Here's the last chapter, that epilogue of sorts that I promised. I hope you like it. Please let me know what you think, and if you care for any more stories in this series. I can't wait to hear from you, really! And thanks again so much for being here!
8 Years Later (Early 2035)
He glanced over with something between concern and uncertainty on his face. "Janet…are you sure about this?"
She pulled in a dramatic deep breath in amusement and put a hand on his arm. "Yes, Travis, I'm sure."
"Are you sure you're sure?" he asked after a moment.
"Yes!" she said again, throwing her arms up in the air--though the levity didn't help alleviate all of the butterflies in her stomach. He gave her one of those looks, and she sighed and smiled at him. "Listen; you have nothing to worry about," she told him gently, leaning close. "No matter what happens or what we find there, it won't change how much I love you. Okay?"
He smiled, and Janet kissed her husband briefly, momentarily forgetting where they were. The jumper bucked around them, but that wasn't the only thing that pulled them apart. As Travis quickly stabilized the controls, both of them looked up to see Cassie standing over them with her hands on her hips. She teasingly shook a finger first at Janet, and then Travis.
"You, stop distracting the pilot, and you, keep your eyes on the road."
"You mean the sky."
She rolled her eyes. "Yes. The sky. The air. The planet. Whatever."
Skaara came forward from the back of the jumper and raised an eyebrow at them all. "We would not want to crash, after all."
Janet smirked. "Figured that out on your own, did you?"
"General Hailey would not be happy with Cassie and I if we let the younger members of our team crash our transport," he replied matter-of-factly.
Travis smiled to himself and turned his full attention back to the controls. After a while at Stargate Command, it had been discovered that he did have a trace bit of the ATA gene, and with gene therapy he could now fly a jumper as well as anyone--the technique of the therapy had improved over time. It was still more difficult with people who had never had any of the gene in the first place, though, which was why he was the only member of SG-13 that could fly well.
Janet looked out the front viewport again, watching the woods she had tramped through as a teenager pass by below them. SGC teams had been back to this planet from time to time, but only to check up on the tribe they had liberated from Osiris, and her team had never been here. This was the first time she had been on this planet in almost eight years.
Travis made a mention of how many kilometers they had gone, and she told him to start slowing down so that they could start looking for smoke from villages. They were in the right area now. She recognized the bends in the stream below them; she had to marvel at how clear the memories were suddenly, as if she had been here just yesterday, saying goodbye to Hadda, Trinan, and Falah.
She touched the arrowhead necklace around her neck that she still kept--intertwined with it's leather and beads was the metal chain of the first necklace Travis had given her when they were dating. Neither of them came off at any other time than when she slept.
So much had changed in just a few years. Besides the fact that she was married, and the happy linguist and archaeologist of SG-13, hers was the flagship team of the SGC, the successor to SG-1. That jersey had been retired when its last members had stepped down just a few years ago. They'd all decided to go out together--Aunts Sam and Carolyn, Uncles Teal'c and Cam, and Mom and Dad. That generation. Colonel Hailey had been promoted and was now the commander of the SGC, and SG-13 had been given the duties that had once fallen to SG-1.
It had been a lot to take in at the time. Now they were all used to the responsibility, danger, excitement, and uncertainty that came every day with being the SGC's frontline team--or as used to it as any normal human being could be, anyway.
Janet snapped out of the past when she saw a plume of smoke coming from up ahead, right where the village should have been. Thank goodness…they hadn't moved yet. Or if they had they'd come back.
"Is that it?" Travis asked.
"Yes!" she grinned in relief. "But set down in that clearing there, just down the stream. We can walk from there. We don't want to scare them off."
He nodded, and carefully set the cloaked jumper down in a clearing just a little larger than needed for the craft with its hatch open. Per the earlier agreement, all four of them disembarked with only zats for weapons, and Janet kept hers holstered. They stayed out of sight until they couldn't see into the village.
