Red Tape
by Suz

Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them. Blah, blah...

Vague spoilers for ‘The Movie’, ‘Children of The Gods’, ‘Solitudes’, ‘Politics’, ‘In The Line of Duty’, ‘1969’, ‘Seth’, ‘Point of View’, ‘Deadman Switch’, ‘Urgo’, ‘A Hundred Days’, ‘New Ground’, ‘Nemesis’, ‘Divide and Conquer’, ‘Window of Opportunity’, ‘Watergate’, ‘The Light’, and ‘Entity’. You should also have general knowledge of the show and the characters, but if you’ve seen all those I’d say you already have it ;)


"So Carter," O'Neill began the moment they stepped out of the Stargate and onto P4X 363. "Just exactly how much do those UAV's cost?"

"Why do you want to know, sir?" She asked absently, switching on her equipment to find the signal.

"Well...this is the, what? Third? Forth time that a UAV has been damaged, destroyed or just fallen out of the sky. Is it worth the expense?"

"It's either that or we send human beings into an unknown situation," Daniel pointed out.

"Hey, I get that, totally," Jack agreed. "I'm just thinking the next time it happens I'm gonna get the bill for it or something."

Teal'c came to a stop next to him. "That is unlikely."

Jack just rolled his eyes.

Initial MALP readings had indicated at subtle signs of life - a worn path in the undergrowth - so they'd decided to send a UAV through for a bigger search, trying to determine if there were humans there, and if so what their level of technology was. They'd just begun to pick up actual life signs when the UAV had stopped transmitting and stumbled out of the sky without explanation.

He just hoped this one was salvageable. He hadn't been entirely joking about paying for the next one. While they were still being funded, Hammond was under increasing pressure to cut costs, and he'd passed that information on to Jack. They weren't about to cut any safety corners, but the purse strings were being pulled tighter.

Damn red tape. Didn't those politicians realise how important this was?

Sighing, he tugged at his cap. "Carter?"

She nodded to her left. "Last known co-ordinates are in this direction sir."

"Okay kids. Let's roll."

They walked for all of one minute before Carter spotted something on the ground. "Sir, look at this."

He watched as she bent down and studied 'this'. It looked metallic but was white in colour. It was oblong shaped and maybe...six inches by five inches. "What is it?"

"Not sure sir. Obviously not natural."

"Ya think?"

"It looks kind of similar to a security camera."

"So we're being spied on?"

"Well, we don’t that for sure,” Daniel argued. “I mean she’s basing that observation on what security cameras look like on Earth. We don’t even know that they have them here, let alone what they’d look like if they did.” He paused, gauging everyone’s reaction. “Although I have to admit it does look suspiciously like a security camera..."

Jack sighed as Daniel shrugged. "Sweet. Okay, let's keep moving but keep our eyes open for-"


"Woah!" Swivelling around, Jack quickly raised his weapon and pointed it at what had made the sound, knowing that at least Carter and Teal'c were doing the same. Daniel - no doubt - would be deciding exactly how to get himself killed in the next minute or so.

He appeared to be a he, and he also appeared to be human. "Greetings," He repeated, apparently unconcerned that three weapons were pointed at him.

"Greetings," Jack responded carefully, not relaxing for a single second.

Daniel chose that moment to do his part. Stepping in front of Jack's gun, he walked towards the man with his arms wide, showing he had no weapons. "Greetings," Daniel echoed in a much friendlier tone of voice. "We're peaceful travellers. We came through the-"

"Portal. Yes, yes I know." He seemed quite over-excited. "Our monitoring device told us of your arrival."

Starting to get the feeling that this guy wasn't about to chop anyone's head off, Jack loosened the grip on his weapon, and nodded at Carter and Teal'c to do the same.

"Uh, monitoring device?" Jack asked. "That would be...?" He nodded towards the metal thing on the ground.

"Yes," The man agreed. "We do not often have visitors, but it is good to be made aware when they arrive."

"Sure," Jack agreed. "Makes sense."

Daniel stepped up to the plate again. "Uh, my name is Daniel Jackson. This is Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, and Teal'c."

"Greetings," The man responded.

"Greetings," They mumbled back with varying degrees of enthusiasm. It was clearly his favourite word.

"I am Shela. Welcome to Perol."





The big cheese was apparently eager to meet them. Shela led them towards his village, so he and Daniel walked a few steps ahead. He apparently had the same 'talking really fast' thing that Daniel had, and Jack quickly decided keeping up with the conversation was giving him a headache.

But, he *had* told Daniel to make sure he didn't promise Shela any body parts in exchange for anything.


He glanced to his left, where Carter was walking next to him. "Yeah?"

"This is the same direction as the flight path the UAV took before it crashed. I'm pretty sure we'll end up coming across it at some point."

"Kind of figured that out already Major, but thank you."

Grinning, she studied her hand held electronic thingy again. He didn't know how she could always be so fascinated by that thing. It didn't even play Mario Brothers.

They kept bantering for the next ten minutes or so, when Teal'c spoke up.


He looked over the ridge they were climbing up and saw what the Jaffa did. "Woah."

*That* was a village? It was huge! Well...okay, not as big as a city, but he'd expected maybe a few huts, a few goats or sheep baahing about. Not this. This was...organised.

For the most part the buildings were made out of wood and mud, but occasionally he could see the white glare of something technological made of metal.

"Kind of an odd combination, isn't it? I mean...mud, wood...and then suddenly a naquadah reactor?"

"I was just thinking that," Carter murmured, already climbing over the rise and following Daniel and Shela towards the 'village'.

Sighing, Jack turned to Teal'c and shrugged. They followed.


Daniel wouldn't shut up. They'd been standing in the big cheese's home for the past five minutes, and he wouldn't shut up.

“I mean it's amazing the fact that they can be so advanced technologically and yet their houses are almost...”

“From the Dark Ages?”

“Well, no. I’d say these are similar to homes in England circa-“

“A date I really couldn’t care about, Daniel.”

Jackson frowned. “What put you in such a bad mood?”

Damn, maybe he should have used a greater degree of subtlety. “Nothing, I just...” He paused as a young woman entered the old fashioned room, left a tray of drinks on the side, then smiled as she left. Jack shook his head. “They’re being nice.”

Carter smiled at him. “That’s what you don’t trust them sir; because they’re friendly?”

“Come on Carter, think about it! Every time we meet a friendly, helpful race, they always, always turn out to have an ulterior motive. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think we should be signing any treaties *just* yet.”

Daniel lifted a hand. “Uh, they’ve been nothing but welcoming and...we haven’t even met their leader yet, Jack. I think the idea of a treaty is a long way-“


Jack sighed internally. If he heard that word one more friggin’ time...he clenched his teeth together and faced the people who had entered the house. “Greetings.”

