Category: Angst, (pre-) romance
Spoilers: Through "Affinity"
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me; no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This was written for ctorres, through fandom_charity. She requested Sam/Teal'c, and also wanted hurt/comfort. I hope this suffices.
WARNING: Character death.
She hates silence.
Before her mother died, silence was her refuge. It allowed her to escape the pressures of school and family. After, though, it only gave her too much time to linger on her losses.
She watches the sedan pull away from the curb. The falling darkness gives the window a reflective surface. She can see the tears streaking her face.
She turns away from her reflection. She notes absently that wax is beginning to puddle under the candles on the table. She takes a step toward the dining room.
Her breath leaves her as she realizes he won't be back. He won't walk through the door, calling her name and asking her how the galaxy is doing today. He won't tease her about forgetting that candles melt.
Pete is dead.
Her knees strike the hardwood floor.
There's a rainbow on the wall opposite her. She blinks grainy eyes and stands up. Her knees are killing her.
She's starting to sound like General O'Neill.
The rainbow moves across the wall. She glances down at her hand. Her diamond ring refracts the sun streaming through the window. The colors play across the ceiling as she twists the ring off her finger.
Her right hand clenches into a fist as she brings it to her heart. The bite of the metal and stone bring her back to herself.
The knock on the door sends a rush of adrenaline through her veins. There's been a mistake. It wasn't Pete. He's coming home... She throws open the door.
Tears fill her eyes again when she sees Daniel's smiling face.
The phone had apparently been ringing all night long. The mineral deposits on 653 are 'absolutely fantastic', as an excited tech had chirped into her answering machine. Not those exact words, of course, but Sam has been doing this long enough to read between the lines. Enough to know that a team had been sent on a mission that morning--one she had been itching to go on for a week.
Daniel says nothing as he cleans up the mess from the night before. Sam misses his usual patter of one-sided conversation. Trivia--even just the sound of his voice--would help to take her mind off the pain.
She snorts, and Daniel looks at her. She sounds like an angsty teenager.
She hears the phone being dialed. In the silence of the house, she can hear the other end of the line being picked up. Daniel murmurs something into the phone and hangs up.
What seems like scant minutes later, two more visitors show up at her front door.
She wants to ask why they're there. She wants to say that they have jobs to do--very important ones. She wants to cry, to scream, to push them away.
She watches them, dry-eyed. They watch her, wondering what she will do next, she guesses.
She stands. Three pairs of eyes follow her as she picks up the telephone.
For the first time in hours, she speaks. Her voice is hoarse.
"Maureen? It's Sam. I'm sorry I didn't call earlier."
Her late fiancÚ's mother blows her nose and thanks her for loving her son.
Pete's partner gives the eulogy. It's the only part of the funeral she remembers clearly.
Pete hated poetry, Michael says. He almost failed freshman English. Sam almost smiles, remembering flowery words against her skin.
Pete hated poetry, but he loved music. The man behind the lectern chokes on a pained laugh as he tells the mourners about the time he told his partner that music was just poetry set to words. Sam can envision the scene perfectly.
The Irish are natural storytellers, after all. Pete kept her laughing for hours at tales of his childhood.
It's a beautiful service. Or so they tell her. How can it be beautiful? The man she loves is dead. Killed in the line of duty. It sounds so noble, so honorable.
Go ahead, she thinks bitterly. Say what really happened. Shot by a drug addict desperate for his next high.
Sometimes she wonders why she has dedicated her life to saving the human race.
The lab hums with activity. Literally hums. She can hear electricity traveling through wires over the clacking of the keyboard.
The screen blurs before her eyes, and she blinks. When the glow has faded, she looks up.
"Go home, Colonel." The words are gentle, but obviously an order.
She doesn't have the energy to argue. She stands and replies, "Yes, sir." She looks past him. She doesn't know whether to be angry or grateful that her teammates are standing there, waiting.
She doesn't miss the glance that passes between Daniel and General O'Neill. She looks to Teal'c. The pity she's been dreading so much is absent from his eyes.
Her lab coat is replaced by her leather jacket. Her keys are plucked out of her hand. The glare she directs at Daniel is met with an innocent blue gaze.
The silence that has invaded her world follows her down the corridor.
Glaring at Daniel has become repetitive. "Hypocrite."
He shrugs slightly. "Not my orders."
