TITLE: Saying It
AUTHOR: Little Red
RATING: PG for brief reference to sex.
CATEGORY: Sam/Jack. happy future *fluff.*
SUMMARY: Now that he can, he says it all the time.
DISCLAIMER: The dolls aren't mine, I'm just playing with them.
FEEDBACK: feed me at mylittleredgirl at gmail dot com
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Mind the fluff. I'm not kidding. Insulin may be required. Jack or Sam saying "I love you" in fanfic always seems to wig the heck out of me, probably because they trip all over themselves on the series *not* to say it, so I thought I would write a whole shamelessly fluffy fanfic to get myself over that. Also, I'm sick, and I was really craving something sweet and angst-free.
Now that he could, he said it all the time.
Maybe, after going for years without saying it, he felt like he had catching up to do. Sometimes, Sam wondered if Jack said it to remind himself daily that they weren't back in those first seven mind-blowing, grueling, bloody, exciting, and yes, frustrating, years, that this was new, that she really was there and really was his.
Maybe he said it just because he could. Or because it was true.
She was not about to complain. After all, she went for years without hearing it.
She asked him about it once, after the first few tumultuous, emotional months of getting used to the new roles they held in each other's lives began to settle into something more permanent. The novelty had by no means worn off (he and the stargate were perhaps the two things in her life that she hoped she would never, ever tire of), but once she stopped feeling the desire to break into happy, amazed, relieved tears quite so strongly whenever she heard it, she was curious.
"You say that to me a lot," Sam observed. She hadn't consciously tried to sound dazed and smitten, but her voice seemed to do that automatically around him after he said things like that.
"Oh." Even so, she could almost hear his careful defenses rising. She had served with him long enough to tell when he felt that his position was possibly insecure. "Does it bug you?"
"Nonono," she backpedaled quickly. "It just... surprises me."
"Huh." With that, Jack snuggled slightly closer and nudged her with the arm that had already snuck her night-shirt up to wrap around her bare waist until she rolled over to face him. At the distance of just a few inches in the shadowy bedroom, illuminated only by the light on the stairwell that one of them had forgotten to shut off, they couldn't see much of each other anyway, but she wasn't about to move away. "Why?"
She shrugged in his arms. She had never expected it. Especially from him, but really from anybody. Never in her life had she been told every single day that she was loved. Most of her boyfriends either hadn't, in retrospect, loved her at all, or they had shied away from the actual words except when they were absolutely necessary -- to get her into bed or otherwise coerce her, to end or prevent a fight, to keep her from walking out, to soften bad news, or to drive home an apology. Her father had certainly loved and adored her mother, but Sam had only heard him actually say so aloud when her mother was upset or when he was leaving for a tour of duty in some distant region of the country or globe. "I love you" was a thing he wrote on postcards, when he remembered to send them.
Until now, she had always assumed that this was universally true. Her all-knowing university girlfriends, with their less intensively bookish personalities and without military fathers who made no secret of the fact that they knew how to use assault rifles, had been dating longer than she had and they corroborated this. Men treated "I love you" as a phrase that etiquette required in specific situations, not unlike "please" or "thank you." Saying it unnecessarily, apparently, showed weakness.
As far as Jack went, she was especially surprised. He had never been a man of words. She knew, because although so much of him was still unexplored she still somehow knew him, that he felt things deeply, that he was driven by emotion and instinct rather than the rational, analytical world that she liked to inhabit. But he didn't talk about it. He hated talking, period, when actions could be taken and things could be changed rather than just... contemplated. And about himself? He had his own personal, metaphorical stargate iris, so that no probing question thrown his way could even materialize anywhere near the answers.
His eyes gave it all away, and perhaps that was why he wore sunglasses even on gray, rainy planets until they actually impeded his ability to see. When it had started getting to the point where she could, without her conscience running her through an imaginary gauntlet of professional rules of conduct, contemplate having an actual relationship with him, she had expected to be content with only his eyes to prove how he felt about her. It had been mostly all that she'd had during the long, stifling, hyper-platonic affair they'd been engaging in for nearly all of his tenure as commanding officer of SG-1 -- a few scattered instants of unbridled emotional honesty in his eyes that had completely overwhelmed any walls she'd cobbled together around her fragile heart. She had known that those eyes, and what they often seemed to reveal only to her, would still be enough for her if and when they were really together.
And it would have been. She knew almost every single time he looked at her how much she meant to him, and it was still overwhelming.
