Title: Just Another Casualty
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Pairing: Sam/Jack Angst
Summary: "Tired of holding on to something that I can never have…"
Disclaimer: All known characters and premises belong to their respective owners. So there.
Notes: Episode manipulation of S7's Chimera. Set right after the infamous elevator scene. AU.
"Bit uncomfortable, isn't it?"
She chewed on her lip, words tumbling out of her mouth in quick succession. "Yeah, a bit." She let out an audible sigh when the elevator doors slid open at a painfully slow speed, and watched her commanding officer move past her with a quick exit.
"Thank you Sir." She paused, watching him retreat towards his quarters. She clicked the button to continue her journey upwards, still watching his form. She stuck her hand out, stopping the elevator doors from shutting completely, and pried them open. She couldn't leave this unfinished. There had been too many emotions swimming around them that needed to breathe.
She began to follow his unintentional lead, stopping a good number of steps away as he disappeared into his quarters, closing the door behind him. Waiting a few seconds, she breathed deeply before knocking on his door. When no answer greeted her, she tested the doorknob, not surprised to find it unlocked.
Premature words danced across her tongue, but unsupported by the breath she was holding, no sound surfaced. She exhaled softly, heart hammering wild in her chest.
"We're just seeing each other…it's never been serious," she began, closing the door lightly behind her, afraid to ignite the confrontation she knew was brewing.
"Yeah? And what about you and that cop fellow? That casual too?"
She flinched at his tone, dismissive and intentionally poisonous. It was human nature after all, hurt the ones who hurt you.
"So that's it then? All this to tide you over until you found someone -"
"- how can you say that? I couldn't make anymore excuses; why I'm single and not looking was beyond my brother's comprehension. He kept pushing and pushing -"
"- and you couldn't have told him to back off? That you've found someone already -"
"- he'd want to meet him -"
"- fine, that you don't have time because of your job -"
"- because I'm tired of hiding!" Her outburst silenced him. "Tired of the secrecy."
"Tired of holding on to something that I can never have…"
The words instilled a thick tension in the room, the harshness and reality of the situation settling uneasily.
"You really believe that. That we could never…"
He had trailed off, his voice soft yet hurt, causing her to avert her eyes.
A knock sounded, interrupting any further conversation but adding to the discomfort that lay suspended.
She glanced at him and then turned to the door, standing up immediately when the General stepped in.
She nodded back a greeting, snapping a quick salute to him. She felt both sets of eyes on her as she began a hasty exit. "I was just leaving, Sirs."
His single-worded command stopped her still, hand on the door knob, body rigid. She wasn't sure who had stopped her, Colonel O'Neill or Jack O'Neill. The man who she had sworn to obey, or the man she had grown to love, as they spent quiet intimate evenings together. It had never progressed to anything further than light kisses and close company, but the fraternization regulations still limped its way into their time together, sparking discussions and arguments.
"Colonel, is there a reason for this impromptu meeting, in the confines of your quarters?"
She knew that the General had glanced at her, could feel the suspicion in his tone, apprehension slightly coating each word.
"Of course, Sir."
She turned, oddly comforted by the cool composure emanating from her commanding officer.
Her eyes went wide, surprised not only by the statement, but also by the General's unmoved reaction to his finest quitting the team.
"Jack. We've talked about this, hell we talk about it once a week. I don't know how many times I gotta tell you but your request is denied."
She watched the Colonel hand the paper to the General none-the-less, ignoring the annoyed look that crossed the older man's face.
"Gonna keep handing you one each week, Sir."
"Yeah well, I already have a file cabinet reserved just for you…"
There was a twinkle of humour that she caught slipping out of the General and chewed on it curiously.
"Anything to sway your decision, Colonel?"
She watched his eyes slide over to her, saw him hesitate for just a beat.
The harmony of "Sir" and "Jack" didn't seem to sway his intentions, and she allowed herself a seat, heavily leaning on the table as she awaited his response.
"I want the frat regs abolished."
She narrowed her eyes, noting the twitch of humour returning to the General's air.
"For me and Carter, anyway."
She swallowed hard, dropping her eyes to the table, staring at her hands splayed out against the pale faux-wood surface.
"For you and Major Carter."
She closed her eyes, letting out a breath.
"Of course nothing has happened yet Sir. We just…we just want the opportunity to…"
She inwardly thanked the General for interrupting anymore embarrassments that the Colonel could produce. He was a damn good soldier, the best leader she could ever hope for, a caring and honest friend and despite never being exposed to it, she knew he was a loving and passionate lover. But one thing Jack O'Neill was not, was a good politician. She was surprised words were still able to surface every time he put his foot in his mouth. Sometimes she was sure his foot was in so deep that he could probably lick his kneecap.
