Summary: Jack gives Sam a hand during the holidays. Full of awkward moments, fluffiness, and a smidgen of angst.

Timeframe: Season Four

Characters/Pairing: Jack/Sam

Genre: Fluff, Friendship, Romance, Angst

Rating: PG.

Note: I meant to get this done BEFORE Christmas, or atleast ON Christmas day, but wasn't able to finish. So here it is, a day late. Hope some people are still in the holiday spirit though!

Christmas Cookies

Jack shifted from side to side on the front step as Carter opened her door wearing an apron that was mostly covered in baking flour. His eyebrows went up and a faint grin spread across his face at the sight of her.

"Sir!" Carter exclaimed, smiling and wiping at a smudge of white powder on her chin. "I didn't expect you to actually come!"

Shrugging and stuffing his hands into his pockets, Jack leaned back on his heels and said, "Well, we DID promise to help you bake Christmas cookies and put your lights up and stuff."

She nodded a little sheepishly. "Yes sir. But with the storm I didn't expect…"

"Aw, nonsense! Storm, shmorm.." Jack winced at the bad pun and smiled apologetically, waving a hand in dismissal. He glanced behind him at the snow that had been falling heavily since six in the morning. There were several inches accumulated on the ground already. "What do you think four wheel drive is for anyways?" Jack grinned.

Carter nodded, then peered past him. "Daniel and Teal'c?"

Jack grimaced slightly. "Ah, Danny doesn't have four wheel drive, and both he and Teal'c are still on base. I told 'em I would pick 'em up, but you know Danny." He shrugged again. "He said not to risk the trip in this weather."

Sam felt a brief surge of panic at the thought of spending time alone with the Colonel in such a domestic setting, doing very domestic things. "Oh."

O'Neill seemed to take the soft exclamation as a sign of regret. He jerked a thumb back toward his truck. "Uh, well, I could just go if you'd rather not…" he trailed off, and Sam thought she caught a glimpse of the hurt in his dark eyes.

"No!" she said a little too quickly. Sam flushed with embarrassment when his eyes widened with surprise. Hurriedly, she went to save herself. "I mean, well it's already December 23rd, and I really need help getting all these cookies done and everything. I'd really appreciate your help here sir."

The Colonel smiled, seeming genuinely pleased that she wanted him there. "Sweet." He squinted up into the snowflakes falling heavily on top of his head and then looked back at her, waving a hand toward the door. "Ah, ya mind if I come inside?"

"Oh!" Sam gasped, bashfully ushering him in from the cold. "Sorry sir, come on in."

-

After Jack had finished trimming the house with white lights, he came inside, shaking snow off his clothing and pulling off his boots. "Wow, it's really comin' down out there!" he exclaimed, setting his boots down in front of the fireplace and pulling his snowy cap off his head before hanging the rest of his wet stuff on the mantle.

Hearing the Colonel's entrance, Sam looked into the open living room and smiled at him. "The lights are all up?"

"Yep. Everything's all set." He grinned at her in that crooked, boyish way he did when he was being casual and relaxed.

When he crossed over into the kitchen, Sam had a mug of coffee waiting for him. As she handed it over, she noticed the jeans he was wearing were soaked. She stopped him quickly when he went to sit down at the breakfast bar. "Sir, you'll catch a chill in those wet clothes."

O'Neill grimaced and sat down anyway, sipping gratefully at the hot beverage she gave him. "Don't got anything else to change into." He shrugged. "I'll sit in front of the fireplace; they'll dry."

"That might take a while. I can just throw them in the dryer," she offered absently, turning back to her mixing bowl and spooning some cookie dough onto a baking sheet.

Jack rose an eyebrow at the thought of her trying to get him to take his pants off. He tried hard not to smirk. "And what will I wear in the meantime?" he asked somewhat jokingly.

"A towel?" she said without thinking, turning around to see the Colonel choke on his coffee. Her cheeks flushed scarlet. "Uh, I mean…well…" she stammered nervously.

