Summary: Sam wonders what seeing Cassie again will be like.
"Tomorrow morning?" Sam couldn't keep the disappointment out of her voice.
"She said she wanted to meet you both properly, and that she couldn't do that in just ten minutes. She wants to make a good impression, Sam," Anna's voice was gentle. "That's got to be a good sign, hasn't it?"
Sam nodded, miserably. "I guess."
Janet looped her arm through Sam's. "It could be a good thing, honey," she peered anxiously at her lover, noting the dark rings under her eyes. "You need to get some sleep. Let's get some dinner, then we can go back to the motel for an early night. You want to be well-rested before meeting Cassie, don't you?"
"Yeah," Sam tried to smile. "Anyway, what's 12 hours? God knows we've waited long enough, another few hours won't kill me. And there's somebody else we need to meet," she tried to put some enthusiasm into her voice. "Do you think Izzie's up to a visit?" she asked Anna. "I don't want to put any strain on her.
Anna's face lit up. "She can't wait to meet you," she said, with a huge grin. "She's been talking constantly about you since I told her we'd become friends. If you're sure you're up to it?" Anna too had noticed that Sam was exhausted.
"Of course we're up to it!" Sam declared. "Lead the way!"
= = =
Anna let herself into Izzie's room. Her mother was sitting by the bed, and she told Anna that her father Roy had just that minute gone back to the motel to catch up on some sleep. "You should go too, Mum," Anna told her. "I'm here now, I'll stay here tonight. You go and rest, Izzie and I'll be fine together, won't we Iz?" she winked at her sister.
Izzie smiled. "Yes," she declared.
"Before you go, Mum, I want you to meet some people, properly this time. How about it Iz, are you up to some visitors?"
"Is it Sam and Janet?" Izzie asked, excitedly. She knew how much these new friends meant to Anna, and she couldn't wait to meet them.
Anna smiled. "Now just how did you guess?" she said in a mock cross voice. "You've ruined my surprise!"
Izzie laughed. "Are they here?" she demanded impatiently. "I want to ask them to sign the cast on my ankle."
"They're just outside the door, shall I call them in?" Anna asked, to which Izzie nodded excitedly.
Sam and Janet came cautiously into the room, and were overwhelmed when Anna's mother Carolyn enveloped them both in a huge hug. "It's so good to meet you properly," she told them, "I'm so sorry about last time. Anna's told me so much about both of you. You've been so kind to her."
"Not kind at all," Sam said, in a gentle voice. "She's been a breath of fresh air in our lives. We've really enjoyed getting to know her. And," she smiled at the girl on the bed, "we've been really looking forward to meeting Isabella, too."
Izzie smiled hugely. "Hello," she said, her voice slow but clear. "Which one are you?"
Anna laughed. "That's Sam, Iz," she squeezed her sister's hand, "and that's Janet," she pointed over at the shorter woman who was still talking to their mother.
"Hi Sam," Izzie said, "Hi Janet. Will you sign my cast?"
"We'd be honored. Is it okay if we call you Izzie?" Sam approached the bed. Izzie nodded enthusiastically.
"Everybody calls me Izzie," she said. "Nobody calls me Isabella. Except Mum when I've done something wrong," she smiled mischievously at her mother. She reached over to the night table, and passed Sam a thick pen. With some difficulty she pulled the covers away from her ankle.
"Nobody else has written anything yet," Sam protested.
"I know," Izzie smiled, shyly. "I want you and Janet to be the first to write on it."
Sam was very touched, and wrote "Much love to my special new friend, Sam xxx", and passed the pen over to Janet, who wrote "Hope you are up and running soon, lots of love, Janet."
Izzie smiled. "I like you," she announced bluntly to them both. "You've been kind to Anna. It's because of you she's not with Tina any more. Tina was horrible."
Anna took her hand. "She was, Iz, you're right. And you're right about how it happened, too. Sam and Janet made it easier for me to leave. Everything's okay now, I swear to you."
"You won't go back with her ever, will you Anna?" Izzie asked her sister.
