Disclaimer: I (still!) don't own Stargate SG-1.
Title: Offworld Christmas
Pairing: Sam/Jack UST/Romance
Season: Mid Season 3, Set after Point of View, I suppose it goes AU from there.
Spoilers: References to Stargate: The Movie, Cold Lazarus, The Gamekeeper, A Matter of Time, Learning Curve, Point of View
Summary: SG-1 gets stranded off world on Christmas Eve.
A/N: Written for the S/J Family's Secret Santa celebration for Aveo Amacus! Merry Christmas! Hope you enjoy it! -Jess
Colonel Jack O'Neill moved through the streets of the Renaissance inspired alien village as quickly as his nearly frozen legs could carry him. The bitter cold of winter had come to the village, and the biting wind seemed to have no trouble pounding his body through the heavy BDU jacket. Finally reaching his destination, a small wooden house at the edge of the town, the colonel burst through the door, greeted by the warm fire that crackled in the fireplace.
"All right campers, let's get ready to move out!"
No sooner than he'd opened the door, Jack was taken by surprise as two small, blurry masses hurled themselves at him. He stumbled backward, but managed to remain on his feet, despite the small boy clamped around his right leg.
"Please don't go, Colonel Jack!" he cried.
"You'll miss the festival tonight!" chimed the boy's older sister, three years his elder. Her arms clasped around his waist in a death grip. Both children stared up at the colonel with brown, pleading eyes.
Bending down, Jack wrapped his arms around the children, ages nine and six. "Sorry, kiddos, we have to get back to our planet tonight."
As expected, their lower lips popped out, trembling quietly. The little boy let out a sniffle as his sister's eyes filled with tears.
'Damn, these kids know how to play dirty!' Jack thought to himself.
"Katherine, Will, stop bothering Colonel Jack and let him do his job," Elizabeth Percival called without glancing up from the large pot she was stirring. She didn't need to look to recognize the usual antics of her children. "Come and help me with the evening meal."
Still sulking, the children reluctantly trudged away. Jack felt something stir inside of him. He remembered seeing the same look on Charlie's face when he'd said he was too busy to play ball with him or take him to the park. Suddenly, mowing the lawn or painting the house didn't seem nearly as important as they had back then, if only to spend another afternoon with Charlie . . .
The face of Sam Carter jolted Jack from his thoughts and brought him back down to Earth, or rather P7X-592. "You've got a couple of fans there, sir," Carter told him, smiling.
Sam saw a flicker of longing and regret enter the Colonel's eyes as he stared after them, "Yeah, they're good kids."
"Yeah," Sam agreed, more quietly. She quickly changed the subject. "How did the negotiations go, sir? Was Daniel able to convince the villagers to let us have the naquada?"
In a flash, the grieving of his child was replaced by an unmistakable flare of irritation in the man's eyes. "Nope. They're adamant that they need all of it to build their new temple going up. If you ask me, it's a complete waste of perfectly good resources."
Sam sighed. "Well, sir, I doubt they'll listen no matter how much we try to convince them. Plus, it's really not up to us to tell these people how the naquada should be used, especially if it's that ceremonial to there culture."
He stared at her. "Carter, you're starting to sound like Daniel! I thought you were on my team!"
"Sir, as long as you're my superior officer, I don't suppose I have a choice whose team I'm on," she replied just as playfully.
"That's the spirit, Carter!" He smiled. It amazed him how quickly his 2IC could turn his mood around.
Suddenly, the door burst open again, ushering in yet another unwelcome blast of winter wind along with Daniel and Henry Percival, the historian of Caliburn and SG-1's seemingly only ally in the entire village. After coming to know the alien travelers, Henry had come to understand the Tauri's need for the mineral, but that didn't mean they had been able to convince any of the other village leaders.
"Please forgive my people, Doctor Jackson," the man apologized. "I did not realize that they would be so reluctant to trade the mineral."
"It's all right Henry. At least we tried."
"Hey Danny, get ready, we're headed back home. We leave now, and we just might make it back for the Simpson's Christmas Special!"
"Oh, no!" Henry exclaimed. "You cannot leave now. The winds foretell the coming of a very large snowstorm. It would be much too dangerous for you to leave tonight."
"He's right, Jack," Daniel agreed as he looked out the glass windowpane at the swaying trees, bent by the wind. "It's getting pretty bad out there."
"Approximately how long will it be before this storm arrives?" Teal'c's low voice resonated from the corner where he held Frances, the youngest of the Percival children. The Jaffa's large muscles and tough outward appearance seemed to contradict the sleeping infant who snuggled comfortably in his arms.
"Within the hour," Henry was confident in his prediction.
