Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
Category: Romance, Angst
Spoilers: 1969, Divide and Conquer
Summary: Jack/Sam ship with some adventure thrown in. Rated T for some violence and sexual reference. And a couple strong words.
Disclaimer: Don't own `em. Just having fun.
(aka Leave - Chapter 8ff)
Okay - the prequel to this story, "Leave," was strictly within canon. But now we are heading out into the unknown - thanks for coming along!
Not sure how much sense this will make if you haven't read the other.
"Jack!" Daniel called to him from the other end of the corridor.
He turned and waited patiently, "Daniel?"
"Jack," he began, glancing around to be sure they were alone, "she's not happy."
Jack frowned at him, almost a grimace, "I know that, Daniel." He almost started to walk away, but then turned back. "I did what you said, you know, you and Teal'c... I gave her the choice. She knew-"
"-maybe she didn't"
Jack glared at him for a moment. "She's fine."
"I know - she's acting like it's all `back in the room'" Daniel used Jack's favorite finger quotes sarcastically, "But you know as well as I do that she's... she's not... happy."
Jack glared again. This was SO not his thing. He made a dismissive hand gesture and walked away.
"Jack, you can't just... you have to-"
"-Not taking your advice anymore, Danny" he called over his shoulder in a singsong voice. Then he muttered to himself, "I'm going to do what I should have done a long time ago..."
The next day it was Sam who caught up to Daniel in the corridor, "Daniel, have you seen the Colonel? I need to talk to him about the preliminary info on PD3 219, and I haven't seen him all day. He left early yesterday, too."
"Really? I thought he was just avoiding me."
Sam frowned, "Why would he do that?"
His eyebrows were working overtime, "Nevermind. I don't know where he is."
Sam shrugged and started to walk away.
"Are you, y'know, okay?"
She sighed - slightly exasperated because she knew what he was really asking, and there was no answer to give him. There just wasn't. Life was what it was. She had learned that a long time ago.
She turned and faced him, in her teaching mode, "Some things can be changed, and should be changed. That's why we fight the Goa'uld. Then there are some things that can be changed but shouldn't, and some things that should be changed but can't."
Daniel felt a little dizzy.
"And THEN there are some things that just can't be changed."
Daniel blinked at her.
"Can you always tell which is which?"
He shook his head. But he wasn't sure if he was answering her or just confused.
She smiled without using her eyes, "Neither can I. So - in answer to your question: I'm fine. Now I really need to find the Colonel."
"Oh boy" Daniel whispered under his breath as she walked away.
Over the intercom: "Major Carter to the conference room, please. Major Carter to the conference room."
When she arrived, she paused at the door. Colonel O'Neill was seated at the table in his usual place. He was fidgeting with a pen, but looked up briefly when she entered.
General Hammond was sitting at the head of the table, a very strange expression on his face.
"Thank-you for joining us, Major." He said as she sat down, "It is my understanding that you've had some difficulties in carrying out your duties since your mission to Nadeela."
The mission the General referred to was one where she and the Colonel had been affected by a Goa'uld brainwashing device. They had lost most of their memories and spent two days believing that the planet was their home. The reason they had been left behind was that they had gone back to rescue a small child while everyone else on the planet escaped through the Stargate. As a result, they had lived for those two days believing they were married and that the child was theirs.
The General was right in one aspect. It had been a rough mission recovery - perhaps the most difficult she had experienced to date. But she had certainly not let it affect her work!
She was indignant, and just a bit too sarcastic, "Considering I had just lost my `husband' and my `child' I'd think I was entitled to be a little down, but I did NOT allow it to affect the performance of my duties! - Sir." She finished absently.
Jack did not look up.
The General looked at her, his jaw working.
After giving her a visual reprimand for a while, he turned to Jack, "Colonel, perhaps I'll let you deal with this." And with that he rose and walked out. Both Jack and Sam stood as he left.
Jack sat down and went back to studying his pen. "Siddown, Carter"
She stood stiffly, watching him.
"I'll never think of leave the same way again, y'know?"
She didn't respond, just continued to watch him.
"I mean - I actually have some time off coming up. I was planning to go fishing, but now..."
He looked up and met her eyes briefly, but was a little disconcerted by the intensity of her gaze.
"Carter - please. Let's - talk `kay?"
"You want to talk? Colonel O'Neill - King of `I'm Fine' wants to talk?"
"And what did the General mean? Not fulfilling my duties? Are you kidding?! Who told him that?"
"Actually that was me." He stood and slowly walked around the table.
"What I actually said was that I was having trouble carrying out my duties.,," He paused, "He included you. Not me." He walked up to her - face to face.
"Carter -"He took her face in his hands.
"Shhh!!! I love you!" and he kissed her.
"What?" And now she did sit down. Rather heavily. "Jack?" She looked at him and in her eyes he saw the woman he had known on the planet.
It was his turn to continue to stand. And for good measure, he began to pace - it always worked for Daniel. "I called in some favors."
Her eyes asked: `What?'
"Okay - tell me what you think: You and I currently have a `mission'" (finger quotes) "We have -up to and including- ten days on PCV 345. At the end of that time, Daniel and Teal'c will join us and carry our decision to the President and the Joint Chiefs. At which time, unless it is truly outlandish, it will be approved." He paused, "What do you think?"
"I'm sorry, but... What?!"
"You heard me." He sat down and began to watch her again.
PCV 345 was a tropical paradise. One of the few truly deserted planets they had found thus far, and it was a tropical paradise. At least, where the Stargate was located it was.
"Ten `mission'" (finger quotes) "days." He looked at her reaction. "No one will know what we're doing. It's a mission - and as such it will be confidential. So - tell me, What do you think?"
She took a deep cleansing breath: in through the nose, out through the mouth.
"This is GREAT!" Samantha Carter fell laughing back into the surf. The wave covered her and she came up laughing.
Jack caught her and held her, "Here comes another!" He laughed as he dunked both of them under the next wave.
Eventually they both swam out beyond the breakers where the sea's extra salty composition held them up and let them float.
They both lay back and relaxed, listening to the waves crash.
Finally, Jack spoke, "So, Carter- it's been five days - what do you think?"
She sighed and raised her head to look at him for a moment.
Then she laughed and dove underwater. They were floating over a good sixteen feet of water and she swam to get away from him. He gave chase. But finally they were equally matched and she gave up in favor of feeling his arms trap her and bring her to the surface as they had many times over the last few days. They surfaced.
