Warning: SG1 – Cameron Mitchell, Daniel Jackson
Author Notes: This is an older story I wrote in my SG1 writing days. Soon after Cameron Mitchell was introduced it occurred to me he needed some backstory. This was my effort at that. It was written before and ignores "Bounty."
The slamming door and quickly moving footsteps told Julie that her daughter was home.
"Mom!" came the voice up the stairs.
"Ronnie! Running!" replied Julie over her shoulder. It was mom-speak for 'no running in the house' -- an ongoing dialogue between mother and daughter.
The footsteps slowed slightly as they approached the office. A tall, skinny 10 year old girl stood slightly breathless in the doorway. "Guess what?"
Julie paused in her typing on the computer and tilted her head and pretended to consider. "It's raining purple frogs?"
"Umm..... let's see.... There's a blue cow in the middle of the driveway?"
A giggle. "No!"
"Hmmm.... There's a porcupine at the front door selling magazines?"
More giggles. "Mo-o-m!" said Ronnie in the exasperated voice only a 10 year old can do when their parent is being silly.
"Cam's coming home for the weekend!"
For a nano-second, Julie went still. Years of practice made her breathe normally. "Oh? Is that so? And what else did Uncle Mitch tell you?"
"That Cam is coming home tomorrow and spending the entire weekend!" said Ronnie gleefully. "And that we're invited to a cookout on Friday night!"
Uncle Mitch was Julie's next door neighbor who said he didn't want to be called Mr. Mitchell, 'reminds me too much of Dennis the Menace, somehow' but Julie had insisted on some form of proper address for her young daughter. As a result, he had become Uncle to Ronnie and he had adopted them both as family. Living alone, he had time to spend with Ronnie when Julie was busy teaching creative writing at the university. Over the years, Ronnie had the run of both houses and considered both places as home.
"Well, then that means we have to think about what we can bring to the party," Julie said. "Shall I make eggplant?"
"Yeccchh..." replied Ronnie. "Brownies," she countered.
"Plain old brownies?" she asked mock-doubtfully. "Are you sure?"
"You make the best-est brownies, mom," said Ronnie, pleadingly. "Please?"
"Well, since you ask so nicely," Julie laughed, "Sure."
"Yahoo!" whooped Ronnie. "I told Uncle Mitch he could count on you for brownies."
"You little rascal," laughed Julie. "Now wash up for dinner and set the table."
"Okay," replied Ronnie, scampering off to her room.
Julie sighed. She closed up the story she was working on and tried not to think too much as she went down to the kitchen to get dinner ready.
Later that night, after Ronnie had been put to bed, Julie sat in her backyard and couldn't help thinking. Cam.... Coming home.... It had been a long time since she had seen him. And it was long enough of a time that she didn't quite know how well she was going to deal with it. Well, it was too late to panic.
The next day dawned bright and clear. Ronnie bounced off the wall in anticipation of seeing Cam. Every car that came up the street was source of keen interest to the young girl. Not soon enough for Ronnie, but too soon for Julie, came the announcement, "Mom! He's here!" Ronnie would have pelted out the door if Julie hadn't said, "Stop! Give him a chance to talk to his dad for a minute before you butt in."
"Mom, he's got someone else with him!" Ronnie exclaimed, leaning out the door. "Ohh.... He's cute!"
Now Julie's interest was piqued. Cam hadn't brought many friends home with him over the years. His visits were few enough and he generally didn't share his time home with his dad with his friends.
After pretty much scraping Ronnie off the ceiling from her excitement, Julie gave in. "Okay. Go!" and smiled as her daughter went flying through the door.
At the Mitchell house, Cam had just finished introducing Dr. Daniel Jackson to his dad when Ronnie came through the door. "Cam! You're here!" Ronnie said breathlessly all but launching herself at him.
Cam lifted her up and swung her around. "How's my best girl?" he asked, grinning. He gave her a big hug and put her down and put his hand on the small of his back, pretending to be hurt. "Wow! You're getting big. Don't know if my back can take that much longer."
