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Fanfiction: Lifeguards

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S7 Lifeboat
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Daniel/Team friendship. Daniel/Sha're.  Suggestion of Daniel/Janet UST.  Sam/Jack UST.  Janet & Sam friendship.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Lifeguards

'Oh, for crying out loud! Just get on the damned stretcher already!'

Daniel Jackson levelled his best glare at Jack O'Neill but it was cut short by the blinding pain in Daniel's head. The bright sunlight of the alien planet wasn't helping either. His stomach churned uneasily and for a brief second Daniel thought about throwing up. OK, so maybe he had stumbled after getting out of the pod and, OK, fine; Teal'c had to haul him out of the downed spaceship right there at the end, but he could walk to the Stargate. He didn't need the stretcher.

Jack pointed at their Jaffa friend. 'It's that or Teal'c carries you.'

Daniel caught the amused look exchanged between Janet Fraiser and Samantha Carter. They stood beside Jack, presenting an unyielding military wall. He turned pleading eyes in the direction of his alien friend. Teal'c regarded Daniel with an even stare but more importantly the raised eyebrow. Daniel looked back at Jack who smirked at him knowingly because nobody argued with the eyebrow. Daniel gave of a huff of annoyance and slowly lowered himself to lie down on the waiting stretcher.

'I'm fine.' Daniel muttered, crossing his arms.

Jack rolled his eyes. He motioned at Teal'c and the Jaffa moved to the head of the stretcher as Jack moved to the front. Daniel sighed as they lifted the stretcher and began to carry him.

He closed his eyes because, damn it, the sunlight was bright, and he did have a headache. Not to mention the lurching movement was making him feel nauseous again.

'If you feel like vomiting, Daniel, just say and we'll stop.' Janet's tone was the perfect combination of soothing comfort and crisp reassurance.

'Did you have to mention vomiting, Doc?' Jack remarked a touch breathlessly.

Daniel felt a brief flicker of amusement at Jack being breathless, but since Jack was getting breathless carrying his stretcher, it occurred to him that maybe he ought to be more worried about Jack dropping him.

'If you feel like vomiting, Colonel, just say and we'll stop.' Janet answered back, smartly.

There was a breezy guffaw to the front which was cut dead quickly. Sam, Daniel surmised.

'Next time, Carter, you're carrying the stretcher.' Jack muttered.

'Yes, sir.'

Daniel could imagine the smile Sam bestowed on Jack as she'd uttered her usual reply. It was surprising how much Sam could convey with those two words. Like just then; she'd managed to somehow make 'yes, sir' into 'yeah, that's never going to happen' although the amusement in her voice made it teasing rather than sarcastic.

And Daniel knew Jack knew that's what she'd meant because he was close enough to hear Jack mutter, under what little breath Jack presumably had left, about smart-mouthed Majors with a coating of affection.

Sam and Jack being so...friendly was weird, Daniel decided, tuning out the voices around him as he ran over the progression of their relationship in his head and relished the return of his memory. They'd flirted in the early days; just enough that it wasn't too obvious professionally but enough privately that occasionally Daniel would want to tell them to get a room. And then, they had loved each other so fiercely for a time that it had sometimes hurt just to watch them.

He didn't know why they had stuck so resolutely to their duty and refused to change things but he knew he'd appreciated their reticence because SG1 had been his constant after Sha're's death. If Sam and Jack had declared their feelings openly, it would have been the end of SG1 - or at least, its then formation. In hindsight, he wondered whether he owed them a huge apology for not saying something; for not insisting that love, any kind of love, was worth the risk. Of course, then Jack had killed Sam and that had been that. Jack had taken a giant step back from all of them.

Maybe, in retrospect, Daniel thought seriously, Jack had been fumbling towards rebalancing things when Daniel had died - Ascended. Either way, in the year Daniel had been absent, he could see Sam and Jack had developed a real friendship beyond their working relationship, something without the angst of their previous romantic feelings; and they both seemed happier for it. If there were deeper emotions going on under the surface, Daniel couldn't tell. He suspected Sam still felt something more but she had perfected the art of deflection where Jack was concerned, and Jack was...well, Jack.

A sliver of unease trickled through Daniel's thoughts. His relationships with the others were almost back to normal except for when he realised the subtle differences in his team-mates that the past year had wrought. The not-knowing exactly what was going on with his friends only felt discordant because he'd always known before, Daniel tried to tell himself. But he had been away for a year and things had changed.

A year he couldn't remember.

He sighed.

'Nearly there, Daniel.' Sam's hand rested gently on his arm for a brief moment in reassurance.

'Thank God!' Jack muttered. 'Do you know how much you weigh?'

Daniel figured the question was directed at him rather than Sam. 'It's muscle.'

'You did come back from Ascension in good physical shape.' Janet concurred.

He agreed with her silently. He had come back with a great physique and he'd done his best to maintain it.

'Indeed,' murmured Teal'c admiringly.

'Well, this conversation isn't disturbing on several levels.' Jack commented with a huff.

There was a laugh and a snort beside him that Daniel attributed to Sam again.

At least his physique was one good thing to come out of his Ascension, Daniel mused, trying hard to find the positives as he did every time his mind strayed to his Ascension. Rescuing Bra'tac and Rya'c was another positive although he believed he owed that to whoever had sent him the visions that had prompted his own memory. He hadn't remembered anything else; a whole year of his life that was missing.

