Summary: Anna's trip to the States isn't as straightforward as she had hoped.
"You okay?" Sam asked a nervous-looking Anna as they moved forward in the queue to check in at the airport. "I know you don't like flying. Want Janet to give you something?"
Anna shook her head. "I'm okay, Sam, thanks," she said. "I know it'll be okay. I'll just be glad when it's over!"
Sam smiled understandingly. "Fair enough. If it would help, I can explain all about what's happening when we're in the air, so you understand it all."
Anna smiled. "Yeah, that would be good," she nodded, "would probably make it less scary."
"Okay then," Sam said, "first you need to know all about how the plane stays in the air. Put in the very simplest terms, planes have to overcome gravity to fly. Gravity is a force that pulls planes toward the Earth. So in order to fly, a plane's wing must create a lifting force that is stronger than gravity. The lift is made by the air pressure over and under the plane's wing. As a plane moves forward, the air moving over the curved top of the wing travels farther than the air moving under it. It also travels faster. This makes the air pressure above the wing drop. Then the stronger pressure under the wing lifts the plane. In order to lift, the plane needs to move. The engine makes the plane move forward so it can take off. To climb, or go higher, the pilot increases the engine power. To descend, or go lower, the pilot decreases the engine power. To turn, the pilot banks the plane. Does that make sense to you?" out of the corner of her eye, Sam caught Janet smirking. "What?" she demanded.
"It's nothing, honey," Janet grinned. "It's just you. When you get started on one of your long-winded explanations. You forget that we lesser mortals have trouble keeping up with you!"
Anna joined in the laughter. Janet was right, she hadn't really understood Sam's explanation. But yet again she had seen, and understood, the close and easy relationship between Sam and Janet and it warmed her heart. Her friendship with the two women had been unexpected, but she rejoiced in it. She didn't know if they would ever track down Cassandra, and even if they did, she had no idea if there would ever be the chance of a relationship between them, but she was glad she had Sam and Janet in her life.
= = =
"See?" Sam took Anna's arm as they made their way down the steps of the aircraft after it had landed. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"
Anna smiled; she was still a little shaken, but was happy and relieved it was all over.
"Leave the poor girl alone," Janet scolded, "you're never gonna persuade her that flying is the best form of transport. However hard you try."
Sam grinned. "Hey, you can't blame a girl for trying."
= = =
"So where shall I put these bags?" Anna asked as they arrived at Janet's house.
Janet laughed. "In here," she said, opening the front door. "Just sling them in the hallway, we'll unpack later. First," she said, with a grin, "first I'm gonna make us all a strong coffee. We've got to stay up for the rest of the day or we'll never readjust. Coffee should help."
Janet showed Anna round the house, and opened the door to the largest spare room. "This is your room, Anna, for as long as you want it," Janet said warmly. "I know your family will be here soon to take you away, but you'll always be welcome here, any time."
Impetuously, Anna flung her arms round Janet's neck. "Thank you," she said, touched by Janet's thoughtfulness. "I know I haven't known you and Sam long, but your friendship is so important to me."
Janet returned the hug. "We both love spending time with you Anna," she told her, "it's like a breath of fresh air in the house."
Janet left Anna unpacking upstairs, and made her way down to the living room, where she saw Sam picking through the CD collection.
"Hey," Janet said softly, not realizing Sam hadn't heard her and accidentally startling her. Janet put her hand on her arm. "Sorry," she said, "didn't mean to frighten you." She looked up at Sam's face, and was shocked to see tears forming in her eyes. "Sam?" she asked. "What's the matter, hon? Are you okay?"
Sam tried to pull herself together. "I'm fine, Jan," she whispered, "I just didn't realize you would have kept all these." She gestured to the collection of CDs, half of which she recognized as Janet's, and half of which were hers. Or to be more accurate, the 'other' version of Sam. In her previous timeline, she and 'that' Janet had the exact same collection.
