Title: Grief’s Tragedy
Fandom: SG-1 (AU)
Rating: R (for language)
Word count: ~13600
Summary: When tragedy strikes Janet is devastated and angry. Can anyone save her from herself?
Warning: Character death and lots of angst.
Spoilers/Timeline: AU. This is set during and following S05E06 Rite Of Passage.
Disclaimer: SG-1 its characters belong to B.W, J.G. and MGM. No copyright infringement intended, no money be made.
A/N1: Some dialogue taken from the show. Prompt given to me by londynon, (“Janet, please, don’t do this. Don’t give up, please!” Sam pleaded with her lover.) I didn’t use it as the first line, but it did inspire this story.
A/N2: Written for the FSAC DD10 Calendar. Special thanks to oxfordshoes2 for the beta!
Suppressed grief suffocates,
it rages within the breast,
and is forced to multiply its strength.
– Ovid, Roman poet
Tragedy changes people, even the good ones.
– Rommie, android avatar of the Andromeda Ascendant
Janet walked into Cassie’s room in the infirmary. She was surprised to see a chess piece levitating and spinning mid-air in front of her daughter.
“Cassandra? What are you doing?”
“It helps... to do this.”
“It’s like the heat is leaving my body, and going into the chess piece.” She paused for a beat. “You don’t got a cure, have you?”
“No. We’re still trying–”
“No, it’s not. We may still learn something from the bio samples SG-1 brought back. There might be something there that’ll help your body produce antibodies.”
“I want this to happen, Janet.”
“Don’t say that,” she tearfully pleaded.
“It’s going to happen anyway.”
“You know that it’s more than that now. I can feel the power inside me. It’s only the beginning.”
“And along with it your body is undergoing a tremendous physical strain.”
“You think it’s going to kill me?”
“I’m... worried about that possibility, yes.”
“I don’t care!” the girl shouted.
“Well, you should!” Janet couldn’t keep her voice from trembling as the fear of losing her daughter weighed down on her oppressively. “I know the limitations to the human body–”
“Maybe I’m not human anymore.”
“Of course you are.”
“Maybe dying is part of the transformation.” Cassie sounded almost eager to die.
“I don’t care whether it is or not!”
The alarm was the first indication that something was very wrong. Sam and Janet ran into the infirmary to find an airman checking the body of another guard that had been killed.
“Cassandra!” Janet ran into her daughter’s room, with Sam on her heels.
Cassie was sitting up in her bed. “It was a Goa’uld,” she said. “I was asleep. I thought it was a nurse coming in to take my blood... but I sensed its presence.”
“I didn’t sense anything,” Sam pointed out.
“It was after you left. At first there was no one there, but then, when it got closer, I saw someone.”
Sam picked up the phone and accessed the PA system. “This is a Code 3 alert! We need zats and TERs in Isolation Room 4, now!”
“Are you alright?” Janet asked Cassie.
“It ran away when I screamed.”
General Hammond arrived with the men of SG-1. Sam explained to them what had happened, and he ordered the systematic search of the facility.
Jack decided to stay with Cassie and Janet to keep an eye on them. He looked at Cassie. “I figured you fought her off the first time, so I’m safer here with you.”
“She was here the whole time you’ve been back,” she replied.
“We’ll find her,” he reassured her.
“She’s right. Why did she wait until now to come after Cassandra?” asked Janet.
“She wanted to know if her experiment worked,” Cassie said.
“You don’t know what she wants.”
“No. If... if the transformation were going to kill me, she would have just let it happen. Don’t you see?”
“Honey, not now.”
“No! But it did work!”
Suddenly the girl pointed toward the observation room and yelled, “Look out!!”
The observation window shattered and Janet protectively covered her daughter while an SF illuminated the invisible intruder with a TER. Jack shot her with his zat. He removed the cloth covering the face of the intruder, confirming it was Nirrti.
Jack keyed his radio. “Security to ISO Room 4. All search teams, stand down.”
Cassie suddenly started to seize.
“Cassie? Cassie! Don’t do this!” exclaimed Janet. “Please, get her out of here,” she told Jack, referring to the unconscious Nirrti. “Come on! Let’s Move! Roll her over... easy.” A nurse helped to roll Cassie onto her side as her seizure continued.
