Janet Fraiser stepped through the Abydos gate and hugged her adopted daughter, Cassie, fiercely.
'Mom.' Cassie pulled back. Her eyes searched her mother's intently. 'Did they…are they going through with it?'
Janet nodded unable to speak around the lump in her throat.
'Then time will cease as Daniel told us yesterday?' Skaara drew Janet's attention and she gave an apologetic smile.
'Teal'c was going to dial Earth as soon as my trip was done.' Janet said thickly. She looked back at the Stargate as though she could see through to Earth; to what was happening there. 'If they're successful…'
Skaara reached into his robes and withdrew a framed photo. He handed it to Cassie. 'Daniel told me to give this to you.' He bowed slightly as Cassie took it.
She gazed at the photo of SG1, General Hammond, her mother and herself taken at a barbeque ten years before. She gripped the silver frame tightly. 'I gave all of them copies as a gift to celebrate the ten year anniversary.' She murmured.
'If you will excuse me, I must inform my Father.' Skaara said gently.
Janet smiled sadly. He would want to be with his family. 'Thank you, Skaara.'
The Abydonian bowed and left.
Janet sank down onto the steps and Cassie followed her. Janet's arm was around her shoulders, holding her.
'I'm scared, Mom.' Cassie whispered as she looked at her mother.
'I know, baby.' Janet smoothed a wisp of curly brown hair to one side.
'What if in the new timeline we can't fix me?' Cassie looked down at the picture. She'd been so ill as a teenager due to Niirti's manipulations; they had almost found out too late and it had been the Aschen who had healed her.
'I will find a way. I promise you.' Janet kissed the top of her head and held on. She gave a nervous laugh. 'They might not be successful.'
'They will be.' Cassie said, clutching the photo to her tightly.
'You still believe they can do anything.' Janet sighed.
Cassie smiled at her. 'They're SG1.' She curled up in her mother's arms and closed her eyes…waited…
Drey'auc knew she had scared Rya'c's wife turning up and demanding to see her grandchild. She held the young boy tightly; his dark face scrunched up in an innocent sleep. Her breath caught in her throat. He was perfect…so perfect…
Would he even exist in this new timeline Teal'c talked about? Would she reconcile again with Teal'c? Would the Jaffa be free?
Teal'c had been resolute: the Aschen had lied. They were the same as the Goa'uld. All they wanted was the galaxy.
Drey'auc had argued with her husband. Let them destroy the Tau'ri! She had yelled. The Jaffa were fine…they were fine…
'We are dying.'
Teal'c's words echoed in her head. Most of the Goa'uld and the Tok'ra were dead; symbiotes were few. The Aschen had promised to look into their predicament but if they did not find a solution to the dependence on the symbiotes the Jaffa would die out as surely as the Tau'ri. They had already had six years. Teal'c had wondered whether the lack of answer from the Aschen, with all their advanced medical expertise, was because they did not want to give one.
If the Tau'ri were eliminated; if the Jaffa were eliminated; the galaxy belonged to the Aschen.
Drey'auc had still begged him; why did he have to go? He owed them nothing…
'They are my family.'
'We are your family.'
Teal'c had looked at her with sadness. 'If I do not return and time moves on without me, I will most likely be dead. You will need to look after our son; our grandchild.'
'As I have always.' Drey'auc had cried.
He had kissed her. And then he had left.
Tears ran down her face unheeded.
'Teal'c.' She murmured. Her eyes closed. She felt so cold…
Joseph Faxon was screaming as his wife's body hit the ground; he was barely aware that the automated weapons suddenly stopped and the sirens fell silent.
The blue horizon rippled as the note passed through it.
Joe ignored the ripples as they travelled in a circle from the middle of the wormhole out to the Stargate as he half-ran, half-stumbled up the steps. He pulled Samantha Carter's body into his arms and rocked it, tears streaming down his face.
'No, no, no.' He begged the universe.
