Learning to Live With It Part 15
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).
Title: Learning to Live With It Part 15
Author: Su Freund
Category: Angst, Drama, Action/Adventure, Romance
Content Level: Age 13+. There is an Adult Only version of this fic on my site at: http://www.ficwithfins.com/AA3_1/archive/2/learningto16.html
Content Warnings: Minor use of mild language and sexual situations
Pairings: Jack & Sam
Spoilers: General S9 spoilers
Summary: Jack struggles with Sam's confession and his conflicted emotions
Sequel/Series Info: Sequel to Learning to Live With It Part 14
Copyright (c) 2006 Su Freund
Art Credit: The simply gorgeous photo manipulation of Jack that illustrates the fic on my site was created by grooni, so many thanks to her for letting me use it to illustrate this fic. The manipulation was made into the book cover by Fulinn28 who did a wonderful job of it and didn't want to spoil it by adding any words. You can drool over the pic here: http://www.ficwithfins.com/AA3_1/archive/2/learningto15.html
Author's Note: Many thanks to Bonnie for beta reading this fic and her very helpful suggestions on ways to improve it. This part is dedicated to her for encouraging me to expand on the shower scene I wrote originally and write the small scene that now appears in the adult only version of this story.
"So help me out here, Sam," he said eventually, in an even tone that belied his conflicted feelings, "what exactly are you trying to say to me? What do you want from me?"
"I want you to give us another chance, Jack."
He stared at her open mouthed and speechless. Another chance? He wasn't sure that would ever be possible. Sam saw that thought in his eyes and some of her hope died. She didn't know what to do now except throw herself on his mercy and beg. Her stomach churned as she waited for a verbal response, wishing she might find some hope it that.
Learning to Live With It Part 15
"What? Are you nuts? I can't let you in. Not anymore. I don't think I'm capable," Jack eventually replied, his mind a tumultuous mess of thoughts and feelings. He started to pace, not even looking at Sam, who summoned what little strength she had left to continue her fight, remembering Jon's advice to keep at it.
"You always were so good at building defences Jack. I really hoped I could find a chink in there somewhere. I so much wanted... wanted to try."
"It's funny, but I always figured you for being good at building defences too," he replied, glancing at her briefly.
"We were both too good at it."
"I'm willing to let them down. I want to let them down, Jack, with you. God, isn't that what I've been doing? Don't look at me like that!" He'd stopped pacing and was staring at her, his expression cold and disdainful, and she wondered how much of a front it was. "Do you think it's easy for me to come here and tell you all this? I have my pride too, you know. I just figured you were worth setting that aside for.
"I needed you to know how I feel. I needed you to know that I left you not because of you, or something you did wrong, but because of me, or mainly because of me. I felt like a child with you and I needed to feel like a grown up. I wasn't grown up enough to have a relationship with a man like you. All I'm saying is that, now, maybe I am and I wish you'd give me the chance to prove it."
"A man like me? What the hell are you talking about Sam? I'm just a man, plain and simple, flesh and blood with feelings." He had turned his gaze away and was on the move again, unceasing movement, and Sam was finding it frustrating, as she wanted to see his eyes, the expression on his face.
"You might like to think that Jack but it simply isn't true. Yes you are flesh and blood with feelings, but plain and simple you most definitely are not. Why are you such a difficult man to get through to? What more can I do? How much more of myself do I have to expose to you Jack? Do I have to beg and plead? Do I have to humble myself before you more than I have already?"
As she spoke Sam stood up to block his pacing, needing to make him look at her, and he did. Jack found himself captured by her eyes, feeling somewhat helpless to resist that thrall and unhappy about the fact.
"Dammit, Jack, I love you so very much," she declared. "I wish you could believe that one simple truth. I'm not sure how much fight I've got left in me." She sighed, scrubbing a hand through her hair in frustration, "Answer me this one thing... can you honestly look me in the eye and say you don't love me?"
He didn't respond but his lack of response answered her question; the look in his eyes said it all for him.
"No, I didn't think so," she continued, "I suspected you did from the moment you took me into your arms when you discovered I was still alive. Jack, if I broke you, at least give me the chance to try and fix you. I was always pretty good at fixing things, although maybe not so much with people. Yeah... maybe not..."
