DISCLAIMER: I do not own anyone or anything except for my kids and I earned that right. But as far as this story goes, all the characters and everything else remotely related to Stargate: SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis belong to MGM, Gekko, Secret Productions and anyone else who has a stake in this lovely concept. No money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
THANKS: To Phil for reading through this for me to pick up Pink & Fluffy's dropped letters, even though she had never seen the show before. I appreciate the sacrifice.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I was not too thrilled with the ending they gave this amazing show. Yes, I am aware that they are doing several direct to DVD movies – it does not excuse the fact that the television series finale lacked depth and point. I was actually going to wait to see the movies before I wrote this, but Pink & Fluffy decided it was time to tell it, so there you go. A couple other things – in this case, Daniel chose to be an ascended being; he didn't actually die. And Sam is on Atlantis, but Weir is still alive. That could change if these characters ever decide to talk to me again. The Storyteller's Cardinal Rule is in effect.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

What Hurts the Most
By D


It didn't take Daniel long to remember why he had never been a fan of ascension and had in fact returned to his human form twice after having been ascended. It was boring, really - the ancients were so busy pretending they had evolved into something beyond human understanding that they lost sight of the humanity that had gotten them there in the first place. And their 'strict rule' of non-interference wasn't nearly as strict as Daniel had originally been led to believe. So he decided to keep an eye on his friends, despite what he'd been told.

Some were easier than others, of course. Jack had finally made his retirement permanent and by choice settled on the planet he had once nearly been forced to call home. Mitchell was still with the SGC Stargate program and well on his way to being a full bird colonel. Vala had established herself in Colorado Springs and was enjoying her life on earth – some things more than others, but as long as she continued to play things mostly honest and aboveboard, Daniel would just keep an eye on her more dangerous pursuits. He actually found her very entertaining and he missed her quite a bit, though he would never admit that to anyone... not even his fellow ascended beings and especially not to Vala.

Generals Hammond and Landry were both comfortably set up in their lives outside the Air Force and Stargate command. It had been good to see them both make connections with their families that had been missing due to the stress of being in charge of the SGC.

Teal'c, Master Braeta'c had joined Rya'c's family to create a new family unit that was endeavoring to continue furthering the interests of a free Jaffa nation. They were a little harder to track as they moved around frequently. Still, he did manage to check on them on a regular basis.

His thoughts turned to Sam – Sam who was a sister of his heart... who understood and appreciated many of the same things he did. She had moved on to Atlantis once the Ori threat had been eliminated and she seemed to be enjoying it, though Daniel suspected that it had a lot to do with her ability to tweak Rodney McKay to complete distraction.

Still there was a melancholy surrounding her that he'd always been subliminally aware of since.... His thoughts flinched away from the events of P3X-666. He still felt a responsibility for what had happened there and ascending had only heightened the culpability he felt. He still didn't understand why he had been spared over and over again when someone like Janet Fraiser was simply allowed to die. It made no sense.

He wondered, the lizard part of his male brain that was still a part of his consciousness did at any rate, if Janet and Sam had ever confessed their feelings to one another or acted on the love they shared. It had been obvious to both him and Teal'c that there was so much more between them than simple friendship but the military rules they functioned under had never let them be open about anything more than friendship. He had always wondered if they were that good at keeping a secret from most of the rest of the world or only from each other.

Daniel suspected it was the latter – it went a long way towards explaining Pete Shannahan and Sam's reaction to him. He knew Jacob had never approved of the detective and in point of fact, neither had the rest of the team. For Sam to have become involved with someone who stalked her like Shannahan had only cemented in his mind the depth of loss Sam had suffered when Janet had died. Pete cared about her and even as a stalker, he was safe; he couldn't hurt her the way Janet's death had because he couldn't touch that part of Sam that she kept hidden away.

Daniel had been glad to see Sam and Vala form a strong friendship. It filled a need in both women, giving Sam a woman to talk to and confide in who knew about the world and the galaxy outside a tiny little planet called Earth without allowing it to take away the joy she found in life everywhere she went. Vala had helped Sam remember the fun to be had in simply being a woman once in a while. For Vala's part, Sam was a steadying influence – someone Vala knew she could depend on and who treated her as a friend and colleague with no other expectation. It was a completely new concept for Vala and one she appreciated more than Sam would ever understand.

He had speculated that finally Sam was moving on from her grief over Janet's death and allowing someone back into her heart in a way she had never allowed Shannahan or even Jack O'Neill, despite years of speculation by the entire base to the contrary. But then Sam had moved to Atlantis and Vala stayed on Earth and started dating men who uncannily reminded Daniel of himself and he understood clearly the two women were only very good friends.

Daniel tried to allow his friends the privacy he had always respected when he was still in human form, but he did get a bit of satisfaction from observing them in their day to day lives. Still, that left him with an abundance of time to see and learn more about the universe he was now such a different part of. It was during this time that he stumbled on a secret that could possibly change a lot of things for a lot of people.

Tan'je looked around the small market with interest. Her herbs were selling well and for the first time in her memory she felt optimistic and productive. She looked around again, studying her neighbors with curiosity, noting how alike everyone seemed here and wondering why she'd never seen it before. Still, they were good people and they smiled and greeted her and one another like the old friends they were as they passed in the street.

By mid-day her herbs were gone and Tan'je headed back to the small, clean hovel she called home. It wasn't much, she supposed, but it was enough for her and it was close to the woods where many of the herbs she collected grew.

She opened the door and the scent of her carefully tended spice garden wafted to her nostrils on the light breeze, bringing a smile to her face. Her life might be a simple one, but she was content in it... most of the time.

It was only when she slept that her mind betrayed her and the satisfaction she felt when awake slipped into dreams that made little sense – dreams about places she had never seen and people she had never met. Tan'je had taken to keeping a journal about her dreams, finding they made fascinating stories... even if she never shared them with another human being.

She scooped up a bit of the stew she'd left simmering that morning on the wood stove that graced her home. Tan'je chewed thoughtfully as she pondered her options for the day. There were herbs and spices that needed both picking and drying – there always were in her line of work. And it was time to transplant as many of both as could be managed into the greenhouse she'd been reconstructing. Hopefully, this new design would be better suited to survive the coming winter weather; its harshness had destroyed the two she had previously built. She never considered the oddity of living so simply while at the same time creating something so advanced.

Tan'je finished her stew and washed up her bowl and spoon, then set to work. She'd had a particularly vivid dream the night before about her death and it had scared her so badly, she'd been up before dawn trying to write it down. Now, though her body desperately wanted rest, her mind wouldn't allow it, so she decided to start her transplanting. It was hard work and required more focus than picking and drying herbs. That she did so often, she worked almost by rote. So the intensity of getting things moved and replanted and noted on her charts was a blessing.

As sunset approached, Tan'je's steps slowed from both exhaustion and trepidation. She was going to have to go inside and get some rest soon. Fortunately, she still had her few sparse animals to tend to and she went to the stable willingly, feeding and talking to them as she took the bounty they provided her with. Her hens gave her a few precious eggs and there was also fresh milk to be had. Tomorrow she would need to tend the regular garden for fresh produce as well as restock her herbs from the woods, but tonight she would eat well thanks to the animals she shared her abode with.

She crossed the threshold into her home again and after a quick wash, Tan'je took a cup of wine and stood at the window, looking out at the stars and wondering why the vista made her heart ache. Perhaps it is merely loneliness, she speculated, sipping her wine. She had no one here – no family... no one she cared for especially or who cared for her – though her dreams told her that had not always been true. Not that there hadn't been interest, she supposed, but it had been a very long time and to tell the truth, she had never felt that sort of emotion for anyone... except in her dreams.

Frustrated, Tan'je gulped down the wine and crawled into bed, hoping it would be enough to stop the dreams from happening tonight.

Col. Samantha Carter consulted the schematics on her computer before turning back to the console she was currently working on. With any luck, she'd be done with this and back to her quarters before Rodney McKay could discover the upgrades she was making. She had no real desire to spend her evening going over every little detail for someone who could figure it out for himself.

Atlantis was a new challenge and Sam enjoyed the chance to be a scientist again instead of merely a soldier. Not that she hadn't been the best soldier she'd known how to be – she was proud of what she and SG1 had accomplished as a military unit. But that part of her life had cost her a lot.

She shied away from the hurt she still felt when her mind wandered back to the events of P3X-666. She still missed Janet with a fierceness and intensity she would never have suspected herself capable of before her colleague's death. Colleague, she snorted bitterly. Liar. Janet had been much more than that to Samantha Carter, but she had never admitted it to the doctor or herself until it was too late and Janet was gone from her life. She cringed when she thought about how careless she'd gotten about things in her personal life once Janet was gone – she'd have never given Pete Shannahan the time of day if Janet had still been around. He was a nice enough guy, she supposed, but the fact remained that he had stalked her. It had in fact been Janet's words in her dreams that had finally caused Sam to break it off with him.

