Author's Note: Sam/Jack UST. Mention of Sam/Pete. Jack/Team friendship. Sam & Jonas friendship. I have a feeling I picked up the combat boots/stilettos thing from someone else as it feels very familiar but can't think where but whoever it was who thought of it first should probably get the credit for coming up with that allusion.
Zero Hour Recap: Jack gets to the SGC and is greeted by Walter to be briefed on his way to his office; there's a team requesting permission for a plant to be brought to the SGC; bunting that needs to be decided upon for the President's imminent visit and a new aide for Jack: Mark Gilmore. Gilmore is shown to his own office and a stack of folders by Walter.
SG1 waits impatiently for their briefing; they want to follow-up a lead on a facility abandoned by Anubis that can be accessed by a device found by the Jaffa. Jack hears them out but schedules the mission for the following day when SG3 can attend. Sam is later assured by Teal'c and Daniel that Jack's decision is not about her and she thanks them for their support. Jack gets to see the unique plant which has growing capabilities and locks in the same room a warring delegation who have come to Earth for mediation.
The next day, Mark greets Jack at the elevator. SG1 heads out leaving a pensive Jack behind at the SGC. Sam leaves SG3 holding the Stargate and heads out to do the recon mission with the rest of SG1. They are ring down into the facility. An Alkesh buzzes overhead and Reynolds can't make contact with Sam. He reports back to the SGC but they send backup but can't find SG1. Meanwhile back at the SGC, the plant is growing in the artificial lights and taking over the lab. Ba'al contacts the SGC. He claims that he has SG1 and he wants Camulus. He gives Jack a day to think it over.
The next day, Camulus is brought to the SGC. Mark wonders if it isn't too late already for SG1 and Reynolds says SG1 didn't give up when Ba'al had O'Neill, and no-one at the SGC will give up on them. Jack tries to bluff Camulus into giving them something but he doesn't. Camulus tells Jack of a location – an Ancient lab. SG3 check it out and come back with a ZPM. The plant is slowly taking over the entire base and the Stargate is offline. Ba'al dials in and Jack tells him that if he sends through Sam, the gate will be fixed in a snap. Ba'al gives him another day.
The Secret Service wants to cancel the President's visit; Jack tells them to give it another day. Thanks to the plant Bill Lee finds that the ZPM has been corrupted and would blow up the planet if plugged in. Jack makes a deal with Camulus; he'll go to Ba'al supposedly in exchange and Camulus will give the corrupted ZPM to Ba'al so he can blow himself up with it. SG3 go for the exchange but SG1 isn't returned. Later, Jack gets called to the gate room where some of the SG teams are and gets a vote of confidence from Reynolds and the rest of the SGC.
Jack is on his way home when an incoming wormhole sounds; it's SG1. They've been trapped in the facility for the last week and not held captive by Ba'al but they're under fire. Jack goes against protocol and lets them back into the SGC. The next day, the day of the President's visit, Jack confirms Sam passed her evaluation and confesses he didn't give Ba'al the explosive ZPM but the drained ZPM. Mark confesses to Jack that he was a spy sent in to see if Jack was a fit commander before the President gave his official seal of approval. Jack says he knows; Hammond told him. Mark tells him that he respects Jack very much. As they walk out, Jack asks whether the alien delegation was let out of the room and whether they appreciated the fruit basket…
A Question of Leadership
It was impressive, President Henry Hayes mused as he competently split his attention between the British IOC representative and the rest of the briefing room. Not the Stargate, although it had looked very pretty and hellishly impressive all lit up with its blue event horizon when they'd given him the grand tour, and not the SGC itself. The underground bunker was just that; a concrete rather joyless installation, even when it was decked out in bunting. No, what was impressive was the way that General Jack O'Neill and his team interacted to ensure all the important people were handled.
Supposedly it was O'Neill's former team but Henry believed it was going to be some time before either the General or his team-mates saw it that way, if they ever would. He observed them even as he replied back to Lawrence Smythe about the British scientists that were due to join the Stargate Research and Development team at Area 51. He could tell O'Neill was getting to the end of his attention span with the Chief of the Air Force, General Jumper. Jumper had lasted longer than anyone else who had spoken with the SGC commander and that probably had more to do with O'Neill's respect for Jumper compared to everyone else. He wasn't surprised when Lieutenant Colonel Carter stepped up to O'Neill's shoulder and eased herself into the conversation with a bright smile and a respectful question.
Henry took a sip of his drink to hide his smile and absently answered Smythe. Samantha Carter reminded him of her father. Henry had served with Jacob enough to appreciate the other man's diplomatic abilities and political aptitude. Sam seemed to have inherited the same skills although from what Henry remembered of the mission reports it was usually Daniel Jackson who stepped up as the diplomat in SG1.
It had been Jackson who had intervened when it looked like O'Neill was going to deck the French IOC representative. Henry had watched as Jackson had suddenly appeared beside O'Neill and cut in smoothly before O'Neill could say anything. Moreover, Jackson had been talking French. Jackson had subtly manoeuvred Pierre LaCoste away from O'Neill. Teal'c, the Jaffa, had engaged O'Neill, diverting whatever annoyance had built up, before handing him over to Jumper.
He found himself slightly envious. His staff knew him well and he could see his Chief of Staff already gearing up to move in and excuse Henry from his discussion with Smythe but they weren't as good as SG1. He doubted any other team on the planet was as good as SG1.
Colonel Reynolds stepped up to join Samantha, O'Neill and Jumper. Sam beamed at the new arrival and the clearly planned hand-off happened so smoothly Henry was impressed anew; Jumper was left with Reynolds and O'Neill was ushered across the floor to Henry himself – a minute before his Chief of Staff could make his move. Sam would take the IOC representative, Henry realised, while he and O'Neill moved into the office for their planned meeting. Masterful.
'Mister President.' O'Neill said as Smythe stumbled to a halt noticing their approach for the first time.
'General.' Henry replied easily.
'Smith.' O'Neill said dryly and Henry had no doubt that the General knew it wasn't the way Smythe wanted his name pronounced. Before Smythe's balding blond hair could get too ruffled, O'Neill turned to the woman beside him. 'I don't believe you've met the new SG1 leader, Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter.'
Henry watched as Sam offered her hand to Smythe with a wide smile and Smythe blushed and stumbled over his words of greeting in response, becoming more British with every stutter.
