Summary: SG-1 is out celebrating a successful mission. Jack finally finds out why Carter didn't go on the first Abydos mission.
References: Stargate, the movie, 1.01 Children of the Gods, and 3.18 Shades of Grey
Author's Notes: Written in response to a challenge that I read somewhere. Some minor language usage. Also archived at I own no part of the Stargate Universe unless you count my DVD collection.
Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c were laughing as they debated the ins and outs of their recent escapade on P4X-whatever. Well, Daniel and Sam were laughing; Teal'c was observing with what a trained eye would recognize as amusement. The remains of their celebratory meal crowded the table of the corner booth at O'Malley's. Jack had to stack and clear some dishes to fit their latest round on the table when he returned with it from the bar. He slid onto the bench next to Daniel who was well beyond his two-drink limit and in the middle of a horrible Doc Frasier impression.
Jack smiled. He was completely content just watching his team. His team... It had been their first mission back in the field since his whole double-agent routine, and they had been flawless. Well, almost flawless. Daniel had been as obstinate and disobedient as ever as his bandaged arm attested, but, for the most part, all had gone well. The team had worked together better than he had expected, obviously trying hard to put the charade of the past week behind them.
He studied Carter. She had been stiff and formal with him at the start of the mission. He knew that she understood why he had excluded them and that it hadn't been his choice, but he had still cut her, he knew. He had unintentionally bruised those emotions that she fought so hard to keep hidden His cruel words to her in the corridor couldn't just be taken back, and he would have to wait for that great healer, time, to help with the damage control. However, throughout their recent, eventful 23-hour tour, she'd loosened up considerably, and, by the end of the mission, she'd even smiled at him again–that full-blown, 10,000-watt smile that could power a dozen naquada reactors. And, now she was out with them at O'Malley's laughing with the team.
God, she looked good when she laughed, he thought. She'd been right when she'd said that he'd like her once he got to know her. He hadn't expected to, hadn't believed it was possible at the time she'd said it. She had rubbed him so completely the wrong way in that first briefing. He had admired her grit, but that had been all.
Thinking back to their initial meeting, a nagging question reintroduced itself into Jack's mind and without giving it much thought, he verbalized it. "Why didn't you?"
Abrupt silence and puzzled looks from his three teammates. They had no idea what he was talking about. Daniel attempted to rescue the moment, "Why didn't who do what, Jack?"
"Carter," Jack both answered and asked, "why didn't you go with us through the gate the first time? For the first Abydos mission?"
Carter's face paled as she registered his question. "What, sir?"
"You heard me, Carter. When we first met, you said that you'd worked two years on the Stargate project before Daniel made it work and that you should have gone through then. So, I'm asking; why didn't you?"
Sam eyed Jack warily. Then, shifted her gaze to Daniel and Teal'c who were also looking at her with interest. She wriggled in her seat and dropped her eyes to her lap. Daniel sensed her discomfort at the question, but, like Jack, he was curious to hear her answer and so prompted, "You know, I've always wondered that myself, Sam, why you didn't come with us. We sure could have used you."
Sam shrugged her shoulders, gave a half-hearted laugh, and continued to study her hands which she'd clasped in her lap. Teal'c interceded, "I do not believe that Major Carter wishes to tell us why she did not accompany you."
Jack had been curious before, but Sam's unease had increased his need to know. She was his second in command, he had seen her in some incredibly tough spots, but he had never seen her in any situation that made her squirm quite like she was doing. "Sam," he began gently, her eyes starting up to meet his at his use of her first name, "You don't have to tell us, but, clearly, whatever it was, it's still bothering you. And, we'd like..." He nodded to include Daniel and Teal'c, "And we'd like to listen to you, to help you, or whatever..." He trailed off. Or whatever? he thought, smacking his internal forehead. He never was a great one with words.
"Indeed." Teal'c added, "That is in fact what teams are for."
Sam looked at her three guys, their concerned eyes on her, and gave in. "Ok." She took a deep breath. "But, it's not going to seem like that big a deal, that I've made all this fuss over nothing.".
Daniel replied in encouragement. "Sam, we know you. We know that you wouldn't react this way to nothing."
She smiled at him, reassured by his words, and gathered her thoughts. She began. "Two months before Catherine brought Daniel onboard the Stargate Project, General West was assigned by the Pentagon to oversee the military aspects of the project at the mountain. I had never worked with the general before, but almost as soon as he arrived on base he made it clear that..." She stopped and considered how to explain what had happened, and then remembered a phrase used by her CO that would work admirably. "That I would have to do some 'damned distasteful things' if I wanted to secure my position on the off-world team."
"He what?" Jack interrupted angrily, "Oh, Sam!" interjected Daniel, and Teal'c scowled menacingly. All three men readily understood what Sam was implying by 'damned distasteful things'.
She continued, not making eye contact with her teammates. "I informed him that I wasn't interested in that sort of arrangement, and reported his misconduct through proper channels. However, one lowly Captain's word against a highly decorated senior officer didn't appear to carry much weight since he got to bring in the team that went through the Stargate."
Jack attempted to interrupt, "Carter, I..."
But, Sam proceeded to the end of her tale, "Officially, I was reassigned to the Pentagon while an investigation took place. Whether one happened or not, I have no idea. What I do know is that the incident isn't reported in my service record, which leads me to think that in the eyes of the US Air Force, it never happened... General West retired three months after your return from Abydos, once it had been decided that the gate couldn't be used to travel anywhere else. As soon as General Hammond assumed command at the SGC, I was brought back onboard to research alternate uses for the gate. And, the rest, I guess, is history." She looked up at her team sheepishly.
Both Teal'c and Jack's faces were expressionless. Both men, she knew, were schooling their features to mask their emotions, but she could see smouldering in her CO's eyes. Daniel, on the other hand, could be read like a book–shock and righteous anger and genuine concern for her, his friend. "See," she couldn't help but add, hoping to break the tension around her, "No big deal." There was a pause, then both Daniel and Jack laughed at her flippant tone, and Teal'c's jaw stopped twitching.
"And that's why you came at me with guns a-blazing during that first briefing," Jack concluded, "Because West had brought me in."
Sam nodded her assent. "Yes. I'm sorry, looking back, I'm ashamed at how confrontational I was. I just didn't know what to expect from you."
"That's okay, Major, no apology required," Jack said grinning widely. Then, he lifted his glass, "A toast, to officers who have the nerve to damn distasteful things."
"To Major Carter," Teal'c added as he raised his glass.
Daniel replied, his glass up. "I'll drink to that. To Sam."
Sam lifted her glass and studied her team. She had been worried that her story would put them off, but it hadn't. They believed her, they supported her, and they certainly didn't think she was foolish. "Thanks, guys. But, if it's ok, I think I'll drink to the three of you, to friendship and trust."
And the four members of SG-1 drank their toast, reveling in the warmth of true comradery.