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This story is No. 21 in the series "Waifs and strays". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Arlene Ellis is introduced to the SGC

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Other BtVS/AtS Characters(Current Donor)vidiconFR15214,0833285,67530 Apr 126 May 12Yes

Chapter 2

Author’s Note:

Thanks very much to my Beta’s, Letomo and EllandrahSylver.

The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. And you can thank Twilightwanderer for the Abbott and Costello.

Speech: “Who’s on first.”

Thought: *What’s on second.*

Vision: #I-don’t-know’s on third.#

Reviews are appreciated; very much so even.

I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Stargate or The Mummy. This story is set just after chapter 72 of Lonely Souls. I realized that internal consistency demands this goes up before chapter 73 of Lonely Souls.

Many thanks to Panaka for recommending this story.

Contains allusions to rape and adult situations.

Chapter 2

Carol studied the files before her and signed her signature in the spaces meant for them. Dozens of personnel had been incapacitated and each one of them needed to be signed out. A log needed to be kept. If everything went right it needed to be studied. If everything went wrong, it might be of interest to students of history thousands of years in the future. And with a simple press of a button she'd send the reports winging to a secret computer in the Pentagon.

Carol sighed and rose. Dr Jackson and Teal'c had left through the Gate an hour ago. In the inner office General Hammond was writing his own reports. There was a thunderous knocking on the outer door, right before it opened, showing a burly Airman with pronounced brow ridges. Carol slammed the alarm button noting that two more of the afflicted were attacking the two MP's stationed outside the door.

She drew her side arm, wondering what she'd write in her report if she had to shoot the man.

General Hammond's door opened and the man himself hurled through, growling. He launched himself at the attacker and with inhuman, primitive strength beat him to the ground. He swayed over the fallen, cowering man for a few seconds, a thin thread of drool running from his mouth. His gaze fixed on Carol and she backed away, gun at the ready, mouth dry and eyes wide.

*Please don't attack me, please!*  

The General growled again as the two guards received aid from other unaffected personnel and the attackers were taken down. The head of the back up team entered the room, blinking at the sight of the General, swaying and glaring. He turned to Carol taking a step towards her, only to stop when Hammond growled warningly.

Charlie Kawalsky, for it was he, grinned rather weakly at Carol. “Lieutenant, I think you're in command now. I have a terrible urge to slug it out with the General and that can't be healthy.”

“Yes, sir,” Carol answered, uncomfortably. “I suppose he will have to be locked up?”

Kawalsky nodded. “Yeah, sorry,” he eyed the general with a mix of pity and respect.  “Why don't you take him to the Observation Rooms?”

Carol blinked. “Alone?”

“Oh, we’ll follow,” Kawalsky assured her. “But I'd feel a whole lot better if we didn't have to restrain him. And I think that you might convince him to go quietly.”   

Carol flushed and tried to stammer out a defence. “We aren't, we- he-”

“Lieutenant!” Kawalsky barked out. “Stop protesting and use whatever means you've got available to get the job done, understood?”

Carol nodded, trying to remember that she was now officially second in command of the base and trying not to bristle too much at the things Kawalsky was insinuating. She put a hand on Hammond's arm and the man turned to her, his eyes disturbingly vacant. Then he grunted and put his hand on hers, patting it awkwardly. “Ca-rol.”

Carol smiled. “Yes, sir. Come on, this way please.” She led him out of the room, ignoring the looks she got from the men outside and Kawalsky.

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Janet opened the door to the observation room and let the Carol guide Hammond inside. He was wearing a straightjacket that the young brevet lieutenant had convinced him to put on and was much calmer than the other afflicted even the heavily sedated Colonel O'Neill and Major Ellis.

“Sorry Colonel O'Neill, but your private room just became semi-private. We're running out of places to put all the victims. We've used the brigs; we've used the temp quarters, some of the storage rooms...” Janet shook her head and sighed, turning to walk out of the room.”

Behind her O'Neill grunted. “Doc. Doc?”

Janet blinked. “Didya say something?”

Jack worked his mouth and tongue, as if trying to force his unwilling muscles and brain to work together. “Give more…”

Janet moved closer, listening intently. “What? Give more what?”

O'Neill grunted again, clearly anxious and annoyed. “More!” He pushed his arm towards her, but carefully, making certain she knew he meant no harm.