Daniel fell in step with Janet as she walked down the corridor. “She says she can help Cassandra.”
“If we trust her.”
“If we let her go.”
“Do you believe she can actually help?”
“I think it’s worth a shot.”
“What about General Hammond? What’s he going to do?”
“He hasn’t decided yet.”
“I really need to get back to Cassandra.”
Daniel grabbed her hand, stopping her. “I– We all know how tough this has been for you, so if you need anything...”
Janet quickly pulled her hand from his. “Thanks,” she replied as she continued on her way and entered Cassie’s room. She looked over Cassie’s chart, trying to think. “Alright, give me 70 milligrams of dantroline.”
“Doctor?” the nurse asked, making sure she heard correctly.
“Mom?” Cassie asked weakly as she regained consciousness.
“I’m here. We’re just giving you something else to try to get your fever down.
“Okay, I want you to do what we talked about, okay? I want you to fight this.”
“I don’t want to fight it.”
“You have to! Honey, your body is not going to be able to survive what this retro virus is trying to do.”
“Gone to see if she can get you any help.”
“No! Let it happen! Let it happen!” Cassie again went into a seizure.
“Drop 10 of valium,” Janet ordered the nurse as she put an oxygen mask on her daughter.
“Valium’s in.” The nurse looked at the monitor. “Her temperature is 106!”
“Dantroline is not working?!” Dantroline had been a last ditch effort to control Cassie’s high fever. Janet was out of medical options... and desperate. She grabbed a spring injector of morphine sulfate and left to do the only thing she could think off. She would make Nirrti help Cassie.
“General Hammond to the holding room,” sounded over the PA system.
Hammond and SG-1 arrived to find Janet holding a gun on the handcuffed Goa’uld where she sat on a chair in her cell.
“Dr. Frasier, stand down,” the general ordered.
Though her voice shook, her hand didn’t. “I can’t do that, sir. I don’t have a choice.”
Sam moved to the side of Janet so the doctor could see her. “Janet? Don’t do this.”
“I can’t help Cassandra... she can.”
“Dr. Frasier, SG-1 has already convinced me to make a deal for Cassandra’s life. This isn’t necessary,” explained Hammond.
“Then you agree to my terms?”
“Just one – once you’ve cured Cassandra of her illness, you will be free to go,” the general said, clearly not happy about it.
“And how do I know you will honor this?”
“You have my word.”
“Not good enough.”
“Then I shall remind you that the woman holding the gun on you is Cassandra’s mother.”
With a Goa’uld healing device in one hand and another Goa’uld device in the other, Nirrti attempted to help Cassie.
After only a few short seconds she stopped. “You have waited too long.”
“You try again,” Janet growled.
Nirrti tried again – appearing to put more effort into it. Cassie started coughing as she regained consciousness and her vitals started to improve.
“It is done.”
Having lived up to her part of the bargain, Sam and Jack escorted Nirrti to the gate room.
It was less than an hour later when Cassie’s fever again spiked. She went into a febrile seizure that didn’t stop until her heart stopped.
Cassie was gone.
Time became an amorphous thing, its passage marked by funeral arrangements, condolences, visitors with casseroles, and unending hours of sorrow too great to be expressed.
Sam was heartbroken, but even in the midst of her own grief she tried to be a comfort to Janet. But Janet would not let anyone, not even her lover, comfort her – she didn’t want to be comforted. She was sad beyond words... and angry. Angry at the Goa’uld for being monsters; angry at Nirrti for being so evil and cruel that she experimented on children, on her child; angry at General Hammond for taking so goddamn long to decide her daughter was worth saving, for having to be convinced in the first place; angry at Daniel for suggesting they should trust Nirrti; angry at Sam and Jack for letting Nirrti go before making sure the bitch had indeed cured her daughter; angry at everyone for pitying her; but mostly, angry at herself for not being a good enough doctor to save her daughter.
“Hey, Sam. How are you doing?” Daniel asked quietly when he entered the gear room.
It was her first day back at work following Cassie’s funeral. She gave him a tremulous half-smile. “I’ve been better.” She accepted his hug.
“We all loved her.”
“How is Janet holding up?”
“I don’t really know.”
“What do you mean?”
