DISCLAIMER: The story, and characters and anything and everything else concerning SG: SG1 belong to MGM, Gekko, Secret Productions etc, they are so not mine and no money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: this story was 100% planned and about 70% written before I saw the Atlantis episode "Before I sleep". All I can say is great minds think alike!
SOUNDTRACK: Louis Armstrong "All the time in the world"
SPOILERS: Set during and after Heroes. Heroes fix.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author

All the Time in the World
By Celievamp


'Unauthorised wormhole activation, Security teams to the Gateroom!'

Janet frowned. She had just been about to join that nice documentary producer Mr Bregman for lunch. He had stumbled over his words when he had invited her and she had been strangely charmed by the gesture. It reminded her of the early days of her relationship with Sam when the astrophysicist had been so shy around her she'd barely been able to string two sentences together.

Those were the days. She sighed. This stupid argument she had gotten into with Sam was really getting her down. She couldn't even remember how it had started. But they hadn't really spoken to each other for more than a month now. Sam had stayed on base. And as she had no idea how it had started she damn well wasn't going to be the first one to apologise. Not this time. No way.

She was spared any further self-reflection by a new announcement. "Dr Fraiser to the Gateroom." Now that was unusual. Not a medical team, a personal invite. There had been no mention of any injuries to be attended to but better safe than sorry. She snagged an emergency medical kit off the trolley on her way past, heading towards the lifts.

General Hammond was amongst a small group gathered around a prone figure at the foot of the ramp. Though she didn't say anything they immediately parted to let her through. Teal'c was cradling a strange woman in his arms, Daniel was next to him, sat back on his heels, his fingers wrapped around the woman's slender wrist, checking her pulse. Sam was standing behind Daniel. She looked pale, upset about something. Spooked even. The woman's face was partially obscured by a veil, but Janet could tell that she was old, the wrist that Daniel held was bird slender, the bones showing clearly through the wrinkled skin, the finger joints thickened.

"'kay, let me take a look at her," Janet said. "What do we know about her?"

"She came through using an SG1 GDO," Daniel said. "And she..." he carefully drew the veil aside. "Is Sam."

Janet brought up the scans. "I can confirm that she and Major Carter share the same DNA, including the protein markers and naquada." She indicated the MRI. "There is a symbiote present."

"Goa'uld or Tok'ra?" General Hammond asked.

"It's Selmac," Sam said.

"Carter, how the hell can you know that?" O'Neill frowned at his II1C. Who or whatever she was she looked like Carter's grandmother. She was still a fine looking woman, though. From where he stood behind Carter he could see her reflected features almost perfectly superimposed over the image on the monitor screen. It was an eerie sight. There could be no doubt over her identity. The security feed from the isolation room showed that the old woman was still unconscious though her condition was stable.

"I just do," Sam said, staring at the screen, "Sir." She couldn't explain it even to herself. Her ability to detect Goa'uld symbiotes also enabled her to differentiate between them especially if she had met them before - or if they had been known to Jolinar. She had unerringly `recognised' Lantash when he was in Elliot. Sam had theorised that it was some sort of biochemical resonance that she was somehow subconsciously able to intuit and interpret. It made sense that there would be something like that - the more usual visual recognition system would be redundant in the case of the symbiote. And they had ample proof that taking a symbiote changed the host's body chemistry.

Of course, if that really was Selmac it would mean that her father was dead. And that she had witnessed it. Or offered herself as a host sometime soon afterwards. Unless of course someone else or perhaps several someone elses had hosted Selmac after Jacob Carter. Or this really was someone from an alternate dimension in which case nothing was a given... her father had never taken a host or perhaps she herself had agreed to it at that first meeting with the Tok'ra or perhaps... and she was giving herself a serious headache.

"She is waking," Teal'c said softly.

"I'd better get back down there," Janet said. Hammond nodded his consent. "Sam."

Sam got slowly to her feet. The thought of meeting her future and/or alternate self creeped her out completely but she had to know why it had been necessary for her to do this, to travel back god knows how far in time. Her own experiences in 1969 had told her that it was not something to be undertaken lightly. And presumably this future self had the same memories, the same experiences. Reluctantly, she followed Janet down to the isolation room. Teal'c took her seat at the monitors.

Shadowed blue eyes widened as she saw them enter the room. The heart monitor jumped and then settled again. "You're real. I did it!"

Sam shivered. It was her voice. So weird, she thought. Like Narim and his home system. My voice but not... not me.

"I'm real," Janet said, managing a faint smile. "How are you feeling?"

"Tired, but then I've travelled quite a way," Samantha's gaze burned into her. "But I feel so much better for seeing you Janet. It's been so long."

At that moment, Sam knew. Whatever the reason her self had come back in time it had something to do with Janet. Something had happened to Janet, something truly terrible, something that her future self was here to prevent. The selfishness and wonder and dread of that took her breath away. To change the entire future for the sake of a relationship, for the sake of one individual. Even if that was Janet. Yet at the same time she could understand it completely. Given similar motive and opportunity she would have done the same thing. In a heartbeat. She watched as, hand visibly shaking, Samantha reached out to touch Janet's cheek as if she needed physical confirmation that Janet was indeed real. "So beautiful," she whispered. "I remembered of course... but seeing you... after so long... so very beautiful." she glanced at her younger counterpart, "both of you." Janet's eyes drifted closed and she leant into the touch for a moment before remembering where she was and withdrawing. Samantha closed her eyes again and she took a couple of deep breaths, obviously getting her emotions back under control. Sam recognised the technique. She used it herself all the time. Time. Something on both of their minds so it seemed.

"What date is it?" Samantha asked.

Janet told her. The old woman stifled a sob of relief, reached out, touched Janet's cheek again as if she still could not quite believe the other woman was real. Tears glistened in her eyes. "Then I'm just in time," she said softly, smiling tearfully at the pun. "P3X-666. You haven't sent anyone there yet? Colonel Dixon's team is still here?"

Sam recognised the designation immediately. She knew all the upcoming missions - times, addresses, assigned teams... "What about it?" Sam asked. "What do you know about P3X-666?" SG13 were indeed due to go on a reconnaissance to that Gate address in about two hours. An initial UAV run had picked up signs of some substantial ruins at the edge of its range. Colonel Dixon's team were completing equipment checks, their archaeologist Balinsky getting some pointers from Daniel on what to look for and already taking bets on what they might find. Perhaps she had been wrong. Perhaps this had nothing to do with Janet.