Janet looked at the arm. “An injection? You mean you want more sedative?” She shook her head. “I'm sorry, you've already had more than the maximum safe dosage, twice as much as anyone else because you've been more violent.”

Jack grunted. “Give.”

Janet shook her head again. “No. It's not safe.”

O'Neill's grunts were becoming louder and more anxious. “Give! Give.”

Janet looked at the de-evolved man in front of her, trying to glean answers from his brown eyes. “Why are you so insistent?” Finally, with a sigh she reached into the pocket of her lab coat and took out a vial and a wrapped syringe, filled the syringe and injected the colonel. Jack collapsed as if unconscious. Janet looked at him with compassion. “Must have been in a lot of pain,” she murmured. She turned away to leave again when a very loud grunt from O'Neill called her back.

“Doc!”

Janet blinked at the unexpected clarity of the voice. “Colonel O'Neill?”

Once again the colonel worked his mouth, uttering a single word. “Me.”

Janet smiled, a bit sadly. “So you are still in there somewhere.”

O'Neill grunted again. “Dream? Dream?”

Janet sighed and shook her head. “I'm afraid not Colonel. It's very real. This is interesting. Enough sedative must knock back the primitive mind. Colonel, listen to me. I am not going to be able to keep you at this level for very long; it is too dangerous. It could cause permanent brain damage.”

Once again the Colonel struggled to find words. “What. What is it?”

Janet hunkered down next to him. “It's a parasitic virus. All we can tell is that is seems to mess with body chemicals, all of them. Testosterone levels skyrocket thus the aggressive behavior. It's histamine-lytic which means it breaks down histamine, we—wh—.”

Jack interrupted her, his speech still slurred and uneven. “Experiment on me.”

Janet looked shocked. “Experiment on you? I'm sorry I can't do that.”

Very gently Jack touched her face, trying to speak again. “Use me. Don't wanna hurt... 'Lene... Hurt 'Lene...”

Seeing the anguished expression in his eyes Janet squeezed his hand. “Very well. Thank you, Colonel.”

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Janet was standing in the Infirmary when she noticed the tall, willowy form of her second-in-command. With Major Kawalsky now out of the running as well, Brevet Lieutenant Weterings was doing all the things Janet had no time for as she helped the ill and searched desperately for a cure. Carol was looking through the observation hatch of the cell that held both Colonel O'Neill and General Hammond.

As soon as the young woman noticed that Janet was looking she closed the hatch and backed away. “I wasn't, we aren't-”

Janet sighed. The girl was doing a remarkable job but she obviously felt she'd gotten it for all the wrong reasons. Or that others thought she had. “He's not interested in you that way, Carol,” then she chuckled. “Though God help the poor bastard who wants to date you. Normal fathers at most manage a gun. I've not doubt that the General will think up something wholly original, like a full wing of F-16’s…”

Carol looked at the doctor and bit her lip. “That was not the way Major Kawalsky and his men looked at me…”

Janet sighed and took Carol’s hand. “Major Kawalsky is in Isolation Room 11. I doubt he’ll think anything of the sort once he’s back to himself. Lieutenant, everybody on base knows that the General has a soft spot for you. And everybody knows that he’ll never allow that to interfere with his duty,” Janet grinned. “And there are far worse father figures than the General.”

Carol smiled weakly. “It’s just…”

Janet squeezed the hand she held. “People have been saying it about you for a long time? That you slept your way to the top, to your grades, to preferment?”

Carol nodded, her face haunted.

Janet nodded. “They did the same with me, and no doubt Major Ellis and Captain Carter as well. That I fear is part of the lot of women in the armed forces. If you feel the need to talk about it, my door is always open.”

Carol smiled. “Thank you. I'll get back to work. Do you know anything about how this infection spreads? If we need more supplies I'll need to know what options there are.”

Janet ran a hand through her hair. “I think that blood and sputum contact act the fastest, and then skin to skin. But I can't rule out airborne or anything else really.”

“If we superheated the air in an elevator and sent it up, would that work?” Carol wondered.

Janet shrugged. “If you can find a way to superheat the air in one, yes. Probably.”

Carol grinned. “Well, the specs do say that the elevators can take a direct, sustained burst from a flamethrower, and we've got several of those.”

Janet laughed. “And here I was wondering who was going to take over Colonel O'Neill's destructive habits.”

“I'll also take over Captain Carter's attempts to rein him in.” Carol winked and left.

Janet looked after her departing form for a few seconds before returning to her work.    

