Title: Coping Mechanism

Author: Cyn Koubeck

Email: original_cyn@comcast.net

Status: Complete

Category: Angst, Hurt/comfort

Pairings: none, although previous relationships implied

Spoilers: Heroes

Season: Set in season 7 between Heroes and Lost City

Sequel/Series Info: none

Content Level: 13+, implied relationships

Content Warnings: funeral events

Summary:

Disclaimer:  Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only, and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the authors. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.

File Size (kb): 88

Archive: jackfic only

Author’s Note: This story is my entry in the 2004 Jack-Fic-A-Thon. Some of the dialogs represented here have been paraphrased from personal and third person accounts of funeral events and the guilt and anguish of the survivors (myself included). Any other similarities are purely coincidental. I also took liberties with some minor characters names, as I don’t know if they’ve been established in canon.

Also – many thanks to katpuck (dwarf #30) for the beta on the first part of this story. All of the errors are mine.

*-*-*-*

When Cassie opened the door and saw the somber faces of Sam, Daniel and Teal’c, she knew this wasn’t going to be good.

“Come in,” she said cautiously. As the three SG1 members entered, there were still no smiles on their faces.

“Sam, what’s wrong? What happened? Where’s Jack? Where’s my mom?” Cassie began to panic.

“Cassie, I’m so sorry,” Sam said as she approached her.

Cassie’s eyes were wide. “Where’s my mom?”

Sam’s eyes started to fill with tears. “Honey, I’m sorry I have to be the one to tell you, but . . . we were off-world . . . there were many injured . . . we were sent on a rescue mission . . . “ The tears fell from her eyes. “Janet was shot by a Jaffa.”

“No!” Cassie cried out. “She can’t be dead!” She paced the floor of Janet’s home. “You’re lying!”

Daniel Jackson and Teal’c had accompanied Sam Carter to see Cassandra Fraiser.  Sam didn’t feel it was appropriate to have just any officers dispatch this news to the teen in their typical, non-emotional detachment.  She would have preferred Pete Shanahan to be there with her, if only to give her moral support, but he was on special assignment. Of course, it didn’t help that Cassie didn’t care for Pete.

“Where’s Jack?” asked Cassie anxiously.

Sam looked at Daniel and Teal’c. This was going to be uncomfortable. That Jack came back and Janet didn’t.  “He’s in the infirmary. He was hit with a staff blast, just like . . . well, he was hit more in the vest than . . .”

“He’s still in recovery,” Daniel interjected.

Grateful for the interruption, Sam put her arm around the girl. “She died in the line of duty. It’s part of what she signed up for. When you’re in the military, you know you can be called at any time to be in a combat situation. Janet knew what she was getting into.”

“But she’s not a fighter!” Cassie said, putting some distance between them.

“She is indeed,” intoned Teal’c. “Janet is a formidable warrior.  I am proud to have served with her.”

“It’s just not fair!” Cassandra wrapped her arms around her the same way she’d seen Daniel do that, and sat in a chair and sulked.

*-*-*-*

The hit from the staff weapon was a surprise.  A split second in which Jack knew he was going to die.

He instantly felt the razor edge of pain current through his chest and ignite his brain. His eyes clamped shut. His knees buckled. Reeling, his teeth bit into his bottom lip. He fought back a chest-deep scream. Half-conscious, O’Neill slumped to the ground and felt the thunderous pounding of his heart.       

Pain was felt in every nerve-ending he had, short-circuiting his brain which shut down, unable to handle the overtaxing agony.

*-*-*-*

Colonel Jack O’Neill was unaware of the shouting, of the medic trying frenetically to rip the fabric to stop the slow leak of blood, of the sounds of the continuing battle being fought around him. He did not see Carter’s concerned expression or Teal’c’s outwardly calm face belying his worry.

Unconscious, he never knew he made it back to the SGC, that there were other casualties or that a different doctor was tending to his wounds.

*-*-*-*

Jack woke up slowly. He hadn’t expected to survive that staff blast. He recognized that he was in the infirmary, and was sure that the unceasing efforts of Dr. Fraiser was why he was still around.


He heard muffled crying, and turned toward the sound. He saw Daniel there, trying with great difficulty to keep a brave face, but even with his arms wrapped around him, the tears still fell freely down his cheeks.

Jack could only muster a whisper. “Daniel.”


Daniel looked over him making no effort to dry his eyes. "Jack."

"Hey," Jack managed to speak a little louder.  “Thanks.  I’m OK. Gonna feel this one for a while.”

Not seeing Daniel smile, he knew that someone didn’t make it back from that Goa’uld attack. Daniel didn’t normally cry for anyone but his team, so . . .

“Who?” he finally asked.

Daniel put his head down, and whispered, “Janet.”

