<<Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>
Heaven Called While You Slept
For a moment, Daniel was certain he could detect a hint of smoke in the air. Another deep breath and it was gone; replaced by a very familiar floral and vanilla scent, so light he couldn't be absolutely sure it wasn't just a memory of his Wife's sweet fragrance. He dismissed the smells as nothing more than his imagination.
Claire reached across the table, took Daniel's hand between her own. "How's your grandfather?" she asked softly.
Thoughts of Nick brought a smile to his face. "He's fine. Grandpa was right, Mom. His expedition to Belize...what he saw was real."
Melburn blinked in surprise. "His 'giant, misty aliens' were...are...real?"
"Very real," Daniel replied. "We went on a mission, the interior of the pyramid we discovered was exactly like Grandpa had described. There was a crystal skull...I was studying it-" Staring into the eyes of the damned thing...it was so hypnotic! "and wound up unconscious. I came to, realized I was alone...I had disappeared as far as Jack, Teal'c, and Sam were concerned. When they couldn't locate me, they'd gone back to the SGC to get more equipment to help them search. I managed to get back to the SGC, following them after they'd returned to look for me again."
"That must have been frightening," Claire gasped.
"It was, a bit. It was interesting, too." He'd listened to his friends talking about him, unaware that he was standing with them. The feelings that had enveloped him when he realized how much his teammates cared for him, the lengths they were willing to go to in order to find and save him, still warmed his heart...even if they hadn't worked all night to find a solution, a thought that had him chuckling mentally. "I have to admit, when they decided to find Grandpa, because of his book about the skull, I wasn't thrilled. Not that they realized that at the time. He was in a psychiatric institution...he'd checked himself in. After his findings being maligned for so long, he was convinced he was crazy."
Claire frowned. "They had to find him?"
"If Danny wasn't there, they couldn't ask him where Nick was, sweetheart," Melburn pointed out.
"I didn't know where he was," Daniel admitted. "Nick and I weren't exactly on speaking terms at that point in time."
"What happened?" Claire demanded to know.
Daniel shrugged. "It was mostly my fault...I resented him for just handing me over to the foster-care system."
Claire's blue eyes flashed with anger. Daniel had inherited a temper very much like hers. "He did what?"
A frown tugged at his eyebrows. "I figured you pretty much knew everything that's happened," Daniel said quietly.
"It doesn't work that way," Melburn replied gently. "We hear whispers about you, from time to time. But we don't have details."
He gave a nod of understanding. "Right after..." He paused, took a deep breath. "Right after the funeral, Nick...Grandpa...took me to a diner for lunch. Explained to me that he was in the middle of a very important dig, and couldn't take me with him. I remember the ride in the taxi when he took me to an office. It was the Child Protective Agency. He signed a couple of forms, handed my suitcase to the lady he'd been talking to, and walked away. I hated him for doing that, for a very long time," he admitted softly.
"Oh, Danny, I'm so sorry!" Claire moaned softly,
"Not your fault, Mom," Daniel assured her, squeezing her fingers gently. "I did okay."
For not the first time Melburn and Claire exchanged a look of concern.
"Anyway, when the team brought him back to the SGC, Grandpa could actually see me...I think that was because he'd already experienced what I was going through, and so he was more 'sensitive' to the results. He thought he was seeing my ghost, it took a bit of convincing to let him know he wasn't. The old bastard managed to persuade the team that I had insisted he come to the pyramid. It was a good thing he did. Those giant, misty aliens recognized him," Daniel chuckled. "We made our peace. And Grandpa is still there, studying them. They extended the invitation, and he told me it was what he'd dreamed of doing since he'd first seen them."
"He abandoned you!" Claire huffed, crossing her arms over her bosom.
"Mom, it's okay," Daniel insisted. "Everything that happened, happened for a reason. Besides, Grandpa wouldn't have known what to do with me."
Melburn chuckled. "True. You baffled and exasperated him every time he came to see us."
Claire chuckled as well, although her eyes revealed that she was still upset by what she'd learned. "You were always asking questions, and you'd ask them almost faster than we could answer them. Dad was raised in a society that believed children 'should be seen, and not heard'. It annoyed him that you knew almost as much about several cultures as he did, and had questions he couldn't answer."
Daniel grinned. "Well, everything worked out, he and I are fine."
"I'm still going to give the old goat a piece of my mind, as soon as I get a chance," Claire declared. Neither her husband nor her son doubted that it would happen.
"Casey wants to meet him," Daniel said, giving a soft chuckle. "She's big on family. I suppose because she never had a family growing up. She has her dad in her life now...thanks to a little nudge from Miss Eloise, or so Casey believes. She was looking for clues about her parents at the same time he found out about her, and was looking for her. She-" He broke off, took a sip of his coffee.
"She what, Danny?" Melburn asked gently.
"She felt guilty about finding her dad," Daniel said softly.
"Why?" Claire asked, her eyes going wide.
"Because I don't have the two of you. Casey...she...my beautiful Angel was abused as a child. She was told every day, from the time she was adopted at age five, that she was a slut, a whore, useless, ugly..." He sighed heavily.
"How awful!" Claire declared.
"The only reason she survived with her sanity intact was a miracle," Daniel said. "Her Grandma Rose did as much as she could to protect Casey."
