The Blue Jell-O Metaphor
By Jennghis Kahn
Disclaimer- Don't own nor profit from Stargate.
Rated- PG-13 for language.
Pairing- Sam/Team, hint at Sam/Jack but nothing shippy.
Category- Humor/slightly het-like smarm
Spoilers- Really anything before season 7 is up for grabs. Especially concerning Sam's relationships.
Thanks to Amykay for beta-ing this for me. She did a wonderful job!
"Did you SEE her in that meeting? I swear to God, she thinks we're all idiots."
"She does it on purpose you know."
"Of course she does."
Sam stopped in the middle of buttoning her pants and stared at the stall door in front of her. She felt a sudden and very clear sense of recognition and just knew the two female airmen were talking about her.
"Little Miss Perfect. She gets all the credit. Hell, I even saw her arguing with Dr. Jackson this week. As if he isn't capable of doing anything without her. God, he's hot."
There was an audible sigh as the water turned on and off. "Super Sam saves the day. As always." The voice was sarcastic. "I bet she doesn't even take a crap like the rest of us."
There was laughter.
Sam leaned against the wall of the bathroom stall and waited. Super Sam? So apparently that name hadn't died out yet. Great. She knew damn well she should be above all this, but… it was hard. It's not like she wanted undying appreciation from the entire world for saving their collective asses again and again for God's sake.
Well, ok, maybe she did want that.
But it wasn't like she expected it. Hmm. Yeah, that felt right. After all, she was saving her own butt as well every time she saved Earth's.
She heard the two airmen leave the bathroom; the sounds of the outside hallway grew louder for a moment and then the small bathroom descended into silence again. She stayed where she was for a few minutes more in case the women stood around outside the door for a while.
She couldn't quite decide if avoiding confrontation with them was being the bigger person or just being a chickenshit, never mind that she had more combat experience than every woman in this base combined. But somehow the thought of telling them off seemed even more... what was the word she'd overheard being used about her last week? Pretentious. It seemed more pretentious to tell them they should damn well be grateful.
Oh hell, it wasn't like she hadn't faced all of this before.
Confrontation did nothing but make everyone uncomfortable. And it wasn't as if she could fight them all. She had to choose her battles, and she chose to battle for Earth.
"Super Sam?" Colonel O'Neill snorted into his coffee, his eyes amused above the rim of the cup as he looked at her.
"Thanks for the sympathy, sir." Sam rubbed the bridge of her nose tiredly. She knew it was a mistake to mention it, but she was curious to see how wide-spread the nickname really was. She'd heard it before of course. She'd just never heard such... venom behind the name before. It just really did mystify her.
"Yeah, I've heard people call you that." Daniel smiled. "Maybe we ought to buy you some tights and a cape."
Sam shot him a warning glance. "Ha. Ha."
"Yeah!" O'Neill set his coffee down then used a finger to draw on his own chest. "With a big 'S' right… here."
Sam groaned and let her head fall into one hand, elbow braced on the table next to her plate of salisbury steak and mashed potatoes. "You guys aren't helping."
"Aww, Sam." Daniel was more sympathetic now. He reached across the table to touch her arm soothingly. "We still love you."
"Well, what do you expect, Carter? Is there anything you'renot good at?"
Sam met the Colonel's eyes. "Why can't someone be good at a lot of things? Where's the crime in that?"
Jack shrugged. "It's just people, Carter. They're jealous. You can't let it get to you."
"I know, I know." She sighed. It's just that sometimes it feels like I don't belong anywhere.
"… you see. Hawking theorized that time travel might not be possible through a wormhole because quantum vacuum fluctuations of steadily increasing energy would arise. Although the magnitude, of course, depends on the space-time interval on a circuit threading through the wormhole and back into normal space." Sam gave an eager smile.
"Really? Um…" The man across the table from her took a deep breath, his eyes sliding away from her and over the crowd at the restaurant.
Sam eyed him. "Oh yes. And don't get me started on the dark matter."
"OK." He didn't even glance at her as he looked around the room. "Umm. I need to…" He pointed in the direction of the restrooms. Sam smiled.
"Ah. Yes, of course."
