Jack sat still, silent, looking at the gravestone in front of him.
Carefully, slowly, he brought down the scissors and cut at the carpet of needle-sharp grass. The flowers he'd brought smiled shyly at him, as he set about his task. Slowly he trimmed the grass, making it perfect. He propped up the flowers and the various bits and pieces that accompanied the grave.
He caught a glint in the dirt, a metal object. Gold. He reached over and with his fingers sifted out the tiny thing.
The ring he bought her for their wedding.
He looked once more at the stone, at the picture of his son gazing back at him, and for that one moment, frozen in time, the pain was both numb and raw, as if the accident had happened yesterday.
He gripped the ring in his hand, debating whether or not to take it with him, but decided against it.
The past had to remain the past. It had to be kept safe. It had to be remembered, but it belonged here…in his past.
He sighed, glancing once more at his son.
"I love you."
An acre away, Sam stared shyly but lovingly at her mother's grave. Her dad gripped her hand tightly. It had been a long time since she was here.
"I never thought it'd be this hard." She admitted, staring unnervedly at the familiar face of Joanne Carter.
"I know kid…It's been a while."
"Why didn't I visit? Why?"
"You're a scientist. You don't have the safety net that most people have…you don't believe in anything after death."
"I detached myself from all of you…that's all."
"No…Your mother's death was hardest on you Sam…that's why you never talk about her. You had no beliefs that she may still be there. Mark and I…we both knew that she was. We had that as some consolation."
"What if I believe there is something now?"
"Then you make up for lost time."
Sam's vice grip clutched at her father's hand as hard as was possible.
"What do I do?"
"Talk to her."
Jacob gently removed Sam's hand from his own, then slowly, he walked back to her Volvo. She needed time alone for Joanne to get to her.
A few moments later he stopped, seeing a familiar figure kneeling, crying. Normally he'd let Jack be, knowing what a private man he was. Today though, he decided to see if he was all right.
He walked up noisily, so as not to startle him. Jack however was too deep in thought, and was visibly startled when Jacob spoke.
"You okay there?"
"Y-Yeah…bit of a trip down memory lane…that's all."
Jacob looked at Jack's trembling hands, clearly holding a wedding ring. Knowing that even with Selmac about, he still regularly put his foot in it when it came to delicate subjects. So he bit his tongue, saving his comments. His eyes trailed to the headstone of the grave.
'Charles Tyler O'Neill
Beloved son of
Jonathan and Sara
Born September 8th 1987
Died February 4th 1996'
"Oh god…" Jacob trailed off.
Jack looked up.
"I'm sorry Jack…I had no idea…I'm so sorry."
"It's okay…you didn't know I was visiting Charlie."
"Jack…I never even knew you'd had a son."
"Had a son…had a wife…"
Jacob shifted around uneasily. He reached into his mind searching for his fair minded other half, hoping she'd find some words of wisdom for him to use.
"If you don't mind me asking Jacob…who are you visiting?"
"Yeah…she's here…she hasn't visited since she was a kid."
The two men were in silence. It was awkward. Jack was still wiping tears from his eyes, and Jacob was feeling rather emotional being that it had been twenty-three years since he, Sammie and Jo had been together.
"You look like you need to talk." Jack stated.
"Yeah well…I'm not good at all this…stuff."
"What happened?" Jacob asked.
Jack's eye's looked up, and Jacob saw an internal battle inside the man.
"I didn't put my personal gun away properly…Charlie found it…He shot himself and…" Jack trailed off, his voice becoming choked, raw with a sea of emotions. Steeling himself, he continued. "I took leave from the Air Force…got called up…went to Abydos…came back and Sara was gone."
Jacob was silent. Not knowing what to say. Even Selmac had no words of advice.
"What happened to Sam's mom?"
"Road accident…Sam and Mark were thirteen…I was supposed to collect Joanne and take her home, but I got kept back on duty and she phoned a taxi…She never made it home…Mark and I talk now…but he'll never forgive me."
Jacob and Jack shared a look. They may not have revealed much apart from the details, but it was the most either had opened up for far too long.
