The Road to Minnesota

by Ted Sadler

Copyright © Ted Sadler 2003

"All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author."



Sometimes, like now, a part of me is detached, all-seeing, all-feeling of my own accord. In these moments I know it's only fleeting awareness, and the conscious, Earthbound me will have little memory of its passing. I savour the delicious *knowing* of all things memorable. The majestic celestial clockwork of how the Universe hangs together, and the relentless coming and going of countless races who believe beyond all evidence to the contrary that they are unique and eternal. Of poetry, the sensations of the flow of time, and The Music of the Spheres. Above all, the floodgates of emotion, of love and hate, joy and sadness which are the only real memories that linger when I return to a state of emptiness.

A yellow-haired woman sleeps beside me, the catalyst for my desire to continue my Earthly existence. The detached me sees her at a distance as my henceforth eternal companion, caught up in the web that I spin, my certain knowledge that one day she too will realise the joys of our timeless bond. My empty self recognises it only as love, but is content nonetheless.


Chapter 1 - Downfall

Daniel Jackson looked across the restaurant table at his dear friend, noticing once again the greater number of fine lines extending from the corners of her eyes, and the occasional faint twitch that she didn't even know she was experiencing. She stared a lot at nothing these days, snapping back to reality at unpredictable moments.

Sadness would at one time have been his uppermost emotion, but his unique perspective of life after death had inured him to that. Fortunately the desire to help, and knowing how to start the healing, were gifts that he still possessed.

"Sam, it's nothing to be ashamed of. No-one out there can know just what we've all been through these last years. And no-one has done more than you." He paused before speaking the words that he knew would set her on the path. "The same thing happened to Jack, didn't it?"

She looked up at him sharply, the feelings of discomfort, self-pity, alarm, fear, inadequacy and anger flashing through her simultaneously. And then.. The thought that she hadn't dared to think in the year since he'd gone, until yesterday. *He* had known that this would happen to her at some time, had tried to warn her, to teach her to look for the signs. And she'd thrown it back in his face, fed up with his sarcasm, accusing him of self-pity and jealousy over the fact that she'd found someone to belong to. Her career was on track, she had felt comfortable with the new mantle of leadership - thanks to his teaching, she had *graciously* admitted to him - and she was going all the way to save the world. 'Go enjoy your fishing, Jack.' were her last words before he walked away to retirement. Moving on definitely has some downsides as well as upsides, she had thought at the time.

And it had been a thrill at first - her new zeal on the job as SG-1 leader; the easy way she could manipulate Pete into accepting his role as her down- time consort at times of her choosing; the swift victories against the Goa'uld. A heady mixture for anyone on the fast track to career fulfilment.

Until the day that the slowly mounting subconscious fear and tension overtook the bounds of suppression and consumed her. The day that she froze, suddenly overwhelmed by the endless killing and sending people to die or be maimed. The scene that haunted her dreams, of an ordinary enemy soldier staring at her, uncomprehending, not believing that his own life was ending as she poured a stream of bullets into his chest.

She broke. That had been her last day on active front-line service in any role. Weeks of counselling and psychiatric therapy had failed to get her to look at it all in perspective. Her dedication to science in her lab was now erratic, and the inevitable had happened. Medical retirement, full honours, enough money to take her time in finding a new job on the outside. Outside.. Outcast... She taunted herself frequently.

Pete had been supportive, of course, and she knew deep down that her retirement was his opportunity to turn their relationship round onto a course that suited him somewhat better. She was glad of his support, and not surprised when he had started making hints about moving to Denver. So why had she stonewalled him? Was it just the reluctance to let go of the past and the intensity of her life these last eight years? Or was it the growing seeds of discomfort in their interactions? Why, even though their lives were intertwined, did she feel so *lonely*? None of it mattered now anyway.

She had no idea whether Daniel had been waiting seconds or minutes for her reply. "I learned something last night, Daniel, that makes me ashamed." She paused and he knew to wait for her to say it in her own time. "Pete and I were sitting in a booth at a bar. We weren't saying much - that's been happening a lot lately - and I found myself listening to the conversation in the next booth. It wasn't busy and two women were just talking over drinks. One asked her friend whether she'd ever thought she could settle down with any of the guys that she'd been with since her divorce. Her friend thought not, but then the first woman asked 'What about that Air Force Colonel you spent three months with last year?'. She said, 'Yeah, I thought for a moment or two it was the real thing. But then I realised that even though he'd spent three thousand bucks just for our vacation in Europe, he needed me but he didn't want *me*. He always seemed to be on tenterhooks about me enjoying myself, like he didn't want me to be bored or upset about anything. I told him I wasn't made of glass, and although the attention was nice at first, it upset me to think he couldn't let his hair down and just enjoy himself for once. It's like he was overcompensating for the way he'd been before, maybe. He was pretty far out of it sometimes, and he was into painkillers in a big way - not as a junkie, but to control the monster headaches he kept getting. And nights, he'd dream about things that had gone down in the past, about losing his buddies. Or about other weird stuff. Seems one of his guys meant a lot to him. He'd often shout for *Sam* not to die on him, but I guess he lost him.'"

Sam fell silent as she contemplated what she had told Daniel. "That was Jack, wasn't it?"

"Yes." he said quietly, not attempting to hide anything from her. "He was lost, Sam, totally and utterly, and we weren't there to help him. I went to see him a few times but he wasn't himself any more. He didn't dare confess to the headaches for fear that he'd become a lab rat for the medics or the NID. Suddenly he just up and left Colorado Springs for Minnesota. I never did find out why."

"Because he came under investigation from the local police concerning his apparent drug habit, when he tried to buy morphine a few times. He sold up and left before anything happened." she replied. "Pete told me last night that he was concerned about Jack's attitude towards me after he retired and he got the local PD to check up on him, as a favour from one cop to another. I accused him of being motivated by jealousy and he didn't exactly deny it." She paused. "Pete's gone back to Denver. I... I don't know if I'll be seeing him again."

"I'm sorry to hear that, Sam." said Daniel.

She glared at him. "Are you?"

"No, not really." he replied, staring back at her. "It was you that drove Jack away, not the police. He was gone the moment you took up with someone. I know he never let on, but he's quite big on denial, as you well know." He didn't move when her tears started. But then, he reached across and placed his hand on hers. "You know what to do, Sam, for yourself if not for him."