|Compromising Positions: A Very Sticky Situation
Author: Kate McCaye PM
The end of the ‘Compromising Positions’ series is, of course, the most embarrassing of all, for all of SG1. SJ. Now Complete.Rated: Fiction T - English - Humor/Romance - J. O'Neill & S. Carter - Chapters: 10 - Words: 43,782 - Reviews: 385 - Favs: 114 - Follows: 21 - Updated: 09-07-05 - Published: 08-26-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2552776
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Well, for my last chapter I've apparently decided to go Dickens on you guys, and it's incredibly long. I hope that doesn't make it unreadable - I thought of splitting it up into two, but it was done so I decided to post it all together. As many of you may know, I'm very pregnant with twins and this one was sort of a last-minute race to get it done before they're born (I have 24 days left, but with twins you never know.) Anyway, this is the end of this series of 'Compromising Positions,' and I would be absolutely shocked if I find the desire or the time to write anything else at all for the next several months. I'll probably turn up again eventually. In the meantime, I'll keep up the reading/reviewing when I have the time. Not to get too sappy here, but I just wanted to say thanks to everyone reading this - when I started writing, I didn't realize how much more fun it is when you get feedback! It's completely addictive, and it was a good alternative to caffeine and running during my pregnancy, so thanks again.
Ch 10: Still Stuck
General Hammond and Thor led a very happy SG-1 and an even happier Jacob Carter back to the infirmary. "I've already contacted Dr. Fraiser - unfortunately she had to cut her day off short and head right back to the base, but she insisted on examining the substance Thor brought with him before she'll allow any of you to try it."
"She has control issues," Jack commented idly, to no one in particular.
Sam trod on his foot in defence of her friend, which actually hurt as they were wearing flip-flops instead of their normal steel-toed boots. He yelped and said, "Carter!"
"Sorry, sir, it was an accident," she said innocently.
"Right," he muttered under his breath, scowling at the world in general when he saw that the only men in the room with the power to reprimand her, apart from himself, were completely on her side. "Not fair," he muttered again.
"What was that, Jack?" Jacob asked.
"Nothing, Dad," he said. He turned his attention to Thor and asked, "So, little buddy, how's it going?"
Although Daniel looked appalled, Thor merely tilted his head and said, "It goes well, O'Neill, if I understand you correctly."
"Good. Hey, you know, as long as you're here, if you can hang out for a while, you never did take me up on that fishing offer. It's great, you know, this sweet little lake…"
"I do not believe the Asgard High Council would approve of me risking the exposure of our entire race to the humans of your planet to accompany you on a fishing excursion, O'Neill. But I thank you for the offer, as always."
"Hmm. All right then," Jack said reluctantly. He poked Carter in the shoulder and whispered, "See, at least he's got a decent excuse."
She stifled a laugh and was saved having to come up with a reply when Janet entered her infirmary full-steam ahead, skidding to a stop near Teal'c, who put his arm out to stop her, but she stopped herself just short of his arm. She was already out of breath from running to her infirmary (in those clunky heels, on top of that!), so Jack really had no idea where she was getting the air to speak but she suddenly began speaking very quickly. "Thor! I'm sure everyone's already expressed to you how grateful we are for your help in this matter - I'd just like to get a look at a sample of the substance you've brought under the microscope, maybe combine it with a sample of the original substance, before I let SG-1 have any contact with it, you understand of course…"
"Dr. Fraiser, breathe," General Hammond cut in patiently, turning to Thor. "Now that we're all here, why don't you tell us a little bit more about how you found the substance."
"Certainly, General Hammond. I received your message, and was most surprised to hear of the substance and its affects on all of you. I had never heard of such a thing before, nor had anyone on the High Council. Our alliance with the Nox has proven beneficial for many reasons, but one important aspect of that friendship is that we compliment each other - one being stronger in an area where another is weak. I suspect it is much the same with you, SG-1. In any case, we, the Asgard have spent much time developing technology. The Nox, as you know, are not interested in such things. They are what I would put in your Earth terms, biological experts. Naturalists, perhaps. Knowing this, I contacted them and have deferred to their judgment in an area I feel they are far more knowledgeable than I."
"Do they know what this stuff is?" Daniel asked, waving his and Teal'c's joint hands to indicate 'this stuff.'
"They do," Thor said, nodding his head once. "It is very complicated. In terms you and I can understand, the substance binds like cells to each other by creating a homeostatic state between them - in other words, it convinces your cells that being connected to each other is their natural state of being, much as your own skin holds itself together."
"That's unbelievable," Janet said.
"Wow," Sam and Daniel both said.
"How do you undo it?" Jack asked.
"Again, the solution lies in homeostasis… or something similar to it, to be more precise. You must simply ingest an amount of the substance approximate to the amount already on your bodies. The substance within will balance itself with the substance without, thus…"
"Whoa!" Jack said, waving his one free hand. "We've gotta eat that stuff?"
"Ewwwwwwwwwww," Sam and Janet said.
Daniel turned faintly green. Even Hammond looked as if he had a bad taste in his mouth. Thor watched them all and said, "Lya has assured me it is not toxic to your systems. It is perfectly safe to consume. I took the liberty of collecting more on my way here. Dr. Fraiser, perhaps you should verify that this is the same exact substance with your microscope."
He pressed a button on his palm device and a jar-like container of the thick substance materialized in his hand. He gave it to Fraiser, who smeared a small sample on a slide and placed it under a microscope. SG-1 watched in a kind of frozen horror - nobody wanted to have to eat that stuff if they could get around it.
"Maybe we could mix it in with some Jell-o…" Jack suggested.
"I don't think so, Colonel," Janet told him, swivelling back around to face them. "From what it sounds like, we don't want anything else interfering with it. It'll have to be taken straight. Thor's right, this is the same substance."
"We will go first," Teal'c stated.
Daniel blinked at him. "We will?"
"We will," he repeated firmly. "We were exposed to much less of the substance than O'Neill and Major Carter, therefore we will not have to ingest as much. Should anything go wrong, the effect would be less severe for us."
