Mar 10, 2005
Disclaimer: I don't own either show, I just like to play with the characters.Washington, D.C.
Graham Miller scanned the banquet room with what he hoped was a mild look of interest, combined with a ‘leave me alone’ vibe. He hated these dinners, where the top brass would trot out their top soldiers, breast full of medals, and try to show each other up in the ‘defying the odds’ mission stories - the non-classified versions, anyways. It was just his luck that Riley had taken a hasty blow to the ribs the week before, leaving this much-hated duty to Graham. If his best friend hadn’t almost died from the Ktharl’k poison infecting the wounds, Graham would have insisted that Riley’s wife, Sam, come instead.
Instead, here was Graham, dressed to the nines in full dress uniform, cursing his good nature. He was more the strong, silent type - good to have at your back in a warzone, but not at a party. Actions spoke louder than words to him, so at this formal dinner, where words very rarely held any true meaning, Graham was decidedly uncomfortable.
Hence the silent ‘go away’ warnings he was subtly - hopefully - putting out. So far, it appeared to be working.
“Fun party, huh?” ....Or not.
Turning to face his unwelcome company, he plastered what he hoped was a steadying blank look on his face - which promptly vanished when he saw the stars.
“General?” he asked, wondering what he had done to warrant such attention.
“At ease, soldier.” Which didn’t do a lot to put him at ease, all things told.
“Jack O’Neill.” he introduced.
“Cpt Graham Miller.”
“So?” O’Neill asked. “Is this shindig all you’d hoped for?” Graham got the impression the General was being sarcastic, but you never knew with the upper brass.
“Good food, sir.” Graham replied, racking his brain for anything else to say about this decidedly boring affair.
“Yeah. That’s the only upside.” replied the General, an air of whimsy in his tone.
“Sir?” queried Graham, not quite sure of this particular General.
“Boring. Dinner. You following?”
“Yes, sir.” A small smile curving his lips. “Why are you here? If I may ask.”
“Well, I’m at this shindig because I inherited it with the stars.” O’Neill told him, pointing with his drink to the silver stars on his shoulders. “But I’m here talking to you, because you have the ‘Look’ on your face.”
“And what ‘look’ might that be, sir?” Graham asked, starting to like this man more and more.
“The same look all Special Forces or Black Ops people have. The one that says you’ve seen too much to really trust anyone but your team ever again.”
At that, Graham didn’t know what to say, so he merely remained silent.
“Don’t see too many like that at these kind of events.” supplied O’Neill, his gaze sliding around the room in much the same way as Graham’s did. “Usually they’re pristine paper-pushers who’ve never seen any real action, let alone gone to war.”
“Not a fan of them, General?” asked Graham.
“They gush.” he said in pained exaggeration. “They gush like thirteen year olds to you face, while planning ways to tie your hands that ultimately get your people killed.”
“I don’t like that, Miller.” he said, turning to look him in the eye.
“Nobody does, sir.”
“But what about ‘Acceptable Losses’, Miller?” the General asked, and Graham felt like he was being tested on something, with no idea of the subject.
“There are no acceptable losses, General O’Neill.” he replied in a hard voice. He’d learned that with the Initiative. The soldiers lost have been deemed an ‘Acceptable Loss’, but to Graham they had been his friends, his team, and loosing them because of a superior on a power trip was not
“Making friends I see.” interrupted a third voice.
“General Davidson.” said Graham, standing straighter as he approached.
“Alan.” greeted O’Neill, a genuine smile lighting up his face, telling Graham that these men knew and liked each other.
“Jack. I see you’ve met Cpt Miller.” the Army General greeted as he shook O’Neill’s hand.
“A very talkative fellow.” he replied in a joking tone.
“They always are...” trailed off O’Neill as his gaze was caught by something else, and Graham could have sworn he heard a quiet ‘Oh, crap.’ coming from the Air Force General. Looking over, all Graham could see was the former Vice-President, and wondered how the man had managed an invite.
“Love to stay and chat, but I have about thirty seconds to be somewhere that’s not here.” O’Neill announced, turning back to his companions. “Miller, if you ever want to leave the jungle, give a call. Alan.”
And then he was gone with a skill Graham suddenly envied.
“You should be proud of yourself, Miller.” commented Davidson as he watched O’Neill disappear into the crowd.
“O’Neill doesn’t throw around transfers like that, especially not for that bae of his.” he explained. At the confused look on his soldier’s face, Davidson elaborated. “The Cheyenne Mountain facility is one of the most sought after posts in all the military, and that’s saying something considering no one really knows what goes on there.”
“But isn’t that an Air Force Base?”
“Technically, yes. But Air Force, Marines, Army, and even some Navy are involved.” he explained. “It’s large, it’s expensive, and it’s a big step on the career ladder, Miller.”
“I like what I’m doing, sir.” replied Graham to the unspoken question. He wasn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. “It’s important, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other post.”
“Funny, that’s what every soldier under O’Neill’s command says when offered a transfer.Funny, indeed.