She sighed, tailing off and thinking about that. What if she couldn't fix him? What if he was too broken to mend? She was good with things, inanimate objects, but people? Suddenly she felt a little daunted with the prospect. Not that it looked like Jack was going to give her that chance, but she didn't want to make things worse. He didn't deserve for that to happen.
"Maybe you're right, maybe you are better off without me in your life," she said.
"I never said that, although these last few weeks haven't been easy for me," Jack confessed, taking Sam by surprise. "But when I thought you were dead and would never be in my life again, I felt that loss... that was real hard. That doesn't mean that I can deal with you being in my life in the way you're suggesting. I'm not sure I'm ready for that and I'm not sure I want it either."
Not want it? In desperation, Sam reached out to softly stroke his cheek but he recoiled.
"Don't do that, please. It isn't fair."
"Why do I have to play fair Jack? You aren't going to get rid of my that easily."
"You need to give me time to think."
She wondered whether she was breaking him down, convincing him. Could he be convinced? Could he open himself up to her?
"Sometimes you can be so cold, so difficult to deal with and communicate with," she said.
"You could freeze boiling water in seconds."
"Nice imagery," he said with an acidic tone.
"You freeze people out Jack: me, Daniel, Teal'c; you always have. I know you want to protect yourself but it hurts us. You aren't an easy man to be friends with, so how to get beyond friends to something more than that? That's a secret I'd pay a lot of money for."
Jack said nothing, merely looking at her with a carefully schooled blankness.
"I guess if you could never trust me again, this whole idea is pointless anyway," she said, willing to try anything so deciding on a different tack. She had to carry on because she believed she was making progress.
"Trust you? Sam I would trust you with my life..."
"But not your heart, huh?"
"If I'm totally honest, I don't know the answer to that."
"Is that a chink I see? Half an hour ago I suspect you would have given a different answer."
"Maybe. You've confused the hell out of me. You always were good at that."
"Are you confused because you never realised how I felt before now? When you thought I was cold and heartless it made things simpler for you? Believe me, I wish I'd been capable of having this conversation with you months ago, but I wasn't. I never wanted to hurt you. I know I did, and if I could have done things differently I would have, but it's too late for that now. It's not the way things happened. All I can do now is look forward, not back. How about you?"
She was right, it had made things simpler when he had believed things were different to this reality she painted. Jack had always respected Sam highly and had lost some of that when they broke up so badly, but now she had risen in his estimation again. He admired her for being so honest and open and wished he could be like that.
"I don't know, Sam. I told you, I need time to think," he declared and she could see the confusion in his face, and was thinking that maybe it was better than the deliberate chilliness she'd detected earlier.
"I guess I should feel lucky that you haven't already thrown me out on my ear without even listening."
"I owe you that. We were friends for a lot of years."
"Were friends?" Sam felt a lump in her throat and could no longer look at him, scared of what she might see, so she lowered her gaze to the floor. The pair stood frozen, like a tableau. "I hope we're still friends," she whispered, upset by the notion that she might lose that altogether after recent events had seemed to bring them closer together again.
"It isn't that easy."
"I couldn't bear to lose you as a friend. How can I live with that?" she asked, looking up at him, and Jack saw tears prick at her eyes and her effort to maintain self-control.
"I lost too much when I let you go, Jack, way too much. I never realised quite how much. I've been so stupid. I always was dumb for such a smart ass." A couple of wayward tears strayed down her cheeks as she tried to keep herself in check. "I should leave you alone and give you that time to think. You've seen me cry too much already recently."
Her sobbing increased and Jack couldn't stop himself from reaching out to her. He had never been able to bear to see her in pain. She let him enfold her in his arms, although his sympathy only made her feel worse.
"I can't let you leave in this state. What sort man would that make me?"
He hugged her in silence, and she also said nothing, simply drew strength from his embrace as she had done on the few occasions in the past when he had been there for her in this way. When Jack realised she'd stopped sobbing, he pulled away, and she felt empty.
"I'm sorry," she said sitting down again, and Jack followed her example, perching uncomfortably on the edge of a chair, watching her warily.
"For what in particular?"
"Screwing with your life."
