Written as a Secret Santa present for XFChemist. Merry Christmas!

The First Christmas

The Tree

Jack couldn't remember the last time he'd had an actual real, live Christmas tree in his house. He had tried for years to put one up but couldn't bring himself to do it when he was the only one around. In fact, the last time it had taken him until two days before Christmas to get the tree, it never did get decorated past putting on the lights, and it was darn near Valentine's Day when he'd chucked the withered mess to the curb.

He couldn't help the small laugh that escaped him as he glanced at the blonde woman sitting on the steps donning her socks and snow boots.

"What's so funny?" she asked looking up from pulling on her boots.

"Nothing."

"Doesn't sound like nothing," she said standing up and grabbing her coat and scarf.

"I was just thinking about the last time I had a tree, that's all."

"Oh," she giggled at the thought of watching him and Daniel struggle to get that poor withered tree out of the house and put outside. The mess had been atrocious, they'd spent over an hour cleaning up pine needles and bark. "Well if we want to get back in time before dark, we'd better get going."

"Lead on McDuff."

He grabbed his own coat and hat and they headed out the door. The advantage to owning several acres of woods meant that they could "shop" for a tree literally in their own backyard. They wouldn't have to go too far into the woods but they would have to hike a couple of miles to get to the smaller trees more suited to be cut and carried into the house.

He didn't think this was necessary, but he just couldn't say no to her. Despite the fact that she'd be off-world most of the month and he'd be stuck at the mountain more often than not, especially if she was off-world, she'd insisted that they get a live tree.

"It just makes it seem more like Christmas," she'd told him when they were discussing decorating the house for the holidays. "It makes the house seem more like home."

How could he argue with that?

They started down the hiking trail at the edge of the backyard. The trail started just past the fire pit, a favorite spot for team nights, and as they walked, they immediately fell into step with one another, years of conditioning taking over their senses. Some things, though, were still new and exciting and as Jack reached for her hand, Sam couldn't help the thousand watt smile that lit up her face.

How long had she dreamed of a time like this? How long had they been waiting? Truth be told she cared little about whether the tree was real, though it did remind her of Christmas with her family, she had just wanted to make this memory with him. She wanted to be able to look back and laugh. She wanted to be able to share a story about their first Christmas tree and smile as she reminisced. She wanted good memories to start outnumbering the bad experiences that had transpired over their years serving together at the SGC. There was so much pain and sorrow to make up for that something like this felt like but a baby step. Her father used to always say that you had to crawl before you could walk and walk before you could run. She fought a stab of sadness that threatened to dim her moment as her father's words ran through her. Then she smiled and squeezed the hand holding hers.

Just a walk, Sam, that's all it takes, just a walk.