DISCLAIMER: Sam, Janet and the rest of SG1 belongs not to I said the little dragon, although imagine what fun if they did! This is my first ever SG1 story, and I was in an odd mood so my apologies if this comes across as weird. Also, I have changed the effects of entropic cascade failure to affect both versions of a person
in fact I'm making quite a few things up as I go along here. Consider yourselves forewarned.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Like everything else I've written this story is also available at my own fic site, http://ryufic.blogspot.se/
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To rosmari.karlssonfaltin[at]telia.com
By Carola "Ryûchan" Eriksson
I am Sam.
Samantha Carter, Major in the US airforce, doctor, second-in-command of the Stargate Command's alpha team, SG1. I am the woman who figured out how to use the Stargate and the woman who came up with a plan that saved the home planet of the Asgard. I have more degrees and titles than you can shake a stick at, to be honest, the end result of a solitary life of someone whose mind just never would grow quiet.
All those things are just illusions, labels put on me by other people. The question still finds ways to haunt me; who am I?
I am Sam.
My life was never perfect, or, if it was I must have been too young to remember it now. I learned to roll with the punches as best I can early on in life, but mostly what I learned best was damage control. Pick up the pieces and move on, soldier.
The bottom line is that despite everything that life in the SGC is, to me specifically, I thought my life was fairly alright for once. And then she showed up.
We'd just gated in, the guys and I, from our latest mission, when the Stargate flared right back up again. Thankfully the event horizon did not expand outward like it normally would when it opened, otherwise Teal'C, Daniel and I would be dead now, with nothing more than a few sets of smoking shoes and maybe my legs left to show for us. The surface of the Stargate crackled and the sound was so loud I barely heard the blaring alarms go off as General Hammond grasped the situation. It only lasted for a moment, as four people walked through the Stargate, and then the wormhole shut down.
I admit that my first thought as I stared up the ramp at the woman that took point in the newly arrived group was 'Not again!'. I've been through this before, you see quite a few times actually. I have no idea which number this particular clone makes of my ever-expanding army of doppelgangers out there; to know that I would have had to care to count and I don't. They are wreaking enough havoc in my life for me to keep some kind of tally list on them too.
Every time one shows up, I am faced with the questions anew. Faced with the possibilities anew, and the consequences of my life. Who am I? How? Why? Then there's the always cheerful fact that only too rarely does anyone seem to be able to tell the difference between one of them and me.
I may be socially inept at times, but even I hurt with the knowledge that I am that invisible to the people around me.
So she came along. Another Sam Carter, although this one was just as surprised as we were to suddenly be in the gateroom at the SGC, facing not only a whole row of weapons directed at her and her group, but also looking right at someone wearing her own face.
We found out in fairly short order that this SG1, for indeed they claimed to be SG1, was from an alternate reality parallel to our own. I'm too tired to go into the details of why the gate they traveled from backfired and crossed into our reality right now, but it had to do with a disaster of a near cataclysmic level on the world they had visited the world that in this reality, I myself had just left safe and sound something on such a grand scale it actually damaged the functions of a Stargate.
Figuring out how it happened was actually the easy part. Figuring out how to send them back where they came from before we all went through entropic cascade failure was more challenging. We had Daniel's quantum mirror of course, although it would take days to summon that particularly dangerous item out of storage, and then it would be anyone's lucky guess on how to locate the exact variable among the endless alternate realities the mirror connects to, especially since these doubles did not come to our reality by means of one of these devices to begin with.
I didn't have to wait for cascade failure to set in I got my headaches pretty much right away. To quote my superior officer, I'm special that way.
Colonel Carter, for indeed this double outranks me, threw me in it pretty much right away. It is probably heartless of me to even think this, but Colonel O'Neill went through the usual 'You're dead!' 'No _you're_ dead!' with this SG1's second-in-command, Captain Kawalsky, and I didn't pay much attention. It was another familiar situation. She, other-Sam, gave O'Neill a big smile and a 'Holy Hannah Jack, you're alive!' that made me want to bang my head on the nearest wall. Oh no, not this again.
