Title: And Then I Dreamt of Yes
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Category: Angsty fluff.
For: the 2009 sjficathon, written for Nanda, who requested: "S/J stranded, preferably in S9-10."
Summary: The universe has really bad timing, but neither Sam or Jack is ready to give it the last word.
Notes: My never-ending thanks to Pepper-Field who read the second-to-last draft and didn't tell me it sucked but made me see the light anyway and then read the last draft and reassured me it was much better. Also thanks to Annerb who dealt with my title issues again, and to everyone who I whined to over the last...well, however long it was. You are all awesome.
The phone rang, predictably, just as she stepped through the door. Sam picked it up and said, "General," knowing it was, of course, Jack, and wondering if he'd ever not be able to predict her movements down to the minute.
"Did you see Landry's expression?" Jack asked, trying to bury the little edge of glee Sam knew he felt for having been on the phone telling Landry he couldn't have her at the precise moment she walked in to report for duty.
"You really shouldn't mess with people like that," Sam said, dropping her small bag onto her workbench--okay, not technically hers anymore, but it had been and it was still unassigned so far. Her whole lab looked depressingly empty, and it was slightly dusty. She picked at a chip in the top of the workbench and glared at it, as if it were responsible for landing her back in the SGC.
"So. Daniel says we're in trouble," Jack said, his tone conversational, almost breezy.
Sam plucked at the phone cord. "Yep."
Jack was silent a moment, and Sam could almost hear him sifting through all the possible responses. He finally settled on, "Bad timing."
Sam's breath huffed out in a cross between a laugh and a sigh. "No kidding." She twisted the cord around her fingers and back again, wondering how much she should say. Going back to theSGC was a step back in many ways, and just because it was necessary didn't make it any more palatable. Sam had missed the gate and her team, but she'd enjoyed the regular hours and the intellectual challenge of Area 51. She liked being there for Cassie. And, if she was honest, she had been working her way right up to the edge of another change, a precipice of opportunity that hadn't existed prior to the defeat of theGoa'uld.
Now it was Jack's turn to exhale, long and soft. "Yeah."
She could hear full sentences in that one word, sentences about the status quo, and doors closing, and it was just so unfair. It was one of the times Carter wished they didn't know each other quite so well. Hating herself, she said, "Sir, I have to go."
"Right," he said, a little fast. "I'll let you go, then."
"Yeah." Sam held onto the phone for another long, silent second. She could tell by the sound of breathing in her ear that Jack hadn't hung up yet, either. Not knowing what she was doing, Sam tightened her grip on the phone. "I'll--I'll call you. Again. Soon." She was a little astonished at herself. What was she doing? Things had changed--or rather, had gone back to the way they had been. She was supposed to say goodbye, hang up the phone, and move on to dealing with theOri.
There was a long, long pause. Sam was sure there was no blood left in her knuckles. Jack cleared his throat, and Sam leaned into the phone. "I'd like that," he said, low but not soft, and Sam felt something in her chest release, felt the blood rush into her fingers as she loosened her death grip on the phone.
"Okay," she heard herself say, her voice somehow steady. "It's a--plan."
"Plan A," Jack agreed.
Sam laughed. "Is there a plan B?"
"I call you."
Sam felt the edges of her smile creep up a notch or two. "Okay."
"Okay," Jack repeated, sounding just about as goofy as she felt.
Still, she managed to force out a relatively normal-sounding goodbye and hang up before she embarrassed herself too much, and she didn't have enough time to hit her panic mode before the first round of paperwork was delivered and she was buried up to her eyeballs in work.
It wasn't for lack of trying that plans A and B had failed, and failed spectacularly. In the six months that had passed since a certain phone call, they had started countless phone calls, only to be interrupted at every "hello." The last time Jack had picked up the phone he hadn't even managed to dial the last number before his latest assistant--an adolescent-looking boy named Oliver--managed to convince him a potential security breach was important enough to take him away from the phone.
He still wasn't sure that had been a great idea.
In any case, this latest interruption had prompted plan C.
General Jack O'Neill was visiting the SGC. Just a routine visit: show up, get a tour, sit through a few boring briefings, and report back to Washington tomorrow after catching a few moments of sleep on the flight home.
