Title: Five Gold Rings
Author: Shatterpath
Feedback address: shatterpath@shatterstorm.net
Date in Calendar: 18 December 2007
Fandom: Stargate SG1 / LWM
Pairing: Sam/Janet/Art, Karen/Darya
Rating: PG13
Word Count: 2060
Summary: On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five gold rings.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW07

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

All original characters are the property of ShatterStorm Productions.

Note: The warmest thanks to Ariestess for providing the idea for this story!

Beta: mrswoman

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, five gold rings.

++ Art ++


Each Christmas since coming to this stark mountain town has felt very different. That very first one, Sam new to mine and Janet's love, playing out that naughty game of 'daddy and his boy.' Something of the memories must show on my face because Karen's emerald eyes flicker away from her book to regard me quizzically.

She only looks understanding and mildly amused at my silent embarrassment. Maybe my girls and I will have to do something like that again someday...

We're watching over the gaggle of babies, who are uncharacteristically all sleeping at exactly the same time. Four basinets scatter across floor and couch, Jesse heavy in my lap and Elana in Karen's. Sam is on the floor with Emily and the elder twins, playing Candy Land near the warmth of the big fireplace. Just like last Christmas season, my Amy Grant holiday albums play quietly from the stereo, soothing Fawn's high-strung personality. No one discourages her from adding her sweet little voice to the singer's dulcet tones when she feels the need. Particularly when the Christmas albums are playing. Over the last year, we've all encouraged her astonishing skill, even if it means that we're deathly sick of Amy Grant....

The scene is as sweet and homey as can be. Big tree, glittering with lights and ornaments, some gifts already hiding beneath its protective branches, decorations everywhere, and the entire scene bathed in firelight and a few lamps. Outside, it's snowing gently, we've been well fed, I'm still happy with my night of bonding with my women from the night before, and none of us has to be anywhere tomorrow.

Yesterday had been the forth anniversary of my close brush with death. So soon after Cooper's passing away, Sam and Janet had made an extra-special effort to seduce me completely, while Darya and Karen took all of the kids. Stubborn libido or no, my women drove me insane until I finally needed sleep to recover. Even now, nearly twenty-four hours later, I still feel a bit shaken.

Some might question the ordinariness of my life with my so very unusual family. Like a Norman Rockwell painting with a twist, we go about our old-fashioned suburbanite lives with relish. The fact that we're five women with eight children who all have unusual origins is entirely beside the point. With a clatter of shoes and paws, Lucky and Cassie burst from the stairwell.

"The little beasts are fed and in their pen," the eldest of the children, no longer a child, announces with relish. She's seventeen and a half now and graduated from high school with grades that made all of us proud. Lucky comes to me for affection, her emptied teats flapping ridiculously as she moves. The puppies entered the world on Halloween, perversely enough, the final legacy of their father. Thankfully, with all of the human pups underfoot as well, Cassie still maintains a gift with animals and has taken the mantle of primary caretaker of the pups with ease.

"Excellent," I compliment the teen. "I think your mom still has some of that shortcake you were waiting on."

"Cool. When is Darya due back in?"

Right on cue, headlights flash in the driveway, in perfect sync with Janet's abruptly raised voice from the kitchen.

++ Sam ++

"God dammit!" Janet's voice shatters the peace and I look over to meet Art and Karen's startled gazes. "No!"

She's upset and I'm on my feet even as Art twists to scoop Jesse into his bassinet. "Stay here," I tell the twins and Emily and run for the kitchen. Fear recedes as I see Janet, unharmed, elbow deep in suds, obviously frantically searching for something.

"My rings fell off!"

Ah, now the stress makes sense. Reaching Janet, I pull her away from the sink to hug her for a long moment. "Hey, relax. We'll help. Shhh..." Tearfully, Janet clings to me, sniffling against my upper chest.

"I've dropped weight so fast I didn't realize they were so loose," she mourns as Art joins the hug from behind for a moment.

"Give me and Karen a minute to get a bucket to muck this sink out and we'll see what we can find, okay ahgahpee mou?"

Mollified at Art's soft words and my touch, Janet relaxes, but stays in my arms. Quickly explaining to a startled Darya, just home from work, Karen follows Art to the garage. It doesn't take long to extract most of the soapy water and the few remaining dishes, Karen braving the cold night to haul out the water into the frozen gutter at the street. Unfortunately, there are no rings and the tools come out to quickly take apart the plumbing. Murmuring back and forth like concerned and competent husbands, Karen makes short work while Art holds the flashlight and assists.

"Here's the most important one," Karen chuckles, pleased with herself, and holds out the soiled, silvery band.

"Oh god, Karen, thank you," Janet sobs and goes to Art, who is scrubbing the small item on the edge of her shirt. Sweetly, Art takes her hand and I feel my heartstrings tremble as she slides it back onto the lonely finger, followed by a long, slow kiss.

++ Janet ++

Trembling with stress, I cling to Art, reaching back to grope in Sam's general direction until she too, is pressed to my small frame. Feeling the slide of the pair of rings that are so much a part of me was far more traumatic than I would have imagined.