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Carol was in the Gateroom when Teal'c returned, alone. He greeted her curtly and sped out off the room, carrying his pack, his staff weapon in his hand.

“Where's Dr. Jackson?” she asked as she accompanied the big Jaffa to the Infirmary at a near run. 

“Shortly after our arrival on the planet, in the Dark area where the Touched dwell we encountered a young woman whom we had met before. She had been infected with the disease and Dr. Jackson desired to give aid,” Teal'c replied curtly.

Carol sighed. “Let me guess, you were attacked again and he refused to abandon her, despite the importance of the mission?”

Teal'c inclined his head. “Indeed.”

“I don't know whether I want to kick him or admire him. I think I'll do both,” Carol groused.

Teal'c nodded. “No doubt O'Neill will be willing to hold him while you do so.”

“Probably. Well, here we are.” Carol gestured at the Infirmary doors and led him through.

As they entered the Infirmary a voice came over the tannoy system. “All personnel, be advised that the mountain is now under a code five lockdown. The mountain is now under a code five lockdown.”

Teal'c looked at Carol, who shrugged. “Everybody who tries to leave is shot until the order is rescinded.”

Teal’c looked at her for a few seconds and then nodded gravely before walking towards a bed where Janet was checking Carter. Janet looked up, relief on her face. “Thank god you're back. There’s only a quarter of the base personnel uninfected!”

Teal’c nodded in acknowledgement. “What happened to Captain Carter?”

Janet patted Sam’s arm. The younger woman growled and Janet withdrew her hand. “She was stabbed by her roommate. Don't worry it's superficial, she's going to be okay,” looking down ruefully she rubbed her face tiredly. “She was put in the same room as Major Ellis, we’re matching people according to rank and progression of the disease. Nurse Clifford put her in the same room as Major Ellis, not knowing about their earlier interactions. And I was too busy to check.”

She gestured at Teal’c who followed. “We've run out of space; we've had to start doubling up on the Iso rooms. Hence the roommates…”

Teal’c held out his backpack. “I have retrieved the blood sample you requested.

Janet smiled her first real smile since the start of the outbreak. “Good work, Mr. Teal'c.”

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Teal’c crouched down by O'Neill who sat on the floor, leaning against the wall, the IV bag with the sedative hanging from a pole, blankly watching the rocking, moaning form of General Hammond. “O’Neill.”

O’Neill grunted eloquently.

Teal'c nodded grave acceptance. “I am afraid I lost Daniel Jackson on the dark side of the planet. I am sorry.”

Janet hurried in before Jack could reply with another grunt. “Colonel O'Neill, I think I might have something,” she sat down on a rather battered chair. “I was examining the blood sample that Mr. Teal'c brought me, then it hit me. There was very little histamine in it.”

O'Neill and Teal’c looked at her in confusion.

Janet smiled as she explained. “If the people on that planet are human as you say, they have to have a histamine in their blood.”

Teal’c looked at the primitive being who had once been Jack O’Neill. “How does this help us?”

Janet’s excitement was palpable as she spoke. “Well as I said before, this microbe is a histaminolytic, it feeds on histamine. The Untouched have no histamine in their bodies so the organism couldn't- can’t- survive in them.”

Teal’c looked at Janet impassively, but his confusion came through in his question. “I do not understand. It is the Untouched that become the Touched. If they have none of this substance of which you speak why then do some of them change?”

“Because only some of them have this low histamine level which means there is probably a-a naturally occurring antihistamine in their diets. The ones who don't eat it eventually contract the organism,” Janet ran a hand through her hair. “Which is what gave me an idea. I checked the files; both Dr. Jackson and I have acute rhinitis caused by severe allergies.”

O'Neill looked at Teal'c, a look that Teal’c interpreted correctly. “Explain.”

Janet grinned slightly at the interaction, still there despite the changes in Jack. “I take strong antihistamines every day, so did Dr. Jackson. I have no histamine for the microbe to feed on. Just like the Untouched, the organism starves in my body.”

Teal’c leaned forward intently. “Does this mean you have a cure?”

Janet nodded. “I think so. We have to try mega doses of chlorpheniramine maleate on someone and see if it works.”

Jack grunted. “Me.”

Janet looked at him. “I thought you might say that. Now the dose required to completely clear the body of histamine for a long enough time could be harmful. You're sure?”