'Congratulations on your position, Colonel.' Henry said brightly. 'And your first successful off-world mission.' He raised his eyebrows slightly. 'Am I remembering that there was a time dilation field involved?'
Sam nodded. 'We couldn't use the rings that had delivered us into the facility because they'd only been set up to account for the disparity in time fields one way. Luckily I was able to fix it.'
'Remarkable.' Smythe said.
'Isn't she?' Jack beamed proudly.
There was no hint on his face of the distress Henry's spy had noted during the week SG1 had been absent, although to be fair to O'Neill, the distress had been caused by the belief that his former team-mates had been captured by Ba'al.
Henry smiled at Sam. 'Well, I think I speak for everyone when I say it's a relief to know that you hadn't fallen into Ba'al's hands as he claimed.'
Sam nodded. She glanced towards Jack and they exchanged a silent look that communicated a lot of things; relief and gratitude, remembered pain and horror.
Sam turned back to Smythe. 'Mister Smythe,' she said politely, 'I wanted to discuss the latest British applicants for the science team with you.' She turned to Henry with a formal nod. 'Mister President, General, if you'll excuse us?'
'Of course, Colonel.' Henry said with a small smirk.
'Carter.' O'Neill replied.
They both watched as Sam manoeuvred Smythe over to the buffet that had been set out on the large table on the opposite side of the room.
'Shall we, sir?' O'Neill pointed with his punch glass over to his open office door.
Henry nodded and let O'Neill lead the way. It was O'Neill who closed the door behind him though leaving Henry to make the decision on where to sit. Henry took one of the visitor chairs, leaving O'Neill his chair on the other side of the desk; Henry didn't play those types of power games. He was surprised when O'Neill eschewed it and sat down in the second visitor chair. Perhaps O'Neill was more politically savvy than he seemed, Henry mused, pleased at the gesture of setting them on an equal footing and the same side.
Henry briefly glanced out of the inner window to the briefing room where the visiting political and military dignitaries continued the reception along with the SGC's finest. The inner window was the reason why no-one from his Secret Service detail had followed him in although he knew an agent would be positioned at the door to the corridor, and he could see another move into position to cover the door back into the briefing room. It seemed strange that nobody was looking at the General's office but Henry figured that was because the SGC guys were happily keeping everyone else's attention diverted elsewhere.
'Your Colonel Carter is a scary woman.' Henry said as his gaze landed again on Smythe who was holding a full plate of food and nodding more enthusiastically at Sam than he had ever done to anyone in the entire time Henry had known him. He turned back in time to see O'Neill's eyes lit up with pride and amusement.
'Yes, she is.' O'Neill said. 'She's…' he struggled momentarily for a description, his hand weaving in the air. 'Exceptional.'
'Exceptionally scary.' Henry pointed a finger at O'Neill. 'I'd blame you for that but I served with her father.'
O'Neill's eyes lit up even more and he wrestled back a smirk. 'You should meet his symbiote.'
'I hope to get that opportunity.' Henry said. He settled back in his seat. 'Have we heard from Jacob since the Tok'ra took their toys and ran away?'
'Not officially.' O'Neill shrugged at Henry's questioning eyebrow. 'I think Bra'tac has some kind of communication thing worked out with Jacob though. He's occasionally passed messages that seem….familiar in tone.'
'Convenient.' Henry commented dryly. He sighed. 'Samantha must miss her father.'
'She does. We all do.' O'Neill admitted. 'Jacob and Selmak contributed hugely to our previous successes. I hope they will again.'
Henry nodded in agreement. 'I heard pretty much the same from George. He apologises for not being here but he had some fires to put out at the Pentagon.' He waited a moment. 'I'm glad we finally get the chance to talk face to face. I'm not going to convince you to call me Henry any more than I convinced George, am I?'
'No, sir,' O'Neill said another smile flitting about his lips, 'but you should feel free to call me Jack.'
'Jack.' Henry said with satisfaction. He could have called him that anyway but he had been waiting for the permission. He respected Jack and his record too much for anything else; possibly respected him too much since he was supposed to be Jack's Commander-in-Chief and his ultimate boss. He schooled his expression automatically to hide his thoughts and refocused on the previous topic.
'You know Carter is scarier to stand off against than Anubis? There she was in my office arguing to go back to Antarctica and I had to throw my serving Jacob at her like a grenade before she'd let up.' He paused. 'I'm certain she could take over the country if she put her mind to it.'
'More like the universe, sir.' Jack replied lightly.
Henry had the sinking feeling neither of them was truly joking. 'Like I said scary.' He sighed. 'Actually your whole team is scary.' He could still see Jackson and Teal'c backing their then acting team leader up in the Oval Office just waiting for the moment she told them she was staging a mutiny. 'I can see why you're grey.'
'That's all Daniel.' Jack said. His hand twitched as though he was tempted to drag it through his short crop but he kept it glued to the chair's arm.
'He to blame for George being bald too?' Henry shot back, amused.
'I'm sure that was all me.' Jack allowed, his expression warming with his self-deprecation.
'Didn't you shoot Doctor Jackson recently?' Henry wondered out loud. He was sure that had been in a report somewhere.
'In my defence, Anubis was occupying him at the time.' Jack flushed guiltily anyway and Henry determined that probably jokes about shooting people were a little out of order.
'What is it with these bad guys who won't die anyway?' Henry asked to smooth over his faux pas.
'We'll get him eventually. We always do.'
Anyone else would have sounded arrogant and self-aggrandising but Jack was so matter-of-fact that Henry believed him. He couldn't deny the warm feeling of protection that suffused him. 'I'm sure you will.' He shook himself a little. 'Are we certain that he's not dead? The report said Colonel Carter diverted the Stargate to an ice planet?'
'Carter and Daniel say we can't guarantee it so…no.' Jack replied with a brusque honesty that Henry appreciated.
'So we should probably talk about what we're supposed to talk about.' Henry changed the subject. He held Jack's gaze firmly. 'You passed your test with flying colours.'
'Thank you, sir.' Jack said dryly.
Henry smiled a little at the not-so well hidden insolence. He'd never been able to achieve that line himself when he'd served. Neither had George but Jacob…Jacob had had it down to a fine art. 'My cousin had a couple of recommendations.'
Jack's eyebrows shot upwards. 'Your cousin?'
Henry grimaced and waved the implied criticism at the nepotism away. 'My mother's side. He's a good kid.'
'Was he really a CIA analyst?' Jack asked.
Henry nodded. 'But he'll be working for the Secretary of State as of tomorrow.'