Jack looked at Jacob. A man who'd lost his wife and had been left to bring up the kids on his own, nearly losing his son in process.
Jacob returned the look. Jack had lost his son and wife. It explained a lot about the man. His frivolity, his happy go lucky exterior that directly contradicted his black ops file. Now it all made sense. Jack had been a happy go lucky man at home, and he'd been robbed of that. Now, the only place where that was possible was work. It had been a role reversal. Jack had been a military hard-nose according to his file. Now he was a different man. He probably let his darker side air at home, where no one could watch or judge him.
Jacob had a new found respect for this man, and saw a glimpse of what Sammie saw in him. He'd always seen Jack as an enigma - something most military men are wary of. He was shocked when he'd seen their attraction. What could she possibly see in an idiot like Jack O'Neill?
Now, he was seeing Jack. Not O'Neill…Jack. He was an honourable man. He also knew about commitment, love and kids. These were some of the things Jacob was worried about. If he and Sam got together, would Jack be able to be committed? Would he stand by her? Or would he run away?
"How long were you married?" Jacob asked.
"I married Sara when I was twenty-five. We separated when I was forty four…Nineteen years."
Jacob blinked. " That was longer that Jo and I… we were together fifteen years."
"What was Sam's mom like?"
"Like Sam…except her flair was in the arts…literature…she was a teacher."
"Really? Sara was a police officer…I met her when she gave me a parking ticket!"
"I met Jo when I was doing an Air Force presentation at her school…Just down the road."
"She sounds like she was quite a woman."
"She was…what makes you say that?"
Jacob stopped. Jack stopped, and swallowed nervously.
"You said she was like Sam, and Sam's one of most amazing women I've ever met."
Jacob decided to leave the sensitive subject alone.
"What was your son like?"
"Like me, but with his mom's brain!"
"He was…I was…I am proud of him." Jack said, staring at the gravestone. "I was so proud of him for everything…When we took him to hospital after the accident, he was conscious, but he couldn't feel anything. He whispered in my ear to tell his mom that everything was going to be fine…He was so brave…even at the end…"
The tears were welling in his eyes again, and without thinking, he reached over, embracing Jack in a brotherly hug. He was surprised, when Jack hugged him back.
They sat like that for a moment. Silent. Both remembering their pasts, both remembering their losses. They pulled apart, embarrassed at being so emotional in public.
Jack sniffed, expelling the remaining tears.
"Thank you, Jack."
Jack gazed fondly at Charlie's grave, before Jacob spoke again.
"Now I know why Sam loves you so much."
"I'm many things Jack…but I'm not dumb…She loves you…you love her…I'm just saying if you decide to throw caution to the wind and go for it…You have my approval…If George moans about it, just give me a call."
"Dad?" The pair heard a call, before Sam came into view. Her eyes were bleary, red with unshed tears.
She stopped dead in her tracks upon seeing Jacob and Jack sitting on the grass in front of a grave. What was an even bigger shock, was the fact that Jack had been openly crying, the tear-trails prominent on his handsome face.
"Hello sir…Everything alright?"
"Just talking to your dad…and Charlie."
Sam gulped. "Oh…dad…you okay?"
"I am now kid."
Jacob stood up with ease, while Jack rose slowly, shaking out his stiff, arthritic knees.
"You ready to go Sam?"
"Yeah…I'll be back to visit soon…don't you worry."
Jacob smiled, walking up to his daughter. He embraced her in a hug, and whispered in her ear.
"I know kid…I know…"
The broke apart, and Jacob turned to Jack. "We were gonna go get lunch in town…wanna come along?"
"Yeah…That'd be good"
"We'll talk about what we were talking about before Sam joined us."
"I love dissecting the regs…so does Selmac!"
"Jacob?" Jack said worriedly.
"I always thought the frat' ones were stupid anyway!
Jacob walked towards Sam's Volvo, leaving his perplexed daughter and her slightly unnerved CO trailing behind.
He had a feeling he'd like Jack O'Neill for a son in-law!