Actions

Work Header

Full Moon

Work Text:

“I don’t know what to say...” Cassie uttered, her eyes flicking from the road in front of them to the man at the wheel beside her. She was somewhat pleased that it was Jack that had offered to pick her up from the airport and not Sam. “When Mom died, all everyone kept telling me was how sorry they were,” She added, “Only it didn’t really mean anything and I was sick of hearing people say it by like, the tenth time...”

Jack glanced at the young woman beside him and threw her a sad yet encouraging smile. “You don’t have to say anything, Cass...” Both pairs of eyes turned back to the road. “Just being here, will mean more to Sam than anything else...”

Cassie didn’t understand that until she walked through the front door.

Sam appeared in the doorway to the kitchen as soon as she heard the key turn in the lock and Cassie was in her arms in an instant. Neither of them said a word as they held each other tightly for a few moments.

“Something smells good...” Cassie said, breaking the silence as something wafted up from the stove.

Sam merely chuckled and pulled back, her fingers tucking stray strands of Cassie’s hair behind her ears. “Spaghetti Bolognaise,” She said, “You hungry?”

Cassie simply nodded.

“Do you want to stay?” Sam asked, directing her question at Jack as he hovered near the front door. He paused, eyes roaming each of the two ladies faces. “I’ve made plenty...” Sam added, sounding a little too hopeful, and slightly un-Carter like.

Jack tried to shrug in that noncommittal way he often does. “Sure, sounds good...”

Sam nodded as she turned back into the kitchen, but it didn’t stop both Cassie and Jack from catching the wave of relief that washed over her face.

-0-

She had known something was wrong the minute her father had stepped through the Stargate. The expression on his face was one she’d seen only a handful of times and wasn’t something that had ever resulted in anything good. The joy she had briefly experienced over his visit had suddenly turned into a leaded weight in her stomach.

There was nothing anyone could do, he had said. And he had slipped away telling her tales of her mother, her hand in his and tears streaming down her face.

She had been staring at her pale expression in the bathroom mirror sometime later when Jack had knocked at the door to her base quarters. It had taken three knocks for her to shake herself out of her daze and splash cold water onto her face. By the time she’d exited the bathroom, Jack had turned the handle and poked his head around the door. In spite of everything she couldn’t help but smile – his hair looked like he’d dragged a rake through it. It was one of those moments that she wished she had a camera.

“I didn’t think you’d be hungry but...” He shrugged, producing a pot of blue jello from behind his back and a spoon from his pocket.

The kindness of his gesture had made her heart ache, and she felt the tears well up in her eyes; a strangled laugh getting stuck in her throat as she tried not to collapse onto her bed when she moved to sit down.

Jack’s warm body slid down beside her, shoulder bumping hers and leaving hardly any space between them. His fingers brushed hers as he passed over the pot and spoon.

She remembered the coolness of the jello as it slid down her throat, a stark contrast to the hot tears that slid down her cheeks; the comforting warmth of the man sat in silence beside her.

He’d placed his arm around her, pressing a kiss to her temple when she’d inhaled just a little too sharply. The plastic pot had fallen to the ground without a sound, her face suddenly buried in his shoulder, hands clawing at his chest as her tears soaked his shirt.

She remembered whispered words, the words themselves not important but their sentiment reaching her just the same. She thinks she told him stories – of her mother, of her father; her brother as a child. She doesn’t think any of it made sense and Jack had never mentioned it again.

Her father had died. Anubis had attempted to blow up the planet and failed. The Replicators had been wiped from the galaxy. And Jack had lain curled up behind her as she cried into her pillow that night.

Sam felt like her heart had stopped a thousand times over that week.

-0-

“Sam?”

Cassie was loading up the dishwasher with their used plates from dinner, while Sam was clearing the table. Jack was nowhere to be found.

“Hmmm...”

“Are the Goa’uld really gone?”

Sam paused in her actions, her face expressing a mixture of emotions as she turned to the young woman just a few feet away. “The System Lords, yes... Still hard to believe isn’t it?” Her lips were tight on her face.

“Kinda hard to imagine winning for a change...”

Sam placed the crockery in her hands back onto the table. “Feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it?” She asked, her voice quiet. “Like we’re always losing?”

“I just always thought that when it happened, we would celebrate, you know?” Cassie began, then shook her head in defeat.

“Cass...” Sam moved to stand next to her in the kitchen and pulled her into a hug.

“We’ve all just lost so much...” Cassie whispered into her shoulder.

“I know...” Sam whispered back. She pulled away, her hands resting upon Cassie’s shoulders. “You know I wish I could tell that it will all get better from now on-”

“I know,” Cassie interrupted, shaking her head. “But I’m not asking you to.” Her eyes locked onto Sam’s. “You’re the only one who has always told me the truth...”

Sam bit her lip. “Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

“Good, definitely good...”

“Hey, how do-” Jack paused mid sentence as he re-entered the room, seeing the two of them huddled together.

“Can’t figure out how to work the DVD player again?” Cassie cocked her head at him, a sly grin working itself across her face. He saw the two women exchange a look.

“Well, if genius over here had separate controls like everybody else...” He waved his hand at Sam and watched as Cassie playfully huffed and disappeared into the other room. “Everything okay?” He asked quietly, once she was gone.

Sam moved to pick up the abandoned plates. “Yeah,” She nodded.

Jack took a few steps forward, his hand clasping over hers. Their eyes suddenly met. “You go help her out,” He gestured with his head to the other room. “I’ll finish up here...”

