Date: October 10, 2003
Category: humour; smarm
Summary: Daniel and baby. Need I say more? Awwwww! :)
Archive: Gateview; Dan&Jan Archive; anywhere else, please ask permission
Feedback: Pretty please!
Disclaimer: Stargate does not belong to me.
Author's notes: This fic has been dancing around unfinished in my head for quite a while now, so I thought it was about time I wrote it out! Many little things banded together to inspire it - seeing my dad and my brother with my baby niece, various conversations in the Our Stargate chat room about babies and wedding rings, a weird idea for a story involving a scarecrow and a donkey, the sudden influx of Daniel/Janet stories which made me feel the need to write another one ASAP, and an impulsive desire to write something sugary sweet and fluffy as can be. :)
Oh, just in case anyone wonders... no, neither of the books Daniel reads in this fic are real. I made them up. And yes, me using the name "Margaret MacArthur" as the author of the book Daniel likes was a total Mary Sue. So sue me. ;)
*Many, many zillions of thanks to Seanchaidh for writing me the perfect children's story to use! (To read the full story, click on the link in its title when it comes up in the fic. I highly recommend that you do, because it's hilarious and this fic just doesn't do it justice!) Many thanks also to JoMadge for beta'ing and finding me the perfect pic of Daniel and baby (awww!). Thanks also to Suzie for giving me the oomph I needed to get it done (I miss you, Suzie!!), and to SaraC and OneofAradia for pumping me so full of Dan/Jan goodness lately that I'm fit to burst! This is my little contribution, meager though it may be. ;)
"In goes one foot..."
Dark brown eyes stared up at him intently as he slipped the tiny foot into one leg of the pink cotton sleeper.
"In goes two foot..."
The baby wriggled and giggled at the playful tone in his voice.
"Stop kicking," he growled through his grin, as the second foot refused to co-operate.
The baby responded by squirming all the more, waving her arms and peddling her legs as if she were trying to run towards him on the air.
"Stop kicking, or I'll kiss those toes," her daddy warned. "I will... I'll kiss those toes!"
When she still didn't settle down, he made good on his threat, grabbing the offending leg by the ankle and placing noisy kisses on the sole of the baby's foot.
The little girl shrieked with laughter, her kicking subsiding long enough for her daddy's well-trained hands to quickly slip the fabric over her foot and scoop her up into his arms.
"Daniel, are you two playing or getting ready for bed?" a voice called from another room nearby.
"Uh... a little of both," he replied, trying to catch one of the baby's flailing arms long enough to tuck it into its sleeve.
"Well, don't go getting her all hyped up," the voice cautioned. "Read her a story."
"Yes, dear," Daniel said with an affectionate roll of his eyes, finally capturing one of the arms and slipping it into place. It always struck him as amusing that, even though he was the one to put the baby to bed almost every night he was on Earth, Janet still seemed to think he didn't have a clue what he was doing.
He gently laid the baby back down on the change table, instinctively keeping his hand on the back of her neck even though she could support it on her own. "Mommy thinks you're getting too hyper," he whispered to her as he tucked her other arm into the final sleeve.
The baby stared up at him as though he'd just made the most fascinating revelation she'd ever heard.
"Are you getting too hyper?" he asked, zipping up the sleeper and fastening its poppers with expert speed.
She sighed deeply and waved her arms, letting out a stream of baby babble and drool.
Daniel smiled. "Yeah, I didn't think so, either," he said, lifting her up again.
Carrying her over to the nursery's bookcase, he scanned the large selection of books it held, holding the baby in such a way that she could do the same. "Which one do you want to read tonight, sweetie?" he asked. "You want to choose one?"
Before the baby could take her fist out of her mouth long enough to reply, Janet's voice drifted once again through the open door. "Try 'Gladys the Scarecrow.' It's new, and she seems to like it."
"Gladys the Scarecrow..." Daniel repeated doubtfully.
Daniel made a face at the empty doorway and grabbed the book from the top shelf. A quick glance at the front cover showed a rather absurd picture of a plump, scruffy-looking scarecrow wearing a woman's frock and apron. In big, red letters were the words, "Gladys the Scarecrow, by Sean Chaidh". He tilted the book for the baby to see. "You want to read this one?"
She let out another stream of baby talk and patted the book's cover with her chubby hands.
