Major Samantha Carter looked up from her computer. Turning her head she saw her commanding officer standing in the doorway.
"Yes, sir," she answered.
"How's it coming along?" Colonel O'Neill wanted to know.
"Not too well, I'm afraid," she answered. "The energy signatures are all wrong." She sat up straight and groaned. She put up a hand and massaged her neck. "I'll have to start all over again."
"We really need that info, Carter," Colonel O'Neill said.
"Yes, sir," Sam acknowledged. "I'll get it as soon as possible." She sighed, rubbing the kink in her neck.
"Neck bothering you, Major?" he asked.
"A bit," she said, rolling her shoulders. She'd been at the computer for over five hours, it was no wonder her neck and shoulders were stiff and sore. Her hand came up and rubbed her neck again, then she felt it being pushed away. "What?"
"Just hold still, Carter." Jack started massaging her sore shoulders and neck. "Damn, your muscles are as tight as wire." As he massaged, her head lolled forward and she moaned.
"That feels wonderful." She moaned again. "I'm sorry, sir, it just feels so good."
Jack continued to massage her shoulders. "Don't worry about it, Carter." Another moan, then a sigh. "Carter, you shouldn't let yourself get in this state." He paused. "Carter?" A faint, delicate little snore met his ears. 'She's asleep.' he thought. 'How long has it been since she's had any rest?' He stopped massaging her shoulders and knelt down beside her chair. "Sam? Sam, wake up." Jack shook her a little. "Samantha, wake up."
Sam jerked awake. "What?" She sat up straight. "I'm sorry sir, I was resting my eyes."
"How long has it been since you've been off base?" Jack asked. "Three, four days?"
"Six, sir," Sam said in a small voice.
"Six days?" Jack nodded his head. "When was the last time you ate something?"
"I, uh, sir, I really don't remember." Sam shook her head. "I haven't had time. I have to get this finished."
"Screw it!" Jack said vehemently.
"What?" Sam asked.
"I said, screw it." Jack went to the phone and dialed. "General Hammond, please. General, this is O'Neill. I'm taking Carter home, she's dead on her feet. Yes, sir. Fine." Jack took Sam by the hands and pulled her up on her feet. She swayed slightly. "You're coming with me. Get your stuff."
"But, sir," she began, but he cut her off.
"That's an order, Major Carter. Now move it." Jack hustled her along the hall to the locker room. She retrieved her jacket and keys, and he escorted her to his car.
"Sir, I have my own car here." Sam pointed to the area of the parking lot where she was parked.
"Carter, you're in no condition to drive, you're dead on your feet." He unlocked the passenger door. "Get in."
Sam was too tired to argue with him. He was right, she wasn't in any condition to drive herself, so she decided she'd just let him drop her off at home. She settled back into the seat, and in a few minutes, she was asleep again.
Jack looked over at her as he drove. He made a quick decision, and instead of taking her home, he decided that he'd take her to his house.
She woke just as they were turning into his driveway. "Sir, this is your house."
"Thanks for the info, Carter," he said sarcastically. "I don't trust you to take care of yourself so I brought you here."
"That's not necessary, sir. I promise I'll take care of myself." Sam tried to persuade him to take her home.
"Too late, Carter. I've seen how you take care of yourself. You're not gonna be any good to anybody if you keep this up." He got out of the car and walked around to her side to open the door. "Let's go, Carter."
"Yes, sir," she said, resigned.
Jack took her by the arm and guided her unsteady steps onto the porch and into the house. He directed her to the sofa and sat her down. "Don't move from that spot, Carter, until I tell you you can move." He went down the hallway toward the bedrooms. He was back a few minutes later.
"Okay, come on, Carter." Jack reached down and took her hand, pulling her up to her feet. The momentum propelled her forward into his chest. "Whoa, Carter, steady there." He grabbed her by the arms and steadied her.
"Sorry, sir," she apologized. "I'm just so tired."
"It's all right, Carter." Turning her around, he guided her down the hall, into his bedroom, and into the en suite bathroom where the shower was running. "I want you to take a shower, then put on those clothes over there," he pointed to a sweatshirt and sweatpants that were neatly folded on the vanity top, "then come into the kitchen." She opened her mouth to protest, and he cut her off. "That's an order, Major." He then turned and left the bathroom, closing the door after him.
With an effort she stripped off her clothes and climbed into the shower. The warm water felt wonderful. She soaped up her skin, and shampooed her hair. After rinsing, she just stood under the water for a few minutes. Then she turned off the water. Getting out of the shower, she dried off with the soft fluffy towel, and put on the clothes that the Colonel had left for her. Then she went into the kitchen. Colonel O'Neill was on the phone.
"I'll call you back, later." He hung up the phone. "Carter," he acknowledged. "Sit down." He gestured toward the table which was set for two, and she did so. "This isn't much, but at least it's hot." He put a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich in front of her. "I remember you saying once that you liked this."
"Yes, sir, my mother made this for me." Sam smiled. "It was her version of comfort food."
"Well, eat up." Under his approving eye, she ate the bowl of soup and most of the grilled cheese sandwich. Then he made her go into the living room and sit on the sofa while he cleaned up.
When he came into the living room a few minutes later, he found Sam asleep on the sofa. Taking the afghan from the back of the sofa, he covered her with it, then he sat down in the armchair and watched her sleep.
