Title: Breaking Point

Chapter: 1 of 3

Email: She had to break sometime.

Rating: Teens.

Pairing: S/J all the way, baby!

Spoilers: Anything up to Citizen Joe is fair game, but really only anything relating to Pete.

Season: Late Season 8

Content Warnings: Sexual content, mild language.

Archive: SJFic: Yes. Anywhere else: Yes. (See, I'm an archiving slut!)

Author's Note: Please feedback me, I'm greedy.

Thanks to my boyfriend who serves as a Beta for me when I'm too shy to show anyone else. (If there are still crappy bits in here, you know who to blame!)

Disclaimer: I do not own SG-1. Stamps foot childishly. Or Jack. Throws self down onto bed and weeps self-pityingly.

Breaking Point – Chapter One

When I do finally break, it is raining. The part of me that's still whole is able to appreciate the irony of this.

Nevertheless, I do not take my car.

I make the long walk to his house in the pouring rain. Part of me thinks I'm being overly melodramatic and thinks he'll agree.

The rest of me knows he'll understand.

I make it to his house and find I can't remember the journey. I know it happened: I'm wet through, but I don't remember it.

There are lights on inside, and I thank whatever deity that's still listening that he's here. I hadn't checked.

I approach the front door and, knowing it's not locked, I open it.

I can hear men's voices coming from the den.

When the front door clicks shut someone says in an almost bored tone, "Jack, someone just came in your house."

Before he can even stand I have stepped into the den.

There are three other men there with him. They are playing poker.

All four are staring at me as I drip rainwater onto his floor.

I find my voice. "Sorry to interrupt, General, sir. I just wanted to inform you that… I resign."

There is stunned silence for a moment.

Then: "Crap, Carter."

One fluid move takes him from his couch to my side.

His hand goes to the small of my back and he gently propels me towards his kitchen.

He sits me in one of the kitchen chairs and grabs his jacket from where it lies on the countertop.

"Here." He holds it out to me. I make no move to take it. Now I am here I am completely numb and content to let him lead me.

Unfazed, he moves around behind me and lays the jacket over my shoulders. "Don't go anywhere." He orders, turning and heading back into the den.

"Sorry guys. I gotta deal with this."

Hearing this I wonder briefly if he's angry at me for coming here tonight. Then I decide I don't care.

I hear the three men rise. One says: "Excuses, O'Neill. You were just losin'."

"I was not." He replies, mock indignation in his tone.

"Show us your hand, then." Another man challenges.

He says nothing for a moment. Then: "No."

"Hah!" The first man exclaims triumphantly.

"Told you." The second adds.

I hear the front door open. One of the men says, "See you later, Jack."

"Later." He replies.

The second man says, "Same time next week?"

"Same time." He confirms.

The last man hangs back slightly. When the others have driven away in cars I didn't notice, he asks, "Everything okay, Jack?" His tone is quiet and serious.

"It's fine. I'll see you next week, Andy."

"Who is she?" Andy asks.

"A friend."

"And everything's okay?" Andy asks again.

"Not yet." He admits, before adding, "It'll be fine."

"Night, Jack."

"Night."

I hear the front door close. I hear him let out a breath as if preparing himself for what's coming next. I hear him re-enter the kitchen.

I am still huddled in the chair, shivering.

He looks at me for a moment. Then he sighs, repeats, "Crap, Carter." And heads over to the countertop. He begins making hot drinks.

For the first time in years, or maybe for the first time ever, I allow myself to watch him.

As he moves around his kitchen it is obvious he is doing it on auto-pilot. Knowing him so well makes it easy for me to see that his thoughts are racing, even though there are no tangible outward signs.

His lean frame is tense. Long fingers tap nervously on the countertop. He finishes the drinks and brings them over to the kitchen table.

He sets one of the cups down on the table in front of me. "Drink it."

I lift the cup and drink from it, almost burning myself on the hot liquid. It is hot chocolate.

From the scent emanating from his cup I can tell he is drinking coffee.

We drink in silence. I want him to speak, to tell me what is going on in his head, but he says nothing.

I finish my hot chocolate and set the cup down. He follows suit, even though his cup is still half full.

"Come on." He says, turning and exiting the kitchen.

I follow him through the house until we reach the bathroom. He runs the shower and hands me a large towel, along with some sweatpants and a t-shirt. "Here, you're soaked." I take them and he leaves the bathroom, closing the door behind him.

I pause a moment, still holding the towel and clothes. Then I drop them to the floor, undress and climb under the hot water of the shower.

As the water begins to heat me up, my numbness recedes. I begin to wonder what he's up to. Why he hasn't said anything about my resignation.

I finish in the shower and climb out, wrapping myself in the towel. I dry myself off, becoming more and more curious about what he's up to.

I dress myself in the clothes he provided, luckily my underwear is relatively dry and I can put it back on. I gather my soaking wet clothes and the towel I used and head out of the bathroom.

