Note: First appear in "I'm Just Sayin' ... #2" Fanzine. Slightly revised from the fanzine version. Set around early Season 7.
The little girl was bored out of her tiny blonde head. She couldn't have been more than seven years old and she was wearing a blue jeans overall over her white T-shirt. She played with her black baseball cap while staring at the green field around her. There were only several houses around the area and a lot of sheep. If she had trouble sleeping at night, she could just go out and count the sheep outside. Her Mom would have a fit, but she always knew that her Dad would back her up, calling it a sense of adventure.
Note to self: Don't forget to bring the big umbrella and waterproof sleeping bag if she ever feel the need to do just that. The weather was a bit wet here.
The little girl was not only bored, she was irritated as well. Her father had just said something that ticked her off. And that was never a wise course of action, because she might do something stupid that could affect the rest of her life. At least that's what her Mom always said.
Suddenly, she heard a yell from afar. Reluctantly, she got up from the grass and turned her head toward the source of the racket, where she saw something disturbing. If there was something that annoyed her more than her Dad being the know-it-all Dad, it had to be bullying. And that was exactly what she saw with her angry pair of blue eyes.
She ran as fast as she could. Three kids were clustering around another one, and they were taunting the poor kid. She knew her Mom would literally wash her mouth out with soap if she repeated half of the words that they were saying in front of her, her Dad would only laugh and ask where she'd heard them from, while her brother would have looked at her in envy. The kid retaliated, but he was outnumbered.
"Let him go!" she screamed when she was within hearing range. Her blood was boiling.
One of the bullies turned his head toward her, but it was too late. The girl lunged at him, bringing the two of them tumbling to the ground. He was the biggest one out of the pack, and she knew that the first rule of gang fighting was to go for the leader.
"You good for nothing piece of scum," she said while sending the boy a fist that landed squarely on his jaw. She didn't know the meaning of the phrase, but she heard one of her father's friends say it when they were playing poker. And it seemed to fit her use. What could she say? She had a very good memory.
"Bloody hell, who are ya?" one of his companions finally demanded, clearly startled by her actions.
She left the unconscious boy alone (her first punch had successfully knocked him out) and stood up. "None of your business." She clenched her fists and made her stance. "But I'll have you know that you better not mess with me."
Sam Carter might have been a little girl, but she didn't have a big brother and a colonel as a Dad for nothing.
"Dad is so dead," I mutter under my breath. The memory is starting to come back now. The insignificant memory which turns out to be not as insignificant as I'd thought it was.
Dad, Dad, Dad.
If you are the man you were before the blending with Selmak, I refuse to speak to you again. Do you realize how much trouble you've caused?
You were supposed to take good care of your little girl, Dad, not push her toward the direction of a self-destructive abyss.
I look at my laptop screen again.
Reluctantly, I click the reply button.
It is an ordinary day, a day where people do what they do every day. A day in your life when nothing goes wrong.
Sadly, there is no such day in the SGC.
How was I supposed to know that replying to that e-mail was like signing my own death warrant? Tell me! How?
"What?"The scream belongs to Colonel O'Neill, in response to the news that an airman has just brought SG-1 and General Hammond in the briefing room. His fists are clenched tightly on the desk, his figure leaning forward toward the direction of the new arrival.
I knew that would be his response.
"Are you serious?" Daniel focuses his attention on the airman, and the irritation on having his presentation interrupted is replaced by amusement. The young officer is clearly uncomfortable; he didn't want to be the one who broke the news, but someone had to do the job.
I feel sorry for him.
No, wait! I don't.
I know he's just a messenger, but I can't help not feeling sorry for him. It is my world that the news has turned upside down after all.
"Are you sure, Airman?" The general gives the colonel a glance after his initial overreaction. The colonel sends him an apologetic look and leans back into his chair, forcing his own muscles to relax.
Meanwhile, Teal'c is frowning, trying to make sense of the information that he has just received while I seem baffled (I knew that taking that acting class in high school would come in handy in the future). I'm staring at the messenger with a strange expression on my face, forcing my lips to part slightly.
The airman clears his throat and shifts slightly. "Yes, sir. In fact, the man is quite insistent."
"Major?" The general turns his attention to me, waiting for my answer. Well, what could I say? It's not like I knew that this would happen. This scenario is notsupposed to happen. Not in a million years.
Colonel O'Neill, who is sitting next to me, nudges me gently on my shoulder with his. I turn around and give him a confused look.
"I think Sam doesn't know any more than we do, sir," Daniel observes.
Thanks Daniel. That should bail me out of my problems for a few moments. I need to think of something. And I need to do it fast.
