Disclaimer: Not mine, wish it were.
A/N: I hope everyone had a great Christmas and I'm wishing you all the best in the new year. Thank you all again for sticking with me, I just realized that it's been a year since I started this story and it's been my hardest one to write, but I'm grateful to each and everyone of you that's still reading this. I really haven't had much time to proof this as I would have liked, so if you notice any mistakes, just let me know. :D
Gripping my son's hand tight we walked together through the infirmary doors. The older woman beside Sara stood in surprise as Sara gasped and turned as white as the sheets she was laying on. Charlie wasted no time in covering the distance between him and his mother, running straight to her.
"Mom!" Charlie cried out as he approached her, his joy at seeing her palpable to everyone present. Sara could only stare in incomprehension when he stopped by her bed. She sat up slowly, her eyes wide and filling quickly with tears. She reached out a shaky hand to touch Charlie's face as if unsure that what she was seeing was in fact, real.
When her fingertips brushed his brow, she let out a choking sob, the contact instantly snapping her into reality. She brought both hand to his face, tracing the outline of his features with her fingers.
"Mom? Are you okay?" Charlie asked innocently, unaware of how much she and I had longed to touch him like this again. He lip quivered and she closed her eyes, nodding her head. Charlie grinned and hopped onto her bed and into her arms. She clung to him, uncontrollable sobbing coursing through her.
"Oh my God..." She repeated over and over like a mantra, stroking his hair and rocking our boy back and forth like I had seen her do so many times before he was taken from us.
I stood off to the side, unsure of how to come near, but was propelled forward by the sight of our son in her arms. With tears now rolling freely from my own eyes, I sat behind Charlie and wrapped my arms around both of them, burying my face into the back of Charlie's hair, wetting is I cried freely. Sara stopped and Looked up as I looked up at the same time, our eyes connecting and conveying so much without a word being spoken.
With one hand I reached up and around Charlie, Holding my wife's face in my hands wiping her tears with my thumb until she smiled. It was when I felt her hand over mine that I leaned in to kiss her. She closed her eyes at the brush of my lips against hers and I don't think I could have ever loved her more at that moment. We were together again, our family once torn apart by pain and grief was melding together in the space of those moments, solidly whole once again.
Someone was crying. It was this heart wrenching sound that drew me out of a drowsy state and into a foggy sort of consciousness. As it continued, confusion ran rampant through my mind, I couldn't for the life of me remember falling asleep or even getting in bed, but I could only figure that Dr. Frasier had drugged me just like she threatened to after picking me up from conference room with Mrs. O'Neill.
And that's who it sounded like was crying. I forced my eyes open against their better judgment to stay closed and saw found that my bed was surrounded by a closed curtain. Groggy, but determined to find out what was happening, I pushed the covers off of me and hauled my legs to the edge of the bed, cursing when I found that I was still attached to an IV. Gripping the pole to the IV stand, I used it as leverage to get of bed until tentatively standing on wobbly legs. After I found some stability on my feet, I was determined to find out where the crying was coming from so I reached for the curtain and pulled it open just enough to see.
On the bed across the room was Sara clutching a young boy tightly in her arms, tears streaming freely down her face as her shoulders shook with unrestrained emotion. She rocked him back and forth like an infant, her hands rubbing up and down his back.
Then I saw him.
Colonel O'Neill, the man I had seen die, was walking into view and bending over to hold his wife and the boy, sandwiching the young man between them as he held them both tightly. Though I couldn't see his face I knew he was crying too.
I staggered back in shock. My mind couldn't comprehend what I was seeing and I fell back to the bed, ignoring the pain that struck across my back, feeling dizzy and disoriented. I had seen him take his last breath and yet there he was, only a few feet away. Maybe I was seeing things, maybe the drugs the doctor had me on were affecting my mind and I was hallucinating, that was the only rational explanation for what was happening.
I gripped the side of the bed as my head grew light and dark splotches formed over my vision. The curtain behind of me slid open with a sharp snap.
"Daniel, what are you doing up?" Doctor Frasier asked in an angry, sharp yet hushed voice. She walked around to my side.
"I was...I thought I saw..." I shook my head, stammering for the words. "I think I was seeing things." She snapped on a pen light and shined it into my eyes, the bright light causing me to wince.
"You're going to think I'm crazy... but I thought I saw Colonel O'Neill..." She smiled after I told her that, and I thought that was a very strange reaction coming from someone that I just told I was having hallucinations.
She laid a hand onto my shoulder and pushed me back down to the bed firmly, but with care.
"You weren't seeing things, Daniel."
"Then Colonel O'Neill is..."
"Alive, yes." She finished for me.
"How?" was all I could ask.
"I wish I knew more myself, but I don't know all of the specifics." She patted my shoulder then walked away for a moment. I was trying to sit up again, hoping that I might find someone else, Sam or Catherine perhaps, who knew more, but the doctor was back and pushing me back down once again with one hand, shoving a thermometer into my mouth with her other one before strapping on a blood pressure cuff. She took the readings with a pinched and sour face.
"I'm not liking your vitals right now and you still have a fever." She reached into her coat pocket and produced a syringe, uncapping it and pressing the needle into the IV on my hand.
"What's that?" I asked.
"Just a little bolus of the medicine I gave you earlier. It'll help with the pain let you get some rest."
