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Fanfiction: Always Trouble

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S4 Upgrades
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sam/Jack. 
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Aways Trouble


‘…and I will tell you again that SG1 need rest for their bodies to recover. You may see them when I am satisfied that they are fit to see you.’ Janet Fraiser crossed her arms firmly and stared down the willowy blonde Tok’ra in front of her. Neither of them looked at the silent General sitting behind the desk next to them.

Anise shifted uncomfortable under the diminutive doctor’s accusing glare but her jaw firmed. ‘The data from my tracking devices shows that their bodies are responding normally.’

‘Well as you never showed me how to read your data, I cannot verify that, can I?’ Janet pointed out tersely.

‘I need to speak with the subjects to complete my study.’ Anise insisted.

‘The subjects as you call them are under my care and I will determine what is best for them.’ Janet responded, her body remaining ramrod straight as she defended her position.

There was a head dip and when the Tok’ra opened her eyes, they had changed; the expression was softer and pleading. Janet recognised the host had been given control.

Freya cleared her throat. ‘In the interest of the Tok’ra-Tau’ri alliance…’

‘Please.’ Janet broke in before Freya could continue. ‘I think you’ve played that card enough, don’t you?’

‘I agree.’ General Hammond stepped in before Freya could respond. ‘I have to say I have been less than impressed with the way events have transpired these last couple of days.’

‘I assure you, General, Anise and I were unaware of the mission involving Apophis’s ship before we arrived here.’ Freya stated firmly. ‘We came in good faith.’

‘That may be true but either way, I think you’re done here.’ Hammond said briskly.

Anise took over again. ‘I still need to understand how the armbands ceased to function.’

‘We’ll send you the mission reports.’ Hammond shot back. ‘They will have to suffice.’

Anise looked from the General’s red and resolute face and back to Janet’s determined glower. ‘In that case, I will gather my things and depart for Vorash immediately.’

Hammond nodded and waved at the SF standing by the door to escort her. ‘We’ll make the arrangements.’ He waited until the Tok’ra had left and the door was closed before he turned back to his CMO. ‘How are they?’ He asked referring to the three human members of SG1.

Janet’s shoulders relaxed a little. ‘Initial checks suggest their bodies are recovering without any major damage, sir.’

‘That’s good.’ Hammond breathed a sigh of relief.

‘I’d like to keep them in the infirmary overnight for observation.’ Janet continued. ‘They are all exhausted.’

‘Agreed.’ Hammond said. ‘I’ll see they are also taken off mission rotation for a few days.’

‘Thank you, sir.’ Janet gave a small nod. ‘With your permission, I’d like to get back to the infirmary.’

‘Of course.’ Hammond nodded. ‘Keep me apprised.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Janet turned crisply and left the General alone with his thoughts.

Hammond sighed and reached for the laptop on his desk. The foreboding picture of Apophis’s ship filled the monitor screen. He felt a momentary flutter of pride. SG1 had destroyed it and kept them safe for another day. He stared at the picture sightlessly. By all accounts, the team had only just made it back. If he hadn’t sent Teal’c to give them back-up…if their luck hadn’t held…he sighed. He was beginning to agree with Jack O’Neill’s comment that every time the Tok’ra turned up, trouble seemed to follow. He wasn’t impressed with the way they had manipulated him and his team; he gave a small snort of annoyance as he slumped back in his chair.

He had been around a long time – long enough to know when he had been played. The seemingly innocent request to take part in the experiment with the armbands had obviously been a prelude to them requesting SG1 take the mission to destroy the ship. Hammond didn’t deny the threat the ship had represented to the safety of the galaxy; he didn’t deny that they had needed to destroy it; he just wished that the Tok’ra had been upfront with them. Instead, their ally had shown a remarked lack of concern for the well-being of his people and that didn’t sit well with him.

He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. Hammond couldn’t believe that it would sit well with Earth’s liaison to the Tok’ra, Jacob Carter, especially given the risk they had taken with Jacob’s daughter, Major Samantha Carter. He couldn’t see Jacob agreeing to the plan the Tok’ra Council had obviously constructed which meant Jacob hadn’t known and that didn’t bode well; had they deliberately kept the other man out of the loop? He needed to talk to Jacob, Hammond decided. He’d make the request to Anise when the Tok’ra left. He would just have to hope she would relay the message and Jacob would respond.

o-O-o

Daniel sat back against the pillows and looked over at his companions in the infirmary ward. Jack O’Neill lay on the bed next to him; the other man hadn’t changed into the infirmary pyjamas provided and was still in his BDU. Jack was flat on his back and staring at the ceiling. The other man looked unusually deep in thought and Daniel was reluctant to disturb him. His gaze shifted to the woman on the third bed. Samantha Carter had showered and changed but she sat on the edge of the bed, her back to Daniel and Jack; her position was a definite discouragement to conversation.

The archaeologist allowed his head to fall back but the urge to speak was too great to ignore. He cleared his throat. ‘So, how long do you think Doctor Fraiser’s going to keep us in here?’

‘Oh,’ Jack crossed his arms, ‘a while.’ He glanced at Daniel. ‘She’s pretty pissed.’

‘Oh, yeah.’ Daniel agreed. The petite doctor was definitely pissed. ‘Aren’t you going to change?’

‘Later.’ Jack muttered.

Daniel raised his eyebrows; the conversation was over apparently. He blinked a little. He needed his glasses. It had been great the past day with the armbands. He’d had perfect vision. He yawned and rubbed his face. The sharp click of heels against the floor had him looking up.

Janet walked into the room briskly. She frowned at the Colonel. ‘You need to get changed, Colonel.’

Jack hoisted himself into a sitting position. ‘Aw, come on, Doc. There’s nothing wrong with us.’

Janet looked back at him coolly. ‘I’ll be the judge of that.’ She looked at the three of them with a mulish expression. ‘We’re going to do full work-ups on you to check what effect the armbands and the virus they released had on your body.’ She nodded at Sam. ‘You’re up first, Major.’

Sam nodded her agreement and slipped off the bed.

Janet took a step toward the door before she turned back and waved a hand at the tidy stack of pyjamas Jack had ignored. ‘Change, Colonel.’ She shot him a firm look. ‘That’s an order.’ She gestured at Sam to precede her and Sam followed the instruction; the two women leaving the room quickly.

