Disclaimer: This story includes excerpts from the TV show Stargate SG-1. I do not own the show. Like so many I'd like to have some part in it, but alas, I'm too late and too far away! Amsterdam is a bit far from 'Colorado', as an atlas may tell you. And even though this story has a little twist, I figure I don't the plot either. I OWN NOTHING, NOTHING I TELL YOU!

A letter, or two…

It was going to be one of those days, he was sure of it.

He had already been forced to discuss several problems concerning the upcoming visit by the President, and somehow everybody was convinced that everything would go wrong. Geez, don't they know the SGC is the safest facility on the planet? And now with the presidential visit drawing night (only five days to zero hour) he was a little tired of all the fuss everybody made.

∞ -

On the elevator down to his office, Brigadier General Jack O'Neill buttoned up his shirt. He was doing the cuff of his right sleeve when the elevator doors opened. Walter stood right outside. That is, he registered Walter for a split second before a small metal container was thrust up in his face.

"Good morning, sir."

After he overcame the initial surprise Jack grabbed the container, guessing it was for him.

"Walter . . ." he acknowledged. As Walter jumped into explaining his morning schedule Jack took a moment to analyze the container he held. Mmm, metallic case, a black, hard, plastic top with an opening…coffee! See, he could be analytical! His head drifted to the left for an instant, to where he knew the path lead to a certain someone's lab. But Walter's recital of his schedule made him jerk his head back.

No need to add to today's problems, he thought with a sigh. He heard Walter say something about SG-8, but the coffee seemed so much more enticing. He unscrewed the cap and took a look. Looked like coffee. But after several years of eating and drinking stuff out of the commissary he wasn't about to be fooled by appearances. Gently, he lifted the cup to his nose. Before the familiar scent of coffee reached his nostrils his ears alerted him to a part of Walter's lecture.

" …To bring an alien life form back to the base for further study."

Jack's attention snapped back Walter, a surprised and incredulous look on his face.

Walter held up his hand to prevent any outburst by the newly appointed General. "Sir, it's just a plant. Your 0830 debriefing . . ." Jack didn't hear the next bit. 'An alien life form, to bring to my base, for further study? Just a plant? Who on earth would want to study a plant?'

He returned to his coffee and decided to risk taking a sip when he saw something floating on the surface. Ah yes, now there was the undeniable proof that this was indeed coffee made by those lovely machines up at the commissary. I really outa order some new coffeemakers, make life so much better, he thought. With his finger he fished the unidentified floating object (Hey, a UFO, he thought with a mental grin) out of his coffee and flicked it to the ground.

" . . . Personnel files you have yet to review."

'Hmm!' Again he was captivated by Walter's speech. 'Personnel files! For crying out loud, I thought I did those already! Or were those the memos from last week? Better find out.'

"How many do I have left?"

Walter hesitated a second, before landing the blow. "All of them."

Well, so much for that theory, he thought. That means a full day going over nice, thick stacks of wasted rainforest filled with names and dates, and I'm sooo going to enjoy that. Without even making an effort to keep the sarcastic tone of coloring his speech he responded.

"Riiight . . ."

When they reached the top of the stairs Walter finished up his morning briefing mentioning the bunting and the buffet issue. 'Now there is a funny word!' "Bunting." Before he could deliver the punch line of the joke that was forming in his mind Jack looked up and saw the security advisor to the president standing there with two SF of base security.

"John."

The man turned. "General." he greeted.

"You are aware of the fact that this is the most secure military facility on the face of the planet?"

"Well actually sir, "

'Oy, here we go again'

"There are still a number of issues to be resolved."

"1000 hours, sir." Walter provided.

Again a little surprised and confused by Walters new 'powers' as a personal assistant Jack thanked him for that little tidbit of information. Smiling to John he continued on his way to his office, already dreading the day that lay before him.

In the doorway of his office he abruptly stopped in his tracks and looked at the man sitting in one of the chairs in front of his desk. Brown suit, light blue shirt, striped tie. 'A civilian? What the hell is a civilian doing in my office? I don't need a civilian. Why would I need a civilian? I don't need a civilian. And why is he here? Walter never mentioned anything about a civilian. Right? Did he? Or did he indeed? Must ask Walter.'

"Walter?" he started in a raised voice.

"Sorry, sir." Without realizing it Walter was standing right next to him.

