by Suz email@example.com
Disclaimer – MGM/Gekko/Double secret own them.
Spoilers for ‘Cold Lazarus’, ‘Small Victories’, ‘Divide and Conquer’, ‘Between Two Fires’, ‘2001’, and ‘Desperate Measures’. A ‘Desperate Measures’ episode addition.
It always kind of bugged me that we didn’t get to see their reaction (all right – Jack’s reaction) when he first realised Carter was missing. Therefore, this is set after the teaser, but before act one (somewhere in the opening titles then).
There was no doubt about it; he was bored. He knew the perfect on-base remedy of course, but as he slowly strolled along the corridor with his hands casually slung into his pockets, he couldn’t help but wonder if it was such a good idea.
Things had been rather...difficult, last year. The situation had gotten out of hand on more than one occasion – though he took some kind of solace in the fact that it was usually through no fault of his own – and these last few months he’d been making a concerted effort to try and take things back to the way they were before...
Strange how life could be broken into segments, and described in terms of being either before or after pivotal events.
Before Sara. After Sara.
Before Charlie. After Charlie.
Before SG-1. After SG-1.
Before Anise and that stupid purple, damned inconvenient machine...
Not that they really could go back to before that – not entirely. But they could try.
Still, he was a human being. Much as he was loath to admit it he did have feelings, and he was worried about her. She’d had a hell of a year already, and within the last few weeks alone she’d lost two people she cared about (loath as he was to admit that, too).
Wasn’t he allowed one tiny moment of weakness? He was bored, he was worried, and under the guise of chasing after her latest mission report, he was planning to amble into her lab and try to ascertain if she was all right without actually asking if she was all right.
Yeah, he thought as his feet covered the last few yards to her lab. Just that. Nothing big.
She wasn’t there.
There was no typing on a laptop – in fact no laptop at all. It didn’t even seem as if any of the machines around the edge of her lab had been switched on, although his only proof for that was the fact that none of the blinky lights were blinking.
Okay. Maybe she just hadn’t gone to her lab yet. Maybe she wasn’t feeling well...
The infirmary was his next stop. Catching an elevator to level twenty-one, he soon strode into the much feared and much memorised room. For once it appeared Fraiser had no victims; every single bed was empty, and no one was sitting there wearing a pained expression.
Well, except for him. But that always happened around doctors.
He jumped, and tried to cover it up. Man, how did she always manage to sneak up on him like that? Especially in *those* shoes... “Doc,”
She smiled, apparently eager to have someone to help. “What can I do for you? Are you feeling okay?”
“Oh fine, fine,” He insisted quickly before she got needle happy. “I was just wondering if you’d seen Carter.”
Her frown wasn’t the response he was looking for.
Damn. “I haven’t seen her yet and wanted to discuss her latest mission report, but she’s not in her lab. Looked like she hadn’t even arrived yet. I thought maybe you might know something, or she wasn’t feeling well...”
Fraiser shook her head, still frowning. “No sir. The last time I saw her was just before finishing on Friday. She certainly didn’t mention anything about planning on being late this morning. Have you tried calling her house?” Even as she spoke she started moving towards the phone hanging on the infirmary wall.
“Not yet,” Jack admitted sheepishly. “That was gonna be my next course of action.”
Not responding, Fraiser picked up the phone, activated an external line and rattled off Carter’s number.
For several infuriating moments she waited, her obvious impatience building with each passing second.
Then, a sign of hope – she smiled.
Followed just as rapidly by a disappointed lowering of her shoulders, and a sigh as she spoke into the phone. “Hey Sam, it’s Janet. Just checking up to make sure you’re okay. Give me a call as soon as you get this message, all right? ‘Bye.” Done, she promptly hung up.
Crap. “No need to worry,” Jack found himself telling her, even as her hand remained wrapped around the phone and his own hands clenched inside his pockets. “There’s still a lot of base left to investigate. I’m sure she’s fine.”
He wasn’t sure which of the two of them needed the most convincing.
The gym was close by and he knew Teal’c would be there doing his usual morning exercises, so that was Jack’s next port of call.
