Merry Christmas, folks! I've never done a Christmas fic before, so I thought I'd give it a go. There is a little epilogue type drabble coming tomorrow, hopefully, so fear not that I've left it hanging, though if you look at it a certain way it could actually be finished with opportunities on the horizon. I know what you lot are like though, so there will be an extra little bit coming quite soon. I hope you enjoy this, please tell me what you think. Merry Christmas again hehe (I'm so excited! Lol). Istalindar
Washington was cold. Unsurprising, seeing as Christmas was four days away and Sam was currently standing at the edge of an ice rink, clinging to the side with gloved hands. Cassie was well away, skating with a friend from college. And while Sam could skate perfectly well, she preferred watching. But Cassie had insisted that Sam get out onto the ice, so Sam had done so.
She was regretting it now. She was cold and she could smell the coffee from the café behind her. Still, it was time spent with Cassie, sort of. She'd gone to pick Cassie up from NYU, only to find that the errant teen was planning on spending Christmas in Washington with a friend from college. Sam didn't mind, though she would have preferred a phone call before she'd jumped on a transport and headed north. Still, it was good to see that Cassie was getting on at college, and it was nice of her friend to invite Sam down. Sam had felt vindicated when Sarah, the friend Cassie was staying with, had thoroughly berated Cassie for not telling Sam and then insisted Sam come along, going to far as threaten to tie her up.
Sarah was quite a forward woman, almost comparable to Vala. Fortunately, not too much.
"Come on, Sam." Cassie and Sarah slid to a halt beside her. "You have to actually do some skating." Sarah and Cassie each grabbed a hand, and laughing pulled Sam out onto the ice. Sam smiled and let herself go, it was good to do something completely unrelated to the war with the Ori for once. This was nice, skating on the floodlit ice, with snow drifting down occasionally and the lights from the Christmas trees glittering out of the corner of her eyes. Down the other end of the rink some boys had started a hockey game, and Sam smiled at the memory of her ex-CO and how he had made them all watch it.
It had been a while since she'd heard from Jack. A year, maybe a bit more.
It was a yea and five months, actually, but Sam didn't like to be caught counting. It made her seem… it was hard to explain.
"Sarah, lets go." Cassie suddenly announced.
"Let's go!" Cassie insisted, grabbing Sarah's hand and pulling her away. Sam brought herself out of her thoughts as the two girls skated away, grinning like idiots. Sam rolled her eyes and shifted her weight to skate back the way she had come, and stopped.
Across the rink, in movie-cliché style, stood the General, perfectly balanced on the ice and staring back at her, skaters whizzing around him completely unnoticed. Sam took a deep breath and raised her hand in greeting, and he instantly began skating towards her. Sam waited for him, and he slid smoothly to a halt in front of her.
"Carter." He was surprised, she could tell. But he hid it well anyway.
"Sir." She smiled. "How are you?"
"Not too bad, yourself?" He replied. She nodded.
"Hows the SGC?"
"Busy." Sam replied. There was an awkward pause.
"Jack!" Cassie screetched, skating straight into him. He slid forward into Sam and somehow kept his balance, though when Sam lost hers he risked his luck by grabbing her around the waist and holding her tight to him, preventing her hard landing on the ice. He released her quickly, turning to Cassie.
"Cassie." He grinned. "How's college?"
"Fabulous." Cassie gushed. "This is Sarah. Jack, Sarah." Sarah slid forward.
"Nice to meet you, sir. I've heard a lot about you."
"Oh really?" Jack smirked. "Call me Jack." Sarah nodded. "So what are you three doing in Washington?"
"Well, Sarah lives here. And I'm spending Christmas with Sarah." Cassie explained. "But I forgot to tell Sam so she came to New York to pick me up. And Sarah felt bad because I hadn't told Sam so we decided to drag her along too."
"I'm not staying for Christmas, though." Sam added. "I have a half-decorated house to go back to." Jack raised his eyebrows.
"The stench of paint." Cassie giggled. "Yeah, I felt really bad when I found out."
"You hate the smell of paint." Jack commented. Sam rolled her eyes.
"I know. But even I have issues spending Christmas on base when I'm on leave."
"There is a God." Jack exclaimed, looking up at the sky. "Thank you God, she has seen reason!"
"I never spent Christmas on base." Sam argued. Jack snorted, and Cassie and Sarah skated off, bored with the Sam-and-Jackness of the conversation.
"So what about Danny and Teal'c?" Jack asked, taking her arm and gently tugging her into motion so they weren't stood still in the centre of the rink anymore.
"Teal'c's on Dakara and Danny and Vala are off on some treasure hunt." Sam shrugged. "And Cam's going home to see his sister, I think."
"So it's just you and your paint?" Jack asked. She nodded, concentrating on keeping her balance. She envied Jack his ease on the ice, somehow he just kept moving without seeming to put any effort in at all.
"Yeah. I'm thinking Thai, ice cream and Christmas specials." Sam grinned. "I might even paint." Jack snorted, unimpressed by her Christmas plans.
"Do you even have a tree?" He asked incredulously. She mock-gasped.
"Of course I do!" She exclaimed, her indignant expression melting into a smile. "Daniel and Cam made me get one." Jack rolled his eyes.
"You don't do Christmas, do you?" He asked. She shrugged.
"Well, there isn't a lot of point when all your friends are offworld, Cassie's in Washington and my house is a shambles of coversheets and paint pots anyway. And who needs a tree when you have Christmas TV?" She asked brightly.
