Stargate SG-1 fic: Luck of the Irish (repost)
I didn’t really have a lot of time to research Irish traditions and history so it’s mostly on the generic side. And my little saying is made up (as far as I know). The one Jack says is real, though.
4000 words | [PG]
May good luck be your friend in whatever you do and may trouble be always a stranger to you. Sam and Jack find they don’t mind taking part in some alien traditions.
Stepping out of the ‘Gate was like stepping into the past. The simple stone buildings with their thatched roofs and rough-hewn doors looked like something out of a Thomas Kinkade painting. The locals looked a bit confounded as the blue event horizon blinked out of existence leaving the town square feeling a little closed in.
“Howdy, folks,” Jack called, his arm waving wide.
A gurgle of chatter rose up among the people—hushed whispers, gasps of surprise, urgent orders. Several boys dashed down a cobbled street, glancing over their shoulders as they ran.
Jack let his hand fall back to his side. “Not very friendly,” he mumbled to Daniel and Carter.
The din in the crowd was growing, the voices sounding more excited now than scared.
“Do you understand what they’re saying?” Carter asked Daniel.
“Um, it sounds like Gaelic.”
“And do you speak Gaelic?” Jack asked, a cheery smile plastered on his face.
Daniel frowned at him. “Well, it’s a dying language, not many people speak it even in their native lands. And languages change vastly over time-”
“Do you understand them?” Jack said slowly, the smile gone.
“Uh, a little.”
Jack watched as Daniel slowly stepped off the dais. He began rambling in a stilted fashion, confusion replacing the excitement on the faces of the crowd. Jack shot Carter a knowing look. She just grinned back at him. He had to look away before he genuinely started smiling, too.
Daniel was now exchanging words with some of the people but it looked like communication wasn’t going well. Jack was debating packing things up and heading home when the two boys from earlier ran back into the crowd. Behind them, a woman with long red hair and a green dress caused the people to part down the middle. She approached SG-1 with a smile but guarded eyes.
She shushed the townspeople with a wave of her hand. Jack gestured for Daniel to try his “we mean you no harm,” speech again. The woman listened politely then started to speak.
The words rolled over Jack, meaningless sounds and inflections. Daniel, though, looked more and more enthused as she continued.
He put a hand up, and Jack let his mouth snap shut with a frown. Behind him, Carter let out a soft snort of amusement. He controlled the urge to glare over his shoulder at her. After another minute or so of dialogue, Jack’s patience had expired.
Daniel glanced over at Jack as if just realizing he wasn’t alone. “She, uh, says her name is Fiona and that we are welcomed to the land of-” His hand gestures indicated a word he couldn’t translate. “And, uh, she is pleased to see us well and vibrant. The histories tell of travelers that used to come from the Heaven’s Gate to bring bounty and plenty.” He frowned as Fiona repeated something to him. “But they were thought to be myths because none in any generations alive had seen such an event.” He finished very quickly, and Jack had a feeling he hadn’t understood much more than what the woman had first spouted.
Fiona motioned for someone to join her in the front of the crowd. The others moved aside for him—a young man with a head of fiery hair that looked even brighter against his pale skin and piercing gray eyes that seemed to dart everywhere with amazing speed. He bowed slightly; Fiona introduced him.
Daniel translated. “This is Eamonn, the town’s historian.” Jack was pretty sure Fiona had said a lot more but didn’t comment.
Just then Fiona turned to the people and rattled off something that cleared the square. People went back to their normal daily tasks—women beating rugs and buying vegetables from corner vendors, men shoveling something that looked like coal into bins and sweeping in front of stores. It was hard to ignore the hushed voices, though. Even if Jack couldn’t understand anything they were saying, he got the gist of the conversations. They were the talk of the town.
Pretty soon they were left alone with Eamonn. He began speaking—slowly and purposefully—his eyes bouncing from person to person. Daniel’s face lit up. He blurted out something that made Eamonn sigh in relief then turned to Jack.
