Series: Five Things
Prompt: Five Times Sam thought about leaving the Air Force
Author's Note: Sam/Jack. Originally written for sg1-five-things.
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.
In the time Sam's been in the Air Force, she's gotten used to the Barbie Doll nickname (she cut her hair the next day), the under-breath insults that she's a nerd (like she hadn't put up with that all the way through high school and undergraduate college in classes with kids older than she is), the whispers of favouritism (which sting) and occasional lewd language (her Dad and her Uncle George had both warned her).
But she's not used to the unthinking sexual discrimination that permeates the Air Force; the assumption that because she's female it makes her less somehow. She's had to fight for her right to earn her wings; for flight time; for the respect the rest of the squad gave to each other as men within the first five minutes but she had to wait months to get.
Her latest assignment orders are almost the last straw.
She's a pilot because she wants to fly, wants NASA and space and the adventure of seeing the Earth floating above her. But now she's being shuttled to some bogus science division out in Colorado Springs.
Sam thinks about leaving the Air Force and because she can never confide that in her Dad, she calls her Uncle George who more than anyone has supported her quest to join the Air Force, to follow her dream.
"Take the assignment, Sam." He says. "You won't be disappointed."
And there's the hint of amused knowledge in his Texan twang that makes her think that maybe she's not being shuttled into obscurity after all. She takes the assignment.
Sam doesn't know how she manages to last through the briefing with General West without punching him. They went through the device – or the Stargate as they're calling it now – and actually travelled to another planet.
She's insanely jealous of Doctor Jackson. Furiously mad at Colonel O'Neill (although he didn't even know about her so why would he have picked her to go with him?). But mostly she's pissed off at the Air Force for deciding her brain is too much of an asset to risk on actually using the device that she's spent the last year trying to get to work (and basically building a dialling computer from scratch) but now the danger is over, they want her brain back to determine if the planet (Abydos) was the only viable connection.
While the computer runs her latest simulation she glares at the device and wonders if she shouldn't leave the Air Force, apply directly for some position at NASA, get into space that way.
As if he can read her mind she finds a voicemail from her Uncle George waiting for her when she checks for messages; his 'believe me; your time will come' sounds cryptic but Sam lets it dissuade her from leaving again.
It's not that Sam wants to leave so much as she thinks she should.
It sounds so simple for what was the most horrifying and terrifying experience of Sam's life. She'd had a Goa'uld in her head. Tok'ra, the echo of it whispers insidiously. And maybe it was an important difference; maybe it had been the difference between Sam dying or not. But it still doesn't detract from the fact that her government considers her compromised.
Nobody says anything about the future when they talk to her; not Daniel, not the Colonel (Jack, whispers another voice inside of her that wants to pretend that she can call him that without consequence), not Teal'c – well, she never really expects Teal'c to talk.
She knows there are discussions; the Colonel leaves her every so often and comes back with an expression more impassive than Teal'c's. It worries her. It's only been a year but she loves the guys – her guys, her team. She doesn't want to leave.
Sam starts at the knock on her door. It's not that late but she's dressed for bed; comfy non-regulation flannel pyjama pants and a UASF blue t-shirt. She answers it anyway since it's more than likely one of her team-mates. General Hammond stands on the other side of the door.
"Sorry to disturb you, Captain." He smiles warmly and for a moment, her Uncle George shines through his official demeanour. He stretches out a hand, offering her something. "Doctor Fraiser has cleared you for light duty starting tomorrow at oh-eight-hundred. I believe you'll be needing these."
She takes the SG1 badge patches with a trembling hand. It's all she can do to stand there and not cry, not hug him to death because she doesn't have to leave. "Thank you, sir."
"I'll leave." Sam says matter-of-factly.
Jack glowers at her across the tacky table of the diner they've found to take a break on their way to Minnesota. "The hell you will."
"One of us has to leave." Sam points out. Because now that they've dealt with what's actually kept them apart (his fears, her fears), it doesn't change the excuse that they've both used in the past not to deal; the Air Force has regulations. "I can sign on as a civilian."