"Oh, for crying out loud." Jack muttered. "Look." He spoke up. "Why don't you stay with me?" Her eyebrows shot up and she lost her balance, and he hauled her upright, pulling her to the edge so she could hold onto the wall. "That way you can still see Cassie, you can actually have a Christmassy Christmas with a friend who's actually on this planet, and we can catch up." He shrugged, trying not to look too hopeful or eager. He had definitely put himself forward with that one, he only hoped she wouldn't shoot him down.
"Well…" She hesitated. It would be nice, she had missed him. Plus he had a point…it would be good to spend Christmas with friends. With the rest of SG1 offworld or visiting family and Cassie in Washington, she had been foreseeing a Christmas alone. In that light, Christmas was Jack was appealing. Hell, it was appealing in any light. "I don't want to get in the way." She said finally.
"Not gonna happen." He said with that oh-so-familiar grin, the one that used to make her knees feel wobbly and her heart jump into her mouth. It still worked. "I'd love to have you. Here." His clarification of where exactly he wanted to have her was a little awkward, and Sam was reminded of all those verbal slip-ups from when they had worked together.
"Alright." She said. "I'll stay. But I haven't really got anything with me." Jack shrugged. "And I have to go back to the SGC and sort a few things out."
"I knew you were planning on working over Christmas." He exclaimed triumphantly. "Fine, do it. I expect you back by Christmas Eve, though." He smirked. "And you can't even use flights as an excuse."
"I wouldn't." She said quietly. He met her gaze and a slow smile spread across his face, and he held out his arms.
"C'mere." She went, resting her chin on his shoulder. "I'm so glad to see you." He whispered, one hand rising to cradle the back of her neck. Sam inhaled deeply.
"Likewise." She replied. When he released her she slid backwards a few inches. "I oughta tell Cassie." She said. "If I'm gonna be back here by Christmas Eve I need to leave pretty soon." Jack grinned with a one-shouldered shrug.
"That's fine. Look," He dug in his pocket and pulled out his wallet, handing her a business card from it. "It's got all my numbers on it, so call me when you're on your way and I'll pick you up."
"Cards, sir?" Sam asked, raising an eyebrow. Jack rolled his eyes.
"My secretary did it when I wasn't looking, then handed me a box and said 'deal with it'. She's not very sympathetic with me." Sam smiled.
"Got you under her thumb?"
"She makes amazing cake." Jack admitted. Sam laughed. "See you Christmas Eve?"
"Yes sir." She nodded with a smile. He grinned.
"Great." A shout brought his attention back to the hockey game behind them, and he looked back at her. "I gotta get back." She nodded again, and he gripped her shoulder briefly before skating backwards a few strides and then turning and heading back to the game. Sam looked down at the card.
It was plain, with his name and numbers on it. Very simple and very characteristic of Jack. His secretary knew him well. The other implications of that made her wince, but Sam resolutely pushed them back and looked across the ice for Cassie. The brunette spotted her and skated over, Sarah in tow.
"Well?" Cassie asked expectantly, and it all suddenly clicked. Sam narrowed her eyes, and a slow grin spread across Cassie's face and Sarah bit her lip.
"You planned this." Sam accused. Cassie giggled, and Sam turned to Sarah. "And you were in on it!"
"Well, when Cassie explained your situation, I had to help." Sarah said with a completely unrepentant smile. "And it was no trouble."
"I cannot believe you two!" Sam exclaimed, more than a little irked. "You manipulated me, just so that-"
"You could see Jack again. Seriously, Sam. You can pine for him for years in Colorado, or you can get off your ass and get up here. You weren't going to make the decision, so I made it for you."
"Did you know he would invite me to stay for Christmas?" Sam demanded. Cassie's eyes widened, and Sam gave a sigh of relief that Jack wasn't in on this.
"He invited you to stay? Oh my god, that's brilliant!" Cassie practically screamed. "I mean, I thought you guys would exchange numbers and talk later, I didn't think he'd invite you to stay."
"Well, he did." Sam said wryly. "I'm going back to Colorado for a few days to sort out stuff at the SGC, then I'm flying back on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas here." Cassie giggled and clapped her hands gleefully.
"We rock Sarah." Cassie announced. "We're more amazing than we ever dreamed!"
"But not more modest." Sarah replied drily. "I'm really pleased for you, Sam. Jack seems like a really great guy. And if Cassie's right then he's totally hung up on you."
"Yeah, well, Cassie isn't always right." Sam remarked. "He isn't hung up on me, we just used to be very good friends. We used to work together."
"Used to be? If you were that good friends, what changed?"
"He got reassigned to Washington, and I got sent to Nevada."
"Oh, the joys of being military." Sarah rolled her eyes. "My cousin is Navy and is here there and everywhere, it's a pain." She paused. "So when are you leaving?"
"Pretty soon. I promised I'd be back by Christmas Eve."
"That's cool. Want a lift to the airport?" Sarah offered.
"Yeah, the sooner you're gone the sooner you can come back." Cassie piped up.
"Thanks Cassie." Sam said, rolling her eyes. Cassie grinned and grabbed her arm, tugging her towards the entrance to the rink.
"You think I'm kidding?"
Sam dropped her bag off at the house and picked up her mail and answerphone messages. There was very little of each. She was still reeling both from Jack's offer and from the instructions Cassie had given her, regarding what to take, what to wear, what to say, what not to say, and pretty much minute by minute instructions for the trip.
