Stargate SG1 is somebody else's, probably MGM/Gekko Corp/Sci-Fi, and I freely admit that whoever's it is, I'm borrowing their show and they retain all rights, etc.
Author's Note: This was written as part of the Sam/Jack ficathon. It was written for Gen Varel. She wanted to see Sam and Jack romance, Charlie from the Re'tu and Martouf causing trouble; she didn't want to see character death, slash and an unhappy ending. This is set early S9 and has mild spoilers for everything up to and including EDM. As this has Martouf alive, it's AU. I hope this fits the criteria and I hope you all enjoy.
Invisible Green Monsters
It wasn't a normal day at Stargate Command but then Samantha Carter couldn't really remember the last time a day could be described as normal. Admittedly, she mused as she smoothed the lapels of her uniform, playing host to the majority of the major allies within the Milky Way galaxy was a tad unusual even for Stargate Command. It was a signal though of how badly the allies were worried about the abortive attempt the Ori had made at a Supergate a couple of weeks before.
Sam adjusted the collar on her blouse and checked her appearance in the mirror of the locker room. She sighed and shut the metal door of her locker. Her old locker. The same one she had used since the all-female locker room had been created in the second year of Gate travel. Walter Harriman had reassigned it to her when he had welcomed her back after the attempted Supergate had prompted her permanent recall to the SGC.
She sighed. Being recalled to the SGC had meant the loss of her command in R&D and moving back to a way of life she thought she had left behind. It had been scary leaving, moving on with her life but she had done it and the two months, two weeks, three days and five hours that she had been away had been surprisingly liberating. In many ways she had enjoyed no longer being viewed as just a legendary member of SG1; enjoyed having the opportunity to delve into her science projects without the pressure of the deadline of an upcoming mission and most importantly, she had enjoyed the opportunity to have a personal life as Mrs Samantha O'Neill, wife to Jack and surrogate mother to Cassie, rather than simply being the very professional Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter.
She fingered her bare left finger. Her rings were tucked away safely in her lab. Neither she nor Jack had thought it wise to advertise their personal relationship; she had received promotions under his command and the rumours of favouritism were bad enough without seeming to substantiate them. The chain of command issue, and the fraternisation regulations that went with it, was also still a little too close for comfort for the Air Force not to insist on discretion with Jack assigned to Homeworld Security in Washington with oversight of the Stargate programme. Still, as far as Sam and Jack were concerned, their relationship was nobody's business but their own. Their old team-mates, Daniel Jackson and Teal'c, were aware of their marriage and so too was the new SGC commander, Hank Landry but that was it.
Landry was an old CO of Jack's and the two men were ostensibly friends. She and Landry, on the other hand…Sam grimaced. OK, so she felt awkward around him. She didn't know him; he barely knew her. He seemed like a good man, a little brusque and blustery, impatient with stupidity, incompetence and politics but kind, maybe even compassionate underneath. Maybe some of her discomfort came from knowing he knew about her and Jack; maybe some of it was because she assumed he'd made some judgements about her because of that. Or maybe, Sam mused, it was just because he was her new CO and they hadn't quite worked each other out yet.
They'd barely exchanged more than a couple of sentences since her arrival between dealing with the Ba'al situation and preparing for the upcoming conference. Then there had been the meeting focused on the leadership of SG1 given Sam's agreement to rejoin the team. She and Cameron Mitchell had been called into the room together where Landry had made it clear Mitchell retained command of SG1. As Mitchell was the same rank as Sam she would report to the General and given her greater level of experience there would be times when she would be assigned command of the missions rather than Mitchell. He'd told them both that he'd expect them to work it out before he had curtly dismissed them.
Mitchell had been apologetic and almost embarrassed, Sam considered, as she made her way out of the locker and to her lab. He'd arrived at the SGC expecting to join SG1 not lead it. He deserved the position though and she'd told him as much when he'd originally tried to convince her to come back and again after Landry's 'talk'. It was less paperwork, she'd joked; fewer meetings, more time for her research, less pressure; been there and worn the t-shirt already; she didn't envy him at all. She snorted. Yeah, right. She just hoped she'd sold it to him more effectively than she had sold it to herself when she had told him she would be fine just being part of SG1 again.
Sam sighed. She had thought that rejoining would be OK, like slipping into old, comfortable jeans or a favourite dress…instead it was proving to be anything but easy. She couldn't pinpoint her unease. She and Daniel had kept in touch while she had been away from the SGC, and she and Teal'c had always been close but coming back it seemed different, strange and weird. Like everything looked the same but was fundamentally different. Sure, they had been pleased to have her back and when she mentally reviewed their interactions she couldn't say they had treated her any differently than before, but it had finally hit her the previous day.
She'd gone to find Daniel to discuss a project and found him playing basketball with Teal'c and Mitchell. They'd all offered to stop playing but she had waved them back to the game saying it could wait, which it could. But. But, she'd felt excluded and worse, jealous. Excluded because they had been playing and she hadn't been invited which was just nuts because she wouldn't have joined them even if they had which probably was the reason why she hadn't been invited. Worse, she had been jealous that Mitchell was bonding so quickly with her closest friends; threatened that he would take her place with them as though his being team leader wasn't bad enough.
