It was the last day in an unusually quiet week at the SGC in the depths of Cheyenne Mountain. All but one of the week's missions had gone off without a hitch and the Goa'uld were for some reason strangely absent.
In hindsight, they should have known that something was going to happen.
Colonel Jack O'Neill hummed to himself as he walked down the almost too familiar corridors towards his Second in Command's lab. SG-1 had been given a week's downtime and he was determined to take at least one of his teammates fishing.
Teal'c was impossible to find - no doubt recalling their first and last fishing grip and desperate to avoid another similar experience. Even Jonas, their newest teammate although he had been with them for several months, had been conspicuously absent from all of his usual haunts: the commissary, his office and the infirmary. Even the nurses Jack had run into all innocently claimed they hadn't seen him anywhere.
The Colonel refused to react to the snub - whether it was a conscious snub or not. Who said he wanted to extend an invite to Jonas anyway? Maybe he just wanted to ask after a mission report.. Even if he had thought about inviting Jonas to his cabin, it didn't mean he *liked* him and wanted to make an effort to become friends.. No, if he *did* ever invite Jonas fishing it would be to give him more experience of life one Earth.
There'd be no other reason. None at all.
Carter was the only one he hadn't asked. That was the reason he was on his way to her lab. The *only* reason. She'd say no, of course, even if they had grown a little closer after recent events. He knew it, expected it. If she said yes, he'd probably have a heart attack or some other overtly drastic reaction. While they were working together, anyway. When their circumstances changed so would her answer and his reaction to it.
Doing his best to appear casual, Jack sauntered into her lab and grinned at the state of disarray his Second and her workbench was in. Carter was someone who always took advantage of having a quiet moment or two to work on her experiments - on her doohickeys. She had an unusual fascination with taking alien technology apart, finding out all the ins and outs and then trying to put it back in one working piece.
It was a fascination Jack couldn't understand, especially not when she already knew how a lot of the machines and pieces of technology worked. But that was Carter and he'd got used to her strange quirks over the years he'd known her, just as she and the others on their team had hopefully made their peace with his.
"Hey, Carter." His grin widened when she jumped at the unexpected sound of his voice. "What ya doing?"
"Sir, hey." Looking up from the microscope she'd been peering through, Carter blinked owlishly to refocus her eyes. She arched an eyebrow when he stood just inside the doorway, saying nothing. "Is there something you wanted to speak to me about?"
"We're on downtime," he shrugged in an attempt at nonchalance, taking one step into the lab before stopping again. "I was wondering if you were going to leave at all or if you're planning to stay here?"
A small smile passed over her face, realisation dawning in her eyes. "I assume you're going fishing, Sir?"
"Yep. Blue skies, clear waters, nobody around for miles.. What more could a guy ask for?" He had to bite his tongue against the answer that immediately sprang to mind. "So, you got anything planned?"
Her smile didn't falter but her gaze lowered tellingly for a brief second. "Why do you want to know?"
Jack shrugged and put his hands in his pockets, kicking at something only he could see on the floor. "Teal'c's gone AWOL, Jonas has disappeared - not that I was gonna ask him.."
"Are you asking me?"
Blue eyes met brown unflinchingly.
"Depends on the answer."
"Well, actually, Colonel.."
His heart leapt in his throat, thudding a mile a minute. The shy smile on her lips and the bright look in her eye seemed to hint that the answer would be..
"SG-1 to the control room. All members of SG-1 to the control room immediately."
Their eyes locked once more, remorse and relief vying for dominance as Sam got to her feet and Jack backed towards the door. Without exchanging a word, the command team of SG-1 put their conversation on hold. Their sense of duty to the careers they'd worked long and hard to maintaining and sense of responsibility to the planet they'd sworn to protect was put before all else.
Just like always.
Two people were surrounded by two dozen armed SF's. That was the first thing the members of SG-1 noticed when they reached the control room. The second thing they noticed was that one of those people was looking very healthy for a dead man.
"Alternate reality, General?" Jack asked conversationally, his posture as casual as only he could get away with given the circumstances. His eyes narrowed and focused on the blond haired woman who stood beside his former best friend. "Who's his friend?"
"We don't know, Colonel." General George Hammond kept his gaze fixed on the strangers, his brow furrowed. "They arrived fives minutes ago using SG-2's IDC and are refusing to relinquish their weapons." He looked away long enough to glance briefly at the gathered members of SG-1. "The young woman keeps insisting they need to speak with Major Carter."
For a brief second, Sam's surprise was plain to see on her face, giving way to an impartial mask after a few moments. "I'll see if I can get them to hand over their weapons, Sir."
At the General's nod, she made her way towards the stairs leading from the control room. Teal'c, Jonas and Jack started to follow without needing or waiting to be told. The team entered the gateroom together, the SF's making room for them to walk passed.
"Major Carter." The young woman seemed to relax a little on seeing her, the grip she had on her P-90 loosening for a fraction of a second, only to tightening again when she noticed the rest of SG-1 behind her. "We don't want an audience, we just want to talk to you."
"Put your weapons down and talking will be possible." Keeping her voice even, Sam studied the young woman standing opposite her. "You have nothing to fear from us."
"Maybe not from you." The woman stared passed her and scowled. "If we give up our weapons, can we go somewhere else and talk?"
"After you tell us who you are, maybe." Jack moved marginally closer, meeting the woman's gaze unflinchingly.
Charles Kawalsky, a Colonel if the insignia on the uniform he wore was accurate, stepped in front of the young woman, whether to protect her or calm her down no one but he knew. "Allow us to introduce ourselves. I'm Colonel Charlie Kawalsky and this is Lieutenant Jasmine Carter. We're from an alternate reality as you've probably already guessed. We need your help." He glanced over his shoulder at the woman he'd introduced as Lieutenant Carter. "Jas, put your gun down. They need to knew to know they can trust us before they get involved and help us."
"Help with what?" Jonas frowned slightly as he stared at the newcomers. Kawalsky was familiar - he'd read something somewhere about a Major Kawalsky from his SGC having died in the line of duty but Jasmine Carter was a mystery. Whoever they were, though, he was intrigued by the concept of alternate realities. He'd read about them in past mission reports but had never allowed himself to dream that he'd get the change to interact with people from one.
Lieutenant Carter's expression clouded over during his scrutiny, her concern reflected in her troubled eyes. "We need your help in defending ourselves. Our Earth is currently at war with the Goa'uld. We're here because we recently learnt that Anubis has plans to attack us very soon."
"How soon is very soon?" Exchanging a quick glance with Colonel O'Neill, Sam focused her attention on the strangers as she waited for their answer. An attack from Anubis was the very thing they feared would happen in their reality, one that was becoming increasingly probably with every conflict they got into with the Goa'uld.
Kawalsky grimaced and swallowed the lump that rose in his throat. "He plans to attack tomorrow. That's why we're here now. We really do need your help."
The briefing hadn't lasted long. Lieutenant Carter and Colonel Kawalsky had seen to that.
Both were evidently and understandably anxious about their world and the people they'd left behind, telling General Hammond they needed an answer as soon as possible. They made it clear that they would prefer to leave and die fighting beside their friends and family instead of spending hours waiting for an answer in another reality with no way of knowing what was going on.
Fortunately for them, the General and all the people he called to get authorisation and advice from understood and sympathised with the way they felt. The President and Joint Chiefs authorised SG-1 and SG-16 to go back with the newcomers to the planet they'd found their quantum mirror on. Colonel O'Neill and Colonel Reynolds were ordered to do all they could to help but to make sure they came back in one piece - meaning that if it looked like the alternate reality Earth was going to fall into the Goa'uld's hands, they had to find a way home for their people instead of staying to try and turn the tide.
It wasn't an order they were happy with or one General Hammond wanted to issue but it was necessary. The SGC couldn't lose anyone to the Goa'uld - especially not to the Goa'uld in an alternate reality.
Within two hours of Jasmine Carter and Colonel Kawalsky arriving at the SGC, SG-1 and SG-16 were equipped and ready to follow them home.
There hadn't been time for questions unrelated to the pressing matter of the Goa'uld invasion. No one at the SGC knew much about the pair or why they'd arrived together and that alone was enough to send the grapevine into a frenzy. News of Jasmine's surname spread like wildfire and speculation on a possible connection between the Lieutenant and the Major was rife. Was she a relative that Major Carter hadn't mentioned to anyone or didn't have in their reality? Was she the other reality's version of Major Carter who hadn't been born at the same time and hadn't had a chance to work her way through the military ranks? Were they unrelated or connected in no way at all?
No one at the SGC knew and Major Carter either wasn't in the mood or wasn't able to share. It was obvious people expected her to know or say something but the truth was she couldn't. She was as much in the dark as everyone else at the SGC but refused to let them know.
Any questions they had would have to wait. After all, who did it matter who Jasmine Carter was if her world and all those in it were wiped out by the Goa'uld? There were more important things to worry about than one Lieutenant when a whole planet was under threat.
That was what Sam kept telling herself. She was just as curious as everyone else but kept it to herself. Major Carter had a job to do and Sam's questions would just have to go unanswered until it was done.
After arriving on the planet, one SG-1's SGC hadn't been to, Lieutenant Carter and Colonel Kawalsky wasted no time in showing them where the quantum mirror was. Jonas attempted to make conversation about the planet but gave up when Jasmine ignored him and Kawalsky continued giving him one-worded answers.
Teal'c said nothing but studied the newcomers intently, keeping alert for any sign that they were being misled or were in danger. He was curious as to his role in their reality and wondered how the people there would react to his presence. In the other two alternate realities the SGC had come across, his counterparts had still been loyal to the fake God Apophis. He hoped that since Apophis was not behind the attack on their planet that it meant the false God he'd devoted so much of his life to was dead there as well. Whether he wanted his counterpart to be alive or not depended entirely on which side he was on.
Colonel O'Neill walked alongside Kawalsky but said nothing. He appeared to be lost in his thoughts but to those who knew him, it was clear his guard was still up. Discreetly, as not to make it obvious, Jack's trained eyes took in their surroundings, the smallest of details noted and stored at the forefront of his mind. It was also obvious to his teammates that he harboured more than a little suspicion for their new companions.
"This is it," Jasmine declared, the lines of stress and worry she'd been wearing since arriving at the SGC fading just a little. She glanced at the members of SG-1 and SG-16 in turn, her gaze lingering on Major Carter. "You will help us, won't you?"
"We'll do our best." Sam's eyes locked with the younger Carter's and she was suddenly reminded so much of herself. Not necessarily appearance-wise but age-wise. She saw the uncertainty and doubt in Jasmine's face and remembered a tie when she'd gone through a similar stage of self-doubt. She'd been a lieutenant at the time, faced with the prospect of playing part in her first war - the Gulf war in her case, not a war with the Goa'uld like in Jasmine's. "That's a promise."
"Thank you." Lieutenant Carter rewarded her with a small smile before her gaze returned to Kawalsky. "Let's go home."
SG-1, Kawalsky and Jasmine touched the mirror first, arriving on an identical planet in a very different universe in a split second. Colonel Reynolds and his team followed shortly and the group started making their way back to the Stargate.