The colonel nodded and Janet injected the chemical into O'Neill's IV line. She patted his shoulder. “Now all we can do is wait.”

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Saturday, December 10th 1995

Arlene Ellis sat in the quarters assigned to her and looked at the bare concrete wall, painted green. With a sigh she rose and went to the slightly tarnished wall-mirror, checked if her appearance was immaculate, saw that it was, and left the room.

As she approached the office of General Hammond the gossip began, and the looks. People who shot her amused and wondering glances. Gossip flew on bases such as these, Arlene knew. A piece of gossip like the second in command roughly taking one of his immediate subordinates, that was just too good to ignore, no matter how respected the officers in question.

She entered the ante office and gave Sergeant Prescott a look. The man looked a touched harassed, not unexpected for a Non-com in his position twenty-four hours after the probable resolution of a major crisis.

He nodded and gestured at the door. “The General can see you now, Major.”

Arlene nodded as well, knocked on the door and opened it immediately upon the permission to enter.

“Good morning, sir.” Arlene greeted a once again fully uniformed -and human- General Hammond.

“Major Ellis. Please, have a seat.” General Hammond looked at her as she sat down, a fatherly, even kindly look. *She looks terrible. Her eyes...*

“Major, as you know we have certain rules regarding fraternisation in the Armed Forces.” Hammond looked at the Major.

Arlene couldn't repress a wince. “Yes, sir.”

“What happened between you and Colonel O'Neill was not fraternisation. Neither of you is culpable and neither of you will receive any black marks, or any marks other than commendations, on your record.” Hammond held up a hand as Arlene looked up, mixed hope and disappointment on her face. “However... however I have to ask the question again. Do you think you can work with and for Colonel O'Neill without prejudice?”

Arlene gave him a look. “I stabbed Captain Carter sir. Is that not going to be a subject of discussion? If that is the case I'll tender my resignation again.”

Hammond smiled grimly. “No, Major, that is certainly a matter to discuss. But at the moment the previous history you have with Colonel O'Neill is complicated by this new matter. Both Captain Carter and you are excellent officers and I doubt you would let a disease induced brain-fever complicate your professional relationship to any great extent. No, Major, I think that in this case the stumbling block is Colonel O'Neill. The service to our country may ask that you put your life on the line. But there are lines which the service may not ask you to cross.”

“As my... encounter... with Colonel O'Neill was brain-fever induced as well, sir, I think it would be unprofessional to lay to much importance upon it. Sir.” Arlene ended, not meeting the General's eyes.

Hammond looked at her stiff, prim form and decided that was probably the best that he was going to get. “I see. Very well. Thank you Major. Once SG-1 returns from retrieving Dr. Jackson you will sit down with Captain Carter and the base psychiatrist and work this out.”

Arlene nodded and rose. “Thank you, sir. What about the encounter with Colonel O'Neill?”

Hammond gave her a look. “For that too, you will be seeing the base psychologist.”

Arlene winced. “Ah, sir, I-”

Hammond held up a hand. “That is non-negotiable, Major. It won't be for Colonel O'Neill either. Now go call your daughter. Walter tells me that she's been calling the base every ten minutes since we first let out that the outbreak was contained and you called her.”

Arlene saluted and left.

Hammond looked at the door as it closed behind her. “He resisted Carter, fought her even... I'll need to ask Dr. Fraiser if there is any significance to that.” He mused.    

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Samantha Carter felt the shallow wound on her stomach pull slightly and winced. She looked at the whiteboard with the equations, the three computers humming, the star maps and the Mandelbrot set she insisted was for study but really because it was so beautiful.

There was a knock at the door and she called out without thinking. Janet Fraiser came in and Sam looked at her, face blank and mind racing.

“How does the wound feel?” Janet asked, sitting down.

“Fine. Healing. I'll be able to wear a stomach less top again, like you said,” Sam replied in a cool voice. “Won't be a problem at all.”

Janet nodded. “He joked about that, did he? The Colonel?”

“Yeah.” Sam admitted.

“He's a very attractive man, Captain,” Janet hesitated. “Sam... You have to understand he wasn't himself, neither was Major Ellis...”

“I think they were. I think they knew very well what they were doing that they, whatever they are or were, knew better than the civilize veneer.” Sam replied softly.

Janet sighed. “Sam...”

Carter cut her off. “Don't Janet. It was just a crush, a silly infatuation and it wouldn't have worked. I love my job and so does he. What we do is important. We-we couldn't have a relationship. Not as officers serving in the same command.”  

