Superior And Subordinate
~ Jack ~
She’s a stranger.
And I’m not talking about the kid Carter is dating.
Okay, she’s not really a kid but she sure as hell looks like it. No, Willow Rosenberg isn’t the stranger I’m talking about – Carter is.
Yeah, yeah, I know she had to keep it a secret. I’m her – sorry – I WAS her superior officer; telling me she was playing for the home side would have been career suicide but…
Christ, she’s been dating a woman for three years.
THREE Goddamn years and I didn’t know.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know what upsets me more, that the person she’s in love with is a woman or that I didn’t know about it. I’m not homophobic; I’ve seen crazier shit than two people of the same sex together.
So I guess that means not knowing upsets me more – and that it is Carter of all people.
How the hell could she have kept this from US? I’m not talking about keeping it secret from her CO; I’m talking about keeping it secret from her friends. My team is – was – the most close knit team in the Stargate Program – EVER.
Daniel is my best friend, Teal’c I consider a brother, and Carter…
We weren’t just superior and subordinate, I thought we were something else.
What? Don’t ask me. I try not to think too much, but we were more than just CO and 2IC. More than friends but less than… Christ, I don’t know. We were something but she kept this from me. I guess I was wrong, maybe that’s all we were – superior and subordinate.
Hey, it wouldn’t be the first time I read someone wrong and it sure as hell won’t be the last.
Do I sound bitter? I’m trying not to. I’m happy for Carter, really I am, but they have a home together, for crying out loud! How the hell could Carter have a home without us knowing about it? I’m walking through the living room right now and there’s no denying what this place is.
Carter’s place back in the Springs was a house. Perfect to look at, never anything out of place when I was there, but it lacked the warmth this place has.
This place screams home.
There are photos all over the place, on the wall, on the mantle. Pictures of Willow and Sam and, as I make a beeline to the mantle, there are pictures of Willow’s friends as well… and there’s a picture of us.
The photo was taken last year, when SG-1 and Janet went to my cabin for the weekend. The one and only time I ever managed to get all of us there at once. We’re all smiling in the photo, no sign at all that just two days before we were nearly killed by the ever-annoying snakes.
Carter was the first one to leave that weekend. It was right before Christmas and she left for some ‘alone time’. I remember Daniel worrying about Sam spending Christmas by herself. Jacob was on a mission and Mark was visiting his wife’s family. I invited Carter over for Christmas at my place but she said no, that she was going to a friend's for Christmas lunch.
And, looking at the photo next to the one of SG-1, I know exactly where she went.
I hate this.
I hate that Carter lied to us and I hate that I’m standing here trying to figure out when she lied to us – and the times where I missed all the damn signals.
Retrospect is a bitch, let me tell you.
I want to know Sam and Willow’s whole story. Yeah, I know it’s none of my business but I want to know when she stopped loving… when she stopped liking guys.
More than anything, I want to know why she REALLY didn’t tell us.
I know I was her CO, that she didn’t want to put OUR careers in jeopardy by telling us but…
We were a team.
She should have known we would have backed her up.
Yes, even me.
We’ve fought side by side for fourteen years. Did she think that I would throw all that away because she was gay? Christ, she has saved the damn world. She saved my life, Daniel’s, Teal’c’s… just like we saved hers.
Did she think some damn regulation meant more to me than that? Meant more to me than her?
We weren’t just a team… We were SG-1.
Nothing means more to me than my team.
Okay, I think it’s safe to assume that Carter not telling me stings more than anything. Carter wasn’t just keeping a lover secret – she was keeping a LIFE secret.
You know, now that I’m thinking – and, for the record, I wish to hell that I wasn’t – this explains some things. It explains why Carter seemed more freaked than usual on our last mission, when the Goa’uld captured us.
There had been desperation in the way she fought to get us free; some secret motivation that gave her the strength to work like hell to save our asses.
Little did I know that motivation was a cute redhead that was half her age.
If Carter were a guy, and not Carter, I’d say she was having a midlife crisis but…
She looks really happy in the Christmas photo I’m holding.
She’s sitting in front of the Christmas tree, her arm around Willow’s shoulder. Both women are grinning – beaming – at the camera. They look like Sara and I used to, back when we were happy.
They look in love.
“That was taken last year. It was a good Christmas,” a voice behind me comments and I spin around to see Xander standing there.
“Looks like it,” I reply, putting the picture back, then taking the one next to it.
For some reason, this photo bothers me more than the happy couple photo. This one is a group shot. All of Willow’s friends here are in it, plus a few other people I haven’t had the privilege of meeting yet.
It’s a photo of Christmas dinner taken in this very room. It’s a candid shot; plates of half eaten food litters the table. Only one person is looking at the camera. The rest of them are busy talking amongst themselves, smiling – laughing.
“It’s the first Christmas we ever had together,” Xander explains, moving closer to me so he can look at the photo. “We had some friends fly in from LA.”
Really? Funny, Carter said she had a quiet Christmas.
This doesn’t look like a quiet Christmas. A quiet Christmas is eating undercooked turkey and burnt pie with your best friend while trying not to let the memories of the past overwhelm you.
Daniel and I had a quiet Christmas.
This… This had been a party.
Christ, I cannot stress enough how much I hate this!
