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This fic will have things to tell Oprah.


Previous Entry This fic will have things to tell Oprah. Jan. 25th, 2007 @ 07:09 pm Next Entry
Title: Syncope
Rating: PG, interestingly.
Spoilers: general for S10, nothing specific.
Warnings: threesome, foodporn.
For: Jen, (=ladybug218) who requested Cameron/Vala/Sam, snowed in somewhere for the 3_ships ficathon.
Wordcount: 3750
A/N: Thanks (huge thanks) to betas elke_tanzer and synecdochic.


Women are from other planets.

Cameron tapped his boots against the door frame in muffled thuds and backed his way inside the house. Stray snowflakes skirted the roof and fell straight down into the splintered wood he was holding as he butted into the room. The scene outside was peaceful and lovely, but the calm warmth of inside enveloped him as he shut the door. He could almost forget it was all alien, the way he could almost forget he was a Southern boy who should find snow alarming, not normal.

He should probably also feel differently about his companions, but he found them both mildly alarming and normal despite the soft light and warmth they had built up around themselves. Mildly alarming and normal and alien. Sam probably wouldn't like that last addendum, but he'd read the files, damn it, and she'd been fighting these wars for a long time. Writing it down on Earth paper made from and Earth tree didn't make the experiences any less unusual.

He was pretty sure he didn't need to justify his wariness of Vala to anybody, but she'd been fighting longer, in her own way, with her own weapons. Cam loved his job, loved everything crazy and alien about it, but in the calm of the house, in the warmth contrasted with the cold outside, he had absolutely no wish to fight about anything. He hoped that Sam and Vala felt the same way, as honed skills and shiny edges had their place, but it was not this warm cocoon of a way station.

The heat in the main room of the house was a wall that not even the gusts of cold he brought through the door could breech. As his face thawed, the sticky alien wood trying to poke through his leather vest warmed too, so the first thing he smelled was wood sap. It was probably all over him, dulling his warrior instincts. Or maybe it was survival instincts considering their visitor, a dark half moon of a lady so bent over she wore an extra shawl to protect her neck from the weather, was holding Sam hostage in the kitchen.

Daniel and Teal'c, had they been there, would have known to put a stop to the whole thing immediately, but they were off being official and negotiating in the cold. Sam was stuck with Vala and Cameron as back-up, who were both more entertained than alarmed by Sam in a long skirt tethered to a pan by an old lady with a sharp tongue.

Cam assumed, given her tone of voice as he washed the worst of the leather smell off his hands and replaced it with the rich fatty soap smell. He couldn't actually speak to the woman and be understood, as a result of not having passed by enough DHDs apparently. Cam just hoped Vala would tell him if something important was said, and wasn't pulling his leg about understanding what she heard.

Vala spared him a moment of her concentration long enough to look over from her watchful perch on the kitchen table and silently, gleefully smile. She had her head tucked down conspiratorially over whatever she was doing in her lap, but as she looked at Cam the change in angle let one loosely held tie of hair fall over her shoulder in a wave. Cameron thought, if you had your face close enough, that fall of hair might have made a sound like old sandpaper on smooth wood. He might have laughed as he peeled off his creaking leather gloves and coat, if his body were warm enough yet for such things.

What she means is "I can't cook."

"Cam," Sam began, taking her wide eyes off their visitor in a tactical error. Her plea was interrupted as a wooden handle was thrust in her face from below, and her skirts swirled as she was prodded into turning back to the counter.

"Good liaising, Sam, you keep that up." Cameron restrained his smile enough to still look encouraging as Sam shot glances over her shoulder, and listened to the quick consonants and rich vowels of little grandmother woman's prattle. He walked farther into the room and felt the heat wrap around him with the wood smoke and the foreign language. He understood not a word and wished he could, if only because he was ostensibly in command, but then, it was not like he was currently held at the other end of the wooden spoon. Or like he had ever really been in command of these two women.

He joined Vala at the kitchen table, sitting on the bench and far enough to the side that her hip was not blocking his line of sight to the kitchen. He hoped he was also far enough away that he didn't chill her just by being near and cold, like a human draft. He was tempted to wrap press his hands into her waist, which he imagined would be warm and soft, but instead pressed his hands to his ears to warm them and wondered if he should try to get her to sit properly. There were greater things at stake than his own temptation, of course, like avoiding an interplanetary incident or accidental knocking over of a ceramic lamp.

