Disclaimers: Not mine. Rating: PG13/R. Set: Future season, contains spoilers for both season 8 of SG-1 and season 1 of Atlantis. Notes: This is... Well, it was an idea that hit me during the communal watching of Affinity at A.j.'s. The one where Timey yelled at the screen at Sam about how if she said yes she'd end up faking her own death and... running a scooter shop in Wyoming. Sigh. They are SUCH bad influences on me. As a sidenote: About halfway through, this story did a sideways turn that... well, it works in my HEAD but it might not work in reality. The title (and 'Anna') are a direct reference to the Counting Crows song 'Anna Begins' which played in the car on the way back from A.j.'s at least, well, a lot... Victor, Kathy and Troy are Timey's. I borrow them.

Here's hoping this hangs together...

Coconut Island by Ana Lyssie Cotton

It's two months and five days after the universe becomes safe from the goa'uld that Samantha Shanahan (nee Carter) perishes in a car accident.

She leaves behind a grieving husband, three vaguely close friends, Cassandra Fraiser, and many acquaintances. Also, an adoring public that watched her career through the lense of the Stargate program. They all mourn.

--

Wyoming in the fall is shades of brown and gold. Dead grass, wind-swept sand, trees that seem as if they should be dead from the way they're withered. Leaves crunch under feet and the air drains the moisture from your skin before it can re-acclimate. Sometimes, she misses the color green.

She calls herself Anna Smith. It's a ruse, but she's used to them. Hiding in some way is what she's always done best.

The little shop Barrett helped her invest in takes nearly a month before it gets off the ground. She struggles with everyday things. Dealing with inquisitive children and nosy adults. Learning to remember that she doesn't have to jump every time someone calls for help. The shrieks of playing children only vaguely disconcert her at the end of two weeks.

Her first letter from Cassie arrives shortly after Victor her new landlord gives her an extra week to get the rest of her rent together.

She reads it sitting in the middle of the neglected garden outside the small guest house she contracted for. Curls up in the sunlight and wonders if it would have been better. And then she sees the insects rustling through the grass and feels the breeze slip through her hair, reads Cassie's half-scolding "I love you", and knows.

It is better this way.

Half a day later, she discovers that Victor must like her. It's the first time he's asked her to watch Troy for longer than the few minutes it takes him to poke around the scooter shop. Three year olds should not be putting engine parts in their mouths.

"It's just for the night," he says, lips and eyes in a cute little-boy with his hand caught in a cookie jar look. "Kathy and I need to go out. Be all romantic and mushy at each other."

So she says, "Sure." And then becomes terrified. "But... leave me a list of numbers and. Uh. Instructions. Kids, I mean--"

"Troy's three." His voice sounds amused and reassuring at once, "Just don't let him blow up anything or eat too much sugar and you'll be fine."

She's not fine. She's completely and utterly screwed. But she copes. Learns too late that three year olds are masters at deception and still manages to get the living room back into some semblance of order by the time Kathy and Victor return.

After accepting their thanks, she escapes. Desperately hoping they never saw the peanut butter in her hair.

--

Three and a half months after what the media are calling "V-Day" (to the irritation of World War veterans--or their descendants), the negotiations begin again for an Earth-Tok'ra alliance. This time, the footing is much more level.

Working on the treaty are Dr. Daniel Jackson and General Jacob Carter.

--

Mechanical things have always been easier to understand than humans.

Observation has shown her things, interaction, others. But there are times when she simply does not get human beings.

She can watch Victor and Kathy, and even though they're not married, she can see the bond that runs between them. On some level, she recognizes it. On another, she feels completely wistful. This is what she gave up.

There are days that carburetors, tourists, engine grease in her hair and broken bits of metal just aren't enough. And then some new and excited person will arrive, will distract her from the darkness in her own mind, the doubts that plague. And she'll wish for a moment that she chose that desert island Barrett had originally suggested.

But she would have been so lonely.

She gets combustion engines, spark plugs, coils and oil changes.

Pliers are a mechanic's best friend, and she has many. She's not sure what people are a mechanic's best friend, but sometimes the kids think she's neat. Maybe it's the way they make her smile.

Victor sometimes teases her of being a grease monkey. Kathy rolls her eyes at that. She likes Kathy. Likes that the woman has never pried and appreciates her randomly showing up with food. The excuse is always easy to accept. "You're too thin, Anna."

Tired, really. But she is also too thin. And so she eats what she's given, and sometimes is more grateful than she expects to be.

