Factual Errors and Omissions
The Adventures of Nerdy Carter and First Sergeant O'Neill: Episode IV
Based upon Stargate: SG-1
Continuation of Chapter V of "Alternatives," "The Feynman Lectures on Physics," and "The Argument for Tau."
RATING NOTICE: There is a scene of a delicate nature here. It's not written explicitly, but the subject matter is generally concerning.
- . - - - . -
It was times like these that she missed her job at the department of aerospace. Things were so much easier when she was just reading reports every day, looking for factual errors and omissions. She was good at that. This, not so much.
Martis leaned in towards her again. Sam gave him a little shove, trying not to choke on the fumes of liquor radiating off him.
"Come now, Doctor," he leered, "you people are here to bring our cultures closer together, right?"
"Not that close," she muttered under her breath, looking around for Jack. She needed to get this thug off her, and hanging around Jack might give him the idea. The usual light shoving and saying 'no' wasn't getting him away from her. What more could she do? He was an Assemblyman. She didn't want to start an interplanetary incident.
Sam thought about a report she had read on gamma ray satellite optics a few years back. The writer had been a new researcher in the department and had had no problem with simply leaving out things he didn't have answers to. All but a few times, he completely avoided focal length discussions, radius of curvature analysis and the effects of varying indices of refraction.
Re-proofing the report in her head helped calm her nerves.
She thought about what she could do without completely ruining any and all relations between their peoples. Finally, Sam saw Jack across the tavern at a table several other men. There were playing dice.
She called his name, but he didn't hear her over the jovial noise of the small, overcrowded room. She got up, pushing past Martis, calling Jack's name again. This time he heard her and turned, a happy smile on his face. Martis took the opportunity to grab her arm and pull her towards him, trying to kiss her. Luckily, he was inebriated enough to be utterly baffled by her forearms against his chest, pushing him away.
Sam didn't really know what happened next, but as soon as she got her bearings, she saw Martis was on the floor trying to cover his face from the blows Jack was raining down on him. She screamed his name, but he didn't seem to hear.
Some of the other locals jumped onto Jack, whether to just stop him from beating one of their own to death or to fight back, she didn't know. Jack assumed they were all simply attacking him and he started throwing punches at them, as well. All she could see was a rush of flying limbs.
Jack was standing over Martis, who was bleeding and not moving. Men came at him from all sides. Several he stopped with a strong blow to the face, sending them careening backwards, but they were soon back in the fray, blood pouring from their faces. Jack ducked as a few came at him and sent them flying across the tavern into cheering and jeering spectators or over tables, spilling alcohol and spirits all over the floor.
Major Jackson and Teal'c were there in no time, pulling people away from Jack. The Major narrowly dodged Jack's fist heading at his face. She was sure Jack no longer knew he was fighting. Somehow his body had turned on automatic and he was just trying to protect himself from the onslaught. She knew from personal experience - of a very different nature - that Jack had extreme power in and control over his body.
Some of the sober locals pulled the fighting locals back and, somehow, Teal'c took hold of Jack's arms, pinning them back and holding him still. If Teal'c had been a smaller man, he likely would not have succeeded.
Martis lay on the floor, bleeding, but conscious. Blood gushed from his nose and his split lip, as well as from the three gashes across his forehead and right cheek.
Jack had a small cut in his lip as well. From the way it watered and he continued to blink, she could tell that he had been punched in the eye as well.
"FIRST SERGEANT O'NEILL!" Major Jackson yelled and held his lapels tight, trying to bring Jack back to the situation.
Jack's chest heaved, but he looked up from Martis to the Major.
"Dial the 'gate," he said, anger dripping from his words.
"Sir," Jack tried to argue.
"Dial the damn stargate and go through it! Wait for me in the briefing room and we'll have a conversation!"
Jack looked at her. Sam couldn't identify the expression on his face.
Major Jackson grabbed his chin roughly and pulled his attention back. "Don't look at her! Go!"
Sam watched him storm away, the people parting like the Red Sea before him. She looked at Major Jackson, who watched him leave. Once the door to the tavern slammed shut, he looked at her. "Are you alright?" he asked in a much gentler tone, but one still heavy with excitement and agitation.
She nodded. "I'm fine."
"Stick with Teal'c, will you?"
She nodded and took the few steps over to him. She looked up at him and forced a smile.
"Did Martis injure you?" he asked in a deep tone that conveyed his concern.
