An Unexpected Conversation

By Diane


EMAIL: dianekateri@beneath-the-surface.net

RATING: Suitable for all

SEASON: Nine

SPOILERS: The Fourth Horseman Parts 1 and 2, Threads, Moebius, general character spoilers for season 9

CLASSIFICATIONS: Missing scene, S/J

SUMMARY: When Sam spends a little more time with General Hammond before he leaves the base, the conversation takes an unexpected turn.

ARCHIVE: samandjack.net, Heliopolis, anyone else please ask.

DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 is a registered trademark of MGM, Gekko and Double Secret Productions. No copyright infringement intended.

FEEDBACK: Very welcome.

****

She waited for the elevator doors to close behind the airman before she sank against the wall. Alone for the first time in days, Sam finally allowed herself to relax, a long sigh escaping as she did so. She'd almost lost hope that they'd be able to stop the Ori plague spreading across Earth and the adrenaline that had kept her going had long since vanished. Unable to resist, she closed her eyes for just a moment, regretting that they hadn't been able to do so before so many lives had been lost.

She was on the way to her lab. Her initial plan had been to finish a little paperwork and then catch up on some much needed sleep, but it hadn't been long before she'd changed her mind. Both could wait until she'd made a call. The paperwork wasn't going anywhere and the call would do her almost as much good as the sleep would. She smiled at the thought.

It had been a while since they'd had a chance to talk, even for a minute, and she only hoped he'd be available. Timing coinciding free moments with their jobs was not an easy task, but was one she'd discovered was certainly worth the effort. Already she could feel the tension leave her body and her spirits rise.

The elevator came to a halt just then, and drawing on her final reserves, Sam opened her eyes, pushed away from the wall, and prepared to lose the first moment of peace she'd had for some time.

"Sir," she exclaimed.

Her need for a moment alone forgotten, a surprised smile lit her face when the elevator doors slid open on Level 21 and revealed General Hammond. She stepped aside, instinctively standing a little straighter when he entered returning her smile.

"Colonel, it's good to see you again. I didn't think I'd get the chance."

"And you, sir. I thought you were heading for Peterson?" she continued, happy to have another chance, however short, to speak with the general. The doors closed and Hammond pressed the button for his floor.

"Oh, I had a few last minute calls to make. I was on my way up when I got word that you had the situation under control. Well done."

Sam shook her head. "We have Teal'c to thank, General. I don't know what we'd have done if he hadn't been able to convince Gerak to help us."

Hammond nodded. "I managed to catch a few minutes with him on my way to see General Landry. He certainly came through for us again."

"He did," Sam agreed. "We're lucky to still have him."

"That we are, Colonel, that we are," Hammond answered grimly. Sam watched the concern cross his face before he carried on. "It was a close call this time, there's no doubt about it. We're very fortunate it worked out the way it did."

Sam couldn't agree more, she knew exactly how close they'd come. There was still a lot of work to do, though, but when she'd checked in on Dr Lam, she'd seen the doctor and her team had already made a start on getting the vaccine together.

"Are you heading back to Washington now?" she asked after a few moments silence.

"Yes, I'll be leaving within the hour," he answered as the elevator reached her level and the doors opened. "Going to your lab?"

Sam nodded.

"Let me walk you," Hammond offered, and gently guided Sam from the elevator. "So tell me, are you all settled in yet?"

Grateful for the chance to spend a little longer with him, Sam tried to put aside the pressures of the last few days and just enjoy the opportunity. Since he'd left the SGC over a year ago, she hadn't seen nearly as much of him as she would have liked.

"Almost, but it has been rather hectic since I returned. There's a storage room full of boxes I haven't had a chance to unpack yet."

Hammond chuckled. "I know the feeling. And from what Jack's told me, SG-1 has certainly had their hands full."

Thinking of the near non-stop, dangerous missions she'd been on since she'd agreed to return to SG-1, it was all she could do not to roll her eyes at the understatement. But knowing the source of the statement as she did, it didn't surprise her. So she simply gave Hammond a small grin of acknowledgement. "Oh, you know how it is, sir. There's always something happening."

Hammond's smile widened. "That I remember all too well," he said as they rounded a corner and nodded to some passing SGC personnel. "It seems SG-1 still manages to find their fair share of trouble," he paused before adding with a chuckle, "even without Jack's help."

Sam couldn't stop the laugh that escaped as they stopped outside her lab. She knew the general had every respect for her former CO but he, more than anyone, knew Jack's tendency to find trouble in the least likely of places.

"I'm afraid so," she admitted with a grin. "Jack... I mean General O'Neill," she corrected, turning quickly from Hammond and walking into her lab with a grimace, "General O'Neill has seen fit to remind us of that on more than one occasion."

She was well aware that the general had followed her inside, but the papers she'd left scattered on the counter days before were suddenly far more interesting.

"Sam."

Nerves began fluttering in her stomach, but doing her best to ignore them, she gave the papers one last shuffle then turned to face him.

"Sir?"

"I'll admit that I was hoping I'd get the chance to speak to you again before I left."

The flutters in Sam's stomach didn't ease.

"I realise it's none of my business, but there was something I wanted to speak to you about that wouldn't have been appropriate to mention earlier."

When he hesitated, Sam raised her eyebrows, expressing interest but only said, "Oh?"

She watched as he moved a little closer but found this was one time she was unable to read his expression.

"I know that your positions at the SGC have, shall we say, come between you and Jack, especially in recent years."

Sam's eyes widened slightly and immediately darted towards the lab door. They both knew he wasn't talking about her and her former CO's occasional differing opinions.

Looking back to Hammond, she tried hard not to squirm under his gaze but found it very difficult. When he gestured to a stool she sat automatically and waited while he took the one next to her and placed his cap on the counter.

