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Fanfiction: Tomorrow is Another Day

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S4 Window of Opportunity
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Team friendship.  Sam/Jack UST. 
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Tomorrow is Another Day

The planet was fairly typical; temperate climate, forest, no sign of civilisation but some old ruins that Daniel Jackson wanted to explore. Jack O’Neill breathed in deeply, enjoying the clean air that rushed to his lungs, the breeze that brushed his face and the sheer joy of being out in the open after months of being cooped up in Daniel’s office translating some language to help them break a time loop.

A time loop. Jack almost snorted as his mind drifted back. Only he and Teal’c had been aware of the loop and every day had started out the same; breakfast, convincing the others there was a loop – they had got that down to a fine art in the end – and working with Daniel to translate the writing on the device and figure out how to stop the device on P4X639. Jack had a newfound appreciation for the archaeologist’s work and intelligence. If Daniel hadn’t been Daniel, they would have been stuck forever – Jack didn’t know anybody else who could have handled picking up mid-way through a translation they had no memory of translating, understanding the new rules of the language revealed by that translation and just getting on with translating the rest. He had been tempted to kiss Daniel when they’d completed the translation but he had restrained himself.

Jack’s brown eyes flickered to the blonde woman walking in front of him. He hadn’t been quite so restrained with Samantha Carter. His jaw clenched on the thought and he looked away from her, resolutely scanning the path, looking for dangers. His mind drifted back to the loops like a homing pigeon. Kissing Sam. The feel of her lips on his and the taste of her, the warmth and weight of her body in his arms, the way she’d kissed him back when she got past the shock of his resigning and kissing her. It was all imprinted on his memory. He found himself smiling and immediately smoothed his expression.

It had been Daniel in Loop 24 – or was it 25? – he’d been losing count by then, who had pointed out that looping meant they could act without fear of consequence. Jack had just been so focused on trying to stop looping he’d missed that small detail – the one small bright spot in the whole ordeal. He and Teal’c hadn’t gone mad though; they hadn’t done anything too huge. Mostly they had used the detail to make their looping more bearable by building recreation into their day which wouldn’t usually have been allowed and time to rest. Looping was strange; physically their bodies were reset and they would start the loop no more hungry, thirsty or physically tired than on their memory of the first time but mentally was a different matter; the continuous loops had been mentally exhausting. His eyes moved back to Sam.

She had no idea how big a part she had played in simply getting him through every loop. After Daniel’s revelation, he had immediately thought of Sam. He had left Daniel’s office and headed straight for Sam’s lab. She had been trying to work the problem from another angle – working out how the device could potentially work. He had stood in the doorway and just watched her as his mind ran through the options.

It had only been a few weeks since he and Sam had been forced to confess their growing feelings for each other in front of Teal’c, Janet Fraiser and the Tok’ra Anise. They had avoided the ‘l’ word and had agreed that their confessions would stay in the room so they could continue working together in SG1. The mission was too important for their personal feelings to take priority; they had more to consider than just themselves. It wasn’t just their mission though for Jack.

He respected the Air Force and respected his CO, General Hammond, but he had never been a stickler for the rules. If he hadn’t cared about Sam as much as he did, he would have been tempted to ignore the fraternisation regulations altogether and conduct a clandestine affair. God knew it happened all the time and SG1 wasn’t a normal military team. Jack couldn’t see Teal’c and Daniel being overly worried about favouritism if he and Sam were together, and Jack figured both he and Sam would do the right thing on a battlefield by their friends.

But he loved Sam and he knew it would be her career and reputation that would be ruined in a heartbeat if an affair was discovered. He couldn’t do that to her. As her CO, he had a duty and a responsibility to protect her, and as the man who loved her, he wanted her to be happy; to achieve her potential as an officer. Both sides of him were in complete agreement that she could do better than a beaten-up, cynical old soldier like him; that he wasn’t good enough for her anyway. Which was why whatever his first instinct to seek her out and kiss her senseless, he’d still been in her doorway when Sam had finally noticed his presence…

Sir?’

