Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 is not mine, nor are any of the characters. Any and all events that took place in this story are not meant to reflect any actual occurances, excepting of course the terrorist attacks that happened on September 11, 2001. To any and all, if I have misconstrued or mistakenly said anything in this story, I plead your forgiveness. It was unintentional.
Rating: Teen. Mostly just because anyone younger probably won't really understand it all that well, and for just the historical events that this is centered upon...also rated Teen for graphic images
Timeframe: Season 5, Season 10
Summary: On September 11th, 2001, the single most atrocious act of terror was committed against the United States of America. In remembrance of all the fallen and unsung heroes of that day.
A/N: This is dedicated to the heroes and the survivors of the September 11th terrorist attacks. I hope that I have been able to do this day and these terrible events justice, and, while this story focuses on our own heroes, I want to ask you to take the time to remember all the lives lost on that terrible day, 10 years ago to date. Please, I beseech of you, give me input, advice, and constructive criticism on this piece so that I can make it even better, and more true to form. Thank you.
God Bless the United States of America.
On That Day
0937 – September 11, 2001
The sharp, yet achingly hollow sound of metal and concrete crumpling cracked through the air, shaking the entire Pentagon to its very foundations. A deep, profound silence followed, eating up the air that filled the conference room.
All was silent, each of the eight people in the room sitting deathly still as each of them looked at each other in turn, each silently asking the other if they knew what had happened.
"What the hell?" Colonel O'Neill's flippant query shattered the silence like a stained glass window that suddenly exploded into a hundred thousand particles of floating, colored dust. Suddenly, everyone was talking at once, each trying to speak overtop of their neighbor, shouting for someone to answer their questions.
The only two that had remained sitting were a certain cynical Colonel, and a rather worried Major. Carter glanced over at O'Neill, her eyes wide as an explosion boomed dully throughout the complex.
It was as if the world suddenly stilled, as if time itself was suddenly frozen.
One man, his hair combed into a perfect part, his suit looking almost impossibly immaculate, wrenched open the door, sending the wooden barrier to the outside world crashing into the wall beside him.
The burning, searing smell of fire burning rampantly scorched the air in the room, the stinging bite of smoke immediately beginning to filter into the open entry. The man raced out of the room, screaming at the others to follow him.
"No, wait!" O'Neill shouted, reaching forward as if he could grab onto the man's jacket as he fled the room. The Colonel was just a second too late.
Fire roared down the hallway, engulfing the man as he attempted to escape. His screams rent the air in two and he staggered blindly, searching for his way back into the room.
Carter leapt to her feet, sprinting around the table. She shoved a shocked legislator out of the way and rounded the corner of the table, accidentally slamming her hip into a wayward chair. As soon as she hit open space, she sprinted forward, slipping through the doorway and into the corridor, her gaze fixed on the man thrashing among the flames.
Her fingers latched around his jacket sleeve, and she yanked, pulling him backwards. He fought her for a second, his panic completely overpowering his senses and movements. Finally, he ceded to her insistent guidance, and fumbled after her, dropping into the room and away from the flames, even as they began to encroach into the briefing room as well.
Sam ripped off the jacket of her dress uniform, using it to smother the flames that licked at the man's skin, eating away at his flesh. In the background, she could vaguely hear the door being slammed shut and her CO giving sharp commands to put out the fires that had sprung up along the carpet that covered the floor.
"We don't have much time," O'Neill was saying, his voice strong and clear, even over the burned man's moans and sobs. Carter laid a comforting hand on his shoulder, murmuring soft words of encouragement as she quashed the final flickering flames. "Before long, the fire will burn its way into here as well. We have to get out, and as quickly as possible."
"But how?" a woman asked, her voice shrill with anxiety. "We all saw what happened when Arnold went out there."
"The water," Sam said abruptly from her place on the floor.
"Carter?" O'Neill asked her, indicating for her to expound.
"There is water in here, although not much. If used sparingly, we should be able to get ourselves wet enough to keep our clothing from catching on fire, especially if we move fast enough."
