Title: Ticked Off
Written: January 27th, 2006 – January 28th, 2006
Takes Place: Mid-9th season; shortly after Carter rejoined SG-1. Assumes an off-screen J+S relationship.
Summary: One-shot. It may even be considered drabble. Jack is just as ticked off as I am that Sam got bumped from command of SG-1, but Sam calms him down. My rather shippy attempt to make this pill less bitter.
Rating: PG-13, or whatever that equates to on fanfiction . net's weirdo scale.
Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Don't really even want them, this season.
Author's Note: Don't get me wrong; I love Ben Browder. I even like Mitchell, for the most part. I just don't like the way he's suddenly Hero-Boy with top billing in the credits, while Carter's been relegated to taking orders and specifically cerebral roles again. If this idea has been done already, I apologize, but I haven't seen it.
Sam sat silently on the edge of her couch, watching as U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Jack O'Neill, commander of Homeworld Security and her former CO, paced back and forth ranting in a display of what could only be classified a temper tantrum.
"What I want to know is why in the hell someone didn't catch this and fix it. Why is it still going on?"
The expression on his face was murderous, and he'd been at it for the past five minutes. Ever since she'd innocently mentioned it. And all she'd been able to do was watch, dumbfounded by the depth of his ire and shock.
He'd been fine at the airport, greeting her with the twitch of a smile at the corner of his mouth and a glint in his eyes as he pressed a soft, lingering kiss to her lips. Then he had stepped back and settled the shoulder strap of his duffle bag more comfortably, this whole thing still new enough for both of them that while they had no problem demonstrating affection in private anymore, public displays were still just that slightest bit tentative.
He'd been fine on the ride home, fine as they walked up the sidewalk to her house. He'd been a hell of a lot more than fine during their frenzied, frantic bout of lovemaking against the wall inside the front door moments after entering. And he'd been affectionate throughout the process of preparing and consuming their dinner, stealing from her the occasional kiss and deliberately invading her personal space. Brushing his hand over hers as they ate.
It wasn't until after dinner, when they were lounging on the couch in front of the television (which neither were watching) and Sam was enjoying the way Jack's hand had snuck up the back of her blouse to create a delicious, warm friction against her skin, that things had somehow gone awry.
Sam had been relating SG-1's most recent mission to a planet designated PS4-9981, where the inhabitants had been decidedly unfriendly. Instead of offering to trade, they had apparently decided to simply take the intriguing weapons that the Tau'ri had brought through the stargate, forcing SG-1 into a combat situation with a civilization possessing equal levels of weaponry. Jack had been reaching higher and higher up her back, heading for the clasp of her bra (apparently her current presence and state of mind served as satisfactory assurance that the mission had ended well enough for him to not be concerned about it), when suddenly he froze.
To Sam's dismay, Jack withdrew completely from her top and rested both hands at her waist. "What?"
Confused, Sam thought back to what she'd just said. "Mitchell ordered me to activate the Gandaran's defense network to keep them occupied while we made a dash for the gate." Still unclear as to why this would have offended him, Sam attempted to explain. "It worked. They were so busy dodging their own fire that they didn't have time to pursue us. We got home safe and sound."
"I figured," Jack said, nudging her until she sat up. He followed, sudden energy propelling him from the couch altogether. He stood before her, posture obviously indicating anger. "But what was that part about Mitchell ordering you to activate the Gandhi thing?"
"Gandaran," Sam corrected automatically. "And what do you mean? What's the problem?"
"What's the problem?" Jack repeated incredulously, as if she were the one who had suddenly just gone mad. "The problem is Mitchell giving you orders. And you obeying them. What the hell is that all about?"
Carter was trying to figure out his reasoning; she really was. Slowly, as if explaining wormhole theory to a toddler, she said, "Following orders is what one does when one doesn't want to be court-martialed, Jack."
"Following orders is what one does when one has been given them by a superior officer," Jack stated. "Since when does Mitchell give the orders on your team?"
Still speaking in that slow, deliberate tone (he had the volatile demeanor of a man who could explode at any moment), Sam answered, "Since he took command of SG-1 months ago. Remember? You told him he could have any posting he wanted."
