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Fanfiction: A First Time for Everything

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S6 Descent
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sam & Jacob relationship.  Sam/Jack UST. Jack/Jonas friendship. 
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

A First Time for Everything


Like most military men, the infirmary had always been one of Jacob Carter’s least favourite places and it wasn’t too surprising that after his cancer experience, his dislike had grown a hundredfold. He hadn’t needed an infirmary bed since his blending with Selmak but his Tok’ra symbiote was struggling to heal the injuries he had sustained on the Goa’uld mothership. As a result his shoulder ached like a bitch and he had been confined to the SGC infirmary by Janet Fraiser who had stared him down with the half-amused smile of someone who was used to the battle and relished it.

I’m sorry, Jacob.

Selmak’s inner voice floated through his frustration and Jacob felt a twinge of guilt.

It’s not your fault, he responded, trying to let go of his irritation.

Actually it is, Selmak replied dryly. I am old and healing does not come as naturally to me as it once did.

Jacob snorted. Selmak was the oldest of the Tok’ra; her vast memory of knowledge and her experiences more than made up for a small delay in healing that would have taken him days and weeks without her. All in all he figured he had a good deal.

I’m glad you think so, Selmak’s pleasure at his thought washed over him and he felt his body relax against the firm pillows for the first time since the doctor had insisted that he wasn’t going anywhere. At least, he thought dryly, his status as a two star General had afforded him the comfort of a private room rather than a ward, even if he didn’t consider his rank as meaningful and his career past tense.

He took a moment to wonder at his changed priorities. He had been career Air Force for as long as he could remember. He had never considered any other work – any other life. His father had served in the military; his grandfather too. It had been expected that he would follow the path and in truth he had never questioned it unlike his own son. Jacob remembered that his goal as a young man had been three stars on his uniform because he figured he didn’t like the politics enough to make it to four and his Pop had made it to two. He knew the cancer had revised his ambitions; he had settled for being able to live. Moreover, the blending of Selmak had changed him, Jacob mused; perhaps more than he had anticipated or was willing to admit sometimes. He was a Tok’ra; that was how he defined himself these days. He felt Selmak’s amusement at the thought and smiled.

The smile faded as his shoulder twinged again. It was his own fault, he remonstrated inwardly. Selmak wasn’t the only one feeling her age. In his younger days, he would never have been caught as unaware as he had been on the peltak. He should have been on his guard even before Doctor Friesen’s unfortunate demise. After all, hadn’t he always been the one to say ‘if it looks too good to be true...’

It is too good to be true, Selmak completed. Her mental sigh fluttered through Jacob’s mind. You were not the only one who did not pay attention; I should have known better than to believe Anubis would leave such a prize without a sting in its tail.

You’re mixing your metaphors, Jacob pointed out and she snorted, but thank you for the sharing the blame. Another surge of guilt about other events on the ship flitted through his head before he could stop it.

He had almost lost his daughter.

The thought caused a momentary silence in his head as his hands fisted in the thin sheets.

Samantha is safe, Selmak reminded him gently.

Jacob forced himself to loosen his grip. No thanks to me, he replied.

It could not be foreseen, Jacob.

Her tone failed to soothe him. Sam was his daughter; he was her father. He was meant to keep her safe. She had almost drowned in the ship along with Jack O’Neill because he had been unable to open a locked section of corridor. He had tried; God, he had tried. But none of the commands would work; everything he had attempted had failed. He could remember the desperation building; the panic; the knowledge that there was nothing he could do to save her...

He stared down at the green blanket. He had failed.

It was not your failure alone, Selmak tried to comfort him.

I’m her father, Jacob argued. I should have been able to save her. He sighed heavily. This is the reason why she and I shouldn’t serve on the same missions together.

Selmak was too startled at the idea to hide it. I don’t understand.

Under normal circumstances, Sam and I would never be given the same mission, Jacob explained. It’s inappropriate for a father and a daughter to serve together in the same unit or under the same command. The relationship is too close.

I don’t consider it an issue, Selmak retorted. All the Tok’ra are family; we have no choice but to serve together.

You don’t have a choice, Jacob reiterated. The Air Force does.

I still don’t see...

He cut her off abruptly. What if I had to choose between Sam and...and Teal’c in a battle situation? How can I choose fairly? If I choose Teal’c, Sam may believe I deliberately was unfair to her to be fair to Teal’c but if I choose her everyone could say I chose her because she’s my daughter. He sighed. I have half a mind to ask George to reconsider sending Sam on missions where I’m present.

That would be foolish, Selmak said firmly. Sam serves on the SGC’s flag team. If you pursue this, you could endanger her position and drive a wedge between you.

There’s already a wedge, Jacob countered. She hasn’t forgiven me for leaving when Daniel died. The death of her former team-mate, Daniel Jackson, had hit Sam hard.

And who’s idea was that? Selmak’s internal voice was rising with every word. I told you I had no issues staying if you wished to spend time with her.

Jacob flushed with renewed guilt. We had duties...

That could have been done by others. Selmak sighed. I know it reminded you of Kathy’s death, Jacob.

I’m not talking about that, Jacob thought sternly; there were some topics that remained off limits even with his symbiote – his marriage was one of them.

Fine; then we will not talk, Selmak fumed.

Fine with me.

