Convolutions Chapter 3. Spilled Emotions
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
Jack walked into the kitchen and looked at their untouched breakfast, a glaring symbol of his failure. Eggs were still in the frying pan on the stove, a cold, sticky mess now, and toast was standing tall in the toaster, it's pleasant aroma having completely dissipated. Sam's cup sat alone on the table, half filled with the cold black liquid. He picked up the cup, starting toward the sink in an automated movement and then stopped looking down into the cup.
"She didn't even stay long enough to finish her damned coffee!"
As the last word left his mouth his anger exploded and he hurled the cup across the room, watching it smash against the wall and create a dark stain as the spilled contents trailed slowly towards the floor.
He ran restless fingers through his short, unruly hair and grimaced at his own frustration. Coffee, he needed coffee. He crossed to the pot and picked up his own cup, momentarily forgetting it was cold; he took a huge gulp and immediately squeezed his eyes shut against the distaste of the cold bitter liquid as it filled his mouth and fueled his anger. He swallowed quickly and then propelled the cup forcefully across the room, striking the wall with a small explosion as it joined its partner on the kitchen floor. His eyes followed the fragmented shards as they skittered across the tiled floor and in less than a heartbeat his arm was sweeping forward in a broad, furious motion. He struck his mark dead-on and the coffee pot went flying across the room. The toaster was next, clanging loudly as he swept it from the counter and left it to dangle precariously by its cord, toast and crumbs falling randomly around him. He turned quickly toward the stove and lifting the frying pan banged it down repeatedly on the counter, sending eggs flying over the sides and splattering helter-skelter across the counter and floor, his arm absorbing the jolt of his rage with every blow. The plates followed, joining their cousins as useless fragments torn apart by an unrelenting rage.
With nothing left to punch or destroy and their breakfast now decorating the entire kitchen, he stood and surveyed the results of his anger. He released a deep sigh as one hand fisted and folded against his hip while the other rubbed slowly backwards across his forehead and hair. He shook his head and muttered aloud, "Jack O'Neill, you are one stupid son of a bitch!" Eventually he looked down at his bare feet, cursing softly as he found himself completely surrounded by numerous pieces of broken glass. Having no other choice, he moved carefully across the room, avoiding as much glass as possible and balancing on one foot to remove the rest as he went.
When he finally reached the hallway, he went to the bedroom, finished dressing and then straight out through the front door. It was cold but not snowing and as his feet struck the gravel of the driveway, he started jogging. By the time he reached the end of the block he was running full tilt, pushing his muscles with every stride, feeling his heart begin to race in his chest and burning up his anger. He kept on running and pushing until his muscles were screaming at him to stop, his breath crystallizing the air in front of him as he huffed out chunks of warm carbon dioxide and sucked cold, fresh air into his lungs.
And he kept running. His strong arms pumping as his feet slammed against the hard surface of the street, both actions propelling his sizable body forward and blurring the quiet beauty of the snow kissed landscape around him. He didn't slow, or pause, he just ran. But even with this powerful exertion, his mind continued to work, to question and analyze, searching for a solution. He thought back to the years that he and Sam had worked together on SG1. They had built a concise, almost perfect field unit. It was magic. It had been from the first moment they'd stepped through the Stargate together. The communication had always been there, expanding and improving with each passing year. He knew what she was thinking with a simple look or a gesture. She could do the same. They hadn't needed words. And he had held on through all that time and turmoil, loving her from a distance but never allowing himself to actually acknowledge his feelings.
Then he'd been promoted. And promoted again. Shortly after receiving news of the second promotion, she had requested transfer to Research and Development, wanting to continue her work on the alien technology they had procured off-world and effectively moving herself out of his direct line of command in the bargain, she left the SGC. And he was glad. He'd never have asked her to do it, but he was glad. She'd be safe on earth and even though she was thousands of miles away, that was better than millions of light years.
After that, it had been a natural progression for them to come together. "Someday" had finally arrived and Jack at last, came home. Daniel had saved him all those years ago, but Sam...Sam was his journey's end; Sam was home. He didn't know if he could live without her now, but he knew he didn't want to find out.
