Silence and Soundby TM Potter
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Silence and Sound
by TM Potter
Summary: SEASON SEVEN SPOILER WARNING
During Fifth Race the didn't talk about it. During Lost City they do.
Category: Future Story, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Romance
Episode Related: 216 The Fifth Race
Season: future Season
Pairing: Jack/Sam, UST
Warnings: adult themes, minor language, sexual situations
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
Archived on: 08/16/03
SEASON SEVEN SPOILER WARNING
Spoilers: Fifth Race (S2), Heroes (S7), Lost City Parts I and II (S7)
PLEASE DON'T READ THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT TO BE SPOILED ON CURRENTLY SPECULATED BUT AS-YET UNAIRED SEASON SEVEN EVENTS.
Feedback very much appreciated and adored. firstname.lastname@example.org
"Now, describe your pain. But, please, be honest. This is, after all, for posterity."
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I had an older story on my hard drive that was never really happy and finished. The spoilers for Lost City stuck an inspiration in my head and a challenge from a friend pushed me into writing the rest. I hope it is a better story now. My thanks go to Carm, who is always too kind. Any mistakes are all my own fault.
Janet gently tapped her friend's knee as she spoke aloud, causing Sam to open her eyes and sit up a bit straighter where she was slumped on the examination room bed.
The efficient doctor's hands held up a small tube of ointment, swinging it back and forth in front of the blonde's eyes to catch her already wandering attention.
"Use this as often as possible on the burns. It has a mild anesthetic in it so it will help with the pain. And it's sterile, so it will help keep them clean. Be especially careful about the ones on your face -- you want to keep them protected. And no makeup until I give the okay."
Janet took the larger tub that the nurse handed her and plopped it on the bed next to Sam.
"And use this other one on the scrapes. It's just a first aid cream to make sure that none of the open abrasions get infected."
The doctor smiled but her face settled into the She-Who-Is-NotTo -Be-Ignored look that struck fear into the heart of every SG team member. It meant she was about to give out Doctor's Order's.
"Take it easy for the next couple of days and replenish the water you lost or I will have you back in this bed on IV fluids so fast it'll make your head spin."
Janet was glad to see Sam smile, even if it was a bit wan.
As she smiled, Sam felt a crusty spot of sticky sand on her neck crack and fall down onto her shirt. She pulled the front of her shirt away from her chest, an unchecked "ugh" escaping her lips as she watched the dirt there crack off and fall to the clean concrete infirmary floor.
They'd all been so grimy when they'd trudged back through the gate. The wind had blown incessantly on that planet, making the sand fly across the dunes like a Huey was landing. When they'd first stepped through the 'Gate, she'd been hoping that the blowing sand would eventually die down. But the second sun rising had seemed to make the atmosphere that much more wild. The scientist in her had feared this reality. It made sense. The more energy you added to a closed system like weather the more unstable it becomes, resulting in-
She was thinking too much. She'd like to attribute it to the heat exhaustion, but-
'Carter, you always think too much.'
His voice rang out in her memory. Even though he'd been back on Earth, she'd kept hearing the Colonel like this back on the planet. The ghost of his voice whispering in her ear, motivating her to do more, do better, do the impossible...
Sam's face suddenly clouded and she looked over at where Janet was leaning against a table, making notations in a thick medical chart that Sam knew was nothing compared to a certain archeologist's file.
"Janet, how's the Colonel? I mean...how is he really?"
Janet's brown eyes were clear when she looked up at Sam, but the worry she had for her other patient was there in her puckered forehead and small frown.
"Sam, he's...He's doing okay. He hasn't shown any signs of recovering from whatever this is, but physically he's holding his own. He's no longer capable of speaking English, and I'm not certain he still understands everything we say, but he does gets bits and pieces..."
Sam's eyes clouded over and she looked away.
"For now, he's going to be okay, Sam. Daniel has been working with him on some big project or other. The Colonel's built something -- no one knows what it is, yet -- but he keeps saying it's good."
"Built something? The Colonel? Hmmm...Maybe I can help Daniel figure it out-"
Sam stopped, realizing she was ignoring Janet and talking aloud to herself again.
"Go ahead and hit the showers, Sam. Just remember-"
"I know, I know...'Take it easy. If I feel dizzy or have any out of the ordinary reactions, come back and see you'...I heard you the first three times, Mom."
Janet pulled a face, sticking her tongue out at her friend in a perfect imitation of Cassie in a particularly teenaged moment.
Sam laughed, grabbing the dirty pile of her over shirt, scarf, and hat from the middle of the bed, and hopped to her feet.
Sam had never thought a shower could feel this good.
Her parched skin burned in the places where wind-blown sand had scoured the skin raw, but the hot water coursing down across her face and shoulders felt better than she remembered it could. She had scrubbed the gingery shampoo into her hair three times and had used her shower gel twice, scrubbing away the stink and grime from the planet and reveling in the feeling of being gloriously clean.
