This fic is dedicated to my good friend Ginger Ninja as an extreeeemely late birthday gift. Love ya, Gin!
One Chance, One Face, One Life
By: Koorino Megumi
Contains major spoilers for Heroes: Part 2 (Season 7), along with references to Enigma (Season 1), In the Line of Duty (Season 2), Rite of Passage (Season 5), and Meridian (Season 5).
Cassie Fraiser knew all about danger. After all, how could she not? She'd been just a little kid when every single person on her world-except her-had been murdered for the sole purpose of setting a trap for Earth. And then she'd gotten ill and had to go through the ordeal of being a human bomb-literally-and almost destroying the very planet that had saved her. Of course, things had gotten progressively better after that. She'd met her mother, Sam, Jack-everyone. She'd gotten to grow up in a happy home, albeit one that was often rather lonely, as much as her mother worked. But while danger hadn't quite left her alone-leave it to a Goa'uld System Lord to mess with your genes and try to get you killed later-things had been relatively peaceful.
She'd always known it could happen, though. She'd known the sort of situations her mother could potentially walk into before she'd even met her-she'd been in one of them herself! Even so, it wasn't enough for her to say that. Her mother, Sam, all of SG-1, everyone she knew from the SGC-they'd been all right in the end every time. Even after Sam had seemed to become a Goa'uld, even after that time her mother had been gone for three days straight because Daniel was dying, things had still turned out just fine. So when she'd gotten the news... Well, shocked wasn't quite the word for it. Disbelieving, distraught, horrified...
She was doing her job. She was saving someone else, like always-except, for the first time, she took a hit.
It had never happened before. All those years, and it had never happened before. But the first time, the wound had been too much.
They'd told her they'd done everything. They'd said the wound was so serious that her mother herself, if it had been inflicted on someone else, couldn't have saved the life. Cassie didn't believe that, though. If it had been someone other than her mother, the woman would have done everything she could-she'd have made it all right! But when her mother had needed help, no one had been there to help her.
No, that wasn't true. Sam had said that Daniel had seen it. He'd gotten a medic as quickly as he could; he'd done everything he could think of to help. She didn't doubt those words either. She knew Daniel; she knew Sam; she knew they wouldn't have let her mother go if there had been a way to save her. But why-why did doctors have to face such an ultimate irony? They could save so many people, and the one time-the one time-they needed to be saved, no one would be able to do it.
Honestly, when Sam had called to tell Cassie that Daniel had something he wanted her to see, she'd been glad. Sam had already told her everything she knew about what had happened, but if Daniel had been there to see it... Regardless of what he had to show her, she had questions for him.
What was she doing, exactly, right when it happened? Did she have a chance to say anything? What...was it like?
Maybe the first question was unnecessary, though. Cassie already knew the answer-Janet Fraiser had been saving someone at the moment that she'd died. She was always saving someone, no matter what they said, no matter how reluctant they were to be helped. Cassie'd had firsthand experience in that regard. Knowing her mother had gotten to save one last life made her glad; she would be proud of her forever, and she would never have any reason to hesitate if anyone ever asked anything about her. Because even if the details were classified, Janet Fraiser had been a doctor in the military, and it only took a few words to express the way she'd lived her life.
It made Cassie sad, too, though. She wished she'd had more time with her, that she'd done more to pay her mother back for everything the woman had done for her. And...that they'd had fewer arguments, especially over petty things. Her boyfriend, how late she was staying out at night... Those words she remembered yelling in anger now recoiled like a whip to sting the one who'd spoken them as every issue turned to a frivolity in her mind.
But Cassie was a strong girl. She'd been told that her whole life, ever since the horrific experience that had brought her here, and even before that, back on her old home. And Janet Fraiser had spent her life trying to make it possible for other people to happily live theirs. Cassie wouldn't ruin that by wasting all her time angsting over the woman's death.
Didn't mean she wasn't sad, though. Didn't mean she wouldn't take a little comfort or reassurance. And so here she was, entering Stargate Command for the first time in a long time, headed to the office of Doctor Daniel Jackson to hear what he had to say and ask him her questions.
The door was open when she got there, and she stepped inside a little nervously. Daniel's office was just the sort of cluttered place Cassie had expected, filled with books, artifacts, and...a fish tank. The last was a nice touch, really-something that wasn't musty, covered in dust, or otherwise inanimate. She looked at the fish for a moment, watching them swim around, and couldn't help but think about when she'd still been little and her mother had bought her fish only for the overzealous young girl to overfeed them and kill them within the space of a week. A discouraging endeavor, to say the least, especially considering the value Janet Fraiser put on life. But the woman hadn't been home to monitor the fish herself, and, well...Cassie had liked watching the fish eat, and when Jack had come to visit and started feeding them right after she'd already done the same, it just hadn't seemed worth stopping him.
