George Hammond hated nights like this.
In most commands, a stillness in the late hours was to be expected, even welcomed if the day had been particularly chaotic. Perhaps the halls of Stargate Command got this quiet every night in the wee hours of the morning, but George was usually not present to observe. Usually, he was at his comfortably modest home across town, tucked between the sheets of a bed that still seemed too-empty now even years after his wife had passed on.
Typically, a general of his rank would command some 20,000 airmen and officers, with another twenty to thirty thousand civilian employees and contractors filling many of the support positions. The SGC, however, numbered just over 500 men and women from the Air Force, Marines, and Army, and fewer than 200 civilians. The significantly reduced numbers meant that the members of his command were closer to one another than was normal.
Nowhere was this more perfectly demonstrated than in his flagship first contact team, SG-1. Often jokingly referred to as the SGC's most dysfunctionally functional family, Colonel Jack O'Neill, Doctor Daniel Jackson, Major Samantha Carter, and the Jaffa Teal'c were a disparate lot who nevertheless were as close to one another as flesh and blood. And if the members of SG-1 were a quartet of close siblings, then George reckoned he was the much-put-upon surrogate father of the group.
Like any good dad, George worried about his children when they were out late.
SG-1 had been on a number of overnight missions over the years, but there were a number of times when the general felt compelled to remain on-base, as though his proximity to the 'Gate would be of assistance to the team thousands of light years on the other side of it. Sometimes his fears were borne out, and the team failed to check in the next morning or returned with injuries. Other times, there was no cause for concern, as SG-1 returned on-schedule and unscathed.
Which time would this be, he wondered.
Rubbing his face tiredly, George glanced at his clock, noted the hour, and decided he wouldn't do anyone any good the next day if he was exhausted. Exiting his office, he gave a nod to the SF in the corridor and made his way to the elevator. Rather than going straight for his on-base quarters, he directed the elevator toward Level 22, which held the base dining facility.
Upon entering the commissary, George was dismayed—but not surprised—to see a familiar brunette slumped at a distant table, seemingly lost in thought. After picking a sandwich from the a la carte line and filling a mug with coffee, he made his way over to the forlorn figure. "May I join you?"
Startled, Doctor Janet Fraiser blinked up at him. "Oh, General! Of course."
Seating himself, George eyed his chief medical officer. "Burning the midnight oil, Doctor?"
"Not really, sir. Sergeant Matthews came in with a nasty-sounding cough a few hours ago, and I'm still waiting on the lab results from Airman Anders' blood test."
None of which explained why the CMO hadn't handed those duties off to another doctor and gone home to her daughter.
"Cassie's staying at a friend's house anyway, so—" Janet continued, shrugging her shoulders. "Late briefing?"
George smiled. Leave it to the doctor to turn the conversation away from herself. "SG-1."
"SG-1," Janet echoed. Nothing further needed to be said.
The general finished his sandwich, gently admonished the doctor to get some sleep, then left the commissary in search of his own quarters. Tomorrow would come all-too-soon, and with it, the fate of SG-1.