While We Wait
Category: Missing Scenes/Romance/Angst
Spoilers: Continuum Movie
Summary: Sam misses Jack too much to stay away. Spoilers for Continuum.
Author's Note: If you've read my stories before, you know that I'm a devoted Sam/Jack shipper. As I watched Continuum, I kept thinking of how horrible Sam must have felt losing Jack and then meeting him again as a complete stranger. Here's my take on what happened after and during the timeline change. There is a sequel to this story.
Disclaimer: SG-1 and its characters are not my property. I have written this story for the enjoyment of Stargate SG-1 fans all over the world. No copyright infringement is intended and no monetary gain is expected.
Colonel Sam Carter despondently drove through the city of Colorado Springs, the beautiful summer day doing nothing to lift her perpetually depressed spirits. She had spent more than four hours visiting familiar places — her favorite coffee shop, the corner store she always bought her bread and milk at, the laundry cleaners, the Academy, Petersen AFB. She had even taken a defiant drive by NORAD despite all the dire warnings and threats, wondering if they had completely ignored SG-1's warnings and failed to recover the Stargate.
Her house was owned by an old widow in this timeline, which she thought was fitting. The old lady had looked as sad and lonely as Sam felt, but she was doing a much better job with the flowers in the front garden than Sam had ever managed.
Everything else looked the same. Even some of the shop clerks were familiar, although not one of them knew her. Oh, she had gotten plenty of surprised looks everywhere she went, but she was used to those by now, and she had just ignored them, as usual. People would just shake their heads and move on if she did not react, probably remarking on how much she looked like the unlucky Mission Commander that had gotten herself killed in the ill-fated NASA mission four years ago.
Sam had not bothered to drive by Janet's home since she knew that the doctor worked and lived in Texas. Her much missed friend had never made it to Colorado since there was no SGC Program in need of her talented services, but at least she was still alive.
General Hammond didn't live in Colorado Springs, either. He worked at the Pentagon and lived in Virginia, but she had not attempted to see him. There was no point. He didn't know her, anyway. Since he had never met a blond time traveler and her friends in 1969, he had never become Jacob Carter's close friend.
Thinking about her dad brought a pang of nostalgia to her heart. In this timeline he had died of cancer years ago, but he probably had been proud of his daughter, who by then had already been on her way to becoming an astronaut. And her mom had met the same fate in this timeline. She had tragically died in a car accident when this timeline's Sam Carter was only fourteen years old.
Feeling decidedly miserable with her sad thoughts, Sam slowed down in a quiet residential neighborhood and parked across — but far up the street — from another familiar home. She had left this stop for last, but she acknowledged that coming to Colorado Springs had had one purpose and one purpose alone, and it had not been to reminisce. She was here hoping to catch a glimpse of the man she so sorely missed, the one plaguing her every dream and thought, the only person she would risk everything for.
She knew that, if she got caught spying on Colonel O'Neill, she would be in huge trouble, but she had decided to come anyway. What could they do to her? Yell at her? Cut off her allowance? Throw her in jail? She lived in a prison already!
Whatever the consequences were, she could bear them. The life she led was unfair punishment already. Cut off from Cam and Daniel, not allowed to work in her fields of expertise, and prohibited from contacting anyone that she might have known in her own timeline, including her brother and his family, she lived in a miserable limbo that had finally pushed her to throw caution to the wind.
She needed something, anything that would help her cope, and seeing Jack was the one thing she thought could give her the strength to continue waiting. Eating sugary cereals and watching The Simpsons just wasn't enough to fill the gaping, bleeding hole in her heart left by the man she so adored.
Remembering that in her own timeline he had died in her arms, and that here he didn't even know her, drove a smoldering blade into her soul every single time. The worst thing by far was not knowing how long she would have to wait alone, without him in her life, until the Goa'uld finally came. She was well aware that it could be years, and she just didn't know if she could bear it.
"Just wait. You know it's just a matter of time before Ba'al comes knocking. Be patient, and we'll see each other again eventually," Cam had said to her and Daniel the last time they had been allowed to meet.
The "eventually" part was what worried her, and she had said as much, but Daniel had agreed with Cameron.
Poor, lame Daniel. He should have his prosthesis by now, but he was probably as frustrated as she was, unable to work in archeology or anything related to his previous career despite being so close to his old university while living in Chicago. And Cam, relocated to Kansas City, was in no better situation. He wasn't allowed to fly, not even for fun. That had to be killing him!
