Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.
Spoilers for the Movie, 'Tin Man', 'The Serpents Lair', 'Message In A Bottle', 'Family', 'Serpents Song', 'Holiday', 'Into The Fire', 'Seth', 'Fair Game', 'Deadman Switch', 'Point of View', 'Jolinar's Memories', 'The Devil You Know', 'Maternal Instinct', 'Upgrades', 'Tangent', 'Serpents Venom', 'Double Jeopardy' and 'Exodus'. General knowledge of the show.
A story explaining the events between 'Double Jeopardy' and 'Exodus'.
Yes, my computer has been fixed. WOO HOO!
"Are we still so far from real to you?"
Stepping from the wormhole, Jack realised it was the first time in many years that he hadn't enjoyed the journey. The experience, the feel of it on his skin, being hurtled millions of light years from one planet to another still happened...
But he didn't enjoy it, knowing what was waiting for him when he reached Earth.
And there - as expected - stood Harlan.
Hammond was there too, but Jack knew whom he had to focus on. The android studied him anxiously, his fingers doing that steeple thing - half out of habit, Jack supposed - as he looked fervently between Jack and the Stargate.
Reaching the end of the ramp Jack stepped down, stood next to Harlan, and placed a hand on his arm.
This was difficult.
He genuinely believed Harlan didn't understand the implication of what he was saying until he looked back towards the Stargate and the others emerged.
Harlan rushed forward as the Stargate shut down, barely giving anyone the opportunity to step off the ramp, which was quite a feat given that there were at least eight people and three bodies on the ramp.
"Oh no oh no," He wailed, fussing over them, touching every conceivable body part. "No..."
Blinking hard, Jack faced Hammond as Carter and Teal'c stepped off the ramp. "9 to 12 have secured the area, sir."
He felt so damned tired.
They'd defeated a Goa'uld today. They'd killed Cronus. They should have been ecstatic.
"Understood, Colonel. Briefing will be in one hour."
Jack nodded his thanks, understanding that the General was giving him the time he needed. As Hammond left, Jack turned back towards the ramp. Carter and Teal'c were standing next to him.
Most of the SG team members who helped carry the bodies had cleared the area, but Hawkins - determined to do his job - had remained.
Harlan was bent over the O'Neill android - his android, Jack thought with a chill - slapping its face as if he could bring it round.
"Sir," Hawkins told him. "I really need to get these androids out of-"
"Hawkins," O'Neill interrupted. "Go polish your boots or something. That's an order."
Clearly relenting only because Jack was a superior officer, Hawkins snapped to attention and left the gate room.
Jack began to realise that now it was just him, Carter, Teal'c and Harlan. And three bodies.
He suspected Hammond had something to do with it.
Feeling strangely more connected to the 'dead body' than he ever had to the working android, Jack took a step up onto the ramp. "Harlan..."
"Where is Dr Jackson?"
It was the obvious question to ask. His was the only body missing. "I'm sorry. There wasn't..." Enough. There wasn't enough. His body had been destroyed, and not a single one of them could face bringing just his head back. They had found it, at least, and buried it on the planet. "It was too badly damaged."
By now, Harlan definitely understood the implication of that. "I see," Pushing himself up, he faced the human versions of the androids lying at his feet. "I would appreciate it if you would accompany me back to my world, and assist me with their funerals. It is what they would have wanted."
Jack didn't know if androids could cry, but this one looked dangerously close to doing just that.
"Of course," Carter responded, speaking for all of them.
"So you're telling me we actually have a fully functional Goa'uld mothership?" The incredulity was obvious.
Hammond had never looked happier. "Well that's wonderful news! This is just the kind of thing we've been looking for all these years."
"I agree sir," Carter confirmed, resting her forearms on the briefing table and clasping her hands together. "If we can determine exactly how it works we'll be much closer to developing some kind of defence against Goa'uld weaponry. Not to mention the huge leaps in scientific knowledge it could provide us with."
Jack lifted his mind out of its fog. "But not right away, right?"
"No sir," Carter admitted. "Something that complicated could well take decades to understand completely. Even the deathglider we retro fitted took years, and then we still didn't have much of an idea about what actually made it work. Given what happened to you and Teal'c, I'd say we should spend much longer on R & D this time round. While it may not pay off in the short term, it could have significant advantages in the future."
