"I'll have a ginger beer. J..Colonel?" Jonas asked, with only a trace of nerves.
"Beer. And whisky chaser. And just keep 'em coming, ok?" Jack said, looking up at the waitress with such a look of trapped helplessness in his eyes, she couldn't help smiling, and nodding.
"So...this is O'Malley's?" Jonas said, trying to make conversation.
"This is it." Jack agreed, ripping a cocktail napkin to shreds with short, sharp movements.
"And this is where the team comes to relax after missions?"
"Yeah. And eat steaks. And start fights." Jack muttered.
"The whole team." Jonas said, desperately, feeling the conversation beginning to grind to a halt.
"Usually." Jack groused, taking a long, long drink from the beer the waitress had just placed in front of him. He was going to kill Sam for this. An hour ago, she'd blithely suggested that they all go to O'Malley's for a drink to celebrate Jack's first mission back. 'Sure' he thought. 'Always enjoy spending time with Sam. And Teal'c, of course.'. Jonas had to come too, but that was ok.
But then, Sam suddenly remembered something important she had to do. And for some bizarre reason, she needed Teal'c to help her. And the two of them had rushed out, insisting Jonas and Jack stay, enjoy themselves, have fun. It was the fakest exit Jack had ever seen Sam make. He so knew what was going on. He'd been set up, in an attempt to help him get to know Jonas. Not that he objected to getting to know Jonas. Just that he preferred to do it his way, in his own time.
He was so going to kill Sam. And Teal'c too. He could have sworn the big guy winked at him on the way out.
"They guys by the pool table are looking over here." Jonas commented.
"Yeah, they're wondering where Carter is."
"They like her?"
"They're scared of her. She always manages to hustle some wet-behind-the-ears kid out of a few bucks. She's a demon pool-player.' Jack said, staring into his whisky. How long, exactly, was Sam expecting him to sit here and play nice?
"Pool hustler, lock picking, motorbike riding, wormhole theory." Jonas murmured.
"What?" Jack asked, looking up from his drink. Was Sam even coming back?
"The things Sam can do. She seems to have an amazing array of skills."
"Did you say lock-picking?" Jack asked, incredulous.
"Sam? Are you sure?"
"Yes. I saw her do it. That town where the all the people were Gou'ald. I can't remember that name of it, but I've got it written down somewhere. Pictures too, if you'd like to see them. I write everything down, it's all so fascinating..."
"I have to make a call." Jack interrupted, and went down the steps to the phone by the men's room. He'd deliberately let his cell phone battery go flat so he'd be uninterrupted this evening, but as it turned out, that was a bad idea.
He pulled out a pile of dimes. He called Sam's cell. That was switched off. He called the base. She wasn't there. He called her house. Machine. He called Daniel's apartment, where Teal'c was now living. Nothing (except the bizarre experience of hearing Teal'c ask him to 'leave a message after the beep').
There was one more number. He called Janet.
"Hello!" Cassie answered.
"Hey, sweetheart. Is Sam there?"
"No." Cassie said.
"I can hear her laughing." Jack said, which was a lie. He could hear Janet laughing, and Teal'c saying something, but it was worth a little lie to get Sam to the phone.
"No, you can't, because she's not here." Cassie insisted.
"Cassie, its wrong to lie..."
"You just lied."
"Cassie, honey, its an emergency."
Cassie thought about it for a moment, then handed the phone over.
"What's the problem, sir?" Sam asked.
"You cannot possibly expect me to sit here alone with Jonas all night."
"Not all night, Sir..."
"Good, because I'm telling you.."
"Just until closing time."
"Sam, I'm warning you..."
"He's not so bad when you get to know him."
"Well, I don't want to get him to know him tonight! Get down here now, and that's an order."
"I can't, sir. I'm in the middle of a critical experiment."
"At Janet's house?" he yelled, loud enough to make the drunk at the bar sit up sharply and fall off his stool, and one of the SF's miss a vital pool shot. They guy looked up, thought about challenging Jack, saw the look on his face, and changed his mind.
"It's a medical experiment." Sam lied calmly.
"On Teal'c?" he asked sarcastically.
"We do need Teal'c's help, yes sir."
