Warning: Character death and lots of angst.
Spoilers/Timeline: This is set during and following S05E06 Rite Of Passage.
A/N1: Some dialogue taken from the show. Prompt given to me by londynon.
A/N2: Written for the FSAC DD10 Calendar. Special thanks to oxfordshoes2 for the beta.
Suppressed grief suffocates,
it rages within the breast,
and is forced to multiply its strength.
– Ovid, Roman poet
Tragedy changes people, even the good ones.
– Rommie, android avatar of the Andromeda Ascendant
Janet walked into Cassie’s room in the infirmary. She was surprised to see a chess piece levitating and spinning mid-air in front of her daughter.
“Cassandra? What are you doing?”
“It helps to do this.”
“It’s like the heat is leaving my body, and going into the chess piece.” She paused for a beat. “You don’t got a cure, have you?”
“No. We’re still trying–”
“No, it’s not. We may still learn something from the bio samples SG-1 brought back. There might be something there that’ll help your body produce antibodies.”
“I want this to happen, Janet.”
“Don’t say that,” she tearfully pleaded.
“It’s going to happen anyway.”
“You know that it’s more than that now. I can feel the power inside me. It’s only the beginning.”
“And along with it your body is undergoing a tremendous physical strain.”
“You think it’s going to kill me?”
“I’m… worried about that possibility, yes.”
“I don’t care!” the girl shouted.
“Well, you should!” Janet couldn’t keep her voice from trembling as the fear of losing her daughter weighed down on her oppressively. “I know the limitations to the human body–”
“Maybe I’m not human anymore.”
“Of course you are.”
“Maybe dying is part of the transformation.” Cassie sounded almost eager to die.
“I don’t care whether it is or not!”
The alarm was the first indication that something was very wrong. Sam and Janet ran into the infirmary to find an airman checking the body of another guard that had been killed.
“Cassandra!” Janet ran into her daughter’s room, with Sam on her heels.
Cassie was sitting up in her bed. “It was a Goa’uld,” she said. “I was asleep. I thought it was a nurse coming in to take my blood… but I sensed its presence.”
“I didn’t sense anything,” Sam pointed out.
“It was after you left. At first there was no one there, but then, when it got closer, I saw someone.”
Sam picked up the phone and accessed the PA system. “This is a Code 3 alert! We need zats and TERs in Isolation Room 4, now!”
“Are you alright?” Janet asked Cassie.
“It ran away when I screamed.”
General Hammond arrived with the men of SG-1. Sam explained to them what had happened, and he ordered the systematic search of the facility.
Jack decided to stay with Cassie and Janet to keep an eye on them. He looked at Cassie. “I figured you fought her off the first time, so I’m safer here with you.”
“She was here the whole time you’ve been back,” she replied.
“We’ll find her,” he reassured her.
“She’s right. Why did she wait until now to come after Cassandra?” asked Janet.
“She wanted to know if her experiment worked,” Cassie said.
“You don’t know what she wants.”
“No. If… if the transformation were going to kill me, she would have just let it happen. Don’t you see?”
“Honey, not now.”
“No! But it did work!”
Suddenly the girl pointed toward the observation room and yelled, “Look out!!”
The observation window shattered and Janet protectively covered her daughter while an SF illuminated the invisible intruder with a TER. Jack shot her with his zat. He removed the cloth covering the face of the intruder, confirming it was Nirrti.
Jack keyed his radio. “Security to ISO Room 4. All search teams, stand down.”
Cassie suddenly started to seize.
“Cassie? Cassie! Don’t do this!” exclaimed Janet. “Please, get her out of here,” she told Jack, referring to the unconscious Nirrti. “Come on! Let’s Move! Roll her over… easy.” A nurse helped to roll Cassie onto her side as her seizure continued.
Daniel fell in step with Janet as she walked down the corridor. “She says she can help Cassandra.”
“If we trust her.”
“If we let her go.”
“Do you believe she can actually help?”
“I think it’s worth a shot.”
“What about General Hammond? What’s he going to do?”
“He hasn’t decided yet.”
“I really need to get back to Cassandra.”
Daniel grabbed her hand, stopping her. “I– We all know how tough this has been for you, so if you need anything…”
Janet quickly pulled her hand from his. “Thanks,” she replied as she continued on her way and entered Cassie’s room. She looked over Cassie’s chart, trying to think. “Alright, give me 70 milligrams of dantrolene.”
“Doctor?” the nurse asked, making sure she heard correctly.
“Mom?” Cassie asked weakly as she regained consciousness.
“I’m here. We’re just giving you something else to try to get your fever down.
“Okay, I want you to do what we talked about, okay? I want you to fight this.”
“I don’t want to fight it.”
“You have to! Honey, your body is not going to be able to survive what this retro virus is trying to do.”
“Gone to see if she can get you any help.”
“No! Let it happen! Let it happen!” Cassie again went into a seizure.
“Drop 10 of valium,” Janet ordered the nurse as she put an oxygen mask on her daughter.
“Valium’s in.” The nurse looked at the monitor. “Her temperature is 106!”
“Dantrolene is not working?!” Dantrolene had been a last ditch effort to control Cassie’s high fever. Janet was out of medical options… and desperate. She grabbed a spring injector of morphine sulfate and left to do the only thing she could think off. She would make Nirrti help Cassie.
“General Hammond to the holding room,” sounded over the PA system.
Hammond and SG-1 arrived to find Janet holding a gun on the handcuffed Goa’uld where she sat on a chair in her cell.
“Dr. Frasier, stand down,” the general ordered.
Though her voice shook, her hand didn’t. “I can’t do that, sir. I don’t have a choice.”
Sam moved to the side of Janet so the doctor could see her. “Janet? Don’t do this.”
“I can’t help Cassandra… she can.”
“Dr. Frasier, SG-1 has already convinced me to make a deal for Cassandra’s life. This isn’t necessary,” explained Hammond.
“Then you agree to my terms?”
“Just one – once you’ve cured Cassandra of her illness, you will be free to go,” the general said, clearly not happy about it.
“And how do I know you will honor this?”
“You have my word.”
“Not good enough.”
“Then I shall remind you that the woman holding the gun on you is Cassandra’s mother.”
With a Goa’uld healing device in one hand and another Goa’uld device in the other, Nirrti attempted to help Cassie.
After only a few short seconds she stopped. “You have waited too long.”
“You try again,” Janet growled.
Nirrti tried again – appearing to put more effort into it. Cassie started coughing as she regained consciousness and her vitals started to improve.
“It is done.”
Having lived up to her part of the bargain, Sam and Jack escorted Nirrti to the gate room.
It was less than an hour later when Cassie’s fever again spiked. She went into a febrile seizure that didn’t stop until her heart stopped.
Cassie was gone.
Time became an amorphous thing, its passage marked by funeral arrangements, condolences, visitors with casseroles, and unending hours of sorrow too great to be expressed.
Sam was heartbroken, but even in the midst of her own grief she tried to be a comfort to Janet. But Janet would not let anyone, not even her lover, comfort her – she didn’t want to be comforted. She was sad beyond words… and angry. Angry at the Goa’uld for being monsters; angry at Nirrti for being so evil and cruel that she experimented on children, on her child; angry at General Hammond for taking so goddamn long to decide her daughter was worth saving, for having to be convinced in the first place; angry at Daniel for suggesting they should trust Nirrti; angry at Sam and Jack for letting Nirrti go before making sure the bitch had indeed cured her daughter; angry at everyone for pitying her; but mostly, angry at herself for not being a good enough doctor to save her daughter.
“Hey, Sam. How are you doing?” Daniel asked quietly when he entered the gear room.
It was her first day back at work following Cassie’s funeral. She gave him a tremulous half-smile. “I’ve been better.” She accepted his hug.
“We all loved her.”
“How is Janet holding up?”
“I don’t really know.”
“What do you mean?”
She sighed. “She’s completely shut me out, Daniel. She won’t talk about it with me. I don’t think she’s even cried.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t go on our mission today? Maybe you should stay and be here for her. I’m sure Jack would understand.”