Her concerned voice jerked him out of his thoughts. He rocked back on his heels.

Are you OK, sir?’ Sam slid off the stool and walked a few steps towards him. He could feel her worry for him and it warmed his heart that she cared about him.

Jack shrugged as though to dismiss her question and entered the room. He stopped by the central workbench; there was only a foot between them. ‘Just checking in.’ He attempted a small smile. ‘I’m still hoping if you figure something out that I won’t have to finish this damn translation.’

She smiled, her expression lightening at his words and he knew there was enough honesty in his words that she believed him. She waved at her computer and led the way back to it. ‘I’m afraid I haven’t got very far, sir.’

He looked at the complicated math that covered the screen. ‘OK. I give up.’ He said.

I’m trying to understand how the device was intended to work from the consequences you’ve reported seeing in the other loops.’ Sam explained.

And?’ Jack prompted.

She gave a disappointed sigh. ‘This whole area of science is so far beyond anything we’ve come across…’ her voice trailed away. ‘I mean, I can understand the theory; accessing the sub-space field of the wormhole to distort the space-time continuum and effectively throw everything within the bubble back in time but actually making it work…’ she grimaced. ‘The math doesn’t add up.’

Maybe it never did.’ Jack said comfortingly.

Sam looked at him inquisitively.

He shrugged. ‘We are in a time loop, Carter.’

Right.’ She smiled sadly. Her gaze travelled back over him. ‘I’m sorry but I don’t think I can help you on this one, sir.’

Jack felt a flicker of guilt at her despondency; she had been working on a way to get them out of the loop and he had been considering taking advantage of her; she was so better off without him.

Don’t worry about it, Carter.’ Jack sighed and made to turn away.

It’s just,’ she stopped with a wince.

His eyebrow arched in a good mimic of Teal’c. ‘Just spit it out, Carter.’

You look tired, sir.’ Sam admitted.

Jack shrugged uneasy again as she looked at him and he suddenly glimpsed the worry of the woman who loved him in amongst the concerned team-mate. She was trying so hard to find a solution not just so the world wouldn’t be stuck in a loop, he realised, but so he wouldn’t be.

Maybe you should consider taking a loop off now and again.’ Sam suggested when he stayed silent.

Maybe.’ Jack agreed quietly.

Or build some time in for relaxation.’ Sam continued, warming to her subject. ‘You could take an hour off every loop to do something you like doing like…I don’t know…uh,’ she stopped abruptly and Jack figured she had worked out that she was heading into dangerous territory.

I was thinking golf.’ Jack said hurriedly.

Golf , sir?’ Sam breathed out and smiled brilliantly at him in relief.

I was thinking through the Stargate.’ Jack made a sweeping gesture with his hand as though demonstrating the arc of a ball through a wormhole.

I’m not sure General Hammond will go for that, sir.’ Sam pointed out with amusement.

Jack smirked. ‘He won’t remember it in the next loop, Carter.’ He winked at her and walked away before she could reply.

Sir.’ Sam stopped him as he got to the door.

He turned back to her a little reluctantly.

Sam looked back at him with an odd expression on her face. ‘You know General Hammond would probably understand…about you playing golf even if he knows you did it because he won’t remember it.’

Jack knew she wasn’t talking about Hammond and she wasn’t talking about golf. She was talking about them; that she would understand if he did something even though she wouldn’t remember it. She was giving him tacit permission.

Maybe I respect Hammond too much to do it anyway, Carter.’ He replied slowly. ‘After all, I’m not sure Hammond,’ he stressed the name, ‘would be too happy with my knowing I did something that he would never agree to normally.’

She nodded. ‘Yes, sir, but…’

But?’ He prompted her.

Sam took a deep breath and held his gaze bravely even as the colour rose in her cheeks again. ‘If it makes this whole thing easier for you, sir, then as long as you didn’t take complete advantage of the General’s good nature, I’d think he would be OK with you…playing golf.’