When he'd gone, she stopped smiling and sighed. She was getting used to this now. Good-looking guy. Great start to the date. A little small talk, a little flirting. And then… he asks about work and it all goes to hell. Why did she continuously DO this? She tried to keep it simple, but then they always brought up the deep space thing and she just couldn't help herself. The wormholes were just so damn fascinating. And it was still fun to theorize even though she couldn't tell them she'd actually been through a wormhole and, in fact, traveled through them on a regular basis. It's not like she knew everything there was to know about wormhole physics... yet. This particular man had lost interest earlier than the rest. Half way through the appetizer, he'd looked ready to bolt, and she hadn't even begun to use words like 'negative mass' and 'probability calculation'.
Well, shit. She'd really been hopeful about this guy. He was a university professor. Very intelligent. Of course, like Janet always said, "just because a man is intelligent doesn't mean he wants a smart girl."
The waiter set a lavish chocolate dessert for two on the table in front of her and then refilled her water glass. She thanked him with a smile and glanced around for her wayward date.
She saw him off in a distant corner on the telephone.
She rolled her eyes. Another one who couldn't simply tell her he wasn't interested. Now he'd come back with some excuse as to why he had to leave. Or maybe he was telling his buddy she was a dyke. She'd heard that one a lot at the Academy.
Her date came back, all smiles. "I'm back!"
She raised her brows.
Just as he pulled out the chair to sit again, there was a sudden and shrill beeping. He gave an overdramatic gasp of surprise and yanked the beeper off his belt. "Oh damn. It's the university. Well, I'm sorry, I really have to go." He beamed brilliantly at her.
Sam leaned back in her chair and pressed her lips together in a forced smile. "Gee. That's too bad."
"Yeah. So, maybe another time, ok?"
She was just about to nod and watch him flee when her stubborn streak kicked in. Fuck him. If he couldn't be truthful, why shouldn't she have a little fun?
He faltered and hesitated. "Um, huh?"
"When? I'm free this Friday."
"Oh, uh… actually, I have a lot of grading to do, but… "
"Oh, ok! Saturday then? I'm free all weekend! I haven't even told you my theory on Quantum Chromodynamics."
He stared at her. She noted with a little too much glee that he was starting to sweat.
"I'm busy." He stated.
"Oh. All weekend?"
"Yes. Actually… I'm busy every weekend."
"Oh." She put on a crestfallen face, but it was hard not to laugh.
"Sorry." He made a break for the door, and Sam watched him. She realized he'd left her with the check.
"The bastard…" She muttered, and then figured he'd probably decided a free meal was his reward for sitting through a date with her.
She looked up. A well-dressed and very smug looking man stood in front of her. "Um, hello." She eyed him suspiciously.
"Hello. I couldn't help but notice that your date left you sitting here all alone. I was wondering if…"
"Negative-energy string loops." Sam said.
The man blinked at her. "I'm… sorry…" He began backing away.
"Eigenvector!" She called after him. He turned and went into full retreat.
Sam stared down at the chocolate dessert.
"Quark." She muttered sullenly and jabbed her finger into the rich chocolate frosting.
"It's just that I don't even realize I'm doing it until it's too late." Sam sighed.
"Carter, you've really got to stop feeling sorry for yourself." Jack shoveled another forkful of pie into his mouth.
Sam took a moment to imagine pulling a spoonful of mashed potatoes back like a mini-catapult and letting it shoot forward and smack wetly between his eyes. In her mind it splattered over his forehead while he stared, wide-eyed and mournfully at her.
"What?" Jack was staring suspiciously at her as she was wrenched back to reality.
She realized she was smiling.
"Nothin', sir." She insisted, struggling to contain the grin.
He eyed her carefully and then went back to his pie. "It's just the price we pay for being part of a top-secret government program."
"Yes sir." Sam stirred her mashed potatoes. She drew a frowney face in them.
"Major Carter. Will you be joining us for golf this Saturday?"
Sam looked up at Teal'c, surprised. "Golf?"
"Jack's taking us." Daniel explained, looking less than thrilled.
She looked at Jack. He shrugged. "Well, neither of them seems to understand the true bliss of fishing, so…"
"Oh, well, I suppose I could…"
Jack shook his head. "Uh uh, Carter. Guys only."
"I'm one of the guys, aren't I?"
"Sure. On missions. But not when we do… guy things. Like golf. Besides, you'd go all crazy and start calculating velocity of the ball and arcs and trajectories… " He waved a hand in the air to punctuate his points. "And then I'd have to kill you and obviously that'd lead to the end of the world when you aren't here to save our asses from the Goa'uld."
