Friday, March 13, 2026
It all started innocently enough. Director Margaret Thatcher received a call from Ray Kowalski (who had somehow managed to weasel his way into her list of approved callers after twenty-odd years of acquaintance), informing her of the good news. Her godson had decided to skip dating, and gone right to proposing marriage. In light for the family's propensity for bizarre situations, Ray wanted a background check. Meg could understand his concern; even with both he and Fraser officially retired, they still seemed to attract every neurotic criminal and malcontent within a thousand mile radius. Unfortunately, a lack of shared genetics hadn't stopped Scott from inheriting the same affinity for trouble.
She agreed to pull the file, curious as to what kind of girl had managed to catch Scott's eye. After all, it wasn't like it was a lot of work; as head of the Canadian Security & Intelligence Service (CSIS), there wasn't anything Meg couldn't access with a few clicks of her mouse. Or so she had thought. Five hours later, she still hadn't managed to learn more about "Sarah McKay" than that she was nineteen, Canadian, somehow a second lieutenant in the US Air Force while a Canadian, and the sole child of Dr. M. Rodney McKay, mother unspecified. That was it. To someone who had spent twenty years in the field of intelligence, it might as well have stood up and done the can-can - it was fake.
The father was real enough, at least, and had a valid file. A theoretical astrophysicist of no little notoriety, he'd taught at CalSci before taking a position as a civilian contractor for the US government, working first in Colorado, then later Siberia. She pulled his tax records, and let out a low whistle at the numbers he'd listed while working for the US government. Siberia or not, he could have retired comfortably in his thirties. 2007, however, was the last year he had paperwork on record - the year of Sarah's birth, in fact. It was three and a half years into his assignment to Antarctica, and according to the revenue authority he'd simply vanished. Not died, not changed his citizenship, vanished.
Customs and Immigration wasn't any more useful. They had him on record as visiting twice in the '10s and once in the '20s, but that was it. Of note, however, was the fact that on his last visit, he'd listed a spouse - a John Sheppard, US Citizen. She made a mental note of the name, and moved on, attempting to pull more information on his posting to Antarctica.
Her request was denied, the screen reading "SG Clearance Required. Enter Password." SG Clearance? She narrowed her eyes in annoyance. She was the head of the CSIS, one of the premier intelligence agencies in the world; she had damn well better have clearance for this. Whatever it was.
"Jones! Get in here!" Her assistant scampered in, looking anxious. He always looked anxious; she'd never been able to nail down the reason. "Do I have SG level clearance?"
"Oh, that." He relaxed, just a little. "Yes, ma'am. Sir. Madame Director. We get annual reports from them, since we have several Canadians in their program. But your predecessor never had interest in reading them, so I've been filing them in storage."
"Jones. What did I tell you when I took this job?"
"That... Mr. Johnson had been an idiot, and you had no wish to run things as he did?"
"Exactly. Therefore I want you to go down to the records room, and get me these annual reports. And anything relating to them." The man nodded fervently, but remained where he stood. "Right now."
He jumped. "Oh! Yes, sir." He disappeared out the door, and she wondered what exactly this SG-project was. Obviously an American government program. God, she was getting sick of poking around in reports of out-dated American military disasters. Ten minutes later, Jones returned with a massive box of files. He was followed by another assistant bearing tea, and she settled in for the afternoon to read through the backlog.
It took close to ten hours for Meg to get through the initial reports; at 0130, she was forced to give up for the evening due to sheer exhaustion. After seven hours of sleep and another seven hours of reading, she'd finally caught up to the present. What she had found was amazing, even if it wasn't what she'd been looking for. The project itself read like science fiction more than fact, but the reports were too detailed for it to be a hoax. Breakdowns of expenditures, personnel reviews, ordnance requisitions - the early years were filled with detailed analysis and funding justifications. The major incident summaries were incredible; if even a fraction of it was true, it meant that Earth had come close to being completely annihilated dozens of times. What was even more amazing was the fact that these had to be the sanitized versions; the incident reports were filled with euphemisms she couldn't interpret and suspiciously vague phrasing.
When she finally found the correct access codes, it still took her almost three hours to wade through the "SGC" database to find what she was looking for. Dr. M. McKay was classified as a consultant, not a civilian contractor, and therefore in an entirely different directory. The unsanitized version of his file was fascinating reading, but contained nothing that would indicate a problem for the Frasers. After another hour of digging, and a full pot of double-strong Earl Grey, Meg finally found the access codes for "Pegasus" clearance, and settled down to read Sarah McKay's file. Even at this level of clearance, Meg got the feeling this was a stripped down life history, but it was good enough.
