This is getting to be a bad habit....Sleeping over at Jack's, I mean. Over the past few months I've spent at least one night out of each period of downtime here. Knowing that he's close by is kind of reassuring. I never plan to stay, but when it gets late and we're both tired, somehow it seems like the natural thing to do. Jack even has a joke about making sure my favourite T-shirt is clean. Tonight it was just us. We took a bottle of wine up to the roof and did a little stargazing. It's amazing how much he knows about Earth-based observing. We came down when we got cold and drank hot chocolate by the fire. It's been a nice evening.
After using the bathroom, I swathe myself in his T-shirt. It's too big but, who cares? I think I look kind of cute. Despite the fact it's clean, I can smell something of Jack in the soft material. I bury myself under the comforter and close my eyes. Only one thing is missing. Blame the alcohol, but I can't help wondering what it would be like if he were here too....apart from a little cramped that is. I use those warming thoughts to help me drift off to sleep.
Sleep....it's been so long since I have been able to easily find that release. While I was in the infirmary, Janet fed me drugs to help, but once I got home I stopped taking them. I don't know what I was more scared of; nightmares, or becoming too reliant on the pills. I should have known the nightmares were infinitely worse. I think it's something to do with Jolinar. His memories seem to be invading my own. There have been occasions, on missions, when I've known something I shouldn't have. A prime example; SG1 found some Goa'uld devices and I was able to use them...which has really freaked me out.
Some really bad things happened to Jolinar. Really, really, bad things. I can never tell exactly what happened or when....But sometimes it hurts so much that I would swear someone is torturing me....him...
They're not all bad. There are occasions when Jolinar's memories are downright erotic. I see people, people I've never met....There's one man in particular. He has the most amazing blue eyes and his smile.... His relationship with Jolinar must have been a very special one. When I see him I know that I'll be safe from the nightmares...even if it's just for one night.
Tonight...tonight I don't see him.
I awake in the dark, not knowing where I am.....Finding myself in strange surroundings I fling myself out of bed and tear the door open. The hallway is black...there's no light anywhere. I'm back in the darkness of my own mind, trapped as Jolinar speaks through my mouth, sees through my eyes. I stumble along, searching for a way out. Somehow I end up back in the living room. The last glowing embers of the fire cast a weak light....but it's all I need. With trembling fingers I find some wood and build up the fire again. I huddle as close as I possibly can, needing the warmth. By this time I'm shivering. Despite the flames I can't seem to get warm. In the end I go back to the spare room and drag the comforter to the fireplace.....and that's where Jack finds me the following morning, curled up on the hearth rug.
"Sam, are you OK?" he asks me.
"Yes...I just got cold," I lie.
He doesn't look convinced. I haven't told him about the dreams, scared that he'll think I'm nuts.
"You should have woken me up," he says.
"There wasn't really any need, besides I got to sleep right away when I got in front of the fire."
"You've been spending too many nights off world, if that's the only way you can get comfortable. Want some breakfast?"
"That'd be good...need some help?"
I scramble to my feet....and Jack's jaw drops. Ooops...I'd forgotten I was only wearing his T-shirt. I think he likes the general effect....or make that my legs. Whatever, he certainly stares at them long enough. The way he's looking at me is making me blush. I can feel the heat rising in my cheeks and the longer he stares, the worse it gets.
"Breakfast," I mutter, anything to get him moving.
"Right...yeah...breakfast. I'll go...get."
He trips on his way into the kitchen and I can't help smiling to myself. There's not really any point in getting dressed yet, so I crawl back under the quilt, pulling it round me so that only my head is showing. The fire is long dead and I wonder about lighting it again. Jack's house isn't particularly cold but there's something very comforting about real flames.
"Jack...OK if I light the fire again?" I call out to him.
"Knock yourself out," he shouts back.
I feel like a small child whose been given a box of matches as I set about burning some more wood. There's something very satisfying about setting fire to things. I throw some odd bits of paper on to the pile just for the satisfaction of seeing them burn. Maybe that's what's wrong with me...I'm a pyromaniac....Well, Dad always said I had destructive tendencies. Thinking of Dad I wonder how he's doing. I called him yesterday so I'd better not try again today. He just thinks I'm interfering if I phone or try to see him too often. It's not easy watching a parent die....I've lived through it once, and I'm not relishing the thought of going through it all again. I just wish I could have told him what I really do. That would have made him just a little bit proud of me. He said that he'll be around for a while yet...I just hope his words turn out to be true....or was he just trying to reassure his little girl?
