The Hockey Lesson
Warnings/Spoilers: None
A/N: Happy Birthday, ziparumpazoo, and special thanks to mrspollifax for her beta work on this. To everyone else, Happy Valentine's Day :)

"Jack?" Sam wandered through the rooms of the small cabin looking for him but found only echoes. The coffee pot was still on, half full, and she stopped to pour herself a cup.

It was then that she saw him through the window, out on the frozen lake using a broom to clear a rectangular area of the snow off.

She'd moved around a lot as a kid, just as every Air Force brat did. But a large part of her childhood was spent in California, and maybe because of that, she'd lived decades believing snow and ice were magical. A three-week stint on the frozen tundra of P8X-442 cured her of any lingering illusion, but it still made for a pretty sight.

Sam wrapped herself in a flannel coat and took the coffee mug with her. At the edge of the pond she stood for a moment admiring the grace in his movements. She'd known Jack could skate—or rather assumed he could, because over the years she'd been regaled with his stories of great hockey victories in the final seconds. She'd never asked how recent any of those victories were. It didn't matter; that wasn't the point in telling her.

Jack skated near her, broom still in hand. "There's a pair of ice skates that should fit you, and a stick."

Sure, like that was going to happen. "I don't know how to play hockey. I don't even know how to skate."

"I'll teach you." He flashed her a smile, but it was too quick and too shallow. His true smile—boyish, amused, and lighting his eyes— rarely surfaced these days. It seemed with each star they added to his shoulders that smile lay dormant for longer and longer periods of time. That's about when he'd start getting after her to take a break and come up to the cabin with him.

"Are you really going to teach me?" Sam asked. "Or is this like the time before with the golf club?"

Turned out that showing her how to swing a driver involved him standing right behind her with hands guiding the swing, and eventually, he ended up whispering all sorts of suggestive things in her ear while his hands wandered up from her hips and underneath her shirt. The lesson lasted all of 15 minutes.

"It's all about the follow through, Carter."

"And leading with the hips."

"There you go. I'm an excellent teacher."

Plus, it was way too cold out here to end up doing what they did in his backyard following her golf lesson that day.

Sam sat down in the folding chair and exchanged her shoes for skates while Jack dumped the broom in the snowdrift covering the pier. Lacing up, Sam shook her head at the absurdity of it all. All those years, she never spent time thinking about what it might be like to be with him. But she's positive that if she had tried to picture it, it never would have looked like her life does now.

The first step onto the ice made her think twice, or more accurately, think about broken bones and how far away the closest emergency room might be. Maybe this wasn't the best idea after all? Blind faith in Jack O'Neill was the best course of action most of the time, but there were a few glaring examples to the contrary that came to mind.

"Careful, there." Jack came over and grabbed her arm. "I won't let you fall."

And she believed him, despite herself, because even in the contrary moments he'd at least held her up.

"OK, now what?" she asked, wobbling a little as she tried not to lean on him too much. It was all going to come down to dignity and pride before this was over, she was sure of it.

"Just try it."

Sam took a step forward, and even without looking at him, she knew he was trying not to laugh. "Don't start."

"I'm not! I swear." He cleared his throat. "It's… you might want to try… gliding more than stepping."

Sam pushed off her back foot and he never let go, staying with her as she moved about 6 inches or so.

"Like that?" She did not care that she sounded excited, really.

"Exactly like that."

After a few more, she batted Jack's hand away. Sam skated tentatively, but she certainly wasn't going to lose a limb.

"See, you don't need me after all." He sounded almost pensive.

Sam looked over at him. It was the furthest thing from the truth, and if it took the rest of her life to convince him, she'd gladly take up that challenge.

She smiled, and held out her hand for him to take. "C'mere and show me around your ice rink."

"Like a couples skate?" His eyes changed, the contemplation from a moment ago passed, and he was back to his usual. "C'mon, Carter, I thought we were gonna play hockey? I'll be goalie and you can try to hit me with pucks. It'll be fun."

"Maybe later."

She wound her arm through his; maybe leaning on him a little wasn't such a bad thing. Besides, it had begun to snow, and that always signaled something magical for her.