“Eamonn is a historian and studies ancient languages.”
“So you understand him.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “Yes, Jack, I understand him. His ‘ancient’ variation is much closer to classic Gaelic, just a few minor changes in pronunciation and-”
Jack waved him off—he wasn’t in the mood for a language lesson. “What does he have to say?”
Daniel and Eamonn began speaking with animated gestures and faces. Jack took a deep, steadying breath. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Carter trying to suppress another smile. She seemed to be enjoying herself. On his other side, Teal’c just looked bored. He ignored the chatting men—his eyes constantly surveying the surrounding buildings and streets for trouble. Jack tapped his fingers where they rested on his P-90. This could take awhile.
* * *
It was nearly dark as Jack ambled across the grassy square that held the Stargate. Daniel and Eamonn had hit it off so well, SG-1 had been invited to stay the night to join in the celebration. Jack wasn’t quite sure what the celebration was all about, but there had been a lot of food, a lot of singing, and a lot of golden liquid that smelled an awful lot like mead.
He’d warned Daniel to watch what he ate. And drank. But in usual Daniel fashion, he’d ignored Jack. When he’d left to check in with the SGC, Daniel had been three verses into some kind of national ballad, arms around Eamonn and another man—Jack thought his name was Owen—swaying slightly. Whether that was from enthusiasm or the alcohol, Jack couldn’t tell. He was leaning more towards the mead.
Jack turned the last corner that led to the town hall—a large, low building set into a hillside with a row of shuttered windows, and a lintel over the door made of a massive stone carved with Gaelic looking letters—and saw the familiar silhouette of his second-in-command.
“Nice night for a stroll,” he said, coming up behind her.
She didn’t even flinch. “Nice night for a party.”
“You know us Irish.”
Her eyes sparkled in the waning light. Or maybe that was just the smile creeping into them. Jack grinned back, probably a little on the foolish side. He blamed that on the mead. Carter’s smile grew in response until she turned away, ducking her head.
Inside, the crowd crooned on, growing louder and louder with each verse. The windows were covered, but Jack could see the flicker of candlelight from around the edges. It cast a golden glow on Carter as the sun eventually set behind the hills. She was staring off into the distance now, leaning against the building.
“How did the check-in go?” she finally asked.
Jack had been lost in thought and almost missed the question. “Oh, you know Hammond, always wanting to chit-chat.”
She gave a little laugh, and they fell silent again. It was at once comfortable and awkward. Jack was still pondering that conundrum when the door banged open. Several men, arms around each other and still singing, were shoved lovingly out by a couple of women with red faces and knowing looks. One of the men pulled to a stop when he saw Carter. He grabbed her by her shoulders and pulled her in to kiss her cheek and whisper in her ear.
The other men began singing louder but the women just rolled their eyes, prying Carter from his grasp. They mumbled an apology—words understood no matter the language—then guided the men away. Jack watched them turn the corner before glancing over at Carter. She looked a little taken aback.
“What did he say?”
Another grin pulled at her lips. “I don’t think I could pronounce it if I tried.”
“But Daniel translated the saying earlier. It’s a popular one, I guess.”
Jack moved over to lean next to her. She relaxed back against the wall. “Yeah. He said it roughly translates to May Fate always find you at Luck’s door.”
“May good luck be your friend in whatever you do and may trouble be always a stranger to you,” Jack said with a smile. “My grandmother used to say that.”
Carter’s smile widened, but before she could say anything the door opened again, light flooding out. Another group of guys—younger this time—stumbled out. One made for Carter with a cheeky smile on his face, but he was yanked back by the collar. A stern looking girl with a pinched nose and freckles began to berate him, much to the amusement of his friends.
“Must be last call,” Jack muttered.
Carter giggled—a sound Jack would never tire of hearing even if he’d never admit that to her. He was kind of surprised he’d just admitted it to himself. Maybe he had a little more mead than he’d thought. They settled back into silence but without any of the earlier awkwardness. Jack leaned his head against the cool stone wall and sighed. Content. That’s what he was feeling, he realized.
