Newton's first law of motion states that a body at rest tends to remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. This is one we all learn as children. Kick a ball and it moves. Take a feather and tickle your sleeping brother's nose, and he gets up and chases you around the house until your mother yells at you to stop making so much racket. Even if you don't know the name for it, you know what it is.
There are often so many things like that, things you know backwards and forwards and all the way around, but you don't know what to call them. For seven years, Colonel O'Neill--Jack--and I danced around a bunch of terms that never quite categorized what invisible thread tied us together. We'd gone far beyond commanding officer and second, but certainly we weren't lovers. "Friends" seemed pathetically inadequate after all we had been through together. And whatever we had, it sure as hell didn't fall under the heading of "brother/sister relationship."
So we left it unnamed and unspoken, pretending that by not giving it a name, we could continue to ignore it until a more convenient time. We were bodies at rest, and it wasn't so bad. For every lonely night in a too-big bed with too-cold sheets, there were secret smiles, casual touches carefully timed to look accidental, looks that lingered just a bit too long. You know that boulder on the edge of a cliff that every single physics book ever written uses to illustrate the concept of potential energy? We were that boulder, trembling with anticipation of rolling off the cliff. One touch, one minute application of force from outside our system, would set us moving.
Our outside force came in the form of the single silver star that replaced the eagle on each of Jack's shoulders. As Generals Hammond and Vidrine pinned the stars on each side, Jack looked at me with a yearning expression that was made up half of hope and half of fear. We'd gotten good at staying in the same place year after year, and neither of us was sure we could deviate from our course.
We'd forgotten Newton's first, though. The outside force had been applied, and we are all subject to the laws of physics. The amount of inertia we'd built up kept us in place for a while; for a time, we even became *more* professional with each other. I tacked "sir" on after every sentence, and he called me "Major" more often than "Carter." We knew we were one of the biggest sources of rumor and gossip on the base; we couldn't take our new freedom and run with it, not yet.
But gradually we relearned how to act around each other. The knots we tied ourselves up in loosened and fell away, and three months after his promotion, Jack asked me to dinner. After letting all the old excuses run quickly across my brain in their familiar tracks, I said yes.
Tonight, the night of our six-month anniversary, we have a date for the same "little Italian place"--which just so happens to have lights so low you forget everyone but the person across from you exists, and tables so small that if you both look down at the same time, you practically bump heads. Jack isn't nearly as simple as he makes himself out to be.
"Sam?" Jack calls from the door to the bedroom. "You about ready?"
Startled, I nearly drop the earring I'm holding in my hand. I had been about to put it in, but my hand has drifted down to my lap while my mind wandered. "Just a minute." I stick the tiny ruby post in my ear and swiftly attach it to its gold back, then stand up from my perch on the edge of the bed.
Jack looks concerned when I face him. "You looked far away," he says. He told me once, late at night when we had curled together on this bed, the warm breeze tickling our skin as it followed the path the moonlight had made through the open window, that whenever I get the look on my face that says I'm oblivious to the outside world, he can't help flashing back to when the entity took up residence in my brain, leaving me only a dark little corner to call my own.
I smile to reassure him. "Just thinking."
"'Bout what?" he asks as I take the few steps that bring me close enough to touch him. His hands automatically go around my waist.
"Newton's first law." His tie is crooked. You'd think a career in the military would have left him with the ability to make ties hang mathematically straight, but apparently not. I pull it a little to the right until it points downward with scientific precision.
Jack makes a face at the mention of physics. "Sam, you realize that neither of us has to be at work for another thirty-six hours."
Oh, yes, I do, and I intend to make good use of every single one of them. My toes curl slightly just at the thought.
"Which one's the first law--objects sitting under apple trees tend to have apples fall on their heads?" He keeps a straight face, but it doesn't fool me.
"Jaaack," I drawl. "I know you know this. How'd you convince them to let you fly those death gliders if you didn't, hotshot?"
"Who needs to know what law action and reaction come from as long as you know what they do?" he asks, his voice getting softer with each word as he pulls me closer. "Speaking of reaction, if that's what you were going for with that dress, you're definitely getting one." He gives me a grin that borders on lecherous.
I grin back, slapping his bicep lightly before wrapping my arms around his neck. "And you're changing the subject."
"No." He leans in and gives me a kiss so full of promise that it makes me wonder if dinner wouldn't be better tomorrow, or perhaps sometime next week.
Eventually, though, he pulls away, smiling at the pout I can feel on my lips. "We don't get going, we're gonna miss our reservation," he says.
"All right," I agree reluctantly, loosening my embrace and allowing my arms to fall, trailing my fingers down the sleeves of his jacket as I do. "But we're continuing where we left off."
"Count on that." He flips the light switch. Before we leave the room, I feel his breath on my ear. "There aren't gonna be any objects at rest tonight."