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Parallel-o-gram 

Chapter 5

"Sir, we have an unidentified power spike registering on the computers," Walter reported.

General Hammond looked up from the report he'd been reading. He was well aware of the fact that three of the computers that ran continually in the control room monitored every possible function of the SGC. Made necessary by the threats, both Terran and non-Terran, that loomed outside the secure concrete walls of the secret facility. He asked the question to which he was certain he already knew the answer. "Which means?"

"Something inside the SGC is creating, or is connected to, an energy field of some sort," the small man explained. "There are no scheduled experiments that would cause these readings."

"Call Major Carter. Make certain she isn't conducting an unscheduled experiment." It wouldn't be the first time the brilliant young major had been so caught up in her work that she'd conduct an experiment on some piece of equipment without first notifying the operations officer.

"I already did, sir," Walter replied. "And she's not. She suggested trying to pinpoint the source."

The general nodded. "And did you?"

"Yes, sir. It's coming from Doctor Jackson's lab."

That could not be good. There was no reason for any sort of power creating device to be in the archaeologist's lab. Unless he'd been examining one of the multitude of artifacts that waited for identification and translation, and had inadvertently activated it. Again, not good. "Sound the alarm. Have a security team investigate. Tell Major Carter to take a look as well."

"Yes, sir." Walter hurried to carry out the orders. Within seconds the klaxons were wailing, the red lights flashing.

 

 

 

Jack looked up from the magazine he'd hidden within the manila report folder. He'd just gotten to Bad vs. Good! He hadn't seen this month's comic yet! With a sigh, he closed the folder, jogged toward the elevator.

Sam was already in the car, a worried look on her face.

"What's up?"

"Power spike. Coming from Daniel's lab," she replied.

"Oh, for crying out loud," Jack moaned. "He touched something, didn't he? Something he should have known better than to monkey around with."

"I guess that's a fairly safe assumption," Sam conceded.

"Haven't I told Casey to keep him from touching stuff?"

Sam smiled. "There's always the chance that she touched it."

"And yet, he claims I'm a bad influence on her," the colonel grumped. Ignored the snicker that came from the woman beside him

When the doors opened, Marines were already running by, having taken the stairs. Jack and Sam followed, pushing past the heavily armed men, and into the room filled with artifacts.

"Holy Hannah!"

Three days prior the team had discovered an interesting artifact beneath the altar of a long forgotten temple to Ba'al. Casey had wanted to leave the miniature pyramid where it sat, but Daniel and Sam had been eager to study it, and convinced her that within a containment field, it would be harmless. After two days, Sam had been able to find nothing more than a slight energy signature, one that she assumed was coming from the naquadah in the miniature Stargate that graced the front of the device. Daniel had carried it to his lab, ready to begin the work of translating the hieroglyphs, so small as to be unreadable with the naked eye, although they could be seen.

Coming from the artifact, from the center of the spinning Stargate, was what looked like a wormhole. From the center of that whirling vortex a blue beam was shimmering. Lying on the floor, apparently caught in the beam, the soft blue light surrounding them, were an unconscious Daniel and Casey.

"Oh, for crying out loud!" Jack ran a hand through his hair, looked at Sam. "Tell me what's going on," he said.

"Daniel must have stumbled across the right 'gate address for the device," Sam surmised. She leaned as close as possible. Took note of the stones beneath it. "Where's Teal'c? I need him to take a look at this."

Jack grabbed the phone, called for the Jaffa to report to Daniel's lab immediately. "What is it?"

"Well, if I'm not mistaken, and I could be, this is a date," she said, pointing.

Jack shoved her arm down. "Don't touch!"

She bit back her smile. "I'm going to have to touch it to find out how to shut it off."

"Oy," Jack grumped.

"No, no, no," Casey moaned. "Not right!"

There was no way to reach for her, not as long as the blue beam encompassed her and Daniel. Without knowing what was happening, it was possible that they could be killed if the beam was interfered with. Frustrated, worried, and not a little pissed off at the situation, if not particularly the two individuals caught in the middle, Jack ran a hand over his face.

Daniel had moaned twice since the arrival of the Marine guards and his teammates. Casey was beginning to thrash slightly.