Sam allowed him to take the items from her hands, pausing to look up at him and smile. She reached up on her tiptoes for a moment, leaning in to kiss him softly on the cheek. Not trusting herself to witness his reaction, she carried on walking, a smile on her face as she left the room.

-0-

“Has something happened between you and Jack?” Cassie asked sometime later that evening. They were sitting curled up on the sofa, a blanket covering both of their frames and Cassie’s head resting upon Sam’s shoulder.

“What makes you say that?” Her words soft and quiet, just like Cassie’s.

“You seem... different around each other...”

Sam hoped to God that no one else had noticed.

“Closer, somehow...”

Sam closed her eyes and savoured the moment. He’d held her. Really held her. Just like when Janet had died... only different somehow... and how do you even attempt to explain that to her daughter when you haven’t even admitted to her that until recently you were still grieving for her mother?

“I guess we are...” Sam finally responded.

They were quiet for a moment, the only sounds coming from their breathing and a faint rustle in the kitchen. The movie was currently on pause.

“What happens now?”

Sam sighed. “We enjoy the family we have left...”

At that moment Jack re-emerged from the kitchen with some beer in his hands. He looked up as both women turned to look at him, before Cassie shifted, glancing up at Sam with a smile on her face. “I think I could cope with that...”

-0-

Dr Jane Audrey was a slim wiry woman with brown glasses on her face to match. She was new to the Stargate program and had stood in for Dr Mackenzie when he was unavailable on the day of Sam’s first appointment many months ago. Somehow Sam had found herself seeing the young doctor for the rest of her scheduled sessions. She still wasn’t sure if it was Jack’s doing or not.

She made Sam sit on the long green couch, taking the wooden chair opposite, clipboard upon her knee, one leg crossed over the other. “I thought you might want to talk about your father,” Dr Audrey began, sensing the unease Sam felt about being back in her office after quite some time.

Sam simply shrugged. She didn’t want to talk about her father – she’d felt that was all that she’d been doing lately. “Not really,” She said, before voicing her concerns.

“Anything else you’d like to talk about?”

Sam briefly thought about Jack; about Cassie; about Mark and his family; about SG1 and how the Goa’uld were now gone. “I’ve been thinking about family a lot,” She said instead.

“Your family?”

Sam hesitated and bit her lip. “The chance of having one...” She admitted.

“Do you have someone in your life?” Dr Audrey’s voice was flat and unassuming and Sam couldn’t work out why she expected the woman to be surprised, or more importantly, why she wasn’t.

“Maybe,” Sam hedged a little. She paused for a moment, wondering how to put it into words. “I think the opportunity is there...” She added.

“Does this man feel the same?”

Not wanting to reveal too much, Sam merely shrugged and stared down at her hands in her lap.

“This conversation unsettles you,” The doctor’s voice softened, her words more of a statement than a question.

Sam neither acknowledged nor denied. “Dad liked him.” Maybe talking about her father was a better idea after all. She fought back a laugh. “But then he also annoyed the hell out of Dad too, so...” She shrugged, unsure what point she was trying to make.

“Sounds like they got on well...”

Sam narrowed her eyes at the doctor. A small smile flitted across the other woman’s face – busted. Don’t try to analyse a psychiatrist, she rebuked herself.

“You mentioned family,” Dr Audrey added, “What was your family like?”

Sam shrugged. “Mom was always prepared for the day when Air Force officers would turn up at our door...” She revealed, not knowing where this was coming from.

“And that, inevitably, prepared you...” Dr Audrey stated.

Sam nodded. “But then when Mom...” She sucked in a deep breath, suddenly unable to voice the words.

“You weren’t prepared for your mother’s death...”

“No,” Sam shook her head.

“And with your mother gone, you were no longer prepared for your father to go?”

“Who is prepared when someone dies?” Sam asked suddenly.

“It’s okay to be angry.”

“I’m not angry...” she sighed. “I’m frustrated, I’m relieved, I’m...” She faltered, her gaze falling to her lap. “I’m exhausted...”

“You’ve been through a lot this past week,” The doctor offers. Sam merely nods. “Tell me about it...”

Sam studied her hands for a moment. “What’s to tell?” She asked, somewhat bitterly. “We won, Dad died and the military is going to make heroes of amazing soldiers and no one is ever going to know why...”

“You want recognition for your father?”

Sam shook her head. “My father would have died six years ago if it weren’t for the SGC...”

“From what I’ve read, it was you who put your father forward to the Tok’ra,” Dr Audrey claimed, looking her patient straight in the eye. “It was you who effectively saved his life...” Sam dropped her gaze. “What’s really bothering you, Samantha?”

Sam took a deep breath and two tears escaped, running down her cheeks. She reached up to wipe them away, unable to look up at the woman before her. “He wanted to get me into NASA...” She leant forwards, resting her clasped hands on her knees, staring at the scratches on her fingers. “I couldn’t tell him that I was already exploring space.” She sniffed. “Before he found out, all our lives entailed were secrets...” She risked a glance at the doctor, watching as the other woman motioned with her hand to continue. “I’m tired...” She added. “I don’t want my life to revolve around secrets anymore...”

-0-

She wandered the halls of the SGC, plastering a smile on her face whenever a passing airman offered her a sad smile. Her father had worked with a lot of SG teams over the years and she was still a little shocked that some of those stationed at the Alpha Site had requested to come back for his funeral.