How many other lies has Carter told us? How… how the HELL could she keep this from us? How could she look us in the eye and tell us that she had a quiet Christmas or a weekend alone?
I can’t stand this. I can’t stand it so much that I can’t even look at Carter right now – not even her picture.
“So…” I say, putting the picture back on the mantle and shoving my hands in my pocket. “It’s a nice house.” I say the first thing I can think of – I don’t want to talk about their Christmas together.
What I said before about wanting to know about Sam and Willow? I change my mind. I don’t. I don’t want to know ANYTHING anymore. I just want to get this afternoon over with and get the hell out of here.
“Thank you.” Xander replies, looking around the room proudly.
He must have seen the question in my eye because he explains. “I built the house.”
HE built the house? Okay, I’m impressed and VERY happy that we’re not talking about Carter and Willow. I look around the room, suddenly interested in the detail of the house.
It’s when I’m looking around the living room that I notice what the others are doing. Carter and Willow are running between the kitchen and the living room, bringing in plates of food and drink. Rupert Giles is talking animatedly with Daniel, Teal’c, to my surprise, is smiling at something Dawn Summers is telling him. And Jacob…
Is looking at me.
I’ve worked with Jacob almost as long as I’ve worked with Carter. Over the past few years, when we started working closer with the Tok’ra, I’ve gotten to know him better.
I know his expressions and something is wrong.
And not in the ‘my-daughter-is-suddenly-a-lesbian’ way.
“Yeah.” Xander’s voice interrupts my thoughts. “The commute for Sam and Will was taking a toll on them. Things were bad enough because they had to keep their relationship a secret, I figured they should spend every second they could together.”
I don’t look at Xander immediately, in fact, I’m only half listening. I’m too busy staring at Jacob.
He’s giving me a look.
Why oh why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like whatever is bugging Jacob?
“Hey,” Xander puts his hand on my arm and I look towards him. “If you want, I could give you the grand tour?”
I’m good with reading people – obviously I’m a little off my game because of this mess with Carter – but I’m USUALLY good at reading people.
And Xander Harris is nervous.
Gone is the thoughtful expression he was wearing before and now he looks… he looks REALLY nervous.
I glance over at Jacob and I notice in my peripheral that Xander does too.
Okay, there could be a reason for Xander’s nervousness. He is Willow’s best friend and Jacob’s probably not her biggest fan right now, maybe he’s worried that Willow’s going to get hurt – just like I’m worried about Carter.
It’s possible, except… Jacob is nodding his head, like he wants me to go over there.
And he’s looking at Xander warily.
“So,” Xander begins a little too loudly. “Did you want that tour?”
Actually… “I could do with a beer.” Or ten. “Then I’d like to see the place.”
He hesitates for a second, like he’s going to argue. Willow and Sam aren’t in the room anymore and everyone else is in deep conversation. He has to go and get the beer himself – and it looks like he’s not happy about it. “Okay, I’ll be right back.” Xander glances over towards Jacob before he walks out of the room.
Immediately Jacob and I head towards each other. Jacob’s expression is even worse close up, in fact… he looks –
“I don’t think Willow’s human.”
WHAT did he just say? You know, you have to prepare a person when you say something like that! You just can’t come out and say it! “Excuse me?”
Jacob hesitates, his eyes going towards the kitchen. “I don’t think Willow’s human. When I touched her I felt something.”
Wait a second! Slow down! Willow isn’t human and…“You FELT something? What do you mean? A snake?” Wait, no, it’s impossible. It couldn’t be a Goa’uld, Carter would have sensed it.
“Not a snake, it felt like an electric shock,” Jacob explains quickly. “It shot through me when I touched her. Selmac felt it too.”
I hesitate. “You don’t think it was, you know, an electric shock?” It’s a legitimate question. After all, Jacob did just find out his daughter is a lesbian. He REALLY isn’t Willow’s biggest fan.
“No,” Jacob replies. “It was more than that… it’s hard to describe. It felt like a buzz, a charge, flowing through my veins. Like…” He shakes his head. “I don’t know… but it wasn’t right and it wasn’t a shock. Selmac hasn’t been the same since it happened.”
“Do you know what?” I ask out of respect. Jacob has saved my life and my team’s life, if he says something’s wrong then I’ll hear him out.
“No idea, but she’s been acting strangely ever since.”
“That’s because you scare the crap out of her.” More than once he’s scared the shit out of me. He has this deadly look… that he’s giving me right now.
Yep, that’s the one.
“Sam’s been acting strangely too, so has Willow’s friend Xander,” Jacob tells me. “They’ve been watching me ever since it happened.”
THAT I can’t argue with, Xander did seem uneasy about Jacob. Kept looking over there when –
“Like they’re watching me now.”
I follow Jacob’s line of sight, towards the kitchen, and what I see at the door sets off all kinds of alarm.
Carter, Willow, and Xander are standing in the doorway, frozen, staring at me and Jacob.
Strange, but the expressions on their faces make all of my doubts of what Jacob is saying disappear. A superior knows their subordinate, and Carter looks like her entire world is just about to end.
Suddenly it doesn’t matter to me that Carter has lied to me for the last three, almost four, years. I don’t give a damn about the secrets and lies or about the life she’s been hiding. I don’t care that she’s no longer Air Force, Sam is a member of my team – she’s more than just a member of my team – and if Willow is hiding something…
I want to know what it is.