“Neither can the Colonel and the Major,” Janet pointed out.

Sam shrugged. “She wanted to resign, had resigned. She wouldn't even be here if we hadn't recalled her. She'll be out of here before you can say 'Tenured professor' and take Evy to Chicago with her and the Colonel is going to resign and become a drunk because the major won't let him near Evy.” she spoke morosely.

Janet started to giggle. “Oh, yes, and General Hammond will commit ritual suicide for his impure thoughts about a servicewoman in his command, Feretti will confess his deeply held homo-erotic thoughts to Teal'c and Daniel will swear of coffee and start a grunge band. I think you might be over-reacting a trifle.”

Sam glared. “Am not!”

Janet shook her head in exasperation. “Not been in love very often, have you Sam?”

Carter opened her mouth to rebut, then rather sheepishly closed it and nodded. “I've always been too busy.”

“And then you meet Jack O'Neill, who for all his faults is a very nice and masculine fellow,” Janet grinned. “I don't know what's gonna happen now, but Sam you have to understand the primitive mind. Arlene is the highest ranking female and a proven breeder, not just with anybody, but with the Colonel. They have a history. What they did, we all did, it will impact them, us, the base, everybody, more than we may think.”

“You weren't affected.” Sam noted.

“Oh? So you think it is easy for a doctor to see her friends, her patients, her charges and responsibilities change into Neanderthals and walk around slugging each other around the head?” Janet answered dryly. “No, Sam, no one got out of this unharmed. Even the ones who were least affected still fear. Every time we go through the Gate we now have to wonder what we may bring back.”

Sam sighed. “Okay, so I may have been a little melodramatic. But do you honestly think I've got a chance with him?”

Janet shrugged. “Well, it's quite possible. I mean, she might castrate him once everything sinks in. And with that man's ridiculous guilt complexes, he might even let her.”

Sam giggled. “And what would be the use of him after that...”

Janet sniggered. “That's my girl. Don't worry he looks like he's good with his hands.”

Sam laughed and then winced, putting her hand to her stomach. “Ouch. For a Shorty she sure knows how to punch and cut.”

Janet cleared her throat. “Who are you calling short, Captain Carter?”

Sam looked at the Doctor, who was three inches shorter than Arlene and currently looking deceptively mild and grinned weakly. “No one?”    

Janet nodded. “Good answer.”

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Jack O'Neill sat in his office, looking at his hands. He didn't remember much from his time as a caveman. But he remembered enough to know that facing Arlene was going to be very difficult. That rumours were flying around the base, which were going to make Arlene's position very difficult. Jack knew that it'd be a lot rougher on her than on him. A lot. Any chance he had of a civil relationship with her had gone out the window. For all intents and purposes he'd raped her. He looked at the carefully typed and printed letter on his desk read it over again carefully, picked up his pen and signed his signature.

He carefully put the pen back in the government issue holder, he'd never get around to replacing that with something more personal, took an envelope, folded the three sheets of paper, tucked them into the cover, sealed it, addressed it with the pen he picked up again, placed it back in the holder again, looked at the door for a minute or two, rose and headed for the General's office. In the corridor outside he saw Charie Kawalsky with a huge black eye. He nodded at him and Kawalsky saluted. Jack did not stop to talk to his friend but walked on. 

The outer office was empty except for Walter.

Jack nodded at him. “Is the General available?”

Walter saluted. “Yes sir. I shall tell him you're here. He's been expecting you.”

Jack nodded. “He would.” Jack entered the room and stood at attention.

Hammond didn't look up. “The waste paper basket is over there,” he gestured at the side of his desk. “You can put it in yourself and save me the trouble.”

Jack opened his mouth to speak but Hammond spoke again. “I can't afford to lose you and Major Ellis is willing to work with you. You were infected with a disease. You were not yourself.”

Jack took a step forward to the desk. “Sir, you are belittling this matter.”

Hammond looked up. “Do you know that I punched Major Kawalsky? He looked at Airman Weterings in a way I apparently did not approve of.”

Jack opened his mouth, then gave his commanding officer a look. “Really, sir?”

“Hmm, really. Major Kawalsky has a very nice shiner,” Hammond confirmed.

“I did notice that, yes sir. I wasn't aware of how he gained it,” Jack very carefully did not look Hammond in the eye.

