Sam poked her head into Jim’s office, expecting to see him there since he wasn’t on the mission roster, and he hadn’t been in the gateroom when she returned. Instead, Stranger was behind Jim’s desk, typing away on Jim’s computer. He looked up immediately when Sam cleared her throat.
“Ma’am,” he said, immediately getting to his feet. “Can I help you with something?”
“I was hoping you’d be able to tell me where Major Ellison could be found,” she replied.
Stranger grimaced. “General Hammond ordered Dr. Sandburg to take him home. He was drilling newbies on the firing range this morning.”
He left it at that, and Sam knew immediately that Jim likely wound up with a migraine. Sometimes he got through lessons just fine, with maybe a bit of a headache, but other times it knocked him for a loop. But Jim was one of the best instructors for the newer recruits who needed to be taken down a peg or two, so General Hammond kept using him.
Sam worried about that sometimes—worried that Jim’s abilities would continue putting him in harm’s way, but that was true of all the best and brightest at the SGC. At least everyone knew that Hammond and O’Neill would be leading the charge, and would protect their people to the best of their abilities.
“What time was that?” Sam asked.
Stranger looked at his watch. “That was about two hours ago.”
Sam quickly did the math and realized that she had time to grab food at the wing place Jim and Blair liked so much. She’d been spending more at Jim’s place since Daniel’s death, and Blair had become a good friend.
And Sam could admit that she was falling in love with Jim, in spite of the difficulties inherent in their relationship.
“Thank you, Captain,” she said.
Stranger opened his mouth, closed it, and then said, “I know it’s not my place to say, Major, but Major Ellison seemed very disappointed not to be able to stick around for your return. He argued with General Hammond about leaving.”
Sam’s eyes widened. Jim rarely argued with a commanding officer. Sometimes he went ahead and did what he thought was best, but even then, he worked around orders; he didn’t buck them. “What did the general say?”
“He said he understood the major wasn’t quite himself and ordered him to see Dr. Frazier before he left the base,” Stranger replied. “The doc and I hustled him out of there pretty quickly after that.”
Sam smiled. “I appreciate the information, Captain.”
Stranger nodded. “Of course, ma’am.”
Sam hadn’t dated anybody else on base in the past, and she had never experienced the proprietary interest from members of her significant other’s team.
The SGC could be a pressure cooker, and it was tough to date outside of the program because of the secrecy. Plenty of people dated inside the SGC, and she’d heard others talk about the reactions of other team members to significant others.
She wondered what the response would be if she and Jim ever broke up, but she didn’t like thinking about that, so she pushed the thought away.
Things were good for now, and she wanted to keep it that way.
Sam had spent enough time with Jim and Blair that she knew what their favorite orders were, and if Jim was dealing with a sensory spike, he’d want his wings plain.
Food in hand, she parked in front of Jim’s house and knocked on the door softly, not wanting to cause him any additional pain from an unexpected doorbell.
Blair had a frown on his face when he opened the door, but his expression swiftly cleared. “Hey,” he said. “Shit, we didn’t leave you a note, did we?”
“You did, just not in writing,” Sam replied with a smile. “Captain Stranger told me what happened.”
Blair smiled. “Yeah, Cory was there when General Hammond gave Jim the order to go home. I’m glad he was still around when you got back.”
“I brought food,” Sam said, lifting the bag. “I figured you probably wouldn’t have had time to make dinner yet.”
His smile grew into a grin. “You are my new favorite person. I don’t know that Jim will be hungry, but I definitely am.”
“Plain wings for him,” Sam said. “And they can go straight into the fridge for later.”
“You’re the best,” Blair replied. “Come on in. How did your mission go?”
“Not too bad,” Sam said. “It was basically a milk run. We have an established relationship with the Edorans, and they needed medical supplies.”
They didn’t talk about why SG-1 was sent on an easy mission, or the fact that they’d had to break the news to the Edorans that Daniel had died. Blair asked a question about the culture, and Sam told the story of their first mission there.