Melburn frowned. "Rose?"
"Rose Webster," Daniel nodded.
Claire glanced at Melburn. "I believe we've met her. She's a very warm, caring person."
Well, how 'bout that? His parents knew Casey's grandmother. Daniel couldn't help but wonder if the three would get together and compare notes about their visits...he was certain that his Wife and teammates were experiencing their own 'dreams'. "I keep telling Casey we should nominate her grandmother for sainthood. She always finds the idea amusing." He smiled at the memory of Casey's responses to his suggestions, took another sip of his coffee.
The old clock in the hallway chimed the hour. Claire studied her son for several moments. "Are you happy, Danny?"
"Happier than I ever thought I could be," Daniel replied immediately. "I have Casey. She's all I'll ever need...as long as she's with me, I'm complete. I have Jack...he's the best friend I've ever had. I have Teal'c and Sam, best friends to me in their own way. There's Janet and General Hammond, Emma Hanks...my life is filled with amazing people. I have my work...it's exciting and fascinating, and I'm helping people whenever I can. Yeah, Mom, I'm happy."
"I'm so glad," Claire sighed contentedly.
Daniel toyed with the handle on his mug.
"Danny, what's wrong?" Melburn asked.
Cerulean blue eyes met the deep blue eyes. He'd uttered the words so many times in his dreams...in the dreams he'd had as a child. Now...he had the chance to say them, knowing that his parents would hear them. Wasn't sure he wanted to mar this so far lovely visit. Isn't this what it's all about, saying what we need to say? "It was horrible," he said hoarsely. "I was so angry...you left me alone."
Claire reached for Daniel's hand, her fingers tightened around his. "We know, honey. You have to believe that we didn't want to leave you."
"We certainly didn't want you to witness...that," Melburn said, his voice a bit raspy as well.
"I was scared...no, I was terrified," Daniel said.
"So was I," Claire replied. "I didn't want to leave you. I love you so much, Daniel."
"I love you, too, Mom."
"I wanted to save your mother," Melburn said. "But I couldn't."
"It's okay, Dad," Daniel assured his father. Only as an adult could he truly understand how horrifying those final moments must have been for his parents...their concern for him, and each other. An understanding that a child feeling abandoned couldn't fathom.
"I'm proud of you, son."
"I love you as much as your mother does."
"I know. I love you, too." Daniel reached out with his free hand, clasped his father's calloused fingers.
The sound of a car horn broke the silence that had momentarily filled the kitchen. With a frown, Daniel rose to his feet, hurried to the front of the house. A yellow cab was waiting at the curb.
"It seems it's time for you to go, Danny," Melburn said quietly.
"I guess so." For one panicked moment, Daniel didn't want to leave, didn't want to walk through the front door of his childhood home, didn't want to walk away from his parents.
"I'm so glad you were able to come," Claire said, hugging her son tightly.
"Me, too, Mom."
Melburn hugged his son as well. "Be well, Danny."
"Remember, sweetie, we love you. We'll always love you," Claire said, reaching out to caress his cheek.
"I'll remember," Daniel promised.
The horn resounded again.
Tears filled his eyes. "Goodbye, Mom. Goodbye, Dad."
"I love you." Daniel pushed the door open, made his way down the sidewalk. The smell of smoke seemed stronger now... He turned to look back at the house that had been the only home he'd known as a child. His parents stood on the wide front porch, their arms around one another. He smiled, and waved. Crawled into the cab, the image of his parents smiling and waving at him etched into his memory.
A A A A A A
Charlie slid back onto the seat at the bow of the boat, Jack returned to the seat at the stern. Both reached for the fishing poles that were laying in the bottom of the old rowboat.
"So, you're doing okay?" Charlie asked, forcing a worm onto his hook. The soft 'plop' of the hook hitting the water punctuated his question.
"Doing just fine," Jack replied. He pulled the rod back, flicked his wrist, sending the fishing line zinging into the air. The hook landed a good fifty feet from the boat.
"Anybody special in your life?"
"Aw, c'mon, Dad! Help me out here!" Charlie complained.
Jack chuckled loudly. "Right after I was reactivated, and got involved in the Stargate program, I met a feisty major. Well, she was a captain at the time. Blonde hair, big blue eyes, great legs, and attitude to spare." The memory of Sam's first appearance in the briefing room of the SGC had him laughing out loud. "She marched into the conference room, heard me complaining to General Hammond about having a scientist on the team...I was expounding on my high opinion of lab rats in general, and female lab rats in particular-"
Charlie chuckled as he listened.
"So she put both hands on the table, leaned over, and then informed me that just because her reproductive organs were on the inside didn't mean she couldn't do the same job I could. I think I fell for her right then and there," Jack admitted.
"Did you ask her out?" Charlie asked.
"Nope. Couldn't. She was a junior officer on my team. There are fraternization rules against that, ya know."
"Yep. It did."
"It 'did'?" Charlie took note of the obvious past tense. "So how did you get together with her?"
"That skinny seer I mentioned? She bullied the president into changing the rules for the SGC."
"She bullied the president? Of the United
"That's right. Don't think anyone could say no to Radar. Don't think anyone is stupid enough to say no to that little fireball," Jack chortled.