Turning, she stretched her arms forward to lean against the slick shower tiles, letting the pounding water pressure work the knots of tension from her shoulders and back. She groaned as the worries of the hard trip to P9Q-281 washed away with the tension running from her body and sluiced down the drain at her feet.
She was the only one in the locker room at this time of the day, so she took a moment for the luxury of standing in the shower for a good long while, her head hanging forward against her chest, her eyes closed. Thoughts of what had happened on the planet kept racing through her head as the seemingly unending supply of scalding water pounded down around her...
She'd been so afraid when she'd realized that they were stuck without a working DHD. She'd pushed that fear aside, though, the way she'd been trained to, the way the voices of every instructor she'd ever had kept telling her she had to. Keeping your people focused and sharp under the duress of even a currently unengaged combat situation was always paramount to keeping them alive.
She'd made herself the focal point when that second sun had risen, pushing them all so hard to find shelter, possible water supplies, and a solution amongst the gear they had with them and the brains that God gave them. Donaldson and Marriott had probably come to hate her during those long hours. She had used every trick she could remember, from her basic to her POW trainers, always pressing them into the next problem and solution set so they had no time to fall into despair over their situation.
The whole time, she'd been shaking with a fear that this was the time that she was going to fail. This was the one experience where she couldn't pull an idea out of her head and turn it into a life-saving reality. She'd worked so hard to keep it together for the team, and she'd been so comforted by Teal'c's calm and sure presence, just being there to back up her decisions. He'd been First Prime, a warrior and a leader of men, and he knew what she was doing, but he took her pressure to succeed without comment.
It was after their weak, makeshift shelter had been pitched that they were able to doze in the miniscule shade while slowly melting in the heat from the blazing air around them. She'd stopped pushing then, leaving each of them alone with their thoughts, making their peace with themselves and maybe their own gods before they succumbed to this inferno of a world. In the hellish hours before that scroll of paper had popped through the 'Gate, she'd been reviewing her own life. Remembering the good times with her family and her friends, regretting the things she'd never made the time to do. The books she'd never read, the beaches she'd never visited, the animals she'd never seen for real...And the people she'd never told she that she loved them...
She suddenly stood straight in the shower, slapping at the water valve, stopping the flow of water and wishing she could turn off her thoughts as easily. Grabbing a towel from the bar just outside the shower stall, she patted her skin down, hating how dry and tight it still felt, hoping she'd left that big bottle of herb-scented skin cream in her locker. Otherwise, she might have to use that medicated, horrible-smelling cream Janet had given her all over and she was not looking forward to smelling like a meds locker all day.
She wrapped a second, dry towel around her abused body and walked back to her locker, dropping the wet towel and kicking aside the dirty clothes lying in a pile on the floor in front of the bench. Feeling lucky to find it, she grabbed the bottle of lotion from the shelf in her locker and began smearing it everywhere she could reach, flinching only a bit as it hit a few abrasions here and there. The citrus-basil smell was light and refreshing in her nose as she dressed, pulling on the utilitarian undergarments that she always wore at work and slipping her fatigue pants up over her hips.
She took the hated jar of first-aid cream, scooping a liberal amount out and finding all of the raw patches on her arms and torso, one by one soothing them into submission with the medicinal goo. She stopped before she finished fastening her trousers, leaving them hanging open as a raw patch just below her elbow chafed when she moved, demanding another application of cream.
She dabbed at the elbow with a handful of cream and turned back to pull a clean T-shirt out of the locker, quickly skim it over her head, and tuck it in her waistband before zipping her trousers. She bent to gather up her dirty clothes and wet towels and remembered she had not brought her shower gel and shampoo back to the locker. She left the pile where it was and quickly retrieved her toiletries from the shower stall.
As she leaned back out of her locker after depositing them, she caught a flash of movement from the corner of her eye and whirled towards it, gasping aloud in her surprise.
Half hidden by the shadows near the entry door to the locker room, he leaned back against the doorframe. It unnerved her that she didn't know exactly how long he'd been standing there, but she assumed he'd just arrived in the last few minutes. Heat burned her cheeks and a blush rose across her neck as she thought about what he would have seen if he had arrived a few minutes before. As it was, her wild hair, clean-scrubbed face and bare feet made her feel, ridiculously, as exposed as if she were standing there in nothing but her underwear.
"Sir!...What are you doing- I mean, how are you doing?"
He stepped forward, the dark receding to reveal his sober brown eyes. A raised eyebrow and a slight shrug accompanied his hand, wavering back and forth in the classic gesture for 'so-so'.
"Can I help you, sir? Umm, you do know this is the women's locker room, right?"
Once again, he stepped forward, his mouth quirking into a small smile and the humor was now shining there in his eyes, letting her know that he knew exactly where he was.
'I'm losing my ability to speak English, Major, not to reason like a normal adult' his eyes clearly said.
