The theory of General relativity
This is a sequel to As the World Doesn't Turn, but it will still make sense if you haven't read that fic. Sam and Jack, established. It's set right after the SGA episode Enemy at the Gate and contains spoilers for that episode. Spoilers for SGU but i could also be totally wrong! In this timeline, couple of years have passed since As the World.. but since I haven't watched most of season 9 or 10 I can't write for it. And I kind of like being in a world without it. :)
Thanks to Jann for inspiration, Dee for her awesome beta-powers and the S/J Ship Family at GW for the encouragement! You guys rock.
A long time ago I promised Amy something big- hope you like it. :)
Stargate SG-1and SGA and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime / Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money changed hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author.
The phone rings. He knows he has to answer it, but he can't- can't lift his hand, and can't make it stop. It keeps ringing, the landline that the Pentagon insists that he have in case the cell towers go dead, or the electricity goes out, or an EM pulse takes down all electronic communications. In case the world ends. The phone rings and rings; and General Jack O'Neill knows the only world that's ending is his.
It's the same nightmare three nights out of the five since Earth had been attacked.
The sun is barely above the horizon when Jack decides he can't wait any longer. It's a little like being a kid on Christmas morning, he thinks, smiling at himself as he suppresses the urge to jump on the bed and demand that she get up. Moving slowly instead, he sets the coffee cup down on the nightstand, seats himself down on the edge of the bed and waits patiently for her to open her eyes. Which she does rather slowly as if her dreams aren't anything like his, her eyes finally focusing on his face with an such an expression of contentment that it makes it his heart stick in his throat.
"Good morning," he says.
"Good morning?" she queries sleepily. "You owe me at least a "Hello, I missed you."
Well. There's no way he's going to feel the least bit guilty about the night before when, after weeks of separation, he'd finally made it to her doorstep and found her wearing- well, he honestly can't recall what she'd been wearing. Still, it's completely not his fault. "I said, 'hello,' he reminds her, turning to put his hands down on the bed on either side of her. "I thought you could figure out the 'I missed you' part."
She smiles and the shared memory seems to pass between them, the way he'd dropped his bag just inside the door, taken her face in his hands and kissed her, their conversation after that consisting of murmurs that were more felt than heard, breaths that didn't quite condense into words. And that sweet little whimper of surrender that's enough to boil the blood from his veins.
"So did you?" he asks.
"Did I what?" It's clear her mind has wandered, too, and that gives him a little burst of satisfaction.
"Figure it out." He dips his head until his lips just meet hers. She shifts, rolling slightly against his hip and he remembers that she hadn't bothered to put on any pajamas last night. Which means she's pretty much just wearing a sheet right now. "Or do you need more data?"
"I need…" she says, slowly and tantalizingly against his mouth, her hand rifling through his hair and giving him chills, "some of that coffee."
He lets out a little groan of frustration and sits up to fulfill her request, wondering whether he should be more worried about the fact that he isn't worried about the fact that he's totally whipped. Just as he hands her the cup the irritating sound of a cell phone jangles from the vicinity of the living room. "It's mine," she says, giving him her best doe-eyed look over the rim of the mug, "would you get it for me?"
"No," he smirks, reclining rather deliberately beside her to lie firmly on top of the sheet. And reclaim his pride. "I think you should go get it."
"It could be important," he points out gravely. "It could be the IOA."
She rolls her eyes and with a little huff hands him the coffee, tosses back the sheet, and sprints from the room in an attempt to catch the phone before it quits ringing. He sighs deeply and takes a sip. In all of his travels across the known universe, he's never seen a sight that could compare with Sam Carter running buck-naked across the bedroom.
Giving her some privacy, he not so patiently waits for her to return, occupying himself with evaluating the bedroom. He has to admit that taking in the décor isn't usually on his mind when he's in here. The first thing he notices is a familiar 8x10 of himself sitting on top of the maple bureau. She's had that picture for a long time now, but he never can figure out when it might have been taken- it doesn't look recent- hell, he isn't even gray yet and he feels like he's been old and gray forever.