The session with Dr Audrey had left her feeling tired and rejuvenated all at the same time and she’d sat in her lab for all of five minutes before she’d gotten restless. She thought about going to see what Daniel was up to, but realised he’d had his head buried in some ancient scrolls the last time she’d seen him, and for reasons she couldn’t explain, she just wasn’t in the mood for his enthusiasm.

In the end she went to see Teal’c.

He was the only person she knew who could rationalise situations and not let feelings get in the way of doing what needed to be done, and yet still hold a sense of cordiality.

But overall Teal’c was the epitome of calm. He had grounded her the few times that she’d felt the world tilt and threaten to tip her off the edge. The fact that those times normally involved Jack didn’t escape her. Despite the fact that most of the time, she tried to pretend otherwise.

Teal’c’s room was covered with lighted candles when she arrived. Something that was pretty standard as far as things went. Sam liked that he was dependable that way.

“Hey Teal’c,” She said, poking her head around the door once he’d allowed her to enter.

“Colonel Carter,” Teal’c opened his eyes, not moving an inch from where he was seated on a cushion on the floor. “I did not think you would be here today.”

Sam shrugged. “I had something to take care of...Would you like some company?” She gestured at their surroundings.

Her awkwardness was not lost on the Jaffa. He tipped his head and offered her a cushion. “You are more than welcome to join me,” He added.
Sam slipped into the room and closed the door behind her. It instantly felt darker and more intimate now that the light from the corridor no longer spilled inside. Her eyes darted to the shadows that moved across the walls.

“You’re going to leave aren’t you?” She asked, her voice quiet yet controlled.

Teal’c merely studied her. “I must be there for my people...”

Sam smiled sadly. “I know...”

“But that does not mean that I wish to go...”

“I’ll miss you.”

They maintained eye contact for a moment before Sam averted her gaze.

“You are worried of what changes that may bring,” Teal’c stated more than asked.

Sam bit her lip before glancing back up. “A little,” She breathed out.

“Do you not believe that it may bring you other opportunities?” Sam frowned but the Jaffa merely continued. “You are a person of great strength and who carries out her responsibilities with pride and often without question. But you have dedicated a considerable amount of time in achieving these things... perhaps it is time you allowed yourself to pursue other matters.”

Sam sighed and yet smiled when she glanced over at him. Unlike Daniel who often didn’t know what to do when it came to her and Jack, Teal’c never even flinched. She often felt his silence spoke volumes but if she was honest, his words were even more supportive when they came. “Who am I going to have normal conversations with, when you’re gone?”

“I believe both Daniel Jackson and O’Neill would take offense to that comment.”

Sam laughed lightly and shook her head. “Probably...”

Teal’c raised an eyebrow at her, only causing her to smile even more.

“I think you’re right though...” She added. “About pursuing ‘other matters’...” She resisted acting out speech marks and watched as a faint smile crossed the Jaffa’s face. “I’m just... not entirely sure where to start.”

“Ordinarily, I believe it is prudent to start at the beginning.”

Sam almost snorted.

“But I believe in this case, your course in this matter has already begun...”

Sam looked up and met Teal’c’s eyes. “So what do you suggest?” She asked tentatively.

“Perhaps you resume from where you once departed?”

-0-

“You know when you found me and Cassie talking in the kitchen?” Sam asked. They were sitting up on his roof – the first time in a long while – side by side in his old lawn chairs.

Jack simply looked over at her as he took a swig of beer. “What about it?”

“She told me that I was the only one who always told her the truth.”

He nodded.

“But I’m not...” She added, a hint of frustration in her voice. “I haven’t told her about Dr. Audrey or about how much I miss her Mom...”

Jack pursed his lips. “Well...” He said softly, “I think she’s aware of the latter.” Sam simply looked back at him. “She’s a smart kid,” He added with a shrug. “And she cares about you... she’s bound to have noticed.”

Sam nodded and turned away.

“And I don’t think not telling her is necessarily a bad thing,” Jack added, picking at the corner of his label.

“No?”

“You’re trying to protect her... It’s what parents do.”

They shared a long look. The undercurrents of what they weren’t saying springing into both of their minds.

“I just find it overwhelming sometimes...” she admitted, finding it suddenly easy to talk to him about parenting under the cover of darkness.
“Yeah...” Jack sighed, “That’s only natural I’m afraid...”

They shared another look.

Sometimes Sam wished he would talk about it. Him. Charlie. She worried about the fact that he left things bottled up, especially after her own recent experiences. But then, other times, she felt like she totally understood his reasons why, unable to begrudge the fact that sometimes when bad things happened in the past, they were better off left there.

“She asked about you...” She added, steering the conversation back on track. Or maybe off track, because she couldn’t decide if now was the right time to bring up the subject. Or if there ever would be a right time. And part of her worried that if she left it too long, that they might miss their moment. Not only that but really, it was all up to her now. Jack wouldn’t make the first move, she knew that. He was too worried about pushing things too far after what happened with her father.

She realised that she’d been thinking too long when Jack turned to her with a question in his eyes. Or more accurately, the eyebrow that he raised. “About us...” She clarified.

Jack simply nodded, keeping his expression carefully blank. “And you said...” He waved his hand slightly in the air.

Sam shrugged. “That we’ve grown closer...” She hedged a little. They both sat in silence for a moment, each staring at the bottles that sat in their hands. Eventually Sam sighed and turned in her seat to face him. “Actually I didn’t know quite what to say.”

