Summary: Sam reaches Atlantis, and Cassie arrives in London
Janet couldn't bear to watch Sam's departure from the 'gate room, or even the observation room. She knew it would be too much for her to bear, and she also knew that it would only make it harder on Sam, and that was the last thing she wanted to do.
So she sat in her office, watching Sam leaving on the small monitor she had had installed so as to gain advance warning of incoming medical emergencies. Sam was so strong, and so brave, as she stepped on to the ramp. She must have known Janet was watching from her office though; after shaking hands with the general, she gave a quick glance up at the camera that fed the CCTV system and gave a quick, brave smile. This went unnoticed by anybody in the 'gate room, but Janet, who knew it was just for her, saw it and knew its meaning. Her breath caught in her throat; she thought her heart would break as Sam stepped through the wormhole. At the same time, though, she had never been so proud of her lover, who was doing the right thing but was sacrificing so much in the doing of it.
Janet swallowed and looked down at her hands, unsurprised to see them shaking. She knew she was on the verge of losing control of her emotions. So preoccupied was she in trying to regain control of herself that she didn't notice the soft knock at the door, nor did she see General O'Neill come in. It was only as he put a gentle hand on her shoulder that she started, noticing him for the first time.
"You okay Doc?" he asked, none of the usual abrasiveness in his voice.
Janet sniffed. "I'm fine," she lied.
"Yeah, looks that way to me too," he smiled understandingly. "C'mere," and he wrapped her in his strong arms. "She'll be back, sooner than you know it," he said soothingly, rubbing his hand over her back as she started to weep. "And she'll probably get into much less trouble there; fewer missions, not so hands-on. She's 'The Man' now, remember? 'The Man' hardly ever gets hurt."
"I know," Janet's voice was muffled. "I just want her here. With me. Where I can keep her safe."
"That's one thing about being with somebody like Carter," he told her softly, "she's not the sort of woman you can keep safe. But she's a remarkable person, the best soldier I've ever served with. She'll be fine, Doc. C'mon, let's get you home, you look like you haven't slept for a week."
Janet shook her head. "Can't," she said miserably. "I'm on duty for another two hours."
"Not any more you're not," O'Neill said. "I've cleared it with Landry. I'm giving you a ride back right now," Janet tried to interrupt, "Danny's following in your car. It's all arranged. You going to argue with a superior officer?" he tried to lighten the atmosphere.
"No Sir," Janet tried to smile. "I guess not."
So he led the shaken medic to his truck and settled her in the passenger seat. He reached round to the back seat, and brought out a warm soft blanket which he wrapped round Janet's shoulders. "Thank you Sir," Janet's voice was small.
"One thing, Doc," O'Neill said, "it's Jack. When we're off duty. We've been friends for long enough, wouldn't you say?"
"Okay, Jack," Janet found using his first name easier than she would have expected. "In that case it's Janet."
"Okay, Janet," O'Neill smiled. "Let's hit that road."
Within 40 minutes, he was drawing up to her house. Janet was almost asleep, rousing only as the engine turned off. O'Neill was at her door in seconds, and offered her his arm as they made their way up to the front porch. She took it gratefully; the emotions of the past few days, combined with the lack of sleep the night before, were all beginning to catch up with her, and she felt distinctly wobbly.
As he settled her on the couch, Daniel arrived in Janet's car. "See if you can find something for the doc to eat," O'Neill asked him. "I'll bet you missed lunch today in all the excitement, am I right Janet?" he asked.
Janet nodded. "Not real hungry," her voice wasn't much above a whisper.
"Something plain then," O'Neill was firm. In less than ten minutes, Daniel emerged with a bowl of oatmeal. Janet managed almost two thirds of this before she pushed it to one side. She was drained and just wanted to sleep. So the guys walked her upstairs, even though she was more than capable of managing that on her own. "Want help undressing?" O'Neill asked her cheekily, winking as he spoke.
"Think I've got it covered, Jack," Janet told him. "Thanks though, guys, I don't know what I'd do without you."
At that moment, the doorbell rang. "That'll be Teal'c," O'Neill said. "Let him in Danny."
"Guys, what's goin' on?" Janet asked.
"We're staying. Just tonight, don't worry, we're not moving in. But I promised Carter we'd stay tonight, just in case there's anything you need. Anyway, who's going to give Toby his evening walk if Teal'c doesn't?" O'Neill asked.
"You're sweet, but there's no need, really," Janet protested.
