Clara knew right away that Atlantis hadn't hurt Susan. Susan had just needed a small 'push' to be able to talk to their new friend Lannie. Although Clara wasn't sure Susan could talk to Lannie quite the same way she could. Lannie seemed lonely and could use another friend besides Clara.
Dad and Mr. Woolsey had taken Susan to see the doctor, but Lannie had already told her that Susan would be okay, she was just sleeping. Lannie had played a lullaby and Clara had fallen asleep while Dad watched over Susan. Uncle John had come back soon and had made Susan better.
Over the next few days, Lannie had told Clara a lot of new things. Much of it, she didn't really understand, but Lannie promised it would be important some day.
Clara had told Maddie that Lannie talked to her, but the older girl had frowned.
"Are you sure?" Maddie had asked, doubtful. "You're kinda little."
"I'm big enough!" Clara protested indignantly. "And she does, too, talk to me."
"Okay," Maddie replied easily. "Let me know if I'm supposed to know something."
Since Clara had already told an older person -- after all, twelve was so much older than six! -- Clara had done what she was supposed to.
It didn't occur to her to tell anyone else.
She had a fun time at Uncle John and Uncle Rodney's wedding. throwing the flowers around the hall. Both Uncles had danced with her and Aunt Jeannie had made sure she had a piece of cake before she had to go off to bed.
Uncle Rodney talked to her -- and Susan and Maddie -- over dinner. He was one of the few adults that would really talk to her. He also made them all laugh.
The night before they were to leave to go home, Clara asked Lannie if there was something she could give Uncle John and Uncle Rodney as a wedding present. She knew her dad had brought something, but she wanted something from just her.
Lannie grew silent in a way that Clara knew she was thinking. Finally, Lannie told Clara to get a paper to draw on and had talked her through making a group of symbols on the paper.
"It's something special for your Uncles," Lannie said. "It doesn't look like a lot, but it will be very special. And your Uncle Rodney will know what it means."
Clara looked at the drawing doubtfully. "Are you sure?"
"It will be fine," Lannie promised.
"Okay, then," Clara said. "Thank you!"
Clara handed the paper to Uncle Rodney as they were getting ready to go back through the Gate.
Uncle John had looked a bit worried, but Uncle Rodney looked pleased with her. He gave her a special hug.
Clara was sad when they went home, since she couldn't talk to Lannie anymore. She had a small toy that Lannie had told her to take from Uncle Rodney's lab that sounded a little like her friend, but it wasn't the same.
Then Clara was almost taken by bad men on her way home from school one day. Nanny Emily had shouted at her to run but the toy had done something that helped her get away. Her Daddy had hugged her very hard when the soldiers finally were able to take her home.
She showed her Daddy the toy, and he gently touched it. "I think that Lannie gave that to you," he said. "So you keep it."
He had tucked her into bed, making sure the toy was on the table next to the bed.
John had sent David an email. You can trust General O'Neill. Talk to him about what will be best for you to do.
General O'Neill had shown up two days later, dressed in civilian clothes but still looking like the military man David knew he was.
"Hear you have a small problem," O'Neill -- call me 'Jack' -- said.
Dave shrugged. "I don't know what's going on," he admitted. "I've hired some private security to help watch over the girls, but I don't know who to trust. John said you could give me some options."
Jack sat in Dave's office and drank the coffee Dave's admin had provided. "First of all, you'll have to tell me where you got this coffee. I suspect it's something Daniel would like."
"Sure," Dave agreed. "I'll get my admin to get you some."
"Sweet!" Jack replied.
"About my kids..." Dave re-directed the conversation.
Jack frowned. "That's not going to be easy," he admitted. "Both of your girls are high on the ATA scale and without testing we can't be sure, but I'm guessing Clara has an even stronger response than Susan."
"But Clara didn't react at all when we went to Atlantis," Dave protested.
