Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

New Fic: The Greatest Exception

Title: The Greatest Exception
Universe: Stargate: SG-1
Character/Pairings: Sam Carter, team friendships, Sam/Jack
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Major character death, angst, fluff.
Spoilers: Sam’s latest assignment from Stargate: Atlantis, “Enemy at the Gate”; odds and ends from all of SG-1.
Word count: 7,553
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Beta: pellucid, who makes the writing world go ‘round. As ever, all errors are mine.
Summary: Four times Sam and Jack didn’t get married and one time they did.


When Cam finds her, Sam is standing in the control room at the SGC, staring out at the gate. He steps up beside her and follows her gaze; the gate room hasn’t changed in all the time Cam has known it, but he is sure Sam can see every scar that has developed over the years.

Cam shifts to look at Sam, and she accepts his scrutiny without comment. She is five years older than she was the last time he saw her, though probably infinitely wiser. The reports Cam has read of the General Hammond tell of bravery and discovery and exploits that would be heroic if they weren’t conducted under the command of Colonel Samantha Carter. But new wrinkles and lines mar her face, and she is letting her hair go gray; the corners of her mouth tell a better story than the heavy weight of the medals on her chest.

She stayed away too long and grew old in that time, and Cam can’t decide if he wants to wrap her in his arms and hold her, comfort against the injustice of life that brought her here today, or chastise her for showing up, since her presence only emphasizes how long she’s been gone.

Cam settles on saying, “He’d be glad you could make it.” And it’s true. Once, Daniel Jackson had friends, and when he did, Sam was high among them. Cam can’t decide if Jackson is watching them honor his life and mourn his death by pancreatic cancer from an ethereal plane or if he’s well and truly dead this time, but either way, Cam thinks that Jackson would have wanted Sam to be here today.

Jackson was cruel like that sometimes.

Sam doesn’t respond directly. She crosses her arms over her chest, and the fluorescent light catches the eagles perched on her shoulders. “You know they’re going to send him to Abydos,” she says.

Cam nods. The gate hasn’t connected to Abydos since the final showdown with Anubis, but there isn’t an old-timer who doesn’t believe they’ll be able to open the wormhole long enough to send Daniel’s body through. Cam doesn’t know what to believe, but he isn’t going to be the one to squash anyone’s hopes; reality might do it for him. “Yeah,” he says.

“It’ll work,” she says, and Cam turns to face her at the sudden confidence in her voice.

“You seem pretty sure of that,” he says.

Sam smiles, dropping her arms to her sides. She glances at Cam, eyes alight, before turning her gaze back toward the gate. “He belongs there,” she says. Her smile remains, and Cam wonders how many stories she has of her time on SG-1 before he joined; he has read the mission reports and heard tales from Sam and Jackson alike, but there is something soft about the look on her face that makes him think of the moments he holds closest to his heart. Cam might have, but Sam was never one to share those tales.

There are some things Cam doesn’t know, will never know, about their time together. Most of the time, that’s okay.

“I met Daniel for the first time after my very first trip through the gate,” Sam says. “I remember standing there—we wore so much gear back then, and it was heavy as hell, but all I could think about was how the event horizon rippled.” She shakes her head, and Cam thinks she is laughing at her own naiveté. She turns to look at him briefly. “It’s still the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” she says.

Cam doesn’t have a response to that. He thinks the stargate is awesome, and still goes around thanking people for the privilege of having been a member of the flagship team and getting to travel through the gate, but he’s always thought of it as technology. A means to an end.

“Jack shoved me through,” Sam continues, and Cam has to look away from her face. He doesn’t want to see the sadness in her eyes as she recounts what is to others a mythical day, the beginning of greatness.

“And I’m sick and wanting to punch my new CO and there’s Daniel, with this terrible haircut and round glasses, looking all for the world like he was exactly where he should be.” Sam shakes her head. “Of course, things got crazy fast, but that first moment—.” She trails off, drawing her mouth into a thin line before closing her eyes and rolling her head back against the collar of her dress uniform.

“God, I miss them,” Sam says.

Cam doesn’t know all the details of the falling out between the members of the original dream team. There are rumors, reasonable guesses, but none of them has ever been corroborated. All Cam knows is that Sam started taking longer and longer missions, General O’Neill retired to a lake in Minnesota, Teal’c returned to his people, and Jackson wasted away alone in his office.

Of all of them, Cam had known Sam best, but when he had asked her about what had happened, she had shaken her head and said she’d speak to him when she was next in the galaxy.

Cam says, “I know General O’Neill is here.”

In Cam’s world, there are no hurts severe enough to sever the bonds of friendship or family. He’s bailed cousins out of jail at odd hours for petty crimes and misdemeanors, broken international and interplanetary laws for his team, and been written up for insubordination more times than he can count; if shooting first could resurrect lost friends, Cam would do it. But he cannot pass on to Sam his preference or what he thinks is his wisdom. He can only stand and wait for her response.

Sam nods. “I know,” she says, again stopping to stare out the gate. “But we decided a long time ago that it would be better if we didn’t speak.”

It has been a decade, if not more, since he last broached the topic, but Cam cannot fathom a reason why two people he knows had been close—he can’t forget the way Sam used to light up at the prospect of seeing O’Neill, once upon a time—would let so much time go between them without a word. Why they would pass the funeral of their dearest friend without so much as a hello.

“I figured,” Cam says. “But I don’t know why.”

She shakes her head. “Does it matter?” Sam asks, finally turning to look at him. Cam watches her take in his own gray hair, his bum leg.

He shrugs. “You loved him once,” Cam says.

Sam laughs then. “Too much,” she says, a wry smile gracing her face. “He asked me to marry him.”

Cam can’t quite keep the surprise off his face, not at her revelation, but at the events that apparently followed. Everyone on the base had banked on those two getting together when all was said and done, and even if Cam wasn’t in on the pool, he knew who had the most invested. He says, “And then you left the planet.”