On balance, he was pretty sure the little old lady would not spare any words telling Vala if one didn't just sit on tables in this culture. So he moved the lamp a few feet further away from Vala's leather clad hip and wondered if she'd opted for pants because they were surprisingly comfortable or if she thought they were sexier. Skirts would always win easy access points in the sexy department as far as Cam was concerned. And while the leathers suited him more than he thought they would, skirts always looked like they'd be comfortable; he suggested that Daniel try them after the hundredth time the man had fidgeted with his belt.

Daniel probably wouldn't look as good in them as Sam did, though, with her long lines and curves; loose Abydonian robes these were not.

"I told her I was hopeless in the kitchen," Vala said out of the side of her mouth, so as not to interrupt Sam's attempt to intuit what their grandmotherly visitor's growingly emphatic gestures at the stove required of her, "but as your future bride, Colonel Carter really ought to learn some cooking skills,"

"Oh, you didn't," Cam protested quickly at full volume, but Vala shushed him with what felt like hot fingertips on his cold-chapped mouth.

"We are undercover, darling," she said playfully, fingertips brushing the dry skin on his lips.

"No, we are renting a house from nice people to make contact," Cam began, only to have a flat disc of a nut shoved between his teeth. Vala had a pile of them on a cloth in her lap, which Cam hadn't noticed in favor of her hips and shoulders and a little bit of pale skin he could see at the small of her back. She also had, in a feat of organization, a bowl of great lumps of intact shells and a pile of broken shells within reach on the table.

The nut was smokey and sweet, the dust kicked up from cracking the shells smelled malty; it was almost enough to distract him from the subject.

"Yes, yes," She said, brushing off her fingers on his vest and plucking at the rounded edges, "Undercover, and you know she was bound to ask about the sleeping arrangements sooner or later."

The neckline of Vala's vest was much lower cut. "What sleeping arrangements?" he asked, voice rising in register, "there's one loft and we're all in it."

"Well yes," Vala looked pleased, "I was working up to telling her about that, but if you think there's less of a cultural stigma about it then by all means tell her now."

"You were just waiting until the cooking assignments were handed out," he said with warmth in his cheeks, but he blamed the cold. And he wondered how in the world-that-was-not-Earth he was going to sleep with them now and ignore the greater implications. And lack of privacy.

With a hint of a wink, Vala reached forward on the table to the half empty bowl of round, hard nuts and cracked one open with the help of two hinged bits of metal. Nutcrackers were universal, apparently. She brushed the shell pieces onto a small pile on the table with fingertips that looked pink from prying earlier shells from earlier nuts. Cam was surprised she had the patience for it; he half expected her to smash the whole thing on the table and sort the shell from the meat afterwards.

Cam willed himself to stop looking at the pads of her fingers prying shell from meat in what appeared to be her dinner assignment. So he looked up at the kitchen scene, aware for the first time of the smell of something sweet in the air. He was pretty sure it wasn't Vala.

"You don't think she could use a little help?" Cameron watched Sam look at her cooking partner blankly, picking up a small bowl from nearby and gesturing at it with a bewildered expression. The little woman sighed long-sufferingly and Sam allowed her wrist to be grabbed in what appeared to be an iron, if gnarled, grip, and have the wooden handle thrust into it. Hand and handle were then moved in overly simplistic circles above a flat pan half full of something red and not yet bubbly, though it was starting to steam. Sam stirred the concoction while standing straight-armed and as far away from the stove and the matriarch as possible. It made for some interesting lines in her torso and hips and skirts, and Cam was torn on whether he really needed a different vantage point.

"I was waiting for you to make the first move," Vala said, eyes on Sam. It was her standard innuendo, only normally she looked boldly at you. Cam blinked and watched her out of the side of his eyes until the moment had passed and Vala refocused on the work in her hands.

Vala wiggled a substantial piece of nut from a section of shell and held it proudly in Cam's face with a triumphant sound. He half stood to make a play for it with his teeth again, only to have her drop it into the pile in her lap with a raised eyebrow. The little old lady was mournfully shaking her head. Sam looked doubtfully at all of them and Cam figured it was time to intervene. He managed to surreptitiously sneak a tiny handful of nuts from near Vala's knee on his way and move quickly enough to be out of range of her swats before she noticed.

I wouldn't say no.

