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For disclaimer and author's note see Part I.

The More Things Change Continued

Daniel tapped the section of text he wanted to highlight in the book and looked at Cassie expectantly.

She blew out a frustrated breath which lifted her bangs from her forehead and nodded. 'OK, so I see what you're saying. The documents contradict each other in the same way that the witness statements in a crime do.'

'Exactly.' Daniel beamed at her pleased. 'So you have to find the commonality; what's the same, where do they marry in their accounts; where do they differ. Is there a reason why that person might have wanted to emphasise that particular thing or that person this? You can start to question their motivations and…' he trailed off as he took in Cassie's indulgent smile. He wrinkled his nose. 'Sorry. I can get carried away.'

'I like you getting carried away.' Cassie teased. 'You look all professor-y.'

'Professory?' Daniel repeated, smiling. 'I'm not sure that's a word.'

'Sure, it is.' Cassie replied with a wry grin. Her eyes fell to the textbook. 'Thanks for letting me come over and pick your brains on my assignment.'

Daniel gave an easy shrug. They had chosen his dining room table as the place to study and it was strewn with books and provisions. He nudged the plate of cookies he'd put out closer to her. Cassie looked like she had lost weight and she'd barely picked at the dinner they'd attended the previous evening with the rest of SG1 to ostensibly celebrate Sam and Jack's promotions. She rolled her eyes at him and grabbed the chocolate chip.

'I like helping you.' Daniel admitted. 'It kind of takes me back to my undergrad days.' When the world had been a much simpler place and Daniel hadn't known about the existence of the Stargate or aliens or Ascension or any of the other myriad of things that dominated his current life.

'Weren't you thirteen or something when you were an undergrad?' Cassie said slyly, reminding him so much of Janet briefly that he blinked.

He pushed the grief and guilt away, focusing on Cassie. He would always feel that he'd failed to save Janet on the battlefield no matter how many times everyone told him there had been nothing that he could have done. He owed it to Janet to be there for Cassie even if Sam had formally taken over next of kin duties for the young woman.

'I was fifteen.' Daniel corrected with a forced smile.

'Fifteen.' Cassie sighed. 'I can't imagine doing this at fifteen. I mean…' she stopped abruptly.

Daniel wondered what she was afraid of revealing; that college was tougher than she had thought; that she was struggling being the small fish in a big pond; that it was hard to find friends that really fitted because latching onto someone was better than having no-one. All students went through the same curve in the first year.

'It was awful.' Daniel confessed sheepishly, hoping confiding his experience would encourage her to open up about hers. 'Everyone was older than me; nobody wanted to be seen with me. If it hadn't been for the fact that I loved the work…' his lips twisted.

'It's not that bad for me.' Cassie admitted, licking a chocolate smear off her thumb. 'It's just…hard to concentrate since Mom died and my friends…they're great but they don't get it.'

'Sam said you aced your make-up tests.' Daniel said, wanting to give her something positive to focus on.

'Yeah.' Cassie sighed heavily. 'I miss Dom and Emma.'

Her boyfriend and her best friend from school. Daniel nodded sympathetically. He guessed she missed her Mom too; that went without saying.

Daniel reached over and clasped her hand. 'Maybe they can visit or you could visit them?'

'Yeah, Sam said something similar yesterday.' Cassie bit her lip.

'But?' prompted Daniel.

'They don't really get it either.' Cassie blurted out. 'They have their parents.' She flushed furiously and tried to yank her hand away from Daniel but he held onto it.

'Very few people get it, Cass.' Daniel said bluntly. 'And nobody else gets what you've been through. You lost your entire world once and now your Mom. It's crap and unfair and…'

Cassie gave a sob and Daniel shifted pulling her out of her chair and hugging her tightly as she cried.

Thank God they'd got Jack back alive; got Sam back alive, Daniel thought fervently. He didn't think Cassie could take another loss. He knew he couldn't.

Daniel waited until she was down to sniffles before he eased away and handed her a tissue. He ushered her back into her chair, gave her another cookie and took her hand again. 'It's OK to grieve, Cassie. Nobody expects you to be…'

'Normal?' She said pointedly.