His gaze fell on the man lying a foot away; Jack O'Neill. He had done this; killed Sam and the rest of the old SG1 team in a crazy scheme to save Earth from the Aschen…it was his fault…but it wasn't; it was Joe's.
He had sold them out to the Aschen just like she had accused him the night before. She had been so furious with him. How could he have agreed to the secret sterilization of the world's population? It didn't matter what the percentage, Joe realised, too many years too late. It had been wrong. Full stop. Sam's eyes had been filled with her anger and sense of betrayal. She had believed in the Aschen; in him.
And he knew deep down that his decision had also cost her on a personal level, deeper and sharper than he had even been able to imagine. He had wanted her so badly; loved her so badly. He had lied when he had told her he didn't know of anything to support O'Neill's suspicions. Oh, he had been under confidentiality but that hadn't been the reason. She knew it; he knew it. She had slept in the spare room the night before, unable to look at him and had left before he had woken. He suspected she had gone to O'Neill. Joe had hoped getting the GDO, helping her, would show her she had been right about him after all; that he was one of the good guys. He figured he could get her away, make a new start. But she had never had any intention of leaving SG1 without back-up, he realised thinking back of her unusual acquiescence at the lab, the look she and O'Neill had exchanged. She had waited until Joe had handed over the GDO – played along with him. O'Neill had known.
'Carter doesn't belong to anyone but Carter.' The Colonel had told him once. Sam made her own decisions.
The wormhole winked out behind him as he remained on the steps holding Sam tightly. His eyes looked around the terminal; at Teal'c's sprawled body; Daniel Jackson's; back to Jack's. He'd never truly been able to compete against her bond with SG1; Joe had known that on some level. Sam had loved him but she had loved Jack and SG1 more…in the end she had chosen him; them. Run back to them…
Joe buried his face in Sam's hair. He loved her so much. She had said they would cease to exist. Perhaps it had failed; perhaps the note had disintegrated against the iris; perhaps they hadn't believed it, he considered wildly. He wanted what she had promised; he wanted to die with her but he was still alive…still breathing and he didn't want to be…
A thin, eerie voice echoed through the Stargate; Hammond ordering the coordinates of the Aschen homeworld locked from the dialling computer. Joe shivered. He had to have imagined it; he couldn't have really heard that, could he? Had he really heard…
Time reversed itself.
The commissary was packed with people. Jack frowned heavily at the queue and rocked back and forth impatiently as he waited for it to move forward. His companions were unusually quiet. Sam stood in front of him. Her face was contemplative as though she was calculating something of importance. Behind him, Daniel wore a variation of the same look. Even Teal'c bringing up the rear had a look that telegraphed his mind was occupied.
Jack couldn't blame them. The last ten minutes had been odd even for them. A note from the future? He shook his head. He absently chose the least offensive looking meal option. He sneaked a look at Carter's tray and picked up a bowl of red jello to complement the blue that she had chosen. They headed for the only empty table – Teal'c shooting a look to a civilian scientist who might have chosen to sit there and who hurriedly chose another. They slid into the chairs; Jack opposite Sam; Daniel next to him; Teal'c next to Sam. They began to eat.
'OK,' Jack said breaking the silence, 'I know this is weird but can we all stop obsessing about it?'
The others looked at him startled.
He waved his knife at them. 'You're all thinking about that note.' It was part accusation; part statement.
'You have to admit, Jack, it's not your every day event receiving a note from your future self.' Daniel said apologetically.
Jack sighed and gave in to the inevitable discussion. 'I guess not.' It had been more than a little disconcerting if he had been honest especially given the blood that had been smeared over the note.
'I mean, something catastrophic must have happened in us going to P4C970 for you to have sent it.' Daniel continued.
'How'd you figure that?' Jack asked, forking up some of the stew and staring it at with suspicion.
Daniel nudged his glasses up his nose and took a sip of his water before replying. 'Well, you remember after that time loop thing when Sam told us we would never be able to use the time machine even if it did work? Because if you changed one thing then where would you stop?'
