DISCLAIMER: I don't own them. Other people do. Any questions? <g>
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I realize I don't have Sam's voice exactly right here, since she's a hard character to get inside. My apologies if my effort completely sucks. Even though they'll never read this, it's dedicated to my family.
SEASON: 2, set between Secrets and The Tok'ra (with spoilers for both).
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

All That Remains
By ocean gazer


When I was a little girl, I thought my dad was Superman. Not in the literal sense, of course. Even at an early age, I was well aware of the difference between fantasy and reality. But to me, Dad was always larger than life. Invincible. A hero.

He'd put on his uniform and pick up his gun and head out for months at a time. Off fighting the bad guys is what he always told me. I missed him when he was gone, but I knew what he did was important. It kept people safe. It kept me safe. He always warned us that he might not come back someday, but I never believed him. Odd … I was the child who wanted proof of everything, and yet I took it on faith that my father was indestructible, that there was nothing that could hurt him.

He always came home in one piece. And then he'd be busy around the house – fixing the little things that invariably broke while he was away, then getting bored and deciding to remodel something. Or he'd spend hours working on the neighbors' car … or fixing Mark's bike … or some other project that kept his hands busy. There was nothing he couldn't do. It seemed like he could fix anything, like he could find a solution to any problem. There were days when I'd follow him around like a shadow, traipsing along beside him in my overalls and tool belt. Mom made them to look just like a miniature version of Dad's work clothes. He never seemed all that happy to have a tagalong and he never said much to me. But he'd ask me to hand him his tools and he'd let me watch what he was doing. I loved just being there with him. I wanted to grow up and be like him – to be the person who could figure out how to do anything. I wanted him to be proud of me. I spent my whole life trying to please my very own superhero – my dad – and never once have I come close to feeling like my best was enough for him.

Even now, in my thirties and leading my own life, it still hurts to know he's disappointed in me. If only I could tell him that I am following my dream, that I'm traveling through the stars. But the Stargate program is so classified that even he can't know what I'm doing. I can't tell him why I don't want to go to NASA. I'm not even sure he'd accept it if I could explain it to him … because he always wants more from me. Always wants me to do what he thinks is best for me. It doesn't matter that I never asked him to pull any strings for me. It doesn't matter that I've told him before that I'm happy in my life. All he can see is what he wants me to be. And once he's set his mind on something, he'll never let it go. He's going to go to his deathbed feeling like his daughter has failed him yet again. Just like I always have.

There's a part of me that wishes I didn't care so much what he thinks. It's not like he's been around a lot in the years since Mom died and he and Mark became estranged. He pretty much left me to my own devices. And it's not like we've ever been close emotionally. He's too stoic and demanding. And I'm too stubborn and lost in my own head. Mom used to bridge that gap for us, used to help us show our feelings a little more easily. But when she died, our relationship died a little bit too. Dad and I are too alike in the worst ways … the ways that make it hard for us to really open up to each other. I should just let go of it all and stop caring what he thinks of me. But I can't, not really. No matter how much I know my work is important, no matter how happy I am with my life, I still want his approval. I want to – for once – feel like he's proud of his daughter. I'd give a whole lot of things to hear my dad say – just one time – "I'm proud of you, Sam."

And now, I don't think I'll ever get that chance. After arguing with me about NASA, he dropped a bomb on me and told me he has cancer. Terminal cancer. I felt like I'd been hit in the chest with a shovel when I heard the words. And I tried to talk to him, to fix what's wrong between us, but he pushed me away. It didn't surprise me, not really. It's how he always deals with things. Hell, it's how I usually deal with things. But this is different. This is important. He's talking about dying like it's already happened, and he won't talk to me about it or let me be with him. And while it didn't surprise me, it did hurt. A lot.

I want to be there for him, the way he was there for me when I was a kid. But he won't let me. I know he doesn't want to be vulnerable with anyone. I know he doesn't want me to see him when he's scared. But I think he needs me; I'm all he's got since he and Mark still aren't speaking. And even if he doesn't need me, I need him. I want to sit down and talk to him – tell him how much I love him and how much I've always admired him. I need to tell him how I feel about him, before it's too late. But anytime I try, he walks out on me or hangs up the phone.

I don't want my dad to die, but there's nothing I can do to stop it. There's nothing I can do to fix what's wrong. And I especially don't want him to die alone. But he's not going to let me be there. I already know that. Even when he told me he had cancer, he was desperately trying to hide just how sick he was. And I know, in the back of my mind, that he hadn't planned to tell me at all. I think the only reason he did was because he was trying to guilt trip me into doing what he wanted.

It about killed me to lose my mom. Even now, I still struggle with bouts of sorrow. But the one thing that I have as consolation is that with her, there was nothing left unsaid. She knew how much I loved her and how much she meant to me. And she always made sure to tell me how much she loved me and how proud she was of the things I did. I'm not sure how I'll cope with losing my dad. I don't know how I'll deal with all the regrets of things left unsaid … how I'll deal with never knowing just what we meant to each other. How I'll deal with the guilt if he keeps pushing me away. How I'll deal with having to watch my once invincible father fading away a piece at a time. I still can't quite believe it's happening. Not like this, with his body wasting away inch by inch. He deserved to go down fighting … to be tough and strong 'til the end.

I know that somehow I'll soldier on. Somehow, I'll find a way to work through the pain. I've done it before and I know I'll do it again. I've got Janet to lean on … and she always finds a way to soothe my demons when they overwhelm me. And I've got my team and General Hammond. They all understand loss and the persistence of pain. And they all know how to just keep on going in spite of it all. It'll be hard, harder than I can even imagine. No matter how much death you see, nothing prepares you for each new loss. But I do know I'll find a way through it. After all, my dad taught me about discipline and perseverance.

I'm not someone who spends much time reliving the past. My focus has always been on the future. But still, just for a moment, I wish I could go back in time. Back to when I was little and the world was simple. Back to when my dad was Superman and nothing could ever hurt him.

The End

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