Disclaimer: Oh, who am I kidding? If you're reading this piece of fanfiction, you already know that I don't own them, somebody else does. I'm just borrowing the characters, and I didn't make any money off this story... Darn.
A/N Sixth in the 'Relationship Series.'
Sam stood in the frigid air of a typical winter day in Colorado Springs, and rang Jack's doorbell. Snow surrounded the sidewalk she was standing so patiently on, and Christmas lights blinked on all the houses on the block except Jack's. Sam hadn't thought anything about the relatively bare condition of Jack's house last year, but this Christmas season, she knew Jack a whole lot better than she had a year ago. She ought to know him, as they had been dating in secret for well over a year, now.
As Sam stood in the cold of early evening, she thought about her reasoning for even being here, a place she undeniably wasn't supposed to be. She'd had plans to spend the holidays with her brother in San Diego, as she had done the previous year. Of course, Jack had supported her jaunt last year, suggesting that fewer rumors would be spread about them if it were known that she was going to spend the Christmas holidays with Mark. The same had been planned for this year, but as she was waiting to board the airplane that would take her to California, she had suddenly decided that she wanted to spend the holiday with Jack instead of Mark's family. She had retrieved her bag from the baggage employees, cashed in her ticket, and now here she was, after driving three hours through a freak snowstorm that seemed to only be affecting the holiday travelers in between the Springs and Denver. She hadn't counted on the weather not cooperating with her change of plans, and now she was hungry, tired, and cold. Actually, she just wanted to snuggle with Jack, knowing that a good snuggle would solve almost anything life could throw at her, even bad weather.
Impatient, Sam rang the bell again. Was it even working? She strained to hear the distant peel of the doorbell. Suddenly the front door was thrown open, revealing Jack, looking slightly pained until he realized who she was. His surprise gave way to delight first, followed swiftly by confusion.
Sam! What are you doing here? Did something happen?
What's going on?
No, nothing happened. She shrugged
I decided at the last minute that I wanted to
spend Christmas with you instead of Mark's family. So, I called
Mark, canceled, grabbed my bag, drove through a really weird
snowstorm that only seems to be hitting the interstate between
here and Denver, spent three hours on the road when I should have
only had to spend one, and here I am! Again came her bright
smile, which slowly faltered when he didn't immediately invite
her into his home.
I hope that doesn't bother you... Me
being here, I mean, she said in a small voice that was
growing even smaller by the second.
No! Jack exclaimed then.
I'm not bothered at
all! he went on.
Um, he continued, finally stepping
back, out of her way.
Come in. Sorry about it taking so long
for me to invite you in... I was just so surprised to see you is
Sam stepped across his threshold, then hung her coat in the
I'm sorry about all this changing around.., she
insisted on saying.
But Christmas is all about spending time
with who you love, and...
You don't love Mark? Jack teased from behind her as
he followed her down the hall, and into the living room.
Sam rolled her eyes.
Of course I love Mark, but I can't
even pretend that I'm in love with him... That would be
fairly illegal, anyway, wouldn't it? she asked as a teasing
aside of her own, then went on with her explanation.
I was sitting at the airport in Denver when it hit me that this
plan of ours was slightly silly. I mean, I can spend the
holidays with you without causing too much speculation,
and... Suddenly, her wandering gaze caught sight of the
coffee table. Actually, her gaze caught site of what was
scattered on top of the coffee table. The mess, or more
precisely, what was in the mess, stopped her commentary,
and she was only able to stare blankly in the direction of the
On the low table sat one full glass of whiskey, its fumes
telling her about the contents of the glass without her having to
bring the foul-smelling liquid to her nose for a sniff, and a
scattering of letters, cards, and pictures, all of Jack's
What's going on? What are you doing?
she asked then, a confused wrinkle to her nose.
Jack hunched his shoulders. He didn't pretend to be doing
something innocent, like cleaning just to clean, in order to fill
up his free time. He instead told her exactly what he'd been
doing, or had been about to do.
