The Grandfather Paradox
Synopsis: Result of a Plot Bunny - In the episode 1969, Samantha meets her own father.
Rating: PG-13 Cursing and Swearing
It was the most trite science fiction cliché ever, I had always believed. You go back in time, accidentally shoot your grandpop dead before he had procreated your parents, and you were then doomed to disappear in a sudden POP, as though a large bubble had just burst.
Or would you disappear slowly, as though some Cosmic Eraser was busy expunging your very existence?
But what happens if during your inadvertent tour on the Time Travel Magic Bus you end up meeting your own father?
Thanks to Lt. George Hammond, yes... that was Lieutenant George, not General George Hammond; we had enough money to buy clothes and food.
Unfortunately, he was wearing his hat, so I couldn't find out what he looked like when he had a full head of flaming red hair. For a moment, I had been giddily tempted to order the Lieutenant George, not the General George, to remove his hat, so I could see it. Would his bright auburn hair have been already receding?
Fortunately for my rapidly fraying sense of self-control, the young Lieutenant had the no-nonsense, piercing blue eyes of his older stern self.
There's no way I'd ever ask the General to remove his hat to view his dome, so therefore I didn't ask the younger George.
He was actually kinda cute way back then...I mean... now... in a commanding officer – same age as my father - type way. My self-control was fragmenting again as I sternly chastised myself to focus on the problem at hand. We were in the past, and we had met, by some strange galactic, chronological coincidence, the only man who could help us get back. Those thoughts led to others... Hammond was in Colorado. And so... where was my father? My father never really mentioned how well he knew George Hammond. An astringent comment about them serving together when the Air Force had been the First line of Defense in the Cold War had been my first realization that the two of them knew each other better than just being at the same level of the food chain.
Hammond wouldn't admit where the two of them had met, claiming the statute of limitations hadn't expired... but... I barely remember living in Colorado when I was very young, flashes of remembrances based on the large, shaggy dog that we had once owned... a tree house... Was the younger me in Colorado now?
And if so... where was Mom?
Hitchhiking home. What a stupid thing to do.
I should have waited for the bus. Especially when it was August 1969, and everyone hated the military. But I wanted to get home to see Anne and the kids. Two tours of 'Nam, and I was home.
Seemed so easy. Hitchhike a few miles, grab the bus and I'd be home. I tried to be nondescript. But my ram-rod posture and my crew cut named me for what I was – military.
Slouching over a cup of bitter coffee, I tried to fade into the background of the diner, waiting for my inedible meal to arrive, but the long haired hippies, the beatniks desperately in need of a bath and the peace loving pacifists had found me and the abuse started anew. I ignored them, subconsciously casing the joint, wanting to find the best way to escape. Strategies danced in my head, how to inflict the fewest numbers of civilian causalities, who was the leader, who was afraid and who'd run like hell when the fight started. Ignoring them, I took a long sip from my coffee, and plotted my getaway.
"Leave 'em alone, boys," the tired waitress protested.
The door to the diner opened with a long shriek of metal on metal. More hippies came in, and the blonde female looked straight into my eyes. She looked confused for a moment, as though she recognized me, and then she motioned to her friends.
She looked familiar, as though I should know her.
"Do you realize that we're talking to you?" The ringleader growled at me.
I took another long sip of my coffee, wincing at the taste and then I looked up at him. In my most insulting tone of voice, I responded, "Do you realize that I'm ignoring you?"
Samantha Carter"Sir!" I interjected quickly, grabbing Colonel O'Neill by his arm. "We have to leave."
"Carter, we've been in that bus for hours, I want something to eat," O'Neill protested.
"What's the problem, Sam?" Daniel questioned.
Thank God for Daniel. Whenever O'Neill got off tangent, Daniel would bring Jack kicking and screaming back to the subject.
"We have to go," I whispered. "Remember George? See that man in the corner? That's Jacob."
Shit. Carter's father was sitting in the booth of what apparently was the only diner in the entire state of mass confusion, or wherever the hell we were. He was drinking coffee and he was getting hassled by a bunch of the local yokels. Jake ignored them, until one of them made the mistake of grabbing him by his shirt. Then Carter, Senior, future two Star General, Tok'Ra Host, and whatever else, sucker punched him.
Six guys against Jake.
Have I mentioned recently that I truly HATE time travel? It's so difficult keeping track of what I'm allowed to say, and what I'm not. Best response is to pretend that I'm stupid. That way when I do something wrong, everyone can smugly say, "What else do you expect from Jack?"
Right now, I knew that Jake was going to get massacred, and well, we needed him to stay in one piece now, so that he could be dying of cancer in thirty odd years... or something like that. You know that Grandfather thing that Sam keeps nattering about? Something about sleeping with Grandma, and your brother will be born with two heads...I wonder how Selmak would react if suddenly her host disappeared in a Big Pop, because we let Sam's dad get killed by hippies. Knowing the old snake, she'd be pretty pissed and she'd blame me.
