Of Life-saving Research and Faulty Photocopiers

Author's Notes: This uses my story "Preserving the Fragile Balance" as a jumping-off point. It is recommended, but not required reading. Everything should make sense anyway… Since I've never seen a timeline saying when Ark of Truth was supposed to have taken place, I'm going to assume that it was fairly soon after Season 10 ended.

Many thanks to my betas: Curuchamion, Patti, and Josh.

Spoilers: Through Ark of Truth.

Disclaimer: I don't own the copyrights for anything. If you do, please don't be mad at me for playing with your toys!

Jon A. MacGyver, known as Mac to his friends, felt like he had finally come home. He wasn't quite sure why he'd been called in to the SGC, but he was happy to be there none the less. Things had changed subtly in the almost 3 years since the botched cloning by Loki, but it was still familiar and oddly comforting. Who would have thought that almost bare concrete walls would be such a refreshing sight?

At the front gate to the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Mac had been instructed to make his way to the briefing room. He had kept in touch from time to time with the team, so he knew the basics of what had happened. Mac knew that he, the other him, the man who was still living as Jack O'Neill, had been promoted (twice!) and was now a Major General in Washington, heading up Homeworld Security. In the meantime, Mac had continued High School in Colorado Springs. He recently graduated at the top of his class. Where his future would take him after that was still up in the air.

Being back in the mountain was still a bit of a shock to the system, but the grin on his face showed everyone that he was glad to be there. Having grown closer to his adult height, the briefing room chairs were more comfortable than the last time he had been in there. Mac had kept up the habit of working out with Teal'c, when he wasn't on Dakara with the Free Jaffa or out on a mission, and the muscle tone he had built up was quite evident on his tall, lean frame. With the increased agility due to his younger body, he had even almost beaten Teal'c a few times. Almost.

Mac noticed that the shades were closed into the General's office. He was glad that this was now Hank's command. It would have been more than a little weird to have his older self heading up the meeting, no matter what the topic was to be. He still had trouble imagining himself behind a desk instead of out in the field. He had even more trouble trying to figure out why the other him had taken the promotion in the first place and moved to Washington.

Mac's musings were broken when Daniel came into the briefing room, followed closely, and loudly, by Vala. The fact that Daniel was getting his ear chatted off was enough to bring a smirk to Mac's face. The universe was finally paying Daniel back for all those times he'd done exactly the same thing to Jack. Mac had gotten to know Vala a little over the year she had been with Stargate Command. It was obvious that she and Daniel cared about each other, and Mac thought they made a good couple, even if Daniel didn't realize it yet. What was it about Daniel and girls with accents? And aliens, for that matter…

"Daniel, I don't understand. Hi, Mac. What harm could there be in getting me one of those 'motorcycles.' I mean, Sam has several, right?" Vala was saying as she entered the room.

"For one, Vala, you don't have a license. Do you even know how to drive a car, let alone a motorcycle? Also, motorcycles are not cheap. How are you planning on paying for one?" Daniel replied, completely glossing over Vala's greeting of the other occupant of the room. When Vala got a sparkle in her eye and the mischievous smile on her face that always told Daniel trouble was just around the bend, he quickly started speaking again. "Never mind, I don't think I want to know."

"But, Daniel," Vala started to protest before being cut off.

"Vala, this is not the time for this discussion. We have a briefing to prepare for. I'm sure we'll talk about this later," he said in a tone that brooked no arguments.

"Daniel," Mac said, completely startling the archaeologist.

After a few moments, when the shocked look had left his face and his pupils had shrunk back to their normal size, Daniel regained his composure. "Mac! What are you doing here?" he asked, shocked to see the younger version of his friend sitting at the table with a bemused smile on his face.

"Oh, you know, just popped in for a visit. I was "invited" to come to a briefing this morning. Any idea what it's about?" Mac asked.

"No" Daniel responded.

"Vala, how are you today? Any idea what's going on?" Mac asked.

"I am just as uncertain as you two," she responded. "And I've convinced Daniel to buy me a motorcycle! Now I just have to decide what type," Vala added with a wide smile.

"I am NOT buying you a motorcycle!" Daniel quickly retorted.

Vala grabbed Daniel's arm. "Oh, pish posh. Of course you are. You just don't know it yet, darling!" She smiled at him when he rolled his eyes and shook his head and then grinned and winked at Mac.

"I have some motorcycle magazines at my place if you want to take a look later," Mac added, anticipating Daniel's reaction. He wasn't disappointed when Daniel's head shot up with a look of equal parts horror, accusation, and resigned humor.

"Mac!" Daniel said sharply.

"Daniel?" Mac asked back.

"You're not helping me here!" he said with exasperation.

"No, but he's helping me, darling," Vala interjected before leading Daniel to the conference table to have a seat.