But he said it anyway. All the time. Every night.
"What?" He laid a hand on her shoulder where she rested against him to bring her back from her train of thought, to remind her that he'd asked her a question, asked her why she thought it was strange.
"I don't know. I just didn't expect it would be important to you." She could still talk the ear off of any sentient creature about her latest discovery of alien technology, a trait Jack found much easier to deal with now that he could legally distract her with sex, but she was realizing anew that when it came to personal thoughts, to her own feelings, she sometimes had just as much trouble expressing herself as he did. Well, as he did, with the one notable exception they were presently discussing. "You do say it a lot," she added, because her earlier reply felt inadequate on its own. "I was just wondering."
He spoke into her hair. "I mean it a lot."
And although she'd thought she had gotten that reaction mostly under control, her suddenly shaky body was once again threatening her with awed, breathless tears.
"Thank you," she managed to reply, smiling at him, uncaring if he saw how glassy her eyes were. She no longer had to be a strong soldier to be valuable to him.
He was still a guy, of course. Still Jack. He never said it around other people. Although they were no longer breaking any of the really important Air Force regulations by being together now that he was overseeing the training operations and she, sporting the new Lieutenant Colonel title that Jack was possibly prouder of than she was, was commanding the new SG-1, neither of them said it when they were on-duty. Amazingly, he never employed it to win arguments or get his way, but that might have been because his command voice still worked on her a little. It had only been six months, after all, since she was under his direct command, and though she was getting better at it and it now felt natural to talk back at home without fear of him pulling the superior rank he still held over her at work, he still hadn't used the fact that he loved her as a bargaining chip.
He rarely ever said it during the day at all, except when it was clear that one or both of them needed it, when one of them returned overdue from a mission gone wrong, when death had been narrowly defied yet again with a penance of one kind of injury or another, or, once, when a bad mission had left her body intact but her confidence seriously shaken. She was new to the burdens of command, but he understood, and the first time she'd lost someone off-world she had shaken in his arms for nearly an hour while he told her over and over that, no matter what happened out there or what happened in his kitchen when she'd tearfully broken under the strain of keeping her brave face intact, he loved her.
He said it at night, when they were cuddled up in his bed or, sometimes, hers, regardless of whether or not they'd had sex, when she was happy and warm and just on the brink of falling asleep. They had most of their deeper conversations there, skin to skin, in murmurs and whispers under the cover of darkness. When he said it then, she usually didn't reply in kind. After the all-encompassing warmth and devotion that seemed to exceed his words themselves, making even her toes shiver, "I love you, too" sounded trite to her.
She had to find her own times to say it. Invariably, she always gasped it out during sex, because when their bodies were joined and his eyes met hers she felt it so strongly that there was no way it could be contained in her thin frame, and it leapt out of her mouth like a living entity of its own. Although it took more courage that way, she liked to say it apropos of nothing, when the emotion built up in her to the point where she would hug him close in whatever room of whichever of their houses they were in -- she, also, was shy about saying anything or being too cozy anywhere but at home after seven long years of hiding anything and everything they felt for each other -- and tell him.
"I love you, Jack."
She liked saying it in normal light, outside of their comfortable, dark bedroom cocoon, because his face was so remarkable whenever she did. Every time she caught new nuances of expression, of emotion. He always, every single time, looked surprised that she said it, that she meant it, that she, Samantha Carter, could possibly be in his life that way. Sometimes, less and less as they got more comfortable with their new dynamic, he even asked her, "What for?" not because he was fishing for compliments, but because he genuinely seemed to think he wasn't worthy of her, that she was some sort of karmic clerical error in his favor.
She didn't have a good answer for him. She did, but she was completely unsure how to put it into words beyond the few that she had already used without sounding ridiculous. People had always considered her mind remarkable, raising her up on scientific pedestals, but she only ever felt whole for him, like she was a wonderful human being in her entirety and not just valuable for all that she could do. For a long time, she hadn't been sure what that feeling was, the unusual sensation of not missing something obvious, not desperately striving for anything, just being and being okay with that. She loved him because he loved her, in a way that she had never thought it possible to be loved, and because he allowed her to love him back, as hard as she could, even after everything that he had lost.
And, after everything, now that they finally could, he let her tell him that she did, whenever she wanted to. Reminding them both that now this was okay. Making up for time that, now that they were finally together, they no longer considered 'lost,' just a necessary delay.
Because she meant it.
All the time.
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