It was Shela, and what he presumed to be the Big Cheese who had walked in. Big Cheese opened his arms wide, and smiled.

“I am Refa, leader of Jey.”

“Uh...” Jack interrupted. “I thought this place was Parole?”

“Perol is the name of our world. Jey is the name of our village.”


“On behalf of all the citizens of Jey, I bid you welcome.”

Jack nodded. “Thanks, great to be here.”

Daniel saved him. “Greetings Refa, we are honoured to meet you. I am-“

“Daniel Jackson, yes. And you are Colonel Jack O’Neill, Major Samantha Carter, and Teal’c.” He looked at them all in turn, and smiled at their reactions. “Shela has already informed me. I am pleased to meet travellers from another world.”

This intrigued Daniel. “So you know that the Stargate...uh, ‘portal’ takes you to other worlds?”

“Indeed. We have no use for it ourselves, but people have travelled through it in the past.”

“Do you mind if I ask about your level of technology? I mean in some areas you seem quite advanced but...”

The archaeologist droned on. Jack was starting to feel decidedly warm, and eyed the tray of drinks with longing. Part of him didn’t want to be rude by just taking one - knowing his luck he’d start an interstellar incident - but that other part of him said “What the hell?”

“Colonel Jack O’Neill, are you well?”

Damn. There went the idea of grabbing the drink. “Sorry?”

“You appear flushed.”

Okay, be honest. “Actually, I’m starting to feel a little hot.”

“Me too,” Carter admitted, blowing her fringe out of her face.

“My apologies,” Refa responded. “Our body chemistry must be slightly different to yours; our homes are set automatically to what is the most comfortable temperature for us. I will amend this.”

“You don’t have to do that...” Daniel began, but shut up at the look Jack shot him.

“Daniel, let’s allow the man to do what he wants.”

Jack had to admit that he didn’t know how their homes could be set to any specific temperature. There may have been technological stuff elsewhere, but these ‘houses’ looked downright-

Refa moved to the wall and touched it. It vanished.


In its place appeared what could only be a large computer console, which Refa manipulated among much beeping. “There,” he announced proudly, turning away from the console which immediately turned back into the wall. “You should be able to feel the difference in temperature immediately.”

“Indeed we can,” Teal’c agreed, nodding once.

“Thank you,” Daniel told him. “And if you don’t mind we’d love to find out more-“

Jack stepped in. “But before we get into a long, involved discussion which will no doubt be *fascinating*, we do have another matter to discuss.”

“We do?” Daniel was lost.

O’Neill nodded at his 2IC. “Carter?”

She immediately smiled at Refa. “We’re looking for a device of ours we sent through the portal before we came here. We refer to it as a UAV, and we send it through portals to get a better idea of what’s on a planet before we travel there, to make sure it’s safe for us.”

“What does this ‘UAV’ look like?”

“It’s a flying machine. It has two wings and-“

“It is grey in colour?”

“Yes! Have you seen it?”

Refa’s smile faltered. “Then...*you* sent it.”


Jack was starting to feel disconcerted.

“I am sorry to hear that. We were forced to make your UAV land.”

O’Neill butted in. “Mind if we ask *why*?”

“Our villages cover this whole planet, but many of them are great distances apart. In order to send supplies between different villages, we use our own flying transports to get them there.”


“Very specific areas are set up that only certain transports may enter, to ensure that none of them collide; obviously we wish to avoid accidents. Because we detected an unknown device we were forced to disable it-“

“Wait a minute,” Jack held out a hand, trying to process all this. “Are you telling us that we...violated your air space?”

Refa looked at Shela, who shrugged. “That sounds like a fair description.”

Well. That he had not been expecting. “Sorry about that.”

Carter spoke up. “Has the UAV been destroyed?”

“No, from what I can understand it appears it suffered minimal damage...but that is not the problem.”

“It isn’t?”

Having concluded that Jack was the leader, Refa looked directly at him. “You ‘violated our air space’. You have broken one of our laws.”

Crap, he knew this was a bad idea...

“You must been punished.”

Oh, he really didn’t think so. “Daniel...”

He needn’t have bothered. The archaeologist had already taken up the mantle. “Refa, you’re a reasonable man. Obviously you can understand that this wasn’t intentional, and we certainly didn’t know about this law. We have no wish to harm anyone.”

Refa smiled slightly. “Yes, all of that is clear, Daniel Jackson. However, that does not change the facts.”

Teal’c asked the question. “What will this punishment entail?”

Unconsciously, Jack held his weapon tighter.

“Nothing untoward. You will simply help some of our families with their chores. You will be treated well, fed well, and housed well until you leave.”

“ long will it be *until* we leave?”

“Two days.”

Two days? That was it? Maybe his paranoia was getting the best of him. “Do you mind if I have a word with my team? In private?”

“Of course not. We will wait outside. When you are ready, please let us know.”

Shela and Refa nodded, then left.

Jack turned to his team to discover they had clustered around him. “Well?”

“I think we should do as they say, Jack.”

“I agree. I sense no threat from them O’Neill.”

“And we really need to get that UAV back.” She shrugged at the look he sent her. “I...have noticed you’ve been a bit tense lately sir. Figured it had to have something to do with money.”

“Your point, Major?”

“We’ll have a much better chance of getting it back from them if we cooperate.”

Much as he hated to admit it, he knew she had a point. They all did. The fact was...they’d screwed up; these were the chances they took when they sent anything through the Stargate. “Yeah. Okay. But at the first sign of trouble I want us ready to go ASAP, okay?”

Nods and murmurs were all the response he got.

He stepped free of the group. “Oh Refa...”


Man, these people were trusting. Despite the fact that SG-1 had broken one of their laws, everyone they came across in Jey welcomed them with open arms - literally.

Which was a bit disturbing.

In fact, Refa was so trusting that he had no problem with Jack and Carter returning to the Stargate to send a progress report to Hammond. For all he knew they could have made a run for it through the ‘gate and left their friends behind.

Not that he would, but that wasn’t the point.

Daniel and Teal’c had stayed behind to learn more about their culture. The ‘punishment’ apparently wouldn’t start until the next day.

This was a damned weird place. They were enforcing laws and punishments, but in the laxest ways possible.

“So,” slipping his shades on as they walked out of the village, he glanced at his 2IC. “You really think we can trust these people?”

“I really do, sir. And I’ve gotta admit, I’m fascinated with their technology. If we could somehow get them to share it with us, imagine the applications, we could actually...”

He let her drone on. She didn’t stop talking until they reached the Stargate.

