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Jessie felt her breath catch in her throat. It hadn’t crossed her mind that she might run into Cam this evening, so she hadn’t even given any thought to how she might react. Interacting at work was one thing; this was totally different. She took in the dark blue jeans, black sweater and brown leather jacket. Crap. She was so not ready for this. Both Casey and Sam could sense the nervous tension in Jessie; at the moment it looked like she wanted to crawl under the table. They could understand her skittishness, but they were bound and determined she wasn’t going anywhere.
Casey rolled her eyes. "Oh boy. There she goes."
It hadn’t taken any length of time before Callie saw Cam and made a beeline for him. Now that her friends had given her a head’s up about the woman, Jessie could see through the fawning and flirting; she could also see that while Cam was trying to be polite, he had absolutely no interest in the woman. Daniel and Jack were watching with some amusement—apparently Callie was trying to talk Cam into dancing with her. A couple of the security personnel from the SGC made their way over to the guys and greeted them, and Cam was finally able to extricate himself from Callie.
"Looks a little disappointed, doesn’t she?" Casey said with a grin.
Sam nudged Jessie with her foot under the table. "See? Told you so; he isn’t interested in her at all."
"Okay, okay—I’ll admit it, you were right."
The women watched as Callie sauntered over to the jukebox.
Casey scooped up some guacamole with her chip. "How much you wanna bet she’s going to put on a song and try to entice him by dancing?"
Sam took a swig from her beer. "More than likely."
The guys finished their conversation with the SF’s and Daniel had spotted Casey. Cam’s gaze locked with Jessie’s, a slight smile curving the corners of his mouth. Just then the jukebox began to play "Hips Don’t Lie".
"Oh God," Jessie murmured. "Just shoot me now."
Sam was grinning from ear to ear, and Casey was trying her hardest not to laugh. Callie couldn’t have fucked up her "seduction" of Cam any more if she had tried. While she made her way to the dance floor and started dancing, Callie might as well have been dancing to an empty room for all the attention he gave her, which was none. At the moment his body was reacting as if he were back on Nanda, and Jessie was dancing just for him. He had a tight rein on his emotions, and anyone looking at him wouldn’t have guessed that the only thing he wanted to do at that moment was hold Jessie in his arms.
Casey couldn’t help herself. "You think fate may be trying to tell you something, Jessie?" She snorted in response to the look Jessie threw her way. "Hey, don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just saying…"
Daniel led the way over to the booth. All three men were fairly certain of the mood at the table judging by the women’s expressions. That, and the fact they had discussed the latest developments before arriving about the now defunct non-frat order. Mitchell had clued them in about his intentions to pursue a more personal relationship with Jessie, which was met with resounding approval from both men. Besides, they knew how methodical Mitchell could be; Jessie didn’t stand a chance.
Sam stood as they reached the table, and while they were exchanging greetings Daniel slid in next to Casey, then Sam, followed by Jack. It left Jessie no choice but to scoot closer to Casey so Cam had a place to sit. She took a sip of her drink, then glanced at Cam to find him watching her, a grin on his face.
He leaned closer and murmured in her ear, "You wishin’ for an Asgard beam right about now?"
Her eyes widened as his grin grew.
"You have that deer in the headlights look."
"Can’t imagine why," she said dryly as the music reverberated around the room.
That got a chuckle out of him. He picked up her drink and sniffed the contents. "I wouldn’t have pegged you for a whiskey drinker."
"I don’t drink it very often, but it has to be Irish whiskey when I do."
"Irish whiskey, huh? Can I have a taste?"
‘Yep, an Asgard beam would be really nice’. "Sure".
Cam brought the glass to his mouth and took a sip, the tip of his tongue brushing a tiny drop from his lower lip. Jessie couldn’t have looked away if she had tried, and it wasn’t doing a damned thing for her composure. He nodded his head. "Smooth."
The waitress came over and the guys ordered Guinness along with another round for the women, and an additional platter of nachos. The service was quick, and they soon were enjoying the food and drink, as well as the company. After a little while Casey needed to make a trip to the ladies room, so Cam and Jessie got up for her. As Jessie slid back into the booth, Cam handed something to Casey. After a brief conversation, she grinned from ear and ear, then continued on her way. If Jessie had caught that exchange, she would have had her guard much higher.
Jessie was sipping her second drink when she saw Casey coming back around the corner. What she hadn’t seen was her stopping by the jukebox, selecting the songs Cam had requested. When she and Cam stood to let Casey back in, Cam took off his leather jacket. He handed it to Casey just as the sounds of "Louisiana Saturday Night" came over the speakers. He took Jessie’s hand before she had a chance to realize what was going on. "Dance with me?"
Jessie opened her mouth, trying to think up some excuse, but none was forthcoming.
