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Sam had asked Daniel and Teal'c to meet her here at the SGC on this Saturday morning.
Jack had left for Washington the previous Tuesday afternoon for meetings with General Hammond, the Joint Chiefs and the President and wasn't due back until this evening.
She slowly climbed the steps from the control room to the briefing room and looked down at the stargate, remembering the first time she had walked up the ramp with Jack.
"You know, you really will like me when you get to know me."
"Oh, I adore you already, Captain."
Jack impatiently pushed her through the event horizon.
She sat down at the conference room table, slowly running her hand across the smooth surface as she remembered her first time in this room.
She hesitated a moment as she listened to General Hammond say that Sam Carter would be assigned to this mission. Then she heard the voice of the man whose mission reports she had read, the man that Catherine Langford had told her so much about, Colonel Jack O'Neill. She was a little nervous, but anxious, to meet the man that had gone through the gate with Dr. Daniel Jackson on that first eventful trip to Abydos. She smiled to herself as she heard the Colonel say he would prefer to put together his own team and assumed that Sam Carter was male. She took a deep breath and held her head high as she came into the room and got her first look at the Colonel. Her heart skipped a beat, wishing she had seen a picture of him before she had come here so she wouldn't have been so startled by how very handsome he was. She confidently saluted and introduced herself as their eyes met. The Colonel saluted back and looked into her eyes as Kawalsky and Ferretti started teasing her about her name. General Hammond ended the banter when she challenged the Colonel to arm wrestle.
Losing Kawalsky had been the first of many friends and acquaintances they would lose.
She thought back to when Jack had led his team for a second time through the gate to find Daniel on the other side.
She had read and heard about Daniel's theories and was so eager to meet this young, intelligent archaeologist who had chosen to stay with Sha're and the people of Abydos instead of returning to Earth. After everyone had met and had their evening meal, Daniel led them to a deep chamber inside the pyramid. He was so passionate about his findings of the cartouches and hieroglyphics that he believed would lead to other planets.
She had just met a man who became one of the closest friends she would ever have, a friend that became like a brother.
She smiled as she thought about another man who was one of her dearest friends, someone who was so different from anyone she had ever known. It had been so unlikely that someone from a far away planet would play such a huge role in her life. Teal'c became one of the few people she knew she could trust beyond the shadow of a doubt. So many times he had risked his life to save his teammates and she had always admired him for coming to Earth to help them fight the Gou'ald. His quiet, unassuming manner was a calming influence when life seemed unfair, he had been there to lean on when life would beat her down. He had witnessed Jack and herself reveal their true feelings for each other, but had never mentioned the incident to either one of them again, respecting their privacy and friendship.
Tears came to her eyes as she thought of another close friend.
Janet Frasier had been the closest female confidant she'd ever had. They had shared secrets, laughter and tears. The longer they knew each other, she grew to admire her as a caring, kind and compassionate doctor. Speaking at Janet's memorial service had been one of the hardest things she had ever done. She missed her friend and still felt angry when she remembered the shocking, senseless and horrific way that Janet had been taken from them. Janet's death had left a hole in her heart and knew that as long as she lived, that wound would never completely heal.
She wiped away the tears as General Hammond came to mind. She had known him since she was a little girl, he and her Dad had been friends for years. She greatly admired the General and, in some ways, he was a second father to her. She knew how much he had liked his job, but there had been times when she could see that the responsibility of being in charge of so many lives had been a huge weight on his shoulders, especially when a member of his teams did not come home alive from a mission. A few times, she had walked into his office when he was composing a letter to the next of kin and although he tried not to show his emotions, she could see that no matter how many times he had to do this, he would never get used to it. Even though she missed him, she was happy for him when he had been promoted and was reassigned to Washington.
There were so many people that she would miss. Siler, Walter, the staffs in the infirmary and commissary and the scientists she had worked with in her lab.
Rising from the table, she took a deep breath and walked into Jack's office. She looked around, remembering all those times she had stood in this room while talking with General Hammond and the conversations she had shared with Jack when he became commander of the base.
She stood beside his chair and ran her hand along the top, feeling the softness of the leather, thinking back to the day when she had been on her way to talk with Jack about Daniel's latest ascension.
She came to an abrupt halt in the conference room when she saw a pretty woman with dark curly hair talking with Jack in his office and saw the way she smiled at him. Feelings of jealousy ran through her. She was engaged to Pete and knew that if she really loved him, she wouldn't be feeling this way.
Just a few days later, she sat outside Jack's house, trying to work up the courage to go talk with him, to tell him that she felt she was making a mistake by marrying Pete. She also wanted to "take it out of the room" and finally discuss their relationship. That day had not gone as planned and ended badly. She found Kerry there with him, then received word that her father had collapsed and was in the infirmary. A few days later, they had buried her Dad.
