FOR THE CHILDREN
By AnnieEMAIL: Annie
Rating: 18+. No explicit sexual content but contains mature adult themes, including discussion of child sacrifice and death.
Summary: Janet risks her life to help a little girl and change the ingrained beliefs of an alien race.
Notes: This story was originally published in "Destinations", a het zine published by Ashton Press. Thanks go to Lyn for betaing, Annie for publishing it and Wilma for the beautiful artwork of Jack she did for the story in the zine.
This story was a huge departure for me. I don't normally write het fics but I always loved the character of Janet and hated that they killed off her character. So I apologize to those of you who only see Jack with Sam. If reading about Jack with someone other than Sam bothers you, by all means delete this fic. I mean, I won't know you did, right <bg>. This fic was written as a favor to a friend, who wanted to see some slightly different pairings than the norm. I hope you enjoy it anyway.
Dr Janet Fraiser held out her arms to the small child standing in the center of the arena a few feet from the stargate. "Come on, sweetheart. Its okay." She kept her voice low and reassuring, willing the child to run to the shelter of her arms.
"What is this?" the high priest roared. "You would dare interfere in our rituals? The child is deformed and as such is of no worth. Her only value lies in appeasing our God."
Janet glanced across at the girls mother. The woman met her eyes briefly, then buried her face in her headscarf and turned her back.
"Doc, take it easy," she heard Colonel ONeill murmur. "Lets see if we can talk them out of this."
Janets shoulders slumped. She had spent the past two days trying to convince the people of P4X531, without success, that sacrificing children born with deformities wasnt going to save their planet from destruction. These people believed that the reason these children were born to them was because their God was displeased with them. The fact that more of their people had become sick had only confirmed this belief. Shed tried to explain that the high percentage of children born on their planet with birth defects was not due to an angry God, but to the chemical deposits that were being leached out of the soil by the mining methods they were using, and their practice of unknowingly polluting their water supply with its waste products. Colonel ONeill had told them that if they agreed to be relocated, the disabled children could be treated and their people would be safe to begin life anew on another world. The SGC had a planet in mind- P4Z125 matched the Trionans home world in almost every respect and its native population was small and peace loving, and willing to welcome the newcomers.
SG:1 had met the Trionans on a routine exploratory mission a week ago. The team had noticed a dozen or more children with obvious birth defects and had asked Janet to come and assess them before they were moved to their new home. In the meantime, ONeill had spoken with General Hammond and he had okayed the SGC helping to settle the Trionans on a safe planet, if they agreed.
The child turned, her small face filled with uncertainty as Janet once again held out her arms. Seeing the little girl hesitate, Janet broke cover and ran to the child, scooping her up. She saw a brilliant flash of light and felt a stabbing pain through her shoulder. The child in her arms spasmed and Janet would have fallen if Tealc had not suddenly appeared at her side to support her. She heard the Colonels voice shouting for the Gate to be opened and minutes later felt Tealcs hand in the small of her back, propelling her through, still holding onto her precious cargo.
The tumble through the wormhole left her in a disoriented heap on the ramp, the child clasped to her protectively, as SG:1 landed beside her. She heard the General call for a medical team as she sat up, her head still spinning, and instinctively she put her fingers to the girls neck.
Nothing. She heard the childs agonal breathing and then saw the wound in her chest. As a doctor she knew there would be nothing they could do to resuscitate the child. She numbly let the medics take the girl from her arms.
She pushed away the hands surrounding her, wanting only to be alone. Her shoulder throbbed, but she managed to drag herself to her feet and began to make her way falteringly to the bottom of the ramp. The lights of the Gate room alternately dimmed and glared, the walls wavering in and out. She felt moisture on her cheeks and raising her good hand to her face, realized she was crying.
"Doc, wait a minute. You okay?" She recognized Colonel ONeills voice. She nodded her head, wanting only to get away, but he inadvertently snagged her injured arm and she moaned despite herself, feeling her knees sag from the pain. The room began to tilt around her and she felt herself lowered gently to the floor.
"Jesus, Doc, why did you have to go and do that?" she heard ONeill say.
She forced her eyes open, seeing his worried face above hers.
"Lie still, Janet. Looks like she got hit by the same weapon blast as the girl," she heard him say to someone at her other side. She turned her head in that direction and saw Daniel, his eyes narrowed in concern.
"God, Jack, theres so much blood," Daniel said, sounding horrified, as he reached a hand out and carefully brushed a strand of hair from her forehead. "Cant tell how much is the girls and how much is from Janet."
A voice called for medics, somewhere in the distance. She closed her eyes, feeling a hand take hers, hearing Jacks voice telling her to hang on. She tried to focus on the voice, willing herself to open her eyes but the pain was too overwhelming. It pulled her down into the darkness and she couldnt resist any longer.