Daniel nodded, looking like he might very well vomit at the very idea of having to drink goopy alien sap.
Janet poured some into two small beakers, guessing a little bit on the safe side how much would be required, based on the estimated surface area of Daniel's hand. She handed them their beakers wordlessly, looking at them apologetically, as if she were responsible for the fact that nobody had another viable solution.
"They need to ingest the substance within the same short period of time, or one of them will end up having to take it twice," Thor warned.
"Bottom's up, boys," Jack said, trying to tease them, although his dry tone showed that his heart wasn't really in it - he was too worried about the fact that he'd have to do the same thing in a few minutes.
Everyone winced as they watched Teal'c and Daniel knock back the little beakers like they were shots. Teal'c swallowed his without making any sort of face at all, handed Fraiser the beaker back, and said only, "That was most unpleasant."
Daniel, on the other hand, spluttered and coughed it up, then gagged. Fraiser yelled, "Nobody touch him!" Obviously, she was worried about other people ending up stuck to each other.
"I'm going to puke," Daniel announced to the room a second before he made a dive for the nearest sink and started vomiting spectacularly.
Jack and Sam backed into a nearby corner, trying to get away from Daniel. Poor Teal'c still had no choice. Jacob and Hammond backed into another corner. Fraiser quickly put on Level 3 gloves that went up to her shoulders, filled a plastic syringe - without the needle of course - with another dose of the substance, and as soon as Daniel had stopped throwing up, she got him in an awkward headlock, tipped his head back, forced the syringe in the side of his mouth, and squirted all of the goo down the back of his throat so he had no choice but to swallow it.
"Teal'c, rub his back," she ordered, and set about making sure all of the stuff Daniel had spit up or out was properly quarantined.
"Danny… look, pal, you know how we all feel about you…" Jack finally said, still wincing. "But please… don't ever do anything like that again."
"Yeah, let's see you handle it any better. It tastes like… like brine shrimp and… and brussel sprouts," Daniel said weakly as Teal'c patted him on the back.
"It does indeed," Teal'c agreed.
"Great," Jack and Sam both muttered.
"Well… let's see if it works first," Hammond said. "Nice work, Dr. Fraiser."
"Thank you, sir."
"Umm, Dr. Fraiser, were you a veterinarian in another life?" Jacob asked.
"I was about to say that!" Jack exclaimed, looking impressed.
"Oh brother," Sam said under her breath, then called, "Daniel, how you feeling?"
"Well… let's just say if you were a vet in another life, Janet… now would be a good time to put me to sleep."
He sat down on a nearby gurney wearily and rubbed his aching stomach with both hands. It took him several moments, as he was so absorbed in feeling sorry for himself, to realize that everyone was staring at him.
He watched them watching him and continued to rub his stomach. Sam was grinning at him with that 'I know something you don't know' grin she saved for special occasions. Jack was giving him an 'and you say I'm dense' look, and Jacob and General Hammond were merely watching him patiently, as though waiting for him to be clued in on something they weren't going to bother telling him. Thor started to say something, but Janet held up her hand to stop him, smiling at Daniel like he was a puppy who'd just learned 'sit' but wasn't quite sure of his own accomplishment. Teal'c had both arms crossed and was…
Wait a minute! Daniel thought. If Teal'c had both arms crossed… he looked down at his own hands, both of them, and grinned at Teal'c. "It worked!" he exclaimed, realizing even as he said it that it was obviously unnecessary - he'd been a bit slow on the uptake this time.
Well, he rationalised. The others weren't preoccupied with trying to swallow that horrible sap and not throw up everything they'd eaten in the past two weeks.
He continued looking at his hands and barely noticed the continued movement and conversation of the people around him, until Janet gave him a cup of water and told him to stay put - apparently she wanted to do another full check-up after everything was over.
He finally decided his hand wasn't quite as interesting as watching Jack and Sam try to swallow theirs, and turned his attention back to the group.
"Doc, forcryinoutloud, I don't need the syringe! I can swallow it on my own!" Jack was insisting.
"I'm sure you can, Colonel," Janet said patiently. "But it would be much easier and safer for all concerned if…"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, think about it, sir," Janet said reasonably. "If what happened to Daniel happens to you, I don't think Sam's going to be very happy with you."
"You can say that again," Sam said dryly. Dropping the occasional bit of Jell-o on her shoulder was one thing - she really didn't want Jack being sick all over her.
"She does have a good point, Jack," Hammond said gently.
"Carter!" he barked. "You trust me not to puke on you, right?"
"Bet that's a question that doesn't get asked very often," Daniel commented.
"Can it, Spacemonkey. Carter?"
She sighed heavily and really, really hoped she wouldn't regret doing this. "Yes, sir."
"There. Thank you. The rest of you can just… stand back… if you're so concerned."
Janet handed them both their beakers, which were about four or five times as full as Daniel and Teal'c's had been, and retreated to a safe distance, or what Hammond and Jacob had judged to be safe, at any rate.
Jack looked down at the beaker in his hand. There was no way he could swallow all that at once. He sighed. "Sir? Seriously, please don't…" Sam started.
"I won't!" he insisted. Deciding a diversion would be good for both of them, he said, "I bet I even finish before you."
"Chicken? Come on. Loser buys dinner next time the team's out?"
"Excellent. Cheers, Carter."
They clinked their beakers together and both started drinking the horrible stuff. Daniel's description of its flavor was astonishingly accurate. Sam pinched her nose to get it down without as much difficulty. Jack couldn't hold his beaker and pinch his nose at the same time, so he took to stamping his feet and swearing loudly in between mouthfuls.
Sam won, but barely. They both handed their beakers to Janet and started begging for water.
"Not until after you're separated," she told them firmly. "We don't want to dilute the effects, do we? Then you'll just have to take more. Good job, both of you."
"Thanks, Doc," Jack said, glaring at her as though she were responsible for its flavor simply because she had handed him the beaker. She didn't take it personally.
After a few seconds, during which Janet and Daniel began interrogating Thor on anything else he had learned about the substance, Jack experimentally tried to wiggle the fingers that had been curled around his 2IC's waist for nearly a week. He was surprised when they actually moved. He wiggled them some more, and she squirmed underneath them, trying not to laugh.
