A/N: Sorry it took so long, but it took me a long time to realize that I could do no more to this chapter. I was intending for this to be the last chapter, but then it said "NO! There has to be one more!" so I obeyed. So thank you all for your patience, and I hope you enjoy the almost-last chapter of Libra!

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Countdown

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Teal's's Zen-like comment reverberated in Sam's ears the whole way home.

'Change in the wind…' Was that supposed to mean that he thought she was fickle? No, probably not. Teal'c could be chiding at times, like a parent, but he would never say things so directly. Sam sighed mentally. She knew him as well as anybody, but in some ways it was like they were back to the first years of his Tau'ri existence: everything he said had to be put through a slow processor just so she could understand.

He was different, that's all. Yes, he had picked up some Earth-isms from his time here, but his thought patterns were still very different from those of Daniel, or Jack… even Cassie, an alien in her own right.

It was a simple analysis of her friend, but no matter how objective she tried to make herself think it was, the notion that Teal'c would always feel slightly separated from his Tau'ri friends saddened her.

Let's not dwell, she thought bitterly. There were other things to attend to at that moment, like her house that was going to appear around a corner any second now.

Three… two… one…

Touchdown, she thought as the car parked easily on the side of the empty road.

With some help from Daniel and Cassie, she organized the obscene ruffles of her dress enough so she could slide off the seat and out of the car. Her knees, flimsy from the adrenaline let-down, buckled a little under the forgotten weight of the dress, nearly throwing her to the ground because of her unstable, three-inch heels. Still holding her hand, Daniel kept her upright until she regained her bearings.

She let go first, insisting that she could do this—all of this—on her own. The other two noticed this action, and interpreted it the same way that Daniel did…but pretended not to. Instead, they turned toward the door of Sam's house, Teal'c standing guard, vigilant as usual, on the front porch while Cassandra rummaged around in the pot of a dying plant, in search of the spare key.

By the time Sam—with Daniel close behind—reached them, Cassie had the door open and had already leapt inside. Teal'c waited until Sam passed, then followed Daniel inside, closing the door behind him.

"You know," Sam began, startling the other three a little with her sudden use of a light tone, "today was such a waste." She could've giggled at the matching expressions on the men's faces. "I could've been at home or in the mountain doing something useful. Instead, I spent all day preparing for a wedding that didn't mean anything. I did nothing else. What an accomplishment!" now she was bitter. Annoyed, mainly by the strain her damnable shoes were putting on her feet because of the bulk of this hideous dress. Okay, that wasn't fair. The dress wasn't completely hideous itself… it was what it stood for—compromise—that sickened her.

"My father would have been shocked." The following scoff was directed at herself. "I never compromised. I never settled for less than I had originally wanted…. Now look…" The other three were thoroughly unhelpful by this point, all staring incredulously at the unfamiliar grimace on Sam's beautiful face. "Cassie, can you help me get this thing off. It wouldn't go well for 'the discussion' to take place while I'm in this thing. It would be awkward for him, and both awkward and uncomfortable for me."

"Sure," came Cassie's slightly strangled voice.

She hung up the dress, vaguely wondering whether she should keep it as a reminder of how close she came to reducing herself to a housewife… then decided against it. It would have to go to a second-hand shop first thing in the morning. It could probably pass for a Prom dress, if someone wanted it. That thought gave her comfort as she slipped into some sweats and a T-shirt before returning to her sitting room.

It was silent in the house until the sky turned black over Colorado. After that, Daniel couldn't bear it any more. "Look, Sam, I'll call him."

She shook her head without a word. "He'll either be here, or he won't, Daniel. His choice."

"Sam, if we gave Jack the last option in everything, we would've died at some point along the line."

"But we didn't, Daniel, and this is one of those times that it's his decision. This isn't life-or-death."

"I beg to differ, Colonel Carter."

She chuckled. "You can differ all you like, Teal'c, but I already know what I'm going to do if this ends… awkwardly."

"And that is?" Cassie questioned.

"Colonel Carter intends to run Area 51."

"What? You can't!" Cassandra protested.

"You'll be fine Cass," Sam said soothingly.

"But will you?" Daniel was always the one to see right through the waffle of small-talk.

"Yes, Daniel. After walking out on my own wedding, I'm getting the feeling that I can take just about anything."

"So if he doesn't show up tonight…"

"Then I'll go to sleep. Coffee anyone?"

"No, thanks."

"I must refrain."

Daniel just shook his head wearily. Sam stared. This must be bothering him. "I think I'm just gonna call it a night. Cassie, do you want me to take you home?" the young woman gave Sam a questioning glance, which Sam returned with a smile.

"I'm fine, Cass."

Cassie moved to sit on the coffee table in front of Sam. She hugged the older woman with no restraints, squeezing Sam to the point of suffocation before letting go. She patted Teal'c's shoulder comfortingly, and then left in silence.

Daniel still stood in the doorway.

"Just go, Daniel. It's probably better that there aren't any witnesses."

He sighed almost dejectedly, but moved away from the door. He came over pulled her up from the couch and into his arms. He held her tightly until she felt tears brimming her eyes. "I'm sorry today didn't work out for you."

"I'm not."

"I know." He pulled away and looked down at her like a fond brother would to his little sister.

"Maybe tonight will be better, then," she said after a while, looking away from his concerned blue eyes.

"I hope so." He pulled her into him again, pressed his cheek to her hair, and left in silence.

Sam pulled her tears back up behind the dam and turned to Teal'c still stationary in the recliner. "Are you going to leave me now too?"

"I will remain to provide some company, for a while, though I too will leave eventually."

The evening rolled on in silence from there, save for the sounds emitting from the television. For once, Sam felt no need to speak. There wasn't much more to say, and she was busy preparing herself for the possibility of talking later. Teal'c, of course, remained as non-verbose as was usual, but both were thankful for the company of the other.

As the hour hand on the clock neared the '11', Teal'c stood, nodded to Sam once with a comforting smile on his face, and then he too left her be.

Five hours. Five hours since her non-wedding. It did not take five hours to travel from Denver International to Colorado Springs. Jack had proved that by getting to DIA in record time. This could only lead Sam to one, final conclusion: he wasn't coming. He was known for his promises, but this apparently was one he could not keep. She didn't blame him, if she was half-honest with herself. She wanted to, but she couldn't.

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A/N: Hopefully the last chapter will be up more quickly than this one was. I'll try to keep on my toes.

So. Tell me what you thought!

Thanks.

kt