Cassie had inherited Janet's controlling nature.
The day before she was due to leave, Sam dropped in at the SGC to make a final check that everything was in order, that nothing would spontaneously combust while she was gone and to see Daniel and Vala off. Vala was her usual self, chirpy and suggestive and annoyingly curious about everything, and Daniel dealt with her as he would an irritating child: with one eye constantly focused on what Vala was doing and one ear listening to what she was saying, while he packed and sorted out last minute details for their trip.
Sam suspected it wasn't the hardship he implied. And Sam also suspected that Vala knew full well she didn't annoy Daniel as much as he said she did.
"Sorry we're not going to be around for Christmas." Daniel said distractedly, taking an artefact from Vala and setting it down while putting his camcorder in his backpack and looking up at Sam. She smiled.
He would make a great dad one day. His propensity for multitasking was surprisingly large.
"What about Cassie? I thought you went to pick her up."
"She's staying in DC with a friend from college." Sam said, sitting on one of the stools. Vala started pulling faces behind Daniel's back, making Sam smirk.
"Vala, quit it." Daniel said. "That sucks, Sam. You going to see Mark, then?"
"No, actually." Sam took a deep breath and let it out. She would not let this get the best of her, dammit.
"So, what? Christmas by yourself in your stinky house? At least fumigate it first." Sam rolled her eyes.
"Very funny, Daniel. No, actually, I'm spending Christmas in DC, too."
"With Cassie?" Daniel asked, one arm going out to bar Vala from her quest to find more interesting artefacts on the shelves behind him. Vala grinned and draped herself across him, and Daniel sighed. "Vala, have you nothing better to do?"
"Nope." Vala said with a smile. "Though I can think of some better things we could do…" She bit her lip coyly and Daniel sighed.
"Vala, sit." He pushed her down onto a stool and she immediately picked up the artefact Daniel had taken from her earlier and started playing with it. Daniel closed his eyes briefly in a prayer for patience then looked back at Sam who regarded them with an amused look. "It was nice of Cassie's friend to invite you."
"Actually, I'm not staying with Cassie's friend." Sam said, meeting Daniel's gaze. He was confused for a brief moment, then he remembered who else lived in Washington.
"Oh. Oh!" His eyes widened. "Since when?"
"Since he invited me when I was in DC with Cassie earlier this week. I explained that everyone was gonna be offworld and I was planning a Christmas with Thai, ice cream and Christmas TV, and he invited me to stay with him."
"And you accepted?" Daniel grinned. "That's new." Sam rolled her eyes.
"Yeah. Well. Actually, Cassie and Sarah planned the whole thing to get me to Washington in the first place. Apparently this is beyond their wildest dreams."
"They need better imaginations." Vala commented quietly, showing just how avidly she had been following their conversation.
"Yes, well." Sam shrugged. "I think if I had turned him down Cassie would have accepted on my behalf anyway. Plus, it's been a while since we hung out, I figured we could catch up."
"That's good." Daniel said, fastening his bag shut. "Since he went to DC I know I haven't seen him as much as I'd like too."
"Yeah, same." Sam nodded. "It'll be good. Plus, it'll mean Christmas with someone sentient."
"Better than your plants how?" Daniel asked with a grin, and Sam laughed.
"Yeah, well. It'll be good to see him again."
"Well, say hi for me." Daniel said. He turned to the dark haired woman beside him. "Vala, you ready?"
"Always." She grinned and grabbed his ass, and he jumped away. Sam tried to hide a smile but suspected she hadn't managed that well.
"Then, Sam, Merry Christmas." Daniel said, coming around the table for a hug. "Say hi to Jack for me."
"Yeah, and don't do anything I would do." Vala added. Sam raised her eyebrow over Daniel's shoulder.
"So anything goes, right?" Vala smiled widely.
"Yep. Enjoy." Sam rolled her eyes, heading for the door.
"You guys have fun." She said.
"And Sam?" Daniel said
"Yep?" Sam turned back.
"Don't ruin this by freaking out." Daniel warned. "He's not your CO anymore."
"Bye Daniel." Sam said with a smile, heading for her lab. He did have a point though.
"Hey sir, it's me." Sam said, holding the phone between shoulder and ear while she dug in her bag for plane tickets.
"Carter. On your way?"
"I'm about to board now." Sam replied with a smile, handing the tickets to the attendent and nodding when the attendent gestured at the phone. Sam stood to the side so the other passengers could board unobstructed. "I should be in DC in a few hours."
"That's great, Carter, I'll pick you up."
"I can get a taxi, sir."
"Not a chance, Carter. It'll give me a chance to get out of this hellhole early." Jack said flatly. Sam smiled.
"Working on Christmas Eve? And you berate me for working over Christmas."
"Well, apparently a general's work is never done. I gotta go, but I'll see you in a few. Have a good flight."
"Thanks sir. See you soon." Sam ended the call and turned off her phone before boarding the plane, finding her seat, and settling down for the flight.
She was woken by a flight attendent who informed her they were nearly there. Sam looked out of the window and saw a great expanse of snowy white ground, clearly it had been snowing in Washington too, despite its usual mild winters.
Jack met her at the gate, and she smiled at him as she passed the flight attendents and headed towards him.
"Good flight?" He asked, taking her bag from her. She let it go, amused by the chivalrous action.
