Warning! Shippy angst ahead...
The Ninth Chevron
Daniel's office hadn't changed, but for some reason, it felt different. Maybe it was the mood.
Jack stood in the doorway a moment and watched his friends work. His shoulder itched inside the sling he'd been forced to wear the past few days. Teal'c stood beside Daniel, who sat on a stool at his work table. The recovered tablet from their time on Fensilir sat on its surface.
"What are you fiddling with now, Daniel?" Jack finally asked, letting his presence be known.
Daniel looked up and pushed his glasses back to the bridge of his nose. "Oh, hi Jack."
Teal'c gave a small nod and smiled in greeting.
Jack stepped inside the room. "Whatcha' doin'?" He raised his eyebrows and looked pointedly at the electronic tablet.
Daniel looked a little startled. "I didn't want to bother you with it right now, considering the circumstances, but if you'd really like to know…"
Jack sighed. "Of course, I'd love to hear about it." He tried to push some sarcasm into his voice.
"Well," Daniel said. He stood and offered Jack his stool.
Jack perched on it and watched Daniel step to the opposite side of the table.
"The tech boys were finally able to access the information on the second tablet from Fensalir. Teal'c and I have been working to translate the text."
"Does it say anything interesting?" Jack asked. He discovered that his stool seat rotated and started shifting it slightly with his hips.
"Actually, Jack, it's extremely interesting," Daniel said. A little bit of his old spark lit his eyes.
"Oh?" Jack lifted his eyebrows. "Do tell."
"It looks like Ba'al may have been way off."
"Yes, well, I've been saying he was off for years."
Daniel smiled. "Not that kind of off, Jack. See, all that time he wanted to go through the Stargate on the moon station. He thought there was something more powerful on the other side."
"Aisa confirmed as much," Jack said.
"Yes, but she also said she didn't understand why he would want whatever it was. She called the Stargate the 'portal of renewal."
Jack remembered that. "She did."
"Daniel Jackson believes there was a device at the address that would reverse the effects of the weapon," Teal'c said.
Jack thought about that for a second. "Why?"
"The computer I retrieved from Fensalir had information on it, not about a weapon, but regarding the artificial creation of atmosphere, oxygen, plant life…"
Jack shook his head. "The weapon moon had all of that."
Daniel smiled. "It did, Jack, but what if that wasn't all? What if the terra-forming of the moon was just a dry run? A practice for instigating the process on a larger scale."
"So you think—"
"That whatever was on the other end of the ninth chevron was a literal renewal. The weapon takes away life and then those left behind step through the Stargate and reform what has been destroyed. A new life."
"It's a stretch, Daniel."
Daniel nodded. "True. And maybe it's just my wishful thinking that Aisa and her people didn't merely set out to destroy."
Jack shook his head with a smile. "See, there goes your pesky faith in people coloring your judgment again."
"It does fit. The mythology surrounding the Moirae suggests that they could rain down destruction, but in other stories, they're called the bringers of life… even sometimes depicted as hand maidens to child birth."
"There is no way to be sure now that the power source has been destroyed," Teal'c said.
"Oh, I don't know," Jack said. "There may be another way to dial the Gate out there. You never know what's around the corner." He smiled at his friends.
"Well, I think Ba'al will be in for a surprise if he ever manages to discover one," Daniel said.
"So will the Tok'ra for that matter," Jack added.
"They are without honor," Teal'c said.
"Washington agrees with you," Jack said. "I have a feeling relations with the Tok'ra are going to be strained for quite some time."
"They've officially apologized," Daniel said.
"Well, I can tell you where they can stick their apology." Jack scowled.
"Whatever we feel toward them, in the end Anise came through."
Jack looked at the floor. "Yeah, well…"
"Speaking of what's around the corner," Daniel said. "How's the move going?"
"Oh," Jack sighed, "everything's all boxed up and ready to go."
"Things won't be the same around here without you and Sam."
Jack lowered his eyes to his hands. He put his thumbs together, pulled them apart; pretended to inspect his nails. He blew air from his lips. "I know."
There was a moment of silence.
