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First Breath After Coma

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I

Jack arrived at the cabin with some supplies and a weird feeling of finality. While he was unpacking the dust that had accumulated while the cabin stood empty seemed to gather in his lungs, and as the time for his first guest’s arrival came closer it got progressively harder and harder to breathe. He stepped out on the porch for some fresh forest air just as the sun started to set, and time seemed endless and not long enough at the same time. He had so much future that needed actual plans but all he could think of was tomorrow.

 

II

Sam arrived the next day and he Jack suddenly felt angry. Not at her, of course, but at himself, for as he watched her car driving up the path to the cabin, he realised he didn’t know how to greet her. This was Sam for crying out loud! After all this time, after everything it should be easy, and here he were settling for a safe “how was the trip?” and a cowardly retreat. “Would you like a beer?” he asked and hoped she wouldn’t notice how his breath was shaking. There didn’t seem to be enough air inside anymore.

 

III

The cabin was not overly remarkable, but the surroundings were incredible. Still Sam felt like crawling out of her own skin. He had asked her to come up early and she had agreed, knowing what she hoped he had meant by that, but she felt unsure in a way she had become used to over the years. She hoped that the safeguards she had so carefully placed around her heart had crumbled, but she didn’t dare examine them too closely. What if they had not? When their fingers brushed as he handed her a bottle of beer, she stopped breathing.  

 

IV

They spent the rest of the day doing cabin things like fishing and dinner and it was all nice and cordial, and neither of them mentioned the elephant in the room that just seemed to grow as the night progressed. By the time the fire in the fireplace had become a soft ember and they both started to make non-committal “let’s go to bed”-noises, only the elephant was left of what little air the cabin once had contained. It wasn’t until her head hit her pillow in her own room that it occurred to her how stupid it all was.

 

V

She rushed out and nearly ran into Jack. For a moment time stood still, then everything was his hands in her hair and her mouth on his and her hands in his t-shirt and when she let go to breathe it felt like her lungs got oxygen for the first time in a decade. How she had lived without this she didn’t know but now she clung to him as if every part of her not touching him were atrophying.

“We need to talk about this,” she whispered and he nodded.

“We will, tomorrow. Please come to bed with me.”

 

Epilogue

They did have a conversation that morning, several in fact, and eventually they got up to get breakfast. Now that Jack had begun touching her, he could not stand to stop. “I love you” he said plainly over coffee on the porch and he whispered it again that night in bed and when they greeted Daniel and Teal’c the next day she was wearing his shirt. It was new and familiar all at once and did not have to remember to breathe anymore. The future could come at whatever pace it pleased; he knew where to start now. Right here.