"They can't go. No! You can't let them go. They'll walk into a trap. Anubis has also sent a probe to study the ruins, his version of a MALP. When the SG team - SG13 - destroy it they trigger an ambush. Things escalate..." Samantha shifted uneasily. This was hard for her, Sam realized, and the feeling of dread crept over her again as her counterpart continued her tale. "Janet is sent through to help stabilise a wounded airman... Wells, Simon Wells. She is killed. Staff blast to the chest. You die Janet... you... you're gone... Wells survives. He and his wife name their newborn daughter after Janet. After you."

Samantha shut her eyes, her brow deeply furrowed in remembered pain. It had been so terrible during those days, the awful numbness, the sense of futility, all the promise of the world turned to bitter ashes. Everyone at the SGC had been affected by Janet's death. Everyone. Oh, they adapted, they continued to operate to fight the good fight but it was never the same. It was the beginning of the end as far as Samantha was concerned.

"What? But that's not SOP," Sam began. "There's no way that General Hammond would."

"As I said, things escalate," Samantha said. "Janet dies. You... we... everything goes to pieces. The situation gets out of control. More than that you don't need to know, you can't know." She shuddered and whispered. "You could never understand. It was bad enough living through it once."

Her face seemed to have got thinner, older just in the last few minutes, the bluish shadows around her mouth, under her eyes deepening. She was obviously exhausted.

"You need to rest," Janet said gently. "Sam and I will report to General Hammond. From what you've said, SG13's mission will at least be delayed, I'm sure. Alicia will look after you and Sam and I will be back in a little while." She moved away from the bed to give Alicia her instructions on Samantha's care.

Sam had so far avoided touching her counterpart directly. She thought it only prudent. Two identical bodies occupying the same space-time could have major repercussions. As she tried to smile reassuringly at her older self, Samantha reached out, took her hand. She wasn't fooled, of course she wasn't. How could she be. Sam steeled herself but beyond the touch of those pale cool fingers there was nothing. There was no sense of anything out of the ordinary at first and then... "Tell her everything," Samantha said. "Prometheus. Grace... the kiss... everything that did or did not happen with Pete Shanahan. Tell her everything. Don't let stupid little misunderstandings come between you. Do not let your pride and your stubbornness rob you of the best thing in your life. Because that is what Janet is. Afterwards. I never could clearly remember what started it, it all seemed so petty, so wasteful, I could not forgive myself for... I hope I've done enough but... please, don't waste the opportunity you've been given. Don't make the mistakes I made all over again. Talk to her."

Sam stared at her. She had never felt anything like it before, not even when Orlin had merged with her or Narim had shared his emotions with her. Or even when Jolinar had in the moment of her death gifted her her memories. The overwhelming sense of loss, frustration, sorrow. This woman had grieved for years, the emotion had informed, shaped her entire existence for so long. To be totally known. Suddenly she knew without question that everything Samantha had said had happened. It was the truth beyond question. Janet had died. She had lost everything that mattered to her in a matter of moments. And now they had the chance to change that.

"Sam?" Janet asked quietly from the doorway.

"I'm okay," Sam said, moving away from the bed. "I'm fine." She turned to stare at her counterpart for a moment but the old woman's eyes were closed. She appeared to have fallen into an exhausted doze. Whatever had happened between them had taken a lot out of her.

They walked together up to General Hammond's office. Whilst they stood in the elevator Sam came out of her funk enough to realise that Janet - not she - was the one who had just received the death sentence. "How are you doing?" she asked gently, inwardly chiding herself for not asking before. `Way to go proving to her you do have a sensitive caring side, Carter!'

"A little freaked," Janet said. "I must admit, but it's not going to happen now, is it? Whatever happens on P... on that planet."

"No, it's not going to happen," Sam said. They had two floors to go, about thirty uninterrupted seconds. Carefully she enfolded Janet in her arms. "No way is it going to happen." At least not the way that Samantha remembers it.

Janet nestled into her for a moment and Sam realised how much she had missed this closeness these last couple of weeks, how much this self enforced separation had contributed to her general sense of dislocation. All her self doubt disappeared, melting away like early morning frost at the first touch of the sun. This was where she was meant to be, this was the person she was meant to be with. She pressed her lips to Janet's soft dark hair. "We'll talk, later. I need to explain why... what I was thinking." The lift pinged discreetly to announce its arrival and they broke apart before the doors opened.

Since Sam had got stranded on the Prometheus, things had been more than a little strained between them. Sam had experienced something of an epiphany. She had come to some conclusions about her life. Janet, when Sam announced this and what she intended to do, strongly disagreed with her motivation and thinking. Something about the stupidity of making lifechanging decisions based on conversations with concussion-induced hallucinations. Confused and upset at being challenged Sam had walked out and had stayed on base ever since, avoiding Janet as much as possible. The recent crisis on Kelnowna had aided their separation and then there had been the business with Osiris and the cop friend of her brother's who had been trying to date her and had ended up more or less stalking her for a while. And to top off a really really crap couple of months Sam had ended up playing hide and go seek with a Kull warrior across the devastated remains of the Alpha site.

It had got to the point between them where maintaining the argument was easier than making up. Because too much else had happened, too many other things had got in the way and of course apologizing would mean one of them admitting they were wrong. And neither one of them were particularly good at that. It would have been easier if Cassie was around but she was away at college and they managed to keep the estrangement a secret from her though that could not continue much longer.

With her father gone adventuring with the Tok'ra and her brother distant - both geographically and emotionally, especially since she had told him in no uncertain terms not to set her up with his friends anymore - Sam had rarely felt so alone. She missed Cassie terribly. And as for Janet...

As she stood aside to let Janet go up the narrow flight of stairs ahead of her, Sam reflected on how good it had felt to hold Janet in her arms again, if only for a moment. The leaden hopelessness that had characterized most of her thinking recently had lifted from her mind. Perhaps the old saying was right: with age comes wisdom. Samantha was right. She should not waste this second chance. The first opportunity that arose. As they waited in the small anteroom to Hammond's office she stole a glance at her smaller companion and caught her doing exactly the same thing. Despite everything, she smiled. smothering it quickly as the door to Hammond's office opened. But not before she saw her smile answered by one of Janet's.

