A/N: I just want to say a big 'thanks' to Bucky4. Your last review made me really stop and think about where this is headed. Thanks to everyone else who has reviewed, as well, and sorry for the delay.

Return To Edora (Pt 5)

For several minutes the three of them stood silent, each wondering exactly how much trouble it was that the explorers had gotten themselves into. A lot, it appeared, from what they knew and a lot, because of how much they didn't know. Laira, herself, knew hardly anything about the situation and Jack and Sam knew even less. That definitely wasn't a good sign. But then again, that the explorers hadn't turned up dead or enslaved by Goa'ulds could only be a positive thing.

"Let me get this straight. They went to an address you found on the wall of a cave?" Sam asked for confirmation. She continued when Laira nodded, grimacing and glancing over at Jack who had a similar display of emotions dancing over his face. "I don't suppose you could show it to us?"

She reached a hand up to swat a wild strand of hair from her face, forehead furrowed in concern.

"I can," Laira agreed as they came upon the cottage. "It's not far if you wish to leave now. Or would you rather have a drink first? You must be thirsty from your walk here." She opened the door and glanced between them.

"Give us a minute, will you?" Jack asked her with a grim smile.

Laira smiled back. "Join me inside when you're ready," she told them as she headed in. Nathan ran up and followed her in, having run off unnoticed while they'd been talking.

When they were both out of sight, Jack shot Sam a questioning stare and shoved his hands deep into his pockets, his P90 brushing against his arms. "Well, Carter. What do you think?" he asked her quietly.

"Well, sir," Sam began, "it'd probably be best if we get this over with sooner rather than later." She eyed him curiously. Usually, he'd just make the decision on his own and tell her what to do. It was a simple enough choice. He had to be asking for her opinion to...what? Make things easier for her? He'd sensed her discomfort returning to Edora, so why not?

Jack gestured offhandedly in the direction of the caves and she let the thought slide. "We could meet up with Teal'c and Daniel in the caves and go on from there," he muttered, to which Sam responded with a shrug.


She watched as he nodded in affirmation and turned to follow Laira. "I'll let Laira know," he said as he opened the door.

Sam readjusted her P90 once more. "I'll wait here."

Taking a moment to readjust his cap, Jack disappeared into the cottage.

The cottage was exactly as Jack remembered it: warm, cosy and furnished only with the necessities without looking bare. It took a moment for his eyes to fully adjust to the light, dulled considerably compared to outdoors. He inhaled deeply. The smell of wood flooded his senses, as did memories of his last time there.

He'd spent days outside, trying in vain to recover the stargate and make his way back home. In the evenings, he'd return to the cottage, discard his shirt and scrub himself clean using water from buckets carried up from the stream. Laira would have a meal prepared and waiting for him on the table when he was done more often than not and they'd sit and eat together, sometimes talking, sometimes not.

It hadn't been his ideal life, but it had been something that had come to mean a lot to him. It had become his way of life when he'd given up hope of returning home.

Being there now felt strange and he knew he had made the correct choice in going back to the SGC when he'd been rescued rather than remaining behind. This life wasn't his, nor was it meant to be.

"Laira," he said softly, meeting her eyes finally. "We'd like to go now, if that's alright with you."

A nervous smile darted over her face and she walked over, placing a hand over his arm and leading him over to the wooden table. "We must speak first," Laira explained at his confused look.