Sam walked into the office that now belonged to Jonas. It was still weird after all of these months to not see Daniel hunched over some ancient writing or looking at some artifact. But, she had to admit, Jonas was growing on her. His endless supply of optimism and the fact that he was a quick study had really endeared him to her. He was as much a part of the team as Daniel had been, although she hadn't bonded to Jonas in quite the same way. Yet.
Suddenly aware that she was in his office, studying him in much the same way she studied the alien technology she was given, he turned in his chair to look up at her. He was caught again at how really pretty she was. Not in a super-model-kind-of-way, but in a get-under-your-skin-and-won't-get-out-kind-of-way. Not that he thought about her in either of those ways. Well, not much. Really. "Hi, Sam."
"Hey, Jonas." She sat down on a spare chair and plopped a few notebooks on his desk.
He noticed that she looked more tired than normal, and given that she was usually working herself too hard anyway, that was saying something, "Are you headed home soon?" Maybe he should ask her if she wanted to catch a bite to eat first.
"No. Yes. I'm not sure." She rubbed her forehead with the palm of her hand as if it could bring her some kind of relief.
"Yeah. I just got it a little bit ago, and it won't seem to go away."
"Have you eaten? Sometimes I get a headache when I haven't eaten in awhile." Good way to ease food into the conversation while still showing concern for her health.
"You're right. I haven't stopped all day. I'm sure these reports can wait until tomorrow. Thanks, Jonas. Good night."
He saw his opportunity slipping away as she started to walk out the door, "Sam, wait!"
She turned and saw him jump to his feet.
"I thought maybe we could have dinner together first. You know, we don't really spend much time off-duty..."
In a split second she thought of a dozen different excuses, but he looked so hopeful, and she was hungry, so, "Sounds good. Let me get something for my headache from Janet first, and I'll meet you at the elevator in 10 minutes." She started to turn to walk away when another thought occurred to her. What the hell, Daniel used to do it all of the time, what was the difference? "If you want, you could grab some clothes and spend the night on the couch. I'll probably be too tired to drop you back off after a few glasses of wine."
"Great!" As she headed toward the infirmary, his grin grew a few inches. Spending the night on the couch, huh? Well, he had certainly started relationships in worse ways. *Stop that!* He meant 'friendships.' Yeah, 'friendships.' Really good friendships.
Dinner passed with idle conversation- mostly about her. He was trying to draw her out, learn more about the normally reserved Sam Carter that he worked with every day, but actually knew very little about.
Chalk it up to the pill Janet had given her for her headache or the wine, or maybe both, but she was talking a lot more than she normally would have. And the food tasted so good, and Jonas was, well, charming. Cute and charming. In a brotherly kind of way. Not her type, but not a bad way to spend an evening.
"So, I've heard a lot about your dad, but never anything about your mom. Did they get divorced or something?" Jonas was stirring his coffee and glanced up to see a shadow pass over her eyes at the mention of her mother.
"Mom died just over 20 years ago. In a car accident." She was moving her ice cream around with her spoon.
"You didn't know. I don't really talk about her much." Just then they both turned as a baby started crying at a nearby table. Sam smiled at the noise.
Jonas noticed her look, "What?" Most other customers seemed put off by the shrill sound.
"It's just that my mom always used to tell me this story about when she first knew she wanted to marry Dad. Every time a baby cries, it makes me think of it."
"Tell me." He was enjoying the softer side of Sam and he wanted to hear more.
"Well, she and Dad had been dating for awhile, and he kept asking her to marry him. She said she didn't want to rush into anything and needed more time. But he kept bugging her- if you knew my dad well, you would understand. Anyway, she told me that one night she had this dream- a baby was crying in the next room and when she went to pick it up, it had Dad's eyes. And his bald head- that part always made her laugh. Anyway, she said when she woke up she knew that he was the one she wanted to marry." Sam's eyes were still focused on her spoon, drawing swirls in her half-melted ice cream.
"Because she could see having his children."
"Yeah, something like that."
