A Trip to St. Elsewhere
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I 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 author(s).
A TRIP TO ST. ELSEWHERE
Lovely planet, this Sand. That's what he had decided to call it and the name said it all. He actually gave them all names in his mind, he just never let any of the others know. Daniel had complained in the early days about the number-letter designations and he, as usual, had taken the opposite position, mostly just to irritate the younger man.
In truth, he had never cared for the colorless official identifications given each address they had visited. Hell, these were worlds, each one of them unique and fascinating--though he would never ever let his boundless awe for what they were doing show through. He was a been-around-the-block-more-times-than-I-have-fingers-and-toes colonel and there was no way he would let on how he really felt. Not even to his team.
His team. That was another thing. A few years ago, he would never have imagined that he would be travelling to alien worlds, fighting an extraterrestial menace, making friends with little gray guys and finding a whole new family in three totally dissimilar people (well, five, if you added General Hammond and the Doc) who had each carved a special place in his life and his heart.
Each one of them, in his--or her--own way, had helped him to heal. He had come to rely on their strengths, their caring , their very presence in his life, and he could no longer imagine going on without them.
And then there was Sam. Just thinking about her brought a stir of warmth to his heart and a healing balm to his soul. They both knew what the regs demanded and they both knew that this was not their time. The war needed them, and so, they would put their feelings on hold. Their day would come. The fact that his practically perfect 2IC was willing to wait, just to have a battered old soldier, was a source of wonder to him. She had brought back hope to his universe.
Well up ahead, poking up over a sand dune, he could see the broken towers that marked the border of the ruins the UAV had spotted. Daniel was practically wheeling in circles in his eagerness to be gone, and he kept throwing pleading glances at Jack, willing the older man to give the "go ahead" signal. Jack hid his smile and kept a neutral expression on his face.
"Okay, people, the UAV indicated that there could be some naquada deposits here. Fortunately for our salivating archaeologist, they appear to be in the same direction as the ruins. By the way, Carter, isn't it unusual to have deposits of naquada on a desert world?"
Sam nodded. "Yes sir. It suggests that there was a time when this world had a vastly different climate."
Daniel was now hopping from foot to foot. "Fascinating, Sam," he said insincerely, then he stared at the beckoning tower and turned back to O'Neill. "Ja-a-a-ck, I have to go!"
"Well, hell, Daniel," O'Neill drawled. "I told you to do that before we left the SGC."
A stifled giggle behind him brought a quick smile to his eyes, having gotten the desired reaction from his lovely 2IC. Taking pity on the younger man, he patted Daniel's shoulder.
"Okay, Danny boy. Take your appointed place in the convoy and we'll head out."
Daniel, handed the prospect of exploring the ruins, did not offer any protest at being ordered, however nicely, to the middle of the group. Glancing over his shoulder and assuring himself that his charges were all prepared to move out, Colonel Jack O'Neill secured his grip on his MP-5 and waved a hand in the direction of the deserted city.
"Wagons, ho," he called out.
SG-1 was on the move.
Dr. Janet Fraiser, having completed all of her rounds for the day, stopped to have a final chat with her favorite patient. He lay, as he had for the past four-plus years since the accident, in a coma in a private room, paid for, as part of the Court's sentence, by the parents of the two arrogant, uncaring and thoroughly drunk young men who had run his car off the road.
The accident had not only taken his consciousness. It had also killed his wife and nine-year old son. Janet had often wondered if he knew, if he had had time to realize, before the savage head injury had closed him off from the world, that they were lost to him. She had always hoped that he had not.
He was her own Sleeping Beauty, waiting in his lonely tower for the touch that would awaken him. After all this time, no one else believed he would ever regain consciousness, but Janet had always hoped that, this time, when she gently peeled back his eyelids and flashed her penlight into each dark brown eye, this time there would be a response. She wanted to see his pupils dilate, to see him blink, to see him smile.
She bet he had a killer smile.
She had watched his hair go from brown to silver-gray, wondering if the trauma had not speeded up the process. They kept it short, as it had been at the time of the accident. It was perpetually unruly and she sometimes gave into the urge to carefully brush it into some semblance of shape with her fingers. Only when she was alone, though. It was not a doctorly thing to do.
Janet picked up the clipboard at the foot of the bed and checked the most recent nurses' notes. The medications had all been delivered on schedule and the IV's recently replaced. She replaced the clipboard and moved toward the head of the bed.
"Hello, Jack, it's Janet Fraiser. How are we doing today?" She reached down and straightened his blanket, patting his shoulder lightly. After checking his pulse, she pulled the chair next to the bed into a better position and sat down.
As always, she began to fill him in about the latest happenings. After ticking off the major global events, she started on more personal news.