There was silence in his head and Jacob felt Selmak retreat behind mental barriers where her thoughts were hidden from him.

Jacob glowered at the ceiling.

‘This a bad time, Jake?’ George Hammond’s voice drifted across from the doorway and Jacob waved him in.

‘Actually, I was just thinking I needed to talk with you.’ Jacob stated, ignoring the mental poke of disapproval from his symbiote at his words.

Hammond took the chair by the bed and gestured at Jacob to continue.

‘You’ve had the debriefing?’ Jacob questioned brusquely.

‘Just finished.’ Hammond informed him. ‘That’s partially why I’m here.’

Jacob nodded. His friend was the base commander, a busy man, and while he knew George would have taken the time to visit him regardless, the debriefing was a good excuse.

‘I’m not sure I have anything to add to the report the others have probably given you.’ Jacob admitted.

‘I’d still like your view on events.’ Hammond prompted mildly. There was a crease of concern between his brows.

‘You catching heat on this?’ Jacob asked bluntly, guessing at the reaction from the Pentagon and the President.

Hammond winced and nodded. ‘The Chinese are questioning the cover story.’ He snorted. ‘Unsurprisingly.’ He gave a huff of laughter and shook his head. ‘I’m not entirely certain why anyone thought they wouldn’t.’

‘You think we’re going to have to disclose the existence of the Stargate to them?’ Jacob frowned. Earth politics was a minefield at the best of times. Their treaty with the Russians caused enough headaches without adding other political players into the mix.

‘I’m almost entirely certain we will.’ Hammond confessed with a sigh. He rubbed his bald head with the knuckles of one hand. ‘If not today...soon.’ He paused. ‘It’s not just the Chinese asking questions; it’s our allies.’

‘The British?’

‘And French.’ Hammond waved a hand around as though it would dispel his internal worries. ‘What happened up there, Jacob?’

Jacob adjusted the sheets over his stomach and folded his hands. His jaw tightened. ‘FUBAR, George. That’s what happened.’

Hammond’s pale eyebrows rose. ‘I’m going to need more than that for the official report, Jake.’

His friend’s mild tone pierced Jacob’s righteous anger and he deflated with a long sigh. ‘We scanned the mothership before we ringed over; there were no life signs.’

‘So you assumed the mothership was empty.’

‘As I’m sure Jack and the others have already told you.’ Jacob muttered. He caught the hint of reproach in Hammond’s eyes and flushed. ‘The three Jaffa must have been in a very deep state of kel no reem; the sensors weren’t able to pick them up.’

‘So you ringed over...’ Hammond prompted.

‘We went to the peltak; I started on the controls there, Sam and Davis headed to the computer core; Jack and Friesen went to check out the engines.’ Jacob recited. ‘Sam and Davis needed help getting through a sealed door; Jack went to help them and sent Friesen back to the peltak. From what we can tell, Friesen took an unauthorised side trip to the shield generators on his way back and ran into the Jaffa.’ He stopped. ‘Jack couldn’t have known, George.’

Hammond nodded slowly.

‘When he realised Friesen was missing, Jack went in search of him. He found the body, radioed to warn me but...’ Jacob gestured with a hand at his wounded shoulder. ‘I was taken by surprise from behind.’

‘You’re lucky they didn’t kill you.’ Hammond agreed, leaning forward in the chair.

‘I think they believed they had.’ Jacob said dryly. ‘They put us into the descent and shot up the controls before they ringed over to the cargo ship. Anyway, the next thing I know, Sam is helping me to my feet and we’re headed for Earth.’ He rested back against the pillows. ‘I should have considered the possibility of Jaffa being on board.’

‘From everything I’ve heard you were all proceeding with caution, Jake.’ Hammond countered.

‘Things didn’t add up.’ Jacob argued. ‘I should have known if the self-destruct hadn’t worked, Anubis would have had another plan to ensure his mothership didn’t fall into enemy hands.’

‘It was an unusual situation.’ Hammond soothed. ‘I don’t think anyone could have anticipated Thor being in control of the ship.’ He pulled a face. ‘I’ve sent a team to contact the Asgard so I’m sure they’ll be in touch soon to take custody of Thor.’

Jacob grimaced. ‘I’m still not sure how Sam worked it out.’

‘She’s good.’ Hammond said proudly.

Jacob stilled. It was the opening he wanted. ‘She almost died, George.’

‘I know it got close at the end there,’ Hammond began.

‘No.’ Jacob shook his head. ‘Before that.’

Hammond’s blue eyes narrowed on him. ‘You mean when she was trapped with the Colonel in the corridor.’

‘They almost drowned.’ Jacob said forcefully.

‘But they didn’t.’

Hammond’s calm acceptance infuriated Jacob in a way he couldn’t explain. ‘No thanks to me.’

Hammond regarded him for a long moment. ‘Jake, sometimes you just can’t do anything; you know that.’

‘I know that,’ Jacob agreed, ‘and I know she was counting on me to save her.’ He shifted under the covers. ‘I think we should reconsider Sam and I participating in the same missions.’

‘You can’t be serious.’ Hammond said, rearing back in his chair as though Jacob had punched him.

‘I am.’ Jacob said determinedly, ignoring Selmak’s silent anger. ‘You and I both know that in normal circumstances a father and a daughter would not be assigned to the same missions.’

