Things Not Done - Part 3
by Suz

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

Spoilers for The Movie, ‘Children of The Gods’, 'Brief Candle', ‘Enigma’, 'Solitudes', ‘The Serpents Lair’, ‘In The Line of Duty’ (LOTS), 'Secrets', ‘The Tok’ra Pts 1 & 2’, 'The Fifth Race', ‘1969’, ‘Fair Game’, ‘Learning Curve’, 'Past and Present', ‘Jolinar’s Memories’, ‘Nemesis’, 'Small Victories', 'Divide and Conquer', 'Beneath The Surface', 'The Light' and 'Entity'.

Use of {} indicates memories. Use of {{}} indicates fast change between different memories.


Placing her laptop on the General’s desk, Sam opened it and pressed a few buttons.

She and Janet had bumped into Jacob and Aldwyn on the way to his office, and at Sam’s urging they’re joined them. Now all four of them were clustered around Hammond’s desk, equally surprised or astounded at what they were about to hear.

“What have you found, Major?”

Sam launched into her theories immediately. “We already know from the presence of the solar flare as the Colonel stepped through the Stargate that he was transported to another time. Now, we know he was transported to the past because of Jolinar’s memories of him that I carry, and because he left the message for me on P4W 692. Having now had the time to study the size, shape and placement of the solar flare, I’ve been able to confirm that he *has* been sent to the past, but more importantly I’ve been able to calculate how far back he’s travelled.”

It was as if the room itself held its breath.

Hammond’s impatience got the better of him. “Well? Don’t keep us waiting.”

“Yes sir,” Carter grinned and hit the enter key, waiting for his response as he read from the screen.

It was a classic. His jaw dropped and his eyes bugged out. Obviously, he too had thought the same she had only to be proven wrong. “And you’re sure this is…?”

“Correct? Yes sir, to the best of my knowledge this is as specific as we’re going to get. I may be able to refine it a *little*, but…it’ll be the same basic answer.”

“Which is?” Jacob asked, unable to see the laptop from where he was standing.

“A little over five years,” Sam replied, absurdly happy. “Maybe six.”

“Five years?” Janet exclaimed. “That’s *it*?”

“Yes.” She shouldn’t have been smiling, she really shouldn’t. But...five years. It made him seem so much closer some how. Where he was now, they’d be meeting for the first time in about a year.

“But,” Janet stuttered. “I had visions of him being trapped decades in the past. And because we know Jolinar was there,” She nodded towards Sam. “I just assumed it really was that long ago.”

“I know,” Sam had thought the same thing. “It was stupid of me to assume anything. Despite our own history with them, despite the fact that one did send us thirty years into the past, all we can say for certain about them is that to us they’re unpredictable.” She’d been so wrapped up in the memories, trying to figure this out and worrying about the Colonel, that she’d forgotten the most important rule of being a scientist: presume nothing. Facts are what give you your answers.

It was Jacob who spoke up next. “Sorry, but this doesn’t actually help us, does it? I won’t help us bring him back.”

“You’re right dad, but its not entirely bad news. We can estimate that about now he’s probably on Abydos for the first time, fighting Ra. About a year after that he’s going to meet most of us for the first time, and the new Stargate project will get underway. Teal’c will have his change of heart, Sha’re and Skaara will be taken…I mean he’s not actually re-living it, and we may not be able to help him, but at least we know more about where he is.”


Finally, her lab. Her home away from home. She’d missed this place with its reactors, tools, computers and bright purple plants. It didn’t take much concentration at all to imagine that Jack was in there with her, trying to persuade her to go fishing or just…

Being there.

Sam smiled.

She did miss him, but the…urgency? Was gone. There was nothing she could do but continue to work as best she could until he found a way back.

And he was resilient. He would find a way back.


Jacob was in the doorway.


He walked in, nodding a greeting at the guard inside the room. Sam knew there was also one in the corridor outside her lab. She felt kind of sorry for them - she had to be a boring person to guard.

“I told Dr Jackson and Teal’c about your findings.”

She shifted on her stool. “How’d they take it?”

He shrugged and grinned. “Daniel’s exact response was ‘wow’. And Teal’c? You know Teal’c. He just lifted an eyebrow.”

Of course. It wasn’t often Teal’c jumped to conclusions about anything. “What are you doing now?”

“Well, I was wandering around in the quarters I’ve been temporarily assigned, but then I thought I should spend some quality time with my daughter when she’s not being forced to remember thoughts from a dead Tok’ra.”

Had it been anyone else who had said that, she’d probably have been insulted. “I’d love to. That is if you don’t mind watching me work?”

Pulling a stool up next to hers, Jacob balanced precariously on top of it. “I won’t pretend to know what any of it is, but Selmak knows a thing or two. What are you working on?”

Sam’s gaze was drawn back to the laptop. *The* laptop. The one that had been hidden in the bottom of her filing cabinet. “This is the computer I’d been developing the computer virus on.”

“The one that screwed up your Stargate?”

“Right. When the antidote program was running I noticed some differences to the virus compared with the last time I remembered working on it. Obviously, I must have made the changes myself when I was…uh…”

“Sleep walking?” Jacob offered.

“As good a term as any,” She grinned. “I’m just wondering why. From what I’ve found so far - which admittedly isn’t a lot - the changes wouldn’t have affected any of the main elements of the virus. When it would activate, what it would do, any timer settings, any additional effects…it appears to be completely superfluous.”

“But you think this extra information had to be there for a reason.”

“Exactly. But I don’t know what.” Beginning to get agitated again, she rotated her shoulder blades and shook her head.



“Not to sound like the voice of doom and gloom, but…”

An O’Neillism kicked in: she was *so* not gonna like this. “Just say it.”

“Have you considered the possibility that Jack might not be able to make it back?”

Of course she had, of course she had. It wasn’t pleasant, but it had to be done. “I’m not a dreamer, dad. Why do you think I became a scientist? And I know things might not look good, but this happened for a reason. Jolinar made *me* do *these* things for a reason. I refuse to believe that reason is to trap Jack five years in the past.”

“Do you really think something else is going on here? Or do you just want to stop feeling guilty for what you did to Jack?”

“I have nothing to feel guilty for,” She responded immediately, trying to keep her voice calm and losing the battle.

“No, you don’t,” Jacob agreed, staring at her intently. “But you are my daughter, Sam. You’ve always been a dreamer.”



It was fortunate Lantesh had been concentrating and decided to ignore Jack's exclamation, or Martouf would have let go of the controls completely and they probably would have been destroyed.

Jack shrugged as Jolinar broke the world-record for 'as many glares as possible in a five minute period', and glared at him again.

"What is it you find so amazing?" She demanded, almost falling over as the ship dipped sharply.

Resisting the urge to bring up what little food he had eaten, Jack sputtered "But it's...*him*. Which means that I''re...he's..." He was right. His theory after hearing about what had happened to Tollana was right.

He was a lot closer to home - his time - than he'd initially suspected.

Five years, maybe? There was no way to be specific, he only knew from Carter's vague memories and Daniel's report of what the Nasyan Talia had told him about her husband, that Jolinar had been on the run for 'quite some time'.

Nothing vague about that, then.

But how long could it have been, really? Jolinar was - had been - good at evading capture, but the Ashrak was a hunter, a specialist. Cronus of all people had put his faith in him, and Cronus wasn't the kind of guy who put his faith in anyone.

A vague memory returned to him...Sam, in a cell.

{"It's what he does."}

And the realisation of it seemed to hit him then.

