Never Alone: Dancing Cheek to Cheek
The feel of her silky skin under his hand, the scent of her hair in his nostrils, watching her awaken, her big blue eyes meeting his dark brown ones with a smile: waking up next to Sam in the morning was something Jack O'Neill could get very used to. Although this was only the second morning they had awoken in each other's arms, it was both cosy and exciting as if they had been doing it for years, but at the same time as if they were new to it, which they were: a curious and exhilarating mix of emotions.
He watched her explore his kitchen, working out where he stored everything and assessing his food supplies.
"No great Jewish bakeries up the road Jack?" she asked with a smile.
"It's Saturday," he replied, "we will have to live without Jewish bakers. There is a great place nearby where I could buy you breakfast. Wanna eat out?"
"It's either that or a mouldy piece of cheese, three bars of chocolate and a couple of very dodgy looking tomatoes. Oh, and beer, of course. Don't you ever do any shopping, Jack?"
"Sure, I just haven't done any lately, is all."
"How lately is lately?" she frowned.
"Well, you know, they keep us busy at the Pentagon; paperwork, paperwork and more damned paperwork. And did I happen to mention the paperwork?" he chuckled.
Getting up, he grabbed Sam and pulled her towards him. Their foreheads touched, their noses met at the tip, and Jack tilted his head a little and softly kissed her lips.
"When did I get so lucky, Sam?" he asked, and then hugged her tightly.
"Lucky? I don't know about you but I think I got lucky the day I first walked into the briefing room at the SGC."
"Yeah, that was kind of a memorable day."
"When I was young and naive."
"And I was already old and cynical."
Sam laughed and cupped his face with her hands, returning his soft sweet kiss with one of her own.
"I like this, Sam, I like it a lot," he declared.
"This!" he pulled away and gesticulated wildly with his arms, "You in my kitchen in the morning, in my bed, in my arms."
"I like it a lot too."
"Well that's why I'm so lucky," he grinned, biting her neck, "I could eat you all up right now, Sam."
"You can eat me any time you like, mister," she replied with a twinkle in her eye.
"Don't tempt me. Later. First, real sustenance; breakfast. Got to keep our energy up. We've got two more nights." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and Sam grinned.
"Oh yeah, mustn't forget those days."
While munching their way through pancakes for breakfast, Jack asked what Sam wanted to do with those two days.
"I don't really mind. I'm here to see you, not Washington. I used to live here, remember?"
"So any favourite haunts you want to revisit?"
"What do you do, Jack? I want to know what you do, where you go at weekends, how you spend your time."
"Sometimes I do stuff, I even get out of the City, but often I do absolutely nothing."
"So how well have you explored Washington?"
"I know where all the important stuff is. I've walked around a lot."
"Ever been to Anacostia Park? Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens?" she asked, and Jack shook his head.
"The aquatic park is best in summer because the water lilies are in bloom, but I so love it in early fall, when everything is turning brown and red and all shades in between."
"We'll go there then, if you like. You can show me around."
"It's a huge park."
"Then you can show me the bits you like. So that's settled?" he asked and she nodded. "Okay. Sam, ummm." he scrunched up his face as if uncertain about what he was going to say next, "there's a 'thing' tomorrow night with a few officers, wives, yadda. General Fox's 'thing'. Wanna go?"
"General Fox? I know him. He was a friend of my dad's. You want to go to a 'thing'? That doesn't sound like you Jack."
"Never was much for 'things' I know, but when in Washington. Sometimes it's more politic to go than to stay away. I said I was probably going, but I didn't know you would be here."
"And it gives you a chance to show me off?"
"I never said that."
"But you think it, don't you?"
"Might." He tried to look chastened.
"And you can wear that sexy red number," he sighed dreamily, making Sam smile.
"I can't wear that to go everywhere, Jack."
"Well you can't have that much with you in that little bag."
"You'd be surprised."
They chatted amiably for a while until Jack fell silent, his mind seemingly elsewhere. Sam watched him for a while, obviously struggling with his thoughts.
"Are you okay Jack?" she asked eventually, and he didn't respond, "Jack?"
"W-what?" he responded, jerked away from whatever had been preoccupying him.
"Are you okay?"
