I hold no claim over any character for Stargate, though Aeda is mine, through and through.
A note of caution: This story is sad and depressing, but kind of hopeful in the end. I hope you like it.
A/N: The big sections in Italics are memories.
Aeda has already done this once.
She has already lost someone once and has somehow managed to glue the pieces of her broken heart back together well enough that it worked again. She knew the risks of loving a man with a dangerous job and she made the decision to love him anyway. Maybe a part of her knew that someday he wouldn't come home. Maybe she'd locked that part of her away and had ignored its pleas and had moved on with the life she wanted, the man she wanted.
She crawled into bed on September 13th, a little over a month after they signed the papers and declared him dead and she has not left it for more than an hour at a time. She thinks it's been almost a couple of weeks, but she's lost track of time. Harvard has her listed as "On Sabbatical", though she's unsure if she'll ever go back to her office. There are memories of him everywhere, even in that bright room with all its books and the corduroy blazer he left hanging on her coat rack and forgot all about the last time he visited.
Currently, she has her face turned away from the early morning sunshine that is assaulting her with its autumnal warmth and proclamation of life. She used to love Saturday mornings; especially when they were together and they could lie in bed with Bear at their feet, snoring loudly. Bear is with her now, his head resting on the curve of her hip. She hasn't been very good company to her old friend, she realizes, and vaguely scratches his ears. If only the sun would go away, she reasons, getting out of bed would be easier, but for some reason Boston has endured the longest stretch of beautiful days since August and she's so disgusted with Mother Nature's cheerful disposition that she wants to paint her windows black.
There is a loud and insistent knock on her front door and Bear's head perks up, his ears aware of a vague noise. He, too, is getting older, though the common observer would never see it. He still chases things, still drives her crazy, but his energy is low. She wonders, as he ambles off the bed and into the hallway to investigate, if he can sense the loss they share or if he can simply sense her sadness.
Another knock sounds through her apartment and Bear barks once. "Sshh," she says and he looks at her, his head cocked. "If they hear you, they'll think someone's here." He sneezes, barks again. She narrows her eyes at him. "Traitor," she says as the knocking becomes even more insistent.
She throws the covers back, wraps herself in her robe and pads into the hallway. "Maybe it's a Girl Scout," she says to Bear, "here to sell us cookies."
They both stare at the door in anticipation. The knocking is now accompanied by a voice. "Come on, Aeda, open the door."
It isn't a Girl Scout, she realizes with a frown.
It isn't even her annoyingly chipper paper boy, out to collect his "protection fee", as he so precociously puts it every time he comes by with his little bag full of quarters and dollar bills.
No, it's much worse.
It's Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell, three thousand miles away from home.
She unlocks the door and opens it, takes a step back as Cameron's fist continues to knock at dead air. If she'd been in a better state of mind, she might have thought his dumfounded expression amusing. She might have even laughed. Trouble is, she isn't in a very good state of mind and hasn't been for quite awhile.
"Go away," she says very simply and starts to close the door. He sticks his foot out, catching the door before it can close completely. She frowns at him. "You know me well enough to understand that I'll slam the door on your foot if I have to."
"Aeda.," he says and she hears sadness in his voice, "come on. Let me in."
He looks tired and a little voice in the back of Aeda's head suggests sympathy – Daniel was his friend, too; he lost his friend, too – but she tells it to shut up. She continues to frown at him, but she does, however, let go of the door. She turns, walks away, back towards her bedroom. Bear follows her to the start of the hallway, then sits down and looks back at Cameron as if to say, "just hear him out". She wonders when her dog got to be so smart.
"How long have you been in bed?" Cameron asks as she crawls back into her cocoon of blankets. She watches him as he stands in the doorway to her room, watches him watch her.
"What day is it?"
She does the math in her head. "Two weeks."
She pulls the covers up over her head and wills him away. Eventually, she hears retreating footsteps and she pops up for air.
She remembers their last conversation. He called her just before he headed out, just as he always did when he was leaving for some off-world location. He sounded excited but hesitant at the same time and she worried about him.
"Where are you going?" she asks, a feeling of dread building in the pit of her stomach for some unknown reason. "When will you be back?"
