Stargate SG1 is somebody else's, probably MGM/Gekko Corp/Sci-fi, and I freely admit that whoever's it is, I'm borrowing their show and they retain all rights, etc
Author's Note: I've wanted to write a tribute fic in memory of Don S Davis's wonderful General Hammond since Don passed away in June last year. I firmly believe that Don was a vital part of the show and a vital reason for its success. His work has brought me hours of enjoyment and still does. I hope this in some small way says a belated 'thank you' for that.
This has Sam/Jack in terms of pairing but it's not the focus of the fic. Spoilers for SG1/SGA's S5. Major character death.
The Unsung Hero
Jack O'Neill tried hard to ignore the sensation that he'd just made a huge mistake. The new stars on his shoulder seemed like a weight of responsibility, one that he had no right to bear. Instead, he smiled at Samantha Carter as SG1 followed him into his new office. She smiled back at him nervously but her blue eyes were filled with pride that made Jack unaccountably happy.
'So how does it feel to be the Man?' Daniel Jackson asked, waggling his eyebrows.
'Weird.' Jack admitted, wondering how strange it was that he was the one in charge. He glanced around the stripped office and repressed the urge to shiver at the bare walls. He really had to get some photos.
'You deserve it, sir.' Sam said firmly, evidently picking up on his own vague feeling of being undeserving. His eyes glanced at her insignia and wondered if she felt the same about her promotion.
'As do you, Carter.' Jack said sincerely. She definitely deserved it.
'Indeed.' Teal'c added with his usual succinctness.
The phone rang and Jack ignored it, content to be with his team. Footsteps pounded up the metal staircase a moment later and crossed to the open office door.
'Sorry, General,' Walter began – and it took far longer than Jack would ever admit to realise the Sergeant was talking to him – 'but General Hammond is on line one for you.'
'We'll leave you to it, sir.' Sam said diplomatically. She ushered the other two from the room and Jack found himself suddenly alone in the stark room.
He grimaced, repressing the urge to follow his team. He looked at the leather chair on the other side of the desk with foreboding and picked up the phone. 'General.'
'General O'Neill.' General Hammond's voice eased Jack's nerves with its calm and familiar authority. 'I'm just calling to offer my congratulations.'
'Thank you, sir.' Jack waited a beat. 'Are you sure you haven't changed your mind? Because you know if you have, I'd be happy to give it up for you. Well, maybe not the parking space but if you want to come back and...'
Hammond cut in with a short laugh before Jack could get to the part where he babbled he just couldn't do it; couldn't send his old team through the Stargate without him; couldn't make the hundred-and-one decisions that the base commander needed to make every day; couldn't lead the SGC the way Hammond had done...
'You're going to be fine.' Hammond said, stopping Jack's internal monologue. 'You're a natural leader, son, and there's not another man on this Earth that I'd want leading the SGC.'
Jack lowered his gaze to the scarred desk surface; traced an old groove. If Carter's pride had filled him with happiness then Hammond's filled him with the pleased awe. He respected the hell out of his old CO and he couldn't deny Hammond's belief in him helped ease the fear crowding his throat.
'Thank you, sir.' Jack said quietly.
'Call me George.' Hammond said cheerfully. 'I'll call you tomorrow to talk shop. Congratulations.'
'To you too, sir.' Jack lowered the receiver back into the cradle. He looked back around the room with its bare wall again and back at the leather chair. He made a face and slowly moved until he stood in front of it.
If Hammond thought he could do this...maybe he could.
Jack sat down.
Jack checked his watch as he finished dressing. His working office in Homeworld Security was a small room in the basement of the corner of the Pentagon. It was even more of a fishbowl than his old office at the SGC but he liked it. The communications hub of his command was right outside and, squirreled away into the basement, it was unlikely he would be disturbed by politicians and other senior military figures. It also meant he could wear his BDUs and be comfortable instead of prancing around in his suit.