Daniel watched with amusement as Jack stared after Sam’s retreating form before the military man sighed and jumped off the bed. He snatched up the pyjamas and headed out toward the shower room. Daniel frowned. Jack and Sam had been very quiet ever since they’d gotten back from the planet. He wondered what had happened. The two of them had been worryingly late at getting out; he knew the fact that their armbands had stopped working was part of it but he couldn’t help feeling something else had happened. They’d barely exchanged a word.

He sighed. Jack and Sam had feelings for each other; unspoken feelings given the military regulations that defined their relationship. Daniel figured the two of them were in love with each other but he was fairly certain neither of them knew how the other felt although they had been getting closer and closer. His frown deepened. Maybe something had happened between them; maybe they had realised…and maybe it was none of his business.

‘Doctor Jackson.’

Daniel’s head snapped to the door. The statuesque figure of Anise filled the space and he couldn’t help objectively noticing how attractive she was as she crossed the ward to stand at the foot of his bed. ‘Anise.’

‘I wished to apologise to you and the others for my part in what happened.’ Anise said solemnly. ‘It was never my intention for you to be placed in any danger. My only interest was the armbands.’

Daniel gave a small grimace and folded his arms over his chest in an unconscious protective manner. ‘Well, I think that may have been your problem.’

‘I’m sorry?’ Anise asked bemused.

‘Just focusing on the armbands.’ Daniel reiterated, waggling his eyebrows. ‘You kind of forgot maybe that you were dealing with people.’ He gave her a small smile. ‘Just a thought.’

Anise blinked at him. ‘It is true that I sometimes get too caught up in my work.’

‘Oh, me too.’ Daniel assured her. ‘So does Sam.’

‘Then it is not just a Tok’ra failing.’ Anise stated.

‘I’m afraid not.’ Daniel said. He suddenly registered her coat. ‘Are you leaving?’

‘Yes.’ Anise nodded unhappily. ‘It would seem I have, how do you say it? Outstayed my welcome?’

Daniel tried to keep his face expressionless. ‘You’ll return to Vorash?’

‘Yes.’ Anise breathed in sharply. ‘I will have to finish my work without detailed first hand accounts of your mission.’

‘Well, there’s not much to tell.’ Daniel said quickly. ‘The armbands just suddenly stopped working.’

‘Your bodies produced an antibody that neutralised the virus.’ Anise explained. ‘I believe it explains why the Atonieks were ultimately wiped out.’

‘The armbands were only able to give them a short term advantage.’ Daniel theorised out loud.

‘Exactly.’ Anise smiled at him warmly. ‘I wish we could have spent more time with each other, Doctor Jackson. I would have enjoyed discussing our respective studies.’

‘Another time.’ Daniel said politely, trying to keep the blush from his cheeks.

She bowed her head. ‘Until next time, Doctor Jackson.’

Daniel watched her leave, the SF escorting her, falling into step beside her. He shook his head. Yep. There went trouble with a capital ‘T.’ He shook his head. Anise was definitely attractive but he wasn’t ready for another relationship. Sha’re’s image drifted into his mind. He sighed and started to adjust his position. He looked over his shoulder and caught sight of the large Jaffa standing in the doorway.

‘Teal’c.’ Daniel waved the fourth member of SG1 into the room. ‘How are you doing?’

‘I am fine, Daniel Jackson.’ Teal’c paused by Daniel’s bed and handed him a pair of glasses. ‘I believe you may be in need of these.’

‘Thank you.’ Daniel took them gratefully and slipped them on. The world refocused. He smiled at Teal’c. ‘You know I don’t think we’ve really said thank you yet for coming after us.’

‘There is no need.’ Teal’c murmured.

‘We should have included you in the mission in the first place.’ Daniel said contritely.

‘I did not have your abilities.’ Teal’c commented. ‘Therefore you did not consider me a part of the team.’

‘No!’ Daniel looked at him shocked. He had never considered that Teal’c would have taken their excluding him on the mission so personally. ‘We didn’t include you because, well, because we weren’t thinking straight. I mean, those devices,’ he shook his hand by his head, ‘screwed with our judgement.’ He admitted. He examined the Jaffa’s impassive face. ‘You don’t really think we didn’t want you there?’

Teal’c remained silent.

‘Teal’c,’ Daniel began again uncertainly, ‘we thought you’d be safer here.’

‘Because I was not as strong or as fast as you.’ Teal’c stated.

‘Right.’ Daniel agreed. He sighed. ‘I can see why you might have thought we didn’t want you around. We haven’t exactly treated you like a part of the team in the last couple of days.’

Teal’c raised an eyebrow.

‘But you have to know we’re not SG1 without you.’ Daniel said quietly, hoping to convince the Jaffa with his sincerity. ‘If it wasn’t for you we would never have made it off that planet.’

‘I was pleased that I could be of assistance.’ Teal’c murmured. His stern features softened. ‘It was most fortunate that I was there when your armbands stopped working.’

‘You can say that again.’ Daniel said fervently. He rubbed his arms absently. ‘I have to admit though I’m going to miss it.’

‘You enjoyed your new abilities.’ Teal’c noted.

Daniel nodded sheepishly. ‘I’ve never been the strong one, Teal’c.’ He grimaced, his mind drifting back to the previous night at the bar. ‘All my life I’ve been called a geek.’

‘What is a geek?’ Teal’c asked, interested.

‘A geek?’ Daniel sighed. ‘Well, a geek is someone who likes to study; someone more interested in the intellectual than the physical.’

‘Then are you not a geek?’ Teal’c asked, a flicker of confusion drifting over his face.

‘I, uh, I,’ Daniel stumbled over his words, ‘well, yes. But usually the word is used in an insulting way to denote someone who’s physically weaker.’

‘I see.’ Teal’c frowned.

‘It was just great for once not being…the geek.’ Daniel sighed. He smiled at Teal’c. ‘I guess that’s never been a problem for you. I mean, the whole strength thing.’

‘I was once not as strong as I am now.’ Teal’c noted. ‘A warrior can enhance his natural abilities.’

‘You mean all that time you spend in the gym?’ Daniel pulled a face. He guessed he could spend more time in the gym than the couple of hours that Jack forced him into every week. He looked at Teal’c. ‘Would you help me? I mean, if I wanted to, maybe, work out a bit more?’

Teal’c inclined his bald head and the lights glanced off the dark skin. ‘I would be honoured.’