'I remember.' Jack nodded and shoved the fork in his mouth. He grimaced at the taste.
'So it had to be bad for you to even think about changing time.' Daniel surmised. 'Which is a little scary, I mean, what could possibly be so bad that you would?'
'Apart from this food?' Jack commented dryly.
'Earth being totally destroyed.' Sam answered automatically.
They all stared at her.
'What?' She asked defensively. 'We've all thought it.'
'Yeah.' Jack agreed. It was the only scenario that he could think would drive him to such desperation.
Daniel shook his head. 'I still can't believe you did it though. I mean what gives you the right to change time for everyone?'
'Carter just told you, Daniel.' Jack said caustically. 'Earth being totally destroyed sounds like a good enough reason to me.'
Sam hid a smile by taking a sip of her drink.
'I just don't understand why I couldn't have included more information.' Jack grumbled. He raised his glass of juice. 'Like who wins the Superbowl or the World Series.'
'You were probably trying to limit the causality violation, sir.' Sam commented.
'I wonder whose idea that was.' Jack said, his brown eyes landing warmly on her.
'You think we were all involved?' Daniel asked interested.
Jack shrugged. 'I can't see me coming up with such an insane idea myself or making it work on my own.' He shifted. 'If that blood is anything to go by it wasn't an easy mission to complete. I would have needed back-up.'
'I do not understand.' Teal'c stated, a faint frown creasing his smooth dark features. 'If O'Neill sent a note from the future warning us not to go to this planet, and we do not, then has not the future in which the note was sent ceased to exist?'
Sam nodded. 'That's right.'
'Then how is it possible to receive a note from a future which no longer exists?' Teal'c asked perplexed.
Sam brightened. 'There is a theory that in temporal physics effect can precede cause.'
'Oh here we go,' muttered Jack, reaching for his juice.
Sam shot him a look.
'Like our visit to nineteen-sixty-nine?' Daniel chipped in.
'Exactly.' Sam agreed, pushing her food around her plate. 'In that case, an event in the future caused an effect in the past that allowed that very future to exist.'
'OK,' Daniel said, 'but how does that apply in this case?' He gestured with his fork and the large piece of broccoli he had speared. 'Sending the note destroys that future presumably.' He blinked as another thought occurred to him. 'Hopefully.'
Jack took another bite of his meal; maybe if he just ignored them…
'The principle is the same; an event in the future causes an effect in the past leading to the right timeline.' Sam said firmly.
'But that future no longer exists now.' Daniel leaned over his plate; his shirt was dangerously close to the gravy. 'So how could it continue to effect the past?'
'I am in agreement with Daniel Jackson.' Teal'c said. 'If the future no longer exists, Colonel O'Neill has not sent the note, therefore we should not have received it and the future should exist as it did.'
Jack stared at the Jaffa. 'But we did receive the note.'
'It's what's called a temporal paradox, Teal'c.' Sam explained enthusiastically.
'Like the Grandfather paradox.' Daniel realised out loud. He saw Teal'c's confusion. 'If I travel back in time and kill my grandfather…'
'For what reason would you wish to kill Nicholas Ballard?' Teal'c asked.
Daniel smiled. 'I was just using myself as an example. You see, if I kill my grandfather back in the past, my mother would not have been born, so I wouldn't have been born. If I'm never born, I never travel back in time to kill my grandfather, so my mother is born…'
'Ah, ah, ah!' Jack waved his cutlery at the archaeologist, sending smatters of stew across the table. 'We get it.'
Daniel wiped the front of his shirt pointedly.
'There are different theories regarding time-travel.' Sam said hurriedly. 'One quantum theory avoids the paradoxes by suggesting that an individual can only time-travel to similar focal points within alternative universes. As the individual only ever effects time in the alternate universe, they don't create a paradox.'
