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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 7:31 pm 
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December 28th 2013, 11:15

Claire turned the cool pounamu carving over in her hands, the lump in her throat making it almost impossible to breathe. It was a small piece of home, a piece of home that was threatening to reduce her to uncontrollable tears.

She hadn't been able to get leave for Christmas, and, as such, had decided that she might as well take as many shifts as possible to allow the other doctors and surgeons to spend extra time with their families. She had Skyped her family on Christmas day, but it wasn't the same. She had wanted nothing more than to be there with them, enjoying the noisy, rowdy happiness that came with any gathering of her extended family.

She had missed their tradition - spending Christmas day on Karekare beach - almost as much as she had missed seeing her family. It was the warm familiarity of it that she craved, and something that was missing from her life in Colorado. Sure, she had friends, but there had been nobody to spend Christmas with. Since Christmas eve, she had worked twelve hour shifts every day, sleeping in the on call room rather than going home to her empty apartment. At least she had people she cared about - her patients - in the infirmary, and it gave her something to focus on.

Now, though, all the beds were empty, the nurse on duty was on her break, and Claire had taken a break from pretending to catch up on paperwork and tidying the stock cupboards for the hundredth time. Instead, she was sat in her office, the door open, turning over the jade carving in her hands, again and again. It had been a Christmas present from her parents, and it had only arrived that morning. Claire had let it sit on her desk until a few moments ago, until she had been ready to open it and face what she was missing.

It was these quiet moments, these private moments when there was nobody else around when she allowed the homesickness to take hold, and Claire stopped turning the carving over and over in her hands, holding it close for a few seconds, and let the silent tears come.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:25 pm 
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Caleb had been back at Cheyenne less then 48 hours, he had managed to get a short bit of time off to see his parents back in England for Christmas, something he was pretty sure he wouldn't actually be getting that year. Had flown out there, enjoyed the rather freezing cold temperatures of London for a few days before he had flown back to Colorado. It had been the first time he had seen his parents since he had started working for the Stargate programme, it had been difficult for him to actually keep any of the stuff he had seen to himself.

There had been the odd time when he had started explaining something only to stop half way through, change the whole thing just to fit with the classified nature of it all. Not that his parents really knew the classified clearance level system, they weren't military, had no one but there only son in the military so didn't always grasp what it meant.

But the visit had been good, there had been a nice family meal the three of them, hell he had even worked on a car with his dad for part of Boxing Day before he had gone out, spent a lovely night with a very nice red head before he had hoped onto a plane back to America. He was still waiting for the jet lag to kick in, it hadn't so far.

He had reported for duty once more, but before he was able to continue on doing whatever it was they wanted him to do next, he was told he had to have a check up. Apparently medical check ups were mandatory for going back onto the off world rota, not that he had been off world that much, but well he wasn't one for arguing the point yet.

So he had managed to ask around to see who was on duty, armed himself with a coffee - or what passed for the warmest drink on base he could find - or two and headed down there. The corridors in the mountain were empty, the sound of his footsteps echoing as he walked, he wondered just how many people were on leave for Christmas.

Pushing the door open with his shoulder he stepped into the infirmary, and spotted the good Doctor Te Atua sat in her office doing something with her hands, it was rather difficult to tell from the distance he was at. Putting on his most charming smile, because well he couldn't not help smiling when it came to her or to any female on base by that point in time.

"So here is the thing, I did say I would bring you a drink down after you stitched me up and all, it might be a few months late but," he started speaking, tone light and teasing, he stopped at the entrance to her office. He hadn't even actually announced or knocked on the door, but that was just him, of course once he was this close he saw the tears on her face.

He looked around the infirmary quickly, there was no one there, he never was very good when it came to people crying. Not that good anyway, he placed the drink in front of her, the smile dropping to a slightly softer smile, "I can leave, if you want to be on your own?" he asked, thinking that if he ever got himself that upset he'd want to be on his own. Wouldn't want anyone to see him in such a state.

"Of course if I leave that does mean I'll have to go find the on duty nurse to chat to," he said, hoping a little light joking will help the situation. There was no need to explain that when he said chat, he meant flirt shamelessly, and as outrageously as possible.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 8:53 pm 
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Claire hadn't heard Caleb's footsteps, or noticed any movement as he came into the infirmary. She had been so absorbed in her own thoughts, the pain from the homesickness, that she probably wouldn't have noticed if the place had started falling down around her ears.