"Jack!" She cried out loud to no one but him, "let's just float - I'm not ready for this to be over yet! - NO ONE CAN HEAR US!!!" She shouted with release and joy, "No one but you! I LOVE JACK O'NEILL!!!" she shouted. And just to prove it to herself, she shouted it even louder, "I LOVE JACK O'NEILL"
Jack let her float. He loved her too, and he felt his heart swell with the knowledge that she loved him back.
It was night and Carter approached their beachside tent more warily than she had in the past. Up until tonight, they had slept together, but separately, out on the sand. Neither one of them had wanted to push it.
Tonight, she approached the tent. Jack, unbeknownst to her, watched from trees where he had gone to fetch more water.
When she entered, and began to get settled in for the night: let's just say, he smiled.
In the morning, she emerged to the sight of Jack cracking eggs into a pan where bacon was frying over a campfire - no MREs this time. "You know that will clog your arteries." She said.
"Ah - yes, but it is so very delicious -" he replied.
"So are you." She teased.
"I've tried hard to become so." He replied.
She laughed and ran down to the beach for a quick early morning swim.
When she emerged, there was no Jack in sight.
"Jack?" She called. "JACK!"
"WHAT!" He yelled back as he emerged from the trees in the direction of the Stargate.
"The eggs are burning!" She quickly grabbed the pan off the flames.
"Ah - Crap!" He took the pan from her. "General Hammond is checking up on us every 48 hours. I had to move closer to the 'gate. There was too much interference."
It was over breakfast that Sam finally decided to talk. "Jack, why exactly, aren't we going to get in trouble for this?"
He shrugged. "Told you - called in some favors."
"But this is the law we're talking about. They can't just ignore it because they like us."
He smiled. "That's why we're here. Noone and I mean no one knows what we're doing, other than talking."
She looked at him, and began to quote from the frat regs, "Military members understand that the needs of the institution will sometimes outweigh personal desires."
Jack nodded and looked away. There sure were a lot of times that the `needs of the institution' had outweighed his personal desires... some of them were damned distasteful.
She continued, "'Relationships detract from the authority of superiors or result in, or reasonably create the appearance of, favoritism, misuse of office or position, or the abandonment of organizational goals for personal interests.'"
"I can't believe you have this all memorized."
She didn't meet his eyes, "I've had reason to study it over the last few years."
Before he could comment she continues, "The ability of the senior member to influence, directly or indirectly, assignments, promotion recommendations, duties, awards, and other privileges and benefits, places both the senior member and the junior member in vulnerable positions."
"I'm just saying if Kinsey or anyone else wanted to come after us - they'd have a lot of ammo. AND-" she interrupted as he opened his mouth, "I know you can make arrangements to cover our butts, but-"
"Carter!" he smiled at her, "SHH. Are you ready to hear my idea?"
She set down her plate and leaned back against a log expectantly.
"We can travel in time."
She frowned and leaned forward again.
"We can use this stargate - right here." He reached in his pocket and pulled out a crumpled sheet of paper and handed it to her, "I had Walter find all the info we'd need."
He smiled as he reached back in his pocket, "Because you're right. No matter how we play this, regs are regs. As officers, we're charged with upholding them. No matter what - eventually they'd hang us with them. If not Kinsey -it'd be someone else. I've got no illusions about this. You're not the only one who has turned this thing every which way."
He pulled from his pocket a small, very sandy, black velvet box, "What we need - is a pre-existing marriage." He held out the box to her, "If you'll have me."
She smiled a crooked smile at him and shook her head. "You always find a way. No matter what - against all odds - against REALITY!"
"Hmm?" She was gazing at the beautiful, simple, solitaire diamond ring displayed, sand free, on silver satin.
"Don't leave me hanging."
She laughed at him, sitting there, looking worried. "YES!" She tackled him back into the sand. "YES! I can't believe we're going to make this work!"
The soonest solar flare was only a few hours away. Carter was worried until she'd read everything on that crumpled paper and several others he had since produced. It took a while to take in all the info because the sun kept sparkling off the diamond on her finger, and every time she had to look at it and smile.
"This is amazing!" She commented as she walked over to where he was organizing and packing up their camp.
"You have not only the time of the flares, but the location of a nearby power source in case we need it to dial the gate for the trip home. You have names, ranks and personal profiles of everyone on the base where the `gate is stored in case we need to talk to anyone. You even have authentic ids for us, marriage papers, even `Joint Spouse' request forms all filled out and in order. We might really pull this off!"
He straightened from the box he was piling with the rest of their gear under a tarp. "'Course we will!"
He took her hand and led her up to the `gate. From the hillside where it rested there was a beautiful view of the ocean and the setting sun. They still had an hour to kill, so they sat down together on the steps and spoke quietly in the still evening.
"What if it changes everything too much? What if the Joint Spouse doesn't work? What if-"
"Carter" he said, exasperated.
"You're right. It's the only way we can be together. I mean, after Nadeela - I couldn't go on pretending anymore."
"Me neither. And that's not all: `Once established, such relationships do not go unnoticed by other members of a unit.'" Sam was surprised to hear him continue her quoting of the frat regs.
"Daniel and Teal'c."
"Eventually, we'd even be putting them at risk. Even though they're not military - they're still `civilian employees...'"
She nodded, "They could conceivably be brought up on charges for protecting us."
"Sir - I hate to keep harping on this - "
"Oh harp away, Carter"
"We both know what a risk this is. I mean - we could really wreck things on Earth if we change anything. Do we have that right?"
"In a word? Yes. How many times have we saved the planet? Now, I'm not saying that gives us the right - technically, we were only doing what we were asked to do. What I AM saying, is we know what we're doing here. If everything goes perfectly smoothly, we'll be in the past less than two hours, we won't talk to anybody except a Judge and one or two other people at City Hall - and even then, I'm expecting you to do the talking. If I say anything other than, `I do' you have permission to shoot me!"
She smiled and shook her head.
"Furthermore - if we run into traffic - we'll have to wait until the next flare, four hours later. If that happens, we will lay low - really low, and we'll make sure we don't touch any butterflies!"
"And what if things go horr-"
They looked at each other.
"It's time, Sir."
"Dial away, Major."
They stood. Carter went to the DHD while Jack moved out of the range of the kawoosh.
