Understandings and Misunderstandings Part 8: Dynamic Tension
Since they had first made love when Sam stayed at Jack's, they had been pretty tight. They had both missed that special intimacy born from living in the same house day to day, although they never said that to each other. Their relationship was risky, they had to be careful. It was a little like having an affair outside of a marriage; sneaking around unable to do much in public, and not able to stay the night with each other whenever they wanted to.
Of course, after they reached their original agreement all those many months ago, before Jack's auto accident, they had been seeing each other a lot, but as close friends. Because they were now intimate, they felt less able to be as open as they had at that time, and they had hardly been that open then. It was frustrating to them, but necessary.
Occasionally they would go out, not normally in Colorado Springs as it was too close to home. They would slink around Denver, have dinner, maybe go to the opera, or even the movies. They would hit the trail and run off for the odd weekend. They enjoyed rafting at the Colorado River headwaters near Granby, and went over that way to the Hot Water Springs and the Grand Lake. There was some stunning scenery around that area. They went to Mount Evans and Echo Lake, even the Trail of the Ancients, which was much further to go. They thought it amusing to visit somewhere relating to ancients, even if they were not the same ones that they came across in their work; although Jack had quipped about bringing Daniel, who would almost be bound to find a link. A totally different type of beautiful landscape awaited them there.
Jack and Sam both loved that they had someone to share such activities with. They were both willing to be adventurous and it suited them fine. Mostly, though, they stayed at home, ate an intimate dinner together, maybe watched TV, rented a movie, played chess. or listened to music.
It never ceased to amaze him that they could spend so much time together but she didn't seem to tire of him. He loved that they could sit in companionable silences, not feeling the need to force words to fill them. Most everything seemed so right with her, including the sex, which had just got better and better with practice. They practised a lot. They must have made love almost everywhere in his house at least twice over by now
Perhaps they would stay overnight together, perhaps not. They didn't always have sex, it wasn't the beginning or end of their relationship, but sometimes most of their time with each other was totally taken up with it. Often, they would have a quickie, then settle down to watch TV. At times they would sit apart, hardly touching, remote and distant.
It was far from a perfect existence, however it might sound. The having to sneak around business irked them. They could not do what they wanted, when they wanted. They lived with fear that people would find out about them; that their careers, and SG-1, would be screwed forever.
They could fight like cat and dog, often volatile over petty things. Neither of them was used to compromising in a relationship; both totally out of practice. Even Jack, having lived with the same woman for 10 years, was used to being on his own and wholly independent. They tried avoiding fights about work, but that was impossible too. If they disagreed about something, the fact that Sam had to obey the Colonel did not stop her giving Jack a mouthful when they saw each other outside of the SGC.
So, it could be pretty on the edge sometimes, what relationship isn't? Making up always felt good, though. They loved that part. So far, they had managed to do that fairly quickly and live with it. They both dreaded the first argument that continued on; where they might start bearing grudges. They knew that had to happen; it always did.
Those days spent together during Jack's recovery had changed things forever. It wasn't just the sex, although they both enjoyed every minute of that side of the relationship, but they were so emotionally enmeshed that it could be difficult to extricate themselves from it. Jack had bared his soul to Sam in a way he had never done before with anyone. This bound them together as effectively as inseparable Siamese twins.
Jack was never again as open with her as he had been then. Getting him to talk about personal things was an uphill struggle that Sam often found frustrating. Sam was not exactly an open book herself, but she did remind Jack that he should try to avoid the mistakes of his past and talk to her a little. He knew all too well where he had gone wrong with Sara but was not a naturally talkative guy.
Nevertheless, over the months, they had very infrequent confessional conversations. They would sit in a huddle together, as physically close as they could get. Jack would appear to open himself to her, although he never truly spoke of what was in his heart, or of what was hidden in those murky depths of his soul. Sam was not fooled by his apparent openness. Despite her desire and longing for it, knowing Jack as she did, she realised that she was living in dream land if she ever thought he would tell her his darkest secrets. That wouldn't be Jack. Besides, she could be pretty close mouthed herself, so was hardly in a position to pass judgement on him for it.
