Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate Sg1 or any of it's characters, I post this strictly for entertainment purposes.
A Time and Place for Us
He spotted her almost immediately as he exited the car. He hadn't seen her in years, but she looked very much the same as she had the last time they had been in each others presence. Her hair was the same shade of gold, unlike his, which had greyed quite a bit in the last few years and her face was just as radiant as the first day he met her, however her usually smiling eyes now held sadness and pain, tears streaming freely down her cheeks.
He straightened his tie and approached warily. How was he going to face her? She and Jack had been his best friends for so many years, but his departure from Earth all those years ago had made keeping up with them nearly impossible. As it was, it had been nearly three years since he had visited either one of them. Seeing her now, just made that lump in his throat grow tighter as he came near.
Often he asked himself if it had been worth leaving Earth for Atlantis, and now he was finding himself regretting all of the years he had missed with his friends. However, he found solace in his work out there, finding he could focus on his research without the constant reminders of what he had lost back on Earth.
Even after ten years, it still hurt to think about his reasons for leaving, about the loss that still left him feeling hollow inside. He admitted to himself early on that Vala had been the only woman he had ever loved after Sha're died but, he had been so afraid of being hurt by her that he had practically pushed her away. However, she was relentless in her pursuit of him and eventually he let down his guard and finally surrendered his heart to her. In a move of spontaneity that took him by surprise, he found himself asking her to marry him and for more than two years they lived happily together as husband and wife, his every breath devoted to her until one disastrous mission led to her vanishing from his life forever.
No one knew what happened exactly. He hadn't gone with the team that time, having travelled to China for a diplomatic summit with the IOA. Only, when he came home, instead of Vala greeting him as he returned to the SGC, Gen. Landry and Col. Mitchell had to sit him down and explain how Vala had gone missing on their last mission. According to Mitchell, they had been tasked with the rather mundane mission of scouting an abandoned planet, taking soil samples and retrieving the UAV that had sent out before for an aerial survey. While Sam had taken Teal'c with her to track down the small remote control airplane, Vala and Mitchell went off to take soil samples. That's when all hell broke loose. They found themselves being attacked from the air and dodging volleys of fire from the assaulting aircraft. Sam and Teal'c managed to make it back to the gate and dial home, holding the gate open for their two other teammates while Vala and Mitchell on the other hand, encountered troops that beamed to the ground from their ships. The soldiers attacked and managed to separate Mitchell and Vala, surrounding her and beaming her back to their ship. Unable to help, Mitchell barely made it back to the gate.
They looked for weeks all across the galaxy, but they never did learn the identity of their attackers and none of their allies recognized the descriptions of the aliens they gave them. Finally, after many months, the General was ordered to end the search. Though Daniel had protested most vehemently, there was nothing more he could do to find her and shortly after that, she was officially declared MIA and presumed to be dead.
Daniel found it too painful to stay, yet unable to move on and leave the Stargate program completely. For a very long time he lived in a sort of limbo, not knowing if she was alive or dead, refusing to hold a memorial for her. He hoped that something would lead to him finding her or at least to identifying her abductors. After five years however, he came to the realization that she was never coming back, that if she was still alive, she would have found a way to escape because she was Vala Mal Doran, the most resourceful and wily woman he had ever known and no one would be able keep her captive for so long. So he sold their house and packed his things for Atlantis, going back to what he did best; studying the Ancients and hiding from his grief.
Now here he was, ten years after losing Vala and finding himself drawn to his friend as she stood in front of the flag-draped casket, shaking with sobs, her black dress blowing in the wind. He had been where she had been too often and he just wanted to hold her and tell her that everything would be alright, that one day she would be happy again, but how could he tell her that when his own heart had failed to ever heal.
A man he recognized as her brother, walked up to her and wrapped a supportive arm around her shoulder, leading her to a chair where she sat and wiped at her tears with a handkerchief he pulled from his pocket.
Daniel closed in cautiously, while several other friends he recognized from over the years came up to her to pay their respects. Without consciously being aware of it, he found himself standing beside the casket of his best friend, reaching a hand out and placing it onto the soft fabric of the flag that draped over it. No longer able to push back the tears that had been threatening to spill from his eyes since he first found out he was gone. He let go and felt them fall hotly down his face.
