For Trish. Thanks for the inspiration
High School Reunion
"So what's his name?" Jack tugged on his collar and then ran a hand through his wayward locks as he stared disapprovingly in the mirror.
"What guy?" Sam continued to add a few touches of make-up before glancing at his reflection in the mirror. He was smiling that little teasing know-it-all smile of his as he watched her.
"What? You're playing dumb now? The guy. The guy you're going back to see after so many years."
"There's no guy, Jack."
"Really. I just thought it'd be fun to go back and see a few old friends after all these years. Find out what everyone's been up to." She laid her compact on the counter and turned towards him, slipping her arms around his waist as he turned to her. "Maybe…show you off a little."
"Yeah? Show me off because…I'm such a great catch and you want to impress your friends?"
She crinkled her nose as she stared into his warm, tender eyes. "Something like that." She leaned in and placed a soft, sweet kiss on his waiting lips and pulled back still watching him.
"Come on, Sam. What's his name? Jimmy, Dave, Robert? Or was it Edward? David maybe? Some handsome egg-headed geek that you were head over heels in love with?"
She was laughing aloud now as he followed her into the bedroom and sprawled across the bed while she pulled a dress from the wardrobe. She giggled again and shook her head. "No, Jack. Sorry to disappoint you."
"A young beautiful thing like you and no boyfriends? I'm not buying that, Carter. Come on, give."
"Jack, I swear I'm going to zat you if you don't knock it off. Let me finish getting ready, ok?"
"Hey, I'm not stopping you. Could though…with the slightest encouragement." He grinned boyishly up at her as he slid one hand along her thigh.
"Behave yourself, General." She quipped, still smiling as she slipped into her dress. "Make yourself useful, zip me."
Jack stood behind her and slid the zipper home and then with both hands on her shoulders placed a gentle kiss on her neck. "Michael?" He questioned softly against her neck. Her hand came up to squeeze his for a moment and she smiled again at his curiosity, spinning out of his grasp to face him.
"Oh, yeah, very good. Scrumptious, in fact."
"Get dressed, Jack."
His brow furrowed as he looked down at his shirt and dress slacks. "Excuse me?"
She turned and pressed her lips together in confusion, pointing one finger at him animatedly. "Oh? I thought you were wearing your…"
"No, Sam. This is your shindig. I'd thought I'd be just plain old vanilla Jack O'Neill."
"Oh. Well, you can never be that." He noticed just a hint of disappointment in her voice.
"Did you want me to?"
"No, no. You look great! You're just as dangerous and handsome out of uniform, but I have to admit…I do like it."
"Well, I'll put it on for you later, ok?" A devilish gleam sparkled in his eyes as he wrapped his arms around her. "Sam, you don't need me to impress these guys. You can handle that just fine on your own. Tonight I'm just your escort, 2nd seat, you might say. Nice job, too, by the way." He kissed her lightly, barely touching her lips with his. "Let's go. I want to show you off, too."
Jack stopped just outside the door and offered Sam his arm. She studied him a moment, then took a deep breath and blew it out in a short huff. Jack looked at her with surprise. "Something wrong?"
He lowered his voice and leaned in till he was almost touching her. "Remember when you blew up that sun?" She shook her head. "Well, you made that same little noise. Nervous?"
"How can you remember things like that, Jack?"
"Mind like a steel trap?" He quipped. "I remember you, Sam."
She smiled slightly and took his arm. "Are we early?"
"Nope. Fashionably late. Ready to make your entrance?"
"You did say these folks were you're friends, right?"
"Some of them. Just don't go too far away, ok?"
"Deal. I want to meet what's his name, remember?"
"You really are incorrigible, Jack."
"But you love me anyway."
She crinkled up her nose and smiled. "Yes, I do." He smiled back at her broadly and swung open the door, leading her inside.
Sam's eyes swept the room hurriedly. There was some soft music playing and a low chattering filled the room. Round tables filled most of the expanse in front of them with one area remaining clear for dancing. An extensive bar ran along the far side of the room and Sam was scanning the faces of the people gathered there. She felt Jack straighten a bit, squaring his shoulders, just the way he did in formal meetings and smiled up at him. He, too, was surveying the room, taking in all the sights and sounds around him.
"Let's register first."
"We have to register?"
"Jack, haven't you ever been to one of these things?"
"Can't say that I have."
"Well, over there. See that lady frantically waving at us?"
"Ah, yes." They walked across to the table where the anxious lady was waiting to greet them.
"Hi! I'm Kathy Wilson."
"Hello, Kathy. Samantha Carter and this is Jack O'Neill."
"Well, of course! Sam, how are you?"
"We're great, Kathy. And you?"