She finally looked up with a far away look that he recognized immediately. And finally it all made sense. The tension he sometimes, no usually, felt when the two of *them* were in the same room. The way *they* deliberately tried to stay away from each other, but always managed to fall in step together. The way she laughed at *his* jokes; the way *he* thought- no believed- that she could save the world. Or maybe just save *him*. Oh. Jonas became aware that she was calling his name- "Yeah?"
"Are you all right? You looked kind of out of it there for a minute."
"Sorry. Guess I'm just tired." And incredibly slow to catch on sometimes, but tired will do here.
"Yeah, me too. Let's go."
The car ride to her place was quiet. Both were too sleepy to engage in conversation, and it was obvious her mind was a million miles away. Once inside the house, she gave him blankets and pillows while she got ready for bed. As he slipped under the covers, he called to her as she got a glass of water, "Sam?"
"Thanks for-- for talking to me about stuff."
"Thanks for listening." She walked around to the couch, glass in hand, "It's been awhile since I've talked to anyone about-anything like that. I guess since Daniel..."
"I'll bet Colonel O'Neill would be happy to listen... or Teal'c?" He didn't want to be too obvious.
She ignored his comment. "Goodnight, Jonas."
"Sweet dreams, Sam."
Jack turned the corner just in time to see two of his teammates step off the elevator. They had obviously been laughing about something. He hadn't seen Sam laugh like that in a long time, and he felt more than a twinge of jealousy at the thought that Jonas- Twinge!?!? NO, make that a gut-wrenching, knife-twisting, lightening bolt from the green-eyed monster as she kissed him on the cheek. What the hell? Sure, she had kissed Daniel like that hundreds of times. Her dad, absolutely! But, Jonas? And hadn't he been wearing that shirt the night before? What the hell?!?!? He ducked back around the corner to catch his breath and eavesdrop just a little-
"Thanks for a great night, Sam."
"No, thank you. It was great to open up like that to somebody- it's been a long time."
"Next time I'll try to remember to bring a shirt."
"That would be nice. See you later."
Oh my god. 'Next time!?' There was going to be a next time, and Jonas was going to have to pack a shirt for it? This was too much. Why wasn't there a time loop now so he could kick the living daylights out of that guy? Didn't Thor owe him a favor? Now would be a great time to-
Shit. He had forgotten to move. "Carter." Try to act like nothing happened.
"Are you okay?"
"Fine. I'd ask how you are, but I guess I could get that information from Jonas." Way to play it cool, O'Neill.
Military training kicked in at full force. "Never mind, Major. We have a briefing in 30 minutes- in case you forgot. I trust you'll be ready."
"Yes, Sir." What the hell was up his ass?
Sam couldn't help but notice the way Jack completely ignored her during the briefing. He didn't try to make her laugh- not once. He didn't try to look at her- not even out of the corner of his eye. And he didn't cut off any of her scientific explanations either. She was worried- he was definitely not himself.
His attitude wasn't lost on Jonas, only he had a clue as to what might be bothering the Colonel. He had spied Jack turning the corner when he and Sam stepped out of the elevator earlier. He decided then and there to nudge two of his newest and closest friends together- for the good of the team if not for each other. After the briefing, Jonas caught up to Jack in the locker room where he had been lifting weights (insert mental picture of a shirtless, sweaty Jack here). "Hey, Colonel."
Jack didn't acknowledge the greeting. He just kept lifting- up and down, up and down, up and down (get the picture yet?).
Not deterred from his mission, Jonas tried again, "You were pretty quiet earlier, is everything all right?"
"Peachy." His reply was half grunt, half sarcasm.
Anyone else would have recognized that as a classic Jack O'Neill "leave me the hell alone" response. Jonas was either completely oblivious or didn't care enough for his own well being, so he continued, "I'm worried about Sam."
"She seemed pretty happy earlier." Still lifting, but paying a bit more attention to the man he currently wanted to strangle.
So he had seen them together this morning. "She has this way of hiding how she feels, of making everyone think that she's fine, but really..."