"We need to get that damned thing turned off," Jack growled.

"Until I'm certain how they turned it on, I won't be able to do that," Sam replied. She was trying to remain calm. Not easy when two of her best friends were lying on the floor.

Teal'c ran into the room. "What is happening?"

Sam glanced up at the tall man. "I need to know what this says. They look like numbers to me."

Teal'c moved closer. "Indeed. It is a date. The year of two thousand two. This is the 'season', or division of the season. It would correlate to your month of January. The seventh day."

Jack frowned. That sounded so damned familiar! That was the January they'd taken a wild ride to an alternate reality. The frown deepened. He did a bit of quick math. "That's the day Daniel went to Tacoma to find Casey."

Sam hurried to Daniel's desk. A yellow legal pad sat on top. She smiled grimly as she read his hastily scrawled notes. "Choices. Paths. Time. He has that written here several times, and circled."

Teal'c stepped behind her, read over her shoulder. "The answer to the riddle is within these notes, or Daniel Jackson would not have attempted to activate the device."

"We may not have time to find it," Jack said worriedly, watching as Casey began to move more violently. When her body began to seize, he ran to the wall, pulled the emergency lever, adding more noise to the wail of the klaxons. Grabbed the phone and called for a medical team.

Sam and Teal'c frantically examined the notes. "He has 'alternate realities' circled." She frowned. "They dialed in the date that Daniel went to Tacoma..."

"Is it possible that when they activated the device, that is where the device sent them?" Teal'c asked.

"It didn't send them anywhere, they're still right here," Jack pointed out.

"But it is possible that somehow they're being given a glimpse...that somehow this device allows them to 'see' what would have happened had Daniel not gone to Tacoma on January 7th, 2002," Sam pointed out, gleaning that much from information she read as she skimmed the page.

"How is that happening?" Jack demanded.

"I don't know," Sam admitted.

Janet raced into the room. Took one look at the situation, and shook her head. "I have to get to her, and I can't until that thing is turned off!"

"I don't know how to do that!" Sam responded.

"Damn it!" Jack ran a hand through his hair. Briefly thought that it was situations like this that were the cause of all the gray in it. "Teal'c! Get your staff weapon. Blow the damned thing up!"

"Colonel, we don't know what might happen if you do that," Sam warned. She was amazed that she hadn't called him 'Jack' in her panic. Training, she thought fleetingly, before forcing her attention back to the crisis at hand.

"We do know that Casey could die if we don't, and it's a damned good bet the same thing could happen to Daniel!"

Teal'c exchanged a look with Jack, then raced from the room toward the storage locker where his staff weapon was kept, taking the stairs three at a time. Sam called down to the control room to warn them that the weapon was about to be used, and that no one had any idea what would happen when it was. Lock down procedures were started, and would be completed if necessary.

Jack cleared the Marines into the corridor. He was going to insist that they all move to the relative safety of the hall when Teal'c returned. He grimaced as Casey's body continued to jerk. A small trickle of blood oozed from the corner of her mouth; she'd undoubtedly bitten her tongue.

Nearly mowing over four scientists who stood conversing about their latest discoveries in the middle of the corridor, Teal'c ran into the armory, jerked the door open, and in his haste ripped the metal gate from the hinges to reach his weapon.

Airmen pushed themselves against the wall as the Jaffa ran by, the look of determination on his face alerting them to the seriousness of the situation...whatever it was.

Activating the weapon as soon as his feet hit the floor of level eighteen, Teal'c careened around the corner. General Hammond was standing beside Jack, having arrived after hearing the call for medical personnel.

"Do we know this will work?" the general asked.

"No, sir," Jack replied honestly. "The only thing we know for sure is that Casey is going to die if we don't shut that thing down."

With a nod at the tall Jaffa, the general stepped back.

Teal'c took aim, and fired. The miniature pyramid exploded, pieces of it flying in all directions. Effectively shut down, the blue haze that had enveloped both Jacksons disappeared. Janet dashed to their side, kneeling between the two.

Casey's body had gone limp, and Janet worriedly checked her pulse. "She's in v-fib!" The announcement sent the medics into high gear. The petite doctor began to administer CPR, pumping almost violently on the unconscious woman's chest.

