Main ~ Authors ~ Production Crew ~ Promotion ~ About Chrysalis
"Colonel, Major. Welcome home!"
Two weary souls made their way down the ramp and past the General, heading in the familiar direction of the infirmary.
"She's fine, Janet." Major Sam Carter reassured her friend as soon as she saw her walking towards them. The diminutive doctor gave a visible sigh of relief before smiling and then casting a professional eye over them both.
"She asked me to give you this." Sam fumbled briefly in her BDU jacket before finding a bundle of papers in one of the many pockets.
"She's OK, though? She's coping with the whole...?" A vague wave of the hand conveyed the words Janet was both reluctant and unsure how to say. These days, Janet reminded herself a lot that she wasn't the only one with a snake in the family.
Janet realised she hadn't received a reply to her question. Sam was looking decidedly nervous, and Colonel O'Neill was keeping very quiet. Too quiet.
"She's OK, Doc. But it's been a rough couple of days. For all of us." Although Sam didn't see the concerned glance the Colonel gave her as he said this, Janet did. Trying to reassure herself that her daughter must be fine, or else Sam wouldn't have left her alone, she began to concentrate on the day to day of post-mission check-ups.
Fifty minutes and two clean bills of health later (although they could use a good rest, Sam in particular), Janet grabbed herself a fresh cup of coffee and sat down to read her letter. Glancing briefly down the pages, she smiled to herself. Some things would never change, Cassie's untidy handwriting being one of them. Switching on the desk lamp to help her decipher what could very easily pass for hieroglyphs, she got comfortable. Judging by the sheaf of papers in her hands she was going to be there for a while.
Sorry I haven't been in touch before now. I've been meaning to for the past few months, but it's been kind of… awkward. Don't get me wrong, I've been made very welcome here. But relations between the Tau'ri and the Tok'ra are still not great and it's been hard to keep a balance between me and my symbiote, between the past and the present. Believe it or not, the Tok'ra I now share my life with has become a really good friend. Her name is Aine, but I call her Hon. More about that later. Anyway, back to the reason I'm writing this now. Life has been kind of interesting lately, and I'm still trying to get my head round what happened. And it's hard enough to get your head round something if there's only one of you in said head. Does that make sense? I guess not, but a lot of the thoughts and feelings are just spinning round and round in my brain, in our brain, and it's so hard to find the words to describe them.
Sam has probably told you about the mission specifics by now, that it was a basic meet and greet on a planet we discovered about six months ago. The people there were just beginning to discover the possibilities of the Stargate, and they were delighted to learn that they had only really scratched the surface of what it was capable of. Of what they were capable of.
It was my first time visiting the planet, and emerging from the gate, I was immediately struck by how beautiful it was. All the colours of the rainbow merged in the flowers that covered the ground, still in bloom despite the cool Fall weather. The people were friendly, to each other as well as ourselves, and they appeared prosperous. Keen to trade in their technologies and ours, we met with scientific researchers, teachers, farmers, people in business. We learned a little of their ways and they began to learn about ours. Most of them were accepting about the way the Tok'ra co-exist with symbiote and host but some…
I remember the first time I saw him.
"Are you one of them?"
Turning at the sound of his voice, she looked up at the young man now standing in front of her.
"One of them," he repeated, gesturing at his head. He sounded fascinated and horrified and curious all at once.
She tried to smile reassuringly at him, but the look in his eyes was confusing. Familiar, somehow, although she knew she'd never met him before.
"My name is Cassandra."
"Hello, Cassandra." And he nodded, as if something had been decided. This was starting to get creepy, she thought, but before she could say more he was gone. Just like that.
I remember shrugging my shoulders and walking away. Someone was waving to me across the market square, and I made my way over to where Terina was standing, talking to one of the local women whose name I can't remember. You'd like Terina, Mom. She's been assigned to be my mentor and guide to all things Tok'ra (Snake 101 as Jack would call it) and she's really helped me understand the mental and physical changes that have been happening to me. You'd think after everything that's happened to me that I'd be used to paranormal abilities, increased strength. It's not unlike before, after the whole Hok'tar stuff happened.
I wish I could describe it properly for you, I wish you could know what it's like. Well, sometimes I do. But only to understand me better, understand us better. Most of the time I'm really glad that you didn't have to experience this, that I was there. Because it's been incredible. Don't get me wrong, I know where I'm from. I know that I wasn't born on Earth to human parents. I know that I'm an alien, an ET! But I spent the last seven years or so trying to be "normal". I wanted more than anything else to be like everyone else. Deep down, I knew that being different was special, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing. But my special-ness, what made me different from everyone else was something so secret that I couldn't share it. And sometimes, that made it seem like a bad thing.
These days, I'm so grateful for the opportunity I've been given, this chance to use what makes me different to make sure that the Earth stays the same. Safe, and oblivious (for the most part) to the threat from beyond our planet. And who knows, one day we could be sharing technology, helping to eliminate illness and disease. Plague.
I've never felt more human than I do now, which amuses Hon no end. Actually, most of what I think and do amuses her. I can feel her rolling her eyes a lot…
Anyway, after a brief chat with Terina and friend, I decided it was about time I did some work.
"Cassie, you in here?"
Dragging her tired eyes up from the parchment on the desk, she blinked as Terina came into focus.
"What time is it, Ter?"
"Five after midnight. You ready to go get some food now?"
"Oh yeah, I didn't realise it was so late."
Standing up, Cassie stretched to relieve the crick in her neck, and then blushed as her stomach rumbled loudly.
"Man, that echoed!" Terina grabbed her arm, and began dragging her towards the main eating hall. Linking her arm through her friend's, Cassie let the momentum carry her along. Ten minutes later, they were sitting down at one of the smaller tables, with several portions of food in front of them.
"You know the meals are the best thing about this place, right?"
Cassie giggled, before nodding firmly. "The food back at the SGC was incredible. And not in a good way!"
Both girls smiled as a couple of the older members of their group walked passed, pausing only long enough for Enoch to steal a chip from Cassie's plate.
"That's another thing I like about here, it's nice to have a… family, know what I mean?" Terina's voice was soft, and her eyes grew distant. When they'd first met, they'd exchanged brief details about their pasts, but Cassie still knew little about her new friend.
Again, Cassie nodded. "I know exactly what you mean. Meal times here are such a social occasion, there's always someone about to talk to, to ask questions."
Leaning conspiratorially across the table, Terina beckoned her closer.
