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The Look

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It started with a look. To be fair, it began long before then, but she felt, in that moment, that the look was what tipped them over the edge. A harmless flirtation; that was all she’d considered it to be. One-sided, on her part. Innocent. A bit of fun. But then there was the look and all those delusions came crashing down. It ceased to be fun. It certainly wasn’t innocent, mainly because she was now well aware that it wasn’t one-sided. Most of all it wasn’t a harmless flirtation. A person doesn’t harmlessly flirt with their superior officer and then feel as though their whole world is being torn apart at the thought of them dying for you, she realised. And, frankly, if he was merely harmlessly flirting with her, if he could still maintain the distance required between CO and subordinate, then he would have been able to leave her there to die. Sure, it would have been difficult. Sure, there was the whole “we don’t leave our people behind” mantra. But he had two other team members to take care of, and she was doomed anyway. If he had just been harmlessly flirting, then he should have left. And then there was the look.

She was pretty sure that if they’d been able to touch each other they would have been entwined in an embrace. They might even have kissed. As it was, they couldn’t touch. Separated by a mere fraction of space but miles apart. All they had in that moment was the look. And they didn’t have long. Minutes, seconds really, to convey with that look everything they felt. Everything they’d been lying to themselves about for all those months. She’d pleaded with him to go, begged him. And then he’d straightened up, refused and everything else had fallen away. She’d felt the tears stinging her eyes as her heart swelled. This man, this wonderful man, who refused to leave her to die alone, who would rather die with her than carry on without her, this man loved her. And in that moment, staring into his eyes, his soul exposed for only her to see, she knew she loved him too.

The force-shield wavered blue between them as their hands met but didn’t really meet. She knew true love in that moment; real peace and, simultaneously, utter heart-break. And then the moment shattered, and their lives returned to normal. Almost. They hadn’t died that day, but any illusion she’d had that she didn’t love Jack O’Neill and that he didn’t love her back, was gone.

 


 

Mission Reports of Major Samantha Carter and Colonel Jack O'Neill

George settled down at his desk after what felt like a  particularly long week. His people had been compromised by alien technology (again), risked their lives for the Tok'Ra (against his orders), but eventually come home safe. On his desk were the reports from Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill. Hers unusually short, but typically succinct. His the usual length, casual, abrupt. He settled back in his chair, a steaming mug of coffee in one hand, the first report open in the other, and began to read.

 


 

Report – Major Samantha Carter – PX9-757

Having disobeyed a direct order from General Hammond and under the influence of alien technology, Colonel O’Neill, Dr Jackson and I travelled through the Stargate to PX9-757 following a report from the Tok’Ra that Apophis was building a formidable ship. Our intention was to destroy the ship using the abilities caused by the Tok’Ra armbands, such as increased speed and strength. As such we neglected to arm ourselves, taking only explosives to destroy the ship.

Once through the Stargate we incapacitated several Jaffa guarding the area and proceeded to the ship. We encountered more Jaffa with a small but significant quantity of Naquadah which Dr Jackson volunteered to retrieve, leaving myself and Colonel O’Neill to destroy the ship. We proceeded to the cooling system to plant C4 in the pipes which would cause a chain reaction, disabling the system and causing the mechanics to overheat and explode. We gave ourselves fifteen minutes to return to the Stargate, believing our increased speed would grant us more than sufficient time. On returning to the entrance of the mountain upon which the ship was being constructed we met Dr Jackson, who collapsed and whose armband ceased to function. Two Jaffa found us but were taken out by Teal’c who had been ordered to meet us by General Hammond. More Jaffa came upon us, Colonel O’Neill ordered Teal’c to take Dr Jackson back to the Stargate and we went after them. Having incapacitated them, we attempted to return to the Stargate. However, my arm band ceased functioning and I passed out.

When I regained consciousness Colonel O’Neill was unconscious on the other side of a force-shield. He woke up when I called him and attempted to disable the shield. However, nothing could be done. As two more Jaffa came upon our position, the C4 exploded which knocked out the shields. We returned to the Stargate, meeting Dr Jackson and Teal’c on the way.

 


 

Report – Colonel Jack O’Neill – PX9-757

3 members of SG-1 (myself, Major Carter and Dr Jackson) had been convinced to try on alien armbands that gave us superhuman powers. We later found out they had intel on a new ship being built by Apophis. General Hammond ordered us not to visit the planet to destroy it. We disobeyed orders and went anyway (under the influence of the alien armbands).