Quickly composing himself, O'Neill cleared his throat and then joked, to cover up his fluster, "Well, okay. I don't think I'll fit into any of your clothes."

"No, I don't think so sir. Though I do have some pink sweat pants that might look rather interesting on you." Sam laughed when he gave her a dubious look and snorted, then walked with him to the bathroom and gave him a big fluffy towel before returning to the kitchen while he took off his wet jeans.

While his pants and socks were in the dryer, the Colonel sat at the breakfast bar with the towel wrapped around his waist, sipping his hot coffee and watching Sam decorate some cookies.

Sam was trying hard not to look him in the eyes. Just knowing that her CO was sitting there in his boxers and a towel sent shivers through her. Those shivers disappeared quickly when she caught his hand sneaking toward the sugar cookies cooling on a wire rack in front of him. She reflexively slapped his hand away.

"Hey!" he frowned at her, jerking his hand back. "I only wanted one."

"Those are for Christmas," she emphasized. "I'm making cookie platters to give out, and you're getting one, so there's no need to steal."

The Colonel's eyes lit up with glee. "So you can just give me mine now instead!"

Her chin lowered and she determinedly shot him down. "No sir." He almost had her when he pouted, but Sam forced herself not to fall for it. "No," she firmly reiterated, shaking her head.

"Damn," O'Neill muttered, making a pinching gesture between his thumb and forefinger. "This close!"

Sam rolled her eyes, silently adoring his childishness.

When he got up from the chair, Sam spun around quickly to stop her eyes from wandering to his bare legs, and put some flour on her cutting board to roll out some more dough. She made a few shapes with her Christmas tree cookie-cutter, then risked a glance behind her.

The Colonel strode across her living room, holding the towel up with one hand as he headed to the window. She tilted her head, watching him as he lifted the blinds and peered outside.

"How's it look out there sir?"

Without turning around, he answered, "Dark and snowy." Then, as if remembering that he was actually at her house for a reason, he said, "Carter, you want me to do anything else to help?" He glanced toward the Christmas tree in the corner of her living room. It was only half decorated. Typical Carter, getting busy with something else. "How 'bout I finish the tree?"

Sam laughed softly and shrugged. "Sure." She definitely didn't want him helping her with the cookies. He'd probably be doing more eating then helping. "There's a box of ornaments in the basement. It's probably got tinsel hanging out, so you can't miss it."

The Colonel flashed her a grin and sent a mock-salute as he stepped away from the window and padded barefoot towards the door leading to the basement. "You got it Carter." He tightly gripped the towel that was slipping on his hips and grimaced slightly back at her when he reached the door and then disappeared down the steps.

Shaking her head, Sam tried not to laugh at the sight she'd just seen. It was too strange. Her CO was walking around her house in a towel and boxers, and was soon to be finishing her tree decorations. And here she was, baking and decorating Christmas cookies, half-covered in flour. It was oddly domestic, and for a second she could imagine she and O'Neill were a couple that had been married for several years.

-

Just when she'd put a new batch of cookies in the oven, the power went out and everything went black. She heard a curse from the basement and fumbled to find the flashlight she kept in the kitchen drawer.

Flicking on the light, Sam headed down the basement steps. On her way down she missed the last step and fell forward with a startled yelp, then found herself collapsing into the Colonel's arms.

"Got'cha Carter," he told her with a lopsided grin she could barely see in the dark. Colonel O'Neill was holding her tightly against his chest still, even as her feet found steady ground.

"Uh, you can let go of me now sir," the words came out of Sam's mouth so quietly; she was breathless. The feel of his arms around her was wonderful, and she honestly did not want him to let go. It felt right when he held her, even though it shouldn't.

"Right. Sorry." Quickly apologizing, O'Neill stepped back and let her go.

"Hang on, I dropped the flashlight." Sam fumbled around on the floor and grabbed the flashlight that had rolled under the steps. She swung the beam toward the Colonel, aiming low so she didn't blind him. Suddenly she froze and swallowed the sudden lump in her throat. "Uh… Sir?" The lights beam ghosted briefly over his bare legs.