This was the Ashrak. The Ashrak. As the fighter went flying by again he caught a brief glimpse of his face - a face he had only seen in passing in a corridor, then later when he'd stared at his dead body in the morgue - and he was filled with a long-suppressed rage eager to break free and exact revenge.

This was the bastard who had nearly killed Sam. This was the bastard who had tortured Sam, and killed Jolinar.

The idea of either of them being hurt was sickening.

His amazement at his recent discoveries fled as he stared at the window where the fighter had just streaked by, wanting to take revenge, wanting to make him pay for making Sam go through that...

But he couldn't. He couldn't change anything.

"Screw the timeline," He wanted to say, but he knew that somehow he was going to get home, and when he did and Sam somehow discovered what he'd done...

She'd be disappointed.

And that'd be even worse, somehow.

Besides, it wasn't like he was in much of a position to exact any kind of revenge at the moment. Oh yeah - broken leg, with Kathy Bates and Spock, already fighting a losing battle. They could do a whole hell of a lot.

Jolinar had already dismissed his earlier babbling - which, he decided, hadn't been a bad impression of Daniel - and was discussing something with Martouf. In Goa'uld. Again.

God, he hated that! Hadn't he just told them that he couldn't speak Goa'uld?! He was about to point it out again - very obnoxiously - when Jolinar faced him, speaking in English. "Gather your belongings!"

The ship pitched again, and this time Jack did fall over. "Shit!" His leg did *not* appreciate the new damage it was getting.

Sighing, Jolinar barked something at Martouf before grabbing Jack, hauling him to his feet, then dragging him into the cargo area.

Damn, she was a hell of a lot stronger than she looked.

During his time trapped in on the tel-tac, he'd pulled certain things out of his pack, making them easier to get to. Wincing, he fell onto his bed as Jolinar began collecting his things and shoving them quickly into the pack.

"What..." Ah, shit. He gritted his teeth against the pain. "What are we doing?"

Not pausing to look up from her crouched position on the floor, she continued working. "You and Martouf are escaping."

The lack of her own name in that sentence was incredibly disturbing. For a moment, he couldn't even hear the thuds of weapons fire hitting the side of the ship, couldn't even feel the pain in his leg. "And what about you?"

Kneeling now, she tilted her head up and smiled at him. When she spoke, she was...different. Nothing overtly obvious, but her voice was...gentler? "I'll be fine, Jack. For a while at least."

It took a few precious seconds for it to sink in, for him to realise what had happened. "The host?"

Nodding patiently, she smiled again. "Rosha."

"Pleased to meet you," He muttered, unable to think of anything else to say. Then he did. "Your...her...the voice didn't change." He hadn't really realised it, but not once had he heard Jolinar's voice become distorted or her eyes glow.

"No," She agreed. "It is not necessary. The Goa'uld use the voice distortion and cause their eyes to glow more for intimidation. The Tok'ra usually use it to distinguish between which of us is speaking."

"The host and the snak-symbiote?" It was weird having this conversation, especially now. In the middle of a firefight, but...this could be useful. Carter had hardly any recollection of Roasha herself. He could probably learn more about her than even she had.

"Yes - but it is not necessary." She repeated. "Jolinar didn't want you to discover that she was a Tok'ra when you met, so-"

"Her voice didn't warble and her eyes didn't flash - got it." He had to face it - Jolinar was quite capable of intimidation without a funny voice and glowing eyes. Weird, weird, weird. He didn't think he could ever stop using that word enough. "I haven't…spoken to you before and not known it, have I?"

"No," Continuing packing his things, she glanced up occasionally. "I prefer not to speak unless I have something important to say."

"And this is important?"

"Yes," Clipping up his bag, she held it in one hand. "You and Martouf will use the escape pods. The Ashrak is under orders to kill Jolinar, and - as I'm in the way - the host if possible. I'm hopeful that because of all the weapons fire he either won't detect you or - if he does - he'll ignore you."

"That's suicide!"

"It's a risk you'll have to take. The Ashrak is a very determined individual. He would gladly kill others if he had to, but his main objective is to kill me. You and Martouf are incidental."

"I'm talking about you!"

"Jack," She grabbed his hand, her blue eyes somehow managing to shine brightly even in the dimness of the cargo bay. "You know as well as I do that the only way Jolinar could be 'different' when you meet her again is if she has a new host. And there aren't a lot of reasons that would force her to leave me. I know what happens, Jack. I don't know how but I do know what. You can't change the time-line; you've said so yourself. You can't change anything."

Dammit, dammit, dammit! Why did she have to be so clever? Why did she have to take the time to think about these things? Why couldn't he have been more careful? "I'm sorry," Jack murmured, suddenly feeling old, so old, and the pain from his leg was back again, spreading through his body.

"No reason to be," She scolded, half-reminding him of Mrs Jenkins from across the street when he was six years old...

And then she was doing something, something he would never have anticipated her doing when he first caught a glimpse of the scowling, glaring woman who - despite everything - took care of him.

She hugged him.

And it didn't feel odd.

Of course it wasn't Jolinar hugging him; it wasn't the woman who liked intimidating him one moment then tucking him in the next. It was Rosha. A woman he hardly knew, but a woman he felt like he'd known his entire life.

Or, perhaps it felt like she had known him that long.

If he closed his eyes hard enough, he could almost imagine...

The ship rocked, heavily. Martouf yelled something that had to be a swear word and Rosha suddenly pulled away.

Only she wasn't Rosha anymore. The stiffness in her body, the lifting of her chin, her sudden distance…Jolinar was back.

"You must leave."

She was grabbing him again, thrusting him back towards the bridge.

Yep, Jolinar was back and she wasn't taking any prisoners.

He decided at this particular moment in time - as she shoved him into the recently opened escape pod - that it wasn't a good idea to tell her that her plan sucked. But...they were out of options.

"I will launch you first. Martouf will follow shortly."

He couldn't imagine what kind of goodbye they were going to accomplish under these circumstances, but he wasn't going to wait around to intrude. "Sure."

She stumbled towards the middle of the bridge. That round thing that the lid slid up off of. Touching the edge she nimbly lifted it up and reached down to-


Pausing, the ship exploding around her, she stared at him.

"When you see me again..." What was he doing? "I understand why you do what you do. I may not know it at the time, but...I understand."

She didn't understand. But she didn't need to.

Pressing the button that closed the escape pod, she continued staring at him until it locked.

Gee, this was fun. Here he was, Jack O'Neill. Shortly to be a duck of the sitting variety. Trapped inside a little black coffin with no light, a limited air supply, and a leg that just wouldn't stop complaining. Oh, he'd been here before, but the first time - despite the desperate situation - it had been kinda fun.

This wasn't.

The escape pod vibrated for a brief second and Jack tried to brace himself, knowing what was coming.

It was useless. As the pod was catapulted out of the tel-tac, his body was thrown about as much as it could be in the confined space, the pain in his leg almost letting him fall into unconsciousness.

It would almost have been a relief if it had done.

But *no*. The universe had much better plans for him yet. Presuming the Ashrak didn't kill him - and that was a hell of a lot of presuming - he'd float along hoping that someone who wasn't a Goa'uld who was also feeling particularly benevolent would notice him before he rammed into the middle of some space anomaly. Hell, with his luck, he'd probably-

The pod was vibrating again.


Did that mean the Ashrak was moving towards him? He didn't know - would he feel the effects of a passing ship like that? God, he wished Carter was here.

The vibrations increased and Jack allowed himself a moment of mini-hysteria, considering this was the moment he was finally going to die and stay that way.

His life didn't flash before his eyes, exactly. For a few impossibly short seconds there were images of the things he wanted to change but knew he couldn't: Charlie, Sara, Kawalsky.


