Reality Bites - Letting go
by Lesleyp

Rating: Teens
Category: MissingScene, Romance, Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Season: SG-1 Season Eight
Featured Character(s): Jack ONeill, Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter, Tealc
Pairing(s): Sam/Jack
Summary: SG1 is going their separate ways. Jack and Sam need to move on, or do they?

Author Notes: This was the first story I wrote. It was archived to G.W. in Dec 2005, and it has been nominated for Stargate fanfic award this year. There are four chapters.

The Party in the Commissary was nearing a close. It was almost 2300 hours. Time for people to head home...at least those that were not scheduled to work tonight. It was a big turnout. No teams were off world so all were present. Lab staff, techies, med teams. Everyone who could go was there. The party had spilled out into the nearby corridors.

Things were changing. No one was really very happy about the changes, but the tone was festive just the same. They were all there to say goodbye to the lead SG team, now disbanding and going on their separate ways. Teal'c had left just under an hour ago. Daniel and Sam were still there mingling and saying goodbye to what had been their family, so it seemed, for the past 8 years. A happy and sad occasion. An era was passing.

Alone in his office sat O'Neill. All his stuff, what little there had been of personal items, packed neatly into one cardboard box. Washington, oh boy, he thought, as he let out a heavy sigh. His hands on his desk, fingers meshed, staring at his box.

In front of him the letter he had found in Carter's lab. The envelope had been on top of one of her packed boxes. His name written neatly in her handwriting.

Gen. J. O'Neill

He had found it earlier, before the start of the party. He had gone looking for her and found the lab empty, but her boxes were packed. And there it was. On top of one of her neatly packed boxes. So he had taken it and returned to his office. That was at 15:26 hours.

A couple of hours later she had come to his office with Daniel and Teal'c to drag him to the party.

"I'll be there later", he had said. "Have some... stuff... to finish off".

"But sir... this is it...come on" she had cajoled.

"Ya, Jack. You're finally rid of me", Daniel joked... "At least you could ...you know...look Generalish ... and hey, how about one of your nice Daniel Eulogies again. You know I love it when..."

"Out" he had ordered in his sternest voice. "No... seriously, I'll be there in a few... Really...", as the three of them all gave him their best doubtful looks. He didn't look her in the eyes though. He couldn't.

"Ok, well ... we'll see you there?" asked Sam.

"Sure.. ya...whatever... Soon" He answered... "now go ...GO" as he shooed them away.

Daniel and Sam had headed off. Daniel going on excitedly about his upcoming Atlantis mission. Jack was going to miss him. Teal'c had stayed behind.

"Is something bothering you O'Neill?"

Jack looked long and hard at his old friend. His brother.

"Is it Washington O'Neill? Do you not wish to go?"

"No... I don't. But it's where I gotta be... at least for now."

"Is that what is troubling you." There was no question in Teal'c's voice.

"No".

"Is there something I can assist with then?"

Jack motioned Teal'c to come into the office then handed him the letter. Teal'c read it.

"There is a problem O'Neill?"

"Well... Hell...Yaaaaaaa" O'Neill drawled out with a pained expression.

"Tell me this is not news to you" Teal'c stated, tilting his head.

"Well yes... Ok...no, not really"

Teal'c raised his eyebrow, expecting further clarification. "You must have known you would have to deal with your feelings for each other at some time" he finally said.

"No I didn't, well, maybe I did at some time. I just ...well sometime has come up too...I'm not ready for this now".

"I see... not". Teal'c said with just a hint of a smirk.

Jack had returned his stare back to his desk.

"Well what do you intend to do now?" Teal'c asked.

"Nothing."

Again Teal'c tiled his head, a look of concern spread across his face. "Nothing, O'Neill?"

"What can I do?" asked Jack, looking at his friend, almost hoping Teal'c had the answer.

Teal'c looked thoughtful for a moment and began to speak. "You are my friend and my brother. I have not offered my counsel before in this area. But I give it now. We have seen much, faced death many times. We all, you, Daniel Jackson, Samantha Carter, and myself have a bond that will not break by the distance we must now put between us. We have freed my people and saved your world, and many other world's from certain doom. You owe them nothing O'Neill. And we each, owe each other...everything. Be true to yourself. That is my say. And I will speak no more of it unless you request me to do so."