She had thought she had handled her first Christmas away from home well. In fact, she had thought she had coped admirably, when it couldn't be further from the truth. All it had taken was one little reminder of home, and here she was, a red-faced, blubbering mess who seemed quite unable to push her rampaging emotions away and get on with things.

Almost dropping the carving in fright as Caleb spoke, she placed it with reverence on her desk, quickly dashing tears away with the heels of her hands. "Caleb," she said, her voice hoarse and quiet. Claire cleared her throat, taking in the coffee that Caleb had placed on her desk, and the smile on his lips. He offered to go, and she surprised herself by shaking her head.

"Don't go," she said, her voice just short of pleading. "I just..." She shook her head, giving a tiny huff of laughter as Caleb said he'd need to go to find the duty nurse to "chat" to. Taking a deep breath, Claire rubbed at her eyes once more, leaving them reddened and her cheeks blotchy. "Christ, I bet this wasn't what you were expecting when you came down here!"

She had a reputation for being cheerful but no-nonsense, and it was rare that anyone saw her with her defences down. In fact, this had to be the first time it had happened since she had come to the SGC. She wished it hadn't been Caleb to witness it, though. Sure, they were friends, but they weren't particularly close. This was going to be awkward to bluff her way through it, that was for sure.

"What brings you down here," said Claire, trying - and maybe failing - to steady her voice. Nobody just came down to the infirmary unless they had a specific purpose, especially not someone like Caleb, who was as averse to doctors as she was to dentists.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 9:28 pm 
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"There is a lot of things I expected to see when I walk into an office," he said, smiling, with an added wink for good measure just so she would know exactly what he meant. Because he might have become friendly with Claire, he had enjoyed the night out that everyone had gone on a while back, but he wasn't friends, friends with her and really the fact he had caught her crying....well it was an odd situation to find himself in.

Not that he was going to go shouting it all around the base, no way, there was enough things going around the base about him - things he quite happily encouraged of course - without it being added that he somehow made the good Doctor Te Atua cry. Because that was how it would get warped, someone would say something and then it would get twisted into the fact he had made her cry, which wasn't true, he had never made anyone cry. Okay that wasn't true but the woman had been crying happy tears when he'd made her cry, but that was very much besides the point.

He was about to actually turn around and leave, he had offered, was sure she would tell him to sod off, when she actually told him to stay. Which was surprising and he wasn't quite sure what he was meant to do with that, wasn't sure how he was meant to react anyway. So he did the only thing that sprang to mind, he sat down in the chair in front of her desk, stretched his legs out in front of him, looking for all the world like he had quite literally just come down to the infirmary for a quick chat with a crying doctor. Almost as though it happened every day.

He set the extra cup down on the table surface, "Yours," he said, nudging the cup further towards her, whilst wrapping his hands around his own drink. The one thing he hadn't quite managed to shake off was the cold that had seeped into his hands since going home for a visit, he should have been use to it by now, but nope the British weather still managed to freeze his hands off.

Caleb just wasn't sure if he was meant to ask what was wrong, was he a good enough friend to ask or was he just meant to ignore the situation and talk about something else. It was one thing he never really understood with women, some actually did want to talk about, others didn't want him even looking there way when they got that upset.

He smiled as she asked what brought him down there, "A variety of things, I might need your expert hands to look some things over," he said, falling back into the usual habit of flirting hoping it was the right way to go. If it wasn't he was sure he would land his arse out of the infirmary faster than he could say Christmas Carolling.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2016 9:51 pm 
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Caleb was trying his best to make her smile - the usual banter and flirting dropping from his lips - but Claire couldn't muster more than the merest twitch at the corners of her lips, a twitch that never once reached her sad eyes. She was too wrapped up in her thoughts of home and family to be able to switch to professional mode.

Over the Christmas period, she had managed to hold it together, keep her mind on her work and her patients, but receiving the carving from her parents had brought to the forefront everything and everyone she missed. It had brought into sharp focus all the homesickness that she had managed to bury for the last few months, and everything had bubbled over, leaving Claire feeling bereft and, for the first time, truly lonely.

