Bodies. Bodies everywhere. It's all I can see. I look down at my feet.
Sam is lying there, her eyes open wide, staring sightlessly, a huge hole in her chest. Jack lying across her, where he fell, shot trying to protect her. Teal'c is falling to his knees, his Gou'ald larvae lying burnt and torn beside him. All I can see around me is the death of my friends, and I know its my turn next.
Oh my God! I woke up suddenly, sweating profusely. That was one hell of a nightmare. So vivid, so real - it scared me half to death. I glanced across at my clock. Oh Hell!
"Come on, Danny-boy, where have you been?" Jack called as I entered the gateroom at a run, trying to fasten my jacket.
"Sorry, Jack, I slept through the alarm." I replied, breathless. He just
shook his head, and shrugged at Sam.
"Good dream Daniel?" Sam asked.
"More of a horrific nightmare. Where are we going today?"
"Sounds charming." Jack said. "Come on campers, let's go."
Well, it was charming. Warm, flowers (not too many flowers!), sunshine. No natives, but we weren't particularly bothered by that, it meant less problems. Everyone was in a good mood, and we were relaxed and happy. Sam and Jack flirted incessantly, little jokes flying back and forth faster than I could keep up. Teal'c, interjecting the occasional remark as expected, which reduced Sam to giggles. (He can't be THAT innocent by now, I think he only does it because it's some sort of routine him and Jack have to make Sam laugh).
But I couldn't join in the general feeling of relaxed happiness. I still felt tense and apprehensive after my dream. I kept expecting to turn round and see that terrible, haunting scene again. I could still see it clearly, my friends dead and dying. Despite the fact that the planet was obviously deserted, I couldn't shake the feeling of being watched. I flinched at every sound, jerked round at every breath of wind that brushed my cheek.
"Daniel, you okay?" Jack asked. I must have been looking really worried to draw Jack's attention away from Sam. I turned to see Sam and Jack standing together, gazing at me, frowning. Teal'c was a little apart, watching the skyline as usual.
"Sure." I started to stay then, I recognised the scene, where they were standing, the trees behind them... Oh God! My dream!
Before I could shout a warning, a single shot fired from the trees behind me and slammed into Sam, destroying half her chest. She fell back, crumpling against Jack, who caught her, disbelief written clear across his face. Her hand reached up and brushed his cheek for one brief moment, then it fell as she died.
"Sam?" Jack whispered, not believing she was gone. "Sam." again, brushing her hair away from her face. Then he pulled his gun, turned to me, and yelled, "Danny! Down!".
I dropped as Jack fired at whatever was behind me, but another shot raced past me and hit him. I stared in horror as Jack fell across Sam's body. I looked up in time to see one shot hit Teal'c in the stomach, shocking the larvae out. Teal'c fell to his knees, dying. I rolled over to face a Jaffa pointing a staff weapon straight at me. I held my breath, and he fired.
Oh my God! I woke up suddenly, sweating profusely. That was one hell of a nightmare. I glanced across at my clock. Oh Hell!
"What?" I asked. I was aware Sam had asked me something, but I was still lost in my dream. It had seemed so real, as if I had been living the events. I could still see Sam falling, then Jack...
"She asked if you'd had a good dream." explained Jack.
"More of a horrific nightmare." I murmured.
Sam patted me comfortingly on the arm as Jack said, "Well, today our destination is... Sam?"
"Right. Sounds charming. Come on campers, lets go."
I couldn't shake the morbid feeling that had settled on me, even when I saw how beautiful the planet was. If we gave planets names, like I had wanted to do at the beginning, I would have called this place Eden. Mind you, look what happened last time we found a planet we thought was paradise. I'd watched my parents die over and over and over again. Over and over again. That triggered something, something I should have remembered, but couldn't.
"You know Sir, you really will have to learn to remember these codes." Sam was murmuring behind me.
"No need, when I've got you around to remind me." he replied.
"I won't be around forever." she said, teasingly.
"We'll see about that." he replied in the same vein. They continued chatting and flirting as they went past me, down the steps.
I stood at the top, directly in front of the gate, staring around. It was lovely. I was with my friends, who for once, were all in a good mood. No-one was arguing (apart from Sam and Jack, and its just another way of flirting for them). So why couldn't I shake this feeling of trepidation?
"Daniel Jackson, are you alright?" Teal'c asked.
