beatrice_otter: Sam Carter against a blue background. (Sam)
[personal profile] beatrice_otter
Okay. I believe I have figured out some of the logistics of posting stories to LJ, so I'm going to post Consequences here. Because apparently you can only put around 47k characters in a post before LJ starts going weird (thanks for the tip, [ profile] kuna_yashmaa!), I've cut it into five sections.

For those of you wondering how New Lives is going, it is incredibly frustrating at the moment because it is going precisely nowhere. On the bright side, my [ profile] ucp_ficathon fic is almost done and I've started a Fic For All (Giles/Sam Carter). It may be just a vignette, it may go somewhere, we'll see.

Consequences, 1/5

"I want you." Hard muscle. Strong. Male, musky, aroused. Mouth to mouth, but he would not open.

"Why? I mean, no!" Distance, loss. "Carter, this is a little-"

Mouths, again, open this time. Hands under clothes. Growl, dominance, alpha male in action. She whined submission, but kept up the pressure. Clothes tearing; free at last. Flesh on flesh. Cold hard floor. Mouths everywhere...

Captain Samantha Carter, Ph.D., USAF, shot upright in bed. Which was a mistake, she realized as her stomach rebelled against the abrupt change in orientation. She ignored the alarm clock as she brought her stomach under control, then shut it off and lay back limply. The alarm had interrupted a dream she'd had before, though it had never been that clear. The Broca virus had left its victims with only hazy recollections of what had happened after infection; those memories were mostly tied to sense memory. A sound, smell, touch, taste, all could bring flashes to the surface, but only in dreams did whole scenes play themselves out. Sam snuggled deeper into her pillows, closing her eyes to the bare white walls of her bedroom. She really needed to decorate her apartment, but just hadn't had the time.

The few weeks since the virus had been hell. First, Jonas had finally lost it for good; that mission had followed mere days after the disaster that had been the Touched/Broca virus. The side effects of the virus's extreme physical transformation and the massive doses of antihistamine hadn't quite finished wearing off, and P3X-513's intense solar radiation hadn't helped any. Add the stress of an impossible engineering challenge to a woman who specialized in theory, not practical application, and going up against a man she'd once loved, and it hadn't been pretty. Jonas had changed, almost beyond recognition, but he still wore the same face and there had been flashes of his former self.

Then they'd met the weird crystal beings. More radiation to an already stressed body, though at least that time they'd had some proper protective gear. That had been fascinating, but standing in the hospital's drab beige and concrete hall later as the Colonel embraced his ex-wife Sam had been seized by dark emotions she'd rather not put names to. She hoped none of it had shown on her face. He had every right to care for the mother of his son, and Sam had no claim on him. She had assured General Hammond that she could handle the situation professionally, as had the Colonel. It had been an alien virus, not them, and they didn't remember much anyway. No harm, no foul. Unless one of them couldn't take it, and Sam was determined not to be the one to crack. She was exactly where she wanted to be, on the front lines of the greatest scientific discovery of all time, with the greatest team she could imagine. Being transferred for such a reason might jeopardize not only her place on the team, but also her place on any team and the future of her career.

Finally, her stomach was completely settled, and Sam slipped out of bed and into her fatigues. She'd have to mention it to Dr. Frasier that morning; they had a mission the day after and there needed to be time to get the lab results back on any tests. Surely the problem was with the combination of tension, radiation and the virus; the other possibility, brought to mind by the dream, was too horrifying to consider seriously. Besides, the stresses her body had been through had to have been enough to take care of any potential ... problem.

Jack glanced around, taking care to make his dawdling inconspicuous as he made his way through the security checkpoints. Captain Carter normally arrived so punctually you could time your watch by her, but her car (a sweet 1961 Volvo Coupe) wasn't in its usual spot. Jack took his time signing in, making small talk with the guard; there was nothing wrong with noticing his second-in-command's schedule, he told himself firmly. And if he wanted to check with her before getting started on the day's work (reports, tactical discussions with Teal'c, physical training with Daniel), well, it was the best time of the day to touch bases. Once she got buried in her lab, she might not stick her head out for a while. It was all normal military courtesy. And if he told himself that often enough, he would hopefully believe it some day.

Someone came to a stop beside him. A woman's scent. Hands, arms, velvet skin over steel. "Want me?"

"Hey, Carter," he said, reciting constellations in his head as he stepped aside to give her room to sign in. Man, was he thankful for his BDU jacket's length right now. Oh, yeah. Jack's dreams had been in glorious Technicolor since the locker room incident, and he sometimes cursed his blithe assurances to Hammond. But he couldn't have done anything else to Carter. As things were, there was no official problem. If he made one, the black mark would be there forever. And a promotions board or superior officer less understanding than Hammond could kill her career with one negative endorsement.

It was different for him. Even if he'd cared about his career, he'd already made the most difficult jump; once you got to colonel, it was pretty much only a matter of time until you were promoted again. But most careers stalled before you got to that point, particularly in the support branches, such as science; as a double handicap, much as everyone tried to deny it, women in any branch of the military still had to be twice as good to get half the credit. And once you got past the rough edges, Carter was one hell of a smart, tough cookie. The Air Force needed people like her, and she deserved nothing less than the best.

Jack frowned as she finished and they made their way to the next set of elevators. She'd been a full ten minutes behind her normal schedule, and she was obviously preoccupied; she'd barely responded to his greeting. He swiped his access card and punched the floor for the commissary. Over the last few days he and Daniel had been meeting for breakfast, and they were working on getting Teal'c and Sa-Captain Carter-to join them. "So, Carter, gonna join us this morning?" he asked brightly.