"Oh God, Jack..." was all he could say as he closed his eyes against the pain and felt his knees grow soft. Sensing a hand on his back, he turned around and found himself looking into her eyes, mirroring the emotions he felt. He reached out for her and she for him. Embracing and sobbing both at the same time, they held each other wordlessly as time stood still. Finally, reality intruded upon their shared grief and they pulled apart, he still holding onto her hands.
"I'm so sorry, Sam" He managed to get out after he found his voice again and released her hands, wiping at his tears with the back of his hand.
"I'm glad you're here, Daniel. I wasn't sure if you were going to make it." She too wiped at her eyes with shaky hands. He could tell she was trying to reign in her emotions and put on her military bearing again, yet the pain was too much to mask completely.
"I had to be here Sam, I had to say good-bye. I never got to do it in person." He looked again at the casket, it was still too surreal to think of Jack as being gone forever. He had always taken it for granted that his best friends were happy back on Earth and relatively safe from harm as both Sam and Jack had retired together and married. No one had expected that a heart attack would take him away from them so soon, he had always been fit and healthy and Daniel had always imagined his friend going out in a blaze of glory rather than in a hospital bed.
"I know, Daniel." Sam placed a hand on his shoulder and they both took a few moments looking at the casket, lost in their own thoughts and memories. As the minister came to the end of the casket, Sam moved back to her seat. Daniel began to walk towards the back of the crowd and stand for the ceremony, but Sam grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the seat next to hers.
"Stay by me Daniel... please." She pleaded and he took the chair and sat down, her hand still tightly wrapped around his as though it were a lifeline keeping her from falling into an abyss. He nodded and gave a small, sad smile to Teal'c who occupied the chair on Sam's other side. After the minister began the service, Teal'c rose from his seat and delivered a stirring and mournful eulogy for his friend.
The remainder of the funeral was mostly a blur as Daniel found himself thinking about Jack and how empty he would be without him. While he might not have seen him in person very often the last few years, it was hard to imagine his life without the cranky, sarcastic and utterly loyal friend. He had never had a brother, but Jack may have been closer to him than any real brother ever could have been.
Hours later, Daniel found himself sitting on the Sofa at Sam and Jack's house for the wake. A paper plate of untouched food in his hands as he quietly sat in reverie. He hadn't noticed that most of the guests had left and only a few remained. Mitchell, now Gen. Mitchell and head of the SGC talked with Teal'c while a retired and white-haired Gen. Landry spoke with his daughter, Dr. Carolyn Mitchell, in another corner of the room.
Realizing that he was never going to eat the food on his plate and not wanting to socialize with anyone at the moment, he stood up and walked to the kitchen to toss his plate into the trash. However, upon entering the kitchen, he caught sight of Sam standing alone outside on the back porch, her back to the sliding door. He was torn between going out there or leaving her be, thinking that she might want some time to be by herself. When he saw he head bow down and her shoulders begin to shake he couldn't help himself from opening the door to join her.
Hearing the sliding door open, she turned around and looked at him, tears still falling down her cheeks. Without a word he came up beside her and placed his hand on her back.
"Hey." She sniffed and shivered.
"It's cold out here, you should come inside." She shook her head in refusal and swept her hand around the porch.
"This was his favorite spot, you know. Right out here, beer in hand, burning something on that damn grill of his..." She smiled slightly at the memory before the sadness returned to her features. "Oh, God, Daniel, what am I going to do without him here? It's like I expect him to just pop up again at anytime and tell us this was all just a bad joke or a dream. But it's not going to happen, is it? He's gone for good this time..." Daniel tightened his arm around Sam as she dissolved into another fit of tears, burying her face into his chest and wrapping her arms around him, squeezing him tight as she cried. He smoothed the back of her head as she soaked his shirt with her tears.
"It's gonna be alright Sam." He whispered softly to her. She lifted her tear-stained face up to him, her eyes red and swollen.
"Will it? I have a hard time believing that right now." She rasped and shook her head.
"I know, but it will be again one day." She pulled away from him as he removed his Jacket and wrapped it over her shoulders to protect her from the chilled night air that had descended upon them. Wrapping his arms around her shoulders once again they stood out in the cold darkness, both of them looking out over the railing of the porch, silently watching their breaths turn to steam, each lost in their own thoughts and wondering if the missing pieces of their hearts would ever be filled again.