Title: Deconstructing the General
Rating: R George curses a lot.
Synopsis: This is slightly AU. In the beginning of the series, Maj. General George Hammond was irked with Jack O'Neill when they first met. Some people believe that it was because Hammond was angry that his easy job to retirement had been shot to hell. The truth of matter is simple, really.
For thirty years, George Hammond has held onto a folded piece of yellow paper. In his own handwriting, he requested assistance for four 'Soviet Spies' and there are two dates and times listed. Now thirty years later, with the foretold General stars on his shoulder and Jack O'Neill in front of him, Major General George Hammond is wondering if the four Time Travelers were worth the personal price that George Hammond had to pay.
He really didn't mean to hit her THAT hard.
But when push came to shove, and the Al'Kesh was firing at the Gate, he had thrown Captain Samantha Carter through the gate first, and only then, after the last of his personnel was safe, had he had dived into the swirling blue wormhole. There was a sound of thunder, a flash of heat and he would have sworn that the blasts from the Al'kesh had come close enough to singe all the red hair off his legs.
He was built solid, some of the less kind might think he had gone to seed, but it mattered not whether his bulk was made of muscle, built from far too many hours weightlifting to pass the time at some god-forsaken Air Force Base out in the middle of Timbuktu, or fat, because when he tackled Samantha Carter, he and his substantial bulk hit her solid. The young female officer gracelessly slammed face down onto the ramp, even after he had attempted a twisting motion to avoid her, but all he did was manage to wrench one of his shoulders and hit her with the other. He rolled down the gate ramp, and he counted thirty seven stars, two moons and one planet with an assortment of rings circling his head at a dizzying velocity when at last he came to a complete stop.
Groaning, he put his face down on the floor, waiting for Sgt. Davis to get on the PA and request a medical team to the GateRoom.
Jesus Christ! Why the hell had he decided to go off-world?
His conscience, having decided that this fuckup was entirely his fault, reminded him in surround-sound.
"I can't send my people out there, until I experience it first-hand! Come on, Guys! Let the Ole Man play! It'll be fun!"
Now, he hadn't said THAT, though the very thought of going off-world had put a spring into his step that hadn't been there when this position had been an easy, coasting job to retirement.
And so SG-1, having no real choice, had smiled prettily, bitching under their breath that they had to babysit the Ole Man just so he could go through the Gate. O'Neill and Teal'c had assured him that they had picked a nice, quiet world, suitable for picnicking with family, friends and your CO. Yeah, perfect for picnicking, his General ass. Well, some people might prefer an Al'Kesh or two showing up during the middle of your picnic, but he'd never complain about ants again.
Instead of resting his head on the cold tile floor of the GateRoom, there was a hell of a lot of dirt pebbles and small rocks which he was spitting from his mouth combined with copious amounts of blood. He ran his tongue quickly over his teeth, making sure that they were all there and accounted for.
While he was a stickler for cleanliness, he'd be willing to nominate someone for a medal if they had slacked off cleaning the GateRoom just this once.
There was also a cold, stiff breeze, and Walter Davis's voice was not to be heard.
Nope, he heard the sounds of wind through the trees, and he sniffed carefully. Instead of the slightly mechanical smell of the GateRoom, he smelled that crisp, cold air that meant SNOW.
First snowfall of the season, probably, as the ground was cool, not cold and it wasn't snow-covered and soggy. Nope, the ground was moderately hard as his shoulder had found out first-hand or should he say first-shoulder?
All the clues pointed to the fact that something had gone terribly, terribly wrong and they hadn't ended up where they were supposed to, which was in Cheyenne Mountain. It was only a strong hypothesis at the moment rather than a confirmed fact, as he was afraid to open his eyes, because he knew that he was gonna hurl the minute sunlight hit his baby blues.
One screwed up shoulder, and a concussion and he had no idea how hurt SG1 was.
Damn it, he had gotten his Number One Team injured due to his stupid insistence on going off-world!
Ah fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. FUCK!
"Sir?" Captain Carter queried.
There was a slightest quiver in her voice, which meant she was uncertain. Whether Captain Carter was uncertain that her CO was dead and thought her career was over before it had barely begun or what, he couldn't have said.
"Captain, let me guess, we're no longer in Kansas, are we?" George Hammond questioned drolly.
"No, Sir," she agreed.
"I hope I didn't hurt you when I dove through the gate. That Al'Kesh was getting a little close to comfort. Colonel O'Neill? Doctor Jackson? Teal'c?" George called.