"Fine!" I called, coming down the steps. Sam was wandering away, her curiosity caught by something.
Jack pulled her gently away and said, "This way to Oz, Dorothy."
"If I'm Dorothy, what does that make you?" she replied, grinning up at him.
I watched them smiling, heads close together, almost unaware of the world around them, and I suddenly felt a sense of loss, of intense sorrow. I wanted to remember them as they were right now, happy, together, alive. Alive. That dream had been too real.
"Jack." I called out, suddenly apprehensive. "Are we sure this planet is deserted?" I was aware I sounded like a petulant child asking its parents to check there were no monsters under the bed, but I couldn't help it.
"We're sure!" he shouted back.
"Daniel, the M.A.L.P. showed no life signs. We're safe." Sam added.
"Oh, that's easy for you to say." I muttered. They were walking off, quite fast, and I had to run to keep up with them.
"Yes, but Jack...!" I called. The feeling of apprehension had deepened into dread. Jack and Sam stopped by some trees, and turned to face me, Teal'c a little way of, scanning the skyline as usual. Oh God. I knew what happened next.
"Sam, get down!" I yelled, as loud and as desperately as I could.
She looked shocked, but moved quickly, like the trained soldier she is. She dropped, so that the blast that came from behind me only hit her leg. Jack caught her as she fell, but the second blast hit him full in the back. He collapsed on top of her.
Teal'c levelled his staff weapon, yelling, "Daniel! Down!" and I dropped to the ground, moaning,
"Oh God, oh no, please not again." Teal'c got two shots off before one hit him, right on his pouch. The Gou'ald was catapulted out.
"Sam?" Jack murmured. "Sam?" as his eyes stared, searching for her, as they always did. He lay across her, pinning her down. Then his eyes closed.
"Jack?" she whispered. "Jack, no!" and I knew he was dead. She pulled out Jack's side arm, and fired at something beside me. I looked to the side to see one Jaffa falling heavily, but her shots bounced off the other. They must have had the same shielding as Apophis, which would explain why we hadn't detected any life signs.
I felt a staff weapon prod me in the back of my neck. Sam had run out of bullets, and she lay there, crippled, under Jack's body. The Jaffa walked calmly up to her and pointed the staff weapon straight at her. She stared up defiantly, then glanced down at Jack, smoothing the hair away from his face.
"I love you Jack." she whispered as the Jaffa fired.
Then I heard the Jaffa behind me press the trigger of his weapon, and fire...
Oh my God! I woke up sobbing, the image of Jack and Sam dying in each others arms etched clear into my mind. I couldn't remember much else, just that.
"Come on Danny, you're..."
"Late. I know Jack. Nightmares. Lets go."
"Okay. P2... P2..."
"B627." Sam and I said simultaneously.
Jack looked at us strangely, but just said, "Okay, P2B627, here we come."
"Have we checked the M.A.L.P.'s readings?" I asked suddenly.
"Yes." Sam replied, puzzled. "There were no life signs. Why?"
I didn't know why. I didn't know what I was thinking. All I knew was that I had had a dream, that wasn't a dream, that I had to stop something, but couldn't remember how or why, and that Jack and Sam and Teal'c all died, and I seriously doubted there was anything I could do to stop them.
"Are you sure?" I insisted.
"Yes!" Jack snapped, then seeing the distraught look on my face, he softened a little. "Danny, what's the matter?" he asked. "You haven't been this jumpy about gate travel for ages."
"I'm not sure." I replied. "But, can I have a gun?"
He looked at me, puzzled and not a little concerned. I rarely carried a gun. I wasn't any good with them and I didn't particularly like them. "Sure." he said. "There's a spare with the M.A.L.P. Daniel, are you sure you're okay."
"Nightmares. Left me feeling a little vulnerable." I replied. Sam, Jack and Teal'c exchanged worried glances, but nobody said anything. Instead, as we went through the gate, they arranged themselves, unconsciously, around me, as if to protect me from whatever I was scared off. I was grateful. I would miss them terribly, even more than Sha're when they were gone. I had to find a way to break the cycle.
"You know, Sir, you really will have to learn to remember these codes."
"No need, when I've got you around to remind me."
"I won't be around forever."
"We'll see about that." I murmured, pre-empting Jack. Sam moved off, looking puzzled, leaving a slightly annoyed Jack staring at me.