Come on brain, you saved the world several times, how come you went AWOL on saving my butt this time?
What? You came up with nothing?
"Of course she doesn't, Daniel. She would have told us if she knew something about this." The colonel glances at me, gauging my reaction.
Oh Colonel, you have no idea.
"Sir, I'd like to talk to this man," I direct my request straight to the general, ignoring the narrowed eyes of my CO.
Hammond sighs and concedes to my request. "Very well, Major. See if you can get this sorted out. We'll postpone this briefing until 09.00 tomorrow."
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I might get out of this mess intact after all. I am starting to get up from my chair and walk in the direction of the elevator when -
"Sir, with your permission, I'd like to accompany Carter."
Please say "no," General. Please.
"Any particular reason, Colonel?" The general tries his best to not sound too suspicious of his 2IC's intentions.
"We don't know who this man is, sir. For all we know, he could be an NID agent or an alien that wants to infiltrate SGC. What better way to do that than through one of our own men?" the colonel reasons.
He has a point. But I know for sure that it's not the case.
Hammond lets out a small smirk.
It's not a good sign. It's never a good sign when the general smirks.
"Very well. In that case, Teal'c and Doctor Jackson should go with you, too."
I suddenly develop the urge to bang my head against a wall.
"With all due respect, sir. I can do this on my own," I protest. There's no way that I'm letting them know exactly what is going on.
"No one said that you couldn't do it, Carter." The colonel searches me with his eyes. I bet he knows that I am hiding something.
"Well, your actions said it loud and clear, Colonel."
As soon as the words come out of my mouth, I know that it's a big mistake.
Me getting defensive = I am definitely hiding something.
And all my teammates know that simple equation quite well. Thus ...
Suspicious Daniel and Teal'c + persistent Colonel O'Neill = Doomed Sam Carter.
Should've seen it coming.
The universe still has some mercy left for me.
The man is hot.
Short dark brown hair, clear green eyes, strong jaw, thin yet firm lips, and a very good dress sense as well. The white V-neck sweater doesn't hide the muscles he has and the brown pants are tight enough to outline his backside.
Definitely a hottie.
The nurses in the infirmary have diagnosed me as having immunity for cute guys, just because I don't go weak and all girlie in front of every pretty man that crosses my line of sight. They said that hanging around with three gorgeous men all the time did something to my appreciation of the male of the species.
It upgrades the quality of my man-o-meter a bit.
Okay, it upgrades the quality a lot. Only a total hunk could penetrate my defense system. And he is one of them.
He has an accent. And it's not a crude and annoying accent, but faint and polite accent. A posh kind of accent. You gotta love the Brits for their sexy accent.
That and Anne Robinson.
The universe is being kind to me.
"Yes. And I take it that you are Charles Ginder." I offer him my hand and he shakes it firmly.
"It is an honor to make your acquaintance again, milady," he says.
It's getting better and better. Wait until Janet hears about him. This guy is perfect.
Charles looks at me questioningly when the rest of my team enters the room.
"Ah, these are my friends. Colonel Jack O'Neill, Doctor Daniel Jackson and … Murray."
They don't shake hands, but they nod to each other in recognition.
"Please take a seat."
Once we are seated, I am reminded of the interrogation room scenario. Charles is sitting on one side of the table, while the rest of us sit on the opposite side.
Yup, there's no doubt in my mind. They are here to interrogate him.
"Now, how can I help you?" I ask carefully, aware that my companions will do something that I won't like sooner or later. I'm hoping for the 'later'.
The colonel raises his hand when Charles is just about to answer my question. "I'd like to ask several questions before we go there. If that's alright with you two."
I was trying my best to say 'no' in a polite way, but Charles beats me to it. "I have no objection. Please, ask any question you like."
Hey, I object.
"Are you really Sam's fiancée?" Daniel asks eagerly, without waiting for my permission.
Does my opinion matter? I'm not all right with it.
Charles smiles secretively and it's kinda sexy. I almost forget about my objection.
"Daniel, it's none of your business," I snap at him. My life is not an open book for them to read.
"She is. In a way," answers Charles.
Or maybe it isan open book for the whole world to read.
"What do you mean in a way?" This time, it was the colonel who asked the question.
"Well, it went back a long time ago, when -"
I clench my fist. This is my life, damn it, and I have control over my life.
"No," I say sternly and give everyone in the room a disapproving look. "I don't want them to know." I direct the last statement to Charles.
They will use it against me until the day I die. And after that. I can picture them telling the story at my eulogy. Myeulogy.
Over my dead body ...
... maybe that was the wrong phrase to use.
