TITLE: Terra Nova
AUTHOR: Kathleen Anderson
CATEGORY: Angst/Drama, Romance: Sam/Jack, Daniel/Janet, AU
SPOILERS: Fail Safe, Rite of Passage, Tangent, Emancipation
SEASON/SEQUEL: Season five
CONTENT WARNINGS: death, cataclysmic event
SUMMARY: A "Fail Safe" what if. What if Carter couldn't fix the cargo ship?
ARCHIVE: Heliopolis. Anyone else want it? Mail me!
FEEDBACK: Of course!
DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. We have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the authors. Not to be archived without permission of the authors.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: "Fail Safe" refuses to leave me alone, so I wrote this. Some parts of this story are taken almost straight from the episode "Fail Safe" I'm not trying to pass them off as my own. Also, please note that the POV in this story switches from character to character.
"If Major Carter is unable to repair the cargo ship, you will report immediately to the Alpha Site and assume command."
"No debates on this one Jack, that's an order."
When we first found out about the asteroid we had eleven days and sixteen hours. I'd seen the movie, I knew it hits Paris but Carter said that this one would most likely hit Greenland or the Bering Sea. It sounds like a cliche, and I hate cliches, but according to Carter, this is serious. She's getting a team of geeks ready to go through the Stargate to Ravanna where Daniel and Jacob had crashed a Goa'uld cargo ship. It's kind of ironic that the one thing that can save us was built by our biggest enemy.
"We're good to go sir!" calls Carter as I enter the gateroom.
I see that her geeks have been busy. There's a big ass nuclear warhead loaded onto a transport and the guys all have packs strapped to their backs and many of them are carrying things that look like suitcases.
"Teal'c, show them the way."
Several of the guys follow Teal'c up the ramp and through the gate. Daniel joins us and asks Carter if the nuke is big enough. Never ask Carter questions about anything technical. She gives him a run down of the specs and Daniel seems impressed. Mind you, I'm pretty impressed myself.
"Hey! What are you doing?"
One of Carter's geeks, Spellman I think, is backing away from the Stargate, holding cases in his hands. Carter and I surround him as he babbles away about me not knowing what happens to my body when I go through this thing.
"Spellman, you're going."
I've had just about enough from this one. Giving Carter a glance, we push him into the event horizon. Carter follows and after a brief glance at the gateroom, I follow her.
The cargo ship is sitting in a large mud puddle. It appears to be in one piece, amazing. Carter gets the hatch open and we step in.
Shining my light around I observe, "It doesn't look so bad."
Carter assigns tasks to her geek force and they all head off, except Spellman who's asking for a restroom, he says it's his "first priority". Carter rolls her eyes and leads him away. That guy is really annoying me.
"Ah they'll fix it up." I say knowing that Carter can fix anything, "I'm confident."
"Me too." says Daniel.
"As am I." intones Teal'c.
I try to make myself useful, but that's hard when you know next to nothing. I noticed that Daniel was engrossed in a book, before he fell asleep. I should have brought some magazines. If Carter gets this thing moving, it's gonna be a long, boring ride.
One of the geeks notices that I'm not doing anything and asks me to watch some glowing green thing. I'm not sure what it's supposed to be doing. I feel someone breathing down my neck and tilt my head slightly and see Carter in my peripheral vision. Ahhh, see Carter, I am being useful!
After what seems like forever, we're all gathering in the forward section of the ship. One of the guys walks in and says that he's looked again, and he still can't find it. Someone else asks him if he checked the guidance system. Turns out that he's checked it twice.
Carter purposefully marches in and says, "Okay, well I guess we'll have to assume there isn't one on board."
Okay, now I'm really confused, "One what?"
"We're about ready to attempt an engine start, sir."
She still didn't answer my question, "Yeah fine, assume there isn't one what?"
Ooooooh, bad memories there, "The X-301?"
I'm suddenly disliking these geeks even more, "That was you guys?" I say, pointing a finger at them.
"You have to admit, it performed beautifully right up until the point that it sent you and Teal'c into...deep space."
Well now, if that's not the understatement of the century, "Shh..yeah"
Daniel looks at them, "Nice work."
Way to go with the sarcasm there Danny Boy! Ah yes, he'd learned from the best.
Enough of this, "Carter?" I give her a nod.
"Attempting engine start."
I love how she always knows what I'm thinking.
Carter bends down and flicks a switch, or something and then pushes a few buttons. The engines engage, the lights come on, this a good sign! And then they die.
Carter looks a little disappointed. I give her a look and she pushes the buttons again. Same thing. This is not a good sign.
Carter looks frustrated, "I don't understand why it won't work!"
One of the geeks steps forward and rattles off a string of technobabble that I don't even pretend to understand. Carter gives him a nod and he scurries off to adjust the power flow or something.
I look at Carter, and give her a small smile, "It'll work, I'm confident."
Daniel also smiles at Carter, "Me too."
Teal'c raises an eyebrow, "As am I."
"General, we're receiving a signal, audio only. It's from SG-1 sir."
"Patch it through."
Sergeant Davis nods and patches the message through.
"Stargate Command, do you read? Over."
"We hear you SG-1, what's going on?"
"We've hit a bit of a snag sir. Carter and her team are working on the problem, but it seems unlikely that this ship is ever going to take off again."
"I understand Colonel. You have your orders. Major Davis has arrived from the Pentagon and he's beginning the evacuation plans."
"Yes sir. SG-1 out."
I glance over at the Sergeant, his face looks paler than normal. We both had full confidence in Major Carter and her team of engineers. Hell, I didn't think there was anything that Major Carter couldn't fix. Until now. We've sent another message to the Tok'ra, but the clock is ticking. With a glance at the Sergeant, who is still looking stunned, I leave for my office. There's a phone call I have to make.
"Yes hello, Mr President. I've just received word from SG-1. It would appear that the ship is grounded.... Yes sir, I understand, my place is here.... Alpha Site evacuations will commence within the hour.... Thank you Mr President.... "
I hang up the phone and then pick up the receiver again. I dial the number with a slightly shaky hand.
"Hi sweetheart...yes, I'm still at work...is your sister Kayla there?..Can you put her on?..Hullo sweetheart, I won't be able to make it to your play tomorrow night...I know sweetie, I'm sorry...Something has come up..Yes it's very important..I know you do, I love you too..I promise that I'll make it up to you..We'll go out for ice cream soon...Say hi to your mom and dad for me....I'll see you soon..bye bye."
It's a lot easier to order people to their deaths than it is to lie to your Granddaughter.
"I'm sorry sir. The engines are just too badly damaged."
Daniel looked at Carter as if she'd suddenly sprouted another head.
Everyone had assembled in the forward section again, looking somewhat less than enthusiastic. Carter hung her head, I knew she felt as if it were her fault that the engines wouldn't work. The geeks were looking suitably sorry as well.
"Daniel, Teal'c, and the rest of you," I said gesturing towards the geeks, "Gather your things and report to the Alpha Site. Major Carter and I will follow you shortly."
There is much shuffling and murmuring as they pick up cases and bags and depart the ship.
Carter looked up at me, her eyes looking me over questioningly.
"General Hammond has ordered me to assume command at the Alpha Site in the event that the cargo ship could not be repaired."
Carter looked as appalled as I had when Hammond first informed me of this, "He can't do that, can he?"
I merely shrugged.
Carter murmured something, almost under her breath, I didn't catch what it was, "What did you say Carter?"
She grimaced, "I said, I guess the Captain always goes down with the ship."
I thought that it was an awful thing for her to say, but I chose not to say anything. She was right.
"I'm going to send another message through to the General. Why don't you gather up anything that could be useful."
Carter nodded and headed off. Might as well salvage what we could. Lord knows we'd need it on the other side of the gate.
I don't know if I can do this. I arrived at work this morning after dropping Cassie off at school as usual. I put on my lab coat and began to review the reports on the blood samples taken from SG-1 after their last mission. I had no idea that in two hours, Major Davis would be walking through the door and informing myself and my nurses that we were to begin evacuation of the SGC immediately. He handed us a sheet of paper. It was a list of names with dates and times.
"Take only what you need."
I stood facing Major Davis, looking up at him, "We're not going anywhere unless you tell me why and where we're going."
The Major looked at me, his brown eyes were clouded with emotion, "There's an asteroid that's going to hit Earth in approximately ten days and eight hours. We've been ordered to begin evacuating teams to the Alpha Site."
I didn't want to believe him. I'd seen the movie, Cassie and I cried, it was sad. But the asteroid didn't hit Earth.
"Aren't we going to try and stop it? Blow it up or something?", asked one of my nurses.
"SG-1 had gone yesterday, along with a team of engineers to Ravanna, in an attempt to repair a Goa'uld cargo ship that could have delivered a nuclear warhead to the asteroid. They were unsuccessful. They have since reported to the Alpha Site. By the orders of the President, everyone is to keep quiet about this. He doesn't want to start panic."
Major Davis turned and left, leaving me holding the sheet of paper, open mouthed.
I glanced over the lists, I was scheduled to depart with the last team in ten days. Ten days. What am I supposed to tell Cassie?
Carter and I had arrived at the Alpha Site and were taking the grand tour. I hadn't been here in a couple of months. Someone had sure been busy. It was basically a replica of the base at Cheyenne Mountain. There were enough quarters to house about a hundred people. I couldn't imagine that everyone would want to live in stark military quarters for the rest of their lives. We'd have to build houses and churches. This site was never intended to be a village. We'd have to work hard. Maybe I'm being pessimistic about Earth's chances, or maybe I'm just being realistic.