‘OK, then.’ Daniel nodded, pleased.

Teal’c adjusted his stance a little. ‘Where are Colonel O’Neill and Major Carter?’

‘Sam’s with Janet and Jack’s taking a shower.’ Daniel hesitated. There was an unspoken rule that they never discussed the feelings between their team-mates. ‘Teal’c, have Sam and Jack seemed, I don’t know, a little quiet to you since we got back?’

‘Perhaps.’ Teal’c allowed.

‘Do you think something happened?’ Daniel queried worriedly.

‘In what way?’ Teal’c asked, clasping his hands behind his back. His face smoothed into impassivity.

‘I don’t know.’ Daniel said slowly. ‘But it took them a long time to get to us.’

‘Their armbands ceased to function and the alarm erected many barriers between them and the exit.’ Teal’c theorised confidently.

‘Sure.’ Daniel said. ‘I’m sure that’s all it probably was. I mean, sure our judgement was screwy when we all had the armbands on but I was with them the entire time and nothing happened and if the armbands stopped working then their judgement would be OK, right?’

There was silence between them as they looked at each other with concern.

‘OK.’ Daniel said eventually. ‘Now I know why we never talk about this.’

‘Talk about what?’ Jack interrupted them as he walked back into the ward, rubbing a towel over his damp hair. He was wearing the blue scrub pyjamas a little self-consciously.

Daniel shot Teal’c an anxious look. ‘Nothing.’

‘Nothing?’ Jack questioned sceptically, throwing the towel away and climbing back on top of his bed.

Daniel shot another glance at Teal’c who looked at him pointedly; the conversational ball was definitely in his court. Daniel cleared his throat. ‘Well, we were just talking about waiting for you and Sam. We thought you were right behind us.’

‘Yeah.’ Jack murmured. He looked away from them and Daniel frowned in concern.

‘What happened?’ He asked bluntly.

Jack looked at him in surprise. ‘What do you think happened?’ He snapped. ‘The armbands stopped working.’ He looked up at the ceiling. ‘Sam’s gave out just before we ran through a force-shield. She got trapped. I went back for her.’

‘And got trapped with her?’ Daniel surmised.

Jack shook his head. ‘My armband stopped working. I couldn’t make it to the other side.’ He sighed and looked over at his two team-mates. ‘She was stuck on one side; I was on the other.’

‘So, you what?’ Daniel prompted, frowning.

‘Tried to get the force-shield down.’ Jack said succinctly. ‘It didn’t work. Then a couple of Jaffa turned up behind Carter.’ He scrubbed a hand over his face. ‘We got lucky. If the explosion hadn’t knocked out the shield generator…’

‘Wow.’ Daniel murmured. ‘It was that close?’

Jack’s brown eyes were unusually sober as he locked onto Daniel’s gaze. ‘That close.’ He sighed suddenly and shifted on the bed. He pointed at Daniel. ‘You know I’m getting really sick of the Tok’ra using us as cannon fodder.’

‘Jack, you don’t mean that.’ Daniel protested as he registered the intentional change in subject.

‘I do.’ Jack said firmly. ‘Every time they show up, we seem to be the ones risking our necks.’

‘So you think the same as General Hammond that the Tok’ra planned this whole thing?’ Daniel asked, wrapping his arms around his middle. ‘Giving us the armbands so we would specifically be able to go after Apophis’s ship?’

‘I do not believe it to be coincidental.’ Teal’c asserted.

Jack waved a hand at the Jaffa. ‘Thank you.’ He said fervently. ‘See? Even Teal’c thinks they screwed us over.’

Daniel sighed. ‘If they had been upfront about it, would it have changed anything?’

‘We could have done the mission earlier.’ Jack pointed out. ‘As soon as the armbands started working we could have zipped onto the planet, taken care of business and come back before they stopped working.’

‘OK,’ Daniel allowed, ‘but they didn’t know the armbands would stop working. I don’t think they intentionally meant to put us in danger.’

‘Do you not think they should have been honest with us regarding their intent, Daniel Jackson?’ Teal’c questioned.

‘Of course.’ Daniel said immediately.

‘There you go then.’ Jack said. ‘They should have just been honest about the whole thing from the start.’

‘They’ve worked alone for a long time.’ Daniel sighed. ‘Maybe they thought they couldn’t take the risk of us refusing.’

‘I don’t care, Daniel.’ Jack said tightly. ‘I’m telling you, they’re skating on some pretty thin ice with me.’

Daniel didn’t respond. He wasn’t entirely sure he didn’t disagree with Jack. The Tok’ra hadn’t trusted them and their game-playing had made it difficult to trust them back.

‘I will leave you both to rest and return later.’ Teal’c said quietly.

Jack nodded at him. ‘Thanks for the save back there.’

Teal’c bowed in acknowledgement and left.

‘Carter still with Fraiser?’ Jack’s seemingly casual question had Daniel looking at him carefully. The military man was studiously looking at the floor.

‘Yeah. I guess Janet really is doing the full works.’ Daniel said. ‘I don’t think she trusted Anise.’

‘I know the feeling.’ Jack muttered. He placed his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling.

‘I don’t think Anise knew.’ Daniel said. ‘About the mission.’

‘Maybe not.’ Jack allowed. ‘You know I don’t think Jacob knew about any of this either.’

‘That’s not good, is it?’ Daniel sighed. If Jacob hadn’t known and hadn’t sanctioned the mission, it meant their liaison was out of the Tok’ra loop. It didn’t bode well for the ongoing relationship between the Tok’ra and Earth. ‘It’s going to be tough for Sam to accept the Tok’ra aren’t the perfect ally. I mean, after everything she went through with Jolinar.’

‘Or maybe not.’ Jack pointed out. ‘The snake did take her as a host without asking.’

Daniel frowned. It had been a while since he’d heard Jack directly compare the Tok’ra with the Goa’uld. ‘You’re really mad at them about this, aren’t you?’ He murmured.

‘Like I said,’ Jack responded tersely, ‘it was close. They almost got us all killed.’

Daniel replayed Jack’s description of events back in his head. It sounded like Sam had been in real danger of being captured and killed before the shield generator had gone down and Jack had been helpless to get to her, in the same way that he and Teal’c had been helpless to get to them. He pressed his lips together.