'Damn it, Sam,' he thought 'why did you let yourself get into this state?' The doorbell rang. When he answered it, it was his girlfriend, Andrea Carpenter.
"Jack, I decided not to wait for you to call me," she said. She was carrying a small overnight bag. "You don't mind if I spend the night, do you?" She smiled seductively.
"Uh, Andrea, I have company right now." Jack indicated the sleeping Sam on the sofa.
"Oh." The smile dropped from Andrea's face. "What is she doing here?" Andrea was not pleased to see Sam Carter asleep on Jack's sofa.
"She's just about worked herself into the ground, so I brought her here. I don't trust her to take care of herself." Jack explained.
"Jack, she's a big girl, old enough to take care of herself, or to decide not to take of herself." Andrea tossed a lock of her long blonde hair behind her shoulder. "It's not your responsibility."
"She's my teammate, I'm her commanding officer, so that makes her my responsibility." Jack sighed. He could see this going round and round. "I know you don't understand my feelings, but that's just the way it is. If you can't accept that, then maybe we shouldn't see each other anymore."
"I really don't think that's necessary, Jack," Andrea hurried to say. "It's just that I want you to myself when you have time off." She smiled sweetly. "That's all it is, Jack." She leaned over and kissed him slowly on the lips. "Do you want me to stay the night?"
Jack looked back over his shoulder at Sam lying there asleep on the sofa. "No, I don't think that's a good idea." Jack kissed Andrea. "Tell you what, why don't you just spend the night after the cookout Saturday night."
"Okay," Andrea said, smiling. "I'll do that." She trailed her hand down Jack's chest. "If you want to wait that long . . ."
"I think that's for the best," Jack said. "Come on, I'll walk you to your car." He walked Andrea out to her Lexus. "Good night," he said, kissing her.
"Good night, Jack." Andrea returned his kiss, got into her car, and drove away.
Jack stood there for a minute and watched as Andrea's car faded from view. He often wondered why a rich, beautiful, polished woman like her was interested in him. Andrea always looked like she just walked out of the beauty shop. He walked back into the house.
He returned to the chair where he'd been sitting when Andrea had shown up. Looking at Sam, he almost involuntarily compared the two women. Andrea never went anywhere without her make-up on, Sam rarely wore make-up. Andrea's hair was always perfect, Sam's was mussed more often than not. He couldn't imagine Andrea working herself so hard that she ended up almost collapsing from fatigue. There had never been two women who were more unlike each other. Jack was lost in thought when the doorbell rang again.
'Andrea,' he thought. He opened the door. It wasn't Andrea. It was Daniel.
"Hi, Jack," Daniel said. "I came over to see if Sam was here. General Hammond told me that you'd taken her home, but when I called her apartment, there was no answer. I figured she might be here."
"Come on in, Daniel," Jack invited. "Carter's here. She conked out after dinner." Jack indicated the sofa.
Daniel walked in and Jack closed the door. "Is she okay?"
"Yeah, just tired. Why the hell has she been working so damned hard?" Jack questioned Daniel. "She hadn't been off the base in nearly a week."
"You gave her an assignment, and she didn't want to disappoint you." Daniel stated this matter-of-factly.
"What?" Jack exclaimed.
"Yes," Daniel said. "You expect Sam to be some sort of miracle worker, 'fixing' everything, making it work, saving the world on a regular basis." Daniel shrugged his shoulders. "And she wants your admiration and respect, so she tries to do it."
"I've never demanded anything like that of her." Jack still couldn't understand it.
"Jack, you remember when Sam rewrote the laws of physics and built the particle beam generator to bring you back from Edora?" Daniel asked.
"Yeah, so?" Jack crossed his arms in front of him. "What does that have to do with this?"
"Did it ever occur to you that Sam did that because she loves you?" Daniel looked Jack in the eye.
Jack looked taken aback. "What?" Jack looked confused.
"Yes, Jack, she loves you." Daniel looked at Jack pityingly. "She'd do almost anything for you."
Jack looked over at Sam who still sleeping the sleep of total exhaustion. "I had no idea." He looked stunned.
"Well, she does." Daniel looked over at Sam. "Please don't hurt her, Jack. Don't let her think you have feelings for her that you don't. She doesn't deserve to be hurt like that."
"I wouldn't hurt her, Daniel. I care for her. She's a good friend." Jack looked at Sam.
Daniel nodded. "I know that you're seeing someone, Jack. Sam does, too. She's realistic about what your relationship is, I think. But emotions can run rampant, and I don't want her thinking there could be more than friendship between the two of you."
"I understand, Daniel," Jack said.
"Good." Daniel turned to go, then he turned back. "Don't let on to her that you know, she'd be humiliated if she knew that you knew."
"Don't worry, Daniel, I won't." Jack opened the door for Daniel to leave.
"Okay. Bye, Jack." Daniel walked out the door.
"Bye, Daniel." Jack closed the door.
Jack walked into the guest room and turned down the bed. Then he went to the living room to get Sam up to put her to bed. She looked so peaceful lying there, he decided not to wake her up. Lifting her up in his arms, he carried her to the guest room and put her in the bed. He pulled the covers up around her shoulders, then he brushed her hair back from her forehead.
"Good night, Sam," he whispered. He left the room, closing the door behind him.