"Ah... no... thanks T.. that was great. Actually that's probably the most you've ever said at one time." Jack quipped, finally breaking a smile.

"Indeed". Teal'c nodded his head. "Are you then coming to the farewell party?"

"Ah ya... give me a few..."

And with that, Teal'c gave a small bow and headed off, presumably to the commissary to meet up with the rest of the gang.

2200 hours found Jack still sitting at his desk, reading and re reading the letter.

Teal'c reappeared. "It is time for me to take my leave O'Neill"

Jack nodded and stood. Together they walked to the gate room. Not a word passed between them. As the gate engaged, they grabbed forearms, exchanging looks. Brothers.

"Be well" was all Teal'c said.

"Ditto" Jack said seriously.

Teal'c had walked into the event horizon of the gate without a backward glance, and Jack slowly walked back to his office where he was still sitting an hour later.

And there it was. The letter. He picked it up again and re read it for the 100th time. God he hated reading stuff.

Dear Jack

This letter is so against regulations. I'm not even going to give it to you. So why then am I even bothering to write it? I could actually be working on something useful right now. Like packing. That would be productive. I guess I just have all these thoughts and feelings running rampant in my head. Writing them down pretending I might share this with you someday somehow makes me feel better. A catharsis.

Dammit Sir, I am going to miss you. I know you already know how I feel about you. How couldn't you... after I interrupted your backyard BBQ with Kerry Johnson. I am so sorry for that sir, really... ok, maybe not so sorry.

I love you Jack. I'm in love with you Jack. But you know that. I know you don't feel the same and really, I'm ok with that. I'm just so used to seeing you everyday. Having that comfort, that security. Every time I need you, I just had to turn around, and there you were. The masculine smell of you. The warmth of your body close to mine. You'll never know how close I came time after time to crossing "the line". Just being around you made me feel complete. Intimacy would have been nice. Ok, great. But I'm getting off track, and every time I think along that track I'm useless for hours. And the party is in a couple of hours. That's when I have to pretend to feel nothing as I say good bye to you. Soon we'll be hundreds of miles apart, and I don't know how I'm going to get through it. Sorry sir, don't mean to cry.

I really can't ever give you this letter. Just picturing the look on your face though is making me laugh. The confusion, the oh sh$, what do I do now look. I love that look. Probably because whenever I saw that look you turned to me for some kind of input. We've been through so much together, helped each other time and time again.

I know you would say there's someone else out there for me, that could give me the life I want.. But I can't imagine ever being with anyone now that I know how I feel about you. I almost made that mistake with Pete. Doh!...as you would say. I'm glad I came to my senses. I wanted you. I've always wanted you, even if that meant stolen moments, no guarantees. I would have at least had you.

It's ok. I can be alone. I'll pour myself into my work. R and D Area 51 is right up my alley. I'll find lots to keep me busy. My life will go on without you. It'll just be empty. I will miss you so much.

You are the bravest, kindest, strongest, handsomest man I have ever known. Serving under you was a dream come true. I cannot forget you. I cannot replace you. There will be no one but you. I will miss you. I will always love you. Good bye General. Love S.C.

He folded the letter again. He'd done it so often over the course of a few hours it was beginning to tatter.

The problem. He did feel the same. Dammit.

He had thought of Sam throughout the years as, well, chauvinistic as it seemed, his. He had imagined scenarios of them stealing off to places. Nothing exotic. His house, her place, the cabin. Pizza, beer, snuggles on the couch. Watching TV. Being together. Heaven.

In all his imaginings he always stopped short of fantasizing anything more intimate. Not because he didn't want anything more. But because he did. He knew if he crossed that line, even in his own mind, there would be no turning back for him. Part of him always thought it would happen someday. But things have changed. He couldn't retire. Not now. When he tried he was denied, directly by the President, and assigned to command Homeworld security, with SGC still under his umbrella. Bigger umbrella now though. And the world still needed the brain power of Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter to save the day. Plus she still hadn't parted the red sea yet. He couldn't take her away. Not now. So she was still to be technically under his command.