It was her problem, Sam thought determinedly. It was good Mitchell was fitting in well with the guys and he did deserve his role as SG1 leader. If she felt a little out of place and was finding it difficult to find her feet in the new regime that was her problem. She would handle it. She determinedly switched her computer on.
'Hey.' Jack slipped into Sam's lab and looked around amused to find it back to the way it had been before she had left. 'I like what you've done with the place, Carter.'
'Thank you, sir.' Sam smiled broadly. 'When did you get in?'
'About an hour ago.' Jack grimaced and shoved his hands in his pants' pockets to avoid the temptation to grab hold of his wife and kiss her senseless. 'I've been locked in Landry's office preparing for this little get-together we're all having.'
'I'm surprised he let you escape.' Sam noted. Her eyes fell on his tie which he'd already managed to pull askew. 'You want me to fix that?' She asked gesturing at him.
'Would you?' Jack stood still as her nimble fingers pulled the tie apart and began the process of retying it into a perfect knot. 'I've missed you.' He murmured quietly taking advantage of their closeness.
She looked up directly into his eyes and smiled again. 'I've missed you too.'
'What d'ya say we blow this off and go fishing?' he waggled his eyebrows suggestively.
She smiled. 'I think they might notice if we go missing.' She smoothed his tie. 'Sir.' She added cheekily.
Jack nodded as though in agreement. 'So…what? I'll meet you out front in ten minutes?'
She laughed outright and shook her head. 'You're incorrigible.'
'Yeah but you love me anyway.' Jack noted happily, his brown eyes gleaming with an inner joy that was mirrored briefly in Sam's.
She stepped back reluctantly. 'Your tie's done, sir.' Her hand dropped away from his chest.
'Thank you, Carter.' Jack said, his expression softened understanding the mix of frustration and guilt that flitted across her face. He knew like she did that they had to maintain a professional appearance but it was difficult being close to each other and not being able to show how they felt. His lips twisted in wry acknowledgement that they had pretty much spent the previous eight years doing exactly what they were struggling to do right then. 'I'd better head back.'
'I'll come with you.' Sam said falling into step beside him. 'General Landry wanted SG1 present when the delegates started to arrive.'
'Ah, he wants them suitably intimidated I take it?' Jack mused as they made their way to the elevator.
'I think his words were that it wouldn't hurt to remind them all what we had done for them in the past.' Sam said absently pressing the button to take them further into the mountain. 'As well as conveying how important they were to us by having the flagship team present at their arrival.'
Jack's eyebrows quirked upwards. Hank had always had a better grasp of diplomacy than him. He looked over at Sam whose gaze seemed to be transfixed to the floor counter. 'So how are things going?' He asked idly.
She shot him a suspicious look. 'Fine.'
'Settling in OK?' Jack pressed.
'Sure. Why wouldn't I be?' Sam said breezily.
Jack caught her gaze.
His knowing look had her blushing slightly. 'It's a little weird.' She admitted.
'Weird good or weird bad?' Jack asked his serious gaze giving lie to the light tone.
'Weird different.' Sam sighed. He looked so concerned that she tried a bright smile. 'It's fine.' She repeated. 'I just need a little time to get used to being back. That's all.'
Jack would have pressed her more but the elevator slid to a halt and the doors opened. He went first as protocol dictated and led the way into the briefing room. He slowed at the sight of the rest of SG1 already present with Landry and he felt rather than saw Sam stiffen a little.
'Excellent timing, Jack.' Landry said briskly. 'We were just about to start with the arrivals.'
'Lucky us.' Jack said insincerely as they made their way down to the control room.
An hour later, Jack shifted his weight from one foot to another and glanced over at his wife who was grimacing as she did the same. He winced in sympathy. He was feeling the relentless hour of standing thanks to his bad knees but at least he wasn't wearing heels.
'How many more of these?' He asked loudly not particularly caring that he sounded like a petulant child.
'Two.' Landry said with enough feeling that Jack understood his fellow General was feeling exactly the same way he did.
'The Langaran delegation.' Walter intoned over the PA system.
The blue horizon of the wormhole rippled and a single man stepped onto the ramp. He was very familiar to the original SG1 team who broke into smiles at the sight of him. He grinned back at them.
'Jonas Quinn.' Teal'c's face was lit up with pleasure. 'It is good to see you again.'
'Glad to be back,' Jonas said happily as he acknowledged them all in turn with a brief look, 'although I'd prefer different circumstances.'
'As would we.' Landry said smoothly drawing attention to himself.
'General Landry,' Jack gestured at his former team-mate, 'Jonas Quinn. Jonas, this is the SGC commander, General Landry.'
Jonas nodded. 'Daniel told me the news in his last communication.' He shook hands formally with the General before his attention turned to the dark-haired officer stood at the end of the receiving line. 'And you must be Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell.'
'That's right.' Mitchell stepped forward and shook hands with the Langaran. 'It's a pleasure to meet you.'
The incoming wormhole siren began and Jonas glanced over his shoulder as the Stargate began to light up.
'I should probably get out of your way.' Jonas said out loud.