Charlie's laughter echoed over the lake.
"Gotta admit, she's been damned good for Daniel," Jack continued. "I didn't realize I'd never met the 'real' Daniel Jackson until Casey showed up. Anyway, right there at their wedding reception, General Hammond gave us the news that the president had suspended the rules concerning fraternization for all personnel in the SGC."
"And you and this major have been together ever since?"
"Sam. Major Doctor Samantha Carter. Smartest damned gizmo expert you'll ever meet," Jack said proudly. "Yep, we've been together ever since." He scanned the lake, then cleared his throat. "Your mom has met a nice guy. He makes her happy."
"That's good. She deserves to be happy, too," Charlie said softly. "You gonna marry Major Doctor Samantha Carter?"
"Probably. Want to."
"Gonna have kids?"
Jack studied his son for a moment. Realized that he'd never considered marriage, let alone a family, after losing Charlie and Sara. Then Sam had entered his life...rules had been changed to allow them to be together...did he want to try the whole family thing again? "I dunno. Maybe."
"I hope you do, Dad. You're a great father. You should have more kids."
"Maybe," was all Jack would say on the matter. That Charlie could sit there, declare he was a 'great father' after what had happened, left him dealing with emotions he'd rather just let lie... He swallowed the baseball-sized lump suddenly forming in his throat.
"Probably make the major happy."
"Probably," Jack admitted.
"Have a family, Dad. You've sure as hell earned it."
Again Jack swallowed a lump, this one the size of a grapefruit, that seemed to have formed just as suddenly in the back of his throat.
Charlie watched his father for a moment. Everything that needed to be said, had been said. He turned his attention to his fishing line.
"You know this lake doesn't have any fish in it," Jack said dryly, watching as Charlie played his line back and forth.
"I know. Doesn't hurt to keep in practice, though."
"Besides, you always told me that it's not about catching the fish, but just relaxing while you try to catch them," Charlie said.
Jack's eyes widened with surprise. "You remember that?"
"I remember everything you taught me, Dad," the young man said quietly.
He took a moment to contemplate his son's comment. "Well, how 'bout that," he murmured softly.
"Still listen to opera?"
"And why wouldn't I?"
"Yeah, I still listen to opera," Jack said.
"What ever got you started listening to opera in the first place?" Charlie asked.
Taking a moment to play his own line, Jack took a quick trip down memory lane. "I was in flight school...right after boot camp. We had a day off, and I'd been over at the officer's club shooting pool. We weren't allowed to have personal gear in the barracks, anything we arrived with was packaged up and either put into storage, or sent home. I had my stuff in storage. So did a couple of the other guys. Well, Frank Metzinger was one of those guys. He'd gone to his storage unit, pulled a few things out, brought them back to the barracks. He had an old, portable record player and a few albums. Turned out they were opera. They'd belonged to his mom. It was her birthday, and he always listened to them on her birthday."
"That was nice," Charlie mused.
"Yeah, it was," Jack agreed. "A couple of the guys were razzing him about the opera, but as it played, there was just this...feeling...I got listening to it. I knew enough about opera to know there was a story being told. So I asked Metz about it. He explained what was happening. There was so much...I dunno...there was just something about hearing that story, being told in song. I'd picked up somewhere that songs had been a way to keep track of history for the Vikings way back when...there was just this feeling of...I guess it felt as if I'd found a link to those Vikings. And let's face it, those were some pretty tough guys."
Charlie snorted. "Yeah, I think I remember hearing about Vikings. They wore cow horns on their helmets."
"Scared the hell outa the English," Jack grinned.
"True," Charlie grinned in return. "Do you understand the words...the language...when you listen to opera?"
"I've picked up a bit of Italian listening to them," Jack admitted. "Just enough to follow what's going on."
"You know, Dad, you're not nearly as dumb as you like to pretend," Charlie pointed out.
"Maybe not. But it sure as hell messes with people. Keeps 'em on their toes. And it also makes 'em a bit careless around me. They'll talk about things around me when they think I won't understand. I can learn a lot that way," Jack pointed out.
"Dad, that's just sneaky!"
"Mostly entertaining," Jack retorted with a grin. "Gotta take my laughs where I can get 'em."
Charlie shook his head, continued to chuckle.
Jack frowned when he recognized the distinct smell of smoke wafting on the gentle breeze that rocked the rowboat like a cradle. Carefully scanned the woods around the lake, examining the roof of the cabin for any signs of fire; he was a bit confused when nothing seemed out of place...no tell-tale trails of smoke swirling skyward.
"Do you smell that?"
"I don't smell anything but lake water," Charlie replied.
With a nod, Jack gave one last cursory look around. Pappy was on the dock, waving at them. "Looks like it's time to go in," he said softly. His heart wrenched in his chest. He wasn't ready to go...there was so much left to say...he hadn't even started begging for Charlie's forgiveness yet!
"Looks like," Charlie said, his own voice soft, and a bit sad.
The two men reeled in their lines. Carefully put the poles on the bottom of the boat, careful not to tangle them. Jack reached for the oars, looked over at his son. It was now, or never... "Charlie, I'm so sorry! Can you ever forgive me?"
"Dad, there's nothing to forgive! It was my time...you couldn't have stopped that no matter how hard you tried," Charlie replied.