As though they understand what I'm thinking, both of their left hands come to rest over mine, fingers and palms intertwined. My love of this image has never waned, our different shades and textures of skin and shape, the glitter of the simple jewelry that is the physical manifestation of our bond. Art and I match, plain bands of white gold that hide the inscriptions within. Sam's, we had made for her, thick wire bands woven together, the gold colored rose, yellow and blue.

"I was so scared that I'd lost them," I whisper, still choked up by the emotional shock, stroking a fingertip over the three rings. Then I look down at Karen, who is still shaking out the curved pipe from beneath the sink.

"Sorry Janet," she says mournfully. "I think the engagement is gone."

There is a long moment of empathy between us as we remember the history of the now vanished ring. The day I discovered I was pregnant with the twins, the shock still sharp to this day, nearly three years later. Art talking to President Bartlet, coming to me in the Infirmary where I huddled, terrified and bereft, the sheaf of fax papers in her hand, kissing me so deeply, so intimately, shocking our coworkers and friends. The scrolled gold ring that Karen had given her, too large for my smaller hand, placed carefully on my larger middle finger. Getting it sized to me, wondering if it would ever feel right on my body, getting used to the press of it in combination with the smaller, heavier band picked out with Art at my side.

The silvery wedding band looks different without the gold engagement ring.

"I'm sorry Karen," I manage to say and the green eyes are deeply sympathetic.

"It's okay. Like I said, the important one was obviously heavy enough to fight the flow of water in the pipe. That other ring was just one more thing about my past that someone else made good. Don't worry about it; you've got the important one."

And, despite the loss, I know that she's right.

++ Darya ++

I have enough information to assuage my curiosity over what happened right before I walked in, and I make myself useful in helping with the startled babies. They whine and fuss, but quiet at my attentions. Elana is the most upset so I settle her in my lap, kicking off my shoes to toe over the twins and tickle at them with my feet, while I pat Cory's tummy and he babbles importantly.

I get a glimpse of Sam half-pushing Janet upstairs, even as Art approaches me. The dark blue eyes are stressed and she roughly runs her hands through the wild curls. Before she can speak, I lift an imperious hand from Elana's back.

"Go," I tell my roomie and unexpected friend. "You can make it up to me later."

The moment of empathy between us is a unique sensation I only seem to share with this woman, who kisses the older twins and Emily good night, murmuring softly to them. The triad needs to regroup after their psychological scare and there are no plans on my plate that cannot be pushed back.

Though when Karen steps out of the kitchen, stripped down to her white sports bra, drying her hands, I wish that I could be wrong!

"What happened?" Cubby asks quietly, his voice so impossibly tender and concerned. For a moment, Karen pauses, gathering her thoughts and I listen to my gut and remain silent. The boy asked her and I must not assume that I can answer any better than Karen can.

"Your mama dropped her wedding ring down the drain by accident," Karen begins, walking over to give me a quick, heartfelt kiss and a loaded look that speaks volumes. Then she sits next to the baby twins and gestures the older children over. "You see, a ring is a promise."

"Like a pinky swear?" Fawn asks, plopping down into Karen's lap and I have to smile.

"Yep, but much more serious. See," up comes Karen's hand, her plain silver wedding band glinting in the dim light. "A wedding ring means forever. When you marry somebody, it's supposed to be until you die. Doesn't matter if you fight, or have to move far away, or get sick, or anything. It means forever."

Touching the silver claddagh ring on my own finger, I am lost in the memories and the warmth of Karen's unflagging devotion, the lump in my throat tight.

++ Karen ++

It doesn't surprise me when I feel Darya touch my head, the caress fleeting and heartfelt. Right now, my focus is on the children and reassuring them that their mama/nana is okay. "See, the ring only means what the person wearing it wants it to mean."

Dammit, now I've lost the twins, though Emily nods in understanding. "Like when the teacher makes you do the math problems on paper, even if you know the answer."

"Yeah, that works. Thank you, Emily. The ring is a reminder of your promise to always love and be faithful." Now I turn my attention to the Goldston twins, their dark eyes curious. "When your Mama and Bahbas were married, they promised to love each other forever and ever. Then, when they knew they loved Dea too, they gave her a ring too."

"Like Emily's ring," Fawn pipes up, digesting all the new information.

"Exactly," I smile, pleased at her astuteness. There are many times I feel as though I can't handle these deeper moments with the older children, that I will come up short when they need me for something really serious like this. "When Mommy and I got married, Emily was already your age."

"Because Mimi died," Cubby adds and both Emily and I nod.

"Yes. So, we wanted Emily to have a big-girl part in the wedding and everything that it means."

Comprehension dawns in Fawn's eyes. "And you gave her a ring 'cause it means forever."

My sappy smile is their reward and they jump all over me with delighted hugs, calling in chorus, "thank you, Kryn!"

"You are very welcome. Now, you three head upstairs while Mommy and me get the babies settled in. we'll be up in a little while, okay?"

Obediently, they do as I ask and only then can I take the time to look back at the love of my life, seated just behind me. Time enough has passed between us that sometimes words are not necessary. In her lovely gray-green eyes I see only approval and adoration. So I take that left hand, tugging until I can press a kiss to the ring I placed there on our wedding day.

"I promise."

And that is enough.