"I know that you've both been through a great deal," he continued quietly, "and that you both sacrificed a lot to carry on at the SGC." He smiled softly as he finished, "I just wanted to let you know that I was glad to hear that everything has worked out for both of you."

Surprised and more than a little relieved, all Sam could manage was, "Thank you, sir." She wanted to say more, but was at a loss for words.

"But, as I said," he added quickly, "it's none of my business."

"No, no, not at all," Sam replied instantly. "It's just, not many people know. You took me by surprise."

"Oh, I understand." He reached over and lightly patted her arm, bringing sudden thoughts of her father to mind. Distracted, it was a few moments before she realised he was still speaking. "...and I finally found some time to pay Jack a surprise visit. I happened to notice a photograph he had on display." He paused for a second. "You both looked very happy."

The smile crossed her face without her realising. She knew the photograph he spoke of; she had one just like it at home. Daniel had taken it during her first visit to Jack's cabin, just after he'd resigned as commander of the SGC. A short time before her visit she'd had to bury her father, yet her time there was the happiest she could remember being in a very long time.

"I can't think of two people I'd rather see happier," he carried on. "The SGC was lucky to have you both for as long as it did."

Sam cleared her throat and glanced down briefly before she returned his smile with a grateful one of her own. His words meant a great deal to her, more so because they came from him.

"The SGC is very important to both of us," she finally answered. "We would never have done anything to jeopardise it."

And they both knew she meant both professionally and personally. Their roles at the SGC had been too important and the threats against earth too great for either of them to even contemplate leaving until recently.

Hammond nodded his understanding. He knew all too well what SG-1, what Sam and Jack had done, and not just for their own planet. "Well," he said as he stood, "I'm glad I got the chance to speak with you. But I should be going now."

Sam prepared to say goodbye, but immediately noticed a change in Hammond's mood. The smile he'd worn had faded and his eyes had noticeably clouded. There was little doubt there was something else on his mind.

It wasn't long before he spoke again.

"I know it's been a few months now, Sam but I wanted to apologise again for not being able to stay longer at Jacob's funeral." He paused, letting the change to a more painful subject sink in. "How have you been?"

The ache that always hit following any mention of her father swept through her immediately. "I'm fine. I've been okay," she managed. "The time away helped a little," she told him, thinking of Jack and how he'd quietly helped her grieve.

But she stopped before saying any more. It was clear there was more he wanted to say.

"Sir?" she prompted.

It was all he needed.

"You know, the one thing Jacob wanted more than anything was for you to be happy." He hesitated only a second before continuing. "I know for a fact that he would have been delighted for you. It may not have always shown, but Jacob thought a great deal of Jack."

The ache eased just a little at his words, in part because she knew they were true. One of the last conversations she'd had with her father, when she'd tried so hard to ignore what he was trying to tell her, had been one she'd replayed in her mind more than once.

"Thank you, sir. It means a lot to me to hear that."

Hammond noticeably relaxed at her words. "I'm glad," he replied, giving one last smile. "Anyway, I really should be going now," he said for the second time, bringing the unexpected conversation to a close. Retrieving his cap from the counter he added, "It was good to see you again, Sam. You take care."

"I will," she assured him as she stood, and following her instincts, leaned forward to give him a quick hug. His smile grew.

"Goodbye, Colonel."

"Goodbye, sir."

She watched as he made his way to the entrance of her lab, continued to watch as he disappeared around the corner. Only when he was gone from view did she sink into the stool she'd just left, a little dazed and more than a little surprised at what had taken place. That wasn't the small talk she'd been expecting.

And, she thought, she'd need to remember to have a word with Jack regarding the lack of warning concerning the general's new found knowledge.

Absently fingering the folders before her, her mind picked through the conversation. As unexpected as it may have been, she was glad the general knew. His words had given her a measure of comfort, a comfort she hadn't realised she'd been looking for.

And it was the next best thing to having the support of her father.

As those thoughts passed through her mind, the fatigue that had vanished on seeing the general began to make itself known again and she knew she couldn't last much longer. With that in mind, she decided she'd place that call she'd planned and then head off to grab a few hours sleep.

With a smile of anticipation, she reached for the phone, dialled, and waited hopefully. If he was available, he'd answer.

Her fingers tapped the counter as she listened to the dial tone, but she didn't have long to wait. Within seconds he'd answered and the pleasure, as well as relief, was evident in his voice as he said her name.

"I'm fine," she promised, quickly trying to alleviate his fears. "Really, Jack, I'm fine," she repeated. "And so are the rest of the team," she added, foreseeing his next question. She didn't mention those who hadn't been so lucky. He'd hear about them soon enough.

"Slept? I can't remember," she said laughed wearily, not realising she'd already settled more comfortably into the stool as she'd focussed on the sound of his voice. "Yeah, I'm going to try and catch a few hours shortly," she assured him, smiling at his obvious concern.

She quickly told him of the most recent developments but they soon moved onto more personal matters. Neither wanted to spend what little time they had talking about base business. She soon found herself laughing aloud at his trademark humour and sarcasm, and it dawned on her that it had been a long time since any of them had had anything to laugh about.

That was only two of the things she missed about him, she thought absently, as she replied to something he'd said.

Sleep, paperwork and her conversation with the general were pushed further to the back of her mind the longer they spoke and she was only vaguely aware that she was more relaxed than she had been in days. The knots and tension just seemed to fade away with each passing minute.

"So, do you still think you'll be able to pay us that visit in a few weeks?" she asked, sincerely hoping he'd answer in the affirmative. His visit to the base, followed by some leave for both of them, was something they'd been looking forward to for some time now.

His answer left her smiling.

"Great. I can't wait, Jack," she answered softly, her meaning clear. "In fact, it can't come soon enough."

The End

Copyright © Diane 2006

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