Absently picking up a piece of shortbread, Meg pondered the girl. It was no wonder why Scott had taken to the girl - she was attractive (judging by the picture in her personnel file), incredibly intelligent (at nineteen, she already had an MS, and was currently ABD in bio-engineering), and if her record was anything to go by, quirky enough to get along well with the Fraser clan. Normally, it was the pretty girl dating the older TA. This time, it was the pretty young TA dating the older student. At least Scott was no slouch in that department, or she'd have worried. But other than being born and raised in another galaxy, the girl seemed to check out fine. She decided to call Ray in the morning, and let him know that the girl wasn't worth worrying about - a little odd, yes, but nothing harmful (and it wasn't like Scott wasn't going to bring his share of strange to the union). The SGC's book-keeping in recent years, on the other hand, was a disaster.
Monday, March 16, 2026
John stepped through the event horizon into the SGC, and found Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman standing at the base of the ramp. He frowned; he was supposed to be on leave, and that clipboard looked awfully official. "Can I help you, chief?"
Walter nodded. "General Sheppard, I am to inform you that you have been assigned temporary command of the SGC."
John blinked, but no, Walter was still there. "I'm on leave." He let that sink in, but the chief didn't appear to be getting the point. "Leave means not-in-charge, chief."
Walter had the good grace to look apologetic. "Unfortunately, Sir, General Mitchell was called away on urgent business, and requested that you assume command."
John frowned. "I thought my rank didn't apply in this galaxy." He was quite sure he'd gotten a memo about that. Ten years ago.
"Well, no, Sir. Normally it wouldn't, but given that there is a Canadian official scheduled to arrive in four hours, the general thought it best if you were to handle her - given your status as a Canadian citizen."
"Canadian citizen, sir." Walter blinked at John in what may or may not have been a meaningful way.
"That's what I thought you said." John cleared his throat, and resisted the urge to rub the bridge of his nose, noting absently that Rodney was being unusually quiet about the whole thing. "How long, exactly, have I been a Canadian citizen?"
Walter checked his clipboard. "Since your marriage, sir. 2016 is the date in your file."
Walter looked between the two, and took note as Rodney shifted uncomfortably. "Your marriage, sir. The paperwork was filed in May of 2016, along with the request to adopt one Sarah McKay as a legal dependant."
John turned to Rodney. "Rodney, when this is all straightened out, we are going to talk. And you are not going to like it." Rodney opened his mouth to argue, but Walter cut him off.
"I would normally recommend that you take this to the guest quarters, sir, but Director Thatcher will be here in just under four hours; you need to clear medical before her arrival."
John spent about three seconds wishing for a Wraith attack before remembering that no, Wraith don't live in the Milky Way, and no, one shouldn't wish the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians just to create a diversion. He shot an expression at Rodney that was intended to convey that Rodney would be sleeping on the couch for the next month, and then turned back to Walter. "All right, I'll do it. But Cam owes me big time. Who is she?"
Walter took that as his cue and began reeling off details, leading the way to the infirmary. John sighed and followed - it was proving to be one of those weeks, and they hadn't even met their future son-in-law yet. He was starting to remember why it was he'd had no problems leaving Earth behind at the flip of a coin.
Wednesday, March 18, 2026
"Maybe we should call it off." Sarah flopped down onto their bed in the Academy's VOQ, T-shirt riding up as she wriggled around to get comfortable.
Scott looked up from the closet where he was hanging his coat. "What?"
"The wedding. Us. Everything." She rolled onto her side and stared at the window, which was partially covered by white curtains. "Maybe it was a mistake to even try." She sounded sad, and a little lost. Scott had never seen her anything less than confident, even after eight months together, and the change was disconcerting. He eased down to sit next to her on the bed.
"Is this about my parents? Because they're suspicious of everyone; it's not just you." He chuckled softly. "They've got kind of a colorful past, and sometimes it catches up with them. Don't take it personally. I think my father really liked you; Dad just takes some time to warm up to people."
She shook her head, and curled up tighter. "It's not just that. I mean, it is, but not the way you think." She picked absently at the comforter, wishing it was her quilt at home that Miko had made for her from the Genii textiles they'd gotten in that first peace treaty. "What do you know about me, Scott? How many things do you actually know about me?"
