Previous Chapter                    Chapter List

Rating: PG-13

Mild sexual references, UST.

Revision Notes

 

Sam pressed a few files against her chest as she walked with Janet towards the food stand for lunch. The wind was still chilly, but the weather grew milder with every passing day.

In two days they’d begin Stargate operations again and the final preparations were almost finished. The generators were hooked up and maintained, weapons and equipment were ready, and the scientists had almost caught up with the workload. Ready to get new artifacts on their hands. She couldn’t be happier.

Her gaze shifted when a group of townsmen came walking up the narrow path that led up to their camp.

“What do they want?” She raised her eyebrows at Janet.

“They’re probably delivering the last shipment of technology from Powhatan.” The doctor shrugged.

When she recognized the man walking at the head of the group, she froze, her eyes widening. No way, that couldn’t be. Dad!

What the hell was her father doing here? At Antarctica? In a resistance camp? Oh God, had they been found out by the Aschen? But why was everybody greeting him like an old friend?

Please don’t let him see me. Too late. He walked straight toward her up the hill, and then his gaze met hers and he faltered in his step, his jaw dropping.

“Crap.” Sam turned and hurried uphill towards the command tent, leaving Janet standing.

“Sam? What’s the matter? Where are you going?” Janet called after her.

She didn’t answer. This was bad, really bad. There was no way she could still keep her real identity hidden now. Better O’Neill learned the truth from her than her dad.

She stormed into the command tent, ignoring the protocol of announcing her presence first. “I need to talk to you, sir.” Breathless from running, she stopped in front of O’Neill’s desk.

He looked up and raised his eyebrows. “Carter. What’s wrong?”

She placed her files on the table and hurried around his desk. “Sir, I’ve been meaning to talk to you for a while now, but I couldn’t work up the nerve.”

“Oh?” He dropped his pen and turned to her.

“I don’t have another choice now, and I’m sorry it has to come out like this. You were right. I lied to you.” She stopped to catch her breath, while she held his gaze.

Face hardening, he got up. “Go on.”

“I’m not—”

She cut off when her father stormed into the tent. She didn’t even have to look to know it was him. Taking a deep breath, she winced.

O’Neill’s face lit up. “Jacob.”

Wait, what? They knew each other?

“So what, you’re just going to run from me for the rest of your life?” her father asked.

She closed her eyes. Undoubtedly that question was directed at her.

O’Neill cleared his throat and looked at her. “What’s going on?”

With a deep breath, she turned around to face her father.

His eyes flared, and he shook his head. “Do you even know what we’ve been through in the past nine months? Hell, at this point we assumed you were dead!”

“What’s going on? Carter?” O’Neill’s gaze shifted between her and her father. “Jacob?”

This content is property of http://www.kimberley-jackson.com.

Sam swallowed hard. “Dad, please.”

Great. The secret was out. No turning back now.

“Dad?” Jack stared at Carter, then turned his head to look at the older man in front of his desk. Sam Carter. Carter. This woman was Jacob’s daughter? How the hell was that possible?

“Jack.” Jacob folded his arms. “Don’t tell me she was here with you all along.”

Jack shook his head, incapable of forming words. Dad… He released a soft groan. If she was Jacob’s daughter… Wow. Carter was his wife. This beautiful, smart young woman was his wife…

The realization baffled him so much his mind blanked for a moment and stared at her. Then he cleared his throat. “Honestly, Jacob, I didn’t know she was your—”

“What do you mean, you didn’t know?” Jacob glared at him. “I described her to you, and her name was in the contract.”

The contract. Oh, crap. He turned to Carter. She wasn’t gonna be happy about this. She’d run away from home to get away from her ‘forced marriage’. This meant trouble. No doubt she’d be furious.

Unless… did she know who he was? Was that why she was here?

“Hey.” He turned back to Jacob. First things first. Maybe they could work the marriage thing in somewhat diplomatically. “I didn’t even know she’d run away until a few weeks ago. I met her in a pub up in Ireland. For God’s sake, how was I supposed to consider the possibility she might be your daughter?”