"Sorry, forgot how ticklish you are," he said absently, too happy with the fact that he could now move his hand to be bothered with the fact that Hammond didn't look very thrilled at that off-hand remark, and Jacob looked significantly less thrilled than that.
He would have liked to say something to Carter before they separated for good. He wasn't sure exactly what he would have said - but it didn't really matter - he was saved having to come up with something better than We should do this again sometime or Well, it's been fun because they weren't alone anyway.
So, he settled for curling his hand back around her waist and giving her a quick, discreet squeeze before he successfully peeled his arm off of her. She stepped away and that was it - SG-1 was now only a tight-knit group in the figurative sense of the phrase. Jack looked at all four of them standing separately for the first time in days and felt like their separations had been a bit on the anticlimactic side. Oh well.
"I want to examine all of you right away before you can go," Janet reminded them.
Hammond began guiding Thor and Jacob out of the infirmary and added, "And after she clears you - all of you take the rest of the weekend, and Monday and Tuesday off. Not only are you all overdue for some downtime - I'd say you've all earned a little 'alone time' as well."
After being cleared by Fraiser, SG-1 was sent to their respective homes. Although Teal'c lived on base, of course, he walked them all to their cars in the parking lot. Everyone was unusually quiet, not really sure what to say. They were all eager to go home, get good and clean, and relax by themselves, but it seemed weird to just go their separate ways without saying anything.
Surprisingly, it was Teal'c who spoke first. "I am glad to have the use of both hands once again, Daniel Jackson. But I look forward to seeing you on Wednesday."
"Thanks, Teal'c. Me too."
"Team dinner, say, Monday night?" Jack offered quickly. "That'll give everyone time to veg, give Carter some time with her dad…"
"You do owe me dinner," she reminded him with a smile, suddenly optimistic at the prospect of a definite date to look forward to with all of them. Despite what Jack had just said, her father knew she needed a bit of time to herself and had said he'd be hanging out with Hammond, and that she could call him whenever she wanted to do something.
"That I do," he agreed. "Danny? Will Monday be enough time for you to apologize to all the rocks at your apartment for neglecting them all week?"
"Funny, Jack. And… yes."
"Good. T? Objections to Monday?"
"That sounds most pleasant, O'Neill."
"Good. Then that's settled then."
The quick camaraderie dissolved again and they all stood there awkwardly, in between Jack's truck and Sam's car.
"Well… I better go. I think I might have left a carton of milk out on my counter the day we left for the planet… it's probably exploded all over my kitchen by now," Daniel said, waving at Jack awkwardly.
Sam, beside him, hugged him impulsively. He hugged her back and said quietly, "Call me if you get too bored."
"You too," she said with a smile, knowing that Daniel was just as bad about 'doing nothing' as she was.
"Ohforcryinoutloud. You two are acting like you're being shipped off to prison, not given a three-day pass. Stop moping!"
"Yes, sir," Sam said, laughing at the mock-order.
Daniel sighed deeply and said, "Goodbye, Jack. A pleasure, as always."
Since he had just been hugging Sam, Daniel hugged Teal'c as well in a sudden, guy-hug-and-shoulder-pat that actually elicited an expression from Teal'c, who returned the gesture cautiously, but with obvious affection. Obvious if you knew Teal'c, of course.
Daniel headed off to his own car, which was a few spaces away, and Teal'c nodded to Jack and Sam, then headed back towards the mountain's entrance.
"Don't they make a cute couple," Jack commented to their friends' retreating forms.
Sam rolled her eyes but was looking down at her shoes. True, it was a bit of a surprise to see them clad in standard-issue boots after almost a week of flip-flops, but even so, they weren't nearly as fascinating as she was pretending they were.
"Well…" Jack started. "I guess you've got lots to do… old take away boxes to bin… new science journals to read… plants with which to converse…"
"How long are you going to keep bringing that up?" she asked, flushing with embarrassment. All three men of SG-1 had looked at her like they were taking her straight to Mackenzie as soon as they got back to Earth when she had reluctantly admitted to them that she talked to her plants. Over five years ago.
"How long? Hmm… probably until it stops getting a reaction from you. Or shortly thereafter."
"Right. What about you, sir?"
He shrugged. "I'm an expert at doing nothing, Carter, don't you know that by now?"
"I believe I did get that memo."
"Hey, be nice. Seriously though, have a good time with your dad."
"He's playing golf with Hammond tomorrow… but I'll probably have dinner with him or something. Thanks, sir."
He shifted on his feet and said, "Yeah. Well… see you later. I mean, I'll call you. About Monday. Probably on Monday… so, er… well, see you." He fumbled for his keys quickly and suddenly became so preoccupied with finding the proper one that he didn't notice her moving towards him in time to do anything other than take a half-step back in surprise when she hugged him too.
Remembering what he'd been thinking about just that morning while she slept, he returned the hug carefully, trying to remember how Daniel had done the whole 'brotherly hug' thing. He didn't think he got it quite right - there seemed to be much more of his body pressing into hers than would have been normal for a Daniel-Sam hug… or at least one Daniel would come out of without being subjected to a Jack O'Neill death-glare.
He let go of her when he felt her pulling away, and cleared his throat, feeling the need to say something about the past week… anything, it didn't even matter what… "Well… good thing there wasn't any alien super-glue stuff on us just now, huh," he said. Then he wanted to kick his own ass for such a dumb remark.
She seemed to have expected him to say something like that, judging by her 'be patient with the Colonel' smile. He wasn't sure if he should feel better or worse about that.
"Bye, Colonel," she finally said, unlocking her own car and sliding behind the wheel.
He put a hand on the top of her door to close it for her after she got situated, and leaned in slightly. He just couldn't leave it like that - with him looking like a doof. Smirking like a smug, smug bastard, he said, "Say hi to all your plants for me, Carter."
He shut the door while she was giving him a very funny combination of death-glare and really-cute-pout. Then he turned to get into his own truck and decided it was probably a good idea to not think of 'really-cute' and his 2IC in the same sentence. At least for a while.