He did have an official office upstairs to receive visitors, take meetings with the Joint Chiefs and generally do the things that a two-star General was supposed to do – such as kiss ass and fight dirty for the piece of the political pie that he had the responsibility of looking after. Upstairs meant the suit which was why he was dressing.
He swore. He had five minutes or he'd be late for General Lassiter. The man was an idiot but he was an idiot with four stars and he had command authority in regards to Area 51. Jack grumbled under his breath as he adjusted his tie and left his small locker room, heading back into his office to pick up the relevant report. He knew he should have insisted on a secret elevator between his offices. That would have been cool. Or maybe an Asgard transporter. Maybe he could convince Carter to install one at the weekend when she was back from her mission with SG1...
'General?' Major Paul Davis rapped on the door.
'I know, I'm late.' Jack said shortly, trying to find where he'd shoved his glasses.
'That isn't it, sir.' Paul closed the door.
Jack looked up, alerted by the tone of Davis' voice. 'What?' Not Sam, Jack thought anxiously, reading the grief in the younger man's expression; not Sam...not SG1...not...
Paul clasped his hands behind his back. 'I regret to inform you, sir, that General Hammond passed away this morning at his home in Colorado Springs.'
Jack heard the words but he could barely make sense of them.
It didn't compute. He'd talked to him the day before; George had been in good spirits, happy, enjoying his retirement. 'How?' He demanded as he sat down heavily.
'They think it was his heart, sir.' Paul said gruffly.
Jack caught the sheen of tears as Paul lowered his gaze and he was reminded that Paul had worked with Hammond for a long time too. There was an unnatural silence in the room as both men worked to process the news.
'You'll need to inform the President, sir.' Paul said finally.
'Right.' Jack nodded. 'I want to talk with Susan too.' He said; Hammond's daughter would be devastated at the loss of her father...and, God: Sam. She was going to be distraught. Hammond had been like a second father to her. 'The Apollo is to stay in orbit until further notice.' He said, already thinking ahead to his trip. 'Cancel the rest of my day; I'll be transporting to the SGC to inform them as soon as I've informed the President.'
'Sir.' Paul turned for the door.
'Paul.' Jack gestured at him. 'I'm going to need you in Colorado with me. Hammond wanted a military funeral and Susan will need someone to help her with that.'
'I'd be honoured, sir.' Paul said. He gave a sharp nod and left.
Jack stared into space. He'd known Hammond had heart trouble – it had been the reason the other man had retired but it still didn't seem real.
It didn't seem real at all.
'You're working late, Lieutenant.' Hammond's easy Texan drawl had Sam spinning around from her cramped lab.
She smiled at her CO. She always appreciated that he made an effort not to acknowledge their personal relationship at work. It was bad enough being a General's daughter without it being known her CO was a good friend of her father's to boot. 'I wanted to run another simulation, sir.' She glanced at the clock and winced. 'I guess I lost track of time.'
A smile graced Hammond's round face as he walked in to stand beside her and looked over her work. 'Solar flares?'
'Yes,' Sam felt the same bubble of excitement that she'd had when she'd had the idea earlier that day, 'I think a solar flare may draw an active wormhole closer to the sun, and create a slingshot effect that will allow time-travel.'
'Sounds promising.' Hammond agreed.
'Well, it's all theoretical at the moment, sir.' Sam cautioned. 'There's no way of testing it out in practice.' There was a hint of bitterness she tried to hide but when Hammond looked at her sharply she knew she'd failed. She averted her gaze from his compassionate blue eyes. Really, Sam reminded herself, she was lucky to still be working on the Stargate even if it was to try and find alternate uses for it.
'You were too valuable to risk on the Abydos mission, Sam.' Hammond reminded her. 'We had no way of knowing if Colonel O'Neill and his team would ever make it back.'
