Losing Ground
by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.

'The Movie', 'Children of The Gods', 'The Enemy Within', 'The Broca Divide', 'The First Commandment', 'Cold Lazarus', 'Tin Man', 'There But For The Grace of God', 'Within The Serpents Grasp/The Serpents Lair', 'In The Line of Duty', 'Secrets', 'The Tok'ra, Part 2', 'One False Step', 'Out of Mind', 'Seth', 'Learning Curve', 'Point of View', 'Deadman Switch','Forever In A Day', 'Urgo', 'Pretence', 'Jolinar's Memories', 'A Hundred Days', 'Nemesis', 'Upgrades', 'Divide and Conquer', 'Window of Opportunity', 'The First Ones', 'Beneath The Surface', 'Chain Reaction', 'Entity', 'Rite of Passage', 'Proving Ground', 'The Warrior', 'Meridian' and 'Revelations'.

General knowledge of the show and development of the characters, but if you've seen all those episodes I'd presume you'd have that knowledge...

Set after the fifth season but before the sixth starts.


It was the type of thing that always happened to Daniel.

And it always started out innocently enough, yet something absolutely normal to them, something that couldn’t even be considered inflammatory, would inevitably anger the resident natives and Jack and his team would end up being chased all the way back to the gate by pissed off people with pointy sticks.

Daniel wasn’t around anymore, so Jack had – rather naively, admittedly – assumed that it wouldn’t be happening anymore.

It was Carter’s camera that had done it.

What remained of SG-1 had stepped through the gate on P5X 628 a little over twelve hours ago. The UAV had shown lots of green stuff – lots and lots – but then it had suddenly stopped communicating. There was no evidence that it had been hit by any kind of weapons fire, so Hammond had assigned his flagship team the oh-so-important task of retrieving the apparently malfunctioning UAV.

After a mostly silent twelve-hour hike through the forest/jungle/green stuff, they reached the last known coordinates of the UAV.

There was no UAV in sight. But there was technology. And people.

They seemed friendly enough at first. Communication was a problem; they didn’t speak English, Goa’uld or any other language that SG-1 were familiar with, but they managed some rudimentary knowledge with miming.

And then Carter’s itchy recording finger had got the better of her. Theorising that the EM fields generated by all that technology may have been responsible for the UAV blacking out, she wondered if it would have the same effect on the camera – and if not, she wanted to record some of that technology in case she never got a chance to get her hands on it.

Intrigued by whatever it was that she was doing, a couple of the natives – all of them dressed in green, interestingly enough – clustered around her to get a closer look.

And then all hell had broken loose.

One of them had started shouting. Then another one. The tallest one yanked the camera out of her hand. As Jack stomped towards them, yelling, all he could figure was that SG-1’s technology had offended them somehow.

Then the tall one had produced a weapon. Jack had no idea what kind of weapon it was – stun gun, instant grill, or charbroil – but whatever it was it couldn’t be good.

With a swift quick from Carter and a punch from Teal’c they tore back into the forest, leaving the UAV and the camera behind.

Jack could hear the natives following immediately – they weren’t exactly light on their feet. Despite their outfits that would blend in nicely with the surroundings, they obviously weren’t trained trackers or hunters. No doubt they had determination, but the fact that it hadn’t been mixed with proper training could lean to SG-1’s advantage.

Seeing Teal’c just in front and Carter just behind, he trusted that both had their earpieces in. Rather than shout and more obviously give their position away he spoke into his radio as he continued pounding through the forest. Giving instructions, he tried to remember what he’d seen of the terrain so far. There was no way they could keep this up for twelve hours.

“Left,” He ordered. It would take them away from the gate, but hopefully it would also make their pursuers think they were heading in a different direction.

Something came zooming past his right ear. Knowingly instinctively that it was weapons fire he ducked to the left just as another one came zooming past. This time he saw it. Green. Laser. Still no idea what effect it would have if it actually hit him.

Running past an appropriately large tree, Teal’c waited until his friends were in front of him before turning and blasting the trunk with his staff weapon. He didn’t wait any longer to see what effect it had, but a few seconds later they all heard a satisfying ‘thump’, followed by the squawking of birds.

Hoping that had been enough to distract or disorientate their attackers, Jack spotted the perfect place; a large dip in the ground, just behind a tree. If they could lay flat enough...

It was the only choice they currently had.


They followed, squashing as close together as possible amongst the exposed roots. Some kind of erosion had been at work here at some point, and the dip was just concave enough towards the direction they’d come from that they might be able to pull this-

Footsteps pounded a few feet above their heads.

Knowing it was stupid he held his breath anyway, the fact that he wanted to pant from his exertions not helping at all. Carter was pushed up against his left side, and Teal’c against hers.

All three froze until the footsteps grew quieter and farther away. After two minutes had passed with no sound of any unnatural movement, Jack pulled his mini scope out, pushed himself up, carefully sticking his head up over the edge of the hole.



Sitting down, he pushed his back into the dip again and faced the rest of his team.

“Everyone alright?”

“Yes sir,” She whispered.

“I am fine.”

Shoving the mini scope back into one of the pockets in his left pant leg, he glanced at Carter. “Guess they didn’t like the camera, huh? Bad warrantee, maybe?”

She didn’t acknowledge the joke. “Sir, I’ve been thinking.”

There was a shocker. “Yeah?”

“On our way through this forest-”

“This large ass forest.”

“On our way through this...very big forest, I saw no paths, no well travelled areas.”

Jack nodded. He’d noticed the lack of those himself. “Which means they probably don’t even know about the Stargate. They didn’t seem to know what the hell we were talking about when we tried to describe where we’d come from.”

“Exactly. And despite the fact that they certainly have some level of technology, and even if some of them had come across the Stargate at some point, it’s clear they have no idea what its purpose is or how to use it.”

Teal’c interrupted. “Then they will not be aware of where we are headed. O’Neill’s decision to feign direction could indeed prove to be to our advantage.”

“Teal’c, I’m touched.”

That eyebrow lifted.

Making sure his cap was on securely, Jack moved up and rested his weapon on the edge of their hiding place. Still seeing no one in sight, he started climbing. “Okay. Let’s move out before they decide we didn’t go that way and double back.”

Once sure they were up with weapons pointed, they headed in the right direction. It would take them to the Stargate, on that memorable roller coaster ride, and back to the SGC where Hammond would be frowning as they reappeared.

As he always did.

Glad to see a familiar landmark – it paid to notice them in large forests – he headed towards it. They’d moved only about fifty yards when someone yelled.

It wasn’t a member of his team.

Whirling to his right he saw one of the natives with his weapon pointed at them, maybe twenty feet away.

Stupid! He could have been hiding all along, or had deliberately lagged behind, or he could have just been some Joe who decided to risk coming in by himself.

But he was armed, and he was aiming...

...at Carter. He was aiming at Carter.

Weapons were drawn by everyone. Not sure how effective explaining yourself when you’re pointing an armed weapon would be – and the lack of a common language was a definite disadvantage – Jack tried anyway.

“We don’t want any trouble.”

Carter joined in, keeping her voice calm and steady. “We just want to go home.”

That drew the bad guys eyes back to her. He was nervous, twitchy. His eyes quickly moving from one face to another, his fingers always moving, always undecided.


The weapon settled firmly back on Carter.

Jack clutched his P-90 even closer. “If you shoot her, I will blow your head off.”

He didn’t understand. He was scared, but he didn’t understand.

This Jack had seen before. This he recognised. Talking wasn’t going to help.


The man fired.

A second later, so did Jack.

And then he was moving.

Carter was down. Carter was down. They had no idea what that weapon did, and Carter was down.

He reached her in seconds, falling to his knees as he reached for a pulse.

Not Carter. Not so soon after Daniel.



It was there! It was steady, and it was strong.

A dozen swear words of relief spun through his mind. Okay, for all he knew it could have done some other kind of damage, but there was nothing immediately threatening and they had to keep moving. He’d have rather done the honours himself, but...

He only just noticed his friend leaning over them. “Teal’c, I’ve got a pulse. Looks like she’ll be out for a while, but we have to keep going.”

The Jaffa nodded. “I will carry her.”

“Thanks.” Just what he’d been hoping for. “Give me your staff weapon.”

Complying, Teal’c handed the ‘weapon of fear’ over, then gently bent down and easily picked Carter up. Adjusting his hold until she was as comfortable as she could be in that position, not caring for his own comfort at all, he nodded to O’Neill. “I am ready to continue.”

“Great. Let’s go.”


Defence and observation was pretty much all Jack’s responsibility now. With Carter out of commission and Teal’c occupied with carrying her and not tripping over anything, it was up to him to make sure nothing happened to any of them.

No pressure.

Trying to protect Carter and Teal’c from all sides wasn’t an easy job, but the fact that Teal’c never let himself falter helped. Jack just kept circling, never stopping, never pausing unless he heard something suspicious.

That only happened twice, probably because he was being paranoid.

After the first hour he was starting to get worried about Carter. Okay, so after the first thirty minutes he was starting to get worried about Carter.

Alright, alright. From the moment she’d been hit he’d been worried about her. But with each minute that passed he was getting more and more concerned.

She hadn’t woken up yet. Why hadn’t she woken up yet? She should have been awake by now. She should have been awake and explaining something to him in terms that made his eyes cross and his brain dribble out of his ears.

No, she was fine. Her pulse was still steady; there was no signs of internal damage that either of them could detect and-

“O’Neill. I believe Major Carter is stirring.”