“He came in here to talk about it. Do you know he once spent a couple of months observing mountain gorillas?” Hammond inquired.

Jack smirked. “It wasn't exactly the gorillas he was watching for, but yes sir, I did.”

“He told me that I reminded him of an old, big Greyback he had known. Once upon a time a young male gorilla came by and started to court one of this Greyback's female offspring-”

“Wait, he compared you to Fluffikins?” Jack blurted out. Upon seeing Hammond’s face it became immediately clear that Charlie had not told their commanding officer what he had called the aged great ape. “Err, that is...errr....” 

“Fluffikins?” Hammond asked.

“You have to realise Major Kawalsky has a slightly off-beat sense of humour, sir.” Jack tried.

Hammond sighed. “No matter. At any rate back to the Greyback-”

“Fluffikins,” Jack supplied helpfully.

“Fluffikins,” the General acknowledged. “Fluffikins beat that young gorilla into the ground.”

Jack nodded. “Kawalsky told the story… He…” Jack faltered

“He was your son’s godfather. I know,” Hammond smiled gently.

“Yeah. Sir, no one in the base in his right mind believes you have anything but a senior officer’s interest in Airman Weterings,” Jack changed the subject.

“Oh, but I do. I’m not ashamed to say that I would be very proud to call that young woman daughter. But that was not actually my point. My point is that no matter what I might consider an appropriate punishment, you will punish yourself more. And even that will not be patch on what Captain and Mrs. Ellis will do to you,” Hammond looked at Jack gravely. “The President assures me that Captain Ellis once swore to feed any man who looked at his daughter in the wrong way to a Skindancer. He may have mellowed since then, I suppose.”

“Captain Ellis?” Jack asked, rather surprised.

“Yes. He fought in Korea and apparently keeps in good shape. And no doubt your grandfather will have something to say as well. he does still have clearance...”

Jack winced. Hammond ignored it and continued speaking.

“At any rate, Colonel, I'm not accepting your resignation. This command, your country and quite possibly the world need you. If it turns out that you and Major Ellis really can't work together, then we will see. until then, you will continue your duties as usual.”  

Jack looked at the resignation letter and confession in his hand, binned it and saluted before leaving to attend to his duties.

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Monday December 11th, late afternoon, Colorado Springs

A red-and black haired torpedo ran out of the house at the auburn haired woman who got out of the car, cannoned into her and almost threw her to the ground in her eagerness to hug and hold her.

Arlene Ellis returned the hug, gratefully and as fiercely as the girl hugging her did. She took in the pale face, the skin almost as tight over the cheek bones as when Evy had first come back to her, she felt the ribs through the thin sweater her daughter was wearing.

“Didn’t Granpa Jon feed you?”

“She wouldn’t even eat your mother’s pasta.” A soft voice came from the steps.

Arlene looked up to see James standing in the door, looking almost as haggard as Evy. “Dad? What are you doing here?” Arlene led

James snorted. “Our daughter was possibly infected with some strange disease; our granddaughter had to be sedated she was so scared and you wonder we are here? It’s a miracle the whole family isn’t.” he answered dryly.

“So where’s mother?” Arlene looked around.

“Asleep on my bed,” Evy murmured from the crook of Arlene’s shoulder. “You’re not to wake her, Grandad says. She didn’t get any sleep at all until you called this morning you were finally coming home.”

Arlene winced. “Sorry love, but they wouldn’t let us out until they were certain that the disease really had run its course.”

Evy nodded and burrowed a little deeper. Arlene turned her slightly and gently led her towards the house. As Evy refused to let go, or to take her face from her mother’s shoulder, it was slow going.

“Mom's this worried too?” Arlene blinked over Evy's head at her father.

“Yes,” James walked down the steps and the path to the car and then put his arms around both of them. “We haven't worried this much since you went out to Iraq.”

“Sorry, Dad.” Arlene held Evy and savoured the smell and feel of her father.

“So, can you tell us what happened?” James asked. “Or is this one of those things I’d rather not know about?”

“You’d rather not know. As a matter of fact I’d rather not know. I’d like to forget about the whole thing as quickly as possible,” Arlene shuddered. “Trust me when I tell you that the containment protocols were not there for show.”

James nodded. “Very well. Let’s go inside. No doubt your mother is awake by now and in the kitchen. Jon will have made coffee.”

“Real food,” Arlene licked her lips. “Real food sounds good.”