It had been hard for him and Teal’c but if their team-mates had been visible on the other side of the barrier; if they had seen Jaffa behind them getting ready to shoot? He could imagine how hard it had been for Jack and Daniel felt a flood of sympathy for him. He was suddenly thankful neither Jack nor Sam knew how the other felt. He couldn’t imagine how much harder the situation would have been had they known how much they loved one another, he mused. It was bad enough to be in that position with a team-mate, never mind someone you loved.

His eyes drifted back to Jack. Maybe he should tell him; maybe Jack deserved to know the truth and the couple have a chance at being together. His desire to keep the team together – keep his family together – warred with his desire to have his friends find happiness. It was their decision, he reminded himself; it was their decision.

o-O-o

He hadn’t left her. It was the only thing Sam could think about. Jack O’Neill hadn’t left her. She had been stuck on one side of the force-shield and he had been on the other desperately trying to break through it to her. He could have left and saved himself. There hadn’t been a lot of time left with the countdown to the C4 explosion they had set almost up; they knew the ship would go soon after; then the mountain. To stay meant he would die but he hadn’t left her; hadn’t saved himself. She had begged him; ordered him. She hadn’t wanted him to die, not for her.

Sir! There’s no time! Just go!’

No!’

The emphatic shout resounded in her head. The image of him looking back at her was etched into her mind; his face so distressed because she was in danger…because she was stuck and he couldn’t get to her…couldn’t save her. The look in his chocolate eyes; nobody had ever looked at her like that – as though their whole world, their whole existence was centred on her…that she was everything.

She had known he cared about her; that he felt something more for her than was appropriate given their military ranks – that had come out when they had been stuck together for a week off-world. They had talked about it – well, kind of, she qualified honestly. They had agreed to be friends; that they could handle their feelings – after all, they cared about Teal’c and Daniel too. He hadn’t said he loved her; she hadn’t said she loved him. She had convinced herself it was attraction and caring on his part; nothing more, after all she wasn’t the type of woman men like Jack fell in love with; her intellect had a tendency to scare them away or maybe it was just her. But she didn’t scare him and when she had looked in his eyes, she had suddenly understood; had suddenly been hit with the truth like a bolt of lightening…he loved her.

Jack O’Neill loved her.

He hadn’t left her.

He loved her enough that he would die for her.

She hadn’t wanted him to die; she loved him too much to want him to sacrifice his life for her. But the really scary part was that she loved him enough that she would die for him too.

‘Sam?’

Sam registered her name absently. She looked up and straight into Janet’s concerned face. ‘Hmmm?’

‘Well, I asked if you had any residual sugar cravings,’ Janet said, staring at her anxiously, ‘but now I’m wondering why it took you five minutes to realise I was talking to you.’

‘It’s nothing.’ Sam felt the heat of the blush travel up her neck and suffuse her face.

‘Oh, now I know it’s something.’ Janet stuck her pen back in her pocket and looked at Sam expectantly. ‘What’s going on?’

‘Nothing.’ Sam said firmly. She searched for anything, something, to divert Janet’s attention. ‘I need to apologise to you.’

Janet blinked at her in surprise but she nodded in agreement. ‘Yes.’ She said, picking up her clipboard. ‘You do.’

Sam pressed her lips together. ‘I am sorry.’ She rubbed her hands on her thighs nervously. ‘I know I was rude to you but it was just that the armband,’ she struggled to find the words, ‘well, it obviously affected our judgement.’

‘And made you act like a brat?’ Janet asked archly.

‘I guess I deserve that.’ Sam admitted with a grimace.

Janet held her apologetic gaze for a long moment before she relented. ‘From what I can gather the armbands released a lot of serotonin into your system; it made you feel good…’

‘Oh yeah.’ Sam agreed fervently, interrupting. ‘I felt like I could take on the world.’

‘Well, that was part of the way it worked.’ Janet explained. ‘It made you feel good to mask any negative effects of the virus it released.’

‘That makes sense.’ Sam said. ‘And the massive amounts of hormones…’

‘Made you feel intoxicated. It screwed with your judgement.’ Janet concluded. She tapped her clipboards. ‘You’ll be relieved to know your hormone levels seem to have returned to normal.’

Raised hormone levels, Sam mused. That might explain the Colonel’s extreme reaction to her being trapped; her reaction to his staying. Maybe it wasn’t love; maybe it was hormones. That was a depressing thought.

‘So you want to tell me what you were really thinking about?’ Janet asked bluntly.

‘Sorry?’ Sam stuttered.

‘You apologised to change the subject on me.’ Janet said pointedly. ‘I’d like to know the reason.’

Sam shifted uncomfortable under the doctor’s knowing gaze. ‘I am really sorry, Janet.’

‘I know,’ Janet said, ‘but I also know there’s something you’re not telling me.’

‘It’s not important.’ Sam said defensively. ‘It has nothing to do with the armbands.’

‘Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?’ Janet said firmly. She pulled up a stool and sat down. Her intent was clear; neither of them was going anywhere until Sam confessed.

Sam weighed up her options and sighed. The temptation to confide in someone nibbled at her; maybe she could tell Janet some of it, she decided. ‘I was thinking about the mission.’ Sam began hesitantly.

‘What about the mission?’ Janet asked, frowning.

‘It started out great.’ Sam said. ‘We managed to get to the ship and set the C4. We were on our way out when the armbands stopped working.’ Her gaze fell away from the doctor. ‘The Colonel and I were separated from Daniel and Teal’c.’ Her throat closed up unexpectedly.

‘OK.’ Janet said slowly when Sam didn’t speak. ‘Did something happen?’

Sam tried to take a breath.

‘Sam?’ Janet prompted, her voice filled with worry.

‘It’s not what you think.’ Sam said hurriedly. ‘It’s just…I was trapped.’

‘Trapped?’ Janet’s brow creased with concern and she leaned forward.

‘There were force-shields.’ Sam explained. ‘With the armbands we could run right through them but when the armbands stopped working…’

‘You were trapped.’ Janet repeated.

‘The Colonel got through the force-shield and I was following him and then…’

‘The armband stopped working.’ Janet said.

Sam nodded. ‘I think he tried to come back for me but his armband stopped working too so he was on the other side of the force-shield when I woke up.’ She took another breath. ‘I knew that was it; I was going to die. There was no way through the force-shield and the C4 was about to explode.’

Janet leaned forward and took her hand. ‘You were scared.’