She dialled up Earth immediately, and after the wormhole appeared, Jack pushed the button on his radio, knowing the MALP would transfer the signal through the Stargate. “This is Colonel Jack O’Neill of Sierra Gulf One Niner. Over.”

Hammond’s voice piped through loud and clear. “We read you, Colonel. What’s your status?”

Seeing that the camera on the MALP was rotating towards him, Jack grinned at it. “Met some friendly natives sir, who appear to be technologically advanced. Carter’s thrilled. Daniel’s fascinated. Teal’c...rose an eyebrow.”

“The mission is going well, then?”

“Not exactly sir. Seems our UAV violated their air space which is some kind of crime here. We have to be ‘punished’. No need to worry sir,” He reassured him immediately. “We don’t feel in the least bit threatened, and the punishment seems to be nothing severe.”

“What is this ‘punishment’ then, Colonel?”

“Chores, sir.”

“Chores?” His voice held a distinct tone of disbelief.

“Yeah, you know; mopping the floor, taking out the trash. That kind of thing.”


“Yes sir. And...Carter thinks it’ll be best if we stay and do our time. It’d make it much easier to get the UAV back - apparently it can be fixed.” That oughta be the clincher.

Hammond actually sighed through the radio. “Very well, Colonel. How long will you be there for?”

“Two more days, at the moment, but we’ll send at least one report a day.”

“Okay, Jack. Just make sure you and your team are careful. This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve encountered a civilisation who played nice just to hide a darker purpose.”

“Yes sir. O’Neill out.” After the Stargate shut down, he stood studying the MALP for some time.

“Sir?” Carter asked, clearly curious.

“It’s nothing, it’s just...I’m wondering if this thing is breaking any grass space laws.”

She grinned.


By the time they returned to the village, the sun had begun to set and the celebrations had started. The people of Jey were quite pleased to celebrate the arrival of the newcomers, even if they had broken a law.


They found Daniel and Teal’c in what was apparently the main hall of the village, along with many villagers. Some kind of weird bongo music was being played, and Daniel looked smashed already.

“Hey, I got a question,” Jack shouted to Carter, which - in the middle of this noise - was tantamount to a whisper.

“Yes sir?”

“If Daniel really did teach the kids on Abydos how to make come he can never hold his own?”

Rewarded with one of her smiles, he grinned and headed towards the other half of his team. He was within a few feet of them when a very large and very loud woman appeared in front of him.

“Greetings! Colonel Jack O’Neill?”

He actually took a step back, barely feeling the reassuring hand Carter put on his back. He cleared his throat. “Yes?”

“I’m Releta. You’ll be helping me tomorrow, and the day after.”

Ah. Lucky him. “I see. I look forward to it.” See? He could be a diplomat when he wanted to be.

She smiled sincerely, and he started to feel relieved. “As do I. I wish to hear much of other worlds.”

“And I wish to tell much of other worlds,” Actually, Daniel was the talker but he’d do what he had to do.

“Good day, and farewell.”

“Good day, uh...evening. ‘Bye.”

She left.

Carter was still touching his back. He wondered if she realised.

He didn’t move, speaking to her over his shoulder. “You know...if I get stuck with that and Daniel gets Mary Steenburgen tomorrow, I’ll have to have a little chat with Refa...”

He barely heard her chuckle. “What if I get Mary Steenburgen?”

“Oh I doubt that,” He finally pulled away. Knowing his luck, she’d get Brad Pitt. “Daniel! Drunk already?”


It wasn’t that Daniel was a loud drunk, it was just that he was a loud snorer *when* he was drunk. Jack contemplated burying his head under a pillow, but knew it wouldn’t do much good.

He wasn’t entirely sure how they’d ended up in this sleeping situation. They were all in the same room, but there were only two beds that were about three feet apart. That said, the beds were quite big so two people could sleep in them comfortably, as long as neither of them did a lot a moving.

Jack had ended up with Daniel. It wasn’t his preferred sleeping partner, but probably safer than another option. And yes, Daniel may have been dead to the world which meant he wasn’t moving, but *man* that guy could snore.

They’d gone to bed...he illuminated his watch...two hours ago, and he’d yet to get any sleep. He really should; he could have a hard days work tomorrow.

But that snoring...

Carter, at least, was next to Teal’c, who wouldn’t move even if a naquadah enhanced bomb exploded on his head.

Groaning quietly, Jack turned over so he at least wasn’t facing Daniel and-

Carter was watching him. That was freaky. He paused his moving. “Carter?”

“Sir?” She whispered.

“You okay?”

“Just thinking.”

He finished his moving until he was lying on his side with a hand resting under his chin. “About?”

“What General Hammond said.”

“What he said?” He was lost.

“About how ‘this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve encountered a civilisation who played nice just to hide a darker purpose’.”


“He was right, and...I find that quite depressing, sir.”

Silence settled over them for a while. “I guess.” Man, now he was feeling depressed.

Apparently she could see that. “Sorry sir. I shouldn’t have-“

“Major, don’t you ever apologise for explaining your feelings.”

She smiled. “You may live to regret that.”

He snorted. “Only if I live through my encounter with the Cookie Monster tomorrow.”

Carter giggled, trying to stifle her laughter. “Good night sir.”

“Good night Major.”

He wasn’t depressed anymore.


Something was beeping. Groaning, Jack turned over to whack the alarm off, only it wasn’t the alarm. In fact, whatever he hit was generally much softer and smelt more of booze than his alarm did.

Okay, so no alarm there...

Oh, wait. The beeping was coming from him.

Yawning, opening his eyes, he blinked groggily at his watch. Ah, yeah. He’d set his alarm, hadn’t he? Wanted to be up bright and early; not because he was a morning person, but because he liked being aware of everything before anyone else.

Silencing the alarm he sat up and realised the thing he’d been groping was Daniel, who was still asleep and seemed none the worse and none the wiser for the experience.

Just as well he *hadn’t* been sleeping next to Carter, really.

Swivelling his body, he sat on the edge of the bed and rubbed his hands over his bleary eyes. Yawning again he ruffled his own hair and-

Carter was looking at him again.

“Would you stop that?” He murmured.

She was still lying on her bed, next to Teal’c. “Stop what?”

“You keep looking at me. It’s freaking me out.”

Grinning, she closed her eyes. “Sorry about that sir. I’ll remind myself to close my eyes whenever I look in your direction.”

“Okay, *now* you’re making fun of me. Stop it. That’s my job.” And she was also too damn cheery. He didn’t know how she did it.

Giving up, she opened her eyes again.

He sniffed, eyeing her suspiciously as she scrutinised him. “What?”

She hesitated, then shrugged as best she could in her position. “Nothing.”