“For Evy too. You are eating more than two bites tonight young lady, or that threat about intravenous food will become reality.” James told his granddaughter.

Arlene pushed at Evy with a little more force than before, dislodging her. “Evy!”

Evy looked away and Arlene grabbed her chin. “Evy, I want you to promise me that if something like this happens again you will do your very best to eat and sleep properly.”

Evy looked up and then sulkily at the ground. “What if I don’t? If you don’t come back, what would be the use?”

“The use?” Arlene grabbed her daughter’s arm and marched her inside. Noises were coming from the kitchen and Arlene almost threw Evy into the kitchen. Cecilia and Jon looked up, disturbed. “The use? Look at them! How do you think they would feel if you died because I disappeared or died? How would Jack feel, or your grandfather? How would Buffy and Xander and Willow and Dawn and Kit feel? And even Kendra? And Amy? She feels guilty enough about what happened to you already! And if you think you make me happy by dying because I do, you are very wrong indeed! If I ever hear such fatalistic claptrap out of you again, I’ll take a page from Mother’s book and turn you over my knee! Now, you’ve got fifteen minutes to shower and change, you look a mess.”     

Evy looked at her mother with wide eyes and then at Cecilia and Jon and the rather amused looking James in the doorway. Then she moved, fast. She hugged her great-grandfather and both her grandparents and then ran up the stairs. 

Jon chuckled. “Well, I must admit I’ve had the terrible urge to shake the girl into some semblance of life for a few days now, but that was rather startling none the less. I assume that is the famous Johnson Women’s temper, this time without magical alterations?” he asked James.

James grinned as both his wife and daughter turned to the older man. “Yes, it is.”

Jon looked at the rosy cheeked Arlene, her eyes sparkling with emotion and grinned. “I can really see what Jack liked so much about you.”

Arlene paled to near bone white and almost ran from the kitchen. The two men exchanged looks and then turned to Cecilia who crossed her arms. “Let me guess, one for me to solve?”

Jon nodded. “To be fair, I’ll need to go and see Jack. Obviously something happened,” He tilted his head at the sound of feet running up the stairs and the slam of a door. “As a matter of fact, I’ll go call and see if he is home.”

Cecilia gestured at the half prepared meal. “James, you tend to this while I talk to Arlene.”

James nodded. “You do realise that the real food the girls want is going to be slightly burned, right?”

Cecilia grinned. “Evy will be down in less than a quarter of an hour and then she can help you. That girl has a defter touch in the kitchen than her mother.”

James snorted. “Considering the infamous exploding tomato soup incident, that’s not difficult.”

“She was eleven. Cook, James.” Cecilia pointed at the workspace again and then turned to follow her daughter.

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Arlene was stripping of her blouse when Cecilia stepped into the room, unannounced. She knew her daughters. Charlotte tended to spill her problems out and dealt with them aided by friends and family, only rarely succumbing to the Johnson Temper. Clarice bottled her problems up until she became rigid, controlling and brittle, much like Cecilia herself, without even the luxury of venting her anger that Cecilia had. Joyce would brood and fret until she burst like a dam and a torrent of emotions would surge forth, during which she would do and say things she would regret for weeks if not always, after which she would seek out those she had hurt and desperately try and make amends.

And Arlene… Arlene held herself aloof, kept her emotions under tight control in professional situations, occasionally let go off them in private ones. She kept her Johnson Temper firmly in check except on rare occasions. Only under severe emotional strain did Arlene show her deepest feelings, and then it was usually too late to be of much help. The look Cecilia had seen on her daughter’s face, as well as the scolding Evy had received, convinced her that whatever had happened inside the Base had Arlene as near to a meltdown  as her initial break up with Jack had.

The thoughts running through Cecilia’s mind came to a screeching halt at the sight of her daughter’s bare back. She gasped. “Arlene! What happened? Who did this to you?”

Arlene spun round so fast she almost fell. “What are you doing here?” she hissed.

“Asking you what is wrong. And I think I’ve got a pretty good idea. Are they covering this up, Arlene? What happened to you?” Cecilia’s voice was raspy with repressed anger and grief.

Arlene’s eyes narrowed hurriedly pulling her shirt back on, holding it closed with her hands. “Covering up? It’s a classified project Mother. There’s no cover up. Now please leave.”

