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Fanfiction: The Right Thing

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S6 Prometheus/Unnatural Selection
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sam/Jack UST. Jonas/Sam friendship.  Jack/Daniel friendship.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

The Right Thing


General Hammond placed the red phone back into its cradle before he released the pent-up sigh of frustration he had been holding at bay. He rubbed a hand over his bald pate and massaged the thick back of his neck where a ball of tension had knotted his muscles into a hell of a headache.

What a mess.

The hijacking of the X303 had created the expected political firestorm among those who knew of the existence of the Stargate. The President had been forced to defend the decision to allow the news crew access; had been forced to defend the actions of the SGC’s personnel in allowing the spacecraft to be stolen – as though Major Carter or Jonas Quinn had stood a chance of foiling what had clearly been a highly organised and orchestrated incursion. The reports of what they had done to slow down the hijackers and keep Julia Donovan safe were remarkable in Hammond’s opinion and he’d said so. He’d also stressed that the rest of SG1’s rescue attempt had been key to them successfully taking back the ship. Remarkable didn’t even begin to cover it.

Fortunately, the clear evidence of the rogue NIDs involvement had helped to ease tempers over leaked information and the hijacking. Kinsey, in particular, had gone quiet. Hammond wasn’t going to lose sleep over the reported deaths of Adrian Conrad and Colonel Simmons. One had conspired to abduct and experiment on Samantha Carter and the other had tried taking down SG1 and the SGC by any means he could, regardless of legality or ethics. Hammond had been privately informed by the President that Agent Barrett had been tasked to investigate the hijacking from inside the NID. His gaze slid to his desk drawer where he kept a disc which held incriminating evidence against Kinsey. He could hand it over...but he hoped he wouldn’t need to; hoped he would be able to keep the SGC out of the political maelstrom that would happen when the rogue elements were finally brought to task.

And he had enough trouble, Hammond reminded himself, with advising the President about the international furore that had arisen with the hijacking. At least, the Russians were satisfied that they had known of the X303, and although Colonel Chekov had smugly made a couple of comments regarding the security capabilities of the US, he had otherwise been supportive. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said of the Chinese who were demanding answers to witness accounts of a UFO in the Nevada sky; of satellite imagery of it in orbit.

And it wasn’t just the Chinese; the British and the French were also demanding answers. Hammond didn’t think cover stories were going to cut it with their allies – especially since they had sceptically and grudgingly only just accepted the last one of yet another meteor impact. Kinsey had suggested it was time to disclose the existence of the Programme to their allies and the President was considering it. Hammond had his doubts. He wasn’t sure the rest of the world was ready to know the truth; there were days he doubted he was ready.

Then there were the more pressing problems of restocking the SGCs store-rooms and armouries to replace the supplies that Thor had taken. Hammond wasn’t convinced by the Pentagon’s assurances of fast-tracked requisition forms. It had been almost twenty-four hours and he’d had to ration weapons and munitions for gate room personnel. Three off-world missions had been delayed as a result. Food was also a pressing concern; rations had been ordered there too along with a plea to the catering staff to do the best they could with what they had. At least, the Air Force Academy and nearby hospital had been ordered to send over some supplies. Hopefully, they would have enough to last until the replacements turned up.

A loud knock on the briefing room door disturbed his thinking. He glanced across to the internal window and caught sight of the reporter being shown to the table. ‘Come.’

Major Paul Davis entered. ‘We’re ready for you, sir.’

Hammond sighed and reached for the folder Davis offered to him. He glanced at its contents, confirming the release of information and the deal they would offer Julia Donovan matched that the President had outlined on the call. He glanced up at Davis, noting the other man’s fatigue and tensed jaw. Davis had ostensibly been in charge of the security checks on the news crew and the negotiation with the hijackers. The hijacking would leave a black mark on his record regardless of the circumstances. Hammond grimaced. Maybe he’d try and speak with General Vidrine on the matter; Davis was a good officer.

Hammond closed the report and got to his feet. Davis followed him out of the office. Hammond couldn’t prevent the quick check to ensure that the window to the Stargate was covered. Despite everything Donovan had seen and was about to be told, Hammond preferred to show her as little as possible.

Julia Donovan stood up as he approached and he was struck at how lovely she was in person; a tall, no-nonsense blonde with a business-like handshake and a sombre air as he indicated for her to take a seat. She suited the blue BDUs she was wearing; they lent her an air of authority, but he could see the faint shadows under her eyes and white stress lines around her mouth. She was anxious despite her outward confidence.

He placed the folder down in front of him and clasped his hands on top of it, aware that Davis had sat to his left, opposite Donovan on his right. He turned his attention to the reporter. ‘I apologise for making you wait, Ms Donovan.’

She held up a hand and glanced at the SF behind her. ‘Am I a prisoner here, General?’

‘I would prefer you consider yourself our guest.’ Hammond said.

‘So I am a prisoner.’ Donovan responded smartly.

‘Ms. Donovan, there are some things we need to discuss,’ Hammond said, ‘after which you will be escorted back to Washington and allowed to resume your normal life.’

‘You’re just letting me go?’