Jack didn’t believe that for a single second, but decided - this time - not to argue with her. Also deciding that he needed to use the facilities, he stood up and took a step forward, only for his vision to black out and his head to swim. “Woah!” He stumbled, landing on a knee.


It was too warm for covers so she didn’t even need to throw one off as she leapt from her bed to grab his arm.

He shook his head. “Wow...head rush. Stood up too fast.” Man, he hated that. Although as she was still holding onto him, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Her right hand had clamped onto his forearm, and now her left moved up to touch his shoulder. “You okay?”

Oh, he was *so* tempted to lie. “Fine, thanks Carter.” He should have been embarrassed. He was showing weakness.

Accepting her ‘assistance’ - he wasn’t completely stupid - he stood up and meandered towards the doorway. She let him go there, and they turned back to look at the beds.

He glanced from Teal’c to Daniel, who were both still unconscious either due to alcohol or kel’no’reem. “It’s good to know the boys haven’t lost any of their alertness over the years.”

Turning away and heading for the facilities, he heard her chuckle then move to wake the others up.


“Greetings, Colonel Jack O’Neill!”

Joy. Releta was here. “Greetings, Releta.”

Breakfast had been concluded in the ‘guest hut’ they were staying in, and his boss for the next two days had arrived.

“Are you ready to work?”

“Yes, I’m looking forward to it.” He shrugged at the disbelieving looks his team sent him. Hey, he could be pleasant.

“I am pleased to hear that. It will make things easier.”

Daniel swallowed his cup of juice, looking much more alive than he had earlier. “What about us?”

Releta smiled. “Forgive me, I thought it had been explained. Your teachers will be here to take you to work soon enough.”

“’Teachers’? That’s what you are?”

She nodded. “Yes. And please, you must also forgive my ignorance for not introducing myself properly to all of you last night.”

“That’s okay,” Daniel smiled, wincing. “I’m not entirely sure I’d remember your name even if you had told me it last night.”

“Been trying Trevan’s drink, no doubt.” She fixed her gaze squarely on Carter. “Males!”

Carter shrugged awkwardly. “Yep.”

Blinking, Releta suddenly made her way over to Carter, who was still sitting down next to the table. “I’m sorry, you are...?”

“Major Samantha Carter.”

“Greetings, Major Samantha Carter. I have much admiration for your eyes.”


Jack shrugged internally. Carter’s eyes were quite-

“And I sense I am not the only one who thinks so, yes?”

-hey, who the hell was she talking about? And why was she looking at him? He cleared his throat. “Ready to go whenever you are, teach’.”

Smiling a smile that was decidedly indulgent, she nodded. “Very well. I hope you enjoy getting your hands wet.”

Now there was some imagery...


Blowing a non-existent hair out of his face, Jack wiped the back of his hand over his forehead. Man, he was *hot*. He was in what passed as Releta’s garden, standing next to a wooden table. On the table was basically a large bucket, into which a never-ending pile of clothes seemed to stream.

They hadn’t spoken much yet. She told him exactly how things had to be done, and he was only just starting to get it right; just the way she wanted it. Frankly he couldn’t see the difference as long as the clothes got clean, but he didn’t want to risk the fate of the UAV by arguing with her.

Still, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut forever...

She was sitting on a chair nearby, watching.

“You mind if I ask you something, Releta?”

“I do not, Colonel Jack O’Neill. It is - after all - part of the reason you were sent to me.”

Okay, that was so getting on his nerves. “You know, you can just call me Jack.”


“Yeah. That’s my name. Jack. Colonel is my title.”

Frowning, she nodded. “And what does O’Neill mean?”

“That’s my surname. My last name.” Taking in her expression, he continued. “You don’t have them?”

“No,” She shrugged, sipping at a cup of water. “I am simply Releta.”

Somehow he thought there was more to it than that.

She lowered her cup. “You had a question?”

Yes he did. “You and your people are clearly technologically why do you clean clothes like this? Scrubbing and sweating and dying in the heat?”

Understanding, Releta grinned. “We respect the ways of our ancestors.”

Clearly an answer that Daniel would have loved. Maybe he’d got the wrong ‘teacher’. “I see.”

“We may be ‘advanced’ in some areas, but it is important to remember how things were done before we were as we are now. That the ways are not forgotten. We cannot depend on technology. We can utilize it, but we cannot live on it alone.”

Oh yeah. Definitely an answer Daniel would have loved.

“Sure.” His arms were starting to hurt. He wondered what Carter...what the others were up to. “So...I haven’t noticed anyone else around here. Do you have a family?”

“No. I did have a life partner for some time...”

“You mean like a husband?” He asked. She frowned at the word, and he continued, trying to remember some of the terms Daniel had used in the past. “Uh...husband. Other half. Mate.”

Understanding, she nodded. “Yes. He passed some time ago.”

Damn. He was genuinely regretful. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“It wasn’t your fault. Do you have a life mate?” Releta asked, mixing their terms.

“No,” He scrubbed harder. “I did, didn’t end well.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” She echoed his words deliberately. “But you must still be good friends if you work together.”

Jack’s brain took a while to catch up with the conversation. Was she assuming that he and...? Actually, he’d better hope she was assuming what he thought she was assuming, because if she wasn’t assuming that it meant she was thinking about someone else on his team...”Uh, no. My ‘life mate’ wasn’t Carter. Isn’t. Won’t be.”

He should just shut up now.

She frowned, curious. “Why do you call her Carter?”

“That’s her name.”

“But from what you told me earlier, that’s her surname. You should call her Samantha.”

“Actually, if anything I should call her Sam - she prefers that.” It felt weird saying it - it was the first time he’d said it in years.

“Yet you don’t.”

“In the organisation I work for, it’s more appropriate for me to use her surname. That’s not to say I can’t use her first name, but I guess after all this’s just become a habit.”

“This organisation...they are what give you your titles?”


“But Daniel Jackson and Teal’c do not have titles. Do they not work for the same organisation?”

“Actually, they do.” He was beginning to regret starting this conversation. “Daniel wasn’t trained specifically to work for our organisation, but he has certain knowledge that comes in very handy in the job we do. Same for Teal’c.”

She lapsed into silence after that, absorbing this new information.

Another thirty minutes passed until he spoke up again. “I have to ask something.”

“Very well.”

“You say you have no family, but where are all these clothes coming from?”

That damned smile appeared again. “I have many friends.”


The first time it happened, he assumed it was an accident. Or - at most - she had simply gotten over-excited and couldn’t help herself. Hell, athletes and sport jocks did it all the damn time.

He’d been not so happily scrubbing away, his mind drifting to a nice cooooold shower, when Releta suddenly appeared next to him, staring into the big bucket.

“That’s it!”

Jack stopped. “It is?”

“Don’t stop! Keep going!”

He did.

