TITLE: The Memory Burns
STORY STATUS: Complete
SEQUEL/SERIES INFO: None
SEASON: Seven, but kinda AU (No Jonas . sorry)
SPOILERS: Divide & Conquer, Entity
CATEGORIES: Angst, Romance
PAIRINGS: Sam & Jack
CONTENT WARNINGS: None
SUMMARY: Jack must come to terms with a decision that has harmed the rest
ARCHIVE PERMISSIONS: Dyiallias II, Jackfic, All others please ask.
DISCLAIMER: Sadly the Stargate and it's characters don't belong to me, but
are the property of Showtime, Gekko, MGM . hence I don't not earn money
from posting this, I just wrote it for pure entertainments value. Blah Blah
FILE SIZE: 75k
STORY URL: None
AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is a response to a sentence opener challenge that was
posted to one of the lists, and for the life of me I can't which remember
I gotta thank Tara, not only for Betaing, but for putting up with my
persistence to write this when we have a couple of stories on the
backburner that we *should* be working on. Getting on to it now babe, I
The Memory Burns
The memory burns, searing itself into my consciousness so I can't forget
it, ever. Quite honestly, I don't think I will ever *want* to forget.
That in itself is a first for me. I always prided myself on the fact that
I could hide my feelings, forget about my problems. But I'm responsible
for my actions; I'm culpable to the fact that my friends are now lying in
the Infirmary fighting for their lives and for what?
My pride, that's what.
I have been lying on my cot, unable to sleep, going over everything that
happened today. Trying to think of some way that I could have handled
things differently. I can't think of anything, except for the obvious. No
matter how many times I run the scenario over in my head I can't think of
another way, other than the one thing that I had refused to do.
I can't bring myself to go down to the Infirmary. I can't bear to leave
the sanctuary of my quarters. To see the accusing stares of my colleagues,
my friends. I disregarded the advice and reservations of my team and in
doing so caused them to be injured.
I deserve the looks I get.
I deserve their distain, their anger. I feel the same things for myself,
of myself. How could I have been so irresponsible? How could I have
endangered them all in this way, so carelessly and recklessly? Daniel in
this way? Teal'c? Or worse still, Carter?
I sit up, scrubbing a hand through my already tousled hair, not really
caring if it came out looking worse or not. It couldn't look as bad as the
condition my team was in. Teal'c, at least, had been released to his
quarters with strict orders to Kel'no'reem. The same couldn't be said for
Daniel and Carter. The last time I saw them they still hadn't woken up,
and both had their fair share of breaks and bruises.
All I want to do is go home, to sit down in my favorite armchair with a
bottle of beer. But I can't, there's no way I could leave without knowing
that they were going to be okay. I *had* to know that they were going to
be all right. I wanted to be there to meet the accusatory looks in their
And I want to apologize. I want to tell them that I should never have
doubted their judgment. I should have valued their opinions and listened
to their doubts, like I had so often in the past. I should have listened to
my heart instead of my gut and my foolish head.
I should have listened to *them*.
The phone next to my bed gives out a shrill ring, startling me from my self-
depreciating musings. I reach out and quickly pull it from its cradle,
wanting nothing more than to put an end to the horrible sound it's making.
"O'Neill," my voice comes out in a harsh bark, even though I hadn't really
meant it to sound that way. Well, not really.
I listened silently as Doc Fraiser announced herself. To my ears her voice
seems brusque, maybe even a little angry, like she was quietly wishing that
I was down there in the Infirmary so she could stick her needles
relentlessly into my flesh as a way of punishing me.
She didn't need to. I was doing well enough on my own on the punishment
front, thank you very much.
"Daniel's conscious," she tells me, a little too bluntly for my liking.
"He's asking for you."
My momentary relief is quickly overtaken by dread. He wants to see me?
All I can think of is that this can't be good, there was absolutely no way
this was going to be good. And I deserve every last bit of what I was to
receive down there.
I was about to hang up the phone when a nagging thought popped into my
head, a nagging fear of something I had been trying to not think about.
But I couldn't dismiss the fact that there was one other person that Janet
had neglected to mention, which could only mean one thing, but I had to ask
"What about Carter?"
My voice sounds husky to my own ears, and the Doc is perceptive enough that
she no doubt noticed it. Hell, of course she noticed it.
A soft sigh is issued through the receiver, answering my silent thoughts.