Janet Fraiser had not realised just how lonely she had been these last few weeks without Sam's presence in her life. It had felt so good to be held in those strong arms again. Almost too good. Janet cast a sidelong look at her companion as they waited outside General Hammond's office and was startled and amused to catch Sam doing the same thing. She smiled - and Janet saw the Sam Carter she had missed so desperately. Automatically she smiled back. Then Sergeant Davis opened the door and beckoned them in. They both quickly schooled their expressions to something more appropriate.

Colonel O'Neill was already there. He did not look a happy man. But then he preferred things to be simple. And visitors from the future quoting portents of death and destruction were far from that.

"I want your impressions, ladies. Does this woman pose any kind of danger to the base?"

"I don't think so, sir," Sam said. "I am certain she is who she claims to be and that she came back in time to warn us about sending anyone to P3X-666. She came back to prevent us making a terrible mistake."

"Colonel O'Neill has already reported to me what Samantha Carter said about Dr Fraiser dying in the field," Hammond shook his head. He seemed to have adopted the same unspoken convention as everyone else of addressing the time traveller by her full name to distinguish her from `their' Sam. "And as unlikely as I think it would be that I would make such a decision, I have to admit that given the set of circumstances she described it is a possible scenario. Colonel Dixon's mission is scrubbed and I have ordered the planet's co-ordinates locked out of the dialing computer."

"If I might say so, Sir, that's something of a relief," Janet said quietly.

"So, is she from one of those alternate things?" O'Neill asked.

"No, well not exactly. She is me. a future me, and we were originally in the same timeline," Sam said quietly. "But thanks to her intervention we are now on an alternate timeline from the one she came from, so yes I suppose it means that she is. now."

"Then how is she still here? Why hasn't she gone poof or foom or." O'Neill gestured, shrugged. "That exotic waterfall thing - though that takes time doesn't it?" He frowned. Janet saw the same slightly uncomfortable look on everyone else's face. They all remembered another Carter.

O'Neill continued. "After all, she came to prevent us going to P3X-666 - and the name alone should have told you that was never going to be a good place - and she has. We're not going. Hammond's ordered it locked out, Dixon's team is on stand-down. Not that he's the slightest bit grateful about it. We're going to have to keep her under wraps."

"I don't think she'll be moving out of the infirmary any time soon," Janet said. "She's very frail, even with the symbiote. I think her condition is rapidly deteriorating beyond Selmac's capacity to heal her. Maybe if we had a sarcophagus," she shrugged. "I honestly don't think she would survive another Gate journey - or entropic cascade failure for that matter."

"You're sure it is Selmac," Hammond asked. Sam nodded. "Which means that."

"My father must have died at some point in the interim and I. she. took the symbiote," Sam said steadily. "We haven't talked about that yet. I don't know whether she'll tell me the circumstances. She's very concerned about polluting our timeline. even though she's already sent us onto an alternate timeline. Though once Dr Fraiser confirms that she's strong enough I will try to talk to her some more."

"I want access to the infirmary restricted - and that means no documentary crew," Hammond said. "I will see if we can curtail their visit, but Colonel, I may need you to run interference for me on that one."

"I'll do what I can, sir. They haven't actually managed to interview me yet. And if they do pose too many difficulties, perhaps we should send THEM to P3X-666. Bregman wants to see a little action," he grinned wolfishly.

Hammond managed a tired smile. "I'll take that under advisement, Colonel. Okay people, lets get to it."

The Colonel accompanied them back to the Infirmary. He watched Janet bustle about studying what looked like a further set of x-rays of Samantha's body. Selmac could clearly be seen curled around her spine and brain stem. "My god," he whispered. "If we'd lost her. I don't know how I'd have coped with that, never mind." Sam cast a sharp glance at him. They didn't talk about this. Ever. "You know what I mean, Carter. You and the Doc. meant to be, you know. Just look at the other you. Look at what she did so that she could come back and save her."

Sam nodded. "I know. I can't stop thinking about it, believe me."

Sam watched Janet tend to her counterpart. Janet had estimated that Samantha was in extreme old age - and with Selmac on board she could have been several centuries old. But she was dying now. And the symbiote would die with her unless another host could be found. But Selmac was safe with Jacob, wasn't he? Did they sense each other somehow? Sam had not decided whether she sensed something of Samantha's presence other than the fact she carried a symbiote. There had only been that one terrifyingly intense moment of what. self realization? And the innate sense that she was telling the truth. Her own particular personal truth at the moment was she was too freaked by all of this to do anything pretty much. So much for her dispassionate scientific approach.

The old woman watched Janet's every move, unashamed tears shining in her blue eyes. How long had it been for her? How many years had she been alone. waiting, planning. what lies had she told, what compromises had she made to pull this off.

How many laws of physics had she broken this time?

Her counterpart glanced up, saw her watching, beckoned her down. Janet looked up as well, nodded her permission.

"Why don't you see what you can find out from her, Carter," O'Neill said. "Anything that might be useful. Try her on hockey scores, you never know." at the disparaging look on her face he threw up his hands. "Hey, think of it as scientific research - now she's changed the timeline who knows what's screwed up."

"Sir," Sam said. He really was impossible sometimes. She went down into the observation room. Her counterpart smiled.

"I'm sorry. This must be really strange for you. But then it isn't the first time."

"No," Sam remembered Dr Samantha O'Neill and her android self. They had been freakish enough but this. "Not for either of us." There was another long pause. "Could you answer a few questions for me?" she asked.

"I'll try. I know I've already created a paradox and sent us - you - on an alternate time line just by coming here but I'd rather keep the contamination to a minimum," Samantha said. "But I'll tell you everything I can. Everything you're going to need to know."

"How far have you come?" Sam asked. "And where did you come from? We didn't recognize the address you gated from. It's nowhere we've ever been and it's not in our dialing computer."

"No, you haven't built that Gate yet," Samantha smiled, the smile widening at the incredulous almost hungry expression on Sam's face.

"Built it?"

Samantha nodded. "Something to look forward to, believe me." She laughed, then started to cough. Janet gently but efficiently moved between Sam and her patient, unhooking the oxygen mask and holding it to Samantha's face.

"Breathe deeply and slowly, Samantha. Are you in any pain?" The old woman minutely shook her head.