"How much water do we have in here?" O'Neill asked, looking around at everyone, who was clustered tightly around him, Carter, and Arnold.
"We have the water jugs and a cooler of water in the corner," another man piped up.
"You are?" the Colonel asked.
"Louis. Louis Ammer."
"Alright Louis, I want you to get the water cooler and bring it over to the main conference table. While he's doing that, everyone get in a line. It doesn't matter the order, everyone will get some." Louis complied, brushing his sandy blonde hair out of his eyes as he hurried toward the corner.
"How is he?" O'Neill asked, bending down beside Carter as the remaining four men and woman quickly formed into a line. Carter could only shrug, glancing down at Arnold who lay there, shaking. Patches of angry red skin burned through the tattered holes of his business suit. "Hey Arnold, you think you can run?" O'Neill asked him, turning his piercing gaze to fix on the man's face.
The poor man shrugged, breathing heavily. "I can try," he said hoarsely. O'Neill nodded curtly and stood, making his way to stand beside the table.
"We won't leave you behind," Carter promised the man as she, too, stood and went to wait beside her CO.
Louis slid the large water cooler across the table top, sending file folders skittering across the polished surface, ignoring the harsh grating sound that issued from the rough plastic bottom as it skid across the wood surface.
O'Neill grabbed the glass water pitcher from the center of the table and, before the man standing at the front of the line could protest, dumped the cold liquid over his head. The man gasped, water streaming down his cheeks and dripping onto his shirt. Carter quickly unscrewed the top of the water cooler and O'Neill dipped the pitcher into the liquid, repeating the process on each person down the line.
"Take off your jackets and pass them up here," Carter ordered meanwhile, and starting from the front of the line back, each of them did so. Dipping each of them in the ever dwindling supply of water, Sam ensured that they were each at least damp all the way through before passing them back. Finally, and with O'Neill's help, she pulled the cooler onto the ground.
"Each of you come here and step in it," O'Neill ordered. "But only keep your leg in there for a second or so. We want to make sure that there's enough for everyone." Seconds ticked by with agonizing slowness, the thick scent of smoke and flame growing stronger each breath. From beneath the door, Sam could see the flickering shadows of flames beginning to encroach underneath the fireproof door.
A sudden deluge of ice cold water drenched her and it was all Carter could do to keep from lashing out at her unseen attacker as she realized that it must be Colonel O'Neill. The water cooler appeared in her line of vision, and she grabbed it, looking past it to the man standing behind it.
"Hurry up," Colonel O'Neill urged, the tone of his voice doing more to spur Carter on than his words. She gripped the blue plastic lid and, after glancing over at Arnold to make sure he too had been watered, upended the water over her CO's head, letting the remaining liquid cascade over his head and down onto his crisp, blue uniform. When she was done, she dropped the container to her side, shaking her hair out of her eyes.
"Let's go," O'Neill barked, weaving through the line of people to stand beside the door that led out into the hallway. Flames were beginning to lick at the carpet, hissing and sizzling whenever a droplet of water fell from the Colonel's hair or uniform to hit the ever growing fire.
Motioning for someone to help her, Carter stooped by Arnold's side and, gripping him beneath the armpits, heaved him to his feet. He moaned as she tightened her hold and wavered once set on his feet, but he finally steadied, keeping his legs under him.
"Good to go, Sir," Carter called out, and O'Neill yanked open the door once again.
"Go, go, go," O'Neill ordered the others, pulling open the door. "Hold a handkerchief or your shirt over your nose," he added as a final comment as they began to file out of their temporary safe haven.
Flames roared outside, reaching with hungry, tenacious fingertips into the conference room, seeking to devour the untainted room. The sound was deafening and the smoke choking. Tears immediately sprang into Carter's eyes as the smoke assaulted her, causing her to cough. She quickly yanked her blouse up above her nose, and then wrapped her left arm around Arnold's waist, hurrying toward the door while supporting him.
Heat blasted into Carter's face as she left the safety of the conference room, stepping out into the roaring inferno that had once been a hallway. Now, it was more like a corridor leading to hell itself. Searing pain burned along her legs and now, more than ever, Carter mentally cursed the skirts that were regulation dress uniform for women.
