Email: sgater926yahoo(dot) com
Content Warnings: None
Season/sequel info: Season 8
Spoilers: Spoilers for ranks in Season 8 and vague reference to Upgrades
Summary: They're very lucky.
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me though the Captain and his family are original characters...and I'm not making any money for this. No copyright infringement is intended. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Author's Note: This story was inspired by my friend Amy, who just saw her husband for the first time since he began his deployment process to Afghanistan. I dedicate this story to them and to my friend Alaine and her husband who is a chaplain who left earlier this month and is waiting to deploy to meet his unit which is already in Afghanistan.
Copyright © SGater926, 19 February 2008
Sam sat at the briefing room table and sighed.
"Carter? You okay?" The three men in the room turned toward her.
"Yes, sir. I was just thinking."
Sam shot Jack a look and he just smirked.
"What were you thinking about, Sam?" Daniel tried to get them back on topic. Her sigh had sounded rather serious and he didn't know if he should be concerned.
She smiled at him. "I don't know. I was just thinking that we're lucky."
"Lucky? Whaddya mean?" Jack spoke up again.
"Well...I mean, look at our command..." she paused, searching for words.
"It is indeed an honor to serve here, ColonelCarter."
"It is, Teal'c, but that's not quite what I mean." She took a deep breath. "I think about all the men and women who are deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and...everywhere else we have troops. They're gone from home for years sometimes. They're not allowed to come back from a mission and go home, turn on the TV and have a beer and a steak. They're not allowed to see their families on downtime. In fact, their families are left in the dark about where they are, what they're going through... I know we have to maintain secrecy, but at least our people get to go home after a mission. Dixon can go see his wife and kids only a few hours after he steps back through the gate..."
"And doesn't he just love that," Jack added with a smirk.
"We've both been there before, sir. I was raised as an Air Force brat, we were both in the Gulf War..." She stopped suddenly remembering that this was something Jack might not want to be reminded of, both because of his time as a POW and the family he left behind that he eventually lost. She looked up worriedly and he just smiled a little ruefully and nodded for her to continue.
"W-well, working for the SGC, we've always had all those luxuries. Even looking death in the face more times than I can count, we've been incredibly lucky. I've worked side by side with my best friends, my family, for years. When I've been in danger, you guys have always been right there by my side or I know you've been out looking for me. When any of you have been in danger I've been right there too either with you or working to find you. And you know, those times when we haven't known where someone was or what happened to them, it was torture...but at least we knew the situation and could try work to do something about it. I can't imagine going through that emotional distress all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for over a year at a time..."
She looked up at the three men, wondering if they were following her or thinking she was nuts. They were all staring at her intently, obviously interested and waiting for her to continue.
She took a deep breath. "I'm not saying our lives are easy, or that they ever were. God knows they haven't been and they probably never will be! But when I think about it, it could be so much harder. I mean, the dangers they face over there are no less real than the dangers we face in this galaxy or that the team in Atlantis faces in the Pegasus galaxy. Death is no less of a reality for them than it is for us. Their lives, their families, are no less valuable than ours. Their personal sacrifice isn't any easier..." She trailed off, not knowing what else to say.
They sat silence for a moment, contemplating what she had said. Suddenly Jack remembered something. "You know, Carter, I think I heard there's an Airborne Special Forces unit coming in next week to the Denver airport. We could go welcome 'em home if ya want."
Sam raised her head and turned to meet his eyes, surprised. "Really, sir?"
"Of course. Whaddya think, guys?"
"I'm in," Daniel nodded.
"As am I."
"Maybe I'll ask around and see if anyone else is up for it."
The next Saturday, along with other well-wishers who had gathered at the terminal at the Denver International Airport, a good number of people from SGC gathered to welcome home some of the Army's finest back to the US. Sam never imagined that her little declamation would end in this. Marines and Air Force personnel showed up in an array of dress uniforms and BDUs, and they brought their families with them. After speaking with some of the others gathered, all the military members of the SGC lined up on either side of the exit to the gate and stood waiting with their families with Jack and Sam at the head of the lines. He glanced over at her and she smiled her 1,000-watt smile at him and he grinned back. As the soldiers deplaned, they were greeted with the call to attention given by O'Neill and all the SGC military members snapped to attention on either side. The Company Commander, a Captain, halted and came to attention before Jack and stood in awe at the reception that greeted him and his troops.
