They say that nothing is perfect, but Sam and I... I think we come pretty close. So close that sometimes, when I'm having dinner, or celebrating a holiday, or lying in bed with her, I have this irrational panic that I'm dreaming, and that I'm going to be waking up any moment, cold in an empty bed.
I don't have the most self-confidence, no, but Sam - Ms. self-confidence - truly is helping with that. We've been spending more time in the labs lately, too, where she puts her most simple experiments in the most basic of terms. I don't always catch on - even though she says my confusion is all a matter of willpower - but I love the time we spend together there. Like I told Danny that day, it isn't all about sex. It's still about respect as a Colonel and Major, and about friendship, and about a bond that, somehow and without our permission, materialized and cemented.
I don't know if I believe in soul-mates and fate and things like that, but I do believe in perfect compatibility. And ever since the whole affair started, even before Rick amicably left, we've been getting more and more compatible.
Not to say that we don't argue here and there... we have disagreements just like we always have. That doesn't have anything to do with where and with who we lay our heads... that has to do with who we are inside, and our relationship - if I dare use the r-word - will never change that. But, unlike before, we know when to stop arguing and concede a point with a nod or a grunt. Consider it a little incentive... who likes sleeping alone?
Teal'c hasn't been very vocal about this entire thing, but from what I've gathered he either isn't very surprised... or he doesn't exactly care all that much. After all, he had a wife. He knows what love is, what sex is, and he's more observant than you'd think. Maybe he picked up on this long before we did and had just been quietly waiting for us to get our acts together.
Speaking of picking up... my biggest worry about having ' relations with Sam' turns out to never have been a worry. Daniel told the truth when he said that Hammond believed that we'd been seeing each other for months... I overheard him boasting to General Carter a couple weeks ago about it. Jacob isn't all that proud of his daughter, and he sent me some downright dirty looks when he heard of my part in the divorce... but like all fathers, he's protective of his child, and wants what makes her happy.
"Are you sure this time?" he'd asked her. She's blushed, nodded, and the General mimicked the gesture. "Yeah. So am I."
In any case, we don't have to worry about being court-martialed or split up over this, and there are several factors to thank for that. Factor number one is Hammond, who can keep his mouth shut amazingly well. Factor number two is Jacob, who still has friends in high places. Factor number three is the fact that SG-1 is an object of awe for the department, the Joint Chief's, and even the President. As long as we're discreet about things, we've been promised, we can expect a little special treatment.
Again, it's more than I deserve, and I'm starting to wonder if Luck's not such a bitch after all.
So we're ordered to be discreet, and we are. In fact, there's still pockets of Airmen here and there that don't know we're together... surprising that Graham hasn't cried on every single one's shoulder. In fact, on base you can hardly distinguish us from the good old Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill of yesteryear, except for the shorter arguments. We both recognize that being 'together' can't interrupt our saving of the world. Can't have that.
Rick didn't do anything dramatic like move to Malaysia... he still lives nearby and I've seen him around now and then. There's always an mordant flicker in his face when he first lays eye on me, but then he schools himself and waves. And Sam heard the other day from his nosy little cousin Rae Anders that he's going out with the dream psychoanalyst that shares his office. Should be interesting to see how that turns out.
Daniel... he was on pins and needles for weeks after his outburst in my office all those month ago. I think he thought I would hate him for what he said or something, and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't a little hurt about my 'low standards', but I don't hate him. He's my best friend, and we've been through way too much to let something so silly as a misunderstanding come between us permanently. Although it is pretty amusing to see him bending over backwards being nice...
Every time I go into the infirmary, Janet winks comically at me.
And I guess that's it. I think everyone was pretty tense for a while, but it's been long enough, smooth enough, nearly-perfect enough that everyone's certainly more relaxed about it.
Now, I lean forward, resting my weight on my elbows, my elbows on the top of my legs, and examine the object in my hands. I'd picked it up in the Merchant's Square earlier, while Sam and Danny discussed technology exchanges with the Minister of P7X-539. They're still in there, although Teal'c opted to wait with me in the anteroom. The Jaffa keeps watching me, and I'm struck by the conviction that if I look up at him, he'll be grinning. The denizens of P7X-539 are no more advanced that what we usually see, but they possess certain 'artifacts' that Sam believes are components of the Gou'ald personal shield thingies. If she and Daniel, resident ambassador, can make this deal, it would look VERY good... and if she can figure them out - and I have no doubt that she can - well... it might just mean a promotion much more soon than anyone expected.
Lieutenant Colonel Carter? Nice ring, even if she is catching up with me.