Juvenile disappointment presented itself on Jack's face at the prospect of missing his favorite Christmas show, but duty and the painful thought of a 10 klick hike back to the 'gate through a blizzard quickly covered it up. "All right, kids, looks like we'll be settin' up camp here tonight."
"Hooray!" excited screams came from the corner. Jack braced himself for another mauling as the children rushed at him again . . .
Just as Henry Percival had said, it wasn't long before the wind picked up even more. Jack sat absent-mindedly on the bed beneath the window, watching as the gales were soon joined by snow, madly spiraling and dancing outside. Pressing his forehead against the windowpane, Jack could hear the loud echo of howling wind, but thankfully, the tiny house was well insulated, keeping the warmth of the fire in and the bitter winter cold out.
In fact, it even reminded him of his cabin back in Minnesota. The storms up North had been unpredictable, blowing in when it was least expected and lasting for hours, forcing him inside and away from his precious pond. But he'd never minded that either, since it gave him the opportunity to light his own fireplace, sit with a nice beer, and reflect on things. It had been his sanctuary when he'd needed it most; after the failed mission in East Germany, his capture and escape after being left behind in Iraq, after Sara had left him . . . when Charlie had died . . .
The atmosphere was warm and peaceful. Accepting that they were for all intents and purposes stranded off-world on Christmas Eve, Jack's team had scattered themselves around the room. Assured that his teammates were in no danger at the moment, Teal'c mediated in the corner. Daniel was curled up with one of the precious books he'd brought along, and little Katherine and William had talked Carter into playing some kind of native game up them on the floor. From the childish squeals coming from them, Jack could tell that Carter was losing heavily.
"Colonel Jack! Come play with us!"
"You can be on Sam's team. She's really far behind!"
"Ah, what the heck, why not?" Jack slid from the bed to the floor, scooting next to Sam. Her eyes told him that she was letting them win, and planned to continue. Continuing the silent communication between them, Jack gave her a subtle wink to show that he understood.
The game was easy, reminding Jack of simplified chess. As William moved his piece over the board, Jack caught a glance of the woman sitting next to him. Sam looked beautiful, the gentle glow of the fire encircled her head, creating an angelic halo. It was nice to see her smiling and laughing with the kids. He knew Sam liked kids. She'd proved that with Cassie when they'd rescued her two years ago, and with Merrin, just a couple weeks before. Kids had a way of bringing out a different side of the major; a side that she, despite popular belief, showed that she could actually relax and take herself a little less seriously than usual. Jack knew that Sam would make a great mom someday.
"Sam? Colonel Jack?" Jack's staring eyes bounced back to William. "Why did you want to go back to your planet tonight?"
Deciding that tales of funny looking yellow people in a strange box would only confuse the child, Jack decided to entertain him with other traditions instead.
"Well, tonight is a very special night for a lot of people back on our planet. We call it Christmas Eve, and we have a lot of special traditions to celebrate it. Some will decorate big trees with colorful lights, or give gifts to each other. When it snows back home, some people will go outside and make snowmen or snow angels."
Although they weren't familiar were the customs, William and Katherine's eyes were shining excitedly, just hearing about them. "How do you make snow angels, Colonel Jack?" asked Katherine.
Memories of teaching Charlie the same thing flooded back to Jack as he showed the children how to lie down on the ground and move their arms back and forth. Thinking the gesture strange, William giggled.
"I think that's silly, Colonel Jack."
"Do you?" Jack raised an eyebrow. "Then you're going to think this is hilarious!"
Playfully lunging for the boy's exposed belly, Jack tickled him until laughing hysterically, William begged him to stop.
Backing away, he returned to his sitting position next to Sam. Was it just him, or had she somehow scooted just a little bit closer than before? He glanced at her, a little surprisedly, but she just smiled at him, and made no attempt to move away.
"What else do your people do for Christmas, Sam?" Katherine implored. Sam looked back.
"Well, when I was little, my entire family would get together,"Sam looked as if she were deep in thought, remembering years long ago. "We used to have a lot of fun because we didn't see each other very often during the rest of the year. A lot of times, we'd sing Christmas music or dance together." She smiled at the memory, and Jack joined her, imagining a much younger Carter skipping around the house during the holidays, singing "Silent Night" slightly off key.
William clapped his tiny chubby hands, finally able to relate to something the Earthlings were talking about. "Like the Winter Festival!"
"Yes!" chimed Katherine. "We sing and dance together at the Winter Festival. We were supposed to have it tonight, but it was cancelled because of the storm." She looked out of the window at the blowing wind sadly.
Struck by an idea, William stood up and ran over to where his father sat quietly chatting with Daniel. He tugged on Henry's sleeve, then whispered in his ear. Henry smiled knowingly, and William ran back, the game in front of them completely forgotten. He grabbed Sam's hand to pull her up.