Jack played it safe by talking about thoughts and feelings he'd had concerning a couple of the horrific things that had happened over the years they had known each other, and Sam would join in with her own thoughts. So, she tried to reciprocate his efforts a little, as hard as it was for her, as well. She could be just as bad at this stuff as he was, but he deserved to receive as well as to give. He had more than earned that right.
She was familiar with his feelings. Many times she had seen him hurt, dying, missing, stranded or otherwise in harm's way; seemingly hopeless situations and circumstances. So frequently she had suffered at the thought of his loss and that she would never see or hear him again: his smile, laughter, wit, confidant swagger, honor, integrity, bravery, foolhardiness; obstinacy - the very essence of him.
So their conversations might go thus. He might start by talking about his devastation that his duty made him kill her when she was possessed by the alien entity; his almost total despair when Janet prompted him about her living will - no extraordinary means. Sam might hold him close and coo comfortingly, caressing him softly as she did so, maybe nuzzling his neck and squeezing him gently. Sam might speak of how frightening it was to be trapped and for no one to hear you, or even know you are there. Jack might return her comfort, his gentle touch soothing all thoughts of the horror away.
Jack talked about his fear when he thought she would die horribly at the hands of Nirrti; that he would see her disappear, dissolving into a puddle of water before his very eyes. Sam too, had been afraid, needing the comfort of his presence, his shoulder to lean on, the only hope she could hang onto.
They discussed the time she had been taken as a host by Jolinar. Jack had been horrified, thinking there was no way out, nothing he could do; hating his helplessness. Sam tried to tell him how it had felt, with great difficulty, and how, even now, although she could see the advantages that a true blending might bring, she hated the loss of control. She wondered how her father could stand it sometimes. Her fears for her father's cancer, and death, had prompted her actions, but she had concerns for him as a Tok'ra; both the dangerous work that he often did, and that he was blended with a symbiote. She worried about the role she had played in bringing it about. Sometimes the whole thing scared the hell out of her. To Jack, of course, the very idea of a snake made his blood run cold; he saw no advantages whatsoever to having a symbiote, quite the reverse.
This reminded her of her culpability in his own ill-fated blending, and subsequent capture by Ba'al. It was she who had persuaded him to be blended with Kanan; how could she not do so? She would certainly have lost him forever if she hadn't, and she had been unable to face that. Jack did not confess anything to her about what had happened to him there. She knew what she had read in his report, but he had ensured it was as anodyne as he could get away with. He did not want to speak of it; it still pained him too much to think about his despair, and the agony he had gone through. He got her off this subject as quickly as he could.
It reminded her, too, of her own horror that he had been forced to become a host, by Hathor, thinking she had lost him forever; that she would die at his hand knowing the Jack inside would have to live with that. It was another subject that Jack refused to get drawn into; his total terror, despite that he hid it carefully behind the O'Neill façade.
She spoke of her mother's death and the way that her father's relationship with both of his children had fallen apart as a result; her joy at their reconciliation.
Although he was curious, she never spoke about her relationship with Jonas Hanson. Jack had prodded gently, but without any luck. He wondered sometimes what it was that she was afraid to speak of, but refused to push it. He had all the time in the world, and he was willing to give her as much of it as possible. Sam was as entitled to her secrets as he was, and he still had many.
He rarely even mentioned his work in special ops, the little snippets he allowed to pass his lips revealed very little. Similarly, his background and family. He was cagey about these subjects. She never tried to push him beyond where he was willing to take her. If she probed gently and found any reluctance on his part, she dropped it. Maybe one day he'd be able to tell her more. She could wait.
The other thing that they never spoke of in all this time was their love for one and other. Neither of them ever spoke the words.
At work it was difficult. To date, they had managed to keep the two things separate. They adhered to the strict rules laid down between them once he had been cleared fit to return to the SGC. It was light duties at first, which helped them ease into it before they had to go on missions together.
Daniel and Teal'c both knew about their relationship, of course; given prior events it was hard of them not to. Daniel would cover for them sometimes. Teal'c, on the other hand, although happy for his friends, was fundamentally uncomfortable with the situation. It went against his honor, just as it did both Jack and Sam's. He told Jack that he would not be duplicitous and lie to GeneralHammond, and both Jack and Sam respected that, never asking anything of him that might compromise his integrity. Except, he promised he would say nothing to anyone about their relationship; that part, Teal'c found easy.
