Fandom: "Without a Trace"
Characters: Samantha Spade, Jack Malone, with allusions to other team members.
Prompt: 80. Why?
Word Count: 559.
Summary: "Basically, you screwed my career when you screwed me."
Author's Notes: Post-ep for "Viuda Negra," with allusions to the S2 ep, "Gung Ho."
Hostile Work Environment
He stopped short, almost tripping over his surprise. She knew he knew it was a loaded question, but he clearly wasn't sure how...or why.
"It was fine," he answered, neutrally. "Is there a problem?"
The edge in his voice spurred her to continue. "It's just...I'm neither a rookie nor on injured reserve."
"This is where I apologize for not sending you to Iraq, isn't it?" he quipped, but she wasn't in the mood.
"You've kept me on the sidelines for two years, Jack. There was no reason you had to go."
He gave her that tolerant, patronizing smile she always wanted to slap off his face. "I thought your talents were best utilized here--"
"Viv was babysitting Elena, and you could've run point with Martin just as easily as I did," she insisted. "In fact, the case might've benefited from a female agent's perspective, given the two days Lucy Costa played you."
"Agent Spade," he practically growled. "How I choose to assign this team is none of your damn business. I don't need to remind you that I can or cannot assign you anywhere, including the Boise Post Office, which now seems like it might not be that bad of an idea..."
Almost unconsciously, she stepped forward, glowering -- inches from his face. "You do that and I'll sue you for sexual harassment."
His mouth opened, then closed, and then he swallowed in that way he always used to try to cover his surprise.
Before he could fully recover, she stepped back -- pressing on. "Hostile work environment. I've been limited to local fieldwork for two years. My Supervisor..." she spat the word out like a curse, "is restricting my opportunities for advancement by denying me the chance to work with him and...benefit from the wisdom of his experience."
The words twisted and clenched within her stomach as she finished, "Basically, you screwed my career when you screwed me."
He looked saddened, then sickened, then disgusted. "You don't really believe that." His expression matched his words.
"I don't know," she admitted, truthfully. "I just get the feeling this had less to do with Mexico and more to do with the fact that you didn't want me with you. You used to take me with you," was her only half-kidding lament.
"So, is the hostile work environment you not getting to go to Mexico, or you not getting to go with me?" he asked, sounding utterly bewildered.
"Both," she responded, almost immediately. Glancing at the floor, she sighed. "I'm just...sick of being punished because I got over you."
The floor stared back at her in silence for what seemed like several minutes.
"I'm...sorry you feel that way." His voice wavered only slightly, but she wasn't sure of the cause.
It would be so easy to keep her head down and walk out of the office. That transfer to the Boise Post Office had suddenly become pretty appealing.
Instead, she forced herself to look up, as if this was just another one of their awkward work moments. "I'm a good agent," she stated, trying to keep the pleading out of her tone.
"I know you are," he agreed, quietly, but sincerely.
"I'm not just the agent you happened to sleep with."
As she turned away, she thought she heard him murmur after her, "You never were."