AN: We're finally here. The very last part. It's long, but it's exactly how I intended and I'm glad that I didn't have to change it. Thanks for reading!
Sam couldn't believe it. "You want me to break up with my boyfriend?"
God nodded. "Yes, I do."
Sam truly wished she could go back to not knowing about God because it was better than losing all respect for him. "Honestly, sir, don't you have anything better to do? Is my relationship with Jack really the most important thing in all of creation?" She said it incredulously, but as far as she was concerned, her relationship with Jack was the most important thing in the universe. She'd just expected God to feel differently.
"Sam, all of the souls have abandoned me and are haunting the living. The world is going to be awfully crowded with everyone who has ever lived walking around."
Sam tried to fathom what he was saying, but it was too much to even imagine. "Every soul?"
"With the exception of Marge and Hannah."
"Wow." Sam actually felt bad for the very dejected looking deity before her. But somehow, she took comfort in it too. She had never been one to break rules or screw up or cause problems, so it was nice to know that the one time she did, it more than equaled a lifetime of making trouble.
Sam stood up, trying to regain some of the strength she normally had. "What's it worth to you?" She smiled at the shocked expression on God's face. "I mean, it is all the fault of a case worker who you obviously don't have the time or the desire to oversee appropriately."
God sighed as he thought quietly for a few seconds. "You know, when I allowed life to crawl out of the sea and evolve into humans, I thought they turned out pretty well, you know, except for the free will thing I've been rethinking forever. The only real issue I saw was that they're so forgetful."
Sam's eyes darted around the room, wondering both where the conversation was going and if she'd forgotten something important. "Sir?"
God smiled. "Over the years, I've realized that the forgetfulness isn't really a flaw because it allows me to make the occasional correction."
Sam smiled, feeling that the conversation was going her way. "How so?"
As she spoke a bright light flashed, enveloping her in her in its essence. Before she had a second to react to the beauty surrounding her, she felt a sharp, searing pain in her head. She wrapped her hands around her head and heard herself screaming in agony as she started to fall. Her eyes opened for the briefest of seconds, nearly blinded by the loving smile of God as he watched her.
"I work in mysterious ways."
For a long, long space of time, Sam lay where she had landed. Her eyes were closed tightly. The only thing she felt was pain. Everything hurt. Things she didn't know she had hurt. She thought about getting up, but just the thought made her moan, either from the idea of how much moving would hurt or from the pain even her brain seemed to be feeling.
An arm slid under her neck, lifting her upper body and leaning her against something. It was only after a second arm came around her that she realized she was in someone's arms. Whose arms, however, she wasn't sure she wanted to know. Confusion and pain usually equated to being with people, or things, she'd generally prefer not to be near.
The last words she remembered rang in her ears, only serving to confuse her further. "What do you mean mysterious?' She wasn't even sure who was mysterious, but she couldn't seem to stop herself from muttering the question.
"I didn't say anything was mysterious." It wasn't the voice Sam expected to hear, even though she hadn't consciously expected to hear anyone in particular, and her eyes popped open in response.
She smiled up at him, realizing it was a little out of the ordinary for him to hold her like that. Not that she minded. "Jack?" No, she didn't mind the slightest bit.
He smiled back at her. "Why are you surprised to see me?"
Sam shook her head; loathe to reveal the disjointed train of thought that had been running through her mind. "I'm not surprised." She tried to sit up in an effort to hide her mental discomfort.
Jack's arms froze for a moment, instinctively fighting to keep her close, but then his hold relaxed. "Why are you mad? Did I do something wrong?"
Sam shook her head again, straightening her vest and trying to figure out why everything felt so wrong. Well, everything besides those few blissful moments when she'd been in her CO's arms. "I'm not mad at you, sir."
"Who are you mad at?" Jack started gathering up pieces of whatever had broken when she fell.
Unfortunately, things weren't getting any clearer. "I'm not mad at anyone."
Jack stood up, helping Sam to her feet and trying not to notice the odd, panicky way she pulled her hands back. "You're mad at someone and if you won't tell me who, I can only assume it's me."
"I was just thinking about something." Sam looked around the room, which was more of a cave, allowing a shiver of complete terror to run through her at the realization she ha no idea where she was or what she was meant to be doing there. Even though she'd just pulled away from him, she grabbed for his hand to reassure herself, pretending that the behavior wasn't at all out of character for her.
