Title: Just A Number
Spoilers: Set during the second half of Season Nine, just after 'Off The Grid', so anything up to that is fair game.
Summary: "SG-1 has never been about a number on a patch."
Feedback: Feedback is more than welcome and always will be but as far as flames are concerned, I would prefer that you didn't waste my time or your own with them.
Disclaimer: 'Stargate SG1' and all the characters associated with the show belong to someone who isn't me. As I doubt that the owners would be willing to trade their rights for some magic beans that aren't in any way magical, this is not going to change at any point in the foreseeable future.
Author's Note: I'm fed up with the leadership/co-command mess of Season Nine. This is my way of rectifying the situation.
He had known, as soon as he had approved her placement on SG-1 upon her return, that it would not last.
Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter, USAF, PhD, was one of the finest officers ever to serve at the SGC, with nine years of 'gate travel, including a year in command of the flagship team, under her belt, together with a knowledge of the stargate and of both alien and Earth technology that was second to none.
She had proven herself an effective team leader and Landry had known that it would only be a matter of time before his superiors would question the wisdom of relegating an officer of Carter's calibre to the position of second in command on a team that she had previously led, as well as that of having two officers of equal rank on the same team.
One of them would eventually have to be transferred.
When the approval for the formation of three new SG teams had come through, he had known that he could not keep both Lieutenant Colonels on the same team any longer.
He knew, as anybody who had read her file or had the pleasure of serving her would, how much of an asset Sam Carter was to the SGC, how much she had accomplished during her time on SG-1 and how she had proven herself as a field commander.
On the other hand, despite a rocky beginning over the past months, Landry believed that Cameron Mitchell had the potential to be a good leader once he had settled down and he had seen the younger man's awe at being at the SGC, as well as the almost childlike delight he took in leading the legendary SG-1.
Could he ask him to give that up?
Landry didn't think it fair to deprive Mitchell of the position he had longed for, but it was equally unjust that Carter be denied the command she had rightfully earned.
What about the rest of the team?
Though neither of them had said anything, Landry was observant enough to be aware of the fact that neither Daniel nor Teal'c were comfortable with Mitchell's leadership. He was also realistic enough to know that, if given the choice, both of them would have preferred to have Carter as their team leader.
If Carter was the one transferred, would they learn to accept and trust Mitchell's leadership more readily or would the fragile bond knitting the team together be weakened even further in her absence?
On the other hand, if he chose to transfer Mitchell, would it appear that SG-1 had rejected his leadership and in turn make it more difficult for him to effectively command a new team?
He sighed, knowing well that if he tried to please everybody, he would, as likely as not, end up pleasing nobody.
The question of how it would affect the future career of the officer he chose to transfer was another thing he felt that he ought to consider.
Colonel Carter's file spoke for itself, detailing her exemplary record, extraordinary intelligence and the many commendations she had received for her service at the SGC. It seemed as though Area 51 were calling every other day requesting her return, her name had been put forward as a potential commander for the next X-304 and what seemed like every scientific division associated with the SGC had asked for her to be transferred to them at some point.
Somebody who had saved this planet and others from destruction more times than he cared to think about would never have trouble finding a post; if she chose to leave the SGC in the afternoon, she would have half a dozen job offers lined up by morning.
Though Colonel Mitchell's record was good, he could not complete with Carter's impressive list of achievements -few ever could - and while there would technically be no difference in rank whether he was commander of the flagship team or of another SG team, it would look like a demotion, especially when an officer who had been under his command took the vacated place as leader.
He wrestled with the decision, mentally cataloguing the pros and cons of each option for a long time before pressing the call button on his desk.
"Sergeant," He greeted as soon as Walter Harriman appeared. "Please tell Colonel Carter that I want to see her in my office."
