SG-1 Fic: The Long Road Home Title: The Long Road Home Rating: PG-13 Genre: Drama, angst Pairings: Sam/Daniel Spoilers: None Summary: Sam and Daniel are stranded on a planet, which leads them to building a life together in their new home. Author's Notes: This story was written for the sd_ficathon on LiveJournal. It's very angsty and kind of sad, so you may need some tissues, but it does have a happy ending. Special thanks go out to Diane who went out of her way to do a super fast beta for me on this story. Words cannot describe how much I appreciate her!!
The Long Road Home Part 1
She was dying. The fever that raged within her was like an inferno, causing her to sweat even as she shivered under the mound of blankets. She tried to swallow, but very little moisture leaked down her parched and raw throat, and she whimpered when the swollen muscles in her throat sent out waves of pain.
“Shhhh,” said a soft voice, as a cool rag was placed on her forehead. She relished in the temporary relief, as she lay there with her eyes closed, hardly able to even move, while she savored the cool air that caressed the wetness left behind on her skin. The rag was gently moving across her forehead, her cheeks and her throat, up and down, ceasing only to be dunked and wrung out in the bowl of water by her bed, then continuing in an ever moving circle.
“You’re going to get well very soon,” the voice of her mother continued, the soothing tones helping her to relax. “I promise. You just need to hang on, okay?”
She didn’t respond. She was too weak to even nod her head, but more importantly, she was too afraid that movement would bring on the cough, something she dreaded with all her might. The pain she experienced whenever she coughed was the worse. Nothing equaled the agony of her chest and throat muscles contracting as her lungs forced out the mucus and phlegm that lingered there.
She lay quietly, too miserable to converse with anybody, while silently wishing she could fight this illness. Her mother continued to wipe her down, alternately soothing her feverous skin and begging her to hold on, leaving her to wonder when her father would get back. He had gone off to find the healer, and she thought he should have returned by now, although she really couldn’t say how long he had been gone. She was just so tired of the pain. If only they would stop the pain.
“It won’t be long baby, I promise. Please, please just stay with me, okay? Please?”
Her mother had finally given into her tears. She wanted to comfort her, but she was still too afraid. She lay there with her eyes closed, listening to her mother’s tears, and realized that she must be dying, just like the others. Her chest heaved suddenly as she coughed, tears streaming down her face as she struggled to suppress it, then finally gave into it when she found that she couldn’t stop. Pain and agony raced through her chest and throat, but she rode it out, too weary to fight it. Her mother’s soft touch smoothed over her forehead, talking to her through the ordeal, helping her to lie back down when it was finally over. But she continued to cry as she lay on her back, the pain still throbbing everywhere, while her mother pushed her over and got into the bed with her, gathering her in her arms to hold her close.
She was dying and she wondered how to tell her mother that she was ready for it.
Her daughter was dying. Samantha Carter knew this, even as her heart sent out pleas of denial. As much as she had tried to shelter her child from the plague that had swept through the village, it still found her and moved in for the kill. Nothing she did helped keep her family safe, and now she was going to pay the ultimate sacrifice.
She lay on the bed, holding her daughter close; wondering for the thousandth time what was keeping Daniel. He had gone off to find one of the healers, but with so many people needing their expertise, she wasn’t sure if Daniel would be successful. Still, if he could at least bring back some of the remedies the healers were using, maybe she could keep her daughter alive long enough for her to beat this thing. She had to. Sam couldn’t imagine life without her bright, energetic little girl. She looked over at the child of her heart and realized that she may have no choice in the matter. Grief settled in deeper, as these traitorous thoughts ran through her mind. She couldn’t lose her daughter. Her family meant everything to Sam.
