TITLE: Dichotomy of Self
SUMMARY: Lieutenant Colonel Carter needs to speak to General O'Neill regarding her reassignment, but Jack needs Sam's reassurance.
REQUEST: This was written for the SJFicathon on Live Journal. The recipient was tielan, who wanted "Sam goes to see Jack in DC on her return from Atlantis, and finds herself playing the delicate dance of DC politics with Jack in hand. Or possibly out of hand. Essentially, Jack and Sam in DC, doing... whatever."
SPOILERS: All SG-1, nearly all SGA, SG-Continuum
The door hit the wall with a loud thud, but Sam was in no mood to care. She'd had the entire flight to stew over the matter, and she was no happier now than when she'd left Colorado Springs.
"I need to see General O'Neill," she announced in a stony tone.
The General's aide jumped up from his seat. "Colonel Carter, I didn't know you were in town. General O'Neill will be at the SGC tomorrow."
"This can't wait."
He looked down at the phone on his desk. "The General is currently on a conference call with the President, Sir."
The formal address seemed enough to make Sam pause. She sighed as she sunk into a chair across the desk from him. "I'm sorry, Paul," she said wearily. "I just got back from Atlantis."
"I heard," Major Davis replied. "I'm surprised you didn't beam directly in there," he added, indicating the closed door to O'Neill's office.
Sam shook her head. "This isn't a personal visit."
"Ah, not wearing your blues for kicks, then?" he asked with a grin.
"Hardly," Sam snorted. "I'm here as one very pissed-off subordinate."
"I thought the five-hour flight might help me work out what I was going to say and give me time to calm down a bit."
"Did it help?" he asked sympathetically.
She smiled ruefully. "Not really, no. As usual, you've been the best help."
"It's what I'm here for."
"It's what you've always been here for." She paused before looking him in the eye. "Be honest, Paul. Does it bother you, you know, not to have received a promotion in so long? You were a Major when I was still a lowly Captain."
Paul shrugged. "I'd be lying if I said never. But I'm not on the front lines, and I've seen enough to know I don't want to be on the front lines. Plus, the job has got better over the past couple of years what with the new department and the new department heads."
Sam laughed. "Generals Hammond and O'Neill aren't exactly similar in leadership style, though."
"That's true." Davis leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind his head. "I don't know, Sam. If not for them, I might have gone crazy, or just got the hell out. I might have gone for a diplomatic position over at State."
She made a face. "I'm not sure I could do that."
"Hell, face down angry aliens and anything is doable."
"Your diplomatic skills are needed here, though."
He nodded in agreement. "Yeah, General O'Neill isn't the most tactful of guys."
"Now you know how Daniel felt."
"I'm never bored, Sam, that's for certain. Whether it's running interference from other Generals or," he grinned manically, "dealing with pissed-off subordinates."
Sam reddened. "I'm surprised you didn't tell me to go on in just to be rid of me. Or tell me that he'd already left for the day." She thought for a moment. "Is he really talking to the President?"
Davis nodded. "I wouldn't run interference with you. I get the feeling you've probably yelled at him more than once. I think I've actually seen you yell at him more than once."
"And sometimes he even deserved it."
Paul opened a drawer and pulled out something from it. "This came flying through from him one day. I'm holding on to it for an appropriate occasion."
Sam stared at the large ball composed of gum bands and winced. "Ouch, Paul."
"Yeah, but you should see the one I threw at him." With a grin, he returned the makeshift ball to his drawer. "There's never a dull day around here." He glanced at the phone again. "Looks like he's finished his call. Ready to go in?"
"I guess. Ready to eavesdrop?" she asked wickedly.
Paul tried to look affronted. "Would I do that?" He hit the intercom button.
A beat later, O'Neill replied. "Yeah?"
"Two things, Sir. First, General Matthew's office wants to know if you'll be attending the dinner on Friday."
"Ack! I might not even be back from this Ba'al thing until Friday. We all know how well these things tend to work out."
"Yes, Sir. But they need to know. Something to do with catering, apparently."
"Oh, fer cryin' out – what difference does it make if there are one or two extra people there? Some of them could do with eating less."