She shook her head. "No. I'm alright." He put his hand on her shoulder for a small bit of tactile comfort.
Sam turned back to see Major Jackson attempting to stare down the Speaker of the Assembly, who was rushing over in an irate mood. The man had had a few drinks as well, but it appeared as if he had known his limit.
"What is the meaning of this?" he demanded.
"Your assemblyman attacked one of my people," Major Jackson said, immediately jumping on the offensive.
"One of your people savagely beat one of our lawmakers as well as injured several of our citizens."
"He was protecting a member of my team. He was completely within his rights to do so."
"There is a difference between defense and offense."
"I agree, Speaker. First Sergeant O'Neill may have overreacted when Martis attacked Doctor Carter, but you must remember that at least half a dozen of your people attacked one of mine."
The Speaker took a deep breath and turned to her, realizing that Jack's actions where in response to a threat towards her. At least these people were chivalrous, when they weren't completely inebriated. "Forgive me, Doctor Carter, Martis has never been an intelligent drinker."
She wanted to respond, but couldn't think of anything to say.
Thankfully, Major Jackson spoke instead, "I know a few of them myself. In light of the situation, we'll head back to our planet and return in a few days. I'll bring another team with me and perhaps we can try this again."
The Speaker smiled falsely. "That sounds like an acceptable solution. Talon and his squad will accompany you to the Stargate." He gestured towards a few members of their military.
Major Jackson smiled politely. "That isn't necessary. We can find our own way back." He motioned for her and Teal'c to grab their gear and head towards the door. "Good evening, Speaker, the celebration certainly was . . . exciting."
Sam and Teal'c headed out and were followed by Major Jackson. She turned her mind back to satellite optics. Depending on the index of refraction the light could be focused differently. She drew rays of light in her head. The familiar angles and intersections focused her thoughts. When they were about halfway to the gate, Sam turned to the Major.
He spoke before she got a chance to answer the question she had not voiced. "I didn't tell them you were married because I wanted to make it clear that we all protect each other, vehemently, not just that Shirt can get violent when he's jealous."
Sam opened her mouth again to speak. Jack hadn't been acting in jealousy, but concern for her.
"I know, Doctor," he said, seeming to read her thoughts again. She thought she was wearing a neon sign that was spelling out what she was thinking. "He was concerned about your safety, as he should have been. I was too," he added as an after thought.
She wasn't sure if he trying reassure her or convince her or . . . or what. She didn't know how to respond, so she didn't, she thought about light patterns resulting from lenses instead.
- . -
Dan looked up as they came through the 'gate. Shirt was standing in the Briefing Room. He still looked angry. He handed his weapons to the airman in front of him and headed towards the Briefing Room.
He wasn't going to be confrontational. He wasn't doing to dress Shirt down, even though the situation likely warranted it. He definitely wasn't going to have a picnic when he went back to establish a trade relationship for . . . whatever Carter said improved naquada generator efficiency. It wasn't vital, and they could easily move on, but they were trying to build a galaxy-wide reputation. Another trade relation with a back water planet could be invaluable.
Pausing in the stairwell, he took a deep breath. He wasn't going to dress him down. Dan continued up.
"I hope you realize how difficult you've made things," he said softly, but sternly.
The words were barely out of his mouth when Shirt fired back angrily, "He was gettin' handsy, Major!"
"I don't care!" Dan shouted back. Well, that didn't come out right, but Shirt definitely wasn't in the mood for a pleasant conversation about standard operating procedures. "A brawl is not the way to solve that kind of situation, tentative ally or not. You beat up one of their favored and most influential politicians!"
"She is my wife!"
"I know that! That doesn't make it right!"
Shirt's voice dropped, "What if it was Doctor Fraiser?"
Dan imagined the scenario for a split second. They had gone to college together and he had pulled a drunken frat boy off her more than once.
"Can you honestly say that you wouldn't have hit him?"
"Of course I would've hit him! I wouldn't have beaten a drunk man into a bloody pulp!"
Shirt opened his mouth to respond but fell silent when Dan held up his hand to stop him.
This wasn't about jealousy, Dan realized. There was something more, something Shirt wasn't admitting to. "I know things are different for you when it comes to her," he said in an understanding tone.
Shirt didn't respond, and tried to mask his reaction. Dan knew he had hit close to home. He was getting there. There was something there, beneath the jealous rage, Dan just wished he could pry Shirt open and see what the hell it was.