"I heard that the elders work this place in shifts, so that there's one of them 'on duty' all the time. Our lifestyle is somewhat erratic at best, and this is the best way of getting us all together. But we're not supposed to have figured that out." She winked and sat back down, grabbing a chunk of bread from one of the plates.
"Well I don't care what the ulterior motives are, I just like the way I'm able to ask people stuff. I've learned more about the customs and rules of Tok'ra society in this room than I have in any of the classrooms. And I don't feel as stupid asking things here."
"You're not stupid, girl. You just look at things differently. More human than the rest of us. Not that that's a bad thing. And yes, " she continued, cutting off Cassie's protest before it began, "I know you're not actually human yadda yadda…"
From across the table came a glare, which soon dissolved into giggles on both sides. Deciding that she really was hungry, Cassie began to eat.
It's been three days since I last wrote, Mom. I'm sorry it's taking so long, but there are still a couple of days before Jack and Sam will be heading back, so I guess there's no desperate rush. Sam's looking a lot better today, but I'm still worried about her. She's been through a lot, and I know I don't have to ask you this, but keep an eye on her for me, okay? Despite everything, I'm glad she was here. But I'm getting ahead of myself…
It was later on that night that the revelation came. I'd been poring over the old manuscripts we'd borrowed from the librarian, looking for anything that might be of interest. It was standard procedure when cataloguing a newly-discovered planet or race, having learned long ago that the past can sometimes be more relevant than the present, especially when looking for Goa'uld activity.
I was tracing back the genealogy of the village, comparing the notes others had taken to the historical registers of births, marriages and deaths. It wasn't until I got to the last page that I noticed something strange.
A new family appeared.
At first, I wrote it off as an error, more likely to be a mistake on my part than on theirs. After all, if they'd only discovered how the Stargate operated in the last nine months, how was it possible that strangers arrived, with only a minor mention. Considering the fuss that had been made over us, it didn't make sense, especially as the only other way folks could have gotten there would have been by ship. But after some more careful checking, it really seemed that people had arrived on the planet, people who had not been born there. And, although it didn't necessarily mean that they were Goa'uld or bad guys in any way, it still sparked my curiosity.
It was dark by the time she arrived back at the planet, and the eerily glowing torchlight did nothing to alleviate the growing unease Cassandra felt. The Tok'ra High Council had agreed with her assessment, and asked her to return and investigate this mysterious family further. And, despite asking for Terina's assistance, she was on her own. As she was finding more and more, the ever-diminishing members of the Tok'ra were spread thinner and thinner every day. Anubis' arm was long and his forces were getting bolder in their incursions. When she thought about it, which she tried not to because it frightened her and she didn't want to admit that, it made sense for him to target the Tok'ra. There were few System Lords left alive or strong enough to challenge him and his ever-increasing army. The Tok'ra were an obvious threat, as were the Tau'ri.
A shiver ran through her body, caused not entirely by the cool night air.
Ever since she had been a little girl, Cassie had had a kind of sixth sense. It didn't happen often, but there had been a few times when she'd known, she'd just known that something was going to happen. The day the river had flooded and the village had fled to the hills. The day her brother and sister had been born. The day her entire community had been destroyed. The day she found a new family. The day her mother had almost died…
Something was going to happen today. But whether for good or bad Cassie just couldn't tell.
You always told me that I wasn't in love with Dominic, Mom. I never believed you until now.
She made her way swiftly to the main lodging house in the village, and within ten minutes was sitting beside a roaring fire and hugging a mug of tea. Charlan, the owner of the establishment and unofficial village leader, was intrigued to know why her new friend had returned so quickly and alone. After brushing aside Cassie's request for accommodation with a nod and a roll of the eyes, she got comfortable and waited for the young girl to speak.
After hearing only a few words, Charlan leapt to her feet, motioning for Cassie to stop. Walking quickly to the open door of the room she glanced up and down the corridor outside before closing it firmly and returning to her chair. The older woman smiled briefly at the apparent confusion on Cassie's face, before becoming serious.
"I've been keeping a secret, Cassandra. A secret that was not mine, but that I kept willingly to keep them safe."
"Keep who safe?"
But before she could give an answer, the door to the room burst open and a tall figure rushed in.
"Charlan, come quickly!" He crossed the room in seconds and helped her to her feet with a gentleness that belied the rest of his manner.
"What is it, Mirdir? What's wrong?"
"Derie has begun to birth her child. She's asking for you."
At the mention of her youngest daughter's name, Charlan stopped resisting and began gathering together her outdoor wraps. She was half-way out of the room when she remembered Cassie, who was sitting quietly not wanting to hinder her.
"I'm sorry, dear. I have to…"
"Of course." Cassie rose to her feet. "I'll take care of things here, just go."
With a grateful smile, the older woman left, followed closely by the man she had called "Mirdir". The man who she now recognised as the one who had spoken to her in the square that day.
Sinking back into the chair, Cassie began to feel a little uncomfortable sitting alone in a house that wasn't hers. She decided to do some work, to take her mind off waiting for Charlan's return, knowing it was likely to be many hours before she saw her friend again.
I must have fallen asleep. The next thing I knew was a hand on my shoulder, and I screamed and jumped to my feet.
He spoke, apologising for startling me.
The room was dark, but his eyes seemed to blaze through, and I felt a chill run through me, despite the heat in the room.
I introduced myself again, trying to reduce the obvious tension in the room, but all I got in response was a brief nod.
I remember his words still.
"Yes, Cassandra, I know. We met before."
I shrugged, told him to call me Cassie. I was trying to remain cool but there was a real atmosphere in the room, and I couldn't shake the feeling that something was going to happen. Or maybe it already had.
Asking after Charlan's daughter, I wandered over to the fireplace, pouring some water from the kettle hanging there into my half-empty tea cup. Shaking his head in reply to my offer of tea for himself, Mirdir sat down at the table where I'd been working.
Smiling for the first time, he told me that all was well, that she'd given birth to a healthy daughter. I swear, Mom, my heart turned right over at that smile.
I said how glad I was to hear the news, and I found myself smiling back. And then I realised I was grinning like a schoolgirl and tried to get a hold of myself.
Glancing down at the table, he asked what I was doing. Even his voice seemed different, more relaxed and friendly.