I turn around and face my friends, saying, "There's a good reason why we have the word 'secret' in every language. And let's just leave it there."
That ought to put them in their place.
"Well, yeah, but we have the word 'disclosure' in every language as well," retorts Daniel, looking anything but innocent.
"No," I repeat with more force in my voice, daring Daniel to continue the matter.
"Carter, be a sport." The colonel pats my back and grins widely. I glare at him.
"CharlesGinder, I wish to hear the tale of how you and MajorCarter pledged to one another," Teal'c interjects.
It's not fair. Three men conspire together against me.
"It will be my pleasure," Charles says.
Make it four cruel, insensitive men.
And screw the universe; she has a very sick sense of humor.
Charles Ginder was not a sissy boy, he was not weak and he was definitely not a coward. His parents raised him well. He was courageous, honorable, and loyal. A person worthy of the name Ginder.
He knew them. The three boys who had nothing better to do than prey on weaker boys. They picked on young kids and bullied them.
He didn't like them and their actions. In fact, he despised them. So he stood up against them. It was a brave and correct decision; sadly it was not a wise one. He should have known that those boys wouldn't play by the rules, dirty was their middle name and cheating was their nature.
Therefore, he was extremely grateful when the blond kid helped him out of his predicament. He was small, but strong, very strong. His first attack neutralized one of them. His accent was different from his; it sounded like he was an American. He was about his age, he thought, seven or eight years old, or maybe younger. It might have explained why he had never seen the kid before. If he had, he would have asked him for his help a long time ago to give the bullies a taste of their own medicine.
Together, they managed to subdue the other two.
"Thank you," he sent his gratitude to his new friend after the fight was over. Somehow he just knew that he would get along with the new kid.
"No problem," the kid said. He rubbed his bruised knuckles. "My Mom will go into her lecture mode if she sees this," he muttered. "What's your name? I'm Sam Carter by the way," he extended his hand and Charles gladly took it.
"Let me get it straight. She's kicked ass since she was seven?" the colonel couldn't hold his tongue.
"Four," automatically I correct him.
Four sets of eyes are focused on me.
"Four?" Daniel frowns.
Yes, Daniel. Four. My Dad named me Sam because he wanted another boy. He taught me how to fight long before I learned how to speak properly. His daughter had to know how to defend herself and he did a fine job of it. No one's dared mess with me ever since I learned how to walk. My brother and Dad don't count.
I've kicked ass since I was four years old. Ever since I made a scene in the park near where I was living and made my debut as a troublemaker. At least in my parents' eyes.
And I'm proud of it.
"Sir, Daniel. Charles is in the middle of telling a story. It's rude to interrupt." I refuse to give them more ammunition that could be used against me.
"Sorry," chorus both of them.
"Please continue, CharlesGinder," Teal'c encourages. "I wish to hear the rest of your tale."
"I'm Charles Ginder."
The kid looked at him in recognition. "Oh, you're Major Ginder's son, aren't you?"
"You know my father?"
"No, my Dad knows your Dad. He visited us yesterday to play poker. He told me about you."
Charles blinked twice. He only knew one of his father's friends whose name was Carter. "Your father is Colonel Carter?"
"Yup, that's him," the kid nodded.
Charles was not stupid. On the contrary, he was very smart for a boy his age. Colonel Carter was a great man, he liked him. He knew that the USAF colonel had two children, one boy and one girl.
He'd met the colonel's son.
His name was not Sam.
"You're a girl?" he managed to splutter.
The kid ruffled his, no wait, herblonde hair.
"The hair gives it away, doesn't it? I don't like having long hair, it's annoying. It kept getting dirty and it hurts when you comb it after you wash it. And to answer your question, yes, I'm a girl, although I may not look like it."
He stared at her blankly. "You're not angry?"
She tried to clean her hands by rubbing them on her jeans. "Angry? Why should I be angry?"
"Because I thought you were a boy," he treaded carefully. One of his mates made a girl cry when he made the same mistake. And a Ginder should never ever make a girl cry.
"Don't be silly. It's a compliment, not an insult," she snorted.
"But, the girls that I know find it offensive."
"Well, you just met one that's different from the others."
He grinned. He liked this girl, she wasn't like the others. She was one of a kind.
"Well, after that, we spent time together during her holiday," Charles concludes.
"Holiday?" Daniel asks.
"Yes, we met when her family was in England for holiday. They were staying at her aunt's place. It couldn't have been more than a fortnight."
"Ten days. We were there for only ten days, Dad only had two weeks of downtime," I supply the answer. "I came back to America and somehow we lost contact. I never really remembered all those times until he e-mailed me a couple days ago."
