Disclaimer: I don't own any of it.
Spoilers: Anything's up for grabs. The story takes off in mid season seven.
Summary: When a routine mission goes wrong, Sam is forced to make a choice. The consequences of her decision are more far-reaching than she or her team could have ever imagined. In the hands of a merciless Goa'uld, Sam struggles to survive, her team unable to do anything but watch. Is it a fight she can win?
A/N: This story can be categorized as many things, but there is quite a healthy dose of angst. I tend to live in the cavern! Of course, it is J/S, but there are a lot of team moments as well. There's also a non-permanent major character death.
I began this story with the idea that I wanted to do a character study of sorts. To put the team in situations that we've never seen them in before, push them to the edge, and see the fallout of those situations. To take a deeper look at their relationships. Ultimately, like the quote below, this is a story about love, in all its forms.
I have posted the prologue and first chapter, and will update regularly. The story is complete…it only took 4.5 years! Real life and lack of inspiration have thwarted my attempts to finish this fic, but it is also a long one...so enjoy!
Also, I don't claim to be all knowing, and while I did try my best to research certain topics, there may be mistakes. I apologize ahead of time!
Special thanks to Kat Spencer; you are awesome! And to Hannah-I miss our chats!
This is a story about darkness and light, about sorrow and joy, about something lost and something found. This is a story about love.
Beyond The Night
Major General George Hammond looked at the team around his table. They never ceased to amaze him. He shook his head with a slight smile. "SG-1, you're lucky you made it out of there without a scratch."
"Ah, well, sir…it's what we do," Colonel Jack O'Neill replied, leaning back in his chair, triumphant smile on his face.
"Good work. I'd say after this mission, you deserve some downtime. Get some rest, people. Dismissed." The general stood up, as did Jack and his second in command, Major Samantha Carter. Teal'c bowed his head, and Dr. Daniel Jackson grinned as Hammond made his exit.
"So!" Jack started, slapping his hands together and rubbing them in anticipation. "How about-"
"No!" came three firm replies.
"What?" the colonel asked innocently as he pushed his chair underneath the table.
"No fishing, Jack," Daniel said, crossing his arms.
"I wasn't going to ask. I was thinking about, I don't know…a movie night? Team night of sorts?" Jack looked hopefully at his teammates…the blonde astrophysicist, the bespectacled archaeologist, and the Jaffa warrior. "Come on, we never get to hang out."
"Well, I guess."
"Sweet," Jack beamed. "Meet you topside in forty-five?"
Teal'c followed his team out of the room. On Chulak, warriors rarely spent time together unless they were training or fighting. However, after seven years, Teal'c had become familiar with many Earth customs, the rare team gathering being one of his favorites. He found himself wanting to spend time with his Tau'ri friends. He enjoyed seeing O'Neill and Major Carter more relaxed and thought it quite humorous when, on occasion, Daniel became inebriated. What he found odd most of all was that after spending the last few days on a dangerous assignment, SG-1 wanted nothing more than to spend the evening together. It was as if they found comfort in each other, needing the others to be there, especially after a difficult mission. No one ever voiced this; it was unspoken, but they all knew of its existence. Teal'c had found friends he could consider family, and in the most unlikely of places.
Sam grinned as she headed for the surface. She had to admit, she was glad they were having a team night. These gatherings didn't happen as often as they should, what with work and all. They would spend a great deal of time together on base, but hardly ever at each other's homes.
Though they saw each other every day, SG-1 didn't drive each other mad, at least on most days. They were one another's best friends. There was no one else who could make suitable best friends. No one else they could discuss work with, make a joke about a certain system lord with, or share their pain with. After seven years together, the four members of SG-1 were not only a team, they were a family.
Daniel rushed out of his lab. He was running late, and Jack wouldn't be happy. Some things never changed.
He remembered almost everything from before his ascension. At that time, Daniel had thought he was ready to move on, that his work on Earth wasn't doing anyone any good. Now he was ready to resume his duties with SG-1. It was an important job, one that could make a difference.