Again Sam's gaze flitted back to the glass of whiskey.
Hard liquor? she asked herself. Jack never drinks hard
liquor. Or, at least, I've never seen
him drink hard liquor. At last, she looked at him in
Are you drunk? she asked, and with
good reason, considering the tumbler full of whiskey he must have
had sitting at his finger tips.
Well, that was the plan, Jack told her.
I'm not yet, he confessed.
'The plan?' Sam questioned. The wrinkle on her
forehead etching itself even deeper into her skin.
Jack looked guiltily down at the floor, and stuffed his
hands in his pockets, something he hadn't done at any place
besides the SGC in months.
This is what I do during the
holidays, he told her.
'You remember,' she repeated him in a dazed
And regret, he ended.
Sam peered once more at the pile of photographs on the coffee table. They were mostly pictures of Charlie, from his infant years all the way through to the year of his untimely death. Sam could tell what she was seeing, as he grew progressively older in each photo. Most of the pictures had been taken at his school. Then something new caught her wandering gaze. Her eyes widened for just a second, and she slowly crossed the room to the table to pull out the picture that had halted her gaze.
It was the photo of Jack, Sara, and Charlie, when Jack was still married to Sara, the one that he'd displayed on the shelf between his living room and dining rooms when she had first known him. It was not an unfamiliar photo to her. She would have recognized it anywhere, even though he had removed it from the heavy frame it had been displayed in. Since the time when she'd first known Jack, he had removed that picture from its prominent place of display, now showing a more recent picture of his team mates having fun in the sun of an abandoned planet somewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy. She hadn't seen the picture of Jack and Sara and Charlie for several years, at least.
Now, however, she was getting an eyeful. The threesome were standing happily outside their house, smiling at the camera. This photo must have been fairly near the time Charlie had accidentally shot himself and died: He was pretty old in the picture, she decided absentmindedly. She especially looked at Jack, as she always automatically looked at him in pictures. But what really caught her attention was that they all looked so happy together, both as a family, and Jack with Sara.
Without warning, jealousy hit Sam like she had been punched in her stomach as her gaze swiveled next to the woman standing in Jack's willing (or so it looked) embrace. She herself had wanted to be embraced in his arms exactly like Sara was in the photo, yet here he was, thinking that she was gone, so he was free to look at pictures of the family... the ex-wife... that he had lost...
Jack spoke first.
Um... You know, maybe this isn't the
best time for you to see me like this...
'Like this?' Sam again repeated him, slowly lifting
her suddenly heavy head so that she could stare at him.
Yeah, he softly said, his expression of guilt only
I'm not the best of company around the
Jack, Sam chastised as she lowered the picture to her
side. She tried to ignore the feeling of jealousy that was
accosting her, but couldn't quite eradicate it entirely.
don't care how you behave... You know that... I just wanted to
be here, in the same house with you, for a holiday...
Jack crossed over to her, and gently removed the picture
from her grasp. He placed it upside down on top of the other
pictures scattered on the coffee table.
Maybe this particular
holiday isn't the time for you to be around me...
Was he trying to get rid of her? That's what it sounded
like to her... Sam blankly gazed at him, just beginning to
comprehend and connect what she had seen with what she was
discovering about his Christmas habits.
tried her best to once again rein in her feelings of jealousy.
She had no reason to feel jealous, she thought to herself. It
was just a picture of his ex-wife and his lost family... She
knew how much he had always claimed to miss them...
But, then, on the other hand, what was wrong with what she and Jack had? True, it had to be kept secret, so nothing possibly incriminating, such as photos, had ever been taken of them, but he'd always professed to adore her, so she'd had no reason to be jealous before now.
Until... Still thinking that Jack had been in the process of perusing photos of his old family, and he had quite obviously laid the picture she'd been holding face down on his coffee table so that she couldn't see it, Sam had very little reason not to think that, maybe, perhaps, he was still missing them, in spite of his relationship with her.
