This story was written strictly for the purpose of entertainment. No attempt has been made to copyright any characters which may not have been originally created by the author, and no profit is made from this work of fiction. Any original characters and the stories themselves are the property of the author.
Chief Master Sgt. Walter Harriman watched unobtrusively as Dr. Daniel Jackson leaned over Colonel Carter's shoulder to peer at the image she was indicating on the monitor. "Put on your glasses, Dr. Jackson," Walter silently urged him. The man clearly needed corrective lenses, but seemed to forget the fact a good half of the time.
Colonel Carter was very excited about whatever it was she was showing Dr. Jackson. Walter didn't attempt to follow her words. He was more interested in watching Dr. Jackson's body language. Walter noted the way he touched Colonel Carter's shoulder for just the briefest moment and caught the quick, sideways look Dr. Jackson gave Dr. Carter. It amazed him that no one else seemed to have picked up on Dr. Jackson's feelings, but, then, it didn't affect the scores for any of the football games for which there was currently a pool or anything else really important to his coworkers.
Colonel Carter was certainly clueless. His contacts in the excellent gossip network among senior noncoms like himself had told him weeks ago that there was something going on between Colonel Carter and General O'Neill in DC. Her eyes were so full of Jack O'Neill she couldn't see Daniel Jackson, he supposed. If her latest hair style was any indication, Samantha Carter wasn't in touch with herself in any case.
Colonel Carter pushed her chair back and gave her place to Dr. Jackson whose fingers now flew over the keyboard. Did he imagine that she was leaning a little closer to her colleague than necessary? Could the hindbrain be noticing Dr. Jackson while the forebrain was oblivious? He remembered running into the blonde officer in a 7-11 a few months before. Carter had been wearing black leather and looking rather poured into the outfit. She also seemed to have upped the amount of make up in the past couple of years. Was there a girl yearning to break free of her military persona? Was that going to happen with O'Neill, the man of the all purpose single expression who had driven his feelings so far underground that trolls couldn't find them? She definitely was leaning into Jackson and Walter imagined that the scent of her so close to him must be making the archeologist a little crazy.
Walter weighed the two men in his mind. It was an apples and oranges comparison or, perhaps, he needed a more dramatic difference in his fruits, say between watermelons and kumquats. He respected both of them enormously, but, other than a shared common decency, it was for very different reasons. Each had more than their share of annoying habits when you had to work with them – differing as did their strengths, but equally exasperating at times.
Dr. Jackson tilted his head back and looked up at Colonel Carter. Walter saw their blue eyes meet in a moment of shared mutual brilliance. They had an answer to a tough problem once again and Walter lamented the loss of the child they were unlikely to get an opportunity to produce. The kid would undoubtedly have what it took to cure cancer or AIDS or at least figure out how to give all microwave ovens a common and comprehensible interface.
He thought with regret of General Jacob Carter. Years before, while serving briefly under Carter's command, Walter had made an error in judgment that could have been a tremendous career setback, but General Carter had seen Walter's value and essentially made it go away. He owed the late General a debt he had never been able to repay. Now he asked himself, "What would Jacob Carter's choice be for his daughter? Would he think Jack O'Neill a very fine man but so wrong for his daughter he would have had to intervene?" The more he thought about it, the clearer it became to him.
The decision to do something did not automatically produce a plan or even a plot bunny for the love story he was hoping to write. He started praying for a miracle. A week later he was checking on something in the infirmary for General Landry and overheard the tail end of a conversation between Dr. Lam and Colonel Carter. "I can't find a good physical reason for your symptoms, Colonel. We've not known each other for very long but…" The doctor's voice trailed off as she appeared to search for words. "Well, let me just be blunt. If you've gotten yourself in a personal situation that isn't right for you but you're not admitting it to yourself, it could be manifesting through physical problems. I can't help but notice that you've cancelled two trips to Washington in the past two weeks because you felt so ill immediately before hand."
Colonel Carter's response fairly bristled with defensiveness. "I have no idea what sort of gossip you've been listening to Dr. Lam, but it sounds to me like you've moved out of your specialty and into Dr. Ruth's territory."
His eavesdropping confirmed his decision and still left him with only the pray for a miracle option. Colonel Carter finally sparked an idea one weekend when both of them were on the base, even though they weren't on the duty roster. "I'm surprised Dr. Jackson isn't here with you," Walter had commented. "Is he seeing someone perhaps?"
Colonel Carter snorted. "The only women Daniel attracts are aliens or women with some sort of an alien connection."
Walter was surprised by her candor and by her blinders as far as the interested looks Daniel Jackson routinely collected from half the women on the base. He couldn't help but think, "Women with alien connections would include you as a former symbiote host, wouldn't it?" He wondered if she had been talking more to herself than to him.
That evening, he sat in a MacDonald's with Dr. Lola Duarte, and watched Lola's little girl shriek happily on the mini-playground. He and Lola had reached the point where they shared everything but classified information for which one of them didn't have the need to know. Ever since the evening he had chanced across her on his way home with a flat tire, they had been spending more and more time together. It wasn't dating. How could it be? Walter knew he was a noncom with an associate's degree, sliding into middle age, and she was a brilliant Ph.D. linguist who looked more like Miss January than the mother of a five year old.
