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Mine they are not

Money I have not

Rights I have not

Not not not not not....

What do I have? A really great guy, a great daughter, great friends, and an especially great TV! What more is there in life?

`Chimera' Conversations

by Linda Bindner

Hello - Denver Police Department - how may I assist you?

Hi - This is Colonel Jack O'Neill calling for the Air Force at NORAD. And this is...?

Lieutenant Lambers. How may I help you, Sir?

Oh, sorry for the intrigue - military SOP... er, Standard Operating Procedure... create a paper trail, no matter what... Um... Never mind. I have a few questions regarding one of our recent missions for Detective Shanahan. My intel claims that he works there...

Your intel is correct - Detective Shanahan has been with the DPD for several years.

Great! Is he available?

No, I'm sorry Sir, but the Detective is currently out on assignment. May I take a message?

Yeah, can you please have him call this number as soon as he gets in? 555-1766. And have him ask for me.

1766... Got it - I'll put your message on his desk and have him get back to you as soon as he's in.

Thanks a lot - you've been very helpful.

My pleasure. Good-bye.

Bye.

* * *

Hi. This is Colonel Jack...

Colonel O'Neill! Good to hear from you! This is Lieutenant Lambers again. How may I help you today?

Are you always the one to answer the phones, Lieutenant? And are you always so chipper this early in the morning?

Yes, and yes.

Well, that was succinct.

Sorry, Colonel - I guess my coffee was extra good this morning - it must have given me lots of energy. Is there something that I can help you with?

Eh... Have you tried out that new coffee shack over on 28th?

The one with the red sign out in front?

Yeah, that's the one.

I've been meaning to, but I haven't found the time yet. Why? Have they got something really good that I should try?

I don't know how you like your coffee, but a friend of mine who we secretly call 'Folgers Man' just got a Mocha Run for me and each of the rest of my team the other day, and I have to say that it was darn good, especially for coffee that strong.

Oooooh, I like a good strong coffee first thing in the morning. Starts the day off right.

Yeah, that's what he says, too.

What was that drink called? A Mocha..?

A Mocha Run. I haven't had time to try anything else there, but I plan to. Maybe a latte next time? Or an Espresso?

As long as it has chocolate in it, and the stronger the coffee, the better.

Something tells me that you would get on great with this friend of mine...

Is this friend of yours a guy, or a girl, and if he's a guy, is this person available?

As a matter of fact, he's a boy... man... and wow, does he need a life, even if it's just to discuss coffee. In the meantime, I don't want to keep you... I'm calling for Detective Shanahan again - is he available today?

Um... let me check my assignment sheet - see who's out and who's not... ah, here it is... Oh... Um... No, I'm sorry, he's out on a case right now, can I take a message?

Just that I called again, and to please call me back.

555-1766... right?

Good memory! That's the one.

I've got it - I'll see that the detective gets your message the minute he comes in to the office.

Thanks.

Any time.

* * *

Hi, this is Colonel Jack O'Neill, calling again to speak to Detective Shanahan. Is he free to come to the phone?

Um... No, I don't see him in the office, sorry Colonel. Is there something else I can help you with?

This is..?

Chief Cooper.

As in... Police Chief Cooper?

Yeah, I'm afraid most everyone else is either out on assignment or attending a seminar on firearm safety right now. But I can take a message for you if that will help?

Um... I'm beginning to get the feeling that the Detective is avoiding my calls.

I can assure you that one of my officers wouldn't do something as juvenile as avoid calls, Colonel.

Rrrrright... If you can just have him call me back at this number... 555-1766... I'd be grateful.

Certainly. I have your message. Thanks for calling.

Thanks.

* * *

Hello, this is General George S. Hammond from NORAD in Colorado Springs calling to speak to Detective Shanahan. I have some question to ask him regarding a recent mission that several of my officers have concerns about. Is he available at the moment to speak to me?

Um... I'm sorry, General, but the Detective is out of the office right at the moment. Is there something else I can do for you?

Then can I speak to Lieutenant Lambers?

This is she.

Ah, Lieutenant, my second in command, Colonel O'Neill, sends his regards, and wonders how things went with you and Dr. Jackson the other day at the new coffee house?

Oh, things went great, thank you for asking, General! May I say that Dr. Jackson knows more about coffee than anyone I've ever met!

And I bet you heard every bit if it, too.

I did, and actually, it was all quite fascinating. I had no idea that coffee is so well liked in so many parts of the world. He got me to try a Chicory blend this time, and it was surprisingly like the real thing.

I'm glad that you had such a good time, Lieutenant. I'll tell the Colonel that his suggestion was a success.

Thank you, General! And I'll be sure to leave the message with Detective Shanahan that you called.

Please do that. Thank you, and have a nice day.

Same to you, General - bye.

* * *

My name is Murray Teal'c calling on behalf of Colonel O'Neill at NORAD for Mr. Shanahan.

I'm sorry, Sir, Detective Shanahan is out...

Please inform the Detective that it is in his best interest to phone back this time, as this is the fifth time that we have phoned for him. He will not like it if we must phone a sixth time.

Uh... Yes, I understand.

You have the number?

Yes, I have the number. I'll leave him another message.

My thanks to you.

Have a nice day, S... Uh, Sir? Are you there? Sir? He must have hung up already. Didn't sound too friendly...

* * *

Hi, I'm calling on behalf of my CO, Colonel O'Neill. This is Daniel Jackson looking to talk to Detective...

Daniel! Long time no coffee!

Lieutenant Abby! Hey, listen, I'm sorry about not running into you lately - I've been so busy with...

You don't have to make excuses, Dr. Jackson. If you haven't wanted to meet me lately, then I understand.

No, it wasn't like that at all - I was on a mission off-w... out of the country when I realized that I had forgotten to tell you about how long we would be gone, and to drink a latte for me.

Really? Where did you go this time?

You know that I can't tell you that.

Can't blame a girl for trying.

But I did bring back a sort of coffee substitute with me for you to try. I don't think it will hurt you: the lab results claim that it's nontoxic.

Oooooh... if I had a nickel for every time I heard that line!

Are you joshing with me?

Of course I am! I wouldn't want the Colonel...

I knew this had to have something to do with Jack.

Only in the most periphery of ways. He got me onto the Java Jungle, and said to meet you there, that's all.

Really? Maybe I should bring him something next time I'm there to say thanks... like a Slammin' Soldier...

Isn't that awfully strong, though? Can he handle..?

Oh, Jack has a stomach of lead. Trust me, it'll be just the thing.

Okay, you know him best.

Oh, the reason I'm calling is to ask about...

Detective Shanahan.

That's right.

