Apart now, John and Cassie realise that there are some things stronger than them... and decisions are made.
John prowled the hallway at night restlessly. His head ached, this throat was tight, his eyes were sore and he had problem concentrating. He knew that some of his decisions were a little 'off' and Elizabeth had ordered him to see Carson in case he had picked up a bug off world. He continued prowling through the darkened city until morning came and reluctantly made his way to the infirmary.
“So Colonel, what can I do for you?” Professionally Carson noted the dark circles under his eyes and the haunted look that had been there since the day that Cassie left, three months ago. Taking his blood pressure, he found it elevated and popping a thermometer into his mouth, noticed that it was a little spiked, but not dangerously so. “Eating son?” he asked, recorded the weight that John had lost. “Not much of an appetite lately Doc, food tastes a little... off...” was John's reply.
Carson indicated that John lie down on the bed. “Any pains in your stomach?” At John's nod, Carson began carefully probing the abdomen area, asking John to point out where it hurt. When John pointed to his chest area, Carson felt a glimmer of understanding and asked John. “What sort of pain son? A tightness, hurts to breathe sometimes?” At John's nod, Carson stood back and indicated to John that he should sit up.
“Son, I know what your problem is.” John sat up and looked hopefully at Carson, glad of a quick diagnosis so that he could get the necessary pill and get back to some normality in his life. “ You're in love Colonel and unfortunately it's the most deadly disease of them all...”
John growled angrily, not in the mood for levity. “I'm not joking Colonel, you are in love and quite literally heartsick. You have two choices, or should I say two remedies. The first choice, you swallow your damn pride and you go get her and bring her back. If you're too stubborn to do that, your second choice? Put all that emotional energy that is literally churning you up inside, into another relationship. There are plenty of lovely ladies on the base who would give their eye teeth to go out with you!” Carson stood back with narrowed eyes, awaiting John's reaction, knowing this was something that needed to be said, hell – should have been said weeks ago before it got to this point.
“Go and get her? I can't do that Doc. I can't take her away from her life. She has to make that decision on her own, without my influence. I won't have that on my head.”
“Well, you're a stubborn lad, so that only leaves you option two. You need to start dating again.” Carson wanted to shake him out of his lethargy.
John gave a grimace of distaste. Date someone else? There was only one woman he wanted and she was living another life in another galaxy. He had received some news during the three months she had been away. After the court case, Jack had sent him a copy of an article that appeared in a magazine,a story told by a reporter who had followed the two week long trial and spent time in Cassie's company. John inhaled the words greedily and carefully cut out the accompanying pictures hiding them inside a copy of War and Peace, a book he had brought with him from earth and sat beside his bed for nightly reading. The pictures were getting a little bedraggled now, but each night he brought them out and sat there staring at them. His favourite and perhaps the most poignant, taken during the trial at a lunch break in the park, where she sat on a park bench, that glorious hair, untamed, just as it had been on Atlantis, fanned out to catch the autumn sun, and her head and been tipped up to look at the leaves and there was a look on her face that reminded him of a sunset shared, so long ago. Jack had also sent him a copy of the new CD that she had released and as soon as he heard the opening lyrics of the first song, he knew instantly where her inspiration had come from, and this too, was played and over so that when he shut off his lights each night, her voice was the last one he heard.
Oh yeah, Doc was right. He was in love. Not wanting to worry Carson further though, and to give some semblence at normality, he agreed to go out on a 'date' the following Saturday night.
Cassie stood in her New York apartment looking out the window down at Central Park. Resting her forehead against the glass, she pondering the past three months. Atlantis seemed a lifetime ago, but each moment rose clearly and starkly in her mind. Watching the sunrise over Central Park, she remembered another sunrise, the whisper of a man's voice, his scent as he stood behind her. Her head ached and with a clenching pain in her stomach she ran to the bathroom, barely making it there before throwing up. Wiping her face down with a damp cloth, she looked at herself in the mirror critically – her skin was clammy, the darkened circles under her eyes and the feeling of listlessness. It had been a gruelling three months, pushing herself hard in an effort to escape the memory of the man and his touch, viewing her surroundings with new tarnished eyes and a disillusionment for her lifestyle here. This was no longer what she wanted. She had recorded a new CD, made up of earthy, raw songs that were the creation of the emotional influx of feeling that churned through her since her return from Atlantis. Sighing, she made the decision to visit the doctor to see if perhaps she was coming down with something.
