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26 December 2006 @ 02:45 pm
Fic: What's Simple is True, 6/10 (SG1, 12A/PG-13)  
What’s Simple is True
By Kyizi

Disclaimer:
Stargate: SG1 and all related items do not belong to me. Only the story and all original characters therein are mine. No copyright infringement intended.

All notes etc in Chapter One


Previous Chapters

| Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five |



* * *

What’s Simple is True


* * *


By the time she was beginning to relax in her surroundings, Sam already felt drained. With her father’s presence setting her off, she had been unable to restrain herself when faced with Janet, Cassie, and even Teal’c. Much to the Jaffa’s surprise, she had hugged him tightly.

Stepping away from her friends, she turned and crossed the room to her son, not quite sure how to handle the next part. She leaned down, although, much to her irritation, not very far – Liam had almost been as tall as her since he turned ten – and smiled reassuringly at him.

“You okay?” she asked and he nodded. “This is all bit much, isn’t it?”

Liam shrugged and continued to look over her shoulder. She turned her head and caught her dad’s gaze. Taking a deep breath, she stood up straight and closed her eyes momentarily, before placing her hands on Liam’s shoulders.

“There’s someone I want you to meet, Liam.”

“You called that man ‘Dad’,” he said softly and Sam nodded.

“Yeah, I did.”

“That’s your dad?”

“Yeah, that’s my dad,” Sam said, smiling and glancing at her father. “Wanna meet him?”

“Okay.”

She placed one of her hands on his back and walked with him, glad that the others had congregated at the other side of the briefing table and were conversing softly to give them some privacy. Jack was watching them over the top of Janet’s head, but she found that she didn’t mind. In fact, it gave her a little more confidence.

“Hey, Dad, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.” It was clear to Sam that her father already knew all about Liam, well as much as she had told Jack and Daniel at least, but had already decided that it was best for her son if she handled this first introduction properly. “Dad, this is my son, Liam. Liam, this is my dad.”

“Hi,” Liam said softly, smiling nervously.

“Hey there.” Her father cleared his throat and glanced at Sam, not really sure what to do next, but he didn’t have to wonder long. Liam frowned and pursed his lips in a manner that she was very familiar with.

“What do you want to know?” she asked in a tone that made it clear that she was waiting for a list of questions.

Liam, however, didn’t direct his questions at Sam, but at her father. “If you’re Mom’s dad, does that mean you’re my...?” he trailed off, clearly unsure as to how to address the older man.

“I’m your grandfather.”

“I never had one of those before,” Liam said and they both chuckled at the way he seemed to address it as if a grandfather were someone one acquired at birthdays and Christmases.

“What…em…”

“Whatever it is, Liam, you can just ask,” Sam said softly and Liam nodded.

“What do I call you?”

“Well, your cousins call me Grampa, so I guess you could call me that. If you wanted.”

“I have cousins?” Liam asked, surprised.

His grandfather nodded. “Five.”

“Five!” Sam exclaimed loudly. Everyone turned to look at her and she shook her head. “I guess Mark’s been busy the last fourteen years.”

They all laughed and moved to take their seats as her father smiled sadly at her. “So have you,” he said and she nodded, looking away. She steered Liam into one of the chairs, smiling as he looked up at her father. It was clear that he wanted to sit next to his grandfather.

Sam turned to find herself faced with General Tigh, who quickly introduced himself and indicated that she should sit. She wasn’t quite sure how to act around the man, she wasn’t sure what he had been told about her, or what he intended to do about her sudden reappearance. She only hoped he would help her figure out what was happening with her children. Both Daniel and Amy liked and trusted the man, but she hadn’t had the chance to speak to Jack yet. She wasn’t really sure she was ready to talk to him, but she knew it was coming.

She took a seat on Liam’s other side, smiling when she saw that he was talking quietly to her father. She pulled her chair in, suddenly realising that it was the same one she had spent so many years sitting in. She took in a deep breath as the familiarity hit her and glanced up to find Jack looking at her. It was clear he was thinking the same thing she was; if she ignored everything else it was almost as if it was just another day, just another briefing, another mission, another planet to explore.

But then General Tigh cleared his throat and the loss of Hammond hit her. It wasn’t the same and it never would be again. And that, she knew, was all her fault.

“I guess we should get started,” Tigh began. “I think you all know why we’re here. General Hammond and I spoke about this a long time ago, when he was preparing to step down from his position running this facility. Not that he knew I was going to get left with the place,” he said wryly and she smiled as Jack shrugged.

“It was a gift I was quite happy to return.”

“Shame you didn’t return it in tact,” Tigh muttered and Jack winced.

Sam glanced at Daniel for an explanation, but he chuckled and shook his head. He would tell her later, no doubt.