"No, thanks, sir." Carter punched in a different floor as the elevator began to move. "I've got too much to do." She stared straight ahead, not even glancing at him, and he followed her lead.

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day," he said lightly, noting that whatever she had planned evidently didn't involve her lab. "And I hear they're adding Fruit Loops to the cereals."

"Maybe tomorrow."

"Are you okay?" he asked. There were other things on the level she'd chosen besides the infirmary, but for the life of him he couldn't think what. And she looked worn.

"I don't-" Carter checked herself. "I'm sure it's nothing, Colonel, but I want to make sure Doctor Frasier knows ahead of time so she won't have any problems clearing me for the next mission."

"Ah." Jack tried to turn his worry into a more professional concern. "Keep me informed Captain; I like to be kept informed about my team's status." And oh, God, please make that not sound as pompous to her as it did to him. The elevator slid to a stop as he dithered over what to say next. Dithering was not something he did often. But Carter was the one to break the awkward silence.

"Of course, sir." She flashed him a brittle smile as she slipped out the doors.

"So, how long before the aftereffects of the Touched virus go away, Doctor?" Sam asked. The infirmary wasn't large enough to have private examination rooms, so she was perched on one of the beds in a regular ward. As CMO, Dr. Frasier was personally handling all cases that might be related to that incident. Sam had met the shorter woman a few times, but this was her first examination by her.

"Well, judging by the majority of other cases, you shouldn't have any symptoms left. For something that alters the body that radically, I'm amazed at how little permanent damage that little beggar caused." Doctor Frasier finished drawing the blood sample. "I wish you'd come to me earlier about this, Captain; we have no idea what the long-term effects might be, not to mention everything else you've put your body through lately. We don't even have any idea if gate travel has side effects-your nausea might well be caused by that, given the reactions it caused for the first few weeks."

"Actually, Doctor, that's not a problem anymore," Sam said. Her voice became more animated as she warmed to her subject. "See, our dialing program wasn't properly calibrated to interact with other gates; that, combined with the problems caused by stellar drift was what caused the nausea. Now that we've adjusted the dialing program and are compensating for stellar drift, the side effects of gate travel-"

"I know about that, Captain Carter." Doctor Frasier shook her head. "We're still dealing with a complex piece of alien technology, and we have no idea what the long term effects will be."

"The Goa'uld and Jaffa use it all the time without problems," Sam objected, putting her jacket back on now that Janet seemed to be finished. She was cold this morning.

"Yes, but the Goa'uld and Jaffa have something we don't-a symbiote that, from what Mr. Teal'c has told me, can probably either shield them from the problem or heal any damage without any inconvenience." Doctor Frasier made a few more notes on her clipboard. "When I get these results back, I'll let you know. Now, I know this is a personal question, but have you been having dreams about the virus incident?"

Sam blushed. "Yes," she mumbled down at her hands, trying not to remember what was in those dreams. Now was not the time for that.

"Most of those who contracted it have reported having them, along with flashes of memory while awake. Have you considered seeing someone about the dreams? Or anything that's happened recently?" Doctor Frasier folded her arms around the clipboard and smiled sympathetically. "We were just assigned a psychiatrist, Doctor MacKenzie. We're sharing him with the Air Force Hospital, but he's fully briefed on our situation here. He comes highly recommended, and I'm sure he'd be able to help you if you needed anything."

"No, thanks," Sam said indistinctly. She had nothing against mental health professionals, but talking about it would make it too real for her. And then there was the chance something would slip, and others would find out. There were no cameras in the locker room; she and the Colonel had been found trying to raid the cafeteria. Half-clothed or not, the incident had been lost among a host of other similar incidents. But now the base's gossip had moved on to other things, which meant there was no covering fire. If anything came to light, there would be problems.

"Well, if you're sure," the Doctor said doubtfully. "There's no reason for you to wait here for these test results." She grabbed an appropriate pen and began labeling the vials of Sam's blood.

"Thanks," Sam said, taking the hint. She slid off the bed and went off to her lab, in search of a distraction.

Hours later, Sam had managed to forget her earlier worries. That was the great thing about her job. She could so easily lose herself in the pure, abstract beauty of the science and the puzzle of the alien technology that came with it. This particular challenge came from SG-2's last mission; no one was sure what it was, but the power signature was intriguing. General Hammond had agreed, after some restrained begging, to allow her first crack at it before he sent it off to Area 51 for more extensive tests. Not that it would have stayed there long; they were in the process of constructing a still-to-be-named complex for the express purpose of testing and storing alien artifacts, as Area 51 was a bit too notorious to ever be low profile.

Oh, now that was interesting; from what she'd been able to figure out so far, it shouldn't have done that. She wished she'd gotten all the equipment she'd asked for, but much of it had yet to arrive. She checked the readout on a machine that had arrived, frowning at what she saw. Curiouser and curiouser. Engineering had never held the excitement for her that pure science did; after all, where was the fun if you knew what was going to happen ahead of time? But taking an alien device and figuring out blindly what it was and did, now this was heaven. She just wished she'd been able to see the thing in situ; maybe that would have helped.

Her phone rang, jolting her from her musings. "Carter."

"Captain, this is Doctor Frasier."

Sam's heart sank. Her tone was ominous. "Yes?" She turned and leaned back against the gray concrete wall behind her.

"I need to discuss these test results with you. When would be a good time?"

"I'm free right now. Just give me a few minutes to wrap this up and I'll be right down there."

"That would be fine. I'll see you then."

The line went dead. Sam closed her eyes and tried to think positive thoughts about whatever it was the doctor wanted to tell her. She shook her head and pushed herself off to begin securing her lab; it wouldn't do to leave unknown alien devices just lying around loose.