I'm still huddled in my quilt when Jack comes back with coffee. He laughs at me, making some crack about promising not to stare at my legs again if I come out. I just stick my tongue out at him. Considering that he's wandering around in boxers and a scrappy T-shirt he shouldn't complain. Jack has a very nice body...even if he does tend to hide it under baggy clothes most of the time. He holds the coffee mug just out of my reach, trying to tempt me out.
"Jack!" I complain.
"If you're not going to come out, then I might just have to come in," he teases.
Knowing that he'll probably make good on that promise, I move enough of my upper body to capture the mug and disappear again.
"That doesn't count," he tells me.
Next thing I know he's managed to burrow his way in beside me...without spilling his coffee or mine. What can I say? This man has talent.
"Told you," he grins.
But I don't really care, in fact, as I lay my head on his shoulder, I realise that this is what has been missing from my life for a long, long time. Maybe it's the memories of the blue eyed man that has made me long to experience this kind of closeness again.
I don't know who turns first, but the next thing I feel is his lips as they softly press against mine. He must have put his coffee down, because he removes the mug from my hands, freeing them to slide around his shoulders and pull him closer. I feel safe with Jack. Safe enough, that I let him push me backwards.
Afterwards we lie dozing together. Our body's basking in the warmth of the fire and the afterglow of good sex....make that fantastic sex, unbelievable sex.
Every so often Jack shifts his position, finding a new way to hold me close. This man....has totally surprised me. I've never felt so loved.....so wanted.
I think we would have stayed there all day....if a sharp knock at the door hadn't interrupted our happy daze.
"Jack, you there?" Kowalski's voice shouts from outside.
"Crap," Jack swears, scrambling to his feet and then into his clothes.
I wrap the quilt around myself and make a dash for the bathroom. It's not that I'm ashamed of what just happened....I just don't want it spread around the base just yet.....especially by Charlie 'mouth the size of the Jersey Tunnel' Kowalski. Luckily, my car isn't in the driveway and neither myself or Jack told the others we were seeing each other last night.
"Sorry, Charlie, the fishing trip's off," Jack says as he opens the front door.
Kowalski must have seen something in Jack's face because the next thing I hear is,
"You got laid last night!"
"What?....What are you talking about Kowalski?"
"I know that look.....Jesus Jack what the hell were you thinking? You've got a good thing going with Major Carter. Don't screw it up by sleeping with some woman you picked up in a bar. Sam's the best thing that ever happened to you....smart, beautiful, sexy as hell...."
"I'm well aware of Sam's attributes."
"Then why the hell are you screwing around?"
This is actually funny, but I can't let poor Jack stand there and take all this abuse. There's a robe hanging on the back of the bathroom door, so I put it on and walk into the hallway. Charlie's eyes nearly stand out.
"Satisfied?" Jack grins.
"Major....nice....nice to see you," Charlie stammers.
I match Jack's smile with one of my own as I take his hand and start leading him away. I don't even have to say anything.
"Close the door on the way out," Jack shouts over his shoulder as I pull him into the bathroom. I think a nice, long shower will be just what the doctor ordered.
"This must be what it feels like to be schizophrenic."
"What is schizophrenic?"
I glance up at the man who is sitting beside me, not realising that I've spoken my thoughts out loud. He's looking at me, obviously confused by my statement. Taking a deep breath, I attempt to explain,
"It's a mental illness humans have. It's like a...split personality. Two people in one brain. I mean there's me, Samantha Carter and then there's this leftover part of Jolinar that feels things like...."
"Like?" he questions.
"Like some pretty deep feelings for you."
He smiles at me, pleased by my revelation.
"Jolinar's left this imprint on your mind?"
"I'm sorry if it makes you uncomfortable."
"No it's just...What you had...you and Jolinar... You were in love longer than I've been alive....Hell longer than I will be alive!"
"She left this feeling with you? You can feel how she felt for me?"
"Yes.....And it's confusing the hell out of me."
"Why?" His question is a simple one, but I pause before I answer it. How can I explain to him that I also have some pretty deep feelings for someone else? A man who's several hundred light years from here...who has a cute grin and hair that just won't lie straight. Could I be more confused? I don't know if I love Jack...not yet. It's too soon for that. Part of me wants to say those words, but the rest of me holds back.
