A/N- Finally an update. I also revised the preceding chapters for a couple of errors and such. I think my life has settled enough at the moment that I will be able towork regularlyon my fic once more. Igoing to tryto post at least one chapter every other week until commplete. I hope people are still interested.

See You Space Cowboy

Part 10

"They got a million souls at the lost and found

Well you should have known better

Dead thoughts and lost horizons

And to take it further

It don't get any better"

Interstate, The Refreshments

Sam couldn't believe she was here.

A front row seat at New York's Fashion Week was the very last place in several galaxies she'd imagine being a week after one of her dearest friends had died.

A week after she'd been unable to save Teal'c.

No one blamed her, of course. They thought she'd done her best with the 48 hour deadline. She blamed herself though. Maybe if she hadn't let that bastard McKay get under her skin so much she could have pulled a miracle out of her as- hat. Her hat. She could still feel the satisfying crunch against her hand as his nose had cracked. She was lucky McKay hadn't pressed charges. She couldn't understand why he didn't. She would have killed him if they hadn't pulled her off.

If she couldn't believe she was here, she certainly couldn't believe she had been ordered to come here. Whoever heard of an Air Force general ordering one of his subordinates to spend a week attending fashion shows and parties in New York. But General Hammond had and here she was with her CO's wife as warden. She knew why he had, of course. Everyone was so afraid she was finally snapping after what had happened in the last few months. How they figured an enforced vacation would bring back Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c she had no idea. That would be the only way she would ever been 'alright' again.

As she watched the women parade across the runway, she thought Teal'c would have been fascinated by the whole experience. He'd always enjoyed experimenting with Earth fashion, perhaps a little too much at times. She wondered if the Goa'uld had fashion designers. And if they didn't, then who came up with that whole gold lame Siegfried and Roy Las Vegas kitsch look.

Sam couldn't deny there was the girly side of her was enjoying the whole experience just a tiny bit, though it wasn't like she could ever afford any of these clothes. Sam and Hildy were currently at the Van Dyne show. They had gone backstage before the show to meet the designer, who it seemed was a close friend of Hildy's. Janet Van Dyne was a talkative multitasking whirlwind, who simultaneously carried on a conversation with them while orchestrating the grand chaos of models, hairdressers and make-up artists. Sam thought she would make a very good general, though a very tiny one. She also decided that all Janets must be destined to be very short people.

Sam stood by herself wearing the simple little black dress she had once thought elegant and sophisticated. Now she felt gauche and shabby amongst all the Armani, Chanel, and Prada the people around her wore. Janet Van Dyne had greeted them warmly when they had arrived. Hildy went around to mingle. Janet taken Sam in hand and had dragged her around introducing her to people she had no way of really carrying on a conversation. What did a theoretical astrophysicist who fought evil aliens for a living had to say to a fashion editor who believed the future of fashion was dependant on the various subcultures of Japanese youth.

Sam thought she was going to be saved from spending the whole night nodding along to vapid conversation when Janet introduced Sam to her estranged husband, the biochemist Doctor Hank Pym. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for Sam to figure out why they were estranged. His arrogance and self-centeredness reminded her of McKay, but his belligerence made her uneasy. Luckily he was soon bored with her and Sam managed to find a corner to fade into.

"Fancy meeting you here."

Or so she thought. She looked up and expected a drunken come on and was pleasantly surprised to see someone she actually knew. "Mr. Stark!"

"Major Carter, may I join you?"

"Please," Sam said smiling up at him and he settled down next to her on the small sofa.

"I took the liberty of getting you a drink," he said passing her a dirty martini.

"Thank you, Mister Stark. I could probably use one."

"Tony, please."

"And you can call me Sam."

"So, Sam, how do you find yourself in this mad house?"

"I came with Hildy Dixon." She leaned closer to him and whispered conspiratorially. "This really isn't my scene."

Tony glanced around the room then focused on her with charming smile. "No, as I recall your scene was being up to your elbows in an experimental engine."

Sam felt guilty and hung-over as she made her way into the lobby of the Rihga Royal. Sam had drunk a lot last night. Tony had drunk even more. They had ditched the Van Dyne party and ended up at the Stark Technology headquarters. Tony had shown off some his latest designs and experiments. Sam had wondered before intoxication over came her why he would house his experimental labs and technologies in a skyscraper in the middle of Manhattan. But after a couple more drinks she wasn't very concerned about his safety protocols.

They had discussed all manner of technical things until the wee hours of the morning. Drank and discussed, both finding it refreshing to speak with someone (and an altogether not unattractive someone) on the same intellectual level about the science that obsessed them both. They emptied two of the bottles of fine scotch that Tony had had in his office.

For a little while Sam managed to forget her real life in the blur of technobabble, scotch, and sex she couldn't quite remember. She awaked naked in bed next to an unconscious Tony with one of the worst hangovers in her life. And she didn't care, because this was not her world. Soon enough she would have to return to the reality of the Colonel's abandonment, Teal'c's death, and a seemingly never ending war.

Best of all Tony Stark was absolutely nothing like Colonel O'Neill. He was smooth and dashing and she didn't have to edit her conversation and put it in the simplest words possible.

So why did she feel so guilty stumbling into the suite she shared with Hildy?

Hildy looked up from where she lacing up her tall black boots. "You look like shit."

Sam collapsed on the couch beside her. "I feel like shit."

Hildy stood and smoothed out her long forest green skirt. "Did you have a good time?"

"I think so, she said leaning back into the couch and closed her eyes against the light streaming in from the window. "I don't really remember. We talked a lot. He showed me some of the experimental stuff he's working on."

"Well, I'm off to Ralph Lauren. Why don't you sleep this off and I'll pick you up for dinner."

"I'm sorry, Hildy."

"For what?"

"For being like this."

"Sam, I'm not your mother or your keeper. You don't owe me any apologies. Sometimes we all need to go a little wild. Something I think you could do a little more. Why do you think I brought here, somewhere out of your safe little environment? You need unwind before you implode."

"Then why do I feel so guilty?"

"Because Tony Stark isn't Jack O'Neill. But you gotta get over that, Sam. Jack isn't coming back."

"I know."

Jack couldn't categorically state he never enjoyed killing people. Most times it was just because it had to be done, a nameless target he'd been assigned to take out, someone in the way of his objective, or some poor slob a lot like him that just happened to salute the wrong flag.

Other times he relished every second of the life taking, the sticky blood spilling over his hand as his knife opened the bastard's throat or the satisfying snap-crunch of the son of a bitch's neck breaking beneath his hands. The people that Jack exulted in and savored their death never died quickly from a far away sniper's bullet. Those people died up close and personal and generally not quickly, because they had committed a crime that hurt Jack very personally. Jack was the hand of vengeance in those moments and he reveled in it.

Doctor Rodney McKay, recently assigned to help the Russians build Naquada generators, died such a death. His body, beaten nearly beyond recognition with a killing wound caused by a double bladed knife to the neck, was found in an alley in the worst section of Moscow. Police believed Dr. McKay had strayed too far off the beaten path and met his untimely end at the hands of a street gang. No arrests were ever made.

Jack returned to Madripoor. He sat at his usual table with the usual people and drank his usual drink. No questions were asked. The funny thing was, Jack had forgotten as he did every time that exacting vengeance did not fill the hole in his heart .

He left the Princess Bar earlier than usual that night his restlessness unable to be calmed despite the alcohol. He knew that night would end in some sort of confrontation because he was spoiling for a fight. He knew that would not stop the hurt just as killing McKay had not.