"Here we go"
"I'm ready if you are."
And they stepped through together.
One hour and forty-three minutes later the Stargate on PCV 345 activated, and a laughing Samantha Carter-O'Neill jogged through, Jack right behind her. Anyone watching would have expected to see handfuls of rice falling around them, such was the happiness in their eyes. Sam even had a wisp of white netting pinned to her hair as a makeshift veil.
Jack caught her hand and spun her around to face him, holding her close. "So, Mrs. O'Neill, how do you feel about all this now?"
"FANTASTIC!" She cried to the sky. For once, everything had actually gone smoothly for them. They had both been very tense through the whole time. Both were waiting for something to go wrong. Nothing ever went this smoothly. It was not until the Stargate stored in Washington had activated that they had both been able to breathe.
And now here they were. They were legally married. All the papers, licenses, and forms were either in storage or filed away exactly where they were supposed to be. Now all they had to do was return to Earth and retrieve them.
Jack and Sam spent the rest of the evening and most of the night doing exactly the kinds of things newlyweds should do.
As a result it was well into the morning when they finally crawled out of the tent into the beautiful, tropical sunshine.
Jack insisted that they have a relaxing breakfast together before they did anything else. He knew his wife - the thought made him smile - she was dying to talk, but the truth was they both knew they couldn't really rest until they returned to Earth and made sure nothing was changed. Although neither one spoke of it, both were very nervous - what if they couldn't even connect?
Soon they had everything packed onto the FRED again and were standing at the gate, ready to go home.
Carter looked at him from the DHD where she had just punched in the seven symbols, her hand on the center crystal. He looked back, and held up crossed fingers. She pushed down.
It had to be one of the most beautiful kawooshes they had ever seen.
Jack moved toward it, his long fingers nervously drumming on his P-90. "Now let's just hope to see those beautiful grey walls with their elegant yellow and black accents. George and Daniel and Teal'c-"
"Sir, there's something wrong."
He stopped and slowly turned towards her.
"I sent the IDC code, but I'm not getting a response."
"Doh!" He reached for his radio, "SGC this is SG-1 niner come in. SGC this is SG-1 niner, care to open the door?" He winced at Sam. "SGC this is SG-1 niner, you guys are making me ner-"
"Jack!" Daniel's voice came over the radio. There was lots of static and interference. "Where have you-" (static) "Iris is-" (static) "Foothold-"
"Daniel! You're breaking up! Repeat your last."
"Foothold - Aliens-" (static) "making copies of humans. They're real clones. No way to-" (static)
"Daniel, What about the Iris?"
"It's open." (static) "-power-" (static) "Siler's trying to-" (Static)
"Daniel?" He looked at Sam and their eyes met. Was this somehow their fault? "Daniel?" (static) "Daniel! Come in!"
He walked toward Sam, the soldier was firmly in place. "Carter. I want you to head to the Alpha site after I'm gone. Get weapons. Get any intel you can. Get help from our so-called allies if you can. And then meet me on Earth."
"Sir, I should go with-"
"Carter, that's an order!"
She squared her shoulders, she wasn't going to back down, not now. She knew they had no time, but she had to speak. She quoted, "The nature of the military mission requires unhesitating orders that may result in inconvenience, hardships or, at times, injury or death."
He stared hard at her for a beat, realized she thought he was protecting her. "We can talk about that later. Right now I need back-up. The SGC needs back-up. Do you see anyone else around that can do it?"
Another brief pause, and he moves to the FRED and begins reloading his pack with all the weapons and munitions he can find. When she sees what he's doing, she joins him, adding to his pack items from her own.
She's surprised how much he has along. "Why did you bring so much - here?"
"Have we EVER been to an apparently deserted planet that didn't turn around and bite us?" He turned and grabbed her shoulders staring into her eyes, almost angrily, "EVERY moment we get will be a stolen one, Carter. NEVER forget that."
Without another word he walks up to the puddle and dives through so that he would come out the other end in a roll. He knew he would need to make it to the end of the ramp before he could find any real cover - it was designed to do exactly that.
Carter felt more alone than she had in a long time as she watched the puddle disappear. She was already dialing the alpha site.
As Jack rolled to the end of the ramp, he came up on one knee, prepared for anything - except what awaited him. He had checked the area behind him, really - he had. Bur none the less he felt a force strike his back akin to a very hot punch. A fiery battering ram really.
When he woke up, Pain was everywhere except where his Sam was standing over him. "Hi, Jack. I really missed you. Now that we've shared so much, I know just what you're thinking. Let me demonstrate: I can tell you're confused. Pretty go0od, huh? You see, I'm not her. Did you get that?"
"I got that." The pain suddenly receded in favor of dread.
"Well, I am her. In a sense. Would you like to...?" She straddles him.
"Nope -No I think we can skip right over that part."
She rose, stroking a fingernail across his lips, "Too bad. Maybe later."
"Oh yeah, May-be!" he rolled his eyes at her.
She continued, "you know it's funny"
"I'm cracking up!"
"We really want the same thing."
"We want to destroy the Goa'uld. So do you. Under different circumstances we could collaborate. I believe that's what you call it on your planet? We are here to take all your knowledge. Both you and Samantha Carter have been most helpful." She abruptly released the pressure on his hips where she had been sitting. "Now you will rest." She waved her hand over her eyes and he was gone.
When he awoke again, he was in a dark room. He could sense several other bodies, he just didn't know who.
"Jack?" Came a weak voice.
"Yeah - that would be me." Daniel breathed into the darkness. Jack crawled over to him. Teal'c is here too. They were pretty hard on him since they couldn't copy him."
There was no answer.
"He may need some time. Let him kel no'reem"
"Daniel? What is going on here?" Jack's patience was getting short. But he was back to defending the planet, "What did she mean `we want the same thing?'"
"She laid that one on you, too, huh?" Daniel asked.
Jack raised his impatient eyebrows, "Yeah, she did, what's going on and how do we rescue Carter?"
"I'll tell you everything I know, Jack, but you're not going to like it."
Jack rolled his eyes and settled in to listen to his favorite archeologist.
"Here's what we know. The aliens first overcame SG-5 on PS3-987. When they returned, nobody suspected a thing. Then it started. People would disappear and then reappear hours later acting nothing like themselves. It has spread from there."
Jack rested a hand on Daniel's shoulder, both for his own support and Daniel's encouragement.
