She slowly played with the mouthful of whisky on her tongue before swallowing it. There was something pleasing and appropriate about the way it burnt. She swirled the viscous liquid around in the tumbler, watching the golden liquid coat the sides of the glass. The fumes blended agreeably with the smell of damp wood as she sat on the steps of the deck. It had started to rain again but it only fit her mood.
Maybe she should be crying, or helping tidy up, or spending time with her remaining family members. Instead she was on her third glass of single malt 12 year old scotch whisky, drinking alone on the General's deck.
She was angry. As the dark clouds were rolling in overhead releasing their burden on her, the whisky was releasing something inside of her. Instead of being upset that he was gone, she was just angry. Angry that he'd never call her kiddo again, even if she never really liked it. Angry that he'd not even mentioned there was a problem till it was too late. Angry that she never got the chance to say goodbye to Selmak who had come to mean a great deal to her. Angry that the universe had taken another parent from her.
She took another too large sip, and held it in her mouth until the fumes filled her up, then swallowed and felt it's warmth all the way down to her stomach. Now she was on a roll. She was angry with the Tok'ra for making a mess of the funeral arrangements. She was angry with the weather for not being able to hold out for one god damn day. She was angry with her brother, who's method of grieving was to blame her for everything as if she represented the entirety of the Air Force that took his father away. She was angry at Pete for that house thing, for not even being able to manage a basic amount of respect, and for making her feel like an accessory which was something she had never wanted to feel again. She was angry at the General too, for not telling her about Miss Johnson and making her look like an idiot. And she was angry at herself for being so stupidly in love with him in the first place.
She lifted her glass to take another sip and found it empty. There was something completely enraging about an empty glass at the wrong moment.
"Damn it!" she yelled, hurling the glass across the deck where it smashed against the bench, almost scratching an itch but not quite. It only served to make her feel guilty, stupid and more angry, mostly at herself.
The door squeaked behind her and she took a deep breath and straightened her spine. Where she expected sarcastic words, instead appeared another glass at her shoulder, an inch of golden liquid dancing in the bottom. She took it with wordless gratitude and sipped. He sat beside her and she glanced up at the shadow appearing above her to see he'd produced an umbrella. She almost rolled her eyes. How could she be angry with him when he was being so perfect? He'd looked after everything without complaint, even the Tok'ra and her brother. She felt the brush of his shoulder and leant against it, unable to resist the steadfastness.
"Sorry," she whispered, finding her voice after what felt like an age of sheltered silence.
"Meh," he shrugged.
She had no idea what it was that sparked the thought, but she was suddenly invaded and consumed with one pivotal question. In this moment of silence, after everything had calmed and stilled, the question bubbled to the surface. Moments pieced together like a jigsaw. Always? Always?
"Do you love me?" she asked firmly.
"I'm sick of beating around the bush."
"Ah, yes, that bush."
"Yeah," he breathed, like he was releasing a burden.
"Yes?" It was irritating the way her heart rate had suddenly increased.
"Yes, I'm in love with you," he said, much more emphatically.
And not just what she'd asked, which could be meant in different ways, but unmistakably clear. In love. She'd been half expecting some kind of admission of feelings, but to hear those words specifically, from his lips, was staggering, and... and... infuriating. She stood up knocking the umbrella out of his grasp.
"Could you not have mentioned this earlier perhaps?! I got engaged! I nearly got married for crying out loud! I was picking out stupid flowers! Shit! I mean... Why the hell did you not...? I needed to know..."
"Carter... Sam..." He stood up and almost put a hand on her arm, before deciding against it. "I'm still your Commanding Officer, and you never said anything and well... I thought you'd be better off..." His tone was aggravatingly consolatory.
"You won't be forever, and I tried talking to you, more than once, and shouldn't it be up to me to decide what I'm better off with anyway, rather than people deciding shit for me?! What the hell is wrong with me that all the men in my life think I can't make my own decisions?!" She stormed back into the house, seeking escape but lacking her usual outlet of motorbike, stargate, or fiendishly difficult scientific experiment. The door banged behind her, opened, then banged again. She put her glass down before she was tempted to throw it.
"Sam," his tender but firm voice reached her from close behind. "You're right, you should have had that information, and I'm sorry."
She spun around to find his eyes, to find the thing in his gaze that always made her feel stronger and better.
"I love you so much, damn it." Her voice faltered and trembled as the words spilled out, and she realised she was leaking tears and had no idea when it'd started.
He attempted to wrap his arms around her but she was sick of the pretence of his platonic, comforting embraces. Her shaking hands were pulling t-shirt material out of belted jeans.
She ignored him as well as the trickling tears, and slid cold trembling hands up over his warm body. His hands soothed over her head and back repetitively while he murmured things so softly she couldn't hear them. She was trying to silence the war in her mind with the comfort and physicality of his body but he was pacifying her as if she were an anxious dog, and it should have annoyed her but it was actually working. She crumpled a little against his chest, but she didn't want to sob in front of him. Pride pulled her away, turned her back to him and set her walking. She brushed the tears from her face ineffectually and made it halfway down his hallway.
She stopped as if an energy barrier separated her from wherever it was she was going. This time she wasn't separated from him, and nobody was going to die. No, that had already happened. Someone else she loved had died. She made a decision. She took a deep breath and did the scariest thing she'd ever had to do.
She turned and found his eyes with hers and let him see how unraveled and vulnerable she was without trying to stop it, hide it or excuse it.
"Jack?" she sobbed, testing the way his name sounded on her lips.
He smiled, just slightly, in a way that reached inside her and warmed her down to her toes. He came to her with unwavering focus and an intensity that made her tremble. He slid one arm around her body and one hand around the back of her head and kissed her full and long and with singleminded insistence.
Then he held her and let her cry a little until her breaths shuddered and she was inexplicably giggling into his shoulder.
"You're drunk," he said, pulling at her hair gently, a smile in his voice.
"And? If I can't get drunk at Dad's wake, when can I get drunk?"
"Wake's over. Everyone left a while ago."
"Just as well really."
"Are you still mad at me?"
"What do you need Sam?" he asked, pulling her head away so he could look at her with sincerity.
She knew what he was offering by the look in his eyes, the expression on his face, and the way he held every single muscle in his body. Just himself. Just everything. Her decision. Her choice. Except there was no choice, there never really had been.
"Only you," she answered in surrender.
Allowing herself to submit to her feelings was like giving up on an impossible problem, or letting the event horizon of a wormhole take you, or riding back warmer with your eyes closed on a fast bike, or the first step back when abseiling, and it was startlingly relieving.
"You want food too?"
And with that she knew life was going to keep moving forward, no matter what changed.
"Ok. You and food," she smiled.
"Good. I can do that. Two for one deal," he grinned.