The next morning when Sam woke up, she didn't know where she was at first. Then she remembered that the Colonel had brought her home with him the night before. She looked around the bedroom where she had slept. She didn't remember coming to bed. Getting up, she left the bedroom, and went into the bathroom in the hall. After using the facilities, she washed her hands and face, grimacing at her reflection in the mirror.
"I look like hell." She shrugged her shoulders. "Well, he's seen me looking worse, besides, he doesn't care." Sam left the bathroom and headed for the kitchen. When she walked into the kitchen, the Colonel was at the stove cooking breakfast.
"Good morning, sir," she said.
"Good morning, Carter." He turned around from the stove to greet her. "You look rested."
"Yes, sir." Sam ran her hand through her hair. "I feel better, sir."
"Sit down, we'll have breakfast, then I'll run you home." Jack dished up pancakes and set the platter on the table. "Dig in."
Sam took two and poured syrup on them. She took a bite, then looked at him in surprise. "These are very good, sir."
Jack noted her look of surprise. "Thanks, Major," he said.
They ate the rest of their breakfast in silence, then Jack took her home. He insisted on walking her to the door of her apartment. She was much better than she'd been the night before, but he wanted to make sure she got there safely. When she opened the door to step in, Jack went in with her.
"Carter, I want you to take it easy today. Hammond said you didn't have to come back in until tomorrow." He wanted to make sure she understood that.
"When did the general say that?" She wanted to know.
"He said it when I called him this morning and told him you needed some time off. You have twenty-four hours. Use it to get some rest. That's an order," he added. "I'll see you tomorrow, major. Since you don't have your car, I'll pick you up at 0700 and take you to the base."
"Yes, sir," she said. "Good bye."
"Good bye, major." He walked out and closed the door behind himself.
Sam sighed and looked around her apartment. Then, spying her computer, she smiled. She might not be able to go to the base to work, but that didn't mean she couldn't work right here. She went right to her computer and booted it up. If Sam couldn't go to the mountain, then the mountain would come to Sam.
The next morning at 0700 exactly, Jack rang Sam's doorbell. When she answered, she looked her normal self. 'Good,' Jack thought to himself.
"Ready?" he said aloud. He was used to women taking forever to get ready. Sara had been chronically late, and Andrea was also.
"Yes, sir," Sam said. She picked up a CD case, her purse, and a jacket. "Let's go." Walking out into the hallway, she turned and inserted her key into her door, locking it.
"I can't believe it," he said as they walked across the parking lot to his car. "A woman who's on time for once."
"What do you mean by that?" she asked.
"It's just that, most of the women I've known in my life are chronically late. Never on time for anything." He shrugged his shoulders. "I've never met one who actually was ready on time."
"Well, maybe you've been meeting the wrong women," Sam said jokingly.
"Maybe," Jack said. He unlocked the passenger door and opened it for Sam. Then he went around to the driver's side and got in. "Fasten your seatbelt."
They rode to the base in near silence.
Once she was back in her lab, Sam took the CD's she'd burned the day before and downloaded the data into her SGC mainframe. When the information popped up on the screen, she integrated the formulas she'd worked on the day before into her data on the phase generator. Bingo! There was the information she'd been looking for. She was so excited that she squealed with delight.
"All right!" she whooped and danced around the room.
Jack O'Neill, who had been headed for Daniel's office, heard her cry out and rushed to the lab.
"Carter, are you all right?" he asked with concern as he saw her wild dancing.
She turned and saw him. She flew across the room and threw her arms around him. "Yes, sir, never better."
His arms involuntarily went around her. "Uh, Carter, uh...," he said.
Sam realized what she was doing and immediately dropped her arms. "I'm sorry, sir," she apologized still wearing a grin. "I've done it!" She grabbed his hand and pulled him over to her computer. "There it is!"
"And this is...?" he asked.
"The reverse engineering specs for the phase generator." She looked at him proudly.
"The reverse engineering specs for the phase generator?" He looked her in amazement. Then he whooped and grabbed her, hugging her and swinging her around. "You did it! I knew you could!" They were both laughing and hugging.
"Um hm," a throat cleared behind them. Turning they saw General Hammond standing in the doorway of the lab. "Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, I hope I'm not interrupting something."
Sam and Jack stood there with their arms wrapped around each other. "No, sir," Jack said. "Sam just completed the reverse engineering of the phase generator." He hugged her one more time then let her go.
"That's wonderful news, Major Carter." General Hammond entered the lab. "Let's see what you've got." Sam showed him what she had, and explained to him the process she had gone through to get the final results. "Well, major, you've succeeded beyond our wildest hopes."
"Not mine, sir," Jack said. "I knew she could do it." Jack grinned at Sam and she smiled back.
Although he was pleased that Sam had managed to do something that others had deemed impossible (yet again!), he felt a little alarm go off as he looked at O'Neill and Carter. There had always been an undercurrent running between the two, but it seemed as of late that it had strengthened, though the two of them seemed oblivious to it. He could only hope that nothing would interfere with the smooth operation of the SGC.
"Well, Colonel, Major, we'll make sure that the R and D folks at the Pentagon get this. This could be a very important technological advance. Well, done Major Carter. Carry one." General Hammond left.
"See you later, Carter." Jack started to head out of the lab. Then he turned in the doorway. "I had no doubts that you could do it, Sam."