"I know everything that I need to know, Sarah; I know that I love you." He placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder, but she flinched away. She always did that. At first, he'd thought that she'd been abused, but she had assured him that wasn't the case. She just wasn't "touchy-feely" as she put it. At times like these, he wondered if there wasn't another reason, but he respected her privacy enough not to push it.
"Who do you love?"
He frowned and considered her question, settling next to her on the bed and crossing his legs. "I love the girl who spent two weeks watching me in a bar, before walking up to me and telling me that I couldn't lie for shit and to stop trying. I love the girl who was willing to spend her Friday nights in the library with me instead of asking for dinner and a movie. I love the girl who didn't think Aunt Maggie was strange for eating pemmican, and who didn't ask too many questions when I said I didn't want to talk about my past."
She let out a sound that could have been a laugh, or could have been a sob, he couldn't tell without seeing her face. "I couldn't exactly ask you things I wasn't willing to answer, could I?"
He wasn't sure how to respond to that, so he allowed the silence to grow instead. Sarah occasionally had her introspective periods, but ever since she'd accepted his proposal they'd grown more frequent. After a night of subtle and not so subtle interrogation and accusations, he couldn't blame her for withdrawing. But at the same time, he was having trouble wrapping his mind around the evening's revelations himself. She'd grown up on a classified research base; it made her reluctance to discuss her childhood a lot more understandable, and it wasn't like he had the moral room to complain. There were things he hadn't shared, things he didn't even like to think about, sometimes.
As the silence stretched on, her breathing grew softer and he wondered if she'd fallen asleep. She'd been sleeping badly since the engagement, although he had to admit that she never slept well. The incident at his aunt's where she'd accidentally destroyed the washroom mirror was hardly an isolated event, though she had apologized profusely after the fact.
Her voice, when she spoke, was reassuring in its return to normal. "I wanted to tell you, you know. I don't like lying; you're only supposed to lie when you absolutely have to. But where I grew up, the base and everything, it isn't my secret to tell. Not really. I...I wanted to think that it didn't matter. I wanted it to not matter."
He reached out again, and this time she allowed his touch, though he could feel her muscles tense at the contact. "It doesn't, Sarah. I love you; I don't care where you grew up. It can't be any stranger than my childhood, hey?"
She sat up abruptly, shrugging off his hand before standing. "Strange is relative." She looked around the room for a moment, and then stood. "I'm going out. I'll be back later."
He frowned at the sudden shift in mood. "Sarah, wait. Don't do this; don't walk away. We need to talk about this; we can't just call things off. I won't let you make that decision for both of us, not because my dad was a jerk."
She paused by the door and turned, her face unreadable. "Fine. It's not called off. Happy?"
"No, I'm not. But it's a start." He paused, as she reached for the door. "Wait, you're not seriously going out of the building, are you?"
She blinked, and gave him what he privately referred to as 'You idiot! look #4.' "Scott, it's the Air Force Academy." She said Air Force Academy like it was Depot; this was America - people were gunned down in the streets everyday. "I just... I need some time to myself. I'm not going to vanish off the face of the planet or anything. Promise."
He opened his mouth to argue, but thought better of it. They'd fought seriously a couple of times, and pushing the issue just made her dig in her heels more firmly (he had a feeling his father would like her once he got to know her - she often reminded him of a human version of Churchill (son of Franklin, son of Diefenbaker), right down to the unnatural love of chocolate. He didn't want to examine what that might say about his taste in women). He'd cut her some slack, but this wasn't over; he wasn't going to lose her. "Should I wait up?"
She shook her head. "I said I'll be fine. Get some sleep; I've got the feeling tomorrow's going to be a long day." With that, she was out the door.
Twenty seconds later (which was a new record for him, he'd never managed to wait that long before), Scott pulled himself up off the bed and headed out after her.
As soon as she was in the hallway, Sarah pulled out her cell phone and dialed Robbie's number. He picked up on the third ring, muttering about inhuman cruelty and English Literature tests.
"Robbie, get your ass out of bed and meet me at the gym, or I'll do it for you."
"Sarah? Wait, wha-? It's 2330, Sarah. Come on. Some of us are in classes this week."
"All right, all right. Give me five minutes."
"You're getting soft, Sarah."
*Thunk Thunk* *Yelp*
"Not that soft, Robbie."