"Should you not try to sleep, Colonel Carter?"
Sleep. Ha. Yeah, right. "I'd love to, Teal'c, but..."
But she can't. She lies in her bed and stares at the ceiling all night, watching shadows travel across the ceiling. She closes her eyes and tries to breathe evenly, but when she does, she imagines Pete lying beside her.
She would love to sleep. She's exhausted enough by now that she wouldn't dream.
"May I suggest a glass of warm milk?"
Her nose wrinkles. When she looks at Teal'c, his face is as inscrutable as ever.
Daniel laughs when she says, "I think I'd prefer beer."
She craves silence.
All around the base, people are active. However, she knows of one room where she can find silence, if not peace.
She doesn't remember the first time she did this. She thinks it was after her second time off-world after... after Pete's funeral. There had been a battle. The explosions rang in her ears, even after returning.
She went through all of the post-op medical procedures, itching underneath her skin. This itch wasn't physical, though she did squirm a bit, waiting impatiently for the doctor to finish.
She'd tried to work on a myriad of projects. She'd even humored General O'Neill when he stopped by for a visit-slash-paperwork-avoidance session. Nothing could get rid of the buzzing in the back of her mind.
She hadn't wanted to listen to Daniel lecture; even she had her limits on fascinating scientific discoveries.
She doesn't bother to knock on the door before she opens it. She did, that first time. Now she knows his routine, and has incorporated it into her own.
It is no longer awkward. She does not need to speak, like she had the first time. Everything had spilled out that day. His eyes had focused on hers, and he did not seem annoyed by the interruption.
When she had finished, he had simply nodded and closed his eyes once more.
Now, she sits on the floor. Sometimes she closes her eyes; sometimes, she watches him quietly. He no longer bothers to open his eyes. He knows it is her.
The candles flicker and dance, casting their bright shadows over the gray walls like stars in the night sky.
A universe within a universe. This is her reality.
She's alone in the gym. It cleared out soon after she arrived. The look on her face boded ill for anyone in her path.
Not guilty. She slams her fist into the punching bag.
Not. Fucking. Guilty.
Sweat mixes with her tears. How the hell... there had been three eyewitness, and that wasn't including his partner!
She wants to hurt someone. She wants to go out and hunt down that bastard that killed her fiancÚ. But she can't.
Not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.
The metallic taste of anger bubbles up under her tongue. Defect. She'd give him a defect...
"Get out, Teal'c," she snaps, losing her concentration.
She's never truly certain what she expected. His body moving between her and the punching bag isn't it.
"What do you want?"
"Daniel Jackson told me about the verdict." His imperturbable calm pisses her off.
"Yeah?" She puts her hands on her hips, breathing heavily.
"I am sorry."
A bitter laugh that she doesn't expect escapes. "So am I, Teal'c. So am I." She turns away, trying to hide her pain. "Now if you'll excuse me, I have a mission to prep for."
Teal'c lays a hand on her shoulder. He's never been a touchy-feely type, and it takes her by surprise. "The mission has been cancelled."
She knows he can feel her tense. "Why?" She doesn't really want to know.
"The natives seem to be rather... inhospitable." Is that flat tone... amusement?
"I see." She shakes him off and heads for the locker room. She flips the sign to the female side and strips off her sweaty t-shirt.
She turns on the shower until it's scalding. The hot water masks her tears, but nothing can hide the sobs forcing their way from her throat.
There are no candles lit in his quarters. Instead, the electric light is on. Sam frowns and runs her fingers through her still-wet hair.
"I'm sorry, Teal'c." Her voice is husky from her recent tears.
He stands from his seat on the bed. His eyes are dark and understanding. She reads the knowledge of the pain of loss, of the thirst for vengeance, of the ache of acceptance, in every line of his body.
He closes the door.
She turns out the light.
Outside, their worlds keep turning.
Since I lost you I am silence-haunted,
Sounds wave their little wings
A moment, then in weariness settle
On the flood that soundless swings.
Whether the people in the street
Like pattering ripples go by,
Or whether the theatre sighs and sighs
With a loud, hoarse sigh:
Or the wind shakes a ravel of light
Over the dead-black river,
Or night's last echoing
Makes the daybreak shiver:
I feel the silence waiting
To take them all up again
In its vast completeness, enfolding
The sound of men.
--"Silence", D.H. Lawrence