"We finally found a home for the last kitten. Cassie kept giving me pleading looks, but I think three cats are enough! I don't know why, but I figure you for a dog person. Me, too, actually, but they need more time and attention than I have to give right now. Cassie promised that she would do all the work with a dog, but we know better. As soon as the dog interferes with her other interests, it will be 'Mom, could you walk Spot? Just this time. Promise'"
She smiled gently. "Cassie drew another picture for you, but I forgot to bring it. Tomorrow. She always asks how you're doing. It's a beautiful picture. You're outside with plenty of blue--powder blue, I'm afraid, she ran out of sky-blue--skies and fluffy clouds. Someday, huh?"
A shadow fell across the bed and Janet jumped with surprise and turned in the chair. Then she smiled and let out the breath she had been hodling.
"Connie! Give a person some warning. This old ticker isn't what it used to be."
"Pooh," Conchetta Falcone, "Connie" to her friends, replied. "I saw your last physical. Your heart's a well-oiled machine."
Connie, Head Night Nurse for the Corning Rehabilitation Center, smiled at her favorite doctor. There were many doctors she admired for their skills, but few she actually liked, finding them arrogant and often uncaring, more concerned with the problem than the patient. Janet Fraiser had both skills and caring.
Maybe too much so. For some reason, Janet had gotten totally involved in the situation of the patient she had just been talking to. Connie shook her head. Jack O'Neill was one of the living dead. The massive brain damage was irreversible. Yet Janet persisted in talking to him, encouraging him, as if she expected him to roll over and wake up.
She knew her friend was doomed to disappointment, and she worried that Janet would end up grieving for someone she had never had the slightest chance to save.
Connie hesitated, then patted Janet's shoulder. "You know he can't hear you."
"I don't know that at all, Connie. No one does. I know he's not responding that we can tell, but I don't know that he doesn't hear my voice, that it doesn't hold him here in some way."
Janet's hands curled into fists. "I get so angry when I think of why he's here. Those two drunken bastards and their drag race. What is so infuriating is that they don't give a damn. I watched tapes of their arrest. They smirked through everything. Not even an insincere gesture of remorse.
"And why should they? Daddy and Mommy got them out of everything, and not for the first time. Community service, probation and they're out there probably running over someone else."
She pointed at the comatose man. "He didn't get community service; he got a life sentence. His wife and son didn't get probation; they got a cemetary plot. Four years ago, when his friends still came to visit, all they talked about was how lovely his wife had been, how adorable and clever his son was, what a good man he was. Even allowing for the rosy glow of friendship, he did not deserve to lose everything because of two over-indulged brats."
She sighed, then smiled up at Connie. "I know. Really I do. I haven't completely lost my perspective. It is unlikely he will ever be anything other than what he is now. But...it's not fair. And he's alone. I don't blame his friends for not coming any more; it must have been hard to see this every visit.
"Still, it wouldn't be right to just leave him here, with a nice bed and an IV tube--courtesy of the wealthy parents of the two who put him here--but with no human contact. So, I keep talking to him and hope that he somehow knows that somebody cares." She smiled again at her friend. "Talk to him once in a while for me, okay?"
Connie gave her an indulgent smile back and nodded briefly. It was enough, though. Janet yawned, stretched and stood up, pushing the chair toward the wall. "Getting late. I need to make sure Cassie got all her homework done! See you tomorrow night."
Connie laughed and gave her a quick hug. "I'll know where to find you." The nurse headed out to the other patients, with a wave at Janet.
Janet leaned over and straightened the blanket again, even though it did not need it.
"Goodnight, Jack. See you tomorrow, same time, same place. Be careful; I think my husband is beginning to suspect something." She grinned, brushed the silver-gray hair once and, before leaving the room, murmured into his ear, "Where do you go, Jack? Where are you now?"
"So, Daniel, you expecting a gingerbread house?"
"You're leaving a trail of paper breadcrumbs." Jack swept his arm in the direction of the papers that had slipped, one at a time, from the pile Daniel was carrying.
The archaeologist looked behind him and blinked. "Oh. Sorry. I'll get them."
"Negative on that, Daniel. I'll get them, before you drop everything else."
Scooping up the fallen pages, Jack took the remaining papers from Daniel's hands and carefully placed them all into the younger man's backpack. He then tightened a strap and glanced over at Carter and Teal'c, checking them out with a practiced eye. Turning toward the control room, he threw a snappy salute at General Hammond.
"All ready and accounted for, sir."
The general nodded and spoke into the microphone. "SG-1, you have a go."
Shaking out his trademark sunglasses, he looked over at Sam. "So, Carter, was the color scheme on the M.A.L.P. tape right?"
She gave him her usual brilliant smile. "It appears so, sir."
He grinned back. "Bright orange trees. You gotta love this job!"
And putting his sunglasses on, Colonel Jack O'Neill stepped through the rippling blue event horizon for yet another alien world.
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