"Walter, I think she'd be really jealous if Dr. Jackson ever got involved with a regular Tauri woman. Might make her sit up and wonder what she's missing."
"Like that could be arranged." He hastened to back pedal. "I didn't mean that isn't a good idea. I just don't know how we arrange it. Dr. Jackson would never cooperate with staging a pretend romance to make her jealous."
"He is quite the idealist, isn't he?"
They sat in companionable silence for several minutes, waving at Lupe as she yelled, "Look at me, mama, Sergeant Walter."
Suddenly, she offered. "Start a rumor that he's involved with me. You're the only one I'm seeing and you'll know the truth so it won't make problems for me. I can do some things to throw fuel on the fire."
He gaped at her. She was "seeing him?" Why was he the last to know? "Are you completely sure?" he finally succeeded in asking. Receiving her consent, he planted the rumor so that it would never be traced back to him and sat back and watched her fan the flames. He did make one further contribution to the campaign. One day, Colonel Carter asked, trying to sound casual, "General Landry talks with General O'Neill frequently, doesn't he?"
Walter jumped into that opening, despite the fact that it was a barely credible segue. "Of course. General O'Neill and he go way back. The O'Neill's and the Landry's were good friends as couples for years. The way General O'Neill still misses his wife…" Walter cut himself off and tried to look embarrassed. "I had no business sharing that sort of personal information. Please forgive me, Ma'am."
"He's one of my best friends on the planet," she said. "Please help me to understand him."
"Against my better judgment and you have to promise NEVER to tell General O'Neill I told you this," he said. It took tremendous force of will to go slowly this close to the kill. "It's just that General O'Neill spent a lot of time in his office, well, thinking. There was no visible output so I imagine that was what it was. I walked in on him several times staring at a picture of his ex-wife." Walter added to himself, "Who was pictured with his son," but he didn't provide that helpful hint for Colonel Carter who looked quite struck by his comment.
Two weeks later, he noticed Colonel Carter watching Dr. Jackson with a very jaundiced eye as he went over some translations with Lola. Lola left, throwing a wink to Walter, and he went about making himself very inconspicuous as the only other person left in the room with the two scientists.
"Really, Daniel," Sam hissed. She probably thought she was whispering but he could hear her plainly.
"Stuff your tongue back in your mouth." Dr. Jackson dropped his pencil at that comment and gave her his patented open mouthed fish stare. Walter wished he could get away with an expression like that the way Dr. Jackson could. It must be the big blue eyes.
Daniel swallowed audibly. "I wasn't really looking at you that way, Sam," the poor man whispered, digging the hole deeper in his ignorance. Walter was pretty sure that although Dr. Jackson probably had better control than to be looking at her that way, he umdoubtedly thought about her in various salacious ways quite frequently. Hell, Walter undressed Lola mentally multiple times a day. Why should Dr. Jackson be any better?
"And why the hell not?" she whispered, sounding very huffy.
"You …. You want me to look at you unprofessionally?"
"Is there something about me that turns you off?" He was back to the fish look. "Oh, honestly. Come with me, Daniel. I think we need a more private venue."
Walter gave them five minutes and then he went to Dr. Jackson's lab. He couldn't help himself and rationalized it that he needed good intelligence to continue his covert operations. It had a lot of storage shelves at the back, unlike Colonel Carter's which was a more open room. He was betting it was Jackson's lab that had the prize behind door number 1. The door was shut but not locked and he opened it very quietly to find darkness. At first he thought he had been wrong. Suddenly he heard something jostle the shelves, then a piece of pottery, or something similar, crash to the floor, and muffled cursing, probably in some ancient language. It surely wasn't English.
Walter smiled broadly and quietly closed the door. He went straight to Lola's office. She looked up as he entered. "Sgt,. how can I help you?" she asked. At least those were her words, but her tone of voice and the expression in her lovely eyes was something more akin to "Hello handsome."
Walter shut the door behind him, walked across the room, and leaned over to say, very quietly, "Thanks! I think you did it. Carter and Jackson are horsing around in his lab. I am almost positive."
Her mouth was only inches from his own and suddenly Sgt. Walter Harriman, the complete soldier, came unglued and leaned even further to kiss her, to hell with appropriate behavior in uniform. "At last," she said, after it ended. "I thought I was going to have to draw you a diagram."
Three weeks later, Walter got a card from Daniel Jackson. He saved it to open until he sat cozily with Lola in an overstuffed chair in front of her fireplace. Inside, they found three tickets to the Ice Capades and a note. "I figured out exactly what you and your lovely girlfriend did on my behalf. You have my gratitude forever. Count on me anytime."
"I suggest we call in the marker when we need a babysitter for our first anniversary," Lola said throatily and there was no more discussion of Daniel Jackson or anything else for quite awhile.