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08 December 2009 @ 03:49 pm
SG-1 Fic: Another Chance  
Pairing: Sam Carter/Malcolm Barrett
Rating: Mature
Prompt: sg_rarepairings, Sam/Barrett, "trust and consequences"
Spoilers: Insiders
Summary: She couldn't let the Goa'uld steal her chance again.

"Start with Agent Barrett," Ba'al ordered one of the clones, who nodded once and started for the door.

For a moment, Sam froze. Time seemed to stretch, as though she were on the wrong side of a singularity event horizon. A terrible cold filled her body, and even her mind seemed sluggish.

If she said nothing, Ba'al would kill him. Malcolm was already hurt, shot with his own sidearm when he'd gone into the holding cell, and she didn't know how badly.

She didn't know what was going on with him, why he'd gone in there armed, but she'd never find out if Ba'al butchered him. Ba'al would do it. He'd start with Malcolm and move onto the others until she gave in or he ran out of hostages.

All she had to do was buy time. Landry would never let the clones out of the mountain, regardless of the hostages, including her. No matter what she did, the clones weren't going anywhere. All she had to do was wait for the guys to bust in here. Nobody had to die. Especially not Malcolm.

A brief flash of his face before her, intent and a bit hesitant, but still bold as he asked her out in the van when they'd first discovered there were Ba'al clones. She remembered how her heart had leaped, and her fingers had started to tremble, shocked by the confirmation of interest. So she'd said something lame to push it away, not wanting to face the question of whether she returned that interest or not. And then she remembered how she'd shut him down in the commissary when he'd tried to play on their friendship to get access.

Watching Ba'al walking away to murder him, she knew none of it had been entirely true. She couldn't let the Goa'uld take away another of her chances, not again.

"Wait!" she blurted.

Time snapped back into ordinary progression, and the Ba'al at the door paused.

She sighed a bit, resigned. "I'll do it."

The one near her, who seemed to be in charge, smirked with delight, and called the other back. She could breathe again, as she started to access the database as slowly as she could.

* * *

Sam entered the room, noting the hospital look of it, but also the sealed windows and the restraints tucked inconspicuously underneath the side of the bed. Luckily they weren't in use - but her heart clenched at the thought that they might have been necessary.

Malcolm was sitting on the bed, the back raised to make it a chair, with his bare feet stretched out while he read a paperback novel. He looked up to see her - and his face was a tangle of surprise and pleasure and then his eyes dropped away from hers. He dog-eared one of the pages and put the book aside, before he raised his gaze again, a smile fixed on his face. "Hi."

"Hi. May I?" she asked, indicating the chair and when he nodded, she pulled it next to the bed. "I came to see how you're doing."

She realized she'd never seen him out of his shirt and tie. The unbuttoned look was good on him - he was wearing grey sweatpants and a medical scrubs shirt. The shirt was loose but hinted at broader shoulders than she'd expected, and the white plastic i.d. bracelet seemed to draw attention to the play of tendons in his hands and fine muscles in his forearms.

He didn't have an i.v. or anything else attached to him, and she couldn't see any bandages. But his face was thinner than it had been two weeks ago, and the usually friendly eyes seemed wary and bruised. In her mind, she damned Ba'al again for damaging another of her friends. "I'm good," he answered, and she knew it was mostly a lie. "I got the all-clear," he added, without the relief or pleasure she would've expected. "Another few hours you would've missed me."

She smiled. "I heard, that's why I came. And you can return to work, I'm told?"

He shook his head. "No. I'm not going back."

He was making it sound like he was refusing, and that made no sense. "Why not?"

"Why?" he repeated, eyebrows up, looking at her as if she'd gone crazy. "Because I got brain-washed by a Goa'uld. And whatever they say, I can't trust there's not more bombs in here waiting to go off." He touched his hair, and shook his head with a grim look of resolution. "I don't want to be his tool again. So I'm going to transfer out of NID and back to Central. They always need analysts who know Arabic. "

The thought of him stuck in a cubicle in Langley analyzing Al Qaeda transmissions made her sad. "But they wouldn't have given you clearance to return unless they were sure...."

He interrupted. "They can't know. Not for sure. And I can't do any more damage to the program, if I'm not involved."

"You didn't do any damage," she objected.

"I let him out of his cell," he protested. "I helped him -- all of them -- escape."

It hurt to think of him suffering guilt over what had happened. He had done so much to help the fight against the Goa'uld and headed the cleanup of NID. He'd been what seemed like the only good guy in the entire organization, and it killed her to think he was going to sideline himself over something he couldn't have prevented. "I gave him the file he wanted. We both helped, and you had a lot less choice in it than I did. So don't beat yourself up over it; it wasn't your fault."