I just saw him walk into his office.

He's actually there this time?

Whether he wants to be or not. It'll be just a moment - Let me transfer you to him.

Hey, thanks Abby.

No problem. Here ya go. See you tonight.

You're on... tonight. And bye. Whispering, Uh, Jack? She's transferring us.

You're kidding? As in, there's really a detective named Shanahan who works at the police station in Denver? I was beginning to think he didn't exist. How did you do that?

You just gotta know the right people.

Shut up, Daniel. I'll take the phone... and stop smirking before I make you stop.

Oh, this is the real Jack O'Neill that I know and...

You love me, I know it. Thanks, Daniel. And stay in here - I might need more of your help.

Since...

Shhh! It's ringing...

Ring, ring, ring.

Shanahan here, how can I..?

Detective Shanahan?

Yeah. Who is this?

This is Colonel Jack O'Neill - Major Carter's CO. Perhaps you remember meeting me... at the mission?

Oh, um, yeah, how ya doin,' Colonel? Sam talks about you all the time.

Does she? Apparently she's managed to get a hold of you several times since your release from our Infirmary.

Um... yeah, Sam has shot the breeze with me a few times lately.

Wish I could say the same.

Um... Can I help you with something?

Yes. I have a few questions regarding that recent mission of ours where you were shot.

Yeah, that was weird, man. Ladies with glowing eyes, and all that. What was that mission about, anyway?

IIIII - can't tell you that - classified.

Hey, I know all about all that classified stuff. Sam told me a few things.

11C9, right?

Something like that. It had a lot of numbers - I was a bit out of it at the time... all those drugs, ya know.

Actually, I don't know. When I get shot, I don't let Doc Fraiser give me anything for the pain. I hear it clouds the head.

Riiiight. Um... You know something, Colonel, my partner just stepped into my office to tell me that a big lead that we've been waiting for just broke a case of ours wide open - I'm afraid that I'm going to have to run, and call you back.

No, this won't take too... Crap, he hung up. Well Daniel, any more bright ideas on how to get in touch with this guy who is clearly avoiding us?

Yeeeeaaaahhhh - I have an idea. But I don't think you're gonna like it.

* * *

Hey, Pete, hi, it's Sam.

Sam! Long time no hear!

Um.... Pete, we just talked for an hour yesterday.

Well - a day without hearing your voice is like a month of days to me.

What a sweet thing to say, really. How was your day?

My day? Oh, you know, caught a criminal this morning, ate lunch, did paperwork all afternoon - the usual. But the day sure is getting better now that I'm talking to you.

Ah.... and this is flattery.

Something that you don't hear nearly often enough, in my opinion.

Huh - I hadn't thought of it before. But wait - now that I think of it, Colonel O'Neill flatters me all the time.

Oh - him again.

What do you mean 'him again?'

Oh, nothing Sam, nothing. Just 'the end of the day shooting off at the mouth' kind of thing, you know...

Oh... tired?

Yeah well - not so bad.

How did that big break go on your case today? It must have worn you out.

Case? I'm not working on any case right now... that I know of. Is there something you know that I don't?

Um... no, no, nothing. I just overheard the Colonel talking to Daniel this morning. He said something about you and a case. Huh. I could have sworn... But I must have imagined it. That's not too much of a stretch, what with how tired I've been myself lately.

You know, they work you too hard, what with missions and things. You ought to ask that CO of yours for some time off - we could go out, or maybe do something else relaxing.

The reason I'm tired has nothing to do with my CO or missions. I stayed up again all last night working on... something that I can't tell you about. You know... classified.

Oh Sam, you can tell me - we're going out, after all.

You know that I can't tell you anything more than I already have.

Yeah, but I bet other spouses get the lowdown.

Actually, no, they don't, and you're not my spouse, anyway.

I could be...

Pete... uh...

I know, I know... what kind of a guy proposes over the phone...

Proposes? I admit that was one of the things on my mind just now.

I guess one way to look at it is that the phone's a great place for proposing - no messy facial expressions to distract you.

Yeah, there is that.

Are you laughing at me?

Yes. Are you teasing me?

Yes... sort of. So whatdayasay to the lifetime commitment thing?

Uh... Pete... I need some time to think about this... it's not like a small decision, after all, and we haven't really known each other all that long.

What? Are you saying that a whole month isn't enough time to know your own heart?

Now I know you're teasing me.

Okay, ya caught me. But if you say that you need some time to think things through about this... that's fine with me. Take as much time as you want.

Thanks for understanding, Pete.

No problem. But I want an answer ASAP, ya know.

You're teasing again... I can tell by the tone of your voice.

Am I that transparent? What can I say? You bring out the lightness in me, Sam.

I'm glad to know that - you bring out my lightness, too.

Yeah - thanks.

But I have some thinking to do for - you know. We better say good night now while I'm still awake enough to do it.

Don't go back to that lab of yours, Sam.

Too late - I'm already there.

Well, get out while you still can. And I know you... it's work work work with you if you're not careful. You need your rest... for thinking.

For thinking...

Yeah, that's right.

Okay, I'll go... think. I'll talk to you later.

It won't come soon enough for me. Bye, Babe.

Bye. Click. Sir, the way he talked, there was no case that he got a big break on today, just like you suspected.

Pwooooh. Okay... Definitely avoiding me, then. Can I call him next time using your home phone, like you just did?

My home phone again - why?

That way, if he gets the number, he won't know it's me calling, and he'll think that it's you, and at least answer my call.

But he doesn't have caller ID that I know of.

How about at his work number?

Nnnnnooooo. Not there, either, if I remember right.

Okay... no caller ID.

That I know of.

That you know of. But just trust me on this, kay?

Okay. If I may ask, Sir, if you call him, what do you expect to have happen?

Probably nothing. But if his work phone does have caller ID and you don't know about it - I mean, how often do you have cause to call him at work, after all? Then he'll think it's you calling, and he won't automatically avoid my calls.

Ah - gotcha.

Thanks, Carter. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize this thing you have with you and...

That's alright, Sir. It's not serious or anything... yet.

'Yet...' Are you worried that it's going to be so soon? Do I detect a hint of anxiety in your voice?

No Sir, not at all.

Come on Carter, this is me. I can tell when you're concerned about something... your left cheek around your eye starts to twitch in the pattern of that song, 'Come On, Be Happy.'

It does not, Sir!

No, it doesn't. But you're laughing... genuinely this time. That's gotta be worth something.

Yes, Sir. That's worth more than you know.

* * *

Pete! This is Sam.

Sam! What are you doing calling me at work again? Is everything alright?

Oh, yeah, sure, things are fine. Sorry about scaring you like that.