Of course, one of the nice things about being a General was that people expected you to throw their schedules all to hell.
This was why Jack didn't feel too bad about ducking out between boring briefings for a bathroom break and immediately heading for the one place in theSGC he wanted to be.
Sam's lab still wasn't quite full enough, despite the boxes piled on the floor and counters. Jack supposed some of the detritus from the first eight years just hadn't come back with her. Still, the blond head bent over the workbench was familiar. Jack felt strangely nostalgic all at once, a little--
He cleared his throat. "Hey, Carter," he said.
Sam's head popped up fast enough to give Jack whiplash. "Sir!" She looked at the clock. "Shouldn't you be in the briefing with--" she stopped, and a tiny tinge of pink crept into her cheeks.
"Keeping track of my schedule?" Jack said, raising an eyebrow.
"No," Carter lied, not trying very hard to hide it.
Jack moved toward one of the boxes and slid one finger under the top flap while keeping an eye on Carter, who was busy keeping an eye on that finger and probably wondering if she could reasonably tell him to leave that box alone. Jack could sense her cataloging all the boxes in the room in terms ofbreakability and deciding that his current target was the best option.
He flipped it open and saw a mass of wiring and some odd little...cylinders. Huh. He poked at it half-heartedly, wishing it were something smaller and tossable.
Carter was smirking, he could feel it.
He looked up, just barely catching her face fall back into an expression that was attentive and respectful, albeit with a little twinkle left in her eyes. He so wanted to call her on it.
"I had a fifteen minute break scheduled for 19:30," Jack said instead. "I was thinking... dinner?" He tapped a finger on the side of the box. "Off-base."
Carter's brow furrowed. "I thought you said you only had fifteen minutes?"
"Yep," Jack said. He watched, amused, as Carter struggled to reply.
"I don't think, I mean, sir, we really shouldn't--"
"But you want to, right?" Jack said. It wasn't a hypothetical question, and Jack could see Sam realize that he really meant to escape from the base and take her along.
Carter was saved from replying by the phone ringing shrilly. She jumped and had answered the phone before Jack had the opportunity to stop her. Her eyes flicked away and down to her workbench.
"Yes, sir. Yes, he's here. Yes. I--" another frown ghosted across her face. "We'll be right there," she said, hanging up.
"Problem?" Jack said.
Carter shook her head. "I don't know, sir. General Landry just said there was something we needed to hear."
Carter gave him a look that said "your guess is as good as mine."
Jack sighed, wondering if the universe was conspiring against him. Probably. "Alright. Let's see what the good General has for us."
They left, Jack making sure to leave last so Carter couldn't flip the lid of the box closed on her way out. That was worth at least two seconds of frustration for her later--a little reminder of him.
The impromptu briefing was short and to the point: supposedly hidden Ancient stash, required the gene to access, with a window of opportunity a few days long. According to the tablet Daniel translated, they had five hours left until the window closed for another two weeks.
"I want it sooner rather than later," Landry said.
Sam knew he had to be getting a lot of pressure from Washington; would have guessed it even without the look Jack gave him. She was surprised, however, when Jack said that "he and his genes" would tag along, and then realized that the likelihood of finding someone else with the gene who wasn't already on a mission or in the infirmary was slim.
SG-1 left the briefing room to gear up, with Jack leading the way and Sam behind, a little angry at the universe for picking this particular moment to butt in to her personal life again, and maybe a little relieved that it had. She stared at the back of Jack's head, catching herself and looking away before anyone else noticed.
"Just like old times," Cam said, slapping Teal'c on the back, which earned him not even so much as a twitch from the larger man. Apparently, Teal'c's lack of reaction didn't bother Cam, because he turned away still grinning.
"Oh, boy," Daniel said.
Once Cam was looking away, Teal'c turned to Sam and gave her a slow, measured look that had her rushing to conceal her smile. Frustrated with the universe or not, Sam couldn't help but find Cam's enthusiasm contagious.
It was only a little while until all five of them were geared up and ready to go, making final adjustments to straps in the gateroom. Above them, the chevrons encoded, locked, and then the wormhole opened.
Landry's voice boomed. "SG-1, you have a go."
They started up the ramp. On her right, Jack stepped a little closer until he was just brushing her side. Sam shot him a look. His lips quirked. "Never gets old."
