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19 May 2012 @ 05:20 pm
Fic: Five Times Jack Met Sam in Alternate Universes (2/5) [SG-1]  
Title: Proven Wrong
Word Count: 1332
Rating: Teen and Up
Original/Fandom: Stargate: SG-1
Characters/Pairings: Jack, Sam
Warnings: none
Summary: Major Jack O'Neill is a guest lecturer at the US Air Force Academy. Cadet Samantha Carter has a lot of questions.
Notes: written for writerverse Table of Doom Five Times prompt.

Proven Wrong

Major Jack O’Neill watched as the lecture hall filled up slowly with a sea of crisp blue uniforms. He scanned the faces and wondered if he was ever that young, even as he distinctly remembered sitting in that very room, enduring countless lectures like the one he was about to give.

He chuckled quietly to himself and continued his analysis of his audience, seemingly a fairly typical class of cadets. The one standout was a young blonde woman sitting front-row center, a book open on her lap. She had apparently tuned out all conversation around her and was busily scribbling notes on whatever it was she was reading.

Colonel Kerrigan stood to introduce him and the class instantly quieted. The blonde quickly marked her place, stowed the book in her bag, flipped to the next page in her notebook, and sat, waiting expectantly, the model student. Jack shook his head grimly. Survival tactics and special ops were not topics that lent themselves to book learning. You could take all the notes you wanted, but if you didn’t have the instinct, they’d never help you out in the field. It happened all too often: kids in the field thinking they knew all the answers because they’d aced all the tests. He could still see Jones’ frozen, surprised expression as they zipped up the goddamn body bag.

He pushed that thought back into its mental box as he heard Kerrigan finishing up the intro. Jack breezed through his presentation, preferring to present a factual outline as efficiently as possible and allow student questions to guide the remainder of their time. He’d barely finished saying, “Now are there any questions?” before her hand was up in the air. He could see the wry grins on several of her classmates’ faces indicating that this was typical behavior, tolerated but not entirely welcomed.

“Yes, Cadet..?”

She jumped to her feet. “Cadet Samantha Carter, Sir.”

“Okay, Carter, what’s your question?”

Her question, and its several follow ups, were well thought out, quantifiable, and obviously indicative of a textbook mentality.

Jack sighed as her hand raised again and he held out his own hand to forestall her. “Look, Cadet, you obviously understand the material well enough to pass the exam. Let’s just leave it at that, all right? Let some of your classmates get a word in?”

A muffled chortle echoed from the back of the room. Her expression set mulishly, and she rose to her feet anyway. “Major, I’m just trying to understand...”

“Cadet Carter,” Jack cut her off brusquely. “I can tell that you are very, very smart. Someone with your brains is just not going to end up in the ass end of nowhere trying to survive with two paper clips and a stick of gum. You will be in a nice safe lab or classroom somewhere and your biggest worry will be how to find the coffee machine! Now, sit down.”

A red flush spread across her fair complexion as she stood frozen, her eyes locked on his. He waited to see if she would cry or run, but she just nodded and slowly took her seat, lips pressed tightly together.

There were a number of questions from other members of the class, but Jack had to admit that few of them were quite as insightful as Carter’s had been. She remained quiet for the rest of the time, listening intently, but leaving her pen lying idle on her notebook.

When they were dismissed, she grabbed her bag and exited quickly. As the other cadets filed out, Jack overheard snatches of the conversations.

“It’s about time she got reamed.”

“...not the best at everything, I guess.”

Jack maintained a blank poker face until all the students were gone, then looked at Kerrigan with a wince. “Too much?”

The colonel shrugged. “It was your show. And it never hurts to remind them that they have a lot to learn.”

“But?” Jack prompted.

“I think Carter might surprise all of us. I’ve never seen anyone with her tenacity or capacity to learn.” He took a seat and motioned for Jack to do the same. “So far, there is nothing she’s set her mind to that she hasn’t achieved. She might have start from the book, especially if something is new to her, but she gets there eventually. Probably do it a lot quicker than either of us did.”

He took in the slightly guilty look on Jack’s face and continued, “But really, Major, you were right. What are the chances that she’s going to be in the type of situations you’ve found yourself in?”