"I. suppose I can tell you. this much. I.. have been blended. with Selmac almost one hundred and forty years," she whispered. "And in my time line it is twenty years since I last lived on Earth. We have been through much. so blessed together. I was blended five weeks short of my sixtieth birthday."

Sam was not looking forward to being forty. She had no idea of how to comprehend being two hundred. "And you came back to warn us about Janet. For no other reason."

"Janet's death was the single most horrifying experience of my life. Worse even than Mom's death, worse than." Samantha said quietly. Sam noticed that the old woman held Janet's hand and felt a momentary flash of jealousy before good sense reasserted itself. "And there were repercussions. For me. you, for the SGC, for Earth."

"You changed your own history, all of our history. for me?" Janet said. She stared at Samantha, saw the uncompromising love for her in the old woman's eyes before turning to her own Sam and shivering as she saw the same expression mirrored there. "I don't know what to say to that. I."

She turned away, her shoulders shaking. Knowing that only her team mates were in the observation room and that they would understand Sam caught hold of her, drew her into the shelter of her arms, cradling her close. "Hey, it's okay," she whispered. "This is the only reality of consequence, remember?" Samantha reached out, rubbed a comforting hand down Janet's back.

"I knew this would be difficult for her to comprehend. She had no idea how many lives she has touched how much her presence brightens the world," Samantha whispered. She swallowed painfully. She had lied earlier when Janet had asked if she was in pain. Her heart was failing. The pain was sharp, acid in her blood her bones. There was nothing that could be done. Selmac and she were as one on this. The work of the Tok'ra was long done. The oldest and wisest was now the last. Samantha Carter would be her last host. They had resolved to die together this last task accomplished.

*Look at them* Selmac said softly. *Look at you. I didn't think we'd ever see any of them again. I missed them all as well, you know. so terribly. Even Jack.*

"What happened. why did you risk so much?" Sam asked.

"There was a plague, deliberately introduced. We still haven't found a cure but using research that Janet had begun before her death we did find something to stop it being fatal to most sufferers but it took us years to get something workable and billions died on Earth, billions more across the gate network before we got to that stage. If Janet had been alive she could have found a more effective drug and perhaps even a cure much quicker. Many many lives would have been saved. That is my hope. So many died. So much died with them. So you see," there was the ghost of a smile again. "My reasons not entirely selfish."

"Was it Ba'al, Anubis, one of the System Lords?" Sam asked.

Samantha shook her head. "Another set of old friends. The Aaschen. The first cases will be seen in about eighteen months time. But we won't understand what we're seeing for another five years. By then an estimated 40% of humans are carrying the virus within ten years there are nearly a billion dead here on Earth, billions more on the human-settled worlds in the Gate network. Kelnowna, Cimmeria, Hebridan, A symbiote is no guarantee of immunity, neither is tretonin. Millions of Goa'uld and Jaffa die as well as unblended humans. Don't worry, I'm one of the few lucky ones. I'm immune. I'm not even a carrier."

"You said something I was working on formed the basis of a drug therapy?" Janet said.

"The work you are doing now on a tretonin substitute leads the CDC team in the right direction once they realize what they're looking at," Samantha broke off, her face assuming that inward looking expression that usually indicated conversation between symbiote and host. Her eyes glowed for a moment and when she next spoke it was in the measured, slightly doubled tones of a Tok'ra.

"There is a crystal in my pack. It contains a copy of all the data on the disease that we were able to gather together. We were not able to pinpoint a case zero. It may already be too late for that. There is a covert organization called the Trust made up of ex-NID members. We believe that they played an unwitting part in the spread of the virus. They have recently acquired technology - a shielded spacecraft - which will enable them to go offworld. They will seek to destroy certain Goa'uld strongholds by the release of a modified form of the symbiote poison we used on Ravenna. The poison was modified with the help of the Aaschen who they'd been secretly in contact with since we first opened relations with them. We believe that whilst working with the Aaschen one or more of the Trust were deliberately infected with the virus. They brought it back to Earth. Shortly after that the SGC became aware of their activities. We shut down most of their operations but not before the Trust had murdered thousands of Jaffa with the symbiote poison. Unfortunately the virus was spread to the SGC and then via Gate travel to our allies. The incubation period is very long. By the time anyone realised what was happening and put it all together, thousands were dying, millions more were infected. It does not kill right away, you see, it weakens, cripples. It can take years for someone to die from this. We have found ways of keeping the symptoms under control but there is no absolute cure, not yet." She gazed at Janet, the formality of her words underlining their seriousness. "We believe that you are Earth's best hope, Dr Fraiser."

Janet nodded. "I see. I." She was growing paler by the second. "Excuse me." She dashed away, Sam made to follow her but Samantha shook her head. She was back in control again.

"Give her a moment. It's a lot to take in."

Sam resumed her seat. Her gaze skittered over Samantha's face for a moment. She could see echoes of the face she was familiar with from the bathroom mirror every morning but this face had seen so much more life. so much more sadness. This woman had lost Janet.

"You have to stop dwelling on it you know. Janet was right. You were injured, hallucinating," Samantha said suddenly. "You can't just reassess your whole life on the basis of."

Sam shuddered. "Look, I don't. It's none."

"None of my business you were going to say. I am you, remember - the you that has had to live all this time with the decision you made to end things with Janet. I remember it as well. `You're content, you're satisfied, you're in control and that's the problem'. That's what Dad said. Why we interpreted that as we should break up with Janet, I don't understand. It's made less and less sense to me with every year that passed."

"I did it for her sake as much as mine. I wanted to be sure - I wanted both of us to be sure.." Sam said. "I."

"I know. The way I remember it. the way I rationalized it to myself. I expected it all to go wrong, to blow up in my face. And the longer we went on being. let's face it. pretty damn perfect together, the harder and more painful that inevitable break up would be. So I decided on a pre-emptive strike. I should have focused on something else he said. "You deserve to love someone and be loved in return.' And doesn't that describe pretty much exactly what we had - what you could still have - with Janet?"

Too overcome to speak, Sam nodded.

"You have the chance to put right a terrible mistake, Sam. For a change it's not fate of the world stuff - that comes later. For now it's just you and Janet. So ...I've given you your future back. I expect you to make the most of it," Samantha managed a tight smile. The chest pains were starting up again. It would only be a matter of hours now. "You should probably start analyzing the data on that crystal," she said gently. "I'll try to answer any questions you have, while I can," the ghost of a mordant smile dusted her pale lips. "While I still have the time."

