Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine; I just enjoy playing with them. No remuneration of any kind has been exchanged in relation to this work of fiction. All rights are retained by the legal owners of the Stargate franchise, its subsidiaries, licensees and assigns.
Notes: A brief TAG to "Avatar" Season 8. I really did try to make this agnsty, but fluff keeps getting in my cave!
I really wasn't happy with my original version of this story; so I have revised it. The story itself hasn't really changed much. I've just made a few modifications and additions for added clarity and to improve the flow of the narrative.
This is not a song fic, but the title does come from a song of the same name by Crowded House because it came to mind as I was watching the episode and thinking about this story.
Don't Dream It's Over
General Jack O'Neill leaned against the door frame, hands in the pockets of his green BDUs, his silhouette back lit by the much brighter lights from the hall as he looked over his team resting in the darkened infirmary. Well, not really his team anymore, now that he was "The Man." The new SG-1 leader, Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter, sat on a stool between two beds keeping vigil. In one lay the large form of the Jaffa warrior. Teal'c was imposing even in slumber. Daniel was on the other bed, sleeping atop the covers, snoring softly, his glasses askew. Jack sighed. They would always be his team, even if he couldn't sit with them for hours as he once had, watching over them as they recovered from a difficult mission.
Their latest mission had been different than earlier adventures with his team. They hadn't even left the base. It started out with a demonstration of the new training simulation Dr. Lee and his team of scientists had been working on using the virtual reality chairs SG-1 had brought back from their mission to P7J-989 six years ago. That time the whole team had been trapped by the Keeper in a virtual reality world and forced to relive some of the worst moments of their lives over and over for the entertainment of the game's residents. When they had finally succeeded in escaping from the virtual world Jack was certain there was nothing that would ever convince him to get into one of those chairs again.
He was wrong.
The game created by the scientists had proven far too easy to be of any use to actual military personnel. When Teal'c volunteered to improve the reality of the training scenario by playing the game he had essentially become trapped by his own mind. The program had determined that he didn't really believe they would ever defeat the Goa'uld; therefore he couldn't win. But it also recognized that Teal'c would never give up; therefore, he couldn't quit. With each successive defeat, and subsequent reset of the game, his body received a shock that began to take a serious toll.
Jack had volunteered to go in and rescue Teal'c but Carter wouldn't allow it. She thought if the game learned from his tactical knowledge it could only make the situation worse, and they didn't have another chair if he needed saving. Jack could see the logic of Carter's position, and he was pleased she had such a high opinion of his skills. Sitting behind a desk for the last several months had him wondering if he could still cut it in the field, and he could admit to himself that he would have liked the opportunity to get into the action again, even if it was only a simulation. But Jack knew he had to accede to the reality that he was now base commander, and as much as he wanted to test himself and save his friend, he had to put his other responsibilities first.
So in the end Daniel had gone in to help Teal'c bring an end to the game and get them both out. Of course, that had taken some time, and Daniel hadn't emerged entirely unscathed. When Daniel first entered the simulation Teal'c had shot him on sight because the game had previously cast Daniel as the Goa'uld infiltrator. It took time for Daniel to gain Teal'c's trust and learn how to use the two second precognitive advantage Carter had been able to give him by dispensing with the video feedback. That meant every time Daniel failed, the game reset and both his friends received a jolt of electricity that neither would be able to withstand for long.
In the end the real Daniel and Teal'c found themselves in a storage room standoff with the computer generated avatars of himself and Carter, a supposedly dead Siler nearby. Jack shook his head and mutter a quite, "Oh, Siler." He had been the Goa'uld. Daniel had seen him start to rise up in time to warn Teal'c, who took him out while the Carter in the game stopped the naquadah generator from going critical.
Jack let out a relieved breath, and entered the infirmary room. He grabbed a chair by the wall and pulled it around Sam, brushing his arm against her back as he moved past her. She sat with her arms wrapped around one leg, which was pulled up so that her chin rested on the knee. She rolled her head to the side and looked at him.
"Hey." Jack said as he sank into his seat, giving her a quick smile.
"Hi." Sam weakly returned the smile and turned her gaze back to their Jaffa friend.
"How're they doing?" Jack made a gesture toward the two beds with one hand.
"Daniel's fine." Sam lowered her leg and sat up straight as she gave the General her report. "Dr. Carmichael wanted him to stay overnight for observation. Daniel wasn't too happy about that, but I told him we were both planning on staying here anyway so he could at least lie down on the bed and get some rest. He was out in minutes." She fondly looked over her shoulder toward the slumbering archeologist.