"Father's going to play us a song!" he cried.
Jack also found himself being pulled up by Katherine, just as Henry brought out what looked like an old guitar. Daniel immediately began chattering about the origins of the instrument, as was fully expected, and sensing the movement, Teal'c began to stir in the corner.
"Hey Teal'c, buddy, we're gonna have a dance. Care to join?"
Teal'c stood, but his tone was skeptical. "On Chulak, it is customary for a Jaffa to dance only with his wife or life partner."
"Well, Teal'c, we're not on Chulak, so why don't you give it a try."
The large Jaffa still seemed unsure, so Sam stepped forward. "Teal'c, would you like to dance with me?"
After only a moment's hesitation, he'd made up his mind. "I would be honored."
Teal'c stepped forward to grab Carter's outstretched hand, and the music from Henry's instrument began to play a lively Renaissance tune. Jack watched as Teal'c tried to keep up with the steps of the jig Sam was teaching him, but instead, unfamiliar with the quick steps, his booted foot made contact with her's, causing her to stumble and fall, quite ungracefully, into his arms. The children laughed and jumped around them.
"Are you injured, Major Carter?" Teal'c asked, guiltily, knowing his inability to dance had caused her to fall.
"I'm fine, Teal'c," Sam reassured him. "Would you like to try again?"
"I do not want to cause you any more danger . . ."
"Oh, for cryin' out loud! I'll show you how it's done, Teal'c. Carter, come here!"
Eyes big, Jack could see that Sam was startled by straight-forward invitation, but she didn't resist as Teal'c gratefully moved away, and Jack filled the space in front of her.
He stretched out his arms, noticing the hesitation in Carter's manner.
"Sir?" she whispered to him.
He knew what she was really asking. 'Should we really be doing this?'
"It's Christmas Eve, Carter. We're okay."
Her soft hands slid into his, sending shivers up and down his spine at the direct contact. Suddenly, the room seemed very silent, and Jack knew that all eyes were on them. Well, that was all well and dandy! Let them stare. It was Christmas Eve and he had the woman he loved in his arms. Her eyes locked with his and didn't let them go.
Henry began strumming the guitar, and the lively music filled the room once more. Daniel and Teal'c watched intently as the couple moved around the room effortlessly avoiding the children dancing around them.
Jack found himself mesmerized by Sam's eyes. Her sapphire orbs were shining brightly, and not only from the light of the fire. For the first time in ages, Jack could feel Carter's joy and it made him feel electrified. Letting go of one of her hands, Jack was able to spin here around and around. Neither noticed when Elizabeth joined the performance, piping away on a recorder, or the children roping Teal'c into their game of ring-around-the-rosy. They were the only ones in the room.
The music swelled, the tempo quickened, and Jack felt his heart race along with it. With every step and every twirl, he was able to forget about everything else, and just be in the moment. Jack could feel that the song was coming to an end, and as the final notes played, he pulled Sam into his arms, ran his hand down her back, and dipped her low, bringing his head down with hers as she automatically brought her own hand around his neck.
All was quiet except for the heavy breathing of the two officers as their pose remained untouched. Jack once again found himself lost in magic of the moment, and as the seconds ticked on, he felt the irresistible urge to kiss her. All of the rules and regulations that had left him duty bound for so long were forgotten, as was everything else. He closed his eyes and moved closer, waiting, waiting for the feel of her lips against his. He was almost there . . .
"Hooray! That was wonderful!"
The voice of Katherine Percival surrounded them, breaking into the little bubble that seemed to separate them from the rest of the world. Applause joined the child's calls of compliments, and painfully, Jack knew that the moment had been broken. His heart ached as Sam hurriedly moved away from him, the space where she'd occupied now empty.
Clapping loudly, Daniel and Teal'c rushed over to them.
"Wow! I didn't know that you two could dance like that! That was amazing!"
"Indeed it was," Teal'c added. "I would never have been able to perform that well, Major Carter."
Jack said nothing, but glanced over at her. Even in the dim light, he was positive that her face had turned deep red and looking down at the ground, she smiled shyly. Jack had never seen her look so flustered, or as beautiful.
"Major Sam! Major Sam! Could you teach me to dance like that?"
"Perhaps another time, Katherine. Now it's time for bed," Elizabeth called, rescuing Sam and Jack from the adoring looks of her children.
Will and Katherine quickly said good-night to SG-1, and left for their small room. Henry and Elizabeth followed in order to tuck them in, leaving the team to themselves.
"So Jack," Daniel inquired. "Where did you learn to dance like that?"
"There are a few positives from growing up in an Irish family, Danny," Jack stated simply. A smirk graced his lips. "If you like, I could teach you sometime."
