Learning to Live With It Part 5
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).
Title: Learning to Live With It Part 5
Author: Su Freund
Category: Angst, Drama, Action/Adventure
Content Level: Age 13+
Content Warnings: Minor use of mild language
Pairings: Jack & Sam
Spoilers: General S9 spoilers
Summary: An intruder awakes Jack in his bedroom
Sequel/Series Info: Sequel to Learning to Live With It Part 4
Copyright (c) 2006 Su Freund
Art Credit: A lovely book cover using a cap of Sam illustrates this fic on my site and was created by Fulinn28. Many thanks to her for that. If you want to see it, go here: https://www.ficwithfins.com/AA3_1/archive/2/learningto5.html
Author's Note: As ever, thanks to Bonnie for beta reading this fic and making her as always useful suggestions and comments.
Learning to Live With It Part 5
He woke struggling to free himself, the hand of a mystery intruder over his mouth to keep him quiet. The intruder spoke.
"General. It's me!"
"Carter?" he mumbled into her hand.
She was alive? His heart leapt with joy, relief and many other emotions that made it beat erratically, and nervous butterflies fly around his stomach. Automatically, he pulled her into a tight hug, wanting so badly to kiss her, tell her how he felt, but she would not want that.
It was still sir this and General that. Would nothing ever change, despite what had happened, albeit briefly, between them? It made him cringe and he let go, turning to switch on the light so he could see her.
He had called her Carter, not Sam. Now he came to think of it, it was always thus. They never had found a way to break down those walls they'd built so carefully. The room they'd shut it all in had probably been locked for too long.
Recalling they had rarely called each other Sam or Jack, even when dating, it made him realise that this was probably one of the things that had torn them asunder. The revelation surprised him and he wondered why it had never occurred to him before.
He'd been so happy that she agreed to date him that maybe he blinded himself to how they never truly relaxed in each other's company. Looking back it was starkly apparent. Was this one of the reasons she had called it off? There had to be more to it than that. He wasn't good enough for her, it was as simple as that and always been.
She was probably bored rigid after the first time he ran out of quips to keep her amused. Sam was way brainier than he was. What had he been thinking? How could he have imagined he would keep her happy and interested in a dumb old has-been like him?
"Dammit, Sam," he determinedly used that name, promising himself he would try to keep it up, "I thought you were dead. I was there. I saw it. Your car... it... Christ!"
Despite his internal promise not to show his feelings they slipped out. He was desperately trying to fight the tears that welled up in his eyes. What an old fool he was, but she was alive! His joy, however, quickly turned to anger. That was an emotion Jack found he could handle way more easily.
"What are you playing at?" he pushed her away furiously, "Why the hell didn't you let anyone know? We've all been mourning for you! How could you hurt your friends and family like that? How could you not let us know?"
"Don't be angry, please. I'm lucky it wasn't me in the car. It was pretty unlucky for Pam Mathers. She was the friend I persuaded to come meet you to tell you where I was hiding out. Poor Pam. She died because of me. They thought it was me, Jack. I could have been dead, should be dead! Instead I have lost another friend. What an awful... a terrible waste!"
She started to cry then, all the pent up tension, trauma and sorrow rushing out to overwhelm her.
"C'mere," he said simply and pulled her back into his embrace, rocking her consolingly. He had always been good at that and Sam found it comforting.
"You need to tell me all about it Sam, but only when you're ready, okay?" he continued, his voice low and soothing, "It's okay, everything will be alright. I promise."
"You don't know what you're promising."
"It doesn't matter, I'm promising it anyway."
"You'll help me?"
"Of course I'll help you. I'll make it better, Sam. Anything. You know that. That's why you came isn't it?"
"Yes, that's why I came. And this. It feels good for you to hold me in your arms Jack." She felt him stiffen, the rocking stopped and he was motionless. "Please don't stop. I need you, Jack."
He held back a bitter and sarcastic retort. This wasn't the right time. Instead he was silent, starting to rock her again until her tears subsided. Once she pulled herself together she gently and reluctantly prized herself away.
"Can I have some coffee?" she sniffed, and Jack handed her a box of tissues.
"Yeahsureyabetchya. I'll get up... umm..." Remembering he was naked under the sheets he added, "see you in the kitchen, I need to get dressed."
While pulling his jeans on, Jack remembered their strange and short-lived experiment as a couple. He'd never even seen her naked, never made love to her. Jeez, he'd probably only kissed her about half a dozen times. Those walls again. Had that helped to tear them apart, his inability to communicate either verbally or physically with her like a normal adult? Maybe he wasn't a normal adult; maybe he never had been.
The thought was ironic given that he had just communicated volumes to her in the last 10 minutes. He'd given away far too much of his feelings and the dread he had felt as he waited in the parking lot was back with him.
Sam started to make coffee, thinking about how he'd held her in his arms. Almost as soon as he'd spoken to and touched her she realised he was still in love with her. Knowing how she had broken his heart, and how unforgiving he could be, she said nothing, merely accepting his relieved hug and returning it. She didn't believe he would ever forgive her for what she had done. It was probably pointless to explain, to confess she still loved him, had always loved him.
Maybe if she lived through all of this, if they could come through it together, maybe then... All she had needed was time. Would he ever understand that? Could she make him understand? What had seemed the right time for them had been totally wrong for her. Now they'd had this distance of months between them could things be any different? Could they knock down those self-imposed walls, get past having been CO and subordinate for so many years? She'd probably never know now, and Sam deeply regretted that. But what's done...
She recalled those bygone days with sorrow, having had no choice but to do what she had done. If she hadn't stopped it then, they would have fallen apart anyway. She hadn't been able to deal with it so soon after her father's death or her break up with Pete, or as close to Jack having been her immediate superior for so many years.
