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TITLE: Rumors

AUTHOR: Tiv'ester

E-MAIL: tivester@lycos.com

STATUS: Complete

CATEGORY: Angst

SPOILERS: Heroes Part 2, slight one for Fallen

SEASON/SEQUEL: 7

RATING: PG

CONTENT WARNINGS: None

SUMMARY: Sam’s actions in Heroes Part 2 isn’t seen the same way by everyone.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own Stargate SG-1. Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only. No money has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Writer’s block isn’t fun, not one little bit. Sometimes, I think you have to write something that fixes or explains whatever it is that may be part of what’s causing the writer’s block. I did that with Just Desserts and Help Wanted - Apply Within. In Heroes Part 2, there’s a scene that has garnered a great deal of controversy, and I soon realized that I had to make sense out of that scene, at least in a fic because it was bothering me. Once I wrote this story, the muses seemed to wake up and I’ve been writing ever since.

 

 

RUMORS

  

~~~~~~~~~~

"The cruelest lies are often told in silence."
-- Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (1850-94), British writer, essayist, poet, novelist, "Treasure Island"

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Saturday morning, 2:00 a.m.

 

Sam Carter glanced up from the electronic motherboard she’d been working on for hours. Trying to incorporate alien technology into a homegrown computer wasn’t as easy as it sounded and took far longer than she had anticipated. She yawned and then glanced over at her coffee pot. It was empty again. That had been the last of her coffee supply. The long hours she’d put in the last few days had finally taken their toll. She needed to finish this project before heading home for the weekend, and that meant staying awake. She needed more coffee.

 

The commissary only had military issue, and she was craving the real thing. No, change that. She needed the real thing if she was going to finish her task. She knew that Daniel had an unending supply. His reputation of always having coffee wasn’t just an SGC myth or legend. It was a truth so mired in reality that it had become a mainstay fact-of-life at the base. There was a rumor that he zealously guarded his coffee supply, and to take any of it was, to coin a phrase, taking one’s life in their own hands. There had been a few eyewitness accounts of what happened when Daniel found out his coffee supply had been purloined without permission. Relieving Daniel of his favorite drink or the makings thereof was not a quest to be undertaken lightly, but he would never refuse anyone enough to make one pot to get them through a few hours tedious work.

 

Stepping off the elevator, Sam walked down the corridor, noting the quiet the late night/early morning lack of full personnel always brought with it. The SGC was always on alert, but the night shift seemed less active than usual. Maybe it was fewer personnel on hand? This brought about some peace that the bustling activities of a fully staffed base couldn't afford. Then again, she noted that it had been relatively quiet for some time now, even with a full staff. Other team commanders had not sought out her expertise. She hadn’t been requested to help on projects by any of the other physicists nor asked to do anything other than her own research. She had more time to indulge in her own work without interruption, and that was a rare treat. She was taking full advantage of it.

 

Then again, it wasn’t just the base itself that was quiet. People became quiet whenever she entered a room. Sam believed that they were talking about Janet and stopped the discussion out of respect for the strong friendship she had with the doctor. Everyone on base knew they were best friends. No one would want to bring up raw memories so early after her death – the people at the SGC looked out for each other. It was hard to believe that the memorial service was only a week ago. Sam still expected to see Janet in the infirmary, in the officer’s lounge or in her office, but she never would again. This was one death that wouldn’t be reversed.

 

She missed her friend.

 

Cassie was handling the loss better. She had gone to the funeral but hadn’t wanted to attend the memorial service. She said it would be too hard. She saw all the faces of the people feeling guilty because they’d survived and her mother hadn’t. She didn’t want to see all them again looking like that. It wasn’t their fault her mother was dead. She was dealing with the death bravely. Maybe having lost one mother gave her extra strength to survive the grief of losing another? Sam didn’t know. Cassie was a strong kid, that much was certain. A 17-year-old girl was holding up better than a 40-year-old major trained to control her emotions was.

 

She hesitated a moment when she reached the door of Daniel’s office. Apparently being ascended hadn’t helped his ability to keep his desk neat or tidy. Without turning on the lights, Sam could see papers thrown hither and yon, all his notes in a whirlwind of topsy-turviness. To the unpracticed eye, it looked like a mess but not to those who knew better. Daniel had a system all his own, and as far as she knew, only Colonel O’Neill knew how to find anything buried in the piles. Once, the colonel said that he and Daniel had a similar working method. Everything has a pile and everything’s in its pile. The only area that was relatively tidy was the small table where the coffee pot stood. Knowing that Daniel’s piles were all on tables and desks and not on the floor, she didn’t bother to switch on the lights. She maneuvered her way to the small table and fumbled for the coffee container on the shelf below.

 

