Title: Variations
Warnings: minor language
Various Jacks reflect on their lives
: POV, drama, angst
Season 8, Moebius
The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.

Author's Note: After watching Moebius, this came to me while I was sleeping!

Feedback: Yes, please!


Giza, 2997 BCE

It's funny how you can just know things. How in certain moments you just understand with absolute certainty that you have finally reached the end. I have technically died so many times, that I find it kind of surprising that as I am kneeling with a staff weapon pressed into my back, I have completely accepted that these will be my last moments.

I can feel Carter kneeling next to me, her shoulder pressed against mine. I guess my regret is that she should have to die at my side, even as part of my mind registers the rightness of it. We started this together and now we will finish it together. Daniel is undoubtedly somewhere out in the crowd, trying to work out some last ditch effort to save us, but I know he won't be able to. There is still vague hope that he will be able to set this all right, even after we are dead.

The wind shifts slightly and sand stings our eyes, but it also brings with it the scent of Carter. I breathe deeply and do my best to ignore the continued pompous droning of Ra in the background as he denounces us. My mind briefly wanders to all the half-baked plans I had concocted before this insane time travel trip was brought up. I was even working out a way to finally get everything straight between us, maybe taking Kerry's advice and retiring. But now these will be our final moments together.

In the years we have been here, we have been scrambling to first survive with minimal impact, and then working tirelessly to build up the rebellion. It was easy for both of us to let things slide into the background once again. Things had been so uncertain that we left no time for other concerns.

Now things are certain once more. We are both about to die. I lean quietly into her ear; "Sorry I never got a chance to retire, Carter." Out of the corner of my eye, I can see her smile, her wide blue eyes staring out over the mass of people in front of us.

"Maybe someday you will…" she replies softly. I know she must mean future us or past us, but I am so confused with the whole time thing by now that I don't even try to work it out. I can't even begin to comprehend how us dying here changes anything, or if it even does. I just take comfort in the fact that Carter thinks it's possible.

Ra seems to be winding himself up for the finale; I can hear his voice rising above us. Time is running out. There are lots of things I will never get around to doing, but there was damn well one thing I wasn't going to go without, I decide suddenly. With my hands still tied in front of me with rough rope, my fingers reach out and grab hers. Her fingers latch on to mine and I tug her slightly to turn and look at me.

She finally meets my eyes and I can see the same certainty that we aren't going to make some miraculous escape this time. Quickly, before the guards can pull us apart, I lean in and press my lips against hers, wanting a real kiss to exist for both of us. It is awkward as we both try not to fall over, but it is still perfect. The fact that we both know this is a goodbye rather than the hello we have always dreamed of tinges it slightly. I lose myself in the sensation of her lips moving softly over mine as our last precious moments slip away.

When we finally pull slightly apart, I can hear a sigh escape her lips. I stare intently at her face, relieved that I can do so without having to hide it. "I love you, Carter," I say softly. She smiles and I am in awe of the bravery and certainty that still mark her features even in these last moments. "I love you, too, Jack." We say no more to each other, we just keep our fingers together in a tangle and stare at each other. I relentlessly tune out everything else, wanting my name on Carter's lips to be the very last thing I hear.

When death finally comes for us, instead of darkness, I find myself falling into deep blue pools. It's not really the way I'd ever imagined dying, at the hands of Ra's Jaffa five thousand years before I was even born, but it is enough.

Giza, 2976 BCE

Sometimes I think we didn't really consider all the implications of staying here when we decided all those years ago. Granted there may have been little choice. Sam may not ever have been able to fix the time machine. She had refused to even try at the time, babbling on about the timeline and whatnot. I was still so hung up on the hotness of her yammering on about her genius stuff to put up too much of a fuss. I may not have known her long at the time, but I knew that she generally turned out to be right about things. Plus, alternative future Daniel had agreed.

So, after the rebellion and the careful burying of the Stargate with a Ra amulet that Daniel insisted on putting with it (something about a little girl finding it someday that I never really understood), we destroyed the ship and settled into a life here. The Jaffa Teal'c, who we had convinced to turn against his 'god,' became a great leader among the newly free warriors. I often heard Sam mumbling about him having too high a profile and impacting things too much, but as the years passed by, we really had to give up on all that or go insane wondering if the bug we just stepped on would cause an ice age or something. Daniel finally decided that we were maybe the reason the rebellion had ever happened in the first place. Sam had nodded, running through scenarios in her mind and talking rapidly about causality.

