PART ONE: Chapter 2
The air beneath the mountain is cool, soothing, embracing Sam with a sharp tenderness. She has missed the quiet familiarity of the SGC, the lockers and showers and the small pocket of her own personal space on Level 21, a lab they left aside for her. She has spent the best years of her life here, among people who are vastly different, yet share the same goal. And though Sam knows things have changed dramatically since she last stood outside the briefing room, she does not regret her return.
Her solitude’s interrupted with Daniel steps out of the elevator, a dark-haired woman bouncing beside him. Sam’s lips twitch as she remembers their earlier introduction.
“Hey Sam, you’re here early! Just like old times, huh?”
“You know me!” They had their proper reunion half an hour before, and only exchange warm smiles now. Sam fixes her attention on the woman. “Vala, it’s nice to see you again.”
“Oh, you have no idea.” Despite being forewarned of her mischief, Vala’s excitement is contagious. “I’ve been stuck with these boys for so long, it’s nice to finally work with another beautiful woman.”
Sam laughs, having no other response. Daniel only rolls his eyes. “All right,” he says in an exasperated tone Sam has heard countless times before, “let’s go see what General Landry’s got planned.” Daniel gestures for her to go first, and, feeling the thrill of exhilaration run down her spine, Sam obliges.
She doesn’t see him immediately. Overwhelmed by her return to this room—all the hours she has spent, planning a mission and later picking it apart—Sam fixes her eyes on the SGC emblem on the far side and breathes the mix of worn leather and citrus freshener, tinged with the slightest hint of sweat. She nods at General Landry and Cameron Mitchell, smiles at Teal’c, and then freezes when her gaze lands on him. The unexpected second General, sitting back in his usual seat, his demeanour nothing but professional when he gives her a curt nod.
“Carter,” he says, his voice as rough and intense as she remembers.
She has no choice but to salute him. “General O’Neill, sir.”
“At ease, Colonel.” His expression betrays nothing, but the mask tells her everything. He’s angry and resentful; she doesn’t blame him.
“It’s good to have you join us, Colonel Carter,” General Landry says. “The Ori have been a pain these past few months, but we’ve been able to put up with it until now—they’re trying to establish a beachhead in Kallana, and we can’t have that. The free Jaffa haven’t been able to stop them, so it’s up to us now. As you can see, I’ve called in General O’Neill to offer us his expertise.”
“Expertise?” Vala chimes in, clearly unimpressed. “You lot are being fooled by Nerus! You don’t need expertise when dealing with the Goa’uld—you just need to have the brains and balls to get him out of here!”
General Landry clears his throat and Daniel tugs Vala’s arm, speaking to her in hushed, angry tones. Vaguely, Sam hears their discussion, but her attention’s not on their conversation, but their destination. Sam watches, helpless, as Daniel and Vala take the seats beside Cameron. He barely looks at her, but Sam can feel his presence, the space he occupies. Wordlessly, she takes the only remaining seat—the one next to him—all too aware of the heat that emanates from the lean body next to hers. She feels her own cheeks colour in response, and bites her lip, hoping no one will notice. Especially not him.
“I believe we’ve established our best bet at destroying this thing’s the Mark IX,” General Landry’s saying. “Colonel Carter?”
In her rush this morning, she almost didn’t have the time to read the pre-mission report; for once, Sam’s thankful for the tedious flight from Nevada to Colorado Spring that allowed her that luxury.
“Yes, sir. Our plan’s to arrive on the Prometheus and send the Mark IX, a newly-developed naquadria-enriched warhead, at the force field. There should be enough power, and then some, to collapse the bubble. It’s likely that the Stargate in Kallana will also be destroyed in the process, but our main priority’s to stop the Prior.”
“Will it work?”
He has remained silent during the briefing; now, the only time he speaks, is to question her.
She clenches her jaw before answering. “We know nothing about this force field and how it operates, so we can’t be a hundred percent certain about the outcome. Nerus, the Goa’uld in question, has tried to convince us that it will succeed.”
