[REPOST] Stargate SG-1 fic: She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful
This story is being reposted from 2012 as part of this endeavor. It’s been lightly edited for spelling, punctuation, grammar and for clarity. See the original here.
It’s one of those “dress up” missions that SG-1 really despises. Except this one goes a little differently for Jack and Sam. Jack will never look at those missions the same way again.
2448 words | PG
“Have I mentioned how much I dislike planets where I’m forced to dress up?” Carter asked from behind the privacy curtain in the corner. “They never end well.”
“We all have to dress up,” Daniel said as he pulled a pair of tight leather pants over his knees, struggling to get them any higher. The look of sheer concentration on his face was priceless. Across the room, Teal’c stared at what could only be described as a costume that he’d been given to wear. He held up a pair of minuscule looking tights. Jack hid his smile in the shirt he tugged over his head.
SG-1 were spread out around a plush guest room in the palace of King Ardu of P3X-649. The people of this planet had a thing about royalty that rivaled the British Monarchy’s reign on the imaginations of the people of Earth. And travelers through the Stargate qualified as royalty.
Jack finished slipping on his silk shirt. The burnt orange material slid over his skin, soft and cool. It felt nice. He tied up the front, leaving the leather cords hanging, then tucked it into his black leather pants. They weren’t nearly as tight as Daniel’s, and the legs thankfully flared enough to fit over his regulation boots. Carter continued to grumble.
“Oh come on, Carter, what could possibly go wrong at a banquet in our honor?” Jack said, stifling a laugh. He happened to agree with her, but she didn’t need to know that. Carter muttered something under her breath that Jack didn’t catch. He could imagine what the words were, though, leaving another grin on his face.
Daniel stumbled back, knocking into a dressing table. “I think these things are broken.” He suddenly lurched forward and fell hard to the floor. “Ow.”
“I do not see the purpose of such attire,” Teal’c said, still eying his clothing dubiously.
Daniel pulled himself vertical again. “It’s tradition, Teal’c.”
“It’s a stupid tradition,” Carter said. After a few muttered curses she added, “there’s a reason women on Earth stopped wearing corsets. This is impossible.”
Jack’s smile grew at that thought. “Need some help, Carter?”
Her head appeared from around the screen. “No!”
Both Teal’c and Daniel paused in dressing to stare at her outburst. She quickly disappeared again; the grumbling continued. Jack bit back a laugh. He felt bad for Carter, but the whole thing struck him as funny. Maybe it was because his outfit wasn’t so bad. He swung a dark, velvety cloak over his shoulders, clipping it across his chest with a silver chain that matched his belt buckle.
Just then Gable, their Palace guide, poked his head in the room. “Excuse, sirs, madam,” he said with his nearly non-existent voice, eyes on the floor. “The March begins.”
Jack glanced over his shoulder at Daniel. He was finally in the pants and tying fur boots around his calves. A short woven vest in a bright teal color with intricate beadwork and leather arm straps completed the look. “They’re getting ready to start,” he explained then stood up.
Jack nodded. “Time to party, Carter.” He clapped his hands together causing Gable to jump. Carter said something else he couldn’t hear. Jack could feel her glare through the material of the privacy screen. He grinned again—he just couldn’t help himself today and wondered if maybe he hadn’t been slipped something in his breakfast.
Carter let out a frustrated sigh. “Maybe you guys should go on ahead. I’ll catch up when I’m finished here.”
“Hurry, hurry,” Gable prodded. “The horns blow.”
Jack heard something from behind the screen that sounded like, “something blows.”
Teal’c joined Daniel by the door now wearing the light blue tights and a fur vest made of a creature so large the tail end trailed along the floor a good twelve inches behind Teal’c. The head flipped up to create a hood—menacing teeth framing Teal’c’s face. The effect was unnerving. Gable seemed terrified, refusing to look at Teal’c. But that could just be Gable. He seemed terrified of his shadow.
“You sure, Carter?” Jack finally asked.
“Yes, sir,” she answered, a little too quickly. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Jack shrugged. “Okay, we’ll see you inside.”
