Year Two

A continuation of “Year One,” in which Earth was decimated by some weird, unexplained, convenient fire that came through the ‘gate on a routine mission. Hopefully a little more fun than the last one.

Autumn


Crawfordsville had offered them a home. They'd lost one of their families in a flash flood in the spring, earlier that year, and the house had stood vacant, a weak link in the circle of defense they'd planned out carefully.

Jack and Sam discussed it, knowing that the reasons for going were valid: more company, shared provisions, better protection against the bands of humans who had begun to roam even their remote corner of the world, the opportunity to help out people they hadn't been able to save.

It seemed like an easy decision. They both agreed. They were both unhappy, although neither could think of a good reason why.

Jack thought it was because he didn't really trust anyone, and that Crawfordsville was gaining more than they expected. The people of the makeshift town knew they were well-armed, but didn't know about the explosives, or the total quantity of weapons. They also didn't know the extent of his and Sam's experience, and he was nervous about that getting out. He had no way to know exactly what was coming through the 'gate these days, and wasn't naive enough to think the Ori were just going to leave them alone now.

Sam thought she simply felt guilty. She knew it wasn't really her fault, but she couldn't shake the idea that maybe, if she'd been faster, or smarter, or had that extra cup of coffee, they wouldn't be here now. She felt like her guilt would show and alienate her from the others.

And then there was the tension, which had mainly disappeared the year after the Burn. It was back, dwelling in every corner until a careless word, a brushed cheek brought it crackling between them. So far, Sam had turned away every time.

It was driving Jack nuts, and he knew that he was reaching his limit. He couldn't predict what would happen when he finally reached it, if he'd just shut down or if he'd throw her against the wall and kiss his way down her body in an attempt to break her, too. He was pretty sure that either option would be a Bad Idea.

For the week preceding the move, they circled around each other, packing, shifting possessions to the downstairs, settling into a comfortable rhythm created through years of stuffing packs, voicelessly dividing duties. The heat of late summer seemed to stifle conversation, so they didn't talk except at night, and then only about Daniel and the others, with a subtext of whether or not they'd been right to return here.

The heat broke two days before they planned to move.

Jack feigned enthusiasm. "Nice! Now we won't have to worry about heat stroke."

Sam feigned a smile.

Neither talked that night at dinner, and neither ate much.

In the middle of the night, Jack woke up. He opened his eyes and found Sam standing at his door. He knew she had been standing there, right inside the frame, for a while.

"Hey," he said, quietly, as if he might scare her off.

She shifted, her face hidden in shadows. She took one involuntary step forward.

"I--"

She moved closer, almost to his bed. He lay perfectly still.

"I don't want to go."

Jack sensed they were repeating a conversation once held with beer in his hand and a woman in his house. Like then, she kept talking, words spilling over one another in her haste.

"I know it's stupid, that the reasons to go far outweigh caution or, or inconvenience. I mean, we'd be around people, and as much as I l--" she swallowed, "like you, winter last year was pretty damn awful. Plus, we would be better off as far as provisions, and we'd be able to help, too. I can't explain it, can't give you a solid ex--"

He touched her face, and she stopped, her words dissipating in the moonlit coolness of the room.

She kissed him, and it was everything that might have happened three years ago, if things had been different.

He pulled her down, reflecting that, for once, he'd done the right thing. He'd always needed to let her come to him, and she had, finally. They could figure everything else out later.

Winter


Jack was pulling the sled when they came across the first body.

“Damn,” Sam said, crouching down. The woman was dressed only in a pair of thin pants and a T-shirt. She lay face down, her left arm twisted into the snow as if she was trying to push herself up. She was barefoot.

“Don’t touch her,” Jack cautioned, but Sam just gave him an annoyed glance and stood back up. She found a tree branch and managed to roll the woman over. Her eyes were open, and Sam bent down, carefully not breathing. There was the characteristic aura around the iris.

“Fuck.”

Jack sighed. “You know, you’d think the Ori got the memo: Earth destroyed by fire. Not worth the time.”

A guilty look flitted across Sam’s face, but was gone almost as soon as it had come.

She said, “At least this means they’re not falling prostrate yet.” She spoke with some pride at the thought that the Tau’ri, her people, the people of Earth, hadn’t just given up their beliefs for the first false prophet to walk through the door.

Gate.

Whatever.

“Still wish they’d get the hell off my planet,” Jack grumbled.

Sam gave him a small smile.

Two hours later, they reached what Jack referred to as “the bustling metropolis of Crawfordsville, Minnesota”—more accurately described as a small village of ragtag survivors Jack had come across in one of his summer forays. The whole village was quiet, and Sam and Jack knew they weren’t going to find any survivors. They searched the whole town anyway.

They touched nothing, but when they had scoured each building from top to bottom, they lit a torch solemnly and set fire to everything that would burn. Sam flinched each time Jack lit another building but said nothing. Jack didn’t even glance at her, although he was not unaware of her unease. It was the third time they’d done this.

