Dr. Aeda Harrison's phone rang at five-thirty in the morning, waking her from a particularly nice dream. She knew the time precisely because the ring of her phone corresponded with the buzz of her alarm clock. A headache-inducing symphony transpired and she quickly smacked the alarm clock, picking up the phone as she rolled onto her back and away from the angry red numbers.
"Good morning, beautiful," a familiar and welcomed voice intoned. Reflexively, she smiled. "Rise and shine."
"Cocky, aren't we?" She stretched her toes. "And what if a man had answered?"
"Well, then, we'd both have some explaining to do."
She laughed. "Why are you up so early? Or is it late?"
"We just got in. You're my first civil conversation of the day." He sounded homesick.
"I could be grumpy, if you like."
"I'd rather you weren't. Besides, Sam's laid claim on that dwarf."
She smiled again. Bear's claws clicked against the wooden floor in the hallway and in a moment or so he was up on the bed with her. "Let me guess – Cameron's Dopey, Teal'c is Bashful, and you're…Sleepy."
He yawned on cue. "Touché."
"What's Sam's problem?" She shifted a little so Bear could tread his three circles and then lay down, which he did – on top of her legs. "Or is just exhaustion?"
He sighed, perfectly in synch with the Boxer. "There was an incident a couple of weeks back, someone from her past. She hasn't seen Jack in a couple of months. I think she's –" he paused to yawn, "deprived."
"Maybe." He switched gears. "So, any plans involving Colorado?"
"You need to work on your subtle subject changes," she said with a laugh, which he returned. "As for Colorado, I was going to call you this afternoon."
"An archeological conference here, at Harvard. You're area of expertise, actually."
"Really?" She could hear the excitement in his voice. "When?"
"Hold on a sec, let me find my day planner." She reached over the bed and fished the black book from her satchel. She opened it. "Last weekend in March. They need a keynote speaker for that Friday, if you're interested." Secretly, she hoped he'd say 'yes', mostly because she'd already given the Department Chair his name and contact information, but also because she really wanted to see him.
"Sure. I've got a week or so of leave coming, especially after the fiasco of the last couple of months."
She grinned at the ceiling, elated. "I'll even change my sheets."
He laughed. "I love it when you remind me of how much I miss you."
She scoffed in mock outrage. "You mean you forget?"
"Only in life threatening situations."
"I thought so."
She laughed, then, and Bear stuck his nose in her palm, sniffed a couple of times, then went back to sleep. "Go to bed, Sleepy. I'll call you this afternoon with the details. And hey, if you get the time, talk to Sam. Obviously there's something wrong."
"Sounds good and I will." He paused and she pictured the look on his face: inner conflict and confusion.
She decided to bail him out of it. "Love you," she said softly.
His relief was almost tangible, even through the phone. "Love you, too," he said and hung up the phone.
She looked at Bear, who was once again awake and contemplating the current state of affairs. "This whole long distance thing, it kind of sucks." Bear cocked his head, his left ear hanging at a weird angle. It gave him a slightly intelligent look. "I wonder if the University of Colorado is in need of a Theory professor."
She couldn't believe she'd actually spoken that out loud. Bear, on the other hand, wagged his tail as if he understood the exact implications of that statement.
"Traitor," she said with a smile and got up to get ready for work.
He suspected that finding Sam and pulling the truth from her was a bad idea. In fact, he suspected that if he didn't run fast enough after asking the question, she'd hurt him. Suspicions aside, he made his way up to her lab and knocked on the doorjamb, just loud enough to be heard.
"Hey Daniel," she said and managed a little smile. "How come you're still up?"
He crossed the lab and sat down across her workbench from her, folded his arms over his chest and took on his best concerned older brother look. "I could ask you the same question."
She motioned to the laptop in front of her and the piles of notes surrounding it. "Working on an energy theory. I'd tell you about it, but even I'm having trouble explaining it at this point." She sat back, rubbed her hands over her face and through her hair. "How's Aeda?"
It took him off guard. "How'd you know I talked to her?"
Her smile widened a little. "Even with your stern older brother face on, I can see the smile in your eyes. Either it was Aeda or you found chocolate cake in the commissary."
"Well, I would have brought you chocolate cake if I found some."
She nodded. "Precisely."
"Now it's my turn. How's Jack?"
Her smile faded and the lines on her forehead deepened. "Bad subject."
She silenced him with a look. "Maybe some people aren't meant to be together, Danny. Not everyone gets a happy ending."
Any other day, he'd have let her wallow in self-pity, but at the current moment he was tired and sick of listening to her berate herself for something she wouldn't allow to happen. So, he let her have it in classic Daniel Jackson fashion. He tried to rationalize with her.
"Remember the whole ripple effect incident?" he asked and she nodded. "How many Sams did you encounter?"
She shrugged. "Eighteen, I think. At least that's the number I lost count at."
He nodded. "Eighteen versions of you and do you know how many of them were happily married to a certain General Jack O'Neill back in their realities?" She said nothing. "Seventeen, Sam."
This caught her attention. "Which one wasn't?"
He smiled slightly. "Your evil twin. Apparently, without Jacob's death, Jack never took the initiative. You married Pete."
Sam laughed softly. "No wonder she was my evil twin."
"So, again, when's the last time you talked to Jack?"
She sighed, seemed to lose an inner battle with herself, and leaned forward to rest her arms on the worktable. "A couple of weeks ago. He's coming to visit, actually, in the next couple of days." She smiled, almost to herself. "I took the weekend off. Here's hoping nothing goes wrong."
He laughed. "We're SG-1, Sam, something always goes wrong. Us boys can hold down the fort, though." He reached out, took her hand in his and squeezed. "You'll figure it out – you always do."
"It isn't a mathematical equation, Daniel. There isn't an easy answer here."
He shrugged. "So?"
She grinned, returned his hand squeeze. "Thanks."
"You're welcome. Now," he let go of her hand and stood up, stretched, "let's go get some food and some sleep, preferably in that order."
She stood and followed him out of the lab. "You know, you never did tell me how Aeda's doing," she said while they walked down the hallway.
He put his hands in his pockets and nodded. "She's good. Highly overworked and such, but good." They rounded the corner and spied Cameron near the entrance to the commissary. "She invited me out to Boston the end of this month."
"Are you going to go?" she asked.
He nodded. "I don't get to see her very often, so any chance I can get."
"See who?" Cameron asked as he met up with them.
Daniel looked at Sam quickly and grasped for an easy lie. "My…sister," he said. Sam grinned at him.
Cameron looked confused. "Your sister?" Daniel nodded. "I didn't even know you had a sister."
"Yeah, well, she's a professor on the east coast, we don't see each other that often."
"What's her name?"
"Hey, I see chocolate cake," Sam said, which immediately took Cameron's attention away from Daniel's personal life and imaginary sister. As they followed the flyboy into the commissary, Sam leaned over and whispered, "You so owe me."
He laughed. "Just add it to my tab."