Summary: Angsty, shippy AU one-shot. Jack and Sam are off-world and everything is the same as always, but maybe that is not just as comfortable as it aught to be? Join a restless Jack as he pushes Sam into a conversation that leads them into forbidden territory. AU Angst/Romance. S7 or there abouts. K+ rated.
Jack sighed deeply and rose up from his place beside the campfire. The night was beautiful and even though he was supposed to be resting before taking on the next watch he had opted to stay up and keep Sam company for a bit. It should have been a fun task filled with ease and enjoyment but right at this very moment in time being alone with her in the dark on a safe alien planet with beautiful alien skies was evoking a completely different emotion...sadness. It was one that he had not been expecting and so it drove him almost instantly into motion to try and contain it.
Sam looked up from where she had been gazing deep into the heart of the flames of the fire that Jack had built. She loved the fact that it was his fire and the fact that she felt warm because of his actions. She smirked, unashamed registering the fact that her thought was so slushy. It was far from surprising. Everything that Jack did made her feel kind of slushy, he had a way of making her feel things that were so distinctly un-Carter-like that it should have been disturbing...but it wasn't. It was almost like what she felt when she was around him was the real her, like she was not afraid, even on an unconscious level to have a little softness about her personality. She never did let it show though. That would be...inappropriate. Instead she was just content not to put a name on it (even though she knew what it was) and be content to share his company. And that was exactly what she had been doing right up until the moment he got up and started pacing around. "Sir?" she asked, knowing something was bothering him. You did not work that closely with someone for over seven years without learning a thing or two about them.
Jack stopped and turned to look at her in the half-light. The flicker of the fire threw subtly different aspects of light across her features but it was still her face. It was still the most beautiful face he was ever likely to see and that thought delighted him and tore at him in equal measure. He loved to look at her face, he loved to hear her voice, hell he even loved the fact that she loved science! He loved every tiny detail about Samantha Carter, especially the fact that...no he would not think about that, that would only make things worse. He would not think about the fact that she loved him just as much in return...'Damn it Jack, I told you not to think about that!' He sighed again, this time bringing his hand up to cover his already closed eyes.
Sam felt her spine stiffen, he still had not answered her and now she was worried. "What is it Colonel, what's the matter?" She rose to her feet but did not move towards him.
"I'm tired Sam." he breathed out and then, oblivious to her previous actions, dropped himself back down onto the log that had been occupied by Daniel, his hand still covering his eyes.
Sam felt mild confusion running through her. "Well," she began "maybe you should go ahead and get some rest?" Her tone was cautious, already she knew that was not what he has meant but with the Colonel it sometimes paid to check out the obvious before jumping to conclusions.
Jack didn't answer that one, he knew he didn't have to. "I don't know how much longer I can do this Carter."
Suddenly and intently he looked up at her and Sam drew a short, sharp involuntary breath. He was serious, she could see it. Serious like 'this is the right thing to do' serious and that was the very top of the tree when it came to O'Neill emotions.
"I'm sick of it."
"Sick of what Sir?" Sam queried as she edged closer intent on sitting herself down beside him.
Jack waited until she was seated before he continued. He was far from sure if he had the right to do this or not but the time had come and he had to, he could not wait and be silent any more. "I'm sick of all the fighting and the resisting and wrestling and wrangling that we have to do. I mean, did you know they want to put another five years onto my service time? Five years Carter. I was expecting one or maybe two at the most, but five...come on." He picked frustratedly at the crease in the knee of his fatigues.
Sam felt all of the air leave her lungs in one quiet unsuppressed rush. The weight of the Colonel's words immediately pushed down on her and she quite distinctly heard the rest of his unfinished thoughts...it wasn't fair. "I know it doesn't seem fair Colonel but the reason they want you to stay is because you are the best. That's got to count for something, right?" she reasoned, trying, for his sake to sound upbeat.
Jack smirked and lightly shook his head, Sam was ever the rational optimist. Life for her sometimes seemed just so clear, so black and white. His on the other hand was many infinitesimal shades of murky blackish, blueish grey. "It just seems like a lot to me. I mean another year I could handle but five? It might be too late by then...it probably will be."
Sam had to struggle hard to hear the latter part of his sentence. 'Too late'? Too late for what? "I'm not following you Sir, can you be a little more specific?" she asked in the spirit of a good second.
"Of course you aren't following me, I don't expect you to. I find I am being deliberately obtuse." He looked round at her, completely unsurprised to see an expression of deep worry etching itself onto her features at his cryptic words. "I don't want to wait anymore Sam." he told her directly and with as much honesty as he could muster. "I can't do it, I don't know how."
Suddenly Sam gained a sense of where this might be headed and she swallowed sharply. This conversation, if she knew Jack O'Neill at all, was headed straight for 'The Room' and he was not only just about to unlock the door he was about to blow it completely off it's hinges. Her blood pressure spiked, she had to stop him before he lit that fuse. "Sir, are you sure you want to-"
"Yes!" The word exploded out of him and catapulted him back onto his feet. "My god yes Sam!" He paused very briefly to run his fingers through his hair then continued in a much more rational tone. "Like I said...I'm tired. I don't want to fight anymore." He stared hard at her, pleading with her to understand.
"Fight, Sir?" Sam's mind was reeling and she knew she was failing to keep up. One minute she was sure he was talking about them and the next it was back to the Goa'uld, or was it?
Jack gave up the last of his hesitancy and clarified. "Fight it, Carter...I don't want to fight it anymore...us...and please, for now, can you stop calling me 'Sir'." He looked away from her and out across the inky black of the horizon as it set itself apart from the stars. He knew he was being unfair on her, she did not want to talk about this, she was not ready.