 
Jack’s own eyes filled with tears and he closed his them tightly unsuccessfully holding them back.

When he opened his eyes and saw Daniel still trembling in the chair, he reached out his hand to Daniel, who took it and returned the warmth. It was a silent gesture of comfort that the two of them gave each other, each having lost a friend.


Jack knew there was something more troubling his friend. "Daniel?"

His friend knew that Jack needed more information. He wasn’t sure how much Jack had been told. "Janet . . . died . . . right next to me. There was nothing I could do to save her. There was nothing anyone could do to save her. That staff blast took her immediately. I feel responsible.”

“But the vest . . .”

“She was hit just above the vest. It didn’t help her one bit.”

"I’m sure she doesn’t blame you.”


"How can you be so sure?"

"Because you were doing what you do best . . . help others.”

Jack could always comfort him when he needed it most, and now, with their hands still representing that comfort, Daniel began to feel a little less guilty, even though the tears still streamed down his face.


And Jack closed his eyes and let his own tears fall.

*-*-*-*

Sam had finally gotten Cassie to eat something. She had tried to find the one thing Cassie was most likely hungry for, and made enough for the four of them.  Only because Daniel and Teal’c expressed a liking for the dish, did Cassie decide that having supper with her extended family was better than starving.

Although at the moment, she thought she’d never eat again. Having Janet as her mom was the best thing to happen to her on this world. She made an effort to eat the dinner Sam prepared, and join in the conversation. Except for the fact that Janet wasn’t there, it was like most nights around the table.

*-*-*-*

“In the Name of God, the merciful Father, we commit the body of Janet to the peace of the grave.

“From dust you came, to dust you shall return. Jesus Christ, our Saviour, shall raise you up on the last day

“Lord God, our Father in heaven, Lord God, the Son, and Saviour of the world, Lord God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us , at the moment of death, and on the last day, save us, merciful and gracious Lord God.

“We are gathered here today in this service to pay our respects to Janet Fraiser. Today for the comfort and hope we need let us turn our thoughts to the love of God. He cares for us even when we do not deserve to be cared for. For in the midst of such sorrow we must lean upon God. We must remember that what sorrow is to us, is great reward for Janet. For Janet has graduated from this life with its troubles and pains to a better life eternal with her Lord and God.

“At such a time as this we need to trust in the Lord God. He is a God of sympathy and understanding. He knows are hurts and our loneliness. He knows how we feel. The Bible tells us that He knows our sorrows and records our tears. If He sees the tears, He knows the reason those tears fall from our eyes. We are told that all our thoughts, ways, and words are known to Him. And that a book of remembrance is written before Him for those that fear the Lord and think upon His name.

“The words that seem the most appropriate today are those of the great Apostle Paul, who said as he came to the end of his life, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Paul left this world a better place than he found it. He had been faithful to his God and now prepared to go for his reward.

“These words also describe Janet's life. Especially the part about keeping the faith. Janet also left this world a better place than she found it.”

"Amen," the congregation responded. Cassie sat in the first pew of the church along with SG1. She just stared at the coffin, certain that this was just a bad dream, a nightmare of the worst kind, and she would wake up. She had to wake up. She just didn’t know how. She shut her eyes, hoping that when she opened them again, she would wake up and this would all be gone.

“Cassie, are you alright?” Daniel whispered. She nodded, eyes still shut from the vision happening before her.

The priest finished the service, and Daniel, Teal’c, General Hammond, Siler, and Cassie’s two uncles, Timothy and Simon, moved toward the casket.

Jack’s right had steadied Cassie as she shakily stood up. Sam accompanied them as the followed Janet’s casket and waited while it was carefully loaded in the hearse.

Sam and Jack joined Cassie in the hearse for the immediate family members for the drive to the cemetery. She sat between the two officers, wondering when they would become married and let her be the adopted daughter, even though she was old enough to be on her own. It’s not that she hadn’t wanted to be Janet’s daughter, it’s just that she liked Jack and Sam together. In her opinion, they’d make great parents.

Even though Janet went through all the necessary arrangements to make the adoption official, there was this other ‘formality’ that Cassie didn’t understand until now.

The term ‘godparents’ had frightened her a bit. Considering what she knew of the Goa’uld’s and their inclination to insist that they were your gods, she wasn’t sure she liked the idea of having godparents. But as Janet explained it, godparents were there at your baptism. This chosen promised to make sure that you were taken care of spiritually and emotionally until you became of age.

Normally, the baptism took place when the child was a baby, but in Cassie’s case, it happened soon after the adoption. Godparents are to serve as proxies for the parents should they (the parents) be unable to provide for the religious training of the child. It is the godparents’ responsibility to insure the child’s religious growth after the baptism.

