A Day Too Soon

Jack finds Sam lying on a large flat boulder, half under the dancing spotty shade of a tree. Her legs are bent and hanging off the edge, toes dipping into the water below with the languid swish of her foot. She has on the same insanely brief pair of shorts she's been wearing the entire trip, today paired with a white tank top that's partially pulled up to expose the smooth stretch of her stomach to the sun. Her arms are draped up above her head, eyes closed.

He's not sure he's ever seen her quite this much at equilibrium before. It makes him wish this little vacation could go on forever.

"You have to go back," she surmises, not moving from her position.

He wonders how she can know that just from the sound of his footsteps, unless Woolsey's panicked voice had somehow carried all the way from the jumper. "I really wish I didn't have to."

She peers up at him, one eye still scrunched shut against the light. "Are you asking for asylum?"

"You offering?"

She smiles, sitting up and holding out a hand to him. "I think I could very easily get used to you being here."

He settles on the rock behind her and she leans back against his chest. "You don't think I'd get in the way?"

"Maybe I like having you in my way," she says with smirk, twisting slightly to look back at him.

He wraps his arms around her, his fingers meeting with the sun-warmed skin of her stomach. He's content for a while just to watch the thin trickle of the waterfall radiating ripples across the surface of the small pond, to listen to her soft sigh of contentment, but the knowledge of his imminent departure makes the temptation of her skin too much to pass up.

He runs his lips along the soft skin at the base of her neck, his tongue darting out to taste the mild salt of her skin and her head rolls back against his shoulder, offering him better access. He continues to move his way across the top of her shoulder, sliding the strap of her tank top down and out of the way. When she makes a soft sound, her fingers digging into his thigh in response, he grabs her waist and urges her to turn slightly until her feet lift up, the cool water dripping down his shin as her legs slide over his.

She's more or less sitting in his lap now and he wastes no time leaning in to kiss her, finding her already halfway there, her hand sliding around the back of his neck, urging him closer.

The kiss gains momentum until he finally reluctantly pulls back with a groan. "I really need to get around to retiring one of these days."

She makes a muffled sound akin to a huff of disbelief against his throat. "Like I haven't heard that one before."

He ignores the quip, refusing to be derailed. "I'll go back and quit and smuggle myself back over on the Daedalus. Caldwell owes me one."

She laughs, a warm throaty sound that makes his plan sound saner by the moment. When he continues to just stare at her, her eyes widen.

"Are you serious?"

He holds on to the fantasy for a moment, playing it out in his mind. There's more than enough cold reality to douse it and he sighs, lowering his face to her sun-warmed hair. "I don't like the idea of another six months slipping by."

"Yeah," she agrees, her arms tightening around him.

They both went into this with eyes open, knowing what it meant for her to take this job. Nothing is going to make that distance any easier, but Jack thinks that having seen her here now, seen the people under her command, the way they all look after each other, it might just be enough to make it bearable.

"You know," he says, "you're doing a great job here."

She leans back as if searching his face for something. There's still something a little uncertain in her expression as she looks at him. "Yeah?" she asks.

That last lingering thread of uncertainty doesn't particularly worry him. Self-doubt has always been the first thing she lets go of in a crisis, just another reason she is so damn good at what she does.

"Yeah," he says, reaching out to tug at her braid. "But you don't need me to tell you that."

"Doesn't mean it's not nice to hear," she says, looking pleased.

"Just…could you try not to get snatched off-world anymore? Consider it a personal favor."

"I'll see what I can do," she promises, pressing a kiss to his jaw, her fingers dipping into the waist of his jeans. "So…exactly how much time do we have?"

Jack bites back a groan as her hands move lower. "Enough," he replies, reaching for her.

She smiles.