"General Hammond said we can start expecting evacuees within the hour. We'll have to start assigning quarters and delegating positions. Carter, are you listening to me?"
Carter looked at me, "Yes, sir, sorry sir. I was just thinking about how much this looks like the SGC. This could almost be Earth."
Before I could reply, we were joined by Daniel.
"Hey Daniel, what did you do with the ge...uh engineers?"
"Oh, they're uh, working on something they found in one of the labs."
Great, I can't believe those guys are going to be the future of the human race.
"Well, that's good. Keep them occupied."
"Oh yeah, and Spellman wants to know where the restrooms are."
If the situation weren't so dire, that would have been funny, "Probably the same place they are at the SGC, Daniel."
Daniel shook his head, "I checked, they aren't there. I've been looking for them, but I haven't found them yet."
"Oh well, okay, keep looking then. Let me know when you find them."
Daniel nodded and took off down the hall.
I glance at Carter, "Don't tell me they forgot to install restrooms..."
She offers me a smile, "I'm sure they didn't sir, I'm sure they didn't."
It's been eleven days since we were informed about the asteroid. I haven't been home since. If I leave, I'll never come back. They need me here. A knock on my door alerts me to me a presence.
"General?" It's Doctor Fraiser.
"Doctor.", I thought she'd already left, "Shouldn't you be off-world by now?"
"I'm leaving with the next group sir."
Ah, that would explain it.
"Your name isn't on the list sir."
"May I ask why?"
Doctor Fraiser steps into my office and closer to me. She's wearing fatigues, they suit her.
"When that asteroid hits, the only chance for the survival of the human race will rest with the Alpha Site. We've limited their number because they'll have limited resources. Everyone will have to contribute."
"Your experience makes you more than qualified sir."
"Hm, I appreciate what you're trying to do Doctor. But my decision is final."
Doctor Fraiser doesn't seem content with my response but nods her head and gives me a "yes sir."
She turns on her heels and leaves. I continue stare at the spot that she had occupied. I know that this situation is difficult for her as well. She's leaving Cassie behind. Hell, it's difficult for all of us.
When I dropped Cassandra off at school this morning, I hugged her. She looked embarrassed and tried to push me away with a "mom, my friends might be looking!" whine but I continued to hug her. I didn't tell her anything. I think she had noticed that I was more on-edge than usual. She wanted to see Sam, and she was disappointed when, on Saturday, Sam didn't show up to play chess. Sam had told her the previous week that she was going to be on Earth. I gave her some lame excuse that I don't think she bought. She spent the afternoon with Dominic at the mall instead.
It was strange to arrive at the base and be greeted with empty corridors. Of course, almost everyone had already been evacuated to the Alpha Site. There were three teams scheduled to depart today. I was on the last, which would depart approximately thirty-nine minutes before the asteroid would hit Earth. I changed into fatigues today rather than put on my lab coat. Then, there was someone I needed to talk to.
The General is staying behind. I noticed that his name wasn't on the list, and hoping that it was merely an error, I went to speak with him. He told me that he wouldn't be going. Another person that I'll never see again.
Carter and I had just welcomed another team of evacuees. There was still one more team to come through that gate and we had another half hour before they arrived.
I had assigned Daniel to the task of putting people in quarters and he was leading the team out of the gate room and into the corridors. I saw the looks on their faces. It's the same with every team. None of them can really believe that this isn't Earth.
I rub my hands over my face, and try to suppress a yawn.
Carter puts her hand on my arm and silently lets me know that I'm not alone. We've been doing that a lot lately, touching each other.
"So, Carter...when that asteroid hits. What will happen?"
I've been wanting to ask that question for a while now. It just never felt like an appropriate subject before now.
"The force of the impact will most likely result in a series of volcanic eruptions. Much of the Earth will be buried in lava and the dirt and ash will block out the sun's rays. It will be cold and dark and the planet will no longer be able to support life."
Trust Carter to know the cold, hard facts.
"Isn't that what they think wiped out the dinosaurs?"
Carter nodded, her face grim.
The last team stands on the ramp, awaiting my order to proceed through the gate. I'm in the control room, with Sergeant Davis and Major Davis. We've waited until thirty-nine minutes remain. Someone had calculated that this was when the asteroid passed the fail safe position. We'd still been holding out hope that someone would help us. Now it's too late.
"Major..Sergeant, take your positions with the last Alpha group."
The Sergeant opens his mouth as if to say something, but I stop him, "That's an order Sergeant."
He gets off his chair and heads down the stairs, Major Davis follows, but then turns to face me, "General."
"I haven't been relieved of this command Major."
Davis takes my hand and shakes it.
He hurriedly leaves the room. I look out at the Stargate, shimmering. I watch as the teams, my people, make their way through. Doctor Fraiser is the last to go. She turns around and knowing that I'm watching, gives me a salute. I raise my hand and salute her as well. I salute all of them.
Everyone's through now. Everyone who is coming. Carter has gone off to be with Janet, leaving me alone in the gateroom. Sergeant Davis, who came through with the last group, has gone to the control room to see if he can be helpful there and Major Davis is with Daniel. I check my watch. Thirty minutes.
This is so damn hard. A lieutenant came up me yesterday and asked me if I was planning to hold a memorial service. I told her that it was a good idea. But how do you hold a service for six billion lost souls? I'd made a mental note to consult Carter on that one. She always had good ideas. These people need closure.
Daniel and Sam showed me to my quarters. Daniel held my hand and then said that he had to go. Sam chose to stay.
"Cassie missed you on Saturday."
"Did you tell her?"
"I couldn't. Not just because of the orders. I didn't want her to know."
Sam nodded, she understood. Cassie was like a daughter to her. They'd always been close.
"It's so damn hard."
Sam looked close to tears. She'd probably been holding back her emotions since she got here.
A tear slipped down her cheek and she angrily wiped it away.
"It's not fair. It's not fair for us to be here, while there are people who are still on Earth. Better people than me."
"General Hammond says good-bye and that it was a pleasure to serve with you."
The General had asked me to pass that along to all members of SG-1. That's all it takes for Sam's walls to come down. The tears stream down her face. She's not bothering to wipe them away at all.
I grab Sam and hug her. My own tears fall onto the dull green fabric of her fatigues.
Ten minutes. I hadn't bothered to disengage the count-down. It was dark now, save for the emergency floodlights. It didn't feel right to be lighting up an empty base. I'm sure the electricity would be needed more somewhere else.
I gaze out into the gateroom. The Stargate stands there proudly. I hope that my people will still continue to explore once they have settled into their new home. It would be a shame if they didn't. I had ordered Major Davis to lock out Earth's co-ordinates from the dialling computer at the Alpha Site. I didn't want them trying to return.
Eight minutes. I think of my granddaughters. Kayla and I never went out for ice cream. She loves chocolate ice cream. I think she would live on the stuff if given the opportunity.
Five minutes. I try to remember what someone had told me would happen when the asteroid hits. At ground zero, all life will perish instantly. Volcanoes will erupt, killing millions and flooding much of the Earth with lava. Everything else will cease to exist as the sky fills with ash and dust.
Two minutes. All I can do is pray.
The alarm on my watch beeps. I don't bother to look at it, or turn it off. I know what it means. Daniel stands beside me, and Teal'c beside him. We are looking at the Stargate. We are honouring those who have died.
Jack, Teal'c and I were standing in front of the Stargate and the alarm on Jack's watch went off. It just beeped. We use beeps to signify so many things in our lives. The microwave beeps when our food is ready. Vehicles beep to warn others of danger, or just to get them moving. When you die, the heart monitor beep. This beep was for six billion people. Beep Beep Beep. If we could let it beep six billion times, we would.
Jack had put me in charge of assigning the evacuees to quarters. He said that I was the only one he trusted to do the job properly. It wasn't an easy job to show people their new homes. Jack had said to me that once everyone had time to grieve that we would start to build proper houses. There's so much that we have to consider now. We are the future of the human race.
Jack shuts off the alarm and turns and leaves without a saying a word. He wants to be alone. He doesn't want anyone to see him grieve.
Teal'c turns to me and says, "My presence may be required elsewhere, I will see you later DanielJackson."
I've been wondering if Teal'c is going to remain with us. I wouldn't blame him if he chose to leave and rejoin his wife and child. There is no reason for him to be here. We aren't going to be doing any Goa'uld hunting soon.
I stuff my hands in my pocket and decide to head upstairs to the control room. I find Sergeant Davis and Major Davis there. Jack's going to have to assign either Major Davis or Major Carter as the second-in-command of this facility. I wonder which one he'll choose.
"I have orders from General Hammond himself to lock out Earth's co-ordinates from this dialling computer."
My heart thuds in my chest. Lock out Earth. I hadn't even thought of returning. I had assumed that the gate would buried. What if it wasn't? Would we ever have tried to go back in the future? Would our children and grandchildren ever want to go back?
"Aye, sir, locking out Earth's co-ordinates."
We could still go back someday.
Janet and I had sat quietly in her quarters as the Time came and went. We had cried and hugged one another. It's too much for me to take in right now. My scientific mind is telling me exactly what would be happening on Earth right now, but I don't want to hear it. I want to block it all out.
Janet is staring at the military issue comforter and picking invisible lint off of it. I think she wants to be alone right now.
"Janet? I'm going to go see if I can find Colonel O'Neill."
Janet nods and I take my leave.
I find the Colonel sitting in the empty gymnasium. He's wearing boxing gloves and I'm guessing that he's taken his frustration out on the punching bag. Better that than one of the airmen.
"Mind if I join you?"
"Do I have a choice?"