Ah fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. FUCK!
Captain Carter cleared her throat, and he sighed. Inwardly, as Generals never ever sighed in front of their subordinates. No, they always remained calm headed and cool, even though right now, he knew that they were in a hell of a lot of trouble.
"They're not here, are they?" George questioned. He sat up, refusing to give voice to the pain in his shoulder and after he mistakenly opened his eyes, he closed them quickly before he vomited, as everything went black and swirly on him.
"No," she answered.
"The Colonel would be mouthing off by now," George retorted. "I hope that means they got home safely, as they were in the wormhole before us. Can you dial us home, Captain?"
Again a long pause, and then George decided that he Generally needed to get his General eyes open and he better not Generally puke his General Guts up in front of Jake Carter's daughter. Generally, times like this he wished he was still a Colonel.
On a nice tropical island, where he could wear Hawaiian shirts, tell tall tales about how he was nearly an astronaut and lie to his daughters about how well the book was coming along.
"There's a problem with the DHD?" George questioned patiently, as he was all too familiar with how to pry vital information from close-mouthed Subordinates. Though this was the first time he had to do it off world with a concussion, and hopefully the last.
Good God, his ears were still ringing like he had been kicked in the face by a mule.
"Yes, Sir," the Captain whispered.
The day hadn't started off well.
The base was still mourning the death of Major Charles Kowalsky, and then Major General George Hammond had decided that nobody was going off-world until he got a chance to go off-world.
I can't send my people out there, until I experience it first-hand!
Naturally, SG1 got the honor of escorting the General.
Samantha wasn't too comfortable about how her team was gelling, and adding the CO on a sightseeing tour was not conducive to a good merge. There was Colonel Jack O'Neill, who reminded her so strongly of her father that sometimes she had to give a double glance to confirm that it was Colonel O'Neill. Then there was Doctor Daniel Jackson, who was so hell-bent on saving his wife that he was almost too reckless in that endeavor and Teal'c, who was just your usual taciturn space alien with a snake in his gut.
Three guys, one sexless snake and her.
Even Teal'c symbiote was buddy-buddy with O'Neill. Daniel and the Colonel had a prior history and Teal'c and the Colonel shared that Male Warrior bond. She was the odd geek girl out.
She'd have to prove herself over and over again until O'Neill either accepted her or learned to tolerate her which meant that even after the mission to Chulak, he was still busting her non-existent balls.
"Captain Carter!" O'Neill had greeted her cheerfully after the team had assembled for their morning debriefing and cup of coffee. "I have wonderful news, and then there's even more wonderful news."
"That's great, Sir!" She said cheerfully, perhaps too cheerfully as Daniel looked unexpectedly uneasy and Teal'c had that completely unreadable stoic expression on his face.
"I've just informed the rest of the happy campers that General Hammond will be joining us today on our class trip through the gate," O'Neill said cheerfully.
Her smile froze and lessened while O'Neill's smile got even bigger. HAMMOND?
Major General George Hammond.
Was going on a field trip.
It wasn't that she was afraid of Hammond, but simply that she hadn't figured out her CO yet.
Hammond had no problems spanking O'Neill when the occasion demanded it, and he was always watching SG-1 as though anxiously waiting for the slightest misstep to nail their collective asses to the wall. Straight laced, straight-shooter, hardass, perfectionist, aloof, old-school were a few of the General descriptions circulating throughout the SGC about their General.
Hammond had talked to her one on one briefly, warning her that her reproductive organs could be on top of her head and waving at him, but she'd sink or swim on her own merits. He wouldn't disparage her because she was a woman, wouldn't cut her any slack because of how many stars her father had, but that being said, she better be one hell of a good officer or else he'd be on her like white on rice.
Yet, there were two pictures of his grandchildren in his office. Rumors even had it that he called them every day at the same time in the afternoon just when they had gotten home from school to find out how their day went.
"And the good news doesn't stop just yet! You're going to keep an eye on him, Captain and you'll guarantee the General doesn't get into any trouble," Colonel O'Neill explained. "You'll be his personal tour guide on his three hour cruise to the Great Out There!"
Colonel O'Neill waved his arm dramatically and gave her a smirk so reminiscent of her father that she almost instinctively called him, "Dad".
"Me, Sir?" She couldn't help but ask.