'I know that, sir.' Sam tried a smile. 'It's just...' she sighed, 'I really wanted to go.' She hated that she sounded like a whining child but with the programme all but shut down the likelihood of her ever stepping into the event horizon seemed remote.
'I'm certain your time will come.' Hammond said firmly.
There was something about the quiet authority with which he spoke that almost made her believe it. She nodded briskly.
'But not tonight.' Hammond continued. He tapped her desk. 'Pack it up, Lieutenant.'
'Yes, sir.' Sam watched him leave and began to shut down the computer. Maybe he was right; maybe she would get her chance one day...
Sam couldn't quite shift the feeling that something was wrong.
It was a nagging sensation that had tingled up and down her spine when she had woken before settling into her gut for the rest of the day. She'd tried to dismiss it – she wasn't given to flights of fancy or deep intuition – but it wouldn't go away. The rest of SG1 had noted her discomfort over their brief lunch but she had waved their concerns away.
The problem was, Sam mused, as she regarded the Ancient console in front of her, that she couldn't pinpoint the source of her unease.
Maybe it was being back with SG1.
She wasn't really an official member of the team anymore having left the previous year to take up a command position on Atlantis. She had arrived back some months before and had been on a series of temporary assignments while waiting for the latest F304, The Phoenix, to be completed so she could assume command. Quite a few of her temporary duty assignments had been like the one she was currently on: helping SG1 investigate alien technology on a mission.
There was no doubt her old team-mates had settled into a new pattern without Sam on the team; she could see it in the way they worked to set-up camp, hear it in the casual banter that included jokey references to events she'd had no part of, feel it in the comfortable silences that punctuated their interactions. She should feel left out.
Only she didn't.
Sam was enjoying watching them. Cameron Mitchell had grown into his team leader role and he seemed much more at ease – quietly organising and focusing the team without overtly issuing commands and orders. Vala Mal Doran had also carved out her own niche as the one most likely to think outside the box and bring a sense of whimsy to the team. Yet it was also clear that Vala took her responsibilities seriously in a way that she hadn't when she'd first joined; she listened and patrolled without the boredom that would have once made her restless.
Teal'c and Daniel remained very much as they always had done but her original team-mates seemed more at peace than ever. The end of the Ori war had enabled Daniel to return to more intellectual pursuits; he seemed happy poring over the Ancient writing in the ruins they had found, examining the artefacts with a renewed reverence. Equally, Teal'c no longer seemed conflicted between the Tau'ri and the Jaffa; he knew he belonged to both and accepted that.
It was good to see them functioning as a team. In truth she'd felt a little guilty leaving them for Atlantis, for moving on without them. Her career had needed it; she had needed it but it had felt a lot like leaving them behind. She wondered if Jack had felt the same way when he had left the SGC.
Of course, back in the old days, Jack and her feelings for him might have been the reason for her unease. But they were married and while their respective working relationships provided some challenge to them spending time together, Sam was the happiest she had ever been in her personal life. She had someone she loved who loved her right back.
No, Jack was not the source of her unease.
Neither was the mission. It was fairly straightforward. The planet was unusually beautiful; a rich lush green broken only by the bright primary colours of fragrant flowers and deep blue pools of cold crystal water. The MALP had shown the crumbled sandstone ruins of the Ancient building and SG1 had been deployed to investigate. They had established the planet had been long abandoned; there was no sign of any recent inhabitation, and the local wildlife was fairly harmless. The sky was a clear blue; the sun warm and strong on their faces. There was nothing that prompted worry.
All of which didn't explain the anxiety chewing inside her, Sam concluded with a huff of frustration.
'Check in time.' Mitchell declared loudly.
Sam got to her feet and brushed off the dirt from her BDU. She ambled over to join the rest of the team in front of the MALP as Vala dialled the DHD.
Their radios crackled and the video feed on the monitor the MALP carried sprang into life. Sam gave a start as Jack came into view next to General Landry. She hadn't been expecting to see him at the SGC. The dread she'd carried all morning churned in her gut.