I shake my head and sit down beside him. I put my hand on his arm and rub it gently. I know he's hurting, but he'd never admit to that.
"Janet's not taking this very well."
"She had to leave Cassie. I'll get Daniel to talk to her. She seems to like him."
I chuckle slightly at that. Janet did like Daniel. A lot. He did spend an inordinate amount of time in the infirmary. I think that Daniel likes her too.
"What about you, sir? How you are doing?"
I know that I might be pushing it a bit to be asking him that, but I need to know.
"I'm fine Carter. I didn't have to leave anyone behind."
Oh but he did. He had more friends than he knows.
Jack's asked me to talk to Janet. He said that she was taking this whole situation pretty badly. Why doesn't Sam spend some more time with her? They are best friends. It's not that I don't want to see Janet, I just don't want to see Janet cry. She's always been so strong, even when one of us was laying on the bed dying, she kept her wits about her and never cried. The only time that I've seen her close to tears was when Cassandra was sick.
Janet is in the infirmary, setting up some equipment. She looks fine to me, I wonder what Jack was talking about.
Janet sets a box down and turns around to face me.
"Daniel! Don't tell me that you've injured yourself already?"
"Well, I did stub my toe yesterday, but I think it will be fine without medical attention. That's not why I'm here."
Janet looks almost disappointed that I'm not injured. I guess that she wants to feel useful, keep herself busy.
"Yeah, uhm, Jack asked me to talk to you."
I shrug, "He seems to think that you could use a sounding board."
"I'm fine, Daniel. Thank you for your concern. Now if you would excuse me, I have a lot of work to get done."
I leave the infirmary, feeling slightly ashamed of myself. I never should have listened to Jack. I should have waited for her to come to me.
Thank goodness the designers of this place had enough sense to make separate locker rooms for the males and the females. I'm still not fond of having to share my bathroom with 45 other women everyday, but it sure beats sharing it with the guys. We've been here for two weeks now. Jack and I organized a memorial service the other week. It was a very simple, solemn occasion. I would have liked to have sent a wreath through the gate to Earth, but those co-ordinates have been locked out.
I reach for my BDU's and begin to tug the pants on. SG-1 and Janet are going outside today. We need to search for edible plants and Janet wants to see if any of them can be used for medicinal purposes. We're running out of supplies at an alarming rate. This planet was chosen because of its likeness to Earth as well as because it's out of Goa'uld territory. I'd been outsdie a couple of times before, but never for a very long time. Jack had decided that it would be best to keep the people in the base for the time-being.
That would be Jack banging on the door seeing if I'm ready to go yet.
"Just about ready sir!"
I started to think of him as Jack after the memorial service. It seems appropriate. There is no airforce anymore. We have a chain of command here and he is still my superior, but it feels different now.
I pull on my jacket and step out into the corridor. Jack, Daniel and Teal'c are waiting for me. Janet had finished getting dressed about ten minutes ago and had gone to the infirmary to pick up the equipment she needed.
"We're meeting the Doc outside. She wanted to get a head start."
I nod and follow the guys outside.
This is a really beautiful area that the base is in. There's a mountain range to the north, a river to the west and a lot of forest. Jack had made a quip about the trees the first time we toured this area. I don't think he'll mind them so much now that we need them.
We find Janet bent over a large bush, snipping off leaves. The air is crisp and I can tell it must be this planet's equivalent of autumn. It was late November when we left Earth, so I'm assuming that the seasons must be pretty much in sync.
"Do we know anything about the local wildlife?"
Daniel seems somewhat concerned. I had heard that he once had a bad experience with native animals while on the original Abydos mission.
"There are reports of deer-like animals, as well as bears and the usual woodland creatures. I imagine that most of them will be more scared of us than we are of them."
I've memorized all files pretaining to this site. It's good to know these things sometimes.
"Doc, we ready to move out?" Jack asks, looking somewhat impatient.
Janet nods and we begin to walk.
Janet did come and talk to me. We talked for a long time about a lot of things. I think we have an understanding now. Jack has given her more influence over what goes on in this base than she did at the SGC. She's more than just the CMO here. She's been accompanying us on missions to explore the surrounding area and I think she appreciates that. Jack really shouldn't leave the base as often as he does, but he just puts Major Davis in command and off we go.
We're on one such mission right now. A couple weeks ago Janet discovered a plant that seems to be a 'miracle drug', as she put it, much like the one used by the Shavadai on P3X-593. She wants to go out and collect more of it. Jack's gotten it into his head that he can shoot a deer and Sam wants to collect more soil samples. Teal'c and I are just along for the fun.
I talked with Teal'c the other day, about him leaving us. He told me, 'I take my leave when the time is right' I don't want him to leave.
I'm sitting on a large boulder watching Jack prowl around in the underbrush while Janet busily hacks a bush to death. Sam and Teal'c have gone to the meadow that's about mile south of us.
"Find anything yet Jack?"
Jack stands up and glares at me, "Not if you keep yellin' like that!"
The bush to my left laughs.
I sigh and pull a journal out my backpack. I've been keeping a journal since I got here. I want to be able to pass something on to my children, if I have any. I've written about Earth and the experience of leaving it. Jack said that if he has any kids, he's gonna tell them all about the Simpsons. I'd rather tell mine about the Mesopotamian Ziggurats, the Egyptian Pyramids and the Roman Colliseum. Jack and I differ somewhat on our views of great Earth culture.
"Daniel, you wanna give me a hand here?"
Janet has gotten a branch caught in her hair.
I slide down off the boulder and begin to work the branch out of her hair.
"The poor bush never stood a chance against you."
The bush does look rather pitiful. Janet has stripped it of most of its leaves and braches.
"I think it's trying to get back at me!"
I chuckle and get her free of the offending bush.
Our moment is interrupted by a loud bang and hoots and hollers begin to come from Jack's direction.
"I got one! Woo hoo!"
Jack appears and waves me over, "Come help me with it Daniel!"
Janet rolls her eyes and I crash through the brush towards Jack.
It's December 21st. Christmas is in four days. Jack insisted that we get a tree, so we took Teal'c and went off into the forest looking for the perfect tree. Luckily this planet has evergreens, so we were able to find one that looked almost exactly like a Douglas Fir. Jack and Teal'c dragged the tree back to the base on a makeshift sled. It turns out that this planet gets a lot of snow. There's probably about three feet of it on the ground right now. Someone had been outside and made snowmen. Jack's been letting people out of the building more lately. They were starting to get cabin fever. However, no one can leave alone and they have to sign out. One of the snowmen looks like it's waving and I find myself giggling at the absurdity of it all.
There won't be many presents this year, but that's okay, no one is expecting Santa Claus this year. Maybe next year. Jack's been making plans for housing come spring.
Daniel's been busy in one of the labs a lot lately. I asked what he was doing in there once and his only reply was to mumble, "I'm making something." It's probably something for Janet. It's no secret that they like each other. Janet told me herself that she and Daniel are "dating" I have to say that I'm a bit jealous.
"Hey Carter! Catch!"
A snowball hits me on the back of the head. And oh great, Teal'c's decided that this looks like fun and soon another snowball is lobbed my way.
I refuse to dignify this little game of theirs with a response. They can throw snowballs at each other.
"Hey come on Carter! Be a sport!"
I shake my head and then bend down and scoop up a handful of snow. It's perfect snowball snow. I pack it into a small ball and whirl around and whip it right at Jack's unsuspecting head.
"That was a very good hit MajorCarter."
"Thank you Teal'c, now we'd better get this tree inside so it can dry off a bit."
Jack, who is still wiping snow out of his eyes, grumbles as he and Teal'c force the tree through the door and into the elevator.
It's Daniel, sounding a bit breathless.
"Wow, that's a nice tree!"
"You think so? Carter picked it out."
"Yeah, where are we going to put it?"
I shrug, "We were thinking maybe in the commissary. Everyone goes there. We need to let it dry off a bit here though before we make anymore puddles."
The tree was making a large wet spot on the concrete.
"I'm gonna go get out of these wet clothes", Jack said, pulling on his pant leg.
Teal'c nodded in agreement, "Indeed."
Jack and Teal'c took off, leaving Daniel and I alone.
"So, Daniel, get that thing for Janet done yet?"
Daniel pretends to look confused, "What thing for Janet?"
"Oh come on, Daniel, I know that you've been making something for her in that lab."
Daniel scuffs his boot in the puddle, "Yeah okay, you wanna come see it?"
I nod and Daniel leads me to the lab.
He made her a necklace. He took pieces of scrap metal and fashioned them into a necklace. It's beautiful.
"Janet's gonna love this."
"You think so?"
"Yeah, for sure."
"You can't tell her anything though!"
I laugh, "Don't worry, I won't say a word."
Janet's so lucky.
Janet loved the necklace. She cried when I gave it to her. Christmas was nice, people really pulled together. Jack went out and shot a couple of deer, he's getting really quite proficient with that, so we ate well. Some people sang carols and others retreated to their quarters to remember lost loved ones. Jack watched it all with a smile on his face.
After Christmas, New Years came and went. It's 2002 now. Teal'c came by to see me yesterday. He's leaving tomorrow. I talked to Jack about it, and we decided not to make a big deal of it. He had sent a memo around with an open invitation to see Teal'c off. I'd been dreading this day since we arrived.
Teal'c is leaving, today, at 1300 hours. He's leaving us to be with his wife and son. I have no right to feel so upset, there's nothing here for him and we can't make him stay. Jack came by my quarters last night to drop off a memo. He stayed for a while and we talked.
Everyone has come to see Teal'c off. The gateroom is so crowded that I can barely move. Teal'c, dressed in robes, is standing on the ramp. Jack is beside me, and I feel him take my hand in his own.