Sam felt herself relaxing. SG-1 was still a man down, although Sam knew O’Neill was under a lot of pressure to replace Daniel, possibly with a Russian. They were all still hurting over Daniel’s absence, and in some ways, it was easier to be around Blair and Jim, who had grieved, but not as deeply.
Both of them liked Daniel, but they hadn’t loved him the way SG-1 had, and when Sam was with them, she didn’t feel their grief the way she did with her own team.
Jim wandered out when Sam was on her second beer, and she and Blair were debating the dangerousness of various Goa’uld system lords. He wore a pair of gym shorts and a threadbare Army t-shirt, his feet bare, and he squinted in the light.
“I thought I heard your voice,” he said, bending down for a brief, nearly-chaste kiss on her lips. “Sorry I wasn’t around when you got back.”
“How are you feeling?” she asked.
He hitched a shoulder. “Janet gave me something, and it seems to have helped.” Jim looked at the remains of their dinners. “Did you save any for me?”
Blair beamed, probably because Jim actually had an appetite. “Yeah, man. Sam brought some plain wings for you. They’re in the fridge.”
Jim patted Blair on the shoulder and grabbed the Styrofoam container. He sat down at the table with them, not bothering to heat his food up, just falling on his meal as though he hadn’t eaten in days.
Sam shared an amused look with Blair. “Did you not eat today?” she asked.
He shrugged. “Not since breakfast. Didn’t feel like eating lunch.”
“We were on new recruit duty all day,” Blair supplied. “You know how much Jim enjoys that.”
“There’s a price for competency,” Sam replied with a smile.
Jim sighed. “Don’t I know it. They’re a good bunch of kids, though. I didn’t have to come down too hard on them.”
“What he means is that his reputation now precedes him,” Blair joked. “All of them were in awe before they ever saw Jim in person, and then they saw him on the firing range.”
Jim grimaced. “I’m not that good.”
“Excuse me?” Sam asked. “You don’t get the reputation you guys have undeservedly.”
Jim made a noncommittal noise and went back to his food, and Blair shook his head and shrugged, a clear signal that Jim wasn’t going to be moved on this subject.
“Do you have a mission tomorrow?” Blair asked.
Sam shook her head. “No, we’re off the next couple of days.”
Jim glanced at her, looking as though he wanted to say something, but it was Blair who said, “You’re welcome to stay tonight, Sam. I’m making waffles tomorrow.”
“Thanks,” Sam said, glancing at Jim.
Jim met her eyes. “Stay.”
“Well, waffles for breakfast sound good to me,” Sam replied.
Blair excused himself soon after, claiming that he needed to get some reading done before turning in for the night.
“How are you doing really?” Sam asked.
Jim shrugged. “Janet worked her miracle on me. I’m feeling better, but still not 100%. How are you doing?”
Sam stared down at the wood grain of the table. “I’m okay.”
Jim reached out and covered her hand with his own. “Anything I can do?”
“I’d really like if I didn’t have to sleep alone tonight,” Sam admitted. “But I should probably be asking you that.”
He squeezed her hand. “What’s a little headache? I’ve had worse.”
“Is that your answer to everything?” she joked.
“To everything other than grief,” Jim replied.
Sam held onto his hand tightly, not wanting to talk about it. “Blair is remarkably cool with all of this.”
“Blair wants me to be happy,” Jim said. “And you make me happy.”
Sam leaned in close and kissed him gently, rubbing her thumb along his cheekbone, and she thought if she could just have this—if she could just have Jim, no matter how difficult things were sometimes, no matter how fragile their relationship sometimes seemed—she could be happy.
“Same here,” she murmured. “And since you look like shit, we should probably go to bed.”
Jim chuckled. “You say the sweetest things.”
But then he let his head rest against her shoulder, and they hung onto each other, both hurting in their own ways.
And maybe, in a way, that made them perfect for each other.