Later, as she was dropping off to sleep again, Daniel spoke softly to her, "That whumping thing that Jack was referring to, Sam? I really wish you'd stay away from it."
"I will if you will, Daniel," she murmured in reply and a small smile flitted across her face as she drifted off to sleep again.
====o0o==== End Part 17 ====o0o====
PART 18: Denouement
General Hammond looked down at the papers on his desk. Two weeks ago, they'd finally heard back from governmental representatives of P4X-653. SG-1 had passed all of the 'tests' with 'flying colors.' And, now they wanted to extend an invitation for trade negotiations with the people of Earth. Oh, yes, and one more request, they wanted one Major Carter as one of the representatives from Earth. Apparently, they had several honors to bestow on her….
Hammond glared at the papers on his desk.
Looked at them with disgust.
Requests for the temporary transfer of one Major Samantha Carter to the diplomatic core.
Those paper-pushing, pencil-necked…. and his thoughts trailed off into dark areas.
Hammond had already shared this news with one certain Colonel.
And received the expected response of outrage.
O'Neill had only calmed down a bit when the General had assured him that he had no intention of agreeing to the transfer request. Additionally, Hammond would ensure that no members of SG-1 would return to P4X-653.
Somewhat mollified, Jack had toned his ranting down to mutterings. He had left the General's office shortly thereafter, still muttering and cursing under his breath about bureaucrats.
Now, Hammond was alone with the -pleasure- of composing his response.
Too bad, he mused, that he couldn't put his true thoughts on paper….
O'Neill looked down at the stack of folders on -his- desk.
It was two months since they'd brought Carter back. The SGC was settling back down to a more normal routine… if anything they did could be classified as normal. SG-1 had not gone on any missions, although each of the men had accompanied other teams occasionally. Daniel had visited an off-world dig on an abandoned planet. Teal'c had accompanied SG-8 on a couple of rescue missions. O'Neill had gone out with a couple of teams to help train new recruits.
But, they'd always made sure that at least one of them was always around, here on Earth. In case she needed a hand. Because she would never ask. So, they just made themselves available.
The splint on her leg had come off two days ago and she was now working on the physical therapy routines. Working around the leg, she worked out with Teal'c to regain her physical fitness and tone.
And, she was back on light duty. She could work in her lab… assist with the 'Gate system and work on paperwork. And, she'd done it. The paperwork, that is. With a vengeance.
He looked at the stack of folders on his desk again.
And he couldn't keep a smile off of his face.
The stack… must be… oh… 4-5 inches thick….
And it was all her mission reports.
Now he had the details.
Oh, boy, the details… he grinned to himself.
He usually hate details.
She was going to make him work to sift out the events.
And… he had to tip his hat to her…
…because he knew that there couldn't be much technobabble in there…
She hadn't been on any scientific missions.
She hadn't had to repair any alien equipment.
No… she'd been on one military (or alien contact) mission after the other…
So…he smiled… she'd still found a way to deflect and diffuse.
He opened the first folder, picked up the first few pages and sat back.
Hours passed and he was still reading. He'd taken the stack of papers to the briefing room and was correlating her chronology with the timeline on the briefing room board. Occasionally, he added notations to the timeline at the bottom of the board.
"Hey, Jack." "O'Neill." Daniel and Teal'c had tracked him down.
"Daniel, Teal'c," he acknowledged as the other two men sat down and joined him.
"Reading Sam's reports?" Daniel asked knowingly.
"Yeah… it's taking me awhile, though," he gave a small grin and a shake of his head.
Daniel nodded, "Yeah, I only made it through to the part where she gated to the Beta Site with SG-8 and 14. Had to take a break….," and his voice trailed off and then he continued, "I can't believe what she went through… and I can't believe that we somehow are lucky enough to have her back."
"I too," the solemn Jaffa admitted, "am having some difficulty dealing with the events that transpired for MajorCarter."
Jack nodded silently at the other two men. "She's a special kind of hero…," and his voice tapered off.
"She's our hero, Jack," Daniel corrected and Jack nodded his agreement.
Jack, Daniel and Teal'c were sitting quietly now in the briefing room. They'd just finished comparing what they'd learned about that final mission and the part played by Sam. They'd gone through it chronologically, adding notations to the whiteboard occasionally… but they'd spent most of their time on the words from their interviews with Captain Heidall and Lieutenants Bedford and Ponce. Because that's where they could find the truth hidden by the facts and simple listing of events. That's where they found the heart and emotion of what happened. That's where they found Sam.
"Hey guys, what are you doing?" Major Sam Carter limped into the room and three men turned thoughtful faces at her.
"Just reading through your reports, Carter," Jack replied and then continued, "Very thorough… really like the bullet points, too…," he finished with a cocked brow and a quirky grin.
"Thank you, sir, I know how much you need to get your quota of bullet points and details," she replied as she sat carefully in one of the chairs.
"You know… Carter… they don't evaluate these reports by the pound," he pointed out with a slight whining tone to his voice… and received the grin and low giggles from her that was his goal.
"Oh… sorry about that, sir, I was just making sure that I didn't leave anything out…," she winked at the other two men. "Although, I have to admit that I had to get a lot of the dates and other such facts and figures from the reports filed by others…"
He nodded at her… she rarely had to look at anyone else's reports for such information. "I think we can overlook it in this one instance, Carter," he pretended to take this seriously and she rolled her eyes at him.
"Thank you, sir," she said and returned his mock-seriousness.
And then silence descended over the room for a few seconds and Sam started to look uncomfortable as she realized that all three men were simply staring at her. "Errr… guys… what?"
