Well, here's a depressing oneshot for you. The fic and the title are based on the song Whiskey Lullaby by Brad Paisely and Alison Krauss. From the moment I heard it I thought it would suit Jack and Sam, though I hesitated to write it because it would inevitably be a sad fic. But I watched Meridian yesterday and I was in a sad mood and this is what happened. I hope you enjoy it. Or at least appreciate it. Or something. Tell me what you think. Istalindar.
She'd married him. Sam Carter was now Sam Shanahan. Or Carter-Shanahan or Shanahan-Carter or whatever. Either way it sounded wrong.
Samantha Shanahan. There were too many Ss in that name.
Samantha O'Neill sounded much better.
Jack took another swig of the whiskey that sat beside him, grimacing at the taste. But he was out of beer and even he could recognise he was in no state to drive. Hell, he could barely make it to the bathroom and back. He took another swig.
It'd been a month. She'd been on her honeymoon and now she'd come back. She was working at R&D now, and he, as Head of Homeworld Security, had had to read every single one of her reports. It was karma, he swore, and while he knew he'd done a lot of unpalatable things in his life, nothing deserved this. Having to read her words, recognising the way she spoke, practically able to hear her speaking the words over his shoulder as he read them.
They'd been that close. From the beginning, once he realised he could trust her, which happened pretty much instantaneously, they'd been perfect together. Able to anticipate each others movements, thoughts, actions. They were the perfect team. When he'd become general, he spent every moment she was offworld worrying about her, and when she came back he spent every moment trying not to get caught watching her.
He'd admitted years ago that she was as much a part of him as he was. When they worked together it was unforgivable, a serious breach in regulations that would land them both in jail. But he couldn't help the way his stomach dropped if she was hurt, the way his heart raced when she was in danger, and the panic that popped like a bubble over his head when she was missing.
He loved her. He'd been stupid enough to deny it before, but there was no point in that now.
He took another swig of his whiskey, the burning liquid sliding down easier now. He was going heavy tonight, he wasn't sure how much he had drunk. Daniel was worried about him, Jack knew. It was probably the way Jack was always somewhat inebriated that did it…the scent of alcohol was becoming part and parcel of Jack's company.
Daniel had tried to talk to him, but Jack didn't want to talk. Sam had barely bothered since she'd been transferred. Teal'c was away with the Free Jaffa Nation. He had returned when Daniel had sent for him, but had looked at O'Neill and understood in a way that Daniel just couldn't.
Because Teal'c and Jack were somewhat alike.
They were both warriors. They fought passionately, and they loved passionately. And when what they loved was lost, there was a great gaping hole. Teal'c had dealt with it by fighting harder against the Goa'uld.
But there were no more Goa'uld to fight. And Jack had retired now, anyway.
Jack tossed aside the empty bottle with a careless flick of his fingers, and looked blurrily around. His head hurt. He stumbled to the bathroom, pouring an indiscriminate amount of aspirin in his hand. Looked like four, chances were it was just one the way his vision was blurring. He tossed it? Them? Back and washed them down with his newest bottle of whiskey.
He was gonna have a hell of a hangover tomorrow morning. And Daniel was coming round too. Spacemonkey was not going to be happy when he saw the state Jack was in. The throbbing in Jack's head increased, and he irritably tossed back another aspirin or so, stumbling back to the couch and hoping to god this headache went away. He drank more whiskey, and as he passed his hall table, he stopped.
Sitting there, mocking him, was a picture of him and her. From a barbeque at his house, years ago. Teal'c was behind them at the barbeque, she was laughing with a beer in her hand and he looked confused. Daniel must have taken the picture.
God she was beautiful.
He picked up the frame, and suddenly furious, hurled it at the wall. It shattered, and the photo fluttered to the ground. He crunched across the broken glass, swigging whiskey, and picked it up. There was a big scratch across it, obscurring his face but leaving hers clear. He turned it over and saw the little note he had scribbled, years ago, then hidden in a frame; 'God she's beautiful.' Sentimental. Probably written when he was drunk. He swigged from the bottle again, swallowing again and again. He swayed uncertainly on his feet, and stumbled up to his bedroom, draining the bottle as he went and dropping it behind him. He flopped face first on his bed, clutching the picture in his fist and burying his face in the pillow.
This was fucked up. She'd married Shanahan. And for all his medals for courage, he hadn't had the guts to ask her not to.
Majorly fucked up.
