Timeline: Season 10 through Unending
Archive Rights: Contact me first, please.
Wordcount: 1,167 words
Disclaimer: I do not own SG-1, SGA, or any of the characters and situations depicted on the shows. No profit is being made from this and no infringement is intended.
Original Story: The Weight of Non-Existent Years by beatrice_otter
Notes: Special thanks to neonhummingbird and havocthecat for editing and beta-reading, and telling me not to abuse semi-colons. Two lines are directly cribbed from the lovely original story, but I hope beatrice_otter is okay with their re-appearance here.
Summary: Physics: W = mg. Weight: the effect of gravity on moving objects.
by Christina K
She is the one leaving, this time. The General went to D.C. Daniel left for Atlantis even if he never got there, and also he died for a year. Teal'c went to Dakara, even though he came back. The farthest she ever got was Area 51. Now she’s finally got her own command, more than just two people (two people who were supposedly under her orders, two people who were her friends first). She’s the one leaving her team behind.
There is a solemnity to that. Gravity. Weight.
She’s just finished taping the latest round of boxes full of photos, references and notes when Teal’c arrives and asks for the chance to spar with her. There’s so much still to do, and yet the awareness of time left is so small that the decision is easy.
Sam warms up slowly, thoughts ambushing her as she prepares. There's so much left unsaid after what happened on the Odyssey. Teal’c won’t talk about it. Not with all of Daniel’s curiosity, or Vala’s badgering, or the looks that Mitchell keeps giving him. Part of her is consumed with questions about how they passed those fifty years. How did they keep from going crazy? How did she solve the problem? How did they decide to let Teal’c take the burden of all that time? But asking Teal’c direct questions never yields better results than he would volunteer unasked. So she tightens the laces on her shoes, picks up the escrima sticks, and begins.
Slam-slam, thud, high block, low block, spin and hit. The first of the things she learned from Teal’c, despite previous training in hand-to-hand combat courtesy of the USAF: how to fight someone you had no hope of beating, and make it count. He is taller, and stronger (though not as strong as he was ten years ago, sixty years ago? How long is it for him now?). But he’s not as strong as he was before Junior died, before tretonin and reassessment and recovery.
Teal’c has years on her that she’ll never accumulate before her human body gives out. But he’s taught her tactics and hand-to-hand, the way she’s learned strategy from the General, and diplomacy from Daniel, that she can use not just to fight, but to recognize when not to fight. That’s a kind of strength that can’t be conveyed in words.
A kick to the knee blocked easily; both of his sticks whirling at her head, forcing her to duck down low. All of the time, Teal’c’s eyes are assessing her without anger, on the verge of dispassion, but still with mercy because she is his friend. A friend who never calls her Samantha, Sam, or Carter, but Captain-Major-Colonel-Carter. (Did he ever call her Samantha, in that other life?)
It should be uneven, this friendship, with so much formality on his side, with what should be informality on hers. But maybe this is the second thing that he's taught her, that dignity and distance and friendship are not incompatible. That your own self-respect can trump suspicion, customs, questioned loyalties, and isolation, the way it had for him. Especially that first year when command was scrutinizing his every motive, watching for any mis-step, waiting for a betrayal he never made while he adjusted to a completely alien world without complaining once. (The ability to bear weight without distortion = integrity. Strength. Teal’c.)
He gets in a hit to her back, and that hurts, damnit, but she’s not about to slow down because of it. She re-doubles her attack, and even though Teal’c can probably see she’s in pain, he doesn’t stop. There, right there: that’s the respect she never had to earn from him, not from the first minute that he handed over his staff weapon to her after they crossed the event horizon from Chulak. He has never, not once, questioned her fitness as a soldier, although he comes from a world where he’d have a greater excuse than any other man she’s served with. To him, gender is simply irrelevant. If a warrior steps on the field of battle (he might say, or maybe he has said?) then that is enough. He won’t back off until she says to, and if she doesn’t, he will give her the respect of allowing her to take the full consequences of that choice. Their full weight.
A furious exchange of blows, and Sam catches another one on the wrist, but manages to hit Teal’c’s funny bone with a force that has him dropping one stick. He keeps going, the remaining escrima whirling toward her at an angle she can’t predict. It’s supposed to be reflexive, the response, but she can’t stop herself from calculating speed and tangents, can’t shut off her brain to just respond all the time. She’s getting better at it, though. She’s never sat Kel-nor-eem, never felt like she could ask that much about it; just learned from observation, tried to absorb what Teal’c was willing to say, about finding a center and grounding, working outward from that. Center of gravity-- an unmoving point.
She is going to miss Daniel for a thousand reasons she could list, Jack (in her head, he can be Jack) for a thousand reasons she won’t list, but Teal’c, there are no words for. Just like there is no way to ask the questions that still occur to her. He has answered so many questions of hers over the years before she thought to ask them, anyway. (How do I bear this reminder of the symbiote, of Jolinar, of naquadah, of the enemy inside me? With feet planted and shoulders squared. How do I better accept insults from so-called superiors without the temptation to lose my composure every time? With irony added to the hard eyes, and no actual deference, although my chin is up. How do I deal with the utter absurdity of an alien race? With a raised eyebrow and deadpan delivery, perspective and the sucker-punch remark. How do I face the death of friends? With mourning, and respect, and persistence in the face of absence. Indeed. In deed.)
She lands a blow solidly, one she should not have been able to land, and Teal’c is almost knocked down. He counters it, forces her back, and they separate, circling. “You okay, Teal’c?” Sam says, frowning. “You seem a bit preoccupied.”
“I am fine, Colonel Carter,” he says, and she has to take him at his word, even as she wonders. It's taken her ten years, but she's finally learned the things that just work themselves out in time. That some mysteries are not problems to be solved. To endure not having an answer the first time a question occurs.
She smiles at him, realizing something else-- that she is not leaving him behind. Or any of the others, really. You take someone with you, wherever you go, when it’s been so long. Even at a distance, gravity has an effect.