A touch on her leg startled her and Sam jumped, her maudlin thoughts chased away by the knock on the noggin she got by trying to sit upright under the console. She cursed and scooted out from beneath it, glaring at Teyla and rubbing her head.

"I am sorry, Col. Carter. It was not my intention to take you by surprise, but I thought you would want to be aware that Dr. McKay is headed your way."

Sam groaned. She still had at least half an hour's worth of work to complete before she would be finished with the console and it wasn't something she could stop in the middle of either. "Great," she muttered. "I don't need this today of all days," she added, rubbing the back of her neck and hoping to get rid of some of the stress she suddenly felt accumulating there.

"Is today a special day, Samantha?"

"Not in a good way," Sam answered softly. "It's the third anniversary of my best friend's death."

Teyla laid a comforting hand on Sam's arm and squeezed it lightly. "I am sorry, Samantha. I was unaware of such an event. Is there something I could do?"

Sam shook her head. "Not really. I've got another half-hour's worth of work that has to be done before I can call it a day and go back to my quarters." She smiled up at Teyla, glad the young woman had become a friend in such a relatively short period of time. "But thank you for offering, Teyla. I really do appreciate it."

Then Rodney McKay came around the corner. "Samantha? What exactly is the point of this? I had things calibrated...." Teyla stood up and stepped between Carter and McKay.

"Dr. McKay, I hate to point this out to you, but regardless of your seniority status here on Atlantis, Col. Carter does indeed outrank you in both seniority and rank within the Stargate program itself. So please allow her to finish whatever upgrades she feels need to be completed on our systems."

"Teyla, I know you mean well, but this really doesn't concern you," trying to push her out of his way. Then Rodney found himself sinking to his knees as Teyla applied a nerve lock pinch to the hand he had used against her.

"It does concern me, Rodney... it concerns all of us. Do not force me to take this to Dr. Weir."

"Maybe I'll go to Elizabeth myself," he pouted, rubbing the hand he had jerked from her grasp.

"Please feel free, doctor. I would look forward to participating in that discussion."

McKay looked down at Samantha, who had not moved from her place on the floor. "Don't you have something to say? Or are you content to let your girlfriend do all your talking for you? Hmm? Far enough away from the strict rules and regulations of the military that you can... ACK!!" Without warning Rodney McKay found himself pinned to the nearest wall by his neck, and still Samantha Carter had not moved from her spot on the floor.

"That's enough!!" Teyla said without raising her voice. "Samantha is my friend and a brilliant woman. And just because she does not care for you the way you so obviously want her to does not allow you the right to besmirch her good name or her reputation. Now, walk away, Dr. McKay... before I show you the kind of justice you have earned from my people today."

Teyla dropped him unceremoniously to the floor and his knees buckled beneath him as he grasped his throat. "This isn't over, Teyla," he said as he slid back up the wall to stand upright. He walked off without another word.

"You didn't have to do that, Teyla. I could've dealt with Rodney. He's not generally a bad guy; he's just a little, umm...."

"He's a jackass," Teyla broke in dryly. "He hates the fact that you came here and basically made him obsolete, and to make it worse... people like you. He tries, but he tries too hard and lords his intelligence over people – not a good way to make friends, especially when there is someone better than you that people do like."

Sam blinked, not sure how to respond. Teyla smiled and patted her arm. "Don't worry about it, Samantha. It's not your fault, and if we are very lucky, it will eventually cause Rodney McKay to become a human being. We are all glad you chose to come here, Samantha, especially when you could have easily retired?" she questioned, then went on at Sam's nod, "retired and done whatever it is that people on your planet do when they are not fighting Goa'uld, Ori and Wraith threats."

Sam grinned, the smile lighting up her whole face from her eyes. "Thank you, Teyla. I really do like it here most of the time. I just wish Rodney didn't feel so competitive. I didn't come here to undermine him."

"You're not," Elizabeth Weir commented as she came around the corner. "And eventually he will settle down. However," she added, turning to Teyla, "please don't antagonize him." She held up her hand before Teyla could speak. "I know you were well within your rights and he has been completely unbearable since Col. Carter arrived, but please try. I don't want to have to listen to him complain any more than necessary."

"Then make him understand to keep his comments and his attitude to himself."

"I have and he knows the consequences of continuing to allow his issues to affect others in this facility." She turned to Sam. "I'm sorry he has made things difficult for you here."

"He hasn't," Sam countered. "Not really. I just didn't feel like dealing with him today. But if you ladies will excuse me," Sam said, reaching for her tools again, "I'd like to finish this up so I can go clean up and get a little rest."

Elizabeth's eyebrow flew into her hairline; she looked at Teyla who minutely shook her head and Elizabeth nodded, knowing she'd get the full story later. She turned back to Sam who had already moved back under the console.

"Sam, I'll be in my office if you need anything else. Otherwise, take the time you need once you get done. You've been pushing yourself hard since you got here."

"Thanks, Elizabeth," came the muffled words, but she didn't come out from her work. Elizabeth nodded to Teyla and the two headed towards the doctor's office.

Sam finished up her work in record time and put her tools away by rote. She didn't know why this third anniversary was so much harder to bear than the first two had been. Perhaps it was because she was no longer fighting for her life and Earth's survival, but whatever the reason, she just wanted to go to bed and sleep the rest of the day away, hoping tomorrow would be a better day.

Tan'je woke slowly the next morning, her dreams a jumble of images and ideas. She moved to her desk and took out her pencil and tablet, recording every detail she could remember. Later she would read through them and try to make sense of her notes. If she was lucky, she would eventually be able to form a logical, coherent story from the bits she jotted fresh from her dreams into this notebook. That story would make its way into a second diary that was filling with her stories.

She wanted so badly to find the source of these troubling dreams, but had not yet been able to take the final step she needed to do so. Somehow, visiting the local witchdoctor went against her very nature. Tan'je was convinced there were so many things the man was prescribing as treatments for people that were simply wrong or had no basis in anything more than luck or guessing. But she kept her mouth shut. She had learned very early... the hard way... that the man and his practice were sacrosanct in the village. People came for miles seeking his care.

Instead she focused on her herbs, hoping eventually the people would appreciate them for more than simply making their food taste better.

She couldn't have told where her certainty about these things came from or how she knew what plants were safe and which were not. But the fact was she did know and slowly she was building her own reputation as one who knew best how to use many of the indigenous plants that surrounded them. Already she was greatly valued for the variety she had brought to their tables by the use of herbs and spices in cooking and in their tea. She waited for the day she would be able to show them more.

She got up and heated her water for tea, glad she did not need to go to the market that morning. She would instead go out into the woods to restock her herb supply. And when that was done, she would tend to her garden. There was plenty of produce that needed to be picked and preserved for the coming winter. First however, she needed to tend to the stock. So Tan'je pulled on her boots and headed to the small lean-to stable, thankfully she had chosen to build it as she had.

The morning passed swiftly and Tan'je was tired when she crossed her threshold again sometime just after midday. However, it had been a productive morning and soon she had every available drying space covered with fresh herbs that needed to cure.

Sam woke up from her dream with a start. She hadn't been with Janet when she died, but in her dreams, her mind's eye was always more than happy to provide her with detailed clarity of the events of that fateful day. She shook her head to clear it, hoping to drown out the sound of Daniel's voice screaming for help... especially since she was unable to leave the colonel bleeding his life out on some foreign planet to go check on Janet herself.

The worst part, though, had been calling for a retreat before they had been able to recover Janet's body. Never leave a man behind had been drilled into her psyche her entire career. And when it had mattered most – when it had been someone she cared deeply for.... The thought of Janet's body being left there to be desecrated by the Jaffa... or worse – it still brought tears to her eyes.

Sam's sole consolation had been that Janet had not been taken by the Goa'uld and put into a sarcophagus. Otherwise, they wouldn't have hesitated to take her as a host and use her knowledge of the Tau'ri Stargate program, and particularly SG1 against them. Sam only hoped that in whatever afterlife Janet found herself in that she didn't blame Sam for not coming to her rescue as she had to the aid of so many strangers. And that Janet watched over her with affection. She couldn't bear the thought that Janet might somehow be unhappy and hating her.

She got up from her bed and went to the cabinet where she kept strong alcohol for occasions just like this one. Sam poured herself three fingers of whiskey and swallowed it in a single gulp, hoping it would chase away the demons that haunted her on this day of all days and let her get some rest. She didn't want to drown her sorrows – just put them to rest for a little while so she could sleep without dreams. And this time when she slept, her dreams were of a much more enjoyable nature.

Sam smiled - because there, Janet lived.

Meanwhile, in Elizabeth Weir's office, Teyla was explaining to Elizabeth in great detail what had happened with Rodney and why Sam had been anxious to get away.

