Cassie got the call about 9:30 PM. She quickly bundled up the kids and headed for the hospital. She was struggling through the crowd of reporters, each hand wrapped firmly around a child's. Questions were being shouted at her and the kids, and she was beginning to despair of ever making through the crush when a path seemed to open before her. She heard Teal'c's voice gently reprimanding the press who immediately calmed in the face of one of the galaxy's heroes. And then Daniel was at their sides, picking up little Tracy with a smile and a kiss, sliding his hand beneath Cassie's elbow as he escorted them through the front door and into the welcome near-silence of the hospital foyer.
"How do they even know already?" she asked. "You guys just called me."
"It seems that the press are nearly omniscient at times like these," Teal'c agreed, leaning in to give Cassie and Tracy each a kiss on the cheek, then extending his hand to 10-year-old Jimmy.
Daniel put an arm around Cassie's shoulder and she rested her head for a moment. She took a deep breath to expel the irritation and anger at what was happening outside and then stood straight and nodded at Daniel. "Then let's go up," he said.
He led them to a small, private room already filled with flowers and cards, even though Sam had only been admitted a few hours ago. Cassie took a deep breath when she saw the older woman; it was really happening this time. Sam looked so pale, so tired, slightly dazed by the morphine drip attached to her IV. But she smiled when she saw her visitors and held her arms out. Tracy wriggled down Daniel and ran to her 'Gamma.' Jimmy followed behind and helped Tracy up onto the bed where she immediately snuggled against Sam. Sam grabbed his hand and tugged gently until he sat on the bed as well.
"Look at you two," she said weakly, one hand still tucked in Jimmy's, the other slowly stroking Tracy's hair. "You're both bigger every time I see you. And Cassie," she glanced up at the beautiful woman standing before her, eyes shining with tears.
"Don't cry, Cass. I've faced death often enough to know when it's time to stop fighting it." She smiled softly as she said, "This time, I've got something to look forward to."
"Grampa Jack!" Tracy chimed in.
"That's right. I get to see Grampa Jack again," Sam said. Even though Jack had died before Tracy was born, the child had been raised on stories and videos, both private family versions and the standard hero-worship fluff pieces that had been circulating since the SGC had successfully delivered peace to their corner of the galaxy.
When Jack had died seven years ago, very few had thought that Sam would live long without him. They were so in love, so inseparable, many speculated that she wouldn't last through the first night before dying of a broken heart. But she had stayed true to the promise he had procured from her, and continued to live life to the fullest, enjoying family and friends. Even when cancer struck her two years ago, she had continued fighting for each and every day.
Cassie smiled through the tears and pulled a chair up on the other side of the bed, leaning over to kiss her adopted mother before sitting down. Daniel and Teal'c did likewise. They sat, listening to the kids talk about school and tell jokes. Later, with the kids asleep on cots against the wall, they rehashed old times until Sam had fallen asleep.
As the three old friends sat watching her, simultaneously hoping for and dreading each new breath, her eyes opened suddenly and she smiled. "There you are," she said with delight. Her eyes fluttered shut once more.
Two weeks later, Cassie stood with Daniel and Teal'c next to Jack's lake. They had endured the same fight as they had after Jack's death. The government had been determined to give Sam a hero's send off, but Cassie had held her ground, just as Sam had years before and it was an empty casket that had been delivered through the stargate. Now that the public ceremonies were over, it was time for their private goodbyes.
The setting sun tinged the water a deep orange as they silently watched as Sam's ashes drift on the air and melt into the water.
"Back together at last," Cassie murmured.
"As it should be," Teal'c concurred. The two walked turned to walk back into the cabin that was now Cassie's. Daniel watched the golden water for another minute.
"Good night, guys," he whispered. "We miss you."