"We'll figure it out. How are they like us?
"They're enemies of the Goa'uld, believe it or not. Apparently they are traveling the universe looking for anyone who has fought the Goa'uld and collecting information on what worked and what didn't. Now this sounds like a good thing..."
"Except they do it by cloning us?"
"Yep. They put you in a big scanner thing and take all the dna whatever they need and there you go. A little while later you've got a double walking around."
"What happens to the original if you kill the copy?"
Daniel grimaced. "Haven't had a chance to find that out. Where are you going?"
"Gonna find my other half..." He paused as he realized what he had just said. Carter was his other half. Had been for a long time. His BETTER half. "Find my clone, and find out some things."
"Jack," Daniel struggled to his feet to follow. "There's something else."
Jack slowly turned, "There always is..."
"The originals are dying. Everything seems fine for about the first 24 hours and then they get weaker and weaker until..." He gestured around the dark room, and for the first time, Jack realized, not everyone was asleep or unconscious. They were surrounded by several recently deceased members of the SGC.
Jack's eyes turned cold. "Time for this to end."
Jack knew the first order of business was to find his own clone. He had to know what effect killing the clone would have on the original. As it turned out, this was not difficult. His clone was looking for him.
"Hey, Jack," His clone spoke from the other end of the hall as they slowly approached each other. "Wasn't hard to find you. I knew where you'd go as soon as you escaped. You know, you are the most fascinating specimen I've ever inhabited. Behind all the unintelligent comments and the clichs, there lies the most honorable, courageous, self sacrificing being I've ever encountered. And, since I have traveled much of the universe, that's saying something. It's almost enough for me to argue against wiping out your race. But when I look deeper, I see some very frightening things; Dark things, dangerous things. The universe will be a safer place without you, Jack O'Neill. There! See? I saw that twitch. I know you. I know what you will do to stop me. That way you-"
The look on his face was pure surprise as a bullet hole appeared between his eyes.
"Didn't think I'd do THAT, didya." Jack growled as his clone slowly collapsed. "You talk too much, anyway."
Jack waited, but the death of his clone seemed to have no effect on him. That would be very good news. He was just about to move on, when he noticed a change in the dead man. The features seemed almost to blur, to fade, and then Jack fell to his knees gasping. He grabbed for the wall, trying to keep himself off the floor. He could feel pressure against him on all sides, he was pulling Gs in all directions, and it hurt. It must be all that `stuff' Daniel was talking about. The stuff they had taken from him to make the clone was- well, apparently it was coming home.
He closed his eyes and forced himself to endure. Soon his breathing seemed a bit easier. He raised his head and found he could now do it without undue pressure. He stood, forced his shoulders back and took a deep breath. The pain was now manageable and he moved away from the corpse. He didn't know how long it would take for the others to realize one of their number was dead. He took what he needed and returned to Daniel and Teal'c.
"Daniel, how're ya doin?"
"I'm fine, Jack."
"How long's it been since they copied you?"
"Have it your way, we don't have time to argue." He handed him one of the radios he had acquired, plus a 9mm. "We've got to find Carter. How's Teal'c?"
"Unfortunately, I regret that it may be some time before I will be able to assist you, O'Neill" Teal'c's low rumble came from a dark corner where he was leaning against a wall. "However, DanielJackson has assisted me - I will be fine."
"We'll get you some help, buddy, just hang in there."
He and Daniel moved to crouch near the door. Jack whispered, "As soon as they find the dead guy-"
"Was there any effect when he died?" Daniel interrupted.
"Well, it didn't kill me." Jack shot back sarcastically. "When they find him, they'll expect us to come here. Do you know where the scanner thingy is?"
Jack handed him some C4, and raised his eyebrows in question.
"Yeah - I'll work on it."
"Just remember there's another Danny walking around here, so they know what you're going to do. Do something else."
"Like the opposite of what you'd normally do - I don't know, pretend you're me." Jack shot him a ghost of a grin.
Daniel rolled his eyes in response and moved away.
"I'll get Carter and join you."
Daniel paused, "How are you going to know if it's me or my clone?"
Jack looked back at him
"How about a password?"
Jack rolled his eyes. "Okay - if it's you, say `Homer' and I won't shoot you."
Daniel smiled and moved on.
Jack was surprised that he was able to move as far as he had before coming on anyone else. Where was everybody? General Hammond had managed to seal the mountain, so they hadn't left - at least not yet. But it was only a matter of time before they figured out the back door. Jack prayed the Marines were guarding it, and then realized, if `Carter' or `Hammond' or anybody else of rank popped their heads out of there, they'd just let the aliens go. He picked up the pace.
It was around the next corner that he came upon his first person, alien? being? It was Airman Sullivan, Jack knew his wife had recently had a baby - there had been an informal party in the commissary... The young man threw up his hands and Jack could see the fear behind his eyes. Jack kept his weapon half raised, "I'm not an alien, I'm the real thing. Are you?"
Suspicion joined the fear. "Yeah - I was trying to get word out."
"Really? Good work. How were you planning to do that?"
"They took my radio so I was going to get another, call out. Somebody's listening, aren't they?"
Jack shot him. If he were real, he would have been locked up. He allowed himself only a moment of doubt as he watched the corpse closely. Never had he been so relieved to see a corpse do something freaky.
He moved on. If each person he met required this kind of decision... He had to find Carter. Sam. Samantha. He savored the words. They had come so far, risked so much to have what they now had, and if they never got to enjoy it...
He had to get where the aliens were grouped together. They would never allow a human among them. The clone would know everything. Then he wouldn't have to worry about who was whom.
He passed the iso rooms and heard voices. He peeked inside and saw several airmen, techs, cafeteria personnel, etc. That made sense. They weren't cloning everybody - they didn't have to. That was why there were so few personnel about. And that was fine with him.
He moved on. Those people were safer where they were for the time being.
He was nearing the Control room. Again he heard voices and did his best to fade into the walls. There wasn't a lot of cover in this area. He hoped they were focused on something else.
He risked a look inside. They were crowded around the computers quietly talking amongst themselves in some alien language. They seemed to be connecting their own equipment and trying to download something. Jack leaned back against the cool wall outside and thought to himself, `George is going to kill me for this.' Then he quietly rolled two live grenades into the room and ran for it.