"Yes, Carter! You get the job because you are our resident expert on dealing with two star Generals!" O'Neill explained glibly before he stormed out of the room.
She sighed in defeat, and Daniel walked over to her.
"He's not happy," Daniel explained unnecessarily.
"O'Neill is most displeased regarding babysitting "The Man"," Teal'c inserted in his deep, solemn voice. "I fail to comprehend O'Neill's comment."
"Jack is just… uncertain…about the wisdom of taking the General off world," Daniel explained, trying to defend O'Neill's lack of enthusiasm. "What was that little comment he made about you being our expert on dealing with two star Generals?"
"My father's one," Samantha explained regretfully. After all these years in the USAF, she knew better than to ever mention her dad's rank, but people still knew.
"Oh," Daniel stated quietly. "Does he know…George?"
"I haven't asked," she admitted slowly, wishing Daniel would just drop the subject.
"You haven't asked your father for any dirt on our new boss?" Daniel teased.
"My father and I don't really talk, plus… I'm pretty sure his security clearance doesn't cover…" She paused, made a face and then gestured. "All this…"
Jack's day had started off pretty bad. He was in George Hammond's office, and they were discussing various aspects of StarGate Command. Then George dropped the proverbial A-bomb on him.
"For your assignment today, request Teal'c give you the coordinates for a planet that is relatively uninhabited. I'll be joining SG1 today as I can't start sending people through that ring unless I've been through it. I want and need to experience Gate Travel first hand."
"Beg pardon, Sir?" Jack questioned.
"For today, SG1 will have a fifth team member, that being me."
George's blue eyes narrowed slightly and Jack knew that his reaction or more importantly, his lack of it was being measured, analyzed and quantified by his superior officer and that his lack of enthusiasm was earning him a surfeit of points in Hammond's Little Hit List.
"That'll be… swell…" Jack said, with perhaps too much smarm, as George's eyes narrowed still further and Jack could literally hear the points being added to his tally. For good measure, Jack threw in a heart-felt, "Sir!"
Daniel Jackson stood on the ramp, ever so glad that he wasn't Samantha Carter. The Captain was standing on the ramp next to General Hammond, and the General looked surprisingly at ease in his fatigues and his tactical vest. Up until now, Daniel had only seen the General in a suit and tie and thought of him as merely a paper-pusher. Hammond had also checked out his P-90 with the ease of someone long familiar with the deadly weapon.
The gate had opened, the kawoosh (for lack of a better word) had occurred and Samantha Carter had been busy explaining something to General Hammond, no doubt about the physics involved with the wormhole, when Hammond had interrupted her with a curt, "I've read your reports, Captain. You don't need to repeat them verbatim to me."
"No, Sir, I didn't…" Samantha apologized before Hammond shut her up.
"So, you're my babysitter?" Hammond questioned.
"Beg your pardon, sir?" Samantha looked uneasy and Daniel tried to think of something, anything to say in order to help her out.
"You know, low person on the totem pole gets to entertain the Old Man. By that I mean, you get to keep me out of trouble, while ensuring that I don't learn too much, so not to cramp O'Neill's style." Hammond said dryly.
For a wonder, Hammond turned to Jack O'Neill and gave him a challenging look.
"Now, Sir, would I do that?" Jack O'Neill questioned in a very innocent voice.
Daniel winced as Hammond's blue eyes narrowed slightly. Jack's smile faded.
You shouldn't have said that, Jack. He's not amused. This is going to be a long three hour cruise. The Skipper isn't happy with Gilligan and our Maryanne. Since I'm the Professor does that makes Teal'c, Thurston Howell the Third?
"Colonel, while this is my first trip through the Gate, it ain't my first BBQ," Hammond drawled before stepping first into the wormhole.
Jack made a futile gesture of exasperated annoyance, motioned for Teal'c to hurry up and get into the wormhole to protect the General and then he jumped in after the General. Teal'c followed quickly and that left Daniel and Samantha standing on the gateramp. He waited for Samantha, but the dejected looking Captain wasn't moving.
"What's the problem?" Daniel questioned.
"He must be friends with my father," Sam moaned.
"If he is, it can't be that bad, Sam," Daniel insisted.
"You have no idea, Daniel," she mumbled. "You have absolutely no idea."
When Hammond had first seen the pictures of the supposedly deceased Daniel Jackson, he had felt someone walk over his grave. Ok, that was a lie. It felt like an entire mariachi band had tangoed over his grave and then started playing a free concert.
