Pairing: Sam/Pete, Sam/Jack. Warning: Character death. Archiving: Yes. Whoever wants it. Notes: Um... Christi told me I should write this. Pete dying and Jack comforting Sam. It went places I wasn't expecting. The title is inspired by Sneaker Pimps' Velvet Divorce (actually, the fic itself is, sorta), and Hooverphonic's 'Eden' (which you can all blame Jara for).
Lost in Eden by ALC Punk!
She is groggy when she opens the door. It's five in the morning, and she went to bed at two (too much time spent working on new naquadah reactor modifications, even if the general told her to stop taking work home). She squints into the porch light at the two police officers standing there.
"Samantha Carter?" The one on the left is shifting, looking uncomfortable. He doesn't want to be here.
The one on the right is simply resigned. He has been here a hundred other times before, "We're here to give you some bad news, ma'am."
"What?" Her brain is still mired in equations. Energy versus mass versus light and shade, and she doesn't want this spinning out of control, and her knuckles are NOT white on the door frame.
"Detective Pete Shanahan was killed in the line of duty last night, ma'am."
She knows he's still talking. Saying that Pete had left her as his next of kin, that she was registered as his dependent. But she's stopped listening. Her knuckles are white. Energy versus decay, rates and means -- only temperatures in Kelvin, mind.
"You need to sit down, ma'am." He's been here a hundred times before, hand under her elbow, guiding her to the couch. In the dawn light, she wonders what she looks like.
"I need to make a phone call."
Daniel doesn't take his time getting there, his shirt is on backwards and he forgot his socks. "Sam?"
The two officers stand awkwardly in her living room, watching her, as if afraid she'll blame them or break apart into a hundred thousand pieces.
"Oh, god." He scrubs a hand over his face and looks at the officers, "Was there anything else?"
"No." Relief from the younger one. He still doesn't know how to deal with this. "Not yet, at least. There will be the usual. An autopsy, then we'll release the body to his next of kin, and --"
Daniel interrupts him, "Is there a number we can call for this information?"
"Yeah." The jaded one hands Daniel a card, "Take care, ma'am."
"Thank you." Her knuckles are still white.
The funeral is on a sunny day, and Sam notices the older couple standing on the other side, and wonders if she would have met them had he lived. She isn't thinking about the future anymore.
Her mind turns to equations, and she ponders the problem with the replicator pulse arrays. There is still a cipher to overcome, to figure out so they can again destroy molecular cohesion between replicator blocks. It's something to think about while the sun beats down and the priest drones on and Daniel stands next to her, shoulder not quite touching as if he wants to hold her but knows it's pointless.
She hasn't cried yet, and she's beginning to suspect she won't.
The light blocked by the general's appearance irritates her, but she looks up and acknowledges him anyway. After all, it's her job. "General."
"What the hell are you doing here?" His hands are in his pockets, but his face is closed.
"I'm working on the algorithm, sir."
"You were told to take leave."
She shrugs and looks back at the microscope. "I didn't feel the need to, sir."
"What the hell do you want from me, sir?" She's suddenly angry. At him, at herself. She's been angry for weeks, she thinks.
"I want you to go home and grieve, Carter. I want you to have some god-damn emotions!" His hand hits the edge of the bench, the sound loud in the suddenly silent room.
She's breathing hard. Her knuckles are white. "Grieve for what? A broken engagement? A dead man I'm not sure I really knew?"
"He was your fiancé, Carter. You were gonna marry him. How the hell do you not know him?"
"Because I didn't want to." The words leave her mouth unbidden, and she wants them back. Wants to hide from the vulnerability suddenly ripping through her. This is not what she has ever wanted. She stood at the grave side with Daniel, and she felt nothing for the death of the man she was to marry. And it's wrong, it's so very wrong.
"What?" He seems startled.
"I'm supposed to feel, sir. Supposed to be sad, angry, full of grief. I'm only angry, sir."
"Myself." She looks down at the white knuckles of her hand. "Because I never really made the effort, sir. I never really loved him."
Five weeks after seeing her fiancé buried, Sam Carter sits in general O'Neill's office and looks at him across his desk.
"You can't be serious."
"Why not? Let's look at things, shall we? Fifty percent of the decisions I have made have caused irreparable harm. My latest, letting my replicator double dupe me was simply the icing on the cake."
"It's my decision, sir. As of this morning, I resign my commission." She's standing, suddenly.
"It was an honor working with you, sir. And if the SGC feels a need for my services, you know where to find me." Out the door before he can say anything more, into the hallway, her steps sure.
"No." Hands catch at her, and he spins her. "You're not leaving like this."
"Because I said so."
She laughs, the sound breaking out, hitting the walls with an ugly force. "What gives you the right to dictate ANYthing in my life?"
"I'm your commanding officer."
Impasse. He steps back.
The president of the United States of America makes house calls.
"You can't leave."
"Watch me. Sir." Belated politesse, because he is the leader of this country, and he probably can do things to fuck her six ways to Sunday.
"You don't understand, colonel, I can't let you leave."
There's silence for a time, then she raises her head. "I want Jack O'Neill."
Silence again, then he nods, "You've got it, colonel. Just don't be blatant or stupid."
"You need me." She points, scared at her own temerity, "I'll be as blatant as I fucking want."
"But the stupidity?"
"I plan to leave it at home."
She closes the door carefully, locks it. When she looks back, he's still staring at her, almost baffled.
"I made a demand. Jack."
This is only about sex, she thinks as she stalks him, eyes roving hungrily over every inch she has trained herself for so long to not notice, to not see. Now she can see it and admire it. He looks tired.
"Carter, what demand?"
"I lied. Oh, God, Jack. I lied so often. To you, to me, to Pete." She suddenly knows it can't be about sex yet. She has to get this out. "I lied so often I started to believe it was the truth. I locked everything in a god-damned room, and assumed it would stay there. That it would go away. That I would stop feeling 'feelings' for you."
His breathing has stopped. Or maybe he's so stunned, his lungs have stopped working.
"It hasn't gone away."
There. It is out in the open, breaking into pieces on the floor at her feet as he continues to stare at her without comprehension.
"Did I make the wrong choice, Jack? Should I have told you the truth four years ago?" She leans forwards, hands on the desk. "Leaving it in the room is one of the things I have always regretted. But I can't take it back anymore than I can bring Janet back to life."
"We -- don't talk."
"Not about this?" She laughs, the sound hollow. "No, I suppose we don't. Shall we just skip to the sex, then? Or would you prefer me to leave and never bring this up again? I'd like to know, because I should probably work on getting my life back together."
"Sex is good."
It's not about emotions, she thinks, huddled in his arms in the suite he's commandeered for his overnight stays.
But there are times when Jack O'Neill's skin is next to hers that she almost feels connected to her own humanity. Re-learning to be a human being isn't as easy as she's thought it would be. But she's getting it. In bits and pieces. When he slides a finger down her side absently, when she wakes with his hand curled over her hip.
Four years of bottling it up in the room have made stagnation.
They work at chipping the concrete away.
Sometimes she thinks it will never be any better than this. And sometimes she knows he is hers, and claims him with mouth and hands and tongue.
The first time he returns the favor, she finally admits this could be reality.