Daniel had nothing but the best coffee Air Force money could buy. Colonel O’Neill signed the requisitions himself. She remembered fondly one morning very soon after Daniel descended. Teal’c had brought Daniel to the commissary for breakfast. Earth food was somewhat familiar yet strangely alien to him at the time. The cooks made all his favorite dishes in an attempt to jog his memory. The rumor was that the commissary personnel were on a first name basis with Daniel – but who on the base wasn’t? Everyone from the guards at the front gate to the crew in the control room was on friendly terms with him, and it seemed as if every person had taken it into their heads to help restore Daniel’s memory by reminding him of his past in any way possible. Colonel O’Neill had his own ideas and gone one step further. As a surprise, he’d stopped by Starbuck’s and bought a thermos full of Daniel’s favorite flavor. It was a bit of an adventure for Daniel, a man whose memories were gone, who was regarded as a caffeine connoisseur, trying coffee for the “first” time. The look on his face, the small smile -- it seemed to trigger a memory because Daniel was never without coffee since that day. Unfortunately, equipping the commissary with the same coffee would cost a small fortune and the accounting department wouldn't approve such an expense.

 

Sam pondered if she should try to talk to Daniel. He’d had been keeping his distance from people over the last few days, including her. She recognized the signs -- he was still grieving. He’d been with Janet when she was killed, and it had been hard on Daniel, almost as hard as it had been on Sam herself. He felt things deeply, he always had.

 

Daniel should have been on the front lines, but when the medic was injured by a ricochet blast, someone had to volunteer to help Janet. Sam knew she was needed on the front line despite the fact she was a team medic. Her firing skills would be required on the battlefield. It was a split second decision, but Daniel volunteered at the exact moment the colonel asked him if he’d help. Those two were almost psychic – so much so that one didn’t have to speak for the other to know what he was thinking. Daniel would help Janet, and that put him a foot away from her when she was shot. He had been there in that last critical moment and saw what happened. It was a terrible tragedy. Was it any wonder he needed to mourn by himself, away from the team?

 

Coffee container in hand, she turned to leave but the sound of approaching voices caught her attention. She tried casually ignoring them; she couldn’t not overhear them.

 

You’re kidding?”

 

No. Word is she got the post by sleeping her way to the top. How else do you think she can screw up time and time again and not get into any trouble?”

 

But she’s an officer. How did she get there if she kept messing up?”

 

Because she got there on who she knows, not what she knows. Her family’s military, so that got her a cushy job back east. Word is she’s been shagging her CO for a while and that’s after she was giving him the goo-goo eyes for years. Who’s gonna say anything against her?”

 

“She’s not shagging him. He won’t give her the time of day. Ever notice how he insults her in front of everybody? No one has any respect for her.”

 

“Doesn’t matter. She’s a general’s pet.”

 

Sam entered the corridor at that moment, and both airmen stopped talking.

 

“Morning, major. I didn’t know you were still here,” the airman, a Sergeant Tucker, said warily.

 

“Yes, sergeant. I’m finishing up on some work when I ran out of coffee.”

 

“You’re taking Doctor Jackson’s, ma’am? I mean, it is Doctor Jackon’s, you know.”

 

Sam smiled. Obviously, Daniel’s reputation about hoarding coffee was as strong as ever. “I just enough for one more pot. Daniel wouldn’t mind.” Sam wanted to ask them who they were talking about, but base rumors were common regardless of what base any soldier was stationed on. Sometimes, it was better not to ask about gossip.

 

The two airmen nodded and walked off, not starting up their conversation again. As Sam headed back to her lab, she wondered who they were talking about. Surely no one at the SGC. Everyone stationed at Cheyenne Mountain had earned their position on merit. She couldn’t think of anyone at the base who would have those types of rumors spreading about her. There were only a small number of female personnel at the SGC. Anyone accused of impropriety of that sort would have been investigated. Certainly she would have heard about it. No, they must have been talking about someone from a different base.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

"The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception."
-- Nietzsche

~~~~~~~~~~

 

Monday morning, 6:00 a.m.

 

Sam drove through the front gate a little faster than she should have. Doctor Warner had released Jack – the colonel – from the infirmary, and she wanted to check on him before starting work. Their relationship was strained lately; at least, ever since she started dating Pete. It seemed to Sam as if Jack – Colonel O’Neill – had been either avoiding her or being uncomfortable around her. She thought that after everything they’d been through, they were close enough to talk to each other without any apprehension. Maybe they needed a chance to talk privately without anyone interrupting them.

 

She wasn’t certain she’d have time this morning. She needed to get some reports together for the next mission briefing, but she just needed a few minutes. The uneasiness couldn’t be allowed to grow any further. The way things stood between them…

 

She noticed Colonel Dixon getting out of his car as she parked in her usual parking space. He had a gray folder clenched tightly in one hand and a distracted look on his face. Distracted but determined. He’d been moody since the failed mission, but what commanding officer wouldn’t be? Sometimes, you couldn’t just shake off what happened; you needed to reflect on what happened, to grieve, to take stock, and to remind oneself that sometimes death is part of the job.