A gurney appeared, and the medics lifted the unconscious woman onto its white sheet, her face nearly as pale; Janet never lost a beat. Sam had taken charge of Ambu bag, holding the mask over Casey's nose and mouth, squeezing the bag that forced oxygen into the young seer's lungs, as Janet's manipulations continued to push the blood in and out of her heart.

"Get the de-fib ready!" Janet ordered.

Jack and Teal'c helped to put Daniel on the second gurney to arrive, and followed it to the infirmary.

General Hammond stopped long enough to give the order that no one was to enter Dr. Jackson's lab without his or Colonel O'Neill's express permission until the archaeologist was able to give them a better idea of just what they'd been looking at, and had been destroyed.

"Two hundred joules," Janet called out as the gurney was shoved into the infirmary. Jill had the machine ready to go, dialed in the correct number.

"Ready," Jill said.

Janet ripped the BDU shirt open, sending buttons flying in every direction. One of the medics took over the manual manipulation of the seer's heart, Sam counting, squeezing the bag on the appropriate beat. The doctor grabbed a set of utility scissors, cut the black tee shirt, grabbed the paddles that Jill held. Placed them on Casey's chest. "Clear!"

Sam and the medic backed away. Casey's body arched when the electricity meant to stimulate her heart raced through her.

Checking the young seer's pulse, Janet shook her head. "Three hundred."

Daniel had been wheeled into the room, but so far the archaeologist continued to breath on his own, with no sign of trauma. Jack stood in the doorway, his arms around his chest, watching helplessly. Oh, he knew that Casey was Immortal. And that if she died, three days from now she'd be bitching about the infirmary bed and having a numb butt. However, letting anyone know about that...secret...was not something he wanted to see happening.

"Clear!"

Again the slender body arched. A sharp gasp indicated that she was breathing, her heart pumping as it should. The onlookers continued to hold their breath, until Casey coughed several times, then sighed heavily.

Janet slumped slightly, handed the defibrillator paddles to Jill. "She's okay," she said softly.

Everyone in the room visibly relaxed. Then jumped with surprise when Daniel moaned, put a hand to his head.

"Anybody get the license number of that truck?" he mumbled.

Jack hurried to his side. "Bit of a headache?"

Daniel rolled his eyes, looked up at his best friend. "Just a bit," he acknowledged. It actually felt as if someone were trying to hammer their way out of his skull.

"Good. Serves you right for touching that damned thing," Jack replied. "Damn it, Daniel! What the hell happened?"

"Where's Casey?"

"Over there. Her heart stopped-"

"Oh, god!"

Jack pushed the young man back down as he attempted to get up. "She's fine now. Doc had to zap her a couple of times, though. Now, back to my very important question. What in the hell happened?"

"I think the pyramid is some sort of teaching device," Daniel said slowly.

Sam moved to stand closer, running a hand over his shoulder to assure herself that he was all right. "Teaching device?"

"I found several references to 'teacher' and 'student'." He frowned slightly. "Although it's possible that the literal translation would be 'guide' and 'seeker'."

"So just what does that thing teach?" Jack demanded.

"I'm not sure..." He broke off as memories of where he'd been flooded his mind. "Different! It was all different! Instead of going to meet with the Tok'ra, we went on a different mission! Remember, Sam, we were interested in going to... P3X...we found the pyramid there..."

"P3X 482," she offered.

"Yeah, we wanted to go there, but the general thought we should see what the Tok'ra wanted first."

Sam nodded. P3X 482 was the planet they'd just visited. Daniel had been the one to locate his notes about it, and had approached the general about finally investigating the planet. "What we located was worth taking that belated look. Wilson just reported that there's a large deposit of titanium in those hills."

"We didn't go to the Tok'ra. Didn't get tossed sideways into that alternate reality. I..." For the second time his voice trailed off, his eyes searching for his Wife, his hand automatically reaching for her. "I knew that something was wrong, I felt it," he whispered.

Sam was frowning. "How did you activate that device?"

