Sorry folks – a little, teeny, tiny chapter. I was really tired tonight but wanted to get something out to you all. I'll try and keep updating as regularly as I can. As soon as this story is done I'll finish my other two (geesh – I can't believe I actually started that many stories at one time. Next time, please slap my wrists if I try and do that again!) Vini
Jack awoke to the warm and comforting feeling of a soft body spooned up against him. His lips curved slightly. This was so much better than the last time he'd woken up after going to sleep with Sam beside him.
The deep, even tenor of her breathing – and her soft snore - told him that she was still sound asleep. He couldn't help himself; he snuggled closer and pulled her to him. He didn't want to ever let her go.
After a few moments of simply enjoying the warmth of her body, he noticed that she felt – somehow different than she had the last time. He told himself he was just imagining things. It's not like he had a lot of experience in holding her like this. And anyway, the last time hadn't been as well as he was now. No – he had just always thought of Sam as extremely slender and tall and now, holding her, he found her more – soft and rounded – at least around the waist. Maybe it was just that she hadn't been as active as when – he frowned – as before. Oh well, it didn't matter. He loved her and she was –
She was James'! Oh damn, he thought, he'd forgotten that she was engaged. He almost withdrew his arm and pulled away from her, but at the last moment stopped. If she was engaged, what was she doing here, with him, unless it had been simply a 'comfort' thing? What if she still regarded him as something of a child and was treating him like a son or brother? Oh hell! Why did he have to think about something like that, right now?
"Good morning." Her soft voice startled him and he started to pull his arm away. She grasped it and held it around her. "No, that feels nice."
He swallowed, wondering what to say or do. When he hadn't spoken after a couple of minutes she scooted around until she was looking at him.
"What's wrong?" she immediately asked, seeing his expression. She'd thought everything was fine when they'd gone to sleep but now he appeared – worried? angry? She couldn't quite tell.
"You're – you're engaged", he said softly. "We shouldn't – be here – like this."
She wanted to laugh in relief but realized at the last second that Jack would probably completely misunderstand it if she did. "No", she said quickly. "I'm not – not anymore. I broke it off with him."
"You did?" he said, sounding slightly hopeful, although there was still a hesitant sound in his voice.
"Yes, I did. I -" She knew she had to explain carefully but it was hard while lying so close. With a sigh she pushed herself up until she was leaning against the headboard.
Jack grimaced but followed suit, understanding that they had to talk about some things. They'd both been too tired last night – which had resulted in some things said which they'd both regretted. Now however, it was time.
"Why did you get engaged?" Jack asked. "It couldn't have been that long after I left."
"I thought you were dead", she answered plainly. "I looked for you and the people in the town looked. James had his men out looking for weeks. We didn't find you or any sign of you. Everyone told me I had to accept that you'd been killed."
"So that made you jump into a relationship with James?" He couldn't help but sound bitter. He knew it wasn't fair, but hell – they'd slept together and she'd immediately run away and then soon after had taken up with someone else."
"Jack, you have to understand. I was – so lost, so frightened. We've been here almost a year and for most of that time I was looking after you. No – I told you, I didn't mind doing it – never that. But it meant I wasn't able to find us a way home. I'd started to look for a way home when you got a bit better. Then, after you disappeared and they convinced me there was no hope, I looked again. Eventually I came to realize that there was nothing here – at least not that I could find – that would enable me to return home. That meant that I was stuck here for the rest of my life. I had to make a life for myself, all alone, without any of my friends or family – and without you. I was frightened", she repeated.
"And James helped?"
"Yes – yes he did. But I don't want you to think that I ever felt anything for him other than friendship and gratitude. I didn't love him and there was certainly no – physical relationship between us." She laughed slightly. "One of the benefits of living in this society; women aren't supposed to sleep with anyone until after marriage. Anyway", she continued carefully, "he would come by and sympathize and talk to me and – take my mind off of everything for just a little while. So, when he asked me to marry him I thought -"
"You thought he could help take the pain away permanently?"