 

Hurrying, Sam caught up with the colonel just as he was pressing the button for the elevator.

 

“Good morning, sir,” she said.

 

“Major,” he nodded his head but kept looking at the doors.

 

“How are you this morning?”

 

“Fine.”

 

He wasn’t being very talkative, but it was 6:00 on a Monday morning. Who wanted to talk that early?

 

“I understand that SG-13 is being put back on active duty,” she tried again.

 

“Later this week. I have to clear up a few things with Colonel O’Neill before then.”

 

“He was released from the infirmary yesterday. In fact, I need to speak to him before our briefing as well.”

 

The elevator doors opened and both stepped inside. Colonel Dixon pressed the button for his floor; Sam did the same for hers. “Then I’ll see the colonel first thing this morning,” he told her. “My report won’t take long.”

 

Through the uncomfortable silence, Sam wanted to ask what the report was about, but Dixon wasn’t in a talkative mood. The elevator doors opened and the colonel walked off, the folder still clutched tightly in his hand. He was normally a friendly, outgoing man. His off-behavior could be excused. A disastrous mission, a team member out on sick leave, who could blame him for being a bit uncommunicative?

 

Her floor wasn’t a bustle of activity yet. It was still too early for the morning crew to arrive, but the ones who were there were mysteriously silent. She was saluted and good-morninged, but everyone went about their own business. As she continued on toward her office, she heard murmurings from people, saw some sideways glances but then they’d turn and look at something else. Janet had been dead for over a week. Her loss would be keenly felt for a while yet, but why were people still behaving like this?

 

Was there something going on she needed to know about?

 

She tinkered around her office for a little while, giving Colonel Dixon the time to discuss matters with Jack – Colonel O’Neill. She mentally kicked herself. She was not no a first name basis with the colonel, so she shouldn’t think his name either. It would be too easy to mess up in front of other soldiers.

 

She looked at her watch.  6:45. Perhaps Colonel Dixon was finished? She decided to take the chance and headed off to O’Neill’s office.

 

Once there, she found the lights off. He wasn’t in his office. Where could he be? A quick check of the infirmary and recovery rooms showed that he wasn’t there. The commissary perhaps?

 

~~~~~

 

Sam walked into the commissary and saw Colonel Dixon and Colonel O’Neill sitting at SG-1’s usual table -- near the coffee pot for Daniel’s ease and convenience when he couldn’t get his special brand. Neither was speaking at that moment. In fact, O’Neill’s attention was focused on the information in the folder.

 

She sat at the nearest table and waited. Perhaps she’d get a hint about what was bothering Dixon and what was in that folder. Whatever it was, it had to be important if O’Neill’s expression was a hint.

 

She watched as Dixon handed a few more folders to Jack. She recognized the handwriting on some of the papers that Jack was turning. Some officers on the base, some of the scientists. Maybe there must be a mission being planned, an important one. Perhaps the team leaders and the scientific experts were writing reports on MALP transmissions? If that were the case, then she would have been asked to contribute. Whatever it was, it had to be important.

 

She couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying; they were speaking too low. She did hear Dixon mention Hammond’s name, something about his having a copy of the reports as well.

 

She waited until she saw Colonel Dixon stand. Jack nodded his head, said something she couldn’t hear and closed all but the gray folder Dixon had given to him.

 

The colonel passed her as he left. If anything, he looked even more miffed. He didn’t acknowledge her or look her way. He walked past her, eyes ahead as if in a bad mood. Whatever this meeting had been about, it must not have gone well. Or perhaps there was a great deal of danger connected to whatever was happening?

 

Now was a good moment. There were only a few people in the commissary, so this was as good a time as any to have a heart-to-heart talk.

 

She walked over to the coffee pot, grabbed a cup, filled it, and sat opposite Jack.

 

He didn’t seem to notice her.

 

“Sir?”

 

Jack looked up, suddenly aware he wasn’t alone anymore. “Yeah, Carter. What is it?”

 

“Is something wrong, sir?”

 

“Yeah. I’ve got a lot of reading to do.”

 

Reading? Colonel O’Neill? “From Colonel Dixon?”

 

Jack looked at her, eyes squinting. “How’d you know it was Dixon?”

 

“We arrived at the base at the same time this morning. He told me he needed to speak to you before the briefing. And I saw him in here with you a moment ago.” She watched as he closed the folder.

 

“He found me.”

 

Another uncommunicative person? That was so unlike O’Neill. She was becoming more and more convinced that something major was going on.

 

“Colonel, I was wondering if –“

 

“I’ve got work to do, Carter. I’ve got to find Daniel and see if we can get started right after the briefing. Can it wait?”

 

Whatever it was, it had to be bad for the colonel to be so curt and terse. She needed to speak with him, but if something bad was happening, then she’d have to wait. Again. She hesitated for a moment before saying, “Yes, sir.”

 

Sam regarded him as he walked away, folders tucked under his arm. She knew she’d learn what was going on soon enough, but if the other scientists were involved, then shouldn’t she be?

 

Monday morning, 8:00 a.m.

 

Sam hurried to the briefing room, the paperwork for the morning’s discussion held tightly in her hand. There were an inordinate number of missions with scientific implications in the near future, and she was hoping to be able to assist those teams when they went off world. Surely SG-1 wouldn’t be put on full-time duty just yet since Colonel O’Neill was still recuperating.

 

Ahead of her, she saw Colonel Dixon hurrying somewhere. Perfect. SG-13 was one of the teams scheduled for an off-world geological survey of a naquada-laden planet. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

 

“Colonel Dixon, sir,” she called out.

 

Dixon turned at the sound and stopped walking. “Yes, major?”

 

“Sir, I was wondering if it would be possible for me to accompany SG-13 to PRQ-917. The geological reports show – “

 

“Actually, major, we already have a scientist assigned to our team for that mission.”

 

“Yes, sir, but I was – “

 

“And the planet is considered relatively safe with no goa’uld activity, so it’s a perfect setting for some of the civilian personnel who don’t get to go through the gate very often to get some actual off-world experience. It’s good training for them.”

 

As Dixon started to walk away, Sam followed. “I agree, sir. Many of our civilian scientists have little to no experience with gate travel, but the technological advancement possibilities the MALP findings suggest would be – “

 

“Major,” Dixon stopped walking and looked at her squarely in the eyes, “we have a scientist newly assigned to our team who needs to get some experience going off-world. He needs to learn how the dynamics of the team works. He also needs to learn how to act with the rest of the team in deadly situations so no one gets killed. Going to safe worlds gives us a chance to do some training while we’re also helping him do all that rock and dirt gathering for those geological surveys the high I.Q. people like to play with. Sorry, major, but we don’t need you for this mission.” And he walked off.

 