As she headed out the door she ran straight into the person she least wanted to see right now. "Sorry sir, I'm afraid I wasn't watching where I was going."

"That's ok, Carter. Where you headed in such a hurry?" His tone was light, and for a brief second she hated his calm professionalism.

"I'm just on my way to the infirmary. My test results are back. I'll let you know what's up as soon as I know, sir." Sam ducked around him, eager to escape.

"Do that," he said to her retreating figure.

"I'm what?"

"I'm sorry, Captain Carter. I'm afraid you're pregnant." They sat in Dr. Frasier's office, obviously used more for paperwork than patient consultations, judging by the piles of medical files and lab reports sitting everywhere. "I'm going to have to remove you from the mission rotation at least temporarily; we have no way of knowing what gate travel does to fetuses, and I'm not going to use you as a guinea pig." She paused, and lowered her voice. "Is this pregnancy the result of the Broca virus?"

Sam nodded dumbly, still trying to process this new information. She hadn't had a relationship last longer than a few dates since she and Jonas had split, and nothing recently.

"And is Colonel O'Neill the father?" the doctor pressed.

"Yes." Sam flushed and looked away.

"Sam, you're not the only one in this position," Frasier said gently. "There are at least seven other women pregnant from this, several of them with the child of a man in their chain of command. In three cases, one or both of the personnel involved is married to someone else. Two don't even know for sure who the father is. And given the low number of women on this base, that's quite a percentage."

"What happens now?" Sam asked dully. In a way, it would be a comfort not to know who the father was. Then at least it wouldn't be fraternization.

"Now, we tell General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill the situation. The general hasn't decided yet how we're going to handle cases such as yours, but he knows that what happened is not anybody's fault. Do you want to be there when I hand him my report?"

"No." The thought of facing him with that information-it had to happen sooner or later but right now later sounded much better.

"Would you like me to be here when you tell Colonel O'Neill?"

Sam shook her head. "Could you get him here, please? I don't think he spends much time in his office, so you'll have to page him."

"Of course, Sam." The doctor smiled sympathetically. "You can use my office, if you like." She rose and skirted her desk, pausing to lay a hand on Sam's shoulder. "If you need anything, just let me know. Under the circumstances, we're looking for a good OB/GYN to add to the staff here; if there are any complications, we'll need a specialist with the clearance to see the files on the incident."

She left, closing the door behind her. Sam leaned over, resting her elbows on her knees, head and hands hanging, praying for strength and guidance. What was she going to do now? She couldn't keep it, but the thought of an abortion ... she didn't know if she could do that, either. The colonel-how would he react? Would he want to keep it, or get rid of it? If he wanted to keep it, what would he do if she wanted an abortion? Conversely, if he wanted an abortion, how would she handle it? If they kept it, would he want to be involved? And what kind of a father would he be?

Father. Oh, god, Dad. He was going to be furious and disappointed. He'd come around to the notion of women in the service and his daughter being one of them, but it hadn't been his first inclination and he'd tried to dissuade her from her chosen career. He'd see this as a confirmation of his worst fears, and she couldn't even tell him the extenuating circumstances, because he didn't have the clearance. General Hammond was an old friend of his (they'd served together in Nam), but the General wouldn't bend clearance rules for personal reasons like this. Holy Hannah, how was she going to break the news?

"Carter, you okay?" She straightened as the Colonel's concerned voice broke her solitude. She hadn't even heard the door open.

"Yeah." She gestured to the other chair. "Could you sit down, sir?" She carefully avoided his eyes.

"Ok." He sat down, and Sam took a deep breath, gathering her courage. "Carter, what is it?" he asked, when she didn't say anything.

"I'm pregnant." Sam cringed. She hadn't planned on just blurting it out like that.

There was a silence. "Could you ... repeat that?"

She glanced up, looking at him for the first time. His face was white with shock. "I'm pregnant."

"And I take it ... it's mine?" Emotion washed over his face before it closed off. Sam could see his eyes go dead as he waited for her answer. He wasn't angry as she had half feared, but maybe that would have been preferable to this cold stillness.

"Yes. Doctor Frasier can do a paternity ..."

He waved it off. "Carter, I trust you. If you say it's mine, it's mine." He paused. "You're not- you are- are you going to keep it?"

"I don't know. I haven't had time to think about this." Sam ducked her head, trying to hide the moisture in her eyes. The last thing she wanted was to lose his hard-earned respect for her by turning into a watering pot. "I've never really seen myself having kids. I don't ... I don't think I'm the mothering type, really." She looked up, but not at him. If she saw his hard face, she really would lose it. "And I've got a job beyond all my wildest imaginations, the best job I could hope for in the whole world. The whole galaxy! And I know, because thanks to this job I've seen the galaxy. I don't have time for a baby!" Her voice broke, and she closed her eyes, fighting for composure. After a second, she added in a small voice, "but I don't ... I don't think I could ..." Despite her best efforts, she couldn't prevent a bit of moisture from escaping down her cheek.

A hand touched her back, rubbing gently. She opened her eyes to see the colonel crouched beside her, the awful deadness gone. "I wasn't expecting this either," he said softly. "After Charlie ..." he trailed off and glanced away, but his hand never stopped moving.

Charlie, she thought, heart sinking further. She'd seen how he reacted to the alien facsimile of his son; obviously, he had loved the boy deeply. He'd held him close the entire helicopter ride back to the mountain, and hadn't let go of him until he left through the wormhole. To give him another chance at fatherhood, then snatch it away ... it would be cruel. Could she do that to him? It was a strike against the abortion possibility.

"But I want you to know," he continued, "that whatever you decide, I'm here for you. Whatever you need."

