Title: Fairytales

Author: Karen T

Rating: PG-13 (really more PG, but you'll see why I upped the rating)

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters do not belong to me.

Classification: Honestly, I haven't a clue. Angst? Drama? Future? *sigh* I think it's at least one of those.

Spoilers: None

Archive: SJD, of course. Anyone else, please ask first.

Feedback: Always appreciated. Please send to poohmusings@yahoo.com.

Notes: Thanks to Jojo for her ever-helpful mojo.

They always knew they'd never have their happy ending.

With his eyes so often cast on the night sky, perhaps Colonel Jack O'Neill would have said the relationship just wasn't in the stars.

And with her head so often swimming with formulas and data-based hypotheses, perhaps Major Samantha Carter would have said the relationship just didn't make much empirical sense.

Either way, both knew there would be no happy ending for them, regardless of what that actual ending would be.

*

There was always the distinct possibility that Jack would die in battle.

As to which battle and where this battle would occur, that didn't matter.

Jack would die in battle and be carried back through the wormhole thrown over Teal'c's shoulders.

Sam would insist on accompanying General Hammond to Mrs. O'Neill's -- Jack's mother's -- house, and would then sit uncomfortably on the couch as she watched Hammond comfort the older woman. She would force herself not to stare too long at the pictures of Jack that hung on almost every wall in every room. She would linger in the doorway to his childhood bedroom as his mother sighed deeply and mentioned how much he'd always wanted to fly as a boy. She would try not to think about how things might have been different if his son hadn't died when he did, if her mother hadn't died when she did, or if she hadn't felt the need to please her father by joining the Air Force.

She would return to the SGC with Hammond and squeeze Daniel's hand once during Jack's memorial in the gate room. She would not cry as she spoke from behind the lecture, praising her former CO's strong spirit and love for life. She would not choke on the word 'love'.

In Jack's absence, Sam would be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and learn that Jack had been fighting for her promotion for the past two years. She would tell him a silent 'thank you' when Hammond pinned the new bronze stars to her dress uniform.

She would not become the new leader of SG-1, choosing instead to focus on building a second -- and then, later, a third and a fourth -- generation of the naquadah generator that was more stable and could be more easily reproduced. She would succeed in her efforts one year after starting the project. She would only blow out the power to the SGC twice during this time.

She would not date Daniel. She would not date Teal'c. She would, however, meet a man -- several, actually -- and have marriage proposed to her once. She would consider the proposal, flipping her two choices over and over again in her mind. But then she would eventually realize that, despite how much she yearned for that house in the suburbs with the white picket fence and the two-point-five kids, she was not the marrying type. Besides, she already had a family, had always had one.

Sam would continue to work in the SGC through Hammond's retirement, Siler's marriage, Simmons's promotion, Ry'ac's arrival to the program, and Daniel's return to academia.

She would cry. She would laugh. She would fail. She would triumph.

And sometimes, when she would be working late in her lab, her eyelids weighed down with fatigue despite how flushed with anticipation her cheeks would be, Sam would sit up in her chair, arch her back to realign her spine, and allow her thoughts to wander circuitously to the could-have-beens. She would smile at these possibilities that had never played themselves out, and then chuckle as her eyes grew moist.

She would drive to her local animal shelter and adopt herself a dog.

*

There was also always the distinct possibility that Sam would die in battle.

Which was why the gas leak in her house caught everyone off-guard.

Sam would crawl into bed late one night -- or early one morning, depending on your perspective -- too exhausted to realize a crack had formed in her furnace. She would not wake up again.

Jacob would find her listless body the following afternoon when she failed to meet him for their prearranged lunch. He would cradle her in his arms and cry as Selmak allowed him to grieve without any interference from her. General Hammond would make the funeral arrangements on behalf of his old friend.

Jack would have a hard time swallowing when Hammond informed the remainder of SG-1 of what had happened. Daniel would slowly remove his glasses and rub his eyes. Teal'c would not raise an eyebrow.

