Tara sat with her cheek against the cold window of the car as Daniel drove them home. Since talking to Jennifer she had been going through a whirlwind of emotions. Finding out that you were not only pregnant in one day, but also that there would be two babies, one of which may or may not end up with a life altering birth defect had been really hard on her. After initially finding out, Rodney had gone to fetch her lap top from her office. While she and Daniel had started researching what they possibly could be facing with Spina Bifida, Rodney had also started working with Dr. Lam and General Landry on contacting any of their allies that may be able to help. They hadn’t heard back from any of them yet, but Tara was appreciative of his help.
Jennifer had stayed with them throughout all of the treatments, sometimes being more a friend than a doctor. It had calmed Tara having her there. Dr. Keller had explained that while telling them now may have been a bit premature due to it being too early to get a full understanding of the baby’s status, it did allow them to be able to work on what may be happening with their understanding of why certain tests were needed. The Ancient equipment was far superior to anything that they had on Earth, which was why this was already being detected. Even within the first month, the neural tube within embryos developed and closed. According to Dr. Keller, the Ancient device was saying her baby’s neural tube had not closed properly, which usually caused the defect Spina Bifida. This was something that normally wasn’t detected until further into the pregnancy.
It was dizzying what she had gone through since arriving at the SGC that morning. There had been joy, and if she was honest, a bit of fear of finding out she was pregnant. She had started thinking of the fun things they could introduce their child to. Malita was big into soccer, and Tara smiled as she thought about her oldest teaching their youngest about the game. Now though, that may not even be an option. Sure, one of the twins was reportedly fine at the moment, but the other one… For one of them, there wouldn’t be soccer games, chasing each other at the park, dance recitals or all those other fun activities kids now had to do these days, right? It just wasn’t fair.
Tara took a deep breath, trying to calm herself and then placed her hand on her stomach. She had already cried so much in the last hour or so, and now she wasn’t only feeling upset, but also once again tired and very sick to her stomach. Through out the last month nausea was the one thing she hadn’t actually experienced. Now it was taking everything for her not to throw up all over their car.
“You doing okay?” asked Daniel, his eyes staying on the snow covered road.
“Not really.” She turned to look at him and frowned. “I’m feeling very sick to my stomach right now.”
“Do I need to pull over?”
“No. We should be home in just a few minutes. I think I can make it.”
“I have no problem stopping if I have to. Just let me know.”
Daniel sighed as his hands tightened on the wheel. Normally he drove fine on the winding, and many times icy, Colorado roads. At the moment he was so emotionally strung up that driving wasn’t exactly easy. This day had started out so simple and then took a turn so far into left field, he was lost on how to handle everything. All he knew for sure right now was that he had to be strong for Tara, who was barely keeping it together since learning about the twins and what one of them might be dealing with. They had a house full of people waiting for them, who Tara refused to send elsewhere. She had said that she needed everyone there because they were her family too, but Daniel was worried it could be overwhelming.
He drove the car through their neighborhood, which was on the outskirts of Colorado Springs and not too far from the SGC. The houses here were a nice size, and many of them sat on large enough lots that you felt like you had your own private space. Along the way, he shot a few looks towards to Tara, noticing the closer they got, the more pale she became.
Tara sat up straight as Daniel pulled their car into the garage. He had barely parked when she threw open the door and ran inside. Daniel turned off the engine and raced after her knowing exactly where she was heading, throwing his coat to the side in the process. Not even talking to Jack or Malita, Daniel ran into the guest bathroom downstairs, where Tara was already hunkered over the toilet.
“What do you need us to do?” asked Jack as he stepped into the doorway while Daniel bent down to move Tara’s hair out of the way.
“I think we just need to get Tara upstairs when she is done. Laying down may…”
Tara shook her head. “No. I’m not hiding up there. The couch…” She didn’t finish as she felt another wave come over her.
Malita’s voice sounded from the hall behind Jack. “I’ll fix up the couch.”
“I’ll help, kiddo. Let’s give you parents some privacy.”
Daniel scrunched himself up to sit down on the floor of the small bathroom. While one hand held her hair, the other one rubbed soothing circles on her back. By now Tara was no longer vomiting anything up. After a few more heaves that were dry, she leaned back, Daniel catching her. “Damn that hurt,” she complained, and then followed with, “I probably really need to brush my teeth now.”
Not able to help himself, Daniel started to laugh. He could feel Tara also laughing against him. It was a testament of how tired they were that they could find any humor. “How about I go get you that toothbrush and we leave it down here just in case?”