Doing a quick sweep of their immediate area, he became satisfied with their present safety and pointed to the ground. “Down.” Just in case Carter freaked out when she woke up, he didn’t want to risk the chance of her falling and hurting herself.

Understanding the intent, Teal’c carefully lowered his passenger to the ground and moved out of the way.

Shoving a log out of the way, O’Neill knelt next to her. Her eyelids were fluttering and she made an “Ugh” noise.

He couldn’t help it. He grinned. “Seen better days, Carter?”

Snapping open her eyes, she instantly moved to sit up only to grab her head as it protested. “Ow...”

“Easy, take it easy.” Jack helped her lay back down. “You were hit.”

The eyes snapped open again as she looked at her own body. “Where?”

“Well...uh, kinda everywhere, I guess.” Weird question. “How you feeling?”

Frowning, she stared at him, and finally seemed to become coherent of her surroundings. “Headache.” She looked him up and down, then did the same to Teal’c, her eyes widening even more. Turning her head to look at Jack again, she spoke. “*Sir*?”

What was wrong with her? “*Carter*?”

Again with the multitude of looks, before once again settling on her commanding officer with that perpetual frown.

“Who are you guys?”

Uh oh.


"O'Neill. Jack O'Neill. Of the Colonel variety."

Those huge blue eyes were even bigger than normal as she continued to look from Jack to Teal'c and then back again. "I'm sorry...I've never seen you before. Do I know you?"

Oh, crap. *Crap*.

Okay. Discover the situation, assess it, then move on. They didn't have much time to hang around. All evidence so far pointed to some kind of amnesia - not exactly something they were unfamiliar with. "Do you know who you are?"

As if it were a stupid question, she rolled her eyes. "Captain Samantha Carter." Then, as an afterthought, "Sir."

Captain? "And what's the last thing you remember?"

The question seemed to trouble her, and she was clearly struggling to recall what she could. "I was...working on something."


"Yes, I..." Her face lit up. "I was about to start on a new project, working with-" Suddenly stopping, she glared at him and Teal'c suspiciously. "Deep space radar telemetry."

Somewhat relieved, Jack lowered his head and grinned. "It's alright, Carter. I'm Colonel Jack O'Neill; I'm your CO, and you're my 2IC. This is Teal'c," He nodded towards the Jaffa, who nodded at her. "He's a part of our team, which is called SG-1. We go through the Stargate and explore other worlds-"

"The Stargate goes to other places?" This was the only concept she seemed to be having problems with.


"But...we tried for months; we could only get it to go to-"

"Abydos, I know. Something to do with uh..." Ah ha! "...planetary shift. Daniel could explain it better, but he's not here."

Lowering her gaze, looking straight ahead, her eyes moved rapidly from one side to the other as her mind worked. "Of course! If the builders of the Stargate are that technologically advanced - and they must be to have built the Stargate in the first place - then they'd naturally have some kind of method to correct for planetary shift. We must have discovered that method and-"

"Carter!" God, he'd forgotten how easily excited she was when they first met. Not that she wasn't still now, but it was just...less irritating.

Those big blues were staring at him again. "Colonel?" How did she accept this so readily?

"It's very nice that you're so pleased - really - but we're kind of in a situation here. We're on another planet."

"Really?" She looked around as if she could immediately see something that would scream 'alien'.

Geez... "Yes. We're under attack and trying to make it back to the gate. You were hit, some kind of laser weapon. I'm assuming that's what's responsible for wiping the last five years from your memory."

Now she stopped co-operating completely. "Five years? We've been doing this for *five years* and I don't remember any of it?"

Teal'c nodded. "That is correct Major Carter."

"Major? Now I'm supposed to be a Major? This is insane!"

Delayed shock. Had to be. "Carter-"

"No." Stubborn now. "How do I even know you're this 'Colonel Jack O'Neill' you claim to be? For all I know you could be one of those aliens who's supposed to be chasing us. And what's with him and that gold thing on his forehead?"

"It is a symbol of slavery and oppress-"

"Teal'c, as great a story as that is, I really don't think we need to make things more complicated than they are." Turning back to Carter, he continued talking. "Look, we've known each other for five years. We're friends, colleagues." Not to mention something vastly more complicated and unidentifiable. But how to prove this to her? Oh! "Your Dad's name is Jacob. He's a General in the Air Force. He and your brother - Mark - haven't got on since your Mom died, although I'm glad to say that's not true anymore."

Her eyes were practically on stalks by now. "How-"

"You love blue jello. You were engaged to Jonas Hanson before you realised what an egomaniac with a God complex he was and gave the ring back. You don't like admitting that you talk to your plants. The location of your mole is a secret even greater than that of the Stargate project. You-"

She was blushing bright red by now. "Okay, okay! I believe you."

"Good." He was so very tempted to look pleased with himself. "We have to keep moving; we've got a lot of ground to cover. You'll have time to be shocked on the way."

It was starting to look as if her eyes were constantly stapled wide open. "Alright. I..." Shaking her head, she began to push herself up.

Jack offered a hand. "Here."

"I'm fine," She responded a little sharper than was suitable, insisting on doing it herself. "I don't need any help." Given the circumstances Jack decided not to comment, instead waiting until she was up and stopped looking dizzy.

Blinking, she stared at Teal'c and the weapon he had just picked up. "What is that?"

"A staff weapon," He responded.

"A what?"

"Staff weapon," Jack answered, checking the status of his own P-90. "He points it at someone, it explodes and there's lots of blood. Can we go?"

"Yes sir, I...sorry."

Still concerned about her but knowing they couldn't risk waiting any longer for some time yet, he turned and headed in the right direction. "Don't worry about it. We've still got about eleven hours of walking to go, without breaks. Try and keep your eyes open, but Teal'c and I will go either side just in case."

"There's no need, Colonel. I can take care of myself." There was that tone again.

Stopping abruptly, he swung round to face her. She almost bumped into him. "Carter, I'm not saying for a single second that you're not capable. I know for a fact that you fully deserve the rank of Major and that you're the best 2IC I've ever had. However, I also know that you're suffering from amnesia, and that you're dizzy - even though you'd never admit it yourself."


"I am telling you exactly what I would tell any other member of my team. I don't make concessions for anyone, okay?"

Chagrined, she glanced towards Teal'c. "There's only one other member of your team."



They'd covered a good six hours worth of forest when Teal'c left his post briefly to speak to him. Daytime here seemed to last a lot longer than on Earth, as it was only now starting to get dim.



"We have been moving almost constantly for over eighteen hours. You require rest."

His knees weren't about to argue with that. "We can rest when we reach the gate and go home. Being a little tired isn't going to kill me."

"A lack of rest greatly reduces your accuracy."

Jack was fully prepared to argue this one. "Teal'c..."

"And what of Major Carter? She is still recovering from her injury."

Ouch. That was a low blow and Teal'c knew it. Pausing, Jack held up his right hand and pointed his index finger at Teal'c's nose. "*That*...was..."


Sighing, Jack lowered his hand. "Will you at least do me the honour of not looking so damned pleased with yourself?" Quickly changing topics, he indicated for Carter to stand down.

There'd been no sign of the natives since Carter had been shot. Not a sound. Not even a twig breaking. And Teal'c *was* right. Carter was still recovering and Jack was feeling the effects of eighteen hours of walking.

It went without saying that they wouldn't be having a fire, and as the temperature was starting to drop, two people would always be sharing blankets and body heat. Purely for practical reasons it was just going to be him and Teal'c taking turns at nightshift, and hope that a good nights sleep for Carter would put her back in top form.

It was when she'd disappeared to use whatever 'facilities' she could find that Jack flopped onto a fallen log and ripped into a ration bar. They couldn't even have cooked MRE's, for crying out loud...which might have been a good thing, tasteless as they were.

Sighing, he bit into his food. He still couldn't believe this. Five years just...gone. He had to admit he was impressed with how well she was coping. She was still doing her part when she had no clue who he and Teal’c really were; he wasn’t sure how he’d cope if the situation were reversed. But what if her memories never came back? They should never have come on this damned mission in the-

"O'Neill, are you alright?"

Teal'c had sat next to him, on the log. He could barely see his face now. "Fine," Chew, chew. "Teal'c. Never better."

"You appear pensive."

Pensive? Him? "I'm not pensive. I'm annoyed. Why did we - SG-1 - the flagship team of the SGC, get sent on such an important mission? To retrieve a UAV?"

"We cannot choose which missions to accept and which not to accept. We have our duties."

Duty. Pah. "You know why Hammond sent us on this mission, don't you?"

He nodded, slowly. "The loss of Daniel Jackson."

"Exactly. Everyone is thinking it, but nobody says it. Every team's on edge after they lose someone." Whether they were actually dead or not. "And that's exactly what Hammond thought. 'Give them something easy. Give them something where they can ease back into the job and realise they aren't all going to die just because he did'."

Jack could have objected. He could have spoken up. Could have told Hammond that his team didn't need to do that, his team were ready for anything. Except for him.

This was supposed to be a cakewalk. Nothing was supposed to happen. There wasn't supposed to be anyone here. Carter wasn't supposed to get hurt. And she wouldn't have, if he'd spoken up.

It was getting seriously dark now. "Do me a favour and make sure Carter's not lost, will ya?"


She kept fidgeting. Sighing, Jack turned his head to the left and was greeted by the sight of her neck. "Carter?"