"Wait...that's not gonna...knock..me...out...agai-" I protested, but was unable to finish before I was pulled back into sleep once more.
Two weeks later:
I tossed another wad of notes into the trash beside my desk in frustration and reached for the coffee mug that sat beside me, taking a swig and frowning at it's bitter coldness. Ten days of non-stop work and I still had nothing to show for my troubles. I was frustrated and getting nowhere with the symbols that I had been given to decipher. They just didn't make any sense, they weren't similar to any writing I had seen before, especially anything that ever came out of Egypt.
Pressing the button on my tape recorder I started over again with my notes, taking a long look again at the cover stones across the room from me.
"Completed search of cuneiform and other pre-dynastic hieroglyphics. No matches whatsoever. I've exhausted all reference material in comparing the symbols on the cartouche against all known writing samples from the period pre- and post-. Still no similarities..." I sighed and rubbed my still sore back. "I'm never gonna get paid." I mumbled to myself, forgetting that the recorder was still on.
Flicking off the recorder, I checked the time, it was nearing 5 am. I looked forlornly at the empty coffeepot in the corner, I was definitely going to need more. I figured a little break to make some more might be best to wake me up a little and re-boot my waning energy reserves.
I was getting the pot when the door opened and Sam walked in.
"Hey, Sam...What are you doing down here so early? Gosh, I haven't seen you in like a week, how's work on that ship going?"
"I wish I could tell you."
"Right, I forgot...civilians aren't supposed to have any access to any new classified research anymore." I groused. Col. Maybourne had returned last week and ordered that only military personnel would be granted access to new information unless it had been deemed by him to be necessary. No one had been very happy with that, especially Catherine who saw it as a personal affront to her authority and autonomy over the program. General West had expressed his displeasure at the situation as well, but Maybourne's report to the president had caused concern with higher-ups that a mole might still exist.
Sam looked over to the desk strewn with papers and books then turned to examine me, still holding the coffee pot, with a narrowed eye.
"Did you even sleep last night? You look exhausted. Dr. Frasier is going to have a conniption fit if she sees you like this"
"There's just so much I still don't know." I avoided the question then turned back to the cover stone, my frustration mounting once again.
"C'mon, Daniel. Give yourself a break. Others have been working on this for years, you've only been at it for a week."
"Ten days." I corrected her. "Nothing's ever been this hard for me before. I just don't get the symbols, they don't make any sense."
Sam sighed and walked over to me, putting a comforting hand on my shoulder. "You'll get it. Just give it some time."
I patted her hand back. "Thanks." I told her only to be interrupted by a loud gurgle in my stomach. She chuckled a little at the sound and patted my stomach. "I think someone's hungry."
I couldn't help but smile. "I guess it's breakfast time. Care to join me?"
"Sure, sounds good."
I put the coffee pot down and headed out with Sam towards the commissary. We both took a tray, she taking a bowl of oatmeal while I grabbed a breakfast burrito and some coffee. We sat down together and chatted amiably while we ate until a figure came up to our table.
"May sit with you?" I looked up, surprised to see Catherine there that early in the morning. Sam too shared in my feelings asking, "Of course, Catherine. You're always welcome."
"Thank-you." She took a chair next to Sam and dipped her tea bag up and down in the hot water of her mug.
"I'm glad I caught the both of you together. I wanted to ask something of you the two of you."
"Sure." I replied. "Anything."
"As you know, has been throwing his weight around. I fear that his intent is to shut our program down."
"Really?" I asked. " Can he do that?"
"Not him personally, but he has the ear of the secretary of defense and the president. His report regarding the matter with Ba'al and Dr. Myers has worried the president, even though I and General West have assured him that there are no more leaks."
"What can we do?" Sam asked.
"Well, as you know, General West had originally slated Col. O'Neill to be his right hand man instead of Col. Maybourne, but Col. O'Neill has refused the post and given his current situation with his family, General West has decided not to persue Col. O'Neill as a viable option and has allowed him to stay in retirement. However, I've spoken with General West and he thinks that id Col. O'Neil was to come into the program as he was originally intended to, that the secretary of Defense would agree with his choice. The only problem would be in convincing Col. O'Neill to work for us."
"Ahh. I get it." I said. "You want us to somehow convince Col. O'Neill to come back to the Air Force..." I sighed. Col. O'Neill had made it very clear after his debriefing that he wanted nothing to do with us or the program after his family had been reuinted. "What makes you think that we can do that? I don't think even likes us."
Catherine took a slow drink of her tea then sighed. "Yes, that may be the case for now. But, he is a military man, he knows that the threat that Ba'al presented us is still out there. He was with the both of you when you were kidnapped you shared a harrowing experience together, that forms a bond that no one can break. He'll listen to the two of you, he won't listen to me or to General West. All you need to do is remind him that there is still one of the men that kidnapped the three of you out there and until he is apprehended, his family is still in danger."
Sam blew a puff of air from her cheeks. It was hard to argue Catherine's point. Things with Maybourne were getting worse and not better. Col. O'Neill would be a more reasonable choice for the position and in my mind I was willing to take the chance of having the door slammed in my face by one irate Colonel if it meant our work could be done more efficiently.
"I'll go. What about you, Sam?" I turned to her and she shrugged indecisively before sighing in defeat and acceptance.
"Alright, I'll go with you."
To be continued...