He shook his head in denial of her words. "No, it was." He paused and shut his eyes tightly, fingers clutching at the sheets all bunched beneath his legs. "He phoned me for a meeting. Said he wanted to give himself up."

"And you believed that?" she tried not to sound as incredulous as she felt. Malcolm couldn't have been that naive...

"No, of course not," he protested, "but I wanted to hear what he had to say. At the very least it was proof there was one still on Earth. So I followed a drop to a Starbucks in Falls Church. As far as I remember, I walked through the door, got a latte, waited two hours for him to show or for more instructions, and then went home. We figure that's when he got me, but I still don't remember even seeing him that day. I never told anyone about the meeting. All of this could've been prevented if I hadn't been so secretive and stupid and gotten myself checked out afterward."

"Malcolm, you didn't get yourself checked out, because he told you not to. Besides, I doubt they'd have found anything anyway." She sighed and shook her head. "Look, I thought there was no way he could leave the SGC. We both underestimated him. Ba'al didn't get to be a system lord because he's an idiot. He won this round, that's all." She laid her fingers over the back of his hand. "Remember how you told me it's a war down here, same as it's a war out there? You were right. And if you leave the fight, he wins again."

His eyes flicked downward, at their hands, and then he pulled his out from under hers. His gaze fixed somewhere around her chin as he said, "He already won it. I can't fight when I can't even trust myself not to do whatever he wants. But thanks for trying."

She bit her lip, casting for the right words to convince him. "I don't think he expected you to survive the operation. He wanted your help, of course, but mostly I think he wanted you out of his way. You've been such a threat to him -- running the Trust to the ground, pursuing his clones, interfering in his operations.... So he went after you. You were supposed to get taken out, one way or another, during his escape."

He still looked resistant and stubborn, and she realized he didn't know. "He was going to kill you," she murmured, remembering how close it had been. "When he was trying to get me to give him the password, he said you were going to be the first hostage executed. I knew he would do it -- mercy isn't a word he knows, so I couldn't..." she had to swallow to find her voice, "I couldn't let him. I couldn't watch it happen again."

She'd watched Martouf die in her arms, another helpless victim of Goa'uld brainwashing and evil. The Goa'uld had stolen him from her, before she'd even had a chance to figure out what she felt.

Malcolm's gaze rose to hers, his own wondering and hopeful and suddenly alive for the first time since she'd walked in the room. "Sam?"

She cleared her throat, finding she was suddenly nervous, but resolute, too. If this didn't work out, at least it wouldn't be because she was too scared to try.

"Remember what I said last year? It wasn't true. It's still not true. There's nobody else. I just wasn't ready to try again. But after you nearly got killed, I don't know.... I'm tired of waiting until it's too late. I don't want that to happen again. If you still... you're still... I mean... if you want to. We could maybe go out...?" she trailed off into uncertainty. She was half- hoping he would do to her what she'd done to him and say he'd moved on, because this was hard, and she could hardly believe she was doing it.

"Really?" He frowned a little, and her stomach fluttered, before he shook his head, smiling ruefully. "If I'd known getting brainwashed and almost killed by a Goa'uld would get you to say yes, I would've tried it a long time ago."

She chuckled, pleasantly surprised by his joke. "But I didn't know you as well, so it wouldn't have worked."

"Good point. Well, for all that it was awful, I think I might count this whole experience as a win if I get a chance to know you a little better," he answered, and his eyes were bright and smiling. It changed him from the handsome, if somewhat ordinary and professional, man she was familiar with, into someone she suddenly couldn't take her eyes from. She found she was smiling back at him, and his delight was infectious.

He added, "I know Sam Carter the scientist and action hero, but not the woman, and that's the part that intrigues me."

Flattered and pleased, she retorted lightly, "I know Malcolm Barrett, super spook, but nothing about who you are when you're not running around after bad guys." Which wasn't exactly true -- she knew a lot about his personal character from his actions -- but it was true they knew very little personal about each other. "So, let's start. I have a dad -- you know about him -- and becoming an alien was the best thing that happened to our relationship; a brother named Mark, and my mom passed away a long time ago. Blue Jell-O is my favorite dessert. I play a mean game of pool. And I alphabetize my books," she told him, expecting him to roll his eyes.

She didn't expect him to nod and ask, "By author or title?"

"Author, of course."

