Title: Issues

Author: Ayianna

Email: Vignette/Missing Scene

Disclaimer: Stargate SG1 and its characters don't belong to me. And no, I'm not making any profit off of this.

Spoilers: Anything's possible, but you really need to be familiar with the eighth season episode "Threads."

Summary: Jack helps Sam through a difficult event.

"When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window." Maria in The Sound of Music

They drifted away from the open grave in twos and threes until a single slim figure stood alone. Dressed in black, her short golden hair hidden beneath a simple veiled hat, she blended into the gray landscape and drizzling rain, all but indistinguishable from the trunk of the ancient oak tree just behind her. She knelt, uncaring of the muddy ground, and placed one hand on the burnished wood of the simple coffin, bowing her head against the rain that dripped steadily from the leaves above her. Her lips moved silently. A prayer? A benediction? Goodbye?

Several yards away, he leaned against the car and waited, watching, giving her the privacy he knew she needed. Cars moved slowly past as one after another the other mourners departed, some to her house for the wake, others back to Cheyenne Mountain. He made no move to follow. He'd wait as long as it took.

"We need to go back." Daniel spoke quietly at his side. "Somebody needs to escort the Tok'ra back to the gate."

"Take Teal'c."

He knew Daniel's gaze rested on the lone figure by the grave, knew the argument that was coming before the first word was spoken. He turned his head, meeting his friend's concerned gaze. "I'll make sure she gets home."

Daniel glanced at Sam one more time, then nodded once and turned, moving on silent feet to his car. Teal'c said nothing, merely bowing his head before following Daniel. A few moments later, the car pulled away, and they were alone. The seconds ticked by, then the minutes, and still he waited. He was watching, ignoring the trickle of cold water down the back of his neck, when she ran her hand across the gleaming wooden surface in a final gesture of farewell then stood and turned toward him. She moved slowly but gracefully across the grass, head high and shoulders back, and though when she reached him he saw the sparkle of tears on her lashes, she seemed… at peace.

"You're getting soaked, Sir." She said it like that more and more often of late – like it was his name instead of just a term of respect.

"Correction," he said, with a hint of a smile. "I am soaked." He looked her over. "But then so are you."

"You shouldn't have waited."

He shrugged a shoulder. "Didn't have anything better to do."

It was a lie, and she knew it, but she didn't call him on it.

"Ready to go?" he asked, changing the subject.

She nodded. "I'm sure Mark has everything under control, but I should get back."

He gestured toward her car, parked just in front of his. "After you."

"Sir… You really don't have to do this."

He knew what she was talking about, but pretended he didn't just for the hell of it. "Do what?"

"The wake." Her expression told him she'd seen right through him.

"Yeah, well… It's free food." He gave her that little boy grin he used when he spoke of yo-yos and cake. She sighed and turned away, but not before he spotted the hint of an indulgent smile.

He walked around his car to the driver's side and climbed in, starting the engine and turning on the wipers, but he didn't shift into gear until she pulled away from the curb in front of him.

She moved among the guests, seeing to their comfort and taking part in polite conversation. Several times she noticed Jack out of the corner of her eye, always nearby, but never underfoot. His calm presence gave her the strength to get through the interminable hours of the wake. When it finally ended, and people started to leave, he stayed behind, helping her pick up the scattered cups and plates, taking out the garbage, and putting the leftovers away in a refrigerator that had never in its life seen so much food.

She balanced the last container on top of a jar of olives on the top shelf, saying a silent prayer that there'd be no avalanche the next time she opened the refrigerator door. "Want a beer before you go?"


She grabbed two bottles and slammed the door shut, leaning against it and giving the counter next to it a quick double knock before popping the top off her beer.

He raised a curious eyebrow, "What was that all about?"

"Knocking on wood that the fridge doesn't explode."

"Little full, huh?"

"You might say that. I think there's enough food in there to feed the entire population of P4S-935 for a month."

"Not unless most of it's blue and orange and still has legs," he said sardonically.

"Come on, Sir. It wasn't that bad."

He just looked at her, and suddenly she grinned. "All right, it was. Daniel didn't seem to mind it, though."

He rolled his eyes. "He'd eat fried slugs if an alien offered them to him," he said, following her to the living room.

"Ewww." She kicked off her shoes and sat down with a sigh, tucking her legs under her. "You're probably right, but still…"

"Not probably. Definitely. Did you see that stuff he ate on P97-605?"

"The squishy brown stuff with green and red flecks? Yeah, I saw it." She made a face. "Must you remind me?"

"Hey, you started this conversation."

"My mistake."

Silence settled over them, but it was a friendly silence born of years of trust, and respect, and the something more that hummed in the background but somehow didn't force itself into the room. Not, at least, until Jack's next words.

"So…" he said quietly. "No Pete?"

Sam's head jerked up from where she'd been idly contemplating the label on her beer bottle. Suddenly oddly nervous, she considered him, watching for any sign of ulterior motive, but he gazed back innocently, his expression holding nothing but friendly interest.

