Chapter 29: A Matter of Definition
***For notes, warnings and disclaimers see chapter 1***
Chapter 29: A Matter of Definition
Okay, what's going on here? That's the first question I have to answer... no, not really. What's going on here is pretty clear: Carter is backpedalling with everything she's got so I guess the question is not so much what's going on but why. Why is she backpedalling and what is it that she wants me to let go of? That's the question... that and why does she insist on minimizing what happened to her. I mean, I know Carter approaches everything
from a scientific, rational perspective but this is getting ridiculous.
I just wish she would let go of all the games and come clean but somehow I don't think that's going to happen any time soon. I'm trying to play nice here, not really knowing how far I can push her, but at the same time I know I have to get to the bottom of this because otherwise this
could well end up tearing my team apart and there's no way I'm going to let that happen.
It's true that this whole thing went down months ago, as everyone keeps reminding me, but that doesn't
help. What does it say about us that we were able to work as a team for seven months without even noticing that there was something wrong in the first place? What does that say of me as a CO? I'm not sure I want to know but what I do need to know is why
... and the fact is that Sam may be backpedalling here but I'm not going to let this go.
"Okay, let's go over this again," I say determined not to fall for any of her misdirections, not this time. I see her cringe at the thought but she doesn't really say anything so I decide to push ahead.
"When we first got you back in Simarka you claim that you didn't say anything because Moughal was with us, correct?"
"But he wasn't with us all the time," I remind her. "Both Daniel and I pulled you aside and asked you if you were okay and both times you said yes... not to mention that Teal'c kept watching you like a hawk, even if he didn't openly say
"I..." she starts but I can see that she's not ready to come clean so I cut her off before she can give me any sort of crap that's only going to make me angrier.
"Then when we returned you didn't say anything to Dr. Warner because you were uncomfortable with him... though I have to admit that your explanation for that is a little more believable than the one for your initial reaction," I remind her.
"And then there's the fact that you didn't say anything during debriefing when you were asked specifically what had happened when you were in Turghan's camp, you see what I'm getting at, don't you?" I push
"Not really," she says and I get the funny feeling that she really
doesn't get it.
"You lied to us three times, Carter... and only one of your excuses is even half-believable," I point out.
"You never meant to come clean, did you?" I ask.
"It's not like that, sir. I just... I didn't know what I was doing and by the time I could finally take the time to think things through it was already too late," she explains.
"I don't believe you," I say, not willing to back down.
"It's the truth."
"I'm sure it is, Carter, it's part
of the truth," I insist, determined to get the whole story.
"I don't know what you want me to say!"
"What about the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," I challenge. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"And what did you want me to say? I told you, by the time I managed to think things through it was already too late for me to come clean... besides, it was my
problem, it still is!" she snaps, almost losing her temper.
"So you admit it's still a problem," I say, holding on to that little slip.
"That's not what I..."
"It's what you said," I interrupt her.
"It's a problem, a problem you've been dealing with for months and yet you never said anything, you chose to shut us out," I insist, knowing I'm not playing fair but not really caring about it either. I want some answers and there's no way I'm going to back down, not now.
"I didn't say anything because it was personal!" she insists.
"We are a team, Carter, you should know what that means," I tell her.
"I just..." she trails off.
"You just what?" I prod, not willing to allow her to shut me out again.
"You didn't trust us, is that it?" I challenge.
"No!" she exclaims.
"Are you sure?"
"Then why, Carter? If you trusted us then why didn't you tell us the truth?"
"Because I couldn't!" she says, not that that
makes much sense as an explanation.
"Because you didn't trust us?" I insist.
"Because I didn't know you!" she finally blurts out.
"What happened in Simarka happened seven months ago, sir. It was one of our first missions, we had been working as a team for less than a month and we were just getting to know one another... I didn't know... I couldn't..." she trails off and I have to admit that she actually has a point. I may not like it but the fact that this whole thing went down seven months ago means more than just that Carter has been keeping secrets from us for a very long time, it also means that at the time we were barely getting to know each other... and then I remember what my initial reaction to her was when I first met her before the mission to Abydos. In fact, considering my initial reaction, I guess I can understand why
she wasn't sure she could trust me, why she may have felt she had something to prove and why she may have been reluctant to come clean at the time... but still, she could have said something later.
"Okay, so maybe I understand why you didn't trust us back then but why keep quiet for seven damned months?" I growl.
"And what was I supposed to say, how was I supposed to bring it up?" she pushes back.
"I don't know... somehow," I say, though even I can tell that that's not much of an argument. The thing is that what's bothering me right now is not so much what she didn't tell us then but what she's still concealing now
. Sure, I've gotten a bit of a response out of her but no matter how I look at it the fact remains that she's still
not telling me the whole truth and we both know it.
"I..." she trails off.
"Never mind," I say, realizing that as long as we keep going around in circles over that one aspect of this I won't be able to get myself the answers I need and that means I have to move things along. Of course, I know that with Carter 'moving things along' is easier said than done... especially when she's determined to keep on stalling.
"No more games, Carter," I tell her.
"Games?" she croaks.
"Yes, games. I want some answers and I want them now."
"Do you trust us?" I ask, point blank.
"Okay, we'll leave that as a 'yes' for now," I interrupt her. "Now, I may understand why you didn't say anything at first and I know bringing it up afterwards would have been hard but even now you are trying to keep us out and that's what I'm trying to understand... especially because you say you trust us."
"It's just that it's something personal, sir... and everyone just keeps pushing but I'm fine and I can still do my job," she says.