"Oh, I'm sorry Sam, I was just thinking about work; a meeting I had yesterday."
"Sometimes I think I'm surrounded by idiots."
"You work at the Pentagon, maybe you are." She smiled and Jack chuckled. "Wanna talk about it?"
"I think I probably pissed a couple of people off."
"Really? Now there's a surprise."
"Jack you can be a little. tactless sometimes."
"Yeah well," he sighed and shrugged, "Sometimes I just can't help myself. I'm trying to mend my ways and be more diplomatic, but the one thing I hate about this place is the 'politics' and I'm surrounded by it."
"Who did you piss off?"
"General Mike Grafton, know him?"
"Don't think so."
"He thinks he so smart and. he isn't. He's one of these guys who thinks the stargate programme is a crock, and doesn't know what he's talking about. You know the type: Kinsey with stars on his uniform. I think he's invited tomorrow, which is why I got to thinkin'. Hope he doesn't spoil the party."
"We had an argument, go figure! Money, resources, the usual crap. He got snarky with Colonel Hamilton, who generally takes his side on everything and this time didn't on one particular point. Hamilton's another one of those idiots who thinks he's bright; think Samuels, remember him?" Sam nodded and frowned, "So they were wasting everyone's time and getting on my nerves. I don't like either of 'em and you know how I don't suffer fools gladly. Sam.
"So I lost my cool and raised my voice to Hamilton and said something like "don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference." Both of them are so dumb it took a while for them to figure out what it meant. I don't think either of 'em appreciated me calling them idiots. If looks could kill I wouldn't have lived through the day. It didn't help that everyone else in the room laughed. Gee, I sure am good at making enemies."
Sam was laughing and Jack couldn't help but smile in the face of that.
"I love that. Must remember that," she chuckled.
"There are some things you should never pick up from your old CO, Sam. My consummate tact and diplomacy is one of them." He smiled ruefully.
"I can think of worse people to emulate."
"I guess that's kind of flattering," he smiled and squeezed her hand gratefully "but instead of keeping them divided I united them to a common cause. The 'get Jack O'Neill' campaign. Not clever, Sam. In fact, very dumb."
"I guess so. He'll be at this shindig tomorrow? Maybe I can smooth a few of his ruffled feathers. I can try."
"Don't waste your time."
"Isn't that what the wives try to do all the time? I'm your wife proxy for tomorrow, aren't I?"
"Sam." he tailed off, looking at her mutely and Sam suddenly felt very uncomfortable, wondering whether she had said the wrong thing. She didn't want Jack to think she was hinting at anything, trying to push him into anything. Crap!
Wife proxy?' she thought, 'Sam, what are you saying? What the hell is Jack going to think?'
"I-I didn't mean." she stumbled, "Um, let's change the subject, huh? A long walk in the park will do you good, clear those cobwebs."
Jack chose to let her change the subject and made no comment about her 'wife proxy' remark. He was wondering how she would react if he asked her to marry him right there and then. Deep in his heart he knew that was what he wanted, but in the long run, not after a couple of weekends and a few phone calls building this relationship; not even full weekends yet. This was all still too new and way too soon to even be thinking along those lines.
Would she be shocked and dismayed if she knew that's what he was thinking? He realised that he'd shocked himself too with those thoughts.
'Just pretend she never said that, Jack.' he told himself, 'she feels uncomfortable now; she didn't mean anything by it. Too soon, old buddy, too soon.'
"You'd have thought those cobwebs would have cleared the moment I opened the door to my apartment and saw you." he smiled, "Sorry to get onto the work track. Tomorrow night is soon enough for that. Too soon. You're right, let's get going."
They spent a good part of the day at the park and Jack could see the appeal. Anacostia Park was a huge sprawl that spread along the Anacostia River, boasting a golf course and many other recreational activities, but Sam zeroed in on the still large, but much smaller, Kenilworth Aquatic Park, which lay within Anacostia's sprawling confines.
The Aquatic Park took up huge acres with ponds and tidal marsh, and boasted a few greenhouses too. Sam determined that she should bring Jack here in the summer to see the water lilies at their best, and try to catch sight of some of the wildlife, like the blue heron. She was pleased that Jack seemed suitably impressed with what he saw in early fall.
