Disclaimers and other info in part 1.
"Well, you can say one thing about Maybourne," Daniel said, studying the file in his lap. "He's got good taste."
She peered over Daniel's shoulder. As she looked at the picture of herself, she realized that she had never seen what this dream-her looked like.
She smiled unwillingly. "Daniel, you do realize that this Colonel MacKenzie could probably kick your ass, don't you?"
He thought for a second. "Nah, I could take her. I've been trained by a Jaffa and an ex-Black Ops officer."
"And you say that I'm spending too much time around General O'Neill?" They both laughed, and she said, "I'll be right back."
She tried not to pay attention as dream-her (who, she was beginning to suspect, wasn't really her at all) used the facilities. As she washed her hands at the tiny sink, she glanced at the mirror, and finally got to see Sam Carter.
Short blonde hair, blue eyes, delicate features. She had doffed her jacket for the plane ride, but she could just make out the lieutenant colonel's insignia on her slate-gray uniform blouse. At least there was one thing they had in common.
Beautiful. That was the only word for it.
Beautiful, amazing, magnificent, incredible, miraculous...
Okay, maybe she was wrong. There were plenty of words for it.
Mac sighed as she stared up at the night sky. It had been far too long since she had last been to Red Rock Mesa. The trip had been worth it.
And she had only had one more of those dream-visions since she had arrived.
She had been setting up camp, making sure that she still had everything that she needed for the next two weeks, when she had had another dizzy spell. She had immediately sat down and closed her eyes.
She had been in JAG headquarters, facing an extremely overprotective Commander Harmon Rabb. "National security. Every time Mac hears those words, she gets another bruise, another scar, another broken bone. I am not going to allow that this time. No, you can't know where she is."
That was it. The flashes seemed to be getting shorter. Unless, of course, it was because she had remained conscious and in control...
The sad part was, she was torn between letting the dreams continue or trying to stop them. Her curiosity had always been one of her weak points.
She sighed and tried to clear her mind. This was supposed to be a relaxing vacation, not a stressful one.
In the sky above, the stars twinkled gently.
"Do you think she's really a hok'tar?"
She sighed and rolled onto her side. "I don't know, Daniel. But I'd lay ten to one odds that Maybourne and his cronies are responsible for her current condition, and I think that we should fix it if we can. At the very least, she deserves to know what's happening to her."
An answering sigh. "Yeah." Silence for a moment. "So how's Pete doing?"
She could feel herself hesitate before answering. "Fine." The response was clipped.
"You sure? You don't sound like everything's going well." The concern in his voice touched her. It reminded her of Harm. Of course, Daniel wasn't quite as smothering in his worry.
"Yes, Daniel, I'm sure."
"Okay." His voice was mild.
"It's just... I love him. He's funny, and sweet, and charming, and... and I love him. But... he's... oh, I don't know." She gave a huff of laughter. "He's transferring to Colorado Springs so he can be closer to me, did you know that? He's willing to make all of these sacrifices for me, and it makes me wonder... would I be willing to leave the SGC for him?"
The room was silent, and she could feel a knot of nervousness in her stomach. Finally, Daniel replied softly, "I don't think it's the same, Sam. Pete's a detective--he could find work in just about any city in the country. But the Stargate Program is one-of-a-kind. I think that Pete realizes that. And if he ever pressured you to leave the SGC... well, he wouldn't be the man you've led me to believe he is."
She smiled a bit. "Yeah. You're right, of course. Thanks, Daniel."
"That's what friends are for, right?"
And if she heard a note of resignation in the man's voice, Sam didn't seem to.
Feet pounded the earth; hair streamed out behind her in a ponytail. Her heart rate rose, her skin shone with perspiration, and a brilliant smile split her face as the browns and grays and reds of the desert flew past her.
She ran, leaving the worries, doubts, and fears of her life behind her.
And then she slowed, her breathing coming more quickly. She frowned, remembering a time when she could run fifteen miles at a stretch. Now, she could barely do five.
She walked at a brisk pace to cool down, and took a long gulp from her water bottle. She knew her doctor wouldn't approve of her exerting herself like this, but this was something she needed.
Mac rested in the shade created by the mesa, stretching her muscles and letting her heart and lungs slow to a normal rate. After this, she climbed back up to the cave, where all of her stores were being kept. It was cool, as the opening faced north, and received no direct sunlight. She was about to strip off her sweaty white t-shirt when she heard the sound of an approaching vehicle.
Eyes narrowing, Mac stepped into the shadows and waited, muscles tensed.
"What do we plan on doing once we find her, anyway?"
"Tell her what she needs to know," a woman replied. The voices sounded strangely familiar.
"And what's that?"
"That her illness may have been caused by experiments performed by rogue operatives from a government agency. That she was chosen for a specific reason."
The two forms stepped into the cave. Mac nearly gasped in shock. She regained her composure and stepped away from the wall.
"Lieutenant Colonel Carter, I presume."
The tall blonde woman blinked in surprise. "Yes..." she replied slowly. "Colonel MacKenzie?"
"Yeah." She paused. "You must be Dr. Jackson," she continued, turning to the blue-eyed man.
"Daniel," he said, extending his right hand. She shook it.
"Call me Mac. I have the feeling this meeting isn't going to be quite as short as you expected it to be." She smiled at the twin looks of confusion and curiosity.
"How did you know our names?" Colonel Carter asked.
"Experiments performed by the NID," Mac said, watching the confused looks transform into ones of realization.
Carter and Daniel exchanged a glance that reminded Mac of Harm and herself. Finally, Carter said, "Colonel, we're going to have to ask you to come back to Colorado with us."
Colorado? "What's in Colorado?" Mac voiced her thoughts.
"Cheyenne Mountain," the (other) colonel replied.
"Not... exactly," the woman hedged. "We'll tell you on the way there."
Mac shrugged. Two weeks off--why not see in person what she had been dreaming for so long?
She looked back at her supplies. "What about my stuff?"