"Terrific. Glad you could make it! Would you mind filling out your nametags, Sam? We'll be serving dinner in about an hour. Until then there's a bar if you're interested and dancing of course. There's also an area on the far side of the room with pictures and memorabilia. Be sure and stop by there!"
Sam started writing out their names while Jack talked with Kathy. Then she added their names to the register of attendees. Jack had turned on the charm and the woman was almost gushing as Sam handed him the nametag and tilted her head slightly. He returned an innocent boyish grin.
"Pick any table and enjoy!" Then she flittered off to greet the next group of newcomers.
Sam reached for his hand as she continued to survey the room. "Let's dance, Jack."
They were alone on the dance floor as the music played softly around them. Jack held her close and smiled into her eyes as he led her gracefully around the floor. Other couples gradually joined them until the floor was almost crowded and Jack broke his continuous gaze to steer clear of other couples.
"They're watching us, Jack."
"Not us, Sam. You. You're the most beautiful woman in the room. Can't say that I blame them."
"Yeah? Well, it's damned unnerving."
"Of course, once they hear a bit of your more colorful language…" She laughed aloud.
"Let's go. I want to see that memorabilia!" Sam rolled her eyes dramatically but followed him willingly.
They spent a few minutes studying the pictures and Sam laughed heartily as Jack insisted she was just as beautiful then as now. "You're turning into an old softie, General." She whispered.
"Well, don't spread it around, Colonel. It'll ruin my reputation."
Suddenly a woman came scurrying toward them, almost screeching Sam's name. Obviously, one of her old friends excited to see her. Jack stood calmly by while they exchanged a few words and then lightly touched Sam's arm.
"I think I'll have a beer. Want something?"
"Be right back." Sam smiled and returned her attention to her friend who promptly led her off to another group across the room. When Jack turned around to look for her she was gone but he quickly located her across the room and sat down on a stool to drink his beer.
"Thomas! What are you doing here?"
"I might ask the same of you, Jack."
"Oh, well, I'm here with Samantha Carter. You went to school with her?"
"Funny. She never mentioned that."
"She probably doesn't know me, Jack. We didn't run in the same circles if you know what I mean. I probably wouldn't even recognize her now."
"So what are you doing these days? Still in the military?"
"No. Politics. I'm a congressman for the great state of California."
Jack shook his head, laughing quietly. "I never would have expected that, Tom."
"Hmph! Me either, Jack. Things change. I love it though. It gives me a chance to do some good for a change."
"Yes. They definitely do. I'll bet you're good at it."
"What about you, Jack? Still in the military?"
"Yeah, still there."
"Where are you stationed?"
Jack looked around him to see who was close to them, mostly out of habit but also because he wanted to keep a low profile. "Washington. The Pentagon."
Thomas almost choked on his drink and Jack looked at him a bit surprised, but smiling slightly. "My God! Homeworld Security? You're that General O'Neill?"
"Guilty. Just don't spread it around, ok?"
"Saw your name come across my desk. They advise us, you know, whenever a position changes. I just never realized it was you!"
"Yeah, well." He shrugged and lifted his beer to his lips, his eyes following Sam as she moved around the room.
"You should join us at our table, Jack. We could do some catching up."
"Thanks, Tom, but I think Sam has plans already. Maybe we can get together before we leave town though."
"Uh, I'm gonna take Sam her wine. Talk to you later, Tom." 'Damn!' he thought as he moved across the room. What were the chances he'd run into someone he knew here?'
Sam had found several old friends and was talking animatedly with them when he arrived at her side. They went through all the introductions and then found a table for dinner.
There were a few speeches after dinner. Most of which Jack didn't really get, it was sort of inside stuff for those who'd gone to school there, but he sat patiently beside Sam as it all unfolded. They read a list of successful graduates and had each one stand. It was an impressive list, which of course included Sam and Thomas, and Jack beamed with pride as Sam stood to be recognized.
Shortly after the dinner and speeches, Jack moved back to the bar while Sam mingled among her old friends. She was totally relaxed now and seemed to be having a good time. He watched her and smiled when she looked up to catch his eye from across the room.
She was watching him, too and she didn't fail to notice the almost steady stream of females stopping to chat. She smiled as she watched him dole out the charm and socialize, small pangs of jealousy spiking through her chest on one or two occasions. But she failed to notice when a man took up residence on the stool next to his and engaged Jack in conversation.
They chatted amicably for a little while and the man, who'd introduced himself as Brian turned the conversation toward the women in the room. "Yeah, Jack, lots of potential here tonight!" He laughed.
"Yeah! You know, divorcees. Some still single but lonely, they're just ripe for the picking!"
Jack didn't respond. He just trained an intense stare on his new companion, who didn't seem to notice that Jack was almost snarling at him. There was something about this guy he just didn't like and the more he talked, the less Jack liked him.
