the way things are
by not jenny

(You and Janet will be drunk, celebrating the end of the world, and you will suddenly realise that you should've done everything differently. You will realise it wouldn't have made any difference at all.)


There is a moment (think of it as the prologue- "two households, both alike in dignity"):

Jack is pacing. (He is always pacing.)

"I'm tellin' ya, there's something, I don't know, off about these guys."

"Sir?" He's been out of sorts ever since negotiations with the Aschen began; it's far easier to play good little major than to try to argue with him.

"I mean, how many advanced races have we encountered who've been all 'yeah, sure, here's all our technology, and, oh, by the way, need any help with that pesky Goa'uld problem of yours?'"


"That's right, zero. Abso-fucking-lutely zero." He's also been combative, argumentative, and verging on down-right hostile. "We've met plenty of the 'oh, you're too young' variety and a hell of a lot of the 'leave us the fuck alone' ones, but not a single race that was willing to give us any technology or science. Until now. So the question remains: what are these people after? And why is no one else asking it?"

You just shrug. You've had this conversation dozens of times before, and your answers are not the ones he's looking for. His answering smile is brittle, and you wonder, not for the first time, if the two of you will ever get past this.

His smile is broken, and you don't have all the answers.

"It's just, I don't know, I get the feeling that there's something too good to be good about these guys, and I think it's gonna come back and kick us all in the ass."

You don't have any of the answers (you never will, if you want to be honest). You tell him you left an experiment running in your lab and practically flee down the corridor. A tactical retreat, you tell yourself, and not a cowardly one. You never did like not having the right answer.

"Carter," he calls, but you don't turn back.

(The correct answer is, always will be, "no.")


You will practise it in your head: "Look, Joe, I get what you're saying here, I really do, it's just… I need some space, okay, so I'm going to spend the night over at Janet's. I'll see you tomorrow, though, right? It's important that I get that GDO, more important than any of the rest of this."

He will be in the bathroom, getting ready for bed. You will pace. Gesticulating as you mumble, "Look, Joe, the thing is…" He will brush his teeth, floss, and wash his face in the time it takes you to pack an overnight bag and sit on the edge of the bed.

"Joe," you will call out, "I think I'm going to spend the night over at Janet's."

"What? Sorry, honey, I couldn't quite hear you with the water running."

You will try again, "I was just saying that I think I'm going to head over to Janet's for the night. It's just, I need some space, Joe, to try to work things out in my head."

You will kiss him.

"I do love you, Joe," you will say, "It's just- I'll see you tomorrow."

(Fill in the blank: it's just- "complicated," "confusing," "I don't trust you anymore.")


It is spring, now, and the tulips you planted in front of your house are finally budding. The bursts of colour are a welcome change from the grey of the mountain.

Jack is standing in your driveway when you pull up. (Of course he is.)

Negotiations with the Aschen are going well; you've been promoted to Lt. Colonel. Life, at least professionally, is good. Better than good, actually. And if you and the Colonel ("call me Jack, Carter, I'm retired now") can no longer string together more than two words in conversation, well, you're well acquainted with loss.

You school your features into a neutral expression before taking off your helmet.

"What are you going here, Sir?" You are trying to smile; you think you may have even succeeded when he suddenly grins in response.

"Well, you know me Carter, always doing what's least expected."


"I was thinking pizza," he says, "you pick the toppings and I'll pay. I even brought some of that fancy beer you like."

You wonder why he's doing this, but the look on his face practically screams "c'mon, Carter, give a guy a break" so you agree. "Sounds good, Sir," you say, and you mean it.

You brush by him on your way to the front door. You really do try to ignore the frisson of electricity that runs through you.


(Janet will pour you a shot of vodka before you even put down your bag.)



"Yes, Sir."


(It will go down smooth, and you will pour yourself another. Janet will match you, drink for drink, and soon you will both be too drunk to care that the world is crumbling down around you.

"I just, I can't believe he knew, he fucking knew about all of this, and he didn't tell me. And then he has the audacity to compare this to my work at the SGC." You will be too angry to sit, so you will begin to pace Janet's living room. "'You lived almost your entire adult life in secrecy,' he said. As if there's any similarity!"

"Another shot?" Janet will ask, and you will begin to laugh. You will not cry again.


"Yup, that's about it in a nutshell.")


He looks at you like you're one of Daniel's artefacts. "I just don't get it, Carter," he says, head tilting. "How can you eat that crap?"


"Pineapple and tuna fish? That's just plain un-American."