No problem, no problem. I'm glad that things are okay. But what's going on, Babe?

Um... I wish you wouldn't call me that.

What - 'Babe?' Don't you like it?

Um... Not really. It's just that I keep thinking of that Pig movie.

What pig movie? Do you mean 'Charlotte's Web?

Uh... not exactly. You do have the right genre, though.

The right what? Honestly, Babe, you and that big vocabulary of yours!

Oh... sorry... Half my brain's still stuck on my latest experiment, I guess. I'm still thinking in big words.

Yeah... You and those experiments! Hey, what has you calling me at work in the middle of the day?

Uh... I'm glad that you asked me that. There's someone here who wants to talk to you.

To me?

Yeah. Here - I'm handing over the phone...

Detective Shanahan?

Yeah... who is..?

Jack O'Neill here. Colonel O'Neill? I've been trying to get a hold of you for weeks, and...

This isn't your work phone. This is Sam's number. What are you doing at her house?

Momentary silence. Finally: How do you know I'm calling from Carter's house?

Uh... Oh, shit... Sorry for the language... No, that's alright, Dave, you aren't interrupting. Uh, Colonel? That was my partner...

Don't tell me - another big break?

Sorry... but we've been waiting on this for weeks... I gotta go. I'll call you back when I have more time to talk.

You do that. The phone suddenly disconnected. I don't believe it - He hung up on me again.

Carter looked at the floor in a guilty parody, as if she had been the one to run away from Jack's call just as Jack hung up the phone. She then stuffed her hands in her back pockets, an action she made only when something of supreme emotional import was bothering her. Her voice was small when she suggested, Maybe he had a valid reason for hanging up, Sir?

Jack blinked at the sense of reluctance oozing out of her. Yet he ignored how she was behaving in lieu of answering her query. He said it was another big break on a case. If a case exists this time, that is, he muttered.

Carter heard him anyway. Sir...

But Jack was adamant this time. A case didn't exist last time, Carter. You told me that yourself, he couldn't help pointing out.

But Carter was just as stubborn as he was. I know. It's just...

She paused, and Jack let the pause turn into a silence filled with enough emotional tension that it seemed to invade every space in her house. Finally he prodded, Just what? You feel like..? You want to give this schmuck the benefit of the doubt?

Carter gave an internal cringe at his use of the word 'schmuck,' but was stubbornly insistent. Well... Yeah, I guess I feel like I should. He's a friend of my brother's, after all.

Jack felt no such compunction. Yeah. And maybe brother dear needs to start looking in higher places in order to pick his friends. Then, without asking her permission, he began fiddling with the phone's receiver.

Confused, Carter stared owlishly at him. Sir, are you taking apart my phone?

Jack continued to work on the receiver. No, not the phone, Carter, the handset. At long last, the receiver split into two separate parts. There, got it. His gaze instantly zeroed in on a tiny black device stuck into one end of the receiver. He slowly pried it off, then lifted it up. His large fingers nearly engulfed the tiny piece of machinery. He stared at it as he held it up at eye level. And what do we have here?

Carter stared, too, not comprehending exactly what it was. What..? But slowly she mentally acknowledged the identity of the device. Is that what I think it is?

Yep, Jack announced in clipped tones. That's what you think it is... part of a wire tap. Your phone's been tapped, Carter.

Carter looked clearly confused now. But who could possibly even get in here to tap my phone? She went through the motions of thinking hard. The NID? she suggested. Her forehead wrinkled. But why would they want to tap my phone? Most of the time, I use my cell, at least for the work stuff that they would be interested in. They should know that I would never mention compromising material on an insecure land line like this one. She gave a weak gesture at her house phone. I know better than to do that. But, you'd think they would know that, too.

The Colonel's eyebrows rose. You'd think they would, he agreed.

Carter wrinkled her nose in thought. So if it's not the NID... then..?

Jack interrupted her. A bigger component of this phone tap might be connected to the wall socket. Maybe there'll be clues over there. He followed the line from her phone to her west wall. He spied what he was looking for stuck behind her television console. Yeah, here's the phone jack. Let me look inside it. Next, he pried it apart, only to be arrested by what he obviously saw inside. Carter, he quietly began. Who do you know who has access to wire tapping material that's the property of... He held the wire tapping device up to the window nearest him. Now I can read it more clearly. It says 'Property of... the... DPD.' Huh. He glanced at Carter and decided to play dumb for just a moment, to see what she would do with this information. Who or what would be the DPD? Do ya think?

Carter missed the sarcasm imbedded in his tone... missed it, or refused to acknowledge it. Um... She chose to act like she was deep in thought instead. Daily Protection of the Environment? She instantly negated her own suggestion, Jack was glad to hear. Oh, no, that's the DPE... wrong initials. At last, she pulled her hands from her back pockets to throw them into the air in a wave of defeat. I don't know.

Her 'giving up' had been quick... too quick to fool him. His tone was dry when he said, Answer me this: how did Shanahan know that I was at your house just now? And why did he hang up the minute I mentioned that fact? He sounded like he already knew the answer that he wanted, but was giving her an opportunity to tell him.

She disappointed him. You said that Pete had a sudden break...

Jack rolled his eyes. Come on, Carter, you're a genius. Surely you can see the writing on the wall, here.

There was a long silence as Carter considered what she would say. Finally she whispered something that he hadn't anticipated, Crap!

There was more emotional disappointment in that one word than Jack had heard from her in all the seven years they had worked together. In response to her emotion, his heart gave a painful twist. He didn't understand why she felt the need to swear, but still tried to comfort her with a gentle tone. Carter...

But she didn't want to be comforted just then. Yeah, okay Sir, she admitted in frustration mixed with aggravation. In a voice that sounded so strained that the words were practically forced out of her, she went on, whispering, I just didn't want to admit... Her voice trailed away as she was unable to voice her thoughts aloud. I have terrible taste in men. Her voice trailed away one more time.

'Hey! I'm not terrible... exactly,' Jack thought, but didn't protest aloud. To do so would be to assume that she had a 'thing' for him, and her recent relationship... thing... with Shanahan could be used as proof against that idea, couldn't it?

Instead of speaking, Jack continued on with his thoughts, 'Shanahan clearly has trust issues. And Hansen was pretty terrible. And Orlin's ascended. And Narim is dead.' Instead of making those observations to her, though, Jack chose to finish her previous comment for her. He softly noted, You don't want to admit that your boyfriend is doing a hot number on you. This had been what he'd wanted her to admit from the beginning, but there was more sorrow than triumph in his voice now as he asked, Is that what you don't want to admit?