Janet swallowed. "Couldn't bring myself to give them away," her voice cracked. "Couldn't listen to them either, though. How crazy is that? I used to fall apart whenever I heard any Bach played; it was just too painful. It just made me think of what I had lost. What she had gone through. How she had sacrificed herself for others. I don't know if I could listen even now."
Sam enveloped her in a tight embrace. "You don't have to listen, baby," her voice was tender. "Not now, not ever if you don't want to. I don't have to hear it. All I care about is being with you. And finding Cassie, if we can. Nothing else matters."
"Not even Bach?" Janet tried to joke.
"Not even Bach," Sam replied firmly. And she kissed Janet tenderly and led her to the couch. Janet snuggled into Sam, wrapping her arms round her waist, and lowering her head into her lap. "No sleeping, remember?" Sam nudged Janet gently. "We've got to get over the jet lag."
"No sleeping," Janet agreed dreamily. "Jus' want to hold you. For a while."
"That's okay then," Sam's eyes were closing.
= = =
Twenty minutes later, Anna descended the stairs, having unpacked and settled herself in. She walked into the living room, and was entranced by the sight of Sam stretched out on the long couch, Janet curled like a baby kitten into her side. Sam's strong arms were tightly wrapped round Janet, and both women were sound asleep. Her breath caught in her throat, as she realized that she would give an awful lot to have a relationship like that one enjoyed by her two new friends. She was loath to wake them up, but she knew they had wanted to stay up until the evening came, to give them a chance to readjust and to get over the jet lag. So she went into the kitchen, and made a strong pot of coffee. She took the tray and put it on the table in the living room. She went over to the couch and shook Sam's shoulder gently. "Huh?" Sam's voice was thick with sleep.
"Sorry," Anna said, "but I thought I'd better wake you. I made coffee," she smiled, "Janet said we should drink coffee to keep us awake until this evening!"
Sam grinned. She nudged Janet. "Hey, sleeping beauty," she said, and grinned as Janet blinked owlishly. "Anna brought us coffee."
Janet smiled. "Now that's the sort of house guest I like. You should come stay more often Anna!" and she sat up and gratefully took the steaming mug.
= = =
"You should probably call your parents, Annie" Sam reminded Anna as they ate dinner early that evening.
"I did," Anna said, "after I'd unpacked, while you two were napping!" she couldn't resist the dig. "They're going to be here in four days," she sounded excited at the prospect of seeing them again. "I can't wait for you to meet them. And Izzie. You'll love Izzie, she's wonderful."
"Are they okay?" Janet asked. "Have they been having a good time?"
"Yeah," Anna smiled, "they're all great. Izzie's loving it, says she wants to move out here permanently!"
Sam smiled. "Talking of living here permanently," she took Janet's hand, "I'm gonna talk to the authorities. I'm going to tell them I'm leaving Washington."
"What about your apartment?" Janet asked, irrelevantly.
"Oh crap, that's a point," Sam tried to keep a straight face. "How could I possibly leave the apartment? Especially for something as trivial as moving in with the love of my life. You're right Janet, I'm just going to have to stay there."
Janet grinned, and swatted her affectionately. "Okay, so that was a stupid thing to say," she looked a bit sheepish. "So you're really going to tell them you're moving here?"
"I sure am," Sam said firmly. "And if they don't like it, I'll threaten to spill the beans about the Stargate program. They won't have a problem with it. It's not like I'm moving to be near Daniel, or Cameron. They don't know about any relationship between us in my old timeline, and I'm sure as hell not going to tell them."
"So what *are* you going to say to them, Sam?" Janet asked.
"The truth," Sam said, seriously. "I'm going to tell them I'm in love. And I have to be with my lover. The most important woman in the world to me. This one's non-negotiable."
Anna grinned broadly. "That's so great!" she beamed. "You two should always be together."
"We always will be, Annie," Sam told her. "We always will be."
= = =
"I'm turning in," Anna said at 9pm that night. "I don't know about you two, but I'm done in."
"Sleep well," Janet called; she was back on the couch with Sam, and was too comfortable to get up. Sam waved affectionately at her.
