Jack pulled up the collar of his coat against the cold wind, hoping to warm himself, but wondering if he would ever truly be warm again. His face was expressionless, but his mind was in turmoil. He had learned to hide his emotions well, and now he needed to do that more than ever. When he got home he could cry, rant, rave and express his feelings however he wished. USAF Generals weren't supposed to do that kind of thing in public, especially at the funeral of a subordinate. Problem was, he had loved this subordinate; loved her very much.
He found it hard to grasp that Sam was gone and he would never see her again. He envisaged her turning her blonde topped head to meet his eyes, her own big blue ones staring back at him. He saw the smile he adored so much; it had always made his heart leap with joy. He heard her laughter. Most of the time Sam had appreciated his sense of humor and that had always made him feel special.
Never again. Never. Only in his dreams and imagination. He heard a wistful sigh escape his lips and reigned himself in.
Both Daniel and Teal'c also remained stoic, although Jack knew they were probably as upset as he was. They had loved Sam too, as a sister, a friend, a colleague, and their team leader. They had followed her as they had followed him; to hell and back.
Last trip out, one of them hadn't come back, or at least alive. That was the worst kind of hell. Losing someone you loved always was and it took a long time to escape that torment, if you ever really did. Jack suspected that he never would; the fires of his own internal hell would burn brightly forever in his soul.
All three men were blaming themselves for their own different reasons. Now they had to live with that self recrimination and doubt. Jack wasn't sure he could bear it and wondered if Daniel and Teal'c felt anything like as bad as he did. His heart might have broken for them if it hadn't already been shredded by the grief of his loss. She had meant the world to him and it now seemed a very different place. He wasn't even sure he cared enough to fight for it, or even live in it, anymore.
This was it; no future with Sam and possibly no future at all. He didn't believe he would ever recover from this blow; life was going to be very lonely from now on. Before he'd had hope and that was finally as dead as Sam.
Daniel and Teal'c managed to bring Sam's broken and very dead body back through the gate. Jack was grateful for that but didn't know how he kept himself together when he'd realised what had happened. Total stillness, a hush, seemed to come over the gate room with only him and her pale, cold flesh and unseeing eyes to keep each other company. He knew what people meant when they said time stood still, and this was not the first time he had experienced it.
It was not until Daniel touched him that he was able to break away from his initial shock. But the shock still continued; on and on relentlessly, like the beating of his battered heart. He wished it would just stop, that he could join his love, hold her and kiss her, see her smile, feel her breath on his face. He wished. there was no point wishing anymore. Wishes don't come true and he couldn't imagine why he thought they might.
Looking up at Daniel as he touched him, Jack saw the acute sorrow and pain in his eyes; and the sympathy. Afterwards, he had seen that sympathy replicated in the eyes of everyone on the base. They all knew.
The medics arrived with a gurney to carry her off. Teal'c moved to Jack's side, supporting him, reading his heart. He subtly ensured Jack's suddenly weakened legs carried him to where he needed to go. Jack also saw the pain in the Jaffa's eyes; pain for Sam's loss, and for his friend's plight. No one at the SGC was unaffected, but her former team mates were flattened and desolate.
Jack should have guessed something like this would happen one day. The magic spell that had protected SG-1 was broken and nothing would ever be the same again. Inside, his scream was very loud and continuous; it was hard not to let it out and impossible to stop it. He was surprised he could hear anything else at all, or that he managed to function - barely. Those closest to him worked hard to cover for his distraction, and then General Hammond arrived.
Jack was sitting beside her body and couldn't move himself. He'd been there for hours. How could he part with her? That was going to be difficult; he could never part with her. She would remain in his heart and soul forever. She should have been there in reality, not just his dreams. He regretted that; he regretted far too much.
Hammond was visibly moved by her death, and O'Neill's reaction to it. He understood. He forced Jack away from Sam, made him go home, arranging transport and for Doctor Jackson to accompany him. Both men were in tatters and Hammond hoped they could help each other. For good measure he sent Teal'c too. Although he knew the big man was also upset, Jaffa are not prone to let their emotions cloud their judgement. O'Neill and Jackson needed a rock and Teal'c could fulfil that role better than anyone.
Jack protested about being pulled away from her but Hammond knew it was for the best. He hated to see O'Neill in this state. He was expressionless but his eyes told the whole story and he could hardly move. He didn't get hysterical when they took him away, showed nothing. This was O'Neill's way. However, General Hammond believed her death had broken him and he might have just lost his best man. He didn't think O'Neill would be coming back, although he turned out to be wrong about that.
Hammond took temporary control of the base. It was a mess; all glum faces. Many of the personnel were in shock. Colonel Carter had been popular and had saved their butts too many times to mention. They would all sorely miss both her presence and her unique brains. She was irreplaceable. He needed to do something to boost morale but would let them have their mourning period first.
Jack looked up at Pete Shannahan from under his long lashes. Pete was distraught with grief for the loss of his love. Jack felt sorry for him, knowing exactly how that felt. He didn't like the guy but the poor man was hurting badly; so was Jack. He wished he could show it; that he had that ability. It was something that Jack was bad at, or very good at. When Charlie had died a part of him had died along with him. He had wavered between total numbness and the desire to join his son in oblivion. He felt the same now. When he got home. that's when he'd show it, if he ever could. He wasn't sure he was capable.