'That would be appreciated.' Landry replied. He nodded at the waiting Airman. 'If you wouldn't mind making yourself comfortable in the briefing room with the other waiting delegates…'
'Of course.' Jonas smiled broadly at his friends. 'I'll catch up with you guys later.'
'Who's left?' Jack asked once Jonas had departed.
'This will be the Tok'ra delegation.' Landry said just before Walter confirmed it with the announcement.
Jack barely refrained from comment. The only Tok'ra he had ever been able to one hundred per cent tolerate, Selmak, had died along with her host, Jacob Carter. He worriedly glanced over to Sam again to see how she was; it was her first time interacting with the Tok'ra since her father's death. He was pleased to see Daniel and Teal'c inching closer to her on either side in silent support.
The wormhole shimmied and two Tok'ra stepped forward.
'Martouf.' Sam blurted out his name before Landry could speak and give him the official welcome. She realised it belatedly turning to her new CO apologetically. 'Apologies, General. This is Martouf.' She indicated the General. 'Martouf, this is General Landry.' She stepped back trying to assimilate her shock. Martouf, and his symbiote, had been the lover of the Tok'ra symbiote she had briefly carried unwillingly. They'd been close during the years that had followed Sam's experience when they had first met the Tok'ra but after an incident where Sam and Jack had been forced into revealing their burgeoning feelings for one another, Martouf had disappeared on a long undercover mission. His sudden appearance as the Tok'ra representative was the first time she had seen him since.
'We're pleased to welcome you back to Earth.' Landry said formally.
'As I, and my companion, am pleased to be back, General.' Martouf smiled and gestured his young companion forward. 'This is Taylen but I believe you, or rather SG1, are already familiar with his host.'
The second Tok'ra pushed his hood back revealing a bald head and bright, inquisitive brown eyes.
Jack unwittingly took a step forward. 'Charlie?' He asked incredulously.
Charlie nodded with a shy smile.
Jack reached forward and hugged the young man uncaring at how it might look. The rest of SG1 watched him fondly. They all recalled the Re'tu threat that had brought Charlie as a young boy into their lives. He had been artificially created by his Re'tu mother, an invisible insect like creature, to act as a liaison but his body had been badly compromised by the genetic manipulation and a Tok'ra symbiote had been his only chance of survival. Jack had seen him a couple of times after Charlie had gone to the Tok'ra but they had lost contact when the Tok'ra had stepped back from their alliance with the Tau'ri. Jack stepped back and grinned at him. 'You're looking good.'
Charlie nodded. 'It is good to see you too, Jack.' His brown eyes turned serious and he shifted his attention to Landry. 'I am not here to represent the Tok'ra but as another delegate, General.'
'Oh?' asked Jack before Landry could speak.
'I represent the Central Authority of the Re'tu.' Charlie said.
'Well, we're pleased to welcome you.' Landry said. 'Perhaps you could both go with the Airman who'll get you comfortable. We'll be with you shortly.'
Charlie and Martouf inclined their heads in agreement.
Martouf paused as they made to move and looked back directly at Sam. 'I look forward to catching up with you, Samantha.'
She managed to nod her head before he left.
There seemed to be a collective deep breath released in the gate room.
'Didn't the Re'tu try killing us all?' Landry asked quietly.
'No, sir.' Mitchell piped up before anyone else could speak. 'That would be the Re'tu rebels.'
Jack looked questioningly at Sam.
'He read all our mission reports, sir.'
'Really?' Jack looked over at the younger officer in disbelief. 'All of them?'
'Yes, sir.' Mitchell confirmed.
'Shall we join our guests?' Landry asked pointedly before he led the way.
Jack fell in beside Mitchell. 'Seriously, Mitchell. All of them?'
'…and on that I think we can all agree.' Landry concluded. He caught the signal from his XO and stood up. 'Ladies and gentlemen, we'll take a short break and resume in thirty minutes. If you would care to follow the Airman, he'll escort you to some refreshments. I think you'll find the chef has catered to all your needs.'
'That is most unlikely.' Kvasir, one of the Asgard, interjected colourlessly.
'Do not be so ungracious, Kvasir. I'm sure our hosts have done their best.' Thor said before he led the Asgard out of the room.
'Got to love those guys.' Jack murmured. He shot Sam a teasing look across the briefing table and she smiled.
Walter appeared by her elbow. 'Colonel Carter, Doctor Lee was looking for you earlier. He has the latest data from the Daedalus shield tests.'
'Thank you, Sergeant.' She looked hopefully at Landry who anticipated her request.
'You're excused.' He agreed readily. 'Just come back in thirty minutes.'
'Thank you, sir.' Sam nodded at Jack. 'Sir.' She hurried from the room.
Jack yanked his gaze from her derriere and straight into Landry's amused knowing look. He tried hard to keep the blush off his face but as the other General's smile grew, he figured he'd lost the battle.
'Jack.' Charlie murmured beside him.
Jack whirled away from Landry eagerly taking the distraction. 'Charlie.' He smiled widely. 'You wanna go get some cake?'
Charlie gave a half-smile and shook his head, his brown eyes serious. 'I must speak with you urgently.'