"Casey had figured out that the stones beneath that little Stargate were used to 'set' a date. She put in the day that I flew to Tacoma. I was trying random combinations of glyphs. We honestly thought that we'd open it, not...activate it. I didn't think there was anything to activate!"

"Then what happened?" Jack asked.

"There were a couple of crackling sounds, and then what looked like an event horizon opening, which Casey thought was pretty cool," he smiled. "Then....I don't remember anything after that. Well, I remember living through a couple of days...three, maybe four, without her. Knowing that something was wrong. I thought I was losing my mind."

"You realize that there has to be a reality out there like that," Sam pointed out. Something about what he'd said poked at the back of her mind, but she couldn't pinpoint just what it was that bothered her.

"Yeah? So what happened to the 'me' of that reality while I was there?" Daniel asked.

"I don't know," the astrophysicist admitted. "Unless you were just...sharing...his mind and body."

Daniel frowned. Tried to recall if anything had felt different. There was something about a scar...he remembered catching sight of himself in the mirror as he stepped out of the shower. And there'd been no appendectomy scar on his side. "No scar!" he whispered.

"What?"

"That Daniel never had emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix," he said. "I remember that now."

"So was that Daniel unconscious the entire time?" Sam asked. Time! Not just the alternate reality, there was something...odd...about the time! If she could just think...she shook her head. It would come to her, she was sure.

"I dunno. I never...I guess so. I never felt like I was...like I was in someone else's mind and body."

"It's possible that the sudden...well...your sudden presence in his mind knocked him out, and for some reason, he remained unaware, unconscious," Sam theorized.

"So we can assume the same thing happened to Casey," Jack said. "Something bad must have been going on."

"Kenny Vincent," Daniel replied hoarsely. "He...Casey 'saw' what would have happened if I hadn't flown to Tacoma to find her when I did."

Jack nodded, recalling the conversation that he'd had with the young archaeologist about that particular 'premonition'. It had been the only time they were aware of that Casey'd been able to see anything directly involving herself. "Yeah, possibly."

"She'll be able to tell us when she wakes up," Sam said. Well aware of that particular 'vision' as well. Concerned that such memories would haunt the slender seer.

Certain that Casey was indeed out of danger, Janet turned her attention to her other patient. "Well, you're talking, I think that's a good thing."

"Feel like I was hit by a huge semi-truck," he told her.

After a cursory examination, Janet declared that all of his responses were normal. "I'll bring a couple of Tylenol for your headache."

"Thanks," Daniel replied appreciatively. He glanced at Casey, worry reflected in his blue eyes. "Why isn't she waking up?"

"I am awake, thank you very much, and stop yelling at me," Casey said softly, her eyes still closed.

Daniel grinned. "Hangover from hell?"

"Worse," the blonde grumbled. She put one hand to her forehead, willing the guy with the jackhammer to take the rest of the day off. "I feel awful!"

"Serves you right," Jack retorted. "You should know better than to touch stuff you don't know anything about."

"At that moment, we thought we did understand it," Casey replied, her voice hushed and low. "And stop yelling, please!"

Jack grinned. "Care to tell us what happened?"

One slender hand came up off the bed, the middle finger extended.

The colonel chuckled. "Right. Later. We'll discuss your very insubordinate attitude."

She didn't bother responding. It was all she could do to keep her stomach from rolling completely over.

"They need to rest. I'll give them something for the pain, and light sedative so they can sleep this off," Janet said.

"Let's go take a look at what's left of that thing," Jack suggested.

Sam nodded. "We'll need to get everything we can. I hope Daniel has a lot of pictures of it."

"Why?"

"Something tells me he's going to be pissed that you had Teal'c blow it up," Sam grinned.

"You blew it up?" Daniel asked. He moaned softly. "We were trying to open it because there was a description of devices, which sounded very much like the memory device. That's what we thought were inside!"

Sam frowned. "Okay, we'll look for anything like that. If they were small enough, there's always the chance that a few survived."

"It was Jack's idea, wasn't it?" Daniel's voice was full of accusation.

"Casey was seizing, Daniel. Janet couldn't get to her. It was literally a life or death decision," Jack said quietly.

He nodded, instantly regretted the movement. "Good call," he said softly.