“I would understand what?” O’Neill asked when he entered.
“We’re worried about Janet. Janet isn’t talking about what happened.”
“Talking is overrated,” the colonel said with certainty.
“You don’t understand, Jack, Sam says she doesn’t think Janet has even cried about what’s happened.”
“I do understand… better than any of you,” he snapped. After taking a calming breath he continued. “Just let Doc be. Everyone grieves in their own way. Just give her some time and space to do what she needs to.” Jack grabbed his pack. “Let’s go; time to go,” he ordered.
Janet sat in her car. She didn’t want to go inside the mountain and face everyone. She didn’t want to see the pity in their eyes, or hear any more condolences.
Finally, she took a deep breath and got out of her car. Unfortunately, the looks started with the guards at the security check point… and continued with every single person she encountered on the way down to the infirmary.
When some of her medical staff expressed their condolences, she snapped.
“I don’t need or want your pity! Cassandra is dead and there’s nothing I can do about it. Life goes on. So, let’s just get on with it.” She slammed her office door, shutting out the shocked looks of her co-workers.
Word of her outburst, of course, reached the general. Having been through the loss of his wife, he knew heartbreaking grief. He wasn’t upset with his CMO when he went to the infirmary to talk with her; he merely wanted to let her know he understood, at least to a point – he couldn’t imagine what it was like to lose a child.
He knocked on the closed office door.
“What?” he heard the doctor snap peevishly.
Janet looked up when her door opened and General Hammond entered. He was one of the last people she wanted to see. She struggled to keep a civil tongue in her head. “Sir.”
His purpose for coming changed upon noting the dark circles under the doctor’s eyes, the facial muscles that flexed as she clenched her jaw, and the lack of expression on her face. He took a slow breath as he measured his words.
“I think perhaps you’ve returned to work too soon, Doctor. I want you take some time off.”
“I don’t need time off, sir,” she said in a measured tone. She didn’t really want to be there, but she wanted to home alone even less.
“It’s not a suggestion,” he replied. “I know you’re hurting and you have every right to be. But being here…” The words ‘where Cassie died’ didn’t make it past his lips, but they both felt the weight of them. “You’re on leave effective immediately. We’ll discuss your return to duty at a later date.”
On the verge of totally losing her temper, and without her normal fluidic grace, Janet stood up and gathered her things. “Fine.”
She walked out of the infirmary.
Hammond sadly watched her go, not even caring about her lack of military etiquette.
At home, Janet was faced with constant reminders of her daughter, reminders that she just couldn’t bear. She gathered up all the pictures in the living room that were of Cassie and placed them in a box, which she put in the hall closet. She then went through the rest of the house, room by room, systematically removing pictures, knickknacks, anything that reminded her of Cassandra, and dumped them all in the box in the closet.
That done, and after changing into jeans and a t-shirt, Janet stood facing the closed door of the one room she hadn’t entered in almost a week. Taking a deep breath she opened the door to her daughter’s bedroom. It felt like something hit her in the chest with the force of mule’s kick, stopping her heart and stealing her breath. It was a physical pain as real as a severed limb, and soul deep. Finally, she was able to draw a breath. After several slow breaths she entered… and went to work.
Janet had just finished sorting Cassie’s things, setting aside things to be boxed up and packed away from what she was going to give to Goodwill, when the front doorbell sounded. She headed downstairs and opened the door. She was surprised to see Dr. Stephen MacKenzie on her porch, although it didn’t take genius to figure out why he was there.
“What are you doing here?”
The man looked down for a moment. He knew he was not always a welcome presence in a soldier’s life. His profession as a psychiatrist meant the need for his help symbolized weakness to most soldiers, a weakness that soldiers were loath to admit. And the tougher the soldiers (like those assigned to the SGC) the more stubbornly they resented the need for his help. MacKenzie was not a stupid or insensitive man, and while many believed he was only out to find any excuse to end their careers, the truth was he cared about people. His goal was always to help his patients, to see them through the rough patches, to help them be their best, and to keep them from irreparably breaking.
When MacKenzie looked up again and into the eyes of the SGC’s CMO, he saw her need for help. “General Hammond asked me to stop by and see if you might want to talk.”
Somehow, Janet wasn’t surprised. “Am I under orders to talk to you?”
MacKenzie managed to keep his expression neutral. “No, of course not.” They both knew he meant ‘Not yet.’
“Then you can go. I’m on leave and this is my private residence, so…” She closed the door.
MacKenzie sighed. Dr. Fraiser had reacted just as he’d expected. She was hurting and he wanted to help, but he couldn’t force her to let him. He turned, headed down the walkway, and got back into his car.
Janet leaned back against the door after she closed it. Having MacKenzie show up on her doorstep was just the cherry on top of her crap day. With a sigh, she pushed off the door and went into the kitchen. She opened the overhead cabinet next to the refrigerator and took down the half-full bottle of Laphroaig 18-year-old, single malt whiskey.
While wine was normally her drink of choice, every once in a great while she enjoyed a good single malt – something she likely inherited from her father, the Army colonel. She poured two fingers’ worth into a glass and enjoyed the sweet, smoky burn of the amber liquid. Uncharacteristically, she poured a second drink. Liking the second even more than the first, she took the glass and the bottle with her as she headed back upstairs.
In Cassie’s room, she continued her work by taping up the two boxes of things that she was keeping. Fortified with a third drink, she pulled on the trap door in the hallway ceiling to the attic and unfolded the ladder. One at a time, she carried the boxes up to the attic – including the one she’d previously put in the downstairs hall closet. With the attic closed back up, she returned to the bedroom and started folding all of the clothes and placing them in large garbage bags.
Her task done, she poured another drink and looked around the room. The walls were bare, the bed stripped, and the closet and dresser drawers empty. She’d already called Goodwill, and after they arrived the next day everything would be taken away – including the furniture.
Janet woke with a groan, her head painfully pounding in time with the pounding on her front door. She’d fallen asleep on the couch after finishing off the Laphroaig. She levered herself into an upright position, instantly regretting it as a wave of nausea nearly overcame her ability to repress it. Her mouth tasted like toxic pond scum. She practically growled when the pounding on the front door began again.
She stood and unsteadily made her way to the front door.
“What?” she asked the young man who couldn’t be more than 17 or 18 years old.
He jerked his thumb over his shoulder back towards the street. “I’m Todd. We’re here for a pickup for Goodwill.”
She looked past him and saw a second young man at the bottom of the porch steps and their truck at the curb. She nodded. “Alright.” She moved aside and let them in. At the base of the stairs she gestured up to the second floor. “It’s everything in the first room on the left.”
“By everything, you mean…”
“Everything, including the furniture.”
The two young men headed up the stairs.
After Janet had the chance to shower and – more importantly – brush her teeth, she headed to the hardware store… with a stop at the liquor store on the way back home.
Dressed in an old oversized t-shirt, which she tied in a knot at her midriff, and jeans that were made of more patched holes than denim, she opened a can of paint. It took her a few hours – and a couple of hefty drinks – to finish painting the room. She hadn’t quite determined what she was going to do with the room, but at least it no longer contained a single sign, trace, or hint of Cassie’s previous occupancy.
That evening, while she continued to sip single malt whiskey, Janet flipped through some magazines. Coming across a photo layout of some celebrity’s home, she finally decided. That room had the best view of the backyard and all of her gardening efforts. It got plenty of light without getting overheated by direct sunlight coming through the windows. She would make the room her new office.
When SG-1 returned from their four-day off-world mission, Sam was surprised not to see Janet. She asked Dr. Warner about her lover’s absence when he did her post-mission physical.
“I don’t know where she is. All I know is the general put her on an indeterminate leave after she…” he trailed off, suddenly hesitant to say any more.
“After she what, Doctor?”
Dr. David Warner, the Assistant CMO, hung his stethoscope around his neck and quietly sighed. He considered Janet a friend, not just his boss. He was worried about her – just as everyone else was. He looked at the blonde major and reminded himself that Sam and Janet were best friends.
