Story Notes: The Whole Affair 6: Spoilers: POV. Dedication: To Heather, who gets Showtime

And for shipper, who frightened my Muse into obedience.


"Every night I dream you're next to me, tenderly,
you say my name, you stay close enough to keep me
here, then disappear, when we're face to face."
~ Sheryl Crow, "In Need",


Sam crosses her arms tightly against her chest, as though that will prevent some of the cold December air from seeping beneath her clothing. Walking beside her as we exit the NORAD base that camouflages the SGC, I'm tempted to put my arm over her shoulders, or at least lend her my coat, but no... married woman, O'Neill. Married.

"What time is it?" she asks softly. I check my watch.


She sighs. "Guess we missed the plane, huh?"

Idly, I wonder if Rick had perhaps left without her. "Sorry."

She looks up at me, eyebrows raised in surprise. "It wasn't your fault. In fact, if you hadn't helped me out back there we might have had to decontaminate the entire base, not just the lab."

"Help?" I repeat dumbly. I won't even try and pretend I understood what the entire calamity was about... I did a lot of running around, alerting people I was told to alert, turning things off, yadda yadda yadda. Was that considered helping? "Um, you're welcome."

Sam smiles her beautiful smile. She knows I have no idea what she's talking about.

We walk a while longer. Finally, I can't contain myself any longer. "Is Rick going to come pick you up?"

She stops and turns to face me. "Actually, I just called him... he had an emergency of his own... something about one of his patients." She shrugs. "He couldn't tell me much."

That's something the two newlyweds share, at least. Rick has to deal with doctor-patient confidentiality... Sam has to work with classified data and the like. Obviously, "Honey, how was work?" won't be a common phrase at the Pike household. Hell, I was in the military while being married to Sara. I know that.

And - I'm a bad boy - I can't help but think that if it were me instead of Richard Pike, that wouldn't be a problem. We could discuss interplanetary missions and technology and alien races over dinner. But it's not me, is it?

Sam doesn't answer my question, instead shivering and letting her gaze drift heavenward. "It's so clear out," she murmurs, and I have to agree. Although Colorado is famous for its crystal nights, the great astral carpet hanging over our heads seems particularly sharp tonight, like a photograph dangling just out of reach. Orion seems to wave at me. "That's Mars, isn't it?"

I'm surprised by her mistake. "Jupiter, actually." I grip her wrist and move her pointing finger to the left, at another glowing point in the sky. "And that's Saturn."

She looks embarrassed. "Right... Mars is during the... spring?"

"Summer," I correct her, feeling a grin tug at my lips. "You don't do much planet-watching? I'm surprised."

"I'm a astrophysicist," she reminds me tersely, cheeks still a healthy pink. "Not an astronomer. And it's theoretical. AND we don't deal much with planets," she jerks a thumb over her shoulder. "We study the stars."

Her adamancy actually conjures up a laugh. "Okay, okay... you're forgiven."

"Even in school, I spent most of my time working things out on paper. I didn't have easy access to instruments."

Inspiration strikes like a bolt of lightening, and at first I try to shake the idea off. Even after all these months, I'm still in 'make-her-notice-me' mode, where every little thing I do is aimed at wining her favor. This latest brainstorm is no exception. But still... "Do you want to use mine?"

"Your instruments?" she repeats, and the glimmer in her eye isn't a reflection of the lights surrounding the base. I'm more than a little taken aback by the flagrant innuendo... usually when we spar like that it's in the comforting company of others, often directly in front of General Hammond himself. I think it's something subconscious... we know that nothing too electric will pass before our CO, so we feel more secure in our flirting... though I shudder to think how old George interrupts it all.

"In a manner of speaking," I reply nervously. "You could call Rick and he could pick you up at my place."

Despite her light tone, she seems to be wavering, and I hurry to sweeten the deal. "You can see Saturn's rings," I promise. "You can call Rick from my phone... AND I have store-bought cheesecake."

She's impressed. "Cheesecake? Sounds like a deal."


In spite of her apparent enthusiasm for cheesecake, Sam and I don't even go inside and put down our things before climbing up the side of the house to the roof, where my telescope patiently awaits. It's silhouetted against the night sky, its lone eye pointed at the heavens like an ogling Cyclops. Once upon a time I told a certain Bert Samuels that there, up there, is where all the action is. And I was right.

"Rick thought he'd be here before ten-thirty," Sam reminds me. She'd talked to her husband on the drive here, using my cell; apparently, his crisis had also been averted.

"That should be plenty of time," I said shortly, gesturing for her to take the only chair. I kneel beside her, angling the telescope so we can both look through it without moving it around too much. I'm acutely aware of her face close to mine, and force my attention to the magnified night sky through the lens. "You see Orion?" I ask, fiddling with the focus.

She turns in her seat a bit. "Yeah."

"Okay, above him, that's the constellation Taurus... the bull. You can mostly make out his horns... and his eye. The really bright one."