They didn't think anyone else suspected, or no more than the usual base gossip and speculation. The team seemed to be functioning pretty much as normal.
6 months later:
Something was different. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it but… something. The atmosphere? The dynamics? He’d figure it out eventually. Jacob tried to concentrate on fixing the engine. Sam was at his side helping, with Jack watching, fiddling with something in his hands in typical O’Neill fashion.
The mission had gone fine; they’d kicked Goa’uld ass. Except now they had to rely on this rust bucket to get them home, or at least to a planet with a Stargate. It was a heap of junk. Jacob sighed. Getting no younger, not unlike me and Selmak, he thought. Although, in truth, he hadn't felt so young for years.
Jack contemplated what to do about Jacob. Should they tell him? 'Hey Jake, old buddy, old pal. I’m in love with your daughter. I know its in breach of the regs, and puts her career at risk, but we can’t stop ourselves from copulating like rabbits.'
He smiled inwardly at that thought. Got that right! Get a grip Jack. You can’t afford to be thinking about that stuff while you’re on a mission. It could get embarrassing. He wondered if, perhaps, he should start taking bromide with his fruit loops or something.
Besides, he and Sam had discussed this strictly business while on duty thing. It was difficult. In the past they had always managed to push it out of the way. Then again, that was before; things were different now. Most of the time he could do it. In some respects it wasn’t that different to before. He’d always had these lapses even when she was just a fantasy to him. It's just that, back then, they hadn’t been seeing each other on a regular basis outside of work, or sleeping with each other either.
No doubt about it, life was good right now. This whole thing with Sam had changed his existence fundamentally. He was happier than he had been for such a long time. Except for the guilt about the Regs thing, that he was acting without honor. He tried hard to suppress that, but it nagged at him.
He tried to bring his mind back to the subject at hand. Don’t think about Sam. Don’t think about Sam. A mantra. All but impossible when she was standing there right in front of him. And looking good too; looking great in fact. But she always looked great to him. Even when she had arrived on his doorstep eyes all red and puffy from crying; probably more so then than ever, because it had returned hope to him. He was eternally grateful to her for swallowing her pride like that. He knew that it must have been hard for her, as it had been for him.
Crap! What was wrong with him today? He couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t seem to let it alone. Sure he was bored. He could do nothing to help fix the ship, hated it when he was useless. Where was he…? Oh yeah, Jacob. He sighed heavily making the Carters turn as one and glare at him.
"Can you do your heavy sighing elsewhere, Jack?" Jacob said sarcastically.
"Sam and I are trying to concentrate here."
Maybe he should join Daniel and Teal’c up front instead, Jack thought, but didn’t move. Goddammit… Jacob!
He didn’t think Jacob would be thrilled at the idea of him and Sam together, even if it weren’t in breach of the Regs. Why would he? Who would want Jack O’Neill as a potential son-in-law? That’s how he saw himself now. He knew with eye-opening clarity that he wanted to marry Sam one day, if she’d have him. He really wanted that. She didn’t know. He’d never asked her, never mentioned such a commitment; couldn’t even contemplate broaching it right now. He wanted to, but he wasn’t free to do it. Marry her he would, though, if he had anything to say about it. She’d have to be a crazy woman, but she already had to be that to have gone this far with him.
The bottom line was, he could end up with a snake head as his father-in-law. He cringed inwardly at how Sam would react if he called Jacob a snake head to her face. Any Tok'ra but Jacob could be hard on his stomach. He liked Jacob, respected the hell out of him; he was about the only damned Tok’ra that was worth a dime. That he was a General in the USAF might have helped a bit. But it also made a bad situation worse; the should we or shouldn’t we tell him situation?
The idea of telling Jacob filled him with a sick dread. He’d probably bawl him out good and proper; curse him for seducing his daughter; say he should know better; tell him he wasn’t good enough for his little girl. He’d be right. Jack knew that. No matter how happy it made him, he knew that what they were doing was wrong, and dishonorable. He hated that he felt that; that such a wonderful thing in his life should be sullied because of it.