"Got a few lined up for later and still got a few I want to try and line up!" He laughed again drunkenly.
"See that one over there. Man, she's something. She looks like she's in good shape! Bet she's one hell of a lay!"
Jack followed his eyes and then looked back at the man beside him. "Yes, sir! Think I'll just trot over there and try to get some of her affection. Un umm."
"Let me make sure I'm clear here." Jack spoke up quietly. "You're talking about that blonde across the room? Tall, black dress?"
"Yeah, that's the one. Tight assed, blue-eyed blond!"
Jack sat his beer on the bar and turned back to the man slowly. An intimidating smile spread slowly across his face as he restrained his dangerous temper.
"Brian, maybe it's time you had some coffee and leave the ladies alone."
"You're kidding me, right! I'm just getting started."
"Well, start somewhere else then because that blonde your staring at is my wife and if I catch you even saying hello to her…well, let's just say it's not a good idea." Jack turned back to glance at Sam and she was watching, eyes locked on him as if she knew something was wrong.
"My wife. So have some coffee and learn some manners while you're at it." Jack stood and started to walk away, then turned back to Brian. "Don't forget. Steer clear, Brian, I'll be watching." Then he turned back to Sam, whose gaze had turned into focused concern, so he smiled broadly at her as he crossed the room and watched as the concern faded away.
An hour or so later, Jack met the guy he'd been so curious about, Nathan Palmer, quarterback of the football team. Sam didn't say he was the one, but he saw it her eyes, the brief spark of an old flame revisited. She was almost flirting with him and Jack was paying very close attention. He probably wouldn't admit it, but he was also very relieved when Sam looked back at him and he saw that spark brighten and flare, burning into his soul. So relieved, in fact that he kissed her, something that he never did in public.
Nathan turned out to be a nice guy and despite himself, Jack liked him. So when he asked Sam to dance, Jack nodded slightly and allowed him to lead her away. He remained with her friends, joining in their casual conversation and keeping aneye on Sam. When the music ended, Nathan came back to their group to rejoin his wife and Sam excused herself to the ladies room.
He watched her cross the floor, dodging in and out, stopping to say hello here and there until finally, she disappeared inside the door. Jack glanced around the room and a bit of movement caught his eye. He saw Brian moving in the same general direction and quickly sat his glass on the table behind him. Incredibly, the man looked over his shoulder suspiciously and then ducked into the ladies room.
"Excuse me." Jack uttered politely and moved quickly across the floor, wasting no effort he was there in only a few seconds and without hesitation, pushed the door open and slipped inside.
Jack heard her voice as soon as he opened the door. "Brian, what the hell do you think you're doing? Get out! Now!"
Before Brian could reply, Jack rounded the corner and took a quick assessment. Sam was standing by the mirrors; she looked poised and ready to fight, while several other women were standing behind her towards the back of the room. Brian stood with his back to the door, directly in front of Sam. He never heard Jack coming, only Sam's sudden change of focus gave him away, but it was too late. Jack grabbed one arm and pinned it behind his back, holding the other against his side.
"It's ok, Sam. I got this."
He smiled at her, but never stopped moving. "Sorry for the interruption, ladies! Brian was just on his way out." He spun the man around and shoved him roughly toward the door. They were through it and moving along the side of the room before Sam made it to the door.
She watched as Jack moved Brian toward the entrance of the room. Stopping when he reached it, Jack lifted a hand to straighten Brian's shirt and then patted him solidly on his chest. She saw Jack's eyes change from across the room and watched Brian stiffen as he leaned in and whispered something close to his ear. Then he released him and Brian scurried out the door. Jack stood motionless for a moment, his hands opening and clenching slowly until he turned back towards Sam.
Her eyes were wide as she watched him moving purposely towards her. He was smiling with no hint of anger coloring his movements as he came to a stop in front of her.
"Yes, Jack. What did you say to him?"
He cocked his head and gave her that patented innocent look that she'd seen a million times before. "Nothing. I just explained his error to him."
She cocked her head in disbelief, staring into his calm eyes. "I bet you did. I could've handled it you know."
"I know. Didn't want you to muss your dress. I hope I didn't disrupt your party."
"I don't think anyone even noticed, except the ladies in the bathroom. They were a bit startled but that wasn't your fault."
"Good. So, want to dance?"
"You bet!" He grinned and led her onto the dance floor.
They were just calling last dance of the evening as he pulled her close and they began moving in harmony to the music. She relaxed against his shoulder and let her hand rest softly against his neck. She felt him press his lips to her hair and looked up into his warm, smiling eyes.
"So, Nathan, huh? I never would've guessed Nathan!"
Her mouth fell open as she looked at him, wondering how he'd guessed. Then she giggled and leaned her head into his chest. "I love you, Jack."
"I love you, too, Sam."