On the way back to the mountain, Teal'c heard a strange sound. It was a bit like a baby crying… but not exactly. And there seemed to be more than one source of noise. He had heard a similar noise… yes, when Major Carter brought her feline companion to the base to show the Tollan alien, Narim.
Teal'c followed the noise, discovering its source just off the road in the treeline. There was a small box full of cats. Very small cats. Infants, if Teal'c was guessing correctly. Looking around for a mother cat, or a person to whom they might belong, he saw no one. The crying of the cats was getting louder since they spotted him. He felt sorry for them, thinking they must be in need our nourishment. Someone inside would know what to do. He scooped up the box, peering down inside. Six baby cats of various color and similar size, all falling over each other as they tried to inspect him.
"I will take you to General Hammond," he told them, heading purposefully inside.
Hammond answered his ringing phone, causing Jacob Carter to pause in his story.
"Hammond… why didn't anyone stop him… no, I guess you've got a point there… all right, Sergeant. Thanks for the warning." He hung up the phone and shook his head chuckling.
"What?" Jacob asked.
"Teal'c's on his way in. With a box of kittens."
"You can say that again," Hammond agreed as Teal'c filled the doorway with his large frame, a slightly-battered box held in his arms.
"General Hammond, I have an urgent matter to discuss with you."
"Come on in, Teal'c. I was told you found something by the parking lot."
"I have indeed. They appear to be baby cats."
"Kittens, Teal'c. We call them kittens."
"Very well. As you can see," he said, setting the box down on Hammond's desk, right on top of a stack of personnel files. "There are six of them. They appear unharmed, but they were alone. No mother cat was present, and I did not see any humans either."
"They were probably abandoned, Teal'c," Hammond told him gently.
"They are defenceless," Teal'c stated. "Why would someone abandon defenceless creatures?"
"People do it all the time, Teal'c," Jacob said. "It's terrible, but it happens. These look old enough to be away from their mom though, so they should be okay if we find homes for them. Sam always had at least one cat growing up, and they were always about this size when she brought them home."
"Perhaps Major Carter would like these kittens then," Teal'c said.
"Er… I think six kittens is a bit much for any one person to handle, Teal'c," Hammond said. "I tell you what… I'll take one of them for Tessa and Kayla. Why don't you take them to your quarters, look up a bit of information about kittens on the internet, and then start asking around the base for homes for the rest of these little guys. I'll have Fraiser bring you some supplies, and let me know if you need anything else."
"Very well. If Major Carter would not like all of these kittens, perhaps she would like one."
"Thank you, General Hammond."
"You're welcome, Teal'c."
Unfortunately, all three men of SG-1 just knew her way too well. True to their teasing predictions, it didn't take long for Sam to get bored at her house. At first it was perfectly wonderful to have a completely unrestricted range of motion - she had even called up Cassie and they had gone for a quick swim at the nearby gym.
When she got back home, however, the newness of that had started to wear off. She filled the rest of her evening with chores, beginning with cleaning out her refrigerator, then spreading to the cabinets… from there it just made sense to give the entire kitchen a good scrubbing… and while she had the gloves on she might as well do the bathrooms…
Realizing her dad would probably be over at some point, maybe bringing General Hammond and possibly Tessa if she was still staying with him, she went ahead and finished, giving the rest of her house a good, thorough, long-overdue cleaning. Finally satisfied with the inside, she determined to tackle the outside tomorrow, and work on her yard. Maybe even clean out the rain gutters. Think about painting the trim… now though, she needed a shower.
She had promised herself a long, hot bath just before bed, so she just showered off quickly, getting rid of the grime from cleaning and spending an inordinate amount of time scrubbing her back, which had been encased in the same tee-shirt for several days. She tried very hard not to think about the 'help' she'd so recently had in the shower, and firmly put all those dangerous thoughts to a stop by deciding what to do about dinner.
As she dried herself off and stepped out of the shower, she decided it was definitely not worth going shopping at this time of night, then messing up a kitchen she had just spent so much time cleaning. She ordered herself a pizza, checked the fridge to make sure she had some diet soda, and dressed herself in sweatpants and a tee-shirt. She would have liked to go ahead and put on her pajamas, but didn't really want to answer the door for the pizza man like that.
Sam truly enjoyed her solitary evening. After the pizza arrived, she settled herself in her dimly lit living room with a plate of pizza, her drink, and the copy of Middlemarch she had been working her way through for the third time. Her simple dinner completed, she thought briefly about calling Daniel to make sure he was doing okay (figuring he was probably bored, and already debating returning to the base) but he was a big boy. He could make up his own mind. And the bathtub was practically calling her name.
It was her favorite thing about her house - the only thing she was really attached to about the house itself, if truth be told. She didn't spend much time here, and when she did it was usually because she or another member of the team was nursing an injury. Sam remembered Janet being shocked - the first time she brought Cassie over for a sleepover - that Sam lived in a 'homey house.' Janet, apparently, had assumed she maintained a 'shoebox of an apartment full of old textbooks and journals where she occasionally showered and rested for a few hours.' Sam had not bothered to mention to Janet that the house had been her dad's, but that he didn't exactly need it after he went off to live with the Tok'ra.
Regardless, she watered her plants (refusing, on principle, to pass along Jack's greeting to them), and then set about filling her tub with almost-scalding water and a fizzy bath bomb. She fetched her book from the kitchen and quickly sank into happy, relaxed oblivion.
Jack shovelled a heaping spoonful of Chinese take away into his mouth just as the phone rang. He picked it up with a not-too-greasy hand and said, "Ompheel."
"What? Jack? You there?"
Wiping a few grains of fried rice off the receiver, Jack swallowed and said, "Daniel, forcryingoutloud, I just saw you…"
"Yeah, I know. Teal'c called… he found some kittens. Want one?"
"Do I want a… is this a joke?"
"No," Daniel said patiently.
"What the hell would I do with a kitten?"
"Feed it, give it a litter box, a warm, dry place to sleep… a little pat on the head every now and then, annual trip to the vet…"
"Doesn't sound like so much work," Jack admitted reluctantly.