She couldn't help herself. She grinned back, only looking forward the instant before they hit the event horizon and the world disappeared.
Of course he'd wind up unbelievably screwed. The second Jack landed on P44-298 there had been a flash of light and he had felt that funny, going-to-be-beamed-somewhere feeling he hated. He had just enough time to see the surprised looks onTeal'c , Cam, and Daniel's faces before they whited out again. He felt Carter's hand grab his jacket just before he felt the need to shut his eyes against the light.
A second later, and he was somewhere else, staring at a blank, stone wall.
"Oh, no," Carter said, softly.
Jack hadn't realized she was still there. He usually got stuck in these kinds of places alone. Carter's hand dropped from his jacket and Jack turned around, saw what Carter had been reacting to. Just in front of them was a doorway that looked out onto nothing but sky. Jack moved forward a couple of steps to look a little bit down.
Carter had come closer, too. "Wow," she said.
It was a bit of an understatement. Right outside the doorway, a mountain dropped away from their feet as fast as it could. A little bit further down, the mountain sloped up again, creating a sort of nook, into which it looked like someone had wedged a building as best as they could—parts of it were hidden behind outcroppings of rock, and the whole left side seemed to disappear into the mountain instead of ending.
Jack stepped just a little closer to the edge and spotted a sharp set of stairs--leading not just down but around and out of sight.
"Carter?" he said, and she blinked for a second and then headed straight for her...gizmo thing. She turned it on.
She frowned at the screen and tapped a few controls, turning back into what Jack now saw was a closet of a room. It might have been eight by eight feet, and it was completely bare except for two pillars--one on either side of the room. Carter now ran her hand down one of them and twisted her finger a bit, popping open a compartment and revealing crystal technology.
"I think this is what brought us--well, you, really--here." She looked up. "I'm pretty sure it's keyed to the Ancient gene, because no one else came with."
Jack hated his genes sometimes. Though if Carter ever let him time-travel... he skipped over the part where a version of him apparently had, because that train of thought made him think Carter was right about time travel being a very bad idea.
Carter looked thoughtful. "Sir...it's possible the Ancients hid their technology here."
Jack considering pretending he hadn't already thought that the moment Carter had mentioned the Ancient gene and goading her a bit for old time's sake, but she had already picked up on his guess and given him a rueful smile. Jack just shrugged his shoulders and nodded toward the open door. "We should try that building down there."
Carter hesitated and then said, "I'm wondering if we should make sure we can get back first."
"Oh? Haven't you figured it out yet?" Jack said, keeping his tone light.
Carter responded with a quick flash of irritation before realizing he was teasing. "No, sir," she said, finally, settling on an expression that said something to the effect of, "I'm not sure why I put up with you."
Jack wasn't sure, either, but he was glad she did.
It took Sam five minutes to figure out they were screwed, and five more to work up the courage to say it.
She sneaked a look at Jack, who was staring out the doorway at the sky, which was getting darker every minute. The sun had seemed to almost fall out of the sky, plummeting behind a tall peak directly opposite the building they were in. The temperature had dropped, too--not uncomfortably cold, but quite a bit cooler than she liked, considering that they were apparently staying the night.
And probably longer.
She sighed and bit the bullet. "It's broken."
Jack turned, his face shadowed and unreadable, and Sam blinked to try to get her eyes to adjust to the dark after the soft light of the panel she had been working on.
"But we can go back?" he said finally.
Sam shook her head. "Not the way we came. It's--" she took a breath to explain the problem with the power source, but checked herself. "--shot," she said. "Some of the crystals are cracked clear through." She held up a green one. It looked whole until she tilted it and the light from the panel struck the flawed planes inside. "We're lucky we made it here in one piece."
Jack looked between them. "Two, I think."
Sam wondered if he could see her face in the reflected light from the panel and just managed to keep her eyes from rolling. "Yes, sir." Her eyes were adjusting to the dim light now that she'd looked away from the panel, and she could just make out his expression, which was carefully neutral.
"So...you can fix it, right?"
Sam quashed the brief flare of annoyance Jack's words brought. It wasn't entirely unfair of him to expect a miracle, after all. Still, her silence seemed to clue him in to the reality of their situation.
"Damn it," he said.
