Mild violence, sexual references, UST.
2 weeks later
“Ensign Sam Carter reporting as ordered, sir.”
Jack looked up from his desk. Carter stood straight and calm, her gaze fixed on the wall behind him. A perfect soldier.
For two weeks she’d avoided him. They hadn’t spoken to each other since the afternoon they’d learned they were married.
Jacob had left with only a cold goodbye for his daughter. Oh yeah, there were definitely similarities in their personalities. If only she’d calm down enough for them to talk about how to proceed from here.
Two weeks ago, he’d thought it’d be a good idea to assign her to Sheppard’s team temporarily to give them both some distance to calm down. The space he’d given her apparently hadn’t diminished her anger at all.
Why did this even have to be so complicated, for crying out loud? There was something between them. She’d made a move on him at O’Malley’s. They were a good team in the field. They’d be good together as a couple.
Alright, fine, if she didn’t wanna be with him, he’d let the marriage stand as a signature on a paper. But they had to talk about it without her being angry or stubborn.
Besides, there was the pregnancy issue to work out. If she wasn’t pregnant a year from now, they’d be required to visit the Aschen breeding facilities. That’d make their lives really uncomfortable. Besides, it would bring up the wrong kinds of questions about why he wasn’t working in an Aschen assigned job anymore.
Then there was the issue of SG-1. He didn’t want to leave her on SG-2 indefinitely. In order for them to function as a team, they at least needed to get back to being friends. He couldn’t work with someone who avoided him. Even now, he knew she was only here because he’d ordered her to be.
She relaxed only as much as rules dictated and still refused to look at him.
“I wanted to let you know, starting today, you won’t be joining SG-2 anymore. McKay’s back from his science mission to PX5-252. He wants his old position on Sheppard’s team back. So you’ll return to duty on SG-1.”
“Yes, sir.” Firm and controlled.
“That means you’ll be working on my team under my command again. Is there a problem with that?” Damn her stupid perfect soldier attitude. Cold Carter was almost worse than angry Carter. His eyes narrowed.
“No, sir, no problem at all.”
“Damn it, Carter, will you at least look at me.”
For a moment it looked like she was gonna disobey his order, then her eyes shifted to his.
Jack sighed. “Is the thought of being married to me that repulsive?”
Her eyes flared and she inhaled as if to say something, but remained quiet.
Jack growled. “We’ll have to talk about this at some point.”
“Permission to speak freely, sir?”
“Oh, for crying out loud.”
She looked puzzled, almost startled at his unexpected outburst. Good, at least he was getting some kind of emotion out of her.
“You don’t have to address me by rank when we talk about this, Sam.”
She averted her eyes.
He sighed, resigned. “Permission granted.”
“Sir, I don’t think there’s anything to talk about. I made my position about the contract clear. Regardless of what the law dictates, I refuse to recognize any contract that was signed without my consent.”
Was she serious? After everything they’d been through together, she wasn’t even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt?
They’d been friends for crying out loud. Maybe even more. Damn, why had he even hesitated that night at O’Malley’s? He should have just taken her then. They’d be together now, and the situation would be less difficult. How could she pretend the attraction between them never existed?
All he’d wanted to do was help her, spare her the fate he and most of the other gifted ones had to face. He hadn’t been thrilled about the marriage, but when he’d learned that she was his wife… Carter, a woman he already respected, liked, and knew he could count on. Not to mention one he was attracted to.
He’d be damned if he’d let her out of it that easily.
“You’ll stay here all day if that’s what it takes. We will talk about this.”
“Well, what exactly do you want me to say?” She turned her head, her stare piercing him. “I ran away from home to escape my forced marriage. I want to make my own decisions, especially about who I’ll marry and when.” She folded her arms. “Did you think it would be different because of what happened between us at O’Malley’s? That I’d fall into your arms like one of those dull girls who dream of marriage all of their life?”