'Isn't that just universe travelling though?' Daniel queried with a frown. His meal lay forgotten in front of him. Jack pushed the plate toward the archaeologist to remind him to eat.
'It is.' Sam said with a nod. 'A refinement of that theory suggests that the time traveller does travel to a point within their own universe initially but that they create an alternate universe when they actually interact with the timeline.'
'OK, but doesn't this whole quantum thing suggest an event in the future cannot effect the past?' Daniel asked around a mouthful of food.
'What do you mean, Daniel Jackson?' Teal'c asked. He had already finished with his main course and had moved onto a sandwich.
Jack sighed and abandoned the stew. He dived into the red jello with relish.
'Well,' Daniel said, 'only that if say we travelled to nineteen-sixty-nine and created a different universe, that would explain why things evolved in our new universe to enable the future which sent us back to the past but it wouldn't explain how in the original universe that future evolved as we never travelled back in time in that universe so General Hammond never saw the note…' his voice trailed away at Jack's glare.
Sam smiled at Daniel. 'The quantum theory presupposes that there are parallel universes which are exactly the same and effectively time travel is only possible between these similar universes.'
'So an SG1 from a different universe travelled to our universe and we travelled to their universe? Creating the exact same events in each universe?' Daniel rubbed his head as though it ached. 'But aren't the odds of two universes turning out exactly the same at every inch in history, I don't know…'
'Astronomical?' Jack suggested sarcastically.
Sam bit her lip to suppress the smile that threatened at his disgusted expression. 'I prefer the linear time travel theory myself.' She reached for her blue jello and gestured with the glass at Teal'c's inquiring expression. 'It suggests time unlike universes is linear.'
'But then you end up with the paradoxes.' Daniel pointed out.
'Not necessarily.' Sam shrugged. 'You just have to accept that time itself doesn't allow the paradox and that there's some kind of temporal record which allows an effect from an event that did happen in one timeline to travel into another.'
Three blank faces stared back at her.
She sighed. 'Think of time as being a tape recording. So, you make one recording first but then something happens…'
'You send a note to yourself.' Jack supplied eliciting a quick smile from her.
'And you start to rerecord over the original recording but it still exists on the tape; you still made that recording even though once you record over it, you can't hear it anymore.' Sam scraped more jello from the sides of the glass.
'I believe I now understand.' Teal'c declared as he reached for his bowl of fruit.
'I'm glad somebody does.' Jack said with exasperation. He finished his jello and reached for the rest of his juice.
Sam took pity on him. 'Are you guys still good to come house-hunting with me this weekend?'
'Indeed.' Teal'c inclined his head. 'I am looking forward to helping you secure a new home, Major Carter.'
'Have you decided on what type of house you want?' Daniel asked.
Sam nodded. 'I have some details from the real estate agent. There are a few I really like.'
'How many is a few?' Jack asked suspiciously.
'Three, sir.' Sam answered. She set aside her jello bowl. 'If you've changed your mind about coming along, sir, I understand.'
'Not at all, Carter.' Jack said smoothly. 'I was just calculating how many snacks to bring.'
'Snacks?' Daniel questioned delicately. He looked at Jack with raised eyebrows.
'What? You can't house hunt without snacks.' Jack said defensively. He sighed in exaggerated sufferance as they all looked at him with varying levels of indulgence. At least they weren't talking about the note any longer.
The third house was set on a quiet residential street. It was chocolate box perfection with neatly painted frontages and well-kept lawns. It was a little conventional but there was a nice park across the street; it was close to all-night grocery and her gym was only a short drive away. Sam ticked off the good points in her head as she exited the Colonel's truck.
'Nice.' Jack commented.
She glanced at him and almost smiled. He was assessing the neighbourhood as though it was a battlefield.
'I approve of this neighbourhood, Major Carter.' Teal'c added as he climbed out and stood beside her.
'It does look better than the others.' Daniel commented adjusting his sun-glasses.
