Sam slicked her hands over her head as the water from the showerhead sluiced over her, rinsing off the shampoo and the dirt from the latest SG-1 mission. Her last SG-1 mission. In less than three weeks, she would be transferring to Atlantis. It had come as a bit of a shock to her. The past few weeks had been somewhat of a blur, with the meetings and the paperwork and the constant thoughts that this would be the last time she did a particular task. The last time she playfully slugged Cam before going through the ‘Gate. The last time she attended a post-mission briefing with the team. Hell, even the last time she would eat MREs with Teal'c made her tear up.
Of course, she still had three weeks. Three weeks to wrap everything up, to say her goodbyes. And it wasn't like she wouldn't be back. But it just wouldn't be the same and everyone knew that. Lieutenant Colonel Carter, member of SG-1, was leaving for good and Colonel Carter, commander of Atlantis, was appearing in her place. No promotion yet - General O'Neill had insisted on being present and, due to his schedule, the ceremony was being held tomorrow. Following that, the plan was that she would fly back to Washington, D.C. with him for a myriad of meetings and then return to Colorado to wrap things up before heading to Atlantis.
A week in D.C. with General O'Neill. Sam wasn't sure if the fluttering in her stomach was due to the thought of the meetings or the thought of being in the same city as her former commanding officer for an entire week. She and General O'Neill... Jack... were... well, the only way she could describe it was that they were courting. It sounded so old fashioned, but their relationship had definitely been progressing in an old fashioned manner. They had been on a few dinner dates, and there had been a few nice goodnight kisses, but that was it. He had suggested a weekend trip somewhere, but with her schedule and his schedule, those plans had never been finalized.
And now she was about to leave the galaxy. She wasn't sure, but she suspected a move of that magnitude did not bode well for their budding romance.
Cameron had insisted that they celebrate tonight. Nothing fancy, nothing overtly planned, just a night out at a local bar to celebrate her last trip through the ‘Gate with the team. Which was how she found herself sitting across the table from Vala, who was telling her the story of one of her favorite heists. One of her many favorite heists.
"And then, just as I expected, he went to pull his gun. Of course, I had swapped out his weapon with a child's toy while he was... otherwise occupied," Vala said with a slight leer, leaving no doubt as to how she had distracted her target. Cameron and Teal'c had gone to the bar for another round of drinks and Daniel had excused himself to make a phone call. Sam found herself glancing towards the door. She fully expected Jack to show up sometime tonight. It wasn't like him to miss a party, after all.
"Samantha? Who are you looking for?" Vala asked, finally noticing Sam's distraction.
"Oh, no one in particular," she replied quickly. "Just taking it all in, seeing who's here."
"Well, you'd have an easier time noticing who was here if you looked around the whole room, not just at the door. Now, come on. Who are you really waiting for?" Vala said with a grin, crossing her arms on the table and leaning towards Sam.
Sam laughed and shook her head at Vala. "No one, really, Vala."
Vala raised an eyebrow at this response and a grin spread across her face. "Oh, I don't believe that at all, Samantha. I think perhaps you're expecting a certain General to show up. He is due in from D.C., isn't he?"
Sam opened her mouth and considered denying the allegation, but finally just took a deep breath and smiled a little sheepishly. "Maybe."
Vala laughed and clapped her hands together. "Perfect," she replied gleefully.
"What's perfect?" Daniel asked as he returned to the table and slid into the seat next to Vala.
"Why me, of course," she responded, winking at Sam.
Daniel shook his head. "Why do I even ask?" he muttered with a slight eye-roll. "I just got off the phone with Jack. His meetings today ran late and he didn't make his flight, but he'll be here for the ceremony tomorrow and insists we not have too much fun without him. And he wants us all to do dinner tomorrow night."
Sam did her best to hide her disappointment. "Is he buying?" she quipped.
Daniel shrugged. "I think that's only fair, don't you?"
Sam was more than a little bleary eyed when she pulled her car into the SGC parking lot the next morning, Vala chattering the whole way, much as she had done most of the night. A girls only night had seemed like such a good idea when they were leaving the bar, but now, she wasn't so sure. She had just settled in behind her desk with a steaming mug of coffee when there was a knock in her doorway.
"Morning, sunshine," Jack said, slightly sarcastically, as he walked into her lab. "Rough night?"