She froze. "Sir?"

"You alright?"


Uh huh. "Then why aren't you asleep?"

"I'm thinking, sir."

She really hadn't changed that much had she? "Care to share?"

"Not particularly."

Hmm. Okay, so he could have been wrong. "Well can you at least stop moving so I can get some sleep?"

"Sorry sir."

The silence lasted for all of one minute, and then she was shifting until she was on her back. "It's just...it's weird."

He wasn’t thinking how great she looked in the vague starlight that filtered through the canopy. He wasn’t. "What is?"

"That I'm supposed to know you, and him. That I have shorter hair. That I've been dealing with this every day for five years and I can't remember a thing about it. And what if I never do?"

Ohhh no. Only one of them was allowed to be the pessimist around here. "No chance of that, Carter. Your brain is way too active to let it happen. Besides, you've overcome amnesia before."

Her head jerked towards his. "This kind of thing happens to me a lot?"

"Uh," He almost chuckled. "Well, it wasn't amnesia so much as it was being memory stamped." This really wasn't a smart topic of conversation to be discussing when he was lying next to her.

"The difference being?"

"Well, your brain was...stamped with the memory of another person, replacing your own memories. For a while, you thought you were someone else entirely. So did all of us, actually. They were using us as slave labour." Oh he really, really shouldn't be thinking about this.

"I take it we escaped."

"Oh yeah. Got our memories back. Escaped. Kicked ass. Went home. The usual." He pondered for a while. "Guess you were right."


"That kind of stuff does happen to us a lot."

The silence returned for a while. Teal'c moved in the distance.

"How's my dad?"

"Good, he's good." Jack didn't particularly want to get into the description of who the Tok'ra were right now, so decided not to mention that part. With any luck her memory would come back soon enough.

She nodded, then continued speaking. "Jack is short for Jonathan, isn't it?" He *hated* that name. "Yeah."

"I remember hearing about you, and reading your report on the Abydos mission. Colonel Jonathan O'Neill. You were going to be my new CO."

"I am your CO."

"A wildcard, from all accounts."

"Well, I don't know if I'd say that..."

"And who was that 'Daniel' person you mentioned?"

Ah. The levity he'd been starting to feel left quietly. "The forth member of our team. Daniel Jackson. He's...not here."

*That* she was definitely interested in. "Daniel Jackson? Dr Daniel Jackson? The man who figured out how to make the Stargate work?"

"The one and only."

"But he's dead!" If she only knew the irony. "He died on Abydos when you detonated-"

"Actually," Jack interrupted, yawning and stretching, "I detonated the warhead when it was onboard Ra's space ship, which was in orbit of Abydos at the time. Ra and his ship were destroyed; nothing else was. Daniel fell in love with one of the local girls and decided to stay. Trust me, he was in his element. The only downfall was the lack of tissu-"

"You lied."

"Yes, I guess I did."

"You lied on your official report."

"And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. This is something General Hammond is very much aware of, by the way. Although...I guess he wasn't aware of it in the time you can remember up to..." Man, this was confusing.

"I cannot believe you did that. You violated-"

That was it. "I forgot what a pain in the ass you were."

"*Excuse* me?" Absolute indignation.

Oh yeah. "When we first met, you had a chip on your shoulder the size of Teal'c's biceps. Absolutely positive that I was going to hate you because you were a woman."

"And did you?"

"No." He paused. "I...disliked you because you were a scientist."

She seemed surprised. "So...what, you're anti-scientist?"

Jack shrugged. "Well...given the fact that you occasionally patronise me, that you deliberately use words that you know I don't understand, and that you often take glee in my utter confusion...no. Not anymore."

Apparently, Carter didn't have a response to that.

Jack wasn't entirely sure if it had been the best thing to-


He was up; they were both up with P-90's in their arms in seconds, frantically searching for any movement in the darkness, diving for cover, heart rates increasing, tension coiled in their bodies.

"O'Neill! You must-"









Something was...



Crap, he felt terrible. His head pounded, he was dizzy as hell and...he was staring at someone's butt.

That didn't usually happen when he woke up.

Yet there it was. Moving as he looked at it, the ground passing underneath. The ground...there was something wrong with the ground. Couldn't quite figure out what it was.

It was then that he became aware of the rest of his body. There was some kind of pressure on his stomach, and his head felt like it had to move up...or down.

Oh. He was over someone's shoulder. Someone was carrying him. And given the physical dimensions of the people on his team, the butt he was staring at had to be Teal'c's.

Which was probably just as well.

Of course he couldn't quite remember what had happened, so now was a good time to... "Hey."


Yep. Definitely Teal'c.

There was lots of movement then. Teal'c knelt down until Jack's feet were touching the ground. Knowing he wouldn't be up to it yet he didn't even try to stand, instead letting his body fall backwards. Thankfully Teal'c realised his intention and slowed the descent.

Once he was comfortably on the ground - well, comfortable as he could be with various bits of something sticking in his back - he half-heartedly lifted a hand and repeated his greeting. "Hey."

Teal'c's face moved closer, hovering over him, until it was almost the only thing he could see. "How are you feeling, O'Neill?"

"Aside from the invasion of my personal space, just fine." Knowing that really hadn't been the answer he'd been looking for, Jack continued seriously. "Headache. Little dizzy, I think."

"And you know who I am?"

What kind of weird ass question was that? "Teal'c, of course. Former First Prime of Apophis. Currently a member of SG-1."

Relieved - or, as he never had much of an expression anyway, Jack assumed he was relieved - Teal'c nodded. "Correct."

Jack felt like he had just passed an exam or something. Having been aware for the last minute or so that Carter was standing in the edge of his eyesight, torn between keeping watch and wanting to look at him, he took the opportunity to study her properly.

There was something wrong about her, too. Just as there'd been something wrong about the ground.

"What is the last thing you remember?"

Turning his head back to look at Teal'c, he frowned. "We were on a mission. P...uh, something." That binary code thing was *such* a crappy system for remembering planet designations. "It was...different than this." And then- "Light! There was dark *and* light."

And here was something else he'd forgotten: "Where's Daniel?"

Teal'c impassive face became increasingly unimpassive.

Unimpassive. Was that even a word?



"This is nuts!"

Carter had pretty much given up the pretence of keeping watch, instead coming to crouch next to Jack and Teal'c.

"It is not, O'Neill," Teal'c insisted. "Those are the facts."

"A ray gun that gives you amnesia," He almost snorted. "I don't think so. I've seen some weird stuff since I started this job, but nothing like that."

"It is something you will become quite familiar with."

"Really?" It wasn't a real question; he was being dismissive.

Teal'c answered anyway. "Yes. Although you have no memory of it, we have encountered a planet where every inhabitant suffered complete amnesia. And you yourself have suffered a form of it."

"I've had amnesia before?" Just how unlucky was he?

Carter spoke for the first time since he'd woken up. "Yes, sir. You told me about it yourself before, uh..."

"Someone hit my reset button?"

"Something like that."

He pointed at her. "But you've got amnesia too; an even worse case, right?"

"Yes sir. I remember nothing after being informed that I was going to be assigned to the SGC."

He didn't get that. "And you just *believed* whatever it was that we apparently told you about who we are?"

"At first, no." She conceded. "But you were very convincing. You knew things that you couldn't possibly know otherwise."

"Unless I was some weird telepathic mind reading alien with some way of making myself look like Jack O'Neill."

"You could have been," Sam nodded. "But does that sound more or less likely than a 'ray gun that gives you amnesia'?"

Damn. If she hadn't told him herself, he'd never have guessed that she'd lost anything at all. Craning his head to the right, he glanced at Teal'c. "Are you sure she doesn't know me?"

Her grin appeared. He'd only seen it once or twice in the few months since they'd started...no. In what he could remember, he'd only seen it once or twice. In reality - if this was all true (and he was beginning to suspect that it was) - he'd probably seen it a lot more.

It wasn't an unpleasant thought.

Sure, she was often convinced he was going to give her a hard time, and as a result she could be overbearing, indirectly insulting, and deliberately confusing...but sometimes, she could be nice. In fact, in the last few weeks that he had a recollection of, she'd really begun to drop that kind of behaviour, or at least tempered it with genuine humour.

*This* Carter, however...

This Carter was still riding high on indignities she'd faced up the career path. He couldn't say he blamed her.

"Let's say," He continued. "That I believe you. Why do I remember more than you do?"

Teal'c stood and lifted his staff weapon, keeping watch.

Settling down closer, Sam rested on her knees. "Well, I've been thinking about this since you told me about it after I lost my memory."

"Of course you have."

She grinned - half-genuine, half annoyed. "Obviously, it's the laser that somehow disrupts the memory centres of the brain. Now planning something like that is incredibly complex, and given that our brains are probably different to theirs, I don't see how they could intend to wipe a specific number of years from our memories. The intent of the weapon is probably confusion and disorientation. Think about it; someone's hit. When they wake up, they're going to have no clue where they are or why they're there."

"They won't put up much of a struggle, or even know who they have to struggle against."

"Exactly. Now if that *is* the point of the weapon, then it's also highly unlikely that this memory loss is permanent. What use is a captive if they can't give you any information?"

This was a good point. They were all good points. She had the best ideas even with amnesia. "So I'm guessing that we need to keep moving?"

"That is the plan, O'Neill." Despite the fact that he was talking to him, Teal'c never stopped watching for the enemy. "We shot the one who shot you, then took care of his companions. However, it seems likely that others may have heard the long exchanges of weapons fire."

