The Darn book
We were in a library, I don't remember which one, after the first five passed by, I couldn't care less the name of the store as long as we could find that darn book and move on to our trip to the cabin.
Yes, leave it to Daniel to convince Sam to bring the book that she wanted to read and never had time to do it, and of course, as she never had time to read it, she also never had time to buy it.
The day so far was like this, at 5ish I got to Cheyenne and picked up T, whom easily jumped in the front seat after leaving his duffel bag in the back seat. It took some time to get there, because, you know. You can't be the base 2IC and not being bothered if you casually show up to pick someone on the first day of your leave. Nope, they have to drag you around first for some questioning. But I digress.
Teal'c is quietly enjoying the drive to Sam's. Not that him, enjoying quietly something is some kind of novelty. Nope, the big guy sure has the ice treatment ingrained in his every cell. So, Sam…we got to her home and like the good soldier she is, she was already pacing in front of her locked house and checking her watch, because with the change in my schedule we were currently hour and half late. Her car was parked for once inside the garage, her duffel was sitting right next to her door. That much I got to see before, I almost ran over her as she grabbed her duffel and walked to my truck. You know, big smile, twinkling blue eyes and that sweet voice of hers.
"Good Morning Sir, Teal'c" she grinned and jumped in the back seat, slipping next to her duffel and Tealc's and I wanted to roll my eyes at her morningness. It's that even a word? Ack! I'm not a morning person, never was, never will be. But years and years of being a night owl in a world of … whatever the freaking morning birds were called, somehow moved my times to make me sleep late and woke up at dawn, and be able to survive through the day without killing someone. Sam on the other side, is one of those pesky morning people. She wakes up bright in the morning and she is bubbly and energetic and is always smiling, and Gosh, sometimes I want to just give her a slap in the back of her head to knock down a few notches her energy and sometimes, I just want to kiss her senseless and if I get some energy exchange from there, then I wouldn't mind morning people so much. And yes, the second happens more often, I have to smirk to myself. "There's something wrong, sir?" she asked, looking at me through the rear view.
"Nope, just you calling me 'Sir', Carter... we are on vacations for crying out loud!" I winced, then looked at her apologizing over the mirror, she just smiled. "I guess you can try to call me Jack?"
"Sure, si...Jack" she answered with a huge smile, and seconds passed and somewhat uncomfortable silence sat in. T looked away, hiding on the view. Sam tapped her fingers on her jeans, and I did the same on the wheel. Then she groaned, and before I could ask what the matter was, we arrived at Daniel's.
Of course, our civilian friend got caught up on reading last night as we found him sleeping over a book on his table. Sam tried to wake him up gently, but a look and we all knew that wouldn't work and it didn't. While she tried, I went to make some coffee for all of us, since we all know quite well that if one of us has enough reserves and of a good quality of coffee was him, and if we already had to wait for him to wake up, we might as well have some good coffee until our next stop to get over valuated coffee that somehow always tastes wrong at one of those coffee chains that everybody loves so much.
"He's not waking," Sam said to my back and sighed. Somehow, something was different.
"I'll try." I said and turned around to look at her. She looked bright and awake like every morning. "Are you okay?" she nodded with a bright smile. "Sure? You don't look like your morning self" I point and she shrugged.
"I'll be better after that coffee," she grinned, and I, took a cup of water and left to wake Daniel. Seeing that Sam somehow, already had moved the book away, I grinned mischievously and poured the water on my friend, and really life has changed so much for Daniel. Once upon a time, I poured a glass of water over him to wake him before our mission, he looked mad and worried about his book and then he berated me for scaring the Jesus out of him. This Daniel, he rolled to the floor and took cover under his table. Then he looked at me and rolled his eyes before giving me a coarse and disdainful "Yeah, good morning to you too, Jack"
Smell of coffee always work to appease both of our scientist, so when Sam came out with two mugs on each hand and Daniel sniffed the air, he quickly tried to stand up, hitting his head with the table before coming out of his 'hiding' spot. We all tried not to chuckle, we did! I swear… well, trying and not doing it are two different things. But then I guess, that's when he started to plot what brought us to that moment at the library. Believe it or not, Danny-boy can be really deceiving if he wants… and nothing says "plot-against-me" more loudly than "I-woke-you-up-with-water". I think I would want any other form of revenge by now.
By when Daniel finished his bag, which of course he didn't pack, took his shower and got dressed and we were down to the last part of traveling with Danny when at home, book choosing; It was already 9:30 . And it was in the middle of book choosing when he did it. He convinced Sam she needed to take a book with her. But not only a book, but THE book.
You know, one of those you always wanted to read, but you never got time to, and she fell over with that. Because, who wants to go fishing without THE book. I groaned, but a look of those blue sparkling and heavenly eyes pleading to stop at a book shop and I agreed.
We also used the time we knew we had at Daniel's to arrange all the bags in the back of the truck, so the nerds could fit comfortably back there. Anyway, few more minutes after I agreed to stop at the book shop, Daniel also decided he wanted a new book instead of those old things that he was reading.
