Sam slowly opened her new laptop, her fingers automatically going through the steps of logging in. Startled by the popup demanding that she re-enter her password, she paused. Damn, I can't believe I... She sat for a minute, eyes closed and fists clenched, taking slow, shuddering breaths. Letter by letter she carefully typed in the new password she'd chosen, the keyboard blurring as her eyes filled again with tears.
Wiping her eyes, Sam opened Word and began typing. I have to...to...something. I have to... She'd bought the laptop, feeling the need to be connected to something...anything. Now she wasn't sure where to start.
Jack's dead. There, I've written it. It's there before me, in black and white.
My new life. I don't have one. I am alone.
I love you.
I wish I had stayed there and died with you.
Oh God, I just ache inside. I can't....what more can be said? I am not even allowed the consolation of work or friends. The Navy, this strange...wrong...Navy has cut me off. Wasn't even the Air Force. But the Navy? Set me adrift. Cast me aside. I am not allowed to contact Daniel or Cam. I don't even know where they are. I am…lost. Oh God, Jack. I miss you.
It's been a month. Or, it will be tomorrow. A month. 30 days since Baal stabbed me in the heart. Maybe it was Jack's body, but it was my heart. What's funny in that 'O'Neill sense of humor way' is that even if we'd been able to return to the SGC that we know, I would still have been mourning alone. Why did we work so hard to keep it quiet? The minute he went to Washington we were free to date. Free to...be. Frat rules apply only to direct chain of command. We could have...should have...won't ever get to...God. Jack…Jack.
Dear Jack, Hallowe'en is tomorrow. I don't know why I always journal at the end of the month. Maybe it's because...I just don't know. I don't really have to work anymore, ever again. The Navy pays my bills, keeps my bank account at a set level, keeps tabs on me...
I've discovered something. I hate gardening. I still love the cello, but I can't play it anymore, it makes me miss you too much. Guess I'd better stock up on candy, or the kids in this neighborhood will think I'm the mean lady. I promise to get lots of mini KitKats, just because I know you love...loved...them.
This will never get easier, won't it?
I came this close today to calling Daniel. I have his number now. My Government handler left the room during our meeting yesterday to take a call, and I, of course, flipped through the folder. You'd be proud of me, Jack. I was stealthy and quick, even while reading upside down. I couldn't find Cam's information though. I wonder where his Grandma lived? Maybe he's somewhere in the south?
It's been four months, Jack, and I miss you more every day. I begged Landry to let us go back and set things right. Begged. He wouldn't hear of it. Still won't. They've threatened to incarcerate me if I continue to call. In this timeline he's still married, you know, or even married again. He is. Not you and me. Or rather, in this time you seem to be married too. It's like worrying at a sore tooth. I know that somewhere in this universe you are here, and happy. You and Sara and Charlie…your beloved Charlie. Landry is right in that respect, I guess. How could I ever think of going back and putting things "right" if it means ripping your heart out of you, Jack? My heart torn asunder while yours, in this place, remains whole. Maybe it is better this way.
Or not. I love you and miss you.
Christmas sucks. It's awful. I...well, Jack, I have a confession to make. I went and saw you. The "here" you, the one that knows me as "dead astronaut Col. Samantha Carter." You, or rather, he never knew I was there. I couldn't resist. I...oh God, what was I thinking? I packed up my car and headed west. I took a guess that you'd be living in your house, your old house with Sara, and sure enough. I sat in my car a few houses down from your place and just watched and waited. It was the day you, or he I guess...God, that's so confusing. Anyway, it was the day you all came home with your tree. You got out, then...Charlie. My heart stopped.
God, Jack, you should have seen him. Tall and strong, handsome–like his dad. Wonderful laugh. He's got sandy brown hair, cut long–which I'll bet drives you nuts. I wish I could have been closer, just to see his eyes. I imagine that they sparkle with laughter, like yours do, like you're laughing at a private joke. I guess he's about nineteen or twenty now. Here, in your time. This time. That's be right, wouldn't it? He...died...in my universe when he was nine or so, and that makes him, or would make him...I can't believe I can't wrap my mind around this. Anyway...Charlie started lifting the tree off of your Jeep and Sara came around the other side of the car. I left when you started the snowball fight. You all looked so happy, so...content. Landry's right. We...I...have no right to....
I ache for the you of now. Sometime in the future all of this, your happiness, your family, maybe even your beautiful son, will be gone. But, for just a moment, I got to see what could have been. It hurt me to see, but it also comforts me, somewhat, to see you so...alive. So happy.
So now I'm sitting in my hotel room, just blocks from your house. Your real house in my mind, the house at the edge of town. The one I know. The one my Jack should be in. That I should be in. The one we'll never be in again. I miss you, but I'm learning to live with it.
Hi Jack. I realized after rereading over my entries that these are not really journal entries, but more letters to you. Funny how the mind works.