She wasn't certain what language he was actually thinking in at this point, his mind being slowly transformed by the alien coding in his brain, but Sam smiled as she realized that even being unable to speak the language did not seem to hinder his capacity for sarcasm.
He stepped even closer, an arm's length away from her now, so close that she thought she could hear him breathe.
"Sir, I...Are you okay?"
He raised an eyebrow, nodded his head and raised his thumbs.
As she smiled, he echoed her and she had to look away from him, lest she become undone by that gentle expression in his eyes.
His hand slowly reached out and caught her own, a finger under her chin pulling her attention away from her own bare toes and back up to his face. He raised his eyebrows in an inquiring gesture that was gentle in its nature and firm in its insistence. She had seen that look before and she knew there was no getting away from him until she had answered his unspoken question.
'How're you doing?'
She could hear the deep, slightly raspy timbre of his voice in her head, even though he said nothing. She pulled her face away from his fingers, looking away from those still dangerous eyes as she answered.
"I'm fine, sir. I just-"
She was mortified as she felt the patchwork wall of control she had been so ruthlessly building over her emotions for the past few hours slip a bit sideways, leaving a small gap through which the edges of her turmoil slid. Her throat closed with jumbled fear, pain, relief, hysteria -- too much emotion balled together to sort out the individual ones -- and she swallowed it down, scrabbling for a neutral subject, trying to keep her voice even as she spoke again.
"I wanted to thank you for the DHD plans you drew. They were amazing. There are functions explained on them that are brand new to us. Even after all of this time we didn't know the DHD could do all of that. How did you?"
She glanced up long enough to see a laconic shrug of broad, olive drab draped shoulders and eyes confused her as much as they comforted sometimes. Her eyes dropped back away before another crack appeared in the dam of her emotions.
He waved a hand in front of her, just close enough to catch her eye and make her look up again. He sat down on the bench, straddling the seat and gesturing for her to sit beside him. At her dubious expression, he cocked his head to the side, his eyes intent. She sat down at a comfortable arm's length from him. He kept his eyes on her face and gestured for her to talk to him, tell him what was wrong...
Logically, Sam knew that the Colonel's reaction was the natural one of a nurturing leader. On more than one occasion, she'd seen him sit with Daniel like this after they'd returned from a particularly hard mission. They would sit in the mess hall, hands wrapped around stoneware mugs, and talk in low voices designed to block out the rest of the world.
Or they'd go to the O club with her and Teal'c and they would all sit around nursing beers. Sometimes they'd discuss a movie none of them had actually seen or a juicy rumor from the base. Sometimes they'd discuss the more general and unclassified details of their mission -- trying to make sense of another senseless death or careless action, remembering the fallen and honoring their memories.
But this wasn't about a team loss. This was about her almost losing it and taking three good men down with her. But she didn't want to talk about that. She thought that if she just waited him out he would get the message and give up on her.
She should have known better.
After a few minutes of silence between them, she looked up at him and a small headshake told her he wasn't falling for it.
'Not gonna get out of it, Major. You might as well spill it.'
She licked her suddenly dry lips, trying to find some moisture to help her mouth work well enough for her to lie her way out of this.
"Sir, I was serious when I said I was fine. I am. We all came home in one piece. That was the most important thing once we had determined that there was nothing there to help us figure out what has happened to you."
She looked up at him as she finished. The expression in his eyes was open and...vulnerable.
Her heart stuttered as she realized that Jack O'Neill was pulling away the mask of her Colonel. At that moment, in the effort to make her feel at ease and talk to him, he was letting her see all of the emotions that constantly burbled behind his eyes.
Her own control slipped again, leaving her awash in her fears and anger, adrift on a raft cobbled together from her hopes for the future and her faith in him.
"I'm so sorry I couldn't help you. I'm sorry that I got us trapped and needed your help to get home. I'm sorry for what's happened to you. We tried to find an answer, some way to help. Something..."
Her voice broke on the last word, swallowed in a small sound that was too close to a whimper. She felt the tears break from her eyes, splashing down onto her cheeks and coursing down to land on her neck. She refused to look up at him, hiding her face behind her hands.
She was crying in front of him. Crying over her complete inability to help him. Her mortification was now complete.
She felt him move closer, pulling her hands away and wrapping her in his embrace. She stiffened, tempted to pull back from him only to feel his arms tighten around her, pulling her head down onto his shoulder.
He said something incomprehensible, the lyrical language slipping through a throat and lips made to speak a different set of glottal stops and diphthongs. Despite her lack of understanding, the low rumble of his voice was reassuring and the overlapping vowel sounds of the language flowed from him, allowing her to lose herself in their round, warm sounds.
He offered so freely, not forcing but encouraging her to take the comfort he could provide. Something about their forced lack of communication made this easier. They had no choice not to discuss anything -- they actually couldn't speak of what had gone on out on that planet today.