'Wow, where did he come from! Sneaky little…'

"General O'Neill, Mark Gillmore." Walter gestured to the man now standing in front of his desk. "He's your new administrative aid."

The man nodded slightly and offered his greetings. "General."

Jack took a moment to evaluate the man. Didn't look too shabby in that suit, although he could do with a haircut. It'll give him a more military look about him, its almost like WASHINGTON GEEK is stamped on his forehead, he mused. 'So he is my, what did Walter call it? Ah yes, administrative aid. Why did I not know of this? Must ask Walter.'

"Did I order—"

"No, sir."

"One of these. . .Do I really need—"

"Yes, sir."

'Is that a repressed smile on Walters face? It is, he's actually laughing at me, the little…' Before even considering hurting one of the base most valued 'Chevron guys' and all time favored PA voice, Jack turned back to his new aid.

Decided to break the ice a little Jack asked for a little confirmation. "Civilian?"

"I've been an analyst at the CIA for the last eight years, mostly background checks but I did have top level clearance."

Again, Walter added more information to the mix. "He was assigned by General Hammond."

And that was all Jack needed to hear. "Ah, well, in that case," he took a step forward and extended his hand, "welcome aboard." Mark Gillmore shook his hand and smiled gratefully.

He could almost hear his mother saying to him 'Now Jonathan, where are your manners? Make the man at home!' and he couldn't agree more.

"How about if I give you a tour around?"

"Ah, had one, sir."

"Dang." 'Well there went my excuse to run away from my paperwork, maybe annoy Daniel for a while.'

"Very exciting to see it all in action."

"Mmm." 'Yeah, I'll bet you would. Pencil pusher looking for a bit of action, that's new.'

"General, your 0830." Walter interjected.

"Yes…" Jack thought for a moment. Then a small lightbulb went off over his head.

"You're here to assist me, right?" Mark nodded once.

"How about if you dive into those—"

"Sir, sir, sir, you really need to read the file yourself." Walter interrupted again.

Jack turned to the technician beside him, trying to refrain from thinking up too malicious ways of torture. A strange silence descended upon the room. A bit uncomfortable Jack tried the first thing that popped into his head. "Does Mister Gillmore have—"

"Follow me." And with that remark Walter took off. Mark picked up his briefcase and followed him out the door, leaving Jack behind in his office. For a moment Jack just stood there, dubious coffee in hand, trying to take in the situation.

A civilian aid to replace Walter the suddenly psychic and rudely interrupting midget, a mountain of personnel files exclusively for him to read, and an alien life form brought to base.

"Peachy," he softly mumbled to no one in particular before taking a seat in that oh so comfortable leather chair George so thoughtfully left him. Strike that. Make that forgetfully left behind, and lifted the first page of the report of P8F409 by SG2 for his 0830 scheduled meeting.

∞ -

Two short knocks on the door dragged Jacks attention away from that oh so riveting conversation about the bunting samples with Walter.

"Excuse me, sir, General Hammond is on the phone from the Pentagon, and SG-1 is here for the 1300 briefing." Mark informed his CO.

'Well there's a welcome piece of information! Mmm, let's see if I can easily get rid of this guy.' Jack swept his hand back and forth twice, signing dismissal. "Thank you."

Mark nodded his head and left. 'Yes, it worked! Okay, authority established there.'

He turned his attention back to Walter, who stood with the samples waiting for his verdict. Jack tried to convey with his eyes the utter confusion he had over the samples, but as always Walter didn't see it.

"Walter, I just don't have the decorating gene. Would you mind?"

"Yes, sir." Walter gathered up the samples and left the office.

Jack sat down and took up the red phone.

"Sir?"

When he heard General Hammond return his greeting on the other end it was the first real happy moment he'd had all day. "General, how are you?" he asked in a friendly tone.

"Doing just fine Jack. You know you are a General now and allowed to call me George."

"Eh…a…I know, sir. But every time I open my mouth to say George, General comes out."

He heard Hammond give a small chuckle.

"Walter's been keeping you busy?"

"Well, not too much."

"So it's pretty slow down today, huh?"

"Ah well, you know, just ah, run through my hours, working my way down a big old stack of paperwork."

"Be careful no to hurt yourself there, Jack." He could hear the smile on George's face.

"I won't, sir."

"Good, then I'll let you get back to it."

