It's a beautiful day.
That's what Sam said when we came through the gate, and she was right, it is. The sun slants warmly over the hills and dapples the bracken covered ground where it weaves through the young leaves of a late spring afternoon.
"So I take it you're a white wedding girl huh?"
"I suppose I can do that"
"What, wear your dress uniform for our wedding day? You're damn right you can do that!"
"And you're gonna wear a big puffy white dress?" He teases, stroking her sunlit face with a blade of fat young grass.
"Hehe...no...a nice slim white dress, maybe with little straps" She giggles, pushing his tickling hand away half-heartedly.
"That sounds nice"
"You're just thinking it's easier for you to take off"
"Yeah you got that right"
Jack reaches out and taps Sam on the nose, and she blinks and smiles, shifting slightly where she lies among the bracken and young flowers. Jack is wedged beside her, one arm resting across her, his hand inside the flap of her jacket.
"So...uh...where will we go for our honeymoon?" She asks, her eyes finding his again.
"Honeymoon? Who says you're getting a honeymoon?"
"Watch it you....don't...don't make me laugh"
She closes her eyes with a snort, and he leans in closer, gently tracing her cheek with a curled finger.
"Okay then, where will we go? Maui? Then you can wear that little bikini you said you bought for last summer and never wore. Oh and hey, we better call Dad, he'll be paying for this whole shebang. That's a point Sam, how much does your average Tok'ra make?"
She laughs again, and he with her, then she reaches out a hand for his face, and cups his cheek. His laughter stops abruptly, and he leans in close, and her fingers curl into his hair, her eyes wandering away from his face for a brief moment to follow her fingers as they work through his hair, then back to his cheek, the thumb tracing over the cheekbone. His eyes never leave hers, and finally draw hers back to his gaze, the blue irises shadowed by heavy, tired lids. Her eyes fall away from his for a second, and he moves close and tilts her chin up, forcing their eyes to meet.
"It's okay baby, it's okay"
She nods, her eyes closing, then they open again and she looks up into his face, his fingers tracing down his jaw, her eyes open and trusting as she smiles.
"I love you" She whispers, and he smiles, and cups her cheek with his free hand, sweeping his fingertips across the pale skin as he leans in.
"I love you too" He replies, softly, his warm breath ruffling her hair. She smiles. He pulls her tightly against him, but his arms still cradle her gently, and she closes her eyes as she presses her nose against his hair. They stay that way for a few moments, just holding, feeling, then she shifts a little in his arms and he reluctantly lets her go, settling her ever so carefully back into the foliage. She frowns and coughs a little, a small groan escaping her lips.
"Yeah...a little" She says, smiling softly as she lets him takes her weight, curling her fingers in his jacket.
"Go to sleep" He says, his voice choking slightly as he leans over to kiss her eyelids, and she does as she is told, and relaxes into her arms. He pulls her against him, and gently presses his cheek to hers as he holds her carefully, as though she were a china doll. Her fingers fall from his face and he turns towards her as he feels the loss of her touch, and holds her against his chest, rocking her slowly. They sit this way for a minute or two, then I decide it's time I joined them.
I make my way through the undergrowth as quietly as I can, with Teal'c behind me, and as we approach Jack doesn't look up, doesn't even register our presence, he simply holds her and rocks her, as tears course down his cheeks, dropping off to land on her pale skin. I lay a hand on his shoulder but he shrugs me off and clutches her tighter, burying his red eyes in her dirty hair. I step back a few paces, and hearing the sound of his soft sobs I feel my own throat catch, my eyes stinging with as yet unshed tears. His clutching fingers release her hair, and he draws back and looks at her face, her beautiful face, before leaning in and pressing his trembling lips against hers. I have to turn away. I can't watch this. Bad enough to listen to them plan the rest of their lives together, but to watch their first kiss like this...
When I look back he has drawn away from her, kneeling up, and he slowly withdraws his other hand from under the flap of her jacket, and I watch as he stares at his shaking hand, a hand that's gloved in blood, her blood. He moves the hand finally, and wipes it slowly down his pants, and Teal'c and I edge forward as one, the grass rustling gently as the amber sunlight picks up the liquid red that covers the ground.
I want to say there's nothing we could have done, but I know the words will mean nothing to Jack, or Teal'c or even me. But still I say them to myself, over and over, but I was right, they make no difference, Sam is still dead. Three scouting Jaffa surprised us while we were exploring, and the shots of one of them tore through Sam before we even knew what was happening. We managed to defeat them, but it was already too late. Jack picked her up in her arms and started a desperate sprint for the gate, but it was over three miles away, and we had no hope of reaching it in time, her injuries were too severe. She was still amazingly conscious, and eventually her begging voice convinced Jack to stop. So he laid her down, and she told him she'd rather die there, in the beautiful gentle wood, than die on the run to the gate. Jack argued with her for a while, but when he looked inside her jacket he paled and quickly agreed. I didn't look, and neither did Teal'c, but he stilled our arguments to try and get her back with a single weighted stare.
I look back at Jack and he's zipping up her jacket and readying her for the long walk home. His face is pale and tears still fall, but he goes about his work as a man possessed. Teal'c takes a step forward but Jack's head snaps up, and Teal'c wisely retreats. Jack removes his own jacket and wraps Sam in it, before carefully lifting her body into his arms, and he walks slowly past us back to the path.
I walk towards the gate, following the footsteps we made on our way out here, watching Jack as he carries her limp weight, watching him struggle with every step, but knowing he'd refuse my help. The orange sunlight is slanting across the thinning wood, and birds call as the day comes to a close, flowers closing their delicate petals as the chill of night comes in. The light picks out highlights in Sam's dirty hair, and glints off the blood that drips relentlessly from her fingertips. I look down at the blood I walk on, seeing it dry into the fertile soil, and some far away piece of my brain tells me it'll be part of next years flowers, absorbed into that great cycle.
The day draws slowly to a close as the gate looms ahead, and though I walk on the blood of my friend, and tears course silently down my cheeks almost to the point of blinding me, I can't help but think it's a beautiful day.
It's a beautiful day.
She said it was.
*************************************** THE END ***************************************