I find him in the den, talking on the phone.

I stop in the doorway and listen.

"I don't know, Daniel, she just turned up… I know the last mission was completely messed up but… it's Carter."

He listens for a minute and I get the impression that Daniel is berating him for being insensitive and expecting too much of me.

"I don't think that… Fine. Fine. Tell Teal'c you're on downtime until-"

I step into the room and he spins, cutting off his sentence. "We'll talk later, Daniel." He finishes, hanging up the phone.

"Until what?" I ask.

He doesn't answer me. Instead he stands and holds his hands out to me. "Gimme those."

I hand over the wet clothes and the towel and follow him into the kitchen. "Until what?" I repeat.

He sighs, dumps the wet things on the kitchen table. "Until I work out what the hell is goin' on with you, Colonel."

"It's Doctor, General, I resigned, remember?"

His hands come up to scrub over his face in his usual frustrated gesture. "I'm not accepting your resignation, Carter."

"I see." I turn and walk back into the den. He follows me. I pick up his phone and begin to dial.

"Who you callin'?" He asks.

"General Hammond."

"Why?"

"To resign."

He walks over and takes the phone from my hand. He hits the 'end' button and tosses the phone on the couch.

"Why?"

"Because you won't accept my resignation." I answer, knowing that's not what he wanted to know.

"Carter."

Without the numbness the rain provided my brokenness is raw and exposed, as is my voice when I say, "Because I can't do this anymore, Jack."

He tenses at my use of his first name. Not General. Not sir. Jack.

When he doesn't speak I tell him, "I broke up with Pete."

"Why?"

"He couldn't understand. He got mad because I couldn't tell him everything."

"He's just worried about you. He'll come around."

I shake my head.

"So that's why you're resigning? 'Cause your fiancé doesn't like your job? C'mon Carter."

"It's not just that it's… the mission…"

He cuts me off. "I don't buy that, Carter. You've had tough missions before."

I recall the mission.

SG-1 and SG-9, accompanied by one General Jack O'Neill had gated to a planet that was supposed to be peaceful. We were there for some special ceremony celebrating our new status as allies.

We were under fire almost from the moment we got there.

All hell had broken loose. I could just about manage to keep Daniel and Teal'c in my peripheral vision as we retreated to the gate.

Out of the eight of us that had left the SGC, only five came back. Three members of SG-9 were dead.

A staff blast had just missed Teal'c, and his arm was burned.

I had lost three people in one fell swoop.

But the thing that bothered me most was the fact that, as we were running back to the gate I lost sight of the General.

I radioed him, "Sir?"

When there was no answer I tried again. "General, do you read?"

I was desperately trying to prevent myself from going back to look for him, trying to keep running for the gate, when I head, "Carter, I'm fine. Get to the damn gate and keep it open, will ya?"

His voice sounded strained, but I did as I was told, like a good little soldier and ran on through the event horizon after Daniel and the one remaining member of sg-9. Teal'c followed us through.

He didn't come though the wormhole until a two full minutes after Teal'c had already walked down the ramp. We had been broadcasting a constant radio signal to keep it open for him.

"Lock it up!" He yelled at the gate technician on duty, who complied.

I suddenly realised that I was almost hyperventilating. What if's racing though my mind.

What if he hadn't come through?

What if he'd died?

What if I'd lost him?

It was then that he decided that he should pass out from blood loss.

As he hit the ramp I numbly observed the blade sticking out of his shoulder. I took in the large red patch spreading over his uniform and I cursed the fact that we are not in the habit of wearing flak vests to dinner with our allies.

I was dimly aware of Daniel yelling for a medic, as I stared in horror at the prone body of my CO.

But he is right; we have had missions go wrong before. And he is fine. He is alive.

But that's not the point.

I suddenly realise that even though I have managed to get here, I'm still going to find it hard to talk to him.

"Carter?" He prompts, and I realise I've been silent too long.

"The mission wasn't the only reason I broke up with Pete." I say, avoiding having to voice the reason I am here. The reason I resigned.

He sighs and sinks down onto the couch. "Sit."

I sit next to him, careful to move the phone out of the way first.

"You know," he begins, his tone conversational, "I'm not really good at this stuff."

"What stuff?" I ask, glad of the distraction.

He shrugs. "All this," he gestures as if to encompass everything, "talking stuff. Maybe you should talk to Daniel." He concludes.

"I can't." I tell him.

He looks at me, confused. "Why not?"

"I need to talk to you."

He looks puzzled for a moment, then says, "Oh."

I've finally managed to pluck up the courage to say what I came here to say. Part of me wishes I'd just blurted it out when I got here. It occurs to me that maybe he knew what I was going to say, and delayed me to give me time to think myself out of it.

"When I got home tonight Pete was already there. He wanted to know why I was late. I couldn't tell him. He wanted to know what was wrong with me. I couldn't tell him."

