?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Fanfiction: The Letters Trilogy - Part III

For disclaimer and author's note see Part I.

 

Part III: Read by Heart

Dear Sam,

Of all the letters I've written I think yours is both the easiest and the hardest. You're my best friend and I love you. I have valued your friendship every day and don't ever doubt that.

The hard part, of course, is Cassie. You and I both know that the only reason why I got the chance to be her mother is because you weren't ready for the job…well, you're going to have to be ready now because – congratulations; it's a girl.

My Mom will be there if you need advice. She considers Cassie a Fraiser and I'd be grateful if you make sure Cassie stays in touch with her.

But you're going to be great, Sam. You were great from the moment you saved her. She's going to be hurting and angry and she's going to need you in her bunker. I know you'll stay and won't let go of her because you've always been there for her.

I envy you. I envy you every moment you'll get to see that I won't. Her college graduation. Her wedding. Her first child. But I'm so glad it will be you if it can't be me. Tell Cassie…tell Cassie that all I ever wanted for her is to be happy.

And that goes the same for you: I never had the courage to try for what I wanted and that's the one regret I'll die with. Be happy, Sam.

Love, Janet

Sam stared up at the dark purple canopy of the sky above her head and breathed in a lungful of crisp, sharp air. She'd wandered onto the deck after dark the first night she'd stayed at Janet's after she'd brought Cassie home and somehow every night since she'd found her feet taking her outside. She knew why; her time on the deck was her only escape from the reality of Janet's death; from a house filled with SG1 which only seemed to emphasise that it was empty of the one person it needed.

She let her gaze roam over the tiny pinpricks of light; stars so far away that most of them were dead and gone already, their light in the sky nothing more than afterimage. It was a depressing thought. She scrubbed her hands through her hair, uncaring that it left the blonde strands mussed and messy. She had no-one to impress; the guys had already seen her at her worst.

Thank God for them because Janet had been wrong. She was in no way ready for Cassie and Cassie's grief which was a whole other animal in the room. Sam rubbed her upper arms through the heavy wool coat she'd thrown on. The wind was biting enough to get through the denim of her jeans. She sat down on the edge of the deck anyway.

They had spent dinner strategizing on how to deal with Cassie. It had been good if only for the fact that Daniel was with them instead of somewhere else. Sam was almost a hundred per cent sure their plan wasn't going to work but it was a plan. It was the only one they had. God, she missed Janet and her level headed advice and support. She wondered again if she shouldn't call Janet's Mom. Maggie Fraiser had been insistent at the funeral that she was there for Cassie and for Sam any time they needed her. She heard the door open behind her and didn't turn around; she already knew who it would be.

'What is it with you and this deck?' Jack complained loudly as he walked over and lowered himself gingerly to sit beside her.

Sam shrugged, her shoulders barely rising and falling.

'Yeah, me too.' Jack said, understanding without her saying a word what drove her outdoors. He rubbed his hands together to warm them.

They sat in silence for a while and Sam inched closer to him, dropping her head to rest against his shoulder; the puffy nylon of his winter coat cold under her cheek. Some nights, the ones where he'd found her with tears sliding down her cheeks, he'd put his arm around her. The other nights he'd let her do this; just simply lean on him. She needed him and he was there for her. She was too aware that she was getting used to it; hoarding the precious time they spent out on the deck in her heart, every touch, every word.

It was such a mess, Sam thought tiredly.

She didn't doubt Jack loved her as a friend but she had to stop hoping that it meant more than that; that his presence beside her on the deck was anything more than one friend looking out for another friend, especially since he thought she was with Pete. She knew Jack felt a responsibility toward her especially after she had all but broken down on him, trying to explain how grateful she was that she hadn't lost two of the people she loved. It had been embarrassing how quickly she'd dissolved into tears but the hug he'd given her had been great. Jack gave the best hugs.

Damn it.

There she went again. She couldn't just be satisfied with their friendship. She had little doubt that friendship was all Jack wanted. He hadn't protested Pete after all.

Pete.

There was another mess that she just couldn't handle on top of everything else. She hadn't resolved anything since she'd asked him for space after his confession of running a background check on her, following her to the stake-out and initially lying about it. Her talk with Janet when Sam had stayed to recover from being hunted by a super soldier had only led Sam into delaying talking to Pete. They were in limbo land.

Or rather according to Sam's brother, Mark, Pete was in Colorado Springs tying up some loose ends from the case he'd been working. Sam wasn't sure how Mark had gone from being completely on her side about Pete's behaviour to pleading with her to give him another chance. He'd stopped when she'd told him Janet was dead and she wasn't up for dealing with anything else.

Her mind slipped back to Janet's letter. She figured the note to have the courage to go after what she wanted wasn't about Pete. When they'd discussed it Janet hadn't been amused by the background check, even less so by the stalking. Janet had conceded that if it were her she'd probably give Pete a second chance if she'd been the one going out with him but she'd also noted that as Sam's friend she'd prefer it if Sam didn't.

No, if Janet was referring to anyone with that note, it was Jack.

Who had told her he was happy she was happy; who'd accepted she was with someone else with a lot more equanimity than she had ever had about accepting Jack with someone else. Who did that if they were interested in someone – if they loved someone? But what if Jack did love her more than he should? What if he was letting her go because he wanted her to be happy? What if he thought moving on was what she wanted?

She should talk to him. Do what Janet said: pluck up the courage. But hadn't she tried that already? After she'd come back from the Prometheus with the knowledge that she wanted a relationship in her life, wanted love in her life? And hadn't her courage failed her just because Jack had received a call from his ex-wife?