Simple human kindnesses also confuse her.

Waking up to brown hair and green eyes confuses her less and less, but sometimes she gets dizzy from trying to look at the tattoo they gave her in the middle of her back. The mole used to be her defining naked quantity. Now it's a Celtic cross done in black and green. Barrett wanted her to be a redhead. She almost decked him. With her skin tone, brown was just about workable. Dark brown or red would have left her either washed out or noticeable. And that's the whole point of this. To remain unremarkable and unidentifiable and safe.

And free.

--

5 months after the world is saved, Brigadier General Jack O'Neill steps down as head of the SGC. In his place are the two men he suggested appointing. Colonel Paul Davis and Doctor Daniel Jackson. The Colonel was on the fast-track and only spent eight months as a Lieutenant Colonel before getting this promotion. Speculation is that he'll be a one-star General before a year has passed.

Most people figure O'Neill is off to fish his retirement away in Minnesota.

--

The day after the stupid car accident, Victor is at the shop with two mugs of coffee. He hands one to her silently, then leans against the oven she's pulling apart for what the local kids think is an art project. But she's bored, and if there were naquadah around... But there isn't.

"Made a phone call this morning."

"Oh?" She blinks, because she can't think of any reason for him to be telling her this. It's not like there's--ok, so there is a sordid past, but it's not the sort of thing she thinks anyone would seriously consider when it comes to her.

"Kathy ran your blood work at the hospital last night."

Damn. She closes her eyes. "I told them I was fine. They didn't have any--"

"You were unconscious."

A hand through her now tri-colored hair (Troy likes green paint. Green, hair-staining, paint). "Okay. Fine. What does my blood have to do with anything? I wasn't drinking or doing drugs, so I'm clear there. And it was honestly the other driver's fault." And she'd feel guilty that he's still in the hospital with a concussion, except she no longer has a car.

"You had one or two anomalies. She thought it might be life-threatening until she got a closer look." He pauses to sip his coffee.

She fights the incipient urge to fiddle with something. Fiddling was never her response before she met the Colonel (General now, of course--and isn't that still shocking). And even then, it was always him, and his wandering fingers--damn klepto. He broke things, too. Except she doesn't really want to think about him. She really ought to be focusing on Victor, who's looking oddly grim.

"It took some digging, but I have my ways." Another shift, and he's not really looking at her now as he stares at the wall opposite him. "I suppose my only question might be why, but then, I've never questioned much. Perhaps a better question is, will you be ok?"

"Erm." She doesn't know what he knows and she's not going to help. "I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Fair enough." One hand toys with the half-ripped-off oven knob. "Just... don't hesitate to ask. If you need it."

He's being genuine, and again she's confused and rattled. He could so easily destroy her solitude and life, and he isn't doing that. In fact, he's offering to help, and he probably has not an inkling of what he's offering. Her mouth opens and closes, then opens again. "Thank you." That almost came out graceful.

A half-grin touches his lips. "But I ain't callin' you Anna anymore. Sam."

Oh. Her eyes widen, and she blinks. It's... been a while. Cassie's letters might start "Dear Sam," but that's not spoken. Hearing her real name spoken is like feeling rain on parched lips. For a moment, there's a dangerous part of her that simply wants to tell him everything. To let him understand. But that's wild and crazy and stupid. "All right."

"We still on for tonight?"

Oh. Right. Troy. And she would have to figure out how to keep him out of trouble. Again. She isn't looking forward to it. Really. "Yup."

"Cool." She makes a mental note to pack a sweater (the evenings are chilly still). An old one.

--

As with all things, fate decrees that six months after the world is saved (the media are still feeding on the frenzy of General O'Neill's retirement and bouncing around speculations that he's running a commune filled with teens) five men are killed in a multi-car pileup on I-70 outside of Denver, Colorado. Among the dead are Pete Shanahan and his partner Marcus Pryde.

In a bizarre coincidence, retired General Jack O'Neill dies in his sleep nine days later. The media feeds on it for a while, then gets distracted by the Tok'ra stalking out of the treaty talks. Dr. Daniel Jackson promises they'll be back.

--

It's actually warmer on the day the world falls down around her ears. Short sleeves and ripped jeans (not Troy's fault, these belong to the accidental spill one night she was a little too drunk to ride home) are more comfortable with the windows open wide.

The bell ringing from the front nearly makes her drop the piece she's working on and her distracted yell of, "Hang on!" is nearly lost in the din as she welds the last line.