The kitchen was small, though open; it meant that Cam had to come up behind Sam to take the spoon from one of her hands and reach around to give her the rest of his stash of nuts with the other. Since she was almost palpably warm and her hair smelled of shampoo she'd brought from Earth, so Cam wasn't too upset about the close quarters.

She almost melted with relief when he said, "I got it," in her ear, brushing the ends of her hair with his nose, and stepped between her and the little old lady. Their grandmother woman said something chirpy that sounded like "Bin harsak halin khabaro," and patted Cam on the cheek with a warm, soft hand, permanently cupped. Cam smiled at her and asked what they were cooking with a tilted head and a careful gesture with the dripping wooden spoon. He bent down closer to hear her before he remembered it didn't matter if he could hear them.

"Suela okhotsk esh," she said, continuing into a quiet monolog of long vowels that may or may not have been to herself.

"I stand relieved," Sam said, her skirt brushing his ankle. He could hear the relief and smile in her voice; he could feel her hand clenched in the hem of his vest, probably to make sure he stayed between her and her nemesis.

Cam turned to look at her and smiled from his listening-but-not-understanding crouch. The little frown between her eyebrows relaxed and she smiled back at him, smile turning lopsided as she removed her deathgrip from his clothes. He tried not to miss the feel of her knuckles in his rib cage, but consoled himself that he could feel her skirt shift as she moved.

The concoction on the stove gurgled and a few bubbles gathered around the edges of the squarish pan. Cam stood straight and gave it a stir. He tried to smell it, but his own proximity to the stove meant all the smells were being confused by the warming sap on his leather clothes, giving everything a sharp bitter tang.

"This made with those really sour red berries, or am I wrong?" he asked Sam, looking closely at the pan for the first time.

"Yes?" Sam said. Cam looked at her bemusedly until she apologetically said, "She scares me." He grinned and carefully lowered the flat of his hand over the pan. It was warm but not too hot, so he tentatively dropped one finger closer and in. For a moment, he couldn't tell whether it was scalding hot or body temperature, but when the moment didn't pass, he decided it was the latter. Shaking a stray thick droplet off the pad of his finger, he tapped the concoction on his tongue and hoped it wouldn't burn.

Sweet, but not as much as the dried versions, which were coated with something. This was probably the early stages of that, maybe, if they kept reducing it. He felt Sam watching him, waiting for the verdict, or the results of empirical observation. He looked at the pan again and then at Sam, who raised her eyebrow. Their grandmotherly chaperone was still speaking on his other side, a gentle white noise of prattle that gave silence permission. He dipped his finger back in the pan and let it drip once; cupped his other hand underneath to catch any more drops.

It was daring, and probably over the line, but their grandmother figure was there, oblivious to his lack of understanding and continuing to describe the recipe or something... and Cam felt very strongly in that moment that it would have been rude to interrupt her. Maybe that was wishful thinking and he was way further over the line than he thought, but then Sam's mouth opened. Sam's mouth opened and it was still a good half a second before Cam felt too silly standing there. He drew his finger softly across her tongue, which was wet and warm and pulled at his finger.

Quietly, in the back of his mind, Cam wondered if it was entirely reasonable to regret that she let him have his finger back, without curling up the tip to catch the tip, or closing her lips around his joint to suck the lingering taste off.

"Well, that was a missed opportunity," Vala said from the table, half a shell forgotten in the palm of her hand.

Cameron ignored his internal agreement with Vala and smiled at Sam, tried for easy and relaxed and not at all thinking naughty thoughts about his friends. Sam's eyes, though, were on Vala, and her mouth was still slightly open.

Her lips looked a little chapped, maybe dehydration. It was hard to remember to drink water in the cold weather; he'd make them some tea later. It would take his mind off of what else mouths could do.

This may not be the way they do things where you come from.

Vala had drifted closer to the stove, so Cam decided to delegate the change of subject.

He had her chop a wisened pear-apple fruit thing, had Sam fetch a handful of the dried sweetened version of the berries, and Cam poked around the containers of things out on the counter with their little old lady by his side. He found a knobbly spice, like small greased ball bearings, that smelled smokey and crisp. He found a root that tasted hot and spicy when he broke off a piece.

Their grandmother type excitedly produced a series of stones with grooves and a handle out of the low cabinets. She assembled everything behind Vala on the table with alacrity, taking the spices out of Cam's hands and smashing them into a paste before he knew where she'd gone.