“No cover up? Classified?” Cecilia shut the door again and walked to her daughter, flipping open the shirt. “Is this the sort of thing that the Unites States asks of its servicewomen?” she pointed at the livid bruising on Arlene’s shoulders and visible on her breasts.

“Mother, leave me alone!” There was hard anger in Arlene’s voice.

Cecilia, in reply, started to unbutton her own shirt. Arlene looked at her, eyes narrowing. “What are you doing?”

Cecilia looked her daughter in the eye. “Showing you something.” She let the shirt drop and then took of her bra. “Look at me Arlene, and tell me I have no reason to worry, no reason to be here. If you can do that, I will leave.”

Arlene gasped as she took in the scars. “That-”

“That’s the reason I never let any of you girls see me without my bra.” Cecilia took Arlene’s hands in hers. “‘Lene… I know those sort of marks… Please? What happened?”

Arlene looked at the old, faded scars of bite marks on her mother’s breasts and shuddered. “It wasn’t rape. It was worse.”

“Worse? What did they make you do?” Cecilia asked, now even more worried.

Arlene closed her eyes. “W-would you mind getting dressed again, Mom?”

Cecilia noted that she’d progressed from ‘mother’ to ‘mom’ again as she pulled on her clothes. “Well? What happened?”

“It- the disease… We became more primal,” Arlene explained. “More aggressive.”

Cecilia nodded. “Even if they did it under the influence of a disease you’ll still need help.”

“I was affected too. I wanted to. Wanted him.” Arlene groaned.

“Wanted him? Arlene, did, was this Jack?”  Cecilia’s voice was shocked.

“Yeah. Jack. Remember that ridiculously tall blonde captain? She made a move on him too, and he refused her. Then we were affected, Jack and me. And then I was locked in a cell with Captain Carter and stabbed her,” Arlene looked up, grinning ruefully. “So even after all this time he still brings out the worst in me.”

“Stabbed? Is she alright?” Cecilia asked worriedly.

“She will barely even scar,” Arlene assured her mother. “But with all that going on, the fall out among the people might be considerable. There won’t be any official consequences, but there will be personal ones.”

“I see. So how do you feel?” Cecilia gently moved some of her daughter’s short hair out of her face.

“I haven’t got a clue,” Arlene admitted ruefully. “I mean, I knew there was something between us, from before. And from what I remember, we went at it like animals, but…”  

“It may be more than animalistic lust?” Cecilia completed.

“Yeah.” Arlene sighed. She fingered the bedspread, suddenly looking like a teenager to Cecilia’s eyes. “Do you think Evy is very angry with me?”

“I think Evy needed that, to be honest. She was badly hurt by life, but she will need to let go off some of her fears if she wants to progress,” Cecilia sighed. “She’s a true Johnson, that one. We tend to wallow in our woes something dreadful unless we get a good, swift kick,” Cecilia gave her daughter a shoulder hug. “Mine was Joyce nearly kicking me our of her life. I think that, despite everything, Evy will be grateful for what you did today, showing her that there is more to her life than just loving you.”

Arlene smiled a little and leaned into her mother. “You’re getting better at this you know, the whole being a mother thing.”

Cecilia snorted. “And only forty odd years late, too.”

Outside Jack O'Neill stood looking at the lighted windows of his grandfather's house, where his daughter was no doubt hugging her mother smiled a tired, pained smile and turned back to his car.

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Carol Weterings, returned to her rank of Senior Airman after briefly ascending to the lofty heights of second Lieutenant-ship, lay on her back in the room she had been assigned. Her permanent residence at a base that was manned primarily by off base personnel meant that she had a room to her own where on another she'd have to share with another Senior Airman. She looked at the ceiling and thought bitter thoughts. No matter what Dr. Fraiser might say she felt that the majority of those who worked at the base thought that she was providing General Hammond with the marital joys he had been lacking since the death of his wife. And that her special quarters and recent responsible position were because of that, not her ability, her special circumstances as a person under threat or the fact she seemed unaffected by the virus that had brought low so many of the other personnel. If more people had been infected, all of the base except for her, maybe things would be easier. But some more senior officers felt they had been bypassed, that their condition should have been assessed on an individual basis, that they should have had the chance to perform their duties until incapacitated.

Carol smiled bitterly. Even when life was as good as it had ever been for her, things still conspired to make it ever harder. She now had a patron, a father figure, but no friends. She got up off her bed, locked the door, lay down again and very softly started to cry into her pillow.   

 

 

 

The End

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