They really had better get moving. According to Teal'c, Daniel had 'not accompanied them on this mission' (probably helping another team with a dig), so the only people he had to worry about were right there. He started to get up. "How long have I been out?"

"Just under three hours."


"Major Carter was unconscious for approximately one hour when she was initially hit."

Was there a particular reason Teal'c felt the need to share that? "I see. Obviously I needed the rest." He glanced towards the sky, or at least what he could see of it through the canopy. It seemed to be getting brighter; obviously this world’s equivalent of dawn had happened recently.

Teal'c offered assistance to help Jack stand, but O'Neill brushed him off. Sitting up (and discovering in the process that it had been twigs and things similar to pine cones that had been stabbing him in the back), he carefully tried to keep his balance as he stood up.

His dizziness was having none of it.

Teal'c had moved off to guard with his staff weapon again, so it was Carter who noticed he was having trouble. Grabbing onto his arm, she steadied him and made sure he didn't fall.

Man, when had his knees starting hurting like that?

She'd let go already and had moved away.

"Thanks, Sam. Guess us old guys need help occasionally." And when he thought about it, he *was* actually four years older than he remembered being. Weird. Frowning at something, she nonetheless spoke. "Ready to go sir?"

He was up, he was conscious, he was clutching a weapon, he was dizzy and he remembered nothing of the last four years. "You bet!"

Teal'c led the way - the only one of them now who knew where they were going - followed by Jack, and then by Carter who brought up the rear.

It was a few minutes before Jack actually looked at the weapon he was holding, and frowned. "Hey Teal'c," He jogged to catch up with his friend, ignoring the pounding in his head. "When did we switch to P-90's?"


Four years. Four years just...gone. Just like that. No more. No longer. Didn't exist. What had he missed out on? What worlds and places had he seen that he couldn't remember? What if Sam was wrong and they didn't get their memories back? Could he still effectively lead SG-1? Would Carter still be a member?

He had to stop right there. There was no point in thinking about what might be; Charlie's death had taught him that. No matter how much you might wish for something there was no guarantee it was going to happen, so there was no point even thinking about it.

Now if only his brain would accept that.

No, his brain was busy thinking of scenarios where there'd be no problems when they got back to the SGC, where there'd be no doubt that he was the only person to lead SG-1 whether he had amnesia or not. They could be brought up to speed on everything they'd missed and-


Carter had caught up with him, speaking quietly. Teal'c was still in front.

"Captain? Oh...I mean *Major*."

She grinned, undeniably pleased. "I still can't believe that."

He shrugged. "I can."

Either ignoring or not recognising the compliment, she pressed on. "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure. Although I can't promise the accuracy of my answer given recent events."

"Am I a pain in the ass?"

Wow. That he had not been expecting. He stopped walking and faced her.


She'd stopped as well, and was looking just slightly embarrassed. "You...the uh, older you, said that when he'd first met me, I was a pain in the ass. Is it true?"

Damn his older self! What had he been thinking? How was he supposed to get out of this one? Okay...uh...he had to turn this to advantage somehow. "Would it bother you if you had been?"

"Of course not. I'm just interested."

Riiiight. That response was just a little too emphatic. Okay. Forget nice. Try honest. "In that case...yes. You *were*. Not so much anymore."

Her expression was...quite something. "Oh. I...oh."

Jack found himself smiling. "Carter...don't worry about it. Daniel likes you. Teal'c likes you. I even like you. It's just that when you first started at the SGC, you were *very* determined to prove yourself, when you really didn't need to be."

Again with the "Oh."

"If it helps, I was an ass myself."

She seemed somewhat cheered by that statement. "You mean with your anti-scientist thing?"

Anti-scientist...? "He told you about that, huh? I mean I did. Before. When I was older than I was now. Is this confusing me as much as it is you? Or you as much as me..." His headache was back. "In any case," Jack cleared his throat because she was looking far too amused. "Yes, partly because of that, and partly because I assumed you would be a guy."

"Me? A guy?"

"Hello; *Sam* Carter? I think Hammond deliberately didn't tell me. Still, that'll teach me for assuming, won't it?"

Their radios suddenly crackled to life. "O'Neill, Major Carter."

Ah. Teal'c. Whoops. Jack clicked his radio. "We read you Teal'c."

"I am pleased to hear from you. I became concerned when I realised you were not following."

"Yeah, uh, sorry about that." It was quite worrying how easily they could be distracted in hostile territory.

"Remain where you are. I will retrieve you."

"Thanks, Teal'c. O'Neill out."

Wellllllllll...he felt stupendously foolish. Of all the places to forget where they were...stupid.

Evidently, Carter felt the same way. "Sorry, Colonel. If I hadn't asked in the first place-"

"It's no more your fault than it is mine, Sam. But we can both claim amnesia related excuses." They'd just have to do better from now on.

"In that case, before Teal'c comes back can I ask another question?"


"I would assume that the longer you know someone, the more familiar you become with them."

"I would assume the same." Where the heck was this heading?

"Right!" She was definitely pleased with his agreement. "So do you have any explanation for why the older Jack O'Neill - who has known me for five years - calls me 'Carter', and why you - the mentally younger although albeit still grey haired Jack O'Neill, who has known me only a few months - calls me 'Sam'?"

Huh. That was weird. Just as she said, he would assume...

...wait a minute...

"I have grey hair?"


He hadn't meant to eavesdrop. He really hadn't.

All he'd wanted to do was pee. So rather than give them a show, he searched for an appropriately sized tree to provide some privacy while they waited for him.

Sam/Carter (and what was with that name thing, anyway?) apparently thought he'd gone further than he had, because she started speaking.

"Teal'c, now that we're alone do you mind if I ask a question?"

Ooookay. This sounded intriguing. But he really shouldn't be listening.

Obviously she didn't want him to be there for some reason.

Trouble was, he couldn't *not* hear.

And yes, he was nosy as hell. That was pretty much the same thing she'd asked him half an hour ago before Teal'c had come back to find them.


Huh? Teal'c minded if Carter asked him a question? What was that about? Jack resisted the urge to peek around the tree.

Carter was apparently as startled as he was. "Oh. I...do you mind if I ask *why* you don't want me asking a question?"

"You misunderstand, Major Carter. I was answering the question you had not yet asked."

Teal'c could see into the future now? When did this happen?

"What did you think I was asking?"

"As you waited until he was gone, I believed it would be a question regarding Colonel O'Neill. Was I wrong in that assumption?"

And what question had Teal'c thought he'd been answering?

"You were."

"Then I apologise for my own mistake. What is it you wish to know?"

"Well wait a minute...what did you *think* I was going to ask?"

Looong pause. "It is unimportant. What is your question?"

Jack finally risked it. Having finished his business and cleaning his hands as well as he could in the middle of a forest, he tilted his body to the right and peered around the tree. Carter and Teal'c were standing back to back, a few feet apart, keeping an eye out for bad guys.

She seemed hesitant. "It's kinda weird."

Teal'c didn't look surprised. "I have become accustomed with 'weird' over the past five years."

Sam snorted. "I've become accustomed with weird over the past few hours."

She really had, Jack mused. Though he remembered nothing of her initial amnesia himself, he was aware that she knew nothing about him and Teal'c and yet here she was, standing side by side with a stranger, ready to defend against anyone else...it was amazing.

Yeah, it struck him suddenly. She really was.

As he was trying to deal with this epiphany, she asked her question: "I, uh...get this 'feeling' whenever I'm near you. It's not an emotion, it's like...well, I'd almost describe it as if the hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end, but they're not. I don't think it really registered at first - what with the amnesia and general confusion - but it's definitely there. Do you know why?"

Jack certainly had no idea. Probably had something to with an event he couldn't remember, but he couldn't imagine what it was.

"Indeed I do know, Major Carter. It is a lengthy tale, but I will summarise for you. Do you know what a Goa'uld is?"

"Sure. From Colonel O'Neill's initial Abydos report. That was the 'alien' inside the human body that was actually Ra, right?"

"Yes. Approximately four years ago, you were infested by one yourself."

The word that flew through Jack's mind was loud, incredulous, and uncensored. *She'd* been a *Goa'uld*? Why wasn't she still one now? Maybe she still was one, but the amnesia had made her forget that she was...No. This couldn't be possible. Couldn't be. Not *her*.

Carter's own outburst matched Jack's internal one, but Teal'c quickly put both of them at ease - even without realising he was doing so for Jack. He spoke of this Goa'uld called 'Jolinar', how it was a good type of Goa'uld called a Tok'ra, how they were now allied with the Tok'ra.

This was news to Jack.

This was astounding news to Jack.

Then Teal'c spoke of the snake in his stomach.

Jack decided this would be a good moment to interrupt.

"Well!" He shouted loudly, stepping out from his hiding place. "I'm done! If I were you guys, I wouldn't ask what took me so long."


From Teal'c's account, they only had about another two hours of walking. Jack was most definitely glad to hear that, because he was feeling bone-breakingly tired. Apparently they'd intended to sleep earlier, but then Jack had been hit and they'd decided it was prudent to keep going. He couldn't really consider his unconsciousness as being 'asleep'. That was just...unconsciousness. Not very restful.

And as for Carter...