* * *
The banquet hall was massive—big enough to fit four football fields. Lengths of velvet in shades of purple and chartreuse hung from the ceiling three stories above them and covered every seat in the room. The tables were draped in white linen, gilded dishes set every couple of feet. Candles flickered from every surface—the tables, chandeliers, pedestals around the room, and little alcoves that climbed the walls and spilled flickering light onto the stone.
Dinner was some kind of game bird that tasted decidedly unlike chicken. But still delicious. Teal’c had thirds. Daniel disappeared sometime around the fourth course. Occasionally Jack caught glimpses of him chatting animatedly with some baron or duke or whatever the local equivalent was. He was in his element. When dessert arrived, though, and Carter still hadn’t made her appearance, Jack began to worry.
“I’m going to go check on Carter,” he said to Teal’c who merely nodded as he tucked into the quadruple layers of rainbow cake on his plate.
Music began as Jack wove his way through the gathering couples pairing up to apparently begin the dancing phase of the evening. He’d almost made it to the door when a gasp caught his attention. It was only later he realized the gasp came from him.
Carter stood in the door, candlelight glowing in her eyes and reflecting off the jewels in her tiara. The dress she wore was an indescribable shade of pink that shimmered like water in the moonlight and fell from her bare shoulders to hug her figure then billow out in layers of soft fabric that seemed to float, almost airless, around her legs. She smiled when she saw him.
Jack realized belatedly that he was staring—he hoped with his mouth closed. He tried to think of something charming to say, but his head felt foggy. He decided to stick with snark, it was familiar and easy. “About time, Carter. I was ready to call in the Marines to search for you.”
She rolled her eyes, but he could see a smile playing at her mouth. “Did I miss much?”
Jack thought back to the seven courses pushing against the sterling buckle of his belt. “Nope, not really.”
Carter glanced around, her lower lip captured between her teeth. She worried the strip of silk material around her waist. Jack followed her eyes around the room. Several couples near the door had stopped dancing and were watching them—watching her. Finally, they started up again, twirling away into the interior of the room. But Carter still didn’t relax.
She shook her head, hair bobbing slightly. Without thinking, Jack offered his arm to her. She started then slowly linked her arm around his. Her skin was tanned and freckled and looked incredibly soft. He tried to steer his thoughts away from that, but then, he caught sight of the drops of diamonds dangling from her ears. They swayed with each movement, brushing against the delicate skin of her neck. Jack swallowed hard. If Carter noticed, she didn’t say anything.
They’d barely stepped five feet into the room when Gable appeared, blocking their path. “The king requests the honor of your hand in dance,” he said very quickly to the floor, his hands wringing. Jack wondered if there was ever a time the guy wasn’t nervous.
“Must be talking to you,” Jack murmured to Carter. “I don’t think I’m his type.”
Carter shot him a glare over her shoulder as Gable led her away. Jack tried to pretend it didn’t bother him the way the king put his hands all over his second-in-command.
* * *
The terrace opened to a lavish garden set around a towering bronze sculpture of the king. It had been several hours since Carter had been whisked away by the Royal Court. He’d stopped trying to convince himself he didn’t care an hour ago. The air outside was crisp and clean, smelling of fresh-cut grass and jasmine. Somewhere in the distance, water reflected the moon onto the glossy leaves of a tree Jack had never seen before.
He stepped down into the grass, following the manicured path into the yard. It meandered through a maze of individual gardens before depositing him into another clearing. The water ended up being a large pool surrounded by gleaming marble pillars covered in climbing ivy. And standing at the edge was Carter, her arms wrapped around her body.
The way the moon hit her tiara created a halo around her head. Her dress swayed like the petals of a flower caught in a summer breeze. The effect couldn’t be described as anything but breathtaking. She looked stunning.
Jack swallowed hard, his breath catching in his throat. The gravel crunched under his feet as he made his way over to her. He stared into the water watching their reflections waver in the shimmery water. After a moment, her eyes slid over to his. She looked relieved.
“I had to get out of there,” she said softly. “It was just a little too overwhelming.”
Jack unclasped his cloak, arranging it over her shoulders. “How long have you been out here?”