"I was going to say that." he said.
"I know." I replied. "And before you ask me how I know, I'm not sure. Maybe you said it before. Lots of times before. Or maybe I just dreamt it. I don't know! All I do know is that next you call her Dorothy, and the next time you speak to her after that, she's dying in your arms!"
Jack paled. He stood there, staring at me, for once utterly unable to speak. I'd been shouting, and Sam came up to join us. She jogged Jack's arm as she passed, and he jumped, startled. He watched her as she moved round to my side.
"What's wrong?" she asked, seeing Jack's stricken face.
"Danny knew I was going to call you Dorothy." he said. "Then he said you were going to die."
I noticed he left out the 'in my arms bit'.
"You're all going to die." I continued, only a shade less frantically than before.
"How?" Sam asked.
"Jaffas. The M.A.L.P. didn't pick them up because they're shielded. They're over there, in the trees."
Sam nodded at Teal'c, and he ran over to the trees, stealthily, staff weapon at the ready.
"How do you know?" Sam asked me gently.
"He says he might have dreamt it." Jack replied, turning round and walking to the bottom of the stairs. "He's dreamt everything we've done, everything we've said so far, so chances are he's right about the deaths."
"Not necessarily." Sam said. "I mean, its quite normal for one of us to dream about missions, and I've had nightmares about us all dying. It doesn't mean its going to happen."
"I knew what he was about to say. Word for word."
"You guessed, given what I had just said."
"I knew he was going to call you Dorothy."
"He's been known to do that before too. Relax, Daniel. It was just a really vivid nightmare. Look, Teal'c's coming back. He found nothing. We're safe."
I nodded. Teal'c was shaking his head in reply to Sam's wordless question.
All clear. Maybe it had all been a nightmare after all. Maybe I was over-reacting. I sat down, a little way down the stairs, leaving Sam at the top checking the readings on the M.A.L.P.. It had been so real! As soon as I got back, I was going straight to Janet and getting some sleeping pills, ones that stop you dreaming. Either that, or drink a whole lot of coffee. Again. I looked up as Jack stood up, and turned to me. Then his eyes moved upwards, to Sam...
"Sam! Down!" he yelled. I turned to see the Jaffas I had feared standing on the other side of the gate, shooting through it! I yelled Sam's name, but she had heard Jack, and was already moving. One of the Jaffa's fired, and hit her leg, and she fell down the steps, rolling past me to land in an unconscious heap at Jack's feet. He bent over her, trying to waken her, as Teal'c fired over his head at the oncoming Jaffas. I fired too, but the Jaffas were still there, unharmed.
"Danny, get down here!" Jack yelled. I ran down. He whispered something to the still unconscious Sam, then kissed her lightly on the cheek.
"Look after her." he ordered, then he pulled a grenade from his jacket. He ran up the stairs, tossed the grenade, but a staff weapon hit him full on the chest, and he fell too. Teal'c knelt down beside me, and as the smoke from the grenade cleared, we could see the Jaffa still standing there.
Sam stirred beneath me, but didn't open her eyes. "Jack?" she murmured.
I looked up at the Jaffa heading inexorably towards us. I'd failed again. We'd died again.
"I'm here sweetheart." I said to Sam, looking up at the Jaffa raising his staff.
"I love you too." she whispered, almost silent, as the Jaffa fired.
'Remember' I thought, as Teal'c died.
'Remember' I thought, as Sam died.
'Remember' I thought, as I died.
"Remember!" I yelled as I woke up, sweating. I did remember. Now I had to find a way to stop it.
I tried everything I could to stop it. I tried to change everything. I tried stopping us going to P2B627. Once Jack had to drag me through the gate. We died. Once I refused to go. They died without me. Once they even stayed. The Jaffas came through the gate, and not only SG1 died, but so did General Hammond, and Lt. Simmons, and the last thing I saw before I died was Janet, trying to hold them of, pretty much alone. That was the worst one of all.
So I kept going to P2B627. I tried changing our location. It didn't work. Once I pushed Sam, by accident, as I came through the gate, and she cut her hand on the M.A.L.P.. That didn't work, although it now became a regular feature. Sam cutting her hand, Jack binding it up.
I got desperate. There seemed to be only more thing I could change. Every time, I had died last. So I decided to change that. I would die first. I did.
I woke up again.