"How come you're not remembering all those times?" the colonel inquires curiously.
I just shrug. "I'm a military brat, remember? My family hardly stayed in one place long enough to make very close friends. I met new people, got to know them, hung out with them and then when we were relocated, we said goodbye. That's it. That's my way of life."
Besides, it wasn't something special. It wasn't the only time that I made a friend in that fashion.
"Wait a second." Colonel O'Neill gives me a look. "If he e-mailed you earlier, why were you so surprised when the airman told us that he was here?"
I don't expect less from him.
"He was just asking am I the Sam Carter that he knew. Just asking for confirmation. That's all."
"That's true, Colonel. And I am terribly sorry for the inconvenience Sam," Charles apologizes. "But I really need your help. I've been looking for you. I've asked most of my father's acquaintances that are still active in the military about your father. I would've asked my father, but he passed away three years ago."
"I'm so sorry to hear that," I offer him my condolence.
He smiles sadly. "That's okay. He went away peacefully. I knew that if I found your father, then I would find you as well. Imagine my surprise when they said that anyone who wanted to contact Jacob Carter should contact you first. So, I sent you the e-mail. And as soon as I received your reply, I flew here."
I nod at him. "So, what can I help you with?"
"You have not told us how the two of you became engaged," Teal'c sounds impatient. He is the only one who seems focused enough to get the story out in the open.
Damn Jaffa focus.
Charles turns his attention to him. "Oh yes, that."
Charles saw her the next day. She was lying on the grass, looking up at the cloudy sky. She seemed troubled.
"Sam, how are you today?" he greeted her politely.
She looked up to him and smiled sadly. "I'm fine. Just a bit annoyed, that's all."
He sat right next to her. "Why?"
Ah. He nodded in sympathy.
Charles understood it all too well. He also had a father. And even though he loved his father dearly, the old man sometimes acted like a pompous git.
"What did he do?" he inquired, curious by his new friend's predicament.
The blue eyes were filled with an emotion that he could not recognize. Was it anger? Or was it disappointment?
"When I told him about our encounter yesterday, he laughed in my face and said that he was convinced that I couldn't be a lady like my Mom. To be one meaning no more fighting, no more climbing up the trees, no more playing with mud and no more frog-hunts. He didn't think that I could give up those for the world."
She snorted indignantly. "He's been saying that lately, every time I get into trouble, he brings that up. It started to get old."
Charles was about to say something when she continued her complaint. "I mean, I don't even want to be a lady, I want to go out to space. And you don't have to be a lady to do that," she muttered.
He looked at her in a bewildered manner. Even though she was not like the other girls, she was still a mystery. And Father always said that the day a man figured out what a woman wanted, it would be the day that Hell freezes over.
"Then why are you annoyed?"
"Because I love to prove my Dad wrong. It's always the best feeling in the world. Besides, Mom is a great person; I want to grow up to be just like her." She crossed her arms over her chest and pouted. "I've been thinking about how to become a lady without giving up my fun. But I came up with nothing so far." She frowned in disappointment.
Mmm. He got it now. She wanted to put her Dad in his place. And Charles would be more than willing to help. Besides, it was always a Ginder's policy to assist a damsel in distress.
"I know how," he informed her.
She looked at him enthusiastically. "Really?" There was hope in her voice. And a glint of triumph.
"Yes," he confirmed.
"How?" She was up for the idea.
"You're joking, right?" Daniel exclaims. And then his eyes are suddenly on me, "And you accepted his proposal?"
Let's see, shall we?
I was an innocent seven year old.
I wanted to get back at my Dad.
He offered me help.
Of course I accepted.
That's why he calls himself my fiancé, isn't it?
So I tell him so. "Daniel, that's why Charles calls himself my fiancé, isn't it?"
"What is the connection between the proposal and the answer to MajorCarter's desire to become a lady?" Teal'c indulges his habit, raising one of his eyebrows.
"Well, my family is an old and traditional British family, one of the few titled houses that still exist there. Therefore, the spouse to the Ginder heir - in this case, me - would automatically be a lady." He chuckles at the memory. "Come to think of it, it sounds like a pretty irresponsible thing to do, doesn't it?"
"We were children back then," I defend myself while smiling at the memory. It was funny, I can't deny that.
"The tale was truly fascinating, CharlesGinder. I was most entertained," Teal'c thanks him.
I glare at the Jaffa's direction. Damn him, he treats my life like it's a soap opera.
The colonel doesn't bother to hide his grin. "You're right, Teal'c. It was entertaining."
Gee, thank you for the moral support, sir.