Jack smirked, held out his arms and asked if he'd get a kiss, with a glance in my direction to make sure I was watching. There are days I truly wish for a Goa'uld invasion, just a teeny-tiny one by Hathor, so I would have a good excuse to slug my superior officer just once, twice or half a dozen times, really.
Other-Sam snorted in good humor; I snorted in disgust. I'm sure no-one could tell the difference.
By that time General Hammond had arrived with Janet in tow, and the soldiers around us were told to stand down. I took the opportunity to give the newcomers a quick once-over and found that Daniel and Teal'C looked pretty much the same as in my reality, and Kawalsky looked more or less like I remembered him from my brief acquaintance with the man. My counterpart though, there were some differences there. Watching her critically I came to the conclusion that she had slightly more muscle on her frame than I do, and there was something, something about the eyes maybe, that spoke of command. It is something I know I do not have, just as I know I am second-in-command to Jack O'Neill for a reason, that reason not being that he is a better strategist than I am.
Did I say that other-Sam smiled at Jack O'Neill? Forget that, when she saw Janet her grin blinded the room.
"I would have known this wasn't my reality as soon as I saw you."
A roomful of people and other-Sam manage to sound like she's having a private conversation with Janet. Janet, undoubtedly disturbed by the arrival of yet another copy-me with all what that entails, politely raised her eyebrow and murmured something along the lines of 'oh?'.
Other-Sam held up the hand that was not wrapped in what looked suspiciously much like a dark metal version of a Goa'uld hand-device, and spread her fingers to show off the gold band on one in particular. She grinned even more.
Janet blinked. I blinked. I'm pretty sure General Hammond blinked, but it would all have been alright if not for Daniel. Dear, good old Daniel, love-him-like-a-brother-but-he-can't-ever-mind-his-own-business Daniel.
"Umm " He did that frankly off-putting thing he always does with his tongue when he's searching for the words he means to say. "Why would no ring on Janet's finger tell you that you were not in your own dimension? For all you know she could just have taken it off."
Besides telling him, again, not to be so curious all the time I also need to explain to him the difference between dimensions and alternate realities. Well, it could be worse I could be asked to explain to Jack.
Other-Sam's expression as she looked at Janet turned so tender that I felt the pit of my stomach go ice-cold, and I did not dare to glance over at Janet to see her reaction to it.
"Because the day I put it there she swore she would wear it until the day she died. We both did."
My head was spinning too fast to stop Daniel to ask the obvious follow-up question, but thankfully Janet wasn't. She pinned him with one of her glares that makes it impossible to disobey, and Daniel clammed up, probably starting to realize what dangerous ground he'd stumbled onto. For a woman that tiny, she sure can boss us all around when she wants to, even Jack although he gripes about it, and claims that if he doesn't she'll bring out the elephant-sized syringes to introduce to his hairy butt.
General Hammond stepped in at that point and got the ball rolling, away from dangerously personal topics and back to actual work. It wouldn't be the first time he's done that, in the capacity of my unofficial uncle and godfather, but I have prided myself so far in my service in the SGC that he has not had to do so as my commanding officer. The implications burned, as they did before.
Over the course of the next few days we were all well briefed on the lives of our alternate reality guests. Some details were fascinating. Others were painful.
The defining moment where my life and that of my counterpart took different paths was easily identified as the first Stargate mission, the first one to Abydos. In my reality I was scheduled for the mission as second-in-command, and I had worked my butt off to get there, to get the Stargate operational, you name it. As it were I ended up hospitalized just two weeks prior to the launch date of the mission, and was not released until weeks after the team's return sans one Daniel Jackson. Kawalsky had been my replacement as a matter of fact.