Discouraging endeavor maybe, but a memory that they had laughed at many times afterwards. Shouldn't she still be able to now?
"Cassie!" came Daniel's surprised voice, "I didn't hear you come in." She turned to find that he was looking up at her from some old, damaged-looking documents that he had been poring over. He had a magnifying glass in one hand and several enormous books that had to be dictionaries covering the desk around him.
"Sam said you wanted to see me," Cassie replied, striding over to the desk, the fish tank quickly forgotten.
Daniel hesitated. Somehow this didn't surprise her. "How are you doing?" he finally asked, his tone a little nervous and strained.
Somehow "fine" didn't feel like an appropriate answer. A shrug then. "It's been a while since I've been here," she commented idly.
"Has it? Oh, you weren't here after the illness, were you? Unless you came while I was gone..."
She almost laughed. Leave it to Daniel to be scatterbrained and distracted at a time when her stomach was busily tying itself into knots. "I haven't. But you wanted me to come, didn't you?"
"Yes! I...well, you know I was...there, right?" A nod. "I'm not sure if you'll want to, especially...so soon. But...well, I always bring a video camera with me on missions. I don't know if you knew that... And..."
Her stomach did a flip. Could he really be telling her what she thought he was? Because if he was...
He couldn't have been filming when it happened. Daniel wouldn't do that!
He must have seen the horror in her eyes, or maybe it was just the thought of what he'd witnessed that caused it, but Daniel frowned, sadness visible in his expression, and his tone grew subdued. "I thought I should give you the chance to see it if you wanted to. You already know about what we do here, so I got it okayed by General Hammond. It's not pretty, but...I think it's Janet at her best."
Of course it is. She was always helping people. How can that ever look anything but heroic?
Cassie wasn't sure what to say, though. It would answer her questions, but did she really want to see that? After all, didn't people try to remember their loved ones from when they were alive and active? Did she really want the last she saw of her mother to be this tape of her death? There were enough faces of dead loved ones in her memories already-they were people she only faintly remembered, but the images refused to fade away.
But if Daniel wants me to see it, there has to be a reason. Something about the tape must make him think it's worth it. And if I say no now, I may never get another chance.
Daniel blinked at her for a second, probably surprised by her quick and certain answer. "All right. If you're sure?" he verified.
No response was necessary; the determined look on her face answered the question for her. Minutes later she was in front of a monitor, and Daniel was setting the tape up to play, his hands shaking as he did so. But he didn't leave her alone. Instead, he sat down next to her, but he kept his eyes downcast.
"Okay, you tell her yourself..."
There was a man there first-it was a close-up on his face. He was injured and clearly thought he wasn't going to make it.
So this is why. He wanted to tape his last words. I can see why he did that...
But as the man cried for the video to be turned off so his family wouldn't see him die, her mother suddenly became the focus, and Cassie's breath caught in her throat.
"Simon! Simon, look at me! You are not going to die, okay? I have not come all the way out here for nothing. Now we're gonna stem the bleeding, we're gonna get you on a stretcher, and we're gonna get you home with your family in no time, okay? Now you hang in there, airman!"
It was her. Every word was the woman who Cassie knew and admired, the mother who she loved. The speech was short but perfect-it was what her mother did. And then...explosion. A scream. Yells for a medic, and finally...one look at her mother's face.
Cassie gasped, her hands flying to her mouth, a cry of horror muffled by her palms. She hardly realized it as Daniel put an arm around her shoulders. He didn't say anything, or at least not anything that she heard.
That was it. That was how it happened. She was giving another man hope, saving his life physically and mentally.
"Thank you," she heard herself murmuring, lowering her hand even as tears began to course down her face. "You're right." A sob came out despite her attempts to choke it back. "It was...her."
Daniel murmured in assent beside her, tightening his arm around her. "Janet...was amazing," he stated, "There was no else like her. She did so much for so many people, Cassie, and they'll never forget her."
"I know," Cassie replied, wiping her eyes, trying to get her emotions under control. Why was she crying? Yes, the image had been horrific, but she had already known how the video was going to end. She should be thinking about what she had just gained.
But I knew everything I was going to see beforehand. Mom was just like that. But still...I am glad. Now I can tell everyone exactly what she was doing. And...I got to see her save one more person. That must have made her happy.
The tears and sobs gone, Cassie pulled away from Daniel's arm and stood. Firmly, she repeated, "I know." Then, a wistful smile on her face, "Thank you." And then she left the SGC.