There was gentle poking at his memory, and Casey's soft voice filled his ears...
"No Jack, it wasn’t your fault. It was meant to be. If not in that moment, then soon...a car, a truck, a fall...he was ready to move on to the next level."
"I didn't want to let you go," Jack said, gasping from the pain that squeezed at his chest.
"I know, Dad," Charlie said softly.
"I miss you so much...we've missed so much!"
"Keep moving forward, Dad. Have more kids. Have another son...do with him all the things you wanted to do with me."
It was almost too much. Tears filled his eyes once again. "He could never be you," Jack said, of this future, unnamed and unknown son.
"Of course not. He'd be your son in his own right. And that would be a good thing, ya know," Charlie responded. The teenager grinned cheekily. "You could always have a daughter. Girls can play ball and fish, too, ya know."
A daughter? A little girl who looks like Sam... Jack shook his head slightly. Was he ready...capable...of having another family? His heart nudged him. Maybe, he thought, he was more ready than he'd realized.
Charles O'Neill's voice called to them from the dock.
"We'd better get back," Charlie said quietly.
With a terse nod, Jack lowered the oars into the water. Funny, but it didn't seem to take nearly as long to row to back to shore as it should have...as he wanted it to.
In what seemed to be a flurry of movement he was out of the boat, being led to the truck by his grandfather and his son. Once again the desire to stay longer had him hesitating.
"Remember what we've talked about," Charlie admonished gently.
"I'll remember, son," Jack promised. Pulled the young man into a hug, held him tightly.
"And Dad...don't wait too long. Life isn't...predictable," Charlie added.
"I won't," Jack replied. Gave a watery grin as he acknowledged the role-reversal that seemed to have occurred. Charlie was acting every bit like a concerned parent.
"Time to go, boy," Charles O'Neill said gruffly, tears in his eyes.
Jack hugged his grandfather, climbed into the cab of the truck. Watched the two waving in the rear view mirror as he drove slowly back toward the road.
A A A A A A
Rose glanced at Brenda, then looked at her granddaughter. "Eloise tells me that you and your friends have become rather important."
"Not me," she muttered immediately, blushing brightly. "Daniel is The One. He and Sam and Teal'c and Jack, they're SG-1. Well, I'm on the team now, but still, their hearts were entwined long before I came into the picture. There's this...magic...that surrounds them."
"Your gift is vital to them, Sunshine," Rose pointed out.
"I suppose," Casey admitted, her shoulders moving up and down in a familiar way.
"Gift?" Brenda asked, looking from one face to the other.
"I'm a seer."
"She's a powerful seer," Rose clarified.
"Dad says his Grandma Franklin had a gift, so I guess I got it from her," Casey explained.
"Wow," Brenda said softly.
"There are times I'd love to just turn it off. At least for a little bit. Especially when we have downtime. There's nothing more annoying than having a couple of days off, and having to race to the SGC to pass on some tidbit of information," Casey huffed. She cocked her head sideways. "I suppose the only way to get a bit of peace would be to have all of the teams down at the same time...I'd never want to miss any downloads that are important for protecting them. Sometimes I wish I were omnipotent...then I'd know everything that's going to happen, and it wouldn't interfere with my days off!"
Rose smiled. "You'd be bored in a matter of hours."
"Bet I wouldn't be!" Casey retorted.
"Do you get a lot of time off?" Brenda asked.
"Not enough. I still want a couple of days to go to Denver. Just me and Daniel locked away in a hotel room...no interruptions of any kind," Casey sighed. Determined to make her request as soon as the team had returned from their mission. Wondered briefly if her teammates were dreaming...encountering loved ones, being given the opportunity to say things that needed to be said, to ask the questions that burned in their hearts. "We...the team that is...went on a three week vacation." She purposely left out the part about the fact that the entire trip to Seattle had been so that Daniel could confront Helen Webster. She'd begun to find healing that day. But it wasn't something she wanted to discuss...not here, not now. "We had so much fun! Well, except for the part where we found out about Tem," she added.
"Tem?" Brenda raised one delicately shaped eyebrow.
"Goa'uld. They're parasites. Jack calls them snakes, but I really think they look more like a nasty eel," Casey explained. "They're arrogant and annoying and determined to control the universe. We're putting one hell of a wrinkle in their plans."
It was impossible not to chuckle at the look of smug satisfaction that settled on Casey's lovely face. "From what I hear, you're doing more than that," Rose said.
"We're trying. It would help if they'd all just stand still long enough for us to pick them off, but they won't do that. We just got rid of Nirrti." Casey shivered slightly. "I can't even begin to describe the pain and horror that bitch caused. Janet and Cassie are going to be thrilled to learn she's dead."
"Is what you do...dangerous?"
Casey studied her mother. Just how much did Brenda know? Just by the simple fact of being a resident on that plane of existence...the plane inhabited by those who had crossed over (given that she was sitting here, and knew for a fact she wasn't dead, she was fairly certain they were on the level of 'dreamers' at the moment)...she knew that her mother had to have some idea of what was happening. But if she didn't know particulars, would it be kinder to avoid going into details that her mother just didn't need to hear?
"Casey?" Brenda prompted, waiting for a response.
