Sam’s initial relief at Daniel’s declaration that they were both on board and okay was enough for her to pass the important information onto the SGC, but then she needed to see for herself. She quickly made her way to the hold, desperate to breathe the same air as her friends. Once she was with them, she felt the beginnings of an itch originating in her chest and radiating out to her hands. She could see Jack taking life-saving breaths of the oxygenated air on her father’s ship, but she longed to feel his chest rise.
She fought back the urge. He may have almost died, but she was only just beginning to marshal her emotions after the events of the last several months, and she could ill afford any cracks in her fragile armor at the moment. So, she settled for being in his vicinity and watching him talk with her father as her relief battled with her guilt.
Jack was slowly catching up on everything as each breath sent more oxygen through his body. But even as his lungs registered relief and the fog in his brain began to drift away, he felt the exhaustion still deep in his bones. He shared an exchange with Jacob and then found Carter with his eyes, offering her a smile of gratitude before noting something a little off in the smile she offered in return. He barely had a moment to consider his observation before his head dipped and Carter quickly instructed Jacob and Daniel to get Teal’c and Jack into suitable positions to rest while she gathered oxygen tanks and masks. There was a flurry of activity before Jack passed pleasantly into slumber with a vague sense of Sam having tenderly placed a mask over his nose and mouth.
Sam spent a moment watching Jack sleep before she fled to the controls with her father, unable to sit and watch Jack recover from the near-death that she had caused. She should have been more thorough and careful. Her father was right, her excitement at the prospect of combining human and alien technology had caused her to take chances and the Colonel had been the one to pay the price. He and Teal’c had nearly been lost to her scientific ambition.
“You all right there Sam?”
Her father’s voice pulled her out of her own thoughts, and the gentle look he gave her made her wonder if he knew what she’d been thinking.
“Yeah dad, just tired and relieved. I’m so glad you were here.”
He gave her a wan smile. “I’m glad I could help. Why don’t you go back there?” he nodded towards the hold. “Get some sleep. I’ll get us back home safely.”
Sam cast a glance to the cargo hold before shaking her head, “No, I’m alright. Plus, I was kind of hoping you could show me a bit about how this ship works.”
Jacob tilted his head as he considered her words. What she said certainly fit with the daughter he knew, but there was something about her expression that was off. He was about to press her further when he watched her eyes dart and drop and decided she perhaps wasn’t in the frame of mind for prodding. “I’d love to. Where did you want to start?”
And with that, Sam and Jacob were able to pass away the time required for the return to earth. Sam absorbed everything Jacob and Selmak showed her, even if she was a bit distracted at times.
When they got back to the SGC, Jack and Teal’c were sent immediately to the infirmary. Once they were out of sight, Sam stopped at the end of the ramp to lean against the railing and take a few deep breaths. Jacob touched her back in concern and she pulled it together, mumbled something about being tired, and hurried off.
She tried to stop herself as long as she could from running to the infirmary; showering and changing and checking in with Gate Control, but it didn’t take long before she could fight the pull no more and found herself at the door to the infirmary looking at Jack all alone in the room. She surmised that Janet must have already released Teal’c.
Janet had finished her preliminary exam and was in her office going over the results of Jack’s scans. He was just there, asleep on a bed, with an oxygen mask on his face. She hesitated, taking him in, the full breadth of her emotion showing plainly on her face. She was about to turn and leave when his eyes opened and he saw her there, caught her in a completely unguarded moment. She froze, unsure of what to do, needing to be closer to him, but feeling too vulnerable to have a private moment with him.
She had tried so hard to leave it in the room. She even had moments of believing she could do it. That being a part of the team was worth bottling up her feelings. And then they'd been enslaved without their memories and neither of them had known that their emotions were meant to be repressed.
She shook her head to clear those thoughts. She'd only just begun the process of reconstructing her professional walls, and wallowing in the depths of the ice planet didn’t help. And then he'd been catapulted off into space and it was her fault that he'd nearly died.
She simultaneously needed to run away from him and run to him, to put her head on his chest and feel his breaths and heartbeat.
All it took was a small jerk of his head to end her indecision.
He beckoned her in with the subtle gesture as he pulled the mask off his face.
She made her way slowly over, breathing deliberately to try and get a handle on her emotions. He pushed himself up as she approached. Maybe it was the oxygen deprivation or the fact that he'd almost lost his toes to frost bite again, but he didn't have it in him to school his features either. He looked at her with all the relief of a man who thought he was never going to see her again. He watched her fight unsuccessfully to keep the tears out of her eyes and he couldn't think of a single reason they shouldn't be able to comfort each other.
He reached out and grabbed her wrist, pulling her closer to the bed.
He gave her hand another tug as he slid over and she crumpled down next to him. Her hand immediately sought out his chest as her head settled onto his shoulder. She watched her hand rise and fall with the movement of his lungs and a few tears spilled onto his shoulder. His hand went to her hair, holding her close.
“It wasn’t your fault,” he whispered into her hair, somehow cutting right to the heart of the matter “And I’m back. You saved me, again.”
Sam gasped out a quiet sob into his neck. Against her own judgement, she felt herself letting go of some of the guilt, unable to cling to it in the comfort of his arms. She allowed herself a few moments of relief before she started to feel the reality of where she was and what she was doing.
Jack felt her stiffen and knew she was about to pull away. He wrapped his arm all the way around her and whispered once more.
"I know, I know. Just, one more minute. We've earned one minute."
She settled back into his arms and savored each second of their minute. And after the 60th second, she sighed, pressed a soft kiss to his chest and dutifully pushed herself up and away.