Title: Convolutions

Author: Maggie Eaton

Summary: A few months into their marriage, Jack and Sam are facing rough times.

Classifications: Angst, Romance

Spoilers: Minor Season 9

Archive: Special Thanks to the creators and writers of Stargate/Stargate SG1 for lending me their wonderful characters to play in my enjoyable but profitless imagination. I'll be returning them shortly.

Notes: Response to ATST Challenge 11, using the words 'He shone above them as an angel' and/or the word 'Separation'.

1. Drifting

Jack was sitting on the small balcony of his Washington apartment. It was late afternoon and the chill was keeping his Guinness cold. The day was dreary around him and he was angry. Brooding. Sam hadn't been here in weeks and even worse; she didn't seem to miss him anymore. She was too busy going through the gate to God knows where and doing God knows what with Mitchell. Oh, he had the reports. He'd read them all. That didn't stop the pangs of jealousy that were gripping his heart like a vice. They were drifting apart and he didn't know how to stop it.

He closed his eyes and her image appeared instantly. She was smiling and running towards him, anxious to be with him again. How long ago had that been? He'd picked her up at the airport and swung her in circles with his strong arms. He could hear her laughter, feel her breath on his neck...the winds of happiness surrounding them. He'd even noticed the smiles of passersby as they laughed and kissed, obviously thrilled to see each other again.

And then they had the argument.

It started as a simple conversation, but it blew out of proportion quickly, swirling around them like a tornado, wild and out of control. He didn't want her to give up the Stargate, just ease off a bit. Take some downtime, relax, and maybe even take a vacation with him. She understood. She wanted that, too, but it was difficult and he wasn't cutting her orders anymore. She warned him not to interfere. She wouldn't have the people at the SGC think she was getting favors from him. He took that to be the "General's daughter" conditioned response kicking in and backed off. They had discussed all of this before. All he wanted was to protect her, to keep her safe and alive, to spend the rest of their lives together. But she was adamant. No interference. And he had reluctantly agreed just like he always did, giving her what she wanted, never telling her how much he needed her there with him.

He glanced at his watch. It was 7:00 pm. She was probably still in her lab, head bent over some alien technology. He stood and went inside the apartment, picked up the phone on the desk and dialed the SGC.

"This is General O'Neill, is Colonel Carter on base?"

"Let me check, Sir." There was a dead silence as the call went on hold while they checked the roster. "The Colonel is not available at this time, Sir. Could someone else help you?"

"What about Landry?"

"He just left for the day, Sir."

"Give me the officer in charge then."

"Yes, Sir."

More silence as the call was transferred.

"Colonel Davis."

"Davis, this is O'Neill. Where's SG1?"

"General! They're on a mission, Sir. Scheduled to return in a couple of hours."

Jack glanced at his watch again, a hint of disappointment spreading across his face.

"Anything I can help with, Sir?"

"No, no. Just checking in on the kids. Everything going ok?"

"Yes, Sir. No indication of any problems. Standard meet and greet."

"Until all hell breaks loose." Jack's stated flatly, speaking with the voice of experience.

"Yes, Sir, but we don't expect any trouble, all's fine for now. Should I call you when they return?"

"No, don't bother. Thanks, Davis."

He waited for the final response and replaced the phone in its cradle, tapping it with his fingers for a few seconds before moving away, accenting the growing pain in his soul.

oOo

Hours later SG1 stepped onto the ramp and headed for the infirmary for their medicals. Colonel Davis caught up with Sam and fell in step beside her.

"So, no problems, Colonel?"

"Nope. Just as expected. Rather boring, I'm afraid. Daniel made some progress with the locals though. He and Mitchell will fill you in."

"That's good. Any mission without problems is a good mission."

"Yeah." Sam chuckled. "Better than coming back on a gurney!"

"Uh, Colonel. General O'Neill called in a few hours ago."

"For me?"

"Well, he was asking about SG1."

"Did he leave a message?"

"No. I told him you were scheduled to return in a few hours."

"Ok. Thanks, Davis."

She kept on walking as Davis stopped and watched the team walk away. The connection between them was missing; there was no banter, no laughter. SG1 had changed. They were silent and somber now, no resemblance to the SG1 O'Neill had commanded. He felt a pang of remorse as he watched them walk away. They all missed the old SG1, full of life and mischief but there in a flash if your ass needed saving. It just wasn't the same without O'Neill.

Daniel hurried his steps until he was beside Sam and then he matched her pace, staying beside her as they walked.

"Everything ok, Sam."

She turned a confused look on him. "Fine, Daniel. Why do you ask?"

"No reason. Just seemed a bit cool back there."

"I guess I don't like the General checking up on me."

"He cares about you, Sam. That's all."

"Right." She stepped up her pace and moved away from him, continuing on to the infirmary without another word.

oOo

Her phone was ringing when she walked in the door of her house and she hurried to pick it up.

"Carter."

"Hey, gorgeous!"

"Hi, Jack."

"Just getting home?"

"Yeah. Just walking in the door actually. Everything ok?"

"I guess. I just…miss you."

"I know. I'm sorry, but it's been really busy here and even if I were there, you'd be at work."

"Things have settled a bit now. I'm getting home earlier."

"That's good. You need the rest."

"I rest better when you're here."

"Jack…."

"When are you coming back, Sam? Any idea?"

"Not really. We're going out about three times a week and with the technology being brought back by the other teams…."

"Other teams? What about SG1?"

"We aren't really doing much exploring. We seem to be assigned to lots of diplomatic missions lately."

Jack chose to ignore the slight accusation he heard in her voice.

"So, you're bored?"