~~~

 

Sam sat at the briefing room table, drinking another cup of coffee and reading a report as the rest of the team came in. Teal’c was there before she was and was waiting for the others, coffee not needed. Jack came in, quiet and sullen, not looking at anyone. Then Daniel came in. He looked haggard and half-asleep, definitely NOT in a good mood.

 

“Are you all right, Daniel Jackson?” Teal’c asked. It was a question he asked Daniel whenever the younger man appeared unwell or troubled. It was a habit he’d fallen into since Daniel’s descension.

 

Daniel looked at him with that did you just ask a really obvious question look he got sometimes. “Someone stole my coffee over the weekend.”

 

Sam almost choked on her own sip of coffee. “Oh, Daniel, I’m sorry. I was here late Friday night and ran out. I needed something to keep me awake and borrowed yours. I forgot to put I back.”

 

Uh oh. Now she’d done it. That look on Daniel’s face was never one to have directed at you. Even Colonel O’Neill didn’t dare do anything to garner that look on Daniel’s face. “You took my coffee?”

 

“I meant to take it back, but I was tired when I finished my project and didn’t think of it. Daniel, I’m so sorry,” she was almost amused.

 

Daniel, however, wasn’t amused. “You took my coffee?”

 

Jack placed his hand on Daniel’s shoulder. “Easy there, big fella. Make it through the briefing and we’ll get you some Starbuck’s. Carter won’t take your coffee again, will you, Carter?” The colonel didn’t look very happy for some reason. In fact, he had a familiar look to his face, one she hadn’t seen in a long time. It was the one that said very clearly, “I’m not happy but I’m going to make some bad jokes until we’re through with this.”

 

“No, sir.” Sam was smiling at the face Daniel was making. It was almost cute! He looked rather petulant, but he always did when he hadn’t had an early dose of caffeine.

 

“She took my coffee,” Daniel mumbled tiredly, sounding like he didn’t believe the words.

 

Sam could only smile. Truly, she had forgotten to take the canister back, but it was sitting in her lab. “I’ll get it back to you right after the briefing, Daniel. It’s right beside my coffee pot.”

 

That didn’t go far in the way of placating Daniel. Okay, so she’d crossed the line a little, but nothing serious, nothing she hadn’t done before and Daniel had dismissed it. He didn’t look like he was dismissing it now. Maybe it was the lack of caffeine that made him seem a little miffed at her. He’d be fine once he had a cup or three or five.

 

Lately, he just seemed upset at unimportant things. Sam didn’t understand why. It just wasn’t in his easy-going nature to snap at people without a very good reason. He’d seemed a little better once he and the colonel had talked after Janet had died, but maybe he did need to talk to someone else. Maybe he was feeling guilty about Janet’s death?