That was all well and good, but Janet had two brothers. Janet’s own family. Why weren’t one of them chosen to be a godparent? Cassie remembered Janet’s explanation – “Well, first off they don’t have security clearance, honey. It’s got nothing to do with the fact that I can’t choose between them. Both are equally qualified to care for you.”

And that’s why Janet chose Sam and Jack.  They both had security clearance, and they certainly treated her like family. With Daniel and Teal’c being her adopted uncles, and General Hammond stepping in as a grandparent, she couldn’t have asked for a better family.

While she missed her real family on Hanka, she felt just as loved with her new one. However, Sam was seeing Pete Shanahan, and Cassie didn’t like him. She didn’t trust him. And she couldn’t figure out how Pete got the security clearance that Janet’s own brothers couldn’t have. Pete seemed to know about the some SGC activities, so why couldn’t Timothy and Simon? What did Pete do that Janet’s brothers didn’t?

The thought bothered Cassie as she sat between the two officers. How was she supposed to confide in Sam now?

They arrived at the cemetery, and the processional cars wove a slow line to Janet’s final resting place. Jack helped Cassie out of the car and she gratefully took his arm as he led her to the gravesite. They watched the undertakers carefully remove the casket and walk unhurriedly to the grave, where they slowly positioned the coffin over the hole dug in the ground.

Daniel was the last one to leave the casket. He put his hand where Janet’s head would be, bent over to whisper something, then kissed it, his eyes threatening to spill the tears that were forming.

Cassie caught Daniel’s eye and held out her hand to him. He took his place on Cassie’s left, putting his arm around her. Still, with the two men flanking her, holding her and offering silent support, she couldn’t stop moving restlessly.

The melancholy sound of “Taps” being played by a bugler added a tremor to her body. She was sure it would forever be burned in her memory. She hoped she never heard that song again.

The flag on the coffin was removed and folded with all the military precision required for such an act. An airman handed the flag to Cassie, who clutched it tightly. She felt the texture of the fabric, smelled its newness, and realized that she really wasn’t dreaming. She was in the middle of a nightmare, and it was real.

Daniel motioned Cassie to take the offered small shovel. At her questioned look, he bent over and scooped up some of the dirt that was dug for the grave.

“You need to pour this on top of the casket,” he explained. “It’s a custom that many cultures practice here on earth. On Abydos as well.”

“You did this for Sha’re?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Daniel smiled sadly. “It’s an acceptance that the person has lived their live fully and is now ready to see the rewards . . . of an afterlife, if you will.”

Cassie stared at the shovel of dirt. “Did we do this for my . . . parents?”

Daniel nodded. “With a different type of ceremony, but yes.”

She looked at him. “But the whole reason someone is put into this box . . .”

“ . . . is to allow time to turn the body back into dust. It’s part of our belief that we were all made from dust, and now in death, we must return to dust.”

Cassie stared at the dirt again. “Oh.” She stepped forward slowly and sprinkled the dirt on the casket. Daniel had picked a rose from the casket arrangement and put it on top of the casket.

“Goodbye, Janet.”

“I love you, mom.”

She trembled again, and knowing it would not help Cassie to see the casket being lowered into the ground, Jack took her hand and led her toward the processional cars.

*-*-*-*

Cassie barely remembered coming back to the house. Although her mom was gone, at least she still had family. Technically, all of those who cared for her at the SGC were strangers; people who came forward to provide love and support to her, a lone survivor from off-world.

She always knew they’d be there for her, but now it felt strange. She went to the refrigerator to get something to drink.

Sounds from the other room interrupted her thoughts.

“Where’s Cassie, and how’s she doing?” asked O’Neill.

“She’s a tough kid, sir. She should be fine,” replied Carter. “She’s in the kitchen.”

Cassie’s eyes narrowed in anger. What did Sam mean by that? Is that what it meant to be family? She looked over at the bar, wanting to add something to her soda, the way she saw her mom add a little something to her drink on occasion, but it was surrounded by too many people. People she didn’t even know, making comments about Janet, the food, and the fact that Cassie was without a mother. All anyone said to her was that they were sorry. Sorry doesn’t make things better. Sorry doesn’t bring back the dead. At least so far, she hadn’t seen that happen.

Maybe saying you were sorry was what the people here said to keep away the death that had swept through this house, so it wouldn’t touch their lives as well. Maybe it was just one of those strange earth customs or superstitions that she didn’t understand.

What Cassie didn’t see was the loss in Sam’s eyes. All she heard was the voice that sounded too much like a woman in command. O’Neill knew that Sam was having a hard time coping with the loss, and was just giving Cassie some space to deal with the loss in her own way.

But Cassie didn’t know that.

She only knew what she heard.

She picked up her plain soda, and stalked outside to be alone.

