Title: Antecedents
Season: Post-Season 10, Season 4 Atlantis
Summary: I am tied to all of those I left behind, and a million stars or the spans of galaxies make no difference. Character study: Sam reflects on Atlantis, leadership, and loss.
Disclaimer: Stargate's still not mine. Sad for me.
A/N: I struggled with whether to categorize this as SG-1 or Atlantis, but eventually, I decided there's too much SG-1 in it to inflict on the Atlantis-only folks.

I stand here, sometimes, looking out at the wilderness of lights that makes up the city after dark, and it never fails to be more alien to me than anything else I've seen. After what seems like a thousand years of working out of the underside of a mountain, standing here feels far beyond vulnerable, and the notion of protecting this place that proclaims its presence so very proudly seems like the dream of a madman.

Somehow that's what I am charged with doing. Keep the city safe; keep the city running. Stand back as much as I can, and let other people take on the jobs I am accustomed to doing myself. Be a leader, not a friend; be strong enough that they will look to me in a crisis, but not so strong that they forget to look to themselves, too.

I think often about the men I have watched do almost this very same job. Of General Hammond, whose watchword was love, although I know he would blush to hear me say it. Of General Landry, a complicated man bound up of bits both light and dark, but essentially a man of faith and tenacity. And of Jack, with ways of leading men that frequently defy all logic and explanation.

I hope that I will be like General Hammond, and learn to love these people so fiercely that it becomes my strength. And I suspect I will remember General Landry most when I have to find a way to remain whole if I have to do those things I'd rather not. But I know from whom I learned most of my lessons, and whether I want to or not, that's the path I follow.

Trust is paramount. The one in charge is usually the least important person in the room. Every life is precious, no situation is hopeless, and if there are so many, many things worth dying for, there are more worth living for. Joy is to be found in the spaces between darkness, in every single one of the spaces between darkness, or we die.

I am tied to all of those I left behind, and a million stars or the spans of galaxies make no difference. It could make me bleed, but I find that it is what heals me; rather than being my besetting weakness, it has become my greatest strength. So even though I know that all the places I've been to before are far beyond the grasp of the mind, let alone the eye, still, when I stand here, I say good night across the silence of those vast spaces, and find I can turn away from the brilliant, alien lights with my own kind of peace in my heart.