Outside the Lines: Graveside
Summary: How far would you go to make your world right again?
Classifications: Action/Adventure, Drama, Angst, S/J
Season: 4 (Alternative storyline for 'Chain Reaction')
Disclaimer: The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-1, 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: The title of this fic and the idea were inspired by a song by Lisa Loeb ('Wander for Me') on the long commute home. I wanted a look at Sam, her reaction to a major character death and what she might be capable of if she was pushed to the ropes over the protection of her teammates. Here's what I came up with. Italicized bits are flashbacks, but I think you got that...:)
Outside the Lines
Samantha Carter stood tall and still in her uniform among a sea of gravestones. Her hair was neatly tucked under her cap and her eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses. The bright sun shone down on her and the others assembled on either side of her.
Sam pulled surreptitiously at the collar of her shirt, silently reflecting that she had worn her dress blues at too many of these occasions lately. It had only been three weeks since she had stood in a similar spot half-listening to speeches about great men and great sacrifices, her eyes avoiding the gaping hole at her feet that matched the one in her heart.
Funerals were a major hazard of the job, but three weeks ago SG-1 had stood in stunned silence side by side at the grave of General Hammond.
A car accident. Amazing that something so mundane could claim a man of such importance, a man of such conviction and warmth. Sam had had plenty of tears that day, even as she could feel the fizzle of raw anger radiating off of her commanding officer who stood by her side. Jack could never buy that Hammond had had a heart attack behind the wheel and plowed his car into a pole.
But where was Jack now? That was the true question as she stared at the empty grave in front of her. Three days ago her world had shattered, Major York and Lieutenant Wash reporting back as the only survivors of the newly formed SG-1.
Standing in the control room with Teal'c at her side, Sam had heard the words she'd always dreaded.
"Colonel O'Neill fell in the field, sir."
Hanging from the young man's fingers were Jack's dog tags, stained with blood.
She remembered feeling Teal'c's hand pressing low against her back, offering support. But Sam hadn't swayed on her feet. She hadn't reached out to touch the tags, to see if they harbored any residual warmth of the man who had worn them. She had not cried.
She had felt absolutely nothing.
For three days she had walked the halls of the SGC like a phantom, grinding her teeth at every sympathetic glance and studiously ignoring every soft 'How are you doing?'
She began to wonder what was wrong with her. Hadn't she cared more that this? Shouldn't she feel more? And then there was guilt, a constant bitterness in the back of her throat. Didn't he deserve more than her indifference?
The numbness finally drove her to Daniel in a frenzy of need to just feel something.
Sam found herself on Daniel's doorstep, pushing past him as soon as he answered the door. He closed the door, turning to her to ask her something or other, but Sam had already pushed him up against the wall, her hands up his shirt and her lips pressed to his.
Daniel sputtered in complete shock for a moment before his hands began to grab at hers. "Sam, what are you doing?" he managed to ask, tearing his lips from hers.
"I need to feel," she rasped harshly against his neck before nibbling at his ear.
Daniel remained rigid under the onslaught for another minute before sighing heavily and wrapping his arms around her shoulders, pulling her tight against him. Sam felt overwhelming relief that he wasn't going to question this.
"I'm not who you want, Sam," he whispered softly in her ear.
Sam flinched, her fingers digging into his skin. Damn him, she thought, pressing her eyes closed, pushing away from him.
"I'm not him," he continued, refusing to release her. "And I never can be."
"Damn you, Daniel!" she swore. She began to push against him in earnest, her fists pounding against his chest, heaping obscenities upon him. With some amazing source of strength, Daniel managed to keep her trapped against his chest, riding out the tantrum.
"I miss him, too, Sam," he confessed in a broken voice.
Sam instantly stopped struggling. Something in his voice, something in the confession maybe, created a huge crack in the dam she had made to hold everything back for the last three days. With a huge pulsing flash, she realized that she hadn't been feeling too little; she had been feeling too much to even comprehend. There was just too much to actually feel and survive.
When the tears finally came, they fell in great torrents, her body shaking helplessly. Daniel held her tightly throughout, adding his tears to hers. After minutes, hours, Sam finally confessed reverently into Daniel soaked shirt, "I loved him." They were words she had never spoken aloud, words she had never even let herself think before, and now they hovered above them like a specter.
Daniel's arms tightened around her, his fingers playing gently up and down her spine.
