Bits and Pieces #7
The firing range was roughly a mile from the entrance to the mountain, nestled in a narrow cut, the shooting area backed against a sandy stretch of hillside. Thick brick walls divided the long shooter's area into sections a little over six feet wide, designed to protect the shooters if any weapons misfired. A light roof jutted out from the brick walls to protect the users from the bright sun. Jack O'Neill stood eyeing the targets he'd set out, heavy safety glasses tipped up on his forehead, a pair of ear protectors dangling around his neck. It was early morning, so the place was empty, which was fine by him. He glanced over at Fraiser. She was wearing safety glasses as well as a heavy shooting jacket padded on the right shoulder. Ear muff-like ear protectors dangled around her neck. A low table sat along one wall of the cubicle, several guns and spare clips laid out on a blanket he'd brought along for that purpose.
The first part of the lesson went smoothly. As it turned out, Fraiser had a reasonable affinity for handguns and aside from assessing her skills and making one or two suggestions, he didn't have anything planned other than straightforward target practice. Once he knew what her skills were, he could work up some more practical scenarios that might sharpen her skills in more realistic situations.
As they changed topics, Janet peered at the MP5 he handed her with a smirk. "Well, this should be good for a cheap laugh," she sighed. At his curious look, she quickly explained. "The first shot or two is usually accurate enough, but after that, they head skyward."
"Ah," he said, nodding his understanding. It was a common problem with anyone unused to the ongoing kick of a submachine gun. "Well, let's see what we can do about that."
Several minutes later, he began to conclude the answer was -- not much. "You weren't kidding," he proclaimed after she'd fired the latest rounds at his insistence, and left another rising trail of holes in the target before bullets began kicking up dust in a scatter pattern on the hillside.
"Toldya," she sighed equally disgustedly.
He had her adjust her stance several times, but it didn't seem to help.
"I think you're actually getting worse," the colonel noted unhappily after another try.
"Yup," the doctor exhaled as she reached up to rub her right shoulder. Even with a padded shooting jacket, she was starting to feel the effects.
Noting her unsurprised tone, he looked back at her, his expression questioning.
"Been through this before," she responded to his unasked question. Her tone said it all.
"Well, at least our guys were in no great danger when you were shooting at 'em," he sighed. He was still considering the problem a moment later when a familiar figure popped around the edge of the divider.
"So, how's it going?" Sam Carter questioned as she smiled at her superior and the doctor.
Jack sighed softly and rolled his eyes, while Janet looked over at her friend. "Not so good," she admitted.
The colonel scratched the back of his head thoughtfully. "Actually, in fairness, she's pretty good with a handgun, but really weak with the MP5."
Shading her eyes with one hand, Sam noting the pattern of holes on the paper target. "Losing it on an upward trajectory," she said with the knowledge borne of experience.
Jack nodded. "We tried a couple of different things and I swear it made it worse."
A hint of a smile touched Carter's mouth. "Reload, then let's see your stance, " she murmured to Janet as she stepped behind her.
"I had her try a couple of tricks I know," O'Neill said, "but they didn't help at all."
Sam nodded, watching as the doctor took her position. "Okay," she murmured, then used the toe of her boot to readjust Janet's feet so her stance was a little more open, then she reached around the woman, resettling the stock against a slightly different point on her shoulder. "Take a breath, and really tighten the stock to your shoulder, then let your breath out as you go to fire," Sam said from her position near Janet's shoulder. "You want to be ever so slightly above it so you're using your weight to keep the barrel down..." She patted Janet's shoulder lightly, "Just take a breath and do it," then lifted the doctor's ear protectors into position before stepping back and putting on her own guards. She glanced over as the colonel followed suit.
A beat passed and then the doctor opened fire, muscles clenching with the effort required to control the weapon. After emptying close to half the clip, she tipped the barrel up, peering at the results with raised brows. It wasn't great by any means, but it was a vast improvement. Had she been shooting at an enemy, they might have actually been in a tiny bit of danger.
"Okay, so I'm the one with the job of teaching her weapons use because?" O'Neill drawled.
Sam glanced back at her superior, her smile ironic. "Because in general, you're better with them than I am ... particularly when it comes to field exercises ... but most of the tricks you probably tried only work if you've got more upper-body strength. Dealt with the problem myself a few times." Working with men who were mostly larger and stronger for most of her professional life, she'd found any number of ways of compensating.
Fraiser was still staring at the results of her efforts in shock. "I actually hit the target ... more than once, I mean." She shook her head a little dazedly. "That's something of a first."
Sam grinned and clapped her on the shoulder. "Well, make sure it isn't a last," she teased gently, then advised more seriously, "but if it comes down to a real situation, try to keep it to a three shot burst. It's a lot more controllable."
Fraiser pivoted, a sarcastic remark on the tip of her tongue, though she was grinning happily. And then suddenly her expression froze as she stared at a point somewhere past Sam's shoulder. "Damn."
Carter tensed and a confused frown creased the colonel's expression.
"Phillips," the doctor exhaled in response to Sam's unspoken question.
The blond did a half turn, her head coming around until she spotted the man sitting behind the wheel of a newly arrived jeep, reflective sunglasses hiding his eyes, his attention firmly focused on the doctor. As Sam turned to look at him, he suddenly slid out of the vehicle, reaching into the back for a rifle case and an ammo box.
"Phillips?" O'Neill repeated as he noted the young man. "Isn't that the guy you ... uh--" He paused, uncertain quite how to phrase it.
"Yes, sir," Fraiser said impatiently without offering any more information.
So Sam did it for her. "He asked her out the other day."
"And again yesterday," Janet added. "And he's kind of popped up a couple of other times...." The airman in question disappeared out of her range of view, and she relaxed fractionally.
"Sounds like you made quite an impression," Jack drawled with a knowing grin.
Dark eyes blazed. "Not funny, sir," Janet bit out, not precisely angry, but definitely tense.
O'Neill noted the response and realized he'd overstepped almost instantly. He flashed an uneasy look toward the jeep as though half expecting to see the young airman back watching them. "He giving you a problem?" he asked seriously.
There was a long pause as Fraiser considered the question. Other than asking her out twice -- which was improper for any number of reasons, but also not in the least uncommon -- there was nothing specific, but.... "Not exactly," she admitted hesitantly.
"You want me to talk to him?" the colonel offered seriously. "Make sure he understands he needs to back off."
The doctor shook her head, uncomfortable with the notion of involving a superior officer when she wasn't quite certain what was going on. Phillips' behavior had her edgy, but other than being inappropriately pushy, she couldn't point to anything he'd done that was terribly worrisome. As much as anything, it was something about the way he looked at her that put her teeth on edge. Even when he was nowhere near her, it left her feeling like he'd invaded her personal space. "I don't think that's necessary, sir. I think he's just going a little overboard--"
"Janet, you didn't tell me he'd asked you out a second time," Sam murmured worriedly. "Maybe you should let the colonel talk to him." Janet wasn't one to over-react; the fact that she was so obviously rattled had Sam worried.
Jack met his 2IC's gaze for a moment. "It's no problem," he assured the doctor. He'd had a few friendly chats with younger guys in the service when they got a little overly hormonal. He knew the drill.
