Title: Worth It
Summary: Sam likes the idea that she can still shock him.(Season Nine, 'Ties That Bind')
Rating: Older teens
Categorization: Drama, Angst, Sam/Jack
A/N: Number six in the DC Series. Continues right where 'You're My Destination' left off.
Sam's house looks like a tornado hit it.
She eyes the scattered trail of clothing stretching from her bedroom to the kitchen. It's actually rather impressive. She's bizarrely reluctant to clean it up.
But then again, if she's really feeling some bizarre need to preserve evidence that yesterday actually happened, all she needs to do is head back into her bedroom where Jack O'Neill is currently hogging way more than half of her bed. Not that he hasn't earned the right to be a bed hog.
Sam plucks Jack's shirt from its precarious position on top of a lampshade, folding it carefully.
She can only guess how long they may have continued to dance around this, knowing that he never would have pushed her, that maybe a small part of him, no matter how much they both know otherwise, may think he's somehow taking advantage of his position.
She gets that and has zero problems being the one to cross that line.
Especially since he seemed more than willing to follow her lead. Once he figured out what was going on, that is. She kind of likes the idea that she may have shocked him.
Only now does she realize just how good her act may have been all these years. Like he somehow never suspected that she sometimes watched the smooth, competent motions of his hands and wondered what it would be like to be touched by him that way.
He's just as good with his hands as she always suspected.
Realizing she's smirking aimlessly at his shirt, she lays it on the back of the couch and heads into the kitchen. Shocking him with her culinary skills may not be quite as enjoyable, but for now it will do.
She's only managed to pull out a carton of eggs and some bowls before she hears the first signs of life from the bedroom.
"Good morning," Jack says, stepping up behind her, his lips pressing to the side of her neck.
She actually hums in response, God help her. "Good morning," she manages to echo, leaning back against him.
His hands slide around her waist, palm pressing flat against her stomach. "What's all this?"
It takes her a moment to figure out what he's referring to, so focused is she on the feel of his hands. She glances at the eggs. Right. "Breakfast."
"Wow," he says, sounding impressed.
She turns, wrapping her arms around his neck. "Yeah, this is a full service kind of place."
"Lucky me," he says, leaning in to kiss her.
What begins as a leisurely good morning kiss quickly ratchets up to another occasion all together as her mouth slides open under his, her fingers twisting into the fabric of his t-shirt as he presses her back against the counter. His hands skim down her sides, tracing the line of her body, the thin material of her robe concealing little.
Reaching the spot where her robe stops at mid-thigh, his fingers graze tantalizingly along her bare skin. His hands don't linger though, and Sam thinks she might have made a sound of protest, but next thing she knows, he's reaching behind her, sweeping the bowls to one side, and urging her up onto the edge of the counter.
"Jack," she says as he steps up against her, a bit breathless at the tight rush of desire he is so easily conjuring, any last bit of concern for the idea of breakfast fading quickly.
"You're not the only one with a backlog of fantasies, Carter," he breathes against her collarbone.
Oh, God. She felt that one all the way down to her toes. "And this one involves kitchen counters?"
She can feel him smile against her skin. "It does now."
"Tell me more."
With one smooth tug, he unties her sash, her robe falling open. "Nah," he says, his fingers trailing up her thigh. "I'd rather just show you."
She thinks maybe she should be embarrassed how easily he can reduce her to a pile of goo, but then his hands are on her and she decides life is way too short for embarrassment.
They do eventually manage to get around to breakfast, even though it's far closer to lunch time, thanks to a joint shower that really did nothing to save time or water. Sam's not so far gone not to recognize the ridiculousness of the situation. She just hopes her body doesn't get used to this pleased hum, because Jack still lives very, very far away and some things just can't be simulated.
Luckily for her growing addiction, they are finally undertaking a completely platonic activity--the two of them sitting across from each other at her small kitchen table, splitting the newspaper and finishing off a pot of coffee.
Sam is supposedly reading the international section, but she's just staring at the meaningless words more than anything. She peeks over the top of the page to see Jack leaning over the edge of the table, the sports section spread out in front of him. He's squinting, just the tiniest bit, and it's so him, the idea that he probably refuses to consider that he might just need glasses.
His hair is in spiky disarray and he's got a day's scruff on his face and he's sitting at her kitchen table looking like he belongs there.
It should be strange or at least slightly awkward to have him in her space. He's such a fixture of her professional life that she would never have dared hope for so smooth a transition, but maybe that was just her over thinking things as usual. Professionally, it's a positive habit. On a personal level though…
Maybe she doesn't want to think through this unexpected ease. Maybe she can just accept the fact that one day she wakes up with him in her bed and have it feel fine. Better than fine. It feels sort of right, undeniably so, which should make her suspicious brain want to poke and prod for an entirely different list of reasons.
