a/n: thanks to dj and allie.
disclaimer: i do not own.
Sam squirmed in her sleeping bag. Something hard was poking into her shoulder and she instinctively slanted her body away from it.
The thing, whatever it was, followed, prodding her harder. How strange.
The prodding turned into jabbing, and it was enough to finally pull Sam off the brink of sleep and into dozy consciousness. O’Neill was bending over her, his breath making little puffs of whiteness in the cold air.
“Carter? Carter! You awake?” he asked in a stage whisper, and Sam groaned.
“Is it 0100 already?” she asked sleepily, raising herself on one elbow and trying to disentangle her watch arm from the inside of her sleeping bag. It certainly didn’t feel like she had been asleep for her allotted four hours.
“What? Oh, no. Not yet.” He glanced nervously over at the sleeping Jaffa and Kelownan.
“Then what are you waking me for?” Sam said crossly, falling limply back down into the folds of material and rolling slightly to one side. If she could just close her eyes….
“Carter!” Jack poked her again. “Get up. There is something you have to see.”
She had to give him points for persistence. “Sir, it’s cold out there!”
“Going soft on me, Carter?”
Sam glared up at him. “Sir,” she said, bitingly, “I still have another three hours before my watch. It’s freezing out and my sleeping bag is warm. So if you’ll excuse me…” Pulling the green material of her sleeping bag over her head, she shut her eyes defiantly, hoping that he would get the hint.
She should have known better.
Cold fingers reached into the top of her sleeping back and touched the back of her neck. “Go AWAY!”
“You’re not going to let me sleep, are you sir?”
“Nope,” Jack told her promptly, and Sam could hear the smile in his voice.
Rolling her eyes, she conceded the battle and clambered reluctantly out of her sleeping bag. She bent over what was left of the fire, shivering as the cold wind bit into her unprotected hands and cheeks, and looked longingly toward her sleeping teammates.
A jacket whizzed through the air in her direction, and she only just caught it; shrugging it on, she glowered in her C.O.’s direction, but the action was lost on him as he’d already turned and was walking away, into the forest surrounding the camp.
“Hey, wait up!” she called after him, stumbling over an ice-covered log as she hurried to his side. “Where are we going?”
He smiled at her evasively. “You’ll see.”
“If it’s so special, why didn’t you wake Jonas and Teal’c up as well?” she asked huffily, not ready to forget that he had dragged her from a warm sleeping bag and into a frosty night.
“Jonas is too… too…” Jack paused, apparently trying to find the right word.
“Hey, *you* want to wake Teal’c?” Jack said, lifting an eyebrow.
Well, no, Sam thought. Ever since he lost Junior, Teal’c was immovable after he fell asleep and it was hell to wake him up for his watch. It had taken the combined effort of Jonas’ creativity, her practicality and brains and Jack’s basic evil streak to come up with foolproof way to get him up. Teal’c still hadn’t forgiven them.
The sound of the dried leaves and pine needles crackling underneath their feet filled a short silence, before Jack spoke again.
“Besides,” he said slowly, glancing down at her with an unreadable expression in his dark eyes, “I wanted to show just you, Carter.”
Something inside her stuttered at that, and she wrapped her arms around herself and tried not to look at his silver edged profile. It was hard to remember now that there had been a time where all she'd wanted was for him not to care for her, because it made it all a little easier to repress.
Lost in her thoughts, Sam flinched slightly in surprise when Jack gently touched her arm. She slowed instinctively, and looked up to see that the heavy tree cover was coming to an end. A mysterious, half surreal radiance was emanating through the gaps in the trunks, and, stepping out of the forest, Sam caught her breath.
“Oh… wow,” she breathed, staring out at the vista. What she had mistaken for a clearing was the edge of a plateau, and the ground dropped away not far from their feet, plummeting down into darkness. Stars drenched the land with a silver glow, and it seemed like she was poised on the edge of the world; the galaxy spread away, both overhead and below, thousands of tiny specks twinkling in every direction.
It took a Sam a minute to work out that it was a perfect, flawless reflection, created by one of the largest lakes she had ever seen, stretching on to the horizon. Dim mountain ranges, wreathed in clouds of mist, were barely perceptible on each side of the water.
“So beautiful,” she murmured, lost in the captivating view.
Jack didn’t answer; his eyes were racing across the heavens, searching for something particular in the dust storm of diamonds stretched out overhead. “That’s our sun,” he said softly, his gaze fixing on one pinprick of light. “See it?”
Sam tried to follow his gaze, but there were just too many stars.
“There…” Jack pointed. “You don’t see it?”
Sam slowly shook her head. Wormhole physics she could understand, but Jack O’Neill left her far behind when it came to astronomy.
Swiftly, he stepped behind her, clasping her right hand in his and lifting it, pointing their fingers up into the dark sky.
“See it now?” Jack’s words filtered into her comprehension too slowly, and he took her pause for a negative answer. Moving closer, till he was pressed intimately against Sam’s back, he spoke again. “Follow where I am pointing…”
Every word was breathed straight into the hollow of Sam’s neck, and she shuddered slightly, wondering if he had any idea of the effect he was having on her.
“How do you know that’s our sun, sir?” she asked, flustered to find her voice had quite unashamedly lowered itself a couple of notches.
“Well,” he breathed softly into her skin, and her stomach coiled tightly at the strange tension in his voice, “I don’t.”
Her brain seemed to process this statement very slowly, and then stuttered to an abrupt stop.
She titled her head to the right very carefully. He was gazing down at her, so very close, and this was not protocol, not even close.
And for once, she didn't care.
“Show me another star,” she said carefully, turning back to the sky, willing him to understand.
His breath tickled her neck, and her heart hiccupped. There was a long silence, and then Jack lifted their joined hands and pointed them at a bright speck shining serenely near the horizon.
“Well, that’s the Nox’ planet…”
“It’s brighter than the rest,” he quipped, dryly, and Sam laughed.
She felt him pull her to him a little tighter.
“Worth getting up for?” he asked, surprisingly tentative.
Reaching down, she found his other hand and laced her fingers into it. Just for a second, so brief it could almost have been accidental, his mouth touched her neck and Sam tightened her grip on his fingers. Then he released her gently, and Sam moved reluctantly away, the wind wrapping around her and claiming his body heat.
Looking up to where diamond dust storms whirled overhead, mirrored perfectly by the water in the valley below, she smiled.