The adjustment had been too hard and wasn't working, despite her desire for it. If they hadn't broken up with so much rancour, if he had given her a chance to explain, maybe things could have been different now, when she was ready for it. However, she knew she'd been incapable of explaining to him back then and now that she was ready he probably would never listen.
She loathed herself for having let something slip through her fingers that she wanted so badly. The last few months had been lonely and introspective and her self absorption had made her see so many things she had been unable to see before. She got to know a lot more about what made the human being that was Samantha Carter, and for this she was grateful, but she had paid the highest price; she had lost him.
"You look tired, Sam," he commented as he entered the kitchen, "correction; exhausted. Maybe coffee isn't such a good idea and you should get some sleep. We can talk in the morning."
"I don't think even coffee would keep me awake if my head hit a pillow right now. I am exhausted. I could do with the company."
Jack could see a plea in her eyes and was unable to resist her lure, drawn to her as he was like a moth to a flame. He walked over and sat down, letting her finish making the coffee and accepting a mug. He said nothing, waiting for her to speak.
"I'm sorry I didn't contact you earlier. I didn't know... I had a problem getting here from Nevada; that's why I didn't come to meet you in the parking lot; that's why I lost a friend and I'm still alive. She came to tell you I couldn't make it, to tell you where I was. I only found out what happened when I got into the Springs. I saw the newspaper. Have you seen Daniel and Teal'c? Are they okay?"
"No. None of us are. You should have called."
"Jack, I didn't know to call. I didn't know anything. Might be best if I stay dead for a while. I don't know who to trust."
"But you trust me?"
"Of course I trust you."
He was dying to ask Sam what had happened to spark these tumultuous events, but refrained, believing that she should talk to him in her own time, giving her whatever space she might feel she needed.
"How have you been Jack?" she asked.
"Great, just great. You? Apart from the obvious?"
"Great too. Yeah, fine."
A long pregnant pause followed during which they both contemplated the lies they had just spoken. It wasn't often they had lied to each other, mainly by omission, so they both felt the guilt of the lies but neither knew the other was lying, although Sam guessed. Jack's feelings for her had tumbled out, but purely by accident. She knew he would not thank her for referring to them.
"Washington okay?" Sam continued.
"Washington's... well, its Washington, you know."
She smiled at him. In the past, Jack had made his feelings about Washington very clear. One side of his mouth turned up in response; a half smile.
"I know you've never been a fan of the place," she added.
"No, but I do what I have to. I get by."
"You never sold this place though, did you? Hoped you might come back?"
"There's no coming back, Sam, but sometimes it's too hard to say goodbye." His words held more than one meaning for both of them.
"Yeah, you spent a lot of good years here."
"Both good and bad."
"Your house breaking skills are still up to scratch I see. Nice to know there's always an alternative profession waiting for you," he joked, trying to appear light-hearted while, in reality, the weight of his feelings, of the chaotic thoughts running through his head, weighed heavily upon him.
"Sorry about that. Simply knocking on the door in the middle of the night seemed like it might draw attention."
"You figure a burglar draws less attention than a visitor?"
"When most folks are asleep, yes." She smiled, but he noticed it didn't reach her eyes.
"Have you eaten anything?" he asked, peering at her more closely. She seemed to have paled and turned slightly ashen.
"Not much, no."
"No, Jack. I think you're right; I need sleep. Now I'm here I feel safe. Maybe I can sleep."
Sam considered the truth of what she had said. Only now, with Jack, did she feel safe and able to relax. She loved that about him. She was home! The irony struck her with force; given how tense and awkward she'd felt in his company during that brief period when they were dating.
"Okay. Spare room, now." Once she got up he noticed how unsteady on her feet she was. "Car-Sam! Here, let me help you."
He put an arm around her, supporting much of her weight as she leaned against him, and took her to the bedroom, lowering her onto the bed and laying her down upon it.
"Sorry about the coffee, Jack," she mumbled, "sorry about everything."
He took off her shoes and covered her over, fully clothed, and when he looked at her face again, he realised she was already asleep. Sucking his bottom lip absently he pulled the armchair over towards the bed, sitting in it and watching her. She looked so peaceful, so beautiful. Leaning over, he briefly kissed her forehead, gently stroking her hair for a while.
Why did he have to torture himself like this? Although he knew what it was doing to him, he sat back down in the chair, taking her hand and resting it on his lap. Then he fell asleep too.
Sam woke a couple of hours later, shocked to realise that another hand held hers. Opening an eye she saw Jack and her horror turned to pleasure, but she knew she couldn't leave him to sleep like that. His back would be screwed. She got up, crouching in front of him.
"Jack," she said softly, stroking his face with her fingers, "Jack, wake up, you need to get to bed."
"Sam!" he started, "it wasn't a dream."
"No it wasn't a dream. Bed, Jack."
Sleepily, he got up, obeying her encouragement to lie on the bed. She lay down next to him and pulled the cover over them both.
"Sam, I don't think..."
"Shh, my darling, just sleep."
"My darling...?" he muttered, not wanting to wake up from this dream.
"Hush, I'm here. Sleep, Jack."
Lulled by her voice, he snuggled up closer, allowing her arms to enfold him, and returning the embrace. The pair were asleep again within a matter of minutes, the shared warmth and affection giving them both some peace.
Additional author's note: Now that you know she really is alive I can reveal that the plot bunny for this story was inspired by the MacGyver Season 1 episode "Flame's End". Apart from the means of "death" in an exploding car, and subsequent "resurrection" from the dead, however, this fic bears no other similarity to that storyline.
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