A/N: Please don't hurt me! When I found this story, I couldn't believe I'd actually written it – I must have repressed the memory of killing off a member of SG-1 (can you blame me?). This is, by far, the most depressing thing I have ever written. There is NO sequel where my victim rises from the dead, so if you can't bear the thought of a member of SG-1 dying (and really, who can?), click that nice little "back" button at the top of your browser and look for something else. The lyrics are from "Wait" by Sarah McLachlin – the song is hauntingly beautiful but be warned that it might make you cry.
In front of the quiet crowd, the gate engages. I cast a quick glance at Sam beside me. She's looking straight ahead and standing stiff as a board. As General Hammond gives us a nod, Sam and I take the wreath of flowers off the stand between us and begin walking forward. The soldiers in the room snap to attention as we head up the ramp. Once we reach the even horizon, we hold out the wreath and wait for it to be taken by the wormhole. As Sam and I turn around to walk back down the ramp, I'm sure I see tears sparkling in her eyes, but she won't look at me long enough for me to offer her any kind of reassurance. We return to our places on either side of Teal'c and wait for Taps to finish.
"This concludes the service," General Hammond says quietly, dismissing the assembled crowd.
Everyone is quiet until they are out in the hall. Then the talking begins again and a nasty part of me marvels that everyone had the decency to stay quiet during the service. Clamping down on the urge to lash out at everyone around me, I focus my eyes on the floor and wait for the crowd in the hallway to thin out. The last thing I want right now is to be part of a throng of people.
This has probably been the shortest funeral ever, but that's the way he wanted it. Everything was exactly the way Jack wanted it, so needless to say it was not your typical military service. Then again, Jack wasn't your typical military guy.
And P3X 197 wasn't a typical planet…
Under a blackened sky, far beyond the glaring streetlights
Sleeping on empty dreams, the vultures lie in wait
You lay down beside me, then you were with me
Every waking hour, so close I could feel your breath
When all we wanted was the dream, to have and hold
That precious little thing, like every generation yields
The newborn hope, unjaded by their years
"Bless you," I said as I emerged from the gate.
"Thanks," Daniel said, shooting a smile at me.
"How'd you do that? Or are you a certified psychic now too?" Colonel O'Neill asked exasperatedly.
"I started sneezing on the other side Jack," Daniel said with a chuckle.
"O'Neill, I was not aware one could become a certified psycho. Are you?" Teal'c asked, feigning confusion. He met my eye and gave me an almost imperceptible smile that let me know he was doing it on purpose.
"Carter will tell you later," the Colonel grumbled as Daniel and I suppressed laughter at the implication.
"Jack, can we go to the ruins now? Please, please, please?" Daniel whined, still trying to avoid letting the odd chuckle escape.
"Fine, but on one condition. We set up camp first; if it looks like we're running out of daylight, you wait until tomorrow. Capeesh?"
"Bless you O'Neill," Teal'c quickly cut in.
"What?" the Colonel asked, confused.
"Um, Teal'c, 'capeesh' isn't a sneeze, it's a word… Kind of," I explained.
"What is the meaning of 'capeesh'?"
"Capeesh. It's like, get it? Ya follow? Deal? Okay? Catch my drift?" Colonel O'Neill began, although we soon lost track of whether he was explaining the meaning of 'capeesh' or asking if Teal'c was following his explanation.
Finally, Teal'c cut him off, saying "Yes O'Neill, I capeesh your drift."
That did it – all of us cracked up. Actually, Teal'c just smiled, but we could all tell he was proud of himself. He'd only ever really tried to tell us that joke about the Setesh guard's nose dripping, and none of us got it. This second attempt at humour was much better, even if it involved putting one over on the Colonel.
"Okay campers, the stand up comedy club is thatta way. Let's get this show on the road!"
Pressed up against the glass, I found myself wanting sympathy
But to be consumed again, oh I know would be the death of me
And there is a love that's inherently given, a kind of blindness
Offered to deceive, and in that light of forbidden joy
Oh I know I won't receive it
I knock softly on the door to avoid surprising Major Carter. Immediately after the memorial service she disappeared, saying that she needed to be alone for a while. Daniel Jackson advised me to give her several hours to herself, so I am now outside of her lab four hours later. I believe she has been alone for a sufficient amount of time.
I turn as I hear someone approaching and wait the several seconds it takes for the person to round the corner. As I had assumed, it is Daniel Jackson coming towards me.
"Hey Teal'c. Has she answered the door yet?" he asks tiredly.
"Greetings Daniel Jackson. Major Carter has not yet answered the door, that is why I am still outside."
"Is it locked?"
"Of this I am unsure."