And yet, there was part of him that was grateful that he couldn't remember. Daniel was certain he really didn't want to remember himself not doing anything to help his friends and screwing up with Anubis. Jack had suggested that the reason he couldn't remember was down to his brain's inability to handle the Ancient knowledge and Daniel preferred to think Jack was right. It beat thinking it was a punishment.

He didn't remember much about the last mission either. What he did remember was finding the spaceship with the cryogenic chambers. He remembered, in a very vague way, the blinding flash of light. He couldn't remember anything else. He'd woken up in one of the chamber pods surrounded by his team and a relieved Janet Fraiser. Apparently, he'd been used by one of the ship's occupants to become a vessel for others to prevent them from being lost. Like a lifeboat. He probably should be more freaked out about that. Instead, he just had a gnawing sense of curiosity because he couldn't remember any of it.

Again.

Oh, yeah. He wasn't bitter about it.

'Thank God!' Jack's muttered words of gratitude yanked Daniel out of his thoughts. 'Dial her up, Carter.'

'Yes, sir.'

Daniel felt the back of a feminine hand against his cheek for a brief second.

'How are you feeling, Daniel?' Janet asked.

He could hear the Stargate chevrons locking; the expulsion of the wormhole in the background.

'I'm OK.' He managed. 'Just, you know, not planning to open my eyes any time soon.'

Janet cleared her throat. 'With your permission, Colonel, I'd like to go through and check that the medical preparations for Daniel's arrival have been made before you bring him through.'

'Sure. Have at it.'

Jack's terse reply was underscored by concern - for him, Daniel recognised.

They waited and just as Daniel was about to ask what the hold up was, a radio crackled.

'Colonel, you can bring him through now.' General Hammond ordered.

'Ready, Daniel?' Jack asked.

Daniel felt the stretcher wobble as Jack adjusted his grip. 'Ready. Let's do this before you drop me.'

'If you weren't on a stretcher...'

Electricity ran through the length of the stretcher.

'We are entering the Stargate, Daniel Jackson.' Teal'c confirmed.

Daniel gripped the side of the stretcher and hung on.

The trip was dizzying at the best of times but as they exited into the SGC, Daniel frantically opened his eyes to get his bearings. He winced at the brightness of the lights, the cacophony of sound and felt his stomach lurch wildly.

'Down!' he managed to get out.

Jack and Teal'c immediately lowered the stretcher to the ramp as Daniel turned hurriedly to the side.

Somehow, Janet was just there with a basin and he retched into it gratefully.

'Easy.' Janet placed her hand on his shoulder and rubbed soothingly. 'Slow breaths.'

Daniel lifted a hand to wipe his mouth but before he could, Janet handed him a tissue. He mopped himself up the best he could and sank back on the stretcher, closing his eyes again to block out the light. He wished he could do the same for the noise.

'Jones! Peters!' Janet ordered briskly to her waiting staff. 'Lift the stretcher straight onto the gurney. Take him straight to the infirmary. Sir?'

'Of course, Doctor.' Hammond replied reassuringly.

Daniel half thought about protesting but he figured he wasn't going to get anywhere in pleading his case that he could make it to the infirmary under his own steam given the whole throwing up incident.

The next hour was a blur. The rest of the team were separated from him when they got to the medical level. He protested against being helped to undress and redress in infirmary scrubs, but the nurses had evidently been given instructions by Janet and before he knew it, he was tucked up in an infirmary bed with an IV and some pain medication to deal with his headache.

Daniel sank back against the cool pillows. Maybe it wasn't so bad to just lie there and rest, Daniel mused. He really was quite tired and...

The tell-tale clip-clop of heels made him open his eyes again.

Janet gave an apologetic smile. 'Sorry.'

She had changed from the BDU and was dressed in her usual uniform of Air Force issue skirt and blouse under a white medical coat. He realised that she had eschewed her usual make-up, making do with a smear of lip gloss and some mascara. There was also a faint dampness in her pulled back hair that suggested haste.

He felt warmed at her evident concern that she had rushed through her ablutions to return to check on him quickly. 'Where are, uh...'

'SG1 are debriefing.' Janet strapped a blood-pressure cuff around his upper arm. 'I've told them they can come by when they're done but if you're resting not to disturb you.' She finished the check and made a notation on his chart. 'Any more nausea?'

'No.' Daniel confirmed.

'And the headache?' Janet lifted her pen and he followed it obediently as it tracked a path across his eye-line from left to right and back again.

'Getting better.' Daniel said. The drugs had started to kick-in. 'Actually I was hoping to, you know, go home?'

Home for the time being was Jack's. He'd crashed there a couple of days before while the sale of his own property went through.

Janet clicked the pen off and regarded him evenly. 'I want to keep you in the infirmary for the next twenty-four hours for observation. I'm certain the other personalities have been removed from your mind, but I'd like to ensure that there are no other side-effects from the removal beyond your headache.'

'Right.' Daniel dropped his head back against the pillow.

Janet shifted her weight as she plunged her hands into her pockets and he read her hesitation in her expressive dark eyes.

'What?' he asked briskly.

'Don't be surprised if your team hovers over you.' Janet said quietly.

Daniel raised his eyebrows. 'Hovers?'

'They almost lost you again, Daniel. It was a miracle your mind protected itself in the way that it did. I noticed both Teal'c and Colonel O'Neill opted to stay with you during what occurred.' Janet continued. 'They may continue to...'

'Hover.' Daniel completed. Great. They'd only just stopped hovering after his whole return from Ascension.