Donovan seemed sceptical and he couldn’t blame her. ‘I need to remind you that you’re still bound by the confidentiality agreement you signed before boarding the X303.’

She folded her arms over her blue shirt and looked at him bemused. ‘That agreement was based on my getting exclusive access to the Prometheus project.’

‘And you can appreciate why we can no longer honour that.’ Hammond said firmly. ‘Your own editor conspired to hijack the X303 for nefarious purposes.’

A flicker of grief, hurt and regret flooded her expressive features. ‘I can’t be held responsible for Al’s actions.’

‘And believe me, we’re satisfied that you were as hoodwinked by him as we were.’ Hammond stated. ‘If we weren’t, you can be assured we wouldn’t be having this conversation.’ He nodded at Davis.

‘The President appreciates that the original agreement is no longer possible.’ Davis said.

‘Why?’ Donovan asked. ‘I can get another news crew together; we can document the Prometheus project as agreed.’

‘That would be difficult,’ Hammond said, ‘given the X303, the Prometheus, is no longer in this galaxy.’

Donovan’s mouth fell open slightly.

‘We’re prepared to offer you a new deal.’ Davis inserted.

‘Which is?’ Donovan pressed.

‘An exclusive interview with the President and special access to him throughout the next year in the run up to the election.’ Davis explained shortly.

Donovan gestured at the room. ‘And I’m supposed to forget that I’ve seen all this.’

Hammond’s brief glance toward Davis stopped him from saying anything. ‘Ms Donovan, if you choose to breech the confidentiality agreement we can’t stop you but as you’ve seen, there are rogue elements that exist who would not think twice about silencing you and I’m afraid we cannot guarantee your safety.’ He pressed his lips together. He didn’t think she needed to know she wouldn’t be the first reporter the rogue NID had killed.

She rubbed her nose as though considering her options. ‘You know if someone told me a week ago that Prometheus was a spaceship and we had aliens living on Earth, I wouldn’t have believed them.’

Hammond stayed quiet, allowing her the time to make her decision.

‘Even if I went public, I’m not sure anyone would believe me,’ she admitted, ‘and even if they did; I’m not sure the world is ready for...this.’ She gave a throaty laugh which hovered on the hysterical. ‘I’m not sure I’m ready.’

Hammond considered his earlier thoughts and gave an understanding, sympathetic smile.

‘I’ll agree to the deal.’ Donovan said. ‘With one additional condition.’

‘And that would be?’ Davis asked, leaning across the table.

She leaned forward. ‘When this thing does go public, I want first dibs, exclusive access; the works.’

Hammond looked with interest from Donovan to Davis and back again. They seemed to be engaged in a mutual staring match. His lips twitched with amusement and he suppressed the urge to smile. He cleared his throat. ‘I’m sure something could be worked out.’

Both of them turned to look at him before darting glances back at each other.

‘Fine.’ Donovan said. ‘Then we have a deal.’

Hammond stood up, waiting until Donovan and Davis were also on their feet before he held out his hand to the reporter. She shook it firmly.

‘General,’ Donovan said hesitantly, ‘I just wanted...can you thank Jonas and, uh, Major Carter and the others for me? I know I owe them my life.’

‘I’ll be happy to pass on your regards.’ Hammond said, his pale blue eyes warming with appreciation. He gestured at her. ‘I want you to know an Air Force psychiatrist will be made available to you...’

‘No. Thanks.’ Donovan waved a hand at him. ‘I’m not really into shrinks.’

‘Well, you’ll be given a number to call in case you change your mind.’ Hammond said. What she had seen and been through was tough for anyone to handle. ‘The guard will show you to some quarters; you should find your civilian clothing has been laundered. You may want to change before Major Davis escorts you back to Washington.’

Both Donovan and Davis started.

Donovan smiled grimly at the Major. ‘Well, then, I look forward to the flight.’ She turned and the guard escorted her out.

Davis shifted beside Hammond. ‘Sir?’

Hammond pointed at his office and he led the way into the room. He gestured for Davis to take a seat. ‘The President is considering disclosing the Stargate programme to our allies.’

‘I see, sir.’ Davis sighed. ‘I guess they’re not going for the cover story.’

‘I can’t say I blame them.’ Hammond said, taking his seat and leaning back into the warmth of the firm leather. ‘Regardless, the Joint Chiefs believe you would be best placed in Washington to assist in the discussions.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Davis said crisply. ‘Then with your permission?’

‘A moment, Major.’ Hammond leaned forward. ‘Paul, I want you to know you still have the full confidence of this command. What happened with the X303 was unforeseeable and I fully intend to state as much in my report, son.’

‘It means a lot that you would say that to me, sir.’ Davis said gruffly.

Hammond nodded. ‘Dismissed, Major.’

Davis came awkwardly to attention and turned smartly to leave.

‘Paul.’ Hammond called out bringing Davis to a halt with one hand on the door he had just opened. ‘You may also want to consider giving Ms Donovan a break on the flight to Washington. She has been through a lot in the last few days.’

Davis nodded reluctantly. ‘I’ll keep that in mind, General.’

Hammond waved Davis out. He sat down and added the folder to the stack to his right. He pulled another from the stack on his left and began to read. He paused and looked up.