"Your job?" I ask, wondering where she's coming from. I mean, I've never questioned her ability to do her job, no one in his right mind would. She's the best at what she does and we all know it.
"Yes, I mean, I'm fine and I've been doing my job ever since this happened and yet General Hammond felt it was necessary for him to ground SG-1 for two weeks even though I told him I'm fine," she explains.
"And are you?"
"What?" she asks.
"Fine," I clarify.
"Yes, sir. I just want to go back to doing my job but apparently the fact that I've been doing it for the past seven months is not enough to get anyone to understand that I'm not
broken, that I don't have to be protected from the big, bad universe out there," she says, sounding more than a little hurt by that and that's when it hits me. All of a sudden I realize why she kept quiet in the first place.
"That's why you did it, isn't it? That's the real reason you didn't tell anyone what had happened," I say.
"Sir?" she yelps, apparently caught totally off-guard.
"I've been trying to figure that one out ever since General Hammond told me what Turghan did to you and somehow the whole thing just didn't add up, not really... and now it does. You thought that if anyone knew you'd be out of SG-1 and that's the real reason you didn't say anything," I say, relieved by the fact that at least now I know what the hell am I supposed to be dealing with here. Up until now I've been flying blind, now I finally
know what I'm up against.
"Sir?" she asks, going pale, and I know
I'm on the right track here... and that means I can't back down even if I want to... which I don't.
"I told you, Carter, drop the 'sir', and get this through your head: I'll never
ask someone to step down from my team because they've been captured and tortured... never
," I growl.
"But I wasn't..." she starts but I interrupt her.
"You weren't what? Captured? Tortured? Don't downplay what was done to you. You may have been targeted because you are a woman rather than because you are a soldier but in the end it's not that different. Let me ask you something, if one of us had come through the gate with his back in the condition in which yours was, would you have said that that person had been tortured?" I challenge.
"If someone else had been abducted in the middle of the night and turned over to an enemy camp, would you say that that someone had been captured?"
"But you don't think that description applies to you? Why not?" I ask.
"It's just that..."
what was done to you torture?" I insist.
"I don't know, sir, but..."
"Define torture," I say, falling into my role as her CO, determined to get her to see what's right in front of her somehow
. Honestly, even though she is a damned genius Sam can be incredibly dense sometimes and I suspect this is one of those times.
"Deliberately humiliating or inflicting pain on a prisoner with the goal of obtaining information, as a deterrent or just for the sake of cruelty with the intent of causing a lasting psychological or physiological damage, sir," she replies.
"And the major forms of torture?" I ask.
"Physical, psychological and sexual," she says.
"Were you captured? Were you a prisoner?"
"Were you physically hurt?"
"What about mentally?"
"So I ask again, why wasn't
what was done to you torture? Why doesn't
it warrant that label?"
"I... I..." she stutters.
"You never thought of it in those terms, did you?" I ask.
"It wasn't like that, sir. It wasn't a battle, it wasn't because I was an enemy or even a soldier, Turghan never saw me like that. He had no reason to hate me or hurt me other than the fact that I was a woman. He wanted to teach me my place, to teach me a lesson. It was..." she trails off.
"Dehumanizing?" I finish for her. "That's usually what defines torture, Carter, you should know that. I'm not stupid... or at least not that
stupid, I know there are differences but when you get down to it in the end what you went through was a form of torture," I say, hoping that she will accept that explanation.
I know there are other things going on here, things I can't even begin to understand and I know helping her to get over this is not going to be that simple but in the end I guess torture is what this whole mess boils down to and that, that
is something I can definitely understand.
: Hi guys, sorry for the delay (especially to those of you not
in the U.S.) but seeing how I knew this was the last chapter I decided not to post it on a major holiday for fear that some people who had been following this story would miss it (I know how frustrating missing final chapters can be). I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and for sticking with me for so long. I know this wasn't exactly the most fun-filled fic ever and I really appreciate it.
Now, as you probably have already noticed, this is the end of 'Propagation' it is not
, however, the end of 'Under Alien Skies'. There is a lot more to come in this universe but I wanted 'Propagation' to deal only
with the initial reaction of most of those close to Sam to the news of what had happened in Simarka (in fact with the exception of the first chapter everything else happens roughly within a 24 hour period).
Some of the elements that I know are still missing from this story and that will be addressed later are:
-Does Teal'c eventually find out? If he does , how does he react? If he doesn't, how does that affect the team's dynamics? (sorry, I couldn't make the decision of whether or not Sam should tell Teal'c work realistically with the 24 hour timeframe I had in mind for this particular story).
-The real impact on Sam's life beyond the nightmares.
-General Hammond figuring out what Turghan's threat was.
-Jack finding out about Turghan's threat.
... and a few others.
Now one thing I have to admit is that I've given up on the idea of writing a big sequel and I've decided to write instead a series of short 'snapshot' fics, each dealing with one particular aspect. This approach means that I don't have to worry about connecting them, that I don't have to write them sequentially and that I can go back if I want to and add an additional scene between two 'complete' parts, so I'll have a lot more flexibility. I'll start posting the first of those sequels next week.
Finally one last warning concerning the sequels: due to the ratio of one crossover/one non-crossover that must be maintained here at TtH, I'm afraid I won't be able to post the sequels to this site (especially because it won't be just one sequel), so, if anyone is interested in reading those they will be available at ff.net and via my site here:
Sorry about that.
Okay, that's it for now and thanks for reading (and reviewing),