Title: "Falling"

Author: Little Red

Rating: PG

Category: mini!otp, angst

Summary: She dreams she's back there almost every night.

Dedication: For , who made pretty, inspirational icons and doesn't mind when I write angst.

Author's Note: More fic written longhand to put myself to sleep. Tammy beta'd and provided a title. She makes me look smart and rocks my world. :)


****


She dreams she's back there almost every night.

Sam usually knows she's dreaming -- has always had that ability, even as a child -- but tries to pretend that she isn't, tries to call to memory enough detail of the smells and sounds and textures of the SGC that she will believe it's real until the dream is over.

She wakes up before the clock-radio, young muscles tight against the coming day of being trampled by upperclassmen half her age in locker-lined hallways, of advanced algebra and vocabulary quizzes in little blue books.

Jack is always awake before she is, somehow, on these mornings. His arms are already around her as she wakes, like he's catching her.

"It's okay, Sam," he whispers, more a platitude than a promise.

Some mornings she shakes, or feels sick, or can't help but cry and pray that he will not hold her weakness against her. This time she rolls over into his chest and groans.

"God," she mutters, breathing in his reassuring scent (so different than it was and will be when he's older, but so much the same). "I'm so sick of that."

He's combing fingers through her hair. She was growing it out, for a while, but that only made her look more like the picture on her original learner's permit from twenty years ago. "Same dream?"

The dreams are all different, actually, but the theme of their old life is constant. "Yeah."

Elements from her new life -- her friends, her teachers, her young also-cloned boyfriend in his current state -- never make appearances in these dreams. More and more she feels as though she doesn't belong in them herself. This bed is real, this apartment, this body -- cursedly so. She doesn't know, some mornings, what she wants more: for the tie to her past to be stronger, or for it to be gone.

She will adjust, someday. She will, because otherwise she'll die, and Samantha Carter doesn't do that. And she is Samantha Carter, no matter what her understanding of the science involved tells her. She remembers. She feels. She hates and rages and smiles, sometimes, and wants to be good in the very same way that she used to.

And she loves.

Jack is nuzzling her hair now, his breathing slowing. He tends to drop back off to sleep once he's ascertained she's okay, unless he senses there's a good chance of sex before homeroom.

"How was it?" He mumbles the question about her dream world, the most reliable contact they have with any form of the SGC. He doesn't dream it himself. He doesn't dream at all anymore, he told her. He used to, and the implications of that -- that he isn't the man he was, or isn't real at all -- seem to disturb him as much as they do her. She holds him in the morning sometimes, too.

"It was fine," she tells him. "Long boring briefing. Kinsey was there."

"Joy."

"You told him off."

There's a pause. Then, "How did he look?"

She knows he doesn't mean Kinsey.

Colonel O'Neill. General now, they've heard, but always Colonel in her dreams.

"Old," she answers honestly. He squeezes her a bit tighter.

"I'm glad you're here," she admits, hating to think how she would bear sleeping in this apartment alone.

He doesn't reciprocate right away. She understands why it's harder for him to say, knows that in many ways he wishes she wasn't here, that she hadn't been created in his image, that -- and he's never put it quite so bluntly -- she didn't exist for her own sake. He sees how hard it is for her, sometimes. He knows how bad it gets.

He thinks she will grow to resent him.

"I'm glad I'm here, too," she says. She doesn't really mean it, but she means it in the important ways. She can't imagine how he would bear sleeping in this apartment alone, either.

Finally he whispers, "Me, too." He presses a kiss to her forehead and holds it there, like he can convey everything he means to say through that simple contact. His voice is rough when he speaks again. "We've got time. Go back to sleep."

She nods into his chest and shuffles a little to get comfortable, and hopes she doesn't dream of anything but this.

- end -

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