Sam jerks awake, unsure as to what as disturbed her. She hasn’t had a nightmare, no one has commed her, there’s no alarm going off; in short, absolutely nothing untoward is happening. Then she turns her head and discovers two unsettling things.
The first is that Baal is no longer in bed and she has no idea where he is.
The second is the cringe-worthy realisation it’s the fact he’s gone that’s woken her.
Grabbing his pillow, she buries her groan in the cool softness. That it smells of him has nothing to do with anything. She tosses the pillow aside and shoves up on one elbow, reaches to her nightstand and recovers her headset.
“John?” she says into the microphone.
“Hey Sleepyhead, what’s up? Thought today of your day off?”
She grimaces. “I’m the leader of Atlantis – I don’t get a day off. Especially since…” Her eyes slide to the empty side of the bed. “Um. I don’t suppose you happen to know where Baal is?”
There’s a short pause followed by what sounds like a muffled laugh. “You lost a light-fingered Goa’uld on Atlantis? Should I start the evacuation?”
“That’s not funny, John.” Her mind is already conjuring up the number of systems he might be ‘adjusting’ or the trouble he is more than likely getting into. “I take that as a no.”
“Nope. Hang on, I’m at the tower. Hey Chuck! We’ve a Goa’uld incommunicado. No one’s dialled out lately, have they?”
“No, Colonel Sheppard,” Chuck’s voice floats over the headset. “But I have seen Baal this morning. He was talking to McKay.”
“Oh God,” Sam says at the same time as Sheppard. The pissing contest that marked the scientist’s early relationship with the ex-System Lord was a pain in the ass, but since McKay started dating Jennifer it’s been worse – they’ve become friends. And having two men that share a penchant for explosions in close proximity has proved… interesting.
“On my way,” John tells Sam, and she can hear the rapid fall of his feet as he races towards Rodney’s lab. “Am I allowed to shoot him?”
Sam attaches the headset and then grabs her pants. “If they’re building another bomb, you have my permission to shoot the pair of them,” she snaps. Panic floods her, and not purely concern for the fate of the city. “Non-fatal shots, mind.”
“No. Idea. What,” John gasps. “You. See. In. Him.”
She isn’t either right now. She chooses not to answer, but yanks her tank over her head instead. John needs to shoot him just so she’s not tempted. Damn him, why can’t he stay out of trouble for more than a couple of days? Seriously, sometime it’s more like she’s babysitting a vexatious toddler than dating a two thousand year old being.
Finally dressed, Sam bolts the distance from their quarters to McKay’s lab. When she arrives, the scientist is rather wide eyed but unharmed. He holds his hands up as she skids through the door.
“He’s not here!” he more or less yelps. “Tell Sheppard to put the gun away!”
Sam grinds her teeth, but waves a hand at John. “Do you know where he is?” she asks Rodney. Annoyance is vying with concern and coming out second best. “Chuck said he talked to you earlier.”
“Yeah, he was asking about the piers.”
He was… “What?” she asks, blinking. “Why?”
“I have no idea. All I do know was that he asked which was most accessible and then asked about sharks.” Rodney shrugs. “I told him about the whales, but he didn’t seem very interested.”
Sam is utterly confused. “Sharks?”
“Maybe he went swimming,” John suggests.
It’s no doubt a factious remark, but something reverberates through Sam. The symbiote is an aquatic creature, so perhaps he’s on to something. She looks at Rodney.
“So which pier is the most accessible?”
With no wind, the ocean surface barely ripples and the almost smooth surface reflects the rising sun like a mirror. Sam breathes in the pure, clean air and lets it out slowly. Behind her, Atlantis glitters against the darker half of the sky – it lightens as it arches to the north east, the paler blue peppered with apricot clouds.
Her gaze drops to the water. Higher than the water line, she doubts that he can see her, though feeling is another matter. Not that he’s given any indication of it as he strokes effortlessly, bronzed skin glittering. Sam wets her lips and sinks to the cool pier surface, perfectly content to just sit and watch him swim. Especially since his packing neglected the inclusion of swim shorts.
Chin propped on one fist, she watches Baal slice through the water. She’s had several occasions to admire the athletic build of the host body and now she has an inkling as to how he keeps in shape. She wonders if it’s something of the host or of the symbiote, or whether it’s long stopped mattering, like a lot of other things. Being with him has been very much an eye-opener as far as her understanding the Goa’uld. Well, him – he is unique, despite the fact that there’s probably at least one clone out in the universe somewhere.
Time slides by. The sun inches up. Baal shows no sign of wearying, mostly because of his inhuman strength, but Sam is getting bored. She watches him approach, cruising lazily through the water like the sharks he asked Rodney about, and feels a tug. It’s either him or the water, or a combination of both – she can’t remember the last time she went swimming and the clear blue ocean is terribly inviting.
“Are you going to sit there all day, or are you coming in?” he calls up, treading water. “I was unsure whether McKay was truthful about the lack of predatory fish, but I haven’t been eaten yet.”
“Surprising,” she notes, gaze drifting below the waterline. “Since you look rather appetising from up here.”