But all that was definitely worth it though. I was reminded of the look on Dad's face when I told him about Charles and I. He choked on his drink and his face went as white as a ghost. That is definitely what I'd call a Kodak moment.
Too bad I didn't have a camera with me.
"Okay, now you know everything, why don't we just get on with it?" I try to end this particular topic of conversation. "Now Charles, what can I do for you?"
Charles sighs tiredly. "Sam, I know that we haven't known each other for a long time, but I really need your help." He looks at me carefully.
"I want you to understand that this is not an easy thing for me to do and I wouldn't have done it if I thought this wouldn't work. Trust me, I've tried everything else that has crossed my mind, this is my last resort, no matter how ridiculous it will sound."
I have my suspicions. "This is about the Black Widow Curse, isn't it?"
"Yes," he admits it straight away. "I have it."
I bite my lower lip. "Me too. Once I received your e-mail, and you reminded me about the 'proposal,' everything seemed to fall into place right then and there."
An understanding passes between the two of us. I guess we can comprehend how it really feels to be what we are. People talking behind your back, pointing their fingers at you when they think you didn't notice, making fun of your misfortune inside the bathroom, the list could go on and on.
"You're talking nonsense, Carter," Colonel O'Neill chastises. "You're not a Bla -"
"Sir, please. Should I give you the list of men who have had some sort of romantic feelings toward me and see if they are still alive right now?" I challenge him.
He's in denial. Not that I can blame him.
"Please do." He was never one to refuse a challenge. It's such a shame that I only remember that after I issue one.
I look straight into his eyes.
"Orlin. Narim. Martouf. Jonas Hanson. And those were only the ones that you guys know."
Don't forget Ambassador Faxon. But I'm not completely sure if he's still alive or not.
And let's not even mention the colonel. Complicated doesn't even begin to cover it.
Suddenly, a pang of sadness and loneliness flickers in my heart. I'm a reasonable enough person to acknowledge that their deaths are not really my fault. I'm not a superstitious kind of person anyway. But the coincidences don't really help the matter. And it's always hard to lose someone close to you, your fault or not.
"But why do the two of you have the same curse?" Daniel pushes his glasses up.
Charles rubs his temples. "That would be my fault. I made her take the vow."
"Yes, every Ginder who gets betrothed has to exchange my family vow."
"The one that landed us this trouble," I mumble under my breath.
"Yes, it did," he is in agreement.
And what a trouble it was.
"So, Charles. What can I do for you?"
He takes a deep breath. "I think I have a resolution for our problems."
I stare at him, weighing my options. I trusted him once and look where it got me. But in all honesty, his intentions were not malicious.
"You have a way to break the curse?"
He nods in affirmation.
Finally. I can break free from my unfortunate fate.
He opens his mouth, "We fulfill the vow. We get married ..."
"... and then get divorced straight away."
Is he for real?
The determine look on his face answers the unspoken question.
Who am I kidding?
My life is nothing but a big fat cruel joke.
How are you? I hope you're well. How is Selmak? I hope she's well, too.
Something strange happened today. I had a visitor. An attractive man, and he is quite a gentleman. He has just offered me to marry him and then divorce him straight away. It will change my Black Widow status into just a plain ordinary divorcee. What do you think?
Your daughter (who is rendered speechless at the present moment)
PS: Thank you for ruining my life.
PPS: If (a big if here) there is a wedding going on with me involved as the bride in the near future, please do not be surprised to find that your invitation got lost on its way somehow.
"You're kidding, right?" Colonel O'Neill is the one who recovers first.
Sadly, judging by Charles's expression, I don't think he is.
"You couldn't possibly expect Sam to agree to something like that." Daniel takes the words right out of my mouth.
The day I agree to something like that would be the day Colonel O'Neill voluntarily offered himself as a host for the Tok'ra.
"Indeed," Teal'c concurs. He tilts his head slightly. "However, I do not understand how this course of action would put an end to MajorCarter's predicament regarding her romantic relationships."
Yup, Teal'c is still the only one who stays in focus.
"The vow that we took somehow ..." Charles is looking for the appropriate word, "jinxed our partners. We could not have anyone else but each other as our spouse."
I couldn't remember in great detail the vow, but the concept was quite brilliant really. If one of us cheats, it was the person we cheated with that would get the curse, making sure that the two of us would always end up together.
But this is neither the time nor the place to discuss the intelligence of the vow's author.
I shook my head. "I'm sorry Charles. Like my friends said, I couldn't do it."
"Because I respect marriage. I can't treat it like it's some kind of convenient way to solve problems. It's a joining between two people who want to spend the rest of their lives together, not a solution," I argue, letting him know just exactly what I feel.