She nods. “I was scared and he was stubborn and we fought.” Sam closes her eyes again. “And when you love someone that much, know them that well, you know exactly how to hurt them. And we did.”

And so she left; left O’Neill, left Earth, left the Milky Way and its denizens to their own devices. She knew O’Neill well enough to know he would follow the same course of action and Cam can’t help but think that when they tore their bond apart, they did more than shatter SG-1. They left Vala and Teal’c without their closest friends, and they left Daniel Jackson to die alone.

But Cam can’t condone Sam’s implied statement that loving someone less, that leaving because of the hurt presence might cause, is a more responsible action. He shakes his head. Time to end the madness, if he can.

“Anyone ever tell you to stop being an idiot?” Cam says

That gets Sam’s attention. She levels a glare at him that might have cowed her subordinates, but Cam knows her well enough to think her anger is an easy facade.

“You miss him,” Cam says, quietly restating her own words. “And if we can open the gate to Abydos so Jackson can commune with the spirits of his family, you can walk to the VIP quarters and say hello.”

Sam’s gaze shifts, and the ire that flashed fades into something Cam might call fear. “But—,” she begins.

Cam reaches out and puts an arm around her shoulders. It’s awkward and uncomfortable with tailored jackets and all the brass between them, but it feels good to hold her, to remind her that she is not the only one for whom affection can weather decades of disuse.

“No buts,” Cam says. “Do you remember what I said about faith?”

Sam nods, the memory flickering across her face. It doesn’t matter what you believe; it matters that you believe.

Cam nods with her. “Today, you’re taking on faith that we can dial out to a planet without a stargate. So if we’re already accomplishing the impossible, it’s a good day to keep trying.”

Sam rests against him. “That’s a simplistic way to think about it,” she says, and he can see her turning the thought over in her head. She’s a genius, but Cam thinks that it may be time to dumb things down a bit.

He shrugs. “Is it working?” he asks.

Cam can feel Sam’s nod against the fabric of his dress blues. “I left things too long,” she says finally. “Then again, so did Jack.” She pauses for a second. “So did you,” Sam says.

“I know,” Cam responds, straightening up and forcing her to do the same. The old could-have-beens and should-have-dones could keep them here for another lifetime, but he won’t let her do that. “It doesn’t matter, does it?”

Sam shakes her head. “No,” she says.

“Then you have your answer,” Cam says.

“I guess I do,” Sam responds. She turns on her heel and leaves without another word. Cam looks out at the gate: naquadah, trinium, and faith that someone is waiting on the other side.



It is four in the morning when the phone rings. Daniel is awake and working and would resent the interruption if it didn’t fill him with dread. Even in his world, where time waits for no one, the small hours of the morning are reserved for the foolish or the dying. He hasn’t had friends in the former category in decades. He answers the phone.

Sam is on the other end, her voice strained and quiet. “It’s Jack,” she says. Of course it’s Jack. Because Jack is the one who treated his body like crap for forty years and ate like a teenager and had bypass surgery before he was sixty. Because Jack is the one who had made them all forget it had ever happened as he relaxed in his retirement.

Of course it’s Jack, and Daniel can hear the other foregone conclusion in Sam’s voice.

Streetlights, traffic, even at this unfortunate hour, and Daniel thinks he should get over the idea that he and Sam are the only ones who work through the night or rise at odd hours. The Honda that cuts him off is a testament to that, and he hears himself say “Fuck,” even though he’s not one for road rage or even swearing. Fuck the Marines for his bad language, and fuck Jack for being inconsiderate enough to have anything wrong with him in the first place.

The military hospital isn’t far away, but he has to flash his ID at the checkpoint before he can park his car, and he isn’t so arrogant to think that the airman (or soldier or whatever) at the booth should know who he is, but he wishes he’d hurry up, because with all of SG-1’s good work, the few who could have helped before are gone and there’s no magic—godly, ancient, or otherwise—to be had today.

Just biology and old age.

He slides the car into the closest spot he can find, slamming the door as he climbs out. He can see that he’s left the lights on, and the battery will be dead later, and he thinks that will be a problem if he has to take Sam home—her car isn’t here, they rode in an ambulance, he’s sure—but he isn’t turning around to turn them off. Jack had been hassling him to get something less than twenty years old so he wouldn’t find himself stranded, but Daniel doesn’t drive much anyway, and Jack’s the one who indulged in cars and motorcycles. Just like Sam.

She’ll probably yell at him for the lights later. They’ll take a cab or call a car—probably a car, because even if he’s just Dr. Jackson, bona fide crackpot and sometimes miracle worker, she’s still Colonel Samantha Carter, Commander of the General Hammond, on the fast-track to everywhere, and—always a whisper because she’s a ranking officer rumored to have destroyed planets in the blink of an eye—did you know she’s General O’Neill’s girlfriend?

Sam can get a car. She can get an entourage. But all she ever wanted was science, the stars, and Jack. And by virtue of fate—or perhaps the luck that has guided them well right up until today—she got all three, though Daniel doesn’t pretend to understand the arrangement between his friends. Her tours take her beyond communications range, and she lives on Earth only three months out of each year. But in the five years since the whole whatever got started, Daniel has seen a certain calm to the both of them, and he finds himself somewhere between jealousy and confusion that he thinks feels a bit like contentment. He’s not happy, but he can enjoy their happiness, however they find it.

The doors to Emergency are cold beneath his hands as he pushes through them. The fluorescent light makes him blink, once, twice, and he shakes the light out of his eyes and tries to clear his head.

Sam stands at the admittance desk, back ramrod straight, hands folded. She’s Colonel Carter here, even though she was clearly pulled abruptly from bed. Her hair hangs in a tangle around her face and she’s wearing something sleeveless, short, and satiny that Jack probably loved. She shoved her feet into old duty boots—hers or Jack’s, Daniel can’t tell, but though the laces are worn the black leather shines.

