Disclaimer: Chocolate - check. Cold Chai Tea - check. Computer with temperamental word processor invented in 1988 - check. Tissues (in case of unexpected crying spree), keyboard air (for when chocolate crumbles under keyboard keys, and keys won't type any longer) - check, check. Character ownage - NOT CHECK - NEGATIVE - ERROR - BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH APPROACHING (oh, that's Windows - nevermind) Money for this fic - DOUBLE NOT CHECK - DOUBLE ERROR - DOUBLE NEGATIVE (can you do a double negative in English?).

Tangential Thoughts

by Linda Bindner

A/N: Takes place during the fourth season episode 'Tangent.'


Jack looked out the canopy at the dark of space as Teal'c slipped into his meditative state. How did the big guy do that? He just willed himself to... well, not to sleep, but to meditate. Sleep with his eyes open. Only according to the mirror at the front of the cockpit, Teal'c even had his eyes closed this time. He was serious about conserving energy.

What did he meditate on, anyway? Did he think about his family that he'd left on Chulak? Did he think about the time when all Jaffa would be free? Did he dream about those Jaffa erecting a huge statue on the square of some planet somewhere in Free Jaffaland with the inscription 'We owe all to the Shol'va.' Or would it just say 'KREE!' That was something short and sweet, and maybe it would just get that inscription thing over with as fast as possible?

Just then the thought of a statue made in his image, erected in front of the White House, rose in Jack's mind. Upon closer inspection of the inscription on the base, Daniel would translate the Goa'uld to read 'Tau'ri Scum - Great rewards promised if captured - dead or alive.'

Jack smiled a ghostly smile at that mental picture. He could just see that old snaky snakehead, Apophis, with rage in his eyes when he first caught sight of this statue if he ever actually managed to conquer Earth (which will never happen with Jack O'Neill on the case). In fact, maybe he should request that a statue of him show him giving the finger to a misshapen lump of nothing with the word 'Goa'uld' over it (for identification purposes) and the statue's inscription could read 'In your face, you slimy Snakehead!' Jack's smile was far more definite when that mental image took over his mind.

Jack turned to look behind them - he could just make out a corner of Jupiter as that planet grew smaller and smaller behind the spacecraft. The 301 Interceptor kept flying inexorably away from it, not to mention the rest of the Solar System, Earth included. Who's idea had it been to retrofit a couple of captured Death Gliders and splice them to a US fightercraft, anyway? Carter's, he bet. Though, wouldn't Carter have thought of this scenario of the craft returning to its owner before all that splicing happened, and worked to avoid this scenario at all costs? She had too much personal experience about how... snaky.... those snakeheads were not to predict that one of them would try something like this.

So, no - this had to be the fault of those twits over at Area 51. Those previously proud twits who were now spending their afternoon scratching their butts while Carter saved the day yet again. She always out thought them, out maneuvered them, out gunned them, out shone them in every conceivable area, even the unimaginable ones. If there was a way to save him and Teal'c, Carter would find it. Of that he had no doubt.

He just hoped that there was a way to save them for Carter to find.

Okay, enough of that negative, scary way of thinking. Jack looked around - he needed a distraction, something that would... distract him. Something that would distract him...

His gaze lighted on the notebook and pen set sitting on the clipboard attached to one side of the spacecraft. Aha! Just the thing! He could write letters to... SG-1! Yeah! That would take up the time that Teal'c was busy meditating! Or, at least, it would take up some of the time. Maybe he should write really slowly?

Jack grabbed the notebook bundle, unclipped it from it's tiny nook set into the craft, and hauled it close. He opened the book to a fresh page - all that white space glared up at him. He would... he would... he would write... Letters, that was it. He would write to... all of SG-1. For starters. Shouldn't he also write individual letters to the members of his team? In case he didn't make it back, and Teal'c did? After all, a meditating Teal'c could do wonders. He was almost as amazing as Carter in her 'save them' mode.

A chill separate from the chills caused by the cold in the ship went down Jack's spine. What if he didn't make it out of this alive? What then? Would he see Charlie again when he died? Would Charlie still be the kid he had been when Jack had last seen him alive, or would he have aged, just like if he'd been on Earth all those years?

Then Jack had another chilling thought: what if Charlie didn't remember him? Jack cringed at that idea. His next thought left him too cold to cringe: if he went the way of the Charlie of his memory, and Charlie knew him, and all was hunky dory, what would he be leaving for Carter? For Daniel? For the big T-man? Well, he had paper in front of him. He had a pen to write with. And he had lots of uninterrupted time. Letters. Yeah, that's what he wanted to do. Write letters to all of them.

So he wrote 'To Teal'c, I leave my Simpson DVD collection.' He added, 'To Daniel, I leave all my yo-yos. May he learn to lighten up.' Then he ended with, 'And to Carter, I leave...'