Sam stared at him. "I wouldn't do that."
"Well, I'd do it my head anyway. I wouldn't do it out loud ."
"Sam, why would you even want to go? You know how Jack will get." Daniel gave her a confused look. He ignored the icy glare from Jack's side of the table.
"I… don't know." She stabbed at her potatoes. Never one of the guys. Not really. I can sleep beside them at night, bleed with them during the day, and do everything in between, but… I'm still not a part of them.
"Don't you have that girlie cooking party thing on Saturday anyway? I heard Peterson saying his wife had invited you."
"She invited all the women from the SGC."
"So." Jack raised one brow. "Go have fun. You never do anything girlie."
She imagined catapulting the potatoes at him again. "I do plenty of girlie things, sir. And girls play golf too you know."
"We have our foursome already, Carter. Go have fun."
Sam pushed her plate of food away and pulled her cup of blue Jell-O in front of her. Around her, the boys talked about 'par' and 'strokes' and explained to Teal'c what a 'hazard' was when he expressed concern about being caught in a sand trap as if it were a giant pit of quicksand set out to capture unsuspecting golfers. The image made her smile a bit, until she looked around the table.
They were all eating Jell-O out of the long dessert glasses. She had her usual, the blue raspberry vivid and bright. The boys all had red Jell-O. She looked beyond them to the other tables. Every single person in her line of vision had red Jell-O. She glanced up at the dessert case along the food line. There sat the other glasses of blue.
She knew that if she turned the other direction and looked at the other half of the cafeteria, there'd be more red Jell-O. She was the only blue. She stared down at her cup. She was always the only blue. Surrounded by a sea of red.
"Major Carter." The deep voice was soft, concerned. "Are you all right?"
She glanced up at Teal'c. Their eyes met and she knew she hadn't been able to hide her despair. She wanted to just tell him that she was fine, but now she hadn't said anything in practically hours and it was too long now and there was no way to just say she was fine and make it believable.
Jack and Daniel had stopped talking and were looking at her worriedly now.
"Carter?" Jack's voice brought her around. She stared at him, opened her mouth to tell him she was fine.
"I'm the blue Jell-O!" She blurted.
Jack blinked, seemed undecided in how to process this. "Are you now?" He opted for humor. Big surprise.
"Um, OK?" Daniel looked more worried now.
"Sorry." Sam looked away from them. "I think I'm a little tired."
"So this total bitch practically pushes Tommy out the way and then just screams at the referee that her son was fouled! I mean, for god's sake, it's just a soccer game!"
There was chorus of clucks and head shaking.
Sam absently stirred her coffee and stared at the tabletop. With the cookware pimping part of the party over, there was nothing to but socialize and be friendly. So she sat quietly and stared at the pastel colored mints in their little dish in the middle of the table. Why was it always the same mints at these parties? She wasn't even sure where you bought them. It wasn't like you could find them on the candy shelf at the grocery store. They weren't even that good. It was just some weird ritual that women had to have these mints at parties and weddings. She supposed if she was really one of the girls, she'd know where to buy them at least.
"So, Sam…" The hostess was at least trying to include everyone. "Are you married or seeing someone?"
"Um, no. I was engaged once."
The women all nodded their heads thoughtfully. It was a little weird the way they all acted as one entity. She wondered if they were actually part of some giant hive mind based in Colorado Springs. Hive mind? Jesus... I really have to get out more.
"It didn't work out?" One of them pressed.
Sam hesitated, wondering briefly what she should say. Hm? Oh no. Didn't work out at all! Well, we actually worked together for a time, but then he got controlling and I broke it off. Oh, and interesting epilogue to this... he went stark raving mad and got a messianic complex a mile wide. He took over this planet see, and made all the people his followers under penalty of death! Then we came in and well, I was young then and couldn't shoot him point blank, so he took me hostage and almost killed me, but we ended up killing him and freeing the people.
"No. He wanted a wife, I wanted a career." She opted for the abbreviated version.
"Well, then you're single and living it up, right?" One of the women tried to be friendly. "You probably have this wonderfully exciting dating life."