He envied Pete his capacity to mourn, to show his true feelings. Jack didn't have the capability or the right. Pete was her lover, not Jack. Although he had known Sam for over 8 years, had loved her for a lot of that time, so perhaps he did have that right after all. When he got home.
As her coffin was lowered into the ground he felt himself choke. Not here, please not here. Wait Jack. He pleaded with himself to keep control. He did that a lot. He liked self control, needed it. Perhaps he should have learned to let go more; Sam might have been his, but now that dream would never come true.
The regret for this truth hit him forcefully. He should never have put duty first, neither of them should. They had missed something special as a result and now he would spend his whole life repenting that and yearning for something he could never have.
Regulations! A bitter pill which they had been only too willing to swallow. It was the honorable thing to do. Duty, honor and Air Force Regulations; all these things had turned to ashes in Jack's mouth now. None of it meant anything anymore. He and Sam should have fought for a solution, and resolution. It was fine to think that in retrospect, when life had struck a near mortal blow. Too late now. Never to be.
He hated himself for not being there, wondering if he could have prevented it, or at least been with her when it happened. He imagined holding her close to his body, her blood seeping all over his uniform, feelings pouring out of his mouth.
After the burial his friends urged him to come with them, to celebrate her life, and he declined. He needed and wanted to be alone. He had to get used to it. He went home and sat, head in hands, thinking about her, all they had missed and all they could have been.
Daniel told him she'd spoken his name with her dying breath. She'd wanted him to know, but he already knew, despite Pete, despite everything. It gave him some small comfort that he knew. Poor Pete; he thought Sam had loved him, but he couldn't have been more wrong. Jack would never rub his nose in that particular dirt; it would be cruel, not to mention dishonorable. There it was again; honor. Damn!
After Thor saved him from the ancient's download, after they got Sam back from Fifth, she turned up at his place one night telling him they had unfinished business. He let her in, got her a beer, and sat her down next to him on the couch.
"So." He said.
"So." She replied.
"I know why you came Sam. You don't have to say anything."
"But I want to."
They both took a deep breath at the same time, him to prepare himself for her words, her to prepare herself to say them. "
I'm in love with you Jack. I tried." She shrugged, "but I can't help it, or stop it. I'm not sure I want to stop it."
"I don't want you to stop it." He took her hand, holding it to his lips in a brief kiss, and then continuing to hold it in his. "You know I love you too, don't you?" She nodded a response. "So."
"So." They were silent for a while until she spoke again. "I thought I was going to lose you Jack."
He thought he had lost her to Pete, and then realised he hadn't, and he thought he'd lost her to the replicators, but he hadn't. He didn't voice any of that because he knew she knew. They didn't need words, which was just as well because he was pretty useless at that kind of thing.
She kissed him, then, on the lips and they went to his bedroom and made love. It was sweet. wonderful. Full of everything he'd wanted from her physically. He had her heart and mind, and now he also had her body. It felt good.
Her flesh was soft and warm to the touch and his fingers memorised the feel of it under his hands. He could feel it now, smell her, hear her, and see her. A small sob sounded in the room and he looked around to see who it was. He was alone. It was him.
They knew that this would not happen between them again; not for a long time, maybe never. Each savoured the other, holding tightly onto the dream they wanted, the fantasy they had fulfilled, albeit briefly. They didn't want to part but knew that they had to.
"I should give Pete up. It isn't fair to you, or to him."
"Don't give him up Sam. You can do so much better than me. You're right to try."
He held her close and his words brought tears to her eyes. Jack would do anything for her, even sacrifice his own life and happiness. It filled her with. something indescribable. He made her complete. No one else had ever done that.
Sam stayed with him that night and they made love some more, explored each other intimately, committing every inch to memory for the cold lonely nights that lay ahead. They had promised this would be forever. eventually. And it was forever as even her death would never kill the love he felt for her, but he would not know that loving embrace, gentle kiss or ecstatic lovemaking again. Regrets. They had made their choices and he would live with them.
His despair was absolute and he clung to the memory of her and her feelings for him, glad that she had come to him that night, pleased that he had known her depth of feeling for him. Nothing else could keep him warm, or alive.
To his surprise he heard weeping and knew it was him. He was pleased to let it out at last. As he wept he pondered the past and the future, the regrets and sorrows, the good and bad. He was capable after all and this was reassuring. He was human, like any other man.
He pictured Sam in his mind urging him not to give up, telling him the SGC still needed him, that he must go on without her as she would have without him.
Thinking long and hard about that renewed his hope, in a future, any future; a future without Sam in it. Suddenly he knew that was possible. He would live, go back to the SGC, protect this planet and the universe, be there for his people. They needed him and their need for him was better than none at all.
What admiration and respect they provided would do; it would keep him going, even without hers, the most important of all. Duty, honor and Air force Regulations; he had to keep that faith otherwise it had all been for nought.
If he couldn't die for her, the least he could do was live for her, and keep the small part of her that was within him alive too.