It wasn’t quite an accusation. But her voice sounded exasperated enough that it made Jack lift his head up to study her. “No?”

Sam shook her head. “No.”

Jack seemed to mull this over for a few seconds. “I’ve been thinking about the fishing trip...” He added, trying not to appear as though his brain was scrambling for things to say. Because he had been thinking about it – the fishing trip - he just hadn’t known when to bring it up.

“Yeah?” Sam’s soft smile encouraged him.

Jack nodded. “Yeah... I’ve been trying to sort something at work,” His hand moved in a circular motion, “Find someone to cover.” He paused and cleared his throat. “I was... hoping to have a plan... first... Before we...” He finished by gesturing between them.

Sam couldn’t help but smile. He seemed a little flustered, nervous almost, which was not something she saw often. And honestly, right now it was quite endearing. Not to mention encouraging – she obviously wasn’t the only one who was having trouble breaking out of the roles they’d settled into over the past eight years.

Emboldened, she reached over and squeezed his hand. Jack studied the movement, slowly turning his hand palm up and allowing her fingers to interlock with his. He glanced up to throw her a smile, one that conveyed affection and gratitude all at once.

“Everything’s going to change now isn’t it?” She asked, though her voice didn’t seem as weighed down as he initially thought it would.

“I think it has to...” He nodded. “Are you okay with that?” He asked hesitantly.

“Yeah,” Sam nodded and let out a sigh. “For once I feel ready...”

-0-

Jack was there with Sam and Cassie when Mark arrived. He couldn’t remember the reason why exactly but Cassie had insisted that she needed his help for moving some furniture around for when Mark’s family arrived. Jack was pretty sure he was being manipulated by the young woman.

“Sam?” He called, trotting down the hallway once they’d finished, Cassie trailing not far behind him. Both came to a stop when they saw Sam being scooped into a hug at the front door.

“You holding up okay?” He heard Mark whisper. He couldn’t hear Sam’s reply, but saw them both tighten their grip on each other ever so slightly before pulling back.

“Hey Jack,” Mark nodded to the General. He let go of his sister and walked past her to shake Jack’s hand while Sam got hugs from the rest of the family.

“Mark,” Jack replied, just as some other faces appeared behind her brother.

“This is my wife, Kelly...” Mark gestured behind him. “And Abby and James.” The two kids just looked at him curiously while Kelly simply smiled and said hello, nudging the children to do the same.

“You should have let me pick you up from the airport,” Sam uttered the minute they had all piled in through the door.

“We didn’t want to bother you,” Kelly replied earnestly.

Sam looked like she was about to protest, but when her sister in law placed a hand upon her shoulder and squeezed slightly, she deflated somewhat. Jack watched the exchange with interest. Sam had only ever mentioned Kelly in passing before, but from the looks of things he guessed that the two must share some sort of bond.

“Why don’t I show you to your rooms?” Sam said instead, and Jack hovered aimlessly as the women and children in the house all scattered with their bags and he and Mark were left standing there unsure of what to do.

“Drink?” Jack clasped his hands together and held them to his chest as he rocked backwards and forwards on his heels.

Mark simply smiled. “Good plan.”

-0-

“Honestly Sam, you didn’t have to put us up like this,” Mark repeated for the umpteenth time since they’d arrived. They were all sitting around the dinner table, the seven of them, like it was a normal family gathering and not the result of a family tragedy that had brought them all together. “I feel like we’ve kicked Cassie out of the house,” Mark continued, knowing the kids were staying in her room for the duration of their stay.

“I don’t mind,” Cassie stated, leaping in before Sam could protest again. “I get to stay with Uncle Jack, so...”

“He spoils her,” Sam supplied, throwing her brother an exasperated look that was actually aimed at the man sitting to her left.

“I do not!” Jack cried. “Not intentionally...” He added, receiving a glare from Sam while Cassie confirmed it with her smug grin. “I thought you were on my side!” He gestured at the young woman with his fork.

“Where would be the fun in that?” Cassie retorted, a grin still plastered on her face.

“Don’t worry Jack,” Kelly piped up, “Abby here does exactly the same to Mark.”

Jack simply smirked when two other voices cried out in protest.

“Dad used to do the same to Sam when we were kids,” Mark added, not realising what he was saying as he ate another mouthful of food. The table went silent for a moment, before Mark suddenly blushed and looked over at his sister. “Sorry,” He uttered.

Sam took a deep breath before shaking her head. “It’s okay...” She uttered, suddenly hating all the tension that had filled the room. “It’s good to remember these things...”

The table remained quiet until Cassie spoke up. “When I was twelve, Mom nearly wouldn’t let me see Jack for a whole month after the cake making catastrophe...” She began, sensing the awkward situation and attempting to steer the conversation onto some random topic. Jack noticed everyone else’s ears prick up and suddenly felt proud at the ease of which Cassie could do that. It was a stark contrast to the quiet insecure girl he once knew and that had reappeared infrequently since Janet’s passing.

Worried about Sam, and seeing everyone else’s attention diverted, Jack reached down and gave her thigh a quick squeeze under the table. She paused for a moment, before her eyes briefly met his and Jack flashed her an encouraging smile. He watched as a shy smile flashed across Sam’s lips before she had a chance to tame it and look away.

But it was the soft touch of a hand landing upon his own and gently squeezing back that suddenly attracted most of his attention. He threw the owner a quick glance, only to find her intent on the food that she was spooning into her mouth. Another smile flickered across his face before Jack looked down at his own plate and shoved some more food into his mouth to distract himself.

