It's Good to be General

By Diane


EMAIL: dianekateri@beneath-the-surface.net

RATING: Suitable for all

SEASON: Eight

SPOILERS: It's Good to be King

CLASSIFICATIONS: S/J, episode addition, character thoughts

SUMMARY: An episode addition to 'It's Good to be King'. Jack finally accepts just how much he has missed going off-world.

ARCHIVE: SJD, Heliopolis, anyone else please ask.

DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 is a registered trademark of MGM, Gekko and Double Secret Productions. No copyright infringement intended.

FEEDBACK: Very welcome.

**********

Harry Maybourne, king. And husband to... how many wives? Jack shook his head at the irony of the situation, and left his old nemesis to wander across the grass to the stargate.

He remembered thinking Sam must have taken a serious blow to the head when she'd informed him of SG-1's circumstances, not to mention Harry's exalted status in the primitive community. And even seeing 'King Arkhan the First' in the flesh, surrounded by his loyal subjects, hadn't reassured him. In fact, it only made him wonder if he'd somehow, and inexplicably, suffered the same fate she had.

If someone had come to him and prophesised this future for the former colonel and N.I.D operative, Jack would have told them they'd be more likely to see him sitting down for a game of poker and a few bottles of beer with every system lord in the entire galaxy.

Grimacing, as the thought alone made Jack queasy, he banished the idea to the deepest and darkest recesses of his mind.

Now at the 'gate, his gaze, as it so often did, sought out Carter, and he watched her step through, right on the heels of Daniel and Teal'c. He climbed the stone steps, almost ready to follow them, but paused before taking that final step.

He turned instead to see the people and the planet he was about to leave behind, and with a twinge of regret, briefly wondered when he'd next get the chance to go off-world. But when his gaze landed on the one and only Harry Maybourne, and he received a smile and a mock salute in return, Jack shook off the thoughts and returned the farewell with a small smile of his own.

With one last look at the alien world and a wave of the bright, yellow flowers, he stepped into the wormhole.

*****

"Sanity," Jack called from the top of the ramp, pushing aside the uneasy feeling that came over him as the 'gate closed behind him. He stretched his arms out and waved them about to encompass the gate room. "Now this is what I call normal."

Dropping his arms to his sides, he stared at the flowers he realised he'd shaken just a little too vigorously. Acutely aware all eyes were upon him, Jack cleared his throat and began the short walk to the base of the ramp where Sam, Daniel and Teal'c had congregated.

"Yes, well," Daniel began, "hearing Harry Maybourne has been made king does require a certain... leap outside the realm of probability." He looked around the gateroom as everyone returned to their individual tasks. "The news must have spread through the base like wild fire."

"Somehow, I don't think many people here see him as king material," Jack supplied, somewhat sarcastically, as he removed the cap from his head and ran a hand through his hair.

"I would agree," Teal'c said, "yet he does appear to have the faith and trust of those that he leads. And," he hesitated briefly, obviously surprised himself, "from what I saw and heard, he has made many contributions that have greatly benefited the community."

They all fell silent, unable to dispute Teal'c's words, but at the same time, hardly believing it was true.

Sam shrugged. "I guess stranger things have happened?" It was more a question than a statement.

Jack turned and looked at her. "Well I'd say this is way up there with all the strange things we've seen. King Harry, who'd have thought?"

"Well I need to go and get started on my notes," Daniel said. "It's a shame I didn't have more time to study the temple ruins and the writing on its walls." He muttered to himself as he made his way out of the gateroom, taking a book he'd already retrieved from his bag and the rest of his belongings with him.

With a smile and a nod towards Sam and Jack, Teal'c followed closely behind.

"You think that was a hint, Carter?" Jack asked, turning back to her, surprising himself when he realised even he wouldn't mind a run of the mill archaeological mission.

Just the odd one, now and again. A chance to get off-world and stretch his legs.

But he knew that wasn't likely to happen soon, if ever again.

The thought was enough to bring him back to reality and finally realise that Carter was looking at him expectantly, obviously waiting for a reply to something she'd said.