'Game faces, people.' Jack cautioned as Shannon Henty, the real estate agent, hurried over from her convertible.
Sam hid a smile and suppressed the urge to hit the woman in the same breath. Henty was gorgeous – a stylish forty-something year old with perfect red hair and a winsome smile. She was bright, sparky and nice. Sam had liked her when she had stepped into the real estate office the previous week but she had grown more and more irritated with the older woman as the day had gone on. It had nothing, nothing, to do with how Henty had zeroed in on Jack since the first house and made it plain that she wouldn't be averse to doing more than just business with him, Sam assured herself grimly.
Henty's smile faltered as she took in Sam's face. 'Well,' she said brightly, 'shall we take a look inside?' She hurried up the path.
'Excellent game face, Carter.' Jack whispered as they started up after her.
Sure, Sam mused wryly, all she had to do was feel a little jealousy and she could pretend she hated anything.
Henty waved them through into the hallway. Sam stepped inside and fell in love. The hallway had a series of interconnecting rooms to the left ending in a large kitchen-den. The fireplace was huge. She could already see a fire burning in a cold evening and a glass of wine. She would need a new sofa, she decided abruptly. Something big and cushiony; perfect for curling up in or snuggling…
Jack cleared his throat next to her. 'Game face, Carter. Remember your game face.'
'I can see that you like it.' Henty said, stepping closer to them.
Sam's eyes dropped to Henty's hand on Jack's arm. She looked back up at the real estate agent coolly. 'It's OK.'
'Why don't you take a look around, Major Carter?' Henty kept her smile in place. 'Colonel, perhaps you'd like to take a look at the back yard?'
'Sure.' Jack gestured for Henty to lead the way. He winked at Sam.
Sam turned on her heel and stormed out, taking a left turn into the rest of the house. The first room was a spare bedroom; the second a bathroom. The master was a beautiful room overlooking the back yard with a small en-suite. Sam looked out of the window and scowled at the sight of Jack laughing with Henty in the middle of the lawn. She took a step back from the window.
Jack was definitely flirting. Maybe he was really interested. Her stomach cramped painfully. Sam rubbed her nose. She had to get a hold of herself. She had no right to feel jealous about Jack seeing another woman. He was his own man. They weren't involved romantically, he wasn't betraying her. Sure they had admitted to feeling feelings but when it all boiled down to it, all they had was the promise of some vague day in the future if she was single, and he was single, and there wasn't a chain of command.
Of course that day had already come and gone.
Sam sighed and sat down on the bed. For a brief time when General Bauer had been in charge of the SGC the conditions had been met.
She had been single.
He had been single.
They had been out of each others' chain of command.
He hadn't asked her out on a date.
Sam frowned. She hadn't thought it bothered her. Hammond's retirement and Bauer's appointment hadn't felt right to any of them especially when SG1 had been disbanded without a single thought. She knew Jack had been focused on finding out the truth; on getting Hammond reinstated. She doubted he had even realised the personal opportunity that had arisen. In truth, she had barely been aware of it herself with everything that had been going on with the bomb test.
It definitely underscored her belief that the mission came first for Jack – as it should for her, she admonished herself. Sam sighed. Maybe his feelings had changed too, Sam mused sadly. They'd both withdrawn after the whole Jonah-Thera thing. If Jack wanted to date other people, she had no right to stop him or be jealous. She could handle him dating someone else like an adult.
She sighed at the thought and as though to underscore her decision, she got to her feet to check out the en-suite.
'Sam!' Daniel's shout had her hurrying into the hall.
The archaeologist pulled her down a short flight of stairs and into a basement. 'Isn't this great?
Sam looked around and shrugged. A basement was a basement. Daniel led her down a corridor and into a small room.
'This would make an excellent recreation area.' Teal'c commented. 'Or perhaps a personal gymnasium.'
'It's a little small.' Sam said.