He laughs. "It's a routine fact finding mission. I'll be back by Friday. Plenty of time to make it to Boston for the big birthday celebration."
"I don't care about my birthday," she says and he laughs again. She smiles at the phone. "Okay, so I care a little."
"I'll be there. I promise."
He had promised to be there, but how could he have known he'd be converted into a Prior and eventually killed by some hormonal monstrosity with a penchant for temper tantrums?
He broke his promise and her heart.
It is September 27th and exactly thirty-three days ago Aeda's world stopped spinning.
Cameron's dad has a theory. Nothing can cure a broken heart – that's a given – but Grandma Mitchell's chicken gumbo can sure as hell ease the ache. So, while Aeda pretends to sleep, Cam assesses the state of her cabinets, determines he needs to go shopping, and steals her keys from a basket on the counter. He hooks a leash to Bear's collar and sets off for the corner store.
She's broken. He saw it in her eyes that day at the SGC when they came back without Daniel. When he had handed Dan's dog tags to her, she'd simply taken them and had stared at the Gate. He'd found her that way, two hours later, and had taken her home, to Daniel's apartment.
It has been a little over a month since the funeral, a month since he and Sam and Teal'c boxed up Daniel's belongings and tried to move on. It has also been a month since any of them, General O'Neill included, heard from the pretty raven-haired professor with the sad gray eyes.
Eventually, he called her, just to check up on her. She never answered her phone, never called him back, and some protective instinct kicked in, which is why he's in Boston, walking her dog and searching for a grocery store.
He finds a corner shop, one that knows Bear and Aeda, and gets his ingredients. When they get back to the apartment, he finds that Aeda is really asleep and he closes her bedroom door so he won't disturb her while he cooks. He sets the ingredients out on the counter and takes a deep breath.
He looks down at Bear, who returns his look with a floppy earned doggy grin. Cam smiles slightly. "Looks like it's just you and me, buddy."
Bear, as though he understands what it all means, lays down at Cam's feet and sighs, a heavy and sad sigh. For some reason, that is what breaks him and he slides down to the floor, next to Bear, hangs his head, and allows himself to finally cry.
They are having a picnic in the Commons, children running all around, squealing in the early summer sun. Her shoulder has healed completely and it is on full display in the sundress she put on that morning. Daniel had gone back to Colorado a couple of days after her rescue, when he'd been sure she could fend for herself, but had surprised her with a visit. It is late June and warm – perfect weather for a picnic.
"Have you ever thought about getting married again?" he asks, playing with the hem of her dress.
She smiles at him. "Are you asking me to marry you?"
He shrugs. "Maybe."
She pounces on him, lays the full length of him, their hearts beating against each other. "Well," she says a little breathlessly, "if you are, then I would have to say 'yes'."
"And if I'm not?" he teases, pushing her unruly hair out of her eyes.
"Well, then, obviously, I would have to say 'no'."
"Will you marry me?"
She grins. "I'll have to think about it." He groans in mock frustration, rolls her over so he is on top of her. "You see," she begins, "I'm just too great a thinker…" He kisses her shoulder. "…to make such a hasty…" He kisses her collar bone. "…decision…" He kisses her mouth and her heart stops, as does the flow of words.
He pulls back, looks at her. "Take your time," he says smugly.
She grabs him, pulls him close. "The answer, you maddening twit –"
"Yes, don't interrupt." He has the decency to look chagrined. "The answer is yes."
He slips a ring on her finger, a gorgeous antique ring with a periodot stone – her birthstone. They decide not to tell anyone, to wait until her birthday dinner when everyone will be there and they can share their good news with their closest friends.
It is June 28th.
He will be gone in a little over a month.
She hasn't taken the ring off, nor does she think she ever will.
She stumbles out of the bedroom, lulled by the smell of food and the muted sounds of a baseball game. Cameron is in the kitchen, stirring a huge pot of something red and bubbling. He looks up and smiles slightly when he sees her. "Hungry?" he asks. She nods slightly, slides onto the stool at the counter. He ladles out a bowl and hands it to her. "Chicken gumbo," he says when her eyebrow rises. "My granny's recipe."