She sighed in sorrowful defeat. Yeah, I guess that's it.

Jack sighed too. At last he said, Carter... He wanted her to stop silently berating herself for her bad luck with finding that 'right' man. Perhaps her luck was 'bad' because she had already found the 'right' man? He strangled that thought before it really got started. If he knew Samantha Carter, she was already berating herself over this Pete thing, and he did know her, and knew her well: She was the queen of denial when she wanted to be. She would skate around the issue instead of dealing with it head on, just as she always did.

Yet something in him also wanted her to tell him the truth, just once. You had to have known that the possibility of this lack of trust issue existed, right? he goaded, his voice still mercifully soft. Shanahan hasn't exactly been treating any of us on the up and up. Teal'c called him. Daniel called him. Even General Hammond called him. He huffed another breath. And I called for him three times! His voice then got marginally louder, slightly more emphatic. Yet only you ever get to talk to him. He went on, I mean, talk in a conversation where it comes out that he's been feeding us a line of... Jack hesitated to use the word that instantly sprang to his mind. At last, he said, Feeding us a line of... you know what... for quite awhile. He stared at her hard, willing her to say the words of truth that he could say as well, but wanted her to say with all his heart. But she remained doggedly silent. So he prodded, What do you make of that?

Carter, it seemed, was still thinking hard. But again, instead of noting the truth about this situation, like Jack hoped, she at last chose to speak plaintively, Sir... please.

Carter, pleading? Now Jack had heard it all.

She went on in the same mournfully begging tone as before. Can we talk about this some other..?

In one second, Jack grew sick and tired of all the 'avoiding' that she was once again trying to do. She had always wanted to avoid talking about emotional issues if she could help it. Much like him, he guessed, though she took 'emotional denial' to a whole new level. For example, she and he had never spoken about the 'it' that they had left in that room on base all those years ago, no matter how detrimental remaining silent had been to the both of them in the intermittent years. And she still wanted to keep 'it' tucked safely in that 'little room' so that she wouldn't have to deal with 'it.'

Jack, however, had hit his 'pretending' limit. 'It' existed, and pretending that 'it' didn't exist at all served no useful purpose at this point. No, I want to talk about this now, he firmly announced. Then he huffed. Shanahan... probably... had the opportunity to tap your phone... didn't he?

Remembering how Pete had left the house the first morning they'd spent the night together while she was still in the bedroom, naked, came to mind. Carter mentally cringed - Pete could have certainly tapped her phone that morning before he'd left, and as she didn't want to leave her room while naked, she would never have known about it.

Miserably, Carter nodded her head. Jack huffed a second time. This 'boyfriend' of yours who claims to care about you had at the very least the opportunity and the means to tap your phone, Carter! To spy on you! Jack paused, to see if she would say anything, either in Pete's defense, or about the truth, but she remained silent, so Jack continued, And this tapping device that I found near your wall claims it's 'the Property of the DPD...' as in 'Denver Police Department.' Jack paused again, but again Carter was still. Jack went on once more. As in... Oh, yeah, Shanahan works for the Denver PD! Carter hung her head, as if she were the guilty party here, not that... schmuck. Jack went on, Shanahan must have put it in your phone at some time or other, and you didn't even know it was there.

Jack was amazed - didn't Shanahan trust her? How could anyone not trust..? Hell, Jack had trusted Carter with his life for the last seven years! And now that he knew Carter as well as he did, he just didn't understand how anybody else could not trust Carter in the same way that he automatically did.

But, trusting or not, Jack glared at her, because she wouldn't admit to what Shanahan at least had the opportunity to do. She refused to see the obvious. Or at least, wouldn't say the obvious.

Carter remained silent once more, as if she wasn't even capable of saying something so disloyal about this Pete Shanahan. But Jack knew better - something had to have happened for Carter to stay clammed up like this. Yet he knew of nothing that had recently occurred that would have had such an impact on her...

Because... she hadn't told him, yet?

For just a second, Jack's heart froze over in his chest at that thought. His heart did keep beating in reality, but painfully and slowly. Yet, he swallowed, and ignored the sensation, telling himself that he was just being paranoid... again. Still, he wasn't completely successful at keeping away the expression of horror that wanted to leak across his face the second that thought accosted his mind.

She noted the expression on his face, and her own expression of guilt deepened. But to get rid of the guilt, why then didn't she just say something about whatever was causing her to feel that way?! The tension in the air could have been cut with a knife, though neither Jack nor Carter said a word.

Eventually, Jack continued by pointing out, Shanahan shows up at one of SG-1's personal ops... because he 'happened to be in the area.' Again, she didn't respond more than to look like he had just slapped her. Jack winced, but some urge inside him made him go on, an urge somehow linked to 'that room,' to 'that feeling,' that she refused to admit existed.

Crap! He was a part of 'that feeling,' too! Did he not exist, according to her? Did she not want to think of him in that way? He'd always thought of their shared feelings in 'that room' as an inconvenience before now. But he didn't want to be thought of as 'an inconvenience' any longer! It was as if he wanted above all else for her to admit that he, and her feelings for him, and his for her, existed, once and for all. Just how did Shanahan know that you 'just happened to be there' for him to stumble across during that particular mission? Jack stubbornly continued.

But Carter was also stubborn to the last. You heard Pete, Sir, he said that he...

Jack supposed that he should be more understanding of such stubbornness as hers - her being ridiculously stubborn reminded him of himself. But now he was more irritated than understanding. Yeah, yeah, yeah! he flippantly said, cutting her off. And I'm the Easter Bunny! he finished with a sardonic retort.

Carter's head jerked up so that she could look at him when his sarcastic words bit into the room. Sir... please! she practically begged.

Jack was unmoved - he had to turn a deaf ear to her pleading if he wanted a bit more from her. He wanted her to make some kind of vocal declaration - say that she knew what she so clearly knew, but wouldn't admit. So in turn his voice came out of his mouth hard edged and demanding. 'Please' what? She flinched again, and he immediately didn't like what he was doing to her, but he didn't stop. Please drop this? he went on instead. Then he said the words that they had both been avoiding. Please don't accuse my boyfriend of espionage?

But Carter tried her best not to let him do what he was doing. Sir! she stopped him, nearly reprimanded him with her chastising tone, even if he was her superior officer. It isn't like that!

Jack was not amused by her near reprimand. Shanahan wasn't worth a 'reprimand' in his book. So he answered with an equal amount of rancor in his tone as she had used in hers. It isn't like what Carter?

But Carter clung to her set course like she was mired in it. It isn't like Pete's doing espionage! she yelled.

Jack yelled back. It's not!? 'Cause that's what it looks like to me, Carter!