"Ah, say again?" he asked, hoping she wouldn't think too much about his brief lapse in concentration.

"I was saying," Sam repeated, with what he noted was a curious look, "I'm sure he won't hesitate to let you know when he wants to go back."

"Yeah, I'm sure," he grunted, the pained expression on his face obvious as he played out the scene in his mind. But he silently delighted in the grin Sam sent his way. Thinking it wise to take himself off to his office now, Jack tossed back a smile of his own as he moved around her, but stopped when he remembered something.

"Oh, almost forgot." Very self-conscious, but also very determined, he held out his hand, offering the small handful of flowers to Sam. He did his best to ignore the many pairs of eyes he was sure were glued to him and decided it was worth it when Sam accepted them, a hint of pink staining her cheeks and the grin from moments ago stretching into a full-blown smile.

Jack gave himself a few moments to appreciate the view before he dragged his eyes away.

"Well, back to the old ball and chain." His smile wavered a notch as he nodded upwards, towards his office, before turning and leaving the gateroom.

He missed the smile on Sam's face falter to be replaced instead with a look of concern.

*****

Jack shuffled the papers he'd just finished reading then placed them back in their folder. With a feeling of satisfaction, he added it to the stack piled high on his desk then promptly moved on to the next report that required his attention.

He'd just opened it and started to read when the soft knock on the door interrupted him. "Come in," he called, without looking up.

"Sir?"

On hearing Carter's voice, Jack immediately looked up, forgetting the report in front of him, and gave her his complete attention.

"Hey, thought you'd already left?" he questioned, surprised but delighted to see her.

Sam shook her head as she entered. "Daniel had some questions about P3X-461. It went on a little longer than expected."

"Ah, that explains it." Jack dropped his pen on the desk, leaned back in his chair, and offered Sam the seat opposite him.

"Explains what?" Sam asked, taking the seat.

"Why I haven't had a little visit from him, desperate to tell me why it's so imperative he gets back to his ruins right away."

Sam smirked. Obviously she knew something he didn't. "I don't think it'll be too long before he gets around to it, sir."

Jack made a soundless 'ah', understanding exactly what she was trying to tell him.

"So what can I do for you?" He leaned forward again, placed his arms on the desk and clasped his hands together.

"Well, Teal'c, Daniel and myself are going out for something to eat." She paused before adding, "Care to join us?"

Jack looked from what he told himself was not a hopeful look on Carter's face to the report he'd just started to read. His gaze then wandered to the two piles of folders on his desk, one almost completely full and the other nearly empty.

With an inward sigh, but a promise that he'd treat himself later, Jack regretfully looked up at his former second-in-command.

"Thanks, but there's a few things I still need to see to before I leave. My little side trip to visit 'King Harry' put me behind a little." Jack watched Sam closely, and again told himself there wasn't any reaction he'd be interested in when she nodded her understanding.

But he was sure he saw her hesitate before she rose from the chair. He was certain there was something other than dinner on her mind.

"See you tomorrow, sir?"

"Tomorrow, Carter." He continued to watch her as she moved to the doorway, his instincts confirmed when she stopped short and turned back to him.

"Sir..."

Jack raised his eyebrows in question, but remained silent.

"Nothing," she smiled. "Goodnight, sir."

She was gone before he could reply, the goodnight on his lips left unspoken.

He stared at the spot she had occupied only moments earlier and wondered what was on her mind. But he came up blank. He couldn't think of anything that had happened recently that would so obviously keep her preoccupied.

Doing his best to gather his thoughts, Jack looked back to the open report on his desk. He skimmed over the words before going back to the beginning, and began to re-read what he'd started before Sam had knocked on his door.

But a few minutes later, realising he'd read the same paragraph at least four times, Jack dropped the pen and briefly allowed his eyes to close. He'd take a short break, he decided, and come back to it with a clear mind.

He'd earned it anyway. He was two reports away from bringing himself bang up-to-date with all his work, even after finding a stack of whole new files on his desk after his unexpected trip earlier that day.

