Title: Survival of the Fittest

Author: Ayiana

Pairing: S/J

Wordcount: 1300

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 doesn't belong to me. Neither do its characters. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.

Spoilers: None

A/N: Written for the Schmoop-age challenge community on Live Journal for the prompt "snowball fight."

Summary: Sometimes, the only thing left to do is play in the snow.



The snowball catches her in the small of the back, and she spins, searching the shadowy, winter-bleached landscape for telltale signs of her attacker.

She sees nothing, but she doesn't need to. She already knows who it is.

Her eyes narrow as she ducks behind a nearby tree. Nobody, she thinks, shoots her in the back and lives to tell about it. He. Will. Pay.

Another snowball slams into the tree above her head, triggering a small avalanche as an overhanging branch shakes itself free of its frozen burden. Wet snow crashes onto her head and shoulders, sneaks under her collar, and slips icy fingers down the back of her neck.

She thinks she knows where he is now, her keen mind calculating distance and trajectory with smooth efficiency. But she hides the knowledge, pretending surprise when a third missile smacks into the tree trunk near her shoulder. Stealth, she thinks, is the key to victory.

Thankful for her heavy coat and gloves, she fades into the shadows, dodging from one hulking shape to the next, careful to tread lightly lest a telltale crunch give her away. She knows he's alone when the snowballs no longer target her position. Teal'c would know where she is, because Teal'c always knows. And Daniel would've given away his location long ago. No. He's alone. And it's a fact she intends to take full advantage of.

The sun wavers on a jagged horizon as she works her way around the edge of the deserted playground. There isn't much time before darkness forces her hand, and this makes her move faster than she should, but she's still cautious, still hesitant about each footfall. There are worse things out here than errant snowballs.

Bypassing a broken swing set, she slips past a picnic table and ducks inside the gutted foundation of a church. She's close now, and she allows herself a tight smile of anticipated victory. Then something snaps beneath her boot and she curses softly. Before she can move, a snowball catches her in the stomach, forcing the breath out of her lungs with a quiet oomph of surprise.

"Busted." His cheerful voice bounces off broken steel girders, wraps around the burned out husk of a car, and staggers to her ears, but she knows better than to respond. Survival in a post-apocalyptic universe has taught her much.

Leaving the dubious safety of the church, she sprints to a nearby patch of trees, matching her movements to the shifting shadows.

As far as they know, they are the only survivors, the only ones left to tell Earth's story. For three years they've lived their days surrounded by the skeletal remains of buildings, their nights surrounded by memories. She knows that the only reason they've survived this long is because they have each other. She also knows that when they are gone the human chapter of Earth's history will come to an end.

But these are things they've trained themselves not to think about. Instead they live each day as it comes, placing survival first and everything else...later. And so they spend most of their time on the move, trekking from village to village, town to town, and city to city. They have become wanderers. Nomads in a dying world.

Biting her lip in concentration, Sam slips out of the shelter of the trees and takes up a position behind an overturned pickup truck. When she's sure he hasn't seen her, she scoops up a handful of snow, patting it into shape while she plans her next move.

The first six months had been the worst. Limping home in a badly damaged Alkesh only to find that Anubis had gotten there first; realizing they were too late, that everybody and everything they'd ever known had been brutally destroyed in their absence, and, hardest of all, acknowledging that they'd failed in their final and most important mission.

Jack had taken it the hardest. For a long time they'd been afraid they would lose him to his grief. But even in the depths of his despair, Jack was the glue that kept the team together. They wouldn't leave him, wouldn't acknowledge the possibility that the darkness might claim him forever. So they'd set aside their own needs in the interests of his survival, and as hours had merged into days, days into weeks, and weeks, finally, into years, they'd slowly begun to heal.

Now there are moments when laughter softens the silence.

She sneaks a peak around the crumpled fender of the truck, and he's there, not twenty feet away. He's got a stockpile of ammunition, and he's tossing a snowball from hand to hand while he scans the area. He doesn't know she's behind him, isn't aware that he's being watched, so she takes her time, shaping and stacking half a dozen snowballs while she keeps an eye on him.

When he glances at his watch, she knows he's starting to wonder what's going on.

"Come on out, Carter. I promise I'll be good." There's a hint of concern in his voice, but he's still tossing the snowball back and forth, and she knows that if she gives him a target, he won't miss.

Hefting a snowball of her own, she turns it over and over in her hand while she tests the wind and eyes the distance between them. She holds a second in her other hand.

Seconds later, the first snowball smashes between his shoulders. She follows it with another. Then a third. He's reacting now, charging towards her with snowballs in each hand. She shrieks. Runs. Leaps over a fire hydrant. Dashes past burned out cars, an abandoned gas station, and on to what used to be a corner grocery store. When she slingshots off a telephone pole she almost doesn't see Daniel in time to dodge around him.

"Sam...what are you doing?"

There's no time to answer. His face, startled and amused, flashes past and is gone. "Run!" She shouts, breathless and laughing. "Run!"

The cold is making her eyes water and she doesn't see the mailbox until it's too late. She crashes into it. Lands with a thud and rolls, still laughing, to her feet.

The mistake costs her her advantage.

Jack dives, catches her ankles, and they both go down in a flurry of snow and laughter. Kicking out, she tries to get away, but he's fast, and she's out of breath, and he has her pinned to the ground before she can squirm away. She gasps for air, grinning up at him, and he's laughing, too. Full out, caution be damned, side-splitting laughter that she doesn't think she's ever heard.

The sight makes her catch her breath, and she's staring at him, and he must notice because he stops laughing, his hips still pressing hers into the snow, their hands still tangled above her head. There's a moment of sudden awareness, a heartbeat of breathless tension, and then he's kissing her, and he's warm, and strong, and safe, and he tastes so good that she doesn't care about the snow in her hair or the icy slush that's soaking through her clothes. All she cares about is making the most of this one perfect moment.

When a shadow falls across them, he drags his lips away from hers and they look up to see Teal'c standing over them shaking his head.

"This behavior," he says solemnly, "is most unseemly." But there's a sparkle in his eyes and the corners of his mouth twitch suspiciously.

Daniel is there, too, and he's giving both of them that raised eyebrow look that he reserves for the truly insane moments in their lives.

She catches Jack's eye, and in an instant, a plan takes shape. They roll apart, and then they're on their feet, advancing on Daniel and Teal'c with fistfuls of snow and wicked grins.

Six months later when a Tok'ra cargo ship delivers them to the beta site the new President wants to know how they survived.

Jack's eyes twinkle as he answers for all of them. "Teamwork, Sir."