Daniel went after some Naquadah whilst Major Carter and I set C4 to blow the ship. Daniel’s armband came off and he fainted. Teal’c showed up on General Hammond’s orders. I ordered him to take Daniel back to the gate whilst Carter and I took out a couple of Jaffa. On our way back, our armbands conveniently stopped working. Carter was stuck on one side of the force-shield, I was on the other. The ship was going to blow and I couldn’t disable to shield. The C4 went off just as some more Jaffa showed up. We ran back to the gate as the mountain exploded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

They’d done a pretty good job of getting past their little ‘moment’ on PX9-757, or so he thought. It had taken him some time to process it all, something he had chosen to do privately, without involving her.

For his part, he was still somewhat shocked by what he’d seen in her face in those last few moments, when they thought they were about to die. Beyond that he had been pretty pissed at himself, not surprised, but definitely pissed.

What sort of CO was he that he would consider abandoning two members of his team just so that he could die with another?  Just because he couldn’t stand the thought of living without her? Hadn’t he promised himself right at the start that he wouldn’t let his little ‘crush’ on Carter affect her or the rest of SG-1? Most importantly, hadn’t he sworn she would never know about it? But in those few seconds that stretched for an eternity he had royally screwed up.

Of course, at the time he thought they were about to die, and so letting her see how he felt hadn’t seemed so terrible. Except they didn’t die (which he was grateful for, honestly). And now she knew. He hadn’t mentioned a thing in his report, but that wasn’t really the point. He’d been willing to sacrifice himself (and potentially risk the safety of Daniel and Teal’c) because in that moment she was the thing that meant the most to him in the world. Hell, in every moment. Dammit, this was precisely why the frat regs existed! Alright, they hadn’t fraternised per se. But clearly his emotions had gotten in the way of the job. He could not, would not, let that happen again.

That said, there was the tiny fact that she’d been looking at him like that. Right when she thought she was going to die, when she thought she could convince him to leave, to save himself. He kept waking up in the middle of the night with that look imprinted in his mind. Those big, blue eyes filling with tears. The fear she was projecting through the barrier. Not fear for herself; fear for him. He wasn’t sure what it meant, but it felt just as forbidden, just as dangerous as the look he was sure he was giving her.

Still, he told himself, they’d gotten past it. She hadn’t mentioned it. He hadn’t mentioned it. They carried on with work with no weird looks, no uncomfortable silences. It was almost, almost, like it hadn’t happened at all.

He’d sworn to himself, all over again, that he wouldn’t let his feelings for Carter get in the way of the job. And then the God-damned Tok’Ra had gotten involved.

Chapter Text

“Janet.” She was sure the way Sam said her name, the fear and the pleading in her voice, would remain with her forever. It felt, in that moment, that there was nothing so heart-wrenching as hearing the woman you consider to be your closest friend begging you for…for what? Janet wasn’t entirely sure. For it all to be a mistake? For her CO’s life? For understanding? So much was encompassed in just one word, and it all broke her heart.

But she was a doctor. She had a job to do, and no matter how much she wished she could give Sam whatever it was that she wanted in that moment, she knew her role. Sam had to be sedated. The way she had tried to go after the Colonel, to stop him from undergoing the Tok’Ra procedure; it was probably for the best that Sam wouldn’t be awake for any of it.

Janet tried not to question that too much. She was already uncomfortably aware of her friend’s strong feelings towards her CO and she knew that the only way to protect them both from those feelings was with her own ignorance. Don’t ask and you’ll never have to betray them. Knowing something and actually knowing something were two very different things in the Airforce.

 


 

 

She felt the drugs beginning to take effect; slowly numbing her as she drifted closer to sleep. As consciousness ebbed away she found herself hoping it would be dreamless, that the world could cease to be for those moments so that she wouldn’t have to imagine the horrors the Colonel would be enduring. And immediately her mind, already fuzzy round the edges, felt guilt. What right did she have to switch it all off and escape into nothing whilst the man she loved…No, her commanding officer. What right did she have to escape into nothing whilst her commanding officer’s life could be ending?

And then her mind began to play cruel tricks on her. She wasn’t switching off. She was reliving the moments when she thought she was losing him. They say your life flashes before your eyes in the moments prior to death; perhaps something similar occurs when a person loses consciousness. Except now the images, the life flashing before her eyes, were just of him.

