Stargate SG-1 fic: Last Chance (9)
It was several hours before the cargo hold became too cold to bear. Despite their earlier disagreement, Sam felt him press his body up against hers, slipping his broken hand under her neck to wrap around her. He used the other to pull the blankets tightly around them. With his face nuzzled into the back of her neck, his breath warm against her flesh, she finally felt herself relax some. They both continued to shiver but she felt calmer… safer… more content with the colonel snoring softly behind her.
She bit down on her lip, squeezing her eyes shut tight at the sudden watering. She would not cry. Not about the argument or their lost chances or their imminent death or her idiotic refusal of his attempt at opening up to her. The kiss had been an utter surprise and just as amazing as she had always imagined it would be but she couldn’t get past the fact that it wouldn’t be happening if he didn’t think they were going to die the next night. It was a stupid technicality.
Sam swallowed hard, pushing down the lump in her throat at the thought. The colonel stirred, rearranging his body against hers before falling back in a mostly restless sleep. It was just too cold to really get comfortable. She fought to keep her teeth from chattering and focused her attention on the colonel’s hand sitting on her shoulder, his fingers peeking out from under her attempt at a splint. She forced another lump down and reached a shaky, cold hand up. She hesitated just before touching him then let her fingers sweep across the bandages before threading them gingerly between his. She closed her eyes and let her body relax more, leaning into him.
She knew he was no longer asleep. Her soft touch woke him just as she knew it would. There had been only a subtle shift in the pattern of his chest pressing against her back from each inhale and his breath tickling the nape of her neck with each exhale to alert her but she knew him so well she noticed it right away. After a moment he shifted his weight slightly, his free arm pulling her closer.
“Sir,” she said softly, not really sure what else she planned to say.
“Quiet, Carter, trying to sleep,” he mumbled into her hair.
She half turned to look at him. “Sir?”
“We can talk about it in the morning.”
Sam sighed, lowering herself back into his arms. How could she tell him she was afraid there might not be a tomorrow and she had thrown away her one chance at having this conversation? It seemed like hours later before she slowly drifted off to sleep.
She woke later, never sure exactly how much time had passed. The colonel’s arm was still wrapped around her. She looked down at his left arm and the watch still sitting on his wrist. She slowly reached over, and as quietly as she could, pulled the cover back from the faceplate. A press of a button and it lit up rather brightly in the dark hold. Somewhere across the galaxy, it was 0500 on… a Thursday. Morning. She quietly replaced the cover unlike the colonel’s usual habit of letting it slap shut. She often wondered if he did it just to annoy people. Daniel especially got irritated at the noise and the more agitated he got the longer the colonel continued his little habit.
She felt herself smiling at the thought but it was almost as quickly wiped away at the thought of never seeing Daniel again. Or, more precisely, him never seeing her again. She didn’t want to think of how much it would hurt him to lose his two best friends. And that did it. The dam cracked and a tear slipped down her cheek. She pressed her lips together, biting down on them with her teeth to keep the rest of the waterworks contained.
“You okay?” the colonel murmured into her shoulder.
She nodded slightly but couldn’t speak. She knew he wouldn’t let it go.
“Carter.” His voice still sounded fuzzy with sleep.
“I was,” she finally said, her voice cracking slightly. “I was just thinking of Daniel.”
She felt him stiffen up. “Ouch. Didn’t see that coming.”
Sam craned her neck to look at him over her shoulder. His eyes were still shut but he had a sleepy grin growing across his face. She let out a sigh as she collapsed back into the warmth of his embrace. God, she loved waking up next to him. She turned over so she was staring at the exposed bit of skin just below his chin and pressed her face into his chest, curling her fingers into the stiff fabric of his jacket. He smelled so good. The colonel didn’t flinch away like she would have expected just days ago. Instead, he wrapped his arms protectively around her and pressed his lips to the top of her head.
She listened to the cadence of his slow and steady breaths for several beats. Then she heard him take a deep breath.
“I’m sorry about last night,” he said softly. “I didn’t mean to upset you.”
She shook her head, still buried under his chin but she didn’t say anything. The press of tears was back. She silently cursed her exhaustion that was letting her emotions get the better of her. She took a moment to use her military training to reign them in. She was still schooling her features when the colonel spoke again.
“Sam?” That one word just about undid her. She was always amazed at how her name rolling off his tongue could pull every string in her, twist her stomach into a giant knot and at the same time melt her heart and turn her knees to Jello. Not that the way he said, “Carter” had any less of an effect on her. She had once spent an overwhelmingly boring briefing cataloging all the ways he could say her name, all the hidden meaning he could put into that one word. It was just about as many ways as she had for saying, “sir.”
Finally, she pulled herself together and looked up at him. “I’m okay,” she told him, “just… it’s a lot… you know.”
He nodded. “I know what you mean. Never thought it would end like this,” he said with a snort. She cringed at the nonchalant way he spoke about their predicament. “I always figured I’d go out in a blaze of glory. Hopefully with you safely back home.” He tacked the last bit on quietly, probably hoping she wouldn’t hear.
Sitting up, Sam stared down at him. “Honestly, I’d rather be at your side.” That got a smile out of him. Sam felt her own face relax, a small smile pulling at the corners of her mouth. Now she was doing it, too… talking about their impending death like it was just another day at the office. Which, for their jobs, it kind of was, she thought with a snort. The colonel raised an eyebrow at her; his unvoiced question of “what?” She shook her head. “We should get up and get moving. Keep our body temperatures up.”
He sighed. “But I was so comfy.” They stared at each other a few moments before either moved. Sam almost didn’t notice his hand twitching dangerously close to hers; reaching but not actually touching. She was surprised at how much that hurt. Not that he was afraid to touch her again, but that she had caused him to doubt. She opened her mouth to say something but he groaned and stretched his arms over his head. “Fine, I’ll go see about the heat. I think all my extremities are numb.” He gave her a sly grin. “And that’s saying a lot.”
Sam rolled her eyes before moving to let him get up. She headed for the bathroom, calling over her shoulder, “don’t forget to-”
“I know, I know. Green and yellow crystals. I’m not as dense as I look,” he mumbled as he walked away. Sam couldn’t help but laugh.
As she washed up she looked into the mirror at her bruised and weary face. The water was no longer running all that hot which worried her more than she cared to think about at the moment. “I’m not going to do this,” she told herself softly. “I’m not going to act like this is the last day of my life.” Her reflection didn’t look too convinced. There had to be something more she could do.