Of course, she had friends in Colorado, but nobody she could really confide in. They were all closer to acquaintances than true friends, and she hated to dump on any of them. After all, they all had their own baggage, and it wasn't fair to offload hers on them as well.

Now, though, she may have no choice.

Her expression sober and sad, Claire watched as Caleb took the seat opposite her, his legs stretched out in front of him, as though he hadn't a care in the world. And maybe she was right. He looked supremely confident and relaxed, exactly as she was used to seeing him. It looked as though finding her crying hadn't fazed him at all, and Claire didn't know what to think about that. Maybe if he acted as though this was normal, it might help her. Only time would tell.

"Thank you," she murmured, wrapping her hands around the coffee cup as he pushed it towards her, trying to get some warmth back into her frigid fingers. It felt as though all the heat had been cried out, and she was left with nothing but an ice cold shell, devoid of all feeling.

Claire gave Caleb a small, sad smile as he tried and failed to make her laugh. "Not sure I'm your best option for that today," she admitted, her voice small and quiet. "Don't think I'm much of an expert in anything at the moment." She tried her best to sound apologetic. "Sorry. Rough day."


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 8:32 pm 
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Caleb couldn't quite hide the frown that appeared on his face as his attempts at flirting failed to even get a smile out of Claire, let alone any kind of eye roll. He was honestly use to her just giving him a look if he even so much as tried to flirt with her now, it was such a common place thing for him to do. Not that he would call them close friends or anything of the sort but he felt like they were amicable enough that the flirting would just get teases back, not this, well not this kind of sadness.

He sat himself up a bit straighter in the chair, he didn't like seeing her like this, it made him comfortable....no that wasn't the right word. He wasn't uncomfortable because of her, he had never uncomfortable around a woman ever, it was something else, something that he couldn't quite put a name to at the moment. All he knew was that he didn't really want to see her looking so sad, or to see the tears.

"Nope, no talking like that," he said, voice more sincere than previous, even as he took a sip of his own hot drink. It felt a bit like a lead weight going down, he wasn't exactly sure what he was meant to be doing in this kind of situation, especially considering the fact that even after he had offered Claire had told him he could stay.

"Think you are the best option today," the smile was kind of softer, less flirty now, "Do you want to kind of...uhmm...talk about whatever it is that's...uhmm...bothering you?" He asked, stumbling over his words, this was uncharted waters he was navigating, he was still unsure if he should have mentioned it? Should he have kept quiet? Was he meant to have left even though she told him to stay?

He just didn't know and well he didn't like not knowing something, so yes he might have put his foot in his mouth, or he was going to at some point he was sure, but he didn't really feel like he could leave. Not yet. Caleb knew that this time of year could get to people, hell even his own mother had cried as he'd said bye to them, he had travelled with people that had gotten as homesick as Claire currently looked. Because he knew what that look in her eyes were now, it was homesickness in a sense, it was Christmas and well he had kind of assumed she would have gone home for the holidays.

"Did you not get chance to go home for a visit?" he asked, quietly, his voice almost inaudible. Was he meant to ask that? Was he meant to not mention home at all? He really just had no idea at all.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2016 9:06 pm 
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Claire barely registered Caleb's frown, or his shifting in his chair opposite her. It had quite possibly been the toughest day she had had since leaving New Zealand, and it had just about wiped her out. Caleb had caught her at her lowest moment, and there was nothing she could do to hide that now. She had to wonder whether she even wanted to hide it. He was a friend, after all, albeit not particularly close, but a friend nonetheless.

She looked up, her eyes bleak and desolate, as Caleb told her to stop talking like that. "Trust me, I'm not a particularly good doctor today," she admitted, an ironic bark in her voice. "It's probably a good thing we've got an empty infirmary for once." Her bedside manner, to say the least, was somewhat compromised. She held onto her coffee, her eyes flickering upwards as Caleb took a sip of his own drink. "You managed to find some decent tea, or have you resorted to the sump oil from the mess hall like the rest of us?"

However, Claire would have had to have been blind not to notice the flirtiness dialling back, replaced with a hint of sincerity that she hadn't seen from Caleb before. She was more than a little surprised when he asked her whether she wanted to talk about things.

|Did she want to talk? No. Did she need to talk? Probably. Was Caleb the right person to be talking to? Well, he was there, he was offering to listen, and he seemed to be genuinely concerned. Maybe talking to someone she wasn't that close to might actually help.