‘These are far from normal circumstances, Jacob.’ Hammond retorted. His fingers thrummed on the arm of the chair giving away his internal discomfort. He took a deep breath. ‘Look, I understand that you had a scare today...’

‘My kid almost died. Twice!’ Jacob stated fiercely. ‘And I couldn’t do anything to help her either time. I had to rely on some wet behind the ears alien to save her the second time!’ He glared at Hammond. ‘What were you thinking agreeing to his inclusion on SG1?’

‘The decision on Jonas Quinn is not subject to debate, Jacob,’ Hammond snapped back, ‘and is beside the point.’

‘You’re right.’ Jacob agreed strongly. ‘The point is that I will not participate in any further missions if Sam is assigned.’

Hammond stared at him. ‘You’re serious about this?’

‘I’ve never been more serious about anything.’ Jacob replied.

Hammond wet his lips and folded his hands over his stomach. ‘Jacob, you’re Earth’s liaison to the Tok’ra; Sam serves on SG1. This would seriously impact our ability to perform joint missions.’

‘There are other teams than SG1.’ Jacob pointed out.

‘But not with the same skills or experience in dealing with the Tok’ra nor with what’s out there.’ Hammond sighed. ‘If you persist with this, you could endanger Sam’s position on SG1. There would be questions about her status if her continued presence on the team was seen to be disruptive to a valued ally.’

‘Maybe it would be for the best.’ Jacob said defensively. ‘She’s a brilliant scientist. She shouldn’t be on a frontline team.’

‘She’s also a brilliant officer with a brilliant career ahead of her.’ Hammond shot back. ‘You can’t seriously mean what you’ve just said.’

They glared at each other.

Hammond’s lips firmed. ‘I’d like to speak with Selmak.’

Jacob’s lips twisted but his head dipped as the symbiote took control. ‘General Hammond.’

‘Selmak.’ Hammond nodded respectfully in greeting. ‘Thank you for talking with me.’

‘It’s a pleasure.’ Selmak assured him. ‘And I want you to know that I do not agree with Jacob’s words.’

‘Then this isn’t a request from the Tok’ra?’ Hammond clarified.

‘It is not.’ Selmak raised Jacob’s chin. ‘I very much enjoy working with Samantha. I believe her skills and experience are vital to our ongoing fight against the Goa’uld, both in the laboratory and in the field.’

‘I see.’

Selmak sighed. ‘I believe it may be best to allow Jacob time to rest and heal, General, before any final decisions are made.’

Hammond stood up. ‘I’ll agree to that suggestion.’ He left before Jacob resumed control.

You had no right telling him to leave, Jacob complained, shifting to ease his aching shoulder.

Rest, Jacob, Selmak insisted.

I won’t change my mind, Jacob thought stubbornly.

Selmak sighed. Perhaps not but it would be better to focus our efforts on healing.

Jacob couldn’t argue with that. He closed his eyes. He wasn’t going to change his mind; the decision was made as far as he was concerned – no matter what anyone else had to say about it.

‘Hi.’

His eyes flew open and took in the young man standing beside him. ‘Daniel.’

He couldn’t do anything but stare at him. The last time he had seen Sam’s team-mate, he had been a glowing energy being and before that Daniel had been wrapped in bandages like a mummy as his body succumbed to the radiation poisoning. The man standing at his bedside looked vibrant and alive, dressed very much as Daniel had always dressed; with the blue BDU shirt open over a black t-shirt and matching BDU pants. The faint glow around his body gave away Daniel’s new nature.

‘Yes, I’m really here.’ Daniel replied to Jacob’s silent question. ‘And no,’ he smiled, ‘I’m not back.’

‘Sam misses you.’ Jacob said gruffly, trying to regain his balance.

‘I miss her.’ Daniel replied simply. ‘I miss them all.’

‘But you’re not back?’ Jacob checked.

‘No,’ Daniel shook his head and folded his arms over his chest as he leaned against the wall, ‘I’m not really supposed to be here.’

‘So this is...’

‘Just a visit.’ Daniel shrugged. ‘I just wanted to thank you for your efforts when I, uh, was dying and check how you were.’

‘I didn’t really do much.’ Jacob said warily. ‘You stopped me.’

‘I couldn’t have done it without you.’ Daniel replied. ‘The healing you provided gave me the strength to Ascend.’ He motioned at Jacob’s shoulder. ‘You took quite a hit on the ship.’

Jacob stared at him. ‘You were there?’

‘Briefly.’ Daniel admitted. He looked at Jacob. ‘So, you’ve decided you and Sam shouldn’t be on the same missions?’

Jacob’s lips firmed. ‘It’s for the best.’

‘I’m sure you’re right.’ Daniel agreed seriously. ‘I mean, if Thor hadn’t intervened and Sam had drowned, that would have been a very hard thing for you to live through; knowing your daughter was drowning and that was nothing you could do to save her.’

‘It was you.’ Jacob blurted out accusingly. He pointed at him. ‘You saved them.’

‘Nope!’ Daniel shook his head and smiled tightly. ‘Wasn’t me. Not allowed.’

‘So, it was Thor.’ Jacob sighed.

‘Actually it was you and Thor.’ Daniel corrected. ‘Thor wasn’t aware that there was an issue until you alerted him with your attempts to access the system and get the door open.’