She takes a bite. It's hot, but good, and before she knows it, she's eaten all of it and is asking for more. He dishes out another bowl and slides it over to her. "Beer?" he asks and she nods. He goes to the fridge and returns with a Long Trail, which he opens and sets in front of her.
They stay this way – her eating and occasionally drinking; him pretending not to watch her, but the game instead – for almost a half hour. Finally, she pushes the food away, rests the beer bottle on the counter.
"He asked me to marry him," she says and her heart constricts as the words leave her mouth. She doesn't look at him, mostly because she knows she won't be able to bear the sympathy on his face. Instead, she looks into her beer bottle. "We didn't tell anyone. We were going to wait until my birthday dinner." Tears splash onto the counter and she's very afraid that she won't be able to stop now that she's started. "Then he went off and tried to save the goddamn universe and that vile hosebeast of a woman killed him."
She feels him take the bottle from her and she rests her head on the counter. The granite is cool against her forehead. She thinks about the Sunday morning in February when they woke up early and went to the park to make snow angels. He made breakfast that morning and they made love in the kitchen, the smell of coffee and the fireplace surrounding them.
She feels Cam's hand on her back and the sense of touch both hurts and comforts at the same time. It has been a month since she allowed anyone near her, a month since she allowed anyone to touch her.
"I'm sorry," he says, his hand rubbing small circles along her spine. "I'm so, so, sorry." The words are too much. The dam breaks and within seconds she is sobbing.
Cameron gathers her into his arms and lets her cry.
The last time Cameron sees Daniel, they are running through the lower levels of the base. Since Aeda's abduction, Daniel has taken to jogging through the corridors. Every so often, Cameron joins him and they run for an hour or so, up and down the levels. Sometimes, they play basketball in the gym. They used to play ping-pong, but Sam banned it after a line drive from Cameron left her with a welt on an extremely sensitive part of her anatomy.
"I want you to take Falcon and Meyers with you to PX9-087," Cam says as they round the corner of Level 26.
Daniel shakes his head and laughs. "Why is everyone so paranoid about this trip?"
"Maybe because Adria's got a hard on for you that would make a gelding jealous."
Daniel laughs loudly and Cam joins him. They take the stairs, two at a time, and crash through the doors on Level 27, startling a couple of techs.
"I'll be fine, Cam. What could possibly go wrong?"
Cam covers his ears. "I did not just hear you say that. We're in a concrete bunker, Dan – there isn't any wood to knock on."
"God, you're a superstitious bastard," Daniel says with a laugh.
"This coming from an archeologist."
"Good point." He nods, almost to himself. "Fine. I'll take Falcon and Meyers with me."
"Thank you. Aeda would kill me if anything happened to you and I've seen what she can do with a shovel."
At this, Daniel stops and Cameron worries he's offended him.
"What?" Cam asks. Daniel's face holds a serious expression, one that he typically reserves for dire situation involving literal rocks and hard places.
"If anything does happen, anything at all, I want you to promise me something."
Cam scoffs. "Nothing's going to happen, Dan."
Daniel nods. "I know, but just in case." He reaches out and grabs Cam's shoulder, his grip so fiercely it actually hurts. "Promise me you'll give her my tags and tell her I love her, that I always will."
They stand there in the hallway a couple of minutes longer, an unspoken agreement passing between them. The loudspeaker breaks their stance.
"Daniel Jackson to General Landry's office. I repeat, Daniel Jackson to General Landry's office."
Daniel squeezes Cam shoulder. "Thanks for the run. I'll see you in a couple of days."
It is July 25th.
Cam never sees him again.
The Red Sox are losing to the Blue Jays by three runs and the game is almost over. Cam can still hear the water running in the bathroom and for a split second he worries about leaving her alone in there. His worry relaxes as the water shuts off and he hears the shower curtain pull back, it's metal clips scraping against the metal pole. He made her take a shower, mostly so he could change the sheets on her bed and get her into clean clothes.
Sam has called twice, though Cam only answered her first call. He told her that Aeda was up and moving around, though he left out the details about the engagement and the breakdown she appeared to be having. Sam suspected more, he could hear it in her voice, but she let him go with the little information he gave her.