"You’re not gonna try to tell me a girl who was born and raised in Texas doesn’t know how to do a little boot scootin’, are you, Watson?"
She snapped her mouth closed, shooting Casey a look over her shoulder as Cam led her to the dance floor. Her friend’s laughter confirmed Jessica’s suspicions--she had helped him.
Cam was as much of a character when he was dancing as he was when causing mischief elsewhere. He held Jessie close, one arm around her waist, the other holding her hand, and began maneuvering them through the quick steps of the dance while singing along to the music:
Waiting in the front yard, sitting on a log
Single shot rifle and a one-eyed dog
Yonder come my kinfolk in the moonlight
Louisiana Saturday night
Well, you get down the fiddle and you get down the bow,
Kick off your shoes and you throw ‘em on the floor
Dance in the kitchen 'til the morning light
Louisiana Saturday night
He was bound and determined to get a smile on her face, and it didn’t take him long to succeed. There had been a couple of groans when the distinctive country tune had come on, but most of the patrons in Quinn’s got into the spirit of things as they watched Cam dance with Jessie. If there had been any doubt of his interest in her, there was none now. Of course, at least one person wasn’t smiling.
One of the guys from physiotherapy stopped by Callie’s table. "Hey Callie, I thought you said Mitchell was chasing you. I think you might have had that backwards."
"Shut up, Williams."
Her friend Irene knew better than to say anything to her. She definitely didn’t want to be the target of one of her rants.
"What the hell is he doing with that bitch? It’s not like she’s anything special to look at. Probably a lousy fuck, too."
Irene sighed. In her opinion the woman was gorgeous, but she knew that didn’t matter. Once Callie got her panties in a wad, no amount of common sense would sway her one way or another. The best course of action was to say nothing, and this was exactly what Irene did, taking another sip from her drink while watching the couple on the dance floor.
The music faded away, but Cam made no move to return to their table, nor let Jessie out of his arms. The next song started up, Sammy Kershaw’s "She Don’t Know She’s Beautiful". Cam continued to sing the lyrics, holding her close and guiding her in a slightly slower rhythm.
We go out to a party somewhere
The moment we walk in the door
People stop and everybody stares
She don't know what they're staring for
She don't know she's beautiful (never crossed her mind)
She don't know she's beautiful (no she's not that kind)
She don't know she's beautiful
Though time and time I've told her so
"You are, you know," he said, his breath ruffling the hair by her ear.
Jessie leaned back slightly, looking up at him. She distinctly remembered the first time he had told her she was beautiful—in the bedroom on Nanda, right after their first kiss.
"I’ve been wanting to talk to you, but Jacob arrived before I got the chance." He maneuvered them around a few other couples that had joined them, and they did a couple of turns around the floor. "I didn’t see your car in the parking lot when we got here."
"I got a ride with Casey."
Looking down at her, he weighed his options before asking his next question. "Would you be willing to let me take you home, so we could have a chance to talk?" He held up two fingers together. "I’ll behave myself; scouts honor."
Jessie raised an eyebrow. "Scouts honor is three fingers, Mitchell."
"Damn." He grinned mischievously, then held up three fingers. "Okay, scouts honor, I’ll be good."
‘Oh, of that I have no doubt.’ She looked at him suspiciously. "Has there ever been a time where you haven’t gotten what you wanted from a woman?"
That was a devil’s smile if she had ever seen one. He pulled her close before whispering in her ear, "I plead the Fifth."
By the time the second song had started, Callie had worked herself up pretty good. Irene could tell by the look on her face that trouble was brewing. Callie pushed back her chair and started to rise.
"What are you doing?" Irene asked.
"I’m going to go dance with Mitchell."
"I don’t really think that’s a good idea."
"He’s just using her to make me jealous. I guess I shouldn’t have made him wait so long. There’s no need for him to continue making a fool of himself now that I’ve decided it’s time for us to be a couple."
The gang had been keeping an eye on Cam and Jessie, happy to witness the two of them coming together. Casey’s radar started going off, though, and she noticed Callie talking with her friend, getting ready to get out of her chair. Casey was up and out of the booth before anyone knew what was going on.
"Babe?" Daniel called after her.
"It’s okay, Daniel," Jack said, rising. "I’m right behind her."
Casey was already halfway across the room by the time Callie stood up, ready to head over to the dance floor.
Callie took two steps before she found her way blocked. "Excuse me," she said sarcastically, trying to move around Casey.
"I don’t think so, cupcake."
Callie looked up at the woman, and was surprised by the anger she saw in those green eyes.
"I suggest you leave them alone."