“See!” She exclaimed. “This method gets right into the grain of the clothes, forcing the dirt out and making them even cleaner!”

Sweet. That meant it’d only taken him...oh, eight get the method right. “Cool.” He actually felt a little proud of himself.

Of course, he also felt like his arms were about to drop off. His body was gonna make him pay for this tomorrow...

“You have done well,” She announced, obviously pleased.

Then, swinging her hand back, she slapped his behind.

Jack almost knocked over the bucket, but she didn’t seem to notice, already having moved away.

Okay. That was a little more contact that he was comfortable with from someone who wasn’t a close friend - hell, even from someone who *was* a close friend - but it was just a one off thing. She got caught up in the moment, and expressed that.


Of course not.

She did it again. And again. And again.

Each time it happened he did his best to ignore it - clenching his teeth together and reminding himself about the UAV. It really was very, very important that there were no problems and that they got it back.

Eventually, she announced his time with her was over.

Overall, it hadn’t been that bad a day. In fact, aside from the butt slapping he thought they’d gotten along together quite well.

“Well thanks, Releta. It’s been a blast.”

“Can you make your way to where you are staying from here?”

“Sure. No problem.” He didn’t care if he got lost on the way. He just wanted to get away from the Hand of Doom™.

“Very well. You may sleep well in the knowledge that you have worked hard, and made up for half of your crime. I will see you tomorrow.”

“Yep, tomorrow. ‘Bye!”

He turned quickly, but not quick enough. The definite sensation of her hand on his behind could be felt as he walked away.


“I’m telling ya, my hands are ruined!”

“Jack, you’re over exaggerating.”

Sitting on the edge of a bed in their hut, Jack held his hands up. “I am not over exaggerating Daniel. They’re like prunes! They’re gonna be like this for the next sixty years.”

He’d returned to their ‘house’ to discover that Daniel and Teal’c were back already.

“I do not believe so,” Teal’c told him, standing in the doorway of the bedroom. “You will most likely be dead in sixty years. If that is the case, then your hands will not look like prunes. They will have decomposed.”

Jack and Daniel blinked at him, confused by the latest attempt at Jaffa humour.

Standing up, Jack brushed by Teal’c and patted him on the shoulder. “Think maybe you should save that one for parties, Teal’c.”

Finding a chair in what doubled as the kitchen and the living room, Jack collapsed into it. His shoulders were starting to hurt already...

Footsteps approached. He lifted his head and watched his 2IC enter the house. No need for locks in this place, apparently. “Carter, there you are.”

“Sir,” She acknowledged, then smiled at the others as they all drifted into the kitchen. She didn’t even look as if she’d broken a sweat.

One by one they took a seat around the table.

“So kids,” Jack began. “What did you learn at school today?”

Daniel moved his fingers around. “Actually, I’ve started to learn a new language.”

“Have you now?”

“Yes. When Refa learned that one of my specialties was languages, he asked that I work with some of their own linguists at translating old records. To be honest the language I’ve been translating isn’t that different from Russian; it just seems to be a more primitive form-“


She looked at Daniel, who - more than used to being interrupted - simply shrugged. “I’ve been doing some calculations, sir.”

There’s a shocker. “Calculations?”

“When Refa found out-“

“Wait a minute, let me guess. When Refa found out what a brilliant astrophysicist you are, he asked you to help their top minds with some development. And - even though you knew nothing about their technology until today - you were able to help them. Right?”

“Right,” She replied, frowning.

“And Teal’c,” Jack continued. “I’m just gonna take a wild guess here and say that you stood guard over something or someone.”

“That is correct O’Neill.”

Great, just great. “So...correct me if I’m wrong here, but am I the only one at this table who actually did something he doesn’t normally do today?”

“Well, what did you do, sir?”

Jack looked at her. “I cleaned clothes, Carter. For nine hours. By hand. I’ve seen things that no one should see.”

Oh, she was trying her hardest not to smile. “Then yes, sir. You’re the only one who did something new.” Standing up, she finally gave into the impulse to smile. “I’m gonna have a quick wash.”

Teal’c left shortly after she did, probably to do some kel’no’reeming.

It was just the opportunity Jack had been looking for. “Daniel?”

“Yes?” The archaeologist looked up, his gaze having previously been fixed on the table.

Taking inspiration from his friend, Jack stared at a wall. “Did anyone you met today...your ‘teacher’ in anything odd to you?”


“Yeah. Odd.”

Frowning, Daniel shook his head. “No...”

Damn. “Okay, never mind.”

“Why? What happened to you?”

“It doesn’t matter.”



“It could be important.”

“I don’t see how.”


“She keeps slapping me on the butt!”

Even Daniel Jackson - a man with knowledge of probably at least thirty languages by now - couldn’t come up with a smart response to that one. “Oh.”

“Oh what?” Carter asked, striding back into the room, apparently having cleaned up already.

Daniel turned towards her. “Releta keeps slapping Jack on the...mikta.”



“There’s no need to go spreading it out!” Crap, now she was grinning.

“It could be important!”


“I don’t know; some insight into their culture, the way their society works.”

Jack studied him with arched eyebrows. “Well, has it happened to either one of you?”

Carter and Daniel looked at each other and answered together. “No.”

“And dollars to donuts it hasn’t happened to Teal’c, either. Which just means Releta likes doing it.”

Clearing her throat, Carter sat in the seat next to his. “Are you sure she isn’t just...attracted to you, sir?”

You know, the last four words - taken in a different context - could have been extremely pleasant. “Irresistible as I am, Major, I really didn’t get the sense it was a sexual thing.”

“When did she first do it?” Jackson asked, pondering.

“It was...after I got the washing thing right for the first time.”

“Washing thing?”

“Yeah, apparently there’s this special technique that gets the clothes really, *really* clean. If I was her I’d just change my detergent.”

“Well that’s gotta be it then.”

“What has?”

Daniel shrugged. “It’s a ‘job well done’ thing. You know, she’s saying ‘congratulations’.”

“She said congratulations six times, Daniel.”

“So she...really meant it.”


“Sir, the bottom line is, if we want to guarantee we get that UAV back, you’re going to have to put up with it.”

Carter had a point again. Didn’t she ever get tired of being right?


There was that word. Again. “Greetings...” He turned towards the doorway. “...Shela.”

Shela had a big-assed grin on his face. “Refa and the people of Jey would be honoured if you would once again join us for celebrations tonight.”

Crap, that was the last thing he wanted to do...but he saw the looks Carter and Daniel sent him. “We’d be delighted. I’ve just...gotta get cleaned up first.”

Shela looked alarmed at something. “You must forgive me!”

“For what?”