With a quick glance to where Sam had been sitting a short time ago, Jack pushed the chair away from the desk, stood, and wandered out his office towards the long window that overlooked the 'gate room.

Standing in near darkness, the only light shining from his office and the 'gate room itself, Jack looked down at the stargate, watching as a handful of technicians went about their work. He realised they must be carrying out the tests Carter had spoken to him about the other day.

Placing his hands in his pockets, Jack willed himself to relax, and finally allowed the heavy sigh he'd been holding in for some time to escape. It dawned on him that this was turning into a bit of a habit... standing here late at night, watching the scaled-down activity in the 'gate room from the dark and very quiet room above.

But he did find it relaxing. Even if it did leave his mind open to thoughts he was able to keep at bay when working.

Even now, those thoughts began to vie for his attention, though as usual, he pushed them away and did his best to bury them with SGC business.

He reminded himself that one of the teams was scheduled to return shortly. Recalled they were on a routine mission to an uninhabited world, but that some of the scientists had become rather excited about the initial readings that they'd gathered.

But it wasn't enough to stop those other thoughts from creeping in.

What was the planet they were on really like?

Oh, yes. He'd seen the initial images the M.A.L.P had sent back. But he knew that was nothing compared with actually being there. He reflected, somewhat dolefully, that he'd need to make do with reading the mission reports instead.

His gaze wandered in the direction of his office then, to the mission report sitting on his desk, one he'd just finished writing a few short hours before. It had been the first of its kind he'd written in quite some time.

He frowned, vaguely annoyed as he realised that the reason for his having to write that report, was probably one of the reasons why he was having more trouble than usual in stopping his mind from delving in areas he'd rather avoid.

Jack sighed again. He had to admit that he probably wouldn't have been able to ignore them for much longer. Especially as it felt as though Sam, Daniel and Teal'c had been going on even more off-world missions than usual recently.

Without him.

He had to admit that he'd thought that by now it wouldn't matter so much. But even after months of being a general, being commander of this base, he still found it difficult to watch everyone, but especially his former team, go through the 'gate without him.

He understood now that that would never change.

And as hard as it had been to adjust to his new role in the beginning, the paperwork, the decisions, not to mention the responsibility, he'd discovered that remaining behind was by far one of the hardest parts of the job.

He missed going through the stargate. He just... missed it.

Finally accepting it, he allowed memories he'd been holding at bay to come flooding back. Memories of so many missions, both good and bad, raced through his mind.

He stood motionless for some time without a thought to anything else.

So engrossed was he, he almost missed the movement on his left, a movement he realised was actually a reflection on the glass in front of him.

He wasn't alone anymore.

All he could see was the outline of a figure, only visible because of the light shining from the corridor behind it. But he knew it was Sam. Knew that right away.

He didn't say anything, and it was a few moments before she began to walk slowly towards him.

"Sir?"

Jack turned his head towards her in response, but didn't move from his position at the window.

"Forget something?" he asked, doubtful she had. He had a feeling this had more to do with what she'd wanted to say earlier.

"Ah, no..." she drifted off as she joined him at the window. "I, uh, see they've begun the tests we discussed the other day."

Jack watched her as she recited the benefits they'd receive if the results were positive. He'd heard it all the other day, so allowed himself the rare pleasure of just watching her as she spoke.

"Sounds good," he said when she'd finished. And it did. Any advantage they could gain from the stargate when dealing with the Goa'uld was a good thing.

They stood quietly together for a few seconds, watching the activity below, before Jack turned and sat on the window ledge, crossing his arms and then his legs at the ankles.

With a sideways look towards Sam, he couldn't help but notice the concern on her face.

But knowing she wasn't going to be the one to break the silence he asked, "Thought you were off for something to eat?"

Sam turned and perched beside him. "I told them to go ahead and I'd meet them there." She hesitated. "There was something I wanted to do first."

"Oh?" was Jack's only response. Now they were getting somewhere.

Even though he had been watching her for the past few minutes, had watched several emotions flicker across her face, he was taken aback by the intensity of her gaze when she turned and looked at him.

