I feel old. So old.

And seeing them again doesn't make that feeling any easier to bear. Seeing them bright and fresh, fit and healthy... and young. And seeing how easy they are with one another, just as friendly as always, far less formal now that any and all rigors of military protocol are gone.

Suddenly, sitting there in a room where I spent more time then I did in my own home, with people who had been my closest friends before becoming undeclared enemies, I realize how much I've missed out on. I don't mean the anti-aging, anti-cancer, anti-life treatments that the Aschen BESTOWED upon them all. I mean the lost years, the missed opportunities, the wasted time. Could my friendship with Daniel have deepened and flourished to the point of being a BEST friend? Could I have had a hand in helping Teal'c, wherever he is, acclimate to a planet of people that didn't know what to make of him? Could I have gotten past seeing Frasier as the Dreaded Infirmary Warden and come to think of her as just Janet? And... could I have stopped... certain things from happening?

At one point I would have said that these 'would have, could have's are utterly pointless, but they're not anymore, are they? If we do this, and we succeed, everything goes back to the way it was ten years ago: when the Gou'ald were our biggest problem, I wasn't QUITE so old, and life was good and full of promise for the future.

The future.

There are no guarantees that things will end up any better the second time around, of course. It's completely possible that the 'old SG-1', as I've come to think of them, will still meet the Aschen, even if they don't go to P4C-970... maybe it's just our destiny, something impossible to avoid. Maybe we'll find them somewhere else, or they'll find us, and they'll be just as charming and generous and charismatic as before, and although my instincts will be screaming that they shouldn't be trusted, my instincts will go ignored. My opinions disregarded. My worries brushed aside with little more then a patronizing chuckle. I'll go off in a huff, Daniel will become the golden child of the archeological community, Teal'c will become a curiosity, Frasier will become obsolete, and Carter will marry her dear, DEAR ambassador. And then, one perfectly bright and sunny day in the year 2010, she'll show up on my doorstep, speaking of mistakes and making things right, I'll brush her off... but mere hours later I'll be in Colorado again. Waiting for her.

It gives me a headache just thinking about it.

Suffice it to say... everything could turn out exactly the same, our effort here proved pointless; we'd probably only succeed in getting ourselves stuck in some damn time loop or paradox or something...

It's something no one wants to mention. Like saying it aloud will make it come true.

* * *

I feel guilty, but I'm not sure why.

It isn't as though I don't have plenty of options, plenty of reasons why just looking at Jack should make me want to cringe. He was RIGHT, after all. All this time that we thought he was jealous and paranoid and, well, insane, he was right about the Aschen. And we were wrong. All the spiteful, condescending and contemptuous things we said to him, about how the Aschen were the answer to our prayers, and how he was just being foolish, we were the ones who were leading the planet towards its own destruction.

To be honest, I'd always just thought that it had been the military man in Jack that hadn't been able to declare victory. Despite what cracks he might make about Colonel Samuel's outlook on life, Jack wasn't what one would call the world's greatest optimist. I suppose after being disappointed so often in your life, positive outcomes are something to be rightfully skeptical of, but that skepticism came at a point in time where all the rest of us wanted to do was celebrate. For four years, we'd been living in a nightmare. The Gou'ald had been our nightmare. And then suddenly we were awake, seeing that there had never been any real threat, just phantasms and unfounded fears easily banished in the morning light.

Little did we know that the REAL monster wasn't part of any sweat-soaked dream, but an element of real, honest to God life. Evil hiding in the sunshine instead of the shadows.

But the fact that we were duped so utterly and completely isn't the source of my guilt. The source of my guilt doesn't lie in the past, but in the present. In the anger I'd felt when Sam had told us that Jack had refused her plea for help, and the thoughts I'd had about him then. That he deserved his self-imposed isolation, deserved to be where and who he was, even if he HAD been right, deserved to lose us all over again. To lose Sam.

Didn't he realize what we were offering here? I'd furiously pondered. Not just a way to stop the takeover of Earth, which wouldn't even directly affect him, as he had refused the anti-aging vaccine. Not just a way to stop the Aschen ten years too late, but a way to undo the last decade and everything in it. For God's sake, we were offering him another chance... with Sam. Without the Aschen there would be no falling out, no making-public of the Stargate Program, no meetings between the Aschen representatives and President Kinsey, and therefore no reason for Sam and Joe, Kinsey's dutiful spokesperson, to ever meet.