"We gave Pete security clearance, you could have told him." He points out.

"No, I couldn't." I reply. "I couldn't tell him because he wouldn't understand. I broke it off with him because…" I pause, the last eight years holding my tongue.

"Because…" he makes a 'continue' gesture. I look at him, but his face is difficult to read at the best of times.

"Because he's not you. And I was stupid to think that I could move on from something I've never had." I say it quickly, before either of us can stop me.

For a full minute he just looks at me. Then he scrubs his hand through his hair and says, again, "Crap, Carter."

"I don't expect anything from you," I hasten to add, "I just… can't do this anymore."

"So you walk to my house in the rain and resign?" He asks.

I jerk my head up, he sounds amused.

"I didn't plan for it to be raining." I tell him, my eyes narrowing at his tone.

He actually smirks at me now. "Oh, so you planned this?"

"No." I insist, indignant at his amusement.

"Carter." He says, drawing my name out.

"I didn't."

He nods, "Yeah, this isn't smart enough to be a Carter plan." I glare at him. But he's been glared at by four-star generals and Goa'uld's, and a mere Doctor of Astrophysics does not scare him. He sighs. "Carter, I'm not gonna accept your resignation."

I sigh and lean forward to pick up the phone. "Then I guess I'd better call General Hammond." I tell him, beginning to dial.

"Oh yeah?" He says, still smirking. "And what're you gonna tell him?"

"That I want to resign and take a scientific post. I can stay on SG-1-"

"But you can't command."

"No. But I can stay on the team as a civilian."

"What are you gonna say about why you're resigning?"

"The truth. I need to get a life." The operator answers. "General Hammond, please. It's Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter, out of Cheyenne Mountain. Yes I'll hold."

"You'll be on hold for hours." He warns.

"I've waited eight years. Hours don't make that much of a difference."

"It's the middle of the night."

"They'll put me through to wherever he is."

"What do you want from me?" He asks.

"I told you, I don't expect anything."

"What do you want?" He asks.

I look at him a long moment. The awful music from General Hammond's call-waiting droning in my ear. "I want this." I gesture between us. "I want to be happy."

"And you think I'll make you happy?" His tone is disbelieving, incredulous. "C'mon, Carter, you're supposed to be a genius."

"If you don't want the same thing, its okay, Jack. But I can't continue to live like this. I can't keep watching you die and know that I never tried."

"I didn't die!" He says indignantly, and I get the sense that he is clutching at straws.

"I need to change something." I say.

"It's not that I don't… God, Carter, you're not making this easy. I don't want you to give up your career for me. You've worked too hard to get where you are." He pauses, "I will always be here for you."

Hearing the exact same words come out of his mouth as I heard in my hallucination freaks me out slightly. "No." I say quietly.

"No?" He asks.

"I'm tired of watching life go by while I'm busy working. I love my job, but… I can still do my job whether I'm Colonel Carter or not. But the only way I can be with you is if I'm not."

"You're not makin' much sense here, Carter." He says.

"Sorry." There is a click on the phone line. I open my mouth to speak, but it's just the tape restarting.

But he sees I'm about to speak and says, "Don't do this now. Sleep on it."

"No."

"Sam, I couldn't stand to have you hate me, 'cause you gave up too much to be with me." He says quietly.

I look at him, meeting his eyes. "Never gonna happen." I tell him, sounding like him as I do it.

"It might."

"I need you." I tell him, and as the reason for my brokenness comes out, I begin to cry. Cursing myself I hurriedly swipe at the rogue tears.

He gently takes the phone from my hand and presses the 'end' button.

"Jack, please."

"Sleep on it." He orders softly.

"Here?" I ask, looking down at my hands, unable to meet his eyes.

"No." He says.

As I begin to feel awful again he takes my hand and pulls me to my feet. He leads me through his house to his bedroom. "Here." He says.

I sit down on the edge of the bed. Only the light spilling in from the hallway is illuminating the bedroom.

"What about you?" I ask.

"I'll take the couch."

I look him up and down and call to mind a picture of his couch. "You're too tall."

"Carter, I've slept on my couch before."

"Stay." I say.

"I don't think it's a good idea."

"I don't care." I tell him. I don't want it to seem like I'm begging, but I need him to stay.

He stands in the doorway for a long moment, watching me.

He nods almost imperceptibly. I pull off the sweatpants, lift the coverlet and slide underneath it.

He pushes the bedroom door shut and walks around to the other side of the bed.

I lie on my back and watch him. He slides his jeans off and climbs into the bed, careful to stay away from me.

We lay there in silence for a while, though neither of us is ready to sleep.

In the darkness I start counting.

One

Two

Three

Fo-

"You okay?" He asks.

I smile, knowing he can't see it. "Yes."

"Night, Carter."

"Night, Jack."

10