'Perhaps I should stay for his?' Landry asked brusquely.
Charlie looked towards Jack.
'He's OK.' Jack said simply.
'Let's use my office.' Landry led the way into the small room and sat behind the desk while Jack and Charlie took the available seats.
'So what's this about?' Jack asked.
Charlie's dark eyes settled on him. 'The Central Authority of the Re'tu have discovered a rebel plot to destroy the Tau'ri.'
'I thought they gave up when we kicked their invisible butts.' Jack muttered.
'News of the weapons developed against the Re'tu proved to be a deterrent,' Charlie agreed, 'and the elimination of many Goa'uld forced the rebels to reconsider their strategy against you.'
'So what's changed?' Landry asked.
'The Ori.' Jack stated with the sudden knowledge he was right.
Charlie nodded. 'The news that it was the Tau'ri who revealed the presence of the galaxy to these beings has concerned the Re'tu and angered the rebels.'
'So we should expect another attack?' Landry asked leaning forward, his hands clasped on the desktop in front of him.
'Let them come.' Jack said unbuttoning his jacket and shifting slightly. 'We've got the TERs.'
'Unfortunately, they may no longer be effective.' Charlie closed his eyes and when he reopened them, there was a brief flash of white signalling the change of control to his symbiote.
'Taylen?' Jack checked.
Taylen nodded. 'As you know the TERs are a Goa'uld designed weapon that the Tok'ra managed to acquire.'
'And which we've successfully duplicated.' Jack noted his tone a little more formal with the symbiote.
Taylen inclined his head. 'The Central Authority believe that the rebels have been experimenting with a drug that changes the chemistry of the Re'tu enough to keep them out of phase and invisible not only to the naked eye but also to the TERs.'
Jack stiffened. 'Well, that's great; that's just great.'
'Do we have any intelligence that they have been successful?' Landry asked.
Taylen shook his head. He reached into a small hidden pocket in his clothing and drew out a crystal. 'All our available intelligence has been provided by the Central Authority of the Re'tu and is contained in this crystal. We have been unable to come up with a solution. We were hoping Colonel Carter may be able to assist.'
Jack and Landry exchanged a quick look.
Landry waved at Jack. 'Tell her she's excused from the rest of today.'
Jack took the crystal from Taylen. 'Taylen, is there any chance they're already on base?'
Another bob of his head and Charlie was the one who responded. 'We do not believe they are, Jack. While it is not certain that with the changes I would still be able to see the Re'tu, Martouf has not reported any discomfort since we have arrived.'
Jack frowned. 'What about Taylen?'
'Thanks to my unique physiology Taylen does not feel the effects of the Re'tu that the other Tok'ra symbiotes are susceptible to.' Charlie informed him solemnly. He stood up. 'If you'll excuse me I should return to the other delegates.'
'Of course.' Landry acknowledged as Charlie left the office.
'You want to cancel the conference?' Jack asked when he was alone with Landry.
Landry shook his head. 'There's no evidence to say these Re'tu are on base.'
Jack pulled a face. 'I recommend a sweep of the base just in case, Hank.'
'Looking for obvious sabotage?' Landry nodded and stood up. He headed for the office door. 'I'll inform the rest of SG1.'
Jack tossed the crystal in the air and caught it again. 'I'll get Carter started on figuring a way to modify the TERs.'
'Just remember she may be excused from the conference but you're not.' Landry said pointedly.
Jack tried an innocent expression as they got into the elevator together. 'The thought hadn't crossed my mind.'
Landry snorted. 'Right.'
Sam opened the folder on the central workbench and flipped through eagerly until she reached the test results she was looking for; the Daedalus was the first 304 model; completely integrated Asgard technology unlike the Prometheus with its human design and Asgard additions. The Daedalus had already been in battle in the Pegasus galaxy and Sam was interested to know what damage had been sustained to the shields…a small frown of concentration pulled at her face as she mentally calculated the numbers in her head.
Her head whipped around so fast that she felt the vertebrae in her neck crack. 'Martouf.'
'I'm sorry,' the Tok'ra entered the lab a little tentatively, 'I didn't mean to startle you.'
'It's OK.' Sam said hurriedly. She waved him further in the room. 'How are you?'
'I am well.' Martouf said coming to stand beside her. He clasped his hands behind his back.
Sam nervously gestured at him. 'And Lantash?'
'He is well also.' Martouf's smile was warm and friendly and Sam found its familiarity soothing at an almost unconscious level. She found herself relaxing almost without thought.
'I'm surprised to see you.' She admitted.
He nodded. 'The decision to send me was taken very late otherwise I would have forewarned you of my arrival.' His eyes twinkled at her. 'It was not my intention to shock you.'
'My father said you had taken a long term assignment.' Sam probed gently moving the conversation on.
'I have been working undercover until very recently.' Martouf admitted. He looked down briefly and when he looked back up Sam recognised the change to Lantash. 'Forgive us, Samantha, but our decision to take the undercover assignment still gives Martouf emotional difficulty.'
'I wondered…if…' Sam struggled to say the thought aloud.
'If it was because of you?' Lantash smiled sadly. 'I wish I could pretend otherwise.'