She heard voices murmuring above her. One moment she would think she recognized them and then the memory would be lost as the fog in her head relentlessly pulled her back to unconsciousness. Sometimes she was in pain and then she would feel the cold sensation of something being injected into a vein, and the pain would recede into warm drowsiness. At the back of her mind she registered the touch of a strong hand holding hers, the fingers stroking her wrist and the only words that she could hear clearly, "Youre going to be okay, Janet." She struggled against the restraints of her mind, trying to pull all the threads together. She remembered a small girl, whose face was deformed in some way, remembered the weight of the child in her arms, the flare of agony in her shoulder and then nothing. Eventually, she gave up trying to remember and slept.
"Janet? You with us?"
She fought her way up out of the cloud misting her mind and saw a familiar face above her.
"Colonel?" she asked huskily. She fought to sit up, pushing back the lingering remnants of unconsciousness.
"Go slow, Doc, okay? Youve been out of it for a couple of days. Just take it easy, all right?"
She felt him push her back to the pillows and she relaxed into them, enormously tired. She could feel the pull of stitches in her shoulder and the tug of an IV as she moved. She focused her eyes, taking in the familiar walls of the infirmary around her and the face hovering above hers.
"The child!" She propelled herself forward as memory became crystalline and she saw again the little girls wound.
Jack grasped her arm. "They did what they could, Doc. I'm sorry, she was just too badly injured. The Trionans have agreed to have the other children treated and to be resettled. You tried to help her, Janet. You did all you could. Rest now, okay?"
At his words, Janet felt as if the whole world had come crashing down on her. She felt the tears start somewhere deep inside and turned her head, hoping he wouldnt see. But he heard the hitch in her breath and pulled her into his arms. "Its okay. Get it all out," he murmured, as he patted her back. She sobbed for what felt like hours until he finally pressed her back to the bed and she drifted off to sleep.
When she woke again, she felt better, the pain had receded to a dull ache. She tried to lever herself to a sitting position and instantly felt herself restrained and pushed back gently onto the pillows.
"Easy, Doctor, Ill use the bed controls to sit you up. Dont want to disturb any of those nice new stitches."
"Michael?" she asked, still a little hazy.
"Yeah, nice to have you back with us, Doc." The nurse grinned at her as he adjusted the bed. "Youve got quite a line up of visitors waiting to see you. Guess Id better tell the General youre back among the living." He handed her a glass of water and held it as she took a sip, then moved to the phone on the desk and made the call.
Janet leaned back and tried to relax. She figured shed be in for some flak over breaking cover against the Colonels orders and running out to grab the girl. She vaguely remembered Jack telling her the other children would be helped and decided that news alone made any disciplinary action worthwhile.
Michael came back to the bed. "Okay, Doc, weve worked out a visiting roster of sorts. But the minute you look like youre getting tired, Im pulling the plug, okay?" he smiled.
"You wont get an argument from me," Janet replied. Truth to tell, she felt exhausted, but she needed to see her friends, to connect with them and to feel that the world was back on its usual axis.
She glanced up as General Hammond came in. "Howre you feeling, Doctor?" he asked, gently.
"Ill be fine, sir. About what happened, I can explain, sir I know I should have waited but I saw what they were going to do to that little girl and I just couldnt " Tears came unbidden to her eyes and she blinked them back forcefully and swallowed hard against the lump she suddenly found in her throat.
"Doctor Janet, lets not worry about that for now. From what Ive seen of Colonel ONeills report, theres no mention of you disobeying orders, if thats what youre worried about." He smiled knowingly at her, then patted her uninjured shoulder. "Ive contacted Cassandra " He raised a hand as she began to speak and then continued, "Dont worry. I didnt tell her exactly what had happened, just that youd had an accident off world and that you were going to be fine. She wanted to come back but I managed to convince her that you needed rest more than anything else and that youd want her to stay at camp. But, if youd rather have her here, I can send someone to pick her up."
Janet shook her head. "No, its her first school camp. I feel better knowing shes there. I cant look after her properly at the moment anyway. Thank you, sir. Ill call her myself later."
"You have a few more visitors, then after that get some rest. Thats an order, Doctor. We cant afford to have you out of action any longer than absolutely necessary." Hammond nodded at Michael and left.
Next through the door were Daniel, Sam and Tealc. Janet tried to suppress a small twinge of disappointment that Jack wasnt with them but hed been with her before, she knew. Somewhere amongst the cotton wool memories of the time after shed been hit, she could recall the sound of his voice and the comforting security of his hand.
Daniel held her hand gently and told her to hurry up and get well, while Sam leaned forward and kissed her cheek. Tealc seemed unsure of the correct procedure and after a few indecisive moments, shook her hand softly and then, following Sams example, bent to kiss her as well. They didnt stay long. Michael had already warned them that there was a ten-minute limit on visitors.
