“You’re really quiet tonight.” Pete touches my shoulder and I realize I’m staring at the speaker rather than the television.
“I’ve been watching the movie.” I shift away from him.
Pete quirks his brow, reminding me of Teal’c. “Then what’s happened?”
I gesture furtively at the screen. “The cops—got the bad guy.”
“There’s still another hour left.”
“Is there?” I’ve lost my entire conception of time.
“If you’re going to lie, we probably should have watched a movie you’ve already seen.” Pete turns the television off.
I lean over and rub my forehead. The nights I don’t stay awake crying, I spend in the lab, searching. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. I understand. You’re a very private person and if you tell me what’s been bothering you for the past month, Colorado Springs will be sucked into the fifth layer of hell.” Pete stands and starts stacking the plates and glasses.
“Pete. It’s not like that.” I grab his arm. I try to say it with my eyes—my CO is gone. Jack O’Neill, the most amazing—heroic—I need to find a way to bring him back. But this time I can’t; he’s really gone.
He’s really gone and I still love him.
“I’m sorry I’ve been so distracted,” I finally say.
“Yeah.” Pete shrugs off my hand. “Listen. I’m here now. I came this weekend because I’m worried. You’re not sleeping.”
I fold my arms, holding myself.
He walks to the kitchen, dumps off the dishes, and returns. “I go back to Denver tomorrow. I can be here tonight, or I can just leave.”
My head throbs. “I can’t.” I gasp and hold my head.
Hands tilt me and my head rests against a strong chest. I wish desperately that the chest belongs to Colonel O’Neill—Jack—but Pete’s scent is wrong; his arms not as sure around me; his heart beat not as strong.
“I can’t live like this.” My words surprise me.
“Like what?” Pete brushes my shoulder and hair.
“Missing him,” I whisper.
Pete hugs me closer and I feel him exhale slowly. “This is about Colonel O’Neill.”
I want to say, “It’s always about Colonel O’Neill.”
“I know you’ve been trying to bring him back, but. He’s gone, Sam. He’s dead and he’s a weight around your neck, dragging you down, too.” He kisses my head several times. “You have to break those chains that bind you to him—he's going to kill you.”
Pete’s right in so many ways and he doesn’t know it.
I sit up and push my hand under my nose, trying to clean myself up.
“Pete.” I sniffle and compose myself, taking a shaky breath. “He’s going to kill me because I’m going to let him.” I bite my lip.
Pete stares at me for a long moment. He draws back and his frame slumps.
“I could never compete with him, could I?”
I grab Pete’s hands and squeeze. “I’m here with you. And not just because he’s—gone. I—felt—very strongly—for him.” I emphasize my words by squeezing his hands. “But I’m here with you.”
Pete nods, says he knows, but I can tell I’ve lost him. I haven’t lost him the way I lost Jack, but our relationship will never be the same. He knows he’s not Jack and that when I finally get a night’s sleep, it will just mean that I gave up. But Jack will still be there, dragging me down, killing me a little each day just because I never told him—I'm with Pete only because I can’t be with you.