How could he make this work? He wanted her. More than he ever imagined he could want another human being. She was smart. She was so... damned... hot. And funny. And sweet. And Military. She understood him. She understood his life. She was the perfect woman... for him. Ok, soul mate as corny as that sounded.

Jack was still trying to figure out a game plan when there was a knock at the door.

"Sir.. party's over" Sam said as she stood at his office door. "Everyone missed you." She looked at his face carefully. He was avoiding eye contact. Something was wrong. "Sir, are you ok?" she asked.

"Daniel?" asked Jack.

"Had too much punch", Sam laughed, "he's gone to sleep it off. The Daedulous doesn't leave for another week anyways. He'll see you tomorrow. I'll be leaving in a couple of hours though." she said, still standing in the door way. "Just have to finish putting my boxes in the car. I want to set up house before reporting in on Monday."

"Ya," started Jack, "about your boxes..."

She looked at him curiously

Jack motioned for her to come in, then as she entered he swung his hand toward the door.

"Door closing, sir?"

"Yup...Sit Carter." She did after closing his door.

For the first time he looked her in the eyes and his heart filled with longing and love...and the deepest sadness he had ever known, well at least the second deepest sadness he had ever known.

"I was in your lab earlier today looking for you. Wanted to know what you were gonna wear to the party so we wouldn't ...you know... wear the same thing..." he joked. She laughed. The most beautiful laugh.

Perfect woman. She even laughed at his stupid jokes.

He continued. "Well anyways, you weren't there...as you know...cause if you were then you'd have been there... ah...never mind." He was beginning to feel very awkward. "Let me start over...Sam, I suck at this sort of thing."

Sam looked at him quizzically, but amused. What was he doing?

He slid her letter over to her. At first she didn't comprehend until she opened and saw that it was her letter to him, or rather the letter she wasn't going to give to him. She thought she had packed it.

"Oh my god..." her face turning a deep red. "Oh my go..."

"Ya, you said that already"

"Sir, I am so...so sorry... I never meant.. oh my god"

"Shhhh" he said, and held up his hand. "It's ok. I won't tell on you. Relax." he said with a forced grin feeling anything but relaxed.

He stood and came around the desk and took the chair beside her. Her gaze shifted to the letter she held clasped in her hands. He noticed her hands were trembling, but soldier that she was she remained composed. How he loved this woman. Strong, smart, hot, funny. He loved everything about her from the smell of her hair, to, yes, he hated to admit it, he even loved listening to her techno babble. It didn't matter to him what she said, just the sound of her voice.

He turned her chair so she was facing him and gently took her hands in his. He thought of all that could be, and the consequences they could...no ...she could face. He didn't care what they did to him. He cared about her. He would gain everything just by telling her how he felt, and she would gain... nothing. He never wanted to hurt her. Either way, she would be hurt. There was no avoiding this any longer.

"Sam..." he started.

"Yes sir?" she was finally able to bring herself to look at him.

"Jack..." he offered gently.

"Yes, Jack?"

He glanced away briefly then brought his gaze back to her beautiful blue doe eyes.

"I told ya, I really suck at this..." he started again.

"It's ok sir... Jack. ... I guess I started this. Really... I never meant for you to see..."

"Sssshhhh", he said, cutting her off.

He took in a deep breath and let out a slow sigh. "Let me finish Sam or I won't get through this."

"Yes si...Jack."

"Where was I?"

"You suck at this".

"Oh ya. Well I do. You're right. We've been through a lot together. Seen things. Been there for each other. It's been hell out there..." he waived toward the direction of the gate room. "But we had each other to get us through."

"People..." he continued, "Soldiers...like you and me...develop...bonds... when ...well, when we go through tough times ...trauma... Sometimes we mistake that bond to mean something more... Romanticize it..." he stopped for a second, "not with other guys..." he began to back wheel after realizing where this was going. "You're not a guy...you're you know... you... A very pretty you... and well..." he stopped.

Dammit, he thought to himself, this was getting very...very...awkward.

"You're telling me my feelings aren't real ...that I romanticize you because of all we've been thru...don't worry sir, I do get it." She stated in a subdued tone.

"Ya, something like that" Jack said still feeling uncomfortable.

"Sir you don't need to..."she began.