“Really Carter, you’re going to bet the fate of the galaxy on what some snake-head has told you?”
Sam understands his resentment—she really does—but she hates how it affects their working relationship. She had been right about leaving everything in the damn room four years ago. “With all due respect sir, we won’t know until we try. The Mark IX’s the most powerful weapon we have developed; if it can’t take out this force field, nothing will.”
He appears to consider, but Sam knows his answer from the set of his jaw. “No. I won’t let you do it until you know for sure it’s going to work.”
“Oh come on, Jack!” Daniel’s exasperation slices between them. “Why are you being so unreasonable now? You’ve always left the technology to Sam—when has she ever failed you?”
The General shoots Daniel a scathing look. “We’ve had a decent track record so far, and I don’t want this overconfidence in our abilities to screw us up.”
“Decent?” There’s indignation now, in Daniel’s voice. “I think we’ve done pretty damn well!”
“The Goa’uld were a piece of cake, compared to these…ascended things. You said so yourself, Daniel. These people…beings…whatever they are, they’re not gonna give up without a fight. It’s my job, not some personal preference, to see that this plan’s going to work before I give Carter the go-ahead.”
It’s personal though, oh, how it’s personal. It’s not about the technology or the science—it’s about her. This is her punishment, for disagreeing with him, for leaving—and Sam has no choice but to accept it without question.
“Since when have you been the conservative one?” Daniel continues. “What happened to you, Jack? You’ve never worried about things being foolproof, you’ve always wanted to go ahead with the mission, no matter how risky, no matter how impossible it seemed at the time. And yeah, we’ve been in some pretty crazy situations where our lives were at stake—hell, you know how many times I’ve had to pay for that—but you’ve always trusted Sam to come up with the solution.”
She feels him tense beside her, feels him take a different meaning from Daniel’s words.
“Things have changed since then,” he says quietly. “We’re in different positions now, Daniel. We have different responsibilities.”
His statement’s a fact that Daniel can’t refute. The silence which follows is deafening, drowning out the heavy thud of Sam’s heart.
“General O’Neill has a point,” Landry says finally. “We should proceed with utmost caution. Colonel Carter, consult with the resident science team at Stargate Command and see if you can devise an alternative to your Mark IX weapon.”
The words are a slap in the face, a reminder that, despite all the years she’s put into the program, all she has sacrificed, she’s still an outsider. It’s an effort to remain calm, to keep her voice completely neutral. “Yes, sir. Who should I consult?”
“That would be Dr Lee.”
Sam keeps her head high. She had been a crucial part of the science team for eight years, she had developed the weapon. The consultation will yield no results, and they will return to square one and settle with the original proposal she has put forth; instead, they will waste precious time as the energy of the force field continues to build, giving the Ori a chance to secure their beachhead. Sam Carter understands protocol, understands the politics, but in this case, what they are doing’s utterly unnecessary. And it’s all because the man who was once her commanding officer, the man who was once her lover,’s still her superior—a superior who can’t forgive her for what she had done.
“You have 24 hours to come up with a viable solution,” General Landry continues. “We will brief again at 0900 tomorrow. Dismissed.”
She hears someone let out a sigh of frustration—it may have been Vala, or perhaps Daniel—as they shuffle to their feet. Sam lowers her head, keeping her attention fixed on the report she had given, the report she had prepared, which no one ever read in full. She remembers all those times when she had sat in the exact same spot, her stomach twisting into knots at the simple pleasure of sitting next to a man she so admires and respects; now, with his silent fury, the memories seem false, twisted, as elusive as the nights they had spent together, blanketed by each other.
She hears him lean back in his chair, and her frustration wells when she realises he’s making no move to leave. The others are almost at the door, Teal’c trailing behind, and Sam glances up, giving them a reassuring smile.
“General Landry,” she says, “I wish to discuss something with you.”
