Author's Notes:- It's finished. I can't believe it.
Thanks to everyone who reviewed and gave me encouragement to finish it and a huge thanks to my fabulous beta Stonedtoad for betaing and words of support.
"What made you become a counsellor?" Elizabeth asked as she sat with Sara sorting through the files Sara had been given to start work on her new job.
Sara gave a soft sigh, "My son, Charlie died in an accident. Both Jack and I fell apart and drifted apart. We divorced and not long after that I met a man called Eric Barlow who had lost his daughter many years ago. He told me about a help group so I went along. After a few months I started working with newer members and the woman in charge suggested I train," Sara shrugged, "And here I am."
Elizabeth smiled, "You must be good if you've been asked to do this."
Sara rolled her eyes, "Or I'm madder than anyone else."
Elizabeth returned to sorting files for each separate section of the SGC into alphabetical order.
"Thanks for helping," Sara said, "It's nice to have help with this."
"It gives me something to do," Elizabeth told her, "I hate waiting like this, not knowing what's going on."
"You get used to it," Sara squeezed the younger woman's arm, "Why don't we go get something to eat?"
"That is a great idea," Elizabeth announced.
As they walked through the corridors Elizabeth noticed her shadow still walking nearby making her smile a little. Entering the commissary they found Kelly already there having lunch, Elizabeth grabbed herself something before sitting down across from her baby sister who was wolfing down her food.
"You know food tastes better if you chew it," Elizabeth teased making Sara laugh as she sat beside them.
"I want to get back to studying," Kelly told her, "Mom made me come and eat while she went to talk to the General."
"Again?" Elizabeth asked, "He can't have any more information than the last time she talked to him."
Kelly shrugged, "Maybe it makes her feel like she's doing something."
"I can understand that," Elizabeth said, "I'm happily sorting files at the moment."
"Mom told me nothing but positive thinking," Kelly told her sister.
Elizabeth nodded, "As much as I hate that saying, she's right."
"I wonder what they'll tell Maria," Kelly mused, "I mean, will they tell her the truth?"
"They'll have to," Elizabeth replied, "She's experiencing it all and Maria's not dumb."
"Not usually," Kelly sniggered.
"What did I miss?" Sara asked.
"Maria's foray into being a dumb blonde," Elizabeth explained, "No offence."
"None taken," Sara smiled, "A friend of mine once said blonde is a state of mind. So what happened?"
"It was when she started her course," Elizabeth started, "One of the guys in her group was such a chauvinist who kept insisting that woman were useless at everything but housework."
"Not something Maria would take," Sara noted, "What did she do?"
"She did the wide-eyed, not a thought in her head act on him," Kelly grinned, "He was so sure he was top of their class. Maria not only beat him by a huge margin but she went onto win the academic awards too. Then she dropped the act."
They all laughed but their laughter died out as they all remembered the danger Maria was in, Elizabeth took Kelly's hand.
"I'm sure they'll find and protect her," Elizabeth said, "Daniel won't let anything happen to her."
Maria felt Daniel pull her behind him as Osiris grinned aiming the staff weapon at them.
"How heroic," Osiris mocked Daniel, "Caring for your sister. You do know I'll kill her after I've killed you?"
"No, I don't think so," Daniel said just before a zat blast hit Osiris, "You took your time."
Sam smiled, "Sorry."
"Maria," Adam called making them jump.
"Dad?" Maria dropped down beside her father, Daniel at her side.
"I'm sorry," Adam told her, "For everything. I am so proud of you Maria but you were so like him."
"Who?" Maria whispered, completely confused fighting back tears.
"Daniel," Adam winced as the pain flowed through his body, "So like the little boy whose Mother I stole. I wanted to tell her so many times but I couldn't and as time went on it got harder and I took it out on you. I'm sorry, tell her I'm sorry."
"I will," Maria's tears streamed along her cheeks freely as she held her father's hand.
"I love you so much Maria. Tell your sisters I love them too," Adam said before grimacing, "Go. He's coming back. Go."
Maria felt Daniel wrap an arm around her waist pulling her to a stand and away from her father before dragging her through the corridors. Jack and Steven joined them as they ran.
"How long?" Daniel asked.
"C4 blows in three minutes," Jack told him, "Carter is 'Dad' ready to go?"
"Ready and waiting," Sam called leading them out to the ship.
"Wow," Steven gasped seeing the Teltac.
"Move now, admire later," Jack pushed him inside making sure Daniel and Maria were safely onboard before getting on himself.
"Dad go," Sam yelled.
Jacob expertly piloted them away from the planet being the only witness to the base's explosion.
Daniel sat Maria down wrapping a blanket around her shoulders.
"Are you okay?" Daniel asked worriedly.
"It's strange," Maria whispered.
Daniel rubbed her arm, "What is?"
"That for the first time in my life I wish my father was here," her tears stared to fall and Daniel pulled her into a tight embrace rocking her.
"You're safe," Daniel assured her, "Mom is waiting for us."