"Jack?" Daniel called, banging on the door. There was still no answer. Jack wasn't answering any of his phones, and banging on the door wasn't helping either. Daniel tried the handle but it was locked. He headed round to the back, to see if that was open, but couldn't see anything. He peered through the patio doors, and it took a moment for his eyes to adjust and for him to see.
Lots and lots of empty bottles.
"Fuck." Daniel swore. He looked around and found a fair sized rock, and lobbed it as hard as he could at the glass. It shattered, and Daniel elbowed out a decent sized hole which he stepped through. "Jack?" There was still no answer. "Jack!" He shouted.
Daniel passed through the messy house, wrinkling his nose at the pervading stench of alcohol. He knocked gently on Jack's bedroom door, and when there was no answer, pushed it open and stepped through. Jack was there, passed out on the bed. Daniel sighed, noticing yet another whiskey bottle discarded on the floor.
"Jack." He said. "Jack." No reply. In fact, Jack didn't move a muscle no matter how much Daniel shouted. Eventually the archaeologist grabbed Jack's shoulder and rolled him over. And stared.
Jack's eyes were closed, and he seemed asleep. But his skin was cold and there was nothing alive about him at all. Daniel checked his pulse, his fingers trembling as he touched the cold skin.
"Oh, fuck." Daniel whispered, shock sweeping over him, suckerpunching him in the gut so that he nearly gasped. "Oh my god." He didn't even know who to call. This wasn't a murder, so the police weren't needed. He was dead, and had been for some time, so an ambulance wouldn't be any good either. "Oh god." He said again, sinking onto the bed and staring at his friend.
He was sat like that for several minutes before he noticed something white sticking out from O'Neill's clenched fist. He pried the fingers away, wincing at their stiffness, and freed the photo. It took one look, and Daniel understood instantly.
"Oh, Jack." He whispered.
Then he got up and called Hammond.
R&D was every scientist's dream. She had her own lab, with her own research projects, with her own little minions (who were very talented in themselves) and sufficient funding to actually persue it all and keep it going.
In fact, she had the dream life. A loving husband, a beautiful house. An unbelievably fabulous job. She just missed her friends.
Daniel, who as far as she knew was still at the SGC. The General, who was now retired. He had been Head of Homeworld Security for a short while, but it hadn't lasted. And Teal'c, who was now away trying to keep the fragile balance among the Jaffa. She missed them more than she wanted to admit to anyone, including Pete.
Pete, who saw that she had everything she ever wanted. Pete who loved her more than he loved anything else. Pete, who gave and gave and gave and didn't complain when she couldn't give anything back other than excuses about her work. Sam looked at the ring on her finger.
She had married him, because the wedding day had come before she had a chance to decide not to. She was regretting it now, a little bit. Not much because it was good, he was good, they were good. But she supposed it was her independence she missed. Being able to up and leave for anywhere, being able to pull an all-nighter with a really fascinating piece of technology without someone reminding her that dinner had been ready three hours ago and that the beds at home were more comfortable than the ones on the base. She missed the freedom of being able to make decisions without considering their ramifications for the others in her private life.
But it was fine, she was fine and they were fine. Pete loved her and-
The phone rang, breaking into her rambling thoughts. She picked up, heard Daniel's terse message, and had hung up on him and was running to her CO before the reality broke over her like a tidal wave.
Jack was dead.
The funeral was everything a USAF funeral should be. Completely organised, running on a protocal established years ago. She stood dry-eyed beside Pete, Daniel and Teal'c, her hands clasped in front of her so Pete wouldn't try to hold her. She didn't want to be held. She wanted to be somewhere alone where she could work out how she felt.
The grave was in a far corner of the graveyard in Minnesota, near his cabin. Everyone knew that Jack wouldn't want to be buried among all the other airmen. He respected their deaths but wanted no part of it. Minnesota was his home. They were all in dress uniform apart from Daniel and Teal'c, and the eulogy was said into the empty silent air, drifting away with no meaning.
He was gone.
For a long time they had danced around each other. They had known what was between them, even spoken it allowed thanks to the Za'tarc detectors. But out of respect for each other and for their jobs and their world they had let it fall behind, let it be forgotten. At least until one went missing, or one was hurt. Then it came flying to the forefront, dictating their action so surely that they became confused about what was right and what they needed to do. The number of times they had said a silent goodbye in their heads before pressing the button that would almost certainly kill the other, only to see them again. Their gaze would meet, and they'd speak in that way that they had done from the beginning.