Later that afternoon she stood in the doctors office, buttoning her shirt up, a stunned look on her face. “You're pregnant Cassie” her doctor had told her, a troubled look in his eyes. “I can see that that you've not been taking care of yourself, let yourself get run down. You're three months along Cassie and I'll need to give you a prescription for some vitamins and I want you to rest. I know you've been pushing yourself hard, and you have to slow down.”
Cassie cradled her stomach now, sitting in the back of the service car en route back to her apartment. She had pushed herself through the two week ordeal that was the court case, the week after her arrival back on earth. She recognised during that trial, that she was a stronger person than that girl who had stepped through the stargate in Antarctica and as a result, she was able to give convincing testimony against her abductor and look him in the eye when he received his sentence of many years in jail. Jack had attended the court case with her, but she had not seen him since, putting him off whenever he rang and she knew that he was worried about her.
She felt new life inside her, and smiled feeling John close for the first time in three months. She rested her head back again the seat and closed her eyes, picking up her cellphone to call Jack. She had something to discuss with him.
A week later Elizabeth was called down to the gateroom with an unscheduled offworld activation. Hearing the SGC's IDC Elizabeth gave the OK to lower the shield, and waited expectantly.
It was a tiny figure that stepped through the stargate, dropping a large bag carelessly at her feet and gazing almost obsessively around the gateroom as though memorising every detail. Her brilliant green gaze finally came to rest on Elizabeth and her smile lit her face. Something's changed, Elizabeth thought. There was a glow to her cheeks and a restlessness in her eyes, but she was so thin, too thin and looked as if she might have broken if she was held too tightly.
“Cassie!! It's wonderful to see you!” Rushing forward now, Cassie hugged Elizabeth and the older woman could feel the tears sliding carelessly down Cassie's face. Wiping them away impatiently, she asked “where is he Elizabeth?”
Elizabeth keyed her comm. “John? Where are you?” She waited for his reply then told him, “stay put, I'm sending someone up to see you.” Smiling now, she told Cassie “he's in the mess.” Cassie's face lit up and giving Elizabeth another hug she whispered “I'll tell you soon...” and ran up the stairs to get to the cafeteria.
John was seated at an intimate table for two, a lovely dark haired woman by the name of Cilla beside him. This was the 'date' that Carson had encouraged him to go on, and Carson being overly helpful, had offered to set him up with the friend of one of his bio assistants that he himself was currently dating. Tonight was their first date and John tried hard to make interesting conversation, but unbidden, Cassie's face kept intruding, her voice, her scent and he sighed, feeling guilty that he was not able to give Cilla his full attention. Cilla, no fool, realised that his heart was not on this date, and placed a hand lightly on his arm. 'John, don't get me wrong, I think you're wonderful, but I can't help feel that I'm second choice here...” John raised a slightly despondent smile for Cilla and at that moment, felt a thud of shock settle over his body as the woman whose face would not leave his mind, appeared in the doorway of the mess, looking so much more beautiful, and so much more fragile than when he had last seen her.
She stepped further into the room, her cat like eyes narrowing at the intimacy of the seating and the sight of Cilla's hand resting casually on John's arm. She stalked slowly, with the easy flow of a predator stalking his prey, advancing on the table, but those green eyes were for John only and he could not drag his own gaze away from hers.
“When the cat's away... hmmm?” Anger flashed across her face now. “It didn't take you too long to find someone to keep you … company....” He hands slapped down on the table and he could not help but inhale her scent, almost giddy with senses overload, he could only stand, pushing his chair roughly behind him, looking down at her not able to find any of the words he wanted to say. Cassie's anger slipped slightly then, and when her breath hitched and tears flooded her eyes, she whirled away from the cosy scene in front of her and ran through the mess intent on getting back to the gate room.
Ronan had been alerted to her arrival and he met her at the doorway of the gateroom, running headlong into him in her need to escape. His strong arms moved to steady her and when she looked up to see his face, she collapsed against him sobbing now and he knew instinctively what she had witnessed. He cradled her against him and moved into the gateroom to collect her bag that still rested carelessly where she had left it and John's running footsteps echoed as he entered the room behind them.