"Yeah. Look, there's six of them here. Sam's not answering her phone but we've kind of got one on reserve for her. Hammond's taking one for his granddaughters, but he doesn't care which one. Sergeant Harriman's coming to pick one out tonight. So the sooner you get here the sooner you'll get to pick one out…"
"Does it matter?"
"I don't know…"
"Are you taking one?"
"Yeah, probably. Or Teal'c'll rip my arms off," Daniel said casually.
"Have you and Teal'c already picked yours out?"
"Teal'c can't keep one. Hammond won't allow one in the base."
"But he found them… that's not fair."
Remembering his bet with Carter, Jack said, "Why don't you just ask Teal'c to move in with you - the security risk would be minimal, and then you could both keep one."
"Is this a joke?"
"No… why? You're hardly off-base anyway, what's the difference if Teal'c's meditating in the spare bedroom on those rare nights where you are?"
"Huh. Well… that's an interesting idea, Jack. I'll definitely think about it." Daniel sounded more surprised by the fact that the logical suggestion had come from Jack than the suggestion itself.
"Okay. I'll come up tomorrow and check out the inventory."
"Very funny. See you."
Jack hung up the phone and marvelled at how weird his life was.
After a nice, long bath, Sam was relaxed. As relaxed as she could ever get. The relaxed that could only be followed by the inevitable boredom that set in soon afterwards. She climbed into bed optimistically, smoothing out her lovely, cool, squashy pillow that was so much better than the ones at the SGC, shut off her bedside lamp, settled in, and tried to sleep.
And couldn't. This wasn't unusual. This was actually normal. She always did this. Tossed and turned for hours… it had nothing to do with the fact that it was the first time she was trying to sleep without one wonderfully cuddly human-blanket-Colonel wrapped around her. Nope. Not one thing. She just… wasn't tired. She slept late that morning. Of course she wasn't tired. She got up and started to read again.
Middlemarch wasn't holding her attention like it usually did. She tossed the book aside, flopped onto her back, and glared at her ceiling. She had lots of stuff to get caught up on in her lab… but if her CO found out she hadn't made it through one night home alone he'd never let her hear the end of it. Her geekiness would be forever solidified in his mind… if it wasn't already, of course. She screwed her eyelids shut, although she didn't expect the angry approach to sleeping would be all that effective either.
"Teal'c, do you want to come and live with me?" Daniel offered casually as they played with the remaining five kittens. Sergeant Harriman had chosen the darker of the two orange and white ones already.
"Of what do you speak, Daniel Jackson?"
"You know… you could move into my apartment. We could be roommates. Like that show you watch."
"Yeah. That way you could have your own cat, and a little more space… I mean it wouldn't be a lot more, my apartment's not huge or anything. But you could get off the base a little more and Jack thinks Hammond would be okay with the security issues if you're with me…"
"Are you certain you would not tire of my presence, Daniel Jackson?"
"Of course not. I mean, we got through being glued together for almost a week just fine, didn't we?"
"We did, indeed."
Teal'c plucked the largest kitten, a grey striped one that had taken more of a liking to Teal'c than the others, and seemed to think he was something to be constantly climbed upon, off of his tee-shirt. He pet its head and studied it carefully. "I would like for this animal to become my pet, Daniel Jackson. Your offer is most generous. I will accept, on the condition that you promise to inform me honestly should you wish to live alone again."
"Great. It'll be fun. We can go talk to Hammond in the morning - it's pretty late. I think I'll take this little guy - he seems to get along best with the one you've got there. What should we name them?" He picked up the black and white kitten, which looked oddly formal next to the other ones, as though he were wearing a tuxedo.
"I believe they are both male, are they not?" Teal'c asked.
"Yeah… I'm pretty sure."
"Then I have a suggestion. If they are to live together, we could name them Bert and Ernie."
Daniel regarded Teal'c steadily for a moment, trying to determine if he was joking or not. It was hard to tell. He wasn't. "Umm. Well, okay. This one will be Ernie, okay?"
"And this one shall be Bert."
"Jack's going to love this," Daniel muttered.
"Freaking cat," Jack mumbled as he got into bed.
He wasn't really sure why he'd agreed so readily to taking in one of Teal'c's strays… but he was pretty sure it had to do with the fact that once he'd been home for a few hours, and the initial pleasure of being able to use both hands and go to the bathroom without an audience passed… he was kind of lonely. He'd never admit it to anybody, of course. But he was. And Daniel had called at the exact wrong time… the idea of sharing his house with something as self-sufficient as a cat didn't seem all that bad. It sounded kinda… nice.
Then Jack had remembered he loved dogs for a reason. He hadn't really been around cats very much but they didn't seem all that great. Dogs were always so happy to see you, and they did all kinds of neat things, by themselves and if you taught them… he really didn't actually know much about the mechanics of actually owning a cat. And he couldn't really seem to see himself as Jack O'Neill: cat owner.
Maybe he could convince Carter to keep two of them. Or he could give one to Cassie… no, she already had the dog, they usually didn't get along well…
Plus, weren't kittens like… really small and fragile? And didn't they get into everything? Jack got up and went into his seldom-used office, and flipped on his even more seldom-used computer. He needed to know what he was getting into. Know thine enemy, and all that.
Sam let herself into her lab with a swipe of her card, the sound of the heavy metal door sounding even louder than usual in the quiet, dark corridor. It was barely five in the morning, but she'd tossed and turned all night long and finally decided to give it up and come on in. She'd work for a little while, then go back home around noon… and her CO never needed to find out about it.
She quickly lost herself in the backlog of reports from various pieces of technology at Area 51, and by the time she got her first visitor of the day, shortly after dawn, she was so engrossed in reading (and correcting) the schematics in front of her that she nearly fell off her stool when a voice rumbled, "Fancy meeting you here."
Looking up from her report guiltily, she said, "Sir, what are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same thing, couldn't I Major Carter?" he drawled.
"I couldn't sleep," she said distractedly. "What about you?"
"I… couldn't sleep either," he admitted, taking himself over to her computer desk and sinking into the chair.