"Because it's not just in my mind like a memory. I feel it, like I've had this relationship with you for a hundred years. I don't know if I can describe it with words. What Jolinar felt for you I...I don't even think I'm capable of comprehending," I answer.
How can I? The longest relationship I had lasted two years....and ended in a broken engagement. Jack and I have only been...what's the word?...Lovers, I guess....for a couple of weeks. Considering the fact we started out as bitter enemies we're taking things slowly. Could I stay with him forever? It's far too early to say.
"Maybe there's another was you can communicate it. Perhaps in a way...other than words."
He reaches out towards me....and my fingers tangle with his. It's hard to believe how far you can get with just a dream. I'm sitting in a desert, on a hill overlooking a Stargate and a man named Martouf is holding my hand.
The second I saw him, I knew who he was. I'd been seeing his face for months in those damn dreams. Martouf...Jolinar's lover. I look into his eyes and my mind is awash with emotions, I know they're not mine, but I can't stop myself responding to them. At this point Jolinar would have kissed him....but I can't do that....I have Jack to think of.
My gaze is torn from Martouf's by the sound of Ferretti's voice. I pull my hand free and scramble to my feet. Suddenly, I feel incredibly guilty.
"Yes?" I answer, regaining a measure of my composure.
"The council wants to see us. I think they've reached a decision."
Ferretti is looking at me as if he doesn't like what he's just witnessed. In my heart I can't blame him. From his perspective, he's just seen his best friend's girl with another man. He doesn't say anything to my face....Ferretti is too well trained for that. God I hope this doesn't get back to Jack.
We meet with the council...for all the good it does. They want a host and none of us are willing to be blended. Imagine what it would be like with me, Jolinar...and another Tok'ra in my brain.....I think it would explode. The situation isn't helped by the appearance of another SG team. But I can't help the fact that my stomach does a little flip when I see Jack.
They've come to take me home....my father is dying. The Tok'ra won't let us go. I don't know what that does to me. I shrink away from all my friends and cram myself into the smallest corner I can find. Dad is dying. Even Jack leaves me alone. He watches me from across the room, ready to come to my side and draw me into his arms...if I want him to.
I don't want my Dad to die. I want him to live...and I know that's what he wants too.
"Jack, did anyone tell you how far along my father is?" I ask, the germ of an idea percolating through my brain.
"No, I was only told to get you back as soon as possible," he replies.
"He doesn't even know why I'm not there for him. He thinks I'm off working on some damn satellite dish."
For a second my emotions threaten to overflow, Jack takes a protective step towards me, but I can't accept the comfort he offers....not while we're on duty. I guess in situations like this, he is the ranking officer.
"We're gonna get you back there, Sam," he reassures me. "The good news is, there's eight of us now..."
"That's Good news ?" Daniel interrupts.
"Yes, more manpower."
"Is this another one of your strange jokes, O'Neill?" Teal'c asks.
"It would be impossible. There is only one way out, via the rings. We would then have to elude hundreds of Tok'ra. "
"I, for one don't want to hurt any of them," I object.
Why does Jack always pick the military option? Sometimes he is nothing more than a product of his training.
"Look, I'm not too thrilled about hurting anyone either. But keep in mind these people wanna make you a host! And as I recall you said that whole Jolinar-Goa'uld in the head deal was one of the worst things that ever happened to you!"
He's trying to be understanding, but all he's managing to do is frustrate me even further. I disclosed that fact to him during a very intimate conversation, I didn't expect him to bring it up in front of everyone.
"That was before I understood it better. If I wasn't fighting her....and I knew what it meant for Jolinar to be a Tok'ra, It might have been...I don't know...enlightening."
For some reason I'm thinking of Martouf again. How can I do that when the man I profess to care for is standing right in front of me? Something in the conversation I had with Jolinar's lover has touched me deeply. I like the idea of a love that can last for all time.
"I need to see Garshaw!" I announce, sending the nearest Tok'ra guard to fetch her.
"What?" Daniel questions.
"What is the one thing they need the most?"
"Well, hosts...which we can't give them."
Garshaw appears with the minimal of waiting. She must have been close by hoping one of us would change their mind. Martouf comes with her and I can't help myself responding to his presence...I feel myself blush at some of the memories his presence precipitates. I really hope Jack doesn't notice how much this man has got me off balance.
"What is it?" Garshaw demands.
"You said that a symbiote can cure most problems in a human?" I ask.
"Does that include Cancer?"