“I had completely forgotten to offer you clothes to sleep in! Rest assured, this situation will be rectified later. The clothes you wear at the moment will be cleaned, dried, and waiting for you when you wake tomorrow morning.”

Jack was still trying to clarify the fact that they were the criminals here. “Thanks. As long as it’s someone else washing them by hand, and not me.”

He looked completely confused. “We have machines that clean and dry the clothes within a relatively short amount of time. Why would anyone wash them by hand?”


Things were a bit quieter this time around, but Jack still wanted to leave already. He’d stuck it out for a couple of hours, but he was more than willing to throw in the towel anytime soon.

Daniel and Shela were definitely soul mates. They’d spent most of the past two hours talking energetically, but at least Danny was getting some good info, and he didn’t seem to be drinking this time - he’d learnt his lesson.

A five year old kid had welded themselves to Teal’c’s leg, who was most amused by their behaviour.

Carter just smiled a lot.

Jack had just stood up to use the facilities when he heard a familiar voice.


Wincing inadvertently, he turned towards the source. Yup, there she was. “Releta.”

“I am pleased to talk to you. I had been worried that you might be avoiding me.”

“Avoiding you? Me? Nah...”

God, Carter was right *there*. Why didn’t she say something and interrupt?

“I’m afraid I must see to other things this evening,”

“Really? Darn.”

“But I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.”

“You too. See you later.” Good, go. Just go.

Brushing by him, she walked further and further away. Yes, he was home free; he was safe, he was-


Carter sniggered.

Jack sighed. “Carter, I’m...”

“Going to bed, sir?”

“Yes. Make my excuses for me, will ya?”


Shela had been right. When he returned to the ‘house’ he found four sets of nightclothes, pretty much like pyjamas. Finding the pair that were closest to his size he quickly changed and left his dirty clothes folded up on one of the chairs in the kitchen.

His shoulders were really, really starting to hurt.

Stumbling back into the bedroom, he fell gratefully onto a bed. He really didn’t care if he had to sleep next to a snoring Daniel again tonight. Nothing on Parole was going to wake him.


He woke slowly - no alarm this time, mostly because he’d forgotten to set his watch the night before. Consciousness permeated his brain carefully as if frightened to cause any damage, and he took in the sensations of his body.

Or at least, he tried to.

His body felt disconnected, and although he’d never been in one, he assumed it felt like what floating in an isolation tank would feel like. He was calm, serene, and had slept well.

Then his arms woke up.




Oh, he’d been right about the pain he really had...

...wait a minute...

Wait a damn minute...

His shoulders and upper arms may have been protesting heavily, but his forearms and hands were...

Holding onto something.

Something that was too hard to be a pillow, and definitely too small in places and too big in others to be either Daniel or Teal’c.

Ah, crap.

Internally bracing himself, he opened his left eye.

Yep. There was that mass of blonde hair.

He closed the eye again. Crap.

Okay, so he was in bed with his second in command - someone that even Hammond knew he cared about too much - and his arms and hands were touching her in all kinds of interesting places.

Jack needed some good news.

As the rest of his body began to wake up, he received more news, although whether it was good or not was open to debate. He may have been wrapped around her, but she was equally wrapped about him. In fact, one of her hands was awfully close to thatplacehewasn’tthinkingabout if he wanted to get out of this alive.



He was in bed with his 2IC.


He was in bed with his 2IC.

Damn, this wasn’t helping.

Okay, serious now.


She didn’t seem to be awake. If he could somehow extricate himself without waking her up, he might be able to convince himself - and her - that it never happened.


She didn’t seem to be awake. If he couldn’t extricate himself without waking her up, there’d be the inevitable awkwardness and the increasing awareness as both of them being fully functional and conscious faced the situation. All things considered, it might have been easier for her to have woken up before he had.

If only because she’d be having these thoughts right now instead of him.

Oh wait, oh no oh no oh no...go back to sleep! Dammit, he hadn’t meant to think that loudly!

She was still stirring.

He was totally rethinking this. He didn’t want her to be awake. He wanted her to be asleep *right* now.

Carter wasn’t paying the slightest attention to his silent pleading; much like their working relationship, then.


Oh yeah, *this* was the time to be making wisecracks.

Actually, he reconsidered; this was exactly the time to be making wisecracks if he didn’t want to get his butt kicked.

Jack contemplated ‘playing dead’ to let her deal with it, but no. He couldn’t do that to her. She deserved more.

Carter’s body stiffened. So, she had realised their situation, then.

“Carter,” He murmured.

It seemed impossible, but her body stiffened even more. She didn’t move her head, keeping it faced towards his pyjama-covered chest. “Sir?”

No reason to keep quiet about it. “Just woken up myself. Was contemplating tactics to get out of here without waking *you* up.”

She relaxed, just a little. “Bit late for that, sir.”

“Noticed that.” Well, now that she was awake, he might as well just...oh no. Oh no.


Damn. He knew what she was asking with that one word: why wasn’t he moving? Dammit, dammit, dammit. “Uh, Carter...”


Here it goes. “I can’t move my arms.”


Was that all she could say? Then again, what else could she say? “All by hand yesterday. Almost nine hours straight. Seems both my shoulders and my upper arms have made a suicide pact.” Yep, let’s keep the humour going, Jack. Let’s not address the seriousness of the situation. “I can’t move them.”

“Oh.” She sounded lost. And she was so warm and soft and...

*Think.* “Which means you’re going to have to move.”

Jack didn’t usually have to spell anything out for her, but he could understand why he had to today; it wasn’t every morning you woke up wrapped around your commanding officer. And this wasn’t just sleeping next to each other. This wasn’t the same as sharing a tent or even sharing a bed. This was body parts on top of body parts, extraordinary awareness heightened by the fact that he couldn’t move.

“All right,”

Oh God, was she licking her lips? He couldn’t - wouldn’t - see her face and he knew she was licking her lips.

Carter continued. “I’m just going to...go in one move, okay?”


“Just gonna pull away suddenly.”


“Just going to jump-“


She moved, pulling and rolling and stumbling away from the bed. Jack’s arms howled in protest, but better to put up with that than with Carter’s body for another second.

In her eagerness to get away, Carter had stumbled so far that she ended up sitting on the other bed. It was only then that they both realised that Daniel and Teal’c were up already.

How could they be up already? How could Daniel? He was *always* the last one up.

Quickly standing up and smoothing down her nightclothes, Carter headed towards the door. “I’m going to...”


“Sir?” She didn’t look happy about staying in the room.

Jack couldn’t blame her, but he couldn’t stop himself from asking the question. “Why were you...?” He didn’t finish the question. He didn’t have to.

She practically stood to attention. “I was the last one to bunk down for the night, sir. When I came in Daniel and Teal’c were already sharing the other bed, and I didn’t want to sleep on the floor...”