“And suddenly there were bits of mixture and sponge all over the room...”

Jack grinned, looking up at Cassie. “That was your fault!” He cried, launching himself back into the conversation. Beside him Sam grinned, and Jack suddenly felt the tension in the room peel away.

-0-

“You know, my therapist thinks I have issues with death because of Mom...” They were sitting outside under the stars in her back yard when her soft words broke the silence.

“You have a therapist?” Mark asked, turning to look over at her.
Sam frowned, realising that she hadn’t mentioned it before. “Yeah, Jack made me see one after the whole...” She struggled for a word, waving her hand in the air, “...injury last time you were up... I haven’t seen her for a while, but she requested a session after Dad...”

“You think she’s right?” Mark asked, ignoring the unspoken word.

Sam shrugged. “Do you have issues with death because of what happened with Mom?”

Mark squinted up at the sky for a moment, before looking his sister in the eyes. “I don’t think so, no... Issues with the military maybe...”

Sam winced, “Yeah, well we all know about that-”

“But I haven’t used that as an excuse for avoiding things... not recently anyway...”

“I’ve seen people die, Mark...” She sighed. “I’ve fought in wars and seen the horrible things that people can do. I’ve experienced death before... I have trouble getting over losing my best friend and suddenly I have issues...”

“Well there were other things going on at the same time, Sam.”

“Yeah but she never brings up the whole torturing thing-” She stopped short, realising what words had just left her mouth. Mark just stared at her open mouthed and she sighed deeply, shaking her head and looking away. “Sorry,” She whispered.

“Sam...” It was the only word he could squeeze out.

Sam reached over and grasped his hand. “I’m okay...” She said, her eyes finding his, pleading with him to understand.

“But I asked you...”

“I know,” Sam swallowed.

“So it’s okay to lie about it?”

“No,” Sam shook her head, “But what would you have been able to do about it if you knew?”

Mark looked at her, exasperated, his voice still low. “I could have been there for you... Lord knows you needed someone-”

“I needed to be treated normally, the way that I was before...”

Mark scoffed. “Yeah and look how well that turned out...” Sam’s gaze dropped and Mark bit back his anger, shaking his head and releasing a long sigh. He squeezed her hand, and her head popped back up, a somewhat hopeful look in her eyes. “Did you talk to her, your therapist, about it?”

Sam nodded. “Yeah...”

“Then maybe she doesn’t bring it up because she feels you’ve dealt with it.”

“I’ve dealt with what happened with Janet too...”

“What about Dad...?” He whispered, retaining eye contact. “I mean, its Dad...”

“I know...” She agreed. “But... We could’ve lost Dad years ago... And honestly, all I’m feeling right now is grateful. Grateful for the chance we all had to grow closer over the years. Grateful that I have you and Kelly and the kids; that I have Cassie and my friends and...”

“And Jack?”

Sam ducked her head, a ghost of a smile upon her lips as she nodded.

“Because it is ‘Jack’ now, right?”

Sam looked up at him, confused.

“Before,” Mark just shrugged, “That was the first time I’ve heard you call him that and not ‘General’ or ‘Sir’.”

Sam almost looked embarrassed. “One step at a time, right?” She cocked her head and looked over at him.

“Does that mean there are going to be more steps?” Mark asked cautiously.

“Maybe...” Sam bit her lip to stop herself from grinning.

Mark nudged her shoulder with his. “Samantha...” He drawled.

“Stop it!” She shoved him back.

Mark held his hands up. “Hey! I’m just calling it like I see it...”

“How old are you? Twelve?”

“Hey! When I was twelve, you wouldn’t even look at a boy! Too busy with your head buried in a book...”

“It was better than getting caught making out with Jenny Francis behind the bleachers!”

“For the record, I did not get caught.”

“But you did make out with her...”

Mark pretended to look shocked, shaking his head until they both laughed. He glanced up at the sky before turning to his sister, his expression all soft and serious at the same time. “It is okay, you know...”

“What is?”

“To be happy...” He smiled grimly at her. “To allow yourself to be happy... It’s what Dad would have wanted.”

She broke his gaze and studied her hands as she picked the dirt from her fingernails. “I know,” She said finally, her gaze returning his. “It’s just...”

“What?” He whispered.

How could she explain the fear and the excitement, the relief and the sadness? “The war ended...” She said instead.

“Yeah?”

Sam nodded, a slight smile curling her lips. “Yeah... But... But Dad’s gone and then the General invited me fishing...”

Mark merely frowned at her. “Too much going on at once?”

Sam shrugged.

“Step one, remember?” Mark replied. “Calling him Jack?”

“I thought step one was admitting you had a problem?”

“Well then, you’re already several steps ahead.” Mark added. “And it seems to me that going fishing is a good idea.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah...” Mark nodded. “Some time away might do you some good...”

-0-

The official ceremony for Jacob’s funeral took place two days later and was mainly full of retired Generals, a few distant relatives and a random assortment of SGC personnel. A small wake was held at Sam’s place afterwards, but it mainly consisted of close family and friends, something of which Sam was extremely grateful. The day had been long and she was tired of plastering a fake smile on her face.

“I think your father would have enjoyed the sun today...”

Sam looked up as Kelly entered the kitchen and nodded. The day had graced them with glorious sunshine.

“He always seemed to enjoy spending his time outside whenever he used to visit,” Kelly added. She placed another glass next to Sam’s and allowed her to pour her a drink as well.