He frowned and shook his head. "I classify my books by topic. Only fiction gets arranged by author. My parents are both alive, both married to other people, and I have two sisters. They all think I should've gone into investment banking like my father. I wear a suit, not a uniform, but somehow that doesn't mollify them, when I carry a gun, too." He said it lightly, but she sensed a bit of hurt there, that they didn't understand. He went on, "My nephew thinks I'm very cool, though. Let's see... I don't eat Jell-O - it's like eating springy Kool Aid," he wrinkled his nose in distaste. "I'm mediocre at pool, but I have been known to play my Xbox for several hours straight." He froze then frowned ruefully. "Did I just make myself into too much of a geek?"

She shook her head at him, definitely amused. "That's okay. I won't hold it against you. Why the guys I know play video games when our real lives are already shoot 'em ups, I don't know. But I watch bad sci-fi movies, so I can't throw stones."

"What about Wormhole X-Treme?" he joked.

She made a face, and then admitted after a second, "I sent a postcard to the studio to try to save it. And not for plausible deniability, either."

He burst into laughter. At first she thought he was laughing at her, until he gasped out, "Me, too. Oh, God, me, too. I bought the DVD set and whenever I’m grumpy, I put it in. It makes me laugh and laugh. I love it." He calmed and added, with twinkling eyes, "I still go to the Stacy Monroe forum once in a while. I liked her the best."

"Funny, me, too," she answered, smiling back. "I think they should've done a spin-off with just her."

"Oh, I'd watch that," he agreed and leaned forward. "But don't you think she might need a dashing and mysterious covert agent to help her?"

She couldn't stop grinning, enjoying the flirting. "Of course. He'd be handsome, too," she agreed and chuckled when he pretended to buff his nails on his shirt. "And together," she deepened her voice to appropriate Movie Trailer Voiceover range, "they'd fight crime."

He snickered. "And alien invaders with bad fashion sense."

"Or little grey guys with no fashion at all," she added and they both laughed.

She couldn't leave it there, either. Now that they were this far, there was one more thing she wanted to know about him, right now. She went on, quietly, "On the show they'll have this big unresolved tension until he almost gets killed and she realizes what an idiot she's been. And she leans in ..." and that was exactly what she did, murmuring, "... and they're almost going to kiss…"

"If an alien beams her up, I'm gonna be pissed," he muttered, breath feathering across her lips.

She laughed, and she realized she was hesitating, half-expecting the Asgard to interrupt.

But then his mouth was touching hers, and when he tried to pull back after a light brush, she wasn't done. She opened her mouth to his, easing closer, as an electric tingle rushed across her skin to the tips of her fingers and deep in her middle.

His hand went through her hair to hold her to him, deepening the kiss. She pushed closer, needing a hand on the mattress to brace herself up, and sought to learn his taste. The other hand fell on his shoulder, fingers brushing the heat of his skin at the base of his neck.

A sudden clatter in the hall jolted them both and they sprang apart, staring at each other, breathing ragged.

Then they laughed.

"Maybe we should try that again in a more private place," she suggested, settling back into the chair reluctantly. The room had a door -- she could shut it, and go back to where they left off...

He nodded, looking disappointed. "Definitely. And since I can see you're thinking what I'm thinking, I have to tell you a nurse is due any minute. This place has an unholy obsession with my blood pressure, for some reason. But as soon as I'm out of here, dinner?"

"I'd like that. I'm sure you're sick of the food here."

"Food?" he repeated with an incredulous face. "I don't think I've seen any of that. Evil aliens are murdering innocent vegetables in the kitchen and replacing them with badly made duplicates, I'm sure of it."

She snickered and patted his hand. "Poor thing, you can investigate it later. Come to my place; I have steaks and a grill to put them on." He hesitated, surprise flashing through his face, and she knew it was because she was moving so quickly, inviting him to her house. "Malcolm, you're already my friend," she reminded him. "And we can't talk about work in public. This way we can talk and eat good food. I have wine and beer," she added, coaxing. "We're both off duty, and how often does that happen?"

"True." Then he smiled. "Sold!"

"Good." She stood up. "I'll see you around five."

"Wait, Sam!" he called as she got to the door. "I don't know your address."

She grinned at him. "Come on. You have everyone from the president to shady arms dealers on speed dial, and you can't find out where I live? If you give up, you can always call me, and I'll give you directions." Laughing, she slipped out the door.

* * *

It was five o'clock on the dot when the black sedan pulled up to the curb, and she watched through her window as Malcolm got out.

She shook her head, amused. He'd put on a suit - he probably didn't have anything else to wear. Between the black suit, the sunglasses, and the dark sedan, he couldn't have been more obviously a federal agent. The only thing to spoil the Men in Black image was the bouquet of purple irises in his hand.