Just as they were getting settled, Teal'c entered the room and bowed to the occupants. Mac noticed a glint of humor, along with something else, in the big man's eyes as he saw Vala with her arm on Daniel's.

"T! Buddy! How's it going?" Mac asked excitedly.

"I am well, MacGyver," Teal'c responded.

"Good to hear. How are things with the Free Jaffa?" Mac asked.

"Our formation of a government is proceeding, though slowly. Much as it took the United States many years and many disagreements to reach a mature structure for leadership, so it will with the Free Jaffa Nation. With the destruction of the Ori, we have been able to refocus our efforts on building our infrastructure. Many are having great difficulty adjusting to a life where their primary duty is no longer as a warrior."

"Yeah, I know what that's like," Mac agreed. "So, Teal'c, any idea what this meeting's about?"

"I am just as shaded from the sunlight as you are, MacGyver," Teal'c responded.

"In the dark, buddy, in the dark," Mac responded. "Anybody know where Carter and Mitchell are this morning?" he asked the room in general.

"I can answer that question and more in a few moments," General Landry said as he entered the room from his office. "At ease, people," he said.

Mac had started to stand before realizing that he wasn't really in the military any longer. Actually, as he thought about it, neither were any of the previously seated occupants in the room. He found that highly ironic, considering the fact that they were in the highest security and most secret military base in the world, possibly the entire galaxy.

General Landry got right down to business. "Colonel Mitchell is currently off world with the Daedalus. People, Colonel Carter has been involved in a lab accident."

At that comment, all eyes went wide around the room. Several people started talking at the same time.

"What happened?" Mac demanded.

"Is Sam OK?" Vala asked.

"How's she doing?" Daniel asked.

"People!" General Landry yelled several times, finally restoring order. "Colonel Carter is fine. She wasn't injured." As everyone in the room visibly relaxed, he continued. "Since the defeat of the Ori, we can use the Asgard technology onboard the Odyssey at will. Colonel Carter was working on some ground-breaking medical research. Apparently, she didn't quite feed the right parameters to the Asgard core and the results of her experiment weren't exactly what were desired."

"That's fine, General, but if Carter's not injured, why have I been asked to come here?" Mac questioned.

"I think I can explain, Sir," came a voice from the hallway. Everyone turned to see Sam standing there, ready and waiting to enter the room.

"As everyone knows, the largest problem with organ transplants is that the donor organ is frequently rejected by the recipient. The closer the donor is genetically to the recipient, the less likely it is that the organ will be rejected."

After that statement, Sam paused for a moment and took a look around the room.

General Landry was looking at Sam impatiently, waiting for her to continue.

Daniel and Vala had matching confused looks on their faces.

Teal'c sat as impassively as ever.

Mac's eyes had gone wide and his face had been drained of all color. He knew EXACTLY where this was going and why he'd been brought in to this briefing. When he caught Carter's eyes, he knew she could see the realization on his face, and the almost imperceptible nod gave him all the confirmation he needed. He dropped his gaze to the table, realizing that his entire world had just taken a sharp turn.

Sam continued where she had left off before. "The ideal donor would be genetically identical. This could come from an identical twin or …" she paused again.

"A clone," Mac stated for the rest of the group. At the same time, he heard the same words come out of another mouth. He looked up to see a young woman stepping up to stand beside Sam and couldn't contain his surprise, gaping at the figure that had appeared in the doorway. She had long blonde hair running half way down her back, perfect white teeth, and the same piercing blue eyes as her older counterpart. She stood almost the same height, but without the muscle mass built up by her doppelganger from a decade of fighting against the worst the universe had to offer.

General Landry had broken out in a grin and turned to look at the people sitting around the table.

Daniel and Vala's mouths had dropped open in shock at the appearance of the clone.

Teal'c looked like his jaw was threatening to drop open, too, and his eyes were as wide as anyone had ever seen them.

Mac had an unreadable expression on his face.

"How? What? Who?" Daniel said, trying valiantly to process what he was seeing.

"Let me introduce to you my mini-me, Thera Diane Carter" Sam said, prompting her clone to do a curtsy.

"Thera, huh?" Mac asked.

"We thought it was an appropriate name. It's a female version, and a nice tribute to, the Asgard that made this second life possible. And it also brings back some memories from that ice planet where it was my given name."

"Nice callback," Mac said. The thought of their simple lives and what could have been while working as slaves, without any regulations to get in their way, brought a far away look and a smile to Mac's face. He wondered if there was another hint from the name being given to him, but he put the thought aside for the moment.

"How did it happen?" Daniel asked.

"For centuries, the Asgard were dependent on cloning to continue their lives. As Mac so clearly demonstrates, they have also successfully been able to duplicate a human before," Sam said.

Mac grimaced at the statement and said "If you can call me a success."

