This time she was sitting on a toilet seat staring at a home pregnancy test strip. "This is going to be a big problem," she was thinking. It wasn't any effort at all to recall the conversations they had had about the possibility of having children.
"I had a kid Sam and I lost him. And then I felt almost as if Skaara was my kid and he died. I don't want to go through having a kid again Sam. If anything happened," He stopped for a moment, "three strikes and you're out. It would kill me. And," he said changing to another problem, "I'd be in my late 60's when the kid was in his teens. Can't you just see me coaching his soccer team, trying to get up and down the sidelines with a walker."
"People in their 60's don't need walkers, Jack, as you well know. Not to mention the fact that you are so young for your physical age." The difference in their ages bothered Jack more than he wanted to admit. She had to encourage him in this area every once in awhile.
"I got to be that age once remember," he reminded her, referring to the mission in the first year of SG-1 when he had artificially aged well past his 60's. "I can tell you right now, Sam, I was not in the mood to be any little kid's father."
He had pulled her to him and hugged her. "Can't we just enjoy being aunts and uncles to your brother's kids and Kate and Daniel's twins? You know, load them up with sugar and then send them home and let someone else deal with them?"
They had talked about it a few other times but the conversations were pretty much by the same script. Given that atmosphere, she realized that she had been in denial for weeks and was probably more than three months along already. The test was really not necessary but somehow she had hoped for some other explanation. A tumor even felt fleetingly preferable.
"How is this possible?" she asked the cat who had watching her with interest. It must have been that night in Killarney on their trip to Ireland, their anniversary. They had stayed in the most wonderful little bed and breakfast and Jack had been so sweet and romantic. The man could certainly rise to the occasion. He had given her the most stunning sapphire ring and a night she would never forget. Her body still remembered how good she had felt. But she also recollected how in the passion they had gotten careless.
Sam honestly didn't expect Jack to demand that she have an abortion or give the baby away. He would make the best of it but he would not be, as he would put it, a happy camper. The morning sickness she was feeling was now exacerbated by nausea at the thought of his reaction. How was she going to tell him?
How was she going to tell him was the only thing she was able to think about for the next week. Even if she didn't tell him, she needed to tell his replacement commanding Cheyenne Mountain. Who knew what repeated gate travel might be doing to her unborn child not to mention exposing it to being shot at or harmed by the strange things she sometimes had no choice but to eat? She was miserable and the daily upchucking wasn't helping. Then the headache started to grow and intensify. The lily smell became overpowering and cloying and she could barely function. When she ended the session, she still hadn't told Jack but the physical pain she was feeling had to stop.
She slumped in her chair and barely had the strength to take the device off her head. There was a lot to think about. It was difficult to do that clearly with dozens of little imps pounding on her head with anvils. She hurriedly pulled open a desk drawer, dumped out some Advils on her desk and took two dry. Water was a luxury right now. Then she took two more.
Scientifically, it appeared that using ?Future? went to a future after the last session, not a future departing from the initial one for a scenario. It was also clear that spending more than a few hours in an alternative scenario produced headaches because her brain was getting no true rest.
Personally, it was aggravating that Daniel still evidently married Kate. She hated herself for being illogically mean spirited but there it was. They had twins and she was still childless. She felt unreasonably jealous of Kate for a minute. She thought about the marriage to Jack. There were a lot of really happy memories. For the most part they had been very good together but the most recent memories pointed out problems that had been small at the beginning of the marriage but were growing more troublesome, her pregnancy being the most significant of these.
Time crawled by but eventually it was time to go to the meeting and her head hadn't gotten much better. She walked gingerly through the corridors and eased herself into a seat. Daniel watched her with concern and was immediately very solicitous. "Another headache Sam?"
She started to nod but then realized she didn't want to go through the seismic shocks such a movement would send through her body. "Yeah. It's pretty bad right now but it should go away in a few hours. I took some Advil."
Right then Jack and Teal'c both entered and sat down. Jack slid briefing folders down the table to all of them and started to talk about their next mission which looked to be more than a little problematic. As she looked at him, for a moment she felt all the deep love for him developed over the years of their marriage instead of the relatively undeveloped crush and physical attraction that he had stirred in her for years. She knew every inch of him. Had loved every inch of him. Her head was hurting so much that her self-control wasn't in play and she was evidently showing quite a bit on her face. Suddenly she realized that Jack was looking at her very oddly and Daniel looked, how did he look? Daniel looked upset, maybe hurt.
Teal'c said, "ColonelCarter, you are not feeling well?" Lovely man that he was, he was providing an immediate, more acceptable explanation for her strange behavior.
"I really am having the most incredible sick headache. Sir, I don't think I can contribute anything worth while right now. I would like to go lie down in the infirmary for awhile."
"Sure, sure." Jack looked immediately sympathetic.
Daniel got up hurriedly from his chair and came around the table to her. "Sam, let me walk you down there. You didn't look very steady when you came in."
Part of her felt very uneasy with Daniel now. Experientially she had actively lived over a week under the influence of the device since their scene in his office and the kiss. The device had given her manufactured memories of years more but the only days that seemed truly tangible were the ones she actually consciously walked through. A week is not a very long time to get past having had an affair with someone and that's how it felt. Her headache was so severe, though, that the pain centers took over and she was simply grateful for his support.
Lying there on the hospital bed and being subjected to Kate's through examination, she vowed that she was not going to use the device for more than a few minutes at a time in the future.
