DISCLAIMER: We all know I own neither the characters nor the Stargate. That honor belongs to the folks at MGM, Showtime, SciFi Channel, Gekko, Double Secret, etc. etc. I'm just using their wonderful characters to think about life, the universe, and everything. <g>
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Though I have not yet seen the episode Heroes, this idea just would not leave me alone until I wrote it down. I'm not entirely comfortable writing from Sam's POV, so I hope I managed to get her voice somewhat right. As always, feedback is welcomed, but never required.
SPOILERS: Heroes 1 and 2 (and any episodes referring to the sarcophagus, the healing device, the Nox, or Oma Desala)
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SEASON: seven, set a few months after Heroes.

By ocean gazer


It's been three months, and there are times when I still can't believe she's gone.

Sometimes, I'll walk into the infirmary for my post-mission physical, and find myself scanning the room to see if she's the doctor on duty. Then I'll see Dr. Warner, clipboard clutched to his chest like a lifeline, his eyes distant and professional, and I have to swallow hard against the sudden lump in my throat. It's not that I dislike or distrust Warner; he's a good doctor. It's just that Janet had a way about her that was soothing. Her hands were always gentle, and even though she was demanding and tough-as-nails when necessary, I always knew that she cared. Not just about my injuries, but about me.

I'd never thought I'd miss her ministrations so much.

Sometimes, I'll walk into the commissary in the late evening for a cup of coffee and some dessert, and find myself standing there with my tray, searching for her familiar brown head. Then someone will glance up from their dinner, looking puzzled at my scrutiny, and I have to take a breath to steady myself. It's not that I dislike eating alone; I usually prefer it so that I can concentrate on my papers or books. It's just that when I ran into Janet here – when we were both taking a break from the unrelenting workload – it always gave me a bit of peace. She'd talk to me about Cassie or about her plans for the weekend, and I'd talk about what few non-work-related things I could come up with. Those moments helped keep me aware of the world outside of the SGC.

I never thought I'd miss our chats so much.

It hits me most often when I go home. I'll walk in the door, see Cassie sitting at my dining room table with homework scattered around her, and find myself automatically listening to see if I can pinpoint where Janet is. Then Cass will look up with her solemn eyes, and I'll have to blink hard to keep from crying. It's not that the two of them spent that much time at my house, but they were there enough over the last several years for Janet's presence to linger. The three of us would watch movies together – just have a girl's night in. And when I was sick or injured, she liked to come over and whip up a batch of homemade chicken noodle soup. It always made me feel like I wasn't so alone in the world, that I did have a family of sorts that I could rely on.

I never realized just how much her friendship meant to me.

It's been three months, and there are times when I still can't believe she's gone.

Maybe some people would call that denial or unhealthy repression or whatever the psychological buzzword of the week is. But that's not it, not really. I know I've barely begun to grieve – haven't had time to process the loss, truthfully. The work we do at the SGC, the duty we have to the safety of our world, doesn't stop to give us time to mourn. That's not denial. That's just fact. We keep soldiering on, keep putting on our bravest faces, and hope that grief will wait until we're ready for it.

Sometimes it does. Other times, it doesn't.

Maybe it's just me, but I find myself surprised that I'm not any better at dealing with death. I know how morbid that sounds. But I grew up a military brat and lost my mom when I was young. I learned early that death is a part of life; it's a lesson that's only been reinforced since I started working at the SGC. We've lost more people in the last seven years than I can count – good people. And through it all, I've just kept marching forward, doing my job, knowing that countless other lives depended on me doing my duty. My father taught me that when I was young, and being in the military has just reinforced that view. And I've tried to do just that – to stay focused and put personal things aside.

Sometimes it's worked. Much of the time, it hasn't.

I think Daniel has an idea how I feel. After his death, he saw how we grieved for the loss. And while his life has been as marked by death as mine has, he's never tried to play the good little soldier. He knows how close Janet and I were, and I think he sees that even though I'm doing my job, there's a part of me that's numb. And I think he also knows there's a part of me that just wants to scream about the unfairness of it all. He's been dropping by my office every day that we're on-world – talking philosophy and religion – about how death isn't an end but a beginning. I don't really want to hear it right now, but I try to be patient because I know he's trying to help. And he doesn't fidget uncomfortably if I get teary-eyed, and he puts his arm around me and tells me he knows what it's like to lose a friend.

I know he does. We all do. And we all know that time will – eventually – ease the pain.

But it's been three months, and I can't believe that she's gone. And I'm angry that she's gone.

I think, sometimes, that what's making this so hard is that we've been spoiled. We've gotten used to cheating death. We're out exploring among the stars, and we've stumbled across things that we never could have imagined. There's the Goa'uld sarcophagus and the Tok'ra healing device … the Asgard stasis chamber …all manner of alien technology that can heal or regenerate human flesh. We've met the Nox, who can return life to a dead person. And we've met Oma Desala and her crew – the ones who ascended Daniel to another plane of existence and then allowed him to descend and return to us. Hell, I've been dead myself and brought back to life. And it makes me angry that with all this technology and all these allies – Janet is dead. She's not coming back to life. My friend – no matter what Daniel says about the afterlife – is no longer flesh and blood. She's no longer a real, tangible presence in my life.

And maybe it's a philosophical failing on my part, but that's what matters to me.

I'll never again see her smile, feel her fingers pressed against my wrist to take my pulse, be able to laugh about bad movies with her. My friend is dead and it feels unfair.

We've been corrupted in some ways by our journeys through the stars. We've gotten used to rising from the dead. We've forgotten that most of the time that's simply not an option.

It's been three months, and while I'm still an uncomfortable mix of grief and numbness, I know that life will go on. I know I'll survive this loss, just as I've survived all the others.

It isn't easy, but it does help in some way to know that she was a soldier, that she accepted that it might be her fate to die in service to her country. Just like the rest of us. It helps to know that she chose this path – that she knew the potential price of being in the Air Force, of joining the Stargate program. She went in with her eyes wide open, willing to die if necessary to protect the civilians of this country – hell, of the entire world.

Her loyalty to duty, her compassion for her patients, and her willingness to stand up for her beliefs will linger in my memory and make me a better person for having had her as a part of my life. And even in my grief, I'm proud that my best friend sacrificed her life to save another.

It's been three years and I've come to terms with the fact that she's gone.

I just wish it didn't still hurt so much.

The End

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