But then he stopped. These weren't letters. This was his last will and testament. Like he was expecting to die. Of course, he was expecting to die, wasn't he? He'd done the math, as he'd told Teal'c on several different occasions. The air in the spacecraft wouldn't last as long as it would take for Carter to save his ass again. She would probably be too late. He would most likely already be dead by the time she got there. Another chill raced down Jack's spine at that thought.

This was too depressing. Besides, he would have to decide what to leave Carter. What could he leave Carter that would always remind her of him? His heart? No, she already had that. Maybe his physical heart? But he discounted that idea as soon as he had it. He doubted that a heart dripping with blood after being ripped out of his chest would be all that appreciated. Maybe he could have it freeze-dried?

He was stalling. And he didn't have all the time in the world. Not anymore. So he had to get down to business, now, or else.

'Or else' what? He supposed that he would start raving like a lunatic from oxygen deprivation. What was that called? Carter would know - he would ask her the next time he saw her. If he saw her again, that is.

He was stalling again. Okay. Just do it.

Dear SG-1,

Okay... that was a good start. They were kind of a group that was altogether now. They were his team. They were his team. Surely he had something he wanted to say to them at this propitious moment.

How about Nope, got nothin'?

But how lame was that? Very indicative of him, but very lame, too. He could do better than that. He was dying here, after all. And these guys were his best friends, his only friends - his only friends who truly mattered to him, anyway. After another moment of silent thought (of course it was silent), he started writing.

Dear SG-1,

You guys are the best. Did I ever tell you that? Well, you are. You saved my life. I bet Daniel already knows this, but maybe Carter and Teal'c don't. I never said anything, anyway. Carter and T can read my mind on occasion, but this is a pretty specific point to read. Anyway, I'm sayin it now - you guys saved me. Leading you all was (is) the best thing that ever happened to me. I was all broken up about Charlie and Sarah, and... well, you know. Things were bad. Then you three came along. And I was better before I even knew it. You made it look like nothing. But it wasn't nothing. It was soooooo something. Thanks. Just wanted you to know that. And know that I'll never forget about it. Even when I'm yelling at Daniel. Or not letting Carter do her technotalk thing. Or teasing Teal'c about all the fruit he eats. (Don't they have Goa'uld fruit?) You're the best. Don't you forget that. And if you tell anybody that I said so, I'll kick your ass(es) all the way to Chulak. (How far is that from Earth, Carter?) Don't let anyone push you around, or get you down. 'Cause you're the best. You're SG-1. Enough said.

Colonel O'Neill

Jack read over what he had written. He wished it was more eloquent, more sophisticated. But he was hardly a sophisticated man. Or an eloquent one. God, he wasn't eloquent! But they knew that. They wouldn't expect his last words to them (possibly) to be polished and pretty. He was a tarnished man, and his words should be just as tarnished. So what if this letter sounded dumb and choppy? He'd never been good at writing, or speaking, for that matter. Just look at his reports. Hammond knew how bad he was with words even if no one else knew.

And he was stalling again. It was getting easier and easier to get lost in his thoughts. Oxygen deprivation already. He had better hurry if he wanted to get through this.

So he flipped to a fresh page in the notebook and kept writing.

Daniel,

Spacemonkey... You old (not so old) archaeologist, you. (bet you thought I wouldn't be able to spell archaeologist, didn't you?) You're a linguist after my own heart. Actually, you are the linguist, I'm not. Ra's kicking up space dust because of us. Remember that? Good old Ra, gone to meet his maker, the slimy son of a... If I hadn't killed me, he would have. But you stopped both of us. Thanks for that. You're the best Chicken Man out there, on or off Abydos. Give a sneeze for me.

And remember Daniel, they're ROCKS! Not artifacts. Not prizes fit for a museum. Not worth their weight in naquedah. But ROCKS, plain and simple. No, you don't have to visit that one last temple. No, there is nothing important on that wall. No, we do not have to make friendly with the natives. No, Carter does not have to wear that dress so we can fit in. No, we can't eat the food, even if it insults the chieftain. And above all, remember: DON'T TOUCH ANYTHING! Jack PS I left you all my yo-yos - may they serve you well. (And if you learn how to do 'Walk the Dog' when I couldn't - after years of practice - I'll wipe the floor with... I mean, I bow to your greater yo-yo-ness.) Jack

He flipped the page again, and kept writing.

Teal'c,

To the only Jaffa I will ever completely trust. I'll never forget that you're even on Earth because of my puny little watch. Remember that? Me and Daniel and Carter were in that prison, and you came along, grabbed my wrist (that hurt, by the way) and you rumbled 'This is not Goa'uld technology!' And then you asked us where we're from. I answered 'Chicago.' But I guess that didn't help. Daniel had to draw the Earth symbol in the dirt for you to understand. (I would have never thought of doing that. He's smart that way. But don't let that go to his head.)

