Stairway to Heaven
Based upon Stargate: SG-1
I received a complaint about not mentioning a character death in the summary. I checked the rules and it is not mandatory, so I am informing the readers now as a courtesy. WARNING CHARACTER DEATH. I apologize to those who I upset, it was not my intention.
Set during Season 3, immediately following the events of "Past and Present," (and therefore "Point of View"), and including the events of "Jolinar's Memory," "The Devil You Know," "Foothold," "Pretense," "Urgo," "A Hundred Days," "Shades of Gray," and "New Ground."
- - - - -
Everything that can happen does happen, somewhere, thus creating infinite parallels to the world we know, some very similar, some very different.
- - - - -
"Do you know anything about this?" Major General George Hammond asked, handing a piece of paper across his desk to Colonel Jack O'Neill.
Jack took the page and read it aloud, "I hereby request transfer from SG-1 to SG-6 citing an irresolvable personal matter? Signed, Captain Samantha Carter?" He met Hammond's gaze. "I have no idea what this means. I didn't know there were any problems."
"She turned it into me as soon as you got back from PX3-882, so I assume she had already drafted it. But there is nothing you can think of has come up between Captain Carter and yourself, Doctor Jackson, or Teal'c?"
Jack shook his head. "No. Sir, I have no idea what caused this, but I'll talk to Carter."
Hammond nodded. "Go ahead. If there's a problem, I want to try to solve it before breaking up our flag team. Dismissed."
"Aye, Sir." Jack stood up and left, thinking about what could make Sam want to leave SG-1.
- - -
Jack sat at the briefing table, across from Sam. She had her eyes on the packet of information in front of her, and probably was not listening to Daniel's recount of the cultural misunderstanding that had taken place on PX3-882.
It had been a minor misunderstanding that had turned out to be a major incident. Sam and Teal'c had almost lost an arm because of disrespect towards the elders. However, some quick thinking from Daniel after an emotional outburst from Jack had rectified the situation, and all was well.
Hammond seemed impressed by their quick thinking and ingenuity (from Daniel), but not so much by the threat that the insult of removing an arm of a colleague would lead to massive retaliation (from Jack), thus avoiding mishaps in the future.
The General made brief eye contact with Jack before asking if there was anything else, seeing none he dismissed them, reminding them about their follow-up physicals in the morning.
Everyone stood to leave, following the General's departure.
"Captain, would you mind staying a minute?" Jack asked as Sam made a b-line for the door.
She stopped dead and turned to face him, her face stoic. "Yes, Sir." She made weary eye contact with both Daniel and Teal'c as they walked by her.
Daniel closed the door behind him, sensing the tension in the room, and left Jack and Sam in cold solitude.
"Why'd you request transfer?" he asked bluntly.
She exhaled sharply and shook her head. "Because . . . because I made a decision."
He shook his head and took a few steps towards her. "What the hell kind of answer is that?" His tone softened, "'Irresolvable Personal Matter?' What's going on?"
She shook her head in frustration. "You really have no idea do you? I let something happen, and I can't do my job anymore. From what I can tell, neither can you."
"Me?" he touched his chest and leaned back. "I can't do my job?"
"What do you mean?"
"You almost killed them."
"They were going to cut off your arm!"
"And if they had, and you did, you, me, Teal'c, and Daniel would be dead," she said. "Can you honestly say that if it were me or the team, you would leave me behind?"
His brow furrowed. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"You know exactly what it means."
He couldn't tell if she was angry at him or at herself. "No, I don't think I do."
"If it was my life, or the life of the team, could you leave me behind?"
That was when he saw it. This wasn't really about PX3-882. This was about that other Sam and that other Jack in all those other realities.
"This is about that other you, isn't it?"
She wiped a few tears from her eyes; tears of frustration, he was sure. "I am haunted by a kiss that I didn't experience and a reality that isn't mine.
She paused as the silence between them grew. "You couldn't leave me behind, you wouldn't be able to." She turned to leave. With her hand on the door, ready to slam it behind her, she paused and made eye contact. "And neither would I, and that's why I need a transfer." She shut the door behind her much quieter than he thought she would.
Jack sank down into one of the chairs. He was pretty sure that Sam just told him that she loved him, and that she knew he loved her, too.
He thought about all those other realities out there. If there was one where he and Sam were married and he died, there must be one where he and Sam were married and they both lived. Daniel had been in one where Jack, himself, was a general, and he said he saw another one where Sam was a Major, so who knew what else was out there.
Maybe this was the reality where he and Sam, both Air Force officers, threw regulations to the wind and followed their hearts. But, for cryin' out loud, that sounded corny. It sounded corny in his head and would sound even worse out loud.
He thought about Sam. She was right. He wouldn't let her die, not even if it meant risking Teal'c and Daniel. She was worth it. He loved her.
He thought about that other Sam. He liked the way she felt when he held her. Her kiss had been so sweet — even though she had just been 'Doctor Samantha Carter' at the time, not the woman he was in love with. Or, at the very least, not the woman he realized he was in love with.
He thought about it, thought long and hard.
Corny as it sounded, he was going to go for it.
- - -
Sam sunk down onto her bunk and held her forehead. That had been a lot harder than she had expected. She basically told Jack that she was in love with him and that she knew he felt the same way.
She lifted her head off her hands as she thought she heard flute music. After a moment, she relaxed again, realizing it was just Major Talbot, the officer who's base quarters were to the right of hers, listening to Led Zeppelin, again. The fluid conduits in the walls carried the sound quite well.
