Sam glanced up from her spot in the kitchen and caught sight of Jack picking up random bits of detritus littering the living room. He’d thrown a Christmas Eve party for SGC staff who had no place to go for the holiday. It was unusual for him to have people from the SGC, aside from SG1, at his house, as he zealously guarded his privacy, but she supposed his upcoming transfer to Washington, and a touch of nostalgia had prompted his decision. Many of the people had seemed a bit unsure of how to act when they first arrived, but his easy manner outside of his official role as their boss had charmed them all, and soon they’d begun to relax and have a good time.
She sighed heavily as she dried the glasses she’d washed. He was leaving the SGC. He was leaving her. He’d been a constant presence in her life for eight years, and she wasn’t quite sure what she was going to do when he wasn’t. They’d still talk and see each other as often as possible, given their new relationship status, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Jack could feel Sam’s gaze. From almost the day they’d met, he’d always somehow instinctively known when her eyes were on him. It had been unsettling at first, but it had eventually felt natural, like something that was just supposed to happen. Even when he hadn’t responded, he’d always felt the heat of her blue eyes on him. It was as strong as if she’d physically touched him. He’d lived for those moments, even when she’d looked at him in anger, frustration, or sadness, Jack reveled in knowing that her eyes were on him.
He looked up and caught her eyes. He thought he might one day drown in their crystal depths. A slow smile spread across his face, and his feet carried him towards her, almost of their own accord.
“Hey,” he said softly when he stood just a few feet from her.
“Hey,” she returned with a smile.
“So, have a good time?” He asked, rocking back on his heels.
A lump formed in Sam’s throat at the thought of not seeing him here, in his own home anymore. A wave of melancholy took over, and she didn’t trust her voice, opting to nod instead.
“So…” He floundered for things to say. “Siler. He, uh…really can’t hold his alcohol can he?”
Sam couldn’t help the silent chuckle. Siler had had only two drinks when he started singing Christmas carols, violently off key and telling everyone how much he loved them. He hadn’t been obnoxious or sloppy, just endearingly sweet. “At least he didn’t hurt himself.”
“Or anyone else,” Jack added. “For someone who knows as much about machines and how to repair them, as that man does, he’s an incredible klutz. I’m always a bit surprised by the fact that he still has all of his limbs and digits.”
Silence fell between them. They’d always done well with silence, had tried to keep many things silent at times, but this time it was edged with sadness.
“Sam.” His voice tinged with something like regret.
She was wrapped in his embrace before she could blink. She didn’t remember moving, but there she was, no longer standing at the sink, but across the room, his strong arms clutching her to him.
“It’s going to be okay,” he assured her. “We’re going to be okay.”
“I know,” she told him, her head pressed against his neck. “That doesn’t make it any easier, though.”
Jack put a finger under her chin, tilting her head up, so she was looking at him. “I’m doing this for us.”
“I know,” she said again. “It’s just that…I’m just going to miss you so much.”
“Ah, you’ll see me so often you’ll get tired of me.”
“I very much doubt that. I don’t think I could ever get tired of you.”
“You haven’t had the experience of me hogging the bed yet,” he commented, trying to cheer her up.
“I don’t know, you were always a bit of a tent hog,” she teased. The thought of a naked Jack O’Neill in bed with her sent a bolt of desire through her body. It was something she desperately wanted to experience.
“That’s just because I was trying to get closer to you.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her, making her laugh.
“If I hadn’t enjoyed waking up to find you practically pressed against me, I’d probably have traded tents with Daniel.”
“I don’t think I’d have tried to snuggle up to Daniel,” he joked.
Sam laughed again. “I should hope not. He’d probably snuggle you right back.”
Jack gave a fake shudder. “Ew, Carter.”
“Not like that.” She rolled her eyes at him. “I think it’d be involuntary on his part. You know how he is.”
“Don’t I, though? Mr. Let’s-talk-about-our-feelings. Ugh.”
She swatted at him. “Daniel is your best friend.”
“Actually, you’re my best friend,” he told her. “Daniel is a close second, but guy friends should drink beer and watch hockey, not sit around talking about…things.”
Sam looked surprised. “Me? What could you have to talk about?”
It was Jack’s turn to roll his eyes. “Weren’t you paying attention? Feelings. Always with the feelings.”
“You talked to Daniel about having feelings for me?” That was certainly a surprise.