Maria pulled away from him, "Daniel?"
"What the hell has been going on?" she cried.
Daniel took a deep breath before he explained everything to her. From him opening the Stargate, to Abydos and Ra, to Sha're, to the Goa'uld and the Tok'ra.
"Wow," Maria finally managed to say.
"That pretty much covers it," Daniel replied with a slight laugh.
"And the others know about this?" Maria asked.
"We told Mom so we could recruit her to work with us and we had to tell Elizabeth to stop her running a story an old friend of hers was going to run before he was killed," Daniel explained, "She found the story and we had to tell her. When you were taken we had to explain to Kelly and Sara."
"Sara?" Maria gasped, "She's okay? I thought…I saw…"
"Sara managed to call Jack, that's how we found out what happened," Daniel explained, "You look really tired. Try get some rest. We should reach the planet we're heading to in about two hours."
Maria nodded resting down on the bunk feeling Daniel place his jacket beneath her head as a pillow, closing her eyes she relaxed and fell into a deep sleep.
"Hey," Steven said softly as he saw Maria waking up, "How you feeling?"
"Tired," she sighed sitting up beside him, "But glad we're going home."
"Me too," Steven leaned back against the wall, "Did Daniel tell you everything?"
Maria nodded, "And how are you dealing with the Golden Boy's theories being proven?"
"That wasn't fair," Steven replied, before giving a snort of amusement, "It's kind of ironic that he's had it all proved and can't tell anyone."
"Yeah," Maria sighed, "So, what are you going to do now?"
Steven shrugged, "Probably go back and finish writing the book I was doing. Make some money out of it and try and forget this ever happened."
"Seriously?" Maria asked.
Steven laughed, "Seriously I don't know," he told her, "But, I hope you keep in touch."
"I will," Maria smiled softly leaning against him closing her eyes, "If you will."
"Definitely," Steven replied.
Jack watched Daniel watch his sister and friend together.
"Is she okay?" Jack asked.
"She will be," Daniel turned to his friend, "Do we know if Osiris and Isis are dead?"
"Well it's pretty unlikely they managed to get out of there before the C4 blew," Jack told him, "But considering how many times we've thought Apophis dead…"
"Good point," Daniel sighed, "Speaking of good points I thought you were meant to be keeping Osiris busy?"
"Oops," Jack shrugged making his friend roll his eyes.
"I just want to get home and let Mom know we're both safe," Daniel said.
"Let's see," Jack mused, "That's your mother, three sisters and my ex-wife now know about the SGC along with Carter's Dad. Nothing like a family business eh?"
Daniel laughed as Jacob called to them.
"Here we are," Jacob said, "You go back to Earth, I've got to go see the Tok'ra Council and let them know about the possible new Goulds in case they somehow managed to escape."
"Good," Jack told him, "Let's take our wayward kids home."
Elizabeth was sitting still sorting out files while Sara was talking with Hammond and her mother. Simmons was sitting working with her; she'd got a bit annoyed by him just standing hovering around.
She looked up confused as her name was called.
"You're wanted in the Gateroom," Simmons told her, "That will probably be SG1 returning."
She was out of her seat instantly jogging along beside her shadow finding her mother and Kelly already standing there waiting with Sara, Hammond and Janet there also.
"It's them," Kelly grinned as Elizabeth joined them.
"Do we know if Maria's okay?" Elizabeth demanded.
"We don't know yet," Claire whispered taking Elizabeth's hand as she held Kelly's with her other hand.
"Chevron Seven locked," the technician called, "Its SG1's IDC code."
"Open the Iris," Hammond ordered.
They all gasped slightly as the Iris rolled back revealing the blue water like surface, the first to step through was Daniel his arm wrapped around Maria's shoulders followed closely by the others.
"Maria," Claire cried catching her daughter in her arms the moment they stepped off the ramp, "Oh you're safe," Claire squeezed her even tighter.
"Mom I have to breathe," Maria whispered making Claire smile to hear her daughter's quick wit finally she released her.
The moment Claire let go of Maria Elizabeth and Kelly converged on her the three sisters held each other tightly as Claire moved to her son.
"I told you I'd get her back," Daniel said softly as Claire hugged him.
"Thank you Danny," she murmured.
Janet finally stepped in and ordered Maria, Steven and SG1 to the infirmary. Daniel squeezed his mother's arm as he led Maria away from them.
"Hey," Jack appeared in the small office Sara was using, "I hear you're taking the job."
She turned and smiled at him, "Three things made me say yes."
"Really," he leaned against the wall, "What were they?"
"Well first of all I'm my own boss more or less," Sara told him, "General Hammond and I are working out how it will work but I'll be separate from the usual medical staff."
"Sounds smart," Jack grinned.
"Two, I'm setting this up from scratch," Sara smiled, "I love a challenge."
"So what's three?" Jack asked.
Sara smiled walking over to him and kissed him before she left the room, "Guess," she called over her shoulder.