He couldn't argue with her. There was a time after losing someone when everyone around the one left behind started to expect normality; they didn't want to talk about the loss anymore or to consider that someone was still hurting. He knew he rarely talked about his own continued grief for Sha're for that reason. But he also knew it was just human nature; life went on; people had to move on too.

'How's therapy going?' Daniel countered. Cassie had started art therapy but Daniel was worried it wasn't helping her as much as a young woman as it had done when she'd been a child.

'It's OK.' Cassie murmured, her eyes downcast.

'Maybe we need to find you someone else to talk to.' Daniel suggested, rubbing his thumb comfortingly over her knuckles.

'I am talking to someone else,' Cassie said, 'I'm talking with you.' She took a deep breath and tapped her book. 'We should get back to it.'

Daniel let her change the subject.

They studied for another hour before Cassie left for her classes across town and Daniel made his way to the mountain. He changed into his BDU absently and wandered down to his office. He was half-surprised and half-not to find someone already there.

'Jack.'

'Daniel.' Jack straightened up and tried to look nonchalant at being caught lurking. His hand reached for an artefact that Daniel rescued without thinking about it, setting it on the side bench as he took up a position opposite Jack on the other side of the central worktable.

'What are you doing in my office?' Daniel asked. 'Don't you have…you know, General-ly things to do?'

'General-ly?' Jack's eyebrows rose mockingly.

Daniel sighed and crossed his arms over his chest, waiting on an answer.

'How'd it go with Cassie?' Jack asked in an attempt to distract Daniel from his line of questioning.

'The study went well but she's…' Daniel grimaced and adjusted the position of his glasses, 'I think she needs a new therapist.'

Jack's features twisted into something caught between horror and agreement. 'Yeah.'

'So.' Daniel began again. 'You. My office.' He waggled his eyebrows meaningfully at Jack.

'I was…waiting.'

'Waiting as in…hiding waiting?'

Jack sighed and slumped onto the stool. 'Do you have any idea how large the pile of paper is on my…you know?'

'Desk, Jack.' Daniel said. 'It's not a four letter word.'

Jack simply looked at him.

'Yes, OK, technically it's a four letter word but you know what I meant.' Daniel felt the urge to pinch the bridge of his nose; he could feel a headache building.

'Actually, my reason for being here is that the last piece of paper I read on the very large pile of paper pertained to you.' Jack reached for Daniel's stapler.

Daniel divested him of it almost immediately and set it aside. 'Pertained to me how?'

'Major Finnegan has been placed temporarily in charge of SG11. They're one of the first teams scheduled to resume their previous off-world operations tomorrow.' Jack informed Daniel briskly.

'We need the naquadah.' Daniel surmised. SG11 was permanently stationed at the mining operation on P3X403.

Jack pointed at him. 'Exactly.' He fell silent as though he expected Daniel to work out the rest himself.

Daniel sighed but the explanation presented itself within a second of thinking about it. 'The Unas, right? Edwards is in Antarctica and Evan's on loan to the 302 programme so…'

'So Finnegan needs you to do your thing and stick around for a couple of days to teach him the basics.' Jack agreed. 'I've agreed it with Carter…'

'Sam?' Daniel asked surprised. Why would Jack need to agree it with Sam?

'She's your team leader, Daniel.' Jack shot back with a look that told Daniel he should have known why.

Daniel beamed at him. 'It's official? She's being made the leader of SG1?'

Jack waved a hand. 'Temporary contingent on an evaluation after her first off-world but like she's going to mess that up.' He said smugly.

'That's great.' Daniel said sincerely. Sam deserved the position. It was going to be weird though, Daniel mused, not having Jack in the field with them.

'It was on my list.' Jack said proudly as though Daniel knew what list Jack was talking about. 'I've got Teal'c's living off-base approval sorted out too.'

Daniel smiled at him impressed. 'So this doing anything you want…'

'Working out pretty well.' Jack admitted, gesturing at Daniel. 'Except for the…you know.'