Jacob looked at him in surprise.

‘Of course, if you hadn’t been there...’ Daniel let his voice trail away.

‘You’re just saying this so I’ll change my mind.’ Jacob countered.

‘Nope. I told you I’m not allowed to interfere.’ Daniel claimed. ‘But I know I walked away from SG1, Jacob. I can’t help them now and, believe me, it’s not easy to sit on the sidelines and know you truly can’t do anything to save the people you care about. You say it would be better for you and Sam if you didn’t serve together but how do you know? If you’re not there the next time she’s in trouble and she dies, will you be able to live with that?’

A door slammed further down the corridor wrenching Jacob’s attention from Daniel momentarily. He looked back and the space beside him was empty.

Jacob blinked. Daniel had been right there – hadn’t he? He raised a hand to his forehead. Maybe he was losing his mind.

Then we are losing it together; Selmak sounded shaken.

Did we imagine him? Jacob wondered.

I don’t think so, Selmak said. He must have really felt very strongly that you needed to hear what he had to say to have returned.

He considered Daniel’s message, of how Jacob had helped to save his daughter and the warning of how he would feel if Sam was in trouble and he wasn’t there. He considered how he felt when he heard about how Sam had been injured or when SG1 had gone missing and he’d had to drum his fingers and simply wait for news. Wasn’t that more frustrating? Wasn’t it better that he was there with her than not there at all?

Now I know how Ebenezer Scrooge felt, Jacob said with an exasperated sigh. Perhaps he’d missed out on the Ghost of the Past and the Future but he knew only too well how his relationship with his kids had suffered after Kathy’s death and he could guess at the future if he pushed for him and Sam not to be assigned to the same missions. Was he making the same error again?

We need rest, Selmak suggested mildly, offering no opinion but then he already knew her thoughts.

Jacob acquiesced and closed his eyes again. Maybe he had been wrong...maybe...

o-O-o

Jack picked up his tray of food and made to follow Teal’c. His steps slowed as he realised the Jaffa was headed for a table already occupied by Jonas and Nyan, the Bedrosian archaeologist they had rescued some years before. It was stupid but he hadn’t considered eating with his new team-mate and, in truth, had been looking forward to a quiet meal with only Teal’c. Jack’s jaw firmed as he picked his pace back up and slid into a chair next to Nyan only a heartbeat behind Teal’c sitting down on the opposite side of the table next to Jonas. Part of Jack wanted to choose another table. Some of the SG team leaders didn’t eat with their teams to maintain a proper distance but Jack had never seen the point. SG1 had always eaten together, Jack reminded himself, and Jonas was part of SG1.

He gave a brisk nod to the Kelownan, waved a greeting to Nyan with his fork and shovelled food in his mouth to prevent the need to engage in conversation. He tuned out Jonas’s update to Nyan on the events of the mission. They’d lived through it once and talked the whole thing to death at the debriefing; he still had his report to write up and he figured three times was more than enough to keep going over the debacle.

He stuffed another lump of chicken in his mouth and chewed. It wasn’t as though he was unused to missions going South; they invariably did more times than not. It was the nature of the job. Exploring space and unusual planets in the hopes of fighting an advanced alien enemy was risky and dangerous but he couldn’t help think that the outcome of the last mission had been avoidable; that Friesen’s death had been avoidable. Maybe if he’d escorted Friesen back to the peltak personally; maybe if he just acquiesced to the scientist’s request in the first place; maybe if the sky turned yellow and pink elephants flew by...he couldn’t second guess his decisions, Jack thought firmly.

What had happened had happened. He wasn’t thrilled their newfound mothership had ended up at the bottom of the ocean but they had rescued Thor and come out of it alive; that had to count for something. His brown eyes flitted to Jonas who was smiling broadly at Nyan and gesturing with a banana.

The Kelownan was undoubtedly the reason why SG1 had made it off the mothership. It had been his action in rerouting the power that had enabled Carter to get the force-shield in place to open the doors to the glider bay. She had credited Jonas with the success during the debriefing. Jack grimaced as he poked at his chicken with a green bean. It wasn’t that Jack didn’t appreciate the rescue; he did. Jonas had come through for them and if nothing else, it had validated Jack’s decision to assign him to the team. It was a good start but Jonas still had a lot to prove in Jack’s eyes.

He squelched his mashed potatoes into a puddle of gravy before scooping them up with his fork. It wasn’t about Daniel, Jack thought defensively. Maybe Jonas had been present when Daniel leaped into save the Kelownans and been fatally injured but ultimately Daniel had been the one to decide to Ascend, to leave them. It wasn’t Jonas’s fault and Jack had accepted that much; Jonas wouldn’t have been on the team at all if he hadn’t.

And it wasn’t that Jonas was a scientist. Jack’s opinion of the majority hadn’t particularly changed especially when he had guys like Friesen living up to his worst impressions but he’d worked too closely with Daniel and Carter not to understand that a good scientist could make the difference between life and death. If Jack hadn’t considered Jonas was good at his work, that he had skills that would be an asset to the team, he wouldn’t have assigned him.