Suddenly realizing that he'd dropped his towel when he caught her on the stairs, Jack cleared his throat with embarrassment and quickly bent to pick up the piece of cloth, hastily wrapping it around his waist once more. He grimaced bashfully as the edges of Carter's flashlight beam lit up his face again. "Whoops."

Without shining the light on her own flushing face, Carter directed the beam towards the floor and began heading to the rear of the basement. "I'll, uh, go check the fuse box."

"Yeah. Good idea." He grunted, internally cursing himself and turning to shuffle along after her, following the glimpse of light in front of him.

Jack didn't know why it was so awkward for Carter to see him in his underwear. It's not like she hadn't seen him off-world on occasion before. They were often in close quarters situations and it happened. It wasn't a big deal. She'd seen Daniel and Teal'c in their boxers too. But he and Sam weren't off-world now, and the rest of the team wasn't around. He was at Carter's house; they were being cozy and casual and… Oh. That was why it was so awkward.

Grimacing to himself for not realizing it sooner, Jack turned around and headed up the stairs blindly, throwing an excuse back at Carter. "I'm gonna go upstairs and see if my pants are dry while you check the fuses!"

"Yes sir," came Carter's automatic response.

Jack hurried up the steps and made it out the door without tripping.

-

"It's not the fuses! There must be a line down from the storm!" Carter yelled as she was coming up the basement steps, flashlight in hand.

Jack came out of the laundry room with his now-dry jeans and socks on. He headed straight for the living room to get his boots, jacket, cap, and gloves from the mantle and began putting them on. The glow of the fire helped to dull the darkness from the power outage, leaving the living room and part of the kitchen fairly lit.

"Carter! You got a-" He started to call out, turning around and nearly bumping into her as she came up behind him. Jack smiled bashfully. "-shovel?"

She laughed in what sounded like a semi-nervous manner and staggered back a few steps before walking around him and making a beeline for the coat closet. Carter reached in and pulled out a bright yellow snow shovel, handing it over to him. "Here you go sir."

"I'm gonna shovel your walk before the snow gets too high," Jack told her, his boots clunking loudly as he reached the front door.

"You don't have to do that sir; I can take care of it," Carter said honestly from behind him.

Turning slightly, Jack just flashed her a disarming grin, then teased, "Don't worry, you can get the next round." He winked and then disappeared out the door into the snowy white blur that awaited him outside.

Watching him go, Sam pulled her sweater tighter around her shoulders as the cold wind blew inside, bringing some wet flurries with it. The snow had reached the door by now, and she shivered as the Colonel had to shovel his way down the steps before the door closed.

After he'd gone outside, Sam padded carefully into the kitchen to check the status of the cookies that had been in the oven before the power went out.

When she was finished checking her cookies and turning the oven off, Sam picked up her flashlight again and went to find her stash of emergency candles.

-

Jack was nearly done with shoveling Carter's walkway after about twenty minutes. When he'd shoveled the last part of the walk, he turned to admire his work, breathing hard with the exertion from shoveling the heavy wet snow that was nearly a foot deep by now. The top of his head and his shoulders were dusted heavily with snow.

Taking a moment to squint up at the sky that continued to litter heavy white flakes all over the place, Jack grinned, then stuck his tongue out to collect the snow like he was a little boy again.

Sudden thoughts of snuggling by the fire with Carter had him heading back down his shoveled path to the house, even though he knew the thoughts were inappropriate and highly unlikely to actually happen. Hey, it's Christmas, he thought. It didn't hurt to hope.

Jack had just about reached the steps when he hit a patch of ice that was previously hidden beneath white powder. He yelped as his feet suddenly went flying out from underneath him. Jack pulled some spectacular kind of acrobatic move to try and maintain his balance, but fell anyway, landing hard on his back with a muttered curse.