After the shockwave, he headed straight for Carter's office. She had to be there, and he was betting that for some reason she was there with her clone. There was no other explanation for her absence thus far.
Before he reached his destination, he felt another shockwave. And he smiled in the hopes that Daniel had been successful in blowing up the technology that allowed the aliens to create the clones.
He reached Carter's door and once again he heard voices - identical voices - inside. What they were saying was so clichd he almost laughed - almost.
"You might as well kill me, I'll never tell you."
"I have your knowledge. You only have to explain this next part."
"Haven't figured that part out yet."
`Way to go, Carter!' he thought.
"Figure it out, Major Carter, or I will kill one of your friends,"
"You already have."
"Another one then - how many will it be?"
At this point, Daniel rounded the corner at the end of the hall. Jack raised his 9 mil until Daniel stage whispered, "HOMER!!"
Daniel drew him back slightly so they could converse in whispers. "Saw what you did in the control room. Nice."
Jack couldn't resist, "You don't object?'
"Not this time."
"I did just what you would do. Didn't talk to anybody - just blew stuff up."
Jack grinned, "You didn't talk to anybody? No wonder they didn't expect it. Not talking is the last thing you'd do. Good work."
"What about Sam?"
"'bout to find out."
They returned to the door. And heard; "You've killed my husband."
If not the words, the desperation in Sam's voice would have made Daniel look to Jack.
"Yeah - It's a long story." Jack shrugged, but couldn't suppress a grin. It was a flash of a happiness that Daniel had never seen on his friend before.
"And you didn't tell us?"
"Congratulations - I guess."
Jack made a face at him. And then decided this had gone on as long as it was going to. He stood and sauntered into the room to face - well, you know.
"Hi Carter." He said to both of them. "Carters"
"Sir!" the one on the left responded, the other was silent.
"It's me. Can you tell?" He looked back and forth between them
"You or your clone?" Lefty spoke. Okay - the one on the left is the talkative one, he thought.
"Me." He simply responded. "So, hey - is anybody left?" He left his question ambiguous to see what each would say.
"Jack-" Righty spoke.
"Sir - you have to kill the clone." Lefty interrupted.
"Do I?" Jack responded, "Kinda thought I'd let you guys wrestle for it."
Here was the problem they had spoken of. Choose. Don't hesitate - choose. Kill one of them. Kill your wife, without hesitation. There was no question he could ask that the clone wouldn't know the answer to. He decided to go for information instead.
"How was the Alpha site?" Jack wondered why the hoped-for help had never arrived.
"They were already there." Lefty spoke again. Righty just kept watching him. "I was taken prisoner and copied there."
"Then why bring the original here?" Jack kept them talking - waiting for the clone to either slip, or take action. He slowly, almost imperceptibly lowered his guard. He knew there was one way to know for sure which was a clone and which was his wife.
This time Righty answered, "They needed me to figure this out for them." She said as she gestured to the doohickey on the table between them.
"What was the deal with Teal'c?"
He kept asking questions. He knew that eventually his plan would work. The barrel of his gun was almost an inch lower than it had been. He had to be careful, couldn't make it too obvious...
Suddenly, it worked all too well. Jack saw Lefty move faster than was humanly possible. He saw a bright flash and reacted by tossing the 9 mil to Righty, butt first. She grabbed it out of the air and had shot Lefty in the head twice before he even hit the ground.
Then she was kneeling by his side pressing her hands over the gaping hole in his chest. "Jack, why? There had to be another way! Don't do this. Jack! Daniel, we have to find Janet!"
Daniel was already at the clone, making sure she was well and truly dead.
"Daniel!" He gasped, "Help her!"
Daniel came and knelt beside Sam, "Help who, Jack?"
"Sam." He forced the words out as darkness threatened his vision, "'cause - it - hurts."
The last thing he saw was Carter, collapsing in the pain of being made whole again; Daniel bending over her. She was safe - she would be fine. And most importantly, he hadn't had to shoot her. His chest didn't even hurt anymore. This was better, so much better. He filled his mind with images of her; images of the eighteen tropical hours they had spent as man and wife, and drifted away.
Carter, now recovering, desperately pressed her hands to the wound, trying to prevent Jack's life from flowing away. When he was sure she was okay, Daniel picked up a gun and threw himself against the door jamb, looking for aliens.
"Sam, they're going to come soon. I can't just leave-"
"Daniel, go get Janet. Now."
"Jack, can you hear me? C'mon, Jack. Hang on. She shot you with her weapon, not one of ours. That gives you a fighting chance. You hear me?! You can beat this. You gotta give me some more of those stolen moments... Jack..."
He did not respond.
But he did hear. Some of the things Carter was saying actually registered on some level of his fading consciousness. Not an earth weapon? Not a bullet? He had a chance? He had a chance for more `stolen moments?' The O'Neill stubbornness kicked in. His slide toward oblivion slowed.
Carter's head shot up as she heard noises in the hall. They were coming.
She tried to grab her sidearm off the floor with one hand but it slipped. Her hands were covered in Jack's blood. She grabbed harder and brought the weapon to bear; then checked herself. It was Teal'c at the door, leaning heavily against the wall and firing down the hall toward aliens she could not see. She dropped the gun and went back to applying pressure, and talking to Jack.
"Good to see you, Teal'c"
"O'Neill?" he asked between blasts from his staff weapon.
"Daniel went to get Janet."
Suddenly the rate of fire increased. Sam looked up, afraid her friend was about to be overwhelmed, but was relieved to see Teal'c joined by several SFs led by Major Cummings.
Finally! Sam had felt both shockwaves and suspected Jack, and perhaps Daniel had made a big dent in the number of aliens on the base, not to mention the base itself. She was sure she would have a big mess to clean up when this was all over, but that hardly mattered at the moment.
The SFs passed Teal'c and headed down the hall. Apparently, the aliens that remained were retreating.
Teal'c did not follow. Carter knew this meant he believed they had the situation well in hand. He would never have left the fight otherwise. As it was, he slid down the wall to sit on the floor. He watched her efforts with impassive eyes. Only one who knew him well could see the concern there.
"Where are they?!" she asked desperately.
Teal'c raised his staff at the footsteps he heard running toward him, but thankfully, it was Janet.
Janet threw herself to the floor opposite Sam and opened her kit. She pulled out dressings and bandages and put them under Sam's hands before pulling out a syringe and an IV.
Janet shook her head, "He said to go on without him, said he'd be along."
