Leaving on a Fast Train

Last time:
"It was all in the letter she left you." Jack's anger abated and his eyes fell. "You never read it, did you?" Jack shook his head no.

"Damn you, Jack O'Neill!" Jack's head flinched and his eyes shot to hers.

"What?"

"I shouldn't exist but I do and it's your fault." Jan stood up off the gurney to face Jack. "I've wandered around that damn planet for months waiting for you to come and get me when you didn't even know I existed because you never read the letter. How could you just not read it?" Jack turned around and walked to the door.

"Don't just walk away from. I deserve answers." Jack looked over his shoulder as Jan ranted.

"I thought you weren't her." Jack opened the door and walked out, leaving a stunned Jan in his wake.

Jan collapsed back onto the bed, having expended her small reserve of energy in anger. She should have realized her plan was too elaborate. She should have had the guts to just sit down and explain everything to him. She rubbed her hand over her face and sighed. There were a lot of things she should have done differently.

Jack went back to his office, opened the middle drawer and pulled out a silver ball. He pressed a button and waited. Usually Thor responded quickly but today it took over an hour before the familiar bright light appeared.

"Thor, buddy, how ya' doing?"

"I am well O'Neill. Did you call just to inquire about my well-being?" Jack leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head.

"Not exactly. We came across a friend of yours while we were saving the inhabitants of one of your protected planets." Thor's eyes widened, a sure sign of surprise based on what Jack had learned about Thor.

"To whom do you refer?"

"She calls herself Jan but you probably call her Carter II."

"I see. I assume she and the others are safe."

"Yes. Why didn't you tell me?" Jack leaned forward and placed his clasped hands on his desk.

"When I created her, I thought you were aware. When I came to return her it became apparent to me that you had been unaware of our arrangement. I returned to the ship to inquire how she would prefer for the situation to be handled. She did not want to disturb your life and she chose to go elsewhere. She wasn't happy with the Asgard. I found her a safe place to live her life and hoped she would find some peace and perhaps a bit of happiness."

"Well that's not quite how it worked out. She thought one day you'd tell us where she was and we'd coming running out of the gate to bring her home."

"I did not intend to leave her with such hope but I did tell her I would attempt to convince you to allow me to continue my research. If you had ever agreed then I would have informed you of her whereabouts."

"Did we ever have a second conversation about your research?"

"Not to my knowledge." Jack lost his cool composure. He stood and paced the room, running his hands through his hair.

"Why not?"

"We have both been quite busy and I did not feel the time was right."

"You just left her there, alone."

"I apologize. It was not my intention to hurt Colonel Carter in any way. I will go and speak with her." That damn light illuminated the room before Jack had a chance to stop him.

"Damn it!" Jack grabbed his coat and stormed out of his office. He didn't want to know what was happening in the infirmary, so he chose to disappear for the night. He raced home and wrapped himself in a Simpson's marathon.

Jack reported on time the next morning. The morning reports were bland, no mention of Jan or the infirmary. At 1000 Jack couldn't take the anticipation any longer. He went to the infirmary and poked his head in the door. It was quiet and there was no sign of Jan. Jack headed for Daniel's office.

"Hey, Daniel." Daniel looked up, saw Jack's face, and turned back to his computer. "Problem?"

"Yeah."

"With?" Jack stepped closer, feeling the disapproval flowing off Daniel like Niagara Falls.

"You."

"Why?"

"She left." Jack's heart sank and his stomach clinched. He balled his hands into fists in his pockets.

"What do you mean by left?"

"Thor came to see her yesterday. They talked for a while. She called Teal'c and I in and said good-bye. She wouldn't tell us where she went." Jack took a step back, away from Daniel but towards the door.

"It's your fault Jack. She wouldn't say it but she couldn't deny it. If you'd wanted her to stay she would have stayed. She still loves you, but you didn't want her so she disappeared again." Jack spun and left the room. The walls had been closing in on him and he couldn't stay knowing Daniel's accusations were true to the mark. Jack went back to his office and sat, staring at the star chart. As his eyes passed over each dot he wondered if Sam could be living on the planet represented by that dart. He reached into his desk and removed the silver ball. The light appeared almost instantaneously but this time Jack went to Thor's ship.

"It took you longer then I expected O'Neill." Jack blinked several times as he watched Thor's head nod.

"Where is she?"

"She's still aboard. She thinks we have left orbit." Thor pointed down the hall. Jack walked slowly down the hall until he heard the sound of soft sobs. His throat closed and his mouth got dry. He looked into the silver room and saw her sitting on the floor leaning against the wall. Her legs were pulled up to her chest and her head was down.

"Can we talk?" Her head shot up and she gasped.

"What are you doing here?"

"I came to talk." Jack stepped into the room. Jan stood and leaned against the wall, attempting to look more relaxed then she felt.

"Then talk."

"Look, I'm sorry I ran you off."

"It's better for both of us." Jan looked down at her feet.

"Then why are you crying?" Jack's words were soft but Jan heard an unintended accusation of being soft. She grew rigid and fire burned in her eyes as she looked up at Jack.

"It was a brief moment of weakness brought on by leaving her old friends. It's over now. I'm fine. You can go and resume your life. I'll be fine." Jack felt the slap of her words but resisted the temptation to retreat.

"I don't want you to leave."

"You mean you don't want me." Jack took another step towards her.

"Why older?" The question made no sense to Jan. Jack abrupt change in topic threw her off stride and diffused some of her building anger.

"Older?"

"Yeah, why'd you decide to come back older?" Jan began to blush. Jack took the final plunge. He step within reach of her and extended his hand to her face. His fingertips brushed her face. Her eyes closed and her jaw trembled slightly.

"Don't."

"Why older?" He took one more step closer. Her head leaned slightly towards his hand.

"For you."

"Me?" His thumb rubbed across her cheek and his fingers curled into her hair.

"I thought one of the things that had always stood in the way of a relationship between us was out age difference. I thought if I was older you'd be more willing to be with me."

"Me?" Her eyes opened in confusion. "That's the first time I've heard you not say her." She shook her head slightly.

"I was confused. I..."

"You are her and she is you." Jack leaned in and kissed her lightly. She gasped in surprise and then lightly returned his kiss. Jack leaned back.

"The age difference wasn't a problem for me and it still won't be."

"It still won't be?"

"You're like a two years old, right?" Jan's grin erupted into a full-blown laugh. Jack hugged her tight. Her arms wrapped around his shoulder as tears mixed with her laughter.

"Come home with me?" Jack whispered into her ear.

"All you had to do was ask."

"That's a yes?" Jack stood up tall and looked down into her eyes.

"Yes." They both smiled. "Even though you are an ass." They began walking to the door.

"An ass?"

"Yes. And you're reading that letter when we get home." Jack stopped in his tracks and looked over at the woman in his arms.

"Would you read it to me?"

"Have you forgotten how to read while I was gone?" They began moving towards the door again.

"You know me and paperwork." She slapped his arm lightly and shook her head. "One more question."

"Only one?"

"For the moment."

"Shoot."

"Can I still call you Carter in bed?" Sam's eyes spread, her mouth dropped to her chest, and she turned her blushing face towards him. Her mouth gapped like a fish until she collected her thoughts.

"Yes." She turned back towards the door and began walking again. Jack was shocked into motionlessness at her decisive response.

"Sweet!" Jack took several long quick steps to catch with Sam so he could escort her to Earth, home, and his bed.