She went out to meet him as he started up the walk. "I see you found the place."

"I did," his expression looked smug and she wondered just what he'd done to find it. He didn't say, though. He held out the flowers. "These are for you."

"They're lovely. Come in. Have a look around," she invited, bringing him inside.

By the time they brought the steaks inside, she'd managed to get Malcolm out of his jacket and tie, and his collar was open and he'd rolled up his sleeves to help with the salad. She decided Casual Barrett was a look she liked more than was probably reasonable.

She poured the wine and toasted, joking, "To Ba'al, without whom we wouldn't be together here today."

He frowned, but lifted his glass, "And who will, with any luck, be removed from the galaxy ASAP."

"I'll drink to that." They touched glasses with a soft clink. "Speaking of, please tell me you're going back to NID?"

"I am," he answered. She let out a breath of relief that he'd changed his mind. He ate a bit of the steak and explained, "I thought about it, and you're right. I won't let him chase me out of the game. Plus, I like what I do. I think it's valuable and I hate leaving the job undone. Those little bastards are still out there, and I intend to stomp them out." He declared, getting that look of utter conviction on his face she recognized. It was the determined expression he'd had when he'd been all but alone in taking down the rotten core of NID. Then his lip twisted into a rueful smile, and he added, "Not to mention, it'd be hard to be out of the loop on what's really going on out there."

She nodded thoughtfully. "That's true. After knowing what we know, I couldn't go back to pretending it didn't exist, either. But I have to say, I'm glad to have someone I trust at NID, that's for sure."

After dinner, sitting on the couch, they watched the news. Or really, Malcolm watched the news, and Sam watched him. He watched CNN like it was part of his job, analyzing what he heard. He paid special attention to a report of a murder in San Jose, frowning, even though she didn't see anything there that seemed unusual. "What is it?" she asked.

"Alan Crispin, the victim, was CEO of Zytech Metals, a contractor on the 303 project. Let me make sure they know at the office." He snagged his phone off the coffee table and starting texting a message.

She lifted her brows, feeling a little impressed he'd known that, when all they'd mentioned on the news was the name and location. "You remember that?"

"After Ba'al moved into Farrow Marshall and Hammel, I made sure I knew about all the main contractors," he explained absently, typing. Then he pressed 'send' and put the phone down. "There. A team will have to do document containment, and maybe take over the investigation, depending on what's going on."

"And this was the man who was going back to Langley," she teased.

He chuckled. "Yeah, that didn't last long, did it?"

"Nope." She moved closer, until her leg was against his. She knew it was up to her to make the first move -- Malcolm had been scrupulously following her lead in keeping the evening to talk. But now her head was buzzing a bit with the wine, and she didn't want to leave it at talk. She'd invited him after that kiss with intentions and she intended to carry them out.

"And I'm glad," she added, after another drink of wine and a little bit of recklessness, "because if you were there, I wouldn't see you."

His smile broadened. "The thought did cross my mind."

"Good," she murmured and leaned forward slowly. "This is a private place. And I think we've got a lot of time to make up."

The first touch of his lips made her shiver, especially when he lost his hesitancy, pulling her against him, making them both fall back in her couch. She sank into his kiss, and her fingers went to the buttons of his shirt, barely restraining herself long enough to get it all open to put her hands on his chest. "Never knew dress shirts were so damn appealing," she muttered, pushing the shirt off his shoulders. For someone without military training, he kept himself in shape, and her fingers sought the muscle of his shoulders hungrily.

She was practically on his lap, which left the top of her chest at the right height for his mouth, as his hands slipped under her shirt, warm on her waist. "Sam, you're so beautiful," he murmured, lips drawing a heated path down her neck.

He had big hands and agile fingers, taking off her bra without a pause, and he touched her with the expected thoroughness and attention. When his mouth closed on her right breast, she threw her head back, glorying in the feeling. But nearly gave herself a concussion on the hard wood of the couch arm.


He lifted his head. "Are you okay?"

"Fine," she said, sorry she'd broken the mood. "Mind if we go to the bed?"

"Not at all. I like mattresses," he agreed and pulled his leg out from under hers so they could stand. He pulled off his socks as they stood there, and they were both dressed only in underwear. She thought for a moment that he might try to tidy up their discarded clothes, but he left them, letting his gaze rise up her legs and slowly up to her breasts, and eventually to her face.