"I sure hope no one ever does anything to pollute this place," Sam said at one point. "It's the only national park of its kind in the country. I hate to think of anything destroying it. I so love it here."
"It's seems that none of the hot air floating over the river from Capitol Hill has harmed it yet, Sam," Jack quipped and she laughed.
"I guess if that doesn't do it, nothing will," she responded with a smile.
By now it was late afternoon and they had already seen many of Sam's favourite spots. Sam had noticed Jack was beginning to get too distracted by looking at her to take in more of their surroundings and was flattered. Taking her hand, he turned to face her and stroked her hair, looking into her eyes.
"Wanna go home Dorothy?"
"I'm fresh out of red slippers," she replied with a smile.
"Well, I guess we'll have to find alternative means of transport. I'm not sure how much longer I can keep my hands off of you."
"Oh! So you want to have your wicked way with me, is that what you're saying?"
Jack's hand wandered up the outside of her thigh, over her buttocks and up to her waist and she saw his eyes darkening with unfulfilled lust, which served to spark hers.
"In that case, Mr Scarecrow, let's go."
They made it back to his apartment with almost unseemly haste and when the door closed behind them Jack pushed her against the wall of his lobby, kissing her passionately, one hand massaging a breast.
"Are you desperate, Mr Scarecrow?"
"Damned right, Dorothy!"
He manoeuvred her towards the bedroom, every step a part of his seduction. Sam was thinking that he sure knew what to do with his hands, even when she was fully clothed, and his lips were pure torture.
Out of the corner of his eye he could see the light blinking on his answer phone and pulled himself up short. Crap! He figured he should listen to any messages, just in case there had been some sort of crisis he needed to deal with. If so, he was going to be so pissed. Instructing Sam to wait in the bedroom he picked up the message. Then Sam heard him talking briefly to someone and shortly afterwards he came in.
"A problem, Jack?"
"No. It was the restaurant we were meant to go to last night. The maitre de was so impressed with my reasons for not making it for our reservation that he called and told me we could have a table tonight. They had a cancellation."
"So impressed with your reasons? What reasons?"
"That my beautiful, sexy girlfriend seduced me as soon as she walked in the door of my apartment."
"What? Jack! Oh my god, Jack, I can't go to that restaurant. How can I look him in the eye? Aren't these guys normally kind of snooty? Isn't all this a bit odd?" She looked at him part in terror and part in puzzlement.
"Oh, did I forget to mention we served together in. well somewhere," he smiled.
"He's ex-special forces? You didn't really tell him that did you?"
"Sam, of course not. You heard me cancel the reservation. Did you hear me tell him that?"
"You-you. oh! Why are men so infuriating?" she turned her face away with feigned petulance and Jack grabbed her, pulling her up from the bed and against him, kissing her shoulder and starting to undo the buttons on her blouse.
"They really do have a cancellation. He moved us up the waiting list. Way up the list. It's good to have friends in high places."
"Like one of the swankiest restaurants in Washington DC?"
"Right. So you are going to dress up aren't you?"
Buttons undone, he kissed her neck and trailed his lips over her breastbone.
"Of course I'm going to dress up"
"In your sexy red number?"
"Now that would be telling. A woman should keep a man guessing."
"She should? That's just plain annoying," he joked. "Now where were we?" he grinned, pulling off her blouse and removing her bra and then pushing her onto the bed and joining her there.
"Have we got time for this?" Sam gasped.
"There is always time for this. We've got hours." His lovemaking was teasingly slow and gentle, working Sam into a fervour, which would mark his back as hers for days and, with no let up in his attentions, he satisfied Sam's desires twice over before allowing himself to find his own peace.
"Oh god, Jack," she panted breathlessly, "no man's ever done that, I mean. that was. awesome."
She pulled him into an embrace, squeezing him gently and idly caressing his back with her fingertips. Sam could feel some scratches and welts from her earlier frenzy and felt slightly embarrassed by that uninhibited display of lust.
Cursing herself for a fool, she told herself to get used to it, which she happily could, and just let herself be her with Jack. He wanted her, yearned for her, and loved her. What more could she ask than that?
This was the first real and true thing that had happened to her for years, maybe ever, and she had to let go of Colonel Samantha Carter and simply become his Sam. This was new to both of them and they were still feeling their way with each other, despite the fact that it felt like they had been in this relationship forever.