When she responds her tone is softer, more caring. "She's still the same,
I close my eyes at her reply and make a sound deep in my throat, a sound
full of my anger and self-loathing. Of all the members of my team, it's
her that I would punish myself most for putting into harms way. She, above
them all, was the one that had my total and complete trust, among other
And she was the one that I had disregarded first.
"I'll be right down," I manage to mutter past the lump that has suddenly
formed in my throat, and hanging up the phone.
Sometimes, I hate my job.
My eyes are drawn to the entranceway to the Infirmary as I hear heavy
footsteps enter through it. I know who it is immediately; after all, it
was me that had requested him to come down here.
I take a moment to study him, my eyes still a little grainy from my long,
imposed, slumber and the unforgiving pounding in my head. His hands are
buried deep in his pockets, his shoulders slumped slightly, enough for me
to notice. He has his perfect mask in place, but for once it isn't as
perfect as he might like to think and as his eyes slide to Sam, still
unconscious on the gurney next to mine, it slips slightly.
I can see the guilt glinting in his eyes, the anger at himself, the
recrimination, but I can't make myself feel pity for him. He should have
listened to me, and Sam. He's always listened in the past, but for some
reason that I would probably never understand, he chose today of all days
to ignore us. And it almost proved fatal.
"I see you walked away without even a scratch to show for it," I spit,
unable to keep the cold scorn from my voice.
Jack blinks, finally reaching my bedside, and a haunted look fills his eyes
as he glances over at Sam again before looking back at me. His eyes drop
to quickly examine me, and all my visible injuries, the most noticeable of
which is the heavy white cast that my left wrist is encased in. Finally,
he looks up to meet my eyes.
To his credit, he barely flinches when his eyes greet the anger and
disappointment in mine. He looks ready to face whatever I might throw in
his direction, and I have a fleeting feeling that he won't try to defend
himself either. He looks like he has actually accepted that he was the one
in the wrong.
And that's a first for Jack O'Neill.
It makes it difficult to stay angry at him. Almost. If it hadn't been for
the fact that I had entrusted him with my life and he'd flagrantly
disregarded it. I can't forgive that as easily as I might like. And it
looks to me that he's not expecting me to forgive him any time soon.
How can you expect someone to forgive you if you're not willing to forgive
Jack still hadn't said a word and as a result the tension in the room is
rapidly becoming thicker and almost unbearable. I'm not about to say
anything, it's not up to me to break the ice, and there is only one
sentence that is actually going to break it. I have serious doubts that he
would even entertain uttering that sentence.
"I'm sorry Daniel," Jack's voice sounds raw, pained, and not just because
it was a hard thing for him to say. He really *is* sorry. "I should have
trusted you. I should have listened to you and Carter."
The sincerity in his voice is nearly enough to make me forgive him on the
spot, but I'm still angry. I'm disappointed in him, and as petty as it may
seem, I feel a little betrayed by him. In recent years he's never made me
feel as tiny and insignificant as he did today. Because of that I'm not
feeling in any way inclined to accept his apology as readily as he might
"Yes, you should have," I mutter angrily, breaking eye contact to look at
Sam, who is still sleeping soundly, or so I thought until I saw one of her
eyes open slightly and the almost imperceptible shake of her head. "But
you didn't and look what happened!"
"You don't need to remind me," he snarls through clenched teeth, "I've only
spent the last few hours torturing myself about it."
I try to show disinterest in what he's telling me. Jack having regrets on
a command decision? Jack actually admitting that he regretted what
happened? It's almost too unbelievable to true, but one look at him cement
"So why didn't you listen to us in the first place? It would have
prevented any of this happening!"
Jack flinches and looks down at his feet. "I just . I needed to get back."
"Back for what?" I ask, my voice rising in confusion. What could be more
important than a mission?
His eyes meet mine, a look of steel in them, a flash of fury before his
mask snaps into place and he's completely shut off to me. "That's none of
your business," he snaps irritably. Turning sharply on his heel, he stalks
out of the Infirmary without a backwards glance.
I can only sit there, stunned, and watch as his back disappears into the
corridor. Great. What the hell was that about?
A small, irritated, sigh draws my attention back to Sam as she raises
herself up on an elbow. "That was tactful, Daniel. Wasn't an apology
coming from him enough to placate you?"
