Title: First Christmas
Category: romance, friendship, a bit of angst
Summary: She didn't feel like celebrating Christmas, this year
Archives: my website, others ask please, I never refuse
Disclaimer: I own neither the show nor the characters. I don't earn any money; I just do it for fun.
Author's Note: This fic was written for the Sam/Jack Secret Santa at sj_ wanted, amongst other things, "the first Christmas Sam spends after Jacob dies". So here you go! I hope you enjoy it, as I had a great time with your prompt!
She didn't feel like celebrating Christmas, this year.
Some people would think it was because her father had just passed away a few weeks before, and while it was one of the reasons, it wasn't the main one. No, she was just feeling tired. Exhausted even. They had just won an eight years long fight. They had just rid the galaxy of two of its worst enemies, and now she just wanted to rest. The week spent at Jack's cabin already felt like it happened a lifetime ago with all the changes that had taken place since they came back.
SG1 didn't exist anymore. Not under her command, anyway. She had requested a transfer to Area 51 to be there if Cassie needed her. The teenager had gone through a rough patch after Janet's death, and since her presence at the SGC wasn't vital anymore, she decided to be there for her.
She wasn't the only one leaving. Daniel was getting ready to leave for Atlantis at the beginning of the year, and Teal'c was spending more time on Dakara than on Earth. She couldn't blame them as she was the one to initiate the changes. They didn't need them as the flagship team anymore; they were free to pursue their other interests.
Even Jack was gone, replacing Hammond as the head of Homeworld Security who left for his long-awaited retirement. He talked to her about his transfer, going as far as requesting her advice. They had talked about them while at the cabin, and had agreed to do something about it. But neither had thought that it would involve him leaving the SGC and moving to the East coast.
And Mark, the only family she had left, was spending Christmas with his in-laws; he had invited her to join them, but she had refused. She would probably be alone, but that was alright. She was just feeling exhausted, and with her friends and family scattered around the country and the galaxy, she wasn't feeling like celebrating Christmas.
So when she woke up on Christmas Eve morning to the sound of activity in her house, she first thought of thieves. That was until she realised that even muffled, she could recognize the voices coming from her living-room. Rolling her eyes, she got up, donned her robe, and left her room.
"You know, I could call the cops on you for breaking and entering," she said as a way of greeting.
"Nah, that wouldn't work," Jack replied, smiling at her. "We used the keys you gave us. We entered but without breaking."
"We just wanted to surprise you," Cassie added, walking up to her and hugging her. "Missed you."
"Missed you to, Cass," she replied, tightening her hold on her. "So what are you all doing here?"
"We're spending Christmas with you. It was Uncle Jack's idea."
At the teenager's revelation, she saw him lower his head and had to smile.
Daniel and Teal'c each hugged her in turn, and if she knew their time together was coming to an end, they also proved to her that it wouldn't change anything.
"None of us wanted you to be alone, now. And let's be honest, who were we going to spend Christmas with, if not with each other?"
"I wouldn't have said it better, Daniel Jackson."
She couldn't help the tears that welled up in her eyes at these words, but she kept them at bay, as Jack closed the distance between them.
Before she could say anything, his hands rested on her hips, and his lips pressed against hers. She responded by wrapping her arms around his neck and pushing herself against him. He deepened the kiss and she barely spared a thought for the other people in the room. She was still surprised, though, that he was kissing her in front of them. Sure, they had talked about them, and they even managed to date twice before he had to leave for Washington DC, but she had thought they would keep it to themselves for the time being. Hell, they hadn't even made it past second base, yet.
When they finally broke the kiss, if only for Cassie's sake, he hugged her tight, resting his head in the crook of her neck, dropping a kiss there. She kept her eyes closed, not wanting the moment to end just yet. But she waited for questions to come their way, and it surprised her when there weren't any. She opened her eyes to find that they were now alone in the room.
"Where are they?" she asked, though not moving one inch from his embrace.
"Don't know, don't care," he replied, and she felt his lips moving against her skin.
"Want some coffee?" Daniel's voice came from somewhere on her right, answering her question.
