Disclaimer: You know I don't own any of it . . . (darn!)
Title: So Close
Rating: T for major character death (I cried writing this, bawled my eyes out . . . )
Pairings: Jack/Sam, as always
Season: Sometime in Season Five
Spoilers: In the Line of Duty, Upgrades, Divide and Conquer, Seth, The Tok'ra, Children of the Gods.
A/N: The song, "So Close" is sung by Jon McLaughlin and is in the movie "Enchanted". When I listened to it, I couldn't help but think how perfectly it describes Sam and Jack's relationship. Anyway, please don't flame me off the Earth, because I don't own a Stargate and I probably wouldn't be able to get back. Also, I don't have a beta, so all mistakes belong to me and me alone. Thanks for reading! Jess
The rain on P3X-747 was coming down in sheets. SG-1 blindly ran through the dense forest, searching for the Stargate, as the thunder roared and the lightning crashed around them menacingly.
They had been sent on a simple recon mission: make contact with the locals and attempt trade. But as with nearly every other mission they could recall off the top of their heads, nothing was ever simple. Even when they weren't fighting off murderous Jaffa or freeing enslaved humans, it seemed fate was always against them.
On this particular planet, their greatest threat happened to be the weather.
With the long walk from the village to the Stargate, Jack O'Neill and his team had set off early in the afternoon, to be sure that they'd get back before nightfall.
But, dark came a lot sooner than they thought it would. When Sam's scientific equipment first picked up the storm, she assured Jack that it was some ways off, and they'd have no problem getting home before it hit.
But, obviously, the storm had moved in a lot faster than Sam could've ever predicted. Within minutes, the winds were howling and a full-blown storm was taking effect around them.
Predicting that the Stargate should be no more than another mile or so, the team set off at a run, with Daniel in the lead, Teal'c second, Jack behind them, and Sam following fast.
"Come on, Carter! Let's go!" Jack screamed at the top of his lungs, desperately trying to be heard above the storm.
It was quickly getting worse. The lightning strikes became more and more frequent and monstrous claps of thunder followed immediately after.
Daniel and Teal'c were only tens of feet in front of feet in front of him, but Jack shouted into the radio.
"Teal'c! Daniel! This is Jack! When you get to the gate, don't wait for us! Dial Earth and get the heck outta here!"
"Got it, Jack!"
Satisfied, Jack turned back to look for Sam. She wasn't so far behind now, but Jack could see she was struggling to keep up. He also noticed that she seemed to be limping a little, trying not to put pressure on her right ankle.
"Carter, come on!"
Sam didn't answer, but instead tried harder to push herself forward, causing immense pain to her ankle that was obviously sprained.
Jack began running back to help her when a huge bolt of lightning suddenly lit up the dark sky, striking the base of a huge tree near them.
Neither Sam, nor Jack, saw the falling tree before it was too late. As in slow motion, Jack watched as the giant oak-like tree swayed and toppled, right in the path of Samantha Carter.
Jack tried to scream a warning, but no words came out. He could only watch in helplessness and horror as it collapsed on top of his 2IC.
It was a direct hit. Sam saw the tree only milliseconds before it crashed onto her. She had no time to react.
In one terrible instant, it seemed like every bone in her body was crushed. The pain was the most excruciating thing she'd ever felt and she didn't know how she was still conscious, or even alive.
"Sam!" she heard Jack scream as she saw him rush toward her. Behind him, Daniel and Teal'c raced back, no doubt having heard the incredible crash that had come from behind them.
In a heartbeat, Jack was at her side, accessing the damage. Sam's head was bleeding near her hairline, most likely from falling face first into the rock-covered ground.
Jack could see that see was losing a lot of blood, and rapidly drifting toward unconsciousness.
"Stay with me, Sam. Come on!" he yelled, as the wind continued to howl, although ironically, he noticed, it seemed to be starting to let up.
As it fell, the fateful tree had landed on a large rock in such a way that it thankfully hadn't crushed into Sam with its full force, now distributing its weight over both of them. While this fact made the situation a little bit better, Jack could see that it wasn't looking good.