I'll also never forget that you're even on Earth because of me... us... SG-1. You're the reason we met Master Bra'tac. Rya'c. I hardly knew Drey'ac (did I spell that right? Can't remember how just now. Must be the lack of oxygen) Except to know that she was a hell of a woman. Like her husband. Kick some Goa'uld butt and take some names, T. You've earned it. You're the greatest Shol'va out there. Be proud of it - I am. Jack

And he turned to yet another fresh page in order to write another letter.

General Hammond,

Sorry if I've been nothing but a pain in the ass all these years, Sir. You already know about how it was an honor to serve with you, and all that. You're the best damned CO I've ever had. And the most patient. You haven't once told me off like I know you want to. You're the king of restraint. I appreciate it, even though I don't often act like it. Watch after Carter and Daniel for me, but don't let them know you're watching out for them. They wouldn't like it (independent, and all that). Don't let Teal'c be too keen on dying all the time (isn't that Daniel's gig, anyway?) He has a blind spot for the dying thing. Give my regards to Jacob. Tell Selmak that he's my favorite Tok'ra. Pat yourself on the back for a base well run. Spit on Kinsey, and say it's from me. If I'm already dead, he can't kill me. And besides, it will be so satisfying for you!

Lead on, oh General!

Jack - Colonel O'Neill. Two Ls.
Another page, another letter.
Doc. Fraiser,

Ah, Napoleon! My favorite Infirmary person. The one with the really big needles. Poke someone for me, in the butt, really hard. Give Cass a hug from me. Pet the dog. Throw my medical file into the lake and watch it sink from all that weight. You've pulled me through I don't know how many terrible problems. We think you can fix anything. The thing is, you can. I'd miss you if you weren't on base, taking my blood that one last time. You've pulled my ass out of so many fires over the years... And put up with my grumping. Which can't have been easy. I'd say you're the best, but you own all those big needles. So I'll just say you're the best, and leave it at that.

Jack O'Neill

Once again, a clean page stared up at him, but this time Jack paused in order to think before he started writing. This could very well be his most difficult letter to write, after all. This situation bore some thinking before he set pen to paper once again. He didn't want to totally screw it up. These might be his last words to Carter.

With that sobering thought, he collected his wits as best he could, and started his last letter.

Sam - Carter - Sam, I left you for last, so if I sound kind of loopy in this letter, and would never say something like I just said, it's the lack of oxygen thing (what's that called? I knew you would know) In fact, I left you for last just so I might say something that I might not normally say. I know that I can write anything - I trust you with not saying anything to anybody. You're that kind of person. Follow the rules until it hurts. That's my Sam. It's hurting me, ya know?

Scratch that last. This isn't meant to get all maudlin on you. This is meant to be... I don't know what it's meant to be. A big confession? A big waste of your time... not. You're the best, Sam, but you already know that. It was an honor, and all that stuff, but you know that it really WAS/IS an honor serving with you. I didn't want you on my team at first, but not because you're a woman. I said when we met that I like women (remember that?) What I really meant, but couldn't say was that I liked you, woman or not, scientist or not. But I couldn't say that. So I didn't. But now I did. It was too soon to say something like that then anyway. You probably would have just arm wrestled me till it hurt for being fresh with you. You're the person I want to get stuck with in Antarctica. (And yes, that is not my sidearm) I'll always think the whole Universe is in your eyes.

Kick the ass of the next person to not let you do your technotalk thing, even if it's me. I like it when you kick my ass. I thank false gods every day that your reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside. (My fondest memory!)

Your Jack

There, that hadn't been so bad. Though just like he'd expected, he had screwed it up before he even got passed the greeting. But he had fixed it... then changed his mind again. Oh well, he wasn't going to change his mind yet again, or chicken out at this late moment.

To that end, he grabbed all the letters and ripped the pages out of the notebook. He carefully collected them into a bundle, then folded them as tightly as he could, and slipped the square of letters into the crack between his seat and the edge of the craft, well out of sight. A person would have to go over the ship with a fine toothed comb to find them again. Jack knew that scenario wasn't likely to happen - if this spaceship was ever recovered, it would most likely be scrapped, and plans for a new ship begun. He felt that by hiding the letters where he had, he was home free - no one would ever find them there.

By now, Jack was definitely having trouble breathing. He was starting to get a headache. Maybe he should try to sleep? He couldn't remember if sleeping saved on oxygen or not. It couldn't hurt to try, he figured.

With thoughts of Sam warming him (he refused to think that he'd taken another leak) he closed his eyes and drifted off to dreams of Carter.

And just like in all his dreams, she saved his worthless ass once again. But he knew she would. It was what she did, what they all did. After all, they were SG-1. Enough said.

The End


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