Here it is: the end of the story! It's about stinkin' time! Sorry about how long it took to finish this story, but it took quite a few different twists then I was expecting. I'm planning on starting the third and final installment of this trilogy soon, so stay tuned and enjoy!
Jack had left Jackie's side only once since bringing her back through the gate, and then only because Dr. Lam threatened to have him physically removed from the infirmary so that she could assess Jackie's injuries. Once Dr. Lam was certain that her injuries were superficial and that exhaustion was the sole reason for her unconscious state, nothing short of the end of the world would pull Jack away from Jackie's bedside.
Sam was concerned. She had only convinced the scientists to postpone the experiments in the gateroom after they had checked the remaining alternate universes where they had left cells, and placed another dozen. The timing had been lucky. Not two minutes after removing the scientists and their equipment from the gateroom, an incoming wormhole was established and Vala and Jack, carrying an unconscious Jackie, came through. Jack had been worthless since, leaving Vala to explain the day's events in the debriefing.
All that had been 30 hours ago and still nothing had changed. Jackie was still asleep, Jack hadn't left the infirmary and had barely touched the food brought to him – and then only because Dr. Lam threatened to attach an IV if he didn't eat – and the scientists were well into checking their third round of cells in alternate universes for signs of entropic cascade failure, with no end in sight.
Since leaving the debriefing where Vala had announced that Adria had ascended, Daniel had spent his time in his office trying to find a solution to this new problem.
Knowing Daniel as they did, Cameron and Teal'c took turns bringing Daniel coffee and making Daniel leave his lab every couple of hours to eat, sleep, or just take a walk around to clear his head. When they weren't helping Daniel, Cam and Teal'c were going about other duties or running errands for the scientists in the gateroom.
Vala had taken it upon herself to keep an eye on Jack, bringing him food and coffee, and making sure that he wasn't disturbed. For a split second Teal'c had considered disputing her unspoken claim to be the one to keep an eye on Jack, but then realized that due to the events of the day, Vala was the one best able to help him. So Teal'c had backed off and enlisted Cam's help in aiding Daniel and Sam.
"Colonel Carter!" Dr. Apple yelled across the gateroom from her location near the gate.
Sam looked up from her discussion with Cam and Teal'c. Quickly, the three hurried to Dr. Apple's side.
"We've found one Colonel Carter!" Dr. Apple exclaimed in excitement as the three members of SG1 drew closer.
"What?!" Sam and Mitchell exclaimed at the same time.
"There is no evidence of entropic cascade failure in these cells." Dr. Apple explained as she pointed toward the computer.
Sam studied the computer for a moment. "Walter! Shut down the gate!" She ordered over her shoulder.
"Colonel!" Dr. Apple exclaimed in surprise and dismay.
Ignoring the scientist, Sam continued shouting orders at Walter, "Dial the Alpha site."
"I'll go alert General O'Neill." Cam announced as he turned to hurry out of the gateroom.
Moving quickly, Teal'c reached out and grabbed Cam's arm. "Negative Colonel Mitchell."
"He's right Cam." Sam interrupted. "Until we're sure that this is the alternate universe we're looking for, it is better that we don't alert General O'Neill."
Cam nodded his understanding and watched as the scientists moved the device to the alternate universe they had just been connected to.
Once they were connected, Dr. Apple nodded at Sam who picked up a radio to transmit through the gate. Before she could key the radio, however, Teal'c put his hand on her shoulder to stop her.
"Would it not be wiser, Colonel Carter, for me to transmit?"
"I don't understand."
"We are not aware of your rank or position at the SGC in this alternate universe."
Understanding dawned on Sam and she handed Teal'c the radio. Tipping his head in acknowledgment he keyed the radio.
"This is Teal'c of the Free Jaffa and Tauri, does anyone copy?"
Silence answered Teal'c's announcement. Just as he prepared to key the radio again, the radio crackled.
"Master Teal'c, it is an honor to hear from you."
Teal'c shared a look with Sam before replying. "To whom am I speaking?"
"Sergeant Tompkins at your service Master Teal'c."
"I must speak to your commanding officer Sergeant Tompkins."
"Just a moment Master Teal'c."
"I will wait."