"I promise you, I'll never get back with her. Whatever happens."
"Good," Izzie announced, and then yawned.
Sam took the hint. "We'll let you get some sleep, Izzie," she said, and kissed her softly on the cheek; Janet did the same thing. "Can we give you a ride back to the motel, Carolyn?" Sam suggested.
"Oh yes, that would be great, thank you," Carolyn told her, "I was going to walk, but it's nice not to have to."
= = =
Back in their room at the motel, Janet took one look at Sam and suggested they 'phone for take-out rather than go out for dinner. Sam readily agreed. Within 20 minutes, Janet took the bag of Chinese from the delivery boy, and the two women sat down to eat. Sam was glad to note that Janet, again, was eating enthusiastically. She was still thinner than she should be, but had filled out quite a bit since Sam found her. Soon she would be back up to normal, Sam realized happily.
"Okay," Janet said half an hour later. "Time for bed, I reckon. We're up early tomorrow, and you really do need to rest, Sam."
Sam nodded, tiredly. "You too, baby," she said.
"I've slept some already, I don't think you have at all. C'mon," and Janet took Sam by the hand and pulled her to her weary feet. She wrapped her arms round her, embracing her firmly. "Go wash up, I'll clear these away," she gestured to the empty take-out boxes.
When Sam returned five minutes later, all the mess had been cleared up, and her nightshirt lay ready for her on the bed. "You're amazing, Jan," she said gratefully. "I love you so much."
"Sleep," Janet said softly, helping her out of her clothes and sliding the nightshirt over her head. "I'll be right back."
Within a few moments, Janet had returned from the bathroom, already changed into her pajamas. She climbed in the bed next to Sam, and snuggled up to her. Sam turned to face her, and pulled her into her arms. "Everything's okay just as long as you're here, baby," her voice was muffled.
"Right back at ya," Janet kissed her softly. "Sleep now sweetie."
= = =
At 5.30am the next morning, Janet awoke, and realized the bed was empty and cold next to her. "Sam?" she called, but there was no answer. She got up and looked in the bathroom. The shower was wet and the towel was damp, so Sam had obviously showered recently. Janet shrugged on her robe, and let herself out of the room. The room opened onto the veranda overlooking the parking lot, and she was relieved to see Sam sitting not far away on the steps, the early morning sun on her face. "Hey," Janet called quietly. "You okay there?"
"Hey Jan," Sam replied. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just didn't want to wake you, you know how I can be in the morning, crashing around the place."
Janet looked closely at her, and was saddened to see that Sam still looked exhausted. "Get much sleep?" she asked, keeping her tone light.
"A bit," Sam replied evasively. "So, today's the day, huh?" she said, changing the subject.
"Yeah, it really is sweetie," Janet sat down next to Sam and laid her head on her shoulder. "You ready for it?"
"As ready as I'll ever be," Sam told her. "How about you baby? How are you doing with all this? It must be weird for you, you didn't know Cassie from the other timeline." Sam looked deep into her eyes. "You really were an incredible mom, you know that?"
"I'll bet you were too, Sam," Janet replied. "And I hope you will get the chance to be again."
Sam's eyes filled with tears. "That's the sixty-four-thousand dollar question, isn't it, Jan?"
Janet put her arm round Sam and hugged her tight. "I'm gonna get showered and dressed, Sam. You need anything?"
Sam shook her head. "No, I'm good," she smiled. "There's no hurry, Jan, we've got plenty of time."
By 6.15am, Janet was showered and dressed. "Hey Sam," she suggested, "since we're both ready, how about we go see Anna and Izzie before we meet Cassie? Anna may even want to join us at breakfast with Cassie, that might make it easier for her, since she already knows Anna a bit. What do you think?
Sam nodded. "I think that's a great idea. We'll ask Annie what she thinks."
Less than half an hour later, Sam gingerly opened the door to Izzie's room, being careful not to wake its occupants. Anna and Izzie were already awake, however, and were talking animatedly.
"Hi Sam!" Izzie's face lit up with a huge smile.
