Telling The Truth
By Kate Carter
Disclaimer: "Stargate" is not mine. I wish it were, otherwise, I wouldn't have be writing this, because this wouldn't have happened!
Spoilers: MAJOR "Threads" spoiler
A/N: So…I'm sittin' here burning time, and I'm sorting through files on my laptop. I stumble across the transcript for "Threads". Not being fortunate enough to have satellite, and living too far out of town for cable, I don't have the Sci Fi channel, so I haven't actually seen it. I got the transcript because I kept seeing all these things saying, "S/J" and "major 'Threads' spoiler" together, so I figured either something really good or really bad had happened for our favorite pair. As it is, it was both. If this completely contradicts the episode, let me know how, I'll fix it, but I haven't actually seen the episode I'm writing about!
It was a gorgeous day, perfect for a barbecue, and I was barbecuing! I splashed some beer over the grill, trying to get the smoke to die down a bit so I could actually catch sight of the meat and check to see how it was doing. That's when a voice startled me. Not just any voice. Her voice.
I whirled around. "Carter!" For cryin' out loud, this has got to be the worst possible time for you to come here!
"Look, I-I'm sorry to bother you at home like this, but, uh…" she trailed off. She was visibly nervous. Nervous? Sa…er, I mean, Carter?
"How'd you know I was here?" I glanced towards the house, nervous. She might come out at any minute!
"I saw the smoke."
"Oh, yeah." I brushed some ashes off of myself. Great, O'Neill, light a smoke signal!
"Look, is this, is this okay? I mean, I could have called first, but…" Wow. She's ended two sentences with "but" and trailed off. This was big. What was so big she couldn't have called me?
"No…" I realized how rude that sounded and hastily tried to correct it. "Yeah…I mean, it's fine. So, um…" I glanced at the house again, praying she wouldn't come out. "What brings you to this neck of the woods on such a fine day in my back yard?"
She seemed even more nervous now, if it were possible. This must be big. "Well, actually, I've, um…" she cleared her throat. "I've been sitting in your driveway for the last ten minutes trying to work up the nerve to come and talk to you." I raised my eyebrow. Really big. "The truth is, I've been trying to work up the nerve for a lot longer than that." She tried to smile.
And that's when I knew. I knew she'd come to talk to me about the one thing I'd wanted the most for years, the one thing that seemed to be out of my reach forever, the one thing I'd given up on, had tried to move past, just a few weeks before. My throat was suddenly dry, but I had to play it cool. "Oh?" I asked, gesturing for her to continue.
"Pete put a down payment on a house."
THAT WAS IT!
"Well, that's great!" I said. I wasn't sure if it was or wasn't, didn't know if I was disappointed or not.
She seemed distracted. "It's a beautiful house," she said, but her tone didn't support it. Obviously, something was wrong.
"But?" I said, trying to play the part of the encouraging friend, hoping she'd hurry up before…
"The-the truth is, I'm having second thoughts about the wedding."
Second thoughts? Second thoughts? Couldn't she have had these, I don't know, a year ago! I looked at her, puzzled as to why she'd be having second thoughts with the wedding only a few weeks away. "Why?" I asked.
"See, the…the thing is," there was that nervousness again, "the closer it gets, the more I get the feeling that…I'm making a big, huge, mistake." Her eyes gazed directly into mine, telling me silently why she feels that way. Why couldn't this have happened a month ago! I glanced at the house; it'd been a long time.
"Look, Carter, the…I don't know what…" I trailed off helplessly. What was I supposed to say? "Sorry, Carter, too late, the role of leading lady in Jack O'Neill's life was just filled"?
"Look, I'm sorry to bother you with this, but, uh…" she continued on, desperately. "See, there's actually a very good reason that I'm bothering you with this, and if I don't tell you now, I might never ..." She was trying to find the courage to say what we'd wanted to say for so long.
That's when I heard Kerry's voice. "Jack, I looked everywhere – I could not find…" she trailed off, noticing Carter. I glanced at her briefly, but that look might haunt me forever.
She stood there, pain, disbelief, sorrow, all etched on her face. Not necessarily visible to an outsider, but I'd worked with her for eight years. I could see it.
He had another woman.
I closed my eyes for a moment, unbelieving. How could he…? I winced at the thought before turning to see her.
Not just any woman. That CIA agent that worked with us just a short time earlier. Kerry Johnson.
I wanted to leap forward and strangle her. I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry, I wanted to kiss him and make him forget all about her, I wanted to ask him "Why?" Why didn't you wait, why didn't you see, why did you…her…but I couldn't. I could only stand there. We stared at each other for a moment. Then she broke the silence. "Colonel Carter," she said. I nodded at her and turned to look at J-at General O'Neill again.
She looked at me, and I couldn't take it. Her eyes were plaintive, clearly asking why? Why had I done that?If only I had known…
"Ms. Johnson," he said, introducing me to her. I remembered her.
"Yeah, I didn't…I didn't…" Didn't what? Didn't know. Didn't want to know.
He was clearly trying to soothe the situation. "We were just…meeting here in my back yard on this fine day to discuss the state of affairs."
She didn't believe me.
I wouldn't have believed me either.
'Discussing the state of affairs?' Did he think I was born yesterday? Would she be calling him Jack!