Daniel snorted. "Oh, God, no! That's perfectly fine, I'm sure Sam could teach me if I wanted to learn."
Sam chuckled, playfully. "Daniel, even I can't always do the impossible."
Lying on the floor in her warm sleeping bag, Sam woke from her restful sleep just as the first rays of sun began to emerge over the planet. She wondered if the Colonel had slept as well as she had. Thoughts of Jack and the night before flooded her mind. She had been so ready to kiss him. So ready to feel his lips against hers. So ready to feel what it had been like for her alternate double.
Dr. Carter had been married to Jack. Just the thought of that was enough to send shivers reminiscent of the night before through her body. They hadn't had to deal with regulations, simply because she'd never been in the military. The possibilities whirled in Carter's head.
If she left the Air Force, she could still work at the SGC as a civilian, just like her doppelganger. She could do just as much for the team, and they could be together. No rules. But then she thought of her hard-earned career. She knew him well enough to know that there was no way in hell Jack would allow her to give it up for him. And she didn't necessarily want to. She'd achieved a lot during her time in the Air Force. She knew that they needed her on the front lines, fighting to win this war with the Goa'uld. That changed things.
Unable to sleep, Sam quietly crawled out of the sleeping bag. The house was cold and she pulled on her boots to help warm her feet against the bitter floorboards.
The morning was beautiful. The violent storm had ended, leaving the village piled with snow. She opened the front door and stepped outside, the cool air taking her breath away. The drifts reached nearly to her knees, but someone had already cleared a path along the Percival's sidewalk. Henry? She was sure she would have heard him if he was already up. Other townsmen were also awake, clearing the roadways with their shovels.
The sun rose higher in the morning sky, illuminating the mounds of snow that rested comfortably on tree branches and rooftops. The quiet scene contradicted her inner turmoil, and she sighed heavily.
She couldn't ask or expect Jack to retire either. In fact, she was certain that his experience and military expertise made him even more important to the SGC than she was. He wasn't a scientist, his career was all he had. She knew it kept his mind off of things, distracting him and helping him to put up a nearly immovable barrier when times got hard. She wouldn't let him give that up, just like she knew he wouldn't let her either.
The door flew open unexpectedly behind her. She whirled around, smashing into some unknown person. Said person stumbled into her and in a flurry of arms and legs, and thanks to a still icey sidewalk, they both found themselves tangled in the snowbank.
The Colonel had landed on his stomach, the snow beneath him creating a very nice impression of his facial features as he pulled his head up.
"Carter! What are you doing out here?" he asked between spitting out mouthfuls of snow.
Sam stood up, brushing herself off. "Sorry, Sir. I just wanted to get some fresh air."
"Ditto that, but I certainly wasn't planning on getting a bath as well." He visibly shivered as the clumps of snow caught in his jacket began to melt. "That's cold!"
Sam winced. "Sorry 'bout that, Sir."
Jack jumped up. "Not yet you're not, but you will be!"
In only a couple strides, Jack had scooped her up effortlessly in his arms, and proceeded to walk purposely over to a particularly large snow drift. In one swift motion, Sam found herself being hurled over it. Impact was cold, landing face-down just like the Colonel. She gasped as she came up, the snow clumping in her golden locks and over her face.
She picked herself up and walked back toward him. Scooping up a handful of the powdery material, Carter threw it at his face. It caused him to close his eyes against the sudden bombardment, allowing Carter the chance to rush the last couple of feet into him, knocking him off his feet for a second time.
But Jack was faster. With cat-like reflexes, he grabbed a hold of Sam's arm, dragging her into the snow with him, and successfully reverting them back to the fist awkward position.
By this time, Sam was laughing like a school-girl. "I give up, Sir! I learned my lesson!"
Jack's smile reached from ear-to-ear as he, once again, picked himself up from the drift. "Good," he said, offering her his hand. She took it gratefully and stood up next to him, looking him straight in the eyes. 'Why does he keep looking at me like that?' she thought.
"So Carter," Jack said nonchalantly as he reached up to brush off her shoulder. "We've got some leave after this mission is over. Why don't you come fishing with me up at my cabin?"
Carter looked confused. "Fishing? In December?"
"Ice Fishing?" he clarified.
Sam chuckled and smiled. "Sure, Jack, that sounds nice."
He grinned back, heart soaring.
"Great. Let's go back inside, Carter."
They walked back to the house together, back to their friends, their ranks, and their jobs.
They both knew that they had a lot to talk about, and that time would come, but right now, it was just enough to be together.
"Merry Christmas, Carter."
"Merry Christmas, Sir."
And Merry Christmas to all of you! Hope you liked it! Feedback is greatly appreciated! Thanks for reading!