"Teal'c, buddy, how go things on Chulak?"
Teal'c turned and raised an eyebrow at Cam, whose voice had just come over the radio.
"They are the same Mitchell. However I did not contact you to speak of matters regarding the Free Jaffa."
"Okay, what's up?"
Sam wasn't certain, but she could have sworn that she saw Teal'c roll his eyes.
"I have information on Jacquelyn O'Neill."
"Have you told Sam?"
"I have not. I was unable to establish a wormhole to Earth, which is why I contacted you."
"I don't understand, unless there was already a wormhole established you should have been able to connect."
Teal'c looked at Sam for a moment, who sighed in response to his unasked question.
"Control room." Sam said simply before turning and heading up there herself, followed closely by Teal'c and Cam. "Walter, can you send a video signal through the wormhole?"
"Yes Ma'am I can."
"Good, set it up."
"Hey Teal'c." Cameron said as his face showed up on the video screen. "I didn't know you could do a video feed." Suddenly Cam frowned. "Why does that look like the control room at the SGC?"
Now that Teal'c could see Cam, he could tell that he was still a Lt. Colonel. "Colonel Mitchell, what I am about to tell you will sound extraordinary, but I assure you upon my honor that it is the truth."
"What are you talking about Teal'c?"
"Colonel Mitchell I am from, what Samantha Carter calls, an alternate universe. A month ago, Jacquelyn O'Neill entered our universe from hers. We are trying to send her home. It is imperative that we send her to the correct universe."
Sam, Teal'c and Mitchell watched in silence as the alternate Cam considered what Teal'c had said.
"One year ago today, Jacquelyn Danielle O'Neill was taken from her second birthday party. We searched for months but never located her. Five weeks ago, she contacted us by using the Ancient communication stones. She spoke to us through General O'Neill's body, telling us that she had been taken by the Ori and turned into a weapon that they planned to use against our galaxy. By that time, we knew how to destroy the Ori and were in the process of putting the final touches on the mission to do just that. With this information, she said that she would find a way home and would see us before her third birthday." Alternate Cam paused. "Today is her third birthday, and we've heard nothing from her in the last month."
Sam motioned Walter to mute the transmission. "So far his story sounds about right, and we know that the Ori are gone in that universe and that there isn't currently a Jackie there." Cam and Teal'c nodded their agreement. "Teal'c, I'm going to need to explain what's going on."
Teal'c nodded and moved out of the way for Sam.
"Sam! I didn't realize you were there."
"We figured it was safer for Teal'c to open communications since we didn't know what rank or position I or our Cam would have."
Alternate Cam nodded. "So Jackie is there with you?"
"She's on base; we didn't want to get her hopes up too much."
"Makes sense." Alternate Cam paused for a moment. "Wait a second, how exactly are you connecting to our universe?"
"Jackie created a device that turns the stargate into a quantum mirror of sorts. Unfortunately we have to connect to another planet before turning the device on. The device than changes the universe we are connected to while maintaining the connection to the same planet."
"Which is why your Teal'c said that he couldn't connect to Earth…you're at the SGC."
Cam nodded. "I'll need to contact our version of you and let her know what is happening. Can you dial us back in 45 minutes?"
"Of course." Sam said. Turning to Walter she nodded for him to shut down the gate. Taking the microphone, Sam made an announcement into the gateroom. "Looks like we found the right one!" A cheer went up at her announcement. "We're giving them an opportunity to contact their SGC. We'll call back in 45 minutes, so take a break."
Sam, Teal'c and Cameron stopped at Daniel's lab and dragged him to the infirmary with a promise to explain once they were there. As the four neared the infirmary, Vala stood from her seat next to the door and blocked their way into the isolation room where Jack sat hovering over Jackie.
"The General doesn't want to be disturbed." Vala said, as the other four members of SG1 stopped before her.
"He'll make an exception for this." Cam responded.
"For what?" Vala asked, eyeing each one of them.
"We have located Jacquelyn O'Neill's home universe." Teal'c informed Vala.
"What?!" Daniel and Vala exclaimed together.
When Vala gave Daniel a funny look, he shrugged and defended himself, "I was in my lab."