After getting back to presentable – teeth brushed and all – Tara and Daniel made their way into the living room. Malita had already gotten several pillows for her mom to lean against, along with a blanket to keep her warm. Both Jack and Malita pitched in to help Tara get settled. Once she was laid out, her back resting against the pillows while her feet were stretched out in front of her, she remarked, “Malita, we need to talk.”
Malita glanced over at Jack before moving to sit on the floor next to her mother on the couch. Daniel grabbed a chair and moved it to where he could be close to the conversation. Realizing this was a family moment, Jack excused himself to check on the lasagna. As soon as he was out the door, Malita blurted out, “You don’t have to say a thing. I know all about it.”
“Did your Uncle Jack…” Daniel started.
Malita cut her dad off, speaking quickly, “I’ve been having dreams lately. At first they were just about Mom being sick, but then they got more detailed. I wanted to tell you both what I was seeing, but I couldn’t. If there is one thing I’ve learned, it isn’t always right to tell people the future. You have to find it out yourself, and plus, you probably wouldn’t have believed me if I had told you what I had seen. I’m just a child, not a doctor or…”
Tara reached out and placed her hand on Malita’s arm. The young girl stopped and turned to her mother. “Can you tell us what you’ve seen? You don’t have to tell us everything, because I understand your feelings that our future is ours to discover, but when it comes to right now, we need to know what you know and don’t.”
Malita sighed. They never talked much about her abilities, but her parents both knew that there were things she kept from them. When she was younger, they questioned her, but after a while, everyone involved realized that unless it was a life or death situation, it was probably best if Malita kept what she dreamed to herself. Knowing what was going to happen wasn’t always a good thing. It made her feel better knowing her mother wasn’t going to push and was going to keep up with how they had started to handle her visions. “You’re pregnant with twins. Dr. Keller told you that today. She also warned you that one of them may have a birth defect.”
“You had dreamed about all of that?” This came from Daniel.
“I’ve dreamed that a few times in the last week or so.” Malita took a deep breath and added, “I do want to tell you one thing, because I know how upset you are right now. Last night, I dreamed about the twins. Everything will be fine. You both can handle this.” Leaning forward, Malita took one of her Mom’s hands and whispered, “When you are able to, you will hold her in your arms, and she will seem perfect, no matter what.”
While Tara simply squeezed her daughter’s hand and started to tear up, Daniel studied his daughter. After their conversation that morning, he had a feeling she knew much more than what she was saying. At the time her words didn’t exactly comfort him about them being a family like they always wanted. Now, even though what she had said helped him feel a little better about their… daughter, he still felt there was so much more than what she was telling them. “You’ve had other dreams too, haven’t you?”
Malita nodded. Her eyes, which normally were full of joy, suddenly appeared haunted. “Yes.”
“But you won’t tell us?”
“It would only make things worse.” Malita took a deep, calming breath. “I don’t have the heart to tell you, and if I did, all you would do is worry about what is to come. That isn’t something the two of you need to be stressing out about, especially when it comes to mom’s health concerns. Just know what I’ve said is true. No matter what comes, however awful it is and whatever you lose, everything will be righted. We will all be okay. ALL of us.”
Jack cleared his throat in the doorway. “It looks like Miller just pulled up the drive.”
Daniel leaned forward, gave Malita a hug, and then stood up to follow Jack out into the front of the house, grabbing his coat from the floor on the way. Graham had just placed the car in park when they stepped outside. In a blink of an eye, Dawn emerged from the car and squealed, “Daniel!” He couldn’t help but instantly smile at the young woman who had become a close friend through the years. With Dawn studying in his field, she was constantly contacting him to talk about her schooling. Out of all the ‘Scoobies’ she was probably the one he had the most contact with. With a smile, she ran up the steps, flying over the sidewalk that Jack had shoveled and salted for them probably within the last hour. Her arms wrapped around him, and Daniel couldn’t help hugging her back.
“Don’t I get a hug too?” asked Jack with a bit of a pout on his face.
Dawn let go of Daniel and promptly started to hug Jack. “Of course. I’ve missed you guys so much.” She stepped back as Buffy, Graham and Faith approached behind her with the luggage. “How is everyone doing?” This was asked quietly, as she had been fretting about what may be going on all the way from the airport. Faith and Graham weren’t exactly forth coming about why Daniel hadn’t been the one there.
Daniel frowned, glanced over at Jack, and then returned his gaze to the four standing in front of him. “Why don’t you all come inside before you get too cold? Tara’s waiting for you in the living room. We have quite a bit to talk to you guys about. Some of it will have to wait until the rest get here though.”
