Sleigh Bells – Part 3.

OoOoO

It was Christmas Eve and both Sam and Jack had been free of fever for over twenty-four hours. The coughing attacks had disappeared and what the doctor described as some sort of alien pneumonia was now totally under control. Jack had taken the task of tormenting the nursing staff to new heights and the only good reason to stay here was his close proximity to Sam. He didn't want her to be alone…and he didn't want to be without her, but still he begged for freedom.

Finally, the doctor declared them fit enough to leave and he couldn't get Daniel and Teal'c there fast enough. The four of them were on their way out of the mountain in less than an hour.

"Ok, Jack, we'll take you and Sam home and then go and get anything you need."

"Daniel, I still have shopping to do. Tomorrow's Christmas."

"Jack, I think we can forgo presents this year!"

"Actually, Daniel, I'd like to go to the mall, too. I still have some gifts to buy!"

"Sam!"

"What? I'm fine. We're both fine."

Jack looked at her and smiled as he laid his hand on the seat between them and she slipped hers into it. "Yeah, we're just peachy, so let's go shopping, Danny!"

Daniel looked at Teal'c in total exasperation but turned the car towards the mall. "I can't believe you guys!"

"Look, we'll let you know if we get…tired or something."

"Right! Jack O'Neill admitting that shopping at the mall has worn him out! This I have to see!" All of them chuckled at Daniel's joke and began to enjoy the fact that they were all together again.

Once inside they moved quickly along the corridors, popping in here and there to make a purchase. Teal'c was staying close to O'Neill and Daniel was with Sam by mutual agreement, keeping an eye on them just in case.

In very little time they were loaded down with parcels and strolling leisurely back towards the car when a sudden rush of running, laughing children flew past them in a surge.

"What the heck?" Jack turned to watch the kids running gleefully down the mall.

"Burning off excess energy?" Sam asked.

"Ah, I don't think so." Said Daniel. "Look."

A short distance in front of them was Santa Land. Attractive women in short, red, fur trimmed skirts were moving along the line of children speaking to each one and as they did, the children turned and ran towards them. They watched for a moment and then started to walk away.

"I don't get it. It is Christmas, how can there not be a Santa Claus here today?"

"Oh, calm down, Sam. He's probably just out feeding Rudolph! I'm sure he'll be back later!"

"Yeah," chirped in Daniel, "maybe Rudolph needed a walk!" He winked at Jack and Sam slapped him playfully on the shoulder.

"Stop it, guys! You know they shouldn't disappoint the children like that!"

"Come on, Sam, even Santa needs a break!"

"Ok, ok!" Sam watched for a bit longer, moving only when she felt Jack's hand tugging at her arm. Teal'c and Daniel were already several feet away when they started to follow.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere someone called out. "Jack! Sam!" The words were followed by raucous laughter and both Sam and Jack stopped immediately, almost frozen in time.

"Well, well, well! See you made it! Knew you would! It's good to see you!" The large jolly man was patting Jack's shoulder and hugging Sam as Daniel and Teal'c watched with confused faces. Jack and Sam weren't moving, they were staring at the man who continued to talk and laugh occasionally.

Jack reached out for Sam's hand and then pulled her close, almost protectively, as the man chatted happily with them. Her expression was one of shock when Jack looked at her and he imagined it matched his exactly.

"Chris?" Jack finally managed.

"That's right, son. I thought you'd forgotten me there for a moment. People do, you know? I disappear right out of their minds. Hard to imagine, but it does happen."

"You? That was…you?"

"Yes. It was me."

"So you're…"

"That's right, Jack."

Jack turned to look at Sam. Her eyes were wide at the implication. "But that can't be! You don't really… ! You're just…!"

"Oh, you of all people should know better than that, Jack! All the things you two have done and seen. Surely you realize that where there is great evil there must also be great good." The large man smiled and rubbed his hair before placing his red felt hat back atop his head.

Sam was shaking her head and laughing in disbelief, she was almost hysterical. Daniel was frowning as he watched the scene and Teal'c edged constantly closer to his friends. Daniel reached out to stop him, somehow knowing that this was something they shouldn't intrude upon.

"No, it can't be…"

"Ah, Samantha! I know it's tough for you, sweetie, but somewhere in your heart you believed in me once. Think you could try to do that again?"

"Jack?" She looked at Jack and shook her head slightly.

"Just think about it, ok? Jack will be there to help you." Her mouth dropped open and he leaned in close to whisper in her ear. "Play your cards right and he'll never leave your side."

He pulled back and slapped Jack hard on the shoulder, smiling down at their joined hands.

"So we were…we did…That was you?" Sam was stuttering her words as she stared at him, unable to finish a coherent sentence.

"Just consider it a Christmas present. I hope you both enjoy it!" He tugged on the bottom of his jacket and turned back to the mall where children were again standing in line, waiting. "Well, it's been great seeing you, again, but I really have to go. The children are waiting and I don't want to disappoint them! Merry Christmas, Jack! Merry Christmas, Sam!"

And then he was jogging away towards the line of children, climbing into his over-sized chair and lifting the first one on to his lap.

Daniel and Teal'c slowly approached watching as Jack and Sam stood motionless, staring into each other's eyes.

"Hey, guys! What's going on?"

They didn't move or answer. "So I guess it wasn't…"

"Apparently, not." Jack answered.

"And we didn't…"

"No."

"But we did…"

"Yes." Jack squeezed her hand.

"And he…"

"Yep." Jack smiled and Daniel shook his head in confusion.

"Jack, what the hell is going on? Who was that?"

"Just a friend, Daniel. Name's Chris."

"Ooooook. Well, you guys are acting weird, even for you! What did he say?"

Jack smiled at Sam intensely, waiting for her to smile back. Finally, the light came on in her blue eyes and a mega-watt smile lit up her face as she stared back at Jack and squeezed his hand.

"He said Merry Christmas, Daniel. Merry Christmas! Let's go home!"

Jack looped an arm around Sam's waist and one around Daniel's shoulders while she wrapped one arm around Jack and one around Teal'c and they walked away to the sound of Chris' happy laughter and the more distant sound of sleigh bells.

The End