He stared at her. Damn, maybe the incident at O’Malley’s hadn’t been anything serious for her. But then again… What about her reaction afterwards? Daniel’d told him she’d cried. Was she just gonna pretend that hadn’t happened?
“Sir, you’re overestimating your effect on women.”
Her comment stung, she had to know that. Jack narrowed his eyes.
“I told you how much I despise the Aschen’s attitude towards us humans. That they regard us as little more than slaves. Well, there’s not much of a difference between what the Aschen do, and what you and my father did with the marriage contract. If you think I’d be in any way happy about this, you’re out of your mind.”
Wait, what? Slave? Was she insinuating…? “Sam, I don’t consider you a slave. Nor a possession. I want us to be equal partners. Which is why I want to talk to you about the terms of our marriage, and how to proceed from here. I understand how you’re feeling.”
“Oh, please.” She gave a little snort that would have been cute had she not been furious. “With all due respect, you made a conscious decision when you signed the contract. A decision I never had the chance to make. So don’t tell me you understand how I feel.”
Jack sighed. “I wanted to help. I know what it’s like to get stuck in the breeding facilities. And I know what it’s like to have no say in your marriage contract. But it’s not my fault you’re gifted. It’s the damn system. I’ve been there, so—”
“Exactly. I never expected you of all people would…” She swallowed visibly, and for a moment pain flashed in her eyes. She blinked and lifted her chin. “Forget it, it doesn’t matter.”
“Hey, I’m not the only one at fault here.” Jack rose from his chair and leaned forward on his desk. Despite their obvious attraction to each other, she wasn’t even willing to give them a chance. Was she too stubborn, or too damn proud?
Blaming him for everything was irrational and unfounded. He hadn’t betrayed her, and in fact, he’d also never lied to her. “You lied to me. From the start. If you’d told me who you were, I could have—“
“What?” Her eyes darkened. “Told me you’re my husband? Taken me under your care?” She ran her hand through her hair and shook her head. “You know what, it doesn’t matter. You want to know how I want to proceed? I want to continue my work here at camp. I want to go through the Stargate. That’s all I care about, sir.”
She straightened and then looked into his eyes. “I’ll work on your team and follow your orders. I’ll respect you as my commanding officer. But other than that, I want nothing to do with you.”
She couldn’t be serious. “Well, I am not okay with that.”
“What?” Her eyes widened.
“We were friends before this damn contract came up. And call me nuts, but I thought there was something between us. I wanna give us a try. I’m not saying a marriage would be perfect, but for crying out loud…” He sighed and walked around his desk to lean against it from the front. “Can’t we at least go back to how it was before you learned that I was your husband? Then we’ll see how it goes.”
She scowled at him. “I won’t date a man who thinks he can just marry a woman without her consent. And I don’t care about Aschen rules. What’s the point in fighting the Aschen when you blindly follow the rules they’ve laid out? You’re no better than them, no matter how much you tell yourself you’re different.”
He took a deep breath, his pulse racing. She couldn’t honestly believe he was as bad as the Aschen. What the hell was the matter with her? He looked at her face. Fire blazed in her eyes.
Alright. If she wanted him to be the enemy, he could be the enemy. “I see trying to talk this out isn’t working. Your father agreed to let you stay here because we’re married and I assured him I’d take care of you. By tonight I expect you to have moved all your things into my tent. That includes your sleeping bag. Understood?”
Her eyes widened and she dropped her arms. “You’re ordering me to share your bed?”
“I’m ordering you to share my tent. But if I remember correctly, we did the bed sharing before. You didn’t seem to be particularly opposed to it then. I guess we’ll slowly have to work back to that point.”
She pressed her lips together and fisted her hands. “I won’t share a tent with you. I’d rather share a tent with McKay.”
He pushed himself to a standing position. “Well, let me make myself clear, ensign, since you seem to be under the impression I’m asking your opinion.” He really shouldn’t pull rank in this, but then again, she already thought he was no better than the Aschen, so it wasn’t as if he could sink lower in her standing. “That was neither a suggestion, nor a request. You can move into my tent, or you can leave camp and return home to your father. Are we clear?”