 

Or maybe it really was just Daniel on a Monday morning without coffee?

 

“Good morning,” Hammond said as he walked in from his office. He didn’t look any happier than the others did. What was going on with everyone? The Monday morning blahs?

 

The briefing was short despite the number of planets scheduled for all the teams that week. Hammond reminded them that since they didn’t have a mission because Jack was still on the mend, it was a time to catch up on paperwork and lab work. Hammond also went over the current base activities and other teams’ schedules, but other than that, it was uneventful, until the end.

 

“One last thing,” Hammond said as he turned off the camera. “It’s come to my attention that there are some problems with some of the personnel over the last few months. Recently, things have escalated. For example, I’d enter a room, people would stop talking. Lately, it’s been more noticeable. There’s been some discontent and some grumblings, but until now, there haven’t been any outright complaints. One thing I don’t want is gossip-mongering affecting our job here, so I’d like to know if any of you have heard anything or know of any problems I should be made aware of.”

 

“’I’ve noticed a few things,” Jack said. “I went to the commissary on Friday and everyone in there just looked at me then went back to eating. It got quiet after that. Same thing this morning.”

 

“I have not noticed such behavior,” Teal’c added.

 

“Neither have I,” Daniel agreed.

 

“I believe that’s a normal reaction when you enter a room, Teal’c,” Hammond suggested.

 

 “Unfortunately, I’ve been witnessing other behavior. There’s a growing distrust from the civilians as well as personnel getting into heated debates but stopping the moment they know a superior officer is approaching.”

 

Sam had the distinct impression that Hammond was on a fishing trip of some kind. That meant he already knew the answer, he just wanted to see who else did.

 

Rumors…

 

Sam thought for a moment, wondering if she should mention the conversation from the weekend, and deciding that it wouldn’t hurt, spoke up. “At first, I thought people were talking about Doctor Fraiser when they suddenly went quiet, but when I was in Daniel’s office Saturday morning, I overheard two airmen discussing the conduct of an officer. I don’t know who.”

 

“Anything out of the ordinary?” Hammond asked.

 

“I would say there were disparaging remarks about her character, sir. I don’t believe it’s anyone here or we would have heard about it by now. Something like that can’t be kept secret for very long.”

 

Hammond nodded his head, a sad look on his face. “I see. As you know, if an officer has done something inappropriate, that won’t be kept quiet. It is possible that the officer in question is unaware of any impropriety.” Then, “Doctor Jackson, have you noticed anything unusual?”

 

Daniel’s eyes tracked sleepily to the general’s position. “Rumors go on here all the time, general. It’s nothing new.”

 

“Anything worth mentioning?”

 

“Rumors happen out of jealousy or anger or frustration. I’ve heard all kinds of stories since I came back from Abydos and since I descended. Most of them aren’t true. I didn’t think they were anything to worry about, are they?”

 

Hammond seemed to consider this and shrugged his shoulders. “They could be but you’re right. Not in all cases. However, these seem to be substantiated. The effect on morale has been growing, unfortunately. I’ll be doing a little more investigating on my own. Colonel, I’ll want to discuss this with you later. Dismissed.”

 

Sam noticed that Daniel was obvious about not looking her way as he left the room. He must need a cup of coffee badly to behave like that. She’d make it up to him. She’d buy him a brand new canister of his special blend.

 

As they walked down the corridor, she caught up to Jack. “How are you feeling, sir?”

 

“Just peachy, Carter.” Then he said no more.

 

It was unlike the colonel to be so uncommunicative. “Sir? Is something wrong?”

 

“Yes, there’s something wrong.”

 

“Anything I can help with?”

 

“No, I think you helped enough.”

 

“Sir?” Sam stopped walking. What was wrong?

 

“Look, Carter, I’ve got a lot of reports to get through plus I’m a week behind on my paperwork thanks to my little stint in the infirmary. Daniel volunteered to help me with the scientific paperwork this morning, get it organized and sorted out so I don’t have to spend the next week catching up on it, but he’s in the grizzly bear mode since he didn’t have any coffee.” He paused, took a breath, then asked, “Didn’t you stop to think that about what you were doing?”

 

“Sir, I – “

 

“Now I’m going to drive to Starbuck’s, get him a few cups of that really souped-up brand he likes so he can get back to his normal, hyperactive self. Then I’ve got to have that meeting with Hammond. Basically, we’re behind schedule and some of this paperwork can’t wait.”

 

Sam almost laughed. He couldn’t be serious. “Sir, I’m sure Daniel will be fine. He can drink Air Force issue. He does it all the time.”

