Title: Holding the Line
Category: Gen, Missing Scene for Line in the Sand
Characters: Cameron Mitchell, Teal'c
Spoilers: Through Line in the Sand
A/N: Thank you to daisycm83 for the short notice beta.
Summary: The Ancients had started all this. They'd invented the damned gates and then left them behind like so many intergalactic landmines. How could they have been so blind to what would come after?
Real friendship is shown in times of trouble; prosperity is full of friends -- Euripides
Cam stayed with Sam all the way back to the infirmary, refusing to leave her side until Doctor Lam threatened to call in the SF's. Even then, he made her swear she would call him as soon as she knew anything. She'd glared at him, reminded him that she knew her job, and shut the door firmly in his face.
With nothing to do but wait, Cam had showered, attended the debriefing, and returned to his office where he'd attempted to lose himself in paperwork. Hours had passed, and Cam had found it increasingly difficult to concentrate on his work. Every few minutes his gaze would wander to his watch, and then to his phone, and finally to his email inbox, all of which remained frustratingly uncooperative. Finally, he'd shoved the files aside in favor of wandering the base.
The overhead lights in the briefing room were off, and Cam didn't bother turning them on as he crossed to the window. For some reason, the blast doors were closed. He reached over to flip the switch, waiting while the steel panel slid out of the way to reveal the gate room below, the gate itself bathed in the reflected glow of the security lighting. The duty roster in the SGC was twenty-four seven, with the night watch almost as busy as the day watch. And yet somehow, it felt like the base was asleep.
He didn't know how long he'd been standing there when he sensed Teal'c's presence behind him.
He turned. "Teal'c. Any news?"
Teal'c nodded. "Doctor Lam requested that I tell you Colonel Carter is out of surgery and resting comfortably."
A weight dropped from Cam's shoulders, and he blew out a sigh of relief. "Did she say when we can see her?"
"She expects Colonel Carter to sleep for several hours."
Cam nodded and turned back to the window. Sam would be fine. It was good news, and yet somehow he didn't feel like celebrating.
"Are you unwell, Colonel Mitchell?" There was concern in Teal'c's voice, and Cam's first instinct was to do what he always did - wave off the comment with a joke and a smile. Only somehow he couldn't do that this time.
"Just...kinda got a lot on my mind, Teal'c."
Teal'c didn't answer, but he didn't leave, either.
Cam looked across at the Stargate and remembered his first day at the SGC. He'd stood at the top of the ramp and stared at the gate in awe. It had seemed elegant, then. Regal. A benevolent monarch. Now, less than two years later, he looked at it and saw indifference, and arrogance and condescension.
A flash of anger burned through him. The Ancients had started all this. They'd invented the damned gates and then left them behind like so many intergalactic landmines. How could they have been so blind to what would come after?
"Do you ever get tired of it all?" he asked. There was bitterness in his voice, Cam knew. Bitterness, and frustration, and anger.
"I do not understand." It was a calm statement of fact. Not much ruffled Teal'c's stoic demeanor.
Cam's thoughts were like a nest of snakes he'd once uncovered in the vacant field behind his grandma's house. He struggled to wrangle them into some kind of sense. "You've been fighting this damned war for almost ten years," he said. "Ten freaking years. And every time, every single time we make a little headway something pops up to smack us back down."
"Many Jaffa warriors spend their entire lives in battle." Teal'c said, his tone matter-of-fact.
"How do you..." Cam gestured at the gate. What he really wanted to do right now was nuke the damned thing which, he knew, would be totally pointless. But it'd make him feel better. "Where do you find the will to keep going?"
"Are you suggesting we surrender, Colonel Mitchell?" There was something of disappointment in Teal'c's calm voice.