"I slept through it." Sam admitted, following him as he led the way out of the airport to his car, a somewhat smaller affair than the truck he had left behind in Colorado Springs.
"How do you cope?" She asked with a smile when she saw it. Jack followed her gaze and understood.
"With difficulty." He said wryly. "The damn thing is just too small." Sam smiled and climbed in the passenger seat, and after putting her bag in the boot Jack climbed in too. He started the engine and pulled into the main traffic lanes, navigating his way through the city with ease.
"I see Washington doesn't confuse you anymore." Sam said, glancing at him. He looked back with a grin.
"Don't let appearances deceive you, Carter." He said, turning out of the busy lanes and onto a more sedate side road. "I know the way from my apartment to my office, and from there to the airport. And finding the White House is real easy." Sam giggled, just a little before she could restrain herself. "No giggling, Colonel." He chided her. She bit her lip.
It was just so familiar, the banter. She was struck again by how much she had missed this, being out with him (as well as Daniel and Teal'c), talking about random stuff and teasing each other. It had lessened significantly when he became General, and then near enough stopped altogether when she started seeing Pete and he started seeing Kerry. And by the time both Kerry and Pete were gone, Jack was too, having been promoted.
She missed him more than she liked to admit. And even admitting that was a step.
"So hows Daniel?" Jack asked into the silence. "Coping with Vala?" Sam smiled and laughed.
"As well as expected." She replied. "He deals with her very well, though I think that's more due to Vala than it is to any special ability of his to control her. He has shown remarkable patience, though. I would have gone mad with her in my lab long ago."
"Hey, you dealt with me." Jack reasoned, turning into a parking lot at the foot of a nice but secluded apartment block. "We're here."
"Yeah, but when you were in my lab all I had to do was make sure all the really important breakables were out of sight." Sam reasoned, following him into the apartment and then into the elevator. Jack punched the button for the top floor, and Sam raised an eyebrow. He caught her expression and rolled his eyes.
"Something about being a general." He said. "I think they have a budget they have to spend. And the further out from the centre you get, the cheaper it is. So they got me the most expensive apartment in the least expensive block. Or something like that. And, by the way, hey! I did not break that much stuff."
"No, you broke more." Sam said, smiling at his insulted expression. She glanced around the chrome elevator as it rose higher and higher to the penthouse. "Did you refuse to go home to the one they originally got you?" Sam asked, remembering her own Washington apartment. It had been Air Force property, and like the Air Force, had been functional, but that was about it. Mind you, she was only a lowly Captain at the time. Chances were Generals got better lodgings.
"I didn't refuse, as such…" Jack said, making her smile again. The elevator doors opened directly into his living room and he stepped through, leaving her to follow. She looked around in awe.
Generals did get better lodgings.
The place was lovely. The living room was spacious, with floor to ceiling windows on one wall, a large TV and a big couch and armchair. There was a Christmas tree in the corner, haphazardly decorated in a way that Sam immediately knew that Jack had taken it upon himself to do it. The kitchen opened onto the living room, separated by a breakfast bar with bar stools. Beyond that was a hall, and Sam guessed, the bedrooms. It was a nice apartment, and dotted around the place were little things that made it Jack's which made it nicer. Less of a magazine cover, more of a home. There was a hockey stick leaning against the couch, and a bag of hockey gear under the hall table. A nodding Homer sat on the breakfast bar, and boxed sets of Simpsons DVDs were stacked beside the TV. Sam grinned despite herself.
"What?" Jack appeared from the hall where the bedrooms were.
"Simpsons stuff." Sam said in explanation. Jack shrugged.
"Yeah, well. They're a euphemism for real life. And I don't care what you think…Burns as Goa'uld. It fits."
"I very much doubt that's what the creators had in mind, sir." Sam said with a smile, perching on one of the bar stools while Jack went to the fridge and pulled out two beers.
"Who knows?" Jack returned. "And it's Jack. I refuse to be called 'sir' on Christmas. That's why I took the day off for cryin' out loud!"
"Alright." Sam agreed. "If you call me Sam." Jack shrugged, swigging from his beer.
"That shouldn't be a problem." He turned back to the fridge, hiding a slight smile. "However…"
"Thai." Sam said immediately. Jack frowned, turning back to look at her. She smiled engagingly at him, but it didn't work.
"Chinese." He argued. She shook her head, folding her arms.
"Uh-uh. I'm the guest, I say Thai." She said with a smirk. Jack stared in mock outrage.
"First name terms and suddenly she turns bossy." He commented. She shrugged. "But I don't like Thai." He said piteously. Sam snorted and shook her head, giving in to his tone.
"That's pathetic." She said with a smile. "We can have Chinese."
"Score." Jack grinned and she rolled her eyes when he grabbed one of the take-out menus from the top of his fridge and the cordless phone. "So…whaddya want?"
Fed, watered and comfortable, Sam sat curled on the couch, only half watching as Jack channel surfed through what must have been three hundred odd channels.
"Oh, come on sir." She said eventually. "Just pick one."
"Sam…" He said warningly. She sighed.
"Jack…" She returned. He grinned and tossed her the remote.
"You pick." She raised her eyebrows at him.
"You mean there's no ice hockey?" She asked, starting to flick through the channels herself, paying more attention now. He shook his head.
"Sadly, no. Everyone's off for Christmas." Sam glanced at him with a smile and caught him looking at her with an intensity that made her quickly look away.