Remember our first official date? Tomorrow will be the first anniversary of that night. How funny was that? It was so nice to be able to go to dinner and not worry about...anything. I remember sitting there, looking into your eyes and thinking, "I don't have to look away." I knew that I could sit and stare at your incredible brown eyes all night and nobody could say anything about it. You about made me faint when you kissed my cheek on your way to the restroom. I can still smell your cologne. It felt so right...so normal, you know? After knowing you...loving you...for so long, we could simply go out for a regular dinner. Like regular people.
It's been six months now. I'm fairly settled in my neighborhod, keeping busy. Oh, there was lots of hell to pay from my handlers for my little jaunt west last month. It doesn't matter. Nothing they could do to me could equal the pain I have inside.
I'm learning to like gardening, or at least planting vegetables. My flowers always die, but my tomatoes are doing well. I'm growing them inside for now and will replant them when it warms up. I've been reading a lot too, catching up on trashy novels, staying away from anything scientific. Last week I met...oh, who the hell am I kidding? I can feel my brain cells slowly dying, you know. Jack, last week I found myself standing in the paint aisle of Lowes wondering if I should paint the back fence 'periwinkle' or 'stable blue.' I think the poor clerk thought I was nuts when I suddenly burst into tears and ran from the store.
I'm thirty-eight years old and have nothing but a vacuous life to look forward to. Did I mention that I miss you? I do and I will, always.
Thank God this is the shortest month of the year. What an awful month. First, I was recognized. The girl down the block, she's about seventeen or so, is an absolute space buff. She never misses a shuttle mission or ISS development. Or so I now know. I was out front shoveling snow when a small foam model of the Intrepid landed next to my boot. I looked up and there was Janey Michaels, a mile-wide grin on her face, all green-eyed and freckle-faced innocence. She squatted down and just whispered, "I know who you are, Col. Carter."
Well, Jack, let me just say, I was–to quote the annoying Dr. McKay–gobsmacked. It's a good thing I had all those years of denial and pretending experience to fall back on, because I managed to sort of stumblingly deny anything. Janey basically told me she had figured out who I was and that I must be part of some government conspiracy. Honestly, Jack, I was so surprised that I barely managed to be civil before sprinting into the house. You used to joke about how slowly the government moves...well Jack, you'd be surprised. I was packed, re-ID'd and relocated before 24 hours were up. My handlers are furious. At least this time I got to pick my location.
I am now the proud owner of a small cabin in...wait for it...Minnesota. I know it's wrong, sick even, in a weird kind of way, but I...I needed to feel close to you. It's not going away, this 'missing you' thing, you know. You're stuck in my head...my heart, Jack O'Neill, and I can't get you out. And I don't want to.
So, what else went wrong this month? Oh, yes...the ever joyful Valentine's Day. We were supposed to have that whole week together this year. You, me and lots and lots of sun and surf. To be perfectly honest, I was hoping that we'd talk about a wedding that weekend. I even had a speech worked out, you know, just in case the moment arrived and I felt like proposing to you. That would have thrown you, wouldn't it? I shouldn't have waited.
Loving you and missing you even more, your Sam.
Holy Hannah is it unbelievably cold here! Okay, so I knew–intellectually–that it gets cold here, but in practicality? Wow. I don't have anything to write this month as I've done basically nothing. Well, not entirely true. I did some random calculations on the probability of mulitiphase...you don't really care, do you? I finally tabled my notes by falling back on Occam's Razor: all other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best. I've thought about this a lot, and I really think that if we can just get back to the gate, we can fix this. I can fix this. I can fix you.
I know it sounds insane, but it's the only think keeping me from going wacko right now.
Always yours, Sam.
Snow. Lots of snow. I miss you even more. How is that possible?
Hi Jack. I took great delight in the fact that due to late spring storms Tim Mason, my new handler, had to drive way the hell up here to check with me because the phones and Internet are down again.
I snuck a quick call to Daniel last week. He's doing well and is getting used to his new prosthetic leg. I'm setting him up with an anonymous ftp client so we can exchange pictures again. I miss him...and Cassie. I miss Cassie. She's not even Cassie in our universe, is she? She never came to Earth. Oh God, Jack, our Cassie's probably dead! She would have died alone on Hanka.
I'm going back to bed. Maybe I'll wake up and you'll be here, and this will all be just a bad dream.
Well, Jack, it's spring, finally, here in Minnesota. Cal down at the local diner says that it'll be coho fishing time again soon, whatever that means. He's a nice guy, even offered me a semi-clean hanky when I began to cry. I like your Minnesotan's, Jack. They're warm, quick to lend a hand, and willing to stand by and let me be when I need to be quiet.
I'm going back into town for supplies today. I'm out of everything, including Fruit Loops, which they call "Frooties" here. Go figure. They even screw up the name of your cereal in this timeline.
I have more to tell you, Jack, but I'll wait 'till tonight when I get back. I need to make some decisions soon, and maybe you can help. Until I get back, think of me as I do you, every minute of every day.
There is a sequel to this, of sorts to be found on my main ff dot net page. It's called Approaching Normal. It was written after a fan wrote me a review of this story and demanded I "fix it," and make Sam happy again. So, I did.