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Close Together Apart

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Jack took a step closer to Sam as a group of off-duty airmen crowded into the elevator. They all nodded to him, mixed with murmurs of ‘general, colonel’, but Jack wasn’t listening, too distracted by the fact that he was suddenly close enough to smell Sam’s shampoo.

He carefully made sure nothing was showing on his face when one of the kids— Myers, SG-19, lieutenant and some kind of scientist— glanced over. For good measure, he pushed ‘knowing what Carter’s shampoo smelled like’ back into the deep, dark part of his brain where he kept the other things that, as Sam’s CO, he wasn’t supposed to notice.

Daniel had asked him once— well, a couple of times, actually— why he didn’t just retire and do something about all this… tension. But it wasn’t as easy as that. Because, retired or not, if they got together now, people would think they’d been together all along, and Sam’s career would be ruined. It was a horrible double-standard— Jack would probably get a slap on the wrist for something like ‘taking advantage of a subordinate’, but Sam’s record would always be tarnished by the suspicion that she had slept her way to the top.

At least, if he stayed as Sam’s CO, he could give her the recognition she deserved. After as many times as she had literally saved the world, the promotion to major had been long overdue. And lieutenant colonel was the best he could do after that— since Hammond wouldn’t let him appoint Sam as Official World Genius.

The elevator doors opened, and they were silent as they signed out and headed for the parking lot, where Sam’s Volvo was parked unerringly beside his truck.

“Well, good night, sir,” she said.

“Good night, Carter.”

Jack sat in his truck and watched her pull out, headed to her empty house, just like he was headed to his empty house.

He really hoped the planet appreciated this.