“I believe congratulations are in order for completing your mission, Major Carter,” Tigh continued and the tone of his voice made it quite clear that he was well aware of the fact that there had been no mission. How he felt about that, however, was still a mystery to her. There was a lot about the entire situation, in fact, that was still a complete mystery to her.

“Eh…thank you, Sir,” she said, struggling with a smile.

“Well, perhaps you can tell us more about what prompted your return, Major.”

Feeling slightly thrown by the fact that, fourteen years down the line, she was suddenly being addressed by her rank again, she stumbled through her thoughts. She glanced around the room, feeling somewhat as if she was on trial. She jumped when she felt something grab her hand, relaxing when she realised that Liam had taken hold of it. She smiled at him and squeezed his hand.

“Right,” she said, taking a deep breath. She tried to detach herself from the situation and treat it as just another debrief, but she couldn’t. This was about her son and these people were her family.

“I’m not really sure where to begin,” she said, feeling as if she owed them all a full explanation. However, with Tigh in the room having just congratulated her on her ‘mission’, she was unable to do that just yet. “It never occurred to me that Liam or the girls might have…unusual abilities, but it seems…” she trailed off.

Jack was smirking at her, as was her father. Daniel quickly turned a chuckle into a cough and both Janet and Cassie were regarding her with amusement.

“What?” she asked, directing her question towards Teal’c, knowing that he was the most likely person to give her a straight answer.

“I believe they are intrigued by the change in your vocals, Major Carter.”

“The what?”

Jacob chuckled. “That’s quite a twang you’ve picked up, Sammy.”

“I do not have a twang.”

“Of course not,” Jack said mildly, but he didn’t stop smiling.

“Daniel, tell them I don’t have a twang. I’ve spent a lot of time with you since I got back!”

“Yes, yes, you have,” Daniel said, pushing his glasses further up his nose. His lips twitched. “A lot of time that my lovely wife had to keep reminding me that you can probably kill me with your bare hands should I even think of bringing it up.”

Sam’s jaw dropped at the chuckles emanating from the rest of the table. Even Teal’c looked amused.

“There is nothing different with my voice.”

Liam groaned. “Please don’t get her started. Aunt Terri mentioned her accent once and that argument lasted about four hours.”

“You’re exaggerating, Liam.”

“It didn’t stop ‘til Dad said he was going to poke his eyes out with his fork.”

Despite the laughter that followed Liam’s statement, the sudden mention of Orlin seemed to sober everyone up. Given the fact that it was now on the table, so to speak, General Tigh seemed to have no further qualms just asking straight out.

“So, I take it your alien husband has passed on some interesting traits to your children, Major Carter,” he prompted. “Perhaps you could fill us in a little more.”

Before she was able to decipher the tone of his voice, Liam sneezed…and, in a flash of light, completely disappeared.


* * *


Sam paced the infirmary floor, counting her steps as she moved. Her internal counting did nothing to deter her brain, which was simultaneously trying to remember and analyse every time Orlin had made them invisible and running – on a loop – that terrifying moment in the briefing room where her son had disappeared right in front of her.

As if needing to reaffirm the fact that he had reappeared moments later, she glanced over at the bed where Liam was currently having his entire body scanned by Janet, who was waving a small alien device over him. Liam seemed more fascinated by the three dimensional holographic projection of his insides than worrying about the fact that his mother was freaking out less than five feet away from him.

“Sam?”

“Ninety four.”

“What?”

She shook her head and turned to face her father. “Sorry, Dad,” she said, ignoring the fact that Jack, who was standing next to him, was chuckling softly to himself. The look in her former CO’s eyes clearly stated that he knew what she had been doing with each step, even if it hadn’t registered with her until she’d spoken.

“You okay?”

“I’m fine,” she said, nodding emphatically.

“Sure ya are, Carter.”

She sent Jack a withering stare, but he just grinned at her. Just like old times. Except that it wasn’t. Her husband was dead, everything had changed, she wasn’t sure if Jack would keep on speaking to her (because she knew he was still angry with her and they would have to address that at some point), Cassie was an adult who was sitting on the bed to her left playing with a wedding ring, Teal’c had hair, and, oh, yeah, her children were disappearing and reading people’s minds.

Maybe she wasn’t okay, after all.

“I need to sit,” she said and Cassie patted the bed next to her. She sat down and took a deep breath, smiling when she felt the young woman leaning against her shoulder. She looked down at the top of the girl’s head and could almost believe Cassie was still the teenager she remembered. “I can’t believe you’re all grown up,” she said softly and the younger woman sat up again.

