Disclaimers and such on Chapter One.
Lost in Space (A Cliche in Five Parts)
by Ana Lyssie Cotton Chapter Five: Kettlebones and Whimsey-Driven Engines of Thought

"So..."

"Good to see you, sir." Glad you're alive, glad you're not dead, oh, and by the way, we're stuck in a universe that isn't ours and I can't get us home. But she didn't say that.

"You too, Carter." He fingered the pulse pistol he was still carrying, then shot her a glance. "So... I see you fell in with the leather crowd again. Are we taking motorcycles home?"

"Something like that, sir." Formality, her only refuge. Then she frowned, remembering, "Sir? You could... understand them?"

He gave a shrug. "Yeah, they injected me with these microbial thingies."

"Translator microbes." A fleeting grimace, because she knew where they colonized. "Really damn useful."

"Couldn't understand 'em before. Worse than Daniel when he's really drunk."

"Yup."

They walked through the crowd in silence, watching the swish of Aeryn's black coat in front of them.

"So..."

"You said that."

"Yup." He eyed her again. "Daniel, T and Jonas?"

"Alive and well on Moya."

"Moya?"

"Their ship." And here was more stable ground. She could illustrate a living ship, sketch curves in the air and babble happily about it. No need to touch on anything remotely serious. "She's--"

"Later." He cut her off.

Sensing a change in the crowd that her commanding officer had picked up, Sam stiffened and began looking around alertly, scanning the people for the reason. She soon spotted them. Enforcers (they had to be, no one would be in bulky black like that, with a business-like attitude without being cops) were forcing their way through from the far left.

"Damn." Crichton was behind them, Aeryn having slowed her pace slightly so they were now traveling closer together. "Chiana?"

"Pod's ready to go." The Nebari chirped from the coms.

"Good. Sam--"

"HALT!"

"Go!" John snapped, shoving at Sam's back.

She ran, the General and Crichton following her. She kept Aeryn's back in her forward vision and scanned the sides. The crowd didn't exactly part for them, but from the things people were saying, they weren't all that fond of the enforcers. So it didn't hinder them, either.

Aeryn suddenly dashed to the right, and Sam followed her. People and market stalls and more people went past in a blur. And then they broke through into a clearing of some sort.

That was wrong. She knew that was wrong, but it was too late by the time Aeryn was turning back.

"Chiana! Get the pod off the ground!"

"But, Crichton--"

"Just do it!"

Something whined, and everything went black.

-

"Some rescue, Carter."

"Bite me, Jack."

"Tell me where."

John groaned. They were bickering. Great. Just great. He opened one eye and discovered they were in the normal non-descript cell he was used to waking up in. He made a face and felt cool fingers stroking his brow. "Hey, baby."

"Hey yourself." Aeryn eyed him. "They're being frelling annoying. Can I shoot one of them when we're free?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"It wouldn't be nice."

"Hey!" Sam yelped, having apparently heard them. "No shooting the General!"

"Aw, Carter, I didn't know you cared."

"I don't."

"HEY!" John yelled before they could bicker again. "If the two of you are done pretending to hate each other could you please kiss and make up so we can move on to the escaping from our cell part?"

"One thing I'm really curious about, Carter."

"Yes, Jack?"

The older man eyed her, then looked at John and Aeryn. "How did you know about the tattoo?"

"Feretti."

"Ah." O'Neill shifted and slid his hands into his pockets. "Who are your new friends?"

"John Crichton and Aeryn Sun."

"Nicetameetya, kids."

"Yeah."

Aeryn shifted impatiently.

"Carter?"

"I'm thinking, Jack."

"Y'know, you didn't used to be this snippy."

"And you didn't used to be so cranky."

"Now that's a lie."

"You're a bad influence."

"John." Aeryn's voice was tense.

He looked where she was looking. Oh. Yay, there were guards opening their cell. "Let me do the talking."

"Yes, because you've done such a fabulous job so far." O'Neill commented sarcastically.

"Shut up, Jack." John was amused to watch Sam elbow the man.

"Ow."

And then D'Argo appeared in the doorway.

"These them, m'lord?" The flunky guard asked.

"Yes. Unfortunately."

"Then they are yours, as agreed by your Barrister and the fees you have paid."

"Thank you."

D'Argo? Courteous? John raised his eyebrows. This was a new look for him. The Luxian gestured, "C'mon you lot."

The four of them didn't hesitate, exiting the cell and following the red-clad back and bouncing tentacles as it wended its way through halls and city streets and crowds until they were on a Moya pod. And could ask questions.

Jonas was there, grinning. "It worked!"

"Yes." D replied shortly.

"What worked?" demanded O'Neill.

"We bought you." Jonas struck a pose, "I was a Barrister, I bartered the deal."

"You bought us?" Sam sounded amused. "I hope you paid more than a pistol."

"Aw, c'mon, Carter, you know you were so worth my .45."

"I'm not talking to you, sir."

"Teal'c and I considered blowing the planet up to get you back," said D'Argo, his eyes rolling in exasperation. "But Jonas suggested a less... costly plan."