"No." Cam would never surrender. The fight was on, the battle joined, and Cam would die before walking away from it. But that didn't mean he couldn't be pissed off at the mysterious Others who had set them up for this all those years ago. "I've been here less than two years, and we've already had our asses kicked all over the damned universe. We've lost Jackson, almost lost Sam... Hell, you lost an entire planet!" Teal'c tensed at the reminder, and Cam, realizing that he'd gone too far, scrubbed a hand through his hair. "Geez, I'm sorry. That was out of line."
"There is no need to apologize."
Only there was, Cam thought. Daniel, Teal'c, and Sam had had a chance at peace, a chance at lives without the weight of the universe on their shoulders. And God knew they'd earned it. But no. Like a frustrated toddler he'd pitched a fit and dragged them all back. And look what it had gotten them.
Several minutes passed before Teal'c spoke again, and when he did, Cam was once again amazed at the man's ability to get to the heart of things.
"Had it not been for your presence," Teal'c said. "Would not Colonel Carter have died?"
"If it hadn't been for me, she wouldn't have been there in the first place." And despite everything that had happened, he truly believed that. Because this was his team, and they were his people, and it was his responsibility to keep them alive, damn it. But the numbers...the numbers were telling him he wasn't doing such a great job, and now, with Daniel gone, and Teal'c's people scattered to the winds, and Sam lying in the infirmary half dead...He was thinking maybe General O'Neill had made a terrible mistake in choosing him to pick up the leadership of the SGC's flagship team.
He shook his head. Him and his naive enthusiasm. Him and his ridiculous sense of adventure. He'd jumped into this like it was some kind of game, a scavenger hunt for the Knights of the Round Table. Only it wasn't a game. It wasn't a game at all.
"As I recall," Teal'c said. "It was General Landry who ordered the mission."
But Cam waved that off. "I'm the reason Sam's even on the team, Teal'c. Hell, I'm the reason you and Jackson are here as well." He wouldn't claim responsibility for Vala, because he still wasn't entirely sure how that had happened.
"Had we not wished to rejoin SG-1, we would not have."
It was true, Cam knew, and yet somehow it didn't go far to ease his sense of responsibility.
Below them, the gate came to life, the giant ring announcing the imminent arrival of...something. Cam and Teal'c tensed, but no alarms sounded, so Teal'c continued their conversation. "General O'Neill is a great warrior," he said. "Do you not agree?"
Cam blinked. The change of topic had taken him by surprise. "One of the best."
Teal'c nodded. "He, too, often expressed frustration when things did not go well."
But he'd never given up, Cam knew. In fact, from what he'd heard, the tougher things had gotten, the more determined the general had become.
"Yes," Cam said. "I've heard the stories."
Teal'c almost smiled at that. "Indeed." Below them, another chevron engaged. "General O'Neill would not have chosen you had he not thought you worthy."
It was a fact Cam was well aware of, and one that lived, always, at the back of his mind. Was he worthy? Jack O'Neill apparently thought so, and yet just now, Cam himself wasn't so sure.
"Everybody makes mistakes."
"That is true, Colonel Mitchell," Teal'c said. "However, I do not believe that General O'Neill made a mistake when he chose you to lead SG-1." He held Cam's gaze while he said it. Then he stepped back, turning away from the window. "I must go. Vala Maldoran has requested I teach her the ancient art of lok'nel."
"The martial arts thing?"
This should be good, Cam thought. Discipline and Vala weren't exactly on friendly terms. "Mind if I tag along?"
Teal'c's eyes twinkled faintly as he inclined his head. "I would be honored."
As they turned away from the window, Teal'c glanced over at Cam. "My people have a saying."
Teal'c nodded as the power surge from an outgoing wormhole bathed the room in a momentary glow. "If you continue to fight yesterday's battles, you will never triumph over tomorrow's."
"Huh," Cam said. "Gramma used to say that if God meant for us to worry about the past he'd have put eyes in the back of our heads. Guess that's kind of the same thing."
In the infirmary, Sam started the slow and painful process of recovery, and in the gateroom, SG-3 prepared to embark upon their next mission.