The Colonel, walking away to an unknown fate, looking back as she called to him, but not stopping. Her mind may have been clouded, her body may have been going numb, but the sense of heartache she felt was sharp and brought her back from the edge of sleep, just for a moment.

Then he was hammering away on the console on Apophis’s ship, desperately trying to disable the force-shield, trying to free her, to save both of their lives. She was begging him to leave, pleading for him to save himself before the C4 blew. He was refusing, shouting at her that he wouldn’t leave.

It was then that realisation dawned, that the pain in her heart faded just a little as, in her memory, he looked at her through the force-shield.

She had to do something. She wasn’t sure if she was speaking aloud or only dreaming it, but she had to try, “The machine is wrong.” She thought she heard her own voice speaking the words, hoped that Janet could hear her. “You don’t understand.” Stronger now. “We lied. We didn’t even know we were lying. Please.”

For a moment, nothing happened. Sam felt herself drift further away and the panicked thoughts that no one had heard her began to fade. Then, all of a sudden, a sharp sensation on her arm and the fog began to clear. The IV had been removed, she realised. The smell of vanilla and cocoa butter, familiar, comforting. Janet!

Janet was leaning close to her. “Sam?”

Sam struggled to open her eyes, Janet’s face blurring in front of her for a moment before settling into a clear image. “Janet. You have to stop them.”

“What do you mean you lied?”

“We didn’t tell them everything. We’re not Zatarcs. Please, Janet.” Her speech was still slurred, but she was sure now that she was speaking, that Janet could hear her.

“Monitor her. I’ll be back” Janet ordered the nurse. Then she disappeared from Sam’s view and her footsteps faded away. 

 


 

 

As the anaesthetic faded, her thoughts began to clear. The images she had seen as she lost consciousness were still imprinted in her mind and she was certain now that she was right. Her body was still weak and she needed help to walk without stumbling. Janet held her arm. She was eternally grateful that Janet hadn’t asked her yet what they had lied about during their first Zatarc test. Though Sam had a feeling that she must have had a pretty clear idea what was going on. But she didn’t ask as they walked down the corridor; she didn’t speak. She simply held Sam’s arm, letting her lean on her as they slowly made their way to the Observation Room; to Jack.

Janet held back as they entered the room, letting Sam approach the Colonel alone. But Sam couldn’t look her in the eye as she asked everyone to give them the room. For all that she was her closest friend, Sam couldn’t put her in that position, she couldn’t make her a conspirator in what she was about to admit to. Not yet.

Sam looked to Teal’c instead, who stared back calmly, with nothing but understanding in his eyes. She wondered if he knew.

She was looking down, stealing herself for what she was sure would be a painful conversation, when the Colonel spoke.

“Carter.”

Ever the good soldier, she looked up immediately.

“Can you undo this thing?”

“Yeah.” She replied, eyes drawn to the strap around his forehead; aware, as she gently removed it, how intimate this was.

She leaned forward, steadying herself on his chair.

“What’s going on?” And as he looked directly into her eyes, knowing this was the moment she was about to permanently change their relationship, she was astounded that she felt only the slightest sensation of panic. Part of her was relieved to be shrugging off the façade they had maintained since the incident with the armbands.

“We’re not Zatarcs.”

“How d’you know?”

She leant closer, desperate to keep this between them and them alone. “The machine thinks that we have false memories, but we don’t. We were lying.”

“I wasn’t lying.” The hope that he would know automatically what she meant vanished. Whether he was playing dumb or not, she wasn’t sure, but she resigned herself to having to push him. As she did, a part of her suddenly feared that perhaps she was wrong. Perhaps he was a Zatarc. Perhaps these feelings were one-sided. She forged on anyway, desperately hoping that she wasn’t wrong.

“Okay, you left something out.” She couldn’t look at him.

“No, I didn’t.” His face was close; she could feel his breath on her cheek as he spoke, and her heart both fluttered at his proximity and cracked in her fear that he didn’t feel the same.

“Sir, when you wouldn’t leave me…” She left it there a moment, trying to prompt him with her eyes, clutching desperately to an idea that, only moments ago, had made complete sense but now felt like utter fantasy.

He just looked at her blankly.

“Are you sure there wasn’t something else that you’re not admitting?”

