Spoilers for SGA Season Five episode 'Search and Rescue'

Closing Ranks

Sam is very close to staring completely agog at Woolsey, but she knows that is still better than her first impulse (punch him out), or her second (laugh hysterically at the thought of him in charge of Atlantis). Before she can recover enough to analyze what her fourth impulse might be, Vala rushes in, elbowing Woolsey out of the way and pulling Sam into a fierce hug.

"You don't mind if I whisk Sam off, now do you, Mr. Woolsey?" The way Vala drags out his name is a bit like a schoolyard taunt, and she doesn't bother to wait for his reply, steering Sam out of the gate room. They are definitely not yet out of hearing range when Vala vents. "Odious little man, he just had to tell you in the middle of the gate room. I swear, I'd love to drop him into a Goa'uld ga'trell, if they still existed."

Sam doesn't know what a ga'trell is, but Vala's umbrage on her behalf is almost enough to take the edge off her shock.


In the hallway, Vala pulls her luggage out of her grasp, dropping it at the feet of one of the guards. "You'll see that these things get to Colonel Carter's quarters, won't you, handsome?"

It's definitely not within the bounds of his duties, but once again, before Sam can say anything, Vala is dragging her down the hallway. She has no time to do anything other than shoot an apologetic glance back over her shoulder. Amazingly, the guard just waves, not looking particularly put out.

Vala has obviously been using her time on base wisely this last year.

In the elevator, Vala continues to loudly disparage Woolsey and Sam works steadily from shock to outright anger. Which is why, as Vala escorts her into Daniel's office in which all of SG-1 past and present are waiting for her, the first thing out of her mouth is, "Does somebody care to tell me what the hell just happened?"

Cam pales a bit, his eyes darting to Vala. "He didn't."

"Oh, but he did," Vala says, hopping up on the edge of the desk. "Right there in the gate room, not even a full minute after she came through. Cockroach."

Daniel curses softly and Teal'c looks supremely displeased. Sam idly wonders if Woolsey might be better off in a ga'trell rather than face Teal'c's wrath.

Did she really just get fired?

Her eyes swing to the last person in the room, the man with greatest chance of actually explaining what is going on.

Jack shrugs from where he sits, appearing relaxed even though he's watching her intently. "I told the IOA they were all fucking idiots."

Oh God, Sam thinks. This is really happening.

Relieved of command without even a moment to say goodbye, to wrap things up. Dumped right there on the gate room floor like some unwanted hand-me-down, just as she was finally, finally finding solid footing.

That's what makes it worse. The fact that everything had begun to feel as if it was finally coming together, like she really belonged there. It hadn't been easy, far from it, but it had been hers. Her first real command.

And to lose it like this…

She tries to imagine the reactions of everyone on Atlantis when they realize she isn't coming back.

There is still so much she wanted to do.

Anger abandons her then, leaving her with something much, much worse. She leans back against the wall, one hand coming up to cover her eyes. She is not going to cry about this. She absolutely refuses to.

There's the shuffle of movement and the soft sound of a door closing and by the time Sam risks looking up, Jack is the only one left.

She glances around the nearly empty room, pushing off the wall to drop down into Daniel's vacated chair before her traitorous legs decide to dump her too.

Jack steps up behind her, his hands gently squeezing her shoulders. "They all went to short sheet Woolsey's bed," he explains.

Sam tries to muster amusement at the visual of SG-1 skulking about the base pulling pranks, but all she manages is a feeble smile. I really missed them, she thinks, taking some small comfort in their indignation on her behalf, in being so easily reintegrated into the fold that she can't help but wonder if she'd been the crazy one, thinking she could ever be anything different.

"It's really good to be home," she says, her voice wavering slightly. Dammit, she really wasn't going to do this. Not here.

Jack shifts, his hands tightening on her shoulders. "It's completely political, Sam. You know that."

She closes her eyes and slouches further down in her seat. "Maybe. But that's not really what it feels like."

Right now, it feels like failure.

Sam nearly loses her balance when Jack abruptly spins her chair around until she is facing him, bracing his hands on either side of her. "Carter," he says, clipping the word short with such familiarity that part of her brain tries to snap to attention.

She ends up trying to scoot back up in her seat with some form of dignity.

Leaning closer, Jack speaks very clearly. "You are not going to let a bunch of stuffed up civilians in love with the sound of their own voices make you doubt yourself."

She wants to make some caustic remark about pep talks, but it's pretty clear he's in no mood for it. Plus, she's sort of in awe of the slight tic next to his right eye, the one she's witnessed very few times over the years.

He is really, really pissed.

That shouldn't make her feel better, but bizarrely, it does. It means something. It's nice to know that no matter what, she still has him in her corner.

"Thank you," Sam says, reaching for his hand.

He stares at her for a moment, looking for something, but eventually nods, apparently satisfied. Straightening, he pulls her up with him. "Let me know when you need to hear it again."

"Okay," she agrees, giving him a wry smile.

She's not fine with losing Atlantis, not by a long shot. But coming back to Earth doesn't have to be the end of her world, not with her team here to close ranks around her. And maybe if they tell her a few hundred more times that this reassignment had nothing to do with her, she just might believe them.

As for Atlantis, every person there has proven themselves over and over again. She trusts them and their abilities implicitly. They will survive Woolsey.

Now, as to whether Woolsey will survive them…

Sam feels a particularly wicked smirk spread across her face.

"What?" Jack asks, looking a little alarmed at the sudden transformation.

She shakes her head. "I'm just imagining the welcome Woolsey will get when he goes to Atlantis to assume command."

Jack lifts his eyebrows. "Bad?"

Sam remembers her own welcome from Ronon that first day so long ago. And he hadn't started out with any particular reason to dislike her. "Oh," she says, smiling fondly at the memory, "you have no idea."

It probably isn't professional to sound quite so gleeful, but today? She doesn't care.

"Evil, Carter," Jack says.

She thinks he sounds awfully proud.

"So," Sam says, pulling Jack towards the door. "What do you say we get the others off base before someone lets Vala use her imagination and we all live to regret it?"

"I say… Welcome home, Carter."