Fortunately, Teal'c came to the exact same conclusion, so we decided to help Jake out. Teal'c easily took down several of them, Jake was hitting someone else, and Jake's daughter proceeded to put the very last guy through a window. Carter always was a bit too eager to help her old man out.
The sound of shattering glass brought everyone back to reality. I winced, as that window probably cost more than the money I had shanghaied... ok... STOLEN... from General... Lieutenant... George...
"Carter!" I protested. "You didn't need to put him through the window. A little over zealous, but nice work."
"I didn't put him through the window, she did," Jake retorted. "Speaking of which, I really didn't need your help, ma'am. And how do you know my name?"
"I don't – her name is Carter. Very common name where I come from," I inserted, wishing that Jake wasn't as sharp as he was.
"Look, you gotta go," the waitress inserted. "The police will be coming shortly, and that one that's lying outside the diner? It's the police chief's son. Go."
Michael, Jenny, Teal'c and Daniel raced to the van. Naturally, Carter, as in Carter Junior stayed behind.
My stomach growled, and the waitress glanced at me.
"Growing boy," I explained helpfully.
"Wait," the waitress said. "Let me get you something to eat at least. Bobby?"
The short order cook was busy slicing and dicing something, and a few other waitresses were helping.
"My son served in 'Nam, he didn't come back," she explained to Jacob, who was busy protesting her generosity. The waitress wiped a tear from her eye, and then continued, "Doing it for him, not you."
"Yes, Ma'am," Jake answered. "I'm sorry about the window."
"Planning on replacing it anyway, it leaks when it rains," the waitress continued. "Now get the hell out! Hoodlums!"
The three of us ran out the door, hearing the wail of police cars in the distance and the waitress cursing us for breaking her window. Jake paused for a moment, and then I manhandled him into the van.
"We're not leaving you behind!"
"You can let me out now," I requested, as we sped through another red light. The black man was driving, and he had a heavy foot on the gas.
"Sit back for a bit, rest your feet, have another coke," said the old man who was apparently in charge of the Hippie Brigade. "We can't drop you off just yet."
Strange, he wore a skull cap as though he was trying to hide the length of his hair. If I didn't know better, I'd swear it was military length.
"Where are you going, son?" He questioned.
"Home," I stated shortly.
"And that being where?" the man continued.
"New York City, my wife is there with our kids. She's staying with her mother," I explained.
"Just finished a tour?" The man continued.
I gave him a searching look. What business of it was his?
"Two tours. Bad knee. Tet Offensive," he explained as he patted his bad knee. "You have the look of a solider. That's why I helped. Captain James T. Kirk, retired."
He offered his hand. Deliberately, I refused to take it, which earned a shrug of his shoulders.
"My daughter watched that show," I explained.
The blonde woman next to him looked startled at my response.
"Call me Jake, Jimmy," I decided. "You're Carter?"
The woman nodded her head.
"June Carter," Jimmy said helpfully.
"June? June Carter," I repeated. As in June Carter Cash? All of them with fake names, who the hell was the driver? Cassius Clay?
The blonde nodded again. For some reason, even though she fought like a drunken Marine, she wouldn't say anything to me directly.
"Where's your dulcimer?" I retorted. "Let me guess, the guy with the glasses is Ringo? And Jimmy's driving the van."
"I'm Michael, and this is Jenny," Michael inserted helpfully.
"Jake, today is your lucky day," Jimmy insisted. "We're going to New York, so we'll give you a ride."
The blonde woman wore a look that either said, "Are you CRAZY?" or that the world was about to collapse.
"It'll be fun," he insisted.
My father had hair. Yes, it was in a crew cut, but he had an honest to god, full head of dark, not even a speck of gray, hair. He looked so young!
What was I saying? He was young. Younger that I was, in fact.
I barely remember my father with hair. Mainly the seemingly spurious rumors of him not being born bald had been confirmed through faded pictures that showed the steady march of time, and the insidious receding of his hairline. All those years, he had been away due to the Air Force, and now, the two of us, in the same van, heading toward New York City.
And I couldn't say anything to him.
I didn't dare.
There were times when I felt him staring at me. His dark eyes were full of unasked questions, as though he thought he should recognize me… I mean… June… I'd look up, and he'd be staring elsewhere. It was nerve-wracking, ulcer inducing even, to see my father in front of me, and not be able to say a single word.
But I wanted to.
It was almost comical, as the only people that could talk easily to my father were Michael and Jenny. Not Teal'c. Not Daniel. Not any of us.
