Original story: Threadbare by vickyocean, which set Sam and Jack in the old west in the late 1800s when the Goa'uld invade
Ratings/Warnings: PG / violence described but not in detail
Notes: With thanks to thekatebeyond, audrich, ssmith_12 and two non-eljay friends for beta (it was a group effort!).
Summary: Vicky's story was written from Sam's POV, and mine is from Jack's perspective. On his way back to a deserted Colorado Springs in search of supplies to see the two of them through the winter, Jack remembers the day the Goa'uld invaded and he saved Sam's life.
“Walk on, Jonah,” Jack pressed his spurless heels into old Jonah’s ribs to get the horse to move forward into the cold creek they had to cross to get back to town. He had named the horse aptly, because just like the Biblical prophet, he rarely wanted to go where he was told.
Jack wanted to reach the town before dark if possible. He had no idea whether he’d find anyone there or not, but he preferred to watch from a distance for a while before closing in on his objective, scavenging some supplies from the deserted mercantile. In that sense, his military training served him well. That he and Samantha had evaded capture or death thus far attested to the thoroughness of his West Point training and his distinction in combat. And Samantha’s atypical upbringing by a single father - a military man, no less – who taught his daughter to ride and shoot well, didn’t hurt. If her skill in the domestic arts fell short, he couldn’t fault her intellect and marksmanship. Besides, threadbare trousers were the least of their worries at the moment.
Since the invaders had come some months ago, they had encountered fewer and fewer people and virtually no one willing to resist the enemy. In the past month, he had seen no one other than Samantha – alive, that is. The last time they had come in to town, they had found the owner of the Kinsey’s Mercantile dead on the boardwalk in front of his store, left there perhaps as a warning to others to cooperate with the new regime.
Remembering that brought Jack’s thoughts back to the day he had saved Samantha’s life.
After the war, of all the brothers and cousins who had fought, only Jack had returned home. All the butchery and three months as a “guest” of the rebs in the worst possible conditions left its mark on the career soldier. But even worse was seeing his youngest cousin’s body after the young lad had shot himself accidentally with his hero Uncle Jack’s service weapon. Jack wasn’t sure he would ever pick up another hand gun from that day forward.
Until the invasion began. Since the handgun incident, Jack had kept to himself, living off the land and fishing the stream that ran behind their property. He drank too much, often got morose and considered ending it all, and he eschewed society of any kind. On the occasion of a rare trip into town for staples, just as he was tying the last bag to his saddle, strange crafts like nothing he had ever seen hovered in the sky. The crafts belched orders to submit to the huge men who wore strange suits of armor and who bore staves that shot bolts of fire from one end. Each of the men had a brand or tattoo on his forehead.
Terrified townspeople ran in all directions. Women and children screamed. Men pulled their guns. Most of the latter met with the business end of those armored invaders’ weapons.
But one woman – Jack thought she looked a bit like Jake Carter’s girl though he couldn’t be sure since he hadn't seen her since before the war – neither screamed nor ran. She kept her head about her. She stood outside the mercantile, next to a wagon from which she pulled a rifle. It looked like she knew how to use it, too, but what Jack could see that she couldn’t was an invader coming up behind her.
The brute knocked the rifle out of her hands and grabbed her around the waist. She didn’t give up there but kicked and punched like a wild woman, somehow evading his grasp. As the invader reached for his weapon, Jack jumped on Jonah rode straight toward the blonde and held out his arm. In one quick motion she was seated behind him on Jonah, had his rifle in her hand and shot the invader in the arm.
“Nice shooting!” Jack had hollered over his shoulder.
“Not really! I was aiming for his head!” replied his passenger. She couldn’t see the grin he had on his face at her bravado. Or, if he was honest, it might have been at the way her hand clutched at his shirt and her body fit snugly against his back.
They had ridden hard out of town. Jack didn’t stop Jonah until they reached a watering hole on the back forty of his property. An overgrown rock wall bound the pond on one side and a crop of trees on another. He let the woman down and ordered her in no uncertain terms to find the cave entrance behind the brush and stay there until he told her to come out. With hands on hips, she stood her ground, ready to argue.
“Look,” he had told her, “I’m going to circle back to see if we’ve been followed, maybe cover up or confuse our trail a bit. Stay here.” The hands not having moved from her hips, and the look on her face not having softened, he added, “Please.” He added his most charming grin for good measure.
The lady rolled her eyes, hiked up the voluminous material of her skirt and undergarments with nary a thought to exposing her limbs to this man, and waded out to the wall. She stepped up on a ledge as though she knew it would be there and disappeared behind some foliage with a mock salute and a charming grin of her own. Not your everyday damsel in distress!
Jack should have known right then and there he had met his match.
Hours later, Jack had returned at dusk, having assured himself that he wasn’t being followed and wasn’t leading any of the invaders right back to her, Jack had tied Jonah to a bush and waded across the pond. He had heard the click of a gun being cocked and hurriedly identified himself. Pushing the brush aside, the woman had poked her head out.
“Good way to get yourself shot, you know, Captain O'Neill.”
“Didn’t realize you still even had a gun.” Jack had tossed onto the ledge the supplies which he had slung over his shoulder and had stepped up onto it himself, after the woman moved the items further back into the indentation. (It was really too shallow to be called a cave.)
“Not sure this little pea shooter even qualifies as a gun,” she answered, showing Jack the little Derringer pistol, “Much less whether it would take down one of those monsters. Dad gave it to me before he went to war in case some soldier – from either side – got too fresh. He thought it might at least be…discouraging.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Wouldn’t want Jake to find out you had to, um…”
“Had to what, sir? I’ll have you know that just because I wear skirts and not pants, I can do anything a man can do and am capable of taking care of myself, thank you very much.” The poof that escaped her petticoats as she sat and slapped her lap indignantly detracted somewhat from the fiery speech.