He opened his mouth a couple of times, shaking his head, clearly filtering through his version of events, trying to find the piece he’d left out. “What are you talking about?”

Screw it, she thought. It might be humiliating to admit to this first, but if she didn’t and she was right, he would sacrifice himself for nothing.

“Something neither one of us can admit, given our working relationship or Military ranks.”

And then she saw realisation hit and her fear lessened.

“Oh.” He said. “Oh, that…”

When he looked at her she thought for a moment that he looked ashamed and despite the dire situation, she felt pity for him. Was he ashamed because he felt something he shouldn’t? Or that she knew? Did he not understand that she was admitting to these forbidden feelings too?

“Sir,” she continued, “we weren’t telling the whole truth and that’s why the machine thinks the memories are false.”

She caught the tiny hint of fear in his voice as he said “Really.” Though only, she thought, because she felt it too. Like her, he had realised that this meant having to confess to these feelings to more than just each other. With a slight inclination of his head he seemed to say ‘Ok, we’d better get this over with.’ So, she turned to Anise.

“Re-test him.”

 

Chapter Text

Strapped to the chair, being interrogated again, whilst the man he considered his brother, his Doctor, and an alien that seemed intent on hitting on him the moment she had him alone, watched on. Oh, and his 2IC. Strapped to a chair, and about to confess to inappropriate feelings towards said 2IC with all these people in the room. Jack was pretty sure this beat the ‘taking-a-test-in-High-School-whilst-naked’ dream. A tiny little bit of him thought that he might have preferred having the Zatarc treatment.

He closed his eyes as Freya began to question him, took a deep breath, and opened them again, focusing only on the Tok’ra. Not looking up to the Observation Room where Doc Frasier and Teal’c were…observing. Determinedly avoiding eye contact with Carter, who stood beside Freya. Seeing the look on her face, he thought, would only make this harder.

He was ashamed of himself. Damned ashamed. A good CO didn’t develop feelings for a subordinate. Ok, sometimes they did. And he’d told himself those feelings were ok, so long as he never, ever acted on them. So long as it didn’t affect her, or their team, or the missions. He was so sure he’d done a good job. He’d convinced himself he could ignore the crush, maybe flirt a little. A bit of harmless banter was fine. And then he’d screwed up.

Because it wasn’t harmless, and it wasn’t just a crush. He knew, the minute that shield had gone up and he’d felt real, physical pain at the thought of losing her, that he was in love with Samantha Carter. He’d put both their lives at risk, he’d put Teal’c and Daniel’s lives at risk, and now he was being forced to admit to his screw-up and to his feelings.

He knew Carter wouldn’t say anything to Hammond, though she had every right to. The way she’d been talking when she’d interrupted the procedure had convinced him that this inappropriateness probably wasn’t one-way. Hell, the way she’d looked at him through the force-shield had made that pretty damn clear too. And then another wave of guilt flooded through him. Here he was, feeling sorry for himself, giving no thought to the fact that she’d have to sit here and go through exactly the same, humiliating process.

He let himself glance at her. And his heart warmed. She looked terrified, but she smiled at him a little none-the-less. He started to focus on what Freya was saying to him.

“Major Carter was trapped behind the force-shield.”

“That’s right.” He thought back to the image of her, standing there, helpless. Something he never thought he’d see from his strong, Air Force Major. He thought of how he’d tried desperately to free her, using the only tool he had: brute strength. She had her mind; if it had been the other way around, perhaps they’d have had a chance. She probably could have freed him. And the wave of shame flooded back through him.

“There were sounds,” he said.

“You did everything you could?”

“Yes.” There was that shame again.

“You couldn’t save her.” Freya’s words were like a knife in his heart as he forced himself to re-live the moments aboard Apophis’s ship.

“No,” he sighed.

“But you still could have saved yourself?”

“I guess.” And that was the problem wasn’t it? He could have, should have, saved himself. He should have left her behind. He should have gone back to Daniel and Teal’c, saved his team. He was torn in two directions: towards his team, the good Commanding Officer, sticking to the reg’s; or towards Carter, towards the truth of what he felt. And in making the choice, in choosing Carter, he’d finally admitted to himself that he loved her. The dam had broken, and there was no taking the admission back.

She’d tried to tell him to go. She’d tried to make him leave, to force him to remain the good CO, to stop him acknowledging what he felt, perhaps? Had she known then?

“What happened next?”