Daniel discreetly followed her out, but he sat on a chair on the far end of the deck. Cassie thought he was checking up on her, but he was looking at an obscure point in the distance. And looking very sad.

She joined him on that end of the deck. “Daniel, what happened to my mom?”

“You already know,” he said, not looking at her.

“I understand you were with her . . . when it happened.”

“Yes. I was.” He still hadn’t looked at her.

“And . . . ?” she prompted.

Daniel finally turned around to look at her. His face showed the signs of worry and fatigue that she hadn’t noticed at the gravesite. And guilt. “This really isn’t a good time to . . . “

She reached out her hand to touch his. “Please, Daniel. There’s got to be more to the story than my mom getting shot by a Jaffa.” Her earnest eyes expressed to Daniel that she wouldn’t rest until she found out the truth.

Daniel debated telling her; wondering if it wouldn’t make things worse for the teen. And wondering even further if Cassie would blame him, as he did himself, for her death.

He took off his glasses, rubbed his eyes, and sighed. As he returned the glasses to their rightful place, Cassie thought he looked worse than before.


”We were off-world. It was supposed to be a rescue mission. There was a team that was under attack by the Jaffa. Apparently, the number of Jaffa was underestimated. Janet and I found Airman Wells and were trying to get him stable enough to travel through the gate, but our access was cut off.”

He paused to regain his composure, gave small sad smile as he said, “She was absolutely amazing. With all the fighting going on around us, she was solely focused on Wells. Simon was sure he was going to die, but Janet made him believe that he would lie and be able to see his child born.”

Another sigh. “Wells was too shocked to believe her, and wanted me to record a final message o his wife. I was so focused on keeping Wells talking, I didn’t see the Jaffa come up over the ridge . . . and fire his staff weapon at her.”

He took a second to wipe the tears streaming down his face. “Someone got the Jaffa, but it was after . . . he fired.”

Cassie’s grip on his hand tightened. Daniel continued, “There wasn’t anything I could do to save her. Even before I’d called for a medic, it was too late.”

Cassie just rubbed his hand and nodded.

*-*-*-*

Cassie turned the cordless phone off angrily. Some people seemed to think that just because she was a teenager, she was oblivious to things of a more adult nature. Didn’t this lawyer have a clue about people in the military? Janet said that military personnel are always told to have their affairs in order when they have to go into a combat situation. Not that Janet went off-world much. But still, it was a necessary precaution. Just in case.

Like now. Janet had explained about last will and testaments. She showed her where all the papers were to the house and car, where all the bills were along with a payment schedule, and where all the savings, checking account and safe deposit box were. She explained that she was giving Cassie ‘power of attorney’ – which meant, that in case of emergency, Cassie would have access to Janet’s personal accounts to continue the house and car payments, the utilities, and have access to funds for food and other necessities.

Cassie knew that her school friends didn’t have a clue about their own parents’ wills or personal accounts. One friend brought it up with her own mother, and was told it was none of her business. So while she understood what the lawyer was trying to do, she was irked that he assumed she was clueless. Then again, maybe the lawyer didn’t have many military clients.

“Who was on the phone?” asked Sam.

“It was for me and it was personal,” Cassie tossed back angrily.

“I wasn’t being nosy, just curious,” Sam said gently.

Cassie sighed heavily and left the room. Sam sat in the kitchen chair, wondering what had gotten the girl so upset. Sam had been staying at the house, trying to help Cassie, but instead, she wasn’t making any difference.

*-*-*-*

The team was on temporary leave from their off-world duties. Jack was still on the mend from his injuries sustained during their last mission. He’d dealt with grief and loss before, both in the line of duty and at home. And especially right now, on base. He knew that Teal’c could focus his attention as assisting with the Goa’uld translations from SG7. It was doing Teal’c a world of good having his entire attention focused on such an intense and important project. Sam’s attention was focused on trying to get Cassie’s life back in order. The two of them had been close to Janet, and with Sam knowing Janet’s routine, it would help to get Cassie back into the swing of things.

However, Daniel was a different problem. He saw Daniel at the wake, and he seemed to be helping Cassie, but Jack was sure that Daniel was having flashbacks of the day Janet died as well as the scenario played out by the Gamekeeper. Daniel had lost many of the people he loved, and knowing Daniel as he did, Jack was certain that this would cause his very emotional, passionate friend a difficult journey back to normalcy.

Jack was already desensitizing himself to the pain of going to the infirmary and not seeing Janet. He missed her more than he cared to admit. He also knew that whatever they had together would have been a detriment to both their careers; however, in hindsight, death is the worse detriment of all. He pondered on their mutual choice to keep their prior relationship a secret and all their professional dealings just that, professional. But even on-base, in their respective professional roles, they still kept their friendship.