Sam hated not knowing what the status of things was between Jack and Sara O'Neill. She was fairly certain Sara had remarried – hadn't Jack said so a while back? Sam winced at how jealous she sounded in her own head.

She sighed heavily and let it go.

'You don't think the plan is going to work.' Jack stated with total confidence.

Sam latched onto the subject with relief. 'Why'd do you say that?'

'You were wearing your 'with all due respect this isn't going to work, sir' look right there at the end.'

Sam's head whipped up and she shot him an amused look. 'I do not have a look.'

'Oh, you so do.' Jack bantered back easily. She could see his brown eyes twinkling at her despite the poor light. His knee nudged hers, reminding of how closely they were pressed up against each other. 'You really think this won't work?'

Sam bit her lip, her fingers fiddling with the laces on her boots.

'Carter?' Jack prompted gently, nudging her again.

'When my Mom died,' Sam caught Jack's wince as he realised what he'd asked of her, 'no, really, it's ok.' She stopped the hand he'd waved towards her as a silent permission to forget he'd asked and tangled their fingers together unthinkingly. 'When my Mom died, I was angry at Dad; furious. Mark was worse though. He blamed Dad completely; he would never listen, never let him apologise or explain. You know what he said when he stormed out the last time? That he wished it were Dad who'd died.' She pressed her lips together and told herself she wasn't going to cry on him again.

'Cassie said the same thing to you, didn't she?' Jack sounded furious.

Sam stroked her thumb over his knuckles to comfort him rather to deny or confirm it. Cassie was angry and Sam knew, hoped, she hadn't meant it. Sam had a whole new appreciation for why her Dad had stayed away from Mark for so long though because the hurt…the hurt was soul deep. 'It's just…'

'If you're wishing it had been you and not Janet…' Jack started heatedly.

'Aren't you?' Sam shot back.

He glared at her but broke off with a sigh of his own. 'Carter…'

The door behind them opened up with a clatter and they both turned, dropping their clasped hands so automatically that neither of them noticed.

Daniel gestured with a faint air of apology but his eyes held a frantic urgency. 'Cassie called: she's been arrested for hitting a cop.'

Sam shot to her feet before she remembered Jack couldn't move too well with his injuries and she offered him a hand to yank him upwards.

'I'll drive, Carter.' Jack declared as they followed Daniel inside briefly, pausing to lock the kitchen door behind them.

'I drive faster.' Sam pointed out, annoyed. She marched through to the hall. Teal'c and Daniel were already there, pulling on outerwear with brisk efficiency.

'And we don't need to get stopped for speeding.' Jack shot back.

'I will drive.' Teal'c said firmly. 'You have all been drinking.'

'Fine.' Jack conceded grumpily, throwing him the keys.

Sam appropriated the front seat, staring down Jack and Daniel until they got in the back. The drive was quiet. All of them were too tense to discuss anything. Sam berated herself for allowing Cassie to go out again. But Cassie had been right when she'd thrown her age in Sam's face; Cassie was eighteen and she wasn't a child. Sam wished, not for the first time, that Cassie's boyfriend Dominic wasn't at college on the other side of the country. She had no idea who the friends were that Cassie had gone out with; a Kyle and a Poppy. She should have asked more questions rather than getting into an argument. Or instead of crying and feeling sorry for herself maybe she should have used her laptop and ran checks on the two of them…she closed her eyes briefly. OK, her running a check on Cassie's friends was not, not, the same thing as Pete running a background check on her.

Teal'c had barely pulled into a parking space when Sam pushed open her door and got out. She could hear Jack cursing but didn't stop, using the advantage of his injury to leave the guys behind and be the first through the doors to the police station. She almost skidded to a halt at the sight of the man pacing the lobby.

'Pete.'

His blond head snapped up and he hurried over to her, hands already raised in a supplicating way. He looked good in blue jeans and a simple cream sweater. 'Look, I know we agreed space but I overheard your name when your…Cassie, is it? Cassie asked to call you and…'

'Is she…?'

'She's OK.' Pete said quickly, reaching for her hand before moving back a step as the doors opened and the rest of her team piled through.

All three men blink in the bright lights of the police department as though they hadn't seen Pete before.

Sam waved a hand between the line of men behind her and the one in front. 'Guys, you remember Pete.'

'Sure.' Jack said dryly as Teal'c uttered a terse 'Detective Shanahan' under his breath.

Pete attempted a smile. 'I was just explaining to Sam that Cassie's fine. Maybe a little tipsy…'

'She's been drinking?' Worry escalated through Sam. Damn. Cassie had gotten drunk a couple of times after Daniel had died but she'd stopped. Sam should have thought about her starting up again with Janet's death.

'She's had a couple but she's not drunk.' Pete confirmed, his attention returning to her. 'The club she was in was busted for allowing underage drinking. She took exception to one of the uniforms and punched him.'

Sam raised her hand to her forehead.

'Has she been charged?' asked Daniel, stepping up beside Sam.

'No, she's been given a warning.' Pete said. 'After I realised she was here, I had a word with the guy she hit and told him about,' he winced, 'about her losing her Mom. He agreed to drop the assault charge.'

'Thanks.' Jack said quietly, moving up to flank Sam on her other side.

'Her right hand's bruised but our department doc examined her and gave her the all clear.' Pete continued.

'You will take us to see her now.' Teal'c ordered, completing the wall of SG1 in front of Pete.