"Thank you, sir." Sam put her hand on his arm and regained a little bit of her composure. "This has been a huge shock, and I think what I need most right now is a chance to think, figure out what I want."

"Sure. Take the rest of the day off."

"Sir, I don't need-"

"Carter, you've just had a huge shock which could lead to a life-altering decision," he said. "You do need to think things through, and if you go back to your lab, you'll get so wrapped up in studying that gizmo you begged Hammond for that you'll forget to eat, and will probably stay late trying to figure it out." He gave her a quick smile, and she flushed slightly that he knew her so well already. "You won't be thinking about what it is you want to do. A break will do you good. You can come back tomorrow more prepared to tackle this. That's an order."

"Yes, sir," she said, getting up. She rubbed her eyes to get rid of the tears. "Doctor Frasier is talking with the General now, sir. Apparently we're not the only ... couple in this situation. Call me if he makes any decisions?"

"Of course." He had stood up with her, and now his hands hung loosely at his sides. He looked kind of confused and very worried.

Sam turned and walked to the door, not looking at him. She had enough confusion and worries herself; she couldn't handle his, too. Not right now.

"And Sam?"

She turned at the sound of her name, with the door half open.

"Call me Jack."

Jack watched the woman who was both his second in command and the mother of his unborn child walk out the door and sank back on to the chair she had just left. Man, if he ever needed a drink, it was now. Charlie's face floated in front of his eyes, as a baby, as a kid, and covered with blood as they waited for the ambulance to arrive, praying frantically. Because having another child? So much more terrifying than fighting the Goa'uld. Jack loved kids, but the idea that he might fail another one as badly as he'd failed Charlie was enough to make him break out in a cold sweat.

And that was assuming that Carter-Sam-didn't choose to get rid of it. He'd heard it all, a woman's body, a woman's right to choose, but the kid was half his. Shouldn't he get some say in it? Abortion seemed a worse failure than what he'd let happen to Charlie; at least Charlie had had eight good years in a loving home, which was eight more years than this child would have if Sam didn't want it. He understood why she might want to, under the circumstances, but still. Besides, while he'd been halfway lapsed even before Charlie and hadn't set foot in any church since the funeral, there was enough left of what his devout Catholic mother had tried to pound into his head about abortion being murder.

Pie. No beer because he was on duty, but pie was always a good substitute. It helped him think, which was part of the reason he often wrote at least portions of his reports there. Doc Fraiser could page him if she needed him. He'd mention it to a nurse on his way out.

All things considered, Sam was mildly surprised that she made it home with out killing herself accidentally and therefore solving her dilemma. Between what she suspected might be a mild case of shock and low blood sugar (she'd been so engrossed in that alien device that she'd forgotten lunch), she hadn't exactly been the best driver on the road. Still, she'd gotten home all right.

Now that she was home, the question became what to do with herself. Sam was not a person who spent much time just hanging out, and as a result was uncomfortable doing it. True, she was supposed to be figuring out what she was going to do, but she couldn't just sit around. She wished she'd made more effort make and keep female friends over the years, as she really needed someone to talk to, but working and studying in predominantly male fields as she did, the pool of women she knew was actually pretty small. And she didn't really feel comfortable talking about it with any of her male friends.

Well, Daniel seemed like a good guy, not macho and sensitive enough to try and see things from her point of view, but she didn't know him that well. And the fact that his wife had been a gift, and the way he'd reacted to Melosha's rape on the first trip to the land of the Touched, made her uncertain of how sympathetic he'd be with female issues. Teal'c wasn't exactly macho in the traditional sense either, but he was alien and quiet enough that she still had no idea what his personality was like. The colonel? He had his own issues to deal with. A list of other friends from previous postings came up with the same deficiencies-she didn't really have any friends close enough to talk about this with about something this big.

Unpacking the boxes that still sat around. That would keep her occupied while she tried to sort through her initial reaction to the news. Trying to ignore the suspicion that she was "nesting," Sam grabbed the first box that came to hand. Kitchen supplies. She didn't choose to cook often; it was time-consuming and somewhat boring. With the base cafeteria was always available, and several good places that did take-out near her apartment, it wasn't something Sam had found much need to do since moving to the Springs. Still, she was a good enough cook when she put her mind to it, and liked to have a well-stocked kitchen when she did. It was a boring kitchen with a view over the parking lot and the house next door, but the cabinets were good quality and the appliances were relatively new. All told, it was a much better kitchen than she'd had in DC, where rent was much higher.

Unfortunately, the landlord didn't allow hanging racks for pots; she put some under the stove and found a logical cupboard for the rest of them and the baking equipment. Now that she wouldn't be going on missions for at least nine months, she'd probably have more time on her hands; maybe she'd start cooking more, she thought as she adjusted the wok so it would fit. It'd probably be healthier; the cafeteria wasn't exactly renowned for its high-quality ingredients. No missions also meant no hazard pay as well, which meant she'd have less to live on at a time when her expenses would be going up; not that she'd ever spent enough time off base to really use all that she made. Medical was covered by the Air Force, of course, but baby supplies were her own responsibility. If she chose to keep it.

Which begged the question: would she keep it? Sam wasn't thrilled by the prospect of abortion, though she didn't have any problems with it as a moral issue; as career-focused as she was, she'd never had much time for romantic relationships, despite numerous offers. She might never get another chance, and while it had never been a priority of hers, the idea of having a child (in the abstract) wasn't unpleasant. It would be a lot easier to get rid of it, but she hadn't gotten where she was by taking the easy solution. If she got rid of it, she'd at least be transferred to a different team; she doubted General Hammond would press for any more serious repercussions, under the circumstances. If he wasn't going to bring courts-martial, boards of inquiry, or even letters of reprimand for murders committed while under the influence of the virus, she doubted he'd do so for fraternization violations. She frowned, looking at the book in her hands. So that's where that book had gotten to! How Dr. Kaufman's latest work on string theory had gotten in among her cookbooks she'd never know, but she just shrugged her shoulders and went out to put it in its place on the bookshelves in the living room. They were by far the most put-together part of the apartment so far.

