Fandom: Stargate: SG-1
Timeline/Spoilers: post-"Homecoming", pre "Lost City"
Notes: For qwirky in the sjficathon. Her requests (as always) at the end. Thanks to ladybeth and scrollgirl for being fantabulous betas. Apologies for posting this... 37 minutes early, but I need to get to bed and I'm impatient!
Summary: Some things never change.
Sam's car won't start. It's an ugly, gray winter day, the kind that promises snow but doesn't follow through. The snow already on the ground is brown with dirt and yellow with urine from the yappy suburban dogs that trot over her yard every day on daily walk to nowhere. She taps the accelerator anxiously, then pops the hood. There's nothing to be done. The snow refuses to fall and the car refuses to start.
"Got car trouble?" calls a gruff older man with two golden dogs in tow. She nods at him rhetorically, and he continues down the block, his long blue scarf waving goodbye to her. The starter fluid hasn't frozen, and she doesn't have time to give the engine a more thorough inspection. She takes out her cell, calls her mechanic, then Colonel O'Neill.
"My car won't start," she tells him. "Literally." A long time ago, they had a code, and "my car won't start" meant "I want to have sex, preferably immediately," but she doesn't want to get into that now, just wants to get to the SGC and start looking at possible missions for next week, divvying up research for the techs. It's funny, she's lost count of how many months it's been. There was a time when she called every on-world morning, for weeks in a row, to tell him her car wouldn't start. She spent a lot of mornings in the passenger seat of his truck, not talking. She always worried that they'd be so late to work that General Hammond would start to wonder. But he never did. If they went a morning without stolen kisses on exposed snatches of skin, without her quickie, she felt itchy and irritable all day. Now it's been so long she's lost track of the months. Years.
"Car trouble?" the Colonel asks. He sounds suspicious.
"Really," she assures him. "Will you give me a ride?"
There's a long pause and she's afraid she's come too close to a taboo. But finally he says, "Sure. No problem."
The ride to Cheyenne Mountain is silent, as in her memories. Once, maybe about four months after they first slept together, she thought his hand fondling the gear shift was too much, that they had to pull over, that she had to pull her shirt off and give herself to him, the wanton, desperate girl she never was as a teenager. And they did. They pulled over and made love three feet from the road, hidden by overgrown brush and tall trees that threatened to topple any minute.
Reminding Jack of this would be emotional suicide.
"Here we are." the Colonel says. "Would you look at the meter? You owe me ten bucks." She laughs, and that makes him laugh too, easily. They make their way down together, sliding their IDs a dozen times. At every checkpoint, Sam says, "My car broke down," and a dozen SFs tell her "That's too bad, ma'am. Anything I can do?" She feels they all must know, must think this is a ruse, and she's more cautious now than she was three years ago. There must be some clue in her expression, something in the way she speaks, some indication that she's not innocent.
"I'm going to go find Daniel. I'll send him to the lab when I'm done with him. You can tell him all about your car." She looks up, but his expression is even. No indication that he remembers the hurried kiss he gave her in this elevator seconds before the door opened on level 28, the kiss that turned into an embrace that they pulled away from, guilty, startled, in front of Teal'c.
She can't concentrate on her work, and planets start to blur together in her mind, something that only happens when she's very tired or distracted. Usually each world they visit is as distinct in her memory as her lovers -- all three of them -- but this morning, the trees of one world are just trees, not unique indigenous flora.
"Hey Sam." Daniel looks surprisingly happy, almost bouncing into her lab. His hands are full of charts. "I've got my half done," he tells her. "I got in early." This is a code, too. It means Daniel never left work last night. It's a good sign -- he's recovered his memory, and he seems to be recovering his bad habits too.
"Sorry I'm late," she says, leafing through his papers absentmindedly. "My car wouldn't start."
"Jack said," Daniel says with a grin. "Quite a story, huh?"
"Not really. I tried to start my car. The engine didn't ignite; I didn't have time to look at it more closely. Colonel O'Neill drove me to work."
"Yeah." Daniel seems to be trying to remember something. "I remember he used to do that a lot."
"Oh." She feels like her father's caught her in a lie. "I have a lot of car trouble." She hopes he won't press the issue, but there really isn't any point in hoping. This is Daniel Jackson, after all, and he's never been known to stop questioning when he's latched onto an intriguing puzzle.
"Same car?" he asks, and, with a sigh, Sam spins on her stool so she can talk about it.
Now she remembers why they stopped, the week after Daniel died. Diedascendedwhatever. That's how he talked about, when he did, which wasn't often. No need to visit the Unas again, now that Daniel's deadascendedwhatever. Poker's just not the same since Daniel diedascendedwhatever.
She missed him through the week of impossible grief and endless phone calls to Daniel's contacts, missed the warmth of a body touching hers. When things calmed down somewhat -- when she felt almost normal enough to touch someone without flinching -- she called him. "My car broke down," she said, though she couldn't make the words sound flirty.
"That's too bad," he said. "Why don't you call a cab?"
"Sam?" She shakes her head; Daniel is looking concerned. "You were talking about your car. But that's okay; it's probably not that interesting, anyhow. Listen, I've got lots to talk to you about. This one planet," and he taps a large folder, "is really promising. Look it over, and let me know at lunch what you think of the chemical content of the air."
"Sure, Daniel." She smiles as brightly as she can and hopes Daniel buys it.
Daniel is hard to deceive, which ultimately is why they stopped. Jack said no first, of course, but Sam agreed, after a month or two. It wouldn't be fair of them. With Daniel around, there was always the feeling that they were clever and careful to get away with it, that the lengths they had to go to were an indication of how much they loved each other, how far they'd go to be together. It was an elaborate game, intended mostly for Daniel's benefit -- he was closer to them than Hammond, and it would be harder to explain themselves to him if he found out. Hammond would lecture them, of course, but Daniel would look at them.