Jack found Daniel getting some coffee in the mess hall. Sure enough, Daniel looked like he pulled a four-day all-nighter.

He looked at Daniel carefully. That man cared for others in an extreme way. He took everything that happened to those he loved and cared for personally. And he knew that Daniel had to become at peace with Janet’s death if he was to continue to help Cassie, and be fit for duty.

Those two certainly had a lot in common, Jack thought. Both of them lost parents in a tragedy. When Jack first met Daniel, he shrugged him off as a geeky scientist, but after getting to know him better, most of what Daniel was today was because of the death of his parents. Jack mused that he wouldn’t want Cassie to end up a geeky scientist like Daniel. Jack wanted Cassie to be the happy young girl that she was, and not get mired into feeling resentful of Janet’s choice for a career.

Besides, Cassie had all of SG1 as her family. She just needed to believe she wasn’t alone.

As he looked at Daniel, he saw the man’s hand tremble. This was so not good.

Jack snagged two pieces of apple pie, got a cup of coffee for himself and joined Daniel at the table in the back of the mess hall.

Jack sat down without ceremony, pushed a piece of pie in front of Daniel and said, “Have some pie with that coffee.”

“No, thanks.” Daniel pushed the pie back.

“You should eat something.” The pie went back to Daniel.

“Not hungry.” Pie to Jack.

“You’re not helping me here.” Pie to Daniel.

“Helping you?” Daniel’s hand stayed on the pie plate.

“I want to talk.”

“I don’t.” The pie was pushed back to Jack.

“Well, I do.” The pie returned back to Daniel, but Jack’s hand stayed on the plate.

Daniel sighed. He was just too tired to fight Jack. It wasn’t that he didn’t know the reason, either.

“Jack, I just need some time. I was just too hard to . . .”

“Daniel, I know, “ he interrupted. “But I need you to be there for Cassie. After all, Janet was the girl’s mother.”

Daniel’s eyes lowered to focus on the dark liquid in the cup. “I know. It’s just that it’s bringing all the memories I have about my own parents’ death, about Sha’re, about . . .”

“Daniel, I KNOW.”  Daniel’s eyes met Jack’s. “It’s hard on all of us. It’s bringing Charlie’s death back for me, too. I’m reliving that again.”

Daniel’s head nodded. “I guess that’s the hard part – trying to stop all the past memories.”

“And that’s why I need to you help me with Cassie.”

Daniel blinked at the tears threatening to form again.

“Remember, she’s lost everyone she knew from Hanka and now she’s lost Janet.” Jack leaned closer. “We need to be there for Cassie. All of us.”

Daniel nodded again. Jack took his fork and started eating his pie. A second later, Daniel started on his.

*-*-*-*

Sam was at a loss. Cassie was being more antagonistic as the days went on. And Sam noticed that the girl kept looking outside, as if she was expecting her mother to come home any minute.

To get away from the house, Cassie had begun to take long bike rides. Sam worried about how late she got back, but asking Cassie about it just brought more angry responses.

Well, Sam thought, not today. There was apparently something else bothering her and Sam was determined to find out what. Even if that meant some serious yelling and screaming. At least the air would be cleared.

Cassie needed to understand that Sam was hurting too. With the exception of a brief hug in the infirmary with the colonel, Sam had not been able to ease her grief.

Today, she would find out what was making Cassie so angry. Sam found her in the living room, staring outside.

It’s now or never. “Cassie, can we talk?”  Sam asked tentatively.

“I have nothing to say.”

“Will you at least listen?”

“Whatever.”

Cassie’s tone spoke volumes. She was angry – at Sam. OK, let’s see . . . how to start . . .

“Cassie, I’m so sorry,” she began. “I was trying to secure the gate with Teal’c and the colonel. We were trying to bring everyone home and safe.”

The teen remained staring out the window, arms crossed in front of her. Sam certainly hoped that Cassie was listening.

“I was too far away from Janet at the time, but when the colonel was hit and I heard Daniel screaming for a medic . . . I knew we had to do something. And fast.” Tears were already spilling across Sam’s face. “There was nothing I could have done. When I got there, she was already dead.”

Cassie’s eyes narrowed and she nodded her head slowly. “Yeah, I got that already.” She turned to look at Sam, anger flushed across her face. “How come you didn’t ask me how I was doing?”

“What?” Sam looked at her in surprise.

“You’ve never asked me how I was doing. ‘I’m a tough kid, and I should be fine.’ What the hell does that mean?”

Cassie’s words and tone cut through Sam like a knife.

“I heard you tell Jack that at the wake. You ASSUMED  - you never ASKED.”

Sam shut her eyes and bowed her head. So this was why Cassie was so angry – a small remark said to mask her own grief.