"That's why this isn't going on your record. I'll talk to General West tomorrow and explain what happened. I'll return in a few days with another team and we'll sort it out. In the meantime, go home, and don't come back tomorrow."
"Sir," Shirt tried to protest, seeing it as a punishment and nothing more. But it was more, Shirt needed time to cool down and face what ever it was behind the rage.
Dan held up his hand again to stop him. "We were supposed to be off-world anyway. Go home, cool off, find out what happened." Again, Shirt tried to shield a reaction. There it was again, the thing that Shirt wasn't admitting to. "Spend the day with your wife," he said softly.
Shirt exhaled loudly, accepting defeat or a temporary set back at the very least. "Yes, Sir," he said in a resigned voice.
Dan regarded him for a few more seconds before dismissing him. He sank down into one of the chairs, intending on planning is conversation with the general, but was distracted by Shirt's behavior.
There was something there, he was sure. It almost seemed like fear. Of course, fear begged the question: What the hell was an experienced PJ afraid of?
- . - . -
Sam frowned and drummed her fingers against her desk. She was trying to reason two complicated problems. First, there was a 3% loss of efficiency between two transistors in the converter assembly of the newest model of the naquada generator, and no one could explain why. Second, there was something bothering her husband and it was more than simple jealousy.
It wasn't that he was just being protective. She had seen him being protective before, he was protective of everyone. It was who he was. He had always been protective of her, the nerdy little scientist who tagged along with their spec ops team. He was always protective if they had anyone with them, from other scientists, to Janet, to other teams. He was even protective of Teal'c and the Major.
This was different.
Jealousy . . . She had seen him jealous as well. A short time after they'd gotten engaged, they were all exposed to something they later called the Broca Virus. She had jumped him in the locker room, or so they told her. She really couldn't remember much of anything from when she was infected. Jack and the Major had gotten in a fight, over her.
Well, not so much a fight, as Jack had attacked him and the Major fought back. He had been jealous then, but he had been affected by a weird alien disease.
Later, after everyone had recovered, General West gave everyone some time off. She had stopped off at home for a change of clothes and a little housekeeping before heading over to his place. She had sat on his lap on his Lay-Z-Boy, as they often did. He had seemed pensive, even in their comfortable silence, but she was as well.
"You told me 'no,'" she had said.
"What?" he had asked.
Too nervous to look him in the eye, she didn't turn around, but stared at their hands, which were linked together.
She knew he wasn't the biggest hand-holder, but obliged her. She really liked it. She liked how his hands were warm and worn, and fit nicely around hers. Whenever they held hands, it was a small reminder that she was, indeed, normal enough to have a relationship and lucky enough to have found the perfect one.
"Before, when I . . ." she physically couldn't say the word jumped, so she improvised, "propositioned you . . . You said no."
She remembered hearing him take a deep breath and release it slowly, thinking of good words. He wasn't the greatest orator in the world, but he was proficient at getting his point across, except about feelings and "girly stuff." "I knew it wasn't you," he had said at last. He took another deep breath, she knew he was preparing himself to say something that was going to make her uncomfortable. "As much as I want you, and I do want you. I want you, not some hormone-driven cave-woman version."
She had been unable to respond for several seconds. During their courtship and engagement, he had been more than understanding about her conservative values and traditional upbringing, especially because she didn't like to talk about the subject and left a lot for him to figure out on his own.
"Why'd you pick me?" The question had caught her off-guard, at the time.
She had still been thinking about how well he had taken care of her, especially under the circumstances and he had blind-sighted her. "What?" was the only thing that could've flown out of her mouth at the time, considering her shock.
"Why'd you pick me," he repeated. "You were all cave-woman and hormone-driven, why'd you pick me? I mean . . . Major Jackson's at least ten years younger than I am and . . . since he's the officer, that kind of makes him the Alpha." he said in a tone that she hadn't really heard him use before.
At the time, she had thought he was being jealous. In retrospect, it was obvious he wasn't jealous, but afraid. He was concerned about her leaving him for a younger man.
"I didn't want him," she said simply. Thinking twice, she amended her statement quickly. "Don't. I don't want him."
He buried his face in her hair and kissed the top of her head.
"I love you," she said.
He squeezed her hands, "I love you," he said quietly.
At the time, she hadn't registered his tone. Thinking back now, as she cleared off the leads of converter assembly, she could tell he had been grateful that she loved him and was, at least, slightly concerned that she would find a "better" option. The thing was, she didn't want a "better" option. She wanted him.