Sure, there weren't any regs now. But there had been regs for so long that it was a bit surreal that there weren't, anymore.
She settled on a Christmas movie that she had seen before and knew wasn't too sappy, so Jack wouldn't whinge through it. Surprisingly, he didn't say a word, just settled deeper into the couch, swigged his beer, and turned his attention to the movie. Blessing small favours, Sam did likewise.
She woke with a start just at the last scene of the movie, and was acutely aware of how close she had somehow managed to get to Jack. Her head was on his shoulder, and his arm was around her shoulders. Her hand was curled against his chest, and she could feel his warmth all up her torso from where their bodies had met. Jack knew the moment she woke, and pulled his arm away. Sam missed the warmth.
"Hey sleepy." He said quietly. "You missed the movie."
"I know the moral already." She said with a smile, sitting up away from him. "Christmas spirit is everywhere."
"How trite." Jack said caustically. Sam shook her head.
"It's Christmas, Jack. Everything about it is trite."
"You may be right." Jack shrugged. "I thought we'd see Cassie tomorrow for a bit, if you'd like."
"Yeah, sounds good. I have to give her her present, anyway." Sam said. She glanced at the TV and saw the now running infomercial and decided enough was enough. "I'm going to head to bed, Jack." She said, climbing out of the bottomless pit that was his sofa and standing, stretching a little bit to get the kinks out of her back.
"Sure. The spare bedroom's all set up for you." He said, rising as well and trying to focus on anything but the strip of skin between her jeans and jumper that was exposed when she stretched. "I'll show you." Jack led the way down the hall, pointing out the bathroom and showing her the door to her room.
"Thanks, Jack." She said with a smile. "For dragging me up here as well. Knowing my luck Felger would have had an emergency at the SGC and I would be working Christmas."
"Well, we can't have that, can we?" Jack asked smiling back. "Goodnight, Sam."
"Night." She returned, slipping through the door into the darkened spare room. Her bag was sat on the bed, and for a moment, she perched beside it, hanging her head and taking a deep breath. Being here was a mixed blessing. While she definitely enjoyed his company, and had missed him while he was here and she was in Colorado, being here brought up a lot of feelings, the kind that had made her walk away from Pete. They had never discussed what had made both of them spontaneously break up with their significant other, even at the cabin after her father had died. She knew Daniel had expected something to happen, seeing as he wasn't her CO anymore and she wasn't engaged either. However at the time, they had spent more time being friends again, getting used to being back to the friendly banter that they had engaged in for the last seven years but had lost in the past one, and it had never really gotten past that. Still, Sam would prefer they were friends than nothing at all. Being here, though, brought all those other feelings to the forefront. Still, it wasn't illegal anymore if it did happen. And if it didn't, then it didn't really matter because in all fairness, they hadn't spoken in a while and catching up was as necessary as anything else.
Sam shook herself out of her thoughts and got her toothbrush and toiletries out before making a short trip to the bathroom, then changed into her pyjamas and went to bed.
She woke a few hours later shivering and gasping, and she lay still for a moment, willing her body to calm and her breathing to quiet. She knew well how lightly Jack slept, and she didn't want to wake him. Not with bad dreams. When her body was finally under her control once more she slipped from the bed, well aware that for tonight, at least, she wouldn't be sleeping anymore. It was always that way after the dream.
It wasn't surprising that she had suffered some sort of trauma from the incident a few months ago, when she had been left floating beside the super gate, watching the Ori systematically destroy every vessel opposing them. But it still annoyed her when the nightmare woke her, because in the nightmare there was no one left to come help her, and all her friends were dead, and she was left alone in space, surrounded by a vast vacuum and endless silence. In her dream, she first grew cold, and then she was tired, and then, slowly, she fell asleep. It was the moment that she died that her body jerked her awake, leaving her sleepless for the rest of the night. It was annoying because it wasn't true. She was picked up, Daniel and Cam and Teal'c were all alright. She was safe on earth.
This was ridiculous.
Sam got herself a glass of water and sat on the sofa, staring past the glittering Christmas tree out the window, at the still-lit streets of Washington. It was 2am on Christmas morning and people in Washington were still working, travelling, sleeping without nightmares of abandonment and isolation plaguing them. Sam closed her eyes briefly, trying to chase away the images in her mind, but with no luck.
"Sam?" Her head whipped around and she saw Jack standing in the doorway, dressed in sweats and an old Air Force t-shirt. "Are you okay?" She nodded with what she hoped was a reassuring smile.
"Fine." Jack raised his eyebrows, aware as always when there was something wrong with his once-second in command.
"So why are you sitting on my couch trying to make images in your mind disappear when you should be asleep in bed?" He stepped forward and sat on the couch beside her, and she stared in shock.
"How did you know?" He shrugged.
"I've done my fair share of wishing images away. It takes one to know one." Sam shook her head.
"With you? Hardly." Jack commented. She smiled and met his gaze, and she tried to wordlessly assure those concerned eyes that she was okay.
"It's a bad dream, nothing more. Dr McKenzie says it'll go away in time. I just forgot my sleeping pills, that's all." Jack's eyebrows shot up.
"Dr McKenzie is a crackpot and I can't believe you're taking anything he gives you, let alone sleeping pills."
"Not all of us have the training to just forget what happened." Sam snapped, being up so early making her irritable. So what if she went to McKenzie? She had to do something before she got caught out because her dream robbed her of sleep.
