Cassie sat on the examining table, leaning on Sam who was perched next to her. When the nurse brought out the needles, Cassie started to cry, reaching out and grabbing Janet's hand.
"I don't want to!" She looked up into Janet's eyes. "Please?"
Janet had explained that the shots would keep her from getting sick. Cassie thought getting sick didn't sound so bad, not when she'd been on Earth six months, and this was the fourth time they'd done this. The gave her the shots, and it made her arm hurt for days; after that, they took blood from the inside of her elbow, and sometimes they stuck her finger for even more.
When Janet just stroked her hand, trying to soothe her, Cassie turned to Sam.
Sam shook her head as she put her arm around Cassie's shoulders. "I know it's not fun, Cassandra, but everyone has to do this."
"All the kids at school did this when they were babies!" She bit her lip as the nurse gave her the first injection. "They don't remember."
"Your mom is taking you to the zoo? The zoo?"
"Yeah, like she thinks I'm six years old or something. She's bringing a bunch of her friends, too."
To a thirteen-year-old from Earth, apparently, a day at the zoo with a group of adults was supposed to be torture. Cassie's friends all agreed that it was a completely lame way to spend a Saturday, and she laughed and scoffed along with them, never letting on that she was actually excited.
As it turned out, Daniel was the only one who could come along with Cassie and her mom that day. And Daniel, apparently, knew everything about African animals. Cassie thought he might have known everything about all the animals, but with all the talking, they didn't get past Africa.
After they'd seen the elephants, they detoured to a snack stand for ice cream, stopping to eat it beside the fence surrounding the camel rides.
Cassie stared at the little boys and girls, the ones riding on the camels and the ones waiting in line. They pointed and giggled, and she could see them talking really, really fast. "They look happy," she said, and her mom rubbed her back, and Daniel smiled at her.
Then Daniel started to talk about camels, and Egypt, and caravans. Cassie didn't really listen to what he was saying, because she figured she had to learn enough in school every day; but she liked having him there. Her mom had a boyfriend, a man that Cassie didn't like very much, and she thought that she'd rather it were someone she knew, like Daniel or Jack. Someone who understood things.
She rested her chin on the fence and watched the children on the camels and tried not to think about the mother and father she'd lost back on Hanka, because today, she wanted to pretend this was the way it had always been.
"How could he think you'd say yes? You can't even drink! I mean, not legally or anything."
"Yeah," Cassie said, rolling her eyes. Pinching the phone between her ear and shoulder, she swept pages and pages of organic chemistry homework into a pile. "Look, I've gotta go. I've got study group in half an hour. I'll see you in class tomorrow, okay?"
After she hung up, Cassie sank down into her chair, dropping the phone to the table and burying her face in her hands. She tried not to play the afternoon over in her head, but she couldn't stop herself.
Girls her age were supposed to turn down proposals of marriage because they weren't ready to be married; because they had their future careers to consider, because they wanted to travel, because they wanted to belong to themselves first.
Deep inside, Cassie knew she felt those things, too, but they weren't what had brought her mind to a screaming halt when he'd asked the question. How could she marry someone without first telling him who she really was? And how could she take the chance of telling anyone she'd known just a few months or even years?
And how had she never seen that before?
"I don't know how to raise a baby on Earth." Cassie knew she was whining, but she couldn't seem to help it.
"Basics are pretty much the same anywhere, you know."
As it turned out, the way you got around having to tell your future husband that you were an alien was to marry someone who already knew. Cassie hadn't really planned it that way, but she'd met a charming young man who worked the Stargate Program for the State Department when she was visiting Jack, and now, here she was, living in D.C. and starting her second year of medical residency.
It would have all been idyllic if it weren't for the rather unplanned baby girl who came along a year after their wedding.
So now she lay sprawled on her couch, staring across the coffee table at Jack, who'd innocently come for a visit and found the baby shoved into his arms the minute he sat down.
"But that's just it," she said, pushing up onto an elbow. "It's not basic here. It doesn't – I never knew I'd care, but it doesn't feel right. I feel like everyone else had a class that I didn't, and I'm going to end up raising a backwards little alien girl who doesn't fit."
"Ah, but see, you have me around to introduce her to the finer points of Earth culture."
She laughed. "Thank god for that."
"Worked for you, anyway."
Still smiling, Cassie rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling for a long moment. "She is amazing, though."
"That she is, Cass."
The sun hadn't yet risen when Sam showed up at Cassie's house with the news that there'd been a huge breach of security, and Cassie's status as alien – literal alien – had somehow been leaked.
Yawning, she rubbed her eyes as she poked at the coffeemaker. This would have to happen on her first day off in two weeks. "I just don't see why it matters." It had been months since the public learned about the Stargate, and maybe there were still some protesters, but Cassie thought that most people seemed to be adjusting to the idea.
"Cass, the – the article hasn't even run yet, and there've already been death threats."
"I'm not going to run away over a few crazy idiots. I just want my family's life to be normal." Cassie turned away, angry that they were still coddling her after all these years, angry that they didn't know her better than that.
Sam's hand on her arm stopped her. "They're very credible threats. And they aren't just against you."
Cassie looked from Sam to the stairs and back again, closing her eyes when Sam nodded. "God. I – god, Sam, so what do I do?"
"How would you feel about visiting Teal'c and Ry'ac? Just for a couple of weeks. Give us some time to sort things out."
And so a few hours, a fight with her husband, some light packing, and a transport beam ride later, Cassie, her husband, and her daughter were in the SGC, standing in front of the active Stargate.
"We'll see you back soon." Sam assured her. "Don't worry about it, okay?"
Cassie nodded and embraced the older woman, then picked up her daughter and carried her to Teal'c, who had come to escort them to his home. She smiled as she approached him. Everyone talked about how Teal'c had softened over the years; Cassie had never seen it that way, though. Maybe he showed it to more people now, but to Cassie, Teal'c was no different than he'd ever been.
"Are you ready, Cassandra Fraiser?"
Cassie winked. "For a vacation at your place? 'Course I am."