'SG1.' Landry said briskly before any of them could speak. 'You're being recalled. You need to return to the SGC ASAP.'
They all exchanged identical looks of bemusement and worry.
Sam looked at Jack's solemn expression; his guarded eyes.
And she knew.
'Who?' She blurted out without thinking.
Jack looked through the camera at her. He hesitated and she felt panic begin to crowd in on her. Not Cassie...not Cassie...please, God; not Cassie...
'It's George Hammond, Carter.' Jack said sadly. 'He died of a heart attack this morning.'
She turned away as though she'd taken a blow; turned away to hide the tears that filled her eyes and the pain in her chest that stole her breath. She felt Teal'c's hand on her shoulder.
'We're on our way, sirs.' Mitchell signed off and Sam heard the wormhole disappearing behind her.
She moved, slipping away from her team-mates and shoving her grief down inside her. 'We should pack up.'
Later, she wouldn't remember dismantling the camp; stowing the equipment; ensuring their work was properly saved and recorded for someone else to finish.
She stepped onto the ramp to the unnatural quiet of the gate room; to a command in mourning. Walter looked shattered; Siler's face the same. Sam nodded at Jack in shared acknowledgement of grief and loss, and hated the protocol and discretion that prevented her from doing anything more.
She walked through the silent corridors to the infirmary for the post-mission checks with Jack beside her; his hand brushing hers in quiet support. Carolyn Lam ushered them into a private room, and Sam vaguely heard Mitchell tell Vala to give the rest of SG1 a moment.
The door closed.
The first sob tore through her and caught her by surprise; Sam raised a hand to cover her face and felt Jack surround her. His arms went around her, pulling her into the warmth of his body; his hand clasped the back of her neck and pulled her closer and she felt his breath at her neck; his face pressed into the side of hers. She reached for him and held on tightly as she cried.
Daniel moved to rub her shoulder and she felt Jack shift, an arm lifting from her to pull Daniel into their embrace. She felt Daniel move to sandwich her in between them; felt his body shaking with quiet tears and realised why Jack had reached out to comfort him too.
Teal'c moved to complete them; his strong arms encircled them all. And SG1 stood together and grieved.
The top of the mountain was Teal'c's favourite place to think; to simply be. He ignored the cold seeping into his clothes; ignored the wind that brushed over his exposed face and arms. He turned his face up to the last of the sun's rays and focused on the light.
His shame washed over him again. He had allowed himself to be brain-washed by Apophis; to be broken. He had acted with dishonour and betrayed his friends. He was unworthy...
He tilted his head suddenly towards a sound behind. Someone was approaching. They were walking normally without stealth and he relaxed as he recognised the gait of General Hammond. He watched as the SGC commander stopped in the clearing beside him.
'Thought I might find you up here, Teal'c.' Hammond said, taking a deep breath of cold air.
Teal'c held his tongue. He feared he knew why Hammond had looked for him; the General would no doubt banish him from the Tau'ri for his disgrace. Teal'c lowered his head.
'I like coming up here on occasion.' Hammond mused out loud. 'Remind myself why we're doing this.'
Teal'c looked around at the vibrant green of the trees; the pale lilac of the evening twilight. It was a beautiful world. Not perhaps as beautiful as Chulak but it was beautiful. He got to his feet, straightened, placed his hands behind his back, and faced the General. 'I have lost your trust. I will leave whenever you wish it, General Hammond.'
'That's going to be some time on this side of never, Teal'c.'
Teal'c stared at him, unable to suppress the surprise flickering through him.
Hammond pursed his lips and gestured at him. 'You think you're the only one who's ever been broken, Teal'c?'
Teal'c saw old pains, old memories flicker through Hammond's eyes; a knowing that had Teal'c wondering at what had happened to Hammond.
