A/N: A big thank you to spacegypsy1for betaing and suggestions and basically for putting up with me. :) Thanks B!
Their final trip as a team. Well, sure they'd see each other… sometimes, but it seemed more like a distant possibility that would never come true.
They arrived last night, all four of them tried to keep the atmosphere light and cheerful and for the first time since they'd been together it felt awkward. Too many things left unsaid.
Daniel's ascension had taken a toll on his friends. No one admitted it but all of them had been afraid he wouldn't be coming back, especially since the war was finally over. No more Goa'uld. No more fighting the good fight and no more excuses… in more ways than one.
But Daniel did come back as Jack said he would. Teal'c had silently supported the notion throughout Daniel's 'disappearance.' However, Sam had been unable to shake the feeling of betrayal for wanting to mourn him so soon. She should have known better, she said to herself watching through the window of General's cabin. Daniel always came back, one way or another.
Golden rays of sun made its first appearance almost as if hearing her thoughts, illuminating the truth she's been denying for so long.
The rest wouldn't be up at this hour regardless of their training, Sam knew. The General and Daniel always liked to sleep in when there's not an intergalactic emergency and Teal'c preferred some time for sorting through his thoughts being on vacation or not. That's why the sound behind has startled her.
"Hey," Daniel murmured rubbing his eyes.
"Hey," she responded softly returning to look through the window. She couldn't see him, but from the sounds Sam knew he was looking for a clean cup in which to pour the coffee. "First cabinet from the door."
"Oh thanks," rattling and clanking of cups continued uninterrupted. Not a lot of people knew that Daniel had some sort of a fetish when it came to coffee cups. He needed it be the perfect size and shape. Sam long ago figured it out - because she felt the same need for symmetry while drinking coffee.
After a moment Daniel joined her watching the sunrise. "It's beautiful," he said. "I think we've forgotten to appreciate the simple things like this," his coffee came dangerously to spilling as he pointed through the window with his ideal cup.
Sam smiled at the uniqueness of Daniel, giving him a sideway glance. "I think you're right."
Several moments passed in which neither had peace. Too many things left unsaid.
"How are you feeling?" Daniel asked for the hundredth time in the period of two days.
"I… My best friend died, ascended," she made a hand gesture through the air as if saying 'whatever,' "then my father died, I broke up with my fiancé, called off my wedding, and of course there's my inappropriate love for my CO who has a life of his own, and I nearly made a fool out of myself confessing that love in his backyard, in front of his new girlfriend, I might add, I'm so angry at my dad for leaving, and for being wrong because I can't have everything. I can't have anything," she proclaimed in a flat tone. "But at least you came back," her tone took on a softer note. At least there was that.
For the longest time the only thing that could be heard was the creaking of the wooden floor somewhere in the house.
Eventually Daniel faced her with an amused expression. "You knew Jack was listening just now didn't you," it wasn't a question.
Sam finally turned her back to the sun that had set out on its journey across the sky. "He would never let me say those things. The General thinks he's doing what's best for me, but he doesn't understand that he's what I need the most," she paused, "or he doesn't want to understand."
"It's never easy with the two of you…"
"It could be," Sam smiled sadly, then nudging him playfully, "come on, we've got some fishing to do."
For some time she tried to understand, but the thought of being free felt so distant, another lifetime ago. After so many years, hopes destroyed, even attempts to overcome the thought of always being trapped have failed. And yet, here he was, demanding her freedom
She took the transfer to Area 51 as soon as she found out the General would be leaving. For some reason, she thought that was it. Their final goodbye to a promise they'd never fulfill. So she took everything that was dear to her and could fit in a box, packed it up and went to discover the wonderful world of Research and Development. For years she wished to go there, to dig in, discover what exactly every one of those interesting objects did… then she arrived, and the world that opened up to her was, in the words of many, fascinating.
Except it proved to be, as the General would say, boring.
The theorizing, calculating and simulations were satisfactory, it was after all, the place to be if you're remotely interested in science, never mind if you happen to be the leading expert in your field, but for some reason it never was enough. She new why she felt incomplete… or thought she knew. Sam couldn't remember the time when she was absolutely sure of something any more.
Her father her father was gone, Daniel had prepared to leave for another Galaxy at the time, Teal'c returned to his home, and the General left for… for another job. It seemed only right for Sam to leave as well. She ended up being alone, more than that… lonely.
The moment he turned up at the door, her hopes sprung and flew, only to be crushed by her own reasoning. No. That's the only answer for her sorrowful soul. No. It never could, and it never would be.
The General stood motionless, watching her worry her lip, nervously inviting him in, masking her features into a friendly charade of welcome. That's not what he wanted. Not anymore. Never again.
Jack handed her the papers, marking the moment with more than a visit to a friend. With hope.
He cursed himself for not being at her door sooner, for not going passed the fear of hurt, of the past. Finally, recognizing the final moment, he did it. The past, the fear, the beast of his inner self would torture him no more, because in the end she had won out.
She would be re-called to the SGC, it was only a question of time, and when she went back, there would be no more chances. No more strength. The final moment has arrived.
Sam didn't even realize she'd been crying until she felt his hand on her cheek, brushing the treacherous reaction that felt so good. The tears of happiness, leaning into the hand that's finally found its place in the world. She looked up at him finding the crooked smile on his face and couldn't resist giving one of her own.
"So, I just sign…" she whispered afraid to break the moment, afraid that the paper really isn't what it represented.
Jack nodded slowly, confirming what Sam didn't feel had the right to hope for anymore. "And you're retired."
That's all she needed to know.
"Jack, Jack, Jack! She practically invented the Mark 9 and you're the one who thinks we should use the damn thing! Why are you wasting valuable time saying no…" General Landry knew the reason of course, but they needed Samantha Carter on the first lines and damn him if he's not going to get her there. "I've read enough of your SG-1 mission reports to know there were times when no one else but Samantha Carter could've pulled your ass out of a fire!" The newly retired Colonel was necessary at the SGC, much as the previous years, and Landry knew she'd be back, so why did he argue with his old friend? "Well this is one of those tim…" he turned to see the much talked about woman at his doors, and to his surprise, in her uniform.
"Reporting as ordered sir," she said with a little smile at Landry's gold fish expression.
"She's standing right there isn't she," Jack chuckled.
"Yeah, she's standing right here."
"The President recalled her to active duty; did I forget to tell you that?" General O'Neill faked innocence.
"You're a funny man Jack, veeery funny."