It all went wrong when Daniel died. We had all jumped back through the gate the minute the not-so-friendly natives had started firing. I walked down the ramp to Hammond, convinced we'd made another miraculous escape - again. Then I heard a thud from behind me, and turned to see Daniel had fallen. Sam was supporting his head, and trying to stop the blood pouring out of his gut, but it didn't work. He died right there, in Sam's arms, and I don't think she's ever recovered from it.
She left, and never returned. I waited, but she had gone for good. I resigned soon after that. Only Teal'c stayed at SGC. I had never realised how much Daniel had been a link between me and Sam. He had seen me as his brother and Sam as his sister, and I think he tried to bring us together. I think perhaps he knew how we felt... how I felt. I never knew how *she* felt.
I didn't do much after I left SGC. Just sat at home and thought about Daniel and Sara and Charlie... but mostly about Sam. I always knew I was close to her. I think I even knew I was in love with her. I just didn't know how much in love I was. I waited for her to return, just to call me, but she never did. I told myself it was ridiculous. I would get over her. I got over Sara. But I didn't. Sara had never invaded every part of me like Sam had. I found myself filling the fridge with Sam's favourite brand of beer. I read books that she had raved about. I remembered a film she had raved about to Daniel... Notorious. I bought the video and watched it again and again. It was a story of love rejected and almost lost, but finally won. On a good night I saw it as a good omen. You don't want to know what I thought on a bad night.
Watching the news late one night, I discovered she had joined the space program. After that I watched every launch, and scanned every paper for news of her. I finally found her picture, on an internet site. She was smiling, but her eyes were sad. She didn't look like the bubbling, happy Sam I had known. When she was in space, I'd look through my telescope for her shuttle. When I found it, I would watch it for hours, trying to push my thoughts across the void to her. 'I need you Sam. Come back to me.'
Then it happened. Teal'c had been part of an SGC team that was trying to destroy the Gou'alds forever. They had succeeded, but Teal'c was killed in the final mission. It was the way he would have wanted to go... corny I know, but true. General Hammond decided to bury Teal'c on Earth, where he had made his home.
It was a cold wet day when we held his funeral. I was looking round for Sam when General Hammond came up to me. He had a proposal which I found... interesting. I promised I'd think about it.
We stood round the grave in the pouring rain. As Teal'c's body was being lowered into the ground, I looked up and saw her. I don't think she saw me. She was watching the coffin. She looked only a little older, but a lot sadder. There was a faint scar on one cheek. I'd heard about that.
There had been an accident on one of the shuttle missions, and a crew member had died. NASA wouldn't release the name at first, and I had spent the whole night in front of the television, my heart clenched in a cold fist, waiting to hear her death announced. When they had confirmed that she had survived, I broke down and cried in relief. Then I cried because she could have died never knowing I loved her. I had never been brave enough to tell her, and I had almost lost her forever. I had watched her being interviewed on the news. She looked calm, but I knew as soon as she was home she would collapse and cry and I wished desperately I could be there to comfort her.
Now she was so close I could touch her, but I couldn't get the words out. I moved next to her as we moved away from the grave and managed to blurt out, "Sam."
She turned in surprise, and my heart almost stopped as those big blue eyes stared into mine again. "Sir!"
"I think you can drop the sir now."
"Jack." She smiled softly, and it all went silent.
I knew what I wanted to say, but all that came out was, "Congratulations on joining the space programme."
"Well, its what my father wanted. And after Daniel died."
"Yes, I know."
"As a matter of fact, I'm going up again soon, so I have to leave early. Well, now really."
Say it. Say it now, before i lose her again. "Stay."
In my home, in my bed, in my life, I want to say. Instead, "SGC."
"Sir? I mean Jack? What are you talking about?"
"Now that the Gou'ald threat is eliminated, SGC is going back to its original mission. They're going to become explorers again and they want us back... both of us."
"Oh." She seems vaguely disappointed, and I can tell she isn't going to stay.
"Come back Sam." I whisper.
"Back to SGC?"
It's my last chance. I've never been more afraid in my life, but I'm even more afraid of what will happen if I don't get her back now. "No... back to me."
She stares at me. I can't read her expression. What if I've made a dreadful mistake and she doesn't want me? What the hell, I might as well go all the way now.
"I need you Sam. They hasn't been a day - an hour when I haven't wanted you with me. Its been hell without you. I'm not good with words and I know its probably too late to say this but - I love you Sam."
There. I've done it. I wait for a reaction, but all she does is turn her head and stare into the distance. Its raining hard now, and I can't tell if it its rain or tears on her cheek.
"Umm... Sam?" I say.
"I wish you'd told me before."
I wait. I can hardly bear to hear what she will say next and I wish it were all over - but I wait.
She continues. "I needn't have bothered booking a hotel room."
I stand there stunned, not quite sure I understand what she's saying.
She looks up at me, and the old glowing Sam is back in her eyes. "You don't know what I've been through." she says. "All those years, wanting desperately to tell you, but I couldn't even though you were right there. I was afraid you'd reject me, that I was wrong about how you felt. It was agony. When Daniel died, and I left, I thought I'd escaped, but you followed me Jack. I've never been able to get you out of my mind. I love you Jack. I always have."
We stand there, in the pouring rain, staring at each other, hardly able to believe what the other has said. I start to speak, then realise there's nothing more to say. Instead, I reach for her slowly, afraid to break the spell, and pull her towards me. Her arms slip round my neck and gently, I bend down to kiss her, lightly at first, then deeper as I realise she won't leave. She's mine at last.