The Gateroom they arrived in was almost identical to the one they'd just left a few hours ago. The walls were a little scorched in places and there were more armed SF's than SG-1 and SG-16 were used to but that was to be expected if they believed they were at risk of a Goa'uld attack.
The other difference was the woman standing at the bottom of the ramp, her arms folded over her chest and her eyebrow raised. A Colonel Samantha Carter, obviously older than the Major Carter who'd stepped through the Gate behind the Lieutenant Carter who swallowed hard on seeing her waiting.
"Sam.." Kawalsky forced a grin and started down the ramp towards the Colonel, who looked far from impressed. "I can explain.."
"You can explain why you went AWOL?" Colonel Carter's unflinching gaze was cold. "And can you explain why you took my daughter with you when you know she was supposed to leave for the Beta site?"
"That was my fault, Mom." Jasmine over-took Kawalsky as SG-1 and SG-16 hung back, watching the interaction in obviously surprise. "It was my idea to go through the Quantum Mirror we found on P6X204 and I insisted I went with him so we could get help."
"And I see you brought some?" Colonel Carter's cool blue eyes drifted over the people who'd travelled through the Stargate with her daughter and friend, raising an eyebrow at some of the faces she saw but choosing not to address them. "All right." She sighed heavily and looked sternly at Jasmine. "The last group is leaving for the Beta site in an hour. Get whatever you want from your quarters ready to be taken through for then. Colonel Kawalsky, you can take our guests to the briefing room and let General Hammond know they're here."
Colonel Carter turned decisively on her heel and started walking away. Jasmine sighed and rolled her eyes, quickening her pace so she could catch up. "I'm not going, Mom. I'm not a kid anymore. I'm staying here with you."
"It's not a request, Jasmine, it's an order."
"What are you going to do? Force me through? Have Janet sedate me and get someone to carry me through?"
"Don't give me any ideas, Lieutenant. I have enough of those already."
The conversation continued until the pair were out of sight and out of earshot. Colonel Kawalsky shrugged and uncomfortably turned to face the eight people he'd brought to his home. "Welcome to my Earth."
He started out of the Gateroom, knowing they would follow. He listened intently but could here nothing being said. It wasn't necessary, though, for them to voice their confusion and surprise. He had seen it on their faces when Colonel Carter had opened her mouth and had known then that they were going to have a lot of questions.
A *lot* of questions.
The briefing started without Lieutenant or Colonel Carter. Kawalsky and General Hammond told them all they knew about the Goa'uld's plans and revealed their SGC had been in an active war against the Goa'uld for almost twenty years.
"I don't know how long ago your SGC opened but ours has been operating for twenty-five years. For twenty of those years, we've been involved in an on-going war with the Goa'uld and they've gradually been forcing us back to our own planet." General Hammond wore a grave expression, his face aged by lines of stress and anxiety. "We only know about the Goa'uld attack because an old acquaintance of ours, a Tok'ra, was undercover on one of the Goa'uld's vessels. He managed to let us know what was being planned before he was discovered to be a spy."
"The Tok'ra are still allies in this reality?" Jonas tried to make sense of all they'd been told. Their SGC had been running for over twenty years..? Just thinking of the technological advances and discoveries they could have made in that time made his head spin. "They'll be helping..?"
Hammond and Kawalsky exchanged troubled looks. They were saved from answering by Colonel Carter, Jasmine and Doctor Fraiser coming up the stairs into the briefing room. "Sorry we're late, General." Colonel Carter took her seat and gave her daughter an annoyed glance.
"Lieutenant Carter, shouldn't you be preparing to leave with the last of the scientists..?" General Hammond gave the younger woman a pointed look, his expression remaining neutral as she rolled her eyes.
"There's been a change of plan, Sir," Jasmine responded with an evidently satisfied smile. "I'm staying here."
"Since when..?" Kawalsky rose a questioning eyebrow in Colonel Carter's direction, making her scowl.
Doctor Janet Fraiser sighed internally as mother and daughter remained silent, one of them pleased and the other unsurprisingly not. "Lieutenant Carter had a good argument for staying, Sirs. With her history and knowledge, her presence might prove vital in fighting the Goa'uld."
"Isn't her history the reason we were sending her through in the first place?" Seemingly forgetting about the others in the briefing room, General Hammond zoned in on Colonel Carter, his eyes asking her a question his voice could not.
"The decision's been made, Sir. The last group has gone through and they've sealed the Stargate at the Beta site." Colonel Carter grudging acknowledged there was nothing she could do. "Should we get on with the debriefing? We don't know how much time we have left."
General Hammond nodded and conceded. "You asked if the Tok'ra are our allies, Mister Quinn." Jasmine snorted but said nothing after gaining disapproving glances from both the General and her mother. "The short answer would be no. We have.. encountered.. the Tok'ra before and because of how that situation turned out, we chose to severe all ties with them. There are, however, one or two members of the Tok'ra who believe they owe us something for what occurred during that time so they occasionally manage to share intelligence and information they believe we should know."
"What happened with the Tok'ra, if you don't mind me asking?" Sam - Major Carter - was the one to ask the question, her curiosity piqued. She had mixed feelings when it came to the Tok'ra but had no choice but to stick up for them and make it appear she was on their side when others opposed them. She did owe them for saving her father's live and they did play a part in saving Colonel O'Neill, too, even if he preferred not to remember it that way. "We've had our ups and downs with them in the past but they usually come through for us when we need them.."
It was Colonel O'Neill's turn to snort, the corners of Jasmine's mouth turning up ever so slightly at the disapproving look he got from Major Carter.
"It's complicated." Colonel Carter shifted uncomfortably in her seat, her eyes appearing troubled as they flittered from one place to the next, never stopping on anyone's face for long. "The circumstances surrounding our first meeting with the Tok'ra were exactly pleasant. Myself and someone else were taken as unwilling hosts and it all went downhill from there. Suffice to say we don't keep in touch."
"How long ago was that?"
"Twenty one years and nine months on June 21st," Jasmine supplied helpfully. She met her mother's incredulous gaze and shrugged. "What? They asked."
"The Tok'ra and our history with them aren't exactly relevant to the situation we're in now. They aren't going to be helping us so I don't see the point in discussing them further." Colonel Carter resolutely crossed her arms over her chest and turned to the General expectantly.
"Very well." Hammond nodded again and cast Jasmine a warning glance before continuing. "We were hoping that you would be able to suggest some allies we could try and contact. Unfortunately, because of political reasons, we haven't had the chance to further some alliances as much as we'd like. I don't know if you've heard of him where you come from but in our reality, Senator Kinsey has a big say in what we do here. He made it clear from the start that we should be cautious in entering in an alliance with an alien race so we're really on our own here. Unless you can help."
Colonel Reynolds looked to Colonel O'Neill and the rest of SG-1. "Would it be possible for you to contact the Asgard, Colonel? Isn't that what SG-1 did when you went to the other reality with Doctor Carter?"
"It could work.." Colonel O'Neill glanced to his Second and watched her shrug ever so slightly. "Have you folks come across the Asgard? In particular a little grey guy called Thor?"
"We've had dealings with them in the past, yes." Colonel Kawalsky was the one who answered, his expression showing he was ill at ease. "The Asgard stopped trusting us after it was revealed some officers working at the SGC were stealing technology from them and their allies for the NID.. It hasn't happened in your reality?"
"Colonel O'Neill was able to prove the SGC was not responsible by going undercover," Teal'c said calmly, seizing his chance to ask the question that had been playing on his mind ever since stepping through the Stargate. "Is he not involved with the Stargate program in your reality?"
An uncomfortable silence descended over those who belonged to the reality they were in. Jasmine folded her arms over her chest and stared ahead, Colonel Carter winced and looked away, Doctor Fraiser and Colonel Kawalsky watched the two in concern and General Hammond appeared in two minds about something.
"Colonel O'Neill was involved in the Stargate program," the General began slowly, choosing his words carefully. "Until twelve years ago he commanded SG-1.."
"And then he chose to leave to live with some bimbo he'd met off-world," Jasmine continued, glaring at the alternate Colonel O'Neill for good measure. "He wasn't here to help us with the Asgard and he isn't here to help us now."
Colonel Carter shifted again at her daughter's words and wrapped her arms around herself, her gaze falling on the desk. "Actually.. That's not true, Jasmine." Her voice was quiet, her tone as calm as she could get it. "That's what we decided to tell you."
"What?" Jasmine's head snapped around so fast it had to hurt. The members of SG-1 and SG-16 tried to sink down into their chairs and pretend they weren't there, feeling uncomfortable at the tension radiating off the others. "You told me he left us when I was eight to go and live with what's-her-name. If he's not there, where is he?"
"Maybe the rest of us should leave you guys to have a moment.." Kawalsky started to get up, freezing at the glare he received from Jasmine.
"No one's going anywhere until someone tells me what's going on." Her voice rising in volume and in pitch, Jasmine glared at them all - even those who were as confused as she was. "Where is my father? Is he dead?"
"It would be easier if he was, Jasmine." Colonel Carter lifted her head and met her daughter's blazing brown eyes, her heart thudding in her chest. "You might as well sit down, Kawalsky. If these people are going to help us, they need to know what they're up against."
The Colonel did as he was told but Jasmine ignored him, focusing only on her mother. "And what are they up against? What really happened to my father?"
"You asked me three days ago why I've never let you go into battle against Anubis even though we all know you more than anyone is capable of it." The elder Carter clasped her hands together to keep them from shaking. "I told you it was because we couldn't risk you and all that you are falling into enemy hands and that's partly true. The other reason is that I didn't want you finding out what really happened to your father. He didn't chose to leave us, Jasmine, he had no choice. When we were stuck on Edora, the Goa'uld attacked. He was taken as host to Anubis when the old host was injured in the attack."
No one moved; they barely dared to breath.
All of them, whether they belonged to the reality or not, waited with baited breath for Jasmine Carter's reaction. Those who had been aware of the situation sympathised with Colonel Carter for having to share the secret she'd been keeping for twelve years and those who hadn't been aware sat there stunned by all they heard.
Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter fought the urge to look at each other.
Another reality where they'd been together. Another reality where they'd been torn apart.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you, Jas. I didn't know how.. You were only eight at the time, I thought it was best.." The silence got too much for Colonel Carter, her eyes pleading with her daughter for forgiveness.
"You thought it was best to lie to me?" Jasmine spat the words out passed the lump that gathered painfully in her throat, blinking furiously to rid herself of the tears she could feel building at the betrayal. "You thought it was best to tell me my father left us for another woman instead of the truth? I've hated him for twelve years for what he did and now you're telling me I have no reason to hate him?"
Her mother reached out to take her unresponsive hand and swallowed back tears of her own. "You were upset enough when I got back, I didn't want to upset you further.."
"Of course I was upset, Mom. My parents had been missing for four months and when I expect them both to come home, only one of them does. I think that entitles me to be upset." Pulling her hand away, Jasmine wrapped her arms around her body, hugging herself tightly. "Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you try and rescue him? We could've taken him to Cimmeria .."
"We've tried several times, Jasmine." Taking pity on them, Colonel Kawalsky spoke up, getting out of his seat to put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Anubis was too strong and too well protected. We did everything we could in the years that followed but without any allies to help us.."
