Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate SG-1 or its characters. But you already knew that.
Title: Home For Christmas
Season: Stargate Atlantis, Season 4, set just after "The Seer".
A/N: Written for Padme for the Sam/Jack Ship Thread's annual Secret Santa. I had a very difficult time coming up with an idea for a fic. The result because a Sam character story mixed with Sam/Jack and a bit of Sam/John friendship. Merry Christmas, Padme! Hope you enjoy it! -Jess
Silent night, holy night . . .
All is calm, all is bright . . .
Light holiday music filtered through the Atlantis control room, familiar melodies drifting softly over the balcony where Samantha Carter stood. A soft, salt-filled breeze wrapped around her, enveloping the colonel and gently fingering the stray locks of hair that had escaped her blonde braid. Two full moons gazed upon the city and illuminated the strong fingers that so sternly grasped the railing in front of her.
Only three days before, Carter had stood in this same spot, contemplating a decision that would either protect or destroy the city as old as time, and potentially take a whole lot of good people to their deaths.
Her people. The responsibility to protect those under her command had left a nagging feeling in the pit of Sam's stomach. It was a stressful notion to come to terms with the idea that the expedition's survival could hinge on the accuracy of her decisions alone.
Stressful indeed. Needless to say, her personal respect for commanders before her, Hammond, Landry, Elizabeth Weir, had grown to new depths in the last months. She truly understood why Sheppard hadn't wanted this job.
Thankfully the IOA's recent review was over. The stress of her command was great enough without being graded on her work, particularly when her chosen evaluator had been a certain Richard Woolsey.
Despite his personal assurances, Woolsey had an uncanny habit of poking his snubby, bureaucratic nose in places it was neither wanted nor needed. That had always been the case. Ever since his first appearance at the SGC over four years ago to investigate the botched mission to P3X-666 and the death of Janet Fraiser.
In fact, Woolsey's recent investigation had only served to remind Sam of her best friend's horrific death in the line of duty, something that Sam hadn't allowed herself to dwell on in years.
And with another heart-wrenching pang, Sam remembered that Cassie was back on Earth, spending Christmas Eve without her. Cassandra was in college now; she hardly needed Sam to be with her, but since Janet's death, Sam had made it her personal responsibility to make Christmas a special time for the girl she thought of as her daughter. And now she was stationed on another word, in another galaxy, some three and a half million lightyears away.
So much for promises.
The thought provoked a sigh as Sam crossed her arms and leaned on the railing.
Over the course of her three months as base commander, this particular balcony had become a sort of sanctuary for Sam. It had provided a solitary place for her to contemplate the many decisions she made. The slow, monotonous splashing of the waves against the base of the city so far below calmed her and cleared her mind. The sound of the wind and the salty scent it carried never failed to comfort her.
But now, the solitary balcony overlooking the infinite ocean only served to remind her of how alone she felt this Christmas.
A peal of laughter rang out from behind. A half a dozen technicians were currently spaced around the control room, talking loudly and gesturing animatedly. Their presence was only required to monitor the 'gate and any incoming transmissions. The rest of the expedition was down in the mess hall, enjoying the celebration that was taking place there.
However, the skeleton crew remaining here didn't seem to mind that they were missing out on the festivities. "Deck the Halls" began playing through the room (Carter never had figured out how Rodney had been able to integrate a regular Earth-made CD player into the Ancient's base communication system), and the colleagues swayed and sang together to the familiar tune, seemingly oblivious to Carter who watched them with amusement.
Her subordinates' friendships were heartwarming, and it again left her longing for her loved ones back on Earth.
Sure, she had made friends in her time here. Sorta. Everyone had been extremely welcoming and accepting of her as their new leader. But that was just the problem. She was the boss. "The Man" as Jack would say. And it was tough to be "the Man". Having the final say over everything and everyone kinda intimidated people when it came to developing personal friendships. After following the orders for so many years, Sam was finally realizing just how lonely it was at the top of the pyramid.
A soft voice jarred her back to the present situation. She turned to see John Sheppard standing in the doorway. The Lieutenant Colonel had been a great help to her in the last couple months, despite the loss that the man had recently suffered through.
He walked to her side, looking out over the horizon. "Some people have been wondering if you were going to join us."
She smiled at his admission. "That's very thoughtful of them. But I think that I'm just going to turn in early."
"Well, for what it's worth, ma'am, I think they're right," he said softly. "You need a chance to relax. Forget those visions."
Yeesh. Another thing on her mind. The unfulfilled memory shown to her by the seer, Darvos had given her something else to think about. She had seen the destruction of Atlantis in clear detail; people dying inside. She blinked quickly to rid her mind of the replaying image before turning back to Sheppard. She could see the concern in his eyes, and it lifted her spirit to know that he cared.
"I'll think about it."
