I opened my eyes to see the infirmary ceiling again. Same old, same old. This was the second time I’d woken – or remembered waking – since they brought me home. I sort of remembered talking briefly to Colonel O’Neill earlier. There had been mention of cake. I was pretty certain I remembered cake. And a party. And I had called him Jack.
They were all back safe and sound. As was the Prometheus. That was something to celebrate. But my goddam curiosity had bitten me in the butt again. No one seemed to notice. Ronson and Gant were singing my praises, the science team were trying to replicate exactly what I did to get the Prometheus out of the nebula.
And it turned out that my subconscious mind was a lot more interesting than I ever thought it was. And instead of being Dorothy in the land of Oz, or Wendy and the Lost Boys I was Alice after all.
And it seemed that Alice had some growing up to do.
“He-ey.” She smiled down at me, taking my hand in hers, checking my pulse, her other hand smoothing across my brow and cheek. “How are you feeling now?”
“Confused,” I admitted, smiling up at her. “When I wasn’t keeling over I was having hallucinations. It got to the point that even though I was on my own on the Prometheus I was asking them to leave me alone so I could get stuff done.”
“Anyone I know?” Janet smiled.
“Teal’c, Daniel – god he was a pain in the ass, my dad, even the Colonel.”
She laughed. “And you were there and you were there and you…”
“And I kept seeing a little girl.” Then it struck me. I hadn’t seen Janet. What did that mean? Especially in the light of what some of my other hallucinations had found the time to tell me. I told Janet a little of what had happened, hoping to see her smile. She looked far too serious. But then she always did when I was in her infirmary.
“I just realised. I didn’t see you. I didn’t think about it at the time. I was too busy trying to survive,” I said. “Why didn’t I see you, Janet? I mean, you are arguably the most important person to me in my whole life.”
“From what you said earlier, your hallucinations provided you with what you needed at the time – strength to hold on, someone to bounce your weirder ideas off, unconditional support, hope for the future…” Janet said. “What you get from me… you didn’t need there.”
“I didn’t need love?” I whispered. “That goes back to what Dad said and Ja… the Colonel.” I shifted, turned my head away from Janet’s intent gaze, rubbing my cheek restlessly against the pillow. There was something that I could never tell Janet about my hallucinatory encounter with Jack O’Neill. It shamed me.
“You had Grace, remember. Perhaps that was what she represented.”
“I kept asking what she wanted – she never did tell me. And I didn’t remember, not at the time,” I said. “The name – I didn’t get the significance. Not until now. When I was little, about four or five, I think my parents were trying for another baby. Mom asked me if I’d like a little sister and what they should call her…”
“And you suggested Grace,” Janet said softly. She drew her fingers up and down my arm in a familiar soothing gesture. I nodded carefully. The headache whilst no longer of epic proportions was still a major feature.
“I don’t know what happened, whether my mom got pregnant and miscarried or didn’t fall pregnant after all but after that one time it wasn’t mentioned again. Dad got posted abroad soon after and I guess they both decided the time wasn’t right. It’s weird though, Grace has always been one of my favourite names. You know how you do when you’re planning these things in your mind, I always thought if I ever had a little girl, I would call her Grace.”
“What did she look like?” Janet asked.
“She was really sweet, about six, seven years old, long blonde hair in ringlets, big brown eyes,” I smiled then looked at Janet in shock. “Your eyes, Janet. My God, if it were possible to do it, she could have been our child.”
“Something to think about,” Janet smiled. “Now, you need to rest. I’ve forbidden your guys to come back before 9am. If you’re still doing well, I may even let you go home tomorrow evening. I’ve told the General you’re going to need another week at least before you’re fit even for limited duty.”
I nodded solemnly. “Okay.” I had some things to do of my own, mainly a lot of hard thinking.
“So I thought we could go away together somewhere for a couple of days. We haven’t done that in a while,” Janet smiled. “Things have been so busy around here.”
“That sounds great, Janet, really,” I smiled, reached up to touch her cheek. “Wherever you want to go. I…” Whatever declaration I was about to make was swallowed in a huge yawn. I hadn’t seen her slip anything into my IV but Janet could be downright sneaky sometimes.
“We’ll talk again later, okay?”
I was home, my bags were packed. Janet would be back in an hour or so and then we were heading out to Denver for the weekend. After four days on my own on Prometheus and then three days of my own company in the Infirmary I felt like people for a change.
The fact that if I kept myself busy and stimulated I wouldn’t have to think didn’t escape me. Self analysis is kind of addictive, I was discovering. Those little subconscious voices had let loose all kinds of demons. I fixed myself a long cold non-alcoholic (doctor’s orders) drink and set back to relax.
The cd player changed discs, an old favourite, Sarah McLachan. I let my thoughts drift.
“If all of the strength and all of the courage
come and lift me from this place.
I know I can love you much better than this:
Full of grace, Full of grace, my love.”
The words of the song shocked me and I realised that I had tears in my eyes. The conversation with my dad came back to me.
“I’m talking about love, Sam. I know you’ve denied yourself the experience because you think it must inevitably end in pain and loneliness. It’s time to let go of the things that prevent you from finding happiness. You deserve to love someone and be loved in return.”
I loved Janet. I loved her with all of my heart. I was sure about that. But was it enough? Was dad right, was I holding something of myself back so that if it did ever end it wouldn’t be so painful.
I loved Janet and she loved me. My father was wrong. I was wrong.
So why had I fantasised about kissing Jack.
“Maybe its not me that’s the problem here. Let’s face it, I’m not that complex.”
It was a conversation between Janet and I that we had never had, what I truly felt about Jack O’Neill. I don’t think I knew myself. He was the kind of man I was attracted to, the lunatic fringe, the broken soul I had to fix. Jonas’s words of so long ago came back to me. But I was past all that. I had Janet now. I had everything I wanted.