She was listening to "Stairway to Heaven," meaning Sam would hear it five or six times in a row before Talbot changed it to something else, probably "Dazed and Confused," or "The Battle of Evermore," or "Kashmir," or any number of Zeppelin classics.
There was a knock at her door. "Come in," she called, looking up at the door.
It slowly opened to reveal Jack. He stood sheepishly in the doorway for a moment.
"Come on in," she offered.
He stepped in, shut the door behind him, and shoved his hands in his pockets, not knowing what else to do with them.
"Didn't get enough passive-aggressive awkwardness earlier?" she asked sarcastically. As soon as she said it, she regretted it. He obviously came to mend the fences, and she shot him down right away. "Sorry, I didn't mean that."
He nodded. "I know. This is just a little weird."
Sam stood, and folded her arms. "Yeah, it is."
"Look, Sam, I want you to stay with SG-1. And it's not just because SG-1 is a really good team. It's because I want you on my team. I'm not going to tell you that your life isn't more important to me than Teal'c's or Daniel's. I'm not going to lie to you.
"I want you on my team because, frankly, I want to be with you and I want to be able to protect you. I know that you're a big girl, and you can take of yourself, but you feel exactly the same way, don't you?"
She smiled, somewhat uncomfortably. He had her pegged. He was right. She didn't really want to leave his team. She wanted to be with him every day and she wanted to be able to keep an eye on him. "Yeah." She shook her head and held her arms out wide. "So what are we going to do?" She let them drop.
He slowly took a few steps toward her, with a smoldering look in his eyes she had never seen before. He put one hand on her hip and barely brushed the side of her face with the other. "I say we go for it," he whispered.
She slung her arms around his neck and closed the slight gap between them. She smiled as their lips touched.
Before she knew what was happening, the moment got the best of them; his hands were tugging on the bottom of her shirt, revealing her stomach.
He pulled back instantly and met her gaze. "If you . . ." he shook his head, suddenly extremely unsure of himself.
"No," she smiled. "It's just that . . . is this the right decision?"
His eyes shifted. "You're right. We need ground rules."
"Don't tell anyone."
He nodded. "Agreed."
"And the team comes first."
"I don't like it either, but the team has to come first."
He nodded. "You're right."
She bit her lower lip. "Okay then." He lifted her up onto his hips and she wrapped her legs around him. She kissed him, following his jaw line up to his ear.
She felt him stiffen. "Is that music I hear?"
She murmured an affirmative. "Led Zeppelin."
"Stairway to Heaven?"
She murmured positive again.
He humphed. "Stairway to Heaven it is," he said before turning his full attention back to her.
- - -
She woke up in Jack's arms and instantly decided that she loved the feeling. For a few seconds she just watched him, sleeping peacefully. The way she felt in that moment told her that they had made the right decision.
She twisted away from him to glance at the clock on the night stand. 0626. She thought she should wake him up, his physical was at 0700.
Sam climbed astride him, straddling his waist. She leaned forward and kissed him.
His eyes remained closed, but she could feel his hands travel up her thighs and come to rest on her waist and lower back, drawing shapes her one skin with his fingers.
"Good morning," he said quietly.
She smiled when he opened his eyes they simply stared at each other. "Morning."
"What time is it?"
He sighed. "I should go, I've got a meeting with Ol' Doc Fraiser at 0700."
She nodded. "I know." She rolled off him and allowed him to get up. "I think I'm going to go back to sleep, I don't have to see her until 0830." She pulled the blanket around her, protecting her bare skin from the morning air.
She watched him collect his things and get dressed. After tying his boots, he sat down on the edge of the bed and kissed her. He ran his fingers through her hair and smiled. "I think we made the right decision."
She bit her lower lip, smiled, and nodded.
"Hey, we're getting the weekend off, I was wondering if you'd want to spend it together."
Sam nodded again. "Yeah, I do."
"Alright." He gave her one more chaste kiss before leaving.
She watched him leave and fell onto her back. This felt right.
- - -
"You asked to see me?" Sam asked as she walked back into the Infirmary at 1100.
Doctor Fraiser looked up from her clipboard. "Sam, take a seat."
Sam sat down on one of the beds and waited.
"Sam, I'm a little worried about some of your tests that came back. You have increased levels of several hormones and neurotransmitters. I wasn't too worried about it, but then I saw similar irregularities in Colonel O'Neill. However, both Daniel and Teal'c were normal.
"Is there anything that you and Colonel O'Neill were exposed to that Daniel and Teal'c weren't?"
Sam's eyes shot wide as she realized what the cause almost certainly was. She looked around, feeling suddenly crowded with only one nurse in the room. "Can, uh, can we have a minute?"
Janet looked around. "Eric, would you go verify our paperwork with the lab?"
Sam watched him nod and leave. "I need this to be off the record."
Janet nodded and put her clipboard down, folding her arms. "Alright."
Sam inhaled deeply. "Could the cause of these . . . elevated neurotransmitters and hormones be . . ." she paused a moment, regretting what she had to say, "sex?"
Janet's jaw dropped and eyebrows vaulted. "Sam did you? . . . Colonel O'Neill? . . . On the mission?"
Sam held up her hands defensively. "No, no, no. Last night."
"Last night?" She froze as she attempted to think of what to say. "On base? What were you thinking?"
"Well it's not like it was planned activity," Sam said defensively. "It was . . . spontaneous."
Janet folded and unfolded her arms, and then shoved her hands in her pockets. She shrugged, and changed her tone from 'doctor' to 'best friend'. "Well, how are things with you and Colonel O'Neill. Is it weird, or is it okay?"
Sam smiled infectiously. "No, things are good. Really good."
Janet clasped one of Sam's hands. "I'm glad."