He just laid there for a minute or two, the breath knocked out of him. A quick thought flittered across his mind that nearly made him chuckle; This is gonna be pretty damn embarrassing if Carter comes out and sees me like this.

-

Sam couldn't believe she'd fallen asleep. She quickly got off the couch where she'd snuggled in front of the fire after lighting candles all over the place, and glanced at her watch. "Sir?" she called out, squinting in the dim glow of light from the fireplace and the candles.

Realizing he was still outside and feeling bad for allowing him to do all her shoveling, Sam quickly threw on her boots, jacket, and gloves. Quickly, she went outside to check O'Neill's progress and see if she could help.

Stepping into the whiteout, Sam gasped in shock when she found O'Neill on his hands and knees on her freshly-shoveled walkway, one hand on his lower back. "Colonel!"

Jack winced and looked up, squinting against the snow blowing in his face to see a concerned-looking Carter rushing to his side. "Easy Carter, it's icy!" he warned with a groan.

"Did you land on your knees?" she asked him worriedly, pure concern in her gentle tone. Carter knew of his bad knees and was suitably heedful.

"Nope. I made it this far trying to get up." He grunted, still on his hands and knees and not forcing himself up further. "I landed with a perfect ten on my back. I really think I deserve some kind of medal here. Acrobatic performance and all that."

Carter grimaced sympathetically. "Need some help getting up?"

"Can't I just stay here?" Was that really him whining like that? Jack blinked up at her.

"No sir." She smiled tightly and then grabbed his upper arm. "You stay out here any longer and you'll be buried in snow."

Jack sighed. "Good point." He muttered curses under his breath as Carter helped pull him to his feet. She helped him shuffle into the house, hunched over with one hand still firmly planted on his lower back.

Sam helped her CO shed his wet jacket, hat, and gloves before he sunk into the sofa. She began tugging off his boots while he continued to mutter unintelligible curses. "You're pants are soaked again," she said ironically.

"Hrmph." O'Neill grunted and rolled his eyes.

"How's your back?" She moved to open the grate in front of the fire and fed another log to the flames after taking her own jacket and boots off.

He squinted one eye. "A little sore. It'll hurt a whole lot worse in the morning, I'm sure, but I'll live."

Sam nodded slowly. "I'll get your towel again and find some Tylenol."

-

Jack was laying on his back on the floor in front of the fireplace with his knees bent up and a blanket thrown over his legs instead of the towel this time. His pants were drying on the mantle. After taking the Tylenol half an hour ago he was starting to feel better.

When Carter appeared over him in his line of vision, he tilted his head slightly and quirked a crooked grin that was half grimace. "Sorry 'bout this Carter."

"It's no problem sir," she smiled back at him, then turned her head to glance toward the window. "But I really don't think it's a good idea for you to drive home tonight." Carter began to do a fidgety little move, shifting her weight from foot to foot and pulling her bottom lip between her teeth. "It's really coming down out there."

Contemplating what she was offering without her actually saying it, Jack nodded his head slowly against the rug he was laying on. How bad could it be? The team often stayed at one another's house after a team night. This time it was just him and Carter. No big deal. Right? "Thanks Carter. I'll take the couch."

She nodded back at him, then a weird look came across her face. "I'll probably be camping out here in the living room too. There's no heat with the power out and it's gonna get cold. The only warmth we'll get is from the fireplace."

Jack breathed out. "Okay. Think I'll just stay right here then." He briefly thought that they'd both be much warmer sharing a little body heat, then quickly dismissed the idea. Like THAT was going to happen.

Carter giggled, then threw a hand over her mouth as though embarrassed. She smiled at him apologetically. "I'll bring out a bunch of blankets and pillows, sir."

-

When she returned with an armful of warm blankets and pillows, Sam helped the Colonel up off the floor so she could lay some down. She made two separate sleeping places in front of the fire, so the both of them could stay warm during the night, and then turned around when she realized O'Neill was no longer waiting to get back on the floor again.