"Thank you, sir," she said. "See you later."
"Bye, major." He left.
Saturday, the day of the cook-out at Jack's dawned bright and warm. Sam dressed carefully. She knew that Jack's new girlfriend would be there, and though she knew she couldn't and wouldn't compete, she did want to look nice. She looked through her closet and finally settled on plain khaki shorts and a blue silk sleeveless shirt. Neat and comfortable. She sighed. It didn't really matter what she wore, the guys didn't really see her as a woman anyway. She slipped her feet into sneakers and headed on over to Jack's house.
Pulling up in front of the house, she noticed that Daniel's car was there, along with Janet's and a Lexus that had to belong to Jack's new girlfriend. Sam got out of her car and, squaring her shoulders, she walked around to the back of the house. There were Daniel and Teal'c (wearing a hat, of course) sitting on the ground talking with Cassie. Janet was seated in a lawn chair joining in the conversation from time to time. And there was the Colonel with a female with long blonde hair draped over him. Taking a deep breath Sam walked around the corner and into view.
"Sam!" Cassie cried, jumping up and running to her to throw her arms around Sam. "Hi, I was beginning to think you weren't coming."
"And miss seeing you? Not a chance, kiddo." Sam looked over at the others and smiled. "Hi, guys, what'd I miss?"
"Nothing yet, Carter," Jack replied. "We'll be playing touch football later."
"Is that a threat, sir?" she asked jokingly.
"Hey, my party, my activities." He winked at her.
Andrea was not too pleased to observe this flirtatious by-play between Jack and this female officer of his.
"Jack, I haven't been introduced yet." Andrea pasted a phony smile on her face. "I'm Andrea Carpenter, Jack's girlfriend." Sam noticed the very slight emphasis on the word 'girlfriend.' "You must be Sam."
"Yes," Sam said. "Samantha Carter, Ms. Carpenter." Sam was still standing there with her arm around Cassie who had placed herself between Sam and Andrea almost protectively. Cassie did NOT like Andrea. "It's nice to meet you."
"Yes," Andrea said. "Jack, could you get me another drink? Thanks, darling." Jack went into the house to get Andrea her drink. "Jack's told me so much about you, Sam. He seems to think you are some sort of miracle worker." Andrea smiled insincerely as if to say, on a cold day in hell.
"I appreciate the confidence Colonel O'Neill places in my abilities," Sam said carefully. Jack came out just then and handed Andrea her drink.
"Come on, Sam," Cassie said, pulling her over to sit in the chair beside Janet. "I'll tell you about my entry in the science fair." Cassie knelt down on the grass by Sam's chair. Both Daniel and Teal'c moved closer to Sam, and her friends formed a circle of love and protection around her. None of them liked Jack's girlfriend and they sensed the animosity she felt towards Sam. Daniel got up and got Sam a beer from the cooler. They sat around talking and watched Jack dance attendance on his rich and demanding girlfriend.
When Jack and Andrea went into the house for something, Daniel said, "What a witch! She's been ordering Jack around since she got here, and he jumps to do her bidding."
"I don't like her," Cassie stated. "She's not a nice person. What does Colonel Jack see in her?"
"She's very beautiful," Sam said. "And I'm sure she's nice to the Colonel. It's really none of our business." Sam took a drink of her beer.
"She reminds me of a goa'uld," Teal'c commented.
"I agree," Daniel said. "She has that same type of attitude, like the servitude of others is her due. I agree with Cassie, I don't know what Jack sees in her."
"We really shouldn't talk about her," Janet said. "Jack might decide to marry her, and then we'd have to make nice with her." Janet looked over at Sam. "You haven't really said what you think of her."
"My feelings toward her aren't important, it's how the Colonel feels that's important. And he obviously cares for her." Sam took another drink from her bottle.
"Sam, you are too good." Janet shook her head. "All I can say is, I think we should all watch our backs, because she doesn't like us any better than we like her." At that moment, Jack and Andrea came out of the house, Jack carrying a platter of steaks to be grilled.
"All right, troops, Chef Jack needs to know how you want your steak." Once he found out how everyone wanted their steak cooked, he laid them on the grill. "Damn it, I forgot the barbecue fork."
"I'll go get it, sir," Sam offered. "Is it still in the same place?"
"Yes, Carter. Thanks." Jack went back to watching the steaks cook, adjusting the flame on the gas grill so that they didn't burn.
Sam went into the house to get the fork, and a few seconds later, Andrea came in, too. She stood by the door watching Sam as she rifled through the drawer to find the barbecue tool.
"He's asked me to marry him," Andrea said.
Sam looked at her. "What?" she asked.
"I said, he's asked me to marry him." Andrea looked at her shrewdly. "So, you might as well give up."
"I'm sorry, I don't know what you're talking about." Sam really was confused. She had never even hinted to the Colonel that she had feelings for him.
"I saw you here the other night, pretending to be asleep on the sofa." Andrea smirked at Sam. "Poor Sam, she's so worn out, Jack has to take care of her." Andrea moved in front of the door preventing Sam from leaving the kitchen. "Once Jack and I are married, I'll make sure he has you transferred off his team. He'll do anything I tell him to."