His enthusiasm dampened down somewhat, Hammond nodded. "Very well, Major. I very much doubt the Pentagon will agree, but I'll put across what I can. In the mean time, we should send a message through to the Tok'ra."
Now Jack's head really came back to reality. "Sir?"
The General apparently knew where this was headed. "They're our allies, Colonel. It's in the treaty."
"'Anything pertaining to Goa'uld technology', I know sir. It's just...this is a bad idea. They never tell us the whole story - let them get their own ship! They don't share with us, why should we share with them?"
"I know our history with the Tok'ra hasn't always been easy Colonel, but for the sake of the alliance we have to inform them."
Sighing, Jack shrugged. "Yes sir. But I'd just like to say, on the record...General, this is a bad idea."
Hammond rolled his eyes. "Thank you Jack. I'll make a note of that. On the record." Glancing around the rest of the briefing table, Hammond nodded. "Major, send the message. Dismissed."
O'Neill was all too happy to escape. He may have had issues with the Tok'ra but he really hadn't meant to express them so openly in front of a superior officer. Carter and Teal'c had already filed out and Jack was set to follow, wondering if he should come back and apologise later.
Maybe he should apologise now. "Sir?"
Hammond moved until he was only a few feet away. "Are you okay?"
Hammond smiled, looking as tired as Jack felt. "You seem...morose."
What could he say to that? He *felt* morose. "I'm sorry sir, it's just..." How could he explain this to him? How could he even understand? "I watched myself die today. I guess it's just been on my mind."
"Of course it would be Colonel." The General nodded, as if he understood. "It'll probably be a while until the Tok'ra get here. Why don't you get some rest?"
He didn't of course. He'd nodded and told Hammond he'd do just that, but his legs - instead of taking him to quarters - ended up taking him elsewhere.
Jack hated this place. Not because he wasn't used to dead bodies - no, he'd become annoyingly familiar with those over the years - but because so many people he knew, worked with...his friends. So many people had ended up here.
And there was another question, one of many that had been buzzing around his head. Did they actually deserve to be in the morgue? They weren't human, they weren't biological, but they contained the knowledge and the memories of the people SG-1 had been three years ago.
He still wasn't sure what to think of them as. 'Android' was the word that had been thrown around for a while, but to him that still represented artificiality and though their bodies may have been, their minds were...
His. His. Carter's. Daniel's. Teal'c's.
Theirs, but different. Were they just carbon copies or individuals?
The second sheet he lifted revealed the body he was looking for. He stared at it, studied it, trying to find and count the differences. Hair was the obvious one. Were there less lines on the face? He presumed android faces wouldn't age; that even if they had lived to ten thousand years they wouldn't look any different to the day they'd been made.
Who says you can't live forever?
Snorting at his own bad joke, he rubbed a hand over his face. And it was then - while he was doing that, while he was blinded to the world - that he became aware of another presence in the room. They didn't speak, they didn't move, but he *knew*.
He also knew exactly who it was.
Pulling the hand away, he allowed it to fall until it hung by his side.
"I'm trying to understand," He announced, still staring at the body.
"Understand what?" She asked, her voice becoming louder as she moved closer. Soon she was next to him, not quite touching, but he could feel the heat emanating from her body.
"Were they really *us*?"
"They're gone now. Does it really matter?"
"I feel like it should. They were so life like." He was half expecting a comment on them being amazing technological creations.
Thankfully, none was forthcoming. Something else was.
"She doesn't look real." Her hand reached out, just short of touching her double. "Maybe it's because she's not moving."
He was relieved to discover that he didn't feel awkward, being caught staring at her dead body. Maybe because nothing could be more awkward than the way she found out about his feelings for her. "That's death," He told her. "Dead bodies never look real. Nothing that still ever does."
That was something he'd become aware of more than once, but most vividly with Charlie.
Something was brushing against his hand and he slowly realised it was hers. He hadn't said a word but she immediately knew what he was remembering, and was offering comfort in the only way she could.
It was one of those moments when he wanted to express exactly what he was feeling; exactly what she was making him feel...but as usual, he said nothing.
And the moment passed.
Her hand remained where it was - brushing against his, knuckle against knuckle, wondering - given their history, given who they were in relation to each other - what, if anything, it should do.