The tree had fallen directly on top of Sam, landing heavily on her ribs. Jack knew if the rock wasn't supporting so much of the tree's weight, or it had been any larger, it was safe to assume that Sam wouldn't be alive right now. Even now, he marveled at the fact that she was still conscious, although her face was deathly pale, her breathing labored, and every time she breathed in, her face contorted in a look of pure agony.
"Jack," she whispered softly, hardly loud enough for him to hear above the still calming storm.
Jack remembered the last time she'd sounded this weak. She had been lying in a hospital bed, having just survived against all odds against the Ashrak. Now she was lying on the forest floor, and Jolinar wasn't around to save her.
"I'm here, Sam, you've just got to hang in there. We'll get you out," said Jack, more to himself than her. He took her limp hand in his and gave it a gentle squeeze. He was more than relieved when she returned it with a squeeze of her own.
Daniel and Teal'c were by her now, searching for the best way to move the trunk. They knew that by moving it, there was a more than good chance of injuring Sam even more than she was.
"Okay, Jack, we're gonna need your help," Daniel spoke as calmly as he could, although inside his heart raced and his adrenaline pumped.
Jack stood up, giving Sam's hand one last squeeze before letting it go. He quickly moved to help his other teammates.
Teal'c had managed to wedge his staff weapon underneath the trunk and over another rock, creating a makeshift level to push up the tree. Jack moved up to the side of the tree, readying himself to use all his strength to push it off his 2IC, while Daniel knelt down by Sam.
"Sam? Sam, can you hear me?" Daniel took her hand, just like Jack had done, and spoke loudly, making sure the major could hear him. "We're going to move the tree, but when Teal'c, Jack, and I lift it, you're going to heave to try to move forward as much as you can. Think you can do that?"
The only way he was sure that Sam had understood was the tiny squeeze she gave him, saying that she would try her hardest.
Satisfied, Daniel moved back to the trunk, and positioned himself next to Teal'c. "All right, Sam, get ready."
"On three, we go," Jack counted. "One . . . Two . . . Three!"
Summoning all of his strength, Teal'c strained and push against his staff as it slowly lifted of Carter's back. Jack and Daniel did the same, desperately trying to push in away from their teammate.
As she had said she would, Sam tried to move away from the heavy tree, aware of the risk she was taking in moving. Unfortunately, her best just wasn't good enough. The guys finally managed to move the tree back from her, and she had gone forward a bit, but now it was positioned above her legs, ready to crush her again if her friends let go.
"Daniel Jackson! Assist Major Carter!" Teal'c screamed.
Tightening his grip on the trunk, Jack braced himself as Daniel let go. His arms and legs ached and threatened to give way, and he didn't know how long he could keep this up.
"Come on, Sam! We've got to get out of here!" Daniel carefully positioned his hands underneath her arms and pulled her as hard as he dared. Sam moaned and cried out as she was dragged away through the dirt and mud of the newly fallen rain.
Daniel pulled her until she was safely under a sturdy tree, for protection from the still dripping water. "Jack! I got her!" he yelled.
Jack and Teal'c both let out a groan of effort and exhaustion as they lowered the fallen tree back down. They didn't even stop to catch their breath before rushing over to Sam and Daniel.
Daniel was wet, they all were, but other than that, he looked fine. Sam looked a bit more relieved that the weight wasn't crushing her body any more, but it didn't matter. The damage had been done. She could feel herself getting weaker and weaker, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Jack looked at her eyes, they were still that familiar shade of crystal blue, but they showed only pain and sadness. He knew that she knew the end was near, but he couldn't accept it.
"Daniel, Teal'c, get to the gate and bring back Doc Fraiser," he ordered. "And you better tell them to contact the Tok'ra, too. I have a feeling we're going to need that healing device."
Daniel nodded at Jack and grasped his 2IC's hand. "Hang in there, Sam. We're bringing help."
"We will return, Major Carter," Teal'c assured her, giving a little bow before running off in the direction of the Stargate
With Daniel and Teal'c gone, Jack looked back down at Sam as she tried to talk.
"You shouldn't have sent them away, sir," she told him.