She wasn't exactly thrilled herself, but Jack's expression conveyed his opinion loud and clear.
"I see," Jack said. "I guess we'll have plenty of time to explore, then."
Sam winced. "Yes, sir."
Jack said, "Well, at least I'm not stuck on a deserted planet with Maybourne this time."
He infused the statement with enough melodrama that Sam smiled despite herself. "You mean you prefer my company?" she teased.
"Vastly," he asserted, in a tone that fell short of teasing and settled somewhere in uncomfortable truth.
Sam swallowed. They were just a bit over that line they didn't cross, or hadn't crossed until that phone conversation. She tried to think of something to say to undercut the tension, but the moment passed, and then Jack cleared his throat, swung himself to his feet, and began planning for the coming night.
From there, they fell into a natural routine, settling who got first and second watch with the ease born out of long practice, although Jack's easy orders sent a little tingle of resentment down Sam's spine--something that was new after so many years of not letting that part of their relationship bother her. She was beginning to question her earlier leap of...faith, or stupidity, or whatever had possessed her when she'd decided to just go for it. It was hard to see how any real change between the two of them could even be possible, let alone advisable, and she thought they really couldn't consider changing the statusquo while off-world; there had been too many years of maintaining their distance in situations just like these.
Sam sighed. She grabbed her sleeping bag and sat down in the doorway, having been lucky enough to get first watch and thinking she might need the extra warmth. Outside, the stars winked in a deep blue sky, and the ground was just a rough outline of a shape below her. It was beautiful.
She was startled when Jack pulled his own sleeping back right up to the entrance. He was standing against the sky, and his outline shrugged through the stars.
"Shame to waste stars like that," he said. He bent down and crawled inside his bag, shifting until he looked almost comfortable.
Sam stayed quiet, listening with one part of her brain to Jack's breathing as it evened out and deepened. With another part of her mind, she cataloged their supplies, ran through a few power equations for transporting devices, and kept from twitching her feet enough to wake Jack. Eventually, though, she just looked out at the alien night sky, her mind creating patterns to stars it was possible no one had seen for centuries.
Jack skidded down a rough slope, little pebbles and clods of dirt bouncing behind him. He hoped this almost-path down the mountain didn't have another surprise hill after the slight rise in front of him, because his knee was actually trying to kill him, and he really wasn't in intergalactic shape any more.
Carter slid to a stop next to him, not even breathing that hard, and for just one moment, Jack felt a little nervous twitch by his eye. He closed his eyes and regretted it as his annoyance at being shown up by Carter was replaced by the image of her waking slowly, her face lit dimly by the early morning light, her eyelids fluttering open and then her slow, slow smile when she saw him.
His gut tightened, and he opened his eyes to look ahead at the next rise.
"I think we're almost there, sir," she said, and betrayed her own exertion by rubbing one hand across her forehead, catching a couple of drops of sweat that threatened her eyes.
The unconscious movement made Jack feel a bit better. Less old. He indicated the hill with a jerk of his thumb, and Carter started moving again, in front this time. Jack mostly kept up with her, and they crested the rise at the same time.
Before them lay a structure, obviously Ancient, and not protected by a forceshield, since Jack could see where the mountains' weather had left its mark on the stone over the centuries it had lain there.
Directly ahead of them was a door. Carter started to walk up to it, and Jack followed behind a little more slowly. There wasn't a handle, but Jack was pretty used to that and had a suspicion about how to open the door.
Sure enough, Carter stopped right before it, scanning the sides for any sort of mechanism, whereas Jack walked right up to it and barely paused before it slid open, as smoothly as if it had been closed just yesterday.
Carter glanced at him with just a little worry amidst a whole bunch of professional awe at the technology involved, and Jack shrugged. The Ancients seemed to have assumed that anyone with their gene would be allowed access to most things, so he wasn't surprised this place worked the same way. The inside of the building was dark, but instead of reaching for his flashlight, Jack thought, "On," and on the lights came, with nary a flicker. This earned him another, covert, look from Carter, and this time Jack didn't pretend he hadn't seen it. "Hey--that part's cool," he said, maybe just a little bit smug.
Carter shook her head and stepped further into the building.