She tried again. It's not espionage, no matter what it looks like! He just..!

Just what!? Jack bit out. His patience with Shanahan, with her even, with this entire situation that was ultimately behind this entire event pissed him off. That damned 'room!' Those damned 'feelings!' He wanted to at least acknowledge that 'the room' and what was kept in there existed, even if he and Carter never talked about 'it.' Sam, however, was being...

He was going to think the word 'pigheaded,' but in that amount of time when his thoughts started to coalesce, Carter just... deflated. Pete... she began. Then she physically wilted again, as if this entire thing left her exhausted. It's not espionage... he just doesn't trust me, alright?

Jack gaped at her. Shanahan didn't trust her? Again, Jack looked closely at her. Her head was down, guilt and sorrow scorching her face. And... Were those tears oozing in her eyes? Tears of... fear? Was Samantha Carter really... afraid? Yeah, that's what she was, according to the intense terror he saw etched in the planes of her face.

But afraid of what? What did she have to be afraid of? How was it connected to Shanahan?

Except... Shanahan was undeniably connected to her attempt to keep that 'thing' in 'that room'... as if the Detective was acting like a distraction for her from 'that thing'...

And now, she was so frightened of this 'thing'... either with Jack, or with Shanahan... that she was practically... crying?

But the evidence was there for him to see first hand - tears, oozing from her eyes.

So, obviously she could admit to this bit about Shanahan not trusting her instead of vocalizing the real 'thing,' huh? Jack would have given an appreciative whistle if he'd been alone; she was obviously very scared!

Jack's voice softened as he reacted to the words she did say as if he had heard the words that he wanted to hear. How can someone not trust you? Jack continued to gape at her as she hung her head even lower. Jack quietly protested, Carter, you're the most honest, upright person on the planet. How can he not..? His voice trailed away.

Carter sighed, and after a long pause, admitted, There are... things... that I can't tell him - you know that. She sniffled.

Oh no, she was crying again... sort of... as much as Carter ever cried in front of her CO. Yet Jack had to point out, Shanahan knows that there are things you can't tell him - it's the nature of your job... all of our jobs. He's a cop, after all, and understands the point of 'classified.' Or, at least, Shanahan should know about that. His voice had lost the angry edge it had carried all this time, and now it just sounded sad to his ears. You know what? he continued. I've known about your need to keep things classified for seven years. He went on to note, In all that time, I've never once thought to tap your phone - not once - even in the beginning, when I didn't know you from anyone. Jack's voice echoed in the house. Shanahan's known you... what?... a month? he gently asked. She nodded, but didn't speak to confirm his question. Jack filled up the silence that followed. I want to make note of the fact that he's known you only a month when voila... we find a tap in your phone. He gave a pregnant pause. And what does that say to you?

But she wouldn't answer. Suddenly he felt tired... too tired to keep hoping that she would speak. It had been seven years! Jack told himself that if she was going to speak up about what she thought about him, and about 'that room,' she would have done so before now. But now she didn't even speak up about what she really thought about Shanahan. It was truly disappointing.

And, Jack considered, for the first time, she was disappointing.

But Jack couldn't force the words out of her. He could never do something like that to her.

Jack closed his eyes, admitting that through her continued and stubborn silence, she had won once again. Forget it - forget I said anything, he muttered in defeat. He gave an exhausted sounding sigh. Go back to your fantasy, Carter. I hear that it's a lot nicer there.

Jack rose from his crouching position on the floor next to her newly discovered wiretap, then turned towards the door, ready to leave, ready to admit to himself that he was leaving her to this... moron!... this... What an idiot Shanahan was to not trust Carter! To not fall in idolatry at her feet every second of every day! Shanahan had everything that Jack had ever desired for himself, he didn't know what he had, and he didn't have to fight this... 'thing'... the one in 'the room'... in order to get it. She talked to him - dealt with him...

So why the heck wouldn't she talk to her C... no, to Jack?

Disappointment again engulfed Jack. He'd thought that Carter was better than this... this silent... stranger. Obviously he'd thought wrong.

Jack's hand reached for the doorknob. His fingers wrapped around the cold metal in order to open her front door.

Jack... wait.

It was the unexpectedness of hearing his first name come out of her mouth instead of the more honorific 'Sir' that froze his fingers around her doorknob. Stunned, Jack slowly turned to stare at her. He tried hard not to scrunch his nose at her in amazement, to not look too interested in what she'd just said, but he didn't succeed very well. Carter? he inquired in a carefully nonchalant tone.

Carter looked brittle as she stood just inside her entryway, as if she was holding on to the world that she accepted by just the thinnest of threads.

That thread amazingly gave a twang when she again said, Jack... Her whisper was as loud in his ears as their previous yelling had been.

But Jack was still sooooooo tired. What? he asked as the exhaustion pervaded his voice.

When she looked up at him again, more tears shimmered just beyond her lashes. This is about more than just a phone tap, isn't it? She tilted her head, and instantly he was taken back to the time when he had stared at her through a force field, knowing that she was going to die, and there was nothing that he could do about it. He was helpless.

He could do nothing now, just like he could do nothing then. Nothing, that is, but to admit the truth, through just the expression in his eyes if need be, just like he had then. But that had proven to never be enough, not for him... not for her... So he answered in a low voice, Yes.

Carter barely glanced at him now, and he had trouble seeing the tears she still somehow managed to hold back. This is about... that 'thing'... Her voice trailed off.

She didn't say anything more. Silence wrapped around them like a shroud. Jack eventually gave up on her ever saying more, and he yanked open the door at her obvious reluctance to talk about that 'thing.' But he still didn't go out, though his intent to do just that was eminently clear.

So she would stop him, Carter gathered her courage, swallowed, then hurriedly added, I mean, the 'thing'... in... 'the room.'

There, that was more specific. But at the same time, not remotely specific. Yet the promise for her to say more was heavy in the air. Jack paused to give her every opportunity to continue.

Carter next blurted something that Jack had never expected to hear. Pete asked me to marry him.

Stunned, Jack could only blink while his mind churned in frozen astonishment. Hadn't she just been talking about that 'thing' in 'the room?' And now... where had this talk of marriage to Pete come from? When had that happened?

Jack had to clear his throat before he could speak. When... did he ask you... that?

Carter stared at Jack, agony to match his written in her eyes. Pete asked me earlier... over the phone, she at last told Jack.

That statement put an end to Jack's sense of agony. Rather, he was still agonized, but now he was amazed, too. The guy proposed... over the phone? he barked in incredulity.

Carter simply stood still and looked guilty again.