Sam's smiled faded. "But you can't tell anyone.
Janet shook her head. "No, and I'm not going to. This is way beyond 'Don't ask, don't tell.' My lips are sealed."
"What about the tests?"
She switched back to 'doctor mode' instantly. "Erratic neurotransmitter levels can often be attributed to lack of nourishment. I'll just sign off as it not being a problem."
She smiled. "Oh, no problem. But, in the future, wait until you're off base, or at least until after your physicals."
Sam nodded. "You can count on it."
- - -
Sam sat down across from Jack in the commissary. He had a sub packed with meat. "Protein cravings?" she asked.
He shook his head. "Fraiser said that we were all experiencing some . . . chemical thing because we need to eat some meat."
Sam glanced around. "Janet knows," she said as non-chalantly as she could muster.
"Knows what?" he asked, taking a very large bite.
Sam leaned forward. "About our extracurricular activities." She raised her eyebrows.
"I thought we weren't going to tell anyone?" he asked, putting his sandwich down.
Sam leaned back, defensively. "It's not like I was gossiping with my gal pal."
He shook his head. "I just didn't know you and Fraiser were 'gal pals'. That's all."
"Oh, very funny. I had to tell her because she noted some irregular brain chemistry in our brains," she gestured to the two of them, "not Daniel's and not Teal'c's, if you understand what I'm saying. So, it was either tell Janet, or have her suspend all of us pending a full medical review."
Jack nodded slowly. "You made the right call."
Daniel walked up behind her and sat down. He had an egg salad sandwich. "Did Fraiser mention something to you two about a protein deficiency?"
Sam nodded. "Yeah, weird right?" She took a bite of her egg salad sandwhich.
Daniel nodded. "Jack?"
He looked up, somewhat surprised. "She just told me to go eat some meat."
Daniel nodded again. "That sounds about right."
- - -
Sam entered General Hammond's office.
"Yes, Captain, what can I do for you?" he asked, looking up from his paperwork.
"I would like to withdraw my request for reassignment."
Hammond nodded. "What about 'Irresolvable Personal Matters?'" he asked.
She shook her head. "They weren't as irresolvable as I had originally thought."
He nodded again and picked up a sheet of paper from his desk. "Your request." He then ripped the sheet in half and dropped it in his waste basket.
Sam smiled. "Thank you, Sir."
"Dismissed." She started to leave, but stopped when he called her. "Captain, nothing is unsolvable. If there's a problem, I'd like you to come to me before taking matters into your own hands."
She nodded. "Yes, Sir."
- - -
Jack knocked on the door. He was nervous, but he did not know exactly why. It was just Sam. But, it was their "first date," per say.
She came to the door and opened it, smiling when she saw him. "Hi."
"Hi," he replied, not knowing what else to say.
She stepped to the side, "Come on in."
He walked in and looked around. It was a nice house. Jack stood with his hands in his pockets. "So . . ."
Sam bit her bottom lip. "I'm nervous, too."
He laughed, a little, and opened his arms wide. She stepped into them and he just held her for a few seconds before she leaned back, looking up into his face. He gave her a quick kiss.
"Want to help with dinner?" she asked, gesturing to the kitchen behind her.
"Dinner?" he repeated, releasing her.
"Yeah, I thought we'd eat in." She walked back towards the kitchen and got a beer out of the refrigerator.
He took the beer from her, opened it, and took a sip. "Yeah, that'd be nice."
- - - Corresponding with the events of "Jolinar's Memory"
"Oh God," Sam said with her hand over her mouth and tears in her eyes.
They were aboard the cargo ship on their way to Netu. The Tok'Ra memory device was attached to Sam's temple and all she could see was her father the day her mother died.
Martouf gentle took her shoulders. "Think about the night before Jolinar went on her mission. The night we spent together."
Sam nodded, and thought about Jolinar and Martouf. They were standing on a beach, overlooking a beautiful sunset with some of the most vibrant colors of red and orange she had ever seen.
But it wasn't right. She felt awkward, not comforted. So, she called upon another memory. She thought of the night she and Jack fell asleep on his couch while watching a movie. She couldn't remember what movie they had been trying to watch at the time, but that didn't matter. She felt safe in his arms, tight against his body. He slept all night and did not stir when she turned in his arms, tucking her forehead to his chest.
The memory wiped away the trauma of reliving her mother's death and the odd feeling she felt because of Jolinar's memory of Martouf.
She opened her eyes again, half-expecting to see Jack, but saw Martouf's face instead. She nodded. "I'm alright."
- - - Corresponding with the events of "The Devil You Know"
Sam leaned up against the stone wall, which was a deal warmer than the air, cradling her father's head. He didn't look very good. They were dying, both her father and Selmak, and there was nothing she could do about it.
She looked up and made eye contact with Jack, and for some reason she smiled. Now definitely wasn't the time to smile, but she did anyway. If there was anyone in galaxy who could get them out of this, it would be Jack O'Neill.
She heard the gate clatter, and they all looked up. The thugs had returned. They were coming towards her.
Without word or warning, they grabbed her and ripped her away from her father. He had been conscious enough to steady himself and prevent his head from colliding with the floor violently. They dragged her to her feet and shoved her forward.
"Where are you taking her?" her father asked.
Jack jumped up to block their path.
One of the thugs elbowed him in the chest, sending him careening backwards. She winced as he hit the ground, but kept walking.
She stopped at the gate and turned to see Jack rising to his feet, preparing for a pounce. "Sir, don't. I'll be alright. If not, there's always the Stairway to Heaven." Their eyes met for a single moment, maybe more, and she turned away, continuing out with the thugs.
