Cate stood outside the room for a few moments, rather at a loss as to what to do. She wanted to remain close to her father, but also knew that it could be hours before he was treated and conscious. Normally, she'd find some task to do, something to keep her mind busy. But she didn't have that here. Heck, officially she wasn't even supposed to be here.
A medical tech pushed past her and she stepped back, feeling uncomfortably conspicuous. Years of being 'low key' kicked in and Cate left the infirmary, a passing blond officer giving her a flash of inspiration. Sam. That's what she could do. She could go and find Sam. If nothing else, the woman could give her something to do, or at least some guidance on staying out of the way.
Figuring that her cousin was most likely on the bridge, Cate made her way up there, noting a few scorched panels and broken conduits along the way.
The Daedalus - while in one piece and certainly space worthy - had taken a bit of damage it seemed. Then again, any battle you could walk - fly - away from was a good one.
She finally arrived at the bridge, both pleased and concerned that no one challenged her. A ship should have better security than this. A bridge officer glanced at her and walked over to her. "Ma'am, can I help you?" he asked, positioning himself directly in her path.
'Maybe the security's not that bad,' she thought to herself. "Yes, captain," she said, noting the man's rank. "I was looking for Colonel Carter."
"She and General Caldwell are going over battle damage and casualties," the man said. He didn't offer to tell Cate where they were, and she didn't push. If she felt uncomfortably out of place now, she knew she'd feel even more so barging in on a command level meeting. The man's eyes darted lower and Cate glanced down, surprised to find a few smears of blood on her jumpsuit.
Cate nodded. "I'm Cate Hayden. If Colonel Carter asks, if you could tell her I'll be in my quarters." She didn't volunteer any additional info. Two could play at this game. Besides, now that she knew that Mac's blood was on her uniform, she desperately wanted to get it off.
"I'll be happy to ma'am," the captain answered, remaining in place until Cate turned and left the bridge. She made her way down to her quarters. Planning to take five minutes and to change into something that blended in a bit better, she entered the room, noting that the doors had no locks.
She pulled a regulation jumpsuit out of the tiny closet and sat down on the bed, not even looking down as she unlaced her boots. The heavy leather footwear thudded to the floor and she stood up, tugging at the long zipper.
The jumpsuit opened and she glanced down, sighing when she saw a few stains of blood on the tank top she wore under the jumpsuit. She yanked the white tank top over her head and tossed it across the room before she bent over the small chest of drawers, pulling out another one.
Suddenly the door to her quarters opened and she stood up, instinctively clutching the tank top to her bare chest. A man stood in the doorway, blinking owlishly at the half naked woman. Cate's instincts for fight or flight ramped into high gear for a few seconds until she recognized that the man was no threat, he was Doctor Daniel Jackson, one of Sam's friends.
"Oh, umm, wow, I'm sorry," he fumbled as a couple of crewmen walked behind him in the hall, both pausing to stare at the show. "Do you mind?" she asked. He stared at her for a few seconds before he realized what was going on and abruptly stepped into the room, allowing the door to close behind him. Cate shook her head and turned her back on him, sliding the shirt over her head. "Don't they teach you how to knock on Earth," she growled as she turned back around. She refused to feel embarrassed by the shorts she was wearing. They covered more than any bathing suit ever would.
"Don't they teach you not to squat in someone else's room," he shot back, crossing his arms over his chest. "These are my quarters," she said. "Hence the panties in the drawer instead of tighty whities."
"You're partially right," he said, pushing up his glasses. "These were my quarters. I'm bunking with Teal'c now. So, sorry about that," he apologized. "I actually just came down to grab something I forgot and I didn't think anyone would be in here."
He walked past her into the tiny bathroom and Cate took the opportunity to pull on her jumpsuit and was sitting on the bed when he returned. She pulled on her boots and ignored him as he walked towards the door. "I am sorry about...that," he said, turning to face her as she looked up. "You kinda caught me off guard."
"Ditto," she replied, tying the laces on one boot. "No harm done."
"Still, I should make it up to you," he said.
"Don't worry about it," she dismissed, turning her attention to her other boot.
"I do," he said. "See, Sam will find out eventually and then there'll be hell to pay...and trust me, I'd rather face a battalion of Jaffa than a pissed off Sam Carter."
"It'll be our little secret," Cate said, finished with her boots and getting to her feet.
Daniel shook his head. "No, it won't. I know that one officer, he'll blab to the whole ship by dinner time. Coffee and pie, that's all I'm asking."