And then, for a few longer seconds, there were images of the things he had that he would never change. Daniel, Teal'c, Janet, Cassie, Hammond.


In an exercise of futility because of the darkness, Jack closed his eyes anyway. Something Bra'tac had said came back to him and he felt himself smiling, the pain slipping away.

He may not have gone out in a blaze of glory, he may not have been able to take Apophis or some other snakehead with him...but he was alone. His friends weren't here to share this fate with him.

Best of all, he

And then his universe vanished.


So, this was hell.

It was colder than he thought it would be. Especially after having been there once already.

Not that it was actually cold so to speak; more that he wasn't sweating at the boiling heat that should have been pounding into his body.

Okay, maybe some freak divine screw up had actually sent him to heaven. Of course, he wasn't about to tell anyone that they'd got their facts wrong, so he'd keep quiet about that little fact.

Then again, would the floors in heaven feel that hard against his body?

His natural sense of equilibrium told him that he was lying down. Not ready to open his eyes yet, he started to roll over only to scream out in pain.

Shit! No way could this be heaven. Why would his leg hurt so much if he were dead? There was only one answer his confused brain could come up with at that moment: he wasn't dead.

"No shit Sherlock," Jack muttered to himself, rolling away from his bad leg as much as possible. Christ it hurt...

"Jack O'Neill."

Okay, so he wasn't by himself. And that voice sounded extremely familiar. Still with his eyes closed he planted a hand firmly on the floor, becoming aware of a very slight hum coming from…just about everywhere, actually.


The sound of something technological working.

Not quite ready for any serious movement, he finally opened his eyes and slowly turned his head towards who had spoken his name. Yep. There he was. That guy turned up everywhere.


Sitting in his usual chair and blinking slowly, the Asgard nodded his head once. "Greetings,"

Staring, Jack did some pretty serious blinking of his own. "What are you...? You're the friend of the Tollans, aren't you?"

"Yes. We felt they were advanced enough to be made aware of our presence some time ago. They have proven to be interesting 'friends'."

Sure. Why not? Where he was now the Tollans would become friends with the Nox in a little under two years. Why shouldn't they be friends with the Asgard? "And they told you all about my situation, right? *Please* tell me they told you all about my situation."

"Yes. While the Asgard do not possess technology that would enable you to travel back to your own time, we do possess technology that is able to predict solar flares."

Jack's brain finally caught up with what was happening. Sitting up, his eyes widened. "Jolinar! Martouf! You have to help them!"

"We cannot interfere," Thor argued. "They must finish their own journey, as must you."

He did *not* like sitting...laying there, just doing nothing. "I see you've still got that vagueness thing going."

Thor didn't comment. Not on that, anyway. "You are in pain."

Jack glanced towards his leg. "Noticed that, huh?"

Thor lifted up his arm, the 'bubble' in his hand (oh *nice* scientific description O'Neill - Carter'd be pleased) glowing brightly as he pointed it towards the human.

It was the last thing Jack remembered.


What a difference a bubble in a hand could make.

When Jack came round this time he was still pretty much exhausted, but the pain in his leg was gone. Completely. Lying on some kind of bed he tested his leg out, moving it around, bending the knee, placing his foot flat on the bed.

Not even a hint of pain.

"Cool," He whispered, then turned his head to the right.

Thor was barely a foot away.

Yelling, Jack shot up off the bed, heart pounding even as he tried to get it under control. "Thor!"

The Asgard in question lifted his head, doing the best damn impression of puppy dog eyes Jack had ever seen. "O'Neill?"

"Don't...*do* that, okay? I could have hurt you." His heart still felt like it was defibrillating.

"That is unlikely."

Jack had to concede that - despite Thor's frail appearance - that was probably true. The things he didn't know about the Asgard were...a *lot*. Clearing his throat, Jack sat down on the edge of the bed, putting him closer to being face to face with Thor. "Thank you. For fixing my leg."

"You are welcome."

Jack wondered, and not for the first time, if Thor's expression ever changed. Sometimes it seemed as if he was right on the edge of actually smiling...but he had a theory to test out right now. "This is the first time you've met me, isn't it?"

Thor didn't look surprised but as his expression never changed, that was probably obvious. "Yes."

"But you know I'll meet you for the first time in a few years, right?"


"And you're not going to tell me how you know this, right?"


Thought not. "Okay then Thor, what's the plan?" There was no point in asking for more details; when it came to being secretive, the Asgard were up there with the best of them.

"We are currently travelling to the planet where you were injured."

Great. Now he was doubling back on himself - but it did make some kind of sense. " you know where it is? I know I don't - all I know is that I was stuck in the back of that cargo ship for a couple of days while we travelled from that planet to Tollana and-"

"Yes, I do know where it is," Thor interrupted kindly.

"Oh. Good."

"From there, we will be able to calculate the appropriate solar flare that will enable you to return to your own time."

Woah, hang on a minute. "You can do that from that planet? I mean, you don't need to go to Earth to do that?"

"We do not. Readings from the Earth's sun will be relayed to us."

"From where?"

Thor said nothing.

"Right," Jack muttered. "Never mind. How long will it be until we get there?"

"Ten of your hours."

That soon? Then again, he knew this was a fast ship, and he didn't know how long he'd been unconscious anyway...looking around the small, largely undecorated room he was in, Jack felt a pang of regret. In a few years, he was going to have to blow this beautiful thing up. He wondered if Thor knew that, too.

Probably not.

"Do you require sustenance?"

Actually... "Yeah." He'd eaten his ration supplies and the food Jolinar had given him, but in all honestly it hadn't been a lot. It had just about been enough. "If you don't mind. Thanks."

Before Thor had even finished nodding, a tray appeared on the edge of the table at the end of the bed.

And then Jack remembered Carter's horror stories.

Leaning towards the tray, he studied the unappetising looking small blocks that were the Asgard equivalent of food. Taking his chances Jack stretched out a hand to grab a piece, but was having difficulty deciding.

"I like the yellow ones," Thor pointed out helpfully, his voice almost gleeful.

"Thanks buddy," Jack responded, his mind suddenly made up. "But I think I'll try a red one."


He probably should have been sleeping. With all the lying around he'd been doing lately you'd think his body would have had enough of that, but his body clearly had other ideas.

He was exhausted.

But there was no way he was going to sleep. It was so damn good to have two perfectly functioning legs again, and Jack even suspected that his legs were better than before. The little twinge of pain that was present in his right knee most of the time had vanished completely.

Nope, he had good use of his legs. He wasn't going to spend his time lying down, he was going to walk around, stretch his legs, and stare out the window in his room.

Stare out the window in his room.

He was almost home. Almost home. How was he supposed to fall asleep with that thought firm in his mind?

He couldn't wait to get there. He couldn't wait to receive the brotherly hug from Daniel, the fatherly smile from Hammond, the pleased eyebrow from Teal'c, the stern but kind instructions from Janet...

The nervous smile from Sam that they both wished was something else.

"A monetary unit for your thoughts."

Jack smiled at his own reflection. "A penny, Thor. It's a penny for your thoughts." Apparently they really had been studying humans - although some of their research was a little off. It was almost like Teal'c was here.

"The sentiment remains the same."

"True enough," Jack answered, continuing to stare at his own image as stars streaked by. "Just thinking about…home."

Thor had moved, and was standing next to him now. "You miss your friends."

He missed his family. "Yeah,"

"I understand," Thor joined him in his perusal of the stars. "If I were separated from mine for any length of time…"

It was a strange concept, the idea that the Asgard had 'friends' just like humans did. "Speaking of that...where are your friends? I don't think I've seen anyone but you since I got here."