She realized it had been very vague, but she was sure he knew what she meant. She found it strange, to say the least, that due to a neighbor with loud music 'Stairway to Heaven' meant 'I love you.' But it did, and she knew Jack knew it too.
- - -
Jack helped Jacob get upright. "Are you alright?" he asked, leaning the general against the stone.
"Where are they taking her?"
Jack turned towards the gate which they had taken her through. "The Stairway to Heaven, I think," he said quietly.
- - - Corresponding with the events immediately following "The Devil You Know"
Sam walked along the bank of a half frozen river in Alaska, holding her father's hand. They had decided to take a short vacation together. They had flown up the day before and were going to head back to Colorado the next day.
"Dad?" she asked, breaking the comfortable silence.
"Mmm?" he replied, squeezing her hand.
"I think I should tell you about something."
"About you and Colonel O'Neill?"
She stopped their walking and faced him. "Are we really that transparent?"
He chuckled. "Not to me, it was Selmak who noticed, but Selmak has a great deal more experience seeing through people's façade's than I have."
She smiled. "Well, that's probably true." She ran her fingers through her hair. "I don't know. What do you think?"
"You want to know if I think you're doing the right thing?"
He bowed his head for a second, and his eyes glowed. "Well, Samantha," it was Selmak who spoke, "I know only know of Air Force regulations from your father. I see their importance, but having lived as long as I have, I see their flaws as well.
"I believe you can make your own decisions. You're not an adolescent girl trying to hold on to a crush. You're a grown woman, and a very intelligent one, in a good situation. Though this may sound strange coming from your father's mouth, I was a woman once, and I know how you're feeling right now. There are only a few things that are really important when one is in love.
"If you're really in love, and not lost in infatuation, and if he is a good man and good to you. The rest will sort itself out, and the relationship will either persevere or it will end.
"I do know that Colonel O'Neill is a good man and he is good to you. The rest is your decision." He bowed his head again, and Sam knew her father was back. He shrugged. "Couldn't have said it better myself."
She smiled and hugged him tight. "Thanks, Dad."
- - - Corresponding with the events immediately preceding "Foothold"
It was Sunday night, and it was late. They were sitting on the porch swing on Sam's deck, just looking at the stars.
"That one," Jack said, pointing with the arm that wasn't settled around her shoulder.
"What?" Sam moved her head to try to see which star he was pointing at.
"We've been to that one. P7Z-471. We've been there."
Sam smiled. "Yeah, yeah we have." She looked around the night sky. She pointed to another star. "PR9-811."
For the next several minutes they pointed out the places they had been.
Sam glanced at her watch. "Isn't it time you get home?"
Jack looked at his own, and nodded. "Yeah. I could stay, if you want me to."
She stood up, and took his hand. "No, you can go home. It's alright."
She followed him to the door. He put his coat on and turned back to her. He kissed her once, light and sweet. "See you tomorrow."
She watched him leave and locked the door behind her. She ran her fingers through her hair. Things were so easy with him. There was no pressure, no misunderstanding, no awkwardness.
There were few select people in the world of whom she could have had that conversation with; pointing out places they'd been using the night sky as a map.
None of those people would have made it feel as 'right' as Jack did.
- - - Corresponding with the events immediately following "Foothold"
"How many rounds, Carter?" Jack asked, sitting around a table in the commissary with Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c.
"Four," she admitted.
"Four! Well, I'm glad you don't feel guilty about pumping me full of lead," he replied, glaring at Daniel who attempted to stifle a laugh.
"I wouldn't say four rounds is 'pumping full of lead.' If I would have unloaded the clip, that would have been another story," Sam defended herself.
"Well, I'm glad you restrained yourself."
"Hey, how come you didn't shoot Daniel?"
She shrugged again. "Maybe I like him more than I like you."
"Oh, ha, ha."
- - - Corresponding with the events immediately following "Pretense"
Jack sat on Sam's porch swing with his arm relaxed around her shoulder.
"I remember grabbing my gun from Skaara's hands and all I could think about was Charlie. I didn't want that to happen to him, I didn't want that to happen to any of them. But later, when I needed them, Skaara looked up at me and something about him told me that they knew exactly what was going on.
"They would do anything to save their people. They weren't children, as I had thought. They were young men. Skaara made me believe in them. Because of him, we killed Ra."
Sam squeezed his hand. "He's a strong kid, but then again," she laughed, "he'd have to be to be coupled up with Daniel for a year in a live version of ancient Egypt."
Jack laughed. "The first night we were there, they fed us something. Daniel said it tasted like chicken, and they didn't know what 'chicken' meant so he started making chicken sounds. When I was looking for Daniel later, I asked Skaara. You know, I asked where Daniel was and he didn't understand. I made the glasses sign and he lit up and started making chicken sounds. 'Yeah, yeah, that's right, the chicken man.' Daniel was the chicken man."
- - - Corresponding with the events of "Urgo"
"Come on, let's do something fun," Urgo begged.
Sam looked up from her work. "No!" she snapped. "We're staying right here."
"Well, maybe I'll go play with Colonel O'Neill, or Teal'c, or Daniel."
Sam shrugged. "That's fine with me."
"What was that?" he asked.
Sam looked around. "What was what?"
"That thought you just had: Stairway to Heaven."
Sam dropped her things and stepped up to him, right in his face. "Listen. It's bad enough that you're a figment of my imagination. I will not have you poking around my mind for things that you shouldn't know. Is that understood?"
"Secrets?" he asked excitedly. "I love secrets."
"Is that understood?" she repeated harshly.
