Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.
Episode addition for 'Spirits'. What happens while Carter & Co are on the planet?
Spoilers for 'Singularity', 'Politics' and 'Spirits'.
Major General George Hammond was walking. It was only 1pm, and he certainly had paperwork to complete, but instead he was prowling the base. He passed SGC members frequently, and whenever he passed someone - sometimes out of duty, sometimes just out of respect - they'd acknowledge him. Some would snap to attention, some would nod, some would smile, some would murmur his rank, and some of them would even salute. Usually the new members; those eager to impress or trying to brown nose their way into his good books.
Not a single one of them grinned sardonically, made a sarcastic comment, or said something - anything - just to test his patience, just to test how far he could be pushed.
No, the only person who did that was in the infirmary. Again. Yet another casualty of their continuing sojourn through the universe.
At least it wasn't life threatening.
George couldn't help but wonder at times if it was worth it. So many times team members came back injured, or worse. There had been occasions where they'd lost entire teams in one fell swoop, and each time it happened a new stone appeared in his stomach, weighing him down with the knowledge that once again someone who worked for him - someone who was his responsibility - had failed to come back alive.
He could only hope that wasn't what had happened to the missing team members SG-1 had gone to find.
He'd stopped counting the letters of condolence he'd become worryingly accustomed to typing out. Worst of all, they'd actually provided him with a template: a basic 'sorry your son/daughter/relative is dead, but I can't tell you how it happened' letter.
He'd torn it up, shredded it, and had seriously considered putting it in a blender just for good measure.
While they were here, while he was in charge, and while they were still trying to protect Earth, he'd damned well make sure that not a single one of those letters was formulaic. He'd type every damn one up himself.
Feeling strangely tight throated, he cleared said throat and found that his meanderings had brought him to the elevator. He didn't know why he was surprised. He'd known somehow where he was going all along.
Swiping his card through the reader, he stepped into the elevator and pressed the button for floor twenty-one.
He knew why he was feeling melancholy, of course. The Waiting Game. It happened every time a team went off world, especially SG-1. Waiting to see if they made it back okay. Waiting to see if anyone was hurt. Just waiting...
It shouldn't have been worse with SG-1. He should have treated them the same as any other team. The other eleven teams were no less valid, no less important; the loss of any of those people shouldn't be easier to accept than the idea of losing anyone in SG 1.
Yet more often than not - despite his internal arguments - he'd find himself waiting in the control room or at the bottom of the ramp when he knew it was SG-1 who were returning. Waiting to either smile encouragingly or order a medical team to the gate room, hoping to whomever was listening that it wouldn't be the latter.
Maybe he was simply always there because they seemed to find trouble more often than any of the other SG teams. Though they had yet to lose a member (despite Dr Jackson's various attempts at getting himself killed), they'd been drugged, attacked, shot at and endangered more than any other team.
Had he been in the habit of indulging in denial, he probably would have convinced himself that was the only reason.
The elevator doors opened. Surprised to find himself on level twenty-one already (where did those seven floors go?) he stepped into the corridor, nodded at the airman who was entering the elevator and continued the course that was far, far too familiar.
Lately during The Waiting Game, he'd developed the habit of seeking out Dr Fraiser. He wasn't sure when it had started because he really hadn't been paying close attention, but he suspected he'd starting doing it after the project had been shut down by Senator Kinsey and then miraculously resurrected. As if they both knew without realising it just how close they'd come to losing this unique workplace, they'd taken the next tentative steps towards friendship.
He had long respected Dr Fraiser, but she was a colleague first and foremost. That was starting to change.
Provided she wasn't busy with patients herself, during The Waiting Game she kept him updated on Cassandra, her life in general, and the gossip on base that he wasn't supposed to know about.
The less said about that gossip, the better.
Of course, Dr Fraiser - Janet - wasn't on base today. She was off shopping with Cassandra in celebration of the fact that her 'adoption' was finally official. Or official as these things could get in their strange situation.
He chuckled to himself. This was a hell of a place to work.
Reaching the infirmary, he paused in the doorway and studied the man - the only patient in the room - lying on the bed.
He was obviously bored. Dr Warner had given a report earlier, and though the doctor had said nothing specific about his behaviour, the definite implication that he was getting on Warner's nerves was there.
Of course, Warner didn't need to say anything. Anyone who knew Jack O'Neill knew that he'd be bored. Today of all days.