"SG-28 will be a frontline exploratory unit like SG-1. The missions will be similar, with the same aims and, unless I miss my guess, the same potential for trouble and excitement that seems to follow you people wherever you go." Landry finished in the lightest tone he could manage, watching the woman sitting opposite him carefully, trying to discern her reaction to his words.
Sam nodded comprehension but did not speak, waiting for the general to continue.
"There have been two officers of equal rank on SG-1 for quite some time now and that really isn't something that should continue long-term, especially with three new teams in need of commanders – I can't really recruit outside the SGC, or among junior officers when I have you and Colonel Mitchell on the same team, can I?"
"No, sir." Her response was quiet.
She too had known that the current structure of SG-1 would not be allowed to continue as it had indefinitely.
Once the Replicators had been defeated and the System Lords weakened to a point where it would be a long time before they were powerful enough to pose a serious threat, she had been content to enjoy more peaceful missions consisting of what she had initially thought the Stargate Program would mean; exploring other worlds but her superiors had had other plans and, after scarcely a month of peace, the order to go to Area 51 and lead their Research and Development division had come through.
Her duties at Area 51 had certainly been different to her work at the SGC but, while she had enjoyed the variety of challenges her new job presented and the fact that the regular hours allowed her to spend more time with Cassie, she had missed her teammates.
During the years she had worked alongside them, they had become closer to her than family and, while she was pleased by the prospect of commanding a team again, she was saddened by the thought of being separated from Daniel and Teal'c.
"All of the files for potential candidates will be forwarded to you, Colonel." Landry's voice broke through her musings. He gave her a slight smile. "And I don't doubt that there will be quite a few among the SGC personnel who will jump at the chance to serve with you." Sam felt her cheeks grow warm at his words. "We'll make sure that you have the best people available for your team."
Once she had been dismissed, Sam left the general's office, trying to decide how best to break the news to Daniel and Teal'c that she would be transferring off their team.
"Transferred? You? There has to be some mistake!" Daniel exclaimed, cutting off her attempted explanation.
Though he did not say anything, Teal'c also looked troubled by her news.
"It's still the SGC, Daniel." Sam pointed out patiently. "And I'll be in command of my own team."
"You were already in command of a team last year – this team." Daniel stated. "Mitchell's a nice guy and all but you… Sam, you're one of the foundation stones of the SGC."
"Indeed." Teal'c seconded warmly.
"If you and Mitchell can't both serve on SG-1, couldn't they transfer him to SG-28 instead?"
"Daniel!" Sam hissed his name, kicking him lightly on the shin in an unmistakeable message to be quiet, gesturing towards the figure just entering the commissary, making a beeline for their table.
"Hey, guys." Mitchell sat down opposite Teal'c, grinning broadly. "What did you get up to over the weekend?" He asked cheerfully.
"Nothing much." Daniel responded as casually as he could.
"General O'Neill invited us to his cabin for the weekend." Teal'c elaborated. "Ostensibly to fish."
"There only seems to be one fish in the pond and he's a crafty little guy." Sam explained, seeing Mitchell's bewilderment. "None of us have actually caught anything yet."
"We're due to go offworld tomorrow at 1100 hours." He said, changing the subject, his eyes lighting up at the prospect of another mission. Even after six months, the novelty had not yet worn off.
"In all likelihood, it will be your final mission as a member of SG-1, Colonel Carter." Teal'c observed calmly.
"I've been transferred. General Landry asked me to take command of SG-28." Sam explained.
"Really?" Mitchell was torn between being pleased for his colleague and dismayed at the thought of losing her presence on SG-1. "Congratulations." He said, feeling awkward. "That's… wow."
None of the other three people sitting at the table looked happy and, in all honesty, Mitchell wasn't entirely pleased by the development himself.
Despite everybody's attempts to steer the conversation to lighter topics, lunch was a tense meal that day.
The next morning
As Landry had predicted, a large number of those stationed at the SGC had responded eagerly to the prospect of serving on a team led by Sam and by the time she had entered her lab the next morning, less than twenty-four hours after she had learned of her transfer, her desk was piled high with the files of those who had put their names forward for SG-28.