An image of Jacob punching him on the nose, blood pouring everywhere, sprang to his mind. If he hit back, Sam would probably never forgive him so he would have to steel himself, keep himself under control. He wasn’t a turn the other cheek kind of a guy, but he could probably do it for her. He hoped he could do it for her.
Was he imagining it or did Jacob keep looking at him oddly? He was probably getting paranoid. Jacob always looked at him oddly. He often wondered what Jacob thought of him. He thought he respected him, liked him. Jack hated that this might not last once Jacob knew. Not just because of his relationship with Sam, but it could affect the team, the SGC, the human / Tok’ra alliance, fragile as it was.
"OK, we’re done. Lets get moving." Jacob left, followed by Sam. Jack wanted so much for her to stay here with him for a while, so he could speak to her, touch her. But it was the wrong thing to do, and she’d only get annoyed. They didn’t do that on missions: Rule 1; always Colonel, Sir, Major, Carter: Rule 2. They had to stay in that habit, it was too risky to do otherwise.
When he re-joined the team and Jacob up front, Jack was quiet and thoughtful, continuing to ruminate about the relationship, and Jacob. He and Sam had talked about telling Jacob. Sam kind of wanted to. She wanted Jack to spend Christmas with her and the Carter family. If he was going to do that, Jacob would have to know.
Sure, she was apprehensive, couldn’t predict his reaction. She thought, in the end, that Jacob would be happy that she was happy. It was fine for her but Jack didn't agree, and he knew that it wasn’t her that Jacob would take it out on, or be pissed with. He would be to blame, and quite rightly. He was her commanding officer, for crying out loud!
The idea that she should spend Christmas with her family while Jack stayed at home appalled her. She didn't believe he should be alone at that time of year. Besides, she knew she would miss him; wanted them to be together for the holiday. This would be the first Christmas since their relationship had changed. It was important. Jack, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure about either telling Jacob, or about Christmas.
The holiday always reminded him of Charlie, always would. He didn’t want to get depressed about that and spoil it for Sam. Besides, he was concerned that things might get a bit obvious if they spent Christmas together. Sam didn't see why they couldn't get away with it; they were team mates weren't they? Friends?
Jack was pleased when the old rust bucket finally got them home and he could make his escape from both Carters; he might be able to relax a little instead of feeling on edge, as he had been for the whole mission.
Once they’d returned, Jacob said he had a few days to spare. He was staying with Sam. She and Jack agreed that neither would say anything to him about their relationship until they’d had another chance to discuss it; as if they hadn’t run that topic into the ground already. Jack was prevaricating, distinctly uneasy about the whole thing.
When he answered his door he was surprised and caught totally flat footed by the fact that Jacob was standing there. Oh crap! So much for avoiding the Carters; here was Jacob, standing at his door, large as life. It might just be a social call, right? As if Jacob ever just dropped by to see him at home. Oh, sure Jack… good thinking! But she can’t have said anything, right?
"Got a beer Jack?"
Yeah, have a beer; let’s at least pretend it’s a social call. Jack dutifully went to get a beer, taking longer than he needed to so he could calm himself down. They sat in his living room in silence for a while, then Jacob spoke.
"So, what’s going on between you and my daughter Jack? And don’t bullshit me by saying you don’t know what the hell I’m talking about. One of the things that Selmak has blessed me with is a good set of eyes"
Jack tried to stay composed, quiet. "Don’t you think you ought to be talking to her?"
"No. Because I’m talking to you! And, before you ask, no she doesn’t know I’m here."
When Jack didn’t say anything, Jacob persisted. "So what is it, Jack? Can’t keep your hands to yourself anymore?" His tone was belligerent. It reminded him of how Sam could be sometimes. Go figure!
Jack spluttered his reply. "Nothing like that! Don't… It's not like that. It's not…"
"So, what exactly is it like? Do you think that you're in love with her?" God, Jack thought, of course I'm in love with her, but I haven’t even told her yet; never in words. He resigned himself to the inevitable.
