Chapter reworked a little!
This story is dedicated to the GateWorld S/J Shippers, and the Intelites of the (sadly now defunct) Stargate Intel Forum!
Chapter One - Christmas Eve
"C'mon…it must be around here somewhere." Sam muttered to herself as her hire car chugged painstakingly slowly up the snow-covered dirt road of the mountain.
Why was she doing this? She asked herself. Of course she knew the answer. General O'Neill was up here on his own.
Boy had he made that clear. He'd been phoning both Cassie and Sam constantly, moaning about being bored out of his mind. Sam had felt sorry for him, and had cancelled Christmas with Mark, Alice, Cassie and the kids in order to pay him a surprise visit.
Now she was beginning to regret it. Her car was having difficulty in the thick Minnesotan snow, and she had no idea how far she had to go. Good thing it was still early in the day, looking up to the tops of the trees and to the bright but snowy sky.
Sam felt the tires skid on the road and pushed the pedal in order to keep her momentum going. The car whined in protest, but it eventually did as she'd asked, edging on up the steep incline.
Why couldn't Jack have bought a cabin at the bottom of the mountain? Why on earth did he buy one quarter of the way up!
"Because he's Jack O'Neill…that's why…buying a cabin on the flat would be too simple…wouldn't it."
Sam realised with horror that she was talking to herself. And in her momentary lapse, took pressure off of the accelerator. The car stopped.
And it didn't start again.
Sam leaned back in the seat, thinking that the vehicle had stalled, and after a moment tried again.
Sam hunched her shoulders incredulously, before flinging her weight forward onto the steering wheel, groaning, "For crying out loud!"
Jack rubbed his hands together before pulling his hat down to cover his ears, now blue with cold. He glared at his little lake, frozen over entirely, and growled as the golden glint of his one solitary fish was glimpsed, swimming happily under the ice.
"Just you want 'til spring." He made the fish an ultimatum.
Jack had opted for a quiet Christmas. Alone. No Pentagon officials like last year (talk about DULL!), no SG1, no family, no nobody. And that was what he wanted. But he'd realised that if he'd went into his little recluse willingly, that his friends would think something was wrong, so he'd resorted to moaning down the phone to Cassie and Sam…and Daniel and Teal'c…and even Walter on one occasion.
The trick had worked. He hadn't received one phone call, and he'd had no unexpected visitors.
If only that darn fish was on top of the ice!
Jack crouched down on the little jetty at the side of the pond, and leaned carefully forward, prodding at the ice with a stick.
"Oy…I'll never catch this fish."
As if listening, the fish once again skimmed the underside of the ice, before retreating into the inky crystalline depths.
Jack watched it, before leaning back and sitting down. For a moment he revelled in the alpine silence. Nothing stirred, nothing sounded. The air was full of deep, reassuring calm. Jack inhaled slowly, opening his eyes as he exhaled to watch the cloud of vapour that appeared. He hadn't done that since he was a kid, and it brought back fond memories of childhood Christmases at the cabin, running around in the snow with his brothers and cousins.
Silence was golden, or maybe white in this case. And it brought back those most magical and long forgotten memories with complete clarity. That was precisely why he wanted this Christmas alone.
The silence suddenly came to a halt, as Jack heard the sound of a heavy vehicle coming up the road behind him. Not wanting to leave his magical retreat, Jack hesitated in turning around, knowing that whoever was there would be wanting to see him.
He heard two van doors slam shut, and some murmured chat, before he heard a familiar voice.
"Thank you so much. I didn't expect you to be so quick."
Jack got up and turned around. When he finally looked back towards the cabin and the road, he saw a pick-up truck with a small car from the local hire company attached to it. Sam stood talking to the driver, wrapped up in a long black coat with fur trim. Her cheeks were a rose winter red, and Jack momentarily forgot his dismay at being 'discovered' as he took in her fresh beauty. Sam smiled and waved goodbye to the driver, before he climbed back in his truck and drove off. She hesitated for the slighted second before turning round to see Jack.