"They are elsewhere. I thought it best that in order to protect the timeline-"

"They know as little as possible; I got it." Jack sighed to himself, despite Thor's presence more than a little lonely for someone's company.

He'd put up with Daniel's relentless archaeological enthusiasm if it meant he could just be with him again. He'd even make an attempt to understand what Carter was talking about most of the time, just to see her smile.

Hell, he'd do anything just to see her smile.


"Yes O'Neill?"

There went another star, a star that had probably stopped shining a long, long time ago.

"Do you ever get lonely?"

It was a long moment before the Asgard replied. "Frequently. My position in Asgard society requires that I am not always able to do what I wish."

"Yeah," Jack murmured. "I understand how that feels."

The stars continued to blur.


Five hours.

That was it.

They had entered orbit of P…whatever it was, two hours ago, and Thor had told him thirty minutes ago that there would be an appropriate solar flare in five hours.

Five hours.

They were lucky it was so soon.

Five hours.

Four and a half now, really.

Not long at all.


Four hours and twenty-three minutes.

Maybe he should have taken up knitting or something…


Three hours and forty-seven minutes.

Thor took pity on him, and tried to teach him an ancient Asgard game, taught to children to focus the mind.


Three hours and forty-six minutes.

Jack threw the contents of the game across the room.


Three hours and thirty-one minutes.

Thor slipped a sedative into Jack’s drink.


One hour and twelve minutes.

Jack woke up, wiping dribble from his face, wondering how the hell he managed to fall asleep without spilling his drink all over him, only to look over and see that someone had put his drink on the table.


Forty-nine minutes.

“This is weird, Thor.”

“What is, O’Neill?”

“*This*. The way this is ending. No big fireball, no sudden rescue from certain death. Just…waiting. It’s frustrating. I feel like I should be doing something. I know they’d be doing everything they could to find me.”

“You feel as if you are disappointing your friends.”

“Yeah. I guess I do.”

“You are not. You are simply doing what needs to be done.”

“Familiar theme.”

“Would you prefer your ‘big fireball’?”

“No. No I wouldn’t. I have the disturbing feeling you’d be able to arrange that for me…”


“It is time, O’Neill.”

Dragging his gaze and his body away from the window, Jack turned. “Already?” Thank God. Not waiting for a response, Jack grabbed his pack from the floor next to the bed and stood next to Thor. “Well, let’s go. Beam me out of here or whatever it is you-“

Jack was suddenly on the planet.

“-do,” He finished.

The rapid change in temperature caused Jack to shiver a little, before he noticed Thor standing next to him. They were scant feet away from the DHD, and now that Jack had the opportunity to study the planet without worrying about his team or the distraction of a broken leg, he could see what the hell Jolinar had been talking about.

Woah. Suddenly he was back in the seventies again.

“You must dial now, O’Neill.”

Facing the Asgard and bending down, Jack gave him a manly slap on the shoulder. “Thank for everything, Thor. Really.”

If it had been possible, Thor would have shrugged. “You must dial now, O’Neill.”

Needing no further urging Jack moved to the DHD and began pressing the familiar sequence of seven glyphs.


That was a Daniel word. He’d be seeing him soon.

Eagerly he finished dialling, then pressed on the red circle in the middle.

He hoped to God this was going to work, he hoped to *God*…

The best aquatic display in the entire universe formed. “Yeah!” Chuckling, he grabbed his GDO and entered the IDC. He hoped to God they hadn’t changed that, either.

Only one way to find out.

Staring at the rippling Stargate, still not taking in that this was happening, he murmured another thank you to Thor.

“Leave,” Thor urged. “Now.”

Jack left.

Only to find himself back on the planet.

As the wormhole disengaged behind him, he stared at everything, noticing the lack of Thor.

Then he remembered. “Ah. Right.” Shaking his head, he moved to dial home again.


"You summoned me Major Carter?"

Good. Aldwyn was here.

Since she'd discovered where the Colonel was, Sam had been deluding herself into thinking that she was fine; that there was nothing she could so. Her father - displaying an extremely insightful and annoying habit - had made her realise she was wrong.

There was plenty she could do. And she was about to.

"Yes I did, Aldwyn. Did you bring what I asked?"

Already he was walking into her lab, the device in his hand. "Yes. Although I feel I should point out that it you are about to ask me to do what I think you are about to ask me to do, Dr Fraiser would be most annoyed that she is not here."

"Thanks for your concern Aldwyn, but I want to do this by myself this time." Now that they knew anything else she remembered probably wouldn't help the Colonel, she wasn't going to have witnesses unless they were absolutely necessary. "I know you'll be discreet." And even if he wasn't, she was imaginative enough to punish him in a variety of ways for not keeping his mouth shut. Besides, it was a much better idea that it was Aldwyn who might accidentally hear something she said while remembering. Less likely to cause trouble that way.

"I will," He assured her.

"Good. Then let's start."

Sitting on a chair instead of a stool - she was less likely to fall off a chair if the memories were too overwhelming, or if she did it'd be a much shorter journey - Sam exhaled heavily, forced her body to relax, and closed her eyes.

The memory recall device had been removed when she'd passed out yesterday, but now she felt the sharp sting as it burrowed into her head again.

Aldwyn didn't hesitate this time. As soon as it was in he passed the activator over it.

Something beeped.

{Her host was enjoying this more than she was. He was adequately comfortable and easy enough to wrap her arms around, but her host...Rosha was revelling in the contact between bodies, the feel of his hair brushing against her face, the touch of skin.}

{His warmth.}

{A brief flash of annoyance flashed through Jolinar's mind; "What about Martouf?"}

{Rosha replied with her never lessening attitude. "Be quiet, Jols."}

{Had it been possible, Jolinar would have glared at her host. As it was she was giving it a good try anyway.}

{"Beside, it is not a betrayal," Rosha argued. "He needs this. He doesn't realise it, but he needs this. You have always put too much meaning into inconsequential things."}

{"Inconsequential my mik'ta. And please, for the two thousandth, eight hundredth and seventy sixth time...please stop using that ridiculous nickname."}

"Major Carter?"

{{"I understand why you do what you do."}}

{{She had no idea what he was talking about, and it occurred to her amongst the fumes that this really was not the time to listen to confessions, admissions, or honest truths. But the honest truth in this situation was: it was important. Somehow she knew that. So she continued to stare at him until the descent pod locked shut.}}

"Unscheduled off-world activation!"

She was up, moving towards the corridor before Aldwyn could even object.

{"Who - or what - is Sam?"}

{“She’s…someone I work with. A friend.”}

She was aware - vaguely - that Aldwyn was calling her name, that the SF's guarding her were close behind, but she didn't even hesitate.

{{She stumbled, running blindly as all training and experience was lost only to be replaced by panic. Her feet thudded into the muddy, wet ground, her breath escaped from her mouth with air so cold that it actually hurt, her throat feeling as though it were on fire. The host and symbiote were for once unanimous in their fear and their reaction, desperate to keep moving, just to keep going, just to find-}}

Swiping her card through the reader, she almost fell into the elevator. Arms grabbed her, pulling her, helping her to stand. She pushed them away, leaning against the elevator wall. "Level 28," She ordered, seeing the faces staring at her and not recognising any of them.



The elevator jerked into life, the base alarms still echoing through the elevator shaft as she closed her eyes, resting her forehead against the wall.

{"None of this has to leave this room."}

{"We're okay with that?"}

"Major Carter? Are you feeling all right?"


