Title: "Blankets and Spies and Little White Lies"
Author: Little Red
Category: pants!verse Sam/Jack
Spoilers: None. Set in season 6.
Summary: The usual cuddling and silly angst.
Author's Note: I have been sadly neglecting the pants!verse. As per usual, Tammy enabled me.
Sam gets a little drunker than she means to at the long-planned team night, but it's nice to have an obvious reason to stay longer than everyone else. Jonas, proud of his new driving abilities, offers her a ride, and looks more than a little heartbroken that she turns him down. She invents an appointment in the morning that she needs her car for and explains that she'd rather just drink coffee and wait until her head clears.
"You really want coffee?" Jack asks after watching Jonas pull out of the driveway, checking the time on his new watch she helped him pick out last weekend. "It's getting pretty late."
She should tell him that she doesn't have any plans at all requiring a car, that she made that up and has really been thinking all night about spending the morning in his kitchen in the pajamas she left here doing last Sunday's crossword puzzle. She feels a little strange about how easily she lies to her teammates and friends now, especially because this really isn't something she should need to lie about.
Yes, taken by itself, her presence in his house on a Saturday morning wearing his spare slippers and with her hair unbrushed leads to an obvious conclusion, but they both know better. She isn't sleeping with her commanding officer (and isn't going to, no matter how easy it might seem after four beers and a James Bond movie spent with her head less than a foot away from his shoulder). It isn't a crime to like him as a person.
Or, rather, it's less of a crime. That bit of regulation grey area is something she has been careful not to think too much about. She's succeeding rather scarily well, and suspects her newfound selective disregard for detail is probably his influence.
She tells him she doesn't want coffee.
He smiles. "Tea?"
Fluids are probably a good idea. She's enjoying the lasting buzz, but she gets headaches as the alcohol wears off if she isn't careful.
"I can make it."
Jack shrugs, waving at her where she's curled up in a blanket on his couch, and his expression softens in a way that makes her chest warm happily. "I'm already up."
Sam closes her eyes and listens to him rattling around the kitchen. She's tempted to get up and help him -- not only is it polite, but she's normally pretty particular about how she makes her tea and how long she steeps it. The couch is warm, though, and although the only blankets he's got in the living room are pretty scratchy -- something she's been meaning to correct the next time they end up in a shopping center together -- the comfort is enough to keep her from moving. Not always, but sometimes, the perfect cup of tea is less important than having him make it for her.
She's drunk and warm (if a little itchy from the blanket), and he's humming something tuneless to himself as he waits on the kettle and loads the dishwasher, and she tiredly permits herself to think about how nice it is that she isn't on her way home in the back seat of the car Jonas signed out from the base. She likes that it would be strange for her to go back to her own house when it's already past midnight and she never even bothered to strip the sheets from his guest bed after she stayed over on Tuesday. She doesn't normally sleep over during the week, but a cable channel was having an X-Files marathon.
She drowsily wonders if this is almost what it's like to be with someone when it's good.
Sam is pulled out of her doze by a gentle hand on her forehead, stroking her bangs back from her face. She can tell she woke up smiling by the amused reciprocal expression on his face. He smiles at her so much more now, and real smiles, not just ironic smirks.
His smile turns into a bit of a grimace as he sets down her tea. "I might've let it steep too long."
The mint-smelling tea is definitely darker than she would normally drink, but her headache is already starting so she blows on the hot liquid to cool it and sips at it anyway. Jack sinks onto the couch next to her and absently rubs her back. The TV is still on, though muted, and they watch the silent late news for a few minutes without speaking.
"I guess I don't have to ask what you thought of the movie," he comments eventually, most likely referring to the way she huffed and complained over the horrible gender stereotyping in the Bond franchise in general. His tone is light enough to inform her that he isn't picking a fight now, though he did put up a valiant struggle in front of the others in defense of some of the costuming choices.
She swats at his arm, quietly pleased at the casual contact after a whole evening of carefully not touching each other in this living room -- something infinitely harder, somehow, than not touching each other at work. "You had to tell Jonas there are more of these movies."
"Nineteen more," he clarifies proudly. When she opens up her mouth to retort, he cuts her off, "Don't worry, we can watch them when you're off being girly with Cassie and the Doc."
His eyes narrow, giving away that he's goading her. "Sure. Why else won't you two let Jonas come along?"
Sam can't come up with what he means, and wonders if she isn't still a little drunk. "Jonas?"
Jack steals a sip of her tea and nods. "Yep. He was all curious when Fraiser said he wasn't allowed to join you three for a movie two weeks back. Something... chick-flick-y. I said he was better off."
She hasn't actually been to the movies with Janet in over a month, so this must have been one of the times when work overrode their plans for a girls' night out. She makes a mental note to schedule something soon -- she doesn't want Janet to feel like she's avoiding her, even though she isn't looking forward to the curious looks and occasional overt grilling about her friendship with Colonel O'Neill. "Jonas wanted to come watch chick flicks with us?"
He tugs the edge of the blanket from her shoulder and she tugs it back. "He's an alien. He doesn't know any better."
