Title: On Forgetting
Author: A.j. (Aj2245@yahoo.com)
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Er... I've seen up to the middle of season 6, so to be safe, let's go
with that. General knowledge of the show, but nothing specific.
Archiving: Want? Take. It'll be up at http://www.the-family-
archives.com/thepeachtree/ eventually. FF.Net too.
Deds: To Amanda who told me she liked this. It's done! Yay!
Warning: Poetic!Jack. Who'da thought?
Notes: *holds nose and looks off the diving board* Well, here we go... Hey,
look! Jack stopped kicking my ass with this story!

***

On Forgetting
by A.j.

***

Most of the time, he only remembers to love her in the briefings.

It's here, at this table, watching her animatedly explain some odd bit of
scientific reasoning that he can watch her and let the warm little bundle that
rests just below his clavicle expand. It isn't a new feeling. Or even a
surprising one. Bells and whistles don't go off in his mind - at least more
than usual - and he doesn't suddenly feel his heart start beating faster. No,
his mind just eases that little tiny bit. And it's harder not to smile.

It took him a long time to realize just what that meant.

It means that he loves Samantha Carter.

That's why he only remembers here. Because it's her, and if anything -
*anything* - were different, he wouldn't be sitting here trying not to laugh.
Laughing wouldn't help the situation. No, it definitely wouldn't.

One day, he'll probably be able to admit why it's only here that he can look at
her and let himself go long enough to hold... this. Whatever it is.

Because there's something in between them that, no matter how much it's starved
or wilted, just refuses to disappear. Even with death, and pain, and every type
of distance, it stays calmly put. Solid. Immobile.

Nothing romantic may ever come of it. He knows this, even as he tries not to
notice how the fluorescent lighting really does amazing things to her hair. He
knows this, probably better than she. They're different people with amazingly
separate ideas on life and the way it should - or shouldn't - be lived.

He's had to make something like that work for a long period of time. She hasn't.
And truth be told, Sara would probably be the first to point out how well he did
with that little venture.

But this little knot of something - the thing that is usually so incredibly easy
to ignore - won't let go.

That's fine, most of the time. The problem is, for as much as he can ignore it
- and does - there are times when he wants it to be different. When he wants
something more than to be her friend. Because in those dark lonely times, or
even in the bright happy ones, the need to touch her is almost physical. The
warm little bundle can tighten and burn. Thankfully, those times are few and
far between. Extremes are hard on the soul, and pushing something too far will
break it. No question.

So he's thankful that even here - in the unnatural light cast by the overhead
lights and the star chart that directs their lives - when he allows himself to
examine these pieces, his heart does not quicken. In this dangerous place under
ever-watchful eyes, it is safe to watch her move and live and nod.

Because it's quiet and they aren't running, or arguing or dying or laughing.
They're just there, and he can watch her and just remember. A thousand things
and thoughts that he doesn't think about because he can't. Partly, because he
won't let himself. He knows that if he sits at home and thinks of her - really
*thinks* of her - it will be too easy to pick up the phone, or start his truck
and be somewhere he shouldn't. It would be that easy. But partly, it's because
he really doesn't think of her.

As much as he'd like them to be accurate, he knows that books and movies lie.
It's a kind sort of thing, and it took him a very, very long time to realize it.
A person's mind can't always be focused on one thing. There is too much to look
at, and think about, and *do* to have your every waking moment revolve around
one thing. And as interesting a person as Sam Carter is, Jack can't think of
her all the time. Because as blue as her eyes are, there's always laundry to be
done and newspapers to read.

That's just the way of things.

He's happy for that. Because if he had to think of her all the time, if he had
to live with her in his mind's eye, they wouldn't be what they are. She
wouldn't be his friend. She would be his lover, and his woman - as archaic as
it sounds. And as much as movies and books say that men and women can be
friends and lovers, they lie. Books and movies are very reliable in that way.

He loves being her friend. As her friend, she shows him things, parts of
herself, that he might never have been able to touch if they'd been just lovers.
He can't imagine that fate. Watching her work and fight and become her current
self is something he cherishes beyond almost everything else. And to have
missed it over something as inconsequential as physical gratification?

That doesn't mean he can't miss it. The other part. The intimacy of being with
her.

Sometimes, when he's at home, or just quiet, he'll turn around to ask a
question. She's not there, of course. She's never there unless she's needed,
and he thinks that's fitting. But in that moment just before he remembers other
things, he remembers her. And the warm feeling that
comes from *not* missing her fills his head and heart.

Because when he remembers that he loves her, he knows that he's better
for it.

But what he loves her for the most, is that she makes it so easy to forget how
much he's missing. She smiles and laughs and throws mud balls and explains
things fifteen times (with diagrams) without being asked or pushed or even
maintained. She, and this thing, can be put aside when they're not needed, and
as cold-blooded as that seems, it's not. It's just the way it has to be. And
for her sake, he hopes he's just as easy to forget.

Because here under the lights, sitting at this table, he can see the remembrance
in her too. He's not alone in this briefing room. Not with this feeling.

Someday, maybe he'll be allowed to look at her and really smile. He'll be able
to let his eyes wander, and call her Sam across the back of a large and sunlit
yard. Someday, he'll be able to take her fishing. Or maybe brush the mud out of
her hair like he always wants to.

Someday sounds like a really nice place, but it's not now. Now, there are just
the moments, and the respect, and the friendship. And the briefings.

And right now, it's more than enough.