Suppression Chapter 2

The knocking, though expected, still startled her and her whole body jerked like an out-of-control marionette as she sat at her computer. An insistent voice in her head encouraged her to ignore the interruption; telling her it would go away.

The banging grew louder and more persistent. She hunched over her keyboard, her fingers flying as she typed in information from her latest research, aware that what was appearing on the screen made little sense. The door handle rattled noisily.

"Open the damn door, Carter!"

She closed her eyes wishing she were anywhere but her office, then straightening her shoulders she made her way reluctantly to her door, unlocking it. She didn't open it. It was her own pathetic form of defiance, but still it was something. She was sliding back into the seat at her computer when she heard the door open and close, but kept her eyes riveted to the typed figures before her. She felt her heart hammering painfully inside her chest vying with the tempo going on in her head. Despite it, she still heard the crunch of splintering glass under his feet.

'Damn!' She thought she'd cleared it all up.

"Had an accident, Carter?"

"No…Sir." She still didn't look up, all too aware of the uncomfortable silence that ensued. It went on for a considerable length of time.

Jack's eyes narrowed, his jaw clenched tight. "I came to talk, Major, but I can see you're busy." His tone was frigid as he turned on his heel.

"Why?" Her face was pale as she looked up and because she was so afraid, she dared to press where normally she wouldn't. "This isn't a game, Colonel, so what is this all about?"

Already on the defensive, Jack stiffened, not liking the tone his 2IC had adopted. He turned carefully.

"I'm fully aware this isn't a game," he stated with exaggerated patience, deliberately speaking slowly as if to a preschool child. Then straightening, he continued, "I made a decision which I thought was for the best and whether you like it or not, you're going to have to live with it, Major."

Sam strove to keep the hurt from her voice and steeled herself to maintain a neutral mask to her features; she refused to reveal her misery and confusion. "Don't you think I deserved an explanation?"

Jack's eyes flashed dangerously. "Don't push it, Carter. I don't have to explain every minor detail to my subordinates."

She flinched feeling as if he'd slapped her a second time that morning, and mortified by his cutting words she dropped her head, hiding the painful color that again suffused her face and neck.

'Minor detail?!...Bastard!'

She could feel the hot bile of frustration rise in her gorge and a burst of anger flamed high at the injustice of this treatment. Utterly bewildered, she shook her head disbelievingly, unable to comprehend how all this had descended into such a farcical waking nightmare. Just what the hell had she done to deserve this?

Throughout her entire career she'd felt the need to justify her position in the Air Force, had worked extra hard so as not to provide anyone with the excuse to sideline her simply because she was a woman, or to put forward the excuse that she had got where she was because of her looks or because she was a senior officer's daughter.

Until she came to the SGC. And at long last, here she was able to accept that no one on her team judged her unfairly. She was accepted for what she was - a brilliant scientist but also an equally excellent front-line officer.

So what, she wondered desperately, had brought about this change in her CO? Had he lost faith in her abilities? Otherwise why drop her from the op? The discordant thunder in her head began to intensify – it needed release. For two cents she'd request a transfer to another SG unit…

Suddenly, alarmingly, Jack was looming over her, his manner openly hostile.

"I'll pretend I never heard that, Carter!" he snapped harshly, dark eyes flat and cold.

Had she actually voiced that request? No, it was impossible! Her temper had gotten the better of her, he must surely know that and she raised imploring eyes to take back her hasty words only to see Jack's inflexible back passing through the doorway.

Finally, finding her voice she called out, "Sir!"

He ignored her, not even hesitating in his stride to glance back.

He was nursing a strong black coffee in the commissary when Daniel approached his table and took a seat opposite. Having brought no food or drink with him, it was fairly obvious Daniel had come to join Jack for something other than sustenance.

Aware of the other's hesitant manner, Jack's irritation levels soared.

"Whatever it is you've got to say, spit it out, Daniel. I haven't got all day!"

Although known for his mild-mannered ways, in the face of O'Neill's frayed temper, Daniel did not flinch as he took a seat opposite.

"What's going on between you and Sam?"

Jack froze, for a hellish moment wondering if the whole complex had been privy to his 2IC's whispered words in her lab, then raising his eyes he pierced the young linguist with a burning glare. It was a look that worked well on junior officers and enlisted men. It even made the majority of senior officers pause and rethink their positions.

Not Daniel. He simply ignored it and the resulting uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, merely folding his arms defensively.

'Damn.' Jack had hoped he could scare the archaeologist off.

Not so.

"For crying out loud, does anyone around here remember that I'm the colonel and as such I give the orders? This Air Force isn't a democracy Daniel – you'd better get used to it."

Pushing back the glasses which never seemed to sit on his nose correctly, Daniel gave his friend a long, carefully appraising look.

"Why didn't you tell Sam?"

Jack's jaw tightened, his eyes narrowing ominously. He'd had this conversation once already and was really not in the mood for a repeat. Yet Daniel's tenacity was implacable.

"Tell her what?" Jack snapped, his scowl menacing.

"Stop being obtuse, Jack. It won't work."

All at once the challenge in the older man's eyes faltered and he dropped his gaze, muttering an obscenity under his breath.

"That won't work either."

Pinned by Daniel's myopic blue eyes, Jack found himself explaining what he hadn't intended explaining. "If you must know," he blustered caustically, "I did go and see Carter."

"And?"

"And she was busy talking to someone." Jack's sarcasm was cuttingly dry.

"So why didn't you just wait and then tell her?"

Raising dark eyes grudgingly, as if daring Daniel to scoff, Jack continued, "She was talking… talking women's stuff…I…I didn't want to hang around. I thought I'd get a chance to tell her later."

Daniel looked askance. "Women's stuff?"

Jack found himself gritting his teeth. He wasn't about to elaborate any further.

"So what's wrong with now?" he pressed.

Jack could feel Daniel's disapproval and disappointment gnawing away at him.

"Damnit-."

"What about now, Jack?" he repeated softly, but oh so persistently.

"You're pushing your luck, Daniel," a wealth of menace in his tone.

"I'll hold your hand if you want me to…"

"I don't understand." Sam's troubled eyes were filled with confusion as she stared at her CO who had chosen to return to her lab alone. "If you came here to tell me earlier, then what stopped you? I was here all yesterday afternoon?" And just as her brow creased into a frown, her eyes widened in horrified recollection, and as soon as the burning crimson flushed her pale cheeks, it drained away leaving her painfully white.

'Oh God, no! Please tell me you didn't hear what I think you heard!'

Her silent supplication was ignored. If she wasn't mistaken, her CO's features had hardened even further.

She had to be sure though and schooling her features to reveal nothing, asked what she dreaded hearing. "And...and that's the reason I'm being dropped from the operation?"

"No – it's the reason I didn't tell you, I was going -."

It was bad enough to have been overheard telling Janet she was unable to have a relationship with her present boyfriend because she couldn't get her CO out of her thoughts, but to have same CO - and here Sam cringed with shame - throw it all back in her face by not wanting her on the same team when she'd always done everything in her power to be the best professional 2IC a CO could ever wish for…it was simply too much to bear.

"Permission to be dismissed, Sir!" she snapped, her distress shoving her past the boundaries of insubordination. And without waiting for a reply, she pivoted and dashed from the room.

(Chapter 3 to follow)