October 1997 (Singularity)
Sam refused to meet the eyes of her commanding officer as she exited the facility and made her way across the tarmac to where he and the rest of the team were waiting.
“Daniel, Teal’c, take Cassandra and get ready to head out.”
“It’s okay,” Sam said quietly as the little girl looked up at her and refused to move. “I’ll be right behind you,” she added.
Silently, her teammates took a hand each and helped Cassie into the awaiting vehicle. Sam watched them for a moment and then stepped forward, only for the colonel to reach out, grab her arm and pull her behind the truck.
“What the hell did you think you were doing back there, Captain?”
She slowly met his eye but she refused to apologize. “I told you, Colonel; she woke up.”
“I gave you a direct order.”
“I was not leaving her, sir.”
”You could have been killed Carter,” he hissed angrily. His gaze then roamed over her face but she didn’t look away. The colonel swallowed hard and then suddenly let go of her arm. She thought he was about to storm off in the opposite direction, or yell, or do something to let her know exactly just how much trouble she was in. But then he surprised her. He pulled her against his chest and wrapped one arm around her shoulders, while his other hand came to rest on the back of her head and he threaded his fingers through her hair. “You could have been killed,” he whispered.
July 1998 (In The Line Of Duty)
Slowly, blue eyes met brown and Jack felt his breath catch when, instead of their usual brightness and sparkle, sadness and betrayal stared back at him.
Three days had passed since Jolinar’s death and even though he could understand why Sam was giving him the silent treatment, he couldn’t put up with her not speaking to him any longer. He missed her voice; her laughter; her technobabble…
He reached out and gently tapped his knuckles against the edge of the hospital bed.
“I know you probably don’t want to see me right now, but –” He stopped abruptly and winced when Sam closed her eyes and turned her head away from him. “I just wanted you to know that I’m really glad you’re okay.”
A soft whimper escaped the captain and she squeezed her eyes shut tighter. The action caused something inside Jack to snap and he pulled a chair closer to the bed and sat down. "I'm sorry I wasn't there when you needed me, Carter, but don’t – you don’t need to go through this alone. If I can help –”
He sighed and lowered his gaze to his hands. A few seconds later, he heard the faint rustle of material and felt like he was being watched. He looked up to see Sam staring at him.
She blinked at the question and he decided to take the opening. “I want to help – if you’ll let me.” He held his breath and waited. Finally, Sam nodded and he let his hand rest atop of hers. “Thank you,” he murmured.
February 2000 (Shades of Grey)
Despite the colonel’s apologies and the fact that there’s an explanation for everything that’s happened over the past few days, the first team night following his return from his undercover mission is fraught to say the least.
To an outsider, there’s nothing obvious to suggest tension and while none of his friends say anything, Jack knows them well and the differences in their actions and words tonight are noticeable. Over the course of the evening: he’s cracked a few jokes but even though they’ve roused a small smile from his second-in-command, it’s been forced and hasn’t met her eyes; he’s sparred back and forth with Daniel but there’s been a barbed edge to the archaeologist’s answers; and he’s tried to engage Teal’c in a conversation about his choice of movie for the night, only to be met with more one-word answers than usual.
It means team night ends just two hours after it starts and Jack knows that, even though he’s already apologized to the guys, he’s going to need to work harder to gain back their trust. He bites back a sigh as he watches Daniel and Teal’c get into their vehicle to head back to base but it’s only when Sam lifts her keys to follow that he stops. He’s yet to apologize to her for his behavior.
“Actually Carter,” he says quietly just as she's about to step outside, “do you have a minute?”
She watches him warily. “Sir?”
“I – ah –” He runs a hand along the back of his neck before he lets his hand fall by his side, “I’m sorry for what I said. You know – before,” he winces.
He sees her straighten but she doesn’t say anything, so he adds, “I didn’t mean it.”
“Then why did you say it?” The question is quiet and even now Jack can hear the hurt in her voice.
“I had to make you think I didn’t care anymore.”
“I understand, sir, but –” She stops abruptly and Jack raises a brow when she doesn’t continue.
“Permission to speak freely?”
“Of all the things you could have said to me – you chose that. That’s what hurts the most.”
Jack closes his eyes and sighs. He knows he was deliberately cruel to Sam and he hates himself for it.
“I needed you to hate me.”
“I could never hate you, sir.”
“I wish you would,” he says, before he realizes he’s uttering the words out loud, “it’d be easier to live with than the guilt of knowing I hurt you.”
Her expression changes and Jack glances around the hall. “If I could take it back, I would.”
“I know,” she whispers. “For what it’s worth, I’m not angry. I just…”
“Need some time?” he asks hopefully.
She meets his gaze and then smiles sadly. “Yeah.”
Jack presses his lips together and nods. The conversation isn’t perfect and he knows he’ll continue to seek her forgiveness every single day for the rest of his life if that’s what it takes, but he feels more confident now that she will forgive him.