The SGC gossip mills were evidently operating at peak efficiency.
A note from the general was perched on top of one of the stacks of files, asking that she go through them to weed out anybody she didn't want and take note of anybody she did.
Given the number of files awaiting her attention, Sam had a feeling that it was going to take a while.
"Whoa!" Mitchell commented in awe when he entered the lab to remind her of their mission and saw the files piled high. "And I thought that I had a tough job." He commiserated, thinking of the applicants he had had to sift through when he had first joined the SGC, his smile fading as he remembered that in a few days the team he had fantasized about joining since he had first been allowed to read of their exploits would no longer be whole.
"Tell me about it." Sam smiled inwardly as she picked up the file of one Jay Felger, reading the letter he had written in support of his application before reluctantly consigning his file to the short stack of candidates she did not think suitable.
Although she, unlike most of the SGC, got on quite well with Felger and though she knew that a keen mind existed under his bumbling, she didn't think that he would be the best addition to a frontline team.
SG-1 got into enough trouble already without adding Felger's accident proneness to the equation.
'SG-28.' Sam corrected herself inwardly. 'SG-1 isn't your team anymore.'
"Any good ones in there?" Mitchell enquired good-naturedly.
"I haven't read them all yet." Sam told him. "But there are a lot of fine officers at the SGC."
"And it looks like they've all applied."
"Not quite." She smiled.
"It's nearly 0930." Mitchell reminded her. "We've got a pre-mission briefing with Landry in a few minutes." He grinned. "Wonder if there'll be any excitement for your last mission on SG-1."
"A quiet one will be just fine by me. And Cam," She teased lightly. "Could you not pretend to be a drug dealer this time?"
"Spoilsport!" Mitchell returned easily before sobering. "You're sure that you're okay with transferring? You've been on SG-1 since the beginning, after all. I can talk to Landry if you want. I know that I'd love to keep you on my team."
"It's alright." Sam assured him patiently. "I'm surprised that we were left together as long as we were."
"They knew a winning team when they saw one."
Sam smiled at the sincere compliment. "SG-1 will go on without me."
"It won't be the same, though." Mitchell said dolefully. "It's the end of an era."
Under the leadership of Jack O'Neill, it had been something of a tradition that successful conclusions to especially long or difficult missions were celebrated with a visit to O'Malleys or, during the almost year long period when they had been banned, at an Italian restaurant that was a favourite with them all.
When Sam had been in command of SG-1, they, together with the base CO, had continued the tradition, though it had lapsed somewhat of late.
Tonight, however, Sam had found herself all but kidnapped from her lab and the stack of files awaiting her attention and dragged to O'Malleys.
Quite a few co-workers from the SGC had dropped by their table, to drink a toast to her time on SG-1 and to wish her luck in her new command.
Felger, much to Sam's embarrassment, had presented her with a large bouquet, ostensibly from everyone in the science department.
Eventually, the large group had melted away, leaving only the three remaining members of SG-1 and the new leader of SG-28.
Once Mitchell had excused himself to buy the next round of drinks, Daniel touched Sam's arm lightly.
"Are you sure that you're okay about having to leave SG-1?" He asked gently, concerned for his friend. He was careful to keep his voice low.
"It's not like I'm going into exile, Daniel." Sam pointed out, touched by his concern. "It's just another team."
"Have you selected those you would like to serve with, Colonel Carter?" Teal'c enquired.
"Not yet." She grinned wryly. "I must have been spoilt by the years working with you guys, and with General O'Neill."
"I can see why you might have high standards." Daniel joked, with a mock-bow.
"I haven't finished reading yet." Sam confessed. "So I can't tell you until I'm finished. Plus, it's something that I'll probably need to discuss with General Landry before I make a final decision. I was thinking of Grogan." She added brightly.
