Disclaimer: I own nothing of SG1 or of BtVS, although I would like to own Michael Shanks, I would be such a happy girl. LOL.
Kawalsky leaned back in his chair, laughing at the thunderstruck expression on his friend's face.
"I did what?" Two air men that had been walking past shot the Colonel startled glances at his incredulous tone.
The major smirked.
"Oh yeah; General Orlando never even knew who flew them on the flag pole. It was there half a day just waving in the wind outside of his office. Hell, he threatened the entire base with a court martial if no one came forward. Two weeks later he was transferred."
Jack shook his head. He remembered thinking about it, sure, and who hadn't? The general had been an ass in more than one way. But he'd never acted on the impulse, even after he had learned about the heart-spotted boxers that the general was rumored to have owned.
His alternate from the other reality had not only been happily married, but he'd also flown a General's undies on a flag pole. Damn, he'd have to top that somehow.
"I recognize that gleam," Kawalsky said, a hint of a smile on his face. The Major burst out with a loud laugh at the 'who, me?' look that Jack gave him, nearly tipping back his chair.
"So what about you, Kawalsky? What happened?" Jack had almost called him Charlie, just barely himself. For a moment the Colonel had to remind himself that his Charlie, the man after whom he had named his own son was dead, and even though this was Charles Kawalsky, it wasn't Charlie Kawalsky.
The remembered realization hurt, even more than he would ever be willing to admit. Just another person the Colonel had failed to save and the man sitting in front of him was another bitter sweet reminder of the friend he had lost.
A little voice in Jack's head calmly pointed out that this wasn't Charlie, that it was a double from another reality. This was a man Jack didn't know even though he felt as though he did, and Jack shouldn't let himself get to caught up because it would be like losing Charlie all over again when they finally figured out a way to send the wayward travelers some where safe. Jack, however, had never been really good at doing the smart thing, and luckily, Jack was really good at ignoring the little voices in his head.
After all, it was the same little voice, more then a little prudish, that had been the reason he hadn't flown those boxers in the first place in his own reality. Slapping a smile on his face, Jack focused on Kawalsky's face, and watched as a shadow passed over his friend's face, the infectious smile Jack had remembered so well faltering, and Jack regretted the question. "Listen, you don't have to--"
Kawalsky shook his head. "No, it's okay. I got engaged. About four years ago. To a cheerleader, if you can believe it."
"Yeah, a cheerleader. Well, she was one in high school, anyway. I met her the summer she came and visited Sammy and... her husband. It was love at first sight. She was...incredible."
Kawalsky fell silent, his eyes darkening with the memories.
"She died less then a year after we were married, exactly fourteen months after we had met. It was before the damn snakes even started attacking. She and her wh-partner were attacked coming back from a...a stakeout and...things got bad. They had been left for dead in some alley. I hadn't even known she had been injured until I reached the hospital. Didn't know any of the particulars because I had been on a mission, out of communication for two days, while two SG teams had been tearing the planet apart looking for me. I was just told there had been an emergency and that she had been injured. No body wanted to talk about it. Even the General on the ride to the hospital, it was like by admitting how bad she had been injured every one would have had to admit that she might not be able to bounce back." Jack shifted in his chair, not sure what to do or say. He'd never been good at comforting. Or loss. The handling of his own losses were evidence of that. So he just sat, silently listening. Giving Kawalsky a chance to share his grief like his best friend would.
"By the time I got to the hospital, her partner had died and she had been nearly bled dry. Nothing the doctors were saying seemed to make sense. I couldn't even believe that there was a possibility she wouldn't be able to recover. They just kept saying the damage was just too bad and there was nothing more they could do." Kawalsky stopped, unshed tears gathering in his eyes. Jack remained quiet, watching as the other man shut his eyes, his throat moving as he fought against his emotions. They remained in silence for several moments until the Major finally opened his eyes, the pain lessened, but still shining brightly from the brown depths. "I'd always expected me to be the one who died first. I'd never thought she'd leave me behind instead, she was even better than yo-than General O'Neill about getting out of tight spots. Samantha had been with Beth since she came out of surgery. And I remember the moment I saw Sammy, saw the grief already so heavy around her that it was all true. That there was nothing more to do. She told me Beth had been askin' for me. Said she was just holdin' on. They hadn't even told her that Merrick was dead, they were too afraid that she would die right then and there. She was hooked up to so many damned machines. But she woke up when I picked up her hand, she smiled at me, and then she died. I would've lost it, if it hadn't been for you and Sammy."
Jack heard the slip as the man said 'you' and not the General or John and his heart squeezed painfully. "She was a cop?" He asked softly.
Kawalsky smiled sadly. "Yeah, buddy, something like that."
Straightening up, Kawalsky leaned onto the table top, worry etching his face. "Sammy's gonna be okay, right? I mean, once they figure something out? I know what the doc said, but still..."
"Don't worry, she'll be fine. Between the two of them, I'm sure they will come up with something." There was a pause as Jack was trying to figure out how to ask the next question. "You really care for her, don't you? You never even really knew her in this reality."
"Yeah, she's the only thing I have left of Beth."
Jack raised an eyebrow at the statement, not quite able to link the two together.
"Beth," Kawalsky prompted, raising his own eye brow when Jack remained perplexed, "I promised her before she died that I'd always take care of her sister. It's the one promise that I intend to keep."
"Sister? You mean Carter had a sister?"
Kawalsky looked a little surprised at the question. "Well, yeah; it was always a joke between us, about the two of them marrying into the military. Huh, I guess she didn't exist in this reality. Too bad, Jack, you would have loved her."
Jack smiled, and turned the conversation to happier memories, nodding when Kawalsky's smile turned grateful at the change of topics. Jack understood how even time couldn't lessen some pains.
The two continued to talk for hours, catching up on a lifetime that they hadn't shared, each pretending that it was their old friend who was sitting before them. Each one pretending that, for the night, their ghosts didn't exist. Remembering happier times that seemed -- now, more then ever -- to be so far away.
*Just to let you know its set after Chosen and post season two of SG1, though I haven't decided exactly when. The next chapter will be on the two Sam's and then I'll fast forward a little.
Any way, hope you enjoyed and please review. It helps to prompt the muse onwards and forwards.