"At ease, Captain." Jack smiled kindly and reached out to shake the man's hand. "Welcome home."
The commander was still a little shocked at the welcome. What in the world would make the flyboys and even some jarheads assemble the troops and come to the airport for some Army Airborne unit? Especially considering said "flyboys" included a Brigadier General and a Lieutenant Colonel. "Th-thank you, sir."
Jack turned to address the other soldiers who were coming out of the terminal. "We just wanted to show our appreciation for your sacrifice and your dedication to our country. Welcome home." Jack finished with a sharp salute that was echoed by the men and women under his command and returned by a stunned but smiling group of soldiers.
A loud "Ooh-rah!" went up from the Marines and soon the soldiers were surrounded by the applause and cheers of the SGC members and their families and the other civilians and veterans who had come out to greet the unit. The soldiers made their way down the line shaking hands and receiving hugs, well-wishes, and care packages. When the last soldier was through and the crowd was starting to disperse, the commander, accompanied by his wife holding their daughter, came back to where Jack was standing with the rest of SG-1.
The commander's wife gave him a teary smile, "Thank you so much, General. I know it means a lot to them, to us, to have people welcome them home like this."
Jack was at a loss for what to say, so he went with short, sweet and honest. "We're just glad to have them home, ma'am. We know what it's like." He looked back at his team and they smiled and nodded in acknowledgement.
"Thank you for helping make my daddy smile." The little girl in her arms piped up and quickly ducked her face in her mother's arm.
Jack smiled gently at the little girl. "You're welcome, sweetheart." The little girl turned her head a bit and peeked at him out of the corner of her eye. Seeing him smiling at her, she turned her face fully towards him and gave him a shy smile back. Jack's smile broadened and the girl giggled. Jack reached out with one hand and ruffled her hair.
Jack turned again to the commander. "You have a beautiful family, Captain. Take care of them."
"Yes, sir." The Captain wasn't sure what was going on with the Air Force General, but he sensed that there was something more behind his words than just polite small talk.
"Thank you again, sir."
Jack just nodded. They shook hands once more before the young man turned with his family and made his way home. Jack stood there and watched them depart.
Sam approached carefully. She knew he was probably thinking about his own life in Special Forces and his own young family that he had had once upon a time. "Sir?"
"Hey, Carter." He turned and smiled at her, reassuring her that he was okay. "You guys ready to go?"
"Yes, sir." She paused briefly. "And, sir?"
Jack smiled a genuine smile at her. "You're welcome, Carter. Actually, thank you. Anytime you get to thinking, you just let me know. I'm glad we did this."
"Me too, sir."
"As usual, your brilliant plan is met with resounding success!"
"It was actually your plan, sir. I just provided the idea."
"Carter..." Jack's voice held a teasing warning.
They just smiled at each other until Jack turned to their other two companions.
"Danny, T! Ready?"
Daniel rolled his eyes while Teal'c simply inclined his head with a small smile.
"What do you guys think about grabbing some dinner before we head back? I hear there's this place that serves great steaks..."
"That would be most satisfying, O'Neill."
"As long as there's a pool table, sir."
"I don't know if we want to go there again, Colonel..." Jack smirked. "Right, Dannyboy?"
"Shut up, Jack."
Jack walked out of the airport that day feeling better than he had in a long while. He was reminded of what they were really fighting for. It was so people like that could have a chance to be heroes to their families, their friends, and their nation. It was so that little girl could grow up without the fear of alien invasion or slavery. It was for moments like this when he could stand with his best friends, his family, and they could show their appreciation to others like themselves who also stand in the gap and fight for freedom. Yes, indeed, Jack thought to himself, Carter was right, they certainly were very lucky.
AN2: Well, what did you think? I hope it was okay. I usually don't write general fiction, so I don't know if I actually made it all the way through without anything slipping in. I don't think I did anything more than the writers of the show do though. I actually started this piece as something shippy set in the timeframe of Season 4 of Atlantis and I completely changed it around because I felt that the first version at least needed to be more general. Is anyone interested in reading the other version? Just let me know!