She stroked her daughter’s hair, as she thought about this beautiful child and how she had come to be. She and Daniel had been part of a top-secret program that revolved around a device that allowed interplanetary travel. They had been part of a team of soldiers and scientists who went through the Gate on a regular basis to find out what lay beyond the stars and they had been traveling from one planet to another for many years before she and Daniel had been temporarily assigned to join up with another team. They were going to negotiate over the rights to a mine that yielded a wealth of minerals, as well as a strange metal that had piqued the interest of her superiors. Sam was sent to do an in-depth analysis of the metal, while Daniel’s negotiating talents were needed in talking with the natives. It seemed that they would only talk to someone who understood their traditions and laws; and since Daniel was well versed in the cultures of a great many people, he fit the bill perfectly.
They had arrived during an electrical storm, the likes of which Sam had never seen. Lightning had flashed across the sky, crisscrossing other bolts, resulting in a colorful display of blues, yellows and greens. The lightning swirled around them continuously, as they made their way through the mud to get to the nearest shelter, and they were glad when they had finally reached it. Thunder boomed occasionally, while the wind blew over the landscape, scattering leaves and anything else that was not bolted down. It was just a storm, she had thought, as she stared at it through the door of the house where they had taken shelter. There was nothing to worry about.
But she was wrong. The storm raged throughout the night, complete with huge hailstones that clattered on the roof, while the wind picked up to become strong enough to uproot several trees, the creaking and crashing noises they made adding to the already noisy hailstones. She and the team who had accompanied her through the Stargate had to resort to waiting out the storm, before they could get any sleep. And when morning came, they had found a blackened and very dead DHD standing in front of an equally damaged Stargate. “This is not possible,” she had muttered over and over again, as she surveyed the damage. All thoughts of her mission were forgotten as she tried to make sense of what had happened and what she needed to do to fix it. “The Stargate was built to be indestructible,” she said when Daniel had gotten tired of hearing her litany. “This is not possible.”
A whimper brought Sam out of her musings and all thoughts went to the child in her arms. She was so sick, and the thought of losing her brought tears to Sam’s eyes. She wanted more than anything to cure her child, but just as she had found out with the Stargate, some things just weren’t meant to be fixed. After several weeks of failing to fix the DHD and the Stargate, she and the rest of her comrades finally came to the conclusion that they were stranded, with no options of even communicating with the SGC. They were stranded, and even after nine years of living on this planet, she still had no idea what had happened to literally destroy an indestructible Stargate.
She looked down at the little girl lying next to her, and marveled at how much she looked like Daniel. Her dark hair and blue eyes had been inherited from him, but it was the shape of her mouth and her ever-inquisitive nature that made her “Daddy’s girl”. Sam smiled sadly as she thought about her daughter’s father. He had been a constant source of encouragement throughout her efforts to fix the disabled Stargate and DHD. His belief in her fueled her attempts to find out what was wrong and how to fix it, while his words of consolation told her that he didn’t blame her for her failure when she had finally realized that they were not going anywhere. They had grown close over the years of creating their new lives, and it seemed a natural course of action when they took their friendship to a more intimate level. They were married in a ritual that brought them closer to their native neighbors and Sam gave birth to their daughter nearly a year later. They had named her Claire, after Daniel’s mother, who had died when Daniel was just a child. The irony of his mother dying at a young age did not escape Sam as she worried over the woman’s namesake.
Her daughter whimpered in pain, too weak to do much else. Sam listened to the whimpers, wishing with all her heart that she could make things better. She moved closer to her daughter, pulling her up so that she was lying on Sam’s arm, while Sam held her close. She was terrified, scared out of her mind that Daniel wouldn’t get back in time, that their sweet little baby was going to die and leave Sam to face a void that would never be filled. This was her worst fear come true, but Sam was determined to fight it to the very end. She just couldn’t lose her baby.
Silence filled the air as her daughter settled back down. Sam held her tightly, while she stroked her hair, praying with all her might that this was just a setback. The plague had swept through the village, choosing its victims at random, leaving a devastating trail of death and grief. She and Daniel had thought that their little family was safe from the epidemic, as they had so far escaped the illness that ravaged its victims. There was no rhyme or reason as to why some people became ill and others didn’t, Sam was just thankful that it bypassed her household.
