The Visitor by AndromedaMarine

One knock. Two knocks. When the fifth came, a tear slid down her cheek. The unspoken told her everything she didn't want to know. She knew it from the harshness of the raps, and the slow, sorrowful succession of knuckles against wood.

But if I began at the beginning, a book would be too small a space for one to completely understand why she knew the unsaid and why she arranged it so, even hoping that the five raps would never come. But they did, and that was when I fell apart as well.

I hadn't been informed beforehand who was to deliver the news, but somehow my instinct was, interestingly, correct. I didn't want it to come, and even after I heard the echoes I wanted to go back in time and hide in my room until the horror passed. But to no avail.

Slowly she walked toward the door and I saw her trembling hand reach for the knob. As if delaying her meeting with the visitor would make the horrors of reality any less she faltered, allowing herself a moment of peace and hope that perhaps it wasn't what she was dreading, and instead was something entirely different. Perhaps realizing her empty hope (or perhaps not) she twisted the know weakly, and pulled in with what little strength she retained.

Sunlight streamed into our large vestibule – and outlined in the rays was a figure I hadn't seen for almost eleven years.

A sob escaped my mother, and I watched in sadness as her brown, curly hair swung back and forth as she shook her head. The visitor reached out and pulled her into an embrace. He patted her back and smoothed her hair, like all old, good friends are supposed to, and although it seemed awkward for him, he didn't refuse.

Like any person who'd just realized something my heart began to beat faster and faster as the reality struck me between the eyes: my father was dead.

Wells and fountains of tears began to fall, and blindly I found my way next to my mother and the visitor.

My father had only been home perhaps once every two weeks for a few days (longest was four months), but that time was the best spent in my life. I knew my father, unlike many classmates whose father figures had left early in life, had died in a war, or simply took no part in the family. My secret was my father was fighting in the largest war of history – that between the humans and the Wraith of Pegasus. My father had died defending Earth and Atlantis, and that was the proud fact I was required by the President to keep confidential.

For the first five years of my life the visitor had been my uncle, although not related by blood. Then events that, at the time, I didn't understand took place, and suddenly mum and I went from living on Atlantis with Dad to living in a suburban home not five miles from Colorado Springs and Cheyenne Mountain without Dad. I became friends with the son of the O'Neill's, whom Jack and Sam(who now led Atlantis and was only home about once a month) had named Daniel (after the late Dr. Jackson).

Daniel did, in an odd way, remind me of Dr. Jackson, with his glasses and brilliant mind geared toward history... He also reminded me of his parents, both high-ranking Air Force officers deeply involved with the Stargate Program. What disturbed me was I thought of these things while in the embrace of my mother and the visitor.

I saw my father's smiling face in my mind's eye, remembering not a week ago when I went driving into town with him, discussing when I'd be old enough to join him again on Atlantis. I was only sixteen, you know. And in my grief I realized something. I was now the strongest gene-holder on Earth and in Pegasus.

I was obligated to return to my birthplace.

Also in that moment I realized my long, black, and untamable hair would only remind them of him, and maybe IOA wouldn't even allow me passage. I realized I would see the visitor every day.

He was my father's best friend, and perhaps even his confidant as well, when my mother wasn't within reach. He was there when he died. Suddenly I couldn't bear to be near the sorrowful doctor; I began to blame him for General Sheppard's death. And I told myself I could never return, or leave Daniel and my seven-months-pregnant mother here. Already I was where I belonged. Angry, I began to yell at him, and threw punches fueled by the anger, and neither he nor my mother attempted to restrain my wild blows. I knew I couldn't hurt him.

The sad expression on his aging face brought me back to reality, where I could hit no more, and I clung to my estranged uncle like I could never let go; an anchor in the turbulent waters of tragedy.

"Bring him back," I gasped, unable to accept the death of my father. I knew the full truth: just by the visitor being here I knew John hadn't ascended.

He stayed with us for ten days.

The visitor gave us the summons that both my mother and I return to Atlantis, accompanied by General O'Neill and Daniel. All my dreams had been crushed and fulfilled at the same time. We were offered a chance to return home. To Atlantis.

In the end we accepted.

In the event of the worst tragedy, we were returning to Atlantis. All because of five measured raps on a wooden door.

Daniel and I eventually married, and I saw the visitor, Dr. Meredith Rodney McKay, every day until the day he died.