Daniel rolled his eyes. 'It's big enough. You're not exactly going to be building a Stargate down here.'
Her lips lifted briefly. 'True.'
Sam gave a huffy sigh and walked back up to the hallway. 'Ms Henty.' She managed a polite smile and tried to ignore the way the older woman was standing so close to Jack.
'So what do you think?' Henty said. 'It's a beautiful home.'
'It has potential.' Sam allowed.
'Perhaps you could excuse us, Shannon, while we talk in private.' Jack said smoothly. Sam found herself hustled back to the basement before she could say a word.
'Carter, Henty's told me that there are three other people looking at this place today.' Jack informed her briskly. 'None of them has the ready cash to put down a deposit and bond. If you want it, you're in but you should move fast.'
Sam blinked at him. He'd been flirting to get her intel? Was that possible? It was like him, she considered. He could be really sweet sometimes. Sweet and devious.
'Carter?' Jack said impatiently.
'Sorry, sir.' Sam said slowly. 'I was just considering my options.'
'I think this place is great.' Daniel offered. 'There's that room just off to the left by the front door that will be perfect for a study.'
'As I have said, this room will suffice as a gymnasium.' Teal'c said firmly.
'And the outside is great.' Jack added, gesturing at her with his beanie hat. 'Trust me. Easy to maintain. Nice size if you want to have a party. Shed out the back for the bike.' His brown eyes smiled warmly at her. 'And besides all that, you love this house.'
She mock glared at him. 'OK, OK.' She admitted when he simply looked back at her knowingly. 'I love this house.'
'Then let's go get it for you, Carter.' Jack declared.
Sam nodded. She looked around at the basement as the guys filed out. It could work as workroom for some personal projects, she considered happily. With some tinkering. Her heart filled with a flood of warmth. She really did love the house. If only she didn't love Jack too…
Jack knocked sharply on Sam's lab door and walked in without waiting for an invitation. 'You get everything sorted with the house?'
Sam turned from her central workbench and the alien artefact in front of her. 'Yes, sir. Paperwork is all going through.' She smiled at him. 'Thank you for helping.'
'No problem.' Jack shrugged off her gratitude. It hadn't been a big deal to help her view houses. In fact, from his perspective it had been very worthwhile just to see her reaction to his meaningless flirting with Shannon Henty. He had begun to worry Sam had started to feel differently about him she had been so professional since his almost death in the X301 glider but her small show of jealousy was a good sign she still felt something.
He wrestled with his conscience. If he was bigger man, he should want her to move on from him, find someone else less complicated and without his baggage. She deserved better than him. He had at least resisted the temptation to date her during the whole fiasco with Bauer, he congratulated himself. Of course if Hammond hadn't been blackmailed out of his position, if it had all been for real and they had truly been out of each others' COC, they could have been looking for a house together. It was a sobering thought.
'Sir?' Sam looked at him curiously.
He cleared his throat self-consciously as he realised he had been standing there silently. He waved a hand at the door. 'Fraiser's called a briefing. Something to do with the note thing?'
'Oh.' Sam walked out with him and they headed for the elevator.
Jack took in her preoccupation with a smile. 'Earth to Carter.' He waved a hand in front of her face.
She coloured prettily. 'Sorry, sir, I guess I'm a little distracted.'
'The changing the timeline stuff ?' Jack hazarded a guess as he leaned against the wall of the elevator and crossed his arms.
She nodded. 'I just can't help…'
'Wondering.' They said it unison. They smiled at each other.
'Yes, sir.' Sam agreed. She looked down at the floor. 'Actually, I was thinking it is kind of great knowing that whatever else happened we were all still there for each other in the future.'
'I can't imagine a future when we wouldn't be.' Jack said lightly as he tapped the wall. His warm brown eyes caught hers.
The doors opened but neither of them moved. They stood smiling at each other until the doors started to close. Jack caught the door and exchanged a rueful look with Sam as they realised belatedly they should exit.