"Thank you." And with that they hung up.

After discussing the final points of their proposal Daniel Jackson, Colonel Samantha Carter and Teal'c sat in the briefing room, waiting for their CO to appear to get the briefing underway. They had been waiting for a while, but sometimes the General's schedule runs late so it happens. But as much as Sam tried to deny it this time she was beginning to get bored. Showing up ten minutes early for this meeting didn't help as well, and she was getting bored. 'God, I never figured this would happen to me. It was always the Colonel that got bored before and during meetings, not me. Correction, the General used to get bored.'

Mentally, Sam pinched herself. Been a while since she last done that, refer to General O'Neill as Colonel O'Neill. 'Old habits die hard I suppose.' With that thought Sam looked up from the folders and glanced through to Jack's office. He looked up from his desk, saw her staring at him and held up a finger indicating this would only take a moment.

Funny how you got that from just one gesture and look, she thought. But you did once get a lot more then a simple apology from just one look out of those deep, dark brown eyes of his at times, a little voice in the back of her head whispered. Closing her eyes Sam had to shut that voice up for the umpteenth time. Great, that's where all this waiting gets me, talking to my emotional insecurities again, Sam thought with a sigh. Leafing through the file again she tried to get her thoughts in order, but the waiting had begun to grate on her composure. Luckily for her Jack hung up the phone and came strolling in the briefing room.

"Okay." His way of announcing the start of the briefing.

"General." Sam started.

"Colonel! You've all met." 'No need for introduction if they have. Good, because I'm not exactly sure what his last name is again.'

Sam had the courtesy to turn her head and smile at Mark, hovering at the side to attend the meeting.

"Yes actually, we know each other's life stories." Daniel stepped in.

Clearly someone had been deprived of caffeine for just a bit too long, Jack noticed. And promptly couldn't hold back a comment of his own. "Is that snippiness?"

"Is that a word?" Daniel retorted.

'Yep, clearly no coffee in the last half hour.'

Deciding Daniel was going to prove difficult at this moment Jack turned to his more level headed Carter. "What do you got?"

Sam opened her mouth to start but got cut off by a very jumpy Daniel.

"A gate address from a planet formerly in Anubis' domain that apparently Baal hasn't discovered yet."

"We believe it may be home to an abandoned base." Sam finally managed to get into the conversation.

"And just chuckfull of abandoned weapons?" Jack added optimistically.

"One can hope," Daniel said as if hoping to clinch the deal.

'Oh, if you're thinking I'm that easy Danny-boy, think again. Still, a good stash of weapons wouldn't go amiss.'

"This device was procured by Jaffa formerly loyal to Anubis, it should allow us access to the base." a deep voice resounded.

'Ah, finally, someone who can make sense. Thank you Teal'c! Let's see what you got. Mmm, looks like a wrist-thingy, a dull copper/gold look about it, small crystal set in a circular band…a ring transport call-thingy! See, analytical me! Ok, so we got something to go on. Let's check with eh…aid-guy.'

Jack turned to Mark. "When's the next opening?"

Mark tapped a few times on his electronic notepad. "0800 tomorrow morning."

Sam, convinced that this was worth checking out, couldn't help her amazement over this delay. "Tomorrow!" She looked at Jack, the 'why not now?' question clearly written on her face. But as usual Jack saw her reaction coming.

"I got fourteen teams out there."

Sam quickly tried to see the logic of the situation. "I'm sorry, operations protocol?"

"Is it?" Jack answered nonchalant, handing the device back to Teal'c.

"Sir, the MALP showed no indication of any Goa'uld activity."

"I still want SG-3 to cover your flanks."

Sam raised her eyebrows in slight puzzlement. "It's just recon— "

Jack would have none of it. "All the more reason you can wait another day."

"Incoming wormhole!"

Jack glanced at the gateroom, reminded that he had more on his schedule than talking to his former teammates, something he didn't get to do often enough in his opinion. He turned to Mark to see what was next.

"SG5 and the representatives from Amra to discuss the pending trade agreement."

Jack couldn't prevent a slip. "Oy!" Inwardly he couldn't help but groan, loudly.

"Love to stay and chat." He then proceeded to the stairs, preparing his 'diplomatic face.'

Sam, a good officer in the USAF, accepted that if the next opening was tomorrow, that tomorrow it would be and no sooner. But Daniel was never inclined to take orders without questioning.