"I can't always forget." Jack said quietly, and she briefly closed her eyes.
"I'm sorry." She said quietly. Of all people, he would have memories he'd give anything to forget. And training only did so much.
"Nah." He shook his head. "C'mere." He extended his arm and she curled against his side, resting her head on his warm chest and hearing his heartbeat. "Tell me about the dream."
"It's what happened when the Ori came through the supergate." Sam said. It was all the explanation Jack needed, bringing to mind instantly the report that had had him on the phone to Landry before he'd even come to the end of her bullet-point summary. Landry had reported everyone who had come home was well…recovering and tired, but alive. Just thinking about it made his stomach drop, the idea that his team had been out there, without him, alone and separated and hoping to god they weren't the only ones. And Sam, floating beside the gate powerless to do anything but watch and hope that someone came for her before her life support ran out.
Sam was still speaking, her voice quietly recounting the dream where she really was left alone, slowly dying in the white suit in the middle of black space, and Jack stroked her hair, feeling it silk-soft under his fingers. She finished telling the dream, and Jack sat in silence for a moment, his fingers still running down the cool strands of her hair.
"I remember reading the report." Jack said quietly. "And all I could think of was if you were okay." Sam wasn't sure if he meant 'you' as in her, or 'you' as in SG1. "All of you." He clarified. "Daniel and Teal'c on their ships, and you." That 'you' at least, was definitive. "It's a miracle you didn't lose it, didn't panic."
"I was close." Sam admitted, feeling the fear and the panic from the dream draw back from the forefront of her mind as Jack held her and talked quietly into her ear. She could feel the rumble of his voice and his breath against her cheek as his chest rose and fell. "Really close, and then Cam answered me." Jack pressed a kiss to the crown of her head, remembering the sentence in her report: "Colonel Mitchell answered my calls", and the relief he had felt. That report in general had had him more on edge than any horror movie could ever manage.
Maybe because it was real.
He looked down as Sam yawned, and smiled.
"You should go back to bed." He said softly. "It's 2.30am in the morning." Sam shook her head.
"You go." She said, sitting up slightly. "I won't be able to sleep again tonight."
"That what the sleeping pills are for?" Jack asked sympathetically, meeting her gaze. She shook her head.
"If I take them before I go to bed the dream doesn't come as often." She said.
"And without them?" Jack questionned.
"Every night, without fail." She answered quietly. Jack rose, leaving her on the couch, and turned back to her.
"Come on." He said, offering her hand. She took it, confused.
"You can sleep with me. I won't let you dream." Before she had a chance to protest he closed his fingers around her hand and tugged her down the hall to his bedroom. He tucked her into bed and climbed in behind her, pulling her to him and throwing his arm across her waist.
"Jack-" She began.
"Shh." He whispered. "Just try and sleep, okay?"
"I won't be able to." She warned him.
"Just try it." He said softly. "Just close your eyes and think of nothing. Try and relax."
Considering they were spooning, relaxing was probably one of the last things she would be able to do, but Sam sighed and did as she was told anyway, closing her eyes and inhaling deeply, feeling Jack tighten his arm around her waist and nuzzle her neck slightly. And then she barely managed to register surprise when she found herself falling asleep again.
When Sam woke the next morning, she found herself in much the same position as when she fell asleep. Though now she had had several hours to get used to it, she didn't mind as much. Plus, it wasn't illegal anymore.
"Merry Christmas." Jack said softly, his fingers dancing along her shoulder and down her arm. She caught them in her own and pulled his arm around her waist. He didn't protest.
"I didn't know you were awake." She said quietly, shifting slowly onto her back so she could face him. He shook his head.
"Haven't been for long." He smiled. "You slept again." She smiled back.
"So I did."
"Nope." She smiled, feeling better rested then she had in weeks. McKenzie's pills were all well and good, but even though she didn't dream, she still woke in the morning feeling as though she'd been fighting in her sleep.
"Told you." He said triumphantly. She smiled and shook her head. "What? I did!" He argued.
"Yes." She said, looking up and meeting his gaze. "You did. You were right." He smiled widely at that.
"Wow." He said teasingly. "How often does that happen?" She shrugged.
"Outside of a lab? Pretty good average. In one?" She bit her lip thoughtfully, possibly one of the cutest expressions Jack had ever seen. "Well, you do have a habit of seeing things at their simplest…"
"Hey!" Jack complained, and she giggled. "Oy. No giggling." He said mock-sternly.
"Sorry sir." She replied. His smile faded and she frowned, looking up to meet his gaze.
"Jack?" The look in his eyes was hard to read, until of course he lowered his head slightly until his lips met hers, and then she understood perfectly. After a moment he drew back, and she smiled up at him. He brushed a strand of air away from her face.
"I hate being in Washington." He said quietly. "When you and Spacemonkey and T are out there." Sam smiled. "I worry about you guys."
"We're big kids now, Jack." She replied. "We can take care of ourselves."
"The Ori are different." He replied. "The Goa'uld we could fight, if only just. The Ori-"
"Shh." Sam laid her finger across his lips. "It's Christmas and we're not working, remember?" She smiled. "But, for the record, I hate you being in Washington too. I miss you." He smiled and bent to kiss her again, longer this time, and her arms went around his neck. When he drew back for air he nodded.
"I miss you too."