"No," she said finally. "No Pete."

She caught his glance at her hand, the subtle nod at the absence of an engagement ring, and decided turnabout was fair play.

"No Kerry?"

He grinned, acknowledging her remark for what it was, an attempt to balance the score in the discomfort department.

"Apparently I have issues."


"Yup." He nodded with a hint of pride.

"I see…" She trailed off. Where do you go with a conversation like this? He was, after all, still her CO. She decided a change of subject was in order.

"So what's next, Sir?" Wrong question. She knew instantly that he'd misinterpret it.

"Next?" The raised eyebrow and cocked head said it all.

She sighed. "I mean at the SGC, Sir."

"Ahh…" He considered that for a moment, and then shrugged. "No idea."

"No new bad guys looming on the horizon?"

"Ba'al's still out there someplace."

"After Anubis, Ba'al should be easy."

"Not easy... Different. Anubis preferred grand gestures. The old 'let's wipe 'em all out and start all over from scratch' approach.' Always had to be right in the middle of things. You never had to look very hard to find him."

"And Ba'al?"

"Ba'al likes the personal touch. Look your prey in the eye while you kill him. Sneakier, harder to catch. I'd bet he's gone into hiding someplace."

"I can see how he could actually be worse than Anubis was," Sam said, remembering Kanaan.

"You have no idea."

Sam took a long drink of her beer, enjoying the cold wetness it as it slid down her throat. When she brought the bottle down he was watching her with an intensity that made her swallow – hard.

"Something wrong?" And then, after the slightest hesitation, "Sir?"

He shook his head, grinned, and lowered his gaze to his own bottle. "Just thinking."


"Something Kerry said."

Okay. Now she was worried. "And that was…?" She asked the question, pleased when the sudden tension she felt in her back and shoulders didn't seem to make an appearance in her voice.

"That I should retire."

He said it casually, the way somebody might say they were going to the store for a quart of milk. So casually, in fact, that it took a second for the words to register in her mind. When they finally did, felt her jaw drop.


He nodded, ever so patiently. "Retire."

She blinked owlishly. "But… why?"

"She seemed to think I had good reason."

Sam considered that for a moment, debating whether or not she really wanted to know what that reason was. Oh, what the hell. "And that reason is…?"

"My issues."

"Ahh…those." She considered asking him to be more specific - considered it for about half a second - then decided she'd rather defuse a Naquadah bomb.

He nodded sagely and went back to drawing patterns in the condensation on his beer bottle.

"Are you going to do it? Retire, I mean."

"That kind of depends," he answered evasively.


He glanced up at her again, hidden meanings lurking in the depths of his dark eyes. "On whether or not it would effectively resolve my… issues."

"Right," she blinked. "And how will you know that?"

He regarded her thoughtfully. "I'm not sure yet."

"Oh." Brilliant, Sherlock.

"So you broke up with Pete?" He asked, changing the subject and yet…not.

"Yeah." She grinned suddenly. "Guess that means I have issues, too."

"Funny how that happens."

"Funny." She decided to take the lead in this bizarre conversation. "Do you think they're the same? Our issues, I mean?"

He cocked his head, considering that. "There is that possibility."

She nodded and rearranged her legs on the couch, stretching them out in front of her, quietly pleased when she saw his gaze follow the movement. "You know," she said, when she was comfortable again, "Dad said something about not letting rules stand in my way. What do you suppose he meant by that?"

"That you have issues with rules?"


Their conversation was rudely interrupted by the ring of a cell phone, and Jack sighed as he unclipped it from his belt.

"The jackass who invented these things ought to be shot," he said, punching it on and putting it to his ear. "O'Neill."

Sam collected the empty beer bottles and took them to the kitchen, rinsing them out and putting them in the recycling bin while she waited for him to finish his call. When she came back, he was on his feet, looking more than a little annoyed with the world.

"Problems at the beta site," he said, "I need to get back to the SGC."

Sam reached for her keys, but he stopped her. "You're off duty, Colonel."

"I know, but…"

"No buts. SG-1's on stand down until Wednesday morning."

She nodded, but she wasn't happy about it. She'd much rather hole up in her lab and hide from the world for a few days – unhealthy though that might be. Too bad he knew her so damned well. She followed him to the door. "Thank you, Sir."

He turned to her, hand on the doorknob, eyebrows raised. "For?"

Thoughts crowded into her head, dozens of things she owed him gratitude for. She settled for a single word. "Today."

"Ahh…" he nodded, his eyes serious. He reached out and traced the line of her jaw with one finger, his touch feather light. She felt her breath catch in her throat at the contact as, without conscious thought, she leaned toward him. "I meant what I said, you know," he said softly.

She blinked at him, momentarily confused.


With a final brush of his fingertips across her skin, he was gone, and Sam closed the door behind him with a soft click. Then she turned around, leaned her back against the wood, and smiled.

The End