And All Should Be Well
by tahlia

i. What we call the beginning is often the end

After two weeks, Jack and Teal'c begin to disappear during the day. They always return, of course, time after time (though sometimes after the sun has set and the cooking fires are well burnt). Once, Jack had a gash across his forehead. He tells Carter that they're going fishing, but she never believed them.

Tonight, she is already half asleep when he returns. In the darkness, she hears him breathing heavily. He must have been running.


A hand reaches out, grasping her shoulder. She stops speaking. In the distance, she hears a foot patrol - is that what he was running from? The hand on her shoulder relaxes (but doesn't move) as the sounds of Jaffa eventually move away instead of closer.

There's the sound of a crackling fire from one of their neighbors. Slowly, her eyes adjust to the darkness. He is crouched down next to where they sleep, hand hovering just above his thigh, probably where his sidearm is. The sidearm that's supposed to be hidden in the tunnel underneath their tent. She hears him sigh, relieved.

Next door, she can hear Daniel and Katep speaking in long strands of Egyptian. Katep calls her "Colonel," probably because he thinks that's her name.

"What are you planning?" she asks quietly.

He's not surprised that she guesses, but Jack looks at her and says nothing. She had a problem with the small amounts of English that Katep was picking up. He knows what she's going to say. But during the day, he doesn't know that she scribbles equations and formulas on small pieces of papyrus because it gives her something to do, and then hides them in between the layers of their sleeping mats.

So she says nothing, too. They're both guilty.


It's been almost three months. A rebellion takes time, and Jack is restless.

She dreams about how it will end - the four of them, in the middle of the desert, surrounded by Jaffa. They have no Tok'ra allies. Once, she dreams about living in the house that Pete bought.

The day doesn't go well. Their meeting with sympathizers within the Jaffa ranks never happens; or, rather, they show up, but the Jaffa do not. They are all trying not to panic. At dusk, they strategize around their cooking fire instead of eating. Katep nods, understanding half of what Daniel says and nothing that Jack does.

When the others are gone, they make no small talk. Jack leans over to kiss her, right there, still sitting outside by the fire. It's long and slow and his lips taste salty. There's a frightening sort of finality to his kiss, finality Carter doesn't even want to consider, so she takes his hand and asks him to come inside.

Jack unties the flap to their tent, letting it fall and blocking out the light from the fire, and then he's kissing her again - more eager this time, more tongue, with his hands tangled in her hair. This is the only part about Egypt that feels right. This feels like home. And she thinks, maybe, just maybe, she might be pregnant; it's possible, but she pushes the thought out of her mind to make way for other things. Like, oh, God, she needs this right now.

The sheet covering their sleeping mat has slipped off her side, so her back is pressed into the rough woven material. Carter tries to find the more comfortable spot, but then his hands are pushing apart her thighs and first his fingers and then his tongue are inside her, and she forgets about even the harsh straw piercing her shoulder blades. Her back arches; a hand lands on the back of his neck, and moves into his hair. She tries to keep quiet, but it's next to impossible.

He kisses her stomach just below her belly button and the skin between her breasts; he kisses the hollow of her throat, and then he moves inside her, slow and long. She senses that familiar note of finality, and with her hand still in his hair, she captures his mouth and pushes her tongue inside. He thrusts harder and she knows that he can probably feel the humming moan she's making now.

Exactly right. There's an "oh, God--" breathed close to her ear, and she bites down on her lip as she feels her muscles tightening. She feels her vocal cords vibrating, but her ears are so full of buzzing that she doesn't know if she ever makes a sound.

He is still above her, still inside her, and he dips his head low enough to kiss her softly. She keeps her lips pressed against his until she eventually has to breathe again. Jack moves out of her and onto his back next to her. She moves closer to him, legs tangled with one another, and she snakes her arm around his waist. She is still catching her breath.

As they drift into sleep, she has to remind herself that this isn't the end of everything.


The sun is high.

Daniel asks Jack where he put the weapons that Teal'c smuggled out of Ra's place three days ago. Jack points to the tunnel entrance, under a few layers of rug.