The problem was that Jack wasn’t entirely sure why he had assigned him. While he valued their opinions, neither Teal’c’s endorsement nor Carter’s had really moved him from his initial thought that Jonas wasn’t field material. Jonas’s own passionate plea though...he had sounded so much like Daniel. Jack grimaced. Maybe too much like Daniel. Jonas was desperate to make a difference; Daniel had been desperate to make a difference. It worried Jack a little that he might have made subconsciously been trying to make it up to Daniel by giving Jonas an opportunity to succeed at his wish. It worried him more that Jonas may have assumed a mantle of self-sacrifice similar to Daniel’s; the Kelownan had risked his life to save theirs on the ship.

Maybe he was just over-thinking it all, Jack thought morosely. Maybe the truth was he was uncomfortable with his decision because he was just uncomfortable with Jonas. He had about as much in common with the kid as he did with...with the strange lady who lived down the street with a horde of cats.

It was different with Teal’c. Despite their differences, they had their shared backgrounds in warfare as common ground. And he and Carter always had their Air Force training to fall back on as a shared reference point just as he and Daniel had always had Abydos and later, all of the experiences of serving together in SG1. But he and Jonas had nothing at all in common. That was the problem, Jack thought scowling at his plate.

‘Not good, Colonel?’

Jonas’s question had Jack’s head snapping up and he belatedly realised Nyan had left without him noticing.

Jack didn’t bother to answer and gestured at Jonas’s clean plate instead. ‘You were hungry?’

‘It was lamb curry.’ Jonas beamed. ‘My first time.’

Irritation skirted along Jack’s nerves. He pulled a face and looked over at Teal’c who had made a substantial dent in the large stack of food he had gathered. ‘What about you?’

‘I have consumed lamb curry on many occasions, O’Neill.’

Jack opened his mouth to explain and stopped at the glint of amusement in Teal’c’s dark gaze. He pointed a finger at the Jaffa. ‘Funny.’

Jonas frowned and peered at the Jaffa. ‘It was a joke? How can you tell?’

Jack shot him a look. God save him from aliens, he thought tiredly.

The base alarms sounded.

Jack’s eyes widened. He wasn’t convinced it was an answer from God to his plea but he’d take it anyway. He got to his feet, abandoning the dessert in favour of heading to the gate room, aware that Teal’c and Jonas followed him through the maze of corridors and stairwells.

‘What have we got?’ Jack asked as he entered the control room. He gave Sam a brief nod, unsurprised that she had beaten them there and was situated at a console.

‘Incoming wormhole,’ declared Walter Harriman. ‘Iris will not respond. Computer controls are offline.’

‘Major.’ Hammond looked toward Sam.

‘We’ve seen this before, sir...’ she waved at the blue horizon rather than continue her explanation as an Asgard stepped through and onto the metal ramp.

Hammond abandoned his position and raced down the stairs to the gate room; SG1 behind him.

‘Heimdall.’ Sam greeted the Asgard scientist with a warm smile as the wormhole disappeared. ‘It’s good to see you again.’

‘It is good to see you again, Major Carter.’ Heimdall acknowledged cheerfully. ‘I believe you have managed to rescue Thor’s consciousness?’

‘Yes.’ Hammond signalled toward an Airman who ran off to collect the computer panel that housed the Supreme Commander of the Asgard fleet that Sam had removed from the mothership.

‘So, you’ll be able to restore Thor now?’ Sam pressed.

‘It is unlikely that we will be able to transfer his consciousness into the body of Thor in our care.’ Heimdall admitted. ‘We will however be able to clone another body for him that should suffice.’

‘A new body, huh?’ Jack rocked back on his heels as he stuffed his hands in his pockets. ‘Cool.’

‘Way cool.’ Jonas said softly under his breath. Jack caught the words anyway and had to agree with his team-mate.

‘Here we are.’ Hammond took the panel from Sergeant Siler and handed it with an air of ceremony to the Asgard.

‘We thank you for your diligence in rescuing Thor.’ Heimdall pressed a device on the inside of a thin wrist and a wormhole appeared in the centre of the Stargate.

‘Wow.’ Jonas said, his eyes widening.

‘I’m afraid I cannot stay. It is imperative I get Thor back to our galaxy.’ Heimdall said regretfully, the wide dark eyes blinking sadly.

‘We understand.’ Hammond said.

‘Good luck.’ Jack added as Heimdall turned to leave. They watched as the small figure disappeared back into the blue. ‘Well, that was...’ he struggled to find a good description, ‘as enlightening as always.’

Sam ducked her head to hide a smile. Jack felt his own lips twitch happily and he let his eyes drift over Sam’s delicate features; her short spiky blonde hair. They’d had a close call on the ship when they’d almost drowned. They’d been swallowing water and not air when Thor had finally gotten off his computerised butt to save them. He remembered the overwhelming rush of relief as the water emptied and how he’d realised as he and Carter sank back to the bottom that he had been holding onto her. He could have justified it by claiming she had been struggling which was true enough but Jack knew he’d reached out because it had been Carter, not for any other reason. Almost two years after declaring their mutual inappropriate feelings for each other, and a year after insisting they try to put those feelings behind them, he still found himself caring about her more than he should.

‘Colonel.’ Hammond said sharply, dragging Jack’s attention back to the present. ‘I need five minutes of your time.’

Jack nodded and gestured for the team to leave without him as he followed his CO back up the stairs to the General’s office. Hammond closed the door providing them with privacy and Jack assumed an ‘at ease’ pose in front of the desk.