"Cam, Teal'c, would you fill Daniel and Vala in on the specifics?" Sam asked. When the two nodded their affirmation, she moved toward the iso room door. Vala once again moved to block the door. "She's my daughter also Vala." Sam said only loud enough for Vala to hear.
Vala refused to budge immediately. After a moment's hesitation she reluctantly moved aside and allowed Sam through. Turning to the others, she awaited their explanation.
"How is she?" Sam asked quietly as she came up behind Jack.
"No change." Jack replied dryly. Looking up at Sam he frowned. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong." Sam responded.
"Then why are you here?" Jack asked as he stared at Jackie.
Sam winced at the deadness that Jack's tone had taken on. "Is it so inconceivable that I would come check on my alternate's daughter?"
"You weren't there, why would you be here?"
"You made that decision, not me. You didn't even give me the option." Sam retaliated.
"Nothing happened right." Jack finally responded, his voice cracking with emotion. After a moment he looked up at Sam. "The moment Bra'tac came back through the gate it was Charlie all over again. I couldn't put you through that. I hoped that Vala and I would get through the gate in time to get Jackie out of there and when we got back you would be ready to send her home." He turned back to look at Jackie. "But nothing happened right."
"It may not have happened the way we would have wanted, but we can still send her home in time to celebrate her 3rd birthday."
Jack's head snapped up in surprise.
There was an unspoken understanding between the members of SG1, past and present, that Jack would have a private conversation with the alternate Carter. So as the time drew closer to redial the other universe, Walter set up the equipment Jack would need in the briefing room.
"This is Colonel Mitchell, to whom am I speaking?"
Jack turned on the video equipment before answering. "Colonel Mitchell, this is General O'Neill."
The face of Samantha Carter-O'Neill suddenly filled the screen in front of Jack. He found himself concerned by the surprise, joy, and grief he saw warring across the familiar features. Then something else caught his eye.
"General?" Jack asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Yeah, that's a recent development." Alternate Sam smiled – a little sadly Jack thought.
"I guess congratulations are in order."
"Thank you." Sam looked down for a minute. "Jack?" She asked, looking up.
"Do you really have Jackie?"
"Yeah we do." Jack assured. "She's been here for a month."
"Month?" Alternate Sam exclaimed. "So you and your Sam…" She trailed off.
"And the Ori haven't been defeated?"
Sam bit her lower lip and nodded.
"Look, Sam, a lot has happened since Jackie showed up in our universe, too much to explain in one sitting, especially with a gate that will shut down on us." More head nodding. "Walter is working with Colonel Carter to compile all the reports relevant to this situation into a data stream to send to you. We'll dial back in an hour to send it through along with Jackie."
"Thank you Jack." Sam paused. "How's Daniel coming in his research into defeating the Ori?"
"Not well since the whole Merlin thing."
Sam nodded. "I'll pull together everything we have. I don't know how similar our universes are, but it may help you find a place to start."
Jackie became aware of her surroundings long before she was ready to acknowledge them. She recognized the sounds and smells of the infirmary and wracked her brain as to the events that led to her needing to be in here. All too soon the battle with Adria flooded her head. As she realized the implications of Adria ascending, she mentally groaned at her stupidity in not anticipating that move.
"Hey sleeping beauty."
Jackie's eyes flew open and landed on Jack's haggard face. Guess that wasn't so mental after all. "You could use some of that beauty sleep yourself." She croaked out.
Jack laughed and leaned over to plant a kiss on Jackie's forehead. "That's my girl."
"How long have I been out?"
Jack glanced at his watch. "Nearly 32 hours."
"Have you eaten or slept in that time?" Jackie asked in concern.
"Dr. Lam threatened to hook me up to an IV if I didn't."
"So," Jack said lightly as he retook his seat. "I have a birthday present for you."
"A birthday present?" Jackie repeated as she sat up.
"Uh huh." Jack replied cryptically as he reached over to help Jackie get comfortable. "But it's not just from me."
"Oh?" Jackie smiled as she watched Jack once again settle in his chair.
"There are actually quite a few names attached to this gift."
Jackie smiled, barely able to contain her excitement. She may have been in the body of a 23-year-old, but today was really only her third birthday.