She gave in to the need to let go, wrapping her arms around his warmth, resting her cheek against the slightly stubbly skin of his neck, breathing in the clean soap-over-man scent of him...
As she breathed in so much of him, she breathed out her control.
The tears continued to slip down her cheeks, silently wetting his neck and shirt collar, purging her of the fear that had threatened to paralyze her when the team had been trapped on the planet, the regret that she couldn't perform miracles for him, the feelings of helplessness over his plight.
She wasn't certain how long he held her there in the women's locker room. When he finally stopped talking, she was all cried out, but even then, she stayed where she was, waiting for her breathing to even out and her control to reappear.
She held onto him, feeling his chin rubbing against her hair, his hands running in soothing patterns across her back. Her breathing slowed, synchronizing with his even as their heartbeats seemed to keep time, pressed together as they were, chest to chest.
She closed her eyes again, relaxing in his arms, aware for the first time that her thigh was pressed intimately along the outside of his own and her fingers were twined into the short hair at the base of his neck. She had clutched him to her, seeking the comfort he offered.
Comfort, that was all.
He had offered the same when she had undergone hypnosis in order to determine what really happened to Daniel on that beach on P3X-886. She refused to let herself be seduced into thinking there was anything else there.
His own hands were now holding her against him, one locked at her right hip and the other against the back of her neck, a warm finger tracing across her C3 vertebrae in a slow, soothing rhythm. His mouth had slid down next to her ear, resting in the soft spot behind her earlobe, making it easy to hear the nonsense he was again crooning aloud as he comforted her. After another moment, she pulled away, the gentle pressure prompting him to release her and lean away, too.
"I'm sorry, Sir. I didn't mean to..."
His raised eyebrow and sardonic half-grin were a gentle rebuke.
His expression softened, his eyes full of comfort and support, his face wearing a small half-smile. What he couldn't say, what she wanted to say...All of that and more would remain unsaid.
And, for now, somehow it was enough.
He slid back on the bench away from her and stood. A last, long look at her and he walked over to the door. He stopped, turned and raised both eyebrows at her.
'Feeling better now?'
She smiled an almost-normal-for-her smile and gave him a silent thumbs-up.
He motioned for her to come out and she nodded.
"As soon as I finish getting dressed, I'll meet you and Daniel in his lab. I want to see this thing that Janet says you built."
The thumbs-up was his this time.
She picked up the pile of dirty laundry, stuffing it into a bag for the laundry before bending to retrieve her boots and pair of socks from her locker.
She was waiting for him outside of his office. He had figured her for the locker room, but upon reflection during his walk here, had worked out that the locker room would be too...indiscreet, for his by-the-rules Major.
As he approached her, he saw she was sprawled against the wall like she'd been there for a while. A quick glance at her dampened collar told him she hadn't taken the time for the hair dryer. So, she'd hot-footed it here.
He knew, then, that her indolent stance was misleading. To most people, Sam Carter was casually settled back against the wall, shoulders pressing the concrete while her hips and legs stretched out in a perfect acute hypotenuse to the wall and the floor. Her relaxed arms brushed the gray vertical down to where her hands were splayed out against the wall, near her butt.
Yep, looking at her from afar, most folks would have thought her to be almost comatose.
But he knew better.
The look in those eyes and the pucker to that brow spoke of heavyduty thinking going in that head. He nodded at her as he stopped, shielding the cipher lock with his body out of habit as he ran the numbers to open his office door. He reached in and flipped on the lights before he turned back to her.
"Carter. Something I can do for you?"
"Sir. Yes, sir. I'd like to speak to you about a matter. In private."
Her stiff tones forewarned him, and he managed to avoid the wince only through years of training and having a pretty good idea that it was coming. Even so, he could've sworn he felt his testicles try to start to creep back up inside his abdomen out of a sense of selfpreservation. They were probably the smartest part of him right now.
"Then come in, Major. Mi casa es sue casa -- or office at least."
She swept past him, the energy bristling from her making the hair on his arms stand up and the warm, womanly smell of CleanCarter making other senses come to attention. He took a moment, giving himself a mental 'Down, boy' before he girded his metaphorical loins (see boys, it'll be alright), closed the door, and stepped into the fray.
He made a show out of reaching over to the filing cabinet and pulling out a tatty sweat sock. Unfurling it with a flourish, he reached over to the security camera in the corner and slipped the open end over the lens. There. Looked kind of rakish, if he did say so himself. Very American Pie, Cassie would probably say.
"Permission to speak freely, sir."
Her request came even before he managed to plant his ass in his uncomfortable-as-hell new desk chair. He plopped down and motioned her to the guest chair in front of the desk. Leaning back, he cast a speculative eye her way, wondering how straight-laced she was going to play this.
"What's the topic, Major?"