Jack blanched. "Any posting! I never said he could have your command!"
"It wasn't my command at the time! I had transferred to Area 51, remember? This would have been after you went to Washington. After we spent six full days locked up in your cabin because I wasn't under your command anymore." She said the last with a smile, hoping to take away some of his abruptly bad mood with the good memories.
But he wasn't having any of it. She was hardly even his girlfriend at the moment; he was too filled with wrath on behalf of a slighted subordinate, that he had helped groom for command of his team. "So he took command when he got there. Okay, fine. I get that. But why is he still in command? I mean, don't get me wrong, Mitchell's a good kid and he deserved a spot on SG-1 for keeping our asses out of the fire in Antarctica, but he was a fighter pilot. Whatever ground experience he has, whatever leadership skills he has, he's never led a team off the planet before, and you have."
"That's true," Carter started to say, "but – "
"You've got seniority!" Jack exclaimed. "And over eight years worth of off-world experience. You had field command on the flagship team for the whole year he was out of the game, in physical rehabilitation. I'm damn sorry for the kid, but he was out of action that whole time. How does anyone think it's okay for him to swoop in and get put in charge? How the hell has Landry let him get away with this?"
Carter tried again. "It's not a matter of how he got – "
"He badgered you to come back. When you did, he should have relinquished command!"
"Jack," Sam finally got a word in edgewise when he paused to take a breath, "he did."
That stopped him. Confused, interrupted mid-tirade, Jack gave her a totally befuddled expression summed up perfectly in one word: huh?
Carter tugged at his hands until he sat down next to her again. "After our first mission when I came back, Cam came to me and offered me back command of the team. He pointed out all of the things you just did, and said that he'd just been keeping my place warm. And he didn't just offer it for form's sake, either, Jack. He really wanted me to command the team. He said that even though commanding SG-1 was a milestone in his career, he'd originally come to the SGC expecting to be under my command. He said he didn't feel right taking it away from me, and that he didn't really feel comfortable giving commands to someone technically his superior."
Jack still didn't understand. "So…why is he still in command, then?"
Sam smiled. "Because I didn't take it. I told him that he hadn't taken command away from me; I'd left it voluntarily. And we sat down and talked about the team dynamic. Really, Jack, I think I give him orders sometimes too, without thinking about it. And he follows them. The team's a lot more…democratic than it used to be."
Seeing the disbelief and unacceptance on his face, Sam squeezed his hand. "It's not a bad thing, Jack. Mitchell's a good soldier, and a good leader. He reminds me of you, sometimes. He won't let us down."
"That's not the point," Jack insisted. "You've led a stellar military career, Sam. As a woman, and at your age, to have achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel…well, it's damn good. A demotion like this isn't – "
"It's not a demotion," Carter objected. "It's…just a lack of forward momentum, for now."
Jack shook his head, calmer now, but still unhappy. "See, now I just don't get that. From the moment I met you, you have been one of the most driven, focused officers I'd ever met. You offered to arm wrestle me because you thought I was pre-judging you, for crying out loud! And now you're just going to let some guy come in and run off with your command? What gives?"
"I'm not fighting for it because…well, I just thought maybe I should leave my options open, a little."
Here Sam began to show signs of nervousness; for the first time in their conversation she glanced away from his eyes, and her heart beat a little faster.
"Options?" Jack repeated doubtfully…obviously wondering what Sam, of all people, could consider more important than furthering her career.
"Yeah, you know. I mean…when I first came back I wasn't sure how long I was going to be staying, for example. It would have made no sense to assume command only to have to give it back again."
Nodding slightly, Jack asked, "But now that you're staying?"
"Well, there are…other things that I've been thinking about, and I'd have greater freedom to pursue them if I weren't in command. If they come up."
Jack frowned; Sam was definitely looking evasive now, and she knew it. She couldn't help it! She wasn't sure if she was really ready for this conversation, yet. But it seemed that Jack wasn't about to let it go. "What other things?"