She nodded and gave him a wobbly smile. "If not permanently then – maybe he could help a bit. But I realized – it couldn't work. I didn't love him and it wasn't fair to him or me – or especially to you – to go ahead with the wedding."
"Why especially me?" he frowned, puzzled. "If I was dead what difference could it make to me?"
She swallowed convulsively. Should she tell him? God – he had a right to know so what was holding her back? She closed her eyes briefly then opened them and took a deep breath. "I didn't love him", was all she could say.
"So you said, but I still don't see -"
She reached over and covered his mouth with her hand. "I didn't love him", she repeated. "It would have dishonored what I felt for – you."
He didn't know what to say. He knew he had to say something, anything, but his tongue felt stuck to the roof of his mouth. What could he say? That he loved her, that he'd loved her for a long time, even if he couldn't remember anything before a few months ago? Could he tell her that he didn't want to live, to exist without her? Could he tell her that she meant everything to him, that she was his life, his soul?
"Uh - okay", he answered. She sat there, looking like she wanted more. Of course she wanted more, you idiot, he said to himself. She'd practically declared herself and he'd done nothing, said nothing. "Uh, I think you're not getting the best deal", he said. Right Jack, dig your grave deeper and deeper. He sighed and stuck his hand through his hair, making his morning bed head even wilder than than it had been. "But, I'm glad." There, a bit better but not great. He could claim his head injury, of course although that only went so far.
"You're glad?" she prompted.
He could have sworn he saw a twinkle in her eyes. Was she laughing at him? Here he was, feeling pure terror and she was enjoying every minute of it. To hell with that Major! He turned and grabbed her and pulled her down until she was lying flat on the bed with him leaning over her. Without saying another word he leaned down and kissed her until – hell, until he had to stop, which wasn't for a long, long time.
When he finally came up for air, he pushed himself up on his arms, not wanting to squash her – at least not more than he already had. This time he wasn't mistaken, she was laughing at him. "What?" he said, his eyes narrowed.
"Does that mean you're really glad?" she giggled.
"You Major, are an evil woman. And yes, I'm really glad. Of course, I would have gotten rid of him anyway. You're mine and that's that."
"Being kind of sexist aren't you?" she said, still laughing.
"Sexist or not, I don't care. You're still mine Carter!"
Slowly her grin faded although she continued to stare at him.
"What?" he asked, beginning to worry.
"You called me Carter", she said. "Does that mean – do you remember?"
He suddenly felt dizzy, and his head began to ache. He rolled over until he was lying on his back, and covered his eyes. Why had he called her Carter? Okay – he was pretty sure he'd remembered that that was her name. She'd used it when he was still at Henry's, but he'd never thought of her that way – at least, not that he could remember. Why then did it feel so – right?
"I – no, I don't think so", he said. "I see – images, flashes of people and places, but I don't know what they mean. I think we were from – somewhere else, but I don't know anything about it."
"I'm so sorry Jack", she said, reaching out and gently touching his face. "I should have been telling you things, explaining them to you. I guess I just didn't think it would mean anything to you. I'm sorry", she repeated.
"It's okay. You're probably right that I wouldn't have really understood. I think I was out of it for a long time." He looked at her questioningly.
"Yes", she said. "It's been almost a year since we were brought here. You were ill for a long time."
"How did we get here?" he wanted to know.
She wanted to cry or to kick herself. She couldn't believe that she'd left him wondering. She should have been telling everything about his life while he was lying in bed. Even if he hadn't been able to understand at first, he would have picked up some things and it would have left him less – lost.
"We were on a mission", she said, "we were on a team together and then we were captured. You were hurt – the people who captured us did something to you, to your head. They must have knocked me out then because the next thing I knew we were here, in the desert outside Mariscola. I thought they had brought us through the stargate, although I haven't found any trace of it. I guess it could have been by ship. What is it?" she suddenly asked, noticing his startled look.
"Stargate", he whispered.
"Yes, it's a large -"
"- metal circle, with symbols all around it", he continued.
"Yes", she frowned, "that's right. You do remember it?"
"I did. I knew it was important, although I didn't know why – still don't, for that matter. But I didn't just remember it. I found it."