Her tone is mildly scolding and painfully condescending, and I know that I
deserve the scorn. It isn't often that Jack O'Neill apologizes, and I all
but threw it back in his face. But that still doesn't explain his reaction
to my tactless questioning.
"So why did he do *that* then?" I asked, referring both to him stalking out
of the Infirmary and his behavior during the mission.
"You don't know?" Sam asks, exasperated. "It's the anniversary of
Charlie's death, Daniel!"
Now, I feel like the biggest ass on this and any other planet.
I watch as the shock registers on Daniel's face from what I have just told
him. How had he not known? I'd always thought that the Colonel and Daniel
were best friends, and yet Daniel had not known this one, simple, fact.
And I had.
Was it possible that I was the only person that knew that I was the only
person that Colonel O'Neill had told? Knowing the man for as long as I
guess it isn't completely surprising. It was only purely by accident that
I had found out myself, but for some reason I had just assumed that Daniel
would know. I guess I'd been wrong.
We lapse into an awkward silence as I'm not really willing to talk, and I
can tell by the look on his face that Daniel feels like a total ass, but I
know it's only a matter of time before two questions leave his mouth, and
they're both questions that I'm not really willing to answer. At least not
here, in the Infirmary, on the base.
"Why didn't you want him to know you were awake?"
At his question I let my eyes slide shut and a small sigh escapes my lips.
That was question one, but at least it was the easier of the two to answer.
"I didn't want his apologies just yet. It's my duty to follow his orders,
and his choice to ignore my arguments and recommendations if he chooses.
It doesn't mean I want to forgive him just yet, and I would have to do it
if he apologized."
It isn't an outright lie, but it wasn't exactly the full truth either.
Daniel seemed to accept my explanation readily. I couldn't help feeling a
slight pang of guilt that I hadn't been one hundred percent honest with my
friend, but I couldn't be. Hell, I couldn't even be honest with myself.
I roll over so my back is to him, my vain attempt to show that the
conversation is over, and he seems to take the hint. I bite my lip against
the sharp sting of pain that the movement causes, having forgotten that my
leg was firmly encased in a sheath of plaster, and the agonizing, breath-
taking, sting that could only be a broken rib, or two. The pain only
serves to intensify my anger towards my CO.
I can understand why he acted the way he did, and I will never blame him
for trying to rush the mission. Unlike Daniel, I don't have the pleasure
of not being able to forgive him. This is my job, the Colonel is my
commanding officer, and if I wasn't to forgive him it would affect our
relationship and the harmony of the team. But I trust him, a lot more than
I should, and I know I always will.
He broke that trust. He had to have known that his decision would have an
adverse affect. He had to have known, given our arguments, and yet he
still chose to make the decision that would ultimately end in harm to us.
It's a difficult thing to have your trust betrayed in such a way,
especially by a man that I respect and car for so much.
The worst part of it all is that when I do see him, when he does apologize,
I will forgive him on the spot, despite my anger and pain, because he has
that power over me. I can't stay angry with him, just like he can't stay
angry with me. So I would prefer not to face him for the moment, and to
harbor my hurt for as long as I can.
So instead, I will lie here and pretend to be asleep until I can pretend no
longer. And then I will face him. In my own time and at my own pace. I
will face him, and tell him exactly how he hurt me, and accept his apology
like a good 2IC.
It isn't until I'm two corridors away from the Infirmary that I finally
realized what I'd done. I groan, deep in my throat and consider smacking
my head against the wall, until I realize that the act would be pointless,
and painful. However, the idea is still tempting.
I'd blown it. It was so typical really, that I went in there with my heart
on my sleeve, prepared to do something that I don't often to - to admit
that I was wrong, and to apologize. But Daniel had to go and ask the
question that would get under my skin, even if he hadn't known that it
would. In fact, only one member of my team knew about it . and she was
My anger at his questioning quickly dissipates as I stand there in the
corridor trying to decide what I'm going to do now. Given that I'm still
feeling excessively guilty for my actions on the planet, I can only see one
option open to me. So I turn around and begin walking back to the
Infirmary, and mentally prepare myself to grease like I've never greased
I pause outside the doorway to the Infirmary in an attempt to compose
myself. The sound of voices greets my ears, and my heart begins to pound
harder when I recognize one of the voices as Carter's. So she *is* awake,
which only brings me to question why she was pretending to be asleep while
I was in there. I think I know, though, and I sure as hell can't blame
her. I'd be angry too if I was her.