Maybe that was because of their mutual history, but she also hoped it was despite it.
Her thoughts suddenly wandered back to when they had been Jonah and Thera, trapped on an ice planet without their knowledge. They had come so close to making love back then and she had cursed that they hadn't many times. Now she was glad they had waited because if they had done more than kiss and hug back then, maybe this wouldn't have been possible now.
She imagined how they might have reacted to each other after they once again became Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill in those circumstances. It had been difficult enough to let go of what Jonah and Thera had shared.
They might never have been able to meet each other's eyes again, or flirt a little, or exchange secret knowing looks and smiles. Anything could have happened and they might have drifted apart from embarrassment. Far better that they had waited until they could be Jack and Sam and Mr Scarecrow and Dorothy, even if neither had realised it way back then.
"I love you Jonah," she muttered and Jack started.
"Did I say Jonah? I-I was just remembering."
"Yeah, there's definitely an upside to being stuck on any ice planet with you, Sam."
"Oh, don't remind me of that first time. That was so not any fun, and finding out we were actually in Antarctica? It really pissed me off that I hadn't even considered we could be on Earth."
"You saved me that first time, Sam."
"No I didn't. I couldn't save you that first time, however much I really wanted to."
"I remember you lying beside me, pretending you were Sara, giving me the warmth of your body, ready to die with me. I thought it was all a dream, and only later realised that it wasn't. That saved me."
"Do you ever see Sara?" she asked curiously, giving him a squeeze in appreciation of his words..
"Rarely. She got remarried."
"You never told me that."
"Maybe one day I'll do that too," he said, searching her eyes and sensing no fear at the notion, he smiled. Maybe the idea didn't freak her out as much as he had imagined it might earlier that day. "They adopted a little boy."
"Is she happy?"
"I hope so because I know I am."
"I'm glad I make you happy, Jack, because you make me happy too. Ecstatically happy."
He settled down to cuddle her, softly kissing her cheek with great affection.
"I love you too, Thera," he whispered, and Sam smiled, giving him another gentle squeeze of acknowledgment.
Although Jack would have liked to lie there quietly dozing with Sam in his arms, he was conscious that he had that reservation. Looking at his watch he realised they had plenty of time, but he didn't want the same thing to happen tonight as had happened the previous night. He wanted to take his beautiful, sexy Sam out for a night on the town. Their love had smouldered quietly in the shadows for too many years and he wanted the world to know that they had found each other at last.
Basking in the emotions her embrace invoked, Jack was almost disbelieving of the sublime contentment he felt at this moment, and didn't want to spoil it with that disbelief. This was real, so very real, and he couldn't have been happier.
"Think we ought to make a move to get ready?" he asked.
"I guess. Want to take a shower together, Jack?"
"Together? Yes, I'd that very much."
Once the hot water was beating against them, Jack felt some excitement mounting inside of him again. This was one of his fantasies and he wanted to fulfill it. He captured Sam with a kiss while lathering his hands with shower gel and then started to wash her, slowly and sensually, pausing to caress those places that start most women on their way towards rapture.
"Again Jack?" Sam asked with some surprise.
"I'm not too old to have lost my touch yet, Sam, so take advantage while you can."
So she responded with vigour, happy to play this sexual game, and returning his caresses with her own. This time Jack's lovemaking was hardly that at all, but a desperate and frantic assault, which was both agonising and ecstatic, leaving them breathless and exhausted.
They left the confines of the shower and he handed her a gigantic fluffy towel, taking one for himself, but watching her dry herself before even attempting to do the same.
"If we get ready now we'll still make it in time for dinner," he said, breaking the silence. "Are you okay? I think I might have got a little carried away."
"A little sore, but I'm fine, Jack, and the sex was fine too."
"So you enjoy it a bit rough?"
"I do now." Her smile lit his heart.
"I'm sore too," he admitted, "hope we're still up to some dancing."
"Oh, didn't I mention it?"
"Umm, no Jack, you didn't happen to."
"This place we're going, it has a dance floor."
"Dancing? I'd like that."
"Thought you would. I'll get ready and then leave you to spend whatever hours you need to do the same, okay?"