Sam sat opened mouthed and dumb for a moment. He had done it...he had actually gone and done it and now she...for the first time since she had known him, had absolutely no idea what to say to him. Why now? Why had he chosen tonight to do this? And off-world too. Sam had always imagined that this conversation would take place up at his cabin or somewhere...when she finally allowed herself to go there that was...but not now, not like this...and definitely not with Daniel and Teal'c lying just a few metres away.
Jack watched a shooting star streak across the sky as the silence drew out between them. "You know a response might be nice...anything, I don't mind what." The silence was officially starting to kill him.
"I...I..." but that was it. He turned to look at her and it bolstered her courage. "It's hard to know what to say Jack. I mean...we've waited this long, what's..." but her sentence faded out into a long heartfelt sigh that instantly drained her, she was not prepared for this at all. She looked back up into his eyes to try and get a handle on the situation and there it was...the reason. Suddenly she knew exactly why he was so upset and what another five years meant to him. She was already thirty seven, another five years pretty much guaranteed no kids and that...well that changed everything.
Her mind flicked back to that time just over a year ago when they had accidentally shared each other's dreams. Kids had been something they had both dreamed about when they were together in that room. One boy and one girl, both blonde and sassy. The owner of the orylix had told them the next day that such a strongly shared vision was difficult to thwart, that it was the will of destiny and though neither of them ever talked about it, that vision had kept them going especially when things got tough and they found it hard to resist each other.
Jack could quite clearly see what Sam was thinking about, there was a softness around the edges of her features that belied her. He drifted back across the short distance and settled himself close beside her...too close. "They would be beautiful, you know."
Sam smiled and allowed herself to lean against him slightly. "I know." she whispered. "But I'd still like to think I can say that they will be beautiful."
Jack nodded in agreement, noting the slight edge of sadness in her voice. "Not if the President get his way. I won't disgrace you Sam by having an illicit affair but I honestly don't think I can wait another five years...it's too much. I want...I want..." again he did not finish, and again he did not have to.
"Me too." Sam barely breathed and dropped her head onto his shoulder. "Maybe it's time we came clean to Hammond, see if there is anything he can do?" she suggested after a few moments of contemplative silence.
Jack felt himself offer up a small shrug. "Like what? Short of having one of reassigned or retired he's kind of in a jam don't you think?"
"I dunno, you shouldn't underestimate him Jack, Uncle George has a shrewd way about him. He's a even greater strategist than you are...and that's saying something...besides, I'm pretty sure he already knows."
"Uncle George! You know it still weirds me out each time you say that!"
"Yeah I know, but I am serious. I think we should go to him."
Jack, even though he trusted Sam's instincts, was not so sure about this one. "Mm, what if he feels compelled to act and it doesn't work out in our favour? I'm not sure Sam, the thought of not working with you it...it kinda freaks me out."
"He would never do that. Besides, weren't you listening, he probably already knows how we feel about each other and I'm sure he's just waiting until we come to him. You do trust him don't you?"
Jack jerked his head away from Sam at that thought. "Of course I do. Why would you ever think I didn't? It's just that this is no small admission Sam. We go to him, we don't get to work together any more and you know it!"
Sam felt anger flickering through her. "And if we don't go to him we don't get what we both truly want. You can't have your cake and eat it Jack O'Neill. It's either one thing or the other and you know that!"
Jack felt frustrated anger bubble up through his gut and it instantly translated itself into unchecked defensive argument. "I'll have my cake and eat it if I want to. I can eat it in this universe and keep it in another, that's the way it works right? Somewhere out there is some parallel, alternate, whatcha-ma-call-it world I can do both, that's what you said isn't it?"
"Yes but you can only enjoy one experience as yourself the way you are now." Sam instantly retorted, he was just being irrationally childish now.
"Why can't I go there and do both?" Jack quipped, knowing he was descending into nonsense but belatedly he realised that it had hurt him that Sam's initial thoughts had been to go to Hammond. Was he not smart enough to work this out for them? Did she immediately have to go and seek out a ringer to do his job for him?
Sam clung blithely to her rationality and used it as a shield and to keep her grounded. "If you were to go there, then there would be two of you occupying the same temporal reality. And we already know from the Dr Carter that came through - whom you kissed, which I'm still mad at by the way - that that is not possible. Entropic cascade failure would-"
"Oh tropical yadda yadda my butt. The point is...wait a minute, you are mad at me for that kiss? But that was years ago."
"It doesn't matter how many years ago it was Jack, it still hurt."
Jack swiped a hand through his hair, confused didn't cover it. "But it was you I kissed."
"No it wasn't me Jack, it was her! So you see, you already had your cake. Pity you didn't choke on it!"
It was clear that Sam actually meant her hot, angry words and Jack felt himself snap. "Fine Samantha, you want to be mad at me for that, then you might as well be mad at me for this too."
When he grabbed her and kissed her Sam was so taken off guard that she could not muster a reaction. By the time she realised what was happening he had already broken contact.
"You happy now?" Jack bit out as he attempted to still his hammering heart, boy had that been worth it!
"No actually I'm not. I didn't get time to enjoy it. Do it again!" she demanded, colour flushing her skin.
"What?" Jack stammered.
"Do it again...now!" Sam demanded and didn't wait for him to respond.
She met his lips with a passion and vigour that not only blew the doors off the room but obliterated it from the universe. Jack could not stop himself, he reacted in kind, pushing her down onto the ground and the rest, as they say...is history.
AN: He, he. Bet you didn't see that end coming! AU Jack & Sam...so many possibilities, so many different beginnings... :) And sorry couldn't resist the little 'Uncle George' thing, hope it doesn't clang too much in the middle of the text...just another unsubtle reminder that this is an AU story ;)