Pete's eyes widened slightly but he nodded. 'Follow me.' He led the way through a side door and into the department. Sam followed him through a warren of corridors silently aware of the three men at her back. Her footsteps quickened as she saw Cassie up ahead, sitting on a hard plastic chair, a stark white bandage around one hand, with Kyle and Poppy beside her, all of them pale and looking like the young scared kids they were.

'Cassie.' Sam reached for her and pulled her into a hug, giving into her own need to hold Cassie.

Cassie's body vibrated with tension as though she were still angry, but she didn't pull away. 'I want to go home.'

'OK,' Sam reluctantly pulled back and resisted the urge to stroke Cassie's hair, 'but we're going to talk about this.'

Cassie's lips thinned mutinously. Her eyes flickered behind Sam, widening in surprise as she was pulled in for a hug by Jack before he handed her off to Daniel and Teal'c.

'You kids got a ride home?' Jack asked, gesturing toward Kyle and Poppy.

'Yes, sir.' It was Kyle who answered.

'Don't worry,' Pete added, 'we'll get them to where they need to go.'

Sam nodded briskly. She placed a hand on Cassie's arm and gently steered her back down the corridor. Cassie pulled away and moved to walk beside Daniel. Sam tried hard not to feel rejected and was glad when Jack's hand brushed over her shoulder briefly. It wasn't long before they were back in the lobby.

'Sam…' Pete murmured as she headed for the door with the others.

Sam glanced at him and stopped. She owed him for what he'd done to help Cassie. She motioned for the guys and Cassie to leave as they looked back inquiringly. 'I'll be with you in a minute.

Teal'c and Daniel both frowned at her in varying expressions of disapproval, and Sam couldn't blame them. She wanted to ignore Pete and head home with Cassie but she owed him a thank you and she'd rather say it without an audience. She wasn't surprised when Jack simply nodded back at her, his face set into his professional mask, and waved a hand at her. 'We'll wait in the car.'

Sam watched as he hustled everyone out of the door before she turned to Pete. 'Thank you for helping her out.'

Pete shrugged easily. 'Mark mentioned what had happened last time I called and her Mom did help patch me up. How are you?' His dark eyes were filled with concern and Sam felt some of her resolve to keep him at a distance crack.

'I'm fine. Well, not fine.' Sam blew out a breath and pushed her hands into the pockets of her jacket. 'You know.'

Pete nodded. 'I just wanted to say to let you know that the DA has asked me to testify and I'm going to be around occasionally in the next few months, so if you need anything…'

'Pete.'

'Not like…nothing to do with us us… just as a friend.' Pete added swiftly, keeping his voice low to avoid it carrying over to the curious desk Sergeant. 'That's all.'

Sam sighed and shifted her weight, her mind too cluttered with arguments and counter-arguments; her heart too cluttered with the memory of Jack sitting beside her on the deck, his hand on her shoulder, to make a decision. 'I have to go.'

Pete's face fell but he regrouped quickly. 'Take care, Sam.'

Sam turned on her heel and hurried out. She welcomed the slap of frigid air as she left the building. She walked over to the car and almost smiled when she saw that Cassie had been bundled into the back, sandwiched between Jack and Daniel. They'd left the front passenger seat for her.

Sam didn't attempt to break the tense silence on the way back to the house, the weight of Cassie's almost-arrest keeping her quiet. The warmth from the heaters and the bubble of the car in Teal'c's competent hands lulled her into snuggling into the hard cushion of the seat and closing her eyes. She was so tired.

The car pulled to a gentle stop and Sam shook herself into getting out and making for the house that loomed over them. She stepped into the foyer, realising with a grimace they had left the lights blazing.

'I'm going to bed.' Cassie declared loudly.

'Hey, not so fast.' Jack ordered.

Cassie whirled around, her foot on the bottom step of the stair. 'I'm tired. I don't have to explain myself to you. I've had a shit night and I'm going to fucking bed.'

'OK,' Jack straightened his shoulders, 'one, language, and two, when we get called to collect you because you were arrested for assaulting a cop, you do so owe us an explanation.'

Sam remained quiet but she stood beside Jack and folded her arms, supporting him without words. Daniel and Teal'c lined up behind them. They could have been stood on any number of alien planets facing down an enemy instead of inside Janet's house facing down the girl they had once saved.

'What's the problem? Sam's boyfriend made it all go away.' Cassie bit out. 'And it wasn't like the other cop didn't ask for it; he was throwing his weight around with Kyle.'

'If Detective Shanahan hadn't stepped in, you might have faced jail time. You would certainly have been expelled from college.' Daniel asserted, folding his arms over his chest.

Cassie rolled her eyes. 'Well, that didn't happen so…'

'We are concerned about your behaviour, Cassandra Fraiser.' Teal'c talked over her.

As always the Jaffa's steadfast calm defused Cassie. She visibly wilted under the Jaffa's raised eyebrow.

'I'm sorry.' Cassie pushed a hand through her hair and crossed her arms defensively over her pretty blue top. 'I just needed to blow off some steam tonight and then the club got busted. The cop grabbed Kyle and I…I just reacted.'

And they all can't say anything because of every single one of them has taken part in defence lessons with Cassie.

'OK, then.' Jack said. 'Thank you for the explanation.'

Cassie pointed up the stairs. 'Can I go up now?'

'You need anything?' Sam asked.

'No.' Cassie looked at her icily.

Sam tried to keep the hurt out of her expression. 'Go and get some sleep. We'll talk about the drinking in the morning.'