‘Firstly, I wanted to inform you that Colonel Chekov will be arriving with the new Russian team at oh-eight-hundred tomorrow.’ Hammond said briskly, standing behind his desk and resting his fingertips on the polished surface. ‘SG1 will perform their orientation.’

Jack opened his mouth to protest.

‘Denied.’ Hammond said without waiting to hear the request for someone else to do it. ‘This was your idea, Jack, and it would probably help to build some bridges with the Colonel if you could show a little willing to meet them half-way.’

‘Between Russia and Colorado, sir? Because that would be...’ Jack allowed his voice to trail away at Hammond’s pointed look. ‘Yes, sir.’

‘I also wanted to confirm that you’re satisfied with Mr Quinn’s performance after his first mission with you and won’t be requesting a transfer?’ Hammond probed meaningfully.

SG1 had been through several recruits since Daniel’s death and Jack knew his CO was at the limits of his patience.

‘Jonas stays on SG1.’ Jack stated without expanding on his decision.

‘I seem to recall you telling me once in this very office that a person tends to grow on you once they save your life.’ Hammond commented.

Jack pressed his lips together to prevent the smile from appearing. He remembered he’d told Hammond that during their first meeting when they’d spoken about Daniel. ‘He saved our lives but there’s still some room for improvement.’ He commented dryly.

Hammond nodded. ‘I’m sure there is. One more thing, Colonel...’

Jack watched curiously as a swarm of emotions filled the General’s portly face before Hammond sat down abruptly.

‘Take a seat, Jack.’

‘This can’t be good.’ Jack commented and he acquiesced and pulled up a chair.

‘No.’ Hammond gave a short laugh.

He fell silent and Jack could see that the older man was struggling to say whatever it was he needed to say. Jack squirmed in the chair but held his silence.

‘I visited with Jacob earlier.’ Hammond said eventually.

‘And?’ Jack prompted.

‘And he indicated that he would no longer participate in missions if Major Carter was also assigned.’

Jack’s eyebrows shot up. ‘You’re kidding!’ He took in Hammond’s sombre expression. ‘Not kidding.’

Hammond lifted a hand from his desk. ‘I think it’s a reaction to what happened on the ship when Jacob was unable to save you and the Major.’ He pursed his lips. ‘However, I don’t need to explain to you the ramifications if he persists in enforcing this ultimatum.’

‘No, sir.’ Jack said angrily. How could Jacob suggest something that would clearly harm Carter’s position and her future career?

‘Jack,’ Hammond leaned forward, ‘in his own way, I think Jacob sees this as protecting Sam from harm and, as a father, I can appreciate his view.’

‘He’s protecting himself.’ Jack retorted without thinking.

‘Be that as it may,’ Hammond said softly, ‘he’s right that in normal circumstances he and Sam would never be assigned to the same mission for the very reasons why he wants them not to be in future. They’re too close; their decisions can be influenced by their relationship; the fallout if one of them were to be injured or killed and the other in a position to assume blame or responsibility...it doesn’t bear thinking about.’

‘I understand that, sir.’ Jack replied quietly, every muscle in his body tensing. He knew all about feeling responsible for a child’s death and he knew all about feeling responsible for Carter’s.

‘However, I’m convinced that both of their continued efforts are required going forward if we’re to have the best chance of winning against the Goa’uld.’ Hammond said. ‘I know deep down Jacob knows it too. He’s too good a tactician to believe otherwise.’ He held Jack’s gaze. ‘I think he just needs to hear it from someone who understands.’

Jack grimaced and didn’t bother trying to hide it.

‘Preferably,’ Hammond added, ‘before the Major gets wind of it.’

Jack could imagine her reaction and it wasn’t pretty. He knew Carter and her Dad had had their problems in the past but since Jacob had become part of the programme, they’d seemed to work through most of their issues. Jacob’s proposal had the potential to set their relationship back years and, more importantly, to hurt Carter hugely at a time when she was already hurting over Daniel. His protectiveness rose up swiftly. He got to his feet. ‘Understood, sir.’

Hammond waved his dismissal and Jack headed out. He paused for a moment in the corridor and took a breath. He had no idea what he was going to say to Jacob; how he was going to say what was needed without revealing too much of his own feelings for Carter. He somehow didn’t think ‘suck it up, Jacob, because if I can love her and serve with her, you sure as hell can’ would go down very well.

He made for the elevator. This was the reason they needed Daniel, Jack thought as he punched the call button. Daniel would have known what to say; hell, Daniel probably would have known that Jacob was going to react badly and would have already talked Jacob out of rash decisions and harebrained ideas. He stepped into the elevator and chose his floor.

The ride was too short and too swift. It deposited him on the infirmary floor without regard for the fact that he still had to work out what to say. He made his way to Jacob’s room reluctantly. He rapped on the doorframe sharply and pushed on the partially open door at Jacob’s call to enter. He nodded at the older man as he closed the door behind him and went to stand at his bedside.

Jacob took one look at his face. ‘George sent you I take it?’

‘He has some concerns.’ Jack began. ‘So do I.’

‘If you’re here to talk me out of it, Jack, forget it.’

‘Well, this is going about as well as I expected.’ Jack commented dryly. He shoved his hands in his pockets.

