I've been meaning to write this story since Unending came on TV. I've only now found any inspiration for it. A special thanks to Tumblr (and little-maddy-moo), for the collective opinion that there needs to be more Sam/Teal'c fic. And to Grand Empress and CJ for giving us something to work with. This is not smutty at all, because as much as I love S/T stuff in Unending, my S/J brain wouldn't let me write smut for these two. I don't know- I went to go there and just randomly got the Lumberjack Song in my head. Ironically, 'What's Love Got To Do With It' came on when I was writing it. Spooky.
Anyway, as always, enjoy! And let me know what you think.
It begins at the end of Elgar's Concerto in E minor.
She spends her days trying to find a solution, but like all the rest on this ship, she's mainly just finding ways to fill in the time. She hasn't lost hope; none of them have, really. But she's done the math, and done it again. It's one thing to rewrite the laws of physics, but even she knows that this won't be an easy solution.
So while Daniel and Vala entertain themselves with translating and learning each other, and Landry rediscovers his inner-botanist, and Cam and Teal'c fight themselves into oblivion, she sits in the control room running theories.
But not tonight. Tonight she is too tired. Bone tired. For every moment of joy and laughter, there are five of utter misery. It's been two years, and they're all sick of giving each other pep-talks, so they don't bother anymore.
On these days- days when her brain just won't kick into gear, or the thought of not home stings deep, or she misses lying on the grass in the sun with a good book- she sits and feels the music.
It's a skill she's had since she was a child, not that she tells people or really keeps up the practice. Under the watchful eye of her mother, she navigated black and white keys while Mark stuck to his trusty imitation Strat. The cello had been a love, but she'd never had the time or inclination to juggle two instruments with study and everything else, and after her mother died she lost interest in anything that didn't lead to space-travel. But here she has plenty of time and enough inclination to really give it a go, and so this has become her sanity- her last stop before they throw her in confinement without shoelaces.
He always finds her; looks for her. He always greets her with 'it has been a long day', and she always nods her agreement. She plays the music by ear, and she's sure it's probably wrong, but with time it still sounds like music, and so she just keeps marching on and he listens.
They've come to rely on each other by necessity. The six of them paired off fairly early, though Mitchell and the General are more like lone-wolfs going off to the far corners of the ship for days on end, and Daniel and Vala are rarely apart. The two that were left don't have the calm that comes with plant maintenance, or the desperate restlessness of a caged animal, and they don't have anyone else to go to at night, so they found each other and held on.
They're made of different stuff than the others. It doesn't look the same on the surface, especially given their backgrounds, but it leads to the same end. They are weary, and very bored, but mostly they tough it out the way they know best- with distraction and blind acceptance. After all, writing physics doctorates and bowing to false gods is nothing compared to this monotony. Still, the stagnation sets in, and there really only seems to be one path.
It begins as the bow lifts from the strings.
He loves to sit and listen, watching as she becomes immersed in the music, when all her guards come down. They usually sit and talk for a while, and sometimes she cries. He loves that she trusts him with that intimacy. He loves her, in his own way. And she him.
It's not the conventional star-crossed love of wistful gazes across the room and sensual caresses. It's not quite so passionate. In fact, it's not about passion at all. But it is love. Their own special brand. One born of that unique mix of friendship, loneliness and time, and in all honesty a decent amount of physical attraction. They're both strong, healthy, attractive adults after all. And there's a respect under it all that is frankly lacking in some of the most adoring of relationships.
Today there's a shift in the dynamic, and they know it's only been a matter of time.
She's crying by the end of the song, big hot tears dripping down her cheeks, and she may not even be aware of it. It all catches up to the two of them at the same time, in this same place, and really they have nowhere else to turn.
She hangs her head, and from where he's leaning against the console next to her, he reaches out and runs the back of his finger over the tear-tracks. She looks up, blinking long and slow, and the weight of their situation and the fact she put them here reflects back in every line of her drawn, pale face.
He takes her face in his hands, gently, and draws her up into his arms like so many times before. But she doesn't crack the way he expects. She doesn't cling to him, or break into sobs. She sighs heavily, her forehead resting against his chest, her hands resting gently on his waist. They stay that way for far too long, until she rolls her head a little from side to side, and looks up at him.