'Damn.' Jack sighed. 'I would have given him a job; he was good.'
'He might have taken you up on it.' Henry admitted. Mark had been effusive in his admiration for both the General and the SGC. 'But my aunt would kill me if he was stationed here.'
'I assume she's as scary as Carter.' Jack said lightly.
Henry was pleased Jack was feeling comfortable enough to joke with him. 'Scarier.'
'You mentioned recommendations?' Jack prompted, shifting in his chair. His brown eyes showed nothing but genuine interest.
'Yes. Firstly,' Henry pointed at him, 'you should probably hire your own administrative assistant. According to Mark you need one.'
Jack winced but acquiesced with a brief nod.
'And no,' Henry forestalled the question he was sure was coming, 'you have to take it out of your existing budget.'
Jack gave a short laugh but nodded again. 'And second?'
'And second…' Henry took a moment to assess the best way to frame it, 'and second, you need to get some distance from SG1.'
Jack looked patently unsurprised by the assessment.
'Look,' Henry said as the silence stretched, 'I remember myself how difficult it can be to start drawing lines after a change in rank and a new command post.'
'With respect, sir, this isn't the first time I've had to make an adjustment after a change in rank.' Jack said evenly, but his hands were curled into fists against his thighs.
'But not when you've just served for almost eight years with the same team.' Henry shot back. 'There are bound to be…teething problems.'
Jack huffed but he stayed quiet and Henry took it for the concession it was.
'I appreciate there were extenuating circumstances here too,' Henry said soberly, 'George told me it's the first time you've dealt face to face with Ba'al since…' he trailed away unable to think of a diplomatic way to say he tortured you.
'Dealing with him wasn't the issue,' Jack said firmly, waving a hand back and forth, 'it isn't pleasant and he's a sadistic son-of-a-bitch,' he paused, 'but he's predictable; they all are.'
'But the thought that he had your team…' Henry pressed.
Jack remained silent, a muscle twitching in his jaw, but Henry nodded slowly as though Jack had agreed that his supposition was correct; that the idea that his team might have been going through a similar torture to that which Jack had endured at Ba'al's hand had been the overriding worry pressing on Jack's mind for the past week.
'Like I said,' Henry said lightly, 'extenuating circumstances.'
'But?' prompted Jack dryly.
'But I need you to tell George the minute you think your feelings, and believe me when I say that I don't necessarily have issues with you having feelings for your old team, after so many years it would be odd if you didn't, but if those feelings become a problem with your command decisions, then we need to know.' Henry stated bluntly.
Jack nodded. 'That's fair, sir.' His tension gave away that he wasn't happy to be confronted with it and Henry couldn't blame him for that.
'And on that theme,' Henry said lightening his tone, 'you do realise that the moment the Atlantis expedition makes contact again, Elizabeth is likely to request we send Jackson through?' He smoothed his tie down.
Jack's impassive face was impressive; he'd obviously learned it from Teal'c. 'You mean demand.'
'I mean demand.' Henry conceded with a sigh. Talk about scary women…Doctor Elizabeth Weir was very good at her job.
'Daniel's a member of SG1.' Jack stated.
And there was Jack glowering at him and looking scary…Henry sighed. 'He's also the foremost authority on the Ancients and is by far our most experienced linguist. You got lucky this time because we couldn't justify sending both him and Major Sheppard on an expedition that could be stranded for a while.'
'And when the Atlantis expedition makes contact and there is a way for Daniel to travel back and forth, I'm sure Colonel Carter and I would be amenable to the idea of a temporary assignment.' Jack said firmly.
Henry gave a harrumph of agreement, unwillingly admitting to himself that he had somehow forgotten to include Sam in the equation of deciding the fate of Daniel Jackson. He didn't have to – he was the Commander-in-Chief after all – but he also figured he didn't want her mad at him. He changed the topic slightly. 'You said 'when' so I assume that you do think they've survived despite their lack of contact?'
'We knew it was a possibility that they wouldn't have the power to make a return call and could get stranded for a while.' Jack said decisively. 'They have good people.'
'And if they have run into trouble?' Henry posited idly.
Jack held his gaze. 'Sumner's good. He and Sheppard together will make a great team once they get over the, uh…'
'Pissing contest?' Henry suggested dryly. It hadn't escaped his notice that the two men on paper were likely to have a serious clash of personality.
'That,' agreed Jack.
A sharp knock on the inner door back to the conference room had them both turning. Jack called out for them to enter and Henry wasn't surprised when it was the competent Chief Master Sergeant reminding them that their meeting time was over and it was time for the President to make his departure. The door closed again and Henry got to his feet, Jack only a heartbeat behind him.
Henry fastened his suit jacket. 'You're doing a great job, Jack. Whatever they say, the IOC and the Pentagon both consider you the only one they trust guarding the front line.'
'I have a great team here at the SGC.' Jack said immediately.
Henry nodded and adjusted his cuffs. 'Well, this has been fun. I'll have to visit more often.' Jack's face was a picture and Henry preened internally at his ability to horrify him. 'You know I always knew we were going to get along.'
Jack sighed. 'Yes, Mister President.'
'There's a Colonel Kendrick here to see you, sir.' Walter hovered in the door.
He might have been a spy for the President but Mark had been surprisingly efficient and Jack had the impression Walter mourned his absence more than anyone else on base. But despite the President's recommendation he get someone else, Jack knew he'd finally managed to get on top of the work and Jack was holding off.
'Is he on the schedule?' Jack asked brusquely. He couldn't remember it from the briefing that morning and he was getting much better at keeping his schedule clear in his own head.
He picked up a pen to sign the stack of forms in the folder he'd just flipped open on his desk, the one with the post-it note that Walter had handily written on 'just sign these.' They had worked out a system: for forms that Jack had no interest in but would sign because he apparently was the only one who could, there was the 'just sign' note; for forms that Jack had to read and sign-off regardless that he wasn't interested in reading them, there was 'read and sign;' and for forms that Jack was interested in and had to sign-off, there was no note but Jack was considering making Walter leave a note with a smiley face for those.
'No, sir, but he's from the Office of Special Investigations and insists on speaking to you about Teal'c.' Walter gave him the 'it sucks but you should probably do this' face.
Jack prided himself that he was getting better at interpreting all the different kinds of faces that Walter aimed in his direction. He sighed. 'Fine; send him in.'
'Yes, sir,' Walter said, 'your next meeting is with Colonel Carter in her lab at oh-twelve-hundred, sir. She wants to brief you on P6X418.'
