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Again Sam and Jack sat silent in the living room of the cabin. They'd managed a reasonable cleanup, chucking buckets of water out of the windows and covering the floor with towels. The both still had plastic bags tied round their feet when they had to move from the couch. But they hadn't done that much, instead they just sat together, enjoying each others' presence.

"I'm hungry." Sam said.

"It's 2pm…you can't be starving already…we ate late last night."

"I know…but I'm a complete pig with food."

Jack shifted his lower jaw, something he did when thinking things through.

"Well…I've got some veg' in the cupboards that I just bought early yesterday, and some noodles, and I think there's a bottle of Soy Sauce somewhere…You like stir fry?"

"Yes sir…I'll make it."

"Ah! No you won't…you're my guest…I'll cook."

"You sure?"

"Yup…you sort out a place to eat and all that jazz and I'll get this cooked…It's not exactly Christmas Turkey with all the trimmings, but it'll do."

Twenty minutes later, Sam and Jack say in the living room with their stir-frys and some wine. It had turned out surprisingly good - considering it had been cooked on a camping stove - and they'd both dug in. Again, conversation was at a minimum.

Sam looked up at Jack every so often. His mind was elsewhere, that much was painfully obvious. But was something wrong, or was she seeing another side to him.

She suddenly realised that Jack was looking straight at her. He'd caught her looking at him.

"Something in my nose Carter?"

"I uh…sorry Sir…my mind was just wandering…sorry."

Jack went back to picking at his baby corn, but Sam's instincts had to be put to rest.

"Is there something wrong sir?"

"Why would there be?"

"You just seem a little out of it…sir."

Jack gave her the eyebrow.

"What I mean is…you were neither happy nor sad to see me…you didn't properly lose your temper when the cabin got flooded…we're snowed in and your perfectly content to sit here…and you've been very quiet too."

Jack let out a long sigh.

"It's hard to explain Carter and I'd rather not go there…has to do with the concept of personal space…If you must know…I wanted to spend this Christmas alone…so I could do some thinking and take a little stroll down memory lane…find my centre…get away from the stress of the Pentagon and just be me for a change."



"I uh…I shouldn't have come up here…should I?"

"That's a pretty silly question from someone who's managed to double the world's IQ in her short life…I set out to be alone up here….but now that you're stuck here with me…maybe it's a good thing…you'll save me the trouble of talking to myself at least!"

"There is that sir."

The silence stretched once more, and Sam shifted slightly, realising how cold her feet seemed to be. Jack finished eating, and motioned towards Sam's near empty plate.

"You finished?"

"Yes sir…thank you."

Jack smiled, lifting up her plate and walked over to the kitchen, dumping the plates in the sink. He gestured towards her empty glass.

"I'll take a beer please sir."


Sam looked back towards Jack's empty seat. He'd told what was wrong, but had completely evaded the question too. So he came up here for personal reflection and solace. But reflection on what exactly? There was something else going on, and Sam intended to find out.

Her theorising on Jack's behaviour was interrupted by a bottle of beer being waved in front of her face.


"It's surprisingly chilly considering the fridge is switched off!" Jack chuckled with sarcasm.

Sam giggled back.

"So what did you come up here to contemplate?" She asked nonchalantly, knowing that Jack would probably not rise to the bait.

"I uh…just stuff I guess…lots of different stuff."

"I don't buy it…you've been so strange up here…as if you've had an epiphany or come to terms with something."

"You're worried because you think I'm at peace?" Jack scrunched his forehead, "How much have you had to drink?" he smiled.

"Seriously Jack…c'mon…I am worried you know."

Jack put his beer down with slightly less force than normal. The dull clank barely audible, as if Jack were actually thinking about opening up.

Sam sensed the change in his attitude, and also put her drink down, leaning back to give Jack some space.

"When I was fourteen…one of my uncles went to jail…He did something…terrible to our family…something I don't think I can actually bring myself to talk about…He got life, but I always dreaded the day he'd finally get out…He died in jail a few weeks ago and I feel like I'm actually okay about it...I don't have this constant worry at the back on my mind…it's strange really…In a way I'm glad he's dead…but at the same time…I wish he'd suffered more…Isn't that terrible?"

"No sir…I don't know what he did but…was there any way you could ever have forgiven him?"

"Not a chance Carter…If I'd ever met him after his sentencing…I would probably have killed him."

"Then be glad he's gone, and don't dwell on it."

Jack nodded solemnly. "Yeah…I should…I think I came back up here to…I don't know…See if I could think back to the good times without thinking about…the other stuff."

"Have you been able to?"

"…More or less…Can we…get off this subject now?"

"Sure sir."

"I've got a pack of cards…fancy playing poker?"

"What do we bet?"

"Hmm…strip poker…could be interesting at these temperatures!"