Janet shook her head after a moment's consideration. "He hasn't done anything threatening ... or even intimidating. It's just a little...." She trailed off, then continued more practically as she explained, "You have to understand, the look usually scares them off the first time."
Sam shared an understanding look with the doctor that left the colonel out of the loop. She knew that technique all too well. There were plenty of guys in the service who didn't have much use for the regs restricting relationships between officers and enlisted if they found a woman attractive, and were more than willing to take a chance, since rules against fraternization were only sporadically enforced.
"Well, it sounds like it's not doing the trick this time," O'Neill pointed out. He glanced back at the jeep again. "Of course, it could just be a coincidence that he's here."
"Yeah," Fraiser exhaled uncertainly, hesitant to make accusations, but at the same time, uncomfortable with the situation. "Don't say anything," she decided at last, then shook her head, consciously throwing the uneasiness off. She was being ridiculous and half the problem was probably just her left-over discomfort with her own actions in tricking the young airman. The fact that he'd refused to simply ignore what had happened only made it worse. Hopefully, with her most recent rejection, he'd get the point and give it a rest. "I'm sure it's nothing."
"You change your mind ... or if he does something else, just let me know," O'Neill said firmly. He wasn't the most socially evolved guy around, but he had no use for men who couldn't take no for an answer.
Janet offered an ironic smile as she turned back to the equipment table and began loading a fresh clip for the MP5. "I'm not the little woman who needs looking after, sir," she said more sharply than she intended.
"No," O'Neill disagreed without appearing to notice her sharp tone. "You're a captain and I'm a colonel. And if there's a problem, helping deal with it is part of my job description."
Janet winced. "Sorry, sir," she apologized quickly. "I'm just a little on edge."
"Keep shooting," Sam advised, purposely lightening the tone of things. "I find it works wonders for dumping stress." Her voice made it plain she knew exactly what the doctor was going through.
"Why do I have a funny feeling I don't want to know what you two imagine you're aiming for when you fire that thing?" O'Neill deadpanned.
Grinning, Sam levered herself up to sit on the equipment table, then reached out and began loading another spare clip for the MP5. "I dunno, sir," she said innocently, though something entirely too cheerful for his comfort glittered in her eyes.
"Guess that answers that question," he grumbled good-naturedly.
A half an hour later, Sam took off, having already stayed longer than she intended. She'd really just meant to check and make certain Janet actually appeared for her scheduled training session, but had opted to stay longer when Phillips appeared, sensing that her friend was more bothered by it all than she was letting on. As she walked toward her car, she glanced toward the other cubicles and found Tony Phillips looking back at her. She frowned, questioning her own certainty that he was watching her. He had his head down and appeared to be cleaning his weapon, the reflective sunglasses hiding his eyes making it impossible to tell where he was looking. A shiver slid down her spine and she forced herself to look away, but she couldn't shake the sensation as she stepped into her car that he was tracking her the whole way. The sense of being watched didn't leave her till she'd rounded the bend and the firing range was out of sight in her rear view mirror.
* * * * * *
As a member of the security detail, it was easy enough for Tony Phillips to log into the security section's computer file when he was on duty. Five minutes and he had everything he needed.
Due to the ongoing risk of contaminants escaping the tightly controlled confines of the base, the SGC security division kept far more personal data on its personnel than a standard command would. Knowing they might have to move quickly to contain an event one day, everything possible was listed in the personnel files; security codes for alarm systems, roommates, live-in lovers, spouses, children, even pets. There were names, ages, and pictures listed, all of it easily accessible to the security personnel who might need it during an emergency.
Captain Janet Fraiser lived alone, not even a dog to raise an alarm, and an entrance code was listed for her garage door opener.
A printout of her schedule sitting within reach on the front seat, Tony parked on a dark, shadowed section of her street a short distance from her house. He only had to wait a little while before her blue Toyota appeared. He watched as she parked her car in the garage, then exited, leaving the door to slide shut in her wake; tracked her as she retrieved her mail from the box and the newspaper on the front porch before entering the pleasant little house. Lights flicked on and off behind draped windows, allowing him to track her movements.
"She's all yours, child,"the silky voice whispered in his head. "Our gift for your loyalty."
His breath caught as a light glowed in what he was sure was her bedroom and a shadowed figure was briefly projected on the curtains. "Mine?" he groaned uncertainly as he felt Hathor's touch slide around and through him. Gasping as though he'd run a marathon, he looked back up at the window, seeing another flicker of a human shadow, stretching slowly ... peeling off her clothes, he realized in a rush of heat.
"You need only take your gift. It's easy enough,"the goddess promised, "she's right there and she has no right to reject you ... just take what's yours." More silky words and promises had him almost dizzy with need, pressing him to move forward and simply take what he'd been promised, an ugly edge of violence sneaking into the sensual suggestions, turning them dark and obscene.
And suddenly Tony shook his head in horror as he realized what she wanted him to do. "No," he hissed, fighting her presence in his mind as she kept whispering profane commands. "Not that way." And suddenly he was starting the car, his hands trembling violently as he pulled away from the curb and gunned the engine hard to roar away from the black temptations running through his mind. "Not that way," he whispered over and over.
* * * * * *
"Doctor, you must rise," Teal'c's tone was a study in subtle exasperation.
Janet opened one eye to peer up at the figure looming over her. If she hadn't already known he was annoyed, she would never have guessed from the unreadable expression on his face. Other than the faintest deepening of the creases on either side of his mouth, he offered few clues to his mood. She linked her fingers a little tighter at the back of her neck and shook her head. "No." Lucky her. Warner had rechecked her wounded arm and cleared her for the self-defense class. She was going to get him for that.
A tiny sigh escaped the Jaffa's lips, another sign that she was really bugging the hell out of him, Janet realized in a rush, finding it oddly fascinating to hunt for the infinitesimally small cues to the big man's mood. "Doctor," he began after a moment of thought, "you will learn nothing of self-defense lying on the floor."
"I won't learn anything if I get up either," Janet pointed out, her tone logical, "and I'll wind up back down here anyway. Consider this cutting out the middle man." That got another sigh from the big man, and even a faint ticking of one eyebrow. She really was getting to him, Janet realized, fascinated by this new game.
"Doctor," his voice deepened a notch, taking on a faintly impatient edge, "there is no other man here ... in the middle or anywhere else ... and were there, we are using no sharp edged weapons with which to cut anything."
"Cutting out the middle man," Janet corrected him cheerfully without moving an inch. In fact, she settled a little more comfortably into the thick mat on the floor of the exercise room. "And it's a saying," she explained, a grin touching her lips as she caught his faint eye-roll. The Tau'ri tendency toward meaningless slang was clearly getting on his nerves. Some days he appeared to find it riveting. At that exact moment, she was comfortably certain he just found it irritating. "It refers to removing a pointless step in an activity." His shoulders tensed fractionally. "In this case, it means that it's easier -- and considerably less painful -- for me to just lie here on the floor, where I'm going to wind up anyway, rather than get up, have you demonstrate the latest 'unbeatable' hold, tell me to try it and then find out it's not quite so unbeatable after all as you respond with the one known countermeasure." She made a face. They'd already gone through that exact pattern several times. "At which point I wind up flying through the air and slamming into the floor more or less in the position I'm in now." She took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, her own annoyance far less subtle than his. "So I think I'll just save a step or two and stay here, thank you very much."