Worry about SG1 flickered through him. Were they OK? Would they be successful against the Replicators given the Asgard hadn’t been able to stop them? Would they return? He rubbed the slim pen between his fingers. He had to believe they would. His lips firmed and he returned to his work.

He couldn’t believe anything else.

o-O-o

The click-clack of the metal spiders filled the corridor, a strange rhythmic beat under the melody of the gunfire. Jack O’Neill held his position and kept firing. Anger and panic tightened his chest, made his breathing choppy. He had a team-mate trapped in the gate room with a psychotic robot whose toys were threatening to take over the base.

The sound of the torch being extinguished had him turning, marching back as Siler punched the metal hole through the door.

Jack stormed inside, his gun already aimed...the single shot was all he needed. It impacted the facsimile of a human sending it to the floor; it was dead.

His team-mate turned to him, blue eyes flashing angrily. ‘You stupid son of a bitch!’

Jack stared at Samantha Carter. She glared back at him; hurt, anger and disappointment in her eyes. He looked down and blinked at the body of Fifth, a gaping hole in his chest where the bullet had impacted. ‘OK.’ He ran a hand through his hair. ‘Something’s wrong with this picture.’

Yep.’ Daniel Jackson’s voice sounded wryly behind Jack.

He turned and took in his friend’s glowing form. ‘Are you here or is this a dream?’

I’m definitely here.’ Daniel replied, pushing his hands into the pockets of the white pants he was wearing.

Jack breathed a sigh of relief.

In your dream.’ Daniel finished.

Jack glowered as Daniel smirked at him. His friend sat down on the metal ramp of the Stargate and gestured back toward Carter and Fifth who seemed to be miraculously frozen.

Want to talk about it?’

Jack’s eyebrows shot up. ‘If this is my dream, why would you be asking me if I want to talk about it?’ He demanded, waving his gun. ‘Wouldn’t I already know I don’t want to talk about it?’

Or maybe your subconscious mind knows you want to talk about it and knows I’m one of the few people who you’d talk about it with.’ Daniel wrinkled his nose and shrugged his shoulders.

Jack frowned but he walked across and sat down beside Daniel. ‘There’s nothing to talk about it.’

Right.’ Daniel murmured. ‘Because it’s not like you feel guilty.’

I don’t!’ Jack denied furiously. He fidgeted as Daniel remained silent. ‘I did the right thing.’

Daniel looked at him.

I did.’ Jack insisted.

I’m apparently not the one you think you need to convince.’ Daniel pointed to Carter.

Jack’s eyes darted to her before he looked away, his gaze falling to the concrete floor. ‘She understands.’

I didn’t.’ Daniel said. ‘Not in the heat of the moment.’

Jack put the gun down and tugged at his laces. ‘You’re not military.’

Why did you do it?’ Daniel asked bluntly.

I couldn’t take the risk of those...things getting free of the time dilation.’ Jack responded immediately. ‘Any of them.’

So you wouldn’t have taken Fifth even if he had been able to leave without the others knowing.’ Daniel stated.

He’s not some harmless puppy!’ Jack got to his feet and paced away from the ramp. ‘He was a threat.’

Like Reese.’

Yes, damn it!’ Jack whirled back around and thrust his hand out toward the fallen human Replicator. ‘Like Reese.’

Did you even try talking him to Jack?’ Daniel stood up.

Jack pointed a finger at the archaeologist. ‘Don’t start that bull with me, Daniel.’ He gestured at Fifth. ‘He wasn’t human. He was just a human shaped Replicator.’

Who wanted to learn to be human.’ Daniel rejoined.

He wasn’t Pinocchio!’ Jack said loudly. ‘He and his buddies stuck their hands in our heads, Daniel, and let me tell you they didn’t care about humanity.’ He swallowed hard as the memory of reliving the worst moment of his life flickered through his head again. How many times had First made him relive it? He’d lost count; he’d just been determined the bastard wasn’t getting anything from him.

You trapped them because you wanted revenge for them hurting you.’

The note of accusation pissed him off. Jack’s eyes snapped up to Daniel’s. ‘Hey, you weren’t there! You don’t know what they did.’ He stopped and glared at Daniel. ‘Although let’s face it, even if you had been there, you probably wouldn’t have stopped it.’ The words tumbled out of him as he waved at Daniel wildly. ‘Just like you didn’t stop me getting tortured to death by Ba’al, over and over.’

Daniel frowned and his blue eyes gleamed with contrition. ‘You don’t think I regret not doing something sooner than I did?’

The two of them stood in silence for a long moment.

Jack took a deep breath to ease the tightness in his chest. ‘Yeah, well, you did something eventually.’ He admitted grudgingly.

Daniel grimaced.

And you were there for me.’ Jack continued. ‘I might have, maybe, appreciated that.’ His eyes fell away from Daniel’s.

I swear I would have been there this time too,’ Daniel began hesitantly, ‘but the time dilation distorted everything across the Ascended plane in this galaxy.’

Jack looked at him questioningly.

I can’t explain it.’ Daniel folded his arms over his chest in a move so familiar Jack hurt watching it.