Another thought occurred to him. Damn, Carter had lied to him. And what a lie! She wasn’t from the damn West Coast, she was from Powhatan. He frowned at her. “She said she didn’t have any family left, for crying out loud. And look at her. I wouldn’t say she fits the description you gave me. For starters, you told me she had long blonde hair.”

Carter’s eyes widened as she shifted her gaze to him, and then she dropped her arms. Apparently she didn’t have any clue what they were talking about. Okay, so his theory of her being aware of their marriage was off the table. Shame.

“You told him you don’t have any family?” Jacob glared at his daughter.

“Dad, I’m sorry I worried you.” Her eyes blazed, the blue in them intensifying. “I tried to talk to you. You didn’t listen. You just gave your orders and expected me to follow them. You ordered me to marry a stranger, Dad. Did you really think I’d just accept it and go on with my life as if nothing had happened?”

To say that she’d be furious was probably the understatement of the century. Shit.

“So you just decided to leave everything behind and run away to join the resistance?” Jacob shook his head. “I can’t believe this. I guess I have to commend you on making it this far.”

Jack plopped back down into his chair. Was there any way to prevent the inevitable? “Okay, this is kinda screwed up…”

Jacob gave him a wry look. “You think, Jack? Well, at least one good thing came out of this.”

Oh, here it comes. Jack lifted his hands with a wince and shook his head at Jacob. Don’t finish that sentence.

Jacob folded his arms, apparently unaware of Jack’s gesture. “Maybe you won’t be quite so stubborn about the marriage anymore now that you know your husband. You two seem to get along quite well.”

Jack slapped his palms to his face with a groan. What the hell was wrong with that man? And Daniel told him he was insensitive? Sometimes, he wanted to shoot Jacob.

“My what?” Carter’s eyes narrowed. Jacob folded his arms and looked at Jack.

Jack shook his head. “You had to drop it like that, didn’t you?” Sighing, he turned to Carter.

“This is a joke, right?”

“Look, Carter.” Carter? Maybe a bit inappropriate given the situation. “Sam.” He got up and reached out to touch her upper arms.

She stepped back from him, shaking her head, looking at him as though she was seeing him for the first time. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Sam.” He scraped his hand through his hair. She looked as though her entire world had crumbled around her. He reached out to her, keeping his touch gentle, but she wrenched away from him as though he’d burned her. Her face became a mask of fury, desperation, and pain. He flinched. “You gotta believe me, I didn’t know you were—”

“Don’t you dare touch me.”

“Sam.”

“No. Don’t you ever touch me again.” She pressed her lips together and shook her head. “How could you agree to that? You of all people. After all you went through with your first wife? After all that we’ve…” Her voice broke and she blinked.

“Hey, I didn’t agree. At first.” This didn’t have to be a disaster. On the contrary. If only she’d let him explain. She was his wife. They could give their relationship a shot now. “This whole thing wasn’t even my idea. Your father assured me that he’d convince you—” Damn right, this whole thing was Jacob’s fault. He turned and glared at the older man. “You assured me she’d be okay with it.”

“I didn’t think she’d be this stubborn.” Jacob waved his hands at her. “Or that she’d run away. Hell, you’re the one who was with her for almost nine months. It didn’t occur to you once that she might be my daughter? I described her to you in detail.”

“You told me she had long hair. Besides, you never even informed me she was missing.” Jack’s voice rose in volume. Somehow they were moving in circles.

He froze, when next to him, Carter—no, Sam—released a chuckle.

“Well.” Sarcasm dripped from her voice. “I’m so sorry to disappoint you. I’m sorry I’m apparently more stubborn than my father advertised. And I’m sorry my physical features don’t meet your expectations.” She glared at him. If looks could kill… “You’re unbelievable. How dare you talk about me as if I were piece of meat to be bought and sold? You’re despicable. Both of you.”