So what would happen if she were to keep the baby? She'd probably be able to join another team, if she wanted to, once she was back in condition after the baby was born. Any other professional consequences would come whether she had an abortion or not; she could only hope the General was willing to continue handling things as he had been. Childcare would be a problem, but the Colonel-Jack-would help, at least financially. She thought. From what she knew of him, he didn't seem the type to forget his obligations and he certainly wasn't the type to abandon his own child. Daycare shouldn't be too big of a problem, should it?

Most of the time she and ... and Jack wouldn't be offworld at the same time; even with the occasional overnight or multi-day mission, all the teams so far spent the vast majority of their time on base. A couple of missions a month was the rule; unless they could speed up the stellar drift calculations (and one of the computer specialists had some interesting ideas in that area) they simply didn't have enough workable addresses to go on more, even if the budget were increased to the level they wanted. Surely she'd be able to find someone to take the baby on those rare occasions when they were both offworld. She'd heard Airman Freeman, for example, complain about how expensive it was to take care of two kids. Maybe he and his wife would be interested in picking up some extra cash every now and again by watching a third child.

Going offworld was very risky; look at the rate of casualties they'd had so far. On the other hand, as they learned more about what was out there, that risk would probably decrease at least a little, and a large proportion of those injuries and deaths had occurred on base, so it wasn't as if staying wrapped up in her lab was so much safer. Jack or Mark could take the kid if anything happened to her; she was not about to give up the SGC. The baby would need the most care during the first few months, and she was likely to be sleep deprived during that time. Maybe she could work as a sort of consultant during that period-going out only when a team found something that was specifically of interest in her field-then returning to a formal team once it was sleeping through the night regularly. It depended on what Hammond thought.

The next box was her mother's fine china. Sam had asked Mark if he wanted it a few years ago, when they'd been on better terms (after all, he and his wife were far more likely to entertain than she was), but he'd turned it down. She hadn't even unpacked it during her two years in DC. She'd leave it packed; it wasn't as if she was likely to need it soon. Besides, if she did keep the baby she'd have to move soon as a one-bedroom apartment wouldn't be big enough for more than a year. It would probably be more expensive, but she could handle that; it wasn't like she spent everything she made as it was.

It sounded like she was seriously leaning towards keeping it, Sam realized. Huh. She was going to be a mother.

Jack sat in the cafeteria, the remains of his pie at his elbow. As active as he was, given the need to stay in shape for offworld status, the extra calories weren't an issue, but he'd never been one to compulsively overeat. Having found that one slice of pie did little to distract him, he'd decided that a second piece would be pointless. Problem was, he had nothing to distract him from wondering what Sam was thinking about, what decisions she was making. Frasier hadn't gotten to him with Hammond's reaction, yet.

"That page must be really interesting, Jack. You've been looking at it for almost ten minutes."

Jack looked up from the report he'd been using as cover for his brooding. "Daniel," he said in mild surprise as his two teammates sat down across from him. "Teal'c. Wat'cha doing here?" That he hadn't heard Teal'c was par for the course; the other man could be damn quiet when he wanted to be. That he hadn't heard the geeky archaeologist whose idea of stealth was not talking too loudly meant he had to have been far deeper into his own thoughts than he normally allowed himself to go. Thar be Dragons, yonder.

"When you missed our session, O'Neill, I endeavored to find you," Teal'c intoned. "Daniel Jackson was assisting me."

"I needed a break, anyway. My translation was going nowhere."

Startled, Jack glanced at his watch. "Crap. I'm sorry, Teal'c, I completely forgot."

"Really? That's not like you, Jack." Daniel sipped at the coffee cradled in his hand. He winced, slightly. Jack sympathized; the cafeteria had the worst coffee on base, and Daniel could be something of a coffee connoisseur. "Is anything wrong?"

"No. Why?" Jack realized as it came out that it sounded defensive. Too late.

"Well, you're normally pretty punctual. I don't think you've ever missed a session with Teal'c," Daniel raised an eyebrow, to which the Jaffa responded with a small shake of his head. "You didn't even notice us when we came in and watched you for a good solid ten minutes, and you usually keep track of what's all going on in the area around you. You weren't even fidgeting, which I don't think I've ever seen except out in the field. Oh, yeah, and during that entire ten minutes you didn't turn the page on whatever report you've got even once. Given that you normally make me summarize my reports so you don't have to read the whole thing, I don't think you were paying much attention to it." Daniel finished his speech with a concerned look.

Jack cursed the fact that the younger man had seen him in the depths of his depression, on Abydos during the first mission. It was obvious he thought Jack might be sliding back into bad old habits, and wanted to help prevent that if possible. On the other hand, the geeky archaeologist had done good on that mission, and on all the missions they'd had since. Reliable and a good guy to have when things got rough, despite his sometimes annoying innocence. And Teal'c was ... solid. They were going to have to know sooner or later, whatever Carter decided. "Let's go somewhere we can talk privately," Jack suggested.

Once in Daniel's office, Jack took a seat at the worktable and began fiddling with one of the artifacts there. Daniel closed the thick blast door as he so rarely did and took a seat across from Jack, while Teal'c remained standing.

A few moments passed. "So, Jack," Daniel broke the silence. "Want to tell us why we're here?"