“When she came in to work the other day, she lost it when someone said they were sorry for her loss. She yelled at everyone and slammed her office door.” He shrugged. “The next thing I knew, the general had come up to talk to her and sent her home. We don’t know when she’ll be back.”
Sam closed her eyes a moment and sighed. “Thank you for telling me,” she said softly.
Warner nodded with understanding.
As soon as their debriefing was over, Sam rushed out of the base. She wanted to get home and check on Janet.
“Janet?” she called out as soon as stepped in the front door.
There was no answer.
Sam walked through the living room and dining room and checked the kitchen. There was no sign of her lover. She headed back to the foyer and then went down the hallway to look in Janet’s office.
“What the…” The small room that had been Janet’s office had been changed. The only thing in the room was a small couch, several book cases full of books, and a small end table. Janet’s desk, computer, filing cabinets, etc. were missing.
“Janet?” she called out again as she started upstairs.
At the top of the stairs Sam stopped as she detected a faint odor of paint. She followed it to the closed door of Cassie’s room. Her jaw literally dropped when she opened the door. It was completely redone. It had been painted a different color and Janet’s desk, computer, and filing cabinets had replaced Cassie bed, dresser, nightstand, and small work table. Struggling to comprehend what she was seeing, Sam didn’t hear Janet enter the house and come up the stairs.
“You’re here,” the brunette said nonchalantly. “Good, you can help me hang the new curtains for my office,” Janet said as she brushed past the blonde.
Sam finally found her voice. “What the hell have you done?”
“Just a little redecorating,” the doctor answered as she took the new curtains out of her shopping bag.
“Where is all of Cassie’s stuff?”
“What I didn’t box up and pack away I gave to Goodwill.”
Sam stalked over to where Janet was fiddling with her curtains, grabbed her shoulder, and spun her around. “How could you?! What are you trying to do? Just wipe away her memory like she never existed?!”
Janet’s passive expression turned to one of pure, unadulterated rage. “I’m doing what I have to, to move on. Who the hell are you to disapprove or pass judgment on how I do that? She was MY daughter – not yours!”
Sam recoiled as if she’d been slapped.
“This is my house and I will decorate it however I please. If you don’t like it you can get the hell out. No one is keeping you here.” She threw down the curtain and marched out of the room.
It took Sam several minutes before she could move. Saddened beyond words, she walked out of Cassie’s b– Janet’s office and across the hallway to the master bedroom. She retrieved her suitcase from the top shelf of the closet and packed all of her clothes that she had at the house. The last thing she packed was her toothbrush.
Downstairs, the doctor was in the kitchen. She poured herself four fingers of cheap blended whiskey – it was too expensive to drink a bottle of the good stuff every day. She listened to the blonde’s footfalls on the way down the stairs… and then the opening and closing of the front door. It was just as well; this way she didn’t have to deal with Sam – and her anger towards the blonde – outside of work.
When Daniel answered the knock on his apartment door, he was faced with a red-faced, tearful teammate. She opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out. He’d never seen Sam look so stricken or devastated. It took a couple of moments, but he finally snapped out of his shock and pulled Sam into his arms, where she broke down in sobs.
He pulled her inside his apartment, closed the door, and guided her over to the couch. The archeologist was unsure what else to do. He’d never seen Sam do more than shed a few silent tears, much less break down sobbing. It was several minutes before the blonde seemed to settle down a bit.
“You want to tell me what’s wrong?” he asked gently.
Sam pulled away to snag a couple of tissues from a box on the coffee table and blew her runny nose. With tears still running down her cheeks, she recounted what had happened at Janet’s house.
Daniel shook his head. “Maybe Jack is right… maybe we just need to give Janet some time. I can’t imagine she meant what she said, not really. It must have been her grief talking.”
“First we lose Cassie… then Janet completely erases her from our lives.” She paused while she tried to swallow around the large lump in her throat. “And now I’m losing Janet, too.”
Three days after Sam had packed up and left Janet’s house, Daniel decided to give the doctor a visit. No one had heard from Janet and she wasn’t answering her home phone or her cell. Neither had she returned any of the several messages she’d received from Sam, Daniel, or her head nurse Amy.
He had to wait until after he finished up his report on the latest archeological artifacts brought by SG-6, so he was a little late getting out of work. It was about 7:00 pm when he pulled into Janet’s driveway. He got out and walked up to the front door.
She let out an irritated sigh when there was a knock on the door. She rubbed a bleary eye and tried to remember when she’d called to have a pizza delivered. More knocking on the door – it must have been today. Janet got up and listlessly walked to the front door, grabbing her wallet from the hall table as she passed. She stopped short when she opened the door and saw who it was.
Daniel smiled. “Hi, Janet! Have you eaten dinner yet?”
“Dinner – have you had it yet?”
She let out a sigh. “Actually, I thought you were the pizza delivery boy.”
Daniel couldn’t believe how strong the smell of alcohol was on Janet’s breath. He walked inside, brushing past her. “Great! I love pizza.”
Janet just watched dumbly as the archeologist simply walked into her place as if he owned it. Finally she shook her head, closed the door, and followed him into the living room.
Daniel was stunned by the state of the doctor’s living room. Even with a rambunctious teenager, and an absent-minded, genius lover, Janet’s house had always been kept neat and clean. That was no longer the case. There were a number of dirty glasses perched around the room; the couch looked like a messy, unmade bed; there were a couple of plates with the remnants of half-eaten meals on them sitting on the coffee table… and a few mostly empty bottles of liquor.
Janet walked in past where Daniel had stopped and stared at the room, picked up a dirty glass, poured some whiskey into it, plopped back down on the couch, and put her feet up on the coffee table. She didn’t even react when her foot knocked over an empty booze bottle.
He finally found his voice. “Janet…”
She cut her eyes sideways at him. “What? Sam send you to talk to me about the other day? Well, I don’t care – I can’t deal with her right now.”
“No. No. She doesn’t know that I’m here.” He moved and sat next to her on the couch. “Everyone’s worried about you.”
She let out a grunt of disdain. “‘Everyone’ can go to hell.”
“I don’t think you should be alone right now. I understand what you’re going through, Janet,” he said as he reached over and took her hand in his own.
Janet violently jerked her hand out of his, obviously surprising him. “You do not know what I’m going through,” she growled.
“I know what it’s like to lose someone – I lost my wife Sha’re,” he calmly pointed out. “I’m here for you.”
“And yet that’s never stopped you from coming on to me,” she sneered.
“You’re always trying to get closer to me, giving me looks, always trying to hold my hand. I’m gay, Daniel, not stupid. You’ve wanted to get into my pants for years. Just what makes you think that even if I wasn’t gay that I’d ever want to be with the likes of you? So, get it through your thick skull – I’m not fucking interested. Now, get the hell out of my house and don’t come back. Leave me the hell alone!”
Speechless, the stunned archeologist sadly stood and left. Outside he got into his car and just sat there. He’d never seen Janet so angry and full of vitriol. He hadn’t been able think of a reply to what she’d said because she was… not wrong. He had been interested in her almost from the very beginning. There was just something about her, the way she exuded calm and concern for those around her, the way she cared for him whenever he was hurt or sick. He closed his eyes and sighed. He knew he could so easily fall in love with Janet… if he hadn’t already.
Even after he found out Sam was sleeping with Janet, a part of Daniel had still held out some hope of worming his way into her heart – after all, she had been married before, so maybe… Even so, he didn’t think he’d been so obvious about it. He thought he’d kept his desire hidden. He sighed once again. Clearly, he wasn’t the right person to reach out to her. He started his car and drove over to Jack’s house.
Jack was very hesitant to seek out the doctor. He knew what it felt like when someone tried to get him to talk about something he really didn’t want to talk about. It irritated the hell out of him, pissed him off. And of all the people at the SGC, he was the only one to have gone through something similar, the only one who knew what it was like to lose a child. He actually did know what she was going through. No parent should ever outlive their child.
