"Colonel Samantha Carter, a noted astrophysicist and one of the original members of the legendary SG-1, passed away early yesterday morning due to complications arising from a cerebral stroke." The radio announced. "The sixty-seven-year-old Colonel's work in engineering and astrophysics were integral in bringing to fruition the Stargate Prog..."
Daniel turned off the radio before he looked over at twenty-five-year-old Grace Carter-O'Neill who sat in the backseat. The scientist who had inherited her father's lighthearted nature and her mother's near-genius intelligence had been understandably shocked when he and Teal'c had arrived at the Beta site colony to inform her of her mother's death.
"Nicholas is going to be home for the funeral." Vala began, shaking him out of his thoughts.
Daniel shook his head in warning as he looked at his wife. Their son's arrival for the funeral wouldn't do much to cheer Grace up.
"I mean...the house will be a little fuller, so if you'd like some company..." She continued. "We still have the guest room..."
"I'll go to Mom's house." Grace mumbled.
Vala sighed as she looked over at Daniel, who shrugged. He'd been the only child who had lost his own parents at an early age. He understood what Grace was feeling, even if his memories were somewhat fuzzy about his own orphanage.
The drive was silent. It seemed trivial to ask about her life in the colony. She'd become one of the first colonists to leave Earth in memory of her adventurous father who had died when she was merely seventeen at the ripe age of seventy-five. The heart attack had been sudden and while Daniel, Vala, Teal'c, and Mitchell had been left to reel in shock, Sam had nearly lost her own will to live.
If Grace hadn't been living at home as she finished her high school education and if the subject of colonization hadn't required Sam's scientific expertise and her experience with SG-1, Daniel thought that she probably would have given up.
She'd become a virtual workaholic after Grace went off to college - just like she had been before Grace had been born.
"Daniel, it's this street..." Vala said, pulling him out of his thoughts.
"Right..." He said, shaking his head.
"Are you all right?"
"Fine." He said, dismissively.
She knew better than to ask again. He would tell her when they got home; he was trying to protect Grace from yet another painful reminder that her last remaining parent had just passed away.
He turned into the familiar driveway of the brown building that had begun as Jack's house immediately after his divorce from Sara and that had later served as Sam and Jack's home upon their engagement and later marriage. He turned the car off, and stepped out of the green SUV. He opened Vala's door for her as Grace stepped out of the car with a single suitcase in her hand.
Daniel took the opportunity to study the living testament to his best friends' lives. Grace had become as refined as her mother had been with the humility of her father. Now, the young woman whose shoulder-length hair was brown like her father's had been, but curled like her mother's had been turned her piercing blue eyes upon the house with a sorrow that made her look like she was six years old again, lost in the overwhelming expanse of space.
"Let me take your bag, Grace." He said, taking her roll-aboard suitcase.
He didn't get any protest. He didn't get any response actually.
She led the way up to the front door. She raised her hand as if to knock on the door before she caught herself. Her mother wasn't there to answer the door; nobody was.
"Here's the key." Daniel said, handing her the small keychain which had belonged to her mother.
Grace closed her fingers around the cold metal as she felt a figurative knife go through her heart at the reminder that she was alone in the world.
"Thank you." She managed, looking at the keys, as a small sob was strangled in her throat.
She hesitated before turning and unlocking the door. She walked into the house and instantly memories washed over her.
Christmases in the living room with Mitchell, Teal'c, Vala, Daniel and Nick (after he'd been adopted). Her father's wake. The graduation party that Daniel, Vala, Nick and Cassie had thrown for her after her father's death. Thanksgivings with Uncle Mark, Aunt Leah, Katie, her husband and kids, Logan, his wife and kids, Aunt Marsha, Uncle Sean, and Aunt Lisa.
The living room still smelled the way her mother liked and looked the way her father liked.
"Are you sure you don't want to stay with us?" Vala asked, gently.
"I'll..." She began. "I'll be fine." She managed.
"Are you sure?" Daniel asked, touching her arm sympathetically.
She nodded. "I need...I need to clean it up - get it ready to sell...I can't do that from your house."
"You know where to find us if you need us."
"Your mom's car should still be in the garage."
Grace gave Daniel a small, strained smile which he instantly recognized as one of the expressions she had inherited from her mother.
Daniel wrapped his arms around her in a tight hug. "If you need anything..." He whispered.
"I know." She whispered, tearfully.
"Maybe Teal'c could come and stay here for a few days..." Vala offered as they walked back to the car.
"I'll ask him." He said, thoughtfully. "She needs someone to help her through this..."
"Maybe we should have Nicholas drop in and see how she's really doing..." Vala suggested.
"This is not the time to try your hand at match-making, Vala." He said with a sigh. "She's just lost her mother."
"I wasn't trying to force an agenda on anyone, Daniel. She may enjoy having someone nearer to her own age with whom she can talk about this."
"If he's got time, maybe we can all go and visit her." Daniel sighed.
She nodded, accepting this as an agreeable compromise.
Daniel sighed as he turned the key in the ignition. His heart hurt when he remembered that two of his dearest friends, the closest thing to family he had besides Vala and Nicholas, were now dead. He missed them.