Fitting in with the team after a year's absence wasn't as difficult as Daniel had thought it would be. There were a few bumps in the road, but things fell into place quickly. Jack, Sam, and Teal'c accepted him like a long lost brother, which, in retrospect, was exactly what he was to them…to his family.
Jack sat on his tailgate, waiting for his team. First came Teal'c, his brother in arms. Teal'c was rock-strong, reassuring, and a source of strength for the team. With a slight grin and a Colorado Rockies hat, Teal'c joined Jack at his truck.
Next came Sam. Jack smiled and waved her over. She flashed a grin back at him and headed his way. Although he would admit it to no one, Jack loved to see Sam in civvies. Not that she didn't look nice in BDUs, but they didn't quite hug her form like this outfit did. Shaking his head, Jack tried to think of other, more appropriate things.
"You okay, sir?" Sam asked, standing next to him.
"Yeah, fine. Hey, Daniel!" Jack yelled, glad for his friend's well-timed appearance.
"Sorry I'm late!" Daniel apologized, looking at his watch.
"No, no, no! You're right on time," Jack replied. "Have a seat," he said, gesturing to his tailgate. Sam took a seat next to Teal'c, and Daniel next to her.
Jack had to smile of the sight of them all in a row, legs swinging off his truck like a bunch of school kids. What an odd group they were…an old, beat up, cynical USAF colonel, a former First Prime, a brilliant Air Force major, and a geeky doctor of archaeology. Never in a million years would Jack have believed that an alien and two scientists would make up his team, the flagship team of a covert operation. A team that had saved the world countless times, in a myriad of ways.
SG-1 had become, in a sense, Jack's family. They were all he had in this world, and in his opinion, you couldn't get much better.
They had opted for a team night at Sam's, but not until after a bite to eat at O'Malley's. As they waited for their food to arrive, they sipped cold beers, save Teal'c, who drank ginger ale.
"I so deserve this," Jack muttered, pressing the cold bottle against his head before taking a swig.
"We all do, sir. It's been a pretty rough few days," Sam replied.
"But hey, even Danny Boy made it out without incident," Jack grinned at the younger man.
"Yes, Jack. I am capable of not being a total klutz."
"Indeed you are, Daniel Jackson. You have become quite a skilled warrior. I am proud to serve by your side," Teal'c told Daniel, bowing his head slightly.
"Thank you, Teal'c. At least someone appreciates me."
"Oh, come on, Daniel. You know we appreciate you!" Sam reassured him, putting a hand lightly on his arm. "The colonel just likes to tease you."
"Some things never change, huh?" the archaeologist shrugged.
"Nope. I had some good times with Jonas, but really, it wasn't the same without you, Daniel."
Daniel nodded, a look of contentment gracing his features. He knew Jack's teasing was, for the most part, harmless. Daniel wouldn't feel quite at home without it.
"Dinner's here!" the waitress announced cheerfully, arriving with a tray full of food.
"Thank God! I'm starving!" Sam exclaimed as a plate filled with a burger and fries was laid before her. It looked delicious. The food the last few days had definitely been lacking.
"Hungry, are we Carter?"
"Yes, sir," Sam answered, her mouth watering as she picked up the burger.
"Apparently not as hungry as Teal'c," Daniel commented, amused.
"T, buddy, that's got to be the biggest steak I've ever seen!" Jack told his friend, eyes wide.
"That may very well be, O'Neill, but I am extremely hungry." Without another word, Teal'c began to eat his steak, oblivious to the stares of his teammates.
As the night wore on and meals were consumed, SG-1 talked contentedly with each other. They chatted about mundane things such as the weather and sports, as well as work, since their lives really did revolve around that. Teal'c even attempted a joke, though it was about Lord Yu, and that really had been done to death.
"Dessert anyone?" the waitress asked as she cleared the empty plates from the table. Glances passed between the members of SG-1. The waitress looked at them expectantly.