"I am in love with her, Jacob. Very much. It’s not just about sex, if that’s what you’re asking. Do you really think I would risk it all for that? She’s…she’s important to me. Too important for that. I don't want you to think…"
Jacob interrupted. "So, something is going on then?" Jack was shocked. Jacob had been fishing? He'd guessed? How in the hell had he…? Oh God! It must be more obvious than he thought.
"Jack. What the hell are you playing at? You’re her CO. You should know better. If George knew…"
"Do you think I don’t know that? Jacob…I…I don’t know what to say to you. I haven’t got a defence. So just bawl me out, beat the crap out of me, do whatever you have to do. Get it over with for crying out loud."
"Have you any conceivable idea of just how wrong it is?" Jacob was angry, but in control; maybe Selmak's influence.
"Yeah, of course I know how wrong it is. Every day I have to live with that knowledge and guilt! And every day I count my blessings that I have her in my life. That she has chosen to be with me. That's pretty special to me Jacob. Pretty special..." He became more subdued as he continued. "Don’t tell me you’ve never guessed…any of this…was possible. That you never thought this could happen. You've never been blind or stupid Jacob."
Jack was right. Jacob had observed way back that there was something, a certain spark between them. He had never believed that anything would come of it.
"Do you think for one minute that I ever thought either of you would do anything about it? I thought I knew you both better than that. I'm disappointed in her, in you. Jesus Jack! You're the CO here. Do you know how this looks? Not only are you playing with my daughter's heart, but with her career. I can't just let you do that. I'm not gonna let you break either of 'em"
"What makes you so sure that’s gonna happen? I would never do anything to hurt Sam. Never."
"That’s not how it looks from where I'm sitting. If anyone finds out about this, you're both screwed. Well, I would rather you were screwed than her."
"And what if it wasn't for the regs, Jacob? What makes you think that this isn't the right thing?"
"How can you two ever be right for each other?"
Jack flinched, he had thought that so frequently himself, and that it would catch up with him one day.
"You're much older than her Jack; too old."
That hurt. It was too close to the truth for comfort. At heart, Jack agreed; when he was eighty, she'd still be in her sixties and relatively young. The same heart also told him that he could never part with her now unless it was what she wanted. If it ever happened it would break his heart in two. Age was not a boundary to his feelings; or hers.
"Do you think I've never taken the opportunity to look at your file Jack?" Jacob continued. "Do you think I want my daughter involved with someone like that? I've always liked you Jack, you know that. A good CO, or at least I thought so. A great leader for SG-1, sure. But for my daughter? She's getting herself involved with another member of the lunatic fringe. If you ever hurt her like that Hanson bastard did I will personally hand you over to Ba'al or some other nasty Goa'uld who wants to keep tearing you apart and putting you back together again." Jacob glowered at Jack, threateningly.
Jack was rocked to the foundations that Jacob seemed to be taking it this badly. Despite his misgivings about Jacob's possible reaction, they had always got along. Sure, they'd had their differences, who didn't? But he had thought Jacob liked him, that he would be pissed and then accept it. Now he wasn't so sure. His reply was subdued.
"I don't know anything about that. She's never talked about it."
"Yeah? Well maybe you should ask her to. You might learn a thing or two. I take it that the great Jack O'Neill can still be open to learning a thing or two?" Wincing again, Jack tried to maintain control. "Maybe you should wonder why she's never told you. Not as tight as you thought, huh?"
Was he trying to drive a wedge between them? No way would Jack allow that to happen. It really stung, that Jacob thought of him like that. Jacob knew nothing of his relationship with Sam. It was worse than he thought. God, what was he gonna do? What could he say? Sam was gonna be so pissed.
"What would you have me do Jacob?"
"You should stop seeing her, go to George and hand in your resignation, that’s what you should do. Have you no damned honor? I've a good mind to tell George myself."
Jack felt mean and nasty now. It offended him that Jacob referred to his honor, as if he didn't already know he was acting dishonorably. In a loud and aggressive tone he responded.
"Yeah but you won't will you Jacob? It would hurt your own daughter, your own little 'princess' that you're trying so hard to protect. You won't be the one to pull the rug out from under her career. I can't believe you think me so damned awful that it would be worth that." He spat his words distastefully.