Jack nodded briskly. His old team had become very good at scheduling 'briefing' sessions either at breakfast or around lunch time. Invariably the briefing session would begin or end with SG1 partaking of whichever meal and Jack tagging along. He had been trying very hard to separate himself from his team-mates in his head; they were SG1, he was Hammond. He had to get used to it. But he missed them all too much not to spend the time with them and he had instigated a new practice of whichever meal he didn't spend with SG1 he spent with another team. He thought it was scaring the hell out of some of the other teams but nobody could accuse him of favouritism.
Kendrick entered and Jack made a sweeping review of the officer and found him wanting. He reminded him of every officious toady he had ever had the misfortune to come across; balding, bad suit – he wasn't even in uniform – and a pinched expression that said he had a stick lodged somewhere painful. He had a blue folder in one hand.
'General.' Kendrick held out his free hand and Jack reached over his desk to shake it politely.
Diplomacy, he reminded himself; politics. He had to play nice. He scowled anyway. 'What's this about?'
'You petitioned us on the matter of Teal'c's approval to live off base.' Kendrick said. 'I am the official case worker.'
'Really.' Jack pursed his lips. 'Well, it was nice of you to come all this way to introduce yourself but…'
'Yesterday, Teal'c violated the rules governing his on-going permission to live off base.' Kendrick handed over the blue folder.
Jack took it reluctantly and flipped it open. There were pictures of Teal'c in jogging clothes in a park talking with a bunch of teenagers and an old man. Anger flitted through him. 'You have him under surveillance?'
Kendrick bristled at his tone. 'It's standard procedure for the first ninety days.'
'So, what?' Jack tossed the folder back to him without looking at the rest. 'I don't see the issue with Teal'c talking with people.'
'You ignored the transcript of his conversation. He threatened the group of teenagers by telling them that if they continued to harass the old man they'd have to deal with him.' Kendrick stated priggishly.
'Teal'c saved some old guy from being hassled by some punks and yet you don't think that's a good thing?' Jack drawled incredulously with enough edge in his tone that Kendrick shifted uncomfortably under his gaze.
'It draws attention to him.' Kendrick rejoined. 'If some journalist was to take an interest in his good Samaritan act, it could blow the programme wide open.'
As much as he hated to admit it, Kendrick had a point. Jack sighed. 'I'll talk to Teal'c.'
'The violation automatically…'
'You know we had the President in the other day,' Jack said conversationally, throwing his pen down and stretching his arms over his head, 'he told Teal'c that he was pleased that someone who had saved Earth so many times was finally able to have a proper home on our planet.' He waited a beat for Kendrick to get the message. 'So, what do you say? Shall I talk to Teal'c or do I pick up my red phone?' He gestured to the phone in question.
'You should tell Teal'c that we'll continue to monitor his living off base.' Kendrick said pompously.
'I'll keep that suggestion in mind.' Jack picked up his pen again and turned his attention back to the unsigned forms. He glanced at Kendrick. 'If that's all?'
Kendrick frowned but nodded a goodbye and left.
Jack signed the forms quickly, shuffled them back into the folder and dropped them on the 'signed' stack. He checked the time and jumped to his feet. He had a few minutes to talk to Teal'c before the briefing with Carter.
He found Teal'c back in his old room. The quartermaster hadn't reassigned the room and Teal'c used it for the rare occasions that it was necessary for him to remain on base. Teal'c was in the middle of meditation, sat on the floor, cross-legged and surrounded by candles. Jack knew Teal'c didn't need to kel no reem for his health since the Jaffa had lost his Goa'uld symbiote but Teal'c enjoyed meditating regardless.
'You are not disturbing me, O'Neill.' Teal'c smiled at Jack's hesitation and motioned for him to enter.
Jack gazed around the room, wondered briefly if Hammond had ever worried about fire hazards, and sat down near to Teal'c on the end of the bed. His knees would not thank him for getting on the floor, Jack justified inwardly.
Teal'c shifted gracefully to face him. 'You wish to speak with me, O'Neill?'
'I had a Colonel Kendrick stop by. The Office of Special Investigations apparently noticed your intervention yesterday with a group of teenagers?'
Teal'c's face remained blank and impassive.
'In the park? Old guy?' Jack's hand made a sweeping motion with each phrase. 'Ring any bells?'
'No bells are ringing, O'Neill,' Teal'c said calmly, 'but I do recall the incident to which you are referring.'
Jack enjoyed the momentary amusement in Teal'c's dark eyes. 'So…'
'Colonel Carter has already informed me that interfering in such a manner may break the rules governing my approval to live in my own home.' Teal'c said quietly.
Carter. Damn. She was Teal'c's team leader. Jack should have taken this to her first.
Jack winced and winced again when Teal'c's eyebrow rose in response to the first wince. Jack gestured futilely with his hand as though the back and forth motion explained everything. Teal'c's features took on a cast of understanding so apparently it did.
'I believe Colonel Carter comprehends that it is difficult for you to sometimes remember that you are no longer SG1 team leader.' Teal'c said comfortingly.
'She shouldn't have to comprehend; I should have a handle on this already.' Jack retorted without thinking. He pushed a hand through his hair and closed his eyes briefly, realising he'd given his own inner turmoil away with the unthinking response. He opened them to find Teal'c looking back at him evenly.
Teal'c inclined his head. 'I feel very much the same about living among the Tau'ri,' he said, 'but I am finding that I must adjust my thinking.' He paused. 'Colonel Carter informed me that it is…early days.'
Jack huffed out a breath. 'It's just…' he lapsed into silence again, unable to explain the distance he needed from the team from a command perspective, distance he didn't want.
'I understand your dilemma, O'Neill,' Teal'c said quietly, 'when I became First Prime of Apophis, it was difficult for me to disassociate myself with my former comrades despite Bra'tac's teachings and warnings.'
'Warnings?' Jack inquired, thinking he probably wouldn't like the answer.
'Apophis would test my loyalty by ordering me to torture former associates.' Teal'c stated without any inflection to give away his state of mind.
'Oh.' Yeah, he hadn't liked the answer.
'I am certain that you will not face such a choice.'
And Teal'c was right; Jack would likely never face a choice over whether to personally torture a member of his command or not, although since they dealt with the impossible and terrifying on a daily basis he didn't rule it out completely – who knew if there was foothold situation and…and OK, he was just going to dump that entire line of thought.