He was worried about her. Not only had she woken up with no memory of the last five years, but she'd also discovered she was on an alien planet, on the run from people with weapons that did nasty things. To top that off, of the two people she'd come to know since waking up, one of them had developed amnesia, and the other had recently revealed himself to be an alien. So he was worried about her. She looked even more thoughtful now than she had earlier - something he wouldn't have thought possible, and he didn't like the silence.

That was probably why that less than a minute later, he was walking next to her. "You okay?"


"I couldn't help but overhear some of what Teal'c told you. It must be, um, troubling." There was the understatement of the decade. Hey, he was in a different decade now!

"I'm fine," Was her immediate response, the way she always seemed to categorise herself since he'd woken up.

He knew, of course, that it was a complete lie. Whether she knew that herself was another matter. "Fine," He repeated.

"It's just a lot to take in."

He was glad she continued talking. Jack wasn't someone who was particularly comfortable with expressing what he was feeling or thinking, but listening to other people do the same? Generally not a problem, unless those feelings were about him. In this specific situation, he decided the minimal approach was best. Speak infrequently - only in monosyllables - and let the other person do all the talking. "Yeah."

"I mean, *me*. A Goa'uld. I have no concept of what that would be like. Would I still be me, underneath? Would I be aware of everything that was happening but be unable to do anything about it? Would I be completely unaware? Would it be just a blank nothingness?"

He didn't want to know, and he hated the idea that she had found out even if she couldn't remember it now. He'd lost people to the Goa'uld before - namely Kawalsky, in the saddest way possible. And he'd been upset when it'd happened to Share, but harsh as this sounded, he was mostly upset for Daniel rather than the fact that it had happened at all.

But Carter...

The idea of her becoming a glowing eyed creature - good or otherwise - freaked him out. His stomach didn't like thinking about it either, because it suddenly felt incredibly hungry and he had a suspicion that food would do nothing to help.

Oh. Monosyllable thing. Right. "Weird."

"Exactly! It's-"


They crouched immediately. Teal'c had obviously heard it too because he'd ducked down and moved for cover. Jack and Carter did the same. It hadn't been especially loud - not much more than a twig breaking - but whatever it was had caused enough noise to catch their attention.

Hiding behind separate trees, both kept their weapons close to their bodies, scanning the forest for any movement. The first indication came when a branch on a tree five feet away from O'Neill exploded; sending splintered wood flying through the air.

Trying not to give away his exact position, Jack covered his face with his left arm to protect it from the debris. Carter sent him a worried look, but he shook his head, indicating he was fine.

Still, this was worrying. Obviously the bad guys had graduated from 'amnesia' guns to 'blows the shit out of you' guns. This step could in no way be seen as a good development.

In fact, the only good news was that they had a better idea of which area the shot had come from. If they could-

Staff blast. Teal'c staff blast. "Get down!"

They did as they were told, falling to the ground. Something above them exploded, showering the area with bark and a few leaves. During whatever melee Teal'c had gotten himself embroiled in, the alien who had fired the first shot stood in plain view, making himself an easy target. Jack took the opportunity, watched him fall, and then swung round to help his friend. Carter was already helping. While Teal'c kept a second attacker distracted she took him out, hitting him right on target.

No more firing. No more movement.

As Teal'c jogged to the body to make sure it was dead, Jack deduced what had happened. Two of the aliens had followed and caught up with them. One remained behind while the other moved forward and tried to surprise them from the left.

Nasty. Clever.

Their radios crackled. "O'Neill."

Teal'c was a good thirty feet away. Rather than shout, he'd chosen the subtle option. "Go ahead."

"The weapon this one was using is indeed different in design to their previous weapons."

"Figured that, Teal'c."

"There is something else, O'Neill. After they first pursued us into the forest, I was not greatly concerned by their hunting prowess. They appeared disorganised; even clumsy."

He *so* did not like where this was going. "But?"

"These clearly were not. If the one in the rear had not made that one mistake, we would not have been aware of their presence. Either they are adapting to their environment, or they have sent trained operatives in after us. Given the fact that they have also changed their weapons, it would appear that they are no longer concerned with capturing us."

Just killing us. Woo hoo. "Then we should probably keep moving."

"I concur."

Sighing, he rubbed a hand over his face - partly frustration at this whole damn situation, partly to make sure all the wood was gone - and paused. There was something not quite right; there was...what the hell was that?


They were both still on the ground, and she frowned at him. "Colonel?"

"What the hell is that?"

Her gaze moved to where his finger was pointing, and she smiled. "A scar, sir. Looks like it's been there for a while."

A scar? He had a scar? A scar *and* grey hair? No wonder he was feeling old.


He wondered where he'd got it, but decided not to ask Teal'c. Knowing his luck he probably did it tripping in the kitchen and hitting his head on the edge of the counter.

So Jack gathered his weapon, his pride, his hair and his scar, and stood up, glad to realise that the dizziness had long gone and he hadn't even noticed until now. He held out a hand to Carter, who didn't object. Gratefully taking his hand she pulled herself up, and then both glanced at the tree she'd been hiding behind earlier.

There was a very large, very messy hole just where her head had been. No doubt the previous contents of that hole had been what had showered over them earlier.

"You should be careful," He grinned, still holding onto her. "We've already lost Carter's memories. Don't wanna lose Carter, too."

Before he'd even finished the word 'too', she was blinking heavily and shaking her head.

His humour evaporated. "Hey, you alright?"

Still shaking her head, she looked lost. "Yeah, I think I..." Her head shot up, eyes *huge* as she stared at him.

Convinced that something terrible was happening, he overreacted. "What? What is it?"

Pulling away from him, still keeping those saucer-like eyes, she stumbled a few steps away from him. "Nothing," She mumbled in a voice that indicated anything but 'nothing'; a voice that indicated it was most definitely something.

His hand felt strangely cold. "You sure?"

"Yes. Sir. Yes sir. I, uh, I think I remember something."

This was terrific news! What was she so worried about?

"Well come on," Jack demanded. "What is it?"


"A mission," was all she said.

A mission.

They'd continued their journey with a greater deal of paranoia, but even so Jack's mind kept wandering to what she'd said.

A mission.

When he'd pressed for more details she'd been vague, perhaps only as vague as the memory had been. They were trying to destroy something. All of SG-1 were present at some point - she even had some recollection of what Daniel looked like, although that was all she remembered about him - and they were trying to destroy something.

That was all.

She'd apologised for staring at him as if he'd unexpectedly grown a second nose, giving the explanation that suddenly remembering something had shocked her.

Understandable. He could see her point. If you remembered nothing of the last five years - during which huge changes had taken place - and then suddenly had a memory of one event and nothing else...then, yeah. He could understand why she'd be shocked, surprised, amazed.

He just wasn't buying it.

Since he remembered knowing her and since he'd woken up, he'd seen Sam Carter in a variety of different states; pleased, arrogant, confused, enthralled, appalled, sad and delighted...but never nervous.

Not the nervousness she'd displayed when she'd yanked her hand out of his and stumbled away.

But what the hell would cause that kind of nervousness? Why would she suddenly be afraid to be near him? The prospect of something nasty happening to him, that he couldn't remember but that she did, was quite unnerving. Still, he couldn't see what it would be that would make him that repellent. What could possibly be worse than what she'd suffered - becoming a host? Becoming a...


Okay, *way* to be quiet and subtle, Jack.

He was past caring. Breaking into a run - and hearing Carter chase after him - he quickly caught up with his friend who had been a few feet ahead.

The Jaffa didn't pause, eager to keep moving. "What is so urgent, O'Neill?" "Skaara," Jack insisted. "What happened to Skaara? Did we..." Half of him didn't want to know.

Teal'c's stride still didn't break, but a smile almost graced his features. "I am pleased to say that Skaara was liberated from the Goa'uld Klorel, and now resides on Abydos with his people."

Yes! Jack felt like throwing a fist into the air, doing a victory dance, giving Teal'c a big kiss on the lips...but did none of them. There was something more pressing. "How long did it take before he was freed?"

"Almost three years."

Shit. Three years. Why couldn't it have been sooner, dammit? "And Sha're?"

For the first time, Teal'c faltered. "I regret that Sha're did not survive." Oh, God. Daniel... "How?"

"Amounet, the Goa'uld who was controlling her, was attempting to kill Daniel Jackson. Had I not fired upon her with my staff weapon, she would have succeeded."

Wow. Teal'c had...done what needed to be done. And in a way, there was a perverse sense of irony that he was the one to do it. "I understand. We should keep go-"

Teal'c already was.


Carter spoke as they continued walking, surprising him. For a minute he'd forgotten that she was there. "Who's Skaara?"

"Kid I met on the first Abydos mission; helped us defeat Ra."

It struck a chord. "I think I remember reading about him in your report."

Yeah. "On our return mission he was captured and infested by a Goa'uld. Same goes for Sha're; his sister and Daniel's wife."

"Sha're was the woman he fell in love with?" Her voice faded away as she realised the implications. "God, poor Daniel."


Dammit. He wasn't greatly acquainted with the full history of Dr Daniel Jackson, but he *was* aware that for a relatively young man, he'd suffered more than his fair share of loss already. How the hell was he coping with this one?


They spent the rest of the journey in relative silence. For most of their voyage Teal'c had been walking at a steady, if not exactly fast pace, adjusting for the fact that neither Jack or Carter were at their physical best. Now that they were closer to their goal and being followed by increasingly sophisticated attackers, he'd upped the speed.

Jack couldn't blame him. He could, however, feel exhausted. By all accounts he'd had no actual sleep for over twenty-four hours, and had been rendered an unconscious amnesiac by an alien device.