Claire swallowed deeply, flicking Caleb a glance as he seemed to read her mind. "How did you guess," she said, her voice hitching in her throat. "The most leave I could have gotten was two days, which isn't long enough to go home and come back, so I just took on as many shifts as possible so that everyone else could see their families." Another sip of coffee, a sip that she wished was laced with something stronger.

She nodded at the jade carving on her desk. "Then that arrived from mum and dad this morning, my Christmas present, and... well, it broke me." Her voice was sad and far away, on the edge of tears once more, tears that she was determined to stave off if she could.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2016 11:27 am 
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That was most definitely not the Doctor that he had come to partially know over the last couple of months, he hadn't ever seen her like this before and somehow, somewhere in the back of his mind he didn't think flirting would actually be the way to go. He glanced over his shoulder to the empty infirmary as she said it was empty, which was good if he was going to be as helpful as he could he didn't want all and sundry to see it. He still had a reputation to keep up.

Caleb couldn't help the small chuckle as she asked him about the drink, in all honesty he hadn't actually been tasting the damn thing it was just something warm to hold in his hands. “Decent tea? What here? I think you've gotta be joking there, don't think anyone really knows how to make decent tea on this base. Last decent cup I had was a few days ago back in England....” and then he stopped speaking realising what he had said.

It was so easy to fall into a pattern of joking around with Claire, that it was just kind of a natural reaction to say such a thing. He winced slightly as he took a sip of the coffee that now seemed to be slimly sliding its way down, yeah there was the putting his foot in his mouth moment. Well at least it had happened sooner rather than later.

He did however make a point of showing that he was listening to her as she explained about not being able to go home. He sat forward so he was resting his elbows slightly on the table, especially when she pointed to object she had been fiddling with. He didn't want to pick it up and look at it too closely, it was hers after all, but he could see the appeal to it, see why it would 'break her' as she had put it.

But he wasn't good at this, he wasn't good at comforting someone who was so very clearly upset, he could listen – he made a very good listener – but he was never sure what to actually say. Was he meant to have the happy note 'cheery up gal it'll be alright in the end' thing? Or was he meant to be sympathetic and tell her that he understood and he felt the same? Because in truth he didn't feel the same, hadn't felt the same in a very, very long time.

“First year I was at sea,” he said, voice quiet, “We were going to miss Christmas, the tour took us through December straight into April, there was no chance at getting home for anyone.” He wasn't sure if this was even going to help her or not, but well he was on a roll now. “Everyone was feeling down, no one could see families, so we ended up holding several Christmases. Crossed so many time zones, everyone figured we would have Christmas day several times.”

It had been a good time in between there work and people had been rather merry for a few days after, he could remember how homesick he had felt at that time. Just he wasn't sure how much it actually helped Claire, but well that was his story, after that first year he hadn't really felt it as painfully, it got easier.

“Is it first Christmas you've spent away from family?” he asked, his voice still quiet.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2016 8:54 pm 
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Claire noticed Caleb glance over his shoulder at the infirmary, no doubt checking to see whether it was, indeed, empty. She wouldn't have been holed up in her office, crying her heart out, if there had been anyone there. She simply hadn't thought that anyone would arrive, either. It was rare that Claire had private moments throughout her day, and she had taken the opportunity to quietly fall apart.

Diverting attention from herself for a moment, Claire smiled weakly as Caleb told her that he hadn't found a cuppa yet. "That settles it," she said, her voice brisk and firm, anything to try to stop dwelling on her homesickness. Pushing herself up from her chair, Claire busied herself with an electric jug, a mug, and a teabag. "Remind me how you like it," she said, her voice husky with tears that were still warring their way to the forefront.

She focused on the tea making for a minute or two, letting the familiar motions soothe her fractured emotions. She couldn't escape the conversation forever, though, and she turned back to Caleb, placing his tea in front of him, before taking her seat again.

Claire studied Caleb for a few seconds. He seemed genuinely interested, appeared to be listening to what she was saying, not just pretending that he cared, and that meant a lot to her. They may be more drinking buddies and mates than close friends, but the fact that Caleb was there, just taking the time to listen... well, that was the action of someone she wanted in her life.