Jack rested his elbows on his knees and leaned forward. 'You remember when we went to save Bra'tac and Rya'c from that mining camp?'
'I do.' A brief flicker across Teal'c's features betrayed his surprise at Jack's question.
'You were being tortured.' Jack clasped his hands together loosely. 'But I made the choice not to rescue you immediately.'
Teal'c gazed back at him without judgement. They'd never talked about it because Teal'c had understood without them needing to talk about it.
'It was one of the hardest decisions I've ever made in the field.' Jack admitted gruffly. 'We all had to lie there and know what you were going through and…and I thought that that was as bad as it got, you know,' his hand motioned towards Teal'c, 'having to make that decision in the field.'
'But it was not.' Teal'c said quietly.
Jack sighed. 'When I thought you guys had been captured by Ba'al…' he ducked his head rather than face Teal'c's sympathy and pity, 'I know what the sadistic bastard can do and...'
'And you imagined that during the days we were missing we were enduring a similar fate to that which you endured.' Teal'c finished for him.
It had been the worst thing ever. Worse than hearing a team-mate being tortured in the field because back then Jack had known where Teal'c was and what he was enduring but he'd also known how they were going to rescue him and get him home. All he'd had during SG1's absence had been an unremitting play of imagined horrors in his head competing with the new torture of having to fence with Ba'al and deal with his command without his team, his family, by his side.
'I imagine it was not unlike the impotence you felt during the time Colonel Carter was missing with the Prometheus.' Teal'c suggested.
Jack's eyes jerked up to Teal'c's calm gaze. Because he had been a mess when Carter had been missing and Teal'c had known why; known it was because of feelings that were more than simply a platonic love between friends.
'Only exacerbated,' Teal'c continued as though Jack hadn't reacted at all, 'by the absence of Daniel Jackson and I along with Colonel Carter.'
'I'm that obvious, huh?' Jack mused out loud. He sat back, his hands coming to rest lightly on his knees.
'To those of us who love you, yes.'
And probably to the whole damned base given the show of support Reynolds had organised for him, Jack thought with chagrin before he registered what Teal'c had said.
'Younger brother, right?' Jack said lightly, refusing to show how touched he was by Teal'c's straightforward declaration.
'Indeed.' Teal'c said simply. 'Trust that we will not leave you behind, O'Neill.'
'I think the President figures the problem might be that I might not be able to leave you guys behind even when I should.' Jack's fingers dug briefly into his knees, remembering the President's words.
'The President is incorrect. Why did you leave me to be tortured?' Teal'c countered. 'Why not rescue me immediately?'
Because it had been the right thing to do tactically and strategically to ensure everyone made it back alive.
Jack didn't bother answering out loud and Teal'c smiled smugly, satisfied he'd made his point that Jack would do the right thing when it was needed.
'Right.' Jack said, pushing himself off the bed. 'Well, clearly my work here is done and I, uh,' his eyes caught on the clock and widened, 'I'm now late for my meeting with Carter.'
Teal'c's dark eyes twinkled in amusement and Jack left before the Jaffa could tease him about it. He hurried to Carter's lab, trying to look as though he wasn't hurrying to Carter's lab because he was a General and Generals did not hurry to their subordinate officers' labs.
He slowed as he approached the door and peeked inside. Carter was frowning at the report in front of her, fingers tapping impatiently on the desk. He winced, cleared his throat and sauntered in as though he wasn't late at all.
Her head snapped up. 'Sir.' The unspoken 'where the hell have you been?' glared out at him from her blue eyes.
'Sorry,' Jack waved a hand at her as he took up a position on the other side of the bench from her, 'I got held up by a Colonel Kendrick.'
Sam's lips twisted. 'The OSI guy in charge of Teal'c's case?'
'That would be him.' Jack agreed, intrigued that she evidently knew who Kendrick was. 'How did you, uh?'
'His name was on the approval report.' Sam explained with another look that said Jack should have known that. She probably knew every detail of Kendrick's personnel record because Jack knew her and knew she wouldn't think twice about hacking into the system to check out someone who had power over one of her team. 'Was he here about the incident in the park?'
Jack nodded. 'Yeah, I, uh, went to talk to Teal'c,' and that was definitely annoyance that flickered over her face before she ducked her head to hide her expression, 'and he mentioned you'd already handled it which I should have already known.'
Her eyes darted back to his questioningly.
'I should have talked with you first, Carter.' Jack admitted with an apologetic sigh. 'It's just…'
'I understand, sir.' And there was a wealth of understanding in her blue eyes; in the warm tone of her voice and the shy smile that he adored with…
Jack yanked himself back to the conversation. 'Look, you have my permission to kick my ass if I keep stepping on your toes. OK, Carter?'
Her lips twitched and her gaze shifted to affectionate. 'Thank you, sir. I'll try not to take advantage.
Jack bit down on the urge to say she could take advantage of him any time. 'Anyway, good job handling Teal'c's…' a hand gesture encompassed the word 'Teal'cness' which possibly wasn't an actual word.
She bit her lip. 'Actually, I'm not sure I handled it.'
It was Jack's turn to regard her inquisitively.
She made an impatient hand gesture. 'I pointed out that he might have compromised the rules and he raised the eyebrow.'
''Would you not have intervened in such a circumstance, Colonel Carter?'' Sam mimicked Teal'c well enough that Jack found himself smiling. 'Which you know led to me saying yes, and a whole discussion about what constituted drawing attention to yourself and that it was a question of honour saving old men from kids with no manners and…'
'I get the picture, Carter.' Jack said quickly. He frowned. Teal'c had so snowed him, allowing him to believe that he'd agreed with Carter's admonishment.
'The next time, I'm delegating to Daniel.' Sam said determinedly.
'He laughed at you, huh?' Jack surmised and delegating the issue to Daniel in the future was a suitable revenge; he was proud of her.
'Welcome to my world.' Jack said dryly.
Sam smiled at him.
Jack smiled back at her.
'So.' Jack said after it occurred to him that they should probably do more than smile at each other for the next hour. 'You wanted to brief me on…'
'P6X418.' Sam recovered her own professional poise with an ease Jack envied.
She had a boyfriend now, Jack reminded himself briskly. She didn't love Jack that way anymore. Oh, he was sure she still had some feelings for him but…no, she was with Pete and Jack wasn't going to get in the way of her happiness – and damn it, he was supposed to be getting distance from her, from SG1…
'…so I'd like you to request Jonas's help on this.'