You pass him another beer and take a long pull off your own. The Simpsons plays in the background; you glance at the television in time to catch Marge's hair falling out in large clumps. You can feel Jack watching you, and you try (and fail, stupid charming man) not to smile.

During the commercial break, you begin to wonder if maybe, just maybe, you can re-establish your friendship with him. You begin to fantasize about Avalanche games and backyard barbeques and fishing when it hits you. The look in his eyes when he glances your way, oh-so-casually asking about "that guy Daniel keeps mentioning, Jimbo or Johnny or something."

This will never be anything less than everything. More than nothing. This can never dwell in the space between extremes.



Janet will study you like a rare strain of pneumonia and ebola all rolled into one. You, in turn, will pour yourself a rather large tumbler of vodka mixed with some slightly flat seven-up you discovered in the back of her fridge. Her fingers closing around your wrist will feel like electric shocks.


The room will spin. Wildly and topsy-turvy and you will clutch the table for balance; you will blink (once, twice, three times) against the suddenly blinding kitchen lights.

There will be no words. You will stop trying to find them.)


He's watching you. You're studying the television like it's going to reveal the secrets behind quantum mechanics and string theory and eternal life, but you can't quite seem to ignore the feel of his eyes.

"Sam?" He's trying to be cute; you can always tell. You refuse to smile and focus your attention on a commercial for some breakfast cereal featuring a cartoon you've never even heard of, let alone seen. On the marshmallow characters. The bright faux-fruity colours.

"S-a-a-m," he sing-songs, "hey, Carter, anyone home?" And then he knocks on your head. You can feel the smile pulling at your mouth, breaking free; you really should know better, but you react instinctively.

"Oh, sir, this means war."

You reach for him.


(Morning will come too quickly and not nearly fast enough.)


You reach for him, and it's quite possibly the biggest mistake you've ever made.


(And it will be morning, and it will be a beautiful day to end the world.

In the moments before Janet's alarm begins blaring, you will recite as many decimal points of pi as you can before the pounding of your head distracts you. The pounding of your head, that is, and the subtle warmth of the woman next to you.

Janet will sleep more deeply than you would have imagined, given her medical training, and you will envy her those extra moments in dreamland. Then the alarm will go off, and your last day in existence will begin.

The sun will be shining, and you will wish for rain. )


And when he grabs your wrists to hold you down, you surprise yourself by leaning up and kissing him. The room contracts around the silence; you're holding your breath, afraid to make a sound. But then he kisses you back. And then, well, your hands are above your head and his tongue is in your mouth and everything turns deliciously white for a while.

And then you flip him, and you are on top, and everything is suddenly too much and not enough and, oh, he's hitting you in that spot, the one that makes you scream.

"Like. being. on. top. do. we?" he spits out. "Fuck."

Your nails dig into his flesh, and you are still fighting, still trying to push each other over the edge, when you bite into his neck.

"God," you say, "Joe."

"Sam," he answers, "Sam, Sam, Sam." And the world buzzes and hisses around you.


(And Joe will say, "I will not let you risk Sam's life," which will quite possibly be the worst thing he could say. But you will not punch him, no matter how much you will want to. (And you will really, really want to.) You will rein in your anger, and you will focus on the task ahead.

(You really will not punch him. You won't.)

And when Jack and Joe begin fighting over you like you're a (you will not think, "a piece of property," you really won't) choice cut of filet mignon, you will hold your tongue, except to say things like "you won't have backup." You will decidedly not say, "hey, boys, I'm right here, thank you very much, and since I could kick both your asses maybe you should just let me make my own decisions," no matter how good it would feel.

"Uh, the sun's beeping."

(You will remind yourself to thank Daniel, for interrupting their little pissing match. For stopping you from committing a double homicide.)

"We have a flare prediction. Fifty-seven minutes from now.")


When he smiles, you know it's goodbye.

You were expecting an explosion, a fight filled with irretractable insults and harsh words, and you are oddly disappointed by all this sudden civility. He just gives you a look, and you can feel the world spiralling out of control.

The living room smells like stale beer and pizza, and the television is still on. You hug him and he kisses your cheek; he doesn't say it, but you can tell he's disappointed in you.

(His eyes are saying, "don't say I didn't warn you." He is strangely quiet.)

He walks down your driveway, and he doesn't turn back.

Your house is suddenly the emptiest place in the universe.


(You will watch him die. (You will watch them all die.)

You will watch him die, and it will hurt as much as you always knew it would. But there will be a mission, and you will never lose your sense of duty. You will run. Your body on fire, burning, you will run and you will not look back.

For a moment, you will dare to hope.)


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Updates / Silverlake Remix