Until recently, that is. When Sam had finally come home.
His practiced eye continues scanning the room, coming to rest on the closet, clothes visible through the half-opened door. He notes the familiar combat boots right next to a pair of patent leather high heels, and smiles. Jack hates those damned social events, but always attends whenever Carter's in Washington, just so the world's elite can wonder about the hot blonde on his arm. A few people have heard of Colonel Sam Carter, but very few know Sam is actually Samantha and even fewer know what Samantha looks like- and Jack intends to keep it that way. Though if anyone makes the connection it's worth it just to see her blush and try to contain that radiant smile when they figure out that the woman in those killer shoes has kept them all from being killed on more than one occasion.
Meanwhile, a shoeless Carter stands in the doorway, listening intently to her phone while she buttons up one of the shirts she's taken out of his luggage. "Clever," he says with a feigned scowl, although it makes him almost as happy to see her in his shirt as it does to see her in nothing at all. She smiles, mouthing the word "coffee" while listening to what is undoubtedly the latest minor disaster incurred getting Icarus Base up and running. Deciding that he might as well give her her own personal cup since he can't give her anything else right now, he gets to his feet and slips by her, pausing to brush a kiss across the unoccupied ear. Then he walks down the hallway to the kitchen while she dispenses patient advice on how electronics can be expected to behave at 150 degrees.
When he returns he finds her rummaging through the top drawer of the bureau, phone still to her ear, and so he sets the mug down next to his picture and tries to wait patiently as his hand smooths his shirt down over her back, following the shirttail over her curves, rhythmic and reassuring, until she turns to face him. Jack wraps his arm around her waist and pulls her toward him, moving the fingers of his other hand to the buttons of the shirt and his lips to the soft, sensitive skin behind her ear just as she finishes the call.
"Jack… there's no time for this," she says unconvincingly.
"I know," he replies, his lips grazing across her earlobe as he frees another button, "but I only brought one extra dress shirt, and you're in it."
Laughing, she employs an evasive maneuver that separates him from his intended target. "We can't be late to the meeting, and we certainly can't be late together." Her hand reaches the coveted mug of hot liquid when the phone in her other hand rings again. "Damn. I'm never going to get any coffee."
"And I'm just never going to get any." He rolls his eyes with a dramatic sigh while she suppresses a smile and opens up the demanding phone once again.
"Oh, for cryin' out loud!," she exclaims, and Jack grins at the phrase. "It's Kelvin! Not Celsius. Geez." She goes back to rifling through the drawer, pulling out a few items that are not something Jack really needs to see right now. A black lace bra and real silk stockings, because she hates pantyhose. In fact, if he'd really known what she'd been wearing on that very first day, his dumbass "I like women" comment might have been backed up with something that would have been a real career-killer for both of them.
"It's better in this environment. No negative values," she says, tossing more silk on top of the dresser, delicate things meant for dressing up, not for work, and he starts to grow suspicious. They had planned to go out to dinner, to escape the constant talk of war- and he knows that Carter does like to be prepared. But this- this is deliberate, it's temptation. It's provocation made of silk and satin and he so wants to make her pay.
Tearing his eyes away from the visual torture, he moves behind her to caress the soft hair at the nape of her neck, first with his fingers and then with his lips, his hands running down her back and this time he doesn't stop at the hem. She stops speaking mid-sentence as his hands contact bare skin. "…it's, uh, sure. You can do that." He slides both hands back up her thighs, keeping contact as they slip under the shirttail, cupping her in his broad, firm grip. "That's fine, Major. Thank you." She signs off just as his teeth close gently on her skin. She tastes a little salty and it makes his heart beat a bit faster to recall how and why they both worked up such a sweat the night before.