Sam dropped her gaze. She gestured at him as she kept her gaze pinned to the floor. 'I knew you were both upset about the za'tarc incident.' The memory of sitting in strapped into the za'tarc chair with Jack watching as she confessed she had fallen for her CO had been one of the most difficult moments of her life. Telling Martouf the truth about her feelings later when they had dealt with the actual za'tarc Anise had been another.
'Knowing you loved another was difficult,' Lantash admitted, 'especially as we had come to love you for you, Samantha, and not just for what you carry of Jolinar.'
Sam nodded jerkily. 'I was sorry to hurt you but…'
'But you cannot help who you love.' Lantash said gently. He reached out and took her hand, interweaving their fingers as he had done when they had first met; a habit from his relationship with the symbiote Sam had carried. His eyes closed briefly and reopened; Martouf resuming control. 'You are happy now?'
'Yes,' Sam murmured as she lifted her gaze to Martouf, 'I'm very happy.'
'You and General O'Neill?' He inquired gently.
'Married.' Sam said succinctly. Her apologetic smile softened the word. 'It took a while for us to admit that it was what we wanted but we made it in the end.' Her thumb ran over the hand that held hers. 'Not many people know because…'
'I understand.' Martouf smiled at her conspiratorially and dipped his head closer to hers. 'It will be our secret.'
They were standing so close together; their bodies almost touching except for their linked hands that stayed between like a barrier. Sam's gaze snagged on Martouf's. Memories not her own washed over her; remembered love from a life she hadn't lived. She felt her body sway towards him almost of its own volition and she jerked back, shaking the feeling away hurriedly. 'Martouf…'
'Colonel.' Jack's harsh voice from the door had the two occupants of the lab dropping their joined hands hurriedly and moving a step away from each other.
Sam flushed guilty before she remembered she had nothing to feel guilty about. She stiffened and met Jack's hard brown eyes. 'Sir.'
'I was just…' Martouf hesitated as Jack turned his glare on the Tok'ra. 'I should return to the conference.'
'Yes. You should.' Jack stated bluntly.
Martouf turned back to Sam. 'It was good to see you again, Samantha.'
Sam gave a small false smile. 'You too, Martouf.' She gave a small sigh of relief as he left the lab skirting around Jack in the doorway.
There was a frigid silence.
'Jack…' Sam began anxiously when he didn't speak.
'Charlie had some new intelligence on the rebel Re'tu.' Jack cut her off brusquely. He took the couple of steps towards her and thrust the crystal at her. 'Apparently they may have found a way around the TERs making them visible.' He gestured. 'We need you to look at the data and come up with a solution.'
'Yes, sir.' Sam said automatically turning the crystal over in her hand.
'We don't think they're on base but Landry has the rest of SG1 searching for any signs of sabotage. You're all excused from the conference.' Jack shoved his hands in his pockets as she nodded in acknowledgement. 'I'll leave you to it.' He was almost out of the door when she called his name again. He spun back to her. 'This isn't the right time or place for any personal discussion, Colonel.'
She flinched as though he had hit her and straightened into a rigid military pose, her blue eyes glittering at him with hurt across the dimly lit lab. 'Sir.' Her tone in comparison was frosty, formal and pissed off.
A muscle worked in his jaw; a sign of his own anger before Jack stormed away.
Sam slumped against the lab bench and rubbed at her forehead where a tension headache was already building. 'Perfect.' She muttered. 'Just perfect.' The bite of the crystal in her palm caught her attention and she shoved the personal crisis to one side as she focused on work, happily immersing herself to prevent the nagging hurt of their argument from surfacing.
Jack avoided looking at Martouf as Richard Woolsey, the IOA watchdog for the SGC responded to a remark by Thor regarding the best strategy for watching the galaxy for another Ori Supergate. All the delegates were rapidly coming to the conclusion that even good vigilance couldn't prevent the Ori from erecting one eventually. It was a depressing and sobering thought.
'Perhaps we should break for lunch.' Landry suggested seeing the frustration around the table.
'An excellent suggestion.' Lya inclined her head and as she stood up, the rest of the delegates followed unable to argue with the gentle yet forceful spirit of the Nox.
'She has to tell me how she does that.' Landry murmured.
Jack smiled tightly and was about to reply as the male members of SG1, all informally dressed in BDUs with protective vests and holding TERs, filed back into the room past the delegates as they filed out.
Jonas hung back curious. 'Is something going on?'
Landry hesitated and looked at Jack.
The other General shrugged. 'He is one of the family, Hank.' He didn't see the look of surprised satisfaction that flitted across Jonas's face.
Landry sighed. 'We have some new intelligence about the Re'tu and we're merely taking precautions, Mr Quinn.'
'The Re'tu.' Jonas murmured crossing his arms. 'The ones that are invisible, right?'
'That's right.' Mitchell responded. 'A rebel cell invaded the SGC about six years ago…'
'The incident with Charlie.' Jonas nodded. 'I remember reading the report.'
'He read all the reports too.' Daniel said to Mitchell his blue eyes twinkling behind his glasses.
'They can compare notes later.' Jack said curtly. His gaze landed on Mitchell who shifted straight into an 'at ease' position.