"I guessed." Sam said drily, and he stuck his tongue out at her childishly. She arched up from the bed to catch it in her mouth, then kissed him once more before falling back down against the pillow.
"You know," He began, propping himself on one elbow and tracing patterns over her shoulder with the fingers of his other hand, "This wasn't exactly what I had in mind when I invited you here?"
"Really?" Sam asked, eyebrows arching. He grinned.
"Well, this is definitely an improvement. But I had thought we'd talk, have a few beers, hang out with Cassie…"
"Check, check, check." Sam said with a smile.
"I missed you." He said again. "And they don't let me fly prototypes here." Sam stuck out her bottom lip.
"Aww." Jack bent and nipped at it, and she giggled. Jack waggled an eyebrow and dug his fingers into her side, just to see. She reacted perfectly, immediately writhing away from him, giggling harder. "Jack!"
"Hmm?" He asked, bending to kiss her shoulder even as he kept tickling her.
"Stop it!" She commanded. However, her colonel-voice was significantly less effective than his, though her attempt amused him, so he tickled her a bit more until she wriggled out of his grasp and slid off the bed onto the floor with a thump. "Ow." She complained, before turning and resting her arms on the bed and her chin on her arms. "You're such a pain in the mikta sometimes, Jack." She complained. Jack flopped back on the bed, closing his eyes and spreading out to take up the entire mattress.
"Who, me?" He asked, lazily opening one eye to look at her. She sighed.
"Yes, you." She said, standing up and stretching. Both eyes opened at that, and he watched as the tank top half of her pyjamas rode up and up, revealing a good bit of flat pale stomach. He looked up and saw she had caught him watching, and she winked before heading out of the room.
"I'm gonna make some coffee." She called back, and it only took Jack a few seconds to jump out of bed after her. "Though since you're up," she continued over her shoulder as he followed her down the hall, "You should make it, Mr Host."
"You are bossy in the mornings." He observed with a grin, and she shrugged one shoulder.
"Comes from working in a lab. You have to be extra bossy to get the minions working."
"Minions?" Jack asked. Sam rolled her eyes. "You have minions?"
"I have lab assistants." Sam said. "I did not say minions."
"Don't try to deny it." Jack shook a warning finger at her as he got the coffee out and put it in the filter before switching the drip on. "You called them minions. Though knowing you, you've probably called them that in your head for years. This is just the first time you've let it slip." Sam snorted.
"Oh yeah. I let it slip on several occasions how I felt about you, even though that was highly illegal and it was only by the grace of god that Hammond was a decent man so I didn't get jailed, but this one slightly amusing and legal slip of the tongue was something I managed to avoid? It's unlikely." She rolled her eyes, leaning against the breakfast bar and pulling over the nodding Homer, flicking him with her fingernail so he bobbed eagerly.
Jack leaned against the counter and watched her. Her complete concentration on Homer was a sure sign she was uncomfortable, and in all fairness the subject was one they hadn't yet dared approach. But after last night and this morning…hell, after seeing her all movie-cliché like at the ice rink, it was something he'd been thinking about. He hadn't known how to address it, but it seemed she had given him an opening.
"And how did you feel about me?" Jack asked. Her head shot up so quickly he was afraid she'd give herself whiplash.
"Was the Za'tarc questioning not quite clear enough?" She asked tartly. Jack smiled slowly.
"Samantha, believe you me, those words are etched indelibly on my brain. But that was nearly six years ago." He paused. "And I think we need to actually sort this out before it implodes in front of us when we aren't looking."
"You think it'll implode?" Sam asked, setting the nodding Homer aside and focusing on him with an intensity that he found almost disturbing. Jack took a deep breath and blew it out.
"Okay, let me rephrase. I still feel the same way. And more, actually, seeing as then I'd only known you for four years and now I've known you for ten and every time I turn around it's like you've grown smarter and more beautiful and dammit if you're not one of the best officers I've ever trained…" He met her gaze and hesitated. "Sam?"
"You think I'm getting smarter?" Sam asked, tilting her head to the side. "Because actually, brain cells die as you get older, you don't get new ones. So technically, I'm actually getting-"
"Sam!" Jack said in frustration. She smiled.
"Yes, I still feel the same way." She admitted. "I mean, I miss you like hell now that you're gone, and there's no one around to make all the weird gut decisions that always end up right, which means I have to do it which is scary as hell because if I'm wrong…" Sam took a deep breath. "I feel more than I did then, because every time you died, I lost something and when you came back I just held on tighter to it. But the real question is…what now?" Jack hesitated a second, then shrugged.
"Well, I'd ask you to marry me except you might panic." Sam's eyes widened and he grinned. "Like that." He shrugged. "I don't know what now. Do we try the long distance thing, bearing in mind we are Air Force and can get flights? You go offworld and I stay here and we stay with each other at weekends? Or what?"
"I'm willing to try that." Sam said quietly, cutting through his ramblings. Startled, he met her gaze. "And," She added, "Were you one day to ask me to marry you, I think I know what I'd say."
"Well, I'd get down and propose right now except this floor is so bad for my knees." Jack said. Sam smiled.
"Don't do that. Let's just…try it. There'll be no use being married to you if I never see you. Let's see how it works, because being married only at holidays just doesn't cut it for me." She pushed off the counter and came to stand right in front of him. He stared at her in silence before tucking that stubborn tendril of hair behind her ear.
"I just don't get why you'd want someone like me." He said eventually. She sighed.
