“You have no idea what I’m going through.” the middle-aged subject they were trying to talk down snapped, his gun not wavering the least.

“You think?” Sam snorted before the others had a chance to stop him. Not that there were anything amusing about the situation. “Let me guess; you’ve got no one to speak or relate to, you feel like you’re alone. In the last year – hell maybe even so far back as the last decade – you have seen and done things others can’t even imagine. Both of the good and the bad kind. The bad stuff is like something out of your worst nightmares or worse if that is possible, while the good is so incredible that there isn’t any words that can describe it.

You’ve lived each day under pressure. Some days are not so bad; they are normal.” Sam half shrugged, “You’re only expecting a small life and death crisis around the next corner. Other days can be stressful and the life of others are literally in your hands. Your friends, colleagues, family, they are dying or hurt all around you and you know that you might be next. You don’t know if you fear it or if you will welcome it when it eventually is your turn.” The gun in the man’s hand wavered slightly and Sam knew he had his full attention, as well as his team’s, but he ignored all the eyes that was staring at his back and instead concentrated on the pair of brown eyes in front of him.

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“Then there are the times when there are breakthroughs. The times when you succeed. The times you actually managed to help people. It might have been only one single person, or it might have been a thousand. Maybe you saved the last seat for a friend in the sofa on a movie-night, or a village got the medicine and food they desperately needed.

Now, after everything you’ve experienced, all the horrors you have seen, you are back here. Trying to act as if you are like everyone else. Like you’re normal. But you’re not. You will never be again. You have realized that, but nobody else seem to get it. In addition, it is not like you can talk about it to anyone. If you did they would lock you up in no time, plus it would go directly against the NDA you signed in the very beginning your assignment.” He had lowered his gun when he first had seen that he had gotten through to the desperate man, and now he let his helmet touch the ground. He knew he would get his ass chewed out later, but at the moment he didn’t care. His attention was fully on the brown-haired scientist that was clutching the gun as if it was a lifeline.

And sometimes you ask yourself; why are you doing this? Why are you here when so many others didn’t make it? What reason do you have to continue living on?” Sam heard the sharp intake of breath from his team mates, but he brushed away the stray thought that it wouldn’t be only Ed and the Sarge that would want a word with him now.

“I’ve seen you before, haven’t I?” the man inquired, his voice wavering.

“Yes, Sir. Once. Master Corporal Sam Braddock under Major Hale’s command.” Sam answered and gave a sloppy salute. He had been stationed on Atlantis mostly, but during their short exile to Earth, he had once been on a training exercise at the Alpha site where he had met the doctor in front of him.

“I remember you know, you’re one of them. One of Sheppard’s people. How do you do it? How do you keep going?” the Doctor desperately demanded to know, both his voice and his eyes pleading for an answer. And Sam knew he had been correct in his assessment; the man did not want to die, but he was lost and needed directions.

“I do it for them, Doc. I do it for everyone we lost, everyone that is still there now. They died for us and we should not disgrace that by giving up. They deserve more. Every single day they are in some way or another fighting for everyone here. I might not still be there, but I will be damned if I just give up. As long as I do something that matters, nothing that happened there was in vain. And I might not be there by their side any more, but I am here trying to keep their families safe. But you don’t have to do what I do to matter. Donate blood or just help where it’s needed. Not everyone can do the same, but there is enough need in the world that there is always something everyone can do. You just need to take one day at a time, or sometimes just live by the hour and stay away from tempting situations. And if by doing that I manage to create a new life with new friends there, I think they would have liked that.” Sam answered evenly, ignoring the questioning stares he knew had been directed his way from the start and had only grown in intensity throughout his speech.

“I… yeah… Do it for them.” Slowly the subject lowered his gun and Team One could take a relieved breath.

“Subject in custody.” Greg spoke into is mike without taking his eyes of his blond sniper. “Sam…”

“I’m good Sarge.” Sam interrupted; he had a suspicion about what his superior wanted to talk to him about. “There have been plenty of chances to take one for the team and I haven’t yet. Growing up on military bases and already being a soldier when I got the assignment I was more prepared in many ways. However, after a little while we are no longer civilians or military; we are all soldiers. Some can’t handle that then, and there are those that can’t handle coming back. Luckily, I am not one of them. And even if I were, you wouldn’t let me take the easy way out.” he said with conviction in his voice, but sighted internally. That took care of the most urgent topic, but he knew that he would have a long and thorough talk with both the lead negotiator and his team leader later on.

“Damn right we wouldn’t.” Ed commented and slapped his shoulder in support.

“When was this?” Jules as curious.

Sam almost laughed of his friends’ subtle digging. He almost gave them a quip about killing them if he told them, but at the last moment he decided to be as honest as he could. “Before my last tour. After…” Sam trailed off, sent a quick look at Ed; he knew about Matt, but he didn’t think he was ready for everyone else to know about that incident and changed to an equally true reason for leaving the military. “After that tour I decided that I didn’t want to participate in another pointless war and instead do something else useful.”

“You’re talking about the four years that’s blacked out in your file.” Spike stated, a blush rising when the team turned towards him with amused smirks as he continued to babble. “Not that there isn’t other parts that’s also blacked out, but those four years in ‘Antarctica’ are completely gone, I didn’t even manage to hack anything.”

Sam looked down before looking at the men and woman who surrounded him; his co-workers, his friends. “Thank you. For letting me be a part of the team even after all the screw-ups I had. Without you I might have ended up like him.” Sam stared at the edge where the ex-SGC scientist had been ready to end his life.

“No you wouldn’t.” Wordy spoke up. “You’re too stubborn for that.” While his friends gave their agreement, Sam thought things over; what would he have done if SRU had not taken him in.

“You’re right.” Sam told Wordy. “I would have been more likely to have gone back. Maybe not as military this time. More likely as a civilian contractor, I did start to get a hang of the trading after a while; we didn’t have to run for our lives all the time. Just most of it.” Sam grinned at them teasingly before heading back to the trucks, leaving five flabbergasted SRU officers behind. He might not be in the city he had called home for so long, but he had made himself a new home and a new family.

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