Well folks, this is it – the end of this story. I'd like to thank you all for your patience and understanding in waiting for me to get this far. I'm going to spend a little time now on my new fic which is under my other pen-name. Once I've finished with the current one on there, that is. I hope to update that one soon too. The one after that will be the big one... my 100th story for Stargate SG-1.
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this last chapter.
Crazy Mixed Up World.
"Apparently I was dead. The other 'me' was dead, I should say. That was the whole damn point of the exercise Carter."
Chapter 17 – Promises of Things to Come.
"Sir?" Sam looked confused, so Jack decided to just come out with it. No more beating about the bush; it was just giving them both a hang up. "The point being that they really wanted another Jack O'Neill, so they decided to go out and find one. And guess who they found? Yeah, lucky me."
"But, why?" she puzzled, still not understanding the logical reasoning behind any of it.
"So they could go fill a huge gap in their universe, Carter. Apparently the other you; their version of you, missed me too much and so they all – well, except their Daniel that is - hatched this little plot to replace their dead 'Colonel' with another. Using their 'superior' technology to kidnap another O'Neill who, unfortunately, turned out to be me."
"Holy Hannah! I missed...or rather... 'she' missed you that much?" Sam gulped, her eyes widening at the implications that idea opened up in her mind.
Jack hesitated a little before he plucked up his courage. He had to keep reminding himself that this was 'his' Sam Carter, and not that other one.
"Yeah, apparently they were... 'together' - as in...engaged."
"Oh!" she grimaced. "Wow." More realities with the same Jack and Sam combination, she mused silently.
Jack studied her face, looking for anything that would reveal her innermost feelings, but apart from embarrassment and a renewal of the former awkwardness there was nothing to indicate anything deeper. Not even a hint at what she thought about that idea. He sighed in disappointment; he was hoping to see so much more by way of a reaction from her.
"Apparently your 'twin' was more than happy to string me along in her little drama, until I realised the truth."
"What?" Sam's face blanched in shocked surprise.
"I've already mentioned that they drugged me into believing I was back home and everything was normal. That any memories of my past life were just treated as... 'delusions of a sick mind', I think is how their Doc Fraiser put it."
"Wow. So you were like...ah...together, and actually engaged to her?" Sam couldn't get that image out of her mind, wishing in some way that it was like that here.
Jack wondered how she would take what he was about to say, but it would probably be in his official report for her to read anyway. Where it would leave them afterwards was anybody's guess.
"Not that it was really my choice at the time, Carter. But in all senses of the word...yes we were together."
"Holy Hannah!" she exclaimed again, wondering if that meant that he'd... that they'd... um...been together, as in... 'sleeping' in the same bed too. "Really? You...you'd actually…" Sam broke off when her voice gave out, suddenly feeling hot and bothered. This was the stuff her dreams were made of, and yet... regrettably he'd been with yet another Sam...just not her.
"Yeah," he admitted feeling guilty and absolutely appalled by the whole idea of what he'd allowed to happen. He felt like he had betrayed her trust and that was something he believed he could, nor would, never do.
"How could I...em...'she' do that? God...how sick is that? I can't imagine doing anything that horrible," she responded with feeling. How could 'she' put him through that? She wondered. "It was an inexcusably evil thing to do to anyone."
Jack sighed again, wiping his hand over his face, trying to shake off the vivid and tainted memories.
"She wasn't really evil Carter. There wasn't anything malicious about her. She was just...she'd been so... well, deeply in love I guess, and absolutely desperate after losing her fiancé."
"You loved her?" Sam asked, trying not to choke over her words. She studied him closely and could see the lines of pain crease his brow, his face draining of colour before he spoke up.
"In a way I did, yeah" he confessed quietly, watching Sam's face closely. He was satisfied he'd hit the mark when it looked like she'd swallowed a lemon. "...but I didn't know she wasn't you at that point. It was only later on that I realised I was so totally in the wrong place."
Sam swallowed harshly, a small sob escaping from her lips. She fought hard to stop herself from letting the tears fall.
"You...you really thought it was me?" she asked in a small voice. He would have done that? Lived with that woman thinking all the time that it was her?