Not exactly the kind of thing that'll make you perky and a general pleasure to be around.

So despite his best efforts at focusing, his mind still wandered occasionally. Maybe he was looking at this Carter situation from the wrong angle. There was nothing that actually said anything nasty had happened to him. That kind of nervousness could possibly, conceivably, *maybe* be the result of something else.

Yet even that 'something else' seemed highly unlikely. Yeah, she was attractive, and yeah, she had eyes big enough to hold a whole damn Stargate, and yeah, they may have sparked off each more than was appropriate...

And yeah, she had a more than passing resemblance to his ex-wife.

But that's all it was. He certainly couldn't see himself going for a scientist type, and even if he did, there wasn't a single situation he could conceive of where he would take advantage of her in any way, or make him admit to having those particular feelings, or anything else that would make her feel that nervous.

If he did have those particular feelings.

Which he didn't.

And she was *way* too smart to let anything happen.

Shrugging off this discussion in his thoughts, he renewed his focus on the mission. Keep moving. Don't stop walking. Left. Right. Left. Right.

"I can see the Stargate!"

Even if he hadn't recognised the voice, there was no chance in hell Teal'c would ever say those words with quite that level of feeling/amazement/wonder. She was right, though. Maybe two hundred feet away he could just catch a glimpse of the Stargate through the trees.

They all started jogging, well aware that in the cliché to end all clichés, if any baddies were going to turn up it was going to be now.

Nothing happened at one hundred and fifty feet.

Nothing happened at one hundred feet.

Nothing happened at fifty feet.

Nothing happened at ten feet, when they reached the DHD.

"Teal'c, start dialling," Jack ordered as he kept swinging around with his P-90.

The somewhat familiar noise of the first chevron locking into place sounded.

"What's he doing?" Carter asked, following O'Neill's lead and keeping her eye on the forest. She wasn't distracted by the MALP - apparently she knew what it was.

"Dialling the address that'll get us home. That thing is the Dial Home Device - we've discovered one on just about every planet that has a Stargate."

Shocked, she stopped moving when she faced the DHD. "You mean...this controls the Stargate? And this is also what calculates the ratio of stellar drift?"

Uh... "Yeah. Sure!"

"But...but it's tiny!"

Jack couldn't help but grin at that; she'd said much the same thing when seeing a DHD for the first time on Abydos. "Size really matters to you, doesn't it Carter?"


Uncomfortable silence.

"I really didn't mean that the way it-"

Teal'c had pressed the seventh symbol. The Stargate activated.

Carter's eyes just about fell out of their sockets. "Oh my..."

"Thing of beauty, isn't-COVER!"

Shit! Shit! Fortunately she'd dived away in time, as the MALP she'd been standing next to wasn't there two seconds later.

Leaping out of the line of fire they found themselves behind the same large oak tree. At least, he presumed it was an oak, this being an alien-


Yeah, tree species was *just* the thing to focus on right now!

Spitting out dirt that had come from *somewhere*, his attention was drawn to Carter - mostly due to the fact that she was screaming in his ear.

"Can't we make a run for the gate?!"

"Afraid not, Major!" He fired a few shots, then hid back behind the tree as the enemy returned fire. "We go through now, and we'll be doing fabulous impressions of badly made pancakes." Off her look, he continued. "There's a metal iris guarding our Stargate. Anything goes through without the proper access code and...'splat'!"

She wrinkled her nose. "Charming."

"But effective." Ducking a flying piece of wood from the tree they were hiding behind that was getting thinner and thinner, he clutched his radio. "Teal'c buddy, you alright?"

Staff blasts answered that question, but a few moments later Teal'c's voice did the same. "I am fine, O'Neill. I have managed to obtain cover behind a boulder."

How come Teal'c got the boulder and they got the easily destroyed tree? "You used the GDO yet?"

The staff blasts continued, then paused. Then continued. Then paused.

"I have now, O'Neill."

Scouring the area, Jack saw an option. "Stand by," Releasing the radio, he spoke to Carter. "If we split up we'll give them more than one target to shoot at, and cover fire will be easier to provide. I'm going for that tree," He nodded to the one he was heading for; huge and honking, although not quite as huge and honking as the one they were currently behind. Quickly communicating the plan to Teal'c, he fired a few more shots, then exhaled.

"You ready?"

She nodded. "Ready sir."

"Do it."

She started shooting. Jack started running.

He made it, but along the way he could have sworn he added a few more grey hairs to his already apparent abundant collection.

Gasping he swung behind the tree, just as something exploded on the other side of it. Checking his P-90 he was annoyed to see he was almost out of ammo. They really hadn't expected any trouble on this mission, had they? Just in case his team hadn't seen him make it, he radioed the fact that he was alive.

But...something was bugging him.

Everyone was still being fired at, but he began to notice a pattern. He and Teal'c were only shot at when they were causing trouble, firing at the baddies. Carter was being shot at repeatedly, whether she was shooting or hiding.

And it was bugging him.

An idea niggled at the back of his mind, a vague recollection of something Teal’c had explained not long after he’d woken up. He grabbed his radio.


Gun fire.


Staff blast.


Gun fire.

“What was it that first pissed them off?”

Flying leaves.

He watched Carter as Teal’c spoke. The tree she was hiding behind wasn’t going to last much longer; she was already looking for other cover.

“We are not entirely sure. However, Major Carter had been using the camera, and it was then that they became angry, trying to take the camera from her. I believe it angered them in some way-”

And then he knew. It all made sense.

She was the first one hit. When he’d been hit, he’d been right next to her. When they’d caught the two aliens sneaking up on them, the closest had been on the left side. Her side.

They were concentrating their fire on her position right now.

She was looking to move to better cover.


“Carter!” Her head snapped round as he screamed into his radio; no doubt she heard him through the radio and normally. “Do not move, do you understand? Do *not* move! They are after *you*!”

Staff blast.

He could see her eyes from here. If she moved...the aliens seemed fanatical enough that they’d put themselves in direct risk to try and take her out, even knowing that Jack and Teal’c would do the same to them just moments later.

If she moved, nothing was going to stop them from shooting her, not even the fear of their own deaths.

Unless her team got there first.

Meanwhile, the tree she was hiding behind was groaning; it wasn’t going to hold for much longer and was clearly about to break just below her head... That was it!

Shattering wood.

There was no doubt in his mind that a few moments before he spoke, she thought of the same plan. There was risk – there always was – but there was nothing else he could think of.


Gun fire.

“I got it, Colonel. I know what to do.”

Good. “Teal’c?”

“I know what you are planning to do, Colonel O’Neill, Major Carter. I will be ready.”

It was just as well he was ready; the tree had started cracking. Snapping off just where Jack had suspected it would snap, it started falling to the right hand side. Carter leapt; following the falling tree and planning to land behind it on the ground. It would barely give any cover – it was already in pieces.

The aliens, clearly thinking she’d be left openly exposed by the broken tree, made themselves easily visible.

The P-90 and the staff weapon did their work.

An eerie quietness descended.

Snapping twigs were the first thing to break the silence, as he started running.


She was moving. Thank God, she was moving.

When he reached her she was still face down, her hands covering her head.

“Carter?” He knelt on the ground, placing a hand on her back. “You okay?”

Moving her hands away, she turned her head towards him. Spitting a mouthful of dirt out, she grimaced.

He grinned, and continued. “Because you look like crap.”

She didn’t smile. She looked at him, and kept looking at him. “I remember.”

Remember? “What?”



It was with an unbelievably strong feeling of déjà vu on Jack's part that the doctor in the infirmary shone the light in his eyes.

Blinking, Jack pulled his head away, and the feeling stopped.


The doctor smiled kindly. "Do you know who I am?"

He was useless with names; especially people he'd only met once. Still, he should be able to remember. In his memory he'd met her for the first time less than two days ago. "Umm...Doctor..." Oh, *good* start. State the obvious, why don't you? Oh! "...Fraser?"

"Fraiser," She corrected kindly.

Nodding, he noticed a few things that had changed since the last time he'd seen her. Most glaringly obvious was the hair; before just hanging down; now obviously longer but up in some weird twisty thing. And...he thought he'd spied some oak leaves on her uniform, underneath her lab coat. She'd moved up in the world too.

Had everyone been promoted to Major in the last four years?

"I, uh..." He shrugged. "Just met you."

"And that's the last thing you remember before waking on the planet; I'd just starting working at the SGC?"

"Pretty much. We'd gone through the gate with...SG-3." Yeah, that was it! The last memory before waking up was a bit blurry, but he was sure that was it. "And we'd just been taken to see the Untouched. Do you know anything about that mission?"

She lifted her eyebrows expressively. "You could say that. For my first major duties here, it was a memorable experience."

What the heck did that mean? "Interesting, was it?"

Avoiding/ignoring/having no answer for his question, she stepped around his bed and approached the one next to his, where Carter was sitting.

"Sam," She greeted warmly.

"Janet," Carter responded.

So, they'd become friends since Fraiser had started working here. Nice.

"How are you feeling?"


"That makes two of us," Jack volunteered.

Grinning, Fraiser nodded. "I understand that. As soon as we get these scans done I'm going to insist that both of you get at least twelve hours sleep." Turning her attention back to Sam, she continued. "So, are you sure you remember everything?"

"I think so, yeah. I mean I can't find any gaps up here..."