'We haven't been able to find any evidence of sabotage, sir.' Mitchell confirmed formally.
Landry breathed a sigh of relief. 'Good work, Colonel.'
Daniel raised his hand slightly. 'That doesn't mean they aren't here.'
'What do you mean, Doctor Jackson?' Landry asked impatiently.
'Well, we know from what happened last time that the Re'tu are very patient. Charlie's mother was with us for weeks before she revealed her presence.' Daniel began.
'Your point.' Landry pressed.
'They could already be here,' Jonas murmured getting where Daniel was headed immediately, 'just waiting for the best moment to strike.'
'Indeed.' Teal'c's grave face spoke volumes.
'Then what are they waiting for?' Mitchell asked. 'I mean they've had all these important people sitting in the one room like a duck shoot all day.'
'Perhaps their target is not on base.' Teal'c suggested.
Landry's eyes widened. 'You mean they could have come through and left the base already?'
'We should lock-down the base and inform the delegates until we know for certain they're not on base.' Jack recommended.
Landry looked as though he wanted to argue for a moment but he nodded curtly. 'Agreed but how do we know for certain they're here?'
'After the last incident, Sam reviewed the gate room records and she was able to detect a small change in the wormhole data at the times we believed Charlie's mother and the other Re'tu came through.' Daniel said.
'So there may be similar changes in the current gate room logs.' Landry looked at him gratefully. 'I'd like you to examine the logs, Doctor Jackson, see if you can find anything.'
'I can help.' Jonas offered.
'Two heads are better than one.' Daniel agreed.
Landry gave his agreement before turning to Mitchell. 'See to the lockdown, Colonel.'
'Yes, sir.' Mitchell hurried from the room and started to issue orders to the SFs.
'I'd better inform the President and Joint Chiefs of the situation.' Landry said. 'Can you inform the delegates, Jack?'
'I will come with you, O'Neill.' Teal'c offered.
Jack managed to keep an impassive face as he nodded and Landry headed for his office.
Daniel gave Jack a sympathetic smile and handed him his TER before he turned to Jonas. 'Shall we?' He gestured at the stairs to the control room.
'Sure.' Jonas agreed readily. 'Where is Sam by the way?'
'In her lab.' Daniel said as they entered the control room and headed for a computer station. 'General Landry said she was working on the data Charlie had provided about how the Re'tu had changed their biochemistry.' He muttered absently as he tapped in his access code. 'She's working on a way to modify the TERs.'
Jonas frowned. 'Daniel, if they're here and they know Sam's working on a way to counteract their advantage…'
Daniel froze and his blue eyes flew to the Kelownan. 'They'll try and eliminate her!' He pushed his chair back forcefully and the two of them ran for the stairs.
'Jonas, get Jack and Teal'c, I'll check on Sam.' Daniel yelled as he took the elevator. He just hoped he wasn't too late.
Jack tried to clear his throat to request silence. It barely made a dent in the babbling noise of conversation around the room.
'Silence.' Teal'c said forcefully.
The room fell quiet. Teal'c inclined his head at Jack.
'Thank you.' Jack said calmly. 'Sorry to disturb your lunch, folks, but we have a small situation on base and we're going to have to ask you to stay in this room while we lock down the base.'
'Situation?' Woolsey's dark eyes widened with panic. 'What situation and why haven't I been informed?'
'I'm informing you now.' Jack pointed out sarcastically.
'You believe the rebel Re'tu are here?' Charlie realised.
'We're just taking some precautions, Charlie.' Jack said soothingly seeing the youngster's concern.
'The Re'tu?' Woolsey repeated. 'Who are they?'
'They are invisible creatures capable of much destruction.' Teal'c replied honestly clasping his hands behind his back. Woolsey blanched.
'I haven't sensed their presence.' Martouf noted stepping forward.
'Like I said, we're just being careful.' Jack retorted. 'Look, everyone just stay put.' He waved at the buffet table. 'Enjoy the food. We don't believe that you're the target.'
Thor blinked at Jack. 'Do you require our assistance, O'Neill?'
'Thanks, buddy, but I think we're OK.' Jack replied.
'Jack, if they are here,' Charlie said urgently, 'and if they know Sam is working on a countermeasure…'
Jack's brown eyes widened in horrific realisation. 'Teal'c, with me.' He snapped as he whirled on his heel and raced for the elevator. He slapped the elevator button and the doors slid open.
Jonas froze in the act of getting out. 'We think Sam's in trouble.'
'We know.' Jack muttered as he got in. He glowered as Martouf entered along with Charlie and Teal'c. 'What part of stay in the room didn't you understand?'
'I may still be able to see them.' Charlie pointed out.
'And I can sense the Re'tu.' Martouf pointed out tightly.
Only that wasn't the reason Martouf was there, Jack thought angrily. He glared at the Tok'ra who stared back at him stubbornly.
The elevator doors pinged and slid open at the floor where Sam's lab was located. Martouf immediately grasped his head and sank to the floor.
'Get down!' Jack yelled pulling Charlie down with him. Teal'c dropped immediately and yanked Jonas out of the way as an energy weapon sizzled over their heads and impacted the back wall of the elevator.