"What did you buy us with?"

"Kelownan currency."

Sam's eyes widened, "Um, shouldn't we be getting to Moya, then?"

"Pilot has instructions to starburst again the instant we're on board."

"Uh..." John looked between Jonas and Sam, "Care to explain?"

"Kelownan currency is... very shiny, and very heavy." Sam said. "And it's made of iron, with a thin gold plate."

"Ah. Sparky helped with this plan, didn't he."

"Rygel has been noticeably absent since we were boarded two days ago." D'Argo sounded happy about that.

"Ka D'Argo."

"Go ahead, Pilot."

"Moya's sensors have picked up what could be a Scarran vessel on the extreme edge of her range."

Damn. Shit. Hell. "Pilot, we ready to starburst?"

"As always, Commander Crichton."

"Good, good."

Once they'd landed, John felt the subtle shift again, and Moya was slipping through starburst. He and Aeryn waited until the others had all left the pod. Then he looked at her speculatively. "Y'know... we never have christened this pod."

She began to laugh.

-

"So, where are we again?"

Rolling her eyes, Sam sighed. "Alternate universe."

"And we got here, how?"

"By accident," her patience was wearing thin. Jack O'Neill was a trying man at the best of times. Right now, he was still getting used to being stuck in a new universe.

"Right. What's up with that?"

"Well, Jonas and Teal'c arrived about a month ago. Apparently together."

"Indeed. We were treated as holy men." Teal'c looked smug.

"Oh? That sounds nice."

"Well, yeah, until they wouldn't let us go anywhere." said Jonas. He poked at the MRE he was eating cold. "And the food--ugh."

"Daniel got here about a week ago, and got captured by bounty hunters."

"Nothing new for him, then."

"Nope."

"And I got here..." Sam paused, trying to count the days. She was very tired. Injuries, bloodloss, adrenaline, having to solve a monumental puzzle -- all had combined to make her very very tired. "Well, a few days ago."

Jack paused and looked at her, then pointed. "When's the last time you slept, Carter?"

"That would be two days ago," announced Daniel, arriving in the center chamber and dropping onto a bench with a sigh.

"Carter!"

"I was busy."

Her commanding officer glared, waggling his finger. "Go to bed, Carter."

"You first." She snapped.

"Whoa, sex on the table is not allowed, kiddies." John Crichton was leaning in the doorway, looking somewhat more relaxed. "I take it you've been catching up?"

"Yes." Sam met his eyes. "Did you want to explain your theory?"

"Sure. Basically, I figure this is universe 616, and you five are from universe 1138." He paused, gave a sigh, and continued. "Now, Sam mentioned something about entrophic cascade failure. I figure since Jonas and Teal'c are still here, either you're all dead or don't exist here--"

"Or the proximity isn't close enough."

"Exactly."

"So... what?" Demanded the General.

"Until we figure out how to send you back, you're stuck here."

Daniel, Jonas and Teal'c had already pretty much figured this out, Sam guessed, shooting them each a glance. The General hadn't, although he didn't seem too bothered by it. "We'll work on the problem, but..."

"Gosh, Carter, you'll miss your wedding."

Damn him. She was exhausted. She'd spent nearly 56 hours working on the equations to find him, looking for him, shooting for him, and now he was mocking her. It was simply too much. "Jack O'Neill, you are such an ass." Her fist connected with his mouth, the knuckles stinging as she turned away and stalked out the door. Chiana was on the other side, her eyes alight. "Show me a bed, Chi?"

"Right this way, Sam." A grey hand touched her wrist. "That was a nice, flush hit."

"Thanks."

-

Jack still had his hand over his mouth, rubbing at it. He looked offended. Considering the provocation, Daniel kind of hoped it hurt a hell of a lot. "She's right, Jack. You are an ass."

"Thanks, Danny. When I want your opinion--"

"O'Neill. Daniel Jackson is correct."

"Yeah, General." Jonas looked uncomfortable to even be saying something derogatory. "You are being an ass."

"What?"

"Well, Jack." said Daniel, speaking as though to a small child (which he was), "If you had been paying attention to me this morning, you would know that Sam and Pete called off their engagement on Monday."

"Oh. Why?"

"Sam said something about them mutually realizing they just didn't work." Daniel shrugged, "I didn't press. And she wasn't unhappy, so I didn't see a point in pushing."

Jack wiped the blood off his mouth and sighed. "You're right. I am an ass."

"Well, halleluiah."

The four men blinked and looked at the man still standing in the doorway. John Crichton shrugged. "You boys might want to think about what you're going to do. No offence, but if you stay here on Moya... well, let's just say the last few days have been fairly normal for us."

"Yeah." Daniel half-smiled, "Pilot mentioned that."

"We are SG-1," intoned Teal'c, his lips twitching, "This has been a normal day for us as well."

"Gosh, I missed this," said Jack, the sarcasm thick. "Did you miss this, Jonas?"

"Yes, General, I did."

