Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate or any of the characters you recognize. I'm just borrowing them for entertainment. There is no monetary gain and no copyright infringement intended. This story is based on the episode "Divide and Conquer". I always thought the series skipped over what was a very important moment between Jack and Sam. The lines of dialog you recognize are from the show, the rest you don't recognize are from me.
AN: For those of you that have read my stuff before, I am back to writing again and trying to catch up! This is a story I promised Gategirl7 for her birthday and it is very late in coming. The chapters are sort of short, but it is done and will be posted quickly. I just finished the last chapter a minute ago so I am rewarding myself by posting.
Chapter 1 - Walls
Colonel Jack O'Neill felt his stomach clench. Was he really going to have to do this? Was he really going to have to admit to having feelings for a subordinate officer, his second in command? Damn what a screwed up mess. He swore under his breath and didn't try to hide his impatience as he listened to the alien woman with only about half his mind. She was asking something, but he was pretty sure he really didn't want to know what that something was so he ignored her. Her voice rose, calling his attention back to her in spite of himself. It must have been the third or fourth time she'd asked the question because the Tok'ra, Anise, had a decidedly irritated air to her voice as she asked it again. That alone lightened Jacks mood a bit but for only a second as he forced himself to listen to the question he was being asked.
"Major Carter was trapped behind the force shield," Anise repeated.
"That's right." Keep the answers simple and to the point; they'd taught him that in his black ops days. If you had to answer questions stick the bare minimum of facts. But that wasn't going to help much today. The bare minimum of facts wasn't going to be enough to prove they weren't Za'tarcs and more than that might just get them court marshaled. That was worse case and didn't seem likely, but any way he looked at this, it was going to change things between he and Sam. His answer was going to change his world and he was pretty sure it wouldn't be for the better.
"You did everything you could." The alien scientist continued.
"Yes," he kept his voice calmer than he felt inside.
"You couldn't save her?"
"No." Jack could still feel the hopelessness and anger he'd felt when he'd realized that Sam was trapped on the other side of the shield from him with Jaffa hot on her heals.
"But you still could have saved yourself," Anise questioned.
"I guess," he relented, his voice subdued. Carter said they had to answer these things, make it the whole truth. 'I guess' wasn't the whole truth by any means. Jack barely resisted the urge to close his eyes against the memories of Sam on the other side of that force field. God, he'd pounded on the control panel, the force field itself, the walls, but he'd known in that moment that she was going to die and there wasn't anything at all he could do for her except not leave her. He'd known about a millisecond later that he was going to die too. No way in hell he was going to leave her and that knowledge had come as a shock. The depth of his feelings for his teammate had staggered him that day. He still hadn't completely come to terms with the knowledge and now he was going to be putting those feelings out for the whole world to see.
"What happened next?" Anise prompted. Jack could see Carter's face in his mind's eye. See the hopelessness in her face, the acceptance of her death as she'd told him to leave. She knew he was not about to just leave her there to die and that look had been in her face too. That look had astonished him. That look had been full of love. At that moment he'd known that Samantha Carter loved him back.
"What were you feeling?" Now that was about as stupid and uncomfortably straightforward as Anise knew how to be, Jack decided irritably as her question pulled him away from his memories.
"Like someone who was about to die," he shot back, willing her to just skip over the whole emotions thing.
"Sir," Carter's voice was sharp with just enough pleading reprimand to remind him that the stakes for them were way higher than admitting emotions he didn't want to put on the table. He met her eyes and held them. He needed to see her face. He needed to see how she reacted to the next few words he was about to speak.
"I didn't leave because I'd have rather died myself than lose Carter." He couldn't read her eyes. Damn, he needed to know what was going on in her head at that moment.
"Why?" Anise's voice felt removed, far away.
"Because I care about her," he admitted in a low voice. Sam didn't look away from him like he half expected. He focused on her, Sam's eyes were the most intense Jack could ever remember seeing them. That might be enough for the machine, but damn it, he needed to know how she was taking his statement. "A lot more than I'm supposed to," he added never taking his eyes from her face. He thought a look like pain washed over her for just a moment. Jack was pretty sure she was going to break eye contact with him and look away, but she didn't. She was looking at him as if she could see right into his soul. Not a very safe place to look, he silently warned her.
"You are not a Za'tarc," Anise declared, actually sounding relieved. The scientist's voice broke the moment between him and Sam.
"Now, retest me," Carter instructed, pulling her eyes away from his. Janet had already started to remove the restraints holding Jack in the chair. He stood and helped her strap Sam in, squeezing Sam's arm in what he hoped would be a reassuring gesture as he finished tightening the last strap.
As Jack listened to Sam answer the same questions that he just answered, in much the same way, his mind raced. What happened now? He knew she liked him, thought she might even be attracted to him, but to hear now that she also cared 'more than she was supposed to,' wow. What now?
He moved forward to help her out of the chair. There were too many people in the room. "Carter," he started, not sure what to say.
"Sir," the title felt heavy to him for the first time in his life. "None of this has to leave the room." Relief hit Jack like a hammer, with disappointment quick on its heels. Is that what she wanted? He wasn't surprised. She was as career driven as he had been at her age and probably way more scared of consequences then he'd ever been, but still…
"We're okay with that?" He couldn't keep the doubt from his voice. He wasn't sure if he was ok with it. If she felt like he did, how could she admit having feelings then lock the away?
"Yes." Her voice sounded so sure. OK, this had to be her decision. After all it was her career on the line. His career was winding down, but hers was still on a fast track to anywhere she wanted to go. He couldn't stand in the way of that. And you're a coward taking the easy way out O'Neill, his inner voice chided, but he nodded to her anyway.
"Okay, so if they're not Zatarcs they're no threat to the President." Frasier's question brought Jack back to the present.