Sam flips her cell closed and the tears start to fall again, unwelcome and uncontrollable. The realisation of what's she’s just done, the enormity of having to tell a child that they’re an orphan, again, and that Uncle Daniel will be taking her home with him for the night, hits her in the chest, the force of it stealing the air from her lungs once more.
The phone behind her springs to life and she jumps, startled at the sudden loud intrusion in her small quiet somber lab.
“Carter” she says quietly.
“Major, you asked to be kept apprised of any progress, and well, the Colonel is awake. He’s asking for you Ma’am.”
She walks towards the private infirmary quarters and nods politely at Airman Noble, who has clearly just left the room, as she passes.
She takes a deep breath, knocks gently and enters, closing the door behind her.
“Sir, I heard you were up and around.”
She watches as his hands carefully pull his tee shirt over his bandaged abdomen and is hit with the image of him falling to the ground, still, quiet and for all she knew, lifeless. Every drop of blood had seemed to drain from her body in that instant. She’d been trained to deal with any scenario, but her love for this man had over ridden any and all training. She had broken cover and ran to him.
“Yeah, still a little tender, but they said I can go home.“
Her mind races. She mutters something about the new vest insert working well and closes her eyes when he asks how Cassie is.
“Sir”, she says, and he stills.
“I just wanted to say...when you were lying there...”
She can feel the emotions rising to the surface again and she blinks to try to quell the tears forming in her eyes. She looks away, bites her lip and blows out a small breath. Like she’s steeling herself for what she needs to confess. Her eyes find him again and she notices that his gaze is fixed on her, searching her face.
“...I’m really glad you’re ok.” She swallows a small sob and looks away again, nodding, then returns her eyes to him.
He stares at her. She’s looking at the floor but she looks tired, broken. He takes three small steps towards her. His eyes fall from her eyes to her lips and back again and he reaches for her.
“C’mere” he says quietly and pulls her into his arms. She wants him to envelop her, to take away her pain, to whisper that everything will be ok, but instead he holds her closer than he’s ever done before. She feels warm for the first time in hours. He lowers his head to her neck, nuzzles in and whispers “Sam” into her skin.
She lifts her head from his shoulder and he kisses her. A soft, slow, gentle kiss that pulls her back from the brink and anchors her back onto solid ground. It’s unexpected and inconceivable but there is no hesitation when she kisses him back. His lips are every bit as warm and soft as she’s imagined so many times before, his embrace every bit as comforting. His tongue is slowly tangling with hers, and she feels like every cell in her body is suddenly awake and standing to attention. Sam knows they are taking refuge in each other and that neither will stop unless the other does.
She breaks contact. He isn’t expecting it and still has his eyes closed when she leans her forehead against his.
“Sir” , she whispers. “Would you like me to drive you home ?”
She’s had her taste and knows what she needs from him, what they need from each other. Yes, there are rules about what she’s silently proposing, but there are exceptions to every rule. They are the exception to this one.
He lowers his head and kisses her, hard and determined.
“Yes Carter,” he replies, understanding what she’s not saying, “I would like that a lot.”