Email: PG, character death
Summary: When the inevitable happens, Jack discovers an unexpected gift
Classifications: S/J Angst, Drama, POV
Season: Season 8
Archive: Yes, SJD and Heliopolis
DisclaimerThe characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.
Author's Note: This is melancholy, but it begged me to write it.
Feedback: Always appreciated!Inevitable
I always knew this day would come. I may have tried to deny it, I may have even buried it way back in the far reaches of my mind; but part of me always knew that this would happen. The second I took up my new position behind a desk and became the one to send people out and wait for them to come back; I knew this day would come. So did she. And now, all of a sudden, here it is. I stand at the bottom of the ramp and an ashen-faced Daniel comes stumbling down to me. The archeologist is openly weeping, his glasses abandoned and the blood from a head wound mixing with his tears. He reaches out for me, his arm trembling, but somehow the contact never happens. He's looking up at me and his words are slow to penetrate.
"God, Jack. There was nothing…I'm so sorry, Jack." Daniel's voice breaks and he just shakes his head. It is only after Daniel's words reach me that I finally look past him, towards the gate. I'm hit with the image that will never leave me, something that stays with me in the darkest parts of the night, haunting me. Teal'c stands on the ramp, his face contorted and lost. It is disconcerting to see Teal'c looking like a small child who doesn't understand what is happening to him. The source of his agony and confusion is easy to see, cradled in his arms.
A body. One limp, pale arm hangs down, swinging boneless and morbid. I find myself fascinated by the slender hand, the almost translucent flesh. Skin that I had known so well, now dormant. Hands that had once worked miracles, defying and rewriting the laws of physics. Hands that had comforted. Hands that had rubbed exhausted eyes. Hands that could take a life as easily as they could offer salvation. And now there was no life left in them.
I know what they all expect of me. Some think I will run up the ramp, grab the lifeless body and scream and yell. Or perhaps that I will weep over her corpse, finally saying in front of everyone the words that had been denied us both by duty and honor. Or maybe I will refuse to believe the reality that is right in front of me. Will I take off on a suicide mission to find a sarcophagus? Will I spend the rest of my life trying to find something, anything to put life back into those now useless hands? They can see me pulling a Malakai and searching for a way to get back in time, damn the consequences to everyone else. Rationally, most of them know that I am more likely to completely clam up, to become a hard, cold stone, to sink back into my self-imposed prison from the days after Charlie's death, maybe even taking cold comfort in the muzzle of a gun. These are even the things I expect of myself. But we are all wrong.
Instead, I hear myself calling for medics for the rest of SG-1. I feel my hand, firm and comforting, on Daniel's shoulder, telling him that I know that he did everything he could. I do not turn from my friends, but become a rock for them. I do not lock myself in my office and hide, but stay visible, giving orders, making everyone aware that no matter how off-kilter the universe seems on this dark day, that the world still moves calmly around its axis. I do not approach the body, but watch from a distance as it is placed gently on a stretcher and covered with a pristine white sheet. I do not visit the body, knowing that it is nothing more than an empty shell, a cruel and imperfect replica of what that woman had been. Instead, I hold on to the last memories I have, the feel of her warm flesh, the light in her endlessly blue eyes and the flash of her devastating smile that she reserved only for me and my stupid jokes. I do not confuse the living, breathing wonder that was her with the empty husk now sitting in the morgue.
I sit through the debriefing, as is my duty. I hear the details that part of me would rather not know, but I do it. I am there for Daniel when his voice gives out and he breaks down once more, the agony of having to watch the woman he loved as a sister die overwhelming him. I surprise everyone, including myself, by getting up and wrapping Daniel in a strong embrace and letting him weep it out. Later, I encourage Teal's to open up to me, and I listen, really listen, as he tells me of his feelings.
When Jacob finally shows up, I break the news that will change his life. He stays at my house and we get slowly and completely drunk. We talk all night about how wonderful she was. He regales me with childhood stories and I talk about how much she meant to everyone at the SGC, having no problem letting it show that she meant everything to me. Jacob seems relieved to know that his child, no matter the circumstances, had had someone who cared for her, someone who really understood and appreciated everything that she was.
At the funeral, I deliver her eulogy. I am not the block of ice we all expect. Instead, I am open. I try to convey everything that she was, unembarrassed that my love for her is clearly out in the open. I say everything that the people surrounding her open grave need to hear. As they lower her coffin, I hold Cassie tightly as she weeps and rails that she should have to lose three mothers in such a short life. I do not let her shut the rest of us out. I do not let her succumb to the fear of ever letting anyone else in. I do not let her become cynical before her time.
Weeks pass and we are all still here, holding the front line of a war. I still send people out there, wondering every time if they will come back. I hate it, but it is my job, my duty. And part of me knows that this is what she had sacrificed so much for. I will finish it for her. I will be here still, for our friends. Daniel is slow to recover, but he also holds on to the need to keep fighting, keep fighting for her. I eventually assign him to a team, SG-1 having been permanently retired. It seems fitting to all of us. Teal'c adjusts to a new team as well.
It takes a long time, but I can see that they are moving on. They haven't forgotten, of course, but they are rebuilding. Even Cassie, who has blossomed on her own in college, away from the constant danger and worry of the SGC. Her calls are further and further apart. Teal'c spends a lot of time with Ishta and his son and soon his grandchildren. There is a light in his eyes that his people are beginning to understand freedom. In the commissary, I see Daniel smiling shyly at a pretty scientist. It is at moments like this that I know they will be okay.
Knowing they are okay releases me, somehow. I find myself at her grave, the first time since her funeral. I slowly trace her name in the cold stone. My grief, ever present, is still there. But it does not swallow me; it does not oppress me. For the first time, I stop to consider this as I rest against her tombstone. To consider what I have done and not done since the day I stared at her limp, lifeless body. I know, deep in my heart, that I should be dead, destroyed by my grief, eaten up with regrets. I had surprised everyone, the way I acted, even myself.
Sitting on her grave, though, I finally understand why: I had not acted like Jack O'Neill. I had not shrugged off everyone, no matter how needy. I had not given up to despair. I had been strong for everyone, never giving up. I had shared myself, putting the feelings of others before my own. In short, I realize, I had acted like Sam Carter. It was perhaps my final gift to her, or maybe it was her final gift to me.
After her death, I kept her greatest fears at bay. I did not let her death destroy those she cared for. I made sure that Daniel, Teal'c and Cassie continued with their lives. And for my part, I did not let the fact that it had been my order that had killed her destroy me. Not because I didn't think I deserved to be blamed, but because I know it was her biggest fear, that our love would kill whoever was left behind. Our unspoken love was to be a thing of strength, the thing that let us work together so well. It was our biggest weapon against our enemies. She would never have wanted our love to be the thing that made me put a bullet in my head. To do so would have tainted it.
She knew as well as I that this day would come, though neither of us spoke of it. Living without her would be difficult and could even seem meaningless, but for Sam, I would do anything. At her hands, I have found salvation, twice over. She taught me to live again and from the grave, she has taught me compassion and strength, the things that made her the greatest person I have ever known. I will love her everyday and I will live for her, live as she would have wanted me to. I will hold the line and see this galaxy free of the Goa'uld. For Sam.