"I wonder why Samantha didn't say something to me... or at least put in a leave request so she could have the time off."

"Col. Carter strikes me as a very private individual; and it would seem that her service in the military has only reinforced that behavior."

"Damn it!" Elizabeth cursed. "I should have remembered," slamming her hands on the desk before leaning her hands on her elbows. "Janet Fraiser's death is what led to my becoming part of the Stargate program to begin with."

Teyla cocked an eyebrow, encouraging Elizabeth to share without putting her on the spot. Elizabeth sighed – since Samantha Carter had shared part of the story, she decided to tell Teyla the whole story. Then at least Sam would have a couple of female colleagues who understood... someone she could turn to if she ever reached the point of opening herself to friendships here on Atlantis.

"Three years ago, the government on Earth that was in charge of the Stargate program decided to make a documentary film about the program. It was a naïve and somewhat stupid idea whose motivation was completely political and whose ultimate cost was too much."

"How so?" Teyla asked when the silence went on too long.

"During the making of the documentary, one of the off-world teams ran into a real Jaffa ambush and in the heat of the battle, George Hammond made the decision to send in his Chief Medical Officer, Janet Fraiser, to tend to the most critically wounded."

"Bad decision," Teyla commented flatly.

"Very bad decision. There were medics to do the job in the field – she was supposed to wait at Stargate Command for the wounded to be sent to her. She had the responsibility of the health and welfare of the entire base on her shoulders, but for whatever reason, the general sent her into the battle where she was cut down by a Jaffa staff weapon. The worst part, as though that wasn't bad enough, was that her body was never recovered."

"That is important?"

Weir nodded. "Part of the SGC creed is to never leave a man behind. Janet Fraiser was Samantha Carter's best friend and Samantha is the one who called the retreat before they were able to collect her body and bring her home to Earth."

"No wonder Col. Carter did not want to deal with Dr. McKay." Teyla paused. "He is becoming worse, Dr. Weir... almost impossible for anyone to deal with... especially Col. Carter."

Elizabeth ran her hands through her hair, tangling it thoroughly in her frustration. "I know, Teyla. I'm just not sure what to do to fix it. I'm not going to ask Samantha to suddenly become stupid to assuage Rodney McKay's inferiority complex." She sighed. "I am just going to have to keep them separated as much as possible until I can adjust Rodney's attitude."

"Let us hope that happens soon. His attitude is beginning to affect morale and if a choice was forced upon most of us, he would be asked to leave, despite what he has done here. He is intelligent; perhaps he should focus on learning how to work with Samantha without competing with her."

"Or maybe I should just let Samantha kick his ass and completely deflate his ego." They exchanged smiles and Elizabeth rose from behind her desk. "C'mon," she invited as Teyla stood up. "Let's go see what we can find for dinner."

Daniel strolled through the small marketplace, looking around for the woman he sought. His Abydonian robes made him blend in and no one gave him a second glance. He breathed deeply – something he missed as an ascended being more than he thought possible – as he searched the vendors' faces for the one in particular he hoped to find.

Finally... "Excuse me?" to the baker whose stall was at one end of the row. The woman looked up at him with a smile.

"Yes? What will you be having today?" motioning to her few remaining loaves and sweet treats. "I've not much left." Daniel had no need for sustenance, but he knew he'd get better information if he offered the woman coin first. He pointed to some rolls and a loaf of dark bread. She nodded and wrapped them up in a bit of cloth before taking his money in exchange for the bread. "Anything else I can get for you, stranger?"

"Actually, I was looking for an old friend of mine... the herb seller? I didn't see her in town."

The baker smiled. "No, you wouldn't've. She only comes into town once a week usually, and she was here yesterday. Lovely young woman, though she mostly keeps to herself. Why are you looking for her?" she asked with friendly curiosity.

Daniel was thankful being an ascended being didn't hinder his ability to lie when necessary, and it wasn't a total lie. "I've been away for a long time and the people of our old village told me she came here three cycles ago. I just wanted to say hello while I was here."

The woman looked him up and down carefully before seeing something in him she decided to trust. She nodded towards one end of the village. "Go out that way a bit... just follow the path. It will lead you to her front door."

Daniel nodded his thanks and took his purchases, following the directions the merchant had given him and walking swiftly towards the woman known around the small village as the herb seller.

Tan'je looked up as the stranger approached her small homestead. She didn't sense danger or malicious intent from him, but it paid to be careful, so she hoisted her hoe in front of her, knowing she could use it for defense if it became necessary. As he got closer, her brow furrowed – there was something familiar about him and yet she was sure he was a stranger to her.

Daniel stopped close enough for her to see him while remaining just out of reach of the farming implement. Ascended or not, he could still feel pain while in his human form, and he had no desire to expose himself to that sort of agony today. Reallocating his packages to one hand, he reached up with the other and removed the hood of his robe. Tan'je tilted her head and bit her bottom lip before she finally spoke.

"May I help you, friend? Did you lose your way?"

"Um... no, actually. I found exactly who I was looking for." He motioned to his bundles. "I picked these up in the village... thought you might share them with me."

"That's a very forward assumption to make, sir," Tan'je said as her body shifted into a more defensive position. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

"You don't remember me, do you, Janet?" he asked softly, watching her eyes widen in surprise and confusion. "You really don't have any idea who I am."

Tan'je stepped forward haltingly, her hands becoming slack around the hoe as she stared hard at him. "No... but I should, shouldn't I? You've been in my dreams."

"Tell me about them?"

"Why would you want to know about them?

"Because I can help you understand them; I can give you peace."

"How?" skeptical and intrigued at the same time, though Daniel noted she didn't lower her defenses.

"You said you'd seen me in your dreams. What if I told you they weren't dreams at all - that the people and places in those dreams were real and you were simply remembering another life when you were sleeping?"

"Is that possible?"

"It's not only possible... it's true." He paused a moment, then set the bread bundle on what was apparently her sorting table. Then he slid out of his robe, revealing his rough yet uncommon clothing hidden beneath it. This he folded and put next to the bread, then extended his hand to her. "My name is Daniel Jackson. Why don't you let me help you in the garden while I tell you about some of those people? When we're done, you can decide if you think I'm telling you the truth and then we'll decide where to go from there."

She looked at him a moment longer before jerking her head towards the shed wall. "There are my tools. Help yourself."

Daniel did so, noting with satisfaction that the tough Air Force doctor she had been was obviously still a central part of her makeup. Now he just needed to tap into those memories and help her remember who she really was.

Samantha blinked her eyes open slowly frowning when she realized the tattoo that was beating inside her skull was actually someone knocking at her door. Hadn't Elizabeth said she could have a little extra time today if she needed it? Sam passed a hand over her eyes, trying to rub the sleep from them before pushing the bedcovers aside and rising from the bed. She crossed the small space of her quarters and jerked the door open, scowling at a fretful Rodney McKay before schooling her expression in one of resignation. "Rodney?"

"Samantha...." He scratched the back of his neck. "Um... can I come in?"

She sighed and shrugged, stepping back and opening the door wider for him to cross the threshold. He did so, turning on her when she closed the door.

"Look, it has been brought to my attention more than once that I might have been unreasonably competitive with you."

"Rodney, I didn't come here to compete with you."

"Why did you... come here I mean? You could have gone anywhere, done anything... named your own command. So why come here?"

For the first time since they'd met, Rodney saw Samantha Carter at a loss for words. Finally... "The challenge – coming here offered me something I can't find on earth. I know it's only temporary, but I'm enjoying it for the experience. It has nothing to do with you, Rodney."

"You're sure you didn't come here just to show me up? I know you're smarter, though I'd never admit that to anyone and I know people like you where they only tolerate me," he started babbling. Sam laid a hand on his shoulder and turned him back to the door even as he continued to speak.

"Rodney, Rodney, RODNEY!!" she cut in, breaking up his rambling tirade mid-stream. "Look, I appreciate what you're saying and I'll try to stay out of your way while I'm here, all right?" He nodded dumbly and she gently pushed him out the door. "Good – glad we got that settled," she added as she closed the door behind him. Rodney stood looking between the empty corridor and the closed door for a long moment before shaking his head and walking off. That hadn't gone at all like he had planned.

Sam crossed back to her unmade bed and flopped down onto it, then she curled around her pillow, willing sleep to return. She had been having such a wonderful dream, and it had been so real. Now she only wanted to go back to a time and place that Janet was still alive and a part of her life.

She had only just fallen asleep again, she thought, when the sound of knocking echoed through her brain once again. Sam growled then glanced at the clock, realizing she had been asleep for almost six hours since McKay had woken her. She sat up and tried to shake the cobwebs from her mind; Sam couldn't remember the last time she'd slept so much. Another knock, and then Elizabeth's voice called out to her from the other side.

