Disclaimer: Still not mine, more's the pity.
A/N: So, here's the end. What did you think of the improved version? Oh, I also had Te Amare betaed, will be posting that one very, very soon. And for those that were reading Life After the SGC, good news - I'm almost done writing it. Shall be posting the last few chapters in the next few days too!! Hope you enjoyed this repost!!
A couple of weeks later in the SGC embarkation room
As he spoke, General Hammond looked at the sea of faces that were looking back at him and felt a rush of emotions come forth at the thousand and one memories they brought back.
He had spent seven of the most terrifying, and yet exhilarating, years of his life in this place. It had turned his life upside down and forced him to make decisions he had never in a million years thought he'd have to make and yet it had also introduced him to wonders the likes of which most people couldn't even dream of and to a bunch of extraordinary people, who in a very short time, became his family.
It had been hard to make the decision and stick with it, the thought of not seeing them again, of not knowing what they were doing, was extremely hard. But it was time; it was past time, and General George Hammond always knew when to leave a party.
After a last look around to memorize each and every face, General Hammond finished his remarks, "It has been my greatest privilege and honor to work with each and every one of you. I have never known a group of people more dedicated and I'll shall miss all of you. Thank you for some of the best times of my life."
He turned the podium over to the President to thunderous applause. Hammond had been a much liked and respected CO, and while they all liked O'Neill, they had also missed Hammond's calm and soothing presence. There was more than one damp eye in the group, as they realized General Hammond was leaving for good; the thought of the program without him was inconceivable to most.
They knew General O'Neill would be taking over for him and that he, as always, would have their six, but that meant that O'Neill would also be leaving and an SGC without him or anyone from SG1 was just wrong. Change was coming to the SGC and coming fast.
The President stepped up to the podium and looked at every one gathered. The fact that everyone on base was here to say goodbye to two of their leaders spoke volumes for the loyalty those two leaders inspired.
"First, I want to thank each of you for all the hard work and sacrifices you have made in the past eight years. Your dedication and bravery is the reason we're all standing here today. You've saved not only this planet, but the whole galaxy, more than once and we are all in your debt. Nothing I, or this country could do, would ever even begin to repay everything you've given us; nor would it give back everything you've lost. All we, I, can do is thank you and hope that we never again find ourselves in this situation. But while the Goa'uld war is over, the SGC is still needed and it will continue its mission of exploration – it will however do it under new leadership.
"The SGC has had two exemplary CO's. One, Gen. Hammond, is retiring and we are all going to be the lesser because of his absence. The second and more controversial CO," here there was some laughter, as they all knew that Jack liked nothing more than to stir up trouble, "General O'Neill will be moving to take up Gen. Hammond's job as Head of Homeworld Security in Washington, DC. A position of great power and responsibility and one in which I'm sure he'll excel.
"We've all gathered here say our goodbyes to these extraordinary men as they embark on their new paths. But before we go on to the feast, which I'm sure will include cake," again everyone laughed, it seemed Gen. O'Neill's addiction to cake was known even in the White House. "I want to present Gen. O'Neill with something. General, will you please come up?" He asked, turning to look at Jack.
Jack looked surprised, as he left his place behind the president, where he'd been standing next to Sam and the rest of SG1, and marched up to where the President was standing. He stood at attention in front of the President and waited to see what was going on.
"General O'Neill, for your bravery, dedication to duty and your sacrifices above and beyond the call of duty, it is my honor to promote you to the rank of Major General from this day on, with all the duties and privileges of said rank."
Hammond stepped up and, together with the President, pinned on Jack's second star. He also greatly enjoyed the dumbfounded look on Jack's face. He stepped back when the star was secured and both he and the President saluted the newly promoted 2 star general.
Despite Jack's surprise, he was military through and through and automatically returned a smart salute. That was enough to break the assembly out of their stunned surprise and a wave of applause and whistles soon followed.
The President shook Jack's hand and congratulated him, "Congratulations, Major General."
"Thank you, Mr. President." He then turned and shook hands with Hammond, "Thank you, sir."
"You don't have to call me 'sir' anymore, Jack. Not only am I retired, but we're the same rank now." He then grinned and asked, "Took you totally by surprise, didn't it?"
"Yes, s. . . I mean George," Jack answered, still looking flabbergasted. "Wasn't expecting it at all. I mean I only made general last year, didn't think another promotion would come this soon. I actually never expected to make it to Brigadier General let alone Major General, to tell you the truth," he admitted with a self-deprecating grin.
"I know, Jack," the President said, "but you deserve it. I can't think of anyone who deserves it more than you."
"He's right, you know. You really deserve it," Sam said, as she, Daniel and Teal'c came to stand next to Jack and Hammond. "Congratulations, sir. I'm very happy for you."
"Yeah, Jack. Congratulations, you definitely deserve it." Daniel shook Jack's hand, grinning as he added, "you should have seen your face when the President called you up, Jack. Hilarious."
"I also offer my congratulations, O'Neill. It is a most appropriate gesture." Teal'c said, inclining his head in Jack's direction.
"Thanks Danny, Teal'c," he nodded to the guys before turning to Sam. "Carter, didn't your transfer come through this morning? And didn't I just get promoted to Head of Homeworld Security?" At Sam's "yes, sir" Jack asked, "Then what's with the 'sir'?"
"You're right, Jack." Sam said, as she took a step forward and into Jack's personal space. "Congratulations, Jack. I'm very proud of you." Then she put her arms around his neck and kissed him on the mouth in front of Hammond, the President and the whole of the SGC.
She had intended for it to be a brief kiss, more a symbolic gesture than anything else. Jack, however, had other ideas. He put one of his arms around her waist, the other around her neck before dipping and kissing her deeply – just like in the loop.
As Teal'c saw it, he remembered that particular loop and couldn't help breaking into a huge grin.
The sight of the base's former CO and his former 2IC kissing produced the second stunned silence of the day. This silence, however, was much shorter than the first one.
While everyone was surprised that they would kiss in public, everyone knew of their feelings for one another, and thus, no one was surprised at the fact that they were kissing.
The hoots, hollers, applause and whistles started only a few seconds later. Led by none other than Daniel himself. The President and Hammond just smiled and thought to themselves, 'it's about time.'
Jack and Sam, though, were too wrapped up in kissing, to pay attention to what everyone around them was doing; if they hadn't, they would have been surprised at the number of bets their kissing settled. A few moments, or possibly hours, later (who could really tell?) they broke apart. They looked into each other's eyes and in the same breath said, "I love you."