She grabbed her files from his desk and marched toward the exit.

“Sam… wait.” His heart beat faster when she halted at the entrance. Maybe she’d come around… When she turned and locked her gaze with his, ice poured into his veins.

“Just so you know, I never signed any contract. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not married to anybody. Least of all to you. Sir.”

“Sam.”

She spun and left his tent without a backward glance. Jack stared at the tent flap, then scowled at Jacob. “Thanks for that. Couldn’t you at least give me the chance to bring up the marriage thing somewhat diplomatically?”

“You had nine months for that,” Jacob snapped.

“Oh for crying out loud, I didn’t know she was…” He closed his eyes and scratched his hand through his hair. This discussion was futile. It wouldn’t help in finding a solution for their problem. “Great, so now what?”

“What do you mean, now what? She’s your wife, Jack.”

Jack raised his eyebrows at his friend. What the hell was the matter with him?

“I’ll make clear to her that she’ll have to come to terms with the marriage if she wants to stay here and keep working at camp.”

“Hey, wait a minute.” He lifted his hands. “I don’t think pressuring her like that will help her deal with the situation.”

Jacob cocked his head and studied him for a moment. “You care about her.” As though that was a big revelation.

Jack cleared his throat. He really wasn’t in the mood to discuss his feelings for Carter with one of his oldest friends. Who was now his father-in law. Talk about awkward… “I value her. Both in the field, and as a person. She’s a brilliant asset to the resistance, and I wouldn’t be much of a commanding officer if I didn’t recognize and acknowledge her strengths.”

“Jack, please. Are you telling me, the way she just reacted, and the way you’re behaving now—”

“Let it go.” Sighing, Jack dropped back into his chair. “It doesn’t matter, cause thanks to you, she hates me now.”

“You agreed to sign the contract.”

“You came up with it in the first place. And you assured me she’d be okay with it.” He glared at him. “I won’t force her into this arrangement.”

“I don’t see a problem with that. I’m just happy to know she’s alive. If you two are friends, and you get along, you can talk about how to handle the contract. You still have over a year until the Aschen Ministry expects results.”

Results… What a rational way to phrase the baby issue. Since almost ten months had passed since they’d signed the contract, the Aschen Ministry would expect him to get Carter pregnant within the next year. He rubbed his fingers across his forehead. How the hell was he supposed to make this right?

Knowing Carter… He couldn’t picture her as a woman who’d agree to have children. And as things were, least of all with him.

Jacob sat down on one of the boxes. “Jack, we wanted to bring her into the resistance anyway, so this isn’t a bad thing. If she wants to stay and work in the sciences, I’m fine with that. I’d prefer it, though, if you refrained from using her in the field from now on. Surely you have other people who can go through the Stargate.”

He lifted his head. Jacob couldn’t be serious. No wonder Carter’d run away if he always made decisions for her like that. “I can’t do that. She’s part of my team.”

“Jack, she’s very smart. Surely, you can find a position in one of the science teams for her that is more tailored to her knowledge and where she’s less likely to get killed in an ambush.”

“She’s worked her ass off to get onto my team. She completed all the parts of the training and she was the one who came up with the new dial-in procedure for the Aschen computer.” Jack got up and frowned at him. “She’s resourceful and capable, and the resistance needs her. I need her. On my team.”

“She’s my daughter.” Jacob glowered at him. “What if this discussion were about your son? Would you be okay with me putting him on the front line?”

Why did he have to turn that around like that? Jack closed his eyes and shook his head. “Fine, I’ll think about it.”

This was just great. Having to decide between what his oldest friend wanted and what his wife wanted. His wife. He dropped down into his chair.

Carter’d be devastated if he took her off his team and put her on permanent science duty. And rightly so. There was no professional reason for doing that. He liked working with her, and, despite her recent slipup on the mission in Powhatan, he trusted her. Besides, he could stand her technobabble all day long. A requirement no other scientist fulfilled.