It occurred to Jack that he'd just missed the entire conversation. 'Um…'
'Possible natural forming naquadria, sir.' Sam said without fond exasperation. 'Jonas is the expert. It would be good to have him accompany us for the survey.'
'I'll make the request.' Jack said. As if he ever denied her anything.
Sam beamed at him.
Jack pointed at her. 'And don't think I don't know that this isn't just a ploy to get to see Jonas.'
'We will need him for a few days. Maybe we could bring him back to Earth for dinner with Cassie before he gates back to Langara.' Sam suggested, not denying it and her smile not diminishing at all.
'Barbeque, my place?' Jack suggested. They rarely saw Jonas because of the Langarans insistence that Jonas was too close to Earth to take part in negotiations.
'Sounds great, sir.' Sam said warmly. She tidied her folder away. 'Lunch?'
'Lunch.' Jack agreed. He kicked himself; distance.
Or giving into requests to ask for the help of ex-team-mates exiled on their homeworlds.
Jack repressed the urge to sigh as he and Carter made their way to the mess. He knew that he could make the tough decisions when he needed to make them – his conversation with Teal'c had reminded him of that. So maybe he could give himself a break on the little decisions.
'That's the last of these samples done.'
Sam glanced over just in time to see Jonas Quinn carefully pack the last sealed and labelled tube of dirt into the sample box. She immediately dragged her gaze back to the treeline as she was the only one on guard duty; Daniel and Teal'c had gone to do the check-in at the Stargate an hour earlier and wouldn't return for another hour.
'Are we heading to the next sample site or waiting for them to return?' Jonas asked, standing up and stretching.
Sam couldn't help but smile at the sight of her friend back in the familiar SGC uniform with a SG1 patch on his jacket. Jonas had been stunned the day before when he'd arrived on Earth to help gear up and they had presented him with it. Sam wished it was more than a gesture of family and friendship; she would love having Jonas back on the team. But she knew he was committed to helping his home-world rebuild after the attacks from Anubis and their own internal political shenanigans; knew he felt a responsibility to help.
She gestured towards the next site to the West; it was a fifteen minute walk from where they were. 'We should head to the next site. They can meet us there.'
Jonas lifted the strap of his canvas bag over his head so the bag itself settled against his right hip, the strap cutting diagonally across his chest. He picked up the sample box.
Sam altered the grip on her P90 and set off, trusting that Jonas would fall in beside her. It was an enjoyable walk; the sun was out but it wasn't too warm or the air too cold. The scent of grass and earth was fresh and clean. The scenery wasn't the most dramatic Sam had ever seen, it was all trees and rolling green hillsides, but it was pretty enough with patches of yellow wildflowers and an occasional blue flower that reminded Sam of a daffodil in form.
'You know I still can't believe the Council let me come.' Jonas said.
The Langaran Council was a nightmare as far as Sam was concerned.
'Well, even they can't deny understanding more about naquadria might assist in ensuring your planet doesn't blow up any time soon.' Sam quipped.
That had been the argument that had finally won over First Minister Dreylock into allowing Jonas to come with SG1 on their joint scientific survey of P6X418. The idea that there could be naturally forming naquadria was exciting especially as it could lead to additional understanding about the artificial naquadria on Langara. Unfortunately it looked as though the element they'd found wasn't naquadria but something even more volatile and unstable. It was fascinating. Sam couldn't wait to get the samples back to the lab.
'I'm just glad I get to spend the time with you guys.' Jonas said honestly with a smile. 'You haven't told Cassie, have you?'
'No,' Sam grinned back at him, 'we want to surprise her as much as you do. Actually, the General's given her the impression we're all off-world so…' she raised a hand in lieu of further explanation.
Jonas nodded and wiped a hand over his brow. His hair had been cut short again and Sam thought it suited him better than the longer version he sported sometimes. 'I can't believe the Colonel is a General now. Not because he doesn't deserve it,' he said quickly before she could protest, 'but because I never figured he'd leave the field. He always seemed in his element when we were off world.'
'Yeah,' Sam agreed, 'I know what you mean.' She gave a small smile. 'He gets this look every time we head out. I keep half-expecting him to change his mind and come with us.' She shook her head. 'Maybe that's because half the time it feels like I'm only standing in for him.'
'Really?' Jonas frowned at her. 'Because you know as surprised as I was about the Colonel – General – I wasn't surprised at all that you're the leader of SG1 now.' He smiled somewhat self-consciously at her. 'I think that might have to do with the fact that with the Colonel, uh, ill and then, you know Ba'al, and there were vacations…'
She smiled at his rambling.
'Anyway, you led the team a lot when I was part of it.' Jonas finished. 'I was used to you being my team leader just as much as the Colonel.'
Sam was pleased at Jonas's sincerity. 'You know I haven't looked at it that way.' She admitted and maybe she should have. She'd spent so much time worrying about her leadership abilities since making SG1 team leader that she'd never stopped to consider that she'd been performing as the team leader for a long while during Jack's absences. Maybe, Sam considered, maybe she should relax and just enjoy leading SG1. She pointed at a grassy knoll protected by a grove of trees up ahead. 'That should be a good spot for the next sample collection.'
Jonas nodded. He glanced over at her with a curious expression. 'So, how are things going with…is it Pete?'
Sam flushed at the mention of her – what was she calling him? Boyfriend seemed too juvenile; lover seemed too intimate for all that side of their relationship had resumed; significant other? Partner? Guy who she sometimes saw if she wasn't too tired in between missions and he was in town? Maybe she just wasn't cut out for a relationship.
'Maybe I shouldn't have asked?' Jonas prompted gently.
'No, it's…' Sam shrugged. 'Complicated.'
'Relationships usually are.' Jonas quipped.
'We're OK, I guess,' Sam said, 'just, we don't see each other all that often between,' she waved at their surroundings, 'me being off world and Pete's mostly back in Denver now.' Pete's reason for being in Colorado Springs was slowly coming to an end as the trial Pete had been required to testify in as one of the lead police officers and associated investigations wrapped up. 'When we're together it's good.'
Good, but not great, Sam mused in the privacy of her own head as they reached their destination and Jonas stooped to carry out the sampling. Sam checked the perimeter. She repressed a sigh. Pete was the longest running relationship she'd had for years and she had more doubts about her performance as a girlfriend – lover – whatever she was to Pete – than she did her new position. Leading SG1 was comfortable in many respects like wearing an old pair of worn-in combat boots. Navigating a romantic relationship was the opposite, more like wearing a new pair of stiletto heels; thrilling for the first hour but after that they started being uncomfortable enough that there was an increasing urgency to toe the damn things off and walk around in bare feet.