"Well, this is awkward!" Johnson said.
Sorrow and pain had given way to annoyance. "Ya think!" I said.
"Jack didn't want anyone at the SGC to know about us," she tried to explain. Us, huh? That confirmed it.
I felt so incredibly awkward.
The general went and took the bowl and dish she was carrying from her. It all looked so sweet and domestic. I felt sick. I had to get out of here. "No, look, I, uh, uh, I'm sorry, this is my fault, really, I shouldn't have come by unannounced like this." I was grasping for words, trying to get out of here as fast as I could.
Johnson tried to smooth it over. "Well, y'know, now that the cat's out of the bag, you're here, why don't you just stay? I'm sure there's enough charred meat on the grill for all three of us."
The general showed me a piece of charred meat; very charred. I knew his habits from when we'd go offworld and they hadn't changed; in fact, they may have gotten worse. I gave a slight laugh at the thought. It didn't help though; did she honestly think I wanted to be here in this incredibly awkward situation?
I was proud of Kerry for trying to smooth things over, but did she have to invite Carter to stay?
It was incredibly awkward. I saw Carter get that particular look, the one she used to get when we were cornered by the enemy and she was searching for a way to escape. "No – thank you…I, um…" She was working fiercely trying to get out of here, and it felt like I was being stabbed in the heart. Her cellphone rang then, and she looked at the screen. "It's the SGC," she said. She answered it. "Colonel Carter." What was happening that they would call Carter and not me? Kerry smiled at me and began to walk over to me. No, no, no, don't come, stay there, stay back, don't come over-! Too late. I offered her my beer, trying to see what the SGC wanted Carter for. "What? When?" she asked, then "Okay, I'm on my way." She hung up. "I-I gotta go. Uh, it's my dad."
As I hurried to my car, I was worried about my father, primarily, but I couldn't help but be happy that I'd been given an excuse to leave. I had no idea what was wrong with Dad, what was so urgent I needed to come to the SGC right now, what was so urgent he needed to come to Earth right now. Why hadn't they called General O'Neill?
No. I was not going to think about him.
I watched her as we talked. She looked tired, mentally more than physically, but she'd seemed that way even before I'd told her about Selmak.
"I just wanna know you're gonna be happy," I said suddenly. She looked surprised. "I am," she insisted. I looked at her carefully. "Don't let rules stand in your way," I told her softly.
She looked puzzled now. "What are you talking about?" she asked. I gave a little sigh. "You joined the Air Force because of me," I reminded her.
"I love my job," she insisted. Yeah, she probably did. I had loved my job these last few years too.
"Mmm," I murmured non-commitedly. I stroked her cheek. It had been one of the first things I'd done when she was born; I'd held her and stroked the velvety-soft cheek of my new daughter. "You can still have everything you want," I said softly.
"I do, Dad," she insisted, not seeming to get it. I sighed. Sammie, can't you understand this, your dying father's wish? For that matter, Selmak had been all for it too. Sam took my hand again. "Really," she insisted.
I sighed one more time. "No Sam. You don't."
Kerry just broke up with me.
Don't get me wrong, I've had women break up with me before, plenty of times. They've just never done it because they've seen me with another woman.
Another woman I wasn't even with!
Another women I couldn't be with.
"Is the Air Force the only thing that's keeping you two apart? Rules and regulations? 'Cause if it is, you're making a very big mistake."
How did she know?
Was it just the Air Force keeping us apart?
Or was it something else?
I could retire.
I sighed and drummed my fingers on my desk, frustrated. Then an airman knocked on my office door. "Come in," I called. He just stuck his head in the door. "They just thought you should know sir, they don't think General Carter will last much longer."
"Thank you," I said soberly. "Dismissed." He nodded and left. I sat there a moment longer, thinking.
Then I got off and headed to the isolation room.
I heard him come in, and I knew instantly who it was. He sat down next to me. "You okay?" he asked softly.
I'd cried for over an hour before, but after that, I just felt so emotionally drained that I couldn't cry anymore. "Actually, I'm fine," I told him. "Good, even, strange as that sounds. I thought I lost him four years ago. Since then, we've been closer than we ever were in my whole life. In a way, Selmak gave me the father I never thought I'd know."
He looked at me for a moment. "C'me here," he said gruffly. He put his arm around my shoulder. I took his hand and snuggled into his shoulder, stroking his hand with my thumb. It felt so…right. There was no Kerry, no regulations, nothing but the two of us.
"Thank you, sir," I said after a moment. I felt his surprise. "For what?" he asked quietly.
"For being here with me," I said, equally quiet.
He looked at me then, and I couldn't describe the look in his eyes. Peace, maybe. "Always," he said softly, and I knew it was true. I gave a slight little sigh of contentment, then rested my head on his hand. It was true. No matter what happened, he would always be there for me, and I for him.
"Thank you, sir," she said softly. I was surprised. "For what?" I asked her. Her answer surprised me. "For being here with me."
Maybe there was a hint of forlornness in the tone, I don't know, but I looked at her then, and as corny as it sounds, in my heart, I knew there was only one right answer. I could have gone for "Of course," or "That's what friends are for," or "You owe me one," but they were just wrong.
"Always," I told her. And it was the right answer.
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