It looked sort of the way she remembered it, but larger--not by a lot, but larger. The small community bustled like it always had, and she easily recognized the styles of clothing worn by the men, women, and children that strode between the huts. A few of the younger adults she even recognized, just from seeing in the group of teenagers she had spent time with with Falah when she was here. They were all grown and married now, like her. Many had one, two, or even three children trailing behind them.
And then one hut off to the side near the edge of the clearing--close to the head of the trail and to them--caught her eye. She knew that spot. She had seen Trinan and a few of his friends working hard to build that hut there through her seventeenth summer. She remembered what had been going through her mind while she watched them from across the village, remembered feeling uneasy, but at the same time almost excited about what it was meant for--before she had left the village for good.
The leather drape over the door was pushed to the side, and a young man stepped out of the small home with a hammering tool and pegs.
Janet swallowed, and didn't realize for a long moment that the others were asking her if they were in the right place. She shushed them, told them yes, and pointed Trinan out to them. They fell silent again at that.
She watched him for a moment, and that was when she noticed that a few of the pieces of wood of the outside wall on one side were tilting loose. He had come out to repair it. After another few moments, she turned to Travis--the leader of sorts by default as the only military member of the team--and spoke to him quietly. He agreed, and SG-13 quietly moved around the edge of the clearing, still inside the trees and out of sight, until they came closer to Trinan's hut.
When they were there, Janet stepped to the edge of the tree line. The others stood by, zats ready to help if anything went wrong, and watched as she whistled out softly.
Trinan paused. She whistled again, and he looked around, but didn't seem to spot anything. She tried one more time, a little louder, and this time he turned in the right direction and squinted at the trees. After a second of silent communication with her teammates, Janet whistled again to signal she was still there, and stepped slowly out of the trees alone. She was almost behind the hut; Trinan could see her from where he was repairing it, but she was hidden from the rest of the village.
She stopped just out of the trees, and his eyes widened. "Janet…is that you?" he asked in his own language.
Janet smiled and replied in the same native tongue. "Yes. I am twenty-five summers now; isn't it safe for me to be here?"
Trinan stammered. "Yes…of course…but…" He pulled his arms away from the hut and set the tools on the ground as he faced her fully, bewildered. "Why?"
"I said I would visit, didn't I? I don't break promises."
He answered in wonder, falling a step or two forward. "No…I never thought that you were the type who would. But…still, I almost expected never to see you again."
Janet pulled the necklaces out from her jacket so he could see them better, and took a few steps closer. "I promised never to forget any of you, too. I didn't break that promise, either. Of course I came back." She raised an eyebrow. "Now aren't you glad to see me?"
Trinan smiled finally and closed the distance between them. "Yes! Yes, I am. It is wonderful to see you."
She hugged him hard. "You too."
He returned the embrace for a moment, before pulling her away to look at her for a long moment. "You have not really grown…but you are different…"
Janet smirked. "A few years of running around the galaxy keeping it from blowing up in your face will do that to a person. But I'm fine. How are you doing?"
"I am well," he nodded. "I have missed you…but I have made a good life here. There is someone else you should see."
"Hadda! Where is she? Is she still over there in the same hut? Or has she moved into the older women's hut?"
His face fell.
"Janet…I am sorry…but Hadda left us two seasons ago. She fell sick last winter."
Janet's heart clenched. "Oh no…" She had to remind herself that when it came to life in villages such as these, the woman had been at a good older age. She had led a good life. These people did not have life expectancies near as long as people on Earth these days, and sickness was more likely to be fatal. She swallowed hard after a moment, and composed herself.
"I'm sorry too," she sighed. "I wanted to thank her again…for everything she did for me while I was here."
Trinan smiled gently. "I am sure she knows. You were dear to her heart. She missed you as much as Falah and I."
"How is Falah? I assume that is who you did mean a moment ago."
"Yes. And she is--"
"Trinan! Are you finished with that wall? Your supper is ready!" The voice came from inside the hut, and Janet's eyes widened. They almost popped out of her head when Falah stepped out of the hut with a toddler girl on her hip.
"Over here," Trinan said, grinning.