"So he's been a host all this time? And you couldn't even find the opportunity to kill him and put him out of his misery?" Jasmine watched incredulously as her mother lowered her gaze guiltily. "You had the chance to kill him and you didn't?"
"You wouldn't have been able to either, Jasmine. Killing someone is never easy, especially not when it's someone you care about." Doctor Fraiser put a comforting hand on her friend's arm and gave her Goddaughter a look. "I know you're angry and you're upset but that's not going to help anyone right now. We have bigger problems. Anubis could attack any minute now and because of who his host is, he has a big advantage over the other Goa'uld who've tried to attack us in the past. We have to concentrate on that for now. Everything else can wait."
General Hammond gave the doctor an approving nod and looked to the shell-shocked members of SG-1 and SG-16. "Do you have any ideas on how you can help us? Do you think you could explain to Thor..?"
"We could try," Jonas answered when it seemed no one else was able to. "We can use the Stargate to go through to Cimmeria and try to contact Thor from there? Unless you have one of the Asgard communication devices?"
"Sorry," Kawalsky managed a small, apologetic smile. "Cimmeria's probably your best bet. You gonna use the Hammer?"
"No, there's a hidden building on Cimmeria called the Hall of Thor's Might. That's where Doctor Jackson and Major Carter first contacted Thor in our reality. Maybe we'll get lucky and be able to do the same thing here."
Colonel O'Neill nodded in agreement with the Kelownan's assessment. "Jonas, Teal'c and me will go. Carter, you're okay staying here with SG-16? You might be needed if Anubis attacks before we get back."
"Yes, Sir." Major Carter nodded her agreement despite the fact that she wanted to argue and get as far away from the feuding mother and daughter as possible. "What if the Goa'uld do attack before you get back? We'll have no way of contacting you.."
"Hopefully we'll be back with the Asgard before that happens." His tone forbid her from doubting him. "The sooner we go, the sooner we'll be back. General, if it's okay with you, we'd like to leave now?"
"As soon as you're ready, Colonel. I'll have the technicians start dialling Cimmeria now." General Hammond stood and headed down to the control room. Jasmine stood without saying anything and left, leaving her mother and Doctor Fraiser to follow.
"Ah.. Thanks." Kawalsky put his hands in his pockets and shuffled helplessly from foot to foot. "Thanks for trying."
"Let's just hope it works." Colonel O'Neill also stood, his team and SG-16 mimicking him. "Can I have a moment with my team before we head out?"
Kawalsky nodded, appearing relieved that he had an excuse to leave. "Sure. I'll go and check everything's okay in the control room."
Waiting until he'd gone, Jack turned to the officers gathered around him and spoke quietly. "If it doesn't look good, head back to the planet with the Mirror," he ordered them softly. "We'll join you there as soon as we can."
"But Sir, we can't leave them.." Sam was silenced by the look in his eyes. The same look he wore when they were dealing with the replicators and had disagreed over what to do. The look that said he had his orders and they were going to follow them, no matter what the cost. "Yes, Sir."
"Good." Jack stifled a sigh and glanced at Teal'c and Jonas. "Let's get this over with."
Ten minutes later, SG-1 minus Major Carter left the SGC in the hopes of finding Thor and the Asgard. Sam watched them leave from the control room, barely aware of Colonel Reynolds and his team behind her. She wanted to go with them, wanted to be with her team instead of an outsider in a world where she didn't belong.
Three hours after SG-1 had left, all four members of SG-16 were admitted to the infirmary, suffering from temporal cascade failure. Sam was the only one unaffected and couldn't help feeling guilty because of it as she watched the members of SG-16 struggle with the pain.
"I don't understand why I'm not affected," she said to Doctor Fraiser, sensing the other woman standing beside her before looking to see if she was there. "I exist in this universe so why aren't I suffering, too?"
"Your genetic make-up is slightly different to Colonel Carter's," Doctor Fraiser supplied helpfully, waving a file of test results under her nose. "You've both been hosts to the Tok'ra but you've been through things she hasn't and vice-versa. For instance, there's a marker in your system we can't recognise. The age factor may have something to do with it as well. We've been studying this since we had three visitors from an alternate reality seven years ago but we still don't know everything."
Sam nodded although her muddled mind struggled to take it all in. "What'll happen to them if they stay here? Will they die?"
"I wish I could tell you they'll be fine but that's not true. Yes, the temporal cascade failure can prove fatal if it's allowed to go on for long enough." Janet looked at her sympathetically. "We could send them back through to the Stargate with an SG-team. They could escort them to the Quantum Mirror and send them home but that would mean you'll be here by yourself until your teammates come back."
The mention of her teammates shook her from her jumbled thoughts, her eyes growing wide with alarm. "Will SG-1 be going through the same thing? Does Jonas exist here? And Teal'c?"
"As far as we know, Jonas Quinn died in the civil war on Kelowna. Teal'c is still serving the Goa'uld, Anubis to be precise, but as far as we know, he still has his symbiote. That should be enough of a difference to stop this from happening to your Teal'c. As for Colonel O'Neill.. Well, our Colonel's genetic make-up has been changed just as Colonel Carter's has. He's been a host twice so I don't think your Colonel has anything to worry about."
"Okay. If you can spare a team to take them back, I'd appreciate it." Squaring her shoulders, Sam braced herself for the possibility of staying alone to help them. "I'll wait here for my teammates. They'll be back soon."
Doctor Fraiser smiled thinly, her eyes much older and wiser than Sam was used to. "I hope you're right, Major. For all our sakes."
Half an hour later, Sam was again left watching from the control room as Colonel Kawalsky and his team helped SG-16 leave through the Stargate. She wrapped her arms around herself and closed her eyes as the Stargate shut down behind them, sending up a brief prayer to whoever was listening, asking for SG-1 to be successful and for them to return in one piece.
The attack started ten minutes after Colonel Kawalsky returned from taking SG-16 back to the Quantum Mirror. Sam had been sitting in her temporary quarters, trying to come to terms with everything when the klaxons started going off.
On impulse, she left her quarters and headed straight for the Gateroom, finding her counterpart, Jasmine and Colonel Kawalsky were already there. The Stargate was activated and the iris was closed.
"What's going on?" She asked Colonel Kawalsky, noticing the tension between mother and daughter was still present. "Is it the Goa'uld?"
"Yep." Kawalsky's expression was grim. "The attack's started. Three motherships have been spotted in Earth's atmosphere and the iris is being weakened somehow. There's no radiation, no signal at all coming through.."
Sam searched her brain for an answer and didn't like the answer she came up with. "Several months ago, Anubis used a weapon against our Stargate. It was designed to cause the naquada to become unstable.."
"We checked for that but the naquada is stills table. We don't know what he's using but the iris itself is breaking down, almost decaying." Jasmine crossed her arms over her chest and stared defiantly at the iris as it shuddered again. "At the rate it's decaying, Anubis and his Jaffa will be able to come through the Stargate in just under an hour."
"They won't destroy the base, there's too many valuable things here Anubis wants." Colonel Carter crossed her arms, subconsciously copying her daughter. "He'll want to take as much as possible so he can use it against the other System Lords or anyone who causes a threat."
"Is it something we can use against the Goa'uld? What is it that's so valuable..?"
Jasmine interrupted her with a slight grimace. "Me. I'm what's so valuable." She ignored the pained expression her mother wore and continued to explain it to Sam. "My Mom was a host to a Tok'ra when I was conceived and my father was a host to a Goa'uld. There's a slight difference in the symbiote's genetic make-up and that's what's made me how I am. I can use Goa'uld and Tok'ra technology and I know things no one else does about both the Goa'uld and Tok'ra but I'm also very much human. Harcesis children often grow at an accelerated rate, I didn't. I can't speak fluent Goa'uld and I can't always sense them but I'm what he's after. Probably so he can dissect me like the Tok'ra and NID want to do or maybe so he can make me some kind of super-host. Or maybe he just wants his daughter back."
Colonel Carter sighed deeply, noticing the glare tossed in her direction by her daughter. "I've said sorry, Jasmine. There's nothing I can do to make it up to you or change what's happened.."
"I know you can't. That's why I can't forgive you." Jasmine cast one last look at the Stargate and strode out of the Gateroom.
"She'll come around," Kawalsky put a comforting hand on his friend's arm. "You just need to give her time.."
Colonel Carter shook his hand from her arm and withdrew inside of herself. "Time is something we don't have right now, Charlie." She blinked to clear her vision and glanced briefly at Sam. "I hope your teammates get through to Thor, Major. I can't see us winning this war without the Asgard's help."
Like her daughter before her, Colonel Carter walked out of the Gateroom, turning her back on the Stargate while it was still possible to do. In just under an hour, no one would be able to walk away and try to forget the trouble brewing on their own doorstep.
"Can't Jasmine use her knowledge to come up with a way to fight back?" Sam asked Kawalsky curiously after they were left alone.
"Sam forbid it." Kawalsky gazed at her, wondering if she would be able to see why her counterpart had made the decisions she had. "You have to understand that Sam and Jack had been fighting to keep Jas safe from the moment she was born. Because she was special, the NID wanted to do tests on her. Refusing meant they made Kinsey an enemy. It's also the real reason we're not allied with the Tok'ra; they wanted to keep Jas and raise her as one of them. When Jack left.. Sam became a single mother and had to do it all by herself. She had to explain to Jas why she was different and stop people from exploiting those differences for their own gain. Jas isn't even safe here but the SGC is safer than anywhere else on this planet. I can tell you now, if Anubis does get through the 'Gate.. Sam will do whatever necessary to protect her daughter from what he has planned for her. You can understand that, can't you?"
A long moment passed. Sam put herself in Colonel Carter's position and found she wouldn't have done any different to the woman she could have become. "I can understand it, yes. If Jasmine was my daughter, I'd do whatever I had to."
"Now you know why we need your SG-1 to come through for us. If they don't.. It's not gonna be pretty. " Kawalsky's eyes moved back to the Stargate, his fear clearly displayed on his face."
Swallowing the lump in her throat, Sam closed her eyes and clenched her fists at her sides, sending a silent plea to her teammates, wherever they were. 'Please come back soon, guys. Before there's nothing left to come back to.'
SG-1 were still absent when the iris broke down. Dozens of armed officers were ready, prepared to die fighting to save their people, lined up in the Gateroom and in the hallways of the SGC. All of them knowing death was knocking at the door.
From the moment the first Jaffa stepped through the Stargate to the moment silence fell, it was complete and utter chaos. Gunfire and staff weapon fire drowned out the anguished cries as some officers fell and others watched their friends die. By the time Anubis himself stepped through the Stargate, there were few SGC personnel left defending the Gateroom. Sergeant Davis announced at that moment that more ships had been detected approaching Earth but his exclamation went unheard.
Colonel Kawalsky lay beside one of the SGC's barricades in the Gateroom, blood oozing from a leg wound despite Major and Colonel Carter's attempts at slowing the flow. Jasmine, hidden beside another barricade, gasped audibly on seeing her father and almost stood in surprise, attracting the attention of the Jaffa who had accompanied Anubis through the Stargate.
Time slowed down to an impossible rate.