"Yeah…we'll have the Death By Chocolate. One serving, four spoons please," Jack smiled.
"Coming right up."
"Thanks. So, what's next on the agenda?" Jack wondered.
"I guess we head to my place," Sam suggested.
"Do you have snacks?"
"Sir, we're about to stuff ourselves full of chocolate. You can't seriously-"
"Ah! Carter! We always need snacks. I'm gonna get hungry when we're up at 3 a.m. watching movies-"
"Star Wars!" Teal'c interrupted, a little too cheerfully for Jack's liking. He sent a glare in the Jaffa's direction.
"Uh, Teal'c, didn't you and I watch Star Wars not too long ago?" Daniel asked.
"Indeed, Daniel Jackson, upon your return. O'Neill and Major Carter did not. Perhaps they wish to view it tonight."
"Teal'c, you know what? How about we go to the movie store and see what there is? If we can't find anything else, we'll watch Star Wars," Sam offered. She knew Jack didn't want to see Star Wars. She wouldn't mind seeing something new herself.
Teal'c nodded in agreement. "Very well, Major Carter."
"So dessert, movie store, Sam's?" Daniel inquired.
"We'll need snacks..." Jack reminded him.
"Fine. Dessert, movies, snacks, and then Sam's."
It was then that the dessert arrived. The attack was strategic-Daniel went for the chocolate ice cream, Teal'c the brownie, Sam the fudge, and Jack the chocolate whipped cream. All was well until Jack and Sam both made a stab for the cherry. As their utensils hovered over the red fruit, Jack and Sam's eyes locked.
"Sir, I believe you got the cherry last time."
"I don't think so."
"Yes, I think you did."
"Carter, I clearly remember you eating the cherry!"
Daniel snickered at his teammates. For two high-ranking military officers who had saved the world on numerous occasions, they were sure acting like children.
Teal'c raised his eyebrow in amusement. "O'Neill, Major Carter, it was I who consumed the cherry during our last outing to O'Malley's."
The two turned to Teal'c, surprise written all over their faces.
"No way, Teal'c, you don't even like cherries."
"I do, O'Neill. I am quite fond of them."
"As am I," Daniel announced as he popped the cherry into his mouth.
"Daniel!" came the distraught cries of half of SG-1.
"What? It's just a cherry. Mmmmmmmm…"
Jack crossed his arms and glared in Daniel's general direction. Sam just shrugged and scrapped the last of the fudge from the plate.
"Was everything to your liking?" the waitress asked, arriving at their table, smiling.
"Good. Have a nice night," the waitress responded, setting the bill on the table. A chorus of "You too!" came from the group.
Kelly Walsh smiled as she made her way back to the kitchen. She loved it when that group came in. She always tried to wait their table. She had been working there for three years, and they had been coming for at least that long. It was usually the same four people. Sometimes a few more arrived with them, and sometimes it wasn't even all four. Kelly knew they must work out of Cheyenne Mountain, and had gathered that at least a couple of them were Air Force.
There was the older man. He wasn't old, just older than the others. She thought his name was Jake, or maybe it was Jack. He seemed to be the jokester of the group and was always kind to her.
The young, brown haired man really caught her eye. There had been a while when he didn't come, but when he'd recently shown up again, Kelly had been very pleased. His name was Daniel, and he was a doctor. She didn't think he was a doctor of medicine, but still, well educated and good looking.
The other man had sort of scared her at first. He was tall and muscular and hardly ever showed any emotion. His favorite word was indeed and he always wore a hat. He wasn't so intimidating after you got used to him, though.
Lastly was the luckiest woman in the world, or so Kelly thought. She was very close to all these nice looking men and yet she didn't seem to be attached to any of them. How could this woman, Sam, stand to be with these guys and not have any kind of relationship other than just friends? Kelly sensed there was some tension between Sam and the older man, that maybe 'just friends' wasn't exactly what they were or wanted to be. Anyway, Sam had an endearing smile and seemed very intelligent. Kelly had overheard part of a conversation once and had only understood about two words that had come out of her mouth.