Of course - no other option. That was the only reason. She understood the precautions they’d normally have to take. “I see.”

Nodding, she rapidly left.

Jack didn’t even try to move, staring at the ceiling which - like mostly everything else around here - seemed to be made of mud and wood. This was just...nope, he wasn’t thinking about it.

After a lot of grunting, groaning, and flaring of pain, he stood up and stumbled into the kitchen. Carter was nowhere to be seen - no doubt making use of the facilities - and Daniel and Teal’c were sitting around the table, talking quietly.

When Jack appeared they both looked towards him.

Saying nothing, he collapsed into a chair. Daniel poured him a drink of juice into a cup which he was able to grasp, but which his arms absolutely refused to let him pick up. Great, just great.

He’d been struggling with the cup for a minute, when he finally realised they hadn’t resumed their conversation and were staring at him.


Daniel shrugged, looking like he was having the hardest time trying not to laugh. “Nothing.”

The realisation he’d been trying to ignore sunk into Jack’s brain. “You did it on purpose!”

Daniel schooled his expression innocently. “Did what?”

“Don’t give me that! You and Teal’c planned this whole damn-“



So Releta had arrived then. As she had the day before, she’d arrived before everyone else’s ‘teachers’. It was then that Jack had looked at his watch for the first time, realising how late it was. On Earth, anyway. He *never* slept in that late.

And - of course - when he commented on it, Daniel and Teal’c found it very amusing. He knew because Daniel smirked and Teal’c cocked his head.

Finding his clean clothes, he managed to get changed and out of the hut before Carter emerged. He’d find facilities elsewhere.

He and Releta took the now familiar walk to her house, and once there Jack moved immediately to the garden, fully expecting a new stream of non-stop washing to look forward to.

The woman was clearly a sadist.

But now, as he entered the garden he saw no big bucket, no pile of clothes, nothing resting on the table he’d been working on all day yesterday. “So,” he asked, spreading his hands out and instantly regretting it as his arms complained. “What am I doing today?”

Pulling her chair away from the side of her hut, she then vanished inside and brought out another chair. “You,” She placed the second chair in front of him, a few feet away from hers. “Are going to talk.”

Moving away, she sat in her chair.

Clearly, the woman was mad. But at least she hadn’t grabbed his butt yet, so it couldn’t be all bad. “Talk?”


“Really?” How was that a punishment?


The Colonel wasn’t about to push his luck. Stepping to the front of the chair, he sat down slowly, maintaining a close study of her expression the entire time. She did nothing but smile openly and honestly. “What am I supposed to talk about?” The idea was starting to worry him now, but if he didn’t have to use his arms again he wouldn’t object too heavily.

“Whatever you want to talk about.”

Really? “Oh.” Right, well... “When can I start talking?”

“Anytime you’d like to.”

So now, basically. Remembering his cap, he pulled it out of one of his pant pockets, shook it out, and placed it on his head. He’d certainly learnt his lesson after forgetting to bring it with him yesterday and nearly getting sunstroke in the progress.

So...talking. That was really Daniel’s forte. “I heard a good joke, you wanna...actually, you probably wouldn’t get it. Not being from Earth and all. Or at least not lately...” Yep. This was going well.

Okay. Might as well ask something he’d been wondering about. “I do have a question.”


“Why did you make me clean all those clothes by hand yesterday? I happened to discover that you have machines that do it for you, and still you completely ruined my silky smooth hands.”

Releta’s grin widened. “I told you before; we respect the ways of our ancestors. Their ways cannot be forgotten.”

“Right, but how is washing clothes so vital?”

“Would you rather we live in unclean clothes? It would not be very hygienic, nor pleasant.”

“I’m not gonna get a straight answer out of you about anything, am I?” She definitely had that vagueness thing going - not unlike many of their allies already.

“There are rarely ‘straight answers’ to any question.”

Yep, exactly as he thought. Ooookay... “Is there anything specific you’d like to know?”

She nodded. “I wish to hear of other worlds.”

Ah, yeah. She’d mentioned that before. “Sure, okay.” He could do that. Clearing his throat, he began. “The first world we travelled to is called Abydos. The people there had been taken from Earth thousands of years ago, and were under the rule of a Goa’uld called Ra. Let’s just say we didn’t get off on the right foot with the guy...”


“ Hammond pulled me out of retirement and assigned Carter to work with me.”

“That was the first time you met?”

“Um...yeah. Why?”


“Of course we soon discovered Daniel had a habit of getting himself killed.”

“He has died several times?”

“Oh yes.”


“...and if you ever get a chance to visit Antarctica, let me give you a piece of advice: don’t. It is *freezing*, and even with someone else for company it’s pretty damn lonely.”

“Who was your ‘company’?”


“I understand.”

“Understand *what*?”


“This ‘Kinsey’ sounds like-“

“An ass? You’re absolutely right.”


“I’d love some water, thanks. Anyway, he used that torture thingy on Carter which ended up killing Jolinar, but thankfully Carter pulled through...”


“Most of the worlds we come across have a lot of trees. A LOT of trees. Apparently there’s some reason for that, but I never pay attention to it when Carter explains it to me...”


“...decided that alternate realities are the freakiest things. I that reality you’re married to someone who you can never marry in this reality, even if you had contemplated it. How bizarre is that?”


“...really helped me through it, you know? It was hard, being separated from my team for so long, but she helped. I still think about her, occasionally.”

“That’s the first time you’ve talked about your emotions openly.”

“Is it? So *then*, we got captured and Teal’c got blinded on another planet in the middle of a war...”


“Nasty, nasty, creepy crawly little things. I really hope you never come across them.”

“Your friend...Thor? Is he well now?”

“He’s great! Although I hope his timing has improved...for no particular reason.”


“Got to have some fun though. I gotta admit, playing golf through the Stargate is something I’ve wanted to do for years.”


“Yeah, uh...a game. Basically you hit a small ball with a big stick.”


“...didn’t get to see it myself, but Carter and Daniel said it was breathtaking. Can you imagine going through a Stargate into water?”


“You’re kidding me.”

“I am not,” Releta informed him. “Our time has drawn to an end.”

“But...I haven’t told you about the Goa’uld palace or the energy being, or-“

“Jack.” Reaching over, she touched his hand. “Our time has ended.”

He didn’t remember walking back to the hut. Before he realised it, he was lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling, his mind diffused with a kind of sadness. It was bizarre. He shouldn’t have told her any of that; it was all top secret information and they didn’t actually *know* that these people could be trusted, but...

He didn’t talk like that. He didn’t talk to anybody like that.


She was in the doorway. “Carter. What did you do today?”