Her eyes were sad and hooded as Caleb started to speak, his voice quiet and almost hesitant. His tale of his first Christmas away from home brought back the pangs of homesickness again, and Claire swallowed them down. She didn't want to cry again in front of Caleb, didn't want to display her vulnerabilities so openly again.

She had a reputation for being strong, feisty, someone who was laid back, while remaining in control. In that moment, Caleb was finding out that everything about her reputation was a fallacy, and that everything she showed to the world at large was just that: a facade.

It wasn't something that she was prepared for.

"Sounds like hell," she admitted, wrapping her hands around the coffee once more, less interested in drinking it than holding onto the mug for comfort. "No matter what, no matter how bad things got, how homesick you felt, you couldn't just think 'fuck that' and go home." She could have just quit the SGC, taken the first flight back to Auckland, but Claire wasn't a quitter. She'd come close, though, on Christmas night, when she had just lay on the bed in the on call room, crying silently into her pillow. It was those moments that she would never admit to. Not until now, anyway.

Caleb's question took Claire aback, even though she knew that she ought to have expected it, it had still come out of the blue. "Yes," she said, her voice a hoarse, husky whisper in the quiet of her office. She reached out and picked up the carving again - a hei tiki - cradling it in her hands. "This... this belonged to my grandmother, and mum and dad decided to give it to me for Christmas. It's a taonga - a family treasure - and they wanted me to have something special from home here with me." She choked back another wave of tears. "I didn't think that missing Christmas with them would hit me like this."


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:44 pm 
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Caleb had never been more glad than when Claire offered to make him a cup of tea, he remembered now why she was his favourite doctor, she made him tea. There were few things that he missed being on a Submarine full of Brits, that was the tea, honestly some of the Air Force blokes he had spoken to often looked at him like he had grown a second head - which he wasn't actually putting past being able to happen any more - when he mentioned tea.

"Any way the lady chooses," he answered unable to slip into a flirty smile as she asked him how he liked it. It was an easy open, if he hadn't have taken it then he was sure he would be admitted for having something wrong with him. "Strong, one sugar, don't need too many sugars most of the women say am sweet enough."

Actually sweet wasn't the word that was thrown around when he was with someone, but well he had already taken a cheap shot, another would just be trying to hard now. Besides, even as he watched her make the tea - it was rather odd watching someone make tea in the middle of a underground mountain in the middle of America - he didn't think taking cheap shots was the best way to go.

He had offered to be an ear to listen to whatever it was that bothered her, the homesickness etc, so he couldn't keep flirting with her, not if he wanted to actually be a....well a friend was the word he was looking for. It was odd, he hadn't actually wanted to try to be friends with many women before, actually there were no women he actually was friends with, but there was something - after the many drinking nights out - about Claire that made him want to try, a little.

It was just difficult for him to drop the charming, flirting persona, he had pretty much lived behind it for so many years it wasn't something that he could drop easily enough. Hell he was still half sure that he was going to put his foot in it at some point, he was just surprised it hadn't happened already.

He offered a tight smile as she placed the mug of tea in front of him, he discarded the rather sludge like coffee and picked up the mug. He took a moment to savour it, it wasn't often he got tea, and he couldn't help the small sincere smile that crossed his face, this was what he missed the most about anything.

Caleb heard what she had said when he had explained his story, honestly he hadn't expecting quite that reaction from her. He also had never considered it in the terms she had just put out before it, and he guessed in a way it had been hell, it had been so hard to get through that first Christmas away from his family. But his own Christmas had been so many years ago that it felt like it had been a different him, a different Leading Rate Williams than to who he was now.

"It was," he answered honestly, if he was going to get anywhere he needed to be honest. "It was the worse feeling ever, but there were people exactly the same situation as me, so we banded together. Sometimes you can't choose how your family comes to you," he offered her a shrug. It was the most sincere, open and honest he had been not just with Claire, but well with anyone on base.

Everyone knew the mischievous, flirty, solider that seemed to hang around in the corridors and occasionally go off world when it was needed, but no one really knew him. If that meant he had to show himself to Claire to make her feel better, well, well he wasn't interested in studying the why, he just wanted her to be back to flirting with him. He might have only been in the office the last couple of minutes, but he was kind of missing the woman that would flirt just as hard back to him, and it not mean anything, he was missing her.

"So this taonga," he said, probably completely destroying the word as he said it, "you say it's a family treasure right? What is the meaning behind it?"


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