Jack's breathing was ragged now, almost gasping, as his legs struggled to keep moving. His vision was blurring and he felt light headed as he consciously slowed his pace. His mind was playing the same scenarios over and over, but his anger had dissolved and exhaustion was creeping in, slowly overpowering him. But he kept going, kept running, pushing until finally the world spun out of control and he staggered, falling hard against the curb.
He managed to utter that single word and reach toward the pain in his head before his eyes closed and the world went dark.
"Sir? Sir, are you all right?"
He groaned and grimaced deeply before opening his eyes. A young woman was kneeling beside him, staring with obvious concern into his face. He started to sit up and felt her hand pressing against his shoulder.
"Maybe you should just stay there for a minute. How do you feel?"
He spoke the words before he'd finished the mental inventory that he'd become all too familiar with over the years. His mind was still a little confused as he took in the hard surface beneath him and the snow covered landscape around him.
"Head hurts a bit. And my knees, but other than that...I'm fine."
"Ok, well just rest for a minute. What happened?"
"Uh, I was running, stumbled on something...must have hit the curb when I fell."
"Maybe I should call an ambulance?"
"No, I'm fine, really." He smiled and pressed against the asphalt, pulling himself into a sitting position. "Ow."
"How long have you been running, if you don't mind my asking?"
Jack blinked, trying to clear his vision and stammered a bit as he answered. "Oh, I don't know...years...all my life."
Her amused giggle startled him and he looked up at her.
"I meant, just now...today. How long have you been running? How far?"
"Oh!" Jack lifted his arm and looked at his watch, surprised at the time. It was almost noon. "About three and a half, I think."
He pressed his fingers against the painful spot on his head and recognized the familiar warm, stickiness soaking through his hair.
"Crap!" He muttered quietly.
He didn't see her facial expression change in surprise as he answered. Nor did he notice her studying him closely, wondering if he'd really been running for that length of time. He looked to be in good shape and seemed to be running almost full out when she saw him fall but she doubted that a man of his age could run for three and a half hours.
"Sorry, I don't have anything to put on that. Are you sure you don't need an ambulance?"
"No, it's fine, just...messy."
He smiled for the first time since regaining consciousness and the young woman seemed to relax a bit. She pulled a water bottle from her belt and offered it to him.
"Take this, then. You must be thirsty."
Jack gulped at the water, realizing he was probably dehydrated or very near so. Then he looked around, trying to get his bearings. He actually wasn't that far from home and thought he could make it there on his own, after a short rest.
They were sitting there on the curb, resting, when a police officer stopped to check out the situation. He, too, offered to call an ambulance, but Jack refused. He just wanted to go home and finally, after some basic first aid, the officer offered to drop him off. Jack stood slowly to his feet and was just about to tell the officer he could make it on foot when the world started to spin crazily again. He reached out and grasped at the woman's shoulder steadying himself against the vertigo and smiling crookedly.
"Maybe I'll take you up on that offer after all, Officer."
The cop stepped closer to Jack just in case he started to lose his stability again and they moved towards the car. Jack thanked the young woman, finally introducing himself and then slid into the police cruiser. In a few moments they were driving away.
The police officer saw him safely inside his house before he drove away, advising Jack to have someone look at his injury and Jack agreed. He walked towards the kitchen and across the littered floor. Crunching glass beneath each step, he filled a glass with water and drank it down, then filled it again and sipping at it slowly started towards the bedroom.
He was tired and nauseous and thoughts of Sam were once more dominating his mind. He grabbed a towel and pressing it against the still bleeding cut, collapsed on their bed. Her smell assaulted his senses as he relaxed into her pillow and snuggled into her memory. The hand he had pressed against his head slowly relaxed, dropping limply away as he slipped into unconsciousness.
Sam screeched into the driveway at 1630 and hopped out of the car, hurrying towards the house. General Landry had transferred the call from a concerned police officer to her lab once he realized the call concerned O'Neill. It hadn't sounded serious, but when Jack didn't answer either the house or cell phone, she'd begun to worry.