"Lieutenant Grogan?" Daniel asked.
"Yes," Sam smiled at the memory of the battery of tests that the then Colonel O'Neill had put Grogan, together with three other recruits through before simulating a foothold situation. "He's been at the SGC for nearly four years now and every commanding officer he's served under has nothing but the highest praise for him."
"They grow up so fast." Daniel quipped.
"Indeed." Teal'c agreed, thinking of his own son, who still seemed so young but was now a married man and a warrior in his own right.
Mitchell returned, balancing a tray of drinks, passing them to the other three before taking a seat and raising his glass.
"At the risk of sounding corny," He paused to shoot Daniel a mock-glare, as if daring him, or any of them, to comment. "To Sam – it won't be the same without you."
"Definitely not." Daniel said quietly.
Teal'c said nothing, but he raised his glass in a silent toast to his friend, a serious expression on his face.
"You're not going to cry, are you?" Mitchell teased Sam, seeing the emotions playing across her face.
"No." She swatted him lightly, glad of the momentary distraction his jest had provided. She sipped her own drink, looking around at her friends for a moment before speaking. "I'm going to miss you guys."
Teal'c bowed his head. "The feeling is mutual, Colonel Carter."
The next day
General Landry sighed deeply before looking up at his guests, mentally cursing Jack O'Neill for recommending him for this problematic post, his superiors for leaving him with a mess like this on his hands and whatever god it was that hated him enough to wish the problem on him.
While he had half-expected the visit, it didn't mean that he had wanted it.
"Gentlemen, this is very unusual." He began. "You're both already assigned to a team."
"Colonel Carter told us that officers already stationed on other teams have applied to serve on SG-28 under her command." Teal'c stated. "I understood that applications were welcome from all personnel."
"That's true, but…"
"Teal'c and I would like to submit our own applications to transfer to SG-28." Daniel cut him off calmly.
"Could you wait before putting in for a transfer?" Landry suggested, aware that as civilians – and in Teal'c's case, as a representative of an allied alien nation – they were not subject to the same regulations as military officers would have been. "For a few months or so, maybe?"
"That would be unwise, General Landry." Teal'c pointed out rationally. "If we wait, Colonel Carter will have selected her team and two of their number would then need to be transferred if Dr Jackson and myself were to be accommodated."
He had a point; with the three new teams forming, the members of some of the existing teams being reshuffled and new officers being transferred to the base, now would be as convenient a time to reassign the two men and to choose new officers to take their places as there would ever be.
Landry was also well aware of the fact that both men had been prepared to move on when he had assumed command of the SGC; Daniel to the Atlantis expedition and Teal'c to devote his time to the fledgling Jaffa nation and while neither man would ever have tried to blackmail him with a threat to quit unless they were reassigned to the team of their choice, they were no longer as bound to the SGC as they had been in the past.
He wasn't prepared to risk losing the benefit of either man's experience or knowledge if it could be avoided, any more than he would have wanted to lose Colonel Carter's military experience or scientific expertise.
If transfers to SG-28 were to be the price for retaining Daniel and Teal'c's invaluable services, then it was little enough to pay.
"Very well." Landry said at last. "Submit your applications to myself and to Colonel Carter and we'll see what we can do."
Their forms were on his desk before he had finished speaking.
"Have you made any progress with your selection, Colonel Carter?"
Though Teal'c's query had been quietly spoken, Sam was still startled by it, as she had not heard her friend's approach. She looked up to see Teal'c and Daniel standing next to her, serious expression's on their faces.
"Hi, guys." She greeted with a small smile, marking the page in the file she was reading with a blank sheet of paper before setting it aside. "Not much." She admitted, in response to Teal'c's query. "Lieutenant Grogan is still the only one that I definitely want on SG-28, but there's only a few I've ruled out." She indicated the short stack of files belonging to those she had not thought suitable before waving a hand, indicating what looked like a hundred other files. "Everybody else is a possibility. The real challenge will be choosing only two."