"I think you just cost the taxpayers a million dollars." she weakly reprimands him, reaching back to run her fingers through his hair.
"Just trying to make FUBAR literally true," he grins against her throat.
"Jack…" she says with a fond annoyance as she forces herself to pull away. "We really are going to be late." Then she scoops the lacy items from the top of the bureau.
"You're not wearing those to work, are you?"
Sam just gives him a sweet smile, lifts the hanger holding her uniform off of the top of the bathroom door, steps in and closes it behind her.
Oh. He is so screwed. With a smile he shoves his hands in his front jeans pockets. He can't really say if it's because they're apart so much, or if it's just her. But life with Samantha Carter never, ever, gets old.
They're both expected back at the nearly empty mountain by 0800. "Ramirez will be by to give me ride," he says, brushing off his hat while Sam picks up the last of the papers she has scattered across the couch, her tie unfastened and her pumps nowhere to be found. She looks up at him with a worried glance.
"It's better than you giving me a ride, don't you think?" he says.
"I guess, but…"
"Sam, nothing can possibly faze this woman." Jack's actually quite pleased that he'd been able to steal Major Val Ramirez away from the Pentagon, appreciating the way that she treats everything with the same indifference, be it frequent conversations with a certain Colonel or the President of the United States. Everything is dispatched with the same ruthless efficiency. Secretly, he thinks everyone is afraid to cross her and he reminds himself that he really needs to figure out why that is. "Aliens could barge into my office and all she'd be interested in was whether they had an appointment."
Sam manages to smile and kiss his cheek, but he turns his head and gave her a real kiss back, trying to eke out every last bit of her that he can get before heading off to the SGC. He reluctantly pulls away at the sound of a car parking next to the small house, then gives her a broad smile and walks out the door before Major Ramirez hauls him out by his ear.
"Good morning, Sir," she says evenly, opening the rear passenger side door as if picking a Lieutenant General up from an unknown off-base residence is part of her normal routine. "The schedule is on the back seat."
"Thanks, Major," he says as he climbs in. Ramirez shuts the door and walks briskly around to the driver's seat, glancing into the rearview mirror as she settles in.
"Yeah," he says, rifling through his papers, trying to find whatever it is Carter wants him to have read up on by now.
"Shall I wait for the Colonel?"
"No, she's not ready… " he says absent-mindedly, then stops and looks quickly up into the mirror, "I mean, she's not…"
"Yes, Sir." Ramirez nods, switching her dark, unwavering gaze to the side mirror. Without a glance at the house, she puts the car in drive and eases away from the curb.
Blackmail, Jack thinks. That's her secret. But the Major keeps her eyes on the road and her thoughts to herself.
O'Neill dislikes speeches and this week he's going to be both on the giving and the receiving end far too often. While HWC and the IOA have been working on the Icarus base for quite some time, the Wraith attack on terra firma has moved everything into high gear and doubled his workload, simultaneously requiring that he waste time explaining why it isn't done ahead of time and under budget. Sighing deeply, he resigns himself to his administrative fate- but while turning on his laptop in preparation for the next speech a familiar voice caresses his ear.
"Hello, General," Carter says, smiling as if she hasn't seen him in weeks instead of minutes.
Damned if she isn't the poster child for the USAF. He's seen her in that uniform a hundred times, but every time he does he feels an odd sort of pride that she's his- his woman and his officer. And he doesn't have to feel the slightest bit guilty thinking of her like that anymore. "Thank you, Carter," he grins.
"Any questions about the figures, Sir?" She nods toward the laptop.
"I've got it covered," he says, arching his eyebrows. "Do you?"
He loves to see Carter blush. It 's getting harder to make her do it as the years pass but he's happy to see he hasn't completely lost his touch.
"I wouldn't want to disappoint you, Sir," she says very carefully, leaving her comment wide open for interpretation. His gaze flickers across her beautiful face, eyes the color of the blouse she's wearing, wide and innocent and he knows he's being played. He gives her a slow, wicked smile. Oh, the things I'm going to do when I get you home, Colonel.
