Title: Generally Speaking
Rating: All Ages
Characters/Pairing: Jack
Season/Episode: Season 9/10

Summary: The next day, in the Pentagon ... Timestamp meme sequel to The Embers Burn On.

Jack ran into Pearson in the hallway the next day. Not the main corridor, of course, where he could simply have nodded and kept moving. Not even in a conference room, where conversation would have kept to the essentials, to the business of running the Stargate Program and to what needed to be passed up to the Chief of Staff. No, this was a side passage, just outside a break room, with no way to escape that most dreaded part of working in the Pentagon every day: professional chit-chat.

Bad enough on a good day, but the day after Jack skipped out on Pearson's party without even making it into the building, particularly undesirable.

Nothing for it but to man up at this point, though.

"General," Jack said with a nod, as Pearson drew to a halt beside him.

"Jack." Pearson nodded back. "You know, you've had a while to get used to those stars, son. You should lighten up."

Jack winced. "See, I keep thinking if I pretend I'm not actually one of you, they'll take 'em back."

Pearson laughed. "If only it were that easy. There wouldn't be a one of us in the service."

Jack managed not to roll his eyes, despite his conviction that Hugh Pearson had been gunning for exactly this sort of berth since before he'd been commissioned. "Well," he said, "I'm the sort of guy that has to learn by doing."

"Aren't we all." Pearson shifted slightly. "Sorry you didn't make it last night. Karen asked after you."

"Uh, about that –"

But Pearson didn't seem interested in explanations, just barreled onward. "Did see Colonel Carter, though. Strange, that."

"Working under a mountain for a decade makes you a little strange, sir."

Pearson waved him off. "I met her when she was a kid, you know."

Jack grunted, non-committal.

"She was, what, about eleven, twelve years old? I remember because she was a strange kid. I was a electronics officer, you see – served under her father – and I swear she knew more about my job than I did. Talked my head off at a barbecue once, till her mother caught her at it and chased her off. "

Caught off guard, Jack snorted a laugh. "Hasn't changed, then."

"I'll take your word for it." Pearson paused and squinted at Jack – or maybe glowered was the better word. "You're like him, you know."

"Who?" Jack asked, confused.

"Jake. General Carter. Pain in the ass. Cantankerous sonofabitch."

Ah. "Thank you, sir." He'd never tell Pearson, of course, but it was the best compliment Jack had had in a good long while. Praise didn't really run rampant in the hallowed pentagonal halls.

Pearson pointed at Jack's shoulder. "He hated those stars, too. Did a lot of good with 'em, though."

"Yes, sir."

"Just so you get that, son."

Jack nodded. "Yes, sir."

"Cut it out, Jack."

"Yes, sir."

"Right." Pearson shook his head and set off to go wherever more-important generals went to spend their mornings.

Jack, meanwhile, exhaled a little in relief. That hadn't been so bad, after all.

But then Pearson called back to him from down the hallway.

"Karen wants you for dinner next week," he said, "since she didn't get to see you last night. We'll have the Senator, too. A nice little party, she says."

Jack sighed.

"Yes, sir."