Feeling slightly uncomfortable discussing science with him, after all, this was Hon's area of expertise and not mine, I gathered my scattered thoughts and began explaining that I was looking over old schematics I'd found in the village archives. From the preliminary research, I'd thought they were something to do with a primary power source, but it was difficult to tell as the plans were so faded with time. To be honest, this "research" was nothing more than a cover story anyway, just a reason to return to the village to investigate what I was really interested in.
He pulled the top sheet over towards him, and spent a few minutes peering at it. And then proceeded to tell me that my calculations were out by 0.1 per cent.
Indignant, I made my way over to where he sat, and glared at the sheet of paper. For a full five minutes. 'Til I realised he was right.
"I'm right, am I not?" He was smug, but teasingly so.
"I'll need to look into it further, but… I guess," Cassie admitted.
"I've always wanted to fly." His eyes stared dreamily into the distance, as she shook her head.
"That's a bit random." Cassie couldn't help but be confused.
"You mean… you don't know what these plans are for?" As he spoke, Cassie stood up and moved round to stand behind him, reading the plans over his shoulder.
"Like I said, some kind of primary…"
"They're plans for power source technology for a flying vessel."
"You mean a ship?"
He turned round to face her, with a bemused expression on his face.
"Cassie, ships go in the sea. Vessels fly in the air. Not that I've ever seen either of them."
"Well I've seen, and been in both." She had to resist the urge to stick out her tongue. "And we call flying vessels "ships" as well sometimes."
"You've been in a flying vessel?" He spun round, and she realised just how close they were.
"Oh yeah. Loads of times." She could feel herself blushing under his intense scrutiny, angry at herself for letting him affect her this way.
"Really?" His voice was softer now, nearer.
"Really. It's cool."
"Because of the atmospheric pressures?"
She looked at him, puzzled, before realising what he was on about. And then she giggled.
"Hey, what's so funny?" He grabbed her arms, as if to tickle her but as she squirmed out of his grasp he pulled her closer. Face to face, nose to nose, mouth to…
A log cracked in the fireplace, and they both sprung apart, slightly guilty but neither of them wanting to admit it. Or admit what had almost just happened.
"Anyway, you were saying…" Cassie took a deep, shaky breath and tried to continue the conversation.
"I was saying that these schematics are for a power source that creates a kind of magnifier for certain weapons or shields."
"Wow, so you could increase your defence capabilities by…what?"
"At least forty-five per cent."
"You said that already."
Cassie was aware that she was grinning like an idiot, but she tried to tell herself that it was due to the discovery, and the good news about Charlan's new grand-daughter. Hon had other ideas though.
Honestly, sometimes she's worse than you. I mean, I knew what having a symbiote was like. I talked to Sam, and to Teal'c. And to Jack. You didn't know that, did you, Mom? I think I'm maybe the only person he's ever really spoken to about it, and to be honest, he doesn't remember much. Any vague memories are clouded by the dark days that followed. He did try though. Sam was a lot more help. She spoke of the communion between symbiote and host, the sensations, the physical differences I would experience. She tried to explain the emotions I would feel, both my own and the symbiote's. But nothing can prepare you for it.
I still don't know much about her. I know that must sound stupid, given that we share a body, a brain, memories, thoughts. But I don't really know who she is. For the first few weeks she kept a pretty low profile, giving me time to adjust. The days after the blending were frantic, both of us coming to terms with the losses we'd faced and almost faced. Both of us grieving in our own way, individually but irrevocably together. The first conversation we had lasted about two days. We talked about anything and everything, but we're still a long way from being totally blended and in sync with each other.
I like her a lot though. She's kind and gentle and very clever. And she's wise too, sensible. She feels like an older sister to me, someone I can talk to and trust. That's been so important to me recently, knowing there's someone with me that I can rely on to be honest. She can't possibly lie to me, or me to her, and so we have this amazing sense of trust. Although I don't regret this choice that I made, it's been hard at times because I've missed you guys so much. I've had to make new friends, but making a new family… That's not easily or lightly done. But Terina and Hon have helped ease the ache a lot, and I hope I've been able to do the same for them.
Like I said before, her name is Aine, but I call her Hon. I think it's a habit I picked up from you, I used to call a lot of people "hon" or "honey". It suits her though, it makes it easier to deal with, makes her more…human? And it keeps you close somehow, Mom.
So, I'm still getting used to this voice in my head, and trying hard not to think of her as just a voice, but to remember she's her own being, she has rights and longings just like I do and we constantly have to balance them. We'd never disagreed until that moment…
*This is not wise, Cassandra.*
Her expression became confused, she found it hard as yet to conceal reactions to her symbiote's voice.
Mirdir looked at her strangely, and she pointed to her head, mouthing, "Excuse me for a sec." He nodded, somewhat abruptly, and made his way over to sit by the fire.
"What are you talking about, Hon?" Cassie had a feeling she knew where this was going, but she wanted to be sure.
*I'm talking about your feelings for this boy. There is no rush, you know.*
She could feel herself blushing from the neck up.
"I'm not rushing into anything, I just…like him. I'm not gonna do anything."
*Cassandra, you have not shared before, and I understand this is difficult to explain and comprehend but...*
"We both have to like the guy, otherwise it's not fair?"
She could feel Hon smiling. *That's kind of where I was going with this.*
"Don't worry, I know I'm new to all this, but I want to be guided be you, Hon. I need your help here."
*Thank you, Cassandra. I know this is a strange concept.*
Cassie shrugged. "I'm getting used to it. And I'm glad you're here, Hon. Wouldn't be the same without you."
She smiled, and began walking back across the room to where Mirdir was. And just as she reached him…
*I like him too.*
We spent the next few hours going over the plans, and it occurred to me that these could probably be modified for the Prometheus. That's why I involved Sam, Mom. I kinda wish I hadn't now, maybe things would have turned out different. But maybe they would have turned out the same eventually, or maybe they would have been a lot worse. I guess my natural instinct was to look at ways to use the technology in conjunction with something I was already familiar with, and that's why I contacted the SGC. Hon didn't object either, she's one of Jacob's biggest supporters and appreciates the need for our two races to work together.
And then it happened, just as he was leaving. The clock had nearly reached 3am, we'd been talking for hours and it was only when the fire died that we realised just how late it actually was. He'd offered to stay over, as it was obvious Charlan wasn't going to be returning that night. The offer seemed genuinely meant, but given our "near miss" of earlier, I quietly (and Hon very very loudly inside my head) told him that there was no need.