"That's it? Alright. As in yes?"
Her eyes jerked to the General. Could it have been that easy? All this time, all they had to do was -
"- alright as in I'll talk to my superiors."
"Oh. Okay. Well that's a start, right Carter?"
She inched her eyes to meet his, opening her mouth but still unsure as to what to say. Luckily the General had chose that moment to take his leave, not before throwing the Colonel a meaningful look - one that she wasn't able to decipher, but one she knew she was the subject of.
"Well that went well."
She watched him sit down on his bed, knees bent and arms lazily dangling off them.
"I should go, Sir."
She met his gaze, her sad one exchanging sorrow with his. "Goodnight Sir." The last thing she heard was a soft sigh, followed by a whispered 'night Carter' as she closed the door.
She stopped by his quarters, knocking lightly and awaiting a response. Her brow furrowed when he didn't answer his door, and she tested the knob as she had before the weekend had come and gone. Before the possibility of an opportunity was laid to rest in front of her, presented on a rarely-seen silver platter.
Once again, she found it unlocked, but something in her stomach was telling her not to open it. She felt ill, but went against her gut instinct and slowly inched the door open.
She took a step back, mouth slightly open and breath held. Walking inside, she took in the barren room, noting that everything that had held some memory of Jack O'Neill had been stripped. The room was just cold now, with a table, a single bed donned with fresh linens and a small bedside table with a lamp on it. She walked over, fingers tracing the table - the same one she had sat at two nights before.
She turned abruptly, having felt him before actually hearing his voice. "Your stuff…" She left the observation hanging, hating to point out the obvious. She walked up to him, where he stood leaning against the door jam.
"I take it the frat regs weren't overturned?" She asked, her voice soft and unemotional. She fingered the visitor clearance name tag that he had pinned to his t-shirt. "Must feel good to be in your civvies."
She purposely kept her voice flat, almost as if trying to put a lid on the nausea that was bubbling inside of her.
"It'd feel better after I do this…"
She closed her eyes, neither moving in to his intent nor moving away, her heart and mind still in conflict. She parted her lips, barely feeling the surprisingly softness of his brush against, before a voice disturbed them.
"Sam. You're right, this place is huge!"
Pulling back abruptly, she dropped her head to her chest, physically unable to see the pain that she knew was lingering in her former CO's eyes. "Pete. This is Jack O'Neill. My Commanding Offi -"
She cringed, still not looking in his direction. "Colonel, this is Pete Shanahan -"
" - not a Colonel anymore, Carter."
"Right. Not anymore." He was avoiding being introduced and she was avoiding him. She shivered slightly, feeling the nausea build. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt someone, let alone him.
"Hey, nice to meet you!"
Leave it to Pete to be completely unaware of the tension, she mused angrily. She knew the anger was misguided, knew that it should have been directed at herself for playing with not only their emotions, but hers as well. She watched from the corner of her eye as Jack shook Pete's offered hand, feeling his gaze on her despite the younger man's ramblings.
"Not necessary, Carter."
She took a step back as he slipped past between Pete and herself. Sticking her head out of his quarters, she watched his retreating form, watched as he ripped his nametag from his shirt and threw it against the wall.
"What's up with him? It looks like he lost his best-friend."
She swallowed hard, trying to regulate her breathing. "He might have."
"Come on in, Jack."
"Sir." He saluted and moments later cringed. "Old habits, Sir."
"Have a seat. I'm not going to lie, I've been expecting you, son."
Jack smiled sadly. Leave it to George to cut to the chase and save him some humiliation. He sat down in front of the General, hands clasped together and resting in his lap.
"I take it didn't go well?"
He paused for a moment, taking in the older man's tone and searching his eyes. It was pure empathy - of understanding and support. "This…" he motioned around him, "this is all I have left, Sir."
He dropped his eyes, staring at his hands and awaiting the General's refusal. Perhaps fate was catching up with him, and would offer the second most hurtful rejection of his life - the first having just occurred moments before. He sighed aloud, swallowing the bitter taste that wallowed in his mouth.
"I'm coming back Sir, with my tail between my legs." He paused, elbows resting on his knees and voice lowering.
"You made quite a speech before, Jack. About not needing this place. About finally putting your happiness first. About how the SGC didn't need you - how you weren't needed to save the planet."
Jack sat back, staring up at the ceiling. "I don't have any happiness, Sir." He brought his gaze down, finally meeting the older man. "This is my last chance at sanity. The only thing I know how to do. I'm a soldier, Sir. I'm done with being human."
His eye twitched slightly, reviewing his words. Aside from the needless drama that his tone took, he was pretty content with his statement and hoped the General would be lenient.
"I'm just asking you to talk to the higher ups, Sir. As a favour to me. Tell them that I've changed my mind."