Colonel Carter saw the staff weapon aimed at her daughter and didn't have to think about it. She snapped to action and managed to get to Jasmine in time to take the shot meant for her daughter, both Carters falling in a heap on the floor with the force of the blast.
Dazed, Jasmine sat up and couldn't contain a cry of alarm at seeing her mother's crumpled form beside her, her body struggling to cope with the simple need to breathe.
"Mom.. No.." Blood that wasn't her own stained her hands as she moved her mother so she cradled her in her lap. "Mom.."
The noise of a staff weapon being prepared made her look up. She found herself staring into dark brown eyes that were familiar but also not. Teal'c. Her reality's Teal'c, the one who hadn't changed sides, the one who'd shot her mother and was preparing to do the same to her.
A staff weapon and gun went off at the same time.
Jasmine closed her eyes and waited for the inevitable.
She opened her eyes to see Teal'c fall, his eyes wide with shock, a staff weapon blast and gun shot wound to his chest. Behind him, holding a smoking staff weapon, was her father.
Anubis fell to his knees, his eyes flashing as the symbiote was finally defeated by its host. Jack O'Neill took one look at his wife and daughter before the world as he knew it faded to black.
"Jasmine.." Her mother's broken voice shook her from the confusion welling up inside. Jasmine looked down and let the tears fall from her eyes. Blood stained her mothers lips, her blue eyes glassy and unfocused. "I'm so.. sorry, Jas.. So sorry."
"It's okay, Mom. It's gonna be alright. Anubis is gone.. I think.. The war's over, we've won. It's going to be alright." She lifted a hand and wiped away the tears, unknowingly smearing blood across her cheeks. Her mother's blood. "You're going to be okay. We'll use the healing device and then Janet.."
"Too late for that.." Colonel Samantha Carter reached up to touch her daughters' cheek, her own face damp with their mingled tears. "Remember I love you.. I did what I thought.. I only wanted to protect you and keep you safe.."
"I know, Mom. I do. I'm sorry for being angry, I'm sorry." Her heart breaking, Jasmine wept openly, oblivious to the silence around them as what was left of the Jaffa disappeared in a flash of white light. "I forgive you, mom. I love you so much.. Please don't leave me.. Please.. I need you, Mom.. Please.."
A faint smile curved up the corners of her mother's mouth. "So proud, Jasmine.. Love you.. So much.."
Her eyes closed and her chest fell one more time.
Leaning over her, Jasmine gathered as much of her mother's body into her arms and sobbed bitter, heart wrenching tears. "Don't leave me, Mom. Please don't leave me."
The Asgard had done as much as they were willing to do for a race they didn't trust entirely. They'd taken care of the Goa'uld motherships looking in Earth's atmosphere and had cleared Cheyenne Mountain of all Jaffa, both dead and alive.
They wouldn't, or couldn't, do more than that.
Jack O'Neill, former host to Anubis, was dying after his injured symbiote released a deadly toxin in his blood stream but there was nothing the Asgard could do the help.
The fatalities the SGC suffered remained fatalities. Colonel Carter was eventually pried from her daughter's arms and laid to rest on a gurney in one of the empty infirmary rooms. A white sheet covered her body from head to toe, as if hiding the evidence that she really was gone.
Kawalsky was taken to the infirmary where Doctor Fraiser treated his wounds. Major Carter remained in the Gateroom, watching over the young woman grieving for her mother. She stayed there as her teammates joined her, unwilling to leave the bereaved woman alone.
"Hey." She felt more than saw Colonel O'Neill walk up beside her, Teal'c and Jonas not far behind. "We heard what happened. You okay?"
Sam glanced at him momentarily, her face streaked with oil from her gun, dried blood and tear stains. "Not really, Sir, but I'm better than she is."
Teal'c put a sympathetic hand on her arm, knowing how deeply she felt the loss of her counterpart.
"She's been through so much," Sam murmured, leaning into her teammates as they moved closer, her shoulder brushing Jack's as Jonas and Teal'c took a step closer to them. "Her father's dying but she doesn't know. No one knows how to tell her."
"Maybe you should tell her? You're the closest thing she has left to her mother.." Jonas shifted uncomfortably on seeing a flash of pain flare in her eyes at his words. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean.."
"Doctor Fraiser said the same thing." Sam swallowed and managed a small smile to let him know it was okay. "I just don't know how to tell her.. We're practically strangers.." She inhaled slowly and deeply, blinking back a fresh flood of tears. "Okay. I can do this." She lingered for a few seconds in her teammate's presence before pushing herself to take a few steps forward.
Slowly, she crossed the room to where Jasmine sat staring into space. Kneeling down, Sam reached out to take her hand, surprised when Jasmine turned her head to look at her.
"She's gone." The pain in the young woman's voice and eyes stole the breath from Sam's lungs. She had to bite down on her bottom lip and blink furiously to stop herself from reaching to the anguish she could see and hear. "She's gone. My Mom's dead."
"I know, honey. I'm so sorry." Her voice breaking, Sam impulsively reached out to embrace Jasmine, pleasantly surprised when the other woman both accepted and returned the contact. "I'm so sorry."
A muffled whimper let her know Jasmine was crying in response.
For ten minutes or perhaps an hour, Sam knelt on the cold uncomfortable floor, holding another woman's daughter as she cried. When Jasmine had composed herself enough to pull away, she realised she couldn't postpone the inevitable any longer.
Jasmine had the right to know and her father didn't have time for further delays.
"Jasmine.. I don't know how to say this so I'm just going to say it straight." Her grip on Jasmine's hand unwittingly tightened. "Your father's symbiote is dying. We don't know how but it was injured during the attack.."
"It's killing him, isn't it?" Jasmine's eyes searched hers. "I understand better than anyone the way a Goa'uld symbiote works and I know all about the toxin symbiotes release in their hosts when they're dying. My father's going to die, isn't he?"
"I'm sorry," Sam repeated feebly, feeling more useless than she had ever done before. "He doesn't have much time."
Squaring her shoulders, Jasmine walked slowly but steadily passed SG-1 and the sympathetic expressions they wore, desperately clinging to her composure.
Sam followed her slowly, stopping beside her teammates. She hugged herself, her eyes bright as they locked with her CO's. "Doctor Fraiser would like to talk to you when she's got a moment, Sir. She has a request to make."
Jack nodded wordlessly, letting the palm of his hand brush the small of her back as they started walking away from the Gateroom, Jonas and Teal'c hovering behind them like shadows.
'If only,' Jack thought as the solemn group headed to the infirmary, 'if only we'd got back sooner.'
The room was quiet with the exception of the low beeps that told her she had gone there in time. Jasmine walked slowly from the door to her father's bed, gazing down on the weak form of the man she hadn't seen in twelve years.
Her father. Her only living parent.. Only he was dying, too.
"Hi Daddy." She sat down in the chair beside the bed, flexing her fingers against the urge to take his hand. "I don't know if you can hear me, I know you're probably fighting to hold on let alone have the strength to listen to me or talk back. So much has happened since you left, I don't know where to start." She paused to take a deep breath, remembering every occasion she'd wished he'd been there for, remembering all the times she'd excitedly thought about telling him something only to remember he wasn't there to tell. "Ludo had to be put down," she said suddenly, an image of the dog he'd bought to celebrate her birth popping into her mind. "He had arthritis in his back legs and Mom didn't think it was fair to let him live on in pain.." Tears stung her eyes and she clenched her fists so hard her fingernails bit into her palms. "I can't think of what to say, Dad. It's so hard.."
Jasmine cleared her throat and took a deep breath before trying again. "I joined the Air Force, Daddy. I know you and Mom didn't want me to but it's what I wanted to do. In a way, it helped me feel closer to you. I got my PhD, too, just like Mom. You were right when you predicted I'd become a scientist like her. You should've seen her when I graduated, I didn't know you could laugh and cry so much at the same time."
Sighing, Jasmine gave into the urge to touch him and took his still hand in hers. "I really missed you, Dad. So did Mom. She likes.. liked.. to pretend she was okay but I can't remember a time when I didn't wake up at night and hear her cry. She'd watch old home videos and look through all the photographs.. She's gone now, Dad. I don't know if anyone's told you. She died just after you passed out. So." She paused again and swallowed; it was painful to talk. "Maybe you can be together again now. When you.. When you die, you can join Mom and look after her till I get there. If you do see her, Dad, let her know I love her and I'm sorry I was angry. I told her I hated her before the Goa'uld attacked but I didn't mean it. And I said I hated you for leaving us but I don't. I love you both, so much.."
She broke down then, tears running unashamedly down her cheeks as she hiccupped every now and then. "I love you, Daddy. I missed you so badly and it's not fair I get you back only to lose you again."
Sobs wracked her body once more and she let her head fall down to rest against his hand. She kissed his knuckles and squeezed her eyes shut in a vain attempt at keeping her pain and misery at bay.
"Jas.. Jas-mine.." The voice was weak and barely audible. "Jasmine."
"Daddy?" Raising her head, Jasmine gazed down at him, her eyes brimming at the ghostly pallor of his skin. "You shouldn't try to speak, you should save your strength.."
"Haven't got time," Jack spoke huskily, his voice shaking with the effort to talk. "Want to tell you.. Never stopped loving.. You and your Mom.. Always thought.. Tried to fight.. Sorry, Jas.. Tried but.. Love you, honey.. Always.. Love you.."
"I know, Daddy," Jasmine spoke soothingly, trying to ease his distress. She leaned down and brushed her lips against his, her tears falling from her eyes and splashing against his face. "I love you, too. Not close your eyes and get some sleep, okay? It'll all be better when you wake up."
Her father nodded and let his eyes slide shut. Several moments later, the monitor beeped loudly.
Jasmine reached over and turned it off, bringing an end to the shrill sound. She took the tubes and wires from her father's face and body, putting them all to one side before standing back and looking at him again.
He seemed at peace, his features as relaxed as if he were sleeping soundly.
Only he wasn't sleeping and he wasn't going to wake up.
"Goodbye, Daddy. Be at peace, wherever it is you are." She bent down and kissed his forehead before straightening and taking hold of the sheets covering him. She pulled it up over his head and took a step back from the bed. "I'll never forget you. Either of you."
Turning on her heel, Jasmine left the room and went straight to her mother's quarters. She curled up on the bed and inhaled the scent that belonged to no one else, remembering all of the other times she'd done the same thing as a child when waiting for her Mom to come back from a mission.
She wouldn't be coming back this time, though. Neither her mother or her father would ever be coming home again and knowing that broke Jasmine's heart.
"Doctor Fraiser? The members of SG-1 are here to see you." Lieutenant Rush, one of Janet's nurses, shuffled nervously from foot to foot in the doorway to her office. "Should I send them in?"
Doctor Fraiser looked up from the reports she was reading and smiled tiredly. "Yes, please. Thank you." She set the reports down on one side and looked up as SG-1 filed into her office. "Thank you for what you did," she said as the door closed behind them. "If you hadn't convinced the Asgard to come, it would've been a lot worse."
"I wish we'd got back sooner, we could've saved more lives.." Jack shrugged depreciatingly and leaned against one of the filing cabinets. "Carter said you had a request to make?"
Doctor Fraiser nodded and glanced at the pale Major. "Did you tell them what you know about Jasmine?"