Moving until she reached the other bed, she sat on the edge of it, frowning. “I talked, sir.”

Huh. “Me too.”

He stared at the ceiling again.


As it turned out, Daniel and Teal’c had done exactly the same thing today as they had the day before, so it was only him and Carter who’d done that ‘talking’ stuff.


Still, they were all back. They were all in one piece, and they’d done their time.

They sent another report through to Hammond, letting him know they were staying another night for their ‘farewell’ celebrations, and would be returning the next morning. Jack didn’t mention the fact that they still weren’t positive they’d be getting the UAV back.

The celebrations began. They went through the usual rigmarole of shouting to be heard and turning down Trevan’s drink. Daniel tried to explain why the people all over Parole went to the trouble of hiding their technological advancement - protecting themselves from the Goa’uld apparently - but Jack couldn’t hear any details due to the noise, so paid the least amount of attention possible. No doubt he’d get a thorough report and be present at several briefings where Daniel could bore him to death then instead.

There was no doubt in Jack’s mind that he was getting old. They’d been there for a couple of hours and he was the only one who was flagging. Carter, Daniel and even Teal’c all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves.

Jack just wanted to go to bed. Ever since that last chat with Releta, he’d been feeling...


Continuing his talk with Refa for a while, he then left him in Daniel’s capable hands and wandered out the hall. The music was still present but much quieter here, and he sighed in relief. Looking up at the night sky, he leant against the side of the hall.


Wasn’t that why he’d come out here? Hadn’t he secretly hoped that she’d follow him? “Carter,”

She stood next to him, frowning. “Just thought I’d see if you were okay. You’ve been a bit quiet.”

“So have you.”

She grinned almost sadly. “I guess.” Lifting her head, she looked at the stars as he was. “It’s beautiful.”

Jack nodded. “I’m trying to figure out if we’ve been to any of those.”

A loud - and obviously inebriated - citizen of Jey stumbled by.

Carter didn’t laugh at the idea, instead frowning deeper. “Well, I seriously doubt-“

“I’m joking, Carter.”

Smiling, she lowered her head to look at him before growing serious. “What’s wrong, sir?”

Hell, he didn’t know. “I don’’s just ever since I finished talking to Releta I’ve felt...”


He nodded.

So did Carter. “I’ve been feeling the same. Maybe they have some kind of empathic or psychic ability and they’re influencing us somehow...” She caught the look he sent her, and grinned. “Or I could be speculating too much. Again.”

“Don’t ever stop, Carter. It’s what makes you as brilliant as you are.”

“Thank you sir. Don’t ever let it be said that I can’t take a compliment.”

He smiled for a few seconds, almost agreeing with her. And then he thought of something. “You can’t, though.”

She’d been watching the stars again, and turned to look at him. “Sir?”

“You can’t take a compliment.”

“Didn’t I just-“

“No, I don’t mean about bring brilliant, Carter. Yes, someone can say you’re smart and you’ll smile, but if they say anything nice about *you*, then you clam up. I’ve seen it.” He had a feeling he wasn’t handling this well. “Look, you’re...” Where was he going with this? *Why* was he going with this? “...attractive.” Oh she *really* looked freaked now. “But you seem to hate it whenever someone brings it up.”

She immediately began talking. “Sir, whether I’m attractive or not is beside the point-“

“No. No it isn’t. Do you really think that me, or Daniel or Teal’c take you any less seriously just because you’re attractive? You never had to, and even if you did have to you’ve proven yourself hundreds of times over.”

“Not to people who don’t know me,” She answered quietly.

“Maybe not,” Jack agreed. “But we *do* know you. And there’s no need to be embarrassed.”

He had a feeling this was about as far as he was going to be able to take it. She was still looking at him as if he’d sprouted four heads, and he was feeling pretty much the same way. “Come on. We should go ba-“

“I got the UAV back.”


“I forgot to mention...I had a talk with Refa, and convinced him to let us have the UAV back.”

He stared at her. Hammond would be ecstatic. “Seriously? What argument did you use?”

“A logical, scientific one, sir.”

“I probably don’t want to know, do I?”

“No. But rest assured we can take it back with us tomorrow morning.”

Wow. That was...great. That was a weight off his mind. He suddenly felt a lot happier than he had thirty seconds ago. “Well...well done, Major. Congratulations.” Struck by a sudden idea, he smirked at her.

She eyed him warily. “Sir, if you even *think* about slapping my-“

“Grow up Carter,” He chuckled, before heading back into the hall.


He turned back. “Something else?”

“I’ve never seen you accept a compliment.”

That could well be true, but... “That’s because no one ever pays me one, Major.”

“Then, for the’re not bad to look at yourself, sir.”

A strange feeling of *something* bubbled up inside him. “’Not bad to look at’? Don’t put yourself out, Carter. Besides, I happen to know for a fact...that I am a sexy beast. And stop laughing.”


The next morning - after Jack had spent the night next to Teal’c - they left the town of Jey. They were given fond farewells from all who passed them. Even Trevan forgave them for not trying his handiwork.

Shela, Refa, and Releta walked them to the gate. Carter dialled it up, and sent the IDC through.

Releta had watched the forming wormhole with much curiosity, and spoke to Jack. “I would like to see your world, one day.”

He smiled, facing her. “I think we can arrange that.”

Surprising Jack, she grabbed him into a hug, much to the amusement of his teammates. When she let him go, he stumbled about for steadiness.

“What?” He asked her, mentioning it for the first time. “No slap on the butt for old times sake?”

She smiled again; that damn all-knowing enigmatic smile. “You’re special,” Releta murmured, only for him. “But sometimes you need the truth knocked into you. That’s why I do it.”

“You don’t understand the situation-“

“I do, Jack. You explained it thoroughly, even if you never mentioned it.”

Yep, yep. He was definitely going to miss her. “We gotta go, but...we’ll come visit.”

“I would very much like that.”

Nodding, he walked away and towards his team. Carter had already sent the MALP back. Daniel and Teal’c said their goodbyes, before carrying the damaged UAV through.

“Refa,” Jack told him. “I hope that the next time we meet I don’t break any of your laws.”

“As do I,” Refa grinned.

“Shela,” Jack nodded.


Well...that was it, wasn’t it? They’d come. They’d seen. They’d...broken a few laws.

Their work here was done.

“See you around.” He gestured to the Stargate. “After you, Carter.”

She grinned, and he realised she was thinking of the same thing he was; when they’d first gone through the Stargate together. And although she said nothing, he knew, he absolutely knew what she was thinking as she stepped through the Stargate.

Wiggling his toes, he grinned to himself. “I adore you already, Major.” Then he stepped forward, still smiling, and followed her through.


go to the sequel, Being Sam Carter

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