Title: The Gift
Category: Drama, AU, Episode tag
Spoilers: Ripple Effect
Pairing/Character: Daniel/Janet, Sam/Teal'c
Summary: Gifts come in many forms, shapes, and sizes.
Author's Notes: This is based on the episode Ripple Effect. I am aware it may contradict some deleted scenes, but since they never aired I am not counting them as canon for the purposes of this fic. Thanks to Meg the Beta Master. ;)
Disclaimer: Stargate, Stargate SG-1 and all of its characters, titles, names, and back-story are the property of MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions, SciFi Channel, and Showtime/Viacom. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This story cannot be printed anywhere without the sole permission of the author. Realize this is for entertainment purposes only; no financial gain or profit has been gained from this fiction. This story is not meant to be an infringement on the rights of the above-mentioned establishments
Janet and Daniel followed Colonel Mitchell and Martouf down the ramp as the wormhole snapped shut with an audible pop. The iris hadn't fully shielded the Gate when General O'Neill jogged into the Embarkation Room.
"Well, it's about time!"
He had brought some armed personnel with him, which made sense to Janet. They had not only been overdue, but out of contact from their SGC for days. She was surprised that O'Neill would even run the risk of meeting with them before a full evaluation, but he was nothing if not loyal to his former team.
"Yo," Mitchell shouted, the first to speak, as he reached the end of the ramp. "We got something for you."
O'Neill eyed the case suspiciously before glaring at the four of them. "Someone mind telling me what the hell is going on?"
"We've been taking a wild ride throughout the metaverse," Mitchell said with a grin.
O'Neill's gaze shifted to the rest of them.
"Alternate reality," Daniel said.
"That's what you said when you finally made contact." He paused. "What happened?"
"It's true, Sir."
"There was a malfunction with the Gate system," Martouf said. "We were sent through the Stargate and entered a reality that was much different than our own. It was through the perseverance of General Landry, Samantha Carter, and the rest of SG-1 that we were able to return home."
Jack stared at him. "Landry? Hank Landry?"
Daniel shrugged. "You were in Washington."
"Why is it that these alternate realities are always so screwed?"
Daniel glanced over to Janet. Briefly, she saw something haunted and distant in his eyes before he returned his gaze to the general. "Well, to them, everything is perfectly fine."
"Yeah, whatever." O'Neill raised his eyebrows. "So, what's in the box?"
Janet filed away Daniel's behavior for later in order to focus on the gift that had been given them. Quickly, she motioned for Colonel Mitchell to hold up the case. She snapped it open and exposed the contents, her face glowing with pride. "The cure."
O'Neill peered inside. "The cure?"
"The SGC in the alternate reality provided us with a possible cure for the affliction on Earth," Martouf said.
O'Neill's eyes lit up, and he turned to Janet searching for some kind of confirmation. She found she couldn't help but grin at him. "Yes, Sir. According to the other reality, they have defeated the Ori plague."
"This will work?" O'Neill asked her.
"It sure as hell worked for them," Mitchell added.
Janet caught the skepticism in the general's face. "Didn't you tell me something about each Prior having its own disease thing?"
"It's possible that the cure from the other alternate reality won't work for our reality." She watched his face fall. "But, General, our realities were similar enough that the chances of complete incompatibility are slim. Now, if I can isolate some of the chemical compounds used to create this medicine, then even if there are some differences between the actual diseases in our realities, I am confident that there is enough overlap for us to come up with a workable cure."
"Sweet." O'Neill motioned to an SF to take the case. "Take that down to the lab." He returned his gaze to SG-1. "We'll get that checked once you get checked."
There was a collective groan from the members of SG-1, but they knew the procedure by now. It wasn't as if this was the first time. Extra caution was better than no caution at all. They followed General O'Neill and a few SF's down the corridor toward the infirmary.
As they walked, Janet couldn't help but start to feel the full impact of what they had gone through. The initial shock of encountering people who were so much like her own had turned into anger and despair as they – General Landry – were unwilling to help her. While Janet understood the military mindset, she still couldn't help but wonder if General O'Neill had been in charge if he wouldn't have been more compelled to help them. Janet knew that if she had been stuck in that alternate reality, she would have demanded to speak with Landry's superior officer; she would have insisted on speaking to General O'Neill anyway.
Her gaze fell to the case the SF was taking to the main medical lab. She had underestimated the man. Once they had found a way to get home, General Landry made good on his word and gave them the possibility for salvation.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Daniel asked, leaning toward her.
"Daniel – the other Daniel – told me the first team, the one that caused all of this, went home empty-handed."
"It's rather ironic." He paused to scratch his chin. "When you think about it, that is. They went through all that trouble, without a single thought as to what impact they could have on other realities, only to have gained nothing in the end."
She nodded. She couldn't fathom what could have made them that desperate. "Our victory was another's loss," she said quietly.
Daniel didn't say anything to that.
Janet sighed, moving a little closer to him. She heard him sigh as well as he pressed his hand to the small of her back.
"That was nice. What you did back there," Daniel said softly.
"He was hurting. I know what it's like to lose someone you love."
Daniel looked away.
She hadn't believed him right away. She couldn't. Not when he looked, acted, and talked so much like Daniel. But she could see the truth in his eyes. Right then, she knew that she had brought that Daniel hope beyond anything he had felt in a long time, but she had also brought back all the pain.
"I'd never met an alternate version of myself before. You know," he said with a quiet laugh, "I used to wonder what it would be like to meet myself. If every reality is based on decisions I made or didn't make, then there must be versions of myself that lived lives that I could only dream of. They had to have better lives. Some me must have it all." She felt him squeeze the fabric of her jacket. "Is it even possible for me to feel grief for myself, a different self?"