“Drive safe,” he finally says. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”
She ducks her chin then looks back up at him. “Yes, sir.”
She throws him a final smile before she closes the front door behind her and Jack lets out a breath. Yeah, he thinks, they’re going to be alright.
January 2001 (The Light)
Jack kicks angrily at the sand as he makes his way along the beach. He knows he has been in an absolutely foul mood all day so for his – and everyone else’s benefit – he’s decided to try and calm down by walking it off.
He snorts at the thought.
“Walk it off,” he mutters. “If it was that easy there wouldn’t be a fucking pleasure palace on this –”
He abruptly shakes his head. He just wants to erase from his mind the fact that a Goa’uld pleasure palace actually exists, never mind that he has to detox in the place for another week until he’s able to go home.
“Handing in my resignation seems more appealing every day,” he sighs as he kicks at the sand again.
“How many times would that make it? Three? Four?”
“Depends,” he fires back and looks up to see Carter walking towards him with a smirk on her face, “on whether you mean officially or unofficially.”
She huffs out a laugh but Jack doesn’t detect any trace of humor. Clearly, she’s in the same bad mood and for some reason it rankles him.
“What are you doing here?”
“I felt like a walk.” There’s a hint of a challenge in her eyes. The lack of ranks in Sam’s answers also doesn’t go unnoticed and Jack is now at the stage where everything pisses him off and he’s itching for a fight.
“So, you didn’t come to apologize?”
“Well, at least you’re honest,” he mutters, and it seems he just can’t help himself when he adds, “I see we’ve decided to drop the formalities.”
“Depends,” she shrugs and her expression changes as she takes a step closer, “on whether you mean officially or unofficially.”
Her honesty surprises him and a few red flags start flying but Jack’s also not fully in his right mind and the itch that he had before to fight suddenly switches to something else altogether as Sam takes another step towards him. He wets his lips before he drawls, “Is that so, Major?”
She lets her gaze dart down to his lips before she meets his gaze and nods. “I know you like it when I call you, ‘Sir’.”
A groan escapes him before he can stop it and Sam’s answering smirk is all he needs to close the gap and invade her personal space. “It’s… doing things for me right now,” he admits gruffly, once again cursing the Light for removing any filter he has over his thoughts.
He jumps when he realizes Sam’s lips are hovering next to his ears and his hands instinctively go to her hips. “I –”
Jack curses softly under his breath as he reaches for his radio.
“What, Daniel?” he barks.
“Uh – you’ve been gone a while. Janet says we need to –”
“Watch how long we spend away from the damn light,” he interrupts. “Yeah.” He casts a quick look down at Sam who is now studiously avoiding his gaze and he sighs heavily. “Alright, we’re heading back.”
When Daniel signs off, Jack keeps his hands on Sam’s hips while she lets her forehead come to rest on his shoulder. “I’m sorry, si–”
“Shush,” he cuts in. “This place is messing with all of us.”
He feels her nod and he gives her hips a squeeze before letting his hands fall by his sides. He slowly takes a step back and gestures towards the palace before he says, “after you.”
Sam gives him a small smile which he returns, but he can’t quite help the chuckle that escapes him when he hears her muttered, “this is so fucked up”, as she passes.
July 2001 (Ascension)
“You know,” Jack said lightly as glanced in the rear-view mirror and steered the truck onto the next street to take Carter home, “this would be a lot easier if you just started yelling at me.”
He felt Sam turn her head to look at him. “Or, if not yell, then at least be honest and tell me what’s on your mind, Sam.”
He hoped the use of her first name would be the thing to get her to open up. After what felt like an eternity, he heard her sigh.
“You didn’t trust me.”
Jack winced. He deserved that.
“Can I ask you a question?”
He hesitated for a second and realized that since he’d opened this can of worms he couldn’t exactly order her to stop talking. He shrugged. “Sure.”
“What if it had been Daniel or Teal’c?” she asked. “Would you have believed them?”
His immediate reaction was to say ‘no’, that he would have treated their version of events regarding invisible aliens with the same level of dubiousness, but he couldn’t bring himself to say it because he knew there was a significant chance that he would have believed his other teammates quicker.
His silence seemed to give Carter the answer she already knew and she shook her head, and when Jack risked a glance in her direction he caught the hurt in her eyes before she looked away.
If he was honest with himself, he knows the reason why he chose not to believe his second. It was because ever since the Za’tarc incident and their time on P3R-118 as Jonah and Thera, Jack realized he couldn’t do it anymore. He’d allowed himself to get too close to Sam that he deliberately started to re-establish those boundaries and put some distance between them. However, it seemed he had managed to do too good a job because he’d pushed her away so far that he hadn’t even noticed her plea for help, or viewed her situation with Orlin as a friend who was in need.
“That’s… different,” he found himself saying.