Janet straightened the folder in front of her and rapped it gently on the polished wooden surface of the briefing room table as Jack and Sam took their seats opposite.
'So what am I looking at here?' Jack asked impatiently, flipping open the file in front of him and staring blankly at the report within.
Sam began leafing through her copy. Daniel, sitting next to Janet was reading through his; Teal'c hadn't bothered to open the folder.
'The forensic results of the note that came through the wormhole.' Janet said briskly. She cleared her throat and turned to Hammond. 'Handwriting analysis confirms that it is Colonel O'Neill's and his signature is a match to that on record.'
'I told you that.' Jack pointed out.
'And now we know for certain.' Hammond retorted. His pale blue eyes shot a gentle warning to the Colonel.
'Sorry, sir.' Jack waved at Janet to continue.
'It's really the rest of the report where it gets interesting.' Janet paused and looked at Jack expecting some quip. She wasn't the only one.
Jack looked back at her. 'What?' He asked bemused.
Janet sighed. 'I'll begin with the blood on the note. It was also a DNA match to the Colonel. The analysis also indicated it was fresh blood.'
'So, the Colonel was injured when he sent the note through the wormhole.' Sam surmised.
'He was definitely injured in some way but we have no way of knowing if it was a bad cut or a fatal blow.' Janet theorised. 'The volume on the paper suggests the former but it could just as easily be the latter. It's inconclusive.'
'Sweet.' Jack muttered clearly unhappy that he might have died.
'It wouldn't matter if you did die, sir.' Sam murmured absently.
They all stared at her.
'I only meant that as that timeline would cease to exist as soon as the note was sent then it…'
'Wouldn't have mattered if it was my dying act.' Jack finished for her.
Sam nodded. 'Yes, sir.'
'We also found fingerprints on the note. Obviously, several of us touched it in the gate room but I also found Major Carter's fingerprints present.'
'Didn't she touch it with the rest of us?' Daniel asked frowning, trying to remember back to the previous week.
'No.' Janet shook her head. 'I checked with the video footage of the gate room. Major Carter didn't touch the note.'
'So I touched the note at some point before it was sent.' Sam's eyes caught Jack's
He smirked. 'I told ya. There's no way I would be able to pull that kind of thing off on my own.'
'The really interesting analysis is with the note and ink though.' Daniel said, reading from his report. 'This is fascinating. The paper has elements we can't identify?'
Janet nodded excitedly. 'Most of it is paper as we know it but the fibres have been welded to something else; some element that we presumably haven't invented yet. However, testing of the paper suggests it is six years old.'
'So the note is from six years in the future?' Jack asked.
'Uh, no.' Daniel gestured at Jack. 'The paper was six years old when it was sent. It didn't magically age six years passing back through the wormhole.' His brow creased and his blue eyes shot to Sam. 'I mean, it can't do that, right?'
Sam pulled a face. 'Not according to what we know of wormhole physics, no.'
'OK, so the paper is six years old.' Jack waved his report notes. 'I'm not seeing the significance.'
'I also do not see the significance.' Teal'c agreed.
'Most paper is about two years old when we use it, sir.' Sam jumped in. 'If the note was sent on paper six years old then someone made an effort to find an old piece of paper to use.'
Jack shot a look at Daniel and pointed at the archaeologist with his pen. 'I wonder who that would be.'
Daniel's cheeks reddened at the implication but he couldn't deny it; it was exactly the type of thing he would have thought about. 'So, all we know is that this notepaper hasn't been invented yet and when it is, it is at least six years later when we send the note, probably more given there was an effort made to find an older paper.'
'We can't identify the ink composition either.' Janet shrugged. 'It's an unknown.'
'OK, so the paper and the ink came from the future, didn't we already know that?' Jack prompted.
'Why now?' Daniel asked abruptly before anyone could speak. He adjusted his glasses and leaned forward eagerly. 'If this note came from so far into the future and the defining event in our past was us going to P4C970, why did we wait so long before sending a note back to ourselves?'