Sam kept her promise to herself until after the headache went away but the minute she was feeling better she had an overwhelming urge to use the device again.
Daniel found her intently reading an article online about substance abuse. It matched with a printout lying on her desk describing the 12-step program.
"Sam?" he said inquiringly.
"What," she said without looking up.
"Why are you reading about addiction?"
"Why am I reading about addiction?"
"That's pretty much what I asked." He perched on the edge of the desk a little too close for comfort with the way she was feeling lately. She scooted her chair back a little.
Daniel leaned over and rested his hands on the arms of her chair. "You know, don't answer that question yet because I have another one for you to answer first."
"Daniel, you're creeping me out." He didn't move a muscle. "Okay, what do you want to know?"
"What have I done?" He looked incredibly concerned.
She looked at him baffled. "What in the world does that mean? Have you done something and you want me to guess what it is?"
He looked exasperated then and pushed off the chair, stood up and walked across the room to stand turned three quarters away from her. "All I know," he said in a low voice, "is that you have been acting strange around me since Wednesday. You won't make eye contact with me and you shy away from me if I get close." He dropped his head and rubbed his neck. "I've racked my brain for something that I might have said or that people might have said about me." He turned back around to face her. "I'm coming up blank Sam."
She felt sick. The device was wrecking her life. She would miss Jack acutely for a moment, temporarily still in the scenario she had played out, but most of the time felt only the undeniable, but manageable, attraction she had felt for him, Brad Pitt, and Antonio Banderas for years. Good looking men you didn't expect to or necessarily want to have. With Daniel the device was inspiring the fear that if she got too close she wouldn't be able to control herself.
Sam stood and walked around the desk, trying to buy time, to find a way to handle the situation. It didn't help that she found herself replaying their kiss. Finally she said, "It's not you Danny. It's completely me." She looked at him imploringly. "Please be patient with me."
"I guess I don't have any choice. Just…" He didn't finish the thought, gave her an unconvincing smile and left her office.
Sam impulsively used Kill to get rid of every scenario she had programmed. She took the device and locked it in a drawer and put a sign on the drawer that read "Just Say No." That night she went to an AA meeting and pretended to be an alcoholic. Every time she talked about drinking, in her mind it was using the device.
She broke it off with Pete and concentrated on her addiction problem. Every day she was at the Mountain, she spent hours either staring at the drawer or starting to open it. She called the contact AA had given her and talked off the impulse.
She was acutely uncomfortable with both Daniel and Jack. Both of them became increasingly concerned about what was going on. One day, she walked into the cafeteria to find them deep in a conversation about her. They didn't notice her until she was practically on top of them. Jack immediately stopped mid-sentence and they both looked like they wanted to be anywhere else. Finally Daniel looked at Jack and then back at her and said, "Sam, we want to talk to you."
Jack said, "We do?"
Daniel insisted, "Yes, we do. Please sit down Sam."
She plopped rather than sat, feeling like all the strength had fled her body. Daniel continued, "Sam, we both are really worried. We've spent years working together and suddenly…"
Jack plunged in, "You act like we're some geeky kid who made an unwelcome pass at you."
Daniel looked at him, astonished, "She does? That really isn't quite how I would have described it."
"Whatever," Jack said dismissively. "Please tell us what is wrong. This just isn't good."
Looking at them, Sam had an epiphany. Her messing around with the device had brought her to the point where she was now completely in love with both of them. Not safe, I've-got-a-crush type love like she had maintained for years with Jack. Not the my good, good friend type love that had sustained her with Daniel for years. She wanted to spend her life with both of them, have both of their babies, and grow old with both of them. This was completely impossible.
All she could say was, "Please believe that neither of you have done anything wrong. I'm just going through a hard time. Breaking it off with Pete is causing me to reevaluate my whole life."
Daniel interrupted, "Breaking it off with Pete?"
"Yes, I'm not marrying him. Like I was saying, you two know me too well. I guess I've been hiding from what you might see." She stood. "I promise to do better." She left with both of them frozen in place, their mouths hanging open.
She returned to her office and took the device out of the drawer. She put it in front of her and looked at it. She didn't open any lab notes on the computer. This wasn't for science. That pretense was gone. She was going to use the device to allow her to have both of them. She programmed the scenario where she and Daniel would end up together and the scenario where she and Jack would end up together. She just gave herself a few minutes in each one. And every day, she took just a few minutes more. Not enough to cause headaches. Just enough that it would take years if ever to advance past the blush of first love to the point where problems would start.
In her real life, she was able to become comfortable with Jack and Daniel again. The real Daniel and the real Jack became less and less the real versions to her. The were just stand-ins as she waited for her few moments everyday with each of them. They both noticed that she had a tendency to look at them occasionally with a strange Madonna like smile but it was a small price for a return to situation normal.
Sam found Jennifer after some Internet sleuthing. They started an e-mail correspondence that led to a get together in DC when Sam was there for a meeting. Jennifer had actually only been married once but had produced five daughters. She was delightedly in the process of marrying the first one off and thrilled that there were four more to go. She was disappointed for Sam that Sam had never found the right man to marry. Jennifer said, "Don't give up looking. Someday it'll be 2:00 on a Saturday with the bells ringing, the processional march playing, and everything about to start. You'll never regret it." Sam, thinking about the marriage proposals she had recently received from both of her dream lovers, merely smiled and left Jennifer totally puzzled when she said, "Somewhere, it's 2:00 right now."