"Look, Doctor Jackson--"
"Doctor," she said pointedly. "Don't worry about it." Almost on cue, her stomach rumbled, reminding her that it'd been several hours since her last meal. Her mind drifted for a moment to that last dinner she shared with her husband, before he shipped out. It was a miserable stormy night and her stomach rumbled then as they sat in a small booth at their favorite little Italian restaurant.
"It's coffee and pie in a public room," he said. "You gotta eat."
Cate sighed and nodded. "I guess it beats me wandering around the ship until I find it," she relented. She followed him out of the room and they walked towards the lift. "Have you known Sam long?" she asked.
"A little over ten years," he replied. "We were both on SG-1 together."
"Right," she said. "She, aah, not that we're pen pals or anything, but she never talked about it much."
"That's Sam," he shrugged. "Takes classified seriously."
"She takes a lot of things seriously," Cate said, punching the button to summon the elevator, it arrived moments after and the doors opened.
"Well, if it's any consolation, she never really talked about her family much so..." he said.
"The Carters and MacGregor’s are pretty much a 'see each other at weddings and funerals' kind of family. I haven’t seen Sam since her mother passed away, and I was quite young then." Cate said, following him in as he pushed the button for the mess level. "What did you do on SG-1?" she asked, much more comfortable to be asking instead of answering questions.
"Resident linguist and archaeologist," he said, flashing her a grin. "And, depending on who you ask, chief troublemaker."
The door opened and the two of them walked out, Cate half following Daniel and half following her instincts to the mess hall. Once there it took them only minutes to select some food. Daniel stuck to his promised pie and coffee, but Cate indulged in a bowl of soup and some fruit to go along with her pie. Their trays laden, Daniel led them to a table in the corner and she didn't know if it was deliberate or an accident that he let her have the chair with its back against the wall.
"How about you?" he asked, as he sipped his coffee. He grimaced and set the cup down, reaching for the sugar. "What brings you aboard the Daedalus?"
"Classified," she quipped, spooning up her soup.
"You know I'll just ask Sam," he threatened.
Cate studied her bowl, suddenly fascinated with the chunks of carrots and potatoes floating in the beef broth. "My brother, Ben," she said. "He's ...aah out here somewhere."
Daniel raised his eyebrows. "SGC? I know we've grown a lot but I wasn't aware of any MIA's."
"Ben wasn't supposed to be with the SGC," she said simply. "We were never that close but...a couple of years ago my husband died. Ben should have been there for me and he wasn’t and now he's gone missing, and I want answers. Which is why Mac is here, or at least one reason and...I can't just sit home and wait beside the phone," she finished with a shrug.
"I'm sorry," he said, setting down his fork. "It must have been a bad accident."
She frowned. "What?"
Daniel gaped a second. "Well, I'm kinda making a leap here but...well I couldn't help but see the scars and..." he trailed off, raising his hands. "I've probably stepped on all sorts of toes."
Cate grinned wryly, the man's self-effacing nature cooling her ire. "My husband died in Afghanistan. The, aah, new body art is courtesy of a few North Koreans that took offense at me being in their country." She couldn't keep the bitterness out of her voice. It was better than giving into the memories of the fear and pain. Of the hot blood that ran down her hands as she slit the one guard's throat. It was better than admitting that there were a couple of dumpsters in Melbourne that - on a hot day - stank just like the hell hole she'd spent one eternal week caged up in.
She deliberately took a big sip of the soup, using the pain from her burning tongue to banish her memories. "That's another reason to get off world," she said, forcing her voice to be light. "And a part of my life I'd rather the whole ship not know."
Daniel made the turning key gesture in front of his lips. "It sucks being famous," he said, understanding and kindness in his eyes. "Although for us...it was less fleeing Earth than other planets. Teal'c used to keep count but...I understand that there's several dozen planets where our wanted posters grace the equivalent of their post office wall.."
"Are you telling me you have a reputation, Doctor Jackson?" she asked, taking refuge in his teasing.
"We had bounties on our heads and everything. Jack thought it was cool...I kinda found it a pain in the ass."
More people walked into the mess and Cate recognized Doctor Ainsley. Daniel followed her gaze. "They must be done with your dad," he said. Cate looked back at him. "I know Ainsley. He wouldn't be down here if he was worried."
"Yeah," she said, looking helplessly at the tray in front of her.
"Go," Daniel said, flicking his hands towards her. "Check on your dad."
Cate smiled and pushed back from the table. "Thanks," she said, hurrying from the room.