She's about to take up the challenge of his blanket tug-of-war and come up with a good rejoinder to defend her occasional craving for a mindless movie full of attractive people and predictable storylines, but the phone rings. It's late for someone to be calling, but with their jobs and the interplanetary time difference, it's not unheard of.
Jack disentangles his hand from her blanket before he reaches over the arm of the couch to pick up the receiver, reinstating a sort of professional distance in a way that might or might not be conscious. "O'Neill." Then, "Jonas?"
She doesn't touch him, but she leans closer to better hear the voice on the other end.
"Sorry to bother you this late, Colonel, but Major Carter's still not answering the phone at her house and I got worried something might have happened to her if she was still tipsy when she was driving. Is she still with you?"
She knows it's not a leading question -- this is Jonas, and, now that she's thinking of it, she did ask him to return some books she lent him before the weekend, so he has something of a reason to call her at one in the morning. It's sweet, actually, that he took the drunk-driving commercials he's seen on TV so seriously and is worried about her.
She still freezes. Jack does too, probably debating, as she is, whether her current place on his couch is worth lying about, looking at her for only a moment before he comes up with an answer. "Yeah, she forgot her coat here and came back for it." She can recognize, now, the subtle things about him that change when he's lying. She didn't used to be able to. She doesn't think he's gotten worse at it. "She's... yeah, she's just heading out the door. Wanna talk to her?"
She takes the phone and tells Jonas the books aren't important. As she promises to drive safely she looks away from Jack, back at her half-empty mug of tea, and her jaw clenches around the words almost because they are so easy. She really doesn't want this to be wrong.
Jack takes the phone from her and hangs it up. She continues to stare at her tea like the intensity might bring it back to a boil, hating the sudden change in atmosphere in the room. She can feel Jack's hand hovering a few inches from her back, undecided about making contact.
He doesn't touch her, but he says, "We could tell them. Jonas and Teal'c."
"Tell them what?" she demands, and her stomach sinks like a stone as soon as the words hit the air. Her breath holds in her chest and she prays that he won't answer her ill-thought-out question.
If he says it, they can't do this anymore. Those are the rules.
His hand, still poised near her, makes a decision and pulls her toward him. She lets herself be cradled against his side, fighting the urge to wrap her arms around herself or bodily cling to him and to the sense of comfort that's still there, beneath this recurring interruption of worry in the course of their friendship. "It's okay," he finally tells her.
She takes a few breaths and relaxes, until she feels held and cared for by his arm around her rather than starved for more. Her rational mind, the one that first convinced them both that this was okay and offered a set of carefully contained guidelines, struggles through her exhaustion and vague alcohol headache to reassure her that nothing has changed. The weight of his hand on her shoulder, fingering the fraying edge of the woolly blanket, is evidence that he still feels the same way about this. She will still get to sleep in his spare bed on sheets that already smell like her and will wear his old slippers in the morning when they argue over who gets the first crack at the puzzles in the newspaper.
The white lies are more to protect themselves than anyone else -- Teal'c and Janet have known them both for years and Jonas is too much a gifted student of human nature not to have guessed at the true and complicated nature of their relationship. She takes comfort in that, actually, trusts that if her friends would intervene if they thought she and Jack were truly doing something inappropriate.
Sam twists against him, just enough for her head to find a comfortable spot on his shoulder. He adjusts her blanket for her, and benevolently breaks the silence.
"This thing is pretty scratchy."
She knew her frequent comments on that topic would wear him down to her point of view eventually. "You should get a new one." She says you and not we intentionally, but isn't surprised when he invites her along. Neither of them are particularly good shoppers, but they are starting to fall into comfortable habits of dividing lists and holding each other's places in line that mimic real domesticity almost perfectly. She keeps him focused when his attention wanders, and he entertains her when she takes a humidifier-buying mission too seriously.
She nods. He cracks a yawn and she can't help but follow suit. "Bed?" she asks, without lifting her head from his shoulder.
The arm around her squeezes slightly tighter. "Not yet."
She's content to let him cuddle her, not yet ready herself to crawl into an empty bed where she can't hear him breathing in her ear.
"You know, Carter," Jack says, poking his foot in the direction of the James Bond DVD box lying on the coffee table. "The number that one girl wore with the veils... I think you could really pull that off."
She pokes him in the ribs. "Not a chance."
His hand comes up to ruffle her hair, and she takes that as her cue to get up and toss the blanket aside. She gives him a hand off the couch when he gives her a pathetic-old-man look and he doesn't let her fingers go as fast as he would if Jonas and Teal'c were still here. She decides not to let that contradiction bother her.
"Bathroom's yours first," he offers, and kisses her cheek goodnight. His lips against the more platonic areas of her skin can both soothe and frustrate her, apparently at random, and she's grateful that, this time, this easy interaction feels like enough.
She doesn't have to thank him for allowing her to stay over, not when the guest room is well on its way to becoming her room in their casual conversation. She kisses him back, still chastely but on the mouth, and smiles when the tips of their noses brush as she pulls her head away. "See you in the morning."
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