"Samantha... it's Elizabeth. Are you all right?"

Sam got up and opened her door, motioning Elizabeth in and walking to her coffee pot and flipping it on. She scrubbed her face. "Sorry," she muttered. "I didn't mean to stay asleep so long."

Elizabeth held up a hand to stop her speech. "Samantha, it's perfectly all right. I did tell you to take the time you needed. I wouldn't have disturbed you if we hadn't gotten a priority message for you from the Daedelus. It seems your daughter is aboard and coming to visit."

"My dau... Cassandra? She's coming here?"

"Apparently. I didn't ask and they didn't say, but I thought you might appreciate the heads-up. They should be here in the next few hours."

"Thanks, Elizabeth. I guess I should... do something," looking around her spotless quarters.

"Well, maybe you'd like to get some lunch with me?"

Sam nodded. "That sounds good. I need to grab a shower. Would you like a cup of coffee while you wait or would you rather I meet you in the commissary?"

"If that coffee tastes anywhere as good as it smells, you're going to have a difficult time getting me to go to the commissary."

Sam laughed. "It's even better, I promise." She poured out two cups and took a sip with a sigh of relief. "I, um... I think I have a little milk," bending down to open her tiny refrigerator. "And some sugar...." She broke off when Elizabeth chuckled.

"Black is fine, Colonel. Coffee this good doesn't need anything else. Go on," Elizabeth waved her towards the bathroom. "I'm going to sit here and enjoy this cup of coffee while I figure out the best way to worm its secret out of you."

Sam laughed again and grabbed up her clean clothes before leaving Elizabeth to enjoy her coffee. Then they headed out to get lunch.

Several hours later, Samantha was welcoming Cassandra to Atlantis. Cassandra walked into Sam's arms and held on, smiling when her second mother's arms wrapped around her and hugged her back just as tightly. "Not that I'm not happy to see you, Cassandra, but what are you doing here?" Sam asked when they finally separated. "Aren't you supposed to be in school?"

"I took my exams early. I was hoping to be here yesterday, but...." Her voice trailed off and when she spoke again, her voice was much softer. "I still miss her – so much."

"I know, baby," Sam crooned so only Cassandra could hear her, tucking her into another hug. "So do I," unable to keep the tears out of her eyes, though she refused to let them fall. "C'mon, let's go get you settled and then we can catch up."

"So... Daniel," Tan'je said after they had worked side by side in silence for some time. "Tell me about my dreams."

Daniel smiled and wiped the sweat from his brow. It had been a long time since he had engaged in so much strenuous physical labor without there being a gun involved. "Would you mind if we took a short break? It's been a while since I had to work this hard."

Tan'je smirked and motioned him over to her sorting table. "Wait here," she invited firmly. "I'll bring us some tea to go with our biscuits." Daniel sat down as he'd been told and in a few minutes, Tan'je returned with a small tea service complete with sugar and milk. "So tell me."

So Daniel did... telling the woman now known as the herb seller Tan'je about the life she'd led before. He told her of the woman Janet Fraiser had been, of the Stargate program and of the many people she had known – of the lives she had saved and the work she had done as one of the foremost doctors in the country. He told her of Jack O'Neill and George Hammond, of himself and Teal'c and Cassandra.

"What about the blonde woman? Who is she, Daniel?"

"Samantha Carter – she was your best friend and confidante and you were hers. You were equally brilliant women and many times you worked in tandem to find solutions to problems that threatened the existence of not only the SCG, but the entire world. Sam was the second mother to your adopted daughter, Cassandra and you spent a lot of time both on and off the base together as a family."

"Weren't we all a family? From what you've said and the snippets my dreams have shown...."

"We were an extended family... especially SG1, General Hammond and you – even more so when Cassandra joined us. But what you and Sam shared was more of an immediate family situation; you were raising a daughter together, after all."

Tan'je sat back thoughtfully, contemplating everything Daniel had told her so far and Daniel respected her silence. He knew it was a lot to take in, but describing her dreams and the people in them was the only way he knew to convince her that he was telling the truth.

Finally she turned back to him. "All right, assuming I accept what you've told me as the truth, I have some questions. Like – why me? And how did I end up here? And what do we do now?"

"Well," Daniel drawled slowly, "what we do now is strictly up to you, but as I see it, you have a couple options at least. But maybe I should answer your other questions before I give you your options. That way, at least you can make your decision knowing all the facts."

The rumble of thunder interrupted their conversation. Tan'je looked up to see dark clouds rolling in swiftly and slid from the stool she'd been sitting on. "Come... we need to get indoors." Daniel followed her gaze and nodded. In short order, they had everything put away and were neatly ensconced in Tan'je tiny, efficient living room. Daniel took a good look around, noting the bits of Janet Fraiser's personality that marked it.

"So tell me, Daniel." And he realized, now that the moment had come, that it was a lot harder facing those deep brown eyes with this story than he had expected it to be. Still, he drew a deep breath and started to speak over the rain that suddenly fell in torrents.

"Three years ago, you were sent into a combat situation to save the life of an airman who had been critically wounded in an ambush. While on that mission, you were mortally wounded and would have died had it not been for the interference of those known as the Ancients."

"Why? Why did they interfere? Why not just let me die?"

Daniel cleared his throat. "Because it wasn't actually your time. You see, the Ancients needed Samantha Carter – specifically, they needed her intellect and her focus, and you were a distraction. Your injury was a bit of divine providence for them."

"A distraction?!? You're telling me my life was destroyed and completely turned upside down because some ancient beings felt I was a distraction?!?"

"Nono... well, yes, but not the way...." He scrubbed his hands through his hair and blew out a breath of frustration. "Janet... Tan'je, what do you feel when you think of Sam? What sort of emotion does she generate in you when you dream about her?"

Tan'je closed her eyes and focused on the blonde woman from her dreams. "Warmth," she said at last. "Happiness... completion... love," the last a bare whisper, opening her eyes slowly.

Daniel nodded his head. "She felt the same way towards you although it is my belief it never got past that stage. As far as I know, neither of you ever acted on your feelings."


Daniel blinked. "Um... probably because that sort of relationship is frowned upon by most of the world we're from and pretty much forbidden by the military powers that be. You were both career military."

"That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard."

"Yeah... well, be that as it may – the Ancients needed Sam to defeat the Ori for them. And in order for her to do that, they needed her focus. And in order for them to get that sort of focus from her, they felt they needed to remove you from her life. However, it wasn't your time to die – you still have work of your own to accomplish and they knew that. So the Ancients took advantage of the circumstances they were given and when you were mortally wounded, they took your body and healed you, then brought you here to live."

"Why here? Was I supposed to fulfill whatever accomplishments they foresaw as my destiny selling herbs on this planet?"

"That I don't actually know, nor do I understand why they left you here once the war with the Ori was won. My assumption," folding his hands together, "is that they were hoping it wouldn't matter. They removed your memories of your life before and gave you memories of your life here, but they didn't remove your skills or your desire to heal."

"I see," she drawled slowly. "So now what?"

"Well, as I said before, that is strictly up to you, but as I see it, you basically have three options. You can keep the knowledge that I've given you and stay here. I can remove the dreams and knowledge I have given you and you can stay here. Or...." he hesitated. "Or I can give you back the memories of the woman you were until three years ago and you can leave here. You can go home."

Tan'je eyes widened. "Can you do that?"

"I can. I am an ascended being again, by my choice this time... like the Ancients. I figure if they can break a rule to screw things up so badly, I can break the same rule to fix it."

"Seems fair." Tan'je blew out a breath. "It's also a lot to take in."

"I know. Why don't you take a little time to think about it? I'll, um... I'll fix us some dinner."

"Can you cook?" Daniel nodded vigorously. "Thank you, Daniel. I'm going to tend to the stock."

He let her go, knowing she needed the space to mull over everything he'd told her. Then he started investigating her tiny kitchen as he pondered what to prepare for dinner.

"Ya know, it used to drive mom crazy that you ate so much of this stuff," Cassandra commented as she and Sam scarfed down blue jello Sam's quarters some time later. "She went nuts when I told her it was my favorite as well."

"Yeah, she was always after me to drink less coffee and eat better – said it would make me live longer." Sam bit her lip to keep the tears at bay. "Funny how things work out sometimes, isn't it? I'd give up coffee and blue jello forever if it meant she was alive again."

"So would I," Cassandra agreed fervently. "Coffee has become my life's blood at college."

Samantha frowned. "You're not pushing yourself too hard, are you?"

"No... no, Sam. It's just... it's important to me to make you proud of me... both of you. I'm pretty sure Mom is watching over me somewhere. I don't want her to have a reason to be disappointed either."

"No way, kiddo. What you've done with your life is incredible. Janet would be proud of you; I know I am. You're gonna make a great doctor."