Janet smiled sympathetically. 'Don't be too hard on them.'

'I guess I'm used to it, right?' Daniel sighed heavily. 'Just like I'm used to not remembering anything of what happens to me.' He'd attempted a light-hearted tone but from Janet's sharp look he hadn't quite pulled it off.

'We don't know that your memory won't come back.' Janet said softly.

'My lifeboat experience or my Ascension?' Daniel didn't even try to hide the bitterness.

Janet was unperturbed. 'Both.' She tilted her head. 'But as you're aware, it isn't unusual for memory loss in these situations. Sam experienced similar memory loss after the incident with the computer entity. Colonel O'Neill didn't remember his experience with the Ancient knowledge.'

'Yeah, I know.' Daniel pressed his lips together as he crossed his arms over his chest. Jack had suggested something similar to him. 'Guess I'm stuck not knowing again.'

'If you really want to know what went on this time, there is video footage.' Janet said. She held up a hand as she anticipated his request to see it. 'Tomorrow, once I'm certain there are no lasting effects.'

'OK.' Daniel acquiesced.

'Get some sleep.' Janet patted his arm. 'I'll see you in the morning.'

Daniel watched her walk away and snuggled down again into the pillows. Sleep sounded good. He closed his eyes and let himself drift off.

o-O-o

Morgan Le Fey sat serenely by the lake that surrounded the Isle of Apples. It had been her home during her mortal years and even after many years of Ascension she still felt connected to it. Perhaps, she considered with some amusement, Daniel Jackson was not the only one who had issues releasing his burden. And perhaps, she mused, she was having trouble releasing him.

She shook the thought away and focused on her surroundings.

A cool breeze had created a mist over the silvery lake, reflecting wispy patterns across the water. The bench she sat on was hard and worn beneath her but it held so many memories of other times she had sat upon it. She inhaled the scent of apple blossom from the nearby orchards and the wet grass beneath her feet.

For a moment there was perfect peace.

The air beside her vibrated subtly.

A warning, Morgan wondered, or a request. Morgan sighed and adjusted her white dress, smoothing it out until it fell in pristine waves around her.

Oma Desala shimmered into being without a word. She sat beside Morgan, dressed in a similar fashion. Their white clothing glowed with their power.

Oma had been her sister once. Morgan could remember her as a vibrant child and a headstrong young woman. She had not changed with Ascension. Morgan mused whether it would have made a difference if Oma had been older when they had Ascended but there had been no time. The signs of the plague returning had alarmed the elders who could remember it; Ascension had been the only way to escape with Atlantis no longer an option.

'You have nothing to say, sister?' Oma asked.

Morgan's lips twitched. Oma had always been the most impatient of them. It explained why she helped others Ascend rather than waiting for them to achieve it themselves. 'Is there a particular subject you have in mind, sister?'

Oma frowned, her dark eyes flashing unhappily. 'You interfered.'

Morgan didn't deny the charge or pretend that she didn't know what Oma was referring to; she had interfered. She had stepped into protect Daniel Jackson's mind from being overwhelmed by the other personalities that had been downloaded into it.

'And not for the first time.' Oma pointed out.

Morgan didn't squirm but she tilted her dark head in acknowledgement. She had interfered before; sending Daniel the images of his friends on the planet they had designated Erebus. He had made the decision to return to his mortal form to save them and she knew he would never remember it on his own.

'I am not the only one interfering.' Morgan replied with amusement.

Oma flushed. 'The clone situation was different...' she began heatedly.

'Because of the loophole.' Morgan completed. 'Yes. I know.'

'If you continue to interfere you will draw the attention of the Others...' Oma began.

'To Daniel Jackson or to you?' Morgan enquired smoothly.

'Does it matter?' Oma demanded. Above them the blue skies turned stormy.

Morgan grimaced. Another reason why it might have been good to have waited until Oma was older before Ascension. She had never truly learned control of her temper. She sent her own power to disrupt the weather and dissipate the clouds.

'Why is he so important to you?' asked Oma.

'Why is he so important to you?' countered Morgan.

Their eyes met in a frank stare.

Oma was the first to flinch. She lowered her gaze. 'We have had this conversation before.'

'And yet here we are again.' Morgan said lightly. She got to her feet. 'I have already told you...'

'That you knew him in a previous life.' Oma repeated. There was a plaintive note to her voice that reminded Morgan of a young child.

'I can't tell you.' Morgan said firmly. 'It is forbidden to talk about my last mission.' Forbidden to talk about being sent after Merlin to prevent him from protecting them all from an old enemy.

Oma's eyes lit up with curiosity but she nodded reluctantly.

'And what of you?' Morgan asked pointedly. 'Have you worked out why he is so important to you?'

Oma pushed off the bench and paced a few steps towards the lake. She looked away over the water. 'He's my friend.'

'Yes,' Morgan said softly, 'I can see that.'

'And you?' Oma asked, throwing her a sharp look.

Morgan sighed. 'He was...is the voice of my conscience.' But she couldn't tell Oma that Daniel Jackson had once been Galahad, Arthur's Knight who she had followed to the Sangraal. Galahad, who had stood in the final battle with Merlin and begged Morgan to reconsider her mission of destroying Merlin and his work. Morgan sat down again on the bench and looked up into the endless vista of stars above them. 'He once reminded me that the only thing necessary for evil to win was for good to do nothing.'