He didn't seem willing to start volunteering information, so she went back to work for a few moments, then set her pencil down and looked at him carefully. He didn't look like he slept much, although he had showered and shaved, and was back in his BDUs, so he still looked better than he had done when she'd last seen him. "Everything okay, sir?"
She gave a nod and went back to work quietly. It wasn't unusual for him to come sit in her lab for a while as she worked, although she had guessed that after the past week he'd had more than enough of her lab for quite some time. Apparently not. So, she did what she always did when he dropped into the lab - went on about her business and kept an eye on him in case he got his hands on something particularly valuable or dangerous.
He was watching her. She pretended not to be aware of it for as long as she possibly could, but she was certain her cheeks were starting to redden under his gaze, so she finally set her pencil down again and met his eyes. "Sir? What are you doing here?"
He shrugged and looked down at his hands. "You weren't answering your phone. I thought you maybe came here."
"Daniel said he and Teal'c were calling you and you didn't answer… and I tried to call you too… I thought maybe you came here. If you weren't I was going to see if you were okay… I guess you just wanted a quiet night to yourself, huh?"
"I must have been in the bath… I turned the ringer off."
"Oh." He looked around the room and said, "You switched the table."
"Yeah… I couldn't really work alone at that lower one. Why was Daniel calling me last night?"
"Oh, you didn't hear! Teal'c found a bunch of kittens yesterday, and you get one!"
"Teal'c found six kittens. One's being reserved for you."
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah. He's finding homes for all of them. The faster you go claim one, the wider selection you'll have."
"Yeah. I'm going to name mine 'Lucy' so I can walk in the door and go, 'Lucy, I'm hoooome!'"
She laughed and said, "Good plan, sir… assuming there's a female kitten left."
"Teal'c and Daniel already claimed the only males."
"Oh. Okay, then, that makes it easy."
"What are you going to name yours? Don't pick some dorky scientific reference only egg-heads will get. Pick something cool," he said sternly.
She smiled and asked mildly, "I can't even name my own cat in peace, sir?"
Sounding thoroughly put-upon, he waved a hand and said, "Fine, go ahead."
Determined not to pick something he could classify as egg-headish, she said the first thing that popped into her head. "Hannah."
"There. That's a lot better than Shroedinger," he agreed, nodding his approval.
She refused to take the bait and simply said, "I'll stop by Teal'c's after breakfast to look at them. It's probably still a little early…"
"Yeah, I'll say. What time did you get here?"
She shrugged. "Around five or so."
"Sorry. I relaxed, I really did. I just… relax fast, I guess. And you're here too, sir," she reminded him.
"Good point," he mumbled, turning his attention to her computer. He started playing with the mouse so she went back to her own work.
After five minutes of silence, he said, "I missed you."
Her head snapped back up in surprise. He looked surprised too - the quiet admission had sounded strangely loud in the small room.
She cleared her throat and looked back down at the schematics spread before her, and hesitantly admitted, "Me too."
He got up and came over to the lab table, standing on the opposite side. Leaning over with his elbows on the table, he asked, "Yeah?" in such a tone that she didn't need to look up to see he was smiling while he said it.
"I mean… I'm glad we're not stuck together anymore…" she started.
"Oh, yeah me too. I mean… not that it was all bad or anything… some of it was fun… and some of it was, you know, good… but some was just…"
"Embarrassing?" she supplied.
"Yeah," he agreed. "But you still… I mean… you still…"
"Yeah. Sir, we shouldn't be talking about this," she pointed out unnecessarily.
"I know. We suck at it anyway. At least I do." He picked up her compass and started playing with it, drawing a few circles on a spare bit of paper, then examining it to see if it was sharp enough to use as a dart. He suddenly remembered a poem about a compass and asked, "Hey, Carter, do you know any John Donne?"
"A little… why?"
"I just thought of a poem about a compass…"
"Wouldn't have figured you for a fan of metaphysical poetry, sir."
"I'm not," he insisted, placing the compass down as though it were contaminated. "I was just looking through a book in Daniel's lab… I think it was when we had the armbands and I could read really fast. I read almost everything in there, just to piss him off. Didn't retain any of it, of course…" He trailed off into silence again, and Sam made a little note in the margin of the paper in front of her to ask Daniel to find the poem for her later.
She made a few notes about efficiency improvements on the design in front of her, and glanced up at him again. He was scribbling something on the paper he had been drawing circles on earlier. He looked tired, and he looked like he'd been thinking hard about something for a while. He also clearly had more to say, although he didn't want to say it, which most likely meant he wasn't supposed to say it… in which case she wasn't supposed to want to hear it either.
She still did.
"I missed you when we were stuck together too."
Okay, I wasn't expecting that, she thought, looking up at him in surprise, fully aware that she probably looked a lot like a startled deer at the moment.
"I know. I just… when we were stuck everything was different… you know, our whole dynamic… all of SG-1... It was thrown off. I missed that."
That was okay. Not an inappropriate thing to say.
"And… I missed being able to see your face."
Okay, that one kind of was.
He knew it too, she thought with a scowl. Damn well knew he shouldn't be saying things like that, even if we both think about them. And he just big fat did it anyway.
She understood what he was trying to say though - she'd been trying very hard and very unsuccessfully not to wrestle with similar thoughts all night.
She had once thought having to admit to having feelings for each other under the circumstances the zay'tarc detector created was just about the most terribly unjust thing ever. Not only to have to openly admit to having those feelings, but hearing them reciprocated… even though they had both pretty much known it was there anyway, saying it out loud and then having to bury it had just been terribly cruel.
This was almost worse. Maybe if it had happened before the zay'tarc incident… but it was after. Years after. So their latest situation had not only done to the physical attraction between them what the zay'tarc detector had done for the emotional one… but it also reinforced all the emotional stuff from the zay'tarc detector, which over the years had been in question by both of them at various times. Largely unacknowledged meant sometimes easy to ignore…
But in the time they'd been stuck together, she had been surprised by many things. Some of them were quite nice and could be discussed easily with Janet and even Cassie: she liked his arm around her, liked waking up with him spooned behind her, she'd never been a lap person before but didn't mind it so much with him… that kind of thing.