Colonel O'Neill was the last out of the room, ensuring that everyone made it out. Within a few seconds, he was on Arnold's other side, gripping him around the shoulders, urging him and the Major to go even faster.
Fire licked all around them, the water that soaked them beginning to steam and hiss out of their clothing. Pure heat assaulted their faces and bare skin, the water evaporating off of it to leave only tender flesh behind. One thought and one thought only consumed Carter's mind: get them out alive.
A groaning, screeching sound rippled through the hallway, the walls themselves groaning. Suddenly, a large chunk of concrete ripped away from the walls, the supports weakened by the ravaging fire.
"Get down!" O'Neill yelled over the howling, seeing the wall beginning to collapse on top of his 2IC. Carter obeyed instinctually, releasing Arnold and ducking down. Concrete chips rained down on top of her, slicing gashes through her blouse and bloodying her back and arms. O'Neill dove sideways, pulling Arnold with him, searching for the protection of the opposite wall.
He found something even better. A small closet stood directly opposite him and he slammed the door open, snapping the lock with a carefully placed kick. He pulled the injured man in as he dodged into it, turning back to yell for Carter to get over there.
He felt a sharp push between his shoulder blades and the next thing the Colonel knew, he was being forced out of the cupboard and back into the maelstrom. Anger flared inside him, deep, angry red buzzing behind his eyes. He turned to scream at Arnold, just as the entire roof collapsed on top of the man, burying him with hundreds of pounds of concrete and steel. He only had time to cry out once before his scream was cut off.
Cursing, O'Neill turned, searching for Carter. He found her running toward him, grimacing in pain. Ash and soot was smeared across one cheek, sweat dripping down into her eyes. Blood trickled fitfully from a gash on her forehead.
"Wall collapsed," Carter gasped as she drew even with O'Neill. "We can only go forward. Where's Arnold?" she asked a split second later, her eyes meeting O'Neill's.
"Dead," he replied gruffly, turning and beginning his run down the hallway. Given no other choice, Carter followed, gritting her teeth as she struggled to keep up with her CO. It took a few minutes before he slowed, turning over one shoulder to look at her trailing a few feet behind him.
"Carter, what's wrong?" he asked sharply, the fear and adrenaline coursing through his mind and body forcing his question out more harshly than he had intended. He glanced down and it was only then that he realized with a sudden feeling of nausea, that Carter was barefoot.
"Where are your shoes?" he barked, fear and anger at himself for not noticing it sooner spurring his anxiety into a whole new, unheard of level.
"Took them off," Carter answered nonchalantly. "I couldn't run with them. I'll be fine, Sir," she added, brushing past him to continue her way up the hallway. Shaking his head and growling to himself, O'Neill followed, seeing nothing else he could possibly do for her at the moment.
Slowly, the fire began to peter out, the flames growing less and less vicious and numerous. Vaguely, O'Neill could feel a light mist splashing across his face, alerting him to the fact that the fire sprinkler system in this section of the building at least was working. He found that he was unbelievably thankful for any small miracle.
The two companions rounded a corner and suddenly found themselves face to face with their bedraggled group.
"The stairwell is blocked," Louis told them matter of factly. "We have to get to the next one."
"Carter, you take lead," O'Neill ordered. "Louis, you too. I'll take back."
"Come on, let's go," Louis called back, following the hobbling Major closely.
Carter poured every ounce of strength that she could into her legs, fighting to continue putting one foot in front of the other. Pain ate at her feet to the point that they were almost numb. Lines of aching fire raced across her back from the gashes and her throat and eyes stung painfully from the smoke. She savagely pushed it all aside though, leading the way out into the main corridor once again.
A groan echoed from above her, closely followed by the sound of metal snapping. She lunged backwards, colliding with Louis and sending him tumbling to the ground. He picked himself up almost immediately and opened his mouth to start yelling at the Major, when a section three feet long of roof in front of them suddenly peeled away and slammed into the ground, tearing through the floor as well as it continued its fall downward. Smokey blue sky filtered through the jagged hole above them, the rush of fresh air bringing a second's respite.
