29 July 1997 – Stargate Command, Earth, Milky Way
She runs into Doctor Jackson – almost literally – as she's waiting for the elevator.
His nose is buried in a file of some sort, but he snaps it shut when he sees her, saying, "Ah, Captain-Doctor! Just the person I wanted to see."
Sam can't help a snort of laughter at that. She's ninety-nine percent certain that Jackson is cognizant enough of military culture enough to know that's not the proper form of address, he just chooses to use it anyway. "You can call me Sam, you know."
"Sam, then. Are you busy? Have you eaten?"
"I was just on my way to the mess, actually."
"Good. I was just about to go off base and try and find some kind of food that wasn't dehydrated or flash frozen sometime in the recent past. Maybe try to find some clothes that haven't been sitting in storage for god only knows how long, too."
She reflexively bites her lower lip while trying to think of a politic answer. She'd thought Jackson had seemed genuinely broken up about his wife, but… "It's not that I'm not flattered, but-"
"What? No. No. This is- this is not a come on. I just want to get food. As friends. And, also, I need an escort to go off base as I'm still dead as far as the US government's concerned, and you and Jack are the only people I really know."
"Ah. Oh. Sorry, it's just…"
"I imagine it must be difficult to be a woman in the military."
"It can be," she admits, stepping into the elevator, "but there's nowhere else I'd rather be."
"As long as you're doing what you love, what everyone else thinks doesn't matter," Jackson agrees.
"Sounds like you've been there."
"Have you ever heard of a book called The Truth About the Pyramids?"
She shakes her head. "No. Should I have?"
"No. It didn't sell well. The critics were harsh, but the peer review was even harsher. But, hey, I was right. I know I was right. Who cares what they think?"
"Yeah. But I bet you don't have to see them every day. There are people who are convinced I've only advanced as far as I have because I slept with my COs. Or, you know, my professors. Not a lot of them, but enough."
"Tell me about it."
Surprisingly, he does. Before they've finish dinner at some steakhouse that'd replaced the Thai place she’d liked last time she was in town, she learns how he'd been a Rhodes Scholar in the mid-'80s and how everyone had said he'd was going to go far until he'd started talking openly about his discoveries. How he'd been at the University of Chicago until he'd been forced out, and then at some college in Flagstaff until he'd published his book and been forced out of even there.
And, through it all, he talks about Sha're, about how she was the first person who ever believed in him. How she was the first person who ever loved him, for him. How she didn't want him to change into something he wasn't. How accepted him. How he loved, loved, loved her.
Sam, for her part, nods in all the right places. She knows what questions to ask and, frankly, it's kind of nice to hear that it's possible for someone to love another person as much as Daniel loves his wife. Her parents…
Well, Sam knew they loved each other, but that was academic. Even when Dad wasn't deployed, he'd work long hours on base and come home long after the rest of them had gone to bed. And when he was home, it was like… it was like they were all playing roles. They were playing a family – a husband, a wife, a son, a daughter. They were just a handful of strangers who happened to be related to each other.
"And I'm sorry," he says, laying his silverware down, "I've spent this whole time talking about myself. What about you? Where did you study?"
"The Academy for undergrad, and then Princeton for my doctoral work."
"That must have been interesting. You would have been one of the first graduating classes, right?"
"Still, you probably had to put in twice as much work for half as much recognition. And I've read what you did for the program before I ever got there – without you, I would've never been able to connect the final dots. I can't believe they didn't let you come on the first mission."
"Yeah, well," she says, finding herself examining the tablecloth intently, "what can you do? Sometimes nothing you do is ever enough for some people."
"Jack will come around, I promise. It has nothing to do with you being a woman."
"Don't be so sure about that."
"No, really. He doesn't like scientists. You just show him you're worth having around and, trust me, it won't matter what gender you are as long as you continue to get the job done."
"And that’s worked for you?"
"I'm still working out the finer details," Daniel admits.
Sam can't help but laugh at that. After a moment, so does Daniel, and, God, she doesn't remember the last time she felt this happy.
This assignment is going to be the start of something wonderful, she can already tell.