Sam couldn’t say that that was probably due to the fact that he’d spent his last few years in an underground bunker. Or that her recent years had also been in fact. If you excluded the trips off world, that is. “Can’t blame him,” She found herself uttering.

Kelly placed her arm around Sam’s shoulder and gave her a half hug and Sam smiled sadly, despite her body tensing up. She didn’t feel that she could relinquish control just yet.

“Your friends seem nice,” Kelly said as she released her.

Sam merely raised an eyebrow. “They are.”

“That’s good,” Kelly merely replied.

Sam narrowed her eyes at the sandy haired woman. “Which one?” She asked, knowing that one of them must’ve noticed her spending time on her own in the kitchen and sent someone in after her. After all at least one of them had been hovering within arm’s reach for most of the day.

Kelly shrugged and tilted her head. “Which one do you think?”

Sam was pretty sure that it wasn’t the alcohol that made her cheeks flush.

“Well just so you know, I think it’s cute...” Kelly placed her hand upon Sam’s arm and squeezed reassuringly.

Sam scrunched up her nose and downed her drink. “Cute?” She almost sounded disgusted.

“Not in a bad way,” Kelly reiterated.

“There’s a good way?” Sam stared at her.

“We both know there is...” Kelly replied, before wagging her finger at her. “And don’t change the subject.”

“Which is?”

Kelly paused and Sam raised an eyebrow at her, glad to feel that things were somewhat normal for the first time all day.

Kelly merely shrugged. “So okay, maybe ‘cute’ is the wrong word...” She finished off her own drink before she poured them both another. “But really, it doesn’t matter that much what you call it.” Sam’s eyes met hers. “Does it?” Kelly prodded.

“I guess not,” Sam admitted somewhat reluctantly. “But you know what?”

“What?” Kelly watched as a genuine smile formed upon Sam’s face.

“I’m pretty sure this wasn’t what he had in mind when he sent you in here...”

“No,” Kelly agreed, “But in the long run, I bet he won’t complain about it either...”

-0-

The men were all huddled around General Hammond with drinks in their hands and smiles on their faces, when the two women emerged from the kitchen. From the looks of things, he’d been sharing a story or a joke of some kind.

“Boat trip story,” Mark supplied, seeing the questioning look on their faces.

“The one where Dad fell in the water or...?”

“The other one,” Mark grinned.

Sam couldn’t help but grin in response. The other one involved hooks and ripping clothes and embarrassing misunderstandings.

“All this time we’ve been hearing about Jack and his fishing stories,” Daniel began, “And then we find out that you’ve been holding out on us.” There was a twinkle in his eyes suggesting a friendly gibe but Sam couldn’t work out who it was aimed at - her or Jack.

Sam shrugged. “Gotta give the General his dues,” she retorted.

Jack threw her a grateful smile and a scowl at Daniel.

“You were thinking of arranging some quality fishing time yourself, weren’t you Jack?” General Hammond turned to the man in question. Most people wouldn’t have noticed but Sam saw a faint flicker of panic rush over Jack’s face before he schooled it into a blank expression.

“I was thinking about it,” Jack waved a hand nonchalantly. The sudden realisation that he’d attempted to talk to Hammond about ‘their’ fishing trip flitted through Sam’s mind. She tried to appear as disinterested as Jack when he avoided looking in her direction.

“We should all have a fishing trip!” Daniel suddenly exclaimed. Sam’s heart literally sank. “You know, the four of us,” Daniel continued as he gestured at them, “Up at Jack’s cabin...”

“Are we not required at several meetings elsewhere, Daniel Jackson?” Sam felt her hopes rise as Teal’c even accentuated his point by raising an eyebrow at his intended victim.

But Daniel seemed oblivious and merely shrugged. “You and I can attend those and join Jack and Sam later... Jack?”

Sam felt him stiffen beside her. “Sure...”

“Sam?”

She glanced at Jack, quickly so as not to arouse any suspicion. “Sure,” She found herself agreeing.

Secretly, she wanted to kill Daniel Jackson.

Later, when the house was almost empty and Jack told her that he and Cassie were heading home, he gave her a long look. For once Sam could see a range of emotions flicker across his face. He threw her a sad smile and a leaned in to give her a brief hug. “I know,” He whispered into her ear.

-0-

The house was strangely quiet when they got back. Though in reality, Jack guessed that that was probably the norm and he’d bizarrely gotten used to having another person in the house while Cassie had been staying the past few days. The young woman stopped beside him as he paused in the hallway and he glanced at her as she offered him a tired smile.

“You should head to bed,” He said softly.

Cassie simply shrugged. “Mind if we stay up to watch something mind numbing for a while instead?”

Jack tilted his head. “Okay, go on...”

Cassie squeezed his arm before bouncing off to get changed into her pyjamas. Pulling at the tie around his neck, Jack surmised that getting out of his own clothes would be a good idea, and a few minutes later he found himself sitting next to Cassie on the couch, wearing an old t-shirt and a pair of sweats.

“Do you think Sam is going to be okay without us there?” Cassie asked, breaking the silence.

Jack stared at the random adult cartoon they were watching. “She’s got Mark and Kelly there...”

There was a long pause before Cassie next spoke. “There was this bakery, down the road from our house when I lived on Hanka... It used to sell these sweet bun type things that were a bit like a cross between a cookie and a cake.”

The cushions shifted as Jack turned to look at her, his face blank despite his confusion over her change in subject. “They taste good?”