She said nothing, but nudged his hand to fall to her side. She held it tightly.
"Some of those others were devastated." His gaze remained fixed on the corridor. "I can't imagine what their lives were like." He turned his head and gazed at her, the sadness returning to his eyes. "I'm used to being the one who dies."
She leaned into him and they supported each other as they entered the infirmary. "I know. I'm glad you stopped that," she said with a small smile.
They sat side by side on the nearest gurney, waiting for their turn to be examined as the medical staff checked Martouf and Colonel Mitchell. The plague had hit them hard; Janet had lost some of her closest friends – doctors and nurses who were like a second family to her. Their resources were stretched and their staffing had been reduced to just a skeleton crew. She could only hope that the cure they brought back with them could stop the slaughter.
Daniel reached over and tucked a strand of her frayed hair behind her ear.
"It has to," she answered. She thought of Major Feretti and Colonel Reynolds. She thought of her friends. She thought of the children.
For their sakes, it had to.
They remained silent for the next few minutes, waiting and watching. General O'Neill let them be, affording them some limited privacy as he spoke with the doctor that had replaced Carmichael.
Janet held Daniel's hand and stared at her bare wrist.
"Hey," she heard O'Neill say. "I thought I told you to stay home?"
Janet looked over to the infirmary, surprised to see Teal'c alert and dressed in his BDU's. He bowed to Janet and Daniel before moving to stand with General O'Neill. "I could no longer remain idle."
"Not to make it sound like you're unwanted, Teal'c, but—"
"We've got everything under control," O'Neill finished for Daniel. "Now, why don't you go home?"
"If we are to defeat the Ori and to protect this world and the worlds of our allies, we must take action. I will not sit by and allow for this plague to consume this world. I cannot remain inactive if I am to protect Hannah."
Janet and Daniel exchanged a knowing look. Teal'c caught their action and frowned before he rolled back his shoulders.
"You have news from your mission?" he asked them.
Janet inhaled deeply before she could bring herself to speak. "Teal'c, we might have—"
"They brought back a cure, T."
Janet was undulated by the shock that rippled off Teal'c's face. She remembered when once, years ago, she could barely invoke any kind of emotion from him. Giving him this kind of hope…
"You speak the truth?" he asked.
Daniel glanced at Janet, smiled, and squeezed her hand before nodding to Teal'c. "We've just come back from an alternate reality." They both saw Teal'c's frown deepen. "Never mind. Long story. The point is that we brought back something that could serve as a cure for the plague here."
Teal'c's eyes widened and Janet saw the same kind of hope fill him that she had seen in the other Daniel's eyes only shortly before. "This is not some trick?"
"The lab hasn't verified anything yet," General O'Neill said. "But—"
Janet grinned. "Based on what we saw…Teal'c, they had a cure."
It was as if the tension in Teal'c's face had been wiped clean by some magic eraser. "Then, there is hope for Bra'tac."
Daniel nodded. "Yes."
Teal'c breathed in deeply, the grin that spread across his face like none she'd ever seen before. Once again, he bowed to Janet and Daniel. But this time it wasn't just out of courtesy. Janet saw the warmth, appreciation, and gratitude filled throughout his simple nod.
"Now see? I told you to go home." O'Neill smiled and patted him on the back. "Wife and baby are waiting."
Teal'c arched his eyebrow, a smug smile touching his lips. "Indeed."
"Tell Sam hi," Daniel told him.
"And we want lots of pictures of Hannah," Janet added, winking at him.
"I am sure I will be able to accommodate your request, Doctor Fraiser." She didn't miss the twinkle in his eyes.
"Such a proud papa," O'Neill said with a smirk.
General O'Neill guided Teal'c out of the infirmary, hovering by the entrance to talk to him privately. Janet figured he was filling him on whatever details Colonel Mitchell and the rest of them had told him. And likely trying to convince him to get back to Sam and their newborn daughter.
Janet smiled at the thought as she rubbed the pad of her thumb over Daniel's fingers. They sat silently.
Colonel Mitchell appeared from an adjoining room, greeting them with the wave of his hand. "Hey, Jackson!" he called patting him on the shoulder. "You're up next."
"Okay, thanks." After Mitchell walked off to join O'Neill and Teal'c, Daniel hopped off the gurney and turned to stand in front of her. "Are you okay?" he asked, taking her hand.
She glanced down at her bare wrist and nodded. "I'm going to be fine."
There was flicker of uncertainty in his eyes but he nodded just the same. Leaning over, he kissed her on the lips, leaving a soft and comforting mark that warmed her. "You gave him something to hold onto," he whispered.
"I wish I could have given him more."
"Yeah." He kissed her again, this time on the cheek. "It'll be hard, but if he's anything like me – and I know he is – then you've given him more than he'd have hoped for."
She nodded. "Thanks."
He sent her a soft smile before reluctantly letting go so the doctors on call could examine him. She sat alone, barely aware of the bustle around her as she closed her eyes.
She wasn't sure how it happened or when exactly. He'd mentioned to her that he'd been having anxiety, afraid that his memory would leave him at any time. Not long after, she noticed a beaded bracelet on his wrist. Simple, nearly always hidden. He'd confessed that it gave him something to hold onto, something real and tangible.
Somewhere along the line, he'd begun to associate it with her. Somewhere along the line, he'd given it to her.
She didn't know if the alternate reality Daniel had done the same, but she noticed his eyes burn with pain when he'd seen it on her wrist. Somehow, he had known.
It was the best she could do for him. The only thing she could give him.
"Our victory is another's loss," she whispered to herself.
Maybe one day, that alternate Daniel would find his own special victory for himself.