“I told you, the transfer is non-negotiable.”
It was like dealing with one of her brother’s cranky toddlers, Sam Carter thought, as Ba’al scowled and accidentally-on-purpose knocked over another pile of clean, folded shirts. A cranky toddler with fits that could set an entire base on edge. “Well, negotiate better next time. Or right now, and get them to let me accompany you.”
“The IOA has determined you too much of a security risk to allow on the Atlantis Expedition,” she repeated patiently, for the third time in the last half an hour. “You’ll stay here with Cam and the others.”
“I do not wish to - “
“You could be going back to Area 51,” she pointed out, putting a hand on her hip as she leaned on her bedside table to watch him sulk. “Remember how fun it is there? At least here you’ll get to head up a R&D lab. Bossing humans around should come naturally to you.”
Ba’al sullenly prodded a pile of socks hard. They rolled off her bed and scattered across the floor. Suppressing a curse - it would only be rising to him, and she’d learned a long, long time ago that that was exactly what one
do with Ba’al - Sam went after them. “It is not what I want. You’ll need my expertise, you know that.”
“The team there has everything under control. Besides, if you’re good I’m sure they’ll let you visit when the Daedalus or the Apollo make supply runs.”
“If I am good ?”
“That’s what I said.” She collected the last of her socks and stuffed them in her bag before he could mess with them anymore. “Look, I know you wanted to go to Atlantis, but I have to agree with the IOA on this.”
Ba’al gave her a withering glare, then got up and stalked out of the room. She could hear him snapping at people in the halls all the way to his own room, and the slamming door reverberated down the corridor. Carter sighed, closing up the bag after stuffing the last few things inside. As much as she hated to admit it, she’d gotten used to him hanging around her so much, being in turns annoyingly superior and invaluable. It’d sure be quiet in Atlantis until she got used to his absence.
Landry watched from the control room as the rest of SG-1, plus Ba’al, gave Carter her send off. Even from here, he could see the tension in the Goa’uld’s shoulders, the stiff, haughty way that he addressed Carter. He saw something like disappointment cross her face at that when she turned away, but she hid it quickly, and shouldered her pack, stepping through the open wormhole.
As the rippling blue event horizon disengaged, Landry watched with pursed lips as Ba’al stared at the place where Carter had disappeared through the wormhole. Cam came up beside him without Landry even noticing.
“Creepy, ain’t it, sir?” he asked. “It’s like he actually misses Carter.”
“Perhaps he does,” Landry mused. “Do you think it’s wise, splitting them up like this? She is the only person anywhere Ba’al seems to listen to even some of the time.”
Cam shrugged. “He’ll get used to it, unless he wants to go back to his four-star cell at Area 51, sir. This place is the Waldorf compared to that, and Ba’al does love his luxury.”
As Ba’al turned and swept out of the gate room, Landry shook his head. “I hope you’re right, Colonel Mitchell.”
Three weeks later, Carter sighed and put her head in her hands as Ba’al, with an immensely pleased expression on his face, stepped through the gate looking like the cat that got the cream. It was an expression she knew all too well, one that meant Ba’al was feeling infinitely superior to other sentient beings and was fully prepared to tell them all why. She couldn’t let this stand; leaving the control area, she strode down the stairs onto the floor of the gate room area, eyes narrowed.
“What did you do ?” she demanded of him. The cocky smile he greeted her with only served to irritate her further.
“I made it clear to those in charge that if I was not allowed to come here, I would become very difficult to live with.”
That stopped her in her tracks. “You mean up to this point, you’ve been easy to live with?”
“Clever! It didn’t even take you more than a minute.” He gave her utilitarian outfit an appraising look. “I won’t have to wear one of those horrid uniforms, will I? They’re so dull .”
“Not now .” Carter scrubbed at her face. “Ba’al! You can’t be here!”
He looked around, taking in the Ancient architecture, the digital gate behind him. “I appear to be. Why, it’s almost like you’re not happy to see me...”
She made a strangled sound, and waved a hand as the guards in the gate room started forward. “No need,” she told them. “He’s always this insufferable.”
“Not always, I think,” Ba’al countered. The twist of his lips left her no doubts as to what he was thinking of, precisely. Feeling her face heat up, Carter took a deep breath, straightened her gray jacket, and rolled her eyes.
“I’ve set up quarters for you,” she said, turning on her heel. “This way.”
“We’re not sharing?”
“No,” she said flatly. “We’re not.”
“No matter,” he said, following her through the corridor leading off the gate room toward the opposite side of the city from Sam’s room. “I’ll end up there five out of every seven nights anyway.”
She stopped, turned, and glared at him as he came up short in front of her. “You stuck-up - half-witted - “
“Oh please , spare me the histrionics- “
“You’re one to talk! Who was the one who threw enough fits to get the IOA to agree to let him go to another galaxy ?”
“They knew they were simply delaying the inevitable by denying my arrival to this base. They brought it on themselves, and deserved every minute of it, I might add.”
“Not even the IOA deserves to be put through one of your diva fits, Ba’al.”
He pretended to wince, and that just made Sam even more irritated. “Diva? I hardly think-”
“Obviously! I’d just as soon kiss a Wraith as you right now!”
He leaned forward, grinning nastily, and it brought a strange surge of pleasure to see that there was a spark of jealousy in his eyes even at the ridiculous comparison. “I’m sure you could have arranged it if you wanted. After all, you seem to have a thing about bedding your adversaries...”
Carter raised a hand to slap him, but clenched her fist when she realized there were little knots of passers-by on either side of them, trying to edge past without getting noticed. With great effort, she brought her hand back to her side. “Don’t you dare play that card,” she snapped at him. “Don’t ever. Or you’ll find yourself drifting back to the Milky Way in a punctured spacesuit.”