Their last meeting had taken place four months ago, four long months of loneliness, frustration, and despair. Sam had never realized just how much she had depended on her friends to be happy. She had known that not having Jack would be agonizingly difficult, but not having her friends, especially Cassie, had hit her especially hard. She could not even ponder on the girl's fate without tearing up. It was too agonizing to contemplate. She had probably died on her planet along with everyone else, a victim of Nirrti's experiments, her young little body left to rot in the fields.
'Stop it!' Sam admonished herself. She shouldn't dwell on matters she could not remedy. Thinking too much just managed to upset her and depress her further, so she swallowed the lump in her throat and paid attention to a young man who suddenly burst out of the O'Neill home, laughing loudly and carrying a large duffel bag as he headed for the blue SUV parked in the driveway. He was tall and lanky, with longish, light brown hair, and had a beautiful smile.
That had to be Charlie! Sam had seen old pictures of him when she had been investigating Jack's life in this dismal timeline. The boy was the only bright spot of her agonizing ordeal so far. She was truly happy for Jack. He had his son, even if he didn't have his wife.
Sara had divorced him years ago and now lived in Denver with her new husband. Sam had been surprised by that turn of events. She had always assumed that Charlie's death had been the cause for Jack's failed marriage, but it seemed like that hadn't been the case, at least not in this timeline. Jack had not remarried, but had remained close with Sara and was an involved father. He also kept very busy in the Air Force, gone for weeks at a time as a Special Ops Instructor and Operative all over the world. But he was currently on down time, enjoying the summer with his son.
"You must especially stay away from Colonel O'Neill," she had been warned. "The relationship you had with him in your timeline does not exist in this one. He never met Samantha Carter and he was not happy with the three of you last time I saw him," her handler had firmly explained.
Of course Jack hadn't been happy! They had told him that Charlie had killed himself with his gun. Sam also knew that Jack hated anything that threatened to confuse him, and the tale they had offered had definitely confused him. Sam had not seen him again once they had left the submarine. He had made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with them. And, despite the fact that she perfectly understood why, it still broke her heart, just as the lack of love in his eyes when he had found them in the Artic had hurt her deeply.
She had initially thought he'd recognized her, and if she hadn't been so exhausted and surprised, she would have probably run into his arms with utter relief. It was a good thing that she had not, because she had been wrong. He had only known her from pictures, the pictures of a long dead hero.
Sam's heart leapt when the familiar figure of her beloved suddenly followed the young man out of the house, also laughing and teasing the boy, clearly happy. Charlie threw the heavy-looking duffel bag in the trunk of the SUV as he retorted to something his dad was saying, making Jack laugh again, then he returned to the house while his father dropped another large bag in the trunk and strolled toward the mailbox, casually looking up and down the street and making Sam want to shrink behind the wheel of her car.
She didn't think he had noticed her. He was intently perusing the content of his mail as he returned to the house, walking slowly and with his head down. Charlie continued to load his car with sports equipment and more bags. 'He must be returning to college,' Sam thought, her heart feeling a little lighter with the happy picture Jack and his dearly loved son projected.
As she took in the boy's tall figure carefully stacking items inside his car, her eyesight blurred and her breath hitched. 'Damn it!' she though, wiping away a tear. 'This is supposed to make me feel better!' Instead, she was wishing she could be part of that picture, the happy mother figure and the loving wife.
Emotional tears insisted on escaping her eyelids, making her wipe her cheeks and look inside her purse for a tissue. As she searched, she realized that she had made a huge mistake coming here. Seeing Jack had just made her loss feel more intense and difficult to bear. She had to leave and try to put him out of her mind, as impossible as she knew that would be. She would probably lose her sanity if she didn't.
As she finally found a lonely tissue inside her bag and quickly dried her face, she lifted her gaze and froze. The familiar brown eyes of her husband were staring at her as he leant inside her open passenger window.
It wasn't the soft, loving gaze she had been used to receiving from him. This one was hard and challenging as he glared at her, clearly upset.
"What are you doing here?" he bluntly asked, to which Sam couldn't immediately answer. She just gaped at him, both horrified and elated, taking in every single feature and every detail of his clothing, wishing she could reach out and touch him to make sure he was real.
"I said…" he started to ask again, but Sam finally found her voice.
"Nothing! I… I don't mean any harm," she nervously answered.
"I was ordered to report you if you showed up around here. I didn't think you'd have any reason to, but I guess they knew better and I should follow orders… since here you are," he threatened, then pushed away from the car and straightened to pull out his cell phone from his pocket.