The other man doesn’t look up. “Go ahead, Colonel.”
She keeps her jaw firm. “In private, sir.”
The commander of the SGC lays down his papers and gives Sam his full attention. “If this has something to do with any reservations you have about my judgement, then you have to understand the final order comes from General O’Neill. You have to speak to him.” He tips his head towards the person in question.
“I understand, sir. It’s not about that.”
Landry raises an eyebrow. “Oh? Is this about your reassignment to Stargate Command then, Colonel?”
“In that case, you should also be speaking to General O’Neill, as he has the final say on the formation of SG-1. I’m sorry, Colonel. Is there anything else you wish to discuss?”
Sam swallows. “No, sir. Thank you, sir.”
“Then I will see you both tomorrow morning.” General Landry gathers his paperwork, and leaves the room.
So it’s the two of them now, side by side, a chasm stretching in-between. Perhaps Sam might have considered attempting to bridge that chasm if they had been reunited under different circumstances, or if he had respected and supported her through the debriefing. But power has been played, wounds have been drawn.
The room’s far too quiet. Realising she may have appeared to be lingering—and perhaps she is lingering—Sam sweeps up her papers and rises to her feet in one swift move, heading towards the door with resolution. She has extra work to do now, unnecessary work that he created, and there isn’t a minute to waste. She will drop by her lab first, and find a copy of the schematics to show the other scientists. It will accomplish nothing, but she will follow protocol to the bone. She will not give anyone any reason to question her presence or competence.
The elevator doors open with the usual whoosh, and Sam steps in, calmer now that she has established a goal. But that quickly falls away when she realises he has followed her, and the doors are closing, and oh, she thinks she can smell the same aftershave he used every morning.
The air suddenly feels hot. Her mouth goes dry, and her skin tingles. They are almost on opposite sides of the elevator, but in the confined quarters, he still feels too close. Dangerously close. She had avoided looking in his direction when she first saw him, but now she notices from the corner of her eye that he’s in his dress blues. Sam can’t remember how long it has been since he has been dressed so formally, but she clearly recalls how her body had reacted to the sight of him looking so clean and polished, yet rough around the edges. And, to her chagrin, Sam reacts in the same way now, her breaths becoming shallower, the warmth pooling in her stomach, the unexpected wetness between her legs. That he’s perhaps still furious with her isn’t a deterrence—in fact, she finds it arousing. When they made love before, he had been a gentleman, showering her with an abundance of attention and affection. Sam had enjoyed it—oh, how she had enjoyed it—but she always felt he was holding a part of himself back, as if he was anxious about accidentally driving her away. Now that a wedge is firmly lodged between them, she wonders if he would discard all his inhibitions, wonders what it would be like to be completely under his power, wonders how he would look and sound and feel like when he came…
The doors open, interrupting her thoughts. Her fact hot, Sam’s only too glad to leave. The hallway feels like a winter afternoon.
But he has stepped out, too, and follows Sam as she makes her way to her lab. It would be a lie to convince herself she hadn’t seen it coming, but now that the prospect of a confrontation draws nearer, she only wants to escape. She quickens her pace, heart thudding in her ears.
She pushes open the door to her lab and practically dashes inside, not bothering to look behind her. Sure enough, Sam hears the door close, followed by the click of the lock, a lock she has never used in all her years here.
She feels him approaching, feels the heat from his body as intensely as if she never had left. But still she doesn’t turn around, doesn’t move the hand that clutches the desk for support. She has thoughts, she has views and opinions and her displeasure to voice, but Sam can’t remember any of it now. She can only see the beautiful, jagged lines of his face as he pumps into her.
“Fuck, Sam, can’t you even look at me?”
His voice is soft thunder. Somewhere, not too far away, she hears that voice moan. Sam closes her eyes, willing herself to calm, to ignore her need for him.