"Jack, if those rebel Jaffa know about it it's only a matter of time before Baal knows about it."

Walking down the stairs he ignored Daniel whine.

"One day Daniel, one day..." Geez, didn't they realize that he couldn't just handout assignments and time whenever they wanted him to? It's not that simple, anymore, he ruefully thought. I'm not the Colonel anymore, for crying out loud, and as General I have to see and act differently. Why did they always accept it when Hammond said they could go, and not when he did? With that last bit of irritation he walked down to the gateroom, to let Major Davis do the introductions.

∞ -

Rubbing his face in a vain attempt to get rid of the headache that had been stalking him for a couple of hours Jack walked into his office, glad to have a moment's rest. He lifted a few personnel files of his laptop and sat down behind it. He lifted the screen and started up a new text document. A real sense of detachment had plagued him ever since he accepted the promotion to General, and it was getting stronger by the minute. Who was he kidding! He couldn't be the General who runs the SGC without a hitch. He couldn't be 'the man'. So he decided to do he only thing he could think of. Write a letter.

"Dear General Hammond,

Wish you were here and that I was not."

The phone interrupted his train of thought, and in a somewhat weary voice he answered. He heard the man on the other side speak and ask a question. "No Major Davis, I don't intend to let the delegates stay there forever. Just . . .a day or so." He could hear Paul making very polite protests. "No Major, if they can't behave like adults, then neither should we. Besides, if it makes you feel any better I had all the sharp objects removed, so no chance of this trade agreement to come crashing down. Mm? Well they should have thought of that before they came here. What? No, of course not. I had a very nice fruit basket put there, so they won't starve. They'll be fine major, just check on them every…four hours or so." And with that he hung up. Staring at the screen for a few moments his fingers returned to the keys.

"So you could go and handle the diplomacy stuff, and I would go fishing."

'Now wouldn't that be a nice trade-off? But that might not convince him to come back.'

"Or at least give me time to finish my reports."

'There! Who said I sucked at diplomacy. If that isn't an ironclad reason for old George to come back I don't know what is.'

He sat back in his chair enjoying the comfort the old leather chair provided him with. Looking at his slowly forming resignation letter he couldn't help but think what sort of consequences his actions might have. It isn't like he was giving up the action, he had given that up when he accepted the damn promotion. He'd sure are hell be giving up on a lot more stress! Life would be nice and quiet, no more mountains of paperwork and unscheduled incoming wormholes. Just him, his cabin, bit of fishing and some nice cold beers. Aah, yes. Nice and relaxing. Nice, relaxing and quiet. Nice, relaxing, quiet and alone. Nice and alone. Alone. Completely, utterly, miserably alone… Hmm! Where the hell did that come from? His head shot up from the back of the chair and he stared down at the computer screen. Damn. It's been a while for that feeling to rear its ugly head. But now it was here, bet your ass it wasn't about to leave immediately. No sirreee, he could almost feel it sitting down on a comfortable couch with its feet plopped up on the coffee table, ready for a loooong fight. Oy.

He raised his hands and massaged his scalp. Face it Jack, he thought, if you retire you retire alone. Nobody waiting at your house to welcome you home, ready to spend the end of their days with an old cantankerous ex-General. Of course, he could always start dating again. He quietly snorted. Yeah, that'll be the day. He could picture himself standing in some bar, asking all the women present if they would consider having a drink with him. Yeah, that'll work! He sighed. It's not that he didn't like the idea of someone being there for him to come home to, his heart actually ached for it. But he couldn't image meeting and getting to know another woman. It was too late for that. He doubted he had the energy for that.

For an unguarded second Jack let his imagination slip away from him and painted a pretty mental picture. His house, its front door open, a small little girl with beautiful long, golden curls running out to him. He would catch her, swing her around enjoying the sound of her giggles. Then he'd turn back to the house and see his wife standing on the front porch, arms crossed over her chest, patiently waiting. Equally beautiful golden hair, sparkling blue eyes. . . He shook off this vision. Don't want to add heartache to headache, do we? He paused a moment before deciding that his day had lasted long enough, and it was time to go home. He saved his resignation letter in one of the most obscure and protected of his personal files (see, not completely oblivious to technology) and shut down everything in his office. Didn't take too long.