He said nothing in response and Sam wasn't sure if she was getting through to him or not. Although he had held her in comfort, he had withdrawn pretty quickly too. His eyes seemed to be boring into the depths of her soul and it was a discomfiting feeling. She had to keep trying, just like Jon had told her to, and her heart backed that up. She felt she was way closer to breaking him down than when she'd arrived, so now wasn't the time to give up.
"You know something Jack?" she said, changing tactics again, "You are one of the most fascinating and sexiest men I have ever met in my whole life. It always thrilled and exhilarated me but also terrified me."
Jack looked dumbfounded by that declaration and she continued, remembering a small incident from her past with him. The soft smile that appeared on her face at the memory entranced him, as did her words.
"This is such a dumb story, but screw it, what have I got to lose? I remember one time walking through the briefing room to your office and I stopped to watch through the glass. You were licking an envelope and, my god was it hot! And I mean really hot! My stomach quivered, my knees turned to jello and I started having lewd thoughts about you. If I close my eyes and picture it. God, it's still hot. Licking a damned envelope! How could that be so-so...? Folks would think I was crazy, I guess." She tailed off, starting to feel foolish and wishing she hadn't related that memory to him.
"You are crazy," he snorted, more than a little surprised by her story. Fascinating? Sexy? It wasn't how Jack pictured himself. Was this really how Sam saw him? He so needed someone, her, to think that about him; to believe in him, love and cherish him and keep him safe and warm in his heart and soul. He was so empty: barren and desolate.
How could he reject something that could change all of that? He didn't know how, but knew that he needed to. Unable to comprehend her words, or his feelings about them, he needed time to think and take control of his feelings. At the moment he was too confused and shaken to think straight.
"No. It isn't crazy. It's just that you find it hard to believe it about yourself, Jack, just as I could never understand what you saw in me."
Jack stared at her open mouthed, momentarily too taken aback to respond.
"What I saw in you? Sam, you are the brightest, the most beautiful... Crap!"
He could feel himself falling again, beguiled by her, lulled into letting his guard down. He was finding it almost impossible to keep his hands off her. A simple touch, it didn't have to be anything much, not even a kiss, it could be brushing her arm, her cheek, running his hands through her hair, or squeezing her hand. It could be any one of a number of small things. Just to feel her warmth and bask in that luxury. Emotions were overwhelming him and he didn't like it. He wanted to be in control. He had to be. It was all he had left.
He was so engrossed in those thoughts that when she moved closer and touched him, as if she read his mind, something akin to an electric shock coursed through his body and he gasped, and then gave a small strangled cry before pulling himself together.
"Don't, please!" he begged, unable to look her in the eye.
Sam sighed, withdrawing her touch and cursing herself for trying again too soon. He had already given her more than she could have wished for, especially considering this was Jack O'Neill she was dealing with, yet she was eager for more.
"I-I guess I hoped we were getting somewhere," she said, and if he had looked at her he would have seen an overwhelming look of sadness and loss on her face.
Jack, however, wouldn't look because it might be his undoing, one way or another. He wanted to scream, swear and throw things at her; he could have slapped her, but he had never raised a finger to Sam, or any woman, in anger, and he fought with himself to control it because he never wanted to. He wasn't that man and did not want to become him.
At the same time he wanted to take her in his arms, hold, caress and kiss her and, dammit, make love to her. More than that, he wanted her to do all of those things to him. His thoughts and feelings were tearing him apart and he so did not want to lose it. To distract himself, he got up again and walked over to the other side of the room, needing to get away from her, overpowering emotions flooding through him.
Sam thought about what Jon had said about not giving up, about showing how she felt. She had seen the conflict written so clearly in Jack's face, and recalled Jon had told her to use that conflict to her advantage, so she did.
She got up, walking over to Jack, taking him into her arms, lifting her face to his, touching his cheek, and kissing him. Jack wanted to stop her, wanted to kiss her, stop her, kiss her. The kiss won. Warm tender lips pressed against his and her tongue sought entrance to his mouth. She explored his teeth, gums, tongue.
The feel of her made him tremble, heating his groin, setting his heart racing and stomach flipping, all combining to make him dizzy. He grasped the back of her head, holding her hair, his other hand pressed against her back, pulling her as close as possible. His tongue fought back, explored back, giving as good as it received.