Jack put the doohicky down and realized that he had no clue how he was going to tell them. "Carter's pregnant," he blurted out. Okay, that worked. A little blunt, maybe, but hey, he was nobody's idea of 'Mr. Diplomacy.' He looked up. Teal'c had a raised eyebrow (did he ever react any other way?), while Daniel was sitting back with a stunned look on his face.

"So, who's the father?" Daniel asked. He blinked a few times and turned a wide-eyed look at Jack. "It's you, isn't it? The virus of the touched."

"Yeah," Jack said quietly. He focused on a point about two feet to the right of Daniel and one above him.

"That's ... I don't know if congratulations are in order or not," Daniel said. "Is she going to keep it? Where is she?"

"Don't know," Jack said. "She only found out this morning. She was in pretty bad shape. I sent her home to rest and think."

"I do not understand, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said. "What do you mean by 'keep it'?"

"We have a medical procedure called abortion, which can terminate a pregnancy if the mother doesn't want it," Daniel explained. "The fetus-the unborn baby-is taken out and the mother can then get back to her normal life."

"You have an artificial womb, then, in which the "fetus" grows to maturity?"

Jack snorted. "No. It's killed as part of the 'procedure.'"

"And this is not counted as murder?"

"Not legally." Daniel sighed. "It has to do with what you consider "alive" and what you don't. Since the fetus can't survive on its own until it's almost ready to be born, many people don't consider it alive until that point. That's the position that the pro-choice advocates-those who support legal abortions-take. Then you have other people (we call them pro-life) who believe that life begins at the point of conception and that abortion is murder. Most people are somewhere in between those two extremes; some approve of the choice being available but wouldn't choose to do it themselves. I have no idea what Sam thinks, as it's never come up in conversation."

"And you have no say in this decision, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked. His frown had deepened throughout Daniel's explanation.

"It's her body. Her right to chose." Jack looked down at the table, then up to a spot over Teal'c's shoulder. "If we were married, or even really a couple, I'd have a bit more input, but ... that's the whole point of the abortion advocates. It's the woman's right to chose because she's the person most affected by it."

"But the child is equally the father's responsibility, both in its creation and in the responsibility to protect it. Should not he then have a right to protect it from this 'abortion'?"

Daniel shook his head. "The law doesn't see it that way, Teal'c. Part of the reason the whole issue arose was because of the inequality between men and women in society. It's getting better, but there is still discrimination against women in a lot of areas, and there are also a lot of patriarchal currents in many relationships. Giving the choice to the woman is a way of counter-balancing that."

Jack snorted. "Yeah, that's what the feminists say. I heard once that more men are 'pro-choice' than women." Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "That way, they can screw around and not get stuck with the responsibility for whatever 'accidents' happen," Jack explained.

"But given the choice, you would not choose to kill this child?" Teal'c said.

"No. Not unless Sam was put in danger because of it."

"Well, abortion or not, what happens next?" Daniel asked, changing the subject.

"I don't know that, either," Jack admitted. "A lot will depend on the way Hammond decides to handle the whole situation. Frasier's talking with him now. I'm surprised they haven't paged me to join them yet, it's been a while."

What had she been thinking? She didn't know anything about babies! They cried, they stank, they broke things, they were annoying, and Sam had never even babysat as a kid. How the hell was she supposed to take care of one of her own? Going off on missions and leaving the kid at home with someone else? Yeah, right! There was something growing inside her, right now, taking her body and using it to survive and mature. The image of Teal'c's symbiote, seen briefly on the retreat to the gate on Chulak, flashed through her head and she blanched. Eew. All the pregnancy horror stories she'd ever heard danced through her head. Nine months of hell followed by even worse: labor. Aunt Marcia had mentioned once that Sam's mom had been in labor for almost nine hours with Mark. Nine! Sam was tough, but that sounded like a bit much to her. Maybe she should just get rid of it now. If she did that, she wouldn't even have to tell Dad. Now there was an attractive thought.

And the Colonel. Sure, he said he'd be "there for her," but what did he mean by that? It was a pretty vague statement! How many times had Jonas promised something like that, and then shrugged it off later? Had he ever kept one of those vaguely reassuring promises? Not that Sam could recall. Even if the colonel meant it now, would he be so attentive when she actually needed something? And a recently-divorced man whose only other child to date had shot himself, a smart-ass black ops officer who'd be constantly away on missions, whose file was so black she had no clue even where he'd been stationed prior to this project, didn't make the greatest case for a father. She barely knew the man! He was physically attractive, yes; she liked what she knew of him, yes; but she tended to go for the weirdoes and the lunatic fringe, so the fact that she liked him and found him attractive wasn't the greatest character reference.

Why hadn't they called her yet? She'd had time to drive home and unpack and arrange virtually every box she'd had left, and still they hadn't called. She couldn't stop her mind from spinning in circles long enough to get into any of her books, and TV? Forget about it! What she really wanted to do was go for a jog to blow off some steam, but she'd forgotten her cell phone back on the base and she needed to be near a phone when the colonel called. What was taking them so long?

The phone rang, and she practically dove for it. "Carter." She sat down on a battered-but-comfortable old blue armchair, one of the few pieces of furniture she'd brought from DC. Sam didn't want to be standing for any big surprises. Not on this subject.

"Apparently Doc Frasier's been having a heart-to-heart with General Hammond for the last two hours." It was Colonel O'Neill-Jack-her CO, at least for the moment. That helped put things back in perspective. Even if her life was falling apart at the seams, she could always rely on military courtesy and regulations.

"Have they come to any decisions, sir?" she asked.

"Dunno. They've both clammed up. There's a briefing, tomorrow, with everyone in our ... situation. 1100 hours."