Maybe she should break up with Pete. It was something she had considered more and more since she'd become the SG1 leader. Her career was important and she wanted to do well in the position which meant less time to spend in her personal life – and she had to make Cassie a priority there. Cassie was still getting over Janet's death and Sam was determined to be there for her.
Sure she and Pete had a good time when they were together and Pete was incredibly understanding about the insanity of her schedule but…but that's all it was: good. Solid. Unremarkable. Nothing like the love that poets talked about or songwriters crooned about. Nothing like the love she remembered Jolinar and Martouf sharing; nothing like the love she felt for…
Sam yanked her thoughts hard away from that subject. Was she using Pete? It was a question she had asked herself several times. In truth she'd only started dating him as an exercise to move on from her continuing feelings for Jack. But she had liked Pete, enough to seriously consider a future with him before his confessions of checking into her background and following her to a stakeout. She'd forgiven him though, had begun to date him again. Did she love him? She had been falling in love with him before his confession but it was difficult to untangle her emotions when a part of her was wary about him even though he hadn't done anything since his confession to warrant it. She knew part of that was her own history. She'd almost married a man who'd tried to control her and she was sure it was that memory compounded by the use of Pete's image in Fifth's screwed up Replicator fantasy, which was why she was keeping Pete at a distance. Pete deserved better than to be tarred with the same brush, she thought tiredly.
And perhaps he deserved better than a relationship with a woman whose heart was still largely tied up with another man. Not that she and Jack would ever happen; their promotions had convinced Sam that Jack didn't feel the same way about her anymore. Jack loved her as a friend, would always be there for her as a friend; she took comfort in that. Her motivations of moving on, finding a love she could have, still played in Sam's head. She and Pete were having fun; enjoying spending time together, Sam mused defiantly; so long as they were both on the same page surely that was OK?
Her radio crackled into life. 'Sam, come in.'
'Daniel.' Sam responded, bending her head slightly to talk to the radio in the upper pocket of her tac-vest.
'A Goa'uld cargo ship has just landed five miles due West of the Stargate, Colonel Carter.' Teal'c replied. 'They have not secured the Stargate but I do not believe it will be long before they take such a step.'
Adrenaline jolted through her as she and Jonas exchanged an alarmed look. 'Understood. Meet at the RV point in twenty minutes.'
Twenty minutes later, they hid along a ridge overlooking the Stargate, all four of them on their bellies peering at the two Jaffa who had been sent to guard the 'gate.
Sam lowered her monocular. 'That's a light guard. I don't think they know we're here.'
'I agree.' Teal'c said softly beside her.
Daniel wriggled closer to Sam on her other side. 'They're wearing Ba'al's mark.'
Sam frowned. 'Why would Ba'al be interested in this planet?'
'This planet used to be in Anubis's territory.' Daniel added. 'It's possible Ba'al's just exploring as he takes over.'
'It is not unusual for a conquering System Lord to tour his new territory.' Teal'c confirmed.
Sam grimaced. 'Great.'
'Or it's possible they're here for the same reason we are.' Jonas said in a low voice. He motioned at the ground. 'Teal'c, you said the Jaffa by the cargo ship were taking soil samples. If Ba'al's looking for naquadah, he may have picked up on the unusual readings and come to investigate. When Anat used Kianna for a host, she didn't tell him about naquadria. It's possible this is the first time he's come across something like this. If he thinks that this is a new form of powerful element…'
'He'll want it.' Sam bit her lip and ignored the rough ground underneath her; she was going to be covered in bruises.
'Well, it's not naquadria though, right?' Daniel asked urgently. 'I mean, you guys worked that out yesterday.'
'It's not naquadria but it's still a powerful element.' Sam replied absently, her mind whirring through the possibilities.
'We cannot allow this element to fall into Ba'al's possession.' Teal'c stated grimly, looking at her expectantly.
'My thoughts exactly.' Sam tapped her finger against the monocular.
'OK, so we have to stop Ba'al finding out about this planet,' Daniel listed calmly, 'and escape back to the SGC without getting caught.'
'Options?' asked Sam, a germ of an idea wriggling in her mind but she wanted to know what the others were thinking.
'If we eliminate these Jaffa, others will simply be sent to investigate.' Teal'c said.
'So we need a permanent solution,' Daniel agreed, 'maybe we can eliminate the Jaffa, but send a message to Ba'al saying the planet is not worth his attention and get the ship to self-destruct automatically on its way back to him?'
'There's a risk that Ba'al could intercept the ship before it destructs or that he might investigate what happened to it.' Jonas argued. 'And do we even know if we can send the ship back on autopilot?'
'We could send the ship back on autopilot and even destroy it that way, it's just a matter of programming it,' Sam said absently as though it wasn't a big deal, 'but you're right it's too big a risk.'
Daniel pointed at her with a triumphant expression. 'You have a plan.'
Sam raised an eyebrow at him. 'Maybe.' She pressed her lips together and looked back at the Stargate. 'How do you feel about blowing up the planet and escaping in the cargo ship?'
'Seriously?' blurted out Jonas. He looked wide-eyed with shock back at her.
'Jack'll be mad he missed it.' Daniel said cheerfully.
Teal'c inclined his head. 'Indeed.'
Sam glanced back at Jonas.
'I'm in.' Jonas grinned. 'First time blowing up a planet.'
It wasn't hers, Sam thought wryly, although this time she wasn't under orders to perform a bomb test that could potentially take out the SGC at the same time. She motioned at the guys, confidence surging through her as her plan firmed up in her mind. 'So here's what I think we should do…'
SG1 were late.
An hour late.
Late enough that the General was freaked out even if he was trying to pretend that he wasn't.
Reynolds tried hard not to sigh. Instead he clasped his hands behind his back and tried to convey solidarity as O'Neill paced impatiently behind Walter in the control room. He should be getting hazard pay, Reynolds thought with amusement tinged with only a small amount of worry. He figured Carter was a good officer; experienced, brilliant in her field and trained by O'Neill himself. If something had gone wrong to delay them – the Stargate wasn't connecting at all with P6X418, she probably had it under control. But a week of thinking Ba'al had O'Neill's former team was recent enough that Reynolds felt the curl of anxiety in his belly anyway. O'Neill had handled it with a grace that Reynolds didn't think he could have achieved in his place but he also knew how tough it had been on the other man. SG1 was more than a team; it was a family.