No matter how great Charles is, I'm not going to marry him, well, at least not straight away. If we could spend some time to get to know each other a little bit better and develop those feelings, then I might consider it.
Charles leans forward, his green eyes pleading silently. "Please do not think of me as someone who looks down upon marriage. But this is a matter of life and death."
Well, if he puts it like that, then ...
"What do you mean it's a matter of life and death?" Daniel pries.
"Explain," the colonel orders.
"How so?" Teal'c asks.
I'm still a bit disturbed by the idea that he has just put in my head so I let my friends ask those questions on my behalf.
Charles responds, "I have always kept my word. I didn't go out on a date nor was I considering having a serious affair with anyone. People said that I had a phobia to commitment, even questioned my sexuality, I didn't care. But last year, I met Patricia. And it completely changed everything. I had my apprehensions at first, but I couldn't escape from her. When I told her about the vow, she said that she was willing to take the risk. We were planning to get married next month."
"Congratulations," the colonel offers his best wishes.
"Thank you. Unfortunately, last week there was an accident at the lab where she was working. She was exposed to a pathogen that was being developed in that lab. She's in isolation right now, to prevent further spread of the unknown pathogen. She's in perfect health, only running a slight fever, but I just can't take the risk. This is a perfect opportunity for the curse to strike and I'll do anything to make sure that she will be alright." All of a sudden, his calm exterior changes into a nervous one. His fists clench tightly. "I can't lose her. Not now."
I know the agony.
I know how difficult it is to let go of someone that you care about. I would have done anything to make sure that they were safe. I eye my friends one by one, and we share the sentiment. Life has taught us so many lessons and yet losing someone is never an easy thing to experience. It will never is.
"I'll help you," I promise him.
The various looks of horror on my teammates' faces are priceless. Serves them right for being so nosy.
Charles on the other hand, looks relieved. "Thank you. I am forever in your debt."
"Carter, are you nuts?"
"Sam, you can't be serious."
"MajorCarter, are you feeling unwell?"
I anticipated the outburst.
"We need Fraiser in here!"
"This is so unlike you, Sam."
"I must ask you to reconsider, MajorCarter."
I consider waiting several seconds before saying anything so that I can enjoy the panicked state that they are in. But I'm not that cruel.
"Guys, I said I'll help him, I'm not saying 'I do' to him." I put a 'duh' tone on that sentence.
The four men are confused.
Poor, poor men.
And they wonder why most women choose chocolate over them?
Then I decided to unconfused them.
"There has to be some other way to get around the vow other than fulfilling it. Just give me some time to think it over."
At least they have the grace to look guilty for jumping to conclusions.
"How?" Charles asks excitedly, almost leaping off his chair.
Didn't he hear what I just told him?
"I said I need some time to think it over," I reiterate through gritted teeth. It's been a long day and you cannot expect me to be in my best behavior all day long.
He is taken aback and then apologizes, "I'm so sorry. It's just that I've been thinking it through for a whole year, right after I met her. And everyday I am living in fear that I am about to lose her. And now ..."
I hate it when they play a guilt trip like that.
"Listen Charles, I just found out about this a few days ago. I'm not even convinced that we have this curse. For me it was nothing more than a hearsay," I try to console him.
All my potential boyfriends were living a dangerous life. I'm sure that even without me interfering with their lives, they still couldn't escape the death grip anyway. They're not immortal.
Or so I keep telling myself.
But I'm a scientist, damn it. I trust in the facts and the facts say that there is no way a vow that I took when I was seven years old could kill all my possible love life now. All I have to do is find the proof.
"Will 24 hours be enough?" Charles offers anxiously.
Gee, I'm a scientist. Not a miracle worker.
But the desperate look on his face stops me from saying it out loud.
"I'll do my best."
Sadly, my best is not good enough.
I've been trying to rack my brain to come up with something. Anything.
And I came up with nothing.
Well, short of committing a suicide (you can never go wrong with the 'Till Death Do Us Part' bit).
But I'm not the suicidal type.
Have I said that I hate to be proven wrong?
Maybe Charles was right, there's nothing else that we can do. But I will not marry someone I'm not in love with. Not to mention getting divorced straight after that. It is so ... not cool.
"Sam," calls Daniel. He is sitting across from me. SG-1 is having breakfast together in the mess hall. Colonel O'Neill is next to me and Teal'c is across from him.
"Yes, Daniel?" Absentmindedly I reply, my fork playing with my food.
"You haven't found a way, have you?"
I sigh heavily and slump back in my chair. "No, I haven't." I throw my fork to my plate. Giving my friends a hopeless look, I ask them, "What would you do if you were me?"