"Sometimes," the young seer admitted.
Rose turned her head, blinked back tears. She was aware that she probably knew more about what was happening in Casey's life than her mother...Eloise was a regular visitor. Even though her old friend couldn't tell her everything, certainly not details, their conversations always gave her enough information to fill in any blanks. She knew about the torture that Casey had endured. The time she'd spent on the astral plane as a prisoner of a rebel Ascended Being.
Casey didn't miss the action, and surmised that the connection between her Spirit Guide and her grandmother left the latter fully informed. "It's our job...it's what we're supposed to be doing," she said quietly.
"I know," Rose replied. "But The One is a target for a lot of anger and hatred."
"I know," Casey sighed. "The thing of it is, as long as those who'd try to hurt innocent people are focused on us, they're not hurting anyone else."
"That's an interesting way of looking at the situation," Rose mused.
Casey shrugged. "Keeps me from just saying the hell with it, crawling into bed and pulling the covers over my head."
Brenda toyed with her teacup. "Does your father know what you do?"
Casey grinned. "Yep. His company does a bit of security work for the SGC."
"Then he must be worried about you constantly!"
"Only when we're off-world," Casey replied flippantly...her smile preventing the words from being too sharp.
"We travel through the Stargate. It opens a stable wormhole between 'gates, and there are gates on bajillions of planets," Casey responded. She ignored her grandmother's snicker of amusement.
"Oh, wow! That's incredible!"
Excitement lit Casey's green eyes. "All you have to do is step into the event horizon, which looks like water, only it's not wet, and before you can take another breath...well, I don't suppose you really could because you're traveling through space and that's a vacuum...anyway, a few pretty, flashing lights, a whisper or two, and the next thing you know, you're standing on a planet on the other side of the galaxy! I have no clue how it works, Sam could explain it to you, but I think you really have to be an astrophysicist like her to understand it."
"I'll take your word on it," Brenda smiled.
"There are places that look just like good ol' planet Earth. Other places that are so different that it takes your breath away. There's so much beauty out there. In spite of the nasty things that lurk in the dark, the universe is a beautiful, amazing place," Casey sighed.
"Is there intelligent life out there?"
She couldn't hold back the peals of laughter that shook her from head to foot. "I'm sorry, Mom," she gasped, wiping her eyes. "It's just that there's so much life out there it's mind-boggling. Most of the people we've met were taken from Earth by the Goa'uld. But there are others out there: the Asgard, the Nox, the Tollans. And all of whom are so far advanced that we'll spend centuries catching up to them. All of them are allies, thankfully."
"You've seen so much...done so much..." Brenda shook her head. "I'm so happy for you...so proud of you!"
Casey felt the warmth of her mother's love envelope her...a comforting blanket of emotion that surrounded her. "Thank you," she managed to whisper.
"Eloise tells me that you and Daniel bought a house soon after you were married," Rose said, sensing that the two women beside her needed a chance to back away from the emotions that both were feeling. Both would require time to deal with those feelings.
"It's beautiful! It's a bungalow...built back in the 1930s. There was a move to 'reclaim' the houses in the neighborhood...ours was completely gutted and remodeled. It's my little piece of heaven on earth," Casey said proudly. "I have your dragons in a curio cabinet. We couldn't find one exactly like what I wanted, so it was a special order. It only took a week from the time we ordered it until it was delivered."
"I'm glad you got them. What about the copper pans?" Rose asked.
"Sitting in the cabinet beneath my cook top," Casey reported.
"Dad...er...Frank...made certain that what you intended for me to have, came to me. Including your cookbooks, the china, and the crystal."
"Just be sure to use that china and crystal...don't wait for a 'special occasion'," Rose admonished.
"I don't. Anytime the family...well, the team; we're family of the heart...get together, I use it," Casey promised. "But that's mostly because it has enough place settings for everyone," she added with an impish grin.
"It sounds to me as if you have a very full, exciting life," Brenda said.
"I do. I'm so very blessed, and I know it. I thank the Goddess for those blessings every day," Casey said solemnly. She wrinkled her nose slightly. Smoke...that was most definitely smoke. "Grandma, are you baking anything?"
"No, dear, why?"
"I smell smoke."
Rose and Brenda took deep breaths. Exchanged a look, then shook their heads. "I don't smell it," Brenda said.
"That's odd," Casey murmured. She turned her head slightly. The smoky smell was replaced by a familiar, spicy smell...one that she was intimately acquainted with. And that was odd, too, she decided.
The timer on the narrow glass shelf that hung just above the old white stove chose that moment to ding.
"It's time to go, Sunshine," Rose said gently.
"So soon?" Casey felt a rush of sadness. She felt as if she'd only just arrived! I want more time! There's so much I have to say...to ask!
"I'm afraid so," Rose replied, pushing herself away from the table. "I'm so glad you came to see me, Casey."
Casey rose to her feet. "Me, too." Held tightly when her grandmother hugged her. "I miss you so much!"
"I know, Sunshine."
"I love you."
"I love you, too, honey."
Turning to her mother, Casey was once again enveloped in a warm hug. "I'm so glad I got a chance to meet you."
"Thank you for allowing me to come," Brenda said, her voice filled with tears. "I've always loved you, Baby...always."