Tears pooled in her eyes, she greatly missed her Father. Ever since he had been blended with Selmak, she felt that he would outlive her, but that had not happened. He had tried to tell her to go after that happiness that she deserved, to be with the one man that he knew would make her happy.
She sat on a bench with a man she didn't love, in front of a house she didn't want. She had broken Pete's heart and that was something she would feel guilty about for a long time.
Jack had found out about her broken engagement and she had hoped that he would let her know that he still cared about her and wanted them to do something about their relationship, but he had not.
She touched the top of Jack's chair once more then walked to the door, turning to look at his office as she took a deep breath.
She went back to the window and stared at the stargate one last time, quickly wiped her eyes and headed to the elevator to meet Teal'c and Daniel.
The day that Jack had flown to Washington was when she had told her two teammates that she was leaving. They had protested but as she explained to them why, they had understood her motives for wanting to do so. She had chosen to say goodbye here instead of at her house. Having them there would have made things harder for all of them.
They had shared so many team nights at her house when they had a few days off. They ate pizza while repeatedly watching Star Wars movies, so many times that they could almost recite the dialogue verbatim. Jack would usually say something to get a rise out of Daniel and she and Teal'c would watch in amusement as they bantered back and forth. They would fall asleep and she would open her eyes the next morning to find Daniel sprawled in a chair with his glasses at a crazy angle and Teal'c stretched out on the floor. She would be lying on the sofa with her head on a throw pillow against Jack's leg, as he slept with his feet propped up and his head back against the sofa. They would all eventually awaken and end up in her kitchen. Daniel brewed coffee; Jack cooked eggs and pancakes; Teal'c set the table and she would sit on a stool and watch, thinking about how much she loved all three of them, for different reasons. They would gather around her table for breakfast, chat and tease each other as they ate. As Jack and Daniel would linger over an extra cup of coffee, she and Teal'c would load the dishwasher and clean the kitchen.
The times they had spent together at her house over the last eight years had been some of the best times of her life. Until now, the four of them had shared a bond that she thought could never be broken.
Daniel and Teal'c entered her lab. Teal'c clasped his hands behind him and Daniel stood with his hands in his pockets.
She tried to smile. "Hi, guys."
Daniel looked around. "Got everything?"
"Yes. I didn't have that much personal stuff and I took it all home yesterday."
They stood in silence until Daniel took three steps and hugged her to him. She returned the hug and closed her eyes as tears started down her cheeks. Daniel held her for a long time, then leaned back and put his hands on her shoulders.
"You don't have to do this, Sam. You and Jack can work this out."
Sam shook her head as she wiped her eyes. "No we can't, Daniel. I've already explained why."
Daniel removed his hands and stepped back as he wrapped his arms around himself and stared at the floor.
Teal'c stepped in front of Daniel and embraced her.
Again the tears came as she leaned her head on his chest and slid her arms around his waist as he held her in a tight but gentle hug.
"I will miss your presence, Samantha." They stood there for a few moments until Teal'c let her go.
Daniel took a step toward her and looked into her eyes. "Jack is going to be so upset."
Sam put her hand on his arm. "I can't help it, Daniel, I have to do this. Please don't urge him to come after me. It's best this way."
She reached out to take their hands and the three friends drew themselves into a group hug.
Letting go, Sam picked up her purse and they walked to the door. Turning around, she looked back at her lab and turned off the light.
They walked slowly to the elevator and waited in silence until the door opened. Sam stepped inside as Daniel and Teal'c stared at her. She could see the sadness on Teal'c's face and tears in Daniel's eyes.
Daniel attempted to smile. "Please keep in touch, Sam. We love you."
Tears moistened her eyes. "I promise to keep in touch and I'll let you know when I get settled. I love you too."
She stared at them until the elevator doors closed and rode to the top to sign out for the last time. Trying not to cry, she drove away from the Mountain.
Stopping in Jack's driveway, she turned off the motor and sat staring at his house, remembering the last time she had been here.
Jack had been so supportive after her Dad died, trying to help out any way he could. He had helped her make funeral arrangements, made sure that friends and relatives had transportation to and from the airport, made sure everyone had a place to stay and so many other details he had taken care of.
After the funeral, Jack had opened his house to everyone. As people talked quietly, she took a few moments to be alone and had wandered away to stand in the farthest part of his backyard, her hands gripping a fence as tears filled her eyes. After a few minutes, she realized that Jack was standing a few feet behind her. She turned and looked at him as her face crumbled. Jack was there in a second, holding her in his arms, letting her cry out her pain. He held her for a long time, not saying a word, just comforting her with his embrace. He finally let go as she looked into his eyes. He gently wiped a tear from her cheek, turned around and walked away, leaving her there to take all the time she needed.
She picked up a large envelope off the seat. Getting out of her car, she walked up the steps to his house. After staring at the envelope for several seconds, she pushed the mail slot on his front door and dropped it inside.
Walking slowly back to her car, she turned around to take one last look at his house as she whispered "goodbye, Jack."