Oma sat down beside her. 'Anubis plans another attack.' She murmured. 'I will have to watch him again, destroying life and hope.' She looked desolate.

She looked in need of a friend - or a sister.

Morgan tentatively reached out and placed a hand on Oma's shoulder briefly. She felt a pang of compassion. The punishment the Others had determined for Oma was harsh. She had protested - something Oma didn't know - but her voice had held little weight as their former bond had been known.

For a long while, the two sisters sat on the bench as they had done when they were young.

Morgan let her thoughts drift. Oma had never realised that the Others had intended that she should sacrifice her own existence to prevent Anubis from using the power that he had gained through Oma's own rash action in Ascending the Goa'uld. It had never occurred to Oma that when Daniel Jackson would have sacrificed his own existence to fight Anubis and that not only should she have stopped Daniel as she had done but that she should have taken his place.

Of course, Daniel was too self-sacrificing at times. Morgan had interfered because she had known if she hadn't protected and shielded Daniel from the intruders in his mind, he may well have chosen to have lived with their presence and that would have only led to insanity.

Daniel Jackson was needed. She believed that with her whole heart; her whole being. Galahad had been pivotal to her mission, and she believed he would be again. The vision Merlin had shared with her of her own end flitted through her mind; she would die in fire with Galahad and Nimue standing beside her just as they stood beside her as she had entombed Merlin into his crystal chamber...

Nimue.

Morgan felt the sharp tug of maternal regret over the daughter she had borne during her last mortal life. Nimue had been a wonderful mix of capriciousness mischief and a loving heart. She had betrayed Morgan to protect Merlin; stood beside him during their final confrontation when Galahad had begged Morgan to do the right thing. After Merlin had been dealt with, Nimue had gone with Galahad. Sometimes she wondered if her fun-loving Nimue had driven the much too serious Galahad crazy.

Daniel Jackson was the voice of her conscience but he was also the only link she had to the spirit of her daughter. He would find Nimue or Nimue would find him. Morgan was sure of it. Not that she would ever be able to reveal herself to Nimue.

Morgan smiled sadly. The truth was that her last mission had never ended; would never end until she stood beside her daughter and Daniel Jackson, and sacrificed her own life to save the lives of two galaxies. Strange, Morgan mused, that if Oma ever did sacrifice her life to stop Anubis, she would have a similar fate to her own.

She had never truly believed in fate before. Ascension had brought knowledge of space-time, of the infinite realities and possibilities the universe could create. Yet, she had known her fate for centuries. All paths led to the same destination for her.

Oma sighed. 'We both need to leave Daniel to his journey.'

'Agreed,' murmured Morgan. No more interfering. After all, if Merlin's vision were true than Daniel would find his own way to the battle she saw.

Oma dissolved into a glowing ball of energy and disappeared into the night sky. Morgan closed her eyes, centred her thoughts and breathed in the scent of apples.

o-O-o

Daniel pressed the stop button on the remote and the video footage disappeared leaving white snow in its wake. He sighed and leaned over to switch the TV off. He felt the urge to watch the footage for a fourth time and resisted on the absent thought that it probably wasn't going to change what he'd seen and it also could be construed as obsessive.

He'd watched the first time with a complete sense of horror; the second time because he knew he'd missed stuff the first time and the third time trying to be objective and view everything from the perspective of an observer - which he was in many ways.

His fingers tapped restlessly against the bench.

His first observation, Daniel thought bleakly, was what the hell made his life so much more important than the lives he had carried?

He sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He was pleased to be alive; he was. But watching the other lives he'd carried for a time, he felt a deep sense of what he guessed was survivor guilt. He couldn't say he liked Martice, the arrogant sovereign who had acted far too like a Goa'uld for Daniel's liking, but he knew he would have offered to share his body with Trylan or Keenin. His heart went out to the small child. Keenin had been downloaded from Daniel into his father though so perhaps it was for the best.

Daniel grimaced. Sam had told him that she had suggested trying to find a solution through Harlan; perhaps the consciousnesses could be downloaded into robotic duplicates. Apparently the survivors of the Stromos were thinking about it.

His second observation was less to do with his own situation and more to do with Jack.

More specifically, he couldn't help noting Jack's reaction after Pharrin comforted Keenin and promised his son they would be together. Jack had looked briefly devastated; he had turned from the others to hide his reaction so Daniel didn't believe anyone else had caught it, but it had been caught on camera. Daniel couldn't help but think that the situation had probably raised all kinds of memories and issues for Jack about his late son, Charlie. Not that Jack had said anything when he'd stopped by the infirmary to check in with Daniel before he'd left the night before, or probably would say anything. And it wasn't exactly something Daniel could just drop into conversation.

Damn.

Daniel took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes tiredly. His last observation was also not about himself but about Janet.

She had been...awe-inspiring. The way she had worked tirelessly to get the information they needed; the way she had comforted Keenin; the way she had faced off against Martice. But that was Janet; Mother Tigress to the hilt; all maternal warmth and comfort until her cubs were threatened.

He probably owed her a thank you.

Or flowers.

Both.

He glanced at the clock. He'd promised Cassie he'd call in one night and go over some history stuff with her; he could pick up some flowers on the way. He ejected the CD and set it aside, absently writing a post-it reminder to return it to security that he stuck on the front.

A knock on his office door startled him and Daniel belatedly remembered he had closed and locked it during his footage watching not wanting to be interrupted. He hurried over and opened it, blinking in surprise at the grinning man on the other side.