Only after a week had passed with no one being able to contact Janet, a week of her not answering her phone or her door, did he even begin to consider giving in to the pleas of Sam and Daniel. But it was when General Hammond told him what had happened during his meeting with the doctor that morning that Jack decided it was time to talk to her.
Daniel had said the doctor had been drinking – a lot. So Jack, knowing Doc wouldn’t answer her phone or come to the door, decided on another tactic. No stranger to the area liquor stores and bars, he discreetly put the word out – if anyone saw the doctor they were to immediately call him.
General Hammond had called Dr. Fraiser. It had been two weeks since he’d sent her home, hoping the additional time to grieve would enable the doctor to deal with coming back to work, but he’d heard a couple of things about the doctor that had him concerned. The doctor didn’t answer her phone, but he did leave a message telling her to report to his office first thing in the morning.
“Come in,” he barked when someone knocked on his office door. He looked up to see Dr. Fraiser enter. He was surprised she wasn’t in uniform, but he didn’t say anything about it. “Have a seat, Doctor.”
“No thank you. I won’t be here that long.”
She lightly tossed an envelope onto his desk. “I’m resigning my commission.”
Silently he opened the envelope, took out to the letter inside, and read it. He frowned. “I’m afraid I can’t approve this.”
“I have a regular commission and I’ve served my time, General. I no longer have any obligation to the Air Force.”
“That may be, but you know the Secretary of the Air Force can deny your request if he feels your continued service is mission critical. You are too valuable to the SGC to allow you to resign at this time.”
“Mission critical? It’ll be impossible for me to remain at the SGC without a top-secret clearance.”
“What are you talking about?”
She angrily threw a second envelope at him which actually hit and bounced off his chest. “That is my notarized statement informing you that I’m a lesbian. I have a copy for the Secretary and anyone else who wants or needs one. If necessary I can produce witnesses to corroborate my statement.”
She put her hands on the edge of his desk, leaning forward on them. “Read my lips, General: I like to fuck women. So do whatever it is you have to – accept my resignation or court martial me. Either way I don’t give a damn, because I’m never coming back to the SGC.”
Hammond was at a loss. The meeting certainly hadn’t gone anything like what he’d anticipated. Personally he couldn’t have cared less if she was a lesbian, but she was effectively backing him into a corner with her words and actions. He scrambled for a way out.
“You know, I can shred this and no one would know.”
“Then I’ll send one directly to the Secretary. You and I both know my clearance will be yanked faster than you can say Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. No clearance – no posting at the SGC. No posting at the SGC – no more ‘mission critical’ reason not to approve my resignation.”
“There has to be a way to work this out, Doctor. I don’t care if you’re gay – I still want you as my CMO.”
“Don’t you get it?! I can’t be here! I can’t stand the sight of this place! I can’t stand the sight of the people here! I can’t stand the sight of you! So unless you’re going to have me arrested, I’m leaving and never coming back.” She turned to leave.
“I could have Dr. MacKenzie intercede. Have him place you on a psych hold,” he replied, angry that she was being so unreasonable.
The petite woman whirled around, her face a mask of raw fury. “Just fucking try it! Homosexuality is not a mental illness.” She slammed the door as she marched out of his office.
It took three days, but Jack finally got the call. Janet Fraiser was in Bob’s Trading Post. It was a real dive in a small town called Larkspur (population approximately 200), about halfway between Colorado Springs and Denver. He’d only been there a handful of times himself, but it was a good place to go when you didn’t want to see anyone from work.
He walked into the bar, looked around, and walked up to the bartender. He made a purchase and then wandered over to the dark corner booth where the doc was sitting.
Janet was not pleased to see the colonel there. The reason she’d chosen this particular bar was to avoid anyone she knew. She didn’t acknowledge his presence… until he set a bottle of single malt he’d just bought from the bartender on the table directly in front of her.
“That stuff you’re drinking is nothing but rotgut. Let’s at least have some of the good stuff.” He sat down, opened the bottle, and poured a significant amount into each of the two clean glasses he’d also obtained from the barkeep. He slid one over to her and took a healthy swig from his own glass.
Not caring who bought the whiskey – as long as he didn’t expect her to talk – she downed hers in three large swallows. Jack refilled her glass. She glared at him. “No talking.”
He nodded in agreement. “No talking. Just drinking.”
Jack was impressed by the petite doctor’s ability to drink and hold her liquor. He was already seeing double and she was drinking the whiskey twice as fast as he was. While she was in the bathroom, Jack went up to the bar and asked the barkeep to call a taxi. There was no way either one of them could get behind the wheel of a car.
When Janet returned from the bathroom she grabbed the bottle and poured the last of its contents into her glass. She tossed back the amber liquid, no longer noticing the burn as it went down. She looked across the room at the barkeeper.
“Hey, barkeep! Bring us another bottle.”
He shook his head. “I think you’ve had more than enough.”
“Fine. I’ll just go elsewhere.” She stood, and wavered for a few moments.
She turned to look at the colonel. “I said no talking.”
“I know. Just wanted to say I gotta cab coming. We can use it to go somewhere else.”
The taxi arrived only a couple of minutes later. Once in the back of the cab, Jack named a bar not far from his house. As he’d hoped, Janet ended up falling asleep on the drive back to town, so he changed the destination to her house instead.
When Janet woke up, she immediately threw an arm across her eyes to block out the light. However, her over-full bladder demanded she get up off the couch anyway. With eyes mostly shut, she ungracefully made her way to the bathroom. When she returned to the living room she noticed the person passed out in her recliner. She shook her head… and immediately regretted it. In the kitchen she poured herself a stiff drink and tried to remember what had happened the night before. By the time she finished her drink she’d mostly remembered. O’Neill had showed up at the bar and bought a bottle with the promise of no talking.
She poured a second drink and went back to the living room, setting the bottle on the end table beside the couch. She was sipping her drink with Jack woke up with a groan.
“Ugh… I’m getting too old for this shit,” he murmured softly so as not to increase the pounding in his head. When he finally opened his eyes, he spotted the doctor on the couch. “Isn’t it a little early for that?” he asked, referring to her drink.
“Go to hell,” she replied in a flat, emotionless tone.
Jack recognized that tone. He’d used enough himself after his son died. Before getting into things with the doc though, he needed to use the bathroom. He brought the recliner upright and stood up. His stomach felt like he’d drank a vat of acid, but at least he wasn’t nauseous. After going to the bathroom he returned. He sat in the recliner and just looked at the woman who’d saved not only his ass, but just about every single person at the SGC.
“I thought I told you no talking.”
He frowned. “Now look, I abided by your rules all last night. I even supplied the whiskey. I think you at least owe it to me to hear me out.”
“I don’t owe anyone at the SGC anything, least of all you.” She picked up the bottle and poured herself another drink.
“The way you’re going there, it’s beginning to make me wonder if you maybe you should consider a 12-step program or something.”
She cut her eyes sideways at him for a moment before looking away again. “I don’t need a damn program. I’m not drinking because I can’t stop – I’m drinking because I want to. I’m a doctor and I know the difference.”
Considering the fact he’d never actually seen her get drunk at any of the parties, BBQs, or get-togethers they’d both been to, he wasn’t going to debate the point any further. Maybe she was telling the truth. He let out a sigh. “You know, I do understand what you’re going through.”
“And that is the only reason I haven’t castrated you yet.”
He smirked involuntarily… until he realized she wasn’t joking. He cleared his throat. “Um, it’s because I do understand that I haven’t been trying to bug you.”
“You and Teal’c are the only two who haven’t been.”
He shrugged. “Teal’c said it’s rare, but not unheard of, for a Jaffa to completely withdraw and live like a hermit after a…” he search for the right word, “… loss. He figures it’s your choice.”
“Smart man.” She let out a sound of disgust. “Now if only Sam would learn a thing or two from Teal’c. She calls both my home phone and my cell at least three times a day.”
“Yeah.” He paused for a long moment. “And considering what you told the general the other day… I can make a pretty good guess as to why she’s been so persistent.”
Janet turned her head and pinned his with a defiant glare. “It must really chap your ass.”