Jack wasn’t sure he could speak. He opened his mouth and closed it again. ‘Carter,’ he began. He stopped again.

Forget I said anything, sir.’ Sam said suddenly, dropping her gaze in embarrassment. She moved swiftly back to the computer console.

He looked at her for a long moment and left the room. He walked away, not certain what he was going to do.

Jack rubbed his nose and waved a fly away as his mind returned momentarily to the present. A quick check on his team reassured him that everything was OK before he allowed himself to think about the past time loops again.

He had initially intended only to do what Sam had initially suggested herself; build some time into the loops to relax and do something he enjoyed. So, he played golf, taught himself how to make a clay pot and rode a bike through the corridors of the SGC. But it hadn’t been enough. They’d only gotten a third of the way through the translation and he’d been more bored than he could ever remember and more worryingly, he’d been completely demotivated.

He’d taken a loop off; driven out to his house, climbed up to the roof and sat staring into the blue sky as he considered how he was going to get through it. He’d been in tough spots before and he’d gotten through; gritted his teeth and held on with stubborn determination. But the constant sameness had begun to wear on him. He wasn’t stupid – he downplayed his intelligence to give himself an advantage most of the time – but he equally wasn’t suited to the academia of linguistic translation. Memorising and reciting the words hadn’t been a problem; remembering the rules that underscored the subtleties of the language on the other hand had become a torture.

He’d known he’d needed something to motivate him; something more than an hour of learning how to mould clay or play golf every day…Sam. Her guarded offer had popped back into his head.

If it makes this whole thing easier for you, sir, then as long as you didn’t take complete advantage…’

He’d ruled out anything completely intimate; no romantic dinners, dancing or bedroom manoeuvres. Those things were definitely out as they fell into what Jack had determined ‘the taking complete advantage’ category. He’d also ruled out any significant conversations. It wasn’t that he’d ruled them out on the basis of his not being any good at that type of thing although he wasn’t – he’d ruled them out even though there was a huge part of him which wanted to talk with her; get the whole truth about how she felt, why she’d fallen for him, to have an open, frank conversation about their future…but she wouldn’t remember any conversation and while the strategist in him liked the idea of having an advantage in some far distant future conversation, he’d known it wasn’t fair to her. So, having ruled so much out, he’d wondered whether he could actually rule anything in.

He’d finally settled on a kiss. Just a kiss. He’d known it was still unfair on her despite her tacit permission but he’d needed it too much to resist. He’d figured he would time it a few minutes before the loop reset so there wouldn’t be an opportunity to take it any further. He’d also realised he’d needed some way of protecting her in case the alien archaeologist who had started the whole mess suddenly stopped the looping. He’d wrestled with his decision before he’d returned to the base. He’d handed his resignation to Hammond before he’d found Sam in her lab. Even then he’d hesitated not quite certain he’d go through with it…but suddenly his lips had been on Sam’s, she’d been in his arms and God – she’d been kissing him back.

It had become his daily reward. Every loop after that he’d stop working, leaving Teal’c with Daniel because he hadn’t wanted to put the Jaffa in the awkward position of knowing. Jack would write his resignation letter, change out of his uniform, hand his resignation to Hammond and head for wherever Sam was. It had worked, Jack thought with satisfaction. He’d made it through the interminable translation and they had stopped the loops. His only disappointment was that it was also the end of the kisses. Still, he’d made the last one count; a wonderful, over-the-top gesture to sustain him until, or if, they got a chance to be together. He’d handed his resignation to a gob-smacked Hammond before he had kissed Sam, dipping her low, causing her to clutch onto him tightly to keep from falling.

Jack found himself smiling again at the memory.

o-O-o

He was smiling again. Sam glanced over her shoulder and gave a huffy sigh under her breath. The Colonel had been wearing that same enigmatic look of brimming smug male satisfaction periodically ever since they had broken the loop, usually when he was looking at her. There was only one logical explanation, she mused. Something had happened between them in the loops; something she couldn’t remember. Annoyance and something like envy rolled through her as the path opened up into the ruins.