"I see it."

"It's called Aldebaran... a huge, old, orange giant. Then you've got the Pleiades, and Sirius. Mars actually is out tonight, but it's pretty hard to see, and Uranus... it's up to the right, I think. Oh, and next May remind me to show you Serpens... the snake, and Ophiuchus, the serpent-holder. Now THAT," I mutter, "Is a guy I'd like to meet."

I pause in changing the lens when I notice she's staring at me. "What?"

"It's all an act, isn't it?" She looks amazed, and absolutely pleased with herself.


"The whole dumber-than-a-rock thing. Having to have everything spelled out for you. It's an act."

I fidget. "Actually, um, no, it's not. I just... know more certain things than I do about others."

"I thought you spent your time up here watching the neighbors?"

"Don't tell anyone."

"Yeah, I know... hate to ruin your image."

I return my eye to the lens and focus some more. Jupiter is brighter but I enticed her with Saturn's rings and look for the second-largest planet first. I catch a glimpse as I pan and readjust the scope. "A... ha... here it is." It moves quickly across the sky, a combination of its own orbital movement and Earth's spin. "Quick..."

I move my head out of the way and let Sam peer through. She squints for a second and then her lips curve into a smile. "Wow..."

I know exactly what she means. It doesn't matter how many pictures you've seen of the planets. It doesn't even matter how many other planets you've been on. When you see those other worlds in all-but-real-time, it suddenly hits you that they're actually out there, spinning, dancing with one another in a sort of celestial ballet. And Saturn is particularly gorgeous, her colors and rings like something out of a dream. You can't comprehend how big the planets are, but when you realize that you can make out those rings with nothing more than a couple of pieces of glass in front of your eye... "Wow" indeed.

With a full-fledged grin, she pulls away, and looks at me. "It's gone."

I start to offer to find it for her again... and then something in her face changes. Her eyes leave my own and travel down my face... is it my imagination or is she staring at my mouth?

I never considered stargazing to be an... aphrodisiac... but suddenly I'm overcome with that familiar urge... to pull her close, kiss her... The vapor puffing from our mouths, evidence of the coldness of the night, mingles, as though entreating us to embrace. 'Come on in, the water's fine'.

So I forget, for just a moment, that she's a married woman. That, in fact, she took her vows only hours ago, and that I made some vows of my own. 'Do you promise to be her friend, nothing more, and never have these feelings about her, as long as you both shall live?' 'I do'.

Well, it seems as though we're both breaking some vows.

I'm doing most of the leaning but she's not backing off. And when my lips brush tentatively - oh-so-tentatively - against hers... she relaxes. And then we're kissing.

My mind reels... you think it's a cliché, but only until you have a kiss like this. All the stakes are raised, which only makes the payoff bigger: not only are we thumbing our noses at one hundred and one military regs, but we're breaking through moral and religious walls, as well. Although according to some men it isn't considered adultery until...

'You'll never have another chance like this', a voice reminds me, and it's my own voice, the calm, analytical side of me, the one still cataloging constellations. Gemini, Crater, Crux, Draco, Hydrus... The little voice is right, even if it is a nerd, and so I soften my mouth, pulling a bit at hers, trying to coax it open. She tenses, and guilt trips my desire flat on my face. What am I doing? I pull away, noting with some satisfaction that she appears surprised. "I want you to know," I whisper - it's the only sound I can make - "That I'm not... trying to take advantage of the situation."

Sam appears amused, to say the least. "Jack O'Neill, we're on a rooftop and it's 40 degrees out. As far as I'm considered, you CAN'T take advantage of this situation."

And then, surprise of all surprises, she puts her hand behind my neck, yanks me closer, and kisses me, probably like I've never been kissed before. Open-mouthed, hard and hot. In fact, suddenly my mouth is the only part of me that isn't cold.

Okay... maybe not the ONLY part.

I want - NEED - to be closer to her, and evidently, she feels the same way, because she's sliding into my lap and I'm praying I don't lose my balance and go pitching into the rosebush. I raise one hand to her face, thumbing her cold jawbone, and think, "This is something I'll never feel again."


She gasps and lurches upright; I've never seen her move so fast. Likewise, I release her as though she's red-hot - not to say she isn't. I hobble over through the night to the edge of the roof: I'm a vampire, and Rick Pike's hopeful voice is like a stake through my heart.

"Up here," she gulps. Rick looks up, catches sight of me, smiles, and in no time at all, he's standing beside us, with an arm around Sam. My stomach turns.

"Strange way to spend our honeymoon, huh?" he asks, beaming at his wife, utterly oblivious. I feel low. Like a single-celled organism. An amoebae. Lower then an amoebae. Pond scum eaten by the amoebae.

Then they leave, Sam casting me long-suffering looks, and I return to the telescope. I stare up at the stars. Orion's mocking me.

I feel unworthy of them.


The End.

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