Cassie nodded. “They tasted delicious...” The smile on her face altered somewhat and Jack followed her gaze as she looked down at her fingers. “My brother used to buy me one whenever I got upset...”

Jack paused, before lifting his arm up and around her shoulder and pulling her close. Cassie rarely spoke of her original family these days. “That was nice of him,” He said, as Cassie rested her head under his chin.

“Hmmm...”

Jack felt the vibration rumble through his chest.

“Mark seems like a good brother...”

“Well, I think like most families, they’ve had their ups and downs, Cass.”

“Are you going to talk to her?” There was a moment of silence, and the hand that Jack was subconsciously rubbing up and down Cassie’s arm came to a halt mid movement. “Sam,” Cassie clarified. “Anyone can see how you two feel about each other.”

Jack didn’t know what to say. He didn’t want to lie to the kid, but well, he found it hard enough talking to Sam about these things, let alone a girl he thought of as a daughter. “Yeah?”

Cassie could tell from the inflection in his voice that he wasn’t answering her question. She lifted her head up slowly and looked at him.

“Besides, what makes you think we haven’t talked already?” He said, getting all defensive when she stared at him like that.

“You have?” She asked, a hint of disbelief colouring her tone. Jack nodded at her. “Really?!”

“Yeah,” Jack replied. “If you must know, I invited her fishing...”

“You asked her to go fishing?” Cassie repeated. Jack couldn’t tell from her tone of voice, if she was excited or disappointed.

Jack merely shrugged. “It’s our thing,” He reiterated, still a little defensive.

“And she said yes?”

Jack frowned for a moment, going over the conversation in his head. “Basically,” He surmised.

“But aren’t you both going up to the cabin with Daniel and Teal’c?” Cassie frowned at him.

Jack sighed. “Looks like it...”

Cassie winced, and Jack knew she looked like he felt.

“I’ll sort it...” He found himself telling her. God he was a sucker when it came to this girl.

“Tomorrow?” Cassie asked.

Jack nodded, “Tomorrow.”

-0-

Jack felt a bit like an intruder when Cassie let them into Sam’s house with her own set of keys, despite the fact that it was practically the girl’s main home.

He needn’t have worried when he found Sam, Mark and General Hammond all talking in the kitchen. All three turned to smile at him and Cassie as they poked their heads through the doorway.

“Jack,” General Hammond addressed him, getting up from his seat at the kitchen table. “I’m glad I got to see you before I go...”

“Oh?” Jack swung on his feet.

“That cover that you requested for your leave? It’s all been arranged.” The man took a few steps towards him and shook his hand.

“Thank you, sir,” Jack found himself saying, somewhat confused and shaking back. He risked a glance at Sam, knowing that with everything that had happened recently, he still hadn’t gotten the chance to talk to her about his conversation with the other General.

Hammond followed his eye line back to Sam. “Thank you for the coffee, Sam, Mark... I’ll see myself out...”And with a nod of his head, the General disappeared out of the room.

Despite his comment, Jack noticed Mark head off after the man, and Cassie soon uttered something about getting something from her room. He glanced at Sam as the two of them were left standing in the kitchen alone. Sam, he noticed was running her fingers along an envelope in her hand.

“Nice of Hammond to drop by...” Jack said, a little too conversationally.

Sam merely looked up at him and smiled. “It was...” She bit her lip before pushing herself off from the counter behind her and moving closer. “He came to apologise, actually...” Jack’s right eyebrow rose. “For his comment about the fishing trip...”

“Oh?” Jack suddenly wondered when his vocabulary became stunted.

“Yeah...”

“Funny,” Jack said, “Because that’s kind of why I’m here too...”

“Oh?”

Jack smiled at the slight glint in her eyes. “Yeah...”

“Funny...”

The smile they shared got wider.

Jack shifted his stance and cleared his throat. “I’ll get Teal’c to injure Daniel’s legs so they can’t come...” Sam couldn’t help the laugh that left her throat. “Hey, you can’t tell me that I was the only one thinking that!”

“No,” Sam shook her head. “But it’s okay,” She said, softer this time. She leaned over and placed a hand on his arm. “It kind of makes sense – us all having one last trip together...”

And there was the crux of it, he thought as he quickly peered down at the spot where their skin met. Because Jack actually agreed with that, it’s just... It’s just the trip to the cabin was meant to be ‘their’ thing and once he’d made up his mind, he was really looking forward to it. The two of them. Alone...

Her last few words echoed in his head and Jack looked up at her, wondering if Sam could read his mind by the look she gave him. She smiled sadly. “Hammond also gave me this.” She handed him the envelope.

“What is it?” Jack asked, turning it over in his hands to see Sam’s full name and military rank written on the front.

“Looks like you’re not the only one who thinks that I’m a national treasure...”

-0-

To make the most of their time away, Jack had decided to catch a plane and hire a car at the other end, instead of his usual long drive to the cabin using his truck.

The journey had been pretty good by all accounts. No delays, no annoying kids kicking the back of his seat, a shiny red truck waiting when they touched down, a gorgeous companion... Yep pretty good. Jack turned to look at her in the passenger seat, unable to stop himself.

“What?” Sam said, catching the slight curve to his lips.

“Nothing,” Jack tried to shrug with his hands still on the wheel.

Sam merely smiled at him over the top of her magazine.