Jack sighed. His eyes drifted back to the tableau of Carter and Fifth. ‘You would found another option.’

You could have given him the choice.’ Daniel said quietly. ‘You could have asked him to stay behind; to let you and the others leave. You could have promised to have the Asgard look into a way of saving him.’

And if he’d refused?’ Jack countered. ‘If he’d said he wouldn’t go along with that, you think he would have still trusted Carter and me to give us a head start?’ He sighed as he stared at the frozen image of Fifth. ‘There was too much at stake to risk it, Daniel.’ He pressed his lips together. ‘I did the right thing.’

Then I guess you have your answer...’

Jack’s eyes flew open.

The dream flickered in his head like a fading movie picture before it disappeared leaving only a vague dissatisfaction in its wake. He rubbed a hand over his face.

He eased into a sitting position. They’d set up one of the storage rooms as quarters. They’d padded the hard floor with sleeping bags and blankets in lieu of beds. He had to mention that to Thor for the next time, Jack thought as he pushed the heels of his hands into his sleep-sore eyes. They were still waiting to rendezvous with the Asgard and maintaining a steady course homeward in the meantime.

Jack reached for a water bottle and poured a good gulp down his throat. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and replaced the top on the bottle, throwing it down as he got to his feet and stretched.

The door opened and Teal’c entered. The Jaffa nodded at him as though unsurprised to see Jack on his feet and made for his own pallet.

‘Everything OK?’ Jack asked briskly.

‘Major Carter and Jonas Quinn remain on the bridge.’ Teal’c confirmed. ‘I am in need of kel no reem.’

Jack nodded, taking in the Jaffa’s tired, lined face. They hadn’t spoken about the torture the Replicators had put everyone through – they’d all claimed not to remember much. They were all lying, Jack mused. He waved at his friend. ‘I’ll leave you to it.’

Teal’c sank to the floor, sitting with remarkable ease in a cross-legged position that left Jack slightly envious. ‘O’Neill.’

Jack turned as he reached the door and looked over at Teal’c questioningly.

‘I would have made the same decision.’ Teal’c said firmly. His dark eyes glittered with understanding.

Unaccountably, Jack felt the urge to bawl his eyes out; his breath catching in his chest. He gave another sharp nod and left before he ended up weeping all over Teal’c. The mental image that thought brought to mind raised a reluctant smile as he took a moment in the corridor outside to collect himself; to lose the emotion that had risen up so unexpectedly.

He was just tired, Jack thought determinedly. Between the Prometheus being stolen by Colonel Simmons – and Jack wasn’t going to lose sleep about tossing that guy’s ass out of an airlock – and the Asgard’s mission with the Replicators...it had been a tough couple of days – or week depending on where they were in the whole time dilation, relativity thing.

The situation with the Prometheus had been bad enough. He’d known it was a bad idea letting a camera crew on board. It had been an insane decision. Not to mention that the revelation that it had all been a set-up to free Simmons and Conrad had been galling.

He’d almost lost Carter.

Again.

And Jonas, Jack quickly added onto the thought. He’d almost lost Jonas too...although the kid hadn’t been trapped on the wrong part of the Prometheus when the ship had been taken into orbit.

He was tired of pretending he didn’t feel anything for her, Jack mused as he made along to the bridge, but it wasn’t as though he had a choice. He couldn’t look at her with the open adoration that had been on Fifth’s face...

He stopped abruptly.

Jack shook himself slightly. He wasn’t jealous of Fifth; he wasn’t. And that had not, absolutely not, been the reason why he’d left him behind. Yes, he’d taken advantage of the guy, of the guy’s feelings for Carter, but it was because it had been the right thing to do to make sure the universe was safe from the Replicators...if one of those monsters had gotten free...it didn’t bear thinking about.

Which didn’t explain the guilt that sat heavily in his gut and the sense that he had disappointed Carter.

Jack grimaced. It didn’t matter if he had. He was her CO; it had been his decision to make and if she didn’t like it, well, that was just tough. It didn’t matter what she felt about him on a personal level just because he loved her; always would despite their ranks and working relationship. He sighed. Maybe if he said it enough times, he’d actually begin to believe it one day.

o-O-o

Jonas fiddled with a button before he gave up the pretence of actually doing anything useful. He stretched; his arms ached heavily and his whole body felt like it had gone a couple of rounds with Teal’c in the boxing ring. He tried and failed to stifle the yawn that opened his mouth wide across his face.

‘You should get some sleep.’ Sam’s quiet admonishment had Jonas turning to look at her. She sat at the pilot’s console of the Prometheus. She was busily tapping commands into the computer, apparently running simulations on the hyperdrive engines the Goa’uld had completed.

‘I’m good.’ Jonas said, belatedly responding to her comment.

Sam glanced across at him and raised a single elegant eyebrow in a remarkable imitation of their Jaffa team-mate but she didn’t question his decision to stay on the bridge. Perhaps she was grateful for the company, Jonas mused, or maybe she just understood his reluctance to go to sleep following the torture the Replicators had inflicted. He shuddered slightly against the image they had created of his home planet exploding because of the naquadria bomb he had helped to build. He shook himself as though trying to shake the image out of his head completely. Nope. He was not looking forward to going to sleep.