Urgo folded his hands and cast his eyes down. "Yes. I'll stay out here where I belong." He was quiet for several minutes. It was a little surprising, actually. However, near the end of those several minutes, Urgo got antsy. "Oh, just tell me what Stairway to Heaven means!" The words almost fell from his mouth.
"Urgo!" she glared at him.
"Right, sorry. Secrets."
- - - Corresponding with the events immediately following "Urgo"
Jack lay on his back with his knees up on the dock at his cabin in Minnesota. Sam leaned against his shins, scribbling in a notebook. The water lapped against the shore and Sam's pencil made a small scratching, but it was silent.
"Don't you find it ironic?" he asked.
"Hmmm?" she responded, not really paying attention.
"Stairway to Heaven."
She turned back to him and smiled. "It's Led Zeppelin, it's not really supposed to make any sense."
He nodded, accepting her joke. "No. I mean," he gestured vaguely to the two of them, "we fight a race of beings whose sole job it is to pretend to be gods and enslave people using a stargate. Stargate? False Gods? Stairway to Heaven?"
She nodded, conceding his point. "Yeah, actually, that is a little ironic."
He placed his baseball cap over his eyes. "Led Zeppelin makes sense. . . to someone."
- - - Corresponding with the events of "A Hundred Days"
"Sir, we need to go, now," Sam said looking from the meteor-stricken sky to Jack.
"I'm going to go find Garan. Carter, get these people to the gate!" he shouted, running the other way. He stopped Daniel, "Where are these caves?"
Daniel pointed him in the direction. "They're over there. You'd better hurry up."
"Alright, I'll meet you on the other side." He shoved Daniel on his way and started running. He stopped abruptly and turned. "Daniel!"
Daniel stopped and turned. "Yeah?!"
Jack thought to himself for a second. "Tell Carter 'Stairway to Heaven,' she'll know what it means!"
Daniel nodded and waved before heading back in the direction of the gate, herding the villagers.
Jack stood for a second or two longer, catching a glimpse of Carter as she crossed over a ridge before heading in the direction of the caves.
- - -
Sam and Teal'c came tumbling through the Stargate at both a high speed and an uncomfortable angle, having dove through the other side to avoid a meteor.
They stood up and watched the wormhole destabilize. "Damn it!" she swore.
Daniel walked up the ramp to them. "Are you alright? Where's Jack?"
She shook her head.
"He was unable to make it back to the stargate in time," Teal'c explained.
"The last meteor hit was right on top of the gate," Sam said. "We won't know anything until tomorrow, when the meteor storm subsides."
Hammond nodded. "If he's alright now, he'll be alright tomorrow. We'll send a MALP in the morning and if things are safe, you can go back on a rescue mission."
"Yes, Sir," Sam replied.
Daniel nodded. "Sam," he turned to her, "I don't know if it means anything now, but Jack told me to tell you 'Stairway to Heaven.' Do you know what that means?"
Sam looked back at deactivated stargate. "Yeah," she nodded. "It means 'I'm right behind you.'"
- - -
He didn't sleep at all. At least, he was pretty sure he didn't sleep at all. Mostly because he wasn't tired. But partially because all he could do was think about all of the things he was never going to be able to see or do again.
He was never going to travel through the stargate again. He was never going to have to suffer through a day in his dress uniform again. He was never going to yell at Mayborne again. He was never going to complain to Dr. Fraiser again.
He was never going to be sarcastic with Hammond again. He was never going to kick alien ass with Teal'c again. He was never going to listen to Daniel prattle on about alien languages again. He was never going to tell Sam to shut up about some space thing again.
He was never going to touch Sam's face again. He was never going to hold her in his arms again. He was never going to fall asleep beside her again. He was never going to . . .
And he was going to mourn that. He was going to mourn it for a very long time, forever if he had to. He didn't want to forget. He didn't want to get over it. He didn't want to get over her.
He watched Laira walk into the room and over to the wash basin. She dabbed some on her face and dried it. She turned and saw that he was wide awake. He could tell she was surprised and maybe a little embarrassed.
"Here," she said, handing him a shirt. "I thought you would like a new work shirt. My husband never wore it. I made it for him just before he died."
"Laira," he tried to interrupt her, not really knowing what to say.
"We have to rebuild before the harvest," she ignored him. "There are so few of us left." She offered a comforting smile.
She sympathized with him; he knew that, but . . . he didn't want to get over it yet.
- - -
"Working through the night again?" Janet asked walking into Sam's lab with a cup of coffee.
"Yeah. There's a lot of work to do." She took the coffee mug. "Thank you."
"Look, Sam, there's no doubt that you're going to solve this. But you have to except the fact that it's going to take time."
Sam shook her head. "Yeah, well if I think that way, it could take months."
"Daniel says that the Tollan could have a ship in the vicinity of Edora sometime early next year."
"He shouldn't have to wait that long."
"Sam, look at me." Sam looked up at her. "Is your relationship a problem?"
Sam shook her head. "No. No, of course not."
Janet nodded. "Okay, night."
- - - Three Months Later
"You left this at home," Laira handed Jack his canteen as he got out of the canoe.
He had been gone all morning, and thought it was slightly unnecessary for her to bring it to him now, but he took it anyway. "Oh, yeah, yeah, thanks."
He could tell she was watching him as they made their way back to the road. "Paynan has invited you to evening supper."
"Why? He doesn't even like me."
She smiled. "He's very grateful for all the help you've given him in rebuilding his home."
Jack attempted to shrug it off. "I just hammered a few nails. Well, actually I made the nails, and then I hammered them. But . . ."
"Still, you've worked very hard. Thank you."
"Anything I can do."