The single raised eyebrow rose another notch, and he folded his hands together at the small of his back as he peered down at her, rather amazed to find himself put in such a position by one, small female. "You do not believe I should also teach you the countermoves?" he asked on a tiny note of disbelief.
"Truthfully, it would be nice to get a chance to practice the move a time or two first," she admitted, thinking maybe he was finally starting to see reason on the whole subject. "Or at least get a little warning."
"And do you believe that an enemy bent on your destruction will allow you to practice first or offer you warnings?" he inquired, his tone never breaking from its usual courteous timbre, though she was aware enough to catch the tiny, acidic note hidden inside the utter blandness.
"Well, no, but--"
"Then your training must reflect this--"
"And how am I supposed to learn anything when I'm spending most of my time thudding face first into the mat?" she demanded equally logically. Other than learning how to breathe past the pain of her chest muscles seizing up, she wasn't entirely certain what she was getting out of the deal.
"In deference to your lack of physical prowess, I have made certain not to throw you anywhere face first," he said defensively, his tone indicating he'd made more allowance to their relative sizes than he would have preferred. "Now, rise." He even offered her a hand up, a considerable concession from his point of view.
The doctor rolled her eyes, teeth gritting to resist the urge to yell. "No," she reiterated firmly.
"Doctor--" his deep voice vibrated ever so slightly; irritation and something that probably came as close to whining as the Jaffa was capable of.
"No," she repeated impatiently. "I'm not getting up just so I can get thrown right back down here." That plan seemed silly at best.
"This is how Jaffa have always been trained," he explained, his voice tightening ever so slightly as he remembered his own days of getting beaten down time after time, the importance of countering each move driven home by the pain rattling through his body. In the end he had learned every possible move and counter-move, and counter-counter-move, and--
"In case you haven't noticed," the doctor's frustrated growl broke in on his musings, "I'm not a Jaffa."
"Which is why we have begun so slowly," he responded with forced patience, "And why I will use no killing moves." Captain Carter would be most angry if he permanently damaged the doctor, but he was also aware just how worried his teammate was about the woman lying on the floor -- something the female in question seemed to have little appreciation for. However, having taken on the duty of training her to best care for herself in a combat situation, he had every intention of seeing the duty done to the best of his ability ... something she was not making any easier.
Janet couldn't contain a small severely irritated growl. "Gee, thanks for small favors." She was going to kill Sam when this was over -- assuming of course that she was still alive.
"We will begin the next maneuver," he stated in a tone that brooked no argument, completely ignoring her sarcasm.
"Is there some aspect of the word, 'No,' that isn't getting through?" She was actually perversely pleased with herself when he muttered something under his breath in an alien language. Not a compliment, that was for sure.
Which was the impasse Sam walked in on a moment or two later. She was smiling, her voice light. "Hey, guys...." Right up until she noticed the edge of tension between her teammate and the doctor. She looked back and forth between the two of them. Uh oh. "Problem?" she asked a little hesitantly.
"Doctor Fraiser refuses to continue with her training."
"What training?" Fraiser demanded defensively. "Extended lessons in how to get hammered into the floor?"
"Umm--" Sam began cautiously, but Teal'c beat her to it.
"Counter-moves have always been taught to Jaffa in this manner."
"Then it's a wonder any of them survive the training."
"It produces the finest warriors in the universe."
Sam's eyes bounced back and forth like a spectator at a tennis match. Janet was just drawing breath to respond -- heatedly by the look of things -- when Sam held up a hand for silence. "Whoa." She looked back and forth between the two of them. "Would somebody please tell me what's going on here?"
"Doctor Fraiser has refused to continue the training for no reason."
Sam knew Janet had been leery of the self-defense workouts with Teal'c but she had a hard time envisioning the other woman simply refusing without cause.
"No reason?" Janet exploded and pushed up on her hands, fastening an irritated glare on Sam. "You get him to tell you what his version of training is," she demanded, pointing an accusing finger at the Jaffa.
Sam turned a questioning look in her teammate's direction.
Teal'c stiffened ever so slightly. "I am using the finest Jaffa training techniques," his tone carried its usual unemotional flatness, but fierce pride glowed in his eyes. "Doctor Fraiser can do no better than if she learns what I can teach her."
"Ah huh," Sam exhaled uncertainly, looking back and forth between them.
"And do you know how a Jaffa goes about those lessons?" Janet questioned, her sarcasm every bit as obvious as his was subtle.
Sam had to admit she didn't. "No," she exhaled cautiously.
The doctor leaned back on her hands, legs stretched out in front of her, her tone curiously satisfied. "He shows me the maneuver ... tells me it's some version of unbeatable ... then, while I'm still trying to figure out the stance and positioning for the first time, he demonstrates the counter maneuver...."
Sam's brows shot up.
"...and introduces me to the mat ... we're pretty much going steady now, but it's not a pleasant relationship ... it's quite painful in fact. Truthfully, I'm thinking we should break up."
Sam winced, then turned an uncertain look on her teammate. "Don't you give her at least a practice run or two before you start demonstrating additional moves?"
His head cocked to one side, his tone genuinely mystified. "Would an attacker allow her a chance to practice?"
"Ah hah," Janet said triumphantly. "That's what he says every time I make that suggestion." She shook her head. "And the next thing I know I'm kissing the mat ... WHUMP." She slapped her hand into the floor to emphasize her point, the sound making Carter jump.
It had never occurred to Sam to ask Teal'c about any specific plans when he'd offered to teach the doctor some moves. She'd just assumed he'd more or less follow the patterns she was used to from hand-to-hand classes, of demonstrating a maneuver and practicing it before any kind of fighting class. Obviously she'd overlooked a few key facts about Jaffa training methods. She sighed softly, holding up a hand to Teal'c and crouched down to talk to Fraiser, her voice low enough to keep the discussion between them. "You okay?"
The doctor nodded, her hostility level dropping noticeably as she explained more calmly. "I'm okay ... at this point, but, Sam, I can't do this." She shook her head. "I realize this may be standard training for a Jaffa, but I'm no Jaffa ... and a few more throws like the ones I've already experienced, and I'm not gonna be able to walk tomorrow."
Sam patted Janet's shoulder lightly and offered a sympathetic smile. "Okay, new plan," she said as she pushed to her feet. She peeled off her cammie jacket and tossed it aside. "Teal'c, I think it might be best if you explain and show Doctor Fraiser the move and positioning, but I'll work with her doing the actual practice demonstrations." She glanced at Janet to make certain that would meet with her approval and she nodded her acceptance of the plan.
"That will not be as effective," Teal'c said softly, his disapproval as subtle as any other emotion, well aware that Carter would not be nearly as rigorous as he would be.
"But eminently more survivable," the doctor groaned, reaching back as Sam held out a hand and pulled her to her feet.
"Gentleness is no kindness in such matters," the Jaffa pronounced grimly. "A real attacker would not allow practice or restrain his blows--"
"I know, Teal'c," Sam said practically, "but we want Doctor Fraiser to live long enough to actually face an attacker." And she was kind of hoping for her own survival as well -- something that was somewhat in question judging by the look in Janet's eyes.
Teal'c raised an eyebrow at least a quarter of an inch, signaling his exasperation with the comment. Well aware of his own strength, he would never have allowed Doctor Fraiser to be seriously injured. "Her survival was in no doubt," he intoned grimly.