Other-Sam had not ended up in hospital, and that made for quite a difference. She had been promoted to Major a short while after returning from Abydos, during Jack's retirement, and had been the first person to be called to the SGC when General Hammond was given command. If her reality's Jack O'Neill had chosen not to return to duty the command over SG1 would have been hers immediately, but return he did and Kawalsky was added to their team. Events that followed the return trip to Abydos were all largely the same in their reality as in this one, with the exception that the member of the SG1 that got taken over by a young Goa'uld larvae was not Kawalsky it had been Jack O'Neill.
The attempts to remove the parasite had been as disastrous there as they had been for Kawalsky, and the end result the same a dead host. With the loss of Jack O'Neill, Sam had been the commanding officer for SG1, now with Kawalsky as the second-in-command, and the differences between her command style and Jack's appear to have shaped all the missions SG1 completed since that point in time.
Without the admittedly sometimes ham-fisted approach of Jack O'Neill, SG1's encounters with certain other races had a more beneficial outcome. Their SG1 had managed to garner treaties with both the Nox and the Tollans, the latter still not offering to share their technology but still providing care and support when needed. The co-operation of the Nox had helped other-Sam grasp the workings of the Goa'uld technology gathered over time, and she had combined it with bits and pieces gathered through other sources like the Asgard, Harlan and a few other places that the other SG1 had not come across. As a result, they developed advanced weapons based on that Sam's own brand of hybrid technology, and acquired naquada reactors to fuel them.
Some events of other-Sam's life had occurred the way I remember them in mine the death of Jonas, meeting Cassie and having Janet adopt her, being taken over by Jolinar and other things took a completely different turn. In their reality, when Hathor had captured SG1 to subject them to brainwashing, she had not been alone. In their reality, Hathor had joined forces with Nirrti, and both women had a special interest in Sam Carter.
Nirrti's specialty is genetic engineering, and apparently other-Sam had, during the two times she had ended up a captive by the Goa'uld duo, been a favorite experiment subject. She would not speak of the specifics, but her face clouded over in a way that said quite plainly that the memories were particularly painful. Considering that she carries much of my memories and my pain, that is saying a lot, and I helped hurry her story along a little at that point, to which she gave me a grateful look that was almost unnerving. Imagine having your mirror look at you with gratitude?
The bottom line was that the things Nirrti and Hathor put other-Sam through made for some serious changes in her physique. Other-Sam came away from the ordeal with near-Goa'uld level strength and endurance, heightened senses and healing ability, all of which put her fairly high on the most-wanted list for female Goa'uld hosts - isn't it nice to be wanted? The last experiment that Nirrti performed on Sam, in a third encounter that would end up killing the Goa'uld that had destroyed Hanka, gave Sam something which put her right at the top on any Goa'uld's wish list for future host bodies, regardless of gender she unbuckled the bracer and the hand-device to show it to us.
Visible to the naked eye there is a circular symbol on her hand that pulses slightly with a kind of silvery blue light. It is a bio-engineered device similar to a few of the Goa'uld's hand devices, and it is not stable enough for her to use much unaided, or the power will rip her body apart. The thing that she wore on that arm and that looked like a hand-device connected to a bracer of some sort is not in fact a weapon, but a device created by the Asgard that allows Sam to use the abilities the implant gives her without killing herself in the process. Both items fascinated me greatly and I leaned over to poke at the symbol, study the way the light pulses off into the veins on the top side of the hand before disappearing from sight, checking it to see if it is cold to the touch or not.
Other-Sam smiled kind of indulgently and let me have my way. I think I blushed a little but otherwise ignored her.
"It's genetic, and apparently a heritable trait. My daughter was born with one on each of her hands, though thankfully hers are stable so far, and dormant."
I dropped her hand as if it burned me, and stared at her. Daniel, once more, opted for the open-mouth-insert-foot approach he never fails in that respect.
"Daughter? You actually had the time to be pregnant through all this?"
I wish I could believe that the disbelieving note in Daniel's voice was related to him thinking that other-Sam could not possibly have done all that and gone through a pregnancy at the same time. Unfortunately for me, I am well aware that to Daniel the concept of me giving birth is on the same page as Jack O'Neill spawning a brood of Goa'uld larvae or, now that I think about it, he'd probably have an easier time buying that since he himself was involved in one such event, than he would thinking of me in a domestic way. Yes, giving birth is a foreign concept to me, but I would like to believe that I am not an ogress at least.