But the illness struck anyway, discounting Sam’s thoughts that they might be immune because they were not of this world. She and Daniel weren’t natives, and Sam hoped that meant the odds were good that they passed on whatever it was that kept them healthy to their children. But her firstborn was deathly ill, and Sam was now faced with the possibility of losing her daughter.
Her thoughts were suddenly interrupted when she heard the front door open, and she hurried to slip out of the bed, careful to not waken her sleeping daughter. She rushed out to find Daniel hanging up his coat, while brushing the rain out of his hair. He was so handsome, she thought, as she watched him turn toward her. His hair had grown long since the last time she tried to trim it, but that didn’t distract from the rugged look he had grown into, cultivated by the hard life they had to live in order to forge out their new home. She stared at him anxiously, wondering if had accomplished what he had set out to do. The fact that he was alone confirmed her fears about the healers, but maybe he was still able to procure the medicines that would ease their daughter’s agony.
The haunted look that he gave her told her everything. He hadn’t been successful. “What happened?” she asked, as a familiar anger flamed within her heart. How could he do this to her? Their daughter was dying, and he comes back empty handed? She walked up to him, her eyes never leaving his face, suddenly realizing that maybe she was jumping to the wrong conclusion. “Did you get some medicine?”
He nodded, as he stared back at her. Despite Sam’s thoughts on how handsome her husband was, they had been having some problems with their marriage. She loved him dearly, but sometimes they seemed distant, as if there was something hanging over them. She supposed it was just that they had grown too familiar with each other, but it still worried her that they might be growing apart.
He reached for a small leather pouch that he had set on the table, and offered it to her, as he continued to watch her carefully. Sam took the bag and opened it to see what was in it, but looked up instead when Daniel asked, “How is she?”
“Not good,” Sam told him. “Her fever just won’t go down and she just cries whenever she has to cough.” Daniel gave a small nod, as his gaze went to the door of their daughter’s room. His face was pale, and Sam’s heart lurched when she realized that he might be ill. “Are you okay? You’re not feeling feverish or anything, are you?” His forehead felt cool to the touch, but that didn’t mean anything. He had just come in from the cold.
“I’m fine Sam,” he said, his voice tinged with just a little exasperation. “I stopped by to check on Ethan on my way back.” Sam’s ears perked up at the mention of her son, who was three years younger than Claire. He had been sent off to stay with some friends when his sister had become ill, and Sam missed him terribly. “He’s doing great,” Daniel added. “Not even a sniffle.” Sam breathed a small sigh of relief, as she nodded gratefully at her husband. At least Ethan had escaped the horrors that accompanied the plague’s symptoms.
“What a relief,” she said, as she looked into the pouch that Daniel had brought with him. It was filled with a powdered substance that Sam knew to be the local’s version of a healing tea. She stood there for a moment, staring at the powder, while anger built back up in her soul. “This is it?” she finally asked incredulously. “A powder? Our daughter is dying and all you bring me is a powder?” Her voice had risen with every word, until she was nearly shouting, while Daniel’s face took on a rebellious look.
“That’s all they would give me,” Daniel said calmly, obviously trying to placate her, but she was too incensed to think rationally. “They said it would ease some of the pain.”
“Oh well, isn’t that just great,” Sam snarled at him, as she angrily pulled the strings to close the pouch. “She’s dying, Daniel. Our little girl is dying and there isn’t a thing I can do to save her.”
“I know, Sam. I tried…”
“Oh, you tried all right. And all you brought was a powder that really doesn’t even work. We’ve tried this stuff before, and all it did was make you nauseous.” She couldn’t believe that the healers would just give her something to ease the symptoms, while her daughter lay dying. “You should have brought one of them with you.”
“Nothing short of shooting them would have convinced them to come with me,” Daniel said, his eyes blazing with anger. “And believe me when I say that I wanted to.”
