Disclaimer: Not mine. Rating: PG13. Violence, language.
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 6: Wrapped in Nostalgia by Ana Lyssie Cotton

Hammond comes to the infirmary the next morning, and Sam looks up from tying her boots. "Sir." She wonders if she is still in 'this man's army', or if he comes bearing her discharge.

"I have..." Something crosses his face, and he looks away. "I'm sorry, Sam."

She is numb, she convinces herself. She has to be numb because she can't deal with more emotion on top of the everything else. "Sir?"

"You're not going to get a ceremony, the Pentagon thinks it would be a waste of time. And the Air Force thinks you've been allowed too much leniency." He doesn't add that he wanted to tell them to stick their opinions where the sun don't shine, but she guesses he was thinking it.

"I don't understand."

"No, you probably don't." A slight smile touches his lips and he straightens, "I'd like to introduce you to Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter." The salute is crisp.

She is gaping, and she can't stop. "I... sir?"

"The papers came through today. You are officially in charge of SG-1 as a Lieutenant Colonel. Colonel O'Neill is your second in command until he has the ropes -- or until such time as he announces he would prefer something else." He pauses, his eyes studying her. "And you have two months to get him up to speed, Colonel. And then I expect you to wade back into this fight like the officer I know you to be."

She understands his unspoken implications. "I... I will try, sir."

"Good." And he leaves her standing in the infirmary, disturbed and worried and uncertain what she needs to do next. There are things she has to do. Lists she should make.

It's not simple, and it's not easy. First Sam has to learn to deal with her emotions. She can't lock them away like he did (like she has been). Too much at once, and there are so many things she wants to rail and cry and scream about. He is dead and her father is dead (the Tok'ra are vaguely hopeful, considering Jacob's track record). She will have to call Mark, at some point. And probably endure him screaming about how the Air Force has fucked their lives over yet again.

Janet insists on someone driving her home, and the General hands the keys to his truck to O'Neill.

It's still early evening, the sun not yet set when they exit the Mountain. Sam takes a breath, relieved to be outside again. Neither speak as they get into his truck. He fingers the steering wheel for a moment, then starts it up with a growl.

She doesn't speak as he drives through the checkpoints, and he doesn't either.

Eventually, the silence is stretched to the breaking point.

"Do you know how to get there?" It's the only thing she can think of to say. Right now, she's remembering how to act like a normal human being again.

She doesn't want to.

But she will, because she is not giving up the fight against the goa'uld. Not this easily, when they have taken everyone she cares for.


"Ah." She directs him, noticing as she does so that he drives with more care than her Colonel.

They're almost to her house, when he speaks something other than a grunt of reaction. "Congratulations, by the way."

Eyes fixed on the glowing red light in front of them, she shrugs. "I suppose they'll simply hand command over to you when you're ready."

"I... I don't think I'll ever be ready to command a front-line unit again, Colonel."

The name sounds strange to hear. "It's not as hard as it sounds." Which is a lie, but she's not going to explain it.

A snort echoes in the small space of her car. "Really, Colonel, you're going to have to get better at that."

"Ok. So it's not easy until you remember who you're fighting for, what makes it worth going out there and getting shot at, stabbed, killed, broken and mutilated to within an inch of your life." She pauses, startled to find that her voice is shaking. "You left... too much. I'm sorry."

"Not your fault." He pulls to a stop and glances over at her. "See you tomorrow?"

"Yeah. Tomorrow." The lights are on in her house, and she frowns, wondering. "Be careful, sir. And don't speed."


The door swings open as she approaches, and Jonas is there. Summers and Teal'c are behind him. And Sam feels a strange sense of relief. She doesn't have to spend tonight alone. But, she thinks as they drag her into the house and she considers whether to play Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly, O'Neill is alone.


He spent too long on the base, and even taking the newly-minted Lieutenant Colonel home hadn't prepared him for moving home.


It's not the same. He wasn't expecting it to be, but he had hope. Now he doesn't.

There are echoes of the other man all over the house, and it takes him a while to sort him out. He finds the shoebox in the back of a closet, and the pictures are old and almost faded. Sara. Charlie. So much happiness, lost. Because things were different. Things are different. Sara has moved on, here, his son is dead. The Jack O'Neill of this side of the mirror was a military man who repressed every emotion until it didn't exist.

Almost every emotion, he relents, remembering that some of the nurses had joked about his sarcasm. Which, apparently, Lieutenant Colonel Carter has picked up.

Beer in the fridge, very little food in the cupboards. He finds a stack of take-out menus by the phone and considers them. Most of Jack O'Neill's credit cards are in his name (which is weird, because he is Jack O'Neill. Only. Not this one). There's going to be a meeting to determine his current financial state, but Jack is already feeling a little overwhelmed.

The Chinese place looks good, and the kid on the phone apparently knows him. He goes with the flow and orders the usual.

And wonders when it arrives why there's enough food to feed ten people.

Then he remembers that SG-1 were (and are) a tight-knit group.

He leaves the food on the table, and tracks down the photos of them. There are a few, carefully posed shots, everyone smiling. Daniel Jackson is in a few (and he has to remember that Daniel is dead, here). But they aren't the kind of photos he's looking for, and so he hunts through the house, trying to decide where he'd put them.

It takes him an hour, and he finds them in the back of the junk drawer, a small album.

The pictures are candid shots, mostly of SG-1, but some are Fraiser and a kid he doesn't know, and Hammond. And there's one picture that catches his interest. O'Neill and Carter, laughing at something neither would probably remember anymore. An unguarded moment when they're half-looking at each other.

He catches his breath.

There's a picture (there was a picture) of he and Sara in similar circumstances. Charlie had just announced that he was over girls. And they'd laughed while his mother in law took pictures, amused by the cuteness.

A comparison would probably show small differences. More restraint on Sam Carter's part. More restraint on O'Neill's.

Sound distracts him and he realizes the doorbell has rung. Uncertain, he wanders out to the front door and finds SG-1 standing there. Sam Carter looks almost uncertain, but Jonas and Teal'c are perfectly calm. "Uh... Hi?"

"We -- I thought you might want some help. Cleaning." She stops.


"Well, yeah, Colonel," Jonas smiles cheerfully, "After all, I'm sure even the service they've been using couldn't keep this house spotless."


"Um... Ok." He steps back, still somewhat uncertain what precisely is happening, but going with the odd flow.

"Thank you." And she flashes him something approaching a grin.

He's still clutching the photo album in one hand, without drawing attention to it, he closes it. "I accidentally ordered way too much food."

"Oh, good, I'm starving."

Three of the adults in front of him know this house, probably better than he ever will. The fourth looks like he isn't sure he's supposed to be there. And yet they are waiting for him to show them the way. A slight smile starts on his lips, "Well. Come on, then."

And Jonas bounces into the kitchen.


Final notes: There are two more stories in this arc, I think.