When they stopped he was breathless, wanting more, wanting to push her away, wanting to seduce her, wanting to open the door and toss her out. She was going to drive him crazy and he didn't know what to do.
"Did you feel that here, Jack?" she asked, indicating her heart and stomach.
"Yes," he admitted, his voice a low whisper.
He still felt it. It was almost overwhelming and he had to fight himself for control. That kiss had held so much more than the few kisses they had exchanged while dating. It promised passion and love, which were two things he sorely needed in his life.
He was still holding her, hair between his fingers, arm around her back. He was horny, so horny. God, he wanted, he needed, he desired: sexual arousal, desperation, tension, frustration, lust. He wanted to take her right there: rip off her clothing piece by piece, caress her, devour her, assault her, screw her so hard that it hurt them both, until they couldn't walk and they were incapable of doing anything more to each other.
Sam was studying his eyes, unmoving, not daring to, unsure of what he would do and not wanting to stop him from doing whatever those darkening orbs implied. She sensed the danger and was silently begging him to do his worst: take her, break her, do what he wished with her; use her, abuse her, teach her a lesson, have his revenge.
She could smell his desire and it smelled good. His breath was hard and heavy and filled with lust. She wanted him so much in that moment that she could almost taste it, and she believed she would get him so, when he loosed his grip and backed off, her sense of loss ripped at her heart and soul, tearing them asunder.
"You really want to let all of that go?" she asked, her voice cracked with emotion
"No, I don't, but..." he shrugged helplessly, more confused than ever. "I want you to leave Sam. Please go, before I do something we'll both regret."
"No! No more words. I've had it up to here with words. Believe me, you do not want to be here if I lose control." Again, the dangerous undercurrent, the threat.
"I want you to lose control."
"No, you don't," he warned, his eyes ablaze with something she didn't recognise in him, "Please go."
Sam turned away and picked up her stuff, opening her purse, scrawling something on a piece of paper and handing it to him, and then she left without another word. After she'd gone, Jack leaned his head against the wall, trying to bring himself under control. Looking at the piece of paper she'd squeezed into his hand, he realised it was her hotel, and room number. She'd written, "If you change your mind, I'll be here for the weekend. Please change your mind Jack. Love Sam."
He scrunched it into a ball and threw it as far away as he could and then, striding angrily to the kitchen, he removed a couple of plates from the cupboard and smashed them on the floor. Knowing it probably wouldn't make him feel any better even if he tore the whole kitchen apart, he changed into sweats and sneakers, leaving the apartment for a run.
He ran, and ran some more, and then ran even more, running himself to exhaustion. After resting a while, he started the run back home, pounding the pavement, legs heavy, knowing he had overextended himself and when he finally reached home he was almost done for, but stripped off and got into the shower. Hot, hot water, scrubbing every inch, feeling himself, arousing himself, and satisfying himself, all the time thinking of Sam.
Gasping with a strange mixture of satisfaction and frustration that this was merely a fantasy, Jack moaned and slipped down the wall, placing his head in his hands, cursing himself as a fool and letting the water stream over his despair. Jack wished it could truly cleanse him, but he was way too soiled to feel wholly clean. If he was a man given to crying, he might have done that now but instead, he attempted to pull himself together, trying not to think about anything at all except crawling out of the shower and drying off.
Of course Jack couldn't stop thinking, over and over, thoughts jumbled and dark, and he threw himself onto his bed in frustration, sitting curled up and hugging his knees in contemplation. However much he tried, he couldn't get her out of his mind. He could smell her, feel her: lips on his, hands on his body, driving him wild with desire.
She was touching him just there, kissing him right here, licking him somewhere else. She was on top of him, riding him, beating him, forcing him to surrender. The bed was soaked with his sweat and he got up to pace. It seemed he couldn't sufficiently wear himself out. What did a man need to do, for crying out loud? How much of this could he take?
Somewhere in the recesses of his mind he remembered her hotel name, her room number, and so nearly got dressed to drive over there, beat down her door and take her; make her his. He wanted, he so wanted... but in the end, he denied himself. He denied his love and his lust; he denied everything, eventually getting back into bed and falling into a tormented and fitful sleep.
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