"I wish you all the best of luck. And thank you, for allowing me to serve along side of you. I have learned a great deal. I will return some day."
The room burst into applause and Teal'c bowed slightly, then stepped through the Stargate.
After that, people began filing out of the room. I was close to tears, but not willing to cry in front of Jack. Jack, who was still holding my hand, pulled me closer to him and wrapped his arms around me. I'd forgotten how nice it was to be held.
It's been two months since Teal'c left us and now February has come and gone. We celebrated Valentine's Day. People are starting to pair off so it made sense. I gave Janet a card and a kiss, she said it was the best Valentine that anyone had ever given her. I had helped Jack make a pair of earrings for Sam. She loved them. It's only early March but already the snow is melting and the trees are starting to bud. Jack's been talking about building houses a lot more lately. I heard that he's got Siler and a couple of other guys drawing up plans.
Janet misses Cassie. We talk about her sometimes, late at night. Janet will tell me about the time that she and Cassie went to a lake and rented a row boat, and then she'll start crying. In the daylight, Janet pretends that she's so strong, that nothing ever bothers her. She pretends that she didn't leave a 16 year old girl behind to die. When the night comes, she's transformed into the Janet that I love, the one that lets me hold her while she cries.
"Warning, unauthorized incoming wormhole!"
The alert jars me out of my reverie and I take off towards the control room.
"Daniel! Wait for me!"
It's Sam, telling me to hold the elevator.
"Who do you think it is?", I ask after Sam's stepped in beside me.
Sam shrugs and the elevator deposits us into the control room.
Sergeant Davis is at the controls, Jack is behind him and Major Davis is standing beside Jack.
"Receiving Tok'ra IDC."
I hear Sam gasp and Jack gives the order to open the iris. As he does that, Sam's flying down the steps and into the gateroom. Jack follows her and I, deciding that all the excitement's down there, follow him.
A figure emerges from the wormhole and runs down the ramp towards Sam. They hug and I can see that it's Jacob, Sam's father.
"Sam! I've been so worried about you!"
I'm crying as my father hugs me.
"We got your message about the asteroid, but there was nothing we could do. I'm so sorry Sam. I couldn't come until now."
My father lets go of me and turns to Jack. They make like they're going to shake hands, but instead he envelopes Jack in a hug. He then turns to Daniel, and they shake hands.
"Where's George?" he asks, looking around.
Jack looks at me and then says, "He didn't come. He stayed on Earth."
My father looks stunned and saddened by this news. He and General Hammond were old friends.
He recovers soon enough, "Then you're in charge of this place Jack?"
Jack nods, "And ain't she a beaut? Feel up to the grand tour Jake?"
He nods and we leave the gateroom.
Much later, dad and I are sitting in the commissary. I'm picking at something that tastes vaguely like chicken and dad had declared that he wasn't hungry.
"So Doctor Jackson and Doctor Fraiser. I never would have put those two together."
"They make a cute couple. Janet's really happy with him."
Dad pulls a face, "You know, if they ever get married, her name's gonna be Janet Jackson."
I laugh, "Janet and I have discussed that. We've decided that Daniel's going to take her name instead and become Daniel Fraiser."
Dad is strangely silent for a few moments.
He looks at me and smiles, "Sorry about that. Selmak was curious as to who Janet Jackson was."
I laugh again and pop another forkful of the "chicken" into my mouth.
"So what about you?"
"What about me?"
"Is there anyone special in your life?"
I feel myself blush. Dad doesn't usually ask such forward questions.
"Should there be?"
"I just thought, since everyone else at this place seems to be pairing off, that maybe you had someone."
I put my fork down and reach for my glass of water. I might as well tell him, "Jack."
Dad grins, "I figured that he'd be the one."
I smile back at him, I knew that he liked Jack.
Dad stayed for two more days, then he left promising to return often. He said that next time he'd bring more Tok'ra with him. He knows that we would like visitors. Jack joked that maybe we could have a raucous party but Jacob didn't seem to think that the Tok'ra were big party animals. I think he's right. Before dad left, he'd pulled Jack aside and I knew that he was giving him the Speech that he always gives any guy that's with me. It made everything seem right. This place is almost starting to feel like home.
I'm sitting with Sam's head resting on my shoulder. She's asleep, dozed off about an hour ago. The fire is still flickering, but it's not giving off much heat. I poke Sam gently in the ribs, she stirs but does not awaken. I poke her again, this time a bit harder.
Sam mumbles something incoherant and sits up fully.
"Hey sleeping beauty." I say, teasing her.
Sam runs her hands through her tangled hair and gives me a look.
"What time is it?"
I shrug, "Late. Bed time."
Sam blinks once and then pushes herself off the couch.
"You go ahead," she says, "I need something to drink first."
I nod and leave for the bathroom. Sam and I have been living together for just over a year now, since we got the first house built. Everyone insisted that we take the first house. I didn't argue. More houses followed rapidly after that. Some people elected to remain in their quarters on the base. I was glad for that, it meant that the base could always be staffed. You never know when we might be receiving visitors.
After brushing my teeth, and washing my face (to please Sam) I head for the bedroom and change into shorts and a t-shirt. I wanted to sleep naked, but Sam had a few things to say about that. 'What if someone came in here during the night?' 'What if you're needed immediately for an emergency?' 'What if we had to leave in a hurry?'
When I was almost asleep, Sam joined me in the bed, putting her cold feet against my leg. The rest of her body soon followed her feet as she pressed herself against me.
"Maybe you should take a hot bath before coming to bed. You might not feel like a giant popsicle that way."
Sam laughs. Her breath is hot on my shoulder. I can feel her breasts on my chest and further down, her gently rounded middle is warm on my own. Sam's pregnant. Five months along now, according to Janet's calculations. Our baby isn't the first. Daniel and Janet share that honour. They have a little girl, three months old. Her name is Cassandra, for the young girl that was left behind.
Cassandra looks up at me, her blue eyes wide. I can't help but smile. My daughter is so beautiful, what mother wouldn't be proud? I say she looks like her father, but he says that she's the spitting image of me. Her blue eyes are definitely his though.
It's Daniel, he told me that he'd be home in time for supper.
"In the kitchen!"
Daniel appears and grabs me around the waist.
"Hey, mmm, that smells good." he says, gently kissing my neck.
He lets go of me and moves to Cassandra. Picking her up, he plants a kiss on her forehead.
"Hey sweetie." he coos softly to her.
It's no surprise to me how much he loves her. He's always been great with kids and now that he has his own, he's even better, if that's possible.
"Did you guys get a lot done today?" The 'menfolk' and many of the women are building a church, it's been slow going for the most part.
Daniel nodded, not taking his eyes off Cassandra, "We got the floorboards laid down today."
"Good to know that it's got a floor, I'm assuming that no one was injured today?" I'm asking because this project seems to be plagued by injuries. Last week Siler took a tumble and hit his head, and the week before that, Paul Davis was brought into my kitchen with a towel wrapped around his hand that was doing nothing to stop the bleeding. He's somehow managed to slice his hand open and it required several sutures.
"Not a one" he answers, and I feel relieved.
"Do I have time for a quick shower before dinner?"
I give the pot a stir and nod. Cassandra begins to fuss, so Daniel puts her back down. He gives me a smile and then leaves the kitchen, removing his shirt on the way.
It's quite amazing really, what we've accomplished in the time that we've been here. There is now a small village surrounding the base. Every house has running hot water, thanks to some ingenuity by Grant Nelson and Jack. Everyone really pulled together and made this place home.
Something is prodding me in the ribs.
"Jack! Wake up dammit!"
I roll over and find Sam sitting up with a frightened expression on her face.
"What's wrong" I ask immediately, "Is there something wrong?"
Sam nods, "I think I felt a contraction."
"Are you sure? It's too early!"
Sam looks at me, a tear rolls down her cheek, "I'm sure."
"You stay here," I say, jumping out of bed, "I'm going to get Janet."
Sam nods and I lean over and kiss her gently. Pulling on a pair of pants and shirt, I race out of the room and out the door.
It doesn't take long to get to Daniel and Janet's house, it's just through a small patch of forest. Before I can catch my breath, I'm banging on their door.
I pound my fists against the wooden door.
As I reach up to pound again, the door opens, revealling a sleepy looking Janet.
"What is it? It's 2:00 in the morning and you're going to wake Cassandra."
I take a breath, "It's Sam. She's having contractions."
Janet's eyes widen, "She can't be. She's only at eight months, it's too early."
"I know. Sam's scared." I was scared too and I think Janet knew that.
"Just let me put some clothes on and I'll come right over."
Janet hustles away from door, and she is soon replaced by Daniel who is rubbing his eyes.
"What's going on?" he asks sleepily.
"Sam might be having the baby."
"I thought she wasn't due for at least another month."
Daniel looks a bit shocked, but before he can say anything, Janet breezes past him, clutching her medicine bag.
"Let's go." she says. I know she's in doctor mode now.
I'm afraid of what I'll find when I arrive at Sam and Jack's house. I'd been fearing something like this. If I had more sophisticated medical equipment, this wouldn't be a problem. Most babies who are born at eight months survive, but I don't even have an incubator. I clutch my medicine bag tighter and hope for the best.
Jack pushes open the door to his house and leads me to the bedroom where I find Sam curled up into a ball on the bed.
"Sam, sweetie." I rush over to her and she looks up at me, there's fear in her eyes.
I put my hand on her forehead, she's not hot, that's a good sign.
"My water broke."
