Disclaimer: Don't own them. Darn. I didn't even make any money off of this story.

Weekend Conversations

by Linda Bindner

'Friday night at the movies' in the Colonel's living room was drawing to an end. Sam could feel the close of the evening as the four members of SG-1 rose from the floor and began shuffling to the door. The three visitors each grabbed a coat from the coat rack on their way out.

Hey, Jack, thanks for letting us crash for awhile, Daniel was saying as he and Teal'c headed to Daniel's car parked in the drive behind Jack's pickup truck.

Yes, may I offer my thanks as well, Teal'c said as they drifted away into the dark, cold night air.

No problem, Jack yelled after them. Any time... and I mean that!

Sam Carter followed as her team mates passed Jack and into the cold embrace of winter. Thank you, Colonel, and good night! she said as she went by.

Jack piped up, Drive carefully, Carter; there's more snow forecast for tonight or tomorrow. Won't do anyone any good if you turn up buried in a snow bank.

Sam laughed at the image that rose to her mind of being buried up to her neck in a fluffy, white drift. That is not high on my priority list!

Jack grinned. Take care, and good night!

Good. He was keeping things light between them. Have a good night yourself, Sir, Carter was able to call as the security lights flickered on for the second time in the last minute, and lit a path for her to follow to her car. She noticed that Jack didn't close his front door until they had all successfully backed down his snowy driveway and pulled onto the street. Then, he disappeared as the headlights dimmed and grew faint in the snowy night.

Five minutes later, Sam was sitting at an intersection, waiting for a car to drive by, when she gave a start. Damn... forgot my purse, she muttered. It wasn't much of a surprise that she had forgotten the purse, as she usually didn't carry one. But, she'd thought that on this one night, she could be frivolous and leave her more typical backpack at home, and take one of the many purses she had received as Christmas and birthday presents over the years. Now, she was in a quandary because she had forgotten something she normally didn't even carry. She considered just leaving it at the Colonel's house for the rest of the weekend, then asking him to bring it to the SGC on Monday morning. But then, she thought about the fact that she had removed here wallet from her pack and stuck it in her purse earlier that evening, and that wallet in turn held her credit cards, all her cash, her picture I.D., her driver's license... She couldn't go an entire weekend without her driver's license!

She turned right in order to go around the block and swing back in the other direction to return to Colonel O'Neill's house just as fat snowflakes drifted down from the sky to obscure her view.

A few moments later, Carter pulled back into the Colonel's driveway and parked her car behind his truck. She jumped out and would have jogged up the sidewalk to his front door, but didn't want to fall on any black ice that lay hidden under the snow that was quickly covering his walkway. So she picked her way forward, and climbed his front step just as she began to question the wisdom of returning to his house at all; the snow was coming down awfully fast to cover his sidewalk so neatly.

Sam knocked urgently on his front door. She hoped that he hadn't gone to bed for the night, and could hear her pounding. Maybe she should call out to him as well?

Just as Sam was taking a breath for the yell she intended to add to her gloved banging on his door, the door was yanked open and suddenly Jack appeared, a bit rumpled, and highlighted by the blue color coming from his television.

He seemed surprised to see her again, and so soon after she had left. Carter! he exclaimed. What's up? he asked as his greeting. Then, without her having to utter a word, he knew what had brought her back to his house. You forgot something, he stated.

Yeah, I forgot my purse, she told him, feeling foolish even as she said it. I know it's dumb thing to forget, and so cliché, and I thought about having you just bring it in on Monday, but it has... Well, it has my everything in it, and with the snow you mentioned maybe falling tomorrow, I thought that I might have trouble getting here again... Though it looks like the snow is a bit on the early side in showing up. She glanced once more at the skies in the areas of the security lights. Sorry - I think I left my bag on the floor by the coats... I'll just grab it and run.

Jack bent to retrieve the purse she had so negligently forgotten. Here you go, he said, just as a peel of thunder rumbled across the sky.

Geez! Sam jumped as she said it, then glanced up at the darkened sky. Thunder snow.

Jack peered cautiously over her shoulder. It hasn't done that in Colorado Springs in years. He stared at the fluffy, white flakes falling onto the hood of her car, then slowly announced, You know, if I send you out again in this, I'll be spending the next two hours worried that I had been a total fool to send you anywhere in such a storm.

No, really, Sam instantly protested. I'm sure I'll make it to...

Jack interrupted her again, still peering over her shoulder and looking more concerned by the second. No, I'm not so sure... I'm even a bit worried about Daniel and Teal'c, now...

Sam grinned disarmingly. You wouldn't let a little snow stop you, would you, Sir?

Normally, no, Jack answered, still thoughtfully glancing at the sky. This time, however...

The grin slid off Sam's face as he suddenly disappeared inside. She followed him into his front hall and closed the door. Jack stood in the middle of his living room, TV remote in hand, watching the Weather Channel with more interest than she had probably ever seen him display.

