Author's note: Ah, the end! Thanks for reading, reviewing and hopefully enjoying. I had loads of fun writing it!
"So. The hills are alive, Carter?"
"Yes, sir," Sam answered quickly. She'd almost lost herself in the memory; hopefully it wasn't a hold-over from her 'trip'. "And that was it, sir. Once the entity and I figured out how to fix the cover, we were good to go," Sam finished. The little chocolate square in her hand was very soft now. She saw the general watching her hands, then her face. Uh-oh.
"So you 'talked' with the planet, Carter, and fixed things," Jack said, still fiddling with his own square. She nodded. He pinned her with his shrewd eyes; he suspected she was holding something back (Of course she was!) "And you all agree that contact should be very limited because the 'planet' is allergic to humans?" He turned from her at last to Daniel and Teal'c. The two nodded in agreement with her, still exhausted from their part in the mission. Jack leveled a piercing look at her again, seemed to want to say more but shrugged instead. "Ok, then. Spa planet: big 'only if doomsday' for settling," he said, concluding the meeting.
Sam almost sighed in relief but naturally that would have been too easy.
"Uh, Sam thought we ought to name the planet," Daniel said. Sam glared at him but the rare mischief sparking in his eyes warned her it was to no avail. "Wants to call it, Whimsy."
It was a trick of perception, of course, but Sam thought the general turned to her in elegant slow motion. His eyebrow (yes, that one) arched in mock seriousness. She glanced at Daniel with a promise of retribution. For now though, she faced her CO and braced for his snark. Then she felt the object in her hand and relaxed.
Got this, she thought, waiting for it.
"Whimsy, you say?" Jack's latent Irish lilt in evidence. "Bit flighty, wouldn't you think, colonel?" He asked her. His long fingers tapped the table absently. Sam remembered the taste of them. Jack frowned at her expression. "Carter?"
"I was thinking it would be unofficial, sir, not quite like Daniel said it," Sam replied. "If it had the right population, it could be like a paradise," she said. She glanced at Jack and then began to unwrap the candy. "Or a place to have very real daydreams."
Jack did a comical double take at her. She pretended not to notice, but oh, did she!
"Day dreams?" he asked. His eyes were drawn to the open square in front of her. Sam dipped her pinky into the soft mass and put it in her mouth with obvious relish. She could see him staring. He cleared his throat. "Real day dreams."
"Oh, yeah. On Whimsy you can, well, pretty much make your dreams come true," she replied artlessly. She poked the square and proceeded to nibble it off her finger again. Slowly.
Two hours ago:
"Mmm…" Sam said into Jack's open lips where their tongues sought and found the chocolate each had eaten. The sweet confection was gone but their lips remained in gentle, persistent search mode. Her thoughts steamy, Sam relaxed against him as he held her face in his hands. Both breathless at last, he eased back to look into her eyes; she felt like beauty, like a precious jewel, a treasure under his regard. "You're just thinking that," she murmured.
"And feeling it," Jack said softly. Suddenly he was still, unnaturally still for a second, then he was back. "The new iris is done. Daniel is dialing the gate now," he told her. Sam felt her spirits dampen. When she looked away his finger eased her back to look at him. "I'm everything you know about me, Sam. You're a scientist, you observe and record," he said as his finger tapped her gently on the forehead. "Trust yourself, and you'll have whatever you want."
Sam was caught in a fantastical moment of shimmering contentment. Shamrocks leaped and somersaulted all over and around them. Jack was the wonderful, solid assurance in it, just the way she's known him to be. But now she knew she was the same for him. It was a headier awareness than the scented steam gave her.
"You're not usually so talkative, Jack. If I had more chocolate…" she said, teasing his lip with her tongue. He grinned against her lips and then lifted ahand that was covered in molten chocolate. Sam looked down to see they were immersed in it instead of the mud! "Oh, you didn't – "
"Oh, but I did. Chocolate, anyone?" Jack laughed, his eyes matching the color of the sweet liquid. Sam squealed as he pulled her close and plunged them into the warm liquid.
Eventually, when she heard Daniel trying to radio, they were back in the wonderful mud in no time, and then in a hot spring of clear, fragrant water. Later she dressed in her incredibly clean, crisp BDUs!
On their way back to the tree line he'd carried her on his back, sometimes galloping like a horse for her amusement. Then they'd walked hand in hand talking amicably or in their usual banter.
I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream –
Sam giggled. Why not a cartoon ditty, too? And one so very appropriate! Jack watched her, a knowing grin on his face. She felt her jaw drop – that was HIS thought! She laughed all the way back, their hands swinging happily as they tried to remember the words.
Then they arrived. Jack's kind, affectionate gaze kept any remorse for leaving at bay. In fact she felt incredibly light hearted and hopeful. The trees began to bend, providing an opening to the clearing.
Sam barely noticed it. She took his strong hand and pressed a kiss in his palm. He closed it as if to keep it there.
"Remember, Sam. I'm everything you know already. I wish you could stay and so does the planet, but it won't be lonely anymore," he said. Sam saw him regard his hand with surprising tenderness.
She guessed at what he was thinking. Well, they swapped enough of each other if he chose to try. Jack smiled gratefully at her. She wished him – them - well.
"Whimsy. This will be my favorite place to think of you," Sam said in return, smiling up at him. "You'll be…ok?" She asked, turning around after a few steps toward the new opening. What she saw caused her to smile and then laugh. She'd laughed so much, cared and been cared about so much here. If it was all in her mind, well then it was a damned good place to be!
"See ya, Sam!" Jack called jauntily. His feet and then legs were covered with the cavorting shamrocks. In his hand was – a fishing pole! The next she knew, he went into a high-speed spin and vanished beneath the field. In seconds he was gone without a trace.
That's when Teal'c popped through the trees and found her, immaculate and smiling.
"Yeah? So, did you try to make one of your dreams come true, Sam?" Daniel asked. Sam recalled that he'd asked Jack a similar question once.
Maybe one day she'd share the real/surreal nature of the trip with them, when she couldn't be hauled into psych counseling and put on stand-down, that is.
And I know it's true that visions are seldom what they seem,
She took a moment to coat her finger with the last of her chocolate. Then she raised her eyes deliberately on Jack as she tapped her tongue on the finger and leisurely licked it.
But I know you, I know what you'd do -
"Um-hm," Sam said around her finger. She smiled a little (so she wouldn't grin) at his stunned look. His hand gripped his own candy as he watched her enjoy her treat. He licked his lip.
"Sam, what was it?" Daniel asked, intrigued. He glanced at Jack, puzzled, then back at Sam, oblivious to the new tension. Teal'c studied the two, and with his enigmatic smile, folded his hands on the table without comment.
You'll love me at once, the way you did once upon a dream.
She stood and looked down at the unsettled general who stared at her lips as she ate off the last of her candy. Jack lounged back and alternately watched her and his square thoughtfully.
"A sweet one, Daniel," Sam said mysteriously, then smiled at Jack. "Very sweet."
Whee! And whew, that's done. Not quite the story-in-a-day I hoped to do but, hey. I'd still love to know what you think of the March Madness! entry. Please review, and thanks for reading.