She's never really been one to 'feel' something outside the rather chaotic necessity of combat. She can make split decisions, stick to them, but she would usually say she knew it was the right thing to do, not felt it.
Feelings, assumptions, instincts--they can all be dangerous. She should know, she's had them come back to bite her in the ass time and time again. And yet…
She's definitely in alien territory here, so it makes sense to question, to analyze, to maybe even want to step back a little and take a deep breath. Then why the hell doesn't she want to?
And now she's over thinking her decision not to over think.
She can almost imagine Daniel's face if he could hear her tangled thoughts, most likely trying not to laugh at her, but still wondering how anyone her age could be quite this inept when it comes to emotions.
Honestly, she hasn't a clue.
But that isn't really bothering her either.
Sam glances up over the edge of the newspaper. Jack's regarding her with a look somewhat like the one he'd give her off-world when he thought she was losing her perspective, only today there is something more mixed in there and she has to wonder if being in her space is making him nervous instead. It would certainly make an interesting change.
Smiling, she shakes her head. "Sorry. Let my mind wander there for a bit."
"Yeah," he says, as if that's the very thing he's afraid of. He apparently thinks he knows what is going on in her mind and that amuses her, because if he really had a clue, he wouldn't have to work so hard to look unconcerned.
Lowering the paper to the table, she leans on her elbow, propping her chin up on her hand. "So are you ready to take me up on my offer?"
Any surprise on his part is quickly hidden beneath a shit-eating grin that she really shouldn't find as sexy as she does. "And what offer would that be?" he asks, a suggestive gleam in his eye.
One would think finally tapping that ever-present sexual tension would have rendered innuendo obsolete, or at least less prevalent, but it's somehow only more pervasive. Which may have something to do with the fact that sex hasn't been far from her thoughts in weeks. "Sadly, I was actually referring to my bike," she says.
"Ah, yes. That offer."
She still can't quite believe Jack sold his, doesn't like the feeling that he's parted with so much of his life before the move to D.C. How completely he cut all ties. Because it reminds her far too well how easy it could have been to miss this chance all together.
"Tired of me already?" he quips, drawing her attention back to him.
It's a casual enough comment, seemingly swathed in good humor, but Sam isn't really fooled. She should be sick of him already, she knows. She should be climbing the walls after so much time without even a moment to herself.
Only she's not.
She's not going to question it.
Nudging his foot under the table, she says, "I just thought you might want to go get your stuff." After all, they might actually try to leave her house at some point this weekend, as unlikely as it seems at the moment.
Her words seem to take a moment to register with Jack. "Ah," he says, almost as if surprised that she wants him to stay the entire weekend.
She skims her foot up his calf. "You really should have brought it with you yesterday."
He raises an eyebrow at her. "That would have been a bit presumptuous of me, don't you think?"
She smiles, picking up her mug and returning her attention to the paper. "Well, next time you'll know better."
She can feel his eyes on her, assessing. "Yeah," he says eventually, and there's that self-satisfied tone sneaking back in. "I guess I will."
Jack somehow manages to sleep through Carter getting up at some insane hour to go for a run, of all things, but at least he is alert enough to be wide-awake later when she steps out of the shower in nothing but a towel. Nice.
Noticing that he's awake, she smiles at him, crossing over to his side of the bed. She leans over him, the free edge of the towel falling away from her body to show a tantalizing patch of thigh. She stops just short of actually kissing him, her lips hovering just over his. "How would you like to go for a hike today?" she asks.
He blinks back at her mutely for a moment, trying to switch gears and not doing a stellar job of it. All manages is a blurry, "Hunh?" Hey, is it his fault she's half naked? Not that he's complaining.
"I usually go for a hike on Sundays," she says.
Offhand, he can think of about thirty other things he'd rather do than hike, but she's smiling at him and looking all dewy from the shower and he can't possibly say no.
"Sure," he agrees.
What's that, Carter? You want to take a trip back to Netu? Sure, whatever you say. Anything you want.
God, it's almost embarrassing. Almost.
He reaches for the front of her towel before she can move away and tugs just hard enough to tip her forward onto the bed where she lands on top of him with a soft squeal of surprise.
"Only, later," he revises as the towel lands in a lump on the floor
"Later is good," she agrees with a laugh.
When Jack agreed to the outing, he sort of assumed they were trying to prove they were capable of an activity other than sex. Plus, this way, Jack figures he can say he went sightseeing without lying or anything. He's seeing sights, isn't he? Not that he has any plans to return Daniel's calls anyway.