"I'll make sure we get all the pieces," Sam promised.

Jack, Sam, and Teal'c hovered near the beds until Janet assured them that the sedative had taken affect, and both Jacksons were sleeping peacefully.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Surprisingly, the damage to Daniel's lab had been relatively minor. The table where the pyramid had been sitting was scorched, and there were traces of what turned out to be dust, from the stones that had exploded when the staff blast had hit them, on the table and floor. Two stone statuettes had a few pock marks from the flying debris, having been on the table near the pyramid. It had taken two hours to find all of the bits and pieces, carefully examining every inch of the lab. When she was confident that everything that they could find had been placed inside the box she'd brought in from her own lab, she'd left the remainder of the clean up to Jack and Teal'c, who were supervising the two Airmen recruited for the job; not that there was actually much left to worry about.

Sam carried the box of pieces into her lab; bits of stone, what she thought might be actual mortar, more than a dozen metallic objects, her first impression was that they were what remained of hinges, and four tiny round metal bits, no larger around than a pencil eraser, that she suspected might be the devices that Daniel'd been talking about. The miniature Stargate sat on top of all of it. Being made of naquadah, it had survived. She planned to run a few very carefully controlled experiments, to see if she could send small probes through any wormhole that might be established.

Something about what Daniel said had been bugging her. She went over the conversation carefully. Three or four days? That wasn't possible! The longest they could have been unconscious before the computer alarms in the control room sounded, regarding the energy readings coming from his lab, would've been ten minutes. She, Jack, and Teal'c, along with the Marines, had been in the lab maybe five minutes, six at the most, trying to decide what to do, and then waiting for Teal'c to return with his staff weapon. So, fifteen minutes. Twenty at the very outside. Somehow, the device not only controlled access to alternate realities, it controlled the passage of time. Or had all that he experienced been like a dream, and occurred in that span of time, only seeming like days, rather than minutes?

She frowned. Wished that it hadn't been necessary to destroy the device. She sat down at her computer, pulled up the folders where she'd stored all of her notes concerning the device. Now that she knew what it was capable of...well, what it had been capable of, she corrected herself, perhaps something would catch her attention, something that hadn't seemed important, or even obvious, before.

Jack poked his head into the room. "Hey, there."

"Hey," she smiled.

"You're working on that thing, aren't you?"

"I'm just going to take a look at my notes."

"And then?"

"And then I think I was going to get pizza before we decided what movie to rent."

He grinned. "Sounds about right. See you topside in an hour."

"I'll be there." She couldn't help but smile as the sound of his whistling echoed through the corridor. She turned her attention back to her notes.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Casey opened her eyes. Felt a moment of panic that brought her straight up, ready to jump from the bed to search for him. "Daniel!"

Janet hurried over. "He's fine, Casey. He's still asleep."

She settled back down against the pillow. Frowned slightly, lifted her left hand. Sparkling in the fluorescent lights were her rings. The engagement ring that he'd slipped on her finger as he asked her to marry him, just one day after meeting her. The wedding ring he'd placed on her finger during the beautiful wedding ceremony that had united them as Man and Wife in full view of a room full of witnesses. With a sigh of relief, she looked up into curious brown eyes. "It was awful, Janet," she said softly. "Daniel had been killed, he died horribly; and it was all my fault. I didn't send the letter soon enough."

The petite doctor patted the slender hand that trembled slightly. "It's all over, Casey. Daniel is fine. You scared us for a bit. I had to use the defibrillator on you."

"Bad, huh?"

"Yep. Do you remember what happened?"

She closed her eyes, tried to concentrate. "Jack took me into Sam's lab, the pyramid was there. I remember totally freaking out when I saw it. I was already panicked, because I couldn't find Daniel, and they kept telling me that he was dead, and that I'd never-" her voice caught slightly. "Jack told me I'd never met him. I was there for three weeks, give or take. And I'd never met him."

Janet frowned. "Three weeks? Daniel said something about three or four days."

"I have no idea how, or why. I think...I think that we weren't so much there, as we were just seeing it. Experiencing it. It was awful," she repeated softly.