'Jonas!'

'Daniel.' Jonas greeted him cheerfully.

Daniel went to clasp his hand and stopped short at the sight of the heavily bandaged wrist and hand. 'Uh...' he pointed.

Jonas raised it with a rueful smile as Daniel motioned for him to follow him into the office. 'Someone shot at me.'

'And your hand is...?' Daniel frowned; Jonas looked too chirpy for just being shot.

'Sprained.' Jonas began to wave it expressively and stopped with a wince. 'Terra, uh, my bodyguard,' he blushed, 'pushed me to the floor and I kind of took down Kianna with me and...' he trailed off and smiled again, 'and you don't really need to know all that.'

'Who shot at you?' Daniel asked instead, sitting back down on the stool.

'Somebody who blames me for Anubis decimating the city.' Jonas admitted bluntly. He shrugged. 'They're not wrong.'

Daniel's eyebrows rose a little but he understood the guilt underneath the words. He'd felt pretty much the same when Apophis had attacked Earth, although luckily the Goa'uld had never made it far enough to inflict any damage. Maybe a change of subject was in order. 'You know I'd forgotten you were visiting today.'

'Yeah, Teal'c told me about your mission.' Jonas said. 'The history of the people from the ship sounded fascinating.'

Daniel nodded in agreement. 'So, how're the informal negotiations for the agreement going?' Earth was trying to work through a deal with the new Joint Ruling Council of Jonas's home planet to get access to the naquadria; it was ostensibly the reason for Jonas's visit.

'Slowly.' Jonas complained. 'But, we're still talking so that's good, right?' He sighed and gestured at Daniel. 'Actually, I stopped by to see if I could photocopy the journal I made on Pangara. You know we've managed to access the crystal that we found in that warehouse now but a lot of the language is in Ancient Goa'uld like the dialect we discovered in the temple there.'

'No problems.' Daniel stood up and went over to the bookshelves. He pulled the relevant journal from the shelf and handed it to Jonas. 'Why don't you just borrow it? You can give it back the next time you visit.'

'You sure?'

Daniel refrained from pointing out the journal was actually Jonas's property really. He nodded instead.

'Great.' Jonas hoisted it with his good hand. 'Hey, I'm going to grab some dinner with Teal'c in the mess if you want to join us?'

Daniel glanced at the clock. It was early for dinner - too early for Daniel - and as his gaze fell on the DVD with its sticky note he was reminded of his previous plans to head to Janet's. 'I have plans to help Cassie with some study. Maybe next time?'

'Sure.' Jonas grinned. 'See you next time.'

Daniel gave him a wave as Jonas left. He hurriedly tidied up his office, left a message for Jack that he would be late, and made his way to the locker room to change. He got caught by two other archaeologists on his way out for help on a translation; by Bill Lee who needed a quick review of some symbols they found on some artefact and by another scientist who wanted a consult.

His mind was preoccupied by the time he left the SGC and got in his car; so preoccupied that he was turning into Janet's street before he remembered he had planned to pick up flowers. He cursed under his breath and pulled to a halt outside her house. He drummed his fingertips on the steering wheel. He could go back for them but...

The door was already opening - Cassie stood waving madly in the doorway.

Daniel sighed and got out of the car. He could still say thank you, he determined. He made his way up the path and gave a huff as Cassie launched herself at him. He hugged her back.

'Hey.'

'Hey! Jonas called and said you were on your way here.' She grinned at him. 'Say you're here to help me with the history assignment, please?'

'I'm here to help you with the history assignment.' Daniel dutifully repeated as she dragged him into the hallway. 'And to see your Mom.' He took off his jacket and hung it on the hooks, toed off his shoes and padded in his socks after Cassie into the kitchen. The table was covered with Cassie's homework; an array of open textbooks and paper that reminded him nostalgically of his own school days.

'She's not here.' Cassie said, pulling coffee out of a cupboard and lining up mugs. 'She has a date.'

'A date?' Daniel almost fell into the kitchen chair. Janet was on a date? He frowned. She was an attractive woman - he had even found himself attracted enough that if he hadn't been married he might have thought about asking her on a date himself at some point, so why was he so surprised? Maybe because he hadn't expected it, he considered. He couldn't remember Janet dating.

'Yeah,' Cassie set the kettle on the stove and reached into another cupboard for a cookie jar. She brought it over to the table and slumped into her seat. She opened the jar and extracted a cookie which she shoved into her mouth before nudging the jar in Daniel's direction.

Daniel snagged one and made a small sound of appreciation as the chocolate and chewy dough melted on his tongue. 'So, date?' he waggled his eyebrows.

Cassie rolled her eyes and flicked her auburn hair back. 'With Tobias the doctor.'

'Tobias, huh.' Daniel looked at her carefully. 'You like him?'

Cassie lifted a shoulder. 'He's OK. He brought her flowers.' She pointed at the bunch arranged in a vase on the breakfast bar.

Daniel glanced at the impressive bouquet of pink and white roses as he finished his cookie. Perhaps it was just as well he hadn't brought flowers, he mused.

'Better than Paul.' Cassie gave a mock shudder. She leaned closer as though to confide something important. 'Accountant.'

Daniel responded with a look of mock outrage and she grinned back at him. She moved out of the chair as the kettle whistled and Daniel watched her with undisguised wonder at how much she had changed in the year he had been away. The teenager rebelling and testing her boundaries had gone leaving in her stead a young woman with a sassy confidence and poise beyond her years. The difference was jarring and Daniel looked away, reaching over to tug one of her books toward him.

