Category: Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Romance.
Pairings: Sam/Pete, Sam/Jack.
Spoilers: Grace, Affinity.
Warnings: Character Death. Tissues at hand would be advisable? Bear with me on this. It will be worth it!
Summary: Jack is off-world on a mission when he and Sam find they are cut off from the others during a battle. The situation is desperate and they find an opportunity to express their true feelings.
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate SG-1. No copy-write infringements intended. Just borrowing the characters for a little fun, fantasy and imagination.
A heavy pall of smoke hung over the battlefield; the stench of death reeked in her nostrils, turning even her stomach as she lay in the lee of the rock scanning the area for more hostiles.
"Sam? Sam? Where the hell are you?"
"Daniel, the General and I got cut off, then we were separated. I can't see him yet," Lt. Colonel Sam Carter stated worriedly.
The battle had been brief but bloody, and bodies littered the ground around her. The cries of the wounded reached her still ringing ears, coming from friend or foe alike she wasn't sure which, there was no distinction in their voices to separate them.
"Are you okay Sam?"
"Yeah, I'm fine Daniel. You?"
"We're okay; a little scorched around the edges but we're good."
"Get back to the gate Daniel, and put a medical team on standby; the smoke's clearing and...Oh God, I think I see him. Yes, I see him Daniel. Go back and get help, now! He's not moving," she cried, releasing the radio switch and leapt forward from the relative safety of her position to reach his side.
Brigadier General Jack O'Neill lay motionless among the lifeless bodies of several of the enemy, a smoking hole the size of his fist sitting almost in the middle of his chest.
At first Sam thought she was too late; that he had died already, but as she reached out to lay a palm against his cheek, he stirred and moaned weakly.
"Carter? That you?" he gasped so softly that she had to bend right over him to hear the words. Tears sprang from behind her eyes to roll unchecked down her own cheeks.
"Oh God Jack!" she sighed, knowing that his situation was hopeless. There would be no comeback if she used his given name now, and it didn't seem right to be so formal at this point in time.
The corners of his lips turned upwards in a wry grin, despite the obvious pain.
"Now you decide to call me Jack!" he huffed feebly with amusement.
She released a shuddering sob in reply, unable to stop it from escaping.
His hand shook as he lifted it, trying to touch her face. It took nearly all his reserves of energy, he sighed with longing at the feel of the tears against her soft skin and the fact that he could do so now without censure or reproof was an added bonus; too bad he was gonna have to die in order to be able to enjoy the moment. They were surrounded by the dead, and dead men tell no tales.
"Don't leave me Jack!" she cried, lifting his shoulders to rest on her knees as she cradled him in her arms, possibly for the first and only time in their long and complicated history.
"Saammm," the sigh died on his lips as he fell into the blackness that had swamped his consciousness, and his near lifeless body sagged limply in her grasp.
Sam panicked, frantically feeling for his pulse.
"C'mon Jack! Don't do this! Please!" she chanted, using all her willpower to bring him back again.
She gulped a little in relief when she could still feel the faint and thready beat, as what was left of his blood, pulsed feebly through his veins.
She gently brushed the sweat beaded brow, pushing away the stray silver strands that had fallen over it. She'd always longed to do just this, wondering how soft or perhaps wiry it would be. It was soft, though stiffened in places where sweat and blood had stained it. She smiled in the memory of this often wayward hair; how it had quickly turned from brown to iron grey and then to silver as time passed them by. He always swore it was Daniel who had made him turn grey almost overnight, and he never failed to get a rise out of the archaeologist for saying it.
He had aged since taking command of the SGC; the difference sometimes more noticeable than at others, though he would deny it of course. Not that he was a vain man at all; he cared not for such things unless he was going somewhere special. Looking down at his lax features she could see it now; more lines creasing his skin; more white hair at his temples rather than silver now. Perhaps it was his age, or was it the trauma of his body deteriorating gradually before the Asgard had restored him to health after the most recent Ancient's download? Who could tell? It actually suited him. Silver was definitely his colour. It made him look distinguished and all the more handsome.
She snapped from her reverie and depressed the button on the radio again.
"Daniel? Teal'c?" she sniffed back on the tears, wiping them away with her sleeve.