But being that close to him… he had surprised her by bringing up the very intimate contact of his groin and her backside, that first morning. She had, of course, known rationally that he was a normal man (at least biologically speaking), and men often woke up aroused. That wasn't news to her, and she would have easily been able to rationalize it away. Showering together and sitting on his lap, as well… it was bound to pique his interest every now and then, so to speak.
But she had been completely surprised at just how often, and in what circumstances, she felt that interest piqued. She could be rambling on and on about the latest readings on the substance; arguing with him, Janet, or Daniel; goofing off with him while they ate dinner… the list went on and on until she stopped noticing when he was aroused and started noticing when he wasn't instead. She had been completely surprised, embarrassed, and flattered at first, but then she'd just felt sorry for him. It had to be incredibly painful.
She knew he would be mortified if she brought it up. 'Mentioned it,' she mentally corrected. Much safer word choice. It had to have been so embarrassing to start that conversation with her in the first place, that first morning. She always thought that when it came to their 'relationship,' she was infinitely more obvious about her feelings than he had ever been. Now that was effectively shot to hell, and the least she could do was not to mention any of it aloud…
"Okay, Carter, I meant what I said and all, but… you're scaring me. You've been staring off into space for about five minutes…"
Since she couldn't exactly explain to him the nature of her own libidinous thoughts, she apologized quickly and covered lamely. "Sorry, sir… you surprised me and…"
"I know we've got some kind of silent agreement not to talk about any of this. It was just… weird. Having nothing between us… literally… for so long, then just going home and acting like nothing…"
"Happened," she finished. "I know. I couldn't do it either."
"So what now?"
"That's my line."
"Nothing. Never mind. I don't know, I mean, nothing's really changed… with regards to our… positions here."
"I know, but…" Just in case she couldn't detect the agitation in his voice or his growing frustration, he was doing a little impatient bounce, and looked three seconds away from some serious pacing. "Dammit this isn't fair."
"It never has been," she said, trying to sound distant.
"It's not that I don't respect the rules and the reasons they exist… maybe I don't respect them as much as you do but I still do, I swear…"
"I know you do."
"But it's still just… I mean…" The pacing began. Three times in front of her, then he started for a lap around the table. She stepped in front of him to stop him - he was in danger of knocking something over when he was that jumpy. He stopped six inches in front of her and said, "Look… here's the deal. Yeah, I'm glad I'm not stuck to you anymore. But I've been stuck on you for a long time, and…"
Sam suddenly decided that their no-talking-about-it policy maybe had a few benefits that so far remained unexplored, and interrupted him by putting a hand firmly on each shoulder to keep him still for two seconds, and kissing him. Firm, and full on the mouth, but just a little bit beyond platonic.
She pulled back with her hands still on his shoulders, looking at him nervously, knowing that while he had been talking about the line they'd been dancing on for a long time, she had just effectively taken a flying leap over that line and redrawn it far, far away.
"Wh…what did you just…"
"I don't know!" she said, sounding just a little bit hysterical. "But I missed you too, dammit, and I missed you while we were stuck together too, because all I could see of you was your arm! And I could barely touch you back, and…"
He returned the favor, stopping her rambling by kissing her back exactly as she'd just done, although he did linger long enough for his hand to make it to the back of her head.
"Wh… what exactly are we…" she started.
"I don't know. Let's go with the whole no-talking thing for now, okay? Work all that crap out later?"
She considered giving him a sarcastic, 'How romantic' for his less-than poetic delivery, but decided against it almost instantly. There were more interesting things she could be doing with her mouth right now… like finding all the different ways it would fit against his. They stepped closer to each other, until they were as close as they'd been all week long, although this time they were facing each other. She smiled as she was able to wrap her arms around him as well. "Definite improvement."
General Hammond and Jacob knocked on Teal'c's door, and were surprised when Daniel answered. "I thought you went home, Dr. Jackson."
"Yes, sir, but I came back to pick out my new cat… I assume that's why you're here?"
"Yeah. Jacob and I have a nine o'clock tee-time. I thought we'd run the little guy home, give him to Tessa and Kayla, then go on to the golf course."
"Sounds good. Come on in."
The room was crowded with the four large men, and they all looked adorably out of place crouching around the box of kittens. The blanket from Teal'c's bed was now in the box with them.
"Five left… you've already found a home for one of them?" Jacob asked.
"Actually, we've found… homes… for all of them. Those two are… going to live with me." He picked up both male cats and met Teal'c's eyes, shaking his head slightly to tell him they should bring up Teal'c moving off-base later. After all, the General had a tee-time. Daniel knew the man would say yes as long as he listened patiently to a logical argument. Now just wasn't the time.
"Sergeant Harriman took one of the females last night," Teal'c informed them. "O'Neill and Major Carter will choose their kittens later."
"Sam doesn't surprise me… but Jack wants one?" Jacob asked.
"He does indeed. I predict he will choose the pale orange one with the white stripes. The solid black one seems more suited to Major Carter."
"Teal'c's already got personality profiles for all of them," Daniel supplied, carefully pulling Ernie off the top of his head. The cat loved his hair for some reason, although he seemed to feel that he could do a much better job of combing it himself than Daniel was doing.
"Well… in that case, I'll take this little one," Hammond said, picking up the one Teal'c had not mentioned. She was clearly the runt of the litter, and was solid white except for a tan tail, ears, and two of her paws. "She seems very sweet, I think she'll be great for the girls."
"As you wish, General Hammond. I am sure your granddaughters will give her a wonderful home."
"Thank you, Teal'c. I promise you, they will. Still, I think maybe we should go let Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill pick theirs out first… just in case they um, don't agree with your profiles."
"Jack and Sam aren't here," Daniel stated.
"Yes, they are. Major Carter checked in at 05.00, and Colonel O'Neill at 06.12."
"Those hypocrites," Daniel said under his breath as they all headed towards Sam's lab. If she was on base, that was probably where she was.
