Because everyone really wanted to know. Just remember, this twist ties into many aspects of the story. More A/Rambling at the bottom. Go read and... Enjoy!
~ 6 ~
The General has a prosthetic leg; she didn't see that one coming.
Sam knew that she was blatantly staring, and quickly closed her open mouth with an audible snap. How the hell had she missed that?
His right leg had been amputated below the knee and was now supported by a black steel rod and fibreglass shaped into a curve. She recalled seeing the same devices utilised by athletes in the Paralympics. Sure, she knew he favoured his left leg and tended to walk a little slowly, but his limp had never been pronounced enough for her to suspect this. There was some heavy scarring over his knee; he must have lost it in a conflict.
"Doctor?" he ground out. Had she not been so absorbed in the revelation, she would have noticed the growl in his voice. When he stepped off his treadmill, Sam became fascinated in the movement of the prosthetic. It looked so springy.
He came close enough to Sam that she had to look up. She came here for a reason. Didn't she?
She finally remembered why she came, and lifting her chin said, "I did it. I've finished the program to dial the Stargate."
He still looked pissed. Now that he was standing close, closer than she'd ever gotten to him before, she could see a line of sweat darkening the collar of his shirt.
"And you couldn't wait an hour and a half to tell me? When you're actually expected on the base."
Excuse me? Was he actuallyangry that she had worked through the entire night to bring him the results he had been pestering her for the past week about? No, he was snippy because she had barged in and found out about his little injury. He was like every other old General she had known: too damned proud for his own good.
"You're right. Next time I'll wait for you to be more presentable before I revolutionise modern physics."
His eyes darkened. Oh yes. She had pushed a button. The General folded his arms across his chest in an attempt to look intimidating. Had he been talking to anyone else, he would have been successful. But Sam was the daughter of a General and knew all the tricks in the book.
"Maybe one of your other employees will be willing to pull an all-nighter to install it," she dropped her laptop onto his desk and stormed out, but turned back at the door, "by the way, I won't be in today."
And then she was gone.
Sam made it into the elevator before she gave into the urge to kick something. In this case, it was the nearest wall. She shook her head and let out an irritated growl. The man was infuriating! So he'd lost a leg. It happens. God forbid it would make his men look at him any differently. It was always about the way you present yourself. The way you wear your uniform. The way you speak. Even the way you react. They were all components to a very large image. Apparently, the General seemed to feel that such an obvious injury would make himself appear weaker. Which was ridiculous.
Sam fell against the wall and sighed. "Insufferable man."
It wasn't his fault. She knew that. Yes, his bad attitude towards her after the long night she had had, was unwarranted. But the fact that he got angry about being seen in a moment of 'weakness' was more humanising than the actual injury. He was evidently insecure about it.
Sam pressed the button for her level. The General wasn't reallyan ass.
But he would have to ask her very, very nicely to upload her program into the mainframe.
~ SJ ~
Jack's shoulders slumped as he released a deep breath. Well that quickly went from awkward to worse. While the good Doctor - and she was, as he had discovered, very good at what she did - may not have deserved his surly response, he was in no mood to apologise. It was quarter to seven in the morning! Why the hell was she even in so early anyway?
Jack turned to the innocuous laptop and mess of cords on his desk.
"...Pull an all-nighter?" Jack muttered, reaching for his red phone and placing a call to the gates on the surface. He traced the side of the Doctor's computer while he waited for the guard to answer. When they did, he began to tap his fingers, still eying the device that had taken up a good portion of his desk.
"General O'Neill here. Can you tell me what time Doctor Samantha Carter signed out last night?" He waited for the Airman to check the logs.
"She checked out at seventeen oh eight, Sir..." That was normal. She works from eight til five, Monday to friday. "... but she signed back in around twenty-one twenty last night, and unless there's a mistake, she's still on the base. I'll have to check that out Sir, there must be a problem-"
"No problem Airman. She's still on base." He hung up and tapped his desk. No wonder she snapped. After working on a computer program all night, he'd be grumpy, too. Sure, he would have preferred to keep his disability a secret, especially from an inquiring mind such as hers, but in the grand scheme of things, he didn't really care.
He was doing well with his rehabilitation - with Janet's consistent treatment and mother-henning - and it was bound to come out eventually. If he was honest to himself, she stood out as the one person he didn't want knowing about his injury, because she would be the most likely to question it. George and Kawalsky; they respected him enough to not talk about it. Janet only spoke to him from a medical perspective. His own men would never ask. The civilians were too afraid to.
Doctor Carter, on the other hand, was definitelynot afraid of him.
The moment Jack thought that might be an endearing quality, he shook his head.
~ SJ ~
"Catherine is coming in... Are you alright, Doctor?" Leslie quickly noticed the frown Sam wore as she returned to her lab.
"Not entirely. Just had a bit of an argument with someone," Sam didn't look at her assistant as she sat down and dropped her head onto her folded arms.
"With who?" Leslie pressed. Sam said nothing but growled at her workbench. Her head shot up when the man in question supplied the answer.
"Unfortunately, with me."
Sam looked at the General with wide eyes. He was in a pair of black track pants and now sporting a pair of Nike sneakers. He must have a second prosthetic. Leslie looked between her boss and the General. Sensing that she may not be privy to the conversation to follow, she relieved the General of the laptop in his hands and escaped into the hall.
Sam sat up and smoothed her hair. She probably looked awful. She noticed the increase in her heart-rate as General O'Neill approached her workbench. The man actually looked a little, dare she say, sheepish. Well, holy Hannah.
After a moment of very uncomfortable silence, he spoke.
"So, you finished the program?"
"Yes. I just needed to apply some octal mathematics for the computer to compensate for interstellar drift..." she trailed off when she realised the General didn't really care. By the look on his face, he didn't understand what she was saying anyway. "...Yes. I finished the program."
"You did well."
A compliment? Was it her birthday?
The General nodded and turned towards the door, pushing his hands into his pockets. He figured they were back on speaking terms.
"General?" She called before he made it through the door. Jack turned back.
"I won't say anything. I know it's not my place to." Her eyes flicked down to his right leg. The General lifted his head in surprise.
"Thanks," he replied quietly. More quietly than the confident bark she was used to. She continued to stare at the door once he was gone. After a minute, Sam decided it was time for a shower, some coffee and then she would go and ready the Stargate for its first activation.
~ SJ ~
More A/Rambling: Apologies for the lateness. I've gotten extra work hours *grumble grumble* Thank you for all of the wonderful reviews everyone! I'm amazed at how well this story is being received. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this development. Is it believable? Is it too AU or dramatic? Next chapter: Abydos mission :) Yes, the next chapter of 'Syracuse' is on its way. I'm writing it, like, right this second.