As expected his buddy was in there, on a mat, slowly performing his weird Jaffa Tai Chi stuff. Currently, his right arm was moving down in a sweeping movement.
The sweeping continued, though his body pivoted to the left, moving the arm with it. “O’Neill. Are you well?”
“I’m just fine, Teal’c. Thanks for asking. You?” He tried not to sound impatient, but he was fooling nobody.
Now that the sweeping had finished a new movement started, which mostly seemed to consist of Teal’c crouching down and pushing both hands away from his body. “I am also fine. May I assist you in some way?”
Finally. “Actually, I was just wondering if you’d seen Carter this morning.”
“I have not.”
By this point, Jack wasn’t getting surprised. The only thing he *was* getting was increasingly worried. But there was still no need to think the worst. “She’s not in her lab, she’s not at home...” Or if she was she wasn’t picking up... “Fraiser hasn’t seen her.” Teal’c’s Tai Chi-ing stopped and he turned to look at Jack, his concern obvious. “Well, still plenty of places to look.”
“Please let me know if I can help,”
“Of course, Teal’c. I’m sure it’s nothing.”
It had to be.
The SGC was a big place – she could be on any one of twenty-eight floors. The simplest solution would be to go and visit the security guys at the entrance – they’d know for sure whether she’d turned up. But, Daniel’s office was only a couple of floors away. He’d pop in there on the way. Just to check.
Leaving the gym his pace increased, his hands slipping out of his pockets.
“No I haven’t,” Daniel murmured, not really paying attention to anything Jack was saying. He was currently fascinated by the contents of his own bookshelf – although Jack couldn’t figure out why. And given his current project, he didn’t particularly care.
Pausing, two fingers of his right hand splaying against the spine of a really *big* book, Daniel half-turned, frowning. “Yeah. Why?”
“I can’t find her.” It was an old story by now, but Jack was nowhere near sick of telling it. “She’s not picking up at home, I can’t find anyone who’s seen her...”
Daniel’s fingers fell away from the book. “That’s weird. It’s not like Sam not to come in to work. Even if one of her legs suddenly snapped off, she’d drag herself in.”
“Yes, *thank* you Daniel.” That was the thought he’d been trying *not* to have. Throwing his hands up in the air, he turned away. “I’m going to check out security, see if she’s come in for sure. I’ll keep you updated.”
Realistically, the guys at security control had been extremely helpful.
Jack had still wanted to punch their faces in. All they could tell him was that the last time Carter’s pass had been used was Friday evening when she left, and she certainly hadn’t passed anyone at security since.
It wasn’t that he disbelieved them, but Jack visited a few more places anyway – the commissary, the locker room, the MALP room, the gate room, the control room, the briefing room – interviewing and investigating almost everyone he came across.
Finally, when Sergeant Davis told him that he hadn’t seen her since last week, he knew that it was time to move the search up a level.
Jogging up to Hammond’s door, he knocked loudly. On the way he’d done some internal debating and decided this wasn’t going too far – he’d do exactly the same for any member of his team at this point. Any team leader would.
Jack did, grabbing the handle and pushing the door open, stepping into his commanding officer’s territory.
General Hammond looked up from his desk, smiling. “Colonel, what can I-?”
“Carter’s missing.” Okay. Nice job. Now he just had to rein it back a bit. He continued talking before Hammond had a chance to say a thing. “No one on base has seen her since Friday, security confirms that she hasn’t swiped in this morning, and there’s no answer on either her home or cell phones.”
He’d made a few more calls himself, just to check. Heck – he’d made ten more calls.
Hammond didn’t need to hear anything else, much to Jack’s relief. Both of them knew it could be as simple as her car breaking down and cell battery running out of power, but given their line of work anything was possible. “I’ll send someone round to her house.” He was already picking up the phone.
Jack nodded, fighting the urge to volunteer his services, his fingers drumming against his thighs. “Thank you sir.”
She’d be fine. She had to be.
The interminable twenty-five minute wait in Hammond’s office was finally broken by the sound of the telephone ringing.