"Restless, maybe. Davis said you called. Checking up on me?"

"What? No. I just wanted to talk to you. Is everything ok?"

"Jack, you aren't influencing SG1's orders are you?"

"Sam. I told you I wouldn't and I haven't."

"It just seems…"

"Want me to talk to Landry?"

"No, I can do that for myself. And besides, he talks to Mitchell, not me."

Jack was silent as he digested the twang of bitterness in her voice.

"Mitchell?"

"Well, he's in charge of SG1, Jack. You appointed him, you should know that."

"Sam, you weren't there. You were at 51 at the time! And then with me, here."

"It was my team, Jack. My command."

Jack felt his knees weaken and the floor seemed to ripple beneath him. There it was. She blamed him for losing command of SG1. And she was right, he had assigned Mitchell the command but only because she wasn't there.

"Sam you must know how much confidence I have in you. I would never…"

"How would I know that, Jack?"

"Sam! Don't be ridiculous! You know how much I trust you! You wanted R&D."

"I know you love me, Jack, but I'm not sure how you feel about me as commander of an SG unit."

Jack shook his head in disbelief. He was being blind-sided by this. He hadn't expected it, although maybe he should have. Sam had had to fight her way up through the military ranks, battling her gender as well as the normal standards and in her eyes; he'd taken away her first real command. He started pacing as he tried to reassure her.

"Sam. How can you not know that? I trust you with my life and anyone else's. In the field or elsewhere. You've already proven yourself to be a worthy commander, time and time again. You've got the experience, the intellect…"

"But not SG1." She interrupted.

"Sam!" Frustration was spilling liberally into his voice now even though he was trying to control it.

"Well, if you trust me and respect me as an officer then I guess it's my own fault. I should never have gone to Area 51. Maybe I shouldn't have gone to Washington, either."

That hurt. Jack felt his chest clinch, he was losing her and he could feel panic rising in his throat. He hadn't waited eight years to lose her after just a few months. His mind was racing furiously trying to find the right words to assure her, to bring her back to him. He wanted to hold her, to pull her into his arms and kiss her senseless, to make her understand. But she was in Colorado and he was in Washington.

"Sam, I'm coming home. I'll be there tomorrow."

"No, Jack. You can't just walk out on your job and you know it."

"Some things are more important than the job, Sam. You're more important. I love you and whatever this thing is, whatever's wrong, I want to fix it."

"Not now, Jack. Please, just give me more time."

"Sam! No…"

"Please, Jack?"

There was a long silence as he stared at the blank wall in front of him, picturing her in his troubled mind. Then he let out a sigh, threw up his hands and against his better judgment, gave in. He would stay in Washington and she would stay in Colorado.

"Ok, baby, whatever you say. But I'm coming soon, I promise."

"Ok, Jack and thank you. Goodnight."

"I love you, Sam. I love you so much."

The phone clicked in his ear and he felt tears threatening to well up in his eyes. His heart was breaking, slowly, painfully shattering into a million pieces and all because of Mitchell.

Three weeks later he was again sitting on his balcony, thinking about Sam and how they had drifted apart. He called her everyday but it hadn't seemed to help. He couldn't seem to get out of Washington but he'd be damned if he let this continue. He had to find a way out of this, Sam was his life, his salvation, his happiness and he wasn't about to lose her because he'd assigned a hotshot pilot command of SG1 as a reward for saving all their lives. It was wrong. It was all wrong and he had to fix it soon.

The doorbell rang and he slipped inside, setting his bottle on the hall table. He glanced at his watch and against all reason, hoped it was Sam. But then reality kicked in. She wouldn't ring, she'd just open the door with her key.

He swung the door open to a young attractive woman dressed in a smart business suite. She was smiling in a very friendly manner as he studied her.

"General Jack O'Neill?"

"Yeah, I'm Jack O'Neill."

"Then this is for you, Sir. Please sign here." She held out a small clipboard for him to sign and when he returned it, she handed him the envelope.

"Thank you."

He said the words absent-mindedly as he closed the door and walked over to the chair. The envelope was no surprise, he received couriered papers on a regular basis, but as he started to tear into the package, he noticed this one was from Colorado.

He sat heavily in the chair and pulled the papers out. A single sheet of stationary drifted to the floor and he leaned over to retrieve it. Holding it up, he realized it was Sam's familiar scrawl and laid the envelope down to read her words.

"Jack,

I hope you can forgive me for this, I think it's for the best. I'm sorry.

Sam."

He laid the note on the table and lifted the typed pages up again, reading slowly the words stamped across the top. It was a legal document and a frown deepened the worry lines across his forehead as he read.

Samantha Carter O'Neill

Vs.

John J. O'Neill

His hands started to shake and the words became blurred as he struggled to make sense of something that could never make sense to him. Was she divorcing him? He scanned the pages quickly and his eyes locked on the words "legal separation."

"Damn you, Carter!"

He spit the words distastefully from his worried mouth and then threw the papers across the room as he rose from the chair in a rage. He crossed the room to the phone and dialed her number, but hung up before it even rang then quickly dialed his superior officer and requested emergency family leave.

An hour later, he was packed and ready to walk out the door. He stopped and gathered the offensive papers and shoved them in the outer pocket of his bag. He looked around the room. Her influence was everywhere and in the short time they'd spent here together, she had etched her memory into every crevice. He turned back towards the door and opened it, muttering as he went.

"Not this time, Carter. Till death do us part, remember? You don't get rid of me that easily!"

He turned off the light and headed for the airport, he'd be in Colorado in a few hours and this time he wouldn't give in. This time he'd fight for what he wanted.

TBC