“For crying out loud, Carter, what the fuck is wrong with you? Been spending so much time with your gadgets that you can’t even face someone like a normal human being now?”
That gets her attention. Riding on the precarious edge of lust and anger, she spins around. His mouth’s half open, no doubt to launch another attack, but her expression shocks him into silence. All the better for her.
“I’m working on a strict deadline, one that has been imposed upon me. If you have a problem that I’m otherwise engaged, take it up with the asshole who set me up in the first place, sir.”
He’s surprised, and she thinks he will finally lash out at her. But he reins in his temper and narrows his eyes; Sam feels her stomach drop, knowing what will come next.
“You didn’t call. You didn’t fucking call.”
Sam had almost hoped he would be angrier and shouting at her; his quiet accusation is much, much worse.
“No. I didn’t call.”
She has so many excuses ready, so many false escapes that would grant her temporary relief before the guilt claims her. But he deserves better from her. There’s only room for the truth now—and Sam’s terrified. How could she explain to him that she did not know what to say, did not know how to start a conversation with him after all those awkward revelations and moments on the last day she was with him? How could she show him that she has avoided him because she needs time and distance to think, because she owes him an answer, one which requires so much deliberation? How could she convince him that she had wanted to call, and had spent several evenings staring at the phone, cradling it in her hands, aching to hear his voice?
So she says the only thing that comes to mind, the only thing that protects herself.
“Why didn’t you call?”
It’s unfair. He had given her the space she requires, and she’s throwing it all back at him because she’s a coward who can’t face the reality of where they are going. Now she isn’t sure if there’s still a ‘them’.
He shakes his head, and his resignation gnaws at her. “What do you want, Sam? What do you want from me?”
For starters, she wants him to stop calling her name, because hearing it from his lips makes it impossible for her to think properly.
“I want you, plain and simple—but you know we can never be plain and simple. Because there’s so much shit going on with the Ori and so much shit for me to go through in order to come up with some fucking miracle to save us all.” Sam pauses to draw a ragged breath. She hates having to swear. “Our jobs have never been plain and simple, and neither can we.”
The lines around his mouth soften. “No Sam, you’re wrong. This isn’t about the Stargate or the Ori or our jobs—this is about you and me. How can we take care of the galaxy if we can’t even take proper care of ourselves?”
She will never admit it, but he has a point.
“This is about what I said, last time. Don’t deny it—just hear me out. Okay, so maybe it was spontaneous of me, but I meant it. Not in a ‘you-either-take-this-or-leave’ way, but a ‘why-don’t-you-consider-this’ way. It was only an offer, Sam. You didn’t have to make such a big deal out of it.”
Sam shakes her head. “No, it wasn’t just an offer, it was a thought that you voiced, one you would keep wanting to make, keep thinking about. An offer that will always be there, in the back of our minds.”
“What do you want me to do, take it back now? Go back through time and unsay those words? Sure, just let me get clearance to use one of those Ancient time-turning devices so you’ll never have to hear those words. Piece of cake.” He sighs, and Sam knows she’s being unreasonable. “I just need…some sort of indication about you, okay?”
She knows he’s asking for reassurance, but those words hurt. “Right, so falling into your bed clearly wasn’t enough.”
“Dammit Sam, that’s not how it is!” His anger returns, and she’s doing nothing—can do nothing—to stop it. “I really can’t tell with you sometimes, whether you’re being serious. History speaks for itself—look at Jonas. Pete. You get engaged, you break it off and break the poor bastard’s heart. I’m sure as hell not gonna be your next victim!”
He has crossed the line there, and his face twists at his own callous words.
“I shouldn’t have said that.” He starts to pace the floor. “I’m sorry, I don’t know what I’m thinking, Sam, it’s just—”
“Please, stop calling me that.” She can’t take it any more. It’s bad enough that he’s here, so close to her, but she can do without him using her name so freely. “You’re my superior here, we’re in a professional environment—please don’t address me so informally.”