Then Jack cleared his throat and looked back up. "But, hey. Washington's just a flight away, and I'll still find myself here on occasion."
"You know, Jack," Daniel said. He looked a little nervous. "I'm not sure I'll be here when you come back."
Jack started. "Why not?"
"I don't know. I just think it might be time for me to move on."
"Move on where? Away from the program?"
Daniel met his eyes. "Well, it's either that or join a scientific team." He shook his head. "And I don't think I could do that. It wouldn't be the same."
Jack thought for a moment. "What about Atlantis?"
Daniel chuckled. "You know I'd go there in a heartbeat, but come on, Jack. I've asked and been turned down how many times now?"
Jack shrugged. "Oh, I don't know. You kind of have friends in high places. I might be able to…"
Daniel's eyes lit up. "You serious about that?"
Jack smiled. "Well, what good's being The Man if I can't send my best friends out of the galaxy?"
"I, too, will be leaving," Teal'c said.
Jack raised his eyebrows.
"The Council has offered me a seat. I believe it is where I will best serve my people as we build a new government."
Jack nodded and clasped his friend on the shoulder. "I know, Teal'c. You'll be great."
They stood in silence. Jack found his eyes roaming the room. Of course it felt different, he thought. It wasn't home anymore. For any of them.
"The world turns on a dime," Daniel finally said.
Jack's smile was a little sad. "I suppose it does."
"I have no doubt you will find that though our styles may be different, General Landry will be the leader you deserve," Jack said. He stood behind a podium at the top of the metal platform of the Gate room, the Stargate inert behind him.
The red, white, and blue bunting he'd delegated Walter to order was streamed from one end of the naquadah ring to the other. His former staff stood at attention on the floor before him. His eyes scanned the faces in the crowd, taking note that there was one missing.
Jack relaxed his posture a little and absently toyed with the corner of the podium. "You know, when I took this job, I wasn't sure I could fill General Hammond's shoes. I worried that I couldn't do his legacy justice. And while I still feel that my shadow stands short beside his, the program he maintained will stand strong against whatever it faces in the future because of the men and women in this room. The continued advancement of the human race will have you to thank. And I have you to thank for welcoming me when I was unworthy and making me look good. Stay safe out there."
Jack stepped away from the podium and smiled at the applause. He knew he should be happy for his promotion. He should feel the smile that graced his face on the inside. The truth was, he was leaving for Washington not really sure of what lay ahead. All he knew was that one part of his life was ending. An important part.
He shook hands with each soldier who approached and wrapped a friendly hug around the shoulders of Colonel Reynolds since he didn't want to hurt his bandaged fingers. Just this morning, he'd read the report that affirmed the Colonel would make a complete recovery.
Jack continued through the crowd to the exit at the back. He was almost there when his eyes shifted through the remaining sea of people and met the gaze of a pair of baby blues just in front of the door.
He smiled and his sadness lifted. Well, he knew one thing that lay ahead.
What was left of SG-1 stood unmoving, barely aware of the activity around them. Then a voice.
"Sir, the Daedalus is reporting a transmission from the surface of the moon just before it exploded."
Jack's head lifted.
"What kind of transmission?" Pendergast asked.
Grant shook her head. "I'm not sure. We were closer to the moon than they were. The energy fluctuations were messing with our sensors." She looked back at the Colonel and pushed the earpiece tighter to her ear. "They're reporting a steady stream like a transporter." Her eyes widened. "It was directed at Prometheus."
Pendergast sat straighter. "Sound the alarm," he ordered. The bridge filled with red light as his orders were followed. "Scan all decks. Check the computer for any odd readings during the past five minutes."
Grant nodded. A few moments later she found what she was looking for. "There was an energy spike on deck twelve, sir. It's a storage room."
"Send a security team."
"Already on their way." She listened patiently for the team to report. Finally, her face lit with surprise. "They're there, sir. They've found Colonel Carter!"
Jack's head shot up. He felt Daniel's hand tighten on his arm.
"They say they've found Colonel Carter unconscious on the floor of the storage room."