"You have nothing to fear from me, Ms. Carpenter," Sam stated. "Colonel O'Neill and I have a purely professional relationship." Sam handed Andrea the fork. "Give this to him and tell him that I had to leave. Something came up that I had to see to." Sam turned, walked to the front door and let herself out. Taking the keys out of her pocket, she got in her car and drove home.
Andrea smiled, satisfied that the "major" had gotten the message. 'That takes care of that,' she thought. 'Mission accomplished.' She walked out the door into the back yard.
"Where's Sam?" Jack asked when Andrea handed him the fork. "Is she still inside?"
"She said she had to leave. Something came up." Andrea smiled and wrapped both her arms around Jack's arm. "So, how much longer until these delicious steaks are done?"
Daniel and Janet exchanged a look. "I'll go by and see Sam later," Daniel said.
"That's a good idea," Janet responded. "Find out what the black widow over there said to her."
"Don't worry, I will." Daniel looked at Andrea. 'I definitely will,' he thought.
Sam was sitting on the sofa reading when the doorbell rang. When she answered the door, she wasn't surprised to see Daniel and Teal'c standing there. She had been expecting them.
"Hi, guys, come in," she invited. "You want to know why I left the Colonel's."
"Yes, Sam, we do." Daniel said as he and Teal'c came in. "What did that witch say to you to make you leave?"
"How do you know she said anything?" Sam asked.
"She was in there with you, then you leave." Daniel shrugged his shoulders. "It doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure it out."
Sam sighed. She might as well tell the truth. "She told me that she and the Colonel were getting married, and that she would make sure I got transferred to another team. So, I decided to leave."
"Jack didn't mention that they were getting married. That's what she said?" Daniel questioned.
"Oh, yes, she did. She has some idea that I'm 'after' him." Sam shook her head. "I assured her that the Colonel and I have a professional relationship, but she didn't believe me. Daniel, do you think the Colonel would have me transferred because she wants him to?"
"Sam, Jack knows how important you are to the team, and you're our friend. I don't think anything she could say to Jack would persuade him otherwise." Daniel smiled reassuringly. "You're in no danger of being transferred."
"I believe Daniel Jackson is correct, Major Carter," Teal'c said. "O'Neill relies on you and your expertise when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. It is unlikely that he would willingly have you removed from SG-1."
Sam smiled at her friends. "I hope you're right. Ms. Carpenter does not like me in the least. There's no telling what she would do to have me removed from the team."
Monday morning started out like any other at the SGC. Sam came in to work on a few modifications on the plans for the phase generator before sending them on to the Pentagon. She was still thrilled that she'd been able to crack the technology employed to build it. Now it was up to the research and development engineers to make practical applications using her blueprints. She'd been working in her lab for about two hours when General Hammond called her to his office.
She knocked on the door and entered. "You sent for me, sir?" she said.
"Yes, Major Carter, please close the door and sit down." General Hammond cleared this throat. "This is a little uncomfortable for me to talk about, but it is a subject of great concern to me."
"Yes, sir?" Sam had no idea what the general was trying to say.
"I'll be blunt. Major Carter, there has been a report that you have been stalking and harassing Colonel O'Neill's girlfriend. Is there any truth to this report?" General Hammond asked.
Sam was shocked. "No, sir," she said. "None at all. I've only met Ms. Carpenter once, last Saturday, at Colonel O'Neill's house. The team and Dr. Frasier and Cassie were invited there for a cookout."
"So you are telling me that it's absolutely untrue?" he asked again.
"Yes, sir," she confirmed vehemently. "There is absolutely NO truth to that report."
"I believe you, Sam," he said, "but I need to tell you that this report came from Ms. Carpenter herself."
"What!" Sam shot up out of her seat. "Sir, I have never stalked or harassed anyone in my life. I know what it's like, and I'd never even do that to my worst enemy."
"Do you have any idea why she would make such a report?" General Hammond questioned.
Sam looked down, feeling very uncomfortable. She was unsure what to say, so she decided that the truth was the best option. "Ms. Carpenter has some crazy idea that I am 'after' the Colonel."
"Where would she get an idea like that, Major?" he asked.
"I don't know, sir. As I said, I've only met her once." Sam didn't mention that Ms. Carpenter had obviously seen her sleeping on the Colonel's sofa. "Perhaps you should ask Colonel O'Neill or Ms. Carpenter."
There was a knock at the door, then it opened and Jack O'Neill put his head in the door. "You wanted to see me, sir? Hi, Carter." Jack looked at both of them curiously. "Have I interrupted something important?" he asked.
"No, Colonel," the general answered. "Major Carter and I had finished. Come on in." Jack opened the door wider and walked through. "Thank you, Major, I'll check what you said out. You're dismissed." The general nodded to her, then turned his attention back to O'Neill. "Sit down, Jack."
Sam left the general's office and closed the door behind her. She had done nothing wrong, and she wasn't concerned about Andrea Carpenter's accusations. The woman was obviously unhinged.
"Well, General, what can I do for you?" Jack asked.
"Have a seat, Jack. I need to talk to you about an accusation that's been made against Major Carter," he said.
"An accusation against Carter?" In Jack's eyes, Carter was damn near perfect, an accusation against her was as unlikely as the sky turning green and raining tulips.
"Yes, Jack, she's been accused of stalking and harassment." General Hammond looked at Jack closely. "Do you know anything about that?"
"No, sir." Jack was stunned. "Sam would never do anything like that to anyone, not even her worst enemy. She's the type of person who confronts a situation head on. She wouldn't resort to doing something like that."