He freezes, speechless for a moment. Then his eyes blacken with anger. “I can’t believe you. You can’t face this, so you just hide under the blanket of regulations, because you think the rules will save you and comfort you. But you know what? They won’t. They only make you feel lonely, because at the end of the day you go home to a dark, empty house and realise that all you have are your stupid rules and logic, and that you’re alone.”
He’s right, the truth a brutal stab to her heart. So Sam does the only thing more natural to her than loving him: replacing the barriers that have always separated them. “I believe we’re done here, sir. I have work to do.”
She sees something inside him snap. The soft, menacing tone of his next words chill her to the bone. “Don’t you dare, Carter. Don’t you fucking dare.”
It’s getting oh-so-difficult to breathe. “With all due respect sir, you were the one who ordered me to go through this in the first place.” She clings to the regulations now because she doesn’t know anything else, can’t think of anything else but the dark look in his eyes that makes her legs tremble. She has to get him out of there. “Sir, if you would please excuse yourself from my office, I would greatly appreciate it.”
“You want to play this game? Fine.” He closes the distance between them in two quick strides, and before she can react, he grabs her shoulder and pushes her down to her knees, undoing his fly with his other hand. Sam starts to panic, instinctively clawing at his legs, but he’s immovable, undeterred. She tries to clear her mind, to think, and can’t because it’s all happening too fast, he has pulled out his dick, thick and pulsing, the sudden proximity of his scent and him making her dizzy. And before she can regain her wits, he pushes his dick into her mouth, and she takes it in all too gladly. He hisses, stopping when he hits the back of her throat. “Suck.”
Her eyes shoot up to his face, and she’s certain his desire mirrors her own. There it is, Jack O’Neill’s primal need to dominate, a sight and thought that sears her.
“Are you deaf, Colonel? I said, suck!”
She obeys, her nails now digging into his legs, partly in vengeance, partly to bring him closer. He moans, threading a hand into her hair, gripping her tightly, and her eyes water from the pain and pleasure of having him, having her, like this. Sam has tasted him once before in his cabin, but it had been slow, intimate; this is intimate too, but in a different way, where she’s unabashedly giving everything he demands. He starts to pump into her mouth, and she encourages him, finding his ass and pulling him to her with every thrust. She flicks her tongue to stroke hard against the underside of his dick, and he groans, the sound so raw she wants to cry at its beauty. Her heart racing, Sam lets her teeth graze him in the same spot, and he cries out, his words almost indiscernible.
“Carter, god, Sam!”
Hearing her name torn from his lips like this, as if she’s the last thing that matters to him in this world, arouses her more than she could have imagined. She opens up to him completely, taking him deep into her throat, then moans at the sensation. His hips buckle then, and he swears, suddenly withdrawing his entire length, making her moan again, this time in disappointment at the loss.
“Why are you stop—”
“Get up,” he growls, yanking her to her feet and turning her around, pushing her against the wall. She squeals, the gush of air leaving her lungs, and tries to twist around. But he’s too fast and has already pulled down her pants and pinned her with his legs. Then he slips two fingers into her, and it’s all Sam can do to prevent a moan escaping her throat.
“Fuck Carter, you’re so wet!” He’s so close she can feel the vibration of his chest against her back, his ragged breath hot against her neck. He drives his fingers deeper inside her, his thumb instantly finding her clit, flicking it roughly. This time she does moan, and she feels him smile against her neck before he nips her earlobe, making her quiver. “You like that? You like having no choice but to suck my dick? You know, I bet you’re gonna love it when I fuck your brains out, Carter.”
With that, he plunges into her, burying himself so entirely that Sam thinks she’s going to choke. He keeps rubbing her clit, and his other hand snakes up her shirt and bra, finding her nipple. He pinches it at the same time he rotates his hips and hits her sweet spot, and Sam starts to convulse, her orgasm fast approaching. But he has other ideas, and instead of continuing, he pulls out almost fully, making her whimper.