What was supposed to be an easy tour, an easy coast into retirement had gone completely and utterly to hell. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
Oh God, he thought, as he took out a neatly folded piece of yellow paper and stared at it
It's happening. You'd thought that since you were just about to retire, you weren't fated to meet those four time travelers after all, yet you had kept those dates and times with you all these years, just so you'd have them.
Just in case.
Jack O'Neill is being collected even as we speak, Jake's daughter, CAPTAIN SAMANTHA CARTER is on her way here from the Pentagon. Daniel Jackson can't be dead, as I've yet to meet him.
Plus there's that fourth Time Traveler.
Whoever he is; that large black man with the golden skin, tattooed with the gold mark of Apophis on his face. I had drawn that tattoo, and then hidden the drawing, hoping to one day to find what it meant, what it represented. Imagine my surprise when I was in a museum in Egypt, and I saw the mark of the snake god.
There are no Egyptians in this compound. I checked half-heartedly, thinking that I had managed to fool Fate.
But I haven't.
When Teal'c had arrived on the ramp in the SGC along with a multitude of cast offs from Chulak, George Hammond knew then and there that he was doomed to complete the fated circle as his destiny was walking towards him.
I will send these people into the past and hope that they return. If they do not return, it will be no one's fault but mine. For I will wish them good luck and god speed, sending them backwards in time, and give them but two dates on a yellow sheet of paper to help them get home.
A slender thing to gamble their lives upon.
I pray to God that's enough.
George knew that he dared not to become too familiar with them in case he let something slip, but still, he wanted a chance to know this team of four disparate souls who had so profoundly affected his life thirty years ago. Throughout the years, the gang of four had always been in his mind, as the knowledge that he was working toward a specific goal affected every decision he made. He might have left the USAF years ago, except for his destiny.
"General Hammond. I like the sound of that."
He simply wanted to know…
Were they worth it?
When his wife had gotten ill with cancer, George had the picture perfect opportunity to retire, but he hadn't, acknowledging only to himself that he could not retire as his long-foreseen, cosmically destined meeting with Samantha Carter had yet to take place. She was only a young 2nd Lieutenant at the time, and George had known that he had quite a few more years ahead of him before she made Captain.
But damn it, when he was shoveling that first bit of Texas dirt onto Maggie's coffin, how he had reviled that group of four, for all that they represented and what they had done and would do, but first and foremost, for denying him a few more precious moments with his wife.
When everyone asked him why he hadn't retired after Maggie's death, he lied, and told them that he still needed a few more ending chapters in that damn book that he would never, ever be able to write. He couldn't write as he was haunted by his last vision of Maggie lying so damn still and so damn cold in their bed, no more than skin and bones, and all he had done while he wept and held her lifeless body was curse his grand, cosmically, chronologically induced destiny.
Oh God, how he hated those four unknown people for giving him just enough knowledge to twist the knife in his heart.
Maggie and he couldn't spend her last days together in peace, as the damn base was always calling him about something or another. He had just wanted her few final weeks to be perfect, without the constant reminder of what the Air Force had required of her all those many years, yet the phone rang and rang and rang.
They never had a real home, as they were always on the move, every two or three years like clockwork. She'd get comfortable and make new friends, and then he'd come home with his next great assignment which required them to move to some godforsaken place like Elmendorf Air Base in Alaska. George had taken those damn assignments because he had his grand destiny to fulfill. He had to be there when those four people met up, and he had to be their CO.
All those years, without complaint, Maggie had packed up everything and moved with him.
But his last assignment, he moved alone and he finally bought the damn house he had promised Maggie all those years ago.
And now face to face with those four souls, George realized that he hated them.
It wasn't their fault, he knew that rationally. But until he could stop seeing them as the four people that had kept him bucking toward the General's stars and to hell with his family, he couldn't defuse his anger.
The best way to get to know the Time Traveling Foursome was to see them in action, which is why when that damn gate opened and Captain Carter began rattling off assorted physics formulas about what he was seeing, he shut her up, told O'Neill he didn't appreciate being babysat and while the slightly younger man was trying unsuccessfully to deny that's what was happening, George then walked first into that great unknown.
Time to face that great unknown, George, that destiny that's been guiding you all these years, and maybe, just maybe Maggie will finally stop haunting you and you can remember her without that agonizing pain.
I should have retired.
To hell with destiny.
She was the anchor of my soul, she deserved better.
And these people better be worth it.