Curious to know what they are discussing, especially after I hear my name
mentioned, I lean in closer to the door. The words I hear hit me like a
slap to the face.
"Why didn't you want him to know you were awake?" Daniel asks her quietly,
his curiosity obvious.
Carter's reply is slow to come, as if she is trying to decide what is more
appropriate to tell him, and when she speaks her voice is quiet and pained,
"I didn't want his apologies just yet. It's my duty to follow his orders,
and his choice to ignore my arguments and recommendations if he chooses.
It doesn't mean I want to forgive him just yet, and I would have to do it
if he apologized."
I let out a small gasp at the vulnerability and hurt in her voice. I did
this to her, I hurt her in this way. I know she hasn't told Daniel half of
what she's feeling, I know she can't even admit to feeling half those
things, but at least I can acknowledge how deeply my actions have affected
her, and at least I know now. And now I can act on it accordingly and do
the most difficult thing - apologize for my actions on a personal level,
rather than just a professional level. She deserves nothing less.
Taking a deep breath, I step back into the Infirmary, as I notice their
conversation seems to be over. My eyes instantly drift to Carter, noticing
her lying with her back to Daniel, but in such a way that I can see her
face, and her blatant attempt at pretending to be asleep. That in itself
cuts me like a knife. I'm used to seeing her look at me when I enter the
same room; I'm used to her greeting me with one of her beautiful, warm,
smiles. But not this time.
I look at Daniel, to find him looking back at me, the anger all but gone
from his face. I knew, the moment I heard that she was awake, that Sam
would have told him about the importance of today, and why I had reacted
the way that I had. I could only hope that he didn't inquire too deeply
into how she knew about it when I had never even mentioned it to him. I
know her well enough to trust that she didn't divulge too much. It's not
like we've ever done anything even remotely wrong anyway, but it doesn't
mean we want our actions questioned.
"I'm sorry, Daniel," I tell my friend as I near his bedside. Out of the
corner of my eye I notice Sam stiffen slightly as I speak, before I turn my
full attention back to Daniel. "I'm an ass. I didn't mean to fly off the
handle like that."
Daniel is silent for so long, his face completely unreadable that I begin
to wonder whether this was all the reply I'm going to get. Finally, as I
prepare myself to turn and leave, he looks up at me with that big blue
puppy dog eyes look that he's mastered. "Why didn't you tell me?"
I can't help but sigh as I shift my feet and run a hand through my hair.
"It's not exactly the sort of thing that you'd bring up in a normal
conversation Daniel. Oh, by the way, did you know that the anniversary of
my son killing himself with my gun is today?" I say with more than a little
Okay, as evidenced by my tone of voice, it's still a touchy subject for me,
but I think given the circumstances it's understandable really and Daniel,
at least, manages to look reasonably abashed. "Good point," he says
I nod my head and shove my hands in my pockets. Now that the apology is
out of the way I'm not sure what to do next. Do I apologize again to
reinforce myself? Do I stay silent and wait for him to say something else?
Or do I leave? I can still see the tenseness in the set of his shoulders.
I can tell that he is still angry with me, though not nearly as angry as
when I had first walked into the Infirmary.
Now, he understood. He knew why my actions had been so ignorant and fool-
hardy on that planet, and why I had acted the way that I did. He may not
understand it, and he might not ever understand, but at least he knows.
And I have Carter to thank for taking the step that was to difficult for me
to take in telling him.
"So, uh," I start awkwardly. "I guess I should go and let you get some
rest before the Doc has my ass. I have to start on the mission report
Daniel is watching me with wide-eyed innocence. He blinks quickly and
licks his lips, a faint smile gathering on his lips. "Sure. Thank you,
I shrug, suddenly feeling a little uncomfortable. The thought that any one
might pity me nearly drives me insane, and the last thing I want is for my
friends to pity me. I don't pity myself, so why should they. "You don't
have to thank me. I should have told you sooner. I should have told you
"Well, at least I know now."
I nod, the lump that normally forms in my throat when I think of Charlie
rapidly growing. This sure as hell hadn't been the best way of mourning
Charlie, by nearly getting my friends killed in the process. "Yeah," I
mutter, shuffling my feet uncomfortably. I have to get out of here. "Well
you rest up, okay Daniel? I'll come back later."
"Okay," I hear Daniel say tiredly as I make my way out of the infirmary.
That was one apology down; the second one was going to be a lot harder to
I hate crutches.