"You…changed your mind?"
He frowned at the General's obvious goading, hearing the teasing in his voice. "Fine. That I had my mind changed for me. That I'll take a pay cut and you can raise my hours, Hell I'll clean the mess hall and I can do kitchen duty, and doc Frasier can give me three needles a week - ."
He stopped abruptly, George's gentle tone surprising him.
"I haven't even filed the paper work yet."
Jack watched him pick the issued retirement form, and feed it into the shredder.
"Between us, Friday's conversation never happened."
Jack sat up a little straighter. "No Sir. It didn't."
"And neither did today's conversation."
"No Sir. They both didn't." He easily took the General's bait, not wanting for the man to go back on his word. After all, he easily accomplished that feat. He stood up, waiting to be dismissed.
"Dismissed, Colonel O'Neill."
He saluted the man, giving him a thankful. "Good to be back, Sir." He pivoted on his right foot and turned, opening the door.
"Yes Sir?" He poked his head back into the room, hand still clutching the door knob.
"I expect objectivity will continue to remain present."
He nodded. "Of course, Sir."
"Very well. Dismissed."
He sighed deeply, lounging in his chair as he watched the Simpsons on a small television that he had brought in. He glanced around the room - his posters had been put back; his certificates and medals, his decorations were back in their rightful place. He stared at the floor, listening to Homer's voice with a distraction that he couldn't shake.
Fate had managed to catch up with him, putting him in his rightful place. Alone with an aching heart and a destiny to save the world. He slapped a hand to his face, scrubbing it harshly. God, when had he gotten so dramatic.
Back to the door, he didn't even bother to turn when he heard a knocking. "C'min." He tensed when he felt her enter, rubbing a hand on the back of his neck to appease the little hairs that stood up.
"I heard you were back, Sir."
"Yeah." He stared straight ahead, too hurt and angry to look at her. "Didn't know it would hurt that much to leave." He knew his voice was hard, knew that his choice of words could have been better. But no matter how hard he tried, on a personal level, he couldn't forget. Couldn't forgive and forget at how she had played with his emotions and just tossed him away.
He knew it had been a risk from the beginning - putting his heart on the line like that. But he had eagerly walked unarmed onto the battlefield and, as he morosely expected, had gotten massacred and left for dead. Just another casualty in the war of love.
He pressed his lips together, eyes closed. Yup. Quite the drama queen.
"I'm sorry…I never meant for you to have to choose -"
He let out a small laugh, pathetic and weak. "Right. I sold my colouring book to buy you a dress for your doll, and you sold your doll to buy me crayons for my colouring book…" His eyes remained glued to the television, staring but not watching.
He felt her approach, felt her bend down slightly so that they were eye level. Her face was so close that he could feel her breath on his cheek.
"But you didn't really sell your doll, did you?" It hadn't been a question for he knew the answer all too well. Not because of rumour mill, but just a gut instinct because luck had never been on his side when it came to happiness.
He heard her voice break, could feel the falter in it. His heart, their friendship - all victims.
He shivered slightly, her whispered words caressing his cheek as he felt her press her forehead against his right temple. He stared down at his hands, not knowing how to react. Not knowing what to say.
"Will we be okay?"
He shook his head. "In the field? Ya sure you betcha. Soldiers. Team mates. We look out for each other." He swallowed hard, head still bowed. "But outside…"
"For how long?"
"Until it stops hurting." He still hadn't looked at her, denying himself to look into her eyes for he knew it would weaken his resolve. No, he had decided. He had to set these boundaries, had to push her away. At least this rejection would help him to inevitably move on. He paused, hoping that his heart didn't hold the same stubborn gene as his mind.
"Anyway I can repair this, Jack?"
He liked how she sounded his name, liked the way it was a husked whisper. Forbidden almost. He almost smiled at her effort, realizing how it was just like her to want to repair. "I think it's pretty much scrapped, wouldn't you say, Major?"
He finally turned, her pleading voice giving him some angered power. "I believe it's Sir, Major." He sadistically gained some satisfaction from the hurt in her eyes, but he knew that she was aware it wouldn't reach the level of pain she had inflicted on him. "Dismissed, Major." He returned his attention to the screen, ignoring her completely. His gaze didn't falter when she inched her lips closer to his, capturing him in a non-responsive kiss. He kept his gaze leveled, not acknowledging the desperation in her light kisses, or the way her tongue had shyly skimmed his lips before pulling back. He continued to stew in his anger as she withdrew, listening to her exhale shakily before she took her leave.
He waited until he heard the door close before letting out a breath himself, refusing to acknowledge the quiver. His eyes slid closed as he gently traced his lips, filing that moment, that feeling to memory.
A body left out on the battlefield. Shot in the back. A victim of friendly fire.