And why was that? Sam suddenly felt terribly inadequate; She had always suffered from a lack of confidence in her interpersonal relationships... Jack knew that. So, what was he doing?
So, Jack continued, his hands once again stuffed
nervously in his pockets. Which was strange... Jack hadn't been
nervous around her since that infamous (though secret) first date
they'd had when they had eaten junk, and talked in a mall full of
Are you here to take pity on me or something, and
keep me from..?
Sam's jealousy swiftly turned to anger, red and hot, as she
stared at him with narrowing eyes.
This has nothing to do
with pity, she informed him in a clipped tone.
Jack gazed back at her, just as uncomprehending as she had
But isn't that really why you even came here this
Christmas? he asked.
Because I encouraged you to go to
Sam's eyes shot to the photo that he had turned over, lying
innocently on the coffee table.
And now I know why you always
seemed to be so encouraging, she answered, her tone still
angry, and understandably so, given the circumstances.
if you want me to just go so that you can get on with you
wallowing, I can. I know where the door is. Sam
headed for the stairs leading into the entry hall, and would have
left the house, but for the fact that Jack grabbed her arm before
she could even reach the stairs.
Sam, that's not what I meant, and you know it, Jack
began to say.
Sam whirled around to glare at him.
Oh, do I? she
challenged, all pretense of having a civilized conversation with
Why don't you fill me in on what else I'm
supposed to know, she spitefully suggested.
Jack narrowed his eyes.
Why are you so angry at me?
You're the one who's not even supposed to be
That's a no-brainer! Sam declared.
supposed to be happily and obliviously off at Mark's so
that you can be free to... what is this?... To long for your old
life, your old family...
What's that got to do with you being suddenly so mad at
me? Jack questioned, then he scoffed,
And I was not
longing, or pining, or wishing, or...
Jack, I'm not an idiot! Sam reminded him.
up, unexpected, and find that you've spent the day looking at
pictures of your ex-wife and son... What the hell am I
supposed to think? she scathingly inquired.
I take this one day a year to remember how stupid I was,
and Charlie paid the price, and all you can see is Sara? Of
course Sara was in all my pictures that I have of Charlie... She
was his mother, if I remember correctly...
Sam shot back,
I do not want to be forced into some kind
of competition with your ex-wife that...
Competition? Jack repeated.
I never thought that
you were in some kind of competition with Sara...
Just let me go, Jack, Sam demanded, pulling her arm
out of his grasp.
I can see that I'm just extra baggage to
have around, especially on a holiday, so...
Jack's eyes were blazing with his own intense anger now,
You are not 'extra baggage,' Sam, Jack firmly
You know that you never have been...
I don't know anything like that! Sam cut him off.
And that was when Jack did something so unexpected that it
left Sam reeling and feeling slightly foolish. He took one step
closer to her, and quickly wrapped his arms around her.
are we doing, Sam? he asked her, though his tone suggested
that he wasn't looking for an answer to his question. The fact
that he continued in the same questioning vein supported that
line of thinking.
Are we fighting?
Sam stood stiffly in his embrace. It was ironic that she
had wanted just such a gesture from him earlier, and now that she
had gotten what she wanted, she found that she wasn't able to
Perhaps we are, she said.
And about Sara, of all people? Jack went on to
I know that you must miss her.., Sam began to
Jack interrupted her comment.
But I don't, he said,
his blunt statement surprising Sam enough for her to ask a
question as well.
You don't? she inquired.
Jack vigorously shook his head.
As unbelievable as that
may sound, Jack said,
I don't. His arms tightened
around her, and, at long last, hers rose to encircle him as well.
Now, if you were to die like Charlie did.., Jack
started to say, but he stopped himself, and literally clutched at
God, you can't.., he raggedly said.
thinking that such a thing can happen again to me will give me
nightmares for a month.