Jacob was silent at that, scowling at Jack because he knew was he right. Then he responded in an even nastier tone than Jack's own.
"If you were half the man I thought you were Jack, you'd have done it already. I will never forgive you for this. Never!"
Jack recoiled at that. Jacob didn't pull any punches. Remembering the fateful night that had started all this, he considered how alike father and daughter could be.
It was then he heard the key in the door. No one else would enter his house with a key unless they thought he was in trouble. She'd probably called by because she thought Jacob was otherwise engaged. Well, he was. Boy was she gonna love this.
Her voice, calling for him. He noticed Jacob's look of abject terror; he'd been found out. He was probably hoping to persuade Jack to his viewpoint and get him to do all the dirty work that would result. Then she need never know that her father was involved. Son of a bitch, wasn't that just like a Tok'ra? Devious. It pleased Jack somewhat that Jacob was so discomforted. He shouldn't think like that, but he did. So sue me! he thought.
Sam came into the room. When she saw her dad she got that deer caught in the headlights look on her face that he loved so much. One among the many facial expressions he adored.
"Dad?" She could tell from the looks on both of their faces that they'd been arguing. There was only one thing this could be about, only one thing her father could be here for. It didn't look like things were going well. "What are you doing here?"
"What do you think I'm doing here Sam?"
"You don't approve." It was a statement, not a question. She was unflustered.
"Damned straight I don't approve! What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Something that I have really wanted to do for a very long time." Jack smiled inwardly at that. "I'm sorry you don't like it dad but it's my choice, my life, not yours." Their expressions as she'd walked in gave her some idea of what he might have said today. Poor Jack; so she moved towards him, taking his arm protectively.
"Sam, aside from anything to do with the regs, do you really know what you're letting yourself in for here? How much of his past has he told you?" Jack went cold. Surely Jacob wasn't going to tell her. Oh God! Maybe Jacob could tear them apart after all.
"Make no mistake dad, I know a lot more about him than is written in any file. I have worked with this man for a very long time. You've worked with him too, you should know better. There is nothing from his past that will drive me away from him." Although it warmed Jack to hear her say that, he wasn't so confident. Jacob could see her stubborn determination in the set of her jaw.
"So you're making a choice, huh?"
"If you're asking me to choose between you and him, then don't. You may not like the choice I make." She clung harder to Jack and he responded by taking her hand and caressing her knuckles.
"What if I go and tell Hammond?"
"You do whatever you have to, dad. I still think I've made the right choice, whatever the consequences. You have no idea what it's like, and no idea what its been like. No matter what you might think, Jack's a good and honorable man." To Jack this was like a balm salving his soul. He squeezed her hand gratefully.
"Ok. So be it." And with that, Jacob strode out of the door.
Jack pulled Sam towards him, hugging her tightly. He had never wanted something like this to happen. More painful than what Jacob had said to him was that Sam was hurt over this. She and her father had got so much closer since he had become a Tok'ra. He hated that this would spoil that for her. Nevertheless, he wasn't going to give her up to it. No siree, not if he could help it he wasn't. He wondered at the long term result of what had just happened.
"I'm sorry Sam." He whispered to her. "I'm so sorry." He could feel her shaking in his arms and he kissed her hair. She drew away from him.
"Jack, I ought to go after him and see if I can retrieve anything from this mess." She moved towards the door, then running back, took Jack's face in her hands and kissed him squarely on the lips. As she pulled away from him, she said quietly, "I love you Jack. See you later?" He merely nodded, stunned, and she was gone.
She'd just said she loved him. Loved him? He'd hoped, had even kind of guessed, that she might. She had spoken the words! It was remarkable what a mixture of pain and comfort this day had brought to him.
Should he go after Sam? Make sure she was alright? No, she probably wouldn't thank him for interfering. She might need to say some things to her father that his presence would inhibit. Best to let her get on with it. If she needed consoling, or to talk later, he would be there for her. Always.
Sam was angry. How dare her father interfere. How dare he pass judgement. However, she knew that if she let her father go now, without them speaking, then they might never speak again, She had to do something to stop that, though not if it meant giving up Jack. She wasn't prepared to do that for anything, not anymore.