I won't say it out loud, of course, because doubtlessly Sam is still certain that she married her husband for love and that their love is still strong. Strong enough to make up for her regret at losing a future with Jack. The former may be true, I don't know. The latter is most definitely false. False with a passion. False with vigor.

They're unhappy, that's the important part. No flush of domesticated devotion colors Sam's cheeks when she speaks of Joe. Time alone at his cabin has given Jack a tan but nothing else. They deserve to be happy. They deserve a second chance. We all do.

* * *

I feel young. Foolish. Impetuous.


The rest of the universe has moved forward as I've stood still. I haven't learned, I haven't grown. What I've spent the last eight or nine years trying to convince myself of - that I have a good, worthwhile life - is a lie that's embarrassing in its sudden transparency. Everything in my life today is a second-best. My home, my job.

My husband.

And now here I find myself, ten years after the crucial decision, and I find that I can't live with the choice that I made. I want to unmake it. I want a re-do. A do-over. I'm the petulant teen who finds out too late that her parents, in their infinite wisdom, were right. I'm the twenty-something who laughs in the face of mortality, believes life goes on forever, and feels that fate is no more inflexible than a rubber band.

I can try and tell myself that I'm not doing this for me - not rending the fabric of time and space simply on the chance that it will help an alternate Sam Carter sleep better at night - because what we will do will save the human race, on Earth, as we know it. But as we plan our method of attack, with all the thoughtfulness and brash stratagem of an SG-1 tactic, my traitorous thoughts turn time and again to my own personal gain.

They turn to Joe, too. How can they not? How can I not wonder what this alternate world will be for him? Will he continue to work for Kinsey... will he rise to great heights, Aschen or no Aschen... will I meet him and fall in love with him just the same... will I really love him this time, instead of just settling for him?

I hope that he'll be happy. I hope that he'll find love and recognize it for what it is. I hope the same for myself.

* * *

I feel like I've missed another memo.

The note in my hand, after all, explains nothing. It's a warning, a prophetic one at that, and if that blood is whose I suspect it is, it's MORBIDLY prophetic. But it explains nothing. In fact, it gives the impression that I'd really rather not know.

I feel as though we've found ourselves at a crossroad, although nothing specific TELLS me that; I just feel as though it's true. The idea that important points in your life are always marked by great tragedy or discovery is a cliché, and a bad one at that. The only ones we remember are the dramatic ones - births and deaths and weddings and the like - but I firmly believe that the most crucial moments of our lives aren't necessarily the most obvious.

As the coordinates are locked out of the dialing computer, a strange sensation passes through me. If emotion could be related to natural phenomenon, this would have been a cool gust of air flitting through layers of clothing, skin, muscle, bone, and internal organs. It's not enough to make me actually shiver, but I do take notice.

What - or who - was on that planet? What would have happened to us if we'd gone there? I suppose we'll never know, but I also suppose that there's nothing to keep it from happening anyway. After all, some people believe that life is nothing more than what we make of it, just a big hunk of clay waiting for our hands to shape it. Others believe that our ultimate path is already foretold to us, already plotted out on a great intergalactic map, and that no amount of struggling can take us off the prescribed course. I don't really know what I believe. I guess it just depends on how I feel that day.

The note is taken away to be analyzed, but the feeling does not leave me. Even if the dangers that message warned us against do still come to pass, we'd never know it. I guess that's what gets me: the not knowing. I suppose it would have been too easy for this other me to spell it out in black and white "Don't go to planet X, there's aliens there who'll take over Earth. And by the way, here's who won the 2001 World Series..."

But maybe it's better this way. Maybe if specifics had been laid out for us - names, dates, details - it would have given us a false sense of security and we would have gone anyway, confident that we could mold the situation for our own benefit now that we knew what to expect. And maybe that vainglory would be all that was needed to open the same gates of hell all over again. By staying enigmatic, the writer of that note - that other me - knew that our own wild imaginations would provide more discouragement than a hundred pages of facts and figures ever could.

But it could still happen.

It's something no one wants to mention. Like saying it aloud will make it come true.

~ FINI ~

You must login (register) to review.