Her face is tired and drawn, and it’s all Daniel can do not to turn around and walk out and erase the last fifteen minutes from his life. Ascend again, that’ll do it; forget Jack O’Neill or Samantha Carter or the whole damned program if it means he doesn’t have to have this conversation, if he doesn’t have to remember it tomorrow.

Daniel shrugs out of his coat as he approaches Sam, placing it around her shoulders. Jack may have liked Sam’s outfit, but here, there’s just Daniel and the nurses and the airmen (soldiers, seamen, something) and not one of them who should see her like this. Sam nods and pulls the jacket on.

He places a hand on her shoulder. He’s not good at this. It was usually him who died, usually Jack and Sam who comforted each other. Daniel doesn’t miss dying all the time, but he’s glad he was never around for the aftermath. The only thing about it he ever heard was from Teal’c, who said it all: “The time following your departure was difficult.”

Yeah. Except Daniel had nine lives and the rest of them only get one. Fuck fate, too, while he’s at it.

Sam reaches up to hold his hand, grasping it tightly. Her fingers seem frail, though when he saw her two days ago he would have sworn he hadn’t seen her as vibrant in years. Some scientific discovery her crew had made was destined to change the nature of physics as they knew it, and Jack had joked that the Nobel would finally be hers. She had giggled into his shoulder and changed the subject; Cassie’s boyfriend, the Jaffa nation, Jack’s current fix-it-up project.

“Hi,” Daniel says, because he doesn’t know what else to say. “What’s up?”

“They’re—.” She waves her free hand, gesturing toward the closed doors that lead to the treatment areas. “It—.” She stops, bringing her hand up to her face, fingers spread so she covers her mouth and eyes.

The doors open and a doctor that seems familiar steps through. She approaches the desk, stopping at Sam’s side. Gives Daniel a glance of acknowledgement—familiar, yes, but not enough to know who he is not enough to include him in whatever she’s going to say. “Colonel Carter,” the doctor says.

Sam turns on her heel and brings her hands down to her sides. A perfect about-face to attention, though Daniel thinks she has no idea she’s doing it.

“I am sorry to tell you that the damage to General O’Neill’s heart was too severe.” Sam doesn’t move, but Daniel sees tears in her eyes through the mask of good officer she wears in this place. “He passed away just moments ago.”

Daniel lets go of her shoulder, stalks away, and if there’s a crash as his hand goes through glass, well, it’s Jack that taught him that the first time Daniel didn’t die, or maybe he got it from Teal’c or Mitchell or anyone but Sam, because she’s still standing there, stock still in her negligee and work boots, combat-ready and dressed to impressed. He wonders, because he shouldn’t, if they had a good night.

An orderly (airman, soldier, tinker, tenor, tailor, spy) catches Daniel around his shoulders before he can do more damage to the building or himself—shards of glass in his knuckles, but he’s had worse. He’s not dead this time.

In the background, the nurse asking if there’s someone she can call, the next of kin, perhaps? Sam’s response, tone-mute and perfect. “No,” she says. “I’m his—.”

And then her voice breaks; she’s his everything, but not his girlfriend or his partner or his wife. There was never a word for them, not one they liked. She’s just Sam, and there’s no one to call.



Jack slides in across from Carter at her favorite diner in the Springs. He’s told her a thousand times he’s not much of a fan of the place, but she always smiles and nods and insists on coming back every time she’s in town. And he indulges her, just like he follows Daniel to that grungy Chinese spot even though it’s ten feet away from the best restaurant in the city. If he were feeling sentimental, he would shrug and ask, “What else are friends for?” Instead he gives her a glare as she peruses the plastic menu even though she’s going to order waffles and a side of fresh fruit. She already has her coffee.

Carter drops the menu and gives him a grin. “Hey, sir,” she greets him, as if they do this all the time. It’s actually been almost a year since he’s seen her, though she managed to send a few postcards from the other side of the galaxy. He’s long since stopped asking how she pulls it off.

“I hate the coffee here,” he says.

“Yes, sir,” she says, eyes sparkling at him. She looks surprisingly chipper for an early morning, even for her, and he tugs on her menu to look at her more directly. Yup, happier than usual, at least as far as he can tell.

Jack narrows his eyes at her. “Is there a guy?” he asks. It’s a reasonable conclusion; the last time she had a long leave, there was a guy—a widowed chemist from UC-Boulder—and they’d hit it off pretty well. She’d been smiley then, and he’d teased her right up until she’d turned up at the diner pissed because Bob or Barry or whoever (it was Benjamin Calliday, and he had liked hockey and Jack had liked him) couldn’t handle the thought of her being gone for six months without contact. She’d muttered something about modern women before ordering her waffles, and nothing more was said on the subject. Jack figured his role was to be sympathetic and feed her, so he kept to himself the fact that he probably wouldn’t put up with a magically disappearing girlfriend, either.

Carter snorts into her coffee before rolling her eyes. “Not this time,” she says, but she’s still grinning, so if there’s not a guy, there’s something. Actually, the something might be why she’s on Earth on a seemingly-unscheduled visit, but he’s out of the loop these days and has no idea what it might be.

“It was a good guess,” he responds, because it was.

She nods at that, though there’s a look like she doesn’t appreciate the implication that she might not be happy about something else. Still, she doesn’t offer any further information. He figures she’s going to torment him for a while before giving up her info, possibly as payback for the assumption. She’s always been sneaky; he may have taught her that.

“How have you been?” Carter asks, finally seeming to remember that they have catching up to do. “Seeing anybody?”

He shrugs; turnabout is fair play. “Nothing serious,” he says, waving his hand idly in the air. “You know.”