This mission had turned out better than hoped. And way better than just about every other mission. Most ended with them running for their lives. Or with long, drawn-out trade negotiations. These people were alright. They were friendly and open and enjoyed their lives. As demonstrated by the continued revelry inside the hall. He still wasn’t sure if they had anything to offer Earth as allies, but they sure could sing. Maybe they could pass along that mead recipe, he thought with a grin.
He realized suddenly that Carter was staring at him, a wistful look on her face. “What?”
Even in the moonlight, he could see her blush slightly. “Nothing, I was just thinking.”
“Of course you were.”
She rolled her eyes.
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “How lucky we are.”
Jack’s eyebrows shot up under his cap. He wondered if maybe Carter could read his mind. She seemed to take his expression as confusion because she elaborated.
“I mean, how many people get to experience the things we do?”
“You mean all the running for our lives, being shot at, endless boring meetings?”
There was that eye roll again, but this time with a smile. “I mean meeting new cultures, uncovering bits of our own history from the other side of the galaxy. And doing it with friends.”
Jack bit down on his lip as he considered how to respond to that. Carter turned away again, her face even redder. Maybe she had too much mead, too. He watched the way the moon reflected off her hair creating a halo effect. Jack found that kind of fitting but refused to contemplate why. That lead down a road he didn’t need to travel right now because he was pretty sure the mead on this planet was stronger than on Earth and his emotions were playing awfully close to the surface tonight.
Behind them, the door opened again. This time an older gentleman, face weathered but eyes alight with life, toddled out leaning heavily on a cane. He nodded at Jack then glanced at Carter. Jack had seen that look in the other men that had left, but before he could put himself between the old man and his second the man mumbled something to Carter then planted a kiss on her cheek. He tilted his hat to her and winked at Jack before disappearing around the side of the building.
Jack glowered at the retreating shadow. “Okay, that’s just getting weird.”
Carter nodded, her eyes tracking the old man as well. The blush was now going down her neck and pinking the ends of her ears. Jack quickly hid his smile when she turned back to face him. The door flew open again, the noise inside growing ten-fold. Jack was already moving in front of Carter, but it was just Daniel and Eamonn—singing and tripping over each other.
“Jack, there you are,” he said, words more than a little slurred. “You’re missing a great party.”
Jack raised an eyebrow. “I see that.”
Daniel gave him a lopsided grin, but his eyes were a little unfocused, and he was swaying a little more than Jack was comfortable with. Eamonn said something that Jack translated as meaning he’d get Daniel safely back to the inn. Daniel belted out another verse of the song although Jack wasn’t sure if he was getting even half the words right anymore. He suddenly turned to Carter.
Carter looked amused. Daniel stumbled over to her, grabbing her arms to steady himself. Carter halted his sideways lean with a firm grip, her smile growing at Daniel’s antics.
“Sam,” he said again as if trying to focus on her. Then he suddenly leaned forward and kissed her. Smack on the lips. Carter’s face went from amused to shocked in a split second. “May Fate always find you at Luck’s door.” He hiccuped and almost fell over. Eamonn caught him under the arms and righted him. Daniel patted his shoulder, rattling off some words of thanks that Jack didn’t understand.
“Daniel,” he started, but the man cut him off, nearly falling into him.
“Jack, there you are. You’re missing a great party!”
Jack rolled his eyes; Carter laughed, her hand covering her mouth.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Daniel looked confused. “What am I doing?”
Jack nodded towards Carter.
Daniel’s head moved so slowly Jack wondered if they were suddenly caught in some time dilation event or something. He finally zeroed in on Carter.
“Sam!” He slipped out of Eamonn’s grasp and fell against Carter again, kissing her on the cheek this time. When he was done, he mumbled the same phrase again. Carter just shook her head at him.
That got his attention. He turned back to Jack.
“Uh, what’s with the kissing?”
He grinned back at Jack like a fool. “Tradition.”