What Jack hadn't considered was that Netu might actually be paradise-like in comparison to the hellish desert climb Carter's calling a hike. Seriously, this is making the epic schlep on that planet with the monkey people and the carnivorous plants look like a Sunday stroll in the park.
They are currently paused at a fork in the path as Carter gazes contemplatively at the two choices in front of them and Jack tries to not look like he's sucking down water like a dying man. Which he might very well be.
"That is one of my favorite routes," she says then, pointing up to the left where the trail climbs up and over Nevada's very own Mt. Everest, only with more sand and less snow, but probably similarly requiring bottled oxygen.
Jack glances at the other trail to the right, only slightly less treacherous, but still managing to look appealing in comparison to its monstrous neighbor.
"Though I usually start out a bit earlier to have enough time to finish that one," Carter says, shooting him an intimate smile that almost makes him forgive her for trying to kill him.
With one last glance at Mt. Everest, Carter turns up the right trail, Jack following behind. The way she knows these trails like the back of her hand combined with the way she looked up that breakneck trail with a sort of longing raises Jack's hair on end. It makes him think of the slightly desperate way she rides her bike and it's doesn't seem so much like an endearing quirk anymore, but something a bit more dangerous.
"Carter, what is this all about?" Jack asks, hating that he sounds winded, but seriously, it's an insane trail.
"What?" she says, not even having the decency to sound remotely out of breath as she turns to look at him.
"This death march you're calling weekly recreation."
Her mouth opens for a moment, but then her eyes slide from his face and she turns back up the trail. "I don't know what you mean."
"Yes, you do," he says, stubbornly setting after her, ignoring the protest of his legs. "The crack of dawn runs, punishing hikes, and, hell, the way you drive that motorcycle, for starters."
She doesn't respond, rather picking up her pace in an attempt to shake him off, he imagines. Or exhaust him enough that he can no longer talk.
"Sam," he tries out of desperation.
She slows her furious pace, eventually coming to a stop with an audible sigh. "Doesn't it all just make you a little crazy sometimes?"
There are a lot of things that make him crazy all of the time. In fact, right about now, Carter is topping that list. Right after this mountain. "What, exactly?" he asks.
She turns back to look at him. "All the sitting."
"All the sitting?" he echoes, more than a little lost.
"Paperwork and supervision and meetings, and I swear I've always assumed I would enjoy time to work on my own projects…"
She sits down on a nearby rock, rubbing one hand across her forehead. "I'm not saying I'm too used to feeling like I might die any moment or anything. I just get…twitchy, I guess, when I've been still for too long. This helps."
"You miss it," he says. She looks up at him. "The gate."
"Sure," she says with a shrug, as if none of this is a problem. "Don't you?"
In the beginning, hell yeah. That first year sitting and watching his team go out without him, it was tough, nearly impossible some days. But since then? He never would have admitted it out loud even a few months ago, but he knows he's where he'll do the most good. His gate hopping days are over and he's actually pretty okay with that.
Not that he wouldn't love an excuse to take out an F-302 again. Purely for recreational purposes, of course.
"Come on," she says, pushing back to her feet. "I promise the view is worth it."
It takes another ten minutes of near vertical climbing to crest the peak. As promised, the view is pretty spectacular, but all Jack can think about standing up there is how long it will take Carter to realize she doesn't belong out here. And exactly what it will mean when she does.
"Now can we get back to sitting on the couch like normal people do on Sunday afternoons?" Jack asks.
Carter laughs. "Sounds like a plan."
Carter is half-flopped over Jack on the couch with the TV on and cold beer easily within reach. Yes, much better. This is recreation.
"That was exhausting," Carter says through a yawn.
"Nice try," Jack says, gently tugging at a strand of her hair. He's still a bit disgruntled that she barely broke a sweat while he was half-convinced he'd have to be choppered out of there, but he really doesn't need the half-hearted attempt at humoring him.
She wiggles a bit, smushing further down in the couch until she's pressed against his side, her head resting in the crook of his shoulder when he puts his arm around her. He can feel her fingers tapping restlessly on his chest and knows she's building up to something.
"Cam asked me to come back again," she admits.
Ah, here we go, Jack thinks. "And what did you say?"
"I told him I'm happy where I am."
"And are you?" he asks.
"Of course," she says, but it feels more automatic than genuine.
"With the Ori, it may only be a matter of time. You know that."
Her fingers still. "Yeah," she says, something indefinable in her voice. "Maybe."
