Story Notes: EMAIL:

STATUS: Complete

SPOILERS/SEASON INFO: Divide and Conquer, Small Victories, Shades of Grey, A Hundred Days

ARCHIVE: SJ Relationship Archive and Heliopolis; all others yes but please contact me first

AUTHOR'S NOTES: This is my humble offering in relation to that already legendary episode Divide and Conquer. *sigh* Short stories are all that I seem to be able to finish right now! Feedback most welcome.

Copyright (c) August 2000

Random Thoughts: Conquering Death By eowyn_girl

There's very nice furniture in my room now, at least compared to when I first started here. On my first night at the SGC I hadn't noticed how horrid my room at the base used to be - I was too hyped up and excited I suppose. It wasn't until the third or fourth night that I'd started to notice how ridiculously ugly everything was. I mean sure, being assigned to the SGC had its merits - it was the most rewarding and challenging line of work that I've ever hoped to do. But sometimes, as I spent solitary nights on the base sitting alone in my dark, too-quiet room, I really wondered why in the world couldn't they get better furnishings? I mean, the lights for one thing - crude pre-cold war fixtures that seared and burned your sight with its artificial luminescence, drawing harsh lines of light and shadow on the walls. A person could've gotten sunburnt just standing underneath those fluorescent monstrosities ... I mean, *really*. A government that had enough cash to shell out three billion dollars a year to fund this pinnacle of high tech operations, yet didn't have enough cash to furnish the place better? Pul-lease.

Well at least it's better now ... my room I mean. Given, the walls are still the rancid, dull concrete grey of yesteryear, but at least the lights are less ... bright. More homely, dulled and muted into creating a warmer and more comfortable atmosphere. It was almost like home, except ... not. And the furniture too. Gone were the random meshing of steel racks into barely distinguishable pieces of furniture - a metal framed bed here, a solitary steel table there. It was like being in a metal cage, isolation and disconnection from humanity aided by the harsh play of light and shadow created by the too-bright searing luminescence of neon lights. At least now the furniture looked a little more respectable - her bed actually *looked* like a bed with a soft, pliable air-like mattress atop solid wood finishings. Her room was now equipped with other similar reminders of home too - a matching bed side table, a comfortable chair for contemplation and an out-of-the-way utility cabinet that served as her dresser, wardrobe ... or whatever else she wanted to use it for. All in all, a much better way of life for her on the base.

Like that matters. Life matters and so does death, but furniture certainly doesn't ...

There was a tentative steely knock on my door.

I sighed. Stretching my too-tight muscles, I slid off the comfortable, warm hole I'd created for myself on the bed and switched on a small lamp by my side. Instantly the muted, almost-golden light permeated the room, it's low voltage spectre almost as alluring and mysterious as candle light. Romantic too, if I'd been in the mood to think about it.

But I wasn't in the mood for romantic thoughts. My mind was clouded by only one type of thought ... sitting so uncomfortably in my unhinged consciousness that I had sought the comfort of darkness, as if by so doing I could shroud myself from the harsh reality of today. Of life. Of death.

Robotically I manoeuvred my way to the door. I wasn't really accustomed to sitting down in one position for so long.

"Colonel." I stated aloud, not that I needed to. I knew he'd come.

He gave me a compassionate, heart-warming smile that began to thaw the coldness that had settled in my heart for the past few hours. "Sam." He said, pronouncing my simple name with a multitude of feelings; compassion, sadness, worry ... and also carrying with it a potential of much more. Of so much more. If only ...

He stares at me for second, timeless devotion in his eyes conveyed by an instant. I know Jack, I know. I feel that way too.

Thank you for caring.

"Colonel" I repeated, not really knowing what to say. How do you express something that is more effectively communicated with knowing gazes, or warm embraces?

His eyes never leave my face. "Sam, I ..." He searches my face almost pleadingly for something more, any sign, any indication of my expected feelings. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay."

I invite him in. What else could I do? I needed him right now, although I hadn't known it an instant ago. Wasn't that how things always happen? Moments in time are all we need to mould and shape our lives. Instances, when we make a decision that perhaps we'll regret forever? I certainly made one today ... One that I now wish I never made, and was never in a position to make ...

I stand there, unable to communicate my remorse and self-loathing to him. "I'm fine." What else could I say? No, I'm not okay? I'm not fine? It's understandable Carter ... you *did* kill one of your friends today. And you had no hesitation in doing it.

"No you're not." He states practically, almost throwing me with his certainty. "C'mon Sam, this is me you're talking to. Your *dashing* CO ... your Colonel ..." His false playfulness almost prompts me to smile. Almost. I'm too dazed and confused right now to be amused, even by him. His tone changes dramatically, his voice softening. "Your friend ..."

I look straight into his intense hazel eyes through swirling pools of unshed tears as I settle back onto my bed, my back leaning against the wall and feet tucked in front of me. I wrap my arms around myself protectively. My hands are shaking. Why are they shaking?

Maybe because you killed Martouf.

But he was a Zatarc ...

... he was your friend. And you killed him.

But he begged me to!

That doesn't matter ... You still pulled that trigger didn't you? *Didn't you Major Carter?* Military through and through. They trained you well.