She finished her drink. “Knowing that I got to fuck Sam and you never will.”
His eyes got as wide and round as saucers. He definitely hadn’t expected an outburst like that.
“Get out of my house, Jack.”
She popped up to her feet, her blood boiling. “I SAID GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE!!” she yelled and threw her empty glass against the wall, shattering it.
Knowing from his own experience that it was futile to try to reach someone when they were that enraged, he stood, gave her nod, and walk out the front door. He used his cell to call for a cab from her front porch.
Two days after Jack spent the night at her house, Janet’s home phone and cell were both cut off. When the team went by her house to check on her they found a moving company packing up everything in it… and no sign of Janet.
Technically, she was AWOL since it took time to process a resignation. It was only because of that reason the general allowed Sam to use military sources to try to track the doctor down. However, there had been no activity on any of Janet’s credit cards – only the withdrawal of the money in the savings account Janet has set up as Cassie’s college fund. With that much cash Janet could go a long time and stay completely off the grid if she didn’t splurge. It was obvious the doctor did not want to be found.
Hammond could have filed charges against Janet for being AWOL, but considering everything the doctor had done for Earth, and for other worlds, he did nothing.
It was almost three weeks later when Sam’s phone rang in the middle of the night.
“Hello?” she mumbled sleepily.
“Is this Major Samantha Carter?”
Recognizing an ‘official’ voice when she heard one, even half-asleep, Sam turned on the light on her nightstand and sat up. “Yes, this is Major Carter.”
“Hi. My name is Dr. Joanne Garnett. I’m calling from Vancouver General Hospital, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Do you know a Janet Fraiser?”
“Yes! Where is she? How is she?!”
“She was injured and brought into our emergency room. In her wallet we found a card that listed you as her emergency contact.”
“What happened? How is she?”
“I’m afraid Ms. Fraiser was in a car accident and isn’t doing very well. Do you know if she has a living will?”
Sam thought she was going to be sick. After three weeks of not knowing where the woman she loved was, to get this kind of phone call… She had to take a couple of deep breaths to keep from getting sick, and tried to concentrate. “Y-Yes she does. I know she listed some very specific criteria in it since she’s a medical doctor, but I-I don’t remember all of it.”
“Would it be possible for you to get a copy of it to us?”
“Yes. I’ll bring it with me. I’ll be there as soon as possible.”
After placing a phone call to Colonel O’Neill to tell him what was going on, Sam discovered the earliest flight she could get to Vancouver was an 8:30 am flight out of Denver. She looked at the clock – 3:40 am. Five hours too long! There was no way she was going to get back to sleep so she got up.
Sam got dressed, packed a small carryon, and opened the small fire safe in her closet. In it were certain essential documents – including Janet’s wills and her own. Sam withdrew Janet’s living will, placing it in her pocket so as not to risk losing it. She managed to fix and eat a small breakfast, despite not being hungry. A good soldier always grabbed sleep and food when possible, because events might not allow time for them later.
The blonde wanted to avoid rush hour so she decided to leave the house at 6:30 even though Denver was only 30 miles way. She was surprised when she headed out her front door and found all three of her teammates waiting for her. A huge lump formed in her throat and she had to wipe away the tears that welled in her eyes. With a tremulous smile she gave them a nod of gratitude as Daniel took her bag, Teal’c opened the front passenger door of O’Neill’s truck for her, and the colonel got behind the wheel and started it up.
It was several minutes before she thought she could speak without breaking down and crying. Surprisingly, the men had given her that time in respectful silence. “Th-thanks, you guys.” A few tears rolled her cheeks in defiance of her will.
“Teal’c can’t really go, and Daniel has a mission with SG-11 this afternoon, but I’ll fly up there with you,” Jack gently informed her. Daniel could have been excused from the mission, but the archaeologist had awkwardly informed Jack that his presence probably wouldn’t be welcomed by Janet… and the reason why. However, Jack didn’t see any reason to say anything to Carter about that part.
“You don’t have to do that, sir.”
“Carter… Sam, we’re a team, a family. And Doc’s part of the family… always will be.”
Sam silently stared out the passenger side window as tears rolled down her face unabated.
Teal’c and Daniel waited with Jack and Sam until it was time for them to go. After giving the keys to his truck to Daniel, Jack promised to keep in touch to let them know how things were going and to let them know when they’d be coming back.
When Jack and Sam landed at Vancouver International Airport, they headed directly for the taxis, the fastest way to get where they needed to go. At the hospital they checked with the visitors’ desk where they were directed to the ICU. They walked up to the main desk in ICU.
A young woman looked up at the tall blonde. “May I help you?”
“I received a call early this morning from a Dr. Joanne Garnett. She called me about a patient you have named Janet Fraiser.”
“Just a moment.” The young woman pulled up some information on her computer terminal. “Please have a seat. Dr. Garnett with be with you shortly.”
“Is there any way we can see Janet while we’re waiting?”
“I’m sorry, you need to speak with the doctor first.”
The two Air Force officers took a seat in a couple of the nearby chairs.
“I got a bad feeling about this,” Sam murmured.
“Don’t get yourself worked up, Carter. You know how tough our doc is. Let’s wait to see what the doctor has to say.”
It was only about a minute before a tall redhead in a ubiquitous lab coat and scrubs approached them. “Major Carter?”
Sam stood up. “Call me Sam.”
“I’m Dr. Garnett; I spoke with you on the phone early this morning.”
“Yes. How is Janet, Doctor?” she asked even as she took out Janet’s living will.
“Are you family?”
“Yes,” Jack immediately interjected.
Sam handed over the living will. “We’re…” She wasn’t sure what to say what they were. Even though she’d moved out of Janet’s house, she didn’t consider them broken up. She was just giving Janet some time and space to get through everything. Her eyes watered. “We’re partners,” she finally said tremulously.
Garnett nodded in understanding. “I’m afraid Janet is not doing very well. She had a head injury which caused a subdural hematoma. She first presented to us in the ER as altered and combative but then lost consciousness. Because of the elevated intracranial pressure, we had to drill a hole in her skull to drain the blood and relieve the pressure. We’re monitoring her, but she hasn’t shown any signs of coming out of the coma.”
“Can we see her now?”
“Sure. But only one at a time.”
Jack patted Sam’s shoulder. “You go. I’ll be here if you need me.”
With a nod of thanks, she followed the redhead to Janet’s room.
Sam was aghast at the sight of Janet. She was so pale, hooked up to numerous monitors and machines, and looked so much smaller than usual. There was no way Sam could hold back her tears. As she moved to stand next to her lover’s bed and placed her hand over Janet’s still one, the doctor reviewed her chart.
Dr. Garnett then reviewed her patient’s living will. It was pretty specific and explicit, something not unusual for a medical doctor. If Janet didn’t respond to treatment within a certain amount of time, she would have to disconnect all life-support. She looked up at the stricken blonde. “Do you know what her living will says?”
Sam nodded. “I reviewed it on the way here. She doesn’t want to be kept on life-support indefinitely.”
“Right. She was very specific. If her GCS doesn’t improve to a certain level…” she trailed off. “I’m afraid we’re on the clock.” She took a deep breath and let it out. “I’ll leave instructions with the nurses to allow you unrestricted visitation.”
“Thank you,” Sam replied tearfully.
Dr. Garnett left the room.
Jack was getting some coffee from a vending machine when he saw the redheaded doctor. “Excuse me, Doctor?”
She turned and saw the man that had arrived with Major Carter. “Yes?”
“How is Doc Fraiser doing?”
“Not very well. Since she’s a medical doctor, she left very explicit instructions in her living will. If we don’t see some improvement in her GCS soon – that’s Glasgow Coma Scale – I’ll have no choice but to disconnect the life support. There’s nothing more we can do; it’s up to her now.”
He shook his head. “She’s a fighter. You just got to give her time to fight her way back.” He paused for a beat. “Do you know what exactly happened, how she came to be injured?”
“From what I was told, the cab she was riding in was in a terrible accident. She should have had more injuries, but her blood alcohol content was so high she may have already been passed out and didn’t brace before the impact, sparing her some broken bones.”