"She's a great kid, isn't she?" Sam ran her hand through Janet's soft hair.
"Hardly a kid," Janet reminded her. "She's 27, remember?"
"Yeah," Sam mused. "Hey," she grinned suddenly, "you remember the year you hit 27?"
"I sure do, Sam," Janet's smile was slow and lazy. "That was the best year of my life. That's the year I met the love of my life."
= = =
"So," Sam said over breakfast three days after they all returned. "What about visiting Kathryn this afternoon? She'd love to meet you Annie."
"Kathryn?" Anna asked.
"My mom," Janet told her. "She's in a retirement complex not too far from here. I'm sure she'd really like to see you Anna, but you don't want to spend your time meeting my mom, I'll bet you've got other plans."
Anna smiled. "I'd love to meet her," she said with feeling. "If she's anything like you Janet, I'm sure to adore her."
"She's *just* like Janet," Sam grinned. "Only shorter."
"Shorter?" Anna pretended incredulity. "Surely that's not possible."
Janet grinned. "Don't let her hear you say that. She may be short, but she's pretty scary."
Sam winked. "See what I mean? Just like Janet!"
= = =
Kathryn was enchanted with Anna, and in her turn Anna really enjoyed Kathryn's company. "Hey," Kathryn winked at Anna toward the end of the day. "How about you break me out of here for the evening?"
Janet rolled her eyes. She knew, as well as Kathryn did, that all the residents of the retirement complex were free to come and go as it suited them. They had to sign in and out, but that was only so that in case of a fire there would be an accurate record of how many residents they would need to account for. So she knew that Kathryn was just playing with them all. "Okay, Mom," she said amusedly. "What particular plan of action do you have in mind?"
Kathryn grinned. "I thought I could take you girls out for dinner, what do you say?"
All readily agreed, and they all set off in high spirits. It was nearly midnight by the time they all returned to the home, full of food and wine (except for Sam who was driving) and good cheer.
As they all said goodnight, Kathryn hugged Anna. "You're a great kid," she told her, "come see me again sometime?"
Anna grinned. "I promise," she told her. "I'll bring Izzie next time, she'll want to meet you as soon as I tell her all about you."
= = =
"Mom is such a terrible flirt," Janet laughed, as she buckled up in the front seat of the car on their way back from the retirement home. "Did you see the way she was with that waiter?"
Sam smiled. "Well, it worked, didn't it?" her voice was full of humor. "We got great service, he was real attentive. She had him in the palm of her hand."
Janet grinned. "It's the old Fraiser charm," she replied impishly, "it never fails."
Sam nodded. "You're not kidding there, baby," her tone was wistful. "You Fraiser women just need to smile to get exactly what you want."
"Back at ya, Sam," Janet replied, "right back at ya."
= = =
By the time they got back to Janet's house, it was after one am. "I'll put the coffee on," Janet said as they got through the door, "decaff only though, don't want anybody missing out on their sleep."
"Yes Mom," Sam replied laughing, and she and Anna made their way to the living room. "Hey Annie," she noticed a cellphone on the coffee table. "Isn't this yours?" She noticed the flashing light. "Looks like you have a message."
Anna smiled. "Probably just Izzie, I'll bet she's been having fun and wants to share it with me. Mind if I listen to it?"
"Of course not," Sam kissed her gently on the cheek. She headed to the kitchen to afford Anna some privacy. "Hey baby," she said, putting a soft hand on Janet's shoulder as she poured the boiling water into the cafetiere. "Need a hand?"
"It's all done," Janet smiled, as she put got three mugs out of the closet. "Just needs to brew for a couple of minutes. Hey," she grinned, "I wonder if we can think of something to do until the coffee's ready?"
Sam grinned. "Well Dr Fraiser, I have no idea what you mean," she tried not to laugh.
Janet took Sam in her arms and kissed her very softly. "How about something like that?" her tone was teasing.
Sam laughed. "I think that might be a good place to start," she said, and pulled Janet closer to her, cupping the back of her head and kissing her more deeply.