Extracting herself from Jack's arms, she found him walking towards her with a cup of coffee in his hand. She could see Teal'c and Cassie in the kitchen, making breakfast, both at home amongst her belongings. She took the cup from him, kissing his cheek in the process. With one look, she conveyed her thanks to him for not asking anything, just accepting.
Taking Jack's hand in hers, she started tugging him towards the kitchen. She was about to go help with the breakfast when both men stopped her, and made her sit at the counter.
"You sit here, and let us take care of everything, Carter."
"Really? You keep calling her Carter?" Cassie asked, turning towards them.
"Pet name," he just replied, and Sam smiled.
She didn't care how he chose to call her, as long as they both know that their relationship had changed. And really, she would have missed him calling her 'Carter', so she was just glad he kept his habit.
"Eat your breakfast, and then we'll go tree hunting," Cassie said, placing a plate in front of her. "Or you know, we'll just go to the closest Christmas tree market."
"I'm surprised you didn't bring one already."
"Jack said that since it's your house, you get to choose it," Daniel replied.
Looking at all of them in turn, she couldn't help the warm feeling that was spreading through her chest. Her friends, the family she had chosen, were doing everything they could to make her spend a good Christmas.
"You know, I had actually planned on sleeping in, this morning," she joked, wanting to lighten the mood.
Three hours later, they were finally home, with not only a huge tree, but also everything they would need to cook both tonight and Christmas day dinners.
As she watched Jack and Teal'c put down the tree in the corner they had previously cleared, she realised that it was probably the tallest tree she ever had. She would never have enough ornaments to properly decorate it.
"So what do we do first?" Cassie asked, clapping her hands together, having finished putting the groceries away with Daniel's help.
"Let's trim the tree and then decorate the rest of the house," Sam suggested. "It'll be more festive that way."
"Teal'c, go help Carter with her boxes of decorations."
She gestured for him to follow her, sending a look towards Jack. She wondered why he didn't want to help her; she wouldn't have minded if they were able to sneak a few minutes away from their friends.
When she and Teal'c came back in the living-room with her boxes, she saw other boxes already littering the floor. She raised her eyebrows at Jack, silently asking him for an explanation.
"I thought we could use some of my stuff for your house, this year," he replied, shrugging. "And I have outdoor Christmas lights, which you don't have."
"Thank you," she whispered, pecking his lips.
"Ok, kids. Let's start. We have a lot to do. Teal'c and Daniel, you're outside with me. Sam, Cassie, start decorating inside. You can take anything you want from these two boxes. And wait for us for the tree!" he added, already pushing a reluctant Daniel towards the door.
"You think we should tell him that it won't do him any good to order his girlfriend around?"
"It's hard to break a habit," Sam replied. "And I don't really like this word, 'girlfriend'. It makes me feel like a teenager."
"Well, what do you want to say? Special friend? Fiancée? Nope, that won't do. I don't see a ring, yet," she said, looking at her hand. Besides, you two looked like horny teenagers, earlier," she added, making Sam blush.
"Ok, fine, I get your point. Girlfriend is ok, I guess. Now, let's start, otherwise, the boys will wonder what we were up to."
"Should we look at what Uncle Jack has, first?"
Sam nodded at the suggestion, and sat on the floor, followed suit by Cassie. She carefully opened the first box, and took a look inside. She recognized some of the decorations from past Christmases at his place, but others she had never seen. It felt weird to go through his stuff while he wasn't there, but in a way, it meant a lot; their relationship had changed, and it was just another step they were taking.
Smiling, she took one of the decorations out of the box to show it to Cassie.
"Wow, it's beautiful! I didn't know he had hand carved wood decorations," she said, as she took another one out of the box.
"He told me about them, once. His father made them when he was a little boy."
"So, where do we put them?"
"Why not on the fireplace mantel?"
Sam got up and placed the first decoration, a sleigh, on the mantel. Cassie handed her the next one, and one by one, they all found their place, arranged carefully by Sam.
A few tinsels here, some candles there, and soon the whole living-room was decorated, as well as the entrance. Only one of Sam's boxes had been left untouched, and Cassie had seen her hesitate a few times.
"What's in there?" she finally bit the bullet, wanting to know.