Janet stood massaging the back of her neck silently, giving them time to work it out. All she knew was no way in hell was she going any more rounds with Teal'c. That was just asking for the chiropractor's bill to beat all chiropractor's bills.
"I know," Sam assured her colleague, "but I think maybe we need to adjust Jaffa training a little bit to account for Air Force protocols ... and since I'm experienced in hand to hand combat, let's just give it a try." She glanced over at the doctor, then back at Teal'c. "So, what are we doing?"
Teal'c inclined his head ever so slightly. "I was teaching Doctor Fraiser the maneuver known as zaj'jaref. It is useful for dealing with an attacker striking from behind."
"Okay," Sam said agreeably, then took up her position in the spot Teal'c pointed at.
"Now, attempt to grab Doctor Fraiser ... and do not do less than your best or she will learn nothing."
Sam nodded, then braced herself and lunged, fully planning on getting an arm across the smaller woman's throat and toppling her to the floor in a hammerlock.
Except it didn't quite work that way.
The doctor's elbow came down and back, slamming hard into Sam's solar plexus, somehow following a different pattern than the classic move she'd long ago learned to counter. And then somehow -- Sam was never entirely certain of the exact means -- she went flying, her body momentarily airborne before she hit the none-too-padded surface of the mat, skidding for a short distance before she slid to a halt. Suddenly sympathizing with what Janet had gone through, she lay gasping, thoroughly winded.
"As I feared, you do not know the appropriate counter maneuver to properly challenge Doctor Fraiser's use of the zaj'jaref," Teal'c murmured disapprovingly.
Sam just tried to catch her breath, while Janet knelt down beside her friend, curving a light hand to her shoulder. "Oh God, Sam, I'm sorry," she apologized quickly. "Are you okay?"
Carter got a hand up and nodded shakily. "'Mokay," she croaked, still struggling to drag air into her lungs.
"You sure?" Janet fretted, her eyes sliding over the long lean frame with worried intensity, making sure there was no real damage.
"I'm sure," Sam wheezed, though she didn't sound as confident as she would have liked.
Teal'c stepped over to peer down at his teammate, his gaze assessing. "You must not pander to the doctor," he chided Sam seriously, "or she will learn nothing."
"Who's pandering," Sam groaned and rolled to her feet, one arm braced across her midsection, the other curved to the supportive hand Janet offered.
Teal'c considered the comment. "She does show some facility for close combat," he allowed.
"Now he tells me," the blond muttered under her breath, then straightened her shoulders. "Okay, let's try this again," she said as she caught her breath.
"Remember, you must use all of your skills," Teal'c advised and she eyed him suspiciously, trying to decide if he was making a joke.
"Right," she muttered.
"Are you sure about this?" Janet murmured worriedly.
"Let's do it," Sam growled, her competitive edge triggered by the note of worry in her friend's voice. After all, she was the one with the combat experience. She straightened her shoulders and wiped at the thin trail of sweat on her upper lip. A quick nod of confirmation and they both positioned themselves.
This time, Sam changed her angle of attack slightly, neatly avoiding the elbow aimed for her ribs so that it glanced harmlessly off her side. Shifting her hands quickly, she got a hand around the doctor's arm, pinning it effectively, but Teal'c barked out a command and the smaller woman shifted her feet, the new position making Sam's balance far more precarious. She shifted to counter, the maneuver sending both of them tumbling. A fast roll and the blond was suddenly on top, Janet pinned face down to the mat beneath her. "Give?" Sam panted near her friend's ear as she pressed one wrist to the floor over her head and twisted the other into position at the small of her back. She felt the smaller woman tense, muscles rippling as she fought to throw Sam off, but the position was too solid.
"Break," Teal'c said sharply when it was obvious Fraiser wasn't going to break the hold.
Sam quickly rolled free and regained her feet, then reached down to tug Janet up, a tiny triumphant grin curving her lips. That was much better.
Teal'c pulled the doctor aside, quietly speaking to her as she took a moment to regain her bearings and catch her breath. The formal rules for Jaffa or Air Force training were suddenly out the window as they made things up from a cobbled together combination of both techniques.
This time Janet countered Sam's attack and tossed her neatly over one shoulder, but not before Sam managed to roll into the throw and bring Janet along for the ride. They tumbled and Sam came up with the advantage. It didn't last long as the doctor used a move Carter had never seen before to break the hold. She went tumbling, but came up fast and they were tangled again before Janet could roll free.
Teal'c simply stepped out of the way as the grappling session threatened to tumble into his lower legs. "Remember, the first rule of combat is to show no fear of your opponent," he lectured the doctor needlessly. "Keep pressing in closer at all times. An enemy will expect you to strike and pull back, but you must always keep pressuring until your victory is absolute."
"Hear that?" Janet panted as she momentarily got the upper hand, knees straddling Sam's hips, her hands locked around narrow wrists and pressing them into the mat over the other woman's head. "I have to keep pressuring for absolute victory."
Carter grinned up at her friend. "Or absolute capitulation...."
Teal'c glanced up from the fight between the two women, well aware of the moment Jack O'Neill first entered the gym as well as the look of appreciation on the other man's face. Which was to be expected of course, both Carter and Fraiser were beautiful women and their sheer intensity as they sparred left them both glowing with an appealing sensuality. Were he not concentrated on his task, he would have been inclined to pause and appreciate the sight himself. However, he would have avoided being as obvious as Jack O'Neill.
Then his attention snapped back to the two women as Carter reversed her hands, breaking the hold, then tossing the smaller woman aside to roll for her feet. Fraiser was faster than he would have predicted and had nearly reached her feet by the time Carter was on her again. But experience paid off and the blond quickly got the doctor into a solid half nelson.
"Break," he called sharply and gestured them apart, speaking to the doctor for a moment, his hands sketching a complex pattern for her benefit as he explained another maneuver. Out of the corner of one eye, he caught sight of Daniel Jackson's entrance. The younger man started to speak, but Colonel O'Neill held up a hand for silence even as the women retook their positions, so focused on one another that they never noticed their audience. A moment later, the two women were tangled up again, surprisingly well matched despite the height difference. Fraiser was stronger and faster than expected, and she was remarkably quick to absorb the moves he was showing and explaining to her, their timing and angle of attack very different from those Carter had been trained to react to. Not that she would be likely to win in real combat against Captain Carter, but in a fighting class she could almost keep up.
He barked a sharp order to the doctor, pleased when she dropped her shoulder the way he had taught her, then used her braced position to get one of the captain's arms pinned. The moment of victory was short lived though, as Sam twisted out of the hold, then rolled Fraiser over one shoulder to send her tumbling. The doctor rolled, using her momentum to regain her feet and Carter quickly followed. The sparring continued as they wrestled determinedly, until finally the brunette hit the mat hard.
"What was that about 'Absolute victory?'" Sam panted as she pinned Janet beneath her, using her weight to lock her friend's wrists to the mat above her head.
Teal'c's gaze flicked toward the entrance to the gym, noting that several more men had arrived, all of them grinning appreciatively. He experienced a moment of irritation at the lack of subtlety shown by Tau'ri males, well aware that the women would lose their concentration and become uncomfortable were they to become cognizant of the heated sexual perusal directed their way.
