Sam lay in bed listening to the steady breathing of the man beside her. It had been a week since Apophis had 'died' and been sent through the Stargate back to Sokar and they still hadn't talk about it. The first night that they had been allowed off base, they had gone straight to Jack's house, making love almost frantically the minute they walked through the door. It was if they needed to reassure themselves of their own lives and affirm their love. Later that night she had asked him about what he had said. Unwilling or unable to answer, he pulled her into his arms effectively distracting her. She recognized the tactic but allowed him the diversion.
In the days that had followed, it hadn't gotten any easier to approach him about the subject. He either deflected her question or ignored it. She didn't quite understand why she continued to pursue this subject when he so obviously didn't want to talk. She couldn't get the memory of his face, his words, and his tone of voice out of her mind when he had said; "'I should have shot him.'" She could sense he was still troubled by all that had transpired.
She turned over restlessly, glancing at the clock-1:12. Since she couldn't sleep, she decided to get up and read a little or maybe watch TV. They were on stand down for the next 48 hours so it didn't really matter when she got to sleep. Slipping carefully from the bed, so as not to wake Jack, she grabbed her robe and left the bedroom.
Jack rolled over and automatically reached over to the other side of the bed, his hand meeting empty space. Opening his eyes, he looked around the room, then checked the time; 2:23--where the hell was Sam? He listened for noise from the bathroom, nothing. Sighing, he got up and went to the door; opening it he could see the faint glow of light from downstairs. Pulling on a t-shirt against the cool night air, he went down the stairs.
Pausing at the door to the family room, Jack saw Sam sitting curled up on the sofa. The soft glow from the table lamp illuminating the small area around her. She had a book open on her lap and looked to be engrossed in it. He saw the book jacket on the end table, "Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets". He smiled to himself, they had bought the series for Cassie for her birthday and Sam was slowly borrowing them back.
He came into the room then, getting her attention. "Jack," she said, setting the book down, "what are you doing up?"
"Woke up and saw you were gone, came to find you." He walked over to her then, sitting down next to her. He picked up the book, "Catching up on Harry's adventures?"
"Yeah," she said, smiling. "I needed to escape for a while."
"Not from me, I hope?"
"No, never from you." She looked at him carefully, unsure as to whether he was teasing her or not. Even after a week he still had dark circles under his eyes and an unutterably weary look on his face. She reached out and gently smoothed the hair back from his forehead. "Come on Jack," she said, "lie down and I'll rub your head." She untucked her legs so that she sat straight on the sofa, patting her lap invitingly.
Never one to refuse a head rub, Jack sighed and lay down on his back, his head cradled in her soft lap. She tugged the afghan off the back of the sofa onto his legs, and turned the lamp down to its lowest setting. Jack closed his eyes, relaxing into her touch as she began gently massaging his forehead. She rubbed his temples, stroking through the grey hair that gave him such a distinguished look. She smoothed the lines in his forehead, moving her fingers slowly down the bridge of his nose. He sighed softly in appreciation. Several minutes later, as she continued stroking his forehead she asked, "Can we talk about it now?"
"Talk about what?" Jack murmured, feeling totally relaxed for the first time in weeks.
"About Apophis." She kept her hand firmly pressed to his forehead when he would have sat up. He opened his eyes then, and saw her lovely blue ones gazing down at him, filled only with concern and love.
"What's there to talk about? He came to the SGC, he died, we sent him back. End of story." He closed his eyes again.
"Jack, don't shut me out," she pleaded. "I remember what you said, how you should have shot him. And I saw your face after he died and we sent him back to Sokar."
Reaching up he took hold of her hand from where it rested on his forehead; twining their fingers together he brought it to his lips, gently kissing it. "I don't know what you want me to say, Sam." Releasing her hand, he sat up then and she let him. He put an arm around her, pulling her close to his side. He felt her snuggle close to him, resting her head in the hollow of his shoulder.
They sat quietly for a while, Sam stroking his shoulder and chest. Finally she implored, "Just talk to me Jack. Tell me how you feel." Tilting her head up and back slightly so she could see his face she pleaded, "Can that be so hard?"
Jack had to close his eyes against the pain he felt as his lover begged with him to share himself with her. Communicating with those he loved had never been one of his strong points; it had been the downfall of more than one relationship, including his marriage. He wanted his relationship with Sam to be different; he was a different man because of her. She gave him everything of herself, holding nothing back. She deserved the same from him.
When he opened his eyes, Sam could see the acceptance of her request in his face. Relieved, she tucked her head back under his chin, sinking further into his embrace. Sliding her arms around him, she slipped her hands under his t-shirt, caressing the warm skin beneath. "Talk to me Jack," she repeated softly, "tell me what you're feeling."
"That's part of the problem Sam, I'm not sure what I'm feeling." He began stroking her hair while he talked. "I thought I wanted Apophis dead, and initially I did." Putting his hand under her chin, he tilted her face up to his and gazed steadily into her eyes. "When I said I should have shot him, I meant it. If I would have killed him back on that planet, we wouldn't have had our hands tied by regulations or ethical concerns." Releasing her head he looked away, "Our greatest enemy would have been dead. Sha're, Skaara and all the others terrorized and subjugated by Apophis would have been avenged. Instead, we were forced to care for him."
He fell silent then, and she gave him that time. Eventually she asked, "You said initially you wanted him dead, what caused you to change your mind?"
His arm tightened around her, "I think it was when he was dying. Suddenly he wasn't the mighty and powerful system lord Apophis, he was simply a man facing his own mortality." He laughed then a bit grimly, "Quite a concept for someone who had always believed in his own immortality." Looking at her again, he said, "He asked me if I was glad he was dying. I told him no, I wasn't but deep inside I know part of me was."
Not sure what to say, Sam reached for the afghan then, pulling it over them. Jack helped her tuck it around them, "Cold?"
"Just a little, this is better." Choosing her next words carefully she said, "Jack, I think what you're saying is that when you were with Apophis as he died, he simply became a man." Looking into his deep brown eyes she continued, "A man you could identify with."
He laughed softly, "I wouldn't go that far, but yes, I think you can say I could identify with his humanity at his death."
"And it made you think about your own mortality?"
"Careful," he chuckled, "I'll have to start calling you Dr. Mackenzie."
Sam punched his shoulder, "There's no need to be insulting. I was just asking a simple question."
"Simple my ass."
"Okay, forget that last question." Resting her head back on his chest she asked, "What about afterwards, after we sent him back and Martouf told us about the sarcophagus?"
Jack was quiet for a long time, when he finally spoke Sam had to strain to hear him, "I think I felt that not even someone as evil as Apophis should be brought back to life only to be tortured and killed over and over again." He looked at her then, and gently caressed her face, "And I felt guilty for feeling sorry for him, like I was betraying everyone who had ever suffered at his hands."
"Oh Jack," Sam tightened her arms around him, holding him close until she felt him begin to relax.
"Feel better?" he asked, kissing the top of her head.
She squeezed him again, "Hey, I that's suppose to be my line."
"You know what I mean."
"I know." Stretching up she kissed him gently. "Thank you for talking to me. Believe me, I know first hand that not talking in a relationship is not a good thing."
"Sam," he said, suddenly serious again, his hand coming up to cup her cheek. "Thank you for not giving up on me. It's hard for me to do this." He gestured vaguely. "But I want our relationship to work, I want us to work."
"So do I," she replied, feeling her heart practically bursting with love for this man. Smiling, she curled her hand around his nape and pulled him down for a slow, deep kiss.
THE END firstname.lastname@example.org
"It would be nice if something made sense for a change." --Alice in Wonderland