That seemed to satisfy him, and he began to walk back to the door.
In the end, Sam eventually found herself making her way to the commissary. John's concern, and apparently everyone else's as well, had been touching, and showing up at the party was the least that she could do to thank him.
What she saw nearly took her breath away. The mess hall had been transformed into the equivalent of a large party hall. Most of the tables, each sporting a small, red candle, had been rearranged around the perimeter of the room, leaving the floor open for mingling and dancing. A small fir-like tree, retrieved by a team on an off-world mission, had been leaned against the wall, decorated with Christmas lights, ornaments, and a shimmering silver star that Sam herself had requested from Earth after many members of the expedition had asked for permission to spruce up the place for the holidays. Her people's dedication showed in the form of dozen of daintily cut paper snowflakes that hung above the tree.
"Colonel Carter." She looked around to see Teyla staring intently at her.
"Teyla," Sam greeted the Athosian warmly.
"I'm glad that you could join us for the celebration." The alien woman took a sip from the mug, clearly coffee, that she held in her hand. The lines around her eyes spoke of her exhaustion. Sam knew that it had been a difficult last few weeks for her, caused by the disappearance of her people and the little progress that was being made in finding them, but she was glad to see that the woman was relaxing.
"Me too. The place looks amazing."
"Indeed it does," she replied. "Although your customs are strange to me, it is good to see that everyone else is responding to the familiarity of your planet."
"I agree. By the way, Teyla, have you seen Colonel Sheppard around here?" She wanted to personally thank him for all the help he'd been to her the last three months.
"John just left to check on a matter in the control room. I'm sure he'll be back soon."
Sam nodded as one of the base cooks passed them, pushing a large tray covered with deserts. The base food wasn't always five-star restaurant quality, but the cooks had gone out of their way to prepare a sizable feast for everyone.
"Have you eaten yet, Colonel?" Teyla asked her.
"No, I haven't," Sam replied, a little embarrassed. More and more recently, she found herself skipping meals and forgetting to eat.
"Why don't you decide what you'd like and then come and sit with me. Rodney and I are sitting over there." She pointed toward one of the tables that had been pushed into the corner.
"Sounds good. Thanks."
Teyla gave her a curt nod and walked back toward McKay leaving Sam to contemplate her food choices.
She had just reached for the appetizing slice of banana cream pie piled with whipped cream when her communicator sprang to life.
"Colonel Carter. This is the control room. Please come in."
Resigning to place the pie back on the desert table untouched, Sam touched her finger to her ear, opening the channel for two-way communication.
"You might want to get up here, ma'am. We're receiving an incoming wormhole."
Sam's brow furrowed. There weren't any teams currently off-world, and they didn't have a check-in with Earth for another four days.
"I'm on my way."
She made her way to the control room via the transporter via the transporter. By the time she got there, the wormhole had established. Colonel Sheppard was standing next to Chuck.
"Lower the shield," he ordered as she walked in.
"Colonel Sheppard?" she asked. "What have we got?"
"Midway Station, Colonel," answered Sheppard. "They're requesting to send a traveler our way."
"Who did they say it was?"
Sheppard's eyes twinkled mischievously. "I'm afraid I can't say, ma'am. Something about it being a surprise."
His smirk indicated that he knew more than he said. Carter raised an eyebrow at him but didn't push the matter. Instead, she walked out of the control room and started down the steps, eager to see who their unexpected holiday visitor was.
The Stargate's event horizon shimmered expectantly in the dim light of the 'gate room. Suddenly, the blue puddle parted, its ripples dissipating over the surface to reveal its traveler. Sam couldn't hold back a smile when she saw who it was.
The night was finally starting to look up.
"Colonel," he greeted professionally. "How nice of you to meet me." He straitened the jacket of his service dress uniform and nodded curtly to the marine who reached out to accept his briefcase.
"Yes, sir," she said, doing her best to quell her surprise and remain as professional as he was. When in truth, she wanted nothing more than to throw herself at the man and kiss him senseless. But that would have to wait.
"What brings you this way?"
"Business, Carter. Official business."
"I see," Sam answered, though she didn't. Even the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington weren't heartless enough to send Jack traipsing across galaxies on Christmas Eve. But it didn't matter. He was here.
Apparently, Jack's professionalism in the 'gateroom had all been an act, because just as they passed through the first hallway on the way to the guest quarters, Jack pulled her into the first empty room he could find. Which wasn't difficult considering most of the expedition was in the commissary. Spinning her to face him, Jack pressed his lips against hers, greeting her the way she had wanted to greet him in the 'gateroom. They stayed like that for what seemed like forever, lips pressed and arms encircling each other. Jack finally broke away, a hungry look in his eyes that has been suppressed previously.
"I couldn't wait to do that," he all but growled.
Left breathless, Sam could only gasp out, "I'm glad you didn't."
