Once upon a time, Jack taught Sam how to skate. Over the course of their few trips to the cabin that winter, Sam had become proficient enough on blades to hold her own in a game of one-on-one, but she knew she'd never be as comfortable or as fluid on the ice as Jack was.

Which was fine with her. Especially now, several winters later, with the sun barely peeking over the treetops, and Jack grumbling something about bad timing as he scrounged around on the floor for the pair of pants he'd unceremoniously abandoned the night before.

The knock on the bedroom door had been polite, and the request almost formal. Sam knew Jack had always had a difficult time saying 'no' to the little guy.

"You might as well," she'd said, pulling the quilts just a little tighter around her shoulders. She had no intention of getting out of bed this early on such a cold morning. "You'll only spend the day feeling guilty if you don't."

"I guess." Jack scrubbed his hand through his hair and sighed as he got out of bed. "I think there's a spare pair of skates that'll fit in the shed."

A bit later, Sam cradled her mug of steaming coffee and looked out the small kitchen window towards the pond and the rink that Jack had cleared a couple of day ago when they'd first arrived. It had been a year of heavy snowfall, however, and Sam could only make out the top of Jack's head behind the snow banks that had been shoveled up to block the wind and keep the puck on the ice. She knew from past experience that Jack tended to crouch on skates when he was teaching in order to demonstrate balance and proper form. His 'student' today was much shorter, and Sam suspected that Jack was going to be stiff later. She might not be comfortable on skates to be any help with the skating lesson, but she was sure she could at least provide him with a bit of relief later…

In the mean time, she decided to let the 'boys' have their fun. She tossed a couple more logs in the fire to keep the chill away and curled up with her coffee and the stack of journals she'd been promising herself that she'd get around to reading 'one of these days'.

Sam heard footsteps crunching on the frozen snow of the front steps. She looked up, blinked at the fading daylight, and realized that the fire had nearly burnt itself out. They'd been out on the rink a long time.

"So…" Jack's voice came through the door. "You know, it's traditional to have a mug of hot chocolate after a good skate." The door hinges squeaked as Jack shoved it open. "I think we have some here. I can make some up if you'd like?" His voice sounded almost hopeful. Sam knew that secretly, Jack enjoyed the time he spent with the little guy.

The answer was muffled, and suddenly there was a blinding flash of light. When the spots had cleared from her vision, Sam saw Jack standing in the doorway, shoulders slightly slumped in disappointment.

"Good skate?" she asked as she set the journal she hadn't been paying attention to aside.

"Uh yeah," Jack shrugged and headed towards the kitchen to put the kettle on the stove. He waved a hand dismissively over his shoulder. "The Supreme High Commander of the Asgard couldn't stick around for hot chocolate though. Some family gathering on Cimmeria, or some such thing."

Sam followed him into the kitchen and wrapped her arms around him from behind. She propped her chin against his shoulder. "Well, it was sweet of you to spend the time with him. How'd the lesson go?"

Jack took one of her hands and planted a quick kiss on the palm. "Better than I thought it would, actually. Thor's a quick study."

"Quicker than me? You were out there all day," Sam teased him. She felt him chuckle and gave him a quick squeeze.

"Well, Thor does have a lower center of gravity. He's better on his feet."

Sam slid a cold hand under his shirt and gave him a teasing pinch. Jack flinched.

"I don't think you have anything to worry about though," he turned, caught her wandering hand, and pinned it behind her back. "Because you, my dear," Jack kissed her on the forehead, "like to play dirty."

Sam smiled. That she did.

.end