"Please, Jack, don't!" Sam urgently begged, stepping out of her car and extending a pleading hand as if to stop him, even though she couldn't from the other side of the vehicle.
His first name coming out of her lips seemed to give him pause, and she pressed on. "Please. I'll leave. I won't bother you anymore."
He hesitated, his glare softening into a look of puzzled sympathy, so Sam felt encouraged to try to explain. "I swear I never meant to…"
But she was unable to finish her sentence. To her further embarrassment, a sob caught in her throat and prevented her from speaking further. Covering her mouth with her hand and closing her eyes in shame, she lowered her head, trying to control her tears.
"Hey," she heard him say in a softer tone, but she couldn't look at him. It was just too hard! Having him look at her and talk to her as if she were an annoying lunatic was more painful than she could have ever imagined, so she just shook her head and concentrated on holding back the tears, letting her long blond hair partially cover her anguished features.
"Hey," he repeated, and this time he was standing next to her, softly grasping her arm to turn her around. "It's okay, I won't report you. Just… stop crying, okay?"
Sam couldn't talk, but she nodded, still looking down.
"C'mere," he gently coaxed, pulling her stiff form and wrapping tentative arms around her, and Sam then really couldn't control herself anymore.
She helplessly cried out as she melted in his arms, pitifully weeping on his chest, her right hand flat over his heart and feeling every steady beat, while the other one fisted his t-shirt, holding on so that he wouldn't stop hugging her. God, she had missed him so much!
This was Jack, the same Jack that had always soothed her tears with identical words, and for a few moments she wanted to believe that this was the same Jack that belonged to her. She had watch him breathe his last breath, she had grieved intensely but briefly while trying to survive on the Artic ice with Cameron, wanting to give up and just die for the first time in her life. Jack had been lost to her, and she just couldn't find it in her to care about living anymore. And then there he'd been, whole and healthy, standing before her on the endless ice, but he hadn't known her as his wife.
Coming here had been worth it, even it she got punished for it. He was holding her, just like he used to, and Sam was briefly in heaven, able to forget the past four months if just for a few seconds. If she could just stay there indefinitely, freeze that moment until the Goa'uld showed up…!
"Dad?" she suddenly heard, making her instantly face reality and take a deep breath as she reluctantly pulled away from the embrace, quickly wiping her tears with her fingers. She forced herself to stop crying as Jack dropped one arm from around her shoulders and faced his son, still holding on to her protectively with the other one.
"It's okay, Charlie. It's… an old friend," he assured the younger man, who stared at them in bafflement. Briefly meeting Sam's red, watery eyes, Jack silently conveyed a warning, to which Sam responded with a slight nod as she finished wiping her cheeks.
"Is she okay?" Jack's son softly asked, sounding sincerely concerned.
"Yeah! She's just… happy to see me," Jack said, warningly tightening the arm he still had wrapped around Sam. "Charlie, meet…"
"Cassandra Fraiser," Sam quickly introduced herself with the cherished name she had picked for her fake life, wiping her wet fingers on her jeans and extending her hand.
"She's a colleague from the Air Force," Jack added to the lie.
"Glad to meet you, Ms. Fraiser," Charlie greeted her, grasping the tip of her fingers and giving them a gentle shake, but staring at her as if in amazement.
"Charles… it's not polite to stare, no matter how attractive the girl is," Jack jokingly admonished.
"Sorry, Ma'am," Charlie immediately blushed with an embarrassed smile very much like Jack's, but quickly recovered. "It's just that…" he hesitated. "Has anyone ever told you that you look like…?"
"A dead astronaut?" Sam finished for him, sniffing loudly and finally taking complete hold of herself. "Yes, but I'm very much alive," she attempted to joke.
"Of course," Charlie smiled wider. "You're just as pretty as she was," he complimented. "I was very sorry when she…"
"That's depressing conversation, Charles," Jack interrupted. "Weren't you late visiting your sick friend? The car is all packed for tomorrow, so why don't you go and I'll see you tonight?" Jack interrupted.
"Oh, sure!" Charlie quickly took the hint, nodding immediately. Then he added, "I'll probably be back at around eight to change. There's a party tonight and I don't wanna miss it." Then he smiled again at Sam. "It was a pleasure, Ma'am. Hope you two have a nice visit," he wished as he gave his father a knowing grin.
"It was great meeting you, Charles," Sam managed to say, very aware of the tense fingers grasping her shoulder and of the boy's mistaken assumption. He probably thought she was her father's secret girlfriend. If he knew the truth!
