Content Warning: None.
Summary: Jack took Crystalline Charlie back through the gate, returning him home. All that remained was for him to deal with the aftermath. Episode Tag for Cold Lazarus.
Spoilers: Season 1 episode ‘Cold Lazarus’
Acknowledgements: Quote from John 11:41-44 (BibleGateway dot com)
Disclaimer: The Stargate characters, storylines, etc aren’t mine. I am unfortunately not associated in any way with the creators, owners, or producers of Stargate or any of its media franchises. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, equipment, etc are the property of whoever owns them. Any original characters and plot and anything else I made up are the property of me, the author. No copyright infringement is intended.
Copyright (c) 2009 ShaViva
“He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" And he that was dead came forth.”
John 11: 41-44
“Keep the lights on,” O’Neill said softly, looking back at his team standing at the bottom of the ramp. “I'll be back.”
Holding out his hand, Jack felt the small hand of his son placed within his. Grasping it tightly, he looked at the open wormhole ... pausing for a moment, the two then walked forward slowly and disappeared from view.
The yellow sandy brightness of P3X-562 stabbed Jack’s eyes but for once he hesitated to put his sunglasses on. He wanted to see Charlie clearly for what little time remained.
Sure, he knew it wasn’t really Charlie ... knew that his boy could never be returned to him. It didn’t make it any easier ... any more poignant to be faced with the living, breathing image of his son.
There was both joy and sadness in seeing Charlie again ... something that Jack couldn’t resist living for the moments he’d been given.
They walked from the Stargate in silence ... Jack holding Charlie’s hand the entire journey. At the top of the dune leading down to the crystal gravesite, they stopped.
“It’s time,” Charlie said sadly, turning to look up at his father.
“I know,” Jack replied softly.
“I am sorry I could not ... fix you,” Charlie’s brown eyes glistened with tears. “The hurt you carry inside that will remain when I return to my true form.”
“I’m not,” Jack dropped to his knees in front of the boy, putting a hand to each of his shoulders. “There are some things that can’t be fixed ... that shouldn’t be fixed. You ... Charlie was important. He shouldn’t be ... gone. I need that feeling ... that injury you sensed. It’s a part of me now just as he was.”
“You blame yourself,” Charlie sniffed, rubbing a hand over his face.
“Yes,” Jack said simply. Nothing more needed to be said.
“Make room for Charlie to be alive in your heart and he will never be gone,” the boy spoke. “It is wrong to hold only his death inside.”
“I’ll try,” Jack promised, swallowing hard at the sadness and grief welling within him.
“Sara O’Neill ... you will speak to her?” Charlie asked hopefully. “My appearance ... hurt her.”
“I know,” Jack agreed. “I’ll talk to her.”
“Thank you,” Charlie smiled. “Thank you for returning me to the Stargate.”
“Thank you for showing me Charlie again,” Jack replied.
Charlie wrapped his small arms around the Colonel’s shoulders, resting his weight against his father. Jack didn’t resist, folding his arms around the boy and holding him tight, dropping his chin down to rest on the top of Charlie’s head.
A few moments later Jack broke away, getting to his feet.
“Bye ... Dad,” Charlie replied, grinning exactly as Jack remembered. Jack didn’t understand how it was possible for this entity to take on more than just the appearance of his son but it every way but reality it was Charlie.
“Goodbye Charlie,” Jack said, his throat tight with suppressed emotion.
“You will be well,” Charlie said confidently, sounding suddenly wise beyond the years of his outward appearance. Turning, he walked down the dune towards the crystals, glancing over his shoulder once. There was a flash of intense blue light and then he was gone.
“Goodbye Charlie,” Jack whispered again.
Pulling his sunglasses over his eyes Jack walked back to the Stargate, dialled Earth and entered his code.
His team was standing at the bottom of the ramp as though they hadn’t moved while he’d been away.
“Jack?” Daniel’s face was concerned as he watched O’Neill approach.
“Not now Daniel,” Jack replied, walking passed them and continuing out of the Gateroom straight to the locker room.
Focussing on doing what he needed to get out of the mountain, Jack showered and changed into civilian clothes.
