“How’s Pete?” Jack asks, forcing himself to mention his 2IC’s fiancé. He doesn’t care and he doesn’t want to hear a thing about the other man but in the interest of appearing fine with the whole situation, he makes sure he asks once in a while. He had only come in to drag her away from her latest technological discovery and to offer some lunch but she had politely declined. She’d explained that she had yet to figure out what the device in front of her did and it was driving her crazy, so she was going to work on it until she figured it out.
As a rule, he tries not to think about Shanahan with Carter, but there are times when his jealousy gets the better of him. When she mentions the cop, he smiles and does his best impression of a supportive friend but when he’s alone it eats away at him. He tries to occupy his mind, tries to think of anything other than Shanahan getting to see her in a way that he never will.
He thinks of times that he’s sat with clenched fists thinking of Shanahan touching her, loving her. Sometimes he drives himself crazy thinking about the most intimate moments between her and Shanahan, how she would sound, how she would move. At times, usually after a beer too many, he wonders what she sees in Pete but then he remembers that he is at least fifteen years younger than Jack is, that he can stand without his knees threatening to give out and that he can give her the life that she deserves.
Jack wants her to be happy, he wants her to get married and have kids because he knows, deep down, that it’s what she wants. He can swallow his pride and ask about her boyfriend if it means he gets to stay in her life, if it means that he won’t lose her. He hates that he can’t be truly happy that she’s found someone but he’s doing a damn good job of pretending that he is.
“Um,” he watches as Sam takes a deep breath. “That’s over.”
“What?” his face shows no reaction but his heart skips a beat. Over? “Why?” he tries not to sound too interested, tries to ignore the hope that is building in the pit of his stomach.
“It’s complicated.” She avoids eye contact. She stares down at the alien device in front of her. Jack doesn’t move, he just stares at her waiting for her to explain. “It just wasn’t working out,” she offers, refusing to look at him. She doesn’t want to talk about this, not with him.
“I don’t wanna talk about it.” She picks up the object in her hands and does her best to pretend that she is too distracted to continue the conversation.
“Sam-“ There’s a genuine hint of concern in his voice. Had something happened? Had he hurt her? From what he had seen and heard from Daniel they were going strong, what could have happened for things to change?
“I called him Sir.” She blurts out, regretting the words as soon as she speaks them.
“I don’t…” he frowns. She called him Sir? What the hell did that mean? He looks at her, her cheeks are crimson and she refuses to meet his gaze. She looks completely shocked by her own admission.
Suddenly he gets it. He stands staring, his mouth wide open.
She had called Shanahan “Sir.”
She places the device on the bench as tries to come to terms with the words that have just fallen out of her mouth. “I can’t believe I just said that out loud.” She barely whispers as she meets his shocked stare. She looks at him apologetically, praying for the ground to swallow her up or for a perfectly timed abduction by Thor.
“Colonel, I-“ she stops as he holds his hand up to silence her.
Jack wants to smile, he wants to laugh but he has to hold it in because she is stood before him, completely mortified. He hates himself for being a smug son-of-a-bitch but she called out his name. She called out his name when she was with another man, and not just any man, Shanahan. He holds it together as she squirms in front of him. She reaches for the device on the table, anything to distract her form her admission.
“Carter…” he wants to comfort her. “It happens.” He offers a half-hearted response as his brain obsesses over the sound of her calling his name in the throes of passion. He hates himself for taking joy in her very obvious embarrassment. He just needs a few minutes to come to terms with the enormity of what she’s said and then he can lie to her and assure her it isn’t a big deal.
“Not to me.” Sam shakes her head. “I’ve thought about you for years and I have never said it before, even when I was pretending it was you-“ she slams her hand up to her mouth, her eyes wide with shock. What the hell is wrong with her? It’s like she can’t control the words that are coming out of her mouth. She turns away from him, pushing herself away from her work bench in shock.
“Uh…” Jack shakes his head, feeling immediately overwhelmed by her new confession. Years? Suddenly he’s hot. It’s one thing to think of her accidentally calling out the wrong name but it’s another thing to think her purposefully imagining him as she made love to someone else.