"Looks like a tough job." Daniel agreed. A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "I almost feel bad adding to your workload now, don't you, Teal'c."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "I do not."
"What are you talking about?" Sam asked, at a loss.
"Another couple of candidates have put their names forward to join SG-28." Daniel informed her, doing his level best to keep any hint of humour from showing on his face.
Given the number of files that Sam was already faced with, her dismay at this was understandable. "Who?"
"You actually know them quite well." Daniel said, poker-faced, laying the file and the letter of application he carried on the desk in front of her and motioning for Teal'c to do the same.
A slow smile blossomed on Sam's face when she read the names on the applications, but her expression quickly turned serious. "Guys, this is really sweet, but I can't…"
"Why not?" Daniel demanded good-naturedly. "You've worked with us before – are we such screw-ups that you don't want us on your team?" He pretended to be hurt. "You should have said something before now."
"You're both already on a team."
"So are most of the others who've applied." Daniel pointed out logically. "And there are plenty of good people to take our places."
"I believe that several new officers are to be stationed at the SGC." Teal'c stated. "Our presence on SG-1 will not be missed."
"I think you're wrong on that count. Have you spoken to Cam about this? He mightn't be willing to lose you, and General Landry may want to keep you on SG-1." Sam pointed out gently.
"We talked to the general before we came here." Daniel told her.
"He gave us his blessing to submit our applications."
"Mitchell may not like it." Daniel acknowledged. "But he'll get over it. There are plenty of people who'll jump at the chance to sign up for SG-1."
"SG-1 has been a big part of your lives for so long. Are you really prepared to give that up?"
"We won't be." Daniel said firmly. "SG-1 has never been about a number on a patch. It's been about us. You, Teal'c and Jack are family to me and I really think that we will do better work together than we would apart." His tone was serious. "We started out as a team and I want us to continue as a team."
"I cannot think of any I would rather serve with than Daniel Jackson and yourself. It has been an honour to fight alongside you, Colonel Carter." Teal'c said, bowing his head slightly. "I hope that you will allow me to continue to do so."
"So what do you say?" Daniel asked, reaching out a hand to take Sam's. "Do you think that you could put up with us for a while longer?"
Sam smiled broadly, touched by their loyalty. "What do you think?"
A week later
General Landry stood in the control room, watching as SG-28 geared up for their first mission as a team. It was a routine exploration but whether it would stay routine or not was anybody's guess.
Down in the 'gate room, Sam was double-checking her equipment, talking quietly with her team. Lieutenant Grogan, though he had seemed rather shy of his new teammates initially, was entering into the conversation with good spirits.
Landry checked his watch, and then nodded to Sergeant Harriman to begin the dialing procedure. He sensed rather than heard an approach behind him. "Have you come to see them off?"
"Yeah." Mitchell said quietly, watching the group down in the 'gate room.
"Are you sure that you're okay with this?" Landry asked, concerned, pitching his voice low enough that they wouldn't be overheard.
He had spoken to the younger man, and he knew that Colonel Carter had too, before he had given his final approval to Jackson and Teal'c transferring to SG-28 but he worried that Mitchell might be having second thoughts.
He had no idea what he could do if that were the case.
"It's okay, sir." Mitchell assured him sincerely.
"You wanted to get the band back together." Landry said, remembering his enthusiasm for reuniting SG-1 when he had learned that they had moved on.
"I know." Mitchell said, with a smile. "And the band is back together. That's what really matters."
Landry nodded, just as Walter announced that the seventh chevron had locked and the wormhole opened with its usual kawoosh.
One of these days he was going to have to find out who had chosen that name.
"It never gets old, does it?" Mitchell remarked.
Landry nodded agreement. "Never." He bent forward to take the microphone. "SG-28, you have a go." He announced through the speaker, watching as the group stepped through the stargate and into the unknown.