It's now my firm belief that whoever invented them should have gotten one
shoved firmly up his . nose. The stupid things were never designed with
people with broken ribs in mind. I only realize this as I stagger on the
damn things trying to get into my office whilst attempting to carry a cup
of coffee at the same time.
And the pain is horrible.
I bite my lip, but a strangled groan of pain manages to escape, and nearly
jump out of my skin as a pair of hands settles on my waist to help me keep
my balance. I manage to freeze, although my first instinct was to jerk out
of the unexpected grip. Thankfully I did suppress my instincts or else I
would have ended up flat on my face, and no doubt back in the Infirmary.
The Colonel's concern seemed heartfelt, his voice cast low, and despite
myself it sent a little involuntary shiver down my spine. He's always had
that effect on me, and I've given up trying to suppress it from myself when
it is so difficult to hide it from him too.
My first instinct is to respond angrily, to take out my surprise on him.
But I'm not angry at him any longer. I can never stay angry at him. It's
my greatest flaw, and my greatest asset. I am not governed by my feelings,
and I will never let them rule me, but at least it offers me a little more
lenience when I do disagree with him.
At least I can forgive him easier than I could anyone else.
His hands are still resting on my waist, making my heart palpitate
erratically. I turn my head and meet his eyes for the first time since our
return from P4C-732. The concern in his eyes is overwhelming and my breath
catches. I can see his guilt and his desire for me to forgive him. I can
see the pain. He's often let me read him at times like this, and it's
something I appreciate about him.
"Are you alright Carter?" he asks, his voice rising in pitch and I suddenly
remember that I forgot to answer him the first time he asked me.
He still hasn't moved his hands, and I'm finding it difficult to form a
response. Damn the man for affecting me like this. Damn him for focusing
those worried brown eyes on me, and for making me feel this way.
"Yeah," I manage to croak out; hoping that he would assume it was pain that
had given rise to the raspiness in my voice, and not his closeness to me.
His eyes narrow, showing me that he doesn't believe my assurance. What was
I going to tell him? Actually no sir, I feel like crap? Yeah that would
work. Not. Instead I roughly shove my mug of coffee towards him. His
hands disappear from my waist, and I can't help the little swell of
disappointment that accompanies it.
A small smile appears on his face as he takes the mug from me, but he
suddenly looks uneasy as he turns and shuffles into my lab, opening the
door wider as he walks through. I hobble slowly after him, every step
forward jarring my ribs, and making my aching hands hurt even more. I have
no idea how I'm going to survive six weeks using these things. I exhale
sharply through my teeth as I drop myself down on the chair that the
Colonel pulled out for me.
I can feel his eyes on me, watching me. I can almost feel his concern
radiating across the room to me from where he is standing.
"Are you sure you're all right?"
I can't help but sigh as he asks the question for a third time in less than
five minutes. I know he means well, but frankly, it's annoying. "I'm
fine, sir," I snap, a little irritably, "I'm as well as I can be."
My mouth snaps shut as I realize the implications of what I just said. I
look in his direction in time to see his face fall before he looks down at
his feet. Now I feel rotten. Could I have been any bitchier? "Colonel, I
. I didn't mean that the way it sounded," I stammer. "I mean . I'm sorry."
The Colonel raises his head sharply, his eyes flashing with some emotion I
can't discern. He moves so suddenly it startles me, crossing the room and
quickly closing the door to give us some privacy. He turns back to me
slowly, like he's trying to recompose himself before he faces me again.
It's only when he faces me again that I see it is the opposite, and the raw
emotion on his face is astounding.
"You don't need to apologize to me Carter," he tells me quietly. "It
should be the other way round. It's my fault you're in this state . I came
here to apologize to you."
"You don't have to apologize to me," I tell him matter-of-factly. It's
true after all. He doesn't have to apologize.
His eyes flash as he licks his lips nervously. "No, I don't *have* to
apologize, but I *want* to. I *need *to."
*Wow*. This is not the Colonel Jack O'Neill I know. The Jack O'Neill I
know rarely feels the need to apologize; in fact, I can't even remember the
last time that he's done it.
"I need you to forgive me."
He said the last so quietly that I almost didn't hear it. My eyes shoot to
his, and could not avoid the look of desperation that I see there and the
"Why is it so important to you that I forgive you?"
The question just slips out as I think it, and before I could stop it.