"I'm almost 5 foot tall. I'm taller than the boys in my class. And smarter!" said Ronnie proudly.
"I'll bet," replied Cam. He turned to Daniel. "Dr. Daniel Jackson, I'd like you to meet our next door neighbor, Miss Veronica Davidson. Miss Davidson, meet Dr. Jackson."
Ronnie rolled her eyes. "He knows how much I hate being called Veronica. I'm Ronnie," she said as she held out her hand to Daniel.
Daniel took the proffered hand, and in the spirit of the moment said, "So pleased to meet you Ronnie. Call me Daniel."
Yup. She liked this one. She grinned up at him, "So you a friend of Cam's? You work with him? Can you tell us anything more about what you do than he ever does? Do you like brownies? My mom makes the best. And do you fly?"
Cam held up his hands at the barrage of questions. "Jackson, you're on your own with that one. She'll get every secret there is out of you if you don't distract her."
Daniel grinned. Ronnie reminded him in many ways of Skaara. Bright, curious and very young. It was comforting, that memory was good and didn't hurt so much anymore. "Brownies? Did you say brownies? That's a particular weakness of mine, you know."
"My mom makes the best-est brownies. She's making them for the cookout tonight," said Ronnie.
The elder Mitchell said in explanation, "Well, this one was going to be here anyways, it's easier to invite her than to get rid of her. And since that would leave Julie home alone, I invited her over, too."
"Good. It'll be good to see Julie again, too," said Cam easily. "Come on, let me show you where you can put your things."
Ronnie followed them out to the car as they went to get their bags, and seemed disappointed that they only had small overnight bags to bring in. "Uncle Mitch said you were spending the weekend," she pouted. "You didn't bring any gear."
"Sorry, honey, but it's only tonight and we have to get back tomorrow. So I don't have time to fly this time," Cam said. He put down his bag and squatted down to talk to her. "But I promise next time to stay longer and take you up then."
"But it's forever until you come back!" she protested.
"Not this time," Cam said solemnly. "I'll come back sooner. Cross my heart."
Daniel put in, "And I'll make sure that he keeps that promise."
Looking thankful for the unexpected support, Ronnie brightened up. "Well. Okay. But next time you gotta get me into the base and take me up in a jet."
"Where'd you learn to negotiate like that?" Cam laughed.
"My mom," replied Ronnie. "She talks to me about teaching and her books and things."
"Oho! I'm going to watch out for you," said Cam. "If you're anywhere near as good as your mom, I'm in big trouble."
At Daniel's inquiring look, Cam explained, "Ronnie's mom is Juliette Davidson."
Even Daniel recognized the name of the prolific author of not only a series of popular children's novels, but of a number of books that the nurses in the infirmary at SGC couldn't get enough of.
Ronnie nodded proudly. "Yup. That's my mom!"
Cam ruffled her hair. "Ok, scoot for a bit. We're going to visit with my dad and you can come back when it's time to start cooking."
"Okay," Ronnie replied. She hugged Cam, thought about it and quickly hugged Daniel, "Glad you came with him." Surprised, Daniel hugged her back.
The two men took their bags into the house as Ronnie ran back to her house. "Julie and Ronnie are like family. Julie actually grew up in that house and she and I went to school together. After her folks died, she stayed and now dad kinda looks after them."
After dumping their bags in upstairs bedrooms, the three men sat on the deck and opened some beer. After a few minutes of comfortable silence, Cam's dad casually said, "Ronnie's getting pretty big, isn't she?"
"Yup," Cam replied. "And looks more like her mom every day. Hope she's not too much trouble to you."
"Nah. That girl will never be trouble," Mitch replied. "She's bright and has more energy that even you did at that age. Once she grows into herself, she'll be something really special."
Daniel listened to the conversation, sure that he was missing something, but didn't know what. He wanted to ask, but something made him keep his questions to himself for the moment.