"Start that crap and I swear I will slap you." She said. Her forcefulness surprised him. "You may not see in yourself what I see, but it doesn't mean it isnt there. Just trust me on this." He opened his mouth to speak and she quickly held up her hand. "And before you say I could have better than you, don't bother. I've looked and I've seen and I've decided, I still want you. So." She smiled. "And anyway. The day you won't be good enough for me will be the day I've ascended and physical sex just doesn't work anymore." Jack snorted, the seriousness of the moment gone.
"Yeah, you might want to check with Daniel on that." Jack commented, retrieving the caraffe of coffee and pouring them both a cup. Sam grinned.
"The look on his face alone would be worth it." She agreed. "Maybe you don't think about sex as much when you're an enlightened being." Jack snorted and she laughed. "And that's why you won't ascend."
"Why? Because I've had to command the sexiest blonde astrophysicist on this whole fricking planet for the last ten years but two? That's not my fault, that's fate."
"Or karma." Sam mused. Jack glared at her over the rim of his coffee cup. Sam just smiled and sipped her own. As they were glaring at each other over the rims of their coffee cups, the phone rang and Jack sighed, clearly losing the glaring game, and picked up.
"O'Neill." He listened for a few moment, then nodded. "Sure. See you then." He put the phone down and Sam raised her eyebrows. "Cass." He said as an explanation. "Getting a word in edgeways is a trick in itself."
"Tell me about it." Sam sighed. "So?"
"We're meeting her at one at the ice rink." Jack said. "And she says to not forget her presents." Sam rolled her eyes.
"Of course." She smiled. "Speaking of which…"
"You got me a present?" His eyebrows shot up.
"No, I was hoping you got me one." Sam grinned. "Yeah, I did. Hold on." She set the mug down and headed back to her bedroom, digging through her bag to find the gift. She came back to the kitchen, and found another gift already on the bar, and she laid hers next to it.
"That's for you, by the way." Jack commented, nodding at the other present before turning back to sink where he was washing up the mugs.
"Thanks. There's yours." She pushed it across the bar towards him and pulled hers to her. She resisted the urge to hold it to her ear and shake it, and instead unwrapped it under his watchful gaze, glancing up at him once to see him regarding her with an unsure expression. She smiled reassuringly, and pulled the last of the paper away to reveal a square velvet box. She raised her eyes to his questioningly.
"Just open it, for cryin' out loud." He said, turning to the sink. Sam smiled and did so.
Lying on a bed of cream satin was a small green pendant, an elongated oval emerald, hung on a fine gold chain. Sam stared at it in shock, her mind, for once, at a complete standstill.
"Well?" He demanded finally, turning back. "Do you like it?" Sam looked at him, mouth still open from shock, and he grinned. "Good." He paused. "I never thought I'd see the day you were speechless, though." Sam launched herself from the barstool and threw her arms around his neck, kissing him soundly. He laughed against her mouth, his hands going to her hips.
"It's beautiful." She whispered. "Stunning. Thank you."
"For a reaction like this? Anytime." Sam grinned and kissed him again, her fingers running through his hair and he groaned against her mouth. "Sam, as much as I'm enjoying myself here, and trust me, I am, we need to meet Cassie in an hour at the ice rink, and I've not opened my present yet." Sam giggled, reaching behind her to snag the present and hand it to him. He grinned and kissed her nose.
"I love you." He said. She hesitated before smiling back.
"I love you too." He raised his eyebrows and she shrugged sheepishly. "It's weird." He nodded, understanding her hesitation.
"Yeah." He pulled back slightly to unwrap his present, and his eyes widened as he grinned at the special collectors edition DVD boxed set of the newest season of the Simpsons, the only one he didn't have. Plus it had six hours of extras.
"You know, you know me better than anyone." He commented. She grinned.
"I think even Walter knows to buy you Simpsons." Sam said wryly. Jack shook his head.
"No, not just this. You know me well enough that I know that it was you that hooked my yoyo up to a charge so I'd do some work. In fact, despite all your denials, I bet it was you who cleaned all the yoyos out of my office so I'd have to do some work."
"Daniel helped." Sam said, fluttering her eyelashes. Jack chuckled.
"That's right, shift blame."
"I like to call it delegating, sir." Sam grinned.
"Oh really. Is that what it is?" Jack grinned, flipping his Simpsons box over to glance over the back. "When I was your CO…"
"I never did anything reprehensible, sir." Sam grinned, and Jack snorted.
"Whatever. Hammond could only wish."
"Hey. I was the ideal officer and you know it."
"I won't argue with you, Samantha dear." Jack said breezily, bending to kiss her cheek before passing her into the living room where he put the box on top of the TV. Sam turned to watch him go, eyebrows raised skeptically.
"Samantha dear? That isn't going to last, you know." Sam said. "Jonathon." Jack spun, and she folded her arms defiantly. He raised one eyebrow.
"Oh yeah?" He asked. She nodded.
"Yeah. How long do you think you could cope with me calling you Jonathon?"
"I'd be fine." Jack shrugged. Sam raised her eyebrows.
"It drove your clone up the wall. And technically, he is you." Sam said, walking right up to him and pressing a kiss to the corner of his jaw before passing him. "I'm showering first."
"What? No way, Sam-" He followed her down the hall and stopped just short of getting his face smacked by the bathroom door and sighed, smiling slightly.
Dating Samantha Carter looked like it was going to be everything he had ever imagined it to be.