‘Terrified.’ Sam admitted. ‘The Colonel tried to force the controls on the force-shield but it didn’t work. We heard the Jaffa coming and, I thought that was it. Game over.’

‘But you got out?’ Janet asked.

‘The explosion took out the shield generator.’ Sam explained. ‘The force-shields were disabled so I could get out.’ Her gaze dropped. ‘We could get out.’

Janet moved position on the stool, easing back and removing her hand. ‘The Colonel didn’t leave you.’ It was a statement not a question.

‘You know how he feels about leaving people behind, Janet.’ Sam said avoiding her friend’s gaze.

Janet was quiet for a long moment and Sam raised her eyes.

‘Is this a problem?’ Janet asked seriously.

Sam tried not to fidget under Janet’s gaze. ‘There’s no problem.’ She replied evenly.

Janet sighed. ‘Sam…’

‘There’s no problem, Janet.’ Sam insisted. ‘Daniel and Teal’c didn’t leave either. They were meant to go back to the gate and they didn’t when they realised the Colonel and I weren’t right behind them.’ She shrugged. ‘We’d all do the same thing for any one of us.’

‘You’re all very close.’ Janet started gently.

‘I know and I’ve had this same conversation with General Hammond and the Colonel.’ Sam said briskly. ‘SG1 is close but it works for us, Janet.’

‘OK.’ Janet said slowly. She slipped off the stool. ‘We’re done here. You should head back and get some rest.’

Sam gave a sigh of relief and jumped off the examination bed. She started to head across the ward.

‘Sam?’

Janet’s voice stopped her mid-way and Sam turned with an inquiring look at the doctor.

The doctor looked up from her clipboard. ‘Send the Colonel in.’

o-O-o

Vorash

Jacob felt the zing of the rings around him and an instant later saw the familiar tunnels of his adopted home. It felt good to return to base. He’d spent the last month in the depths of an undercover assignment to the Goa’uld Bestet which had been less than fruitful.

A colossal waste of time, Selmak thought derisively to him. Our intelligence about her supposed alliance with Apophis was bad.

It happens, Jacob reminded her. Sometimes rumours are just rumours. He glanced around at the empty corridor and frowned. Where is everyone?

A good question, Selmak replied. The only time it is this quiet is when, her thought cut off abruptly but Jacob finished it…

When there’s a Council meeting.

Jacob hurried towards the Council ante-chamber. The guards in the tunnel outside the Council room recognised them and moved aside to let them into the packed room.

‘…as far as I am aware SG1 did not suffer any ill effects from wearing the armbands.’ Anise reported crisply. ‘But I am afraid our relationship with the Tau’ri may have suffered due to the way the mission was suggested to them.’

Jacob couldn’t help himself. ‘What mission?’

All eyes turned toward him.

‘And what is this about SG1 and some armbands?’ He barked. ‘What armbands?’ He looked around at the faces of the Tok’ra Council – some guilty, some shamefaced and some obviously plain annoyed he had walked in. He straightened up. He glowered at them in his best General manner. ‘Does someone want to tell me what the hell is going on?’

o-O-o

The SGC

Jack stuck his arm out and stared at the opposite wall as the nurse drew his blood. She stepped away finally and Jack accepted the small cotton ball she handed him to place over the pin-prick wound.

‘You sure you don’t need more?’ He asked sarcastically, as he bent his arm to keep the cotton ball in place.

‘Make sure the lab gets that straight away.’ Janet ordered as she dismissed the nurse and picked up his chart. She scanned it for a moment. ‘How are you feeling?’ She asked briskly.

‘Peachy.’ Jack knew his own body well enough to know he was physically in good shape despite the feeling he had just run a marathon, but the jury was out on whether the same applied to his mental state.

She shot him a look. ‘Well, according to the tests so far, it seems the armbands haven’t done any lasting damage to you.’

‘I don’t suppose that means I can leave?’ Jack asked caustically.

‘I don’t suppose it does.’ Janet replied evenly. Her eyes flickered to him. ‘Given what little I was able to ascertain from Anise during the tests, your bodies were subjected to a great deal of physical change.’

‘You don’t trust her, huh?’ Jack noted.

Janet ignored him.

‘Can’t say I blame you.’ Jack sighed. ‘We got totally screwed by the Tok’ra.’

Janet lowered the clipboard and folded her arms. ‘Major Carter mentioned it had got a little close there at the end.’

Jack struggled to keep the alarm off his face. He lowered his eyes. ‘Close?’

‘She said she was trapped when the C4 exploded.’ Janet said bluntly.

‘Yeah.’ Jack murmured, taking a breath. ‘It was close.’ Too close. He’d been too close to losing her. The memory of her stood just beyond the force-shield; the flickering blue barrier between them and the sound of the Jaffa coming around the corner. She had told him to go.

No!’

The remembered force of his refusal had him rubbing a hand over his face. God, he had lost it. How to stay calm, cool and collected, Jack, he berated himself. But he hadn’t been able to stay in control and that worried him. She meant too much to him. He hadn’t panicked initially; she was trapped and he figured he could find some way to bring the force-shield down and rescue her. But as the minutes slipped by and he couldn’t get to her; couldn’t get the force-shield down…the sound of the Jaffa. He had felt the panic rising; the sense of helplessness to save her; she was going to die and he couldn’t save her…she’d known it. He’d heard it in her voice when she had ordered him to go. She had ordered him to go and he had lost it.

‘You stayed with her.’

Janet’s quiet statement had Jack raising his eyes to glance at her. He shrugged, pretending an indifference he didn’t feel. ‘We don’t leave people behind.’

‘Colonel,’ Janet began softly.

‘Look,’ he said hurriedly, ‘it’s no big deal. I would have done the same for Daniel and Teal’c.’

‘But it wasn’t them.’ Janet ruthlessly pointed out. ‘It was Major Carter.’ She held his gaze.

Eventually the silence got to him and he shifted. ‘Something you want to say, Doc?’ He snapped, his brown eyes flashing defiantly.

‘I don’t know.’ Janet said evenly, unmoved by his display of temper. ‘Is there a problem?’

‘No problem.’ He immediately denied.

Janet frowned.

‘Are we done?’ Jack bit out.

‘We’re done.’ Janet confirmed. ‘For now.’

He looked at her sharply; he got the impression her statement covered her suspicions about his feelings for Sam as well as his health.

