To all those who have taken the trouble to read this, I thank you and to those who have gone that step further and made time to review, my thanks isn't enough, but it is all I can give. Know it is from the heart. And to Nell my gratitude is unending. You're brilliant beyond words.
(I know I had mentioned to some of you that there were 15 chapters - well now you know I am hopeless at maths!) I so enjoyed taking this ride with you all.
Suppression Chapter 14
Behind the drawn curtains, a light could be seen indicating that Sam was still up and had not retired to bed.
Having attempted every known strategy to evade this duty and having failed to persuade the two male members of his team, once again Jack found himself facing the closed door to one of Sam's sanctuaries. This, more than her quarters on base, was her territory and Jack more than ever had qualms about being there.
Face scrunched into uncertainty, Jack continued to move from one foot to the other.
Looking past him and to either side, Sam could see no one else. She was surprised. She hadn't expected him to appear here at her door.
'What now?' she thought unkindly looking at her watch pointedly.
"It's kind of late, Sir."
"Funny you should say that, Carter. This won't take a moment...Er...can I come in?"
She actually looked as if she might say no, but in the end her manners, if not her training, got the better of her, and she stepped back, though if Jack wasn't mistaken there was definitely a sigh of resignation.
Moving straight to the mantelpiece, Jack reached for one of the framed photographs adorning the shelf; it was one of Sam and the rest of SG-1 at a much happier time when undercurrents of emotion were well hidden and open smiles were the order of the day.
Jack found himself sighing at the simplicity of the scene. If only...
He turned, finding Sam standing arms folded, definitely on her guard. No way was she going to help him out. Where, he wondered, was the sweet, amenable officer who always aimed to please?
Taking a deep breath, he stated softly, "I screwed up, screwed up big time, Carter."
It was as if he were facing a stone wall.
'You're not going to help me out here, are you?'
Pacing seemed to help him form the words he had such difficulty forming and now he moved from fireplace to window and back, up and down, down and up, picture frame still twisting and turning in his hands as he attempted to explain his actions of the past.
"When I overheard you talking in your lab I overreacted - I thought you were referring to me. I...I didn't know about...well, anyway--."
Jack frowned. "I told you, I thought you were talking about me."
Sam shook her head, "No, why did you overreact?"
Swallowing nervously, Jack was aghast that Sam had got to the crux of his problem so quickly. As his eyes widened in obvious distress, Sam decided to be civilized and offered him a seat.
"I'll stand, thanks."
But seeing her exasperated expression - he could see she thought he was being difficult - he moved to one of the cream cord sofas and lowered himself as carefully as he could.
"You were saying, Colonel."
"You wouldn't happen to have a beer would you, Carter?"
She stared at him fixedly. Yes, it was a delaying tactic, but she could afford to be magnanimous under the circumstances. And anyway, it meant he'd put down the silver frame he'd been playing with ever since he'd arrived; she'd almost been tempted to snatch it out of his hands a time or two in the past few minutes so distracting did she find it in his hands.
He noticed she drank nothing herself. The social niceties went only so far. So the hope that she'd get blindingly drunk and be incapable of comprehending his explanation flew out of the window along with any other hope he'd had that he could avoid this onerous duty.
Bracing himself, he considered how best to begin his explanation, aware that the logical option would be to start at the point he'd been standing outside her laboratory, however the clamminess of his skin and the intense roiling in his stomach made him wish he'd not slugged back the beer so quickly. And he might possibly have made his excuses and left if it hadn't been for Daniel and Teal'c waiting outside, so there was nothing for it but to persevere.
But perseverance only went so far and when he felt his stomach recoil painfully, at first he thought it was just the whole feeling of discomfort and wishing he were anywhere but in Sam's house. But as said discomfort turned to something much stronger, he knew that he had either to make it to Sam's bathroom at a run or disgrace himself by puking all over her favorite handmade Turkish carpet.
She could hear the sound of violent retching from outside the closed bathroom door and called out.
"'S'okay, just give...me...a minute,"
Jack gasped before proceeding to expel more of the contents of his stomach.