"I wanted to ask if you were okay."

It came out in a rush, and even though Jack had known there was something on her mind, that wasn't what he'd been expecting.

He uncrossed his legs and arms to stand and turned and faced her.

"I'm fine," he replied, unable to keep the surprise from creeping into his voice.

She nodded, but clearly wasn't finished.

"I just thought..." again she trailed off, leaving the sentence unfinished, but her eyes remained locked with his.

"What?"

"Well, you seemed a little..." he watched her struggle for the right word, "you didn't seem yourself," she settled on, "earlier today, when we got back from the planet. And you've been pretty quiet lately."

Jack turned away from her concerned look and gazed down to the gateroom once again. He knew he hadn't been quite his usual self lately, but he hadn't thought it was enough of a difference for anyone else to notice. Apparently he'd been wrong.

"I'm fine, really," he repeated, very aware as she took a step closer.

As the silence stretched, Jack rolled all his thoughts of earlier around in his mind, debated whether to mention them to her or not. After all, there was nothing wrong with admitting he missed going off-word, he knew that. He just felt that, being the general, and what, with dealing with life and death situations on a very regular basis, that it shouldn't be something that bothered him so.

But this was Carter. Sam. If anyone would understand, he knew it would be her.

Deliberating a few seconds longer, he made his decision, and then once again sat on the ledge and stretched his long legs out in front of him.

Eyes riveted on his feet, he shrugged and before he lost the nerve, quickly said, "I miss going off-world."

Now that it was said, out in the open, he felt relieved, but a little silly. It sounded so... unimportant when said out loud.

Immediately, the tension he'd sensed from Sam disappeared, but when she didn't say anything for several long seconds, Jack began to feel just a little bit awkward.

"I miss it too," she said softly, so softly in fact that he wasn't sure he'd heard her correctly. He raised his eyes to meet hers.

From the almost shocked look on her face, he could tell that probably wasn't what she'd expected to say either.

"I mean... we miss it... miss you. Daniel, Teal'c and I miss not having you there. All of us."

Jack watched, amused but touched as her pale complexion reddened slightly as she stuttered her own reply. He smiled to himself.

"I know it's silly..." he said as he looked away.

"No, it's not," she interrupted emphatically. "I know if I couldn't go through the 'gate on a regular basis I'd be more than disappointed. Especially if I had to watch everyone, including my old team, go through without me."

She'd hit the proverbial nail on the head, Jack thought.

"Don't get me wrong, I like being a general," he insisted, suddenly aware it may not be coming across as such. He didn't want Sam thinking otherwise, because as much as it may have surprised him in the beginning, he truly did enjoy his new role at the SGC. "I just wouldn't mind the occasional trip through the stargate," he added, working up a smile he knew in no way fooled Sam.

But he was grateful when she offered him one of her own in return.

"I know it's not much," she offered, "but I'm sure you'll be back through the stargate sooner than you think."

When he first realised what was bothering him, Jack had tried to tell himself the exact same thing, but today's events had had such a feeling of finality to it he couldn't explain.

He turned to thank Sam for her words anyway, but realised from her look that she really believed what she'd said.

"I know," she began, and he saw that she'd followed his line of thought exactly, "it probably won't seem that way. But so much has happened in the past few months that even SG1 hasn't been off-world as often. It's only been recently we've begun to get back to normal."

He nodded in agreement, reminded of his earlier musings.

"There are so many reasons why you'd be needed off-world. Just think of all the races and people we've encountered who'd only trust speaking to you. Or even of the times I'm sure we'll need someone to help with the Ancient technology."

She leaned closer still, almost brushing his shoulder. He merely raised an eyebrow, did his very best to focus solely on what she was saying.

She shrugged.

"We do seem to be coming across their technology more frequently these days."

His half-hearted smile from earlier grew as he considered her words. It was true they'd been kept busy with earth related matters recently. And he could think of several instances where it was probable his presence would be insisted upon, though quite why he hadn't really worked out the answer to yet.