“Well,” Cassie said softly, “that’s what happens when you run out on us.” There was no malice or anger in Cassie’s voice and, somehow, that made her words hurt so much more.

“I…I didn’t want to leave you all, Cass,” Sam said, her eyes beginning to nip when she saw the tears streaking down Cassie’s face. “I missed you so much.” She reached up and pulled on the younger woman’s short hair.

“I missed you, too, Sam, but…I don’t understand why you left…I mean…I do, but then I think about it and I just don’t get it.”

“Sometimes I don’t either.”

“You just left, Sam. You didn’t even say goodbye. I was thirteen years old and you just left and I didn’t know why or if you were coming back or…I thought you were dead and Mom just didn’t want to tell me. I’m not saying this to upset you, Sam, I just…I guess I want to know why. Surely we deserve that much.”

“You do, of course you do, I just…I’m not sure I can…”

“Sam?”

Janet’s voice made them all jump. The look in Sam’s eyes made it clear to Cassie that she would get an explanation at some point and the young woman nodded, taking hold of Sam’s hand. She squeezed it softly, as they turned to Janet.

“Is everything okay?” Sam asked, almost fearfully.

“Well, the initial scans confirm that everything’s fine. Liam’s just an ordinary twelve year old boy.”

“Ordinary twelve year old boys don’t vanish when they sneeze, Doc,” Jack said dryly and Janet frowned at him.

“I’m well aware of that General, however, I wasn’t finished. I’ve done basic scans to make sure that there’s nothing actually wrong,” Janet continued. “Whatever it is that’s causing this…ability to surface now, isn’t damaging his health in the process. Liam’s genetic makeup is part alien, all we need to do is isolate what’s causing this and figure out if there’s a way to control it.”

“Am I sick?”

They all jumped at the sound of Liam’s voice. He appeared from behind Janet and made his way to Sam, allowing her to pull him into the circle of her arms. They both looked up at Janet and, despite the fact that Liam looked so much like his father, the identical expressions on their faces made it clear that Liam was very much like his mother.

“No, Liam,” Janet said, smiling, “you’re not sick. You’re just…different.”

“Like my dad?”

“Yes, like your dad.”

“Okay. I can handle that.”

Sam smiled and brushed his hair back from his forehead. Liam wasn’t sick and he didn’t appear to be in any immediate danger.

“So, what do we do now?” Sam asked, glancing at each of them in turn.

“Well, I’d like to run a few more tests, nothing invasive,” Janet hurried to explain, clearly trying to stave off any protests. “We’ve been doing some trading with the Asgard over the last few years, so we have access to better medical technology, and there are a few things I’d like to check up on. To be honest, I think this is a natural development in Liam’s case. I think his body just reached that point where it’s trying to ‘grow up’. His voice is going to break, he’ll have a growth spurt; he’s going through the natural progression of any teenage boy. The difference is that he is part alien and that part is going to assert itself at this stage as well.”

Liam frowned. “What about Sarah?” he asked, not seeing the look in his mother’s eyes, or noticing that both Daniel and Jack were trying to get him to stop talking. They’d discussed things the previous evening, albeit briefly, and come to the conclusion that they should deal with one thing at a time and had decided not to mention that Sarah was also developing other abilities.

“Sarah?” Janet asked.

“My sister.”

“I don’t think we need to go into that now, Liam,” Sam said, but by this point she could already tell that Janet wasn’t going to let her leave the room without an explanation. If there was one thing that would never change, Sam surmised, it was that, when Janet gave you that look, you did what you were told.

“Sam,” Janet prompted.

She glanced at Daniel, who smiled and said, “It might help Janet figure this out if she has all the facts.”

Turning to look at Jack, she silently begged him to make the decision for her; to take the decision out of her hands and order her to tell them everything. But he didn’t. Jack shrugged his shoulders and didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to; she knew what he was thinking just by looking at him. It was up to her and whatever she decided to do was the right decision.

Sighing, Sam leaned her head against the back of Liam shoulder for a moment, almost as if she was drawing strength from him, before sitting up straight again.

“Okay,” she said, pulling her son closer and, despite his usual protestations, he seemed to understand that she needed him. He leaned back so that he was almost sitting next to her on the bed, Cassie still leaning on her other side. And, surrounded by her family, Sam finally began to tell her story.


* * *


“You did this.”

Jack spun on his heels to find her leaning against his doorway. Her hands were in the pockets of her jeans and she offered him a small smile.

His lips twitched. “That an accusation?”

“It’s an ‘I can’t believe you did this’ and…and it’s a thank you. You got them all here, after everything…you brought my dad, and I just… Thank you.”

He shrugged it off, as she knew he would, but she crossed the room and placed a hand on his arm.