A moment later, Jack had flipped open his cell phone, dialed, then listened to a second phone ringing in the night. His face showed relief as someone at the other end of the line answered after a few rings. Daniel? he asked. You and Teal'c all right? He paused, listened intently, then nodded. Well, don't leave the base until this has a chance to blow over... No, Carter's here... She's okay... Forgot something, and by the time she got here again, her car was practically a different color from all the snow that... Yeah, sure, I'll see you on Monday... That is, if we can get out of here ag... Yeah, take care, and be careful... See ya.

Jack shut his cell phone and turned to Sam still standing in his hallway, making an ever larger puddle with her feet on the hardwood floor of his entryway. Daniel and Teal'c made it to the base, and Daniel's just gonna stay there tonight. He doesn't think he'll make it to his apartment. Another peel of thunder rattled the windows behind him. Wow! he said, startled. It must be one heck of a storm! He turned off the TV and crossed over to the window in order to gaze at his side yard. Look at it come down! He was silent for a moment, then said, You might as well take your coat off, Carter. There's no way you're driving home in this... Wind's already picked up... I think it's drifting.

But I can't spend the night! Sam exclaimed, suddenly horrified.

It's okay... I have a guest room...

No! Sir... You don't understand! Sam tried to collect her scattered emotions so that she would stop making insane outbursts. She smiled hesitantly, and, much more calmly, tried to explain, How would it look if my car's still in your driveway tomorrow morning? It was a rhetorical question. I can't stay here to...

And think how I'll look if I let you leave now, the Colonel responded. Nope, no matter what it may look like, I think you need to stay here.

Sam protested again, But, Sir...

No buts, Jack instantly declared. Staying here is better than being dead and buried in a snowbank somewhere between my house and yours, he direly announced.

Sam sighed, then removed her gloves, and shrugged out of her coat. I'm not so sure, she muttered, but hung the coat obligingly on the coat tree near the door, then removed her shoes so that she wouldn't track snow throughout his house. When she was finally ready, she joined him in staring out the windows at the rapidly falling snow. You're right in that it really is coming down, Sam conceded a moment later. She shivered in spite of the sweater she was wearing.

Jack noticed. But, then, of course, Jack would notice, as he was more attuned to her moods than she ever admitted to herself. You cold? he asked, his voice kind.

A kind voice was a dangerous voice. Sam gulped. No, I'm fine, she assured, though a bit squeakily. She coughed. It's just good to be warm again. I wasn't outside for very long, but it's darned cold out there!

Do you want some coffee or something hot to drink? Jack asked. It might be the last time we can make coffee if the power goes out.

Sam smiled at his sense of generosity, but shook her head. No, thanks, I'll leave the coffee drinking to Daniel. I'll be fine in a minute, after I sit down and relax, I think. With her statement, she crossed over to his sofa, and plopped down on the end nearest the warm fire in the fireplace.

Jack walked over to the sofa, and pulled off the blanket lying on its back, and handed it to her. Here, bundle up if you need to.

Sam caught the blanket he handed to her. Thanks, she said, and curled her feet under her. Then, she threw the ends of the blanket around her shoulders. I am a bit colder than I thought.

Another silent moment went by, then Jack said, Well, what do you want to do? We could watch another movie if you want. He pushed a button on his remote. Or not. He rose from where he was sitting on the other end of the couch and crossed to a light switch on the wall to give it a flick. Nothing happened. Power's already out, he said. Must be a tree limb down on the line somewhere. He returned to his side of the sofa and settled onto the cushions with a groan. Should have taken me up on that coffee while you had the chance...

Sam giggled at his comment. I didn't want to watch another movie or drink coffee anyway. Talking is okay with me, I guess.

Talking. Jack leaned forward to look at her. He could just make out her face in the small amount of snow glare that shone through his windows. What do you want to talk about?

Sam stifled a second laugh. I think there's not much new going on with the Tok'ra.., she conversationally commented.

Jack really let his groan slip out this time. The Tok'ra! he exclaimed. No offense to your Dad, or anything, Carter, but I can't say that I'm overly fond of them after that armband incident of Anise's a few years ago, or that whole Kanaan thing.

Sam sighed again at his nonchalant mention of his torture at the hands of the System Lord Ba'al. There aren't a whole lot of good feelings between you and the Tok'ra, are there, Sir?

Jack had to shake his head at that comment. No, there aren't, he said. And are you going to call me 'Sir' all night long, Carter?

Are you going to call me 'Carter?' she asked back in the same teasing tone that he had used.

Jack sank deeper into the cushions. Good point, good point.

Okay, Sam announced. I'll call you 'Jack' if you call me 'Sam'

Oh, Major, you drive a hard bargain, Jack said, still teasing.

No 'Major,' either, she warned.

Then there's no 'Colonel' he warned back.