He was behaving like a jerk. Daniel probably would find worse insults for him. But Carter wasn’t earning a fairness award either.
“You can’t order me to do that.”
Gaze locked on his, she took a step towards him. Her eyes flashed and her jaw clenched. The soldier inside him knew what to expect, sensed the danger and saw the deadly fury in her movements. The same kind he’d seen the day she’d beat up Mitchell.
Her arm shot up, but before her fist connected with his face, he caught her wrist in a firm grip. Adrenaline flooded his veins. Heart pounding, he leaned in to her. “Don’t. Ever. Try that again.”
She made a frustrated sound trying to free her hand, but he didn’t let go. How could anybody be so damn stubborn? So angry about something that wasn’t even his fault in the first place. And why the hell did she have to smell so good? Warmth radiated from her, and he felt her pulse race as he gripped her wrist tighter.
Damn, he wanted her. He jerked her forward and she almost stumbled against his chest. Her breath hitched when his hand tangled in her hair, and he pulled her head back.
Her eyes blazed. “Don’t you da—“
He cut her off, bruising her lips with his. She gave a yelp, and he used the opportunity to thrust his tongue into her mouth. She wriggled in his grip, then froze against him.
There was no finesse about the kiss. He wasn’t gentle, or seductive. He wanted to punish her. For trying to hit him, for being so damn stubborn, for hating him so much.
He groaned as arousal shot through him. Her taste, her scent, her heat. The way her soft breasts brushed his chest as she gave a futile attempt at freeing herself. He wanted her. Who knew, maybe if he threw her down on his desk and took her until she trembled from pleasure and need, she’d freaking change her mind about this whole contract.
Sam pressed against O’Neill’s hard chest with her free hand, her struggles weakening as hot need shot through her and pooled in her abdomen. An involuntary moan escaped her.
This couldn’t be. Why was she enjoying this? He rendered her immobile against him, her hand imprisoned in his grip, and she had no choice but to accept whatever he did to her. It was outrageous. And so hot at the same time. Her lips parted further, submitting to his explorations, her tongue darting out to tease his.
The reality of his proximity overwhelmed her. Heat almost made her legs buckle, and she grabbed his shoulder with a whimper.
She hated her body for betraying her like this. Hated herself for reciprocating. Why couldn’t she resist his closeness, his scent, his taste? Kissing him shouldn’t be this good.
Even when he released her hand and loosened his grip on her hair, she didn’t move away. Instead, her fingers clasped his upper arm, pulling him closer to her. His warm hand trailed along her waist to her back and pressed her into his heat.
Only when oxygen became an issue did she break the kiss. She gave his lower lip a last nip, and took a few shaky breaths. Her head swam with his closeness. What was she doing?
She was angry at him. Angry, damn it. For betraying her and signing the contract behind her back. And thinking he could woo her into it with his charms. And he almost succeeded.
Her eyes snapped open and she stared at him, still breathless. “I hate you.” Her voice came out a whisper.
If only it were true. If only her body didn’t belie her words. And he had the guts to give a little smirk.
Rage returning, she shoved against his chest until he let her go. Taken aback by the impact he had on her, she took a few steps back and ran her fingers through her hair.
What the hell was happening to her? She shouldn’t feel anything but anger. Now even more so, as his kiss had undoubtedly been a cheap way of manipulating her. Her jaw clenched.
“I hate you,” she repeated. His taste still lingered on her lips and the arousal between her legs was proof that he’d gotten to her. Her cheeks burned. Was she really that easy? “Bastard. Did you get what you wanted?”
“I expect you to move your stuff into the tent before tonight.” O’Neill turned and walked back to his chair. “Dismissed.”
“Sir, you can’t just—“
“I said dismissed.”
She stared at him and hugged herself with her arms. Was that how he wanted to proceed? He was just going to order her around from now on? He would enforce their marriage contract and compel her to spend time with him? After all that had happened to him, and knowing what a forced liaison felt like, he was going to force this contract on her. Her throat tightened and her eyes burned.