Daniel closed his eyes on a sigh. He had a feeling it was going to be a long day.

o-O-o

Rodney wanted more arms. Actually, what he really wanted was someone to be carrying his bags so he could focus on the phone conversation he was having with Sam but apparently he was expected to cart his own luggage around despite being made Chief Scientist of Project Atlantis. He felt a surge of pride but his irritation at what Sam was saying overcame it almost immediately.

'No, no, no!' He argued passionately, following the hand directions of the young Airman and climbing up the steps into the private plane commissioned for the trip to New Zealand. He still didn't see why he couldn't have been flown directly from Groom Lake rather than having to go from Andrews. 'I am not taking that imbecile!'

'He's not an imbecile, Rodney.' Sam argued back.

'So, you have him!' Rodney ignored everybody else milling about the cabin and navigated his way to a spare seat.

'Doctor Granger doesn't have any off-world experience!' Sam shot back. 'He's been based at Area 51 for the last four years and he's spent two of those under your direct supervision on the Prometheus project. You called him adequate in your last review, Rodney, which means he is not an imbecile. Plus he speaks more than one language which is probably going to help you guys once the rest of the international personnel arrive.'

'Fine.' Rodney gave in as he stuffed one of his bags in a locker beside the chair and sat down, placing his laptop bag on his knee and beginning to extract the computer and its various cables. 'But you're giving him the Antarctica recruitment speech because I'm going to be flying in a tin can for the next god knows how many hours.'

'Deal.' Sam agreed.

'That's it, right?' Rodney asked, searching for the electrical outlet for his plug. He grimaced as he found it at the bottom of the chair and hunched over to connect it.

'That's all for everyone on the SGC list including the Russians Svetlana included.' Sam confirmed. 'We still have the other IOC country members' lists to review.'

'Who agreed to that?' Rodney demanded.

Sam sighed heavily at the other end of the phone. 'It's an international project, Rodney. You did get that memo didn't you?'

Rodney rolled his eyes at his phone. 'Funny.'

'OK, so…'

'Sir, we're about to take-off, please finish your call.' The young Airman acting as steward looked pointedly at the phone clasped in Rodney's hand.

'Yes, yes.' Rodney waved him away. 'Sam, I have to go.'

'OK.' Sam agreed swiftly. 'I'll email you my comments and you can call me when you get to New Zealand.'

Rodney harrumphed. 'Fine.' He paused awkwardly. 'Sam, I, uh, about, you know…'

'I owed you, Rodney.' Sam replied, apparently getting he was referring to her recommending him for the position.

He knew no matter what Sam said though, that she wouldn't have recommended him if she didn't believe he could do the job. But she did owe him; Rodney had lied to a General to ensure that only Sam would be thought capable of understanding the modified cargo ship when Rodney would have been more than capable of figuring out what O'Neill had done to it given enough time and access.

'And you finally recognised my genius.' Rodney suggested smugly.

'Hmmm. Maybe I think you're adequate, McKay.' Sam retorted, sounding amused. 'Talk to you later.' She hung up on him before he could say anything else like 'you should dump the cop boyfriend and date me.'

Rodney held back his sigh. He doubted Sam would dump the boyfriend even if she had finally – finally! – recognised he was at least as smart as she was – obviously he was smarter but he could allow her the illusion of equality. He made to turn off his phone and hesitated.

He'd meant to call his sister, Jeannie, before he'd left Nevada. They hadn't spoken since she'd told him she was pregnant and giving up academia to marry the guy who'd knocked her up, but he'd meant to call her to tell her about Antarctica and to see whether she was OK. But between getting his neighbour to agree to look after his cat, reviewing the personnel lists, agreeing a schedule of work and talking with his new boss, flying to Washington…

He suddenly realised a throat was being cleared nearby and his head shot up. He found himself looking into the amused eyes of an attractive brunette sat opposite him. She was tall, willowy with freckles. She wasn't Sam but she was very attractive. He smiled crookedly at her. 'Uh…'

'Doctor McKay, I presume?'