Jack pulled only slightly away, looking a bit embarrassed by his lapse of weakness. After all, he was only human.
Sam smiled at him. "So why are you here, Jack? Really."
"Officially, Sam, I really am here on business. The president said he wants me to do a quick review of your command in order to compare it to Woolsey's review. Second opinions and all that." He grinned deviously. "Unofficially, I had already asked Hayes for some leave, he just needed a reason to grant it."
"You couldn't have come at a better time."
"Yeah, from what I heard from Woolsey, things have been pretty hectic around here."
"The understatement of the year."
"So I figured, what better way to surprise my favorite Colonel for Christmas."
"Best present ever," she agreed, wrapping her arms around his waist and looking up at him. He placed a chaste kiss on her lips. Suddenly, his look changed to one of surprise and excitement.
"Oh, that reminds me," he said, reaching into his jacket pocket. He pulled out a small, rectangular shaped box, a tell-tale of jewelry stores everywhere. A thick red ribbon wove itself into a bow on the top. Jack handed it to her, excited to see her reaction.
"Merry Christmas, Carter."
Tugging the ribbon and opening the box, Sam's smile increased ten-fold. Before her lay a dainty, silver necklace; a circular pendant encrusted with diamonds dangling from the slim chain. Within the pendant, a light blue turquoise gem sparkled faintly as light from the hallway funneled into the dark room.
"Oh, Jack," Sam whispered, her breath all but taken away.
Jack smiled. "You like?"
She touched the smooth gemstone. "I love it."
She stared up at him, affectionately, " Put it on me?"
She handed the box back to Jack, then turned and moved her braid to the side to allow him easy access. Complying, he reached over her head and around her neck, clasping the necklace in place, before she turned to face him. It was even prettier on her than he had imagined it would be.
Looking down at the adornment she still held in her hand, Sam voice held a twinge of embarrassment.
"I'm sorry I don't have anything to give you," she said softly.
Jack smiled. "It doesn't matter," he answered enveloping her with his strong arms. "I've got all I need right here."
She gave him an odd look. "Cliches, Jack?"
He shrugged casually. "They're not all bad."
Sam and Jack stepped from the transporter on their way to the guest quarters. They walked along in comfortable silence, their bodies touching every so often as one of them accidently strayed to the side. Soon, the sound of raised voices and faint music reached Jack's ears.
"What is that?" he asked, turning toward the sound.
"Huh?" It took Sam a moment to realize where his attention had shifted. She waved him off, nonchalantly. "Oh, that's just the Christmas party that's going on."
Jack turned back to her, raising an eyebrow in a familiar impression of their former Jaffa teammate.
"A party? What kind of command are you running here, Colonel?" he asked teasingly.
She smiled and gestured toward the mess hall. "Would you like to see, General?"
His eyes lit up. "Are you kidding? Let's go!"
He started off down the hallway and toward the tempting sounds like a mosquito to a bug zapper. And because they were alone, he grabbed her hand, dragging her along behind him.
Sam chuckled as he pulled her along, only dislodging her hand from his as they neared the mess and the multitude of people congregating there.
Jack reluctantly let her hand slip from his grasp as they entered the room, knowing that she still wished to keep their relationship as confidential as possible. Although no longer forbidden, their relationship was both private and still a bit sensitive as far as the military big-wigs were concerned. It was best to keep it to a need-to-know basis.
At least for now. But soon, Jack wanted to let loose. Scream it to the world. He wanted to let everyone know that Samantha Carter was his and his alone. Very soon.
He looked around the full room, genuinely proud of the job that Carter was doing with this post. Her people respected her, that much was certain. Sam had made herself to be a professional commander, but also someone who personally cared for those she was leading. And, as Jack satisfyingly noticed, from the looks of the party currently taking place, she was still making time for fun on the base. That, he noted, was always a sign of a good commander.
Rockin' around the Christmas tree
at the Christmas party hop . . .
Taste in music wasn't too bad either.
All around, people were laughing and eating and simply enjoying the uniqueness of the night. Obviously, celebrations were rare in a place that was on constant alert from alien threats that could blow them out of the sky: or rather, the water. It was good to see everyone enjoying themselves, and now that Jack was here, Sam felt as though she could whole-heartedly join in.
"Colonel Carter? General O'Neill?" Sam turned and for the third time that night was greeted by John Sheppard's coy smirk.
"Sheppard!" Jack's voice rang out over the bustling people. "Good to see you."
"Good to see you too, sir. I trust you've been settled into your quarters."
"Actually, no," Jack replied. "We were headed there, but got a bit distracted along the way."
Sam resisted the urge to roll her eyes at the double-meaning in Jack's statement.