{{"And to you."}}

{"I have cancer, Sam."}

{{"Where's mom?"}}

{"Don't leave me like this! Please, Jack!"}

Sam's eyes opened as the elevator came to a halt and she clawed at the doors before they were even open. She pulled herself along, clutching at walls, pipes, anything to keep her upright as her feet guided her body towards the gate room with an innate sense of direction she'd only been capable of once before.

A variety of surfaces passed beneath her hands; all of them hard, cold, and unrelenting.

The voice.

"Keep that iris closed!"

{{"Does Martouf know?"}}

{{"I can't answer that."}}

Gate room.

{Ramp sweet ramp.}

The door opened at the use of her swipe card and she stumbled in, not seeing the armed personnel pointing their weapons at the Stargate.

Another voice. Quieter. Masked. Barely audible.

"Sir, I'm receiving a's SG-1!"

{{"What kind of name is that for a team?!"}}

"SG-1...? Open the iris, but get more personnel in the gate room!"

The thud of boot-clad feet echoed around her, through her, but she ignored them.

The iris deactivated, opening to reveal the event horizon behind it rippling carefully, hypnotically. She stepped up onto the ramp.

"Major Carter, step away from the Stargate."

She moved closer.

"Major Carter, that is a direct order!"

{“Guys, willing to help me disobey a direct order?”}

{“Already working on it.”}

His face appeared first. It came through as if in slow motion, seeming to form from the wormhole itself, the event horizon almost sucking at his skin as he pulled away from its grasp.

Then his body. It, too, pulled free from the astronomical hold of the wormhole until he was standing alone, untouched, and apparently unharmed.

His pack was grasped in his right hand.

He didn't seem to be any more aware of it than she did.

{{"She's…someone I work with. A friend."}}

The wormhole vanished behind him, dissipating in its usual way from the inside out.

That voice, again. "At ease." The subtle sound of troops relaxing was barely acknowledged. "Welcome home, Colonel. It's good to see you again."

Still no response. No lame joke, no quip, no funny remark.

He simply stared at her.

{He needs this. He doesn't realise it, but he needs this.}

Stepping forward - not entirely her own decision - she wrapped her arms around him.

Jack didn't even breathe for a moment. Then, his decision made, his pack hit the ramp as he let go and returned the hug fully, even going so far as to bury his face into her neck.

A whisper. Whose, neither was sure. "I missed you."

She could feel his eyelashes on her skin as he opened and closed his eyes.

And then she passed out.


She woke with shock immediately sitting up, gasping. Fresh waves of regret made her shiver before she forced herself to ignore them and focus on visual facts.

Infirmary. She was in the infirmary. Made sense. She wasn’t quite sure why, but it did.

There was a presence to her left.

It was only as it moved to hug her that she realised it was her father.

"Hey kid. You okay?"

"Dad," She returned the hug gratefully, closing her eyes and still feeling...something.

Opening her eyes she peered over his shoulder and took a quick survey of the room. A few nurses and empty beds. Good. That meant the Colonel was all right. Dad wasn't concerned about anything other than her, and Jack wasn't injured in a bed. He wasn't here, but he was all right. "I'm okay,"

The relative peace of the infirmary was shattered as her father pulled away from her, and she became aware of approaching voices.

"-and frankly Aldwyn I don't care if she asked for privacy; Major Carter's health is largely my responsibility, and you know very well that you should have informed me."

"Dr Fraiser-"

"And I don't even know how you thought for even a second that things would go as planned! According to General Carter you're one of the leading experts in the use of the memory recall device - you should know better than anyone how unpredictable those damn things can be!"

"Dr Fraiser-"

Janet was having none of it, still ranting as she pounded into the infirmary. "It was irresponsible, idiotic, and completely-"

"My fault," Sam finished.


"Major Carter,"

"You're awake," Janet informed her, somehow managing to smile and glare at the same moment.

Aldwyn remained to one side, trying to hide.

"I noticed that. Look, Janet...this was my fault. I wanted to do this without anyone else around, and I wouldn't accept any refusals. You know how stubborn I can be."

"It's a trait that runs in the family," Jacob offered.

Efficiently checking Sam's pulse and readings, Janet sighed. "I'd say it's a trait that runs in the military, sir." Holding Sam's hand, she smiled fully. "How are you feeling?"

"Okay," Sam shrugged. "A little confused. I'm still not entirely sure what happened. I remember starting to use the recall device...the alarms going off...running..." A flash of another memory caused her eyes to widen. "Did I...? Umm, did I do what I think I-"


"In front of everyone?"


"Oh..." Perfect. That was just the way to show she didn't treat him differently to anyone else on SG-1. Oh yes, she was *always* in the habit of hugging teammates - not to mention superior officers - she had largely confused feelings for. "Well if nothing else, that'll keep the gossip mill going, huh?" Keep the pride, had to keep the pride.

"Sam, if you're worried..." Janet began, faltering. "There's no need to be. Everyone knows what you've been through, even if we can't understand it. We know this would be an emotionally confusing time for anyone."

That wasn't good enough, damn it! She should have better control. They were making allowances for her weakness, and she hated it. "I see."

Nodding with understanding, Janet squeezed her hand one more time before moving away and picking up the telephone. "I'll let them know you're awake,"

Depressed, Sam turned her head towards her father. Unsurprisingly, he was staring at her. "Dad..."

"Sam, who do you think you're talking to here, huh? I'm a Tok'ra myself. I know how confusing it is, even with Selmak's guidance."

"What happened in the gate room..." This was difficult. This really was. "It...had nothing to do with the memories. Not really."

There. There it was.

He wasn't smiling, but he wasn't frowning either as he reiterated an earlier point. "I'm your father."

She was about to respond but didn't when the heavy, unmistakable sound of someone running along the corridor echoed into the infirmary. Everyone turned with expectation and no one was surprised when Jack O'Neill appeared in the doorway.

He immediately stopped and controlled his breathing as if he hadn't been running full pelt through the corridors of the SGC. He didn't greet anyone. He just looked at her.

And smiled.

Sam's internal berating capacity seemed to have suddenly gone on vacation. God, it was so good to *see* him. It felt so *good* to see him. Why would anyone fight that?

She knew why. Somewhere, she knew why. But right now she really didn't care.

"Hey," He said eventually, quietly, as if afraid it might ruin the moment.

Fat chance. "Hey,"

She'd forgotten the colour of his eyes. How had she managed to forget the colour of his eyes?

"How you feeling?"






Jack moved then, strolling in casually, his hands shoved into the pockets of his pants. He paused next to Jacob - whom he still hadn't acknowledged - and continued looking at her. "Do you...remember everything?"

"Some of it. You?"

"What I saw myself, yeah. Thor sends his best."

"Thor?" That was a surprise.

"Yeah. Long story. I'll fill you in later."


He was rocking back and forth on the balls and heels of his feet, clearly wanting to move, clearly wanting to do something.

His hands stayed in his pockets.

He finally acknowledged that someone else was in the room. "General, how you doing?"

“Fine Jack. Glad you’re back in one piece.”

“Me too. For a while there I was in a couple and it was *not* pretty.” He immediately switched conversations to Fraiser, who’d returned to Sam’s bedside. “What’s the diagnosis, doc?”

“Aside from the apparent loss of all logical decision making processes?”

Sam rolled her eyes. “Janet…”

Jack grinned. “Aside from that.”

“Well, I’d say that Major Carter is suffering not from any physical injuries, but instead from psychological trauma.”

“Wow. That sounds a bit…severe.”

It certainly did. Sam was starting to get worried.