Carter laughs at that. “Very articulate, sir,” she says, narrowing her eyes. “I remember something about an Elaine?”

“Carter,” he says, but that tone of voice lost any impact with her right around the time he promoted her to Lieutenant Colonel. Which was twelve years ago now, and that thought’s kind of scary. She raises her eyebrows, waiting. Some days, Jack reconsiders the value in passing on his knowledge of good and evil; sometimes Carter is on the wrong side of the fence. He huffs at her. “It didn’t work out,” he says.

Another eyebrow raise. Fine, fine, he’s sharing. “I may have been a jerk,” he says, which is true. It may have been because, like Carter, he’s really quite happy on his own, doing whatever he pleases. He teases her about her dates, she returns the favor, but he’s pretty sure that in the long run, they’ll be sharing rockers at the old folks’ home—well, she’ll be visiting his rocker at the old folks’ home—gossiping over waffles and enjoying their singular lives.

They tried the dating thing with each other, actually, not long after he left for D.C. Dinner and drinks and the whole nine yards, but they both burst out laughing at the moment when he should’ve been leaning in to kiss her goodnight, and that had been that. She’d kindly shoved him off her porch and invited him for breakfast the next time he was in town.

“I see,” Carter says, smiling, and seems to drop the subject. “How’s everything else?”

Well, his knees hurt and his back hurts and he looks and feels old these days, but Daniel is around to harass with impunity, Teal’c keeps having grandchildren, and no one has blown up the planet, so Jack figures he can’t complain. He does, anyway, at least to Daniel, but he figures that if he’s already being straight with Carter, he might as well continue. Easier that way.

“Not bad,” Jack says. “Nothing new, but nothing bad.” Which is pretty much how he likes it; he coaches little league hockey, and volunteers at the elementary school, and wanders past the SGC from time to time to give advice and annoy the staff. Loathe as he is to admit it, he’s past the days where constant peril works as part of his regular routine.

“Daniel tells me you’ve been redoing the cabin,” Carter says, and Jack is trying to figure out when she saw Daniel. Maybe in one of their super-secret (and super-confusing) trans-galactic communications that’s open to people who still work on super-secret trans-galactic things. He doesn’t miss it, except when he hears they’re in closer contact with each other than they are with him.

“Yeah,” Jack says. “Figured the deck could use an upgrade, and the central air was making weird noises.”

“It has always made weird noises,” Carter says.

“Not always,” Jack responds.

She nods emphatically, still smiling secretively. She cannot be this chipper about home repairs; he’s not even sure she still owns a house. “Always,” Carter says, as if her three visits to Minnesota were enough to make her an expert.

“Well, I’m fixing it,” Jack says, and he is. Hired a contractor and everything; whether the AC has been broken for eternity or not, it’s been a while since he’s put work into the place. Keeps him busy. But enough already; he knows Carter doesn’t care, even if she’s giving all the right signals. He learned a long time ago to read between her lines.

“Okay, spill,” he says, leaning forward on his elbows and catching her gaze.

“Huh?” Carter says.

“There is something going on,” Jack says. “You say there’s no guy, which I buy, but there’s something. So spill.”

He’s got her. He can tell by the quirk to her lip, the way she blinks. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he understands it’s a privilege to know someone so well, and some day before the rocking chairs he should tell her that. Right now, however, he just wants the dirt. He purses his lips. “I won’t let you order until you tell me.”

This time she doesn’t hide her grin, and back in the days when he thought he was in love with her, it was the thing about her he loved most. He’s still pretty fond of it. “I’m being promoted,” she says, ducking her head. “And taking command of the SGC.”

Damn. “Brigadier General Samantha Carter,” he says. Damn. “Congratulations.” He could say something lame like, Who would’ve imagined?, but they all imagined it at one point or another. And it’s time, anyway; she’s been on the front lines of Stargate Command for twenty years, which is twelve more than Jack gave.

“Thanks,” Carter says, looking up to flag the waitress, who nods in their direction. They have to wait a little longer—probably as punishment for making her wait so long already. Jack would really like breakfast. Maybe pancakes?

But first. “Sam,” he says, and he’s not good at this, but she deserves to hear it anyway, and he’s old enough to just get over the inane masculine fear of emotional honesty. “Really proud of you,” Jack says.

Carter ducks her head. He hopes she’s not crying, but he figures that’s unlikely. That was never Carter’s style. “Couldn’t have done it without you, sir,” she says.

Yeah, well. Jack doesn’t think so; she would always have been pretty cool without him. Still, it’s kind of nice to hear. “Backatcha,” he says. And that’s really all there is to it.

Finally, the waitress shows up, interrupting the moment. Jack’s okay with that. “What’ll it be?”

Carter glances up, looking at him and not the waitress. “I’ll have the waffles,” she says.



It has been ten days since General Hammond officially declared Colonel O’Neill and Harry Maybourne Missing in Action. As Teal’c understands it, this means that the SGC will expend no further resources to find the men and that their families and loved ones must consider them dead.

It is difficult, even among the Jaffa, to face death without the closure of a body, to know that a friend or comrade in arms has simply been lost to the chance of war. Teal’c has engaged in the rituals prescribed for such a loss, fasting for a week and seeking peace in kel’no’reem, turning inward to find the strength to bear the departures of O’Neill and Daniel Jackson in such rapid succession.

The Tau’ri have no such ritual. When a friend or comrade dies in battle or in old age, his body is committed to the fire or the soil, a marker placed for all to see. And yet when someone simply disappears, there is nothing to do but persevere; the Tau’ri know not how to bury a man not solidly dead.

They must learn, Teal’c knows, or risk becoming lost in their pain; the personnel of the SGC have spent the last ten days quietly going about their work, waiting for an unspoken sign that will permit them to return to their usual routines, permit them to find joy in the daily explorations that guide their lives.