'Anyone of us can break.' Hammond continued. He placed a hand on Teal'c's shoulder. 'It's how we put ourselves back together again that matters.' He made to move away and stopped again. 'For what it's worth, Teal'c; you haven't lost my trust.'
Teal'c stood silently as Hammond left him alone again. Teal'c watched as the sun disappeared into the horizon. Peace stole over him with the darkness. He would rebuild what he had lost; he would recover his honour. And he would make himself worthy again of the trust General Hammond placed in him.
Teal'c took his place in the pew and looked at the coffin draped in the American flag positioned at the front of the small church. A large picture of General Hammond was positioned to the right, framed by white roses and green foliage.
Hammond's family and personal friends took up the other side of the aisle – his daughter supported by her husband and children in the front pews and the others filled with an assortment of cousins, nieces and nephews; some married, some not; some whose children squirmed in formal clothing sitting beside them on the uncomfortable wooden benches. Their side of the aisle held a host of people Teal'c had never realised existed in General Hammond's world but they were an embodiment of why the General had fought against the Goa'uld; why the fight had been so important to him.
Daniel Jackson shifted beside him and drew Teal'c's attention back to their own side of the vast church. It was filled with the personnel of the Stargate programme, important dignitaries and allies. The President himself sat in the front pew with the Joint Chiefs, General Landry and the Secretary of Defence. Behind him were pews of IOA officials and a couple of senior politicians from Congress who knew of the Stargate. They were less represented than if the funeral had been held in Washington but Hammond's wishes had been clear: he wanted to be buried alongside his beloved wife, Eleanor, in Colorado.
SG1 filled the first pew of ordinary rank and file who wished to pay their respects. O'Neill had refused in his words to allow protocol to dictate where he sat at a friend's funeral. Teal'c appreciated the other man's presence. O'Neill stood at the end of the aisle in preparation for when he would be called to make the eulogy. Samantha Carter stood beside him and, although neither touched the other as both were in uniform, they both turned frequently to the other exchanging looks of support and understanding. Daniel Jackson stood beside Sam, Teal'c beside him. Vala Mal Doran stood next to Teal'c on his other side alongside Cameron Mitchell. Behind them, uniforms and suits of the men and women who served in the SGC filled row after row.
The Reverend took his position and the service began. Teal'c allowed the solemn atmosphere to soak into his skin; allowed himself to remember the man; to remember his friend as the Reverend spoke of Hammond's love for his family, for his wife.
The President rose to give a reading; a poem of fathers and daughters which had Susan Hammond burying her face in her husband's shoulder; her daughter clutching her worriedly. O'Neill shifted; a glance at his wife beside him. Samantha Carter looked back at him with a watery smile. O'Neill moved imperceptibly closer as Daniel took her hand. The service was bound to bring back memories of the loss of Jacob Carter, Teal'c mused, as he passed along his handkerchief for Samantha to use. There had been a similar dance at his funeral.
The sound of the hymn filling the church filled Teal'c with sadness. He didn't know the words and didn't feel the urge as Daniel Jackson or Vala Mal Doran to sing along. He focused on the melody and its haunting tone and soaring notes; its lyrics of redemption and grace.
The music finished and O'Neill walked to the lectern. He was an impressive sight. His blue Air Force uniform added an air of gravitas. He stood for a moment, his eyes landing warmly on Hammond's daughter and his grand-daughters before shifting back to SG1.
'For George Hammond nothing was more important to him than family. It was what he lived for; what he fought for; what he believed in. I remember once reporting in to tell him that there was a situation and saying 'you should hit 1 on your speed dial, General,' meaning, of course that he should call the President.'
O'Neill paused and turned his gaze back to Susan. 'He looked at me confused and replied; 'why would I need to call my grand-daughters?' That was how important family was to him; it was first, number one, more important than the President.' He glanced across the aisle. 'Sorry to break that to you, Mr President.'
There was a ripple of humour around the church.