A deep sigh, a cough, and then a softly whispered 'Casey' alerted the two women that the man in the bed next to them was awake. "Casey?"

"Right here," she replied softly.

"Doing okay?"

"Better now that the hangover from hell is gone," she replied.

Daniel smiled, then turned his head to look at her. She was lying on her side, one hand supporting her head, the other...with the IV drip still attached...moving back and forth over the space on the mattress beside her. "Need to talk?"

"No. Well, maybe. I think so."

Janet snickered. "That certainly covered all the bases. I'd like to keep you in here for observation; however," she said, raising one finger before either could voice the protest forming on their lips, "I'll settle for the two of you remaining on base for the night. I'll get you unhooked, then it's straight to your quarters. No stopping at all on level eighteen."

"But-" Daniel started to protest.

"This bed, or the one in your quarters," Janet said firmly.

"Right," he sighed. Better to be alone with Casey, so that they could discuss what they'd just experienced. He needed to hold her, feel her breathing, touch the warmth of her skin. Just to make certain he wasn't dreaming. That the horrible existence without her was the dream...or rather, the nightmare...and not his reality.

In less than three minutes the two were pulling on their BDUs. Casey was sans tee shirt, since hers had been cut from her. Safety pins would hold the button-less BDU shirt together long enough to get to level twenty-five.

Daniel held her hand tightly, as if terrified that she'd slip away from him. Casey was just as needy, her fingers laced with his, the other hand holding tightly to his wrist. They remained quiet during the short elevator ride. Said nothing as they walked to the room that had been assigned to Daniel when he'd been assigned to SG-1.

As soon as the door was closed and locked behind them, Daniel kissed her frantically, one hand gently cupping her face. Her fingers were wrapped in his shirt, tugging him closer, the movement of her lips fraught with her own fears.

"Please tell me you're all right," he whispered, barely moving his mouth from hers.

"I'm fine...now. Are you all right?"

"Now. I'm fine now." He kissed her again, slid his arms around her - one around her slender shoulders, the other circling her narrow waist, holding her against his body as tightly as was possible.

She clung to him, her arms around his shoulders. When the kiss ended, she pressed her face against his neck, felt the warmth of his skin, breathed deeply of his scent. Safe. Alive. Healthy. He was all right. He hadn't died. Because of her. The emotions of what she'd seen, what she'd experienced, began to settle into her mind. She gasped slightly, then let the tears fall. "It was...awful," she whispered.

He could feel the warm wetness of her tears against his skin, heard them in the small hiccupped breaths she took. He said nothing, allowing her to say what she needed to say, to tell him about the hell she'd obviously witnessed.

"You were dead, and it was my fault. I didn't send the letter soon enough. I knew, but I was so afraid of General Hammond thinking I was crazy, and so you and SG-1 went to Kelowna, and you kept them from blowing themselves up, but you died, and it was horrible, and it was all my fault!"

The wail of pain that followed nearly broke his heart. Apparently his own experience hadn't been as...intense; although not having her in his life had left him empty and miserable. He hadn't realized just how alone he'd been before Casey had entered his life. How lonely. Empty. Just a shell of a man. "Shh, it's all right, Angel. I'm right here. And I can't believe that it was your fault."

"That's what Sam and Teal'c said," she managed to whisper.

"They were right."

"I knew that I'd missed out on something special. I could feel it. I felt so...so..."

"Empty?" he offered.

"Very. As if I were only a shadow of who I was supposed to be."

"So was I. So alone," he whispered. "But it wasn't real, Case. It was only a dream."

She shook her head. "No, it wasn't. We might not have physically visited that...those...realities. But we were there. Those people...that Daniel, and that Casey, are living with the results of the choices made."

He closed his eyes, pressed his face into her hair. Flowers and vanilla. Warm and sweet and safe in his arms. He wondered if his own memories would affect that Daniel Jackson, or if his presence was nothing more than a mysterious loss of time for him. And that he'd never know...oh, Christ! Murdered! Casey had been murdered!

She felt his body stiffen. "There's nothing we can do to change those realities. No matter how much we might want to do so," she said softly.

"That knowledge doesn't make it any easier to deal with what we know will happen."