Sam nodded silently. The crystal was already in her lab in a secure container as were several other items that had been in Samantha's possession when she came through the Gate - including a Tollan holo-emitter. She had not dared examine it yet.

First she had to find Janet.

Janet was in her office. The door was locked but that was not a problem for a determined Air Force Major with excellent lock-picking skills. Seconds later Sam crept into the darkened room. The only ambient light came from Janet's computer screen. Sam could see her lover's huddled body on the couch in the corner.

"You okay?" she asked softly. "Stupid question, I know."

Janet sniffed, sat up, scrubbing her cheeks with the back of her hand. "Sorry to bail out but." she shivered. "This is far too weird even for this place."

"I know what you mean. We've had a bit of a talk, my counterpart and I," Sam said softly. "The upshot is that we agree I've been a bit of an idiot. Amazing what 160 years of hindsight can do for you," the laugh that burst from her was harsh, half turning into a sob. Janet went to her immediately, took her taller lover into her arms. "I don't want to lose you, Jan. I never want to lose you. So much has happened lately. I. When I was on the Prometheus. when I was talking to the Colonel. He told me. my dad told me that I deserved more. You see. I could never explain. I just never believed I deserved you."

"Oh sweetheart. you are the most important, the most.." Janet's voice choked off. "The most downright infuriating. I love you, you idiot. It's not a question of deserving. Sam, do you want to be with me?"

"Yes." The voice was little more than a sere whisper but the depth of emotion contained in that single word thrilled through Janet as if it had been an entire sonnet.

"Then everything is going to be okay, Sam," Janet said softly. "I love you and I want to be with you. More than anything. Just promise me that you'll never shut me out like that again." She brushed her lips over the other woman's tear-scalded cheeks, rocking her gently. "I couldn't bear it."

"I'll try," Sam whispered. She pulled away from Janet far enough so that she could kiss her, the kiss turning into a fevered exchange that left them gasping into each other's mouths.

Regretfully they pulled apart a few minutes later. "I want you so badly," Sam groaned. "But I have to look over the information Samantha brought back."

"You're right. this isn't the place. or the time. And I should see how she's doing. As she gets weaker it's going to be harder for to stay conscious for long periods. And I don't care what she says, I know she's in a lot of pain. I know you'll want to talk to her again - need to talk to her again but. I'm worried about what will happen if I administer stimulants. It might cut into what little time she has left."

"Janet, trust me. I understand your reticence to do it but I believe she can handle it. And I know she'd want it."

Janet nodded, sighed. "Stay close, okay."

Daniel intercepted her on her way to the lab. "Sam, hey, how are you doing with." Sam had to smile, the linguist lost for words for once.

"I'm okay, I think. Just one more day at the SGC if you think about it."

Daniel nodded, frowned. "I don't know. your own mortality staring right back at you like that. I mean, when Machello body swapped with me, I felt. I looked, but this. this is YOU Sam."

"When she looks at me, especially when we're talking, when we're remembering the same things its as if she's sensing my thoughts and I'm sensing hers," she shuddered. "It's very. unsettling."

"Unsettling. yes, I can understand that," Daniel said. "Being told that you stood by helplessly and watched one of your best friends die was pretty unsettling too. I know it hasn't happened, will probably never happen now but I feel like I want to apologise for not saving her for not doing."

"Daniel, it's okay. I know your other self did everything he could. So does Janet. So does Samantha. You helped save Wells. And hopefully that timeline will never happen now," Sam said fervently. "At least not here."

They had reached her lab. "I've got to go through her things. there's a Tok'ra message crystal I may need a hand with later, depending if its contents are encrypted or not. She says it's important. There's all the data she was able to pull together on this plague she says is coming."

Daniel smiled, laid a comforting hand on her shoulder for a moment. "Okay, of course, sure. you know where to find me."

Sam took the crystal from the storage container and fitted it into the reader. It had taken several attempts to get a workable interface between Tok'ra technology and earth based computers. One of the major problems was the sheer mass of data that the crystals were capable of containing and the speed at which it was downloaded - far too fast for even the most advanced microprocessors to handle. Sam had had to slow the process down a thousandfold so that her computer would not be swamped and simply crash. Even slowed down as it was Sam only had to wait seconds before she was able to start scanning files and caching them on the SGC's server.

The information was organized into directories containing hundreds sometimes thousands of files. The main directory related to the plague, the progression of the disease, its vector in the population, the measures taken to control its spread, the development of various vaccines to combat its effects. There was a document called `Overview'. Knowing how she habitually organized things, Sam reviewed that first. It was a bulletpointed list giving the main factors about the disease and its progress and which files to access for more information. It was 100% fatal, anyone who contracted it died within one week to five years. Certain physical characteristics seemed to slow its progress; age and vitality were a factor as was the presence of naquada in the bloodstream or the activated or latent Ancient gene. Twenty years after the first confirmed death it was estimated that 90% of earth's population were infected and deaths had also been recorded on the Land of Light, Chulak, Cimmeria, Kelowna and virtually every other world in the gate network that had a human presence. It was clear that the Tauri, more specifically the SGC had spread this blight across the universe.

The last entries on the file showed that when Samantha Carter had left Earth for the last time some twenty years before she built the gate to travel back in time its population stood at just over one billion, all of them theoretically dependent on drugs to keep the virus from progressing to the end stage. It was a world economy based on one item and one item alone. But as the situation worsened and all social order had collapsed and the planet was under quarantine, supplies of the drug were difficult to get and almost impossible to distribute. Millions were dying every week. The prognosis was bleak.

Humans were becoming an endangered species.

Only three people out of countless billions had tested immune - herself, Jonas Quinn and Cassandra Fraiser. Sam shook her head: this was too overwhelming to deal with right now.

She set the information to copy onto the mainframe creating a directory for it attached to the medical information systems. Janet and her team would be able to access it directly.

There were other files, including a couple of recordings. Sam opened one and after a few minutes realised that she was looking at the finished version of the documentary that was currently being filmed in and around the SGC. She had blushed and stuttered her way through an interview for it that very morning before going into an extended technobabble about the power commitment of their gate compared to other gates that still had their DHD. Watching the finished product made her feel equally ill at ease. She scanned the index for the file and saw a bookmark for memorial. Fighting a sudden nausea in the pit of her stomach she clicked on it.