Her eyes met his for the first time, snapping them both into the thrall that they held on each other any time full-bore eye contact between them was achieved. He squirmed as he realized that her eyes had darkened to a navy blue, their surfaces a bit too slick for normal tearing, and their expression tempest-tossed.
"Sure, Sam. Go ahead. Say it."
His own voice was soft in his ears, quickly crowded by her gasped intake of breath at his use of her first name, followed by the explosive little exhale she gave before she spoke.
"How could you, Jack?"
The miserable whisper barely made its way across the desk to him. But the look on her face penetrated faster than the speed of sound and he felt something clutch at his heart.
"We only had seconds. Someone-"
"Why you? Why again? Last time, you came very close to-"
Her voiced cracked and stumbled to a halt. Her eyes closed, locking him out, and her mouth thinned to a pale, angry slash across her now milky face.
He realized that the misery in her voice was laced with Anger.
Anger was bad.
Anger tended to displace Logic.
And Logic was probably the only friend he had in the room at the moment. He had to get that brilliant mind of hers back to working the problem so she would see why...
"Think about it. We couldn't let this fall into Anubis' hands. He's already got way too many advantages and I, for one, don't want to be the one who delivered this knowledge to him."
"But why you? Why couldn't-"
"Who else, Sam? Who? Daniel? Teal'c? Which one of you was I supposed to order to sacrifice yourself to do this? Which one was supposed to place yourself in jeopardy trying to fit all of this junk inside of your skull? Which one?"
The impatience that crept into his voice shamed him. He knew she heard it. He could tell from the way her eyes widened and took on an even slicker sheen and then dropped away from his own again.
"It just...I just made sense. We know that I can handle this stuff. Thor said that I was special, somehow physically different. So, it stands to reason that not everyone could take this into their heads and come out whole on the other side."
He spoke to the top of her head, noticing that her hair was drying with a jagged part up one side. She'd hate that later on when the cowlicks started to come out around her ears.
"We know I can handle this for a while. And it isn't going to be for very long. As soon as we get into the debriefing room with Hammond and Doc Fra-"
He pulled up short as a now-familiar pain sliced through him and he watched her head jerk as if he'd slapped her.
He sighed, running his hands over his face and rubbing at his eyes. They were all too raw for this. They'd been running so hard for so long to keep up with the quickly-changing situation of Anubis and his plans. They'd been so focused on doing what had to be done, fighting the next fire, that they'd never really gotten a chance to heal. And it showed at times like this.
"In the debrief, I'll give Hammond the whole rundown. Then Doctor Finndreddie can give me the full medical torture rundown and look at my chart to try to check the progress. I know from before that I have a couple of hours before even the first effects are seen. By then, we'll have called Thor and he can come and 'discharge' me."
God he hoped this worked. It had to work...
Her shoulders straightened as Logic re-introduced itself and shook her hand. She looked up at him and in place of the ravaged, emotional eyes he'd looked into moments before, he saw the selfpossessed Major who had, more than once, taken his orders and executed them with emotionless precision.
"We don't know that this is 'like last time'. What if it's different? What if there was more this time? What if something goes wrong? What if-"
"It's done, Major. Nothing is going to change that now."
"But sir, what if-"
"What if we're late to that debrief?"
He indicated the time on the little LED clock on his desk. He grabbed up a pad, handing her a blank one he pulled form his desk drawer, gathered up his pen and access card, and ushered her before him, towards the closed door.
His hand closed over her ice-cold one as she touched the door knob. He slowly drew it towards him, making sure to catch her eyes as he took her hand in both of his own.
"It's going to be all right. You'll see. You've just got to stick with the course of action and it will all work out."
She peered at him, delving into his soul with those eyes, making him regret that there wasn't more between them than a command structure and a wish...
"I hope so. I really do."
She rang his doorbell and stepped back, admiring the way the light from the late afternoon sun lit his porch, gilding the damp foliage, turning 'straw into gold'. She knew he was home, she'd tried calling ahead and his phone was busy. She turned back to the door as it swung open. He was still on the phone.
"Yeah, it was the door, Mom."
He smiled, seeing her standing there, and motioned her to come in, shutting the door behind her. Like her, he'd had time to change into civvies. Those faded, soft-looking jeans and the casual sweater, sleeves pushed up to reveal his toned, tan forearms. She found herself smiling a funny little smile, and when he turned back to her, his own had turned hesitant and slightly puzzled. He held up a finger, indicating it would only be a few minutes.
"Major Carter, Mom."
He paused for a moment, listening. Sudden color suffused his neck and face and he whipped around, putting his back to her.
"She's not my Major, Mom. She's not a puppy for God's sake!"
His low mumble carried over to where she had gone to drape her jacket on the couch. She whirled, facing his broad back and feeling a heat creep up her own neck.
"Mom! Mom! No, Mom! Look, I have to go. I'll call you back later. Yes, tonight! No, I won't be busy!"