Daniel Jackson grasps the doorknob and attempts to turn it. The door opens easily and we step inside into darkness. I glance about and do not observe Major Carter. It is not until I hear her voice that I realize she is behind a counter on the ground.
"Shut the door guys."
When all we wanted was the dream
To have and to hold that precious little thing
Like every generation yields, a newborn hope
Unjaded by their years
"Sam, why are you doing this to yourself?" I ask, seeing her sitting on the floor, surrounded by pictures of SG-1. Her eyes are red from hours of crying and her face is streaked with tears. "You're only making it hurt that much more," I sigh, irrationally frustrated by being confronted with her raw grief.
"How would you know Daniel?" she says coldly, her voice raised. "You weren't there; you were off playing in the ruins with your radio switched off! You have no idea how much it hurt then and you have no idea how much it hurts now, so don't tell me that it's going to be okay, and don't tell me that I'll get over it, because that is a load of crap!"
"He was my friend too, you know!" I yell back. "You don't have to throw the radio thing in my face. If I had my radio on, I would have heard you calling for help. We would have brought Jack back here alive if I hadn't been so stupid as to leave my radio off. Instead, we showed up minutes too late and ended up bringing back a corpse. I know, okay? I have to live with that on my conscience, and whether you believe it or not, that bothers me!"
"O'Neill would not wish for us to behave in this manner," Teal'c cuts in before any more angry words can be exchanged.
"Sam, you still haven't told us what happened," I say quietly, offering the olive branch.
She takes a few deep breaths as Teal'c and I settle ourselves on the floor and focus our attention wholly on her.
"After you guys left that morning, we realized that Teal'c had left his radio behind," Sam starts shakily. "We…" her voice breaks and fresh tears begin to trace their way down her cheeks. "I can't do this," she whispers, broken.
"Cm'ere," I urge gently, realizing too late that it was the line Jack always used to comfort her. As she moves towards me, blinking back a fresh wave of tears, I reach out and pull her into a tight hug. "Talk to us," I urge, stroking her hair.
"We were just getting ready to go take the radio up to you guys when…"
You know that if I leave you now
It doesn't mean that I love you any less
"If you go out in the woods today, you'd better go in disguise," the Colonel warbled from behind me for what felt like the millionth time that day.
"Sir, if there were any teddy bears having a picnic today, I'm sure you've scared them all off by now," I interrupted, smiling despite the fact that he'd been singing that same song since we arrive on the planet yesterday morning.
"Hey, I'm just doing my best to protect my favourite 2IC from the evil teddy bears!"
"I'm your only 2IC," I indulge him, my smile growing as I glance behind me.
"That's why you're my favourite. And even if there was any competition, I'm sure you'd knock 'em dead. Now where was I? Oh yeah… If you go out in the…"
"Sir, one more time and I swear I'm gonna shoot you," I called out, rounding a bend in the trail and speeding up just a little bit to put more distance between me and the horrible, for lack of a better word, singing.
Suddenly, a gunshot echoed throughout the forest. In one fluid motion I ducked, swung around with my P-90 at the ready and grabbed for my radio.
"Colonel, if that was a joke it was not funny," I hiss into my radio.
"You know, I guess you're not the only one who didn't like my singing," came the raspy reply. "The coast is clear."
"Are you okay?" I asked, concerned. Something was wrong and I knew it, even without his reply.
"Are you coming or not?"
"I'm on my way sir," I replied. Something was definitely wrong if he was asking me to come to where he'd just fired shots from. Usually he would be ordering me as far away as I could possibly get.
Trying to stay calm, I cautiously made my way back around the bend, regretting that I'd been walking at a breakneck pace while the Colonel had been sauntering along. The singing had been bad, yes, but it was no reason to leave him by himself. Despite our failed earlier attempts at contacting Daniel and Teal'c by radio, I tried to warn them that we'd encountered hostiles, again to no avail. On my second try, Colonel O'Neill came into sight.
"Sir, can you hear me?" I asked, kneeling down a few feet from his prone body. He was sprawled out on the ground, a pool of blood at his side. He was so pale that for a moment, I worried he was dead. A second after I felt icy cold dread start coursing through my veins, I saw his chest rise and fall. He was still breathing, at least.
"C'mere Carter, I got the guy. He was alone," the Colonel informed me quietly, his voice strained and words laced with pain.
"Colonel, I'm going to try to stop the bleeding, okay?" I asked, examining the hole gaping at me from the left side of his chest.
"Mmm…" he replied distractedly, drifting towards unconsciousness.
"Colonel, I need you to stay awake for me. Right now I'm worried about you going into shock," I explained, hoping my words would make that infamous O'Neill stubborn streak kick into overdrive and help him stay conscious. "Talk to me," I instructed, pulling out the first aid kit.
"Good… We need to talk," he managed to get out with monumental effort.