“Admittedly, I probably did make it sound more severe than it is…but she is continually discovering new memories of Jolinar’s experiences, Jolinar was somehow able to control her or give her instructions even after she died. Now I’m not going to force the issue - yet - but I do recommend that Sam talk to-“


“Sam, he’s perfectly qualified.”

“And you know as well as anyone that he’d love to see all of us locked up in a padded room!”

“And you’re over-exaggerating! Sam, look,” Janet took a breath. “MacKenzie is an experienced doctor and this kind of thing is his specialty; it’s what he does.”

{Sam, in a cell.}

{“It’s what he does.”}

Janet continued. “Sam…this would be a hard time for anyone. You *know* that. You shouldn’t feel ashamed to avail yourself of his expertise.”

“Oh yeah,” Jack spoke up. “And I’m sure old doc MacKenzie has had plenty of experience in getting infested by a Goa’uld, right?”

“Colonel you’re not helping.”

“I just don’t think we should force her to do anything she doesn’t-“

“Well Colonel, I see it didn’t take you long.”

Everyone turned as Hammond walked into the infirmary, Teal’c and Daniel behind him.


“To start your first argument since returning. It’s been…what? A couple of hours. I guess you really must be fine.”

Jack smiled, but obviously because it was his superior officer.

Daniel and Teal’c were already at Sam’s bedside, opposite Janet and Jacob.

“Hey Sam,” Daniel hugged her as best he could. “How you feeling?”

“Fine, actually. Although Janet thinks I should talk to MacKenzie.”

“You’re joking, right?”

“If only.”

“It is good to see you well, Major Carter.”

“Thanks Teal’c,” She smiled.

“So what happened, exactly?” Daniel asked. “Why’d you pass out again?”

“I guess for the same reason as before - the memories were just too powerful, too confusing. I’m pretty sure the human brain wasn’t meant to be put through something like this so often.”

“Finally something we agree on,” Janet told her. “And I insist that you don’t use the recall device for at least a week. Give you and your brain time to adjust to whatever memories you have banging around inside your head.”

“There’s a scientific description,” Jack muttered.

Sam cleared her throat. “So, what did I miss while I was out?”

Hammond spoke up this time. “Colonel O’Neill informed us of the basic facts of his…’journey’. Which, you’ll be glad to know, matched the reports of memories you told us about.”

“And,” Janet butted in. “The Colonel was given a full physical and appears to be in perfect health. We’re still waiting for a few results, but-“


“The Colonel broke his leg after his eventful trip through the Stargate, and I just want to double check everything’s okay.”

Sam met his gaze. “Sorry,”

He’d obviously been told that it was her who’d uploaded the virus. “Heck, I don’t blame you Carter. But if Jolinar were here right now I’d seriously kick her butt. If I could find it…do snakes have a butt?”

“So…what happened? I mean it certainly doesn’t look broken now.”

Jack shrugged. “Thor happened.”

Yeah, he’d mentioned him before. “Thor happened?”

“He healed me. With that bubble thing in his palm. Pretty cool.”

Sam nodded, surprised. “Wow. Yeah.”

Jacob took that opportunity to move away from Sam’s bed. “Excuse me for a minute, Sam. George, can I have a word?”

As both General’s moved away and started a conversation about whatever Jacob wanted to discuss, Sam shifted on the bed trying to sit up with her back against on the wall. Resting her left hand on the mattress she pushed down with it only to gasp as a jolt of pain ripped through her wrist. “Shit,” She whispered, resisting the urge to wave her hand about.

“What is it?” Jack asked quietly, moving until he was standing next to her.

“I injured my wrist when the Stargate malfunctioned. It’s been pretty much behaving itself until now, but I guess it doesn’t like that kind of treatment…” Ow, ow, ow!

Jack was holding her wrist gently before either of them realised it. He examined it closely, looking for external signs of injury while being careful not to cause her further damage. “Well I can’t see anything,” He murmured. “You sure you’re not just going for the sympathy ploy?”

“Oh of course, because I know that it would work so well on you.”

He grinned, looking down at her hand still held in his. “I remember this…”


His grin was gone and he continued to speak quietly. “Jolinar injured her wrist while I was with her. Same one, too. Small world, huh?”

{“But…to make me feel better, wrap it up in something. Please?”}

She remembered. The recall device wasn’t implanted anymore, but she remembered. “You made her…you helped her. You insisted she take care of herself.” Lifting her head, Sam smiled. “She thought it was strange that you’d help someone who was effectively keeping you prisoner.”

He probably didn’t realise he was rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand. “Yeah, well, I’m usually a good judge of character.”

Loud, rapid footsteps from the other side of the infirmary finally snapped him out of it. Letting go he shoved both of his hands back into his pockets, and it was only then that both he and Sam realised that Daniel, Teal’c, Janet and Aldwyn had been staring at them the whole time.

Well…that didn’t mean anything. Right?

It was one of the nurses who was rushing over, something clasped in her hand. “Dr Fraiser!”

The urgency in her voice grabbed everyone’s attention, even Hammond and Jacob who broke off their murmured conversation to face her.

Fraiser frowned. “Karen? What is it?”

“It’s…it’s the x-ray, doctor. You have to see this!”

Well aware that this was unusual behaviour for anyone who worked in the infirmary, Janet took the x-ray from her and held it up to the light. “What?! That can’t be right - this has to be a faulty result.”

“I don’t think sir, Ma’am.”

“What?” Jack asked. “What is it?”

Shaking her head Janet rushed over and slid the x-ray into the display on the wall, switching it on and watching as the lights activated, illuminating the picture. Her eyes widened still. “Karen, get the machine prepped. I want a full body x-ray of Colonel O’Neill, stat.”

The nurse rushed off as Jack moved closer. “Uh…doc? I’m getting a little worried here…”

So was Sam. She was still in her bed, but even from there she could see there was something amiss.

“Sorry Colonel, but…” Janet looked exasperated. “Even after a broken bone re-sets, there’s always some physical indication that there was a break. If you look at a x-ray of that bone even years later, you’ll still be able to see that there was a break there at some point.”

“Like a scar?”

“Basically, yes.”

“So what’s the problem?”

Janet nodded towards the x-ray. “I don’t see any evidence of a scar on there, do you?”

Jack shrugged. “No. I guess not. So…?”

“So, there’s absolutely no indication that you’ve ever suffered any kind of trauma to your leg. It’s as if you’ve never suffered a broken bone.”




"Has Fraiser come up with anything yet?"

"Not yet, no."

"What do you think it is?"

"How should I know?"


The archaeologist shrugged, standing with his arms crossed over his chest next to the bed Jack was sitting on the edge of. "Seriously, how should I know?"

Jack sighed. "I'm just asking your opinion."

"Makes a nice change."

"Hey! I don't think that was called for."

Daniel stared at him for a few moments before relenting. "You're right. I'm sorry. But I really have no idea."

Jack muttered internally. He'd been doing the whole bravado thing since Fraiser discovered his 'magical healing bone' (something they should advertise on one of those shopping channels, he thought). Nothing wrong with a magical healing bone, right? Hell, it was downright useful! Maybe if he broke it again it'd heal again. Did she know how much people would pay for something like this?

But the truth was, he was worried. A little.

Bones just didn't heal like that. Not completely, not without any sign that they had ever been broken. She was the doctor; she knew these things. Besides, Carter agreed with her and Carter was never wrong about anything.

Since her discovery his whole body had undergone a series of tests and he was trying not to be anxious while he waited for the results. Carter'd been released - as long as she promised to take it easy - and now Hammond was filling her in with everything Jack had gone through.