I was only doing my job ... He begged me to ... didn't he?

Did he?

"Oh Jack ..." I half-choked out, unable to focus my mind to use more words to express the vortex of emotions within me. "I killed him ... "

The words seem to open an invisible dam of tears as I begin to sob uncontrollably. A trickle at first, like tendrils of water escaping from a breach on a harsh concrete wall ... And then the waterfall of tears raining heavier and heavier until I'm losing all will to control my emotional outpouring of grief and remorse.

He likewise sits on the bed, positioning himself directly in front of me, witnessing my tears with a frustrated stare. I know what he's thinking. He's wishing that he could somehow take all this pain away from me. How sweet ... and kind. And how like the gentle, sweet, honest Jack O'Neill I've come to know.

I'm only faintly aware that he's got me into his arms, his warm embrace. One moment I'm pressing my legs tightly against my body with shaking hands; the next I'm somehow enveloped within his arms, my head finding a familiar place of comfort on his shoulder. He's stroking my hair tenderly the way he always does, and it calms some of the sea of torment within me. I'm glad he came. I needed him to come. Only he can truly understand.

A long, almost overwhelming silence descends upon us as he patiently witnesses my grief-induced tears. At long last I'm able to quieten down, feeling more alive than I've been in the last few hours. I suddenly straighten and he releases me from his gentle grasp, keeping a warm hand on one of my own. I look down on those hands, and a frightening thought comes unbidden to me.

If only we could be this way forever.

I attempt to smile through the awkwardness of recovery, clumsily wiping my tear-streaked face with the edge of my sleeves. I must look a mess.

"I must look a mess." I breathe out, breaking the crystal silence in the room. He smiles down at me warmly, a vestige of his old playfulness sparkling in the dark pools of his eyes.

"Need a Kleenex?"

That prompts me to laugh, and he smiles. I wonder if he feels it? That whenever he laughs, I want to laugh. Whenever he hurts, I'm hurt. The double-edged sword of love.

I curl my legs against me again, but this time he settles onto a spot next to me, one leg straight out in front of him and the other sprawled over the side of the bed. His hand still rests atop my own, and I draw comfort from its warmth.

It's nice to be with someone who understands without explanation. Someone who understands that sometimes all you want to do is just *feel*, without need for words. It's not necessary to explain something to someone who already understands the way you feel.

I'm the one to break the companionable stillness, as it should be. He's giving me space and comfort ... to feel what I need to feel, say what I want to say. Whoever would've thought that the ascorbic Jack O'Neill could be so patient, so gentle?

"I feel like it's my fault." I state quietly.

"It wasn't your fault Sam, you know that." He pauses, and almost reads my mind. "And you couldn't have done anything else either. There were SF's surrounding him. Someone would've taken him down eventually ... It could just as easily have been any one of us-"

"-but it wasn't" I say almost vehemently. "It was me. I shot him Jack ..." I stare mechanically at a spot on the far wall. " ... I didn't even hesitate." I add softly, almost expecting a reprisal for my cold efficiency. Shouldn't I have hesitated? At least show some unwillingness to pull the trigger? Especially to a person whose shown me nothing but kindness and respect for as long as I've known him ...

Instead my Colonel's grip tightens on my hand and he compels me to look at him with his intensity. "Sam ... I saw him ask you to do it." My mind flashes back to that look, that look of pleading desperation to help end his suffering. As his friend. It was what Jolinar would have wanted. It was what Jolinar would have done.

Martouf ... Why did you do this to me?

"I resent him for it." I said, surprising myself with the venom laced at the back of my throat. "Why did ask *me* to do it?" I'm verging on an irrational outburst. "God, why? Why couldn't he have asked someone else, someone he didn't know? Why me?" I turn to face Jack almost pleadingly, searching for an answer that I somehow already knew.

Jack knows. I somehow thought he would.

"Because he trusted *you* to do it Sam. As his friend ... " He paused. "He *knew* you'd do it. Not because you're cold and heartless but because ... you're selfless. You put others first Sam, you always have. And Marty depended on that ... Sam," he emphasised, "you came through for him. Just remember that when you doubt yourself."

I look gratefully at him. Talking about it didn't lessen the pain, but it did lessen the torment. Even more comforting was the fact that it was Jack doing this, doing the lessening.

Sometimes I catch myself wondering whether I should be scared that I've come to depend on him so fully. Since his undercover assignment to recover stolen alien technologies, they'd been getting closer and closer. The breach from Edora had healed and provided a newer, stronger platform for their companionable closeness. And the time spent on that deserted planet after rescuing Thor helped things along the way a little. I smile. We did get to go fishing together after all.

"Thanks ..." I whisper, instantly knowing that no thanks were necessary. What were words to two intimately linked souls as we've become, able to primordially sense each other's nuances of emotion?

He kissed me lightly, lingeringly on the forehead.

"C'mon, what's say we have a game of chess before we hit the sack? Chance to beat the master, learn from the genius ..." he smiled mischievously, knowing that it was probably the only game of intelligence and strategy that he could defeat me in. "You never know, this time you might get lucky ..."

I smile, my heart feeling noticeably lighter. I already am.


The End

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