Scott stood outside the gymnasium, listening to the two combatants inside. When Sarah had said she needed time to herself, he hadn't thought she meant 'time getting the shit kicked out of me with wooden sticks'. On the other hand, if he'd known what she meant, he might have been more insistent that they talk things out; grinding pemmican to relieve stress was one thing, but what Sarah was doing sounded downright vicious. She'd been at it for close to half an hour with a man who'd been there when she arrived. Given the gist of the conversation (or lack thereof), Scott had concluded that this must be one of the childhood friends she'd promised to introduce him to. He looked up from his study of the flooring when the noise stopped, and he heard the two move toward the door. Scott turned to leave, not wanting to spark a new disagreement now that Sarah had worked off her frustrations. The footsteps stopped, though, and he found himself pausing along with them, curious what would happen next. The only person he'd ever seen Sarah with from her past was 'Tasja Weir; from what both of them had said, 'Tasja was the exception and not the rule when it came to wherever they had grown up.
It was Sarah who spoke first, this time, her voice quiet. "It must be nice."
"What must be nice?"
"Lisa. She's one of us; she knows what it's like, and doesn't ask questions. With Scott... I love him, I really do, but he's so different. I don't know how to tell him, even the things I can tell him."
"To be honest, Sarah, I can't imagine what it must be like for you. I'm lucky with Lisa, and I know it; she knows what's missing, and she speaks our language. Yeah, she has some gaps, but she knows the basics. I...I don't know what to tell you, Sarah. You think he'll sign on?"
He heard her sigh. "I don't know, Robbie, and that's what worries me more than anything." There was a pause. "Well, almost anything. I'm...I'm having dreams, Robbie, the kind Aunt Teyla had. Your dad cleared me, and I'm supposed to be okay, but what if I'm not?"
Scott flinched at the sound of wood splintering, loud in the quiet night. He turned, and nearly jumped out of his skin when he found someone standing behind him. The stranger was a somber blond boy with a deep tan and some impressive muscles. Very impressive muscles. The boy was frowning, and crossed his arms in a manner that was not-at-all reassuring. "Can I help you?"
Thursday, March 19, 2026
Somewhere, Lisa concluded, there was a dictionary with a definition of "awkward" that featured a picture of the lunch table she was currently sitting at. Well, maybe it wasn't quite that bad, but almost. Sneaking a glance at Robbie, she had a feeling he was feeling the same way. You didn't realize how much of what you talked about was classified, until you had someone without clearance at the table. Oh, it wasn't that the words "Stargate" and "Atlantis" were thrown around all the time when they talked, but many of their normal discussion topics required stilted explanations and led to noticeable pauses as people tried to remember approved cover stories.
Scott was trying, at least, although he kept shooting Cameron nervous glances. Lisa didn't know what that was all about, but she hoped it was nothing serious. They'd been amusing each other by telling Scott their cover stories and seeing if he could keep them straight. "So, let me see if I have this right. Your parents," he pointed at Robbie, "are a doctor and a personal security consultant. You're at the Air Force Academy, and your little sister wants to go to Westpoint." Robbie nodded. "Your mother is a farmer, and your sister wants to be an architect like your uncle." He pointed to Cameron, who nodded in turn. "Your parents are biologists in Chicago." Lisa nodded, impressed with his memory. "And you," he pointed at Sarah, "your father is a research scientist, and the other one is second in command of a major trade organization, formerly a pilot. I don't know what you call that here in America, but in Canada we call that a drug lord." There was a moment of stunned silence, and he smirked. "What? You think I hadn't figured it out by now? My parents are cops, you know."
Sarah blinked, and then started to giggle. It was like a dam breaking, and soon everyone was laughing, although Lisa was sure it was for other reasons than Scott believed. Maybe this would work. She cast another glance over at Sarah, and felt her heart tighten just a little. Maybe it would work, but something had Sarah spooked, easy laughter or not.
Later that afternoon, when the went their separate ways, Lisa pulled Sarah aside and handed her a cell phone number. "Call, any time. I mean it." Sarah had curled her fingers around the slip of paper and nodded sharply, pulling Lisa into an Athosian embrace before walking away.
Friday, March 20, 2026
"Three beers and one Pina Colada, please." Fraser smiled at the bartender, and scolded himself as he unconsciously tugged on the cuff of his jacket again. There was no reason to fidget, he was merely having drinks with the parents of his future daughter-in-law.
