Author's Note: My first story with Jonas! I hope I got him in character- let me know, okay? And this is one of my few non-humor fics...tell me how I'm doing with the drama stuff. There are slight spoilers for Singularity, CoTG, The Enemy Within, TBFTGOG, and the Season 1 finale.


*I always have a reason- I'm not required to explain. It's a military thing.*

Jonas Quinn sighed at the remembered words, grimacing as he took a bite of the strange wobbly blue food Sam had passed him. He swished it around in his mouth a few times, frowning thoughtfully at the unfamiliar taste and texture. "Strange," he observed, swallowing the Jello easily. He and Major Carter were sitting across from each other in the otherwise abandoned comissary, the lights slighly dimmed in the early morning hours.

Major Carter laughed quietly, her large blue eyes lighting with mirth. "It certainly is," she said, wrinkling her nose at her own desert- yogurt. "So- how did you enjoy your first offworld near-death experience?"

"It was...peachy," Jonas answered, using a phrase he'd heard Colonel O'Neill use often. "After all, it was full of several 'firsts'. My first time in space, my first time in a death glider, my first time in a mothership...it was really exciting."

Carter snorted, hurriedly swallowing the last of her yogurt. "Exciting? Not exactly the adjective I'd use to describe it," she said with a grin. "No wonder Colonel O'Neill's hair is getting grayer every year- any more close misses like that and *I'll* be going gray."

"I guess I get what you mean- I'm still on an adrenaline high. By the way, your deduction that Thor's consciousness was actually controlling the ship...that was brilliant, Sam."

"No big deal," she shrugged. "Hardly an earth-shattering revelation."

"Not compared with some of the other insights you've had! How do you deal with having all kinds of things happening like that? For five years, too! I mean, I've read all the mission reports. The number of scrapes you've gotten into and barely escaped, well.... I find it quite intimidating, considering that I'm to be a part of it. *Really* intimidating."

"Just like Colonel O'Neill, huh?" Sam suggested shrewdly, leaning forward slightly in her seat, her elbows on the table. A small, wry smile played gently on her lips, one eyebrow raised inquisitively. For a moment, the expression reminded Jonas sharply of Teal'c, but he supposed it was only natural that after so many years together, the members of the SGC's premier team would begin to pick up each others' mannerisms.

After his mind moved on to what she had actually said, his jaw dropped. "Wha-" Jonas stared at her, astonished by her accurate intuition. He leaned back in his chair with a rueful shrug, resting his arms on his stomach. "Well, yeah, I suppose," he admitted slightly reluctantly when a few silent seconds had ticked by. "I know he wouldn't have allowed me on SG-1 if he didn't think I would be able to function well as a part of the team, but still, he refuses to let me *do* anything. And if he doesn't let me do anything, how can I prove myself to him? It's like a paradox."

"Trust me, I know the feeling," Sam said with a chuckle. "Don't worry, though. You impressed him with the whole rescue thing."

"Wait- what do you mean, you know the feeling?" Jonas asked curiously, his eyebrows furrowing. "Colonel O'Neill didn't do this with you and Doctor Jackson, did he? Teal'c said the Colonel accepted him right away."

"He did Teal'c, but not Daniel or me," Sam assured him, wincing slightly at some distant memory. "Daniel- Doctor Jackson- and I weren't exactly his favourite people at first. General Hammond had to outright *order* him to take me on the team, and apparently Daniel and the Colonel didn't get along at all until Daniel died his first time. It took him quite a while to accept either of us as functioning members of his team. As a whole, he couldn't stand scientists. He still can't, with a few notable exceptions."

"So what did make him accept you?" Jonas demanded, taking another bite of Jello.

