A/N: This chapter is set after "Hathor" but before saving the world became just another day at the SGC. I am so not a science person so please cut me some slack here. Besides, it's not the science in this chapter that matters. : D
Being 'The Girl'
"That's the girl whose supposed to save us all from certain doom at the hands of xenophobic aliens?"
Sam closed her eyes and forced the disbelievingly hissed words out of her head, knowing she couldn't afford the distraction right now. Her fingers flew over the keyboard, writing lines of command code faster than her eyes could check it for errors. Usually she would have someone checking over her work as she went, the extra set of eyes acting as insurance against a typo making its way into the final program, but there was no time for such a luxury right now.
She had less than three minutes to rewrite the code for the iris over the stargate. If she couldn't finish in time, the energy wave coming through the open wormhole would overload the stargate's energy retention capacity and cause the gate to explode, taking a sizable chunk of Earth along with it.
"Carter?" Colonel O'Neill, inquired from the gate room, the command in his voice cutting through her concentration. He, along with Teal'c, Major Feretti, Sergeant Siler and a few others were down there, armed with only insulated gloves, trying to force the iris to close manually.
Not able to risk the error that talking might force her to make, Sam simply shook her head and refocused.
All eyes in the room were swinging back and forth between her and the monitor over her head, counting down the time left before the gate overloaded. No one had said anything yet, but Sam knew everyone was wondering which would finish first: her or the countdown.
To her left, the familiar voices of Daniel and General Hammond occasionally broke through the mental barrier she'd erected between her and the outside world. Both were attempting to convince the aliens on the other side of the wormhole to shut down the device that was threatening to overload their stargate and had so effectively fried the controls for the iris. No one really believed that they would achieve anything at this point, but it gave them both something to do and so they continued the one-sided negotiation.
Her racing heart began to slow as she neared the end of the code. Despite the speed at which she'd been forced to work, Sam was confident that she hadn't made any mistakes thus far. She couldn't have explained it if she tried, she just knew somehow. Now was the time when she needed to be the most careful though; the relief of reaching the end threatened to make her sloppy at the exact moment she could least afford to make a mistake.
With a triumphant "done!" she saved the frantically written program and began uploading it to the main control computers. Sparing a glance at the countdown overhead, Sam saw that there was a little less than a minute and a half left now.
As the program began to upload, Sam allowed herself to become fully aware of her surroundings once more. The control room was buzzing, crowded with a few dozen people all trying to contribute somehow to the solution they so desperately needed. When she'd been writing code, she hadn't allowed herself to acknowledge it, but now that there was nothing left to do but wait, she couldn't ignore it any longer. Here she sat, surrounded by the people who had so doubted her abilities since she'd been posted to the SGC, and now they had been given no choice but to literally place the fate of the world in her hands. Sam knew it wasn't just the clock ticking ever closer to zero that had everyone on edge.
"How much longer?" Colonel O'Neill bellowed from down in the gate room, his impatience clear. They were cutting things way too close as far as he was concerned.
"The new program is 95 percent uploaded, sir," Sam replied, watching the progress bar slowly fill. Long seconds later she announced, "100 percent of the new program uploaded; running the program now!"
And then her fingers were flying over the keyboard once more. A hush fell over the room, even Daniel and General Hammond abandoning their futile attempts at negotiation in favor of watching her work. As soon as she got the program running, her fingers stilled on the keyboard in front of her; the absence of her clacking left the room deathly still.
Another glance at the countdown showed that there were just 23 seconds left for Sam's new program to either work or not. Even as they hoped for her to succeed, Sam suspected most of the people clustered behind her were saying their prayers; they'd spent too long doubting her to muster much faith in her now.
With 14 seconds remaining on the clock, a grating sound rose up from the gate room, causing the men still struggling to force the iris shut to jump back in alarm. For a few heart stopping seconds the grating sound continued but there was no movement from the iris. Then, to the collective relief of everyone in the room, the panels of the iris lurched into motion and closed over the wormhole, sealing Earth off from the hostile aliens on the other side.
The room erupted into cheers and Sam slumped back in her chair, not partaking in the celebration and choosing instead to relish the fact that they were all still alive. Glancing up at the clock one last time, the number seven stood as evidence of just how close they'd come to the apocalypse.
A warm hand landed on her shoulder and she looked up, meeting Daniel's grinning face with a tired smile of her own. A quick squeeze was all he had time to offer before his other hand was grabbed in a celebratory handshake and he was hauled off. Sam didn't mind that she wasn't being included; she was too busy trying to hide the adrenaline-fuelled tremor in her hands to celebrate.
Standing, Sam cast about the room before her eyes landed on General Hammond, shaking hands with one of the scientists assigned to SG-6. He caught her eye and nodded, the simple gesture meaning more to her than pages of praise recorded in her personnel file ever could.
"Carter?" Colonel O'Neill's voice boomed, ringing out loud and clear over the din.
Turning, she spotted him bounding up the control room stairs with a wide grin, his pride in her written plain on his face.
"That's my girl!" he whooped, making a beeline for her and wrapping her up in a bear hug that lifted her clear off the ground.
As she hovered in the air, blushing like crazy while her CO squeezed the living daylights out of her, Sam decided that maybe being 'the girl' wasn't such a bad thing after all.
A/N: And now our little Sam is all grown up and comfortable in her own skin! Most of the time, at least. : )