August 3, 2003. 17:00.
Jack wasn't usually sentimental, but today he let himself feel what his heart had denied him for so long. Today, on the most dreaded of days in Jack's life, he allowed the tears to streak his face, leaving behind emotional scars he knew the world would see. But he didn't care, Jack O'Neill didn't care everyone saw, he needed this.
Jack felt a gentle but firm hand on his shoulder and knew without turning around that it was Teal'c, his mighty friend lending Jack the silent support he so desperately needed, but would never ask for out loud.
Jack tilted his head subtly sideways, letting the Jaffa know the action was appreciated and from the corner of his eye he saw Teal'c incline his head briefly before turning his attention forward to watch the rest of the ceremony, Jack thought he heard a quiet sniffle from his friend.
On Jack's other side, Jack knew, stood a linguist with tears streaming freely from his eyes. With no military inhibitions standing in his way, Daniel could let his tears flow for their fallen friend without caring about his superiors. That was something Jack envied the archeologist and close friend, Daniel could show his true emotions without caring, Jack usually only let his superstition about a mission show, all else had to be hidden behind a well-worn mask of indifference. Except for the silent tears that slid from his eyes, he couldn't show any other emotion, despite the heart-crunching despair he felt inside.
Jack knew the feelings he felt were anything then appropriate for a CO about his 2IC, then again, Jack figured that had always been the case. Ever since she'd first walked into the SGC and challenged him to an arm wrestle, Jack knew she was going to be trouble.
Not professionally, mind you, but personally. And he'd been right, every step of the way, he'd been right. He figured he deserved a medal for it, after all, how many other times in his life could Jack say he'd been right about something all along?
Jack breathed tensely and lifted his gaze, forcing himself to focus on general Hammond's words that floated down to the military group of people below the ramp. The Stargate behind the general only served to add to Jack's grief, reminding him of times to come, times where Carter wouldn't be there for him, wouldn't be there with him.
General Hammond's own eyes were shining with emotion, but no tears spilled as he spoke, "All in all, she will be missed. Samantha Carter touched everyone she came into contact with, not least of all us here at the SGC. She might be gone, but she will not be forgotten. I know for a fact that the major would not have liked us to mourn her death, but instead celebrate her life-"
Whatever else George said, went right past Jack as he shut himself off from the pain. If only he had been at home now. Then he could have opened his new six pack of Guinness and drink away his sorrow, hoping to somehow forget about the events of this past month. Maybe then, he could pretend that she was still alive. That Samantha Carter wasn't dead…
Jack felt his eyes stinging again and cleared his throat quietly from the painful clot that resided there, absently he shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
The ceremony slowly died down, a few airmen stayed behind to pay their respects to their fallen friend, it wasn't until then that Jack realized just how much Sam had meant to them all. Not just SG-1, but to this whole facility. Over in a corner, Jack could see colonel Sheppard and McKay, one talking away in a bitter frenzy, the other morosely staring at the silent Gate.
Jack forced a tight smile on his lips as Jacob Carter approached them, the pain in his eyes were evident to Jack. Jack could relate to him, after all, he had lost a child too once. He never wanted that kind of pain for anyone. No words passed between the retired general and the newly promoted one, just a look of true pain. Jack nodded and knew Jacob understood, something in the elder man's eyes told Jack that Jacob had also been clued into his feelings for Carter. Maybe he deserved a medal too…
Jacob joined the line, standing on Teal'c's other side, and silently all four men looked up at the Stargate, all remembering things of their own about Sam.
You know, you really will like me, once you get to know me.
Oh, I adore you already, Captain.
Jack let out a tense breath and shifted his eyes around the room, trying to get his mind off the situation. He was already halfway to the Land of the Disheartened, after all.
His eyes once more landed on McKay and Sheppard and a thought struck him. He distantly remembered Carter talking about McKay's latest experiments just a few weeks ago, something about solar flares. Now, if there was anything Jack knew about solar flares, it was that they could send you back in time. Into the past. Where Samantha was still alive, where she could stay that way.
Without a word, Jack stalked over to them, McKay seemed to shrink at the approaching general.
