Five things Samantha Carter learned from Jack O'Neill (but which aren't in any manual):
It was the most beautiful - the most amazing - thing she had ever seen. The swirling vortex opened into infinity before her, all the mysteries of the universe contained in its depths.
She might have stood there forever, lost in the wonder of it. Trapped by her own awe… and her own fear.
He grabbed her shoulder and pushed her through.
Lesson One: Sometimes, you just have to take that first step and do it.
She had no idea what to do. It certainly wasn't the first time this had happened, but it was the first time with the fate of the world riding on her shoulders.
And she was stuck. Absolutely clueless. She'd been sitting in her lab for hours, staring uselessly at her monitor, completely unable, as the Colonel so eloquently put it, to pull one single useful idea out of her butt.
Then he came in and his only suggestion was to go eat cake. Which was absurd even though, eventually, they did.
The cake didn't help her solve their problem, of course. But sitting there in the commissary, the creamy chocolate frosting and soft cake filling her mouth as she watched the Colonel make some joke she wasn't even listening to but laughed at anyway, she suddenly realized something.
Sam still had no idea what to do, but, in that time and at that place, unbelievably, she was happy.
Lesson Two: When all else fails, eat cake.
You're a National Treasure…
The words rang in her ears. They tore at her heart. He hadn't meant it that way of course - hadn't meant to be cruel. She knew that, yet the words hurt all the same.
She didn't want to be a National Treasure. She didn't care how special she was to the mission, or to the nation, or to the world.
He had once loved her - her - Samantha Carter. Not because of what she could do, or all that she had accomplished, but because of who she was. She'd been special to him….
He'd once cared about her more than he was supposed to.
And she still knew he'd always be there for her. But not because she was Sam.
She might have been able to keep the universe from falling apart around them, but at that moment in his living room none of that mattered. None of that could fix her breaking heart. And suddenly, she wished she really were a national treasure because, maybe then, she wouldn't hurt quite so bad.
Monuments felt nothing.
Lessons Three: Words can make you bleed.
She glanced across the short space which separated them and smiled at him. He smiled back with one of his own far too rare ones which she hadn't even known she'd been desperately missing until she'd started seeing them again just a few short days earlier. Because their defeat of the Go'uld and the death of her father had changed everything in ways she never would have imagined possible.
Turning back to the water, she cast her line out again. She'd never dreamed fishing could be fun. Certainly not as much fun as she was having right there, now, doing nothing but fishing. Fishing with him.
But then again, over the last few days, she'd been discovering that a lot.
There were many things which she'd found to be far, far better when done with him.
Lesson Four: Fishing is fun… with the right person.
"So, how was your meeting?" she asked when she had finished filling him in on the latest research to cross her desk at Area 51.
She could hear his impatience even over the phone. "Oh… You know… Same old, same old."
Unable to control the guilt which overcame her every time she realized - again - how miserable he really was in DC, she spoke without thinking. "I'm sorry…."
He sounded honestly confused. He always did. "For what?" he asked.
"For…" Her voice trailed off. Because, as selfish as it was, despite his frequent misery, she really couldn't make herself regret anything they had done.
He chuckled and, as if reading her thoughts, said, "I'm not."
"Not for a minute, Carter. I'd rather be miserable here…"
She smiled into the phone. Because she knew the alternative as well as he did. They'd lived it, together but apart, for almost eight years. "Yeah… me too…" she admitted.
"So… Talk to you tomorrow." It wasn't a question.
"You'll know where to find me."
"Always. Love you, Sam."
"Love you too, Jack. Bye."
And, with a final "Bye," he hung up the phone. Severing the call.
But never the connection.
Lesson Five: Love is being there, even when that means not being there.