Cassie didn't argue; she turned around and stormed up the stairs without another word. The dog followed in her wake.

Daniel waited until Cassie was out of earshot before he turned to Sam with a frown. 'Do we have to talk about the drinking? I mean, I sneaked alcohol when I was her age. I'm pretty sure Jack did too.'

'Hey!' Jack protested before he clucked his tongue and shrugged, rocking back. 'OK, maybe. But this isn't the first time Cassie's gotten drunk underage.'

'She did it after you Ascended, Daniel.' Sam explained. 'It was a reaction to her grief.'

'Oh.' Daniel blinked at her.

'So I'll talk to her like I did the last time and check that this isn't a repeat of that.' Sam said calmly.

Daniel nodded. 'I think I'll head to bed.'

'I will also retire.' Teal'c stated.

They exited the hall so quickly that Sam believed they left skid marks. The firm sound of the den door closing forced Sam to move. She wandered down to the kitchen, Jack following behind her. Sam opened a cupboard and took out a large tumbler. Cassie would need water to deal with the dehydration that always came with alcohol. Jack anticipated her and handed her the bottled water.

'Carter,' Jack began tentatively, 'you know if you want to take a break and see Pete, we'll manage.'

Sam ducked her head. And there he was again; encouraging her. 'I need to be here for Cassie.'

'She knows you're here for her.' Jack said softly. 'And it's not like she'll be alone. Jonas is arriving tomorrow, Daniel's finally got his head out of his ass…'

She shot him a chiding look which he disregarded.

'…and Teal'c and I aren't going anywhere.' Jack completed. 'Go on a date. Try to have some fun and forget about this for an hour.' He paused. 'The doc would be telling you the same thing if she were here.'

Sam made a noncommittal noise and handed him the water back. 'I'll think about it.' After all, she'd been thinking about it for days.

Jack pointed at the glass. 'Why don't I take it up?'

Sam started to shake her head but changed her mind. She nodded. 'Thanks.'

'Get some sleep, Carter. That's an order.' Jack picked up the water and departed. Sam remained where she was – slumped against the kitchen counter. She forced herself to move, stopping by the downstairs' bathroom to perform her ablutions before retreating to Janet's study and the pull-out bed.

Sam undressed and pulled on pyjama bottoms and a tank top to sleep in. She paused in front of Janet's bookcase and picked up a picture. It was one of Cassie, Janet and Sam taken soon after Cassie's rescue from Hanka but before Sam's own life had been turned upside down by the Tok'ra Jolinar. They were happy in the photo. Sam set the photo down.

Janet had been right. Sam hadn't been ready to be a Mom to Cassie back then; she wasn't ready to be a Mom to her now Cassie was eighteen. And if Cassie's attitude was anything to go by, she would take Sam stepping into Janet's place very badly.

Sam switched the light off and crawled into bed. It was not going to be a fun day talking to Cassie about her drinking and she needed all the sleep she could get. She closed her eyes.

'Go on a date. Try to have some fun…'

Damn Jack anyway, Sam thought, her eyes snapping open again. Why did he have to be so reasonable about her dating another man? Was it because he was letting her go or was it because he didn't care if she was with someone? Sam rubbed a hand over her face. She was so scared of the answer, Sam thought wearily; so scared that Jack didn't love her that way anymore – the way she loved him. Maybe she should go back to her original plan to just move on. Hadn't she been seriously considering putting Jack in the past and focusing on Pete before the whole background check-stalking confession?

Pete was a nice guy – OK, so he clearly had some insecurity issues, but her brother trusted him and she'd had fun with Pete. Plus he'd really come through for her with Cassie and talking the other cop out of charging her.

Sam pushed back the covers and climbed out of bed to retrieve her cell phone. She bit her lip and before she could change her mind hunted out Pete's cell number in her contact list and called him.

'Sam.' Pete's pleasure and surprise washed over her.

'I was thinking…' Sam began awkwardly, 'I was thinking of coffee to say thank you.' She rushed the words out. 'You know for what you did for Cassie.'

'I could do coffee.' Pete agreed quickly. 'Coffee sounds good.'

'And we start again.' Sam added, because she wasn't letting him off the hook for the stalking that easy.

'I can do that too.' Pete promised.

'OK, tomorrow then? Around ten at the café?' Sam suggested, ignoring the churn of nerves in her belly.

'I'll be there.' Pete replied. 'And Sam? You won't regret this.'

Sam sighed. 'Just…let's take this slow. I'll see you tomorrow.' She hung up before he could reply and tossed her phone back into her open suitcase. She fell back against the pillows and started up at the shadowy ceiling, trying to tell herself that she was fine and ignoring the tears smarting her eyes.

o-O-o

Dear Cassie,

I've never thought of writing letters before and I don't know if it's a good idea – if it's something you would want or not. But there are things that I want to tell you and I hope I tell you them in person but if you're reading this then I'm gone and –

I'm so sorry, baby. I'm so sorry that I'm not right there with you.

I can't imagine leaving you. Every bone in my body is protesting at the very idea of it. So know that if I'm not there, it's not because I didn't want to be, it's not because I didn't fight to come home to you.

I want to say you'll have SG1 – that they'll be there for you too but I know if I died then it was likely they were fighting right beside me. In my heart though, I know you won't be alone; that they'll be there for you. So, if they made it home and I didn't – don't blame them, Cassie. They would have done everything to get me home to you. If I didn't make it, it wasn't their fault.