"They don't go well with fishing," he said and I rolled my eyes, because, really, it's fishing, the only thing it goes well with it is a ton of anti-mosquitoes gel, beer and friends.
We went in, and they moved along trying to find the book, with no success. Then, they tried to get someone's attention for help and after a while, I went to the counter and asked if someone could help my friends.
I pointed the girl to Sam and Daniel and she walked to them, she frowned, denied, Daniel did huge movements with his hand, the girl said something more. Sam bit her lip, more talking, some walking and then they came back to me… empty handed.
"No luck?" I asked and they denied with their heads looking quite disappointed. "Want to try on the next one?" I stupidly commented and they eagerly nodded and we walked to the next store.
Same process all over again, and we walked to the next store. Until there were no more bookstores in the mall that we hadn't checked, but somewhere in the middle of those, someone told us that they were sold out and that we might want to take a walk to that other bookstore just a block away.
"We can always try that bookstore a block away, they mentioned?" Daniel said, because he knew he was the one that set Sam on getting the book, so he was feeling a little remorseful.
"Really?" she asked, her eyes got bright with hope and I looked at her. Darn my melted brain, I agreed and we walked into that store.
A freaking 3 floors bookstore. What the actual hell? I like reading, it's a hobby that I picked up as a kid and never let it go. However, I go to a bookstore and pick books, reading the back, maybe even quickly scanning some pages and then picking the first that I like. But I don't need 3 floors of options. Two shelves are more than enough, thank you very much. I can lose my patience just in those at the mall with way too many options and no so helpful staff.
I was walking around, not touching anything when I caught a book. Or rather, when a book caught me, it was greenish and it had a leaf in the middle of the front. 'Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things', without thinking I skimmed through it and stopped. I never heard of the guy before, I would remember someone with such last name easily. And really… as I say I read what I like, but I don't get myself obsessed with the same authors over and over again. Anyway, I got to this… page and I couldn't avoid just to buy the thing.
I walked to the cashier, paid for it and then set myself into finding my Sam… argh, my teammates. Found them, looking through one of the shelves, moving their heads to read the names straight. It was a funny picture, so I just stood at the side watching them, not that I actually knew the name of the book that she wanted to read. Then, one of the attendants came close and they straightened, the look of the girl was disheartened.
"Apparently, we just sold our last copy, ma'am." Sam looked sad for a second, however she quickly recovered
"No worries, I'll find something else. Thanks"
As she said, she quickly scanned the books much like I'll do and got one that she thought it would work and we went. It was early in the morning when we did the last driver change and I was back under the wheel being the only one that actually knew how to get to the cabin and Sam was by my side. Teal'c was kelno'reeming in the back with Daniel sleeping soundly using the whole back seat and Tealc's lap as a bed.
The coffee that we bought at the last stop was already cold and undrinkable, and a soft tune was sounding as a background, and Sam smiled. It was a smile that I've never seen before and I always thought I've seen them all.
"What?" I asked, glancing to the side
"This is nice"
"You mean driving around with undrinkable cold coffee with a sleeping nerd snoring over a meditating alien?" she snorted and I could not help but smile at such a lovely sound, dear god I'm in too deep.
"If you put it like that… Nah, I mean it, Jack. This is nice."
"I have to agree" and I gave her tight a light squeeze and she shivered. And maybe I was imagining things or maybe that book did mess with my head, but I was seeing things that I've never seen in her before, like somehow she was allowing me to see that whole other her.
The last two hours of our trip, we held some silly conversations where I learned more things about her that I've never thought I would. Like her fixation with blue jello, or why she decided on astrophysics instead of playing the cello. I never knew she wanted to play the cello. I told her that I used to be bullied when I was at school and that my first CO told me that I was too useless to be a good officer. It was somewhere between those conversations, that drifted from one touchy subject to the next and her being lulled into and out of sleep by the movement, we finally got to the cabin.
Before waking my friends, I walked to the house, and started the heater. And got my things out and checked the fridge status. NO, it wasn't empty, I called the neighbor to let him know I was coming and asked him to buy me some essentials and sent him some money to do so. I saw the darn book and went to put it on my bookshelf when she came in.
"You didn't wake me," she said, rubbing her hand on her eyes. Her hair was messy of hours of sitting, she looked extremely cute and I wanted to kiss her so badly. "Should I wake up the guys or should I claim a room first?"
And I blushed like a darn schoolboy, because really, who can ask that kind of questions? Well, anyone, but my mind answered with images of her picking my bed and asking me to join her.
"Jack?" I shook my head to bring back the reality to my brain and she smiled, and her eyes shone while she took a look at me, or actually the book in my hands. "You have it"
"The book that I was looking for… Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things" she said crooking her head, and locking her eyes into mine, and the moment, whatever that moment was, was broken by the sound of the engine of my truck stopping. Then two doors being closed. I waited for them to open the doors and stared.
"Room? Bed?" Daniel said sleepily and if he wasn't so darn sleepy, I would have glared at him. Well, glared some more.