“I was still lost in my own pain. I felt responsible for Janet’s death. I still do.” Sam wiped her tears away. “I keep going over in my mind what I could have done differently. It wasn’t that I didn’t care how you felt – I was too wrapped up in how I felt.”

Sam saw Cassie’s eyes soften and took the chance to approach her. “Of course, I care how you feel, how you’re coping. I made an assumption and I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I didn’t ask you. That’s not what being family is all about.”

Cassie met Sam and gave her a hug. “I’m sorry, too. I keep forgetting that I’m not the only one who lost someone.”

Sam returned the hug, grateful that Cassie was over her anger. But she didn’t notice that Cassie wasn’t crying.

*-*-*-*

Sam and Cassie returned from the lawyer’s office. Daniel was already there, sitting on the porch steps.

“Hey, Daniel,” said Sam.

“Sam. Hi, Cassie.”

The girl gave him a hug. Sam noticed how tired he looked, but his spirits seemed to be up. And Cassie appeared to be more relaxed now that Daniel was here. She took a chance.

“Daniel, would you mind staying here for a little while? I need to go to the base.” She had a feeling that the two of them needed to be together.

“Sure, I don’t mind.”

“Thanks,” Sam said as she got in the car.

Daniel gave Cassie another hug. “So, how are you?”

The tone in his voice declared that it wasn’t idle chatter, but time for a real heart-to-heart talk.

“I’m OK, I guess. Hanging in there, and all that.”

They walked into the house. Daniel said, “You know, you and I have a lot in common . . .”

*-*-*-*

“Daniel, where the hell have you been?”  Sam said angrily.

“Sam? What’s wrong?”

“Do you know where Cassie is?”

“No. What do mean do I know where Cassie is? Isn’t she at home?”

“She’s not here.”

“Well, it’s still pretty early in the day.  Why are you so worried?”

There was a pause on the other end.

“Get here as fast as you can. I’m calling Colonel O’Neill.”

“Sam . . .”

“Cassie’s not here, and the house has been trashed. I think she’s is trouble. Just hurry, OK?” 

*-*-*-*

Daniel arrived seconds before Jack and Teal’c. Sam was pacing on the porch.  

“Carter?”

She opened the door slowly. “Take a look at this place. The whole house is trashed.”

Janet’s house looked like a small tornado had run through the inside. Every drawer was opened and their contents strewn about the room. The kitchen wasn’t in any better shape, with all the utensils either on the floor or askew in the drawers, making them unable to close. Dishes were shoved aside, and some glassware was broken.

The other rooms were no better off. Janet’s room looked especially disheveled. Her clothes were tossed about the room with abandon, the closet had nothing hung in it anymore, its contents joining the other apparel on the floor. Janet’s jewelry box had all of its contents dumped out and strewn on the dresser, interspersed with the perfumes and makeup kept there. And there was blood on the bedsheets.

Then Sam took them to Cassie’s room. All of Cassie’s things were strewn about the room and there was blood on the door, and a broken bourbon bottle on the floor.

“What the hell happened here?”  Jack muttered angrily.

“The last thing I saw was Daniel and Cassie going into the house, “ said Sam. “Why didn’t you stay with her?”  Subconsciously, she was accusing him without having all the facts.  “What did you say to upset her?”

Daniel was aghast. “I didn’t say anything to upset her. I just told her that we had a few things in common, and we talked about our mutual losses.”

Dammit, Daniel!  Did you think that wouldn’t have any effect on her?”  Sam shouted hysterically.

Before Sam could berate Daniel further, Teal’c said calmly, “MajorCarter, would it not be prudent to check this blood to see if it is indeed Cassie’s?”

Jack nodded, “What do you think is going on here, Teal’c?”

MajorCarter, can you tell if anything is missing?”

She looked at him with fear. “Do you think that there was a kidnapper here? And knowing that there was a recent death in the family try to find something of value?”

“And perhaps Cassie caught them in the act, and she was taken hostage,” said Teal’c.

“Well, Janet’s ex isn’t known for his loving attention, “ said Sam. “Janet said that Nigel would frequently come home drunk and yell and scream at her.”

Jack nodded. “Then that’s the good news about her not being married to him anymore.”

“Sir, you don’t think . . . ?” Sam shuddered at the thought.

*-*-*-*

The last time Jack had seen Nigel was at Malarkey’s –

A tall, dark and handsome man walked over to Janet and sat down. “Didn’t I see that guy at your place the other night?” he asked, referring to the silver-haired man playing pool.

“What’s it to you?”

Nigel Fraiser leaned forward in his chair, assessing the woman in front of him. “You know, it’s still not too late for us.” He stroked her hand seductively.

“Oh, it is too late, for you.” She sent the most disapproving look she could muster, which wasn’t hard to do considering . . .