"I'll be there."

"Yeah." There was an uncomfortable pause. "Sam? How're you doing? I mean, personally?"

Sam hesitated. "I'm fine, sir," she said neutrally.

After another awkward moment, he said good-bye and hung up

Sam rode down in the elevator the next morning, not sure if the queasiness in her stomach was due to nerves or morning sickness. No, everyone hadn't been staring at her at the parking lot and the security checkpoints; no one but herself, Doctor Frasier, General Hammond, and Colonel O'Neill knew she was pregnant. Frasier had medical confidentiality, Hammond didn't gossip, and Jack surely wouldn't say anything until they'd at least had time to talk. It would be a while before she began to show, and even if she decided to keep it she'd have a while to get used to the idea and figure out how she was handling it. Today would be like any other day, and thank God. She didn't think she could handle any external stress on top of all the internal stress the news had brought without ripping someone a new one. She just hoped Jack wouldn't turn into an overprotective male and hover over her all day. The elevator came to a stop and she half-expected him to be there waiting to escort her to breakfast. The doors opened.

O'Neill wasn't there. Daniel and Teal'c were.

"Daniel. Teal'c." She exited the elevator and eyed them warily. "What are you doing here?"

"Oh, well, we were doing a bit of a language lesson this morning, and wanted to take a break, and realized that you usually get here about this time in the morning, and wondered if you'd like to join us for breakfast?" Daniel gave her his charming, puppy-dog smile.

Sam felt some of her tension easing away. She was just being paranoid. Of course they didn't know about it. They were just being friendly to a teammate. "Thanks for the offer, guys, but I had some toast and coffee before coming in, so I think I'll take a rain check."

Teal'c lifted an eyebrow and glanced at Daniel.

"It means she doesn't want to do it today, but may at some point in the future," he explained.

Teal'c frowned. "Surely, you should eat more healthfully during this time of gesta-"

Sam felt her smile freeze and cut Teal'c off with an abrupt gesture. "Can we talk about this in my lab, please?" She was extremely glad she'd been alone on the elevator and that there wasn't anyone in sight; no one could have overheard it. That was assuming he hadn't gossiped it to the whole base. She was going to kill Colonel O'Neill. She was. It would be slow, and painful.

She stalked off to her office, the guys trailing behind. When they arrived, she gestured them in before her and shut the blast door. It made two days in a row. Much more of this and she was going to get a reputation as a recluse. Either that, or a reputation as loose; both times, she'd been alone with handsome men.

"So, what did Jack tell you," she asked, arms folded across her chest.

"That you're pregnant," Daniel said, seemingly oblivious to her anger.

"He also said that you may be considering killing the child with a procedure known as 'abortion.'" The Jaffa's distaste was obvious. "I do not understand why such a procedure is not counted as murder."

"Yeah, well that depends on your definition of 'alive,' Teal'c," Sam shot back. "Right now the 'child' is nothing more than a group of cells no bigger than the tip of a pen. No brain, no heart, no lungs, no muscle, no bones, just a lump of cells. And whether I'm considering it or not, the colonel should have been discussing the subject with me, not his buddies. I thought it was reasonable to assume we'd make any decisions together about what was happening and when we were going to announce things if we decide to keep it. Silly me! What was I thinking? I'm only carrying it, after all. Why should he ask me?" She clamped her lips together to prevent anything more from spilling out. It wasn't their fault that Jack wasn't here to yell at, after all. Or that he'd been an ass.

"Jack didn't ask your permission before telling us?" Daniel frowned.

"No," Sam bit off, "he didn't. I found out I was pregnant, I told him, he sent me home to rest. That is the sum total of our conversation about this. God, I'd hoped to at least have a day or two to get used to this myself before the whole base started gossiping about it!"

Daniel raised his hands in placation. "I'm pretty sure we were the only ones he told, Sam. I know I haven't told anyone-have you, Teal'c?"

"I have not."

"There, you see? It's not the whole base, just us. I won't say anything about it until you give permission, and, uh," Daniel glanced sideways at Teal'c, "I don't think Teal'c gossips."

Teal'c raised an eyebrow, but said nothing; Sam cracked a smile at the thought of the stoic warrior gossiping.

"Anyway, don't be to hard on Jack," Daniel continued. "We found him in the cafeteria and it was pretty obvious that something was wrong with him-I mean, he had a piece of pie and a report with him, like always, but he was just kind of staring off into space, like he was in shock or something. So we made him tell us what he was wrong. He did insist we go someplace private." Daniel watched her anxiously, but his defense had just gotten her mad, again.

"How kind of him," Sam bit out. "He was in shock? That's his excuse? Well, then maybe he's the one who should have been sent home like an invalid, not me."

Daniel opened his mouth, presumably to defend his friend, but Sam cut him off. "Don't, Daniel. Just ... don't. I don't want to hear it."

"Okay." Daniel nodded. "Is ... there anything we can do to help, Sam?"

"No. Wait, yes there is." Sam paused until she was sure she had their attention. "You can go on treating me like normal. I'm pregnant, not sick or crazy or stupid. I'm a big girl now. I've been feeding myself for a long time."

"You're sure that's all?" Daniel asked.


"Okay." He nodded. "You know we're here if you do need anything, right?" At her nod, he turned to Teal'c. "I suppose that means we should go and let her get to work."

The Jaffa gave her a slight bow and turned to follow Daniel out the door. She followed them to them to the door, meaning to find Jack and chew him out. This was why people who were involved shouldn't be in the same chain of command.

"Did she seem weird, to you?" she heard Daniel ask faintly as he and Teal'c walked away.