Okay, enough of this crap. Jack replaced the weights on the bar and sat up, "Jonas, what are you getting at? Carter is perfectly capable of taking care of herself."
"Right, right. I know. It's just that last night-"
He really didn't want to hear about this. Anger rose within him and his voice was louder than he might have liked, "I don't need to hear about her personal life." There. End of story. He was getting dressed and going home.
Jonas stood up with Jack, and matching his tone, replied, "That's just it, Colonel, I think you do."
"Leave it alone, Jonas." This guy was so close to incurring his wrath. He had no idea.
"Sorry, Colonel, I can't. Sam's my friend, and I would like to think that we've become friends-"
"Friends don't screw each other over. At least not on Earth." Jack, satisfied that this conversation was over and his point had been made, gathered his things to depart the locker room.
He had been looking at Jonas with a loose kind of rage Jonas hadn't seen in him before. A little fearful for his own safety, he backed up a bit. Did Jack think they had- He couldn't let him leave thinking that about Sam, or him!' "Colonel, I don't know what you're thinking, but Sam and I are just friends. I spent the night on her couch, like Daniel used to do a lot, apparently. Since he's been-gone-she hasn't really felt like she could talk to anyone."
Jack turned at the mention of Daniel's name. As much as he hated Jonas at the moment, he knew enough to realize he was telling the truth. But why was he saying it? If the guy was smart enough to catch on that he had feelings for Carter, than wasn't he smart enough to figure out why he couldn't act on them? Daniel had at least got that much straight. "So?"
Sensing Jack was a little calmer, and deciding this might be his only chance, he spit it out, "So, I just think that she needs a friend. More than a friend, actually. Someone who can understand what her life's been like for the past few years. Someone who knows how important her work is to her. Someone that could share a future with her. Someone that loves her."
"Look, Jonas, there are things you don't know. Things that complicate-"
"I know enough to see that two people who care a lot about each other turn away at every chance they get. I guess I'm just wondering how many chances are left." He couldn't have know how his choice of words would affect Jack, but when he finally lifted his eyes up to Jonas's, there was a different look there. The same far away one Jonas had seen in Sam's last night, "You should ask her about her mom sometime. She has this really great story about how she decided to marry Jacob. Sam gets this look in her eyes when she tells it." Jonas smiled for the first time since he had walked into the locker room, "It's a lot like the one you've got now."
Jack continued on his way out of the locker room, leaving a smiling Jonas standing alone. He needed the drive home to process all of the information he had just been given. Not that it was really new. He knew she had been having a rough time since Daniel went glowy on them, but he thought she was just dealing with it like he had been. 'Dealing with it? That's a joke, Jack. You try not to think about it; that's not dealing. That's repressing. That's what you do with all of the stuff you always feel. Only usually it's about her.'
A shower. That's all he needed. A shower. To rinse away these emotions, this grime, the whole day. Yep, a shower would do the trick. But, he ran out of hot water before reaching the desired result. Stepping out onto the cold bathroom floor, he heard his doorbell. God help Jonas if had followed him home for another heart-to-heart. He might have to work with the guy, but he didn't have to take it at home, too. Walking up to the door and preparing to deliver his best Colonel voice to deter whomever was there, he swung it open with a great deal of force to find his Major standing there.
She stepped back at the suddenness of the door swinging open, not to mention the sight of one shirtless Jack O'Neill. Dripping wet. Shirtless and dripping wet. Just a towel. And wet. And shirtless. Oh god, think of something else, "Nice towel." Doh!
He blew out his breath. He had taken his bad mood out on her enough for one day, "I wasn't expecting you." Obviously.
"Sorry, Sir. I should have called first. I can come back later, when you're - dressed." Although it wouldn't be as nice a view... She turned around to walk back to her car.
She turned again.
He softened, "Sam. Just come in. It will only take me a minute to change." He held open the door for her in invitation.
She hesitantly walked past him into the house. Trying very hard not to notice that he only had on a towel. And was still wet. 'Good god, Sam. Get laid already!'
"I'll be right back. Help yourself to whatever's in the frig."