But Daniel is down there only a minute when they hear brisk voices outside. A Jaffa patrol, though one is not due through town for until sundown. Jack kicks the door shut with his foot and hastily pushes the rugs over it without so much as a warning to Daniel. Oh, he's going to hear about that for a while - never mind that he's probably saving their lives by not broadcasting the fact that they've got stolen weapons in their home.

Jaffa stop outside their tent. Jack smiles and waves, but their visitors aren't leaving.

He figures, he'll apologize to him later.


ii. And to make an end is to make a beginning.

Cassie has General Hammond's home number tucked in her address book. It's written on the back of an official military business card; he personally slipped it into her hand at her mother's wake. She waits until her roommate leaves for her Biology lecture to call.

She tries to sound composed. Her fingernails make small, half-circle indentations on the card. Hammond calls her Cassandra, which her mother only ever did when she was angry, but he says it like a grandfather would. She barely remembers her grandfather, her real one. The General seems pleased to hear from her, but she can hear the concern in his voice, too. This number was for emergencies.

All her delicate introductions fail her. "I can't get a hold of Sam, sir."

He says nothing at first, and she supposes that he's smiling patiently and trying to find the best way to explain that she's probably just off-world and running late. But then his voice is different: official, distant. The lump in her throat multiplies by hundred.

She stops listening after he says 'missing.'


There's a small service at the base. Hammond gives a speech about remembrance.

In Sam's lab, Cassie finds some blue prints that she doesn't recognize and her laptop. There's a picture, too, of her and her father, both in dress blues. Cassie picks it up and puts it down again, careful to not make the desk seem disturbed.

"You're not supposed to be down here."

She looks up. Hammond is standing in the doorway to the lab, hands behind his back. She can't read his expression.

She sits in Sam's chair. Cassie feels seven years old again. She wants to be angry; she wants to be upset and she wants to yell and scream and demand a better explanation. She wants to know where the hell they even got a time machine. She wants to know where she's supposed to live in the summer, and who's supposed to take care about Sam's things.

"It feels like she's still here." It's hard to believe that she isn't, that they've all disappeared somewhere into the time-space continuum. But they have, and it's not supposed to make any sense. "I mean, I suppose she is, sort of, I guess-- how does that work again?"

"I really don't know," he replies.

Cassie sighs. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she knows that this mission was Sam's idea. "But they could show up tomorrow." She says it, but she only half believes it.

"I suppose," Hammond says, "but General O'Neill's orders were clear."

She spins absently in the chair. "'General O'Neill.' That still sounds funny." It's small talk; they both know it. Hammond only smiles politely. In that moment, she wishes her mother were here.

Slowly, General Hammond slides a manila file across the desk to her, one he's been hiding behind his back the entire time. She recognizes the cover; she recognizes the word 'classified.' She straightens her posture. "What's this?"

"Colonel Carter wanted to be the one to tell you."

She reaches for it at first, but her fingers stop short of opening it. "General, I don't have clearance."

"You do now."

Cautiously she reaches for the file, which she notices was filed by Sam. She flips through the pages, all eleven of them, skimming the paragraphs. 'Solar flares' pops out at her several times. "I don't understand, what--"

"Seven years ago, you saved Colonel Carter and the rest of SG-1."

"I... don't think I did. Sir."

"That's because it won't happen for another fifty-three years."

Cassie looks down at the page she's opened to. She reads it three times. Hammond stands across from her, patient as ever. Her face changes several times, finally deciding on sadness. "Why? I mean, what's the point? So seven years later, they can disappear? Maybe it won't happen, maybe--" Maybe her mother won't die.

Hammond puts his hand over hers. It's oddly comforting, coming from a man she hardly knows at all. "You'll do it because you should."

She almost believes that's true.


iii. The end is where we start from.

Daniel keeps glancing at her like she's supposed to speak up for him or something. But Sam doesn't even know what he's talking about, much less how she's supposed to contribute, and even if she did know, it's hard to follow a line of logic when the argument keep descending into random exchanges of Egyptian. Finally, Katep looks warily at Teal'c and rushes out of their tent in a huff.