And he thought back to her face, to those eyes, filling with tears. At the thought of her own death? No, Carter wasn’t like that, she’d faced her death bravely so many times before. What, then? The thought of him dying too? And he knew, remembering the look she gave him then, that she felt exactly the same. She couldn’t stand the thought of him dying. That look, those tears; she loved him.

Jack swallowed, and in his head he heard the footsteps of the Jaffa getting closer, saw them round the corner.

“What were you feeling?” He was sure he hadn’t even answered her last question, but this was the crux of it, wasn’t it? This was where he would be forced to confess.

“Like someone who was about to die.”

Silence for a moment. Then Carter spoke. “Sir.”

He looked away, the feelings of shame washing over him again.

“I didn’t leave…because I’d have rather died myself than lose Carter.”

“Why?”

 “Because I care about her.” He glanced back at her. Her eyes snapped open and he held her gaze. He felt her question him, with those beautiful, expressive eyes. Those eyes, that he thought would be the last thing he saw. The blue that he’d tried so hard to imprint on his memory right before he thought she was going to die.

This was the one chance he had to tell her how he really felt. He knew he couldn’t use the word ‘love’, but he thought if he could just hold her gaze whilst he got this out, then maybe she’d understand.

He felt himself smile a little at her. “A lot more than I’m supposed to.”

Her eyes softened and she smiled a little, and he knew she understood.

“You are not a Zatarc.”

Sam lowered her eyes. “Now re-test me.”

She walked over to him, and for the second time, removed the restraint from his head, this time brushing her finger tips through his hair. As she pulled them off one wrist, her hand slid down to his fingers and she grasped his hand in hers and squeezed. He looked up, back into those eyes. She looked scared. Determined, but scared. He smiled at her again, and she smiled back. He ran his thumb over the back of her hand, just lightly, before he let go and undid his other wrist himself.

He felt his heart clench as she took his place in the chair.

 

Chapter Text

Sam took Jack’s place as he stood from the seat. She reached over herself and strapped her left wrist down, then looked up. He hadn’t moved away from the chair. He looked worried, and she wondered briefly why. The difficult part for him was over.

“I’m sorry, Carter.” He said, leaning over her to strap her right wrist to the chair.

“Sorry?” She replied.

“Yeah. I’ve put you in this position, I’m sorry.” He bent down, fastening the restraint over her forehead.

Sam took the opportunity to whisper to him.

“You have nothing to be sorry for. This isn’t just you.”

He looked down at her, seeming confused for a moment and she wished she could say more, wished she could assuage his guilt somehow. But Freya interrupted, and the moment was gone.

“If you are ready, we can begin. You had attempted to infiltrate Apophis’s new ship, with the powers granted to you by the arm bands.”

Sam did her best not to glare at Freya as Jack squeezed her arm encouragingly and then moved back to stand beside the Tok’Ra.

“We had.”

“Yourself and Colonel O’Neill were separated from Dr Jackson and Teal’c, and you had become trapped behind the force-shield.”

“Just me, yes. Colonel O’Neill was on the other side. He could have escaped but I was trapped.” She looked up at Jack, thinking ‘You could have escaped. You should have.’ And then the quieter voice in her head, the one she worked so hard to silence so often, piped up ‘But I’m glad you didn’t.’

“You could not disable it from your side?” Freya continued

“No.”

“Colonel O’Neill attempted to disable it from his side?”

“Yes.”

“Was he successful?”

Sam saw Jack wince behind Freya and felt a wave of dislike for the Tok’Ra flow through her. It had been clear to her during his interrogation that he felt guilt and remorse for not being able to free her. She wished, for just a second, that he wasn’t there to hear his failings being repeated once more. “No.”

“How did that make you feel?”

“A little scared. I didn’t want to die. But mostly scared for the Colonel.”

“Why?”

Sam thought back to Jack’s face as she’d pleaded with him to leave; the look of fear, of regret. She’d have given anything in moment to be able to touch him. As the realisation of what he was feeling had hit her, she had wanted so desperately to throw her arms around him, to hold him until the explosion took them both. She had wanted to kiss him, to show him that she loved him too. But all she could do was hold her hand to the force-shield as he did the same; palm to palm but separated by the vivid blue energy between them.

“Because he wouldn’t leave, even though I told him to, even though he knew staying meant he would die too.”

“You wanted him to leave you to die?”

