Christmas in Minnesota
A companion to Stargate: Generations. Set in Season 9 of SG-1, Season 2 of Atlantis.
Dany O'Neilll stretched her arms over her head and widened her mouth approximately the same distance, letting loose a Chewbaccian howl. Last report done. Last day in a long line of reports. SGA officers could put off their paperwork indefinitely…so long as they weren't planning on leaving the city.
Major Lorne stuck his head around the corner of her office door. "Done?"
She finished her yawn before answering. "Yes, sir."
"Then get it to Dr. Weir and get out of here." The major slipped into the room with more grace than his stocky build suggested. "When was the last time you took any leave, anyway?"
"My brother's funeral," she answered, fiddling with a length of child's fishing line that rested in the dust on her desk.
Lorne was quiet a moment. He took a seat on the edge of her desk. "You know, Lieutenant, I'll be the first to admit I didn't expect much of you when you came here. I don't like working with people fresh out of a trauma. But you've proved me wrong at every turn. I think it's safe to say you belong here."
She didn't ask, when were they not fresh out of a trauma? She said, "Thank you, sir."
Lorne took the hint. "Where are you going?"
"Minnesota. My uncle has a cabin up there."
"That's a lot of snow and ice this time of year."
"Hockey weather, sir."
Lorne chuckled. "Remind me not to mess with you. Will it be just you and the general then? For the holidays?"
"Uh, no. SG-1 will be joining us. They've just had a pretty bad run of their own, so General Landry gave them a couple of weeks off. Cassie – Cassandra, that's Dr. Fraiser's daughter – is driving up from college. General Hammond might even pop up for a day or two."
Lorne sucked in a breath. "That's quite an intimidating party"
"One big snowy adventure, sir."
Lorne laughed and get up from her desk. "Enjoy yourself, Lieutenant. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas, sir," she called after him. "Home for the holidays," she muttered to herself when he'd gone.
Meanwhile, back at the SGC…
"I thought we'd sent all the alternate SG-1s back where they belonged?" General Landry demanded halfway done the corridor.
"Well, sir, we're still experiencing a few lingering effects," Carter explained. "Only two actual teams have come through since, but there have been some power surges, unexplained dialing failures…"
Landry held up a hand. "I get it. Just get the problem fixed. No one wants to deal with alternate realities at Christmas."
"Yes, sir…Sir, there's one other thing."
They were almost to his office, but Landry stopped dead. "I'm not going to like this, am I?"
"I don't know, sir…" Carter hesitated. "Sir, I believe we've encountered this reality before."
Landry's eyebrows shot up to his hairline. "Oh?"
"Yes, sir. From their story, I believe they're from the same universe Lieutenant O'Neill was trapped in when she went missing several years ago."
"Isn't it possible another version of those events happened in some other reality? Or two other realities in this case?"
"Yes, sir, but…their story not only matches the report exactly, it matches some of the personal details, some of the things Dany told us later."
"Well, I suppose it doesn't really matter one way or the other." Landry sighed. "Bottom line is, they need to go home. Get those damn glitches fixed. No one leaves this base until you do. And yes, Colonel, I realize it's Christmas."
"Yes, sir," Carter said with a sigh.
"You know, Jackson, I'm starting to think we won't get off for Christmas," Colonel Mitchel remarked as they made their way to the briefing room.
"Oh, yeah, I get that feeling every year."
A mishmash of SG personnel stood in the room. Their General Landry –at least, Mitchel hoped it was their General Landry – Colonel Carter, Major Davis, another Carter, another Mitchell – and wasn't that always weird? – two Tealcs, a Dr. Fraiser, a Bra'tac, and a couple of young men Mitchell didn't recognize.
"Lieutenant Elliot?" Daniel said, an odd note in his voice, and one of the young men stepped forward.
"Yes, sir, I…"
"Dr. Jackson, Colonel Mitchell," General Landry informed him.
"Thank you, sir." Elliot accepted both of their hands firmly, but addressed Daniel. "I take it we know each other?"
"Ah, knew, actually," Daniel answered. "We knew each other, yes."
Mitchell broke in, "Sam, what the hell is going on here?"
"Still trying to figure that out."
"And none of you are going anywhere until she does," Landry added. "Believe it or not, extra SG-1s were not on my wish list this year."
"Has anyone told Jack?" Daniel asked, scratching the side of his head.
Carter nodded. "He's up at the cabin already. He said to hurry up. They're expecting a pretty big storm, and he wants everyone there before the roads are blocked."
All eyes turned to General Landry. "No good, people," he said. "My heart remains as hard as a Minnesota highway. Besides, if that man has his way, you'll be there all winter."
"Major Davis also just arrived from Washington," Carter went on. "He's coordinating with a couple of engineers there."
"If this problem isn't fixed by New Year's, you're calling Dr. McKay," Landry threatened.
Carter deflated. "Yes, sir."
Daniel cleared his throat and addressed their guests, "In the meantime, we'll make you all as comfortable as we can. We know you all have families to get back to as well. We'll do everything we can to get you home in time for the holiday."
