Disclaimer: If I own them, or made any money off this fic, then Ba'al's Jaffa can eat me for dinner.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

by Linda Bindner

Sam strolled into the CMO's office, on the lookout for a paper clip that wasn't bent, rusted, or otherwise pulled into weird designs, as Colonel O'Neill had already destroyed all of the clips in her lab. Hi, Janet, she said as she peered around the main desk in the small room. Just looking for a paper clip. The Colonel has already destroyed all... Well, mine are all gone, and I'm on the way to a briefing in ten minutes, and I need to keep these pages in order... Sam didn't finish her sentence as she was consumed by looking. Mind if I borrow one?

Janet dropped the magazine she was flipping through and pulled out the top drawer of her desk. From there, she yanked several pages of paper out of the way, and uncovered a small, plastic case full of paper clips. Will these do? she asked as she held out the case for Sam's inspection.

Sam's inspection was quite favorable. Yeah! she enthusiastically said, reaching inside the case for a clip. Thanks! You're a lifesaver.

Janet quipped, That's what it says on my diploma, too. You know... it says Doctor Janet Fraiser, M.D.

Sam eyed Janet: she decided that her friend's teasing tone was entirely too cheeky for so early in the morning.

Sam did her best to ignore Janet's happiness, and instead slipped the paper clip onto the group of pages in her hand. She grinned. So, how come you're at work so early?

Janet responded, Actually, I've been here all night. Captain Saunders has a spleen that was on the verge of rupturing that I wanted to keep an eye on during these first few hours after SG-9 brought her in.

Sam was immediately concerned at the news of the injury suffered by a fellow soldier and SG team member. How is she? Sam asked.

Janet sighed. It seems that she's out of the woods now - that spleen isn't going to burst or anything, and that rupture isn't then going to lead to complications that she could die from. However, she is going to be sore for several days. But... Her voice trailed away as she gave a shrug.

Sam wrinkled her nose in puzzlement. Then what are you still doing here? she inquired. If the Captain's out of danger, like you say she is, why don't you go home and get some sleep? It looks like you can use it.

Janet's smile split her face. Thanks, Sam, I can always count on you for an honest assessment. She flipped another page of her magazine, which she had returned to looking at. I plan on going home as soon as Dr. Warner comes in this morning. I'm just looking at this magazine to try to unwind while I wait for him to get here. She gave a small grimace. Silly fashion magazines seem to relax me when things get a bit too intense in the Infirmary, she explained. After an entire day and night on duty, my brain can't handle anything more taxing right now than staring at famous people photographed in ridiculous poses, wearing funky clothing.

Sam grinned. She came around Janet's desk, and leaned over her friend for a better look at the magazine. What are you looking at this time?

Janet responded, Cassie had this month's 'Vogue' sitting on the couch, and the other day, I threw it in my pack to bring to work. She said she was done looking at it anyway, and that there was something that she thought I might be very interested in seeing... She flipped the magazine closed, then opened it again. But I can't find anything except actresses that I've never heard of wearing clothes that I can't afford. So...

Suddenly Sam laughed as she gazed at a picture. Who do you think that is? she asked. They have her hair brushed back, but it looks like...

Janet sat up for a closer look. Is that Mary Steenbergen? she asked.

Sam set her papers on the edge of Janet's desk as she got comfortable sitting on the arm of Janet's desk chair. You know, she divulged, I know the Colonel says that he's got this thing for Mary Steenbergen, but I don't think I've ever seen her in any movie or TV show.

Sure you have! Janet exclaimed. Try What's Eating Gilbert Grape, or Back to the Future III...

That was Mary Steenbergen? Sam asked in an amazed voice. I had no idea!

Told you that you'd seen her in something.

But Janet! Sam exclaimed in amusement. Those movies are really old! I'm sure she's in something a little more recent than that!

I wouldn't know, Janet wryly announced. It's not like I have time to go to movies. Maybe the Colonel can enlighten us.

Maybe, Sam said. Though I don't know that he's had time to go to the movies lately, either. We've had a pretty tight mission schedule, and Colonel O'Neill's been...

Before Sam could even finish her sentence, Jack O'Neill himself sauntered into the Doctor's office. What have I been? he asked coming to stand beside her desk and to stare at the magazine in Janet's hand.

Busy, Sam finished. I was going to say that you're... we all are... too busy to go to the movies this month.

O'Neill scratched at his nose. True, we are a bit in the 'run around like a chicken with its head cut off' phase.

Janet giggled.

No giggling, Doc, O'Neill quickly said, which made Sam's giggle join the doctor's giggles.

O'Neill rolled his eyes. Now I have two giggling soldiers! Just what I need!

Still giggling, Janet remarked, And you wouldn't have it any other way! She flipped another page in her magazine, and peered at the picture in intense interest with Sam peering over her shoulder, and asked, What can I do for you, Colonel?

Jack looked around the two women at the pictures in Janet's magazine. Not much... I was just looking for Carter here...