Jack's hand knew exactly what to do. It moved around hers until it reached the other side, their fingers meshing together; pulling, straining, flesh turning pale as their hold on each other intensified.
It could be them lying in the morgue at that moment. It could so easily be them.
The hands sprung apart.
It wasn't the Tok'ra as Sam had predicted - in fact she was delighted to discover it was Daniel who was returning with SG 5. Knowing what had happened to the 'other' Daniel - and even knowing rationally that his death would have no bearing on their Daniel's health - she was relieved to discover he was fine, if a little shocked at the news.
Besides, no one could blame her or anyone else for worrying. He'd been killed enough times.
"So you didn't bring 'me' back?" He asked as she walked him to the infirmary for his post mission check-up. The Colonel had already disappeared, and frankly Sam was thankful for the distraction Daniel provided.
"No," She admitted. "From what we could figure out there wasn't much of 'you' left, and we thought it would be easier on Harlan. As it is he's effectively lost everyone he knew."
Understanding, Daniel entered the elevator and reached to unclip his pack as Sam pressed the button for level twenty-one. "Where is he now?"
"General Hammond assigned him quarters for the moment. We'll be returning to PX3 989 later for whatever funeral procedures he has planned. He'd like us to be there."
"Of course." The doors opened and Daniel stepped out, sighing. "Did *anything* good happen on this mission?"
Sam shrugged. "Well...we killed Cronus and now own a Goa'uld mothership."
He stopped just short of entering the infirmary.
After getting no response to either his question or knocking several times, Jack opened the door and peered around the edge of it. Harlan was lying flat on his back, staring at the ceiling, his hands clasped together over his ample stomach.
There was something else that needed answering: why would anyone create an android with an ample stomach? Realism?
Feeling conspicuously like a parent reassuring a child who'd just suffered a bad date, Jack sat gingerly on the edge of the bed. "Harlan?"
He blinked, once, then turned his head to look at him. "Colonel O'Neill."
"What were you doing?"
"Conserving energy. But I must return soon or I will run out completely."
"Don't worry. We'll go back soon."
Nodding, Harlan again looked upset. "I will miss them. I have come to rely on them a great deal."
This was a weird conversation. "Can't you fix them?"
"No," Harlan answered. "Small imperfections such as the damage to Colonel O'Neill's face when Teal'c attacked him I can repair, but this...only Hubbard had the knowledge to repair this amount. Their bodies are...were capable of withstanding high levels of damage, but that combined with lack of energy...it was not a fortunate combination."
Jack resisted his usual response of "Ya think?" and also resisted a comment about Hubbard not sharing his knowledge with anyone. Probably one of those ego types who wanted all the glory for himself. "What about making new androids?"
"For that I would require your co-operation. The only way to do that would be to again make copies of you."
"Oh." He wasn't sure he liked that idea.
"I understand it is not a concept you are fond of."
Automatic responses kicked in. "Now I didn't say that."
"No, you did not. But he did."
Pausing, Jack glanced away. "I guess you got to know me...him quite well over the last three years."
"Very much so! He was not fond of me to begin with, but he soon changed his mind."
Jack shrugged. "Sure. You being so loveable and all."
Harlan grinned, probably missing the sarcasm.
O'Neill glanced towards the door, mostly out of habit. "This place is like Union Station today." Slapping his hands on his thighs, he stood up. "You'll be okay for a while? Won't be much longer, promise."
"I will be fine. Comtrya!"
Arriving in the gate room just as Jacob appeared through the Stargate, Jack grinned. Finally, at least something about this day had gone well. Jacob was about the only Tok'ra he could stand.
"Sammie," Jacob welcomed his daughter, stepping off the ramp with his arms raised ready for a hug.
She stepped into his embrace willingly, perhaps a little more eagerly that she usually did.
Jacob certainly noticed, raising his eyebrows.
As Carter pulled away, Jacob greeted everyone else before getting down to business. "What did you need us for?"
Jack looked at Carter.
"Wow. You guys have been busy."
"Aren't we always?"
Everyone rolled their eyes at Jack's comment.
Jacob simply continued. "How many System Lords is that for you now?"