She pushed open the door and called out to him immediately, pausing to listen for his voice. Silence. Complete silence. Only the kitchen light was on and she started towards the doorway, gasping slightly as she reached the entrance. The room was wrecked, broken glass littered the floor and remnants of food were scattered about, some clinging to the walls and cabinets, even a few bits on the ceiling. Her eyes widened as they moved about the scene. A skillet was balanced precariously on the cabinet edge near a dangling toaster and the handle of the coffee pot lay close to the opposite wall. Either they'd had a vandal break-in or Jack was in a rage. Even though she was betting on Jack, her anxiety was increasing as she called out to him again. Reaching behind her, she pulled out her handgun and started slowly down the hall.
"Jack! Where the hell are you?"
She was already moving towards the bedroom as she called out to him and released an audible sigh of relief as her eyes recognized his relaxed figure lying on the bed.
"Jack? Jack!" She tugged gently at his shoulder and he rolled easily towards her, exposing his bloody head and the towel beneath it. "Jack, oh, God! JACK! Wake up! Can you hear me?"
She was shaking him now and not very gently. Her pulse was pounding in her throat as her eyes took in his pale face and the blood soaked pillow. She reached over to gently touch his head, trying to find the injury.
"Jack, can you hear me? Wake up, Jack, open your eyes!"
She was sitting beside him on the bed and when he didn't respond she reached for the phone. She was already dialing when his fingers brushed against her arm.
"Sam?" His voice was soft and scratchy as if he'd been sleeping for a long time.
"Jack! Are you all right?" She slammed the phone down in its cradle and turned back to him. "What the hell is going on?"
"What?" He paused, closing his hand around her arm and squeezing lightly. "Sorry, baby, I didn't realize you were here, I thought I was dreaming. What time is it?" He moved his hand against her skin, stoking her arm softly as he stared, a bit confused, into her concerned eyes.
"It's, I don't know, about 1700. Jack, your head...how bad is it?"
"1700? And you're home already?"
Sam let out another loud sigh.
"Yes, Jack. The police called the base to see if we were missing a General. When Landry realized it was you, he transferred the call to me and they told me they'd brought you home. Now, what happened? You don't trip and fall, Jack, at least not on earth."
"Ow! Stop!" He pulled away and yelled angrily as her hands moved across his skull, exploring the injury. "Sam, don't! I'm fine."
"So I see. I've been calling, Jack, if you're fine, why didn't you answer the phone?"
"I was sleeping! Now, will you stop?"
Ever the bad patient, Jack pushed her hand away. She slapped his away in return.
"No, you stop! I think you're still bleeding. You probably need stitches, now let me see." She turned his face to the side and pushed the hair away, his blood oozing slowly around her fingers. "You've got one hell of a bump and a good sized cut. What did you hit?"
"Ouch! Sam! Hit? Wha da ya mean?"
She released her hold on him and he turned to look at her.
"Jack, are you sure you're all right?" She couldn't tell if he was just trying to annoy her or if he really couldn't keep up with the conversation. "You fell, remember? What did you hit?"
"Oh, yeah! The curb. I hit the curb but I'm ok, Sam."
"Come on, can you stand up?"
He was slurring his words and his eyes looked a bit strange as he tried to focus on her; she suspected that he had a mild concussion.
"Yes, but I'd rather stay here." He reached his arms around her and pulled her down against him. "I just got home. I've barely even seen you."
His eyes were smiling warmly, teasing her silently, as he held her against him. She pulled her hand away from his head and held it up for him to see. It was covered in fresh blood.
"Now, come on. Let's go. You need stitches and if you're a good boy maybe Dr. Summers will give you a lollipop." She wiped her hand on the towel quickly and stood up, preparing to take his weight if he started to fall. "Easy, you might be a little dizzy."
He sat up too quickly and the world started spinning again.
"Whoa! Ya think?"
She chuckled and although his head was pounding, the sound of her laughter warmed his heart as he looked up at her smiling face.
"You look a bit drunk...Sir." She quipped, still chuckling.
"Very funny, Carter. Now, help me!"