"We have to keep going," Louis said, leaning close to Sam's ear so she could hear him. She nodded absentmindedly, carefully inspecting the obstacle in front of them. With a sudden burst of energy, she ran forward and leapt across the gaping hole. She landed harshly, stumbling to her knees as her feet hit the ground on the other side. She immediately rose back to her feet, turning back.
"Come on!" she called out, motioning for the others to follow her lead. Louis took a running start and flew over the gap, Carter catching him and hurrying him along as soon as he landed. A second person leapt across the gap, then a third and a fourth. The fifth person to attempt the leap, the woman, barely made it and stood teetering on the edge for a second. Carter leaned out and grabbed her around the waist, tumbling backwards and onto solid ground just as another section of weakened cement crumbled away.
Now only Colonel O'Neill remained. He eyed the gap warily, then sprang forward, sprinting with all his might and pushing off at the last second. He landed heavily, rolling on his side as he barely managed to clear the now five foot gap.
Carter was at his side in a second, gripping his jacket and heaving him to his feet. With that, the seven of them were once again racing down the hallways, the sprinklers spraying tepid water into their faces. Even so, flames still licked weakly at the walls and ash and soot ran along the floor in rivulets.
Coughing and spluttering, the small ragtag group finally reached the second stairwell, the door directly beside the metallic doors of the elevator.
"Not much farther!" Louis called out, wrenching open the heavy door. He motioned for the others to file through and they complied readily, sprinting down the metal steps.
Frantic banging dragged Carter's attention to the elevator. Within seconds, she was at the doors, pressing an ear to the doors.
"Is someone in there?" she called out, listening intently for a reply.
"Yes. YES," someone yelled. "Help us. The doors are stuck and there are snapping sounds coming from the cables," a man informed them.
Carter turned to call for O'Neill's help, but he was already at her side.
"Louis, get the others out. We'll catch up as soon as we can." Nodding, the younger man obeyed, disappearing down the stairs. "Hold on," O'Neill now called out to the man trapped in the elevator. "We're getting you out. Is there anyone else in there with you?"
"Yes," came the muffled reply. "Two others."
"Understood," O'Neill replied, then began to frantically search the debris littered floor for anything to pry the doors open with. Carter suddenly appeared at his side holding a broken metal pipe in her hand, the tip a jagged point.
Together, they carefully inserted the point into the crack in the doors and began to push and pull respectively, slowly forcing the doors apart. Hands suddenly appeared in the cracks, helping the two officers pry the doors apart.
Slowly, ever so slowly, the doors opened until they were just wide enough for someone to squeeze through. The first to squeeze out was an older woman, gray streaks peppering her brown hair. The second was a man in a tweed suit, his glasses cracked and smattered with dust. The third and final man to squeeze between the doors was dressed in an Air Force uniform as well.
"Colonel O'Neill? Major Carter?" Major Paul Davis asked, surprised.
"Major Davis," Carter exclaimed, also surprised.
"Come on, we can catch up later," O'Neill said, although not harshly. "Let's get these people out of here." The sound of cables finally snapping ripped through the cacophony of other sounds, the screech of the elevator dropping to meet its demise echoing painfully. Davis's face paled, and he swallowed, eyeing the now empty space. He nodded, turning away from the sight.
Turning, the three officers ushered the two civilians into the stairwell and down the metal steps.
Each step sent a stabbing shard of agony through Sam's feet and legs, droplets of blood imprinting her footprints on each step. She bit her lip savagely, focusing only on getting out of the nightmare.
When the five stepped out of the stairwell, for a second Carter thought that they had just gone back in time. Fire coursed around them, eating at the air cruelly. The door behind them swung shut and, when Major Davis turned back to open it and retreat to the cleaner air, he found it locked.
Carter looked down the seemingly endless corridor and she knew, although she desperately wished that there was another way, that there was only one option.