The initial musty smell was dissipating quickly, and Jack barely noticed it before it was gone. The room they entered was blank and featureless, an empty space that was only about ten feet wide, but at least twenty feet tall. There were two hallways on either side of the room, and, above the openings, windows cut into the walls. It was more industrial than Ancient, with none of the soft colors of Atlantis, and the floor and windows had a film of grime over them that made the room look gloomier than theSGC.
"They've really let the place go," Jack said.
Carter frowned. "At least the lights work." She peered down the right-hand hallway. Jack couldn't see anything but bare walls in either direction. "I wonder if there's anything else in here."
"Maybe a map to the nearest Stargate," Jack said.
Carter said, "If we're lucky."
Jack tapped his boot and watched dust swirl around his foot for a second before settling back down. "So...right or left, Carter?"
Carter gave the right-hand hallway another quick glance and then headed left, Jack trailing behind her. There were doors in the hallway at regular intervals, all of them open, and all of the rooms as empty as the entrance. It was quiet--there was no machinery other than the lights overhead--and their steps echoed softly around them as they followed the hallway to where it ended in a blank wall.
"This is strange," Carter said as they turned around. "I've gotten so used to seeing abandoned outposts with--"
"--stuff," Jack interrupted.
"Yes, sir," Carter said, thoughtful. "I kinda expected to find at least a couple of crystals. Something to fix that transportation device--"
Jack shrugged. "We still have another direction."
But the right-hand corridor proved as disappointing as the left. The same empty rooms, the lazy swirls of dust, the blank wall at the end.
"Damn it," he muttered, turning in time to see a familiar expression on Carter's face, the one that announced she had reached the end of her optimism.
"Stop that," he said.
"Sir, there's nothing here, and I can't fix that device--"
"Ah! Carter, we've been here a day. We've got time." He stuck his hands in his pockets. "We haven't even taken a good look around outside."
He watched Carter swallow her objections and then his reassurances, watched her pack away doom and gloom for another half hour or so. When he was sure she wasn't going to say anything else for the moment, he jerked his head in the direction they'd come. "Let's see what we can see."
It didn't take long to walk back to the entrance. Idly, Jack wondered how come this place was cleared out so well, when most of the other Ancient outposts had been abandoned as-is. He had a mental picture of a cave filled with treasure and a man standing outside, dressed in loose clothes and a turban. He turned toward the door, muttering "Open sesame," as he went.
Oh, well. It had been worth a shot.
Sam was heading for a court-martial, or at least a nice, combative argument with her superior officer.
It had all started today when the cheerful morning-person side of Jack's personality returned. Sam had forgotten just how annoying it was that then-Colonel O'Neill always woke up off-world itching to go, especially since on Earth he tended to fall asleep in the middle of briefings on Earth. She hadn't noticed the first night, because he had taken the second watch, but today...
It didn't help that over the years Sam had become less appreciative of early-morning wakeups.
It really didn't help that she had gotten used to not having a real commanding officer. Not exactly fair to Cam, but it was true thatSG-1 was not led by Cam as much as...held together by him.
So, when Cam started humming in the morning, Sam could tell him to shut up. When Jack started humming, Colonel Carter had to keep her mouth shut and endure his off-key rendition of what sounded like "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean" mixed with "Hit Me Baby One More Time."
At least Cam could carry a tune.
Sam concentrated on ignoring Jack.
The planet they found themselves on was teeming with small animals and insects, berries and a few copses of trees that produced a small, yellow fruit that was tart and juicy and hadn't made either of them sick yet. The grass they were walking through reminded Sam of an edible grain she'd seen on P7X-489, though it wasn't ripe, and it was obviously uncultivated. There were no paths, no sign of human--or alien--civilization at all.
She just hoped there was a Stargate. Preferably in this hemisphere.
"Penny for your thoughts."
Sam jumped. "What?" she said, snapping back from thoughts of continental drift, orbits, winters, and socks. Her brain worked to decipher the words, and she shook her head. "I was just--"
He was still humming.
"Could you cut that out?" she snapped.
Jack looked taken aback. "Colonel?" he said, in a mild tone meant to be a warning.
Sam struggled. On the one hand, she'd known as well as Jack did that this...detour meant they had to act professionally. On the other, she knew that if she kept capitulating every time it looked like they were heading for an argument, any relationship they started was doomed to be short, lopsided, and carry a whole lot of resentment on both their parts.