She stopped and turned toward him. "There is something."
He looked down at her. "Yeah? What?"
She laughed lightly and shook her head. "No, it's too soon."
"No, come on. Don't do that."
"You'll know when the time comes."
"I need a little help here. A hint?"
As he had feared, a little, she reached up to him and kissed him.
"Does that help?"
"Listen, Laira, I'm sorry, but. . ." She looked away from him, suddenly embarrassed. "I had someone back on Earth, and . . . I'm not ready to be over her yet."
Laira nodded slowly, and looked back up at him. "Maybe the time will come, but if you're not ready to be over your old life, that's fine. I'll be here when you are ready."
- - -
Sam made eye contact with Jack from a significant distance. They both froze in stride and simply stared. She wanted to run into his arms, but, well, that wasn't the greatest idea. From the intensity in his gaze, she knew he was thinking the exact same thing, and that would have to do, for then.
"Is he alright?" Daniel asked, arriving at Sam's side.
"Yeah," she whispered, finding her voice. "I just don't think he was ever expecting to come home again."
- - - Corresponding with the events immediately following "A Hundred Days"
It was raining outside, which Jack thought was cliché.
He was sure that this scene was in thousands of chick flicks: the star-crossed lovers lying awake listening to the rain after being reunited. If it hadn't felt so great, he would have found it a little nauseating.
"Jack?" Sam spoke quietly.
"Yeah?" He tightened his grip on her, pulling her a little closer.
"I'm glad you're back."
He kissed her forehead. "Me too."
- - - Corresponding with the events of "Shades of Gray"
"Jack, what the hell is going on with you?" Sam shouted, bursting through Jack's front door.
"Hello, Carter, nice to see you too," he said sarcastically, slowly getting up from his couch.
"Don't give me that. What's going on?"
"Oh, I don't know, Carter. Maybe I'm just sick of watching the 'advanced races' not helping us: 'the primitives.' Maybe I'm tired of listening to them talk about us as if we weren't in the room and seemingly having no problem with the possibility of us being wiped out by the Goa'uld."
"I don't believe I'm hearing this. You and I both know that even if they did give us . . . something, the government would never let us use it the way it needed to be used."
Jack scoffed. "Well, that's part of the problem! The government is screwing us over, and no seems to realize it! They want us to find technology but then they won't let us use it how it needs to be used."
"Jack, this is about more than finding technology. You very well may have just ruined anything and everything we've gained from the stargate program."
"Like what? A bunch of 'allies' who won't help us, and a power source we can't put into production because we can't tell anyone where we got it? Yeah, good job with that one, by the way. If we are not protecting this planet by bringing back technology to fight the Goa'uld, we are doing nothing! Do you get that, Carter? 'Cause I don't think you do."
Sam froze for a second. He had called her by her last name three times since she got there, not her first. "This isn't you. What's really going on here?" she asked in a less aggressive tone.
"Maybe you don't know me as well as you think you do." He paused and took a breath. "I think you know what's going on here," he said, equally quiet.
She was taken back, angry, but taken back. "Really? This is it? After five months, this is how things go down?"
Jack scoffed again. "Maybe you should have seen this coming."
She shook her head slowly. "I'm sorry if I thought this extreme breach of protocol meant a little more to you."
"You were wrong!" He turned around, leaving his back to her. "I was on my way out anyway, I had nothing to lose."
Sam literally did not know what to think. Her mind was blank for an instant before being bombarded with a thousand different thoughts. She wanted to beat his face in.
He used her. He used her and she let it happen. Even if something else was going on here, that was a low blow.
Deciding that kicking his ass wouldn't help at all, she turned on her heel and stormed out.
- - -
Jack cringed as Sam slammed the door behind her. "I'm sorry," he whispered. He wanted so much to run after her and apologize, tell her it did mean something. He wanted to tell her what was going on. He wanted to tell her that he loved her, but he knew Mayborne was listening in and if this was going to work, Sam had to be out of the picture.
He realized that he had just ruined possibly the best thing he ever had.
He just hoped it was worth it.
- - - Corresponding with the events immediately following "Shades of Gray"
Sam slammed her door in his face.
"Sam, I came to say I'm sorry!" he shouted through it.
The door swung open a lot faster than he thought it would. "Oh, I know you're sorry!" Sam shouted back. She was livid, so mad that there were tears in her eyes. "That's not what this is about!"
"For cryin' out loud. I get it! I couldn't tell you; that sucks! But that's the way it had to work!"
She forced a cynical laugh. "I know you couldn't tell me. I get that! And I know that you had to put on a little show to nail Mayborne. That's not what this is, Jack!"
"Then what is it about, Sam? Throw me a line here!"
She shook her head. "You just don't get it," she whispered.
"Then tell me!"
"This is about next time, damn it!"
"There's not going to be a next time," he said with certain resolve. He would never let there be a next time, not if this was the result.
"Okay, so not this exact situation, but next time anything happens and we have to keep things to ourselves . . ." She took a deep breath. "I mean, if we had any other job, this would not be a problem."
"What are you saying, Sam?" he asked, afraid to hear the answer.
She pursed her lips. "I think you know what I'm saying," she painfully mirrored his own words to her. "I'm saying we were stupid to ever think that this could work." She stepped back into her house; Jack had been unaware that she had advanced on him. "Goodbye, Jack." She shut the door softly.
He slammed his hand against the closed door, and looked around. Some of the neighbors were standing on their porches, watching him. One of them had a phone in their hand. He knew they were getting ready to call the police.
He took a deep breath and hurried to his truck. He sat inside for a moment, looking at her house, before driving away, not sure of what he was going to do . . . about anything.