On the other hand… She’d lied to him on a scale beyond comprehension. Nothing she’d told him about herself was true. Actually, if she’d been honest about who she was, this whole situation could’ve been prevented from the start. And she was blaming him for all this?

Which took him back to another problem. She didn’t want the marriage. “How on Earth am I supposed to get her to agree to all that?”

“I’ll talk to her.” Jacob got up.

Oh, great idea. Yeah… If Jacob picked up where he left off, that would go over well. He could see where Carter had inherited her stubbornness. His head pounded.

“Jacob, just let me handle it. She’s my wife and that legally makes her my responsibility. I’ll talk to her. I’m sure I can bring her round.”

He had no idea how yet, but at least that was better than Jacob trying to badger her into the marriage.

Sam heard the tent flap rustle behind her, and her heart dropped. Blood rushed in her ears. She didn’t even have to turn around to know who it was.

“Don’t even start.” She stared at O’Neill.

“Sam.” He closed the tent flap, his voice soothing, but she shook her head.

“I don’t want to talk to you. Not now, and not anytime in the foreseeable future.”

“Sam.”

“And don’t address me as if we’re friends. I don’t know you at all. And you don’t know me.”

“Can’t we at least talk about how to proceed from here?”

“Why don’t you talk about that with my father?” She couldn’t keep the edge out of her voice. “You two seem to be doing so well in planning my life for me.”

“For cryin’ out loud.” O’Neill’s eyes flared. “I only agreed to the contract because I thought it would help you.”

“And how about demoting me? You think that would also help me?”

She still couldn’t believe he had agree to her father’s demands. Having stood in front of the command tent, she’d been tempted to storm back in there and smack them both. That wouldn’t help her case, though. Besides, then O’Neill would have a reason for demoting her.

He stared at her. “What?”

“I heard you. You’re going to take me out of SG-1 and put me into science permanently, because he asked you to. Is that how things are going to be from now on? My father makes the decisions and you implement them?” She threw her book onto her sleeping bag and folded her arms.

He cleared his throat. “I said I’d think about it. I don’t like having to decide things on the spot like that. Your father put me in a difficult position. I have no intention of pulling you out of the field.” He gestured in the vague direction of his command tent. “I told him as much about ten minutes ago.”

“Oh.” She stared at him. Well, so what? Did he expect some kind of recognition now? “In that case, I guess we can live happily ever after. You only seem to have my best interests in mind.”

“I didn’t do it for you. I never wanted to let personal feelings interfere with work. Pulling you out of the field to protect you is exactly that.”

“Oh, so you’re saying you do want to pull me out of the field?” She scoffed and shook her head.

“Not what I meant. Or said. Listen, I’m sorry for how this turned out.” When she scoffed again, his eyes blazed. “If you’d told me the truth about who you were, it wouldn’t have come to this.”

Seriously? He was going to pin this on her? Because of her lie? She folded her arms and shook her head. “So this is all my fault? As far as I know, my signature isn’t on that stupid contract.”

“Carter.”

“You know, I can’t believe I worried about lying. You lied to me all this time.”

“I never lied to you. I told you I was married.” His tone was gentle. “If I’d known who you were when I met you, I wouldn’t have—”

“What, you wouldn’t have been so hard on me during training and missions? You’d have protected me? Kept me out of danger? I don’t want that. I don’t need that.”

He paced the tent.

“Granted, sir, I’m not the best soldier, but I fought my way through boot camp training and learned how to defend myself. I completed all the required training exams. I’m good enough to make it in the field. You thought so before you knew about the damn marriage contract. I want to be respected as a soldier.”

“Carter, I do respect you.”

“Yeah, right.”

O’Neill groaned, and for a moment he looked clueless. “Alright, what do you suggest?”

“As far as I am concerned, the marriage contract is invalid. There’s nothing to suggest. Now, if you don’t mind, sir, I have to read through this book, and then finish an artifact report I’ve been working on for the past two days.”

