DISCLAIMER: The story, and characters and anything and everything else concerning Stargate are so not mine.
SPOILERS: Set between Season 8 and 9. Sequel to The Rules
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Unworthy of the Angel
"I should have known," I said, turning away from him. "I should have realized that it was all a front."
"We all thought she was fine," Jack O'Neill said.
"It was easier to believe she was," I took the edge of my thumb away from my mouth, thrusting my hands in my pockets to stop myself biting my nail. "She's a tough kid. But no one should have to go through that twice."
"No, they shouldn't." His hand on my arm took me by surprise. "Sam you have to think of yourself in this as well. You lost Janet and your dad in such a short space of time. And all that crap with the Replicators and Shannahan." I did not want to be reminded about that. Not my finest hour. "What I'm trying to say is that I think you should take some time. Don't just bury yourself in Area 51 instead of here. God knows you've enough holiday time owing to you. You could take a year off if you wanted."
If I wanted. That was the trouble. What did I want? I wasn't sure if I had ever known. And now
He glanced at his watch and made a face. "Gotta go. Plane to catch. Landry's expecting you in his office Monday morning. He's a good man. He wouldn't be where he is if he wasn't. He's amenable to you transferring out for a while. And Area 51 are I'm told collectively drooling at the idea of getting your expertise for a few months. Just go easy on yourself, okay. You didn't fail anyone here. These things happen. You got to her in time, that's the main thing." I could tell he was thinking of Charlie. This whole situation with Cassie must have brought back so many bad memories for him. For a moment I thought he was going to hug me, but he managed to stop himself, gave me an uncomfortable smile and then he was gone.
I finished packing up the house. It was as I was getting the big suitcases out of the loft that I realized that I'd lived here alone longer than I lived here with Janet. We only moved in together about eighteen months before she before P3X-666. I still find it hard to think those words never mind say them. Loss. Death. Dying. Cassie was not interested in coming back here and I had to wonder if I would ever be back. The posting to Area 51 was for six months in the first instance but I think I could virtually write my own job spec now and General Jack O'Neill would agree to it.
It's strange, after nearly ten long years together that SG1 have all gone their separate ways in the last few weeks, no fanfare, no big ceremony, no big goodbye's. Daniel's preparing to go off on the Daedelus to the Pegasus Galaxy, Teal'c is helping his people get used to the idea of freedom, Jack O'Neill is running Homeworld Security from the Pentagon and I'm off to Area 51. And to belatedly be a 'mom' to Cassie. As much as she'll let me. I've got no illusions here - I've some pretty big fences to mend. But at least I'll have the chance to do it now.
"You'll be fine."
The lump in my throat is so hard and heavy I'm going to choke. I can't move. I can't breathe. Every time this happens I convince myself afterwards that it was just a hallucination, wishful thinking. I don't believe in ghosts.
"You believe what you believe. Doesn't make any difference. I'm still here. This is for the best, Sam."
"I can't believe that. You died, Janet. Cassie could "
"It would never have got that far. You were all watching out for her in your own way." I see her shadow on the wall as she moves around the boxes of our life. "I can't believe you kept so much of my stuff."
"They are all I have of you now. I couldn't give them to goodwill or just throw them in the trash."
"I never figured you to be so sentimental," she said. Her touch whispered up my arm. I distinctly felt the imprint of her lips on the bare skin at the top of my spine. "You are such a mass of contradictions sometimes." I hear her low sweet laugh. And now absurdly I'm angry with her.
"Are you laughing at me?"
"I'm just laughing," she said.
"Why are you here, now?" I asked. "It's not to say goodbye is it. I mean you're not tied to this place." I'd 'seen' her in the house a couple of times but mostly when she came to me I was at the SGC. Of course, I spent a good 80% of my time there when I wasn't offworld.
"No, I'm haunting you, not this house, if you want to put it like that," she said.
"And your timing " I remembered all the times I had been in jeopardy in the last two years and she had not been here. "For a guardian angel "
"You're still here, aren't you?" my love pointed out.
"I suppose," I said. When you look at it like that I had survived. "Things with Cassie do you know ?"
"I don't do prognostications," she said. "I was a doctor, remember, not a fortune teller."
"I almost told Dad once," I remembered. "After Selmac passed when I was sitting with him in the Infirmary. I wanted to know if he'd ever seen Mom. But he wouldn't have understood. Even with Selmac he wasn't one to entertain the idea of anything beyond this life. Is he "
"He died. I don't know what his 'afterlife' is. There isn't a how-to guide. I was surprised as anyone " Janet's arms went around my waist; she rested her head against my back. Her fingers stroked my bare skin under the hem of my shirt. I shivered. They were cold, but not uncomfortably so. "I don't believe in ghosts either."
"If I died would we be together?" I asked softly. I wasn't really thinking of doing anything so final. But what had almost happened with Cassie, the realities of my life It was something that had crossed my mind, usually somewhere near the bottom of the bottle. Another reason not to drink alone.
"I don't know. I don't want to take the chance that we wouldn't be," Janet said. "You have things to do here, Sam, wonderful things. A long life ahead of you, I'm sure of that. And hopefully I'll get to visit from time to time."
Was this heaven or hell for her, I wondered? Janet had been a healer, a doctor, dedicating her life to easing the suffering of others. If anyone was worthy of heaven it was her. But what about me? I was a soldier, a scientist. I killed people for a living. I had no idea how many people had died because of my actions, either from a bullet I had fired or a device I had built, or even just from a chain of events I had set in motion. Most of the time I was 'following orders' but I was still a creature of free will. I could still say no. For a moment I wished myself a long life because the thought of what might come after, the judgment I might receive, scared me. Not only was I not worthy of heaven, how was I worthy of her?
"Don't be afraid," Janet whispered. I felt her palm press to the centre of my back and a warmth filled through me, a glow of peace and joy and wellbeing. It was a little like what I had experienced with Orlin but not as overwhelming, as shattering. All I knew was that I was loved. I was so loved. The sensation gradually faded. "Janet?"
I knew I was alone again. But the world seemed a little brighter, my foundations a little firmer. I had things to do, places to go, my family to care for. The phone rang.
"Carter " I answered automatically.
"Sam " It was Cassie.
"Hey," I smiled. "I'm just finishing up the packing. Any last minute requests for stuff to bring with me rather than go into storage?"
"No, there's nothing I really want," Cassie said. "Except you, of course. I know we only saw each other a day or so ago but I'm really looking forward to you being here, Sam. I just wanted to tell you that and that I'm sorry for shutting you out for so long."
"Nowhere else I want to be," I said. "Cassie, I can't promise that everything's gonna be all right but it will be better, I promise. And you have nothing to be sorry for, sweetie. I'm just glad If I had lost you too " There was no way I could finish that sentence. "So, I should be with you this time tomorrow. And we have two weeks together before I start at Nellist."
"Sounds good to me," my daughter said. "Mom would be pleased, you know. She would have been so pissed at us for how things got between us."
"I know," I said, my heart in my throat again. "I know she would."
"Gotta run," Cassie sighed. "I just wanted to check in with you. See you tomorrow, okay?"
"Okay," I choked out. "I love you, Cassie."
"I love you too, Sam."
It seemed I was worthy after all.
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