“You were always so good in bed. Or maybe he’s the one getting lucky tonight.” He looked at the man again. “Of course, he’s probably really something, maybe I could get in on . . .”

“He’s a friend who almost lost a teammate. So get your head out of your ass for once.”

“You used to like it when it was in the gutter, once upon a time.”

"I was young and stupid, and had very bad taste," she shot back.

He checked his anger. He wasn’t getting anywhere with the nice approach. “Look, I just came by to tell you I want my mother’s heirloom necklace returned.”

“Why did you give it to me in the first place? If it was so damn precious, why didn’t you keep it in the bank?”

He snorted. “I loved you. It looked beautiful against your skin.” He moved in closer. “Especially when it was the only thing you were wearing.”

He glanced over and saw the silver-haired man at the pool tables give Janet an assessing look. The man seemed to wonder if he needed to step in.

“I was really hoping to get you drunk, and have some fun. But I’ll just have to wait for another time.”

“Nigel, get the hell away from me.”

“Janet.” O’Neill had left the pool table. Indicating the man, he asked, “Is there a problem here?”

“I was just leaving.” Nigel stood up. “Just don’t know what she sees in you.” As he left the table, he looked at Janet, “And don’t forget about that necklace.”

“Who in the hell was that?” asked Jack.

“My ex. Would you mind taking me home?”

*-*-*-*

“Sir, I’ve called the lab techs. They’re bringing all the equipment needed to run a forensics test as well as a blood test,” Carter said.

“Did you call the police?” asked Jack.

Sam swallowed hard. “I called for Pete, but he’s on a special assignment. Considering that Cassie’s and alien . . .”

“OK, Carter. Good thinking.” Jack’s mind was already assessing his next tactic. “If you find out who’s blood that is, try to locate this person and send the MP’s out to apprehend him. Or her.”

“Sir, Cassie has been riding her bike quite a bit.”

“Teal’c, check the garage. See if Cassie’s bike is there.” To Carter: “Do you know where she goes?”

“No, sir, not really,” Sam said guiltily, “but it’s not that I haven’t asked.”

“Cassie’s bike is not here, O’Neill,” said Teal’c.

Jack sighed. “OK. Teal’c, stay here with Carter and help her out. Daniel and I will try to find Cassie. Report in every half hour. Cassie may not know what’s happened here, and may return.”

“Perhaps the person responsible for all of this will return as well,” said Teal’c.

“Yes, that could be a possibility. Take whatever steps are necessary,” Jack told Teal’c pointedly.

“Understood.”

“Yes, sir,” Sam replied. Now she felt as if she was guilty of letting Cassie slip through her fingers. She took on the responsibility of caring for Cassie in Janet’s place, and now it looked like she failed them both.

But Sam wasn’t going to fall into a trap of self-pity right now. She would do everything she could to resolve this quickly. She just prayed that Cassie would come home safe.

*-*-*-*-*

Daniel got in Jack’s truck and they started off. It was getting late in the day and Jack knew that finding Cassie was his first priority.

“Jack, I know that Cassie likes to sit in a quiet place in the woods.”

“Daniel, there are lots of quiet places in the woods. Can you be more specific?”

Daniel scrunched his eyes in thought. “Well, I do know of one place she goes fairly frequently.”

*-*-*-*-*

Cassie fingered the heirloom necklace. Her mom said it was her favorite piece of jewelry, indicating that it was a gift and reminded her of happier times. Cassie had no idea who gave it to her, but was glad Janet presented it to Cassie on her last birthday.

She looked carefully at the off-white silhouette of a lady. The figure seemed to be carved on a stone-like surface, but it wasn’t stone. What did Janet call this? Oh yes, a cameo. The background looked like it was highly polished black stone, but Janet told her it was made from black coral, a very rare object on earth and very priceless. The figurine of the lady was carved from ivory, another very precious material. Janet explained how ivory was obtained and why it was illegal to use this anymore. Cassie didn’t see the logic in killing an animal just for this ivory, and not using the rest of the animal to feed the hungry of the country. Of course, the animals with the ivory were becoming extinct, so not only did that make the ivory more valuable, it made the animals more in danger.

Cassie pondered this while she thought about her mom.

*-*-*-*-*

Sam and the labs techs did a thorough sweep of the house. The place was checked for fingerprints, the blood on the floor analyzed. It confirmed Sam’s worst fears – Janet’s ex-husband, Nigel, had broken into the house.

Sam called O’Neill on the speakerphone. “Sir, we confirmed the identity of the intruder. It’s Nigel Fraiser.”

Oh, for cryin’ out loud. “Carter, do you recall ever seeing a necklace – looks like a cameo – in Janet’s possession?”

