Disclaimer: Not mine. Except Milo, who is Jara's fault, but mine for the naming. Set: s8, sometime after Affinity and Sacrifices. There is Jonas. He snuck in. Rating: PG. Archive: Whatever. Warnings: There is Pete. There is, surprisingly, no Sam/Jack (as far as I can tell. I may not have read enough into it). There is vague violence.
Notes: Have noticed that SG-1 are all 12 in my head. This is probably vaguely related to 'The Way We Live Now', but prior reading isn't required. And it's not really a sequel. Just... in the same general universe. Sort of. This was written while in a training seminar for the new fax/copier/printer machines we have at work. They're pieces of crap.

Metaphorical Cliche by Ana Lyssie Cotton

The frying pan had a dent in it.

To be correct, Sam Carter thought as she crouched behind (and inside) some bushes, the Bistro Saute Pan she'd washed four days before had a dent in it.

It was a little thing that had been nagging at her subconscious. For Lieutenant Colonel Carter, things niggling at her subconscious were either dealt with or buried so deep she could (maybe) ignore them.

She was going to go with ignoring it right now. The jaffa stalking her certainly had priority. Having to kick their asses and save Daniel and Jonas was definitely more what she needed to be thinking about. Damn, but she wished Teal'c hadn't taken that vacation. Of course, she did understand that. Really. The whole sleeping with Ishta thing was quite clear in her mind. And she could admire him for it.

Trying to have something approaching a normal life was a worthy cause.

Even if she seemed to be failing miserably at it.

The jaffa moved away, their armor jingling slightly as they walked away through the dense underbrush leaving her grateful that she was wearing quieter clothing. Sam slowly relaxed. Now might not be the time to be thinking about her relationship with Pete. She wondered, fleetingly, if General O'Neill would have told her to stop thinking.

Probably.

The woods were silent again and she slowly unkinked her legs and back and then stood. Quietly. If she was right, the jaffa were holding the two men near to the gate.

With care she slowly made her way back towards the stargate (and hopefully Daniel and Jonas). Every extra sound she heard, every creak and groan made her pause, senses straining to assess: was it the jaffa? Had they found her trail? Were they aware she wasn't injured?

The jaffa had attacked with a brutal swiftness, and she'd had to run and leave them behind. It irritated her that she'd done so. But tactics meant that if all three were captured there would be less of a chance of freeing them.

Hopefully, they wouldn't be expecting her to attempt to free them so soon.

Of course, then they'd still be on the planet, still chased by jaffa... but they'd be free.

Sam decided she couldn't have everything.

Besides, if they were free, they wouldn't be getting tortured. And that was always a plus.

Sam could worry about getting them home after they were escaped.

Her radio crackled on, scaring a nearby bird. It shrieked.

"Carter?"

Dropping into cover, Sam cursed, then clicked on. "Shut up, sir."

He was probably blinking. General O'Neill didn't get told to shut up by his subordinates all that often. Higher-ups probably occasionally told him. And a lot of people might have wanted to tell him. But few did.

The woods were silent again, no jaffa suddenly crashing through the brush to capture her. Good. She clicked on the radio again. "Daniel and Jonas are being held by the gate. I estimate over forty jaffa are roaming the area looking for me."

"Backup?" The question was terse and to the point.

"No--wait. I could use a distraction. Can you send a MALP through in--" she looked at her watch. "--an hour."

"Done." A pause, then the General said, "Don't get killed on us, Carter."

"No problem, sir. Carter out."

So now she had to come up with a plan. Great.

Another bird shrieked nearby and she froze.

A plan. And the ability to be invisible.

--

"Fabulous rescue, Sam."

"Shut up, Daniel." At least Jonas had gotten away. And she still had a detonator and the C4 General O'Neill had given her for Easter--he was a strange man, in some ways. He claimed that C4, cordite, and detonators were the perfect gifts for holidays he didn't celebrate. Not that she disagreed with him. She rather liked having extra ammo to blow things up with.

Nearby the second MALP was leaning towards one side. The jaffa had done a beautiful job messing it up. Siler was going to be unhappy.

"Gosh, Sam, I thought you loved me."

Daniel was being irritating. "Not when you're being cranky." Okay, so was she. But she had her hands tied behind her back and several jaffa between her and escape. And they'd taken Milo, her boot knife. Her father had given her Milo as an academy graduation present. He'd told her to never leave home without it. She generally didn't (although she'd had to replace Milo twice due to nefarious goa'uld relieving her of her weapons).

"Y'know, we never talk much."

"I've been busy." Watching bad TV and wondering what the hell she was doing with her life. Which had been decidedly odd since Pete was also there those nights.

"Right."

"Shut up, Daniel."

"Huh." He eyed her through cracked glasses. "Sexual frustration makes you cranky."

She glared at him, her cheeks flushing.

"I knew it." Daniel shifted. "Look, Sam, I know you want to marry this guy, but--"

"He doesn't understand."

"What?"

"My dedication to the SGC." She replied, looking away. This was such a wonderful place to discuss this. Still, when would she next get the chance (or inclination) to talk about this?

"It's a hard job to understand."

"Yeah." Sam let out a sigh. "I feel like I'm in a bad Lifetime movie." Except for the jaffa part, of course.

"Want me to pretend to be gay?"

She wrinkled her nose. "You are gay, Daniel."

"Bi, please."

"Fine, fine."

"I'd be limping my wrist at you, but my hands are occupied."

"Daniel, some things I don't want to know."

He smirked. "Ta-da." His left hand appeared from behind his back, the rope gone. "I think you should all call me Houdini now."

"How?"

"Jonas' boot knife."