Sam gave a half smile and continued on with her explanation. "I was doing research using the Asgard core in the Odyssey to see if we could come up with a way to clone a single human organ. If we're able to successfully do that, the ramifications are enormous. Just think about it. No one would ever have to die waiting for a suitable organ transplant. Fire victims could have their own skin regrown and replaced as skin grafts. Amputees might even be able to be given new limbs!"

"So, what went wrong?" Daniel asked again.

"Well, it appears I … she … we hit the wrong button on the Xerox machine." Thera stated, causing Mac to laugh at the echo of his comment to Loki several years before. Thera turned to him and said "I now understand your problems with pronouns when this happened to you!"

"Welcome to my world," he responded. "In more ways than one," he muttered under his breath, just loud enough for everyone to hear.

Sam continued where Thera had left off. "I had used a DNA sample of my own that was on file in the Asgard database just to see what would happen. Instead of a single organ, the core fabricated an entire body. I guess I didn't make clear the purpose of my research and was a little vague when entering parameters to the Asgard core. It interpreted "continued life" in the Asgard sense of transferred consciousness into a new body, not in the "preserving the existing life" as we think of it. It produced a little baby and told me it would continue to develop it to adulthood. When I realized what had happened, I stopped the process to reassess the situation. By that point, I had a 4 year old child in an Asgard containment field."

"So, if the core produced the child, did it also copy your mind, too?" Vala asked.

"Not immediately, no. Do you remember the Asgard that Colson Industries created a few years ago?" Sam asked the room. Daniel, General Landry, and Mac nodded their heads. Teal'c bowed his head once. Vala wore a confused expression on her face and shook her head, since she hadn't been to Earth at that point. It only took Sam a moment to realize the root of Vala's confusion. "Two years ago, a scientist by the name Alec Colson was able to grow an Asgard body based on DNA samples that had been given to his company by the Department of Defense. The body was fully functional, but it was just a shell. No Asgard consciousness had been transferred into it yet. That's basically the same way that Thera's body was created."

"So, how did she end up how she is now?" asked Daniel.

"When I realized what had happened, I knew I had to finish the process," Sam explained. "I had the core download my consciousness into itself and the body. I then told it to continue its process aging the body. However, it appears the Asgard have put the same marker in my DNA as they did with General O'Neill's. When the process finished, Thera had only progressed to the age that you see now."

"She's not going to suffer the same problems as I did, is she?" Mac asked, very concerned about the thought of anyone else possibly having to go through the same physical breakdown as he did.

"No," Thera responded quickly. The look of concern, along with other, quickly buried feelings, on Mac's face made Thera's heart melt. "We have access to all of the Asgard technology, including all methods they used for their own cloning. We were using those protocols, not Loki's. We have also run several scans to make sure that everything is functioning properly. All scans indicate I will continue to age at a normal human growth rate, just as Mac has."

"So, now what?" Mac asked.

"That's why you were brought here," General Landry broke in. "Colonel Carter, Thera, and I have discussed the situation. We'd like to set Thera up with a backstory much like yours: 16 years old, emancipated minor, retain her commission but not be on active duty. Also, we'd like you to look out for her. If it's OK with you, the Air Force would like to have Thera live with you, too. The official reason is something about saving money on rent."

"Are you OK with that?" Mac asked Thera. He was extremely excited at the prospect but didn't want to do anything that would make her uncomfortable.

"Of course I am. It was my … our idea," she replied.

Mac smirked at the comment. He had a pretty good idea what she was thinking when she suggested it and wasn't inclined to object in the slightest.

"Very good, people. I believe that concludes our briefing. Dismissed," General Landry said, getting up and returning to his office.

Mac couldn't believe his luck. When he had woken up this morning, he was just a "teenager" trying to figure out what to do with his life. Now, there was a "teenage" version of Carter, and he was being asked to live with her and look after her. THAT was an assignment he was looking forward to!

"Now, Daniel, about my motorcycle…" Vala started up again as she and Daniel left the room, followed closely by Sam, who was offering her opinion on what bikes Vala should consider.

Teal'c also rose to exit. "I will leave you two alone to discuss matters," he said before exiting the briefing room. "MacGyver, I will see you for our sparring session this afternoon. Thera Carter, it was a pleasure to meet you." He bowed to each clone in turn and proceeded out of the room.

Mac and Thera looked at each other for a few minutes, each lost in their thoughts, trying to figure out what to say.

Finally, Mac broke the silence. "You know, my apartment only has one bedroom."

Thera showed a devilish smile and just said "Oh, I think we can figure something out."

Mac smiled his widest, sweetest smile. He knew this arrangement was going to work out just fine.

This story is complete as it is now. However, I'm more than willing to continue this story. I just haven't thought of anywhere to take it. Well, I have a couple ideas, but nothing that I think makes a very compelling story. If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know!