He looks down at the top of her head as if he might be able to peer into her thoughts somehow. Wouldn't a skill like that be convenient right about now. "You must miss Daniel and Teal'c," he says.
"Of course I do."
He hopes she's not isolating herself out here in some misplaced form of solidarity. They don't both need to be miserable. "I can tell you're not fond of being on the outside." He's fishing now, but it's not like she's leaving him much of a choice.
She shrugs. "It's not quite what I imagined it would be. Not that it doesn't have some perks," she says, her hand sliding up under his shirt.
"Hey, Colorado is at least a couple states closer to DC," he points out.
Pushing up on her elbow she grins down at him. "Definitely a perk to keep in mind," she agrees, leaning in to kiss him.
He knows she's probably just trying to distract him, but this whole Nevada thing has been a mystery to him from the beginning and his chances of figuring it out seem pretty nil. Or maybe that's just what he's telling himself, because lying on a couch with Carter, kissing her slow and languorous like this might be, hands down, his favorite thing in the universe.
"Would it bother you?" she asks at one point.
He can't quite read her tone, but in his defense, he's a little distracted. "What?" he asks.
She shifts against him. "If I were back in the field."
It's not a question he expects to be asked and it's strange to consider these sorts of things, especially when his brain is this close to being short-circuited. But the last thing he wants is to hold her back or be her excuse. "This isn't about me," he reminds her.
"Right," she says, her hands stilling for a moment, but before he can think of something else to say she's kissing him again and he finds it hard to think of much of anything at all.
Jack is tapping his pencil against the top of his folder.
It's got to be annoying everyone in the conference room, but no one is looking his way or shifting in their chairs or anything. It's really impressive. It's amazing what the Head of Homeworld Security can get away with. Not that Jack would dream of taking advantage of that.
Less than two minutes later according to his watch, Carter finally sends him her patented 'Sir, you do know you're acting like a child, right?' briefing look. Nice. It's comforting to know he's still got it. He taps the pencil particularly loud one last time, just to see Carter flinch and then stops all together, just to prove he's capable of being a team player.
It's only been three hours since he woke up next to her, but in that time Carter has managed to slip seamlessly back into Colonel mode. It's impressive and almost a little frightening, especially now that he has some idea what's hidden under there.
By some miracle, or maybe just a spout of very overdue karma for all their sacrifices over the years, their weekend together had been completely uninterrupted. No emergencies, no fubar bureaucratic nonsense, not even a small technical glitch requiring Carter's attention. Of course, by the time this morning had rolled around, even Jack had to admit that it's probably just as well they don't have any more days; he might not have survived that.
Not that he wouldn't have died a very, very happy man.
Jack smiles to himself, unconsciously tapping his pencil cheerily against his folder again.
Carter's eyes narrow and he drops the pencil to table, folding his hands in front of him.
Unfortunately, the meeting is interminably long, even worse than he would have imagined as geek after geek from each department gets up and presents the most promising projects they are working on. Rawlings keeps shooting Jack these pleased smiles, like this stuff's the coolest in the universe. Jack might sign off on the guy's funding request just to get them to stop talking. Hell, he'll double it.
Maybe that's been Rawlings' plan all along. Devious.
Luckily for his personal sanity, Jack is more than capable of occupying himself, pencil or no pencil, today mainly by visualizing the greatest hits of the weekend, of which there are many. He's sure his face is as impassive as always as he nods in all the right places and jots down the occasional note, but Carter still keeps shooting him increasingly sharp glances. Never before had her ability to read his mind been quite so amusing.
Of course, by the end of the last meeting she looks ready to kill him. Today, even that seems sexy as hell.
Jack takes the time to thank the presenters, even getting most of their names right. (Hey, he's capable of paying attention and goofing off all at the same time. There's a reason they made him a general after all. Multitasking.) He even has to admit to Rawlings that some of the projects do sound pretty impressive. He's tempted to offer to play test pilot himself for some of the more interesting ones, but stuff like that just never turns out when Jack's involved, no matter how much he misses flying.
After the meeting and a quick lunch, Jack is whisked off on a quick tour of the base before his scheduled departure.
He barely manages to ditch his escorts with enough time left to grab his bag and ambush Carter in her lab for a quick farewell. He finally tracks her down in the large lab attached to her office, no less than five other scientists in there with her. Not wanting to interrupt, or, you know, accidentally blow something up, Jack wisely lingers by the door until she notices him. Handing off her tool to one of the other geeks, she joins him by the door.
"Hi," she says brightly, no longer seeming to want to murder him as she had earlier after the meeting. Pity. Looking behind him and seeing that he's alone, she raises an eyebrow at him. "Managed to shake off your entire entourage, sir?"
