TITLE: Out of Nothing AUTHOR: ShooteM EMAIL: ag4bk@juno.com CATEGORY: H/C SEASON: After season 4 RATING: PG SUMMARY: Jack hurts and thinks. DISCLAIMER: Many thanks and credit to Jim Steinman for writing the lyrics and to Air Supply for bringing them to life. Stargate SG-1 and its characters are owned by MGM/UA, Gekko, and Double Secret Productions. This was written for entertainment only, no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement was intended. AUTHOR'S NOTES: You might want to listen to the song first; after all it was the inspiration.

He just had to get away. Too much had been required, too much had been taken out if his soul. Decisions had to be made. Tough decisions, with consequences. He made them. He always did. The toll on him was never light. Yet he forced the tears and emotions back down. Deep inside. He had to, after all this time the grief of the most recent loss was as keen as the first. And each one took a little bit more of his soul. Made his heart a little colder, a little harder. Made his despair a little deeper.

The mission had been the same as so many lately. Follow up on intelligence that the Goa'uld were advancing. They had gone to investigate and determine the threat to earth. And along the way they were expected to help all those subjugated peoples. They were all humans, weren't they? Well, mostly. But they all deserved to live their lives, raise families, and grow old. Hell, they deserved to have a little bit of joy in their lives. And love.

So SG-1and 3 had gone to the planet. The intel was right on. A small force of Jaffa had been sent ahead to determine whether a mining operation was feasible. Villagers were being herded around like sheep. The strong ones imprisoned, the weak used as playthings. The opposing force of Jaffa was only a dozen or so men, and with luck and help from the villagers O'Neill and his teams had successfully neutralized them. Or so they thought. O'Neill and Carter were sitting with the village elders deciding what to do next and what threat still existed. Daniel, and the others were outside, Teal'c standing at the door, forever watchful.

The children saw them first. The gliders came out of nowhere, silent at first like great birds of prey circling on the rising air currents. Then they swooped down, intending to destroy anything and everything that moved. Teal'c alerted O'Neill and since the villagers were already together in the meeting hall it was decided to make a run for the Stargate. O'Neill ordered Carter and Daniel to take the lead to the 'Gate and dial it up. Daniel went through to alert General Hammond and Carter stayed by the 'Gate encouraging the villagers to make haste. The SG-3 team split up and quickly checked all the homes providing cover fire as needed. O'Neill and Teal'c took up the six making sure no stragglers were left behind.

The evac seemed to go off without a hitch. Oh, there were a few bruises and light injuries, but the seventy or so people got through. Carter called to her Colonel and Teal'c to come on in as the marine unit went through. Still firing and being fired upon they ran toward the 'Gate. As they reached the last few steps O'Neill shouted, "Go! Go!" Carter ducked through and Teal'c was beside her still firing his staff weapon. As O'Neill made it to the event horizon he turned to fire one last volley as he backed through. Then he saw them.

Dirty faces, mussed hair, dark shining eyes. Three children had been hiding behind a fallen log and peeked out. The eldest was hugging the two younger tightly. She looked straight into O'Neill's eyes, her own eyes wide as saucers with fear. Her mouth opened slightly and she reached one hand out toward him. But it was too late; his momentum was already carrying him through the shimmering surface. A flash of white and yellow engulfed those eyes as the village quickly faded from his view. Then the serene blue of the wormhole. It was the longest trip he had ever taken in his life. When he emerged Hammond was already giving the order to close the iris.

O'Neill ran through the crowd of people and confusion. Everyone was happy and relieved except one hysterical woman, screaming and crying, reaching back to the 'Gate. He knew in an instant she was the mother.

He looked away and sought out the General. "We've got to go back! We've got to go back right now!" He yelled over the commotion.

Hammond was trying to take in the events of the past few minutes and stared at his 2IC. "What possibly for? You just barely got here yourself Colonel."

Jack was adamant. "We didn't get them all. I've got to go back. General, please."

It was rare, no unheard of for the Colonel to beg and it took Hammond a moment to respond. The men stared at each other then Hammond said, "You know I can't let you do that."