Nothing. They were probably back at the SGC by now, pleading with the temporary commander to allow them to return and not stay in the infirmary to be left behind while others joined in the hunt for their colleagues; their friends.
Looking down at his face again, she shuddered with another heart-wrenching sob. She didn't want to lose him, but from where she sat it was an impossible dream. She closed her eyes as a sudden lassitude swept over her.
"Samantha!" a soft familiar voice called to her.
Sam opened her eyes again and gasped. The soft lighting shimmered and hovered around them, bathing the area in an ethereal haze.
She knew this place; she'd been here before. She reasoned that she must have fallen asleep, because she was definitely dreaming now.
"General!" she gasped as she saw him backlit by a brilliant white light.
He stood in the doorway on board the Prometheus wearing that blue shirt and casual chinos, looking for all the world like he was relaxing on holiday.
Why was she here of all places? A huge sense of Déjà vu swept over her as she recalled that time when she found herself alone on board the spacecraft, fighting to stay awake and trying to find the crew and a way out of the maze.
He had spoken to her then, saying that she should follow her heart; that he'd always be there for her, no matter.
"So formal all of a sudden? What happened to 'Jack?'"
"Sorry sir…" she shrugged guiltily, "Jack!"
He smiled that smile; the one that always robbed her of her breath and set her heart racing.
"Why are you here? Come to think of it, why am I here?" she asked, puzzled.
"You know me! This is more Daniel's scene than mine!"
"You're going to ascend?"
"Looks that way to me," he shrugged. He didn't know why he'd been chosen.
"I don't want you to!"
"You'd rather I went?" he pointed to the floor, meaning hell. "What? To Netu?"
"Already been there Sam. Didn't go much on it actually, took home more than the T-shirt if you recall!"
"Jack. It's...I don't want you to die!"
"Hey, we've all gotta go sometime."
"Not now, not here!"
"Because I love you!" she blurted.
"I want you to live!"
"I can't stop this. It's my time!"
"No!" she cried, as more tears cascaded down her face.
He sighed and bit his lip, he'd only been given time to say good-bye. Time was running out before he would be forced to leave her.
"Sam, it's not something I can stop. I'm lying there with half my chest missing, there's nothing left of me except my willpower, and this chance to say good-bye."
"Please Jack...don't leave me!"
"You have Pete now," he retorted.
She sucked in a shuddering sigh and hiccupped.
"He's a great guy, but I don't...I don't love him. My heart has always belonged to you Jack."
"Then why did you say 'Yes'?" he demanded, remembering the pain he felt when she'd told him of her engagement to the Detective and her acceptance to marry him.
"I didn't think I could have you. I was tired of you being out of my reach. I...needed someone for more than just...company."
"That's not the basis for a good marriage Sam."
"I'm not married yet. I can break it off!"
"It's too late for that."
"No. You can't die yet. I won't let you go."
"You can't stop it, and neither can I."
"I don't know. Someone I guess. It's not like I deserve this."
"Yes you do!"
"How? With all I've done in the past?" he snorted derisively. "Yeah right!"
"You're a good man Jack. You saved the world on a number of occasions. That has to count for something!"
"So what if I live? Then what? I go back home and brood over the fact that I can't have you? The regulations still stand Sam."
Sam hadn't realised until then, just what her engagement had done to him.
"I loved you Sam. No-one else. It hurt to see you with 'him'!"
"You never said anything. You should have said something at least!"
"You knew Sam. You wanted it locked away in that room. I had hoped that..." he hung his head and sighed. "Hell, when you started with that humming thing, and you told me you had a...'man' friend, my world fell apart."
"I'm sorry Jack. I'm so sorry! I didn't realise. I thought..."
"Well, you thought wrong," he accused, raising his voice.
Sam sniffed back more tears as her heart shattered with the full force of the guilt as it hit her. Not only had she messed up her own life, but his as well.
"Sam. I never came here to lay blame on you or argue over 'our' past mistakes. You're right, I should have said something before, when I had the chance. Seems we were both wrong."
"I did...I do love you Jack!"
"Oh god, I love you too, not that that's gonna get us anywhere now."
His image wavered, growing dimmer. Sam reached out to touch him, but he shook his head and she dropped her hand again, bringing both arms up to wrap around herself.
"Please stay Jack!"
"I have to go, they're waiting."