"No." Sam shook her head and eased herself into the other chair, her legs feeling too weak to stand for long. "There hasn't been time and I'm not sure I fully understand it myself."
"Okay." Knowing Sam well enough to see she was struggling to put up the same front she had in place, Janet started to explain the situation to the other members of SG-1. "As you might have gathered, Jasmine is not your average Lieutenant. When she was conceived, both of her parents were hosts. One to a Tok'ra and one to what we thought was a Tok'ra but was actually a Goa'uld."
"She is harcesis?" Teal'c looked at the Doctor in surprise when she paused to give them time to digest the information.
Doctor Fraiser gave him a slight nod and an exhausted smile. "She's harcesis but in a way no one has known before. No child has ever been born to a Goa'uld father and Tok'ra mother. The Tok'ra and Goa'uld assumed any such child would be a regular harcesis but Jasmine proved them all wrong. She has the knowledge of both the Tok'ra and the Goa'uld - how much is still to be determined. It comes to her in bursts as opposed to being present all the time. She can speak Goa'uld but not fluently. She can use their technology but can't always sense them. She didn't age or grow at a faster rate but her intelligence is well above normal. Given who her mother is.. was.. that's not entirely surprising but Jasmine is remarkably intelligent - even for Sam Carter's daughter." A strained smile briefly crossed over Janet's face as her eyes became moist. "You can probably see where I'm going with this. She's a very, *very* special young woman.."
"That's bound to make her popular with the NID," Jonas mused, his grimace deepening at the doctor's nod.
"Not to mention the Tok'ra," Doctor Fraiser agreed. "Her parents did all they could to protect her and succeeded. Then Sam was left by herself and somehow managed to keep Kinsey at bay by threatening to quit if he went near Jasmine."
The Colonel looked fro the Doctor to Sam and back again. "I get that the kid's in danger but I don't see where we come in. What's the big request?"
"She's not safe here anymore, Colonel. Neither of her parents are around to protect her and whether she likes it or not, she does still need protection. Especially now she's so vulnerable." Doctor Fraiser cleared her throat and looked down at her hands. "Before the attack, Colonel Carter came to me with a request, one I promised I'd put to you. Jasmine would be safe in your reality. The NID and Tok'ra don't have to know about her abilities or about the circumstances surrounding her conception. She wouldn't be a target, not a big one anyway. She wouldn't have to face having to stay here and confront all of the horrific memories this war has created for her. She'd have her parents, in one sense of the word." She put her hand up to silence his protests. "I'm not asking you to adopt her, she's too old for that. You don't even have to call yourself her parents, you just need to be there for her."
"Jasmine Carter would be in as much danger in our reality as she is here if the NID discovered the truth about her," Teal'c reminded them quietly, remembering with disdain his own experiences with the NID. "Would she not prefer to stay here with her family and friends?"
"Why does anyone have to find out about her?" Jonas asked with a raised eyebrow, watching Sam and the Colonel for their reactions to the request. "We could keep it out of any of the official reports and just tell the General and Doctor Fraiser."
Her voice quiet, Sam looked up from where she sat and stared into her CO's eyes as she spoke. "Jasmine doesn't have any family left here, Sir. And she's lived a sheltered life, the only people she really knows work inside this mountain and a lot of those people are dead now."
"You think we should take her back with us?" His eyes met hers evenly.
"Yes, I do." Sam blinked and looked away, not wanting him to see her guilt at being unable to do more for the daughter of their counterparts. "I think we owe her that much."
Jack turned back to Doctor Fraiser, a small frown on place on his face. "And General Hammond agrees with you?"
"He's authorised it, yes. I have her medical records ready for you to take away with you if you agree to it. Jasmine.. She probably won't be too thrilled with the idea but she'll go, she'll know it's for the best." Picking up a thick file from her desk, the doctor held it out to Colonel O'Neill. "It'd be best if you leave as soon as possible. The sooner Jasmine gets away from this place, the better."
"Fine. If she wants to come with us, we'll take her. But we're not forcing her into it, okay?" Jack pushed himself upright from the filing cabinet he was leaning against and sighed. "If she wants to come, we'll leave whenever she's ready."
Janet nodded and smiled gratefully. "Thank you, Colonel. I'll talk to her about it now." She watched as he started to leave the office, Jonas and Teal'c behind him as Sam pushed herself out of her chair. "Major Carter, can I have a word with you before you go? It's about Jasmine."
"Sure." Retaking her seat, Sam exchanged a slightly puzzled glance with her teammates as they left the office and turned to face the petite doctor when the door closed behind them. "What is it?"
She was silent as they left the SGC, subdued during her goodbyes and suffering from shock by the time they arrived at the other SGC, the one that was going to be her new home. Jasmine carried one backpack full of her belongings and Teal'c carried another. She inched closer to Sam as the Stargate shut down behind them and the occupants of the room noticed she was there.
"Colonel O'Neill?" General Hammond approached the bottom of the ramp as Jack walked towards him. "Was your mission a success?"
"Parts of it were, Sir. Could we discuss this in the briefing room? There's a lot you need to know." Jack glanced over his shoulder at the rest of his team, and at Jasmine who was growing paler by the minute. "And a lot we need to keep between as few of us as possible."
General Hammond nodded, his eyes showing his curiosity. "Do any of you need medical attention or should we debrief immediately?"
"Doctor Fraiser should be there, too, Sir, so she can decide if we need medicals first," Jonas answered when Jack hesitated. "We're all fine, just a little shocked, I think."
"Good, I'll call Doctor Fraiser from my office." The General gave them a curt nod and briskly walked away. Teal'c and Jonas started to follow him slowly while Jack lingered so Sam and Jasmine could catch up.
Still staying close to Sam, Jasmine managed a small smile at the concerned glint in his eyes and started chewing nervously on her bottom lip as they started towards the briefing room. With every step she took away from the Stargate, the little voice inside her head screamed louder and louder, telling her to stop and go back.
What was the point, though, the bigger part of her reasoned. Her mother, the best friend she'd ever had, was dead. What was the point in going back when the one person she wanted to be with wasn't there?
The urge to cry and scream and shout was strong. The urge to throw things and kick things and cause as much destruction as possible was strong. The sadness and pain was stronger than the frustration and anger. Jasmine forced herself to sit through the debriefing room without saying a word. She closed her eyes in parts and was grateful when no one spent a great deal of time going into the details of her parent's death.
After the explanations had been given and Doctor Fraiser had been passed her medical records, General Hammond and the members of SG-1 decided to bring her into the conversation.
"I'm sorry you lost your parents, Lieutenant Carter," General Hammond told her sincerely, reminding her so much of the man she'd been brought up to love like a grandfather. "I understand this is a difficult time for you so if you'd rather we discuss your being here at a later date.."
"I'd prefer to know where I stand as soon as possible, Sir, if that's okay." A tremulous smile was the most she could give. "I'd like to know if I can stay in the Air Force and resume my work at the SGC. I know you only have my word but I can assure you I'm a good officer and I earned my place at the SGC. I didn't get my assignment because of who my parents were or because of what I am."
"Sir?" Sam spoke up voluntarily for the first time since the debriefing started. "Doctor Fraiser from the other reality gave me several items to pass on to you and to Jasmine before we left. Her record with the Air Force and the SGC is among them, I can add them to our database and you can look them over before you make a decision."
"Thank you, Major, I'd appreciate that." The General gave her a small smile before turning back to Jasmine. "As far as I'm concerned, Lieutenant, you're welcome to stay here. You probably have more experience and knowledge of the SGC than most of the other officers here given that you've been involved in the program in one way or another since you were a child. I would like to discuss what we're going to tell people about who you are and where you come from."
Jasmine nodded slowly, having expected the question. "I know I might have to live on base, Sir, and it'll take some getting used to but I'll be okay with that. I don't really mind what we tell people about where I come from but I would like to keep my name. I don't want to cause any trouble but I'd rather I stayed a Carter. It's what I've been for twelve years and I don't want to have to change it again."
"That shouldn't be a problem, Lieutenant, and I don't think you'll be confined to base but obviously that is something I'll have to discuss with my superiors. You say you've been working at the SGC for a while. Can I ask what capacity you worked in?"
"I worked primarily in the lab with my mother," Jasmine said after a short pause. "She was against me going on too many field missions, especially if there was a chance I'd come into contact with the Goa'uld or the Tok'ra. Most of the field experience I have had is going back to planets other teams already established diplomatic relations with and building on that through sharing and developing technology. In the last few years, I've had quite a bit of experience fighting the Goa'uld and I'd like the opportunity to do that here as well as work in the lab. The reason my mother kept me from going on those missions wasn't because she didn't think I was capable but because she was concerned the Goa'uld would know about me and try to take me captive and I guess she was also afraid I'd find out the truth about my father."
General Hammond gave her an appeasing smile. "Once I've had time to look over your records, I'll see what where you would be best suited. I will bear your requests in mind, Lieutenant, and agree it would be a shame not to deprive you of the chance to get more field experience if that's something you enjoy." He glanced around the briefing room table, taking a few minutes to look at each person in turn. "Are there any more questions?"
Doctor Fraiser looked up from the file she'd been given, a small crease in her brow. "I'd like to ask the Lieutenant a question or two if you don't mind, Sir." At his nod, Janet turned to Jasmine with a reassuring smile. "I was just hoping you or Major Carter could explain how it's possible that your parents were older in your reality than they are here?"
Jasmine gave her a one-shoulder shrug and a forced smile. "Mom said that was one of the things that made my reality different to this one. Their parents must have decided to have kids earlier than Major Carter's and Colonel O'Neill's. That's how it's possible I exist, and one of the reasons where I come from is an alternate reality and not this one. Mom had a theory that a different reality was formed every time someone makes a decision because whenever you have to make a choice, there's a least two options you can chose. It means there's multiple realities out there, some similar to this one like mine and some which are probably the complete opposite. There'll be some realities where none of us were ever born and some where the Stargate was never created let alone found."
A momentary silence filled the room.
Jasmine ducked her head to hide an amused smile at the array of confused and bewildered expressions on their faces, noticing as she did that Major Carter was struggling to hide a smirk of her own.
"If no one else has anymore questions, you're all dismissed." General Hammond pushed himself to his feet and looked around the table as the military occupants mimicked him, Jasmine included. "SG-1, Lieutenant, report to the infirmary for your medicals. After that, you're on downtime until Thursday at 0800 hours. Dismissed."
The occupants of the room filed out slowly after the General left for his office. The male members of SG-1 walked on ahead while Janet lingered behind, casting a concerned expression at the two Carter's left behind. She smiled encouragingly at the younger Carter and questioned the elder one with her eyes. At Sam's discreet nod, the three women started towards the elevators, their expressions saying everything their mouths could not.
It was a strange feeling to be somewhere that was familiar but also new and different. Jasmine felt like the previous twenty years of her life had been a series of dreams, ending with a nightmare that acted as her wake up call.
The people she met weren't strangers; she knew them but the problem was they didn't know her. Some of them were younger than she expected, some of them had different ranks and titles.. Some of them were on different teams and some were friends with different people.