Sam nearly snorted, but managed to rein it in. OH, you have NO idea! I met this alien guy who liked to dress in silver, looked like a big roll of aluminum foil, and HE actually was quite nice and very smart too, but I gave him my cat and things got weird and he eventually died. Of course, then there was Martouf, who was cute really, but had a snake in his gut like the Goa'uld, although so did I for a while. And our snakes were in love with each other so we kind of had 'feelings'. I never actually DID anything with him though, which is just as well since I had to kill him later on when he was a Za'tarc. And then there's this whole weird thing with the Colonel that I'm just not even getting into right now because I have no idea what's going on there. But you know, I'm fine and everything. I'm sure I'll have no lasting issues with men to deal with. Haha.
"Yeah, well... " Sam managed a forced smile. "It's just one guy after another."
The women laughed.
"What is it you do again?"
Sam sighed. "Deep Space Radar Telemetry."
The women all 'oooh'd' and 'aaah'd'. Most of them looked confused. A few knew what she really did, but not all of them.
"I study and measure data being sent to and from space. It's quite useful for mapping the solar system and keeping in touch with various satellites."
"Ahhh." The women were nodding now as one, all of them with feigned interest on their faces. "How nice!"
"Yes. In fact, measuring the radio waves and the differences therein can bring us valuable data on—" She dropped off as eyes began to glaze over. "It's really cool."
She got another round of nods followed by a short silence where they all looked at each other.
"So did you see that Sheila traded in that old mini-van and bought a Mustang?"
"No!" The chattering began in earnest again.
Sam sank deeper into her chair. The day was descending into twilight and the light in the windows was gaining an orange-ish hue. She wondered where the guys were right then. She wondered if they were thinking of her at all. She wished suddenly that they were off-world around the campfire; her and Daniel excitedly trading ideas on the finds of the day, Jack rolling his eyes and pulling the MRE's together, Teal'c walking the perimeter on guard duty and smiling occasionally back at them.
As the women surrounded her with their din of gossip, she could look straight out the kitchen window and see Polaris in the darkening sky. She wondered if there was a world out there where everyone knew about neutrinos and subatomic structure and everyone always chose the blue jello.
She liked to think so.
"Daniel, do you think I'm perfect?" Sam leaned against his table and watched as he scraped carefully at a lump of rock.
His head came up and he gave her a look. "Is this a trick question like when you ask me if you look fat?"
"No. And I never ask you if I look fat." Sam retorted.
He gave her an assessing glance. "But you want to ask me now, don't you?"
"Are you avoiding the question? And no! I don't care if I look fat or not."
"Well, you don't."
"I don't care!" But she smiled a little bit.
"I don't think you're perfect either. You've apparently forgotten that I've ridden with you in a car before."
"How about pretentious?" She ignored the shot at her driving abilities.
His brows went up. "Who called you pretentious?"
She sighed. "Just answer the question please."
He gave an equal sigh. "No, Sam. I don't think you're pretentious. You just talk over people's heads sometimes, that's all."
"I don't do that to make people feel stupid."
"I know. Trust me, I know."
She sighed heavily. Of course he knew. If there was anyone who knew exactly what she meant, it was Daniel. But despite his lack of a social life and his rather wretched time in college, he was now One Of The Guys. Unlike her.
He was also studying her worriedly. "In fact, I could easily name ten people on base right now who are way more pretentious than you are. And I include myself on that list."
She nodded and walked toward the door. "Thanks, Daniel."
"You're not even going to disagree with that last point, are you?"
Daniel considered her a moment. "Sam?"
She turned and waited.
"You know they call us The Wonder Twins behind our backs, don't you?"
She bit her lip. "Yeah. I really kind of like that to tell you the truth."
He smiled. "Me too."
She returned the smile and stepped through his door. She hesitated after a step and then leaned back to peer through the doorway at him.
"Negative-energy string loops." She said.
He looked up at her, his face pulled into that familiar expression of confusion. He blinked at her for a moment and she watched as the confusion morphed into curiosity. "What does that mean?"
She couldn't help the smile that spread over her face. She shook her head, turning to leave. "I was just checking."
"Checking what?" He was confused again.
"That you still loved me." Her disembodied voice floated in from down the hall.
"So what, you aren't going to tell me what it means?"
"I love you, Daniel." Her voice was far away.
Daniel stared at the door and shrugged. "I love you!" He called lightly with a grin. She didn't answer, but there was shuffling noise in the hallway from the opposite direction.
