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Purls of Wisdom

by Christi

Post-Rites of Passage

Cassie stood gazing at the week’s worth of homework spread across her bed and let out a long sigh. In theory, a week away from high school and teenage angst and boy drama while getting to do cool things like manipulate magnetic fields sounded awesome.

In reality, you just ended up with a nasty lingering headache and a small mountain of make up work.

As a knock sounded on her door, she added a handful of overprotective and definitely freaking out parental-types to that list of unfortunate side effects. “Yeah?”

The door opened a crack and Janet poked her head into the room. “Hey, Mom.”

The greeting brought a smile to Janet’s face as she stepped all the way into the room. “Hey. How are you feeling?”

Cassie shrugged, climbing onto her bed. “Fine. A little headache. Nothing horrible.”

Janet’s hand was cool as she pressed it against Cassie’s forehead. “Well, your fever’s still down.”

That much, Cassie was well aware of – Janet hadn’t let her leave the constant care and supervision of the SGC Infirmary until her temperature had been normal for twenty-four hours. Not that being home was much better, of course. Still an over worried doctor, still too much schoolwork, and still more visitors than any teenage girl should have to cope with.

Of course, there was the food. The food was definitely an improvement.

At that thought, Cassie had to smile at herself.

“What’s so funny?” Janet to asked.

“Oh, nothing,” Cassie replied. “I was just thinking that I’ve definitely been spending too much time with Jack.”

“Is that a hint?” a new voice asked from the doorway.

Sure enough, when she turned to look, Jack’s face was peering into the room, a quizzical expression on his face. “I don’t really bother with hints,” she pointed out with a short laugh.

“Fair enough,” Jack agreed, and with that reassurance, he came all the way into the room, an awkwardly shaped package wrapped in newspaper under one arm and his hands in his pockets. “I’ll have you know that I’m quite the role model,” he added.

“I’ll be sure to take notes if I need hints on how best to kill politicians and get away with it,” Cassie retorted.

“Oh, that’s really more Carter’s area. She can teach you to kill ‘em with science and stuff. I just shoot them.”

“Not exactly stealthy.”

“And yet, strangely effective.”

She had to laugh again – because really, what else could you do? Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Janet silently slipping out of the room, but it wasn’t until the door had firmly clicked into place that Jack tossed the package at Cassie’s head. “Here.”

She examined the bundle. “Wow, I’m wrap-in-comics worthy?”

“Only the best for you, kid.”

Ripping apart the paper, the (predictably) knitted gift was not at all what she expected. Instead of the usual hat or scarf with bobbles and fringe on it, there lay a carefully folded blanket nestled into the newspaper. The little-girl pink he usually used for her had been replaced with deep purples and greens and blues all wrapped into a delicate lace.

More than a little shocked, Cassie looked up into Jack’s eyes, which were doing their best to avoid her gaze. “It’s…not pink.”

He shrugged with feigned nonchalance. “I thought you might be getting tired of it.”

Well, yes. But…. “You’re the only one I would let get away with it.”

That finally put a smile on his face – as much as Jack ever smiled, anyway. “Good to know.”

“Not that I’m complaining,” she clarified, wrapping her fingers through the holes in the lacework. “This is…amazing.”

Another shrug was his first response. “Well, it was supposed to be a birthday present. Then everything happened and well….”

“Yeah,” she whispered, looking down at the blanket once again before throwing it over her shoulders and pulling it close. “You know, my mom wore these colors a lot,” she mused out loud. “My real mom, I mean.”

“Ah. Right,” Jack acknowledged, shuffling a bit on his feet.

She shook her head, clearing her thoughts. “Sorry. I guess she’s just on my mind since…going back and everything. It was strange, being back there. It made me miss things that I thought I had forgotten about. Stupid things, like the tune my mom hummed under her breath or the way my grandmother’s kitchen smelled.”

“What does an alien kitchen smell like?” Jack asked. “I’ve always wondered.”

“Mmm,” Cassie snuggled deeper into the blanket, “like kitchens here, really. Except not at all. I don’t know, it’s stupid.”

“It’s not stupid, Cass.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” She shrugged the blanket off again, restless. “Does it ever happen to you, though – you’re just living life and suddenly there’s a sound or a smell or someone who looks just a little like…” Cassie’s gaze shifted, “And suddenly it’s all just there, even when you’ve gone ages and ages without thinking about everything?”