Other-Sam laughed and shook her head.
"No no, not me Jan is the one that gave birth to her."
And sure enough, the woman reached into a hidden pocket in her uniform and pulled out a picture to show him, as if fate had decided to really rub it in. He sat next to me, both of us across from my counterpart, and as if I had asked him to he angled the picture when he got it so that I could look at it with him.
"Ah." He spoke up, sounding funny. "Jan as in Janet Fraiser."
Seeing the picture was like taking a Jaffa staff in the stomach. It was such a happy picture, so sweet, so loving Sam and Janet, almost cuddling while smiling into the camera, a widely grinning Cassie proudly holding a chubby, drooling and almost hairless cherub up to the camera in that way that newly minted elder siblings all over have, the one that says 'I'm big enough to hold the new baby!'. I faintly recall seeing pictures like that over at my brother's place, his eldest had the exact same expression on her face in one photo.
I could see why she would carry it with her; I would have too. In fact I have it right there, tucked into my own hidden pocket, that very picture. Oh, in my version I'm not in it, and there is no beautiful toothless cherub that could have been mine. But it does feature the two most important people in my life, Janet and Cassie, hugging each other and smiling into the camera. I know because they wear the same clothes in both pictures, as do I where I stand, holding the camera. It was a wonderful day of sun and fun nearly a year ago, a family outing to my mind, and I had taken several pictures that day. Keeping this one with me was like keeping a tiny piece of sunshine in my pocket, to protect me in places that were cold and dark on the other side of the gate.
It was everything I had, and now I had just been shown that what I had was not much at all, compared to what could have been. It left a bitter sting at the back of my throat but I swallowed it down before it reached my eyes.
On her end of the conference table Janet had shot up out of her seat so fast her chair turned over when Daniel said her name, and with wide eyes she all but climbed the table to see the picture. Daniel gave it to her, perhaps startled with her uncharacteristic behavior, while Teal'C got her chair upright just in time for her to slump into it.
"Janet Carter, actually." Other-Sam and her crew were all grinning at us. "Jan and I couldn't decide on which name combination to go with, so we let Cassie decide. Apparently 'Cassandra Carter' sounds cool."
Oh yes, by then I had the mother of all headaches. But that was not all. I hadn't paid any attention to Jack during all of this, and so I hadn't noticed his darkening expression as my doppelganger began dropping personal information that at least in this reality was of a rather delicate nature.
I was startled to hear the rather ugly little laugh coming from Jack. We all grew absolutely silent as he spoke up.
"You and the doc, married? That's taking a heckuva lot on faith right there. But then you're saying you got the doc knocked up?" He snorted and glared at other-Sam across the table. "I dunno what kind of reality you're from, but let me tell you, we're not that stupid over here."
General Hammond was about to cut in, I could tell, but he never got that far. Janet got to Jack first.
"What makes you say that, Colonel O'Neill?" The question was polite, if chill, but no-one could possibly miss the anger she was keeping in check. Jack should have, at least when she speared him with that dark look, but he was busy nursing his own headaches I guess.
"Oh come on, you're the doc here besides, Carter's not a d "
"O'Neill still harbors hope, however misguided, that he and Major Carter shall end up together in this reality as well." Teal'C's cool assessment made me grab my aching head with both hands and groan, hopefully quietly.
Other-Sam turned to me with an oh-my-god-that's-disgusting expression on her face, and for some reason I felt compelled to give her an honest, if growled, reply.
"Not EVEN when hell freezes over."
I'm told that Jack looked stricken at that, Teal'C nodded, General Hammond was rubbing his temples, and Janet smirked, all according to Daniel. I had my eyes closed at the time, wishing really hard for a box of aspirin to materialize in front of me.
Janet cleared her throat.