The Colonel took a step forward and just for an instant the General thought O'Neill might take a swing at him. O'Neill looked to the ground, "Sir. I've got to..."

Hammond cut him off. "In my office right now airman!"

O'Neill complied and when there told the General about seeing the children. He shifted in his chair and stared at the floor waiting for Hammond's answer. "I'll give you this much, Jack. We've got a MALP still there. After the room is cleared we'll reopen the wormhole and reestablish communications. But under no circumstances are you to go through until when and if I say so."

It took several minutes to clear the gateroom and the whole time O'Neill was reliving those last few moments, over and over. Those pleading dark eyes haunted him. Finally the address was dialed and the gate opened. The MALP transmission showed total devastation but no current activity. Hammond allowed O'Neill and Teal'c to go back and recon the area. They found nothing but burned out buildings and scorched ground. Even the fallen log had been disintegrated leaving charred marks behind. O'Neill had knelt there for a moment, touching a small depression in the ground, the size of a child's hand.

O'Neill and Teal'c returned through the Stargate and slowly descended the metal ramp, their heavy boots thudding as they walked. With a stare toward the control room and a slow shake of his head O'Neill communicated to Hammond that there were in fact, no survivors.

He stood under the beating of a hot shower much longer than was necessary, allowing the dirt and sooty carbon remains of weapons fire to be washed away. It couldn't wash his soul clean though, and he placed one hand against the misted over tile, supporting his weight. He wasn't thinking, wasn't feeling right then. He stared at his fingers on the wall. His knuckles were slightly bruised from where he'd punched a wall earlier and stung under the warmth of the water.

He forced himself to move, mechanically, to go through the motions of drying off, getting dressed and leaving the locker room and getting away from his pain.

So now O'Neill just drove. He couldn't get off the base fast enough. The refugees were being cared for, the debreifing was done, and medical was deferred for now as his team had no obvious injuries and the villagers needed to be seen to first.

It was well after midnight and his thoughts were of what he could have done differently to change the outcome. What he had missed. His well-learned instinct had kicked in when the attack began. He had given orders to his teams and villagers alike. And the orders had been followed. The orders were obviously at fault. The orders that came from him.

His truck came to a stop at the end of the dirt road he'd traveled so often. He didn't remember driving there. It was a spot away from lights, high and cleared of trees where the stars were always bright. He turned off the ignition and just sat there, numb. He needed to grieve, get it out, but he'd already shut down everything but the anger he felt toward himself. There was nothing left.

The stars were no comfort tonight; circling one of them three souls were released from their corporeal bodies far too soon. He closed his eyes and let out in a deep breath, "Why?"

He hated himself at that moment. There was so much he knew, so much experience he could draw from, but it had done no good and the innocent had paid for it. He pounded the steering wheel with his fist. Special ops for ten years and he couldn't pull off a simple evac. He knew how to fight, plan, scheme and even steal and lie, if it was called for. He always knew the name of the game. Knew the rules and how to break them and always come out on top. Make the other guy stumble first. Knew when to come out fighting and when to crawl away and disappear. But how to recover from this...he did not know.

The responsibility was his. Alone. He was finding it hard to breathe so he got out of the truck and slammed the door. He stumbled away a few yards and dropped to his knees in the soft grass. "Oh, God" he cried out. It hurt so bad. He stared up into the night sky feeling the moisture in his eyes. But he couldn't cry. He was too empty, too far into the pit.

He heard the vehicle coming up behind him but ignored it. Maybe they'd go away. He wasn't going to talk to anyone right now. Softly footsteps came up beside him. He stared forward into the dark trees. A hand touched his shoulder. He winced slightly. "Go away." His voice sounded like a growling animal.

Carter knelt down beside him and spoke softly. "General Hammond told me what happened, with the children." His only acknowledgement was a sudden inhale and a shiver. "Sir, we all did our best, you did your best. There will never be a 'textbook mission.' You cannot account for every variable and be everywhere at once." He turned his head away. He did 'his best'. What a lame excuse, it made him sick.

"Major, please leave."

"No sir, I won't. I know you a beating yourself up over this and I won't let you keep going." She moved to kneel in front of him and could see his face lit by the stars and moonlight. She looked down for a moment then back to his eyes. She could feel the sadness and emptiness there. "You really don't know who you are, do you?"