“I don’t know why I said that.” She whispers, completely flustered and terrified of his reaction. “Colonel, I don’t know why I said that. I’m sorry… I don’t…” she looks away from his confused stare. What had caused her to blurt out her most intimate confession to him?
“Uh, I’m gonna…” he gestures to the door and quickly leaves before he says or does something that will cost them both their careers.
“So the device makes the person holding it tell the truth?” Daniel asks, his eyebrows raised. Sam nods as she stands at the front of the briefing room doing everything she can to avoid the Colonel’s gaze as she delivers her presentation. General Hammond listens as she explains how the device works and reassures him that it isn’t dangerous.
“The person touching it has no choice but to tell the truth.” Sam confirms. Daniel reaches for the item and looks up at Sam.
“Test me! Ask me anything.” He grins enthusiastically. He looks around the briefing room only to be met with disapproving stares.
“Daniel, this isn’t a good-“ Sam starts but is cut off.
“Come on, what harm can it do? Test me?”
“Did you call me a jackass last week when I refused to let you go off on your own on P4X 181?” Jack asks his patience wearing thin.
Within seconds Daniel has silently put the device down and is staring back at Sam. “Uh, as you were saying Sam?”
“I still haven’t figured out how it works, or what form of energy it’s using but I’m going to keep working on it.”
“It’s a good job you figured it out before anyone admitted anything they shouldn’t have, right?” Daniel asks, blissfully unaware of the brief glance shared between Sam and Jack.
Hours later Sam walks towards her lab. She has one hour left before she can scurry home and deal with the implications of her interaction with the truth device and the Colonel. Every time she thinks about the fact that she told him deeply intimate information she wants the ground to swallow her up. He now knows that she thinks of him when she’s in bed with other people.
How can he ever look at her again without thinking about her deeply inappropriate confession? She needs to escape from the mountain and avoid him for at least a month. She could ask to join another team just for a little while, or she could take the leave the general Hammond had been encouraging her to take.
She had been doing such a good job of ignoring her feelings for the Colonel. She had convinced herself that she could build a life with Pete, that she could be happy with him. She had tried so hard. It wasn’t until she’d called out for her commanding officer as Pete moved on top of her that she realised it wasn’t working.
She had broken up with him just hours later. It wasn’t fair on him.
She was shaken from her thoughts as she entered her office. There, Colonel O’Neill stood with the device in his hands. She walks in cautiously, her cheeks immediately flushing as she remembers the details of their last conversation.
“You have nothing to be embarrassed about,” he speaks quietly, gripping the truth device in his hands. “You didn’t make me feel uncomfortable.” Jack speaks slowly, trying to ensure that nothing else slips out of his mouth accidentally.
“Colonel…” she starts, unsure of what else to say. She knows that he is a good man, that he wouldn’t want her to dwell on what had happened. She appreciates the gesture but just because he isn’t uncomfortable doesn’t mean it wasn’t humiliating.
“I don’t want you to spend the next month avoiding me because you’re worried about my reaction. You didn’t know that this thing,” he shakes the metal item in his hands, “was going to force you to blurt that stuff out.”
“Sir, I appreciate what you’re trying to do but-“
“I felt relief.” He winces as the truth device gets the better of him. He thinks about putting it down but he owes it to her to tell the truth. He watches as a look of confusion spreads across her face. “It means you haven’t given up on me… on us.”
Sam stares at the man in front of her. She can’t believe that he would share this with her, that he would allow himself to be vulnerable for the sake of protecting her dignity. She opens her mouth to respond but he shakes his head. Now is not the time for this conversation, it would be unfair to them both.
“And uh,” he takes a deep breath, “it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who has issues controlling the names that come out of my mouth at…certain times.”
Sam’s head shoots up and she meets his gaze immediately. He thought of her when he was intimate? “You mean-“
“More than once.” And with that he places the device on her desk and walks towards the door.” See you tomorrow, Carter.”