“Yes, sir.” Her insides went numb. He’d given her a choice. Maybe getting away from him wouldn’t be a bad idea. Far away.
But what about her work and the Stargate?
She returned to her tent and packed the few belongings she had. Then she rolled up her sleeping bag and took the isolation mat and her pillows. Clasping everything to her chest, she marched up-hill to O’Neill’s tent.
Smaller than the standard tents, it still provided enough room for two people. Sam entered and dumped her stuff in one of the empty corners.
Without bothering to unpack, she walked up to the scientist’s camp to delve into work for the rest of the day. She’d sleep at the science tent. He was mistaken if he thought he’d gained anything by his ridiculous order.
Hours into the night, Sam was barely able to keep her eyes open anymore. She rested her arms on the desk, trying to get a few minutes of sleep. The blankets didn’t provide enough warmth since the work tents weren’t heated at night, whereas the personal tents were.
Shivering, she pulled the blankets around her and sighed. Damn, she’d have to get some sleep. She could just grab another sleeping bag and return to the tent she’d shared with Vala and Janet. Undoubtedly, O’Neill would learn about her defiance, though. And then he’d make good on his threat and send her home.
She sighed and laid her head on her arms. Why did it all have to be so screwed up? Why did he have to be the one who had signed the contract behind her back? Her heart ached.
Eventually, she turned off the light, and made her way down to camp. She didn’t want to give in to him, but she wanted even less to return home and sacrifice her work for the resistance.
She sneaked into O’Neill’s tent and turned on one of the petroleum lamps before she rolled out the isolation mat in the corner, opposite to where he was sleeping. Then she placed her sleeping bag on top of it.
“I didn’t think you were gonna show up.”
She spun around. O’Neill leaned up on his elbow and studied her, his gaze gentle. Jaw clenched, she opened her sleeping bag and crawled in fully clothed.
His eyebrows climbed. “Don’t you wanna change?”
“Will order me to, sir?” From now on, if he wanted her to do something he’d have to make it an order.
He sighed. “Of course not. Not my problem if you’re uncomfortable and can’t sleep. Don’t expect me to cut you any slack during the day if you’re sleep deprived, though.”
She scoffed and turned off the light. Then she shifted so she lay with her back to him and stared at the dark tent wall. Despite her clothes and the sleeping bag she shivered. She closed her eyes, and her throat constricted.
No, she wouldn’t cry. Not because of him. She wouldn’t give him that satisfaction.
So she’d decided to go into war mode. What had he expected after forcing her to change quarters to share a tent with him?
Jack had to commend her on her stamina. She developed a routine to avoid him. She’d come in as late as possible and slip into her sleeping bag fully dressed. When he woke up in the morning, she was already gone. She couldn’t be getting more than three or four hours of sleep every night.
They never exchanged a single word.
Even though he’d told her he wouldn’t cut her any slack, he refrained from assigning any missions to SG-1. Soon, her mindset would interfere with her duties. Her lack of sleep would catch up with her, and he preferred not to be in a potentially dangerous situation when that happened.
Everybody seemed to expect him to fix the situation. Just two days ago, Daniel had asked him with that audible reproach in his voice whether he thought he was handling the matter the right way.
The right way. If only he knew how to make things right.
After almost a week, he about had it with Sam’s cold attitude and her avoiding him. If he ever wanted to get back to being friends with her, they had to resolve the situation. To do that, she needed to vent some of her anger with him. So why not give her a chance to do just that?
On Tuesday, he dismissed Mitchell as her close combat instructor and took over her training himself.
He read the confusion in her eyes as he took stance opposite her. Yeah, he was way too high a level for her, but this wasn’t about winning or losing.
“You wanted to hit me. So do it. Show me what you’ve got.” He probably should have sounded less smug. But from the way her eyes blazed, he’d hit the core of the problem. Mission accomplished.