"I love you, too, Mom," Casey replied. The love was there; new and shiny and filled with so much warmth that it brought tears to her eyes.
The two women walked the young seer to the door.
"Will I see you again?" Casey asked.
"I don't know, Sunshine," Rose replied. "I'll always be here, if you need me."
With a nod, and one more hug for her mother and grandmother, Casey wiped the tears from her cheeks, and opened the front door. Stepped out onto the porch...
A A A A A A
"So he lost his son and his wife in less than a year's time?" Carrie asked, marveling at the fact that the man had been able to function in any manner after such heartbreaking events.
Sam nodded. "He was devastated. He told me he's not proud of the fact he crawled into a bottle...but, in all honesty, I think I'd have done the same thing under those circumstances. And he didn't hide in that bottle for long. A few months at the most," Sam added. "He was reactivated shortly after Charlie's death. He had to sober up enough to carry out a mission. It was when he returned that he found out Sara had left him. He admits that he pushed her away...he really left her no choice." Just like he almost managed to push me away. She knew, deep in her heart, that the moment she'd refused to let Jack do to her what he'd done - consciously or not - to his ex-wife, was the moment their relationship had been cemented, their love made stronger than anything life could possibly throw at them.
"So...do you think you and Jack will have a family?" Carrie asked, watching her daughter's eyes carefully.
"Someday. I'd like to have a family, and I think Jack is okay with the idea," Sam admitted. "But...what we do is-"
"It's dangerous," Carrie said bluntly. Obviously not comfortable with that knowledge.
"It can be," Sam said softly. "But what we do is so important, Mom. Everything we go through, is for a reason. And that reason is to protect as many innocent people as we can. To free as many people from Goa'uld tyranny as possible."
"I suppose so," Sam conceded. "But it's our job...and we are making a difference out there."
Carrie reached over and patted Sam's hand. "I'm proud of you, honey. I know what you do isn't easy. But you're doing the job for all the right reasons."
"It can be so exciting," Sam declared. "We're discovering power sources that could completely eradicate the need to use fossil fuels! Advances to what we know about solar and wind power would offer safe, efficient electricity for the entire planet! And could actually provide hundreds, maybe thousands of jobs! Fabrication of the parts needed, replacement parts, maintenance, monitoring stations...the potential is incredible!"
"Will any of these advances be made public?" Carrie asked. "I can't see the oil companies welcoming anything that would threaten their profits."
The question reminded Sam of just how intelligent her mother was, how aware of the world around her Carrie had always been. "It won't happen overnight, but we do have ways of slipping the technology to the rest of the military, and in a couple of cases, to the private sector. We can't give them everything at once, but we can steer them in the direction we need them to go, in order to implement the technologies we've found. Still, it's going to take years," Sam sighed. "The good thing is, more people are starting to demand alternative energy sources. The oil companies might not have as much of a say in what happens as you'd think...or that they want."
"Small steps are better than nothing at all," Carrie mused.
"We're also finding medical advances," Sam said. "We've discovered several plants that offer natural alternatives to chemical compounds. Janet...er...Doctor Janet Fraiser, she's the CMO...anyway, she thinks we've also found at least three new cancer cures. And possibly a lead on a plant derivative that could be used to fight degenerative heart diseases."
"Your work is very important...saving lives, offering feasible technology...I'm so proud of you, Samantha!"
Sam smiled. When her mother used her full name, she meant business. Whether a compliment or a reprimand, there was no questioning any proclamations Caroline Carter made using one's full name. "Thanks, Mom."
"You said that your father is...blended?"
"I guess that would mean he's not totally alone. Still... Is there anyone...special...in his life?" Carrie asked, almost shyly.
"Not that I'm aware of," Sam replied. "Selmak is like a best friend, at least that's how Dad has described the relationship between him and his symbiote. But as far as I know, he hasn't had time to even meet anyone."
"I hate to think of him alone."
"He's been alone for a very long time," Sam reminded her mother gently. "I wasn't even fifteen yet when you...when you left us."
"I doubt that he's been a monk this entire time," Carrie retorted drolly. Held a hand up when Sam would have protested. "I'm not upset. He's a loving, passionate man. I hate thinking he's been completely celibate all this time."
Contemplating her father's love life was something Sam didn't want to do, and certainly not while having a conversation with her mother! "He's always loved you, Mom."
"I know that, honey! I also know that being alone isn't a good thing, for any man or woman. Oh, I realize there are those who are happy being single. But for the majority of us, your father included, having someone special is important. I don't suppose you know any nice women you could introduce your father to?" Carrie asked hopefully.
The incongruity of the situation left Sam momentarily speechless. Her mother was asking her to fix her father up with another woman, to keep his bed warm! "First of all, it would be a bit difficult to explain Selmak to anyone not already associated with the Stargate Program," Sam pointed out. "And secondly, Dad would probably have a fit if I tried to arrange a date for him. And thirdly, I don't know any women his age."
"She wouldn't necessarily have to be his age," Carrie pointed out pragmatically.
"I will not have Dad dating some bimbo!" Sam declared.
Carrie began to laugh. "Honey, if you could see the look on your face right now!"