“Sam, I wasn’t really excited about the marriage either.”

“And yet you confidently told my father to leave the matter in your hands, because you’d convince me how good an idea being married to you was.”

He flinched. “You heard that too, huh?”

“How exactly am I supposed to take that comment? Unless you genuinely believe that tale you told me about not needing drugs to seduce a woman, and it’s only a matter of time before I inevitably surrender to your charms?”

“I know saying this is probably useless, but I didn’t mean it that way. Maybe we should both cool down. You know, think about the situation for a while.”

“I have nothing to think about.” She glared at him.

O’Neill opened his mouth, apparently wanting to say something else, but the tent flap behind him opened. Janet, Vala and Daniel entered. They froze and raised their eyebrows, staring at their camp commander. Then their gazes shifted to Sam, who sat down on her sleeping bag.

“Sorry, um… are we interrupting something?” Daniel scratched the back of his neck.

Before O’Neill could answer, she shook her head. “No, Daniel. We’re finished. The colonel was just leaving.”

O’Neill looked at her, then turned and marched out of the tent without another word.

Her friends looked after their commanding officer, slack-jawed, and then turned their eyes back on Sam.

“What in the world was that all about?” Janet walked over to her own sleeping bag and sat down.

“I’m married.” Best to tell them straight out. It was only a matter of time until they’d learn the truth anyway.

“You’re what?” Vala stared at her, slack-jawed. If the circumstances had been difference, she’d have laughed about this. It took a lot to shock Vala.

“You’re married.” Daniel folded his arms. “Okay. What does that have to do with—?”

“I didn’t agree to it. My father negotiated the marriage contract against my will when he learned I was gifted.”

“Your father.” He pushed his glasses further up on his nose. Sam rolled her eyes. Sometimes his habit of repeating things back got on her nerves. “I thought you didn’t have any family left.”

“I lied. My father is alive, and he’s here at camp.”

“Jacob Carter’s your father?” Daniel stared at her. “You’re Jacob’s daughter?”

She released a sigh. Apparently everybody knew her father here. Why the hell hadn’t he told her he was working with the resistance? So many lies… And they were blaming her for lying to O’Neill about her identity?

Vala raised her eyebrows at Daniel. “How do you know her father?”

He shrugged. “Jacob Carter’s been a member of the resistance for over thirty years. He’s one of only a handful of our people working at the Aschen Ministry. He and Jack have been friends ever since Jack joined the resistance. Jack introduced me to him a few years ago.”

So that was why her father’d been at the science fair in Powhatan. He’d been the contact that O’Neill had wanted to meet. All those years when she’d thought her father was collaborating with the Aschen, he’d actually worked for the resistance as one of their most important members.

Sam stared unfocused at a point on the tent wall. “O’Neill is my husband.”

Janet and Vala became uncharacteristically still.

Daniel almost choked. “Excuse me?”

“Apparently, O’Neill is the man my father married me off to. He never told me the guy’s name.”

“Oh.” Then his face lit up. “So you’re the one…”

Sam looked up at him and narrowed her eyes. “You knew about this?”

“Well… yes… no…” he said and swallowed visibly. “I didn’t know it was you. Jack told me the story a while back after team night. He said he’d agreed to marry the daughter of one of his friends. He also said, he didn’t believe the marriage was going to be more than a signature on a paper.” Daniel scratched his head and scrunched his eyebrows. “Sam, shouldn’t you be happy about this?”

She stared at him. So did Vala, and Janet.

Daniel shifted his foot. “Well, maybe not exactly happy, but… I mean, you like Jack, right? Now that you know you’re married, you can actually be together.”

“We can what?” She got up, her hands fisting. “He agreed to marry me, over my head. He didn’t even bother to check whether I was okay with it. Let alone get to know me beforehand. Hell, he didn’t even care enough to find out my name when he signed. He and my father just negotiated it like… you would negotiate selling a dog.”