She gestured at him with his chart. ‘Send Doctor Jackson in, please.’

Jack slid off the bed and tossed the cotton ball in the bin. He marched angrily back to the infirmary ward. A quick look at Sam’s bed arrested the urge to throw something; she was curled up under the blankets.

‘She went to sleep a few minutes ago.’ Daniel informed him in a low voice. ‘I think she’s exhausted.’

‘I know the feeling.’ Jack muttered. He climbed under the covers on his own bed and jerked his head at the archaeologist. ‘You’re up.’

Daniel yawned but obliging got out of his bed and shuffled into a robe. He nodded at Jack as he left the room.

Jack wiggled on the bed, trying to find a comfortable position. Eventually he gave up and stared up at the ceiling. He had been truthful with Janet, he reassured himself. There was no problem.

No problem.

He sneaked a glance at Sam. All he could see was the top of her head, the blonde strands poking out of the top of the blankets.

Right. No problem.

He hadn’t lost it in the field; hadn’t made an emotional decision to stay with a member of his team because he loved her more than life; would rather have died himself than to have lost her. And she felt the same. He’d seen it in her eyes as they had pleaded with him to leave. In the look they had shared through the force-shield.

She loved him. It wasn’t just attraction or lust or something fleeting but something real and strong. He’d suspected but looking at her, her looking back at him through the damn force-shield and he had known it like he knew his own name. She loved him.

The warmth of that thought swamped him for a moment and he closed his eyes. God knew why Sam loved him but she did. She loved him; he loved her. But they weren’t supposed to, not given their working relationship and military ranks which were bound by some hefty regulations for very good reasons. The regulations were there so they could make objective decisions in the field; so they didn’t lose it.

So.

No problem.

Jack took a breath. His loss of control on the ship was bad enough but if Fraiser suspected there was a problem…

He shifted, turning over restlessly. He couldn’t deny there was a part of him that wished Fraiser had called him on it; forced the truth out of him that there was a problem, a big problem. If everyone knew maybe he and Sam could just admit they loved each other and be together. The temptation teased at him but he shoved it away.

He had to get a grip, Jack berated himself. He had promised Carter they could handle working together and feeling feelings. He had to make it work otherwise one of them was off the team and that was unacceptable. It would damage their chances at defeating the Goa’uld – an enemy he had practically invited to their doorstep when he had killed Ra and beyond that, it would damage Sam’s career and he couldn’t do that. She had a great future ahead of her; he was a beat-up old soldier with no future.

A whimper had his eyes snapping open. Sam murmured something softly and he strained to hear it. She moved suddenly; an unconscious jerk that tossed her uppermost blanket off onto the floor.

Jack was out of his own bed before he could think; he hurried over.

‘No. Please, Jack.’ Sam muttered as she shook her head furiously. ‘Don’t leave me!’

His heart seized in his chest. He knew the memory she was reliving; the moment he had walked away from her when she had begged him not to leave her; when she had been a hostage in her own body to the Tok’ra Jolinar. A sob escaped her and he shook himself.

Jack laid a hand on her shoulder. ‘Carter.’ He shook her gently. ‘Carter.’

Her blue eyes flew open and careened into his. Her breathing was rapid and he let go of her as she struggled into a sitting position. He handed her the glass of water on her bedside table and she took a long drink. He picked up the blanket and placed it on her bed before he moved back to his own, climbing under the covers tiredly.

‘I’m sorry.’

Jack paused as he adjusted his sheets and looked over at her. Sam was staring at the glass she held. ‘Forget it. We all have nightmares.’ He said softly.

‘I just don’t understand why I would…’ Sam stopped abruptly.

Jack knew she was thinking about his leaving her; about his staying with her and why she had stopped talking; it was too painful for either of them and they couldn’t talk about it. He held her gaze for a heartbeat before he gestured at her gently. ‘Get some sleep.’

Sam’s eyes met his again and she nodded slowly in agreement. ‘Yes, sir.’

Jack watched as she placed the glass on the table and rearranged the blanket. She settled back under the covers, mirroring his position. They were both curled up on their sides, facing each other. Their gazes caught and held for a long moment.

Jack felt his heart seize all over again at the look of love in her eyes and wondered if she could see the same in his. She smiled and burrowed her head into the pillow. She closed her eyes. His eyes ran over her delicate features as though committing them to memory as her breathing became even and deep. He hadn’t left her and she was safe; they were both safe.

‘No problem.’ Jack murmured quietly.

o-O-o

‘George, I don’t know what to say.’ Jacob accepted the mug of coffee Hammond offered him and took an appreciative sip. He ignored Selmak’s wince in his head. I like coffee, he reminded her.

I don’t, she retorted.

‘I’d appreciate an explanation, Jake.’ Hammond said, sitting down in his leather chair.

‘I had no idea.’ Jacob hastened to assure him. ‘Selmak and I were called away on a mission over a month ago; we only got back. I came as soon as I could.’

‘And walked into this mess.’ Hammond sighed.

Jacob nodded. ‘Literally.’ His fingers tapped his mug and his brown eyes met Hammond’s across the expanse of desk. ‘Is SG1 OK?’ Or more to the point, was Sam OK, Jacob thought ruefully.

Hammond nodded reassuringly. ‘At this point, Doctor Fraiser believes their bodies will recover fully. She’s released them from the infirmary for a debriefing this morning.’

‘That’s good.’ Jacob sighed in relief. ‘That’s good.’ He took another sip of his coffee and set the mug aside. He folded his hands over his stomach and his expression changed subtly as he relinquished control to Selmak.

‘The Supreme Councillor Per’sus wishes me to convey our deepest apologies.’ Selmak said to Hammond formally. ‘We have no excuse except our years of isolation have made it difficult for us to remember how to work with an ally.’

Hammond gave a nod of understanding but she could tell the annoyance that tightened his lips and reddened his face hadn’t been abated by her words.

‘Perhaps if Jacob and myself had been available, this misunderstanding would have been avoided.’ Selmak continued.

The General clasped his hands on his desk and looked at her knowingly. ‘There was no misunderstanding.’ He said clearly. ‘I dislike being manipulated and so do my people.’

‘May I speak freely with you, General Hammond?’ Selmak asked politely.

‘Of course.’ Hammond nodded eagerly.

‘You have to understand, General, that we are used to working alone.’ Selmak said passionately. ‘We have forgotten, I think, how to…how do you say it?’ She nodded at the phrase Jacob supplied. ‘Play nicely with others.’