'I'm sorry I gave up on you. I'm sorry I pulled the trigger.'
'I trust you. You did the right thing. I forgive you.'
But now he was gone. Now he wouldn't bug her in her lab, wouldn't tease her about her technobabble – Pete called it 'tech-talk' – wouldn't meet her gaze and silently assure her that everything would be okay and that he had faith that she could do it.
A lot of the time she succeeded because she knew Jack trusted her not to fail. Which meant she couldn't.
But he was gone.
Before she knew it, people were moving away from the grave, quietly making their way to the wake in a nearby hotel. Soon it was just Pete, Sam, Daniel and Teal'c. After a moment of fidgeting under Teal'c intense scrutiny, Pete left too. Teal'c immediately took his place, so she was flanked by her remaining team members.
They stood in silence. There wasn't anything to say. And then when the time came, they turned as one and headed for the hotel too.
Sam stood alone by the graveside, arms crossed, mouth tight. It had been a year since he had died. She'd been married to Pete for over a year, but the marriage was as good as dead. It had, ironically, died with Jack.
She'd been falling apart in increments since. First to go was her social life, what little there was of it. She worked harder and later at R&D, so that when she came home she was often so exhausted that she fell into bed and was asleep instantly. Pete felt neglected, but she couldn't bring herself to care.
Then she started drinking, starting with wine but quickly moving to whiskey. It was something she had always done when she grieved…she always woke with a hangover the morning after the anniversary of her mother's death. Had done since she was sixteen. But now she drank so she could think straight, because when she was sober her thoughts wandered to Jack, and what made him do it.
It was suicide, apparently. He overdosed on aspirin and washed them down with hard spirits. But Sam didn't believe it. If Jack wanted to commit suicide he'd shoot himself in the head and be done with it. He wouldn't have overdosed and overdrank. It wasn't him and it wasn't his style.
And god, she knew both better than anyone on the planet with the exception of Daniel.
Daniel was worried. It wasn't the alcohol that worried him, she was an adept at hiding the smell. It was how she was losing weight, how she didn't get out anymore, how tired she always was. But she told him she was fine, just like she told Pete, and while he accepted it, he watched her with wary eyes.
Like he knew.
Sam shook her head and turned from the grave, walking across the damp grass and climbing into the rental car before driving the short distance to the cabin. It still looked the same as always, like it was locked in some bubble where time didn't exist. The only thing that was missing was Jack's gas-guzzling monster of a truck.
And Jack, of course.
Sam let herself in with the spare key hidden under the windowsill, making a note to go out for groceries. She wasn't particularly hungry, but a bottle of whiskey never hurt. In fact, it made things better. Easier to think. Less painful.
It smelled of him. She hadn't realised how she'd missed the smell until it wafted over her in waves the moment she stepped foot inside the cabin. She shut the door calmly behind her and walked over to the couch, first sitting, then lying. His smell surrounded her, as real as a hug.
Then, for maybe the second time since he had gone, she started to cry.
Well, she was drunk. But it was better, it was. Because now she had stopped crying and could breathe properly. She wandered around the cabin, bottle in one hand, refamiliarising herself with him. The cabin had gone to her in his will, despite the fact she had never been here. She hadn't understood it before, and it had made Pete suspicious. But now that she was here she understood.
He was leaving her something of him. Because he knew as well as she did that he was one of the most integral parts of her and without him she was barely half the person he had known so well.
She traced her fingers over the dusty photographs on the mantel, most of them team photos, one of him with her the day she had made major and he pinned the oak leaves on her shoulders. He was smiling then, light in his dark brown eyes, so warm and familiar. Sam caught her breath on a sob and drank more whiskey to push the pain back.
She shouldn't, strictly speaking, be drinking. Her doctor said so. But it was the only thing that made this bearable.
This way, she could remember him, envisage him in her mind's eye and not have it obscurred by the tears flowing down her face. This way she didn't have to feel guilty about Pete, because the only man she thought of now was a dead one. This way she didn't have to face the fact that she had been a damned coward, and if she'd just mustered the courage long enough to ask the colonel if it was worth her breaking up with Pete Jack might not be dead. He might not have drank and drugged himself into a stupor and fallen unconscious with a picture of her clenched in his fist.
Oh god, she was crying. Again.
Daniel hadn't told her about the picture. Vala had, the dark haired alien woman at the SGC. When Sam had been back for those two days after the funeral and couldn't cope anymore, hiding in a VIP room to compose herself. Vala had come, and had shown surprising insight for an alien famed for lies and manipulation.
