|The Wizard of Mazd
Author: AkamaiMom PM
Sam's in a foul mood, and the guys are giving her the silent treatment. Heck of a way to start a mission. And what's with the gold shoes?Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst/Adventure - S. Carter & J. O'Neill - Chapters: 25 - Words: 53,257 - Reviews: 179 - Favs: 36 - Follows: 54 - Updated: 11-20-09 - Published: 10-08-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5429675
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Because you asked for it, here it is. . .
"Mom?" His voice echoed in the hallway. "Mom?"
"In here!" She stood in the kitchen, at the island, her long wheat colored ponytail swinging as she bent over the work top. The remains of the family's microwave oven scattered the marble surface, and she was working on a circuit board with a soldering iron. What made the job difficult was the baby standing unsteadily, holding onto her leg. Caleb had decided at the ripe old age of eight months that crawling was boring and he really needed to be walking.
Jacob dropped his backpack onto the kitchen table and unzipped the largest compartment. From it, he withdrew a large book. "You gotta see this."
"Do you have homework?"
His mom's face shot up. "Really?" She looked behind her to the large magnetic calendar on the fridge. She could only turn the top half of her body, because to move more than that would dislodge the baby from her leg. "Holy Hannah—where did the week go?"
Jacob smiled. "I've always wondered. Did you start saying that before or after you actually named her?"
"Before. Long before." The expression on her face changed as she turned back to her son. At fifteen, he was already taller than she was. His sandy blond hair was cut short—unlike most of the other boys in the area. There was wisdom in his hazel eyes and something else—strength? She'd always been proud of the fact that underneath it all, he was a good kid. Must have gotten his father's genes.
They both looked out the kitchen window to the little pier. "But she kind of lives up to it, doesn't she?"
Hannah was seven going on thirty-two. She had inherited their mother's vivid blue eyes and honey blond hair, but the obstinate nature of their father. Even now she was out on the pier with him, twin camping chairs at the edge, twin lines floating aimlessly in the water. She actually believed there were fish in there. None of the other O'Neills had the heart to tell her any different.
Jacob sighed. "Yeah, well. She is the middle child. Everyone says they're the most screwed up."
"Jacob." That tone, he'd learned, was a warning.
"Sorry." He started flipping through the pages of the book. "Anyhow, I found something today in this old textbook."
"Oh?" She adjusted the cord of the soldering iron and picked up a long, soft piece of solder. She had found the broken connection and was fixing it. Not because she couldn't afford to buy a new one, but because it was more fun to fiddle with it. And if she couldn't fix it—hey—it wasn't the end of the world. That was the best part about it. That it wasn't the end of the world.
"Yeah—check it out." He'd found the page and laid the book open on the counter top. Carefully pushing some parts—doohickeys, whatever—out of the way, he thumped a picture with his finger. "That kinda looks like you and Dad."
Sam bent over the book and looked. It did indeed look like them. And more than just kinda.
Because it was them.
Not that Jacob would know that. He only knew them as his somewhat odd Mom and Dad, who fished where there were no fish, and routinely tore apart household appliances because it was fun, respectively. Jacob's parents were the odd ones in the neighborhood that had grown up in the past twenty years around the cabin. They didn't work outside the home, they called each other weird names, and they couldn't seem to keep their hands off each other. Hence, their propensity to keep having kids.
It was embarrassing.
Now, he watched as his mom as she gazed at the picture. Her face had melted. She laid down the soldering iron, reaching across the island to pull the book closer to her.
He didn't often see his mom cry, but her eyes looked wet. "You okay?"
"Yeah—I'm just thinking about some people I used to know."
The photograph depicted a group of people gathered in front of the Stargate. It was still in the Silo in Cheyenne Mountain, before the whole program had come to light and the 'Gate had been moved to Washington DC. There were Daniel, and Vala, and Teal'c. General Hammond stood at the top of the ramp, his bald head reflecting a bit of the light from the open wormhole. It made him appear to have a halo. Appropriate, given that he'd died not long after the photo was taken. Her finger brushed the glossy portrait of him. She stood next to Jack in the picture, with John Sheppard there, and McKay. Cam Mitchell stood next to Teal'c. Even Siler was there—and that little technician with the bald head and the wisecracks. Harriman? Walters? Walter Harriman. Or was it Davis?
Where had the time gone? They all looked so—old.
Sam grinned. She still talked to Daniel frequently, and instant messaged Vala almost daily. The Jacksons had taken up residence in Virginia after the 'Gate had gone public. Daniel was head curator at the Smithsonian. Their twin girls were fourteen—just younger than Jacob. They'd been picking locks and translating obscure writings since baby-hood.
The people in the picture that had her meditative were those that had chosen not to be in the circle when Sam had finally used the Wizard's Shoes and Wand. Teal'c. Cam. John. Rodney.
McKay had surprised her. She'd thought that he would have jumped at the chance. But his life with Jennifer had been full, until she'd slowly fallen into the oblivion of Alzheimer's, and the cures had, for whatever reason, not helped. She'd died within the year, and McKay had chosen not to relive his life without her. Now he was gone, too.
Teal'c reasons had been simpler. He'd already lived a lifetime longer than everyone else. The last long, long years of his life had been spent in meditation and reflection, and he'd disappeared one day ten or so years ago, and nobody had heard from him since. Daniel posited the theory that he had ascended. Sam had to agree.
The baby lost his grip on Sam's jeans, and slid to a squishy thump on the tile floor. He immediately starting yowling as if his little life had ended.
Jacob rounded the counter and picked him up. "I'll take him. Read the article. It's pretty interesting."
Sam bent over the counter, perusing the article. Yada yada, Stargate program, secret organization. President this, I. O. A. that. She'd lived it, she didn't need to read it. The decision to go public had been made after many people had lived—and died—in the arduous quest to keep the planet safe. It had really been more of an afterthought—when there was no reasonable explanation for some new technologies other than alien involvement. The page in front of her was full of names, dates, and facts, but only one line was said about the flagship team of the SGC. And their names weren't mentioned at all. How quickly time had forgotten. There had never been any acclaim for those who had chosen to risk it all for the sake of the planet. And nobody—NOBODY—had given more to the security of the Tau'ri than the man out on the pier right now, quietly fishing with his daughter.
And he would be horrified anyway, at the prospect of being globally recognized for what he considered just doing his job.
Sam had to wipe her eyes at that thought. The baby was only 8 months old—she could still blame the tears on the pregnancy, right?
A noise at the front door brought her back to the present. Footsteps shuffled along the hallway towards the back of the house.
"Mom?" Thirteen year old Hammond came in, scowling.
"What's wrong, kid?"
Hammond dropped his backpack to the floor and headed right to the fridge. "Nothin'." He pulled open the door and removed two juice boxes and a few cheese sticks.
"Yeah. Right." Somehow, she'd learned sarcasm—odd.
Hammond finally focused on his mother. His dark hair was molded to the top of his head until it flared out just above his ears. Hat head. Dark eyes glared out from beneath the mop of bangs.
"What's going on, Hammond?"
He considered briefly before answering.
"Well, I'm not in trouble."
"We'll see about that."
"I just had a little fight. But it wasn't on school grounds this time."
"Did you win?" Jacob had reentered the kitchen, still carrying Caleb, who no longer squished, and smelled better. The baby had all four of the fingers of his right hand in his mouth and was drooling around them.
Sam raised her eyebrows and looked steadily at her second son. He'd sat at the stools on the other side of the island and peeled back the plastic on a cheese stick. Half of it disappeared into his mouth with his first bite.
Chewing happened. "You know Brandon?"
"He said that Dad's lazy because he doesn't work. He says he's probably getting some kind of welfare."
"So you fought him to clear your dad's good name? In defense of family?"
"Yeah." Defiant, his brown eyes dared her to get mad.
"Did you hurt him a lot?"
"Bloody nose. Torn pants."
Sam shrugged. "Serves him right."
Another set of footsteps clamored up the wooden steps to the outside deck. "Mom! Mom!" The French door leading outside slammed open, rattling the windows. "Hammond was fighting ag—" Mitchell stopped short when he saw his older brother already polishing off his second juice box. "Dangit! How did you get home before me? Geez. You coulda waited."
Hammond ignored his little brother. Ten year olds were so lame.
"Did he tell you about the fight?" Mitchell dropped his backpack in the middle of the floor, pushing his glasses back up his nose with one hand as he wiped it with the back of the other hand. "It was so cool."
"Just for the record—all of you—fighting is not cool." She felt obligated to say it. But, coming from her, she felt really, really hypocritical. Someday that was going to come back and bite her in the butt.
"Brandon called dad a lazy ass, and Hammond just knocked the crap out of him. Bam! Right off his bike. Brandon got up and tried to kick him in the nu—I mean—there—" he motioned vaguely to his fly before hurtling on. "But Hammond grabbed him by the shirt and just—wham!—right in the nose. Aw, man, it was awesome." His worship for his older brother knew no bounds.
"Okay—Guys." Sam held her hands up to get their attention. Six eyes on her, she started pointing. "Hammond—don't fight again. Just tell people that your dad's retired. Mitchell—really—nuts? And Jacob—thanks for the diaper change and the help." She held out her arms for the baby. "Everybody go put your things away—not on the floor. Change and get ready for dinner."
Hammond, the eternal grazer, was grateful enough not to be in trouble that he actually threw his garbage in the can before heading down the hall and upstairs.
Footsteps thundered overhead as the three boys did as they'd been told. After a few minutes they quieted. Computer games for Hammond and Jake, thought Sam, and a book for Mitchell.
She crossed to where the high chair sat in the corner of the room and pulled it back near the island. Strapping Caleb in, she searched absently in the utensil drawer for something safe and yet reasonably interesting for him to play with. She came up with a rubber basting brush, a few measuring spoons, and a funnel.
Baby now happy, she turned back to the book. Flipping the pages before and after, she found no more mention of the project. Nothing about the planets they'd visited, the people they'd liberated. Instead, the technology they'd recovered filled the pages—Asgard energy modules and beaming apparatus, Goa'uld healing devices that had been tweaked for human medical treatments, and Ancient devices that had advanced the cause of humanity far enough ahead to have brought a relative peace to the planet. So much information about the what, but nothing about the who.
With a sudden motion, she flipped the book shut and turned her attention back to the microwave. The dinner she'd mentioned before wasn't going to happen until she got the microwave reassembled. The solder held well as she meticulously put the parts back together. Within a few minutes she had the thing mostly restored, except for the case.
They'd all talked about it through the subsequent years. They had decided to utilize the devices from Mazd only when there was no other choice. In the end, that choice had been made for them.
Jack, with his decade start on the rest of them, had proven to be the healthiest of them all. His years spent with the Homeworld Security office had helped—it had kept him away from things and people shooting at him. Except for various presidents, who had routinely threatened to do it whenever he got too "Jack" with them.
Daniel had a mild bout with a heart issue. Easily fixed with newer medications.
Vala had been challenged in other ways. She and Daniel had finally given up trying to have children around the time Sam came back from the Pegasus Galaxy.
But then Sam had found the lump. Malignant. Metastasized. Full lymph node involvement. She'd been given three months. Not even the newest cures could have stopped the progression of the disease. She'd quietly resigned her commission, O'Neill had just as quietly retired. They'd met at the cabin, on the pier, just the four of them. Without much discussion, they had gathered in a circle. It had seemed appropriate to touch somehow—Sam, with the shoes on and the wand held in front of her, Daniel's and Jack's hands at her elbows and holding each of Vala's hands.
She'd closed her eyes and imagined an outcome, felt the shoes tingle and the wand vibrate, and simply clicked. No fireworks, no huge display. A simple change—healing, ending and beginning.
And their eyes had opened in younger faces, their hands had lost wrinkles and liver spots. Bodies regenerated back to something post teen and pre thirties—it really didn't matter.
The Wand of Light and Golden Shoes had been placed in a box where they still sat in the back of the O'Neill's closet. That box had long ago been buried by other boxes. Sam's wedding dress, Jacob's first baby clothes, family pictures, memories.
Her hands stilled on the microwave case. Without realizing it, she'd gotten it back together.
Ruefully, she smiled. She still had it.
The back door banged again and in skipped Hannah. Reddish blond curls, eyes as blue as the ocean, dimples, and a smile that could power the universe. Was it right to be so in love with one's children? Of course, they all freely admitted that Hannah used her powers of cute for evil. The Ori had nothing on this child to enchant devoted followers.
"Hello, Hannah Banana." They'd sworn as they'd named her that they would never call her that. It had taken a note home to her parents for her kindergarten teacher to learn that her real middle name was Grace.
"Hey, Mom." Hannah plopped herself on the stool that Hammond had so recently vacated. "What's this?" She'd glommed onto the text book immediately.
"Jake brought that home from school."
"What's in it?"
"You can read, you figure it out."
Something—karma?—led her to turn right to the page Sam had just been looking at.
"Hey, Mom, it looks like you and Daddy."
The door slammed again and Jack walked in. He crossed to the island and leaned over it. "What looks like Mom and me?"
Hannah pointed to the picture.
"Well, good grief. Will you look at that?" Hannah was uncharacteristically silent as her father looked at the book.
"Jake brought it home from school." Sam plugged the microwave in to see if it would work. It beeped once and then all the winky blinky lights went on. Success.
"They all look really old. They look like you, but old. Really super old."
"Hey, not that old, banana head."
Hannah's expression told him that she clearly didn't agree with him.
"Go get ready for dinner." Sam closed the book again and unplugged the microwave.
Curls danced as their daughter hopped down off the stool and skipped towards the stairs. "Don't do anything gross!" She threw the order over her shoulder.
Jack raised his eyebrows. "Well. She told you." He straightened and rounded the island, watching as Sam replaced the appliance on the counter where it belonged and plugged it in again. She hadn't turned back around when she felt his fingers, then his breath, on the nape of her neck. "Nothing gross," he whispered, before brushing the back of her neck with a kiss.
Sam shivered. How, after eighteen years of marriage, he could still do this to her, she didn't know, but without the counter there to support her, she'd have been a puddle.
The hand on her nape traveled downward, tracing the line of her spine, and hooking briefly in the waistband of her jeans, before laying possessively on her hip. She could feel his breath on her neck, the heat of his body behind her.
See, the magic of the Golden Shoes hadn't been in the manipulation of time, the Wand of Light hadn't manifested its power in rearranging matter.
The magic had been that the Wizard had given them the power to make time matter.
This is what they had saved in all their travels and trials. The possibility of this time. This place. These children. This life. It mattered.
She turned in his arms and smiled. "You know, you really did look old in that picture."
"It was all the gray hair. You said at the time that it made me look distinguished."
Sam grinned, exposing the genes from whence had sprung their daughter's dimples. "I lied."
She nodded. "It's just what women say to really hot guys who just happen to have gray hair."
"Why would such women say such things?"
Sam's expression became one of mock sincerity. She leaned up and whispered in his ear.
Jack fought a grin, but his hand tightened on her hip. "So basically you're saying that women have needs?"
"You know what helps?"
She shook her head. "Enlighten me."
"Picture Harry Maybourne naked."
It still hurt when she whacked him.
It still tingled when he kissed her.
Forehead to forehead, they stood for a long time, amidst the noise of the life they'd made. Caleb banged his spoons on the tray of the high chair, Jacob had turned up the music in his room to cover the sound of Hammond and Mitchell shooting Nerf guns at each other. From the click click click sounds on the stairs, they knew that Hannah was wearing her tap shoes.
The clicking stopped in the doorway, followed by an exaggerated "eeeeew" sound.
"I thought I told you guys no gross stuff."
The clicking passed by them through the kitchen and disappeared into the entry way and out the front door.
"I love you, Carter."
"I love you, too, Sir."