Sam Went Walking By
Don’t own Stargate, nor Supernatural…bugger.AN:
And the ‘aye’s have it. Since I got more review (read ‘votes’) for WtWR, here it is. Don’t worry though; Option B
is definitely in the planning stages for afterwards.
In “The Devil You Know”, Sam remembered that she’d forgiven her father after her mother died and that if she hadn’t Sam never would have joined the Stargate programme. As you can see, I’ve taken it a little further…
Sam stepped out of the old silver Volvo and wondered how this could be the same house she’d grown up in.
Well, now, that wasn’t entirely fair, or true. She hadn’t grown up…anywhere, really. Her family had always been nomadic, always followed her father’s career. But this house…this house had been the one her mother had bought for herself all those years ago when they had once moved to the Springs.
“It’s a place I could put roots down, sweetie. It’s a place I’d love to call home.”
It was the place Sam had been determined to call home after her mother had died. After the crash…she hadn’t spoken to her father for a month and a half, and when she finally did, it was to make demands. She still remembered stepping lightly into the kitchen, examining him with almost clinical interest as he sat at the table with his head hanging over his curled hands.
Face blank, tears spent, she’d simply begun to speak, laying out what she wanted to do, and offering no compromise.
Jacob Carter had gazed back at his daughter and slowly nodded his weary head.
So, up she’d got and off she’d gone to her mother’s house in Colorado Springs. Her father had paid her living utilities and sent her an allowance for food and household expenses. Sam, already tall for her age, had taken her mother’s clothes with her and salvaged what she could from them to supplement her own insubstantial wardrobe until she could get an after-school job.
In high school, she was the gawky girl in old clothes who lived alone and spent her lunch hour with her nose in text books the size of paving stones. The first three months or so had been…awkward.
That was when she’d met Jan.
Janet Hays had been her opposite in many ways; small, rambunctious, velvet-eyed and outspoken. For Sam, then shy and unsure of her place in the world, Jan had become an anchor and helping to bring the blonde girl out of her shell and give her a backbone.
Now, as she stood uncertain upon the front path, Sam looked up at her mother’s house and sighed. She’d given Jan a room here. Sam had taken the master bedroom and cleared out her own old room for Jan when she wanted (or needed) it; although most of the time they’d simply shared Sam’s double bed, staying up ‘til one in the morning talking about nothing at all…
Sam smiled and began pulling her bags out of the car. She hadn’t been back to the Springs since Jan’s funeral two years ago, and hadn’t been back to the house itself since high school…there would be a great deal to do.
When they said ‘terrible twos’ they weren’t kidding.
Cassie kicked her little pink heels against the grass and howled. Jack stood watching her with his arms crossed and a small smile on his face. This was how his mother had handled his tantrums, and this was how he was going to handle Cassie’s.
The toddler peered up at him through her flying red hair in a way she probably thought was sneaky.
“You look kinda silly you know, Cass.”
Cassie screamed and renewed her efforts. Before, Jack had been smiling simply on principal. Now it was actually funny.
“Just let me know when you’re gonna be done, okay, sweetie? I need to go make lunch.”
Jack very deliberately turned his back, climbed the few steps to the patio and stepped through the open ranch slider into the living room. He padded across into the kitchen and began banging about, taking great care to appear very uninterested in Cassie’s continuing tantrum. Meanwhile, Cassie did her damnedest to be heard over the racket her father was making in the kitchen.
Jack smiled serenely and thanked his lucky stars Charlie was a heavy sleeper.
Somewhere close by, a child was screaming.
Sam, who had gone for a walk to get away from the cleaning and the unpacking and the seemingly endless cobwebs, started as the scream went up a notch and became distinctly grizzly. That child wasn’t just screaming, they were throwing one heck of a wobbly.
Sam shoved her hands in the pockets of her sleeveless cardy and strolled on. As she did, the wailing and carry on got louder. She paused and peered about.
