Written for a 60 Second Fanfic Challenge. Thank you, Margaret for the bunny, and thank you, Annie for the beta, and writing weekend.
It's what I do in the middle of the night. It's become a habit so ingrained, I doubt I'd be able to stop, even if I wanted to. It's not often these days, as crazy as my life has become, that I have the time to indulge in this, but it's like a balm to my soul, a comfort on raw nerves, whenever I experience the too often repeated agony of almost losing him.
The cabin is silent and warm. From the bed, I can see the dying embers of the fire in the living room, still smell the tantalizing aroma of roast beef, hear the light drumming of a final shower of rain as the storm passes over us. I can still taste the spice of the red wine we drank as I lay on the couch with him wrapped in my arms, taking solace in the solid feel of his drowsy weight against me.
I turn to my side, and trail a finger down his face, tracing the lines of weariness that etch his forehead, scouting the white gauze square taped over the gash on his cheek, feeling the heat of bruises on his flesh. I run my fingers through his cropped hair and he sighs and smiles a little in his sleep, and lifts one arm to rest over my hip.
The mesmerizing stroke of my fingers, his nearness, his very presence, should be enough to send me drifting off, but as so often in the past, the nightmare memories of today and all the times before ambush my slumber, my eyes snapping open and my heart thundering in my chest.
I'd almost been too late. My anger and disgust at myself for breaking my vow to never lose him again overwhelming me so much, Teal'c had to pull me bodily off his tormentors. If I'd had my way, I would have torn the bastards limb from limb.
He hadn't wanted to stay in the infirmary, and I was as relieved as he was when Frasier had announced he could go home, provided he had someone to watch over him. I'm damned sure, from the twinkle in her eyes, she knew who that someone would be. I just wanted to get him home and hold him close, reassure myself that this wasn't like the last time; that he wasn't leaving me again.
I lift his arm and rest it back at his side, waiting a moment when he shifts and murmurs something in his sleep. When I'm sure he's settled again, I sit up and quietly slip out of bed.
The rain has stopped now, leaving a heady scent of wet grass in its wake. The moon is finally peeking out from behind the dark clouds and I can easily find my way by its glow. I climb the ladder to the roof and stand for a moment, gazing up at the sky, relishing the absolute stillness in the air. The clouds are rolling away rapidly now, leaving a curtain of stars behind in their wake.
Sitting, I pull the telescope to me and fiddle for a moment to get the adjustments right. I don't know why gazing into space comforts me at times like this. Perhaps it's just the reminder of knowing where he once was, the reassurance of knowing he's now here with me. But I feel calm enveloping me, warmth replacing the chill in my bones, peace replacing the fear that threatened to overwhelm me.
"Jack? Little late for stargazing, isn't it?"
I can't stop the smile that creases my face at the welcome sound of his voice. "Never too late for stargazing," I say. "You coming up?"
He yawns. "Why not? I'm awake now, anyway."
I meet him halfway up the ladder, guiding his steps. He's still a little sleepy. No way I'm risking him falling after everything he's already been through today. I lead him over to the chair and gently push him down onto it. I guide his hands to the telescope, keeping mine cupped around his, leaning in so our faces touch. "What do you see?" I ask.
He's silent for a moment. Then he turns to face me and presses his lips to mine in a sweet, gentle kiss. "Our future."