I look at the bed and see that it looks damp. There's no stopping it now, Sam's having this baby whether it's ready to come out or not.
I turn to look at Jack who's standing nervously behind me, "Can you get me some clean sheets and boil some water?"
He nods and looks relieved to be doing something.
"Sam, I have to check how much you're dialated, can you lay on your back for me?"
Sam complies and I find that she's already at 5 centimeters. I don't know why she's gone into labour, her pregnancy had been normal since the beginning.
"Janet? Is my baby going to be alright?"
Sam's looking up at me, her blue eyes are wide. I don't know what to tell her.
"I don't know Sam, but I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure it is."
I clasp her hand in my own and help her through a contraction.
I'm standing in front of the stove, willing the pot of water I have on it to boil. They say that a watched pot never boils. God, I hate cliches. I hear Sam cry out in pain and Janet's soft murmering. I don't know if I can get through this. I wasn't with Sarah when Charlie was born, I arrived at the hospital about an hour afterwards. I missed all the 'good' stuff.
Tiny bubbles begin to form on the bottom of the pot and I continue to stare at it. I'm afraid. More afraid than I think I have ever been. We knew there was an element of risk involved with pregnancy here, but it wasn't like we planned it. Our baby could die. Sam could die. Sam cries out again and Janet tells her to breathe. I have complete confidence in Janet, I know she'll do everything she can.
After another five minutes, the water comes to a full rolling boil, I call Janet into the kitchen and she comes armed with several scary looking instruments. She tosses them into the water and lets them sit there.
"I'll go grabs the sheets now."
Janet nods and reaches for a spoon to fish the instruments out with.
Sam keeps the sheets in a cubby in the hallway. All of them are neatly folded and spotless. I grab an armful and head back to the bedroom. Janet is spreading a towel out onto the night table and Sam is laying on her back, breathing heavily. I set the sheets down and go over to her.
The bed creaks softly as I sit down next to her. She opens her eyes and tries to smile at me.
"Hey", I say in what I hope is a not too concerned voice, "How you doing?"
Sam grimaces, "It's not so bad, most of the time. Janet says that it shouldn't be much longer until I can start pushing."
I smooth her hair back from her forehead and gently kiss her. She's strong, she'll be alright.
I smile as I watch Sam and Jack cuddle their baby. Their little boy is a tad small, but from what I can determine, perfectly healthy. I've asked them to bring him to the infirmary on the base tomorrow, I can run more thorough tests there. I put my various instruments back into the medical bag and give Sam another once over and tell Jack that if she experiences anything unusual to come and get me without delay. Giving them one last glance, I leave the room and make for the door.
Daniel is sitting on a chair cradling Cassandra.
"Has she been fussing?" I ask, slightly concerned about having to leave her for so long.
"She started to cry about an hour ago, I figured she was hungry so I gave her a bottle. How is Sam? Is she alright?"
I nod, "From what I can tell, she and the baby are both fine."
"Is it a boy or a girl?"
"A little boy, they haven't decided on a name for him yet. Sam was so sure that she was going to have a girl, so they had pretty much only discussed girl's names."
Daniel chuckled, "You were so certain that Cassandra was a boy. What was the name that you wanted? Jeremy?"
I reach out and take Cassandra from him, she moves slightly and snorts softly but doesn't wake up, "Yeah, Jeremy. I've always liked that name, I should suggest it to Sam and Jack."
Daniel stands up and kisses me, "Who says that you won't get the chance to use it?"
I really can't imagine myself having more than one child, "You think that Cassandra would want a little brother?"
"What kid doesn't?"
I shrug, "I'll tell you what, I'll think about, but I am not having another kid while this one's still in diapers!"
Daniel yawns, "I'd better get dressed, I'm supposed to helping Paul build some more chairs today."
Daniel walks away and heads for the bedroom. I look down at Cassandra, asleep in my arms. If someone had told me two years ago that I would be living on another planet, married to Daniel Jackson and have a baby, I would have laughed and recommended that they speak with Doctor MacKenzie immediately.
"Do you think he's dreaming?" Sam is standing over Cameron's crib, gazing down at him.
"Sure, I guess that babies dream."
"What would they have to dream about?"
I point at Sam's chest and she laughs. It's been two months since Cameron was born. I can't remember being this happy. When Charlie was young, I wasn't around much. I'm making up for that now. I made a promise to Cameron, when he was only a few hours old that I would never let him down. I intend to keep that promise.
"Did Paul say what he wanted to talk to you about?"
I shake my head, "No, all he said was that he wanted to see me in the briefing room to discuss some important matters."
"Well then, I guess you'd better go. He's probably concerned about the design of the houses or something."
I lean over and kiss Sam before heading out the door and towards the base. I really can't figure out why Paul would want to speak to me in a secluded area of the base. He must have something really important on his mind. I enter the base and make for the briefing room.
Paul checks his watch as I enter the room, "Geez Jack, I was beginning to think that you'd never come."
"Yeah sorry, I was busy with Sam and the baby."
Paul smiles, "He's a cutie Jack, you'd better watch him the future, gonna be a real heart breaker."
"I'll be sure to have Daniel and Janet warn Cassandra."
Paul laughs, "If Cassandra looks anything like her mother, they'd better keep her locked up!"
Well, enough of this bantering I decide, "What was it that you wanted to discuss with me Paul?"
He sits down and motions for me to do the same, "It's about Earth Jack."
"About Earth, okay."
"I think that we should go back."
"Are you kidding me?"
"No, I'm serious. Look, it's been almost two years. I know that Earth's co-ordinates are locked out, but with my authorization code and yours, we can change that. I think we owe it to ourselves to go back, at least once."
"And what are you hoping to find? There can't be anyone still alive. All we're going to find is ruins."
"I just want to look Jack. You don't have to come if you're not comfortable with it."
"The hell I'm not going. If anyone is going off this planet, I'm going too."
"So we can do it then?"
I sigh, "I'll talk to Sam about it, see what she thinks."
"Great, thanks Jack." Paul stands up and heads for the door, "I'll see you around later, I've got some more chairs to build."
I put my head in my hands. This is a really bad idea. We can't go back, not now, it's still too soon. We were just starting to feel at home here. We don't need to visit ghosts.
~*Time Stands Still*~
"He wants to do what?!"
Jack sits down on a chair which creaks under his weight, "He wants to go back to Earth."
"He thinks that we owe it to ourselves to go back at least once. I told him that I wouldn't give him an answer until I talked to you."
"If you want my opinion, I don't think we should go."
"Would there be any danger in us going back to Earth?"
I shake my head, "No, not if we go through in environmental suits. The atmosphere would still be contaminated, but most the volcanic eruptions should have stopped by now."
"Do you think..."
"Think what Jack?"
"Do you think that anyone could still be alive?"
I'm silent for a moment. I don't even want to contemplate that possibility. "I suppose that if someone had holed themselves up underground, with enough air, food and water..."
"But no one knew this was coming."
I shake my head, "Only the highest ranking government officials and us."
Jack sighs, "Maybe Paul's right. Maybe we should go back."
I gape at him, "You're not serious are you? We're happy here Jack! We don't need to go back. I've tried to forget what I left behind."
"Then don't come. I'm sorry Sam, but we're doing this."
"You're not going anywhere without me." I say, clutching Cameron to my chest.
"I'll talk to Paul again, and we'll prepare a suitable team."
"The iris." I say, suddenly remembering it, "What if General Hammond closed the iris? The GDO's won't do any good if no one is there to open it."
"I guess we'll have send a probe though first. We have some MALP's on the base don't we?"
I nod my head, "I'll go over there tomorrow and take a look at them. Make sure they're still in working order."
Jack gives me a grim smile and gets up, "I'm going to talk to Paul. I'll be back later."
"We're doing what?!"
"We're going back to Earth."
I cannot believe that Jack O'Neill is sitting in front of me, telling me this. "Going back? For good?" I can't seem to comprehend what he's telling me.
"No, not for good, " he says shaking his head, "We're just going back to see what's left."
"To see what's left.." I repeat dumbly.
"Yes, and I need you to come with us."
"Because we don't know what we might run into there. We might need a doctor, or maybe someone there will need one."
"You can't be serious. There's no way anyone could still be alive."
"Sam said that it might be possible."
"Is she going too?"
Jack nods, "She didn't want to, but she's going anyway."
At least someone in that family has some brains. I briefly wonder if Daniel is going. Probably is, I decide, he wouldn't pass up this chance.
Jack continues, "Sam's checked the MALP's on base and we're going to send one through to make sure that the iris is open."
Oh please let the iris be closed, I pray, please let General Hammond have had enough sense to close the iris. "And if it isn't?"
"Then we're going through tomorrow."
"Sending the MALP through." I say to the small audience gathered in the control room. We watch as it makes its way up the ramp and through the event horizon. Janet is standing beside me, I can almost feel her shaking. She came to see me, after Jack talked to her. She's terrified of the thought of returning.
"MALP is in transit." We wait for it to make its journey and I'm waiting for it to be destroyed when it smashes into the iris.
I feel my chest tighten, it becomes hard to breath. I stare at my computer screen, this can't be right. "The MALP has emerged from the wormhole." I say. The iris wasn't up. Dammit Hammond, you didn't engage the iris.
"Let's see what's there." Jack says, his voice almost a whisper.
"Receiving telemetry now." I say and look at the monitor.
The MALP shines its light around the cavern of the abandoned gateroom.
"It looks the same." Janet says, her voice quavering.
"Analysis of the air shows a high concentration of carbon dioxide. I recommend environmental suits with oxygen." My mind is functioning solely on a scientific level.