One thing is certain, after nearly twenty years of watching her puzzle through complex problems, it never got less hot. No one had been more surprised than us that our near-death grope in the Gateship had turned out to be something lasting. How could I feel this much for someone I just met and that I had little in common with? Daniel didn't seem surprised at all and after a few years, he shared stories of the other us and all the barriers between them. I feel at once sad for them and jealous. They had spent ten years together, working as a seamless unit, seeing and doing things that we can only dream off. But they never knew the joys of waking up in each other's arms for nearly twenty years. My Sam had never learned to close herself and her emotions off, and, according to Daniel, the other Sam wasn't nearly as flighty and rambly, two of the things I found most endearing about her.

I have not regretted my life here with her. When Kawalsky guilt-tripped me into taking this gig, I never thought I would end up living in ancient Egypt with an astrophysicist that I would come to love more than life itself. The only anger that resides in me at this life is that she would have to succumb to something as ridiculous as a parasite that would have taken our doctors no time at all to fix. She had, of course, taken it all in stride, even as her appetite fled and her liver began to fail. I sat by her constantly, part of me knowing that we had been lucky to have as much time as we did, but still angry that she would die at the relatively early age of 57. After all, at seventy, wasn't I already called 'great-grandfather' by all the village children and held in great awe by all that I could reach such an advanced age?

I did my best not to let my anger cloud our last days together. We talked endlessly about nothing in particular and I held her tenderly while she slept. The last time we spoke, she said that she had always known that this mission had the power to transform her life from one of endless mediocrity to one of complete fulfillment. I may not have been able to put it into words, but I felt the exact same way.

I am ready to follow her now and I no longer feel any jealousy for the future us. I think I have had a life that neither of them could truly ever comprehend. I wonder about them, though. I wonder if they will ever be smart enough or brave enough to let themselves have what we had. The fifty years before I met Sam are barely worth remembering, but the twenty that followed are gentle, wondrous companions as I approach the death that has been quietly out of reach.

Daniel has come to say goodbye; he is not surprised that I would succumb as well, just weeks after Sam. "Goodbye, old friend, " he says softly. He will be alone, once I am gone, Teal'c having died many years earlier as his symbiote matured. He will be okay, I know, primarily because he has the benefit of knowing the future we are aiming for. He will finish his life here, quietly confidant that all will be well, someday. I hope for the sake of our future selves that he is right. As I drift silently away, though, images of my life with Sam are there with me and my last coherent thought is that I am glad I have been this Jack with this Sam.

Minnesota, 2005 CE

The plop of a fish jumping startles us both. We look sideways at each other and I can see the wheels in her head turning, gauging the significance of this development. I had been beyond relieved to avoid the entire time-travel debacle and there was no way I was gonna let Carter drag us back in time just because of one damned renegade fish.

I shrug at her and say, "Close enough."

For a moment, I think she is going to protest, but eventually she shakes her head and goes back to fishing. I watch her for a long moment, before Daniel comes up and offers us some beer. I still find it hard to believe that she is here with me, on my dock, fishing. Even without that crazy video of the other us and the knowledge that they lived their lives out in ancient Egypt, my head was already full of the major events of the last weeks. The destruction of the Replicators, freedom for the Jaffa, death of Jacob and, most bizarre and unsettling, the new growing understanding between Carter and me.

In reality, I have no idea where any of this is going; my head is full of half-baked plans. I still hear Kerry's voice, explaining that our situation isn't that complex, as if talking to a confused two year old. Could it really be that simple? After all these years of ignoring, pretending and undoubtedly hurting each other a long the way, was there really a way for us to be together? Have we waited too long?

Suddenly Carter is squealing, a sound I never thought I would hear from her. She has jumped to her feet and is tugging at her pole, the line taut. I stare disbelievingly at her for a moment before I start giving her help reeling in the biggest fish I have ever seen. Next thing I know, Carter is holding the fish in front of her, a wide smile on her face. Daniel is helping her get the fish off the lure and Teal'c is congratulating her on her hunting prowess. Carter's laughter washes over me and I stare at how the sun glints off of her hair. Perhaps feeling my eyes on her, she turns to regard me, the fish still held high.

"You caught a fish in my pond," I say incredulously.

She smiles and puts a hand on my arm, "Beginner's luck." And then she winks at me. I am barely able to stop my jaw from dropping. But suddenly, I know with absolute certainty that anything is possible. Maybe it really could be that simple. I grin stupidly at her and let myself finally think about the future and all its endless possibilities, knowing that they all lead me to her.