Heart to Heart
Category: AU Episode Tag/Romance/Drama
Spoilers: Season 8, tag to Reckoning II
Warnings: Character Death
Summary: Sam faces death physically alone, but her loved ones never abandon her as the final battle between her desires and her conscience finally ensues.
Author's Note: My thanks to my betas, Sammie and Laura, and to Amiga, my much appreciated illustrator and friend. If you wish to see the illustration for this story, send me a private e-mail.
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.
Chapter One - Buried
'Carter,' she heard. It was a whisper, her name barely a breath caressing her mind, but it made her open gritty eyes, only to be faced with the thick darkness of her tomb.
'Don't give up, Carter,' he whispered again. She should have known that he would not let her slip away so easily.
"There's nothing I can do," she murmured in the dark. Even if he had really been there with her, he couldn't have heard her.
'Yes, there is. You can refuse to give up. You can hold on,' he insisted.
"I can't," she weakly protested. Even her voice was giving up.
'Yes, you can,' he countered.
'Where are you?' she begged, searching for him in the black shadows.
'I'm right here, Carter. I'm with you. I'm always with you,' he responded, making her smile with relief despite the agonizing pain inside her.
'We won, Jack. We beat them, but I'm dying,' she finally admitted.
'No, you're not. You can't give up. You have to hang on.'
Damn him! Why couldn't he just let her die? It would be so much easier to slip into nothingness and escape the pain. What did it matter? Her mission was complete. She had done what he had counted on her to do. 'Why do you care?'
'I care,' he replied, his voice caressing her mind like a soothing warm breeze in the coldness that surrounded her, and she knew that it was true. He did care despite their ranks, their mission, Pete, despite everything.
'No, you don't,' she, however, countered, hoping that he would contradict her, that he would reveal more. She needed to hear more.
'I care… much more than I'm supposed to,' he said, his tone regretful and grim, just as he had been during the past year. Somber, bitter, and grim. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen him smile, and she missed that. She missed his smile. She missed his bad jokes and his goofiness.
Since he had made General, Jack O'Neill had lost his childish spark. It was rarely if ever seen anymore, and she deeply regretted that more than anything, but it wasn't all her fault.
He had pushed her away. He had decided that she would be happier without him. He had given up on them long ago.
'I heard that before,' she bitterly replied. 'It never changed anything.'
'If you hang on for me, I'll change anything you need me to change. Just… don't leave me,' he begged, making her smile sadly.
'I don't want to leave you,' she admitted, her heart bursting with both sadness and joy, 'but I don't know if I can hang on anymore. I'm sorry!'
'You can. You can hang on for me. Just think of the future. Think of us,' he begged again.
'I'm trying,' she admitted. 'I don't want to leave you. I want that future. I do.'
"I really… do… so much!" she gasped under the pressure of the rocks keeping her immobile.
She did. She wanted a life that included Jack O'Neill. She didn't want to settle for less, and she didn't want to leave him behind. She didn't want to have him mourn for her. She didn't want him to have regrets. She didn't want his bitterness to stay with him forever.
'What about me?' another voice suddenly interrupted, making a cold shiver of guilt run through her like ice water in her veins.
"I'm sorry," she whispered again into the darkness.
'Sorry? You're supposed to be mine. You're supposed to love me,' he protested.
'I do love you,' she replied with remorse, knowing that she had no choice but to hurt him deeply.
'But you love him more,' Pete's voice in her mind stated as if he knew, as if he had always known.
'I've always loved him. He has always come first,' she attempted to explain.
'But you promised you'd marry me,' he challenged.
'I did. I wanted to marry you. I wanted something I could have, someone I could love without guilt and without heartache. But it just isn't enough,' she finally admitted.
"It's not enough!" she cried out in rushed words that only reverberated in the confined space around her head.
"Jack," Sam whispered in the darkness. "Where are you?"
"What the hell is taking so long?!" General Jack O'Neill snarled through the microphone the moment Sergeant Siler and the team of specialists he had quickly gathered rushed into the Gate Room.
"Sorry, sir! We're ready!" the sergeant immediately responded, physically pushing the three men before him as they all mounted the ramp, each heavily loaded with equipment.
"Do you have everything you need?" Jack asked, struggling to keep despair from permeating his words.
"Yes, sir! We already sent most of it ahead," Siler immediately replied, only briefly pausing before the wormhole.
"Go!" Jack then barked, and the team disappeared through the glowing puddle.