She started pacing and gave a bitter laugh. “And to top it all off, he has the arrogance to believe he could somehow woo me into this arrangement. And you honestly believe I should fall into his arms?”

“I know Jack can be an ass sometimes.” Daniel winced. “And knowing him, he probably didn’t handle the situation very well. But—”

“I never want to see him again.” Sam closed her book with a sigh. Damn, why did her heart ache so much at the thought? “I’ve worked so hard on my position here. I don’t want to give that up. I don’t want this marriage, but he apparently does.”

“Of course he does.” Sarcasm dripped from Daniel’s voice as he pushed his glasses further up on his nose. “Sam, despite whatever stupid thing he said—or did—I know he really cares about you.”

She gave an ironic chuckle.

“Sam.” Janet went to her knees next to her. “You care about him, too, don’t you?”

If only it wasn’t true. Somehow that made his betrayal all the worse. Of all the people she knew, he was the last one she’d ever expected to agree to a forced marriage contract. Everything they’d ever talked about, concerning his first marriage and how much he despised those forced arrangements, had apparently just been empty words.

He’d told her his marriage had been torture for both him and his ex-wife. Yet he was willing to put another woman through that torture. No, she wouldn’t forgive him. And she wouldn’t agree to the contract.

She hadn’t known him at all.

Maybe, she’d been so desperate to find someone who understood her situation, she’d just projected her ideal of a man onto him. After all, most of the gifted men didn’t care about their wives. They complied with the marriage contracts. So why would he have been different?

She blinked against the stinging in her eyes. It didn’t matter anymore. She was done with him. Maybe she should ask for reassignment to another resistance cell. Then again, here she had the chance to go through the Stargate and work in the sciences. No other cell would be able to offer her that.

No, she wouldn’t let anybody take that away from her.

“You’ve changed since I last saw you.”

Sam jerked her head up and flinched when she hit the table. The network cables in her hand forgotten, she leaned up and looked at her father, rubbing the sore spot at the back of her head. Where had he come from? She hadn’t even heard him enter.

“What do you want?”

“Not even a hello?” He gave her a weak smile. She folded her arms and narrowed her eyes.

“You know, you could’ve sent me a letter… anything, just to let me know you were still alive.” His tone sounded like an accusation. So typical.

“What, so you could track me down and make sure I live up to your marriage contract?” She didn’t bother to keep the sarcasm out of her voice.

“What I did, I did only with your best interests in mind. You didn’t need to run away. I’d already talked your future over with Jack. He was going to bring you into the resistance as a scientist. If you’d come to me and talked to me before—”

“I did try to talk to you, Dad. And I don’t need you—or Colonel O’Neill—to be protective of me. As you can see, I made my way into the resistance all by myself.”

Jacob nodded. “Yes, you did. And from what I’ve read, you’ve become quite an asset. I’m just saying… if you’d trusted me, it wouldn’t have been so hard on you.”

“No, I would have gotten in under the protection of you and my ‘husband’, and stayed under his constant observation.” She scoffed with a shake of her head. “You don’t get it, do you? I never wanted that. I learned to fight and defend myself like every other soldier. I don’t want anybody going easy on me just because I’m the daughter of the Jacob Carter—or the wife of the camp commander.” She sighed. “You have no idea how hard I’ve worked to get where I am, Dad.”

Jacob’s eyes flared. “I’m your father. It’s my right to worry about you. And there is nothing wrong with being protected.”

“Depends on your perspective, I guess.” Sam straightened and glared at him.

Jacob leaned forward and slammed his palms on her desk. “Sam, I’ve worked undercover in the Ministry for almost thirty years now. It’s not a pleasant life.  The constant fear of being found out, or never returning home, especially when you have children… I did everything I could to keep you safe. Sometimes that included doing things I despised.”

She rolled her eyes.

He sighed and his expression became pained. “If you worked solely in the sciences, you wouldn’t have to deal with the fear and pressure that comes with field duty. You could have it so much easier and still do the things you love.”

