Thank you to belladonnalin and emmytie.
Sam joined ROTC in high school. It was a little bit about wanting to go to college, wanting to do things she didn't know how to talk about at that time, but mostly, back then, it was about wanting her dad to look at her, be proud of her. She would figure out she needn't have bothered long after it wouldn't matter, but by that time she had no regrets. Initially, that hadn't been so much the case.
Sam had always liked physical activities. Track and soccer and softball and volleyball, essentially, if she could run or if it involved a ball, she was probably interested. She didn't expect to mind the physical requirements of ROTC. Or rather, she didn't mind, at all. She would have enjoyed them, if it hadn't been for the way the guys in her group took exception to the fact that she could keep up with them, outpace or outclimb or outlast them at times.
At the Academy, she would be glad they had taught her how to fight silent and dirty to make sure she was all right, make sure she could get done what she needed to do. In high school, though, it just made her fucking mad.
"I was about to drink that!" Sam yelled, slamming her brother into the wall and taking the milk. She had been planning on pouring it into a glass, but given the circumstances, she just opened it up and drank directly from the carton.
"You're disgusting," he said, shoving her while she was drinking. Sam didn't move an inch.
There were boys and girls locker rooms, but she and the two other girls in the program knew that didn't mean much. The guys were forever making their way to where they shouldn't have been, and it was pretty much up to them to figure out ways to make sure they stayed the hell out. Cara was the one to suggest triggering the door with some kind of alarm, but it was Sam who rigged it out of basic stuff that anyone could buy at a Radio Shack or even a KMart. After that, the boys mostly left them to themselves, at least when they were showering. It was a step in the right direction.
When she made it into the Academy, her father laid his hand on her shoulder. Sam almost shook it off, instinctively wary of uninvited touch by that time. At the last minute she had remembered it was exactly what she had been wanting all along.
Sam was never the first to reach the end of an obstacle course, but she was never the last, either. And after a while, although she was never the first called for an offhand game of basketball or football or even frisbee, she was never the last, either. She wasn't the star--not out there, not on fields, not on floors, and that was fine, she had her place--but she wasn't ignored, either. Really, that was enough.
She hesitated when the offer for the SGC came. The academic portion was everything Sam had ever wanted and more. It was the sort of thing she'd dreamed about without knowing what she was dreaming about. Everything they had shown her, every inch of the space beneath the mountain was the sort of thing Sam would have told anyone was science fiction.
But taking the job meant being in that mountain, day in and day out. There weren't any field positions in the SGC. The Stargate had been shut down, to remain so. She was tired of combat, for the moment, but she wasn't tired of the skies, cutting through them quick and clean and free.
In the end, though, the lure of what her brain didn't know, of the secrets that hid in the physics of the 'gate were too much for her to pass up. It was hard to remember she was locked inside a mountain, under miles of rock and concrete, when she was thinking about the probabilities of how and why the Stargate worked as a traveling device. She had always been focused, but before it had been a result of drive, the need to get somewhere, to go. It was now, too, but in a different way. She wanted to see where the 'gate could take her, and to do that, she needed, in her own mind, to understand how it did what it did.
Then General West passed command of the station to General Hammond and the 'gate started acting up in ways that nobody understood. It was then that Sam knew, if she ever wanted to get on a team again, she was going to have to raise her hand, jump to be seen, make her move.
Sam went to the General's office prepared to have to stand her ground, explain her desire to jump through a hoop that would land her billions of miles away through a system that nobody thoroughly understood yet. She had written papers that had garnered serious consideration among their small community, but that didn't make her theories true, it made them well-regarded.
Instead, though, the General said, "At ease, Captain," and offered her a chair. She sat, keeping her posture perfect, giving him nothing to find fault in. He considered her for a moment before saying, "I'm certain you're aware I want to speak to you regarding your petition to be a part of SG-1."
"Sir, if I may--"
"In a moment, Captain. I'm granting permission."
"I--." Sam stared at the General for a long moment. "I...see. Thank you, sir." Sam did her best to keep the smile that was threatening to something professional, and not completely disbelieving.
"I wanted to know if you would be willing to talk to some of the other scientists for me. I realize most of them are civilians and so most likely reticent to join the teams, but I really feel that having someone with the special knowledge of our scientists would be...beneficial."
Sam swallowed and took a breath. "Of course, sir."
There was a moment's pause and then the General smiled. "Congratulations, Captain."
This time, she let her smile have free reign. She doubted it would change his mind. "Thank you. Thank you."