She started toward him. Her first punch was weak and he easily blocked it. Her second punch was unfocused. He grabbed her arm, twisted it around, and rendered her helpless against him.
Wow, did her anger affect her fighting skills that much? Good thing he’d taken SG-1 off active duty for now. He leaned in to her ear.
“Are you going easy on me, or are you really just that bad, Carter?” He released her and she spun around to face him, rage flashing across her eyes. “Come on, don’t hold back.”
She growled, and her next punch was a lot more forceful. He blocked most of its force, but that just seemed to fuel her anger. He allowed her to strike a few blows before he fought back. With every blow she missed, she became more uncoordinated. Her stance was a nightmare, her defense non-existent.
Damn, what the hell had happened to the good soldier he knew? She was back to before bootcamp, possibly worse.
He eased up on her. It wasn’t like her blows did any actual damage to him. Not the way she delivered them anyway.
She shook with fury. Finally, she turned and stormed off the training ground without looking back. She ignored him when he called her name.
Jack followed her into the tent they shared. The moment he entered, she spun around. His stomach tightened. Her cheeks were wet.
“Why are you doing this? Why are you trying to humiliate me?” Her sob almost broke his heart.
“Sam, I wasn’t—“
“Isn’t it enough you forced this marriage on me? Now you wanna show me I only have a chance against you if you let me? Why can’t you just leave me alone?” Her arms slumped, her body shaking.
Okay, that had so not been the purpose of this session. Damn. He couldn’t do anything right, could he? He crossed the distance between them and pulled her into his arms.
She hit his chest, his arms, his shoulders, until he finally caught her wrists and pressed them against him. Her fingers clasped the material of his shirt.
When he buried his face in her neck, her body trembled. His heart ached. God, she really hated him… When the hell had that happened?
He breathed in her scent, pressed a soft kiss against her neck. Her breath hitched, and she tensed. No matter how hard he tried, she wouldn’t agree to the contract. His heart grew heavy. If only he could hold her like this forever. If only she’d let him.
Unless he wanted a repeat of his first marriage, there was only one way to resolve this. His arms around her tightened, and he nuzzled her neck. Inhaled her scent one last time.
When she pushed against his chest, he opened his eyes and let her go. She brought as much distance as she could between them and wrapped her arms around her body.
His insides shattered. “Pack up your stuff.”
Her head jerked up, her gaze meeting his. “Please, sir. Don’t make me leave camp. I—”
“Carter.” His voice gentled. “Pack up your stuff and move back to Janet and Vala’s tent.”
Her eyes widened.
He raked his hand through his hair. “I shouldn’t have ordered you to share my tent. And I shouldn’t have kissed you. I’m sorry. I was out of line, and I promise it’ll never happen again.”
She still stared at him, unmoving.
He sighed. “We can’t dissolve the marriage contract without alerting the Aschen to our situation. Since you’re so opposed to a relationship, I’m willing to disregard it.”
She swallowed visibly. “You won’t hold me to fulfilling the contract any longer?”
“And you won’t treat me differently from other soldiers because of it?”
“No.” Jack sat down on a box in the corner. “I just wanna be able to work with you. I want us to be friends like we were before.” If only he didn’t have to lose her.
“Were we ever friends?” Her voice was a whisper. “I never even knew you.”
“I’m not the one who lied about my identity and where I’m from.” His face gentled. “We both made mistakes. I for one wish I’d never signed that damn contract. But I can’t change that now. I’d like it if you considered me a friend again. Not right away… but maybe we can get there again. Someday.”
She nodded, her eyes glistening. “Maybe… sir.” She kneeled down and started packing up her things.
“Alright.” He cleared his throat. “I’ll see you at tomorrow’s mission briefing then.”
Without another word, he turned and left the tent. Emptiness threatened to consume him. This was it.
Just because of some stupid slip of paper…
He should’ve listened to his gut feeling back when Jacob’d asked him to sign it. Why hadn’t he just refused? And why did the thing that bound them together have to keep them apart?