I believed that my father had pegged O'Neill, Jackson and Teal'c as deserters, heading toward Canada… but that my presence confused him. I wasn't a wife. I wasn't a girlfriend, and the bonds between me and the rest of my team were far deeper than mere familial bonds.
After all, I know from personal experience how family bonds can tear apart so easily.
June was an enigma, wrapped up in blonde hair and blue eyes. It took me a few hours of circumspect spying to realize why she looked so familiar to me. She looked like my wife, Anne, but somehow, Anne's features had been tempered and changed minutely. Sometimes, I'd watch her, seeing my wife's dazzling smile. Yet, the intensity when she spoke with Kirk was not Anne's passion.
Hers was an almost clinically detached intensity, reminding me of my superior officers, those battle worn and weary men, their boyish intensity tempered by maturity and loss of brothers-in-arms.
She walked like she was in the military.
It was frightening, as June reminded me of myself.
For whatever whimsical reason, Jack had decided that it was an absolutely wonderful idea to give Jacob a ride to New York City. In spite of, or maybe just because of, the Grandfather Paradox, Jack had loudly and vocally given both middle fingers to the Fates.
Go ahead! Make me disappear! I dare you!
I think Jack quickly regretted it, because being so close to her father was exhausting Samantha. And Jacob was noticing Samantha's withdrawal, and cataloging it behind an unreadable mask.
The younger Jacob Carter was light years from the Two Star General I would meet… or I had met… years from now. That man had been dying, and his energy had been focused on survival. The younger Jacob had free time, a puzzle in front of him by the name of June Carter, and a mind--frightening to admit--that easily matched Samantha's. He reminded me of nothing more than a dog given a bone, and he'd gnaw at it… for however long it took.
We should have dropped him off at the bus station. Any bus station, even a train station. Damn it, Jack! We should have left him at the first Red Light! Hell, we should have thrown him out of the van while it was moving!
The Fates hadn't been amused by Jack giving them the double birds, and now that their anger was provoked, there was going to be hell to pay.
The question was… how much of the universe would be left standing after we were done paying for Jack's sense of whimsy?
"So Jacob?" I questioned.
"Yes, Ringo?" Jake answered, his amusement at our continuing insistence to answer to "Ringo, Jimmy, Jimmy and June" evident.
"Do you have any children?" I questioned, after a long silence. My mind had gone completely blank, and that had been the first thing to pop into my mind. "You mentioned a daughter?"
"Boy and a girl," Jake informed me.
"And their names?" I prompted. "Is your son's name Ringo by any chance?"
Jake gave me a look of complete disgust.
"It's a nice name," inserted Jack helpfully. "I had a dog with that name."
Now it was my turn to give Jack a dirty look, to which the bastard had the nerve to give me a big smile and a shrug.
"Mark and Samantha," inserted Jake. "I have pictures."
"Can I see?" Jack asked. "I love looking at pictures."
Jake pulled out his wallet, and he removed several pictures. He stared at one for a long moment, and then he shook his head.
"My wife, Anne. This one is Mark, and this is Sammy," he explained.
"Sammy?" Jack questioned.
"When she was younger, her brother couldn't call her Samantha, so he shortened it to Sammy or Sam," Jake stated. "Sammy's a hell raiser."
"Really?" Jack questioned in a tone of mock sincerity as he looked at the picture of Sam. "She looks so innocent, don't you agree June?"
June smiled weakly and nodded her head.
"She'll go far, if she doesn't kill herself. Annie doesn't like to tell me everything that the little Terror's done, but I'm going to be very surprised if my wife still has blonde hair when I get home. I'm sure you understand, Jimmy, that you learn to read the letters from home very closely. Because between the lines, you find out what's really happening," Jake laughed to himself, and then he handed the pictures to Samantha, "June, would you like to see the rest of them?"
Samantha nodded quietly, and while a stranger might think that Samantha was cool and composed, I knew that she wasn't. The slight tremor in her smile, the brightness of her eyes. This was so difficult for Samantha, and I wondered how I would hold up if I met my parents on this trip. Seeing them, talking to them, but not being able to admit that I was their son.
"This is Anne, if anything ever happened to her, it would kill me," Jake admitted to his daughter. "She's the best thing that happened to me, well, besides those two little terrors. Mark's ok, but the last time I came home, Samantha looked at me with those big baby blues, opened her arms wide for a big hug and then the little brat bit me. Naturally, I screamed, as she had one hell of a bite, and then she started shrieking because I had."
For a moment, I expected Samantha to protest, but instead she was smiling.
"I'm sure she didn't mean it," Sam protested.
"She did, trust me. She knew exactly what she was doing," Jake insisted. "She had this little smirk on her face. Sammy toddled up to me, looking so sweet and innocent, and then the little terror bit me."
Sam laughed, and Jacob gave her a very long look. His lips moved slightly, and I think he said, "And that very same laugh."