"I take him to the same room, I took last time, O'Neill" Teal'c voice boomed in the empty room and I nodded. We exchanged good nights and turned around to not find Sam. The light on the back porch and the sound of the hammock moving slowly got me in there in no time.
She looks lovely, as usual. She looks perfect and peaceful, and she is reading my book. The darn book.
"Why did you buy this?" She asks curiously, raising her eyes to meet mine. I shrug and she smiles at me. "I tell you why I wanted to read it, if you tell me why you bought it?" She offers with one of those smiles that I'm just starting to meet.
"Okay," I agree, easily and that led me to wince when I notice what I just did, she smiles knowingly and pats the hard surface of the hammock. I'm about to sit when she looks at my eyes...
"Just let me set something right first, you are still at SGC chain?" She asks seriously, and I have no idea from where that question comes from, or what it has to do with the darn book.
"Yup, until I go to DC and take my command. Why?"
"Don't laugh at me, I was doing a search online when I came up with this image. It hit a nerve, because somehow, even tough, it was someone writing about seeing watching a woman, while I read it… I couldn't stop picturing you" She blushes, and that's a sight that I won't mind seeing often.
I also notice the black rings under her eyes, and dawns to me that she must be incredibly tired, she has slept in and out, but it wasn't more than 10 minutes, not that I've slept much more… However, unlike her, I'm not a morning person.
"How do you manage to be so awake, most of the morning people that I know are dying at this time?" she laughed.
"Just… I'm not a morning person, never was, never will be… I guess, years of training ingrained into my soul made me able to be awake in mornings without killing someone until I wake up for real. But really, I can't do proper math until half past midday, that's why I often end up falling asleep at the lab, to make the advances that I was supposed to do in the mornings," she grinned sheepishly, "Just don't tell anyone"
"Huh… but you are always so bubbly and happy when we wake up on missions or when we visit you early in your lab. Or in …" she stopped me, by pressing one slender finger on top of my lips. Oh! The things I could do with that finger…
"I pretend to be a morning person." She blushes and I have to look at her
"Well, I … I do it because of you." She says and what the hell does that mean?
"No offense, Jack, but you are 16 years my senior, and if you can go around moving and thinking on your feet and not look tired, when everybody knows that you aren't a morning person…. Then why shouldn't I be able to do so?"
"I see, so you pretend to be a morning person, because I'm a grumpy person that works in the morning?"
"Yes, and you are trying to avoid answering my question" I smile sheepishly. Yup, I was caught.
"Well, the book called to me and I just skimmed through the pages and got to this one," I say quickly looking for the page number I memorized earlier. "She seems so cool, so focused, so quiet, yet her eyes remain fixed upon the horizon. You think you know all there is to know about her immediately upon meeting her, but everything you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood" I look at her and she looks at me and I have to swallow to be able to continue, because the kind of blue that I'm seeing right now, looks too much like the kind of blue that was trapped behind a wall and caged on a room, but I have to do this, is now or never, "and I couldn't stop thinking about you."
We stare at each other and she says nothing and I'm getting nervous, maybe I scared her. Maybe she pretended not to hear me to give me an out.
"That's the one," she says, pointing to the book and I have to think twice before I can get my bearing and answer
"The one you liked?" I ask, because, really, what else could've I say?
"Yes, don't you see…" she says, and one of her hands comes to my face and I'm shuddering, which is stupid because it's a darn caress and I'm like a big bad General, but she smiles softly and continues, "Even if he is describing a girl, for me it's you. You look so like that for the outsider… and if you are not looking then you seem simple and everyone thinks they know everything that is to know about 'General O'Neill' and they all wonder how you managed to get that far, but I see you…." I have to gulp because that's not what the words were saying.
"No, it actually is you, Sam. Whomever that meets you think they have you all figured, if you aren't the military woman you are the science geek… but I think, I think I saw you.. I hope I see you."
"She only looked away for a moment, and the mask slipped and you fell. All your tomorrows start here." She finish reading, with a happy smile, "There's too much that's still hidden beneath masks, Jack… however, I'm already under 51's chain" and if she is under 51's …
"Will you marry me?" I blurt surprising even myself. She raises an eyebrow and I shrug with a crooked smile, not the most romantic proposal but hey! At least it wasn't in a park after eating hot dogs.
"Yes, but shouldn't we date first?"
"We have been group dating for 8 years… and we only have a week"
"Before you are my CO's CO. I know… What you didn't notice is that I already agreed"
Her eyes glinted in the dark and we laugh, because… really, who gets together over a darn book? And when silence falls this time is not uncomfortable, we are free and I finally get to kiss her again. This time it wasn't a virus, it wasn't a time loop that she wouldn't ever know… It was perfect.
Third time has a charm, they said, and this time it wasn't only Sam, but my fiancée. I think I heard the darn book hit the floor, but the last line was already memorized… and I'm pretty sure that will be part of my vows…. Because really, 'She only looked away for a moment, and her mask slipped and I fell and all our tomorrows start here.'