So here I am, sitting desolately in the gateroom, waiting for the others, early for once. That's not the difference that'll stop it. I've done it before. It's just a new twist. So its another 31st March before me. Another trip to P2B627. Maybe this time, I won't say a word, try and change it without telling the others. Or maybe I will tell them. Sam will try and understand, like the scientist and friend she is, but dismiss it as a dream.
Jack will be dismissive, but do what I ask because he is my friend, and because Sam asked him to. Maybe, this time, I'll get them to believe me, like I've managed to do at least twice. It won't make a difference. Whatever I do, Teal'c will die. Sam and Jack will die, and I'll have to witness that heartbreaking scene where one of them tells the other they love them, only its all too late.
That's the difference. The one thing that hasn't changed all this time is Sam and Jack dying in each other's arms, whispering words of love to a dead and mangled body. It could be something that simple, that easy.
Simple? Easy? With someone as stubborn as Jack? Someone as blind as Sam?
I was oddly quiet on this mission. I kept trying to work out a way to make them admit their feelings. If I just told them to say it, Jack would murmur something about regulations, while actually meaning that no way was he going to screw up Sam's life and career just because he's desperately in love with her, and she doesn't want him anyway. She'd look at me blankly, and say she has no idea what I'm talking about, while actually meaning that there's parts of herself she doesn't want to look too closely into, for fear of losing control, and anyway, he's her commanding officer, and still in love with Sara.
I looked down at them. She'd cut her hand, (again) and he was bandaging it for her. I watched him, rough soldier's hands unusually delicate as he wrapped the bandage round her hand, glancing at her once, when she wasn't looking, with such a gaze of hopeless longing it almost broke my heart. Why couldn't she see it? Because the minute she looked at him, the gaze disappeared, he cracked a joke, and the moment was gone, that's why.
I walked slowly down the steps. I could hear my name mentioned as they talked, and I knew they were worried about me. I walked round in front of them, so I could face them where they sat at the bottom of the steps, and see the Stargate, which was where the Jaffas normally appeared now. I looked round for Teal'c. He was making a thorough search of the woods. He'd only started doing that recently, without me even mentioning the woods, and I was beginning to wonder if he was beginning to realise what was happening too.
Sam and Jack looked up at me curiously. I took a deep breath, and started.
"Sam, do you remember the film Groundhog Day?" I asked. She looked puzzled, but nodded. "Well," I continued, "do you believe it could really happen?"
"No, of course not. Time doesn't work like that. Why?"
"Ok." I said, and I told them, ignoring the looks of incredulity spreading across their faces. Sam, to do her credit, tried to hide it, but Jack was obviously having a lot of trouble. I ended with, "We all die. Teal'c dies. I die. And you two die trying to protect each other. Every time."
They glanced at each other, a sudden guilty glance, but their eyes didn't meet.
"Then I wake up, and the whole things happening again."
"Oh, for crying out loud." Jack muttered.
But Sam said, "Ok, if this was happening - and I'm not saying it is - but if it were, couldn't you stop it by changing something?"
I shook my head. "I've tried. I've tried everything. I've died first. I've tried not going, and even more people die, Janet and Hammond. I've tried everything I can think off, and things have changed, except for one important factor. It seems trivial, but its the only thing I can think of."
Jack looked up, ready to storm away in a cloud of sarcasm, but something he saw in my face stopped him. "Okay, Danny, what is it?" he snapped.
Oh boy, this was difficult. This was really really difficult. I mean, Janet and I had discussed this, and decided to let them discover things for themselves, but now I had to force it, and it was hard.
I took a deep breath. "Okay, but don't yell at me. Or hit me."
Sam glanced at Jack, who stared back at her for a second, then shrugged, and said, "Okay, I promise. Now tell us the damn story."
"Alright. The first time this happened, Sam was the first to die, then you. The second time, Jack died first, but before Sam died, she told Jack she loved you."
Sam's jaw dropped, but she said nothing. Jack looked distinctly uncomfortable, but there was a certain look in his eyes, perhaps hope?
"The third time, Sam was knocked unconscious,and Jack told her he loved her."
Sam's eyes opened even wider. Jack started to get up.
"Danny." he said warningly.
But I just snapped, "Be quiet!"
He sat down again, sneaking a quick glance at Sam, who was staring at the ground, thinking hard.