"I don't take hours. well only sometimes. We haven't got time right now but I'll do my best."
While Jack got dressed she dried her hair and started to put on her make up. When he appeared in the doorway she did a double take and Jack smiled at her reaction.
"Like?" he asked.
She stared, looking him over appraisingly. He wore a dark grey suit, blue shirt and contrasting grey tie, his black shoes shined to armed forces perfection.
"I knew you'd look hot in a suit Jack, and I was right. Very hot!" she smiled, squeezing by him in the doorway and planting a kiss on his lips, "My turn to get ready. No peeking."
He slapped her butt playfully as she passed, still wearing the towel he had given her earlier, and with her make up only half completed. When he saw her next, Jack was surprised that she wasn't wearing her red suit and stared at her open mouthed yet again. Her black, strapless, above the knee length cocktail dress hugged her body closely, showing every curve to its best advantage. Once again she wore black stockings, this time with no seams, and her shoes were high, sexy, black shiny leather. He whistled appreciatively.
"Like?" she asked, mimicking him almost flawlessly.
"Oh yeah!" he grinned. "Perfection." She returned his grin, pleased at the affect her appearance had on him.
"How we getting there? Driving?" she asked.
"No. I've booked a cab. Then we can do what the hell we like and not worry about driving."
"Planning to get drunk, Jack?"
"No, but definitely planning to drink."
The restaurant was large, but still managed to have an intimate air about it. The maitre de welcomed Jack warmly, shaking his hand vigorously.
"It's good to see you Jack. Been a while. You'll have to slip over one night and have a few games of poker with the guys."
"I'd like that Jimmy. This is Sam. Sam meet Jimmy."
She smiled brightly, taking his hand in a firm grasp, and Jimmy immediately fell under her spell.
"Your table is waiting right this way, General O'Neill, Colonel Carter," Jimmy said more loudly, for the sake of the punters, and he was suddenly a different man: the maitre de of one of the best dining establishments in Washington DC.
When Sam perused the menu her eyes opened in shock and she looked up at Jack.
"If you suck the fun out of this, Sam, I'll be one very unhappy camper," he said before she could say anything. "Don't even think about the cost, okay. We're here to have a good time." She nodded a response and turned back to the menu.
Jack ordered Champagne, which gave her pause again as she had noticed how expensive it was. He was really pushing the boat out, but she guessed that a two star General could afford such a thing occasionally, maybe even more than occasionally. If he was trying to impress her, he was succeeding.
For Jack's part, he was happy that he was managing to impress her at last, just as he had wanted to from the very beginning. He knew she would be happy with much less, which only made him want to give her more.
"So tell me about Jimmy," she said as they waited for their order to arrive.
"Jimmy? He doesn't look like he was in special ops, does he?"
"Not really. He seems the perfect maitre de."
"Jimmy could be good at whatever he sets his mind to, and he saved my sorry ass on more than one occasion when we were out there."
"Hush, hush stuff?"
"If I told you I'd have to kill you stuff."
Sam nodded, contemplating this man who sat in front of her and how little she knew about a past that was obviously murky, if not dark, in places. She had seen aspects of that murkiness raise its head when she and Jack had worked together, but figured she hadn't seen the half of it and probably never would. Deciding she didn't care what Jack had got up to in the shadowy recesses of special ops, that all that mattered was now, she shifted those thoughts to one side.
When the champagne arrived, he proposed a toast to the future, taking her hand in his as they drank. She squeezed that hand and smiled at him, conveying her love through their eye contact. Jack's heart hammered with joy that he seemed to have captured her heart so entirely and so quickly.
This might be early days and he knew that the first flush of love would eventually wear thin, but believed they were close enough to deal with that when it eventually came: friends, companions, lovers, maybe even soul mates. It didn't have to be huge honkin' and heart stopping the whole time. In fact his health might be better if it wasn't. Nevertheless, this heart stopping part was a true wonder and he totally immersed himself in it, wanting to soak it up as much as he could. It made him feel good, and very special.
The dinner was superb, one of the best things ever to delight Sam's taste buds, and she behaved in her best lady like fashion as she ate, not wanting to do anything that might embarrass her partner. Jack also behaved in his most gentlemanly way, belying the person who had so unceremoniously seduced her earlier in the shower, if you could call such a thing a seduction, more like an assault on her person; a totally enthralling and wonderful assault.