"Alright, shut it down Sam." I comply and disengage the wormhole. Swivelling around my chair, I see Jack ready to address the small group. The team that he and Paul chose consists of them, myself, Daniel and Janet. We have told no one else of what we're going to do tomorrow.
"Okay people. We'll meet in the gateroom at 0700 hours tomorrow. I want you all to get a good night's sleep and then we'll take it from there." Jack looks us over, "Dismissed." he says finally and rather unnecessarily. Daniel puts his arm around Janet and leads her out of the room. Paul follows them, leaving Jack and I alone.
"Are you sure that including Janet on the team was the best idea?"
Jack shrugs, "We need her Sam. She's not the only one who left someone behind. Who's to say that anyone else would react better?"
"She's my friend Jack, I'm concerned."
"She's my friend too Sam."
I stand up and leave Jack staring at the Stargate. I have to get home, I hate leaving Cameron with a babysitter for too long. I feel my heart flutter as I realize that I'll be leaving him alone for much longer tomorrow.
So cold. Cold. My blanket. Where did my blanket go? Why did I wake up now? I don't wake up for another two hours usually. Was it because I was cold?
'Seventh chevron locked' Those words ring in my mind. Is that why I woke up, the seventh chevron has locked? I flail about blindly in the dark, my hands searching for my missing blanket. 'Unscheduled off-world activation' Why am I hearing these things? I can't find my blanket. It's cold, I need my blanket.
Major Samantha Carter. Colonel Jonathan O'Neill. Doctor Daniel Jackson. I can't my blanket! Why can't I find my blanket! I'm so cold. Maybe I need to get up and move. Sometimes moving around takes the chill from my bones. I stand up, feeling the cold cement through the soles of my boots. 'I want to you lock out Earth's co-ordinates' That was my voice. I told them to lock out Earth's co-ordinates. They won't ever come back.
My footsteps sound hollow as the echo off the walls. I get lonely a lot of the time. Sometimes I want to leave and find someone to talk to. Then I remember. There is no one and I can't leave. I'm not supposed to be alive. Yet I am.
I wish it weren't so dark all the time. It wasn't always this dark, for a while there were dim lights but then they stopped working one day. The elevators haven't worked since then either, if I want to eat, I have to climb a ladder.
I enter the gateroom and look at the Stargate. It stands proud and majestic. It's useless to me. It hasn't worked since they left. I remember that it can only work using a computer and the computers haven't worked since the day that the ground shook.
Something is here that shouldn't be here. I approach it silently, examining it. I should know what it is, but I just can't remember. M something. MARF? No that's not right. MOPY? No, that's not it either. I look at it closely, peering at the tiny camera and the wheels. MALP! That's it, it's a MALP. Major Carter would always send a MALP through the Stargate before we sent any people. Why is there a MALP here? I didn't put it here and I doubt that it got here itself.
The noise that woke me up, I know what it was. It was the Stargate.
I tug on my khaki pants and do them up at the waist. I haven't worn BDU's in ages. Sam stands next to me, cursing at her pants in an attempt to get them done up. She hasn't completely lost her pregnancy weight yet.
"You don't have to come if you really don't want to."
"I have to do this Sam," I say, not really believing it myself, "the fear, it's irrational really."
"It's not irrational."
I sit down on the bench, "I am frightened though, I can't help it. What if we find someone still alive?"
"Then we find them. It's a risk we have to take."
"Will we bring them back with us?"
"I don't know. Jack and I never talked about that. I guess we would. Anyone who is still alive after two years would be in pretty bad shape."
"Sam! Janet! You two ready to head out?" I pull on my shirt just as Jack yells that and bangs on the door.
"We'll be out in a moment!" Sam calls back.
She turns to me, her expression grim, "We probably won't be able to make it to the surface anyway."
I nod, remembering that severe volcanic eruptions would have taken place. "Are the environmental suits in the gateroom?" I ask, slightly concerned.
"Yep, Jack and Paul hauled them out of storage last night, along with the oxygen canisters. We'll be okay Janet."
I don't have anything to say to her, so we grab our jackets and leave the locker room. It's a short walk to the gateroom, when we arrive there we find Daniel and Paul already suited up. I go to Daniel and look at him, "You look like an astronaut."
Under the helmet he waggles his eyebrows, "You like it?"
I find myself giggling, in spite of the situation, "Yeah, kinda sexy."
"Guys?" I look up at Sam, she's smirking, "Maybe you could put that on hold for a while?"
Daniel looks somewhat embarrassed and I take the suit that Sam is holding out for me. "How does this go on?"
Sam helps me into the suit and then puts on her own. We have backpacks with us, mine has medical supplies and water. The rest of them are carrying blankets, extra clothes, water and food. Someone, I think it was Paul, helped me into the pack and then put the oxygen canister on as well. I sagged a bit under the weight, this stuff was obviously not meant to go on someone 5'2. The rest of them look at ease. It isn't fair, I hate being short.
"Everyone use the bathroom before they came here?" Jack asks, looking us over. We nod, helmets bobbing. Jack signals to Walter Davis in the control booth. We had agreed to tell no one else but Jack decided to let Walter in on it. He's the best technician we have and he doesn't like being kept in the dark. The Stargate begins to turn, chevrons locking. I resist the urge to duck as the kawoosh comes out and then Jack signals for us to begin the ascent of the ramp. Paul goes through first, followed by Daniel, then Sam, then I go and Jack brings up the rear.
It's that noise again, the one that woke me up. Are there more MALP's being sent through? I should go and find out, but I'm too cold. Has my blanket fallen off me again? I reach out a hand and feel my side. No, the blanket is still there. I need to move, get warm. I move my foot and watch it bump under the blanket.
Why is it so damn cold? It never used to be this cold. There used to be people here too. They all left one day, I remember seeing them all walk through the Stargate. The day that the ground shook, that was the last time I ever saw them, any of them. They left me here. They left me here to die.
It's like stepping back in time. I've done it, so I know what it's like. I fumble around at my side for my flashlight. Jack already has his on and Daniel has his in hand. Janet looks frozen in time. The beam of light from Jack's hand flashes around the room, peering into the high corners of the ceiling.
"The MALP is at the end of the ramp." Jack says, his voice echoing in my helmet. I switch my flashlight on and point it down the ramp. The light flashes off the MALP's metallic surfaces.
"We'll send it back through with us." I say, seeing no point in sending it back now.
"Alright folks, let's get moving, see what we can find."
Janet moves for the first time since we arrived and Daniel takes her arm. Jack leads the way, five beams of light illuminating our passage.
"We should split up." Paul says, "We can do a sweep of the base, keep in contact by radio."
Jack agrees and splits us up into team teams: Him and Paul, and Daniel, Janet and I.
"Keep an eye open for anything that might be useful to us, we can bring it back with us. Nothing big though. I know it might be tempting to take the couch from the lounge, but we can't easily carry it."
I hear Daniel's soft laughter in my helmet. He had been complaining about how uncomfortable the wicker couch in his house is.
With a wave, Jack and Paul head off down a corridor leaving Daniel, Janet and I alone.
"We should start by checking the lounge." I say, thinking of the closest room, "You can have a seat on the couch for a while if you want Daniel."
Daniel laughs again and shakes his head. The three of us move, slowly, ensconced in the bulky environmental suits. The door to the lounge is part way open, it gives a creak as I push it open all the way. My flashlight beams bounces off the walls, highlighting the television set, long since silenced. The couch is pushed up against the far wall. I remember spending countless hours in this room, laughing with Janet and my team. We had introduced Teal'c to the concept of TV in this room, he was quite taken by it.
As the light finds the couch, I hear Janet's sudden gasp. The light plays off a mountain of blankets and a head. Blue eyes stare back at me. My flashlight falls at my feet as Daniel pulls Janet nearer to him.
Daniel grabs me and pulls me closer to him, as if he were protecting me from something. Sam has dropped her flashlight, it rolls around on the ground, light flashing on the walls.
I know that I should go to him, help him, but my brain can't get the message to move to my feet. It's as if my synapses have stopped firing. I know that's not possible and know that I'm paralyzed from fear and fear alone.
"Oh my God." Sam breathes.
Daniel echoes her words, his hands clasped tightly on my shoulders.
"Let me go Daniel," I find myself saying, "I have to go to him. He needs help."
Daniel loosens his grip, but doesn't let go. Sam picks up her flashlight and aims it back at the couch. "It's not possible" she says, more to herself than anyone, "He shouldn't be alive."
But he is Sam. He is alive and we have to help him. I leave Daniel's embrace and walk shakily into the room. "Sam?" I say, "Is it safe for me to take off my helmet? I want him to know who I am."
Sam pulls something from her pocket and consults it, "I wouldn't recommend it, but you should be alright."
I should be alright, after all, he is. I lift my hands and release the latch holding my helmet on. The cold hits me, bitter cold. It's a wonder he's still alive. He's probably hypothermic, among other things. Hypothermic and suffering from lack of oxygen.
I approach him slowly. His eyes watch me. "General Hammond?" I say, my voice quavering, "We're here to help you."
They're here. Creatures with strange, large heads and bulky arms and legs. They shine lights in my face and point at me. They must have come through the Stargate.
One is approaching me, taking off its head. It's taking off its head! I blink once and look again. It has another, smaller head. 'Your name isn't on the list sir' A smaller head with dark hair.
"General Hammond? We're here to help you." it says. I understand it! Didn't someone once tell me that most aliens speak English? It comes closer, I can see its breath, puffing in the beam of light.
"Sir? Can you hear me?"
I open my mouth but no sound escapes.
"It's Janet Fraiser, sir. Do you remember me?"
