Title: Thin Line
Author: Patricia (‘Tricia’) Byrne
Category: Sam & Jack Angst
Content Warning: Nothing really, very minor language.
Season/Sequel info: None
Spoilers: Frozen, Abyss, small ones for Divide & Conquer and Entity
Archive: SJD, Heliopolis, AbydosGate, Jackfic. Anywhere else just let me know so I can visit J
Summary: Jack teeters on the brink of life and love.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or deceased, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Author’s notes: As always, thank you to the wonderful women of Jackfic chat. Especially, Neet, Annie, Kasi, AJ, Sam, Amanda, Aud, Susan (Arrietty) and anyone else who read this during it’s many stages of early development. And special thanks to my two wonderful ‘full-service’ beta’s – Hoo and Dee.
Copyright © Patricia M. Byrne, August 2003
There is a thin line between love and hate.
And somewhere during the past few hours – or was it days? – Jack O’Neill had crossed that line.
He hated her.
Her. Major Doctor Samantha Carter. Her.
He hated the power she had over him. How could a simple smile – that smile – be almost enough to get him to agree to anything?
He closed his eyes, shutting out the sight of the rusty gold walls that surrounded him.
She hadn’t even needed that smile to put him here. No, two simple words was all it had taken. Two words and he had completely disregarded everything his mind and body had screamed at him.
‘Sir, please.’ Those two simple words were going to kill him.
They definitely had not been the most romantic words she could have chosen, and maybe, just maybe, he could admit to himself that they hadn’t been the words he would have liked to have heard. But, he’d known what she’d meant. Or at least, what he hoped she had meant. The whole ‘I care about you, sir, more than I should, and I don’t want to lose you.’
Okay, yeah. At times he was still pretty much hung up on Carter, but lo… lo… the ‘L’ word?
Right now, definitely not.
Right now, he wanted to ring her neck.
Right now, he was cursing the memories of every single time she had managed to coerce him into giving in to anything. Anything at all. He could give into her every desire as she smiled her special smile, gave him her doe eyed look. Any desire large or small. With her smile. With her eyes. With that little touch she would lay on his arm or the light touch of her head nestling against his shoulder in rare, but sought after, moments…
God, how could he think about her like this?
He HATED the woman!
All of this was because of her. He was here. He was dying. All because of her.
There is a thin line between life and death.
Jack O’Neill wasn’t sure which side of it he fell on at the moment.
How would you ever know the difference?
And where the hell did ascension fit in anyway?
He had seen Daniel, and to be honest, he wasn’t any less annoying in his current state – whatever that was – than he had been in life.
But if Daniel really wasn’t alive, where did that leave him?
Was he dead? Okay, so he remembered being pulled out of a sarcophagus – so he *had* been dead at some point, right? But how did he know he was alive now?
Maybe this was hell? He had done some pretty shitty things in his lifetime – but could he really be in hell?
There is a thin line between love and hate. But could he honestly say he had crossed the line from love to hate with Carter? Had he ever truly loved Carter?
From the very beginning he had been drawn to her. Her eyes, her smile, her legs, her attitude, her strengths; everything about her was so different from all of the other women that had been in his life.
First of all, she was smart. Not that the other women in his life hadn’t been smart, but definitely not Doctor Samantha Carter, PhD in Theoretical Astrophysics smart. She was military, which was very different. She could understand him in a way that few, male or female, ever had. She was strong, both physically and emotionally, a strength that had been tested time and time again and only grown. She was beautiful, but even more than beautiful she was gorgeous. The type of beauty that was not just noticeable in a pretty dress with makeup on, but an inner beauty that radiated through a room with her very presence.
She had pulled him out of death’s grip time and time again. And he had done the same for her. He had tried to convince himself that it wasn’t there—the attraction. He’d try to convince himself time and again that the feelings that her nearness aroused in him were not of attraction, but more of a commanding officer’s proud feelings for the *best damn subordinate ever*. He’d told himself that it wasn’t possible that the feeling he got when he thought of her was a familiar one. Completely unlooked for considering his past and their situation, but familiar all the same. And not entirely unpleasant either.
No, he had to admit it had always been there. In his weaker moments, when he hadn’t shut down the half-formed thoughts, he had even convinced himself that the attraction was mutual.
Virus induced it may have been, but the fact remained that Carter had jumped him in the locker room that time. If he had understood then… if his own feelings hadn’t been so tangled up and incomprehensible… how much differently would things have played out in their lives?
What if he’d even, just once, actually voiced what he felt? Not just the ‘I care about her, a lot more than I should….’ What if he had taken things “out of the room”. What if he’d looked at her, right into those deep blue eyes, and told her that he loved her? That he did love her, and even if nothing could be done about it for quite a while, he would always love her.
He would always love her, which was why, more than anything else, he knew he didn’t hate her now. He could never hate her.