"What do you mean?"
Janet's eyes flicked to Sam's, "It's been a while since he was cloned..."
Sam didn't respond, just closed her eyes for a moment.
Janet, knowing there was nothing she could do to help Daniel, focused on the Colonel. Working quickly and efficiently she was able to get him somewhat stabilized.
As she worked she spoke to Sam, "Was it ours or theirs?"
Sam nodded. They both knew that if it had been a bullet that had torn into Jack's chest he would already be dead. The alien weapon was no less lethal, but it was less brutal. This gave them a chance. If they could stop the blood loss and close the wound, he had a good chance at recovery.
Janet took a moment to examine Sam with her eyes, "You okay?"
Sam nodded, but Janet could see she was trembling faintly; the look in her eyes was desperate. She had smears of Jack's blood on her face. She was on the verge of collapse, and yet Janet knew her friend would force herself to go on as long as necessary.
"DanielJackson approaches." Teal'c spoke from the door.
"How is he?" Daniel asked quickly, preempting any questions about his condition. He looked tired and pale, but moved to Janet's side, taking the unit of blood from her upstretched hand and holding it over Jack.
"You know better than anyone how stubborn he is." Janet looked up at him with concern, "He'll be fine if he makes it through the next hour or so. How are YOU?" Janet asked as she turned to go to Teal'c.
"I'm f-" Daniel suddenly cried out and crumpled in pain. Janet grabbed the unit of blood he had been holding for Jack's IV and handed it quickly to Sam before she went to his side.
"It's okay, Janet." Sam reassured her friend, "It means his clone is dead. It hurts like the dickens, but he's okay; better in fact."
"You mean..." and as if on cue, Janet also crumpled in pain. Sam winced for her friends, but she couldn't leave Jack's side.
In a moment, Daniel, gasping, pulled himself to Janet's side and held her, supporting her through her pain.
When both of them could breathe again, Janet spoke, "We make a fine bunch!"
Sam and Daniel smiled weakly.
"Does this mean the clones are dying?" Janet moved slowly to Teal'c's side.
"It does, indeed." Teal'c answered her, "I am recovering, DoctorFrasier, do not trouble yourself. I require only rest." He looked out and saw two SFs patrolling the hall, looking for aliens, "Sergeant!" He called the man to him.
Sam spoke up immediately, "Sergeant, report!"
"General Hammond ordered us on cleanup, ma'am. The aliens are about wiped out."
"We need a stretcher in here now"
"Yes, Ma'am" the Sergeant saluted, gestured to his companion and the two of them jogged off.
She looked down at her husband's still, pale face. Suddenly, it seemed as if the two of them were alone in the universe. She could barely feel the faint beat of his heart under the pressure of her blood covered hands "You're almost there, Jack." she whispered, "Just a little longer, okay?"
Jack was in surgery for several hours. During that time, the balance of SG-1 paced, fidgeted and waited. The last aliens on the base had been captured and were being interrogated. Five SG teams had been sent to the alpha site to help get things under control there. Hammond had wanted SG-1 to go, but understood their reluctance, and allowed them some downtime.
Finally, Sam sat down.
Daniel considered her, wondering if this was a good time to ask about Jack's cryptic reference to a wedding.
He decided to plunge in, "So, Sam, are you married?"
She seemed to freeze for a moment - to stop breathing. It was as if she were somewhere else entirely for just an instant. Then she looked at Daniel, "Yes. Yes I am."
Teal'c slowly inclined his head to gaze at her. "To whom are you wed, MajorCarter?"
"Jack" she whispered, "We needed... we had to... um" She noticed the expressions on their faces. "What?"
Daniel smiled a gentle smile, "s'about time."
"Really." He smiled at her, "But... How? This is the air force. It's not so easy to get permission for something like that. `Frat Regs?' (Finger quotes) `Court Marshall?' (Exaggerated finder quotes). Any of this sound familiar?"
She smiled at him, gratefully, "Actually? Well, we did something incredibly risky. I still can't believe we did it." She shook her head.
"We went back in time."
"Really. Jack had it all figured out." She saw Daniel shaking his head, "What?!"
"Jack!" He responded, "You never call him Jack. It's always Colonel this and Colonel that..."
She smiled, "I know, I know, but the time we spent on PD3 219 was, well, amazing." She blushed.
"I can see that..." He smiled, "And now you're married. How's that going to work?"
"The Air Force does allow married couples to serve together when possible. Jack filled out all the request forms, so they would be applied in present day. He had it all planned."
"I can't believe you pulled this off!"
"Do you know I want Kinsey to come after us just so I can wave this marriage license in his face?"
"I can imagine."
Sam became introspective, "I just want him to be okay."
"He will be. He will be."
They sat silent for some time again until finally, Janet emerged though the infirmary doors. They all rose.
Janet looked at them all one by one, tears in her eyes, "I'm sorry, he didn't make it."
"What?" Sam asked.
Daniel and Teal'c just looked at her.
"I'm sorry, He coded three times. The third time, we just couldn't bring him back. It was finally too much for him. I'm so sorry!"
"No. You're wrong. He's fine. You know that, Janet. He's fine. He's always fine."
"Sam" Daniel had recovered from his own shock enough to reach out to her. "Sam. I'm so sorry."
"Janet. You're sure?" She knew it was a dumb question, but she just couldn't quite believe it.
Janet nodded, causing her own tears to spill down her cheeks.
Sam's eyes were dry. She looked as if she was searching for something, looking around, but her eyes were not seeing. "Then, - I'm a widow."
Janet looked at her sharply.
Daniel explained softly, "That's what happened when they were gone. It's a long story."
Janet's face showed new respect for her friend's sadness. "Would you like to see him?" She asked gently.
Sam paused, thinking.
They waited respectfully; Daniel wiped at his eyes and hugged himself. Teal'c stood stiffly, his jaw working. Janet looked as if she wanted to reach out to Sam, but wasn't sure if she should.
"No." Sam finally answered, and began to walk away. "I have work to do."
Janet stared after her in surprise. Daniel started to go after her, but Teal'c placed a restraining hand on his arm. They looked at each other. What would the SGC be without Jack O'Neill? What would life be like?
Six months later Carter stood on the ramp before a shimmering wormhole, a neat white envelope in her hands.
She fidgeted with the paper, lost in thought. Daniel and Teal'c should have been here for this, but they weren't.