In the corner of my vision I see Jack turn towards us. He knows what's on my mind. Martouf and Garshaw share a puzzled look.
"What is cancer?" Martouf asks.
"It's a disease in humans where the cells grow out of control. You get tumours," I explain, thinking that perhaps they know it by another name.
"Oh, yes, it's a common ailment amongst your species. We cure it all the time. It's of no problem," Garshaw says.
I take a deep breath and turn back to Jack,
"I think we should at least try to offer it to my dad."
He nods. After all, we have nothing to lose and it might just get us out of here....It might just save my dad's life. Jack doesn't even try to argue with me...and I appreciate that.
"We might have a host for you," Jack says.
"You nave a host for Selmak?" Garshaw replies.
"Yes, my father. He's got cancer and if Selmak can save his life, I think he'd be willing to try it, " I explain.
"But you have to let us go back ," Jack adds.
"I will let two of you go, but the rest will remain to ensure that you return," Garshaw decides.
Which is better than nothing. Now all we have to do is persuade General Hammond.
The first time Dad's eyes glowed, it was the weirdest experience of my life. I had to fight down the feelings of fear and revulsion. I know we made the right call, even so, this is going to take a certain amount of getting used to. Martouf and Garshaw can't stay long. The rest of the Tok'ra are in danger and they need to leave as soon as possible. Dad will go with them...I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. It's bad enough we've spent most of our lives in different parts of the globe...never mind completely different planets.
They want to put the co-ordinates into the gate computer themselves...for security purposes....I can understand that, but I can see that Jack is none too impressed by their lack of trust. That annoys me for some reason. Must be something to do with Jolinar. General Hammond sends me with Martouf to dial up the gate. The Tok'ra places a hand on the small of my back, indicating that I should precede him. I can almost feel the hostility emanating from Jack. Surely he's not going to lose it over a simple gesture?
Martouf is impressed by the set up we have developed...and by the fact that I did so much work on the system. I admit I'm flattered by the attention. Not very many people here seem to appreciate how much effort went into getting the Stargate operational. Everyone thinks Daniel Jackson came in here one day and got it to work. All he did was identify that seventh symbol....which I'm sure we would have done given time.
"Samantha," Martouf stops me as we return to the Gateroom.
"Yes?" I ask.
He looks into my eyes, "I hope we will see each other again."
"I hope so too."
I can't help smiling at him. Learning more about Jolinar is appealing and there's a great deal I want to find out about these people. Martouf takes my hand, and again I feel the thrill of familiarity. I guess the Tok'ra must be used to their lovers changing bodies.
"You are very beautiful," he tells me.
That's the second time he's said that. What does this man want from me? Before I have time to speak, to breathe, his lips make contact with mine. Some other part of my mind takes over and I find myself responding. He's touching me in a way no one else can...not even Jack....Jack...Oh my God! I forgot all about Jack. I tear myself away from Martouf, but it's too late. There's someone watching us....Someone who'd come up from the Gateroom, just to see what had been keeping us so long.
"Jack...Jack it's not what you think," I say.
"Yes it is," he returns.
"Samantha?" Martouf questions.
He doesn't understand. How could he? I never mentioned a word about Jack.
"If you're about ready to go....," Jack makes it clear that he wants Martouf out of here.
OK, maybe it'll be OK.....He hasn't freaked out on me. Maybe Jack knows that it was a mistake. It wasn't me kissing Martouf...not exactly, not remotely....
We see the Tok'ra safely away....I say goodbye to Dad and still Jack hasn't said anything. He's making me nervous. I expected some kind of reaction. Or maybe he's just waiting until we're alone. I really, really hope I haven't screwed this up.
He leaves the Gateroom without even looking at me.
"Jack.....Jack...!" I call after him.
"Don't!" he snaps.
"At least let me explain."
"Ferretti said you and Marty looked pretty friendly. I didn't believe him until I saw the two of you playing tonsil hockey back there."
Damn Ferretti...I'll kill him...I swear.
"He was Jolinar's lover," I explain.
"So you thought you'd just grab a taste of it. More research, Major?"
"It wasn't like that."
"So what was it like? Enjoy it, did you?"
"Decided to go for a little comparison, did we? Was he better than me? Or do you want to go back...just to make sure?"
"Will you just listen!"
"There is nothing you can possibly say to me...."
He's walking away. I shout after him, but he doesn't even turn his head.
What have I done?
What have I done?