Cassandra accepted Sam's words with a smile. "I enjoy it despite the long hours, especially the research parts. I think if I have the choice I am going to go into that side of it. I know Mom always got such a kick out of figuring out ways to beat all the new and alien viruses and stuff the teams brought back to the SGC."

"Does that mean you are considering the possibility...?" Over the years, it had been made clear to Cassandra that she would be a welcome addition to the Stargate Program when she was finally old enough to choose for herself. Between her intelligence and that fact that she was indeed an alien, it wasn't a difficult stretch for anyone to imagine her as part of a Stargate team. But after Janet's death, Cassie had withdrawn her application from the Air Force Academy and turned her focus completely to medicine. In the three years since, she had completed four years of pre-med and done an internship with a prominent researcher, already proving to be a leading researcher in her own right.

Cassandra shrugged. "Anything is possible. I could do more good there than anywhere else and both Uncle George and General Landry have assured me I would be a welcome addition to the program in any capacity I chose to participate in."

"I think they're right," Sam agreed readily. "But I also think you ought to go and do what makes you happy and there are a lot of memories there... good and bad."

"Is that why you left?"

"Partly," Sam answered with candor. "It really wasn't home anymore. You're all grown up now – you don't really need me... not to be there all the time like a mom would anyway. Jack left and settled off world; Teal'c is busy with the new Jaffa nation; Daniel chose to ascend. And despite my friendships with Vala, Cameron and General Landry – and I still stay in touch with all of them - it just wasn't the same. It wasn't reason enough for me to continue to stay there."

"Are you happy here, Sam?"

Samantha Carter shrugged, wishing Cassie had asked any question but that one. "I'm content, I suppose, and I have a lot to keep me busy here. Besides, this is just temporary. I'm sure there will be something else to come along sooner or later that will take me back to Earth. But for now, I'm happy to be here."

"But you're not happy – you haven't really been since Mom died, have you?" Sam moved away from Cassandra to look out the window at the wide vista of water that stretched out in front of her as far as the eye could see. Cassandra moved up behind her and rested her chin on Sam's shoulder. "It's all right, Sam. I know how you felt then and I know how you feel now. There's no shame in loving someone."

"There was according to the military, and I was unable to take the risk. Even if she'd been willing to give us a chance, if we'd gotten caught...." Sam shook her head and crossed her arms over her chest protectively. "There was too much at stake to gamble our futures... on what might have been."

"That is just so much bullshit rhetoric," Cassie argued. "You were scared she would have said no, but she wouldn't have, Sam. She loved you as much as you loved her. Why do you think she looked out for you the way that she did and made sure you knew you were part of the family?? We were a family... the three of us. Despite rules and regulations, we were a family. And you were happy then – we all were. You deserve to be happy, Sam. We both do."

"Does that mean there is someone special in your life?" Sam asked, hoping to divert the conversation away from her.

"Maybe," Cassandra replied, letting Sam get away with the change of subject for the moment. "There's a guy I've been seeing fairly regularly – a resident of hospital where I did my internship."

"Tell me about him," Sam asked with a smile.

And Cassandra did. There would be plenty of time later to talk about Janet.

Dinner was a silent affair for a while. They were both quite hungry from their earlier labors and the food Daniel had prepared was very good. For her own part, Tan'je was still contemplating all the things that Daniel had shared with her and Daniel was happy to let her be.

When they were done eating, Tan'je poured them fresh tea while Daniel cleared the table and rinsed up the few dirty dishes before resuming his place at her table. After several long minutes, Tan'je raised her eyes from the tea she had been studying intently.

"What would you do?" Daniel's eyes flew up to meet the powerful brown ones staring back at him with single-minded focus. He would have stuttered if she had given him a chance, but instead she repeated her question more forcefully than before. "If this had happened to you, what would you do, Daniel? I'm not unhappy here and yet...."

"And yet you feel pulled towards the story I told you – despite everything, your heart knows it to be the truth." She nodded slowly.

"It doesn't make sense, not when I actually think about it. But it also makes everything in my life suddenly fit like it should. It explains the dreams, my interest in herbs and healing, the reason I have no family here... no ties to my life here."

Daniel waited silently, knowing this was a decision Tan'je had to make on her own. Choosing to be Janet Fraiser again was something she would have to live with; Daniel was only a facilitator to help her achieve that if that was her choice.

"Can I have tonight to think about it?" Tan'je asked. "I think I know what I want to do, but I'd like to be sure."

"Absolutely," Daniel replied without hesitation. "I'll, um... I'll just head out for the night and come back sometime tomorrow... maybe after breakfast?"

"Daniel, don't be ridiculous. It is still pouring rain and there is nowhere to go. You're welcome to the use of my couch for the night." Daniel smiled. That was the Janet he knew and remembered. There had been more than one occasion when she had insisted that the team stay at her house following one too many after work beers.

"Thank you, Ja... Tan'je," pausing when she held up her hand.

"You can call me Janet, Daniel. It feels right coming from you. Now let me get you a blanket...." It wasn't long before they were settled down for the night.

In her room, Tan'je closed her eyes and of their own volition, Daniel's words brought her memories to life in her dreams and once more, Janet Fraiser was reborn.

When morning arrived, Sam woke up disoriented. Her dreams had been vivid - so real that waking had been confusing. She sat up and looked around her quarters, Janet's smell still in her nostrils and her touch on Sam's skin. Sam shook her head to clear it. This was starting to become a problem; if it didn't stop soon, she was going to have to take action.

She threw the covers back and stuck her feet in her sneakers before heading out for an extended early morning run, hoping to clear her head. Coffee and Cassandra would wait until a little in the morning.

When she came back to her room, sweating profusely and pleasantly exhausted, she saw that Cassandra was awake and had the coffee brewing. Sam waved at her on her way to the shower and proceeded to strip down and stand under the cool water watching it sluice down her body. When she came out, toweling off her hair, Cassandra handed her a cup of fresh coffee.

"You're a lifesaver, kiddo," Sam greeted with a smile.

"You all right, Sam? You ran out of here awfully early."

"Yeah, I generally run in the mornings here. It's almost the only time of the day when it's just me and my thoughts. Kinda helps me clear my head." She took a sip of her coffee. "Good coffee," saluting Cassie with her cup and a smile.

"It should be," Cassandra retorted with a grin. "It's Daniel's special blend. He gave me the secret before he ascended. I brought a new supply for you."

"Thanks, Cass. I appreciate it." She swallowed another sip, welcoming the taste that brought back so many happy times to her mind. "I'm glad Daniel imparted his wisdom to someone before he chose to ascend again. It would've been a real shame for this secret recipe to have gotten lost in the shuffle."

Cassandra shrugged. "Yeah, but I'm still mad at him for choosing ascension over life. He could have stayed – he didn't even die this time. He just chose to leave and go live among those freaks."

"Now, Cass...."

"Don't 'Now, Cass' me, Samantha. It's the truth and you know it."

"All I know is what he told me – it was something he needed to do. He had so many fragments... so many pieces of memories and images that continued to plague him. I think he wanted to understand. I can't fault him for that, Cass. There are times I would do just about anything to understand some of life's mysteries."

"Sam, you have spent a good portion of your life unraveling those mysteries. I don't think being an Ancient would change that much for you. Now come on... I wanna look around this place. Dr. Weir promised me a VIP tour and made you my guide."

"She knew you were coming?"

Cassie nodded and smiled. "She helped arrange it." She caught Sam's hand and interlaced their fingers. "So shake a leg, Colonel. I want to see what is so fascinating about this place."

Sam laughed. "Let me put some shoes on and we'll go."

Cassandra cheered and reached for Samantha's empty coffee cup. "I'll even fix you another cup of coffee," shooing Sam off and going back to her small kitchenette to prepare a fresh cup of coffee. Sam watched for a moment, then let the grin form on her face, realizing how nice it was to have Cassandra here with her, however briefly. She donned her boots and accepted her mug back and they headed out into the base that was Atlantis.

Daniel lay on the couch, his eyes closed but not asleep. He was instead in a deep state of kel-noh-reem meditation and appreciating the fact he had taken the time to learn the technique from Teal'c years before. As an ascended being, his body didn't require rest – or food for that matter – but he enjoyed eating and he found the Jaffa meditation gave him clarity in his human form.

He heard Janet stirring around quietly in her tiny kitchen, her movements subdued so as not to disturb his sleep. She built up the fire and put the kettle on to heat water before she snuck out the door to go take care of the animals. He lay there for another minute or two lost in his memories of other times she had taken care not to wake him or the rest of the team after a long night or a hard mission or any of the other times they had all ended up crashing overnight at her house.

After a moment, he stretched like a cat and rolled off the couch, padding into the kitchen to find the water bubbling gently. He poured two cups and added some of the loose tea he'd found, then started rooting around for something to fix for breakfast.