But with only Teal'c watching them... they tried, once, a few weeks after Daniel's deathascensionwhatever. Off-world, which was never possible with Daniel around. But Teal'c kept watch. If he knew, and of course he did, he never said anything. Because he didn't think it was important, or because he realized it was. Sam never asked him, wouldn't dare. So they stayed in the tent and kissed as quietly as they could. She felt the familiar sensation of falling when he let his tongue through her lips, but when he started to unzip her, she felt her grief-guilt too heavily, and put her hand over his, whispered no.
With Jonas around, it was even worse, because deceiving him would have been too easy, and Jonas, bubbling and earnest and young, wouldn't have cared if he had known. It was remarkably easy to look at Jack and not want to kiss him, and Sam told herself that she was growing away from him, didn't need his love anymore.
But this was -- and is -- a lie. It's a persistent lie, and has worked its way into her heart, but she knows it's a lie. Her heart beats too quickly when she sees him in civilian clothes for this to be platonic love, and she's spent too much time this morning ignoring Daniel's data to think she's fallen out of love. His hand on a gearshift is still arousing. His bad jokes are still funny.
That afternoon, he swings by her lab a little too casually. He does this often enough that she doesn't really take notice until he sits next to her, gives his stool a couple of good swivels, and says, "You think your car will be in the shop awhile?"
"Probably," she nods. "I'll give my mechanic a call in a few hours."
"Tomorrow I'll come by your place early," he says. "We can get breakfast."
They have a breakfast place, an ugly diner with huge red tables and ten-page menus, that seems to be made for clandestine Danishes. It's been a long time since they've been there -- not since the one night they spent together. They had two days of leave and Sam spent the first day working, but Jack came by with videos and a huge pizza, and they ate their slices in front of a movie about aliens set on destroying Earth, with bad science that made her cringe and bury her head against Jack's shoulder. Before the movie was half over, they kissed, and the kisses moved from lips to collarbone to breasts, and then they were making love, once again. First on her couch, then her bed, and then, late that night, in the kitchen. She thought they both knew this was their only chance at her house, and Jack wanted to christen every room. Two weeks later, Daniel died (ascendedwhatever).
The breakfast place has added an entire page of omelettes to the menu and started serving lunch all day, but their booth hasn't changed at all -- there is still a tiny hole in the seat on her side where foam pokes through, still a scratch on the table that reminds her of the point of origin on Chulak. The waitress who waits impatiently for them to make up their minds is of the same mold as the waitress who grumpily gave them endless refills that last day of their last leave before Kelowna.
Sam wants coffee and fruit; Jack orders his coffee then stares at the menu for a good minute (possibly intentionally to annoy Anita the waitress) before asking for chocolate cake. "Make it a big piece," he says. "I'm hungry."
"Cake isn't breakfast food," Sam tells him, but he just shrugs. They sit in silence, sipping bad coffee and staring at the table, then Sam tries again. "I'm sorry about my car," she says. "I'm putting you out of your way."
"Not a problem," he says, and she can feel the sincerity in his voice.
"Maybe we should talk," she suggests, but of course they won't.
Sex with Jack is complicated and stupid, Sam reminds herself, because she desperately wants to crawl across the table and kiss him, as desperate as the first kiss, just weeks after they met, as needy as the first kiss before they first made love, a surprising dip in self-control for both of them on a perfectly ordinary drive to her house when her car really had, as now, been out of commission.
"This is really good coffee," Jack says. "Think we could get them to make this on base?"
Sam doesn't even know what to say to that. "You're kidding, right?"
"Would I joke about something as serious as coffee?"
Sam doesn't have a therapist, of course. If she had an Air Force appointed shrink, she couldn't tell him about Jack, and if she had a civilian, she couldn't tell her about the SGC. Either way, it would be pointless. But she sometimes imagines she has a therapist named Martha. When Martha asks what it's like to make love with her commanding officer, Sam tells her, "Sex with Jack is... complicated."
The fantasy never gets any further than that. A real therapist would probably ask her to elaborate, but Martha never presses, so Sam doesn't know whether she approves of their relationship or not.
Jack offers her a bite of cake. "Chocolate," he says, waving the fork in front of her nose. "It's good."
She takes the cake of his fork -- bait -- and he's right, of course. It's delicious, and she wishes she'd had more to eat than a bowl of fruit. When Anita comes to refill their coffee, Sam tells her she'll have a piece of cake, too.
"I'll take another," Jack adds. "Extra icing." He looks away from Anita to grin at Sam.
Eating cake with Jack should be uncomfortable, especially since all she's been thinking about for the past two days is having sex with him and why she stopped, but Jack's devotion to his cake is remarkably calming. So she focuses on eating her cake and drinking her coffee, sipping around the chip in her mug. "Hey, you've got something on your..." Jack gestures towards the bottom of his own face, but before she can wipe it off with her oversized napkin, his finger is under her chin. He recovers a piece of icing and slips it into her mouth, letting his finger stay there just a fraction of a second too long.
"More coffee?" Anita asks, clearly bored.
"No thanks," Jack says. "The bill."
Before Sam can ask him why they're leaving, he has his cell phone out. "Hey, sir. O'Neill here." He's called Hammond, then. "Postpone the briefing, willya? Carter and I will be maybe an hour -- make that an hour and a half." Another pause. "Yeah." He winks at Sam. "My truck won't start."
qwirky requested cake, winter, anything else the author wants, no rape, any character bashing, or the use of stupid nicknames