Jack also turned to take in the sight and a light snore drifted over from that direction. He turned back to Sam. "Teal'c?"
"He went through a lot. It was close, but you know . . . " She wrapped one arm around her torso and lifted the other the opposite shoulder like she was trying to give herself a hug of comfort and assurance.
"He's Teal'c." Jack easily completed her thoughts, wishing that he could offer her some of the solace they both craved.
"Yeah." She paused momentarily and then continued, "He'll be fine."
They both turned and looked at their friend who appeared to be sleeping comfortably and was looking none the worse for wear, which was something of a relief.
They sat in silence for a time, lost in their own thoughts.
Jack finally spoke up. "I've been thinking."
"Should I be worried, Sir?" Sam quipped without a moment's pause.
"Funny." He pretended to be offended, but actually he was delighted she still felt she could tease him despite their new ranks and positions.
Sam flashed him a mischievous grin, which caused him to momentarily lose his train of thought.
He forced himself back to get back to his original point. "You said Teal'c may have trapped himself in the game because he didn't believe that we could ever completely defeat the Goa'uld."
"Well, yeah. At least that's what he believed six years ago." She clarified. "We have saved earth several times and killed a few System Lords since then." She added with some passion. "I would hope that's given him some confidence."
Sam paused momentarily, and Jack could swear he heard the gears turning in her mind as she thought the whole thing through. "And he wouldn't have joined us in the first place if he didn't start out with at least a little faith in what we could do." She pegged Jack with a meaningful look. He was the one who had convinced Teal'c to turn and fight. He was the one who Teal'c had placed all his faith in to save the people on the prison on Chulak, and perhaps one day all who were enslaved by the Goa'uld.
"And he won the game." Jack added hopefully.
"He had help." Sam pointed out.
"Exactly!" Jack exclaimed triumphantly and perhaps a little too loudly. He quickly turned his head from side to side and was reassured that he hadn't woken his friends with his little outburst.
Sam crinkled her brow, unsure what he was getting at. Unless Jack had somehow developed precognitive powers she didn't know about, the method they used to win the game wasn't going to be much assistance to them in their current fight against the Goa'uld.
Jack picked up on her confusion. "It wasn't until all of us were there together that T was able to kill the Goa'uld and win the game." Jack realized his statement wasn't entirely accurate. "I mean we weren't really there," he gestured between the two of them, "but virtual us." Waving a thumb behind him, "And Daniel, he was with there."
"So," Sam began slowly trying to tease out Jack's meaning, "you're saying when we work as a team we can't lose?"
"Us against the whole universe?" Sam added skeptically.
"The universe doesn't stand a chance." Jack answered forcefully as he slapped his hands down on his thighs.
"Just a thought." Jack shrugged and looked down at hands as he rubbed a thumb into his palm. He missed his team. He didn't see Sam's wistful stare. She missed him too.
"Do you really think it's possible?" Sam asked with some trepidation.
"What?" He looked up, hoping to catch more of her meaning by seeing her eyes, but she was turned away. She looked tired he thought, and perhaps a little worn down. It had been a long day.
"That we could win?" Sam's voice broke into his thoughts. "That this war with the Goa'uld might actually end?"
Jack's chest tightened as he heard the sense of hopelessness in her questions. He knew what it had once meant to them to come to the end of that road. It was their maybe one day. The distant possibility of a happily ever after, when duty was done and they could think about life outside their military ranks and positions. Of course, that wasn't really an issue for her anymore he supposed.
"Sure." He answered not willing to give in or allow her to lose hope. "Why not?" He wouldn't let her get caught up in the grim reality of their situation, or allow her to be cornered by her far too logical mind. Not now when it seemed like she had so much to look forward to, without him he had to concede to himself.
She turned and shook her head with a fond smile. "Why not?" She thought. They had pulled off miracles before. Maybe it was possible to defeat an impossible enemy, if they did it together.
Together. That word pounded relentlessly in her brain. What if it were all over? Sam knew she was treading onto dangerous ground here, but she couldn't stop herself from asking the question. "What would you do, Sir, if we won the war and the Goa'uld were no longer a threat?"
"Do you really have to ask Carter?" His chocolate brown eyes bored into her. A lump rose in her throat as a spark of what had seemed like a long dormant hope came to life inside her.