Her lips began to twitch. "Give me a break here, Mom. How many women have their mothers trying to force them into setting up their fathers in the hopes of getting him laid?"
"Probably not very many," Carrie conceded, still laughing.
"I'll let him know that you're okay with him - moving on. Will that be good enough?" Sam offered.
"It's a start," Carrie acknowledged.
One question that had dogged Sam ever since that horrible day was once again forcing its way to her consciousness. She signaled the waitress, waited until fresh coffee had been poured, watched the pink-clad woman walk away from the table.
"What's on your mind, honey?"
"Who says there's anything on my mind?"
"Whenever you can't look at me, it's because you have a question. And usually it's one you already know that you don't really want the answer to," Carrie replied gently.
"Did you suffer before you died?" Sam blurted, unaware that the words had even been formed until they were left hanging in the air between them.
It was Carrie's turn to look away.
"Oh, god, you did," Sam moaned softly.
"Actually, I didn't really feel much of anything. Maybe a bit of pain at first, but...I remember feeling numb...and then cold," Carrie said slowly. "I didn't want to die." She shook her head, the memories of her death as odd to her now as they had been when she realized she'd 'passed over'. "I remember thinking I couldn't die, I had grocery shopping left to do, and we were completely out of milk and cereal and eggs."
"I was so angry at Dad! If he'd just picked you up like he'd promised-"
"Sam, listen to me," Carrie demanded firmly. "I was fated to die that day. If your father had picked me up, chances are the accident would have seriously hurt him. There was no way you and Mark could have taken care of him and yourselves."
In her time at the SGC, and certainly since a tenderhearted seer had come into her life, Sam understood that the concepts of 'fate' and 'destiny' weren't just metaphysical ideas, but actual facts of the universe. That didn't make the loss of her mother any easier to bear. "I guess I hadn't thought about that," Sam confessed softly.
"You have to forgive your dad, Sam, before you and he can really move forward, and have a strong, healthy father-daughter relationship."
"I have forgiven him!" Sam declared.
Carrie locked her gaze with Sam's. "Have you? In the deepest part of your heart, have you really forgiven him? Can you admit to yourself that his 'failure' to pick me up had absolutely nothing to do with what happened?"
"Had nothing to do with it? Had he picked you up, you wouldn't have been in that cab!" Sam insisted.
"Sam, had he picked me up, we'd still have been in that intersection. If Jake had arrived on time, Wendy and Karen and I would have chatted all the way to the parking lot, and your father and I would have been broad-sided by that drunk! After I called to find out why he hadn't come to get me, I hailed a cab," Carrie said, trying to help Sam come to grips with the truth. "The time I spent calling your father, and hailing that cab, was the same as if I'd walked to our car in the parking lot."
It wasn't easy...her mind was creating scenario after scenario, in a desperate attempt to disprove what her mother was telling her. For one brief moment she thought, with almost hysterical amusement, that she was glad the Game Keeper hadn't put her through replay after replay of that awful day...the day her mother had been killed.
"Sam, what happened was not your father's fault," Carrie said.
She managed to nod, the tears that had filled her eyes spilling onto her cheeks.
"You have to forgive him, honey. Completely."
"I will," Sam promised. Without a doubt she would be wrestling with this new 'knowledge' until she could finally accept it.
"Now, let's finish our coffee, shall we?"
Sam nodded again, raised her cup to her lips. Wondered why it smelled like smoke. She sniffed again. Yep, definitely smoke. Her eyes moved around the room, seeking any possible source for the smell, looking for signs of sparks or fire. Couldn't see anything out of place, no one panicked over something burning in the kitchen. The coffee tasted okay...she took yet another sniff. Nothing...just the rich aroma of coffee.
Carrie glanced at the jeweled watch on her wrist.
"That's the watch Dad gave you for your birthday," Sam noted. He had insisted that her mother be buried with it.
"He shouldn't have spent so much on it. But I've always treasured it," Carrie whispered conspiratorially. "It's getting late, Sam."
"I have to go," Sam said flatly.
"Yes, you do, honey."
She looked out the window. There was a cab waiting at the curb. "I don't want to leave."
"You have a wonderful life to get back to," Carrie smiled. "I'll walk you to the car."
Sam walked arm-in-arm with her mother, stood beside the waiting taxi. "I love you, Mom."
"I love you, too, honey. I'm proud of you, Sam. And I'm always with you. Right here," Carrie said, putting her hand on Sam's chest, above her heart.
With one final hug goodbye, Sam climbed into the cab.
A A A A A A
"Have you defeated many Goa'uld?" Ronac asked.
"Indeed. O'Neill and Daniel Jackson destroyed Ra during their first trip through the Chappa'ai, to Abydos," Teal'c replied.
Ronac hissed a breath. "Ra? Lord Ra was the most powerful System Lord in the Goa'uld Empire."
"Perhaps so, but he was defeated by a handful of Tau'ri, and the ragged slaves of Abydos," Teal'c said, with more than a little glee.
"And others have fallen to the Tau'ri?"
"Cronus was defeated. I watched him die."
There was no need to interpret the look of satisfaction on his son's face. "I am pleased to know I was avenged."
