Sam had been avoiding the room all afternoon. If she never crossed that threshold then she could maybe – just maybe – believe that it had never happened. But the time for desperate delusions had passed. She would have to go in eventually, and there was no way she'd walk in that room for the first time with Cassie at her side.
For what felt like the first time in the SGC's history, the infirmary was completely quiet. There were no patients, no soft blipping of machines or monitors. No soft tapping of sensible pumps across the hard surface of the floor. It was a vacuum of a room, and Sam felt herself being sucked in harder with each passing second.
There was only one occupied bed which Sam approached, her stomach clenched and her palms itching. She stood at the foot of the bed feeling completely out of place. There was nothing for her fingers to play with – the medical chart being conspicuously absent. She had no cookies or grapes to thrust awkwardly into waiting hands. There was no small but determined doctor circling, saying that under no circumstances would the patient be leaving, working, or consuming caffeine.
In the whole time Janet had been the doctor at the SGC she'd never been the patient – not like this. But here she was, laid out still and calm. The bedside lights kindly lent her skin some artificial colour, but did very little to hide the blue tinge to her still lips. Their doctor had fallen. And no one – no one – would be able to put her back together again.
Sam lowered herself into the chair beside the bed. She hated this chair, hated the way it had long ago moulded to her form. She had sat here while her friends had endured plaster, stitches, comas – even death. But unlike Daniel, she didn't think Janet would be coming back.
Even as she moved to slip her fingers into Janet's hand, she had not been prepared for the shocking coldness of her friend's skin. She knew death came to everyone, she had seen more than her share – but it didn't seem right for this happen. Janet was supposed to be safe, untouchable. Janet led the life Sam couldn't. She wasn't supposed to die.
Feeling the tears start to prick the back of her eyes she forced them back, ordered them away. She wouldn't cry, not here. That would come later, alone in her bed. Right now she had a job to do. She always had a job to do.
Cassie knocked on the infirmary door when she arrived – that in itself a sign of her distress. The Hankan people had an open community – knocking wasn't necessary. It had been one of the harder Earth customs to instil in Cassie, and even now she rarely remembered. Not in places like this, places where she had run the halls, spent hours holding court on an infirmary bed, alternating between homework and debating with Siler in the next bed. This room was just as much a home to her as Janet's house had been. And now she knocked. This was not a room she wanted to be granted access to.
She crept forward with steps slower that even Sam's had been, and Sam was glad for having cut her tears off at the pass. It was her turn to be strong for Cassie now. Her turn to be her mother in the growing line of mothers the young girl – young lady, now - had had. Reaching the bed, Cassie almost seemed surprised to have run out of steps to take, and she turned out her hand to run her fingers over Janet's still arm. An arm that had hugged her, comforted her, scolded her. Janet had given Cassie a life, a home, and now she too was gone.
Sam sat still and quiet, allowing Cassie her moment to say goodbye; she off all people knew what that was like. She could see the emotions crossing over Cassie's rich brown eyes – their depth normally so warm now turned cold and shaking. Circling the bed, she came and deposited herself in Sam's lap like the child she once was. The fact that she was quickly reaching Sam's own height – having surpassed Janet years ago, made no difference. Cassie wrapped Sam's arms around her all the same, slipping her own between them to retrieve Janet's hand, pulling it over to rest with them.
With her head nestled into the crook of Sam's, Cassie's words where muffled when they came, but Sam caught them in the silence of the room. "Was she brave?"
She smoothed back Cassie's hair, laying a soft kiss on the top of her head, whispering with her cheek resting against her. "Yes Cass, she was very brave."