"I just...wish I knew where we were," she compromised, hinting a little with her tone that she didn't mean their location.
He didn't react, which was a dead giveaway that he got it. "It doesn't matter, does it?"
Sam winced internally. He didn't mean it quite the way it sounded, she was sure. "Doesn't it, sir?" she said quietly.
His shoulders tensed. "Right now, we just need to find a Stargate and get home. We can worry about...that later."
"What if we don't? Find a way home," Sam said.
"We will," Jack said, utterly confident. It wasn't like the past few years had done much to divest him of his optimism. They'd defeated theGoa'uld , after all, and the Replicators, and they'd had any number of other impossible situations that had been resolved to their benefit over the years.
His surety was frustrating, but it was also one of the best things about him. When he said things like that--unbelievably stupid things--you believed it. At least for a few seconds.
Jack gestured with his gun in the general direction of the river they had been following. "Betcha it's right beyond the next hill."
The country was completely flat in all directions except behind them, as far as Sam could see. "What do I get when I win?" she asked.
"Confidence! I'd like it except it's just...so misplaced." Jack squinted into the sun. "If you win--which you won't--I'll... build you a house. For winter."
"Oh, come on! You would do that anyway."
"Yeah, well...we're going to need it if you're right."
Sam folded her arms. "Fine. But you do a week of cooking, too."
"Fine." Jack mimicked her position. "And when I win, you come fishing. With me. Alone."
Sam's arms fell to her sides. She swallowed, hesitated, and then figured why not?. "I would do that anyway."
Jack stared, and then the edge of his mouth turned up. "We are so making it home."
After a week following the river, Jack had begun to think the whole planet might be flat--barring the mountains they'd come out of. Then yesterday the sound of the river had gotten louder, and louder, and they had followed it right up to a sheer drop, the river cascading down in a massive waterfall that misted halfway down, vibrant green ferns and twisted trees framing the drop. It wasn't an impossible, alien vista, but it was impressive.
They'd spent the day climbing down to the valley floor, the air getting more humid, the underbrush more dense. They'd made it just as the sun was setting, using the fading light to get far enough away from the waterfall to think.
This morning, they'd found the purple berries. They had been delicious, tarter than the berries on the high plain had been, with seeds that barely got in the way. The juice stained their fingers, and they sucked at the drips, Carter's mischievous grin spilling around her fingers.
It was all Jack could do to keep from kissing her right then and there.
And then it started raining. The foliage down in the canyon was so dense they hadn't managed to notice the cloud cover sweeping in.
Jack stared up at the sky, open mouthed. It felt like someone had turned on a shower. A shower that was a little too cool for comfort. A shower that was quickly turning the ground into a muddy, slippery mess, a fact Jack discovered when he tried to take a step and ended up falling on his ass instead.
"Instead of laughing, why don't we try helping?" Jack grumbled, sure that he used to be much better at walking.
Carter's eyes were twinkling when she came over, sliding almost as much as he had, her hair plastered to her face. "The layer underneath is packed more densely," she said. "That's why you fell."
"Yeah, well," Jack said. He almost had it...he reached for Carter's hand to haul himself up, but he must have misjudged his footing, because instead of standing, he was falling again, only this time Carter came with him.
She landed on him and her elbow socked him in the stomach, driving the air from his lungs. He wheezed and finally managed to breathe again, despite the pressure from Carter pinning him to the ground. Laughing.
Jack stared at her for just a second, and then the humor caught up with him. He let his head fall back to the ground and let the rain wash across his face. Jack let out a huff of laughter himself as Carter tucked her head into his neck and his nose ended up buried in her hair, and now Jack wasn't laughing, was concentrating on the feel of Carter beneath his hands.
When had he last touched her?
Jack was trying to dredge up some self control and failing miserably. His left hand snaked around and into her hair, and his right was already on her back. His fingers moved reflexively, and then Jack felt Carter's muscles tense beneath his hand.
Slowly, Carter's smile faded, and she focused on his eyes. She leaned forward, and her eyes closed just as their foreheads met. Jack felt her breath on his skin, her fingers brushing over his ears as she mirrored his position.
"Sam," he said quietly.