She sighed as she watched them leave. She wished she had friends like that. Kelly made her way back to the table. It was always fun to wait on them, not to mention they left great tips!
Sam unlocked her door and entered her home with the three men, arms laden with various items, following her. Jack placed his precious snacks on the bar in her kitchen. He'd opted for pie, as well as chips and dip. Daniel had picked out some chocolate-walnut cookies and a half-gallon of chocolate milk. Teal'c had decided on cookies and cream ice cream and gummi bears. It was almost laughable that a large, imposing man such as Teal'c would be found consuming tiny, candy bears. Sam had chosen cups of blue Jello, as well as purchasing other much needed groceries.
Teal'c placed the movies they'd rented next to the DVD player. They were a mixture of sci-fi and action. Jack had scoffed at them, saying they were too much like their real lives. He'd wanted to watch a comedy, but his team had outvoted him. He'd shrugged his shoulders in defeat. Secretly, though, Jack liked to watch the movies. His team was way better than any that those moviemakers could come up with. He'd sit with a smug grin on his face the entire time.
Daniel set Jack's old N-64 and games next to the TV. True, there were newer systems, but Jack had found it at a neighbor's garage sale, and had bought it for Teal'c to try out. Since then, the N-64 had made an appearance on team nights.
"What is our first course of action?" Teal'c wondered, hands clasped behind his back.
"Movie?" Sam suggested. Nods came from around the room, so she popped the first movie into the DVD player.
Jack plunged a corn chip into his dip, then watched as some of it plopped down into the bowl. The end credits rolled across the television screen.
"Is there a film in which the male does not obtain the female at the conclusion?" Teal'c asked, looking directly at Sam and Jack. Jack dropped his chip and Sam looked up abruptly.
"Teal'c, the guy usually gets the girl in these types of movies," Sam explained.
"This is not like actual life," Teal'c stated, his gaze never wavering from the military half of SG-1.
"It's a horrible cliché, Teal'c. Horrible." Jack frowned and pulled his chip out of the cheese dip.
"See, Teal'c, people want a happy ending when they see a movie. And that usually involves...um…a kiss… or something…at the end," Daniel offered. He was relatively certain that Teal'c was playing naive on purpose, that his words were specifically intended to make Sam and Jack squirm, and perhaps think twice.
Teal'c nodded in response to their explanations.
A slightly uncomfortable silence fell upon the group.
"Carter! You slapped me to death!"
"Sorry, sir, but I have a license to kill."
Jack stared at her in disbelief. Maybe Golden Eye wasn't the best game to play. The four playing in License to Kill mode was certainly a sight to see. Sam and Teal'c were having much better luck than Jack and Daniel. Jack also couldn't believe Sam was being flippant with him.
"Please, Carter. You've already shot me, stabbed me, and blown me up with a grenade. Do I sense a personal vendetta?"
"No, sir. I just wanted a challenge. Daniel is too easy a target."
"True," Jack agreed.
"I am not!" Daniel said indignantly.
"Sam! You…you shot me!"
"That's for the cherry."
Sam looked at the clock as the movie finished. Almost 0200 hours. Daniel was sacked out in his chair, feet propped on the ottoman, glasses resting lightly on his nose. He hadn't lasted long after his beer had been taken away. Jack was asleep next to her, gray hair sticking up in all directions. Teal'c rose from his chair, bowing to Sam.
"May I retire to the guest bedroom?" he inquired.
"Sure, Teal'c. See you in the morning." Ever since Teal'c had gone on Tretonin, he needed sleep. However, he often tried to Kel-no-reem before attempting to do so.