She saw herself standing on a podium on the ramp in front of the gate. Everyone was there it seemed. Everyone but. Janet. The camera centred on her face. She looked calm, composed, but there was a terrible brittleness to her. She began to speak.

"Janet Fraiser was an extraordinary person. She was kind and funny and talented. Above all, she was courageous. Try as I might I could not find the words to honor her, to do justice to her life. Thankfully I got some help. While words alone may not be enough, there are some names that might do. We often talk about those that give their lives in the service of their country, and while Janet Fraiser did just that, that's not what her life was about. The following are the names of the men and women who did not die in service, but who are in fact alive today because of Janet.

Major Samantha Carter Doctor Daniel Jackson Colonel Jack O'Neill Teal'c Sergeant Connie Smith Major Ian Hewles Senior Airman Simon Wells."

Hand shaking, she reached out to stop the recording. For a long time after that the only sound in the room was her stifled sobs.

Samantha Carter opened her eyes. Janet was standing a few feet away, reading over some test results. "Hey," she whispered.

Janet looked up, smiled. "Hey yourself," she said. She tapped the top sheet of print-out. "Selmac's not going to be able to pull you out of this one, is she?"

Samantha shook her head. "No. We've made a decision. She will take no further hosts. She's finally seen enough of this life." Her eyes flared silver for a moment, her voice deepening as Selmac spoke for herself.

"We represent the last of the Tok'ra, Janet Fraiser. The rest - Goa'uld or Tok'ra are dead or scattered across the galaxy. Our day is done. When Samantha dies, so will I."

"You said earlier that you were immune to the plague. How many others are immune?"

"That I know of - two others. The immunity factor was very specific. The Aaschen can't have known about it - it was a. fluke, I suppose," Samantha said. It was taking all of Selmac's energy and attention to keep her body going.

"Who were the other two?" Janet asked. Deep down she feared that she knew the answer.

"Jonas Quinn. and Cassie," Samantha said softly, staring at her. She knew that Janet had put it together.

"You and Jonas both went through that DNA resequencer that Nirrti was experimenting with. Even though the effects were reversed, it must have done something to your DNA on a cellular level. And Cassandra - she was the last generation of Nirrti's hac'taur experiment. The same thing."

"But it's nothing we can use," Sam said from the doorway. "The machine was destroyed. I destroyed it on Colonel O'Neill's orders. Unless."

"Retrieving the machine was a secondary objective," Samantha said. "But we could not reach it. On the crystal."

"I saw there was a whole directory on time travel," Sam nodded, taking a seat beside Samantha's bed and holding her hand. "Including some work I. we did at the Pentagon and all the files on the 1969 incident."

"We discovered that an old theory expounded in some science fiction books was correct. That once you have breached the time space for a particular period you cannot go back there. August 1969 for example. We know from Malachi that the Ancients also experimented with time travel. We now know where they traveled to because we can't get there. The time when we were imprisoned by Nirrti is one of those periods. Someone had already traveled there - whether in the past or the future or to what purpose we do not know. "

Cassie. it had been years since Samantha had thought about her surrogate daughter. All this - being back at the SGC brought back so many memories. Not all of which she was proud of. Samantha knew that she simply had not been there for the young woman when Janet died, lost in her own grief, her own coping mechanism of throwing herself into her work to forget. She had conveniently overlooked that Cassie would need her now more than ever. A fragment of conversation came back to her. Talking to Colonel O'Neill.

"How's Cassie?"

"She's a strong kid, she survives ... you know. "

A strong kid. She had had to be. Instead of going off the rails as many had predicted given the trauma of losing a second parent Cassie had gone on to excel at her studies becoming a doctor like her mother dedicating herself to carry on Janet Fraiser's work with the tritonin research and later as the full extent of the plague became apparent - to finding a cure. She also had first hand experience of nursing someone through all stages of the disease by that time. Daniel Jackson had been one of the first to contract it as he had been one of the first to be targeted by the Trust in their work after its members had unwittingly been infected. He was also one of the first to die. Within the year General Hammond, Walter Davis and Dr Lee were also dead and many others were showing signs of infection at the SGC and in the general population.

When the Stargate at last became public knowledge a couple of years later, Cassie's part in it - and her alien origins were revealed - leaked by an unknown source but O'Neill had immediately blamed Kinsey, knowing the old man's abiding hatred for the SGC. By then Kinsey was also dying of the plague. A lot of other mission details came out at the same time all showing how close the SGC had come to disaster over the years. There was a lot of social upheaval when all of this became public and the extraterrestrial nature of the plague was made clear. Certain SGC personnel were targeted by extremist groups and vigilante loners. Cheyenne Mountain suffered several terrorist attacks. Cassie was snatched and murdered by a group who believed her to be responsible for the plague. She had just discovered her own immunity to the plague and put together the connection between Nirrti and why Sam (and Jonas Quinn) and herself were apparently immune before she was killed. Her loss was a huge blow to the research effort and to Samantha herself. Samantha had never quite forgiven herself for abandoning Cassie as she had.

But Janet did not need to know that now. Samantha took Janet's hand. "You would have been so proud of her, Janet. You will be again. She becomes an exceptional young woman. "

Sam was still puzzling over the Nirtti link. "Even if you could have retrieved the machine - you would have had to learn how to make it work, - and I doubt whether the technology could be replicated. You would only have had the capacity to make one person immune at a time. It would have taken too long. And the chances of it going wrong, of the DNA changes becoming unstable before they were reversed were just too." she swallowed, obviously remembering that feeling of almost dissolution, of her own cells rebelling, liquefying.

"I remember," Samantha said softly. "And yes, it would probably have been a potential line of research, nothing more, which is why it was always a secondary target. Saving Janet was always the primary goal."

Dr Fraiser briefed the General on their guest's health. "She's dying, sir. The symbiote's condition is also weak. As things stand Selmac is keeping her alive but can't seem to do anything to cure the underlying damage. She has days, perhaps even hours."

"Is there any sign of entropic cascade failure?" Hammond asked.

"Not so far. That does have Major Carter - both of them - puzzled. They think it is because they both started off with the same quantum signature - from the same universe - even though Samantha has now shifted us onto this alternate track," she managed a faint smile. "There's a lot of theorizing going on as you can imagine but they got beyond my understanding several hours ago."