She hesitated at the stipulation, but finally agreed. All right... Jack.

There, that wasn't so hard, was it... Sam? He playfully stressed her name.

She laughed and flipped the edge of the blanket at him. Will you be serious for one minute! she demanded, still teasing.

I'm plenty serious on off-world missions... Last I checked, though, it was the weekend... Two whole days of nothing but on-world relaxation.

All right, all right... God, you have such a wicked sense of humor, you know!

Jack grinned, and she could see the flash of his teeth. Thanks! I try, he said. She was all too familiar with his sarcasm and commentary that passed for his brand of humor. Still, she was surprised when he went on to say, You can admit it... You love my comments, or you wouldn't smile at them so often.

The surrounding darkness let her make her own comment, They're not always made in the most appropriate of circumstances, though.

But those kind are the best kind! Jack protested on a laugh, and she joined him.

Their laughter died, and a silence settled over them. Sam picked at a rough spot on the blanket thrown around her shoulders, trying to draw together her courage, enough to say, There is something that I've been wondering about, I guess.

What's on your mind? Jack's voice rumbled out of the night.

Well... Sam stopped herself, and for a second all they could hear was the scrape of snow against his windows.

Jack must have tilted his head in curiosity. What?

Sam wondered if she dared to broach this subject at all, but the darkness and the surreal quality of the snowstorm encouraged her to say, Well... I was thinking the other day...

Yeah? When are you not thinking...

Again she hesitated. Slowly, she went on, What do you think... Then, she blurted, Do we use the Air Force Fraternization Regulation as an excuse, or do we follow it out of a true sense of duty?

Silence again greeted her, and she internally berated herself for asking such a personal question in the first place. But they so rarely talked about their feelings for each other, and she so wanted to talk about them to someone... anyone...

Finally, he quietly said, You don't hold anything back once you decide to say something, do you?

Gently, she admitted, I don't see the point... Jack.

He sighed, the sound filtering to her from the other end of the couch. What do I think? he repeated.

Yeah, she said. I'm just curious.

Jack sighed again. I guess I'm not sure, he told her. What do you think?

That's not fair... I asked you first.

Oh, and it's 'fair' that you've had days to think about this while I get a few minutes? he sarcastically asked.

Good sarcasm in that answer, she appreciatively said. Ten points for showing that sense of humor of yours again.

Sam, he said in irritation. Don't change the subject.

Was I changing the subject? she innocently inquired.

You do that all the time, the second anything gets personal.

I do not.

Yes, you do, he told her.

I...

Sam! Jack's harsher voice halted her. More gently, he asked again, What do you think?

Immediately, before she lost her nerve, she said, We're both scared as hell. That's what I think.

Jack was quiet once more, then asked, Scared? What do you mean?

Again, Sam hesitated. This is only a theory...

Tell me anyway, he growled.

Okay. Sam tossed her hair out of her face. We've never really talked about this...

You never seem to want to talk, Jack told her right away.

Sam couldn't disagree with his assessment of their situation, but her heart rate doubled at hearing the idea put into words. I'll try to be...

It's not a criticism, Jack said, his voice still soft. It's just a... a comment, he said at last.

Sam rolled her eyes. An accurate comment, she told him, remembering her wish to just 'leave it in the room.' It's so much easier not to say anything, but...

But you want to talk about it at the same time, Jack guessed, finishing her statement. Am I right?

Sam shrugged, then remembered that he probably couldn't see the gesture in the darkness. Well, yeah, I guess. Sometimes it feels like I'm going crazy, that I need to finally say something, but I always chicken out at the last minute.

She could hear his smile as he softly said, I can't even see you in the dark... Now would be as good a time to say something as any other time...

You think the dark has... I don't know... Encouraging factors? she asked at last.

Yeah, I suppose it does, Jack told her, the ound of a shrug in his voice. It's kind of like when we were stuck in the 60s... Remember?

What do the 60s have to do with this?

Different clothes, Jack told her right away. Different surroundings... Everything was just... different, he ended. We were on a mission, yes, but we went about it in a more relaxed way... That was the most fun I'd had in a long time...

Sam smiled at her own memory. Yeah, that was a good time.

The best, Jack announced.

But... Scared? Remember?

Ah, Jack said, as if her reminder brought back unpleasant thoughts. So much for the relaxation of the 60s.

Sorry, she said, sounding contrite. But there we go again, getting sidetracked and changing the subject.

Avoiding, Jack announced. The brass should give medals in that category.

We would win every time, Sam said. She paused. There we go again, changing the subject...

Jack sighed. We can't even talk about this...

You can hardly blame us, Sam told him with a light chuckle. We don't exactly have much practice at this, do we?

Jack didn't disagree with her. We spend a lot more time trying to fool everybody around us.., he confessed. Or, at least, I do.

So do I, Sam told him.

There's no one to pretend for here... in the dark... in a snowstorm...

