Originally Posted: May. 21st, 2007
Length/Rating: 271 words, PG, Gen
Summary: There are some things you can’t unlearn.
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Retirement means something different in the mountain. Twenty years was too short, too long; just an arbitrary date no one was quite willing to admit might not apply. It’s their tradition, their heritage, and they cling to every scrap of normality they can.
So they send each other off with the same historic ceremonies, the same cheesy countdowns and friendly ribbing. Dispensed the same half-serious commands to lay back, put their feet up and enjoy the rest; as if somehow they could sink back into lives set aside as easily as they shed the uniforms.
But this was the mountain and they knew.
Knew what it was like to walk through a mall the way they walked through the gate, too aware, too sensitive to changes in the clothes, the culture. Knew how easy it was to feel alien on the one planet that was supposed to be home.
Knew what it was like to look up at the night sky and fight not to focus on the emptiness between the stars and what it hid. To spend every moment of every day wondering if this time SG-1 might not pull off the miracle, and if there’d be any warning if they didn’t.
To wait for news filtered down by ‘need to know’ and ‘planetary security’ to a simple list of who wasn’t coming home.
To watch innocents die, knowing they could have been saved… if only they hadn’t been from Earth.
To feel all-powerful and helpless at the same time.
To know, in that same tired acceptance, that no one ever retires from the mountain.
The mountain never lets them.