Mentally I brace myself for him to turn and stalk out of my lab believing
that I had just rebuked his attempt at making an apology. Until I look
into his eyes again and see with sudden clarity that he isn't going to walk
out, and that he must have expected my unreasonable question. I see more
there than I would ever have believed possible.
"Don't you know?"
My heart stops. He isn't. He couldn't be. There's no way.
Something brushes my hand and my eyes flutter open. When did I close them?
He's leaning over me, he's so close. Closer than he's dared to get to me
in a long time. "I can't bare the thought of you hating me and blaming me
*Sam*. He said my name. I can't remember the last time my name left his
lips. My stomach flips over. "I'll never hate you Jack." I choke when I
speak his name, a word that has become completely alien to my tongue. I
might think it all the time, but it doesn't mean I can use it. "And I
don't blame you."
I watch his eyes widen as I utter his name, and I'm pretty certain he
hasn't heard anything else I said. His eyes slide shut and he seems to be
struggling for breath. Was it my words that caused this reaction in him,
or was it something as simple as my use of his name? I have the strangest
feeling that it's the latter.
As his eyes open, I am breath taken at what I see in them. I see something
I have not seen in them for a long time and that I'd believed had long been
forgotten. The power in them almost makes me want to cry, and it would
have if I was that sort of a person. It reignites the fire that I had kept
under tight control for almost three years, which I'd tried to ignore but
had never been able to.
"You have no idea how much I'd hoped you'd say that." His voice is still
almost a whisper, yet the eagerness in it is unmistakable. Again I find
myself wondering if it was merely my use of his name that incited that
reaction. "Because I'd wanted to know for sure before I went to see
I can feel my brow furrow in confusion, suddenly losing track of where this
conversation was heading. I thought he just wanted to apologize, but as I
study him I can see that he has come to some sort of decision, one that he
is happy about. "What did you want to know?" I ask, trying to fool myself
into believing that I had no inkling of what he could be talking about.
"Why are you going to see the General?"
This could not be happening. There was absolutely no way that what I
thought was happening could be happening. But one look at his face told me
that it had to be because I could still read him, and I could see the
happiness there, I could see the finality. He had made some unfathomable
"I think you know why, Sam," he said, in what seemed to be a moment of
perfect clarity, like he could see straight through to my soul and read my
thoughts. He drew closer, leaning over me so I could almost feel him
pressed against my shoulder, his breath whispering against my cheek. "And
I think you want it to happen as much as I do."
Then he was gone. I turn in time to see his back as it disappears into the
corridor beyond my Lab, my mind reeling from the events that had just taken
place. Had I been in any condition to chase after him I would have, to get
him to clarify what he had just intimated, to have him confirm that what
just happened was what I believed was happening.
I'm not stupid. I know what happened, even through all my disbelief I know
what he is about to do, and I'm not about to stop him. As always with our
screwed up relationship it's the things that are left unsaid that are the
most important, and now I know I want it as much as he does.
He is going to retire . for *me*.
I can't help but smile as I watch the expressions on General Hammond's face
rapidly change from disbelief, to shock to what I can only perceive as
anger. And that is after I state my reasons behind my current request. I
don't think they're bad reasons really, well part of it at least. The
other part I might not have put in quite the right way.
"You're in love with who?"
I can't help but flinch, my good humor rapidly giving way to mortification.
Okay, so I might have kinda mumbled the last part, and it might've kinda
come out something like 'and I have feelings for Major Curr umm err', but I
would have assumed he would have picked that up. Crap. That was the one
thing that I didn't want to have to repeat if I could help it.
But can you blame me for not wanting to disappoint the man that had become
my mentor and friend during the last seven years? Not that he would be
disappointed or anything, but the implications do make the situation look a
lot worse than it actually is. That would explain why the General now had
a bright red face and is glaring at me across his desk.
I let out a little sigh, preparing myself for the inevitable explosion.
"I'm in love with Major Carter."
He leans back in his seat, his eyes studying me intensely; his face
strangely devoid of emotion. My first thought is that he knew, and that he
had been expecting this. The second was that this was all completely new
to him, and as a result he was at a loss for words.
Until he begins to chuckle, deep in his throat, which only confirmed to me
that it was the latter. He knew, he'd probably known since the Za'tarc
testing. Hell, he'd even let on that he'd known while Carter was possessed
by that damn computer virus. But recently we'd grown so unattached and
distant in the hopes of removing that attention from ourselves.