He snorted, squeezing her tightly for a moment. “It’s like you don’t even know me, Carter. Of course, I didn’t talk about my feelings for you. That would have been…outside the rules, not that Daniel would have cared. He talked about my feelings for you, and badgered me silly about why I wouldn’t talk about them.”
“Ah, now it makes sense.” Of course, Daniel would have known about their feelings for each other, no matter how hard they tried to hide them and would have tried to get Jack to talk about them. While he understood the rules of the military, he’d always been quite vocal about how ridiculous many of them were.
“It’s really a miracle I haven’t killed him,” Jack remarked.
“Wouldn’t have done any good,” she told him. “He’d just come back.”
“Now, there’s the truth.”
Daniel had returned yet again a few months ago, just after her father’s death and she’d ended her engagement. He’d told her he didn’t believe she’d have gone through with the wedding. When she questioned why, he’d answered with what she knew to be the truth, “You can’t be with any man but Jack. ”
Sam put her head back on Jack’s shoulder. She thought she could stay there forever, enveloped by his arms and scent. It was a heady feeling, and she still marveled over the fact that she could now experience it in more than just her imagination. She supposed she technically wasn’t supposed to since they were still in the same command, but they were both getting ready to transfer, and after so many years they decided it really didn’t matter all that much. Well, mostly. They hadn’t yet taken the final step in their relationship, both still slightly a bit too military to step over that line just yet. No matter how much they both wanted it. That wasn’t to say they hadn’t done other things, though. She felt his hands slide down her back and shivered.
“C’mon, I have something for you. We need to go outside, though,” he told her.
Sam pulled back and gave him a skeptical look. “Outside? It’s freezing, out there.”
Jack kissed the top of her head. “We’ve faced worse. Bundle up, Colonel.”
Outside, Jack took Carter’s hand, pulled her to the side of the house and motioned to the ladder that led to the small observation deck he’d built on the roof. He remembered sitting up there, staring at the stars the night General Hammond sent someone to bring him back to the SGC and started him on the path that led him to Carter. “After you.”
Sam looked at him in confusion. “It’s not cold enough down here for you?”
“Trust me,” he told her. “Up you go.”
A few rungs up the ladder Sam felt one of Jack’s hands caress her behind.
He winked at her when she turned his direction. “I couldn’t help myself.”
“Anytime,” she replied saucily, wiggling a bit for his benefit.
When she reached the top, she pulled herself up to the snow-covered deck and waited for him to join her.
She’d been on the deck once before, a few years back when SG1 had gathered to watch a rather impressive meteor shower.
The two chairs were covered by tarps that were now weighted down with freshly fallen snow. A telescope was also sitting under a tarp, though it was evident it had only recently been placed up there.
Jack came over the edge and clapped his hands together. “Brisk.”
“Just a bit,” she agreed. “So, what’s going on?”
He pulled a tarp from the chairs, shaking off the snow, pulling them up to the tarp-covered telescope, and sitting down. Removing the tarp from it as well, he peered through the lens, and made a few adjustments, before moving to the other chair indicating that Sam should take the one in front of the telescope. “Have a look,” he told her. When she he, he asked, “Look familiar?”
Sam looked back at him, her eyebrows raised. “Polaris? I should hope so.”
“That’s my girl.” He winked at her. “Now, move it to Right Ascension 5 months, Declination 14 degrees, and tell me what you see.”
She fiddled with the knobs, setting the coordinates, and leaned back in. “Another star,” she told him, studying the giant blue star. “An O-type, I think. Probably at O-7 or 8 by the luminosity. Looks pretty young.” Sitting back, Sam stared up to see the star without the aid of a telescope and saw it glowing in the clear sky. While it was larger and brighter than Polaris, it was further away from the Earth, making it appear dimmer.
Jack leaned in, his mouth close to her ear. “Like it?” He asked softly.
His hot breath sent a shiver of longing through her. It was astonishing that any man could affect her so much without even touching her. “I do.”
“Good,” he said, “It’s yours.”
Sam’s brow scrunched together. “What do you mean mine?”
“I mean, you are now looking at the recently named, Carter.”
“You… bought me a star?”
“Nope, not bought,” he told her. “This isn’t one of those ridiculous star-naming scams, this is official, from the IAU. Recorded in the official star chart and everything.”
“You…got the International Astronomical Union to name a star after me?”
“I did,” He told her proudly. “I figure you deserve it.”
“You…how?” She asked, mind reeling. He’d given her a star.