 

Jack just shook his head. “No, he doesn’t, not all the time. He hasn’t asked for one thing since he descended except no more G.I. coffee. He wants the real stuff. Since all Daniel does is give and doesn’t get very much in return, I think that’s a small price to pay, don’t you?”

 

Jack left her standing in the corridor. What was wrong with everyone? She knew she had a reason to be short tempered and upset. She’d lost her best friend a week ago, but she was the closest to Janet. Still, she was trying to do her work without letting her grief get in the way, wasn’t she? But them? Maybe it was the reaction of losing someone so close to the team. No, they’d lost people close to them before. Could Janet’s death be affecting everyone this profoundly, not just her? Maybe these rumors about this officer were more disconcerting than she'd originally thought?

 

Then again, maybe it really was nothing more than the Monday morning blahs?

 

She had work to do, so she put her team’s behavior out of her mind and went back to her lab. There sat the coffee canister. She had to get it back to Daniel immediately before his grizzly bear appearance truly became a grizzly bear attitude and he started ripping people to shreds, proverbially speaking. She guessed work could wait a few minutes.

 

Canister in hand, she walked toward the elevator. Daniel would probably be in his office now before helping Jack…er, Colonel O’Neill. She needed to remember NOT to call him Jack. It wasn’t proper military protocol. She’d make Daniel some coffee… wait, the colonel said he was going to Starbuck’s? Was that a joke? Sometimes, she couldn’t tell with the colonel. It didn’t matter. She’d make Daniel a new pot anyway.

 

As she exited the elevator, she noticed the people in the corridor were talking until they looked in her direction, then they stopped the conversation and hurried on their way. Again? Whoever this officer was, she had created rumors that were getting out of hand. She wondered who it was and why even General Hammond was concerned. Normally, he let rumors run their course unless they were particularly damaging to the person and then he put a stop to them. Rumors were like wild winds. You couldn’t really stop them or change their course except to find the truth.

 

Daniel wasn’t in his office. Perhaps he was with the colonel? It didn’t matter at the moment. She walked over to the coffee pot and soon, the new pot was brewing. Daniel would have a surprise when he came back. She made a mental note to buy more for him, and as she did so, she turned and saw a note on his desk. It was in Bill Lee’s handwriting.

 

Hey, Daniel.

I need a favor. We’re scheduled to go on a mission next week, and the general wants a one of those scientific soldiers to head up the team. I’ve sent a request to Hammond to ask for you to do the honors, so I’m hoping you’ll accept. We need a competent person in charge in case something goes wrong. Some of these guys on the team have never been off-world before, and if we run into problems, you’d know what to do.

Thanks.

Bill Lee

 

She was supposed to lead that mission next week; at least she was given the assignment. Perhaps General Hammond had assigned her a new task that she didn’t know about yet? Perhaps whatever was in those reports the colonels had been going over? No, Doctor Lee said he’d requested Daniel to lead it. Yes, Daniel was good at leading teams, both scientific and military, but this wasn’t an archaeological dig. It was another one to study geological changes. Daniel must not have seen the letter yet since it wasn’t in the “letter pile,” so it should be a relatively new development?

 

Sam decided to ask Doctor Lee about this. Walking toward the labs, she noticed the same strange looks and sudden drop in conversation when she walked by other personnel. Whatever was going on, no one wanted the upper brass or command staff to know what it was.

 

She walked down the corridor toward the scientists’ labs when she heard voices. She recognized them -- one was Bill Lee’s. Another was Chloe, Felger’s assistant. Sam thought the third voice belonged to Berlinsky, the archaeologist from SG-13. She came closer, and could see them in a mirrored surface on the wall.

 

Bill Lee was sitting at the table, Chloe next to him. Berlinsky joined them bringing a plate of pastries with him.

 

“You’re the assistant director of the scientific department, Bill. Can’t you do anything? Talk to Doctor Jackson? I mean, how many times has she taken the credit for other scientists’ work, huh? She’s stolen their ideas and just ran with them. We can’t just let our work go--”

 

“I’ve written up my complaints and put her actions in my mission notes. What more do you want me to do?” Bill’s voice sounded tired and resigned. “You know she’s the Teflon queen. She thinks she can do whatever she wants and there aren’t any repercussions. Hell, that’s been her story for years! The facts speak for themselves. She’s screwed up lots of times, but nobody can touch her. Look at her record.”

 

Chloe took one of the pastries and bit into it. “Yeah, we know she’s not perfect, unlike some people I work with, but this last time? How can she not be in trouble? There were more than enough witnesses.”

 

Bill shoved the pastries away from him. He did the same thing with his coffee cup. This had apparently spoiled his appetite. “I’ve put in my written complaints and told the colonel which records he could access for everything I’ve ever reported on her. The problem is who’s going to say anything? Think a soldier’s gonna jeopardize his career? Even the scientists here know they can get booted out if the say anything against her. Anybody even mentions to the top brass that she abandoned her post and they’ll say she was doing her duty whatever her duty is and then they’re up on charges for false accusations.”