"Jaffa women in that condition are often ... turbulent to be around. Do not women of the Tau'ri share this-"

The rest of his words were lost as they turned a corner, and Sam sagged back against the wall. Holy Hannah, were the hormones messing her up already?

"Oh, sir, I was hoping I'd run into you." Jack paused when he heard the familiar voice. "Yes, Captain?" he asked as he turned to face her. He'd been wandering the halls, killing time and trying to distract himself.

"About what we discussed yesterday," she said, blue eyes boring straight into him. Was she planning on discussing this in the hall for everyone to hear?


"It is a personal matter, and I'd prefer if you didn't discuss it with others unless you ask me first." She smiled tightly, a look that was oddly familiar, though he couldn't place it.

"Um, of course," he said, when he realized she was waiting for an answer.

"Thanks," she said, giving him the same smile before brushing past him again.

He watched her walk off. She had a great butt, but her legs were the stuff that dreams are made of. Literally. The feel of them around him came back to him in a rush, momentarily. He shook it off and went looking for a cold shower.

It wasn't until later, as he was settled at one of the tables in the cafeteria with some Jell-O and a stack of paperwork that he remembered where he knew that smile from. Sarah had used one just like it when she was angry with him but couldn't yell at him because they were in public.

After the ordeal of confronting the Colonel while still staying within the bounds of military propriety, Sam escaped back to her lab, where she pretended to work. She did try, really she did, but it was no use. The thought of what she was turning into, combined with anticipation of the meeting to come, left her queasier than what had been normal the last few weeks.

"Hey." Her reverie was broken by a soft call. She turned to see Dr. Jackson leaning against the doorway.

"Am I intruding?" he asked.

"Not really," she said, grateful for the distraction from her own thoughts. And it really wasn't Daniel's fault Jack had been stupid.

"I'm not trying to treat you any different or coddle you or anything, I just wanted to see if you needed to talk with someone." Daniel walked in and sat on the stool across her worktable. He gave his head a slight shake to get the hair out of his eyes; working in the military, Sam didn't often meet guys whose hair was longer than hers. "I know Jack's not really big on communication, not about emotional stuff, unless he's right on the edge. And I figured you hadn't had time to make any good friends since you moved here. So if there's anything you need to get off your chest, I'm here for you."

Sam looked at him thoughtfully. He was a nice guy, and since he wasn't in the military, she didn't have to watch what she said in the same way. "Okay." She pointed to the stool across from her.

Jack and Teal'c were on the shooting range. Teal'c preferred his staff weapon to anything the humans had, and Jack wasn't going to make him give it up despite his personal views on its accuracy, range, and rate of fire, but he still needed to be familiar with his comrades' weapons in case of emergency. You couldn't let your attention wander when using firearms, so it was a great way for Jack to keep his mind off the coming meeting. At least, that had been the idea.

"O'Neill." Jack lowered his weapon and turned to face the bigger man, removing the safety glasses and ear protectors as he did so. Teal'c had already removed his, and held his weapon down at his side. He'd remembered to put the safety catch on, Jack saw, not that he'd expected anything less. Still, it never hurt to check.


"You seem distracted."

"I dunno-" One look from the Jaffa silenced him. Jack still didn't know much about interpreting the alien's mood, but the guy had presence. And he didn't take crap often.

"Yeah, I am."

"Is it caused by the choice Captain Carter has to make?"

"Sort of." Jack turned to go back to his shooting, but Teal'c stood there, impassive as ever, and watched him. Jack didn't think he'd press it if Jack was unwilling to talk, but they'd both know he had avoided the subject, and he had the weird feeling T would be disappointed in him. It was the damndest thing; the guy looked younger than Daniel, but Jack kept getting these flashes where it felt like he was just a kid in Teal'c's presence. He sighed.

"Probably the single worst moment of my life was standing in the front lawn with Sara, hearing the gunshot from the house." He didn't turn to look at Teal'c again.

There was a silence as Teal'c considered this. "I am certain that Captain Carter will make the right choice in the end," he said at last. The two stood in companionable silence for some time. Jack took comfort in his friend's certainty.

Sam shook her head. "No, Dad would never understand. He's been a career officer all his life; the Air Force is what he lives for, and has been since Mom died. He might not even accept this if he knew the whole circumstances. Which I can't tell him, because it's classified. Pregnant with my CO's baby?" She checked her watch.

"Is it time for you to go up?" Daniel asked.

"Yeah." Sam stood up and stretched. "This is one meeting I really don't want to be late for." She gave him a half smile. "Thanks for listening."

"Any time." Daniel returned her smile and stood up. "I'll walk you up there, if you'd like?"

"Sure." Sam was grateful for his support, though she was kind of hurt that it was a teammate instead of the father of her child who was the one to give it. She hadn't seen ... Jack ... since their confrontation, and he'd hardly said two words to her then. This whole thing would be so much easier, and not just professionally, if Daniel were the father.

Part 2/5
Part 3/5
Part 4/5
Part 5/5

(no subject)

Date: 2006-05-13 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I liked that piece where Jack muses about promotions - it was real. How do you know all that? I personally don't know the first thing about military.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-05-13 10:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ah, I thought that came from real life. I liked also the piece where Sam and Jack discussed which church to chose (in some other chapter) - it felt real. My friends had the same problem two years ago. But I could hardly picture those particular characters talking about it. I have gravest suspicion that they use the name of God as some lucky charm - not more than that.

Rechecked post size limits - 60K characters with spaces, 50K without, between 10 and 11 K-words.

Just saw your Lee Adama story in my dream. Those Cylons were not as nice to him as in your story, but they were very rational, so I didn't like them less.

(no subject)

Date: 2006-05-14 05:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That was... weird...


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