"To be honest I suspect it would be beyond most people," Hammond said. "How is Major Carter coping. this must be immensely difficult for her."

"I think the puzzle that Samantha has presented is keeping her mind off the more. obvious and emotional aspects of her presence here. We still don't know the circumstances behind Samantha becoming a host to Selmac - Major Carter has not asked and I don't think Samantha will volunteer the information. It must be a very personal memory. Perhaps something too traumatic to divulge."

"She thinks she is protecting Major Carter?" Hammond asked.

Janet nodded. "I think so. If it had any bearing on the reason for her traveling here then I am sure she would say something. But apart from giving her the longevity to see the project through."

"I see," Hammond said. "Given what she has said about possible NID involvement in the spread of this plague I have asked Agent Barrett to come and be briefed. Dr Jackson is studying the materials Samantha Carter brought with her regarding Trust activities in our time period. Keep me informed of any developments, doctor."

"Yes, sir."

Daniel was looking through the data disk. "You've quite a biography here." he began, then let out a low whistle. "Wow."

"What?" Sam asked. She didn't even want to think what might top building a gate.

"Let me see!" O'Neill peered over his shoulder. "Where. oh. wow"

"Guys." Sam threatened.

"General (Retired) Samantha Elizabeth Carter. Served two terms as President Earth United Federation Council 2098 - 2110. Sam. you get to be President!"

"I never figured you to have political aspirations, Carter. But hell, I'm sure we could have done a lot worse."

"Kinsey for starters?" Daniel quirked a brow.

"Don't go there. did you hear I had a run in with him in the canteen? Jumped up smarmy hypocritical little." Yet again the rest of his speech was lost in an announcement over the tannoy. "Major Carter to the Isolation Room."

"She must be awake again," Sam said. "I'd better go."

Whilst Janet was briefing General Hammond, Sam sat with Samantha who was dozing fitfully. She had printed off some of the woman's research notes on time travel and was puzzling her way through them.

"Don't stare at it so hard. You will figure it out, I'm empirical proof of that after all," Samantha said.

Sam looked up, smiled. "I know. It's just. well, something here's got me puzzled."

"What?" Samantha tried to boost herself a little higher up the pillow. Seeing her difficulty, Sam dropped the sheaf of papers on the floor and gently helped the old woman to get more comfortable.

"You perfected your research on time travel some fifty years after our time - over a century ago in your time. Why did you wait so long to do it?"

"The simple truth is that my research was theoretical - and outlawed. We didn't have the resources to put it into practice or the political will. I didn't have the means to put it into practice for quite some years. Selmac never quite believed it was feasible." There was a pause, Samantha closed her eyes and smiled at some typically ascerbic comment from the symbiote. "And then I couldn't get permission. And I had many other duties..."

"World president," Sam grinned.

Samantha grimaced. "That too. And." she paused, her eyes lowering, her hands picking fretfully at the edge of the blanket.

"Go on," Sam prompted gently.

"I was scared it could go wrong. That what I had lived through wasn't quite as bad as bad could get. I was scared that I would see her again and nothing would change. I would still lose her. It was only when."

"When you realised that you were going to die."

"I knew I was running out of time. I had to do something. I persuaded Selmac that it was now or never. There wasn't anyone else that I really had to convince. No one cared what one mad old woman got up to. They were all too busy watching our world end."

Samantha was sleeping again. Her lifesigns had grown weaker, her oxygen saturation levels were down and her blood pressure was dropping again. There was little they could do beyond making her comfortable. Janet stared at the old woman intently. There was so much she would have liked to know, so much that she sensed Samantha was keeping back from them about what the future held. It struck her. She gasped, pressing her fist to her chest. The strangest sensation. In Samantha's original timeline she, Janet, was dead now. Struck down by a staff blast while stabilizing an injured SG team member in the field. Dead within seconds. Dead. She shivered.

"You okay?" Sam asked softly from the doorway.

"Just thinking," Janet said. "Everything is different thanks to her. With any luck none of what she remembers will happen now. What does that say about fate?"

"That the idea that everything is predestined is a load of rubbish," Sam said. "I remember having this conversation with Jonas when he was having his visions. We never did resolve it. Anyway, this was in her things," she held out the Tollan holoemitter to Janet. "It's for you," she said. "I think you have to hold it to activate it. She coded it to your DNA."

"My office," Janet said. She did a quick check of Samantha's vitals, assuring herself that she was in a quiet sleep.

Sam followed her into her office and shut the door. She held the small oval device out to Janet. Who made no move to take it.

"I don't know whether I can do this," Janet whispered. "I don't know whether I want to know this. This is the future, a possible future at that. You said yourself that by coming here you - she's changed all of that. It will probably never happen. Why can't we leave it at that?"

"I know how you feel, Janet," Sam said. "But she made this for you, for a woman she loved enough to do all of this. The plague will come, regardless of anything we have done here, it's already been set in motion. If the Aaschen don't use the Trust they'll find some other way of getting it to us. She's given us a heads up, a way out. She's loved you for nearly two hundred years, Janet. She's mourned you for almost that long. It almost destroyed me to be apart from you for just a couple of months. I can't contemplate. It sounds odd I know, but I think you owe it to her. You have to look at this. I'll leave you. to look at it in private. what she says is for you, not me."

"No, please. Stay," Janet begged her. "I don't. I don't think I can."

"Okay," Sam said. Janet nodded and took the device into her hand. She took a deep breath as the shower of light rose from it, resolving into the image of the Samantha Carter who was currently dying in her Infirmary.

"Well, if you are watching this Janet, my love, that means I have succeeded in traveling back to you. I hope you can forgive me for hijacking your life like this but believe me the alternative was." she shook her head. "All the deaths I've seen and still it's yours that makes me cry." She brushed a tear from her cheek.

"I know you. You're probably feeling pretty overwhelmed by now. I don't want to burden you any further but there are some things I need you to do for me - and for Selmac - when it's all over. As a representative of the Tok'ra I ask for a Tok'ra funeral. I want my body to be consumed in the backwash of a wormhole. There must be nothing left for Area 51 or anyone else to get hold of, not of me, not of Selmac. My remains won't be of any use to you in researching the plague. Everything you will need to further your research is in the notes I left on the crystal. Between the two of you you should be able to figure it out. The two of you. the two of us. were always a force to be reckoned with."