“Yes.” She worried then that the Zatarc detector would pick up another lie, because part of her wanted him to leave, but another part couldn’t stand the thought of seeing him walk away. But Freya carried on.

“Why, if there was a chance that he could save you?”

“There wasn’t a chance. He tried to disable to force-shield but it wouldn’t go down. I didn’t want him to die for me. But I understood.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“I mean, I knew why he wouldn’t leave.” Sam looked directly at Jack, willing him to understand; ‘I knew that you love me. Please know that I love you too.’ Instead she said, “I wouldn’t have left him to die alone either.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s a waste of a life. Because he’s a good man and he deserves better. And because the thought of losing him, of him dying, hurt more than anything else I could imagine.”

“Why would that hurt you?”

“Because he means more to me than just being my Commanding Officer. Because…” She paused, thinking, trying to work out a way of saying she loved him without actually saying it. “Because he’s a part of me.”

Jack’s head snapped up at this and Sam’s gut clenched, worried she’d gone too far, said too much. She glanced up at Teal’c and Janet. Teal’c was merely watching, his face almost devoid of expression. If she didn’t know him so well she would have thought he felt nothing seeing his closest friends divulging their deepest secrets. But the tiny crease of his forehead, the merest nod, and she knew he was showing her his support.

Janet had been watching too, but with an entirely different expression. Sam saw pity in her face, and concern. Janet smiled sympathetically at her and closed her eyes.

Sam looked back at Jack, he was staring at the machine, and for a fleeting instant Sam’s heart sank. Was it still showing that she was lying? Had she not been clear enough? Or maybe she was a Zatarc.

But then Freya spoke, “You are also not a Zatarc.” And Sam breathed again.

“Thank you.” Partially relieved, partially humiliated, she looked up as Jack practically ran towards her.

He freed her hands and she ripped the restraint from her forehead.

“Carter.” He said.

“Sir,” and her heart sank. He knew now, she told herself. He knew how she felt, she knew how he felt and that had to be enough. Too much was at stake. She’d made up her mind, watching him sitting there during his confession, seeing him racked with guilt, that this couldn’t go further. He had to know that they could carry on working together and that she trusted him to be her CO. But it broke her heart to do this all the same.

She forced herself to look into his eyes. “None of this has to leave this room.”

It hurt a bit that he seemed relieved, but she told herself that she understood. “We’re okay with that?” He asked.

“Yes, sir.” And she tried to believe that she was.

 

 

Chapter Text

Sam wasn’t sure how long she sat there, curled on the floor, cradling Martouf’s body. It could have been hours or mere minutes; to her, time had stopped. What felt like hundreds of conflicting emotions coursed through her body, each fighting the other for dominance. It was overwhelming. All she could do was sit there as the warmth left Martouf, struggling not to cry, not to scream. He hadn’t deserved this.

When they finally came to move him, her legs had gone numb and the tears had slowly started to fall down her cheeks as the sadness flooded through her. He was not her lover, but at times the memories left behind made her feel like he had been. At the very least she could accept that he was her friend and to that extent the love she felt for him was her own. The romantic feelings may have been a shadow of what Jolinar felt, but she herself had gotten to know Martouf and Lantash and the tears she wept were Sam’s tears. The agony, the part of her trying not to scream; she was fairly certain that was Jolinar.

The numbness, began to dissipate as the body was lifted from her arms. She looked up, not troubling to wipe her eyes, seeing the Tok’ra look down on her with what could have been empathy. She was too tired to question it. Then he was gone, and her heart felt hollow. She took a deep, shuddering breath and the bitter taste of bile rose up into her throat.

Then Janet was by her side; strong, steady, comforting Janet. An arm around her shoulder, whispering soothing words into her ear. Calming her until she was able to stand and allow herself to be led out of the Gate Room. She paid no mind to where they were walking, trusting Janet completely.

Eventually, she felt the solidity of a chair behind her legs and sank down into it. She heard the click of a door closing, and, looking up, realised they were in Janet’s office. For a moment there was silence as Janet stood in front of the door, not blocking Sam in, but guarding her, keeping others out. Her eyes were filled with sadness and pity. Then she crossed to the water-cooler on the other side of the room and handed Sam a paper cup; it was ice-cold, refreshing and grounding.

“Are you alright?” Janet asked softly.

“I’m just…”Sam paused, looking down at her knees. She didn’t know what she was, what she was feeling. It certainly couldn’t be described as ‘alright’. “No.” She answered.