"I'm sure you're right, but I don't have the courage to explain to a pissed-off Carter why we didn't do what she asked. Do you Danny?" Daniel shook his head. "Teal'c?"
"It is my understanding that Colonel Carter's instructions were not in any way ambiguous," intoned the huge alien who by then had also come upstairs. "I would not wish to countermand her orders." He smiled slightly at this statement, but Janet knew they were immovable, so she gave in.
"Okay," she said, oddly reassured at their presence, and also moved by Sam's thoughtfulness at ensuring that she would not be alone on her first night. She only wished that Sam had someone at Midway, but she knew that she was alone there. "There are spare blankets in the cupboard, there are beds in the two guest rooms, the couch..."
"Ack!" O'Neill put his hands in the air. "We've got it covered Doc. Janet, I mean," he amended. "Sleep now. And we're here if you need us. For anything."
Janet smiled her thanks, and closed the door. She changed swiftly, used the bathroom, and sank gratefully into the soft bed. She could still smell Sam's shampoo on her pillow, so she clutched this to her chest and settled down for the night.
Despite her exhaustion, sleep did not come easily to Janet, and when it did, it was plagued with nightmares. Twice she woke up sobbing, and on both of those occasions, she found herself in soft, strong male arms, soothing her back to sleep. She didn't even know which of they guys it was, but she was grateful for their kindness. Finally, she was overtaken by sleep around 2300hrs, and the rest of the night was undisturbed.
When she stumbled downstairs at her usual working hour of 0630hrs, she was surprised, and delighted, to find all the guys sitting in her kitchen, drinking coffee, eating donuts (courtesy of Teal'c who had made an early-morning excursion to acquire them), and laughing. She drank some coffee, ate a donut despite her sarcastic remarks about healthy breakfasts, and went upstairs to shower and dress. This left her twenty minutes to check her computer. She didn't imagine that Sam would have had time to email her, but just in case she wanted to look.
She was thrilled when her computer beeped, and she saw an email from 'email@example.com'.
" the email began.
"Well I've made it to Midway, safe and sound. It's kinda weird, being here, like I'm in suspended animation, waiting for my new life to begin.
But it's good, to have this time to think and take stock of all that's important in my life. I'm excited about this new challenge, and I'm going to do my utmost to be the best leader that I can. Atlantis is an amazing place, and it's doing a lot of good work. I hope, and pray, that I'm up to the job of leading the expedition, and that I won't let them, or you, down. I'm certainly going to try.
I've been away from you a total of four hours, and already I hate looking up and not seeing you there. Everything seems kinda grey without you. But I'm not really without you; you're with me in my every thought, my every deed. And in three weeks you'll be with my in my arms too. So I know that I can do this, that we can do it. We'll make a success of this new chapter, and when the chapter comes to an end, we'll be even stronger.
I'm feeling strong now, baby, and that's because I know I have you behind me, every step of the way. I couldn't do something like this without you; knowing that you are there makes everything possible. And, of course, I'm with you in all you do, too. I don't think I'll ever understand how you manage to deal with the responsibilities of the infirmary, all day every day, with the health of everybody at the SGC on your shoulders -- to say nothing of all the aliens you've had to treat over the years. I'm in awe of you. You are an extraordinary woman.
I'm going to try and sleep now, honey; I'm just about to take the sleeping pill, I swear. It'll be tomorrow by the time you see this email, so I hope that you managed to sleep too? I'm so sorry I kept you awake that last night, it was selfish of me to want to spend every last moment with you. I hope you didn't mind me sending the guys round last night; I couldn't bear to think of you on your own.
All my love, sweetie, to you and to Cassie.
Janet read the email three times, then wiped her eyes and made her way downstairs again. She was surprised to see the kitchen empty.
"See you at the SGC! J O'Neill"
read the note on the table. She was glad, she wanted this time to herself in her car on the way to work. And of course she'd need the car to come home later, so it was all good.
= = =
Janet had been at work for nearly two hours when the infirmary 'phone rang. "Fraiser," she barked into the mouthpiece.
"Mom!" Cassie's voice sounded as close as if she were in the next room. "How are you?"
Janet smiled with delight at the sound of her daughter's voice.
"I'm great, Cass, how are you? And WHERE are you, more to the point?" Janet asked.