The bartender raised an eyebrow. "Pina colada?"
"Two umbrellas, if you would be so kind."
"Gotcha. Coming right up." The man turned away, and began pulling the requested drinks, while Fraser went back to tugging on his cuffs, trying to line up the edges of his shirt and jacket just so. He was startled by the reappearance of the bartender. "Here you go. Three beers, and one Pina Colada, two umbrellas."
"Thank you kindly." Fraser accepted the drinks, taking a moment to balance them before crossing the room to his table.
Doctor McKay, the reason Fraser had realized that these two men were Sarah McKay's parents, eyed his beer suspiciously. "It's not a Corona, right? No citrus? Because the last time someone bought me a beer, there was this confusion, and Major Hotshot here-" The man in question made a noise that sounded rather like an indignant squawk. "Had to stick me with an epipen. I am not doing that in a public restaurant again. Hell, I'm too old, and far too important, to be having to undergo such humiliation. I - wait. What is that frozen thing? That doesn't have citrus in it, does it?"
"Of course not, Doctor McKay. You mentioned your preferences quite clearly before I approached the bar." Fraser forced a smile, and glanced over to see how Ray was faring. Not terribly well, if the speed at which he was winding and re-winding his bracelet was any indication.
"Right, good. Unless, of course-"
John, as Doctor McKay's husband had been introduced, reached over and picked up the beer in contention, placing it in the doctor's hand. "Rodney, just drink the damn beer. It's good, it's cold, and it's made with real hops. Shut up and drink."
Fraser raised an eyebrow at the comment about 'real hops', but chose to reply to the other portion of the statement. "I cannot see the problem in being thorough about stating an allergen concern. Pardon my pun, but anaphylaxis is nothing to sneeze at."
John shook his head. "Rodney likes to go a little overboard. I kept an eye on the bartender; it's all good. And I'm sorry if I'm a little tense, but I have one night off, out of my week of scheduled vacation, and I would really like this evening to be as stress free as possible." He settled back in his chair, and took another casual sip of beer, closing his eyes and giving a contented sigh. "God, I've missed good beer." He opened his eyes again and set down the beer. "So, I hear your son wants to marry my daughter. Any particular reason I shouldn't castrate him?"
Fraser choked on his Pina Colada, but Ray seemed to take the question more or less in stride. "You heard right, but I think that of the two of them, your daughter's the one with the concerning background, don't you agree?"
John paled, and even Doctor McKay seemed taken aback. The doctor recovered first, and was on his feet and mad. "Now, you wait just a minute. Sarah may not be normal, but that's not her fault, and I don't care if your son is marrying her, it's still not your concern. Don't you ever suggest that my daughter isn't entitled to anything!"
Fraser cut in, trying to diffuse a situation that was rapidly spiraling out of control. "Now, I'm sure that's not what Ray meant. Given our former occupations, Ray unfortunately tends to be suspicious of even the most normal situations. A friend of ours in the CSIS mentioned that Sarah had an unsual background, and it is a matter of concern to us. When we adopted Scott, we made a promise that we would keep him safe. That is all we are trying to do."
John reached up and grabbed Doctor McKay's sleeve, pulling him back into a sitting position and shooting a glance around the room. Fraser blinked, recognizing the general survey for what it was, and also realizing that it wasn't the first time he'd seen the man perform it. John had been scanning the room at a little over two-minute intervals, as had Doctor McKay - odd behavior for someone in a field like theoretical astrophysics. As the doctor resettled in his seat, Fraser noticed a scar running up his arm. It brought to mind the odd callusing he'd found upon shaking the doctor's hand - a theoretical astrophysicist, especially one in management, should not have the hands of a soldier. A lot of things about Doctor McKay didn't quite match up with his purported career. John's voice pulled Fraser out of his musings.
"We understand that, and we can sympathize. Sarah's safety has always been one of our highest priorities, and I would do anything to protect her. We both would. It's one of the reasons we wanted to meet you for ourselves, to see what kind of extended family she might be picking up. We're not looking to pick a fight here. And I, wait-" John frowned, and his forehead crinkled in thought. "You said that you contacted a friend at the CSIS." Fraser blinked at the change in topics, but life with Ray had taught him to be quick on the uptake.
"Yes, although technically Ray was the one who called Director Thatcher. It was a simple precaution, and certainly no slight was intended against your daughter."