It dawned on her.
He knew that, right?
He knew that he was the only man she had really wanted since her lab partner in her last year as a grad-student. He had to. Maybe he didn't. Sure, she married him, but maybe he didn't see it like she did. Maybe there were times that he was concerned that he hadn't given her her fairy tale ending. Maybe there were times that he thought that she chose him because he was her last or only option.
Sam couldn't think of why he thought that. It simply factually inaccurate. Okay, so she hadn't really had any other prospects at the time, or for a long while before, either . . . and most likely not for a long time after, either. But that didn't mean anything, not to her, at least.
Reconnecting the control and diagnostic feed to her laptop, she fired up the generator. She smiled when the power readings were nominal. Then . . . nope. She was reading the same loss in efficiency. Sam frowned to herself. Great, little progress on either one of her problems. "Darn," she said.
"Ready to go?" she heard Jack ask.
Sam looked up from her lap table to see Jack leaning against her doorway. "Oh, hi," she said, surprised to see him. He had a little smirk on his face. It was his my-wife-is-so-darn-cute smirk. She gave him a tight smile. "Let me just pack up," she said.
She shut down her computer and put it in her briefcase, along with the three lab reports that had wound up on her desk over the course of the day. She tidied up her lab table, liking to leave things cleaned up when she wasn't coming back the next day. Everything was pretty much taken care of because she was supposed to be off world, so she didn't have much to do.
She looked up and he had a frown on his face. He was probably thinking the same thing that she was - she was tidying up because they weren't coming back the next day, and that was his fault. She turned off the lights to her lab and they made their way to the elevator. He swiped his card.
Sam smiled when he held his hand out to her, offering to take her briefcase. She gave it to him, appreciating his thoughtfulness. She knew that he did it because she liked the old fashioned gesture.
They stood in silence in the elevator. She looked up at him, she was staring straight ahead, his face not betraying any emotion. She grabbed his hand and squeezed it gently. When he looked down at her, she offered him a comforting smile. "Are you alright?" she asked in response to his sour disposition.
"Shouldn't I be asking you that?" he replied. It was a typically evasive answer. He didn't want to answer. She recognized the fact that he might not know the answer, and instead of admitting it, he omitted it - a common fault in the technical reports.
"I'm fine," she reassured him in the best tone she could. And she was. She was okay. The drunk hadn't really gotten to her that much. She was far more concerned about him than she was about herself. "Really," she smiled for him.
The smile he returned couldn't have been more false. "Then I am too," he said with fake sincerity. He may have been able to fool someone else, but not her, she knew how to spot omissions, especially his. He may have even been able to fool himself, but not her.
On their trip home he asked her about her naquada generator project and she prattled on, knowing that he wasn't really paying attention to anything she said. She knew he was comforted by the fact that she sounded at ease. They had a small quiet dinner, and turned in early. She let him shower first while she looked through the reports, in preparation for going through them in detail tomorrow.
He was in bed and asleep by the time she got out of the shower and into some pajamas. At least, he was pretending to be asleep, she knew he was faking. However, she didn't let him know she was on to him because he had been angry all night. He certainly wasn't angry at her, but he was angry, so she decided to let him sleep it off.
Pulling the blankets up over her shoulders and turning over to get comfortable she planned out their conversation for the next day. She was going to tell him that he was never her last option and that there was no reason for him to be jealous. He was very possibly the greatest thing that had ever happened to her.
- . -
She screamed his name.
He tried to get to her.
Something held him back. His arms. His arms. They were tied behind it back. He was on his knees and they, too, were tied, as were his ankles. He tried to move, but he couldn't. Jack was completely immobilized. He yelled her name.
Sam screamed his name again. A man threw her to the ground. She cried out as he held her arms down.
Jack tried to loosen his bonds to get to her. He couldn't. He couldn't get to her. He couldn't reach her.
He felt a surge of pride when Sam swung her leg around and caught the man in the side of the head with her boot. Jack cried out in pain with her when the man landed a solid punch on her abdomen.
He watched her gasp for breath as tears rolled down her face. She continued to struggle, but the man pinned her legs with his own and started ripping off her uniform, rending the material to shreds. She cried out for him, screaming his name, tears streaming down her face.
Tears rolled down his as well.
They both continued to fight, trying to deny the futility of their efforts.