“Well, I am a general, you know. I just made a few phone calls, called in a few favors, bothered a whole bunch of people, and made a nuisance of myself, until it finally made it to the IAU. There were also some very convincing statements from generals Hammond, Landry, and a bunch of other high placed people about how much you deserved it, and bam, there it is.”
He’d given her a star. “Jack. I don’t know what to say. This is the most amazing thing anyone has ever done for me.”
“You deserve it,” he assured her. “You’ve done more to save Earth than anyone I know. I thought about lobbying to have Earth renamed in your honor, but I didn’t think I could pull that off before Christmas.”
Sam kissed him gently on the lips. “I didn’t do it alone, you know. You guys were out there with me.”
“Carter, without that big brain of yours, there’s no way we would have accomplished half the stuff we’ve done, and made it home in one piece.”
She was overwhelmed by the emotions she felt for this man. “Thank you. This…this is the most amazing gift I’ve ever been given.”
Jack’s eyes grew serious. “I can’t say it wasn’t a bit for me, too. While I’m in DC, I can always look up and find you watching over me.”
“Jack,” she whispered, tears glistening in her eyes. His departure was in just a few weeks.
“Hey, hey.” He cupped her face with a hand a wiped the moisture away with his thumb. “No crying on Christmas. This night is meant for joy.” While he knew going to DC was the only way they could be together, even if they had to physically a thousand miles apart much of the time, he knew walking away from her would be devastating. He’d tried to retire, again, but the president refused his paperwork, offering DC as a compromise to get him and Sam out of the same chain of command. It was a harsh deal for both of them, but it at least gave them a chance.
She nodded. “You’re right. But how am I going to find you in the sky?”
Jack glanced up at the sky. “Every time you look at your star, you’ll know my heart is there.”
“Jack,” she said on a soft breath. She’d found that underneath his gruff exterior, he was incredibly tender.
“That’s not all,” he told her. Putting a hand in his coat pocket, he pulled out a small, wrapped package.
“What’s this?” She asked.
He gave her a sarcastic look. He was the only person she knew who could look sarcastic so effortlessly. “It’s called a present. People give them to each other. To find out what’s inside, you have to open it.”
“But, you already gave me the star,” she protested.
Jack shrugged. “Think of it as part of the same gift.”
She looked back to the star before taking the box. “Wrap this yourself?”
“I did. It only took me five tries to get it looking halfway decent.”
Turning the package over, she could see the wrapping didn’t quite meet, and there was practically and an entire roll of tape holding it together. “You did a great job. I appreciate the effort,” she told him sincerely.
“Open it,” he prompted.
Carefully peeling the paper from the white box, she lifted the lid to find a long, velvet box. She pulled it out and opened it. Inside was a gold bracelet that held several small star charms, each containing a diamond at their center. Midway through the bracelet was a larger, round charm with writing on it. She lifted it up to see it held a larger diamond and series of numbers written below it.
“The coordinates of your star,” he told her.
She looked at it for several moments before he told her to turn it over.
She flipped the charm over to find more writing.
In a sky full of stars, you shine the brightest. Yours Ålways, Jack
“I don’t know what to say,” she whispered. She thought she might cry at the thoughtfulness of his gift. “It’s the most beautiful gift anyone has ever given me.”
“I’m glad you like it.” He took the bracelet and clasped it around her wrist. The diamonds sparkled in the dim light. Lifting the center charm, he looked down at it before looking back at her. “I mean every word of it.”
“So…always?” She asked, unable to keep the hope from her voice.
Jack kissed her gently. “It’s always been you, Sam. From the day we met, even though I didn’t know it at the time, and it will always be you. Always.”
“Me too,” she told him. “Always.”
Trying to keep tears from welling up again, Sam leaned in and kissed him. His mouth opened to hers immediately, and his warm tongue slid against hers in the ageless way of lovers. Threading a hand through his silver hair, she’d long ago decided it was too bright and sexy to be considered grey, pulling him closer. She wanted to feel his body against hers, but the layers of clothing made that impossible. Pulling her head back, she looked into his eyes. They were dark with desire, causing a slickness to rush between her legs. “Jack, I…I know we said we’d wait until next week, but…I really want to experience you hogging the bed. Tonight.”
Jack’s eyes lit up. “Far be it for me to deny a lady.”
They shimmied down the ladder and headed to the house. They'd waited long enough. High above them, a special star twinkled in the cold December sky.