Well, the story he'd told Hammond anyway. He had left a few things out.

Thankfully - although he was a long way from admitting it verbally - after everyone had cleared out, Daniel had elected to stay behind.

Jack wasn't really surprised to realise just how much he had missed the guy.

So, in-between scanning, poking and prodding, Daniel had kept him updated on the events and gossip he'd missed. The image of Janet crawling out of a ventilation shaft would have kept him smiling for a long time...if she hadn't suddenly appeared, causing Daniel to turn red and cough nervously.


And now, here he was. Sitting on a bed. Again. After already having undergone a battery of tests when he'd first returned. After sitting on a bed for God knows how many hours while he'd been gone.

Woo hoo.

When this was over he wasn't going anywhere near a bed for a long, long time.

Well, not unless someone else...and let's not even go there, O’Neill.

He was deciding whether or not to sigh again when Sam walked in. And although he was delighted to see her, although he could feel the smile forming on his face without even telling it to, although something inside him suddenly seemed to loose its equilibrium, now he definitely sighed.

Internally, though.

"Sir, how are you feeling?"

"Perfect, actually." He smiled, shrugged, rolled his eyes or possibly just grinned like an idiot. He wasn't quite sure. "Feel better than I have in a long time." Physically anyway.

"Glad to hear it," She nodded a greeting to Daniel then made her way to the opposite side of Jack's bed. "Anything?"

"Not yet. Still waiting for the results."

"I see," She too was trying not to look nervous.

He loved that. "Did Hammond fill you in?"

"Yes sir. It's quite a story."

"It is at that, Major." Jack smirked. "I still kind of can't believe it myself."

"I just wish I could remember more of what Jolinar experienced. Maybe it'd help explain what happened in more detail."

Oh he'd much prefer that she didn't remember some of the things that Jolinar experienced. "Oh I think we pretty much have it all figured out."

"I know, but still..."

"Actually," Daniel cut in, long forgotten. "I do have a suggestion. Something I thought of."

Jack looked at him, waiting for the suggestion. When it didn't emerge immediately, he prompted the archaeologist. "Which would be..?"

Daniel looked just a little hesitant. "I think we should go back to P4W 692.”

O'Neill almost flew off the bed, startling him. "Are you out of your mind?!"

"Apparently. Look, Jack...the reason I wanted to go to P4W 692 in the first place was because of the group of rocks the UAV transmitted footage of when we sent it through. There is no way that was a natural formation of rocks. Someone put them there, in that way, for a specific reason. Most of the time it's for spiritual or religious purposes, but we won't know for sure unless we go."

"Daniel, the last time I tried to go to that planet I ended up five years in the past with a broken leg and a woman who scared the crap out of me! I really don't wanna risk that happening again!"

"She...scared the crap out of you?"



He faced Carter. "*Please* don't tell me you're about to agree with him."

She didn't hesitate. “Think about it sir - not only have we run fifteen separate diagnostics on the dialling system, but you’re forgetting that Daniel, Teal’c and myself went to P4W 692 after you went missing. Nothing happened to us then. Why would it happen this time?”

“Because that’s the way my luck goes!”

She lifted her eyebrows. “Didn’t know you were such a strong believer in luck, sir.”

“Are you kidding?” He knew she knew he was being sarcastic. “I never walk on cracks in the sidewalk, I’m always chucking salt over my shoulder, and as for walking under ladders? Forget it.”

It was one of those times when his sense of humour wasn’t going to change her mind. “Daniel’s rocks aren’t the only reason I want to go, sir.”


“I’d like to go back to the cave. It’s a place where Jolinar spent huge amounts of time, I know that much. I think that now - knowing what I know - it’ll help me to remember more.”

He couldn’t believe this. He just couldn’t believe this. He’d gone to hell and back - well Tollana anyway, and that was close enough - just to get home from planet, and now they wanted to go *back*?

Couldn’t believe it.

He met Carter’s gaze. Those blue eyes - so much like Jolinar’s - were pleading with him earnestly.


His resistance - Black Ops trained against everything from torture to blackmail with the obvious exception of the specific colour of Samantha Carter’s eyes - crumbled like one of Daniel’s old rocks.

“We’ll talk to Hammond,” Jack murmured, wondering if he should hate himself.

Her smile made it worthwhile.

“But I can’t promise anything,” He added, determined to sound as if he still had some kind of control over his actions.

“Of course,” She nodded, but that smile was still there as if the result was already a foregone conclusion.

Probably was.


Jack turned towards the approaching voice. Good. Janet. He was actually looking forward to this now.

And he thought he was being extremely good by not panicking at the look of absolute surprise on her face.


She was holding what had to be an entire ream of paperwork. Placing most of it at the foot of the bed, she opened up one cardboard folder and held it out towards him.

Taking it, he frowned at the contents. “What am I looking at here?”

“These are the scans of the entire skeleton. As you can see, there’s no evidence that you’ve ever suffered a broken bone or fracture of any kind, even your skull fracture - and as we both know, you should be into double figures by now.”

Too damn strange. “Do you know what caused it?”

“I don’t *know* Colonel, but I can take a guess.”

“Go on,”

“Thor,” She stated. “You said that he healed your broken leg when he rescued you.”

“Yeah. With that bubble thing in his hand.”

Sam nodded. “Maybe it’s some added effect of that.”

“Wait a minute,” Daniel said. “Jack…if I remember correctly, after you came back from the Asgard home world you said that they used the, um, ‘bubble device’, to extract the knowledge of the Ancients from your mind, right?”


“Then why didn’t this happen that time? Why now?”

Janet shrugged. “Maybe…multiple use has some kind of unexpected side effect to humans that they didn’t anticipate, as smart as they are. Asgard physiology is obviously very different from ours.”

“Or,” Sam suggested. “Maybe it’s because this bubble device was used for a different purpose this time. I mean…removing the Ancients knowledge? Can that really be classified as a medical procedure?”

Jack didn’t know. In fact Jack didn’t know anything apart from the fact that his head was spinning. Okay… “Is this bad? Is it doing anything nasty to me?”

“I’m not sure, sir, but…” Janet hesitated. “There’s something unusual in your blood.”

Sam’s hand brushed over his once, quickly. He didn’t jump.

“That sounds worrying.”

“To be honest I don’t know if it’s worrying or not. There’s some kind of microscopic element in your blood that I’ve never even seen before. Now I’m not sure what it’s doing but if it entered your blood when Thor used the bubble device, they maybe somehow that’s what healed you.”

“I guess.” Hell, how was he supposed to know? “Definitely not nanites though, right?”

“Definitely not.”

“Good.” Nasty little things.

“There’s something else.”

Something else? “Something else?” How could there possibly be something else? And he so did not like that expression on her face. Okay, here came the panicking.

Fraiser looked as if she didn’t know how to say what she was about to say. “So far I’ve seen no external signs of any difference…”

It was Sam who spoke. Her voice sounded odd. “Difference?”

“Your bones aren’t all that’s being affected. I do need to perform more extensive tests but early indications are that your internal organs, muscle strength…everything below the skin is that of a man ten to fifteen years your junior, and the condition seems to be advancing. You’re getting younger, sir.”


"*Younger*?" Hammond asked incredulously. "Is that even possible?"

"Well remember sir," Fraiser responded, taking back the files he'd been perusing. "It did happen on Vyas. Although, admittedly, those circumstances were rather different."

"The Vorlix," Daniel commented, a pained expression on his face.

Janet spoke carefully. "Yes. But this seems to be in no way related to that. There's no loss of memory and no evidence of Dargol...he's just getting younger."