- - -
Sam sunk to the floor with her back firmly against the wall. Tears dripped from her eyes, and she didn't even try to wipe them away. She wanted him so much, but, as it turned out, the particular military regulation that had kept them apart for so long turned out to be a good idea in the long run.
She had let their personal life get in the way of their work. She could have blown a sting operation that exposed the enemies of their allies, a mole in their organization, and nailed the NID. For what? A lover's quarrel?
She had let her personal feelings almost ruin interstellar diplomatic relations.
She wasn't going to let it happen again.
She wiped her eyes until she could see straight.
Never again. Captain Samantha Carter was better than that. Captain Samantha Carter was stronger than that. Captain Samantha Carter would move on.
- - - Corresponding with the events of "New Ground"
Jack laid down suppression fire and watched the gate. "Carter, go! I'll get Teal'c!"
He heard her holler an affirmative and sprint towards the gate. When she got through, he asked Nyan to cover him and ran to the shuttle where Teal'c was. He told the Jaffa to go first and covered him. When Teal'c made it through the event horizon, he followed.
He was mere inches from the gate when he was hit. It happened so fast, he barely realized it happened at all. But his back caught fire and time seemed to freeze as he fell towards the gate.
He thought of a lot of things on the way down. He thought about Charlie and Sara. He was going to see Charlie soon.
Then he thought of Sam. He was never going to see her again. This time it was real. She couldn't build a particle emitter to get to wherever he was going; assuming he was going anywhere at all.
He hit the wormhole.
- - -
"Where's Colonel O'Neill?" Hammond asked as Teal'c came through.
"He was right behind me," Teal'c replied.
Sam watched the stargate, willing Jack to run through it.
After a few seconds, no longer, he did come through. However, he did not run through. He fell through, landing on his face. He didn't move, and his back was scorched.
Sam dropped to her knees in front of him and turned him onto his back and searched for a pulse. There was none. Without thinking she tipped his head back and began CPR. She could vaguely hear someone, probably Hammond, call for a medical team.
She counted compressions. That was all she knew. Her heart was pounding in her ears. She couldn't let him die.
She didn't know Janet had arrived until Teal'c pulled her away from Jack and the medical team lifted him onto a stretcher. She watched as they wheeled him away, Janet on top of him performing chest compressions.
Sam leaned into Teal'c, her own legs shaking. Her mind was blank, but for a white light, and she couldn't even think. A tune slowly crept into her mind; it took her a minute to recognize it: 'Stairway to Heaven.'
He couldn't die.
- - -
Janet Fraiser held shuffled through some of the paperwork on her desk. She found the form she was looking for. She filled out the correct information, looked at it for a second and carefully printed three letters on the appropriate line: DOA, Dead On Arrival.
- - -
"Colonel Jonathan 'Jack' O'Neill has been an extremely important part of this command since its conception. He was among the first to travel through the stargate, and among the first to encounter the Goa'uld.
"He was the first to encounter the Asgard, and among the first to meet many of our allies. We all owe him our lives because on more than one occasion he has saved this planet from destruction.
"It gives me great honor, although it pains me, to posthumously award Colonel Jack O'Neill with the distinguished Air Force Cross for extraordinary heroism, exemplified by the safe return of his team and the loss of his own life in the line of duty, while engaged in military operations in the name of the United States of America and the entire planet Earth."
Major General George Hammond looked at the people before him, SGC personal, mostly. However, General Vidrine, Major Davis, and a few other officials from the Pentagon were in attendance as well. He set the medal box down in front of the picture of Colonel O'Neill at the end of the Briefing table.
"Thank you all for coming, please feel free to remain in remembrance of Colonel O'Neill."
The officers and enlisted men before him broke from attention and began to split into groups. He noticed that SG-1 stayed isolated from the rest for a few moments. They all stared at the photo of O'Neill. There was no question that this was hardest on them.
Teal'c was the first to break off, and found his place in a group of marines from SG-3, reminiscing stories of the fallen valiant Colonel.
Doctor Jackson broke of several seconds later, after gently squeezing Captain Carter's shoulder. He joined Doctor Fraiser, Cassandra, Major Davis, and a few others.
Hammond decided it would be a decent time to approach the Captain. "Captain Carter," he spoke, bringing her out of her thoughts. A lesser woman in her situation would be crying, but he knew Carter was stronger than that. "I would like you to stay a few moments after everyone clears out. There are a few things we need to discuss."
She nodded and cleared her throat. "Yes, Sir."
He put his hand on her shoulder. "Go mingle, Sam. Being alone in a room full of people is no way to get through this."
He knew that she sensed the undertone of his statement.
He knew that Jack and Sam were far more than co-working officers. He did not know exactly how long it had been going on, but for a few months, at least. However, he kept it to himself, knowing that he would not make an issue of it until it became a problem.
Recently, he had sensed a rift between the two, but, once again, allowed them to resolve it. Whatever it was did not seem to be affecting their work. He had consulted Doctor Jackson once early on, and again a few days before their mission to P2X-416, but Jackson did not seem concerned. He, too, had noticed the rift, but was confident in both Jack and Sam.
Sam considered him carefully for a minute before getting up and joining Doctors Jackson and Fraiser and their small group.
Hammond, himself, joined General Vidrine and a few of the regular personnel of the base. They were talking about the day that Colonel O'Neill had bought popsicles for the entire base and had them brought in by the case. No one really knew why he did it. When they asked, he simply told them it was because 'Everyone likes popsicles.'
- - -
After about an hour, General Vidrine left, and people started to clear out. They left in groups and once they started leaving only SG-1, or what was left of it, and General Hammond remained after a few minutes.