After theyd left, Michael took her vitals again and noting her elevated pulse rate, added another amp of Demerol to her IV. Janet didnt mind, she knew she would have done the same in his position. She closed her eyes, the drug coursing through her system, then finally feeling some of the tension dissipate, she rested. When the door opened again, she knew without looking that it was Jack.
"Hey, Doc," she heard him say as he reached to take her hand in his. "How you doing? Feeling better?"
She opened her eyes, seeing the concerned face gazing down at her. She tried to struggle into a sitting position, feeling his hand moving to her shoulders as he sought to restrain her.
"Whoa, slow down. I didnt mean to startle you. Stay still, okay, or else Michael over there will have my butt in a sling for upsetting you," he said, smiling at the nurse.
"You got it, Colonel," Michael grinned back, "Im just gonna go check out some of my other patients, okay? You need anything, Doc, just buzz."
Janet nodded and turned back to face Jack. "Sir, before you say anything I just want to tell you Im sorry I disobeyed your order "
Jack pressed a finger to her mouth, silencing her. "What order is that, Doc? Nothing in my report about it. Seriously, Janet, if you hadnt grabbed the kid first, I would have. Im just sorry you got hurt and that we couldn't save her. Now, I know Im gonna get in serious trouble if I dont let you get some sleep, so Im going to say goodnight, okay?"
She nodded, wearily and felt his mouth gently touch hers.
He straightened and grinned down at her. "Hey, Janet, at least now you know what it feels like on the other side of the patient doctor thing. Get some sleep. That *is* an order, doctor. Hey, what do you know? For once I think I actually outrank you in the infirmary."
As she closed her eyes, he carefully kissed her mouth again and left the room.
Janet made her way slowly over to the couch and sat down. "Thanks for the ride, Sergeant. Ill be fine now." She smiled up at the beefy airman whod driven her home.
"You sure, Doctor? I can hang around for a while, make you something to eat " the Sergeant replied.
"No, really, Im fine. Im a bit tired, actually. Ill just try to get some rest."
"Very well, maam. I hope youre feeling better soon." The man saluted and left.
Janet sighed and rested her head wearily against the back of the couch. She wasnt sure if she was relieved that Cassie was away for another two weeks or not. She knew it would be at least another week before she was back up to speed again and that she really wouldnt be up to caring for Cassandra right now, but even so, the house was way too quiet without her energetic adopted daughter around.
Realizing she hadnt been lying when shed told her escort that she was tired, Janet decided to do what shed tell any of her patients whod just been discharged from the infirmary and get some rest. It was only 1600 hours, but sleep pulled at her and she slipped down onto her side, pulling a blanket from the back of the couch to cover herself. She tugged a cushion beneath her head and another in front of her to rest her injured arm on. She was asleep in minutes.
The roaring of a huge crowd made her glance up and around and she saw she was standing at the edge of a huge arena, which was filled with people. Colonel ONeill stood at her side, his hand gripping her arm, holding her in place. She turned to look up at him, wanting to ask him why they were here, but a voice from the middle of the arena drew her attention away from him.
"Mom? Whats happening? Where are you? Mommy, Im scared."
Janet squinted against the bright lights, finally able to make out her daughters figure crouched before a man in a robe of some kind. The man held a weapon aimed at Cassies head. The girl looked pleadingly toward her mother and Janet could see the tears pouring down her cheeks.
"Its okay, Cassie. Im coming." She tried to move forward, but found she was held firmly back by the Colonels hands on her shoulders. "Let me go. I have to get to her," she cried, trying futilely to wrench herself from his grasp.
"Theres no point," ONeill said, tonelessly. "Theyll kill her anyway. I told you not to try."
"No," Janet shouted. "I wont leave her. I have to try. Help me save her, please." She looked into Jacks face, pleading desperately with him, then recoiled as the face of the Trionan High Priest replaced ONeills features. "No!" she screamed. "Cassie! Jack, help me please!"
She heard a weapon fire and turned back to the arena in horror but she couldnt see her daughter any longer. She felt a heavy weight in her arms and looked down to see the blood soaked body of the little girl she had brought back through the Gate. "No," she whimpered.
Then the weight in her arms was gone and she was being shaken, pain shooting through her shoulder at the movement. She groaned and tried to pull away, hearing someone shouting her name. Then she was pulled forward to a sitting position and there were strong arms around her and the voice shed heard before was murmuring quietly, telling her everything was okay, while a warm hand rubbed soothing circles on her back.
"Jack," she whispered.
"Yeah, Im here. Its okay. You were having a nightmare or something. I couldnt get you to wake up. You all right, now?" he asked gently.
She nodded against his chest but then the dream came back to her and she wrapped her fingers in the fabric of his shirt and clenched down on her lip, while tears slid down her face.