And Grandma Maggie and your Aunts will also stay in touch with you; you're a Fraiser. Take care of them for me.

I'm so proud of you. I am so honoured that I got to be a part of seeing you grow up into this incredibly beautiful, kind, smart, funny young woman. You are going to go on to do incredible things.

Be happy, Cassie, and never forget that I love you.

All my love, Mom

'…and then after Sam's got done with the whole drinking lecture again, Jack tells me that they're leaving me alone to think about my actions like I'm a kid being put on the naughty step!' Cassie finished, throwing herself back down on her bed and staring up at the ceiling. The dog gave her a suspicious look and curled back down at the foot of the mattress.

'They're just worried about you, Cass, and can you blame them?' Dominic said sharply.

Her boyfriend's disapproval had the breath catching in her throat. 'You're supposed to be on my side.'

'I am on your side but, geez, Cass – going out, getting drunk and punching a cop?' Dominic retorted. 'That's extreme.'

'Hey, I lost my Mom…'

'I know, Cass.' Dominic cut in, his tone gentling to soothe her. 'But do you really think that your Mom would have wanted this?'

Cassie ignored him; she didn't want to hear his disapproval on top of everybody else's. 'Are you coming home this weekend?'

'Yeah, my flight's booked.' Dominic promised. 'I get in Friday night.'

'I miss you.' Cassie hated that he was so far away but he'd wanted Harvard. She'd thought about applying but in the end had chosen to stay close to the SGC. While her Mom had never pressured her, Cassie was only too aware that if there was an issue with her health, it would be easier and quicker for the SGC to step in if she remained local.

'I miss you too.' Dominic replied. 'I'm sorry, I have to go. I'll call you later.'

'Bye.' Cassie heard the dull tone in her ear signalling he'd hung up and she placed the phone on the nightstand. She pulled open the drawer and extracted the letter from her Mom. She'd read it so many times she could have recited it. But she read it again. Her fingers traced over the printed words and the handwritten signature at the bottom. She just felt numb.

She didn't want a letter; she wanted her Mom. She could remember the first time she'd seen Janet Fraiser – the care she'd taken to examine Cassie after Nirrti had wiped out everyone else on Hanka. But Cassie hadn't paid attention to her because there had been Sam. Sam who had taken care of her; who hadn't left her in the bunker to die alone; who'd held her and told her to be brave and that they weren't going to die. And Sam who had gently explained that it was Doctor Fraiser who would look after her.

On Hanka it wasn't unusual for kids to be fostered out to other families if the parents couldn't take care of them for any reason. In her child's mind she'd simply accepted that Sam's work took her away too much and so she'd live with Sam's friend. Her own family had taken in Georg when his Momma had died and his Pop couldn't care for him. She'd found Georg curled up in her own Momma's arms when she'd run home from the forest and found everyone dead.

She rolled over, curling in on herself as her heart ached painfully at the memory. She wasn't thinking about Hanka, Cassie thought crossly. She was thinking about her Mom; about the months it had taken her to realise that Janet Fraiser was her Mom and not Sam; that Janet wasn't just taking care of her as a favour to Sam but had chosen to be her Mom. She'd been a little hurt that Sam hadn't wanted her but by the time she'd realised the truth, she'd been relieved because Sam's job was dangerous and there was every chance Cassie would lose her but her Mom…

Her Mom wasn't supposed to die; she wasn't supposed to leave her alone.

The flood of dark anger through her veins was familiar and welcome. Cassie latched onto it with relief. It propelled her off the bed and down the stairs. If she couldn't go out and get drunk, there was plenty of alcohol in the house.

The silence pervading the hallway almost caught her by surprise. Theoretically, she'd known everyone had gone out but the reality of it was startling. They all have appointments; Teal'c had gone back at the SGC to pick up Jonas, Daniel in town with his realtor, Sam had a thank you coffee with her boyfriend, Jack had a physical therapy session.

The latter made her frown. She'd almost lost Jack too. Sam had saved him; she remembered Teal'c telling her that. Sam had kept Jack alive with CPR. But Sam hadn't saved her Mom. The thought was too much and she clattered down the stairs, the echoes of her steps reverberating through the empty space.

She figured there was beer and wine in the kitchen but she made her way through to her Mom's study where she knew she'd find a bottle of bourbon. The study bore the evidence of Sam's stay and Cassie's jaw tightened.

The pull-out sofa bed was out but it was made and the covers were so smooth that they looked like no-one had slept there. Sam's belongings were neatly stacked into piles; a book, a journal, some spare clothes; her toiletries.

Cassie saw the letter on the table beside the sofa, tucked into a book. She didn't think twice about invading Sam's privacy, justifying that the letter was out in plain sight. She darted across and picked it up, reading through the contents quickly.

Her anger flared again as she read her Mom's words to Sam. It wasn't fair. It wasn't fair that her Mom wouldn't see all the things that she had wanted to see; that Sam would when she hadn't wanted to be Cassie's Mom anyway.

Cassie ripped the letter in half angrily and dropped it on the bed. She went over to the drinks cabinet and took out the bourbon.

The doorbell sounded. Her dog barked in response and Cassie dropped the bourbon on the bed. She hurried out and wrangled the dog into the den before she answered the door.

A short stocky man looked back at her with kind dark eyes, curly dark hair, and a crooked smile. The rumpled duster he was wearing over what looked like an even more rumpled suit gave him a slightly absent-minded air. 'Oh, hi. I was…I'm Emmett Bregman. I was told Colonel O'Neill was staying here?'