Jack grins at her. "What can I say? I'm putting all those years of eluding Jaffa to good use."
"Very impressive," she says, returning his grin.
They stand there smiling at each other like idiots for a moment until Carter glances behind her as if remembering where they are.
Clearing his throat, Jack hefts his bag and says, "Well, I'm off."
Carter nods, looking away for a moment like she's trying to decide something. "I'll walk you out," she says, grabbing a stack of papers from a table by the door. "Wouldn't want you to get lost and miss your plane, after all."
"That's generous of you, Carter."
But they seem doomed to not having a single moment to say goodbye in private because as they step out into the hall, one of Jack's ditched escorts reappears. "There you are, sir," he says, looking slightly harried. "Your transport is waiting."
"Right," Jack says. "I was just on my way."
To add insult to injury, the guy takes Jack's bag. "Let me get that for you, sir," he says, before taking off at a fast clip down the hall, Jack and Sam following at a slightly more sedate pace behind.
Jack sends Carter a pained looked but she just presses her lips together and he knows she would dearly love to mock him right about now. A little revenge for the meeting this morning, maybe. She's smart enough to hold her tongue though, and they pass the rest of the journey in silence. In retrospect, he really should have taken that as the obvious sign of doom that it was.
Stepping outside, Jack can see that Rawlings and a small battalion of aides are waiting for him a short distance away. Lovely. He supposes he should count himself lucky there isn't a marching band.
Just as they step onto the tarmac, in a very uncharacteristic bout of clumsiness, Carter drops her files. Hell, Jack doesn't even know why she's carrying files around in the first place. This is the digital age, isn't it? Weird or not, Jack still crouches down next to her to help pick up the pages, the airman also pausing, but Carter just waves the kid on ahead with Jack's bag, leaving just the two of them.
And then, as she kneels there next to him, Rawlings and most of his staff well within shouting range, she leans slightly towards him and whispers words he never, ever thought to hear from her lips, painting some very vivid imagery for what he should think about the next time he finds himself bored in a meeting. He can feel every last drop of blood drain from his brain to other much more exhausted, but still very alert parts of his body as she takes the time to go into detail. His mouth actually drops before he manages to school his features, very thankful for every moment of black ops training he has ever received as his fingers fumble with the papers.
Then, as if she hasn't just whispered a startling string of sexual innuendo (hell, innuendo requires subtlety, and she is alarmingly short of that), Carter takes the papers from his hands, tucking the files in close to her chest as she stands up, and Jack has no alternative but to follow her example, standing stunned a few paces apart.
He had absolutely no idea this side of Carter even existed, though this last weekend should have clued him in to the possibility. God, this makes her years of good soldier routine even more amazing that this might have been hiding under there all along.
Apparently ignorance really is bliss. Thank God for that, he thinks. He's only human after all. As it is, it's taking a hell of a lot of restraint not to take her up on her rather explicit offer right now, audience be damned. He may never be able to sit through a meeting ever again without that particular image in his mind. Which was probably her intent.
Carter tilts her head to one side when he continues to stare at her, trying to pawn him off with her 'is there something amiss, sir?' look.
Like she doesn't already know.
"Have a safe flight, sir," she says, extending her hand.
Jack shakes it because he has no other choice.
Before she manages to pull back away though, looking entirely too pleased with her little act of revenge, he recovers enough to tighten his grip on her hand, holding her there a moment longer. Thankfully he now has his back to Rawlings and company, so he lets a slow grin curve his lips, his index finger sliding up to the soft skin on the inside of her wrist. He risks letting his eyes flick momentarily downward, just long enough to see a soft flush wash up the base of her neck.
"I look forward to our next debriefing, Colonel," he says.
Her lips twist, and he can tell she's having a really hard time not laughing at the horrid pun. He'll take that as a victory. He treats himself to another long moment of just smiling at her.
"General," she says with a nod, dropping his hand and stepping away. He catches the flex and stretch of her fingers as if she's fighting off the sensation of pins and needles.
Jack forces himself to turn his back on her and walk away, breathing deeply in an attempt to focus his mind on the last task ahead of him.
Nearing Rawlings, Jack reaches out to shake his hand. "Well, John, looks like you've got everything here running like clockwork."
"Thank you, sir," he says.
Jack knows he's probably supposed to say more, but his brain is still derailed so he decides to cut his losses and get the hell on the plane while he still can. At the top of the stairs, just before he steps into the plane, Jack glances back at Carter one last time, and she sends him an unobtrusive wave.
It's going to be a long, uncomfortable flight home, Jack thinks.
So worth it.