The next house on the street was on a slightly wider section than its neighbours, and so from this angle she could see over the neighbour’s waist high fence and into the house’s back yard.
There on the grass, howling her little lungs out, was a tiny redhead. She kicked her heels and beat her fists and looked generally ridiculous.
Sam grinned and kept walking.
Jack was going to have a heart attack.
Which was silly, because he was only thirty-six and as far as he knew there was no record of heart disease in his family.
Except for Uncle Ernie, but that had been after the Incident with the Lightning Storm and the Copper Piping.
Nevertheless, Jack wheezed, clutched his chest and continued to gaze with wide eyes out his kitchen window.
It couldn’t be her, could it? The pretty mystery blonde from the graduation photo in Janet Fraiser’s hallway couldn’t be walking, calm as you please down his street with a small smile on her lovely face, skirt blowing about her thirty-mile legs in the light summer breeze.
And yet there she was.
Jack dropped everything (quite literally – the pan made a spectacular metallic crash as it hit the lino) and bolted to the front door. Out he burst, onto the front veranda. The door banged as it hit the wall and bounced back, juddering noisily.
Sam started at the sound and turned to him.
The two of them froze and stared at each other.
On the back lawn, Cassie continued to grizzle.
How it had come to this, neither of them was really sure.
Sam sat in one of the O’Neill’s antique armchairs that didn’t match the rest of the house at all
and sipped coffee from a mug that had been a gift from Sara’s mother. Jack sat at right angles to her on the old leather sofa, his own coffee resting it his clenched hand while the opposite arm kept the two-year-old girl from slipping off his narrow knees. Cassie gazed at Sam with Janet’s inquisitive eyes, having been surprised and embarrassed out of her tantrum by the arrival of a new and strange person.
The awkward quiet reigned for a few more minutes before Jack finally unclenched his fist from around his coffee mug and cleared his throat.
“So,” he said, used the freed hand to smooth Cassie’s still wild hair, “how did you know Janet?”
Sam gazed into her coffee, darted a cerulean glance at him, then smiled.
Jack caught his breath.
“We were in school together,” she murmured. “I was new and Jan took me under her wing. We graduated the same year and wrote to each other through college.”
Jack found himself blurting, “She didn’t mention you. Not to me anyway.”
It was only after the word had tumbled from his mouth that he realized how suspicious they sounded. He wished to suck them back, unbreathe them from the air, but before he could apologize, Sam was giving him a sad and rueful smile, saying,
“She wouldn’t have. Not much anyway. I’m a very…private person. And we didn’t see each other much after high school. She visited me whenever she could get away from work or B –”
She cut herself off and looked away, back into the black depths of her coffee.
“Its okay,” Jack muttered gruffly. “We didn’t like Bill either.”
Sam gave him a third smile. This one was even more breathtaking than the first. Jack covered his wonder by lowering Cassie to the floor. “Off to your room, squirt. Me and Miss Carter’ve gotta have a grown-up’s talk, okay?”
“’Kay. Bye.” Cassie planted a sloppy kiss on her father’s cheek then barreled off yelling her brother’s name.
They waited half a minute, making sure both children were out of earshot. It was Sam who broke the silence.
“She’s Jan’s, isn’t she?”
Jack nodded. “We were her godparents; me and Sara, I mean. When Janet…when Janet died, we adopted her.”
“And now I’m her dad.”
Sam fidgeted for a moment, and Jack found himself watching the play of her hands upon the buttons of her cardigan. Long, slim hands…musician’s hands, perhaps.
“Jack, I…I don’t know if I can ask this or – I mean if you don’t want to tell me I’ll understand…”
“Just ask, Sam.”
She watched him, clearly nervous, big magic eyes watching him from beneath a fall of gold hair.
“How…how did Jan die?”