She hadn't expected it. She knew her father liked Jack. She also thought he respected him. Why was he so against it? She understood that he might be pissed with them over the regs issue. It was something that both she and Jack hated too. There had to be more to it. She wished she could have been a fly on the wall during their argument. Her father had obviously hurt Jack by what he'd said, she could see it in Jack's eyes, his stance, everything. How dare her father hurt Jack like that! He probably thought that, as her father, he had a right. Well he’s wrong, she thought, no one has the right to hurt Jack, not even her dad.
As she drew up outside her house, her father was coming out, a small bag slung across his shoulder. She leapt quickly from the car.
"Dad! Please don't go like this." It echoed a previous encounter from what seemed like a lifetime ago.
"I'm not sure there's anything left to say, Sam."
"Yes there is. I'm not going to let you force me to make that choice. Please don't let our family fall apart again. Please dad!" She pleaded.
That made him stop short. Inside of him, Selmak was whispering 'she's right, … and you know it old fool.' Jacob recalled the long years that he and Mark hadn't spoken and the mission that had finally prompted him to seek reconciliation; the man who's son had disappeared into a cult and who bitterly regretted their estrangement. Selmak had been nagging him then, telling him he had unfinished business he should clear up. She had been right, and was now; if he left now, this thing with his daughter might become irreversible. He was a stubborn old fool sometimes. He nodded almost imperceptibly at Sam and she gestured him to follow her into the house. It wasn't a good idea to have this sort of discussion right out here on the street.
Jacob started on the wrong foot by saying that Jack was too old for her. Sam laughed.
"Crap! You think that's important? Look, dad, I know there's a big age gap. I'm sure there will be consequences, for us, for our children…" She saw the shocked expression on his face when she alluded to her and Jack having children. "You didn't believe it was that serious, huh? It is for me, dad. For him too, I think. If only you understood better how we got to this point; how this relationship started…"
She never got the opportunity to tell him any of that. They talked, and they argued; she scolded, and pleaded; he bullied, and begged.
Although Jacob very much wanted to tell her the things he had learned about Jack from his file, he held back from that. He knew that he would never have really said anything earlier either. It would not be proper for him to use that information in a personal capacity like that. It was classified. He had called in a lot of favours to get access to that file. If he told her simply to try driving them apart, he would be just as dishonorable as Jack. Even if he were able to tell her, he was not sure that Sam would either let him, or listen.
When she realised that her father thought that Jack might hurt her like Jonas had, she had to tell him how wrong he was.
"He's nothing like him. I won't let you think it. He would never do anything to hurt me."
When Jacob repeated the argument he had for Jack, that he was already hurting her, she said.
"You think he's without honor? You know full well that he's just about the most honorable man you've ever met. How could you? He has put his life on the line for you, for the Tok'ra and for this planet so many times. Everyone, everything but him comes first, you know that."
"That’s not true anymore. He's put this thing with you above your career Sam."
"No he hasn't done that, I have." She bit back at him. "Do you have so little regard for me that you think I don't know my own mind? You think he seduced me in some way? That he persuaded me into it against my will, against my better judgement? If you would only open your eyes to what he's really like, remind yourself of what you've already seen of him, you would never believe that. He's always chosen the honorable way to do everything. Even when I haven't agreed with him, I've known that…." She wanted to continue to tell him that Jack knew that what they did wasn't honorable, and he hated that; explain why they did it anyway. Jacob interrupted, viciously.
"Tell that to a Court Martial! I don't think they accept those kinds of excuses."
So instead she just said. "Well no one knows, they aren't going to and you're not going to tell them. Are you?" He shook his head at that because he wasn't. "I thought that you'd be happy that I finally had someone to love and who loves me. How could I have been so wrong?"
"Sam, I want you to be happy, of course I do. I want you to have love in your life and share it with someone special, like I did with your mother. But Jack? I've always liked him, you know that, but he's a dangerous and deadly man Sam - hard bitten and cynical. He’s become cold hearted. Jack’s been through too much, and seen too much, of the bad things in life. Do you think I want that for my little girl?"