Slowly Jack noticed that she hadn't said how she had answered Pete's question, no matter how that question had been vocalized in the first place. He scowled now. And you said..? he probed.

Carter looked slightly ill. I told him that I need time to think about it. Her voice slipped into nothingness as she more fully comprehended what she was saying, and especially, who she was saying it to. That gave me time... to deal...

Jack gaped at her. You need time to think about it? he incredulously echoed. To deal..? His voice was so sharp it was like giving her a slap to her cheek.

Carter jerked her head to the side as if he had, indeed, hit her. She plaintively explained to Jack, It was all I could think at the time to say. She looked green as she spoke.

Jack too looked green now, as if she wasn't the only one who had undergone a proverbial beating. But... Carter never really 'dealt' with anything, at least, not emotionally. It was the way that Carter was - didn't Shanahan know that? To what end? Jack finally queried. Do you really need to 'think about it?'

Carter rolled her eyes. Of course not.

Then why did you say that? he questioned. Jack swung the door back to click against its frame, but he didn't shut it completely, as if he wanted to leave a chink for an escape in case he later needed it. Why didn't you just say 'no thanks, pal?'

Carter hung her head once again, and massaged her temples before crossing her arms in a helpless stance. I... She took a deep inhalation of air and began again. You... Finally, she peered up at him in misery. Her gaze skated over him to fix on the wall beside the door so that she wouldn't have to look straight at him. You never said anything... I'm not sure how you feel. And I'm not sure how much time I can give myself to answer Pete. She looked at him persuasively, begging again. I had to tell him something. She stopped, and her head dropped back down so that she was now staring at the floor.

Jack wanted to tell her that saying, 'Not in this life' was saying something, but then he more fully realized what she had said. I never told y..? Jack looked back at Carter, stunned anew. You didn't answer him because I haven't said anything? he repeated her in order to ascertain her meaning. But I don't have to say anything! he yelled in his mind. She already knows!

Carter flinched at the accusatory tone that Jack had used, but nodded in spite of the gesture.

At last, Jack pushed the door into its frame as he considered both her and what she had said. Actually, the look of awed frustration on his face turned his 'consideration' into something more along the lines of 'confrontation.' I never said anything, he repeated again, making his words form a statement instead of a question this time. When she nodded once again, he chose to retort, I notice that neither did you.

Carter scuffed the toe of her boot against her entryway floor, but didn't lift her head. I thought the whole idea was that we couldn't say anything? she whispered, sneaking looks at him, but not once raising her eyes to his. That we couldn't even speak of it? That we shouldn't? She took another deep breath, then blurted, We shouldn't be speaking about it now.

Jack was quick to point out, We haven't said anything. At least, not yet, he added. Nothing specific. Nothing incriminating. He went on, So actually, we haven't said anything. He paused. And there's no one to hear us say nothing, anyway. He paused again, this time with a look of suspicion on his face. Unless your phone isn't the only thing that Shanahan bugged.

Carter closed her eyes - that would be all she needed right now - to find some other listening device that wasn't supposed to be in her house. Pete had had the opportunity to install such a device, she acknowledged, and the know-how. At least she had to credit Jack for making that point. She stuffed her hands back into her pockets, the front pockets this time, indicating that she was still anxious about this situation, but not quite as anxious as would have been indicated if she had slipped her hands into her back pockets. She let a beat go by, then quietly asked, What do you think I should do? About the... Pete thing, she added as an afterthought.

At that question, Jack gaped anew, his mouth hanging slightly open. You even have to ask that? he grunted at last. And you're asking me? He continued to stand still by the door, poised in a stance of shock. Tell the jerk 'no!' screamed his mind, but Jack remained stubbornly silent, knowing that she would have to answer Shanahan's proposal herself, without his encouragement leading her to one response or another. How would he or she know that she meant what she said to Shanahan otherwise?

Carter closed her eyes again in a blink in order to absorb the daggers that were shooting out of Jack's own brown eyes at her.

But Jack wasn't finished with just what he had said with his eyes. Instead, he yanked the door open again. You must really want that 'normal' life that you've spoken about wanting lately to even have to take time to consider his phone proposal. You want it so much that you're willing to let that schmuck... He glared, his eyes once more turning to chips of ice. I don't believe this whole... thing. He didn't say I don't believe you, but it was written in the heavy scowl he was wearing on his face.

They simply stared at each other until Jack, trying hard to force his voice to sound nonchalant, broke the silence. So, you said that you need 'time'... though to do what, I can't imagine. Again, he gazed fixedly at her. She was still unable to meet his gaze, and he noticed it. She was nervous, as if she were truly considering Shanahan's crappy proposal... in spite of what she claimed.

Jack continued to gaze at her. He echoed, You told him that you need time... to think. I heard that part, at least. Jack continued to stare at her in bemused silence - she needed time - to think... about what? What did she really have to consider? Would she really consider the possibility of staying with that... jerk... when she already had feelings for Jack?

Would she? Really?

The thought again sent a chill coursing through Jack's chest.

But he couldn't say anything. Jack knew that she had to answer this... proposal... on her own...

And that she apparently needed to... think... about it.

At long last, he thoughtfully, added, You know, for the first time... He took a deep breath, but was unable to deny what he was thinking. For the first time, he repeated, I feel like you don't deserve me. He regarded her, waiting for her to respond.

But despite what he had said, and the import of his words, she still didn't say anything. She didn't do anything either, except flinch a bit at the harshness of his words.

At last Jack quipped, Have a nice life, Carter. With that, he jerked the door open and started across the threshold.

But as quick as Jack's reflexes were, Carter's were undeniably younger, making them that much quicker. She was out the door after him in a flash, wrapping her fingers around his bicep and pulling him around. I haven't said 'yes' you know!

Incensed, Jack whirled to glare at her. And yet, you haven't said 'no!'

You haven't given me a reason not to! she spat, glaring at him just as much as he was glaring at her.

For cryin' out loud! Jack heedlessly expostulated. Might I remind you that you just stated the fact that you think we shouldn't even be talking about this now - and yet you want me to... He shook his head in angry defeat. Forget it, Carter. I'm not telling you what to do!

Why not? she injudiciously demanded to know. You do in every other instance!

Jack's face reddened with the barely contained fury that had blazed up inside him in an abrupt conflagration of emotion. He moved so that he was staring into her eyes from less than an inch away as he again regarded her. That's. My. Job! he exclaimed, his voice dangerously quiet, yet plenty angry enough for her to understand the emotions contained behind the words.

Not in this instance! she retorted back at him. What do you want?

Jack again repeated her, What do I want? His voice was full of his disbelief that she still felt that she had to even ask that question. The same thing I've always wanted! he firmly told her, not more than half an inch from her face again. He went on, And if you have to ask something like that at this late date, then you haven't been paying attention!