Jack’s sigh was heavy. “Cassie, I’m not…I mean, I just don’t think…” seemingly at a loss, he finally just stuck with a bald admission, “I never go ages and ages without thinking about everything.”

“Oh,” she muttered, finally looking back up at him and belatedly noticing how strange he looked – gray and desperate to be away from this conversation. “I’m sorry,” she ventured. “I didn’t mean to….”

He tried to make it all seem like nothing, putting on that strange sort of face when he purposely wasn’t telling her something. For once, she let him. “It’s fine. Are you okay?”

No, not exactly. “Sure.”

On some subjects, even Cassie knew her limits with Jack, and she had just jumped over and then up and down on a few of them. “Thank you for the blanket.”

“Any time, kid. Happy birthday.”

He left a few minutes later, a tightness to his shoulders and a quicker pace than she was used to seeing as he head out the door.

Shit, she had upset him. She hadn’t meant to – she honestly hadn’t meant to say any of it. She knew – hell, everyone knew – that Jack was not one to talk about the past. It was just that she couldn’t seem to help it right now.

Luckily, her next timely visitor was Daniel and he loved talking about the past. He was accompanied by Teal’c, of course, being his usual chauffeur. “Hey guys.”

“Cassandra Fraiser,” Teal’c greeted her solemnly. “We have brought you flowers.”

Flowers seemed to be a Daniel and Teal’c specialty, as they had brought her a bouquet of something or other every time they came to visit. She was pretty sure that Teal’c had gotten the idea that they were required. Not that she was complaining – it was sweet, really.

Today’s bouquet was a bunch of Gerber daisies in shades bright enough to rival the neon colors of Teal’c’s Hawaiian shirt collection. The happy little yellow centers made her smile. “Thanks.”

Daniel shrugged, pushing up his glasses absentmindedly. “How are you?”

With Daniel, that was never just a passing question – Daniel always actually wanted to know. “I’ve been better. But I’ve been worse, too. I just stepped in it with Jack, though.”

“I doubt that – he’d let you get away with just about anything.”

She grimaced. “I brought up…well, the past.”

They both knew what that meant in reference to Jack and winced. Well, Daniel did. Teal’c just nodded his head, but Cassie figured that was the Jaffa version of a wince. “It was an accident more than anything,” she quickly offered. “I was just telling him that since going back to Hanka, I keep remembering stuff and asked him if…well, anyway, I think it upset him.”

“He’ll get over it,” Daniel assured her. “Next time you see him, it’ll be like it never happened.”

Gotta love the magic of a determined mind. Of course, that didn’t exactly solve her problem. “Well, that’s good anyway.”

In another situation, with other people, she might have felt alone. But with these two? The possibility never really existed. “It’s okay to be thinking about Hanka,” Daniel assured her, resting a comforting hand on her arm.

“It was your first home,” Teal’c announced. “Your family was there. Is it not a huge part of who you are?”

Considering the events of the past week or so, Cassie thought that trying to deny that question was a bit useless. “I suppose. I guess it’s just that I usually try not to think about it. There’s only so much you can handle at a time, you know?”

Of course they knew. Daniel had lost his parents, his wife, his adopted home. And Teal’c…well, he had gone one step further and voluntarily given it all up. If anyone could understand how she felt right now, it was these two. “But being back there was hard,” she admitted. “Not to mention, how I’m supposed to feel about owing my life the very woman who’s responsible for the destruction of my entire planet? She killed everyone, and somehow, I survive not once, but twice.” Her voice dropped to an almost-whisper. “What the hell makes me so special?”

“You are not,” Teal’c answered. Trust a Jaffa to spare you unnecessary platitudes. “Death does not choose. It simply is.”

Daniel, who seemed a bit irked by Teal’c’s blunt answer, smiled sheepishly. “I think what Teal’c means is that none of this is your fault.”

Somehow, Cassie thought that Teal’c meant exactly what he said – and actually, it helped. Before she could correct Daniel, though, another knock on the door interrupted them.

“Room for one more?” Sam asked.

“Always,” Cassie nodded with a smile.