They made a strange travelling party - two Air Force Generals, an archaeologist, and a Jaffa, each carefully carrying a kitten. The 'extra' kitten was tucked into Teal'c's lapel pocket, its front paws and head poking out as it enjoyed the strange point-of-view.
Luckily, they only passed a few startled Airmen, who knew at this point not to question such strange sights, especially when they involved SG-1.
They formed a clump in the open doorway to Sam's lab. Because the first two men froze at the sight they found, and the second two kept moving until they saw what had stopped the first two. Then all four men stared in complete and utter shock at the sight in front of them. Just after dawn on a Sunday morning when they were both not even supposed to be on the base… Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill were in what had to be one of the most compromising positions imaginable for less-than-mature audiences.
They hadn't even noticed that their best friends, their CO, and Sam's father were standing there holding five cats. But that was understandable. Neither had their eyes open, and if they had they probably wouldn't have been able to see anything other than each other.
Half the clutter on Sam's work bench had been hastily pushed to one side. Sam was perched on the edge of it with her back to them. The angle hid a lot, but not enough. It also drew a lot of attention to the hand firmly attached to her ass, and the one that seemed to be blindly exploring under her tee-shirt. One thing that couldn't be hidden at all were all the normal wet and breathy sounds that went along with the sort of serious kissing they were doing, and the occasional moans coming from both of them sounded embarrassingly loud in the dead silence of the room.
Later, Daniel would wonder just how long they all stood there gaping incredulously at them before someone moved.
Sam and Jack were lost. Completely. Neither had really meant for things to go so far, so fast… but after a week of being constantly dangled in front of each other's noses… constantly touching but not really touching… they got a little carried away. While Sam knew she would be able to recall with perfect detail every moment of that first mutual kiss, once Jack had plopped her down on her table and they'd practically fused themselves together again, everything became a blur. Not really even a blur, because that implied high speed… and time had basically stopped mattering… so had pretty much everything else that wasn't Jack.
Jack was trying to remember as many things as possible as well, just in case this turned out to be a one-time thing, although he was not going to let that happen without a fight. One thing that had surprised him were the sounds coming out of Sam… little moans and maybe even a whimper here and there. They were hot. Not that he hadn't always thought kissing her would be incredible, but sounds hadn't really occurred to him… maybe since they'd spent so long keeping everything quiet he'd forgot to imagine that part… but he never would have imagined that sound. It sounded like…
"Was that a cat?" Sam asked distractedly against the side of his head.
He said something very brilliant into her collarbone, along the lines of, "Frrrmrrrrrrphhhhhmmmmmmm" and forgot that he'd heard something too. Then he heard it again and he reluctantly quit the impromptu vampire impersonation he'd taken to when he'd found that pulse point.
Blinking dazedly at her and wondering if it was possible that she'd completely fried every circuit he'd had left in his brain, he did what he always did: look to Carter for the answer. This time, she seemed just as confused (and distracted, he'd proudly take credit for that) as he was.
The noise repeated itself and they both recognized it at the same time. Cat. Kittens. Teal'c and Daniel.
Then a collective, Oh, crap!
They finally turned to the doorway and Sam actually slid right off the table when she saw that Hammond and her dad were there too. Of course they were Because that was just their luck. Jack caught her awkwardly when she fell ungracefully off the edge of the table, saw that she was on her feet, then pulled his hands off of her quickly, not sure what he should do or say.
Teal'c and Daniel looked surprised but happy, but Jack held no such delusions about Hammond and Jacob… especially Jacob. He suddenly noticed that the two irate, bald men were holding adorable kittens and had the insane urge to laugh. But that probably wouldn't be considered acceptable under the circumstances. Then again, if he wanted to try to plead insanity...
General Hammond spoke first, and Jack saw something in his eyes just before he spoke that told him somehow this was all going to be okay. "I suppose you've got some wonderful story for me, Colonel? Major?"
"S-sir?" Sam managed to stammer, trying very hard to keep her eyes from drifting to her father, who had his 'I'm very disappointed in you young lady, you're grounded and I'm killing that boy' look on his face - a look she hadn't seen since she was about fifteen.
"Well, come on. Year after year, you get yourselves in ridiculous positions, the whole lot of you… you've always got something to tell me. Let me guess, you were exposed to that alien virus that turned everyone into cavemen again? Some sort of Goa'uld trick? Are one or both of you robots, or perhaps clones? Or something original this time… was Major Carter stung in the mouth by a poisonous insect and you were nobly attempting to extract the deadly venom?"
"No… no, sir, none of those are true," Jack said. He shifted on his feet and encountered Sam, on his right. And he didn't jump away as if scalded, although that was the first thought that occurred to him when he glanced at Jacob - something he was trying not to do. He felt better, feeling her standing there. And he knew Daniel and Teal'c would help them too…
"Well, come on," Hammond pressed again. "Here, I'll help you. I've heard it a lot, so this is how it usually starts… 'General Hammond, this isn't what it looks like…'"
Sam slipped her hand into his and squeezed lightly. He looked at her in surprise and smiled at the look on her face - not unlike the 'well, if we must we must, let's do it with style' look that she got before they charged in to take on a big mess of Jaffa.
"Well, sir…" he started as Sam picked up the little thing that shut her door from the inside (Jack always thought it looked like a garage door opener.) She pointed it at the door, and the men in the doorway stepped backwards instinctively.
"Actually," Jack continued as Sam pressed the button and the door started sliding closed. He turned back to Sam, who looked a little scared but in a good way, and barely had time to grab her and dip her back again so he could see that same look on Hammond's face from the time loops before the doors slid shut. Just as it shut, he called loudly, "This is precisely what it looks like, sir."
A/N: I know, it's a bit open-ended. But it's shippy, and I really wanted to end this series on that line, even though it's completely cliched. If you must, just insert your favorite 'way round the rules' scenario floating around out there and go with that... Now, I'm done with SG-1 fanfic for the time being (maybe forever if they keep insisting on following the X-Files legacy so literally, but I digress.) Anyway, it's been a lot of fun. I've loved hearing what you all think about these stories - I'm gonna go have some babies now, hopefully really soon, I'm ready for these little darlings to come out!