"That was my Dad's," Sam answered, sitting before it. "When he left Earth, he told me to keep it for him. Before he met my mother, he had been stationed in France, a minor facility in Marseille. That's in the South, by the Mediterranean Sea. There's a fair each December where they sell these," she said, taking out a santon and showing it to Cassie. "Dad immediately loved them, and bought quite a few, as you can see."
"There are at least three dozens of... What do you call them?"
"Santons. It means 'little saint' in Provençal."
"Are they hand-made?" she asked, and Sam nodded in answer.
They stayed silent for long minutes. Cassie could see different emotions on Sam's face, as she was obviously remembering good memories of Christmases past. She could also see her biting her lower lip, as if she was unsure of something, and it didn't take long for Cassie to guess what she was thinking.
"I think he would have been happy if you displayed them," she said in a soft voice, not wanting to startle Sam out of her thoughts.
Cassie waited; she didn't want to push Sam, she wanted her to be ready. She smiled inwardly as she noticed that in a way, this situation was a mirror to the one they found themselves in, the year before, when Janet died. Sam had been there for her, but she didn't push her, she just waited for her to be ready. And today, on Christmas Eve, she wanted to do the same for her.
Finally, Sam seemed to have made up her mind, and she got up under Cassie's watchful look. Clearing out the space on the large windowsill, she put the first santon there, before turning back towards the teenager. They smiled at each other, as Cassie got up from the floor, and started handing out each santon in turn.
"It's perfect," Sam said as she put the last one down.
As if on cue, the front door opened, and they could hear Daniel complaining about Jack, though they couldn't make out about what it was exactly. By the time the boys joined them in the living-room, Jack had put an end to the conversation, and Sam wondered if she was just being paranoid, or if it had concerned her. One look at him told her what she needed; they had been the subject of the discussion.
"Hey, you're done, too."
"Not quite yet, Jack," Cassie replied. "We still have to trim the tree."
"And I thought we could do that all together," Sam offered with a smile.
Daniel and Teal'c both agreed with her suggestion, but Jack remained silent. As she looked at him, she noticed that his gaze was fixed on the fireplace mantle. She briefly wondered if putting them there was a good idea, but Jack's lips stretching in a smile reassured her. He turned towards her, and kissed her cheek.
"They're perfect there," he whispered so that she was the only one who could hear him. "So, let's do the tree. And after that, lunch!"
They started decorating, working efficiently as the team they were, Cassie being a perfect fifth member.
Sam was the one to put the star on the top of the tree, and they all took a step back, as Jack went to plug in the lights.
"You ready?" he asked, before switching the lights on. "Here we go. We got ourselves a Christmas tree."
"It's beautiful!" Cassie exclaimed, wrapping one arm around Sam's waist. "Ok, let's have lunch, now, we still have a lot to do before tonight! I'll order the pizzas!" she finished, hurrying to the phone.
"Ok, one question," Jack lowered his voice so that she wouldn't hear him. "Who put her in charge and thought it was a good idea?" When they all stayed silent, he sighed. "I thought so. She's a Napoleonic power monger, just like her mother."
Sam couldn't help but giggle at his words, burying her face in his chest, to try and contain them. One of his hands came to rest against the small of her back, his thumb drawing small, comforting, circles there.
"Just for the record," Daniel's voice broke the silence, "I think it's great."
He didn't need to clarify his meaning for them to understand what he was talking about. Sam knew their friends would accept them without questions, but to actually hear that they were supportive of them made a warm feeling spread in her chest. Raising her head from Jack's chest, she winked at him. Turning around, she walked to Daniel, and planted a kiss on his cheek, before bending down to pick an empty box.
"Ok, guys. Why don't you help me put all these boxes away in the basement?"
"I can't eat anymore," Daniel said, falling heavily down on the couch.
Sam smiled at his words, but she was actually feeling exactly the same as her friend, and looking around, she knew they weren't the only ones. Even Teal'c, who usually ate way more than them, looked like he couldn't put anything down anymore.
The fire was crackling in the fireplace, and aside from the Christmas tree lights, it was the only light in the room. Looking at the clock, she noticed that it was close to midnight; it was no wonder she was feeling tired, her day had been full.