"Jack" he said, "And yes, I do. Sam, I care about you. A lot. More than I should. But I don't love you. Not the same way you..." he gestured toward the letter. "I'm sorry."

Neither said anything for a moment, both looking at the letter. Then Jack tried again.

"Look, this place is a fish bowl. You'll get out there, you'll find the man of your dreams, have a couple of mini Carters. Live happily ever after. And you'll look back and wonder how you thought you coulda felt something for an old geez like me".

"No sir..." she tried to interrupt

"Yes, Sam. Trust me. I have nothing to offer you except the chance to get you, me, the both of us court martialled. Is that what you want Sam? Really? One night stands on the sly?"

He hesitated, for just a moment, then continued on. "Let's see, I'll be in Nevada in a month...Probably for just a couple hours. I'll find us a nice cheap, out of the way, motel room...for a quick LAY over..."

He started to ramble and anger crept into his voice... not at her, but at himself for doing this... but he couldn't stop now, he had to see this through. "Then maybe I can arrange to make an excuse to get you into Washington a month after that...hey in 6 months maybe I can arrange a nice weekend at the cabin. You can't breathe a word of this to anyone though Sam. No one can see us, no one can know, we can't go out anywhere, be seen together... Just quick one nighters...with Jack "sure thing" O'Neill. Does that really do it for you? Maybe you just got a thing for men with power...I've heard there are women who..."

Her hand came across his face hard. He hadn't even noticed the glimmer of unshed tears in her eyes.

"Ouch" was all he could say as a red palm print reared itself on his cheek.

"You bastand" she gritted out.

"More than you know", was his reply. "You don't know me the way you think you do."

"I guess not", she gritted out. "I know what you're doing, and it didn't have to be this way. You took the letter. I was never going to give it to you". She was livid, her eyes flashing angrily at him. "You should have left it alone instead of making me feel like an idiot. I knew all of that..." she hissed, meaning she understood his scenario is all that could have been for them. "It didn't change the way I felt about you. But this sure as hell did. That you could treat me like some imbecilic school girl with a crush that you have to handle'" ...she wheeled the chair back and stood. The anger and hurt written all over her face.

He could feel his heart pounding, it was going to break. He never wanted to hurt her, never even considered this outcome.

She turned, back ram rod straight and strode to the door, clenching the knob as she wrenched it open.

"Sam?" he finally managed to get out.

She stopped, back to him. Straight as a board. She was a soldier after all, despite how he had just treated her.

He hesitated for a moment, torn between two options. He could fix this. He knew he should, knew he wanted to. More than anything he did not want her hating him. Jack took in a deep, anguished breathe, let it out slowly, then did what he knew he had to.

"I expect" he started in a quiet voice, "that in the future we not mention this again. It's to be forgotten when you leave. You are still in my chain of Command." Then louder, "Hit me again Colonel, and I'll have you up on assaulting a superior officer. Do.. you... understand?"

"Yes...Sir" she said through clenched teeth, back still to him.

"Good...dismissed."

The door slammed behind her and he slumped back in the chair. He had just destroyed any possibility of ever being with the woman he adored most. She would hate him, probably forever. And she would hurt. But she was strong. She would get over it...him. She would find someone, or someone would find her. She was too amazing for anything else. She was safe from being caught, gossiped about, made to feel cheap, demoted, or worse. She was safe...from him. He would never be good enough for her anyways. She was so damned smart, and so...hot.

He knew he would never love another and would continue in his soldier's life...alone.

But now that he wouldn't see her again, or at least not very frequently...what could it hurt?

He stood, walked to the door and turned off his lights. Only the glow of the dimmed lights in the empty briefing room allowed any light into his office. He returned to behind his desk and sat in his chair. Wouldn't be his for much longer he thought.

And so he sat there. And let his thoughts carry him away. He imagined he saw himself slipping a ring on her finger, carrying her over a threshold, watching her beautiful laughing face change to an expression of ecstasy as he slowly undressed her and began to kiss her softly. Starting at her feet and working ever so slowly ...up.

TBC


DISCLAIMER: "Stargate SG-1," "Stargate Atlantis," and its characters are the property of MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Film Corp., Showtime/Viacom and USA Networks, Inc. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations and story are the property of the author(s), and may not be republished or archived elsewhere without the author's permission.