He had just sliced up the remaining bread from the previous day when the door opened softly and Janet crept in. When she saw him standing at the counter, she started then gave him a smile. "Good morning," he offered, returning her smile. "I hope you don't mind," he said, motioning to his tentative breakfast preparations. Tan'je blinked and shook her head.

"No, not at all," she assured him. She set the bucket of milk aside and handed him half a dozen eggs. "It's a nice change actually. Oh," she remembered, "Good morning."

They worked in tandem for the few minutes it took for their food to be done, then they each took a plate and seated themselves at the small table. They busied themselves eating for a moment, but finally Tan'je broke the silence.

"Daniel?" watching his head pop up and his eyes meet hers. "If I to reclaim my memories from my dreams and become this Janet Fraiser you say I am, what would I be going home to? According to you, I've been dead to all the people I knew for three years. Is there anything for me to go home to?"

"Janet, the people that you worked with at Stargate Command are used to weird occurrences and unbelievable happenings; they've even seen a miracle or two in their time. That was a normal state of affairs in the hectic life that was the Stargate program. They would welcome you home with open arms and hearts. Cassandra would do the same – I know she's really missed you. Sam did her best, but you were... are... Cassie's mom; that never changed."

He paused for a sip of tea and she waited, sensing he wasn't through speaking. "Your immediate family – parents, brothers, that sort of thing – that would be your decision... whether or not you'd want to try to explain to them that you were MIA for three years instead of KIA as was originally believed. I'm sure we could come up with some sort of plausible cover story for you if you wanted to contact them and reintegrate them back into your life." Another hesitation.

"I'm not sure about your house. I know at one time Sam and Cassie discussed selling it since Cassie went away to college instead of staying in the area, but I honestly can't tell you what they decided. I think Cassandra decided to keep it though; it was her last link to you."

He stopped speaking and it was silent for a while as Tan'je considered his words. "All right," she said at last. "Let's do it. I want to know who I really am... where these dreams actually came from. Will I remember my time here as Tan'je?"

"Yes... unless you'd rather not." Tan'je shook her head.

"I think I need to."

"All right. Let's move to the couch. You're going to want to rest for a while once were done." So they shifted to the small couch and Daniel started the process of restoring the life and memories of Dr. Janet Fraiser to the woman known as Tan'je.

"This place is pretty awesome, Sam," Cassie enthused as they worked their way through all the nooks and crannies.

"Yeah, I'm enjoying it. It's a different sort of challenge for me. I am mostly a scientist here. I like that. It's nice to be able to indulge the nerdish side of me for a change."

Cassandra smiled at Sam's enthusiasm. Sam's self-admitted 'nerdishness' had been one reason Cassie had been so eager to go into research and Cassandra knew that part of Sam had been thwarted on a regular basis to allow the military side to take charge. It was nice to see that science still held such passion for her after all this time.

"I'm glad you came here, Sam."

"So are we," Elizabeth Weir broke into their conversation as they passed her office. She waved them in. "So what do you think of Atlantis, Cassandra?"

"Pretty cool place, actually," she said, nodding her head. "Thank you for allowing me to come here."

"I'm glad you did," Elizabeth assured her. "I was wondering if you might want to visit the land part of the planet as well. Teyla offered to be your guide if you were interested. I know there is a hot spring there that is used by the locals as a place of spiritual healing and enlightenment."

"Sure," she agreed offhandedly. "I'd like that." She turned to Sam. "You gonna come?"

"Why not?" exchanging glances with Weir and shrugging. "I'm not sure what sort of enlightenment I need but I never pass up a soak in a hot tub."

"I remember," Cassie smirked. She didn't see the sparkle go out of Sam's blue eyes, but Elizabeth did.

"Great," Elizabeth broke in. "So tomorrow... about fifteen hundred hours?" Cassie looked at Sam and she nodded. "Excellent," Elizabeth enthused again. "Now would you ladies like to join me for lunch? I hear it is SOS day."

Sam laughed. "Can't miss that special military treat, can we? C'mon, Cass... let Elizabeth and I show you one of the great things in life you missed out on by not choosing the military as a career."

Cassie winced. "Why do I think I am going to regret lunch?"

Their laughter followed them all the way to the commissary.

Janet Fraiser lay very still, her eyes closed and her breathing rhythmic and deep. She wasn't sleeping, yet she wasn't quite awake either. Daniel had helped her achieve a deep state of kel-noh-reem before beginning the transference of her memories. It had to be done carefully to keep them cohesive and in real-time order so it was very slow going. He was extremely conscious of everything that passed from him to her – some of the memories made him laugh; others brought a tear to his eye. And the strength of love that flowed between Janet Fraiser and Samantha Carter was palpable, but as he'd suspected, it had never been consummated.

Finally, at last he was done and he sat back, removing his hands from her head and chest and folding them in his lap. He closed his eyes and blew out a breath, then rose from his place beside her. There were still things to do around the small homestead and it would be a while before Janet was awake.

It was almost dark when her lashes fluttered and dark eyes peeked between slitted openings. Daniel had been busy – a small fire crackled in the fireplace, candles were randomly lit around the room and the scent of something really good wafted to her nose. Janet opened her eyes further and sat up slowly to find Daniel sitting on the hearth facing her, eyes closed in meditation. Even as she watched, his blue eyes opened and focused on her.

"How do you feel?"

Janet stood and crossed the two steps necessary to reach him and embraced him fully. "Amazing," she answered honestly, "and exhausted. But for the first time in recent memory," she continued, "I feel whole again. Thank you, Daniel," she whispered. "What I owe you for this is...."

"... exactly nothing, Janet. What happened to you was unforgivable. I'm glad I was able to rectify a situation that should never have been in the first place."

"Won't you get into trouble for this, Daniel? What happened to non-interference?"

"I'm not really worried about it," he said with a shrug. "Since I chose to ascend this time, as opposed to dying first, there's not a lot anyone can say. Besides, they don't want to be called on the interference that brought this about in the first place." He released her from the hug, but kept an arm around her waist to steady her, then led them back to the couch to sit. "The next question is now what do you want to do?"

"I want to go home. I want to see Cassandra and General Hammond and threaten Col. O'Neill with honkin' big needles; take charge of my infirmary and patch up Sgt. Siler again. And I really want to kiss Samantha Carter stupid, like I should have done a long time ago." Daniel laughed and Janet blushed. "Did I say that out loud?"

"Yeah, ya did," he said. "But it's okay, Janet. You two deserve to be happy together. I have to tell you though, with her level of intelligence that will have to be some kiss."

"I'm not sure Sam would welcome that from me."

"I am," Daniel said firmly. "But first, I think I need to catch you up on what has happened in the three years you've been gone from their lives. Then we can head back to Earth to reintroduce you as soon as you think you're ready."

Janet nodded and moved to the kitchen to dish up their supper. She had a feeling this was going to take a while.

"How long are you going to stay, Cass?" Sam asked as they settled into her quarters for the night. "I mean you're welcome as long as you'd like to stay; it's great having you here."

"It's great to be here. I can see why you were so anxious to be a part of this place. I wouldn't mind putting roots down here for a little while."

"Wow... really? I... I'm sure Elizabeth would approve your participation, but are you sure that's what you want to do? What about school? What about your young man?"

"I don't know, Sam. I feel so... I feel settled here – at peace. Life at home is a little crazy right now. I mean, I like Freddie a lot – he's a good guy, a lot of fun...."


"But he wants to get serious. Sam... I am too young to get serious with anyone right now."

"Cass, you're going to have to deal with him eventually. Running away isn't going to solve anything."

"You speaking from experience, Sam?"

"That's not fair, Cassandra! I didn't run away from anything. Your mother died; I moved on from that. I had to. But I didn't run away... I stayed and did my duty until that duty was done!"

"You didn't, Sam. Oh, you did your duty for sure – no one knows that better than I do. But you didn't move on; you just sorta moved around mom's death so you could do your duty."

"Oh really? Then what about Pete Shannahan, huh? I moved on with him."

The look Cassandra gave Sam was so telling, Sam blushed under the scrutiny. "Uh... NO. He was a convenient excuse that you discarded as soon as you feasibly could without too much gossip." Cassandra reached for Sam's hands and held on tightly. "I always hoped you and mom would get together like a real couple. You were my parents and I loved you both very much. I still love you, Sam. You're still my second mom and you'll always be my hero. I just want you to find happiness."

Sam smiled and cupped Cassie's face in one hand. "That's all I want for you, Cass." She paused. "Hey, how did we get so serious here? You wanna play some chess? I miss our bi-monthly games."

"You bet. You get the board and I'll fix us some coffee."

"So you never did answer my original question, Cass," Sam called out as she pulled the set from its case. "How long are you going to stay?"

"Well it sorta depends on a couple things, but if you're cool with it I thought I'd wait until the Odyssey returned on its next supply run."

