Merry Christmas & Shipmas Brooke. I hope you like it.
Sam Carter couldn't sleep. Which was unusual for her; she was a seasoned front line officer. Usually she could sleep anywhere in any situation within seconds of closing her eyes. But tonight something was bothering her; the problem was she couldn't for the life of her figure out what it was.
The Colonel approached her as she lay on top of her bedroll. His was next to hers as it always was. He'd finished his watch, having Teal'c relieve him. There was no fire, but they rarely allowed themselves that luxury even on a planet that seemed as harmless as this one. It didn't matter though; the night was warm, too warm to be inside the sleeping bag.
It was dark, but the night sky was clear and brilliantly lit. She closed her eyes as he neared, letting herself enjoy the way she could almost sense him. He was silent as he moved; his years in black ops evident. But she didn't need to hear him to know where he was, she could feel him. Her eyes snapped open and she saw him seat himself on his bedroll, his back to her as he untied his boot laces. She'd never really thought about it before, this sixth sense she seemed to have in regard to him. Her brows creased together as she wondered when it had developed. She wasn't sure. She tried to rationalise it. Perhaps it was a natural development because of their years in the field together. Maybe all Special Ops teams felt it after serving together for a while. She considered asking the Colonel if he thought it was normal but some deep part of her that she refused to acknowledge screamed its protest and she discarded the idea. Still, it made sense didn't it? They worked closely; they relied on each other for their lives. But her treacherous mind couldn't help but point out that this sense didn't seem to extend to Daniel or Teal'c, or anyone else she'd ever known.
She watched him as he put his boots and combat vest aside but kept his weapon close before lying down on his back, his head cushioned by an arm. His bedroll was so close to hers that if she had been lying on her back instead of on her side facing him their arms would surely have been touching. Suddenly she found herself wondering if she could roll on her back subtly. Her breath caught in her throat momentarily as she realised what she was thinking – she wanted to be touching him!
"Carter?" His voice rumbled deep in his chest as he drawled out her name quietly.
She felt her chest suddenly infused with warmth. And told herself that it had nothing to do with his irresistible, resonant voice saying her name or the way she could feel his presence practically surrounding her in comfort; and she ignored the unbidden memories that arose of those few times he'd embraced her and how safe she'd felt in his arms.
"Sir?" She whispered her reply.
"Shouldn't you be asleep Major?" He asked, opening his eyes and turning his head to look at her, a slight smirk on his lips.
Her promotion was still relatively recent and he enjoyed saying her new rank, it always made her eyes light up a little more and her lips quirk up just a fraction. Jack was sure she didn't even know she was doing it, but he liked to watch it happen. And there it was. He felt that now familiar swelling in his chest. He knew what it was, but ignored it anyway. And yet he was like an addict. He'd been going to great lengths just to get a smile out of her ever since the first time he'd seen one. It was the very day they'd met. He'd seen her smile – or more like stifled smirk – at his smart ass comment during that first briefing. He was intrigued, as straight laced as she seemed, that she would find his ribbing of Samuels amusing. At first he'd told himself he was gathering Intel on his new Second; that he just wanted to know what kind of sense of humour she had…if she had any at all, she was after all, a scientist. But he quickly discovered her sense of humour was a lot like his own and somehow making her smile seemed an integral part of his day. Then he found that her smile made his chest ache in the sweetest way and he liked the feeling and wanted to repeat it as much as possible. There was just something about seeing Carter happy; it was like…well, it was like being happy. As though her own happiness would somehow infect him like some wacky virus and if he was capable of being giddy – which he most certainly was not – than he may be tempted to explain it that way. Of course it seemed to go the other way too, if she was unhappy then so was he. He understood enough to suspect what was happening to him, but Jack was nothing if not the master of denial. That is until he thought he'd lost her for sure. God damn Tok'ra! It was like a slap in the face, or a staff blast to the gut, and he was forced to acknowledge to himself just how damn important those smiles were to him.
"Can't sleep sir." She said.
He turned his face back toward the sky. "You can see the stars better tonight." He said, knowing he wouldn't be able to sleep either, not while she was still awake next to him. She'd either have to go for her watch or go to sleep first.
"Yeah," She agreed, shifting onto her back, an arm slung over her stomach. Her elbow connected with his but neither one of them moved. "This is one of very few nights that there isn't at least one of the 2 moons in the night sky. Their orbits are such that…"
"Ahh, Carter…!" He growled, and he saw her smirk out of the corner of his eye. "That's why you can't sleep you know, you think too much."
"So…where's Earth?" He asked, and turned his head to watch her. Her brow furrowed for just a split second as she thought before her arm shot up. But not the arm he could feel pressed against his elbow and he found himself intensely relieved that she hadn't removed it. He turned back to the sky to follow the direction her hand was pointing.
"Well you can't actually see our sun from here but it would be there." She told him pointing out into the dark alien sky.