“That’s the problem, isn’t it?”
“I’m sorry, Carter.”
He heard the sigh that followed his apology and his jaw tightened as they continued the rest of the journey in silence.
January 2003 (Paradise Lost)
Sam opened the front door already knowing who was standing on the other side.
“So, I heard you got into it pretty good with Doctor Lee.”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Sam muttered as she kept a hand on the door and made no move to invite her commanding officer inside her house.
“Then I’m sure Teal’c can fill you in on the details. Sir.”
“Oh, he did,” Jack said lightly, before all traces of humor vanished. “That’s why I’m here.”
With a sigh, Sam took a step back and gestured for him to come in. “I’m –”
“So help me, Carter, if you’re about to say the words, ‘I’m sorry’.”
“I let Maybou–”
“Listen, I’m going to make this easy for you.”
“For cryin’ out loud,” he said, throwing his arms up into the air, “it was not your fault, Sam!”
“I should have –”
“Shot Harry when you had the chance a few years ago? Yeah, probably,” he interrupted, his voice lowering, “but if it makes you feel any better, I managed it on the planet, so…”
He finished the sentence with a shrug and Sam looked at him with curiosity, rather than guilt. “You shot Maybourne?”
“Oh, yeah! And I’m not gonna lie,” he grinned, “it felt good.”
Despite the tension that had built between them, Sam laughed softly and Jack felt himself relax. Slowly, she met his gaze and he canted his head.
“You managed to bring me back home – again,” he murmured. “Thank you.”
She accepted his thanks with a nod. “It’s good to have you back.”
He studied her for a moment and then sighed softly. “C’mere,” he whispered and as Sam stepped into his embrace, he held her close and buried his face against the crook of her neck. It felt like home.
January 2004 (Grace)
She arrives at his house approximately forty minutes after he drove her home and he barely has time to open his front door, let alone hide his surprise at her sudden and unexpected appearance, before she says, “I have to know.”
Jack frowns. “Carter?”
“You said you were a safe bet.”
His frown deepens. “I did?”
She can hear the confusion in his voice but she presses on regardless. “What if I quit? Would that change anything?”
“I realized a few things when I was on Prometheus,” she explains as she averts her gaze, “and I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I need to know – so I can know whether I need to let you go.”
“Carter,” he sighs.
“Jack,” she whispers, her eyes filling with tears, “please.”
“I would never ask you to give up your career.”
She resists the urge to laugh. “Because you don’t feel anything for me?”
“Sam,” he warns. “I don’t think is a conversation we should be having.”
“Then I guess I have my answer,” she says, her voice breaking and when Jack sees her crestfallen look he winces.
“I didn’t mean–” He studies her closely for a moment as he decides on what he wants to say. He sighs heavily and finally says, “Give it a week. And then… we can talk.”
“Is that just an excuse?”
“Dammit, Carter,” he growls. “You’re still recovering from your injuries and if you are determined to have this conversation, I am not going to do it unless I’m sure you’re thinking clearly.”
“A week,” he nods.
“Okay,” she finally agrees. She quietly continues, “I’m going to Mark’s for a few days so –”
“I know,” he says softly, “Hammond told me.”
“Take care of yourself when you’re there,” he half-asks, half-orders.
“I will,” she nods.
“Good – and I’ll see you when you get back.”
There’s a moment of silence that passes between them before she turns on her heel. “Yes, sir,” she sighs.
She feels his gaze burning into her as he watches her leave.
July 2004 (Zero Hour)
Sam glanced up and smiled when she saw the General standing in the doorway of her lab. “General.”
“Can I come in?”
Her surprise at his appearance soon turned to bemusement. “You know you don’t need to ask permission, sir?”
“I know,” he said as he made his way into the lab. “I just didn’t know if you’d want to see me.”
When her bemusement turned to concern, he shrugged and tried to act nonchalant. “Daniel thinks you’re mad at me.”
“I’m not – what?”
“Something about shelving SG-1’s mission for–”
He left the sentence unfinished when Sam shook her head. “I’m going to kill Daniel,” she muttered under her breath.
Unfortunately, the General heard the threat.
“So,” he hedged, “he’s right?”
“No! I mean... no.” She pulled a face, then sighed.
“Postponing your first mission as SG-1’s leader has absolutely nothing to do with your abilities, Carter,” he said earnestly. “I just… I’d rather have another team to watch your back – considering I’m now stuck here.”
He let his attention fall to the lab bench and Sam took the opportunity to study him.
“I trust you with the team,” he continued, “but you gotta make sure you keep coming back home.”
At his final words, his gaze snapped to hers. “Understood?”
She offered a small, understanding smile. “Yes, sir.”
“Good,” he nodded before he tapped his knuckles against the surface of the bench. “Come back home, Sam,” he repeated softly, before he turned and left her alone in her lab, feeling happier and more confident about the upcoming mission.