Besides, would he have done anything less if their roles had been reversed? That whole ‘if you love someone you set them free’ line was a load of crap. Could he have let Carter go? Hell, no. He’d had to let go of too many people in his life. If the tables were turned, he would have done everything - anything - to keep her alive. He wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice his own life in order to preserve hers.
He’d made that decision already, and if it came down to it again, the final decision would be the same. He still wouldn’t leave her. Not behind a force field, not anywhere. No matter what it would mean for their joint fate, he would stay with her. He would do anything to keep her and keep her close. Yes, anything included asking her to take another symbiote. The cost couldn’t be too high if it meant Carter – if it meant Sam – was okay.
So how could he ever place blame or resentment on her for doing just that with him?
A thin line between life and death? Maybe the thin line between the two was ascension. Maybe there was a reason why Daniel wanted to show him, teach him, how to ascend. But he was a man of action and the ways of the Almighty Oma would never work for him.
He could never just sit back and watch, observing things however they go. Never helping when you saw it was needed and knew perfectly well that you could. What if it were Daniel here, instead of him? He would have never been able to sit back and just talk to his friend – he would have to help him.
If he had the opportunity, and the means, that these Oma-ascended-types seemed to, he would wipe out the Goa’uld – every single last one of the little bastards – and then the whole problem would be solved.
Not that there wouldn’t be other problems out there, but the worst would be gone.
There is a thin line between love and hate.
Once again, hate was winning out.
Did he love Carter? Yes.
Would he always love Carter? Yes.
Was this all Carter’s fault? Yes, in more ways than one.
If it weren’t for Carter, he would have never agreed to accept the damn symbiote. If it weren’t for Carter, and the rest of the team, he probably still wouldn’t care if he lived or died – then or now. If it weren’t for Carter, his feelings for her, and the memories of his refusal to leave her behind, Kanan probably would have never gotten the idea for this ridiculous rescue plan in the first place.
So, it was all her fault. The whole teetering between life and death – and boy didn’t that just suck? The whole wavering of his feelings – love/hate - how could you tell the difference after a while? The line was really beginning to blur. The whole really, REALLY annoying Daniel-the-glowboy act, Ba’al, the torture, and everything; it could all be blamed on her.
He was a man of action, right? He had always prided himself as being a man of action. Yet, here in this situation any actions he took seemed to only make things worse. Just like in the situation with Carter – with Sam. Every action he took just seemed to have the regs or something come popping up, and it was like taking fifty steps back again.
The whole Xanax thing, leaving everything in the room, like *that* had really worked. After he’d shot her, after he’d *killed* her, to get rid of the entity that had taken over her body. Doubting her and not believing her right away with the whole Orlin incident. But through it all she had loved him; of that he was certain. She’d kept her distance and tried to be as professional as possible, but through it all he had known. He would always know….
His eyes began to flutter open as the workings of the sarcophagus began to lessen. The top opened up and the light began to give way to the dark and menacing area beyond that was Ba’al’s chambers. The guard, the same guard that was always there, reached forward and grabbed him by the shoulders once again.
“The host has survived, master.”
Jack rolled his eyes. This guy really needed to get a new line.
“Bring him here.”
Jack was placed against the gravity plate once more; another round of torture was beginning….
Jack’s eyes fluttered open. The dreariness of Ba’al’s ship was gone; the soft, calming colors of the SGC Infirmary in their place. They did little to keep the dreams at bay. He had been reliving his dreams again - reliving the dreams of a man that had died and had been reborn within the sarcophagus countless times.
They weren’t exactly fading yet, but they were getting easier to live with as his body began to cope with the withdrawal.
It would take time.
Doc had told him to start to move around a bit. He had ventured to the commissary the night before. This morning he had a different walk in mind, a walk down to the science labs. He sat up and quietly got dressed; those damned nurses always walked in before he was done. After his morning check up, he headed out for the slow walk to Carter’s lab.
He stood in her doorway, amazed that even this early she could be so caught up in the way something worked. He watched her as she bent over some piece of alien tech, soldering a lead wire from one her gizmos to a protruding bit of metal. She worked swiftly – no hesitation, no false starts or indecisiveness in her movements.
Was he truly a man of action?
Carter set aside the soldering wand and twisted another set of wires together, capping them neatly with a bright red bit of plastic.
Jack knocked softly on the door frame as he entered the lab and walked over to her work table.
“Hey, there, Carter. Whatcha doing?”
She looked up at him and smiled – that smile. “It’s good to see you up and about, sir.”
“Yeah, well, you know me, Carter, gotta get away from Doc and her needles.”
The smile turned into a knowing grin as he openly ribbed on her best friend. But the smile – that smile – had been there, and it had been everything he’d needed. There was no doubt in his mind now; he loved Carter.
He loved her, and he was very much alive. And that was all that mattered.
Sometimes you just had to walk the thin lines to realize that.