And then his eyes were drawn back to the mat as the doctor responded with a quip, "Something about, 'Keep up the pressure.'" And then she twisted her hands in Sam's tight grip, effectively duplicating the blond's earlier maneuver to send her tumbling. She was learning quickly.
Carter rolled to one knee, then opted not to push to her feet, instead leaning back as she hooked an arm around Janet's waist while she was still unbalanced. The position gave Sam maximum control over the situation while denying the doctor any time to maneuver. She yanked hard, tumbling Janet forward. Muscles flexing to control the smaller woman's fall, Sam turned with her, getting an arm around her from behind as she dropped her face first to the mat. At the same time, she pushed off, straddling slender hips, trying for another pin, but Fraiser twisted too quickly for her to get a solid grip.
They were both breathing hard, their skin gleaming with sweat, their attention fully focused on one another to the exclusion of all else. Even Teal'c's occasional commands had become extraneous to the battle between them. He could sense the edge of competition that was an integral part of both their natures, but also something else sharper and more intense ... which he suspected they weren't even particularly aware of ... though their audience was, if only at a superficial, fantasy level.
Fraiser rolled onto her back beneath Carter, hands coming up in an effort to topple the blond to one side, but Carter's fingers tangled with hers, slamming her hands back to the mat. Muscles flexing with the force of their struggle, they both fought to gain a clear upper hand, every effort sending a fresh ripple of tension through already taut sinews.
"It won't work," Sam panted as she felt Janet try to shift the angle of her forearms in hopes of breaking the tightly locked grip on her hands.
The brunette tipped her head back on her shoulders, peering up at their twined hands, every muscle in her body straining to shift the balance of power if only for a moment. Sam adjusted for the planned maneuver, putting more body weight on her hands and pulling her elbows in tighter so her forearms were pressed against Janet's, the additional pressure certain to force the smaller woman's arms back to the mat. "Very confident, aren't you?" she growled through gritted teeth.
The blond nodded. "Very," she admitted. One of the men could probably have broken the hold, but Janet simply didn't have the upper body strength, especially now that they were both so winded.
Janet half expected Teal'c to call for them to break, but he'd apparently decided to stay out of it this time, leaving her on her own. Sam's fingers were laced with her own, making simply twisting out of the tight grip nearly impossible, while the taller woman's weight bearing down on her arms and chest severely restricted any upper body movement. She tried a kickout, but Sam simply elongated her body, using her greater height to her advantage.
"Give?" the blond exhaled hopefully, the strain of holding the tightly stressed position making every muscle in her body ache.
Janet glanced up at their twined hands again, hunting for some way to break her friend's hold. Just once she wanted to deny the other woman the pin. "I--"
"So is anybody else thinking that with a couple of bikinis and a few gallons of mud, we could make enough to pay off the national debt?" The raucous comment wasn't especially loud, but in the confines of the nearly silent gym, it couldn't go unmissed.
Sam's chin rose and she turned her head toward the unfamiliar voice even as a far more familiar one reached her ears.
"Jesus, Royce, can't you ever keep your mouth shut?"
Colonel O'Neill, she realized in a rush, and he was slapping the shoulder of a rather scrawny, young lieutenant J.G. And then she realized she and the doctor had an audience ... not an incredibly small one either; better than half a dozen officers and airmen all packed into one end of the room. O'Neill offered a weak grin as he realized they'd been caught, while Daniel just groaned and hid his face in one hand. Sam would have turned bright crimson if she hadn't already been so flushed from exertion.
Then, before she could say a word, the world was unexpectedly spinning past her. She rolled with the momentum, coming up to one knee just as Janet locked a forearm across her throat from behind and wrapped her other arm around Sam's, effectively pinning her in place.
Sam knew almost the exact instant the doctor fully processed the presence of their audience. She hadn't been able to see them from her position on the mat and had probably thought it was just one of the guys being an ass. Clearly, she hadn't realized it was several of the guys being asses. The pressure on Sam's arm and neck relaxed and she felt a faint gust of air near her ear as Janet exhaled, "What the hell?"
Not exactly the moment of triumph Fraiser had momentarily hoped for.
"I ... uh ... we were just leaving," Colonel O'Neill muttered, suddenly eager to flee ... which would have been considerably easier were he not so comfortably settled on an equipment bin that decided to go tumbling as he hurriedly pushed to his feet. He grabbed for it and managed to make even more noise, while several of the younger men scrambled to get out the swinging doors as fast as their feet could take them, none of them eager to be on the bad side of the two women on the floor. Carter was responsible for getting everyone through the gate safely, while Fraiser had total control over the medical care they received. And it suddenly occurred to them that it wasn't especially wise to run afoul of either woman.
Sam and Janet turned stereo looks of confusion on Teal'c, who simply shook his head ever so slightly as O'Neill continued to fumble with the equipment bin, Daniel's efforts to help making things even worse. "Next time we will use one of the private training rooms," he intoned in a voice thick with disapproval.
Sam batted Janet's arm away from her throat and hauled her arm free of the doctor's now-loose hold. "Thanks, Teal'c," she murmured, not knowing what else to say.
Most of the men had fled by then, eager to save their skins, while Jack and Daniel were still desperately trying to conquer the equipment bin with little or no effect. And then the whole thing toppled anew, the weight sending the two men sprawling amid the scattering of equipment.
A lone basketball went rolling across the room, the sight almost comical....
Or it would have been if it hadn't been for the hand that reached down, easily scooping it up.
Sam met Tony Phillips' unreadable gaze, eerily reminded of the look she'd sensed from behind mirrored lenses. Only this time she could see his eyes clearly ... she just couldn't get any more meaning out of their expression than she had with the barrier in place. She felt Janet tense as his eyes raked over her. Then his gaze rose. The gym had a basketball net at one end for half court games, and Sam realized what he intended to do at almost the same moment he moved, arms coming up, rising up on his toes ever so slightly. The shot was perfect, arcing gracefully through the air.
He turned and was out the door even as the ball drilled the net.
Sam felt Janet jump as it hit the floor, the sound like a rifle shot, before it trailed into progressively smaller percussive bounces. The doctor shoved to her feet suddenly.
"I ... uh ... I should get a shower," Fraiser gasped shakily, uncertain why she was so bothered by the whole thing. Being ogled by the men in the military was hardly a new experience, though admittedly, they usually tried to be a bit less obvious about it. She flashed a glare at O'Neill who had the good graces to wince. Unfortunately, with the colonel's cheerfully leering leadership-- She cut that thought off right there, certain that if she didn't, she was going to throttle him.
"Janet, wait--" Sam started as she scrambled for her feet, but the doctor was already hurrying for the swinging doors.
"Later," the brunette clipped and glanced at her watch in a poor attempt to cover for her edginess. "I'm due at a meeting shortly."
Sam pulled up short, staring after her friend uncertainly.
"Sorry," O'Neill apologized with his best hangdog expression after the doctor had slipped out.
Molars grinding, Sam turned an angry glare on her superior. "Would you just grow the hell up?" she snarled furiously.