"For the record, Colonel, cross-ovum fertilization is possible even with Earth technology, something you'd know if you bothered picking up a newspaper once in a while. We wouldn't even need to search for outside help for that sort of thing, we're perfectly capable of keeping a matter like that in house."
If the burning in my cheeks were anything to go by, I blushed a fairly bright red at that point. Dear god, but Janet Fraiser sure can make anything sound downright sensual, if not erotic the way she purred the last few words. Why was she tormenting me?
Then it hit me. She was pissed off at Jack, maybe not so much on my behalf as on the behalf of the other-Janet, and most certainly on behalf of the little girl in the picture. I know how much she wanted children, and for how long, before she got Cassie. And despite her words to Jack, I also know how unlikely it would be for her to have one regardless of who had the honor of being 'daddy'. Then again, with a little help from science, who knows? I've certainly seen far stranger things than that, right here on Earth.
General Hammond finally gave up at that point, sending us all on our separate ways with specific orders that I go get something for my head first thing, apparently my headache was more obvious than I thought before we really resorted to sandbox-level infighting. He did order Jack to join him in his office as the rest of us left though, and by the look in his eyes I think Jack was about to get quite a few pieces of his mind.
The aspirin helped a little, at first. But as I kept working it got worse, and brought with it a wave of nausea that didn't improve my mood any. I'm not even sure how much later it was, half a day, maybe nearly a whole day, until I found myself in medical again. Ostensibly I was there for something for my head and maybe something for the growing nausea, but if I am honest I was really there to see Janet. I didn't want to be alone with the questions in my head, the self-doubt and the self-loathing for a while.
Janet, being the consummate professional that she is, had me go through a series of tests so she could rule out that I was not suffering from early onset of entropic cascade failure. I was standing there just staring out through the glass divider at the people moving about in the corridors outside, waiting for her verdict, when other-Sam came into view. Seeing her discussing alternate realities with two Daniel Jacksons and a few random airmen and marines was not exactly what I wanted at the moment, so I turned to go wait in Janet's office.
Janet chose that moment to return with my results, meeting me halfway. The tests showed no evidence of cascade failure yet, although we both knew it was only a matter of time. She told me that my headache was actually a migraine, a first on my part, and gave me some stronger medication to take and stern orders to rest for a while. I stayed for a moment, racking my brain for something to talk about as I didn't quite want to leave her yet, but recent events made things feel awkward. I think I managed a few halting questions regarding cascade failure before I caught her looking out the glass divider at my double.
It was not Doctor Fraiser that was studying the woman animatedly conversing a distance down the corridor. It wasn't even my best friend.
I shut that thought down right there, too afraid and too hurt to follow it to any kind of conclusion. I just had to get out of there.
"I'll just get some fresh air and some rest, like you told me. I'll be back in half an hour, and if anyone wants me I'll be wearing my beeper." I couldn't resist a resentful glance towards other-Sam even though it made me feel childish. "On second thought, you have the new and improved Sam Carter here already I don't need the beeper."
The second time she said my name it was laced with concern, and suddenly she was right there holding onto my arm. Since when did Janet move that fast? It did not matter, I was busy trying not to stare at her.
"Sam? Sam, look at me."
So of course I did, biting back the comment that I had no right to make. 'Don't you know that since I met you, I've never looked away?'
"Talk to me."
I'm ashamed to say that I did, and in no controlled way either. One look into beautiful dark eyes and my self-control just went apart at the seams. I raged at first, irrelevant things that I don't quite recall now, and she just stood there silently waiting for the truth to come out. And it did.
Honestly? I had no idea what I was saying.
" no-one ever forgives the mistakes you've made and if you can't be exactly the person they want you to, you're no good no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try and try, born wrong can only ever be wrong and mother told me even back then, never tell dad, and he had just accepted me a little even though I wasn't his son and then, and then he said he had no daughter, none at all, until he's sick and suddenly wants to see me again and "
"And then there she is! The perfect me, the one that can handle people, that can lead and invent, that can make a difference and is stronger, faster, better and that has the perfect life, everything I ever wanted, just to show me I can never have any of that, can never be any of that "
She stopped me there, slender hands holding my face as she looked up at me. It is funny, most of the time I never realize how small she is, how I tower over her. It is that commanding presence of hers, it can fill a room and easily makes you forget that Janet herself is quite small. Her eyes searched mine and I could do nothing but stand there and stare into hers. When she spoke it was barely more than a husky whisper.