"So what really brings you home this time?" the elder Mitchell asked. "Not that you need a reason, but you don't stop by often enough."
"Well, we ran into a, umm, situation that made me realize that I hadn't been home in a while and Jackson here didn't believe I really had a family so I brought him along." Cam was referring to the mission on Galaran where Cam has been falsely accused of murdering a scientist. In proving he was innocent, Cam had been forced to re-live some memories that included his dad. This visit was pretty much on orders from General Landry after the outline of those memories came out in their debriefing.
"Can't talk about it?" Mitch asked.
"Nope, sorry," replied Cam, with regret in his voice.
"Well, doesn't matter. You're here and you're always welcome."
Cam looked relieved, as if he hadn't been sure of that.
The talk drifted off to more mundane matters. Mitch talked about the work he was doing around the house and at the local VA, working with vets dealing with amputations from duty in the Middle East. "Some of them are tough nuts to crack. We almost lost one recently. Had me fooled into thinking he was adapting but he had been saving up his meds and tried to OD." He was silent for a minute. "Had to send him to a psych unit for better folk than me to deal with him."
They were all silent for a long time.
"Okay. Enough. Almost time for dinner anyways," said Mitch.
As he said that, Ronnie came running into the back yard. A woman's voice floated around the corner of the house, "Slow down. You'll make me drop these." At that threat, Ronnie slowed slightly but didn't stop until she was on the deck. "I'm cooking!" she announced.
"Says who?" teased Cam.
"Says me," replied the woman. "I've eaten your cooking, Romeo, and I'd rather have Ronnie cook than you!"
Daniel looked startled. "Romeo?" he echoed.
The woman grinned up at him. "You must be Daniel."
Daniel grinned back, "Yes, I am. And you must be.... Oh, I get it. Juliette – Romeo...."
Cam rolled his eyes. "Hey, no telling on me when we get back."
"Oh, I'm not going to tell," replied Daniel. "At least not right away. I'm going to save that one for a long time."
"Hey! That's blackmail!" protested Cam, easily.
"And you use that as you need to," Julie added, laughing. "He needs someone to keep an eye on him."
"No fair ganging up on me!" Cam rolled his eyes.
Ronnie danced around the adults. "Can we cook now?"
"Sure, honey," said Mitch. "You know where everything is."
Ronnie darted into the house for the things she needed. Mitch had prepared some salads and beans earlier, when he knew Cam was coming home. Ronnie only needed to cook up some hotdogs and burgers for everyone.
Soon they were sitting around the table, eating and chatting comfortably. What is it about this woman Daniel asked himself curiously. He could see that Julie and Cam's dad got along like a father and daughter, but she was just a teeny bit stand-offish when it came to dealing with Cam. It was so subtle that Daniel didn't think Cam realized what was going on.
Ronnie wiggled in her seat at the table. As Julie and Mitch talked, Ronnie leaned over to Daniel and asked, "Do you fly?"
"Me? No, sorry. Been in planes a lot, but I'm no pilot like Cam," he answered her.
"I'm going to be a pilot as soon as I can get a license," she stated. "I'm not old enough yet, but Cam's taken me up a bunch of times and Uncle Mitch helps me learn about how airplanes work."
"He does, does he?" Cam entered the conversation.
"Well, you're not here often enough to help," she shot back at him. "And I'll bet he knows as much about planes as you do, anyways."
Cam leaned over and whispered loudly, "I think he knows more than I do, but I'd never admit that to him."
They grinned at each other. In that moment, Daniel understood.
Julie got up and said briskly, "And you need to get some sleep, young lady."
"Awww.... Mom...... just a little longer?" begged Ronnie.
"Nope. If I give you 5 minutes, it'll turn into all night and then you'll turn into a wiggly pink centipede and I'll never get you home," teased Julie, but firmly.
"Okay. Okay." Ronnie hugged all three men and said "Good night. Don't let the bed bugs bite."
Seeing Julie trying to carry not only the brownie pan but some books Mitch had lent to her, Daniel got up and said, "Let me help you with that."