"Aw, hell." John mimed wiping a tear, "Yer all gonna make me cry. Such idealism." He straightened, then, his posture stiffening. "Listen closely, kiddies. The Uncharted Territories and Tormented Space might seem like a ride at Disneyland, but this is just the beginning. If you stay on Moya, you could lose your mind, your life, your sanity--"

"Yeah, yeah," Jack waved a hand. "We get it. Stop tryin' to scare us."

"I don't think you do. There's a--"

"Big bad universe out there, and it's out to get us." Daniel said. "Sorry, Crichton, we've been fighting the goa'uld for eight years. There's... a limit to how much we can be scared."

John snorted, "Well, just remember I warned you."

"Willdo."

"And, you," John pointed at Jack, "Will go find Sam and apologize for being an ass."

Daniel snickered.

"Hey!"

"Actually, General, I think that's a good idea." said Jonas.

"I concur."

"Great. I'm being ganged up on. Carter would never gang up on me." Jack said, scowling at them all.

"I'll rephrase that, then," and John's voice was very pleasant. "You go apologize to the woman who spent 57 hours working to get your ass back, or I will let Granny experiment on you."

"Ugh." Daniel shuddered. "Go find Sam, Jack."

"Fine, fine... Where'd she go?"

"Pilot?"

"Colonel Carter is with Chiana three tiers down."

"Ah." John suddenly looked distracted.

"I will take him."

"Gah! Granny! Quit sneakin' up like that, old woman!"

The ancient crone sniffed, then looked at General O'Neill. "You. Come with me."

Grumbling, Jack followed her out of the room. John looked at the other three men, then shrugged, "There are a few open beds two tiers up. I'm goin' to bed." Where Aeryn was. Hrm. Maybe he wouldn't sleep tonight.

-

Sam was warm. Nice and toasty and warm. Fuzzily, she remembered getting to an empty room. Chiana had said something strange about it looking almost like Zhaan's. Right about then, Sam had sat on the strangely shaped bed and sighed with exhaustion. The Nebari woman must have tucked her in. And taken her boots off. Sleepily, Sam identified the shape of the bed and the covers. And realized that she wasn't alone.

For a moment, her mind wildly assumed it was Pete. But she and Pete hadn't done this sort of thing for three months. And even then, he hadn't been much into cuddling.

He didn't drool on her shoulder, either.

Damn.

There was really only one man who would cuddle her like this, and drool on her. And he snored, too.

And it wasn't Daniel. Although he drooled when he leaned on her in planes. She sighed. The snoring continued. So she elbowed him.

"Ow! Wha--"

"Good morning, Jack."

"Carter."

She continued staring up at the ceiling, counting the cracks. "Get cold last night, Jack?"

"I... no? Last thing I remember is that old woman berating me about colors or something. She's really nuts, Carter. Makes Apophis seem sane."

"Apophis is dead."

"Yeah. I kinda remember that."

He still hadn't moved. In fact, Sam was pretty sure his arm had tightened around her waist. Of course, her fingers were threaded through his hair. "You know, I keep hearing that when you're on the rebound..."

"Rebound sucks."

"So I've been told."

They were both silent, she stroking his hair, he... well, cuddling. And not drooling anymore. There were so many reasons for them not to do this sort of thing. But she was tired of pushing it away, tired of lying to herself. "Jack?"

"Hrm?"

"We might never get home. And... even if we did, I don't...."

They could crash and burn sometime in the next month. Or realize they actually hated each other. It really didn't matter.

"Carter?"

"Hrm?"

"Wanna see my tattoo?"

-finis-

Epilogue.

Meanwhile, back on SG-1's Earth...

Major-General George Hammond was not a happy man. He was yelling at the Pentagon. It was a nice pastime, normally. This time, however, he was yelling at them because they'd done something supremely stupid. "Listen, you idiots, you let SG-1--including Jonas Quinn and General O'Neill--go through the stargate together. And now they're missing. Are you people stupid? Did you NOT read any of the reports we sent?"

The voice on the other side of the phone tried to say something smarmy and placating.

"Even Major Davis knows better, damn you!"

Major Paul Davis, who was sitting on the other side of the desk, looked offended. "Of course I do. Everyone here at the SGC knows better, General. Even Siler knows better."

Unfortunately for Siler, the intercom had been switched on in General O'Neill's old office. From his position in the infirmary (he'd been injured when the gate overloaded), he heard those words. Weakly, he half-smiled. "Of course I know better." Pain slithered through his burned hand, and he winced. "I miss Janet."

In the days that followed, Major Griff was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel Griff and given command of the brand-new SG-1. Lieutenant-Colonel Feretti was recalled from Moscow and installed as head of SG-2. And a few days after, Major Charles Kawalsky appeared from another quantum universe. He was handed command of SG-4 (SG-3's Colonel Reynolds was perfectly good at his job). And the SGC was jointly commanded by the three men with General Hammond over-seeing the lot.

Meanwhile, in the Pentagon, Major Davis banged his head on his desk only once every couple of hours. He was horrified to discover that he missed General O'Neill. He quickly made a date for drinks with that nice Val Cooper from Section 38.

-really the end-

Final note: Was this over the top? Yup. Do I care? Nope.