Cassie frowned. Bregman– wasn't that the name of the guy making the documentary about the Stargate? She was sure she'd heard Jack mention him. 'He's out.'

'Ah.' Bregman gestured with the package in his hands. 'May I leave this for him?'

'Sure.' Cassie took it and turned over the padded envelope with interest.

Bregman stuffed his hands deep into the pockets of his coat. 'My condolences on your loss, Miss Fraiser. I only met your mother briefly but she was a gracious lady.'

Something about his heartfelt sincerity cracked the wall Cassie had built between her and the rest of the world since Sam had broken the news to her. Her throat closed up suddenly; the threat of tears suddenly and immediately present.

Cassie took a step back from her visitor. 'I'll give Jack the package.'

He was smart enough to get the hint. 'Of course. Bye.' He extracted a hand and gave a small wave as he stepped down off the front stoop.

Cassie closed the door quickly, shutting him out. She took a deep breath, clenching her hands into the envelope she held. She peered down at it. It was addressed to Jack and sealed. She opened it without another thought.

The slim case of the DVD disc had a single white label entitled 'Documentary Second Edit – Complete.' It was the documentary, Cassie realised. She opened up the door to the den and went straight to the entertainment unit intending to watch it.

She spared a glance at the duffle bag and backpack in the corner, the only evidence that Daniel and Teal'c were staying in the room beyond the single candle on the coffee table. She absently patted the dog and pushed him away as she set about switching on the TV and setting up the DVD player.

Cassie had to hunt for the remote but she sat cross-legged on the floor in front of the screen. The opening introduction wasn't all that interesting; Cassie knew about the programme and she fast-forwarded until the interviews began. It felt weird seeing everyone talk about the programme, about the events that had shaped it, about their relationships. Sam came across as nervous but beautiful, Cassie grudgingly conceded; Teal'c was stern, Daniel was like the academic lecturer he'd once been; Jack was his usual gruff self.

She stilled when her Mom appeared talking about Jack's medical records. Her hand slowly lifted to the screen to touch the bright sparking eyes of her Mom so alive and present.

The scene shifted to Bregman explaining that soon after the interview Doctor Fraiser had been called to the gate room for a rescue mission and a warning that the footage that followed might be upsetting to some.

Cassie's heart pounded as the film shifted to a hand-held camera and Simon Wells. She could see her Mom beside him working to save his life. She didn't hear Wells' words for his wife, what Daniel was saying to him. Her focus was on her Mom. Her mouth went dry. They'd told her; Sam…Jack…Teal'c; they'd told her that her Mom had been in the field saving the life of an Airman but she hadn't really listened; hadn't wanted to listen.

'Simon. Simon! Look at me! You are not going to die, okay?'

'Mom.' Cassie leaned forward again, the sight of her Mom filling her vision; her Mom's voice all she could hear.

'I did not come all the way out here for nothing. Now, I've stemmed the bleeding; we're going to get you on a stretcher. We're going to get you home with your family in no time, okay? Now you hang in there, Airman!'

Pride swamped Cassie because this was her Mom; determined and fierce. She started to smile…

The blast shot across the screen; her Mom went flying backwards.

'Mom!' Cassie cried out. 'No, no, no; no!' She scrabbled forward, tears streaming down her face and pressed her hands against the screen over the fallen body of her mother as though she could heal her through time and space; bring her back to life through the power of her mind alone despite the fade-out to black and Daniel's desperate cry for a medic echoing.

Her Mom was dead.

'Cassie!'

Sam was suddenly there and the image froze on the words noting Major Janet Fraiser had died in the line of duty. Sam pulled her away from the screen and Cassie struggled against Sam's strong grip momentarily before falling against her, her own arms shifting to wrap around Sam and hold onto her tightly.

Cassie pushed her face under the scratchy wool of Sam's coat and into Sam's neck, sobbing uncontrollably. 'She's dead!'

'I know, Cassie.' Sam murmured into her hair. 'I know.' She sounded choked and Cassie felt Sam's chest heaving against her own body, crying with Cassie.

Cassie huddled closer, hiding her face.

'Carter!'

Jack's worried shout had Cassie clutching onto Sam.

'In here, sir.'

Cassie ignored the sound of footsteps and the quiet curse Jack uttered. She shook badly and Sam's hand stroked through her hair and down her back.

'I thought you were…' Jack began.

'I came back early.' Sam interjected. 'I just…I couldn't leave her, sir.' Cassie felt her motion toward the TV screen. 'I came in and she was watching the documentary.'

Jack sighed. 'Rundall called me and told me Bregman was on his way over so I came back. I see I'm too late.'

'Jack! Sam!' Daniel called out, hurrying into the room. 'Teal'c called me and said…'

Cassie peeked out through the fall of her hair and saw Daniel pale visibly as he saw the television.

Other footsteps cluttered through the hallway and into the room.

'What's going on?'

Her head shot up and snagged immediately on Jonas. She shifted, pulling away from Sam and Sam let her go.

'Jonas?'

'Hey.' Jonas hurried to her side, dropping to the floor to hold her.

Cassie shifted from Sam to Jonas, cuddling into him. 'They said you couldn't come.'

'I couldn't but I'm here anyway.' Jonas said quietly.

'My Mom died.'

Jonas hugged her. 'I know she did.'

'Everybody leaves me.' Another fresh wave of tears spilled down her cheeks.

'We're here.' Sam clasped her shoulder and rubbed it gently.