It was one of those women’s magazines with a glossy front cover featuring make up, fashion and whatever else those things entailed. Sam had already asked him questions from one of the random quizzes it had when he’d questioned her over the purchase. “Cassie left it behind,” had been her response and, to his relief, that had soon become apparent when she kept laughing and sharing random articles with him during their plane ride. Jack hadn’t wanted to admit it at the time, but just listening to her amusement over something as benign as a step by step guide to applying fake eyelashes, made him feel stupidly relieved that they could survive the next couple of days without talking about work.

Not only that but Sam actually seemed excited, he realised, a little too late in their journey. He’d initially thought it was nerves, or the mere need to fill any silence between them. But now that he really thought about it, it was the voice she used when normally talking about some scientific discovery on P3X something or other. The smile on Jack’s face suddenly morphed into a grin.

“It’s a little weird isn’t it?” Sam asked, from the seat next to him.

Jack threw her a quick glance. “What is?” Sam merely raised an eyebrow at him. “A little,” He acquiesced, before hastily adding, “But in a good way...”

Sam’s smile grew a little wider. And then wider still when Jack turned left up a small dirt road and the cabin appeared in view.

“Like what you see?” Jack quipped, unable to tear his eyes away from the expression on her face.

“Hell yeah,” Sam quipped back, before opening the passenger door and jumping out of the truck. Jack followed at a more sedate pace behind her, fishing his keys out of his pocket before joining her on the front porch. Ushering her inside, Jack picked up the box of food that someone had left for him as requested outside the front door, and followed her in.

“This is great,” Sam uttered, though Jack wasn’t really sure if it was actually aimed at him, or not. He placed the box on the counter in the kitchen and watched as Sam wandered around the cabin.

“Feel free to open some doors, head outside or wander around,” He stated, chucking her the cabin keys and motioning to the back door. “Pond’s out back. I’ll fetch our bags and sort everything out in here.”

He’d left her to her own devices for some time, before he’d finished freshening up the cabin and came looking for her. He found her outside, as predicted, leaning on the railing and gazing up at the blue sky.

“Enjoying the view?” He asked, by way of greeting.

Sam nodded, turning to him with a smile. “It’s beautiful.... Thank you... Jack,” Her smile turned somewhat bashful, “For everything... for inviting me here...” She let go of the railing with one hand and gestured at their surroundings.

Jack studied her face for a moment, not sure what to say. Eventually he just shrugged. “I’m just glad you came...”

She looked back at him, a flicker of emotion casting across her face, and Jack couldn’t help himself. “C’mere...” He opened his arms and let her step into them, wrapping them gently around her. His nose nuzzled into her neck slightly and he felt her swallow hard, causing him to tighten his grip.

They stood there for a moment, holding each other tightly, both needing the point of contact and yet revelling in the idea that they could now do something that most couples took for granted. At that thought, Sam loosened her grip and took a step back. Close enough to allow Jack to keep touching her, his arms falling to her waist and gripping the back of her shirt subconsciously. Sam merely raised her hand to cup his cheek. She didn’t even think when she leaned in to kiss him.

-0-

“I can see why you come here,” Sam murmured, her voice soft and warm. She was huddled under a blanket, leaning against Jack’s side as they both sat on a bench on the back porch. They each had a glass of wine in their hands - “we’re celebrating” was all Jack had said when he’d produced it instead of their usual beer as they’d prepared dinner.

“You know, this is the one place that always grounds me... I hope...” He risked a glance down at his side. “I hope it does the same for you...”

Sam couldn’t help but pause at his admission. “Charlie?” She whispered.

“Initially, yeah...” He sighed.

“It’s okay, you know,” Sam added. “About not talking about it – I understand.”

Jack merely studied her face for a moment.

“But if you do, want to that is... I’m here... I just want you to know that...”

Jack’s thumb trailed circles on her palm, his eyes flicking between their hands and Sam’s face. “I thought I brought you here to help you?”

Sam simply shrugged. “Maybe it’s like you say? This place has a soothing effect...”

“Thank you...” He all but murmured.

She placed her empty wine glass down by their feet and leant back into his side, her hand slipping up under his shirt. “Jesus!” Jack gasped, her cold hands trailing up his chest.

Sam merely grinned. “You know what they say... Cold hands, warm heart...”

Jack tried to look annoyed. “But that’s a cliché...”

Sam almost giggled. “You don’t say...”

They shared a long look before Jack pulled her in closer and Sam settled in against his chest.

In the sky the moon was high, bright and full - the first time in all their meetings under the stars. Sam couldn’t help but think that was a sign.

“Sam?” Jack murmured, his voice soft. Maybe he had noticed it too. “Are you happy?” He asked, gesturing at them, at their surroundings. “About this new direction – this new position the Air force has offered you...? About us...?”

Sam looked up into his eyes. As strange as it was, the fact that she was moving on after eight years of doing a job she loved; after finally admitting she felt something more than mere friendship for her commanding officer; and both being full of uncertainty, she’d suddenly never felt more certain about anything before.

“I’m happy,” She whispered. And then, before he could question her any further she leant up to kiss him. Long, soft and slow.

“You are going to teach me how to fish aren’t you?” She asked, her voice soft in his ear after they’d come up for air. She swears to God that Jack almost giggled. “What?” She asked.

“Last time we had this conversation, you were intent on discussing euphemisms...”

Sam merely grinned at him, a slight rise of her eyebrow, a slight tilt of her head. Jack was suddenly reminded of why he loved her wicked side. She looked as though she was about to question him again, but before she could utter a word, Jack covered her mouth with his.

Secretly, Sam loved clichés too.