She waked through the corridors of the SGC, instinct and years of experience acting as her guide, smiling at those she recognised. It was only when they gave her polite smiles in return that she remembered they weren't who she thought they were.
Trying not to let their formality upset her more than she already was, Jasmine set her shoulders and determinedly continued her journey. She kept her expression neutral unless the passing officer or scientist acknowledged her first and was indescribably relieved when she arrived at her destination - until the memories came back.
Major Carter's quarters were in the exact same place as her mothers. And if what she knew about the rest of the facility held true for the personnel quarters, it would be identical to those she'd grown up in.
As a small child, Jasmine had been granted special privileges. She'd spent hours at the SGC, bouncing on the beds in the infirmary while one of the nurses or Aunt Janet looked after her. She'd spent most nights in her parent's quarters or in the room beside theirs General Hammond had assigned to her at only six years of age. In her father's absence, she and her mother had spent more time together - often in the sanctuary of her mother's quarters, away from the prying eyes of everyone else.
She'd laughed in that room, as a child and as an adult. She'd sought comfort there when she had nightmares and had spent most of her childhood in that room, waiting for her mother to return. She'd sobbed there in her mother's arms when her father had left, cried when her heart had been broken for the first time when a lieutenant she'd had her first crush on announced he was engaged. She'd broken down within those four walls not so long ago when both of her parents had become lost to her forever.
Taking a deep breath, Jasmine lifted her arm and did something that seemed foreign to her: knocked on the door instead of walking straight in.
Part of her hoped Major Carter had left for the evening and wouldn't there to answer the door. That part of her was disappointed.
"Jasmine, hi." The Major was evidently surprised to see her. An uncertain smile broke out across her still too pale face, her eyes an open window to her thoughts. It struck Jasmine as strange that someone who was in essence her mother yet didn't know her could grieve so much. "Is everything okay?"
Someone managing to remember to nod, Jasmine did her best to reel in her natural curiosity and avoid looking passed her into the room. "Yeah.. I was wondering what you meant before. When you said you'd been given some things for me from Aunt.. Doctor Fraiser? My Doctor Fraiser."
"I did wonder if you were going to ask about it." Major Carter smiled softly and tilted her head to one side in invitation. "Do you want to come in or..?"
She shook her head immediately, clasping her hands together in an attempt at stopping herself from fidgeting. "I'm okay out here. I don't want to take up too much of your time.."
"Okay." An understanding smile graced Sam's lips as she turned away from the door. "She didn't give me much but she said your Mom would've wanted you to have them and I agree with her." Disappearing from sight only for a few seconds, Sam returned with a small but thick leather bound book and a pale pink folder Jasmine recognised as being her mother's photo album, the one she kept - had kept - on base just in case anything were to happen to the photographs they kept at home. "I haven't looked at them. It wouldn't be right."
Taking the items from her, Jasmine clutched them to her chest. "Thanks for bringing them through. And for letting me come with you."
Sam matched her shy smile with an identical one of her own. "You're welcome." Concern shadowed her eyes and she took a step forward before pausing uncomfortably. "Are you sure you don't want to come in..?"
"I'm sure." Jasmine smiled again and clutched her belongings a little tighter to her chest. "I'm just going to go and look through these.. I'll see you in the morning."
"Sure." A small trace of disappointment flickered in the Major's eyes as she stepped backwards and Jasmine wondered briefly if she was asking because she wanted the company herself and not because she was checking up on her. "Jasmine?"
Looking up from where her gaze had fallen to her shoes, Jasmine was surprised at the intermingled pain and compassion she saw in Sam's all too familiar eyes. "Yes?"
The pained look was accompanied by a strained smile. "I know what it's like to lose a parent. Talking might be the last thing you want to do right now but I'm here if you feel like maybe you want to talk later."
Her throat tightening, Jasmine nodded and blinked furiously. "I.. Thank you. It means a lot."
Major Carter nodded soundlessly and closed the door when Jasmine turned to leave.
As quickly as she could, Jasmine walked from Major Carter's quarters to the VIP quarters she'd been assigned, locking the door securely behind her. She gently laid her newfound belongings on the bed and open the photo album to the first page. Delicately tracing a finger around the faces smiling up at her, Jasmine whimpered as the first of many tears ran down her face, dripped off her nose and splattered against the plastic covered photograph.
"I wish you were here, Mom. I wish you were here."
Curled up under the thin comforter in her temporary quarters, her face stained with angry tear tracks, Jasmine braced herself for the rush of emotions she knew the journal in her hands would evoke.
Stealing herself with a deep breath, she opened the journal and watched as the pages fell apart. Her breath quickening at the familiar sight of her mother's small but neat handwriting, Jasmine cleared her throat before she started to read.
//3rd October 1981.
It's been a while since I've written in here but its not because there hasn't been anything to say. If anything, there's too much to say - so much that I don't know where to begin.
It's all classified so I shouldn't be writing it in here. If I don't, though, I'm going to go mad and it's not like I'm going to be taking this journal off-base with me at any point in my life - and if I do, I'd never let it out of my sight.
The more I think about what I'm going to write, the less certain I am of where I should begin - it doesn't help when my hands won't stop shaking for more than a second. I suppose I should start with the reason I haven't bee able to write in here for a while and the answer to that would be that I've been off-world for two months
I was a prisoner in two ways. Trapped inside my body by a Tok'ra, held captive by a Goa'uld. Not just any Goa'uld either, one who somehow managed to take over Captain O'Neill..// ~Å~
It had happened so suddenly.. Sam hadn't had a chance to react or sound the alarm. One moment she'd been giving an injured Nasyian man CPR in the hopes of reviving him and the next.. In the next instant he was dead and she was held hostage inside her own body.
Screaming for help was not an option. Letting everyone else know she'd been compromised was impossible.
For a split second, she'd thought Captain O'Neill had noticed since he'd been with her at the time. That hope died when the Captain said nothing. He gave her a strange look and his lips seemed to quirk up in a satisfied smirk but their CO, Colonel Frank Cromwell, yelling at them both to get to the Stargate as soon as possible, soon distracted his attention.
The entity inside of her wanted to stay as far away from the Captain as possible but he was having none of it. He grabbed her arm when she stumbled and held onto it under the guise of keeping her steady as they ran home.
It was only when they were back at the SGC that she realised he'd been compromised, too.
"That was careless, Mal'aya." Grabbing her from behind, the Captain pulled her against him tightly, pressing rough kisses to her neck and shoulders. "I told you I would never let you leave."
The contact was unwanted by both Sam and her symbiote. "What do you want, Za'red?" Mal'aya demanded, pushing herself away from him and the locker she'd been standing in front of. "You had the chance to kill me on Naysia.."
"I don't want to kill you, Mal'aya. You should know that." Za'red twisted the Captain's features in a sly smile. "I only became an Ashrak so I could find you."
"That's touching but I'd rather you killed me." She took a step back as he approached. "You can't seriously expect me to welcome you back in my life.. You betrayed my people and me. Everything you are is everything I don't believe in."
Za'red's eyes glowed and his voice changed from being the relatively soft tones of Captain O'Neill's to being the deep, resonating voice of the Goa'uld. "The Tok'ra will fall, Mal'aya. I am giving you the chance to join us while you still can."
"I will never join you. I am Tok'ra and we will prevail." Folding her arms over her chest, Mal'aya glared at him defiantly. "The Goa'uld will be the ones who fall. You had your chance to join us and you let it go. Do not think you'll be given the chance again."
He advanced on her quickly and grabbed her arms, keeping his grip firm so he couldn't move away. "I have no desire to join the Tok'ra, Mal'aya. It is you I want. Do you not recall the times we shared? The celebrations we held after our successful missions?" He almost tenderly pushed her hair away from her face, grinning triumphantly at the way her gaze lowered and her throat moved as she swallowed hard. "You do remember, don't you, Mal'aya? You remember how good we were together, how good we could be again.."
Struggling to move away, Mal'aya glared at him, her eyes flashing in annoyance. "Everything we shared was based on a lie. You infiltrated us and let us believe you were someone else. You lied to me and betrayed me.. You can't expect me to trust you again after everything you did?"
"I never lied about how I felt about you.."
"No, you just lied about how you felt about everything else." Mal'aya cut him off with a venomous look, using his surprise as leverage to move away. "If you're as wise as you claim you are, you'll leave this planet and never try to contact me again."
Za'red snorted and crossed his arms, leaning casually against the lockers opposite. "As long as you're here I'm not going anywhere. Besides, it could be fun to get some inside information on the Tau'ri. I'm sure a great number of System Lords will reward me highly for whatever I can share with them."
The locker room door opened before she could respond. Colonel Cromwell stood there with an eyebrow raised, a knowing smirk playing on his lips as he took in the state of undress his two subordinates were in.
"Not interrupting anything, am I?" Lounging in the doorway, the Colonel was completely unaware of the shouting going on inside the minds of the two unwilling hosts. "Thought you said there wasn't any thing going on between you and the good Lieutenant, Jack?"
Giving his Commanding Officer a sly smile and wink, Za'red casually sauntered over to where Mal'aya was stood uncomfortably. "We were trying to keep it quiet, weren't we, hon?" Wrapping an arm around her waist, he drew her none too gently against him. "You'll keep it to yourself, won't you, Frank? Sammie doesn't want too many people knowing until we're a little more settled."
Cromwell returned the wink and smirked at Sam. "Secret's safe with me, guys, but you should be more careful around base.. There's enough gossip about you two already. Don't want to good General getting confused, do we?"
"We'll be careful." Squeezing he around the middle, Za'red grinned smugly. "Thanks, Frank."
"No problem, Jack, Sam." The Colonel nodded at them in turn and made to leave. "Enjoy your downtime, guys."
As soon as the door had closed behind him, Mal'aya pulled away, snatching Lieutenant Carter's jacket from the bench as she moved. Putting on the jacket, she continued to glare at him as she backed towards the door. "If you get the opportunity to leave, I'd take it. If you're still here this time tomorrow morning, I'll expose you to the Tau'ri, even if it means exposing myself."
She left the SGC and used her hosts memories to get herself to her hosts home. The following day, she returned to the base to find the situation had been taken out of her hands. Za'red had been discovered and was hiding somewhere in the SGC.
He knew her too well, knew from his hosts memories exactly what Lieutenant Carter would do as part of her morning ritual.
Taking her by surprise, Za'red claimed her as his hostage and used it to his advantage. Mal'aya remained quiet as he dragged her up the ramp towards the active Stargate, a Tau'ri weapon at her neck.
Her eyes closed as he pulled her through the Stargate with him, Colonel Cromwell, General Hammond, Captain Kawalsky and Doctor Fraiser watching them with fear and sorrow in their faces.
//..After a never ending two months in Za'red's company, the Tok'ra found us. Za'red died but Mal'aya insisted they should save the host.
We went back to the Tok'ra homeworld while Captain O'Neill recovered and when he was able to stand on his own two feet, he insisted they let me go, too.
I assume it must have been because of what we shared when Za'red was in control - not only were we both unwilling hosts but we both knew how Za'red and Mal'aya felt about each other. Even though it was wrong and he was her sworn enemy, Mal'aya loved him.