He shrugged a little helplessly. "Aw, come on, Carter," he offered his best boyish grin, which only seemed to make her angrier, "you can't blame a guy for--"
"Yes, I can," she cut him off, flinging a hand toward the doors. "The fact that you opted to behave like a fourteen year-old boy who's never seen a woman before is bad enough, but you knew that guy was creeping her out, and you sat there on your ass while he got his kicks--"
"Hey, you've gotta believe I didn't know he was--"
"Whatever," she said sharply, shaking her head. "I really appreciate the team support," she snarled acidly, then turned a hurt look Daniel's way where he was desperately trying to make like wallpaper and blend into the surroundings. "Y'know, Daniel, I really thought better of you--"
He winced and couldn't summon the words to respond.
"Carter, that's not fair. Daniel didn't--," Jack started to defend the other man since he was the one at fault, his tone considerably subdued as it sank in that she was really angry this time.
"Fair?" Sam rounded on him. "Sir, to be perfectly frank, I don't think that's a good word to be using at this exact moment." She was just drawing breath to let loose a tirade of angry words when a hand landed on her shoulder.
"Go," Teal'c said softly, his tone brooking no argument. "I will speak to Colonel O'Neill and Daniel Jackson."
Sam stood undecided, so angry at her teammates she could barely see straight. Christ, it was bad enough that the others she had to put up with that kind of crap from some of the others, but she hadn't expected it from the colonel and Daniel.
"Go," Teal'c repeated, the hand on her shoulder urging toward the door. "It is obvious that Doctor Fraiser was disturbed and may need the assistance of a friend," he added pointedly.
Sam looked up abruptly, the reminder like a gutpunch. "Right ... we'll schedule the next session later," she added. She flashed O'Neill another glare, shaking her head disgustedly as she hurried out.
The colonel heaved a sigh of relief as his second in command exited. "Thanks, Teal'c, I wasn't sure--"
"Your behavior was unacceptable," the Jaffa bit out, the words all the harsher for their apparent lack of anger.
"But--" Jack tried to wave it away. It's not like it was a big deal after all. Sheez, who could blame a guy for admiring a coupla gorgeous women wrestling with each other? Men paid real money to see that sort of thing. Hell, he'd paid real money to see that sort of thing. Was he supposed to just walk away?
"Jack, just shut up," Daniel added his own voice thick with recrimination. "Jesus," he exhaled, shaking his head in confusion, "and what the hell was up with that airman?" he added, not understanding at all.
"Indeed?" Teal'c murmured, his voice back to its usual cool baritone, though Jack was certain he could still hear a thick note of accusation hidden in there. "You will explain."
O'Neill gestured loosely in the direction the younger man had disappeared. "Apparently Phillips has a bit of a crush on the doc," he said by way of explanation, then added defensively, "I offered to talk to the guy for her ... but she said not to ... figured it was just a crush that'll go away."
The Jaffa's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "You should attach your eyes to him."
"You mean keep an eye on him?" O'Neill translated the alien's version of American slang after a reflective pause.
Teal'c glanced over. "I believe that is what I said," he said grimly.
Jack waved the semantics discussion aside. "Yeah, whatever." He gestured toward the doors to indicate Phillips. "You think he's dangerous." An uneasy shiver slid down his spine even as he asked the question. Which would have been enough confirmation for him even had Teal'c not nodded.
"I believe he covets Doctor Fraiser."
Something his own behavior probably hadn't helped any too much, Jack realized in a guilty rush. "I'll talk to the guy," he muttered.
"And even then continue to watch him," the Jaffa added.
Daniel looked back and forth between the two men. "Would somebody mind telling me what the hell's going on here?"
"It's nothing I can't fix," Jack muttered distantly, his mind already on what he was going to say.
* * * * * *
Sam found Janet in the showers, her head and shoulders visible above the edge of the shoulder high privacy walls that divided the showers into cubicles. Her eyes were closed, her head tipped back as she rinsed a thick layer of shampoo out of her hair. Since they were between shift changes, the lockers and showers were otherwise empty, which was something of a relief. "Hey there," she said just loudly enough to be heard above the sound of the water.
Dark eyes slid open and swung her way. "Sam," Janet murmured combing her hair out of her eyes as she rinsed the last of the soap out.
Carter leaned against a nearby shower stall, eyes touching briefly on her friend's bare shoulders before sliding on to study the tiled wall as though it were the most fascinating thing she'd seen all day. "You okay?" she questioned, and quietly admitted, "You kind of worried me when you batted out of there so quickly."
"Fine, great, wonderful," the doctor assured her facetiously and began working conditioner into her hair. "I just love being the floorshow."
"Sorry about that," Sam murmured. "If it helps at all, I laid into Colonel O'Neill after you left--"
"Sam, you shouldn't have done that," Janet sighed, instantly regretting her momentary outburst of temper. "You have to work with the man. It's not worth fighting over." O'Neill was Sam's immediate CO and also her backup in dangerous situations. Bad blood was a luxury her friend couldn't afford. Not that she was afraid of O'Neill doing anything intentionally, but a field team needed trust to function smoothly.
Sam shrugged. "I'll decide what's worth fighting over--"
"I just don't want there to be a problem between the two of you," the doctor exhaled.
A quick head shake as Sam gritted her teeth, still angry with her superior. "He deserved it," she grumbled, some part of her wishing Teal'c hadn't sent her out before she could really give the colonel a piece of her mind.
"I know and I appreciate your defending me like that, but--"
"Mighty high opinion of yourself," Sam couldn't help but tease, suddenly uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was taking. For reasons she didn't entirely understand, she didn't want Janet to know just how angry she'd been on her behalf.
"What? No, I--"
"I was part of the floorshow too," Carter continued, her eyes twinkling, the humor a forced attempt to lighten the mood and redirect the discussion. "They weren't just there watching you, y'know--"
"You were probably the star," Janet demurred, then added more seriously, "I just meant...." She trailed off momentarily before continuing, "I know the whole thing with Phillips was probably a part of it, and I don't want you to fight about that." She shook her head. "I'll deal with the problem if there still is one ... and hopefully there isn't."
"Janet, after the way he behaved in there..." Sam said hesitantly, the memory of the airman's unreadable expression still giving her the creeps.
"Yeah, I know," the doctor murmured. "I'm hoping it was just sour grapes, but I'll keep an eye on it."
"I think you should take it to General Hammond," Sam said softly, her expression dead serious now.
Fraiser ducked her head back, taking the time to rinse out the conditioner to gain a moment. She turned the shower off and began squeezing water out of her hair. "Look, Sam, at this point, the guy hasn't done anything to warrant a formal response. Yeah, he makes my skin crawl," she admitted as she reached for the towel slung over the stall door, "but that's not an offense ... and you and I both know General Hammond's not going to do anything but tell me to handle it myself if I tell him some guy's asked me out a couple of times ... oh, and he threw a basketball through a hoop." Said that way, it sounded patently silly.
Sam ground her teeth in frustration. The other woman was probably right about that much. "I know," she admitted unhappily. "But promise me you'll be careful ... and that you'll do something about it if anything else happens."
"I promise," Janet assured her as she wrapped a second towel around herself, tucking one end into the top to lock it in place while she continued to ruffle her hair with the damp one. "And now I suggest you get a shower, Captain," she said, purposely shifting to a less incendiary topic, "because I can smell you from here."
"I am a little pungent, aren't I?" Sam murmured after a thoughtful sniff, accepting the other woman's desire to change the topic.