"Sir!" she responded in surprise. "When did you get here? I wasn't expecting you until much later."
"Been here 'bout an hour," he responded, glancing at his watch. "Probably the first time I've ever beaten you here. And the last. This place is boring when no one's around," he said as he started playing with the various items strewn across the lab table. Some things never changed and she was glad for it.
"There's a full night shift," she responded with a smile. "I'm sure you weren't exactly alone."
"Well, you know. No one I want to talk to. Besides, apparently having a General wandering the halls at all hours makes people nervous." He picked up a tube of antibiotic ointment sitting near her coffee cup and peered curiously at it. "I thought you guys all came through the ‘Gate unscathed this time?" he frowned, holding the tube questioningly.
"Oh. We did. That's just, you know, I keep it around, just in case," she responded a little too quickly.
"You keep it around, just in case you get injured, and you keep it within arm's reach?" he asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Yes," she responded, casually sipping from her mug.
"Sam," he said, staring intently at her. "Spill. What'd you do, and are you hiding the fact that you should probably have stitches in this wound?"
She set her mug down and sighed, rubbing at her eyes. "It was Vala's idea," she began. "And it seemed like such a good idea at the time. She said I needed to do something to celebrate. And I was tired and a little melancholy, so..." she trailed off.
"So...?" he asked with a wave of his hand.
She sighed and stood up from her chair. She pulled the hem of her shirt out of her pants and unfastened her belt. Jack’s eyebrows shot up as she undid the top button of her pants and pushed them down a bit, revealing a large white bandage low on her stomach, near her hip. "I haven't taken the bandage off yet," she explained simply.
"A tattoo, Carter?" he asked, his eyes showing his surprise. When she nodded, he smiled. "Have to admit, it's not what I expected. I figured you had accidentally chopped off a finger or something."
"Oh, that'd be easy to hide," she grinned.
"Well, you know. Or something." He gestured at her abdomen. "What is it?"
Rather than explain, she began to pull at the tape securing the bandage while trying to retain some modesty and keep her pants from falling to the floor. He walked over to her and reached for the bandage.
"Let me," he said softly. He pulled the tape from her skin gently, so as not to irritate the freshly inked skin. He carefully pulled the bandage away from her skin and revealed the tattoo. He softly ran his fingers over the red marks left by the tape. She gasped slightly and he glanced at her face.
"Sore?" She shook her head silently. "I like it," he smiled.
"I thought it was appropriate," she said, staring down at the gate symbol for Earth, now permanently inked in black on her pale skin. "It was Vala's idea. Kind of a reminder of home for when I'm off in another galaxy."
He grinned. "I like Vala more and more every day. She keeps Daniel on his toes and now she convinces you to get a tattoo. I never thought I'd say this, but I think she's becoming a good influence on you," he said, his fingers still dancing along her stomach.
Sam laughed, more than a little distracted by his fingers brushing against her. "I should probably go clean this," she said softly.
Jack pulled his fingers back and grinned at her. "And put your dress blues on too. I hear we have some sort of a ceremony planned. Something about a promotion or some such thing."
She grinned at him. "Something like that, yeah," she said as she fastened her pants and tucked in her shirt.
He picked up the tube of antibiotic ointment and handed it to her. "I am proud of you, Sam. You know that, right?" She blushed and nodded. "You're going to be great at Atlantis. Dinner tonight to celebrate?"
She nodded. "Daniel said something about a team dinner."
"Oh, right," he said after a pause. "Dessert after, to celebrate? Just us?"
That fluttering in her stomach was back. "Sounds great."
"Perfect. Wear something that shows that off," he said, gesturing towards her tattoo.
She raised an eyebrow. "I'm not entirely sure I can do that without being arrested for indecent exposure," she said with a laugh.
He quirked a smile. "I meant for dessert," he said.
"Oh, right," she said, butterflies working in full force now.
"Any chance of getting a little Homer tattoo next to that? Extra reminder of home?" he asked, cutting the tension that had suddenly appeared in the room.
She laughed. "That was my second choice," she responded.
He grinned at her. "I'm going to go bug Danny-boy now," he said as he turned to leave. "I'll see you in the ‘Gate Room. But later, we're going to seriously discuss how great Homer would look on your other hip. Just so you know."