A beer would be good. Not enough. But good. She wasn't entirely sure what her motives were for coming over, but his mood earlier had really thrown her, and she couldn't get this feeling out of her gut that something was wrong between them. Whatever was eating him, she wanted to know before their next mission.
He emerged from his bedroom in jeans and a sweater. He stole her beer off of the counter, "Thanks." He smiled and took a drink.
She smiled back and got another one for herself. Damn! He almost looked hotter dressed than half-naked. Almost. Damn! "Sorry to barge in like this, Sir, but I got the impression that you were upset about something earlier, and I thought maybe you would like to talk about it?"
"Since when have I wanted to talk about anything, Carter?" That sounded harsh, and he hadn't meant it to. She was just being a friend. That was it- she was being a friend. And he wanted more. A lot more. But what if Jonas was trying to tell him that she did, too? And even if she didn't, she deserved better than this from him now.
She looked at the floor. Coming here was a mistake. He's right- since when has he wanted to talk about anything?
She looked so sad. God, he could be such an ass- without even trying, "I'm sorry. It's been a weird day. I guess I would just rather listen, that's all."
She brightened a little, "Listen to what?"
"I don't know. Anything. We don't really ever just talk. Like you and Daniel used to do. Or Daniel and me, for that matter."
"You and Daniel used to talk a lot?"
"Sometimes. Mostly I would listen, and he would talk."
"That sounds like Daniel." She smiled at the thought.
"I'm guessing when the two of you talked, you both actually - talked - though, right?"
"Something like that."
"Well, I'm not Daniel, but I can-"
"You don't have to be. Just be you."
"Okay." He motioned for her to sit on the couch, and he followed behind, sitting just a cushion away, turning slightly to face her.
She stared at the bottle in her hands for a few minutes, and then decided to just be upfront, "You seemed pretty mad at me earlier, and I'm not asking you to tell me about it if you don't want to, but I do want to know that everything's going to be OK, even if it isn't right now." She looked at him at the end of her ramble- half expecting to see anger or confusion, but all she got was something that resembled sadness, or resignation maybe. Emotions she was definitely not used to seeing in him.
"About earlier..." He was unsure how much to tell her. He didn't want her to know what he had thought about her and Jonas- how it made him feel. 'Jealous, Jack. Just admit it!' "I was, well..." This was hard. And with her. It felt like every word was a mistake waiting to happen. Especially given that he was the one trying to speak. New tactic, "Tell me about your mom."
She wasn't expecting that. Where in the hell had that come from? After 5 plus years, he wants to hear about her mom? "What do you want to know?"
"I don't know. Whatever you feel like telling me. What she was like. What you remember the most about her, what you miss." 'Just talk so I don't have to.'
And so she did. For what must have been hours, but barely felt like minutes, she talked about her mom, her dad, her brother. What it was like before and after the accident. How it affected her decision to go into the military. Everything she could remember about her mom and their relationship that had been cut much too short.
He listened. Really listened. He should have done this a long time ago. Before Jonas made him realize again that he lov-
"Sir? You haven't said anything for awhile."
"I was just supposed to listen, remember?"
"Right." But she had to know- he hadn't really answered her from before, about why he was mad. "Are we okay again?"
"We were always okay, Sam. Sometimes I'm just a jerk." A stupid, jealous, overbearing, overprotective, completely in love jerk.
She smiled. "Well, I'm sure that's more than you ever wanted to know about the Carter family. I should get going. Thanks for the beer." She started to get up, but felt his hand on her arm. It was the softest touch, but a brick wall couldn't have sent her sitting back on the couch with more force. She just looked at him. There was obviously something more that he wanted to say.
He just looked at her. Those eyes. Blue. Never ending pools of blue. She deserved more than this life had given her so far. More than him. But if there was a chance she wanted him anyhow, then he was going to do his best to be worthy. As worthy as he could be. "Jonas told me you had this story about your parents deciding to get married." He waited expectantly.
"Jonas told you that? I didn't know the two of you had gotten to be so chummy." She was glad if they had. Jonas really respected him.
