A/N: Drabble Challege #7 for the 2012 Ship Day celebration was simply titled 'Turning Point'. For some reason, my muse latched on to this and that is where things went horribly wrong: instead of 100 words or less, it ballooned to what you see below.
Thank you, hedwig for being a tolerant Beta, as always.
TAG to Season 1 episode 'Politics' (provided by Stargate Wiki): "After experiencing a Goa'uld invasion in an alternate reality, Dr. Daniel Jackson attempts to warn Stargate Command of the possibility of it happening in this reality. The government, however, has other plans as Senator Robert Kinsey evaluates the dangers of the Stargate program."
A/N #2: At the End
"Alright, Daniel…when you were in this alternate reality, were there differences?"
"Yes. Uh, Teal'c was leading the attack on Earth. I wasn't even part of the program. You and Jack were engaged to be married…," Daniel trailed off.
"Wait a minute. Let…Let me get something straight here…," he gestured between himself and his second officer, "Engaged?"
"It is theoretically possible." Did Carter sound indignant?
"It's against regulations!"
"I'm talking physics, sir."
Focus –he needed focus, but the more Jack O'Neill tried to concentrate on the problem at hand: somehow stopping Senator Kinsey from shutting down the Stargate program and dooming the entire planet to death and domination by the Goa'uld, the more his mind spun back to this one conversation from earlier in the day.
She had been talking about alternate timelines, but that was not what he had heard. In the grand scheme of things, this conversation was too insignificant to be taking up so much head space, but he just couldn't shake himself loose from it.
He paused at the elevator and pushed the call button, plunging his hands into his pockets as he waited impatiently.
He wasn't blind…he'd have to be dead and buried not to notice that Samantha Carter was attractive: blonde hair, blue eyes, tall and athletic…she turned heads just by walking into a room; being a female Air Force officer made her stand out even more. He had noticed –he had not stepped one toe out of line, but he HAD noticed; it was just natural for a guy to notice a pretty girl, right?
Blame it on nature.
The elevator car arrived with a rattle and a swish of doors –he was relieved to find it empty: he really was in no mood to socialize. Stepping in, he pressed the button for the commissary level; he doubted Senator Kinsey would lower himself to mingling with the airmen over lunch, so he could avoid running into the man for a few more minutes. It would be safer that way, because he was fairly certain that he might not be able to resist the urge to wipe that sanctimonious look off the good senator's face, and damn the consequences.
Carter would quietly talk him out of it –even if she wasn't in the room, her voice would speak logic into his brain like some damn conscience. No matter how shaken she was by all of this; she would remind him not to throw away his career for an ass like Kinsey.
He closed his eyes and leaned back against the metal wall of the elevator, letting the coolness soak into him. Her name hung in the metallic air, demanding attention. He sighed heavily.
Most of the time Carter seemed unaware of the effect she had on others, and when she did notice it made her uncomfortable: he wondered if she thought people judged her by physical appearance rather than her abilities. He had been guilty of some of those misconceptions, early on, but she had blown away his preconceived notions with incredible displays of resourcefulness and intelligence. Carter's mind was something special, a treasure.
Worst of all, he knew how she felt…
…how she tasted.
Despite his rigid attempt to control his thoughts, he flashed back: locker room air thick with steam, hot and heavy in the enclosed space; Carter invading his personal space -pressing against him, pulling him closer, burying herself into him; the taste of her –for a moment, too shocked to react, he just tasted her, felt the huff of her breath across his lip, the exhale mingling with the moist air, with his own stuttering breath.
It had been something primal, aggressive: so out of character for Sam Carter that he broke from her and restrained her, taking her to the infirmary as quickly as possible. Fighting his own responses to a very willing Carter had taxed the limits of his self control.
He had to voluntarily derail the dangerous train of thought, something he had had to do on occasion, but nothing he couldn't handle.
Oh…he still thought about it…from time to time.
The elevator opened on level 22; he shuffled out of the car and down the corridor.
But noticing her was one thing –thinking about anything more than a professional relationship was another thing entirely, a very dangerous thing. He was her commanding officer, for cryin' out loud! Others had done it –commanding officers becoming involved with their subordinates. He sighed. The situations he heard about had ended in ruin for both parties and their careers.
He paused and rubbed a hand over his face, shocked that he had even let his mind wander so deeply into restricted territory. He peered up and down the corridor, grateful that he was blessedly alone for the moment.
He didn't know why he was even thinking these damn thoughts –he sucked at relationships. Thoughts of relationships inevitably lead to thoughts of Sarah. He had had everything: the cascade of memories threatened to crush him -blonde hair and dazzling smile, eyes twinkling as she swung the baby up onto her hip, finger-brushing his unruly brown hair out of his face. The rush left him feeling spent and physically sick, as it always did. He braced himself with a hand against the concrete wall of the corridor and squeezed his eyes shut. Slowly the emotion receded, shoved back behind the door he kept locked for his own sanity.
He froze. How did she do that? The act of thinking about her seemed to conjure her out of thin air. He swung slowly in her direction, keeping his expression carefully neutral and relaxing his posture to his usual slouch.
"Hey, Carter," he said brightly.
"Are you ok?" The honest concern in her voice made him waver momentarily, but he quickly applied his signature smirk.
"Just hungry." He waved vaguely in the direction of the commissary, "You want to join me, Carter? I'm pretty sure the honorable Senator Kinsey wouldn't dream of offending his pompous Washington palate with Air Force grub, so we can safely avoid unnecessary unpleasantness…assault…court martial…et cetera…"
She was smiling by the end of his ramble and she ducked her head to hide it; in spite of himself he found himself grinning with her.
"Yes, Sir…I'd love to."
His mouth was as dry as a desert as she fell in step beside him.
It is theoretically possible.
She started almost immediately to talk about how ill-conceived the idea of closing the Stargate was, and how long it would take the Goa'uld to arrive by ship based on her calculations, but he didn't hear most of what she said –he just watched her talk as they moved slowly down the hall. The harsh fluorescent lighting did nothing to dull the natural shine of her short-cropped hair; at one point she looked up into his face as she made some important point –her expression so earnest and open that he felt a constricting in his chest in response.
It's against regulations!
Like a litany, the regulation began to play in his head: Fraternization…violates the customary bounds of acceptable behavior in the Air Force and prejudices good order and discipline…the President specifically provided for the offense of fraternization in the Manual for Courts-martial…
Damn the President! He was the one letting Kinsey spoon-feed him crap.
The Stargate program was ending. That didn't mean that he would stop fighting the Goa'uld, but if the Air Force had given up, he might need to retire…again…in order to follow his conscience and continue the fight. He wasn't sure where that would take him –maybe he could slip through the Stargate with Teal'c before they closed it permanently: Hammond was still holding the door open for the off-world teams, and they weren't expected back for a few hours. Either way…no Air Force, no regulations.
Maybe Carter would come with them.
They turned the final corner and he opened the commissary door, letting her pass through ahead of him, still talking animatedly about the situation.
It is theoretically possible…
A/N #2: Thank you to kalinysta for the 'affect'/'effect' grammar correction! I have updated (and I can't believe I made that mistake).