Jack looked up at the table, to where Jonas was sitting, watching the pool game intently. Jack sighed.
"All right. Just one night."
"Thank you, Sir."
"Oh, and Sam?"
She was silent for a moment, then innocently asked,
"What about it, sir?"
"Where'd YOU learn how to pick locks?"
"Oh, I just picked it up somewhere." She said ingenuously. And then she put the phone down.
"Great." Jack said to himself, then he went back to his seat.
"You can add lying to Sam's list of accomplishments." He told Jonas.
"She's not coming back, is she." Jonas said, faintly amused.
"No, apparently she has a vital medical experiment."
"Oh." Jonas said, taking a deep breath. This was uncomfortable. Sam had warned him this was going to happen, and while he welcomed the idea of getting to know Ja...the Colonel, he was getting more and more nervous. He knew the Colonel could be a nice guy. He's seen the way he treated Sam and Teal'c. He'd seen the way he'd reacted to the death of his friend, of the lengths he went to to save Daniel's reputation. He wanted the colonel to like him. But still, Jonas had felt a little cold worm of nervousness in his belly all day at the thought of this evening, and it was justified. This was NOT going well.
On the other hand, the colonel hadn't hit him yet.
"I like Sam." Jonas said.
Oh-oh. That was not the right thing to say. Jack's head suddenly shot up, and he glared at Jonas.
"She's nice." Jonas stammered.
"Yeah, lots of people like Sam." Jack said darkly.
"She's clever." Jonas said timidly.
"Way smarter then the rest of us." Jack agreed.
"She has her moments."
"And loyal to her friends."
"I do know Sam. You don't have to tell me how great she is." Jack snapped.
Jack wished he'd shut up about Sam. The minute Jonas had said 'I like Sam', Jack had had a sudden flashback, to five years ago. Daniel, saying 'she's my friend, I care about her', and Jack suddenly exploding in a frenzy of jealousy and possessiveness, beating the crap out of his best friend for expressing an interest...not even a romantic interest.. in HIS Sam.
Of course, he'd been infected with that damn virus. But there had been a tiny part of the real him that was jealous...that was the time it seemed like every woman in the galaxy was falling for Daniel, and he was half expecting Sam to do the same, and it had just begun to occur to him that seeing Sam with Daniel would hurt.
But she hadn't. Daniel had only ever been a friend. To both of them.
God, he missed Daniel. He wished Daniel was here now, sitting in the bar, opposite him, and they could talk about life, and aliens, and hockey, and the Simpsons, and what a jerk Kinsey was, and Sam, and how brilliant she was, without that tiny spark of jealousy that always flared up when anyone else praised her.
"What?" Jack asked tiredly, aware he'd missed something Jonas had said.
"I just said she was pretty."
Ok, that, Jack did not need to hear.
"Haven't you ever noticed?" Jonas asked, naively.
"She's my second-in-command. I don't know about your world, but here, Colonel's do not generally notice the prettiness of their Majors." Jack said, loading the statement with as much sarcasm as he could muster. It usually made grown men wilt. It seemed to have no effect on Jonas.
"Well, she is." Jonas continued, blithely. "I mean, I don't know about here, but on my world, she'd be considered heart-stopping beautiful. I mean, when she smiles...."
"Jonas!" Jack snapped. Maybe Jonas just had some kind of alien defence mechanism against tact and good taste. "You're not supposed to talk about fellow officers like that." He said through gritted teeth.
"She's not my fellow officer. I'm not an officer at all. I'm not even human." Jonas said, as the waitress brought another round of drinks to the table. She raised an eyebrow at Jack.
"He did too much drugs in the sixties." Jack explained. The waitress made a silent 'oh' and walked away. She'd seen so many weird things in the bar in the past five years, she'd given up caring.
"Where's the sixties?" Jonas asked.
Jack downed his beer in one gulp.
"I'm going to make another phone call." He said, and walked off. Jonas watched him go, amused. This was actually quite fun. He'd discovered so much in the past few minutes. He'd found out that Colonel O'Neill was in love with Sam. He'd also discovered that regulations forbade them from doing anything.
"No wonder he's in such a bad mood all the time." Jonas murmured. He felt quite sorry for the Colonel now. It must be awful, working so close with someone you loved, and never being able to say anything.