"More than a little," Janet confirmed as she unlatched the stall door, still ruffling her wet hair with the towel.
Sam turned away, grabbing a couple of towels off of a shelf full of them, then took a seat on the bench that ran down the center of the row of shower stalls and began unlacing her boots. "Guess I'd better do something about it then," she murmured, aware of Janet's presence as she grabbed a fresh towel for her hair.
"You want just use my stuff?" Janet asked, nodding toward the supplies still sitting on a shelf in the stall. They often traded back and forth, so she knew for a fact that Sam was out of shampoo.
"If you don't mind ... thanks, " Sam murmured and risked a quick glance over her shoulder, eyes touching on considerable expanses of lightly tanned flesh as the doctor stepped out of the stall. It wasn't a new sight. They'd run across each other in the showers plenty of times, but she suddenly couldn't help comparing what she saw with the supple curves and surprisingly taut muscle she'd felt as they'd grappled. The other woman was on the short side, but well proportioned and stronger than she looked. She abruptly realized she was on the verge of staring far too long and quickly cleared her throat, searching her mind for a topic of conversation that wouldn't sound too strange. "So what time should I pick you up tomorrow?" she asked.
Fraiser leaned against a stall on one shoulder, folding her arms loosely across her chest. "Well, the symposium is supposed to start at eleven, so how about ten?" she murmured thoughtfully. "That should give us time to get there and get in."
"Sounds good," Sam said agreeably as she purposely returned her attention to her boots. "So, you want me to bring coffee and donuts?" she asked, looking up again.
A hint of a smile touched full lips. "Well, I'm not going to insist on it, but I wouldn't complain if you did."
Which was a yes, Sam thought with a smile. "Consider it done then. If you're gone when I'm finished, I'll put your stuff in your locker," she promised.
"'Kay," the doctor said idly, and wandered back into the locker room, well aware of the sound of the shower turning on a moment later. Focused on her own thoughts, she never heard the click of the main door sliding shut.
* * * * * *
"What were you doing in the locker room?" a voice demanded as Tony Phillips clicked the door shut behind him, careful to be perfectly quiet.
The airman spun on his heel, eyes flashing as they landed on the lean figure standing a short distance away. It was Duncan Royce, who'd made the crude remark about the women in the practice room. His teeth gritted angrily as he faced the smaller man.
Lt. J.G. Royce glanced at his watch. "The turnover's happened. Belongs to the women now and you don't belong in there."
"It's empty," Phillips growled, a hard sneer twisting his mouth, "I was just grabbing something out of my locker."
Royce never noticed the airman's growing anger. He considered himself part of the new Air Force; smart, sophisticated, well-educated with a Master's degree in electrical engineering. He didn't need to be big, tough or know how to fight ... unlike Phillips, who was one more lunkhead airman with a brain the size of a pea as far as he was concerned. "Yeah, right ... except your locker's not in there anyway," he laughed sarcastically. His head canted to one side, his tone mocking. "I saw Carter go in there a few minutes ago, and I'd bet Fraiser was already there--"
"Well, after she realized you'd been watching, she did probably feel the need for a shower," Phillips sneered. Technically, Royce was an officer and he was enlisted, so his clear defiance was totally unacceptable, but suddenly he wasn't seeing the world in those neatly delineated terms, so he just didn't care.
Royce pulled up short, staring up at the taller man as it suddenly sunk in that Phillips was acting very strangely. "Maybe I'd better just go check," he exhaled, suddenly uneasy. He started to step around the taller man, only to pull up short as a hard hand landed on his shoulder.
"Maybe you'd just better keep your fucking mouth shut," Phillips growled as he slung Royce along. There was a storage room across from the locker room. It was just for towels, soap and other unsecured supplies, so it was one of the few on the base that wasn't kept locked. He shoved the smaller man inside before he had a chance to protest.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Royce demanded, knocking Phillips' hand off his shoulder as he spun to glare at the airman.
Phillips yanked the door shut in his wake and stood braced, one arm shooting out when Royce moved to step past him. He slammed the smaller man back into a metal storage shelf, rattling the unit so hard it nearly toppled and sending towels flying. "Teaching you a lesson in manners," Phillips hissed and slapped Royce back again when he started to straighten. Then he grabbed the smaller man by the shirtfront, hauling him forward until they were nearly nose to nose. "So that you know the next time you feel like pretending you're a real man, you'd better just keep your mouth shut--"
"Your little crack in the training room," Phillips cut him off bitterly and slammed him into the shelves hard enough to knock the wind out of him this time. "I don't ever want to hear another word like that out of your mouth ever again ... especially not about my girlfriend."
Despite the pain throbbing through his chest from the repeated hammering between the shelves and Phillips tightly fisted hands, Royce stared up at the taller man in confused shock. "Your girlfriend?" he gasped. "What does Leilla Jeffries have to do with anything?"
Phillips hammered his victim into the shelves again, drawing a grunt of pain. "Not that stupid cow." He leaned closer, glaring down into Royce's eyes, doing everything possible to intimidate him. "Janet Fraiser."
Shock overcame pain as Royce stared up at Phillips. "You're crazy," he exhaled, shaking his head in disbelief. "I'd sooner believe she was dyking it with Carter. At least they can both read the big words in the dictionary." He spoke without thinking ... a habit he should have learned by then usually got him into trouble. Which it did once again.
Tony Phillips' fist slammed into Duncan Royce's gut hard enough to double the smaller man over. A beat and he yanked Royce's head up by the hair, drawing a pained groan as the lieutenant fought to drag air into his lungs. "Never again ... not one word about her ... or I'll make sure that General Hammond knows what a sick little fag you are." Even as the words left his mouth, there was a part of Phillips that couldn't quite believe the words he was saying or the things he was doing.
"It's to protect your love, child,"Hathor's soothing voice slid through his head. This time he was too angry to resist the siren song to hurt and glory in the pain. After all, it was to defend his intended
He drove his fist into Royce's stomach again, then hauled him up. "Did you think nobody knew about your little fling with Martinez?"
Gasping desperately, his face twisted with pain, one hand braced across his midsection, Duncan tried to shove his assailant back, but winded and already weaker, he never had a chance. Phillips shoved him into the shelves again just for the hell of it.
"One word to anyone about this little discussion and I'll make sure Hammond hears about it," the airman promised grimly. "Nobody calls my fianc�e a dyke," he added furiously.
"Your fianc�e?" Royce coughed, staring up at Phillips. He'd lost it. He'd really lost it.
"That's right," Phillips said, smiling grimly. "She's mine and she always will be and the only around here who's on the don't ask, don't tell express is you." He shook the lieutenant like a dog with a rag and shoved him back into the shelves one last time, letting go and watching dispassionately as Royce hit the floor amid most of the contents of the shelves. "So I suggest you practice the don't tell part and forget this ever happened ... that is unless you want a dishonorable for you and your pretty little boyfriend." With that final threat, he turned on his heel and slipped out.
As the door clicked shut behind Phillips, Duncan Royce tipped his head forward, rocking gently as he braced his arms across his bruised abdominal muscles. "Oh Christ," he whispered over and over again. When he could finally breathe again, he looked up, his expression uncertain. Phillips was totally whacked, but if he knew about Miguel....