My speaking of Mal'aya in the past tense and being able to write in here is a big enough hint hat I'm no longer a host. Jack, for some reason, wouldn't leave without me - yeah, I know we were teammates and kind of friends before the mission to Naysia but I always thought he saw me as a geek and little more. There was a time I'd thought there was a chance things could develop but that time has been and gone.
Anyway, Mal'aya knew her fellow Tok'ra well enough. She knew they'd never let me go - it was an unusual gesture on their part to offer Captain O'Neill his freedom given all he'd learnt. The gesture wouldn't extend to me. She insisted she talk to the Captain alone and must have discussed some sort of plan with him - one she didn't want me knowing about - because the next thing I knew, Captain O'Neill had "kidnapped" me and had taken me to Cimmeria, a planet the Tok'ra knew about but couldn't go to.
Mal'aya left me without much of a struggle and I lost consciousness as soon as we'd reached the end of the maze she kept referring to as Thor's Hammer. The device was of Asgard origin so I'm a little disappointed I wasn't a more lucid and able to study it but hopefully I'll get the chance one day.
I don't really remember how we got home, not exactly. From what I've been told, though, Captain O'Neill took me to the home planet of one of our lesser advanced allies and from there, we used their GDO to contact the SGC and get back to Earth.
Two days later, I wake up here, in the infirmary, mistakenly believing the whole ordeal to be over.
How wrong can you get?
The Captain was sat by my bed, still in his infirmary gown and pants so I knew he hadn't been released. His hand covered mine and when I moved, he realised I was awake and called for Janet.
To say I felt uncomfortable would be an understatement.
Luckily, Janet showed up almost immediately. She looked at me, then at him, neither of them saying anything but somehow managing to have a conversation that went way over my head. One that was about me but one I wasn't allowed to hear at that point..//
"I'm right, aren't I?" Captain Jack O'Neill unwittingly tightened his grip on Lieutenant Carter's hand, staring anxiously at the pretty doctor. "The tests confirm it?"
Doctor Fraiser lowered her gaze and gave him a small nod. "You're right, Captain. I've run the test three times and always get the same results. How did you know?"
Frowning, Sam pulled herself up into a sitting position and did her best to join the conversation. "How did he know what?"
Ignoring her, Jack withdrew his hand and rubbed the back of his neck. "Mal'aya told me. She said it was one of the reasons she was going to sacrifice herself. The Tok'ra wouldn't have approved and would have either destroyed it or experimented on it. She couldn't let that happen."
"Destroyed or experimented on what?" Her tone sharp, Sam crossed her arms and looked from one to the other. "Will one of you please tell me what's going on?"
Janet let the doctor's mask slip and sat down on the edge of her friend's bed. The two women had known each other since leaving the academy when they'd both found out they were being assigned to the SGC. "Sam, honey, how much do you remember about what happened when you were.. away?"
Glancing to the Captain quickly, Sam was surprised to see a faint blush had crept up his neck staining his cheeks. "I think I remember almost everything. The only hazy moments were in the last few days when I assume Mal'aya was making plans with Captain O'Neill."
"So.. You're aware of the fact Mal'aya and, ah, Za'red?" Janet paused until she received a confirmation nod from Jack. "You know they were lovers, don't you? That while they occupied your bodies, they.."
"I know," Sam interrupted, her cheeks flushing just as deeply as the Captain's. "I remember that. Mal'aya gave into her feelings after a few weeks." Her lowered gaze shot back up to meet Janet's sympathetic eyes as her brain kicked in and started considering the ramifications. "Are you saying what I think you're saying? That because of what they got up to..?"
Jack's hand crept towards hers again, his fingers flexing nervously as they brushed her skin. "You're pregnant, Carter. That's one of the reasons Mal'aya did what she did. To save the baby."
Withdrawing her hand from his, Sam pressed it against her still flat abdomen, a frown creasing her brow. "But they could've stopped it.. Her child. *Their* child. In me."
"Doc, can we have a minute?" Jack raised an eyebrow and met the doctor's confused gaze with an even expression. "Please?"
"Okay. I'll be in my office if you need me," Janet said warily after pausing for a few seconds, giving her friends arm a gentle squeeze before doing as the Captain asked.
Once she was gone, Jack moved from his seat and sat beside her on the bed, covering her hand with his. "It's our child, too, Carter. I know we didn't.. ah.. go about it in the normal way but we are the parents of this baby. We're the only parents he or she will ever know." She turned her head to look at him but said nothing. "Okay, I know you're probably in shock. You've only just found out while I've had a few days to get used to the idea. Why don't I go back to my bed and you think about it. We can talk again when you've had time to think about it.."
"What is there to think about?" Sam blinked once and stared at him incredulously. "You want to keep the baby. You want to keep the baby. You want to be it's father? It's part Goa'uld, Captain! And part Tok'ra, which may as well be Goa'uld, too! How can you want anything to do with it?"
He managed a one-shouldered shrug in response. "I didn't, at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I saw the baby as being ours. Biologically, we're its parents. Yeah, he or she might be harcesis but we'd deal with that. If you can access Mal'aya's thoughts like I can access what's left of Za'red's, you know the child will still be mostly human and you'll know he or she might not even be any different to any other kid. A Goa'uld and a Tok'ra have never had a child before, not as far as we know.."
"I.. It wouldn't be safe. If other people found out.. it.. wasn't entirely human.." Her eyes were fearful, confused and pleading for reassurance. "I'm no where near ready to be a mother, let alone to a child that's part alien.. Do you have any idea how hard it is to raise a child let alone one that'll need protecting from so many different threats? The NID alone would kill for the chance to study it and I mean that literally. Our who lives would change and I'm not sure if it'd be for the better. Did you take any of that into consideration when you decided it would be fun to play Daddy? Did you realize it would be more than just a temporary thing? That we'd be in this together for a very long time?"
"We can protect him or her with help from the guys here. Together, we can keep her safe from everyone - Kinsey and his damn NID included. What the Goa'uld doesn't know won't hurt them and if Hammond caves to the pressure he's under and tries to establish an alliance with the Tok'ra, we'll see if we can get it included somehow. As for being stuck together.." His confident smile slipped a little. "I'll admit, it's weird to think about having a baby with someone I've not been dating but in other ways, we know each other better than any other partner could. We've been at the SGC together since it opened, working together. We've now been hosts together. I consider you to be a good friend, Sam. I'm not sure if we should build on that but even if we don't, at least our child with have parents who can stand each other."
"But you're already in a relationship," Sam blurted out before she could stop herself. She recalled the disappointment she'd felt months ago when Colonel Cromwell had let it slip the Captain was no longer single - just moments before he'd made her feel even worse by introducing her to the lucky woman in question, a pretty blond who'd hung onto his arm all night. Jack was right when he said they knew each other well but she'd though their friendship had ground to a complete halt after news of his partner had reached her ears. The casual flirting between them had stopped and it was then she'd decided it'd all be in her mind and he'd never seen her as anything other than a geek in a soldier's uniform. "What are you going to tell her? Have you even thought about her?"
Shuffling on the bed, Jack glanced down at where his hand had moved over hers again. "Sara and I broke up a while ago. And it wasn't serious. She couldn't get used to know what I did every day so.." He bit his lip against telling her the break-up had happened shortly after Cromwell had introduced the two ladies in his life, resulting in his still-relatively-new girlfriend demanding he stop working so closely with the striking Lieutenant. Nor did he mention that her jealousy had heightened his already existing aware that Sam couldn't and wouldn't ever be just one of the guys. "What about you? Is there a guy in the picture? Is that why you're reluctant to do this?"
"No. That's not why." She moved her fingers so they entwined briefly with his. "" There's no one in the picture but that's not to say there never will be." Sighing, she shuffled until she was lying down again, giving him a big enough hint that she wanted to go back to sleep. "I'm not making my mind up just yet but if we do go ahead with this, we'll have to set some ground rules. Me carrying your child doesn't automatically mean you have the right to interfere in my life."
"Yes, Ma'am." He gave her a lopsided grin and hopped of the bed, the draw of his own bed proving too tempting to resist. "Get some rest, Carter. You're sleeping for two now."
Sam grunted but said nothing. Jack slipped under the sheets on his bed; thoughts of the new life he'd helped create in some, very unconventional way running through his head, mingling with thoughts on how he could convince her to give him and their child the chance he wanted.
//20th December 1981.
Christmas seems to have crept up on me this year. Guess losing a few months will do that to a person.
I had my first scan of the baby today and it was amazing. Janet did the ultra scan in case there were any abnormalities that were visible on screen but I'm relieved and happy to be able to say there weren't. My baby appears to be perfectly normal and that's all I wanted to know.
Jack was there with me and his face was a picture. I don't think I'll ever forget the look of wonder on his face when the baby moved while we were watching it.
It's still hard to believe that in another six months, give or take a week, I'll be able to hold him or her for the first time. I don't think I've fully accepted the fact that I'm having a baby but I know it's not something I'll regret. All my doubts about keeping this child disappeared when I felt it kick for the first time.
I can't get my head around it, though. That there's actually a life growing inside me is utterly scary and completely awe-inspiring at the same time. And the fact my stomach seems to be getting just that little bit bigger every time I try to find clothes that fit is starting to make it all seem real.
Going back to the topic of Christmas, Jack is insisting we spend it together. He said he never got along well with his parents so he didn't expect an invite and since I have no family to speak of (Mark doesn't count since we haven't talked since Dad died), he's decided we're going to spend it together. Alone together. Which is.. odd. I mean, we've spent time alone together before - and outside of work in recent weeks - but he keeps suggesting we do stuff more often now. I know it's for the baby's benefit but I've got to draw the line somewhere. Having too many hormones buzzing around and being with him so much is driving me mad - and not in a good way. Not when I know he's only concerned for the baby and not for me.
The question is how do I make him feel welcome to get involved in our baby's life while at the same time make sure he knows I don't expect him to play such a big part in mine?//
With wry amusement, Sam watched from the comfort of her couch as Jack stood giving orders to the rest of their teammates and the other hapless officers he'd somehow coerced into helping.
"No! No, no, no! That doesn't go there." The Captain stood with a hand on his hip, frowning at his fellow Captain, Louis Ferretti, as he froze where he was, sparkly purple bauble in hand. "That one needs to go at the top, somewhere near the silver one on the right. You can't put it there."
Ferretti scowled as Sam and Jack did their best to stifle their amusement. "Why not? It's as a good a place as any.."
"It's too near the other purple one," Jack answered decisively before turning his attention to Kawalsky, who was arguing heatedly with Cromwell despite the fact the Colonel was their Commanding Officer. "Guys, guys! Quit it! There'll be no tinsel on my tree and that's the end of it."
"Ah.." Clearing her throat, Sam arched an eyebrow when the sheepish Captain turned to face her. "Whose tree did you say it was?"
"Yours?" Jack did his best to ignore the snickering going on behind him but his face turned at least two shades darker.
"Good, now who's to say I don't want tinsel on *my* tree?" She kept his gaze locked with his, trying not to let Janet's silent giggling prove to be too much of a distraction.
Shuffling on his feet, Jack lowered his gaze to the floor, his voice dropping in volume and sounding almost like a whine. "But tinsel will ruin the tree!"