∞ -

"Well, the good news is it hasn't eaten anybody yet."

"Well thank you, Seymour."

Jack was standing in one of the labs of the SGC, although at the moment it looked more like a botanical garden than a sterile lab. There was green everywhere. Unsurprisingly the 'alien life form' had decided the base was a tad too gray for its likings, and had taken the task of coloring up the place. With the only color it knew of. Green.

Doctor Lee seemed to actually appreciated Jacks humor at the moment, the situation was a bit funny to him too.

"Yeah, obviously we eh underestimated its eh growth properties."

'Ya think, doc?'

"It seems to respond really dramatically to any kind of visible light."

'Ah ha. Visible light, you say.' Jack glanced up at the ceiling. The lights were on.

'Must I think of everything around here?'

He reached over to his left, brushed away a vine or two and flicked the light switch. Half the room went dark. He intently looked at doctor Lee, holding back the urge to shake the doc about, screaming 'HELLO!' in his ears to see if anyone was home.

"Yeah, well, I thought of that," Lee said a bit dejected.

"I just thought you might like to see it."

Jack rolled his eyes, and decided this wasn't worth the time. He turned to leave, mostly because he didn't want to strangle the good doctor. He did like Lee a bit, mainly because he laughed at his jokes and he did have other things to do.

"Na, eh, don't worry, we'll get it under control." Lee assured him.

In the corridor he looked right and left, trying to remember which way he should be heading. Man, this is starting to feel like Colombia all over again. Mmm, better watch out for those annoying monkeys then.

∞ -

This just keeps getting better and better. SG-1 disappears on Carters first solo-command mission, that rotten piece of work Baal holograms himself in the gateroom saying he has them and wants Cammy in exchange. Cammy freaking out on me after my attempted bluff, this plant thing still hogging an entire sublevel, and…and they didn't have the bunting. How the hell did everything go from bad to extremely worse so fast?

He found himself in his office again, to try and sort out his head. Without thinking he opened his laptop, and pulled up his letter of resignation.

"I knew it wasn't easy for you, but had I known what it was really like I would have tried to be less of a pain in the…"

'What word to use? I wonder if the Air Force would object to me using the word mik'ta? Probably.'

"I knew it wasn't easy for you, but had I know what it was really like I would have tried to be less of a pain in the ass."

'Mmm, completely honest?'

"At least I would have tried harder."

"Unscheduled offworld activation!" the PA suddenly exclaimed.

'Ah hell, here we go again.'

Turned out to be SG-3, reporting back on the ancient device Cammy was blabbing about. Colonel Reynolds did find it (whatever it was) and although he couldn't say what it was he did know why it didn't work. He found a spent ZPM, supposed to charge the thing like the outpost in Antarctica. And according to doctor Lee it still has some juice left. Good news! But the crap hit the fan again. All the lights went out, and the eerie green glow of the emergency lighting remained. Jack knew it, it had to be that damn plant. He hadn't heard about it for a while, seems only fair for it to come up and ask attention.

Eventually he agreed with Lee to keep the base on minimal lighting until he could fix the problem.

'Well, no sense in working in the dark, now is there! Better get some shut-eye.'

He laid himself down on his standard issue military cot (why did generals not get better beds on base?), and drifted off to sleep. At least, until someone poked him in the back.

"W...hat?" he groggily said.

"Sorry to wake you, sir."

Jack's foggy brain finally managed to identify the voice of his aid, Mark. For a second or so he just lay there, blinking at him. How long did he sleep anyway?

"Feels like it's been ten minutes…"

"Ye…Yeah, it has. There's an incoming wormhole. Baal wants to talk."

'Peachy, juuuuuust peachy.'

∞ -

Oy. What did I say about this getting better and better? Almost the entire base was now in the hands of 'The Plant' and it had shut down the power to almost everything which included the gateroom leaving them with a Gate that was stuck, Camelass had become more jumpy, the visit from the President will probably be delayed and Baal was getting pissed. My fault of course, but hey, he did give us another day. The way his head throbbed from sleep deprivation and tension added to his earlier sense of unease, and once again he stared at the screen of his laptop. He had written quite a letter so far, stating as many reasons he could think as to why he could not run this base anymore. From high stress and crappy diplomatic skills to paper cuts, any and everything he could think of. But somehow it did felt like he was letting George down.