Jack didn't know what to make of the way she was acting, but he wasn't about to rebuff her for initiating physical contact. His fingers tangled with hers. "What were you thinking about?"
"God." Sam's answer surprised her, not only because it had been spontaneous and unconscious, but also because something told her it was entirely true.
Jack looked freaked. "You were praying?"
Sam realized she was holding her CO's hand, but for whatever reason, she felt no compulsion to let go. "Sort of." She looked around the still unfamiliar room, sad that nothing had started to come back to her. "I guess." She shrugged. "I'm not sure."
Jack's forehead creased in terrible concern for her as he watched Sam's obvious confusion play out. "Felger! What did you do to her?"
Sam finally noticed the other scientist; the one crouched down behind a large rock that wasn't quite large enough to hide him. She didn't mention that she'd had no idea Felger was there because she didn't even know where there was.
Felger grimaced as he stood up, visibly shaking. "I didn't intend to hurt Major Carter." He looked around, probably for an escape route and determined he couldn't get to it. "I didn't realize she was there."
Sam waited for Jack to yell at Felger since he was undoubtedly responsible for hurting her, but Jack was remarkably calm as her stared at Felger. "Where did you think she was Felger?"
"Actually, Colonel, I don't remember Major Carter coming with us. I thought I was here to replace her." His voice grew weaker as he spoke until it trailed off almost entirely. His eyes darted around as he tried to process the tangled, conflicting thoughts in his head.
"Of course I came with you. I'm here, aren't I?" For some reason, some reason that was entirely beyond her grasp, Sam was rather nervous to hear the answer.
Jack looked nervous too. "You know, Carter, I don't remember you coming with us either."
"Why wouldn't I accompany you on a mission, sir?" They were dressed in field gear with weapons and packs and Sam knew that she and Jack and Felger hadn't decided to go exploring caves on Earth. Even so, she was somehow sure there was a perfectly valid reason that she hadn't gone with them, which appeared to make no sense and which completely evaded her. She blinked at Jack, feeling the gears in her brain spin uselessly without clicking into place. She wondered idly if that was how normal, non-genius types felt in the physics classes she'd innately understood. She motioned toward Felger. "Sir, why is he here?" She was the resident scientist on SG-1, after all, and Jack would certainly know why she'd been replaced or needed Felger's help.
Jack looked concerned. "You don't remember, Carter?"
Sam ducked, realizing she'd given aware the extent of her memory loss. "I might have bumped my head when I fell, sir."
"Felger, get packed up. We're leaving." He looked at Sam's stunned face and squeezed her hand. "I don't remember why he's here either."
With very little in the way of an explanation to an equally disoriented Daniel and Teal'c, the five of them raced for the gate. The fear that they might all forget how to get home or even that they weren't home already spurred them to run. The group stumbled through the gate, tripping over one another.
General Hammond and Dr. Fraiser were waiting at the end of the ramp. The general smiled. "Welcome back, SG-" He tried to subtly check the patches on their sleeves. "One."
The members of the team noticed the hesitation, but Jack was the only one who spoke. "Is everything all right, sir?"
The general nodded. "You'll need to get checked out by Dr. Fraiser right away. There seems to be an outbreak on the base. If you're well, you'll be secluded for forty-eight hours and then sent home, provided you haven't developed symptoms in that time."
Jack looked as confused as the rest of them. "Symptoms of what, sir?"
Dr. Fraiser spoke up. "It appears to be a virus of some sort. Perhaps the flu."
Sam looked around, searching for sniffling or sneezing or coughing or anything resembling flu symptoms in the staff. "Everyone seems fine."
Janet smiled. "I'm pretty sure that's some form of the flu." Her voice wavered a bit, making her sound rather unsure of herself. "As far as I can tell."
Jack echoed Sam's visual survey. "No one's sneezing or sniffling."
Janet nodded. "Confusion and memory loss are symptoms of the flu."
Even more confused, Sam looked at her friend. "They are?" She didn't recall that, but then, she didn't recall getting dressed that morning either, yet she evidently had.
Janet's smile weakened further. "I think so." Her smile disappeared completely. "I'm infected too."
All of SG-1, and Dr. Felger, stepped backwards, as though they weren't also all suffering from newly-identified flu symptoms.
Jack took the lead, issuing the denial he knew everyone on his team, with the possible exception of Felger who wasn't really on his team, would offer on their own. "With all due, respect, sir, we're all feeling fine, so we shouldn't risk catching something by hanging around, right?" He hoped the General's obvious confusion would allow him to over look the gaping holes in Jack's logic.