Callie grew angrier. "Look honey, I don’t know who the hell you think you are…"
"Oh, I know exactly who I am. I’m Casey Jackson, wife of Dr. Daniel Jackson, member of SG-1, and the person who’s going to kick your ass if you don’t back off." Casey watched with satisfaction as Callie’s mouth dropped open. "Those two people you’re getting ready to harass are my close friends. They don’t want to be disturbed."
Callie tossed her hair over her shoulder, sizing Casey up. "Maybe you don’t know your friend as well as you think you do. Mitchell wants me."
Casey didn’t even try to stop the snort of derision that came out. "Wants you? I don’t freaking think so. He’s not interested in someone who has been around the block so many times there are ruts in the road."
"Is there a problem here?"
Callie had been ready to launch herself at Casey when she recognized General O’Neill coming up to them. Callie snapped to attention. "No, Sir. No problem, Sir."
"Everything all right, Radar?"
"Everything’s fine, Jack. I was just heading off some trouble before it got started."
Jack nodded, staring at the shorter woman until she dropped her gaze to the floor. "We better get back to our table. Cam and Jessie are headed in that direction, and they’ll finish off the nachos before we have a chance to get any." Without another word to Callie, Jack placed his hand on Casey’s back and headed back to their booth.
"I could have taken that bitch with one hand tied behind my back."
Jack patted her back. "No doubt about that, tiger. You did good."
After that little incident, the rest of the evening passed uneventfully. They hung around for about an hour, finished off their food, then settled the tab. Cam pulled on his jacket, looking at Jack and Daniel. "You need a ride home, or do you have it covered?"
"I’ll ride home with Casey," Daniel replied, and Jack piped in, "Sam and I are headed out."
Casey added, "I just need to take Jessie home…"
Cam smiled. "That’s okay, Case. I’m giving her a ride home."
The four matching grins Jessie saw had her wondering if all her friends had been instrumental in setting her up. She didn’t have time to think about it, though, as quickly as they headed for the door. Jessie followed, with Cam right behind her. She got a quick hug from Casey and Sam before they disappeared into the parking lot. Jessie looked around, not sure where Cam was parked. She felt a light touch on her low back. "This way, Jessie."
They walked around the side of the building, and she saw Cam’s black Mustang parked in the far corner. Listening to their footsteps echo across the parking lot, Jessie almost chuckled at the irony of it. She had come here with Casey; she was leaving with Cam. How the hell had that happened?
Cam opened the door for her, and she slid into the passenger seat. She had ridden with Casey and Sam before, but this was the first time she had been in Cam’s car. She fastened her seat belt as he got in on the drivers side. "Nice car."
"Did you do any of the work on it?"
"I had a little restoration work done, but for the most part she was in pretty good shape to begin with."
They fell silent as he pulled out of the parking lot and headed to her home. It didn’t seem to take any time at all before he was turning into her driveway and shutting off the engine. Knowing Jessie was nervous, he wanted a nice, neutral location for them to talk. He glanced at the house. "You wanna sit on the porch?"
By the time she got her seatbelt undone he had come around and opened the passenger door for her. Stepping out of the car, the wind ruffled her hair, and there was a definite coolness in the air. Eyeing her silk sweater, Cam took off his jacket. "Here, put this on." He held it for her while she slid her arms in the sleeves, the weight of the jacket coming to rest on her shoulders, the ends of the cuffs brushing her fingertips. It was warm from his body, and it smelled distinctly of leather, mixed with his scent. Making their way to the porch, they ended up sitting on the bench in the corner. "I like the covered porch," Cam said. "It’s nice."
The porch light cast a soft glow over everything. Cam looked at her for a moment before he spoke. "You know, Jessie," he said softly, "what happened on Nanda kind of messed things up a little bit." He saw the shift of emotion in her eyes, a wall going up as she began to look away. He reached out, his fingers cradling her cheek, gently turning her back to look at him. "Hear me out, Jess, okay?" She swallowed before nodding her head. "Before Nanda, I had been thinking about asking you out, but because of some things I hadn’t gotten around to doing it." He ignored the voice in his head that whispered ‘idiot’. He couldn’t be sure whether it was his own conscience echoing its assessment, or if it was a remnant of the dream he had had that morning. "I still want to ask you out, but I don’t want you to think it’s because of what happened on Nanda."
He watched her expression, the leeriness that was there. It didn’t go away. One of the things he found fascinating about Jessie was he could read her through her eyes—they were like the proverbial window to her soul. Whether she wasn’t aware of it, or she hadn’t learned how to yet, she couldn’t hide what she was feeling, at least not from him. Cam knew someone had hurt her in the past; whether it was like what Brojorn had told him or not, he didn’t know, but it didn’t matter. He had to show her she could trust him. "You can ask Daniel."
Jessie’s brow furrowed. "Daniel?"
