Setting: Abyss, Alternate Universe, Character Death, Mirror Universe.
Pairings referenced: Sam/Jack, Sara/Jack Archive: Yes, whatever.
Notes: Hit me while walking to work on Tuesday. Three-fourths of this was actually written there until A came by and told me not to type (even when I have nothing else to do... sigh. Hate my job). The rest was written that night, and then edited tonight because I needed the distance (and time to plot out what else is going on). The title and chapter titles are ENTIRELY stolen from the Pet Shop Boys' song of the same name which is a NICE song. Sigh. Damn them.
Up Against It Chapter 1: News In This City by Ana Lyssie Cotton
She can hear the whispers, sometimes. When they don't know she's just around the corner. It doesn't hold the full attention of on-base gossip, of course. There are other people who are much more talked about. But she does hear them. They call her the Ice Goddess, tribute to a woman who hasn't even grieved over the man she served under for six years.
I saw the body, she wants to tell them, but doesn't.
They wouldn't understand this insane need for control. And it is insane. Daniel tells her that, sometimes.
"You gotta let loose, Sam."
But he's just as busy dealing with his grief over Jack as she is, and so he can only sometimes help her at night.
Sam told Jonas that, once.
"Dr. Jackson's dead, Major Carter."
Of course he is. And so is Colonel Jack O'Neill. She just nods, though. And doesn't miss the look Jonas shares with Teal'c. When Mackenzie attempts to get her thrown into a psych program so she can be properly evaluated, they stand by her.
General Hammond takes her calm, collected arguments at face value, and doesn't press.
And during the day, she is everything they believe her to be. She deals with her experiments, she discusses statistics and tactics with anyone and everyone. She smiles (maybe not as broadly, and maybe it doesn't always reach her eyes) at the people she passes. She even remembers to take lunch in the mess hall (that should have been their first clue), but she never eats jell-o anymore.
It's at night, that she stops.
At night, when Daniel can be there to comfort her (even if he can't touch her), to talk her through this pain.
Not that he really understands, although they both share guilt.
It's not just the guilt, of course. It's the emotions suppressed. The 'feelings'. The "I would rather die than lose Carter." statement that she has never been able to forget as much as she might want to. Two years. Two years of knowing and completely blowing away any possibility of deeper feelings between her and him. Except for a few notable occasions.
Always 'sir' and 'colonel', never 'Jack'. Because (and she's not afraid to admit it, now) she was too fucking frightened of what it could mean if she reached out and grabbed hold of something so nebulous as love.
Especially when it could so easily have been nothing more than a crush compounded by hero worship.
Jonas and Teal'c close ranks with her again when she starts insisting that SG-1 return to active duty. Hammond offers a compromise, and she spends two sessions with Mackenzie lying so effectively even he believes her heart-felt tears over the man she knew as Colonel Jack O'Neill.
The effort costs her, though, and Daniel has to listen to her rant in language that would make a sailor blush (memories and naquadah aren't the only thing Jolinar left her).
Mid-rant, she stops, turns. "Tell me how he died."
"Which time?" Daniel is apparently over babying her.
"All of them."
It takes the rest of the night, and in the morning, she tries not to show how tired she is at work. And succeeds, mostly. Only Teal'c notices, but Sam has always known that Teal'c notices everything.
Hammond gives them clearance to start on active duty again (going off world), with the proviso that they get a fourth.
They end up picking a bright young Captain by the name of Alex Summers. He's eager and can give Daniel a run for his money when talking about geology (if Daniel were talking artefacts). Hammond lets her know that the joint chiefs are pushing her promotion, seems they want only Colonels leading SG-1.
The first day is difficult, until they adjoin to the mess hall. Carter sits down at the table with the three men, and eyes their piled trays. "I feel," she remarks dryly, "As if I should go on a diet just looking at you three."
Jonas and the captain exchange amused smirks, and Teal'c half-smiles. And it's suddenly okay to have this new interloper with them.
At the end of the week, they've trained the kid as much as possible, and they set out on a fairly easy mission.
The mission is as simple as they'd thought it would be, and Sam Carter spends most of it feeling very old while Jonas and Summers geek about all sorts of thing (including the weather channel). They return in perfect spirits, and Sam lets the General know (with a sarcasm that would have done Colonel O'Neill proud) that the kid seems to be surviving life here at the SGC just fine.
"Where is Ba'al?" She asks Daniel that night.
She is seeing less and less of him, and she knows he'll be leaving her soon. That's all right, she's got the whole being left behind thing down pat, by now. Her father, her mother, her brother, Daniel... And now Colonel O'Neill. Sam figures she's an artist when it comes to not letting it hurt.
He is gone for a week, during which she continues to prove that SG-1 is whole and ready to go. She also does a little hacking into the program which spits out its weekly gate co-ordinates, and checks for ones that lead to planets they know (or there are rumors) Ba'al occupies.
It doesn't escape General Hammond's notice that she is so calm and cheerful again. With just a little sarcasm here and there that reminds people of who her commanding officer was.
There are rumors going around -- from those with a more romantical bent -- that she is on happy pills, because she has lost the love of her life. A lot of it contains stupid romance novel crap that she hopes never to have associated with her again. Someday.