"It's time Carter," he said seriously. "We can't keep it in the room anymore; it can't stay in there forever."
"You're right," I agreed, applying pressure to his chest. "Let's just be honest and forget the regs," I encouraged, desperate to keep him talking any way I could, even if it did mean talking about this.
""I can't stand seeing you scared or hurt, it breaks my heart…" he began, determined. "You're my reason for living. You're the most amazing person I know and you've challenged me in every way possible. You're…" he broke off in a coughing fit, his entire body shaking under my hands as I tried to stem the flow of blood from his chest.
"Sir, just rest, don't try and talk anymore," I instructed firmly, terrified when I saw a thin line of blood leaking from the corner of his mouth.
"No," he argued after the coughing subsided, long minutes later. "I've got to finish. You're brilliant, beautiful, brave, compassionate, and the strongest person I've ever met. I don't know what you could possibly see in me, but I do know this: I love you with all my heart and I want to spend the rest of my life with you."
"Jack, I see a lot in you, a lot more than you think," I argued. Even though the last thing I wanted was to have this conversation under these circumstances, the fact that it was his idea told me how bad his injury really was, and there was no way I could pass up this chance if it was the last opportunity I would ever have to tell him the truth. "I see a man who is funny, handsome, courageous… No one else can ever compare to you, because you save the world in your spare time. I love you… I've never said that to anyone Jack, not even to Jonas when we were engaged. I hope you meant what you said before about spending the rest of your life with me, because you're stuck with me," I smiled down at him, removing one hand from his chest to brush his sweat drenched hair off his face.
"Good," he smiled. "I've always loved you… Always will," he murmured, struggling to stay awake long enough to finish.
"Me too Jack," I assured, leaning down to brush a kiss across his cheek.
It's just the state I'm in
I can't be good to anyone else like this
"Daniel, Teal'c do you read? The Colonel was hit when we encountered hostiles. I need back up," I called desperately over the radio, once again failing to get an answer.
I checked my watch for the bazillionth time, and marvelled at how so few hours could seem to take so long to pass. Colonel O'Neill had been unconscious for the last six hours, and I'd been trying to reach Daniel and Teal'c the entire time. I'd only left the Colonel's side for five minutes, and even then, it was only to scout the area for the person responsible for the his condition. As the Colonel had assured me over the radio, the native man was lying on the ground, a single bullet hole in his chest. Feeling no sympathy for the dead man, I'd returned to the Colonel's side, waiting for the minutes to tick by. The sun would be setting within the hour and Daniel and Teal'c would soon have to walk along the trail to return to base camp.
Waiting while the sun sunk lower and lower in the sky, I listened as the rasp that had become a familiar sound, assuring me the Colonel was still breathing, slowly became a gurgle. I watched in horror as blood bubbled out of his mouth and he fought harder and harder to draw air into his lungs. Several long moments later, the blood stopped frothing and it was silent.
I knew there was no point in trying CPR. He'd lost too much blood, and it was amazing he'd managed to live this long.
"It's been an honour serving with you sir," I mumbled, pressing a kiss to his still warm forehead. Resting my forehead against his, I tried to call up every memory I had of him - his face, his eyes, his smile, his voice - anything and everything that was Jack O'Neill alive and not the corpse now on the ground before me. I stayed like that, lost in memories, until I heard the sounds of people approaching.
"Oh my God! Sam? Jack? What happened? Are you okay?" Daniel asked in horror as he and Teal'c rounded the bend to see the other half of their team on the ground and covered in blood.
"I'm fine. Colonel O'Neill died a few minutes ago," I stated icily, straightening up to watch the enormity of my words sink in.
For several seconds, nothing happened. Then Daniel turned dead white and even Teal'c paled to a sickly grey colour.
When all we wanted was the dream, to have and to hold
That precious little thing, like every generation yields
A newborn hope unjaded by their years
"… and you know the rest," Major Carter finished tearfully.
"At least you got to tell each other how you felt," Daniel Jackson noted, trying desperately to find something positive to have come from this tragedy.
"We waited so long for 'someday'," Sam whispered, tears freely rolling down her cheeks. "We were so sure we'd get 'someday' and live happily ever after."
"O'Neill wished to spend the rest of his life with you," I state. "He did just that. I am sure he was happy."
"Maybe," Major Carter speculates, though I know this thought will bring her little, if any, comfort.
We fall silent, simply sitting together, looking at the photographs of SG-1 spread haphazardly across the floor.
The future of our team is uncertain at this point, but one thing is certain: things will never be the same again.
A/N: I can't believe I killed Jack! I LOVE Jack! What was I thinking? More importantly, what were you thinking when you got to the end? Write a review and let me know: )
Excuse me, I need to go write some warm, fuzzy fluff now…