With that encouragement, Sam came in and sat right next to her on the bed without hesitation. It was amazing how much her presence helped Cassie’s mood. When it came right down to it…well...Jack was the only father figure she’d ever known. Daniel and Teal’c were the best uncles a girl could ask for. And Janet was her mother, even when it drove them both nuts. But Sam?

Sam had stayed with Cassie even when it meant her own death. And that…that was hard to top.

“You’re popular today, hmm?” Sam asked.

“So it seems,” Cassie admitted, laying back on the hospital bed.

“We should be going, though,” Daniel interjected as he and Teal’c headed toward the door. “I promised Teal’c a trip to the museum.”

It was really remarkable how excited Teal’c didn’t look. “Have fun, guys,” Cassie called after them. “And thanks.”

They both nodded as slipped through the door.

“Thanks?” Sam asked with a quizzical expression.

“Oh, they were helping me sort out some stuff.”

“Ah. Stuff that still needs to be sorted?”

Probably was the honest answer, but Cassie really didn’t feel like dwelling on it all right now. “Maybe later?”

“Fair enough,” Sam allowed. “Talk about something else?”

“Yes, please,” Cassie replied gratefully.

“No problem. So…tell me about this guy.”

The choice in topic shouldn’t have taken her by surprise, but it did. “Who, Dominic?”

Sam nudged her gently. “Is that his name?”

“Oh, he’s just a guy,” Cassie clarified.

“Is there such a thing as ‘just a guy’ when you’re fifteen?” Sam wondered.

Not really. “He’s a nice guy,” Cassie hedged. “Mom told me that he’s the one who’s been bringing my homework over for me, even though he’s not in all of my classes.”

“Well, that is nice,” Sam allowed.

“Yeah,” Cassie admitted, horrified to discover that she was blushing a little.

“Seems pretty clear that he likes you. Do you like him?”


Next to Cassie, the bed shook with Sam’s chuckles. “Okay, okay. I’ll lay off. I’m just saying…I think this is good.”

“You do?” Cassie asked, surprised. “Because you weren’t acting like….”

Sam shrugged. “I can overreact sometimes. Still, if he ends up hanging around, I know we’d all like to meet him.”

“Yeah, because that won’t be horrifying at all,” Cassie pointed out.

“You’ll get over it,” Sam assured her with a laugh.

“Are you sure?” Cassie joked, glad to be talking about something that wasn’t genetic experimentation or planetary genocide.

“Positive,” Sam confirmed. “Now, I am going to go and let you sleep some, okay? Janet’s been pacing down the hall every five minutes since I came in.”

“Oh, she started way before you got here,” Cassie assured her cheerfully.

Sam stood, rolling her eyes. “Be nice, Cass. She loves you a lot, you know.”

Thinking of everything she’d put Janet through the past week, Cassie swallowed. “Yeah, I know.”

With that, Sam was out the door too, leaving Cassie alone with a pile of homework and a sudden case of insomnia. After a good half hour or so of tossing and turning, she sighed. “Hey Mom?”

Almost immediately, Janet was at the door. “Yeah?”

“Stop lurking out in the hallway and come in here,” Cassie ordered with a small smile.

Looking sheepish, Janet did, sitting down at the side of her bed. “You need anything?”

“Just you,” Cassie answered honestly.

The expression on Janet’s face was worth the effort, and before Cassie knew it, Janet was snuggled under the covers next to her, settling her head on her shoulder. “You didn’t have to stay outside, you know,” Cassie pointed out.

“I just thought you’d feel a little less claustrophobic if I wasn’t around,” Janet clarified.

“Mom, I just had four over-protective-adult visitors in less than an hour. If I couldn’t handle overbearing types, I’d be dead by now.”

The arm around her tightened briefly. “Not funny,” Janet warned. “But point taken.”

“Sorry,” Cassie muttered, snuggling closer. “Mom?”


“All those horrible things I said to you?” Cassie ventured. “I didn’t mean them.”

“I know,” Janet assured her with a smile.

Relief spread through her. “I love you,” Cassie whispered.

The kiss Janet placed along her hairline was so light she could hardly feel it, but it was one of the best feelings Cassie could imagine. “I know that, too.”

Content with that, she burrowed a little further into Janet’s shoulder and finally fell asleep.

I love Cassie. That is all.

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