 

“That’s what the colonel said,” Berlinsky muttered. “You don’t just press charges of conduct unbecoming an officer without being able to prove it. I still say it applies to her with the way she’s been acting.”

 

“No one’s disagreeing here, Berlinsky. It doesn’t matter now, anyway. The point’s moot. Look, this last time was the last straw for a lot of people. She just up and ran from her post in the middle of a firefight just because O’Neill got shot. It’s not like there weren’t others around him to check him out. Then she just sat there, and if I heard right, it looks like a Jaffa got through where Carter was supposed to be and that’s the one that killed Fraiser and could have killed Daniel. It’s just that before now, no one was going to say boo to her.”

 

Sam listened intently. This couldn’t be true.

 

Berlinsky took a sip of coffee. “I got to meet Cassandra and the doc once in town. Smart kid. This has to be rough on her. She’s lost two mothers. Did you hear what Carter said about Cassandra? Said Cassie’s a strong kid, but then she has to go crying on her CO’s shoulder. Why does O’Neill keep her on the team if she’s like that?”

 

Bill handed a piece of paper to Berlinsky. “Here’s the request I sent Daniel for him to lead the mission next week. I don’t know if he will. He’s friends with Carter, but we’ve got to look out for ourselves. Hammond asked me why, and I told him that we’d prefer a non-military scientist in charge since we’re civilians. I don’t think he bought it even though he did agree that Daniel comes highly recommended by the team leaders as a good guy to have on a mission.”

 

“I think you should have just told Hammond the truth,” Chloe admonished him. “I don’t think it’s wrong for us to want someone competent in charge and not someone like Carter.”

 

“I can’t say anything about what happened on the planet,” Bill explained. “I wasn’t there and it’s a military matter. I gave all my information to the colonel, he said he’d get it to Hammond.”

 

“The general’s in a tough spot,” Berlinsky told them. “He’s the one who brought Carter into the program. Think he wants to admit he made a mistake? You’ve heard what some of the officers have said. She might be okay in the lab, but in the field, she’s proving to be a liability. The only ones who don’t say that is SG-1. And with the colonel knocked out, Doctor Jackson helping Fraiser and Teal’c busy fighting Jaffa, they might not know what she did in that firefight. Even if they did know, I don’t think they’d want to admit they’ve been wrong for seven years, and I’m guessing that no general wants a mistake that bad on his record.”

 

Chloe took another pastry, a chocolate one this time. “We may not be able to get new team leaders every time. What if we get stuck with Carter and can’t do anything about it?”

 

Bill sat back and interlaced his fingers. “When I first met Daniel, I found out he knew how to use every weapon on this base. He said he already had a working knowledge of guns when he first came to the SGC years ago and then learned about the alien stuff along the way. He’s a dead shot. He told me once to learn everything I can about how to protect myself out there, how to shoot and think on my feet, and ever since we were taken prisoner in Central America where he was proven right, I’ve been learning. I think it would be a good idea if all of us learned how to use guns. If Carter comes along, we can’t trust her to keep her head in a shootout. We’ll have to take care of ourselves.”

 

Sam turned and walked quickly away from the labs.