Attention to what?! she demand. When I say that you haven't done or said anything, I mean that there's been nada, nothing, zip, zero... for years! She glared at him, her own face growing red in her own fury. How am I supposed to respond to that, Jack? How am I supposed to know what you think? By reading your mind?

Jack faced her in her front yard. Why not?! he challenged with a bite added to his tone. You've been doing it for years - why not now?!

Because it's not enough! she hissed at him. It's never been enough!

Jack's anger only increased at the half accusatory tone of her voice. Not enough???? Well, I'm sorry that I can't accommodate you right now! Jack yelled back at her. You want to play at the 'normal' life? he rhetorically snarled. Fine! Go have your husband and 2.5 kids in the suburbs - do what you want! You'll be bored to tears in a month! he predicted. Then he yanked his arm out of her grasp and marched across her yard to his truck parked on the street.

Carter followed him, and when he jerked open the truck door on the driver's side, she was right beside him. As he pulled himself into the seat behind the steering wheel, she quickly pushed the button on the dashboard for the hood release. When it clicked, she strode to his truck engine, threw up the hood, and, without remorse, used her pocket knife to help in yanking out or cutting through any engine part she could immediately find that would stop his truck from starting.

Not missing a beat, Jack jumped out of his truck, strode to the front of his vehicle, and whirled her to face him, trying to keep his hands away from the pocket knife that she was still holding. You're going to fix my truck, you know! he yelled at her.

But you can't go anywhere till we're done talking about this, so it's worth it! she hollered back.

In response, Jack yanked out his cell phone and pushed the speed dial button. Downtown Taxi Service? he asked into his phone. When he got an affirmative response, said, I need a ride.

In a movement so swift that it reminded Jack of the way Carter often handled the Goa'uld, she yanked the phone out of his grasp, then dropped it through his truck engine, where it landed on the ground right in the middle of a puddle of greasy water rippling on the street in front of her house.

For a second, Carter thought she had gone too far as Jack again stuck his face next to hers, his cheeks glowing bright red as fury and pain coursed through his eyes. So help me, Carter, I'll..!

You'll what?! she hollered back at him, holding her ground, making sure that she looked at him for all the world like she was as certain as a System Lord confiscating new territory. You know what I want, Jack! she shouted, though her voice was also as low as his. I want something that's impossible! And that's not my fault!

This is not impossible, and you know it! he ground at her through clenched teeth, gesturing between himself and her so that she couldn't mistake the fact that he was referring to the possibility of a personal relationship shared between the two of them. He did everything but give actual voice to his word of 'this.'

It is so impossible! she instantly negated.

No, it's not! he still insisted. It's impossible for both of us to stay on the same team at the same time we explore... Here he hesitated, and eventually said, It's impossible for us to both stay at the SGC at the same time we have... 'this!' We can't have anything but a professional relationship if we both stay, and we both know it! But we can have a personal relationship... if we're also willing to give up all those other things holding us back!

But our work is important! she argued.

It is important! he agreed in a blaze of fury. But so are you!

That statement seemed to make her pause for a second. But it was just a second. The regs..! she began to say.

The regs are something that's becoming a tired excuse, and you know it! Jack hissed. You want some reason to say 'no' to Shanahan? Fine! Tell that distrusting bastard that you can't make up your damned mind to save your life, but hey, you might..!

And that was when Carter's hand reached out to slap him, almost as if it had a life of its own. He thought for sure that she really was going to slap him for saying what he had just said to her, even if he thought of his words as speaking the bald truth.

But she stopped her hand from getting any closer than raising up to the level of his face. She simply stared at him, breathing hard from their confrontation.

After a minute of simply staring back at her, also breathing hard, but not moving away, he found his voice again. In a much softer tone than he had previously used since coming outside her house, asked, What are you doing?

Nothing, Carter answered in a sincere tone.

Jack warily eyed her hand that she still held in midair, waiting for it to either fall, or to connect painfully with his cheek. He deserved that connection, he realized, for saying the things he had said about his Carter, even if what he had said had been the honest to God truth. I can see that you're doing nothing, Jack eventually stated, his gaze never once wavering from her hand. But... what does that mean, you're doing nothing?

Carter continued to hold her hand in midair, but it was clear from the expression of concentration on her face that all her attention was now directed at an internal analyses. She continued her pause, still reviewing. Then, ever so slowly, in increments that Jack could barely see, her gaze refocused on him. I never do anything, do I? she at last asked with a sense of sadness and defeat in her voice.

What do you mean? Jack spoke harshly to her. What was she getting at? Of course you do things!

Carter gave a brisk shake of her head, as if his comment annoyed her for some reason. Explaining what she was thinking, she said, But I don't really ever do anything... about 'this,' do I? Her voice now held more sadness in it.

Jack wondered if she had 'discovered' what he hoped she had 'discovered,' but he didn't tell her what he wanted her to say. Instead, he chose to quote her words back to her. You just said that we really can't talk about 'this'... if that's what you're talking about. When she didn't say anything more, Jack finally hazarded to ask, Just what are you talking about now, Carter?

Her gaze not only focused on him, but she met his eyes. I'm talking about... us, she said, with only the slightest hesitation when she said it.

Her admittance made Jack blink. A bit late for that, don't ya think? he snarkily pointed out. You go from not even being able to say that there is an... us... to saying that you're thinking about it almost like you've been saying it for years. Jack sighed a sad sigh. Honestly, Carter, I can't keep up with your mood changes any...

She interrupted him. You said that I can't make up my mind about any of this. Her gaze sharpened even more on Jack. You're half right. I've never allowed myself to even think about 'this' before, to say nothing of doing something about 'this.' It was always too dangerous - it still is, really.

Jack's brows lowered. 'Dangerous?' he echoed. He didn't understand - 'dangerous' how?

Carter gave an almost shy nod. Her gaze skated away from him again, but she went on speaking in a subdued voice, If I ever let myself consider... 'this'... just once, I knew that there would be... be no.... consideration. I would... instantly... give in to 'it.' Wholeheartedly, she added. Finally she was able to meet his gaze again, and zeroed in on his eyes with renewed and single-minded intensity. She slowly lowered her hand as she said, So if I didn't even think about... 'this'... She blinked at him, then again, as if she were waking up from a long nap. It's time that we stop calling it 'this,' don't you think?

Jack gaped at her once more. She was changing her mood on him again, doing a complete 180 turnaround so that he felt himself tilt off-balance in a most unpleasant way. He continued to stare at her, at her pocket knife still in her hand, and finally stated, Actually, I'm very confused, Carter.