"Cold hearted? That's a cruel thing to say, Dad, although there may be some truth in it. This isn't a case of worshipping at the altar of O'Neill. Believe me, he has many faults. I know that better than anyone. He might have some cold in his heart, but he is far from cold hearted. He's not how you think of him. He can be gentle and loving, and so much more than that. I love him. It's that simple. I'm happier than I have been for a long time. Can't you accept that? Be happy for me?"
"Sam, you could never be happy while you are breaking those regulations. You know that at heart." She bowed her head, acknowledging the truth of that, then looked her father in the eyes.
"You don't think Jack feels like that too?"
Jacob took his daughter in his arms, holding her tightly, and she thought she had won. Then he pulled away from her, holding her at arms length.
"I'd do almost anything for you, Sam, you know that, don't you? But I don't want to see him, Sam. I don't want to have to work with him." She was shocked by his reaction, his vehemence.
"And you think General Hammond won't wonder why?" He had to admit she had a point. So they talked it over and over; Sam trying to persuade him that Jack was a good man, that he should still respect him; Jacob as stubborn in his view as ever.
In the end all they could do was compromise. He would never see her socially with Jack. He would avoid working with them where possible, but if he had to, he'd get the job done and just ignore Jack. It upset her to think that it was so. She was incredulous that he had reacted this badly.
She wondered whether she should cut him out altogether. She didn't want Jack to think it was a betrayal. It was the sort of thing he might think. If it had just been a personal thing she might have, but there were bigger things at stake, not least of which was the rest of her family. It had taken a long time for the Carters to become a family once more. She had to do everything in her power to stop the rot before history repeated itself again.
Sam persuaded Jacob to stay the night, but said she would go to Jack and see him in the morning. Before she left she managed to elicit a promise. He said that he would think about everything, about her and Jack. She knew he liked Jack at heart. If he hadn't just overreacted maybe things would have been alright. She hoped that some time to reflect might change his mind, soften him a little; some time and a little nagging from the snake, as Jack would so thoughtfully put it. Selmak could whisper in her father's ear, she in Jack's.
Her father was stubborn. Left to their own devices Jack and he were as bad as each other and would glare at each other when they met, emanating resentment and general nastiness. In that way they were too alike. She pondered the idea that women were attracted to men like their fathers. It had never before occurred to her and she wondered if her dad, subconsciously, saw it and didn't like the idea of himself as a son-in-law. Was Jack really like her dad? It gave her some food for thought.
She mourned that their relationship had taken this turn, that the closeness that had developed between them since the blending was now gone. If he couldn't accept Jack in her life then she would minimise contact as much as possible. She guessed that it was now out of the question to spend Christmas with Mark and his family; unless her father didn't come. That saddened her deeply, although she thought Jack might be secretly pleased. He would probably never say it but she knew he dreaded the idea of the family Christmas. He was only contemplating it for her sake.
That was the sort of thing her dad didn't understand about Jack. How could he compare him with Jonas? Jonas would never have done that. They wouldn't have gone to the family gathering if he didn't want to. He was controlling; he'd do it just to spite her, to confirm the power he had over her.
Jack wasn't like that. She had feared he might be, but he wasn't. He was sharing, giving, loving. Sure, he could be a bastard sometimes. He could still be distant, cold, withdrawn, ill-tempered, wilful, and stubborn. And they were just his good traits. She laughed at that idea, thinking she might save it up to say it to him at some appropriate moment.
So what that he was a complicated guy with many facets to his character? Wasn't that the human condition? Was she supposed to live in a glass bubble or something? Now that she thought back, her father had never approved of her boyfriends.
After it was over she made her way back to Jack's. It didn’t take much to persuade him to make love to her. That's what she needed and wanted right then. No talk. Just that and to be held in his arms. Jack didn't mind that she refused to talk about it. He could relate to that in a big way. If she wanted to she would. If she did, when she did, he'd listen and do whatever he had to do to help her.
Later, they lay exhausted each others arms and he caressed her cheek, looking deeply into her eyes.
"I love you Sam." He whispered it, softly, tenderly. It was a simple statement and it made her smile.
"You know?" He cocked an eyebrow. She nodded and kissed his nose gently.
"I like that you've said it though, Jack. You can say it as often as you like."
He smiled and said it again.