They both watched the handsome young man walk away and jump into his car, then happily wave at them as he pulled out and drove off.
"He's leaving tomorrow morning for school," Jack lamely commented, dropping his arm from around her and again leaving her cold and bereft despite the warm temperature of the day.
"He's such a handsome boy," she sincerely stated, again wiping her still wet cheeks as Jack watched her carefully.
"Yeah. He takes after his mother," Jack modestly replied.
"I disagree," Sam responded with a small smile. Then she added, "I'm so happy for you, Jack. I'm happy that he's alive, that you have him in your life."
Jack nodded, then asked, "Can you tell me what the tears were all about?" he asked, and she could tell that he was intensely curious about her, about her motivation for coming to see him. The anger and distrust were now completely gone from his eyes, replaced by something that seemed like genuine sympathy and interest.
"Are you sure you want to know?" she asked, her sadness permeating her tone.
He seemed to consider that for a moment, but then he said, "I do," sounding very sure.
Sam just nodded, dropping her gaze, but then she said, "You're probably better off not knowing. I'm really sorry I intruded. I just…" she started to explain, her lower lip trembling again, but then she gave up. She knew that if she tried to keep talking to him as if he were a complete stranger, she might lose it once more. "I'm sorry," she repeated, then attempted to get back into her car.
"Wait!" he stopped her, reaching out and firmly grasping her arm.
"Please…" she softly begged, not quite daring to look at him again. She really didn't want to go. She wanted to stay here as long as possible, feeling his touch, warmed up by his presence, but she was afraid of what might happen if she stayed longer. She really didn't want to see anger and distrust reflected in his eyes again.
"I do wanna know," he said. "Were you and I…?" he motioned between them, looking perplexed.
And he always played dumb! He had guessed right in the first try, but Sam still hesitated, wanting to tell him but afraid of his reaction.
She finally met his eyes uncertainly, her heart breaking a little more with every heartbeat, but she forced herself to reply. She wanted him to know. She needed him to know.
"My full legal name was… Samantha Carter-O'Neill."
She anxiously watched as Jack took a step back, dropping his hand from her arm in shock. After a few moments of mute astonishment, he softly asked, "Why… why didn't you say anything that day?"
"You didn't know me!" she brokenly cried out, tears threatening to spill again. "What could I have said? I didn't even know if you had another wife in this timeline!"
Jack just continued to stare at her as her eyes filled up and she frustratingly pressed her trembling fingers against her eyelids to staunch the flow. "It doesn't matter!" she firmly stated. "It was made very clear to me that I have no one here, that I have to stay away from you and everyone else I've ever known! I didn't mean to bother you. I didn't mean for you to see me at all! I just…" she sobbed, turning away from him. "I just wanted to see you," she pathetically admitted. "I'm sorry I bothered you!"
"Stop saying that," he softly begged, taking a deep breath and looking away as if considering a very serious problem, which she guessed she really was.
"Your life must really suck right now," he commiserated, which made her chuckle bitterly. That had been such a Jack O'Neill remark!
"Ya think?" she asked, which seemed to surprise him. She knew he had recognized the expression as one of his own.
"I… really don't understand this whole… timeline business," he admitted with a grimace. "Every time I think about it, it just…"
"Gives you a headache, I know," she sadly smiled, shocking him again. "It's okay, you don't have to understand. I'm not even supposed to be here."
He stared at her silently as she continued to wipe her tears away, and she knew that he wanted to comfort her, to do something that would make her feel better, but he was truly clueless, so she just quietly said, "It's all right, Jack. You don't have to say anything… and I'll stay away, I promise."
He was silent for a moment, staring at her and clearly torn. Then he asked, "But will you be okay?"
Sam was surprised by his genuine concern, but delighted nonetheless. Jack O'Neill was a good man in any timeline, and his sincere worry over her welfare, even when she was a complete stranger to him, touched her as nothing else could have.
"I'll be fine," she lied, her voice breaking and betraying the lie, but she still hoped that he would believe her. "I'll survive while I wait."
Jack seemed even more confused by her statement, but he didn't ask for clarification. After a few seconds of mutual contemplation, he regretfully nodded. Then he stepped back so that she could enter her car, which she dejectedly did.
She gazed at him once more with burning eyes as she turned on the ignition and prepared to depart. As she slowly drove away, tears blurring his reflection in the rearview mirror, she softly whispered to the husband she used to have, "Good bye, Jack. I miss you."
He didn't hear her, of course, but he continued to look after her car until she disappeared from sight and she couldn't see him anymore.