Janet Fraiser. She wore a large white coat. She was cute.
"You're suffering from hypothermia and oxygen deprivation sir, we're going to take you with us."
Take me where? I live here. I shouldn't leave.
"Sam?" Janet Fraiser has turned around and faces the the two creatures hovering in the doorway. "Have you radioed Jack and Paul?"
The creature's head bobs an affirmative. Sam. Samantha Carter, Major. I knew her father.
"Sir, can you stand up?"
I could if I wasn't so damn cold.
"Can you talk to me?"
I open my mouth again and force a small sound out. It sounds like the noise that the door makes when I open it.
"Okay sir, I'm going to have Daniel help you up. You're going to be okay sir."
A creature approaches me, this one much larger than Janet Fraiser. She called him Daniel. Through the haze in my brain, a name surfaces. Daniel Jackson, archaeologist and pain in the ass. Pain in the ass? Why did I think that? This one reaches out and puts its hands around me. With help I can stand up, pulling the blankets closer to me.
"Sam? What have you found?"
Jack and Paul walk down the corridor towards me at a brisk pace.
"Take a look." I say, gesturing towards the lounge room.
"If it's the television set Sam, you know it won't do us any good!"
Both men stop beside me and cast their gazes into the room. Daniel is standing with his arms around Hammond and Janet is looking him over anxiously.
"Holy shit." Paul says, putting his hand on the wall in an attempt to steady himself.
To my surprise, Jack laughs. "The old guy made it!" he says, "I can't believe the old guy made it!"
My own laughter joins him and soon Paul chimes in.
"Does he know who we are?"
I raise my and turn tilt it several times, "I think we're familiar but he doesn't seem to be able to speak. I don't think he knows what's happened to him."
"Why has Janet taken off her helmet?" Jack asks, concern evident in his voice.
"She thought he would react better if he could see her face. I'd say she was right. She'll be okay, don't worry about it."
Daniel was making his way to to the door with Hammond leaning heavily on him.
"Get to the control room! We have to get him out of here soon!" he yells.
I start to move and then freeze. Oh my God. The control room, the 'gate, we can't activate it. The dialling computer isn't operational, we don't have a DHD. How could I not think of this! I was so concerned with the possibility that the iris might be up that I hadn't considered how to get back.
"Jack?" I say slowly, "We can't dial out."
Everyone stops what they're doing and looks at me. General Hammond's eyes are wide, he's nearly gasping for breath. Janet stops putting on her helmet, Paul and Jack are frozen mid-step.
"We have to find a way." Jack says, "We've turned the gate manually before, we'll do it again."
"We need power to do it Jack, we had the lightning before, and Teal'c to turn it."
"We'll use the MALP then, doesn't it have a power core?"
"The MALP might work, but I don't know if that power will be sufficient."
"No harm in trying, let's move folks!"
Everyone resumes what they were doing. My mind is whirling, trying to calculate how much power we would have to draw from the MALP. I can only pray that it will be enough.
This is so stupid. I can't believe that we forgot we couldn't go home if we came here. I never thought about the dialling computer being inoperative, and apparently no one else had either. General Hammond is still leaning heavily on me. I can't believe he's still alive.
"Daniel?" I swivel to the side and shine my light directly in Janet's face. She blinks a few times, trying to adjust to the light.
"How's he doing?" she asks. I know that she's in full doctor mode. She's put her own fears aside and is concentrating on her patient.
"He's not breathing much." I say, "Do you think we could let him have a breath of our oxygen?"
"When we get to the gateroom!" I hear Sam shout to me.
General Hammond is much smaller than he was the last time I saw him, but it's still hard work getting him down the corridor. He's pretty much a dead weight. Sam, Jack and Paul pull ahead of us, in a hurry to get to the gateroom. Janet stays back and walks with me.
"Do you need any help with him?"
I shake my head, "No, I'm fine. I've been working out you know."
"I haven't seen you lifting any weights."
"You should try building houses someday."
She laughs, "I'll make you a deal, if we get back, I'll build houses for a day and you can take care of Cassandra."
"Not if Janet," I say to her, "when we get back."
We've reached the gateroom and I can see in the beam from the flashlight that Sam is busily pulling apart the MALP. Jack and Paul are hovering above her, trying to be useful. I'm sure they'll come in handy when we have to manually dial the gate. I have no idea how Teal'c ever did it, that ring must weigh a ton. I wish Teal'c could be here right now.
Teal'c had come back to visit us a couple of times. He brought his son with him once and Master Bra'tac always accompanies him. Apparently he's gotten involved with a Jaffa rebellion. He and Bra'tac are the founders. They recruit other Jaffa and one day they hope to over take the System Lords. I wished them the best of luck and declined their offer to join them.
We haven't had any unwelcomed visitors to the colony yet. Sam's dad shows up from time to time. He most recently came to visit his grandson. Occasionally he brings with him other Tok'ra but I guess they don't have much interest in us now that most of our race has been wiped out.
"Jack can you pass me that metal piping?"
I hand Sam the pipe and watch as she deftly connects it with the MALP's power core. She's found a cable and attaches it to the pipe and then runs it up the ramp and ties it up to the Stargate. She never ceases to amaze me.
Daniel and Janet are sitting against the wall with General Hammond between them. Daniel has taken off his helmet and is letting Hammond have some of his oxygen. Hammond must be one tough bugger to have made it this long. Janet seems doubtful as to if he'll fully recover. I don't expect him to fully recover, at least not mentally. Loneliness can do bad things to a person.
"Okay guys, it's now or never. We're going to need everyone to help turn the 'gate. I'll be monitoring the power output from the MALP."
I head up the ramp and stand beside Sam. Paul, Janet and Daniel join me. We all place our hands on the gate and Sam goes down to the MALP. She flicks a switch of some kind and yells at us to start turning. The MALP begins to hum and we push for all we're worth.
"Chevron one is locked!" Sam yells, "Keep going!"
I'm sweating already and I can hear Daniel begin to grunt. Six more chevrons to go, I wonder if we'll last that long.
"Chevron two is locked!"
Keep pushing Jack, I tell myself. I'm not going to die in the godforsaken hell hole. I have a son waiting for me on the other side.
"Chevron three is locked!"
Janet looks like she's about to collapse, but she keeps going.
"Chevron four is locked!"
The tone of the MALP's hum changes, becoming shriller. I hope that doesn't mean it's going to blow up soon.
"Chevron five locked!" Sam yells, "Only two more to go."
Only two more, right Sam, you're not the one turning a giant naquada ring.
"Chevron six locked."
I hate naquada, have I ever said that before? The MALP sounds quite worried now, adding a new tone to become a harmony of shrill humming.
"Chevron seven is locked. Get down!"
I fall to the ramp and the Stargate engages. I don't think I've ever been so happy to see that watery event horizon.
I stand up, feeling like I'm falling apart. Janet is still laying on the ramp, and Daniel is trying to help her up. Sam rushes over to Hammond and pulls him to his feet. He begins to protest, obviously the oxygen has helped him a bit.
"No, I can't leave! I have to stay here!" Hammond says, sounding alarmed.
Sam assures him that he can leave and with Paul's help, they get him up the ramp and to the 'gate. Sam hastily taps the IDC on her GDO.
"Are we going to leave the MALP here?" I ask.
Sam nods, "It won't do us any good now, the core is fried."
"Okay then, I guess we're done here. Let's move out people!"
Daniel has peeled Janet off the ramp and they go through the gate, Sam, Paul and Hammond follow them. I take one last glance around the gateroom and step into the wormhole.
As I step onto the ramp, with Janet clinging to me, we're greeted enthusiastically by Walter Davis, "Oh my God! You made it back!" he says, practically jumping up and down.
Sam and Paul, holding up the General come through behind me and I swear I could see all the blood drain from Walter's face. His mouth falls open as though he were going to say something.
"We need to get him to the infirmary." Janet says weakly. Her voice is slightly muffled as she's talking into my arm.
Jack steps from the 'gate and the wormhole deactivates behind him. "Walter! Good to see ya again buddy!" he says cheerfully.
Walter continues to stare at Hammond.
Sam and Paul are busily hauling Hammond out of the gateroom, so I decide that taking Janet to the infirmary would be a good idea. Even if she can't stand without assistance, she can still give orders. Jack rushes over to a phone on the wall and makes an announcement for medical personnel to report to the infirmary.
As Janet and I leave the room, I hear that Walter has recovered sufficiently to question Jack about the sudden appearance of General Hammond.
When we arrive at the infirmary, I find that Janet's nurses, having just been summoned there are rushing about, preparing beds and gathering equipment. They freeze when we enter the room, all eyes directed on General Hammond.
From my side Janet gives them a withering look, "Don't just stand there," she says, "help the man!"
"What do you want me to do with you?" I ask Janet, "Can you stand on your own?"
I feel Janet's slight shrug, "There's only one way to find out."
I let her go and watch as she neatly crumples to the ground, "Guess not." I say and pick her back up.
The nurses have gotten Hammond on the bed and are hooking him up to various machines and one of them is drawing blood. Janet surveys the scene and says, "Get him started on a warm saline drip, and get some blankets on him! He's suffering from mild hypothermia. I want a CBC, chem seven and blood gas."
The General, for his part, looks frightened, so I take Janet over to him so she can speak with him.
"General Hammond, do you know who I am?"
Hammond looks at her with his pale blue eyes, but doesn't say anything.
Janet tries again, "Do you know where you are?"
"In the hospital" he replies.
Janet nods, "Do you know who you are?"
"Of course I know who I am. Major General George Hammond, United States Air Force."
