Okay, this is the epilogue so many have asked for. This has been re-written too many times to count and I hope you like this final product. It has a bit of Sam-bashing, but more in the way of her regretting her past choices and actions in regards to Jack and the way she handled him and her relationship.
I've noticed last chapters of fics get very little feedback, so please make my day and review.
ONE YEAR LATER
The meeting finally broke up and Jack turned to Mitchell, looking at his successor with approval "You do good work, Mitchell, keep it up and you'll be in line for an eagle very soon."
The man beamed at the high praise "Thank you, sir!"
Seeing his chance to finally talk to his old friend, Daniel moved in, while in the corner a lone blond female waited for the chance to catch the object of her interest in private.
She'd had a lot to think about since the General had left her life 2 years ago.
It was the fact that she'd been getting a lot less attention from men this last year than in the previous years that had made her look at her entire life seriously. Sure, her career was as good as it'd been while SG-1 had still been in it's original form, but privately she was a loser. Two broken engagements, several dead suitors, some by her own hand, and one man who had been supposed to be a reserve, the safe bet, had left the town, putting distance between them. And now she was getting older, losing her physical appeal and attention from other men to top it off.
Looking around her, she could see everyone had someone, except for herself. Cameron had Vala and vice versa, Daniel had recently gotten together with Sarah Gardner, Teal'c and Ishta were an item, hell even Walter was married and had kids!
On the other hand, for her the pool of alien lovers and off-world Romeos had completely dried up and, because she'd held him at bay for just too long, she'd also lost her fallback guy. It was quite an unpleasant shock when she'd realized some months ago that she was now completely alone and, to make matters worse, it was only by her own fault.
But today it was like gods... er... Goa'uld had smiled down upon her. This was her chance, she just had to wait for Daniel to clear away.
10 minutes later she finally saw her chance and was about 5 feet away from him, nearing from 6 o'clock, when she was thwarted by the small Sergeant. Growling softly in frustration she backed away.
"General, sir, you have a phone call. Line 2, you can take it on that phone." he pointed to the phone sitting on the conference table.
"Thanks, Walter." Jack nodded and picked up the phone, while Sam looked on with disappointment. She'd again have to wait.
"Yeah, O'Neill here." the soft living in DC hadn't made him soft, he still had the commanding presence and the authorative voice that had everyone present stiffen unconsciously.
To the surprise of everyone in the conference room his face did soften, become gentle and a small smile grew on his face.
"Yeah... uh huh.... no, sorry, can't do that... okay, that I can do...." then, realizing others were paying him a very close attention, he turned and walked to a corner. Carter strained her ears and could've sworn she'd heard something like "Love you too." before he hung up the phone and returned to the table. She'd had to misunderstood that. There was no-one else Jack was supposed to say those words to except for Samantha Carter!
Daniel was of course the first one broken by his curiosity.
"Who was on the phone?" he practically demanded, interrogating his old friend.
The answer wasn't something either of them had expected.
Jack smiled that slow, mysterious smile that had almost driven Sam crazy over it's meaning after the time loops. The smile that spoke ' I know something you don't '.
"Oh, that was just my wife calling to remind me to be on time for the Lamaze classes for our twins tomorrow."
The sudden silence was like an explosion inside the small room. It was like time had stopped. Even Walter had frozen mid-step leaving the room.
"Your... wife...?" stammered Sam, her face drained of all color.
Cam and Vala looked at each other confused "I didn't know you were married, General?" ventured Vala.
"Why were we not informed?" accused Teal'c.
Jack looked at him meaningfully "Because you were too busy to pick up the phone and call me back whenever I left one of my messages."
The tone of Jack's voice revealed he knew they hadn't been that busy.
The guilt in Teal'c's eyes told the story of him now facing the horror of what he and Sam had done.
They'd done what Jack would've never done to them: they'd abandoned him, they'd left Jack behind.
They'd left their own behind.
They didn't know it, since that future had been averted, but it had not been the first time they'd done that.
The tense silence was broken by the new leader of SG-1.
"Congratulations, sir." wished Mitchell astounded. His best wishes were echoed by Vala, who of course did it much more jubilantely. Cam, knowing the woman whom he was slowly, but surely, entering a relationship with, quickly reached out and grasped her waist, to hold her still. He'd seen the twitch of her body and was sure the older man would not appreciate being hugged or something like that. He didn't look the touchy-feely sort of person, while Vala definitely was. Either that or she was a damn good actress.