Their plates suddenly become more interesting than answering my question. I know that they like Charles already. He treats every one of them with a total respect, even Teal'c. Not once did he question the Jaffa's strange attitude or his gold tattoo. He accepted Teal'c just the way he is. And that says a lot about the man's character.
We all know that Charles believes in the curse, so just saying that it was all in his head wouldn't work. And seeing him worry over his fiancé (the real one) somewhat upsets us. We don't want him to lose her and then blame it on himself.
Besides, it was (kind of) my fault that we got engaged in the first place. I have to fix it.
"Guys?" I ask once again. "You must have some ideas. I promise that I'll consider them seriously, no matter how wacky they sound."
Do they want me to beg on my knees?
Because I'm not sure if I am completely repulsed by that idea right now.
"Sir?" I choose to press the colonel first, he always has the tendency to notice something simple that the rest of us often miss.
He looks thoughtful for a moment and then he suggests lightly, "You could always do another vow to undo the first one. You know, saying something like 'We made a mistake and we want to take back our words' or 'We don't want to keep this vow anymore' or something like that." He pauses for a couple of second. "Or improvise a bit, like Sleeping Beauty, when one of the fairies altered the curse. End the engagement with a hand shake or a simple kiss instead of a marriage."
Someone hit my head now.
I could've kissed him right now. It's so straightforward that it makes complete sense.
Why haven't I thought about this earlier?
"But you need to test to see if it does work though," he adds with an afterthought. "Charles will want evidence that the curse has finally gone."
He presses his lips together, clearly wondering whether or not it is a wise thing to say what he is about to say.
"Just don't hate me after I say this, okay," he sets up a clause.
This is bad.
But I am at the point of no return.
Foolishly, I consent. "Okay."
Is it pity that I notice in his eyes?
"We need a test subject," he announces.
Yes, we do.
Let's cross our fingers and hope for the best.
I trust the colonel with all my life.
I hate Colonel O'Neill.
Great news. Colonel O'Neill came up with an idea so that there will be no wedding after all. But did you know how crazy your little daughter is for agreeing with his plan? A lot.
Your daughter (who is in a deep trouble right now)
PS: I'm still blaming you.
We went along with the colonel's plan.
Charles was a bit skeptical, but he decided that it was worth trying. He was that desperate. So, after declaring our second vow with my friends as our witnesses, we kissed (Daniel argued that it was a more civil way to end an engagement than a handshake). And then he went back to his hotel, waiting for the success of the 'test'.
Luckily for me, McKay is at the SGC right now (and the colonel knows it too, that's why he suggested it). He's reporting the progress he's made in Russia to the Pentagon and uploading the information to the SGC's database right now.
I make my way to the lab where he currently is. I know that he will be alone there, he often is.
I don't hate him. In fact, there's this unexplainable spark between the two of us. I guess I always go for the wrong kind of man.
He's annoying, but I presume that is just his mask. Maybe there's a different person inside of him, but I can't be bothered to make an effort to find out. I'm busy enough with the whole saving the world from the big bad alien thing.
It's always fun being around him. I can argue with him all I like. I'd have to hold myself back if it was the colonel (I'm his subordinate), there's no point in arguing with Daniel (we tend to agree on everything), and Teal'c is just ... Teal'c (I can't remember ever arguing with him). I guess I find someone equal in McKay.
That's why I'm feeling a little bit guilty about what I am about to do.
I enter the lab and there he is, working on the computer with his back facing me. I walk toward him and stop just right behind him. I take a look at my watch. The time is near.
Lord, forgive me, for I am about to sin.
He turns around and smirks when he sees that it is me. Before he can get any words out of his mouth, I grab his head and kiss him fully on the lips for exactly three seconds.
I had it arranged so that the security camera was experiencing a glitch at that precise moment.
Pulling away from him, I am greeted with his bewildered expression.
"It's nothing personal," I manage to say before I walk away from him.
I'll send him an 'I am sorry' card later on.
"How long has it been?" Daniel breaks the silence inside my lab.
"44 hours and 38 minutes," Teal'c dutifully informs.
I have connected my computer to the security cameras and SG-1 has been watching Doctor McKay's movements since then. But it's for his own good. We are lucky that we don't have any missions this week.
"You know," Colonel O'Neill starts, "He's been to the infirmary how many times?"
"Five," Teal'c is once again playing the informant.
I wince at the number.
It was my fault.
He's been spacing out ever since the incident in the lab. Tripped in the corridor for no good reason, walked straight into a wall, sipped hot coffee like it was cold fruit juice, closed a door with his hand still on the side of the door, and stepped on the tail of one of the guard dogs at the checkpoint.