Jack tuned out as they continued talking about other less interesting things.

They'd come back through the gate a little under and hour ago, deciding that after the recent battle and Carter's revelation, it wasn't a good idea to hang about the planet for much longer. Knowing their luck, she'd get hit again.

So they'd stumbled through the gate, encountered a Hammond whose lack of hair was as evident as ever, and then given him the Reader's Digest version of what had happened. Teal'c said the most for once, seeing as he was the only one of them who remembered everything.

Now, Jack and Carter were in the infirmary undergoing an amount of tests that would make a lab rat annoyed, and Teal'c was with Hammond, giving him the full report.

No sign of Daniel yet, and no mention of him. Jack obviously assumed that his first theory - that Daniel was helping another team with a dig/translation/something old - had to be correct. Daniel wasn't the kind of guy who wouldn't come and visit them in they were in the infirmary, even during one of his 'obsessed' phases.

"...even though I'm sure you wish you could," Fraiser's voice intruded on his thoughts again. "So, when you initially woke up, you remembered your life just prior to working at the SGC?"

"Yes. Literally just before it. I'd been contacted and informed that I was being reassigned from the Pentagon to Cheyenne Mountain, and suddenly I was on the floor in the middle of a forest, on an alien planet with a strange man looking down at me."

Jack interrupted. "I guess Teal'c would look pretty odd to someone seeing him for the first time."

She had that look. That 'I know something you don't know' look. "Actually, sir..."

Oh, he knew where this was going. "Wait; let me guess. *I* was the strange man you were referring to."

"Yes sir."

"Of course I was." Strange? Him? He wasn't strange.

Fraiser seemed to enjoy their banter for a few seconds - judging by the grin on her face - before continuing with her inquisition. "And when did you first remember something?"

"We'd just been attacked. Colonel O'Neill helped me to stand up and then...whoosh."

Fraiser. "Whoosh?"

Jack. "*Whoosh*?"

"That's what it felt like," Carter reasoned. "Like this memory had just shot back into my brain from somewhere. Very sudden, very unexpected. Not to mention disconcerting."

"What was the memory?"

The expression on Carter's face was...uh, 'interesting'. She looked as though she'd rather be anywhere else at that moment. "It, um, the mission where we went to destroy the new mothership Apophis was building. When we were wearing the armbands."

"Oh," Fraiser said with surprising ferocity. "The armbands that *Anise* provided."

Anise? Who was Anise? What kind of name was Anise?

"Yes," Carter agreed. "And this may or may not be important, so I'd better tell you."

"Tell me what?"

"I didn't remember the whole mission, just bits of it. It's only since all of my memories returned that I realised where that memory was from."

"Well," Janet also seemed somewhat uncomfortable. "What 'bits' did you remember?"

"Being very powerful, and then not being very powerful."

To Jack this sounded like an extremely interesting mission. Being very powerful? How cool would that be?

Carter was continuing. "The fact that Daniel was there at some point," Her eyes glanced at Jack, and then skittered away. "Even though I had no memory of who he actually was. When I was, uh, trapped behind the force shield."

Fraiser's lips had formed a perfectly shaped 'O'. "Oh. *Those* bits."

"Yeah," Carter responded cagily.

Both women kept staring at him, but whenever he'd meet one of their gazes they'd inevitably look away and pretend they hadn't been looking at him. It was starting to freak him out and was definitely uncharacteristic behaviour.



"So Doc, what's the verdict?"

Fraiser approached the bed he was still sitting on, flicking through the various papers and charts on her clipboard. "Well Colonel, I'm confident that you'll make a full recovery."

That was it? No dire straits? No last minute save, no miracle of nature? Just...you'll make a full recovery?

Jack felt distinctly underwhelmed. Not that it wasn't great news, but still. "Oh. Well. That's good."

Turning the clipboard towards him, she lifted up a couple of sheets of paper and showed him some results he presumed he was supposed to understand. "If you look here, you can see clearly that the rate of disruption to your brain had decreased dramatically. There's no sign of any disruption left in Sam's brain at all, so I'm presuming the same will happen to you. I don't think it'll be long at all before you remember something."

"That's great, thanks." Despite his mourning for the loss of melodrama, he couldn't help but be heartened by the news. It was just... eerie. Knowing all this stuff had happened over the last four years that he had no idea of. Knowing that they knew things you didn't every now and then just by the look they gave you, but refusing to say what it was.

It was extremely frustrating. Besides, why would they wanna hide anything from him? Shouldn't they be telling him as much as possible about his life over the last four years in an attempt to stir his memories?

Then again, there weren't even that sure what had caused all of Carter's memories to suddenly come back. Whether it had been the close brush with death, the familiarity of being under attack...landing face down in the dirt. He didn't know.

However, given Fraiser's recent discoveries it seemed it could depend on nothing more than how long an individual's brain would be affected and therefore nothing else would prompt a memory until the effect of the weapon wore off.

If that was the case, then reminding him of things he'd been through wouldn't help, and-

"I have to say," Fraiser announced as she ambled around her infirmary, checking this and that. "A part of me would actually like to meet the people who invented this. I mean, a laser that temporarily removes your memory...it's incredible."

"Oh yeah."

"The amount they must know about the workings of the brain that we can't even begin to understand..."

Clearly she'd been spending way too much time with Carter. "Fascinating."

"I also have flames coming out of my nose and am thinking of becoming a Goa'uld."

"That's great." Huh? "What?"

She was smirking at him. "It doesn't pay to humour your doctor. You should actually listen to what she has to say."

"I'm sorry. You're absolutely right. It's just...not my area of interest." Understanding, she nodded. "I'm sorry, Colonel. I usually speak to Sam about this stuff but she'd not here right now, so-"

"I'll do?"

"But I actually mean it in a much more flattering way than you make it sound."

He was about to rebut when Carter entered the infirmary followed by the nurse who'd accompanied her, just to be on the safe side. He rapidly changed his statement into a question. "Good shower?"

"Heavenly," She responded. At Janet's earlier request ('order') she'd changed into something comfortable to sleep in after her shower, and was now wearing plain blue pyjamas. "I'd forgotten how good the showers in our locker room are."

"Forgotten?" Janet asked.

"Not like that..."

She must have had those clothes on base herself somewhere; all Jack had been provided with was a pair of those unflattering pyjamas from this season's exclusive infirmary fashion selection. How was...locker room? The phrasing of that suddenly interested him. "We have our own locker room?"

Carter paused next to her assigned bed, and smiled slightly. "Yes. We got it about a year into our work here," Climbing into the bed - well aware that she was under the watchful eye of the resident doctor - she pulled the covers up. "You've said a couple of times that you're positive it was our reward for stopping the Goa'uld attack on Earth."

Blink. "There was a Goa'uld attack on Earth?" Man, a lot of stuff really *had* happened.

It was Janet who responded. "Yes, but don't worry about it; we won." She began coaxing him under the covers. "Now you get some sleep, and I promise that when you wake up we'll tell you all about everything you can't remember, alright?"

"Why do I feel like you're tucking me in?" Not that he was objecting. Even his bones wanted to sleep.

Carter's grin surfaced as she watched from her bed.

With infinite bedside patience, Janet smiled almost through clenched teeth. "Because I am. Go to sleep, and we can talk all about Goa'uld invasions and locker rooms tomorrow."

Closing his eyes, he pondered over her words as he began to drift off already. Goa'uld invasions and locker roo-


Wow. Carter was right. It really did feel like that.

Then he paid attention to what the memory was.









More silence.

"Hey, Carter...wakey wakey."



"You awake?"

A groan, as she turned her face into her pillow. "I am now."

He was tired too. Not quite awake. Not quite asleep.

Had slept for almost eight hours, but now...

Mind busy. Mind busy with locker rooms and tank tops and poor men. Hadn't mentioned it to anyone. Didn't want to embarrass her.

No one else was here, now. "I remember something."

Eyes opened. Not sleepy anymore. "You should tell Janet-"

"No. This...I think I understand why you were the way you were. Being...anxious."

Eyes wide. Blue. Fearful. "Really?"

"It wasn't your fault that it happened."

"I know that."

"It just did. And hey - you have a good excuse. Being infected by an alien virus is always handy."

Eyes shrank. Cheeks expanded. Understanding coloured her face, almost as if she'd been thinking of something else. "True. Very useful for getting out of sticky situations."

*Had* she been thinking of something else? What else could there possibly be? He couldn't see what else she wouldn't want him to remember. The 'alien virus' incident was about as embarrassing as incidents came.

He met her gaze again, eyelids heavy. "Tell me about me."

A furrowed forehead. "We should slee-"

"Please. I want to know. What kind of person am I now?" There was a strange curiosity despite the lethargy. Perhaps because of it.

A smile. Indulgent. Shifting, making herself more comfortable. "Well, for a start you're an absolute pain in the mik'ta."

Acknowledging that it had to be some kind of Goa'uld word, he frowned.




She continued. "You love children, mostly because you're a big kid yourself." Catching herself, she added a hasty "Sir."

"Nice save,"

"You'd do absolutely anything for your team; sacrifice anything, risk everything. You're a lot smarter than you act. After all these years you still need to work on your people skills."

"'All these years?'"

"When you believe you're right about something, it takes an argument of monumental proportions for you to change your mind - although we have accomplished that a few times. You like pie and jello, but you hate yoghurt."

"Now *this* is the stuff that tells me what kind of person I am."