“The loss of a child is a great burden,” Teal’c spoke from the doorway. “But not to speak of your son does neither of you a service.”
“I know,” Jack replied, keeping his eyes on the inside of his locker. The Van Dyck cigar box sat there in prominence ... the summation of his most precious memories stuffed inside one small box. “I know,” he said again, closing the door on all of it. “Not today,” Jack ground out.
“I will be here when you are ready O’Neill,” Teal’c promised.
Nodding wordlessly, Jack walked past the other man. He had a promise to keep.
Pulling up outside the attractive suburban home, Jack sat in the driver’s seat, delaying the moment. Sighing, he turned off the engine and got out, walking slowly up the path and ringing the bell.
Sara opened the door, standing to the side to let him in, neither of them saying anything. Leading him to the living room, Sara sat, regarding Jack silently for a few moments.
“How?” she finally asked, her voice thick with unshed tears. “How Jack? I don’t understand! That was ... that boy was Charlie.”
“He looked like Charlie,” Jack corrected gently. There was no need to remind them both that their Charlie was gone and couldn’t return.
“When you came here earlier I thought ... you seemed so different but I thought it was just that you were finally ready to talk,” Sara’s eyes glistened with tears, her voice tormented. “But it wasn’t you ... it was ... whatever that was.”
“I’m sorry Sara,” Jack moved to sit on the couch beside her, putting his arm around her. That was enough to break her, the sobs rising up from so deep inside that both of them shook with the force of it. Jack said nothing, squeezing her tightly, as though that along could hold them both together.
Eventually the rush of intense emotion was spent and Sara stopped crying, resting her head against Jack’s shoulder until she felt calm enough to speak.
“God Jack,” Sara said, raising her head to look at him, her voice raw. “To see Charlie like that ... to feel the hope that he really was alive,” her face filled with grief. “It was cruel ... holding his hand ... feeling him ... only to see you walk away like that.”
“It wasn’t my choice Sara,” Jack tried to explain. “But it was my fault ... I can’t tell you how ... I’m not sure I understand it myself. But that ... person ... thing ... whatever ... it took everything you saw from me ... somehow ...,” trailing off Jack waited for her to make the connection, to understand what he was trying to tell her.
“He said what you never could,” Sara concluded.
“I’m guessing so,” Jack agreed. “Whatever he said? I should have said it a long time ago, before ...”
“Before it was too late,” Sara concluded. “You blamed yourself ... I knew that but ... leaving because you thought it would be easier for me? That was wrong Jack. We could have helped each other.”
“I could have helped you,” Jack corrected. “But ... I didn’t want to be helped. I couldn’t ... I can’t let you forgive me Sara because I’ll never forgive myself.” Standing up abruptly, Jack moved to look out the windows, flinching when he felt her hand at his shoulder.
“But maybe now you can remember the good that was Charlie too,” she suggested tearfully.
“Maybe,” Jack agreed, pulling her into his arms and hugging her close.
This time her tears were gentler ... healing rather than an expression of grief. She wasn’t crying for her child but for the man she loved and the now certain knowledge that he would never be hers again.
It wasn’t her fault ... it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was just the way it had to be ... for both of them.
“Thanks for coming Jack,” she stepped away, swiping a self conscious hand over the damp patches on his shirt. “I have questions about how I could see what I saw today but ... I know you can’t tell me the truth.”
“I will if it’ll help,” Jack offered, meaning every word.
“No,” Sara thought for a moment before deciding. “I think life will be simpler if I don’t know. Just ...,” she looked into his eyes imploringly. “Just ... be careful Jack ... would you?”
“I’ll try,” Jack promised. Putting a hand to her face, Jack brushed the last of the tears away. “You okay?” he asked.
“No,” Sara said simply. “But I will be.”
Nodding, Jack stroked her face again. Both knew it was time for him to leave. Sara stood in the doorway, silently watching him go, sure that it would be the last.
It was time for her to move on.
Jack walked to the car, his steps slow and measured. Sunglasses on again, he squinted back towards the house and raising a hand to Sara. Getting in, he gunned the engine before pulling away.
It was time to get back to work.