Daniel pointed up to the carving over the door. “May Fate always find you at Luck’s door.”
“Yeah, everyone keeps saying that, but what does it mean.”
“I dunno,” Daniel slurred, his words getting harder and harder to understand. “But there’s a tradition of kissing a girl you find standing under the door. For luck.”
Eamonn had been watching the exchange and nodded. Jack wasn’t sure he understood or not, but he had a big smile plastered on his face. Jack sighed.
Carter started giggling when Daniel turned back towards her. Jack was at the end of his patience.
“That’s enough, lover boy.” He hauled his friend back by the arm. Eamonn grabbed the other.
“It’s tradition, Jack!” Now he was shouting. Damn, he couldn’t hold his liquor.
“Fine, but you’ve kissed her twice already.”
“We need all the luck we can get, dontcha think?”
That got Carter giggling again. Jack sighed, but a snort of laughter escaped anyway. Daniel seemed to take that as consent because he leaned back in to kiss her again, aiming for her lips. Carter just laughed. Jack rubbed a hand over his face. It was Eamonn that saved him, though, dragging a singing Daniel towards the inn.
Jack let out another sigh. Carter was still giggling into her hand. Glad she was amused. He glanced up at the lintel. The carvings meant nothing to him but the message rolled over in his mind. May Fate always find you at Luck’s door. He wasn’t sure the saying even made sense, but the overall meaning was genuine. His gaze shifted over to Carter again. Her cheeks were rosy but not with embarrassment anymore, and her eyes were sparkling again. This time with mischief. Their eyes met, and for a moment, a charge filled the air between them. Jack could feel the hairs on his arm stand up; his skin seemed to hum.
He swallowed hard. Carter continued to smile, but there was a sadness descending over her face. Jack felt the same weight filling his chest. He watched the light—the twinkle—disappear from her eyes, and that was all he could take. Without really thinking he closed the distance between them. The surprised look on Carter’s face was priceless. His hands landed on her shoulders like he’d watched the other men do. She gasped. Jack couldn’t blame her. He barely kept his own breath in—the heat between them stifling. Or maybe that was the anticipation. The longing.
He locked eyes with her again, and there was that spark, that twinkle, that could melt his heart with the briefest glance. He couldn’t stop the smile as he leaned in, his lips brushing against hers—the electrical charge running from her into him. And the other way around.
It was hard, but Jack pulled away after only a second despite the intense urge to deepen the kiss. Carter’s breath caught in her throat. Jack was having a hard time finding his own voice.
“May Fate always find you at Luck’s door,” he whispered.
He hadn’t noticed her hands creeping up to latch onto his forearms. Her fingers dug in even through his jacket, and he could tell she was fighting for control. The same control that seemed to be slipping from his own grasp. And Jack wasn’t really sure he cared anymore. He was so tired of fighting it, of rules and regulations. Carter’s grip tightened, and he realized she was leaning closer, her breath coming in short little gasps that warmed his chin. His mouth had gone completely dry, but his thoughts were bouncing all over a mile a minute. He didn’t know what to do. His dedication to duty warred with his overwhelming need to feel Carter’s lips on his again.
Closer they moved, her fingers now painfully tight on his arms, her bangs tickling his nose, his thumbs suddenly caressing her neck. She shivered, but he knew it wasn’t from the cold because it was way too damn hot for that. Jack swore they’d burst into flames any second if one of them didn’t cross the line soon.
And then the door slammed open, a large group of laughing, singing people streaming into the street. Jack was bumped into Carter, her back connecting with the wall. Oh god, he thought as her body pressed into his.
“Oh, god,” she mumbled into his neck.
Jack closed his eyes, trying to center himself. He let his hands slide off her shoulders to brace against the wall. With way more effort than he cared to admit, he pushed himself away from Carter.
“We should-” The words caught in his throat. He licked his lips.