Ignoring the unspoken order to stay away, Sam pushed open the door to find Jack down on his knees, with his silver head leaning over the bowl of the toilet. Quickly taking a small towel, she ran it under the tap and placed it against the back of his neck.
Further spasms of retching interrupted his order, but it didn't matter, Sam had no intention of leaving him in the state he was other than to fetch her cell phone.
"I'm going to phone Janet."
His protest was brief but vehement.
And then realizing Sam would need a reason, he turned his head, his grey paleness evident as he explained sheepishly,
"She'll be pissed."
"From what I know, she's pissed with you already, Sir."
Attempting to roll his eyes, he realized that would be a huge mistake the way he was feeling and stilled the movement.
"Don't remind me...She kind of...confined me to base."
This time it was Sam who did the eye rolling.
"And that would be because..." She waited expectantly.
"How should I know?"
He swallowed convulsively feeling another rising in his gut, wishing he were anywhere but with Sam.
"Maybe she wanted to stick it to me for gating out when I was a little sick."
"Or maybe it had something to do with you actually being sick - strange as it may sound - ever think of that one, Sir?"
Her sarcasm was damning and Jack groaned softly, allowing himself to settle with his back against the side of the bath, yet still close enough to lunge for the toilet if necessary.
Seeing the thin film of sweat on his pale features, Sam lost no time in making the call, ignoring the look of betrayal her CO threw her.
Having given a brief rundown of Jack's symptoms, Sam proceeded to listen intently to what Janet had to say.
"Okay, yes...yes I understand. Mmmm, yes I have...No problem, will do."
She snickered softly giving Jack an appraising look then continued,
"Oh, I'll be sure to pass that on," before snapping shut her cell.
Not wasting time, she leant down saying,
"Come on, Sir. Let's get you up. Think you can stand?"
"Not going to the infirmary,"
He muttered thickly while allowing Sam to take his arm over her shoulder.
As he gained his feet he swayed dizzily, but Sam maintained her tight hold and coaxed him to the spare room.
"No infirmary just yet. It's a bed here for you."
Lowering him gently, he ended up perched precariously on the edge of the bed as she stooped to remove his shoes while wondering at how fickle fate was at playing its hand. How many times had she considered the prospect of Jack O'Neill and her being in the same bedroom? How many times had she fantasized about having him in her bed? Too many to count if she were totally honest, but she hadn't considered the possibility of the man being as sick as a dog at the time. She decided the gods must truly be laughing their asses off!
He awoke to a blissfully darkened room, a damp cloth across his clammy forehead and for a second he wondered where he was until a vague memory of being brought to this room returned and with it the unsettling remembrance of protesting when Sam had tried to remove his clothes.
He recalled she had mentioned having a brother and being au fait with the whole undressing thing. Jack couldn't remember what his reply to that could possibly have been. It didn't bear thinking about.
But it had obviously been a wasted effort because he realized he was now down to his boxers and nothing else under the comforter. Sighing at the humiliation of it all, he at least remembered in time not to shake his head in case it resulted in further protests by his body. Staying perfectly still was his best option and he obeyed his instincts, closing his eyes and falling back to sleep again.
"Janet said it was an adverse reaction to one of the shots you'd had and apparently she'd been aware of the possibility, hence her 'request' for you to stay on base."
Sitting up in bed, Jack was beginning to look a little more human, though he still appeared pale and gaunt. He was attempting to swallow some re-hydration liquid which was the pits. He couldn't help but note that Sam wasn't being in the least bit sympathetic.
"Why the hell didn't she tell me that in the first place?" he grumbled testily.
"Oh, I expect Janet will have lots to tell you when she next sees you, Sir," Sam replied smugly, receiving a scowl for her nerve.
"Thank you for that, Carter; it's just what I wanted to hear... Be sure to remind me about this when your next evaluation comes up, won't you?"
Sam grinned, pleased to see Jack looking more alert and venting his own dry humor.
"Think you could manage some toast?"
"No, but I bet that's not the right answer."
Her grin grew wider still.