Ba’al was inflammatory in the extreme, but even he knew when to it was better for his health if he kept his mouth shut. Gesturing the way they’d been headed, he set his jaw and followed her the rest of the way, saying nothing as she stormed out of the room she’d put him in. She doubted he’d even notice that she’d given him one with a rather spectacular view.
Later that night, Carter let her head fall back against the pillows, heartbeat and breath racing, and every single nasty thought she’d had about him in the last three weeks spinning through her head. Cat that got the cream... cranky toddler.. . “I really hate you sometimes,” she muttered.
Ba’al grinned against her chest. One hand was idly stroking her arm, shaking just a bit with exertion. “Something about our arrangement makes me highly doubt that,” he replied, voice muffled against her skin. “Though don’t let something like this stop you from indulging in your delusions. Or anything else, for that matter.” She felt his head move, and tilted her own head to see him staring up at her, eyes bright and glittering in the dim light filtering in through the window, and she screwed up her face when she realized his expression was that annoyingly superior one again. “I’m not accustomed to denying myself that which I desire, and I have had to for three weeks.”
She arched a brow. “You mean you, Mr. Hedonist Extraordinaire, didn’t go after any of the women on your science team?”
He made a face. “None of them were worth half of you. Nor were they half as intelligent, though why I expected any more than rank idiocy out of a Tau’ri - “
“ Don’t start. You’re still on thin ice, remember?”
He arched a brow, sitting up, resting his hand flat on her stomach. “Even still?”
“If you think that just because of this, you’re forgiven for embarrassing me in front of other members of this expedition- “
“Oh, I never expected to be forgiven. A certain leniency, to be sure...”
“Dream on,” Sam muttered, biting the inside of her cheek to keep from reacting audibly to his touch.
“Tried that,” he said idly. “It didn’t have quite the same effect... at least, it had the effect, but not in the way I wanted.”
“Yeah, well, we don’t always get everything we want,” Carter said, gritting her teeth as his fingers found a nipple and pinched it. She couldn’t let him win, it would only inflate his ego to stellar proportions. “I wanted an assignment with the Atlantis team, to give them some stability after Dr. Weir, and instead I get saddled with the intergalactic equivalent of a wart.”
Ba’al widened his eyes. “A wart ? I admit, there may be portions of my demeanor that are ugly, but I hardly think that merits being called a wart .”
She lifted her head off the pillow, glaring at him as he cupped her breast in his hand. “We burn you off, but you keep coming back.”
“One of my many virtues.” Ba’al had that predatory grin on his face again, and as he slid over her body again, Carter knew she couldn’t win this one. And a moment later, she surrendered completely.
It was only a few hours before dawn when she shifted, blinking into the dimness of the room. Ba’al had been quiet for the better part of an hour. His fingers were still stroking her arm - sleepily, but still moving, so she knew he wasn’t asleep. “So why did you really come here?” she asked. The darkness swallowed her words, made them more muted than they’d been spoken.
His fingers paused. “I suppose now, I am allowed to be truthful,” he said softly. “I was quite bored, with no one of your caliber around. Your teammates are well and good, when I wanted to be bored to tears by Daniel Jackson’s prattling on, annoyed ceaselessly by Qetesh, or get murdered over and over by the force of Teal’c’s glares...”
“Her name’s Vala.” She poked him in the ribs. “And I’m being serious.”
“As am I, Samantha.” He moved his arm, letting his fingers trace a path from her cheekbone to her chest, to her arm. “My mind is one that is not used to stagnation. I require problems to work on, and you have only ever been the source of them, take that as you will.”
“Problems, huh?” She was quiet a moment, enjoying the mindless caress. Then she smiled. “You missed me.”
“I did no such thing.”
“Yes, you did. You missed me too much to stick around at the SGC, so you caused enough of a ruckus to get the IOA to agree to your transfer here just so you would get out of their hair.”
“Observant of you,” Ba’al remarked, but the comment wasn’t as biting as it could have been. “I suppose that was the case.”
She smiled, and reached down the pull the blanket up more around her shoulders. It got chilly nights at Atlantis, but Ba’al was warm to the touch. She’d be glad for the secondary source of body heat. And right now, she felt like she could even handle with his near-daily strops about dealing with inept Tau’ri scientists, or his habit of causing explosions when bored, or even his none-too-subtle insinuations that everyone in any galaxy was below him in terms of intelligence, or any other trait.
“For what it’s worth,” she murmured, the naquadah in her blood thrumming gently in the wake of afterglow and the onset of sleep so close to one with such a high concentration himself. “I missed dealing with your melodrama.”
Knowing that he was grinning to himself then, Carter let herself drift into sleep.
Yawning, Carter adjusted her ponytail as she entered the control room, not nearly enough hours after she’d finally gotten to sleep. “What’ve we got today?” she asked, picking up a cup of coffee that had been set aside for her and taking a sip.
“Teams 2 and 3 are heading out on recon missions,” the control room tech said. “Teams 4, 7, and 8 are due to make scheduled... contact...”
The tech trailed off as Ba’al swept into the room with all the flair of the System Lord he still was in his own mind. “Are you going to give me something to do?” he asked archly. “Or am I supposed to just start taking things apart until you stop me and assign me some menial, time-consuming task?”
“Quiet,” she said automatically, waving him off. “If you’re so antsy, go find McKay. I’m sure he’ll have something appropriately engrossing so you stay out of my way.”
She turned her head, watching him head off across the landing toward Science and Engineering. “And Ba’al?” He paused, looking back at her with a raised eyebrow. She grinned.