And I was looking for a paper clip that you haven't destroyed yet, Sam interrupted with her cheeky smile intact.

But O'Neill wasn't really listening to her. He was busy staring intently at Janet's magazine. Isn't that..?

Sam knowingly answered, Mary Steenbergen.

The entire add is about her, Janet informed. She flipped another page. There the Mary Steenbergen add ended, giving way to... The Brave - The Dedicated - The Military, Janet read with a hint of amusement in her voice. This must be what Cassie was hoping that I'd see in this magazine, she said, then studied the first picture of a man in BDUs and face paint. Lieutenant Chris Bongala, she read. Stationed in Iraq.

Poor man, O'Neill retorted. He better hope for a transfer.

Sam recalled that the Colonel didn't have fond memories of Iraq. Neither did she, now that she thought of it. I don't remember much about Iraq except sand always getting into my teeth, she said. I was glad to transfer back Stateside, too. 'Course, that was years ago.

Sand in the teeth - ah, the memories! O'Neill exclaimed, trying to draw the women's attentions off Iraq, as he didn't have many fond things to say about the country. Let's see the next picture, he suggested.

Janet turned another page. Colonel Paige Drew Oxgard, she read. Team member Sergeant Rhonda Inis, Captain John James, Major Todd Senning, and Lieutenant Sax Contril. The picture of the five team members stared her in the face.

O'Neill's forehead wrinkled. What kind of name is 'Paige?'

Celtic family name, Sam read on. He goes by 'Drew.'

And Sax goes by... Janet slowly read. Sax.

That ain't much better than the first one, in my opinion, the Colonel said.

I knew a 'Drew' once, Sam informed them. He was nice.

It rhymes with 'flew,' Janet noted with a snide grin sent in the Colonel's direction. She moved to the next image before O'Neill or Sam could respond to her teasing comment or her expression. Major Tom Zanski, Cadet Jon Zanski, Tom stationed in Missouri, and John attending West Point. Janet stared at the man wearing a Marine dress uniform, standing behind someone who was obviously his son. Well, at least they're not wearing face paint, she said.

Sam tilted her head, also staring at the picture. They're kinda cute... for a Marine... and an Army cadet... who's way too young for me to think he's cute.

O'Neill spluttered, Cute?! That?!

Sam grinned. Cassie seemed to think so, according to the big heart she's drawn around the picture. She pointed and giggled again.

Janet flipped the page once more. Corporal Josh Manx, stationed in Japan. A man in what was clearly an Army Uniform smiled at the camera for his picture.

I thought about joining the Army once, O'Neill confessed.

That surprised Sam, who had heard nothing about this. Really?! she asked, astonished.

O'Neill looked uncomfortable now. Well, I did in my Freshman year of High School... for all of two seconds. Then the guy at our Career Fair told me about the weapons the Army uses... and him and the Air Force guy sitting at the next table started arguing about guns... which was cooler...

And? Janet inquired. Who won?

O'Neill rolled his eyes one more time. I'm in the Air Force, aren't I? was all he said.

Janet sniggered. That does say something for the weapons, doesn't it? she agreed.

Besides, O'Neill said. He told me that I would have a good chance to get to blow things up if I joined the Air Force, and I liked that. Blowing things up.

I once blew the roof off the garage, Sam announced.

O'Neill instantly looked impressed. Really?

Sam blushed. The fact that the car was in the garage at the time was a little detrimental.

O'Neill and Janet laughed in appreciation. I bet that didn't go over too well with the parents! Janet said.

Parent, Sam corrected her. Mom was dead at the time, she explained. Then her blush deepened. As punishment, my father didn't let me apply for my driver's license until I turned seventeen. My sixteenth birthday was just two days after the day I blew the roof off the garage.

Ouch! O'Neill declared.

Sam shrugged. Yeah, Dad was a tad miffed. She grinned then. But the state we were living in at the time allowed fourteen-year-olds to get a motorcycle license. And as I was almost sixteen...

O'Neill laughed. Something tells me that's when you acquired your love of bikes!

Sam shrugged. I was just looking for a way to get to school without having to ride the bus when I was sixteen. I took the test, passed it, and then bought a really old bike. I bought a helmet too, but I found out that I really liked the feel of the wind in my hair and on my face, especially early in the morning! What a good wake up call!

You adrenaline junkie! O'Neill affectionately said.

Sam's grin grew. The front windshield was gone - there's nothing like bugs in your teeth before 0800!

Janet piped up, It was just preparation for getting the sand of Iraq in your teeth.

The two soldiers laughed at that comment. Nothing can prepare you for that! O'Neill said.

The bugs weren't so bad, 'cause the fastest that bike would go was forty miles per hour! Sam then explained.

So much for the adrenaline of high speed! Janet pointed out, giggling again.