Of course, it had been his fault that they’d had a second hand-in-the-head experience. He’d been the one to suggest that they should talk with them; that they could perhaps negotiate with the human form Replicators. And he’d been wrong. The Colonel’s instinct had been right; they were too dangerous.

Except Fifth.

Jonas’s mouth twisted and his eyes sneaked back to Sam. He felt guilty about Fifth and he figured Sam felt the same. She’d backed him up when he’d complained about the way the Colonel had used the guy to facilitate their escape. Fifth was different from the others; he had been worth saving. Jonas shifted in his seat; restless.

Maybe, truthfully, he also identified with Fifth a little. Fifth was out of place among his own people just as Jonas had been out of place among his at the end. Fifth had wanted to help SG1 so had Jonas. Maybe some of his discomfort was the thought that the Colonel could have considered him as expendable as Fifth. And maybe the more disturbing thought was that he did.

Jonas blinked rapidly and widened his eyes, shaking himself again. He was very tired if he was allowing his thoughts to drift in that direction. The SG1 team leader might have considered Fifth expendable but then he’d also made a clear distinction that Fifth wasn’t human – which was a whole other philosophical debate that Jonas determined he probably shouldn’t initiate with the Colonel until the events of the mission were far behind them.

No, the Colonel didn’t consider Jonas expendable; Jonas was reasonably certain of that. Their relationship had even changed from the stiff awkwardness and formality that had tinged Jonas’s early days on SG1. The Colonel had personally given him weapons training on their way to the planet; he’d teased him over ice-cream. More, the fact that Jonas had felt he could approach the Colonel with his opinion, that the Colonel had made some attempt to listen to him...that was a huge step forward. Of course it had helped that Sam had backed him up.

Jonas looked over at her again. She seemed so immersed in her work and she had to be as tired as he was. He cleared his throat. ‘Sam...’

‘Hmmm?’ She replied, her eyes pinned to the monitor.

‘I just, uh, wanted to say thank you.’

Her eyes turned to his questioningly, and a small frown indicated her confusion.

He waved at her. ‘For agreeing with me about Fifth.’

She stilled before resuming her work. ‘We did use Fifth’s humanity against him.’

Jonas heard the self-recrimination in her voice. ‘It wasn’t your fault.’

‘Yes, it was.’ Sam corrected. ‘I made him a promise and I was the one who betrayed him – I entered the time parameters.’

Jonas wondered what he could say. ‘From what you and the Colonel told us, you were following his order.’

She sighed. ‘That’s not an excuse, Jonas. I should have thought of something else. I should have given the Colonel another option. Daniel would have...’ she cut herself off abruptly.

A wave of understanding flooded Jonas. He’d spent quite a time feeling completely inadequate in comparison to the former member of SG1. He still did but he was working on it. He’d come to realise constantly comparing himself to Doctor Jackson was a futile exercise. He had to be himself. He bit his lip considering whether to share any of his own experience with Sam.

‘Was there another option?’ He asked instead.

Sam’s eyes darted to him.

Jonas shrugged. ‘As much as I hate to admit it, I can’t think of one.’

‘Neither can I.’ Sam admitted.

‘But you think Doctor Jackson would have thought of something.’ Jonas stated, trying to keep his own emotions from bleeding through into the words.

Evidently, it didn’t work as well as he hoped because she looked at him with more sympathy than he was comfortable with. ‘Daniel has this talent for thinking outside of the box.’ She said hesitantly. ‘I keep thinking he would have found some way of talking to Fifth that I didn’t that would have made the difference; like he did with Reese.’

‘I guess there are some similarities in what happened.’ Jonas murmured, thinking back to the journal he’d read. Daniel had stated that he had felt he had betrayed Reese; he had promised to protect her, a mere instant before the Colonel had shot her down. He’d written that he’d only needed another minute. And that was all that Fifth had needed; another minute – to join them, for Sam to have thought of something else maybe.

‘It’s weird, you know.’ Sam said. ‘Daniel and I used to have this argument all the time about what was a life form especially about robots and other forms of artificial life.’

‘You didn’t believe Reese was a life form?’ Jonas asked, slightly surprised.

‘I didn’t.’ Sam agreed. ‘She was a robot; an incredibly sophisticated imitation of human life but she was a robot. Her actions...all her decisions were made in line with her programming. There was something...a coldness about her that gave her away.’ She stared out of the forward windshield. ‘And with the other human form Replicators, I could feel that same coldness, you know.’

‘But not with Fifth.’

‘No.’ Sam said. ‘Not with Fifth.’ She sighed. ‘I keep telling myself that I have to remember the Colonel was right; he wasn’t human.’

‘And that made him less worthy of saving?’ Jonas winced; he hadn’t meant it to sound so accusing.

‘No,’ Sam said, ‘but it made him dangerous, Jonas.’ She turned back to her work station and began tapping in instructions again. ‘Even if we had saved him, he was still a Replicator. He had their innate programming which is to replicate. How long before he created a toy to keep himself company?’