"Oh, it's not far," she protested.
"Ah, but someone needs to help fair Juliette return to her castle," replied Daniel, giving a sweeping bow.
"All right," she said. "And thanks!" She handed the books over to Daniel and waved goodnight to the others.
At the side door of the house, she said, "Come in. You can put those in here." She nodded her head towards the large family room. She came back into the family room and found Daniel looking at the books on the shelves. "Wow! I knew you had written a lot of books, but this is impressive!"
She shrugged modestly. "Between my writing and Ronnie and teaching classes at the University, it keeps me busy."
Daniel hesitated but found himself asking gently, "Does he know?"
She looked up startled. And then looked at him for a long time before answering softly, "You're very good. No." And was quiet for a minute. "And we'd like to keep it that way."
"Ah. Mitch knows."
"Yes. I had to talk to someone and he was there. We've agreed this is for the best."
"I haven't known Cam long, but he wouldn't be happy to learn this now."
She sighed. "Mitch and I have been over it. Cam wouldn't be happy doing anything but whatever it is he's doing now. And he wouldn't be off doing it if he knew that Ronnie was his daughter."
Daniel considered this. And knew she was right. "That doesn't make it right, you know."
She said unhappily, "I know. I know. But I don't have the heart or the strength to ask him to stop doing what he's doing. He loves it so." She smiled bravely. "So we wait for him to visit and soak up what we can and send him back with good memories. It's best for all of us."
"Ronnie adores him," said Daniel.
"From the beginning, she's always responded to him. At this age, I know she dreams that he's her father and will sweep her up and take her wherever he goes off to. But she needs more stability than that." Julie sighed. "So we wait for a good time to tell him. When he was injured last year, we came close. But then he made such a miraculous recovery and stayed in the military, we knew we couldn't take that away from him. Not after he worked so hard for it."
"The longer you wait..." Daniel started.
"Yes. The angrier both of them will be with us. But in the long run, it will be worth it. Ronnie gets to know her grandfather, gets a stable life and gets to see Cam often enough to almost know him. And she doesn't grieve as much when he goes away."
No as much as you grieve, Daniel thought to himself.
"You're secret's safe with me," Daniel promised her.
She looked at him. "Yes, I think it is. Thank you." She hugged him quickly.
Daniel walked slowly back to the Mitchell home. "Hey, what kept you so long?" Cam teased.
"I was trying to get that brownie recipe for the commissary," he replied.
Cam laughed, "They'd only get it backwards anyways."
Mitch looked closely at Daniel and when Daniel asked no further questions about Ronnie or Julie, he relaxed. They sat finishing their beers and talked about everything except the women next door.
The next morning, Cam and Daniel were having coffee when Ronnie burst into the kitchen. "When are you leaving? When are you coming back? Will you send me any postcards from where you go? Can you send postcards?"
"Slow down! We have to leave shortly, sorry. Don't know when I'm coming back.."
"Well, bring Daniel again. He's nice"
"Why, thank you, Ronnie!" said Daniel. "And I think I can promise that Cam'll be back sooner than you think!"
"What do you know that I don't" Cam asked, inquiringly.
"Just that this is much too nice a place to stay away from for very long and I need an excuse to come back. I don't know if they'll let me come back here without you," Daniel replied evenly.
"Yes. Yes. Yes. You can come any time!" said Ronnie, enthusiastically.
"Okay. You're ganging up on me again," said Cam. "I promise it won't be as long."
And I will get you back here more often, promised Daniel to himself.
They said their good-bye's to the elder Mitchell and as they backed out of the driveway, they waved to Julie and Ronnie who were standing in the front yard next door. They drove their car down the street with Ronnie waving madly until they were out of sight.
Julie sighed. And took a deep breath. "Ok, chores, young lady," she said. "Or I'll turn you into a poke-a-dot hippopotamus."
Ronnie laughed as she went into the house.
Later that night, Julie lay in her bed remembering every second of Cam's visit. Not soon enough...