“I wouldn’t be either and I can’t even begin to imagine what you must be feeling.” Janet crossed to the chair behind her desk, pulled it out to sit in front of Sam.

“I need to sort through which feelings are mine and which are Jolinar’s.” Sam tried to clarify.

“Don’t rush it. Talk it out if you need to.”

Sam looked at her, gratefully. “Thanks. I just…I need to work it out in my head before I can put it into words.”

“Want me to make an appointment with Doctor MacKenzie?”

Sam’s first reaction was to resist; that’s what Jack would do. But after a moment her own common sense kicked in. “Yes, please.”

“I’ll get it set up in a bit. For now, just sit her, drink your water, and when you’re ready we can go back to my place.”

Sam looked at her, puzzled.

“Unless you want to be on your own for a bit?” Janet added. “It has been a pretty long day.”

Sam took a moment, trying to decide if some time alone would be better than company. “Dinner with you and Cassie would be good.”

Janet smiled briefly. “Cassie’s on a school trip. Still ok if it’s just the two of us.”

“Of course.” Sam smiled back, though it didn’t reach her eyes; she just couldn’t bring herself to be happy just yet.

“I’ll leave you here for a minute. I need to get back to work, but if you need anything I’ll be right outside.”

As she stood up and turned to leave, Sam called to her, “Janet.”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

Janet smiled, reached down and squeezed her hand.

After she’d gone, Sam felt the wave of despair hit her again, but she took a deep breath, sipped her water, and told herself it would be ok.

 


 

Sam followed Janet back to her house a couple of hours later. They cracked open a couple of bottles of beer, Janet ordered a pizza, and they sat in her living room discussing Cassie for a little while.

When the pizza arrived they stuck on a movie, though Sam was barely aware of what they were watching; it was just nice to be with someone who was laughing at the jokes and making light-hearted comments about whatever was on the screen.

The pizza was soon gone, the second beers almost finished. Janet stood up to grab another beer, and in her absence the thoughts of Martouf that had been consuming Sam so far were suddenly pushed to one side and she thought back to the events from the rest of their day.

It felt like all the blood had rushed from her face and her stomach clenched in anxiety as she finally began to pick apart the admissions she and Jack had made. In front of Janet. Janet knew now. Sam’s heart felt like it was beating too hard, too fast. “Oh God.” She whispered.

“Are you ok?” Janet was back with their third beers, but she set them down on the floor and knelt in front of Sam.

Sam just looked at her, pale-faced and nervous.

“Sam?”

“You’re going to have to submit a report to General Hammond.” Sam managed to get out, eyes wide with realisation. Of course, she would; the interrogation had taken place on base, it affected the security of the SGC and the President. Hammond would need reports. Sam and Jack could be brought up on charges. SG-1 could be split up.

Janet’s face fell. Any question Sam might have had that Janet didn’t know what she was talking about were quelled in that moment.

Sam took a deep breath. “It’s ok.” She said, the shaking in her voice making it clear that it wasn’t. “You can’t lie, you have to be honest in your report. I understand.”

“I’m sorry, Sam.”

“I know.”

“I can try to lessen it, maybe, write it in a way that doesn’t make it look… I don’t know…like he ignored his responsibility because of his feelings for you.”

Sam felt sick. No one had said it out loud yet, but that, she supposed, was the truth of it. If anything, her own punishment, if she received one, would be negligible compared to what might happen to Jack.

Janet, pulled herself up on the floor and sat with Sam on the sofa. “Do you love him?”

The colour rushed back into Sam’s face.

“No, don’t answer that. It’s better if I don’t know. And it’s better if you don’t have to lie to me.”

“I’m sorry, Janet.”

“What for? You couldn’t have told me.”

“You asked me once if our relationship was a problem. When he was stuck on Edora. And I lied to you then.”

“I understand, Sam.” Janet looked at her, sincerely. “I just hate that I have to put anything in the report to the General.”

“You can’t not.”

“I know. I can maybe try to talk to him? Convince him the armbands had some kind of effect on you both.”

“Did they? Do you have any evidence that they did? Daniel wasn’t affected.” Despite knowing the emotions were there before their encounter with the armbands, Sam held just a tiny speck of hope that Janet had some information to the contrary. At the expression on Sam’s face, that hope vanished.

“I really am sorry, Sam.”