Hammond snorted.

‘I don’t agree with how the Council approached this matter but I understand what led to their decision.’ Selmak said frankly. ‘It is difficult for us work with an ally especially one which rarely reacts in the way we expect.’

Hammond’s thin eyebrows rose. ‘Excuse me?’

Selmak smiled. ‘The Tau’ri are independent, spirited. It is rare quality amongst the humans in the rest of the galaxy. It scares some of my fellow Tok’ra, worries others.’

‘But not you?’ Hammond checked.

‘Nor others.’ Selmak’s smile widened. ‘Although I have the advantage of being blended with Jacob so perhaps I know there is nothing to fear and everything to embrace. Jacob’s spirit has renewed my own and I believe and hope our alliance with you will bring that same renewal to all Tok’ra.’

‘But,’ Hammond prompted, ‘I’m guessing there is a but?’

‘But as allies the Tok’ra and the Tau’ri are still new to each other.’ Selmak concluded. ‘Because of the independence you exhibit, my people were uncertain what your decision would be if we had presented the mission in the first instance.’ She spread her hands – Jacob’s hands wide. ‘The mission was too important to risk your refusal to participate.’

She felt Jacob’s wish to speak and stepped aside mentally.

‘Selmak’s right, George.’ Jacob said firmly. ‘As much as I don’t like the way this was handled, the mission was too important to risk.’

‘I’m not disagreeing, Jake.’ Hammond admitted. ‘We all agree Apophis’s new ship had to be destroyed.’ He waited a beat. ‘And you and I both know that would have been our conclusion if we’d had full disclosure.’

Jacob nodded. ‘To give us credit, George, the Tok’ra did deploy operatives to try and destroy the ship in parallel to sending Anise here with the armbands.’ He inclined his head slightly. ‘If they had been successful then the test with the armbands would have been just that. It wasn’t just SG1 who risked their lives.’

Hammond sighed and Jacob was relieved to see his old friend relax almost imperceptibly as he absorbed the news.

‘Per’sus has authorised me to invite the Tau’ri to begin official discussions for a formal treaty between our two races to help prevent further…’ Jacob paused and pulled a face. ‘Misunderstandings.’

‘I’m sure the Joint Chiefs and the President will accept the invitation.’ Hammond replied.

Jacob gave an understanding smile. ‘I know you have doubts, George, but believe me; this is a sincere offer and a sincere apology.’

Hammond sighed again. ‘Then I guess it would be ungracious of me to decline either.’

Thank God, Jacob thought as he registered his old friend’s acceptance.

He is a good man, Selmak mused as the conversation moved onto the semantics of arranging and agreeing a treaty. Jacob could feel her embarrassment still at how her fellow Council members had underestimated Hammond and disrespected him. Jacob sent a mental nudge of empathy before he turned his attention back to the conversation. A call to the President was urgently arranged and they had just concluded when Hammond looked up at the clock and gestured for Jacob to follow him into the adjoining room as SG1 arrived for their debriefing.

‘Dad!’ Sam hurried forward to greet her father with a hug.

‘Hi, kiddo.’ Jacob’s eyes drank in the sight of her. She looked good and for the first time since Hammond had told him Sam was going to be alright, he allowed himself to believe it.

‘Jacob.’

Jacob released his daughter and turned to her CO. ‘Colonel.’ His dark eyes slid to the other two members of SG1 and he nodded at them in acknowledgement. ‘It’s good to see you all again.’ He sat down as they took their places and he frowned as Sam took the seat on the opposite side of the table with her team-mates, sitting next to O’Neill. Their seats seemed a little close to him.

‘So what brings you by?’ Jack asked with a light mocking tone.

‘I came to deliver our thanks for your efforts in destroying Apophis’s ship and our apologies.’ Jacob said.

‘An apology, huh?’ Jack’s eyebrows rose. ‘Really?’

The blatant sarcasm took Jacob aback.

‘Colonel.’ Hammond’s tone held a hint of a warning. ‘The Tok’ra have apologised for the way in which events transpired and have offered to open discussion on a formal treaty.’

‘And we agreed?’ Jack asked rudely.

‘Jack.’ Daniel pushed his glasses up his nose. ‘That’s excellent news.’

‘I’m glad you think so,’ Jacob said, ‘because I think your expertise is going to be needed in putting this together.’

‘Of course.’ Daniel nodded. ‘I’d be honoured.’

Jack slumped back in his chair.

‘Colonel, perhaps you’d like to start on the debriefing?’ Hammond said briskly.

‘Sure.’ Jack looked over at Jacob. ‘The Tok’ra almost got us killed. Again.’

Jacob sighed in exasperation and Hammond shot the Colonel a warning look.

‘Perhaps you should start with what happened when you got to the planet.’ Hammond suggested. His look was pointed.

Jack subsided. ‘The Stargate was heavily guarded by Jaffa. We exited at speed; took them out. They never even knew what hit them.’ He picked up a pencil by his folder and started playing with it. ‘We headed for the ship. Daniel went to get some naquadah while Carter and I took care of setting the C4. We were on our way out when the armbands stopped working.’ He pointed at Daniel with the pencil.

‘Daniel collapsed. Luckily Teal’c showed up to help get him out. We went after a Jaffa patrol to ensure we weren’t followed. We had started back after Daniel and Teal’c when our armbands stopped.’ He took a breath and stared at the folder. ‘We were knocked out and when we came to, we realised the ship’s alarm had activated and Carter was stuck behind a force-shield.’

Jacob glanced at his daughter worriedly. She was looking down, her expression inscrutable.

‘I tried to shut it down but we could hear Jaffa approaching.’ Jack continued crisply. ‘Then the C4 went and luckily the force-shield dropped. We got the hell out of there and high-tailed it back to the gate.’

‘It sounds like it was a hell of a close call.’ Jacob noted. There was gratitude in his voice; it hadn’t gone unnoticed by him that the Colonel had stayed with Sam. He had noticed how much his daughter’s CO cared about her when they had rescued him from Netu. As much as he worried about it, he knew Sam would never cross the line and he trusted the Colonel to keep her safe; he wasn’t surprised the younger man had stayed with Sam trying to rescue her.

Jack held his gaze and Jacob could see the deadly seriousness in the depths of the other man’s eyes. ‘It was.’

