Word of the Week Challenge

Title "Try a Little Tenderness" (Weary)

Author: Tracy

Rating: PG

Pairing: Sam/Jack

Spoiler: "Divide and Conquer" episode tag

Archive: yes, please

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Author's Note: The minute I heard the Word of the Week (Weary) on the S/J Fic page, I heard this song in my head and knew what story I wanted to write! Hope you all like it. The ending of Divide and Conquer bothered me because Martouf's dead, Sam's holding his dead body, and the end had the others, including Jack just sort of milling around as if nothing was going on. That bugged me.

Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing them from MGM and TPTB for a bit.

"Oh she may be weary

Young girls they do got weary

Wearing that same old shabby dress

But when she gets weary

Try a little tenderness

Thank God, Jack thought, it was all over. The damn Zatarc detector didn't discover that the assassin was Martouf, Sam had been the one to peg that little bit of info. Genius piece of machinery. Not only had Martouf, unlike Anise, been in situations where he could have been subject to brainwashing, he had in fact, been turned into a zombie robot for the Gou'ald. Astor and Graham had died horribly before he or anyone could do anything about it, and he and Sam almost became comatose vegetables for nothing.

Jack stalked the halls of the SGC looking for Sam. After Martouf's body had been taken from her arms by the medical staff, she had just sat, covered in his blood, staring unseeing at nothing. Jack had approached her and held out a hand, saying "Sam," softly. She had looked up at him almost startled, and her eyes had filled with tears. The damn sedative Janet had given her had not quite worn off yet, and she had a drowsy, unfocused look about her. She shook her head in denial of something, everything, and rushed from the room. General Hammond had stopped him from pursuing her, saying, "Just give her some time alone, son, she's had quite a shock."

That lasted all of about ten minutes, and now Jack was beginning to panic a bit. He'd looked everyplace he could possibly think of, and still he couldn't find her. A call to the front gate confirmed she was still on the mountain somewhere, but where?

Suddenly inspiration hit him. The Zatarc detector was still in the med lab. Why hadn't he thought of that. His anxiety rose when he found the room dark and empty. He stopped to think for a moment and realized that Sam might have gone back to her on-base quarters. He practically ran down the hall in that direction.

He pushed the door to Sam's quarters open slowly. The lights were dimmed down to one small work light, and the sound of running water drew his attention to the figure standing at the sink scrubbing furiously at her hands with a brush. She made a barely repressed sound of distress, and continued scrubbing.

"Sam?" Jack said quietly as he approached.

She turned a tear-streaked face to him and went back to her scrubbing. "It doesn't matter what I do, it won't come off!" She sniffled loudly.

Hands in pockets, making a false show of casualness, Jack came closer. "What won't come off, Sam?"

She held out wet, hands, the skin an angry red. "The blood. I've tried and tried and it won't come off!"

Jack barely let her finish before he was taking her forearms in his hands. "Okay, okay, shhh. Come over here and let me take care of this, okay?" Sam was one of the strongest people he knew, but she was in shock and she was clearly completely wrung out. The drugs Fraiser had given her were still in her system, making her a bit disoriented. As he took her arms she resisted at first, but despite it all, she finally let him lead her away from the sink willingly enough.

He led her over to the bed and made her sit. Holding up a cautioning hand he repeated. "Let me take care of this. You stay put." He held her gaze until she gave a nod of acquiescence, then turned back to the sink. He took down a metal bowl from a nearby shelf and filled it with warm water and a little hand soap, shushing his fingers around in it to make a foam. He grabbed a wash cloth and towel and went back to Sam, kneeling next to her. He took one hand in his and gently wiped the warm wet cloth down her hand from wrist to fingertips. He noticed she'd practically rubbed the skin raw in her efforts to remove a stain that was no longer there. The skin on her forearms and hands was red and angry. He repeated the slow, gentle wiping a few times before repeating the process with the other hand. Then he took the towel and wrapped first one hand, then the other in it, patting it dry.

"There. See? All better." His deliberately kept his voice very soft and even.

Sam held her hands up for inspection and sniffled. "I tried and tried. It just wouldn't come off." After a moment she raised her head to meet his eyes. He wanted me to do it. He wanted me to finish it, didn't he?"