Maria sat cross-legged on the bed waiting for Janet to start her tests. She'd done SG1 first to get rid of them quickly and was now turning her attention to Maria and Steven.
"Hey," Elizabeth appeared at her side.
"Hey," Maria replied quietly.
"Are you okay?" her big sister asked worriedly.
Maria licked her lips as tears formed in her eyes, "Dad…he…he…"
"I know about the Goa'uld," Elizabeth told her, "Dad had one inside him."
"Yeah," Maria whispered, "But, before…as we were…" Maria closed her eyes tightly fighting against the tears, "He told me he was proud of me and that he loved me. And he loved you and Kelly. And Mom," her tears flowed down her cheeks, "Why couldn't have said it all before? Why?"
Elizabeth wrapped her arms around Maria rocking her, "Shh. It's okay."
A few moments later Claire arrived and took Elizabeth's place rocking her middle daughter until she had finished crying.
"Dad said he loved you," Maria whispered to her mother, "And how sorry he was he stole you from Daniel."
"You can tell me everything later," Claire told her.
Maria nodded burying her head against her mother's shoulder and sighing.
Daniel stood at the bottom of the ramp waiting. A smile touched his lips when he saw the two men emerge from the event horizon.
"Kasuf, Skaara," he greeted them with a smile, "It's good to see you."
"You are looking well Good Son," Kasuf said as he hugged Daniel.
"So are you Good Father," Daniel smiled before he turned to his brother, "You're looking good too Skaara."
Skaara shrugged, "And this surprises you?"
"You spent far too much time around Jack," Daniel told him.
"So are we finally going to get to meet your mother?" Kasuf asked.
Daniel laughed, "Our doctor has to do several tests on your health before we can leave the base."
"Of course," Kasuf said, "Let us go so we can get to your party."
"I think you may have gone overboard Mom," Maria noted as she looked at the gifts Claire had bought for Daniel, "Though I'm not complaining about the cake."
"Go and annoy someone else," Claire ordered, "I think Jack was looking for help."
Maria grimaced, "I think I'll go talk to Steven."
Claire smiled as Maria went to join Steven who was watching the barbecue while Jack went for more food, the past few weeks as Maria had come to terms with everything that had happened Claire had noticed her withdrawing from everyone. She was glad to see Maria making jokes again.
"It's a hard thing to get over," Jack came over to Claire.
"Sometimes I think she's the same as always," Claire sighed, "And then…will she ever be the same again?"
"All you have to do is look at your son to see that people can bounce back from horrible things," Jack told her, "Speaking of, where is the birthday boy?"
Daniel took a deep breath as he stepped out of the car with Kasuf and Skaara to see his mother and sisters appear waiting to meet the other part of his family.
"Hey Mom," Daniel smiled, "Em…this is Kasuf, my…father-in-law and his son Skaara. Kasuf, Skaara this is my mother Claire Jackson and my sisters Elizabeth, Maria and Kelly."
"It is an honour to meet you," Kasuf said to Claire taking her hand.
"And you," Claire smiled, "Daniel's told me a lot about you."
"You have many stories about Daniel?" Elizabeth asked Skaara.
Skaara grinned, "Lots."
Elizabeth grinned back, "Come with us."
Daniel took a seat beside Maria handing her a drink, "Gold bar for them?"
"Your thoughts," Daniel explained, "I didn't think anything less than a gold bar could pay for such weighty musings."
"It's been a strange few…well months," Maria gave a weak laugh.
"How are you feeling about everything that happened?" Daniel asked.
"I don't know," she sighed, "How do you cope with everything?"
Daniel gave a wry smile, "I bury it at the back of my mind stored under, 'never think about again'."
"How?" Maria's voice was hoarse.
"A lot of practice," he admitted, "Sara's setting up the new counsellor service. Maybe you should talk to her. Or I'm always here for you."
"We'll see," Maria sighed.
"Not to mention Steven is there for you," Daniel added slyly.
Maria shrugged, "He's heading back to Chicago soon."
"It's not that far away," Daniel said softly.
"Not as far as the rest of your family are," Maria teased slightly.
Daniel laughed, "What do you think of them?"
"I like them," she smiled, "They think a lot of you."
Daniel smiled, "They are wonderful people."
"I don't know how you do it," Maria smiled, "But even people you don't get along with have a soft spot for you."
Daniel frowned, "What?"
Maria laughed, "Steven thinks a lot of you. But if you tell him I said that I will deny every word."
Daniel gave her a one-armed hug, "Are you sure you're okay?"
Maria squeezed his hand, "I will be. I'm going to get something to eat."
Daniel sat back watching his entire family all together. He watched Teal'c, Janet and Cassie as they talked to Elizabeth, Sam and Hammond had caught Maria and Steven in conversation while Sara and Jack were talking together, finally Kelly and his mother were standing with Kasuf and Skaara.
Watching them Daniel smiled, he moved over and joined his mother and Kasuf.
He wasn't alone anymore.