Buffy hung back as the group, except Daniel, headed inside. Slowly, she made her way up the steps. He moved to take the luggage she was carrying from her, but instead she sat it down before he could take it. While the two of them got along fine, he really didn’t know Buffy too well. Most of his experience dealing with her had been when they first met years ago. Because of this, it surprised him when she moved directly in front of him and wrapped her arms around him. He returned the hug as she quietly stated, “You may have been smiling at Dawn, but your eyes aren’t happy.”
“I’m just tired.” Daniel stepped away from the hug slightly.
“Daniel, I’m the Queen of hiding my emotions and taking the weight of everything onto my shoulders. I can tell when someone else is doing the exact same thing.”
Reaching down, Daniel grabbed Buffy’s luggage while she watched on with disapproval. “Let’s go inside. I’m sure Dawn is already going crazy wondering what is happening.”
“You’re probably right.” Buffy sighed and rolled her eyes. “She never has been a patient one.”
When Buffy and Daniel finally made it to the living room, they found Dawn sitting at the end of the couch with Tara’s feet resting on her lap. Buffy frowned as she looked over at the former Scooby. She had lost quite a bit of weight and she looked very pale. Her eyes narrowed in on Tara’s hand as she reached up to tuck some of her hair behind an ear. Her hand trembled with the movement. Buffy turned to ask Daniel what the hell was going on when she noticed him also staring at Tara’s hand with a worried expression on his face. “She wasn’t doing that a minute ago,” he whispered under his breath. The slayer wasn’t sure if he meant that for her ears, but then noticed his eyes dart to her and then to Faith’s across the room. He knew they both had heard.
Buffy glanced over at Faith and frowned even more as she noticed the concerned look on her sister slayer’s face. Faith met her gaze and slowly nodded towards Tara, her eyes showing more emotion than Buffy had ever seen in them. That alone was saying a lot, as Buffy remembered the hate and contempt Faith’s gaze used to hold for her. While those emotions were different than the worry she saw now, they had been very strong but nothing compared to what Buffy was seeing now. The fierce loyalty and hurt Buffy saw in them almost took her breath away. A hand fell on her shoulder, and Buffy turned back to Daniel who was gently pushing her towards Tara. “She’s been waiting to see you too,” he quietly stated.
Slowly, Buffy walked forward until she was right beside the couch. Buffy looked down at Tara who had finally realized she was in the room. Not able to help it, Buffy smiled and leaned down to hug Tara. She felt Tara’s arms wrap around her too. Her eyes started to water as she noticed how light her friend’s embrace was. When she backed away, Tara must have noticed. Tara reached over and grabbed Buffy’s hand. “I’m okay.”
Before Buffy could comment that she wasn’t for sure she believed that, Dawn spoke up instead. “No you’re not.”
“Dawn,” Buffy chided.
“She’s not okay, Buffy, and you can see it as well as I can.” Dawn then turned her attention back to Tara. “Giles told us about the Wraith. He said that you were getting better though. Why did you let us come over if you were still this bad off?”
“This isn’t just because of the Wraith, Dawn,” Daniel remarked.
“I’m five weeks pregnant,” Tara added before Dawn could continue on with the previous conversation.
“What?” Dawn shrieked.
Tara couldn’t tell if Dawn was happy or upset by this news. “I was getting better after the Wraith. Then, I started feeling bad. We found out today it had nothing to do with the Wraith but because I was pregnant.”
“The babies are throwing Tara’s system out of sorts. None of her levels are even close to normal, so they started a treatment on her today,” Daniel continued to explain.
“Excuse me,” Jack interrupted. “Babies?”
Tara nodded, her eyes started to tear up as she spoke, “Doctor Keller used a device on me that allowed us to…”
Buffy, seeing Tara was about to cry, knelt down and took her friend into her arms as Daniel finished for his wife, “It basically told us we were having twins.”
“But that’s not all.” This came from Faith, her voice taking on a serious edge.
“Daniel, I know the two of you wanted to wait until everyone else gets here, but we’re all very worried right now.” Jack stepped forward and added as he motioned to Tara, “THIS, this isn’t a normal reaction to finding out you’re having twins.”
Tara suddenly stiffened in Buffy’s arms. “Sick. Getting sick again,” she cried out as she pushed Buffy away from her. Buffy went to help as Tara darted up to stand, and thanks to lightning fast reflexes, caught Tara as she swayed and almost went down.
In just seconds Daniel was there, scooping Tara up into his arms and running towards the bathroom. “Jack, call the base. We need Dr. Lam.”
“On it,” Jack yelled back, already on his way to the phone.
Graham, who had been quiet so far, snuck from the room and followed Daniel to the bathroom. Tara was already down by the toilet, throwing up by the time he arrived. “What do you need?” he asked, knowing they probably wouldn’t even have heard him arrive. “Ginger ale, crackers… I’ll go pick up anything.”