And he recognised her voice instantly. 'Doctor Weir?'

They shook hands, Rodney juggling his phone and laptop to one side to reach over and clasp hers.

'It's good to meet you in person.' She slid a look at the electronic equipment strewn over his knee.

Rodney flushed and shut it down, storing it ready for the take-off. 'Sorry,' he said, waving a hand at her, 'Sam, uh, Major, I mean Colonel, Carter and I were discussing personnel assignments.'

Weir inclined her head. 'I believe I asked for the opportunity to discuss the appointments to linguistics, anthropology and archaeology with Doctor Jackson before you made any final decisions.'

Rodney swallowed his automatic reply that those departments were a waste of time – it wouldn't do to piss off his boss, who he knew had a doctorate in political science and law, on the first day. He nodded his agreement nervously. 'Of course. Sam and I were discussing the assignments to hard science; physics, engineering, and such.'

She smiled suddenly. 'I can't believe we're finally on our way.'

Rodney couldn't help smiling back at her enthusiasm. 'I know. Sam told me about the power source, of course, and that has to be our first priority – I mean, once the outpost is made structurally sound – and I have some suggestions for Colonel Edwards there based on his report from yesterday – but once we know we're not all going to buried under kilometres of ice and snow, I think that the power source has to be the first…'

'Rodney.' Weir interrupted with a short laugh.

Rodney blushed at her evident amusement. 'Sorry, I just…'

'No, don't apologise.' Weir said, smiling warmly. 'It's great to talk to someone who's as excited about this project as I am. If we're successful then we'll find the lost city of Atlantis and that's just…'

'Mind-blowing?' Rodney suggested, relaxing a touch.

She settled back in her chair and nodded at him. 'So, you think the power source should be the first priority? I was thinking about the chair so we could access the databank…'

'Ah, but the power source powers the chair so…' Rodney began his explanation, and mentally noted that he thought Weir might turn out not to be a bad boss despite her love for soft sciences. It was just a shame, he mused with regret, that she wasn't blonde.

o-O-o

Teal'c regarded Samantha Carter fondly as she concluded her video conference with Doctor Granger. From the doorway, he could see her smile was faked despite the amiable tone of the conversation. He frowned.

He had come to the conclusion that there was something concerning his friend. She was thrilled about her promotion but her happiness seemed…momentary. It appeared in small bursts as someone reminded her of her new rank but disappeared immediately after as though her mind and heart were filled with something else.

She had hidden it well. Teal'c did not believe that their team-mates were aware of her distraction but then O'Neill had assumed a great responsibility and Daniel Jackson was focused on helping him. Indeed, they all wished to help O'Neill which was why he believed Colonel Carter had kept things to herself especially as it was her usual modus operandus in such circumstances.

He could guess at the cause of her upset: he knew she had been tortured by Fifth and he felt a rush of responsibility for allowing her to be taken by the replicator from Thor's ship. He should have done more to protect her. But she had been caught and had been subjected to the hand-in-head torture that they had endured previously.

Teal'c thought there was more that she had not told them.

Fifth had been the replicator that the then Major Carter had betrayed following O'Neill's order to leave him behind. There must have been personal animosity from Fifth toward the Colonel for her action. Teal'c did not believe that Fifth would have been kind.

In addition, Teal'c believed that his female team-mate was struggling on a personal level. She was grieving the loss of her best friend, Doctor Fraiser, and the relationship she had crafted with Detective Shanahan did not seem to nurture her but simply cause confusion in regards to her continued feelings for O'Neill.

There was no doubt in Teal'c's mind that the mission to Thor had been driven by Samantha Carter's love for O'Neill. If they had been on Chulak, Teal'c would have already confronted O'Neill for his lack of courage in not claiming her as his mate. But Daniel Jackson had once informed him of the military regulations that prevented it and Teal'c could not blame either O'Neill or Samantha Carter in honouring the vows they had taken as warriors though he regretted that they could not pursue their happiness together.

Perhaps it would change one day. Things were already changing.