There was a groan coming from the dark lump across from them that was Daniel. "Could you two keep it down, some of us are trying to sleep." He grumbled. A sleepy Daniel was not a happy Daniel, and he'd gone without coffee for at least 6 hours!
Sam's arm dropped as she replied sheepishly "Sorry Daniel."
"Yeah, sorry about that Daniel." Jack replied loudly, continuing after a pause. "Night Daniel." Another pause. "Don't let the bed bugs bite."
"Sir." Sam whispered her admonishment and Daniel rolled over muttering something that sounded suspiciously like 'ass!'
Jack watched as Sam's shoulders began to shake in silent laughter, her lips pressed together as she tried to suppress her grin. He'd never known anyone who could laugh without a sound like that before. He could feel the trembling against his arm where they were still connected and he felt that urge to wrap his arms around her, to know what it felt like to hold her while she laughed against his chest.
"No giggling Major." He whispered and her arms and shoulders shook once more before she settled.
"Yes sir." She said, unable to wipe the grin completely off her face.
Jack turned back to the sky. Suddenly he didn't really want her to go to sleep. He wanted to keep that smile right where it was, and he wanted to see and feel the vibrations of her sweet laughter.
"It occurs to me Carter," He said very softly so as not to disturb the slumbering Daniel Bear again. "We don't have names for the constellations on all these planets we visit."
Sam turned to look at him in confusion. "We haven't even mapped the skies to most planets sir."
"Yeah well, I say as the first humans we should get to name 'em." She smiled again; a very small smile and Jack sensed it rather than saw it. He raised an arm and pointed into the night sky. "Like that one…that's Homer."
Sam's smile broadened as her eyes were helplessly drawn to the point in the night sky Jack was indicating. Her brows creased together. "I don't see Homer sir." She tilted her head, "Maybe a duck."
"A…oh for-cryin'-out-loud." He grumbled quietly and then he shifted. Shuffling closer to her so there heads, still facing the sky, were only inches apart and their arms were now pressed close. "That's not a duck!" He used his other arm, finger extended, to point out the stars he was referring to. "Look. See, that's his head. And those stars there are the couch he's sitting on and that's his arm holding a donut."
She giggled silently against him and only then did he realise how close he was to her. He turned his head and found her cheek, her ear, her neck far to close to him. But he couldn't move away from her now, not without her realising what effect she had on him. And that was unacceptable. She could never know.
The man could always make her laugh but her smile faltered a little when she sensed his head turn. She was enjoying the innocent contact he'd inadvertently created when he'd moved closer to her in order to make his point. But now she could feel his warm breath tickle her ear, and wash over the skin at her neck. She blinked, trying hard to control her breathing as her heart rate shot up. It was the same way on Hathor's mock base a few months ago. She had revealed too much then; unable to step away from him. She'd nearly cringed at herself as she'd heard the breathlessness in her own voice when she'd asked if they could remove the memory devices. She hoped that he simply put it down to pain and adrenalin and didn't suspect the real reason for her hitched breathing. She couldn't let him know what she was feeling. Hell even she didn't really know, but whatever it was, simply attraction or, or…something else; that was her problem, not his, and he could not ever find out! So she kept her smile plastered to her face and her breathing even.
"If you say so sir." She whispered, thanking God that the situation allowed her to whisper, she didn't think she could actually vocalise yet.
He quickly returned his gaze to the sky. "Fine, you find one then."
She tilted her head as she considered the sky. "There's a rabbit."
"Right there." She said, extending her arm again for a moment.
"That's not a rabbit Carter, it's a hamster." He felt her body shake against him so hard that this time she couldn't seem to prevent the huff of breath as she laughed.
"I see a dog." Jack claimed, and clarified, raising his own arm at the sky as she tilted her head a fraction closer to his. "Those stars right there."
"A dog with two tails?" She asked, her whispered voice full of laughter.
"It's an alien planet Carter. Hence the alien dog." He replied, with a flourish of his wrist, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. He knew he was enjoying the feel of her laughter and the soft giggling that escaped her far too much but he couldn't make himself stop…Carter was happy.
"There's an F-15." She said.
Jack's eyebrows hit his hairline in surprise as he searched out the stars she was indicating. It was easy to forget that this woman was an accomplished and experienced combat pilot. He turned his head to look at her but immediately turned back as he realised just how close they were.
"You sure that's not an F-16 ?" He argued.
She smiled broadly and pointed. "No, look you can see the twin fins."
A thought struck him. "Do you miss it?"
"Sometimes. But it doesn't really compare to going through the gate. Still, I visit Peterson any chance I get."
He turned his head to look at her in surprise, "You do?!"
His astonished voice prompted Sam to face him before she answered. They were face to face now, their noses only an inch apart; she fought to keep breathing. Jack found himself unable to move away from her. She felt a fluttering in her stomach and she realised to her dismay that she wanted to kiss him. She swallowed, hoping the darkness would cover the movement of her throat, and forced the words out in a whisper.