"And so I regretfully submit my resignation. And to be clear, the regret is not so much about the resigning part, but the fact that I was deluded enough to think I had possessed even one iota of the ability needed to fill your sizable and shiny shoes."

'Mmm, don't want to sound like a desperate suck-up.'

"And to be clear, the regret is not so much about the resigning part, but the fact that I was deluded enough to think I had possessed even one iota of the ability needed to fill your sizable shoes."

'There, better.'

He sat back, reading through the reason he had listed why he should resign. And as he was leafing through them a tiny voice reminded him that one reason was missing. He frowned, trying to think what it meant. But as his eyes stopped at the word 'regret' his mind grinded to a complete halt, focused on one particular thing he had forgotten about. Sam. She was the last remaining reason for him to resign, although he dared not list it in this letter. Samantha Carter. Lieutenant Colonel in the USAF, doctor in theoretical astrophysics (well, practical now, but who knew), his former 2IC, one hell of a soldier, one hell of a woman. And the light of his life, if he was drunk enough to admit it.

He rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands. 'Oh God, why am I here again!'

Thinking about the woman I wasn't allowed to care for all those years, but yearned for for so long, and now a woman engaged to be married to another man! Talk about your unattainable love! Was she ever attainable to me? All those years of secret glances, occasional brushing of hands, unsaid promises. The Za'tarc test burned in his mind like it was yesterday, words spoken by 'Thera' whispered in his ear. He had loved Sam for so long, it seemed like a lifetime. And he still loved her. When his memory came back after the second Ancient download and the following rescue of Earth (which he thought looked pretty cool on his classified personal file) he thought that they still had a chance, even though she was with that Pete guy. But he had to go and crush the last remaining piece of hope by again becoming her commanding officer. Not as if she asked him to refuse the promotion, and he had given her plenty of occasions to say something. But she didn't. So he took it. And ended up here. A half-ass General, the place falling apart around him, the woman he'd love till the end of time captured by a creature that still gave him nightmares, sitting alone in the dark. He felt like crying in self-misery, but of course his military façade wouldn't allow it. Regret. Yes, she was his regret. Maybe . . .oh, spilling my heart out won't fix things, she's engaged and it's final. But still, regret.

He saved his resignation letter, and opened a new text file. 'Maybe I can't convince to change her life, but I can sure as hell tell her what she has given up on.' Maybe ease the pain of his regret he hoped, especially if he was going to resign.

His fingers hovered over the keys, afraid they would burn his fingertips the moment he touched them. Strengthening his resolve, he pushed his fingers down and started typing.

"Dear Sam,"

And there he paused, unsure what to say next. He remembered all the moments they had shared, but couldn't bring himself to write them down and use them as arguments to make her see she had thrown away their love. He couldn't do it. He couldn't turn spiteful and curse her. He couldn't do it. She forever was the woman he was willing to die for, and nothing could change that. All of a sudden the reality of her being in the custody of Baal descended upon him, and an overwhelming flood of pain and panic washed over him. He clutched his desk for support, as his head started spinning and his breath became ragged and short. He forced himself to breath slowly and deeply, and fought to gain control again. A few minutes past before he calmed down, and was able to think again. And type again.

"Dear Sam,

I'm not sure if you'll ever read this letter. Maybe Baal has done to you what he failed to do to me. If so, then my resignation will be meaningless, as will my life be. It just wouldn't be the same without you. Even if I was never really with you. Semantics, right?

The last seven or so years have been, well, weird to say the least. I mean how many times can a guy get stabbed, shot at, clubbed at, captured, tortured, brought back to life by friend and foe, face death every other Tuesday and save the planets butt from intergalactic doom?

Good question, think I lost count after 30 somewhat. Bet you'd know. Smart as you are. Did I ever mention you are way smarter then me? Hope so, cause you deserve to know. Hell, you deserve a lot more then that. A lot more then I can give you. All this old, grumpy flyboy could give you is his foolish heart, and a General's pension that isn't too bad. But I guess that it just wasn't meant to be. I wish it was, but it isn't."

He paused again, weighing his words. And decided that honesty was better then politeness.

"But in my heart I'll never forget. In there, I'll always . . ."

God, why was a simple four letter word so hard to type!