"We have to make a run for it," she called out. Already, her mostly dried clothing was popping and cracking with the \ heat. She caught O'Neill's nod and Davis's small groan.
"Let's go," O'Neill called out, then started forward, sprinting through the flickering flames. Gritting her teeth, Carter followed, her feet flying.
Flames licked at her unprotected legs and sharp pieces of metal and concrete dug into her already torn feet, the scorching tiles burning even more skin off the bottoms of her feet no matter how fast she picked them up. Her breathing was ragged, the smoke that clogged the air choking her and making her gag as she attempted to draw in breath. Tears streamed down her cheeks, her body automatically attempting to rid itself of the foreign element. Behind her, Carter could hear the two civilians and Major Davis running as well.
Something wrapped around her waist, and suddenly she felt herself being pulled aside.
"What are you-?" Carter yelped at O'Neill, and then her eyes fastened on the gaping hole in the floor leading down into the dark depths of the Pentagon. Her feet skid along the ground as she attempted to regain her balance, sending debris skittering over the edge and down into the darkness.
"What do we do?" This time it was Major Davis asking the question, his voice wheezy and scratchy from the smoke as he slid to a stop beside them, reaching out to grab the two civilians before they slid over the edge. "That's too far for any of us to jump." Carter knew he was right, no matter how much she resented the fact.
"There," O'Neill said, directing their attention to a shadowed doorway a few feet behind them. "It looks like the door's fireproof. Let's get in there."
Major Davis retreated back to the door, pulling his jacket sleeves over his hands so he wouldn't burn them as he quickly pushed down the handle. With a sharp jab of his shoulder, he opened the door and slipped into the room. The two civilians entered behind him, leaving only the two members of SG-1 in the corridor.
"Come on, Carter," O'Neill yelled over the inferno, grabbing her wrist and helping her across the burning floor and into the small haven of relative safety.
It was a conference room, one almost identical to the one in which they had begun their adventures. The carpet smoldered in a few places, but even now, Davis and the others were frantically putting them out. O'Neill slammed the door shut behind them as they entered, then helped Carter over to a chair. The fact that she didn't protest when he partially shoved her down into the seat told him more than anything else how much she was suffering.
"Are you alright Major Carter?" Davis asked, quickly coming to stand by her side.
"No, she's not," O'Neill said wearily, kneeling and pulling her foot up onto his lap. A sharp his of pain escaped her and he looked at the bottoms of her feet warily.
The bottom of her foot was a mass of blistered red skin as well as deep lacerations, blood oozing out from each jagged cut. Her ankles and legs also showed angry red burns, the skirt doing absolutely nothing to protect her skin. Shaking his head, O'Neill carefully rested her foot back onto the ground.
"You're crazy," he muttered as he stood, searching the room for its water cooler, hoping that it would be full.
"I had no other choice, Sir," Carter said heatedly, a blush that was mostly hidden by the smears of soot and ash creeping up her cheeks. "I couldn't run with the shoes on. I would have twisted or broken something, and they were slowing me down."
"You don't have to defend yourself from me, Carter. I didn't say you were wrong in your decision," O'Neill replied, realizing that what he had said would have sounded judgmental.
The heat in the room slowly began to increase as the fire slowly ate away at the door, the flickering flames creeping underneath the door hungrily.
As he made his way to the finally discovered water cooler, O'Neill's eyes found the clock bolted to the wall.
0946. It had only been nine minutes since the original…whatever had happened. O'Neill reached the water cooler and quickly unscrewed the top. Even before he had finished, he knew that it was empty.
"Dammit," he cursed, sending the plastic container sprawling to the ground. He looked over at Carter, who was sitting in the chair, staring at the door and the flames flickering beneath it as if nothing else mattered. Major Davis was sitting against the table, talking to her quietly.
Something inside of O'Neill suddenly roared to life – a roaring, howling monster that ached for the blood of whoever had done this. She was sitting there injured, because of them, whoever they were. He would get her out. He promised himself right then and there, that he would get Major Samantha Carter out of this nightmare of terror.