What do you think would happen if things changed? Sam suddenly blurted. I mean, would there be a court-martial, or what?

Jack sighed once more. I don't know. I guess that would be contingent on anybody complaining about how... how we choose to behave at work.

But we've already proven that we can be very professional about this, Sam pointed out.

True, Jack conceded. But there's always that one person who isn't happy no matter what happens.

You're right... that's a risk, Sam said, and gave a sad sigh. They were both silent again. Finally, her brow wrinkled in thought, and she inquired, Is it worth that risk, do you think?

Jack quietly stated, Yes, I've always thought so.

But a court-martial...

Would a court-martial be so bad? Jack asked, then explained, I mean, it would be bad, but... I know that your Dad and you have all these expectations about your career and all... And I certainly don't want to...

Sam couldn't stop the snort that exploded out of her mouth. That's my Dad, mostly, who has my career mapped out like a line on my hand.

But no one will argue that it seems like you love your job, Jack noted.

No more than you love yours, she said. Or are we using our jobs just as more excuses?

Daniel would say 'yes' without even thinking... Jack shifted on the cushions; she could hear his rustling movements. What if we feel like things aren't working out in the end?

What if we feel like they are? she said right away.

My point is that we still have to work together on the same team.

I could ask for reassignment, or you could retire, if that's the case, she suggested.

Is that what you want to do? he queried. 'Cause I'm not sure I want to retire... There's too much left yet for me to do.

And we work so well together...

Hey... not to change the subject, or anything... but changing the subject... Have you ever gotten the feeling that we can read each other's minds? Jack asked suddenly. So often, I don't have to even give an order before you're doing exactly what I want you to do. That's never happened to me on a team of mine before.

Have you had other teams under your command, then? she asked.

One or two, Jack told her, but didn't add any more information.

The roll of her eyes sounded in her voice. I know, I know... It's top secret.

Well, it is, he protested. But at least I know that you understand the concept of 'top secret.'

Maybe I understand it too well, she sardonically said next.

There we go... Another change of subject... God, we have got to cut that out!

Sam ruffled her fingers through her hair in annoyance. Maybe we can't help ourselves.

It's just a... What is the psycho mumbo jumbo phrase for what we're doing? he asked himself. Then he said, Defense mechanism! That's what we're using! You know, to make ourselves feel better.

Well, it must work like a charm, Sam said. That's what I automatically want to do.

That's just what we can't do, though, Jack stated.

What should we do about it, then? Sam asked.

Jack didn't say anything, but a moment later, Sam felt his fingers curl around hers lying on the back of the sofa, and she gave a start of surprise at his actions at the same time as her heart rate sped up inside her chest. He gently, softly, delicately said, I guess there's nothing we really can do about it... except this. His fingers tightened around hers. Take a chance, a risk...

Fear started to worm its way through her mind, but Sam consciously chose to squeeze his fingers back, refusing to let go. The sensation of his hand on hers felt much better than it should. I don't exactly have a good track record at this kind of relationship stuff.

And mine's so much better?

At least you weren't engaged to a man with a God complex, she said.

I hear that God complexes are highly overrated, Jack commented, and she laughed. His hand now covered hers completely.

That feels ridiculously good, she told him then.

Doesn't it? he asked in agreement with her.

I don't suppose it would feel so good if someone hadn't told us that it wasn't such a great idea for us to even be around each other...

You know what, Sam? Jack interrupted. You think too much. It's not good for you.

You're not the first person to tell me that, she said, even as he pulled on her hand until she had to either move and lean into him or fall off the sofa.

That's better, he announced, his smile coming through in the sound of his voice.

Sam heard him grin... But his heart beat... I have my hand right on your chest, and your heart must be racing.

Is yours?

Sam swallowed the fear building again in her throat. Yeah, she admitted. I'm trying to stay calm so that it will slow down.

Any luck?

Not a bit. It was her turn to sigh this time, and she let her head fall forward until the skin of her forehead touched the plaid shirt she knew he was still wearing. She tried to relax, but found it to be extremely difficult. This is so much harder than I always thought it would be.

Jack laughed, and Sam felt the gesture radiate through her forehead. Sam, you're such a...

Such a... distraction? she asked. A bother?

Who on Earth have you been talking to lately? he asked then. I was going to say 'wonder,' but you stopped me.

Sam grinned. My Dad can tell you a few things about how wonderful I'm not.

Well, excuse me, but I'm not your Dad, and I wouldn't listen to anything he has to say about you, anyway.

Thank goodness you're not my Dad, Sam commented. He thinks he knows everything about everybody, but I don't think he does.

Sam, Jack softly said, so that it wouldn't sound like an order. I am not your Dad, and I never will be, just like you will never be my Mom...

She shuddered just at that thought... Jack, Sam cut him off, screwing up her courage, taking a firm hold on her natural reluctance. Are you going to sit there and ramble all night long about our parents, or are you going to kiss me?

