Eight Minutes
by Mexx

He catches her unawares. She's been shopping for a gift for her Maid of Honour when she feels his strong fingers wrap around her wrist, spinning her around slowly to meet his gaze. "Sam," he says, greeting her quietly. He doesn't release her wrist from his grasp. His face seems abnormally expressive. He's smiling, apparently openly, but there is something guarded in his eyes, something bitter. It's been almost four years since she has last seen him -- argued and screamed with him -- and she is confused by his sudden appearance.

"Jack, I..." she trails off, still unsure. With her free hand she self-consciously tucks a loose strand of now shoulder-length hair behind her ear; she's let it grow since the treaty with the Aschen had meant the end of her -- and every other officer's -- military career. She averts her vision, glancing around at the empty store, unwilling to look him in the eye for fear the memories of recriminations and hate from their last meeting would overwhelm her.

After a few moments, somewhat embarrassed by her own evasion, she looks up to meet his dark eyes and is unable to suppress a slight flinch at the intensity of his gaze. Struck by the dark passion in his eyes, Sam is unprepared to draw away from the lips that are slowly drawing toward hers, though when his lips don't cross hers, but instead brush her cheek, she's oddly disappointed. He draws away, and it was only now that Sam realises the hand holding her arm has slid down to her hand, meeting the engagement ring adorning her left ring finger.

"His name is Joe," she tells him stupidly. "He's an ambassador." He does not reply to this, but invites her back to his hotel room for coffee. Just coffee, he insists. He takes her by the hand and leads her out of the store. She follows dumbly. His presence, though welcome, is unnerving.


She notices the time as they enter his small hotel room. The clock blinks sixteen-hundred hours exactly. She tries to ignore his warm palm on the small of her back. Tries to forget the last time he'd touched her before today.

He offers the promised coffee from a tray she assumes is left over from breakfast, and she accepts it dutifully. She doesn't drink it -- can't help but remember the last time they drank coffee together, sitting outside a café in a little-known town on the outskirts of Minnesota. They'd held hands, kissed while waiting for the bill. She had so been sure they were in love and had every right to be after all the time they'd spent waiting for each other. Still, he'd never told her so. They were together six months in total, and not once did he verbally express his love for her. So, when he opens his mouth to voice his feelings, she is stunned.

"I'm sorry I left you. I wanted us to be together. I always did." He pauses for a moment. His voice is deliberately calm, controlled. This isn't like him; not at all like the man she'd known. "I still do."

Sam's coffee cup falls to the floor at his abrupt admission, splashing the carpet and the heels of her shoes with the hot liquid. Neither moves to clean it up, both choosing to remain silent. Sam sneaks a glance at her watch. The hands read three minutes after four.

Eventually he kneels before her as she sits on the edge of his bed. His brown eyes meet hers, silently begging her to answer him. She cannot help but comply.

"Why now Jack? Why tell me when I'm finally happy?" Her voice is quiet but her eyes are angry. She's more than angry - she's furious at him and just a little bit hurt.

"You wouldn't be angry at me now if you were actually happy," he replies acerbically. Her anger bubbles. She hates how well he knows her, even after four years of separation.

Her eyes widen, shocked and angry. "You bastard," she hisses, then stands, pushing past him and storming towards the door.

Jack stands, grabs her upper arm, and spins her around to face him. She's closer to him now, much more so than before. She can feel his breath on her face, smell the spicy scent of his aftershave. "So that's it?" he growls. "You're just gonna walk away from this?"

"I wasn't the one who walked away, Jack. You made your feelings perfectly clear when you left me!"

"For crying out loud Sam!" he barks and draws his other hand up to hold her left arm. In another time, it could have been the caress of a lover. "I'm not talking about the past. I'm talking about us..."

"In case you failed to notice, there is no ‘us'... there hasn't been since you were more concerned about your pride than me." She hiccups slightly, and has to bite back tears. She will not cry in front of him. Will not. She loves her fiancé and her job and her life without him.

He has no apparent answer for her harsh retort, but instead he leans a little closer to her, passion burning black in his eyes. He presses his mouth against her trembling lips and she does not stop him. His kiss swamps her like a tidal wave, and she cannot help but drown in it.

Despite the anger between them, his kiss is gentle, not an assault. His tongue brushing across her lips begs entrance, and she acquiesces, parting her lips to give his tongue permission. A throaty moan escapes her lips as they press against his. She has missed this. She allows his arms to encompass her softly, letting his embrace extend to her whole body. Her eyes close as she sinks into him, and the last thing she sees is the clock blinking eight minutes past the hour. She can't help momentarily thinking that they could only last eight minutes in each other's presence; she wonders now how they lasted four years.


Afterwards, they dress in silence. She watches him closely, unsure of where they now stand. He does nothing to reassure her, and she imagines that what they shared was not the beginning of a blissful relationship which he sought, but a goodbye to anything they had ever shared. She turns to leave the room, her fingers trembling as she turns the lock. She turns sharply around when he coughs, as if to say something. His mutter goes unheard, something under his breath, a farewell perhaps, possibly a declaration of anger or love...but Sam doesn't hear it.

Her attention returns to the door. She is shaking, but refuses to let her fear enter her voice. She bids him goodbye using his former rank.

He calls after her; "Sam-"

"Sir," she whispers softly, sadly. "Don't. It's better this way."

She opens the door and leaves, walks away from a past that promised a future and back into a life that promised peace and ease, but not the sweet fire that his touch held.


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