Together, we built the fire back up again, before finding some bedding for me. Even though Charlan had agreed that I could stay, she hadn't told me which room I could use, and I wasn't sure if there were any other guests here. The living room definitely seemed like the best option, and it would mean that I would catch Charlan the minute she returned, hopefully early in the morning. The cupboard in the hall had plenty of furs, blankets and pillows which would make a perfectly good bed on the stone floor.
After a great deal of blanket fluffing and pillow arranging on Mirdir's part, as I stood bemusedly watching from one side, he finally declared that the bed was comfortable enough for me to sleep in. Resisting the urge to roll my eyes, I thanked him. And then there was that awkward, "So, I'll be leaving now," kinda moment. Which lasted for about ten minutes. And then, as he was finally leaving… Someone kissed someone.
Don't ask me who initiated it, I have no idea. All I know is we were standing at the door and he was saying goodbye and then our arms were round each other and…
So not going into any more detail, Mom. I can't believe I told you this much, but it's not as if I'm within grounding distance. Anyway, all we did was kiss, even if he did stay with me until the daylight began filtering through the windows. And as he left for real, I realised that I was well and truly, head over heels in love with him.
The next morning passed quickly. Charlan returned, bustling with maternal pride and joy. After briefly scolding Cassie for not using one of the empty rooms instead of sleeping in the living room, she collapsed exhausted on one of the large chairs.
"She is a beautiful child. Her weight and size are healthy for a girl, and she has a shock of jet black hair and huge green eyes."
"And Derie is well?"
"Very well, she was brave and strong." Charlan positively glowed, despite having obviously been up all night.
"What's her name?"
"Her name?" Charlan sounded confused. "Her name will not be chosen for another moon."
"But… what do you call her until then?"
She smiled. " I had assumed that our custom was a universal one. My apologies, child."
Cassie smiled back. "So, tell me!"
"Well, whenever a child is born, we wait until the next moon before naming them. It gives us a chance to get to know them, to see a little of their character and personality before choosing a name that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. The entire village gathers together on the first night of the new moon, and votes are cast."
"Votes? The entire village chooses their name?" Although this was a completely foreign idea to her, Cassie could see the logic behind it. She rather liked it.
"The parents choose several names, the grandparents also, and anyone else who feels they wish to contribute. The names are put before the people gathered, and we choose."
"But don't the parents get upset if their names aren't chosen? Or will the people choose their names over the others?"
"No-one knows whose names are whose. That way feelings aren't hurt and it removed bias." Charlan stood up. "And now the culture lesson is over, perhaps you would like breakfast?"
It wasn't until much later that Cassie was reminded of their conversation of the night before. The question that she'd asked, and that Charlan had begun to answer, had completely slipped her mind, especially given the events of the night before.
As they walked back from visiting her daughter and the new baby, they passed a cottage. It was a bit ramshackle, and set apart from the other houses in the village. Charlan grabbed Cassie's arm, and she jumped.
"What is it?"
"I've just remembered. I was telling you about the Wyian."
Cassie looked at her blankly. "The what?"
"Not what, Cassie. Who. "Wyian" is a word in the language of our ancestors, it means strangers… The family we were discussing last night before my child very inconsiderately decided to give birth four days early."
"Oh, right. So, remind me?"
The older woman looked over her shoulder, as if afraid they were being followed. Instinctively Cassie did the same.
"Perhaps we should wait until we return to the house. I'm not comfortable discussing it out here."
Despite being desperate to know more, Cassie nodded and they continued to walk back home.
Almost as soon as the two women returned, Charlan started to tell the story.
"It was about twenty years ago. I remember being woken up in the middle of the night by a frantic knocking on the door. My husband went to answer, and then ushered in a man and a woman, the latter clutching a bundle close to her chest. They were soaked through, and after I'd found them some clean and dry clothes I started making them something to eat."
As she talked, Charlan was setting the tea kettle on the stove, and laying the table in an unconscious echo of her behaviour of all those years before.
"As I led the woman back to my room to let her change, the bundle suddenly let out a wail, and I realised she was carrying a child."
Cassie knew. She knew who that child had been, the man he'd become. She didn't know how, but she knew.
Her expression must have given her away, because the older woman smiled and nodded.
"Yes, you are right, my dear. It was Mirdir."
Despite her better efforts, Cassie blushed. Thankfully Charlan either didn't notice, or chose not to comment.
"Once they were all comfortable, the man told their story. They had escaped from a prison on another world, a place where they had not been allowed to love each other or have a child together. They'd decided to take their chances and had stolen a vehicle to help them get away. Neither my husband nor I pressed them for more specific details. They had honest, kind faces and we trusted them. The man explained that they had left friends behind in that prison, and that they planned to return and attempt to rescue them."
"What about the baby?" Cassie asked.
"Exactly. They were facing a dangerous situation. We were asked to look after the child, who they'd named Mirdir, for a few days until they returned. They were desperate, and so we agreed to help them."
She paused, taking a long drink of tea before looking back up at Cassie.
"So, what happened?"
"They never returned."
As I heard those words, I was struck by the similarity of our lives, his and mine.
Both orphaned, both abandoned and alone. I had been lucky enough to find a new family, and I hoped he'd had the same fortune. Distractedly, I realised that Charlan was still talking, and I tried to focus on her words.
"…no room here at the time, so he was taken in by my sister. She loved him as her own, and even though she told him the truth when he was old enough to understand, he was a part of our family. Is a part of our family."
Cassie breathed a sigh of relief.
"I'm glad it worked out so well, Charlan. But why the secret?"
"They remained here only a few months before returning to their battle. Although their names were entered in our village records, it was decided not to encourage too many questions about them, and the child they left behind. Our village is very isolated, Cassie. We are a simple people. We care little for politics, we fear change, fear the unknown. As far as most of us were concerned there was no life 'out there', nothing beyond our world. If they had known aliens had visited us they would have been afraid, and they might not have accepted Mirdir. They accepted an abandoned child far easier, and if anyone had any misgivings they kept them to themselves. It is our way." She shrugged.
"But we've been accepted? Because the village elders discovered the Stargate for themselves, and had time to get used to the idea?" Cassie tried to figure it out.
"I think you are right. And over time people do question things, especially the young. Especially Mirdir."
Having moved forward in her seat whilst Charlan was talking, Cassie now sat back and tried to digest all of the information she'd been told.
"What were they like, this couple?" It made no sense, but she needed to know as much about them as possible.
"Fairly ordinary. The man had brown hair and the woman was fair. I do remember him having extraordinary blue eyes though."