"I'm great too, Mom. I'm in Scotland. Well, I'm on the train leaving Scotland at the moment. I'm going to stop at Liverpool on the way down, and then I'm gonna spend six weeks in London. If I can get work, that is. It's going great, Mom, Scotland's so beautiful. And I'm very excited about London," Cassie was bubbling over with enthusiasm.
"That's good to hear, Cass," Janet said with real warmth. "I'm so pleased it's all going well. Tell me, have you made any friends yet?"
"I've met some real nice people, and I've got a few numbers. Nobody from London unfortunately, but I've found somewhere to stay using the internet. Cheap and clean, can't ask for more than that!"
"True enough," Janet laughed.
"Enough about me," Cassie said, "how was yesterday? Have you heard from Sam? Is she okay?"
"Yesterday was tough," Janet admitted. "But Sam made the guys stay over with me last night, and they were great. They're like a family, aren't they? And yes, I got an email from Sam this morning. She sent it from Midway, so there's not much to report yet. But she was sounding good, strong and ready for the job. She sent her love to you."
"Well you send her mine when you next speak or email, won't you? Tell her I think she's amazing. I think both of my moms are amazing, actually. Look, I'd better go Mom. I'll call you tomorrow, okay?"
"You don't have to call every day, honey," Janet told her, "I'm okay, I really am."
"Hey, it's no problem. Anyway," Cassie laughed, "I'm not the one paying the 'phone bill!" It was true, Sam had forced her to accept the cellphone and told her to use it all she wanted, she would pay for it. Cassie had been reluctant at first, wanting to be truly independent, but she realized it was really more for Sam's and her mom's peace of mind, so she had agreed. "You're really okay though?" her tone was concerned.
"I'm fine, sweetie. I miss her, terribly, but I'm okay. And so is she. And so are you, by the sound of it. You be careful out there, Cass?"
"I will, Mom, I swear," Cassie said. "I'll speak to you tomorrow."
= = =
Cassie had greatly enjoyed her times in Ireland and Scotland, and was now looking forward to exploring all of London and its environs. She had provisionally decided to spend six weeks living and, she hoped, working in London. From there, she could not only explore the city, but also hoped to take day trips out from there to major tourist attractions such as Bath, Stonehenge, Stratford-upon-Avon and more. All would depend, of course, on whether she could make it financially viable, but she was optimistic.
= = =
When Sam stepped through the wormhole into Atlantis, she knew she had made the right decision. The team was a good one, even, God bless him, McKay, who was just as irritating as she had remembered. His arrogance was tempered this time with a certain obnoxious obsequiousness, which she hoped soon to eliminate. Even more irritating was his ongoing crush on her, which used to be amusing but was now beginning to wear rather thin. But he was a brilliant scientist, she had to admit that.
Not everybody welcomed her with open arms, however; she knew she was going to have to earn Ronon's trust. She also felt that Teyla wasn't yet completely at ease with her position of command, though she felt that she would at least be open to her suggestions. Sam didn't mind that, she was used to earning respect, and had never yet failed to make a positive impression.
"My darling Janet,"
Sam wrote in her by-now daily email.
"Well it's been six days, hon, and it's going okay. How are things with you? Daniel tells me they've persuaded you to go to dinner with them this weekend, I hope you're not going to change your mind? Just look out for Teal'c, he'll refuse to go anywhere that doesn't have strawberry cheesecake on the menu. At least they aren't inviting you for 'movie night', I think Teal'c probably seen Star Wars thirty times by now, but it's still top of his list."
Janet chuckled at this.
"I'm missing you so much sweetie, but it's just over two weeks now until I feel your arms around me, and that's got to be worth waiting for.
I really like the team they have here. They are still, understandably, wary of me, but that's a good sign. I'm not sure I'd have wanted to work with people who didn't worry at all about the loss of a leader like Elizabeth. They're good people, loyal and brave. Rodney's still driving me crazy, but that's only to be expected. He's actually really good at his job, and while I've already had to bite my tongue and force myself not to interfere, he does talk a lot of sense -- scientifically at least. He's stopped following me around like a lost puppy, thank God, but I think it's going to be a while before he gets over his crush. He's crazy, he's the only one here who knows I'm gay; you'd think he'd have given up by now. God sure loves a trier!
I'm hoping your week's going well, and that you haven't had too much to deal with in the infirmary. Are you sleeping, baby? I am, most of the time, though it's not the same without you beside me. It's the early mornings that are the hardest, when I turn over and reach out for you, and you're not there. But I'm keeping well, and feeling strong. There's a lot of work to do here, and I'm enjoying the challenge. Thank you, sweetie, for persuading me to come.