"You're right," he decided, feeling suddenly far more optimistic than he had for some time.

And feeling much better, feeling the tension he'd been experiencing begin to ebb away, the smile he sent her way turned genuine.

"You know..." Jack began, deciding to admit one other thing to her.

"What?" Sam urged.

He made a show of looking around the briefing room as if checking for any unwanted guests.

"Promise not to tell?"

Sam nodded.

Jack leaned even closer, so close that now their heads were almost touching.

"I actually convinced myself that I'd be happy on one of Daniel's archaeology excursions."

They both grinned.

"But do you know what the worst part is?" he added.

Sam shook her head.

"I really wouldn't mind it." He balked. "I never thought I'd say that."

At his incredulous expression, Sam chuckled, and Jack sent her a look of mock irritation.

"Don't worry, sir. I won't tell him."

"You'd better not. I'd never hear the end of it."

Just at that moment, the stargate burst to life. They stood and turned to look out the window, and watched as the chevrons engaged and then finally locked.

"SG-7, bang on schedule," Jack noticed as he checked his watch.

They observed the team as they came through the 'gate, noted as they carefully set numerous packs and pieces of equipment at the base of the ramp. The room below suddenly became a bustle of activity, but eventually, the wormhole closed and the people below began to disperse.

Jack turned his attention back to Sam.

"Well, I'd better go," Sam motioned as she turned to face him again. "The guys will be wondering where I am."

Jack offered her a grateful smile, and was thankful for the small but what he thought of as a relatively safe gap, between them.

"Sure you won't join us?"

"Yeah." He paused. "Rain check?"

Sam smiled an affirmative as she began to slowly back away. But when he thought she'd turn to make her way from the room, she stopped and held his gaze.

"You make a wonderful general. Sir."

For the second time that night, she was gone before he could reply. But, he realised, he was smiling once more, and his spirits were more buoyant than they had been for some time. Sam's honest statement was right up there with the praise he'd received from General Hammond and the President. It perhaps, he considered, in some ways, meant even more.

With a final glance below, Jack drifted back into his office with a renewed sense of purpose. He knew it wouldn't take him long now to finish those last two reports.

He approached his desk, his mind now filled with thoughts of Sam, when it suddenly struck him that he hadn't even thanked her.

The thought stopped him in his tracks, and before he'd really considered what he was doing, he found himself bypassing his desk and heading out the other door.

He needed to thank her. He had to let her know how much he appreciated what she'd done.

He jogged the short distance between his office and the elevator, absently thankful that the base was almost deserted at this time of night. For a second he wondered if he'd be too late, but relaxed as he rounded the last corner and saw her just about to step into the elevator.

"Sam." He called out before he realised what he was doing.

She turned at the sound of her name being called and at the same time, it dawned on him that he didn't have a clue what he was going to say.

"Sir?"

She had stopped in front of the open doors, was facing him now as he came to a stop in front of her.

"Ah..." Self-conscious and nervous, he shoved his hands in his pockets and began to rock back on his feet.

"Change you mind, sir?"

"Uh... no," he answered, his mind still catching up with his actions. "I... uh." He stopped, took a few seconds just to watch her, and began again. "I just wanted to say thank you for..." his head inclined in the direction of the briefing room while his eyes remained fixed on the woman in front of him.

She smiled. "No need. I'm glad I could help."

"You did," he said sincerely. "Very much."

He'd said what he'd wanted to but somehow couldn't bring himself to leave just yet.

They continued to stand, facing one another, and Jack began to feel that his earlier relief at the base being so empty wasn't as good a thing as he'd initially thought.

"Well, I'd better get back." He nodded in the direction of his office again.

"Yeah. I have to go." She started backing into the elevator. "We'll be at the usual place if you change your mind," she added, not even taking her eyes from him as she pressed the button for the surface.

He smiled and nodded, gave a short wave as the doors began to close.

And when they did, his smile grew wider.

He only had two reports left. He was pretty sure he could get them done by the time she... they... reached dessert.

The End

Copyright © Diane 2005

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