The refrigerator was empty.
Well, almost empty. A jar with one lone pickle floating in it, a margarine tub containing lord-only-knew-what, and the normal collection of indestructible condiments weren't exactly nothing, but they hardly constituted anything she could possibly consider turning into a meal.
Except for the half-drunk 12 pack of Diet Pepsi. That, and coffee, were pretty much all she'd been living on for the past three months. Ever since the colonel got stuck on that god-forsaken planet.
From out of nowhere, a sudden wave of sadness washed over her, threatening to engulf her. Her eyes burned and every breath seemed forced and shallow. Sam rested her forehead on the cool metal of the freezer door, letting it pass. Because it would, she knew. There was, after all, no logical reason for it. No reason at all she should be sad. Or angry. Or even disappointed.
Colonel O'Neill was back where he belonged. On SG-1. Or he would be, as soon as Janet cleared him for duty. And that was, after all, what Sam had been working on for the last few months. Getting Jack back on the team.
And it was enough, really it was, to imagine sitting next to him again at the conference table, laughing at jokes no one else found amusing. Or driving him half crazy with her endless attempts at scientific explanations they both knew he'd never understand but to which, for some reason, he seemed willing to forever listen.
She hadn't expected anything more. Not even when her despair at the thought of never seeing him again had threatened to overwhelm her and she'd moved heaven and earth and nearly rewritten the laws of physics themselves to get him back; when her world grew dark and grey in his absence and she'd finally had to face what that meant. But she wasn't a love-sick teenager. She'd never deluded herself into believing anything more than the purely professional was possible between them, or that anything could change on his return. So it wasn't that he'd had some sort of relationship with that Laira woman while stuck on Eudora that upset her. Really it wasn't. Or that, for one of the first times she could remember, he hadn't bothered to listen to her explanations even once. Or that he'd neglected to thank her right away for her efforts. It was her job, after all, and he had thanked her later back at the SGC.
Sam was sure things would return to normal eventually.
So she had no idea why, since finding the colonel, she kept feeling this way. Unexpectedly awful. Like a chasm suddenly opening up at her feet. There was no reason. She normally had better control than that.
Still, maybe it was like the day after Christmas - that emotional let-down when what you've been thinking and hoping for with such high expectations can never possibly measure up to reality. And maybe it was the sudden emptiness stretching out in front of her, a lack of purpose now that she'd actually succeeded in the impossible goal she'd set before herself.
She'd probably feel better in the morning..
She just needed a good night's sleep. And something to eat.
Reaching into the still open refrigerator, she pulled out a Diet Pepsi. It wasn't a meal, but for now it would have to do . She wasn't up to finding anything more.
Her doorbell rang, startling her. Because he doorbell never rang. Well, almost never.
She walked to the door and opened it warily.
"Hi, Sam!" 13-year old Cassie stood at the door, her mom standing just behind her.
"Mom thought you might want company. And food," Cassie added almost as an afterthought. It wasn't until then Sam realized Cass held an unopened 12 pack of Diet Pepsi in her hands, and Janet a pizza and… "Is that Merlot?"
Janet nodded. "Yup. And pepperoni and onions."
"I love you both," Sam said, making it sound like a joke even though she meant it. The long dark hours before sleep were suddenly far more bright. "Come in."
She opened the door, letting them move past her into the house. Janet paused as she passed, catching Sam's eye. "You okay?" she asked softly.
Sam smiled at her friend, her first genuine smile in months. "I am now."
Janet returned the smile, clearly relieved. Then, changing her tone, she warned, "Good… because Cass wants Little Mermaid again…"
"Again?" Sam asked, in mock horror.
"Come on, you guys love it!" Cassie called from the living room where she'd already set down the soda and was sticking the movie into the VCR.
Janet and Sam looked at each other and laughed, Cassie joining them in their laughter. Because they really did love the movie. Or at least, they loved watching it with Cassie, which came to the same thing.
And, at that moment, Sam knew everything really would be all right again.