"We're working on it. So, tell me what Dad did to get your mom to say "yes'."
"Nothing really. It's kind of silly, actually." She started to fidget with her bottle. Obviously embarrassed.
Jack wondered why Jonas would want him to hear this story if it didn't mean something, "Come on. I promise not to laugh."
She pulled herself together and recounted her mom's dream again. This time her eyes got a little teary. Maybe it was the beer. Maybe it was that Sam had similar dreams over the past few years. Only instead of Jacob's eyes in the crying baby, they were Jack's. That was when she had been certain that her feelings for him were real. The first dream came while he was on Edora. The second didn't come until much later, after those damn armbands. There were a few others since then, all neatly filed away in her head. Waiting for a future that she could not know.
She looked sad, and hopeful at the same time. He knew she didn't let her emotions show very often. But he still didn't get why Jonas thought this story was so important. So, her mom had this dream about having kids with her dad. That probably happened a lot, right? Hell, he had dreams like that once he found out Sara was pregnant with Charlie. He remembered feeling so close to her then- like nothing could come between them. And even if it did, they would at least have Charlie. Only it didn't work out that way. It had been so long since he had let himself think of a future at all. Let alone with anyone. And with kids? Only lately he had been thinking just that. About a future. With her. And dare he even imagine it, with their kids? He knew, absolutely knew, they would have blue eyes. Or was that even possible since his were brown? He wished, not for the first time since he met her, that he had paid far more attention in science class. He chuckled out loud.
Sniffling a little and brushing away a stray tear, she asked "What's so funny?"
"I was just wondering what the rules were about hair and eye color. You know, like what were the odds that you would end up with blue eyes and blond hair? You don't really look like Jacob much."
"Do you really want me to tell you that?" She smiled. He may have wanted to listen to her talk, but she doubted he wanted to hear science stuff, too.
"Nah- I guess we'll just be surprised." He didn't even realize what he'd said.
She did. "Ssurprised at what?" Her voice shaky.
He still didn't get it. "At what color eyes and hair our ki-" He got it.
She stared at him with eyes as wide as were physically possible, "Our kids?" It was barely a whisper.
He could deny it, and lie to them both in the process. Or he could laugh it off as a big mistake. But hadn't he just decided she deserved better than the crap he normally dished out as meaningful conversation. So, the truth won out. Not because he was ready. Not because he wasn't afraid. But because it was the truth. And she deserved at least that much from him. It was really all he could give her anyway, "I was just thinking..."
"Oh." Stunned. Speechless. Scared. Stupefied. Silence. A deep breath and then, "I've thought, too."
If the room hadn't been perfectly quiet. He wouldn't have heard her. But it was, and he did. "Yeah?"
"When did you start - thinking?"
"A while ago. You?"
"About then." No point in getting too specific, right?
"I really should go."
"Please don't." His eyes were pleading with hers.
"We both know where this conversation is going. And it's going to end up in the regulations."
"Screw the regs." He meant it.
She could tell. "Screwing the regs means screwing up our careers. It means giving up the fight and letting down a lot of people. Maybe even each other."
"So what then?"
"I don't know." She had gone from the heights of joy to the depths of despair in a minute, and was stuck in the latter.
"I know I don't want to go on hiding what I feel for you. I don't think I can anymore."
"I don't want to either. But we don't have a lot of choices here."
"We'll figure something out." They had to.
"'Love will find a way?' Is that it?" She was laughing at the simplicity of the phrase turned into a sappy love song.
Now it was his turn to be astounded, "Love?"
"Oh, so you're allowed to think about what our kids would look like, but I'm not allowed to say the 'L' word?" She was almost back to feeling joy again. There had to be a way.
"You can say it. I'm just amazed that you could feel that for me."
"Would you like a list?"
"Is that your way of getting me to talk?"
"Is it working?"
"Yeah, I guess it is." He smiled. They were them again. Only better. He didn't know what the future held, but he was pretty sure there was one. He made a mental note to thank Jonas in the morning. Maybe that guy wasn't so bad after all.