Teal'c suddenly stands, and I look up, mimic him, and shove my hands in my pockets. They're coming out the room, proceeded by the Minister's aids and the Minister himself. Then I see Daniel, blank as usual, and behind him, Sam... with a radiant smile on her face. I grin automatically upon seeing her jubilance, contenting myself with putting my hands on her shoulders. "We're going to help them with their irrigation problems," she reports, and I'm shocked. Important alien technology for waterways? Makes sense, seeing as how the natives support themselves on agriculture, but still... wow. This'll look great on the report.
With a promise of a short return, we leave the Minister's city and start back to the Stargate, which is two miles over a gravelly pass. Daniel and Sam recount their discussion with the Minister, Teal'c adding an opinion or pointer here and there, and I insert a sarcastic comment when I can get an word in edgewise. This is what my life is now, and I love it, and these people. I don't think I've been this content since fourth grade recess. Do I really want to change anything?
Danny and Teal'c go ahead to activate the DHD - we're all eager to share our triumph - and I slip back into step with Sam. She smiles at me again, oblivious to the depth of my thoughts, and I tell her "Congratulations."
"Thanks." She stops and wraps her arms around my neck, kissing me through her perpetual grin. There's a distinct taste that this is just a preview of things to come, which is encouraging. When she's not happy no one is, but when she is... let's just say that there is a little bit of favoritism involved.
The other two make a big show of not seeing us.
We break it off as the Stargate engages, send the iris code through, and step into the abyss again. I think, for the millionth time, that I should have started counting just how many times we've been through this infernal thing...
Hammond, a couple techies, and SG-6 and -10 are waiting for us in the gate room, along with the customary collection of supernumeraries whose purpose I can't figure out. This kind of welcome isn't usual; obviously there's another mission going out soon. Wonderful.
Reconsidering, I start down the ramp.
"Well, Major?" asks Hammond anxiously; I can hear the hope in his voice.
Sam doesn't say anything, but gives him a quick thumbs up. Hammond's shoulders heave, and he nods, pride shining through. I stare up at Sam, the inclination of the ramp equalizing our heights, and remember what I told myself months ago: no running away.I shove my hands back in my pocket, and my fingers curl around something small and cool.
"Yeah?" She's still in the throes of euphoria, and the Stargate behind her is still activated, giving her a kind of glow that looks like a special effect. I move a step closer, shutting out the excited conversations behind me. She sees the serious look on my face, and sobers. "What is it?"
I hold out the object I purchased on P7X-539 - traded for a pack of firestarters - a delicately engraved ring encrusted with a stone... if it isn't a diamond, it's damn close. A ring from another world and a proposal in front of a piece of ancient technology... let no one ever say I'm not a romantic.
Sam blinks, and leans forward. "What?" she asks, like she thinks she heard incorrectly. I repeat myself, at the same instant the Stargate disengages. My words seem to ricochet around the room.
I have my back to the General and the others, but I can feel every eye on us. Daniel's standing behind Sam; over her shoulder, he smiles a tiny, knowing smile.
Sam stares at me, disbelieving. I shove my doubts back down from where they started. We've been together for over five months... I've loved her for so much longer... this is right. Her own worries are evident in her eyes, memories of Jonas and Rick, apprehension about what we'd been getting into, nameless, faceless, reasonless fears that come with making a decision that will forever alter your life. While she wavers, I simply stand there, my breath hitching in my throat, trying to ignore the pointed silence, knowing there's nothing I can say or do... Luck, don't fail me now.
She takes a breath that's more like a gasp, and purses her lips together. Hard to gauge a reaction like that.
I blink. "Huh?"
She shakes her head emphatically, her breath coming out in a slightly hysterical, slightly incredulous laugh. "I said okay."
Only half aware of my actions, even less aware of the exultant and admiring chatter from those assembled, I take her hand in mine and slip the ring onto her finger. I practically collapse with relief to see that it fits... at least I'm getting better at estimating.
I'm absolutely numb with gladness and that strange sense of dreaming, but feeling Sam in my arms wakes me up a bit. I look down on her glowing face, and I know for certain that this is a moment I'll never regret.
That is, unless Hammond's not a romantic.
I turn, my arm over Sam's shoulder, and see him standing in the same place that I last saw him, next to SG-6. His face is as unreadable as ever, and it's only when he speaks - "Get off the ramp, son" - that I hear the thick emotion in his voice.
We step onto the cold concrete floor as the General orders the Stargate redialed to wherever the other teams are going, and then turns his attention to us. The emotion that was just in his voice starts shining through in his face. "You two are really pushing your luck, you realize that?" he asks. Despite the words, his entire manner is gentle, almost tender. Definitely weird.
"Yeah, I know," I answer. "But it's worth it."
Sam raises a wry eyebrow. She knows I'm going for brownie points now, but it's true. Everything that's happened, all of it, all the heartbreak, has been canceled out by the end results.
The whole affair's been worth it.
She's worth it.