Doctor McKay answered before John could. "Wait, Margaret Thatcher? As in, the woman currently making life miserable for every soul in the Cheyenne Mountain Facility??"
Fraser couldn't help himself, and reached up to rub at his eyebrow. It appeared the gentlemen had indeed met Director Thatcher. "There is a distinct possibility, yes..."
He was spared a reply when the doctor's eyes fixed on a point by the main doorway, followed soon by John's. Fraser turned, realizing that John and Doctor McKay had managed to claim the only seats with a clear view of the room, and saw that Scott had just entered, accompanied by one Sarah McKay.
"You're not pregnant, are you??"
Sarah blinked at the greeting from her father. "Papa!"
Papa looked defensive, but not nearly defensive enough for her liking. "What? It was a reasonably question! Katerina Weir is two years younger than you, and she's not even marrying the Genii bastard. You've never shown any interest in dating; why shouldn't I suspect something?"
Sarah rolled her eyes. "I don't know, let's see. Because I'm an adult? Because I'm finishing my doctorate, and I'll be able to vote soon? Or maybe because I've known Scott almost a year, he's not terrified of you and therefore refusing to date me, he's not terrified of dad and therefore refusing to date me, and I want him to move home with me when I graduate? You pick!" She looked over at her father, but he promised to be no help at all. If she didn't know better, she'd think he enjoyed watching her fight with Papa. Come to think of it, she didn't know better...
"You know damn well that if you recommend him to the selection committee they'd recruit him in a heartbeat. Zelenka's been hurting so badly for staff on the maintenance crews that he's still pestering me to bring down the application requirements so he can take BS-only candidates. Don't even pretend you're that far out of the loop, young lady."
She was cut off by her father pointedly clearing his throat. "So, how 'bout that Avalanche?" She turned, and found Scott and his parents staring at them with mildly dazed expressions. Oh. Right. She mentally thanked her father, but then realized the flaw in his plan.
"Er, Dad? The Avalanche became the Whitehorse Whistlers five years ago."
He blinked. "Oh, right." He shot an apologetic look at Scott's family. "Sorry, never was much for Hockey. So... dinner?"
That seemed to snap them out of their confusion, and they approached the waiting hostess. Scott's dad, Ray, got with the program immediately once they were seated. "Right, food. Food is good." He pulled out a pair of glasses and opened his menu, skimming the contents. "So, steak?"
Her dad nodded. "The steak here is great, and you don't even have to ask any embarrassing questions like where it came from."
"Er, right. What you said." Ray pulled off his glasses and tucked them into a pocket. "We do Alberta beef up North, so no questions there, either. And Chicago. Chicago had great beef."
"Yes, but Ray, if you recall, it was the expose on the Chicago meat-packing industry that lead to the formation of the FDA in the early nineteen-hundreds."
"Yes. Health Canada is, by comparison, a rather recent enterprise."
Sarah frowned, sipping on her water. "What's FDA?"
Ray looked at her like she was crazy, and even Scott looked a little taken aback. Luckily, before anything could be said, her dad stepped in. "FDA stands for Food and Drug Administration. They're the group that regulates food and medicine in the United States."
"Huh. Kind of like Uncle Carson, but meaner?"
Papa choked on his water, and muttered something about Carson being plenty mean, but it was her dad who answered. "Yes, exactly like that."
Anything else he might have said was cut off by the ringing of Papa's cell phone. He pulled it out, and hit the 'on' button, not even bothering to look at the display. "No, I do not know where General Sheppard is. No, I will not call him for you. And, no. I don't really care that the Canadian bureaucrat is making your life hell, HE'S ON LEAVE!!" There was a pause, and his expression became something resembling contrite. "Oh, Miko. Yes, yes, Zelenka has my full support, no, I am not authorizing Wilkin's project to move on to the next phase, especially not the week of the hurricane, and for God's sake, I'll be back tomorrow night. Can't those idiots do anything?" He sighed. "Look, tell them I'll have Sheppard back by midnight. No, I will not promise anything earlier."
He slammed the phone shut, and looked up at Dad with a sigh. "I miss the old Miko."
Sarah raised an eyebrow, intrigued. "Old Miko?"
Papa smiled in fond remembrance. "Yes, the old Miko. Back before you were born, there was a time when all Miko said was 'Yes, sir.' and 'Sorry! Sorry!' and 'Can I help?' Now, she thinks she can tell me what to do. Physicists, you give them an inch and they take a planet."