His fingers moved to her cheek, where his thumbs rubbed in circular patterns of affection. Am I changing the subject again?

Yes, and please stop, she said, grinned, then leaned up and forward even more until the scent that she had always associated with Jack O'Neill filled her head as a buzz consumed her hearing.

She was just able to hear Jack, smiling, say, I think I want to kiss you, then.

She ignored everything except the sound of his voice as he murmured that statement in her ear. In response, her breath washed once across his cheek, so that she could feel him, sense him. She leaned in even more until her lips finally found his in the dark and she languidly gave him their first kiss.

It was like they each received a jolt of power... Shock waves engulfed them. Jack's stomach suddenly twisted and shivered as he strained to move closer to Sam, in spite of her unexpected nearness that was already driving him insane...

Sam slowly drew back to stay within an inch of his cheeks... he could feel the sweet warmth of her as she breathed air across his face. Wow, she whispered.

More? he asked.

Oh, yeah, definitely, she answered, grinned at him in the dark, then kissed him again.

His fingers wove through her hair, then she felt his arms sliding around her waist in the lightest of embraces as he deepened the kiss, leaving now doubt whatsoever of the desire he felt for her, even as the same sensation built incredibly fast to bloom in a heat that engulfed her entire body.

Jack's lips left hers only to glide across her cheek, then down to her neck. She craned her head back, and jumped as he softly, gently, bit at her skin. By now, the passion deep inside her had built to such a level that she was tingling, and panting, and wanting, and needing... Jack, she whispered as he kissed her neck. Don't stop...

Sam, I...

She interrupted him. Feeling that her eyes had glazed with her desire, she whispered, I...

Suddenly, he pulled her up from her sitting position on the couch and into his arms. I have wanted to feel all of you against me for years. He held her tight, pulling her into him until not a wisp of the cool air inside the house seeped between them... But... That bulge against her stomach..?

That's not your side arm, is it? Sam asked accusingly on a giggle.

Jack couldn't contain his grin as he answered, No, it's not, and I'm not ashamed to admit it this time, either.

Sam didn't say anything to his comment, but she did lift his shirt until she could kiss his breast as lightly as he was holding her.

Jack sucked in a breath. Sam.., he groaned.

But Sam wasn't waiting for anything at this point. Her mouth skimmed across his chest, igniting his skin until his heart pounded and she could hear his own desire when he said, Sam... I can't seem to get enough of your touch...

He kissed her again. Then, without another word, he led her purposefully towards his bedroom.

It took only moments to remove each other's clothes, and for Jack to gently lower her to the bed. Their desire for the other had built to such a fever pitch by then that it was only a few more moments before Jack slid into her, filling her up in a way that no one had ever filled her before...

Oh, God... Jack! Sam moaned as he moved, once, then twice, gliding against every secret place she had in her soul. Her whisper split the night, God, how I love you!

Sam... I l... Jack began to say. Then he couldn't make a sound as his world split in two. She shivered, stopped, then was consumed by the same waves again, bringing him to a shuddering completion of his own. Sam..! he whispered, and groaned into her shoulder as she threw her head back on to his bed covering, clenching her teeth as her own moans sounded closely under his.

The wild, pounding sensation inside them was gone. Jack panted for breath against her warm skin, breathing in her scent that still clung to her shoulder. He listened to her heaving for air, and felt the sporadic pulse of her heart. Are you alright? he asked, thinking that so much emotion might have caused some major damage to himself, so it only stood to reason that he should be concerned about her as well.

I feel... wonderful, Sam whispered. I've never felt more relaxed... Though I think I'm getting a little cold now, she commented in a casual, offhand manner.

Jack reached up to loosen the blankets under the pillows on his bed. Here, crawl under the covers... I'll find some more blankets, since the electric blanket on my bed will hardly be any good without any power tonight...

Shivering, Sam dove under the blankets on his bed while he walked to his closet and pulled down two more blankets from the top shelf. In moments, he had spread them over the thin and useless electric blanket already on his bed, and he had curled up next to Sam as fast as he could. My favorite part, he told her, grinned, then fitted his head back alongside her head and kissed her on her shoulder.

Snuggling, she finished for him, smiling, feeling the warmth that was spreading from him into her, and she burrowed closer to his naked skin. Mmmm... I have to say that I like this part, too. Then, she was asleep, curling into the natural warmth of his touch.

The sunlight that tinted Jack's bedroom window a deep crimson gold woke them slowly from the best sleep either had known in years. Blinking against the light, Jack slowly made out the bulk of his familiar furnishings, then took in the feel of the woman in his arms. Just as slowly, Jack smiled a huge smile that displayed more satisfaction than he'd ever shown before.

Stil grinning bigger than the village idiot, Jack kissed her on her shoulder. Morning, he whispered, his voice gruff with leftover sleepiness.