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Truth lies within a little and certain compass, but error is immense."
-- James Agee (1909-55), American writer, critic.

~~~~~~~~~~

 

No, it couldn’t be true.

 

It wasn’t true.

 

That wasn’t what happened.

 

She would never abandon her post!

 

She was a career soldier with almost 20 years active service to her credit. She had been in the Gulf War, worked at the Pentagon, rewritten some of the laws of physics, discovered new elements to put into the periodic table, had sacrificed much in the war against the Goa’uld, pioneered wormhole physics and gate mechanics – she was a professional. She would never have acted so disgracefully.

 

And all those other rumors she’d heard over the last week – those were about her! Sleeping her way to the SGC? Stealing other people’s ideas? Taking the credit for other scientists’ work? Pining after her commanding officer? Nepotistic? Abandoning her post? Conduct unbecoming an officer? Having no respect from any of the SGC personnel? General’s pet?

 

NEVER!

 

No one at the base saw her in that light! They couldn’t. She’d proven herself time and again. She’d shown her worth through countless engagements. Someone was lying about her, but why?  What would anyone hope to gain by behaving in such a vicious manner? She’d never given anyone any reason to dislike her – she did her job and did it well. No one was covering for any misdeeds because she hadn’t committed any. Her record stood on its own merits. Yes, there were some minor reprimands for disregarding orders, but they were forgotten with the letters of commendation received for saving the earth by disregarding orders. Every action she’d taken was substantiated as necessary for the defense of planet Earth. Her actions had, at times, single-handedly kept the planet from being destroyed.

 

She reached her office… no, it wasn’t true. Those rumors were vicious lies! Yet, they had already tainted her reputation with both scientific and military personnel on the base. If the rumors had gone further than Cheyenne Mountain, what was she going to do? Rumors could damage someone’s career. She had to meet them head-on, dispel them immediately. She needed to find evidence of the truth.

 

How was she going to do that? She thought for a moment, then realized that the MALP recording had all the evidence she needed to prove that she hadn’t abandoned her post. It would exonerate her.

 

She sat down at her computer and sought out the file for the MALP recording of the battle. She also looked through the archive log. Oddly enough, General Hammond had accessed the same file earlier. No, not odd at all. If he had heard that the rumors were about her, wouldn’t he want to get to the truth to show the rumors were false? He was a friend and mentor as well as her commanding officer. He was a friend of her father’s. Of course, he’d want to do all he could to help her. She waited a moment, and then watched as the scene played out before her on her monitor.

 

The soldiers set up a defensive line against the oncoming Jaffa. She could see Janet and Daniel in the far corner of the screen when the MALP camera panned in their direction. She saw herself, Teal’c and Colonel O’Neill establish themselves firmly on the line with SG-13 and other soldiers that accompanied them through the gate. O’Neill was on the left side of the battlefield with Dixon. She and Teal’c were on the opposite side. She watched O’Neill and Dixon talk for a moment. She saw them all firing on the Jaffa, pushing them back but then the Jaffa started to advance on their position slowly. Daniel and Janet were tending to the wounded soldier; Daniel was holding his video camera. O’Neill looked off to his left, aimed his weapon, was shot and fell to the ground.

 

Then Sam heard herself yell “Sir!” She also saw her run from her position, across the battlefield, through friendly fire to kneel beside the unconscious man.

 

Was that what everyone was talking about? That wasn’t abandoning her position. She was tending to a wounded soldier!

 

She only had to run across the battlefield. What else was she supposed to do? No one else was checking on him.

 

No, they were all firing at the oncoming Jaffa.

 

She watched the monitor as staff weapon fire zinged past the position she had left, then saw a couple of Jaffa break through the defensive line, across the point where she had been. No one had been able to completely cover the gap in the line she had created. One Jaffa fired on Janet and Daniel’s position, hitting Janet in an area not protected by the new armor. A second shot almost hit Daniel, but one of the guarding soldiers killed the Jaffa before he could fire a third. She heard someone yell out “All clear, Doctor Jackson,” then she heard Daniel yell for the medics, his voice betraying the truth he was witnessing.

 

Sam noticed once again where she was during the battle. She was kneeling by Jack’s side, checking his condition. A few of the other soldiers had closed ranks to protect Jack as well, their position now no longer defendable with their forces so sparsely scattered around the battlefield. Some had tried to cover her post, but that was their job. Still, they were being overrun. They were outnumbered. She watched the medics come and place Jack on a stretcher and she ran along beside them.

 

Then she noticed the other soldiers on the monitor screen. Colonel Dixon was looking at her with an angry stare. Others…

 

No.

 

It wasn’t true.

 

They were mistaken.

 

There had been nothing dishonorable in her actions! The colonel was hit. No one was looking after him. He could have been seriously injured, perhaps fatally so, and no one had done anything about it.

 

Because everyone else was firing on the Jaffa to keep them back -- which had been her job as well.

 

She replayed the MALP’s recording.

 

And again.

 

Finally, Sam sat back and the full realization of her actions finally hit her. From a certain point of view, she’d abandoned her position. She’d hastened the fall of the defense they were staging. Her actions had forced others to compensate for her in the middle of a firefight that ultimately weakened their position and allowed a flanking maneuver to collapse their lines. The rumors circulating about her said that her inappropriate feelings for her CO had…

 

No.

 

Yes.

 

She’d screwed up royally and quite probably destroyed her career as well. Abandoning her position was a court-martialable offense – but the rumors hadn’t started or ended with that one action. They accused her of nepotism, favoritism, conduct unbecoming an officer, incompetence – even if she could somehow prove that her actions were somewhat misconstrued and that she had been giving aid to an injured soldier, how was she to recover her reputation? How was she to prove that they weren’t true?

 

How had anyone come to those conclusions? Hadn’t her behavior been exemplary? How could there have been any room for misinterpretation?

 

Then another thought hit her – the Jaffa that had killed Janet, it had found an opening in the spot she had left. She’d allowed the Jaffa to gain access to her friend. The Jaffa could have also killed Daniel if the soldier guarding them hadn’t stopped him.

 

What had she done?

 

She realized she wasn’t alone, and she turned to see the general standing in the doorway.

 

“Major Carter,” General Hammond said, his eyes showing his disappointment. “I’d like to see you in my office.”

 

Finis

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