"Are you sure, Colonel?" Hammond had to be sure that Jack believed that Major Carter was innocent of the accusation.
"Yes, sir, I'd stake my life on it. Sam Carter would never stalk or harass anyone." Jack was definite about that.
"Jack, this accusation was made by a Ms. Andrea Carpenter. She says that Major Carter has been stalking and harassing her for over a month now." General Hammond watched Jack carefully.
"Sir, I can't believe that Major Carter would do something like that. It's not in her nature." Jack shook his head. "I can't believe it."
"Is is possible that Ms. Carpenter could have fabricated this accusation?"
"No, sir, she'd have no reason to do so. Major Carter and I are friends and colleagues, that's all," Jack answered. "Why would Carter do something like that?"
"Like what?" Hammond asked.
"Stalk and harass Andrea, it's not like her. She's been under a lot of stress lately, I suppose that could cause her to snap." Jack was trying to reason out why Sam would do such a thing.
"So you think there is some foundation to this accusation?"
"Well, sir, Ms. Carpenter has no reason to lie about something like that. What's going to happen now?" Jack wanted to know.
"There'll have to be an investigation. Major Carter will be confined to quarters until such time as she is either cleared or found liable." General Hammond hated to do this to one of his best officers, especially since he thought she was innocent of the charges. He'd known Sam Carter for a long time, and she had too much integrity to do something like this.
"Well, all she'd need was counseling, right?" Jack asked.
"No, Colonel, she would be permanently relieved of duty, court-martialed, stripped of rank, and imprisoned," Hammond answered.
"Oh," Jack said. "Even if she's mentally incompetent?"
"Do you honestly believe that Major Carter is mentally incompetent?"
"No. I don't," Jack said.
After Jack left his office, General Hammond called the military investigations unit attached to the SGC and instructed them to check all telephone records for Major Samantha Carter both on base and at home. Then he told them to check all telephone records for Ms. Andrea Carpenter. He was determined to find out once and for all the truth.
Jack immediately set out for Sam's lab. She was there, organizing her notes for whoever was going to take her place. He stood in the doorway watching her. She had tears streaming down her face.
"Major Carter," he said. "I need to talk to you."
"Colonel, I don't understand. I've never done anything to warrant this. I'd never stalk or harass anyone, never!" she exclaimed vehemently, making a slashing movement with her hand. "Why is she making this accusation?"
"Sam, I know that you've been under a lot of stress lately. You could be having some kind of black out or mental block-" Jack was cut off in mid-sentence.
"You think I did it." Sam was stunned. "You actually think that I could do something as low and despicable as that."
"Sam, I know that you're not the kind of person who would do something like this, not when you're in your right mind." Jack tried to explain why he believed the charges. "Besides, Daniel told me how you feel about me."
"He what?" she asked, furious. "He told you how I 'feel' about you? Colonel O'Neill, let me tell you right now how I feel about you. I hate you right at this moment for doubting me and for believing a false accusation. I will never forgive you for this. When I am cleared, that 's right, when, I will be requesting a transfer from SG-1, hell, from the SGC. I never want to see you again." With that Sam fled the lab and ran straight to her quarters.
Jack was stunned. Sam had never talked to him like that before. Maybe she wasn't guilty. But then that meant that Andrea was lying. But she had no reason to lie. He was confused, and decided to wait until the investigation was over before making up his mind about the two women. And as for Sam's threat to leave SG-1 and the SGC, he would cross that bridge when he came to it.
One week later . . .
"Major Carter, I have received the report of the investigators. You have been completely cleared of all the charges." The general was very happy to be able to give Sam this news. He knew that this last week had been a long one for her. "You are hereby returned to active duty. You do know that you can proffer charges against Ms. Carpenter for making a false accusation."
"Thank you, sir. I appreciate you letting me know. I really don't want to press charges against Ms. Carpenter. I'm just glad that it's over." Sam smiled for the first time in a week.
"You're dismissed, Major. It's good to have you back." General Hammond watched as Sam left his office. Then he picked up his phone and requested the presence of another officer. This meeting was one he was not looking forward to.
Jack knocked on the door of the general's office and entered at his summons.
"Sit down, Jack. I have something important to tell you regarding the investigation into the stalking and harassment charges brought by Ms. Carpenter." The general steepled his fingers under his chin.
"Yes, sir, I figured that was why you called me in," Jack said.
"The investigation has found that there is no evidence against Major Carter. Her phone records, both here, at home, and for her cell phone show no evidence of her ever having called Ms. Carpenter. And you know that with her schedule here on the base that she would have no time to stalk anyone. She is completely innocent of the charges. The only reason I'm not bringing charges again Ms. Carpenter for falsely accusing Major Carter is because she told me she didn't want to. She just wants to forget this whole episode." General Hammond saw pain in Jack's eyes. "You may want to apologize to Major Carter for doubting her."
Jack smiled at him weakly. "I really doubt she'll listen to me. Permission to leave, sir?"
"Permission granted." Jack quickly got up and left the general's office. He headed straight for the lab where he knew Sam would be returning to work.