Teal'c had been killed when caught in an ambush shortly after they had returned to active duty. He had been scouting the area while she and Daniel had explored some ruins. He had defended himself well, but there had been just one too many Jaffa. She was sure it wouldn't have happened if Jack had been there.
They had lost Daniel last month. Colonel Cummings had allowed him to go into an abandoned city before it had been completely explored. Jack had known how to handle Daniel's enthusiasm and keep him safe.
She thought back to the huge memorial service they had for all 22 members of the SGC who had been slain in the foothold incident. The flag from Jack's coffin had been presented to her. His was the only actual coffin there since he had no family anymore to hold a service for him. She thought of all the families who had.
It all still seemed so unreal.
She looked down at the envelope in her hands and thought again of the letter inside. She had written, deleted, re-written, torn it up and written it again. She had read it so many times she had it memorized:
Dear Jack and Sam,
It's a beautiful day isn't it? And you are both so very happy. I remember that day so clearly, it seems like yesterday. But it isn't. The day you are now experiencing happened for me over six months ago.
Sam, you don't know yet what he has planned, but he will soon tell you that you can go back in time and get married so that you have a preexisting marriage to use as defense against any frat reg. accusations. I am hoping, okay, I'm demanding that the two of you reconsider. I think you will after reading this letter.
Although it worked; and we had two wonderful days of wedded bliss; since then I have been a widow. Jack is dead. He was killed during a foothold situation I believe we inadvertently caused by our time travel.
Teal'c was killed by a Jaffa ambush a month later. Daniel was killed in an accident last month. I believe both their deaths would have been prevented by you, Jack. That's not wishful thinking. That is based on my personal knowledge of your extensive experience and abilities. We also lost twenty-one other souls in that foothold situation.
I did extensive research into the possible causes of the foothold. I started the day you died and continued for these past six months. Last week I presented my findings to General Hammond and he agrees with me. We both know I should be court marshaled for our actions, but he is willing to let me try sending this letter instead.
When we activated the stored gate in Washington D.C. we encountered a Private Cummings. Apparently he was inspired by the sight of the gate and eventually joined the SGC. We now believe it was directly due to his actions alone while on a mission that drew the aliens to Earth.
Coincidentally, He was also in command of the mission where we lost Daniel.
Without our interaction, I can find no other way for him to ever find out about the SGC. And, believe me, I tried. I wanted to be wrong. I wanted our marriage to be right. But even more than that I want you to be alive. I want Daniel and Teal'c to be here with me, too.
I miss you terribly. I still love you. I'll always love you. I could never say that for one stupid reason or another, and neither could you. Don't worry; you don't have to say it. You never have to say it. I know. I knew long before Nadeela. I knew before the armbands. It's okay. You have other ways of telling me.
It's like you told me shortly after we were married, "EVERY moment
we get will be a stolen one." Well, we're just going to have to go on stealing moments.
Enjoy these few days. Make the most of them. And Sam, please, always remember that at least you have him. You can see him, touch him, breathe in the scent of him. He's real and he's with you.
Just remember to check in over the next few days and make sure the SGC hasn't been overrun by cloning aliens. And if the aliens do show up, watch your back!
I don't know what will happen when I send this. I hope I will no longer know what it is to lose you. I hope I never will.
I had better stop writing and seal this. The flare occurs in less than an hour. It's just that I feel closer to you now than I have in months.
I'll see you soon.
I love you.
"Fifteen seconds, Major" Walter's voice came over the loudspeaker.
She nodded in response and stepped closer, held out the envelope and let the wormhole take it. Her heart was filled equally with both hope and sadness; Hope for her future - and her past, and sadness for the marriage that could, now, never happen.
As soon as the wormhole snapped shut she was overcome with dizziness. She closed her eyes and concentrated on not falling down.
Her mind was filled with conflicting images. She saw Jack dying as she applied pressure to his wound. She saw him laughing in the surf. She saw him glaring triumphantly at Kinsey who was holding their marriage certificate and looking like he wanted to tear it and Jack to pieces.
She saw them together at his cabin. She saw him with Daniel and Teal'c on a mission she had no other memory of. Then she saw Teal'c's dead body. And Daniel crumpled under the debris that had taken his life. It didn't make any sense.
It was all so confusing and she couldn't get her head to stop spinning long enough to figure it out. For some reason she thought she heard the sound of the blast doors closing behind her, but she couldn't open her eyes to check.
Then she felt a hand on her elbow.
She stopped breathing.
Could it be?
Dare she hope?
"You okay, Carter?"
"Oh- Jack." She whispered as she turned and fell into his arms.
He held her. He just held her. She clung to him for a long time; whispering things he could neither hear nor understand. So he just held her, tightly.
Finally she looked up at his face, "Are you real?"
He smiled a half smile, "You know I am."
"No - you're dead."
"Nope - living, breathing, handsome as they come. That's me. You said you'd remember - after a bit."
"Actually, you said you'd be confused. I wanted to sell tickets - there'd be quite a demand to see a confused Carter. I'd be rich!" Then he pretended to sober. "You wouldn't let me."
She frowned at him.
Slowly she began to take in her surroundings. "Why are the blast doors down?"
His smile was gentle, as was his voice, "Thought you might appreciate a little privacy." He put his arm around her shoulders and turned her, guiding her toward the door, "But `ole George wants his gate room back. SG-9 are due any moment." He keyed his radio, "Okay, Walter, thanks." The blast doors began to rise.
She was thankful for his arm around her shoulders. Not only for the comfort of his physical presence, but also because she was still very dizzy. "I still can't believe you're really alive."
"Is that why you're holding on so tightly?"
She made to move away from him; realizing their position was now inappropriate. But he held her tight against him, smiling at a passing SF as he did so, and continued to walk down the corridor. If she wasn't confused before, she was now.
Soon they reached her lab where Daniel and Teal'c were waiting.
"Hey, Sam, Jack, did it wor- Hey! Okay!" Daniel chuckled as Sam enveloped him in a bear hug. "I guess it worked." He said to Jack who stood at the door smiling as Sam also wrapped her arms around Teal'c. "Does she remember everything?"
"Apparently it's all pretty jumbled up right now."
Sam was looking from one face to another, puzzled at their bemused expressions. "What?"
Jack stepped forward, "Do you know why you're a little mixed up?"