“But you didn’t.” Tears of frustration leaked out, but Sam didn’t try to stop them. “She’s dying, Daniel. I know she is. Oh God, what am I going to do.” She was openly crying now. Her grief was just too great to even try to ignore. Daniel came up to hold her, but Sam didn’t want his help. She pulled away angrily and went over to the fireplace to fix the drink for her daughter. Sam didn’t really have much faith in the medicine that the healers sent with Daniel, but she was willing to give anything a try, especially if it would ease the pain. She wiped away at the tears, as she poured the steaming water into a cup, wondering if she should just go find the healers herself.
“I tried Sam,” Daniel told her again. Sam didn’t know if she believed him or not. “But there are so many people who need their help.” She ignored him as she set the cup on a plate, then went over to a box set up on the floor and opened the lid to pull out a few ice cubes. She had rigged this up herself, after several years of drinking lukewarm water. She dropped the cubes into the cup, hating herself for being smart enough to rig up a freezer, but not able to find a cure for her own daughter. “There’s not a whole lot anybody can do…”
“So you just gave up?” she stormed at him, rage at her own inadequacies joining in with her anger at Daniel. “Claire is dying, while you stand there and tell me that the “others” are more important than she is.”
“That’s not what I said,” Daniel shouted back at her. “She’s my daughter too, Sam. How can you even think that I don’t care about her?” His face was red with anger, as he raged right back at her. “You think I want her to die? Is that it?”
“I don’t know ‘what’ you want,” she told him angrily. But she really did know, and her anger began to subside as she realized that she was being unreasonable, but Daniel had already grabbed his coat and stormed out the door before she could take back her words. She stared at the door for a moment, thinking of all the times when Daniel had come through for her, and how much he loved his children. He loved to take the kids on mock digs, looking for buried pottery and other ancient artifacts, while at the same time telling them stories about ancient gods and cultures that existed on Earth. Sam smiled as she remembered the bedtime stories he would tell the kids about the adventures he and Sam had gone on before they had been stranded in this place. He usually told the stories while they were all sitting around the fireplace at night, which gave Sam the opportunity to add in her own memories of those days. She had loved those times; the love and the close bond that they all shared made her life worth living.
Yet, here she was, accusing him of not caring. She stared at the door for a moment, debating on whether she should go find Daniel and apologize. No, she thought, as she looked down at the cup in her hand. Her daughter needed her more. She would do whatever she could to keep her child alive. She would talk to Daniel when he came back.
She moved quietly to her daughter’s bed, smiling slightly as she heard the unmistakable sound of an axe sinking into a piece of wood. Daniel was out chopping wood. He hadn’t left her totally alone after all.
The light from the candle painted streaks of yellow and white throughout the room. She had always loved watching the flickering lights as they danced along the walls and the ceiling. She watched them as she remembered her father telling her stories about his homeland. He had said that candles were thought to symbolize god by some religions, and she wondered if this candle symbolized the god her mother was praying to.
She looked over to see her mother kneeling on the floor next to her bed with her eyes closed and her mouth moving with words that could not be heard. Her mother had often told her that although she had been raised to believe in a god, it had been a long time since she had really thought about it. They had tried not to say too much about the gods that the people in the village worshipped, but Claire knew her parents didn’t believe in them. Still, she wondered which god the candle in her room symbolized.
She didn’t wonder for long. She closed her eyes against the light and willed herself not to swallow. But the urge was too strong and she moaned as agony wracked her body. Her mother was there in an instant, making soothing noises, while trying to help her sit up.
“I have something here that’s going to make you feel better,” her mother told her, but the movement caused her to cough, and she leaned into her mother’s chest as the cough rattled through her own body, creating a burning agony that she hated more than anything. Her mother held her tightly as she cried, her fingers caressing her face in an effort to soothe her.
“Here, drink some of this. It will make you feel better. I promise.”
