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Thicker Than Water

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Summary: Hank Landry has only just began to repair his relationship with his daughter. An unexpected letter tells him that may not be the hardest relationship he has to work on.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Xander-Centered > Theme: Xander's Real FamilyMidknightJFR1536,51437826,40914 Sep 0810 Dec 08No

Father and Daughter

Disclaimer: I'm poor. I own nothing

Doctor Carolyn Lam didn’t think anything could surprise her anymore.

When her parents had gotten divorced it was a shock. Even as a chid she could notice the tension between them, though she couldn’t yet understand it, and she regularly played with a girl who’s parents had split but she never imagined it could happen to her own. Her naïve young mind thought nothing else could ever surprise her again.

She couldn’t hold onto that childish notion after she began work at the CDC. The awe and destructive power of things so small would forever be etched upon her brain. And she thought “what could possibly be more of a shock than the reality of the job the first time you fail to save a life?”

She got her answer when she was briefed on the Stargate Program and made its new chief medical officer. After that she believed this was it, nothing could possibly be a greater surprise than aliens and spaceships and other worlds; nothing could shake her world as much as this.

Carolyn was just proven wrong.

“Brother?” she said, her voice oddly even.

Hank simply nodded at her, not trusting his voice at the moment. He hadn’t really said much of anything since arriving at her apartment. Not that it was a surprise really, as a general he almost always had something to say but as a father he often fond himself at a loss . She told herself it didn’t bother her anymore.

He did try to say something when he first arrived. After a few minutes fumbling for the right words he dropped onto the couch and pulled out a letter. Carolyn had never seen him so anxious as when he handed it over.

“Brother?” she said again, an edge creeping into her voice.

Again Hank nodded.

“Brother?!” Carolyn finally exclaimed and from the look in her father’s eyes she could tell he had been expecting it. She didn’t care.

“How do you even know any of this is true?” she asked the question that had been churning in her mind. “It could be some sort of scam you know. Some woman you had a fling with twenty years ago suddenly contacts you out of the blue and tells you that you have a son and you just take her word for it?”

“I’m not,” he told her once he held her gaze. “But if she wanted something it’s unlikely Jessica would have waited two decades to contact me. She would have shown up in person or at least called. It’s a lot harder to scam someone with a letter.

“Right now I’m inclined to at least consider the possibility,” Hank finished, choosing his last words carefully.

“I’ll believe it when I see the DNA results!” Carolyn spat angrily. Then the anger was gone and Carolyn deflated. She sank heavily into an armchair, closed her eyes and ran both hands over her face and through her hair. “God this is so screwed up.”

After a long moment she raised her head up to look at her father. “Have you even really thought about this Dad?”

“It’s all I’ve thought about since I got the letter. I came straight over as soon as I had enough sense back to drive.”

Carolyn had to admit, even if only to herself, that softened the blow somewhat. Her relationship with her father had been strained since he and her mother divorced. So much so that she nearly didn’t take the job at the mountain when it was offered. It was him who made the effort to try and spend time with her and fix things. Efforts she continually rebuffed.

It wasn’t until the Ori plague spread across the Earth that she began to understand how hard it must have been on him all those years when she had to lie to her own mother. The truth was classified and she just didn’t have the clearance. It wasn’t until she nearly lost her father to the plague that she began to make an effort too.

It was still a work in progress.

“Who is she Dad?” she asked uncertain if she really wanted an answer. Even after all these years it was still difficult to imagine him with someone who wasn’t her mother.

Then Carolyn finally took in her father’s appearance. All her life she was used to seeing him strong and in control. Even during the divorce she never saw him falter. Now he looked so tired. She would never admit how much that unnerved her.

“It… it was almost two years after you mother and I…” Hank started hesitantly and Carolyn felt a little better at that. At least he was uncomfortable with this too. “I was stationed in San Francisco. Shortly after I arrived I met Jessica.”

He got a small, almost wistful, smile on his face and gave a soft chuckle. “She forced me to have fun again. It’s not something I’d had much of. At that point I’d been living in a funk and mostly going through the motions since…” Hank dropped his gaze away from her. “Well you know.”

And she did. As much as Carolyn wanted him to continue she let her father collect himself. The divorce was still a sore point for both of them. If she was honest with herself she needed the time to stuff down the resentment him mentioning it always brought up. Just because she was trying to mend things did not mean it always came easy.

After a long moment he looked back up at her.

“We moved in together,” he told her. “We were together for six months and we were happy.” A pensive expression came over his face. “At least I thought we both were. Sure I was on assignment a lot but she never said anything about it.”

Hank shook his head at himself. “I should have learnt my lesson after your mother.”

“What happened?” she asked though Carolyn already had a good idea of the answer.

“I came home one day and she was gone. No note, no explanation; just gone. I never knew what happened.” He paused and gestured to the letter still in her lap. “Until tonight anyway.”