The stones when she handed them back to scrape into the pan were heavier than he expected, and Cam was reminded of his own grandmother's handling of cast iron skillets. He grinned fondly at her, and she tut-tutted until he dumped everything into the nearly simmering berries and started stirring.

If grandmothers everywhere were so similar, it gave Cam hope of someday understanding women in general. Or maybe specifically.

You are not the one I was expecting.

Vala had presented the chopped crisp fruit and stood back and to the side, hip jutted out against the dry sink platform, eyes alert and occasionally speaking quietly with Sam. Sam kept him between her and the wrinkled old half-pint, and she was closer when Cam felt a hand on the small of his back. Sam met his raised eyebrows with clear eyes and a quizzical look. Cam looked at Vala to find her openly smirking, but still with her arms folded. He felt the hand start an unsteady patter and realized that it was in syncopation to the grandmotherly chatter on his other side.

"You know," he said, grinning at the sauce and then turning to speak conspiratorially to the grandma person, "you are not actually who I was trying to charm." She continued to pat the upper part of his ass until with a final swat to emphasize a point she bustled about fetching plates and knives. "Yeah, guess it needs work," he said, looking after her. The chutney berries were cooked to bursting, though, so he dished that out into a low ceramic bowl Vala had produced.

"You're doing just fine, darling, don't worry," she said with a wink at him and a smile over his shoulder. He handed her the bowl and she grazed her fingers over his as she took it.

Cam turned back to the pan to find Sam close, with the cloth-wrapped pan-handle in one hand and the other hand out for the spoon. He caught her skirt with his knee as he turned and would have pressed his upper arm into her chest if he turned any more, so he simply stopped with the spoon over the pan. Sam raised her eyebrows and the corner of her mouth and let go the pan to uncurl his fingers from the handle of the spoon. He let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding and made his way to the table. He wondered if he imagined her smiling at Vala when Sam joined them, or that the touch lingered when Sam drew her long fingers over Vala's shoulder to brace the step over the bench with skirts on.

They ate the not-cranberry sauce on crusty brown rolls, with Vala's shelled malty nuts on the side when their mouths got too hot with spices and sour fruit. Their grandmother cooed over her first two bites and then folded her arms over the edge of the table and chattered happily at them for the duration of the meal. Cam barely knew where to look, so he concentrated on crumbs, and sauce dripping off his knife. Vala showed Sam how to shell the nuts, and Cam watched their hands move in identical motions, a few seconds offset. His own hands stilled as he tore a bite of bread from a roll and he stopped eating to watch them. When Sam produced her first large bit of one without shell, their grandmother abruptly stood up and gathered her things and bustled out, talking as she went.

We won't lack for heat.

"Well, that was sudden," Cam said into the silence. He turned back to find Vala nearly blushing and looking at the doorway with a slight tilt of her head.

"Not so much, apparently," Vala said, brushing Sam's shell remnants off the side of her fist,"She was worried about us in the storm, but thinks we'll be fine now." Sam looked from Vala to Cam to the nut, as if trying to sort out why their chaperone had so suddenly left.

"Why now?" Cam asked, wondering what could possibly make Vala blush, looking at her full on, since she was unlikely to meet his eyes.

"It'll delay Daniel and Teal'c?" Sam asked, her focus shifted on picking shell out of the sauce still stuck on her eating knife. Cam reached out to still the movement, arm crossing the table and working around the empty chutney bowl.

"Yup." Cam looked at Vala, who raised her focus from the table to look back at him, all traces of blush gone.

"Was I the only one who understood not a word?" Cam asked, a little overwhelmed at being abruptly left without chaperone in the face of Vala's open and challenging gaze.

"Not sure it was really about words," Sam said, still looking at the shells caught in the sauce on her knife. Vala reached out to shift the knife out of Sam's loose grip, turning her wrist enough that Cam's fingertips could feel her pulse.

"So we'll be okay?" Cam asked, looking between them and prepared to go with whatever they decided, feeling like it had maybe been decided a while ago. He was glad with Vala looked back to him, the slight twist of her head shifting her hair on her leathers and making the only sound in the cabin.

"Just follow my lead, darlings," Vala said with a slow, wide smile. The lanterns flickered noiselessly and sent up a loose grey smoke to the rafters.