Jack would get angry, cursing anyone, sparing no one: How could Carter, super smart Samantha Carter, have been so goddamn stupid as to not keep her furnace properly maintained?!

Then he would get drunk. He would get Daniel drunk. He would try to get Teal'c drunk, but would not be successful.

They, along with various other SGC members, would be pallbearers, and as Jack hoisted his share of the casket weight, he would be struck by how heavy it was, almost as if he was carrying more than Samantha Carter's body.

He would think of his son during the burial. He would think of his son a lot during the burial.

That night, he would get drunk. Again. He would try to get Daniel drunk, but Daniel would just pat his shoulder awkwardly and insist on being the designated driver. He would not try to get Teal'c drunk, but would spend a large part of the evening watching Teal'c stare stoically at his glass of water.

He would dream of his son playing in Sam's lab.

On Hammond's request, Jack would agree to take a month of paid-time-off to 'put things back in perspective'. He would fly to his cabin and spend one night there before grabbing his duffel bag and driving down the road a bit to the closest motel. He would reappear in the SGC two weeks later, silently noting with approval how Sam's lab had not been touched.

He would return to his role as the leader of SG-1. Daniel would continue to test the limits of his sanity and patience, innocently claiming it was all in the name of keeping Earth safe. Teal'c would continue to crack his odd, little jokes that made everyone shift uncomfortably in their seats until they, too, understood the punch lines.

SG-1 would initiate a new biochemist into their fold. The newcomer would laugh at Jack's jokes, listen raptly to Teal'c's tales of the Goa'uld past, and swap academic horror stories with Daniel. She and Daniel would bond almost instantaneously over tree sap found off-world. Yes, tree sap.

She would not, however, replace Sam Carter in their hearts.

Jack's knees would continue to ache, his hair would continue to gray (as would Daniel's, Jack had the pleasure of noticing), and he would eventually settle back into his groove of driving Hammond crazy, driving Daniel crazy, driving the newbie in SG-1 crazy, driving the Tok'ra crazy, mocking various Goa'ulds into a crazed frenzy, and keeping Teal'c entertained by doing all of the above.

All in all, Jack would cruise through the years with relative ease.

His appeals for time off so he could escape to his cabin and fish would become fewer in number until he would begin spending his downtime inside the SGC, just as Sam had often done. He would sit in her lab (which had unofficially been converted into a storage room of sorts) and work on mission reports, or play some new handheld electronic game, or just enjoy the silence that the lab provided. And even though Sam's equipment and files had long since been moved to other areas of the base, Jack would believe he could still feel his second-in-command's presence in the room. He would imagine her looking up from her work, smiling and shaking her head in response to some witty comment he'd made, and the image would make him smile in turn.

He would think about how proud she would have been of Cassie, who graduated from CU summa cum laude, how amused she would have been by Teal'c's disastrous attempt to grow out his hair, and how things might have been different between them if ...

Jack would pause here in his thinking, his body motionless as he wondered what exactly his mind was getting at.

And then he would chuckle as he finished his thought with 'she had grown out her hair too'.

Jack would begin taking his downtime away from the base again. And he would buy a restored 1953 Indian Chief motorcycle from a neighbor down the street despite how the damned things still scared the hell out of him.

He would store it in his garage, and he would spend a good, long minute gazing at it every time he returned home from work.

*

And then there was always the distinct possibility that Jack and Sam would die together with their hands tied behind their backs as they sat incarcerated onboard a Goa'uld ha'tak.

As a matter of fact, that distinct possibility was playing itself out now.

"... knew this was a bad idea."

Jack stopped struggling with the rope cutting into his wrists to twist his head around so he could catch a glimpse of Sam, who was struggling with her own rope bindings a couple of feet away. "This really the best time to say 'I told you so', Major?" he asked testily.

"And now that it has, we can return to our regularly scheduled program of 'When Good Goa'uld Go Bad'. Oh, no, wait. The Goa'uld are always kinky-ass bastards." When she failed to react to his sarcasm, he softly said, "Daniel and Teal'c will find us."