Janet responded, and was just wrapping her arms round Sam when they heard an "oh no," from the living room, followed by a clattering sound.
"Annie?" Sam was the first to reach the distraught girl. "Annie? What is it?"
Anna was pale; she had clearly had bad news, and had dropped the cellphone on the floor.
"Come sit," Janet said firmly, and led her to the couch. The girl was shaking and almost non-responsive.
Sam picked the cellphone up from the floor. "Can we listen to the message?" she asked Anna.
Anna stared at blankly her for a few seconds, then nodded her head slightly. Sam pressed buttons on the 'phone; she played the message on loudspeaker so Janet could hear what it said too.
"Anna, darling," a female British voice spoke, probably Anna's mom, Sam guessed. "I don't want you to panic. She's going to be alright. I'm sure she's going to be alright," the voice was full of tension. "It's just Izzie. She's had an accident. We were just crossing the road," she stifled a sob, "and a car came out of nowhere. We're at the hospital. They're operating now. Said they have to pin her ankle. Can you come? She'll want to see you. Oh," she clearly remembered she hadn't told Anna where they were. "We're at the county hospital in Bismark, North Dakota. I'm going back in now," Sam heard Carolyn taking a deep breath. "So I'll have to turn the mobile off. I'll call you again when I can. I just want to be there when she wakes up. I love you Anna." The 'phone clicked off.
As Anna heard the message for a second time, a single tear tracked down her cheek.
"Okay," Sam said, taking charge of the situation. "We leave in five. I'll pack a bag for us, and for you Annie. Janet, is there any way you can find out more from the hospital? Janet was already dialing. Sam put her hand on Anna's shoulder. "We'll be there in a little under three hours," she told her in a gentle voice. "It'll all be okay, Annie."
Within five minutes, Sam had packed clothes for them all for a couple of days, and stowed the bags in the trunk of the car. Janet had gotten through to the hospital, and established that an Isabella Ross had been taken in with a bad fracture to the ankle but nothing worse, as far as anyone knew. The surgeon was still operating when they left, but Janet had found out who he was, and was greatly relieved. "He's one of the best in his field," she told Anna reassuringly, "she's in great hands. And I've left a message for them to tell your parents you're on your way."
Janet put a pillow and a blanket in the back seat of the car. "I know you probably won't be able to sleep, Anna," she told her, "but try to rest if you can. You'll need your energy when you get there. It's just a broken ankle, honey," she said gently to the shocked woman. "Izzie's going to be fine."
Anna nodded miserably. "I know," she said in a whisper. "It's just... it's Izzie, She's not used to being on her own. She hates hospitals."
"She won't be on her own," Janet reassured her, "not once she's brought back from Recovery. Your mom and dad will be with her, and you'll be there before she wakes up properly."
= = =
In less than three hours, the car drew up at the hospital. Janet was pleased to see that, contrary to her expectations, Anna had managed to catch some sleep. Janet had kept talking to Sam throughout the journey to help keep her alert, and passed her energy drinks she had brought from the refrigerator.
Within minutes of their arrival, the three women were outside Izzie's private room. Anna tapped gently on the door, and her parents looked up from their daughter's bedside. Anna's mother leapt up and ran out of the room; in seconds, she was hugging her elder daughter tightly. "She's okay, Anna," she said again and again, "she's okay."
Finally the two women separated. Carolyn turned to Sam and Janet. "You must be Anna's new friends," she said, gratitude in her voice. "Thank you so much for bringing her here. Thank you for everything."
Sam smiled. "We're just glad everybody's gonna be okay," she said in a warm voice. "Go to your sister, Annie. We'll be in the relatives room, let us know when she wakes up, huh?"
They watched through the small window in the door as Anna quietly let herself into the room, and settled herself on the chair next to the bed. Very tenderly, she took up Izzie's hand and stroked the fingers gently.
Carolyn turned to Sam and Janet just before heading back in herself. "I'm sorry we had to meet this way," she smiled tearfully, "Anna's told us so much about you both; I can't wait to get to know you properly."