"You see there's this lake in Minnesota where the bass grow that big." He threw his arms out wide, and then began to slowly contract them until there was hardly any distance between them at all.
She smiled at the familiar routine. "Fishing, Sir?"
Now that he had put them both onto safer ground with his casual flippancy, she hesitated to edge toward the precipice again. But something just propelled her onward. "Would you retire?"
Jack wasn't sure what had gotten into Carter tonight. She was coming dangerously close to that thing they never discussed. Maybe this experience with Teal'c and his doubts had upset her more than he had realized.
There was a part of him that desperately wanted to tell her that yes, he would retire and then do everything in his power to take her away from that boyfriend of hers, who wasn't even remotely good enough for her. And while he was sure he wasn't good enough for her either, he wanted to believe he might be able to convince her otherwise.
He forced back a bitter sigh. He knew what he had to do. It was time to deflect this latest emotionally charged question. "Why, Carter? You want my job? You take over SG-1 and now you think you can wrestle the whole SGC away from me too? Because I gotta tell ya, I've got a toilet paper requisitioning issue on my desk right now that would tax even your enormous brain. You don't even know all I shield you from around here with my amazing paper pushing skills."
Sam ducked her head and bit her lower lip as she held back a giggle. "Yes, well I'm sure the whole base appreciates your heroic efforts. We all know how important toilet paper can be in an emergency."
Sam took a long breath and slowly let it out, giving herself time to think of what she was doing. Maybe it was better not to dwell on the future right now. She was in a relationship with Pete. She had no idea where that was going, but it was nice to have someone, even if . . . . She tried to stop herself from finishing the thought that came unbidden, "even if it wasn't the someone she really wanted." She knew she'd drive herself crazy with that thought.
Just as she was settling back onto more emotionally stable ground she heard the General whisper a question that pushed her again toward the edge of the chasm.
"Would you come?"
Startled, she looked up. He wasn't looking at her. He wasn't really looking at anything. As she stared at his familiar profile in the dim light, she wondered if he had actually asked her to go fishing with him again, or if she had just imagined it. It had been so long since his last invite, which had ended in bitter words and acrimony. She had accused him of not really wanting her around, of taunting her with an invitation he knew she would refuse. He had seemed to confirm his indifference as he called out for her to come with him as the elevator doors closed between them taking him up and out of the mountain. He had not asked again in two years.
Now it was time for her to deflect. "I suppose it's all just theoretical at this point. Even assuming we will win, it could take years."
Years. Could she wait years to have the kind of life she occasionally dreamed of? Would he? Was that fair to either of them? She lifted her hands to her face and rubbed them across her eyes, almost as if she were trying to wipe these confusing thoughts from her mind. He misconstrued her action.
"You're tired. It's been a long day. Why don't you go get some rest? I can stay here for a while." His fingers landed casually on her forearm.
"It's not like your day's been any shorter." She said, staring into his eyes and remaining completely still so as not to disturb the brief and welcome contact that had become so infrequent between them.
"Oh yeah, all that paperwork takes a lot out of me, I can barely flick my wrist." He demonstrated with a weak flourish of his writing hand.
"Get some sleep, Carter." Jack stated, adding a little steal to his voice.
"Is that an order, Sir?"
"Does it need to be?" He held her gaze until he knew she was prepared to relent. He had spent a lot of years putting Carter to bed when she'd worked herself too hard. OK, maybe that's not exactly how he meant it. Although the attractive possibilities of that thought were not lost on him. But what he did mean was that he knew when she needed rest and he knew what he had to do to make sure she got it. She knew it too, which is why she backed down so easily, this time anyway.
She stood and stretched. He tried not to watch as the already tight black shirt pulled even more taught against her body. Did she really need to do that standing so close?
Sam made her way toward the door, but just before exiting she turned back into the room.
"Sir." She waited until she had his full attention. "If we won, I'd go."
Neither moved for several seconds. Both in shadow, it was impossible to see the expression on the other's face. They allowed the night to envelop and protect this small confession from stark reality as it dropped in silent stillness between them.
Sam gradually turned toward the door and slowly walked out, throwing one last thought over her shoulder as she disappeared. "But you do know we'd have to bring Daniel and Teal'c with us."
Jack smacked his lips together to suppress the wicked grin that threatened to overwhelm his usually stoney features. He was so making sure they won. And then he'd see about the whole inviting Daniel and Teal'c along.
There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're travelling with meNow I'm walking again to the beat of a drum
And I'm counting the steps to the door of your heart
Hey now, hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won't win