Janet and Cassandra were some of the last to leave. Janet took Sam aside for a minute. "If you need to call me . . ." she said.
Sam nodded. "Thanks, Janet. But . . . well, we'll see."
Both Janet and Cassandra hugged her and they left together, leaving SG-1 with Hammond.
"As of," he glanced at his watch, "an hour and six minutes ago, you are all on leave. I don't want to see you on this base for three days. No exceptions, no excuses. Is that clear?"
Teal'c, Daniel, and Sam nodded.
"Now, go home, get some rest."
As they left, Hammond spoke again, "Captain, would you remain for a minute, please?"
She closed her eyes, not wanting to hear whatever it was Hammond wanted to say, not yet anyway. However, she turned, making eye contact with Daniel, who offered a small smile. She walked back to the center of the room, near Hammond. "Is this about what's next for SG-1?"
He shook his head. "We can talk about the future of SG-1 when you get back." He picked up Jack's medal box. "I think this should go to you."
She took it, carefully. "Sir?"
He smiled a little. He knew exactly what she was thinking. She thought that the entire base knew and that they had been the talk of Cheyenne Mountain.
"No, Captain. It was only a little apparent to those who know you. I knew, Doctor Jackson knew, and I'm sure Doctor Fraiser and Teal'c, at least, had their suspicions, as well."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
He shrugged. "Because I trusted the both of you to act with a certain amount of professionalism and not let anything interfere with any missions or the lives of your teammates. I was right."
"Thank you, Sir." Not knowing what else to do, she hugged the general and was pleased when he hugged her back.
After a second or so, he released her. "Now," he said gently, "get the hell off my base."
She smiled. "Yes, Sir." She walked slowly out of the briefing room and towards the elevator to the surface. She wasn't going to stop by her lab, or anywhere. She was just going to go home. She thought about getting home, getting out some ice cream, and doing nothing for a few hours before going to bed.
Tomorrow, she would go over to Jack's house and start clearing things out. That was going to be hard. But she knew that she was the only one who could do it. Even considering everything that had happened, she knew that Jack would have wanted her to take care of things.
- - -
Janet came over on Sam's last night of leave. She brought a pizza. "I thought you might want talk," she said.
Sam invited her in and offered her a drink.
"What have you been up to?" Janet asked, getting out a pair of plates.
Sam shook her head. "Remembering, trying to not remember . . . I cleaned out a lot of his house yesterday and the day before."
"How was that?"
Sam sighed. "Hard." She took a bite of pizza.
Then Sam started to cry. Not just sob, but cry so hard she couldn't breathe. It was obvious to Janet that this was the first time that she had really cried.
She put her arm around Sam, trying to comfort her. "It'll be okay."
"You don't understand," she choked out. She jumped up, away from her and paced.
"We had a fight!" she shouted.
Janet could tell that Sam was very conflicted. She wanted to be sad, but couldn't help but feel angry. She was angry at Jack, for dying, for leaving. But, Janet knew, she was angry at herself for being angry at him.
"Damn it! We had a fight, Janet! The last time we went through that stargate I was so angry at him. The last thing I said to him off base was 'goodbye.' And not the good kind; the 'get the hell out of my life' kind. The last two private conversations we had were fights! I never told him . . ." Over come by tears again, she tried to breathe.
Janet stood and approached her slowly, putting a hand on her shoulder. "Jack loved you. You said yourself that he would give his life for you. A couple of fights doesn't change those kinds of feelings, Sam."
Sam dropped her hands to her sides. "I just wish . . ."
Janet wrapped her arms around her. "I know."
- - - Two Weeks Later
Daniel walked into Sam's lab to find her absent-mindedly examining the artifact SG-8 had brought back from PLZ-292.
"Hey," he said to alert her to his presence. She had been like this since Jack's death. She was there, but he knew things had not exactly ended well between them and she hadn't recovered from that.
She looked up. "Hey, Daniel."
She sounded tired, as she had since Jack's death. He suspected she wasn't sleeping well. He had to admit that he didn't sleep all that well after Sha're's death, and she had communicated with him before dying.
"I brought you something," he handed her a small, wrapped package.
She faked a smile. "I do love presents." She unwrapped it, and looked up at him questioningly. "Led Zeppelin?"
He smiled. "'Stairway to Heaven' is track 13." She didn't ask how he knew, but her eyes did. "I'm an archeologist. I find meaning in things that seemingly don't have any." A small laugh escaped his throat, "I know that sometimes words have two meanings."
She smiled with him, recognizing his quote from the song.
"Sam, I know how you're feeling right now. But it gets easier. It never really goes away — at least it hasn't for me, not yet. Right now you're choosing to be like this, and I chose that way for a long time, too. But," he chuckled again, "there's still time to change the road you're on."
She stood up and hugged him. "Thanks, Daniel."
He felt that he did what he needed to do. "I've got some work to do. I'm gonna go."
She nodded. "Alright. Dinner? I was going to ask Teal'c, too."
He smiled. That was certainly an improvement. "Yeah. That'd be nice." He turned around and left, knowing that Sam was going to find her path, and she wasn't going to mourn Jack for the rest of her life.
- - -
After Daniel left, Sam looked at the CD in her hands. Smiling her herself, she hummed a few bars of the tune. She wasn't going to let herself get lost in Jack's death. She was stronger than that. She would find another Stairway without him.
Led Zeppelin said that stairway lie on the whispering wind, but for her, for the newly promoted Major Samantha Carter, it lay in the stargate and whatever stairways were behind it.
- - - Fin - - -