"There's plenty of time," Janet said softly, "we'll talk later."
= = =
Sam and Janet curled up tightly together on the couch in the relatives room. Sam was glad that Janet had thought to bring the blanket from the car, and within minutes they were both sound asleep.
= = =
"So what happened Mum?" Anna asked her mother in a quiet voice. "Izzie's never had problems crossing the road."
"It wasn't her fault," Carolyn told her daughter, "the car came out of nowhere."
And she went on to recount the tale. The family had decided to stop in Bismark on their way see Anna; Izzie had never been a good passenger in the car, so they always tried to keep journeys as short as possible. They found a motel, and set out to get dinner at a nearby pizza restaurant.
Just as they left the motel, however, Roy, Anna's father, remembered that he had left his wallet in the room. He told Carolyn and Izzie to go on ahead, telling them he would meet them there. The road was not busy, but still Izzie and her mother crossed at a pedestrian crossing. They had just stepped out into the road, when a car shot out of nowhere, traveling at high speed slammed into Izzie, and then careered off.
Carolyn's voice shook as she described holding her fallen daughter in her arms, as she screamed in agony. "The ambulance came really fast though," she said. "I didn't think Izzie would let them touch her. But one of the paramedics was really sweet and gentle with her."
She told how the young female EMT approached Izzie, and put her hand gently over one of Izzie's. "Hey," she had said, "that looks kind of nasty."
Izzie looked up at her fearfully, her breath coming in short gasps as she struggle with the pain.
The EMT continued softly. "We can fix that for you, but we're gonna have to get you to the hospital. I'm just going to give you something for the pain," she was already rolling up Izzie's sleeve. "And then we're gonna get you into the ambulance," she saw the panicked look on Izzie's face. "You don't have to go alone. Your mom can come with you. There," she said as she injected her with a hefty dose of morphine. "Stung a bit, huh? That's okay, things'll start to feel a lot better now. So," she smiled at her, "you gonna tell me your name?"
"Izzie," Izzie said in a whisper.
"Okay, then, Izzie," the EMT smiled. "We're going to get a board under you, so's we don't move your ankle too much, and then we'll get you loaded on the wagon, with your mom. Is that okay?"
"Dad?" Izzie whispered. "Where's Dad?" and she looked round. At that moment, her father Roy appeared in view, his face white with anxiety.
Carolyn approached him and took his hand. "It's her ankle," she told him shortly, "nothing worse. We're going straight to the hospital."
= = =
"Oh Mum, Dad" Anna looked agonized. "I can't imagine how horrible that was for you."
"She's going to be alright," Roy piped up, "that's all that matters."
Anna nodded. She then heard her father's stomach rumble. "You hungry Dad?" she asked, remembering that they hadn't made it to the restaurant. "I'll go and find some sandwiches or something. I'll be back in a moment."
Only about two minutes after Anna left the room, there was a knock on the door. Carolyn looked up, assuming her elder daughter had forgotten something. She was very touched to see the face of the kind, young EMT who had been so gentle with Izzie. Carolyn smiled, and gestured to her to come in. "Hi," the girl said shyly. Carolyn estimated that she must be in her early twenties. "I'm just going off duty, and I wanted to check how my favorite patient of the day was."
Carolyn beamed. "You're so kind," she said. "She's doing really well. The operation was a complete success, she woke up briefly after they brought her up here. They say she's going to be completely fine."
The girl smiled broadly. "That's great news, I'm so pleased to hear that. She was so brave when we brought her in."
"You're so sweet to come and ask after her," Carolyn said, "you must deal with so many people every day."
"She made a real impression on me," the EMT answered, "I'm not sure why. I guess Izzie's a very special girl."
Roy smiled. "She is to us, and to her sister. Thank you so much for your caring, Miss....," he realized he didn't know her name.
"Langford," the girl replied. "My name's Langford. Cassandra Langford, though my friends call me Cassie."
Next: Filling In The Blanks