Jack was stunned to discover he had never actually counted. Using the fingers on his left hand, he started ticking them off. Ra, Apophis (but that didn't really count), Apophis (but that didn't really count), Hathor, Seth, Apophis (but that didn't really count), Sokar, Heru'rur, Cronus...
"Technically, six," Carter announced. "Although Heru'rur was more Apophis' work than ours."
Jack sighed. "Don't remind me."
"The point is," Jacob interrupted. "That's..."
"Impressive? Terrific? Fantastic?"
What did *that* mean? He almost thought that Jacob wasn't glad another snakehead was dead. Of course, Jacob was a snakehead himself, albeit of a different kind. "Ah."
"In any case, the fact that you managed to capture a Goa'uld mothership is impressive in itself. What do you intend to do with it?"
Glances were shared throughout the briefing room. "Study it. Fly it."
"But you have no idea of how to make it work or what makes it work, right?"
"Well, Teal'c knows a little, don't you Teal'c?"
"A 'little' is the correct term, O'Neill."
Daniel spoke up. "What we know from their past behaviour proves that the System Lords don't want anyone to understand how their 'magic' works. I seriously doubt Teal'c would be able to provide us with anything other than base knowledge..." He flicked a glance towards the Jaffa. "No offence, Teal'c."
"I have taken none."
Carter nodded. "I agree with Daniel, sir. As I said earlier, we seriously need to know more about how it works before we just go stampeding through the universe with it."
"'Stampeding through the universe'? A touch melodramatic, Carter?"
"Not if I turn out to be right, sir."
And that was the clincher. She always was.
Hammond intervened. "Thank you for your views on this matter, and I absolutely believe that caution is necessary. Alien technology has a nasty habit of biting us in the-"
Completely missing the reference, Hammond frowned.
Jacob nodded. "I'll report back to Garshaw; see what she and the council suggests. Something like this could come in very handy."
Jack didn't hold back this time. "Ya think?"
No one smiled. Least of all Carter.
"Very well, Jacob. We'll look forward to hearing back from you soon. Dismissed."
Hammond signalled for Jack to stay behind so he did, resting a hand against the table until everyone was gone.
"Colonel, while we have some time, I suggest you take your 'robots' back to PX3 989, before someone from the Pentagon arrives. They were annoyed enough last time when we allowed them to return to the planet. Even if they are 'dead' now, they still want to get a look at them."
A quiet burst of rage exploded in Jack's stomach. "Yes sir."
"What was that?" Sam asked, catching up with her father as he used the stairs that led down to the control room.
"What was what?"
"'The point is that's interesting'?" She quoted. "You couldn't have sounded less enthusiastic if you tried."
"I'm sorry Sam," He attempted a smile, pausing at the bottom of the stairs. "It's just that you guys don't have too good a track record when it comes to alien technology. The death glider, those arm bands...that thing that nailed Jack to the wall."
She couldn't help it - she winced. "Okay, so you may have a point."
"This is bigger than all of those put together." He placed a hand on her arm. "I just worry about you. You *are* my daughter."
Smiling, feeling better than she had since she'd returned from the planet, she mimicked his movement. "I know."
He shrugged. "Besides, killing a Goa'uld may be a good thing, but it's not always the right thing to do in terms of politics. Anyway, what's up with you?"
"You've been depressed since the moment I got here. Probably before, too."
"Oh...it's a long story."
"Did I mention I'm going to live for a very long time now?"
Grinning, she shook her head, looked around her father, and spoke to Sergeant Davis. "Dial up Vorash please, Sergeant."
Jacob stayed exactly where he was, waiting for an answer.
"Come on," She told him, and they walked down the steps into the corridor that led to the gate room together. "So, those robot copies of us that helped defeat Cronus..."
Jack frowned at Daniel's question, not looking up as his tied his laces. "Sure. Why'd you ask?" Why did everyone keep asking that?
"Not sure," Daniel shrugged his shirt on, obscuring his face for a few seconds. "Guess you just seem a bit down."
"I concur," Teal'c agreed, pulling his jacket on, standing next to his locker space. "You seem most depressed."
"Look, four people who look like us died today. It's keeping me preoccupied, okay?"
"Okay," Daniel held his hands up in mock surrender, before pointing at the doorway. "I'll be right back."
He left then - no doubt to use the facilities - leaving just Jack and Teal'c behind.