'But you can't promise me you'll always be here.' Cassie said, brushing her wet cheeks with the back of her hand. 'Jack almost died. Mom even said…she said in her letter that you might not make it and…' her voice cut off with another sob.'

'Listen, your Mom was a very, very smart lady.' Jonas said. 'And you're right; she knew that these guys might not be around one day too. So you know what she did? She wrote to me and told me that if that should ever happen that she knew I would be there for you.' He pushed her away so he could look her in the eyes. 'I promise you, Cassie. All you have to do is get word to me and I will get here whatever takes. You won't be alone ever.'

Cassie nodded, sniffling. 'OK.'

'OK.' Jonas smiled at her, his face bright with affection that warmed her. 'You're a mess.'

A laugh escaped her but she sobered as she looked up at the worried faces of the rest of SG1 – her family. 'I'm sorry.' She reached out to Sam again and Sam pulled her in for another hug. 'I'm so sorry. I found your letter and, and I tore it up…'

'It's OK.' Sam said. 'You can help me fix it with tape later.' She brushed Cassie's hair over her shoulder and cupped her damp cheek. 'Come on. Let's get you cleaned up.'

'I'll get that copy of the damn documentary out of here.' Jack declared.

'Wait! Wasn't the memorial filmed?' Jonas said, helping Cassie and Sam to their feet without tripping over the worried dog.

Daniel nodded, arms folded tightly around himself. 'Yes, but…'

Jonas tapped Cassie's arm. 'What do you say? I know we both couldn't make it but I'd like to watch it with you, if you'd like to?'

Cassie bit her lip but nodded.

'Are you sure, Cassie?' Jack asked brusquely.

'I'm sure.' Cassie said. And she was. Nothing could be worse than what she'd already seen and maybe, just maybe, the memorial would help. 'I'll just…' she pointed at her face. 'I'll be right back.' She moved before they could stop her, diving into the downstairs bathroom. She bathed her face and ignored the quiet murmur of voices beyond the door.

She took a breath. Without the anger that had sustained her she felt tired, drained. A dull headache throbbed behind her eyes and her throat was sore from crying. She patted her face dry and looked at herself in the mirror. Her Mom had died but she wasn't alone and she didn't have to handle it alone.

Cassie closed her eyes briefly. Why Sam didn't hate her she had no clue. She'd been so mean to her but Sam had stayed with her anyway. But her Mom had known that too; hadn't she said so in her letter to Sam?

So, maybe her Mom was right. Maybe she should stop blaming Sam and the others; start focusing on being the young woman her Mom had spoken about with pride. She grimaced at the white bandage on her hand. OK, maybe punching cops was out as an activity. And drinking. She felt a moment's guilt about the bourbon.

She took a deep breath and opened the bathroom door. She wasn't surprised to find Daniel hovering in the lobby. 'Hey.'

'Hey.' Daniel said roughly. 'Cassie, you should never have had to…'

Cassie walked up and hugged him tightly.

For a second, he was startled but his arms were suddenly around her as he caught up. 'I'm so sorry I couldn't save her.'

'She saved Simon Wells, didn't she?'

'She did.' Daniel confirmed. 'She saved him. His wife had a baby daughter. They've named her Janet.'

There was a part of Cassie that rebelled against it; that wanted to rail at the world for allowing a small baby her father when it took away her Mom. But she pushed the resentment aside.

'Maybe we could go see the baby?' Cassie suggested. 'Together?'

'I'd like that.' Daniel said.

'We're all set up here when you guys are ready.' Jack said, drawing their attention. He stood in the doorway of the den, his hand pressed up against his ribs.

Cassie gave Daniel a final squeeze and moved over to Jack hugging him gently. 'I'm really glad you're alive.'

'Me too, kiddo.' Jack led her inside the den.

She hugged Teal'c before she took a seat on the sofa between Jonas and Sam. She slid a hand into Sam's. Jack sat beside Sam on her other side, Daniel dropped to the floor to sit cross-legged beside him. Teal'c sat on the floor in front of Jonas.

'Ready?' Sam asked softly.

Cassie let her gaze skip to each of them one last time. There was nothing but love in their eyes for her. They would be there to catch her when she fell; to hold her when she cried; to grieve with her. It was time to honour her Mom; time to say goodbye. 'I'm ready.'

o-O-o

Anna smiled down at the picture of the scrunched up baby and handed it back to Senior Airman Wells. 'She's adorable.'

'Very adorable.' Wells agreed happily. Anna suppressed a smile. Wells was sunk; wrapped around his baby daughter's finger already.

'Just wait.' Dixon commented dryly. 'She'll be a hellion before you know it.'

'I heard Doctor Fraiser's daughter has agreed to be godmother?' Anna said politely as she looped her stethoscope back around her neck, and enjoyed its familiar weight.

'Yes,' Wells nodded, 'Doctor Jackson brought her to visit and Marci asked her. Marci thought it was right that Janet grows up knowing the daughter of the woman who saved my life.'

'It's a good thought.' Anna said. Cassie was a lovely young woman and it had been good of her to agree. 'As for your injury, two more weeks of physio and we'll reassess but it looks good.'

Wells beamed at her.

'Thanks, Doc.' Dixon helped Wells down from the bed and handed him his cane. He was offering Wells more horror stories about his own children as they walked out.

Anna shook her head in amusement and picked up the clipboard. She headed for her office and was surprised to see the General waiting for her. 'Sir, I didn't realise we had an appointment.'