He holds her gaze longer than he's ever done before, with anyone. Most people look away when he looks at them, and gaping at someone so long and hard makes people uncomfortable, and the fact that she doesn't look away and doesn't shift under his unblinking stare speak volumes to their relationship.
They move at the same time, slowly but deliberately, and their lips meet.
It's slow, and sweet, and at first there is nothing in it but reverence. The many nights sitting in his room surrounded by candles; the many times they've been the last left at the dinner table; the countless other days this could have happened all contributed to this moment. They pull apart as slowly as they came together.
Teal'c walks her to her room, ever the gentlemen, and though he has no expectations, he's not surprised when she quietly takes his hand and pulls him with her, the door whooshing shut behind him.
They undress each other calmly and without words, and although their skin warms and their senses ignite, the actions are almost methodical. No buttons go flying, no garments get flung across the space, and when he wakes the next morning, she is curled on her side, slightly nuzzled into his shoulder. They don't really speak about it the next morning, or the morning after that, because they don't really need to, and if the others notice much of a change they have the decency to be discrete.
She plays Elgar, and he comments on the length of the day, and these are the queues. At first it's only when they need each other, because they both know that what they have is safe, and trusting, and won't fall apart like Daniel and Vala almost did because they're too much in love and have so much to lose. At first it's only because they need each other.
But the passing years turn into a decade, and they've now known each other as long on this ship as off it. They change. Everyone settles. The miracles they are so famous for don't come, and the ship is filled with more distraction than productivity. The telling thing is nobody seems to mind. Nobody but Mitchell, but he has his own ways of coping, and they leave him to it.
Over time the sporadic need becomes a constant longing, and though it takes many years, they come to acknowledge that it's love. They are not in love with each other the way the other lovers are, and ghosts still walk the halls begging to be remembered, but they do love each other enough to share their lives completely, and to move in together, and to call themselves lovers. To say they are together. To say I love you.
He is under no illusions, knowing another man should be in his place, and she feels no remorse utilising his strength and stamina to her own advantage. They are using each other to cope with this mess, but they're doing it in the nicest possible way, and that somehow absolves them; they don't bother asking forgiveness, and after a while they don't even feel guilty. They don't have pet-names because it doesn't feel right for either of them, though she does become Samantha. She retains 'Teal'c', and it adopts an intimacy when they are alone that means more than any fuzzy cuteness ever could. It's as far as they allow themselves to go, under these circumstances. And it is enough.
By the time he has to say goodbye he loves her deeply, for reasons than he's never known before. They say their own goodbye the night before, much as she doesn't want to, because he knows when he goes back everything will be different. She will be different. He will know the curve of her hip and the feel of her skin, and she will see nothing but a solid and trusted friend. It hurts more than he thought it would. The next day she presses the tiny crystal into his palm, leans up to kiss his cheek, squeezes his arm, holds his eyes with her own, smiles, and is gone.
And then they stand together in that gateroom, safe and young again, and things don't feel as different as he expected, and he knows that she will go home to the man she's in love with, and he's okay with that. It takes him less time to stop loving her than it did to succumb to his want in the first place, and when he ceases to see himself as a part of her whole, he rejoices that she is still his trusted friend. A part of him holds on to their time together; even a Jaffa cannot erase over forty five years. Some days, when she smiles just-so, or cocks her head at the right angle, or says his name at that particular pitch, he is flung mercilessly back onto that ship, and he smothers the response that seems natural. Mostly, though, he lets it all live in the past where it belongs.
She never finds out. He thinks, after a while, she has some idea of it, or at least a partial notion. She's the most intelligent person he's ever known, so it doesn't surprise him, but any curiosity she has about their time, beyond friendly ribbing, she keeps to herself, and his secret it taken with him, nobody the wiser.
He's glad of that.
When she retires with her former General many years later, he buys her a congratulatory gift of a cello and the complete works of Elgar.
Nothing more needs to be said.
M edesimo Tempo : to continue playing at the same tempo, regardless of changes in the time signature.