"Odd he didn't know about the lock-picking." He mused. Still, on the other hand, that suggested that there were layers to Sam the Colonel didn't suspect. Which suggested that things might be more complicated than they seemed at first.
"Sam'll sort it all out." Jonas said to himself, watching the colonel yell down the phone again. He had a feeling that being around when Sam finally 'sorted it all out' would be quite interesting.
"I'm going to murder him." Jack was telling Sam.
"It can't be as bad as all that." She said.
"It is, I'm....are you watching the Simpsons?"
"It's part of the experiment." She said hurriedly.
"I think you can drop the pretence of an experiment." Jack said dryly.
"Yes sir. Sorry, sir."
"No, I applaud your motives, Carter. Just....not tonight, ok?" he sounded tired, and weary, and Sam was suddenly struck with guilt. Maybe it was too soon, after Daniel's death, and the torture. Maybe she was asking too much of him.
"We'll come down now, Sir." She said softly.
"Teal'c and I."
"Good. Thanks." He said. At least Teal'c could keep Jonas occupied while he talked to Sam.
He was silent for a moment, listening to the soft sounds of her breathing, so far away, so close, so untouchable. He so wanted to see her, and the half hour it would take for her to get here suddenly seemed so unbearably long. He would have told her, if he dared, told her he loved her, right now, over the phone, where he wouldn't have to see her face, wouldn't have to hear her answer, just let her know.
"Sir?" she asked.
He thought about telling her Jonas thought she was pretty, then decided that was one can of worms he was leaving well alone.
"Don't take too long, will you?" he said. It was as close as he could come to telling her he needed her.
"We going out the door now, Sir." Then again, maybe she didn't need telling. "Oh, and Sir?"
"I ride motorbikes too."
She put the phone down, and he made his way back to the table, smiling to himself. No matter how long he knew her, Sam was always going to surprise him.
"Sam on her way down?" Jonas asked. Jack looked up at him in surprise. "That is her, you keep calling, isn't it?". Jack nodded. "You know, I do like Sam, but I don't think this is one of her better ideas."
Jack looked at Jonas. Then realisation hit him. Jonas had know what was going on all along.
"It was a good idea." Jack said, more gently than before, the hint of a smile on his lips. "I'm just not up to it."
"Well, you're still suffering from the effects of the sarcophagus." Jonas said. Jack looked away again. He really didn't want to remember that. Maybe if he shoved it to the back of his mind, never thought about it again, never talked about it, then maybe he'd forget how close he came to breaking.
"Besides, I'm guessing you're the kind of man that needs time to get to know people, aren't you? I mean me, I just jump right in there. Decide if I like people straight away, and count them as friends. I mean, I counted Dr. Jackson a friend. But I'm guessing you take a little longer, right?"
Jack actually almost smiled. He'd been disliking Jonas, not for being Jonas, but for not being Daniel. But he should actually know Jonas before disliking him.
"Daniel was the same." Jack said softly.
"How long before he was a friend? Before you trusted and liked him?"
Jack thought about telling him to mind his own business. But he was beginning to like Jonas. Not a great friend yet, mind you, but Jonas wasn't quite the man Jack thought he was. A little less unaware, a little more perceptive.
"He had to die first." Jack said, remembering the sudden twist in his gut when Kowalsky had told him Daniel was dead
"And Teal'c?" Jonas persisted.
"We became friends pretty much the moment he saved my life." Jack said, a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth. Jonas was persistent, he'd give him that. Anyone else, faced with the Jack O'Neill bad mood, would have left long ago.
Sam. When had he first realised he liked Sam? Abydos, drinking the moonshine together? Her glow of wonder at the gate horizon? Her self-assured answers to Kowalsky? Did it come later, or before the first glow of love?
"Game later?" Sam called out, from below, walking past the guys at the pool table. Jack looked up, to see Sam coming up the stairs, Teal'c in tow. She smiled at him, and he stood up to greet her.
"Jonas?" he said softly, before she got to the table. "First time I liked Sam? First time she smiled at me." He said, as she got up, and she began to gently tease him about his lack of patience.
"Yeah, me too." Jonas said, softly, so softly no-one heard.