"Why not? You need a doctor to fix you up and get you back to Earth. Need I remind you that you haven't gone fishing with me yet?"
"I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon, sir."
Jack decided to play naive. "Well, sure, I mean, you'll probably be in the infirmary for a while, but it's always something to look forward to."
Sam shook her head and Jack could see that her eyes were wet. "You know what I mean, Jack."
The use of his first name brought tears to his eyes as he realized he couldn't ignore the inevitable.
He moved in and sat closer to Sam, carefully taking her head in his hands and tenderly stroking her hair as the tears started falling down both of their cheeks.
You're in my arms
And all the world is gone
The music playing on for only two
So close together
And when I'm with you
So close to feeling alive
For once, Sam didn't even try to be the strong soldier. She let the tears come, not caring that Jack was there.
As she lay with her head cradled in Jack's arms, she thought about her life. She had so many questions about the future.
What would her father tell Mark? It was hard enough when he'd lost his mother, how would he react when they told him that he'd lost his sister as well?They'd only just begun to grow closer to each other again.
How would Jacob take the news that he'd lost his only daughter to a falling tree? 'I never expected to die first,' Sam thought ironically to herself. 'After Dad told me he had cancer, I never expected him to outlive me. Even when he joined with Lantash I couldn't imagine him going to my funeral. I always thought it'd be the other way around.'
Then, a thought hit her. What would happen to SG-1? Would the SGC allow a three-man flagship team, or would they replace her with someone else? She had to know.
"After . . . this . . . what's going to happen to SG-1?"
Jack didn't want to talk about such things, but he knew Sam wanted - and needed - at least some closure.
"I suppose General Hammond will want us to recruit another member," he started.
Sam's heart fell. The last thing she wanted was to think about a replacement joining the team and screwing up their friendship. But, she knew that wasn't the only thing. Deep down, she was worried that if they got a replacement, they'd completely forget about her.
Jack seemed to read her mind. "But even if he does bring in a new member, you know that they'll never take your place . . . no one could do that, Sam."
Sam smiled and more tears flowed down her cheeks. Every minute was becoming harder and harder to breathe, and she was ready to stop tying to stay conscious, and simply let the darkness swallow her up.
But, Jack had other plans. "Come on, Sam, talk to me. You're going to stay awake until Doc Fraiser gets here."
Sam knew that would be impossible, but she'd try . . . for Jack's sake.
"Um, the Tok'ra found a secret chamber on an abandoned planet. It was filled with ancient devices that use all kinds of new technology." Sam stopped to take a painful breath in. "Anise thinks it's the greatest find they've ever discovered."
At the mention of Anise, both of the air force officers were suddenly remembering the same moment. They were inside the small interrogation room at the SGC, and Freya/Anise were asking Jack why he didn't leave when Sam was trapped on Apophis's ship.
'I didn't leave . . . because . . . I would've rather died myself . . . than lose Carter.'
'Why,' asked Freya.
'Because I care about her . . . a lot more than I'm supposed to.'
Recalling the memory, tears continued to make their way down Jack's face as he watched Sam grow weaker.
'I always thought sooner of later, I'd retire, and we'd finally have our chance to be together,' he thought to himself. 'I can't believe I'm going to lose her.'
A life goes by
Romantic dreams must die
So I bid mine good-bye and never knew
So close was waiting, waiting here with you
And now forever I know
All that I want is to hold you
Sam closed her eyes again, but Jack was still determined not to let her slip away.
"Sam," he said, "Keep talking."
She took in another forced and painful breath and decided to risk it all.
"I never thought I'd love you, Jack O'Neill."
The statement caught Jack completely off guard. 'Did my 2IC just say she loves me?' he thought about it. 'Yeah, I think she did!'
Then, it hit him. "What do you mean you never thought you could love me?" he asked, a tiny bit of humor and sarcasm in his voice.
Sam chuckled quietly. "You remember when we first met? At first, I thought we could be nothing but enemies. My first impression of you was that you were one of those men who believed that women had no place in the military. One of those people I'd worked so hard to upstage. Back then, I could never have imagined working five years with you."
