Convolutions Chapter 2. Taking Steps
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
Jack settled into his seat and stared out the window. The plane was only about half full and due to the late departure time most everyone would be sleeping, everyone except Jack.
He watched solemnly as the city lights disappeared and he felt the plane level off at cruising altitude. The attendant brought him a drink and he tossed it down then asked for another. She smiled and trotted away, returning a few moments later with his request.
Sam. What the hell was she thinking? Did she really expect him to play this stupid "follow the leader" game without a fight? What had she twisted up in that super brain of hers that could possibly rationalize their separation? She loved him. He knew that to be fact, had known it for years. Why was she suddenly ready to throw that away? His mind searched but found no answers, refusing to believe he was going to lose her over a command decision, he changed tactics.
Maybe it was him. Had he done something to make her doubt their relationship, his commitment? His mind played back her last visit. Everything had seemed great to him then, of course they hadn't really talked about work. They'd been so glad to be together that the subject just hadn't come up. Her happiness had been genuine, her smile warm and real. He would have known if she was hiding something, wouldn't he? They'd spent their days in bed, at the park, had taken in a movie and even had dinner with a mutual friend that was stationed temporarily in Washington. Nothing out of the ordinary and so he had assumed the argument was finally over - settled, history. He hadn't mentioned SG1 and neither had she.
Jack poured his second drink and swirled the liquid mindlessly around the glass. Experience told him that Sam had all the answers although she might not share them with him. She could be as closed off as he could and he didn't look forward to battling it out with her, but he would if it came to that. He wasn't going to just walk away - not this time. She was worth fighting for. But first, he'd try talking. He wasn't very good at that and words often failed him, but he'd try. Maybe he should just demand an answer. He deserved that much and it wasn't like Sam to be unfair. And leaving him now, without any explanation would be incredibly unfair.
He checked his ticket for arrival time and grimaced slightly as he realized there was a stop in Dallas to change planes. This wasn't an Airforce jet that would streak across the skies nonstop and reach the base in a few hours. It would be a long flight, but it would still get him home. Suddenly he was very tired. He should try to sleep.
He struggled in the small space, trying to stretch his legs, trying to find a comfortable position. Finally, he shifted his mind into combat mode, the one that allowed him to sleep anywhere, the one that allowed his physical machine to rejuvenate and his mind to rest even though part of him remained ready and alert. He laid his head back against the seat, ignoring the discomfort and concentrated on sleep. Suddenly the air around him stirred slightly and he grasped the hand on his shoulder almost before it touched him. The young attendant jumped, startled by his sudden movement. Jack looked up into surprised green eyes and smiled as he released her arm.
"That's all right, I'm sorry to startle you. The captain saw you come aboard, Sir and wondered if you would like to move into first class. There's plenty of room, General and you'll be more comfortable there."
Jack looked at his knees pressed against the seat back and started to stand. "That would be nice, thank you."
He settled in and a few minutes later fell into a dreamless sleep, exhausted from his work and the added stress of trying to solve a problem he didn't really understand.
It was 0500 before he reached the house. It was dark, almost foreboding as he stood outside staring at the darkened windows. A light snow drifted silently to earth around him and the brisk air felt refreshing against his face. He was tired. Even in first class, it had been a long flight and for the first time that he could remember he wasn't excited to be home. He wasn't even sure it was home anymore and although he didn't want to admit it, that scared him.
He stepped quietly onto the porch and slipped his key into the lock. A small sigh of relief escaped him as the key turned easily unlocking the door and dispelling the barely recognized fear that she might have changed the locks. At least she hadn't taken that step yet, hadn't barred him from her life completely.
He moved down the hallway and pushed gently against the bedroom door where Sam was sleeping. The house felt warm, comforting and he smiled as his eyes fell on her relaxed form. She was wearing a little pink strappy tank top and shorts, resting on her stomach with one leg peeking out from beneath the covers. Her arms were wrapped around the pillow, as she cradled it against her head, her face relaxed and her tousled hair falling randomly across her face.
She was tired, exhausted, otherwise he would never be able to sneak up on her like this. Oh, she slept soundly when she was home, a direct opposition to her sleep on missions, but still aware and waking at the slightest sound. He fought against the urge to brush the hair from her face and kiss her cheek, finally stepping silently into the bathroom.
He brushed his teeth and undressed, hanging his uniform haphazardly on the hooks on the door. She'd hate that, but it was the least of his worries, right now. He was tired and he needed her, his emotions were alternating between wanting to feel the comfort of her against him and dreading the rejection if she pushed him away. Those thoughts brought back the anger, the pain he'd experienced as he opened that damned envelope and he quickly forced it to the back of his mind, locking it away, if only temporarily. He was home. He'd fix it somehow, he'd do what he had to do to make it right again.
When he returned to the bedroom she had turned on her side and her bare leg was now dangling over the edge of the bed, her arms free of the pillow and relaxed at her sides. He stopped short, taken aback by her innocent beauty. There was no sign of the brave soldier he knew her to be. That persona had slipped away, hidden in sleep, replaced by the beautiful creature that he loved so completely. His heart swelled in his chest as he watched her sleeping peacefully, totally unaware of his presence. Slowly he moved to the bed and gently lifted her leg, placing it back onto the bed as she moved slightly against his touch. He paused and smiled when she didn't awaken.
