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Beneath Everything

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He opened the door and there she was, the object of his thoughts for the past three weeks; the object of his thoughts for the past three months; and if Jack were honest with himself, the past three years as well.  She looked small and weak, standing at his doorstep, inches from entering his home, wearing an orange cardigan and looking more tempting than sin.  Damn.

“Carter,” he spoke into the hot air.  It was summer in this world, his world.  It had been an icy winter in theirs.

She looked down and didn’t answer, and he noticed she held a white sheet a paper that had been folded in half.  She looked back up but avoided looking him in the eyes.  “Can I come in?”

He raised his eyebrows at her lack of honorific.  She knew immediately he had noticed, and she was glad for it.  Feeling brave, or perhaps scared shitless, Sam pushed past him and entered his house.  Jack scooted to the side and made room for her in his entryway, and turned to close the door.  Sam slowly walked through the hallway and down the steps to his living room.

“Sure, make yourself at home,” he said, using sarcasm as a means to mask his uncomfortable state.  Jack O’Neill knew sarcastic, and he certainly knew gruff.

Sam ignored him, still unable to meet his gaze.  She sat down slowly on his couch, perched on the edge, and held the white, folded sheet of paper in her hands.  If there was a slight tremble to them, she was certainly trying to hide it.  “Have a seat, Jack.”

He froze.  “Have a seat, Jack?” he reiterated in a dumbfounded voice.  Being dumbfounded by this woman was no new thing to him; she was smarter than three of him put together.  But, being dumbfounded by her ease, her familiarity, her provocation of intimacy… well, this was new ground.

“Uh, yeah,” she looked up and met his gaze, finally.  “This needs to be a personal conversation.”

Jack tried to keep his eye lock with her for as long as she dared, but she was quick to look away once her point had been made.  She was being daring, but a bit unsure, like she hadn’t quite decided on a plan.  He came further into the room and chose the seat next to her on the couch, not too close, but close enough; if she wanted to have a personal conversation, then so be it.

“Okay, Sam,” he emphasized her given name in a way that made her close her eyes and take a deep breath.  They had kept their distance, since returning from the ice planet, meeting only once, at a diner outside the mountain.  He had arrived first and ordered two coffees.  She had shown up ten minutes later, and had left without taking a sip, five minutes after that.  The conversation had been simple and to the point.  No, they would not reveal Jonah and Thera’s relationship on their mission reports.  No, they would not let what happened affect the team.  It had been a necessary move, both to protect Sam’s career, and to protect the existence of SG1.  It was for the good of all involved, feeling feelings be damned.

“Um,” she began, opening and closing her mouth, then wetting her lips with her tongue in a way that made Jack swallow and shift in his seat.

“Interesting choice in color,” he stated, giving her a moment to compose herself, or not.  It completely shifted her focus. Her eyes darted around the room.

“Pardon?”

Jack pointed his chin in her general vicinity.  “The orange,” he said while picking a piece of lint off his jeans, “it works for me.”

He saw her look down and partially deflate.  She wasn’t quite sure where the comment came from, but she thought he was being an ass.  Fine, she could be an ass too.  There was a long silence and Jack allowed it, then, he heard Sam’s intake of air.

“I’m pregnant,” Sam whispered on the exhale.