Scorched Earth
by LauraJo

"Sam?  What are you doing out here?  It's the middle of the night."

"I know."  Sam was sitting on the grass at the bottom of Jack's garden with her back to the house and her knees hugged tightly to her chest.  She didn't look round when Jack sat beside her.

"You should be sleeping."

"I couldn't."

"Aren't you cold?"

"I don't really care."

"Sam, come on-"

"Jack!"

"What?"

"Leave me alone."

"Sam, if something's wrong I want to help."

"You'd be better off staying out of my way."

"Okay... what?"

"I'm just saying you probably don't want to be around me right now."

Jack reached out to touch Sam's arm, but she pulled it away.

"Is there something about the word 'alone' that you don't understand?"

"What I don't understand is what's making you act like this."

"You want to have this out here?"

"I want you to tell me what's going on!"

Sam lowered her head to her knees in defeat, then raised it again before speaking - though still without catching Jack's eye.  "Do you get some kind of pleasure from making me do things I don't want to?"

"What the hell has that got to..." Jack trailed off as realisation dawned.  "You know why I did that."

"I know why.  And I have no problems with following orders I don't agree with.  But I don't think you fully realise what you made me do."

"I ordered you to make a bomb.  We're in the military, it's something we do."

"You ordered me to create a weapon whose power had never been tested.  You ordered me to take a piece of technology whose engineering I was responsible for and turn its purpose to one of destruction.  You ordered the annihilation of an entire civilisation, but you wouldn't have been able to do it if it wasn't for me."

"The key word there being 'ordered'."

"But worst of all," Sam continued as if Jack had never spoken, "the destructive potential of the reactor is now in our reports.  And if at some later date this technology is successfully used as a weapon, it'll have my name on it.  Not yours.  You ordered it, but I did it.  I knew how.  I've documented how.  Whether or not it's done in the future is completely out of my control, but because of me, it is possible."

"Sam, you're a Major in the United States Air Force.  You know weapons development is part of the job.  Hell, it's part of our standing orders."

"I never expected to be single-handedly responsible for the creation of a weapon of mass destruction."

Her statement was met with silence.

"So you see why I'm having a little trouble sleeping."

Jack thought carefully about his next words.  "I'm not sorry for ordering the bomb to be made.  If that's what you're asking, I can't give it to you."

"I didn't expect you would."

"But Sam, look at me."  She turned slightly, just enough that she could see his face.  "I am sorry that the order had to be given to you.  You are forgetting something, though."

"Such as what?"

"Right now, that weapon is as classified as everything else we do.  No one will know it exists, let alone who is responsible for it."

"That won't be true forever."

"Probably not.  But think about everything else you've done, everything else that can be made public if - when - that time arrives.  The generator itself, your accelerated particle-"  Sam started to turn her head away as soon as she realised what Jack was referring to, but he caught her chin in his hand to stop her.  "Your accelerated particle beam thing.  Even the dialling program itself!  Each one of them is an amazing achievement on its own, but you can put your name to all of them."

"People have a nasty habit of not remembering the positives."

 

Hidden Truths

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