Jack nodded in understanding.
“Does she… Does Janet have a drinking problem?” Garnett asked gently.
Jack sighed. “Only since…” He had to stop and try to clear the tightening in his throat. “Only since her 15-year-old daughter died a few weeks ago.
“I see,” she replied softly. “Well, I have to go…”
“Jack. Jack O’Neill. Just call me Jack.”
“I have to go, Jack, but I would suggest making sure Sam takes a break every so often from sitting with Janet. She won’t do Janet any good by letting herself get overwrought and run down.”
He nodded in understanding. “I’ll look out for her.”
In Janet’s hospital room, Sam had pulled a chair up to the edge of her bed so she could sit down and still hold onto her hand. Sam and her team had been hurt or sick in the infirmary often enough to know that even when a person was unconscious, they still sometimes heard what was going on around them.
So, just as she had done a number of times for her teammates, and as they had done for her, she talked to Janet. She told Janet about missions she and SG-1 had been on in the intervening weeks. She told Janet about a hilarious outcome of a diplomatic visit gone awry and how the general unwittingly ended up the butt of an alien joke, but still managed to save the day and keep a little bit of his dignity intact.
And she told Janet how much she loved her and needed her.
“The doctor said it’s up to you, Janet. I know you – I know you can fight your way back to us if you want to. I know you’re hurting. We lost Cassie, but–” her voice cracked, “we still have each other. I’m right here, baby, and I’m not going anywhere.”
Jack stood at the doorway to Janet’s room. He’d come to check in on Sam. He found her asleep in a chair pulled up next to Doc’s bed. She was holding the doc’s hand and her head was resting on the edge of the bed. Her face was red and tear-streaked.
O’Neill wasn’t as dense as he often led people to think he was. He knew when he first met the young, blonde captain that she was something special. He’d even been flattered when he realized that she looked up to him, but he always knew nothing would ever develop between them. For one, it was against the regulations, and because, quite frankly, he knew he wasn’t in her league and she deserved more than what he could have ever given her. He could have never given her, or any woman, his whole heart. Even though he and Sara were divorced, she would always hold the larger portion of his heart.
Considering the number of men that had entered and left the young woman’s orbit, he had been taken by surprise when he found out about her and the doc. However, when he stopped to think about, they perfectly complimented each other. Even though he was career military, he didn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone’s sexual orientation. What mattered to him was if he could trust a person to have his back. Carter and Fraiser both clearly fell into that all-important group.
He quietly moved into the room and laid a gentle hand on the blonde’s shoulder. “Carter?”
Her head popped up. “I’m here.”
She looked up at him through sleepy eyes.
“Come on. You need to get something to eat.” He cut her off as she opened her mouth to protest. “You’re not going to do her any good if you keel over. Come with me – you’ll be back in a just a few minutes.”
As her stomach growled and ached a little with emptiness, she nodded. Sam stood and gazed down her lover. Giving her hand a squeeze she bent down and placed a kiss on Janet’s cheek. “I’ll be right back, love.”
Half asleep, she trusted O’Neill to guide her to the cafeteria where she could fill the physical needs of her body.
Two days passed and Janet showed no signs of improvement.
The doctor looked across the bed at her patient’s lover. “I’m really sorry, Sam, but as you know, Janet was very specific about her wishes. There’s been absolutely no improvement. With a GSC of three for so long…”
“I know,” she whispered as tears trailed down her face. “Just… just give me a minute alone with her.”
“Of course. Take whatever time you need to say goodbye,” she replied softly before leaving the room.
Sam squeezed Janet’s hand in her own. “Oh God, Janet… You completely changed my life the day we met. How am I supposed to say goodbye to you?” She stopped and sniffed, tried to swallow around the painful stricture in her throat. “Janet, please, don’t do this. Don’t give up, please!” Sam pleaded with her lover. “You have to fight to live!” She couldn’t continue. She collapsed into the chair next to the bed, sobbing.
O’Neill and Dr. Barnett came into the room.
Jack knelt in front of his friend and pulled her into his arms. The blonde threw her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder, her sobs continuing. He didn’t know what else to do, so he simply held her, bearing silent witness to her grief.
After a bit, her sobs died down. Sam felt so tired and drained and sad. Finally, she pulled back from O’Neill’s embrace, a little embarrassed at losing control in front of him. She looked up at the doctor and nodded, silently signaling the redhead to turn off the ventilator.
Dr. Joanne Garnett reached over, disabled the alarm, disconnected the hose, and then turned off the machine. As she held the clipboard with Janet’s chart, she looked at the clock, noted the time, and started to write down the time of death.
And then Janet inhaled.
Jack was actually the first one to react. “Doctor?!”
Garnett put the ends of her stethoscope in her ears, placed the bell against Janet’s chest, and listened.
Sam’s hand, clamped on O’Neill’s arm, reflexively squeezed painfully tight. It seemed like Garnett was taking forever. Finally, the redhead pulled back, removing the stethoscope from her ears.
“Her heart rate appears to be steady and her breathing, while shallow, is regular.” She quickly continued when she saw Sam and Jack’s sad expressions changing to hope. “I caution you, though, don’t get your hopes up too far. There’s no way to know how long she’ll continue like this. She could stop breathing any minute… or she could stay in this state for years.”
“Or she could get better, right?” Jack pressed.
She softly sighed. “It’s… possible.”
In the chair next to Janet’s bed, Sam suddenly sat upright and literally smacked her forehead. “Of course! Why the hell didn’t I think of it sooner?” She stood up and went looking for O’Neill. She found him at the vending machines getting another cup of coffee. She pulled him aside since she didn’t want anyone to overhear them.
“Sir, what if someone brings me the Goa’uld healing device?”
“I’d thought about that.” He took a slow breath. “I called the general and asked him about it, asked if we could use it if it would help Doc. He said he’d look into it.”
“So when is he going to call back?” she asked excitedly.
Jack dropped his eyes, not liking having to deliver bad news. “Hammond contacted Jacob…”
“Selmak said using the device wouldn’t help Doc in her condition – it could even make things worse.”
“How the hell would Selmak know what Janet’s condition is?” she demanded. “She could be wrong.”
“Dr. Warner’s been in touch with the hospital here – he’s got everything on Doc and her condition.”
The blonde deflated. “When did you think to ask the general about it?”
“About two hours after we got here.” He shrugged when he saw the expression on Sam’s face. “You’ve been understandably upset, Carter. I know what she means to you,” he added gently.
Another three days had passed with no change.
Sam woke up and was surprised to see Dr. David Warner going over Janet’s chart with Dr. Garnett. “Warner?”
“What are you doing here?”
“We’re discussing moving Dr. Fraiser.”
“Moving her? Moving her where?”
“Carter.” Standing in the doorway, Jack jerked his head to indicate she should come with him. Out in the hallway he explained. “We’ve arranged for an air ambulance to transfer Doc to the Academy hospital.”
“But couldn’t moving her make her worse?!”
“That’s what the doctors are discussing. If they give the go ahead we’ll take Doc back home. If they don’t think she should be moved we won’t.”
They turned and watched as a specialized gurney was brought in and Janet was very carefully transferred onto it. Only after she was hooked up to the monitors and equipment attached to the gurney did they start to wheel her out of the room.
Sam wasn’t happy that she couldn’t fly with Janet in the air ambulance, but the small jet filled with specialized medical equipment just didn’t allow room for extra passengers. Because it was a private charter, Janet would actually arrive back in Colorado Springs before she and O’Neill would.
Back in Colorado Springs, Sam was required to return to work and perform her duties, including going on an off-world mission. Considering how understanding, supportive, and helpful O’Neill and the general were being, she couldn’t really complain about it.
Janet woke up while Sam was off-world.
It was not sudden. She made the climb out of the abyss of her coma over the course of four days. When examined by the neurologist she was able to give her name, the year, and even her current location – the sights and sounds of the Academy hospital were indelibly imprinted in her mind.