While she didn’t feel like eating or drinking anything, Tara knew that both of those items would be nice. She had to get something in her stomach. “Both would be good,” she remarked between bouts of sickness.
Daniel went to reach into his pockets to pull out money. “No. I got it,” Graham remarked.
After Tara was sure she was done, she once again leaned into Daniel. He held her close against him and commented, “It isn’t too late to send everyone home. They would all understand.”
“No. It makes me feel better knowing they are all here.”
“We shouldn’t make them worry like this.”
“I know.” Tara moved to where she was still laying against him but able to look up into his face. “I just…I…I can’t say it over and over. Not now. It’s too fresh.”
“Then don’t,” a voice commented from the door. The two looked up to see Jack and Faith standing in the door way. Jack continued, “The doctor is on the way, but I have strict instructions that we are to take you up to your bedroom to rest. Daniel can handle telling us what is going on down here.”
“I want…” Tara started.
“No,” Jack interrupted. “I will carry you up there myself if I have to. Doctor’s orders.”
Tara let out a resigned sigh. “Fine.”
Daniel helped Tara stand and then picked her up as she started to sway again. Faith and Jack both headed towards the stairs and up to the bedroom as Daniel followed. When they entered, Faith moved to get the bed ready for Tara. As soon as the covers were pulled back, Daniel laid Tara down on the bed. Tara rolled onto her side, facing him as he covered her up. Faith moved over to the other side of the bed and then plopped down beside Tara. “I’ll watch over her, Dr. J. Don’t worry. If I need you, I’ll yell.”
With a nod, Daniel leaned down, gave Tara a quick kiss on the cheek and then followed Jack out the door. The two didn’t speak as they traveled down into the living room where Buffy and Dawn were both sitting on the couch. As soon as they stepped into the room, Buffy said, “We can get a hotel. It doesn’t seem like now is the best time for…”
Daniel shook his head and held out a hand to halt her. “No. Tara wants you both here. We’re just having a bit of a rough day, but things will hopefully get better.”
“Hopefully?” asked Dawn.
Daniel took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. At the same time, he crossed the room and sat down on the couch between them. Jack took an empty chair and looked to the side as Malita and Major Katrinka Burkhardt also entered the room. Apparently the Major had just arrived, as she still had her coat on. He guessed Malita and Katrinka had been in the kitchen dropping off the beer he had asked Kat to bring. Not saying a word, the two found empty seats as Daniel started to explain, “Dr. Lam thought Tara was having problems because of her Ancient background. She contacted Dr. Keller for help, who brought this Ancient device that acts like an ultra sound. The device showed us the embryos and also took readings on both Tara and the babies. It noted everything Tara needed to take in order to get her levels back to normal.”
“It said something else though, didn’t it?” Dawn asked.
“One of the babies hasn’t developed correctly. The neural tube didn’t close during the first month. While it is still too early to know for sure what the outcome will be, there is a chance that the baby will be born with Spina Bifida.”
“How high of a chance?”
Daniel looked over at Jack, who had asked the question. “I didn’t tell Tara, but I asked Dr. Keller this as she was leaving. Her answer was that if the device was right, and the neural tube really hadn’t closed, then the chance was pretty high. She would be surprised if the baby didn’t have some form of it. Dr. Lam is going to keep an eye on the baby and will let us know the status as Tara progresses through the pregnancy.”
“Spina Bifida? What does that mean for the baby?” This came from Buffy on Daniel’s right side.
Jack answered, seeing how much explaining this was taking away from Daniel. “There are people with Spina Bifida who don’t even know it. At the same time, there are others with Spina Bifida who are completely paralyzed. There can be clubbed feet, hip dysplasia, problems with control when it comes to going to the bathroom and even water on the brain. It all depends on the severity and site of the defect.”
Daniel added, “They say it will be a while before they can tell us how bad off the baby will be, and even then it is guess work.” He then glanced at Jack and asked, “How did you know all of that?”
“Sarah had several family members with Spina Bifida. Even though it is debatable on it running in families, she was worried about Charlie having it before he was born.”
“I didn’t know that.”
“Never talked about it.”
“But the baby may be okay in the end though, right?” asked Dawn.
“Yes, there is a chance that we are worried about nothing.” Daniel looked across the room at Malita. He knew by the look on her face that everything wasn’t going to be fine. At the same time, he also remembered she had said that his daughter would be perfect to them, no matter what life had dealt her.
Buffy reached out and patted his knee. “Whatever comes of this, I know one thing for sure. These babies are blessed having Tara and you as parents. You will love them no matter what, and they will grow up with some of the best parents a child could ask for.”
“I can agree with that,” Malita said quietly.