Title: Just Another Day at the Office, Part II

Author: Andraste

Category: Missing Scene/Romance

Disclaimer: Not mine, but I promise to put them back when I'm done.

Spoilers: Camelot (S9)

Author's Note: Thanks to Ayiana for the beta, as always.


For the fifth time in as many minutes, Jack's hand reached for the phone. Just before contact, his fingers curled into a fist, halting the movement.

Hours ago, he'd spoken to Sam minutes before she was due to leave on the quest for Merlin's anti-Ori device. He'd spent his time since then in meeting after meeting; planning their strategy for dealing with the imminent Ori armada should SG-1 fail to locate the device.

The waiting was killing him.

With a muttered curse, he grabbed the phone and hit speed-dial four – General Landry's office at the SGC.

"Landry."

"Hank, it's Jack."

"Jack, I was about to call you. We just got an update from the Odyssey."

He couldn't explain it; he just knew. Something was wrong.

"What?"

"Carter and Kvasir came up with a plan to replace the supergate's dialing crystal with one that will allow them to control the gate. Their plan is to dial out before the Ori can dial in. Carter was prepping to EVA to replace the crystal."

Something in his chest was throbbing painfully. Jack realized he'd forgotten to breathe, and inhaled deeply.

"SHE WHAT?"

There was a deep sigh. "Jack, there was no other way. We're… Hang on. Getting another update."

Though only moments passed, for Jack it felt like an eternity.

Landry's voice, when it came, was quiet. "The Ori have come through the supergate. Carter wasn't able to override, and the interference prevented the Odyssey from retrieving her. The fleet was going to throw everything they had at the Ori ships. That was all we got before contact was lost."

This wasn't happening. This was not happening.

The words repeated in an unbroken loop as his mind struggled to maintain some grasp on sanity.

If Sam hadn't been killed when the supergate engaged, it meant she was floating in space in the middle of a battlefield. Her chances of surviving were almost nil.

"Jack?"

Breathe. He had to keep breathing. He had to focus, do his job.

But his mind would only focus on one thing.

"Sam…"

He wasn't aware he'd spoken aloud until Hank replied. "I don't know, Jack. As of right now, you know as much as we do. I'm sorry."

He was supposed to be doing something. Speaking. Responding. Thirty-plus years of military training kicked in, forcing his mind to focus on the task at hand.

"All right, Hank. I'll contact the President, and set up a meeting with the Joint Chiefs and the IOC. As soon as new information becomes available…"

"You'll be the first to know." There was a pause, as if Landry wasn't sure he should continue. But he did. "Jack, if there's one thing I've learned in reading the previous eight years of mission reports, it's that SG-1 is nearly impossible to do away with. They're the best, Jack."

The hand holding the phone was beginning to tremble. He knew he had to hang up quickly before he totally lost it. "Thanks, Hank."

He carefully hung up the phone, and then buried his face in his hands.

This was not happening. This was so not happening.

She wasn't dead. He'd know if she was dead. Few things were certain in Jack O'Neill's life. His bond with his wife was one of those things.

He reached beneath the open collar of his dress shirt and pulled out his dog tags. The gold of his wedding band glinted warmly against the utilitarian chain. He gave in to an impulse he couldn't explain and unfastened the chain, allowing the ring to drop into his palm. He stared at it for a moment before slipping it into place on his left ring finger.

They were still trying to be discreet about their marriage, but at that moment, Jack no longer cared. The visible, tangible reminder of Sam was his link to sanity. For her, he would do his job to the best of his ability. He would be every inch Major General O'Neill.

He had to allow the soldier to take precedence over the husband.

With calm efficiency, General O'Neill placed the necessary phone calls, and arranged meetings and strategy sessions. He ran a hand through his perpetually rumpled hair in an effort to tame it. He fastened his tie, shrugged his uniform jacket on, and buttoned it. He grabbed the necessary files, and strode purposefully out of his office and through the maze of the Pentagon.

As he sat through meeting after meeting, he made the required replies and responses. Major General O'Neill was in charge, and everyone knew it.

And as Jack's thumb idly rotated the ring on his finger, over and over again, no notice was taken.