Hammond awoke in unfamiliar surroundings. After a few moments of
inertia, he remembered
he was in Jack O'Neill's spare bedroom. He caught sight of his dress blues hanging on the wardrobe
door and his memory supplied the reason for his presence here, he felt his heart sink.
Today he was to attend the funeral of Jacob Carter.
He showered and dressed quickly and headed for the kitchen. Jack had left a note on the kitchen table.
Had to go to work. Back at 0900.
read the note, glanced at the clock and, seeing it was 0855 put out
two cups ready to receive the
coffee he was making.
predicted Jack walked into the house at exactly 0900 and looked more
than a little surprised when his
former commanding officer wordlessly handed him a cup of coffee. Hammond saw him cover his surprise
and take a sip of the coffee without even his customary fishing out of something invisible.
looked at his friend. The younger man was already wearing his dress blues, and the solemnity
of the occasion seemed to be forestalling Jack's usual need to fidget when forced into any kind of dress
"Did the Tok'ra arrive on time?" Hammond asked.
nodded. "Teal'c's driving them to the crematorium. Carter's
meeting us there with her brother and
raised an eyebrow at the volunteered information, but Jack's
attention was taken up with the
tabletop. Hammond supposed the man's preoccupation with Sam Carter was to be expected, on this of all
days. Something was bothering George, though.
"Why aren't you with her, Jack?"
Jack's head shot up, his expression doing a fairly good 'deer-caught-in-the-headlights" impression. "Sir?"
chuckled slightly, then opened his mouth to speak, but was
interrupted by the sound of Jack's
front door opening.
"In here, Daniel," Jack called out.
Jackson walked into the kitchen and the sombreness of his attire
managed to strike Hammond anew
with what today was. Jacob Carter's funeral. He'd always thought Jacob would far outlive him, yet here
helped himself to coffee and sat down at the table. "I spoke to
Sam," he commented, apropos of
looked up, studying the interaction between Jack and Daniel. Daniel
spoke lightly, as though
merely passing comment, but there was something in his tone that suggested he was speaking to a very
"How's she holding up?" Jack asked, taking a sip of his coffee.
"She broke up with Pete."
Hammond had not spent seven years having to read the man sitting
across from him he would
have missed the slight tightening of Jack's fingers around the handle of his cup.
"I know," Jack said, surprising Hammond.
Surprising Daniel too, apparently. "When did you find out?"
"Couple of days ago."
"Jack-" Daniel began.
permitted himself a small smile at the archaeologist's tone. He had
missed the interaction
between SG-1 in general, and the brotherly goading that went on between these two had made for good
entertainment during many a long, boring briefing.
"Time to go," Jack said, glancing at his watch.
the drive to the crematorium in silence. Not that Daniel didn't
keep shooting meaningful looks
in the direction of his friend, which Jack masterfully ignored.
parked his truck and they climbed out. By the entrance to the
crematorium Hammond spotted
Teal'c and about five Tok'ra, all of whom looked slightly odd dressed Earth-fashion. Clearly Teal'c had
been allowed to choose their outfits. Hammond felt Jack's sense of humour at work there.
Tok'ra were being received by Sam and Mark Carter. Mark stood by a
woman Hammond assumed
was his wife and kept looking to her for support.
however, stood alone, looking the epitome of a well-turned out Air
Force officer in her dress blues.
She was straight-backed and treated each of the mourners to a sincere smile. Jacob would have been proud.
Daniel and Jack joined the line, the last of the mourners to arrive.
As Hammond shook hands
with Mark Carter and offered his condolences the man recognised him and smiled warmly, glad to see
someone he knew here.
Sam pulled the General into a hug. He returned it and moved aside,
allowing her to hug
Daniel. When the archaeologist stepped aside Hammond surreptitiously beckoned for the younger man
to follow him into the chapel. Having shaken hands with Jack, Mark and his wife were heading in to
find their seats.
hug Jack she merely stood looking up at him and for the first time,
Hammond saw the
strain on her face. Jack reached out a hand and placed it on the small of her back.
"C'mon, Carter. Dad would never forgive you if you were late."
She smiled and allowed him to gently propel her to the front of the chapel.
service a few of the mourners convened at Sam's house. An hour
after their arrival, General
Hammond found himself standing at the edge of her garden next to Daniel Jackson. They were both
watching Sam, who was standing a little bit away from everyone else, watching the people.
brought her hand up to her face, obviously swiping at tears she
wasn't ready to allow to fall. Daniel
put his drink on a nearby table and made as though to move toward her, but Hammond placed a gently
restraining hand on his arm and nodded.
looked up at Sam's movement and was now walking nonchalantly
towards her. He reached
her side and took her elbow, steering her into the house.
"He's been watching her all afternoon," Hammond said quietly to Daniel. "Let him take care of her, son."
about half an hour, when he judged enough time had elapsed, General
Hammond headed into
the house, seeking Jack and Sam. The papers in his pocket were getting heavier with each emotion-laden
interaction he had to watch these people – people who he thought of as friends – suffer through.
soft voices coming from Sam's kitchen and headed in that direction.
He knocked on the
doorframe as he walked in, finding them leaning side by side on the kitchen sideboard, she with her
arms folded, Jack with his hands stuffed into the pockets of his dress uniform.
"I'm not interrupting something, am I?" Hammond asked politely.
they said in unison, then looked at each other, rueful half-smiles on
their faces. Obviously
that was some kind of inside joke.
flight leaves in an hour and I wanted to talk to you both before I
head back to Washington," Hammond
said. "I know you all have downtime coming up and I wanted to get this done before you go." He reached
into his inside pocket and drew out three sets of papers, handing them one each and keeping one back
"Sir?" Jack asked, not looking at the paper in his hands.
Hammond saw, had had a knowing look on her face when handed her set
of papers, but was now
regarding his own and Jack's with a somewhat suspicious eye.
transfer orders, Jack," Hammond said. "Colonel Carter here
requested to be transferred to
R&D over at Groom Lake. Yours are to Washington, I'm afraid."
Jack winced. "Really? I was kinda thinking about reti-"
even finish that sentence, Jack. You had your turn at retiring, now
its mine," Hammond said,
holding up his papers to illustrate his point. "The president thinks – and I agree – that there's no one
better to take over as head of Homeworld Security."
"Sir-" Jack began again.
"Both transfers have been approved, General," Hammond said sternly.
For the first time, Sam Carter spoke. "I take it I'll no longer be under General O'Neill's command, sir?"
head moved so fast Hammond was sure his friend got whiplash. He was
staring at Sam, as
though he couldn't quite believe she'd brought that up.
as head of Homeworld Security, General O'Neill will oversee a lot
of your work, Colonel,"
Hammond said, "but, effective immediately, you will no longer be under his direct command." He paused
then thought, 'to hell with it'. "I can see how this might come as a relief to you, Colonel."
Once again, Jack risked serious neck injury. General Hammond merely chuckled at him.
"What are you doing, George?" Jack asked softly.
back your soul, son," Hammond replied. "I expect to see you in
Washington in two weeks. Now,
I have a plane to catch." He stepped forwards and hugged Sam, then turned and walked out of the room.
over his shoulder as he walked down the front path, he saw Sam and
Jack through the kitchen
window. They were standing very close together, facing one another. Jack's hand came up and touched
Smiling to himself, George Hammond turned and walked to his staff car.
No doubt about it. Jacob would be proud.