“Not so fast, Carter. You’re gonna have to ask for permission first, Colonel.” He starts fucking her again, this time with short, shallow thrusts that keep on her edge and drive her crazy. He cups her breast and squeezes harshly, for his own pleasure. His other hand leaves her, and Sam knows from his sudden gasp that he’s stroking his balls. Sam bites her lip, frustrated and aching. She wants to come, she wants to make him come, with her hands and mouth and body. Her mind starts working long enough for her to find the hand on her breast and push it down, then pull it up again, taking two fingers into her mouth. He swears, clearly taken by surprise, then regains his composure and fixes his lips onto the spot behind her ear that always turns her to jelly, and sucks with a ferocity that brands her as his. Her legs give way, but he keeps her up, trapping her once more with his body.
“So what’s it gonna be, Carter? Are you gonna be a good officer, or do I have to punish you some more?”
Sam slips his fingers out to answer, but doesn’t release her grip. “What do you want from me, Jack?”
He finds her clit again and pinches it, pumping deep into her twice before withdrawing again. She gasps, yearning for more. “That’s not how it works, Colonel. You don’t get to throw my words back at me.” Then he enters her with hard precision, five calculated strokes, one for each word. “That’s. Not. How. It. Works.”
Sam feels the tears well up in her throat, from the humiliation of not what he’s doing to her, but from knowing that she’s only too happy to oblige. Her next words are so soft she knows he’s straining to hear. “Permission to be thoroughly fucked, sir.”
He laughs, a cruel sound that embarrasses and arouses her. But he keeps to his word and fucks her in earnest, driving himself to the hilt, sending them both struggling for breath. His tongue finds her ear, dipping deliciously into the crevice. “More.”
“Permission to come, sir.” Her orgasm builds again, growing so quickly that her head begins to spin. She thrusts his fingers into her mouth, overwhelmed again by his taste, smoky and hard and so completely him. He fucks her for his own release too, and knowing he seeks the same thing from her body turns her on even further.
She’s getting so close now, approaching the brink that would break them both. “Please, sir, let me come, sir!”
His other hand rubs her clit so hard that it borders on pain, his hips continuing to thrust, his dick hot against her flesh and every last nerve as he moves. She knows he’s holding back for her now, refusing to let go before he drives her over the edge. She almost doesn’t recognise his voice when he grunts again, “More!”
“Sir! Oh god, please, sir!”
He roars into her neck, his nails catching her clit at the same time he impales himself so completely, and Sam’s there, her hand locked with his and crushing them against her erratic heart. She stills, a helpless cry leaving her lips as she rides exquisite wave after wave, squeezing him tightly even as he continues to pump, drawing out her orgasm. And then she feels his teeth clamp on her shoulder, hard enough to leave a mark, muffling his cry as he comes too, his warmth sending her soaring. His hand clenches hers in a death grip, but she doesn’t care, because he’s here and with her, and they are beautiful because it’s him and her, and it doesn’t matter what they call each other or are called by each other, because it’s still him, and her.
But then he nuzzles her neck and whispers her name, the tender caress that tells her how much he needs and loves—the two not so different after all—and the tears spill over because she needs and loves him just as much, and because he will take all of her with him when he leaves.
She misses him the moment he withdraws his soft dick from her, drenched in their combined juices. He untangles himself from her, but his fingers are still caught in her hand, and she almost doesn’t let go. Grasping for control, Sam leans her forehead against the wall and listens to the shuffles around her lab, now quiet, followed by the rustle of tissues and the zipping of his trousers. He approaches her shortly afterwards, gently cleaning her between her legs and down her thighs. He helps her pull her pants back up, then lightly takes her hand, an invitation for her to turn around, not quite a demand. Her heart still pounding in her throat, she quickly wipes her eyes before facing him, hoping he won’t notice her tears.