Beyond the required responses to evaluate her cognitive function however, she remained intractably silent. Janet did not respond to the banter of the nurses as they came and went from her room. Nor did she acknowledge the presence of any visitors… not even Sam who’d excitedly rushed to see her after being told she was awake. The only indication Janet gave that she was aware of Sam’s – or anyone else’s – presence, was to deliberately close her eyes and turn her head way.
When Sam came to the hospital the third day following Janet’s return to consciousness, she was surprised to find Dr. MacKenzie in her lover’s room. She’d come to complete stop when she opened the door and saw him there.
MacKenzie looked over at the opening door as she started to enter. “Please wait outside, Major.”
She stepped back out into the hallway and waited for him to come out, because she didn’t want to make a scene in front of Janet. It was 15 minutes before MacKenzie came out. By then Sam had worked herself up into a full head of righteous steam.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?! Hasn’t Janet’s been through enough without having to deal with you trying to mess with her head?!”
“Do you serious think that Janet doesn’t need any help dealing with her feelings right now?” he asked evenly.
Mouth already open to continue her rant, Sam suddenly closed it, because she couldn’t deny that Janet needed help. “Yes, I think she needs up. I’m just don’t think she needs your help.”
“And whose help do you think she will benefit from? She’s now refusing all visitors, which is her right.”
“I can help her.”
He shook his head sadly. “She won’t see you either, Major.” He turned and walked away down the hallway.
Sam shook her head, then turned and entered Janet’s room. “Hi, Janet. How are you feeling today?”
She didn’t actually expect an answer given the brunette’s recent behavior. What she didn’t know was that as soon as she had entered Janet had hit the nurse call button. Sam just continued to talk about the SGC and her day until a nurse entered.
When the nurse entered, the sullen doctor gave the young lieutenant a hard look and then cut her eyes briefly at Sam. The lieutenant didn’t agree with Janet’s desire to have no visitors, but it was the patient’s right.
“I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to leave.”
“Why?” Sam clearly didn’t understand.
“The patient has explicitly expressed that she doesn’t want any visitors, so you’re going to have to leave.”
“What?” She looked at Janet. “Come on, Janet, tell her you didn’t mean me.”
The brunette still refused to acknowledge Sam’s presence.
“Janet,” Sam pressed.
She silently rolled onto her side, turning her back to the blonde.
Janet was not very happy. Hell, she was furious. The general had come by to see her to inform her that she would not be leaving the hospital unless and until Dr. MacKenzie said so. Even if it meant postponing her release date from the Air Force when the approval for her resignation came through.
In other words, she was stuck with no way out. They had even moved her to the secure ward. She let out sigh that sounded more like huff of disdain. Well, at least she had a private room and didn’t have to worry about any unwanted visitors anymore. Why couldn’t people just leave her the hell alone?
She turned when the door to her room opened and admitted Dr. MacKenzie. She simply glared at him. It must be time for another of their twice a day sessions. After a week she thought he’d catch on that while she might have to listen to him, she didn’t have to talk to him.
“The nurse told me you refused to take the medication I prescribed for you.”
“I do not need to be on an antidepressant.”
“In my opinion you do.”
“Unless I’m a danger to myself or others you can’t medicate me against my will.”
He sighed. She was right. Janet hadn’t shown any suicidal tendencies and the only danger she posed to others was being razed her sharp tongue. She either ignored people or lashed out at them verbally. Neither of which were grounds for medicating her against her will. However, whether she admitted it or not, she was depressed. He had no reason to believe the need for medication would not be temporary, just long enough to help her deal with the death of her daughter.
“Considering what you’ve been through it’s no surprise you’re depressed. And there’s certainly no shame.”
“I’m not depressed dammit! I’m fucking angry!!” she bellowed.
MacKenzie was a little surprised. It was the first crack he’d seen in her stubborn resistance. Usually she ignored him, or was just plain uncooperative. “Why are you so angry?”
Janet looked at the man as if he was a total moron. “Because my daughter didn’t have to die,” she growled.
He tried to get her to talk about what had happened to Cassandra, but Janet clammed up again, retreating behind a wall of defiant silence. However, he did feel there had been a little progress – it was the first time she’d even mentioned her daughter.
Janet Fraiser was a stubborn, willful, headstrong patient. But Dr. Stephen MacKenzie was determined to help her despite herself. And, she was making a little progress. However, his experience and expertise told him that when she finally did break down – which was inevitable – it was going to be a dramatic… and traumatic.
Janet had been holding on tighter and tighter, afraid to give in and give full vent to her feelings. She doubted her ability to escape the abyss if she touched the wellspring of the pain and sorrow that fought to be let out. She feared it would irreparably break her.
MacKenzie’s job was to make sure it didn’t. He knew Janet was going to need her support system before everything was said and done. So he made arrangements to have the biggest part of that system – Janet’s best friend, Major Carter – available during their sessions, just in case she was needed.
Sam had been surprised when MacKenzie had called her at work. It took everything she had to keep a civil tongue in her head – he symbolized whatever was keeping her apart from Janet. She just knew that he was somehow responsible for Janet suddenly refusing to allow any visitors… or at least she wanted to believe it was him. That way she could safely be mad at him. But if it had all been Janet’s idea… then it meant Janet didn’t want her around. And that possibility hurt too much, especially after coming so close to losing Janet forever.
“I feel we’re reaching a critical point in her therapy. When we get there, Janet is going to need all of the support she can get from those closest to her. While we’ve talked about her parents and brothers, I don’t believe they have filled a critical support role for her for the last few years. The person who has filled that role is you, Major. You’re her best friend and you helped her to raise Cassandra,” he explained. “So I would like you to be available during our next several sessions.”
She was definitely surprised. “By available you mean…”
“I mean I want you here at the hospital, so that you can join us when she needs you.”
“Okay. I’ll have to check my schedule to see when I’m available.”
“I’ve already spoken to General Hammond. He’s approved a modified duty schedule for you so that you can be here.”
“Alright. I’ll be there.”
Sam anxiously paced outside her lover’s room. There was only the door to the room keeping her from Janet, and she desperately wanted to see her, to talk to her, to hold her. But for three or four hours each day, she’d been stuck, seemingly permanently exiled to the hallway, unable to bridge the distance.
Each time she’d wait for when she would be needed and would be allowed to go to the woman she loved. And each time MacKenzie would come out and shake his head. He would then sit down and take some time to talk to her – to ask how she was doing.
Sam was astounded to realize that she actually saw genuine concern in his eyes. Even more surprising was that she found herself opening up and talking to him. MacKenzie wasn’t such an asshole after all. Even so, she did not let on to the man that she and Janet were lovers. Enough people already knew that, so there was no need to take the risk.
Suddenly the blonde stopped pacing. She could hear Janet yelling on the other side of that damn door. She couldn’t really make out what she was saying, but the tone in her raised voice spoke of pain.
“We’ve covered this ground over and over, Janet. I understand that you’re angry. And you have a right feel that way. But who are you mad at, and why?”
“Who am I mad at? Who am I mad at?! I’m mad at the whole goddamn world because my daughter is dead!!”
“No you’re not. The whole world didn’t have anything to do what happened,” he pressed. “So who are you mad at?”
“I’m angry at the goddamn Goa’uld for being evil! I’m angry at Nirrti for conducting fucking experiments on children! My child! I’m angry at Daniel for suggesting we trust Nirrti to help Cassie! I’m fucking angry at General Hammond taking too goddamn long to decide if my daughter was worth saving! I’M ANGRY AT HIM FOR HAVING TO BE CONVINCED CASSIE WAS WORTH SAVING IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!” She paused only long enough to take a breath. “I’m angry at O’Neill and Sam for letting that fucking bitch get away scot-free before making sure she really did cured Cassie! And I’m angry at everyone for pitying me!!”
While he didn’t doubt all of that was the truth, he knew that those things weren’t the root of what was eating away at the woman. And she’d never get better unless he unearthed it – unless she unearthed it.
“Janet,” he addressed her calmly as she panted and paced in the midst of her anger. He waited until she grudgingly looked at him. “Who are you really angry at, Janet?”