'We don't.' Hammond's smile softened the words. 'I hate to press you, Doctor Brightman, but I need an answer.'

Anna nodded and resisted the urge to hug the clipboard. 'I'm accepting the position, sir.'

'That's good news.' Hammond beamed at her. 'I'm pleased to hear it. I'll get the formal announcement out shortly.'

'Yes, sir.' Anna watched him leave and shook herself briskly. She had notes to update, three teams to check going out, another scheduled to come in and ward rounds to make. Janet had entrusted her with the CMO position and she would do it to the best of her ability to honour her.

Dear Anna,

You don't want the job.

You'll have to deal with viruses that revert people to Neanderthals and bites that change people into bugs. You'll make assumptions that get people locked up for being crazy and you'll find that you should always check for Goa'uld symbiotes, crystalline duplicates, nanites, alien substances that cause hallucinations of people, and bombs. You'll make house calls on other planets and have to give emergency aid under fire. You'll wait for the teams to come home with the General and live with the knowledge that you can't save them all. If you're very lucky, you'll find a daughter as beautiful as Cassie and you'll face down a Goa'uld rather than lose her.

SG1 will drive you insane.

Take the job.

You'll love every minute of it – I know I have.

Doctor Janet Fraiser


fin.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
pepper_field
May. 9th, 2011 11:45 pm (UTC)
Oh god. Seriously, I'm in tears right now. This is just... perfect, and tragic, and celebratory, and it made me miss Janet so much it hurts. Gah. *flails*

(ETA: I mean all this in a good way, in case that's not clear!)

Edited at 2011-05-09 11:46 pm (UTC)
rachel500
May. 10th, 2011 07:50 am (UTC)
It's always music to my ears when I hear I make someone cry with my writing so I took it in a good way, promise! Thanks for the lovely feedback. :)



Edited at 2011-05-10 07:50 am (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
rachel500
May. 10th, 2011 07:49 am (UTC)
It is a heartbreaker of an episode. Thank you for the comment and feedback. :)
psychomonkey_29
May. 10th, 2011 03:20 am (UTC)
That was...was...fanastic does not even cover this latest update! This episode was so shocking and hard to watch and your story did it justice. You gave the grief that everyone was feeling an honorable possible ending. Thank you for writing this. You made the loss of a beloved character a little bit more bearable.

Eagerly waiting for more.
rachel500
May. 10th, 2011 07:48 am (UTC)
Thanks for the comment and lovely feedback. I'm glad you liked it. It was a hard one to write.
sewitsme
May. 11th, 2011 03:03 pm (UTC)
Aftershocks
I love your stories. For those of us who do not have the ability or imagination to write fiction, thank you. You and your fellow writers will now be the only link we have to the characters we love so much.
rachel500
May. 12th, 2011 08:24 am (UTC)
Re: Aftershocks
Thank you for the comment. I'm sure I'll still be writing Aftershocks for a while!
cantarina1
May. 13th, 2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
This is such a lovely tribute to all of them! You've left me sitting here in tears. I love the way you've used the letters as a framing device and because they sound like Janet Fraisier. It's really excellent to see Cassie, Hammond, and Jonas in all of this too.
rachel500
May. 14th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I came up with the letters because I wanted Janet's voice in the story so that left flashbacks to episodes or *fanfic* missing scenes from the past...but as I'd done something like that already with the tribute fic to Don/Hammond, the letters seemed to be the way to go. Glad you liked it.
kaycross
May. 14th, 2011 08:54 am (UTC)
Bravo
What wonderful closure to such an emotional episode.

I will be honest. I was dreading reading this. I knew that I would cry - and oh boy did I cry! But you handled this with grace and deftness. It wasn't over the top - it was a celebration of a dearly loved character and a fitting tribute.

I was trying to explain to my husband why I enjoy reading your Aftershocks and about 20 minutes into me plying him with examples, he asked if I had let the author know how much I was enjoying the stories. I realised then that I hadn't really let you know how much I appreciate the time, effort, love and care that you have put into this series.

This series is cannon as far as I am concerned. In fact I am re watching the entire series and re reading the appropriate Aftershock in between atm.

The depth of your understanding of the characters as well as the carefully woven threads of their development is astounding. You bring them to life!

These characters start to live and breathe beyond the screen with your words. Your careful placement of key information, events and emotions throughout the entire Aftershocks series is wonderful. Your pacing and inclusion of other personnel brings the SGC to a vibrancy that the series itself sometimes ignored. People would be crazy not to read your work.

In reference your latest installment, the letter to Anna was a master stroke! It bought a bittersweet smile to my face - and restored some much needed balance to my emotional state!

You are a wonderful writer - and I am so glad that I found you!!!

rachel500
May. 14th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Bravo
Wow. Thank you for such lovely feedback (and thank you to your husband!)

I'm really delighted that you love the series so much. I have to admit I had no idea what I was taking on when I started but I love writing the TAGs.

I'm glad you liked Anna's letter. I did originally think about ending it with Cassie but I wanted Janet's words to be the last thing and having her write to her successor - a handing over of the torch so to speak - seemed like the way to go.

Thanks again!
rdamel
May. 29th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC)
I just finished this 3 part story and, like your readers above, I'm teary--my husband wanted to know what was wrong when he came home for supper, and I had to explain.

So good, so true to all of them, thank you for writing.
Melissa M.
rachel500
May. 29th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC)
I'm glad the fic resonated with you. Thank you for the feedback. :)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

NewRachel500
rachel500
rachel500

Fiction

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow