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Childhood Heroes

By Eleri McCleod

E-mail: elerimc@lycos.com

Rating: G

Category: Episode based

Summary: The most unexpected person gets assigned to the SGC.

Season: Anytime after season 2

Archive: Fanfiction.net, GateWorld, Heliopolis, yes. Anyone else, please ask.

Status: Complete

DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime / Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. No copyright infringement is intended. No money is being made. Original characters are the property of the author. Not to be archived without permission.

Author's notes: Any and all feedback is appreciated, as always.

(c) June 2003, Eleri McCleod

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I recognized Teal'c the instant I saw him. I mean, come on. How many super-sized, muscle-bulging black men with gold emblems seared into their foreheads were there on the planet? Yeah, I guess I had to be stretching it.

With that one glance, I knew why my parents had been left behind and why they couldn't have been told the truth.

But I seem to be getting a little ahead of myself. Sorry. It's a habit I picked up from my dad. He was always so excited about life that he couldn't seem to slow down for the little details. That was Mom's job.

My dad told the most fantastical, unbelievable and wonderful stories. Every night he'd make up some different craziness to tell me, usually about aliens and ray guns. But there was one story he would always return to every couple of months. His face would get all soft and unfocused as if he was remembering something instead of making it up. Of all the things he created for me, that one story never changed. I always thought it was just one of his favorites and so it became mine as well. It got to the point where he would begin the story and I would end it.

Until the day he died it was our special story. I never told it to anyone else, not even Mom, although now I know she'd known about it all along. But over the years the memories of my dad and his wonderful stories faded slowly into the recesses of my mind. Over twenty years had passed since I'd heard his voice and almost half that since I'd even thought about 'our' story. And then I signed into the SGC.

I watched them all silently, remaining a shadow. I saw the care that Jack tried not to let the others see. I saw the quiet strength of Teal'c, Daniel's exuberance and Sam's brilliance. I saw them all together as my parents had so many years ago and knew why they'd made such a big impact on two young hippies heading for one last concert. I now know why it had been my father's favorite story. I also know now that it was all true and not really a story at all.

*****

I took me almost a full month to work up the courage to walk into Major Carter's lab. I'd seen them all around the base, both alone and together, but every time I'd chicken out and scurry off in the other direction.

Today I didn't give myself the chance to back out. With my parent's picture in my pocket I knocked gently on the doorjamb and waited for the other woman to look up. I could tell she recognized me as one of the maintenance crew, but nothing else.

"Can I help you, Sergeant?"

"If you have just a moment, ma'am," I stuttered to a halt, suddenly so nervous my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth.

Major Carter only smiled, the one my mom always said had made her trust the strange blonde woman. "Sure, what do you need?"

"Ma'am," I paused, fingering the precious photo at my side. Now that the moment was actually here, I was frozen. What if I was wrong? What if she didn't remember? What if none of them wanted to be reminded of their meeting? The Major's smile slipped into a concerned frown as the silence grew. Just stick your hand out, dummy, I ordered myself, before she goes to call Doc Frasier. "Do you recognize these people, ma'am?" There, it was done.

She took the photo carefully, her frown shifting from concern to confusion. Something I couldn't name flitted over her face as she raised her eyes to meet mine. "Where'd you get this?" she asked abruptly, motioning with the picture. She almost seemed angry, but I knew that wasn't quite right.

"They're my parents."

All color left the Major's naturally pale features as what I'd said hung in the air. Her gaze searched my features, obviously looking for the resemblance to either figure in the picture. It didn't take long. People have always said that I look just like my mom did. When Major Carter's eyes met mine once again, hers were suspiciously bright. "Jenny's daughter?" the whisper was incredulous. I didn't know what to say to that so I stood dumb before her and simply nodded. The Major glanced down once more, her face shocked stiff. "My God."

An eternity seemed to pass before she burst into motion. Still holding the thirty-year old photo, she waved a hand at me. "Stay there," was thrown out as she made her way quickly to the phone hanging on her lab wall. "Have SG1 report to my lab, please. Thanks." Hanging up, she stared at me once more before quickly crossing the distance separating us. I didn't even have time to think before she wrapped her arms around me in an embrace so fierce I had a hard time breathing.

As my arms came up to return the pressure, a weight lifted off my shoulders. Now I knew. All the time I'd spent working up the courage to speak with her hadn't even been necessary. The warmth of her reaction was almost overwhelming after the doubts that had appeared when I'd first seen them on base. I felt like laughing when she pulled away and held me at arm's length for inspection.

"I can't believe it," she said, a huge grin taking over her face.

"Can't believe what?"

It came from the door, startling us both. Colonel O'Neill entered, followed closely by Doctor Jackson and Teal'c. And here they all were, in the same room as me. I suddenly couldn't breathe again. These were my childhood heroes, one of the best memories of my dad suddenly flesh and blood before me. A lump swelled my throat as they came together around us. Right in front of me. It was really happening.

"She's Jenny and Michael's daughter," Major Carter announced, holding the photo up for inspection. Colonel O'Neill didn't even glance at it. I saw the recognition on his face even as Doctor Jackson took the picture from his teammate. I guess everyone was right after all. I really did look like Mom.

The Colonel simply stared at me as his teammates gathered around Doctor Jackson and the picture. The look on his face was ... pleased, satisfied maybe? It was such an unexpected expression from him that I had trouble placing it. His quiet words threw me back in time to my father's stories about them, about how Jack was going to tell him something important, but Sam had stopped him. I know now why she did it. I wasn't angry with her. In fact, I agreed with what she had done. But it didn't take the sadness out of the knowledge.

"So he made it."

I didn't have to ask what he'd meant. I nodded, receiving a small grin in return as the other three joined us once again. "Yeah, he made it." Sort of. But I didn't go into the details right then. Maybe later, maybe never. It wasn't their fault and telling them would make them feel like they'd failed him. I didn't want that.

"I tried to find him after we got back," Major Carter explained as Doctor Jackson handed me the photo. "But we never knew their last names. Almost three hundred thousand men were drafted in 1969. I never found him."

By the surprised looks on their faces, she hadn't told the rest of SG1 about her efforts. Colonel O'Neill had that funny smile on his face again while Doctor Jackson merely looked stunned. Teal'c, well, I couldn't read anything in his face, but I've been told that was normal for him.

Warmth filled me at the news. They hadn't simply forgotten my parents after they'd made it back home. The members of SG1 had had such a lasting effect on my parents that to learn anything less would have changed everything for me.

We chatted a little longer that day until SG1 was called to the General's office. It seemed SG3 needed help, I learned later. But it wasn't the last time we talked. They had a lot of questions for me and I found I did as well. I told them about my parents, that my dad had died years ago when I was a child and that Mom had left me just last year. But I didn't into details until Jack sat me down one day and finally asked.

It seemed to me that he'd been wanting to know for a long time and just hadn't known how. We sat in the commissary, coffee cups in hand and he just spit it out. I didn't lie to him. Dad had been injured early in 1971, not long before he was due to come home from Vietnam. Just a few more weeks and he would have gotten through without any major damage. But his luck ran out and he lost his right leg in an ambush during a routine patrol.

Surprisingly, my mom had never held any anger toward the military. And because of that, neither did I. She wasn't even upset when I told her I was joining the Air Force. Mom had never seemed to resent the fact that Dad had gotten hurt or that he'd died when I was so young. He used to tell me that she agreed to marry him because no one else would, but I knew he was teasing her when he said it, accepting and making light of his loss. As far back as I can remember they were devoted to each other, missing leg and all.

Jack didn't say anything when I told him. He didn't have to. I read it all in his face. Guilt was plain to see as I laid my hand over his where it rested on the table. I know it must have looked weird for a Technical Sergeant to be touching a Colonel so familiarly, but neither of us cared. "He wouldn't have changed a thing, Jack," I told him, making it purposely personal. He needed to hear that from Michael's daughter, not the Sergeant, of that I was certain. We stared at each other for a long moment before he nodded, the guilt and shadows lessening from his face. Surprisingly, he squeezed my hand once before leaning back and changing the subject.

I don't think he ever told the others what was said between us that day. I know he never broached it again with me. It had been a personal demon of his, one I was grateful to help exorcise. Jack O'Neill cared about people, no matter what front he put on to pretend otherwise. From what my dad had told me, Jack hadn't liked holding his tongue, hadn't liked sending the young hippie off without a warning. For that alone, it was easy to grant him absolution.

*****

I never did become 'one of the group.' I never went to dinner or to barbeques with them. I never joined them for poker nights at the Colonel's. But they never forgot about me either. I know Colonel O'Neill, Jack, kept an eye on me, made sure I had everything I needed for my job at my disposal. He kept me on the 'choice' assignments within the SGC. He also kept me on my toes and working harder than I ever had in my life. And to this day I've never been able to express the gratitude I felt so strongly; he would never allow it. Teal'c and Daniel were silent shadows, watching over me, providing a constant comfort for me in the midst of the chaos of the SGC. And Sam? Sam simply became the role model I looked to when things got tough in the SGC.

The four of them had been my childhood heroes, those fictional characters that had been stranded far from home and had taken a chance on two young hippies with a bus. Now I knew them to be real-life heroes, people who weren't always perfect but always tried to do the right thing.

My parents would have been proud to have known the real them. I know I am.

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This piece is dedicated to the 283,586 men drafted in 1969. Your service and sacrifices will never be forgotten.

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Author's notes: I've been waiting for someone to write a follow-up to "1969" and finally decided to write it myself. If anyone has read any others that deal with Jenny and Michael, please let me know. You'll have my eternal gratitude.

Eleri