Jack finished preparing in silence. This wasn't an 'official' mission but it paid to be careful. God only knew what kind of nasty things fate had planned for them in what should be a nice, simple journey.
Shrugging on his jacket, Jack found himself facing his friend who was now doing that statue impression thing. "Teal'c..."
"You've seen yourself die twice now, right?"
"How do you deal with it?"
"There is nothing to be dealt with. Those others were not me."
"All right," Jack interrupted, waving his hands about. "I know that - technically - they weren't you. One was from an alternate universe, the other was a robot...but they looked like you. That robot was exactly the same person you were three years ago...and it doesn't bother you at all?"
A head tilt. "It does not."
"Huh," O'Neill nodded, but he really didn't understand. "I guess you feel the same way about seeing our dead bodies."
"They were not your dead bodies. You are quite alive."
"Did it bother you, seeing us as dead bodies?"
Almost a stupid question. "Well, yeah. You *are* my friends. Robots or not, they sure acted a lot like us."
That seemed to intrigue him. "You appear to have revised your opinion of the 'robots'."
Their attention was drawn to the doorway.
"Carter. Your dad get away okay?"
"Yes sir. General Hammond told me it was time for our 'mission'."
"Good. Teal'c and I are done; we'll meet you in the gate room as soon as you're ready." Glancing towards the bathroom, he shrugged. "Daniel's taking a leak - apparently the longest one in history, so be warned."
"Thank you sir."
Feeling awkward, Jack nodded and left.
After collecting Harlan, Jack and Teal'c arrived in the gate room. At Jack's earlier request the bodies had been brought to the same room, and were resting on trolleys - thankfully covered in sheets. Despite his study of them earlier, staring at his own dead body - not to mention hers - was quite disconcerting.
Carter and Daniel arrived shortly after, and about a minute after that chevron seven engaged. The Stargate activated, the wormhole appeared, and Jack didn't feel like enjoying the view.
Hammond didn't even wish them luck.
Silently they each grabbed the trolley that carried the body of their double, and one by one they pulled the trolleys up onto the ramp and through the Stargate.
Daniel and Harlan were left to last, sombrely following their friends through.
"It's not quite what I had in mind," the Colonel announced.
Sam had to agree. Watching her own body disintegrate was not a typical funeral experience, but Harlan insisted it was the way it was always done when an androids body became too severely damaged to repair.
After they'd arrived he'd taken them to the room the androids were created in. There he'd done something to each of their heads - exactly what process he was carrying out he refused to say - and then he'd placed the O'Neill android in the machine that apparently both created and disintegrated them.
It didn't take much time for him to disintegrate. She didn't know if it was due to his injuries - damage? - or if it was always that quick. Probably was quite a fast process. It didn't seem to take Harlan very long to make their robots when they first came to PX3 989...
She knew she was over analysing. She knew she wasn't looking at his face as it disappeared before her very eyes. It was surprisingly easy not to watch. Sam had half expected it to be a like a road traffic accident when you just couldn't help but watch in horrified fascination at whatever atrocity had occurred.
This was different.
Her double went next. This one she could watch because she was so vividly aware that it wasn't *her*. She was here; living, breathing, thinking. Aware. It was certainly disturbing, but she was here, watching someone who used to exist like her melt away.
And then Teal'c. He had no problem with this, which was no big surprise. He was a man who was very certain of who and what he was since betraying Apophis. It was as if that one act had fortified his idea of individuality; that although the various other Teal'c's he'd encountered may have looked like him they *weren't* him. He was his own person.
Was it just a Jaffa thing, or a Teal'c thing?
When it was over, Daniel asked to see where his double had lived. No doubt - despite the strange and somewhat sickening circumstances - he was feeling left out. Maybe he couldn't get the sense of closure he needed.
Teal'c accompanied him, leaving Sam and O'Neill behind.
The strange silence was broken when he cleared his throat. "Teal'c's certainly taken all this in his stride."
Had he known that was just what she had been thinking about? "I think that more than anything else...he's just happy that Cronus is dead."
"I can understand that," He nodded, leaning against of the edge of the 'disintegrating machine', then quickly reconsidering and moving away.
Harlan reappeared, seeming more ebullient than he had since he'd arrived on Earth to tell them that their doubles were missing. "I believe Dr Jackson wishes to spend some time familiarising himself with where his android had been living."