"What might happen," she replied. "We have no idea how many other things were different. We weren't there long enough."

Daniel frowned. The puzzle that had perplexed Sam was beginning to bother him. "How long did you...how long did it seem that you were there?"

"Three, three and a half weeks," she replied.

"It was only three or four days for me," he told her.

"Just how long do you think we were unconscious?"

"It couldn't have been very long. Anywhere from ten to thirty minutes, I suppose."

She cocked her head sideways. "What's happened, has happened. We were just given a glimpse of those realities...two possibilities had General Hammond not insisted that you go to meet with the Tok'ra like he did. We saw...echoes...of what happened."

"What about the device? SG-1 had found it in that temple."

"They did in my...that...reality as well. I didn't know about it, I wasn't on the team. But I saw it, just before..." She frowned. Shifted slightly in his arms. "I was freaking out, because I remembered you. Knew I was married to you. Jack was trying to figure out what was going on, and Sam thought the device had something to do with it."

"So it was necessary for the device to be present at the same time in both, er...all three, realities? That doesn't make sense, not if what we were seeing was the past."

"Maybe we saw the device because we were...connected...to it," she suggested.

Daniel scooped her into his arms, carried her to the bed. He pushed the pillows against the headboard, then made himself comfortable. Casey settled between his legs, leaning against his chest, her legs over one of his thighs, her arms around his neck. His arms held her tightly. "The text mentioned a guide. There were other references to 'teachers', or at least a teacher."

"Those things like the memory device, I'm betting they have something to do with all of this."

"I agree," he said. He pressed his cheek against her forehead. "It's possible that the devices were used in conjunction with what happens when the pyramid was activated."

"Makes sense."

"What if it was possible for the guide, or teacher, to control what, or even how much, the 'learner' experienced?"

"It would allow that person to see what the ramifications of just one change, one choice, could be."

"Now, the question is, why? The text is in Ancient. So I have no doubt that the Ancients built the damned thing. But for what purpose?"

"Do you think they were trying to change the past somehow?"

He mulled this thought over. They'd built the time device in an attempt to avoid their fate, but it had been a dismal failure. It had been assumed that the failure had resulted in the end of the Ancients, at least on the mortal plane of existence. But what if it had only been the Ancients on that particular planet? Had others survived, and built the pyramid in an attempt to change that fate? Was it a second, failed attempt? "Very interesting theory," he said at last.

"Daniel?"

"Hmm?"

"I'm hungry."

He smiled, kissed her forehead. "So am I."

"We aren't supposed to leave the room."

"Well, I don't think Janet would begrudge us going to the commissary to get something to eat," he replied.

"Good. Let's go."

He held her tightly. "I love you."

She smiled. "I love you."

He kissed her again, then allowed her to crawl off the bed. Waited while she pulled on a new, clean black tee shirt. He didn't need a trip to an alternate reality to show him how much he needed her. He'd suffered her absence more than enough in his own reality to know that he couldn't live without her...didn't want to think about life without her.

"I wonder if the Kelownans managed to avoid blowing themselves up in our reality."  

He frowned, slid his ID badge through the reader beside the elevator. "Tell me about them, what you remember."

She launched into a description of Jonas, glossing over the death of that reality's Daniel, explaining as much as she could of what she grasped of the situation. He listened as they made their way to the commissary. And as they stood in line.

With their trays filled, he led her to the 'SG-1' table. "It's possible that since we didn't go through the 'gate, the leaders didn't feel a need to prove their superiority. So it's also possible that their scientists wouldn't have been rushed to finish such a deadly weapon," he said.

"Maybe they figured out it was a bad idea, and wouldn't have worked, and they were able to scrap the entire thing," she suggested.

"Nice thought," he replied. "Let's talk to General Hammond about this. I think Sam would be interested as well. If there's something out there more volatile than naquadah, we need to know about it."

Casey nodded. "Fine. But for now, let's just eat dinner. Then..."

Daniel grinned when her cheeks brightened and her eyes dropped to her plate. "Then?"

"Then I want proof that you're okay," she said softly.

"I like that idea," he said, his own voice soft. He needed to know that she was okay, as well.


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