"But in my heart I'll never forget. In there, I'll always . . .love you. Without doubt or regret. I'll love you no matter what. Even if married to Pete…"

Mmm, he knew his name was Pete, but if he was to be the one to steal Sam away from him, the at least Jack was allowed some spite towards him.

"Even if married to Petey—"

Yep, sounded way better.

"—is what will make you happy, then that is what you should do. I'll never truly like him, but that you'll have to forgive me, a guy can only go so far.

But when the day is over and the stars come out to shine, it is you I will love, and hold forever in my memories.

Just wanted you to know that.

With all my love,

Jack"

Without reading it back Jack saved it, and clicked it away. Reading it back would surely bring on the tears, and we couldn't have that now could we. Suddenly the lights came back on. Jack looked round his office in surprise; he could see his office again!

A rap on the door shook him out of his reverie.

"Doctor Lee just called down, sir, he is confident that the plant has been completely eradicated," Mark announced.

"Wish I did." Jack commented.

"Oh and the dialing computer is back online."

'Well, that's two things solved. Mmm, what was it again about silver lining? I hate clichés.'

∞ -

Okay, so everything did turn out fine, and everybody wasn't hurt, and 'The Plant' truly was gone. Great, probably got more gray hairs from worrying for nothing. At least the Presidential visit is moving on, and Baal is going to be very pissed at Cammy with only a dead ZPM in his defense. Hey, that would be fun to watch. Baal pissed at Camelass. Mmm, Camel piss… Must start writing these things down for future reference.

And we got SG-1 back. Thank God.

No really super cool weapons from Anubis' private stash, but hey, they're forgiven. And Carter being so worried if she did well. Of course she did good, the woman was a walking national treasure for crying out loud, and besides, I trained her well. God, especially glad to see Sam again. Really, really glad. But now I'm sitting here with a problem. I'm not retiring. Must have been the little boost Reynolds and the teams gave to me in the gateroom. And the fact that everybody keeps telling me I did well. Still have a hard time believing that one.

The final draft of his resignation letter lay before him. He had already signed it, but still he couldn't help but wonder if this was the right thing to do. Maybe it was. The SGC meant quite a lot to him, and he just couldn't give it all up. Not just yet.

Someone knocked on his open door.

"General, the President's motorcade is through the gates, he should be on the elevator momentarily."

Jack acknowledged the fact by nodding his head.

Mark sighed and nervously brought his hands together in front of him. Before swinging them back and clamping them together behind his back.

"Sir, I…I think you should know I'll be leaving tomorrow."

Jack settled back in his chair a little. "Really?"

"Yes, sir. Truth is, I've been here one a temporary special assignment from the president."

Jack shifted in his chair, facing his aid better. "Oh?"

"Sort of a civilian audit, if you will."

'Audit, IRS, that's gonna be a lot of red tape!'

"Of the SGC?" he asked with a hint of trepidation.

Mark paused just a moment. "Of you."

Jack schooled his face into an emotionless mask and got out of his chair. His eyes were fixed on the man before him. Mark shifted nervously, and glanced away. Mmm, I can still make them squirm even with a mild glare, he joyfully thought.

Dragging out the silence for dramatic effect, Jack decided to deliver the punch line.

"I know."

Mark didn't catch on immediately. "Ye…You do?"

"General Hammond told me." Jack had to refrain himself from laughing.

Finally Mark caught up with the new revelations. "Well, he wasn't supposed to."

"Well don't tell anyone."

"Ah. Well uh,…then you know the President wanted to make sure you were settling in before he came and shook your hand, and fully endorsed you as the leader of this base."

'Ah ha. I think I proved myself to be just that already, thank you very much.'

"Obviously he's here, so eh… What I mean is, just want you to know how much respect I have for what you do here."

Jack lifted one eyebrow slightly in surprise.

"And for you."

"Thanks." Jack quietly though genuinely responded. "Shall we?" Jack moved to pick up his dress jacket.

An afterthought popped into Jack's head.

"Oh, by the way, did you eh let those Amran delegates go?"

"I did, sir. Major Davis said they seem much more willing to negotiate now." Mark smiled a bit.

"You think they liked the fruit basket?"

"I think so, sir."

"Yes…put a lot of thought into that."

And with that Jack and Mark left the office, leaving behind a resignation letter on Jack's desk. A letter where two simple words had been added at the end to finalize it, and made it completely useless at the same time.

"Never mind."

∞ -