Janet looks at me, "I think he's confused. He knows who he is, but I don't think he's aware of what's happened. He may know who we are."
Jack marches into the infirmary and stands next to us, "How's it going Doc?"
I swivel Janet so that she faces him, "We're warming him up right now. The best thing for him right now is rest. We'll be monitoring his vital signs, looking for anything unusual. I've got him on a saline drip for now."
"You look exhausted." Jack says, eying Janet critically.
Jack looks at me with a raised eyebrow, "And that's why Daniel has to hold you up? Don't make me order you to go home Janet. Your nurses will take care of him."
"Jack's right," I say to her, "We should go home. Cassandra's probably missing her mommy."
Wearily Janet nods and we leave the infirmary behind.
It's been two weeks since the mission to Earth. The General spent a week in the infirmary under the watchful eye of Janet and is now shacked up in quarters on the base. He didn't understand what had happened at first and his mental recovery is proceeding at a much slower pace than his physical. Janet said that we shouldn't push him too hard and when he's ready, he'll talk to someone.
Sam sent a message to her father and he's going to come as soon as he can. Hopefully seeing an old friend will do Hammond some good.
I'm on my way to visit Hammond right now. I like to see him at least once a day. Janet comes to the base daily now too, to make sure that he's eaten and to keep him company. Sometimes she brings Cassandra with her and he seems to like her. I have Cameron with me for the first time, I'm hoping he'll work some of his baby magic on the old guy.
"Hey General!" I call out as I knock on his door. I wait a moment before the door opens.
"Jack," says Hammond, eying my child, "Is that your kid?"
"Yep, this is Cameron. Do you want to hold him?"
The General looks hesitant but then holds out his arms for the baby. He coos softly to Cameron, holding him gently. He must miss his granddaughters.
"He looks like his mother."
"I think he's got her brains too."
Hammond sits down on a chair in the corner of his room and cradles Cameron.
"This place Jack, what do you call it?"
"The base?" I say, slightly confused.
Hammond shakes his head, "No, the planet. The whole thing."
"It doesn't have an official name, but most everyone calls it Terra Nova."
"It's fitting don't you think?"
"Yes." he says, stroking Cameron's cheek with a finger.
We are silent for quite a while. I'm twisting my fingers together for lack of anything better to do. The General continues to stroke Cameron's cheek. I imagine that he's remembering the Old Earth.
"Unscheduled off-world activation!"
Hammond instantly becomes alert and stands up, thrusting Cameron at me. I take him and we hurry to the control room. It must have been instinct that made him rush there. He did it for so many years.
Walter Davis is at the controls, I swear he never leaves them.
"Are we receiving an IDC?" I ask, shifting Cameron slightly.
"Yes sir, receiving Teal'c's IDC."
Hammond looks almost happy and says, "Well open the iris then son!"
Walter looks to me for confirmation and I nod. The iris opens and Hammond and I hurry down the steps to greet Teal'c.
If Teal'c is surprised by the presence of Hammond, he gives no indication of it. "General Hammond, I am pleased to see you again." he says, bowing slightly. Looking at me he says, "O'Neill, it is good to see you as well."
"Thank you Teal'c. It's good to see you too."
Hammond looks up at Teal'c and says, "I never thought I'd see you again."
Teal'c raises an eyebrow, "Indeed." I notice Teal'c glance over at me and I mouth, "later" at him. He nods.
"So Teal'c, what brings you back to this neck of the woods?"
"It has been several months since my last visit. I had been eager to see you all again."
Aw, Teal'c missed us. "Guess there's no time like to present to meet the newest member of the colony."
"This is yours and Samantha's child?"
"Yup, Cameron Michael O'Neill."
Teal'c takes Cameron from me and looks him over, as if he were inspecting him. "He is a handsome child." Teal'c proclaims and hands him back to me.
"Good to know." I say, rubbing Cameron's back to keep him from fussing. It doesn't work and he begins to whimper. "Alright kid, I know. You want your mother. Teal'c, you going to come to the village? General, you're welcome to join us."
Teal'c nods and Hammond looks unsure. He hasn't been to the village yet. "You two go ahead" he says finally, "I think I'll stay here."
I shrug and leave the room with Teal'c beside me.
"General Hammond has returned?" Teal'c says once we're out of Hammond's hearing range.
"We brought him back actually."
"You went back to Earth?" Teal'c looks almost incredulous.
"It was Paul Davis' idea. He wanted to see what we would find I guess. We found the General."
"It is a miracle that he was still alive."
"Tell me about it. He scared Sam and Janet half to death when they found him."
"Did you not venture to the surface then?"
I shake my head, "No, once we found Hammond we left. Had to dial the 'gate manually though. I have no idea how you did that alone Teal'c."
"It requires much focus and strength. General Hammond is well though?"
"Not entirely. Physically he's fine, but mentally...being completely alone for two years can do terrible things to a person."
"I understand." Teal'c says as we step outside into the bright sunshine.
"Come on, let's get this little guy to his mother. Sam will be happy to see you."
Teal'c came to visit a few days ago. He couldn't stay long, only a few hours. I guess he had some Jaffa business to attend to at home. When he left, a small crowd gathered in the gateroom, as usual, to bid him farewell.
Jacob Carter came through the 'gate just a few hours ago. He was met by Sam and Jack and he was quite taken with his grandson. They brought Jacob back to the village and he spent some time talking with Janet and I before asking why he was summoned here. I was surprised that Sam hadn't told him before-hand.
"You didn't tell him already?" Janet whispered to Sam.
Sam shook her head, "No, I wanted to tell him in person."
Jacob cocked his head to the side, "Is anyone going to tell me what the big secret is, or do I have to guess?"
Jack stood up, "Well Jake, it goes something like this. A few of us went back to Earth a few weeks ago. We didn't expect to find anything, but we did."
"What did you find?"
Jacob flew off the couch, his eyes wide, "He was still alive after all that time? Oh my God, if I had known that, I would have gone back myself to get him!"
"Believe me, if we had known, we would have gone back a lot sooner." Sam says.
"How is he?"
"Not so good," Janet says, "We were hoping that if he saw you, it would help his recovery."
"He hasn't left the base at all since he was released from the infirmary." I add.
"He's on the base?"
"Yes, he has quarters in section nine. Do you want me to show you where?" Jack asks.
"No, I'll go alone. I'm sure I can find the way."
Jacob was gone for nearly two hours before he returned, bringing Hammond with him. I couldn't believe it, I had to blink a few times to make sure I wasn't seeing things. I knew that if anyone could get Hammond back to the present, it would be Jacob.
Sam greets Hammond brightly and welcomes him into our house. He looks around, his eyes wide, taking it all in.
"Have a seat General." Sam says, gesturing to a chair.
Janet has been in the kitchen, putting together a salad to go along with the deer steaks I'm supposed to be grilling. She peeks around the corner and I see her smile as her patient picks up Cassandra and plops her onto his knee.
"Hope you're hungry General," I say as I pick up my tray of steaks, "fresh deer steaks."
"Famished and Jack?"
"You can call me George."
I smile and push open the door with my hip. Sam invented a makeshift barbecue in the backyard. She had been dying for a good, old fashioned, barbequed steak. At last count, she had made six of her barbeques. I guess everyone had a longing for a taste of home.
I hear Cassandra squeal with delight and smile again. It's nice to have the family together again. I'd missed it. Turning my gaze upwards to the bright sunshine, I look towards the area where Sam had told me Earth was. I say a silent good bye to the planet that was once my home and set to work grilling my steaks.
It's been five years now since they brought me here. Home. I've watched children grow and have changed my name to Grandpa George. They built a house, just for me. I couldn't stand living in the base. I was living in the past. I've tried to forget the SGC and the lonely two years I spent there. Most of the time I'm alright. Janet tells me it's normal, I know damn well she's right. I've seen men suffer.
Jacob comes to visit on a regular basis. He was the one that helped me to see the light, literally. I'll never forget that day. We stepped outside into the sun. It was the first time I had seen the sun in years. He took me to Sam and Jack's house. Jack grilled deer steaks, the best damn steaks I've ever had.
We lost a member of the family the other day. Richard Kaminski died of a heart attack. I watched as Janet tried her hardest to save him, but her efforts were useless. He was already dead. We buried him in the cemetery. We're going to lose a lot more people. It's the way things work.
I glance down at Cameron as he tugs on my pant leg.
"What is it son?" I ask, looking down at his large blue eyes.
"I've got something I want to show you!"
"Something to show me? Where is it?"
"It's in my hand!"
I look at his hand and notice that it's clenched. I can only hope it isn't one of those large spiders that populate this area.
"What is it?"
"Guess!" he says gleefully.
"Is it a rock?"
"Nope, guess again!"
"Is it a piece of wood?"
"Nope, you're not even close!"
"Is it alive?"
He nods excitedly, "Yup."
Well, it used to be alive. He's probably crushed it to death in his hand.
"Is it a spider" I ask, praying that it's not.
"Nope, but guess what? I found a spider the other day and I showed it to my mom and she ran away screaming!"
I laugh, "Is it a grasshopper?"
"Nope, guess again!"
"I'm never going to get it right Cameron. You'd better tell me what it is."
"Okay," he says and opens his hand, "It's a ladybug."
I look at the tiny red and black insect, "It's very pretty. Why don't you show it to your mom?"
"She told me never to bring bugs into the house again."
"I'm sure she'll like this one."
"Okay! I'll tell her that you told me that I could!"
I watch as he runs away to show his mother what he's found. He's such a bright young child, full of energy. I smile slightly and realize how lucky I am. I get to watch him grow up.