The young lieutenant groaned softly, not knowing what the hell to do. He stumbled to his feet, and tried to right the worst of the damage to the contents of the shelves, looking nervously over his shoulder when he heard boots in the hall, half afraid Phillips had returned to finish what he'd started. "Oh Christ," he whispered again. He liked Fraiser. Miguel was on her staff and he'd had nothing but good to say for her. And the few times Duncan had been in the infirmary, she'd been kind and without the attitude so many superior officers had. If Phillips wanted to hurt her somehow....
But it was his career....
And maybe the airman hadn't been lying about some of it. It was possible they were having some kind of fling. God knew he'd seen plenty of consorting between officers and enlisted even in the short time he'd spent in the military. He didn't buy the fianc�e thing, but she might be using him for stud service.
Even as he tried to talk himself into that notion, a part of his stomach rebelled at the idea. Somehow he just couldn't see the woman he'd met, or Miguel was so impressed by, getting together with some out of control ape inclined to use his fists to make a point. He knew plenty of women -- and men for that matter -- couldn't resist trouble on two feet, but she'd seemed smarter. Of course, there were plenty of smart women who'd fallen for that trap. Hell, Captain Carter had apparently been involved with one who tried to make himself into a god on an alien world, and she was a freaking genius. It was always possible Fraiser had decided to have a little fling with the biggest, dumbest airman she could find. Phillips would certainly qualify for that title.
And if that was the case, calling any attention to it could get the woman into trouble. And that was the last thing he wanted to do. He ran a hand through his hair. Miguel. He'd talk to Miguel. He'd know better whether there could be any truth to the rumor and they were supposed to get together the next day. He could decide what to do then. It could wait that long.
Breathing more easily now, he finished straightening the worst of the damage, then slipped out.
* * * * * *
"Kid, we need to talk," Jack O'Neill cut straight to the chase as he sank into the seat opposite Tony Phillips in the mess.
The younger man looked back, eyes touching first on the colonel's hand and then meeting his gaze. "Sir," he said, his tone noncommittal, "I'm due back on duty in just a few minutes."
"Don't worry about it. I'll let your CO know if things run over a couple of minutes."
Tony tensed, but didn't argue. Colonel O'Neill wasn't exactly a lightweight around the SGC. What he asked for, he got. "Okay, what did you want then, sir?"
O'Neill laid it out straight. He said all the right things in explaining to the young airman why his pursuit of the doctor had to stop. He was the perfect combination of father figure, calm superior officer, and understanding, older male. And Phillips nodded and uh-huhed in all the right places to indicate he understood the message being sent in no uncertain terms. The doc wasn't interested. He was to back off and if he didn't, then O'Neill would make damn sure that formal steps were taken to put a stop to things. Sexual harassment wasn't something the military took lightly these days. More uh-huhing and serious looks had resulted, all of them meant to assure Jack that Phillips had gotten the point loud and clear.
So, why is it,the colonel mused as he watched the younger man move away through the mess hall, I feel like I might as well have been talking to a wall? Maybe the fact that the kept smirking and looked like he might point out your own behavior at any moment, his responsible side pointed out. Jack flinched and ran a hand over his short cropped hair, suddenly feeling more responsible than he cared to admit.
"Problem, Colonel?" a familiar Texas twang cut into his private musings and Jack looked up to find his superior looming over him.
Hammond took a seat in the chair Phillips had vacated, studying O'Neill over his cup of coffee.
"No," Jack insisted too quickly.
The general absorbed the denial with a tiny eyebrow twitch. Teal'c wasn't the only one who could do unreadable when the mood was right. "You sure?" he questioned simply.
O'Neill shook his head. "Yes, sir." He moved to rise. "In fact, I should probably get back to work."
Hammond nodded, his expression still bland. "One thing, Colonel O'Neill," he said before Jack could take a step. The colonel turned back with a frown as his superior looked up, his look darkening ever so slightly. "I don't want to ever," he put enough emphasis on the word 'ever' to make Jack flinch, "hear about another incident like the one in the gym earlier today."
A muscle pulsed in O'Neill's jaw.
"I will not have any officers in my command winding up in middle of the latest scandal regarding sexual harassment ... nor will I have the women in this command treated in such a disrespectful fashion." His tone utterly obdurate, he glared furiously at O'Neill. "Do I make myself perfectly clear?"
"Yes, sir," Jack exhaled, feeling like a twelve year-old caught peeking in the girl's locker room; half resentful of getting in trouble for something that seemed so harmless and half ashamed because he knew better.
Hammond nodded, eyes flinty. "Good. Because I mean what I'm telling you, Colonel. It will not be tolerated. You're a leader around here. The younger men emulate your behavior ... so make no mistake, I cannot allow another incident like this one."
"Yes, sir." O'Neill swallowed hard. "Is there anything else?"
"I think we have an understanding now," Hammond said simply, and rose, leaving Jack behind as he hurried out.
"Great," Jack exhaled disgustedly. "Just great." He'd just been thoroughly -- and he had to admit deservedly -- reamed, but he still resented it. And he couldn't help but wonder who the hell had gone running to the general. Not one of the soldiers who'd been right alongside him and probably not Carter. She'd been pissed, but still had the automatic loyalty to him as her CO. Fraiser? Possible, but he doubted it. He suspected her style of revenge would be a lot more personal. Daniel? Also possible, but he didn't think the Egyptologist would make an end run like that.
"I see General Hammond has spoken to you, Colonel O'Neill," Teal'c's baritone was low and bland, but the inference was obvious.
"Jesus, Teal'c, you?" Jack ground out.
The Jaffa's head canted to one side, one eyebrow arching ever so slightly. "Your behavior was inappropriate," he reiterated his earlier words. "Since you did not appear to wish to listen to me, I felt it best that General Hammond inform you of this fact."
Jack flushed and took a deep breath to calm his temper. "Fine," he growled.
Teal'c's eyebrow did another eighth inch twitch upward. "You are angry because you are aware that General Hammond and I are both correct, and you are incorrect," he properly diagnosed.
Jack drew breath to explain the facts to the Jaffa and couldn't come up with an argument that didn't make him look like an even bigger jackass. A spirited defense based on the Porky's movies didn't even work in his head. Finally he shrugged. "Yeah," he admitted, though it was like pulling teeth.
Teal'c nodded ever so slightly in triumphant acknowledgment. "You said you were going to speak to Airman Phillips about his behavior," the Jaffa continued, changing subjects with his usual alacrity. "Have you?"
"Yeah, I spoke to him," Jack admitted, the anger draining away in an instant as he remembered the blank look in the younger man's eyes as he'd explained the rules of the road. He'd said all the right things, but Jack was painfully certain he hadn't meant a word of it. And if Jack had encouraged him to keep hassling the doc in any way, then he deserved every rotten word the general could say to him.
"Do you believe you have succeeded in dissuading him from his pursuit of Doctor Fraiser?"
O'Neill shrugged. "He said yes and no in the all the right places," he sighed.
"But did you succeed?" Teal'c pressed with utter practicality.
Jack shook his head. "I don't know," he sighed, but he didn't have a good feeling about it.
"You know," Teal'c disagreed mildly.
A quick glance at the Jaffa drove the point home and Jack sighed softly. "Yeah, I have a bad feeling I do," he admitted unhappily. He just wasn't sure what to do about it. So much for his Mr. Fixit skills.