He didn't find it necessary to explain about the android copies of SG-1, or that it was this copy of himself that had fired the kill shot. That Cronus was dead was enough. "Apophis was killed. Hathor destroyed by O'Neill. Marduk, a Goa'uld imprisoned in an ancient structure, was killed. Seth was destroyed at the hand of Major Carter."
"Seth...I do not believe I have heard of this Goa'uld," Ronac said.
"He was abandoned on the First World, as was Hathor. Both were believed by the other Goa'uld to be dead."
"Sokar was killed after a mission to rescue Jacob Carter. He is the father of Major Samantha Carter, and host to the Tok'ra Selmak."
"You have met the Tok'ra?"
"I have. I do not trust them, although Selmak has proven to be honorable."
"And why do you not trust them?" Ronac asked.
"They are too eager to use the Tau'ri to their benefit, with little regard to the consequences. Daniel Jackson was declared dead because of a mission undertaken at the behest of the Tok'ra. Casey Jackson was nearly overcome by her grief."
"He was not dead?"
"No. He was protected by those who watch over him. He is The One, the Champion of the Innocent."
"How can this be?"
"During a routine mission, we discovered an underground cavern...a large temple of Beings of a higher plane of existence. Daniel Jackson was tested, and found worthy. We, my teammates and I, were granted Immortality. Daniel Jackson was chosen to be The One."
"You are Immortal."
It was a comment, not a question. "I am. I no longer have, nor need, a symbiote. The pouch and the opening for the symbiote have been...healed...as well."
"You have been greatly blessed," Ronac said, awe filling his voice.
"If I am, it is because of those with whom I am allied." Teal'c smiled. "Casey Jackson claims we are 'Family of the Heart'."
"You care for this woman."
"She is a very dear friend," Teal'c confirmed. A smile tugged at his lips. "And most mischievous."
Ronac smiled. "As were you, when you were a child."
"With her assistance, I have rediscovered those youthful ways," Teal'c replied. "I have reclaimed much about myself that was lost as First Prime of Apophis."
"Then I owe a debt of gratitude to Casey Jackson."
"As do I," Teal'c replied softly. "Anubis was killed by Daniel Jackson, using the power granted to him as The One."
"Then these Tau'ri are indeed formidable."
"Indeed. So many minor Goa'uld have been killed that I cannot recall all of their names."
"Then the hope that the Goa'uld Empire will be destroyed is a valid one."
"We will not stop until we succeed," Teal'c vowed firmly.
"Of this I have no doubt. I have much to be proud of," Ronac said, scanning the horizon. "That my son would lead Jaffa to freedom fills my heart until it feels as if it will burst."
"That I honor you...your memory," Teal'c corrected himself, "brings much happiness to my heart."
Ronac pushed himself up, stood to his feet. "Time grows short. Let us walk to the old temple together."
With a nod, Teal'c rose from where he had been sitting. "I do not even remember the god to whom the temple was built. It was not Cronus."
"No, not Cronus. Although many praises to Cronus were carved there," Ronac said.
"They were only to prevent him from destroying the temple," Teal'c said, memories undisturbed for years moving to the forefront of his mind.
"As long as he was unaware of the true nature of the temple, he could not find offence in the fact that so many Jaffa prayed there."
"It is to the old gods, the gods of the free Jaffa."
"Perhaps I was more shol'va in my thoughts than I ever allowed myself to believe," Ronac said. "My words, my actions, influenced you when you were but a child, not old enough to understand the ways of the universe, and those who claim to be gods."
"Then I owe you a great debt. Had the doubts not already been lurking in my heart, Bra'tac's words would not have turned me from Apophis, and the false gods known as Goa'uld," Teal'c replied.
The grass on the field that the two men crossed was tall, and fragrant with the clumps of tiny white flowers that grew randomly. Ronac leaned over to pick one of the miniature buds. "Your mother loved these flowers. She would weave them in her hair." He closed his eyes, breathed deeply.
Teal'c plucked on of the flowers as well, held it to his nose, as images of his mother, the white flowers tucked among her long, dark waves of hair danced in his mind. He frowned. Smoke. Once again he smelled smoke. Instinctively his eyes searched for any source for that smell, expecting to see flames shooting skyward. Nothing. As before, there was no sign of smoke, or fire, anywhere in sight. Another breath, and the fragrance of the flower filled his nostrils.
"Our time together has come to an end," Ronac said.
"I will wish you well, Teal'c. You are a fine Jaffa. A brave warrior. A leader among men. You honor my name."
Tears filled his dark eyes once again. "Your words honor me," Teal'c said, his voice hushed, full of the emotions he struggled to retain control over.
Cresting the slight hill, the temple was only a few feet away. The older Jaffa looked at the battered structure. "I believe I will pray. And thank the true gods for sparing my son's life from the hands of the Goa'uld. And for blessing him in such a manner as they have."
"I would ask that you offer my thanks as well," Teal'c said.
"I will do so," Ronac promised. He hesitated for a moment, then pulled his strapping son into his arms. "My heart is filled with my love and pride for you."
"As mine is for you," Teal'c responded, holding his father tightly. He turned to follow the path, looking over his shoulder to see Ronac watching him. He raised a hand in farewell, nodded when his father followed suit. The path seemed less treacherous than it had when he'd climbed it earlier...
<<Previous | Story Intro | Return to Stories | Next >>