Hayes waved a hand at O'Neill and Teal'c caught a glimpse of a smile on Hayes' face as the President turned to the man sitting beside him to whisper some comment.
'But I'm not really here to talk about George Hammond so much as I've been asked to talk about General Hammond.' O'Neill stopped again. 'Of course given the confidential nature of the work we are involved in, needless to say there's more I can't tell you than I can.' His eyes drifted back to SG1. 'For instance, I can't tell you that General Hammond was responsible for building the frontline command that keeps our planet safe.'
'Oh boy.' Samantha Carter muttered under her breath.
'Indeed,' murmured Teal'c, wondering how far the other man would push the boundaries of the secrecy in which they worked.
'I can't tell you that it was General George Hammond that led that command from its inception nor that even when he left it, he continued to ensure the men and women there always had the resources they needed; always had the support they needed to do the most unique job on this planet.' O'Neill continued.
'I can't tell you that many of the decisions he made saved not just the lives of those who served under his command but saved the lives of everyone on Earth. I can't tell you that General George Hammond was the unsung hero behind every mission and every victory that his command achieved because it was his command. Because it adhered to the values of loyalty, of integrity; of honour and duty that General Hammond embodied every day.'
O'Neill wet his lips. 'I can't tell you any of that.' He moved, shifting his weight and adjusting his stance as his gaze moved back to Susan.
'I can tell you this: we say goodbye today to a General who was more than respected; who was liked. His was the steadiest of hands, the coolest of heads. He trusted his people and we trusted him absolutely in return.' O'Neill looked up at the gathering; eyes bright and hard with emotion. 'I can tell you that when I think of a leader, a great leader, I think of General Hammond.'
He left the lectern and turned sharply at the side of the coffin. He saluted.
Without a single word, the men and women of the SGC stood as one and followed O'Neill in salute.
Teal'c bowed his head; his fist against his heart.
Daniel stared at the room the guy called Jack had left him in and wandered around aimlessly. His clothes felt uncomfortable and familiar; the furniture seemed odd and bulky. There was nothing in the room that prompted a memory; nothing that told him who he was. He wondered wearily if he might not have been better remaining as Arrom.
He picked up the picture of the dark-haired woman and stared at her. She must have been important to him but why? How? Would he only ever have questions?
The knock startled him and he put the picture down gently before heading over to open the door. He looked in surprise at the portly figure of the man called General Hammond.
'Doctor Jackson.' Hammond said warmly. 'May I come in?'
Daniel moved back to allow the other man entry and turned in surprise as Hammond hovered in the middle of the room.
'I just wanted to check that you had everything you needed.' Hammond stated.
Daniel could hear the silent question. He crossed his arms around his torso and nodded. 'I guess.' He gave an embarrassed smile. 'To be honest I'm not sure what it is that I need.'
Hammond expelled a huff of laughter; his round face brightening. 'I can understand that.' He gestured at him. 'Well, I just wanted to let you know if you do need anything don't hesitate to ask.'
'Thank you.' Daniel felt some of his awkwardness dissipate under the General's warmth. 'Does that include any answers?'
'You must have a dozen questions.' Hammond's blue eyes softened with compassion.
'Oh, more like a hundred.' Daniel replied.
Hammond nodded. 'My advice is not to force it. I have no doubt you'll get the answers you're looking for.'
Daniel stared at him. 'How can you be so sure?'
'Because when you set your mind to it, there's nothing you can't do, son.' Hammond smiled at him and left.
Daniel lay down on the bed and picked up the picture. Somehow the General's confidence in him had made him feel a bit better. Maybe all he needed was a good night's sleep and maybe he would know who the woman in the picture was and why she was important to him.
Daniel sipped at the orange juice he held and made his way through the press of people to where Sam and Jack stood with Teal'c in the hall.
Most of the VIPs had left earlier along with the bulk of the SGC personnel including Vala and Mitchell. The remaining mourners at the reception mainly consisted of Hammond's family and Daniel figured it had got to the moment where SG1 should make their exit too.