And this will not happen until something familiar settles back into place and SG-1 resumes travel through the stargate. How this will happen has been established: General Hammond appointed a young marine to SG-1 and Major Carter will gain command of the unit and be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel pending adequate performance in the field. Teal’c does not doubt that she will excel at this endeavor as she has at all others.

But Major Carter has been on compassionate leave since General Hammond announced the change in O’Neill’s status. She had been advised to take some time—a phrase Teal’c understood to mean that she could not return the belligerent woman she had been when O’Neill and Harry Maybourne were first lost through the portal—and so had departed the room and the base without a word.

Teal’c remembers well her words to him: she could not bear to lose O’Neill so soon after Daniel Jackson. And so he approaches General Hammond to request permission to leave the base in search of his friend; he knows where she is and believes she is in need of a guiding hand. General Hammond looks at him with the type of gaze Teal’c reserves for his son, and gives him the rare opportunity to depart the SGC unaccompanied.

He finds Major Carter at her home in Colorado Springs, and though there is an array of cleaning supplies scattered through her living room, Teal’c senses upon entering that she has failed to clean anything at all.

“You are missed at the SGC,” Teal’c states as Major Carter guides him to a seat.

Major Carter nods, the skin at her eyes tightening as she acknowledges his comment. “That’s nice,” she says, picking at a string that has come loose from her sofa. Teal’c knows he can say no more; he is here to listen to her if she would like to speak, he will offer comfort in any form she wishes. But he cannot tell her to return, or ask, for this is neither a matter of duty nor vocation, and Teal’c will not attempt to sway her heart.

He watches her as she adjusts to his presence. She stops fussing with the string, and then starts again. She tucks her feet under her, and then untucks them. Teal’c has never known her to be uncomfortable in her skin, but now she cannot seem to sit with any ease. Her voice breaks the silence. “Can I get you a glass of water?”

“No, thank you,” Teal’c replies.

“Oh. Okay.” Major Carter settles back against the sofa cushions, bringing a knee up to her chin. At this moment, she reminds Teal’c of the younger girls on Chulak in the moments when they would cast aside their play and think about who they wished to become. There was a sadness to their contemplation, Teal’c recalls, as they realized that they could not always be the girls they were; the future brought a lifetime of difficulty masked in joy.

Teal’c does not know how long they sit together, Major Carter curled around herself like a child, Teal’c watching over her. “What they must think of me,” she finally said, quiet desperation evident in her words if not her tone.

Teal’c creased his brow. Of the many things he expected Major Carter might say, this was not among them. “I do not understand,” he said.

She snorts, her body jerking against itself. “I haven’t exactly been the model officer lately,” she says.

“Indeed not,” Teal’c replies. “But the circumstances of the last several months have been difficult. It is understandable.”

The look of sadness that passes over Major Carter’s face is not one of loss, but pity. “Not really,” she says. Before Teal’c can interject to counter her claims, Major Carter raises a hand to stop him. “I know what you’re going to say,” she says. “Between Daniel and the colonel, I have every right to be irrational and grieve.”

“Yes,” Teal’c says. “Is this not the case?”

She shakes her head against her leg, tightening her arms around herself. “The military doesn’t work like that, Teal’c,” she says.

“I have seen no evidence that you are not permitted to mourn your fallen comrades,” Teal’c says. He thinks of the ceremonies he has attended upon the deaths of others, of the food and drink and camaraderie the Tau’ri share when they are joined in loss.

“Sure,” Major Carter says. “You can have a drink at the wake and go to the firing range and shoot holes in a piece of paper or take a day off for self-reflection.” Her voice carries a sharpness that Teal’c has not before heard from her; he recognizes it as one of O’Neill’s favored forms of communication: sarcasm. “But,” Major Carter continues, “heaven forbid you actually mourn.”

“I do not understand why this would be forbidden,” Teal’c states. “Is it not more beneficial to acknowledge the feelings within you?”

This time, his words bring tears to Major Carter’s eyes, though she blinks them away before a less-astute observer would see them. “You’re not supposed to have feelings,” she says. “Feelings cause favoritism. And that gets people killed.”

Teal’c has heard this argument before; Doctor Frasier explained to him following the za’tarc testing the military’s prohibitions about lovers serving in combat. But he has never heard the argument extend to friendship, and Teal’c does not believe it does. “I would not say that the bonds established within SG-1 were cause for concern, despite their strength.”

She remains silent. “I would argue,” Teal’c says, “that the strength of those bonds and the community we formed as friends is that which made us most effective.”

Major Carter ducks her head, shielding her eyes from his view, but still does not respond. Though he did not intend to lecture her, Teal’c believes there are truths she must hear if she is to return—an outcome he must encourage. “No one doubts that Daniel Jackson and O’Neill were your friends,” he says. “And no one will doubt your ability to lead if you acknowledge that your feelings upon their loss are profound.”

“But I didn’t do this when we lost Daniel,” she says, though Teal’c must strain to hear, for her words are muffled by the fabric of her trousers.

“And you believe the others at Stargate Command will infer from your actions that your feelings for O’Neill are greater than those for Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c states.

She remains silent against his words, face turned away.

“You are not a lesser soldier if that is the case, Major Carter,” he says. “And no one will think poorly of you if you do not think poorly of yourself.”

This time, Major Carter raises her head, staring straight at him with red-rimmed eyes. “How the hell do I do that?” she asks, a trace of the anger that forced her removal from the SGC evident in her voice. “How is falling—how is—fuck. How is it not a betrayal of everything I swore to uphold?”

Teal’c rises then, moving from his seat across from her to the one beside her. The small couch is crowded—it is meant for two of average size, and together, they overwhelm it. He does not move as she settles against him.