It didn't ring any bells at the time, Mom, I wish it had.
I wish it had.
After reporting back to the Tok'ra High Council, I was instructed to proceed with caution with both lines of enquiry. Proceed with caution? It was a bit late for that. Since I'd woken up that morning I'd known that I had fallen for Mirdir. Really, really fallen for him. We were kindred souls, brought together through time and space, and we belonged with each other. Besides, he was cute.
But I did try. It was the next day before I saw him again, and although we were a little clumsy, dancing round each other, stealing glances at each other, I think we handled the situation with maturity. At least until Charlan left the room, and within seconds we were in each other's arms again.
Ahem. Anyway, after spending several hours going over the data from the historical schematics, it became clear that the science of it all was way beyond my capabilities, and even beyond Hon's. She knew far more than I did about particles and propulsion and protons, but this was sophisticated technobabble, and, after giving it her best shot, we both called it quits. Mirdir was happy for me to invite SG-1, specifically Sam, to come and help with the analysis. He sounded genuinely keen to meet them, including you, Mom. But, of course, you didn't come, it was just Sam and the Colonel.
We'd arranged a rendezvous point several miles outside the village and four miles east of the Stargate, so as not to alarm too many people. It was so good to see Sam again, she ran over and gave me a big hug as soon as Prometheus landed. The Colonel kind of held back, smiling at us in that way he has. I pounced on him as soon as Sam let me go. Something about him always makes me feel like a kid again. I remember how gentle he was around me, how safe he made me feel. How important it was to him that I had the chance to be a kid, that I got to run and play and have a dog.
Charlan watched the ship landing with an expression of utter awe on her face. Mirdir tried to be cool, but I could tell he was pretty impressed. I'd expected Colonel Ronson and his crew to be on board along with SG-1, but only Sam and Colonel O'Neill emerged. Sam quickly explained that this mission was highly sensitive, and given she could (and had) handle the Prometheus on her own, Hammond had given the OK for just the two of them to come. Daniel and Teal'c were working at the new Jaffa home world, but were available as backup if required.
I introduced them to Charlan, and – very nervously – to Mirdir. I think Sam knew the moment she laid eyes on him. Not just how I felt about him, but who he was. As we walked back to the lodging house, she kept staring at him, and looking back at me with a concerned expression on her face. At the time I thought I was just being really obvious, which I was I guess.
Anyway, when we got back to Charlan's, Jack asked Mirdir to show him around the village and Sam and I finally had a chance to talk on our own.
"So, how's Mom?" Cassie sat down in the seat opposite to Sam, curling her feet up under her.
"Your mother is fine, Cassie. But what the hell are you playing at?"
"What? Sam, what are you talking about?"
Sam sighed, and leaned forward in her chair.
"Cass, he's a Goa'uld."
Shocked, Cassie shook her head. "That's impossible, I would have sensed it."
"It's not impossible, it's a fact. I could feel the naquada in him from metres away. How can you not feel it?"
"Major Carter, I did sense something unusual about Mirdir, but it has been difficult to separate exactly what it was. I've never experienced this level of emotion before."
Sam nodded, acknowledging the symbiote's comments, and then smiled as Cassie returned, managing to look sheepish and smug at the same time.
"Hon," she muttered under her breath, before reluctantly looking up to meet Sam's gaze.
"Sweetheart, I know this is hard for you to understand, for both of you, but you have to trust me on this. I've learned over the years to trust the instincts Jolinar left with me. He has naquada in his blood, and that can only mean one thing."
Wrapping her arms round herself, Cassie struggled to take in what her friend was saying. And Hon was whispering to her, telling her that is was possible, it was more than possible.
"You're sure?" She managed to get the words out just before she started crying, and Sam leaned further forward and took Cassie's hands in hers.
"I'm so sorry."
"I love him." The words tumbled out before she could stop herself, and only served to make her cry harder.
Sam tightened her grip on the girl's hands, murmuring meaningless words of comfort until the sobs turned into the occasional sniffle.
"Carter…um… everything ok here?" Colonel O'Neill's voice came from where he hovered in the doorway, wavering between discomfort and concern.
"Yes, sir. Are you alone?"
He looked confused. "No, Carter. You're here, and Cassie."
Rolling her eyes at him, she shook her head, and nodded in the direction from which he'd appeared.
"Oh. Yes, he's off outside talking to Charmaine."
"Charlan," both women said. He shrugged, walked over and sat down on the arm of Cassie's chair.
Sam took a deep breath, but before she could say anything Cassie spoke. "Sam thinks Mirdir is a Goa'uld. She can sense naquada in him."
"Did you…I mean can you…" She was obviously reluctant to ask the question, but Jack got her line of thought.
"Sometimes, Carter, but not always. I can't tell the difference between naquada and last night's pizza most of the time, so I try and ignore it. Especially around you."
"You can feel it from me?"
"Everywhere, Carter. Everywhere."
A sudden sound made Jack turn, and as he stood, Mirdir entered the room. All the time Jack's fingers were moving slowly and surely towards his gun.
"Cassie, what's wrong?" He went quickly across the room to her, and gathered her up into his arms. And then froze at the sound of a zat gun being primed.
Slowly, he turned round, still holding onto Cassie. "What's going on?"
"Put her down, please. We need to talk to you." Sam's voice was calm, her gestures non-threatening as she started backing away.
"It's OK, Mir. We just need to talk to you. They're my friends."
"Then why is he pointing a zat'nikatel at me?"
Jack took a step forward. "A what?"
Almost instantly, Mirdir realised his mistake. He let go of Cassie, and raised his hands. Cassie didn't move away, but took his hand and stood close to him, despite Sam signalling for her to do the opposite.
"I told you, Sam. I trust him."
His sudden smile reassured her, and she led him to sit back down, taking up Jack's position on the arm of the chair herself this time. The Colonel moved quickly to stand behind Sam, who had sank back down in her seat. All eyes were trained on the young man, waiting for him to speak, to give whatever explanation he could. He took a deep breath, and began.
His story blew all of us away, Mom. Sam especially, but I guess that's understandable.
He told us that his parents had left him here as a child, on this safe planet, whilst they went back to fight in a war they could not win. He'd been left with nothing, only the memories that Charlan and her husband could pass on to him, and as he grew up, he didn't give that much thought to his erstwhile family. Until the day his father returned.