“Whoa, Nellie. No offense intended, ma’am. You *are* Colonel Carter’s daughter, right?” He had wracked his brain to remember said young lady’s given name.
“Nothin’. Just didn’t think your family had arrived from Washington yet, ‘sall.” Jack had slid down next to her and the plume of fabric.
“He didn’t. I did.” She had let out a deep sigh, fraught with female angst.
“Ah.” Jack had been unsure whether he had wanted to open *that* can of worms, so he didn’t. “And, for the record, I happen to *like* women who wear skirts. Not too fond of ones who shoot me, but I like women in skirts in general, especially when they fill them out so nicely.” He had smirked a little at that, with the dim light as cover. Since she had neither shot him nor conked him over the head, Jack had figured she couldn’t see his face any better than he could see hers. Which, he thought, was a real shame.
“I came back to make wedding preparations, but that didn’t happen either,” she had offered. “He…well, let’s say my fiancé didn’t come home from the war with his mind completely intact.” Jack hadn’t responded to that, and she had changed the subject. “Were you able to find out what happened with the people in town – besides the ones who got shot, that is?”
Jack had detailed all that he had seen around Colorado Springs; most of the citizens had been rounded up or executed. Jack had been forced to watch helplessly as one of the brutes knocked the school teacher, Daniel Jackson, unconscious when Mr. Jackson tried to keep one of the other invaders from taking his wife, Shari, along with several other women. Jackson’s spectacles had flown clear off his face and landed at the base of the tree in which Jack had been hiding. Later Jackson and the remaining women and children were marched off to a huge spaceship that looked like one of those pyramids in Egypt that Jackson had talked – endlessly if you let him, Jack recalled – about visiting to dig up old rocks. Only he called them ‘artifacts’.
“Did you serve with my father in the war?”
“No, I was with Colonel Hammond. But I met him at West Point. I saw you with him in Washington once, too, with your mother and brother I think, but you were just a girl then, maybe thirteen or fourteen? You probably wouldn’t remember.”
“I remember a lot of dashing young cadets from our visits to Washington and the Academy at West Point, but that *was* a long time ago.”
“Is your mother still in Washington with your father?”
“She died when I was fourteen.”
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“Thank you. She was waiting for my father to collect her from a social engagement. When he was over an hour late, she took a hackney carriage. There was an accident, and she was killed.”
“And your brother? Was he in the war?”
“No.” Jack had waited for her to add more. He waited about as long as he had ever waited for anything in his life other than fish to take the bait. Miraculously, he hadn’t even fidgeted. Eventually, Miss Carter had explained that her brother had blamed their father for their mother’s death, had headed west to California, never to have been heard from since. “I fear,” she had admitted, “I will never see either of them again.” Jack had pretended not to hear the sniff or two that followed. “I’m sorry. I’m not usually this emotional.”
“C’mere,” he had said quietly, lifting his arm and putting it around her shoulder. Jack had pulled out his handkerchief and handed it to her. Jack had thought she might have fallen asleep, but a few moments later, she had asked him about his family. Never having been much of a talker, Jack had surprised himself by what he had told her – visiting his grandparents in Minnesota on the way home from the war, the losses of his brothers in the war, his young cousin’s accident, even some of his own war experiences (minus his time as a POW).
When at last Jack had stopped talking, she had asked what they were going to do. “We should get out of the area, probably before first light. I doubt they have attacked only our town, and if we got away others might have also. I’m thinkin’ if we had numbers, and were well armed, maybe we could save those people they captured. ”
“Weapons of terror. They don’t seem to be terribly accurate.”
“Effective though. Looked to me like one of them blew a hole nearly clean through Simon Wells, and his wife due to have her baby any day now.” They both had paused at the thought of what had happened to Mrs. Wells and the others who had been taken.
“I think good marksmen can take them out with guns. If we cause too much trouble, maybe they’ll go away.”
“Or kill us all.”
“Or that. Look, let’s see if we can find others who are willing and able to fight. We have war-experienced men here all over the country. Seems like we could muster up some sort of resistance.”
“And if not?”
“There’s an old trapper’s cabin we can hole up in for winter…”
“You think they’ll stay that long?”
“I do. They didn’t look like they were in any hurry to leave.” Jack had felt the weight of the world hit his shoulder when she had dropped her head back down onto it. “We’re going to need more supplies, including ammunition and a replacement for your rifle. We’ll need to be careful of collaborators, too. Some people would just as soon turn you in to the enemy as not. Anyone in particular you don’t trust?”
“Besides that gambler fellow, Harry Maybourne, I would trust most anyone in Colorado Springs. Oh, and the new banker, Mr. Woolsey; I wouldn’t trust him further than the end of my nose.”
Jack had laughed at that and had sensed rather than saw her smile.
“Well, he threatened to foreclose on the Harriman farm. Poor Walter.”
“I never trust a man who puts money ahead of people,” Jack had said. A long silence had passed between them before Sam had let out a deep sigh and voiced her worst fear.
“I’m kind of glad my father and brother *aren’t* here. Then again, if you’re right, and they have attacked the whole country…”
“It’ll be all right, Miss Carter.”
“Huh? Who’s Sam?”
“I am. Samantha Carter.”
“I thought Sam was your brother.”
“No, that’s Mark.”
“Oh. You’re just full of surprises.”
“You’ll get used to it. You may even like me eventually.”
“Oh, I adore you already.”