A Side Experiment
By: Koorino Megumi
Spoilers for the episode Window of Opportunity; takes place the day after the end of the ep.
Jack looked up at the voice to find Sam standing over him. He raised an eyebrow at her. She looked a little nervous, not to mention she wasn't sitting down.
"Carter," he greeted, "Something wrong?"
"No Sir!" she declared hurriedly, taking a seat across from him with a bowl of cereal.
Jack eyed her questioningly, taking another bite of his pancakes--actual pancakes! This was the first time in who-knew-how-many months that he'd had them. But although he'd been enjoying them contentedly, his mind now wandered away from the taste.
Sam seemed to grow uncomfortable under his gaze, and he couldn't help but wonder why she was staring at him instead of touching her own food.
"I've...uh...noticed that you've been...smiling at me...a lot lately, Sir," Sam finally burst out.
That eyebrow stayed right up. "Smiling at you?" Jack repeated.
"Yes, Sir. Ever since that day we were repeating."
"Ah." A memory drifted into Jack's mind, and that smile started to creep over his face again.
"Like that, Sir." She frowned a bit nervously, but not being one to hesitate, plunged ahead with, "So what exactly happened?"
"Happened?" Jack repeated, a bit too innocently. And somehow he was having a hard time getting rid of that smile. In truth, he wanted to laugh, if only because he couldn't see her ever figuring out what he was thinking about. Then again, considering that they both knew...
Well, that wasn't worth thinking about anyway. He'd rather keep his light mood, thank you very much.
Sam gave him an exasperated look, and he responded with a smile as innocent as his tone. "Come on, Sir," she prodded, "You said that Daniel asked you if you'd been tempted to do anything crazy."
"You were here then, Major."
He could just see her growing frustration, and it amused him so. It was a rare occasion when he had the upper hand over Sam Carter, and he planned to enjoy it as much as possible.
"Not then, Sir. You told Daniel yesterday that he'd asked you before. In...another yesterday."
Jack grinned dangerously. "Yeah, he did say that."
"And...did you, Sir?"
"Carter, you try repeating the same day more than a hundred times and see what you wind up doing."
She frowned. "Well, yes, Sir, but..." And now she leaned forward a bit conspiratorially, although that rather uncharacteristic nervousness was still visible in her eyes. "What did you do? Anything..." She hesitated, and that more than anything caught Jack's attention and began to make him a little nervous. "Against regulations?"
He knew what she meant, of course. But never one to be serious unless it was a last resort, he replied, "Well, Teal'c and I played golf through the Stargate."
"Colonel," Sam reprimanded, laughing the sort of uncomfortable laugh that accompanies an attempt at a release of tension. Jack just raised an eyebrow at her, and she frowned. "You didn't...really?" She eyed his expression. "Colonel, do you have any idea how dangerous that would be? Depending on the velocity of the golf ball, you could-"
"Time loop, Carter," he reminded.
She stopped. "Right..." was all she managed.
She was at a loss for words. He, Colonel Jack O'Neill, had left Major Samantha Carter speechless. Oh, this was rich. Jack had to hold back a laugh. "If it's any consolation, Major," he added, "We had gated to that planet SG-12 was exploring--Alaris. Uninhabited."
Sam's eyes widened. "You mean you...and Teal'c? Really played golf through the Stargate?"
"Well, we would have taken that fishing trip, but it's just not the right...atmosphere in the SGC."
Sam shook her head, amused, but then she tilted it thoughtfully, her mind obviously returning to her original question. Jack held back a sigh. His reply had distracted her briefly, anyway. "But...you didn't answer my question, Sir," she prodded.
"Are you saying, Major, that you believe playing golf through the Stargate doesn't go against regulations?"
"Of course not, Sir!" Sam responded quickly, "Just that...playing golf through the Stargate shouldn't make you smile at me...Sir."
He was caught. It didn't look like she was going to let this topic drop until she got her answer.
"I didn't do anything against regulations that concerned you, Major."
"Right. Of course not." Sam looked down, and he couldn't help but notice that she seemed disappointed.
I would be, too, if I'd forgotten -that-...
There was that smile again. Jack realized that this was an awfully dangerous topic for him to talk about in front of her.
"So then what did you do, Sir?" Sam pressed, a hint of a smile touching her face as well at the sight of his expression.
"I...uh...resigned," he replied, scratching his head and avoiding her gaze, trying to look as unruffled as possible. He cringed inwardly. Yes, he still hadn't actually admitted what he'd done, but he was letting her fluster him! So much for getting the better of Sam Carter. But it had certainly been fun while it lasted.
"You resigned?" Sam cried.
Jack cringed outwardly this time, glancing around for any eavesdroppers. The last thing he needed was for anyone to start thinking this was official. "Carter, keep it down. I'm not ready to give up my job yet."
"Sorry, Sir," Sam apologized, "But..." And she trailed off with that, which, more than anything, brought Jack's gaze back to her.