'Try them again.' O'Neill ordered, pointing a finger at the computer.
Walter nodded briskly. 'Yes, sir.' His hand had just started tapping out the address when the Stargate began to light up.
'Incoming wormhole.' Walter announced.
Reynolds felt the tension ratchet up subtly.
'IDC?' O'Neill snapped out.
O'Neill's face brightened. 'Lower the iris.' He sped off towards the stairs and Reynolds exchanged a sympathetic look with Walter before following the General down and standing beside him in front of the metal ramp.
Reynolds almost betrayed himself with a look of surprise as he took in the glee that Carter and her team displayed openly – even Quinn who wasn't officially a member of SG1 anymore.
'You're late.' O'Neill complained in a grumpy tone that wasn't faked as far as Reynolds could tell.
'Sorry, sir,' Carter replied with an air of someone who wasn't really sorry, 'but we had to take the long way home.'
'The long way home?' O'Neill pushed his hands in his pockets and gave her a look that said her explanation had better be a good one.
'We had to fly the cargo ship to the next solar system to get to another Stargate.' Carter said as though that explained everything.
'A cargo ship?' O'Neill raised one scarred eyebrow at her. 'Forgive me if I'm wrong here, Carter, but you didn't have one of those when I spoke with Daniel and Teal'c yesterday.'
'We saw it land on our way back to camp from the check-in.' Jackson contributed helpfully. He was almost bouncing. 'Ba'al sent a unit of Jaffa to check out anomalous naquadah readings.'
'Well, that explains everything.' O'Neill shot Jackson a grumpy look which just had Jackson grinning at him.
'On the contrary, O'Neill,' Teal'c said, 'it is only the beginning of the explanation.' His dark eyes were twinkling with mirth.
Reynolds felt the beginnings of a headache.
'Carter, I take it Ba'al's troops messed up the Stargate?' O'Neill turned back at her expectantly.
Carter looked chagrined. 'Not exactly, sir.'
'And by not exactly…' O'Neill prompted impatiently.
'We were the ones who messed up the Stargate.' Quinn offered brightly. 'Sam showed me how to create this power loop between the DHD and the…' his voice fell away under O'Neill's hard glare.
O'Neill shifted his attention back to Carter. 'Carter, in five words or less – ah!' he held up a finger, 'five words, explain what you did.'
'We, uh, blew up the planet.' Carter paused momentarily. 'Sir.' She beamed at O'Neill.
Reynolds gaped at her. They'd blown up a planet?
'You blew up a planet.' O'Neill glowered. 'Without me?'
'We got pictures!' Daniel patted his backpack and smiled widely at Jack.
'It's just not the same.' O'Neill complained, rocking back on his heels.
Reynolds cleared his throat. 'Why did you blow up the planet?'
They all turned to look at him.
O'Neill's brown eyes were warm with camaraderie. 'That's not a bad question.'
'Thank you, sir.' Reynolds said dryly.
'The element we thought might be a naturally forming naquadria was actually a highly unstable mineral.' Quinn explained.
'Highly explosive, sir.' Carter added quickly. 'Obviously we couldn't allow it to fall into Ba'al's hands.'
'Obviously.' O'Neill repeated.
They grinned at each other. Jackson and Quinn grinned at them. Teal'c looked on approvingly, grinning in his own way.
Reynolds felt his own lips tugging into a smile and immediately corrected the movement.
'So we used the Stargate as a detonator,' Carter continued, 'Teal'c convinced the Jaffa to join the rebellion, and took the cargo ship to make our escape. Teal'c has some new recruits so we had to send them to the Jaffa way station before we dialled home.'
'And we got this.' Quinn held up a crystal.
O'Neill looked at Carter inquisitively.
'The data log from the cargo ship, sir.' Carter's blue eyes were bright with triumph. 'It has the current positions of Ba'al's fleet.'
And that, thought Reynolds with wry resignation, was why SG1 was SG1.
They'd all started grinning at each other again, flush with pride at a job well done. One of the guards coughed.
O'Neill snapped to and clapped his hands. 'Right. You guys need to go to the infirmary. Full debrief is tomorrow morning before Jonas heads back – oh eight hundred.' He placed a hand lightly on Carter's arm as they made for the door together. 'Hey, you think we could send the pictures to Ba'al because…'
Reynolds didn't hear the end of the sentence as they disappeared from view and hearing range. He made his way up to the control room and found Dave Dixon, geared up and ready for departure, hovering behind Walter.
Dave grinned at him mercilessly and Reynolds heart sank as he remembered the bet they'd made. 'And you said they'd do less crazy things with Carter in charge.'
'It's not that crazy.' Reynolds said. 'She was right; they couldn't let Ba'al get his hands on something as powerful as naquadria.'
'Uh-huh.' Dave's hand landed heavily on Reynolds' right shoulder. 'You keep telling yourself that.' He grinned and moved away.
Reynolds opened his mouth to reply and shut it again as O'Neill bounded back into the control room.
'Dixon, you ready for the delights of…?' O'Neill darted a look at Walter.
'Yes.' O'Neill said slowly. 'That's the one.'
'Shouldn't you be gone already, Jack?' Dave asked pointedly. 'I seem to recall Cassie saying something about a barbeque when she babysat the other night?'
O'Neill nodded briskly. 'Just wanted to see you off.'
'Right.' Dave stared him down knowingly because they all knew that O'Neill had stuck around to see SG1 return rather than SG13 leave.
'OK, OK,' O'Neill sighed, 'I'm gone; Reynolds, you have command. Don't call me unless, you know,' his hand gestured vaguely out towards the Stargate, 'aliens invade, someone tries to blow up our planet, the usual.'
'Yes, sir.' Reynolds said automatically.
O'Neill left and Dave grinned at Reynolds. 'Team's all ready.' He gestured at his waiting team below in the gate room.
'Dial her up, Sergeant.' Reynolds ordered. Dave gave a sloppy hand wave of acknowledgement and made for the stairs as Walter entered the address into the computer.
Reynolds watched as the Stargate blossomed out and fell back into its usual blue shimmering event horizon; as SG13 made their way up the ramp, bantering back and forth, and no doubt adding 'blowing up a planet' to the list of events they bet on happening every mission. He shook his head slowly.
It was, Reynolds thought wryly, just another typical day at the SGC.