Her steady gaze lets him know she's up for the challenge. They've always been so much better at communicating without words than with them- and while they're busy communicating, O'Neill loses track of an indeterminate amount of time until he hears a polite cough from behind him.
"Daniel!" He turns to face his former team member, close friend and general pain in the ass. None of which he'd trade for all the trinium on P3X812. Carter simply stands there, grinning as if she's known perfectly well that the good doctor would attend the presentation that day.
"I'll be here a while, so… tonight?" Daniel looks toward Carter for permission.
O'Neill answers him. "Yeah. Great!"
Daniel makes his way to the back of the room and sits down next to the Canadian Defense Minister. "What's that all about?" he says, nodding in the direction of Carter and O'Neill.
"What's it look like?" Daniel answers.
"Damn," the Minister says. "Lucky bastard."
"Oh, I don't know. She's level 3 in hand-to-hand." Daniel says distractedly, leafing through the program notes.
The other man crosses his arms and studies Carter. "Like I said…"
The briefing is mercifully short, since only the people who truly care are there for the summary of the whole sorry three-way mess that comprises Icarus, Atlantis and what's left of Area 51. The ones who are just looking for a photo op are already up at Icarus and O'Neill knows there's no way to completely avoid that dog-and-pony-show but right now there's real work to be done trying to mitigate their losses and distribute the remaining assets. He loses Carter in the crowd that is filtering out the door but thinks he'll catch up with her at lunch since the two of them, Landry, and Woolsey still have to figure out what the hell they are going to do with Atlantis since its gate is overriding everything, and what the residual threat of another Wraith attack might be. And he's going to be late, but the only advantage of being in charge is that they really can't start without him. When he arrives in the briefing room, however, she is nowhere to be found, the chair next to his usual spot pushed in next to the table. He pulls his chair out and sits down across from Landry, who is wearing a guarded look, and suddenly Jack feels as if there is some bit of bad news that he isn't in on, yet. Carter's never late.
"Are we still at DEFCON 2?" he asks the general casually, picking up the crystal glass of water in front of him.
"Yes, we are, Jack." Landry nods. "Which is why Caldwell called up Carter as soon as he got word that the Hammond was ready to go."
"That's great." He swallows the water and he swears to God it makes his ears start ringing. There can't be another reason for it. "Did she leave her recommendations?"
"Right here. She's nothing if not prepared." Landry eyes a stack of collated papers as an aide picks them up and passes them around. O'Neill nods, accepts his copy and buries himself in the task at hand. Woolsey shifts uncomfortably in his chair, watches O'Neill, and then looks over at Landry as if uncertain what he should do. Landry nods slightly, and the commander of Atlantis begins to explain the current situation on his base.
The meeting takes up the rest of the afternoon, and through it all, through the talk of power structure, and defenses, deployments and supplies, O'Neill remains acutely aware of the still, silent phone tucked away inside the interior of his jacket. When the meeting finally draws to a close, he steps out into the hallway and takes a deep breath. He will not call her. He isn't going to run the risk of being a Pete, to have her look at caller ID and put the phone down with a sigh. God, he should be used to this by now. But the last nine months have been so terrific and he's waited so long for it that his highly developed capacity for denial has been on autopilot and he hasn't even known it.
Landry appears at his elbow. "Say, Carolyn and I are going to go to O'Malley's one last time if you're interested," he suggests casually.
"Nah. Daniel's in town. And I'm not sure they've ever really gotten over the armbands thing."
"All right." Landry pauses. There's no need for false reassurances. He'd never insult O'Neill's intelligence with a "don't worry, she'll be fine." Instead, he zips up his leather coat and says, "She's the best we've got, Jack," then walks slowly down the deserted hallway.
Yeah, O'Neill thinks. And that's exactly what's going to get her killed.