"Actually," Sam took a step towards him. "Do you mind if I do the same?"
It wasn't a room, exactly. Jack wasn't sure what to call it.
He did know what it reminded him of though, and he was being very careful not to think about it.
Personally, he had no interest in seeing where his android had lived, so he'd followed Carter as Harlan led the way.
It wasn't far from the Stargate, and it wasn't much to look at. Oh, it was definitely clear that an effort had been made; basic construction to provide some modicum of privacy, a few personal touches, but if it wasn't for those...
Or the bed. The big bed.
It would look like any other part of the plant.
Carter picked up one of those 'personal touches', examining it silently.
"I have what may seem like a stupid question," Jack stated, turning away from Carter and towards Harlan.
"Do androids need beds?"
Smiling, Harlan pressed his palms together and twiddled his fingers about. "We do not require sleep in the same way you do, but we can conserve energy - as I was earlier. When we are conserving energy we enjoy comfort as much as you." Pausing, almost nervous, he shrugged. "Although it must be said that I believe they did it more out of habit than anything else."
"Yes. All of them. Except for Teal'c. He was different. He attempted to meditate, although he told me it was not the same without his symbiote."
"Oh," Vividly remembering what it was like meditating with Teal'c's symbiote, he tried to forget the experience. Secretly studying Carter, he meandered around the 'room'. "Big bed though," He commented absently.
"Well," Harlan declared. "It was for the two of them."
Jack almost suffered a severe case of whiplash. "Excuse me?"
"It was for the two of them," He repeated.
O'Neill was about to ask whom - even though he suspected the answer - when Carter spoke up.
"They were lovers."
Oh yeah. This definitely reminded him of that place he didn't think about.
No one actually said it. No one actually said who were lovers, and though he knew perfectly well whom she was referring to, he could claim ignorance should Hammond ever ask.
Not that he would.
Don't ask, don't tell.
Not exactly this situation, but appropriate enough.
He didn't need to ask for proof, either. Before he said anything, she moved closer and held out one of those personal items. A photograph or something similar created using Harlan's technology.
It was the four of them. SG-1 as they had been, as they always should have been if they hadn't gone to that damn planet. Daniel was smiling, Teal'c even looked pleased about something...and as for him and Carter...
It was nothing obvious. Nothing overt. They weren't sucking face or making eyes at each other, but...
There was something. A possessive in the way his arm wrapped around her body. A familiarity in the way she leant against him, her head on his chest.
They really were. They really had been.
"It was quite recent," Harlan told him. "In our terms, anyway. It began one of your years ago, I believe." Leaning forward as if sharing some great secret, he grinned. "They were not very subtle. And quite loud, I must say!"
He wasn't getting aroused just thinking about it. He wasn't.
Acutely aware that Carter was practically leaning over his shoulder so they could both look at the photo, he quickly handed it to her and stepped away.
Needing the space. Desperately needing it.
"Would you like to know?" The android asked as Jack rubbed a hand over his own hair.
"What it was like?"
He was not looking at Carter. He was *not*. "Thanks for the suggestion Harlan, really, but there's this awkward little problem-"
"I am aware. They told me. Please," He lifted an arm from his side. "Take my hand."
What was he doing? Why was he moving towards Harlan's hand, and why was Carter moving towards the other one? Why was he suddenly curious? Why was he reaching out-
He was on the floor, having landed squarely on his butt, and having no idea how he got there.
"What the hell was that?!"
Harlan was gone - at what point had he left? - and as Jack slowly became aware of his surroundings, he felt the sensation of something resting in his right hand. Stretching out his fingers he opened his hand and saw it resting in his palm.
The thing Harlan had taken out of his androids head.
Had that caused that?
As if the thing were burning him he suddenly let it go, watching it fall the few inches to the floor.
Carter was to his right, sprawled on the floor facing away from him.
She wasn't moving.
"Sam?" Woah, where had that come from? He tried again. "Carter?"
Reaching out he felt for her pulse and-
This wasn't good. He had to make sure she was okay, but he didn't want that to happen again. Deciding on the only course of action, he started shoving her with his booted foot.
"Go 'way Jack," She mumbled sleepily. "We have another two hours until-" She sat bolt upright, suddenly wide-eyed. "Sir!"