Mmmm. Sam stirred. He hugged her closer, and felt Sam's arms tighten around his own waist. Perfect, she declared in her soft voice.

Jack wondered if she thought that he was perfect, their situation was perfect, or the night they had just passed had been perfect.

All of it, Sam whispered on a sigh of pure contentment.

Jack kissed her lingeringly on her arm, and growled, Things are about to get even more perfect. He rolled her to face him, and he kissed her deeply, possessively, lovingly on her lips.

They made love for a second time in his bed, the morning softly gliding over them like another of Jack's caresses.

Sunlight, Sam noted when they lay again in its golden glow, spent and catching their breath. Last night's storm must be over.

I wonder how much snow it dumped on my driveway, Jack commented, but drew her closer to him instead of getting out of the warm bed in order to find out. I'll have to shovel all that snow, he told her. I can think of other ways that I'd rather spend my Saturday morning, he suggestively said, then grinned at her.

Sam couldn't stop the giggle that worked it's way up her throat. When had she started giggling? she wondered to herself. Aloud, she said to him, I'll help... I'll do the sidewalk while you start on the driveway.

Then let's have hot chocolate in my kitchen, Jack announced decisively, just as decisively as he directed his team on their off-world missions.

Fifteen minutes later, after a shower that they admittedly shared, they were in Jack's kitchen, eating Fruit Loops, the only cereal that Jack owned, to which Sam thought was extremely weird. Then they were outside, bundled up against a cold that was unseasonably wet, and Jack was busy with shoveling off the driveway behind Sam's car while Sam was kept occupied for most of an hour while she shoveled the snow off Jack's walkway and tossed it to the side in ever-increasing piles of white fluff. They shared a companionable silence, working in tandem, whether they knew it or not, until Sam realized that the sooner she and Jack finished clearing the snow, she would no longer have a viable excuse for staying. So she stood and watched him work for a few moments, enjoying the sight of him throwing the snow over his shoulder and into the yard, making it look like an effortless endeavor with arm muscles that didn't seem to tire. Thinking of those tireless muscles, Sam flexed her own arms under the warm coat she had borrowed from Jack, then her sights landed on the piles of snow that she had been earnestly creating. An instant later, she had scooped up a bundle of that snow, molded it into a perfect snowball, and thrown it in Jack's direction, where it splatted onto his jeans, making an indelible circle of white that reminded Sam of the Stargate.

Perfect, Sam whispered again, knowing that no one else could possibly hear such a quiet murmur. So she yelled and whooped, Got you on my first try! What great aim!

Jack looked at her the second the snowball exploded onto his leg. Oh, Major, you don't know what you've gotten into; this is war! he yelled back, and a second later, they were tossing snow at each other like kids much younger than their mature years, laughing, panting, and dodging expertly thrown snowballs.

Finally, Jack abandoned the snowballs, finding that he had a greater advantage over her if he chased her around the yard, his longer legs assisting him in the amount of terrain he could cover compared to Sam. Soon, he had her cornered in the back yard, away from the street, out of sight of prying neighbors or people from the base possibly driving by, and he risked tackling her in order to bring her down into the snow. He laughed as Sam tried her best to rally by throwing unpacked snow into his face, but he just pinned her arms beside her head and yelled, 'Do you yield?' quoting one of his favorite lines from one of his favorite movies, grinning and thinking that he hadn't had so much fun since SG-1 had been transported back in time to the 60s.

Then, her face turned serious, and she breathed, the look in her eyes clearly flirting with his own gaze that had gone darkly sensuous. Her sight skimmed suggestively across his heavy coat, and he freed one of her hands long enough for her gloved fingers to roam from his forehead to his cheek. The next second, snowball fights and chases around the yard had been completely cast aside in favor of his sudden and inexplicable urge to kiss her senseless, despite the unattractive stockinged hat she wore that was sticking up at odd angles from her head, despite the heavy winter weather gear they both had on, despite the risk of getting caught in an undeniably licentious act in his own back yard... He wanted to feel her, and the power of that emotion was utterly impossible to deny as he eagerly stretched out on top of her and had what could only be described as a 'roll in the snow,' one that had been several years in the making.

With passion building in both their gazes, heating them in a time honored way that neither could hide nor deny, they both stood up, still without a word, and brushed the other off of extra snow before entering Jack's warm kitchen, where they hardly took the time to remove their coats, gloves, and shoes before his hands were buried in the strands of her blonde hair, hers found the feel of his warm bottom enthralling, and his lips were locked onto hers in a dance that they had tried hard to avoid for years, only to find their feelings of desire too strong now to resist. Fire flicked in his blood as he unapologetically lifted Sam to his countertop, and proceeded to remind himself of why he'd bothered to remain alive the previously barren days spent at the SGC, where they had skirted around each other in order to hide the inner passion they always carried.