Janet tries to call her on the not grieving, but she tells her to butt out. Even Cassie can't break her out of hanging on to her control.
Sometimes, she wishes it really were drugs.
Eventually, Daniel returns. He looks tired, now, and Sam wonders how long he can continue to hide his presence and the use of his powers to keep her together. Or maybe she's keeping him together.
"You regret making him take the symbiote."
It wasn't even much of a lie.
He's quiet, for a time. Then his soft voice comes from the dark, "I tried to get him to ascend."
And she can't answer him, because she knows he knows that ascending was something Jack would never do. "I'm tired, Daniel."
And, for a moment, she can almost feel the lips that press a kiss to her cheek. "Sleep, Sam."
In the morning, she sorts through the program and considers the glyphs Daniel gave her. It's a simple matter to program them in. They'll be tossed out in less than a month, and should coincide with SG-1 getting another assignment. The planet is unremarkable, Daniel says there's a naquadah mine, but the palace of Ba'al is a long walk from the gate. All she has to do is keep the original survey to a minimum, and it will be a cake-walk.
Two weeks pass, SG-1 successfully avoids distinguishing themselves and/or getting captured. Most of the SGC assumes this simply means everything with them is a hundred percent.
Only Jonas and Teal'c still watch her, when they think she isn't paying attention.
Summers is actually fitting in, his wry humor breaking the ice over the campfire, and his eagerness getting him the middle watch more often than not. And between the three men of SG-1, the SGC mess hall staff is kept on their toes providing more helpings of food.
There is no remorse in knowing that she lies to them every day she breathes.
Daniel shows up one night, "It'll be tomorrow, Sam. And Hammond isn't going to be easy about this planet. It's going to give him a bad feeling."
"Everything gives George a bad feeling."
Irreverence in the face of adversity is a Jack O'Neill trait. She figures she's earned the right to use it.
"Good luck, Sam."
She knows this is the last time she'll see him. "Hey, Daniel."
"Give 'em hell."
The morning dawns cold, and she whimsically attributes it to hell freezing over (Netu, after all, is dead and buried and blown to smithereens in the depths of space). She will get what she wants today, because there isn't anyone who will want to stop her.
General Hammond objects, thinks the planet might be too deep into goa'uld occupied territory.
"It looks safe, sir." She doesn't scream, she doesn't yell, she doesn't tell him she thinks he's an over-cautious old man. Because she knows he's actually right.
She's just not going to tell him that.
It's Summers that saves the day, amusingly enough. There are geological formations that practically make him wet his pants, he's bouncing so much.
And although Teal'c is giving her a knowing look, Jonas agrees with him. And Hammond is swayed. As long as they promise to stick close to the gate. And be good. "We'll be good, sir."
It's a fairly barren, desolate rock. And Sam can hear Jack mocking the lack of trees as they set up camp less than 15 meters from the gate. Within an hour, Jonas and Summers are trading comments back and forth as they investigate the maze of rocks. Sam sits on the steps of the gate, watching them. And feeling Teal'c watching her.
They're still working on the paperwork for her promotion. She isn't in a hurry, just yet. "What?" Her tone is lifeless. The lifelessness of the world must be getting to her, because she feels listless and bored.
"What is your purpose in coming here?"
To die. But that isn't the whole truth, and so she doesn't say it. "It seemed like such a fabulous vacation spot, T. I figured," she waved a hand, "it'd do as much as the next one."
He tilts his head, watches her.
But he isn't going to get anymore, and he seems to sigh. "I believe O'Neill would have wanted you to be happy."
Which is such an out of left field statement that she can only stare at him, and blink.
An inclination of his head, and he is gone, heading off to corral the boys who are bouncing further and further away.
It's the opportunity she's been waiting for.
The lightweight backpack stays with her, but she dumps the rations. If this plan works, they'll never know where she went. The note she leaves pinned to the plinth says very little. And then she dials.
She can hear the radio she left behind crackle, and Jonas calling her. He can wait, though. Hopefully, Teal'c hadn't noticed her noticing her surroundings when they first did the sweep. The scrubby vegetation is itchy, and she doesn't even want to know what bugs are going to crawl in her hair as she shinnies underneath and closes her eyes. And waits.
The gate shuts down.
Within a few minutes, the boys are back, babbling and worried and excited. Teal'c finds the note, and she can swear he is finding her in the bushes, too, but he doesn't come over and rat her out.
Twenty minutes later, after a conversation with General Hammond, the boys reluctantly gate home. They don't know where she's gone, but they hope that her note tells the truth.
"Guys. Something I need to do. Further intelligence in my computer. Don't wait up for me, Teal'c. Sam."
An hour later and she's walking down the dusty road that leads to hell.
It's a grim thought, but she isn't going to ignore it.
Five hours later, and the jaffa spot her. She doesn't give up without a fight, but they still don't have too much trouble taking her down.
A little punching and pulling, and they drag he before their God.
"My lord. The Tau'ri woman we discovered."
She licks her lips as he steps up to look at her, and she meets his eyes, knowing there's a smirk building and unable to stop it. "Hi honey. I'm home."