"Hey Izzie, how are you this morning?" Sam replied, as she stepped into the room, followed by Janet.
"I'm okay," Izzie said. "I want to go home though."
Anna reached over and put a reassuring hand on her arm. "I know you do, Iz, and we'll get you out of here as soon as we can. They say they need you here for at least another ten days though. And then it'll be a few weeks before you can fly."
Izzie looked glum.
"Hospital food getting to you?" Janet winked at her. "We'll have to see if we can sneak some take-out to you."
"Is that allowed?" Anna asked, incredulously.
"It is if you know who you need to get on your side on the nursing staff," Janet grinned. "Leave it to me, I've always found it easy to get the nurses to agree with my suggestions."
Izzie grinned back.
"So how are you feeling about your meeting?" Anna was perceptive, and could see that Sam was wired, despite her attempts to appear relaxed.
"I can't wait," Sam admitted. "But I'm still terrified. Suppose it doesn't go well? Suppose she doesn't like us?"
Anna smiled at Sam. "There's no chance of that," she said, gently. "She'll love you as soon as she meets you."
"Annie?" Sam realized she was nervous just asking the question. "I don't suppose you want to join us? We just thought it might be easier for Cassie, as she's met you already."
"I'd love to, Sam," Anna said. "Mum's due here any minute."
"It's okay, Anna," Izzie's voice interrupted. "You don't have to stay until she gets here. I know she's on her way over."
"Are you sure, Iz?" Anna asked her sister. "I don't want you to be scared on your own."
"I'm okay," Izzie said. "Will you stop in and see me after your breakfast though?"
"Of course I will," Anna told her. "I won't be too long Iz." And she bent down and hugged her sister gently. "You've been so brave. I'm very proud of you."
= = =
"Another coffee?" Sam suggested, looking at her watch for the third time in as many minutes.
"I'll get them," Janet told her, "and decaff for you this time, you don't need any more caffeine." She looked sternly at Sam, who had opened her mouth to protest. "Hold your hand out," she said, firmly. Sam did so, and was dismayed to see that her hand was shaking slightly, and she didn't seem to be able to do anything to stop it. "Exactly," Janet said. "Decaff. No, scratch that, I'll get you camomile."
Sam smiled ruefully. "Thanks, Jan," she said.
Janet returned a few minutes later, with coffees for her and Anna, and a camomile tea for Sam. Sam was looking at her watch again. "She's only two minutes late, baby," she said quietly, "and you know an EMT's shift can overrun, it's not like they can leave a patient half-way through."
Sam nodded. "I know," she said. "It's just... I want to see her."
"I know you do, Sam," Janet's voice was soothing. "And it won't be long now."
"No it won't," Anna's voice interrupted them. "There she is." And she waved over to Cassie, who had just entered the coffee shop and was looking round her. She approached the table, and Anna stood up and gave her an impulsive hug. "Cassie," Anna said, "thank you for coming. This," she pointed to Sam, "is Sam. And this is Janet."
"Hi," Cassie said, shyly, and held out her hand, which Janet shook warmly.
Cassie turned to Sam, and stuck out her hand again. Sam took it in both of hers, and looked up at Cassie. "Oh my God," she said, her voice cracking, "you're really here."
"I really am," Cassie's voice was almost as emotional. "Thank you for seeing me."
"Oh God no," Sam said. "Thank you for seeing us. This is incredible. You look amazing."
Cassie had dressed with care; somehow she knew that Sam and Janet were going to be very important in her life, and she wanted to make a good impression. So she was wearing a casual skirt and blouse, but everything was freshly pressed. And she had made an effort to put on a light make-up, which she rarely did, and was wearing light, delicate earrings.
Cassie smiled. "This is weird, huh?" she said. "Anna told me all about the timeline thing. Catherine had told me about how that could happen, but to be honest, I thought that was just Catherine being... Catherine."
"Catherine Langford?" Sam asked. "She brought you up, right, when you came over from Hanka?"
Cassie nodded. "Yeah, she was real good to me. She and her friend Daniel."
"Daniel Jackson?" Sam couldn't believe her ears.