"Don't leave me!" she begged.
"You'll be okay Sam. You'll get by without me!"
His voice echoed strangely round the room as he faded away gradually.
"Jack!" she called as he disappeared. "Oh Jack!" she sobbed, falling to her knees.
"I love you Sam," he sighed. Then came a haunting echo. "Love you, love you, love you..." It repeated itself as his words reverberated around the walls, fading away just as he had.
Sam dropped her head and closed her eyes in grief. It was too late now.
"Come back to me Jack!" she sobbed.
Feeling a strange heat beneath her fingers she opened her eyes to find herself, still squatting on the ground; still clutching his almost lifeless body, but his deeply set hazel eyes were open slightly and he was looking up at her so lovingly it broke her heart all over again.
She smiled down at him through the moisture as their eyes locked.
"I'm sorry Jack. I never intended to hurt you. I shall never ever forget you. You'll always be in my heart."
"I know!" he sighed with a sad smile; his eyes closed in sleep and he released his final breath.
Sam bowed her head and cried for all the wrong she had done to him and for the biggest mistake of her life; which was to shut him out, hiding behind the regulations.
The bright white light of his spirit spiralled up and away from his body as his ascended self left nothing, of what was once him, behind.
Her body sagged with grief again, left holding only his blood stained clothes, she watched as he rose above her. A tendril of light reached out to her and curled under her chin, touching and filling her with an overwhelming sense of peace and love, finally understanding his true feelings for her.
She could hear his voice inside her head.
"Be happy Sam! Good-bye my love!"
In the blink of an eye the light that was now Jack O'Neill had gone.
Turning to the noises coming from behind her, she spied her friends along with the medical team coming to her aid. Too late; there was nothing anyone could do now, but she knew it had been a hopeless cause as soon as she'd seen him, and at least she'd had the chance to talk with him and understand each others grief. It wouldn't fill the empty space in her heart but at least she knew he was still out there.
Sam let fall the discarded clothes and climbed stiffly to her feet, using Daniel's hand to steady herself. He hugged her close and held her tightly, knowing she would need time to come to terms with what had happened. They had all seen Jack ascend, and he of all people understood exactly what that meant.
"I'm so sorry Sam. I know he really loved you."
He held her all the way back to the gate, unwilling for anyone else to touch her. She wasn't injured, just battle weary and dirty; alive but traumatised and sad.
They dialled up the gate and watched her go through first.
The returning team clattered noisily onto the ramp in the gate-room and without further ado, Sam Carter climbed the stairs to give her report. She took the engagement ring from her finger and pocketed it. She wouldn't be needing it now, not after that experience.
Sam knocked on the door and entered the office; standing to attention before the Commander and saluted smartly.
He eyed her suspiciously, taking in her tear stained face and puffy eyes and knew then, that it had been a traumatic experience for her. He rose from his chair and walked round the desk, his way of telling her that he was there for her.
"Sir," she began, holding back the tears and commanding as much military discipline as she could muster. "I have to report the battle won for the SGC forces but that General O'Neill died of his wounds and ascended to a higher plane of existence; therefore, I offer my resignation from the USAF, effective immediately."
"And why is that Colonel?" he asked cautiously.
"So I can do this...sir."
She stepped up to him, invading his personal space.
He looked down on her, frowning slightly; wondering what she was going to do next.
She slowly drew her arms around his neck and pulled his head down gently, her fingers threaded through his soft silver hair. She brushed her lips against his, then brought them back to meet with her own. His arms wrapped around her slender body, hugging her close. The kiss lasted for a life time, each lost in the heavenly sweetness, filled to the brim with thoughts of love and both experiencing the sheer ecstasy of shared emotional release after waiting for so long.
"I love you Brigadier General Jack O'Neill. I'm not losing you like she did. Your alternate self had no chance to do any of this and now his Sam has nothing left, but I'm claiming you as my own; now; as of this minute. I don't want to leave it in that room any longer. God knows, I need you!"
"Oh god, Samantha!" he sighed, burying his head in her neck, losing himself forever in her embrace.
Daniel shut the door as softly as he could, a huge smile on his face. He gave a thumbs up to the friends gathered outside in the corridor and soft whoops of delight bounced around the corridors.
All was well, and Daniel's friends would now live happily ever after.