He hears the bathroom door open and catches a glimpse of Aeda as she walks to her room. It reminds him of when she came into the kitchen in her underwear, too helpless to put on her pants and not caring that a room full of people she'd worked with on occasion had seen her half-naked. He smiles, then feels instantly guilty and re-focuses his attention on the ballgame.
He checks his watch. It is just after seven. They ate around three. He wonders if she is hungry again and he shuts off the TV, makes his way down the hallway to her room. He knocks on the door and pushes it open.
She is in bed, wrapped in an Oxford shirt that he knows is Daniel's. She looks up when the door opens and he's amazed at how much better she looks. Her hair is curly, like he remembers it.
"Thanks for changing the sheets," she says.
He shrugs. "Seemed like the right thing to do." He smiles slightly. "Are you hungry?"
She shakes her head. "No, I'm good."
He settles himself into the old leather armchair at the foot of her bed and rests his feet on the edge of the mattress. She watches him.
"What?" he asks softly.
"Why are you here?" It is a simple question, not an accusation, and he's surprised it's taken her this long to ask it.
He sighs. "Because I promised Daniel I'd check on you if anything happened to him."
Her eyes close. "He knew, didn't he?"
It's a question Cameron hasn't asked, mostly because he's afraid that he already knows the answer. He does think that Daniel knew it was all going to work that way and when he dwells on it, he finds himself hating the archeologist for all that he's left behind.
He stands. "I'm going to go set up on the couch. Holler if you need me."
She nods, though her eyes stay closed. He is almost to the door when her voice stops him. "Cam?"
"Can you stay?"
He remembers the month he spent with his sister after her husband was shot down in Iraq. He'd stayed with her, had cooked and cleaned and offered a shoulder to cry on. In the end, the thing she'd told him had been of most comfort was when he'd lied next to her in bed and held her hand.
Aeda would always be Daniel's and for that reason, she would always be Cam's responsibility, his sister.
He crosses the room and crawls into the bed. He lies on his side, facing her, and takes her hand in his.
"The last thing he said to me before he left was that I should tell you he loves you, that he always will no matter what."
She squeezes his hand. "Thank you, Cam."
He brushes a tear from her cheek. "I lost him, too," he says.
"I know and I'm sorry."
Bear nudges the door open and climbs into bed between the two of them. They fall asleep this way.
"Do you, Ms. Aeda Elizabeth Harrison take me, Doctor Daniel Jonathan Jackson to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold forever and ever?"
He waggles his eyebrows at her and she giggles. The sun is filtering in through the windows of her room and they are lying in post-coital bliss. He slips a simple silver band onto her ring finger, where it settles above her engagement ring. They bought the wedding bands yesterday, from a shop on Newbury Street. The decision was an impulsive one, but she's glad they did it, glad they set a date – October 30th – so she can got out and find a dress.
She smiles at him. "I do."
"Do you, Doctor Daniel Jonathan Jackson take me, Dr…" She arcs an eyebrow at him for forgetting she is a doctor as well.
He smirks. "Right, sorry."
She grins and continues. "Dr. Aeda Elizabeth Harrison to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, forever and ever?"
She slips his band down over his knuckle. It fits perfectly.
"That wasn't too hard."
They hold their left hands up, examine the matching rings on their third fingers. "You know we're not legally married, right?" he asks.
"Says who?" she asks, indignant.
"The state of Massachusetts."
She kisses him. "Silly Mass-holes. They take the fun out of everything."
He laughs. "Well, darling, technically it's our wedding night."
"Oh, let's play Scrabble."
"Actually," he says and rolls her over onto her back with a well-placed kiss, "I had other plans."
She revels in the feel of him, takes in his love for her, and wishes the moment would never end. She is his, wholly and completely, forever and ever. "I love you," she says.
"I love you, too. Always."
And she knows, as they lay there, their bodies entwined, that nothing could change the way she feels about him. Not even death.
Morning breaks, beautiful and blue with a furnace of color raging outside her window. The sunlight filters through the window of her room and when it finds her face, she doesn't turn away from it. Instead, she allows the warmth of it to wash over her and she smiles as she thinks of Daniel, thinks of the life she had with him and for the first time in a month, her heart doesn't hurt.
It is September 28th and she can feel the world start spinning again.