“Does not your Declaration of Independence honor the right to happiness?” Teal’c asks, though he knows the answer. He does not wait for her to respond. “And do you not fight to uphold the principles of your nation, just as I fight to uphold those of my own?” This time, Teal’c waits for her nod, a small, jerky movement.

“If O’Neill is one who made you happy, whether as a friend or a comrade or simply as a man, there is no shame in your actions,” Teal’c says. “Nor is there hypocrisy.”

He begins to rise from the couch then, as he has nothing further to say. She must take time to arrive at these conclusions on her own; his words are merely guideposts along her journey. As he stands, he feels Major Carter’s small hand rest against him. “Teal’c,” she says quietly, grasping his arm. “Please stay a while.”

Teal’c sits back down, crowding against his friend. “Of course,” he says.



Sam is getting married to General O’Neill, and Vala decided a while ago to keep her opinion on that one to herself. In the privacy of her own head, she finds the whole thing a bit bizarre, really. Daniel told her that she would get it if she knew their history, but Vala wasn’t privy to their apparently obnoxious decade-long pseudo-courtship and Daniel hasn’t gone into much detail, so Vala has been left with her own thoughts on the matter. And it’s weird.

First of all, Vala never thought of Sam as the marrying type. Far too independent a girl, that one, with the motorcycle and the failed engagements and the job shooting aliens to prove it. Then again, General O’Neill—“Call me Jack,” he had said at some team dinner, but Vala didn’t think taking him up on that one was a good move—wasn’t exactly Mr. Domestic, with the motorcycle and the failed marriage and the job supporting people who shot aliens. Vala didn’t think eight years beating up the Goa’uld was much grounds for a romance, and she’d seen Speed 2: relationships borne from stressful situations never worked out.

More important, they didn’t even live on the same planet. Vala wasn’t sure, but she figured one of the main parts of a successful marriage was actually spending time together. Vala almost never saw Sam and the general together, and when she did, they were creepily hands-off; Vala figured if they were getting married they must have touched each other at some point (she didn’t take that thought any further, because this was Sam and General O’Neill and even Vala had boundaries about what she did and did not want to think about), but she’d never seen proof. Vala wasn’t one to judge, but if she ever got married again, she’d want to be able to touch her spouse in public. What was the fun in having a dedicated sex friend if you couldn’t even hold hands?

She had asked Sam about the whole thing on one of their rare girls’ days out—Sam had announced her engagement, and Vala insisted on shopping: new lingerie was important for new marriages. Sam didn’t mind the excursion nearly as much as she pretended to, at least not as far as Vala could tell, and so Vala had no qualms about cornering her by the lace panties and asking as sweetly as she could, “Why are you marrying him?”

Even if she didn’t get a straight answer, Vala would cherish the look of shocked horror on Sam’s face for a very long time. Where was her camera when she needed it?

“What?” Sam asked.

Vala crossed her arms over her chest. “I don’t understand why you’re marrying him,” Vala repeated.

Sam narrowed her eyes. “Because I love him,” she said. But Vala figured that was a dumb reason; people who loved each other didn’t get married all the time, and people who didn’t love each other did, and, really, the Tau’ri were peculiar about it in ways she couldn’t even begin to fathom.

“That’s a bad explanation,” Vala said. “You’ve been in love with him for years and never said boo about marriage.” Sam sighed, mirroring Vala’s body language by crossing her own arms. “Don’t get defensive,” Vala said. “It’s just a question.”

“It’s complicated, Vala,” Sam said.

Well, obviously. Vala raised her eyebrows; she had learned from Teal’c that sometimes silence was the most effective way of drawing someone out. It would have been helpful to know this during her thieving career.

Sam uncrossed her arms and ran a hand through her hair. “Jack—.” She trailed off, frowning slightly. “I could go either way,” Sam said finally. “It isn’t going to change much of anything.”

No, they would still be hard-headed crazy people who never saw each other. “But,” Vala said.

“But,” Sam echoed, nodding. “It’s important to Jack.”

“And you’re just going to go along with it?” Vala asked.

Sam laughed at that, and Vala wondered if her tone of incredulity was a little too incredulous. It made sense from a certain perspective, or it might, if Vala knew General O’Neill at all, which she didn’t.

“No,” Sam said, smiling. “We talked about it and he left it up to me.” Her smile turned private, and Vala figured that was the end of the non-explanation. But Sam continued. “I am happy—was happy—with the way things are. And so is Jack. “

“But,” Vala prodded again.

Sam shrugged. “He likes the idea of family and permanence, even though he knows this doesn’t guarantee a thing.” No. Sam could be eaten by a space dragon on her next deep space mission for all they knew; marriage ensured nothing. Vala could tell them horror stories, but she figured they had enough of their own to tide them over.

There was a long pause as Sam collected her thoughts. Vala figured this one should be easy, but what did she know?

“I love him,” Sam said. “I was already planning to spend the rest of my life with him, and he wants this. So why not?” As Teal’c might say, why not, indeed?

Really, Vala wasn’t entirely convinced, but Sam was dead set on the whole thing, and Vala was not one to stand in the way of true love or sheer stubbornness. So, lingerie shopping long completed, Vala was dutifully heading off to the local justice of the peace to witness Sam’s wedding. Which they were obviously doing wrong: weren’t weddings supposed to be big parties with floofy dresses and bands and drunken groomsmen? Daniel had assured her that he would not get drunk at the restaurant they were heading to later, and that if he gave a toast, it would not be meandering or saccharine. Vala didn’t believe him, at least not about the toast.

Still, this was what Sam wanted, and Daniel seemed to approve. TheTau’ri were a little strange about behaviors for things like this—some things were important right up until they weren’t, and far be it from Vala to determine which moment was which.

When Vala and Daniel arrived, they found the rest of the wedding party seated in an anteroom. A good collection of friends, however small: Teal’c in his fedora, Cameron in his dress uniform, Cassandra Frasier in a dress Vala was going to say nothing about. “Just family,” Sam had said when they had announced the whole to-do, and so here they were.