‘I’ve already changed my mind.’ Jacob explained succinctly.

‘Oh.’ Jack felt his mouth fall slightly open and snapped it shut again. ‘Well. Good. I’ll inform General Hammond.’ He squirmed under Jacob’s amused regard. ‘So I’ll, uh,’ he pointed at the door. He paused when he reached the doorway and turned around.

‘Jacob, just so you know; she didn’t blame you. Not once. Not when we were swimming; not afterwards.’ He waited until Jacob nodded, accepting the truth of Jack’s words. Jack opened the door and smiled. ‘Me, on the other hand...’

Jacob rolled his eyes and motioned for Jack to leave. He complied with the unspoken request and closed the door behind him.

Why had Jacob changed his mind, Jack wondered; Jacob wasn’t the type to back down easily. Jack frowned and shrugged the thought away. Whatever the reason, it was one awkward conversation which had been avoided; always a bonus. He checked his watch; he had to break the news about the Russian orientation to his team, inform Hammond Jacob had come to his senses, but then he was headed home.

o-O-o

Sam glared at the scientist who was gesticulating wildly at her on the monitor through a webcam and tried again to interrupt.

‘McKay...’

‘...and another thing,’ McKay blustered without pausing for breath, ‘these equations for the naquadria reactions are all wrong and I...’

‘So fix them!’ Sam snapped back. ‘That’s what you’re there for!’

The sound of a throat being cleared behind her had her automatically straightening on the stool even as she cast a look over her shoulder and confirmed it was the Colonel. ‘I’ve got to go, McKay.’

‘But, but, we haven’t even...’

Sam reached out and stabbed the escape button. The connection severed and the monitor went dark. She switched it off for good measure and turned back to her CO, repressing the urge to rub at the pounding in her forehead. ‘Sorry, sir.’

He shrugged, dismissing her apology. ‘All going well, I take it?’ His voice hummed with amusement.

She shot him a look. ‘Did you need me for something, sir?’ His brown eyes warmed and she almost blushed.

‘We’re performing orientation for the new Russian team tomorrow, oh-eight-hundred.’

Sam hid her wince. She wasn’t convinced having a Russian team assigned to the SGC was a good idea. ‘Understood, sir.’

He nodded and hovered.

‘Sir?’ Sam questioned; she’d expected he would depart. The days when he might have stayed and hung out with her just to keep her company had disappeared ever since he’d made the decision to move on from his feelings for her. She only wished she’d had more success than him in moving forward; she was as hopelessly in love with him as she had always been.

‘I checked in with Dad.’ Jack leaned against the central bench and picked up a wrench. ‘I think he might be a little freaked about us, well, you mostly,’ he pointed the wrench at her, ‘almost drowning.’

Sam bit her lip in surprise – both that Jack had visited her father and his observation. It had been a close call on the ship. She could remember her panic when they’d been trapped together under the water. He’d kept her afloat as the water drained out. Just a CO helping his team-mate, Sam thought to herself briskly; nothing more. Her mind turned back to her father. She had visited him when he’d first been settled into the infirmary room but he’d brusquely told her he was fine. She’d taken the excuse and run. The mission aside, there was still some tension between them because of his swift departure after Daniel’s death. Her fingers worried at the edge of her BDU shirt.

‘Just thought you should know.’ Jack said mildly, putting the wrench down. ‘I have to see Hammond. You’ll take care of informing Teal’c and Jonas about the Russians?’

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam said, relieved he’d changed the subject back to a safe topic.

Jack gave her a half-smile, turned on his heel and left. She watched him until he disappeared from view before allowing her body to slump.

Her Dad was freaked out? It didn’t sound like him but then...it had been an unusually close call and if she’d been the one on the controls and he’d been the one trapped...

She slid off the stool and made the short journey to her father’s room. She knocked on the closed door and opened it at his call.

Jacob’s eyes alighted on her and widened. ‘Sam.’ He shuffled upwards into a sitting position. ‘The nurse went to get me some food.’

Sam made her way to his bedside and stopped. ‘I just wanted to check how you were.’

‘Better.’ Jacob said briskly. ‘Selmak’s already healed the shoulder and collarbone. A good night’s sleep and we’ll be fine.’

‘So you’ll be heading off tomorrow?’ Sam asked, unsure how she raised the subject of what had happened on the ship; if she should.

‘Actually, I was thinking of hanging around a few days.’ Jacob said with a studied casual air that clued Sam in that he wasn’t as assured as he sounded.

‘You going to see Mark?’ She asked instead.

‘I thought you and I could spend some time together, kiddo.’ Jacob replied quietly.

Sam’s eyes widened. ‘Dad...’

He held up a hand. ‘Just hear me out, Sam. I shouldn’t have left you after Daniel died. I should have stuck around then.’

‘You had duties.’ Sam said, trying to keep the stiffness and accusation out of her voice and knowing she’d failed at both. ‘I understood.’

Jacob reached for her hand and she closed the gap, letting her fingers wrap around his. ‘Nothing,’ he said seriously, ‘is more important to me than you. When you almost drowned...well, maybe I just needed to be reminded.’

Sam smiled sadly. The Colonel had been right; her Dad was seriously freaked out. ‘It’s OK, Dad. Really. I’m fine...’