There was a moment's silence. "I always loved you, Janet. And I never forgot. There was never anyone else in my life, anyone who meant anything to me. You were and are everything to me. You always will be."

Janet looked up at Sam, tears in her eyes. "God. is that the way you feel about me?"

"Yes," Sam said. "What I can't get over. what astounds and horrifies me is that you died. We let you die. We didn't contact our allies, we didn't try to find a sarcophagus. I didn't even try to help you with the healing device. We just. we just let you go!" She turned away, hugging herself

"There must have been a good reason at the time," Janet said softly, pressing herself against her lover's long back. "I'm sure. I'm sure you all did everything you could."

"Did we?"

There was time for one last conversation.

Janet checked on her patient, saw that she was awake. "How are you feeling?" she asked.

"Fine," Samantha lied. "A little breathless," she admitted.

"We're making you comfortable: there's not a lot more we can do for either of you at the moment," Janet said. She looked away for a moment and then gazed directly into the almost familiar blue eyes. "I wanted to say thank you. For giving me back my life. For allowing me a second chance with Sam. with you. I just wish. I wish there was more we could do for you. It's just so ironic, you know."

"I know. Just think of it this way, Sam's life is her own now," Samantha said. "She walks a different path. She has from the moment I told you what would happen if you went to P3X-666. There are no certainties from here on in." She smiled and reached out, touched Janet's cheek, her cool fingers tracing the line of her cheekbone. "It's curiously liberating for me as well. Look at you, always worrying about other people, putting so much pressure on yourself. I want you to do something for me, Janet."

"Anything, you know that," Janet smiled, blinking back her tears.

"Enjoy the moment, what's here right now. and stop being so damn hard on yourself. This life is a choice I made and I don't regret what I've done. This might be the best thing I've ever done. I look at you and at Sam and I know I did the right thing that the best part of your life together is just about to begin. It's not going to be easy, not with what's coming, but together you will make such a difference."

"I hope so," Janet said softly. "I think, well, you gave us both something of a wake up call. We've already talked and. whatever was the cause of our argument in the first place is forgiven and forgotten. You've given us a fresh start, Samantha and we'll never forget that." She leant over and kissed the old woman on the cheek. Crystal blue eyes stared at her, no different to the ones she was so familiar with. After a moment's hesitation Janet leant in again, this time softly kissing her on the lips. "Thank you."

The end came soon after. At the last Samantha went easily, in her sleep, between one breath and the next. Within ten minutes all life signs from Selmac had ceased as well. Janet pronounced time of death.

Samantha's last wishes were granted, her body left on a shrouded gurney just in front of the Gate. A bouquet of cinnamon coloured roses lay on top of the sheet. Teal'c had brought them. He knew that they were Samantha Carter's favourite flower.

Janet, the General and SG1 were the only witnesses, Sam activating the Gate herself. There were no words spoken, nothing left to say. The white/blue light had never seemed so bright, so terrible. Within seconds it was as if Samantha Carter had never been.

But the crystal and the data it contained, the holo emitter remained to tell their story. Agent Barrett was summoned bringing with him several other representatives including Richard Woolsey who had been detailed by the new president - on vice president Kinsey's recommendation - to assess the SGC and its methods. Luckily for all of them Woolsey turned out to be his own man. They studied the materials with varying degrees of skepticism, but too many of the facts fit. The named agents of the Trust were rounded up and quarantined. Vice President Kinsey was put under investigation. It was quickly discovered that large amounts of his campaign funding had come from the Trust. He was persuaded to retire on health grounds from political and public life, spared actual arrest and trial for naming names of his co-conspirators throughout the political and military establishment.

Huge amounts of the Goa'uld poison were found stockpiled along with a hoard of pilfered Goa'uld technology. A genetic experiment to create a human/Goa'uld hybrid was discovered in Los Angeles, the chief scientist, a particularly loathsome man called Kephler, the surviving test subject `Ann' was quietly euthanised when it was discovered that the Goa'uld DNA was unstable and would soon overwrite the human DNA. It was a kindness. And three of the Trust operatives who had visited the Aaschen were found to be contaminated with a pathogen that matched the profile in the information Samantha had left behind. The work began in tracing and testing their contacts and in synthesizing the vaccine that would provide at least a stopgap if not a complete cure. That was apparently up to Janet.

However the most precious gift that Samantha had left behind was time. Sam realized afresh all the reasons why she loved Janet why she could not contemplate being separated from her. And Janet realized anew just how precious life was.

The music was playing softly in the house, just audible above the hum of voices, the party still in full swing. It was Sam Carter's fortieth birthday and after recent events no longer a day to dread. She was standing on the deck at the back of the house in the warm spring sunshine. It was three months to the day since Samantha Carter's funeral, three months minus one day since she had moved back home.

It had not been easy. Neither woman was under the illusion that the problems within their relationship were entirely solved. But they had talked things through. One thing was certain both women were in this for the long term.

Sam closed her eyes, raised her face to the sun. She smiled as small deft fingers traveled over the bare skin of her forearm, twined with her own for a moment.

"Penny for them?" a beloved voice asked.

"Don't think they're worth that much," Sam smiled. "Just counting my blessings is all. Most of them seem to involve you if you're interested."

Janet laughed. "I see." The music changed, a slow song, the rich deep voice of Louis Armstrong cutting clearly through the noise of the partygoers in the other room. "Dance with me?"

We have all, the time in the world

Time enough for life

To unfold

All the precious things

Love has in store

We have all the love in the world

If that's all we have

You will find

We need nothing more

Sam slid her arms around her lover's waist, held her close as they moved slowly together in time to the music. The words filtered through, Sam listened, smiled, bent her head to drop a kiss in her lover's dark hair. She spared a thought for Samantha Carter time traveler, gate builder. Something she might yet be. The future was written in water, not stone. All the time in the world, all the love in the world. And she had it at her fingertips right here, right now.

The End


We have all, the time in the world
Time enough for life
To unfold
All the precious things
Love has in store

We have all the love in the world
If that's all we have
You will find
We need nothing more

Every step of the way
Will find us
With the cares of the world
Far behind us

We have all the time in the world
Just for love
Nothing more
Nothing less
Only love

Every step of the way
Will find us
With the cares of the world
Far behind us

We have all the time in the world
Just for love
Nothing more
Nothing less
Only love

Only love

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