She sighed. “She’s completely shut me out, Daniel. She won’t talk about it with me. I don’t think she’s even cried.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t go on our mission today? Maybe you should stay and be here for her. I’m sure Jack would understand.”
“I would understand what?” O’Neill asked when he entered.
“We’re worried about Janet. Janet isn’t talking about what happened.”
“Talking is overrated,” the colonel said with certainty.
“You don’t understand, Jack, Sam says she doesn’t think Janet has even cried about what’s happened.”
“I do understand... better than any of you,” he snapped. After taking a calming breath he continued. “Just let Doc be. Everyone grieves in their own way. Just give her some time and space to do what she needs to.” Jack grabbed his pack. “Let’s go; time to go,” he ordered.
Janet sat in her car. She didn’t want to go inside the mountain and face everyone. She didn’t want to see the pity in their eyes, or hear any more condolences.
Finally, she took a deep breath and got out of her car. Unfortunately, the looks started with the guards at the security check point... and continued with every single person she encountered on the way down to the infirmary.
When some of her medical staff expressed their condolences, she snapped.
“I don’t need or want your pity! Cassandra is dead and there’s nothing I can do about it. Life goes on. So, let’s just get on with it.” She slammed her office door, shutting out the shocked looks of her co-workers.
Word of her outburst, of course, reached the general. Having been through the loss of his wife, he knew heartbreaking grief. He wasn’t upset with his CMO when he went to the infirmary to talk with her; he merely wanted to let her know he understood, at least to a point – he couldn’t imagine what it was like to lose a child.
He knocked on the closed office door.
“What?” he heard the doctor snap peevishly.
Janet looked up when her door opened and General Hammond entered. He was one of the last people she wanted to see. She struggled to keep a civil tongue in her head. “Sir.”
His purpose for coming changed upon noting the dark circles under the doctor’s eyes, the facial muscles that flexed as she clenched her jaw, and the lack of expression on her face. He took a slow breath as he measured his words.
“I think perhaps you’ve returned to work too soon, Doctor. I want you take some time off.”
“I don’t need time off, sir,” she said in a measured tone. She didn’t really want to be there, but she wanted to home alone even less.
“It’s not a suggestion,” he replied. “I know you’re hurting and you have every right to be. But being here...” The words ‘where Cassie died’ didn’t make it past his lips, but they both felt the weight of them. “You’re on leave effective immediately. We’ll discuss your return to duty at a later date.”
On the verge of totally losing her temper, and without her normal fluidic grace, Janet stood up and gathered her things. “Fine.”
She walked out of the infirmary.
Hammond sadly watched her go, not even caring about her lack of military etiquette.
At home, Janet was faced with constant reminders of her daughter, reminders that she just couldn’t bear. She gathered up all the pictures in the living room that were of Cassie and placed them in a box, which she put in the hall closet. She then went through the rest of the house, room by room, systematically removing pictures, knickknacks, anything that reminded her of Cassandra, and dumped them all in the box in the closet.
That done, and after changing into jeans and a t-shirt, Janet stood facing the closed door of the one room she hadn’t entered in almost a week. Taking a deep breath she opened the door to her daughter’s bedroom. It felt like something hit her in the chest with the force of mule’s kick, stopping her heart and stealing her breath. It was a physical pain as real as a severed limb, and soul deep. Finally, she was able to draw a breath. After several slow breaths she entered... and went to work.
Janet had just finished sorting Cassie’s things, setting aside things to be boxed up and packed away from what she was going to give to Goodwill, when the front doorbell sounded. She headed downstairs and opened the door. She was surprised to see Dr. Stephen MacKenzie on her porch, although it didn’t take genius to figure out why he was there.
“What are you doing here?”
The man looked down for a moment. He knew he was not always a welcome presence in a soldier’s life. His profession as a psychiatrist meant the need for his help symbolized weakness to most soldiers, a weakness that soldiers were loathe to admit. And the tougher the soldiers (like those assigned to the SGC) the more stubbornly they resented the need for his help. MacKenzie was not a stupid or insensitive man, and while many believed he was only out to find any excuse to end their careers, the truth was he cared about people. His goal was always to help his patients, to see them through the rough patches, to help them be their best, and to keep them from irreparably breaking.
