Colonel Jack O’Neill sat in the small room, looking down at the swath of white bandages that circled most of his chest and stomach. He knew he’d been incredibly lucky to survive the staff blast, but Janet…he couldn’t think about that just yet; it was too painful. Reaching for a new black t-shirt that someone had brought in, he slipped it over his head, and was just pulling it down, when there was a tentative knock on the door, followed by the messy blond hair of Major Samantha Carter. The red-rimmed eyes told him that she’d been recently crying. He couldn’t blame her; if he were still capable of crying, he probably would as well. After all he’d seen and done in his life though, he was fairly certain he had no tears left.
They stared at each other for a long moment before speaking. When they finally broke the silence, it was with inane small talk about his injuries, to briefly discussed Janet, but not much, they'd talk about it later, when the wound wasn't so fresh and raw, and Cassie, who had now lost her second mother, but if asked, Jack couldn’t have given any specifics. His mind was a whirl of emotions, and he wasn’t certain he knew what to do with them all. Keeping emotions under tight reign was something Jack O’Neill did, almost without fail, and he felt his grip falter. He was pulling on a fresh BDU shirt, trying to concentrate on the buttons, more to keep his mind occupied than anything else, when he heard Carter take a deep breath. He glanced over at her.
“Sir ... I ... I just wanted to say,” she paused, and licked her lips. “When you were lying there I ...” He could see her battle her emotions, and admired her even more for it. Her eyes, full of pain, briefly met his, before she closed them, then glanced to the side. His heart hurt watching her. “I'm really glad you're okay.” The tears sparkled in her eyes, but he could tell she was fighting hard to keep them from falling.
Jack looked at her, his own emotions dangerously close to the surface, and knew exactly what she meant. Part of him wondered what he would do if she had been the one hit by the staff blast. He felt his stomach roil, and his heart clench at the very thought. She’d seen him go down, and done what they weren’t supposed to. She’d broken cover to get to him, and he knew he would have done the exact same thing.
Each tear that surfaced was a small dagger slicing into his flesh. He tried to resist the urge to move closer to her, but closing the space between them was inevitable, and he knew it. His glance flicked down to her lips. God, he needed to feel her; needed to prove to himself that they were both alive. He lifted his arm toward her, and said softly, “C’mere.”
She moved easily forward and wrapped her arms around him. He sighed into her hair. This felt right. This was what he needed. He needed her, the one thing that was forbidden. Tightening his embrace, Jack dropped his head to bury his face in her neck, and inhaled the scent of her freshly scrubbed skin. She smelled warm and welcoming. It was a scent that was undeniably Carter, and it did him in. He couldn’t resist, and knew better than to even try. He’d nearly died, and for just this moment, allowed his carefully built walls to crumble. Her skin was soft beneath his face, and he placed an angel light kiss just below her ear. When her breath came out erratically, and her head tilted away, giving him better access to her neck, he knew he was gone. He knew he had to take this moment. He kissed his way down her neck, and his tongue dipped into the hollow of her throat, causing her to gasp. He kissed his way back up, then dropped warm kisses along her jaw, until he reached the corner of her mouth. She hadn’t stopped him, but he couldn’t move the final fraction of an inch without a signal from her. Her head turned into him, bring her lips against his, and he trembled. He met hers reverently, but when her mouth opened, and her breath mingled with his, he deepened the kiss, his tongue sliding into her mouth, exploring its velvety warmth. A hand moved to the back of his neck, drawing his head even closer to hers, and he groaned heavily. He hadn’t realized they were moving until he felt her back hit the door. He was grateful it was there to keep them both standing, as his knees nearly buckled at the sheer pleasure of holding her like this. Tightening an arm around her waist, he drew her body firmly against his, pressing his hips against hers. Jack relished in the feel. The brief moment he held her, and kissed her back in the time warp, was nothing compared to this. He’d been a fool to even think he could spend the rest of his life never tasting her again.