He reached out an arm and she slid beneath it, helping to lift his sizable frame to a standing position. They both swayed momentarily as he stood and Sam thought for a second they were going to fall, but she spread her feet further apart and held him, finally stabilizing them both. He turned to look at her with a small, goofy grin forming on his lips.
"Yeah. You?" She grunted softly, shouldering his weight, as they moved across the room. "Sure you can do this?"
"Yeah, it's ok now, I'm not so dizzy."
She felt the strain on her muscles relax considerably as he straightened and shifted most of his weight off of her.
"I swear, Jack, that Irish temper is going to be the death of you!"
"What temper?" He asked, confused again, thinking maybe he had a concussion because he couldn't seem to keep up.
"I saw the kitchen." She answered flatly.
"Oh. I uh...spilled the coffee."
Sam looked up at him, eyebrows raised, only to see that patented "adorable little boy" look that he invariably used when he was in trouble.
"And then decided you'd break the dishes instead of washing them?"
His eyes flickered, closing momentarily as blackness threatened to engulf him, but he could hear a hint of amusement in her voice and he fought against it.
"We needed new ones, anyway!"
She chuckled slightly and opened the car door, helping him into the passenger's seat. When he was situated and belted in, she started to close the door and he called out to her again.
"We needed a new coffee pot, too."
He watched as she closed her eyes and bit down on her bottom lip, shaking her head side-to-side slightly. He was still talking as she closed the door and moved around the car.
"And a new toaster! Maybe a set of cookware...."
It took about two hours to get Jack cleaned up and patched up then they were on their way home again. The mood between them had changed and they were now driving along in silence. Jack was watching her, wondering what he'd missed. She'd been almost normal on the way to the base, reacting automatically to his injury and openly showing her concern for him. Now she was more than quiet.
"When? What do you mean, Jack?"
"Something's...I don't know...different."
Sam glanced over at him but quickly returned her gaze to the road ahead of them. After a long pause, Jack spoke again.
"I'll fix it you know...the kitchen. Clean it up, replace it...whatever."
He waived his arm around loosely, which to him meant fixing the whole universe if that made her happy.
'Ok? That was it, just ok? So it wasn't the kitchen.' He sat quietly for a few minutes fighting against the sedatives, trying to think clearly about the day's events and everything that had happened since the papers were delivered to his door.
"Did something happen at the base?" He saw the signs of tension flash across her face as she sought an answer for his question. "Ok. Let me rephrase that. What happened at the base?"
"You didn't notice anything?"
"The sideways glances, the whispering and giggling as we passed?"
"Oh, that. Yeah, I guess. What about it?"
"It happens a lot, Jack."
His brow became deeply furrowed as he listened, trying to concentrate on her words.
"Ever since I came back to the mountain...and it seems even worse when you're here." She grimaced a bit, staring at the road intently, as she spoke the last sentence, knowing how it sounded.
"Ah!" 'Well, here we go, he thought, back to me.' "So what's it about, Sam? Rumors? What?"
"Us, Jack, you and me. But mostly me."
He was quiet for a moment and when he did speak, his voice was filled with quiet exasperation.
"Damn! I thought those would stop now that we're married!"
"What?" Sam almost shouted the word and Jack looked at her, clearly surprised at her reaction.
"What do you mean 'you thought they'd stop'? Are you telling me this was going on before?"
"Sam, I'm a little foggy here, but surely you knew there were rumors about us."
"About me, my rank, my command ability, Jack? About me "sleeping my way to the top"?
"No! Just whether or not we were...." His voice trailed off as he registered the look on her face. "They're just jealous, Sam. They can't accept the fact that you're so damn smart so they make up something they can accept!"
"I don't think that's it and it's getting harder and harder to deal with. Suddenly, I'm not Colonel Carter or even just Sam anymore...I'm the General's wife or Mrs. O'Neill or some other things that aren't nearly that polite...and it pisses me off!"
Jack chuckled involuntarily and she shot him a killer look. He threw up his hands in response.
"Sorry, sorry! I know it does but you don't have to take that crap from anybody. Just tell 'em to go to hell!"
"They don't say it to my face, Jack!"
"Well, we'll figure something out."
"Easy for you to say, General, Sir." She emphasized his title strongly and then continued in a voice dripping with contempt. You'll be in Washington!"
