Title: For What it's Worth
Category: Epilogue, drama
Season/Spoilers: Season 5, Episode Tag for 'Ascension'
Archive: My site, Helio, TF, gengate, anywhere else, please ask.
Synopsis: Sam's logic finally kicks in.
Notes: I just saw Ascension for like, the fifth time the other night and finally, *finally* it dawned on me what had been bothering me so much about this episode. There was something missing, so I took the liberty of putting it in. :) And Jo... this isn't the story I promised you for being so wonderful (have to write you a nice danny-whumper <eg>) but I do thank you for putting up with my unfortunate knack for losing things... :) thanks, Jo. you rock.
She went through the mini-gate in her basement without authorization, without any kind of concrete assurances of where she was going or what situation she would find once she got there. All she had was Orlin's word.
And not even that… she followed his mere example. He didn't ask her to come. If he'd known what would happen, he probably would have asked her *not* to go. He would have told her just to stay where she was, to follow her orders. To not jeopardize herself for his sake.
So why'd she go?
Finally arriving at her lab, Sam abruptly cut off her own decidedly non-productive musings and slid her keycard. She opened the door, found her way to her workbench in the dark and switched on the desk lamp as she sat down.
Just as she expected, there were small stacks of paper all over the table bearing her own little penciled notes as well as those of her colleagues. There were discs and wires and pens and pencils, plain old graphite gray as well as a few colored ones. As her eyes grazed the surface of her desk, a folder caught her eye. She opened it only to see another small stack of papers… several sheets bearing the signatures of Colonel O'Neill and General Hammond.
She slammed the folder closed much harder than she'd meant to.
Why the sight of those signatures made her so ill was completely beyond her. No reason at all for such irrational behavior. They were doing their jobs, just like she should have been doing this whole time. She should have turned Orlin in as soon as he… turned human or whatever. Sure, she hadn't had any concrete proof at first, him not being corporeal, and all… but later… she didn't have any excuse.
But dammit! She was *furious*! How dare they? How *dare* they not trust her. How dare they think she was crazy, overworked, seeing things… what, did the Colonel think she was like, making up an imaginary friend to compensate for her distinct lack of real ones?
And her house. Her *house*. How could she ever feel safe there again? They'd been watching her and she hadn't even known. What… what if anything like this happened again? She'd never be able to relax… relegated to an existence of self-induced paranoia.
She sighed and clutched her forehead in her hands, yanking her hair with her fingers and closing her eyes.
Crap. She really didn't want to deal with this right now. What she really wanted to do was go home and clean. Scrub every surface, shampoo every rug, burn every article of her clothing that might have been sifted through by the strangers who'd searched her house, her cabinets, her drawers for things that might incriminate her. So, she said as much.
"I really don't want to deal with this right now."
"Considering the circumstances, Major, I'll let the insubordination slide…"
She rolled her eyes. "Great. Thanks. 'Preciate it."
"… But I would like to remind you of the *very* fine line you're walking."
Sam suddenly sobered and lifted her head, looking to the doorway. "Yes sir," she said. "Thank you, sir. I'll keep that in mind. But with all due respect, General, I have some work that's piled up. I should really see to it." She turned back to her workbench, swiveling on her chair so as to face it completely instead of the door, picked up a pen and pulled some paperwork toward her.
"Sam… I'm sorry," he said, softly. "For what it's worth."
Sam snorted. "Yeah, me too," she replied sarcastically under her breath. She didn't look up. She kept staring down at the gibberish on the paper on her desk, tapped her pen, until she heard his sigh and the sound of his highly polished shoes clipping slowly down the corridor outside.
Her eyes widened as she played her words back in her head.
Sam pushed herself away from the workbench, propelling the chair violently behind her as she bolted to her feet. She ran out the still open door and frantically looked down the corridor in both directions, sighing with relief as she saw the General just turning a corner. She ran full tilt after him, then slowed a bit as she caught up, though truthfully, military decorum was the last thing on her mind.
"General… Sir, please wait," she panted from within a few feet of him. He turned around, his face surprisingly… unsurprised. "Sir, I just want to…"
The General stilled her voice with a gentle hand on her shoulder. He steered her back in the direction of her office with a quiet, "Not out here," then closed the door behind them as they entered the room. He switched on the lights that Sam had neglected earlier.
"What did you want to say, Major?" he asked plaintively. Sam's eyes dropped to the floor. She hadn't known exactly what she *did* want to say, just that she had to say it. Then she remembered that last conversation in his office the night before, when Simmons was jumping down her throat.
"You defended me," she said quietly, bringing her eyes up to gauge his reactions.
"Yes I did. You had to know I would. And so did Colonel O'Neill, even if you weren't there to see it."
Sam nodded, finally acknowledging what she did already know. All she had seen from Colonel O'Neill were a few rather weak words protecting her from further interrogation by Colonel Simmons, but that didn't mean that was all there was. After all, she had sounded a little nuts, then later on, Simmons did have proof that she was harboring an alien in her home… She probably got more than she even deserved from Colonel O'Neill and General Hammond, considering the circumstances.
"Thank you," she said. And she meant it.
"You're welcome," he responded graciously.
"And… I'm sorry," Sam continued, her eyes dropping to the floor yet again. God, she felt like a little kid coming clean to her parents about some horrible offense.
Sam straightened. She was not a guilty little kid, she was a Major in the USAF, not to mention an adult. She replied in a strong voice, mentally accepting the consequences of her transgressions as she issued her confession.
"I harbored an alien life form in my home for a week then chose not to turn him in when I had the opportunity. I put the secrecy of this facility at risk and I compromised you, sir, and Colonel O'Neill… I put you both into a position to take a risk by defending someone who was potentially mentally unstable, as far as you knew for certain. Then I followed Orlin through that Gate he built in my basement-I didn't *think*-and I could have easily endangered the lives of the other team on the planet just by being there… and… I'm sorry, sir," she finished in a choked, soft voice. "For what it's worth."
Hammond nodded. "Thank you, Major. Apology accepted."
"I'm sorry it took so long for you to get it, sir," she continued hurriedly, not wanting to linger in silence. "But my, ah… logic… just kinda kicked in a minute ago…"
He huffed a short chuckle and smiled softly. "I understand."
Sam smiled back. "Good," she sighed. "That's good. Thanks."
The General nodded once to her again, turned to depart, then stopped short at the threshold and turned around. "Sam?"
Hammond crossed his arms over his chest and seemed to assume a very pensive pose as he stood there studying her. "Do you think you did the right thing?"
Sam went rigid as the question sank in. There had barely been a question in her mind the whole time. "Yes. I do."
"Good," he replied, satisfied by her answer, the brevity of his response puzzling her. She furrowed his brow in thought as the General turned again to leave. "I believe Colonel O'Neill is currently in his office."
Sam smiled at the not-so-subtle hint. "Yes sir."
She felt just a little bit lighter as she followed him out of the office.
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