"Carter, I know exactly who and what I am. I'm the one who got those kids killed. I've got all this training and experience and ability. And where did it get those kids. Dead. It should have been me." He stood and stalked back to the truck.

Carter rose and followed him. "That is not true, Sir."

He turned and leaned back against the door arms folded across his chest. He stared at her, defying her. She took the opportunity to continue. " Yes, you have training and abilities I can't even guess at. Hell, you have more instinct in your little finger than half the US military all put together. You're not perfect but you have something that puts you over the top."

"What's that, Carter? Tell me." His voice full of sarcasm.

"Okay, I will." She squared her shoulders and looked deep into his eyes. "You love. You hold your emotions so tightly in check because you care about everyone around you so much. You never put yourself first. You care for people you don't know anything about, except maybe, that they need help."

Her head dropped for a moment then she continued quietly, " You love unconditionally. More than anyone I've ever known. You stand up to all the hate and evil in this world and every other world too. You chase all the demons and monsters away like some kind of knight with a sword. You're everyone's hero, always coming to the rescue." Her voice quivered but she continued. "And I am the most privileged person I know because you allow me to share who you are." Her voice now just a whisper.

His shoulders dropped and he leaned toward her slightly. Their eyes stayed locked onto each other. He inclined his head slightly to one side and reached his hand out, touching her cheek gently. Wiping away the glistening tears there. "Sam, I..."

She fell into his arms laying her head on his shoulder. She couldn't take those sad brown eyes any longer. He held her tightly, rubbing his cheek into the hair on top of her head. No words needed to be spoken. Then he felt it. Love was there. He had somehow forgotten, somehow lost it in despair. She brought it back to him.

His heart was ripping open and every painful memory came to the surface. Charlie. Prison in Iraq. The times Sam or Daniel or Teal'c had been almost killed. Long nights sitting beside their beds. The haunting faces of three nameless children.

She felt him shudder and heard a quiet sob. The fact this hero wasn't invincible made him all the more real. She tightened her arms around him and smiled. She could feel his heart beating strong and true.

He didn't know how she did it and he didn't really care. It was as though a bright beacon of light had been lit in the deepest pit of darkness he'd ever faced. He knew he was going to make it, they all were. They held each other for a long time, comforting and comforted. Loving and loved. When they parted, they both knew they'd touched a little piece of eternity.

MAKING LOVE OUT OF NOTHING AT ALL Air Supply Written by: Jim Steinman

I know just how to whisper And I know just how to cry I know just where to find the answers And I know just how to lie I know just how to fake it And I know just how to scheme I know just when to face the truth And then I know just when to dream And I know just where to touch you And I know just what to prove I know when to pull you closer And I know when to let you loose And I know the night is fading And I know the time's gonna fly And I'm never gonna tell you everything I've gotta tell you But I know I've gotta give it a try And I know the roads to riches And I know the ways to fame I know all the rules and then I know how to break 'em And I always know the name of the game But I don't know how to leave you And I'll never let you fall And I don't know how you do it

Making love out of nothing at all Out of nothing at all, out of nothing at all Out of nothing at all, out of nothing at all Out of nothing at all Making love out of nothing at all

Everytime I see you all the rays of the sun are Streaming through the waves in your hair And every star in the sky is taking aim at Your eyes like a spotlight The beating of my heart is a drum, and it's lost And it's looking for a rhythm like you You can take the darkness at the pit of the night And turn into a beacon burning endlessly bright I've gotta follow it 'cause everything I know Well, it's nothing 'til I give it to you I can make the runner stumble I can make the final block I can make every tackle at the sound of the whistle I can make all the stadiums rock I can make tonight forever Or I can make it disappear by the dawn I can make you every promise that has ever been made And I can make all your demons be gone But I'm never gonna make it without you Do you really wanna see me crawl And I'm never gonna make it like you do

Making love out of nothing at all Out of nothing at all, out of nothing at all Out of nothing at all, out of nothing at all Out of nothing at all, out of nothing at all Out of nothing at all