Carter mimicked the action—purposefully or unconsciously, Jack wasn’t sure. That set a flame burning through him again, and he knew he had to do something. Now. Before they both fell over the edge. And yet he wasn’t moving. Much to his dismay. And the heat was building—the electrical charge lighting every nerve. God, why did this have to be so damn hard?
He could feel her breath on his neck again. When did he get that close? And her hands on his chest, fingers tugging on the soft fabric of his shirt. He didn’t think he could move even if he wanted. He was glued to the spot by the tension connecting them, the heat surrounding them.
“Carter,” he murmured into her hair.
She shivered again, her grip on his shirt tightening. “Jack.”
The word was barely a whisper. For a second, he wasn’t sure she’d actually said anything, but then he didn’t really care anymore; his lips were crashing against hers with a burst of electricity so bright he felt it burning his skin.
Or maybe that was someone else opening the door again.
“O’Neill.” Teal’c’s words cut into the fog filling Jack’s brain. Oh crap.
At the same moment, him and Carter pulled apart, hands dropping to their sides. Jack knew his face must be bright red, but Teal’c didn’t seem to notice. He just stared at them with that infuriating eyebrow. Next to him, Carter sucked in a rattled breath. Jack matched hers then let it out slowly.
“Hey, Teal’c.” His voice sounded rough. He cleared his throat. “Party over?”
Teal’c eyed them both, still with that eyebrow up, like he was trying to decide how he wanted to handle the situation. Jack felt like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, waiting for admonishment. He frowned at that thought—he was a big boy, he could decide if he wanted cookies or not. His hand came up to rub over his face. Damn, he’d had more mead than planned.
Finally Teal’c spoke. “May Fate always find you at Luck’s door.” He nodded to them both then disappeared into the exiting crowd. Jack wasn’t sure what to make of that. He glanced over at Carter. It was too dark now to see the flush of her skin. But he could still feel the heat coming off of her. Or him. Both of them. It was suffocating.
He cleared his throat again. Carter seemed to be on the same wavelength. She shifted her weight, inching away from him. This was awkward.
“Um-” he said, having absolutely no idea what he was going to say.
“Yeah,” she mumbled back, eyes now focused somewhere around his boots.
“I should-” He hitched a finger over his shoulder.
Her eyes shot around, looking at anything but his face. “Yeah, I’m going to go check on Daniel.”
“Daniel, right.” He nodded towards the inn. “Better make sure he got back in one piece.”
“He really can’t hold his liquor, can he?”
Jack snorted. Apparently neither can we, he thought. They both grew silent with nothing substantial to talk about, the awkwardness almost physically painful. How he wished he could rewind time about five minutes and live in that kiss forever. He shook the thought from his head—he needed to think about something else. And maybe take a cold shower.
As they walked along, Jack watched Carter from the corner of his eye. He really wanted to ask her what she was thinking, but that would mean acknowledging what they had just done. After a moment, she glanced up at him, and he saw the same anxiety and confusion on her face. And the smile pulled at his lips despite his attempts to quell it. To his relief, Carter started to grin, too. She rolled her eyes, and as they passed a home with open shutters, he saw the blush on her cheeks. She bit into her lower lip, and her eyes darted away. Jack’s face was starting to hurt from smiling, but he couldn’t seem to stop.
Carter was right, he thought. They were lucky. Damn lucky. Lucky to be doing what they’re doing even if most of the time they were near death. Lucky to have such great friends. Lucky to have Carter. Her hair glowed in the moonlight, eyes sparkled in the lamplight, smile shone like the sunlight. She was watching him. He was watching her. And for once neither turned away. And it felt okay.
They stopped at the door of the inn to let an elderly couple holding hands pass. Jack glanced up at the lintel—there were no words etched on it—but when he looked back over at Carter she had a dreamy, far-off look on her face. And Jack just couldn’t stop himself. He leaned over and kissed her softly on the cheek.
“I think I’ve been standing at Luck’s door the whole time,” he whispered.
Carter let out a breath. “And Fate’s found you?”
He let his forehead rest against hers. “Definitely.”