"Really? Can you stay that long?"

"Sure... especially if I can work in the labs here."

Sam grinned. "I can probably arrange something."

"Thanks, Sam. Now c'mon and let me kick your butt."

Sam cocked her eyebrow and chuckled. "You think you've got it in you, kiddo?" Cassandra nodded vigorously and picked up both cups of coffee before moving to the table where Sam was setting up the pieces. "All right then," Sam added, motioning to the set. "Bring it on."

Daniel left Janet's small house just as the sun peeked over the horizon. She had asked him for some time to settle her affairs on the planet before leaving with him. As she explained to him – "After being away for three years, I don't think one day will make a difference, Daniel. And I can't leave the animals to fend for themselves."

Daniel had smiled and agreed. That sounded a lot like the Janet he remembered – always looking out for those who weren't able to take care of themselves. Besides, he had some legwork to do himself and the sooner he got started, the sooner he could take Janet home.

His first trip was to Chulak to find Teal'c and tell him the news.

"Are you sure about this DanielJackson?" Teal'c asked when Daniel finished relating his story. "It seems a most unusual situation."

"I know it does, Teal'c, but I swear to you it's true. Dr. Fraiser is alive and ready to return to Earth. I thought you might want to be there to greet her."

"Indeed," Teal'c agreed. "When will she arrive?"

"Two days, max. I need time to get Sam there."

"Is Colonel Carter still on Atlantis?" Daniel nodded. "It will take you much longer than two days, DanielJackson. The only access to the Pegasus Galaxy is still by interstellar travel."

"Not a problem, Teal'c. Being ascended has to have a few perks."

Teal'c almost smiled, his lips just barely quirking with the slightest movement. "I will see you at Stargate Command in two days time." Then he bowed and went to find Braeta'c. He knew his friend and mentor would wish to welcome Janet Frasier home.

Daniel looked around as he stepped through the gate, remembering the last time he had been in this place – to rescue the Col. Jack O'Neill. He had often wondered if that had been the best choice for Jack... and for the woman he had left behind here. He figured he was about to find out.

As he approached the center of the small village, hails rang out on either side from those that recognized him, and it didn't take long before he recognized Jack O'Neill with an expectant Laira and a five-year-old son by his side.


"Hello, Jack." They embraced briefly then Daniel extended a hand to Jack's wife. "Hello, Laira."

"Hello, Daniel," she greeted, accepting his hand and pulling him forward to brush a kiss over his cheek. "This is our son, Warren." Daniel knelt down to shake the boy's hand and then tousled his hair before rising. "Would you like to join us for lunch? We were just preparing to eat."

"I'd love to, thank you."

"So, what brings you to Edora, Space Monkey? I thought you had given up the whole human thing to ascend again."

"Yeah, I did. Then I discovered something that needed fixing and here I am." Daniel didn't miss Laira's clutch on Jack's arm and hastened to reassure them both. "Janet Fraiser is alive."

Jack's mouth opened and he blinked rapidly enough to create a breeze. Laira stared at him in amazement. She had never seen her husband so flummoxed. Finally though, Jack took a deep breath. "Excuse me?" he said, cocking his head. "What did you say?"

"Janet Fraiser is alive."

"Are we talking about the same Janet Fraiser... good ol' Doc Fraiser with the honkin' big needles that were always pointed in my direction?"

"One in the same."

"I'll be a son of a bitch. How the hell did that happen?"

So Daniel told them the whole sordid story and why he felt compelled to straighten out the whole fubar'd situation.

"Does Carter know?" Daniel blinked. He had always wondered if Jack realized what was between the CMO and his second, but they had never discussed it. Jack crunched up his eyebrows. "C'mon, Daniel... I may not be as smart as Carter, but even I could see they were a family, no matter how unconventional. So I'll ask you again – does Carter know?"

"N...no... not yet. She's still on Atlantis, so getting her back to the SGC will take a little more personal touch than a trip through the Stargate. General Landry and then General Hammond are my next stops to ensure they are prepared for her arrival. Then I'll go get Sam before I bring Janet back to Earth."

"So why are you telling me this?"

"I thought you might want to be there to greet her, Jack."

Jack extended a hand to Daniel. "I always knew you were one of the good guys, Daniel, even though you chose to be an ascended being again. Thanks. So when is her big homecoming?"

"I told Teal'c two days. That gives me a chance to let everyone know." A beat. "Would you like to come with me back to Earth? You can bring the family; I'm sure Janet would love to meet them."

Jack and Laira exchanged glances. "Can you give us a minute, Daniel?"

"Huh? Oh... sure," he replied, scrambling up from the table and walking out towards the field to give them some privacy. He breathed in deeply, relishing the fresh air and sunshine, something he could only appreciate aesthetically in his human form. For all the amazing things he enjoyed as an ascended being, Daniel missed the tactile things he experienced as a human being.

"Daniel!" Jack called, getting his attention and waving him over. "Laira would like to know if it's safe for a woman in her condition to travel through the Stargate."

"Yes," Daniel assured her immediately. "Yes, of course. I would never do anything to endanger you or your children. Jack knows that and I hope now so do you."

"Thank you, Daniel," she said softly. "It just makes me a little nervous."

"Laira, you don't have to go if you're uncomfortable with the idea. I promise to take good care of Jack and bring him back unharmed if you prefer to stay on Edora. But you will be perfectly okay traveling through the Stargate and I imagine there are a few people on earth that would love to meet you."

"Give me a few minutes to collect some things." Daniel nodded and the two men watch her and Warren walk towards their small home.

"You've got a good thing here, Jack."

"Yeah, I do, but I'm glad I'm not gonna miss the look on Carter's face when Doc Fraiser steps through that gate." He hesitated and smile. "I'm also glad she's not gonna have any big, honking needles pointed in my direction either... one nice thing about retirement on another planet," he commented, unconsciously rubbing his backside.

Daniel chuckled and then Laira reappeared and they headed to the Stargate. Next stop – Earth and Stargate Command.

"Dr. Jackson? General O'Neill?? Stand down!" Landry barked to the Marines facing the gate ramp with weapons drawn. He rushed down from the control room and extended his hand. "Not that you're not welcome but this really is quite a surprise. And who is this?"

"More than you know sir," Jack replied. "Meet my wife Laira and my son Warren." They exchanged greetings, then Jack asked, "Is there somewhere Laira and Warren could go lie down for a bit? First trip through the gate and all...." Landry nodded and signaled an airman, giving him whispered instructions before Daniel broke in.

"General Landry, do you think we could go upstairs and talk? And could you contact General Hammond as well?"

"He's retired in Texas, but we could get him on the line, certainly. What's this all about?" he asked as he led them out; Laira and Warren went out the other way after a reassuring word from Jack.

"Daniel!!" an unexpected voice exclaimed as they exited the gate room. "What a wonderful surprise and you're looking so... human."

"Hello, Vala. Would you like to join us?"

"Oh yes... absolutely," tucking her hand in the crook of his arm. "Where are we going?"

"The briefing room," Daniel said. "I have news."

"Good news, I hope. I really don't like bad news, you know."

"Oh, trust me... this is good."

They took seats around the table and Landry cued in the speakerphone. Then Daniel proceeded to tell his story one more time. When he finished, he was met with dead silence before Hammond spoke up, his voice tinny. "Son, are you serious?"

"Yes sir, I am. I've talked to her; she wants to come home."

"Outstanding, Dr. Jackson! When?"

"I still need to contact Sam and bring her back, so day after tomorrow. Teal'c will be here then as well."

"I'll get a flight out tonight. This is the best news I've had in a while, son. Thank you."

"Trust me, General... it's my pleasure."

"I'll be there tomorrow." And with that he hung up. Landry turned to Daniel.

"One minor thing... Cassandra is on Atlantis visiting with Samantha, so you'll need to bring them both back with you." Daniel nodded.

"Could you bring Cassandra first, Daniel?" Jack asked. "I'd like to spend a little time with my god-daughter before her mother gets back, and besides, I think Carter should be surprised."

Daniel wasn't as sure about the second part, but he did agree to the first. So he headed out as the rest made preparations for Janet Fraiser's return.

"Daniel, are you sure?" Elizabeth asked in the lamp lit darkness of her office. He was frankly a little tired of that question and its equivalents, but he couldn't blame them for asking either. It was truly a unique set of circumstances they were being presented with.

"Yes, Dr. Weir... Elizabeth – I'm sure. And Cassandra and Samantha are the two remaining people I need to return to Earth so I can bring her home to the family she remembers. I promise not to keep Sam away too long – I can't. She's under orders to be here and she's too good a soldier to ignore that. But I can take her back briefly under the guise of an emergency at the SGC."

"You could have just taken them both without me knowing."

"Yes," Daniel agreed, "but telling you first seemed like the courteous thing to do."