"But?" he repeated. If she was going to find out, he might as well just get it over with now that his fun had ended.
"But...well...that would prevent certain things from being against regulations. Sir."
You could always count on Sam to figure things out before she was told. Jack grinned. "Only one that I can think of, Major," he allowed.
Sam raised an eyebrow at him, and he grinned, willingly allowing himself to indulge in the memory this time. Then she abruptly stood, picking up the plate of food she hadn't even touched. "Thank you, Sir," she stated. She was smiling a smile similar to Jack's own. There went his eyebrow again. Somehow that woman never failed to confuse him.
"Major?" he asked.
"Could you come by the lab before you leave tonight, Sir?" she asked, "I was...thinking about your ability to retain your memories from each day as time looped, and...well, I have a side experiment I want to try, Sir, but I'm going to need your help."
Jack eyed her for a moment. That explanation had been strangely devoid of complex technical terms, not to mention she had just asked for his help with an experiment. And what did all this have to do with that little...thing...he'd done after resigning, anyway?
"That's fine, Major. I'll see you tonight," he found himself replying, hoping she would explain but knowing he wouldn't find out any more until he was there.
"Thank you, Sir!" Sam grinned, her expression lighting up the way it did when she'd worked out a new theory. Something about that look always made Jack nervous, although usually it was because he was anticipating being hit by a wave of scientific mumbo-jumbo. Somehow this time he doubted that was the case, although what the case actually was he had no idea.
A side experiment, Carter? You don't actually mean "off the record" by that, do you?
Later that day, Jack stood just outside the lab, peering in a bit apprehensively at Sam as she sat at a computer, typing away and apparently oblivious to his presence. He frowned. This wasn't like him. He was supposed to be the decisive one, wasn't he? And since when did he let her make him nervous? Well, aside from when he was sure a scientific speech was about to come out of her mouth, anyway.
Encouraged by those thoughts, he knocked, drawing Sam's attention to him.
"Colonel!" she cried, sounding almost surprised, although the look on her face said that she wasn't. She stood, seeming almost...flustered? Was she nervous again?
That realization brought Jack's nervousness right back.
"Come in," Sam gestured, "And...shut the door."
Jack raised an eyebrow, but did as she'd directed. "So what's this experiment you need my help on, Major?" he asked, trying not to sound uncomfortable.
"Well...I was thinking about what you said, Sir, about being able to act without consequences while you--we--were trapped in the time loop," Sam explained, walking toward him. She grabbed a file folder from the desk as she stepped around it, but it was almost as an afterthought, not at all the sort of purposeful movement it should have been. Opening it up and staring--rather blankly, it seemed to Jack--down at its contents, Sam proceeded to walk over to him and stand right next to him.
"Major?" he asked, feeling like propriety demanded he take a step away. He didn't budge, though. Something about this situation, about their conversation earlier, about that moment he'd had at the end of that time loop, held him there, immobile, watching Sam as she pretended to read out of a file folder and gave him the most unsettling urge to resign again, immediately, and make it official this very minute by...doing something crazy. The sort of thing he would only do if there were no consequences.
It wasn't Jack who did something crazy this time, though. Quite abruptly, Sam dropped the file folder, papers flying out to strew the floor. Jack started to stoop down to help her pick it up, when she brought her hands up, hooking them around his neck, and titled her head up to kiss him fully on the lips.
Her hands dropped almost immediately, and she took a step back. Jack just stared at her in silence for a moment, his expression stunned, but, quite unconsciously, touches of that same smile were coming back again.
"I was right," Sam stated, her face breaking out into that new theory smile again. At the same time, though, there was something else in it, a pleasure very much like the one in Jack's. "I knew that was what was making you smile like that."
Jack blinked, still trying to overcome his shock. Sam couldn't have just kissed him, could she? That was impossible--not to mention against regulations. "Major...?" he asked.
And Sam grinned. "Don't worry, Colonel," she stated, "That was just a side experiment. To determine whether or not you really were retaining memories of a repeating day. And the findings don't have to leave this room."
"A side experiment," Jack repeated. And he grinned, too. "All right, Major," he replied, "I think I can forgive you for using me as a guinea pig for that."
"Thank you, Sir."
Jack nodded, starting toward the door. He was still in a haze, feelings warring within him that he couldn't make any sense out of. One thing he did know, though. He was just as happy as he'd been at the end of that time loop. "See you tomorrow, Major." He pulled the door open, but then hesitated, turning back to her. They both smiled wordlessly for a second, their expressions identical. Then with a, "Good work, Carter," he headed out into the hall, leaving her behind.
Maybe we should try manipulating time more often. I could use the work on my backswing. Jack chuckled to himself. And use the time for a few more experiments...
He began to whistle as he headed to the elevator to leave for the day, that same smile still plastered on his face. He had to admit, having to live the same day over and over again hadn't turned out so bad in the end.