Dad cleared his throat again. "You wouldn't know anything about that, now would you, Rodney?"
"Oh, please, you know very well that was an accident!"
Deciding that her parents couldn't be trusted to remember a little thing like classification, and not really wanting her future in-laws to be found 'dead of natural causes' (jerks or not, they were still Scott's parents), Sarah stepped in. "So, who's ready to order?"
Scott shot her a relieved expression. "Well, since your father said that O'Malley's has good steaks..."
Thankfully, Scott's parents didn't ask any unfortunate questions, but Sarah knew they wanted to. She knew Scott wanted to, too, and she loved him just a little more because he didn't.
Dinner went as well as could be expected, and far better than Sarah had feared after her last attempted evening with Scott's parents. She wondered what her parents had said to cause the change, because Scott certainly hadn't been expecting it. He had spent half of the meal shooting her curious looks, and the rest staring at his parents in surprise as they'd both been not only polite, but respectful of her family's secrets. She had a feeling there had been some kind of truce reached at the bar before she'd arrived, but she wasn't going to ask questions. There were times it was better not to know.
As they dispersed from O'Malley's, she pulled Scott aside. "I know you have questions, but my parents fly out in the morning. Can I...can I meet you back at the Academy later? I promise we'll talk."
Scott nodded. "I'll see if I need to do any damage control with my folks. They were a little too well behaved at dinner, especially Dad."
She leaned in, and gave him a brief kiss. "And that, among many other reasons, is why I love you."
He blushed, and shook his head ruefully. "It's good to see you in a better mood. Look, you get going, see your parents. We'll talk later."
"Thanks!" She grinned, and jogged over to her waiting parents. Who were currently arguing over who was going to drive.
"I don't care how much we still have banked, we're not going to blow it all on speeding tickets. you got three the last time we visited. THREE! We were only back TWO DAYS."
"Rod-ney, you can't even fly a puddle jumper in a straight line."
"That only happened twice, and once was because you were giving me a blow job. That hardly counts."
Smiling, Sarah cleared her throat, and both men turned to face her wearing highly embarrassed looks. Aah, it was good to be amongst family. And sometimes, it was really good to be the kid. She grabbed hold of her father's arm and swung it gently. "I don't care who drives, but let's get out of here. Find a park, or something."
Her dad's expression softened, and he tugged her into a tight hug. "Hey, kiddo. We've missed you."
She smiled, and pressed her face into his neck so he wouldn't know that she was close to tears. "Missed you too, Dad." She clung to him for a long moment before pulling herself back together and stepping away. Before she could even start to turn, her papa had her in his arms. She laughed shakily. "Missed you too, Papa. It's been...really, really hard."
He rubbed her back for a moment, then released her, tossing the keys at her dad. "John, you drive. Somewhere on the lake."
There was silence as they climbed into the car and pulled out of the parking lot. It continued through the short drive, as if they all knew that the coming conversation would need their full attention. When John reached their destination, he parked and they all made their way down to the water. It was only after they were seated, her parents next to each other on a bench and she cross-legged at their feet facing out at the water, that her father spoke.
"Do you love him?"
She smiled; he'd started with the easy one. "Yes."
Papa took the next line of discussion. "You know it's going to be difficult, the adjustment. You've seen the new kids, how some of them never make the transition. You know that the therapy is still only 50% effective."
She nodded, leaning her head against his knee. "I know. But I can't stay here; I think I've always known that, even if I didn't want to admit it to myself. It was never a choice, just a stepping stone. But...I don't want to lose him, either. Scott is strong; I think he can make the transition."
"And if he can't?"
She flinched, even though she knew it had to be said. She felt her father's hand come down and stroke her hair, taking the sting out of the words. "Then at least we'll have tried. He'll sign the same forms as everyone else; I'm not asking for, or expecting, special treatment. And as Papa already said, Uncle Z will be thrilled to get his hands on another young mechanical engineer that he doesn't have to untrain."
"True enough, true enough." She heard a rustling, and looked up. She smiled, finding her father's arm resting around her papa's shoulders. She loved the times like these, when everything was quiet and they were just together. They were rare, but some of her best memories were from the calm that followed a storm. She felt bad breaking the silence, but she couldn't help it.
"Dad, Papa, there's something you need to know..."
"Oh my God. You are pregnant!"