"Yeah, do you know him?" Cassie asked.
"Like a brother," Sam said. "At least, my timeline's version of him. He came over with me, actually. He lost a leg, but he's doing real well. We thought he was going to die, so it could be worse."
Janet interrupted gently. "How about Anna and I get us some more coffee -- and camomile?" she suggested, with a smile. "And something to eat? And then maybe Cassie can tell you what it's been like for her since she came to Earth. And then you tell her what it was like in your timeline. Then you'll both understand each other better."
Sam nodded her agreement. "Is that okay with you Cassandra?" she spoke her name for the first time. "Can I call you Cassie?" she didn't want to take any familiarity for granted.
"Oh please do," Cassie smiled. "That's what everybody calls me. Except Ernest, he always called me Cassandra. Okay, I'll start then, shall I?"
"You know about Nirrti, right?" Cassie asked. Sam nodded again. "Well she basically destroyed everything, I think she killed just about everybody on Hanka."
"She did, Cassie," Sam said, gently, "at least in my timeline. You were the only survivor."
"I thought that was what had happened," Cassie face was full of sadness. "And it's a sheer fluke I survived. I was running from the town, I'd just seen my mom die," her breath hitched. "I didn't know what to do. So I just ran. And I saw the Stargate. I'd seen it before, of course I had. But I didn't really know what it was. And it was active, for the first time ever. I'd never seen that before, and I was so scared. But something drew me to it, to this day I don't know why I did it. But I stepped through it."
"You were all alone?" Sam's heart broke for this poor child who had seen everything and everyone she cared about destroyed.
Cassie nodded. "I just couldn't think what else to do. But as soon as I arrived, I regretted it. It was freezing, ice everywhere. I don't think I've ever been so cold. I thought I was going to die. And if I'm honest, I gave up then. I fell to my knees, and just started to cry. I don't know how long I'd been there, about half an hour, I'd guess, when I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was Daniel. I didn't know that then, of course, but I didn't care. It was another person, and he had a kind face. And he was warm, and caring. He picked me up, and carried me out of ... well, it was a kind of cave. And he took me to a truck on a dirt track. There was snow everywhere, and fencing. I know now that it was a military base in Russia. Then I didn't know, and I didn't care. I was so cold, I just wanted to get warm. So when Daniel passed me to an older woman in the truck, and she wrapped me in a blanket, I just clung to her. That was Catherine, of course. Somehow, they got me out. Daniel's fluent in Russian."
"And 22 other languages," Sam smiled. "Go on."
"I'm still not sure how they did it, but they got me out of there, and down to the docks. They smuggled me onto a cargo ship, and we all hid there for two days before it left. I don't remember too much about that time," she admitted. "I think I was in some sort of shock. I do know I didn't speak for nearly a week. I was so frightened, I didn't know I was on a different planet, and I didn't understand why we were hiding. And then it got worse. The ship left the dock, and I was so seasick, for days and days. They looked after me, they were real sweet with me. But I just wanted my mom."
"Oh Cass," Sam was so sad to hear what her daughter had gone through. "I'm so sorry, you must have been so frightened."
"I was," Cassie said. "But it got better. Eventually, we docked in New York. Then we had to travel by train. That was scary too," she grinned bashfully, "I'd never seen anything like a train. I thought it was some kind of monster. Finally, we arrived in Washington. And Catherine's friend Ernest had friends in high places, so he managed to get me some papers, birth certificate, all that sort of thing. So Catherine looked after me. Said I was her niece's daughter, and that my parents had been killed in a car crash in Toronto where we lived. It was hard, to start with. But Catherine was amazing, she loved me and made me feel wanted."
"She died, though, huh?" Sam's voice was gentle.
"Just over three years ago, Ernest just over a year before" Cassie looked stricken. "And I was lost without her to start with. But I'm okay now. I moved here a couple of years ago. And that's it, really."
Janet and Anna returned, with a trayful of drinks and food. "Are you two okay?" she asked softly. "Want us to give you some privacy."
As one, Sam and Cassie both said "no, I'm okay," then laughed.