He does. His expression immediately twists from uncertain to self-loathing. “I’m sorry, I didn’t…” He lifts a hand to her cheek, and Sam thinks he will brush away the remainder of her tears and she will lean into him, then close her eyes and kiss his hand in reassurance. Instead, he drops his arm, letting it hang limply at his side. “I’m sorry.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” she murmurs, knowing it to be true. Only he doesn’t see it; he only sees his truth, the one in which he has practically raped her and left her crying.
“You should report this, Carter.” His voice is so lifeless, so different to his passion and urgency and warmth minutes ago that she wants to cry again. But she knows he takes her trembling lips as a sign that he has irrevocably wronged her, because his eyes are haunted again. “Did I hurt you?”
She can only shake her head. It takes her another moment to find her voice. “No, you didn’t. And there’s nothing to report. I was willing, sir.”
She uses the honorific out of habit; instead, it shatters him, a clear reminder of what has happened, and why. All the exhilaration and hope she had felt is gone, leaving in its place a despair that swallows her from within.
“You don’t have to protect me, Carter. We both know that was an abuse of power.”
“No! No…” Sam struggles, not wanting to exacerbate things by addressing his rank, not knowing what else she can call him that would still be welcome. “It wasn’t. Please, just…let it go.”
He shakes his head, this time avoiding her gaze. “Carter, I—”
“Let it go,” she repeats in a tone that leaves no room for argument. His eyes snap to hers. “You owe me that much.”
For a moment, Sam thinks he will disagree once more and drag her through the halls into Landry’s office and subject himself to court martial then and there. But he simply nods, the exhaustion etched on his face. He looks like a man who’s giving up because he has already lost everything he holds dear.
Sam wants him to keep fighting; she wants to keep fighting. “Listen, I—”
“I’m approving your transfer back into SG-1,” he interrupts. “And I’m giving you the go-ahead for the mission to Kallana. It was obvious I was being petty and holding you back on purpose, everyone in that room knew it. But I don’t give a damn what they think, as long as you know that I feel stupid, and I’m sorry. I’ve never doubted your scientific expertise, and I never will.”
He heads towards the door, and Sam stumbles after him. He’s leaving, and she hasn’t even had her chance to fight, to tell him that it will be okay, that, somehow, they will get through this. “No, please, don’t go!”
He pauses, turning back towards her. She now sees his eyes are red; he doesn’t want to head directly to Landry’s office, but to leave her lab so he can have his own privacy. Still, he offers her a smile, the small curve of his lips a weak echo of the laughter they have shared.
“I have to, Sam.” He winces, and Sam remembers how she almost spat at him for calling her name. Now she wants to go back and tell him she would be anything, as long as she’s his. “I have to go oversee this program, you have to go fight the Ori. We both have our hands full with saving this planet.”
He doesn’t mention the other problems, the real problems they have, because it will be a lot harder if he doesn’t make it about the world, about their responsibilities. This has always been their way of dealing, of excusing themselves.
“Besides,” he continues, voice forcefully light, “we’re in the same field. I’ll see you around.”
They both recognise the lie. After this, after today, they will need time alone in the darkness, time to nurse their wounds and unwittingly create new ones, time to try and heal. Perhaps they would eventually return to the people they had been before they were broken, but all their hard work at recovering would be undone if they ever see each other again; their feelings run too deep, for far too long, for it to be any other way.
And knowing this, knowing she will share no more moments with him and only cradle all those bittersweet memories she already has, Sam closes their distance, her fingers running through his silky, silver hair one last time, her lips gently moulding with his in one last kiss. She feels him pull her in, just slightly, his hands resting on her waist, his lips returning her kiss with a lingering sweetness that sends the tears spilling over again. And then, all too soon, Sam ends the kiss, taking a step back, this time not bothering to dry her tears, because there will be many more to follow.
“Yeah,” she manages, making out his figure, those hard contours that crumble before her. “I’ll see you around.”
The closing of the door is a louder goodbye than the words he never said.