When he first watches them step through the Stargate (without him) from behind the window of the control room; when he first sees that great, big, honkin' pool of light swallow them up with a content slurp, something constricts in his chest. Something tightens like a noose in his gut, coils around his stomach, squeezes his lungs until he's finding it hard to breathe correctly, and it takes him a moment before he realizes that he's regretful (like an old man).

The wormhole disengages with a whoosh, and he stands there staring at the Stargate. Walter clears his throat, says something about the next team checking in. Jack's not listening. A bitter taste lingers in his mouth.

He's supposed to be out there with them, for god's sake! What the hell's he doing here, cooling his heels back on Earth while they're out there (three-man team, three-man team, three-man team) fighting to save the galaxy one more time from another overdressed, over-the-top, cliché bad guy?

What the hell is he doing here?

He doesn't even know why he took the job. Oh, wait – yes, he does. "If you don't take the job, we could end up with someone much worse." (Colonel, not Major) Carter's words, and oh-so-true as always. He did it for them, that's what he did it for – for them.

Not to say that there aren't benefits: he gets a nice desk, a comfortable chair, a fancy ballpoint pen. But are those worth it?

"We don't leave our people behind." The SGC's unofficial maxim, spoken with such pride and joy. He wonders what's happened to it: After all, hell, they'd left him behind. They let him leave himself behind.

And, dammit, he's becoming sentimental (old man!).

Walter clears his throat, breaking his moment of self-pity, and Jack sweeps out of the gateroom to twiddle his thumbs in his office with his feet on the desk and his ass in that nice, comfortable chair (on the backburner) until, hours later, the blaring of klaxons and the familiar "Unscheduled off-world activation!" wakes him from his reverie. He bounces out of his chair and lope-jogs down the stairs back to the gateroom.

Walter glances up. "It's SG-1's IDC, sir. They're coming in hot."

"Open the iris."