Daniel shot like an arrow to the faded walls at the far side of the clearing. ‘Look at this!’ He exclaimed enthusiastically. His fingers hovered just above the old lettering. ‘It’s incredible!’

Jack looked over at Sam with a wry look; she couldn’t help but respond to the amusement in his warm brown eyes. ‘You don’t say, Daniel.’ The Colonel quipped lightly.

The archaeologist was already shrugging off his pack as he began work. ‘This could take some time, Jack.’

The Colonel nodded as he dumped his own pack. ‘Carter, you set up camp. Teal’c and I will do a perimeter check.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam set to work. For a few minutes, her mind went blessedly blank as she focused on putting the tents together. She glanced at Daniel who was muttering over the wall and smiled. She’d take some samples of the plant life and soil later but there didn’t seem to be any unusual properties in the readings the MALP had taken and nothing that struck her as unique from the other planets they had visited.

She found her mind wandering back to the last planet; P4X639. The time machine device there fascinated the scientist in her. The Colonel had said that she had studied the math in previous loops without success but mentally she was already doing the calculations. She got the first tent up and moved to the second.

Sam sighed. It sounded from the report that she had been useless at actually finding a way out of the problem in the loops. In the end it had been Daniel, the Colonel and Teal’c who had solved it by finishing the translation. If Malakai hadn’t stopped the device, they would have been able to shut it down.

It must have driven them mad, Sam mused, thinking back to the previous day. Daniel had asked a question at breakfast and the Colonel had dropped his spoon into his cereal and ordered them into the briefing room. It had taken him and Teal’c a good thirty minutes to convince them and she wasn’t sure if they hadn’t gotten the details of SG12’s return so accurately correct that they would have convinced them at all. That had to have been frustrating, having to start the same day with the same argument.

She smiled slightly. It must have been even more frustrating for the Colonel having to spend every loop in Daniel’s office, translating a language. He was an intelligent man but she knew it wasn’t his thing. Over three months of looping and having to spend it all doing something he hated; it must have driven him nuts. They must have taken some time for relaxation, Sam figured. Maybe they had learnt to play a musical instrument; she’d always wanted to play the cello. They’d have to have done something to relieve the tedium and help make it more bearable

It suddenly hit her.

That was why something had happened between her and Jack in the loops. She froze in her tent making before she shook herself and continued. She hammered at the tent stake. She knew Jack sincerely cared about her, loved her even, and she couldn’t believe that he would treat anything that happened between them that lightly. She refused to believe he had done something, initiated something just because he was bored.

But his expression gave away that something had happened between them. The question was what? Sam sat back on her haunches and considered it. She couldn’t ask him; just having the conversation could get them both into trouble. Whatever had happened in the safety of the loop meant that events were erased with the only evidence remaining in Jack’s own memory. She continued with her work.

She doubted very much that he had taken complete advantage of the situation, so she was certain whatever had happened wasn’t physical intimacy. He wouldn’t have gone that far; he respected her and she trusted him on that. Maybe they had talked about their feelings. Her lips twisted wryly. OK, she really couldn’t see that happening. So what had happened? Something that had crossed the line but something that wasn’t too intimate…if it had been her, what would she have done?

A kiss.

She smiled. He had kissed her. Damn. No wonder he looked smug. But then if he looked that smug it must have been good. Double damn. She hit the stake again with a thump.

By the time the Colonel and Teal’c returned, the camp was set out and Daniel was immersed. They left him muttering over the ruins until the light faded. Jack dragged him to the camp and handed him some food. Daniel inhaled the lot.

