Title: Lying to Yourself

Author: Gail R. Delaney

Rating: PG

Pairing: Sam/Jack

Summary: Their doubles shove reality into the light.

Disclaimer: I don't own them. I just like to play. No copyright infringement intended, and no money was made.

Genre: Romance

Timeline: During Double Jeopardy

Spoilers: Beneath The Surface, Solitudes, Message in a Bottle, Divide and Conquer, and Double Jeopardy

Feedback: Absolutely

Archives:

It was disconcerting to look into someone else's face and see your own. To know that, up to a point in your shared lives, you were the same. You felt the same things, had the same memories, and made the same choices. But because a heart beat in your own chest, and a 48-hour power pack gave her life, your fates were now radically different.

Captain Samantha Carter, a machine, had very little true memory of Major Samantha Carter's relationship with Colonel O'Neill. She hadn't nearly died with him under the ice of Antarctica. She hadn't fought to save his life when an alien device pinned him against the Gate Room wall. She hadn't been wired to a Tok'ra Za'tarc machine and listened to her commanding officer profess the 'blurry' extent of his feelings for her.

But the moment the rings dropped, and Sam turned to look at her machinated self, she saw in her doppelganger's eyes that their counterparts had shared so much more.

It was the way the other Sam looked at Jack. She searched his face to judge whether he was 'her' Colonel, or the flesh and blood original. And when the acknowledgement passed over her features, Sam knew it was more than just camaraderie and the military chain-of-command that shadowed Captain Carter's eyes.

It was love.

Could that be? Could their creators have done such an extensive job as to form a completely artificial life form that was self-aware and capable of human emotion?

But it was right there. In her 'own' blue eyes.

Sam couldn't fault her clone for her bravery. They fought side by side, and when Sam was unable to access the control panel, her other self did – despite the pain it obviously caused her. As the doors closed, cutting off the approaching Jaffa, Sam turned and saw her other self fall.

It was an eerie and cold sight, and her heart clenched in her chest. She ran forward, kneeling beside herself, feeling very much like she was having an out of body experience. Her twin looked up and their gazes met, and she knew she was looking on her own death mask.

"Help the Colonel," she whispered.

Sam glanced up at Jack, even though she knew the other Colonel was the topic of concern. They knew he was wounded, and hadn't look good when they left him, but what good would it do now to tell her?

"We will. Thank you so much for your help."

Captain Carter smiled weakly. "It's nothing you wouldn't have done if you could have. Remember, we're the same."

Sam could only nod. This wasn't like meeting herself from the parallel universes. Those Samantha's had lived different lives... made different choices. They were different women. But 'this' Sam... they may not have shared the same last few years... but there were connections between them that no one could ever understand.

"My power pack was damaged from the charges," Captain Carter said, her voice faint. "I won't last much longer."

"Is there anything I can do?"

She shook her head. "No. There's nothing."

Sam felt helpless. If 'she' had, in essence, built the packs – with enough time – she was sure she could fix them. But there wasn't enough time.

"You can do one thing for me."

"Anything."

"Tell him I love him."

She didn't want to look up at him – afraid to see what she knew would be there – but she could no longer stop the action as stop time. Her gaze flicked up to him, and his dark eyes bore into her. It was the same expression she had learned to recognize so much lately. One of resolution – of acceptance – that what his heart felt was wrong, and had to be denied. She knew the expression because she felt the same feelings in her heart.

Sam looked down again. "I'm sure he knows," she finally said.

Her counterpart slowly lowered her eyelids and swallowed. "I know he knows. I just want him to hear it. And if you tell him, it will almost be like it came from me."

"I understand."

Then Captain Carter's eyes slid closed completely and her head fell to the side. Sam couldn't breathe, the moment intensely surreal and almost painful. She looked up again to Jack, and he looked uncomfortable. Not the "I'm hosting for dignitaries and all I want is to escape' uncomfortable. Sam understood. It was almost as if he had just watched 'her' die.

"Come on," Jack finally said, motioning with his hand.

He gripped her elbow as she stood. The action wasn't necessary; they both knew she was capable of standing on her own. But the contact felt good. Reassuring. His fingers lingered on her arm, the tips providing gentle pressure. Sam looked up at him, and for a moment she saw the Jonah she remembered... the man who told her how he felt. The man that 'could' tell her.

Then Colonel O'Neill returned, and his hand fell away.

"Come on. Let's finish this," he said, and started down the hall.

[][][][]

Jack took the rings alone to the throne room. As they disappeared, he turned and saw Aryan kneeling beside his 'other' self.

It was just too damn freaky for his liking. And fundamentally wrong.

Besides that, he was still trying to recover from watching the 'other' Carter die. A scene he hoped he would never relive – robot-Carter or not. The gut-wrenching terror he had felt – not that long ago – when he thought he had lost Sam to the alien entity, was still too raw. Too close. Too real.

His damn old heart couldn't take this too many more times.

His counterpart lay on the floor, a pool of milky-silver fluid forming around him. What Jack assumed would be their equivalent to blood. Had he himself sustained the same injuries, he would have been dead long ago. He looked away to Aryan.

"Go tell your people Cronus is dead. If they still think he's a god, have them come take a look."

Aryan stood, the look of bewilderment – as if he were just being dragged along on this crazy ride – only slightly diminished since the last time Jack saw him. Aryan looked down at the robot O'Neill, and back up at him with a nod before turning to leave.

Jack didn't want to look down at his own possible death, but he had to. The other O'Neill was dying, and he didn't need Sam to tell him so.

"Carter and Teal'c?"

Jack winced. Why the hell didn't he let Carter do this?

Because he was the Colonel... the one responsible... and it was his job. And it sucked.

He crouched down. "Yours don't look so good." Jack paused before adding, "The real ones are okay."

"Are we still so far from real to you?"

Jack swallowed. Hell, in some ways this pile of circuits and transistors was more real than he had felt in years. The only time he had felt real... whole... had been in the mines with Sam. Or Thera, as he had known her. He had been allowed to accept what he felt... and he knew she felt the same. He had almost resented the moment when the memories came back to him. When he knew who he was. And the way things had to be.

"No," he managed to say. "I guess not."

"Then I believe we are done." Freaky-duplicate-O'Neill's voice trailed off as he spoke.

Jack saw the end coming, and knew what he had to do. To say.

"Look, your Carter wanted you to know something. She wanted Carter – the real – 'my Carter – to tell you, but she stayed..." Frustration took over and Jack cursed under his breath.

"You need not tell me. I know she loved me."

Jack winced again. This was territory he didn't want to navigate, and he looked away rubbing his hand across the back of his neck.

"Are we so different, you and I, that we wouldn't feel the same thing for a woman?"

Jack didn't answer.

"You may think you're convincing, but I am you. Don't wait too long..."

"Yeah, you're me enough to know why-"

His counterpart's head rolled to the side, and Jack knew it would do no more good to argue. The rings behind him engaged again, but he didn't turn away from the lifeless form of himself on the wet floor. The rings disappeared, and he heard the tip of Teal'c staff weapon tap the floor.

"We're ready to go, sir," came Carter's voice.

Jack stood, adjusting his P90 against his chest. "Yeah. Let's go."