"He loved you deeply, you know." Vala had said. "He died thinking of you."
"He didn't." Sam had replied. "He died in a drunken heap."
"He died with your photo in his fist." Vala had replied. "Like I said, he loved you very much."
The conversation hadn't helped anything. When Sam returned to R&D she was distracted and careless. She was very nearly given a medical discharge. As it was the doctor had sent her home and told her not to come back for another three weeks.
Those weeks were nearly up. And Sam still had enough presence of mind to know that she had gotten worse, not better, and that if she went back they'd discharge her. She swigged more whiskey. Tomorrow she would go home, and Pete would demand to know where she had been. She would lie and he would know. Then they would argue and she'd lock herself in the bathroom with a bottle of whiskey, drink herself unconscious, and wake the following morning to an empty house and a throbbing headache.
They'd done it before.
Sam wandered through the cabin, whiskey bottle in one hand, photo of them in the other. She hadn't thought to set it down, as though clinging to it would be the same as clinging to him. All that was missing of him was his voice now. She could smell him, could see him. She just couldn't hear him.
She found herself in his bedroom, and she swigged some more whiskey before laying down on the bed, the smell enveloping her. She snuggled down into the pillows, tears flowing down her face again as she looked at the photo.
They'd fucked things up royally since that day. All of them.
She clutched the photo to her chest, curled her knees up and closed her eyes. If she concentrated, she could almost hear his voice the way she wanted to, speaking her name as though he were behind her. If she tried hard enough it almost sounded real enough that she wanted to turn over and look at his face. But he wasn't there. He was never there and would never be there because she was too much of a coward. Sam closed her eyes, taking shuddering breaths as the sobs threatened to overwhelm her. She reached for the whiskey and drained the bottle. Now, more than ever, she wanted to be unconscious.
After a few seconds she felt it, the enroaching darkness that she was getting to know so well. And with a slight smile, she surrendered to it, hearing Jack's voice in her ear.
Daniel knew the moment he stepped into the house what had happened. Pete was right behind him. He had seen instantly the bottles, an eerie echo of that morning at Jack's. Those two had always been more alike than they'd admitted.
"Where's Sam?" Pete demanded. "You said she might be here."
"Yeah." Daniel said. "Pete, you should wait here."
"Why? She's my wife." Pete said angrily. It couldn't be easy on him, Daniel thought sympathetically, but Pete had gone into the marriage knowing there was something between his wife and another man. Nothing physical but something a lot deeper.
"Exactly." Daniel said. He left Pete at the door and walked quietly through the house, heading straight for the bedroom. He wasn't surprised to see her curled on the bed. And he wasn't surprised when she didn't move, didn't answer to her name. And he wasn't surprised when he found she had no pulse.
Not surprised. He had always known this was coming. He was just very sad.
The two of them were idiots. Had been from the start. At least now they could be idiots together. Daniel sighed, stroking two fingers across her colourless cheek. A flash of silver caught his eye, and he saw a photoframe clutched to her chest. He didn't have to see the picture inside to know what it was of, he recognised the frame: the nicest one Jack owned and it housed a picture of them at Sam's promotion ceremony. Sam had never noticed the significance, but Daniel and Teal'c had.
He didn't try to get to it. By the looks of it she had been clinging to it for dear life when she died, and now that rigor mortis had set in there was no way they could get it away from her. Maybe that was fitting.
"Daniel? What the hell…oh my god." Daniel turned to see Pete clutching the door frame. "Is she-"
"I'm sorry Pete." Daniel said quietly. Pete's eyes closed, and he sank to the floor.
"I was such an idiot." Pete muttered. Daniel didn't answer. "I knew it from the start. I should have known it would go down like this."
"Don't waste your breath, Daniel. I know as well as you what happened." He took a deep breath, his eyes opening and fixing on his dead wife. "We need to call…who should we call?"
"Hammond." Daniel said. Pete nodded. "I'll go-"
"No. I'll do it." Pete said. "I can't stay here and…I'll do it." Daniel nodded and handed Pete his phone, Hammond's number already up so all Pete had to do was press call. The cop stood shakily and stumbled down the hall, clutching the phone to his ear.
"Oh Sam." Daniel muttered, stroking her hair gently. "The pair of you are as dumb as each other." She didn't answer, of course, and Daniel sighed, squeezing her hand shoulder gently, and then rising, leaving the bedroom and closing the door behind him.