He brought his free hand up to tangle in the soft, blonde hair, before pulling his mouth away a fraction of an inch. He whispered her name, “Sam. Sam.” Jack kissed the corners of her mouth, and ran his tongue along her lips, before slipping it back inside her mouth, to tangle with hers. He wanted to remember every little detail of what she felt like. Somewhere, deep in the back of his mind, he knew he had to stop, but he pushed the thought away with shocking fierceness. Duty, and Air Force regulations be damned. He had to have this, her, or he might drown in his own misery. Carter brought him life. Carter made him whole.
By the time they broke apart, simply because of the need for oxygen, they were both panting heavily. Jack had no idea if it had been 10 minutes or an hour that he’d held her, but he knew he never wanted to let go. He took a deep breath before pressing his forehead against hers. Her blue eyes met his, tears shimmering in them again, and he felt a jolt anger and loss as the real world came crashing down around him. This was wrong according to the Air Force, but nothing had felt so right since… well, since the sound of a gunshot destroyed his entire world. As right as it felt though, as right as she felt, he knew it couldn’t continue, and reality hit him harder than any staff blast ever could. He took swift step back, reluctantly breaking his hold on her.
“Oh, god, Carter. I shouldn’t have done this. I can't regret a moment of it, but I shouldn’t have-”
She looked as confused as he felt, but he carried on. “I-I’ll talk to General Hammond. You can start the report procedure as soon you like. I’ll have someone else take over SG1.” He ran a shaky hand down his face. What had he done? He’d ruined everything. He'd lose SG1, and her, all in one fell swoop. All because he couldn't stop himself from loving her.
“For someone so smart, you can be incredibly stupid,” Sam said. It was a complete shock when he her hands grabbed his lapels, and hauled him forward. It was too quick for him to stop it, and before he knew what was happening, Sam was pushing her lips against his, hard, and hungry. He wanted to resist, but he had no more strength left in his reserves. He wrapped his arms around her again, and she melted in his hold. He felt a brief moment of awe at the thought that Sam Carter melted against him, making every inch of his body feel like it was on fire. He wanted nothing more than to burn up in her embrace. He kissed her back with everything he had. His hands roamed from her waist up to the nape of her neck, reveling in the beauty that was Carter. Sam. She was Sam. His Sam. “No,” he said softly, leaning back from her. She wasn’t his. “Sam-Carter, as much...as much as I want to, we can’t do this. You know…you know…” He couldn’t finish his sentence.
She nodded her head, eyes downward. “It wasn’t just about comfort. Not for me.”
A crushing weight settled over him at the pain in her quiet confession. He put a finger under her chin, and lifted her face so he could look in her eyes. “Me neither,” he told her, stroking her cheek. They stood for a moment, dark brown eyes, staring into crystal blue ones, each lost in their own aching hollowness.
“Jack?” Sam’s voice was tentative, and her gaze fell. “Before we…” she motioned vaguely to the door behind her, “I know we shouldn’t, but…could we…just…one last time?” Her eyes came back up, pleading with him.
He knew what she was asking. Looking deep into her eyes, he leaned down and brought his lips to hers. It wasn’t a wild, passionate kiss like they’d shared before, but a gentle, sad kiss. A kiss of lovers parting, not knowing when they’d see each other again. His lips were firm, but undemanding, and she responded in kind. He took the breath, and life she gave him. He finally pulled back, and stared at her watery eyes. “I-I…”
“I know. Me too,” she told him with a sad smile.
He reluctantly stepped back, and instantly felt the loss of her warmth. “You should probably go.”
She nodded, turned, and reached for the door handle. “I’ll never forget this.”
“Me neither,” he told her, before turning away. He couldn’t watch her leave; couldn’t watch Sam walk away, back into the world where she was Carter, and he had no right to touch her. When he heard the door shut behind him, anger slashed through him. The bland grey walls pressed in, reminding him yet again of how bleak his life was without her. He’d lost a friend on the battlefield, and now he’d had to push away the woman he loved. He could admit to himself that it was love. He’d tried to deny it, but he could no longer lie to himself. He loved her, and had for a long time. More years than he cared to think about. Somehow she’d become his…everything.
He waited until he was certain she was too far away for him to catch her, and stepped through the door, back to the world where he couldn’t kiss her again.