"Sustaining," Sam's eyes were dark and cold, "I want them to live to remember everything they miss and I want them to die remembering."
When the six of them arrived back at the SGC, no one said a word. Esther wheeled herself to the room she had been given to use at the SGC. When she got to the door, she looked at the key in her hand, then up at the slot far above her head. She looked down the corridor both ways, seeing only a SF on duty.
Choosing not to bother him, she released the card from her grasp and used her telekinesis to open the door – right as Ry'ac turned the corner.
"Esther? What!" he shouted as she started to close the door. Esther left the door open and wheeled herself next to the bed, waiting for the Jaffa to enter her room.
"How did you do that?" he asked as he shut the door.
Esther smiled apprehensively; for some reason, she cared what this man thought. "I'm telekinetic. I can move things with my mind – I just have to be able to see them."
Ry'ac accepted this with a nod. That seemed plausible enough; after all, he was a Jaffa and had heard of far stranger things than a girl being able to move things with her mind. It was real magic – not the trickery the Goa'uld used.
"So…how do you like Earth?" Esther asked after a pregnant silence engulfed the room for a few minutes.
Ry'ac bowed his head, "Your planet is very…diverse."
She snorted, "That's the nice way of saying we have a lot of stuff that you don't agree with and a lot of different religions when your planet only has one."
A faint smile appeared on his face, "That is one way of putting it. Your world has many good things that mine lacks, but mine has far less evil."
"Evil is in the eye of the beholder."
"Not so. Evil is a deliberate action that harms others physically, mentally or spiritually. The actions themselves cannot change from being evil or not – but the reasons behind them can change."
"Is that your way of telling me that even though my father has killed and done many evil things it doesn't mean he's evil?"
"No. Anyway, I don't blame my father for what's happened to me. I put the blame where it belongs – with Pete."
Sam knocked on Jack's office door, surprised when the SF told her that was where she'd find him.
"Come!" she heard the muffled bark from inside the door.
She opened it up and peered inside. Jack was sitting behind his desk…doing paperwork? Sam blinked in confusion, thinking her eyes were deceiving her. "Jack…"
"Yeah, Sam?" he said without looking up.
"Have you seen Esther?"
"She's in her room, why?"
"Just wondering. Hey, wanna go out to dinner tonight with Dad, the kids and me?"
At that, Jack looked up. "What?"
Sam smiled slightly, and said with a sigh, "Dinner, tonight, me, Dad, the kids?"
"That's what I thought you said."
"So? You coming?"
Jack grimaced, "Do I have a choice?"
"Not if you don't want to wake up singing soprano tomorrow."
The General was aghast with horror, "Fine. When are we leaving?"
"In fifteen minutes," Sam said with a smirk. Once upon a time it would have been Jack telling her that it was dinnertime and therefore time to stop working.
"Let's go get the kids, then."
Esther laughed in a way she hadn't done for as long as she could remember. It felt nice to be able to just forget who she was supposed to be and just be herself. Ry'ac let her do just that. They had only met a few hours before, but she already felt like she'd known him for years – and he'd known her for years.
Ry'ac, himself, had similar feelings of exhalation and freedom. Ever since his mother had died, he'd never been very comfortable in the company of a woman besides Major Carter. They all reminded him too much of what he'd missed. But when he was with this girl, Esther, he felt like he was whole again.
There was a knock on the door and before either of them could move from sitting so close together, Sam and Jack walked in.
Esther's cheeks went red with embarrassment as she watched her father and mother survey the situation. Jack looked between Esther and Ry'ac, his eyes staying with the latter, "Somethin' you want to tell us?"
Ry'ac looked at Jack with his father's infamous blank stare, "I do not believe so, General O'Neill. Esther and I were just discussing different aspects of Earth culture that we find humorous and absurd."
Sam tried to suppress her smirk, but did a poor job of it; within a few seconds both Jack and Sam were doubled over in laughter.
Esther couldn't help but smile as she chastised her parents, "What's so funny?"
Jack continued to laugh as he said, "Both of you! Oh, God, that's funny. I just don't think we expected you to make friends with a Jaffa, that's all."