Her call came to an end and Teal'c waited until the monitor was dark before entering the room. He cleared his throat to alert her to his presence.

Sam looked over her shoulder inquisitively and her eyes brightened when she saw it was him. 'Teal'c.'

'Colonel Carter.'

He was pleased when the smile that accompanied the mention of her new rank appeared.

'It does have a nice ring to it, doesn't it?' She quipped lightly, stretching the kinks out of her shoulders and pulling the black material of her long-sleeved top taut for a moment.

'Indeed.' Teal'c replied, smiling slightly.

'So what can I do for you, Teal'c?' Sam asked.

Teal'c remained still and raised his eyebrow.

She winced visibly. 'The eyebrow treatment already?' But her eyes darted away and she shifted on the stool, crossing her arms tightly.

He kept his gaze impassive. He knew his silence told her what she needed to know; that he was there if she wanted to talk but would remain silent about the matter if she did not.

She deflated abruptly. 'Fifth wasn't happy with me.'

'You followed O'Neill's order.'

'I could have disobeyed. I promised him…I promised Fifth that I would take him with us and I lied. I betrayed him.'

'To save our lives.' Teal'c countered evenly. 'To ensure the safety of the Asgard and our own galaxy.'

'I know…' Sam sighed heavily and rubbed her upper arms briskly as though to warm herself. 'At the time, I didn't see any other way to do that than follow the Colonel's order and – I was mad at myself for not seeing what else we could have done because the risk was too great; I got, I get it but…'

Teal'c frowned. 'Fifth did not.'

'Would you in his place?' challenged Sam with a raised eyebrow of her own.

'He tortured you for your decision.' Teal'c said out loud his previous deduction.

She nodded again quickly. 'It was bad. Very bad.'

'Worse than before.' Teal'c surmised.

Sam didn't confirm it but she sighed. 'He used memories that the other replicators must have gotten from you, Jonas and the Colonel. He made me watch you all being hurt over and over.'

Teal'c could not stop himself from taking a step forward and placing his arms around his team-mate cautiously. She froze for a brief moment before she hugged him back.

'I'm OK.'

Her words were muffled against his chest. She sounded shaken though and Teal'c did not release her.

'I mean it's not as though I haven't seen you guys get hurt before, and I know – I know – you all survived what he showed me so there's that, and he stopped…he stopped and…' her breath caught.

It was not quite a sob but Teal'c rubbed her shoulder soothingly. She eased away and he stepped back, allowing her a moment to collect herself.

Sam met his gaze. 'He thinks he loves me so he stopped. Only he wanted me to want him back so he…' she folded her arms again, looking away briefly, 'he made up a reality, Teal'c, inside my head. Just a…a random thought that I'd said out loud one time talking with Pete. He pretended to be Pete.'

Teal'c scowled. 'You realised the deception.'

'Right away.' Sam nodded briskly. 'But it was…'

'Disturbing.'

'That.' Sam agreed. She shook her head. 'I knew it wasn't real, that it wasn't Pete, and I called him on it.' She lifted a hand. 'Then, you guys showed up and I told him to let me go because I was never going to buy into his fantasy and…the next thing I know I'm on the ground and you guys are there and…'

'And you question whether this is real.' Teal'c realised.

Sam bit her lip. 'On one level, I know that it is real. I feel it but sometimes…I have a flashback of being on the replicator ship and I start questioning myself and…' she sighed heavily, 'and I freak out every time I see or talk with Pete.'

'That is most unfortunate.' Teal'c murmured insincerely.

She shot him a look that told him she knew he didn't mean it. 'I miss Janet.'

'I also miss Doctor Fraiser.' Teal'c concurred, slightly taken aback by the incongruity of the statement. The diminutive doctor would have forced his team-mate to speak of what had happened much earlier.

'Anyway, I'll get over it – I am getting over it,' Sam said firmly, 'it's not as though we're going off-world any time soon with you and Daniel loaned out to SG11 and we're missing a fourth so…'

'I am remaining on Earth.' It occurred to Teal'c that perhaps he should have framed it as a request as Colonel Carter was now the leader of the team but he knew her and knew she would refuse if he gave her that option.

