeth.”
“Elizabeth. Thank you, Sam. Your mother would have been happy.” He cleared his throat, and said, “So, now that you have named her what are you going to call her?”
Lantash frowned. “We just told you, Jacob. She is to be…”
“Yes, that is her name, but what are you going to call her, Lantash? Lat is not much of a nickname. Neither is Tar. But, Tara would work. So, that is taken care of, now I want to hold Tara.”
“Certainly, you may hold Latara, Jacob,” Lantash replied, but he made no move to give up his daughter. Sam laughed and reaching over for the sleeping baby, she took her and handed her to her grandfathers.
“She is a pretty little thing, Sam. You did good,” Jacob said softly, as he held her.
“Indeed, Samantha, you, Martouf, and Lantash are to be congratulated. She is lovely,” Selmak added, before returning control to Jacob.
The others all had to come for a better look, but shortly Janet was there shooing them out of the room. There would be more than enough time to see her again tomorrow. For now, mother, fathers, and baby needed their rest.
After they said their goodnights, the new family was once more by themselves, with the baby once more cuddled in Martouf’s arms.
He watched as Sam yawned. “Go to sleep, Samantha. They brought the small bed for Latara, and after Lantash holds her one more time, we will lay her down. It will only be a moment.”
She nodded, closing her eyes and falling asleep at once. Lantash held Latara, for a moment, and then carefully lay the sleeping infant down. He returned to the bed to lie beside his mate and take her into his arms where she fit so well, and where she belonged. She snuggled up to him, her arm going around him, murmuring his name. Even in her sleep, she seemed to know who held her. He stretched out beside her and sighing in near bliss, he closed his eyes.
A moment later, they popped open and he grinned, almost laughing aloud. Something had just registered with him. Now they knew why Anise had not talked to Daniel. She was asleep and would remain so for the next three months or so. Daniel was joining the new-daddy-to-be club. Evidently, Anise and Freya had already discussed the possibility of having a child and come to a decision. Still smiling, Lantash and Martouf prepared to follow their mate into sleep. Tomorrow would be soon enough to find out all the details.
Tomorrow. Lantash smiled as he thought of tomorrow. And not only tomorrow, for it was only the beginning. The beginning of all the rest of their tomorrows.