Hey! Daniel then yelled as he stood at the office door. There's too much fun going on here! It's too early in the morning for this much laughter! And I can hear you guys all the way out in the corridor! But his tone was teasing instead of angry. He entered the office after he spoke.

O'Neill ribbed at Daniel, Sounds like someone hasn't had his morning coffee yet.

Daniel grinned as Janet handed him her coffee cup. Here, it's almost completely full, she said.

Thanks! Daniel took the offering in appreciation.

It's freshly made, too, Janet told him.

Perfect! Daniel announced as he took a grateful sip. Whatcha doing? he asked after he had swallowed and sighed.

Looking through this magazine of Cassie's Sam answered him.

At something about people in the military, Janet added.

And Carter's telling us about getting bugs in her teeth, O'Neill added.

Daniel gazed closely at Sam. Yep, I can still see some.

Daniel! Sam laughingly swatted at him. That's probably something from breakfast!

Which was? O'Neill couldn't help but ask her.

Toast and Oatmeal, she told them all. Still in my teeth, obviously.

Daniel smiled. Just kidding, Sam, he told her, and took another sip of his coffee, then passed it back to Janet. Here, I'll share, he said to the doctor.

She took the cup from him. Thanks! she gushed, clearly just as pleased as Daniel had been to get her morning caffeine fix. I need this after last night.

Janet, turn the page, Sam commanded. Let's see who's next. It might be someone I know. Sam stared at the others as they all stared at her with disbelieving expressions on their faces. What? she asked defensively. It could happen! she argued.

O'Neill shrugged. Knowing people from all over... That is the way of the military, I guess. He motioned to Janet. Go ahead, turn the page.

Obediently, Janet flipped the page... and her in drawn breath exploded out as she gave a wide-eyed stare.

Crap! O'Neill immediately exclaimed at his first glimpse of the next picture. They said that it probably wouldn't even make it into an issue of the magazine! He was instantly embarrassed. Guess they were wrong.

They all looked when Jack made that kind of comment.

Jack! Daniel hollered in amazement, realizing what O'Neill had cursed. That's you!

And indeed it was a picture of O'Neill. He was wearing his green BDUs, his 'going-on-a-mission' baseball cap perched on his silver hair. But that didn't make his rugged features any less handsome, at least not in Sam's opinion.

Colonel Jack O'Neill, stationed in Colorado, Janet read. It doesn't say anything about the SGC.

I hope not! Sam declared. We are in a top secret facility!

Daniel chuckled. Jack, I didn't know that you could look so cute in your BDUs.

Oh, shut up, Daniel! O'Neill responded and scowled.

Sam asked the Colonel, Why didn't you tell us about this picture you had taken before now?

Yeah, Jack, fess up! Daniel added, clearly enjoying Jack's discomfort.

O'Neill shrugged his left shoulder, but he wasn't fooling any of them. He was nervous as hell, and it showed in the way his eyes darted around at them all in the office, as if to ask if they thought the picture was okay. I was in the mall one day, going to the sports store, and this guy asked if I was in the military, 'cause of the BDUs I s'ppose. The next thing I knew, I was in front of the camera, and... He waved at the picture, then gazed at them all in exasperation. All I went in there for was to pick up a new hockey stick from 'The Sports Zone,' honest!

And you expect us to believe that? Daniel teased. You were picking up a hockey stick in your BDUs?

I was on my lunch hour! O'Neill exclaimed, his tone close to anger.

Janet couldn't help but add her opinion. Mmmm! she said in mock appreciation of her own. I didn't know that BDUs could look so...

Don't say it! O'Neill yelled, and pulled the magazine out of her hands.

They all laughed as Teal'c entered the office. O'Neill, MajorCarter, DanielJackson, it is time for our morning briefing, he announced in his flat tones. Then he noticed that he was the only one in the office besides his leader who had a straight face. Why is everyone laughing? Was there some joke that I missed?

No joke, Sam explained as she and the Colonel and Daniel left Janet's office. It was very real!

And very... unexpected! Daniel said.

And very.., O'Neill added his voice to the mix. But he didn't finish his statement. Instead, he asked, Can I trust you not to show this to anyone else, Doc? He gazed at Janet. If I can trust you, you can have your magazine back, he wheedled.

Janet placed her hand on her chest. You won't see me showing another soul, Colonel! she wholeheartedly promised. I'm the height of discretion!

O'Neill grumbled, Well... Okay then. He tossed the magazine back to her. She caught it in mid flight. Then he hurried to follow his team to their briefing with General Hammond.

It was several hours later before he learned that the picture was already in a place of honor on the Commissary bulletin board for all to see. He ripped it down among the sound of accompanying laughter and grumbled loudly as he threw it into the nearest trash bin. Whoever did this should be...

Jack! Daniel cautioned.

But Jack's dark look remained. Well, they should! he insisted as they walked out as a group.

Sam didn't despair over the photo the Colonel had just torn down. She thought of yet another copy of the shot, dangling near the elevators by the Control Room, and smiled.

The End


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