Sam saw that the Colonel had gotten himself over to the couch and flopped into the cushions. He was sitting up, looking comfortable in the corner of the couch and looking at her. She stared back at him with a curious expression when he suddenly smirked. "Sir?"

"Carter, you think NOW, I can maybe have a cookie?" he asked her in a pathetic, hopeful voice.

She laughed and nodded. "Yes sir, I suppose you've earned it."

"Sweet!" He cheered, a full grin on his face now.

Taking a detour on her way to get the Colonel his promised cookie, Sam took the flashlight and went into her dark bedroom, digging around for some warm clothes. She changed into a pair of fleece pants and a sweatshirt, then pulled an old, oversized Air Force sweatshirt from her closet. This should fit the Colonel, she thought, going back to the kitchen.

Jack glanced sideways at Carter with a grin as she sat on the couch beside him, handing him some cookies wrapped in a holiday napkin and then dropping something in his lap. Holding his cookies in one hand, he picked up the piece of clothing and noticed it was a big sweatshirt.

"I found something warm and not girly that would fit you, sir," Carter explained with a big smile.

He nodded his thanks. "No luck on the pants though, eh?"

She made a face and grimaced. "Nope, sorry Colonel."

"Eh." Jack shrugged. "It's okay."

Sam smiled nervously, watching as he happily devoured the cookies she'd given him, beaming with child-like enthusiasm. "Good sir?"

"Mrm," he nodded, his mouth full of cookies. "Very."

Sam found herself smiling proudly. She may not have been much of a cook, but she did make rather excellent Christmas cookies, if she did say so herself.

-

They sat together in silence for a while, wrapped in blankets on her couch and just staring at the crackling fire.

Suddenly, Sam decided to make conversation. "So, what are your Christmas plans this year, sir?" She felt awkward and intrusive the moment the words left her mouth and she realized who she was talking to. The Colonel normally seemed rather morose when the holidays grew closer. SG-1 was really the only family he had, and previous years they all made separate plans, dispersing to spend time with what was left of their own families outside of the team.

Seeming surprisingly unfazed by the question, the Colonel simply shrugged. "Dunno. Guess I'll just hang out at home, order Chinese, and watch The Simpsons." There was a pained smile on his face, even as he tried to make light of his lonely situation.

Sam turned her head away briefly with a sad frown, but before she could say anything, the Colonel spoke up again.

"What about you Carter? Not goin' to San Diego this year? I figure you woulda left already." He picked distractedly at the remaining cookie crumbs on his napkin.

She shook her head. "No sir, not for Christmas. Dad was planning to have some free time later this year, and we were going to go up and see Mark and the kids together."

The Colonel's chin dropped slightly and he quietly said, "That's…nice."

Sam just nodded, feeling awkward and guilty for stirring up her CO's loneliness. Then she suddenly recalled Janet's offer. "Sir, I nearly forgot!" she exclaimed, watching as his head jerked up. "Janet wanted me to ask you if you'd like to have Christmas dinner at her house. That's where I'm going this year and she asked me to extend the offer. She said Cassie would love to have us both there."

O'Neill sent her a smile that reached his eyes and Sam's heart very nearly melted right there. "Yeah?" he asked, somewhat uncertain.

"Yes sir. I'd really like it if…" she paused, realizing what she was saying. "Um, I mean, it would be nice if you came too," Sam stammered, twisting the blanket around in her fingers.

Finally, he nodded in agreement. "Sure Carter. Tell Doc I'd love to."

"Good." Sam beamed at him, then awkwardly shifted her gaze and pulled her legs up on the couch cushions, peering at the blazing fire.

-

Jack didn't know what time it was when he woke up, but Carter was leaning into his side and he had an arm over her shoulders. Despite himself, he grinned. They were both extremely snuggled on the sofa, wrapped in warm blankets. Besides the glow coming from the waning fire, it was still very dark out, so he assumed it was late.

Although he would have much rather stayed right where he was, the fire was starting to go out and he really had to pee.