Cassie set the coffee in front of Daniel and slid back into her seat. 'So what about you?' She asked coyly. She blew on her coffee.

'What about me what?' Daniel replied, half-engrossed by the inaccuracy of the text in front of him.

'Dating.' Cassie enunciated slowly. Her eyes twinkled at him. 'Are you?'

Daniel hurriedly took a sip of fortifying coffee. 'I don't think you're allowed to ask me that.' He grumbled half-seriously.

'Please.' Cassie said dryly. 'Like that's going to stop me.'

'Good point.' Daniel shifted in his seat - he refused to consider that he was squirming.

'So?' prompted Cassie. 'Are you?'

'No,' Daniel said softly, 'I'm not dating.'

'Why not?' Cassie asked guilelessly, wrapping her hands around her brightly coloured mug.

Daniel took another gulp of his drink, barely noticing that the hot liquid scalded the roof of his mouth. 'Recently deceased?' he quipped. 'Just got my memory back?' He attempted a smile.

Cassie looked at him sharply. It was the exact look Janet gave him when he was pretending to feel better than he did; the one that told him that she knew he was pretending and wasn't prepared to accept his answer.

He sighed and gave her the honest answer. 'I don't think it's fair to date someone else when I'm still grieving for Sha're.' There were days he wondered whether he would ever stop grieving for her. In some ways, he thought he had only truly started grieving for her since he'd gotten his memory back; that the years since her death including his Ascension had been just been lived in a fog.

Cassie's young face softened with compassionate understanding. 'I guess.' She smiled at him. 'I really wish I could have known her.'

'Me too.' Daniel said. 'I mean, I wish you could have known her too.'

She nudged the cookie jar over to him and he took another one, biting into it with satisfaction. He searched for something else to talk about with a hint of desperation.

'So when did your Mom start dating?' He blurted out.

Cassie arched a single eyebrow.

'It's just...' Daniel gestured with his cookie, sending a sprinkle of cookie dust over her textbook, 'I don't remember her dating, you know, before I, uh...'

'Died?' Cassie supplied helpfully.

'That.' Daniel mumbled stuffing the rest of the cookie in his mouth.

'I guess it was a few months after you died.' Cassie admitted, sitting back with a thoughtful expression on her face. She pulled her feet up to the seat of the chair and hugged her knees to her chest. 'I think it gave her a wake up call, you know, about life. I know she dragged Sam out for a couple of girls' night out things and started to meet some guys so...'

Daniel nodded slowly. 'And, uh, how do you feel about it?'

Cassie's mouth pulled to the left momentarily. 'I don't mind.'

It was Daniel's turn to spear her with a knowing look.

'OK, so I might mind...' she held up her forefinger and thumb separated by an inch. 'But, I know she won't ever bring back someone horrible and,' she sighed and motioned at her books, 'I'm going to college soon.'

'Ah.' Daniel murmured.

'I know she'll have you guys and her other friends but...' she lifted her eyes to meet Daniel's, 'she deserves to be with someone who loves her, you know.'

'Yeah, I think I do.' Daniel said approvingly.

Cassie flushed a little. 'And talking of college...' she pulled her notebook out from under the rest of the books.

Daniel gave a rueful smile and turned his attention to the study he was supposed to be helping her with.

An hour later, he arrived at Jack's. Jack was sprawled on the sofa and barely looked up from the TV as Daniel meandered his way to the easy chair by the fireplace.

'You OK?' Jack asked.

Daniel nodded, realised that Jack wouldn't see him and sighed. 'Yeah.'

Jack glanced at him briefly as though assessing the validity of his reply. He pointed at a pizza box on the coffee table. 'I left you some.'

'Cassie gave me cookies.' Daniel rubbed his stomach. 'I might have eaten too many of them.'

Jack picked up a bottle of beer and took a long swallow.

Daniel tried to focus on what was on the screen. It was an old black and white movie; a Hitchcock. Jack liked them.

'I watched the footage of me being not me.' Daniel said eventually.

Even from across the room, Daniel could see the way Jack tensed.

'And?' Jack prompted.

'I, uh, just wanted to thank you,' Daniel said, 'for, uh, staying with me.'

Jack tilted his head in a silent acknowledgement and took another sip of his beer.

'Hey, did you know Janet was dating?' Daniel asked suddenly.

Jack shook his head, bemused. 'Anyone we know?'

'Cassie said he was a doctor called Tobias.'

'A Tobias huh.' Jack winced dramatically. 'I wouldn't have thought a Tobias was the Doc's type.'

'What type did you think she'd go for?'

Jack lowered his beer and raised an eyebrow. 'OK. Clearly you've spent too much time with Cassie this evening.'

Daniel threw a cushion at him. 'I'm not gossiping. I'm just...' What was he? He searched for a term to convey the faint unease churning through him. 'Concerned.' He pointed at Jack. 'And so are you.'

Jack grimaced but he took another sip of his beer.

Daniel rested his head on the chair. 'It just...took me by surprise. I mean, I know you guys had lives while I was away but...you know.'

Jack shot him an exasperated fond look before his attention went back to the movie. He tipped his beer bottle back for a long sip.

Daniel frowned at Jack. 'Are you dating?'

Jack choked. He sat up hurriedly, coughing and patting ineffectually at the droplets of beer that he had spluttered all over his t-shirt. He glared at Daniel.

