This chapter is dedicated each every single reader who has taken the time out of their day to read this story. It has been a long road, and I am more proud of this completed story than any other I have under my belt, which is in due in large part to each and every one of you. You have all been wonderful and lovely and I can't wait to collaborate with you on my future SG-1 stories.
Happy Valenship, shippers. It's been a fabulous ride! Thank you.
"Yo, Daniel, wait up!"
Colonel Mitchell slammed his locker shut and darted out of the locker room, leaving Teal'c as sole witness to the door's failure to latch. It swung open, revealing the faded photograph taped within. Teal'c inspected it for a brief moment before securing the door himself, silently filing away the fact that Colonel Mitchell more resembled his grandfather's good friend, than he did his grandfather. It was a curious thing, but one that did not bear scrutiny. It was not his place.
He followed his companions down the hall at a more leisurely pace. They were eager to reach O'Neill and Colonel Carter, but Teal'c knew well that their friends would not leave without them. He was proven correct when the entirety of their team merged, several meters from the elevator bay.
Colonel Mitchell was observing the pair most closely, though he attempted to remain inconspicuous, while Daniel Jackson spoke rapidly, and at great length. It seemed that Daniel Jackson had not fully conveyed his thoughts on the planned Taur'i lunar facility. Teal'c had witnessed the birth of the debate on the Tok'ra homeworld, following the execution of the final clone of the false god Ba'al, and it seemed he would bear audience to its conclusion, for O'Neill silenced him with a curt slice of his hand.
"Ack!" O'Neill delivered with his usual impatience. "We're done talking about this, Daniel! The name is the very last detail of the moon base, which means we don't even have to think about it yet!"
"We are not calling it the Icarus expedition. Didn't that guy die? Don't you think we should name it something more, I dunno... optimistic?"
Daniel Jackson did not respond, though he seemed to be fighting a smile, and while there was a finality to the General's tone, Teal'c suspected the debate would arise once more before night's end. Colonel Carter's grin assured him that she too had come to the same conclusion, though it disappeared when O'Neill turned to look at her.
"Can we go yet?" O'Neill's arm was slung casually over her shoulders, and it jostled her gently with an affectionate squeeze. And if Teal'c was not mistaken, he believed the position of her own arm behind the General's back indicated that her left hand was tucked into O'Neill's back pocket. It was a rare display of familiarity between his two friends, and a welcome sight within the halls of the SGC.
"I'm ready," Colonel Carter responded brightly. It was reassuring to see her in good spirits after being denied the opportunity to return to Atlantis. To Teal'c, it confirmed his suspicions as to precisely how much she had missed her true home. "Where do you guys want to go for lunch?"
"Do you still intend to purchase sustenance for all, O'Neill?" Teal'c queried.
O'Neill looked at him warily. "Yeeaahh…"
"I would like to taste the cuisine at a restaurant known as La Magnifique," he continued.
Colonel Carter's eyes brightened. "Isn't that the new place you told me about, Daniel?"
Daniel Jackson smirked. "Yup. Absolutely."
"Its food has been termed exquisite by the magazine provided by Major Davis… I believe it was entitled... Zagat."
"They're usually spot on with their reviews," Colonel Mitchell supplied. "I'm in!"
"So am I!" Daniel Jackson agreed.
O'Neill groaned. "And of course it just so happens to be the most expensive place in town..."
"You did kind of walk into that one, sir," Colonel Carter pointed out. Her eyes sparkled with amusement.
"Come on, Jack," Daniel Jackson argued. "Consider it a special occasion. We got the last of the Ba'als—"
"We think," Colonel Mitchell coughed.
"—and Sam's back from Atlantis. What better reason to celebrate?"
It was an infallible argument, and even O'Neill saw the logic. Particularly when Colonel Carter nudged him in suggestion. "Oh, all right," O'Neill yielded. "But someone else is springing for burgers when it turns out none of you actually like that French froo-froo crap."
And with that, he took his leave, pulling Colonel Carter along with him. She did not offer any resistance. Colonel Mitchell moved to follow, but was stopped by the hand Daniel Jackson placed on his chest. No words were exchanged, but Colonel Mitchell obeyed the signal to wait as O'Neill called for the elevator.
"Carter and I are gonna ride over," O'Neill stated. "We'll meet you there."
Daniel Jackson indicated his understanding, and gave the duo a wave they did not see. Upon their departure, Colonel Mitchell took the opportunity to leaned closer to Daniel Jackson, his voice both pensive and conspiratorial. "You know... I used to have a thing for Sam."
Teal'c lifted an eyebrow. He had not heard this detail before. But Daniel Jackson was less surprised. "Yeah, you and everyone else..." Daniel Jackson regarded Colonel Mitchell with a glance of amusement. "Not that strange, Cam."
Colonel Mitchell's features fell slightly. No doubt he had intended his revelation to cause more disturbance than was received. "Yeah, I guess so."
Daniel Jackson smirked. "You gonna try to make a pass at her?" His tone clearly indicated that he knew the answer to his own question. If asked, Teal'c would agree that the disclosed information was unlikely to give rise to any future conflict. After all, they had been working well together for more than two years and there was no animosity between SG-1's former leaders.
Colonel Mitchell glanced down the corridor at the lingering pair, and the chime of the arriving elevator. "Nah. It was just a thing a long time ago."
He paused, his gaze turning contemplative as he looked back to the linger couple. "Besides, you don't mess with perfection."
Teal'c followed the path of his glance to observe the couple in question. They had stepped into an empty car, and had utilized the privacy to their benefit. Before the elevator doors closed, Teal'c glimpsed a stolen kiss. The arm O'Neill had draped over Collonel Carter's shoulders had curled inward, turning her to face him. Her chest brushed his, and while her left hand remained in his pocket—for it was there, as Teal'c had predicted—her right had risen to rest against his side.
Their lips touched in a gentle moment of tenderness, and Teal'c let his gaze fall to the side. While it did his heart good to see his friends content, such moments were not meant to be witnessed by him. Instead he turned his gaze to his companions, who had similarly found other points of interest as the elevator departed.
Teal'c allowed his features to crease into a close-lipped, but no less pleased smile.