Sam headed to her own bedroom. Team nights usually ended with everyone staying over. She didn't mind. In fact, she liked knowing they were there. Sam opened her dresser drawer and pulled out her night clothes- blue pajama pants and a white tank top. Simple and comfortable, just like her BDUs. She went to the bathroom and changed, brushed her teeth, and washed her face.
Sam sighed. She should be terribly tired, but she wasn't. Maybe it was the sugar from the gummi bear catching contest she'd had with Teal'c. Sam snorted softly. That had been interesting.
Sam opened the door and found herself face-to-face with a bleary-eyed colonel.
"Just have to use the facilities. Beer, ya know."
Sam nodded, stepping around Jack and heading back to the living room. Suddenly Jack wasn't so tired. Not only did his 2IC smell really nice, she was looking, well, extremely cute in her pajamas. Then Mother Nature reminded him he'd had a few beers. He shut the door behind him.
Sam sat back on the couch, crossword puzzle in hand. Even at this hour, she needed something to stimulate her mind. Daniel snored softly in his chair and Sam couldn't help but smile. He was so adorable sometimes.
A few minutes later, Jack joined her on the sofa. "Can't sleep?"
Sam shook her head. "Sir, you can take my bed if you'd like. It's a lot more comfortable than my couch anyway."
The idea certainly was appealing. However, Jack knew he would never get any sleep in her bed. Being surrounded by her smell, her essence, it would drive him insane. Just sitting next to her was enticing enough.
"Thanks, but I won't be able to sleep knowing you can't." It wasn't a lame excuse, it was true. Besides, right now there was nothing more Jack would rather do than keep Sam company.
He loved to be around her, even if he couldn't express his full affections. He kept them hidden for the most part. Getting too close was dangerous; feelings could get in the way. Jack couldn't be anymore sure Sam still had feelings for him than she could be sure he still felt for her. But even if they both still felt the same, which Jack suspected they did, it had to be this way.
Moments like this got him through. Through until what? Until they could be together? Jack didn't know when that would even be a possibility. The war they were fighting was in full swing. They had a job to do. Sam loved her work, and he didn't want to jeopardize that. He also couldn't forget the nagging thought that Sam could do better than him, lots better.
"Whatcha doing?" he asked, leaning in, eyes flitting over her puzzle.
"Crossword," she replied, noting his leg was grazing hers.
"At this hour? Need some help?"
"Okay…um… A four letter word for Norway's Patron Saint."
Jack looked at her blankly. "Well, first of all, I have no idea. Secondly, you don't really need my help."
Sam grinned at Jack. "Sir, you asked. Anyway, it's Olaf."
"Olaf? What kind of name is that? How do you even know that?"
"It's the name of a Norwegian saint, plus I've known Daniel for seven years."
"That does help," Jack agreed. "Any clues I might actually know the answers to?" Jack asked hopefully.
With a smile, Sam replied, "Yes, sir."
Daniel rubbed his eyes sleepily, then pulled his glasses up on his nose. The television was off, but a small light lit the room. Teal'c was no longer there, and Sam and Jack were….
A crossword puzzle and pen sat in Sam's lap, and her head rested lightly against Jack's shoulder. Jack's arm had looped its way around Sam's back and his hand was splayed across her stomach. His cheek lay atop her head and they both looked so…content. That was the best way Daniel could describe it. He smiled softly.
Daniel reached over and turned the light out. Placing his glasses aside and kicking off his shoes, he fell back to sleep.
Jack stirred. Something was different. There was something warm nestled against him. Jack inhaled and his nostrils were filled with a sweet, familiar scent.
Interesting. How had this happened? Jack had fallen asleep before Sam. The puzzle had lost its appeal quickly, not to mention the fact he was very tired. She must have been too, because here they were.
Though he knew no one would run in and court-martial them, this was wrong. This was nice, but very unprofessional. Then again, Jack knew that his relationship with Sam, or any member of his team for that matter, wasn't normal. Their bonds ran deep, deeper than those forged by most families.