Jack didn't pretend he didn't know what she was talking about. "Yeah, he did. He trusted you, Sam. He knew you wouldn't let him suffer."

A tear escaped from the corner of Sam's eye and she let it run down her cheek without wiping it away. "He shouldn't have died like that. He deserved better. He was a good man."

Jack squeezed her hand. "Yeah. Marty was a good guy, and you're right. He didn't deserve to go like that."

Sam's lower lip trembled and then she began to cry in earnest. Jack rose up and sat on the bed next to her, taking her in his arms. After a few moments she murmured "I killed him, I killed him." in a muffled voice.

Jack held her tighter and shook her a little. "No, you didn't. Listen to me. Those damn Gou'ald killed Martouf the minute they made him into a Zatarc." He didn't mangle the word this time. "You just made sure he wouldn't suffer the same fate as Graham and Astor."

Sam didn't answer. She held him as he was holding her, and they sat quietly for some time. Then she raised her head, and moved from his embrace. She grabbed a tissue from the box next to the cot, and wiped her eyes. Then she took another to blow her nose. After al that was done she surprised Jack by leaning back against him. He put an arm around her and rested his cheek on top of her head.

"I sent a letter to my Dad letting him know what was going on, but I never heard from him." She sounded like Little Girl Lost. A little hurt, a little resentful, a lot confused.

"I'm sure as soon as he knows he'll be here, Sam."

"I'm just so tired," she murmured, a little weepy again.

"Then rest, okay?" He moved aside so she could lay down on the cot. He took a blanket from the end of the bed and covered her with it. He reached for one foot, took it in his hand and unlaced the ties to her boot, then slowly slid it off . He put her stocking clad foot back on the bed, reaching for the other boot and repeating the process. It said something for the state of Sam's exhaustion that she let him do it without comment or protest.

As he was turning to leave she said, "Have you thought that it could have just as easily been us?"

Jack turned back reluctantly. "Yeah, yeah I did think that, but it wasn't us, Sam."

"If it had been you, I could never…" Her voice broke and she stopped, trying to get herself under control."

"I know." Jack's voice was strong. "But it wasn't us, Sam, we're okay, right?"

She nodded and closed her eyes. As he turned to go again she said quietly. "Don't go."

He turned back to find her watching him with sleepy eyes. "Sam, I don't think…"

"Please, sir, I just don't want to be alone right now."

They looked at each other silently for a few moments before he nodded and came back to her. He knew it wasn't the best idea to do this when they'd just admitted their feelings for each other, but he realized he was as tired and wrung out as Sam, and damn it, he needed her as much as she apparently needed him.

He sat on the bed with his back to her, leaning down to remove his boots, hesitating when he felt a soft hand on his back.. He made sure he lay on top of the blanket, while Sam was underneath.

He took her in his arms and lay back onto his back. She snuggled against him with a sigh. He was suddenly reminded of Antarctica. Shared body heat. He held her a little tighter.

"Sam, do you think you ought to go to the infirmary?"

Sam shook her head. "No," she said, her voice breaking. "I just want to sit here with you."

"Well, I can't complain about that, now can I?" He was pleased when she huffed out a small laugh. "But don't you want to change out of those clothes?" She was still wearing the blood-stained clothing she'd been wearing when Martouf's lifeless body had been taken from her arms.

"No. Not right now, I'm just so tired," Sam said again. Jack lay a cheek on top of her head and repeated the words she'd said to him in Antarctica, "I know. It's all right. You can sleep now."

An hour later there was a commotion in the hall and a voice said loudly, "Where's my daughter? I want to see my daughter!" Followed by several muffled voices.

The door to the Sam's quarters opened and Jacob entered, clearly upset, followed by Daniel, Teal'c and Janet. They all stopped in their tracks at the sight they beheld. Colonel Jack O'Neill and Major Samantha Carter sound asleep in each other's arms. Jacob looked surprised and turned to Daniel who gave a sheepish smile and a shrug. After a moment Jacob nodded and gestured for the others to proceed him from the room. "Let's leave them alone for awhile," He said softly. "They've had a difficult day, and I can wait to see Sam now that I know she's okay."