She tried to shrug, but it turned into a shiver. She pulled the cloak closer and gave Jack a sheepish look, her eyes twinkling. “Not long. Is Ardu looking for me?”
“Not that I know of. Anxious to get back?” He waggled his eyebrows at her. She grinned into the distance, avoiding his eyes. Jack smiled back at her. The wind fluttered the wisps of golden hair around her ears. The urge to run his hands through it became almost unbearable—he desperately wished for pockets.
Carter finally looked at him then ducked her head. “Those people,” she started but then trailed off.
“They sure like to party, huh?” It had to be close to one in the morning local time, and they were still going strong.
She smiled again. Her eyes kept wandering over to his only to quickly slide away. The effect left Jack trembling on the inside, an electric pulse surging up and down his body that wasn’t entirely unwelcome.
“I just don’t get why I’m so popular. I barely got a chance to catch my breath between dances, there was always someone waiting for a turn.” Jack had noticed. “You’d think they’d never seen a woman before.”
He pulled a leaf from the ivy and began to methodically tear it into tiny pieces.
She sighed, her breath crystallizing slightly in front of her. “Why couldn’t they find someone else to dance with for a while?”
Jack’s hands stilled. “You really don’t know, do you?”
Carter turned to face him, brow knit together. “Know what?” She looked like she was afraid to hear the answer.
He pulled his gaze away and let the leaf drop into the water below. “Why they all wanted your attention?”
When she spoke again her voice sounded inconceivably small. “Why was that?”
Jack almost got lost in her eyes—the way they shined with emotions Jack couldn’t describe. He couldn’t look away. The distance between them seemed to evaporate, a heat building in its place. A lump caught in Jack’s throat. Carter shivered.
“Why?” she whispered gruffly. They were so close now he could feel the flutter of her breath on his neck.
“Because-” His voice cracked, and he cleared his throat. “Because,” he told her, this time his voice so low he could barely hear it himself, “you were the most beautiful woman in the room.” The words hung in the still air.
Carter let out a little gasp. “You think I look beautiful?”
The words were out before he could stop himself. “Carter you look gorgeous.” Even in the moonlight, he could see her blushing, it probably matched his own flush. “That’s why they were all so desperate to be near you.” She was staring at a spot slightly below his adam’s apple.
A tremble ran through her, and he just couldn’t resist anymore—he let the back of his fingers brush across her cheek, his thumb lingering on her chin. He tilted her face up so she’d look at him. “Sam, you are always beautiful to me. Even covered in mud after a three-day battle. Doesn’t matter to me. I’m the luckiest guy alive because I get to be around you every day. These guys only get this one night. Is it any wonder they were all fighting for a chance to dance with you?”
Her eyes went wide, shocked he would be so bold. Shocked at what he had said. She’d gone completely red and Jack liked that even more than the tan. Then her look softened, saddened.
His heart still skipped a beat. God, he loved it when she called him by his name. Even when she was pleading for the wrong thing. He closed his eyes, hoping he could drag out the moment just a few seconds longer. His hand fell back to his side.
“I know,” he whispered. What else was there to say? He’d already gone three steps over the invisible line that kept them within regulations. He worked at boxing up his emotions again, at keeping his breathing even. Then her hand settled on his chest, directly over his suddenly racing heart. Like it belonged there. Jack thought it did, he hoped it would never move.
“You really think I’m beautiful.”
Jack smiled, his forehead pressing against hers. “Always.” He squeezed her hand against his body, hoping she understood exactly how much he meant by that one word.
Jack wasn’t sure how long they stayed like that—it felt like hours but was probably closer to a minute. Gable interrupted with his rushed words. “Please be returning, madam. The king wishes another dance.” Mustn’t keep the king waiting, Jack thought.
They didn’t say a word as they pulled apart, leaving Jack feeling suddenly cool. She slipped the cloak from her shoulders and handed it back with a sad smile then followed Gable towards the palace.
He wasn’t entirely sure what had just happened. And he wasn’t sure what it meant for him and Carter. Probably nothing, things would go right back to normal in the morning. But Jack knew he’d never look at these “dress up” missions the same way again. He wondered if Carter would finally realize just how beautiful she was.