He'd been fishing in the stream that supplied the village, about five miles from home. A man had approached, an obvious stranger with an unusual bearing and curious clothing. He'd explained that he was a traveller, and was looking for his long-lost son. Zahran.
Zahran. He'd recognised the word immediately. Charlan had told him that although his name was Mirdir, his parents, in the short time they had lived in the village, had called him Zahran. His mother had said it meant "beloved".
The rest of the day had been spent talking with his father, about everything and nothing. About how his mother had died bravely, and how a day hadn't gone by that she hadn't thought of her son, loved him and longed for the day when she would see him again. They'd both shed tears as he talked about the day she'd died.
And then he began talking about his life now. He spoke of a far away world, a world he'd been to and was returning to again. A people who'd sought out answers, and had found him and his kind. A team who were fighting with them now in this war that had claimed so many lives. A people called the Tau'ri. A team called SG-1.
Sam had all but whispered the question, but I think by this point we already knew who his father was. Had been.
"Martouf?!" The Colonel was incredulous to say the least.
Mirdir just nodded, his eyes never leaving Sam's.
"But I thought the Tok'ra weren't able to have kids, it was frowned upon. Hey, does that make you a… a…"
"Harcesis?" Cassie knew the word, but wasn't sure of everything it implied.
Mirdir shook his head. "My father was concerned about this also, but although I have this naquada you speak of in my blood, I have none of the powers or abilities of either Goa'uld or Tok'ra. He explained as much as he could to me, but I didn't really understand all of it. It makes more sense now having met all of you."
"So, Jolinar was your mother?"
"No," Sam answered, sounding confident. Mirdir shrugged and nodded, a mixture of sadness and anger on his face.
"Her name was Ilmatar."
"That's a beautiful name, " said Cassie, smiling down at him. He gave her a sad smile back in response. She looked across the room, first to Sam and then to Jack. "So, he's not a Goa'uld."
"Good to know. Sorry about the whole zat thing." The Colonel waved said weapon as he spoke, and then realised what he was doing and put it away in his belt hurriedly.
"It's OK, I understand your concerns."
Jack stood up to leave, but Sam motioned him to remain, and she seemed to steel herself to ask one more question.
"When was the last time you saw your father, Mirdir? I'm afraid to tell you that he's…"
"Dead? Yeah, I knew that." He said the words so matter-of-factly that it sent a chill down Cassie's back, and she felt a renewed rush of sympathy for this young man who'd lost almost everything.
"How?" Sam relaxed slightly at the realisation that she wasn't going to have to break the terrible news to him.
"I received word from one of his friends, someone called Anise. She came to visit me shortly after his death, told me what had happened and invited me to come back with her and join the Tok'ra. Obviously I said no."
Ignoring the visible shudder that went through the Colonel, and the red stain rising on Sam's cheeks, Cassie asked him why.
"Because this was my home, and because I didn't want to join a fight that I knew or cared little about. My life here is peaceful, and I want it to remain so. It was not a cowardly decision." He said the last part defiantly, as if challenging anyone to disagree with him.
"Of course not," said Cassie, before the two soldiers could respond. "So, now that the interrogation is out of the way, would anyone like some lunch before we start looking over these schematics?"
"Sounds good, sweetheart," said Jack, batting away Sam's protests about wanting to look at the plans first with a wave of his hand. He sauntered out of the room, with Sam following close on his heels...still protesting good-naturedly.
As soon as they were out of sight, Cassie stood up and pulled Mirdir up into her embrace. They stood there, drawing comfort from each other for a brief moment before he pulled back.
She smiled. "You're welcome. C'mon."
They were already out of the room and half way along the corridor before she wondered what exactly he'd been thanking her for.
Later on that afternoon, Sam very excitedly confirmed Mirdir's findings, namely that these plans were for a power module that could be adapted to work alongside Prometheus' shields and weapons. She was keen to head back to the ship that night and begin configuring the necessary systems, but Colonel O'Neill overruled, and they enjoyed a huge meal courtesy of Charlan. And, although there were a few awkward silences, Cassie began to relax after the stress of the past few days. She couldn't help but notice the concerned glances her two friends kept throwing each other, but tried to shrug them off. She almost succeeded.
As darkness descended, Mirdir rose to leave. Cassie walked him to the door, trying not too feel like an awkward teenager (even though she was), and ignored the smirk on Jack's face. She did make sure the door to the room was firmly closed behind her, and tried to contain her giggles as Mirdir grabbed her hand and began skulking down the corridor to the front door. As they stood outside under the slowly-appearing stars, his other hand came up to take her free one, and he kissed her gently.
"It has been an interesting day, Cassie."
She nodded. "It has, but I'm sorry if it was hard for you. You know, reliving all that hurt and stuff."
He shook his head. "It was necessary. Everything is necessary, love."
Her face lit up, and she pulled him to her, kissing him fiercely this time. When they broke apart, he looked at her, puzzled.
"That was necessary too…love" It was his turn to beam, and he pulled her even closer. But, too soon, he had to leave. With a promise to come by early the next morning to accompany them all to the Prometheus, he walked away and was swallowed up by the evening shadows.
Cassie returned briefly to the main room to say goodnight, and endure the teasing from both sides of the room, before heading to the chamber Charlan had prepared for her and Sam to share.
It was only ten minutes later that she heard footsteps, and low voices outside the room. She could almost make them out, if she listened carefully and tried not to breathe.
She heard a sigh as the footsteps stopped.
"What's up, Carter?"
There was a long pause.
"Ok, I'm just a little…"
"I know. Me too."
"You? You are?"
"Oh. Wow, I didn't…"
"Well, there it is."
Silence, broken only by a floorboard creaking. Cassie could picture the Colonel rocking back and forth on his toes, the way he did when he was nervous. Nervous?
"Yeah. Night, Carter."
The door swung open, and Cassie pretended to be asleep as Sam quickly got ready and jumped into bed. But as she was drifting off to sleep she could have sworn she heard another sigh…
The next morning we were up before the sun to make an early start on the modifications to the Prometheus. Mirdir arrived as we were finishing breakfast, and we headed off shortly after. It took us about an hour to reach where the ship was hidden, walking through golden fields and green woods. The Colonel, somewhat predictably, complained about the trees, but he was ignored by the rest of us so he gave up.
We got to work as soon as we got there, Sam and Mirdir heading straight to start working in the engine room to build the power generator and incorporate it into the ship's engines. The Colonel and I were in the control room, carrying out their instructions every so often to test this and push that. He had some paper and a pen, so we ended up playing noughts and crosses, hangman and the like in between times. I won.