And the Replicators they and the Asgard had worked so hard to contain would be reborn, Jonas concluded. ‘But if he was developing humanity, maybe the Replicators he created would too.’

‘We couldn’t take that risk and even if they were more human in nature, does that really make them less dangerous?’ Sam said.

She had a point, Jonas mused. Humans weren’t exactly the most peaceful of species.

‘The Colonel did the right thing. He made the only decision he could that kept us and the Asgard safe.’

‘Because there was no other option.’ Jonas restated sadly. Maybe the Colonel had made the right decision.

Sam nodded.

The yawn caught him by surprise, distorting his face as he gulped in oxygen.

‘Go and get some rest, Jonas.’ Sam said. She caught his eye and attempted a half-smile. ‘That’s an order.’

Jonas got to his feet reluctantly.

‘There are some sedatives in the medkit Thor beamed aboard if you have troubling falling asleep.’ Sam said. His eyes shot to her but her attention was focused on the monitor.

‘Thanks.’ He stepped away from his chair and walked out of the bridge. He almost ran into the Colonel just outside of the doorway. He stumbled to a halt just in front of him and wondered briefly at the impression that the other man had been hovering there for some time before dismissing it.

‘You headed for some shut-eye?’ Jack asked briskly.

Jonas nodded.

‘You might want to be quiet when you go in; Teal’c’s doing his thing.’ Jack warned as he moved past him.

‘Colonel...’ Jonas called out.

Jack looked over his shoulder questioningly.

‘About before...what I said. I just wanted...’ Jonas gestured at him awkwardly. ‘I’m sorry we couldn’t give you another option.’

The Colonel’s lips twisted, and Jonas suspected again that his team leader been eavesdropping when he only gave a brief nod of acknowledgement. ‘Get some sleep, Jonas.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Jonas watched as the Colonel disappeared onto the bridge. He grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck tiredly as he made his way to their sleeping quarters. He wondered if he could have made the same decision as the Colonel...and was incredibly pleased that he didn’t have to bear that responsibility.

o-O-o

Sam adjusted the parameters of the simulation and frowned. It looked as though the Goa’uld had missed the fact that they were using an unstable power source and had programmed the hyperdrive without regard for the instability of the naquadria – which meant that they would have to rebuild the hyperdrive. She set the latest simulation running and glanced over at the Colonel.

Jack stared out of the windshield at the slow moving stars. He’d barely said anything since he’d sat down an hour before.

Sam swallowed hard. She had probably disappointed him but she believed what she had said; they had used Fifth’s burgeoning humanity against him. They had betrayed him, or more accurately, she had betrayed him. She really hadn’t meant to blame the Colonel by stating her agreement with Jonas; she had been too busy blaming herself. She had seen Fifth’s want to be her friend – his interest in her. She had used it to convince him to help them and it had been her decision in the end to follow the Colonel’s order and leave him behind.

She wasn’t sure how she lived with that.

Perhaps by telling herself what she had said to Jonas; that Fifth was a Replicator, that he wasn’t human, that he was dangerous. He might have seemed like an eager puppy but every dog could bite when it was threatened. Even if there had been some way of taking him with them without alerting the other Replicators ahead of time, Fifth would have been a danger to both the Asgard and their own galaxy. It had been too much of a risk to take. She believed that.

The Colonel had made the right decision.

She wondered how she got up the nerve to tell him that.

Her eyes drifted across the bridge to the front where they had found the body of Adrian Conrad. She shivered. The Replicators had made her relive the memory of the last time she had seen Conrad – not that she had needed the reminder. He had been in a wheelchair telling her why he’d kidnapped her. She didn’t remember a lot of what his doctors had done to her but she remembered each wound on her body afterwards; the fear that still crawled through her veins sometimes when she left her gym or entered the infirmary. She had been mere seconds away from being given a lethal injection when the Colonel had burst in and saved her.

Just like he had turned up to save her again.

‘Carter!’

Her head jerked towards him and Sam realised from the concern gleaming in his brown eyes that he’d been trying to get her attention. ‘Sorry, sir.’ She said quickly. ‘I was miles away. Did you ask something?’

Jack looked at her carefully. ‘Maybe you should take a break, Carter.’

‘I’m fine, sir.’ Sam said, unaware of the way her mouth set in a stubborn line as though to underline her words.

‘Sure.’ Jack agreed easily. He gestured at her console. ‘Why don’t you humour me and get some rest? I can drive for a while,’ his eyes narrowed on hers, ‘or don’t you trust me with our shiny new spacecraft?’

‘I trust you.’ Sam replied automatically. Her breath caught for a second as his pleasure at her blunt words shone out at her unguarded before he turned away.

‘Yes. Well.’ Jack said. ‘You should get some sleep.’

Maybe it was that easy to mend what she’d damaged after their escape from the Replicators, Sam considered. She stretched and glanced over at him. ‘Actually, sir, the ship is on automatic pilot.’

‘Really?’ Jack’s gaze snapped back to her. ‘We have one of those?’

She nodded, biting her lip.

‘Cool.’ Jack said.

‘I was thinking about getting something to eat.’ Sam hinted.