Carefully extracting himself from Carter, Jack levered himself up off the couch with a muted groan, his left hand pressing against his lower back. Oh yeah, he'd forgotten about that. Ow.

Sweeping a hand through his messy hair, Jack shuffled over to the fire and as quietly as he could, tossed another two logs in from the pile Carter had nearby. He stood there for a moment, enjoying the warmth before navigating his way to the bathroom in the dark.

As he was creeping back to the much warmer living room, Jack was halfway down the hall from the bathroom when he collided with another body.

"Sir!" Carter exclaimed in surprise, grabbing him as he was knocked off-balance. Her arms were around his waist and their chests were touching, faces inches apart.

Jack had to wrap his own arms around Carter's back to keep them both steady. "Whoa, easy Carter." As she lowered her head in embarrassment, her warm breath tickled his neck. He breathed in sharply and then chuckled.

Sam felt the Colonel's chest rumbling against her as he chuckled, her chin rising slowly once more. Neither of them had let go of the other. "Um… Sorry si-" And then he was kissing her, his hands going to either side of her face, gently holding her in place. Her arms dropped from around his waist suddenly and she stood there passively, every thought in her head colliding with the other like someone suddenly turned on a blender inside her brain.

When he finally pulled back, she was breathless with surprise. All Sam could do was stare into his dark, needy eyes. Her mouth hung open, waiting for some kind of explanation from him.

With their eyes still locked, he raspily whispered, "Mistletoe."

Sam's eyes drifted upward. They were in the middle of the hallway, no doorways, and no mistletoe. She was certain she hadn't even hung any mistletoe in the entire house. "Uh, sir…" Her eyes met his again, then shifted down, her gaze fixing on his perfect lower lip. "There, uh… There is no mistletoe," Sam breathed, just as quietly and lowly as he had spoken.

A slow, lazy smirk spread across his face and he rolled his eyes before shrugging. "Well, in that case…"

Then he was kissing her again, and she was lost, this time kissing him back. Their bodies collided together again, one of her arms under his, gripping his back, the other over his shoulder, holding the back of his neck. Sam deepened the kiss as he pulled her tightly against him, their tongues dueling in a slow, intimate dance.

The moment was perfect. Except… Sam was soon very aware that the Colonel didn't have a blanket around his waist and was only in his boxers. There was also that annoying, nagging feeling in the back of her mind telling her they shouldn't be doing this.

Sam pushed him back regrettably, her hands on his shoulders. The sad, desperate look in his eyes left her with a sinking, guilty feeling in her gut, and something tightly clenched around her aching heart. She wanted this, but they couldn't…

Firmly deciding to not even discuss what they'd just done, Sam took an awkward, reluctant step back and waved a hand vaguely behind her. "We should…uh…get back to the living room." She shivered deliberately. "It's pretty cold out here."

Jack nodded distantly, his gaze still fixated on her lips with a deep longing. He wanted to touch her, to hold her, to never let her go. Being alone with her today reminded him how much he cared about her, how much he shouldn't care about her.

He followed her back to the couch and sunk down in the corner he'd previously vacated, grunting at the unwelcome twinge of pain from his back.

Carter looked at him sharply with concern as she tentatively sat beside him. "Do you want me to get more Tylenol?"

"No," he shook his head slowly. "I'm fine."

Carter smiled tightly and slowly leaned back against the cushions, grabbing a heavy blanket and carefully moving closer to him. She draped the blanket over them both, then sought out his gaze for silent permission.

Jack quirked a lazy grin and nodded, stretching his arm back to allow her to curl into his side. When she was settled comfortably against him, he draped an arm over her shoulder and pulled her tightly against him.

He knew once they were back at work, on base, things would go back to the way they were. There'd be no touching, fewer glances, absolutely no kissing… But here, at her house, away from the mountain and regulations and uniforms, at least they had this. For now, that would have to be enough.

-The End-

Prompt: The holidays, coffee, snuggling by the fire.