She heard the sound of a hand hitting a head, and didn't need to look to know that her father had just smacked her papa. "Rodney, let the girl talk." There was a pause, and when she didn't fill it she felt her father's hand squeeze her shoulder. "Go ahead, Sarah."
"I've..." Her voice was scratchy, but swallowing didn't seem to help. "I've been having dreams."
They didn't ask what kind of dreams, there was no need. That had been one of the constants of her childhood, just like the Don'ts. Don't hit. Don't push. Don't fight. Don't get angry. "Did you have a nightmare, Sarah? What was it about?"
Her papa's voice was no better than her own. "How long?"
She shrugged. "They started four months ago, but they've been getting more frequent. The first one was over the holiday break. It's always the same two dreams, over and over. I don't...I don't know what they mean." She heard her voice crack, and her father's hand tightened on her shoulder in reassurance.
"We'll find out, Sarah. Nothing's going to happen to you; I won't let it. We won't let it."
She was crying freely now, with her face pressed against her papa's thigh. "Promise?"
She felt her father's arms come down and pull her up onto the bench, wrapping her in a hug and pressing a kiss to her forehead. "I promise. Carson's had a whole year more to play around with the queen-specific genetics, I'm sure he's got a better idea about what might be going on. And once you get home, you can sit down and have a nice long cry with Teyla. Maybe she'll even make you Tuttle Root Soup. How does that sound?"
"Da-ad! Yuck!! Aunt Teyla can't cook anything!"
"Did it make you smile?"
She hiccuped softly, but found to her surprise that she was, indeed, smiling. "Yes."
"Then it did its job. Now, much as I love you, you are not five anymore, and I am not forty. Off!" She obediently slid down onto the bench between them, and leaned against her father's shoulder. "You know, I swear you've gotten bigger since you came to Earth. Rodney, what do you think?"
"Yes, because pollution is so well known for stimulating growth." She giggled at the familiar line of argument; it had come up every time they had visited Earth, and every time the comments were the same.
She felt her dad shrug. "Well, maybe not. But you are getting older." He cleared his throat, and she felt his hand move to hold Papa's hand. "Your father and I have been talking, and we'd like to give you an engagement present."
She blinked; that wasn't at all what she'd been expecting. She managed a startled "Oh?"
She saw him nod in the dark. "We've talked to General Mitchell and the Office of Homeworld Security, and they've given permission for Scott to be granted SG-Level clearance, pending his acceptance of the standard non-disclosure agreements."
She turned, trying to gauge his veracity in the low light, and then turned to her papa for confirmation. "Are...are you serious?"
Papa nodded. "There has to be some kind of perk to the kind of hours we work, right? I mean, aside from everything else, at least. Do you...is it okay?"
She was smiling so hard her face hurt. "Okay? Papa, this is the best gift ever. Thank you!!" She stood, and turned so that she could wrap her arms around both her fathers, whispering "Thank you, thank you" over and over. She felt her father's hand come up and rub softly at her back.
"Hey, hey, least we could do, right?"
She shook her head. "It's more than that, and you know it."
"Well, it's the least we could do for you. We have the paperwork back at the base; we can swing by and pick it up on the way back to the Academy, if you want."
She hugged her papa again, and then moved to hug her dad. "Thanks again. I'll tell him tomorrow, after we get back to Vancouver."
She could feel his smile against her cheek. "You do that, kiddo."
There was a beeping sound, and she realized that it was her papa's watch. "It's, er, 2330. We need to be getting back to the base."
She pulled away, and stood, turning back to face them with a careful smile on her face. "Duty calls, right?"
Papa snorted. "More like 'incompetent morons bellow', but your father always did favor the sentimental version." He paused, wincing as he stood. "We really are happy for you Sarah." He pulled her into a hug. "You take care of yourself. Your brain is far too important to waste, and you know it." She smiled, and nodded.
Next was her father, whose hug would likely have hurt a normal human. "Things will work out, Sarah. We'll figure this out when you get home; Carson is the best at what he does."
She smiled, but it was shakier this time. "Of course, Dad." She took a step back, and glanced at the sidewalk. "I'm going to walk back to the Academy. Take a little time, think things through."
Her father opened his mouth to protest, and then closed it again. "You're all grown up now, Sarah. I'll leave it to you." She smiled more sincerely this time and nodded.
Her papa made a face, but didn't complain when her dad put a hand on his shoulder and turned him toward the car. When they reached it, however, he turned back to face her again. "See you soon, Sarah."
She smiled, and waved. "See you soon."