She warmed herself in the admiration and hunger, as he looked at her, and she returned the admiration, gaze slipping down his chest. Smiling mischievously, she tucked a finger beneath the waistband of his boxers and tugged. "This way."

"Mm, two of my favorite things all rolled together," he murmured, padding along after her willingly.

She couldn't not ask. "Oh?"

"A mostly naked woman leading me to her bed to have her wicked way with me," he answered, grinning.

"Damn right." She smirked back and then frowned at him, confused, "Was that one or two?"

He laughed and pulled her into his body. "You, Sam. You're the other." His mouth sought hers again and her hands wrapped around his back. She loved the feel of her breasts against his chest, and feeling the heat of his body. And how his mouth was perfectly the right height for them to kiss.

They had to start over in the bed, but that just made it better. They could take their time in comfort and playful experimentation.

After the final heat rushed through her, she cuddled up to his shoulder, and listened to him breathe. "Thank you," she murmured. "I'm sorry we didn't do this before."

"Me, too. But I'm glad you relented. Tonight was even better than I ever hoped -- not the sex, though that was good," he added hastily, "but the rest of it, too."

"Yeah," she agreed. In some ways the rest of it had been even better -- sharing and laughter, and feeling that she could be totally and utterly herself. "You're staying, right?"

"You'd have to use a zat to pry me away." His arm tightened around her, and he pulled the sheet over them with his free hand. "I could make pancakes in the morning, if you like. Two summers of working the griddle in college -- I make good pancakes," he offered in a sleepy murmur.

"Mm, homemade pancakes. I knew you had hidden talents, but that beats the rest," she said. His fingers trailed slowly up the outside of her thigh to her hip, and even though she was all worn out from before, her skin tingled. She smiled and corrected, "Almost."

He turned his head to kiss her lightly and yawned.

The house and city beyond were quiet, and it seemed they were inside some kind of time bubble, isolated from the rest of the universe. But instead of seeking a way out, she wanted to stay in this moment, wrapped in the peace and contentment flowing between them.

The moment wouldn't last forever; it might not even last the hour, if the SGC called. He was going to have to go back to Washington. But he would visit, and she could visit him. With beaming technology no place on Earth was that far away. If they were determined -- and she'd already learned that Malcolm had few peers when it came to persistence and sneakiness -- they could get this feeling back again.

the end.

one more fic to go this month. phew! Hope you enjoyed.
LikeCheapWine: ∞ cat + dog = ♥liz_love on December 9th, 2009 12:46 am (UTC)

Brilliantly written. Spot on for the characters!
lizardbeth: Samlizardbeth_j on December 9th, 2009 08:05 am (UTC)
thank you! it was fun to write.
Merry F: samivanolix on December 9th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC)
*glee* I miss Barrett so much--this was gorgeously fun.

"I sent a postcard to the studio to try to save it. And not for plausible deniability, either."
He burst into laughter. At first she thought he was laughing at her, until he gasped out, "Me, too. Oh, God, me, too.

LOL! This is so them!
lizardbeth: Sam-Maleklizardbeth_j on December 9th, 2009 08:04 am (UTC)
Barrett! I know. And since they met over Wormhole X-Treme, it seemed fitting that they'd actually both secretly be fans. I bet there was great celebratory nookie when they heard about the movie!


gyl929 on December 12th, 2009 07:21 pm (UTC)
Hi from your not-sock puppet - I'm amazed I actually remembered my log on.

Loved the story! Agent Barrett was always a great character with his crush on Sam, although Martouf is probably still my favorite pairing for Sam.

This bit made me laugh -
"Food?" he repeated with an incredulous face. "I don't think I've seen any of that. Evil aliens are murdering innocent vegetables in the kitchen and replacing them with badly made duplicates, I'm sure of it."
lizardbeth: Sam-Barrettlizardbeth_j on December 12th, 2009 10:56 pm (UTC)
*snicker* It's a very strange feeling to have one's sock puppet talk back! ;P

Thanks! Admittedly, I'm all for Sam/Martouf too, but I'd rather Barrett than Pete as a canon love interest (though then I guess it would've ended just as badly, so maybe it's better to have it in fic..) I like to imagine that this happened, though - there's nothing that prevents it from Insiders forward (even if I know they're implying Jack). SO THERE, PTB. :)
amathela on December 13th, 2009 07:15 am (UTC)
Barrett! This is totally my secret Stargate OTP - I'm so glad you wrote it, this was awesome :D
bailey1akbailey1ak on May 24th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
Loved it
lizardbeth: Sam-Barrettlizardbeth_j on May 24th, 2010 05:20 pm (UTC)
thanks! :)