Jack drew his breath sharply. It was like being punched the gut. Like having grit in a wound that had grown over, like there were still pieces underneath the skin that should have been dug out. Two pieces. Not just Janet, but Sara, too. Two sets of dark eyes, brown and hazel, that would never open again. Two years later and still…it still hurt to think about it, let alone vocalize…Blood upon that cream carpet…smell of ash, of meat, of sulfur…Cassie, tiny Cassie beginning to cry…
But this was one of Janet’s oldest friends. Sam had a right to know.
He could feel those blue-sugar eyes of hers on him. Could feel his voice roughening round the edges as he began.
“Cass was just two months old. She was so new, so little. Two months prem, y’know? Arrived on the scene a little yellow, all jaundiced until they put her under an incubator lamp.”
He could feel the small beginnings of a smile on his face, but it felt faraway, like a memory itself.
“They couldn’t keep Jan away from her. She couldn’t keep her eyes off that little girl. But Bill, well…Bill…”
“Let me guess,” Sam said softly, her mouth flattening. With the light touching her she almost seemed to burn. “Bill wanted a boy. And when Bill didn’t get a boy, Bill lost interest.”
Jack watched her, hoping to God she never turned that look on him. “Yeah. Yeah, he wasn’t around much after that. Not that that was usual or anything…but Jan could’ve done with the help. We did what we could, when we could, and her parents helped…but she still had a practice with patients. She still had a job to do, bills to pay, and then a newborn.
“Bill just…wasn’t around. He went to work, went out afterwards, drank. He’d always been a drinker, but it got worse after Cassie was born…
“It was a Tuesday, when I got the call. Sara was at her parents, I was home on leave, had Charlie to myself for the day. Jodie, who manned reception at the practice, she said Jan hadn’t come in that morning, that she’d missed two appointments. Jodie was worried, and so was I.”
Sam’s elegant fingers were knotted and white knuckled in her lap. “She never let people down when she could help it,” she whispered.
Jack nodded. “I took Charlie to Sara. I drove over to Jan’s.” He crushed his eyes closed, seeing it playing over the backs of his eyes. “The door…the door was wrecked, off its hinges. The lock looked like it’d been crushed in someone’s fist, like it made of tinfoil. I heard Cassie crying. I went to get her.
“Jan was…Jan was in the living room. There was blood.” He came back to himself. She didn’t need to hear this, not really. Not if he could spare her most of the horror. “The coroners never really figured out how it happened. She was burnt, on her side. So badly she’d bleed out. They couldn’t figure out how it could’ve happened when nothing else in the house was burnt, or why there was sulfur scattered on the windows and in her wound.
“I got Cassie. Called the paramedics and waited for them. Afterwards the detectives asked where Bill was, and we couldn’t tell them because we hadn’t seen him for two days. He’s still missing. Or running.”
Jack’s face hardened. “I figure the longer he’s gone the better chances he’ll be found dead in a ditch somewhere.”
“Good fucking riddance.”
Jack’s head came up with a start. “Whoa. Okay.” He gave her a lopsided smile. “Jan teach you to swear when she took you under her wing?”
He watched her take a few deep breaths and push away the anger with an effort. He remembered doing that. Remembered trashing poor Woolsey’s office before he could get a grip on himself. He and Barrett had been good about it. They’d wrestled him into a chair and given him a moment to cool off before putting a cup of bad coffee in his hands and both muttering something along the lines of trust us; we get it.
Without thinking, he reached out and covered Sam’s coiled hands with one of his own.
She looked up, one little breath coming in roughly and going out in a sob. Jack’s thumb went across her knuckles in a warm line.
He pulled her gently into his arms and held her while she softly cried out her private storm.
In the Carter house, the basement door arched gently back and forward in a nonexistent breeze, before crashing open showing the hollow maw beyond.
Within the dark, two black eyes opened. A lipless mouth parted, breathing frost and the scent of decay. Two hands, rictused, clawed, curled with sinuous, evil elegance upon the topmost stair.
What, it wondered, what was there here to play with…?
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