That was a surprising thing to say for a man who was
secretly longing for someone else, like his ex-wife, Sam's
rational mind argued. Aloud, she whispered,
Damn, Sam, Jack softly divulged to her.
that very thing every time we go through that 'Gate. Just a
little part of me wonders if this is the time that... His
voice broke, and he had to take a strained breath so that he
I worry that I might lose you like I did
Charlie, like I did my old family... He stood for a moment
holding her tight enough to steal the breath from her, as if he
could keep bad things from happening to her if he were only able
to just squeeze her tightly enough.
I don't know how I would
live without you in...
His voice trailed off into nothing before he had the chance
to finish his thought. He just held her so tightly that she got
the impression that he never wanted to let her go. Then his
quiet voice started an explanation that sounded just beyond her
I always spend my Christmases this way, you
know, like wallowing is my traditional Christmas activity, he
And I did it last year, too, though I had more trouble
with it, he told her.
And this year, I hadn't even gotten
started on it yet. I... I couldn't get started, he whispered
in an ongoing, tragic, manner.
I kept thinking about you...
Remembering you... Our conversations, some of the things we've
But we can't really do anything together here, she
reminded him in a matching whisper.
We can't be seen together
off base, not like a couple, not since that time we went to that
I know, he interrupted.
We might run into someone
we know... And I'm so afraid that you being seen with me... with
me.., he clarified.
Together... As a couple...
I'm so afraid that it will somehow hurt you, hurt you career...
And I'll never be able to forgive myself for screwing up
again.., he went on.
Sam stopped him.
If that ever happens, I'll know that
it's not your fault, she told him.
You would never
actively want that...
Which is why I was sitting on my couch, with a glass of
whiskey, that I didn't even drink, by the way, and all I could
think about was how we have just so many days of downtime right
now, and that it would have been nice if I had thought sooner of
flying with you to somewhere big, like New York City, or London,
or Toronto, where it would be almost impossible for us to run
into anyone that we know, so we can be together like a normal
couple, but I was too dumb, again, and missed my chance to
mention it because you were gone to Mark's... And what a good
Christmas present that would have been...
You already gave me something for Christmas, she told
I wasn't expecting to get anything more for...
This is stupid, Jack suddenly announced.
no reason why we can't go now that we're both together... It's
not like I want to stay home, and wallow by myself,
Sam lifted her head, pushing it back so that she could look
Do you meant that, Jack? she asked.
really want to go with me to somewhere like New York
Or London, or... Jack argued.
Unless you have
somewhere specific that you'd rather go instead?
God, no! Sam proclaimed.
I've always wanted to go
to NYC, but just didn't have the time...
Jack peered straight into her face as excitement began to
take hold of his voice.
Then let's check the flight times...
There's really no reason to wait, not to go...
Sam stared at him.
Are you serious, here?
Sam, there's nothing I'd like more than to spend some
time with you like we're in a regular relationship, Jack told
What a good Christmas present to ourselves, he went
on to say.
And we wouldn't have to explain ourselves to
anybody... Teal'c's off world, visiting his family during the
break, Daniel's in Chicago, Doc's with Cassie at her parent's in
So NYC sounds like it's pretty darned safe, Sam
Hey, we could go to a ball game.., Jack started to
Sam couldn't help it... she laughed.
You and your
It's not so bad, Jack argued.
I'll even let you
Sam laughed again.
I do have to admit that I like
popcorn. Then she looked around at the pictures and cards
and mementos lying on his coffee table.
That, she tactfully said.
Oh, that? Jack echoed her, and looked, too. Then he
turned back to stare at her.
Just leave it, he suggested.
He smiled directly into her blue eyes.
I suddenly have
something better to do.
And with their arms entwined around each other's waists, he led her toward the room he kept his computer in so Sam could work her magic on his computer (he himself knew next to nothing about booking plane tickets online), and get them on a flight to... wherever... Their destination really didn't matter to him. What mattered was that they went on this unexpected trip together...
And he hoped he would remember to bring along the ring he'd bought...
Sequel: NYC, or Bust
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