He stopped abruptly when he saw them and scrubbed his hands through his hair and Ronan saw the panic in John's eyes. “Ronan, tell her man... tell her for god's sake!”
Ronan moved Cassie away from him and turned her toward John, hands resting lightly on her shoulders now. “Look at him Cassie! Does that look like a man who has been having any sort of fun while you've been away. Really look at him Cass, don't do this to yourself or John. Look at him!” Cassie dragged her eyes up and reluctantly ran her eyes over his face, and saw as Ronan had wanted her to see, the ravages the last three months had taken on John. The pain in his eyes mirrored her own and he reached out a hand imploring “there's never been anyone else Cass... there never will be...”
John's eyes widened in alarm as he saw the sudden pallor of her cheeks and he sensed rather than saw her legs begin to buckle and was there in seconds, gathering her into his arms before she hit the floor. Holding her, heat surged through him and the fuzzy layer that had covered his thoughts and emotions for the past three months fell away and there was finally light ahead. The tapped his ear comm and snapped “Carson, we have a medical emergency in the gate room – I'm bringing her to the infirmary now.”
Carrying her through the halls to the infirmary, he could barely take his eyes from her face, so pale it was almost transclucent. Carson met them at the door and his eyebrows shot skyward when he saw the tiny bundle that John carried in his arms.
“Cassie? Put her on the bed lad, quick!” John gently laid her on the bed, hovering until Carson pushed him away. “Let me look at her, you're getting in my way!” He lifted her eyelids, saw the rapid flickering underneath, one hand at her wrist taking her pulse registering her elevated heart rate while he cast a professional eye over the rest of her body.
“Cassie love, can you hear me?” Carson spoke softly, his head bent a little closer to hers, and her eyelids fluttered open. “Carson... I feel sick...” He quickly passed her a bowl and she leaned over to retch, John stepping forward to hold her hair clear, but there was nothing just a painful retching that seemed to take all her energy out of her. Exhausted, Cassie collapsed back onto the bed and her eyes met Carson's in silent understanding.
“Colonel? Can I get you to wait in the other room, I just want to take a good look at her.” Carson shouldered John out of the way when he went to protest and pointed a finger to the other room. “I'll be quick lad, and you'll just be getting in my way here. Wait in the other room... for now.” John reluctantly backed away from the bed as Carson sat down beside Cassie but he did not speak to her until John had left the room.
“How far along are you lass?” Cassie looked at him, some colour returning to her cheeks. “Three months Carson... I came back as soon as I found out... to tell him...” Carson sighed, not able to break patient confidentiality, but needing to reassure her. “He's been lost Cassie love, like a man only half living. I forced him to make a decision – either go and get you or start dating again, but his heart wasn't in it. There wasn't anyone else, but his stupid pride stopped him from doing the one thing he should have done!”
“There wasn't anyone else for me either Carson... I was so lonely...” Looking up, they saw John come back into the room, followed by Teyla, Rodney and Ronan, all of whom were anxious to see Cassie. John hung back a little as the others stepped forward to give her hugs and as if sensing his reluctance, they stepped back a little. John stepped forward now, a question on his lips. “Cassie... why'd you come back... I need to know...” He watched her face but it was her hands that told the story as he followed them down to her stomach where they settled protectively. He moved then, to stand in front of her, his own hands reaching out to cover hers and he felt it then, an essence,a tiny life force and his eyes flew upward to meet her green ones.
“Our baby John. I wanted you know...” Abruptly he got up, tears in his eyes. “How long are you here for?” He held his breath and she seemed to take forever to reply. “That depends John. I still need you to ask me.”
Pride warred with a rush of love so overwhelming it almost knocked him off his feet and he dropped to his knees in front of her, resting his head against her stomach as love finally managed to push pride aside.
“Stay Cass... here with me. I don't want to be here without you... I need you, please stay...” She tangled her hands in his hair and sighed, cradling his head against her stomach. “That's all I ever wanted John...”
Looking up at her now, a smile lightened his face and he stood, picking her up and strode out of the room, calling over his shoulder as he went. “We're done here Doctor! I'm taking my woman to bed!”
Carson murmered a prayer of relief. “Thank God!” and Ronan was heard to mutter “now I won't have to shoot him to put him out of his misery.”
John smiled as he strode down the hallways of Atlantis, Cassie in his arms, with his...baby! His axis shifted and settled and permanently righted itself.