"I loved him," Sam said again, louder this time, as if testing out the words. "And he never even knew."
"He knew, Sam," Daniel whispered fervently, his fingers in her hair. "He knew."
Sam just pressed her head closer into Daniel's chest and listened to the steady beat of his heart, praying that he was right.
She had woken the next morning, the day of Jack's funeral, feeling the warmth of Daniel curled around her. Even now, as they stood next to the grave together some hours later, his hand was quietly entwined with hers, offering support.
Sam was no longer crying. All the red puffiness from last night was carefully concealed. Not that she didn't still feel an overwhelming avalanche of emotions, but something else today was more important.
Her stoic demeanor had little to do with what most people suspected. They probably thought that she was keeping up appearances even here, in the last moment. But Sam couldn't care less about propriety or secrets. Not today of all days.
Her head was clearer than it had been in days, as if her tears and confessions had reawakened her brain after three days of sleepwalking. She was too busy thinking to weep mindlessly at the hollow grave of her commanding officer. Too busy examining the things she had been too numb to notice before.
As she stood, listening to a priest consign an empty coffin to the bosom of God, she replayed the last time she had spoken to Jack over and over again in her head.
It had only been four nights ago that she had last seen him. He had come her door at almost eleven, catching her in her pajamas.
"Sir!" she said in surprise. She hadn't seen him in two weeks, ever since he was forced on vacation by their new commanding officer, General Bauer. Apparently Jack had accused him of having his head up his ass.
Sam would have paid to have seen that.
She suspected that Jack had used the time off to poke around into Hammond's death, but judging from how weary he looked, he hadn't found what he wanted.
"Do you want to come in?" Sam asked, opening the door wider.
Jack shook his head. "No, I just wanted to stop by, see how you're doing." He shoved his hands in his pockets and rocked on his feet. "I heard about the weapons test."
Sam rolled her eyes and let out a puff of air in annoyance. She still couldn't believe how stupid Bauer had been. "We're all very lucky to still be here," Sam said, leaning casually on the door frame.
Jack shuffled his feet. "Yeah. I'm sorry I wasn't there."
Sam stared at him for a moment, surprised by the admission. "That's okay, sir. I doubt you could have talked him out of it."
Jack shrugged and looked out at the stars visible from her front porch. "A lot of changes lately," he observed softly.
She knew he was referring to Hammond's death, Bauer and the reassignment of all the members of SG-1. She still couldn't quite believe that it was over. That she would rarely, if ever, step through the gate again. 'Too important to risk in the field.' And if she ever did, it wouldn't be at his side.
She hated that it felt like her life was spinning completely out of her control.
Suddenly Jack pulled a long white envelope from his pocket. "I want you to hold onto this for me, Carter," he said, staring at her intently. "Consider it my last order as your CO," he added with a smirk.
Sam cautiously took the envelope, her fingers brushing his. "What is it?"
"Just keep it safe somewhere. You'll know when it's time to open it."
She opened her mouth to ask more questions, but he turned abruptly and started down her front path. He stopped a few steps away and turned back to look at her. "I just wanted you to know, Carter…You're the best I've ever served with. The absolute best."
The words took her by surprise. She felt her heart beat faster. "Sir-," Sam started, but she really had no idea what to say. His behavior was unnerving to say the least.
Jack shook his head and smiled the sort of smile that always made it hard for Sam to breathe. "I just wish…," he said, trailing off. He looked like he wanted to say more, but he just shrugged and said, "Night, Carter."
"Goodnight, sir," she barely remembered to say as she watched him disappear down her front walk.
That was the last time she had seen him alive. The next day he had gone on a mission with the new SG-1. Only two members had come back, reporting that Jack and Captain Morris had fallen to enemy fire.
In her haze of disbelief, she had managed to completely forget about the mysterious envelope that she had stashed in her fire-safe for safe keeping.
Now she was simply biding her time. You'll know when it's time to open it. Those had been his words. Something in her mind was advising caution, telling her that it was somehow very important to finish all the proper motions today. Attend the funeral, mingle at the wake and, most importantly, don't rock the boat. Don't let them see that your brain is working a mile a minute. Don't let them see that you suspect.
This was all very important because as she stood by an empty grave with Daniel's hand clenched in hers, there was only one thing she was certain of.
Jack O'Neill had known this was going to happen.