When MacKenzie looked up again and into the eyes of the SGC’s CMO, he saw her need for help. “General Hammond asked me to stop by and see if you might want to talk.”
Somehow, Janet wasn’t surprised. “Am I under orders to talk to you?”
MacKenzie managed to keep his expression neutral. “No, of course not.” They both knew he meant ‘Not yet.’
“Then you can go. I’m on leave and this is my private residence, so...” She closed the door.
MacKenzie sighed. Dr. Fraiser had reacted just as he’d expected. She was hurting and he wanted to help, but he couldn’t force her to let him. He turned, headed down the walkway, and got back into his car.
Janet leaned back against the door after she closed it. Having MacKenzie show up on her doorstep was just the cherry on top of her crap day. With a sigh, she pushed off the door and went into the kitchen. She opened the overhead cabinet next to the refrigerator and took down the half-full bottle of Laphroaig 18-year-old, single malt whiskey.
While wine was normally her drink of choice, every once in a great while she enjoyed a good single malt – something she likely inherited from her father, the Army colonel. She poured two fingers’ worth into a glass and enjoyed the sweet, smoky burn of the amber liquid. Uncharacteristically, she poured a second drink. Liking the second even more than the first, she took the glass and the bottle with her as she headed back upstairs.
In Cassie’s room, she continued her work by taping up the two boxes of things that she was keeping. Fortified with a third drink, she pulled on the trap door in the hallway ceiling to the attic and unfolded the ladder. One at a time, she carried the boxes up to the attic – including the one she’d previously put in the downstairs hall closet. With the attic closed back up, she returned to the bedroom and started folding all of the clothes and placing them in large garbage bags.
Her task done, she poured another drink and looked around the room. The walls were bare, the bed stripped, and the closet and dresser drawers empty. She’d already called Goodwill, and after they arrived the next day everything would be taken away – including the furniture.
Janet woke with a groan, her head painfully pounding in time with the pounding on her front door. She’d fallen asleep on the couch after finishing off the Laphroaig. She levered herself into an upright position, instantly regretting it as a wave of nausea nearly overcame her ability to repress it. Her mouth tasted like toxic pond scum. She practically growled when the pounding on the front door began again.
She stood and unsteadily made her way to the front door.
“What?” she asked the young man who couldn’t be more than 17 or 18 years old.
He jerked his thumb over his shoulder back towards the street. “I’m Todd. We’re here for a pickup for Goodwill.”
She looked past him and saw a second young man at the bottom of the porch steps and their truck at the curb. She nodded. “Alright.” She moved aside and let them in. At the base of the stairs she gestured up to the second floor. “It’s everything in the first room on the left.”
“By everything, you mean...”
“Everything, including the furniture.”
The two young men headed up the stairs.
After Janet had the chance to shower and – more importantly – brush her teeth, she headed to the hardware store... with a stop at the liquor store on the way back home.
Dressed in an old oversized t-shirt, which she tied in a knot at her midriff, and jeans that were made of more patched holes than denim, she opened a can of paint. It took her a few hours – and a couple of hefty drinks – to finish painting the room. She hadn’t quite determined what she was going to do with the room, but at least it no longer contained a single sign, trace, or hint of Cassie’s previous occupancy.
That evening, while she continued to sip single malt whiskey, Janet flipped through some magazines. Coming across a photo layout of some celebrity’s home, she finally decided. That room had the best view of the backyard and all of her gardening efforts. It got plenty of light without getting overheated by direct sunlight coming through the windows. She would make the room her new office.
When SG-1 returned from their four-day off-world mission, Sam was surprised not to see Janet. She asked Dr. Warner about her lover’s absence when he did her post-mission physical.
“I don’t know where she is. All I know is the general put her on an indeterminate leave after she...” he trailed off, suddenly hesitant to say any more.
“After she what, Doctor?”
Dr. David Warner, the Assistant CMO, hung his stethoscope around his neck and quietly sighed. He considered Janet a friend, not just his boss. He was worried about her – just as everyone else was. He looked at the blonde major and reminded himself that Sam and Janet were best friends.
“When she came in to work the other day, she lost it when someone said they were sorry for her loss. She yelled at everyone and slammed her office door.” He shrugged. “The next thing I knew, the general had come up to talk to her and sent her home. We don’t know when she’ll be back.”
