AN: Sorry for the delay... angst warning, but hey, the title should have clued you in! Enjoy!
Spoilers: Through current, I guess, but vague knowledge of Season 9 will suffice
Disclaimer: I don't own them; I'm just taking them out for some fun. I'll put them back when I'm done. Promise.
The ride in the car was silent as both Sam and Teal'c were lost in their own thoughts. Daniel's car was parked out from of the house when they got there, but neither Jack nor Daniel were inside it. She clearly remembered turning off the lights on her way out that morning as well, but she could see from the street that they were back on. She shook her head, torn between being amused and annoyed. Of course he wouldn't wait two minutes for her to open the door. Why wait outside in the cold when you can break in?
As they walked to the door, Teal'c placed his hand on Sam's arm. He smiled gently at her. "I would like you to know that understand your reluctance to answer O'Neill this evening."
She tried to pass it off as being nothing. "It just caught me off guard." She'd revealed more than she'd meant to with her hesitation at dinner if even Teal'c was trying to comfort her.
"I too did not realize such a difference until this evening."
Heartened by his agreement, Sam smiled. "I thought it was just me."
Teal'c nodded his head only once. "This occasion is most sad, although it should be joyous."
Sam nodded, recognizing the choking feeling that would build quickly into tears if she allowed it. She had to steer the conversation somewhere else or she'd be a wreck. "What's really sad is the idea that we let Cameron talk us into playing basketball. Let's make a pact to never do that again."
Teal'c nodded solemnly. "I will never again allow myself to partake in an endeavor of that kind. It is a frustrating, unfulfilling sport."
Sam shrugged. "It probably would have been more fulfilling if any of us were any good."
"O'Neill instructed me in the art of boxing. It is most satisfying. Perhaps I shall teach Cameron."
Sam actually laughed. "Now that would be fulfilling. Be sure you invite me to watch." They shared a smile before heading into the house.
Sam drank in the sight that greeted her when she walked in the door. Jack had made himself at home. He was pawing through her collection of movies, occasionally tossing one on the coffee table. Daniel was standing awkwardly in the hallway, watching Jack, wincing, and then glancing at Sam.
"Did I forget to lock the door?" She knew she hadn't, but the scared, innocent look on Daniel's face made it impossible to resist teasing him.
He swallowed hard and glared at Jack, who was continuing to pick out possibilities for the evening's entertainment without acknowledging that Daniel was being questioned. "It was Jack's idea."
"No kidding." She was smirking when Jack finally looked up.
"Hide your spare key better if you don't want people to use it."
"And just why did you assume I had a spare key?"
Jack rolled his eyes. "Of course you have a spare key. Of course it's under the welcome mat. You're just too perfectly normal to not have a spare key under the mat."
"And exactly what aspect of my life screams normal, sir?" She grinned as she watched him flounder for an answer.
Eventually he shrugged, letting his eyes drift among his friends. Then he looked back at Sam with a triumphant smile. "Well-" He pointed at Teal'c. "He's an alien and-" He pointed at Daniel. "He's died more times than you can shake a stick at, so you're relatively normal."
He grinned unabashedly at her. "Everything's relative, isn't it?"
Sam rolled her eyes, but she allowed herself to smile.
Sensing that Sam was actually ok with the notion of them letting themselves into her house, Daniel relaxed. He and Teal'c settled onto the couch and began sorting through the movies Jack had deemed acceptable. Sam kicked off her shoes and joined her friends, sitting on the couch between the two men.
Jack grabbed the movie Teal'c had finally selected and put it in. Then he turned to Sam. "Beer?"
"Didn't you have enough at dinner?" The idea of beer was more appealing to her then than it had been, knowing that she didn't have to drive and thinking it would stop her mind from the continual comparison between Life With Jack and Life Without Jack. At the rate the internal checklist was going, Sam wasn't sure she'd want to get out of bed in the morning.
"I'm not going anywhere, Carter."
Although his words were intended to be taken at face value and nothing more, everyone became oddly silent as though they all realized simultaneously there could possibly be other meanings to his statement. If Sam had been in the Life With Jack stage, she would have completely ignored any possible or imagine double or triple entendre and changed the subject to alleviate the discomfort of all involved.
But Sam was in the Life Without Jack stage and she found herself staring into his eyes, having no qualms with any interpretation he might have intended. The silence stretched on as he stared back, caught unaware of how to respond when demure Carter didn't back away first. He did the same thing he did every one of the few times she'd done the same in the past - he just stood there.
Daniel cleared his throat, thinking it best that he remind his friends there were other people present. "So, beer?"
Sam turned away first, heat staining her cheeks. Those stares were one more thing she mentally added to the list of why she'd liked Jack better than Cameron. "It's in the fridge."
Jack returned a moment later with three beers and a bottle of water for Teal'c. As soon as he set the bottles on the table, both Teal'c and Daniel relocated to armchairs. Jack and Sam looked at the empty seats on the couch and then at each other.
Sam shrugged. "Do I smell bad?"
"I hope not because it would appear there's nowhere else to sit." Jack took his seat, propped his feet up on the coffee table, opened his beer, and stretched his arm across the back of the couch.
Teal'c had learned many things from Jack over the years of their friendship and, although he did not often put it to use, teasing was one of them. He smiled at the pair sitting rather closer than mere friends might. "I would be more than happy to trade seats if you would prefer to sit over here, O'Neill."