The blustery sigh he let slip was full of teenage embarrassments and little boy bravado. She swallowed a smile, realizing that, no matter how long you lived, you were always 12 years old when you were on the phone with a parent. She sat down in the corner of his comfortable couch, tucking her left leg up under her, crossways to her right.
"Love you, Mom."
He clicked the end button and set the cordless down on the end table. After a moment, she saw his shoulders straighten and he turned. The smile on his face was sheepish and endearing.
"Ummm...That was my Mother."
"She has a...vivid imagination."
He stood for a moment, hands pestering a thread in the middle of the placket on his chambray shirt. They stopped and his right hand reached for a beer bottle on the end table. He sighed as he saw it was empty, setting it down with a thud.
"Get you a drink?"
"No. And...I wish you wouldn't have one either."
His eyebrows climbed his puckered forehead, and he nodded as he walked around to the end of the couch to plop down into the comfortable chair at the end of the living room.
"I'm sorry. I just don't think that Dutch courage is the kind either of us needs right now."
"Okay, nothing but the natural kind. What'd you need?"
She looked at him, slouched in the chair, one leg hung up on the arm at a jaunty angle.
He was a picture of relaxation and health.
A deceiving one.
She watched his knee bounce, the short jerky motions giving away his agitation. As her eyes came up to meet his, his eyebrow lifted and that sardonic grin appeared.
The grin drained away, replaced by a sober, carefully neutral expression.
"You. Me. Us."
His eyes turned speculative and he dropped the leg, leaning forward and locking his arms on top of his knees. He rested his chin in his upturned hands, locking his eyes into a feedback loop with hers.
"Honesty. About us."
They weren't questions. He knew exactly what they were talking about.
She leaned forward, crowding her own body in a mirror of his, bringing herself within his personal space. She spoke in low tones, her voice above a whisper by bare increments.
"Four years ago, I said we didn't have to talk about it. About what went on in that room. And before that, so many times...And when you were...like this...We couldn't talk about us...about what we felt, what we wanted. That doesn't mean I didn't want to talk about us."
"Then why? Why didn't we?"
His voice was as whisper thin as hers, both of them murmuring truths that had been left unsaid for so long. Somehow the quiet intimacy in the room made it easier to say this, easier for her to open up to him and him to her.
"Because it would have meant the end."
"Not the beginning?"
"But we'll never know, will we? What could have happened..."
"There've been so many times when I thought we'd never get the chance"
"Not so many."
"More than enough."
"Why now? Why after all of this time and all of the gambles and risks we've let come and go?"
"Because, for the first time, it doesn't scare me."
"What doesn't? Me? Us?"
"You...Us has never scared me. Well, at least not for a very long time. Us has felt so right, for so long, that I can't imagine how it would ever scare me."
"Then what? What isn't so scary anymore?"
"The future. The part after we talk about it...act on it..."
"The moments, the hours, the days and years after we finally do something about this...thing between us"
He leaned away, breaking the spell that had wound its way around them. She was almost certain she saw anger there in the set of his jaw, the stiffness in his shoulders. She reached to touch him for the first time, her hand landing on his knee, grasping at the thick, soft material of his jeans. Her voice was stronger but full of confusion now.
"Why is that wrong? Why are you angry?"
He let his gaze drop from the ceiling back to her, the weight of his regard a physical one that settled around her with a familiarity that was comforting. As long as he would look at her, they could work through this.
"Not angry. Not at you. Not really."
"You only want to talk about this...Can only trust this when there is no future for us."
She started to automatically deny it, call him a liar, say it was untrue. But she stopped, snapping her mouth closed and realizing he was right. And her eyes dropped from his to his collarbone, peeking out above his sweater and t-shirt collars.
"Who would have thought, after all of this time, trust would be an issue between us?"
His chest, below that collarbone, expanded explosively.
"Since I asked for honesty, let me give you that first."
Her eyes glanced at his, skittering away from the astonishment she saw there. She stood, unable to sit this close to him while...
Staring out the sliding glass door, facing the lush green garden hidden in the shadows of the evening, she told him her mind and heart.
"I love you, you know."
Score one for her. Her voice was calm and even when she said it. Her insides shuddered, though, and when she heard a noise behind her she refused to turn around and look at him.
"I think I've loved you for a very long time, now. It seems that way at least. I...The first time we met, I was a little confused. I'd read all of your reports on the original trip to Abydos. I know it was my imagination, but after spending so much time with your notes and ideas, I felt a...strange connection to you...like I somehow knew you..."
"And then, when I stepped into the conference room here, you were so...snarky and rude. In short, you were a pig...A military, tight-assed, pig who was going to try to keep me off the mission that I had waited so long to get. I was pissed at you. For dismissing me, for ignoring me."
She paused, folding her arms across her chest, but keeping her back to him.