She didn’t want to drink anything. She knew the pain that came with swallowing. “No,” she cried, as she shook her head weakly. “It hurts.”
But her mother was insistent. “Just a few sips. Please baby. Do it for mama, please?” Her mother was crying again. She hated to be the one to make her mother cry, but she hated the agony that would come with swallowing even more. She finally gave in and tried to take a sip, tears springing up when the pain in her throat flared up again. Her mother continued to coax her to drink “one more sip” until she had almost finished everything in the cup. Tears streamed down her face once again, and she began to cry when the urge to cough rose up in her chest. She didn’t want to do this anymore.
The air was crisp and damp, as Daniel stormed out the door. Although the winter storms had long since died out to give way to spring rains, the weather was still raw enough to cause Daniel to pull up the lapels of his coat as he trudged over to the woodpile. There really wasn’t anything else for him to do, and they were going to need more wood to keep the house warm and cozy for Claire. Besides, he needed something physical to beat the crap out of to help him deal with his anger.
He grabbed the axe and a piece of wood, intending to get the job done and over with. He hefted the axe, then drove it deep into the log, splitting it nearly in two with the force of the swing. He couldn’t understand what had happened to his marriage. He and Sam had been happy at first, once they had taken their friendship to a deeper level, and marriage seemed to be the next step, especially since they had just about given up hope on being rescued. Then the kids came along to make their lives complete, and they had settled into their new lives with a vengeance.
But lately, maybe over the last year or so, something had changed. They were still a family, and most days were spent in tranquility, but sometimes Daniel got the feeling that Sam was holding back. He was afraid that he was losing her and he didn’t know what to do to keep her with him.
Another swing of the axe, and the log was split in two. He grabbed another log and set it on the stump, before swinging the axe again, as anger and grief moved to the forefront. His daughter was dying and he had done everything he could think of to get one of the healers to come to help. To hear Sam talk, Daniel might as well as had been taking a walk in the woods. How could she think that he didn’t care about their little girl, the child who had sealed his happiness with her first tears? Daniel continued to split the wood, as he sorted through memories of his children, as well as the feelings of love that settled into his very being. He loved his family deeply, and for Sam to think that he didn’t care was like a kick in the gut.
He had built up a sweat as he worked through his anger and his thoughts. And as much as he hated to even admit to them, his tears mixed in with the sweat. He didn’t want to lose his daughter. He remembered the day she was born. He had been there helping Sam fight through her labor to give birth, then sat by her side as the midwife busied herself with cleaning up the mess. Sam had gone to sleep not long after the tender moments they had spent as they admired their new baby, giving Daniel the opportunity to spend a few hours to get to know his daughter. He had sat there next to the bed and stared at his sleeping baby, wondering at the deep love he harbored for the child in his arms. It didn’t seem right that now, seven years later, she would be taken from him.
He stopped working long enough to wipe the sweat and the tears from his face, then went back to chopping wood with a vengeance. Sam was just upset, he reasoned, as he tried one more time to understand her accusations. Who could blame her? He certainly didn’t, now that he thought about it. The plague didn’t care one way or the other who it killed. It wouldn’t have gone far if they had been on Earth. Modern medicines and other cures would have stopped the plague in its tracks, and Daniel wouldn’t be facing the rest of his life without his daughter. But they weren’t on Earth, he reminded himself sternly. They had been stranded on this planet, and he wondered, not for the first time, what had happened to keep the others from finding them. His friends, Jack and Teal’c, would have resorted to violence if they had to in order to find a ship to come to get their stranded teammates. But nobody had come to the rescue, which meant that something bad must have happened to keep them from following up on the rescue. Still, Daniel hadn’t given up hope that one day, someone would come and take him and his family back to Earth. A little too late, he thought, as his mind went back to dwell on his grief.
It seemed to Daniel that his family was falling apart and he didn’t know what to do to prevent it. He stopped chopping and worked on stacking up the wood, keeping a few logs out to take into the house with him. They were going to need the wood while they kept their vigil next to Claire’s bed.