'Possibly it took us that long to figure out a way to predict a solar flare.' Sam pointed out. 'We're nowhere near advanced enough to do that right now without some serious help from allies.'
'Perhaps we did not realise there was a danger until many years had passed.' Teal'c added.
'I think whatever the reason, it is clear that something serious happened which required you all to risk your lives in sending this message back.' Hammond concluded. He nodded at Fraiser. 'Good work, Doctor. I want this file sealed.'
Hammond stood up and dismissed them before he retired to his office.
Daniel picked up his report. 'I wonder what's on P4C970.'
'Daniel.' Jack sighed and shook his head.
'Come on, Jack, aren't you the least bit curious?' Daniel said lightly, grabbing his mug as they gathered their things.
'Does curiosity not lead to the demise of the feline, Daniel Jackson?' Teal'c asked brightly.
'Teal'c's right.' Jack declared. 'We should let sleeping dogs lie.'
Teal'c frowned. 'I mentioned no canines, O'Neill.'
Jack sighed as he ushered a grinning Sam from the table. 'For crying out loud, I was being metaphorical.'
Janet started to follow, unable to suppress her own smiles at their banter.
'Doctor!' Walter Harriman hurried towards her from the stairwell with a folder. 'The photo you wanted from General Hammond's barbeque.'
'Oh great.' Janet took the folder with a pleased smile. 'Thank you, Sergeant.'
'Anytime, ma'am.' Walter turned back to the stairwell and Janet hurried after the departing SG1 team. She caught up with them at the elevator.
'…and I say it doesn't really matter when we sent the note.' Jack was arguing.
Janet gave Sam a distracted smile as they got into the small compartment.
Sam looked over Janet's shoulder. 'Wow. That's a great picture of us all.' It showed SG1, Hammond, Janet and Cassie. All of them with their arms around each other in civilian clothes, relaxed and smiling.
SG1 crowded around her and Janet tried hard not to feel hemmed in – they were so much taller than her. 'I asked Sergeant Harriman to make me a copy. I thought Cassie would like it; it's one of the few she could have in her room which won't provoke questions if she has her friends round.'
'It was a day to remember.' Jack said with a satisfied smile at the rest of his team-mates. They were all extremely smug about their volleyball win over the Marines.
'We reigned.' Teal'c said happily, clasping his hands behind his back.
'Ruled, Teal'c.' Jack corrected. 'We ruled.'
Janet smiled. 'You know Cassie believed you'd win right from the start; wouldn't hear anything else.'
'I knew there was a reason why we liked the munchkin.' Jack quipped, grinning.
'General Hammond agreed with her.' Janet commented. 'Said he'd never bet against SG1.'
'It was just a volleyball game.' Daniel pointed out even though his blue eyes telegraphed his delight in the unexpected praise.
'Volleyball; changing time, saving the world.' Jack shrugged. 'Same difference.'
They all exchanged happy smiles.
'You know what is weird?' Daniel mused out loud.
'That you can't drop this?' Jack offered.
Daniel shot him a look. 'We sent that note years from now together.'
'Yeah, so?' Jack prompted impatiently.
'So, were we still SG1?' Daniel asked with a frown. 'I mean, don't get me wrong, it's kind of nice to think we would still know each other years from now, but do you really think we'd still be SG1?' He wrinkled his nose.
'That is weird.' Sam frowned and darted a look at the Colonel.
Jack's eyes widened. 'Well, I doubt we were actually, you know, officially, serving as SG1 after so many years.'
'It does not matter.' Teal'c intoned solemnly. His dark eyes met each of his team-mates in turn. 'No matter how much time may pass we will always be SG1.'
Janet raised her eyebrows as SG1 exchanged a look; complete agreement. She took one last glance at the photo before she slipped it away into the folder. Volleyball matches and changing time. She guessed she wouldn't bet against SG1 either.