PG, Geek!Sam/Geek!Jack, Moebius AU. Slightly fluffy. Holdouttrout dared me (more or less) to brave the “wingfic” square on my Cliche Bingo card. Many thanks to Abyssinia4077 for the extremely patient physics lessons. Any scientific mistakes, impossibilities or outright ridiculousness are mine alone.
Disclaimer: These people do not belong to me and I am not making any money off them.
“Okay, Sam? I know you’re way smarter than me, but are you really, really sure this is a good idea?”
“Jack, you’ve been asking that every day for a month.”
“Yeah, but it seems more urgent now, somehow.”
They were on top of a hill a couple miles from their little house, and Sam was puttering around her contraption, squinting, testing the knots and tightening the woven fabric. Jack ate a handful of mulberries from the bush beside him and licked his forefinger, sticking it up in the air to test the wind. Again.
“Stop that,” she said.
“Sorry. Want some?” He held out his red-stained, berry-filled hand.
Sam just shook her head.
“But seriously,” Jack said. Never let it be said that he could leave well enough alone. “Are you really sure?”
She stood upright to face him, hands on her hips and a sunshine smile on her lips. “No. But it’ll be fun to find out.”
Sure it would, if they didn’t die. Jack thought that was probably the wrong thing to say, though.
“Did I ever tell you we built one of these in a fluid dynamics class?” she asked. Then she hunched over, pressing down on the frame to test its strength.
“No. How did that turn out for you?”
“Not well,” she said brightly. “This one’s better.”
Jack couldn’t see her face, but he knew she was teasing. Anyway, the pilot in Jack — a part of him he’d thought he’d left behind in the future — knew her design was sound; he had no doubt this glider was many times better than anything she’d built 20 years ago. She’d been working on rockets, after all. Before.
Sam hadn’t liked Egypt, and Jack had decided early on that wherever she wanted to be was where he wanted to be. Two years after the revolution that had sent the Goa’uld running, Jack and Sam had accepted a couple handfuls of Ra’s gold and a headful of travel advice from Dr. Jackson, and set off north. They’d paid for passage on a felucca to the mouth of the Nile, and there they’d bought a tiny sailing ship from a trader who’d seen one too many storms and decided to take up farming instead. Hugging the coast from Arabia to Israel and beyond, they’d eventually found themselves in a fishing village on what they thought was the west coast of Turkey, and they’d stayed.
There were trees here, hills like this one, a natural jetty where Jack often joined the locals in netting fish and selling them to the travelers who rode down from the mountains. Jack and Sam had built a house, planted a vegetable garden, and adopted some olive trees and a few goats. Sometimes they collected blue snail shells to sell. They had only picked up a few words of the language so far, but that turned out not to be unusual around the rim of the Mediterranean, and they managed okay. And Sam had set to work on what Jack had called her doomsday machine. She’d sketched it in the dirt floor of their house during spare moments in the heat of the day. Jack had watched her work sometimes, thinking how adorable she was when she talked to herself.
He picked more mulberries. Sam finished her tinkering, came to stand by him, and gazed proudly on her anachronistic creation. She too wet a finger and tested the wind.
“Ready?” she asked, grinning.
“Ladies first.” Jack shoved the rest of the berries into his mouth.
“No, you. You’re the pilot.”
“But you built it.”
She tilted her head and shaded her eyes with one hand. She’d had problems with headaches since losing her glasses years ago. “Why do you think I built it, Jack?”
Jack’s pulse sped up. “Why —” he started, and tried again. “Really?” His voice squeaked.
She gave him a sly, sexy smile, the kind he never would have imagined on her face when he first met her, but was familiar with now. “Let’s go,” she said.
Jack was ready to follow her like a puppy at that point. He helped her strap into what would be the upper position, and strapped himself into the lower. “You really did, didn’t you?” he said when he realized she’d designed it to fit each of their heights. Standing upright, they both had their feet on the ground, and they both could run.
He studied the lay of the land below the hill, and laid out a tentative flight plan in his head. The sky was clear blue, with puffy cumulus clouds here and there. The breeze tugged on the wings, Sam counted down, and they ran downhill.
Jack had a lot of faith in her, but he still wasn’t sure it would work until it did. The air began to lift the wings and his feet left the ground.
“Told you,” Sam said behind him, close to his ear.
Jack was too busy piloting to reply, but she could gloat all she wanted as far as he was concerned. He aimed for the nearest cloud and rode the thermal up and up, spiraling. “Holy crap,” he said. “We’re flying.”
“First manned flight in history,” Sam said.
“Man- and womanned-flight,” he said.
Jack rode the southerly wind to the north. The glider bore them over hillsides studded with sheep, over a river and a grove of olive trees, over the dirt trail the mountain traders used to reach the coast. The glider’s shadow sped along with them, mutating as it traced over every obstacle. It had been so long since Jack had seen the world from anything higher than ground level, and no one, in the past or in the future, had ever seen the view he and Sam had now.
“It’s prettier than Egypt,” Sam said.
Jack agreed, and caught another thermal. He banked to the right, so they could check out the mountains. At home, he could only see dark swells on the horizon; now he could make out the shapes of the individual peaks.
He could also make out something worrying, and just as he noticed it, a cold, strong wind slapped him in the face.
“Left, left, left,” he said.
“Storm?” she said.
Jack nodded. Sam had picked a perfect day, but even she could never have predicted those near-black clouds peeking through a mountain pass. Jack had been living here long enough to recognize the typical storm pattern — over these mountains and southwest, straight into the coastal villages like theirs and on to the sea. The front was taking them with it, battering them as Jack tried to fly west. The light darkened behind them and the wind increased.
Jack pitched the nose up to start a choppy descent.
“I know, I see it.” They were coming up quick on the steel blue of an inlet. Jack pushed hard on the bar and aimed for a narrow stretch of beach. At the last minute they hit the sea breeze straight on and he managed to steer parallel to the shore.
Their feet slammed into the sands. The glider fell left, and that was the way Jack tried to somersault. The frame cracked, the harnesses came loose, and Jack landed on his back with an “Ooof!” Sam landed half on top of him.
His head hurt, and the broken frame dug into his side, but it was more nuisance than pain. The surf, not yet caught in the storm, nudged his shoulder. He felt Sam’s chest heaving and checked her ribs for damage.
She rolled off him so he could see her face. She wasn’t injured; she was laughing too hard to talk. Jack helped her up and they sat together, both laughing now, surrounded by the flotsam of Sam’s doomsday machine as the waves lapped at their toes.
“See?” she said finally. “I told you it would be fun.”
Jack threw an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close, just as the rains came.
Nirrugush ran home from the grazing fields, straight down the hill and across the stream. In the low entry to his family’s house, he said, gasping, “Uncle! I have seen a man with wings! He flew across the sun and into a storm and then he fell into the sea!”
His older sister teased him, his mother patted him on the head and told him he would be a good storyteller one day, and his uncle chided him for leaving the flock. But his younger cousins listened wide-eyed, and his grandfather said sagely, “A man who trespasses in the realm of the gods will surely be cut down.”