On the way back to the cabin, their rustling gear, the crunching of their snowshoes, and the hissing noise the sled made were the only sounds they heard.

Spring


“You’re early, Thor. I said a year.”

“I apologize, O’Neill. We require your assistance. And that of Colonel Carter.”

“Couldn’t live without us, old buddy?” Jack glanced at Sam, who was on the other side of Thor, seeing as she’d been in the kitchen when Thor did his light show.

“Colonel Carter’s expertise has been sorely missed.”

Jack blinked. Sam grinned.

Jack said, “Thor…was that a joke? Because if it wasn’t, my feelings would be quite hurt.”

“I suppose you’re ready to come back now, Jack? Had enough of a vacation?” Daniel was trying to sound bitter and sarcastic, but he was definitely looking at Sam and evaluating what he saw.

“Daniel, Daniel. I knew you’d understand. ‘Sides, Sam thought you probably had things under control.”

Daniel noted their easy stances, the way they…fitted together, the way they both looked comfortable with being on the ship, which they most decidedly had not the last time he’d seen them. He nodded slowly.

“Is that right?”

Sam opened her mouth to protest, but Jack interrupted.

“Yeah,” he said casually. “She said she figured you could figure something out to keep the Ori occupied for a while. Actually, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that. Seems one of those Priory things is loose on Earth. I’m kind of disappointed, actually.”

Daniel started to protest, closed his mouth, and grimaced.

“Yeah, well, sorry to ruin your vacation, and sorry to let you down, but we could be in a lot of trouble here.”

Jack shrugged. “I’m alright with another un-retirement. Besides, if you hadn’t come today, we would have had to start planting. And, you know, that would have been a waste.”

“What did you need me for?” Sam asked.

Summer


There was no SGC, no United States Air Force, and, so far as Jack knew, no Jell-O left in the galaxy. More than a few of the good people Jack had known, even some of the people he’d counted as friends, were dead.

On the plus side, he had his team back.

They also had their first real lead on a way to smash the Ori out of ascension and, if they were really lucky, out of existence.

Daniel’s hair was getting long, and he pushed it back irritably while he explained the gist of his research to the group.

“Sam could probably figure it all out if you gave her a couple hundred years,” he was saying. “And that’s a compliment, by the way.”

Jack snorted. “You’re probably still underestimating Carter.”

Daniel shrugged. “Maybe, but this stuff…Jack, it was created by an ascended being.”

Vala looked at her hands, bored. “Like it did you any good.”

Daniel clenched his jaw. Jack loved Vala, if only for the fact she annoyed Daniel, which in his book meant she’d been doing the universe a favor by keeping him from getting too smug.

“Anyway, from what I can tell, this could be important. Really important.”

Jack raised his eyebrows. “That it?”

Daniel looked uncomfortable. “You need more? I thought you liked it when I cut out all the interesting stuff.”

“No, no. That’s fine,” Jack assured him. “We’ll go. Thor! We’re going to need a ride!”

Thor nodded his head as Daniel and Sam did their best impression of gaping goldfish.

“Not that I’m complaining, but doesn’t it usually take more persuasion than that?” Daniel asked.

“I want these Ori out of my galaxy. You think this might help. We go.”

Daniel looked like he wanted to argue.

Teal’c spoke up for the first time. “DanielJackson, I believe it would be foolish of you to argue when you have succeeded in convincing us of the need to visit this planet.”

Daniel shut his mouth.

O’Neill wanted to share a smug look with someone, but said instead, “Step on it, Thor!”

Within what seemed like no time at all, they were beamed down onto the surface of a small blue-green planet.

Jack said, “Welcome to Asgard Territorial Planet 865, home to a few rare species of birds, a buried Stargate, and the ever-present, Ancient-produced trees.”

Vala bounded down the empty gate platform and took a good look around.

“I think these trees are more blue than usual,” she announced.

Sam stifled a smile as Jack grimaced.

Vala had a habit of ruining his punch lines.

“Traitor,” he muttered to Sam as they made their way down the path, toward the ruins Thor thought might house something useful.

Sam reached behind him very discreetly with her free hand and squeezed his ass. He yelped and Daniel and Vala looked at him in surprise and no little alarm. Teal’c merely raised an eyebrow. Sam moved away from him, a small smirk just on the corner of her lips.

Jack stared after her two seconds, then cleared his throat and put on his sunglasses. “What are we waiting for? Let’s move, people!”

Vala and Daniel shared a look. Teal’c almost smiled.

No, things weren’t the same, but at least the universe stood a chance with these people by his side.

Vala might be right about the trees, though.

*_*_*_*_*_*

Author’s note: Okay, okay. I know I left more questions than answers. How’d they pick up Teal’c and Vala? Where the hell is Cameron? Why is Daniel riding shotgun on an Asgard ship? What’s the thing that they’re going to that place to pick up and how is it going to help? Am I going to write Year Three? If I did, do I need a plot? If I do, should I even bother?

Yeah, I don’t know either.