The general and Sam stood together in a corner. They were both in Air Force blue, though Vala had lobbied hard for a white dress and tuxedo. “Tradition,” she had said before she realized how little that meant. Sam had been emphatic in her refusal, and the general seemed content to go along with whatever Sam wanted, and there they stood, all Colonel Carter and General O’Neill.

They turned when Vala and Daniel entered. “Good,” the general said. “Now we can get started.”

“Anxious, Jack?” Daniel asked, and though his face was serious, even Vala could hear the teasing note in his voice.

The general smiled at that, a real honest smile that made him look a lot more like some guy named Jack than the hard-assed general they all knew. He glanced down at Sam with a gaze of open affection Vala hadn’t imagined him capable of. “No,” the general said. “Not at all.”

Vala didn’t know Sam could look that happy—it was really more gooey, actually—as she took the general’s hand in hers and reached up to kiss him.

It was sweet, but Vala had to rearrange countless ideas now that she’d seen them together, and this was hardly the time. There was a whole ceremony to get through, and Daniel had to make a toast. Then Vala would reconsider the Sam and the general and Tau’ri inattention to detail.

“Hey,” Vala said, pulling the couple out of their embrace. “You have to wait for after the wedding for that.” Six sets of eyes fell on her. “What?” Vala said, shrugging as dramatically as she could. “It’s tradition.”




( 55 comments — Leave a comment )
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
Jul. 9th, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
Holy crap... this is so good. And it totally made me cry at different parts, so I'll break up my comment....

Part I:

Oh CAM. His love and affection for Sam and the way you slowly revealed it killed me. And Jack and Sam's fight breaking up SG-1... I can see it.

One minor quibble: He thinks the stargate is awesome, and still goes around thanking people for the privilege of having been a member of the flagship team and getting to travel through the gate, but he’s always through of it as technology I think you mean "thought" instead of "through." And what a great point, btw, how Sam sees it as something more than anyone else. I can see both Daniel and Sam viewing the stargate in ways very different than anyone else.

Part II:

Sam... The image of her standing there in her negligee and boots is just so vivid, and Daniel's pain and his snarkiness at his own inability to die... just yes. Really great Daniel POV, and I always find him so hard to get a grasp on. But your Daniel? Excellent.

And yes, Sam is Jack's everything and there's no word... and I'm gonna go cry in the corner. Thanks for that ;)

Part III:

I love Jack and Sam's working relationship, and I like seeing how it progresses as she advances. It's hard for me to not see them and ship (hee) but you capture their friendship very well, and a path of "what if?"

She’s always been sneaky; he may have taught her that.
Oh Jack. She grew up with Jacob. She had to be sneaky to survive!

Part IV:
*hugs Sam and Teal'c tight*

Part V:
I love Vala and her trying to figure out Jack and Sam's relationship (welcome to the club!), and you capture her so well. She's concerned about Sam and curious, but not hurtful.

Seriously, what a wonderful and well-written fic. I love your portrayal of all the characters -- it all rings true.
Jul. 9th, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
First: thanks for catching that typo! It's been fixed and now makes sense! :)

Second: I am so very glad you liked this! It was hard to get each character right--they are such unique and fussy individuals, and I wanted to do all of them justice while not taking away from the fact that this is, at heart, a story about Sam. I'm happy you think I did well!
Jul. 9th, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
OMG you killed everyone and it was still awesome!

Very well done. It was brave of you to write them all from a different POV. :P

Sam at the hospital was just heartbreaking in a totally fabulous way.

Jul. 9th, 2009 04:44 pm (UTC)
Rocks fall, everyone dies. ;)

And I'm glad you liked this! All the different points of view nearly killed me, so I'm happy they worked for you!

As for Sam at the hospital, I'll take "heartbreaking in a fabulous way"--that was the idea!
Jul. 9th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
Yay, you posted it!!!

I really do love the way this has come together. Perhaps oddly, once you acknowledged that it really was an openly shippy story, it was free to become more of a team-y story, too. I'm not sure how that works, exactly (maybe simply a matter of you being up-front about the lens through which you view the team?), but ultimately I think it turned out to be a lovely, quite evenly-balanced piece that made me all wibbly with love for these characters.

I still love section 3 the best!
Jul. 9th, 2009 06:12 pm (UTC)
Of course I posted it! You said I could! ;)

It is interesting how this turned into a team piece, because that is not at all what I expected to happen when I started writing. I think you're right that being honest about my own perspectives--that I adore every member of this group and all of their interactions even as I am a truly unabashed 'shipper--allowed that affection to come through. Either way, I am so very glad you like this, and I remain completely tickled that about section 3! :)
(no subject) - pellucid - Jul. 9th, 2009 06:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gabolange - Jul. 9th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 9th, 2009 08:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed this story--and I'm really pleased you loved the Teal'c section, because I struggled with that section quite a bit.
Jul. 9th, 2009 08:59 pm (UTC)
My heart broke when you killed Daniel....

And then you killed Jack! And then and then and then and then...


