Author's notes: Canadian spelling.
What is in a title...
The very first title he knew and owned was “son”. Son of his mother who loved him dearly. Son of his father who loved him just as well. The feelings this title gave him were many and rich. He felt pride to be theirs, joy in their praise, comfort in their support, safe in their love. He knew that they both truly loved him as parents should. Open and free when they could, firm and strict when needed. He'd always felt protected. Knowing he'd disappointed them always worse than their punishments when he broke a promise, knowing they were proud always better than any other praise.
He'd reveled in the title, when heard from their mouths. "This is my son," she'd say, "My boy," said he. When others would ask, he'd proudly say that "Yes," he was their son.
Boy. His father's boy. One of the boys. Boys will be boys. He was a boy. A boy called Daniel. In this place they called him Danel, Danyell, the pale boy, son of the professors, clever boy, mischievous boy, troublesome boy, beautiful boy.
Then there came a day when the other boys teased him to ease the sorrow of parting. He laughed along with them when they said he'd have to speak only English when his parents took him away to America. He laughed because his parents promised him that he could speak whatever language he wanted with them always. And they promised that even though it was true that in America, most people did speak only English, it was also true that every language on Earth was spoken by at least one person there somewhere.
Still, he'd practiced his English every day before they went because although he'd learned it at the same time as he'd learned Arabic and Dutch, he didn't use it as much. So it was that when it came time to say goodbye to the workers' boys and pretend his tears weren't dampening his nanny's shoulder as she wept into his hair, he was ready to be an American boy until his parents brought him back home.
Foreign. Not just how it all felt to him, but his new title. There were papers and meetings and a stamp next to his picture that said "foreign". His parents said the government checked everyone who wanted to move here to be sure they were a citizen. Daniel wanted to be sure he had that title. His parents both had it and he wanted it too. His mother said it meant that he was special that his title wasn't just citizen but "foreign-born citizen". They said that it wasn't just any American boy who could say he'd been born in a faraway land.
Son, he was son. And then he wasn't.
Orphan was a title. The title was a word he'd never heard until it was his title.
Ward. Ward was a title that went with orphan. Grandson was not.
Ward and orphan, titles he'd have for as many years as he'd been son. Other titles in those years were "the child", "the boy" neither of which were the same without "the". Foreign orphan, difficult orphan, smart orphan, weird orphan, too smart orphan, unplaceable orphan.
Foster son. A title that was not the same as son. Victim, number, removed from home. More labels than titles, but all stamped cleanly next to his name. The last family who called him foster had kept him in their hearts. Not son, but family.
Genius. The tests gave the label. The schools gave the title.
Emancipated minor. A title that cancelled ward. A title that meant freedom from one fear, but the birth of others. It offered new titles after it. Student, lover, colleague, man, friend, graduate, researcher...
Then Dr. Daniel Jackson, PhD. the title he'd wanted since he'd been son.
Doctor. Smart doctor. Genius doctor. Brilliant doctor. Innovative doctor. Unique doctor. Weird doctor. Freak.
Unique doctor. Needed doctor. Brilliant doctor. Geek.
Saviour. A title he'd never sought. Never expected.
Then husband. Also a title he'd not sought. Not expected. But the feelings the title gave him were many and rich. He felt pride to be hers, joy in her praise, comfort in her support, safe in her love. He knew she truly loved him as only a woman can love a man. The joy was like that which he hadn't felt since he'd been son. The love wasn't the same, the feelings so different, but also so alike as only pure kinds of love can be.
Passion. He'd heard the word before - had even heard it applied to him. Passion for his work, for his beliefs, for knowledge itself. But no study of the workings of language had prepared him for learning the truest meaning of the word. This title husband he wanted to keep like no other. As son he hadn't understood that it was a title he could lose. Now he knew better.
With husband came the title of good son. So very much better than foster son. And so very different, though not much less joyful than son. And brother. A title he learned just for one boy. A boy so very nearly a man. A boy who looked up to him as only a brother can, with love, admiration, loyalty and sometimes envy.
Father. A title that taught him how vast the difference between joy and desolation, and yet how closely they could be tied. Nine weeks wasn't enough time to know the title as he would have liked, but long enough to mark his heart where that title might have lived.
Foreign. The title more fitting for him in this cement underground place than when he'd been on another world.
Doctor, geek, friend, soldier, warrior, scientist, colleague... he'd taken any title needed to try to re-earn the title of husband.
Step-father. A title everyone around him was careful not to assign. But not saying it wasn't the same as it not being there. This title filed him with many feelings. Rage, at the true creators of the title - parasites without pity. Sorrow for the pain the acts that had created the title caused. Anger at the callous words of "friends" and "colleagues" when speaking of the boy. Pity for a boy who could never just be son. Even to the true owners of the bodies that had created him.
Step-son was a title he'd never had, could never have. Orphan made that so. But if it was in his power, he'd make sure that the title step-son wouldn't be like foster-son nor would it be like grandson. It would be as close to son as he could make it. Wishing was possible, even for impossible things.
Doctor, friend, soldier, warrior, scientist, colleague, step-father... waiting always hoping to be husband once again.
A title that obliterated husband, that obliterated hope. A title that shattered a soul, that destroyed a heart. That left this man wondering why to take breath.
"It's a terrible thing, to lose hope." A voice stole its way into his thoughts and he found himself looking up into the eyes of a man who spoke from experience. If there'd been pity there, he could have resisted - lashed out in anger, defended his thoughts. The compassion and empathy was more than he could resist. "Talk to me son," the voice asked quietly.
Son. Not like the son of his past. Not like foster-son. Not like grandson. There was a respect and caring in this title of "son" coming from the man who spoke it.
"Widower," he replied finally and the general nodded because he knew. He'd cleared the infirmary of everyone but the two of them. Two widowers, two men. Two, who were no longer husband. One who was lost in the new title. One who would help him find how to live with it.