The Ghost & Mrs. O'Neill

by Rebecca Ratliff


DATE: November 2004

ARCHIVE: If I haven't submitted to your archive, please ask.  (I'll say yes, I just like to know where it is.)

RATING:  PG-13, language, violence

CATEGORY:  AU, angst, supernatural, S/J, character death, 1st person

SPOILERS:  A tiny one for Abyss


SUMMARY:  I have no idea where this came from, but I think my allergy medicine may have contributed. Give it a chance. This isn'tyour average 17-hanky deathfic.

AUTHOR'S NOTES:  This story is humbly dedicated to the real-life heroes who gave their lives and to all those who remember them today.

All Stargate SG-1 characters are the property of Stargate SG-1 Productions (II) Inc., MGM Worldwide Television Productions Inc., Double Secret Productions, Gekko Film Corp and Showtime Networks Inc.  No infringement of those rights is intended. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended.  Anybody that you don't recognize is probably mine, so if you borrow them please send me an email to let me know where they are and have them home by midnight.  :)

FEEDBACK:  Much appreciated.

The only thing I can tell you is, when you get a real bad feeling about something, pay attention. If I had, I'd have taken some backup with me when I went over to George's place to see why he hadn't shown up for our weekly nine holes of golf last week, and things never would have gone so royally fubar. I knew there was something wrong. We haven't missed a game since he retired a year after I did. I knew he would have called me if something came up. Especially since we were planning to finish early. SG-1 was due back, and since it was Sam's and my second anniversary, I was intending to get her away from the mountain as soon as Dave finished the debriefing. Y'know, I never figured Dave Dixon for the desk job type, but it's worked out pretty well.

Anyway, when George didn't answer his phone, I figured he was sick or something. I didn't figure on a zatarc. Hell of a thing. We never even knew that the Henderson kid had been captured. He was supposed to be on leave, and Kelowna was supposed to be a secure planet. But somebody sold out. I walked right into the middle of it and got double-tapped with a zat before I knew anything was even wrong. Not that I'm complaining too much about that part. I've been dead enough times to know that there are worse ways than to walk in front of something you don't see coming. This time, there wasn't a sarcophagus handy, and it took the paramedics a couple minutes too long to get there. It gave George the chance to get to his sidearm, anyhow. By the time the cops and the paramedics got there, it was all over but the paperwork.

The part I am complaining about was, leaving George with a load of undeserved guilt, and leaving Sam, full stop. You see, George was supposed to die that day and somehow he knew I went in his place. It wasn't his fault. Somebody else somewhere in the great cosmic bureaucracy screwed up. Big time. See, I wasn't supposed to leave Sam alone. We were supposed to go out together about thirty years from now. Knowing what I know now, I'm glad I didn't have to make a choice between the two of them.

Something else you should not do is hang around your funeral. Just about everybody does the Tom Sawyer thing. You really want to know who showed up and who sent flowers and all that stuff. But don't stay for the service. I mean really. Most of the time dying isn't something you can help, and it will tear the heart out of you to see what your loved ones are going through. I'll never forget the look on George's face. Daniel and Paul Davis were still in shock, while Jonas and Teal'c were full of fury that didn't have a target since they didn't know yet who had zatarked Henderson. And Sam...God, I could see why we were supposed to go at the same time. She was deva stated. If Jacob and Teal'c hadn't been standing on either side of her I don't think she would have made it. I know damn well I wouldn't have if I'd been the one left.

By then I was starting to wonder what was going on. I had a feeling I should be seeing some pearly gates, or somebody with a halo, or for that matter I wouldn't have been surprised to see a guy with a pitchfork. But here I was, and no light at the end of the tunnel or anything like that. I was starting to catch on that someone had screwed up, but nobody was around yet to explain it to me.