Ry'ac did not take this comment lightly, "What is wrong with the Jaffa, O'Neill?"
"Nothing, Ry'ac," Jack said, sobering up quickly along with Sam. "It's just that with who Esther is…well, you two are complete opposites, that's all."
Ry'ac raised his eyebrow (a trait he picked up from his father); "So are you and Dr. Carter, O'Neill."
"Ow," Esther said as she felt the prodding of fingers on her sore back. "That's hurts, Aunt Janet!"
Janet winced in sympathy as her fingers continued to work, "Sorry, Esther, but this is the only way for me to see how bad the surface damage is. I wasn't there when you got the scar – how am I supposed to know how to fix it?"
Esther growled low and primal in her throat, glad beyond belief that her parents had taken both of her siblings to the Beta Site for this doctor's visit. She preferred going through the embarrassment alone – with no one who could pity her.
"Let me try," the deep voice of a symbiote said from the doorway.
Esther was pinned down on the bed by Janet's hand, but she could hear the shock in Janet's voice as she said, "Selmak. I didn't know you were still here."
This time it was Jacob who answered, "I'm sorry, Dr. Fraiser, I thought you knew I was staying until Saturday. Now, is there anything my symbiote and I can do to help my granddaughter recover from her injury?"
Janet was hesitant to acquiesce to Selmak and Jacob's request, but when Esther made the decision for her, she had little choice but to comply.
Jacob put the healing device on his hand and turned it on, looking over his granddaughter's injuries. Selmak inwardly mourned for what the girl had gone through, telling Jacob that it was a good thing Pete was in the hands of Ba'al. Pete was lucky Selmak and Jacob had been on a mission when the trial was held.
A short eternity later, the hand device turned off and Esther did the first thing she wanted to try: she sat up. Her eyes were wide with relief and joy as she recognized the absence of the pain that had been with her so long.
"Grandpa," she said tearfully as she got off the bed and hugged him tight. "Thank you," she whispered into his ear.
Jacob was too emotional to answer. First; General Hammond told him that they'd finally found Sam – and she had three nearly grown children. Then; Jack tells him that Sam and the kids had gone through hell and back at the hands of this scumbag, Pete. Next; he was reunited with his daughter after sixteen years of separation while at the same time meeting his three grandchildren. Finally; he saw and healed the physical injuries inflicted by Pete onto Esther's body. And she was grateful. It was just too much for the old Tok'ra symbiote and host to handle.
"I hear The Land of Light is nice this time of year," Jack said conversationally one night, a few months after they had returned to the SGC, while he and Sam were roaming the halls of the SGC long after their healing children were asleep.
Sam acted interested, "Oh, really?"
Jack kept up the game, "Yes. I hear it's a very nice place to hold all types of parties: birthday parties, anniversary parties,…engagement parties."
Sam stopped dead in her tracks, trying to figure out what the man in front of her was really saying. "What?"
Despite protests from his aging knees, Jack knelt down before Sam and fished out the ring box he'd purchased seventeen years before to give to the woman in front of him. "Samantha Carter? Will you marry me?"
Sam looked down at the ring, then back up at Jack, tears in her eyes as she realized the implications of all he was asking her. She opened her mouth to respond but only a croak came out.
Jack quickly reassured her, "Before you say anything, I just want you to know that I've already asked your dad, your brother, Teal'c, Daniel, JJ, Esther, Abby and General Hammond. All of them told me to go for it…so now I'm asking you. Marry me."
Sam smiled through her tears, "Yes," she said as she flung herself into Jack's awaiting arms. "Oh, God, yes!"
It was there, in the dimly lit halls of the SGC, at some godforsaken hour of the night when Dr. Samantha Carter and General Jack O'Neill decided not to be foolish concerning love any more.
A/N: So? What think you all? Don't worry, I am planning a sequel, but it may be a while. I'm still working on Conception, but time to write is very scarce now that I'm nearing TESTING TIME! Ah! Eeek! Arg! And any and all other weird onomanopeitic words that would apply.