Janet sat back down next to Sam, and took her hand in hers.
"Your turn," Cassie said. "I want to hear what happened in your timeline."
Sam took a deep breath. "Well, it's not all that different," she said. "It was the same on Hanka, Nirrti destroyed everything. She didn't care that you were just a little girl, she just took away everything that you cared about, just so she could experiment on the population. The difference is that we arrived just as that had happened. We being me, Daniel, Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c. In that timeline, I was part of a military team, and we used the Stargate to explore other worlds, to try and get new technologies, and to learn about other cultures. So we had been talking to the elders of Hanka, trying to get to know the population."
"Did you know my mom and dad?" Cassie asked eagerly.
Sam shook her head sadly. "No, honey, I didn't. Not as far as I know. I had certainly never seen you before, not before we saw you in the bushes. To cut a long story short, we found you and brought you back with us. And because my work was so dangerous and unpredictable, Janet adopted you. But we brought you up together. Janet and I, well we're together," she said shyly, "and we were in that timeline too. Though Janet here is from this timeline."
"I guessed you were together," Cassie smiled, "the way you are with each other."
"When I came to this timeline, nothing made sense until I found Janet again," Sam said. "And then I knew we had to find you. I had no idea that we actually would. So when you picked up Izzie, it was like it was meant to be."
"So you two were my moms?" Cassie asked.
"Apparently so," Janet replied, "though this is the first time I've actually met you. Does that make sense?" Janet asked.
"Kind of," Cassie replied. "It's a lot to take in."
"You should tell her, Sam," Janet prompted Sam gently.
"What?" Sam asked.
"About what happened. The bunker, everything. She'll want to know." Janet's voice was soft.
"What happened?" Cassie asked.
Sam reached over and took her hand. "It was awful," she said, her voice not much above a whisper. "Just when we thought Nirrti had done her worst, we found out she had used you. Like a guinea pig. That bitch," she spat, "thought it was okay to use you as some sort of Trojan Horse."
"What did she do Sam?" Cassie was almost afraid to ask.
Sam inhaled sharply. "She made a kind of bomb inside you. She made it so that if you stepped back through the Stargate, it would explode, destroying our base and miles around. We had to find a way to stop it happening. We couldn't operate, it would have killed you. And," Sam stifled a sob, "as far as we could tell, you only had a couple of hours before it would go off."
"What did you do?" Cassie's voice shook.
"We took you to an abandoned nuclear bunker," Sam told her. "You were unconscious by then, thank God. I took you down 30 floors, through solid rock. I was ordered to leave you in a room down there, and to come back up in the elevator."
"Oh God Sam, how awful for you," Cassie said. "Why did they make you do it?"
"They didn't," Sam said, "I wanted to take you. I didn't want some strange airman taking you down. I wanted to do it myself."
"But I didn't die?" Cassie asked. "I mean, I couldn't have, not if you were looking for me here."
"No, you didn't die. But you did wake up in the elevator on the way down. But I was a good soldier," Sam's voice was bitter. "I locked you in that cell, and got back in the elevator. But then, as it started to move upward, I realized that you had woken up, and that there was a good chance that it was only proximity to the Stargate that made the device inside you into a bomb. So I went back down."
"Just before it was due to go off?" Cassie asked.
"Three minutes before," Sam admitted. "But I didn't think it would explode."
"But it could have? You didn't know for sure it wouldn't?" Cassie was astounded at the bravery of the woman she had just met.
"No," Sam said. "I couldn't be sure."
"Shit, Sam," Cassie said, "what would have happened if it had gone off?"
"You wouldn't have been alone," Sam said simply. "And right then, that was all that mattered."
She looked up, and saw tears coursing down Cassie's face. "I can't believe you did that for me," Cassie said through her tears. "That's the bravest thing I've ever heard."
Sam was crying too by this point. "So where do we go from here?" Janet asked in a soft voice.
"I'd really like to get to know you both. All three of you," Cassie said. "If that's okay."
"Yeah," Sam said, her voice cracking. "That's okay. That's very okay."