Sam closed her eyes a moment and sighed. “Thank you for telling me,” she said softly.
Warner nodded with understanding.
As soon as their debriefing was over, Sam rushed out of the base. She wanted to get home and check on Janet.
“Janet?” she called out as soon as stepped in the front door.
There was no answer.
Sam walked through the living room and dining room and checked the kitchen. There was no sign of her lover. She headed back to the foyer and then went down the hallway to look in Janet’s office.
“What the...” The small room that had been Janet’s office had been changed. The only thing in the room was a small couch, several book cases full of books, and a small end table. Janet’s desk, computer, filing cabinets, etc. were missing.
“Janet?” she called out again as she started upstairs.
At the top of the stairs Sam stopped as she detected a faint odor of paint. She followed it to the closed door of Cassie’s room. Her jaw literally dropped when she opened the door. It was completely redone. It had been painted a different color and Janet’s desk, computer, and filing cabinets had replaced Cassie bed, dresser, nightstand, and small work table. Struggling to comprehend what she was seeing, Sam didn’t hear Janet enter the house and come up the stairs.
“You’re here,” the brunette said nonchalantly. “Good, you can help me hang the new curtains for my office,” Janet said as she brushed past the blonde.
Sam finally found her voice. “What the hell have you done?”
“Just a little redecorating,” the doctor answered as she took the new curtains out of her shopping bag.
“Where is all of Cassie’s stuff?”
“What I didn’t box up and pack away I gave to Goodwill.”
Sam stalked over to where Janet was fiddling with her curtains, grabbed her shoulder, and spun her around. “How could you?! What are you trying to do? Just wipe away her memory like she never existed?!”
Janet’s passive expression turned to one of pure, unadulterated rage. “I’m doing what I have to, to move on. Who the hell are you to disapprove or pass judgment on how I do that? She was MY daughter – not yours!”
Sam recoiled as if she’d been slapped.
“This is my house and I will decorate it however I please. If you don’t like it you can get the hell out. No one is keeping you here.” She threw down the curtain and marched out of the room.
It took Sam several minutes before she could move. Saddened beyond words, she walked out of Cassie’s b– Janet’s office and across the hallway to the master bedroom. She retrieved her suitcase from the top shelf of the closet and packed all of her clothes that she had at the house. The last thing she packed was her toothbrush.
Downstairs, the doctor was in the kitchen. She poured herself four fingers of cheap blended whiskey – it was too expensive to drink a bottle of the good stuff every day. She listened to the blonde’s footfalls on the way down the stairs... and then the opening and closing of the front door. It was just as well; this way she didn’t have to deal with Sam – and her anger towards the blonde – outside of work.
When Daniel answered the knock on his apartment door, he was faced with a red-faced, tearful teammate. She opened her mouth to say something, but nothing came out. He’d never seen Sam look so stricken or devastated. It took a couple of moments, but he finally snapped out of his shock and pulled Sam into his arms, where she broke down in sobs.
He pulled her inside his apartment, closed the door, and guided her over to the couch. The archeologist was unsure what else to do. He’d never seen Sam do more than shed a few silent tears, much less break down sobbing. It was several minutes before the blonde seemed to settle down a bit.
“You want to tell me what’s wrong?” he asked gently.
Sam pulled away to snag a couple of tissues from a box on the coffee table and blew her runny nose. With tears still running down her cheeks, she recounted what had happened at Janet’s house.
Daniel shook his head. “Maybe Jack is right... maybe we just need to give Janet some time. I can’t imagine she meant what she said, not really. It must have been her grief talking.”
“First we lose Cassie... then Janet completely erases her from our lives.” She paused while she tried to swallow around the large lump in her throat. “And now I’m losing Janet, too.”
Three days after Sam had packed up and left Janet’s house, Daniel decided to give the doctor a visit. No one had heard from Janet and she wasn’t answering her home phone or her cell. Neither had she returned any of the several messages she’d received from Sam, Daniel, or her head nurse Amy.
He had to wait until after he finished up his report on the latest archeological artifacts brought by SG-6, so he was a little late getting out of work. It was about 7:00 pm when he pulled into Janet’s driveway. He got out and walked up to the front door.