"Ooohh, let's see," the Major replied, squinting in thought. "Well, I'd say it took several months before he fully came to accept and respect me. Pretty much it was our suicide mission to Apophis' mothership that made us a family. I think he couldn't really bring himself to trust me entirely until he was sure that I'd knowingly risk everything- my job, my reputation, my life- to fight the Goa'uld. I could've said 'no' when he asked me to accompany them through the Stargate- after all, we had no tangible proof that there was any danger to Earth, just Daniel's Alternate Universe experience. The Colonel said he wouldn't have thought less of me if I'd stayed behind- and he wouldn't have- but he would never have been able to bring himself to keep me on as a member of his team, and I would never have become one of his best friends."

"Now, see, I don't get that," Jonas objected, sitting up straight, a scowl on his face.

Major Carter smiled. "It's a military thing," she explained glibly.

"Of course it is," Jonas muttered. "So I have to be willing to die for...what?...before he accepts me?"

"Well...probably," Carter admitted slowly. "You'd have to be willing to die for Earth, to die opposing the Goa'uld. And before that happens, it has to be *personal*, the fight between you and the Goa'uld."

"Personal?" Jonas looked absolutely blank. "How can it not be personal? The Goa'uld enslave billions of people on hundreds of worlds!"

With a wave of her hand, Carter dismissed his argument. "That's standards and morals, fighting for an idea," she said. "That isn't fighting because it's personal. People aren't really willing to die for an idea, Jonas, no matter what wars are fought for freedom, no matter what grand speeches are made about ideals. People are willing to die when it becomes personal, when the fight takes their heart and soul and *changes* them, when there's no alternative but to keep fighting, because not to fight is simply out of the question."

"I think I get it. When did it become personal for each of you?"

Sam blinked, pursing her lips in thought. "That's a hard one.... It became personal for Daniel when his wife and brother-in-law were kinapped and taken as hosts. For Teal'c, it was personal all along- after all, his people are the slaves of the Goa'uld. It became personal for General Hammond the moment his base was attacked, and for Janet with her first patient. Colonel O'Neill...well, it became personal for him when Skaara was taken, and then that was compounded when Major Kowalsky was infested."

"But what about you?" the alien demanded, his Jello forgotten.

"For me? It didn't become personal until Nirrti destroyed a civilization and booby-trapped a little girl," Sam responded, her face hard.

"Cassandra Frasier," Jonas recalled. He still hadn't met the girl, but he'd read about her in several different reports, and Doctor Frasier had shown him several school pictures of her adopted daughter.

"That's the one," Sam agreed. "I love Cassie, and I loved her the moment I first saw her. She was the closest thing, *is* the closest thing I've ever had to a daughter. She was the sweetest, most beautiful little girl, and those damn Goa'uld had rigged her up just so that they could take us out. They had sentenced a child and her world to death almost on a whim, and that time, it really affected me. That's when it became personal for me."

"Wow." He stared at her, considering. "If that's what has to happen for the fight to become personal for me, I'm not sure I want it to."

"What? Why not?" Sam asked, surprised.

"Think about it. Each of you lost, or came close to losing, someone you love, someone you care about. Why would I want that to happen to me?"

"Because," Sam said after a pause, "Because it's when the fight becomes personal that you're willing to give *everything* to help anyone else, help others. It isn't until you realize just how precious life is that you'd be willing to give your own in order to save others'."

"Another military thing?" Jonas asked jokingly.

"No," Carter said solemnly, all traces of amusement eradicated from her face. "Daniel died for your world. I was willing to die just so a little girl wouldn't be alone in her final moments. Teal'c was willing to die to save his son. Colonel O'Neill was willing to die, time after time, to keep his friends and family safe. It isn't a military thing, Jonas, it isn't a military thing that keeps us from simply burying the gate and forgetting about the rest of the universe, from leaving them to their own fates and simply relying on our treaty with the Goa'uld to keep ourselves safe. It isn't a science thing or a political thing, it isn't about the excitement or the glory and honor. It isn't about proving ourselves or making up for our past mistakes. What we do here at the SGC isn't for some inscrutible purpose thought up by bigwigs at the Pentagon, it isn't simply to advance ourselves. We don't go through that gate simply to explore. We go through it to help others. The Stargate program, what it's all about, isn't a military thing, Jonas. It's a love thing."

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