A/N: This story has been an incredible ride and I thank all that has taken it with me. It's hard to say goodbye to a story that I've been working on so long, but it is also cathartic as well. Enjoy the last piece of this tale.
About seven years later
Jennifer watched as a seven year old Meredith had her head buried deep in a book. Treasure Island to be exact. It was a couple of reading grade levels above her, but for a child genius it was no problem. After several failed attempts to get the child's attention, the mother had to resort to yelling. It was not something Jennifer liked to do often, but the girl was exactly like her namesake when she was focused on something.
"What, Mom?" Meredith continued to read. Her blue eyes rolled, unseen by her mother.
"Put the book down. We are here to have fun. We came to the park for a picnic. You'll have plenty of time to finish the book when we get home." The mid April day was the first warm day in Colorado Springs after an unusually harsh winter.
"For me, this is fun." Further proof she was a mini-Rodney.
"Nice try, Mer," Jennifer shook her head and reached across the picnic table for the book.
Meredith sighed heavily as she gave up the book. "Fine," she was upset her fun was ruined. "What are we going to do now?"
"How about we just talk."
"It's just the two of us. Why bother?" The precocious child whined, drawing out the last word.
Jennifer was about to respond when she was drawn to the familiar voice calling her name. Her eyes narrowed and her face scrunched into a scowl when she saw her father standing behind Meredith. The smug look of Carl's face angered the woman a great deal. She had not spoken to the man since the fight before Meredith was born. Jennifer had sent him a picture when Meredith was a few days old, but she never heard back. "What are you doing here?" There was hope that Carl was here to apologize for not being there for her wedding, not responding to the picture she sent after Meredith was born and that he was willing to admit he was wrong about Rodney.
"I had a meeting at Peterson and I have to go back in a few hours. I thought I would enjoy this nice day," Carl looked at his granddaughter who looked at him with an odd look.
"Oh," Jennifer's face fell. So much for being here for her. There were days where it hurt not having her father in her life, but it was his own doing. Then there were the most days that she would not change her life for anything.
Carl gave the area a quick sweep and there was no sign of the man he knew would eventually break his daughter's heart. "Looks like I was right," the smugness was so thick it was almost suffocating.
"Excuse me?" Jennifer was clearly confused. It took a moment to get what he was hinting at. "Oh..." It was time to have a little fun with Carl and let him think he was right. "I bet you are pretty pleased with yourself?"
Knowing he was right did not really make Carl feel any better. He had warned Jennifer years ago to save her the heartbreak when the arrogant scientist walked out on her. He frowned when he saw no wedding rings on Jennifer's hand. "I'm sorry." The words were a little too late to do any good. "How long ago did the ass walk out?"
"You know what is a bad word," Meredith pointed at the man. "You shouldn't say that word."
Jennifer lowered her head and sighed deeply.
Carl saw the shame on her face and knew a lecture was the last thing Jennifer needed. He wanted to put the years aside and be there for his only daughter in a time of need.
Jennifer raised her head and let him see the hint of tears in her eyes, "He left five minutes ago...for the bathroom." Now it was her turn for a smug smirk and to dry the fake tears. A little over dramatic, but well deserved.
"I...I just thought. She said it was just you two and..."
"And what? You find it hard to believe you were wrong? Well you were wrong. Dead wrong." She no longer hid the contempt she had for her father.
Carl never liked having his mistakes thrown in his face even if it was from his only offspring. "Shouldn't you be wearing a ring?" He needed to find a way to prove he was right all along.
"You don't give up, do you? You always have to be right?" Jennifer snarled. "My fingers are swollen," she stood up to show what was previously hidden under the table. "Things like that tend to happen when you are seven months pregnant with twins." She laid her hand over her stomach and sat back down, smug that she was right all this time and so far had seven and a half years of a great life with Rodney and their family. "Don't have anything to say now?"
Carl was truly speechless for the first time in his life. There was all the proof that he had been wrong about the arrogant scientist he first met in Russia. He had not grown tired of married life with children and was about to welcome two more.
A small blur ran past Carl and plopped itself next to his daughter. A boy with messy light brown hair, dark blue eyes and lips stained blue with traces of the color on his cheeks looked like he needed to be cleaned up quickly before his face became more of a sticky mess.
"Sam, wait up!" Rodney jogged up seconds later. The boy was named after the woman who helped deliver him while stuck in an elevator in the SGC. Sam was the little anomaly in Jennifer's blood work at Kramer Innovations. They had wanted to wait another year before having a second child and the year and a half spacing between the two made for some hectic times.
He paused when he saw his absent father-in-law and quickly moved to his wife's side. "Everything okay?"
"Just fine," Jennifer squeezed his hand.
"Did you know..."
"What do you want?" Rodney was ready to protect his family at all costs even if old ghosts tried to come back for haunting. He was not going to cut Carl any slack for walking out of Jennifer's life and never contacting her once. The man ignored them when the then new parents send pictures of Meredith after she was born. Only a stubborn and petty person could ignore that.
"Nothing. I did not even know you moved here. I should have left you alone. I will be going now." Stubborn pride got in the way asking for forgiveness and wanting to be in their lives. Life did not always have happy endings and Carl has resigned himself to being forever alone. "Enjoy your life," it was the closest Carl would offer as an apology and those would be the last words he would speak to Jennifer and her family. His head hung a little lower as he walked away.
"No. Wait. Don't go...On second thought go." Jennifer realized in a way her father was right when he said people don't change as he became the perfect example. "We don't need you." The words stabbed Jennifer in the gut. She did not need the negativity that Carl brought with him. Even family ties needed to be severed on occasion.
Carl paused for a moment and was about to say something, but hearing that his daughter did not need him hurt more than he expected and yet he knew he deserved that treatment.
"Who was that man, Mom?"
"I don't know, Mer. It doesn't matter." That was not entirely true. Jennifer was living her happily ever after and nothing, not even ghosts from the past, were going to take that away.
More harsh words to wound. After Carl put enough distance between himself and the McKay family he turned and watched them acting like the family he had always wanted for Jennifer. "I was wrong. I'm sorry," he uttered the words to himself. He was happy that his little girl had the life she always wanted, but his arrogance kept him from telling her so. Temper gets you into trouble and pride keeps you there. No better words could describe Carl Keller.