"And I was disappointed. For so long, I felt I'd in some way come to know you. The man who'd written such detail about Skaara and the children on Abydos, the man who'd refused to shoot when those little boys stepped in front of Ra, the man who'd written those words...He was someone I thought I could understand."
"Then we met. And you wanted nothing to do with me. The man I met in the SGC that first day couldn't be the man I'd come to know through the reports. I didn't know about your family then, about the pain that stayed with you like an old friend dogging your steps. I didn't know that you hadn't learned to forgive yourself for the failures."
"No, let me finish. Please."
"We went to Abydos and Chulak, and somewhere between Daniel showing up, Teal'c choosing to join us, and the firefight with the Jaffa, the Jack O'Neill I thought I knew showed up. The man whose humor and courage had captivated my attention in those reports had finally arrived and I found myself beginning to understand you. I understood that the tight-ass was just another face you wear -- a suit of armor that protects you from the world."
"Through the years we've been together, I've come to understand you. I've learned so much about leadership and honor and being responsible for others. I've discovered the bitter taste of regret for the things never done and the fear of losing someone more important than my own life."
"I've learned that cliches are cliches for a reason. And it is possible for a modern, independent, smart, career woman to fall in love with her CO and want to give up everything -- duty, honor, integrity -- just to taste his mouth."
She laughed aloud, a harsh low laugh that was as much filled with pain as it was with mirth. She sucked in her breath as she felt his warm hand wrap around her upper arm. The gentle tug nudged her around to face him. He was so close to her, now, his head lowered near her own.
"I always thought there'd be a future for us. A time when we could be ourselves and take our feelings out of the room. I've wanted it for so long...and getting a taste of it that time as Thera only made me crave it more. But I always thought there would be a later. Even when you were hi-jacked with the X301, when you were lost on Edora, when you disappeared with Kan'an...All of those times, I knew that we would get you back. I could build a machine or I could change the laws of physics...But we would have a future where we could discuss this and come to terms with what we shared."
He stared into her eyes for a moment, looking for something in them...she didn't know what. She watched his eyes narrow, his face pinch, the lines tighten around his eyes. And then she felt her own eyes widen as his eyes locked onto her mouth.
"Sam, you wanted honesty. I...My only regr-...The only truth I have right now is that I love you, too."
It was a low, rough whisper said in a voice so desperate that he sounded in pain. It knifed through her, making her heart stutter and her eyes pool with tears.
Slowly, so slowly, he lowered his face to hers. She could feel his breath brushing across her face, tasting on his breath the remains of the beer he'd had before she'd arrived. His hands slid up her arms, palms flattening as they sculpted her shoulder blades through her shirt and continued on to the small of her back. She didn't resist as he pulled her closer, his warmth enveloping her, his mouth touching hers. Her eyes slid shut and she let the sensations he was creating take over.
His lips were pliant and warm, a butterfly's touch resting on her own sensitized mouth. He made a sound in his throat, a kind of congested groan, and his mouth pressed harder against hers, demanding her response.
Her own arms came up to wrap around him, one hand touching the back of his neck, pressing him closer while the other leveraged her hips and torso closer by wrapping around his waist. She felt him nipping at her mouth, asking entrance, and she let him in, her breath escaping on a whisper into his own mouth. His tongue quested forward, the slightly raspy surface tracing the edge of her mouth, touching the sensitive skin just inside.
She felt him pressing her backwards, towards the furniture. Slow shuffling steps got lost in the spinning in her head. She could only clutch him to her, letting him lead their motions and guide their destination. She felt the low back of the leather sofa press into her thighs and still he pressed her back. His hands shifted from her lower back to her hips, giving a small heft as he helped her to perch on the edge with one leg intimately tucked between her own.
The grunt he gave as he lifted vibrated though her mouth, eliciting a groan that surprised her. His hands released her hips, wandering upwards to clutch her waist. She let her own hands skim across his back until one was cupping his jaw and the other rested on his upper arm.
She squirmed, getting closer as he released her mouth for a moment. She could feel his chest pressing in time against her own, both sets of lungs working like the bellows of a smithy's fire. Her eyes fell open, zeroing in on his mouth, swollen and red from their kisses. His forehead came to rest against her own and his eyes were shut as his shaking hands stroked her neck and back, inciting where always before they had soothed.
She made a small sound in the back of her throat as she tilted her head, locking her mouth to his again. This time she led the dance, her tongue questing into the depths of his, sliding past the hard smooth edge of his teeth, touching the slick, smooth surfaces, tasting the beer and darker flavors of his mouth.
Her mind spun with the sensory overload. The taste of him, the familiar smell of him, the feel of his lips against her, the whiff of leather emanating from the couch, the ache of his jeans-clad thigh pressing into the V between her own...It all combined in a drugging miasma that robbed her of her good sense and made her feel like she was flying.