Out in the hallway, Sam heard an inarticulate wail. A sound so filled with utter devastation it sent a bolt of fear down her spine and made her heart seize. Suddenly the door to Janet’s room opened and MacKenzie signaled her to come in.
She found Janet crumpled on the floor beneath the windows, curled into a fetal position, her body wracked with gut-wrenching, soul-ripping sobbing. Without hesitation, Sam dropped to the floor and took the inconsolable woman in her arms, not knowing what else to do. She looked at MacKenzie in confused shock.
Janet continued to cry and wail, for several minutes, her lover’s presence making no impression on her. But eventually words began to be interspersed with her keening sobs.
“Oh God… I WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH!… I couldn’t save her because I wasn’t good enough…”
When she finally understood what Janet was saying Sam started crying. No wonder Janet had acted the way she had been. Janet literally bawled until her body could no longer continue and shut down from sheer exhaustion.
Sam looked up at the psychiatrist in question.
“That was the hardest step. Now there’s nothing holding her back. With some time and love and support, she’ll be alright.” He stood. “Stay as long as she wants you to. I’ll be back to check on you both in a while.” He left them alone – although he would keep an eye on them through the two-way observation window.
Janet wasn’t better overnight following her breakthrough; she still needed to process all the grief she’d been stuffing down inside for weeks which had turned into rage. She cried and yelled and cursed the world and herself… but she also healed. Dr. MacKenzie helped guide her through the maze of overwhelming emotions, the volatile rage and overwhelming sorrow, listening to her as she came to terms with something no parent should have to – the loss of her child.
And, perhaps more importantly, she let her lover, her daughter’s other parent, go through it all with her. As they talked about things, the petite doctor was ashamed of so many things she’d said and done. She owed so many apologies: Daniel, O’Neill… the general. But she started with Sam.
Janet was finally allowed to go home. There she and Sam took down the boxes from the attic and went through them. They looked at the pictures and talked about the events around them, sharing some good memories, trying to try to ease the pain. Some of the pictures were placed back where they belonged. The vase that Cassie had made for her mother that couldn’t hold water because of a hole in it retook its place as a pencil holder by the kitchen telephone. And the homemade certificate declaring Janet the World’s Greatest Mom and signed by both Cassie and Sam once again hung over her nightstand. Tears and words and hugs were shared as they found some measure of solace in their memories and each other.
Sam and Janet invited the men of SG-1 over for dinner. When the opportunity arose, Janet pulled Daniel aside.
“Can I talk to you?” she asked.
“Sure,” the archeologist replied.
She led him into the reading room (her old office). “Daniel… I’m sorry for what I said to you and particularly for the way I said it.”
“It’s okay, Janet. You weren’t exactly off base.” He looked down. “I’m sorry for crossing that line of friendship at times.”
“I want you to know I do value our friendship.”
“I do too.”
“Then we’re okay?”
“Yes, we are,” he assured her.
They hugged before going out and joining the others. Janet exchanged a look with her lover, letting her know everything was okay, and received a loving smile in return.
Then it was time to pull the colonel aside. Jack didn’t do touchy-feely very well, but this time he seemed to know that Janet needed to say whatever it was she needed to say.
“Colonel…” She had to close her eyes and deep, steadying breath to continue. “I’m really sorry for the way I acted…” she swallowed, “and for the things that I said to you. I know I resigned my commission, but Sam…”
“Is my teammate and XO. The only thing that matters is that I know I can count on her to have my back.” He captured her eyes and held them. “And I’ll always have hers… and yours.”
Janet’s eyes welled as she nodded, grateful that she hadn’t done anything to harm Sam’s career. “Sam told me what you said when you and guys picked her up to go to the airport.” A lone tear spilled down her cheek. “Thank you.”
Jack, not always one to be called Mr. Sensitive, did exactly the right thing. He wrapped her arms around the petite doctor and simply held her, giving her all the time she needed to regain her emotional balance.
Sam looked up when Jack and Janet emerged arm in arm and smiled. Her family was going to be okay.
General Hammond answered the door when his doorbell chimed. He was somewhat surprised by his visitor. “Dr. Fraiser.”
“May I come in, sir?”
“Of course.” He stepped aside and held the door for her. “Come in.”
She entered and then turned to face the man as he close the door. “I wanted to talk to you about…” She wasn’t exactly sure how to say it.
He gave her an understanding smile. “I was just about to have tea. Would you care to join me for a cup?”
“Yes, thank you.”
He poured them both a cup of hot tea and led her into his den where they both sat on the couch. “Now, what I can do for you, Doctor?”
She took a deep breath. “I want to apologize for my recent behavior and especially for… the way I acted in your office. I was way out of line. I’m sorry.”
He regarded her in silence for a few moments before speaking. “And I’m sorry.”
“For what?” she asked, confused.
“For ever giving you the impression that I didn’t think Cassandra was worth saving. I never thought otherwise. I only felt I had to weigh the consequences of our choices.”
Janet had to reach up and brush away the tears that had welled in her eyes. She nodded. “I didn’t really doubt you, I just…”
“It’s okay, Doctor, I do understand.”
“You’ve been more than understanding given my behavior. I know you very well could have filed some serious charges against me… you still could – I was AWOL.”
“Doctor… Janet, you are without question the best doctor I’ve ever known and you have always been outstanding officer. You’ve been an essential part of the SGC, saving the lives of everyone on the base, on Earth, and even lives on other worlds. You’ve never faltered in your leadership and duties no matter what crisis we’ve faced. If that hasn’t earned you a little… latitude given the circumstances, then we should all stop and ask ourselves what we’re doing.
“We ask so much of our people, more than the public will ever know or be able to understand. Everyone at the SGC, you included, has gone above the call of duty time and time again. But we can’t forget that despite the miracles we keep pulling off, that we’re all, in the end, human beings. If we forget that, if we forget that our decisions affect people, then we should pack it in because we’ve lost the war.
“I told you that day in my office that I don’t care if you’re gay. You are one the best officers I’ve ever had the privilege of serving with. I’ve already shredded that statement you gave me. As far as I’m concerned it never existed.” He paused a moment. “When the approval for your resignation comes through I’ll do whatever you want me to with it. I’ll sign it… or, I can shred it. It’s up to you, so think about it, and let me know.”
She was stunned. The general had every right to court martial her. Yet he was willing to go against policy to keep her in his command. She swallowed and nodded. “I will,” she replied softly.
Sam took some leave so that she and Janet could go away for a few days. The trip wasn’t about being romantic; it was about reconnecting and healing.
Walking along the Caribbean beach in silence, hand in hand, they took in the extraordinary sunset. They arrived back at the small cabana they were staying in and sat on the porch swing together. Sam wrapped her arm around the brunette’s shoulders and Janet laid her head on Sam’s shoulder. They continued to sit there after the sun dipped completely below the horizon and the sky turned to indigo.
“I’m sorry,” Janet said softly, her guilt sitting heavily on her soul.
“For everything. I never meant to hurt you. I just…” she trailed off as tears welled in her eyes.
“I know. What you said, about Cassie being your daughter…”
“Oh God, Sam, I didn’t mean it.” Tears slowly rolled down her cheeks.
“It hurt. But I know it wasn’t really you talking.” She took a slow, deep breath. “I had the guys to lean on, to help me deal with things. But you… you took everything onto yourself, tried to handle things by yourself and without any help. I only wanted to be there for you, to help you… to help us,” she finished softly.
“I am so sorry.”
“There’s no need for you to keep apologizing. If you need my forgiveness you have it.”
Some of the pain and fear that had gripped Janet’s heart eased. “I love you.”
“And I love you.” Sam cocked her head as she reached up and nudged Janet head off of her shoulder so that she could look into her eyes. “I will always be here for you and we’ll get through whatever we have to – together,” she said as she tenderly brushed her lover’s tears away.
“So we’re okay?”
“Yes, we’re okay… and together we’ll get even better.” They sealed their vow with a soft, loving kiss.