As the connection winked out, he just stood there, breathing heavily next to a deadly silent Sergeant Harriman.
"Have we heard from the infirmary?" Jack asked in a controlled, business-like tone.
"Yes, sir. General Carter is still unconscious," the sergeant quickly informed.
"Any more from Teal'c while I was gone?" he tensely asked.
Earlier, he had been forced to go yell at some people in order to get what he needed in a matter of minutes. It had worked, but it might still be too later for Carter.
"Nothing else, sir. More and more Jaffa were contacting Dakara and joining the rebels, last we heard."
Jack sighed. "Well… viva la revolución," he sardonically commented. "Daniel?"
The sergeant regretfully shook his head. "Sorry, sir."
Why did this have to happen now? Why now that they had finally defeated both the Goa'uld and the Replicators? Why did he have to lose them? Was he cursed? Had he always been destined to lose those he loved the most?
His former teammates were all he had left. His real family was gone, dead. His son had been the hardest one to lose. Sarah was no longer family. She had her own now. She didn't even think of him anymore, he was sure, and he only thought of her occasionally.
His family was Cassie, Daniel, Teal'c and Carter. Even Janet was gone. He loved them, especially Carter. He couldn't lose her. He just couldn't!
She was currently buried under what remained of the temple that had contained the controls for the Dakara weapon. The galaxy's salvation had been her doom.
They had heard from the surviving Dakara Jaffa right away after the collapse of the structure, and they had started the search and rescue operation within minutes, but all they had recovered so far were bodies, a few injured Jaffa and, lastly, a barely alive Jacob Carter.
Sam was still there. They knew where she was. They had found her, and they had tried reaching her through her radio, but she had not responded, and Jack knew that she was either dead, unconscious, or her radio was shot to hell. He was praying for the latter.
They had reached a point where they could see her hair, but digging further would result in more rocks falling on her, ultimately killing her, therefore the need for the special equipment and experts to do it safely. They were now on their way.
Jacob Carter was receiving medical attention, and he had Selmak to help him. Daniel was missing, but no one had any idea of where to look for him, and Jack knew that the possibility existed that his friend was dead. Teal'c was busy with the rebel forces and probably didn't even know about his team leader's predicament.
Jack had already debriefed the SGC personnel that had just returned from Dakara. They had been staring at their dusty, booted feet as they had admitted that they had no idea whether Colonel Carter was alive. So, why the hell was he still here?!
"Call Reynolds. Tell him I need him to take over for a few hours," Jack commanded, then he headed for the locker room to gear up.
'Are you sure?' Daniel asked.
Why did he always have to do that? Even when things seemed clear, a logical path set, he would make you question it.
'I can't marry Pete. It's not right' she said.
'Why? You were happy with him. He made you feel good. He made you have fun and laugh,' he reminded her.
'I don't love him enough,' Sam attempted to explain.
'What is enough?' Daniel asked.
'What I feel for Jack is enough,' she simply responded.
'But you still can't have him. He's still your CO,' he argued.
"I know. I know," she whimpered, but no one could hear her. Her radio had been smashed and she had been unable to call for help. She knew that she was doomed.
'So why give up a chance at happiness with a man that adores you? Is it better to have nothing?' Daniel relentlessly demanded.
'I'll still have Jack… even if… even if we can't be together the way we want,' she responded. That would just have to be enough.
'Do you even have any hope left?' Daniel finally and gently asked.
'Yes!' she replied. 'Maybe some day…'
'Okay,' Daniel accepted. She could feel his hand stroking her hair and his warmth enveloping her, keeping away the chill that had been permeating her body. 'I just wanted you to be sure. You do understand that you have to live for hope to exist, right?'
'Yes,' she said. 'I want to live… but,' "Ah!" she cried out; then she gasped as an agony of pain pierced her middle.
'You have to live for him, Sam. Do you have any idea what would happen to him if you died?' Daniel insisted urgently.
Yes, she knew. Jack would suffer. He might be able to deny his desires and be nothing but her commander and friend, but she knew he cared for her. He had just told her. He had begged her not to give up.
'I want to live for him,' she said, but she knew that her life was slipping away.
'Good, because I want you to live for me, too. I'm away right now… visiting… but I'll be back,' he promised.
'Don't go!' she begged, feeling him distance himself and fearful of being alone in the dark again, afraid of the cold.
'I have to leave now. Help is near. Remember that you're never truly alone, Sam.'
"Daniel!" she whispered in desperation, but, again, no one heard.