“Please, Jack, don’t pretend this is nothing. It’s not nothing.” She smiled sadly at him, wishing she could make him understand, wishing that her explanation earlier had been enough to make up for everything, despite knowing that nothing ever could. She’d been brief in her details, focussing mainly on her children, giving Janet every small detail that could help her figure this out.

“Carter?”

She jumped on instinct, blinked and replied, “Sorry, Sir,” as if she was on autopilot. Rather than making him angry again, however, she realised that there was a smile playing at his lips. She’d missed that. “Jack, I…” she trailed off, trying to figure out the change in his expression. She didn’t have to wait long.

“You used to find that…impossible.”

She didn’t need to ask what he was referring to, but it was enough to make her pull back her hand. She looked down and shifted a little on her feet. Shaking her head she looked up at him again and she hated that there were tears in her eyes.

“I didn’t want this, you know. I never meant for,” she waved her arms around in a gesture meant to encompass, well, everything. “I never meant for any of this. You know, I spent so many years just thinking about how much I missed you…all of you and…” She closed her eyes, knowing that what she was about to say was breaking so many of their self-made rules on the subject, one that already had too many actual rules, but she found that she didn’t really care. She had to make him understand.

“I need you to know that you weren’t just Colonel O’Neil to me,” she whispered, speaking so quietly he almost missed it. He nodded, but didn’t speak. “I thought about you – all of you – every single day. I just…I missed you all so much. I didn’t just miss you as my CO…Sir.” The twitch of his lips was contagious and she found herself smiling back without even having to try. “I think I missed the other part of you more, the side of you that I never really got to see because I wasn’t allowed to. I missed Jack, too. I’m not sure if realising that made things easier or more difficult, but…I can stop if you’d prefer-”

“No,” he said quickly. “No, I just…it surprised me is all.”

She laughed, but there was little humour in the sound. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes, only to find them snapping open again a moment later. She didn’t move, barely breathed as she stared back at him, part of her wishing he’d remove his hands and stop trailing them up and down her arms. The rest of her, however, just wanted to take the comfort he was offering, not sure if she’d ever be in the position to accept it again…not sure if, when this was all over, he’d even speak to her again.

“We’re not okay, Carter,” he said, as if reading her mind. “But I’m not stupid enough to think that I’ll be able to keep this up for long.” As if he could sense her preparing to pull away, he strengthened his grip on her arms until she looked directly at him. “I never could stay mad at you long,” he clarified.

The tension left her body almost instantly. She inhaled deeply and let her head fall forward and allowed him to pull her a little closer until the top of her head was resting on his chest. She curled her hands around his wrists, stilling their motion, and just holding on.

“Thank you,” she said and, somehow, that was more than enough.

“Just…do me a favour.”

“Anything.” Sam lifted her head and looked straight into his eyes, almost surprised by how close they were standing.

“Tell your kid to stay out of my mind.”

She laughed, the sound seeming foreign even to her. “I already told her not to go exploring; she might get lost in there.”

“Insulting a superior officer, Carter?” he teased. When she didn’t react as planned he frowned. “What?”

She stepped back and allowed herself to fall into the chair facing his desk. Following her lead, he leaned back and perched on the edge of his desk.

“I feel like a stranger.”

He didn’t point out that she almost looked like one, too.

“I’ve walked these halls so many times and I remember everything about this place, but it’s not the same and neither am I. I keep having these…flashes of normalcy and it’s like I never left, but the moment ends and suddenly I’m right back where I started only I’m more confused than before because, for a moment, everything was okay.”

“I know what you mean,” he said softly and she smiled.

They sat in silence for a moment until suddenly Jack appeared to have some form of revelation. It turned out, however, to be more of a search for something than an epiphany. A few moments after he began raking through his desk drawers, he walked back around his desk and handed her a letter. She was about to ask him what it was when her name, scrawled on the top of the envelope, caught her eye. She knew that writing very well.

“Wh-when did he write this?” she asked and Jack shrugged.

“I’m not sure. A long time ago, I think. His, eh,” Jack cleared his throat, “his hands were a bit…shaky near the end.”

Sam nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

“He, eh, he asked for you. Before he died.”

Even knowing he meant his statement as a comfort, as a way of telling her that she had never been forgotten, his words broke what little resolve she had left. Sam suddenly covered her face with her hands, the envelope still threaded through her fingers, and sat forward, pressing her forehead to her knees. She wasn’t making a sound, but her shoulders were shaking with silent sobs.

She barely even registered that Jack was next to her in an instant, didn’t acknowledge that one of his hands was rubbing her back, whilst the other cupped the back of her head. Somehow she didn’t need to, because it was enough that he was there.


* * *

Part Seven

* * *