Jack frowned. ‘Do we have any food left?’

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam said. ‘I had Teal’c and Jonas take an inventory and divide it into rations earlier.’

Jack’s eyebrows rose a little. ‘Good job.’

She flushed a little under the praise. ‘So,’ she said breezily to cover her reaction, ‘dinner?’

He smiled at her. ‘Was that an invitation, Carter?’

Her cheeks warmed under his gaze but she held it firmly. ‘I guess so, sir.’

Jack waved at the door. ‘Then lead on.’

She eased out of her chair and grimaced at the stiffness that invaded every muscle. She stretched slowly.

‘You OK?’

Sam nodded, waving away his concern even as it flooded over her like a rush of warm air. They walked out of the bridge and along the corridor. The store-room had been emptied of a lot of its supplies. What was left was neatly divided into ration packs and stacked along one wall.

‘Is this going to be enough?’ Jack asked sceptically.

‘As long as Thor shows up, sir.’ Sam replied absently.

He looked at her askance.

She lifted a shoulder. ‘We have enough to last three days.’

‘Ah.’ Jack picked up a pack and tossed it to her. ‘And how long would it take us to get back to Earth without Thor?’

‘Well, we only have sublight engines so...’

‘So, a week?’ Jack teased as he pulled up a crate for her and another for himself by the far wall. He opened up the pack and plucked out the chocolate pudding pot first. He caught her chiding expression. ‘What?’

She didn’t say anything. Instead she chose the pudding pot too and settled back against the wall, her shoulder brushing his.

‘You know with all the excitement I forgot to mention that you did a great job slowing Simmons and his crew down.’ Jack pointed with his spoon. ‘How did you get out of that storage room anyway?’

‘Torch.’ Sam said modestly.

Jack licked the spoon. ‘Teal’c was worried you wouldn’t make it off deck seven before...you know, the whole depressurisation and death thing.’

Sam’s lips twitched. ‘Teal’c, sir?’

‘You know how he worries.’ Jack waved his spoon.

‘I forgot to say thank you for rescuing me again.’ Sam said, thinking of her earlier musings.

Jack shrugged. ‘Any time.’

There was a comfortable silence as they continued to dig into the chocolate pots.

Sam let her mind drift to the issues with the X303. They would need to dissemble the hyperdrive; rebuild it. Then there was the repair work on deck seven to do; the control board she had sabotaged. She would need to spend a week at Area 51...

‘Carter.’ Jack waved a hand in front of her face. ‘You still with me?’

‘Sorry, sir.’ She apologised again. ‘I was thinking of repairs.’

‘You going to need some time in Nevada?’ Jack asked.

She nodded and grimaced. A whole week with Rodney McKay. He’d been furious at being left out of the news documentary and had called her five time – five times – to complain. Maybe she didn’t need a week; maybe she only needed a few days; maybe only two; twenty-four hours even. She sighed heavily. ‘What about you, sir?’

‘I might put in for some leave.’ Jack said.

‘Fishing, sir?’ Sam asked.

Jack nodded. He dropped his spoon into the empty pot and placed it on the ground. ‘Nothing but the peace and quiet of Minnesota, Carter.’

She hid her smile by licking her own spoon.

‘Shame you can’t come with.’ Jack said unthinkingly; his attention was tied up with opening up his sandwiches.

She stared at him, her heart pounding. ‘Was, uh, was that an invitation? Sir?’

His head shot up but before he could reply, the door opened.

‘Hey, guys.’ Jonas waved at them as he and Teal’c entered.

The Jaffa wordlessly pulled up his own crate and opened his ration pack with a studied carefulness. He also took out the chocolate pot. Jonas followed his example.

Sam lowered her spoon and dropped her gaze to her own almost empty pot. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know the Colonel’s answer. He had probably only invited her – if it had been an invitation and God knew she was more than capable of assuming one when he hadn’t meant it that way at all – but if it had been an invitation, he had only invited her as a friend; colleague. Nothing more. Just because he showed concern about her; had been worried about her...he was her friend as well as her team leader. He had moved on from feeling feelings. She was sure of it. She should accept that and be grateful for his friendship.

‘Is the chocolate pot not to your liking, Major Carter?’ Teal’c asked.

She looked up to see him gazing at her with concern. ‘Sorry...just thinking.’

‘You should get some rest after you’ve finished eating.’ Jack said, firmly enough that she knew it was an order.

She nodded. ‘Yes, sir.’

‘We promise not to crash your spaceship, Carter.’ Jack teased.

‘Have we heard from Thor?’ Jonas asked, pushing a spoon loaded with chocolate pudding into his mouth.

‘Not yet.’ Jack replied.

Jonas swallowed his food hastily. ‘Can I ask a question?’

Jack waved his agreement.

‘Why are we eating dessert first?’ Jonas asked, his face creasing with confusion. ‘I mean, is there a reason?’

Sam smiled and looked over at Jack before they both shared a look with Teal’c.

‘We saved the galaxy – two galaxies.’ Jack replied brightly. ‘I think that deserves dessert.’

‘Indeed.’ Teal’c agreed. He growled as Jack reached across, trying to snag another spoonful of chocolate pudding from the Jaffa’s pot.