An alert sounded. The red lights in the corners of the room flashed, and a voice over the intercom announced an incoming traveler.
"That'll be Lieutenant O'Neill," said Landry.
It was, and several minutes later, Dany appeared, looking unruffled despite having crossed two galaxies to get there. She raised her eyebrows at the sight of the multiple SG-1 units.
Before anyone could explain, the alternate Major Davis stood and took a heavy, shaken step forward. "Dany?"
She looked at him in confusion. "Sir?"
"'Sir'?" What 'sir'? Dany, it's me." Then Davis seemed to remember himself and straightened. "Forgive me, I…When General Landry told us Lieutenant O'Neill would be joining us, I assumed he meant Lieutenant Dan O'Neill."
Now it was Dany's turn to stiffen, but Daniel stepped in before things could get any more awkward. "Dan O'Neill was killed in action less than a year ago. Dany has been offworld. Dany, as you can see, we're having a few alternate reality issues."
Dany nodded her understanding, and Davis turned away to rub his face and stand by the window.
The alternate Dr. Fraiser cleared her throat. "You'll have to forgive him. We've had losses of our own. Our Dany was killed in a plague that recently swept our entire planet."
"The same thing happened here," Carter said. "I'm sorry for your loss."
"It's particularly hard on Paul," Fraiser went on. "You see, our Dany never joined the military, and at the time she died, her name wasn't O'Neill. It was Davis."
Several sets of eyebrows shot to the ceiling, and the air in the room noticeably thickened.
"Permission to remove myself from this awkward situation, sir," Dany said.
"Granted," said Landry. "You can report to Major Davis in his office."
"Yes, sir," Dany said tightly.
"And one more thing, Lieutenant. No one is going to Minnesota until this mess is cleaned up."
"That's a shame," said Lieutenant Elliot, who had been standing by the door and consequently out of Dany's line of sight. "I would have liked to have seen the place again."
Dany turned to stare at him. "Kevin?"
"The one and only."
She laughed, and both young officers embraced.
Mitchell cleared his throat. "Someone want to fill me in?"
"You read the report," Daniel muttered at his ear. "They were…close. Though how they know it's the same them, I can't tell you."
"And yet somehow they do. Maybe that's what happens when you're…close."
"What's this, Valentine's Day?" Landry boomed. "Lieutenant, get back to work. Walter, find quarters for our guests. Everyone, you have places to be. Get to it. I'd like to see my daughter before Groundhog Day."
Dany checked in with Major Davis, who welcomed her formally, gave her a handful of translations to finish, and sent her off to help Daniel. The archaeologist was busy helping Carter brainstorm and didn't need her. Just as she was resigning herself to a few days of utter boredom, she rounded a corner and nearly collided with Lieutenant Elliot.
"Elliot." She looked at the guard. I'll take it from here."
"Very good, ma'am."
"So…" She began as they ambled down the corridor. "Bum knee's looking good."
"Asgard medicine," Elliot explained. "Turns out they just needed to…aw, I didn't understand it. I was just glad to be back on active duty."
"And assigned to SG-1, no less."
"Yeah, well, after Dan and Charlie told me everything, nothing else seemed worth doing. I didn't think I'd manage to see you again though."
"Maybe it's not me. Maybe it's another me, and you're another you."
"I doubt that, but does it really matter?"
Elliot smiled. "So what does Major Davis have you doing just now?"
Some time later, she lay on her stomach in her quarters, staring at an old photo. Beside her Elliot lay on his side, dog tags catching the light as they fell across his chest.
"You keep that on you all the time?" he asked softly.
"Yeah," she said. "At first it kept me going. Now I…just can't seem to leave it behind."
"What happened to Dan?" Elliot's hand come up to stroke her arm gently.
Dany covered her mouth with her knuckles. She had never said the words aloud. Not ever. She had written them down in a report, and that had been hard enough.
"You don't have to tell me," Elliot said, shifting closer. He smelled like sweat and aftershave, and somewhere underneath it all, a Minnesota snowfall.
"It's okay," she said, and reached to cover his hand with her own, squeezing his fingers. "I shot him." She met Elliot's eyes, faced the shock there. "A Goa'uld had him. He was killing Major Davis, and I shot him."
Now Elliot was very close. He had one arm over her back. His other hand remained firmly on her arm. "You did the right thing."
"I know. I just…I guess I always thought the right thing would be less complicated."
Elliot snorted. Dany tried to smile, but couldn't quite do it.
"So this Major Davis…" Elliot said. "You're close?"
"Close like the other Dany and Major Davis are close?"
She elbowed him in the ribs, and he groaned. "He's my boss, dumbass. There's been no one since…well, you were there."
"Really? No one?"
"I've been a little busy."
"Well, I guess we should take advantage of all this free time you suddenly have." He pulled her to him and kissed her, and Dany thought that, while it wasn't the passionate kiss of every romance she'd ever heard of, it was the most comforting thing in the universe just then.