Sam interlaced her fingers, broke them apart. Twiddled her thumbs. "Like Cassie, for example. What if she needs me? If I'm in command I can't just drop everything and go help her."
"And that's all?" Jack looked skeptical, and with good reason. Cassie was having a great time at college. She'd visited him over winter break – fresh from visiting Carter – waving around her first report card and the 3.8 GPA she'd earned.
"Well…and, other possibilities. Nebulous ones."
Jack did his Teal'c impression, lifting one eyebrow in inquiry. "Nebulous ones? And what, pray-tell, might those be?"
"Nebulous? Oh, vague, imprecise, hazy or unformulated."
"I know what it means, egghead," Jack said with a touch of affectionate humor for the first time since he'd found out about Mitchell's command, "But what things are we talking about that are so vague, imprecise, hazy and unformulated, but important enough to put your career on hold for?"
"You ended that sentence with a preposition," Carter pointed out in a hopeless attempt to distract him. Unfortunately for her, he was just as unconcerned by his improper grammar as had been the Jaffa he had once accused of the same thing.
"Okay, okay. Just…I wasn't going to go into all of this for awhile." Sam was distinctly nervous now, chewing her lip and worrying about how he was going to react. Maybe she could get away with saying it…without really saying it?
"I just…um…we haven't talked about anything yet, of course. And I know that it would be extremely premature, at this point. But it's just that I was thinking, that if we…ever…that it might be a good idea if I weren't in command at the time."
Having effectively skipped the main point, Sam now finished in a rush. "And really, shouldn't we be able to take a little time away for ourselves? We spent so long giving everything we had to the SGC; we spent the whole last decade bottling up our feelings so that we could do the job. Well, I can still do the job, but maybe I don't want all of that responsibility, now that I finally have something else to focus on, and enjoy. Don't I deserve to be happy in addition to serving my country?"
"Sure you do," Jack said, and now his tone was calm, as if he were trying to talk a mental patient down from a roof ledge. "But I'm still not sure what this mysterious, 'nebulous' thing is that we might do that's contributing to you passing up command."
Sam sighed. Well, she had tried, really. "You of all people know how dangerous the SGC can be. How many bad situations a team can walk into. And I'm still willing to take those risks. For now. But there's an extra layer of responsibility for the commander. One I don't think I would be able to concentrate on and do it justice if…if ever…if we were to ever have kids."
Sam winced with the utterance of her last word, and took a few moments before glancing up at Jack's face from the corner of her eye, to gauge his reaction. To her relief he didn't look shocked, or upset that she was bringing up the idea of children when all they'd ever really done before now was discuss marriage and a family in the abstract. He didn't appear to be angry at her presumption.
Instead, a slow, genuinely happy smile had begun to spread across his face, from one corner of his mouth to the other. There was something heartbreakingly shy about it, and the glint had returned to his gaze as if little embers smoldered behind his eyes, just for her. "Yeah?" he asked, like he couldn't believe he'd heard her right.
With great relief, and an odd sense of shyness herself, Sam smiled back. The big one that always made his eyes glaze over a little. "Yeah."
His smile transformed into a full-fledged grin as he pulled her against him. "Well then, I guess that's okay." He kissed her.
When he pulled back a long minute later, Sam was still smiling. "So that meets with your approval, huh?"
"Oh yeah," he confirmed, kissing her again until she fell back on the couch, positioning herself comfortably underneath him as he pressed down upon her from above.
Time blurred; a warm, sensual fog surrounded them as the room grew dim with the approach of nightfall outside, and as Jack set about proving just how much he liked her logical decision…among other, more touchable attributes.
At one point, while he was applying gentle suction to the base of her neck with a hot, open mouth, something about their conversation came back to Sam. "Jack," she asked on a hitched breath as her pulse jumped wildly, "how did you not know Cam was still in command? It's in all the reports."
"Mmhmm," Jack mumbled into her skin.
A small tendril of amusement wound through the haze of lust. "Jack, you have been reading the mission reports, haven't you?"
"I'll…get to them eventually," he replied, moving to the other side of her neck.
Sam laughed and wrapped her arms around him, drawing him even closer and forgetting, for the moment, about all other things.