Sam chuckled as Jack backed off. She let the conversation – something about Jonas and first times – wash over her as she put her food down for a moment. The camaraderie and banter helped ease the rest of her lingering guilt away. What was done, was done. She would talk to Thor about Fifth; perhaps the Asgard could help him some way...

She felt her muscles relax and the rhythm of the ships’ engines through the soles of her feet. Maybe she would just close her eyes; just for a moment...she was unaware of her head, drifting downward, settling against the Colonel’s shoulder as she fell fast asleep.

o-O-o

Thor looked at his monitor with surprise. It had been a long time since the sensors had detected an Ascended life form – they had never detected one in the Asgard home galaxy before. He changed the stone’s position and tilted his head.

Most unusual.

Suddenly, the sensor reading disappeared and the air beside him stirred. Thor turned to his left and blinked.

‘Daniel Jackson.’

‘Thor.’ Daniel raised a hand and waved. ‘Hi.’

‘It has been a long time since one of your kind visited with the Asgard.’ Thor said slowly, trying to regain his bearings.

‘You mean, Ascended?’ Daniel shrugged. ‘Well, there is that whole non-interference rule, I guess.’

Thor looked at him curiously. ‘Your Ascension is of great interest to the Asgard. We had not heard of a human attaining such a state of being before.’

‘Well, I did have a little help.’ Daniel admitted. He pushed his hands into his pockets. ‘And I, uh, need a little help from you.’

‘You do not wish me to reveal your presence to the others.’ Thor realised.

‘That would be great.’ Daniel said. He looked at the X303 ship on the monitor. ‘They’ve been through a lot the last few days.’

Thor felt a flicker of guilt. The Asgard had been responsible for all that SG1 had endured at the hands of the Replicators. ‘We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.’

Daniel looked over at him. ‘They’ve saved your galaxy and ours from certain destruction.’

Thor gazed back at him. ‘You believe they deserve more than gratitude.’

‘Don’t you?’ Daniel gestured at him. ‘And didn’t Anubis already make the Protected Planets Treaty defunct when he attacked you?’

The reminder of his time with the Goa’uld unnerved Thor more than he liked to admit. Anubis was no longer just Goa’uld, but what he was...Thor was not quite certain.

‘You are attempting to influence me by using my own anger toward Anubis.’ Thor noted dispassionately.

‘Is it working?’ Daniel joked. He waved at Thor. ‘Sorry. I have trouble with the whole non-interfering thing and I was thinking; different galaxy, no Others around...’ he sighed. ‘I know you have your own rules about it.’

‘We do.’ Thor said. ‘But we understand that it is not easy to stand by and do nothing.’

Daniel pulled a face and Thor glimpsed the struggle Daniel Jackson was enduring with sympathy.

‘I should probably go.’ Daniel said.

‘I will not mention your visit, Daniel Jackson.’ Thor said sincerely. ‘It has been good to see you.’

‘And you, Thor.’

There was a flash of blinding light and Daniel’s Ascended form disappeared.

Thor felt a tightness in his chest and realised he was holding his breath. He let it out slowly. Daniel Jackson was right. SG1 deserved more than a mere thank you for all they had done. And Anubis had effectively destroyed the Protected Planets Treaty when he had attacked. Perhaps a gesture of friendship toward Earth would be appropriate; perhaps Asgard shields for their spacecraft. It was something to consider and it would need to be discussed by the Council.

Thor snagged the Earth ship within his own shields and beamed into the storage room where SG1 seemed to be gathered.

He blinked.

O’Neill rested against the back wall; Major Carter curled up next to him, her head on his shoulder. Both were fast asleep. The new member, Jonas Quinn, was also sleeping; stretched out on the floor in front of a wall of boxes.

Only Teal’c looked back at Thor; the Jaffa sat cross-legged on the floor. He was guarding his team-mates, watching over them.

They exchanged a silent look of understanding.

Thor inclined his head; Teal’c bowed his in return.

There was no need for words, Thor mused.

Thor returned to his ship and set course for Earth. He would fulfil his promise and return them home safely. And perhaps, he would also one day repay them for his new home and freedom from the Replicators.

fin.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
supersleuth1
Nov. 10th, 2009 09:27 am (UTC)
I feel for Jonas. I always liked him in the series. I missed Daniel, but Jonas was just so darn cute. And positive all the time. This shows how insecure he actually was and how he tried to fit into the team, which in my opinion he did. I always saw him as a separate team-member, not as a replacement for Daniel.

Sam's guilt for leaving Fifth was very intense. She logically knew it was the right decision but she still felt that she should have seen some other option. Sam just carries the weight of the world on her shoudlers and at the same time, she's incredibly strong. Her relationship with Jack is also so full of angst and is sweet at the same time.

I loved that you brought in Paul Davis. He never did get enough screen-time.

And whenever Thor shows up I just want to hug him :D

Great chapter! Absolutely loved it!
rachel500
Nov. 10th, 2009 12:09 pm (UTC)
Yes, who doesn't want to just squish Thor? :D

Thank you for the lovely feedback - I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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