Daniel held back his grin without success and waved at him. 'I take it that's a no?'

Jack didn't bother replying. He swiped at his t-shirt again before settling back and looking pointedly at the television. He picked up his beer and took another swallow.

'What about Sam?' Daniel asked idly.

Jack choked again, and the look Jack gave him could have melted paint, Daniel considered.

'I mean,' Daniel hurried out, 'is Sam dating anyone?'

'I don't know.' Jack snapped. 'And before you ask: I have no idea if Teal'c has a honey stowed away at the Alpha site.'

He'd heard the warning note in Jack's voice enough times to pay attention to it. Daniel sighed. The movie continued; its quiet murmur breaking the silence.

'Jack.'

'Daniel.'

'Honey?' Daniel asked archly.

Jack threw a cushion at him.

o-O-o

Janet shut the car door hurriedly and huddled into the passenger seat. Her date outfit included a gold and bronze scarf that acted as a stole but it wasn't enough to ward off the night air she'd been forced to stand in while she waited for Sam to arrive. She was grateful when Sam reached over to the controls and cranked up the heat. 'Thanks for the ride.'

'What happened to your hunky doctor?' Sam asked teasingly as she checked the traffic was clear and pulled away from the sidewalk.

'He got called in for an emergency. I knew I should never have agreed to being picked up.' Janet admitted with a huff of laughter. She tucked the scarf around her better; covering up her naked cleavage. The slit on her skirt gaped revealing one toned leg in black nylon and Janet adjusted it to cover herself fully. The heat was pouring out of the vent and Janet felt her skin begin to thaw a little.

'You look great.' Sam commented.

'We were supposed to go dancing after dinner.' Janet sighed. 'Although, honestly? I think I'm relieved to be going home.'

'I thought everything was going well.' Sam's attention was on the road ahead.

'It was.' Janet winced as she realised which tense she'd used. Things were definitely over it seemed then for her and Tobias.

'What happened?' Sam asked again, concern sharpening her tone.

'Nothing,' admitted Janet dryly, 'but you know this was supposed to be the date where he got to see my new underwear.'

'Oh.'

Janet glanced over and almost laughed at the hint of pink colouring Sam's cheeks. Sam wasn't a prude but occasionally her Catholic upbringing would raise its head when the topic of sex came up. Janet almost snorted at the unintentional pun.

'And you're relieved not to be having sex?' Sam asked teasingly, her sense of humour reasserting itself, as she stopped the car at a red light.

Janet nodded ruefully. 'I guess that tells me everything, huh?'

'It's a pretty big clue.' Sam agreed.

'And it was going so well.' Janet quipped. It really had been. Despite the rescheduling of their five dates on several occasions, Tobias was intelligent, well-read, funny, and attractive; all the check boxes on Janet's list ticked and then some. But apparently he wasn't what she wanted. Maybe she should throw the list away.

'Who needs a man anyway?' Janet shifted in her seat to look at Sam. 'We should have a girls' night out next week; just you, me and cocktails.' She bit her lip to prevent the smile emerging when she saw Sam unsuccessfully try to hide a wince. 'Oh, come on. When was the last time you went out for a night to have some fun?'

'I've been out.' Sam protested.

'And without your team?' Janet clarified.

Sam sighed and glanced over at her. 'Daniel just got back.'

It was as much of an excuse as it was an explanation, Janet mused with exasperation. She had her suspicions why Sam avoided dating, or rather one Colonel sized suspicion when it came down to it, but she wouldn't broach the subject with Sam. Sam's love life - or lack of love life - was her own business and she'd never been one to subscribe to the theory that a woman needed a man to complete her or make her happy.

'You guys are all OK now though, right?' Janet wheedled. 'So you could spare a night for me?'

Sam sighed and shot her a look which Janet translated as part amusement and part frustration. 'You're just going to keep bugging me about it until I give in aren't you?'

'Yep.' Janet agreed cheerfully.

'Fine.' Sam agreed. 'Next week if I'm around.'

That was one way of putting it, Janet mused; Earthside would have been more accurate.

They pulled up in front of her house and Janet unhooked her seatbelt. 'You want to come in and grab a drink? Cassie would probably love to see you.'

Sam shook her head. 'I have to get back to the lab; McKay scheduled a call to talk about the repairs.'

On the Prometheus, Janet surmised. She nodded briskly. 'Thanks for coming to my rescue.' She hurried out of the vehicle, gave Sam a quick wave and made her way inside the house quickly.

She gave a sigh of relief as the warmth surrounded her and chased off the last of her chill.

'Mom?' Cassie poked her head out of the den. 'Hey! I wasn't expecting you back till late.'

'Tobias had to head into an emergency surgery.' Janet explained. She slipped out of the heels she'd worn and padded in her nylons across the wooden floor to hug her daughter. She caught the flickering movie on the screen beyond. 'What are you watching?'

'Some old Hitchcock thing.' Cassie grinned. 'Want to watch?'

'Sounds good to me.' Janet said. 'Why don't I rustle up some hot chocolate?' She needed warming and she didn't want to get her bourbon out with Cassie in the room.

Cassie pushed her gently towards the sofa. 'I'll get them.'

Janet allowed herself to be pushed and sank gratefully into the comfortable cushions. She pulled down the woollen throw and covered herself with it. She recognised the movie and allowed it to flow over her.