Leaning forward, with elbows on knees, and a suddenly solemn face, Jack looked down at his hands. Looking back up, he forced a smile, one that, Jackie noticed, never reached his eyes.
"We're sending you home."
An hour after talking with alternate Sam, Jack found himself pushing Jackie, in a wheelchair, into the gateroom. As the door opened, Jackie was surprised to see a large crowd of SGC personnel mingling around the room. Above the door on the other side was a huge banner reading: HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY JACKIE!
Once the two were completely in the gateroom, all the personnel burst into "Happy Birthday" followed by "For she's a jolly good fellow."
Giving everyone a chance to say their goodbyes and thank you's, Jack moved over to where Sam was standing with a radio.
"Colonel Mitchell, this is General O'Neill, do you copy?"
"We're sending the data stream now."
"We're receiving." There was a short pause. "Confirm receipt. Sending our data stream now."
Jack watched Sam until she nodded. "Confirm receipt Colonel. Is Carter there?"
"I'm here General." Alternate Sam replied, realizing this was not a private conversation.
"We'll be sending Jackie through in just a moment, Carter. Everyone is still saying their goodbyes."
"Understood." Silence reigned for a moment before the radio crackled and Sam's voice came through again. "General, in regards to our earlier conversation: don't waste too much time, you never know how much – or little – you may have left."
Sam shot Jack a confused look, but before he could respond to either Sam, the rest of SG1 came up with Teal'c pushing Jackie's wheelchair. He smiled down at Jackie.
Jackie nodded in excited anticipation. "Yeah."
Turning to SG1 Jack nodded. In response, they one by one said their goodbyes and backed away. Vala was the last before Sam and Jack. As she bent over to hug her, Jackie pulled her into a fierce hug.
"I'm sorry Vala."
Vala pulled back and locked eyes with Jackie. "You did what you had to do Jackie."
"There was no way you could have anticipated Adria ascending. You did what you had to do and you did it to the best of your ability."
Jackie smiled as a single tear traced a path down her face.
"Enjoy your childhood Jackie." Vala whispered as she gently wiped the tear from Jackie's face before stepping back to join Daniel, Cam and Teal'c.
Once the others had said their goodbyes, Jack and Sam pushed Jackie to the top of the ramp. Stepping forward, Sam gave Jackie a hug.
"Take care Honey." Sam whispered before placing a kiss on top of her head.
"Thank you for everything Sam." Jackie replied.
Allowing Jack his chance to say goodbye, Sam stepped to the side and watched as Jack squatted in front of the wheelchair. In order to postpone the inevitable, Jack checked the elastic restraints that held Jackie to the wheelchair.
"Jack…" Jackie tried to get his attention. After a moment he finally looked up. "I'll be fine." He nodded.
In a move that surprised most of the room, Jack gathered Jackie up in a huge hug. For several moments he just held her. "I love you kiddo." He whispered huskily into her ear.
"I love you too." Jackie responded hoarsely.
Finally pulling away, Jack looked deeply into Jackie's eyes, both pairs containing a deep sadness. "No matter which universe, Jackie, I'm proud of you and I love you...always."
Jackie nodded. "Always."
Finally, Jack turned, looked at Sam, and nodded. She came forward and handed him the radio again.
"Carter, we're sending Jackie through. She's securely tied to the wheelchair in case the de-aging process happens rapidly."
"Understood General. Thank you."
Jack looked down at Jackie one last time before gently pushing her through the stargate.
"Confirm receipt General." Alternate Mitchell responded a few seconds later.
"Understood Colonel." Jack responded through the radio, then shouting over his shoulder, "Shut her down Walter! Dr. Apple, disassemble the device and destroy the schematics."
Immediately, the scientists scurried into action. They didn't like the order, but they understood the consequences of certain factions in the government getting their hands on the device.
Even after the gate shut down, the scientists got to work destroying their weeks of labor, and the gateroom cleared, Jack and Sam stood staring at the stargate.
Without looking away from the last place he'd seen Jackie, Jack spoke to Sam. "We need to talk Carter."
Thank you to all of you who have faithfully been reading this story and reviewing. Hope this was tied up enough for you and hope that you will read the next one.