As she rested her head on Jack's shoulder, she looked at her friends and saw that she wasn't the only one about to fall asleep. One look at the window told her that the snow was falling heavily outside, and it made up her mind.
"Why don't you guys all stay here for the night? I have room," she added before any of them could protest.
"It looks like the snow won't stop any time soon," Jack mused out loud. "And since we'll spend Christmas day together..."
"It would certainly be safer that way. And I don't think Daniel Jackson is up to driving at the moment."
Sam smiled at Teal'c's words, knowing that he was right. The archaeologist had quite a few drinks that evening, and as he never was able to hold his liquor, she could see he was about to fall asleep.
"Ok, that's settled then. Cassie, you'll take your room. Daniel can take the sofa bed in the study, and Teal'c, I'm afraid you're left with one of the couches here."
"It'll be perfect, Colonel Carter."
"Hey, what about Jack?" Daniel chose this moment to wake up, and Cassie, sitting next to him, elbowed him in the stomach. "Ouch! Ok, sorry, got it."
Sam couldn't help the blush that crept up her face at Daniel's words, and hoped that the fire concealed it from the others. Of course, the same question came to her mind, but she had dismissed it. Not only were they both adults, but they were also a couple, and while they hadn't shared a bed before, it only felt natural for them to do so tonight.
"Teal'c, why don't you help Daniel up while I make his bed ready?" Cassie asked, already getting up from the couch, and going to the linen closet.
Saying his goodnights, Teal'c lifted Daniel from the couch, and waited until the archaeologist found his footing to walk him towards the study. Sam waited until they were both out of earshot before turning towards Jack.
"I hope you don't mind sharing with me, tonight," she said in a quiet voice, biting her lips.
"Better you than Daniel or Teal'c."
She smiled, and he took advantage of their being alone to kiss her. She moaned against his lips, and he deepened the kiss, running his tongue slowly against hers. Wrapping her arms around his neck, Sam wanted nothing more than to straddle his hips, and continue on their way, but the sudden reminder of her friends being in the other room acted like a cold shower. She broke the kiss, and gave him an apologetic smile.
"Not tonight, Jack," she said, and winced at how her words sounded. "What I mean is..."
"I know," he interrupted her, and she saw in his eyes that he did know. "We shouldn't risk scarring them all. I could sleep on the couch, too," he offered, but she shook her head.
"No way. We can share the bed."
Rising to her feet, she held her hand out for him to take, an inviting look on her face. He took it, and she dragged him towards her room, closing the door behind them. She placed a chaste kiss on lips, before taking her nightclothes from the dresser.
"I'm going to go change. Why don't you settle comfortably?"
She disappeared in the bathroom, and when she was done, she could see he had listened to her. He was already under the covers, and when he saw her, he held them up for her. She watched him for a moment, deciding that she could get use to him in her bed, before joining him under the covers. She snuggled up close to him, resting her head on his chest, and taking his arm to wrap it around her.
"Thank you," she said, after a moment.
"I know how it is. My first Christmas without any of my parents there wasn't easy. I was grateful to have Sara and Charlie with him. I didn't want you to be alone."
"I'm happy to have you all, here. Thanks for doing this for me, Jack," she replied, lifting her head to share another kiss. "It means a lot. How long can you stay?" she finally voiced the question that had been on her mind, all day long.
"I have a flight on the 26th." He paused, licked his lips, and asked. "Come spend New Year with me in Washington? The others can come, too, if they want," he added, not wanting her to feel pressured on anything.
"With pleasure. I think Daniel and Teal'c already have plans to go to Dakara, though. And I know for sure that Cassie is spending New Year's Eve with her friends."
"So, it'll be just you and me. Great."
Kissing him once more, she made it last longer than the previous one. His hands were roaming her back by the time they separated for air, and she knew they should put an end to it for the moment; they would have time for themselves later. Pecking his lips one last time, and whispering goodnight, she resumed her previous position.
She lay awake in the dark, listening to his breathing even, for a few more minutes, and smiled. She missed her father that day, but thanks to her friends, her family, the ache in her heart had been dull. Even though he had stayed at the back of her mind, she had been able to let go for a while.
The clock turned midnight; it was now Christmas day. She allowed one last whisper to pass her lips.
"Merry Christmas, Dad."