Late the next morning, she moved her body, significantly looser and more comfortable, back to Major Davis' office, to see if he had anything more productive for her to do.
"Where have you been?" he asked as she entered. "I've been looking for you."
"I was catching up with an old friend," she said, plopping into the chair in front of his desk. "Sir."
He looked up at her. "You're in a good mood."
This seemed to make him uncomfortable, and he looked back down at his paperwork. "I hear Colonel Carter thinks she's found the problem. She's running a few more tests before we send our visitors back, but we should have you on the road by this evening."
"Very good, Sir. Was there something you needed in the meantime?"
"Finish those translations?"
She pushed the pile of folders closer to him.
"Thank you. You know, I understand all the technical aspects of gate travel, but some of this stuff – alternate realities, for example – is a little hard to come to terms with."
Dany picked a paperweight shaped like Jupiter off his desk and tossed it from hand to hand. "Have you met him, Sir? The other Major Davis?"
"No, I haven't been up there since this started." Davis set down his pen and folded his hands in front of him, meeting her gaze. "Is he the same?"
Dany cocked her head to the side. "Hmm, there are some differences."
He raised his eyebrows in interest. "Oh?"
"Noted. What about the other Lieutenant O'Neill?"
She hesitated. "Maybe you'd better read the report."
He frowned, but didn't press her. "This alternate reality business doesn't seem to phase you."
"I was stuck in one for over a month, remember? Besides, it's like looking at what your life could have been. It gives you…perspective."
"And what have you learned this time around?"
She set down the paperweight. "That I have a lot of good things in my life. That life is harsh in any universe, and we make the most of the one we have."
Davis didn't respond.
"If that's all, Sir, I have some packing to do, and I'm hoping I can talk General Landry into letting me off base long enough to do some Christmas shopping."
"You're dismissed, Lieutenant."
"Thank you, Sir." She got up, but as she reached the door, his voice halted her.
"And Lieutenant? Merry Christmas."
"Thank you, Sir. You too."
Landry grumbled, but smiled through it. Dany was an efficient shopper, and living offworld meant much of her salary went unspent. She had everything wrapped on site that she could, and stuffed the rest into gift bags and tissue paper.
A few hours later, everything sat in a pile in her quarters, and she was being paged to the Gateroom.
"Someone wanted to say goodbye," Daniel explained as she jogged in, and, turning, she once again found Elliot's warm and eager smile.
"No mistletoe," he said when she was close enough. "Think I can get away with it?"
"I don't think there's a regulation for inter-reality relationships," she answered, "and if there is, I'll promise never to do it again."
Elliot's kiss was warm and soft, and for a moment Dany forgot herself.
"I hope our realities cross again, Lieutenant," Elliot said as they broke away. "Have a Merry Christmas."
"You too, Lieutenant," she said. He slipped out of her hands and made for the Stargate, and in less than a minute was gone.
She turned, feeling slightly let down, and found herself the subject of the alternate Major Davis' attention. His eyes, wide, were also wounded. She felt herself flush and dropped her gaze, moving to stand by Daniel.
"Maybe I should have stayed in Atlantis," she muttered.
And miss Jack's cooking?"
Dany drove them up. She knew the way best, and she needed the time to think. Daniel and Teal'c were soon asleep in the backseat, and Carter was quiet beside her.
Well, quiet for a time, anyway. "You thinking about Elliot?"
Dany was grateful for the dark, as it likely hid the heat in her face. She hadn't been thinking about Elliot, or, at least, not just about Elliot.
"Sometimes I wonder if things are simpler for us in another reality," Carter mused.
Two such different men…One all youthful warmth and enthusiasm, the other all discipline and regulated heat.
Dany snorted. "Probably not. Probably just complicated in their own way."
Carter glanced over her shoulder to make sure the men were still asleep.
"They know," Dany said quietly. "They just don't talk about it. Mitchell knows too."
Carter stared at her, startled.
Dany glanced over. "Some things are simple after all."
"I guess so."
They arrived at the cabin at 10am on Christmas Eve. The driveway had been shoveled, and smoke was rising out of the chimney.
Dany stepped out of the car and breathed for a moment, eyes closed. Cold and woodsmoke. The smells of Earth, and as far as she was concerned, the smells of home.
The front door opened, and Jack O'Neill stepped just outside. "Took you long enough!'
Carter stepped forward to wrap him in an embrace, and he kissed her without regard for the rest of them. As she stepped inside, Dany heard her greet someone, probably General Hammond. But he wouldn't tell anyone either, of course. This was the cabin. They were as good as offworld here.
Her uncle took a few steps further into the snow, and Dany met him there.
"Merry Christmas, Dany Erin," he said.
"Merry Christmas, Uncle Jack."
"It is ten o'clock in the morning, Dany O'Neill."
"I'm on vacation, Teal'c."
Daniel rolled his eyes and shoved past them, and beyond him she could smell eggs and bacon, and no doubt there was beer too. She and Teal'c followed, and Uncle Jack closed the door behind them.
The complexities of the universe could wait, Dany thought. It was Christmas, and here was home.