Sheppard's eyes traveled from the General to his commander, and back again. "That's understandable, sir." Yet again, his eyes warned that he knew more than he was letting on. "Well, with your permission, I think I'll take my leave. Enjoy the party, General. Colonel." He nodded at Sam before turning away.
"John, wait," Sam's voice stopped him.
"I've been wanting to thank you. For everything that you've done these past few months. You've been a great help to me."
Unsurprisingly, he shrugged off her praise. "It's been my pleasure, Colonel."
She nodded appreciatively, and he walked away.
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose . . .
The music changed suddenly, the familiar "Christmas Song" wafting over the room. The slow melody calmed the noisy crowd and without any hesitation, Sam watched as John stepped across the open floor, to where Teyla Emmagan still sat with Rodney McKay. Bowing slightly, he offered her his hand. Smiling, the Athosian gracefully accepted, and together they moved back to the middle of the room.
Spurred on by the Colonel's actions, others followed suit and soon the floor was scattered with a dozen or so couples, civilians and military alike.
They danced slowly, gently swaying back and forth. One pair of newly assigned scientists couldn't seem to figure out what to do with their hands, creating a rather comical scene. Sheppard pulled Teyla closer and she rested her head on his shoulder, taking comfort from each others' presence. Off to the side, Ronon stood silently, staring not at the humourous scientists, or at his teammates, but out into the unpartnered members of the audience. Sam thought that he looked as though he wanted to ask someone to dance. Something also seemed to be holding him back.
At her side, Sam took notice of the hand that had snaked around and landed on her hip.
"Sam." Jack's voice whispered near her ear.
She turned as he gestured toward the opposite side of the room toward the door leading outside to the pier.
Glancing back at the General, Sam led the way out to the adjacent balcony, pleased to find it empty. Here, the city was much closer to sea level, and the song of the waves formed over that of the music, leaving only a softened, muted melody.
Jack gazed over the rolling ocean with devoid eyes. "It's a nice place you've got here, Carter."
Sam leaned against the railing. "We make do," she said with a shrug.
"No, I really mean it. The city of the Ancients? That's gotta hold some pretty high marks in the real estate industry."
She leaned into his shoulder, confident that no one was watching. "So what are you saying, Jack?"
"Well, you know. I'm sure the president wouldn't mind me asking for a transfer across galaxies. He could just send all that damn paperwork through the 'gate every so often. It might be worth looking into."
Sam almost wished that she hadn't heard the barely detectable tone of sarcasm in his voice. She knew he was only joking. He couldn't come and stay on base with her, as tempting as the idea was to both of them. It was just his way of saying that he had missed her as much as she had missed him.
God, had she missed him.
The lonely nights, waking up to an empty bed, not knowing the next time she'd see him. It had been like this since the beginning of their relationship when Jack had transferred to Washington. But this gave the idea of a long-distance relationship a whole new meaning.
Sometimes she just wished that it were all over. That he could retire and she could go back to Earth. That they could get that dog Jack had been talking about for years. So that they could go up to the cabin for Christmas, just the two of them.
Once again, the music changed to a light, jazzy feel, this time accompanied by Bing Crosby's mellow voice.
I'll be home for Christmas . . .
You can plan on me . . .
It was a song that held meaning for everyone on the base. In fact, it was a song for anyone whose job, military or otherwise, had ever forced them away from home at that special time of year. It offered comfort to those who were pressured into unsure circumstances without loved ones by their side.
Without the need for words, Jack gently reached for her hand and pulled her over to him. He stepped away from the railing and began swaying seamlessly to the music. Dancing with this man just felt so natural, and Sam instinctively found herself reaching underneath his arms in order to wrap her body around his and hold his as tight as humanly possible.
Despite the chilly night, warmth radiated from his body, spilling heat into her own. His arms encircled her and for the moment, she felt as though she could handle anything the world threw at her. Or the galaxy. Or the IOA. Whatever. All that mattered was right now. And right now, she had the man of her dreams in her arms.
Looking up, she leaned into him, her lips reaching up to capture his. He responded eagerly, deepening the kiss and sighing contentedly. When they need to breathe became to much, Sam broke the kiss and positioned her head gently on his right shoulder.
Taking advantage of her head resting against him, Jack bent and brushed his lips over her soft blonde hair. Breathing in her scent deeply, he whispered into her ear.
"Merry Christmas, Sam."
"Merry Christmas, Jack."
She closed her eyes in deep contentment and sighed, listening to the music.
It just couldn't get much better than this.
Christmas Eve will find me . . .
Where the lovelight gleams . . .
I'll be home for Christmas . . .
If only in my dreams.
And there you have it. My Sam/Jack Christmas fic filled with cliches and platitudes. I'm not really sure why I decided to imply that Sheppard knew about Sam and Jack's relationship, but I think that it worked. Please review if you have the time, they are a writer's only payment.
Merry Christmas to everyone and God bless you all.