Just promise me that you're taking care of yourself? I love you so much, and am praying that you're well and happy.
All my love, as always.
= = =
Cassie arrived at London's Euston train station euphoric and full of excitement. She had always wanted to see the city and now, she hoped, she was going to spend six weeks there.
She lost no time in booking into a cheap hostel that she had researched on the internet. She had decided it was sensible to pre-book for three nights, so that at least she had somewhere to stay while she explored other options.
To start with, the transport system in the bustling city was a bit unnerving; there was nothing quite like London's Victorian subway stations in Colorado Sprints. She soon got the hang of it, however, having had some practice in New York at the beginning of her trip.
So on the afternoon of the first day, Cassie found herself in Covent Garden in London, a place she'd heard much about, but had never seen. The day was warm and sunny and dry -- something she had not been expecting, having heard much about the country's reputation for rain -- and she was entranced by the hustle and bustle of the place. She sat down in the middle at a small cafe, and enjoyed watching the street theater that was a renowned feature of the area.
After finishing her coffee, she got up and started to explore. She hadn't gone far when she came across an old-fashioned bookstore in one of the side streets. Cassie was a sucker for books, and could never resist bookstores. This one was even more exciting, as it seemed that all the books it contained were second-hand, and some of them very old by the look of it. She was just looking through one of the shelves, when she came across a very old, leather-bound copy of Jane Austen's novel Emma. She exclaimed with joy; this was Sam's all-time-favorite book, and she never went anywhere without a copy. But Cassie had never seen a copy as beautiful as this one, with its thick, cream pages and soft leather binding.
She heard an English voice behind her. "Are you an Austen fan too, then?"
She turned and saw... well, quite possibly the most beautiful girl she had ever seen. The girl had delicate features, light, coffee-coloured skin and a huge quantity of hair cascading down her back in corkscrew curls. She also had an amused expression on her face. Cassie realized she was staring and hadn't replied.
"Wha'?" she stuttered. Then she grinned. "Actually no, it's not for me. But I know someone who would love this, I think I'm gonna get it for her as a gift."
The girl smiled. "Well you can never go wrong with Austen, that's what I always say. Your friend obviously has good taste."
"She's not my friend. Well, she is. She's sort of my adoptive mom," Cassie knew she was gabbling now. She laughed at herself. "I'm making no sense. But I'd like to take the book. Do you work here?"
"For my sins," the girl replied, with a laugh. "For the next two months, anyway. My Uncle Joe owns the shop, and I'm just here before I head off to Japan for four months. I'm helping him stock-take, so I spend my day covered in dust, climbing up and down ladders and moving books in and out of boxes. Hundreds of boxes," she sighed dramatically, and then grinned.
"Sounds fun!" Cassie laughed.
"It can be," the girl replied, "and I love books, so it's a good stop-gap for me." She took Cassie's money for the book, and wrapped it carefully. Cassie loved the way her hand unwittingly stroked the soft leather; she had clearly been telling the truth when she said she loved books.
"But tell me," the girl adopted a mock strict look as she handed over the package, "don't tell me you're not an Austen fan. You look to me like the sort of person who couldn't live without Jane Austen!"
Cassie shook her head in shame. "I know, I know," she grinned. "Sam keeps trying to get me to read some, I just never seem to have found the time. I will one day, Sam's usually right."
"Sam's your adoptive mother?" the girl asked. Cassie nodded. "Well I'm sure she'd agree that it's about time you discovered Jane. Here," she turned behind her, and rummaged in her huge shoulder back that was behind the desk. After a minute or two, she triumphantly pulled out a dog-eared paperback. "Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen's first published novel. Take it," she pushed it toward Cassie. "Spend a couple of hours with it, and then come back and tell me you don't love the writing."
Cassie beamed with pleasure; she was entranced by this charismatic girl, and was thrilled to have an excuse to come back and visit her. "How d'you know I'll come back?" she asked with a twinkle in her eye.
"Oh, you've got an honest face!" the girl replied. "Make sure you read the introduction," she said, "that'll help it to make sense to you. But give it at least two hours, you need to tune into the language. After that you'll be hooked, I'm sure."
"I'll bring it back tomorrow," Cassie said. "I swear. Are you here all day?"
"I should be; if not, you can always leave it with Uncle Joe. One or the other of us is always around."
Cassie decided she was going to like London.
Next: Somewhere To Live