Jack looked up as Daniel approached. 'You ready to leave?'
Daniel nodded. 'My place?'
'Sounds good.' Jack agreed. Daniel's house was the only permanent residence in Colorado between the four of them.
'I'll find Susan.' Sam offered. She'd barely moved a step when Susan appeared.
'You're leaving?' Susan hurried over to them. Her red hair had escaped its elegant chignon and she had long since abandoned the black jacket over her jersey wool dress.
'I was just coming to find you to say goodbye.' Sam said as she stepped forward and hugged the other woman. 'If there's anything you need...'
'I know.' Susan said.
'Anything.' Jack repeated, hugging Susan as she let go of Sam and turned to him. 'You or the kids. We're only a phone call away.'
'I know.' Susan said tearfully.
Daniel moved to hug Susan next and he relinquished her to Teal'c.
Susan looked at them all and hastily swiped under her eyes. 'I just...' her voice broke and she took a breath, waving Sam off when she would have comforted her. 'Thank you.' She managed eventually. She looked at Jack. 'I don't know half of what you meant today but I know he was important; that what he did was important.' She placed a hand on Teal'c's arm. 'How important you all were to him. You said his family came first and it did but,' she smiled through her tears, 'you were family to him too.'
She moved away before they could respond and Jack nudged them out of the door. They took Jack's official car to Daniel's house before Jack dismissed the driver and sent him home. He and Sam were staying in Daniel's spare room for the night and Teal'c would take the sofa bed in the den.
Sam went to call Cassie Fraiser as Daniel handed out beers, and a ginger ale for Teal'c. They somehow migrated outside; ties undone or set aside, jackets discarded. Jack leaned forward on the wooden railing of the small deck that overlooked the backyard and stared out into the evening darkness. Daniel joined him and Teal'c took up a position on the other side of Daniel.
'Are you going to get in trouble for what you said in the church?' Daniel asked.
'I don't care if I do.' Jack replied defensively. 'It needed said.'
'It did.' Daniel agreed.
Jack looked at him sharply as thought to check Daniel was sincere before he looked away again.
'Sorry, guys.' Sam said as she rejoined them.
Jack shifted, turning to lean back on the railing and she made her way to his side. He placed an arm around her and Sam's free arm went around his waist. They looked so right, it seemed strange to think there had been a time when they would have avoided contact, even in private, Daniel mused.
'How's Cassie?' Daniel asked, his thumb rubbing absently over the paper label on the beer.
'Sad but I think she made the right call staying in school.' Sam said.
Daniel nodded. The young girl they had rescued from Hanka was now a grown woman but she had lost too many in her life; been to too many funerals already. He thought of Janet Fraiser who had raised Cassie. He missed the petite doctor.
'She sends her love.' Sam continued. 'I think I might take some leave and visit her soon.'
'Or we could invite her to the cabin.' Jack commented. He made a sweeping circle with his beer bottle to include Daniel and Teal'c in the invitation. 'What d'you guys say?'
'I'm in.' Daniel agreed.
'As am I.' Teal'c confirmed.
'I miss him already.' Sam murmured into the silence.
'Me too.' Jack said.
'Me three.' Daniel added.
'As do I.' Teal'c said in a low rumble.
'He believed in us.' Daniel said, memories crowding in on him. 'He never thought there was something we couldn't achieve.'
'Or overcome.' Teal'c added.
'He always knew exactly what to say.' Jack agreed, looking down at the beer bottle.
'And when to say it.' Sam concluded. She smiled sadly. 'If it hadn't been for General Hammond we probably wouldn't have ended up as SG1.'
'There's a thought.' Jack lifted his beer and took a gulp.
Daniel pushed his glasses up his nose. 'He deserved a lot more recognition than he ever received.'