"What do you want, Sam? Is it a command or a family of your own or is it " She bit her lower lip slightly in hesitation, reminding whatever part of my brain was in control right then that there were things other than her lovely eyes to stare at. " me?"
I don't know how my hands came to be on her hips, or when her hands slipped from a friendly and comforting grip on my arms to a decidedly more-than-friendly grasp around my neck. I don't know if I leaned down or if she pulled me, I just know that her eyes burned right through me, and then we were kissing.
Her lips were just as warm, soft and incredibly sweet as they looked, and once I had a taste of her I could not let go. We kissed for quite some time until we were both too out of breath to continue.
"Can I take that as a yes?" She gasped and leaned into me. I was ecstatic to know that this had affected her as much as it did me, although I could not collect myself enough to verbalize a reply. I believe I did nod quite rigorously though, which made her laugh that rich, warm sound that always sends shivers down my spine.
"All this time that I have been throwing myself at you to no avail, and it takes a visit from an alternate you to get you to notice? Damn, had I known that's what it took I would have been glued to that quantum mirror until I found the right alternate-Sam to convince you that doctors need a little lovin' too."
"Or in my case, I envision a lot." She purred and if I was not already putty in her hands that smoldering look she gave me certainly would have done the trick. By the time she decided to check the pulse on my neck orally they could have opened the Stargate right next to me and I wouldn't have noticed a thing.
Then she stopped.
"Ohmygod Sam!" She looked terrified as she pushed herself away from me. "Windows! Cameras!"
I may have the necessary intellect to figure out the dial-up process for an ancient alien artifact to travel between worlds, but at that point I could not decipher what she was saying. She gave me a panicked look and half-whispered, half-hissed.
"We are standing in front of the window! In the medical department of the SGC and there are surveillance cameras in here!"
When what she was saying finally got past my hormone-induced haze I spun around only to find that the hallway outside the window was deserted. There was however a note stuck to the glass facing us.
On slightly wobbly legs I got close enough to the note that I could read it properly. It said 'Don't worry, nobody noticed. Try J's office next time.' signed with a smiling stick figure doing a thumbs-up and a S2.
With a furious blush Janet did a quick sprint outside to grab the note while I just stood there, too many thoughts buzzing in my head to move. When she joined me again she gave me a sheepish look as she crumpled the paper.
"She's right, I should have thought of that there's no camera in my office."
Janet did not do a good job of hiding how nervous she was, so I tried to reassure her.
"Don't worry, I'll take care of the camera." A thought occurred to me then. "General Hammond will find out though are you ok with that?"
"I He wouldn't throw us out of the SGC for this, I'm sure but what if he decides that I'm not fit to raise Cassie?"
That fear at least I could lay to rest for her.
"Janet, General Hammond has known about me for years he doesn't have a problem with it and he's not going to take Cassie away. He'll probably scold me for not keeping things off the base or that I wasn't more discreet about it, but he won't hold it against you. I promise."
At her questioning look I felt compelled to elaborate and reveal a fact that I had made very sure not to fall back on during my years in SG1. That I had to do it now made me feel ashamed, but not nearly as much as I would have been I couldn't be, not when circumstances had placed Janet in my arms. There's no way I could ever regret that.
"I've known him all my life. He's my godfather and my uncle, and his family was all the relatives Mark and I had that cared as we grew up. I'm willing to bet that he's always known about me, and certainly since I was nineteen." No particular reason to go into that story then and there, or to reveal the fact that uncle George's reaction to my little scandal was far more benign than that of my father. Someday maybe, but not at that particular time and place.