Jack sighed. “What’d you say? She might surprise us?”

Late autumn’s dusk had already started to give way to full dark by the time Jack left. He took a deep breath, enjoying the cold air, and tilted his head back to look at the stars. A wave of nostalgia had him turning away from the parking lot and hiking across the campus. He skirted the trees until he found the right area and then followed the partially overgrown trail up the hill to the spot where it opened to a small clearing.

~ ) O ( ~

Sam looked up the tiny sliver of moon just appearing in the dark sky. She’d dropped her bag in her room and come straight to her clearing in the hopes of clearing her head after that fiasco of a lecture. She had found this spot in her first year and treasured the little haven of privacy. She let her eyes go unfocused and just absorbed the silvery light. This was why she was here, she reminded herself: to go to the stars one day. Then, it would all be worth it: putting up with the whispers, the sacrifices, public embarrassment. She winced as she remembered the scorn on the major’s face.

She heard a noise from the trees and looked over to see Major O’Neill entering the clearing. Suppressing a groan at her unbelievably bad luck, she started to push up onto her feet, but he waved her off.

“As you were, Cadet.” She sat back warily, watching him now instead of the stars, the comfortable illusion of privacy shattered. His expression was unreadable as he stood under the half-shadows of the trees, hands jammed down into his pockets. Then he gave a wry smile and a little one-shoulder shrug. “Well, I did come all this way.” He sat down on the leaf-covered ground a little distance from her.

“About earlier, Cadet...” He sighed.

“I apologize for my behavior, Sir. I should have just sat down and shut up.”

Jack looked back up at the stars, fighting with himself. He was not known for being forgiving or sympathetic. The kids under his command generally referred to him as Major Hardass when they thought he wasn’t in earshot. But still... ‘I think Carter might surprise all of us.’

“Yeah, well, the fact that you didn’t might have earned you some bonus points in my book.” He saw her astonished grin out of the corner of his eye and warned, “Once I got past being angry.”

“Yes, Sir.” She chewed on her lip for a moment before rushing her question out. “Do you really think I wouldn’t be able to handle a real-life survival situation, Major?”

She held her breath as he considered her question.

“I don’t know, Cadet. You do know a lot, but knowledge from a book, or even from an expert, is still secondhand. It’s the application of all of that knowledge that can get tricky. You have to think fast. You won’t get a lot of time to hash out different strategies, different options.”

She nodded. “I understand, Sir.”

“I do know one thing, though. I don’t think I’d mind being proven wrong in this case.” His playful grin lifted some of the weight from her chest.

“I might just have to do that, Major,” she replied, her answering smile just visible in the moonlight.

Continue to #3: One Hour

Ami Ven: Team Proseami_ven on June 2nd, 2012 11:56 pm (UTC)
Very nice! I'm imagining now in this 'verse that Jack is the reason Sam becomes so awesome at saving the world with random household objects *g*
magickmoons: sammagickmoons on June 3rd, 2012 01:56 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it! And, yeah, I think his little push might bear fruit :)
Kate: Sam_blonde over bluesupplyship on June 7th, 2012 06:29 pm (UTC)
Daw, baby!Sam has a lot to learn. But I'm glad they made up at the end! :)
magickmoons: sam jack askewmagickmoons on June 7th, 2012 08:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I like to think that she wasn't always quite so 'perfect' as we see her later.

The ending was tough. The first few drafts were either way sappy or just ended up with Jack being a total hardass and Sam feeling as bad or worse than she did to begin with. I think I finally found the middle of the road there.

Glad you liked it!
Vashvash26 on June 10th, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
“Cadet Carter,” Jack cut her off brusquely. “I can tell that you are very, very smart. Someone with your brains is just not going to end up in the ass end of nowhere trying to survive with two paper clips and a stick of gum. You will be in a nice safe lab or classroom somewhere and your biggest worry will be how to find the coffee machine! Now, sit down.”

Ah, there is the reason she didn't end up in a nice safe lab (all the time...)
magickmoons: three amigosmagickmoons on June 10th, 2012 11:46 pm (UTC)
Indeed... Challenge accepted!