"You're a terrible singer,"

"Hey!" Not that it wasn't true, but still. In was the principle of the thing. Footsteps.

The panic woke him up fully.

Both dived under their covers before realising it would look like they were trying to hide something. Instead, they chose to rest normally, but tried to look as though they were completely relaxed and sound asleep.

The footsteps entered the infirmary.

It wasn't easy looking completely relaxed and sound asleep when you *knew* someone was looking at you. Jack suspected it was Fraiser, but he wasn't about to open his eyes to find out. Tempting as it was.

It also wasn't easy looking completely relaxed and sound asleep when you suffered an attack of 'the giggles'. The whole situation was so preposterous - hiding the fact that they were actually awake from The Evil Doctor (tm) - that Jack started to find it humorous, the pressure on his chest becoming decidedly unforgiving.

Fortunately the footsteps retreated soon afterwards and he risked cracking his eyelids open by the tiniest of tiny notches. No one was there. Good. He could grin and chuckle to himself without fear of being caught.

He looked over at Carter and saw she was doing the same. She was trying to hide it, of course, trying to keep a straight face and failing miserably. It occurred to him that he'd never really seen her smile that openly before. Even when she used that big ol' grin occasionally, it still wasn't quite what he was seeing now.

That was it. From that moment on, they were in cahoots together. It was silently shared, but they kept doing the same thing whenever someone came in; pretend to be asleep, try not to laugh, and then grin like idiots when they'd left.

It was after one seriously gut-busting induced encounter that she sighed and studied him fondly. "I've missed this."

They did this kind of thing a lot? It was kind of worrying that they might spend that much time in the infirmary.

More footsteps approached, and there was little doubt in his mind that these definitely were the footsteps of The Evil Doctor (tm). He closed his eyes and relaxed his body - geez this was childish - knowing Carter would do the same.

These footsteps lingered around the infirmary for a while moving from one place to another, to the point where Jack thought he was going to give himself away. Not long after he'd started reciting song words he could remember in an attempt to calm down - he was currently halfway through Yellow Submarine - more footsteps approached.

These were heavier, yet softer.

"Dr Fraiser."

Ah. Teal'c.

"Teal'c, good to see you. How are you feeling?"

"I am well, thank you. I have just completed several hours of kel'no'reem, and decided to see how they are doing."

"Well, fingers crossed, but I think they're both going to be fine. Colonel O'Neill hasn't remembered anything yet, but I don't think it'll be much longer. All indications are that it's looking good."

"I am pleased to hear that. Has he been informed of Daniel Jackson's-"

"No," Fraiser responded quickly. Incredibly quickly actually, as if she were trying to cover something up. Why on Earth would she want to cover anything up? What had Teal'c been about to say?

Apparently deciding to change the subject, she certainly chose one that was completely different to what they'd been discussing. "They look kind of...cute, sleeping together like that."

Cute? He was *cute* now? They were cute? And he wasn't sleeping *with* Carter - they were a few feet apart on separate beds that happened to be next to each other.


"They are always together Dr Fraiser," Teal'c replied in a tone of voice that didn't argue with her statement. "They always have been."

Jack opened his eyes.

Carter was staring at him.

She wasn't smiling.


'They always have been.'

Hammond came and went.

'They always have been.'

Teal'c hung around for ages, apparently with nothing better do to.

'They always have been.'

Daniel still hadn't turned up.

'They always have been.'

Fraiser threatened him with more pointy needles.

'They always have been.'

Carter avoided looking at him.

'They always have been.'

Teal'c began discussing past missions. None of it seemed familiar - most of it seemed frankly ludicrous. Especially those alternate realities. Until...

'They always have been.'

"Aris Boch first trapped us using a variation of the Goa'uld force shield."

The Goa'uld had force shields?

'Force shield.'

What kind of name was Aris? Or Boch, for that matter?

'Force shield.'

And how-


{"Get me the *hell* out of here!"}




{"Fair day."}


{"I thought you were dead."}


{"I'm gonna miss you guys."}


{"She's my best friend's wife."}


{"Don't get yourself into trouble over this, Jack."}


{"I think it's time to let her go, sir."}


{"If she dies, so do you."}


{"That's following orders."}


{"Sir, just go!"}

And he was on his back on a bed staring at a now too familiar ceiling with movement and people yelling and head pounding and one phrase thumping through his mind again and again.

Teal'c's face appeared. "O'Neill?"

Jack said the phrase thumping through his head.

"You lied to me about Daniel."


"Jack O'Neill. Colonel. SG-1. Born in a year I'd prefer not to discu-"

"Colonel," Hammond interrupted, tapping a hand on the end of the bed the most troublesome member of the SGC was currently leaning against. "I'm not grilling you for information. I just want to make sure you really remember everything. We don't want to risk sending you back out there with big holes in your memory that you might not even be aware of."

"Which is why," A new voice announced as Janet strode into her infirmary, "I've scheduled extensive tests and experiments for you *and* Major Carter."

"Joy." This was depressing as hell. "Guess SG-1 will be taken off active duty for a while after all, huh?" He shouldn't have been so passionate about it in the first place.

"Yes sir."

It was just the three of them - him, Fraiser and Hammond - so Jack lowered his head, absently kicked his left foot with his right foot, and asked the question. "Why did you lie to me?"

Clearly understanding what he was referring to, Hammond spoke up. "That was my call, Jack. On the planet it was Teal'c's decision to make, but when you returned I asked Dr Fraiser and Major Carter not to tell you. Knowing what had happened to Dr Jackson in that particular situation...well, it just didn't seem like it would help matters."

He was probably right. Jack knew that. He also knew that he wanted that ignorance back. He didn't want the knowledge that Daniel was gone - probably forever. He wanted to pretend he was on some off-world dig for the next fifty years.

But that wasn't who Jack O'Neill was. He was the realist, the pessimist, the man who took everything at face value.

Daniel was gone. End of story.

And he was also starting to suspect that since Daniel had gone, he'd been acting like a complete ass.

Not that he could be sure, though. There was only one person who could answer that question.


The jello was beginning to look distinctly unappealing.

He'd been in the commissary for nearly two hours. Either his watch was wrong, or she'd changed her schedule. She always came in here to get coffee at...

She always came in here to get coffee with Daniel. She often joked that Daniel should have his own coffee pot; that it wasn't fair that everyone else's should wear out so quickly just because of his overuse.

He stared at the contents of his table, beginning to think that just maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe he should just go and find her, but here, in public, would be less worrying. Not look so much like they were trying to hide anything.

They always had to hide the fact that they were trying to hide something.

Fat lot of good it did them.

Teal'c had visited him some thirty minutes ago under the guise of seeing how he was, but actually to apologise for not telling him about Daniel. However, he was quick to point out that he hadn't actually lied - that his phrasing had just omitted certain facts.

Jack had moaned about semantics and chased him away.

A shadow cast over his table, quickly followed by a voice. "Can anyone sit here, or is it specially reserved for lovers of jello?"

Typical. The moment he stopped looking for her and she appeared. "You seem to qualify either way."

He watched as she sat down opposite him, examining the contents of the table herself. There were the usual condiments and the napkin holder, but in front of him there was a dish of red jello, and in front of her there was a dish of blue jello.

Frowning, she glanced from him to the various desserts.

Telling himself to cheer up, that this was supposed to be a good thing he was doing, he sat up straighter and became determined to be his usual self. "I offer you jello."

Studying him suspiciously, she prodded her jello with a spoon. "Why?"

And here it was. "I have the sneaking suspicion I haven't been particularly nice to be around lately. By lately I mean before all this UAV amnesia thing," He added hastily.

She didn't argue with him, but she didn't agree with him either. "And?"

"And...jello is the universal language of friendship. Or is that Esperanto?"

Trying not to grin, she experimented with a spoonful of jello before frowning her distaste. "It's warm."

Yeah. He'd been worried about that. "Uh-"

"But I suppose that could have something to do with the fact that you've been waiting in here for me for two hours."

Huh-Wha-*How*? Okay. Play it cool. "It hasn't been two hours."

"It hasn't?"

"Nope. It's been one hour and..." He made a play of looking at his watch, pulling his sleeve up dramatically. "...fifty four minutes."

"I stand corrected." She grinned, and then dug in for another spoonful of warm jello.

He was incredibly relieved to discover that she'd relaxed considerably since the last time he'd seen her in the infirmary. Jack suspected she'd been doing some serious thinking, just as he had. Getting to know someone again had that effect. "You know you don't actually have to eat that. If it's anything like mine then-"

"I want to."


That brought a smile. "Why did you give it to me in the first place?"

"Like I said; I had a feeling I was..." He trailed off under her scrutiny. "Look, I just wanted to make things right, okay? With all the stuff that's happened lately...I know Daniel wouldn’t want it to be that way." She nodded her mute agreement, her movement laced with grief.

He didn't even know where he was going with this. "I know...*we* know that there are some things that are never going to change, but..."

He could do this.

The events of the past two days had been more enlightening than he ever could have imagined. Not only had he come to know Sam Carter all over again, but more importantly he'd found Jack O'Neill. He'd discovered that where or how you ended up wasn't all that mattered, and just as important was how you got there. All the things you did and didn't sacrifice. All the mistakes you made.

This was one he could rectify. One thing he'd stopped doing subconsciously a long time ago in a misguided attempt to protect her, him, and the job they did together.

They always had been together.

"But there are some things that never should have changed in the first place..."

He could do this much.



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