Jack pulled a face. 'I'm not supposed to say anything but,' he shifted as they all looked at him expectantly, 'subject to agreement, it's likely the new F304 will be renamed.'
Sam pulled away from Jack to examine his expression. 'You mean...'
'Your next command will be named The General Hammond.' Jack supplied.
'Wow.' Sam blinked back fresh tears. 'I don't know what to say.'
Teal'c lifted his glass. 'To General Hammond.'
Their collective voices rang out in the fading light and across the night sky: 'To General Hammond.'
'I understand, sir.' Hammond's hand tightened around the phone and he resisted the urge to interrupt a superior officer as he questioned Hammond's recommendation for the seventh time despite the fact that the President himself had signed off on it. 'But, I'm certain that the alien Teal'c will be an asset to SG1.'
'Well, it's your call.' General Lassiter concluded.
Yes, it is. Hammond kept the thought to himself.
'You know, George, you didn't sign up for this.' Lassiter continued.
Hammond pursed his lips and wondered if Lassiter would actually have the balls to admit the Air Force had offered Hammond the Stargate post out at Cheyenne as a gentle way of putting him out to pasture ahead of retirement.
'If you'd like reassignment...' Lassiter hinted heavily instead.
'That won't be necessary, sir.' Hammond replied evenly, refusing to take the hint that he should step down for someone else, someone more dynamic who would no doubt meet the Air Force's preconceived idea for a leader of a frontline command battling aliens. 'I'm up for the challenge.'
'Very well.' Lassiter signed off and Hammond put the phone down, blowing out his relief in one long breath.
In some ways, he couldn't quite believe that he hadn't automatically been replaced following the alien invasion. His record was good, some would say solid, and it had its highlights, but even he would concede it wasn't one to generate excitement among the top brass. But it appeared the President had been impressed with Hammond's cool handling of the situation to date and maybe, Hammond mused, he would need to retain that confidence going forward but he could do it. He had been waiting for this half his life.
Hammond stood up. He walked out and down the stairs to the control room as the Stargate spun into life.
'Receiving IDC, sir.' The technician said nervously. 'It's SG1 returning on schedule from P3-575.'
Hammond gestured at him. 'Open the iris.' He made his way hurriedly down the stairs and into the gate room as a response team took up positions just in case. He waited impatiently, staring into the blue puddle intently. This was their first mission as a team; anything could have happened...
Four bodies emerged from the wormhole and it flickered out behind them.
'Colonel.' Hammond greeted O'Neill with a pleased nod, relieved to see the SG1 team back in one piece. 'Anything to report?'
'Nothing, sir other than some really ferocious wildlife.' Jack drawled.
Hammond's eyebrows rose slightly. 'Sounds like it will be an interesting debriefing, Colonel.'
'Yes, sir.' Jack said grinning.
'Sirs, with your permission, I think we should get Daniel to the infirmary and get his ankle examined.' Sam said.
Hammond looked over at Daniel Jackson and the way he was leaning on the Jaffa who was stoically bearing his weight. It looked like there had been some mishap on the planet.
'Permission granted, Captain.' Hammond said. He briefly stopped the Colonel as he made to follow his team out of the gate room. 'So you found nothing of value on P3-575?'
'Oh, I wouldn't say that, sir.' Jack said as he glanced over at his departing team-mates.
Hammond wondered at his words as he followed the direction of the Colonel's gaze. Teal'c was supporting Daniel on one side, Sam on the other. She glanced back over her shoulder, searching for her team leader. They had clearly begun to bond as a team. Something of value indeed, thought Hammond with satisfaction.
Jack nodded absently at Hammond and went to join the others.
Hammond watched SG1 disappear down the corridor; the same four strangers he'd once met in the back of a transport van in 1969; perhaps not quite that cohesive unit he had encountered yet but they would be one day, he was sure of it; had seen it.
He shook his head and allowed the smile to finally spread across his face.
It was going to be a hell of a ride.