After several hours, everything was ready, and Sam suggested a test flight to see just exactly how the new systems would work. Ten minutes later, we were in the air.
I don't think I've ever seen anyone as excited as Mirdir was. He was sitting in the left hand command seat, and gripping the arms so hard his knuckles were turning white. When we took off, his eyes grew wide with absolute delight, he looked just like a little kid, twisting round in the seat to grin at me.
I smiled back softly, and tried to ignore Hon singing Tok'ra love songs inside my head.
Anyway, now we're getting to the part of the story that I don't want to tell, Mom. The part that I want to forget ever happened. But that would mean forgetting the other stuff, the good stuff and I don't want to do that either. Writing it all down has helped, although I've been crying as I've been writing for most of it. Sam's here, though, beside me, as I write this part. I don't want to be alone. Although I am now, more than ever.
Jack and Mirdir had gone to the engine room to make some minor adjustments, whilst Sam and I remained in the control room. She was furiously scribbling down notes as she intently scanned the panels in front of her, while I just kind of stood there and tried not to feel as useless as I looked.
After about twenty minutes, she radioed Colonel O'Neill to say that they could stop now, that she had all the results she needed. No response. She tried again, a couple of times, but still nothing. Thinking that it might be the power generator that was perhaps interfering with the communications, she asked me to go down and tell them we were done. I was glad to, glad to finally be doing something other than watching.
I made my way quickly down through the ladders and corridors of the ship, trying not to turn cartwheels or run down the empty hallways. Everything was only semi-lit, giving the walls a soft and glowy feel, the silver walls reflecting in the shadows.
It was just outside the engine room that I found him.
At first I thought he was dead. He was lying so still, the only thing moving was the trickle of blood running down from forehead to chin to floor. Screaming his name, I ran over and knelt down beside him, desperately feeling his chest for any kind of movement, grabbing at his wrist for a pulse... something, anything.
There was a pulse, faint and wobbly, but it was there. Struggling not to cry, I wiped the blood away, only for more to follow in its path. I didn't know whether to move him or not, but then Hon took over and I gratefully let her take charge.
She tried to call Sam on my radio, but got only static and she flung it at the wall in disgust. Using all of our combined strength, she managed to turn him over, into the recovery position. There was so much blood, Mom, it was horrible. He was breathing more audibly now, but his face was grey.
Hon was debating whether to go back to get Sam, or to head to the engine room which was nearer, and I was yelling at her to make a decision. She did, and leaned close to his ear.
"We will return soon. Do not stop breathing. Promise me." I could hear the tears in her voice too, despite the short time she had known him, I think she loved him at least as much as I did. Before she stood up, she pushed me to the front, to let me say something.
"Hang in there, Colonel Jack." And then I began running.
I reached the engine room moments later, but the doors were shut. I pounded on them, screaming for Mirdir to come, to open them. Kicking them in frustration made no difference, but I wouldn't stop. And then his voice came, weak although it sounded close by on the other side. He said to get Sam, to get help and come back down here. He kept repeating over and over…Get Sam, get Sam. I was frightened to leave him, but Hon once again took care of the decision for me, and began running again, this time in the direction I'd come. A quick check told us Jack was still breathing, although his colour remained the same, and then running again through the maze of corridors.
As I reached the control room, Sam turned round at the sound of my arrival, and asked me what was wrong, but I was too out of breath to speak. She came over, wrapping her arm around my shoulder and trying to get me to calm down and tell her what was wrong.
Eventually I managed to get the words out, that something was wrong and the Colonel and Mirdir were both badly injured. She reacted just like the soldier she was, grabbing her Zat her jacket and leading the way towards the engine room. It was only when we reached Colonel O'Neill that she betrayed any emotion, checking his vital signs professionally before gently placing her jacket over him. Her hand lingered for just a moment as she felt his forehead, and her eyes were wide as she beckoned me to follow her to find Mirdir.
We reached the doors, which were still closed, and began hammering on them as I had done before. After a moment, his voice could be heard again, asking if Sam was there. When she shouted back that she was, the doors opened, and suddenly he was standing in front of us.
"Samantha." His voice was different, full of hatred and scorn.
"Mirdir, are you OK? Where are you hurt?" Anxiously Cassie took a step forward, until Sam grabbed her arm to stop her.
"What's going on here? What happened to the Colonel?" Sam was raising the zat gun as she spoke, distrusting the intense look in Mirdir's eyes.
"The Colonel? He got in the way."
"What do you mean?" The zat was triggered now, and aimed at his heart.
"Simply that. He could have tried to stop me from doing what I came here to do."
"You hurt him? What did you do?" Cassie looked in shock at Sam, the words barely heard over the pounding of her heart. But Sam wasn't listening, she was totally focussed on the young man in front of her, who was edging closer and closer.
"Who are you?"
"You know who I am, Samantha. I'm your son." He threw the words in her face, and before she had a chance to react the zat flew out of her hands and skittered away down the corridor.
"That's not possible," Sam whispered, as Cassie turned in amazement to look at the zat gun, now lying twenty feet away from them.
"How did you do that?" she asking, looking back at him.
"I have a lot more power than you know, Cassie. I told you the truth, when I said I was not Harcesis, but I have abilities beyond that of a normal being."
"What kind of abilities?"
"Superior strength...agility...insight. And some telekinetic skills, although I need to work on them a bit." With those words Cassie flew up in the air and was dashed against the ceiling, before falling limply to the floor.
Sam went to try and help her, but found herself unable to move, he seemed to be holding her in some kind of force shield. Struggling for a moment, she soon realised it was futile and focussed her attention back on him.
"Why are you doing this? Why did you hurt Cassie?"
"Because I can. Because hurting her hurts you."
Cassie moaned, and began to drag herself back up to her feet, standing as near to Sam as she could.
"Why do you want to hurt me? We've never even met."
His face contorted in pain as he replied.
"My mother was Jolinar of Malkshur and you killed her. And then you killed my father."
As he spoke those words, he began raising her up off the floor, and spinning her round and round in the air. She tried to answer him, to explain, but she was unable to speak. Suddenly he let her go, and she crashed against the corridor wall, then again into the one opposite before landing on the floor with a loud thump. She didn't get back up.
Cassie could feel a tear starting to trickle down her face, and she angrily dashed it away with a hand.