She spun around and saw them, and her face went slack with shock. "Janet!" A four or five year-old boy came running out behind her, and she set the little girl down with whom Janet assumed was her brother, and ran forward to embrace Janet. "You are here! I did not think I would ever see you again…"
Janet laughed and hugged back for a moment, but then let go and looked at the two of them strangely. "What's going on…?" She looked at Falah specifically. "What ever happened to marrying Jadas?"
Falah sighed. "When you left…we wanted you to go, so you would be home, and happier. I didn't not want you to stay because you were worried…and that is why we did not tell you that…"
"That what?" she prompted gently.
"Jadas was killed in the attack the night before you left," she answered quietly, wrapping her arms around one of Trinan's. He took her in his arms for a moment, and then let go again, while she still held his arm.
Trinan continued. "After you were gone…Hadda was the only other who knew you were alive. Perhaps the secret bound us together, or perhaps it was meant to be…but with the loss of you and Jadas, neither of us any longer had a future mate. By the time the cycle began again, we were ready to announce our betrothal."
Falah shrugged. "It was the only thing that could have happened, really. We could help each other, and after a while it seemed we were meant for each other."
Janet blinked for a moment. "Falah…I'm so sorry about Jadas…but I'm glad you two are happy." She smiled then. "And on that note, I suppose there's someone you should meet." She motioned the rest of her team out of the trees, and when they came, she went and pulled Travis over to her two native friends.
"Travis…Trinan and Falah," she said in English, before switching back to Leska. "And Trinan, Falah…this is my husband, Travis."
Trinan's eyebrows went up. "Travis…why does that name sound familiar?" He smiled suddenly. "Is that the name of the boy you spoke to me of?"
"One and the same," she grinned.
"I am glad it worked out between the two of you. It seems you are happy as well."
"Yes…" She looked back at the two children watching them curiously. "We have one of those, too," she chuckled. Travis asked her what she'd been telling them, and she explained quickly. Trinan looked back at the children, and introduced both of them, though neither did anything more than take a few steps closer to their parents and look up at her and Travis curiously.
"You only have one?" he asked in amusement.
She shrugged and nodded. "For now." Then she laughed. "Though we did just find out that we're expecting out second," she told him, holding a hand to her middle without thinking about it. Though she'd said it in Leska, Travis understood that movement, and he smiled and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
They couldn't stay much longer. After a few more minutes of talking with Falah and Trinan, they agreed that even though it was much safer for Janet now than it would have been if she had come back before her twenty-fifth summer, that they should not take the chance of anyone else seeing her. Before they left, Travis and Trinan shook hands, and Janet hugged Falah tightly before throwing her arms around Trinan again.
"I'll miss you," she told them again, swallowing.
"And we you," Trinan sighed, and looked at her. "But…you should not come back. We do not want anything to happen to you."
"I know…" Janet pulled a small package from her vest--a small package wrapped in burlap that wouldn't look out of place in the village. She pushed it into his hands as she stepped back. "Take this. There is a small device there, and a piece of paper. On the paper is the ring address for my planet, and a number sequence. If you ever need anything…or you the two of you just want to see me and have an excuse for going to the ring…dial the address, then put the number sequence into the device, and come through. Those instructions are written on the paper, too. Just make sure no one else ever gets their hands on them. All right?"
Trinan took it, nodding slowly as he looked at it. He put the package away in a pocket of his shirt. "Thank you. We will keep it safe."
The little girl tugged at Falah's skirt, and she picked her up again. "I am glad you came back, Janet. Even if you cannot stay," she smiled softly. "Good luck."
"You too," she answered, throat clogging a little. "Goodbye."
Trinan nodded. "Goodbye, Janet."
Slowly, she pulled back to the tree line with Travis, where Cassie and Skaara waited. Together they all retreated into the foliage.
Janet waved goodbye one last time before turning and walking back toward the jumper, and back toward her life, leaving behind forever the one she had had here. Now she had another life, a fulfilling one--the one left to her and her teammates by her father and his team.
She planned to live it to the fullest.