I really loved the perspective from each of them because yes. You really got the...the soul of each of them and reflected them back on Sam which made her shine. How could there be any doubts of having "teamship" and "J/S Ship". Having something be GEN & SHIP works just fine imho.
Jul. 10th, 2009 12:02 am (UTC)
It's funny--this story started as non-ship, and then I gave into my shippy tendencies, and in so doing, it turned into this gigantic teamy lovefest. And I'm so glad that worked for you--it's possible to be gen and ship, yes! :)

But mostly, I'm glad you think I got the soul of each of them and that their perceptions of Sam work! :)
Jul. 9th, 2009 09:33 pm (UTC)
These are all just so darn plausible. (Three of them heart-breakingly so.)
#1-Of course two stubborn people with more baggage than sense could end up like this, and it so would take SG-1 down with them, sadly.
#2-God, so sad. Daniel's fantastic anger and spiraling thoughts and Sam standing there in combat boots and a night gown is such a visceral image...and And then her voice breaks; she’s his everything, but not his girlfriend or his partner or his wife. There was never a word for them, not one they liked. She’s just Sam, and there’s no one to call. God, just kill me now.
#3-I like the idea that if things didn't work out, that they could be like this, close, caring friends who still have a great relationship (kind of reminds me of the comment by AT, something to the effect of "I wish they would just have sex once so they can get over it and move on to being good friends." Heh.)
#4-Oh, Teal'c. Man, the idea of it just being the two of them left, so heart breaking.
#5-Yay! Happily ever after. :D This last one kind of amused me too because I have an eerily similar discussion about why bother getting married moldering on my hard drive. If I ever get that far in DC series we can laugh together about how similar our takes are on them getting married! Love the Vala 'outsider' point of view as well. Just great.

Mostly I just love all the different perspectives and how wonderfully in character they all are. Brava!
Jul. 10th, 2009 12:06 am (UTC)
Hee! I'm glad you found these so realistic! I'm amused by your comments for numbers 3 and 5 because . . . yes! I would hope that if things don't work out between Sam and Jack, or if they never try, they could still be excellent friends. As I said above to pellucid, their friendship is one of my favorite things about the show, whether it ends in ship or not (though I hope it does!).

But for number 5 -- I look forward to your take on it in the DC series! I wanted to have that conversation be realistic, because part of me thinks they wouldn't bother with marriage at all. In some ways, the second piece is the truest to what I see as an ending for Sam and Jack, even if it may also be the most heartbreaking.
Jul. 9th, 2009 10:43 pm (UTC)
Perfect. Just plain perfect. You nearly broke my heart, and the image of Sam standing in the hospital in her skimpy silky thing while her world falls apart around her has been stuck in my head all day- and will likely stay there for a long time. Thanks so much for this :) It's rare that a story touches me to that level and has that kind of staying power.
Jul. 10th, 2009 12:08 am (UTC)
That image of Sam was one of the very first things that I came up with for this story, and I'm glad (and flattered) that it has so much staying power. I'm so glad you liked this story, and I'm honored that it touched you so much.
(no subject) - scifithinker - Aug. 1st, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - gabolange - Aug. 2nd, 2009 12:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 9th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
When you posted this early today I shrieked because I had to wait until I got home to read it. And now that I have, I'm just speechless and all I can say is "GUH!"

These are all so wonderful and painful and fantastic. I'm going to be thinking on them all for quite some time. Well done!

Edited at 2009-07-09 10:53 pm (UTC)
Jul. 10th, 2009 12:09 am (UTC)
I get shrieks? Hee! That's kinda neat! (Maybe this posting once a year thing is paying off?) :)

Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the story so much! If you have more thoughts, do come back around and share them!
Jul. 9th, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
My first thought as I read was 'how damn depressing, why the hell am I reading this?' It was certainly an interesting, and well-written, reflection on what could have happened. Of course, my favorite one was the last one, probably because they were alive AND together. LOL! Though coming in a close second was Sam's call to Daniel, and the end of that one where Sam doesn't know what to call herself other than she was Jack's next of kin. *cries*
Jul. 10th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)
I really wanted to paint five realistic scenarios--some that were happy, some that were not, but all that put these characters in places that they could reasonably reach. I'm also fond of the happily-ever-after one where everyone is alive and together--that's what I hope for!

Thank you for commenting!
Jul. 9th, 2009 11:14 pm (UTC)
Number two nearly killed me. This was so heartbreaking

“No,” she says. “I’m his—.”

And then her voice breaks; she’s his everything, but not his girlfriend or his partner or his wife. There was never a word for them, not one they liked. She’s just Sam, and there’s no one to call.

Fabulous fabulous job! Thank you!
Jul. 10th, 2009 12:11 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked the story!
Jul. 10th, 2009 01:10 am (UTC)
All I can say is thank you for writing something so wonderful! This story absolutely made my day!
Jul. 10th, 2009 01:31 am (UTC)
You're welcome! I'm so glad you liked it! (And I love your icon!)
Jul. 10th, 2009 01:16 am (UTC)
Wow. Very emotional and just REAL. I greatly enjoyed reading this. The second one had me all choked up and nearly in tears! *sniffs* This was all written very lovely. Well done. :)
Jul. 10th, 2009 01:32 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed the story and that you found it realistic!
Jul. 10th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
oh...oh my....

These are all so plausible and yet #2 is rough and perfect...
Jul. 10th, 2009 01:47 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you found it realistic! That second section is so difficult, but I do think it's fairly plausible . . . *sniff*
Jul. 10th, 2009 03:52 am (UTC)
This is fantastic. I LOVE that you had a different narrator in each section, and I love each of the stories. The diner...OMG the DINER! And Sam as head of the SGC and them together but not labeled, and her marrying him because it makes him happy and them being all gooey in ways Vala couldn't imagine, and them bursting out laughing when they tried to date, and them being together on their own terms, and them being goobey in love...and...OH the gorgeous that is Teal'c analyzing how hard the Tauri have it trying to deal with a loss without closure...lovely top to bottom. I believe every single scenario.

Edited at 2009-07-10 03:53 am (UTC)
Jul. 10th, 2009 11:31 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you! Having different narrators was a challenge--they each have such unique, distinct voices--but I thought it would be interesting to see how others see Sam and Jack at each of these different points. I'm so glad they all worked for you, and that you find it so believable!

Thanks for the comment! :)
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 10th, 2009 11:27 am (UTC)
Thanks! I'm so glad you liked the story!
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
( 55 comments — Leave a comment )