For the next couple of days, I hung around Sam. I wasn't trying to contact her or even let her know I was there. All I could think was, she was still young and she should grieve and move on. But I couldn't bring myself to leave her all alone, either. Jacob stayed as long as he could, but he and Jonas both had to get back.

Sam acted like she was dealing. When she told Danny, Paul, and Teal'c that it was OK, they could go on home because she was worn out and going to sleep late, I fell for it too. I'd been worried, because I'd seen the look in her eyes before--in the mirror right after Charlie died. But she'd locked her sidearm in the safe and poured herself a stiff one, and gone up to bed.

I saw the paper lying on the coffee table and stopped to read the sports page. I mean, I don't turn the TV on when people are in the house or any of that haunting crap. But I did want to see the box scores. Then I went upstairs to check on Sam.

There are a lot of ways to take yourself out if that's what you're going to do, and I figured Sam for eating her sidearm. I was really wrong. She had run herself a nice tub of water and she was going to cut her wrists. I had no doubt that she knew how to do it right.

"Sam, no! Stop! Christ, Sam, don't do this!" I was screaming at the top of my lungs and she couldn't hear me. "SAM!"

I couldn't get through to her, but I'd figured out how to move stuff around, like turning the pages of the newspaper. I grabbed her knife and threw it out the window.

That got her attention. She looked around the bathroom and the expression on her face went from fury to hope. "...Jack? Did you do that?"

Now this of all times is when this guy in a white suit appears in the middle of my bedroom, snaps his fingers, and Sam freezes. So, I noticed, did the bedroom clock. "Jack, you need to come with me now."

"This is a real bad time, buddy." If he'd had any sense he'd have taken the hint from my tone of voice and made himself scarce right then. I guess you just can't expect angels to have a whole lot of common sense for some reason. I was going to be seeing way too much of this sanctimonious pain in the mik'ta, but that was later.

"She'll be fine now. It's time for you to go."

"I'm not leaving her like this." I was ready to knock him on his ass, angel or devil either one. "Now you show up?"

"Yes, well, I'm sorry about that, but there's been a mistake. It wasn't your time but it's too late to change that now."

"Oh, yeah? What kind of a mistake?"

So that was how I found out what had gone wrong.

"Let me see if I've got this straight. Because someone Up There screwed the pooch, Sam and I've been cheated out of everything we hoped and dreamed about for eight damn years. Never mind me right now, look at what you did to her. And now you think I should be a good little boy scout and go with you and leave her here to deal with yourmess by herself? Like hell. I'm supposed to be with her for the rest of her life? Well, that's what I'm gonna do, and believe me, you are so not gonna get in my way. I don't care who you are. I expect I could make a lot of noise about this to your Boss, now couldn't I?"

I'd guessed right, he started sweating. "Err, well, you're within your rights to stay here with your wife, if it's what you want..."

"OK, that's what I want. And if you mess up again and screw her out of just five minutes, I'll be right here waiting for you."

He seemed to think he'd got off easy. The clock started ticking again.

Sam looked around. "Jack? Let me know if you're here!"

I floated her bathrobe over to her. She grabbed it. "Where are you? What's happening?"

I took a step towards our visitor. "You let her see me. Let me talk to her!"

"All right, but you won't be real to anyone else."

"Just do it and get the hell out!" I don't know if I actually could have broken his neck, but if he hadn't done what I told him, I was sure going to try. He snapped his fingers again then disappeared.

Sam gasped and grabbed the door frame.

"Sam? Sammie? Can you see me now?"

"Oh, Jack."

I wanted to hold her, but I hadn't figured out how to step back into the real world yet. At least she could see and hear me now. "Sam, don't do this. You've gotta promise me you won't hurt yourself."

"I--I'm sorry--I don't know how I'm going to do this. It isn't right." She was crying so hard, and I couldn't do a damn thing.

"I know, baby, I know. I wasn't supposed to leave you. I'm the one who's sorry. But I can stay, as long as you want me anyhow."