"Ummm..." Walter stopped in his doorway, coffee cup in hand, eyes wide as he stared at Daniel.
Daniel blinked at him. "Oh, uh... that was... I was saying that to Sam... we uh, it's a joke-thing that we... umm... " He coughed and went back to his rock.
Walter gave an uneasy smile and walked quickly on down the hall.
"Sir, it takes complicated calculations. I can't just push a button and make it all go away."
Jack pointed his spoon at her. "Why not? Shouldn't there be a big, red Safe Button we can just push by now? Why do we have to go through all these calculations time after time?"
"You can't just wish the math away. It has to be done in its own time."
"And if we don't have the time?"
Sam felt exasperated. "Sir, I know you want to argue with me over this, but you don't understand…"
"No. I don't. Just do what you have to do and have it done when I want it done."
"Look, let me explain it again. I have to calculate the parsecs with the—"
"Carter!" Now Jack looked exasperated. "I just want a Big Button. That's it."
Sam blinked at him. He went back to eating red Jell-O.
Daniel met her gaze with a shrug and a look that clearly said, 'why are you bothering?' .
She stabbed her spoon into her blue Jell-O and stirred it around until it looked like a big glass of blue goo. She felt unreasonably angry with the Colonel for some reason. Maybe because after all these years she'd expected him to gain some understanding of the physics of gate travel. She'd thought he'd at least pick up the vocabulary instead of making her explain herself. Every. Single. Damn. Time.
"O'Neill. Daniel Jackson. Major Carter." They all looked up as Teal'c settled down beside Jack, setting his Jell-O on the table.
Daniel motioned at Teal'c's dessert glass. "What's with the blue Jell-O, Teal'c? I thought you liked the red."
Sam glanced with surprise at Teal'c's Jell-O, then looked up into the dark eyes. He was looking at her intensely and didn't break their gaze. "That is incorrect, Daniel Jackson. In fact, I feel like blue Jell-O everyday."
Sam felt a smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Me too." She said softly.
Teal'c nodded ever so slightly at her and gave her one of his broad smiles. "It is much more interesting than the red."
She felt a wave of affection for the Jaffa. "Thank you."
"Do not mention it, Major Carter." Teal'c smiled again and lifted a spoonful to his mouth.
"What the hell's up with you two?" The Colonel was almost scowling at them. Daniel was squinting, his gaze going from one to the other.
Sam shook her head and ate her blue Jell-O with a smile.
Sam's fingers flew over the keyboard. She tried to block out the shrill and ear-splitting shriek of the warning klaxons. Her heart raced in her chest, her mouth was dry and felt filled with sand. Her fingers plucked rapidly and calmly at the keyboard, each finger movement precise and calculated. Her eyes followed the cursor across the screen. She tried not to look at the countdown on the LED screen above her.
"Carter! How's it going over there?"
"Almost done, sir! Just a few minutes more."
"You have a minute and a half."
Sam didn't answer. She focused on the screen, made her fingers go faster.
"It has to be timed perfectly, sir! If I'm too early, we'll miss our window and the base will self-destruct anyway!"
"No rush, just keep working. Don't let the impending destruction of the entire world pressure you in any way."
The sounds receded around her, her vision reduced down to a tunnel with the computer screen at the end. She felt as if the keyboard were an extension of her fingers.
Clickclickclick… tab… click… ENTER.
"Done! Now, sir!"
Jack twisted his key and set his palm in the print reader at the same time. The gate closed and the countdown stopped.
Three seconds left.
There was a silence in the control room as everyone stared at the frozen countdown. Then all hell broke loose as they cheered.
Sam slowly let her breath out, feeling her stomach unclench and her vision clear. She stood and walked to the far bank of computers away from the celebration. She stared at the blinking lights and tried to get her pulse back under control.
She glanced up. The Colonel stood in front of her.
"You OK?" He asked.
"Yeah." She nodded with a smile. "Yeah, fine. Just another day at the SGC, right?"
Jack didn't answer at first, he studied her with practiced eyes. Then he smiled. "Super Sam." He said softly and affectionately. "Yeah!" He raised his fists to chest-level and pumped them triumphantly, pride in his eyes.
Sam grinned back, embarrassingly pleased with his approval. She had a thought then that maybe it wasn't so much what was being said about her around base, but who was doing the saying.
Super Sam. Hell yeah.
But she still wasn't wearing the tights.