Carolyn bit her lip and asked the question she wasn’t sure she actually wanted an answer too. “Did you love her?”

She could tell he was giving it real thought, apparently wanting to give her a genuine answer and not sugarcoat the truth for her. It wouldn’t do to lie at this point anyway.

“I cared for her more than I had thought I could care for someone again,” he said finally, looking her straight in the eyes with an intense look in his own. Then the moment was broken and he sighed heavily. “But no, I wasn’t in love with her. Could I have? Maybe, one day. I don’t know. I never will.”

His head flopped against the back of the coach and he gave a bitter chuckle. “Two women I cared for leaving me in only a few years? I just couldn’t go through that again. So I just didn’t date much after that. Still don’t really.”

Looking at him now Carolyn knew she had never seen her father so open with her. It warmed her and unnerved her at the same time. She just wished she knew what to say.

Minutes ticked by but neither spoke. Both were lost in their own thoughts. It couldn’t last forever though and it was Carolyn who eventually broke the silence. Awkwardly she asked. “Are you going to call him? Alexander I mean.”

Hank leaned forward and clasped his hands in his lap. “Carolyn, the postmark was Sunnydale.”

She stared at him confused for a moment. Why did that name sound familiar? “I know that name from somewhere.”

Her father nodded. His eyes took on a haunted look Carolyn had never seen in them before. Involuntarily she felt her heart plummet.

“The sinkhole Carolyn,” he told her. “It’s been all over the news the last couple weeks. Sunnydale was swallowed by a freak sinkhole. The entire town. All of it. I don’t even know if Alexander is still alive.”

Carolyn gasped. It surprised her how disturbed she was at the thought of having lost a brother she wasn’t convinced she actually had.

“What are you going to do?”

She saw the resolve and strength she was used to seeing start to return as his lips drew into a tight line. “Look for him, Carolyn. No matter what I end up finding I’m going to look for him.”

With a grunt born of frustration Hank slammed down the phone. As soon as he arrived at the mountain he barricaded himself in his office with explicit instructions not to be disturbed unless it was an emergency. All day he had the phone practically glued to his ear. He called everyone in the area he could think of. Relief centres set up for Sunnydale refugees, those working in the rescue efforts; he even called around to the various hotels and motels.

He was no closer to any answers then he had been the day before.

Turning to his computer Hank brought up a travel site and booked a flight to LA. If he couldn’t get answers on the phone he would go down and look himself. Colonel Carter could handle things at the SGC for a week or two.

“Unscheduled off-world activation.” Hank looked up at the sound of Walter’s voice over the speaker. With a sigh he pushed his chair out and hoped this wasn’t something that would cause him to miss his flight.

Carolyn walked into her office, an air of professionalism surrounding her. She dropped a pile of folders on her desk as she sat down and opened the top one. After a moment she opened a second and began comparing the two.

This was a new one. Not even when she got her clearance to know what went on in the mountain did she ever think she would end up doing work-ups of more than one of the same person. That was exactly what she was doing when a second SG-1 team came through the gate earlier.

To her credit Carolyn tried vigilantly to concentrate on her work; she really did. Almost of their own accord her eyes kept drifting over to her computer and the file she had acquired first thing that morning but had yet to bring herself to open.

With a frustrated click of her tongue Carolyn gave in and closed the folders. She grabbed her mouse and brought up the file, intending for a quick peek to sate her curiosity and get back to work.

It didn’t happen that way.

By the time she made it through the preteen years of Alexander’s medical records her jaw was clenched tightly and face an angry red.

There were some drawbacks to running one of the most classified projects in the world.

Unfortunately a potential threat to the entire multi-verse, and boy did that boggle his mind, had to take precedence over personal matters. Jack said there would be days like this. Bastard.

By the time they were able to fix the tear, or ripple or whatever Carter had said it was, and finally send all the alternate SG-1 teams home there were well over a dozen of them and rapidly approaching two.

Landry was just glad it was over.

It had been a trying few days and with everything going on he hadn’t had time to sleep let alone spend more than a few minutes at a time in his office.

His muscles relaxed gratefully as he sank into his chair, a small groan escaping his lips. Hank closed his eyes and let his whole body and mind unwind, but only for a moment. As comfortable as his chair was he would regret it in the morning if he fell asleep at his desk.

When he opened his eyes his gaze fell on his phone. A light was blinking on it. Hank picked up the receiver and punched in his voicemail code. Most he ignored, demands for updates on the alternate reality situation, but the last one caught his attention. He sat up straight, all traces of tiredness gone as he listened intently. He replayed it three more times before finally hanging up.

Hank closed his eyes again and pinched the bridge of his nose. A new tension was setting in but at the same time he was relieved.

On the plus side he now knew Alexander was alive. On the other hand, why the hell was he going to Africa?
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