He almost missed his name. "Carter. How you feeling?"
She was still wide-eyed. "Extremely...confused, sir."
"Likewise. I take it you...uh..."
"Yes. I take it you remember things that aren't from your own memory, too?"
"Yes sir," Shaking her head, she looked down at her open hand. In her palm rested a device exactly the same as the one he'd been holding. "These devices that Harlan gave us...they're what he took out of their heads! I guess for all intents and purposes they're their memory centres."
Well. Well. "That's interesting." He really should get out of this 'room'. With every moment that passed he remembered another encounter in here. "We should get out of here."
Apparently she knew why. "Sir, that won't do any good."
"Wh-ohhhh." And then he remembered. Nowhere in the plant was safe. Every part of it held a memory. Seemed their doubles had been quite voracious in their appetite for each other. "Well. This is awkward."
Jack wasn't sure how long they sat there on the floor; looking at each other, not looking at each other, and he wasn't sure quite what to do, either.
He did however, know what to think.
She voiced the same sentiment. "At least we know, now."
A very good point indeed. And a good place to escape to. "But how realistic was it, Carter?"
"They were 'robots'. They were 'better'. Judging from what I remember, compared to them we'd be a huge disappointment."
She didn't chuckle as he expected. She didn't grin and shake her head. Instead, she smiled seductively, lifted her eyebrows, and said; "Speak for yourself."
Had she actually said that? Had she actually just said that?
Carter continued speaking immediately. "Uh...sorry. That was still her."
Jack wasn't sure if he believed her. "What are you thinking?"
It was a rare moment of honesty between them.
"I'm thinking...of their decision to stick to military protocol when they went off world. No fooling around, even if Daniel and Teal'c weren't there."
Military protocol. Crap. "As I recall they broke that rule a few times."
The grin appeared. "I know." The grin vanished; her face, her amazing eyes became contemplative. "They were us," She murmured. "They were us exactly."
"No," He argued. "They became different people the moment they were created. Undeniably similar, but not us. They've lived different lives for the past three years doing things we only have memories of - that's why we can't let Harlan make copies of us now. We wouldn't be the same people he's been living with all this time." Figured. It was only after he received these spectacularly distracting new memories that he was finally able to realise that. "I guess Teal'c was right after all."
He met her gaze. "Nothing needs to be dealt with."
"Nothing?" She queried sceptically.
Grinning, he looked away. "Not in regards to them, or what they experienced. They're not *us*, Carter. We are."
After an uncomfortable thirty seconds, he finally cracked and asked why she was staring at him.
"It's just...I don't think I've ever heard you speak so much. Or so eloquently."
Feeling embarrassed, egotistical and insulted all at once, he shrugged it off. "Yeah, well. I've been taking lessons from Daniel."
Speak of the devil...
"Guys, there you are!"
Jack made at least half an effort to smile at him. "Here we are, Daniel. Did you...do what you needed to do?"
The archaeologist frowned. "I think so. Yeah."
"So...why are you guys on the floor?"
"I should be pissed at you."
Harlan grinned. "But you are not. You understand."
Jack nodded, finally doing just that. "I'm better."
Smirking, Jack took a last brief look around the plant until he and his team ended up standing by the Stargate.
"You'll be okay?"
"I will by 'okay', yes. But you will...come and visit me?"
"We will," Daniel assured him.
"Oh, thank you! Comtrya!"
Jack nodded. "Comtrya."
Carter dialled up, and Jack and Daniel turned towards the Stargate.
"This is going to be weird," Daniel told him.
Jack had told him about having access to his androids memories, and Daniel was hoping to do the same. As his head had at least been intact, Carter and Harlan - they'd finally explained the fate of the Daniel android, after all - thought it was a likely possibility.
Teal'c, of course, had declined to experience his robots memories.
"Digging up your own head?" Jack queried. "Can't imagine why."
Waiting as Carter said a thank you to Harlan, Jack sighed. Things between them hadn't changed exactly. Just shifted, subtly.
That was the only way they could change at the moment.
And although he knew the things he remembered doing to her weren't actually things he had done to her...it sure as hell felt like it.
As the Stargate shut down, the immediate area plunged into darkness. A solitary form sat on the steps leading to the Stargate and interlaced his fingers together.
Silently, he began to weep.
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