"Hey, hey, its okay, Janet. Its okay. Ssh," Jack whispered, never stopping his comforting stroke on her back, as he rocked her in his arms.
"Sorry," she managed to say but he just shook his head and pressed her more closely against his chest.
Janet had no idea how long they stayed like that but eventually the tears and sobs receded and she took a shaky breath and pushed herself away. She wiped the remnants of the tears away with the back of her hand as she turned her face away from Jacks. "Im sorry. I dont know whats wrong with me. Youd think Id be over it by now."
"Why? Why would you be over something as terrible as that?" Jack asked softly, still holding her loosely within the circle of his arms.
"Because Im a doctor. Its not the first time Ive seen someone die. Hell, Jack, its not even the first time Ive seen a child die. I thought Id gotten used to it," she replied.
"Janet, maybe the last time you saw a child die, you werent a mother yourself. It changes things, somehow. Before Charlie " ONeill swallowed hard before going on. "Before Sara and I had Charlie, Id read about accidents involving kids in the newspaper and think how sad it was, but after he was born " His voice trailed off.
"You imagined how youd feel if that was your child it happened to," Janet finished for him.
"Yeah," Jack whispered.
"God, Jack, Im so sorry. I didnt mean to dredge up painful memories for you." Janet leaned forward and pressed a chaste kiss to his cheek.
"Janet, you didnt do anything. Its something that happened. Could have happened to anyone. Sometimes, I wish it had happened to someone else. But, then I realize if that was true, then someone else would have had to experience the pain Sara and I went through. Id give anything to have Charlie back, Janet, but I wouldnt wish that pain on anyone else. Youre the most compassionate person I know. I cant imagine that youd ever get used to the death of anyone. Thats why youre such a good doctor. And you need to remember that what you did was the turning point for those people. You saved a lot of kids from suffering the same fate as that little girl." Jack bent his head forward until their foreheads were pressed together. "You need to get some sleep. Real sleep, I mean. You hungry?"
Janet shook her head.
"Okay, so bed, doctor," he ordered with a smile, standing up and pulling her carefully to her feet. "You cant be comfortable sleeping here. I could make you some tea or something?"
" No, Im fine, Jack. You dont need to stay."
"Let me take care of you tonight, Janet, all right? I get the feeling that youve been taking care of everybody else for way too long, now, and theres been no one to take care of you."
"Jack, I dont want to keep you up. You must be exhausted too. Go home. Ill be okay, really," Janet said, turning to walk toward the front door, her heart thumping painfully in her chest, one part of her thinking it would be best if he left, the other wanting desperately for him to stay.
Jack snagged her hand. "Janet?" he said, so quietly she had to stop and turn to hear him. "Id be happy to stay with you tonight no strings," he added quickly. "I just know when I lost Charlie, I would have given anything to have someone there for me."
"You had Sara," she said.
"Sara and I were so full of our own pain, we tore each other apart," he said, no bitterness in his voice. "Id like to be here for you, Janet. If you want me to ?"
"Keep away the bad dreams?" she asked, a note of hope in her voice.
"Hey, Im Jack the Goauld killer, remember? Bad dreams eradicated to order." Jack pulled her back until she was hugged up against him, careful to protect her injured shoulder. "Janet, it doesnt have to be any more than that, unless you want it to be."
Janet looked into the brown eyes gazing into hers and made a decision. For at least one night, she could have someone who cared enough to help her keep the demons at bay. "I want you to stay, Jack."
He smiled at the words then bent and kissed her mouth, tenderly. Pulling back, he raised a hand and cupped her cheek, then brushed caresses with his lips over both her eyelids. He lifted her into his arms and buried his nose in her fragrant hair, then carried her into the bedroom.
Janet lifted a hand to caress the head resting against her breast. She felt filled with a warm lethargy, more fulfilled and at peace than shed been in years.
"You okay?" Jack asked, lifting his head and taking her mouth in a sweet, soft kiss. "Hows your shoulder? I could get you some painkillers."
"Thats the third time youve asked me that," she smiled, pulling his mouth back to hers, sucking his lower lip into her mouth and nibbling on it gently with her teeth, then releasing it. "Its fine, Jack. A bit sore, but thats to be expected."
"Well, youre the doctor, Doctor," he said. "Hey, Im tired. How about you? Want to try to get some sleep?" He turned her onto her side and moved behind her, snuggling her into the shelter of his body, spooning them together, his chest warm against her back.
"No bad dreams?" she asked, feeling drowsiness creeping up on her.
"Not with me here. Go to sleep, Janet. Ill be here when you wake up," Jack whispered, his breath warm against her neck.
Janet closed her eyes, feeling his hand moving in a hypnotically comforting rhythm on her back. Gradually she felt the fear recede, till all she was aware of was safety and love and Jacks arms holding her close, keeping the nightmares away.