He couldn't get to her. He couldn't save her.
He screamed her name.
He fought so hard against his bonds he lost his balance and fell onto his stomach. He lifted his head to keep sight of her. He saw the man grope her roughly. She cried out for him. The ties cut into his wrists as he struggled against them. His shoulders ached, on the verge of being pulled out of their sockets.
Jack felt like he was going to throw up. His voice was raw from screaming her name. A knot formed in his throat from the tears, he called out to her anyway.
He couldn't get to her.
He couldn't save her.
She screamed his name.
- . -
Jack started. He ran his hand over his face, which was moist from tears. Nightmares didn't often wake him, but this one did. He rolled over and grabbed Sam's arm. "Sam," he said, his voice sounding thick to his own ears, the knot was still in his throat. His vision was slightly blurred, most likely because his eye was a little swelled from the hit he had taken off world.
She mumbled something about him going back to sleep.
"Sam," he said again, he could hear the emotion in his voice.
She rolled over to him, realizing something was wrong. "Jack?" she asked, peering at him through the darkness. "What's wrong?"
"It's not jealousy," he said. He pulled her flush against his body. He wrapped both arms around her, trapping her arms between their bodies. He squeezed her tight, so tight it hurt. His wrists and shoulders hurt from struggling against his restraints, even though it had only happened in his head.
"What?" she asked, freeing one hand and placing it on the side of his face. She fingered around his eye gently. He winced involuntarily, realizing that it was probably black and blue. At that moment, he didn't really care.
"I don't act the way I do because I'm jealous. I act that way because I'm scared for you."
Her expression changed from one of worry to one of understanding. Her thumb stroked his cheek. She shushed him gently and freed her other hand, bringing it to his face.
He realized he was shaking.
She kissed his lips softly and whispered soft gentle words, trying to calm him. She ran her fingers through his hair and rested her hand at the back of his neck. She could probably feel his heart beating in through both their chests. "What did you see?" she asked softly.
"What if I can't protect you? What if something happens and I can't be there to save you?"
Her eyes slipped closed, probably in realization of his dream. He knew she didn't know exactly, but she was smart enough that she could make a close enough guess. "It's okay. Nothing's going to happen."
"You don't know that," he said. Anything could happen out there.
"Jack," she began.
"No, really," he said, defending himself. "There is so much out there we don't know about. There are bad people who have no problems with raping and pillaging and . . ."
"So what are you going to do?" she asked. "Lock in me the house?"
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. She was right. What was he going do? "I just want you to be safe," he admitted quietly, meeting her gaze.
Sam kissed his lips again, and rested her forehead against his. "That's not a bad thing."
"I'm just so scared for you," he whispered ashamedly. He was a pararescue jumper, damn it, he wasn't supposed to act like this. "I don't know what I would do if I wasn't there to protect you."
She was silent for a second. "Then help me protect myself."
He opened his eyes. "What?"
"Help me protect myself. Help me get better with my gun and teach me a little hand-to-hand." She smiled sheepishly. "Every little girl wants to grow up to learn how to beat up a guy twice her size."
Despite the fear in his heart, he smiled and kissed her. "You're really important to me."
She smiled and wiggled around a little, settling onto her back and resting his head on her breast, leaving his arms tight around her. "You're really important to me, too," she whispered back.
- . - A short time later
Sam stood tight behind Jack, right up against a wall. It was dark and raining and they were waiting for Major Jackson and Teal'c to get back from their meeting with an undercover Tok'ra in the seedy metropolis that was this Goa'uld city. Through the rain, she listened intently, looking over Jack's shoulder. The tactile contact comforted her.
She heard something from behind her and something touched her arm. Without thinking, she reacted, just like Jack had taught her. With several well practiced moves, she had the man who had touched her arm up against the alley wall with his arm pinned behind his back and her pistol pressed into his side.
Then she took stock of the situation. She released him immediately, almost dropping her weapon to the ground. "Oh my God, Major!" She holstered her weapon and covered her mouth with her hands. "I am so sorry."
Major Jackson gripped his shoulder and rotated his arm, grimacing in pain. "Gonna have to explain that one to the wife," he said.
Jack slid his arm around her waist and kissed her cheek, something he never did off world. She blushed. "That's my girl."
She looked up at him, terrified and wide eyed. She had just assaulted their team leader.
Jack had a giant smile on his face. "That's my girl."
- . - FIN - . -