Cameron also privately feared Vala wouldn't be able to resist the call and would grab the chance and try to pick-pocket the General, if for nothing else then to at least try to maintain her skill and Cam knew it would all somehow end up with him being courts-martialled. But unfortunately that's all part of the package of falling for an ex-thief.
"Thanks, Colonel, Vala." Jack thanked.
"My felicitations upon your nuptials, O'Neill." Teal'c nodded regally and Jack sent him a grateful look and a friendly pat on a massive shoulder.
Nodding in confusion Daniel pushed up his glasses "Yeah, congrats, Jack."
"Yeah, congratulations, sir." Sam added faintly when she realized they were all staring expectantly at her. Inside she was screaming in rage, betrayal and disappointment.
"Do we know the lady in question, sir?" wanted Cam to know, sending odd looks at his silent 2IC.
Jack fidgeted, hoping for something to busy his hands with "Uh, not most of you, no. She was the CIA liaison here for a brief time before she transferred to DC. Her name is... er... her name was Kerry Johnson."
Sam felt like she'd just been sucker-punched ' KERRY!? '
"How come you don't look so surprised, Jackson?" Cam eyed Daniel suspiciously.
Vala accused him with her eyes "Yes, Darling, why do you look so guilty?"
Now he had Sam's and Teal'c's attention too.
"Uh... because...." he stammered and then finally managed to get out "because I was Jack's best man."
His guilt worsened when Sam's wounded, betrayed eyes focused on him. She felt like she'd just been stabbed in the back. How could he have collaborated in this atrocity!?
Numb with distress she watched as Jack, uncomfortable with the emotional atmosphere, turned to the rest of the men "What do you say, gentlemen and ladies, to beer at O'Malley's?"
Receiving affirmative answers he led the group to the door, then pausing when he realized Sam was still standing there.
"Will be there in a minute, sir." she assured and watched as the man she had thought was her safe bet left the room with others, now more far away than ever before. What was worse, before he'd been unreachable due to her own decision to keep him at an arm's length, but now he was married, she'd lost him for good.
It hadn't been Jack keeping them apart, but it had been she.
She'd happily gone off with other men, smugly confident he'd just sit and wait while she was fooling around with them, content to be used as a second choice, as an open option, in case her roaming around bore no fruit.
She'd been living in some childish fantasy world with stupid romantic ideas that when she was ready to settle for him, the man, Jack, was supposed to give up his career for her, add yet another sacrifice for her at her altar, that she yet again wouldn't have to give up anything, compromise for anyone. After all, SHE was the one that OTHERS gave things up, compromised for.
She'd been dumb and stupid. How could she have expected he'd hold on for eternity without any sign from her at all that she wanted him? How could she have expected he'd read her mind, give up his job and play Mr Mom while she pranced around the universe like a single woman without a responsibility in the world? Isn't that what her vision of the future had been? Leave the kids with Jack and then go to another galaxy, not giving up active duty, not even dialling it back a bit?
Only now was she realizing she should never have expected of him to give up his career, instead she should've offered to give up hers had she wanted to keep him.
So the stalemate she'd created had dragged on for end, surviving through ups and downs, through her weekly suitors and Romeos, alien and human.
And then he'd gone and thrown her for a loop by finding someone else. But only for a loop, because she'd soon found out Kerry had left him. And, when he'd gone to DC, Sam had been comforted knowing how much he hated that city, knowing he'd be alone there, eagerly waiting for her to finally, finally after so many years and so many rejections, to grace herself down off her pedestal to his peasant-level and grace him with the honor and privilege of being her safe bet.
Yet all her ideas had fallen through with the simple, but earth-shattering truth.
Jack had moved on in DC and married another woman. To rub the salt in after having realized she was getting old and losing attention from men, a much younger woman. Kerry, which made it even so much worse and so much more permanent. She knew how Jack was about relationships and if he'd gone back to Kerry after he'd been transferred to DC, if they'd been able to work through the ruins of their previous relationship and build a new one, one strong enough to get married and start a family, then all was lost for Sam Carter.
Through the years, she'd purposely kept herself out of his reach just enough to keep him interested.
But now... now he was out of her reach and this time it was for good. And she had no-one to blame but herself.
Had she had a symbiote she was sure it would be laughing hysterically right about now.