Frantically, he pulled her jeans free of their button, then yanked down the material that was ultimately in his way. She dug her nails into his shoulders, hitched her feet around his calves, then pulled him close as she panted for breath, giving in to the desperate pounding of her blood, showing the wild desire for him in her eyes, pulling her underwear aside, guiding his way into her, where he slid inside to grow even harder at the intense sensation of skin stroking skin. One hard thrust was all it took to split their world in two again, where they shattered all sight and sound to drown their emotions in the throes of frantic, seizing pleasure. Sam clutched his shoulders with her fingernails, not truly caring if she left holes in the material of his t-shirt, and fought against a nearly overwhelming urge to scream his name as she crested one emotional wave, then another that crashed into her.

Oh, God, Sam! Jack panted through his teeth clenched against the feeling of lost control that swept over him. He could barely remain standing as he supported both him and Sam in the heat streaming into his kitchen.

When they had fallen back to normality, and stood, breathing hard by his refrigerator, Jack shook his head back and forth in a show of kind, yet firm, self-recrimination. Sam, he whispered through his gasp for air. I love you so much... That sounds so stupid, but I can't help being stupid right now... I'm so sorry if I hurt you...

Jack... Sh, Sam mumbled into his ear. This is so wonderful... You are so wonderful... What I don't understand is why we always seemed so afraid of this...

Sam, Jack desperately whispered then, Stay. I know I don't have the right to ask that, and don't want to cause you trouble by asking, and that asking will cause nothing except trouble, but... He pulled her to him for a sudden, tight hug. Sam, he still whispered into her ear. I'm so sorry... I can't live without you anymore... My greatest fear is that someday, something horrible will happen to you, and I won't be able to fix it... It's not that I can't go on without you, it's that I won't want to go on...

Sam kissed him tenderly through his silver hair. Jack, we need to talk about this, then, like two rational adults.

That just it, he said in a reluctant confession, I don't want to be rational about you, and that scares the hell out of me.

But Sam's logical mind was already coming at their unique situation from every conceivable angle. Okay, you're a Colonel in the Air Force, head of a team of a mix of people who have somehow come together to form one of the most unbreakable units in the SGC. And I'm your second in command. And the Air Force that we both belong to has a rule against anyone in the same chain of command entering into just such a relationship as you and I have been fighting against for a long time, and have finally given into. Only now we may find ourselves facing paying the price of our careers in order to keep such a precious thing as this relationship has admittedly become.

You're talking about a possible court-martial, aren't you? he asked.

It's always a possibility for us. It always has been. With that in mind, and a court-martial as a possible outcome, one we're ready for and accept... Is what we're doing really so awful?

It is according to the top brass of the Air Force, he predicted. It will be according to your Dad.

Jack, Sam murmured. We love each other. What's so wrong about that?

Plenty.

We already know that you can order me into a possibly life-threatening situation... Hell, you've even killed me before!

That was so horrible, Jack admitted. But I had to protect the base...

As you should have. It wasn't me, anyway, not any longer... I was gone...

Don't say that, Jack begged her. Never say that. Please...

But what are we going to do if it comes to a court-martial? Sam asked. What if someone, quite rightfully, according to Air Force Rules and Regulations, complains about the regard we're suddenly showing for each other?

I can retire, Jack said firmly. And I will, if I have to.

And I can ask for reassignment, so that we're both giving up something that we love.

I could never ask you to do something like that for me.

You didn't; I volunteered. And it's fair to...

But any decision we make will affect Daniel and Teal'c as well as us.

Then we should...

... talk to them, he finished for her. Get their thoughts on the subject.

Warn them that court-martial..,

Retirement...,

... and reassignment is always a possibility for us.

Then go on at work just like always...

No touching, no caressing...

God, this is going to be hard...

What else can we do, though? she asked. What choice do we have, unless we want General Hammond to split us up as a team?

And I don't want to put Hammond in that position, Jack declared.

We can still socialize together, still work together...

But, so help me, if anyone makes a play for you or gives you trouble of any kind, I'll knock their block off!

Sam grinned at him. Only after I do it first, she said just as firmly.

Jack ran his hands up her arms, feeling her solid, yet amazingly warm muscles under her sweater. Alright, he agreed. We can go on as before when we're at work... But I have to say that the possibility of going on a future mission, and you being captured by Goa'ulds, and used as a host... it's enough to give me nightmares for the rest of my life.

Then let's make an agreement, right here and now, that if it comes to that, and nothing can be done for the other, that we'll kill the other one rather then let a torture like that go on for centuries...

Please don't make me agree to that, Sam, Jack begged her. I've already killed you once, and that was the hardest thing I've ever had to do... I don't think I can do it again.

Sam sighed. It's either that, or we need to stop going off-world on such dangerous missions, and admitting to... to what's... what's been going on with us. She stared into his brown eyes. We can't do that to Teal'c and Daniel. Or at least, I can't. Can you?