She really isn't sure why she never expected something like this. But her hands still, the rag half-covered with oil hanging motionless in the air as she stares at him. His hands are in his pockets, and the pose is achingly familiar. "Jack."

"Shanahan's dead."

The words are abrupt and they drain her of color (as if him being there didn't disconcert her enough, why the hell is he there telling her that Pete's dead?). She wonders if this is some sort of cruel joke or mis-chance. "Did it have to be you?" Her voice cracks. She's rusty at dealing with him, at shoving everything she really feels into a tiny box. Troy, for instance, demands instant affection. And she can give that to him. Victor and Kathy are simple and uncomplicated. This man is not and never has been.

His laugh cracks through the shop. "So. Scooters... what's that about?"

Fine. "I like them."

"They're not--" He is going to mock her, say something cruel and painful.

But Kathy must have some freaky sixth sense because she's suddenly walking in the front door carrying what has to be lunch. Sam doesn't recall asking her to bring lunch, but she's grateful. "Sam, hon, I was wondering..." Her voice trails off as she takes in Sam's visitor. "Am I interrupting something?"

Yes. No. Please dear god, make him go away. Which is ironic as fuck considering he's most of the reason she's running a rental/repair shop for scooters and bicycles and anything else that crosses her path.

"Not really." He looks suddenly like he wants to leave. But he doesn't. Instead he looks between the two of them, and waits.

There's more awkward silence, and she remembers the rag in her hand, flips it over and studies the splotches of oil. Some of them are darker than blood.

"So... this is you, now."

"Yep."

Kathy has remained watching them, head tilted to one side. "Sam?"

"It's all right." She meets the other woman's eyes. "He's just going." She turns to him. "Aren't you, Jack." No question, because she wants him there and doesn't, and he needs to leave for her to get her equilibrium back.

"Am I?"

There are multiple layers to his question, and she realizes something that scares her almost more than the planet being destroyed while she can't do anything about it. He has still waited. Three years of marriage to another man, countless moments when she pretended there wasn't anything there. And he has still... stayed. Not moved on. And now she's dead. "Jack..." She stumbles, uncertain what to say. Because he can't have waited. This would simply be too cruel a joke.

"Or I could come back."

"No." She remembers she's good at making life-changing decisions, now. And since he's obviously not coming to take her back, this is all right.

More awkward silence until he finally seems to have decided what to say. "So. Scooters."

She doesn't bother answering him, just turns away and fiddles with something on the counter. A doo-hickey, he might once have called it. It's a piece of gear, about as far removed from a naquadah reactor as fish are from trees.

Kathy is still looking at them both, and her voice breaks into the silence. "You've forgotten how to talk like real people."

"We never were real," Sam whispers. And the pain at that thought rips through her and she wants to yell at him and throw things and cry and rant and rave. All of these years and there is no special connection, no automatic understanding. It's an uphill battle to even focus back on the shop and away from her inner turmoil. "Change isn't always good."

The look in his eyes is still unfathomable, and he turns it away from her and onto Kathy. "Jack."

"Kathy." She is still sizing him up.

For a horrible moment, Sam wonders if they will ever do anything but circle in the social niceties until they are both old and grey and dead and buried.

The phone rings, breaking the stunted silence into jagged shreds.

"Hello."

"Boo."

A smile breaks through, as the voice of the young woman on the other end of the line brings her back to something more stable. "Cassie."

"Hey, Sam, I was thinking. See, I kind of want to do this one thing, and I talked to my advisor, and--"

"Cassie?" Sam interrupts, laughing softly. "What are you talking about?"

"Transferring schools." The young woman replies promptly, her own tone amused. "I'm just--excited. Because it could be really good for me, and I need some of the classes there, and--"

"Where to?" Patience would always be a virtue when dealing with Cassandra Fraiser.

"Oh. Wyoming."

Silence from both of them. She breathes in. Out. "Anywhere in particular?"

"Well, there's this little town a friend of mine highly recommends. It's about two hours from the university..." Cassie's voice trails off.

"That would," her voice cracks, and she pauses. Conflicting emotions run through her. Back to life, or not. And Cassie near would be nice. A connection to her past, to the memory of Cassie's mother, who had been yet another bond between them. "It would be wonderful."

She realizes that there are tears in her eyes.

"Good. Great." Cassie's breath lets out. "I'll, uh, call you when I have better details. Love you."

"You, too."

--