Hammond slowly walked in, waiting for the moment when O'Neill would notice him. He seemed particularly enthralled with whatever thoughts he was having, so George took the opportunity to study him.
He sighed, fidgeted, and drummed his fingers, somehow managing to do all at once. Then he saw him.
O'Neill immediately started to sit up, and George had the feeling that if he hadn't waved him to ease then the injured man would have stood up even if it meant falling over afterwards. "It's all right, Colonel. How's the arm?"
O'Neill glanced towards the arm in question - the right one - which was expertly bandaged. Though they had been assured there would be no permanent damage, whenever George thought of that trinium arrow going through Jack's arm it was all he could do not to wince.
All he could do was enough.
"Oh, about as you'd expect," Jack shrugged, then winced himself as the movement pulled unexpectedly as his arm. "They say they'll actually let me out of here sometime today - although I'll probably need a sling. Of course I'm dying to get out of here. It's not like I can even tease Fraiser...no offence to Doc Warner." He glanced about as if concerned about offending anyone, but the only person in the room with them at the moment was a nurse who was trying not to pay attention to their conversation.
Hammond understood how Jack felt. Not to imply that Dr Warner was any less qualified than Dr Fraiser - in fact in certain areas he was more qualified - but all the same, he wasn't Dr Fraiser. She left a distinctive mark in the infirmary that no one else could quite match.
George hadn't realised he'd been nodding for at least ten seconds when Jack spoke again.
"Was there something else you wanted, sir?"
Clearly the Colonel was developing a psychic ability. Using that ability himself, George looked towards the nurse who instantly got the message. She scurried out of the room, leaving them alone.
This wasn't private. Not really. But it would probably make it easier without an audience. Jack O'Neill wasn't someone who opened up easily.
Pulling a chair to the side of Jack's bed, Hammond sat down. "Actually, I wanted to ask how you're doing, son."
O'Neill looked completely flummoxed. "Sir?"
"This is the first time you've been left behind," Hammond continued. "I know it's bothering you."
Jack looked surprised, but quickly tried to shrug it off. "It's not so bad. I don't have to listen to Daniel babble about some ancient culture, so that's definitely a plus."
Grinning with something approaching understanding, Hammond nodded.
The Colonel continued, glancing down and showing uncharacteristic vulnerability...just for a second. "It's just...I feel like I should be there, you know?"
Indeed he did. It was a sentiment that George was all too aware of, and shared on many occasions. Before he could say that, Jack spoke again.
"I mean, I'm the leader for crying out loud! I should be there to...you know...lead."
"Do you doubt Captain Carter's ability to command?"
"Of course not, don't be ridiculous!"
Good. He didn't seriously believe the idea when he'd asked the question, but it was definitely good to know that. "Glad to hear it."
"Actually," Jack grinned mirthlessly, "I never thought I'd say this eighteen months ago, but making her my 2IC was probably the best decision you've ever made. Besides giving me command of SG-1, that is."
Ignoring the trademark O'Neill sarcasm, George found himself intrigued by Jack's confession. "Well, she was the only person who'd spent so long working on certain aspects of the Stargate."
The floodgates had opened. "I guess it's just lucky she turned out to be the perfect 2IC, too."
Oh...this he had not been expecting. Maybe this wasn't the best time for Colonel O'Neill to discuss the finer points of Captain Carter. Maybe it was best that he never did. "Of course, if it wasn't for a certain Colonel having a tendency for disobeying orders, it could well be said that SG-1 is the perfect team."
O'Neill lifted his eyebrows. "I can't imagine who you're talking about sir."
"Of course not," George responded dryly.
Warner made his appearance then, walking into the infirmary with a clipboard in his hand. "General, Colonel."
"So what's the news, doc? Can I get out of here yet?"
Warner nodded. "You can leave Colonel, in just a little while. The test results came back as we hoped. I'll finish fixing up your arm and then you can go."
"Great!" Jack grinned fully - genuinely - for the first time that day.
And suddenly George understood.
O'Neill was lonely.
Warner moved elsewhere in the infirmary, presumably to get supplies, so Hammond faced Jack. "When you're done Colonel, I'm due in the commissary for something to eat. If you'd care to join me...?"
Again, O'Neill looked surprised, but it didn't last long. "I'd like that sir. Thank you."
Nodding, Hammond planted his palms on his legs and pushed himself up. "Good. See you shortly, Colonel."
"See you sir."
Leaving the infirmary, George smiled at the SF he passed in the corridor.
This was worth it, he thought.
This was definitely worth it.
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