TITLE: This Is O'Neill, Leave A Message

AUTHOR: Matt, July 2004

SUMMARY: "Hello, Sir, it's me."

RATING: PG

SEASON / SPOILERS: Between seasons 7 and 8. Spoilers for Chimera, Heroes, part 2 and the Lost City, parts 1 and 2.

DISCLAIMER: Characters don't belong to me. They officially belong to MGM et al. I'm merely 'projecting.' I make no money, and mean no offence.

THANKS: To Allie for the beta.

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"Hello, Sir, it's me. I thought maybe I should tell you what's happening while you're away. It's been two weeks now since we defeated Anubis, and we still can't help you. Dr. Weir's been good enough to allow teams through the 'Gate, but we haven't been able to contact any of our allies. We haven't even been able to locate my dad, but we're not going to give up, Sir. None of us will do that. Anyway, I better go; Cassie will be home soon. Take care, Sir."

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"Hello, Sir, it's me again. Cassie misses you. It's been so hard for her, for all of us. First we lose Janet, and then we lose you. We were talking about you over dinner last night. It's so good to be able to talk to someone about it. I can't really talk to Pete – it's not like he'd understand anyway. Daniel is working hard on translating some writings he found in your cave, but we definitely could do with some help from our foreign friends. Yeah, it occurred to me after I hung up last night that I really shouldn't say much over an unsecured line. I'll keep you informed as to what's going on, but right now I've got a briefing to go to. I'll talk you to you later, Sir."

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"Hello, Sir. Still no word from our foreign friends, but we did have some excitement here yesterday. Team three came back from their trip minus their clothing. You should have seen Dr. Weir's face. I could just imagine you, Sir, standing in the control room, with a smirk on your face. I'm just glad it wasn't our team. That would have been bad, wouldn't it? Though I've got a feeling you'd certainly appreciate it if it was me. Mind you, that would have got people talking, wouldn't it? The four of us without clothing. Not like people need any excuse. I keep getting these pitiful looks as I pass airmen in the corridors. Do they know something I don't? Or is it all speculation?"

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"It's getting so hard, Sir. The days are going by, and we're no closer to helping you. I want to be there with you, but Weir won't let me go. I'm stuck in my lab, backwards engineering whatever the teams bring back, but I can't concentrate. I guess that's why I'm calling you. Every time I call, I get to hear your voice and I can imagine you standing in the doorway watching me as I work. But you're not there, are you, Sir?"

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"Sorry, Sir, I had a bad day yesterday I guess. I don't normally get emotional. I'm good old Carter after all. Carter the good little soldier, Carter who can fix anything. But I can't fix this, can I? You're stuck there, and I'm unable to do a thing to help. I've tried backwards engineering some of the technology we found at your location, but nothing's giving us any clue. Murray and Daniel are continuing to translate, but there's just nothing. I hate it, I absolutely hate it."

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"Well, Sir, it happened. Pete broke up with me tonight, over the telephone, the bastard. He says I'm spending too much time at work. He just doesn't understand how important my work is. It's what's keeping me going right now. I tried to tell him you were missing and we were trying to bring you back, but he still didn't understand. So, yeah, good old Carter fails at a normal life again. At least he's not dead yet. Though it's probably a matter of time. All the men I care about die."

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"Okay, so that was a bad night. I apologize, Sir. In the cold light of day, I realise I'm better off without him. Now I can concentrate fully on finding that one clue that can help you, without wondering if I'm supposed to be calling Pete or meeting him someplace or something. As for a normal life, I don't know that I could really handle one of those. We're not normal people, so how can we have normal lives? I'd hate to be a normal person, wouldn't you?"

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"Just great! Wonderful! The new doctor has no clue, and that bitch Weir doesn't either. They've sent me home with instructions that I'm not to work. The doctor's calling it exhaustion. Just because I collapsed in the commissary this morning. You'd have been proud of me, Sir. At least I was in the commissary, I was actually planning on eating and they had Jell-o there. But no, I've been sent home and they've even taken my laptop away from me. Like that will stop me. I'll find a way, Sir, I'm not letting this little hindrance stop me. We're going to bring you home."

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"Oh God, Sir, it's been nearly a month. It will be a month in a few days. And no one tells me anything anymore – doctor's orders, apparently. I miss you so much. I miss your sarcastic comments, your ridiculous jokes, your comments about The Simpsons, and no one calls me Major or Carter like you do. You're the best commanding officer I've ever served under. Served under – that's a joke. I've never been able to serve under you the way I would have liked. It's because of our roles that we've been stuck in this limbo. If only you hadn't been my commanding officer, but then I don't suppose we would've met would we?"

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"I dreamed of you last night. It's not the first time, but I don't think I've told you my dreams before. I don't know if I should tell you this one, but I want to tell someone, and I'm certainly not telling Cassie – though her mother might have been a different matter. You remember how Janet always seemed to have that wicked train of thought, though you might have said that wickedness was related to large needles. Anyway, yeah, my dream. It was you and me, together. I don't think we were doing anything particularly important, but we were together. And not just together as in two officers serving together. We were doing whatever couples do together. Oh, wipe that smirk off your face, Sir, and get your mind out of the gutter. You know, maybe I shouldn't be sharing stuff like this if you're going to think like that."

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"Sir, I need to tell you something..."

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"Sir... Oh damn, this is so hard."

"This is O'Neill, leave a message."

"I guess what I'm trying to say, Sir... Damn it, I guess what I'm trying to say, Jack, is that I love you. And I have done for a long while. It's what I was trying to tell you before. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry I messed up everything between us. I'm sorry for Pete, and I'm sorry you'll never get to hear this."