"I have to keep up my pilot's licence."
He could feel her gentle breath touch his face as she spoke, but the words broke the spell and he turned back toward the night sky again, Sam turning away after him.
There was silence for a time, neither one daring to speak, but not moving away either. And neither realising that their thoughts mirrored the other's as they each fought to clamp down on the inappropriate feelings that had arisen, and hoped that the other hadn't noticed. Jack, being well practiced in emotional suppression, recovered first.
"Cake…birthday cake." He said.
Sam blinked. "Sir?"
It was the first time she'd called him 'sir' since they started their star gazing game and Jack found it almost stung his ears. "There," He pointed toward the sky again. "Birthday cake."
And just like that Sam forgot her fears, the embarrassment disappeared and a wide grin split her face. "Oh yeah, it has three candles." She replied, also raising her hand.
He felt the tension ooze out of his body as he saw her dimpled cheek out of the corner of his eye.
It was a game Jack had started that night, many years ago when Sam couldn't sleep. They had played often after that; whenever she had trouble sleeping off world Jack would start the game and he would hear and feel her laugh and they would both fall asleep with a happy glow in their chests. Ten years later and Sam and Jack were still facing the stars and making up constellations together, the way some people found shapes in clouds
Jack gazed up at the glowing stars. "Is that a duck?"
Sam's quiet giggle reached his ears and her hair tickled his cheek as she lay next to him. "No it's a dinosaur." He grinned.
"I see a cat." She claimed.
"A cat with three ears?"
"Maybe it's an alien cat." She laughed and turned her head to face him.
He turned too, his dimples deepening as he smiled at her before pressing his lips to hers for a soft kiss. The small body lying between them shifted slightly and mumbled restlessly. They turned back to the stars.
"Look, a slice of pie." He indicated. "And a fork."
"How can you still think about pie?"
"Sam, there's always room for pie." He defended.
"There's a squirrel." She said.
"Hey, it's eating my pie." Her shoulders shook and she had to bury her head in his shoulder to stifle the sound of her laughter. He cherished the feeling of her there every time and kissed the top of her head.
"She's asleep Jack." Sam whispered to her husband.
His warm eyes shifted to the child nestled between them. He sat up slowly and gently scooped her up from the carpeted floor and into his arms, carrying her to her bed.
Sam pulled back the bed covers and he put her down slowly. She opened her blue eyes and gazed up at him sleepily. " 'Night Daddy." She mumbled as he tucked the blankets around her.
"Goodnight sweetheart. Did you have a good Christmas?" He asked, stroking the curly golden locks away from her eyes
"Mmhm," She nodded. "I'm glad Santa gave me the glowing stars Daddy."
Jack grinned at his 3 year old daughter. "That's good."
"Love you Daddy." She said as her eyes began to close.
Jack stood up and leaned over her, his heart full. "I love you too Gracie." He replied as he placed a tender kiss on her forehead.
He turned to find his wife watching him in the dim lighting of the room, a soft smile on her lips. He leaned into her and kissed the side of her neck before pulling away and leaving the room.
Sam sat on the side of the bed and whispered her own goodnight as she kissed her child's cheek. "Goodnight Grace, sweet dreams."
They sat curled up on the couch together. It had been a good day, but a long one and Sam figured she'd had one too many helpings of Christmas pudding. She raised her head from its comfortable perch on Jack's shoulder to sip at her hot chocolate.
"I told Daniel we'd meet him at the hospital tomorrow morning. Visiting hours aren't till 1000 hours." She told him.
"Have they chosen a name yet?" He asked, as he leaned over to nuzzle her neck.
She smiled contentedly. "Not yet. Daniel wanted Egeria but Elizabeth vetoed it telling him there was no way they were naming their child after anyone that had the remotest chance of being an enemy alien."
He chuckled against her skin, a deep, rich sound. It did amazing things to her blood pressure. She turned her head and their lips met. He took the cup from her hand as his lips caressed hers, placing it on the coffee table before framing her face in his hands.
He pulled away from her slightly leaning his forehead against hers. "You know I've been thinkin' Sam."
She grinned at him. "Uh oh" She teased rather breathlessly.
He kissed her again. "Do you wanna hear it or not?" He growled.
"Uh huh." She replied, beginning to lose control of her higher brain functions. Only Jack's kisses and touches could make Sam Carter stop thinking.
"I figured maybe we could start on Grace's birthday present. She's been wanting a brother or sister for a while now." He gave her that cheeky lopsided grin that she couldn't resist.
"Now that, General Jack O'Neill…retired… is the best idea I've heard all day!" She replied with a smirk.
Jack pulled back a little more to get a better look at her. "Really?!"
Her smile broadened as she nodded and he pulled her face to his lips, kissing her heatedly.
A/N: This story was written for Brooke, and with her kind permission I've posted it to share with our fellow S/J shippers for our Shipmas celebrations over on GW.
Please review...reviews are gifts...and 'tis the season ; )