None of them responded. They just kept staring at her and she was almost starting to squirm. She winced and looked at one and then the other. The all met her gaze square on, but none of them said a word. She raised her eyebrows and looked down at the table. She could almost hear the Stargate getting older through the eons….
And, just when she thought that she was going to implode, Teal'c stood up and walked over to her. "Teal'c…?" she asked and it sounded weak to her own ears.
The Jaffa simply held his arm out and it was obvious that he wanted her to get up. Taking his arm, she allowed him to help her lever herself into a standing position. Then he just stood there for a few seconds… studying her… a few looooong seconds… and just when she was about to open her mouth to ask him 'What?' he pulled her forward and enveloped her in a crushing hug.
"Oooofff…," was all she could get out as he squeezed the wind out of her.
"SamanthaCarter, we all care for you deeply," he hadn't let go of her and she could feel the vibrations of his speech through his chest, "We will be most displeased if you continue in any such behavior that includes additional whumping to your person," and he released her and stepped back.
She stood there. Stunned and speechless.
Teal'c rarely stated these types of sentiments.
And he'd thrown in whumping….
She studied his usually impassive face… and she could see the love… and the twinkle in his eyes… as he enjoyed himself and his own humor. She smiled back softly and leaned forward and kissed him chastely on the cheek. "Thank you… and I'll try and watch myself," she promised. He nodded and gave her a small smile. Just a small one, but on his face it looked like a headlight.
"My turn," Daniel announced and spun her a little to face him and then crushed her in his own fierce hug. He didn't say anything until he was done and when he pulled away, she could see tears streaming down his face. "Sam, we love you… just… you know… stay around for us?"
Her eyes shining with her own tears now, she hugged him back and gave him a kiss on the cheek, too. "Daniel, you guys mean more to me than anything else. I promise to try and stay out of trouble… if you will…?" and she reminded him of their conversation weeks ago in the infirmary. He nodded at her and gave her a return kiss on the cheek.
"Carrrterrr…?" he said it right over her left shoulder and she felt a shiver run through her.
His hand gently turned her to face him and she looked up at him and swallowed. Jack grinned at her and her heart melted, again. He pulled her to him and hugged her tightly and she hugged him back. He gave her another squeeze and then stepped away. "We…uhmmm… missed you…," and he gestured at the three of them. "A lot," he added and then had to let it stay there. He could go no further. Not here. Not now.
She looked up at him, her cheeks pink with emotions… love… embarrassment… "Thank you, sir," she managed.
"So… Carter…. you know… another reason that we don't want you to go out and get yourself killed?" Jack decided to let some of the intensity out of the room.
She looked at him warily, "You need the gate overhauled every now and then?" she asked suspiciously.
"No…. it's just that Captain Heidall told us that you asked him to give us all a hug… from you… when you thought that you were as good as dead…," and he lifted his eyebrows in askance. She looked around and saw that Daniel was looking at her with a small grin while Teal'c mask of impassiveness was back in place.
"Well… it seemed like a good idea at the time… he needed something to laugh at… and I think he thought it was funny… a little anyway… the idea of trying to give the Big Bad Colonel O'Neill a hug… and then he didn't even seem to think that Teal'c would let him get close…," she tried to explain.
"SamanthaCarter, I have informed Captain Heidall that if such circumstances had come to pass, that not only would I have allowed him to pass your hug along, I would have expected it," the Jaffa intoned with his deep voice and she looked at him in surprise and then thought of the poor Captain's reaction to that.
"Oh, yeah, Carter, the poor Captain looked like he was about to have a coronary… and at his young age," Jack chuckled and grinned at the memory.
Sam looked back at Teal'c… and saw that glint again, "Teal'c! You said that to him just to torture that young man!" she accused, but couldn't keep the grin off of her face.
"Perhaps…," the Jaffa admitted, "but I was also speaking the truth. If a hug was the last thing that you sent to me, then I would expect it to be delivered," and he allowed the affection to show on his face and she smiled softly back at him again.
Turning back to all three of them… "So, that's what all this hugging was about? What I said to Captain Heidall?" she asked, still grinning.
"Well, yes," Daniel admitted, "That provided the impetus or the excuse…," and he hugged her gently again.
"Well, how about some dinner?" Jack asked and looked at the members of his team. "We need to feed one skinny Major… who needs to regain a bit of fighting weight before one Doc Frasier will release her for gate travel in the future…," he continued.
She rolled her eyes as the conversation drifted off into a discussion of what type of food and where they should go. Watching the men negotiate…or argue… she realized… that it was good to be home.
So very good to be home.
====o0o==== The End ====o0o====
I hope that you enjoyed my story and I want to thank everyone who sent positive reviews. I can't thank you enough. This story took me months to struggle with. Your words of encouragement made all of the difference.
Again, all of my thanks to all of the other Stargate fanfic writers out there. And, thanks again to Heliopolis, Gateworld.net, Fanfiction.net, The Stargate Novel Archive and all other Stargate SG1 fanfiction websites.
If you like Carter fic or Sam/Jack fanfic, you might like
'Dancing With An Angel' or
'Come Fly With Me' or
'A Beautiful Mind' or
'Who's An Angel?' or
'What Doesn't Kill You' or
'The Zen of Dancing'
If anyone is interested in the trilogy that I cited in 'What Doesn't Kill You,' the trilogy is 'Universal Beat' by Aeddey and can be found at The Stargate Novel Archive.
I highly recommend 'Night Sky' by Joolz at www.geocities.com/joolz4me/NightSky.htm