"So can I." Jack argues.
They both glare at each other before Sam starts giggling at the absurdity of it.
"Maybe we should both leave?" She says, giddily because they're actually doing this, sorting out the details, making plans, talking about them.
Jack slides a hand across the table and she slips her hand into his, links their fingers.
"Let me…" Jack pulls his phone out of his jacket pocket, one-handed since he keeps hold of her with the other. He presses a button – obviously a speed dial and waits. "Hey, General Hammond, sir!"
Oh God, Sam thinks and tries not to cringe at the thought of Jack telling her Uncle George about them.
"Great, sir, I've been…really great, but I, uh, need to tell you something and I…" Jack's face changes to one of chagrin as he listens to the man on the other end of the phone and he avoids her gaze. "Jacob told you that, huh?"
Jacob? As in her late father Jacob? The one whose ashes they've just buried in Arlington?
"No, sir, I mean, yes, sir," Jack's eyes suddenly meet hers, "he was right; I'm completely and totally crazy in love with Samantha Carter."
Sam's heart almost stops beating but she can't help the grin that spreads across her face.
Jack closes the phone and puts it on the table. He kisses her hand. "He says nobody is leaving and he'll think of something." His sudden smirk travels all the way to his eyes. "Oh, and your Uncle George will kick my ass if I hurt you."
The tenth temporary assignment annoys Sam on a level that is hard to explain.
It's not like she doesn't understand that her reassignment from Atlantis at the behest of the IOA was a surprise to the Air Force, it had been a goddamn surprise to her too, and she still can't tolerate the memory of Woolsey telling her she was essentially fired from leading Atlantis (which she later learns from a host of others including Jack was because she was too successful of all things).
And she had understood when they'd said they hadn't planned for her to be around and so there was nothing planned and thus; temporary duty assignments up the wazoo. But that had been months ago and Sam is getting a little tired of temporary even if her current temporary is commanding the SGC while Landry is away on super-secret talks involving moving the Stargate to the new moonbase they're building.
Maybe it's finally time to retire; Jack has been making noises again and maybe they should retire together, go on a road trip with the bikes…forget about aliens and Stargates and get lost with each other for a while, get lost in each other…
Her musing is interrupted by a call scheduled with General Vidrine who still commands Earth's fleet of spacecraft some years after the successful launch of the F302 (Sam refuses to acknowledge the X301 debacle ever happened).
"Colonel Carter," Vidrine smiles, "I wanted to talk with you about the open command position on The Phoenix."
"Of course, sir," Sam says, opening up the folder on her hard drive to find the document where Landry had put down his choices, "if you can wait a moment, I should have General Landry's recommendations for you…"
"Actually, Colonel, I'm not calling for recommendations," Vidrine interrupts her with evident amusement, "I'm calling to offer you the command."
Sam's heart seizes in her chest. He's offering her the command of The Phoenix. She'll be going into space; seeing the Earth spin in the endless starry sky on a regular basis from the bridge of a spacecraft that she'll command.
He's offering her the dream of her childhood, the ambition of her youth, and possibly the best move of her adult career since she'd been assigned to SG1, even beating out Atlantis because that was more of a duty than an ambition.
Her online messaging beeps; Jack.
"Has he asked you yet? Btw, the Phoenix is being renamed; she'll be The General Hammond when you get her."
And suddenly she can't breathe against the rush of grief that threatens. Uncle George hasn't been gone that long; it's been days since his funeral not weeks. She misses him like crazy.
"…so what do you say?"
Belatedly Sam realises that Vidrine has been talking and she hasn't listened to a word of it but she knows what he's asking. Will she take the command? She thinks of her earlier irritation and semi-formed plans to leave.
But she can hear her Uncle George in her head as clear as crystal…
"Take the assignment, Sam. You won't be disappointed."
"Yes." Sam says smiling. "I say yes."