Sam sat down on the couch, not really knowing what to do. What she wanted to do, was get out and go some place, any place, else. The house just seemed so empty without her sister's presence. She had prepared herself for when Eli went off to college, but with her sister taking college courses while still in high school, that idea had faded over the last year or so. Thankfully, Eli had thought to write a letter for Willow and Tara. Sam had no idea how she would have explained the girls' sudden disappearance if she hadn't.
"How are you doing, Sammie?" Her father asked, coming out of the guest room.
"It's so empty here without her." Sam admitted, looking a little lost. It had only been a few hours, but it seemed like her sister had already been gone for months. Eli had been the center of her life for so long that now… "I thought I'd be more prepared, since we were originally planning that she go to college out of state, or maybe even out of the country, but then she started getting bored in school and taking those college courses..."
"What college courses?" Jacob asked.
Sam looked at him, startled. "Oh, right, you don't know about those." She shrugged a little sheepishly. "She started taking online college courses."
"While still in high school?" Jacob was astonished. He'd known that she was smart, but hadn't realized that his youngest child was also a genius.
Sam nodded. "She could have graduated a couple of years ago, but she wanted to stay in with Willow, Tara and Jordan. They graduated last year, though. Except for Jordan, who's supposed to graduate this year. Janet and I will have to come up with something about that too. She’s been attending actual classes this year at UC Colorado Springs. All she needs to do is her thesis' and she'll have already have a couple of PhDs."
Jacob was flabbergasted. He had no idea that his youngest daughter was even smarter than his elder daughter. Here was something else that he had missed of their life, like his child's graduation. He had received word of the invitation after returning from a mission, but by then, it had been too late. On one hand, it was just another item on the long list of regrets, but on the other, he was perversely glad that Elizabeth had broken into the SGC files and knew exactly why he'd not been there. If she had even bothered to expect him, that is. Not for the first time, but with increasing frequency of late, he wished that he'd made different choices in that regard. He knew full well how little Elizabeth viewed him as a parent, just as he was not unaware of just how much Jordan Fraiser disliked him.
He recalled how unaffected she’d been when he told her of his close brush with death before his cancer had gone into ‘remission’ thanks to an experimental procedure when he’d begun to attempt to repair the rifts between himself and his children. At the time, he’d associated it with the natural apathy of a teenage who’d learned of a potential tragedy after it was already dealt with. Now, however, he realized that it was more than likely because he was such a transitory stranger in her life, that she would have felt only the vaguest regret if he’d passed away. She probably would have felt more for how it would have affected Sam, maybe even Mark, than for how it would have affected herself.
"Your mom felt the same way when Mark left, even with you still there." Jacob finally told her.
"Do you think mom would be proud of her?" Sam asked a little wistfully.
Jacob sucked in a breath at the ache in his chest at the thought of the pride that he could actually see, in his mind's eye, that would be on his beloved wife's face. "Yeah, Sammie," he croaked out, "she'd be proud." And she'd kick my ass for the mess I've made of this family,
he added quietly to himself. "She'd be so proud of the both of you."
They sat quietly for a little while, then Sam got up and began cleaning the mess that Simmons' men had left of her house, giving her father the opportunity to regain his composure. After a moment, Jacob got up to help her. They worked in silence for a while, and it gave Jacob a chance to really take in his daughters' home. He'd never really spent much time with them. First, consumed with his military career, then after 'blending' with Selmak, he had rarely been allowed to leave the base whenever he found himself back on Earth. Even the few times that he had come here to visit, he had never taken the time to really look around their home.
He came up to a display case and paused. Instead of china or other knickknacks, it was filled with pictures. So many that he had no idea how he'd missed them before. Pictures of Elizabeth and Sam. Pictures of Elizabeth and Mark. Pictures of the three of the together, and some with Mark’s family. There were also pictures of Elizabeth and Jordan, as well as those with the two of them and their friends. He found himself smiling at the photo of what looked like a birthday party with a young Cassandra Fraiser sitting wide eyed before a huge cake surrounded by the others. Except, instead of the overhead banner reading 'Happy Birthday', it said 'Happy Arrival Day'.
Looking around some more, he saw Elizabeth's graduation diploma on the wall, along with a Bachelor’s degree, as well as an Associates degree. There was what looked to be a prom photo of Elizabeth and Jordan, as well with them and all of their friends, including a young man that he didn't recognize.
"That's Alexander Halliwell, Willow's twin brother." Sam said. She'd been watching quietly as he took in the photos of his youngest child's life. Maybe something good will come from this, and he will finally take an interest in knowing Eli. She could only hope.
Next were graduation photos. Pictures of the young group in the caps and gowns, a picture of Elizabeth on stage, apparently giving the Valedictorian's speech. He felt a swelling of pride and a mountain of sadness as he imagined what she might have said. Sam caught the look in his eye.
"We taped the graduation, if you want to see it." She told him, patting him on the shoulder.
Jacob turned to his daughter, for once not reigning in the emotion that he knew was clear on his face. “I’ve been a foolish old man.” He said sadly. Sam shrugged, not really knowing what to say.
He stepped over to her and engulfed her in a hug. “You’ve done good, Sammie. Rebecca would have been so, so very proud of the both of you.”