The main room was empty when he got in. He put the wood in the box next to the fireplace, then took off his coat to hang up next to the door. He was heading for his daughter’s room when Sam came out and stood there staring at him.
Oh God, Daniel thought, as his fears moved into his mind. Not yet. He hadn’t even said good-bye. He stared at his wife, feeling hot tears well up in his eyes, then held her tightly when she walked straight into his arms.
“I’m so sorry, Daniel,” she said through her tears. “I didn’t mean any of that stuff I said earlier.” She made a sound like a sob, then said, “I’m just so scared.”
“I know,” Daniel said, as he kissed her hair. Relief flowed through him when he realized that his daughter was still alive. He wasn’t ready to let her go just yet. “Me too.”
She pulled back to look into his face, her eyes reflecting her sorrow. “I know you did your best.” Daniel nodded, while she continued, “They can be so stubborn.” She reached up to brush his hair back from his face, before moving her gaze to his eyes. “I love you Daniel. More than life itself.”
He smiled at her admission, knowing that they still had a chance to make things right. “I love you too, Sam,” he said, watching as she smiled through her tears. He pulled her back into his embrace, then said, “We’ll get through this, I promise.” She nodded against his shoulder, while Daniel told her, “I need you more than ever right now, okay? We need each other.”
Sam’s response was to hug him tighter. Daniel hugged her back, relishing in the warmth of her love, and hoping it would be enough to get him through this illness, and God forbid, his grief. He pulled back, then said, “I’d better go sit with Claire for awhile.” Sam nodded, as she wiped her nose with a handkerchief, then followed him as he went to say his good-byes.
“Hey baby,” her father said, as he came in to sit down next to her. She smiled at him, but she was too tired to respond. Her mother came in and sat down on the bed, smiling sadly and trying hard to convey that all was well. And it seemed that maybe she was right. Her throat didn’t hurt as much when she swallowed. She was too afraid to find out what happened when she coughed though, so she lay there and took her mother’s word for it, while her father continued to talk to her. “How are you feeling?”
She wanted to respond, but the light flickering on the wall behind his head had attracted her attention, and she stared at it, admiring the warm yellow splashes that enhanced the color of the ceiling.
“Is that God?” she asked softly, wondering which god that light reflected. Her parents looked startled, but both turned to look to see what she was seeing.
“Claire?” her mother asked when she had turned back toward the bed. She sounded scared and she was crying again, which was not what Claire wanted. She wanted them to be happy.
“The light,” she tried again, hoping to cheer them up by making them understand. But her father was looking away, and she could see the deep sadness in his face as he fought against his own tears. “It’s pretty,” she said to once more make them happy.
Her mother nodded at her, while she tried to smile, but Claire could see the tears sliding down her cheeks. Her father reached over touch her forehead, soothing his fingers over her fevered brow and smiled at her, as well. “Very pretty,” he told her, as his eyes roamed over her face. She knew he was talking about her, and she smiled at his words. “I love you Claire,” he told her, as a tear leaked out from his eyes. “You’re my whole life.”
“Don’t be sad,” she whispered sleepily. “I love you too.”
“I’m not sad,” her father said. She knew better, but was too tired to argue. She closed her eyes against the flickering candlelight, and tried hard not to swallow. She did anyway, grimacing at the pain when she did. It didn’t seem to hurt so bad anymore, and she was glad that she had sipped that tea her mother had made for her.
“Sleep my little one,” her mother said soothingly. “Everything’s going to be all right. I promise.”
Claire nodded, then opened her eyes to gaze upon her parents one more time. They were sitting side by side next to her bed, with her father stroking his fingers over her forehead and her mother holding her hand, and Claire felt at peace. The shadows of the light on the wall seemed to dim, and she closed her eyes to sleep, realizing that her mother was right. Everything really was going to be all right.