'I can see them!' Charlie confirmed. 'There is a green blob there!' he pointed urgently and Jack fired his TER. The bolt impacted something which blew apart.
'Are there any more in the corridor?'
Charlie peered around the corner tentatively. 'No.'
'Good. Stay here! All of you!' Jack stared hard at Charlie and Martouf as Jonas nodded his agreement. 'Teal'c, cover me.'
Teal'c took a covering position at the door and Jack moved out. He crept down the corridor and waved over his shoulder for Teal'c to follow. The Jaffa strode purposefully down the corridor and took a position at the corner of the corridor. They both froze as they heard shots. They peered around the corner anxiously; the corridor appeared to be empty and the shots were coming from inside Sam's lab. Just as they made to duck behind the corner, another shot originated from the centre of the apparently empty corridor.
Jack signalled Teal'c silently and the Jaffa nodded. He reached into his vest and pulled out a grenade. He checked the empty corridor again and threw the grenade. The resulting explosion sounded loudly and Jack hurried down the corridor almost without waiting for the smoke and debris to subside.
Teal'c and he took positions either side of the door. A quick look inside revealed Sam and Daniel hiding behind one side of the central workbench.
Sam took a breath and stood up. She wielded the modified TER and picked up two living Re'tu and one dead on the other side in a green beam that highlighted the invisible insect-like creatures. She settled on one and fired. It blew apart just as the one beside it fired a shot; the TER beam caught it and Jack fired from the doorway. It went down but not before its blast caught Sam spinning her backwards into the bench on the far side.
Jack hurried over to her gesturing at Teal'c to guard the door. 'What happened?'
'Daniel managed to warn me just as I figured out the right setting.' Sam answered.
Daniel winced as he probed her shoulder gently. 'This doesn't look good, Sam.'
'Ah.' Sam grimaced in pain as she gingerly looked at the bloody flesh of her upper arm. 'No kidding.'
'Did we get them all?' Daniel asked.
'I believe so.' Teal'c murmured from the doorway. The sound of running footsteps down the corridor had him tensing before he relaxed at the sight of Mitchell.
'What happened?' Mitchell asked.
'The Re'tu attempted to kill Colonel Carter.' Teal'c answered.
'Are you OK, Sam?' Mitchell looked across the lab and she nodded.
'Just a flesh wound.' She said firmly.
'We should do a sweep of the base to be certain.' Jack said. 'Daniel, get Carter to the infirmary.'
'Wait.' Sam handed him her TER while she avoided his eyes. 'This should help, sir. Doctor Lee should be able to modify the rest to the same settings.'
'Good work.' Jack said.
His sincerity had Sam's gaze flying up to meet his. They exchanged a long look and she nodded hesitantly. 'Thank you, sir.'
Daniel nudged her. 'Come on. Let's get you to the infirmary.'
Jack pushed a hand through his grey hair as he watched them leave. 'Mitchell.'
'Yes, sir.' Mitchell responded crisply.
'Coordinate with Doctor Lee to get more TERs adjusted and see to the sweep.' Jack ordered handing him the TER. 'I'd better get back to the conference.'
'Yes, sir.' Mitchell stopped by Teal'c. 'You coming, big guy?'
'I will ensure Colonel Carter's lab is cleaned up.' Teal'c said formally.
Surprise flickered briefly across Mitchell's face before he ran off taking the small group of SFs who had followed him to investigate the explosions and weapons fire with him.
'She'll appreciate that, T.' Jack murmured as he passed him in the doorway.
Teal'c inclined his head. 'Indeed.'
The wormhole blossomed outward before it settled back into a shimmering blue puddle. Jack never got tired of seeing it and it helped soothe him as he waited impatiently to say goodbye to the last of the delegates.
Charlie shook hands with Landry before moving in front of Jack. They hugged briefly.
'It was good to see you again.' Jack said.
'It was good to see you too, Jack.' Charlie smiled shyly. 'Now the alliance between our two people has been healed I hope to see you again soon.'
'I'd like that.' Jack agreed.
Charlie moved away and Martouf took his place.
Jack's face tightened. 'Martouf.'
The Tok'ra took a deep breath and reached inside his tunic. He drew out a battered photo and handed it to Jack. 'I meant to give this to Samantha earlier. Jacob left a few of his belongings with us. I found this amongst them and I believe Samantha would appreciate its return.'
Jack took the picture and turned it over. It showed a happy Carter family before the death of Sam's mother. He raised his eyes to Martouf. 'Yes. She would.' He said. 'Thank you.'
Martouf bowed a little before he walked away, up the ramp and into the wormhole. Charlie followed him and the blue winked out leaving an empty space.
Landry clasped Jack's shoulder briefly before he headed back to the control room. Jack wandered out of the gate room as he placed the photo in the inside pocket of his jacket. He headed for the infirmary without thinking about it consciously and he was outside the treatment room before he realised where he had ended up. Voices drifted out and into the corridor; Teal'c; Jonas; Daniel; Mitchell and Sam. For a moment Jack rested against the wall and let the sound of her alive and vibrant wash over him. He straightened and strode inside.