"But of course. Never mind they have no idea where we are and they're kind of stuck down in those Tok'ra tunnels because of the Goa'uld attack."

Jack glared at his second-in-command. "Feeling a little punchy today, aren't we, Carter?" He would have added a comment or two about her bordering on insubordination, but he supposed he was partially at fault for picking a fight with that particularly pompous Tok'ra. And that had led to SG-1's less than courteous dismissal from the base. And that had left him and Sam standing on the planet's surface, ripe for the picking, when Anubis had mounted his surprise attack.

Plus, he really didn't believe he of all people should be nitpicky when it came to matters of potential insubordination.

"And I wonder why that is, sir." Sam finally turned to fix her CO with a pointed -- very pointed -- look as she, too, gave up on unbinding her restraints.

"I apologized!" he yelped in his defense.

Sam intensified her pointed look.

"Okay, I was going to apologize. But then ships full of Jaffa swooped in. You can't hold that against me."

Sam blinked, then resumed her pointed look, this time with an added shade of blatant skepticism.

"Getting kicked out of the Tok'ra base was not my fault, Carter." Blink. Look. Skepticism. Dammit. "That guy was being difficult, and was really snotty. You have to admit he was being snotty."

"You didn't have to taunt him the way you did, sir."

"Snotty, Carter!" Jack rolled his head back and leaned it against the pillar to which he was tied. "Daniel and Teal'c will find us."

"At least you sent the two of them back to apologize for you or else they would've been captured like we were." Sam's skeptical, intense look faded away and was replaced by one of determination as she went back to tugging on the rope looped around her wrists.

"Yeah ... Good thing Daniel insisted on going back and trying to make amends. Not that we were the ones who should've been apologizing," Jack quickly added.

"Sir?"

"Yeah?"

"Let it go."

"Okay." Jack settled back a bit and watched Sam struggle some more with her restraints. He could tell the rope was beginning to chafe off the first layer of her skin by the way in which she often winced. "Hey, Carter? You ever count how many times we've done this?"

"This?" Sam stopped fidgeting and sat still, which had been Jack's goal when he'd asked his question. Her stubbornness sometimes got the better of her common sense. Lucky for her he was often around to distract her when those times occurred.

"Yeah. This. You know, being captured ... cheating possible death ... that sort of thing."

"Uh ..." Sam furrowed her brows and gave a quick tug to the rope. Yep, stubborn, Jack thought to himself. "Don't you think that's kind of dangerous, sir?" she asked. "Tempting fate and stuff?"

Jack cocked his head to the side in surprise. "I never would have taken you to be the superstitious type, Carter."

"Well, I'm not. I just don't believe in ..." Sam paused, furrowing her brows some more. "There's no point in taking unnecessary chances, such as--"

Just then the ship lurched to its left and Jack found his butt sliding out from under him as he flopped onto his side, his left shoulder wrenching painfully. The sound of metal twisting in ways it shouldn't filled the room.

Jack scooted himself back up into a sitting position and tried to look over his shoulder towards the door. "Hey, sounds like our rescue team's finally here."

"Or the ship just took a direct hit and is now hurtling towards the planet at an incalculable speed."

This time it was Jack who gave Sam the intense, pointed look.

"Or Daniel and Teal'c have come to our rescue, as you'd predicted they would," she corrected in a rush. "Yes, that's definitely what I think is going on, sir."

"Go, Spacemonkey and T," Jack cheered under his breath, taking up his battle against his restraints once more.

As Sam watched Jack swear at the rope, she smiled.

Truthfully, she had no real reason to smile. Despite Jack's insistence that they were about to be rescued, she couldn't know for sure that that would happen. But as had been the case with situations #1-27 -- yes, she'd lied to him earlier about not keeping track of their near misses; she was a scientist after all -- she just had a feeling that the odds would be in their favor yet again.

Sam didn't know if she was his good luck charm or if he was hers. All she knew was that this would most likely be Death Cheated #28. And counting.

Just the way she'd always liked her fairytales to end.

-the end-