Jack was stunned and stared at his friend with his mouth hanging open. It may have been his comic appearance at that moment. It may have been the way Daniel mirrored Jack in shared disbelief. It may have been the stress of the evening.
Whatever the cause, Sam thought it was funny. So funny, in fact, that she laughed until tears ran down her cheeks. She leaned forward and pressed her hands over her face, trying to stop the waves of laughter that rolled through her. Daniel and Jack joined her, all three reveling in the rare, light-hearted moment made even rarer by the fact that one of Teal'c's jokes was actually funny.
Daniel started the movie with Sam still giggling. While she was leaning forward, Jack's arm slipped off the back of the couch and his hand came to rest on Sam's hip. She didn't notice when it happened, but she felt it as soon as she went to sit up. Daniel and Teal'c were focused on the movie and she knew they probably wouldn't have cared anyway, so she relaxed into him and let her head rest on his shoulder.
Sam fell asleep quickly, lulled by the soothing sound of Jack's heart beating under her ear. When she awoke, she realized she'd made herself quite comfortable in her sleep. She'd turned nearly sideways on the couch; her feet tucked under her, her arm wrapped securely around Jack's waist, her face pressed into the middle of his chest. For his part, Jack hadn't remained still either. He'd taken the opportunity to wrap his other arm around her and tuck his face into her hair.
Sam shifted slightly upon waking up, mostly due to the novelty of being in someone's, particularly Jack's, arms. She was surprised that he was actually awake and being openly affectionate. But as soon as she lifted her head, Jack raised his finger to his lips to shush her. She turned then, taking in the sight of their friends, both sound asleep in their chairs. The movie wasn't even halfway through and everyone had already fallen asleep. Sam smiled at Jack, realizing the lack of consciousness from the guys had probably been the driving force behind Jack's openness.
Jack tucked his face against her ear. She nearly panicked, suddenly realizing that years of wanting it had not prepared her for the moment when he would actually act on their attraction. She felt slightly foolish when she realized he was only whispering that his arm had fallen asleep. She covered her embarrassment by whispering back that she was going to get some water.
She retrieved her drink from the refrigerator, but didn't return to the living room. She leaned on the counter and took slow, deep breaths to calm her racing heart. She was afraid to let it go any further. It had already gone too far.
It wasn't that she had any question that Jack was, and always would be, the love of her life. It wasn't that she didn't believe he reciprocated her feelings completely. It wasn't that she thought being with him wasn't every bit as perfect as she'd always imagined. It was the simple fact that what seemed like heaven on Friday night would feel like hell on Monday morning.
Their feelings had been kept in a box, locked away, for years. Every once in a while, one of them would peek in and check to make sure they were still there, but they never got out. Denying them, refusing to admit even to herself most of the time that they existed at all, was how she'd gotten through years of not being able to act on them. It was how she'd survived the previous year as well, without even being able to see him on a daily basis. But it seemed as though those feelings were tired of being hidden away and fought their way out every chance they got - the trip to Jack's cabin, random comments made to interested third parties, falling asleep in each other's arms, a few phone calls in between which had been, had anyone overheard, grossly inappropriate in light of fraternization regs for two people who were technically still in the same chain of command, and even their friends' jokes.
Sam shook her head, squared her shoulders, and slammed the lid back on the box. She turned around and found that Jack was standing in the doorway. The pain pierced through her so suddenly it took her breath. It wasn't the loss of the impossible love affair that never quite was; it was the loss of her closest, most trusted friend - the one person who could read her mind with just one glance.
Disuse hadn't dulled his ability to read her. His eyes narrowed the slightest bit as he saw the pain and the resolution in hers. He stuffed his hands deep into his pockets. "I thought you were coming back."
His voice had always gotten to her, even when she was mad or scared or barely knew him. The tone of it unleashed something primal in her and she had to turn away to keep herself from running to him.
Something so simple as hearing her name from his lips threatened to break her like nothing ever had. Sam folded her arms over her chest in an unconscious effort to protect herself or perhaps hold herself together. She looked up at him; her chin trembling, her eyes wet with tears.
"I miss you."
She hadn't meant to hurt him, but as soon as the words choked past her lips she knew she had. She watched guiltily as he looked away, his breath hitching on every attempt, his eyes squeezing closed in defeat. She would have known how much he was hurting at that moment even if she hadn't just gone through, and nearly won, the same battle. She needed his strength, his victory over the raging emotions, to keep it all inside.
And she was honestly torn as to whether or not she wanted him to succeed. She wanted to run into his arms and stay there forever. She wanted him to disappear before something could happen that would hurt even more.
And suddenly she understood why he didn't visit, why he avoided her when he did, why he tried to keep their contact to a minimum. They were like recovering addicts and the only way to stay clean was to avoid temptation.
His eyes met hers again, revealing raw emotion he had been no better than she at putting away. He took a step closer to her. "I still have to go home Sunday night."
The problem with their addiction was that it continued to grow stronger no matter how long they resisted. Sam's heart leapt as she came to a realization. She didn't want to stay clean. She didn't bother to say anything at all. She simply closed the distance between them. His touch was more than she'd even dreamed.
She awoke Monday morning to the cold, hard truth that Jack had gone home. Everything felt surreal and dreamy as she went through the motions of her day. She could still feel his hands on her skin, his lips on her mouth. She couldn't help but think that while he had left, he hadn't gone home. His home was with her.
That was why everything felt so wrong.