Cam nodded. He didn’t really want to tell her that he had been asking Daniel about her being a lesbian, so he kept it as generic as he possibly could. "I mentioned to him I was thinking about asking you out. It was the day before we were deployed to Nanda."
The day before? Then, that would mean…Jessie looked at Cam almost as if she was seeing him for the first time. And in a way, she was. Before, she had viewed him as the leader of SG-7, a coworker, a friend. But this, well, this was different. She bit her lip. "You said Nanda messed things up."
He watched the subtle signs of the wall retreating. "It messed it up in the sense that I like taking my time getting to know a person." He reached out and took her hand, brushing his thumb across the softness of her skin. "The level of intimacy we shared on Nanda isn’t normally where I would want a relationship to start." He took her look of surprise as a good sign. "What I’m saying is, I’d like to take things slow, as if Nanda hadn’t happened. Not that I didn’t enjoy it," he said quickly, and then just as quickly said, "I mean, I didn’t like the fact that we were forced into something we wouldn’t have normally done at the time, but I don’t regret one moment I got to spend with you." He was praying he hadn’t stuck his foot in his mouth, and that she would understand what he was trying to say. The smile that tugged at the corner of her mouth told him he was doing all right.
"Cam, I have to be honest, I’ve never been real good at this dating stuff." When he didn’t say anything, she continued on. "I’ve spent most of my time involved with my work. I…it’s just that, I haven’t…I’m not very…" Crap. So much for being a linguist—she couldn’t string a sentence together to save her life.
"I haven’t gotten around…I mean out, much." Jessie was mentally kicking herself, hard. Damned Freudian slips.
"I don’t know. There are plenty of other women out there who you’d probably have a better time with. Like…like Callie."
Cam frowned, thinking for a moment. "You mean Calandra?"
Jessie shrugged. "The woman at Quinn’s. Sam said her name was Callie Jones."
He shook his head. "I am not interested in Calandra, Jessie. She’s a player. If I were some weak-minded moron who needed to screw a woman daily to prove I was a man, I’d probably be interested. But I’m not." He knew with Jessie honesty was the most important thing. "Look, I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve had my fair share of female companionship, but I prefer quality rather than quantity. I’m a one-woman kind of guy. I don’t share, and I don’t cheat."
She let out a soft sigh. "I just think you could do a lot better than me."
"Why don’t you let me be the judge of that?" He reached out and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I don’t see a lack of practical experience as a drawback."
Jessie took a good long look at Cam, and could sense no deception in him. It aggravated her that she felt she couldn’t trust her judgment concerning men. What had happened with John had burned her badly. Still, she couldn’t just shut down and be a hermit for the rest of her life, either.
"So," he said, "would ya like to go out with me sometime?"
Jessie couldn’t help but smile at him. He looked so darn cute, like a little boy asking for a favor. There wasn’t a woman in her right mind that could look into those baby blue eyes and say no.
"Yeah, I’d like that," she said, watching as a matching grin spread across Cam’s face.
She started laughing. "Yes, really."
The laughter turned into a squeal as Cam quickly wrapped his arms around her and stood, lifting her as he spun around in a complete circle. "Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!"
She was still laughing as he set her back on her feet. The wind picked up once again, the coolness reminding them of how late it was getting. Damn. "I guess I’d better get inside. We’re probably going to have a long day tomorrow, especially if there’s a Tok’ra update."
Cam knew she was right, but it didn’t stop the twinge of disappointment he felt. He really enjoyed her company, and now that he knew they had a chance… ‘Nice and slow’, he reminded himself as he walked her over to the front door. "So, barring anything happening at work, you wanna grab a bite to eat tomorrow night, or something?"
"Sure," she said with a smile, taking her key and unlocking the door. She started to slip his jacket off so she could give it back to him.
"Keep it. I’ll get it from you tomorrow." He took a step closer to her. "Pick you up about 6:30?"
"Sounds good," she murmured as he slowly closed the distance between them, his lips brushing hers in the softest of kisses. He lingered for a moment, and she felt the tip of his tongue lightly trace the fullness of her bottom lip before he pulled back.
"See you tomorrow, Jessie," he said, an impish grin playing across his face.
She fought a groan as a shaft of desire shot through her. "You are an evil man, Cameron Mitchell."
He chuckled out loud as he stepped off the porch. "You don’t know the half of it, Jessie." He took a couple of steps towards his car before he turned and looked directly at her. "But you will."
She watched as he got into the Mustang, revved up the engine and backed out of the drive. He waited in front of the house until she stepped inside and closed the door before driving off. Jessie leaned against the door, her tongue brushing her lower lip, detecting the faintest taste of him, his scent emanating from his jacket, the weight of which mimicked a lover’s embrace. She shook her head as she headed to her bedroom, unconsciously caressing the leather with her fingertips. What in the hell had she just gotten herself into?
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