She thought a moment. “Yes, sir. In fact, I saw Cassie wearing it today. Oh my God . . .”

This day was just getting better and better. “Have you been able to tell if anything else was missing?”

Teal’c provided the answer. “Although many items have been disarranged in the house, only the cabinet containing alcoholic beverages seems to be the most disturbed.”

“How so, Teal’c?”

“It would appear that several more bottles are missing, including those found in the two bedrooms.”

“Carter, do you think Cassie would take any?”

“Sir, I’m not sure,” she said uncertainly. “I just don’t think Cassie would drink herself to death.”

An honest answer, but one he didn’t need to hear. Now he had to worry if Cassie was hiding somewhere in the forest with enough liquor to do some serious damage.

“Call the MP’s in; see if they can start tracking down Nigel Fraiser.”


”Yes, sir.”

*-*-*-*-*

Cassie meditated on the significance of the necklace. It had been made with two very rare and priceless objects, and the object itself was a priceless heirloom. Janet had told her that a long time ago, people hunted elephants for the ivory in their tusks before it became illegal to do so. She’s seen the large creatures at the zoo. Seeing how little space they had to roam in concerned her. Janet made it clear that sometimes the best way to preserve a species was to keep it in a zoo. Until the threat of these animals’ extinction could be overcome, this was the best that humans could do.

When she’d asked about the coral, Janet described the difficulties the divers had to obtain it. It was highly sought for use in jewelry and the divers took extraordinary risks to gather the ‘trees’ of black coral.

It wasn’t easy to find and when they did find any, it was at very deep sections of the ocean. Many times divers would come up empty, but most of the time, they came up dead. The equipment necessary to dive those depths just wasn’t available to those native divers at the time.

As Janet put the necklace around Cassie’s neck, she told the teen that she was more precious to her than this object; that she would sell everything she owned because the most precious person in her life was Cassie.

*-*-*-*-*

Nigel Fraiser hadn’t gotten very far. For all the drinking he did at Janet’s, he continued to add more liquor as he drove away from the house. The heirloom necklace had to be somewhere, and he was determined to get it back. However, he failed to complete the turn on the mountain road.

The MP’s found the burning car shortly after it crashed.

*-*-*-*-*

Daniel led Jack to the place that Cassie was most likely to be sitting. Sure enough, they’d found her looking at the necklace.

Jack took the lead. “Cassie? Need a ride home?”

She jumped in surprise. “How did you find me?”

“My fault,” Daniel sheepishly admitted.

“I don’t want to go back,” she said defiantly.

“Why not? We’re all worried about you,” Jack said soothingly. “We all love you.”

Cassie shook her head. “No. You can’t love me. I won’t let you.”

“Cassie, you can’t stop any of us from loving you,” Jack said. “We . . . I’ve loved you since I first met you.”

She shook her head. “You don’t understand. Everyone who loves me dies. Everyone I’ve ever loved dies.” Her voice trembled. “I don’t want you to die.”

Jack approached her slowly. “Cassie, there are worse things in this world than never loving anyone.” He reached his arms out. “Being alone is infinitely worse. And you have me, and Daniel, and all of us at the SGC. All of us care about you as part of our family. I feel you are part of my family.”

Cassie stepped closer to Jack and put her arms around him. “I just don’t want you to leave me.”

“That will never happen,” said Jack. “I love you.” He tightened his hug.

Suddenly, she was fighting for breath as her tears fell. Lots of them. The tears fell in a torrent, as they can only do when release is denied.

Jack continued to hug and rock her slowly. “It’s OK, Cassie. Let it go. Let them all go.”

And she cried, fully, completely, accepting now the death of her mother.

And Jack held her.

*-*-*-*-*

Airman Wells called Daniel to let him know his wife was home with their new baby. Daniel asked if he could bring Cassie.

Simon opened the door to the two of them. Cassie was holding a large brown teddy bear.

He took them over to see his wife, who was holding a baby girl.

“She’s very pretty,” said Cassie. “What’s her name?”

Simon made a quick glance and Daniel before saying, “We named her Janet.”

Cassie looked at the airman in surprise. He said, “It was because of your mother that I’m here to see my child. We thought it was an appropriate tribute to Janet’s bravery in saving my life.”

Cassie knelt down by the couch where Mrs. Wells was holding little Janet.

Cassie gently stroked her tiny hand. “Do you have any idea how special you are?”

*-*-*-*-*

The end

Assignment:
Time Frame: Set in Season 7 between Heroes & Lost City.
Pairings: None specified.
Cassandra's house has been trashed and she's gone missing. Did she lose it and then run away in reaction to Janet's death or is something far more sinister taking place? To what lengths will Jack & the gang go to find her and bring her back?
Restriction(s): No NID/former NID/newly-formed NID-types kidnapping.