With all the stealth he could manage, he slipped into bed beside her, careful not to touch her or rouse her from sleep, hoping to avoid any confrontation until morning. He stretched out on his back and relaxed into the pillow as the comfort of the familiar bed caressed his body, then he closed his eyes waiting for the shelter of sleep to engulf him.
He was drifting away when he felt her stirring beside him. He pulled his mind back to consciousness as she turned and snuggled into his naked chest. Her arm moved around his waist, tugging slightly as he lifted his arm to make room for her and she nuzzled her face against his neck.
"Jack?" She wasn't awake, but had sensed that he was there and in sleep sought the comfort of his embrace. He suddenly realized that his body had tensed up as she moved against him and shook his head slightly. How had they let this happen?
Pulling her against him slightly, he pressed a soft kiss on her forehead. "It's me, baby. Go back to sleep."
Her only response was to snuggle closer against him as he wrapped both arms comfortably around her and closed his eyes. She was in his arms. He was home. Everything else could wait until morning.
A few hours later a warning signal triggered his brain and he was immediately awake. He lay still as his trained senses went on silent alert, still pretending to be asleep as he searched for whatever had awakened him. Suddenly he realized that Sam's hand was moving across his chest, her touch slow and gentle. When it stopped, he covered it with his own, squeezing gently and a slight smile tugging at his lips.
"Jack, what are you doing here?"
He opened his eyes, pressed his lips against hers softly and then smiled warmly. "Morning. I live here, remember?" He held up his left hand and wiggled his fingers, indicating the ring that rested there.
"No, Jack, you live in Washington. I live here."
He stared quietly at her for a moment. She was still lying in the crook of his arm, her body pressed against his and her head tilted back so that she could look into his eyes. "That's only temporary, Sam. My home is wherever you are."
"I know you got the papers, Jack."
"Yeah. I got them." He looked down, away from her eyes, feeling pain and anger beginning to replace the thrill of waking up beside her.
He caught her eyes again before he spoke, making sure his voice was soft and free of the anger he felt.
"I think you owe me an explanation, Sam. What the hell is going on?"
She was still lying against him, watching him closely, and she hadn't tried to pull away. He was reading a lot into that simple inaction. Sam wouldn't hesitate to push him away if she didn't want him to touch her. He pulled her slightly closer and allowed his hand to stroke the soft skin of her arm as he waited.
"It's not that simple."
"It was simple enough that you served me with legal papers without even talking to me first. How complicated can it be?" A bit of frustration slipped into his voice and he saw something flash across her eyes, something he didn't quite recognize. "Sam?"
He felt her hand press firmly against his chest and with one quick movement she was standing beside the bed.
"I have to go to work, Jack. Let's not do this."
"I'm not leaving until I know what's going on." His voice was still soft but Sam recognized the determination coloring it and knew he meant what he was saying.
"I have to shower and get dressed." She turned and walked out of the room, leaving Jack alone and more confused than ever.
He heard the spray of water as the shower came to life and pushed up from the bed, slowly standing to his feet. The room that had felt so warm last night, now felt a bit chilly and he wondered if that was because he'd just left his warm bed or was it the distance he could sense growing between himself and Sam. Running his hand through his hair, he crossed the room and pulled on a pair of sweats and a tee shirt. He glanced at the bathroom door, then at the clock on the nightstand and started down the hall to the kitchen.
He moved efficiently about the kitchen, making coffee, toast and eggs. He was almost finished when she appeared in the doorway.
"Hey! Coffee's ready!"
She smiled slightly and moved to pour them both a cup, leaving his beside the pot as she moved to the table and sat down.
"Want some breakfast?"
"You shouldn't have come here, Jack. I told you I needed more time."
"And I told you I was coming soon."
"That was three weeks ago." Jack stopped in mid-stride at the accusatory tone of her voice.
"I know baby, I'm sorry. It's hard to get away."
"But now, suddenly, you're here."
Confusion filled his eyes. "Sam, I always want to be here. You know that, don't you?"
She looked down, wrapping both hands around the cup and pushing her chin forward. "I'm not sure I know anything anymore. I can't get to Washington, you can't get home and..."
"Everything just feels wrong, messed up..."
Jack sat the pan back on the stove and moved towards her but she was already standing up to move away.
"Sam?" She stopped and turned towards him. "We talked about this. We promised not to go to sleep or walk out hurt and angry."
"I'm sorry, I have to get to work, Jack."
He followed her to the door watching as she pulled her jacket on and reached for the door. He didn't want her to just walk out like this but he didn't really know how to stop her.
"Sam!" He almost yelled as his frustration overwhelmed him.
She turned towards him and was surprised at the pain reflected clearly in his dark eyes. She looked down and fiddled with the zipper of her jacket, knowing that she was hurting him and hating herself for it. Finally looking up again with a faint smile, she tried to lighten the situation.
"It's okay, Jack. I'm not hurt or mad."
Turning quickly, she reached for the door but he stopped her, his hand covering hers as she grasped it.
"Sam?" He paused, waiting for her to meet his eyes. He spoke slowly and distinctly, separating each word. "I am."
Their eyes locked for a long moment and he could see a deep sadness that he'd never seen before and then the beginning of tears as she looked away.
"I'm sorry, Jack, I have to go!"
She tugged the door open and went through it hurriedly. She didn't stop or look back, just climbed into her car and drove away.
Jack stood in the doorway staring after her and thinking that she was right, everything did feel wrong. Then he slammed the door forcefully and cursing softly, walked away.
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