"Okay, then. Gladys it is."
Once he'd settled into the nearby rocking chair with his daughter resting comfortably in the crook of his left arm and a cozy afghan tucked around them, Daniel opened the book and began to read.
"Gladys was the scariest scarecrow ever." He paused and arched an eyebrow, glancing down at the little face that was gazing up at him in expectation. Clearing his throat, he continued, "Her big mouth grimaced. Her arms shook at the birds. Her body was so huge no bird dared eat her corn. 'Boo!' she yelled when a bird flew by."
The baby's face lit up at Daniel's "boo", and she wriggled with glee.
Daniel shrugged and turned the page. "She liked being the scariest scarecrow ever," he read, pausing to look at the picture of Gladys smiling smugly as a group of big, black crows flew away in comical fear. He glanced at the baby once again. "Are you sure you want me to read this one?" he asked.
She looked up at him and smiled her one-toothed smile.
"Cause it seems kinda silly to me."
The baby patted the book and gurgled contentedly.
Daniel sighed. "Okay," he said, and reluctantly continued. "One day, she saw a weird bird in her corn. This bird had no wings. It didn't tweet or chirp, and it certainly didn't sing. And it was EATING HER CORN!"
Daniel's eyes widened and he leaned closer to the baby as he relayed this last sentence, making her squirm and chuckle and grab for his glasses. He narrowly avoided having them snatched from the bridge of his nose by quickly lifting his chin. Her dimpled fists caught him in the mouth instead, but he simply laughed and kissed her fingers before returning to his narration.
"'You!' Gladys yelled. 'Boo!'
'You're not scary,' said the strange bird.
'Yes, I am!' Gladys replied. She huffed her chest. 'BOO!'"
Daniel was growing increasingly tired of the strange story by this point, and he paused again to flip it shut and take another look at the front cover. Sean Chaidh... it wasn't a name he'd ever seen on any of his daughter's other books. Maybe it had been a gift from Jack...
He shrugged slightly, shook his head, and continued.
"'I've seen better,' said the funny bird. 'This is good corn.'
'But I'm a scarecrow!' Gladys said. 'Why aren't you scared?'
Daniel stopped as the words in the next sentence sank in. "Because I'm a donkey?!" he read in a tone of utter disbelief. "No no no no no, you know what, sweetie? Daddy doesn't like this book." He snapped the book shut and flopped it onto the floor in disgust. "'Because I'm a donkey'... Come on, what kind of idiot writes this stuff?" he muttered under his breath, rolling his eyes as he reached under the chair for the book he knew was there. He always kept one tucked away there for himself to read on nights when he'd have to sit and keep up a gentle rocking motion for hours with a sleeping baby in his lap. "Now this book... this book Daddy likes," he said, showing the baby the front cover.
Her eyes were immediately drawn to the colourful inset photographs of various ancient Greek structures and artifacts, and a portrait of Helen of Troy. In bold letters across the top were printed the words, "The History of the Trojan War, by Margaret MacArthur".
"You like that?" Daniel said with a smile, making the baby smile in return and snuggle in closer against his chest. "Course you do," he said proudly as he flipped the book open. "You're Daddy's girl. You know what this story is about?"
His young audience simply stared up at him in captivation.
"This story is about... a horse. Yes. And... a princess named Helen. And... do you know who else is in this story? Cassandra. Yes, she is." He was reaching and he knew it, but he figured that at her age, it all came down to the tone of voice used, not the words that were spoken. He'd just make it sound as exciting as he could.
His idea was a hit for a minute or two, as Daniel was reading something he enjoyed and the baby was beginning to settle as she listened to the steady sound of his voice, but presently another voice spoke up from the doorway.
"Daniel, what are you doing?"
He turned his head to see Janet leaning against the doorframe with her arms folded and an amused expression on her face. "I'm reading to the baby," he said in a nonchalant, matter-of-fact way. He then leaned his face down close to the baby's and muttered conspiratorially, "What does she think I'm doing?"
The little girl giggled.
"Exactly," he agreed.
"From a history book?"
"She's enjoying it!" Daniel replied defensively. "Aren't you, Princess?"
The baby waved her arms in excitement at the change in his tone. "Da!"
"You see?" Daniel grinned. "She speaks Russian already. She's very intelligent."