Jack was a fascinating, complicated and, frequently puzzling, man, she thought, someone who she would never have imagined being at home in a place like this, although he pulled it off with perfect aplomb, as if he belonged to eating in fancy restaurants. He was certainly full of surprises.
When she went to powder her nose, Jimmy approached, ostensibly to ask General O'Neill if everything was satisfactory. The usual business out of the way, he spoke quietly to Jack.
"That is one hell of a looker you've got there, Jack."
"Oh, she is one hell of a lot more than just a looker."
"I'll bet she is."
"Eyes off, and hands even further off, Jimmy."
"Can't hurt a guy to look, can it?"
"In your case, yes, if I recall correctly." They exchanged a laugh remembering different times.
"The way she's been looking at you, I doubt any man could prize her away, not even me." Jimmy was renowned for his abilities to attract and bed women. This area of expertise had been the butt of many a joke in the old days.
"Ya think?" Jack said.
"I know, you lucky sap. So when you gonna marry her Jack?"
"Marry her? What makes you think I am?"
"The way you look at her."
"Really? Is it that obvious? Crap!"
"Why does that bother you? She adores you."
"We've only been together for a few weeks."
"Could have fooled me. I'd never have guessed it."
"Well, we've know each other for years. I was her CO once, for a long time."
Jimmy eyebrows rose up in surprise.
"And you've only been together for a few weeks? How the hell did you keep your hands off her Jack?"
"With great difficulty, sometimes, believe me!"
"Good catch, my friend, although I can't help but wonder whether it's the same for her," Jimmy quipped.
"Huh! You and me both, old buddy."
"Jack, my man, you look perfect together. Take it from a man who knows a thing or two." Jimmy winked.
"So exactly how many of the women in this room have ended up in your bed, Jimmy?" Jack asked, amused. Jimmy eyed his surroundings with a smile.
"Way too many, and most of them are here with their husbands."
"So some things haven't changed."
"That will never change, Jack. I can't help myself."
"Don't I know it."
"Your Sara was always safe. I would never have done that to you, and she wouldn't either."
"Well, that's good to know," Jack smiled.
Sam came back and Jimmy smoothly pulled out her chair and sat her down, bowed slightly and left them alone.
"Having a little chat with your old friend, Jack?"
"Yeah. He's impressed that an old has-been like me can attract a beautiful woman like you."
"Is he now? Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately, Jack?"
"You just don't know how totally gorgeous you are. Simply scrumptious."
"Scrumptious? Does that mean you could eat me all up too?" he chuckled.
"I'll be taking you up on that Sam Carter. In the meantime, would you settle for a dance?"
The band had played soft background music earlier and was now back on the stage again. Having deliberately picked a late slot for the original reservation, and Jimmy having wangled him one at the same time tonight, the time for dancing had come. Sam eyed the small dance floor, a few couples already up on it, and smiled.
"I'd love to dance, Jack."
They glided over the floor, cheek to cheek, Jack holding her close and aware he was dancing with the most beautiful woman in the room. A lot of eyes were turned their way and he was proud of that fact.
"People are looking Jack," Sam whispered.
"And why wouldn't they? Great isn't it?"
"You really do want to show me off."
He moved his head to look at her and then rested his forehead on hers, dancing nose to nose, eye to eye.
"I'm proud of my beautiful Sam," he declared. "All those years of hiding my feelings and now I don't have to anymore."
"That's nice," she replied, kissing his cheek softly, "and this is very, very nice. I want to dance with you all night."
"That would be an honor."
"Are you still sore?" she asked.
"A little," he spotted the wicked gleam in her eyes. "Got plans to aggravate the matter Sam?"
"Mmmm. maybe. I said you looked hot in that suit. Can't get enough of you, General Jack O'Neill."
"Sweet! I hope I'm up to it."
"By the time we get home you will be."
"Is that a threat or a promise?" he asked as he spun her in his arms.
Jack smiled, placing his cheek next to hers again, dizzy with delight, and love for the woman he was dancing with.
"I can't get enough of you either, Colonel Samantha Carter, and I never will."