She was leaning back, still precariously balanced with his insistent body pushing her back over the couch, towards the air above the cushions. She shifted her grip on him, sliding her fingers to his waistband and pulling him closer as she went over the back of the couch and into the soft cushions below. The loud 'brrrppp' of jeans sliding across leather accompanied their descent and a slight 'ooof' escaped between their pressed lips.
She shifted, letting him settle between her outstretched legs. He levered his upper body away from hers, pressing himself tighter against her lower body in the process. Their simultaneous groans echoed in the superheated air between them and he managed a panting question.
"What happened to talking?"
"Don't you know it's highly overrated as a form of communication?"
"This says so much more."
She had grabbed his head and pulled his mouth, unresistingly, back to her own. His hands had just crept back up to her buttons again when-
The doorbell penetrated the haze that he had woven around her mind, snapping her out of the fog she had fallen into and making her pull her lips from his. He fell face forwards into the couch, his entire length pressing her deep into the cushions. A deep, ragged groan cut through the static still clogging her ears, and she heard him softly curse.
"Jack?! Jack, are you here?!"
Daniel's voice echoed in through the closed door. The muffled quality meant he was probably pressing his face into the sidelight, looking to catch a glimpse of Jack moving around inside.
"I'll kill him! I swear to God, I'll kill him!"
The growl was just loud enough for her to hear and was said between panting breaths. He lifted himself up, just enough to look at her again, his brown eyes still glazed but his expression pure murder. She spoke between heaving breaths, trying to forestall his impulse.
"Can't do that. He had no idea I was coming here. Probably came over for the same thing."
That changed his expression from murderous to incredulous.
"Daniel came over to tell me he loves me and almost make love with me on the couch? I know I'm dying but..."
The doorbell rang again, this time accompanied by loud knocking and Daniel once again hollering for Jack.
She felt the color drain from her face. When he said it that way it made what had happened seem somehow less. He must have felt her body stiffen below him, because his gaze grew sharp and he captured her chin between finger and thumb.
"I didn't come here because...Well, I did come here for...But I didn't plan to..."
"It's okay. I know, I know."
"No, you don't. I wasn't lying before when I said I wasn't scared anymore. I'm not. This wasn't some kind of...just because..."
"Because I'm dying?"
"No, you're not. We're going to find a way out of this. We're going to find Thor and he's going to fix this whole damned thing."
Her own voice sounded strong in her ears, steady and sure, tamping down the butterflies that swarmed in her stomach when he said the words.
"Believe me, Sam. Right now, I'm not planning on dying. I'm gonna make it through this, if only to continue where we just left off."
A sudden smiled bloomed on her face, prompting a mirroring one on his own. She was used to his mercurial moods, but things had been so strained between them for so long...
"So you're saying-"
"That I have very simple motivations. A good steak, a dark beer, you -- not necessarily in that order. These are the things that occupy my mind almost every moment I live these days. And I'm not going without the chance to fully enjoy a lifetime of everything on that list."
He kissed her one last time, a tender, slow massage of her lips that ended with her pulling his bottom lip between her own for a final hard nip. He cleared his throat after a moment of prolonged eye contact.
"Oh, yeah. And once we're finished with the enjoying, we're gonna talk."
She couldn't help it. She giggled. She felt it burble up through her throat and burst into the room. With that sound, the tension was broken and the promise was made.
His head dropped back into the crook of her neck, and he shifted, causing them both to gasp at the feelings that swept through their skin.
Daniel must have been leaning on the doorbell.
"I gotta get up. If I don't he's gonna be back around here, looking through the slider."
He heard Teal'c's voice join Daniels and this time the pounding rattled the glass in the sidelights.
"Oh, yeah. I gotta go answer the door and kill both of them."
He pressed himself up and tumbled off her to the floor beside the couch. She rolled over and looked down at him, sprawled there, his mouth red and swollen, his hair by Vegematic, his shirt pulled out of his jeans and halfway undone. He shifted and-
"You can't answer the door like that! I'll get it."
She sat up, quickly running her hands through her own mussed hair tucking shirttails back into jeans and rebuttoning buttons that had mysteriously come undone. He was watching her hurried motions from the floor, a puzzled frown on his lips. He spoke as he came to his knees and then stood
"Why the hell not? I'm just as decent as-"
He suddenly stopped, his eyes widening as he realized the point she'd been making.
"Ah, maybe you're right. I...uh...need a minute..."
She finished repairing her clothes and hair, stood in front of him and smiled a dazzling smile.
"You go ahead. I'll answer the door and tell them you'll be out in a minute. Then we can all have a nice team evening together. We'll order in. You have more beer or do I need to go out?"
"We could use more. More is good."
He turned away and was almost out of the room when she called to him again. She walked over to him, a solemn look in here eyes, and stopped a few inches in front of him. Reaching out, she ran a hand up his arm and neck, coming to rest cupping his cheek. Her thumb traced the edge of his lips, loving being able to touch him.
"While I'm gone for more beer, you can call your Mom back and tell her I get to keep you."
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