"Uh huh." Janet was obviously not buying it.
"Besides, I don't wanna read Gladys the Scarecrow," Daniel whined. "It's pathetic, and... pointless. An insult to our child's obvious genius."
Janet laughed and shook her head, crossing the room to stand behind the rocking chair. "Okaaaaay, then whatever happened to Cinderella and Peter Rabbit?" she asked, leaning over the back of the chair and tilting it backwards until they were face-to-face... or at least eye-to-eye, as Janet was upside down.
"Janet, Janet, Janet..." Daniel said with a dramatic sigh, "those books are so... childish. Our daughter needs something more..."
"Intellectual?" she offered, her dark eyes sparkling with humour.
"She's 8 months old, Daniel."
"It's never too early to start."
"Uh huh. Daniel..." Janet leaned down, picked up the book he had discarded, and slapped it lightly against his chest. "Be a good boy now, hmm? Read her Gladys the Scarecrow." She placed a firm kiss on his lips and a somewhat condescending pat on his shoulder, and then stood up straight, letting the chair go suddenly in order to make it rock.
Daniel winced and groaned as he looked again at the ridiculous picture on the cover. "But it's so... so..."
"Juuuust read it," Janet called back over her shoulder as she left the room, in what Daniel would at one time have called her "don't mess with the Doc" voice.
"Yes, ma'am," Daniel said meekly. He looked at the book with a pained expression; then he shifted his eyes to the baby, who was watching him curiously. "Mothers," he muttered, rolling his eyes.
"I heard that!"
Daniel grinned, feeling a rush of love for the two beautiful females who now controlled his life. They went through a similar playful routine between them every day, and it never grew old. "Okay," he sighed as he flipped the book open again, "where did we leave this? Ah yes... 'Because I'm a donkey.' Certainly one of the most creative plot twists I have ever come across." Clearing his throat, he continued the tale, almost starting to enjoy the humour in the story as the stubborn donkey and the clueless scarecrow bantered back and forth over whether or not the donkey was, indeed, a bird, and Gladys fretted over how to remove the creature from her cornfield. "This really does have Jack written all over it," Daniel thought to himself as he read.
After a minute or two, however, his audience seemed more intent on chewing the edge of the afghan than on listening to her father's voice. "Don't eat the blanket, silly," he chided, pulling the material out of her mouth and tweaking her chin.
The baby gurgled and instead turned her attention to his wedding ring, picking at it with her fingers and attempting to pull his hand closer to her mouth so she could get a taste of the shiny object.
Daniel twiddled his fingers in front of her face, making her smile and try harder to grab them. Spying her pacifier on the nearby change table, Daniel reached over and grabbed it, making airplane noises before popping it into the girl's mouth.
She immediately started sucking on it contentedly, snuggling once more into his chest and taking hold of his t-shirt with her fist as her eyelids finally began to droop.
Daniel chuckled and continued reading, as the farmer came looking for the donkey. Gladys warned it, but the donkey refused to believe her until the farmer suddenly appeared and escorted it away, thanking Gladys for finding it and keeping it in the field until he came along.
Once he'd finished reading, Daniel shook his head in amused wonder that such a ridiculous book was ever published. One glance down at the face of his sleeping child, however, caused his expression to immediately soften. "Yeah, I guess it wasn't so bad after all," he said. "Still kind of pointless, though. From now on I think I'll be sticking to fairy tales and fables."
He slowly rose from the chair and carried the baby over to her crib, placing a gentle kiss on her dark brown hair. "Goodnight, sweet Princess," he whispered as he laid her down, standing there for a moment just to gaze at her and lovingly stroke her silky smooth cheek with his finger. "May your dreams be as beautiful as you are."
With that, he tucked her in as snug and warm as a daddy can, switched off the lamp, and headed for the door. He paused before leaving the room, however, standing in the darkness to listen to the baby's soft breathing. He had come to understand since becoming a father why such a tiny, fragile flower had been named "baby's breath." It was the most gentle, sweet, and delicate sound he had ever heard, and the main reason he had insisted early on that he take over the "chore" of putting the baby to bed every night he could.
Storytime may have come to an end that night, but there would be many more to enjoy in the future.
Daniel smiled and quietly left the nursery, feeling content and complete as he anticipated the joy the precious little bundle would bring to her loving parents once again in the morning.