A spark suddenly leapt, hissing, into the room, landing on the bone dry carpet. It ignited, spewing more sparks over the room. O'Neill jumped for them, stamping at the small blazes, Davis by his side. A few seconds later, Carter was also beside him, helping them despite her destroyed feet, despite the burns riddling her legs, and despite her back having been gashed as well. O'Neill shook his head, but said nothing, knowing it wouldn't go over well if he ordered her back.
The man and woman were sitting on the ground behind them. The woman was sobbing quietly, fear finally overcoming any final barriers. The man was mumbling to himself.
Suddenly, his words became perfectly clear.
"Father in heaven above, please help us. Guide us, save us from these flames and from death. We trust in You. Help us, aide us, please. We beg of you. We beseech you." He fell silent, only to be replaced by the woman.
"God, help my family. Help them through this. Don't let my husband wallow in anguish or misery. Help my children please."
O'Neill, Carter, and Davis looked at each other for an instant, the flames growing in intensity around them despite all of their frantic attempts. Carter looked away first, something unreadable flickering in her eyes. Finally, O'Neill also returned his full attention to the issue at hand. Silence descended upon the group as the woman ended her prayer.
"Please," Carter whispered into the silence.
In a final act of desperation, O'Neill lunged forward and tugged at the door, only to find that the heat had effectively welded the metal hinges together.
The fires ate at the air, their heat forcing the three Air Force officers backward toward the table. As they found more fuel, the flames began to grow even hotter and more vicious, searing the very air itself. Smoke stung the air, making it nigh impossible to draw breath at all.
The three officers retreated in a line until they finally hit the conference table. They stood there, watching the flames drawing closer and closer. Somehow, Carter's hand found O'Neill's, and then Davis's, and they stood there like that, waiting and watching for a chance to present itself – for a miracle.
The flames licked at their legs, the heat burning even through their clothing.
The door was suddenly flung open, the wood splintering away from the hinges.
"Are there any survivors in here?" a man called out into the haze of fire and smoke.
"Yes!" Davis called out, recovering from the shock first. "Five survivors here!"
Three firefighters appeared in the doorway, entering the conference room.
"Follow us, we'll get you out," the leader said, coming into the room.
O'Neill motioned for the two civilians, who were huddling in the back of the room, to hurry forward. They complied without question or hesitation, following the first fireman out of what they had thought was their tomb and out into the hallway once again.
"Come on," the leader replied, motioning for the three Air Force officers to follow him. Carter released Davis's hand, and he stepped forward, following the second firefighter out into the hallway.
Carter stepped forward and almost fell, her leg buckling from the sudden spike of pain that lanced through her legs. O'Neill barely managed to catch her before she fell completely to the ground.
"Help me," he called out to the firefighter, who was by his side in an instant. The large man knelt by the Major's side, sliding his hands under her arms and knees, pulling her upwards.
"You're gonna be okay, Major," he said, correctly reading the insignia on her lapels. "We're gonna get you outta here." Carter nodded, not even attempting to resist being carried.
The fireman leading, they stepped back into the corridor. A metal ladder had been placed over the gaping hole in the floor and, with quick, careful steps, they crossed it, arriving on the other side in just a few seconds.
The fires were burning less viciously on the opposite side, the water and sand that had been thrown on the flickering flames by the firefighters as they struck inwards, searching for survivors, doing their job and slowly quenching the flames.
The fireman picked up the pace, running as quickly as he could in his cumbersome suit, O'Neill following close behind, almost even with him.
And then, suddenly, they were wrenching their way through a door and out into the open. As he glanced right, O'Neill caught a glimpse of a hole torn jaggedly into the side of the building, the crumpled remains of an airplane lying burnt and broken at the heart of it.
The next thing he knew, he was being swarmed by emergency medical personnel. Carter was lifted out of the fireman's arms and was being lifted onto a stretcher and taken away. O'Neill fought the restraining hands, fighting to get to her side.
"Let me go," he snarled at the nurse attempting to lead him the other way, ignoring the burning of his legs and the ache that filled his chest.