"I'm guessing it's because time changed; the last six months changed. I sent the letter back. You didn't go. We didn't go. But I can still remember it." She frowned, "I shouldn't be able to remember."
Jack had that expression on his face; the one that made him look like a kid with a happy secret. "You sure?"
Daniel spoke up, "You had a theory that if you stood before the open wormhole at the exact right moment, you would have memories from both timelines. It seems that it worked, you just haven't sorted out which is which yet."
"But that's what happened, I mean, you're all alive, so the foothold situation never happened..."
"We didn't go back in time..."
"What do you mean? Jack? Tell me!"
He could see the memories beginning to sort themselves out behind her eyes, but he indulged her anyway. "Remember that letter you sent?"
He smiled when she nodded because, of course, in his timeline she hadn't. They had received it six months ago. "Well, you meant it as a warning, but I, well; I kinda took it as a challenge."
"What are you talking about?!"
"Carter. You remember. I know you do. I know you. The letter was so informative. I know that was what you intended."
She stared at him because it was true. But he had figured it out before she had. She should have sent only the barest of facts. Why had she written so much if not to give them the tools they needed? The tools they needed to do it right.
Finally, every memory fell into place and as the dizziness faded, her expression changed. She still stared, but now she looked at him with surprise, disbelief, and most of all, love.
"Don't worry; I'll try to forgive you for forgetting I'm your husband."
Later that day the two of them went home. They had decided to live in Jack's house. (Sam could now remember telling him it was the better investment of the two.)
Daniel and Teal'c were expected to come over later. But for the moment, Jack just followed her around the house. He enjoyed watching her see it all with new eyes.
It was the little things that gave her the most joy; seeing her pictures and medals on the shelves and walls beside Jack's, their clothes hanging together in the closet. Her matched set of dishes in the cupboard had replaced Jack's randomness except for a few treasured beer mugs. It was all so domestic; so normal.
They stood across the kitchen table from each other; A table at which they had shared many a meal. They looked into each other eyes, and Jack had to grin at the happiness he saw there. He reached out his hand, and when she took it he pulled her gently towards the bedroom.
Later that evening Jack made a fire in the fireplace and they sat together and talked about everything that had happened over the last six months. It was helping Sam to get it all sorted out. She also had opportunity to tell him everything she remembered about the alternate timeline.
"So you- sorry, we used the letter to avoid Cummings."
"And a couple other things."
"The papers all came through okay into the future."
Jack nodded. "It was only a month later that Kinsey made his move. Boy was he pissed off! Too pissed off to even look at the date."
They both knew that was the only catch. If anybody did the math, they might have trouble explaining... But they would only worry about that if it ever happened; which was unlikely due to a strategic smudge left by a certain Colonel.
She giggled, "I remember." Then she turned serious. "It's such a blessing to have this opportunity. I know now what it is to lose you. I would never want to go through it again, but it makes me appreciate all this so much more." She leaned back comfortably into him. He settled his arm around her shoulders, and kissed the top of her head.
"The last six months have been great. I'm glad you remember them."
She turned slightly and looked up into his eyes. He smiled and kissed her.
The doorbell rang.
They both smiled ruefully. "Stolen moments, Carter, stolen moments" He got up to let in the other half of SG-1.
Daniel came into the room followed by Teal'c who carried a white bakery box.
"Whatcha got there, T?"
"It is cake, O'Neill"
"We thought it appropriate under the circumstances." Daniel smiled mischievously as Teal'c revealed a very small but elaborately decorated wedding cake.
"That looks nothing like us!" teased Sam as she pointed to the small plastic bride and groom on top.
"They didn't have anything in BDUs"
"This cake was also quite economical."
"I bet!" Jack laughed as he returned from the kitchen with a knife and plates.
Sam just sat and gazed at her husband and two of her best friends in the entire universe.
They had been returned to her from the dead.
That was worth celebrating.
Thanks for hanging in there all the way through. Lots of ups and downs, but nothing is ever easy in the world of Sam and Jack. You can't always get what you want. But if you try, sometimes, you get what you need. Now I'm going back to more canonical stories. This kind wears me out! Thanks so much to everyone who sent feedback!! I can't get enough of it!
Leaving - Post Script
Time travel can be very confusing. So if you want it, I have written a short explanation. If you think the story made sense, you can skip this.
In this story Jack and Sam decide they must find a way to be together. Jack pulls some strings and gets them ten days alone on a tropical planet to discuss their options.
He also comes up with the idea that they could go back in time and get married, so if anyone accused them of `fraternization' they could say, "nope - look, we're married. We have been for a long time."
As I understand it; the military does not allow dating within its ranks, but married couples are sometimes allowed to serve together.
They travel back in time and get married even though they know they risk changing history.
Unfortunately they do change history. In their new reality, aliens gain control of the SGC and even though they are eventually repelled (mostly due to the efforts of Jack and Daniel) Jack is killed.
Sam suspects that their time travel was, indirectly, the cause of the foothold situation and subsequently, Jack's death. She spends the next six months desperately trying to find out the hows and whys. She is hoping that she can send a note back in time (ala 2010) and stop them from changing things, thus preventing Jack's death.
In the meantime, Teal'c and Daniel are both killed in situations that we would have expected Jack to prevent, had he been alive.
She sends her note. And everything changes. The foothold situation does not occur, and SG-1 is still whole and all members are living.
Here's the catch: Sam now has all the memories of both timelines and is very confused. What she can't quite make sense of is the fact that, six months ago, using the information from the letter, she and Jack made alternate plans.
They still went back in time and got married, but now they were careful to avoid the problems Sam outlined in her letter.
She and Jack have now had six months of wedded bliss, serving together on SG-1, instead of two days.
Once she gets her two sets of memories sorted out, it all makes sense to her and they all live `happily ever after.`
The only possible problem that remains is the date on the marriage license. (I purposely neglected to set a specific year - should make their anniversaries interesting) They were married later than 1969, but before 1999. Of course there would be conflicts with the fact that Jack was also married to Sara (??) during that time. Also, was he even in the country when their marriage occurred? (I always got the impression that he was overseas a lot during his pre-SGC service)
Jack attempts to make this problem less likely by `smudging' the date on the license (nice one, Jack!)
Anyway - if there was anything that didn't make sense, hopefully this explains it. I'm afraid my writing was not always as clear as it could have been.
If you enjoyed this story, please send feedback to