"Ah." She pouted, reminded again that they had taken Milo from her. She checked. The jaffa weren't paying them any attention. "Cut me loose, Houdini."

"Turn around Obi-Wan."

She complied. "Damn. We gotta stop watching Star Wars with Teal'c."

"Yup." He commenced sawing at the ropes.

Within a minute she was free. Just in time for one of their guards to turn around and notice the suddenly loose bindings.

"Hey!"

"Jaffa! Kree!"

"Damn. Run!"

They ran, barely making it into the tree line before the first staff blasts began chasing them.

Jonas caught up with them a moment later, not even winded, "I was wondering how long you were going to take getting yourself free, Dr. Jackson."

"Sorry, Jonas, I was busy trying to get Sam to talk."

"Oh, like we agreed?"

"Huh?" They were moving slower, and whispering could be allowed since the jaffa were making loud clangy noises as they stalked them. "What are you talking about?"

"Well, Sam," said Daniel, "We figured you needed to talk about something and that if we got captured you would."

The logic of this escaped her for a few moments, so she concentrated on deciding which of them to shoot first. She could simply tell the General it was an 'accident'.

"Maybe it was Fifth." This non sequitur from Jonas made her shiver.

"Fifth of vodka?" Daniel suggested.

"No, Fifth. The replicator." They all paused and listened, and Jonas shifted closer, "I read the report. He tortured Sam. Maybe that changed her."

"Hey," she hissed. "Right here. Stop talking about me."

"Then tell us about Fifth."

Sam snapped her mouth shut and glared at them.

"C'mon, Sam," Daniel cajoled, "Throw us a bone. Make us feel needed as your friends and buddies."

"You've been hanging around the General too long," she informed him.

"Sa-am."

"Fine, fine." The jaffa had moved off and the forest was beginning to re-awaken again. "He blamed me--for betraying him."

"Well, that's human."

"Funny," she said dryly as she studied her watch. "The General didn't see it that way."

"Sam, Jack has to worry about the big picture," said Daniel softly.

"I know." Ten minutes.

"Tell us about Pete."

"Jonas..." She sighed at the looks they gave her. "We don't talk anymore."

"Communication is over-rated. Try sex."

"Jonas!"

"Oh, c'mon, Sam. He's right."

She rolled her eyes at both of them. "We'll finish this conversation later. For now we need to get back to the gate and hope the General contacting us is enough of a diversion to get out of here."

"Right."

"But you should have lots of sex."

--

In the end, Sam used the C4, the MALP, and a hastily contrived ambush with Jonas' help to get them all weapons. And then they re-took the gate, dialed home and stepped through the wormhole to the SGC. The post-mission briefing was short and to the point, their physicals nothing more than formality.

And then Sam Carter took the rest of the week off and went home.

Pete found her late the next day, sitting in her backyard and simply staring at the grass there. It was getting shaggy, this lawn that she rarely looked at. In one corner were a bunch of weeds. She had been eyeing them for most of the afternoon, wondering if she should cut them. But they were the scraggly kind that proclaimed their own pride at beating the odds. And she understood that.

"Sam?"

"Hrm?"

"It's getting cold, why don't you come inside, honey." He really wasn't asking a question.

She wondered as she followed him in, if she was tired or if she was finally awake. Either way, it didn't matter. "Pete?"

"Yeah?" He moved around her kitchen, putting the kettle on, getting out two mugs. She grimaced. Herbal tea. Not her favorite thing. "Sam?"

"We don't talk anymore."

He blinked. "We don't?"

"No. We don't."

"Sam, I don't..." And then he finally noticed the box on the counter, the ring inside it glinting dully in the overhead light. "You're..." He couldn't seem to find the words, so he started to come around towards her instead.

"No." She shook her head and met his eyes, for what felt like the first time in a long time. "I'm sorry."

"Me, too, I mean..." He seemed to be grasping for what he wanted to say, "I transferred here for you."

"I know." Sam wanted to wrap her arms around herself, but she resisted, "But you just... I don't think anyone does, and I think I'm deluding myself."

"About what?"

"Life. Finding someone who will understand me."

"Sam, babe, I understand you plenty."

"Do you?"

"Damnit! You can't just give us up!" He'd chosen anger and outrage over the hurt she knew was there.

Had to be there, because she felt the dull ache in her own chest. But there was also something that told her this was right. "Were we ever an 'us', Pete?"

"What?"

"You want me to leave my job, stop what I love doing the most, and settle down."

"Yes!" He sounded perfectly reasonable. "I mean, I worry, Sam. You do so many dangerous things--and you can't tell me half of them."

"Even if I could, you wouldn't care about the technological advancements we make. You would just worry about me getting shot at."

"That's a perfectly normal thing, Sam."

She succumbed to her need and wrapped her arms around herself. "I know. Because I worry, too."

"Look, Sam," he was trying to be reasonable, now. Calm and collected, oozing charm. "I love you. I only want you to be happy with me."

"I can't." She closed her eyes against the look in his. She hadn't wanted this, but there was no other way. "I'm sorry, I can't give you that."

His fist hit the counter and she flinched. "All of these months, did they mean nothing?"

"Just go, Pete." She couldn't say what was in her head, it wouldn't be fair to him to say they were fun. But she was tired of lying to herself, and they never talked.

Pete swore, then something banged. Her eyes opened to find him leaving the room, the frying pan she'd never put away still vibrating from where it had fallen to the floor. She considered going after him, saying something about leaving in anger. But this was his choice, and she'd already made hers.

"Goodbye." The word echoed in her empty kitchen, seeming to catch in the fading light from the sunset. Or maybe that was simply the way the overhead light flattened out the shadows.

The frying pan, she noticed as she bent to pick it up and put it back in the drying rack, had another dent in it.

-f-