Hammond glanced at Jack - who wasn't even paying attention - then focused back on the doctor. "Is there any evidence that..."

As Janet and the General continued talking, Sam turned towards Jack.

He'd found a reflective surface in the infirmary and was staring into it, studying the reflection of his face silently from all angles. She couldn't quite tell what he was thinking which wasn't that much of a surprise, but he had to be extremely confused. Or surprised. Or both.

"Colonel?" She asked quietly, not really wanting to interrupt Janet and Hammond's conversation or draw attention to herself. Her father had been recalled to Vorash, taking Aldwyn with him, so at least she didn't have to worry about him.

Thankfully they didn't seem to notice.

He didn't look away from his reflection, in fact he seemed absorbed by it, and when he replied it was in the same tone that she was using. "Do I look younger to you?"


O'Neill finally turned his head, looking at her. he didn't know how to look. "Do I look younger?"

At another time, an open invitation to unashamedly stare at him might have been more than a pleasant thought. Right now though, her only thought was concern. So at his silent request she studied all the features of his face; a face that had become so familiar and so well known over the past four years, and saw...nothing out of the ordinary.

He looked normal.

"I don't see anything different," Sam commented, not sure if she should be relieved or worried. "You're the same you you were before you left. Same eyes..." Realising where this was going, she quickly diverted her thoughts. "Same grey hair, same wrinkles..."

Opening and closing his mouth several times, he gave up and chuckled.

She smiled to herself. Good. Since Janet's announcement he'd been coping as best he could, but even he had been shell-shocked. Who wouldn't be?

Studying his reflection again, he tried to shrug carelessly but she wasn't buying it.

"This is great when you think about," He told her. "I mean, who doesn't want to be younger? People have been searching for the fountain of youth for thousands of years I am. And, as an added bonus, no amnesia to boot."

She decided to humour him. "Definitely an added bonus, sir."

"At least I'm not getting older. That wasn't nice."

True enough. "I'm sure it wasn't. I have to say it wasn't very pleasant just watching it."

"And as it doesn't seem to be affecting my mind - yet - if I do start to look younger at least I'll be young with all the wisdom and intelligence I've picked up along the way." His expression of seriousness lasted for all of three seconds before he started grinning. "You're lucky, Carter."

"I am?" He obviously needed a distraction, and she was glad to be it.

"Sure," He turned back to her again, apparently now trying to ignore his reflection. "You don't need to get old to be wise and intelligent."

"I don't?"

"No. And you know why?"


"Because you're wise and intelligent already."

Sam'd had a sneaking suspicion of what he was going to say, but it still made her insides shift. Why had she agreed to be his distraction again? "Oh, I don't know about that sir."

His hands were resting on his hips. "Well, I *do* know about that. And you are."

Okay. All ego aside...intelligence, maybe. But wisdom? She really didn't think...and was he paying her a compliment? "I don't think I'm all that wise, sir. I still do some pretty stupid things when I really should know better." It was only after the words were out that she realised that was one of the pretty stupid things she really should have known better about. A comment like that would give him ammunition for days...but, if it kept his mind - and hers - off what was happening to him, then she'd endure it.

As predicted, the smug grin appeared. "Oh *really*? Care to share any of these 'pretty stupid things' with me? Or do I have to guess?"

The idea of him guessing anything she'd been up to was extremely worrying. Okay, okay...something...harmless. "The Entity,"

He didn't look pleased at the mention. "The Entity?"

"If I hadn't insisted on trying to communicate with it, if I hadn't been so stubborn, it probably never would have gotten inside me. None of it would have happened."

No, he did *not* look pleased. Again, this was one of the things she should have known better about. At least she knew not to mention it again.

" weren't wrong to try to chat with it. Daniel showed me that. You were just being curious. You were just being you. There's nothing stupid about that."

Unsure why, she suddenly felt the absurd urge to hug him. It was her turn - after the many times of seeing him do it - to shove both hands into her pockets. Something light hearted, she desperately needed something light hearted. Oh! "The bet,"

It was immediately obvious that he knew what she was talking about. "Ah,"

"After I found out that you and Daniel made a bet about me,"

Jack looked supremely uncomfortable. "Yeah?" He cleared his throat.

"I made one about you."

The look of discomfort left quickly. The grin resurfaced. "Me?"




"Which was about...?"

If Hammond could be cryptic and mysterious towards her about something she didn't know anything about, then she could do just the same to Jack. "I can't reveal all my secrets, Colonel."

He didn't look disappointed. In fact, he was acting as if he was looking forward to finding out. "Who won?"

"No one. Yet."

“And that’s where the ‘you should have known better’ comes in, huh? You figure you should have won by now.”

To put it mildly. “Yes.”

“Hmm. So...” He put on an over-exaggerated expression of paranoia. “I have to try and figure out what your big secret is.”

{“You keeping any other big secrets I should know about?”}

{For a few horrifying heart-stopping moments, she was absolutely certain that he knew. He *knew*. And if he did, how many others knew?}

{And then, after those few terrifying seconds had passed, he explained that he was joking, teasing. He didn’t know. He didn’t know anything, and she and Rosha were probably the most relieved they had ever been.}

“Woah, Carter!”

Confused, dizzy, disoriented, Sam’s knees buckled and she began to fall forwards. Jack moved in time, scooping her up before she could object, and by the time he had actually finished scooping she didn’t want to.

“Doc!” Jack yelled as he placed Sam on the nearest bed and moved his arms away, but he didn’t go far.

As Fraiser ordered this, did that, and flashed penlights in eyes, he didn’t move.

It didn’t even occur to Sam that his face was much too close, that his hand had moved and was clutching at hers, that the fact they were staring openly at each in front of everyone probably wasn’t a good idea.

All she could think was: what had Jolinar been afraid of? How could she possibly think that Jack would do anything to hurt her?

“Memory?” He asked quietly as everyone fussed around her.

He’d completely forgotten about his own situation. In the few seconds it took to get her where she was now, he’d completely forgotten that he was growing younger.

But then, hadn’t much the same happened to her? When she’d heard what was happening to him, hadn’t she forgotten about Jolinar?

She nodded.

“You okay?”

“Dizzy,” She told him, still staring. “Just dizzy.”

He still didn’t move.

At least not until the alarms started.

“Unscheduled off-world activation!”

In almost synchronous movements everyone except Sam, Jack and Fraiser headed for the Gate room.

Jack squeezed her hand, obviously intending to leave. “I’ll be right back.”

She grabbed back at his hand, not letting it go until he agreed. “I’m going with you.”


Janet had not been pleased. But after assurances, promises, and “I’ll carry her myself if she starts feeling faint,” she gave in with the stipulation that she went too.

And although he hadn’t actually needed to carry her, Jack thought it was slightly odd that not once during their journey to the Gate room did Sam complain about the very idea of someone carrying her.

By the time he sped into the Gate room - with Fraiser, a feeling much better Carter, and the SF’s who were still making a half-hearted attempt to guard her a few steps behind - the Stargate was already activated.

And then the power cut out.

Everything, except the Stargate and the surrounding area that was lit up by the glow from the wormhole, plunged into darkness.

This was familiar.

The guards in the Gate room - despite the weapons they were pointing at the Stargate as part of the usual security measures - seemed to agree. They looked like they knew what to expect as much as he did.

Glancing back at the control room he saw Hammond, Daniel and Teal’c who had turned up from somewhere, who were also anticipating what was about to happen.

And happen it did.

When the expected traveller stepped through, Jack smiled and repeated the phrase he’d used last time this had happened:

“Well, here’s timing.”


part four

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