"At first. But then, I knew I was with the wrong Samantha Carter."
Jack took her smaller hand in his and squeezed it, but she still looked stricken.
"Hey, Sam. I'm sorry... I really, really thought it was you at the time. I was so damn glad to get things out into the open and not hide how I felt about you. I'm sorry it wasn't like the real deal."
"Sooo, what…?" Sam couldn't finish her question. How could she ask him if he really loved her enough to... what? How could she ask him to give all this up? He would never ask her to do that, that was for sure.
"I honestly had no idea of what was going on. To my mind I was loving...you!"
"You actually love me like that?" she gasped, trying to keep a lid on her mounting excitement, by chewing on her lip. "Really?"
"You know I do Sam. And if the regulations didn't get in the way I'd..."
"Jack, please, don't," she interrupted, her voice breaking along with her heart. She'd wanted this so much, but she knew it could never happen; not just yet anyway. "I love you too, I really do, but we can't do this. I can't..." she broke off, tears stinging at the corners of her eyes, and she was growing more and more frustrated with the USAF rules on fraternisation. She didn't want to give up her career, and she wouldn't ask him to consider it either. Things would have to stay as they were, hidden, just as it was when they'd agreed to keep it locked away in that room. "It's...it has to be enough that I know you care that much. Thank you."
Jack sighed. He would give up just about everything for her, but he knew she wouldn't want that, and in the end he'd probably resent her for having done that to him. Having now tasted the forbidden fruit, he would really love to have more, but he also knew he couldn't do that to her. He would just have to cram all the love he'd felt back into that box marked - not to be opened until later – the one that he kept buried deep inside his heart. It wasn't going to be easy. There would always be moments of grief for both of them when they wanted more than just friendship between them; when they needed comfort and reassurance, but wouldn't be allowed to act on their feelings.
"I'll always be here for you Sam. Always."
"I know. Thank you. You too."
"I'll be waiting for you until you think the time is right. Then I promise I'll make it up to you forever afterwards," he whispered with a warm smile.
He was tired. He'd been awake for quite a while, and at this point in his recovery, sleep had a habit of creeping up on him when he least expected it, and he could feel himself slipping away.
"Rest Jack. I'll be here. Always. I love you."
He drifted off on a wave of euphoria with her words echoing in his mind to fill his dreams; and with the feeling of her lips when she pressed a gentle kiss on his cheek as he fell asleep.
Hammond closed the door softly, finally understanding the pain he'd seen in Jack's eyes. It wasn't from his injuries, it was because of his devotion to Sam Carter and his inability to put aside those feelings now that the proverbial cat was out of the bag. The General wasn't stupid, he'd often heard the whispered rumours that flew about the SGC grapevine on occasions. He'd seen how close they all were, but he'd refused to believe that two of his best officers had broken any of the regulations that were in place; they were too loyal for such behaviour; and now he knew the true depth of those rumours. They had indeed kept to those rules, and would do so in the future even to their own hardships and pain, putting the Air Force first at all times, before their personal needs. Surely, such commitment and dedication to duty should warrant some type of acknowledgement or recompense?
He also knew they didn't deserve to wait indefinitely for that far off day to come. With the high risk of their missions, he knew that one day it might never happen. Something would happen that Jack wouldn't be able to get them home safe, perhaps not even making it home himself, and he could only pray that it wouldn't happen to them of all people.
With those thoughts running through his head, he could only hope that perhaps he could do something to remedy their situation. He had some serious thinking to do and then he had several phone calls to make; maybe having to go to Washington to plead his case. One thing was for certain though; he would do everything within his power to make things easier for the couple. Heck, if they have done anything for this world, like saving everyone's sorry asses, then it was about time the powers that be did something for them in return.
Armed with a new determination, he would see this through to the end, even if it meant giving up his own command and taking retirement because of it, then by god, it would be well worth it.
Thank you all for seeing this to the end, and I hope you've been happy with the way things turned out. I may have changed a few things from the original, but I haven't really changed the story or the ending. Hugz to all who reviewed! Thanks!