Weir smiled. "Well, I appreciate it. So you're taking Cassandra first?"

"Yeah... Sam won't even need to know that she's gone. Just that she's out and about exploring. Can you call her in and let her know the situation? Not about Janet... I'll explain that to her. Just that I need to take her back to Earth for a bit and to be ready to go when Sam goes out running in the morning."

"Do you want to explain it to her now... about Janet, I mean?"

"I don't think so," Daniel said honestly. "I don't think she could keep that kind of news from Sam."

"Ah... good point. All right. I'll ask her to meet me here in the morning; then you can do your thing." She grinned at him. "This really is fantastic news, Daniel."

He smiled back at her. "I know. I'll be back early." He was looking forward to this.

"You're not allowed to interfere like this," Oma Desala disapproved. "Daniel, you know the rules and you chose to embrace them when you chose to become one of us again."

"Screw the rules, Oma... no one follows them. You only use them when they work in your favor. I am simply fixing someone else's screw up here!"

"There will be consequences."

"There always are," he replied in disgust. "In this case, there already have been – far reaching ones - so don't try to take a holier than thou attitude with me. I am putting things back to rights!"

Oma was silent for a long moment after he finished ranting. "You're a breath of fresh air here, Daniel. I remember when we were all once as passionate as you are. And you're right – what happened to Janet Fraiser was unfortunate. I am glad you are correcting it. As for the consequences...." She shrugged and smiled at him and Daniel bowed briefly in her direction before the separated once more.

"She's alive???" Cassandra cried when Daniel told her the news. He nodded and Cassie threw herself into his arms. "Oh, God, Daniel... my mom's alive," she said with laughter and tears. Do you know how incredible that is??" He nodded and stroked her head but didn't answer, letting her ramble out her first reaction. "Oh wow... wait until Sam finds out."

"Yeah... about that – do you think we should surprise her?"

"Oh, that would be so cool. Yes!"

"Then come on and let me get you back to Earth so I can do the same for Sam. Everyone else is already waiting." Cassandra took his hand and the shimmered out of existence. Elizabeth just shook her head and waited from him to return.

Janet was done with everything she could do around the tiny farm she had called home for three years. She had made arrangements with one of her part-time apprentices to assume responsibility for the animals and the herbs with the understanding that if she had not returned from her journey in a set amount of time, he would take over full-time.

When news of her departure became public knowledge, many of her neighbors and fellow villagers came by to wish her well and assure her that she would be missed among them. She was surprised; she never would have guessed she had so many friends here.

But it didn't alter her determination to leave – she was ready to go home. And when she closed her eyes to sleep her final night on the planet, her memories became her dreams and she smiled.

"Daniel?" Sam blinked to be sure she was seeing correctly. She distinctly remembered him ascending – what was he doing here now?

"Hi, Sam," he said with the friendly smile he always had for her.

"Not that I'm not glad to see you, but what are you doing here?"

"I'm here to take you back to the SGC."

"Excuse me?"

"There's an emergency and I've been asked to take you back."

Sam frowned. That made absolutely no sense. Daniel was an ascended being. He wasn't a taxi service the SGC could call on a whim. And even if he was, wasn't that a complete breach of the non-interference rule they had?? Deep in thought, Sam didn't even realize he had moved until he reached forward and smoothed away the frown lines on her forehead. Then he covered her lips.

"Don't ask questions and assume that I am telling you the truth. There is an emergency that requires your attention on Earth. I'm here to take you home as quickly as possible."

"What about...?"

"It's been cleared. Now trust me and hang on," he said, extending his hand to her. As they disappeared, Elizabeth Weir smiled at Teyla.

"I would like to see Col. Carter's face when she sees Janet Fraiser."

"So would I, Teyla. So would I. In the interim, I'll see if I can have a word or two with Rodney. I'd really like a little more cooperation around here."

"Good luck," Teyla wished her as she headed for her training session with Ronin.

"All right, Hailey... what seems to be the problem?"

"I'm not sure, ma'am," the young major replied. She hadn't been told why they were putting on this charade for the colonel's benefit, only that she needed to keep it up for a few minutes at the most. She hoped that was the truth; she had no desire to look like an idiot in front of her mentor. "There seems to be a problem with the dialing program. It keeps overloading, but the diagnostic I ran on it shows nothing wrong. I've tried everything I can think of, ma'am."

"It's all right, Hailey...." Sam started when she was interrupted by Sgt. Harriman's voice.

"Unauthorized off-world activation! Incoming wormhole!"

"Well," Sam mumbled. "At least we know it works from the other end," wondering why General Landry didn't close the iris. And then she knew. "Oh. My. God." she whispered, frozen to her seat.

As soon as Walter's voice rang out, a number of people stepped into the gate room – Teal'c, Braeta'c, Jack O'Neill, Gen. Hammond and Cassandra. The marines, Hank Landry, Cameron Mitchell and Vala waited on the perimeter, just in case. But then Daniel stepped through holding Janet Fraiser's hand and the marines cleared out to the commissary where there was a huge party already set up to welcome Janet Fraiser home.

Jack O'Neill claimed the first hug. "God, doc... it's so good to have you home," and from there she went to George Hammond.

"Welcome back, Doctor Fraiser. You have certainly been missed."

Braeta'c held her momentarily, whispering his thankfulness for her safe return, and Teal'c held her tightly before caressing her face gently and holding her eyes in unspoken thought. Then she spotted Cassandra and simply opened her arms and held on as her daughter picked her up and spun her around in a circle, laughing out loud for joy.

For her part, Janet was overwhelmed. For three years, she had dreamed of these people, but she had never imagined the love she felt flowing from them in waves, and when Cassandra finally put her feet back on the floor, they crowded in around her in a big hug. Then the security doors opened and Landry called out, "Clear the gate room." Though he and the rest were looking forward to their introductions, this greeting was something that couldn't wait. The rest touched Janet briefly one last time before filing out the door opposite the one Samantha Carter now stood in. Landry looked up at the control room and nodded to Hailey, who shut off the cameras and closed the blast door before heading to the commissary herself. This was one party no one wanted to miss.

When the blast doors clanged shut, Janet turned to find turbulent blue eyes focused on her intently. She extended her hand, but Sam was frozen to the spot, afraid that what she was seeing was nothing but a dream or a mirage. Janet walked slowly towards her, feeling Sam's eyes on her with a burning intensity. When she was within touching distance, she stopped.

"Are you real?" came the strangled whisper from barely moving lips.

"As real as you are, Sam."

"Can I... can I touch you?" reaching out hesitantly.

"God, yes!" Janet exclaimed, taking Sam's hand and letting her pull Janet into her body. Sam closed her eyes as soon as their bodies met, relishing a contact she had never expected to feel. Then she opened her eyes and lifted a trembling hand to Janet's face, tenderly tracing the planes and contours as though to memorize them by touch alone.

Janet brought their clasped hands to her lips and brushed a kiss over Sam's knuckles, feeling her breathing hitch and her shaking increase with just that minor contact. She placed Sam's hand on her hip and let hers comb gently through the locks gone messy from Sam's mad dash from the control room until it rested at the back of Sam's neck.

"Sam?" she whispered, urging her head down with only the slightest pressure. Sam's eyes flitted between Janet's eyes and lips and she was beyond caring whether or not anyone was watching. It had taken her a heartbeat to realize what she had lost on P3X-666 and she had lived three years with those regrets. She had sworn never to regret like that again.

"Hmm?" Sam replied, letting Janet guide her until they were breathing the same air.

"I'm going to kiss you stupid now."

"All right," Sam agreed and then their lips met for the first time and nothing else mattered. It started out slow - lips only – until Janet's tongue traced Sam's bottom lip seeking entrance into her mouth. Sam groaned and opened her mouth, allowing Janet to probe for a long moment before their tongues started to fight for dominance. They pulled away slowly, breathing heavily and holding onto one another with a fierce grip.

"Oh... um... uh...." Sam stammered softly. Janet leaned harder into Sam's body and nuzzled her neck with a smile.

"Is that a good thing?"

"Let's just say too many kisses like that and being stupid won't be an issue. I won't have any working braincells left to be smart with. Wow!"

"Then you better get used to being stupid Col. Carter, because now that you're mine, I'm not giving it or you up." They both knew there were a lot of things they were going to need to talk about – Sam was still in the Air Force and it still frowned on same sex unions. Then there was the little matter of Janet's rise from the dead and what she wanted to do now that she was alive on Earth once more. More immediately was the fact that there was an entire command waiting for them in the commissary to welcome Janet back. But it was all a moot point as they looked into one another's eyes, making promises they would eventually say aloud.

Then Sam leaned down and captured Janet's lips possessively once more and from where Daniel sat, it was a beautiful thing. Sometimes - once in a lifetime – what hurts the most is what, in the end, finally completes us and brings absolute joy.

The End

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