'I don't need a babysitter, Teal'c. I'm fine.' Sam insisted. There was a hint of annoyance in her blue eyes.

'I am awaiting a communication from Master Bra'tac.' Teal'c said mildly. It was not a lie. He fully expected Bra'tac to contact the SGC in the next few days although there was little reason for him to remain to receive the message. He and Bra'tac had already discussed the relevant details during their last communication; the rebel Jaffa were restless with the defeat of Anubis and the rise of Ba'al, Ishta and his son were well. Teal'c had no need for further information.

'The Col – General doesn't like Daniel going off on his own.' She tilted her head with an expression that told him she knew exactly what he was up to.

'I have already impressed upon the Major that should anything happen to Daniel Jackson SG1 will ensure his slow and most painful death.' Teal'c waited a beat. 'He informed me you had already discussed the matter with him.'

Sam huffed and smiled. She relaxed, rolling her shoulders and nodding slowly.

Teal'c inclined his head. 'It is time for breakfast.'

'Breakfast sounds good. We should probably go check if the, uh, General wants to come with us.' Sam slid off the stool. 'Can you do that? I'll pick up Daniel. We'll meet in the mess.'

Teal'c agreed swiftly and left to retrieve O'Neill from his office.

Jack looked up from behind a stack of folders. 'Please say you're here to rescue me.'

'I am here to invite you for breakfast, O'Neill.' Teal'c returned.

Jack jumped to his feet and punched the air. 'Yes.'

They walked out to the elevator and Jack shot him a look as they got into the empty compartment.

'Let me guess,' Jack wagged a finger at him, 'you want to stay on Earth for the next few days instead of accompanying Daniel with SG11.'

Teal'c raised his eyebrow.

Jack sighed. 'OK, I know you and Carter have already given Finnegan the speech so…OK. But I don't like it.' He paused and stuffed his hands in his pockets. His gaze was affixed to the floor indicator as he rocked back on his heels. 'How is she?'

Teal'c felt satisfaction that O'Neill had not been so distracted by his new responsibilities that he had failed to notice Colonel Carter's distraction. He placed his own hands behind his back and clasped them loosely. 'She will be fine.'

'Good. That's good.' Jack glanced at him. 'Hey, have you told Daniel and Carter about the apartment yet?'

'I wish to confirm I have been successful in my acquisition before I do so.' Teal'c inclined his head. 'I am grateful that you obtained approval for me to live on your world, O'Neill.'

Jack smirked at him. 'It was on my list.'

Teal'c had not been aware of a list. He followed O'Neill out in bemusement and entered the mess dismissing it from his mind entirely. O'Neill was often obtuse and Teal'c believed it wise to ignore his friend when he was. He gathered his breakfast and made for SG1's usual table. They had barely sat down when they were joined by their team-mates.

Jack grinned at Sam. 'Colonel.'

'General.' She grinned back at him just as proudly.

Daniel rolled his eyes at Teal'c. 'Have you heard from Doctor Weir yet?' He asked Jack.

'They took off as scheduled.' Jack said. 'And no: you can't go.'

'I haven't…' Daniel protested.

'You were going to.' Jack pointed with his spoon, dripping milk over the table.

Sam shot Teal'c an amused look as she wiped up the drips with a handful of napkins. He sent one of assurance and support as they settled back into the usual banter between the four of them.

Things were changing but SG1 was together in spirit if not officially, Teal'c considered with satisfaction, and while they were so, Teal'c believed that they could still do anything and defeat anyone.

fin.


Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
psychomonkey_29
Sep. 14th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)
Been so busy and exhausted the last month that don't check all the stories I read daily but decided to check today before I get some sleep and was so happy to see an update for Aftershocks. This story is a one of a handful that I reread over and over. The way you write the characters is so spot on with how they would react that each chapter is like bonus material for the original episode.

Please update soon...or when ever you are able. :)
rachel500
Sep. 18th, 2011 06:00 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed it!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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