"Then I'll be OK," she said. "I'm sorry. That was a stupid, cowardly thing I tried to do."

"No, honey. Don't tell George, he feels bad enough, but we were supposed to die together a long time from now. You pegged it, this just isn't right. Believe me, I understand where you were coming from."

She sat down on the side of the bed. "Jack, if I'm dreaming, promise me I'll never wake up."

"Sam, it isn't a dream. Nobody but you can see me, I guess, but I'll be here for you as long as you want me around. I'm not going anywhere."

She finally just let herself cry. For a long time, I don't know how long, all I could do was just sit there beside her and talk her through it. Finally I figured out how to get back to the real world.  Nothing has ever felt better than having her in my arms again. Eternity without being able to touch her, kiss her? I wouldn't have lasted another five minutes. She kissed back and I could taste the salt in her tears. Now she was crying from relief instead of sorrow, and I have to admit I wasn't exactly dry eyed myself.

Finally she cried herself to sleep. I pulled the quilt over us and held her. It was a long time before I fell asleep.

And that brings us up to today. This morning, Sam didn't want to let me out of her sight, not that I could blame her for feeling that way, so I went in to the mountain with her. Nobody else could see me. It's probably a good thing that Sam was keeping such a close eye on me, because I could see lots of interesting things I could do now that I was invisible and could walk through walls. It's probably also a good thing that she realized she was the only one who could see and hear me. Otherwise she would have had everyone thinking that she was crazy.

She did tell the team. At first, they didn't believe her, of course. They weren't sure whether to humor her or what--especially Paul, who was still relatively new to the three-ring circus that is SG-1, getting the field experience he needed to move up. I had to do something to corroborate her story, so I opened Daniel's locker, grabbed a shoe and threw it at him. This time it hit instead of going right through him like before.

His eyes opened wide as two saucers. To this day he still doesn't remember much of what happened while he was ascended, but he remembered that. "Guys...she's telling the truth. That was Jack."

Teal'c smiled and inclined his head in my general direction. Regardless of what the angel had said, I swear he can see me, even if he has better sense than admit he sees dead people. Paul grinned like the Cheshire cat and exclaimed, "Son of a bitch! I should've known you'd be one hell of a lot harder to get rid of than that!"

Maybe it's all the unbelieveable crap we've been through over the years that nothing, but nothing, seems really unbelieveable any more.  From that minute I was back on the team, end of discussion, even though it was quite a while after that before I got things fixed so that I could appear to anybody I wanted to. They got down to business looking over telemetry for their next mission.

Anyway that was when the guy in the white suit showed back up. He looked really nervous and I sure wasn't in any mood to make him more comfortable. "I thought I told you to get lost."

"Well, err, that's a little awkward, you see. I've been assigned to be your guardian angel. SG-1's, I should say. You'll be gratified to know that the Home Office was very upset about all this. I'm supposed to do everything I can to make up for it. But it's a little more complicated than that. The situation being what it is, there are things you'll be able to do now to solve problems and make a difference in situations where a person who's still, err, on that side can't. I'll be your, let's say, advisor in situations like that."

"This is just peachy. These folks have one of the most dangerous jobs in the galaxy and for a guardian angel they get you?"

"I know, I thought it should be one of the others with a lot more experience with this kind of thing, but the Home Office always has a good reason for the things that happen."

I shook my head. The Pentagon has nothing on these guys. "All right, what's your name?"

"Matthew. Matthew Riley."

"OK, Matthew, since I'm pretty sure I don't have the authority to kick you off the team, get ready to go to work. For now there are just two rules you need to remember. One. Carter's in charge, you
do whatever she tells you."

"What's the other rule?"

"See rule number one. Welcome to the US Air Force, Matthew."

He shut up and paid attention to the mission planning session. After two years' absence, so did I. Things change in two years.

I tried not to act too smug about the confused look on Matthew's face. This might not suck after all.


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