Picking up the familiar red handset, the General lifted it up to his ear. “Hammond.” A pause. “Yes. You’re sure?” Another pause. “And the...I see. Very well. Thank you, Sergeant.”
As he hung up Jack watched him expectantly, shifting in the chair he’d been fidgeting in for almost half an hour.
Sighing, Hammond spoke. “Her car isn’t at home, neither is she, and there’s no sign whatsoever of foul play. As per my request they also kept tabs on breakdown calls. None of the calls today relate to Major Carter.”
Jack stopped fidgeting, not liking a single word that had come out of Hammond’s mouth. He had to do something, and there was only one place to go from here...he pushed his body up, not really seeing anything. “I’ll start calling hospitals. Guess we should get the police involved too...”
He couldn’t see anything at all. “Sir?”
“Get your team to help.”
And then the sound of the phone being lifted again.
Hours. Hours of waiting and calling, of “No Samantha Carter’s” or “No Jane Doe’s of that description”, hours of imagining her lying in a ditch with a broken neck, of her car being picked up by a freak tornado, of hoping that Thor suddenly decided they needed another stupid idea and not bothering to mention it to anyone.
That was the thought he liked most.
He and Teal’c had come up empty. The big guy had been helping him make calls, investigating, occasionally losing it and *demanding* (him, obviously – not Teal’c).
All for nothing. All to discover nothing.
Daniel was off doing his part, and hours ago Hammond had sent a team to Carter’s place for a thorough investigation. It may have seemed like overkill, but she worked at the most secret facility on the face of the planet. Chances couldn’t be taken.
And she was one of their own. They’d do whatever they had to.
So now there was nothing else to do, except more waiting. He did, at least, have company in the shape of Teal’c, although Jack really wasn’t in the right mood for company of any kind.
Still, quiet, he sat on the end of the briefing table closest to Hammond’s office, waiting for news. Teal’c sat to his right, using a chair like any sane person would.
The Jaffa spoke. “She will be found alive and well, O’Neill.”
Jack didn’t look at him, focusing on the beige wall, then his hands. “You can’t know that.” As nice a sentiment as it was.
“I have great belief in her abilities.”
“We *all* have great belief in her abilities, Teal’c. This isn’t about that.”
“I may be incorrect,” Teal’c pressed on. “But as I understand it we currently have no proof that anything has happened to her.”
“That’s proof enough in itself,” Jack snorted, letting the leg that wasn’t braced against the floor swing through the air. “It’s a little too clean.” He’d seen this kind of thing before. Logically he knew Teal’c had a point – there was nothing that actually said anything bad had happened to her, but...
He just knew.
Call it instinct, intuition, paranoia...
They both fell silent, and Jack finally threw a glance towards his friend.
Teal’c was twiddling his thumbs.
Had it been any other day, Jack might have smirked. Not quite the stoic guy he sometimes wanted to be, huh?
His gaze moved back to his own hands. Still. Unmoving. Silent panicking.
The General appeared, moving out of his office. Jack immediately stood, turning to meet him at the head of the table.
“The forensic team found nothing at her house,” Hammond announced, delivering news that was of no surprise to Jack. “According to one of the neighbours Major Carter got into her car and left about eight thirty Saturday morning.”
God, Saturday. He’d been hoping that if something *had* happened to her, it would have only been earlier that morning – not two days ago... “That’s over forty-eight hours.”
He knew how much could happen in forty-eight hours.
Daniel drew his attention next, walking in from the corridor, holding paperwork in his left hand. He didn’t look any happier than the rest of them. “The police found Sam’s car in a parking lot outside a fitness club twelve blocks from her house.”
That was it? That couldn’t be it. “Anything else?”
He shook his head. “No witnesses.”
Jack had nothing left to try, nothing left to do but go out there himself. He looked at his superior officer, the words unnecessary.
“We have no jurisdiction outside this facility, Colonel,” Hammond reminded him, speaking in the softest tone Jack had heard for quite some time.
So much for pretending everything was the way it had been before...
He had to move. He had to go after her.
“I know. We can still look, can’t we?”
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