See! All my fault.
"Five times, and he's still very much alive. I think it's safe to assume that your curse is finally gone, Carter," cheerfully the colonel deduces.
"I guess so, sir."
I smile in relief. At least, McKay is not six feet under a cold tombstone right now. I can take all his suffering as payment for calling me a 'dumb blonde'.
The phone chooses that moment to ring. I make my way to the receiver and pick it up, "Carter."
"Sam, this is Charles. I have just received news from home. Patricia has been cleared from contamination. The fever turned out to be a false alarm." The joy in his voice is hard to miss.
And somehow I feel jealous. He has someone who he can share his life with. But I don't want to dwell in self-pity.
"I'm glad that she's well."
"Thank you. Thank you for everything that you have done for me. You had no obligation to do so and yet you helped me in anyway you could. I won't forget this," he expresses his gratitude.
"I'm glad that I could help."
I'm truly grateful that he's happy. He deserves it. He isn't so much different from the little boy that I knew. Kind, brave, gentle and loyal. And somehow he manages to stay innocent as well.
"Please thank Colonel O'Neill, Doctor Jackson and Murray for me. I'm sorry that I couldn't say goodbye in person. I have a flight in three hours, I can't wait to go home."
"I will," I assure him. "Have a safe journey."
"Thank you once again. I can't say that enough. All of you have to come to the wedding. I'll send you the invitation. And it was so good to see you again after all these years."
"It was good to see you, too."
"I guess this is goodbye then."
"It is. Goodbye Charles. Until next time."
"Until next time."
The phone is cut off from the other side. I put the receiver down slowly. It's all over now.
I turn around to face my lab's occupants.
"Charles is going back to England now, Patricia is okay, he thanks us for all our help," I relay his message to the others. "And we are all invited to his wedding."
Everyone smiles at the good news.
I decide that it would be best to stop our voyeurism on a certain doctor, so I turn off my computer screen and once again face my team.
"Thanks for all your help, guys. I don't think I could have done this without you."
There's no harm in saying what I have in mind every now and then.
"That's all right, Carter. Anything to keep your mind on your duties. I hate to see that your personal life interferes with your work," teases the colonel.
"It was only prudent for us to help you," Teal'c states.
"Yes, Sam. That's what friends are for," Daniel grins.
I give them a big hug one by one. They are more than deserve it.
In Charles's eyes, the curse is definitely gone now. Good for him. As for me, I never believed in it anyway. But I can't help but feel as if a burden has been lifted from me, knowing that even if it did exist, it doesn't have any power over me anymore. Maybe now I can ignore all that gossip and laugh at it if I ever come across it.
"You know that this thing has to be kept a secret, right?" I ask in confirmation.
The room turns silent.
I don't like the look on their faces.
"Right?" I ask for the second time with more force in my voice.
Colonel O'Neill looks at the ceiling while his hands are in his pockets, whistling a Monty Python's song. Daniel looks down at my table, picks up a file randomly and flicks through it. Teal'c clasps his hands behind him and looks anywhere but me, trying his best to ignore me. None of them dare to make an eye contact with me.
I feel a big headache coming.
They at least told someone else each.
"Who else knows?" I just have to ask that.
"Janet," Daniel blurts.
I glare at him.
Oh well, at least Janet knows how to keep a secret.
"Teal'c?" I ask the big Jaffa.
"General Hammond," confesses the big man.
I cover my face with my hands and groan silently.
Oh man, could my life get any worse?
Thankfully General Hammond knows how to keep a secret too.
Okay, that leaves the colonel. I always save the best (or the worse) for last. I pull my hand down.
He has difficulty saying something.
But I won't be deterred.
"Well, you know how often McKay visited the infirmary for the last two days, don't you?" He stalls the inevitable. "I felt kinda sorry for him, no one should face the Doc more than once a week, so ..."
"You didn't," I almost shout to his face.
It cannot be happening.
It just can't.
The apologetic look on his face doesn't do anything to my state of mind.
"I told McKay."
If I ever have the chance to become a mother to a daughter, I do hope you realize the importance of not coming closer than a few hundred yards from her. I'll send you her picture, I'll send you her homemade video, but that's it. I will not have you ruin her life like you did mine.
Your daughter (who is in the verge of tears at this point in time)
PS: Selmak, no offense, but the restriction applies to you too. Sorry.
* The End *
I just can't resist playing around with Sam's Black Widow Curse. It was too fun to toy with. Any comment or feedback are greatly appreciated ;).
Beta read by: JayBee-Bug