"Sir," she began, but he broke free of her restraining grip and bolted to Carter's side. Those surrounding her didn't protest, but merely moved aside to allow him close proximity. All of a sudden, fatigue washed over him, knocking down the barriers that he had placed around his mind. He could feel the burns and cuts covering his arms and face, could feel the tiredness creeping up behind his eyes.
"It'll be alright, Carter," he said. He watched as her eyes flickered up to his.
"I know," she said, a faint smile gleaming in her eyes.
And then darkness claimed her.
0700 – September 11, 2006
Sam sat up in her bunk, the blanket falling off of her lap as she swung her legs over the edge of the mattress. Her feet rested against the cold cement floor and a small square of light gleamed through the window in the door.
Sam stood, running her fingers through her hair distractedly. She knew exactly what day it was. How could she not? Memories flickered through her mind's eye, each one more atrocious than the last. Fires; bloodied, mangled and burned corpses; the Pentagon in all its burning glory. She savagely shoved the thoughts from her mind, locking them in the box, shoving the lid closed once again.
She quickly changed clothes, pulling on a fresh set of BDUs and combing her hair properly.
A knock at her door brought her attention to the outside, yanking her back to the real world.
"Colonel Carter?" Teal'c's voice from outside called out.
"Come on in Teal'c," Sam answered. The door opened and the hulking shadow of one of her best friends filled the doorway. "General Landry requests your immediate presence," he said.
"Uh, okay," Sam replied, a little confused. She followed Teal'c out of her quarters and through the hallways. Sensing her mood, Teal'c remained quiet on the ride up to the Briefing Room, something for which Sam was grateful.
To her surprise, they stopped at the Gateroom level, however. Confusion riddling her thoughts, Sam followed Teal'c out of the doors and through the halls to the Gateroom.
When they entered, it was full of base personnel all standing at attention. General Landry was standing on the ramp looking even more solemn than usual. Sensing Teal'c's reassurance, Sam continued in, although a little apprehensively.
The doors opened again, and a final figure entered the Gateroom through the door, this time escorted by Daniel.
General O'Neill looked around himself as he entered, a small smile dancing around his lips as he took in the familiar surroundings. He and Daniel soon joined Teal'c and Sam, who were standing up at the front of the gathering. Sam glanced around, looking for Cam and Vala, and found them standing behind them.
"Thank you all for coming," General Landry said, looking out over the gathering of people. "Today is the fifth anniversary of a terrible day in the history of the United States of America. It was on this day that four horrendous acts of terror were instigated and, on three of the four accounts, followed through. Many lost their lives that day, all in the name of freedom. I wanted to commemorate those that fell this day, five years ago. To remember the heroes that died saving others. But not only those who died, but the heroes that lived as well. Too often, I feel as if we forget those that did not sacrifice their lives.
Together, we hold strong. Together, we will stand strong and stand united.
So, today, I ask you to remember. We will always remember. We shall never forget. We commemorate the fallen heroes, and mourn the dead. Together, we shall rise out of the ashes. We are not dead. We have not fallen. We are rebuilding. We still have hope. We still have freedom. Terror has not won. It never will."
Silence washed over the gathering as each person bowed their head, many of them closing their eyes. Finally, as if on cue, everyone all lifted their heads and began to file out, silence continuing to rein over them.
It wasn't until the six of them were sitting in the Commissary that anyone spoke.
"Why didn't you tell me about that?" Sam asked, feeling almost a little betrayed. "And besides, I thought that the ceremony wasn't until tonight," she stated, a little incredulous.
"Well," Cam began, looking a little uncomfortable. "First of all, this was a little bit of a last minute thing. We decided to do it last night, in fact…" Cameron trailed off.
"And why am I here?" Jack asked, looking around at his friends.
"You and Sam were the only ones that work here that were directly a part of the attacks," Daniel said rashly, saying it straight out. "We wanted you to be here, together, for the day and the ceremony.
Silence descended around the table again.
"Thank you," Sam finally said, breaking the silence. She looked up at O'Neill and she knew, in that instant, that what he had said to her those five years ago was true.
It was alright.