“It’s my life, it’s my choice. This is what I want. Going through the Stargate to other planets is what I’ve dreamed about ever since I started studying the gate. I don’t care if it’s dangerous. I’m working for my people, to free them of the Aschen occupation.” She rubbed the dust off her fingers. “You made the decision to join the resistance without anybody interfering. Damn, you didn’t even think it was necessary to tell me you’re not actually a collaborator. Now all I ask is that you let me make the same decisions for my life.”

“That was different.” He shook his head. “I’m—”

“A man, Dad?” She put her hands on her hips.

“Your father. And I didn’t pay for all your education, so you could get yourself shot out there on an alien planet. Or worse, land in one of the Aschen prisons.”

Her education? He was bringing that up now? “You know, this is just so typical. Whenever I don’t do what you want, you bring up the things you’ve done for me to guilt me into giving in. I can’t agree to your terms. Not this time.”

“Sam.”

“I have my friends here, my work. All of that I achieved by myself. I don’t want to give it up. And I won’t agree to a contract signed without my consent. If I decide to marry, it will be a person of my choosing, not yours.”

Jacob leaned forward on the desk with an exasperated sigh. “That matter isn’t open for discussion. The contract was approved by the Ministry. It was a risky arrangement to start with, and dissolving the contract now will draw unwanted attention to the case by the Aschen government.”

“You should have thought about that before—“

“You will just have to deal with it.” Her father narrowed his eyes at her. “If you ask me, you could’ve done much worse than Jack. He’s a good man, Sam, and if you stopped being so stubborn, you might actually see the merit in the arrangement. For both of you.”

Merit? Please… Granted, O’Neill had never treated her with anything other than the highest respect, and he’d shown his trust in her on more than one occasion. And if her father’d presented Jack to her, and let her get to know him before signing any contract, she might have agreed to the marriage. But not this way. Not in a way that disempowered her and left her with no choice of her own.

“The point is, you never even asked me. All I ever wanted was for you to include me and to trust me to be capable of making my own decisions. Instead you made it final over my head, and now you expect me to be happy with it.”

At that moment, the entrance flap opened and O’Neill entered. Sam swallowed when their gazes met. He faltered in his step and winced.

She pressed her lips together and sat down on her chair, not deigning to look at him again.

“Sorry to… um…” O’Neill said, and cleared his throat. “Carter, I need the report about the artifact from 498. That is, if you got it already.”

She searched through her filing system and handed him a folder, avoiding his gaze. She was probably bordering on insubordination, but who cared.

O’Neill looked at her father, who shrugged, and then he cleared his throat. “Thank you.”

“Before I forget, sir, McKay asked me to tell you he needs some research material.” Sam fixed her gaze on a sheet of paper on her desk. “A list of books he compiled. Apparently you ignored his request.”

“I see.” He nodded. “Did he tell you what exactly he needed them for?”

“No, sir. He just asked me to remind you to acquire them as soon as possible. Which I have hereby done.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

She felt O’Neill’s gaze rest on her for a little too long, before he turned and left. Her father folded his arms while he watched his friend leave the tent. Then his gaze locked with Sam’s.

“Don’t you think you’re being a little unfair to Jack?”

“Unfair? I’ve treated him with all the respect due to the commander of this base.”

“Yes, you have. But that’s not what I’m referring to, and you know it.”

She released an exasperated sigh. “What do you expect me to do? Thank him for so graciously taking pity on me, for agreeing to marry and protect me?”

Jacob growled. “You know what? This conversation is futile. Why don’t you let me know when you’ve calmed down. You know where to find me in Powhatan.” With those words, he turned on his heel and exited the tent.

Sam closed her eyes. “Dad!”

He didn’t come back.

Pain stabbed at her heart. She didn’t want to fight with him. If only he’d understand her position. Why couldn’t things return to how they used to be?

Next Chapter