Janet seemed to relax a little with that, and she accompanied me as I went to the surveillance room to take care of the footage. We were in luck. Of the three people stationed there one was a female officer I faintly recalled seeing a lot around Davies, the female gate technician that had become a friend to both Janet and myself, and one airman I can distinctly recall pulling with me through the gate away from a combat zone, and I thought convincing them to keep quiet might not be so hard. They surprised us both by handing over a disc as soon as we walked through the doors and reporting a malfunction in the medlab cameras they would cover for us if we needed them to.
I thanked them, we both did, and then I took the disc with me to see General Hammond.
His reaction to what I had to tell him was a surprise. I am not sure what I had expected, but it was not having him burst out in laughter and then ask me what took me so long. He grew somber after a moment and told me, much as I had thought he would, to be more careful while on base or on duty. He also said that other-Sam's arrival had made him think of a few things he had let slide for far too long, like the situation for same-gendered spouses in the SGC, and that he was determined to find the time to try to address those issues soon.
I didn't have the heart, nor the guts, to tell him I kissed the woman, I didn't fall to my knees and ask her to marry me. Of course, judging by the reactions of those who found out since, I might as well have. And you would certainly not hear me complaining.
When I stepped out of his office the call went out that we had the first case of entropic cascade failure and Janet had already raced away towards medical.
Two very hectic days later we saw the rather battered-looking alternate reality SG1 off to their own place in the space and time continuum through the quantum mirror. Neither Janet nor I had been off the base in at least seventy-two hours, if not more, and I had not slept in over forty-eight. We were all tired and worn, so I am sure no-one even noticed or cared that Janet was leaning on me as we watched other-Sam step through the mirror to an amazing image.
The image was her Janet, looking worried, with Cassie by her side, a fair-haired little girl on her hip and with, of all things, a shredded baby blanket and a pacifier in one hand. The moment the other-Sam moved clear of the quantum mirror her family pounced, exchanging hugs and kisses until someone reminded them to move away to make room for the rest of the team.
It was an incredible sight.
I caught Janet's fiercely longing look at the little girl in her counterpart's arms, and knew the sad path her thoughts were bound to take at that. I confess I felt the sting a little too that was one beautiful little tyke, and the very thought of a little Carter-Frasier Jr running around? It certainly did not lack for appeal for me either. But what do you say to comfort the woman you love but have yet to do more than kiss about something like that without coming across as either terribly presumptuous or flippant?
"Hey " I put an arm around her. " in house, remember?"
Apparently it was the right thing to say, because that got me a smile and she leaned a little more into me. I hadn't been as quiet as I would have thought however, because I heard Jack make a noise like he was choking, and looking over at him he did have a strangled look about him. Daniel and Teal'C were both smiling, on the other hand, and General Hammond was making a show of looking away but I could see the edges of my uncle's smile from where I stood. Suddenly I just knew that come Thanksgiving, my aunt would issue strict orders for me to bring Janet and Cassie over to meet the family.
After it all was said and done, and one last medical checkup of those of us personally involved in this latest cross-reality thing, General Hammond ordered us all to take a few days off, go home, and get some rest. Even Janet and I were too tired to come up with any of the usual excuses not to leave the mountain, and although it was hard, I parted with Janet after seeing her to her car and went home to my own, very much empty, house.
We had to both of us badly needed sleep, and had I gone home with her sleeping would have been the furthest from my mind. Instead I went home and got to bed, doctor's orders, and despite everything I fell asleep the minute my head hit the pillow.
The next day I showed up on Janet's doorstep all scrubbed up as if I was taking her to the prom, with a bottle of wine and a red rose in my hands. She on the other hand had arranged for Cassie to spend the night at a friend's place, which in retrospect was a very, very, very good thing.
As I lie here in Janet's bed watching her sleep and reveling in the feel of her warm naked skin against mine I can't help but think back on the events of the last couple of days. The old question pops back up, and for once I don't mind the answer.
Who am I?
I am Sam.
And boy is it ever nice to be Sam today.
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