Jack was barely aware his feet had started moving. His mind raced, his heart refusing to hope. It pounded inside his chest. His eyes stung.
How could she be?
But she was. He stopped dead in the doorway of the storage room the second his eyes fell on her form on the floor. He felt Daniel and Teal'c's presence behind him. There was a medic blocking his view. All he could see were military issue boots and green fatigues… and a mop of messy blonde hair.
He pushed past the guards at the door and knelt down next to the medic. Carter's eyes were open. They found him instantly and she smiled.
"She shot me, sir," she said, her voice tinged with pain. He drew his attention away from her face and looked to where the medic worked on her torso. Her jacket was undone and lay on the floor, her shirt ripped just below her rib cage. There was a lot of blood covering her left side. A neat bullet hole was nestled almost perpendicular to her belly button, away from anything vital. He saw her stomach muscles flinch as the medic cleaned the wound.
Jack knelt beside her, his mind kicked into gear at the sight of her blood. She was alive. She was here. How? "Who shot you?" he asked.
"Anise." She shook her head against the floor. "She must have come to right after I beamed you away. I put my gun down and stepped into the cryo-chamber." She shut her eyes tight against the pain and then opened them again. "She shot me. She took my place in the chamber."
Jack smiled and allowed himself to take her hand in his own. "She must have known you wouldn't stand aside willingly."
Her eyes met his and clouded. "I'm sorry."
He shook his head. "Never apologize for being you, Carter."
Jack let himself into his house and threw his keys down on the hall table along with the sling he refused to wear anymore. Not bothering with the lights, he stepped down the entryway stairs and into his empty living room. Well, not empty, but the boxes that lined the walls didn't count. The movers would be there in the morning to take everything to his new home in Washington.
His feet echoed on the floor as he walked up to the large paneled window and looked out over the rain slicked street. The streetlight cast his face in shadow.
Then he heard it. Footsteps. Coming down the hall from his bedroom. He looked up and saw her standing there at the top of the stairs. Lightning flashed outside, revealing her features for an instant. Soft. Full of wonder. And a little scared.
He was, too.
"You were late to the ceremony," he said.
She nodded. "I had a checkup in the infirmary."
She nodded again.
She still wore her dress blues, but she'd kicked off her heels and taken off her blazer.
He turned and took the stairs slowly. She stood silently and watched him approach.
He moved off the final step and into the entryway. Two more steps put him in front of her, so close he could feel the heat radiating from her body. She tilted her head and looked up at him. No words were necessary.
His hands shook as he reached out and brushed a stray hair from her forehead. She leaned her head into his caress and closed her eyes as he continued to trace her jaw line, her neck.
"Carter." The word caught in his throat. His hands moved to her shoulders and he pulled her closer.
He felt her arms reach around his waist.
He buried his face in the curve of her neck and inhaled her. "Sam."
Sam leaned away and opened her eyes to meet his. He was confused by the amusement he found there. "Sir?'
He cocked his eyebrows.
A smile spread across her lips. "Shut up and kiss me, Jack."
He felt a cocky smile spread across his face. He leaned in. His hands moved up to frame her face; his lips hovered just over hers.
And he did.
When they finally parted, their eyes met and locked. Her cheeks were flushed, her mouth red and soft.
Again, he was the first to speak. "And we're okay with that?" His words echoed the ones spoken all those years ago when they'd left their desires in that damned room, traded for the needs of others.
The corner of her mouth twitched and her eyes brightened. "It's a start." She tugged on his collar and he let himself be pulled back in for another kiss.
Daniel said the world turned on a dime. Jack thought maybe this turn was worth waiting for.
A/N: I left my notes for the end so I could say a proper thanks to everyone who stuck with me through this endeavor. It's the first full length story I've ever finished, and honestly, I wouldn't have done it if there weren't real people reading it and telling me they liked it. I thank you so much for the continued nudge. Sbz... you are amazing!
Please review... even/especially if you haven't reviewed it yet. I'd love to put some names to the numbers I've seen each time I posted a new chapter.
I'm a little sad it's over... what will I write now? Hmmmm....