Mitchell jumped up and Jack waved at him to relax.
'You don't need to keep jumping up all the time, Mitchell.' Jack muttered. He missed Mitchell's taken aback expression because his own brown eyes were focused on Sam who sat on the edge of a bed with her upper arm wrapped in a bandage. 'So what's the damage?'
'Flesh wound, sir.' Sam pulled a face.
'Doctor Lam has ordered Colonel Carter to leave the base and rest.' Teal'c informed him.
'I'll drive you.' Jack said. He smiled wryly. 'It's on my way.'
Sam gave a small but appreciative smile. 'Thank you, sir.'
'I should really get back to Langara.' Jonas said catching their attention.
'You could stay.' Jack offered lightly.
'Wish I could.' Jonas said fervently. 'But duty calls.'
Jack nodded; he understood.
'Thanks for staying behind to check on me.' Sam said giving Jonas a fond punch on the arm.
'We will escort you to the gate room, Jonas Quinn.' Teal'c said indicating himself, Daniel and Mitchell.
'Right.' Daniel patted Sam's good shoulder. 'We'll stop by later and see how you are.'
Sam caught Mitchell's face as it fell. 'Don't you guys have a basketball game planned?'
'Well…' Daniel shot a look at Mitchell.
'I don't mind.' Mitchell immediately assured him. 'We can play ball anytime.'
'Indeed.' Teal'c agreed.
Sam's lips twitched as Mitchell failed to hide his disappointment a second time. 'Why don't you stop by too, Cam?'
'Bring pizza.' Jack ordered as the others ushered the Air Force officer out the room.
An hour later Jack and Sam pulled up in front of the apartment Sam had rented. It was small but it was all they needed. They were still discussing whether to try and buy a property in Colorado Springs.
Jack closed the front door and looked at the unpacked boxes with amusement. He watched Sam tiredly lower herself onto the sofa. He made his way over and settled down beside her on her good side. She shifted and he let his arm slide around her shoulders nudging her closer. 'You want some painkillers?' He asked gently.
'I'm good.' She mumbled against his jacket.
'I see that.' He teased softly. He pressed his lips together thoughtfully and with his free hand drew out the photo Martouf had given him. 'Here.'
'What is it?' Sam asked taking it from him.
'Martouf found it in some stuff your Dad left with the Tok'ra.' Jack explained. 'He thought you might want to have it.'
Sam's eyes filled with tears as her fingers traced over the picture. 'This was taken just before my Mom died.'
'I figured.' Jack stroked her back as she swiped at her eyes. He sighed. 'I guess Martouf would've given it to you himself if I hadn't interrupted.' He felt her tense beside him.
She shifted to look at him, her blue eyes still damp. 'You have to know nothing happened.'
'I know.' Jack wiped away a stray tear with his thumb. 'I trust you.'
'Really?' Sam remarked. 'Because for a minute there…'
'I don't trust him.' Jack pointed out forcefully before he sighed again. 'And I may have, might have been just a tiny bit…' he struggled to get the final word out.
'Jealous?' Sam suggested archly.
'That.' Jack admitted dropping his gaze shamefacedly.
She settled back against him and he held her, nuzzling her hair.
'You know I thought it would be easy.' Sam murmured as her fingers played with the buttons on her jacket.
'Us pretending we're not together at work?' Jack said. 'Yeah. I thought so too.'
'Actually, I meant the whole thing; pretending…coming back here…being part of SG1 again.' Sam rested her head against his shoulder as she stared up at the ceiling. 'I hate it.'
Jack's hand paused in stroking her blonde hair away from her face. 'You don't mean that.'
Sam sighed. 'No.' She admitted. 'I don't. It's just hard.'
'It'll get better.' Jack said.
She moved and looked at him as though assessing his belief in the statement.
'It is different now.' Jack mused. 'You and me being at the SGC together, working together.'
'It's weird isn't it?' Sam said. 'I mean we went for years working together, loving each other and denying how we felt and managed OK yet now we're married…'
'Whole new ball game.' Jack admitted pushing a strand of her hair behind her ear. 'And it's not easy not telling people.'
'Which is why I guess we're telling Mitchell.' There was a hint of a question in his voice.
She nodded. 'He is leading SG1 now.'
'It's your decision.' Jack said. 'You're the one who has to work with him the most. I'm only going to be here occasionally.'
Sam smoothed a hand down his chest and raised an eyebrow at him. 'So we should probably make the most of our time together.' She shifted and rubbed her lips against his teasingly before he slid his hand into her hair and nudged her forward again, deepening the kiss.
The doorbell rang.
They broke apart reluctantly.
'Whose idea was this again?' Jack asked irritated.
'Daniel's.' Sam remembered as she untangled her fingers from his silver hair.
'I might have known.' Jack muttered under his breath. 'You stay put.'
Sam smiled and snuggled into the sofa cushions. She could hear the guys' voices and closed her eyes. They were all there for her, she realised contentedly; Teal'c and Daniel and Mitchell and…Jack. Maybe it wasn't going to be so bad after all, she thought. A smile drifted across her lips as she gave up on consciousness and slipped into sleep.