Jack raises his eyebrows. "That... didn't go well. I think."

"I do not believe Katep trusts you," Teal'c tells Daniel.

"He trusts me," Daniel replies immediately. Almost defensively. "It's just hard for him to accept, after everything he's been through."

Jack shoots Sam a look, and then clasps his hands behind his head and replies, "Yeah, that's it." But Daniel isn't paying attention and is oblivious to the small grin on both their faces, or else he just doesn't care, because he ignores them.

A large bonfire is burning near the burial site of the Stargate. There are drums and some men playing flutes; there is dancing and laughter, and there is something vaguely alcoholic being brought from the village in large jugs. Sam tasted it earlier, and it's still burning in the back of her throat. Jack doesn't seem to mind.

Between two wooden pillars lays the large stone that the Egyptians unearthed from the sand. Daniel says it pre-dates even the Goa'uld being in Egypt, but Sam's not sure how he can know that. It's covered in garlands and small candles. On the first lap around the gathering, Sam sees that the symbols have already been drawn in its center - Katep relented. Teal'c is standing guard, the least he can do to show these people that he is their friend, and he nods at her and Jack when they pass. (Later, she watches as a young woman places a garland of orange floors on his head. He seems equal parts grateful and perplexed.)

Eventually, they settle into the sand at the far end of the celebration. Sam leans her head on Jack's shoulder, and Jack swallows another cup of whatever that stuff is.

"Tell me the one about us being married again," he says.

She smiles. Jack seems fascinated by only certain parts of Daniel's stories. "Which one, exactly?"

"The one with that mirror... thing."

"The quantum mirror?"

"That's it."

"It's both of them, actually."

"Carter!" She smiles again. He usually only calls her that right before-- Sam sits up slightly, and he kisses her just enough for her to taste the last bits of what he's drinking still on his lips. He kisses her again quickly, and then slides one arm around her shoulders and pulls her close again.

They are looking upwards to the sky. The stars are brighter here, and it seems like there are a thousand times more. She thinks her father might have liked this, if he were alive and here in Egypt, five thousand years in the past.

"Orion," Jack says softly, and his hand points vaguely to his left and at the constellation. She finds it, too, and for the first time, it is something familiar in her world.

"Why do you live on a boat?" she asks suddenly, adding, "'Lived,' I guess, would be the appropriate thing, actually."

Jack doesn't answer for a moment. "Because."

"That's not actually an answer."

"It is, too."

She twists her neck so she can see his face. He's staring off into the distance. "Didn't you have a house?"

He blinks, staring into his empty cup, no doubt contemplating the jug that he thinks she didn't notice that he brought along. "Yeah. Once."

"But you live on a boat."

"Lived on a boat."


Jack fills his cup again. "So, what? I used to have a house, and then I lived on a boat. End of story." He passes the jug. "Want some?"

Sam refuses. "What happened to your house?"

He shakes his head. "Didn't want it anymore."


He turns to her like he's going to say one thing, but stops himself. "Because."

Sam bows her head, and that's when she notices that Jack's arm around her shoulder has now become a hand running up and down the side of her. She sees what he's doing, how he's trying to distract her. It only makes her more suspicious, more determined, but she's also keenly aware of that feeling growing in her stomach. God damn him.

There are small torches stuck in the sand to guide them back to the village. Jack kisses her outside under the stars and in front of the sleeping tents, his tongue sweeping into her mouth and tasting exactly like that the jug that's banging into her thigh. A hand slides around her waist, and lower, and she has to slap it back to remind him that they're standing within an earshot of Daniel's tent. Sam pushes him inside their tent.

A week ago, she had a job that she hated and enough credit card debt to spend an entire lifetime paying off. She had a crappy little apartment, and not many friends. There was no military or Stargate or aliens or time travel, and there definitely was not someone named Jack O'Neill, (slightly) drunk, with which to make out and grope as if they were teenagers.

This is a beginning.


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