Hammond looked around the table. ‘Do any of you have anything to add? Teal’c?’

‘Only that I followed your orders, General Hammond, and proceeded after my team-mates.’ Teal’c stated calmly. ‘I was able to move freely to the ship where I was able to assist in helping Daniel Jackson to the exit of the mountain. It was then we realised Colonel O’Neill and Major Carter were not following as expected and when we attempted to return our way was blocked by a force-shield.’

‘We, uh, waited.’ Daniel said. ‘And when the force-shield went down we started back but Jack and Sam were already on their way out.’

‘You were lucky.’ Hammond noted.

Jack nodded. He cleared his throat. ‘I’d just like to apologise again, sir.’

‘Me too, sir.’ Sam added swiftly.

Daniel raised his hand slightly. ‘Me three.’

Teal’c remained smugly silent and Hammond’s lips twitched. Jacob wondered at it.

Hammond waved the apologies away. ‘Let’s put this one behind us and move on. I expect your reports by oh-eight-hundred tomorrow.’ He stood up. ‘Dismissed.’

‘George, I should get back and let the Council know of the decision to move ahead with the treaty.’ Jacob said as they all stood up.

‘Of course. I’m sure the Major can see to your departure.’ Hammond gave a kind smile to Sam before he shook Jacob’s hand. ‘It’s been good to see you again, Jacob – and Selmak too.’

Jacob smiled. ‘We’ll be in touch.’

‘If you guys want to go ahead, I’ll meet you in the commissary.’ Sam suggested as her team-mates hovered by the table.

Jack nodded. ‘OK.’ He sketched a wave goodbye at Jacob and motioned for Daniel and Teal’c to leave.

Jacob acknowledged their goodbyes and watched as they left. He followed his daughter to the control room and watched proudly as she ordered the gate to be dialled and input the coordinates. They made their way to the gate room.

‘You really have to leave so soon?’ Sam asked as they watched the Stargate spinning.

‘I really do.’ Jacob sighed. ‘I have to inform the Council of the acceptance of the treaty negotiations.’

She gave an understanding grimace.

‘You have to know Selmak and I didn’t know anything about this before it happened.’ Jacob commented hurriedly.

‘I know, Dad.’ Sam reassured him.

Jacob gave her a sideways glance. ‘Colonel O’Neill seems particularly pissed about it.’

‘We did almost die.’ Sam muttered defensively, clasping her hands behind her back.

He nodded. Jacob wondered how much of the Colonel’s anger toward the Tok’ra was actually anger at how helpless Jack must have felt on the ship when they had gotten trapped. He looked over at Sam. ‘I can’t say I’m happy about that myself.’

Sam’s face softened at her father’s words. ‘We’re OK.’

Jacob reached over and hugged her as the wormhole engaged. ‘Take care.’

‘You too.’ Sam hugged him back and he felt her tremble.

He shifted back to examine her expression closely. ‘Are you sure you’re OK?’

‘I’m OK.’ Sam smiled brightly and falsely.

He held on when she went to move away. ‘Sam…’

‘I’m fine, Dad.’ She insisted quietly. ‘Like the Colonel said, it was just a close call.’

‘That’s all this is?’ He probed, careful to keep his voice pitched low given the guards in the room.

Sam nodded.

He knew his daughter well enough to know it wasn’t and he wasn’t oblivious to the churning emotions in her blue eyes – so like her mother’s. But it was obvious she wasn’t going to tell him and he didn’t have the time to push it; duty called. He gave her a final hug and stepped away. He paused in front of the Stargate.

You’re worried about Samantha, Selmak murmured in his head.

Something’s wrong, Jacob thought back. I just don’t know what it is. He shook his head. He had to leave no matter how much he wanted to stay. He stepped through the wormhole.

o-O-o

Sam watched the wormhole disappear with a sigh. She turned towards the door and her eyes widened at the sight of Jack hovering just outside in the corridor. He had waited for her instead of going to the commissary, she realised. He knew she was always a little down when her father left. She felt her heart melt a little at his thoughtfulness and mentally shook herself. No matter how much Jack cared about her, she had to remember they could only have friendship while they both needed to fight the Goa’uld. He had made it clear that doing their duty was more important and she agreed. She shoved the wistful wish that they could abandon the fight and just be together deep into the recesses of her mind.

Jack’s eyes met hers cautiously. ‘Dad get away OK?’

She nodded. They fell into step as they made their way to the elevator. She pushed the call button.

‘He didn’t know about the mission.’ Sam murmured.

‘I figured.’ Jack shoved his hands in his pockets.

‘I guess this hasn’t really changed your view of the Tok’ra.’ Sam said as they stepped into the elevator.

He looked over at her inquiringly.

‘You mentioned just before Anise arrived that they were beginning to annoy you.’ Sam reminded him.

‘Ah. Right.’ Jack met her eyes and pulled a face. ‘I still like Dad.’

Her lips lifted.

‘I just don’t like how every time they turn up you…we almost die.’ Jack said.

Sam blinked at his slip of the tongue. ‘Not every time, sir.’

He raised an eyebrow in a conscious imitation to Teal’c.

She thought about it for a second; Jolinar – almost died; when they had first officially met the Tok’ra, she had almost died having remained on the planet with her father until the last minute; when Martouf had turned up to warn them about Sokar – well, the whole base had almost been destroyed that time; the incident with the Retu they had called the Tok’ra but she guessed it had been another close call; the mission to Netu – OK, that time she had almost died quite a few times…maybe the Colonel had a point.

‘Maybe the treaty will change things.’ Sam suggested out loud.

‘Let’s hope.’ Jack said diplomatically. He rocked back on his heels. ‘What we should be hoping even more is that Daniel and Teal’c haven’t eaten all the snacks.’ He quipped. ‘I don’t know about you but I’m starving.’

She smiled at him amused and grateful for the change in subject. ‘Yes, sir.’ She glanced over at him and their eyes met. A light look filled with unspoken feelings. She gave into the urge to say something.

‘Thank you, sir.’ Sam murmured.

‘What for?’ Jack asked, surprised.

‘For staying behind.’ Sam said, hoping he knew she was referring to their moment on the ship and not his waiting for her to go to the commissary.

‘Always.’ Jack said lightly but his eyes were serious as they caught hers.

She smiled again and the word settled into her heart like a promise. Always; it sounded good to her.

fin.

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