Sam spoke slowly, as every breath became shallower and shallower, and she had to work harder to stay awake. Jack was just glad she was still talking, and let out a small chuckle himself.
"You know, it works both ways," he said. "I would never have thought I'd still be working with that no-nonsense-feminist-scientist you were five years ago."
"We sure have come a long way," Sam whispered, even softer and slower than before.
So close to reaching that famous happy ending
Almost believing this one's not pretend
Now you're beside me and look how far we've come
So far, we are so close.
"Come on, Janet, where are you guys?" Jack muttered.
"Carter, I don't wanna hear it! You've made it this far. I'm not going to let you die on me now!"
"Jack, you can stop putting on the strong soldier act. I did a long time ago. Now, you have to face the fact that I'm not going back, and I need to say something to you before I can't."
The aggressiveness and commanding nature of Sam's voice startled Jack, but he let her talk.
"I've wanted to say this for a long time. I love you, Jack O'Neill."
Sam had stopped crying a while ago, and now, only a single tear fell from her eyes.
Jack took Sam's hand in his, noticing how incredibly cold it was.
The reality that she wouldn't be going home was setting in, and Jack eyes welled up again.
"I love you, too, Sam," he said. "But, I don't know how I . . . we'll . . . be able to go on without you. You hold us together, Sam."
Oh, how could I face the faceless days
If I should lose you now?
Sam thought back to when her mother had died, and the advice given to her by her father when she'd said the same thing.
"You never know . . . how you'll get through it," she whispered, gasping often for air as the end drew closer. "But you just do . . . because you have to."
Jack took her advice to heart, and in one last gesture, he leaned down, and brushing his lips with hers, they shared a delicate but passionate kiss.
As their lips parted, Jack needed to tell her one last time, "I love you, Sam."
Looking directly up at him, Sam gasped for breath as she muttered softly, "I love you, Jack . . . always."
Jack watched as Sam Carter's eyes closed for the last time, a lone tear squeezing out of her eye. He reached over and wiped the tear with his thumb, and felt one single tear drip out of his eye as well. Tenderly, he leaned over and kissed her again, a painful reminder of something they could never share.
Suddenly, he jerked up as he thought he heard something down the path. Maybe it was Janet. Maybe they could still save Sam. But, deep down, Jack knew that it was impossible.
Samantha Carter, the woman who'd saved his life more times than he could count, was dead.
'I'm alive because of her, but when she needs help, I can do nothing,' he thought venomously. 'I failed her.'
Realizing the truth, he turned away, ashamed. By his side lay his P-90, cold and powerful. It was so tempting to pick it up and end his sad, pitiful life. He'd felt so much loss over the past few years: Sara, Charlie, Kawalsky, and now Sam. He didn't know if he could bear the pain anymore. Colonel Jack O'Neill was weak. He'd had years off special ops. training, and had survived seeing more death in the field than anyone ought to, making people believe it didn't bother him. But right now, he was considering suicide. To end the never-ending nightmare, and rejoin Sam the only way he could. The gun was right there.
But, he knew he couldn't do it. Sam would be so disappointed in him. She'd want him to keep going, to not only live for himself, but her as well. If he died, she died. But if he lived, then she'd keep on living, too. They were as two hearts beating together, joined as one.
He ran his fingers through her blond hair, and caressed her cheek. He couldn't seem to take his eyes of her. So beautiful, even in death.
He leaned in close to her, as if whispering a secret, and said over and over, "I love you, Sam. I love you. I love you. I love you . . ."
He couldn't seem to say it enough. After years of wanting to, he poured his heart out to her.
Eventually, he found himself lying on the ground, still holding her close for what he knew would be the last time.
Still tenderly stroking her hair, he heard the sound again, closer now. He turned, and glimpsed Daniel, Janet, and Teal'c running up the path, the sun shining ironically over them. He looked toward the trio, then back at Sam, his angel, his reason for life, who he'd never get the chance to be with.
"They're just like us," he whispered softly. "So close, and yet, so far."
We're so close
To reaching that famous happy ending
Almost believing this one's not pretend
Let's go on dreaming though we know we are
So close . . .
So close . . .
And still . . . so far . . .