When he reached the door, he stopped and looked at her as she sorted through the paperwork on her worktable. She looked so happy and beautiful standing there amidst her 'doohickeys.' He regretted doubting her. He had known even before Hammond had told him that Andrea had falsely accused Sam. He was seeing her tonight to break off their relationship. She had some serious problems, her jealousy of Sam being one of them. Sam had never deliberately hurt anyone in her life, she hadn't deserved what Andrea had done to her. Even a false accusation on her military record could seriously harm her career. He squared his shoulders and knocked on the door.
"Sam," he said.
She turned at the sound of her name. "Colonel O'Neill," she said coldly. "May I help you?"
"I just wanted to let you know-" Sam cut him off.
"There's nothing you can tell me that I need to know, sir. I know that I said that I would request a transfer from SG-1, but I've reconsidered. I plan to stay on SG-1." She turned from him to resumed her work.
"I'm glad of that, Sam, but that's not what I wanted to talk about," Jack said.
"I'm sorry, sir, but I really need to finish this right now. I was away from the lab for a week, and everything is behind." Sam wouldn't look at him.
"Okay, Sam," he said, "I'll let this go for now. But we do have to talk."
Sam made no reply. He gave up and left her alone with her work.
Jack went home later that evening. Andrea was supposed to come over to see him. He knew it was time to end their relationship. She wouldn't be happy about it, but he couldn't continue to see someone who would accuse someone like Sam of doing something so despicable. He felt ashamed of himself, too, for even harboring doubts about her.
The doorbell rang and he answered it. It was Andrea.
"Andrea, come in," he said holding wide the door.
She entered the house and immediately put her arms around Jack's neck. "Hi, sweetheart," she purred. "Aren't you glad to see me?"
Jack pulled Andrea's arms from around his neck. "We need to talk." He indicated the sofa. "Please sit down."
"My goodness, this sounds serious," she said. 'Maybe he's going to ask me to marry him,' she thought. She smiled seductively. "Of course, darling. I'd do anything for you, you know that." She sat down.
"Yes, you would, wouldn't you, Andrea," he said. "Even make a false accusation against an innocent woman, a woman who wouldn't even press charges against you for making that accusation."
Andrea's eyes widened. "What?" she sputtered. "She's lying, she did stalk and harass me. She did, I tell you," she shrieked. "It's all lies, all of it. They're covering things up."
"Who's covering things up, Andrea? You? I know it isn't anyone else." Jack stood looking at her. "It's over between us, what there is at any rate. I'd appreciate it if you stayed away from me and my friends. Now, please leave."
Andrea stood and flounced to the door. "You'll be sorry, Jack. You'll be sorry you said those things to me, and you'll be sorry you broke up with me." She opened the door and stormed out, slamming it behind her. A minute later, he heard the screech of tires as she peeled out.
"Well," he said to himself, "as my grandma would say, 'Good riddance to bad rubbish.'"
Three days later . . .
Sam decided to stop by the grocery store on her way home from work. She was out of just about everything, and since her enforced stay on base, she had been going home at night more. She went in the store, made her purchases, and went back to her car to put them in. She had just finished loading her trunk and had shut the lid, when something hit her from behind. Everything went black.
When Sam came to, she was bound, gagged, and blindfolded. 'Oh, my God,' she thought. 'What's happened, who did this to me?'
She didn't have to wait long for the answer. The blindfold was ripped off, and she could see who her captor was.
"Well, hello Major Carter, fancy seeing you here?" Andrea Carpenter smirked. "Welcome to my little hideaway. I'm sure you're going to enjoy your stay here, since you're never going to leave it. Alive at any rate."
"Daniel, have you seen Carter?" Jack asked.
"No, Jack," Daniel answered. "Not since last night just before she went home. Why?"
"She hasn't reported in for duty yet. Hell, she's late, there's no answer at her apartment, and she's not even answering her cell phone." Jack was worried.
"That's not like Sam," Daniel said. Just then, SG-1 was paged to go the general's office.
When they went into Hammond's office, they noticed the worried look on his face. They also noticed the fact that Sam was not there.
"Gentlemen, I have some disturbing news." General Hammond looked at each man in turn. "Major Carter's car was found in the parking lot of a grocery store. Her groceries were in the car, her keys were still in the trunk lock. She's missing."
To say the three men were in shock would be an understatement. Even Teal'c, stoic Teal'c, was stunned.
"What happened?" Daniel finally managed to ask.
"They're not certain, but they feel sure she was kidnapped," General Hammond said. "There were no witnesses at the time. They asked me if she had any enemies."
Jack looked haunted. "Andrea got her."
"That's what I told the police probably happened," the general said. "They're looking for Ms. Carpenter right now."
"She's got to be totally unhinged if she thinks she can get away with this," Jack said.
"There's something else the police need to know," Daniel added. "Sam got some death threats the past couple of days. She made me swear not to tell anyone."
"Dammit, Daniel, you shouldn't have kept something like that secret! We could have prevented this from happening!" Jack exclaimed.
"Now is not the time for recriminations, O'Neill, now we must locate Major Carter," Teal'c said, the strong voice of reason. "Have the police shared any of their information with you, General Hammond?"
"They said that Ms. Carpenter owns a cabin not far from Cheyenne Mountain on land adjacent to the military reservation," General Hammond informed them. "They haven't seen anyone go in or out, and there's no car there. It appears to be deserted."
"Deserted?" Jack said. "General, wasn't there a report of a helicopter flying very near the base's air space last night?"