"She didn't kill them, Mirdir. Jolinar was so badly hurt by the Ashrak that she couldn't heal herself. She gave her life to save Sam, because she didn't want her to die as well."
He was edging closer to her now, shaking his head with every step.
"It's true. And your father, Martouf? He was brainwashed by the Goa'uld and tried to kill many people. When he was discovered he tried to kill himself, to self destruct and he begged Sam to shoot him before he did. He died in her arms, with her tears rolling down his face."
"She cared about them both, loved them both and was devastated when they died."
He was right in front of her now, his hand reaching out to touch her cheek.
"I'm sorry, Cassie. I just don't believe you. I've heard what happened from someone who was actually there. I know you're trying to protect your friend, but she is a murderer and doesn't deserve your loyalty."
She shook her head, and tried to take a step back, but she was frozen in place.
"I'm sorry, Cassie," he said again. "I don't want to hurt you, but this is the only way. She has to pay for what she's done."
"Please..." she started to sob, finding it hard to breathe. Hon was desperately trying to think of something to say to stall him, to understand him, but she was at a loss also.
"I love you," he said. And then her world went black.
When she came to, she was alone in the corridor. Wearily picking herself up, she started back towards the control room, jumping at every sound and movement she imagined she saw along the way. The Colonel was no longer in the place where they'd found him, the only testament to his having been there a pool of dark red on the floor. Trying not to think about what his fate had been, she continued on.
Quietly approaching the control room, she looked in to see an unconscious Sam once again suspended in the air whilst Mirdir frantically pushed buttons and pulled levers on the control panels. Looking round to see if there was anything she could use as a weapon, she took a step too close to the door sensors and they began to shut with a hiss. Mirdir turned immediately, and she felt herself flying over to join Sam.
She tried to speak, but it felt like her mouth was stuffed full of cotton wool, and her eyes watered with the effort of breathing. He turned back to panels, pushing one more button before nodding firmly.
And then she heard the distorted computer voice beginning to count down.
"Samantha." His voice sounded loud, as if he was actually inside her head. "It is time."
"Time…for…what?" Sam forced the words out.
"Time to stop you son of a bitch!" Jack shouted from the doorway, as he fired a zat gun at Mirdir. The second shot hit the target and the young man crumpled to the floor. Whatever force was suspending Sam and Cassie in the air dispersed and they drifted down more gently this time.
Cassie pulled Sam into a hug, before letting her go again just as swiftly when she winced. "Are you OK?"
"Not really, Cass. But I will be." There was a look in her eyes that Cassie had never seen before, a mixture of self-recrimination and fear. As Jack walked gingerly over to them both, swaying slightly, the computer's voice spoke again.
*TWO MINUTES TO AUTO-DESTRUCT.*
With Cassie helping her, Sam made her way over to the control panel, and began cancelling the auto-destruct sequence. Jack was standing close behind them, his hands rubbing the back of his head where he'd been injured. Within moments the sequence was aborted, and all three breathed a sigh of relief. Until they turned round and saw that Mirdir was gone.
Slumping down on one of the flight chairs as she was overcome with utter weariness, Cassie tried to take in everything that had just happened. The Colonel was discussing going after Mirdir with Sam, who was trying to dissuade him on account of the amount of blood he had already lost, and was still losing. Looking past them, Cassie suddenly saw that the ship was a lot nearer the ground than it should be. And was getting nearer, and nearer…
"Sam, we're crashing!" She shouted, and pointed at the visual screen.
Sam and Jack whirled round, and both began punching buttons on the control panel yet again as the Stargate came into view.
"It's not working, he must have disabled the controls," Sam said, looking to the Colonel for further instructions.
"How long 'til we hit ground?"
"Ninety seconds max."
"Not enough time to get to the engine room then. OK, crash positions, people."
The three of them took up brace positions as best they could, and waiting for the inevitable landing.
Cassie kept counting down in her head, but reached zero twice before the impact actually hit. And when it did all three were flung into the centre of the room. All was noise and shaking and rattling for what seemed like hours, and then there was utter silence.
Her knees were a bit fluttery as she stood up, and made her way to where Sam and Jack were getting to their feet.
"So, now what?" She was afraid to ask, afraid what was going to happen to the man she'd fallen in love with and been so betrayed by within a matter of days.
"We need to go find him, Cassie. And then we need to talk to him and try and find out more about him." Sam began walking out of the control room, with Jack and then Cassie following behind.
When they found the way down to the engine room blocked, they had to head outside and walk round the Prometheus to try and find a way in further along. But there was no way in, none of the doors would work.
They found him lying on the ground, flung several feet away from the steps leading up to the Gate. His neck had been broken, and one of his legs lay at an awkward angle. Cassie knelt down by his side and gently closed his eyes, before breaking down and crying hysterically. Jack lifted her up, and supporting her and Sam, started them off on the long walk back to the village.
I've spent the last couple of days trying to get it all straight in my head. Why did Mirdir think Sam was responsible for Jolinar's death, and for Martouf's? Why did he decide to exact such a terrible revenge? And did he even love me at all, or was it all just an act?
He obviously knew who I was from the start, he acted so familiar. He said someone had told him all about Sam, I wonder if it could have been Anise. I asked Sam about that, and she simply clenched her teeth and said to let it go. I suspect she has her own plans for dealing with that. I just wish I had a plan for dealing with it all.
Hon is being very philosophical about it all. She says it's better that he was stopped, because he could have sold us all out to the Goa'uld. He could have been planning to crash the ship into the village. And I understand how she feels, I really do. I just wish that I'd realised, I'd figured it out with no-one having to get hurt. Especially him.
Sam's feeling a lot better now, they're heading back to Earth today. Actually, all they're waiting for is me finishing this. So, I guess I should start saying goodbye.
I wish you were here, Mom. I wish you could come and make me hot chocolate with marshmallows like you used to do when I had nightmares. I wish this was a nightmare I could wake up from.
But, I'm still here. I know that here is where I'm meant to be, and that my being here does make a difference. And I'm doing OK.
I hope to see you real soon but until then take good care of yourself, don't work too hard and don't worry about me.
I love you, Mom.
P.S. Hon sends her love.
The coffee had long since gone cold, and the last few pages were tear-stained. Sam found her friend asleep over the desk, and she gently removed the letter before moving Janet into a more comfortable position.
Sighing to herself, she left the room, turning out the light as she closed the door.
Written by: fairygnomes
Beta: Jo. R
Producers: LauraJo & Vicki