I don't want to hide how I feel any more. I don't want the rules and
regulations to define the way I should or shouldn't feel about someone, and
I sure as hell don't want anything to try and force me into ignoring the
feelings that I can't help feeling. I love Sam Carter, and I want to be
free to pursue that love before it is ripped from me and I spent the rest
of my live regretting actions that I never took.
And I don't want to be responsible for her being torn away from me. The
same goes for my friends. We've all had far too many brushes with death
and I'm sick of it. I was sick of the stress; sick of sitting at their
bedside as they fight for their lives. That's why I'm sitting here now.
I've made my decision to put my friends before my job. They are more
important to me than any war could be.
That's why I'm here right now, after all.
Hammond still hasn't said a word, and frankly I'm getting a little worried.
I can't help but shuffle my feet as I wait for him to say something,
anything. At least he's stopped chuckling. "I must say, I've been
expecting this for some time," he says finally.
I blink in surprise. That was the last thing I'd expected him to say.
"I know how you feel about Major Carter. I'd have been blind if I didn't.
Actually, I had expected you to do this sooner," he told me, his deep,
basso voice, filling the room, and a smile lighting his face. "There's
nothing I can say to change your mind, is there?"
Despite the fact that my mind is still reeling from his humble attitude I
manage to shake my head and swallow past the lump that has formed in my
throat. "No, sir," I agree.
"Then I can't stand in your way," he says quietly, pushing his chair back
and standing up. He extend his hand out to me and I take it, shaking it
warmly. This man is more than my mentor, he's my friend. "But don't be
surprised if you get a call from me soon offering you an advisory
So that's it then. Silently he's just conveyed to me that he'll organize
all the paper work, and that effective immediately I am no longer the CO of
SG-1. My heart thuds painfully in my chest. I'm taking an enormous risk
here. I'm giving up my career for the woman I love. I'm risking
everything to the uncertainty that a new relationship brings. I'm risking
heartache, but at least I now have the chance to be with Carter.
Essentially, I am a free man.
I can't wait to be out of the room, and I think the General can see that.
He grins at me. "What are you waiting for? Go and take Major Carter home,
she's on leave for two weeks, effective immediately."
I can feel my face stretch in what must look like a really stupid grin,
release his hand, and am out of his office and half way down the corridor
before I realize I didn't even utter a word of goodbye or thank you. Oh
well, I have more pressing matters to take care of right now.
I'd always thought that when the moment came I'd be as nervous as a
teenager on his first date. Oddly enough, I feel a kind of calmness and
clarity that I never would have expected. When I step back into Carter's
lab a few minutes later, I'm aware that I am oozing a confidence that I
don't normally possess. She swivels on her chair to face me, her face
conveying her surprise, and I pause for a moment to study her, to commit to
memory everything about her at this moment, the moment before I show her
how I truly feel.
I can see the silent question in her eyes as I absently push the door
closed behind me and cross the room to stand in front of her. Though she
has to crane her neck to look up at me, her eyes hold contact with mine the
whole time. I can see her confusion, and I can see the tiny glimmer of
hope that she is trying desperately to hide. God, I love her so much.
I reach out and grip her shoulders tightly with my hands and pull her up so
she is standing in front of me, with me supporting as much of her weight as
possible. Her eyes have widened slightly, and a shy, uncomfortable, smile
is lighting her face, making her even more beautiful to my eyes. "Si-"
I can't let her talk, so I do the only thing I can think of that'll shut
her up immediately. I lean in closer and brush my lips across hers. She
freezes in my arms, stiffening for a brief moment in surprise. But I
persist, wrapping my arms around her shoulders, pulling her body closer to
mine as I deepen the kiss, my tongue demanding entry. I need to taste her
on my lips. I need to convey all my feelings in this one primal embrace.
I feel her melt into my embrace, her arms sliding up my sides to tighten
around my waist. Her mouth grants my tongue the entry that it desires.
As much as I love the feeling of the first kiss we've shared that isn't
induced by some bizarre alien virus, this is not the place that I want to
spill my heart to the woman that I love. I break the kiss, and try to
dispel the sudden disappointment that I feel as it ends. Sam's eyes drift
open, and I can see them swimming dreamily as they meet mine.
"Let's go home, Sam," I tell her, knowing that this is not the end of
things, but a new beginning.