"Yes, there was," he answered.
"She got there by helicopter," Daniel said. "And I'm sure Sam's there, too."
"There's no telling what she's done to Sam," Jack said, frantic on the inside, but forcing himself to appear calm. "We have to get over there ASAP."
"Then go ahead, Colonel. I hope you get there in time." General Hammond sent them on their way.
Daniel and Jack hurried to Jack's car and sped to the cabin. They parked away from the cabin, out of view of anyone who might be there.
"Daniel, I'm going to go to the front door. I'll distract her. You go in through the back, break a window if you have to. Just get to Sam." Jack and Daniel separated, Jack heading to the front door of the house, and Daniel heading to the back.
Jack knocked ont he front door. There was no answer. "Andrea, I know you're in there. We need to talk. Please open the door." Jack waited, then he heard a sound and the door opened. Andrea stood there holding a 9 mm gun in her hand.
"Well, Jack, hello." Andrea smiled sweetly. "Come in. I have another guest, too, as you can see. I believe you know Major Carter." She walked back over to stand beside Sam, who was tied up in a chair and gagged. Andrea held the gun to her head. "You're just in time to see your little girlfriend die." She giggled. "You know, it was almost funny, the way you pretended that there was nothing between you two. 'It's against the regulations.' What a laugh! You used me to hide your relationship with her." She gestured wildly with the gun. "Well, I'm going to get rid of the competition. Once she's dead, you'll want only me."
"Andrea, there's no need for Major Carter to be hurt. Besides, if you kill her, you'll end up locked away for the rest of your life, and we won't be together." Jack tried to reason with her, but he was afraid that she was too far gone to be reasonable. He looked at Sam and saw the fear and pleading in her eyes. "Just let her go, and everything will be all right."
"No way, Jack." Andrea shook her finger at him. "No tricks. She's got to die. That's all there is to it." She pointed the gun at Sam's head. "She dying right now." Jack watched as her finger tightened on the trigger, then suddenly a figure loomed up behind Andrea and struck her from behind. She collapsed, unconscious.
"Daniel, it's about time. Call 911." Jack rushed to Sam's side and removed the gag from her mouth. "Sam, are you all right?" He hurriedly untied her from the chair and took her into his arms. "It's all right," he comforted as she started crying from the reaction to being almost shot in the head by a mad woman. "She can't hurt you now."
"I'm sorry, sir," she said, her face buried in his chest. "She was completely crazy. She kept talking about how it was her you were supposed to love, not me. I was gagged the whole time so I couldn't tell her that you didn't love me." Sam lifted her head and looked into his eyes.
"We'll talk about this later, Sam," Jack said. "Come on." They walked out of the house just as the police drove up. Jack directed them inside the cabin, where Daniel was watching over Andrea.
The detective in charge of the investigation came up to them. "Colonel O'Neill, we'll need your and Major Carter's statements. Could you come down to the station now?" At that moment, Andrea was led out of the house wearing handcuffs. "She'll probably be put away for psychiatric treatment again."
"Again?" Jack asked. "She's done this before?"
"Oh, yeah," the detective answered. "Several times, as a matter of fact." After agreeing that Sam, Jack, and Daniel would meet him at the police station, the detective left. The three of them drove to the police station where they spent the next few hours giving their statements. Then Jack took Sam and Daniel home with him.
"Well, I really know how to pick 'em don't I, Daniel?" Jack asked later.
"Yes, you do, Jack. Especially when you're trying to hide from your feelings." Daniel took a drink of his beer. He was gradually acquiring a taste for it. He still couldn't hold his alcohol worth beans, though. His face was already quite numb. "You need to admit your feelings to yourself. You, too, Sam," he said to the woman sprawled on her back on the carpet in front of the sofa.
"I know what my feelings are," Sam said, her voice only a little slurred. Her face was only a little numb. "I'm mad at Jack here- oops, 'scuse me- Colonel O'Neill here. He thought that I was the nutcase, when it was his girlfriend, Amber." Sam rolled over onto her stomach and downed the rest of her fifth beer.
Jack slid down off the couch onto the floor beside Sam. "I said I'm sorry, Sam, I really am. Besides, I didn't know Amber-uh, Andrea- was a nutcase. She had me fooled." He slid down until he was face to face with her. "Please forgive me, Sam. I'm an idiot, I know it." Slightly glassy brown eyes stared into slightly glassy blue eyes.
"I'll think about it, Jack-I mean, sir," Sam said solemnly. "You believed some awful things about me." She pushed herself up and stood. "I think I'll go to bed now." She turned and carefully walked to the bedroom she'd stayed in before. "Good night, Jack-uh, Colonel, and Daniel."
"She'll forgive you eventually, Jack," Daniel told him sleepily. "She always does."
"I hope- what do you mean, she always does? What have I done that needs forgiveness, Daniel? Daniel?" Jack looked at Daniel who was now asleep on the sofa. He got up and lifted Daniel's legs onto the sofa and covered him with a blanket.
"Good night, Danny boy," he said. Jack turned out the lights and headed toward bed. As he passed the door to Sam's room, he paused, then went in. He walked over and looked at her sleeping peacefully. "I hope you can forgive me, Sam," he whispered. He turned and walked back to the door. Just as he was about to leave the room he heard a whisper.
"I do, Jack, I do."