Sam resisted the urge to laugh. She didn't dare meet Paul's eyes. Besides, she was supposed to be mad at Jack O'Neill.
"You said there were two things, Davis. What's the other?"
"Ah, Colonel Carter is here to see you."
"Colonel Carter, Sir."
"Don't know 'em."
"Colonel SAM Carter, Sir."
There was a moment of silence and then, "Oh, Carter. Why didn't you say so? Send her in already."
Sam stood, straightened her jacket, and cast a final glance at Davis. "Wish me luck." Feeling as though she was entering the lion's den, Sam grasped the door handle and turned it.
O'Neill stood up as she entered and started to come around his desk. "Hey, Carter. How's it going?"
She came to a stop before his desk. "Good morning, General O'Neill," she said as stiffly as she could. She had to remain focused on why she was here, otherwise she'd never get to say what she intended.
He cocked an eyebrow at her. "Ah, like that is it?" He sat back down, and she tried to ignore the look of disappointment on his face. "What can I do for you, Colonel?"
"Respectfully, Sir. I'd like to know why I was informed of my reassignment by a civilian, Sir, and not from my CO."
"Ah, crap." He ran a hand over his face. "Let me guess, Woolsey."
He sighed. "I was going to tell you myself. Landry and I had already discussed it."
"With all due respect, Sir, I'd also like to know why I'm being removed from my post."
"It's not personal."
"The hell it is." Sam clamped her mouth shut as soon as the words slipped out. She knew she was out of line in this formal discussion. "Sorry, Sir."
O'Neill groaned. "Carter, this is me you're talking to. Not some other idiot with stars on his shoulders." He sighed again. "Look, you know as well as I do. The IOA have-" he waved a hand around as he sought out the right word, "-issues."
He was right. "So what's new?"
"Atlantis has always been a sticky issue for them. They want a civilian heading up the base. They've always wanted that. They liked Doctor Weir leading things, and they want someone like her leading things once again. They also think you're too-" he paused again, but this was more a hesitation than a search for words, "-close."
Sam slumped down into one of the easy chairs he kept in his office, all pretense of formality gone. "So it is personal."
"Not on my part, Carter. And Hank thinks you've done a bang-up job." He grinned. "As do I."
"This is why it matters what Hank thinks, since he's your CO."
"But the IOA had the final say?"
"Yeah. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. This job is too damn political for me. It's all about give and take, bargain and compromise." He stood up and began pacing the floor.
Sam nodded in sympathetic understanding. "Dad used to say it always came down to how you played the game."
"I remember that. He also used to say it was a good feeling when you were able to beat them at their own game. Which would be fine, if I actually knew how to play."
"I miss Dad."
"I know. I do too. I could have definitely done with his help. I'd have even accepted Selmak's help, and that's saying something. Let's face it, Carter. I suck at this. Someone else would have done a better job at this crap, even a Tok'ra. At the very least you would have kept your job."
"Jack-" She knew where he was going.
"What?" He finally stopped his pacing and leaned against his desk. "I screwed up, Carter. Okay? I can't play their games, and you're now out of an assignment. I don't know who I should beg to save your career, or if I should just stay out of it."
"General Landry will find something. It's not like I've ever had a shortage of choices before."
"I hope you don't this time."
Sam stood up and walked over to him. "I've told you," she said in what she hoped was a reassuring voice. "I'll resign my commission if it comes down to it."
"I don't want it to come to that."
"But I won't mind. I'll still be a scientist."
"A damned smart scientist. The SGC would be foolish to lose you."
"And you're not going to lose me either," she said with a smile. "In the meantime, at least I won't be leaving again for a 'galaxy far, far away' immediately after the Ba'al thing. And I hear you have to attend some dinner on Friday night."
"Don't remind me."
"I'll go with you."
"I'll tell Davis."
"Just remember, the game isn't over yet."
"That is such a cliché."
"But it's what Dad would have said."
"Ah, God bless Dad." Jack's head hit her shoulder. "Get me out of here, Carter, before I go completely nuts. That's an order."
"And for the record? I really did plan on telling you myself. I had it all worked out."
"I know, Jack. I know."