"Now, I've been through this more times than I can remember, and only one factor has stayed constant. You two. You always tell each other how you feel, but only after the other is dead! You only realise it when its too late! Now, I hate to do this to you, Janet figured it was best to wait till the two of were ready to discover it for yourselves, but there's no time now! You two have to realise what you mean to each other, before we all die again!"
Sam and Jack just stared, not looking at each other. Jack spoke first.
"So Danny-boy," and his tone was very biting. "You're saying all the laws of time and physics has been broken just to force Sam and I to get together - something which is NOT going to happen." He was shouting by then, and standing.
"It's theoretically possible." Sam said slowly. "Maybe our getting together," and she blushed just a little when she said that, "is necessary, for something else to happen further along. Our getting together could be the catalyst for a change in history!"
"You're saying that if we got... you know, we'd change history? I have a problem with that, Carter!" he yelled.
"Sir, any number of tiny little things can change history. A man choosing to walk a different way to work could lead to the collapse of Wall Street! Even the tiniest little thing could change history."
Jack sat down heavily, suddenly tired. "Do you have to reduce everything to science, Captain?" he asked, wearily.
She looked confused, puzzled, not a little hurt.
"Sam." I said gently. "Think for a moment. Really think. Do you remember the time I told you you didn't know what real love was?"
She looked up, and I was surprised to see tears in her eyes. Jack glanced at her, then back at me. I could see him thinking 'God help you if you hurt her'.
"You do know. You've known for a long time. Just admit it Sam, it won't hurt."
"Danny." said Jack quietly. "Don't force her to do anything she doesn't want to do."
"Dammit, Jack, I don't think you realise! In a moment, she will be dead, or you will, and she will never know! Do you seriously want her to go to her grave not knowing? This isn't just a matter of her hurt feelings, or your damn stubborness! This is all our lives and deaths!"
"Alright!" he shouted. "If it'll make you happy and finally, just for once, shut you up, I'll say it!" he turned to Sam, and angrily said, "I love you. There Danny, can we all go now?"
"No! Mean it. I know you mean it. I know you love her. I know she's everything to you. I know you'd die for her in a heartbeat if you had too, and I also know you'd never tell her, because you think she doesn't feel the same way! Well, she does, and she knows you love her know, so you might as well tell her."
I was getting panicky now, because it was nearing the time that the Jaffa's appeared, and I could see little spurts of dust from behind the gate, where they were approaching. I turned to see Teal'c had seen them too, and had positioned himself in front of the gate, weapon at the ready.
I turned back to Jack and Sam. She was standing up too now. She'd been hurt by his throwaway, sarcastic 'I love you', and it showed on her face.
Jack stood staring at me, half angry, half afraid. Then he turned to Sam. "I do mean it." he said softly. "I do love you. I have done for a long time. I've been tempted to say screw the regulations time and again, but I didn't want to ruin your life. I've nothing to offer you that you could want."
I held my breath, watching the emotions spread across Sam's face. Finally she spoke. "Except yourself." she whispered, "and that's what I want most." then she flung her arms round his neck and kissed him, hard. He was surprised for only a second, then he kissed her back, pulling her close to him.
I looked up at Teal'c, who was staring at the embracing couple, not looking very surprised... then I glanced up at the gate.
"No!" I yelled, because there in the gate stood a Jaffa. "It's supposed to stop now! It's supposed to stop!"
Teal'c turned, and fired, but missed. The Jaffa raised his staff weapon, but I grabbed a grenade from Jack's jacket, and ignoring his cries of, "Danny!"
I ran as close to the Jaffa as I dared, them threw the grenade at point blank range. I felt the blast hit me, and as I slipped into darkness, I whispered, "It's supposed to stop, its supposed to stop."
"It's supposed to stop!" I yelled, as I woke up.
"It has stopped." came a familiar voice from beside me. I opened my eyes. I was in the infirmary. Janet was standing beside me.
"Whatever 'it' is." she continued.
"What day is it?" I asked.
"2nd April. You were asleep for two days. The grenade blast hit you, but you only suffered concussion and bruising. You'll be fine."
"Unhurt, and Jack and Sam... well, lets just say they haven't come out of Jack's quarters for two days. Whatever happened out there, it finally got them going." she said conspiratorially, and walked off.
I lay down. I'd been right. I'd fixed it. I wasn't sure what the importance of the two of them finally saying I love you to each other was, but I'd done it.
31st March was finally over.