His mouth spreads in a wide grin. “If you want a taste, then you are going to have to come in.”
That decides her. Sam pushes her off training shoes and then scrambles to her feet. Baal backpedals through the water to get a better view of her as she strips. She rolls her eyes but doesn’t bother turning her back – he’s seen it all before, several times. Soon her clothing is in a neat pile besides his and she’s descending the ladder built into the structure of the pier.
The water is cool, but not unpleasantly so. It’s so clean that it feels like wet silk against her skin. Sam brings her feet up, places them on the pier and then shoves backwards, propelling herself through the water. Warm hands halt her progress. She starts to smile, but then they push down and she is unceremoniously dunked.
She comes up spitting water and curses. Baal laughs and simply pushes himself out of reach. Sam shoves hair out of her eyes and glares. “Bastard,” she gasps, her throat still aching from coughing. “That was not funny.”
“I believe that depends on your point of view,” he states, smirking at her. She slaps a hand down, splashing water in his general direction. He returns fire and there is a short, chaotic fight that ends when Sam gets a cramp.
Baal comes to her rescue, manfully towing her back to the pier and dragging her onto dry… well, not land, but the metal arm suffices. She lies on one side, coughing up water as he rubs her back. The warmth of the sun eases the pain in her leg. Feeling like an utter idiot, she rolls onto her back and blinks sunlight out of her eyes, trying to focus on the man kneeling at her side.
“Not one word,” she warns him, fully expecting a litany of failures by her gender, species and God only knows what else. “That was your fault.”
“I was not going to say anything,” Baal returns mildly. “Except to inquire as to whether you needed resuscitation.”
Shock emerges as something between a snort and a choked laugh that sets her wheezing again. Baal’s smirk dissolves into concern. He pulls her into a sitting position that just happens to include being pressed against his chest, and proceeds to pat her back. Hard.
“Okay, okay,” she gasps, wincing at a heavier blow. “I’ll recover quicker if you don’t break my spine.”
“Sorry.” He strokes her back. She closes her eyes and rests her head on his shoulder. “Are you better now?”
Sam smiles and slides her arms around his waist. “Hm.”
“That did not entirely go to plan.”
“Not entirely? So what did?”
“Well, you are naked.”
She pulls back with a laugh. “You? Are incorrigible.” He grins at her and she shakes her head. “Okay, I want to get dry and dressed. Where are the towels?”
Baal stares at her. “Where are the what?”
Sam groans. “Oh, tell me you brought a towel! How else were you planning on drying off?”
“Well, I was going to just sit and let the sun dry me.” A wicked smile makes the corners of his eyes crinkle. “Or we could try friction.”
“I am not having sex on a pier, Baal.”
“But it’s on my list.” He pouts and she wonders what else is on that list. However, sometimes ignorance is bliss so she chooses not to ask. “You are mostly dry now, anyway."
He is, she supposes, right enough. She stands and pads back to the piles. Dressing quickly, she realises that Baal is still sat, still mother naked, watching her every movement from heavy-lidded eyes. It’s an expression she knows all too well and her body responds; nipples hardening and hot arousal rushing downwards to dampen her knickers.
“Stop it,” she berates him.
“Whatever am I doing, Samantha?”
Oh God. Her stomach flips at the way he says her name. He really knows where her buttons are. She tosses his trousers at his head, glaring at him. “You know exactly and it’s not going to work. Everyone knows we’re together. They don’t need irrefutable proof.” She frowns. “Well, not that kind, anyway.”
Baal smirks. “Is there another kind?”
Sam freezes. While they’ve discussed their relationship in terms of longevity, they haven’t discussed… formalising it. She reckons that would be proof enough for anyone, but whether he would want it – whether she wants it – is an entirely different matter. And even though there’s a very knowing expression on Baal’s face, Sam shies away from voicing her thoughts.
“Oh… hush up and get dressed. I want my breakfast.”
He laughs, but wanders over. Sam refuses to acknowledge the slight disappointment of seeing those toned, sun-browned limbs disappearing into the shirt and trousers. A sigh escapes her regardless. Amusement flickers over his face, but for once he doesn’t mention her reaction.
Once he is dressed, he offers her his arm. It’s an oddly chivalrous gesture and she smiles as she slips her hand around his forearm. “I think,” he says as the stroll casually back to the city’s hub. “That we should do that again, though perhaps next time you should avoid nearly drowning.”
“It was nice up to that point,” she agrees. “And it is good exercise.”
“I know something else that is good exercise,” he notes and she sighs. He is like a dog with a bog when he’s in this mood, and there’s not much point in trying to stave off what is eventually going to happen anyway.
“Breakfast,” she says firmly. “Then we can go back to our quarters and… um, discuss exercise.”
“I can go with that plan.”
Sam rolls her eyes at his pleased tone. She briefly considers getting him his own room, with a lock on the door, but she woke up because something deep within her missed his presence. If she kicks him out, it’s likely she won’t get any sleep at all. And it’s hardly an unpleasant way to spend her downtime.
“Yes,” she says and squeezes his arm. “I’m fairly sure that you can.”