"You ordered me back here, Jack! I should've stayed in R&D..."
"Sam, Landry requested that you be reassigned here, he needed you. Mitchell needs you! And I thought you didn't want me making decisions on a personal basis!"
"Well, then what did you expect when Landry calls me up and asks for the best scientist for SG1? Did you expect me not to recommend you?"
"It'll blow over, Sam! Just give it some time."
"That's just it, Jack, it won't. Have you forgotten Dad was a General? It never goes away."
Her tone had changed to one of defeat and Jack didn't like the sound of it at all. He could handle the yelling and fighting as long as it led to eventually working things out, but it didn't appear that was likely to happen anytime soon. He took a deep breath and rubbed a hand across his forehead.
"We knew it wouldn't be easy."
He glanced over at her trying to lighten her mood with a warm smile but she just stared at the road.
"Sometimes, it sucks being right."
Jack watched her for a moment and then laid his head against his palm. His head still hurt and his addled mind was searching desperately for a solution. He wouldn't let it end like this, not like this. He'd find a way. His eyes fluttered as the drugs began to take hold and when he spoke the words were soft and slurred.
"There's always a way out, Captain." Then his eyes closed completely and he relaxed into the drug-induced sleep.
"Captain?" Sam repeated the word in surprise but he didn't answer and when she looked over, realized that he was sleeping. "Captain."
It was a statement this time, her mind already traveling back to Antarctica and Jack's insistence that they would get home, practically ordering her not to give up even though he knew they were hopelessly stranded. Then she cursed herself for starting this in the first place. He was hurting and probably not thinking very clearly and she was... Hot tears trickled down her cheeks and she wiped them quickly away, reaching across to stoke his arm.
"Jack, are you ok? We'll be home soon."
The drugs had really taken hold of him and the word was little more than a whisper. She glanced over every few seconds, checking on him, wondering how she was going to get him into the house alone. Finally, she picked up her cell phone and called Daniel.
Daniel answered on the second ring.
"Hi, Sam! What's going on?"
"I was wondering if you could meet me at the house, Daniel. And Teal'c, if he's with you."
"Uh, yeah. Sure. Is something wrong, Sam?"
"Jack banged his head and the doctor gave him some pain meds. He's completely out of it and I don't think I can get him inside alone."
"Jack? Here? Now?"
She chuckled softly. She'd thought the grapevine at the SGC would have reached him by now.
"Yeah. We're almost home though. Where are you?"
"Oh, we're at my apartment. We'll leave right now. Meet you there."
With both Teal'c and Daniel, it was no problem getting Jack inside. They took him to the bedroom, stretched him out on the bed and were barely breathing heavy from the effort.
"Thank, guys! I'm not sure I could've done that again."
"What you did it already?" Daniel asked her, puzzled. "When did he get here? And what happened?"
"He got here last night and went out jogging after I left this morning. Apparently, he stumbled or something and fell. Hit his head on the curb. When I got home he was unconscious and I took him back to the base to Dr. Summers."
"Jeez, only Jack!"
Sam chuckled again. "I know! Well, thanks for helping, we'll be fine now."
"You sure? We can stay."
"Thanks, Daniel, but you go ahead with your plans. He'll probably sleep until morning now."
"Ok. Well, just call if you need anything."
Sam nodded and looked down the hallway to see Teal'c already walking toward the kitchen. He bent down and picked up a shard of glass that he'd seen glistening in the light that was drifting into the hallway. Sam took a deep breath. She had hoped they wouldn't see the kitchen.
"Colonel Carter, there seems to be..."
Daniel walked around him and glanced into the kitchen, freezing in place with his mouth gaping open.
"Holy, crap! What happened, Sam? I thought you said Jack fell in the street?"
"He did, Daniel."
He looked back at her, completely surprised and only half believing, he waited for her to supply more information. She looked at Teal'c who was also staring in anticipation of her answer. She unconsciously furrowed her brow and pressed her lips together in thought before speaking.
"Jack spilled the coffee."
Then she just shrugged and smiled as if it happened everyday and hurried them out the door.
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