"No telling for sure, but the docs tell me that because she's younger, she's probably more open to interacting with the city," Jack replied. "I can't give you all the details, but that Gate address Clara gave to McKay was really, really important. Like, created a better future for both Atlantis and Earth important."
Dave was impressed, but he always knew that Clara was a smart kid. "What's going to happen now?" he asked.
"Well, you have a couple of choices," Jack replied. "I can assign you some troops to protect both you and the girls, but that will also paint a bigger target on your backs."
"Oh, good," Dave said faintly.
"You can move into a secure compound, either here or on a base, so we can protect you better," Jack offered.
"Like that's better?" Dave asked.
"It is what it is," Jack shrugged.
"Anything else?" Dave asked.
"We send you back to Atlantis," Jack said flatly.
"Leave Earth?" Dave was amazed.
"It's an option you need to consider," Jack said calmly. "None of your options are good, but you and the girls are honestly best protected on Atlantis. Your brother takes his job seriously and with the level of ATA genes you all have, you're all targets if you stay on Earth."
Dave stood in Clara's bedroom that night, watching her sleep. It made the decision easier.
After the bad men tried to take her, Daddy didn't let her or Susan go back to school. Susan was sad not to see her friends, but Daddy explained to both of them that the bad men were still out there and it wasn't safe to go to school.
Susan had some of her friends come over one day, but they only tolerated Clara and didn't include her when they played. The next weekend, Tessie from Clara's school came to visit with her. But Tessie's mom made funny faces when she brought Tessie, and Clara guessed that Tessie's mom didn't like the soldiers that walked around the yard.
One night, Daddy ordered everyone's favorite pizza and sat down with her and Susan and explained about going back to Atlantis.
Susan didn't look too happy but Clara was excited about talking with her friend Lannie again. She reminded Susan that they'd see Maddie and Uncle Rodney again, which made Susan smile.
Daddy explained that they could take anything they wanted with them, that someone would come and pack up their clothes and toys and books for them. So they could leave in a few days, Nanny Emily would come and help them pack enough for the first few weeks, then the rest would be delivered later.
"Can Nanny Emily come with us?" Clara asked.
"Nanny Emily has her own family here," Daddy said, shaking his head. "She'd like to come, but she can't. But you'll have Aunt Jeannie and Uncle Kaleb, and we'll stay with them at first."
"Yay!" Susan had cheered. "Maybe Maddie and I can share a room!"
"We'll talk to Aunt Jeannie about that," Daddy nodded.
Nanny Emily had made sure to take some games and books along with all the clothes they might need. She even got some of their favorite cookies and chocolate to take along. "Just to make sure you have some treats," she said with a smile.
When they were ready to go, Nanny Emily gave both Susan and Emily big hugs and told them to write, if they could.
It took longer this time to get to visit Uncle John, and Clara got bored. Luckily Daddy stayed with her when the Doctors asked lots of questions that she couldn't answer. Her new Uncle Jack even came by and she played hide-and-seek in the lab with him until Colonel Sam caught them. Although Colonel Sam didn't seem too mad and Doctor Danny did laugh.
The trip through the Gate bridge wasn't as dull this time, since Clara knew she was closer to Lannie. There was a whisper of Lannie in her head.
Walking through the Gate to Atlantis was so cool. Lannie was there, as was Uncle John and Uncle Rodney. Clara didn't even care that Susan and Maddie went off together without asking her to come with them.
Clara looked at the new person waiting for them. "Lannie!" she cried. "You're here!"
"Thanks to you, sweetie!" Lannie greeted her. "Your Uncle Rodney was able to charge my batteries so I could come out and meet you!"
Clara ran over to Uncle Rodney and wrapped her arms about his legs, to give him a hug. "Thank you for helping my friend, Lannie! She's my bestest friend ever!"
Uncle Rodney leaned over and picked her up and gave her a big hug. "And you're such a smart little girl!" Uncle Rodney said. "You asked the right question and you helped us find a way to help Atlantis. Thank you!"
Clara laughed. "All my favorite people!" She looked around. "Can we go play now?"