Daniel must have been up, Jack noticed. The light was out and he was situated much more comfortably. He momentarily wondered how long he'd been in this somewhat compromising position and if the younger man had seen. Then he decided it didn't really matter.
Jack wanted to relish the moment. He wanted to watch Sam, let his eyes linger on her. Study her long, miracle working fingers. Gaze at her face, the smooth curves and creamy skin slightly flushed from sleep. But Jack knew he couldn't and shouldn't. He also knew when he woke her, he would see her wide, blue eyes framed by long, dark lashes. Sam would be looking at him unguarded, and his breath would be stolen away.
He moved his hand up to Sam's bare shoulder and gently shook her. "Carter…Carter."
"Huh?" came the sleepy reply.
"What?" Sam sat up abruptly, turning towards Jack's voice. Her hand landed squarely on his chest. Jack felt his pulse quicken. For a moment, Sam looked disoriented. Then her gaze landed on him.
"We fell asleep," Jack told her quietly, so as not to disturb Daniel. Sam nodded, removing her hand and picking up her paper and pen.
"Sorry, sir," she said hastily. She was probably piecing together what had happened.
"It's okay. Why don't you go to bed?"
"No, no. You can take my bed," Sam offered.
"Carter. Go. Now. It's an order."
Sam nodded, stifling a yawn. "Yes, sir. Night."
"Night." Jack watched his 2IC shuffle her way to her room. He took off his shoes and settled onto the couch with a grin on his face. He'd just had the most intelligent, beautiful, charming woman in the entire galaxy in his arms. However, the grin would have been plastered on his face for the rest of the night, if not for the rest of his life, had the most intelligent, beautiful, charming woman in the entire galaxy remained there.
Coffee. Sausage. Eggs. Those smells had assaulted Sam's senses all morning. She knew the boys were up making themselves at home. Sam was still a bit exhausted and very comfortable. It was a rare occasion she slept until after sunrise without feeling guilty.
With a groan, Sam finally pulled herself out of bed. She quickly ran a brush through her untamed hair, then headed out to see what was going on. She found her team quickly. They were lounging around the TV playing…Mario Kart?
"Get out of my way fungus!" Jack yelled as he tried to drive Mario around Toad. He hit the wall instead. Meanwhile, Daniel sped ahead.
"O'Neill, I believe you possess a red turtle shell."
"Oh, yeah. Thanks, T." He fired the shell and whooped as Toad spun out. "Take that, Daniel."
"Thanks a lot, Jack," Daniel muttered.
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed, shooting off two shells, hitting both Toad and Mario. Bowser pulled to the front.
"What was that for?"
"I intend to be the victor," the Jaffa told them, a slight smirk playing on his usually stoic features.
Sam almost had to laugh at the looks of determination on all of their faces. They were the same ones she saw in the battlefield day in and day out, yet they were playing a video game. She couldn't help it. Sam laughed.
"Oh, hey, Sam," Daniel said, still focused on his game. "There's coffee and breakfast burritos."
"Are you well this morning, Major Carter?"
"Morning, guys. I'll go get me a plate." Sam's stomach rumbled as she grabbed a dish and coffee mug.
"Okay, whatever we do, we cannot, under any circumstances, let Teal'c win," Jack told Daniel.
"You are powerless to stop me," Teal'c informed them. "I am nearing the finish line."
"I don't think so," Daniel grinned as his item came up as a lightning bolt. Soon Mario and Bowser were miniature and Toad crossed the finish line in victory.
Teal'c bowed his head in respect. "You are a worthy adversary, Daniel Jackson."
Sam couldn't help but feel content on this morning. She was surrounded by her guys. Men that would protect her with their lives, die for her, or if it came down to it, die with her so she wouldn't face it alone. No one could ever understand what they meant to each other. These three men loved her in a way no one else did, or could even attempt to understand. She loved them too, and would do anything for them, anything at all.
As Sam prepared her breakfast, she had no idea she would soon find out how true that was.
TBC in 'Off To Work We Go'