Carter noted the expression in his eyes, and suddenly remembered that he shouldn't be confused, as he was 'not that complex.' The words from her 'Jack' Prometheus hallucination filled her mind so completely that she almost wanted to laugh aloud. Instead, she tried to keep her face straight as she inquired, What do you find confusing?

You, he instantly stated. First you're barely able to even acknowledge that there could be an 'us,' then you tell me that Shanahan proposed to you over the phone, then that you tell him you need time to think about it before you can give him an answer, then that you can't tell him 'yes,' because of 'us,' only there is no 'us'... Jack's list trailed into silence as he stared at her, the confusion still in his eyes. Finally he stated, It comes down to what you want.

But surprisingly Carter shook her head. Not what I want, she firmly said. This is about what you want. Then she gave him a funny half smile. I already know what I want - after all, I'm not that complex.

Jack didn't quite understand why she was smiling as she made her last comment, but he couldn't wholly agree with it, either. You are sooooo complex, he immediately argued. Way too complex for the likes of Shanahan, or whoever your next guy is that you have lined up.

But not too complex for you? she asked.

I didn't say that.

You didn't have to, because it's true, she argued back to him. What to you want, Jack?

But Jack didn't answer her. He only gave a growl of frustration, irritated at her for once again turning the conversation back onto him. At the same time, his irritation turned to resolve. He gave a wild shrug of his shoulders, then patted his hand down in a sense of finality on the side of the truck hood that he could still reach. Okay, fine, he said in a voice that indicated his defeat of this situation. What I want is for this damned war to end so we can be left in peace. What I want is for you to not do this back and forth thing that you always do, but to definitively say 'I want you, Jack - no one else - just you.' I want there to be no friggin' regs in my life, holding me back from what I can almost reach, but not quite, can almost touch, but shouldn't, can almost have, but can't. He ran agitated fingers through his hair, making it all stand on end. I just want, he firmly ended. At last, he simply gave her a grim expression, and decided on the spur of the moment - at a time when he'd clearly gone insane - to bite the bullet and take this one chance that he was ever likely to get to be as honest as possible. What I want is you.

Carter paused for a brief moment while she looked at him, equally as grim. Then very quietly, but with the same amount of determination as he had just shown, muttered, How convenient, since I want the same thing as you.

Jack was immediately uncomfortable the moment that she spoke so specifically. His devilish streak quickly reared its head to deal with his discomfort in this scene - he may be in reach of exactly what he had spent years wanting, but that didn't mean that this entire scenario didn't scare him to death! So, tongue-in-cheek, he asked, You want you, too?

Carter grinned at the lame joke, but agreed with him anyway. Me is a fine thing to want, as long as it comes with you attached.

Jack took another moment to simply gaze at her, his heart in his throat, though he was desperately trying to cover up that fact. He was also trying not to grin, and was losing the battle. I think that can be arranged, he said at the same time his facial muscles rebelled against him to form a grin a mile wide.

Surprising him anew at her sudden forthrightness, Carter bluntly stated, Then let's take this inside where no eyes will see anything that they're not supposed to see. And I can tell a certain someone an answer to a certain question that should have never taken even as much thought as it did.

Carter swiftly aimed for her house once again, but Jack stopped her when he hesitated. Uhhhh... I hate to bring up seemingly unimportant matters at this juncture, as Teal'c might say... But can we lose the knife?

Carter gave a start, as if she'd forgotten that she was holding the weapon in her fingers. Oh, sure. She quickly replaced the knife back inside its metal case, then returned it to her pocket. She had already dropped the truck parts that she held to the side of the street, and now she kicked them out of sight behind a tire, lowered the truck hood, then slammed it home. Last, she promised, I'll buy you a new cell phone ASAP... at the same time I fix your truck. Then she smiled up at him through her lashes in wicked anticipation. In the meantime, I think we have some more... 'talking'... to do.

For a single second, Jack considered that, on the outside, she was again doing another 180 on him, and turning their entire guiding principle in life on its ear. But he dismissed that idea almost as soon as he had it. One look at Carter's just slightly naughty expression spurred him on to say, I'm as game for... 'talking'... as you are.

With another grin at him, Carter discreetly hooked the edge of her index finger through one of his belt loops, and without more thought or words to cloud the issue between do want and should want, she tugged him towards the house, where they disappeared together through the front door.

Epilogue

Several minutes later:

Pete? Hey, it's me again... Sam.

Babe! You said that you had to think about things - I didn't expect to hear back from so soon! I'm still at work, you know, still doin...

I've made my decision regarding the question that you asked the last time we spoke.

Already? That was quick, I gotta say. You must have been swept off your feet to make up your mind so fast.

'Swept off my feet' is a good way to put it, but I can't say that it was all that fast, either.

What are you talking about, Babe? We just talked about an hour a...

This has actually been years in the making, and I finally got my head out of my butt enough to realize that.

Whoa - your head..? Make sense, Sam, Babe, and I'll make sure that you don't regret it as...

I already don't regret it, Pete. The answer is 'no,' I can't marry you.

Wha..? Listen, Babe, you said that you needed time to...

Yeah, well, I lied, like I've been lying to myself for years. I want to marry someone I love, someone I trust, and who trusts me with their life. And the phone-tap you left behind last week definitely doesn't say 'trust' to me.

What?! Your phone's been tapped?! I didn't know you had such a dangerous job that makes people tap your phone!

Oh, this has nothing to do with my job, as you know. By the way, I'll be returning the tapping equipment in an envelope through the mail. And next time, I suggest that you not use a transmitter that is clearly marked with the initials 'DPD' on it - it'll be more difficult to trace that way.

Uh... Sam, take a minute, we've had so much fun...

Your kind of 'fun 'is over. I'll not see or hear from you again, or I'll have to kick your ass. Good-bye.

Sam... wait! Don't say anything to... It could mean my job!

If you care about your job so much, try trusting a few people who are important to you.

Wish it was that easy... I gotta ask... What are you going to do now?

Now? Oh, I think I'll invest some much needed time in my future. And I'm looking at that future right now. Good-bye, Pete.

Click

During the months that Colonel O'Neill was frozen in the wastes of Antarctica, and Carter desperately tried to bring him back to her, to convince the Asgard to help with the current SGC problem, to convince the SGC itself to continue working on that problem and not to give up... Through it all, she kept remembering that scene in front of her house between her and Jack, kept that memory alive as much as she wanted to again bring him to life.

But now that memory wasn't tainted with nearly as much regret as it could have been. They'd 'talked'... a lot... and said everything that either wanted to say.

And that made all the difference.

The End


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