"Maybe it will but since it's my house and my tree, the choice should be mine." A small smile took the edge off her words and had him blushing for a different reason. "Kawalsky, Colonel, let's save the tinsel debate until the rest of the tree is done, okay? There might not be room for it after everything else is on." At their reluctant nods, Sam glanced back to Jack. "You can finish decorating now."
An eyebrow raised as the others resumed their task of emptying the boxes of decorations scattered around them on the floor. "You're not going to help? Since it is your tree and all?"
Pushing herself up and out of the corner of the couch, Sam put a hand to her back at the slight ache she felt there, grimacing at the thought it would only get worse as time wore on. "I'm going to get something to eat and them I'm gonna kick everyone out so I can rest in peace. So I'd get decorating if you want to be able to finish it on time.."
Feeling his eyes track her every move, Sam sighed internally and sought sanctuary in her kitchen. Predictably, Janet was only a few minutes behind her, still chuckling to herself over the antics of the men they'd left without a chaperone in Sam's living room.
"What is it about Christmas that brings the kid out in everyone?" Janet's smile faded slightly at the frown on her friend's face. "Sam? You okay? Is the baby.."
"The baby's fine, Janet." Sighing heavily, Sam leaned against the counter, hands folded over the small bump at her waist. "It's nothing. I'm just being silly and hormonal."
Unconvinced and slipping into Doctor mode, Janet sat down at the small kitchen, table, motioning for Sam to do the same. "What's wrong?"
Reluctantly sitting next to her, Sam let her chin rest on her hands, elbows propped up on the table. "It's driving me crazy, Janet. Spending so much time with Jack because of the baby. I don't know if I can keep it up anymore."
"He's getting on your nerves? Making you feel smothered?" The confession took Janet by surprise. As far as she'd known, Sam had been enjoying the extra attention the Captain had been showing her. "If you need space, just tell him. I'm sure he'll back off."
"It isn't an issue of space." Burying her head in her hands, Sam muffled a groan. "The problem is that I know he's only doing all of this because of the baby. I don't want him to back off but because my feelings are different to his, I need him to. The thought that all of this is because we made a child while under the influence of aliens, for crying out loud.. He doesn't care about me the way I do him and that's the problem. My hormones are going haywire and it seems my common sense has gone AWOL. That's the problem."
"I hate to be the one to tell you this but that's what happens when you're pregnant. Your common sense doesn't go AWOL, so to speak, it just takes a backseat to your hormones. Especially if you had feelings for the baby's father before getting pregnant by him." The doctor's words were accompanied by a knowing look. "As for how he feels.. You're talking to the wrong person, Sam. Only Jack can tell you if you're alone in that."
Knowing Janet was right, Sam heaved a resigned sigh. She was going to have to bite the metaphorical bulled and confront Jack about his feelings. If she was right and her feelings were unreciprocated, she'd just have to deal with knowing it the best she could.
At least she'd know. No matter what the outcome, at least they'd both know where they stood.
//21st June 1982
Today has been the best day of my life. The hardest, exhausting but ultimately most satisfying day of my life to date - and I doubt anything could ever make it take second place.
My daughter made her first appearance in my life today. My beautiful, miracle child. Jasmine O'Neill, a gorgeous bundle with curious eyes that already has her father and me wrapped around her tiny little finger.
O'Neill, yeah. We decided her surname might as well be O'Neill - we can't have her being left out, can we? In a few months, I'll be an O'Neill myself after all.
Not only did I celebrate Jasmine's birth today and ponder the wonder of creation - yes, it's sappy but today, it's true - Jack chose today of all days to propose.
Our relationship has been progressing steadily for the last few months, since our heart-to-heart - that's why I haven't been writing in here as much as I should have - and we already live together so I guess this is the natural step to take now.
It doesn't make it any less meaningful, though. I don't think I'll ever forget the look on Jack's face as he held our daughter for the first time. Awe, disbelief.. He was as emotional as me and even though I wasn't expecting it, the moment touched me deeply. It was one of those moments I wish could have been caught on camera because I'm afraid that in time I'll forget.
Please God or whoever's up there, don't ever let me forget a single second I lived today - not even the painful ones when Jasmine was actually born.
Everything we've been through, everything we've suffered.. It all became worthwhile today..//
The baby slept in his arms, small and warm and pink in the face. She had the beauty only a newborn could possess, with the slightly wrinkled features and sweet newborn smell.
She was perfect.
Jack swallowed for the tenth time, blinking back tears that continued to form despite his best efforts. He forced his gaze away from his daughter to the woman who'd brought her into the world, the battle to keep his tears at bay becoming harder to win when he took in the tired but content smile that curved her lips.
"Marry me, Sam." The words escaped before his mind could protest but he didn't regret them, even after the fleeting moment of shock he felt when it registered that he'd spoken them aloud. There was nothing to regret; the timing couldn't have been more perfect if he'd planned it.
For several seconds, Sam surveyed him through soft, sleepy eyes. She didn't need to ask if he meant it, she could see it in his face. She didn't even need to think about the answer, her mind had already decided.
A slow smile spread over her face, matching the grin shaping his lips when he saw it and understood what it meant.
Her hand moved to rest on his arm, her eyes locking with his as their daughter slept on oblivious. "Okay."
Jasmine read each and every entry her mother had written, smiling at the ones she'd heard stories about - like her parents wedding, her first birthday - and getting tearful at the ones she could recall her own memories of.
When she got to the year 1990, her smile faded. The entry she'd both been dreading and anticipating stared up at her from the neatly written pages, her desire to read it vying with the coil of fear in the pit of her stomach.
Her breath eased out passed her lips, holding the journal with trembling hands.
//Tuesday 29th September, 1990.
I'm back on Earth, with my daughter, but part of me wishes I wasn't. Does that make me a bad person? A bad mother?
In a way, I would have preferred staying on Edora, even if the planet will never recover from the Goa'uld attack. At least then I wouldn't have to look my daughter in the eye and lie to her when she asks me where her Daddy is and why he won't be coming home. At least then I wouldn't be surrounded by so many memories Jack and I created together.
He's never going to come back to us. I don't know how I know that but I do. I'm never going to see my husband again and Jasmine will never see her father.
Even if he ever comes back, he won't be the same person. He won't be the man I fell in love with or the father Jasmine adores.
He's lost to us now. Lost to the Goa'uld.
And now I'm alone. Lost. Just like my husband.
I don't know what to do. I don't know what to tell Jasmine. I don't know if I can cope.//
I hope you've read everything your mother wrote in these pages and know now that everything she's done, ever decision she ever made, was done with you in mind. I've never known anyone to love someone as deeply as your parents loved each other or as whole-heartedly as they both loved you.
Please don't remember the bad times. Use this journal and your memories to remember the good, to treasure them for all times. I wish you could have stayed with us here, sweetheart, but I have to follow your mother's wishes and do whatever necessary to keep you out of danger.
Take care, Jasmine, and make sure you have a wonderful life, the life your parents dreamed you would have from the moment you were born.
All my love and best wishes,
Unable to keep the tears at bay any longer, Jasmine gave in to the sobs that wracked her slender frame, casting the journal to one side as she sobbed into her pillow. She didn't hear the knock at the door, nor did she hear the sound of the lock being over-ridden by a security card. She only became aware that she wasn't alone when two arms went around her, cradling her like a child as she wept.
"She loved me," she cried into Sam's arms. "I told her I hated her when I didn't and now I won't get to tell her that I don't. I won't get to say sorry."
"She knew, Jasmine," knowing the words wouldn't console her but needing to do something, Sam soothed Jasmine's hair back, rocking her gently. "You don't need to tell her because she knew. She was your Mom. Mom's have a sixth sense about things like that. She knew."
Neither knew how long they stayed like that. Sam lost track of the minutes and the hours, holding Jasmine while trying to determine what it was that had driven her to check up on the young woman. She had been trying and failing to get to sleep, her head full of the disturbing images she'd brought back through the Mirror with her.
It was an instinct, she supposed, that had led her to the VIP quarters Jasmine was staying in and it was the sound of muffled crying that had encouraged her to override the lock on the door and go in.
Whatever the reason, Sam was glad she was there for the young woman in her hour of need. She eased Jasmine back against the pillows after she'd cried herself to sleep, tenderly tucking the blankets around her fragile body. Putting the journal aside, Sam quietly left the room, shutting and securing the door behind her.
She walked through the quiet corridors towards her own quarters, startled out of her thoughts when she walked into someone after rounding a corner.
"I'm sorry, I wasn't looking where I was going.."
"Carter?" The sound of his voice was enough to make her jump backwards as though she'd been burnt. "You okay?"
Fully prepared to lie, the words died on her lips when Sam looked up into his eyes. "Not really, Sir."
"You want to talk about it?" Jack's voice matched the concern she could see in his expression, his gaze fixing her to the spot.
She hesitated, torn between wanting to say yes and wanting to get as far away from him as possible. In the end, her mouth grew tired of waiting for her mind to decide and spoke for itself. "There's nothing to talk about. Nothing we can say will make it all right again. Nothing will make Jasmine feel better or change what's happened to her."
"No, it won't, but talking might make you feel better. It helps to get things off your chest.. mind.. Helps to get things off your mind." Even the way he stumbled over his words didn't make her smile. "Seriously, Carter. It might help.."
"I doubt it, Colonel, but thanks for the offer." Sam forced the smallest of smiles and made a move to walk passed him and continue on her way. His hand on her arm, however, stopped her from going anywhere. "Sir?"
Jack opened his mouth to speak but paused, his lips slightly parted as though he was going to say something but hadn't decided what. When he did speak, his words came out in a rush, his eyes lowering to her shoulders instead of being fixed on his. "I know it's not a good time to bring it up but.. What we were talking about.. Before this whole thing started.."
"It's not a good idea, Sir," she cut him off before he could continue, afraid he was going to make things awkward on them both by saying too much. "Given all the evidence.. I'm not sure it'll ever be a good idea."
"Ever..?" Disbelief and hurt flashed briefly across his face before it replaced by a look of surprised understanding. "Because of what happened with them..?"
"Every time.. It always ends badly, Colonel. In all the instances we know about, it ends with one or both of us dying." Her choice of words left no doubt in either of their minds what it was they were discussing. "What if that's how it's meant to turn out? What if it happens here?"
Shaking his head, Jack found he could quite look her in the eye. "It's only fishing, Carter. It's not like it's.. anything else."
"It's something we need to think about, Sir." The touch of her hand on his arm had his gaze lifting till it reluctantly clashed with hers. "The possibility, the risk.. Is it one you really want to take?"
Almost a full minute passed with no words exchanged.
'It won't always end that way.'
Eventually, Jack cleared his throat and broke eye contact, looking at the empty corridor over her shoulder. "It's late, Major. You need to get some sleep. See you in the morning." He nodded ever so slightly and walked off before she could return the sentiment.
Sam stood alone in the corridor for a while, her own thoughts and feelings in turmoil, her mind struggling furiously to catch up with all that had happened in such a short space of time.
In the end, she gave up trying to make sense of it all and completed the journey to her quarters, lying on her bed and staring up at the pale gray ceiling, feeling as lost as another child stranded in a world full of strangers, hoping that a happier ending would someday come.
End of story