"General," Sheppard greeted, it wasn't the first time Jack had heard that title addressed to him. Though it was still new and he was far from used to it, for a second he'd thought Sheppard had been referring to Hammond, before remembering himself.
"Colonel," Jack said gruffly. "McKay, I need to talk to you. In private."
Without another word, Jack left the gate room, not bothering to see if the doctor had followed. As he stalked out, he brushed the tears away with the sleeve of his uniform jacket. It was one thing to let a few people see his weakness, but not for the entire facility, not now that it was over. Now that it was over, he was supposed to go back to being professional.
When Jack opened the door to the storage closet, he didn't care about the looks from the airmen who passed, neither did he particularly care for McKay's confused stuttering as he pushed the doctor in first, closing the door behind him.
Granted, Jack thought, as the entire room fell into darkness, he could have found someplace more suitable to talk, but he just didn't have the patience to find somewhere private.
"General?" Rodney's surprised voice reached him, Jack could hear the bitter edge to his voice, reminding him that McKay had mourned Sam too, just like the rest of them.
"McKay?" Jack retorted.
"Why are we in the storage closet?"
"Because I needed to talk to you, McKay."
There was a brief pause, "... In the storage closet?"
"No, dammit. I don't care where, I just needed to know something. From someone who knows these things," Jack said and reached out his hand to the light switch. The light blinded him momentarily but he blinked it away, focusing on the mission at hand. "Is it possible to travel back in time, to before Carter died, using solar flares?"
"Eh… Well, if you get an established wormhole that takes you within 70,000 miles of the sun and a solar flare occurs as you dial the Gate, you might be able to travel back in time. As you know, the solar flare would work as a slingshot, propelling you back to Earth. If you're lucky. And there are no guarantees when you'll arrive, you might arrive back at Earth a thousand years from now."
"Can you do some calculations? Find a solar flare to send me back a month in time?"
"Well, sir, that would take a lot of time on my part. I've been working on a way to predict a flare, but it's not something you calculate over night, and I'm going to need some huge machines to pull it off. And I have to calculate for the gravitational space/time warping-"
"McKay," Jack said, his voice a warning.
"Yes. I can do it," McKay nodded. Rodney's eyes were uncertain as they looked up at Jack. "Look, general. I know what you're asking of me. I'll do it, or at least try."
Jack was actually surprised that Rodney had agreed so readily, without even questioning him.
"I want her to live too, but do you really think this is the best way to get her back?" Rodney asked.
"If I go back, maybe I can change other things. This isn't the way it's supposed to be, you know," Jack said, with a meaningful look.
Rodney's eyes clouded with sadness momentarily and both men were reminded of what was really going on out there, reminded of the battle that had taken place out there, the many lives that had been lost in the chaos of war.
"I know," McKay said quietly. "I guess the question is, can you do it?"
"If you want to travel back in time, you'll need the Stargate. I don't think you have your superiors approval for this plan, do you?"
Jack sighed, "No. But I can do it. I don't think I have to tell you to keep this quiet, do I, McKay? Just between us."
"No, general," McKay shook his head. "I'll be as quiet as a mouse."
That, Jack figured, he'd believe only when he saw it. With a final nod, Jack turned around to exit the storage closet when McKay's voice reached him again.
"If I might be so bold as to ask, why are you doing this? Why do you want to go back for her?"
Jack halted, his back turned to McKay.
I didn't leave because I'd have rather died myself, then lose Carter.
Jack closed his eyes from the painful memory and didn't turn around as he responded, "No, you may not."
With that, he opened the door and stepped out, shutting it behind him. People stopped to watch him as he came to a halt in the corridor. Jack noticed Teal'c and Daniel watching him with confusion further away, tears still shining in their eyes.
"Jack?" Daniel asked, but Jack didn't listen. Instead he turned his back to them, all of them, and walked away, not bothering to respond to Daniel's continued calling. He turned off his ears to the outside world, walking straight past general Hammond and Jacob too, without really seeing them. All he saw now, was the chance to make things right again, a chance to save her.
Because I care about her, a lot more then I'm supposed to.