‘You miss Daniel.’ Jacob rejoined bluntly.

Her breath caught; tears springing up without warning. The grief could hit her when she least expected it – or wanted it. She looked down to hide the tears from her father.

‘Sam.’ Jacob gently remonstrated and tugged her toward him. She let him hold her awkwardly for a few moments, accepting the paternal comfort before she eased away and swiped at her eyes.

‘Sorry.’

‘You’re allowed to miss him, Sam.’ Jacob reached across and handed her the box of tissues from the nightstand. ‘And I’m sure he misses you too.’

‘You think so?’ Sam blew her nose and rubbed at her damp cheeks.

‘I know so.’

Sam looked at him curiously; he sounded so certain. He seemed to shift uneasily under her regard and gestured at her.

‘So, what do you say?’ Jacob asked. ‘Why don’t you take a few days and we’ll visit Mark together?’

‘Sounds good.’ Sam admitted. ‘I’ll need to clear the time with General Hammond and Colonel O’Neill.’ She smiled. ‘We have orientation with the Russian team tomorrow but I’m sure they don’t really need me.’

He nodded understandingly, his own lips curving upwards. ‘Glad to be of help.’

A knock on the door had them both turning expectantly only to find a harried looking Walter rather than a nurse with a dinner tray.

‘Sorry to disturb you, General.’ Walter said formally before his eyes darted urgently to Sam. ‘Major, Doctor McKay has called the control room demanding you contact him.’

Sam sighed. ‘I’ll be right there.’

Walter nodded gratefully and with a nod at the General, departed.

‘This McKay the new boyfriend?’ Jacob asked curious.

Sam’s eyes widened in horror. ‘God, no!’ She took in her Dad’s amusement. ‘He’s a colleague.’ An irritating, pain-in-the-ass colleague, her mind added ruthlessly. One she was beginning to regret recommending to be assigned to the X303 project instead of sending him back to Russia.

‘Ah.’ Jacob smoothed his covers.

‘I don’t have a boyfriend.’ Sam said firmly. ‘I’m focused on my career right now.’

Jacob regarded her with a solemnity that surprised her. ‘Work isn’t everything, Sam.’

‘I know.’ Sam attempted a bright smile to hide her confusion. Her father had never pushed her on the personal front. He’d disapproved over various boyfriends when she’d had them and if anything he’d always encouraged her to concentrate on her schooling, on her work. His words were the first time she could ever remember him hinting that she should have a personal life, and she wasn’t sure she was up to having that kind of a conversation with him. She gestured at the door. ‘I’d better go talk with McKay. I’ll come back later.’

Jacob nodded agreeably and waved her away. Sam closed the door behind her and frowned. Weird. The whole conversation had been weird. But good, she added inwardly, feeling the resentment she’d held over her father’s absence since Daniel’s death dissipate. She shook her head as though to shake away the last remnants. She sighed and headed to the control room. Maybe she’d also make it through her conversation with McKay without wanting to kill the other scientist. Her hand sneaked up to her pounding forehead; or maybe not...

o-O-o

‘Colonel!’ Jonas dived between the closing doors of the elevator. ‘I hoped I’d catch you before you left for the night.’ He gave the Colonel a bright smile to cover his nerves and crossed his arms over the folder he held.

Jack tugged on the edges of his leather jacket. ‘This about the Russians tomorrow?’

‘Tomorrow?’ Jonas said blankly, wondering if he’d missed a briefing.

Jack waved a hand at him. ‘Carter’ll explain it.’ He gestured at him. ‘So, what’s up?’

‘I, uh, wanted to talk to you about my report.’ Jonas began earnestly. ‘On the mission.’

‘What about your report?’ Jack asked brusquely.

‘Well, do you want a full report or just highlights?’ Jonas asked eagerly. ‘What’s considered too much information? What format should I...’

Jack held up a hand and cut off the flow of words. ‘You’ve seen Daniel’s, right?’

‘Yes.’ Jonas agreed.

‘Do the same,’ Jack said, waving at him, ‘only use less words.’ His eyes gleamed suddenly as an idea struck. ‘Run your draft report by Carter. She can review it before you turn it in.’

‘Thank you, Colonel.’ Jonas offered an embarrassed smile. ‘It’s just, it’s uh...’

‘Your first report?’ suggested Jack sarcastically.

Jonas’s lips twisted ruefully. He guessed the Colonel was getting a little tired of the ‘first’ thing and in truth he hadn’t really wanted to ask about the report but he couldn’t quite get the confidence up to ask about what he really wanted to know; his own performance. He looked up and found his gaze snared by his CO’s.

Jack shifted his position and nodded at the younger man. ‘You did OK out there.’

Jonas beamed at the praise, pleased beyond words both at the feedback and that the Colonel had evidently understood without him needing to say anything.

‘You still have a lot to learn.’ Jack cautioned, his brown eyes meeting Jonas’s, driving the point home. ‘But you did OK.’ He waited a beat, turning away as the elevator doors slid open and he stepped out. He looked back with a smirk. ‘For your first mission.’

The elevator doors slid shut and Jonas gave a short laugh as he reached forward to choose a floor. It was the first time he could remember the Colonel teasing him. He guessed there was a first time for everything. He shook his head. His first mission was over and he couldn’t wait for the next one.

fin.
 

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