She wondered briefly why things had soured for her with Tobias. Maybe rescheduling the date where she'd hoped to take things further four times, and the abortive end of that same date had just made her realise that two doctors together was going to be too much of a logistical nightmare. She refused to consider that it was because she'd just spent the better part of two days focused on restoring Daniel back to full health. There was an inner glow of satisfaction that she had done it. Daniel was no longer carrying around a host of other people and he was back to his old self. Her job was done.

And no Fraiser woman had ever pined for a man and Janet was not going to be the one who started. She had made a concerted effort after his death to get over her inappropriate attraction for her friend - and patient, Janet mentally added, and since his return had focused on renewing their friendship.

'Here.' Cassie handed her a mug and sat down beside her.

Janet tossed half the throw over her daughter and let her settle in beside her. 'No cookies?' She asked idly after the hot chocolate was almost all gone.

'Uh, Daniel and I may have eaten them all.' Cassie mumbled, avoiding her gaze.

'Daniel?' Janet frowned and set aside her mug. She had left the SGC early to prepare for her date but she was sure she had told Daniel to take it easy when she had released him from the infirmary; to go straight home and have a restful evening.

'Yeah, he came and helped me with that essay?' Cassie darted a look at her. 'I might have told him about Tobias.'

Janet raised an eyebrow. 'Really.'

'He didn't know you were dating.' Cassie regarded her thoughtfully. 'You didn't tell him?'

'Hasn't come up.' Janet deflected easily. And it hadn't. She and Daniel had talked about quite a few things since he'd come back from Ascension but her love life wasn't one of them.

'It's so romantic and tragic.' Cassie pondered out loud.

'Me and Tobias?' Janet gave into the urge to reach out and stroke a strand of Cassie's hair back behind an ear. Every so often it occurred to her that when Cassie left for college she would have fewer moments like the one she had right then.

'No; Daniel. How he's still so much in love with his wife. He told me he wasn't interested in dating anyone else because it wouldn't be fair to them.'

Janet froze for a moment. 'He told you that?'

'Yeah, well,' Cassie's face screwed up with a flush of guilt, 'I was kind of teasing him about dating.' She shifted suddenly, cuddling into Janet's side.

Janet moved to hug her, resting her chin on Cassie's head.

'He said he was still grieving for her,' Cassie murmured, 'that maybe he had only really started grieving when he came back. Do you think...'

'Do I think what?' Janet prompted. She had known that Daniel was still in love with Sha're but hearing that he'd admitted it to Cassie made it real in a way that it hadn't been before somehow.

'It's just...I've been thinking about Hanka.' Cassie admitted, her fingers playing with a loose thread on the throw.

Janet felt her breath catch in her throat at the mention of Cassie's home planet. 'You have?' She guessed it was only natural. Cassie was about to leave home; the last home she'd left, she'd had to leave after the destruction of her entire whole world.

'Yeah.' Cassie inched closer. 'I just miss them sometimes.'

Janet kissed the top of her head. 'I know.'

'And I remember, in the first few months, there were days when I didn't want to be here...'

The quiet confession tugged at Janet's heart and made her hug Cassie closer.

'...and I just wondered...' Cassie continued tentatively

'If Daniel's Ascension was a delayed response to losing Sha're?' Janet supplied, her agile mind working out where her daughter was going with her comments.

'Maybe.' Cassie murmured.

It wasn't a bad theory, Janet considered. A memory flickered through her head of Daniel's report from the mission where he had lost Sha're; of the message Daniel believed his wife had sent him through the hand device. In the dream Sha're had constructed, Daniel had left the SGC after her death, struggling to find a purpose, only to return eventually. Janet wondered at how well Sha're had known Daniel; known he would run from the Stargate in the wake of her death; how Sha're, even possessed by a Goa'uld, had tried to save Daniel by giving him the son she had borne with her last act. It was really no wonder that Daniel was still in love with her. Sha're had known Daniel's behaviour would be simply in speculation of her death what the rest of them had missed in the reality of it.

'It's good to have him back.' Cassie said quietly.

Janet smoothed Cassie's hair. It was good to have Daniel back; both from Ascension and from the latest incident. She hadn't told Cassie how close they had come to losing him again; she didn't need to know. 'Yes. It is.'

Cassie shuffled up to meet her gaze. 'So you and Tobias...?' There was a hint of mischief; of teasing in her tone.

Janet sent her a chiding glance but shrugged. 'I think we may be better as friends.'

'I'm sorry.' Cassie said sincerely.

'I'm not.' Janet replied honestly. She waited until Cassie resettled against her. 'Sometimes, it's just not meant to be.' There would be someone and if there wasn't; well, Janet was OK with that too. She had Cassie, good friends and a family that was distant but who would support her if she ever needed them.

Cassie squeezed her slightly. 'You're too good for him anyway, Mom.'

Janet snuggled closer to her daughter, revelling in the moment. She knew they would be fewer in the future months as Cassie graduated and went off to study. Cassie was looking at courses in New York, Washington, Nevada...anywhere it seemed but Colorado. And Janet was going to have to let her go; let her leave the nest and take another step on the path to being an independent young woman.

A pang of maternal love; of hope for everything Cassie could be; of fear of everything that could happen to her filled her to the brim and had tears stinging her eyes. Janet blinked them back furiously and focused on the soft weight of her daughter cuddled into her side. She would simply enjoy Cassie while she could, Janet determined.

And as Cassie watched the rest of the movie, Janet indulged herself and watched her daughter.

fin.
 

 


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