Sam warmed her hands on the tin mug she held. There was a contented peace between the four of them. She glanced towards the Colonel sitting next to her and found him looking back at her with the same smug smile he’d been wearing all day. She returned it and she saw the instant he knew she knew register in his eyes. He hid his face in his mug but she could see the pleased smile that drifted across his lips. Sam dropped her gaze to the fire.

‘How long are you going to need tomorrow?’ Jack asked, turning to Daniel.

‘Not long.’ Daniel said, pushing his glasses up. ‘I’m almost done with the tracings. I can do the rest of the translation back at the base. The ruins were…’

‘Great.’ Jack interrupted. ‘We’ll head back to the gate at oh-ten-hundred.’ He stared at the bottom of his mug to avoid Daniel’s annoyed stare.

‘Have you ascertained the purpose of these ruins, Daniel Jackson?’ Teal’c asked, interested.

Jack shot the Jaffa an accusatory look.

‘It was a temple used for worship.’ Daniel pulled a face. ‘Nothing as exciting as a time-machine.’

‘A time machine that didn’t work.’ Jack pointed out.

‘Could we get it to work?’ Daniel asked idly.

All eyes shifted to Sam.

‘I’ve been going over the math in my head,’ Sam began.

‘Of course you have.’ Jack muttered.

She shot him a look. ‘And I don’t think so. The math doesn’t add up.’ She shrugged. ‘Maybe it’s just as well it doesn’t work.’

‘Why is that, Major Carter?’ Teal’c asked.

‘Well, if even if it worked, we wouldn’t be able to use it.’ Sam said firmly.

‘We wouldn’t?’ Jack asked.

‘No, sir.’ She waved at him. ‘It’s like I said when we got thrown back accidentally to 1969. Any impact on the past could have a detrimental effect on the future.’

‘So you’re telling me if we found a time machine we wouldn’t use it?’ Jack asked, waving his empty mug at her.

‘It’d be too dangerous, sir.’ Sam said.

‘Not even to go and watch a game of hockey or baseball?’ Jack pressed. His twinkling eyes gave away that he was teasing her.

She sent him a chiding look.

‘I guess you’re right.’ Daniel said; his eyes on the fire he was oblivious to the looks between his team-mate. ‘I mean, it would be really tempting to think we could change history but you’d never know if things would turn out for the better. We all have things about the past we’d want to change and if you change one thing,’ he sighed, ‘where would you stop?’

All four of them were silent.

Daniel was right that they all had things about the past they wanted to change, Sam mused. They had all lost so much. Her eyes went to the dark silent Jaffa on the other side of the camp. Teal’c had recently lost his first love, Sho’nac. He didn’t talk about it but she could tell he still mourned her. Her eyes slid to Daniel who was still grieving for Sha’re before they moved back to the Colonel – Jack.

His passionate response to Malakai’s assertion that he wouldn’t understand; when he’d said he’d lost his son…Sam’s heart had broken for him all over again. She brushed a thumb over the rim of her mug. She had lost people she loved too; her mother and more recently, Martouf. He had been a good friend to her and more, the soul mate of the symbiote she had carried. The echo of Jolinar’s painful grief was hers as a result.

‘I know one thing I wouldn’t change.’ Jack said, breaking the silence.

‘What’s that?’ Daniel asked frowning.

Jack looked over at Daniel and Teal’c and back at Sam. ‘This. Us. SG1.’

‘Me either, sir.’ Sam said softly. She smiled at him in understanding; it was one of the reasons why they’d left their feelings in a room; why they’d only kissed in a time loop where there had been no consequences.

‘I wouldn’t change us either.’ Daniel agreed with a sigh.

Teal’c inclined his head. ‘Indeed.’

They all exchanged a warm smile.

Jack checked his watch. ‘We should call it a night. Tomorrow is another day.’ He said cheerfully.

‘You hope,’ quipped Daniel.

‘Don’t even joke about that, Daniel.’ Jack said warningly as the archaeologist smirked at him. Sam began to chuckle at Jack’s expression and Teal’c’s features brightened with amusement. ‘Don’t even joke.’

fin.

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