Perhaps it was the transient amnesia that was going around. Perhaps it was the fact that he wasn't really listening. Perhaps it was the simple fact that he was distracted by the joined hands of Jack and Sam. The general waited a beat too long before he shook it off. "You might be right, Colonel." He turned away in a very lost manner. "Go ahead home. I'll contact you when the illness has passed, provided I remember."
Sam looked at the general in surprise. As far as she knew that was rather strange behavior for him, but she couldn't be sure of her perceptions. She knew she should object, that she should at least give away her own illness if not that of the others, because it could be dangerous. But before she could say anything, Jack squeezed her hand and she decided to worry about it later. If Jack had to get a physical exam because of her, she figured he'd stop holding her hand and it just didn't seem worth it to her.
Hammond watched them leave, searching his memory for when he'd given permission for Jack and Sam to pursue a relationship. He shrugged, deciding that he must have because they were obviously in one and they would never have been so flagrant in disregarding regulations. He smiled, thinking at the very least Sam wouldn't be so flagrant in disregarding regulations, and then promptly started to wonder why he could remember that and not much else.
Sam spent a good hour wandering around in the parking lot, trying to find her car before she gave up and asked Jack for a ride. Her car wasn't in the driveway either, which concerned her. She was pointedly ignoring the 'for sale' sign on her lawn. Jack gave no indication that he knew anything about it, whether it was supposed to be there or not, so she asked him to wait until she'd checked inside.
Jack waited patiently through the inordinately long time it took for Sam to reappear, get back in his truck, and buckle her seatbelt. He wondered if the confusion wasn't getting worse because her actions made even less sense than the rest of the day that he could actually remember. "Uh, Carter, wasn't I dropping you off?"
She shrugged at him, wondering why she felt so comfortable with a gesture she'd always hated. "Apparently I moved. The whole house is empty. Can you take me back to the base?"
"Stay with me." He didn't wait for an answer before he shifted into drive and headed home. At the rate they were going, he couldn't be sure he knew where he lived either.
"Ok." Sam didn't want to go back to the base. She'd much rather drive around aimlessly with Jack.
While they were both alarmed, neither one admitted to it when they discovered her care in his driveway. Sam followed Jack as he unlocked the front door. It seemed strange to her that her couch and one of her lamps was in the living room and three pairs of her shoes had been abandoned next to the door, but just as she decided to own up to not remembering them moving in together, vague, flashes of packing and arranging and spending an awful lot of time kissing while doing the packing and arranging seemed to appear out of nowhere in her memory. She decided the confusion was fading and was quite pleased that Jack had rescued them from spending the night on the base.
They spent the evening making dinner and talking about the flu epidemic and wondering if they should have turned themselves in. When dinner was finished, they settled down on the couch. Jack put his arm around her shoulders and she snuggled into his chest. It felt perfect and familiar and wonderful, so Sam decided it was just more evidence that her memories were resurfacing. Content as she was, and that was quite content, it bothered her that she couldn't remember the beginning of their romantic relationship.
"Jack?" She didn't lift her head from his chest because she was just too comfortable.
"Hmm?" Jack didn't lift his chin from the top of her head either.
"Do you remember how we got together? When it actually changed?" She felt the moment her words registered with him because it seemed his whole body tensed.
He was quiet for a long time. "If I get this wrong, am I sleeping on the couch?"
Sam laughed. "Of course not." She wasn't ready to admit she didn't know. She hoped his recollection would give her something to work from, like the couch had reminded her of when she moved in. She felt guilty it was one of the things she'd forgotten.
"Um-" His arms tightened around her, trying to prevent her inevitable recoil when she heard his answer. "I don't remember."
Rather than getting upset that her boyfriend didn't remember becoming so, the answer soothed Sam's guilt. She smiled into his chest. "Me either. I guess it doesn't really matter."
"No, it doesn't." Jack kissed her forehead. "So what do you want to do tonight?"
Sam was disappointed that snuggling was out because she could have stayed right where she was for the rest of time. "I don't know. What do you want to do?"
"How about we make some popcorn, watch a movie, and then make love until dawn? How's that sound?"
Sam smiled up at Jack, the love shining in her eyes mirroring his. "That sounds like heaven."
And somewhere someone looked down at them and smiled.