God, but he wanted this.
He couldn't let himself have it, though. He could make a case for things being different back home where they were in different jobs, different lives, but here they were still the same as they always had been.
He took a shaky breath. "Carter, I don't think we should--do this."
"What?" she said. She sounded distracted, and her fingertips curled against his scalp.
Jack swallowed. "I'm not ready to give up," he said.
Carter's eyes popped open and she pulled back. A part of Jack admired the way she went from fuzzy to angry in two seconds flat. He held her gaze, though, watching her eyes narrow and then widen with an expression that sent Jack's stomach plummeting. She removed her hand from the back of his head and placed it against his chest, using it to get to her feet. She wasn't gentle about it, either--Jack's supporting arm crumpled and he ended up on his back.
"I'll be walking," she said, jabbing her thumb over her shoulder.
She took off through the trees. Jack let his head fall back to the ground.
Sam turned over in her sleeping bag, trying to quiet her mind enough to go to sleep for a few hours. Behind her, she could just hear little noises from Jack, who had relieved her from watch quite a few minutes ago, and around them both she heard the white noise of insects, unmarred by sounds of larger animals, unbroken by the rain which had stopped a scant twenty minutes after it started. She took a breath and let it out slowly, relaxing her body on the gentle exhalation.
It was no use. Her mind refused to shut off. After the incident with the berries this morning, Sam had found herself jumping from emotion to emotion, swinging wildly from resignation to frustration to resentment to anger and back again. And she wasn't really sure why--she should be glad Jack had stopped her before she had done something really, really stupid.
And she was.
Sam turned over again.
But why was it stupid? Okay, so they were off-world. But it wasn't like they hadn't been...that is, except for that one thing, they weren't any worse off than they were back home, and when Jack had been in her lab, asking her to dinner, she had been hovering on saying "Yes."
Sam tried to put it in perspective, tried to see their relationship from the outside, and failed. It wasn't the regulations that had kept them apart for so long, or at least not only the regulations. And it wasn't like they'd been itching to jump each other every minute of the day for eight and a half years. It was a lot more complicated than that.
And Sam, for one, was ready to see how, alien planet or not.
But apparently Jack wasn't.
Sam sighed and turned again.
"Okay," Jack said, startling her from her thoughts. "Are you going to keep thinking all night, or are you going to get some sleep?" He sounded irritated. "Because if you'd like, you can take the rest of the watch, too."
"Sorry, sir," Sam said automatically. And then she sat up. "Actually, I've been thinking."
Jack groaned. "Carter. Go to sleep."
There wasn't much light to see by, but Sam could feel Jack's expression in the rustle of his clothes as he shifted, in his tone. "Because, oh, I don't know, I ordered you to?"
"No, I mean, why did you stop me? This morning?"
Dead silence. "Carter, I don't think this is the right time for--"
"Why not?" Jack repeated. Now he sounded a little bit panicked. "Carter--"
Sam said, ticking each item off as she went along, "We've defeated the Goa'uld, we aren't on the same team anymore, and it's not like we weren't... negotiating before this trip anyhow, so don't try using theOri as an excuse."
"Carter, I--" Now Jack really did sound panicked. "We're off-world," he said, and boy, he must have heard how stupid that sounded.
Sam grinned. This was actually kinda fun, now that she'd finally decided what she wanted. "There's nothing on this planet bigger than a rabbit, so it's not like we're in constant danger--unless you count dying of sheer boredom--and it's not like we aren't going fishing the second we get back."
There was dead silence for at least a minute. Sam waited it out, surprisingly not nervous.
Finally, Jack cleared his throat. "So, uh...what are you saying?"
She took a breath. "I'm not giving up," she said, "but I don't want to wait for someday anymore."
Another pause, and then a ragged, "Ah."
Which wasn't exactly the response Sam had been going for, so she wriggled out of her bag and made her way to where Jack was still sitting, dropping down to her knees so she was on a level with him.
"So, I'm saying--"
Jack picked that moment to agree with her, his arm shooting out and dragging her down so their faces were less than an inch apart.
"You're saying that I should kiss you," he suggested.
"That--yes," Sam said, and it was the last thing either of them spoke for quite a while.
Four days later they came across the Stargate.
It was two more before they dialed Earth.