Leave a comment
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 26th, 2007 03:55 am (UTC)
Lovely, lovely letting of unspoken... things... progress until the seduction is undeniable! I feel warm and snug and anticipatory. :-)
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 28th, 2007 07:53 am (UTC)
Oh good. I'm so glad it worked for you!
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 26th, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
i love the details in this, how they enhance the perspective of the characters and generate a tone to the whole story.

this is a great sentence: "He hoped that Sam and Vala felt the same way, as honed skills and shiny edges had their place, but it was not this warm cocoon of a way station."

and oh the description of the nuts is lovely. and this too: "He tried to smell it, but his own proximity to the stove meant all the smells were being confused by the warming sap on his leather clothes, giving everything a sharp bitter tang."

i keep finding words that you've built into gorgeous images: "He had her chop a wisened pear-apple fruit thing, had Sam fetch a handful of the dried sweetened version of the berries, and Cam poked around the containers of things out on the counter with their little old lady by his side. He found a knobbly spice, like small greased ball bearings, that smelled smokey and crisp. He found a root that tasted hot and spicy when he broke off a piece."

the lyrical ending to this underlines the wonderful cadence of how they interact with each other, a bit like a slow quiet dance that shows how they have learned to know each other.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 28th, 2007 07:57 am (UTC)
You do leave the world's greatest feedback, Jen. Wow.

And you've hit a nerve with me, because I felt during the first major edit that sensory detail was conspicuously lacking. I am thrilled that you chose to point to descriptions as a highlight, I'm just gooey with a-flattery.

I like the tone, like the quiet and the easy... I like the idea that there's something in the berries chilling them out, maybe, letting them ease past some barriers to understand each other and then make choices based on new information.

I like the idea that they are warm and safe and waiting, with all the time in the world, and events are just conspiring to let their relationship develop, if they want it to. And that they all want it to.

I'm so glad you liked this.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 28th, 2007 01:08 pm (UTC)
aw, you're very kind. but you know, there are definitely days when my feedback is practically monosyllabic. ;)

i'm so glad you're happy with the feedback about the details. i do love how they build the framework of the story that allows that quiet and easy you mentioned to build. :)
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 27th, 2007 05:37 am (UTC)
I think there's something in that fruit. :-)

Excellent Vala, Minxy! I wonder if she's going to be a generous lover, or if it will all be about her. *ponders*
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 28th, 2007 08:01 am (UTC)
Yup, I bet that fruit has some chillin' out properties. Or inhibition soothing.

I think... I think Vala would be a facillitator. I think she would get off as much on the visual as the tactile and that she sees such potential between Cam and Sam and such unneeded restraint that one of her main goals is to get them to let go.

Of course, if you start paying attention to her you better be prepared to follow it through, but I suspect she's all about pleasure for everyone. Surprisingly.

She could bring some insecurities to the bed, though, like whether she really belongs, or if she fears commitment.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:January 28th, 2007 03:43 pm (UTC)
You created the scene beautifully here; I really did feel as if I was there and your sense of place and detail is amazing.

Love the way it builds so slowly, so inevitably between them.

"Not sure it was really about words," Sam said

No, it never is...
[User Picture Icon]
Date:February 24th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC)
Hiya Jane!

I'm late getting to the feedback, but thank you for your comments on this little slip of a story. It's funny how displeased I was with it at the time, but looking back now, I think there were some nice details in it and overall I'm pleased with the sense of place. So thank you for your comments on same.

Strange little aha moment that is gone before you realize it was there.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture Icon]
Date:February 24th, 2007 04:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it, and I really did have fun writing Cam cooking, and describing alien food and experimenting with it. It's funny how the three of them can reach such a gentle place so easily.
Date:December 17th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC)
This was so sensorily beautiful. (I want not-cranberry sauce and smoky nuts now.)

Adored how unsaid everything was.

"Was I the only one who understood not a word?" Cam asked, a little overwhelmed at being abruptly left without chaperone in the face of Vala's open and challenging gaze.
"Not sure it was really about words," Sam said

"So we'll be okay?" Cam asked, looking between them and prepared to go with whatever they decided, feeling like it had maybe been decided a while ago.

"Just follow my lead, darlings," Vala said with a slow, wide smile.

The lanterns flickered noiselessly and sent up a loose grey smoke to the rafters.
[User Picture Icon]
Date:December 18th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
Thank you so much, anonymous person surprising me with feedback on an older story! I haven't looked at this in a while, but I can't tell you what a compliment it is to have you praise the last lines. Nice to know the story ended well.

Thank you.
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