"...So, er...where are my clothes?"
Indicating a small pile of fresh clothing at the foot of the bed, she said, "I'll leave you to get dressed and go prepare some breakfast."
It must have been the little devil inside him, because before he could prevent it, he'd asked,
"So, no offer of help getting them back on, eh?"
Turning her head to look back as she exited the bedroom, she answered snippily,
"It's much more fun taking them off!"
She disappeared leaving him stunned.
Swallowing her giggle of amusement she increased her pace, pondering the look she'd seen on his face. It wasn't often a riposte of hers against the Colonel's wit was so effective. Her smile was almost ear to ear.
As he made his way down the stairs and through her hallway he was still trying to come to terms with having a cheeky 2IC when his eyes alighted on the official-looking envelope on the side table. His frown returned. Pausing, he took a hard look at it as if he were able to read the contents through the cover.
'Crap.' He knew it was now or never. There was no going back and this time no one was forcing his hand.
With renewed resolve he strode into the kitchen. With her back to him, waiting for the toaster to spout its contents, she didn't see his face with its mix of disquiet and determination.
"Carter, I was freaked out when I heard you saying you didn't feel the same and I thought you meant me. I thought...hell, I thought you'd realized how I felt and I...I..."
Scrubbing a hand though his dishevelled hair, he continued,
"I...I didn't want to compromise your career or--."
"--make a fool of yourself because it seemed I'd rejected you," Sam offered dryly.
Jack's eyes shot to hers in surprise then skittered away, a scowl marring his features.
"No!...Yes...Well kind of...I was pretty--."
Sam considered she was being most helpful finishing his sentences off for him.
Again he frowned, unused to these interruptions.
"No! Yes, but that's because I was confused and I didn't..."
His voice trailed off finding this whole experience more difficult than facing General Hammond when he'd screwed up royally.
It was her turn to be surprised and her eyes widened attractively.
Jack continued, watching her carefully,
"I'm an adult."
His expression turned wry at the dubious look she threw his way.
"You know what I mean. We can work through this thing, Carter."
She didn't mind that he'd reverted to his normal address for her.
"What I'm trying to say is you don't need to leave! And just because I find you...ah, crap... I'm not going to be a problem, okay?" he stated tightly.
She sounded just a tad too smug and suddenly Jack stilled.
"Are you messing with me, Carter?"
"What makes you think that, Colonel?"
Her eyes were dancing like fireflies in the night air.
He groaned softly, hands clenched firmly at his sides. He thrust them into his pockets aiming for the impossibly casual.
"I'm trying to make things right here, Sam."
Twice! He'd called her Sam twice. She almost did a jig. Almost, then taking pity on his dejection, she uttered gently, "There's nothing to put right."
His vulnerability made her want to take him in her arms and haul him back to her bed. Instead she smiled warmly.
"You're. Not. Leaving."
He'd received her silent message loud and clear.
"But the envelope."
It was her turn to look confused until she realized what he was referring to.
"Oh that. It's just confirmation of the revoking of my original orders to be posted elsewhere."
"And you didn't think to tell me?"
It was also her turn to look slightly contrite.
"I was getting round to it."
He looked less than certain.
"So I didn't have to come here."
Sam smiled, showing her perfect teeth, her left eyebrow raised.
"And I didn't have to get into trouble with Doc...even more than I am...And I didn't have to have you--."
He dropped his head into his hands and swallowed painfully.
Taking pity on him, Sam advised,
"Er, you should eat some toast, Sir."
"Can I ask you one thing?"
He raised plaintive eyes to hers, milking it for everything he could.
"Doesn't it bother you that I...well, that I..." He took a deep breath. "What I'm trying to say is--."
"Look, Sir, you should know there's only one man I'm interested in and when the time and the regulations permit, I'll be there for him. Until then..."
"Doesn't it strike you as strange that Jack went into the infirmary whistling?"
"Indeed, Daniel Jackson."
"Do you think...?"
"Indeed I do."
I know you shippers may have wanted something a little more tangible, but I've gone with the subtle this time round. Next time...