Jack grimaced. You know that I can't. But do you realize that this means sneaking around, playing it cool when we're both so hot under the collar... He grimly peered at her. And we'll get caught eventually. One of us is bound to slip up.

Maybe, maybe not, she said. I'm willing to give it a chance, give you... us... a chance.

Jack looked like he wanted to protest for a moment, then he crushed her in his embrace again. If it wasn't for you...

And you, Sam said.

Alright. We can do this.

It really won't be much different than what we've been doing for years...

Jack grinned, if a bit sarcastically. It's going to cost both of us a hell of a lot in cab fares, though, always riding secretly to the other's house, he predicted.

Sam laughed at his mention of something so mundane as cab fares, but could only hang on to him and hope it was enough for her, for them... forever.

* * *

Hey, Daniel, Jack said into his cell phone as he and Sam sat in his living room a few moments later. Her hand was supportively attached to his left knee, but he still felt ungrounded as Daniel responded on the other end of the line.

Daniel said something, then Jack interrupted. Not now. Sorry... Listen, Sam and I need to talk over something with you and Teal'c...

Daniel interrupted to say something, and according to the guilty look of exasperation on Jack's face, whatever he said had hit pretty close to the truth. Well, Jack hedged. It's something like that... Look, can you come over here this afternoon around fourteen hundred? We can order pizza or something if we keep you till dinner... No, the driveway's pretty much cleared already... Well, it's easier with two sets of hands... Can you come?

Daniel spoke, and Jack was silent for a moment. Then, Jack said, No, I'm not stressed... exactly. Just come and hear what we have to suggest, Jack told him. Then you can decide if it's something that's worth getting stressed about... Yeah, see you then.

Jack snapped his connection shut, and looked grimly at Sam. Done, he said.

Sam heaved an unhappy, frightened sigh. Now, we wait.

* * *

At exactly fourteen hundred hours, a knock sounded loudly on Jack's front door. With a sense of jittery anticipation, Jack left Sam in his living room as he ran to answer the door. He didn't pretend not to know who it was, and therefore, when he opened the door to see Teal'c and Daniel patiently waiting on his doorstep, he ushered them into his house with the words, Come on in and get comfortable... This may take awhile. His voice was still grim, yet underlined with a steely determination that wasn't normally detectable.

Daniel and Teal'c entered Jack's hallway, dripping snow onto the warm, mellow, hardwood floor. Teal'c faintly smiled his trademark enigmatic smile, and said, If this proves to be about what I have been expecting to hear from you, O'Neill, then know that DanielJackson owes me more money than he can currently afford to pay. He cast a sidelong look at Daniel.

Daniel balked at that comment, and looked in aggravation at Teal'c. How do you know that? What are you doing now... Going through my bank records?

You should not display the balance of your bank records in your notes on your current translation project, DanielJackson, Teal'c politely informed him. It is not my fault that I can read what is in plain view. Then he straightened. But if this conversation goes as I expect it to go, then you will owe me a greater sum than you currently have.

What? Jack barked. Are you taking bets on what I want to say, then?

Teal'c glanced at Jack. Naturally, he intoned. Betting is a respected Earth custom that proves to be very entertaining as well as instructive on the vagaries of 'odds' and 'chance.' He smiled again. DanielJackson instructed me in the process not long after we first met.

Daniel glared at his companion. Yeah, but that doesn't mean that I want you to spout off that information all over the place, Teal'c!

Jack interrupted this heated exchange between his team mates. Okay, okay, guys, guys... Why don't you come on in and find out what this is all about before you go flying off the handle and handing over your first born children...

Part of our exchange was dinner, I believe, Teal'c said. Not first born children.

Whatever, Jack said, then led the way into his living room, where Sam sat nervously perched on the edge of his sofa.

Sam! Daniel immediately exclaimed upon seeing her. What are you still doing here? Then his eyes narrowed, and he regarded Teal'c. This doesn't look good for me, does it?

Teal'c shook his head.

Will you take the money in installments? Daniel inquired next of the Jaffa.

Teal'c answered, I will endeavor to make things as easy on you as I can. But I wish to have our agreed upon amount by the end of the year.

Jack held up his hands. Alright! Guys! Knock it off!

Sam swept her hands across the legs of her jeans, as if she were apprehensive about this imminent exchange and had something to hide.

Daniel apparently noticed the gesture, for he commented, This is looking worse and worse for me all the time.

Jack scowled. That's it! We aren't having a free-for-all symposium, here! Sam and I have something we want to discuss with you, but if you two are so busy taking bets and making predictions, why don't you just tell us what this is all about? He stood, glowering, his hands propped up on his hips in a display of irritation.

Teal'c was unimpressed by Jack's overtly male display of antagonistic behavior. Very well, he nicely agreed with a bow of his head. Then he went on, While on our way here, DanielJackson and I discussed the possibility that you wish to tell us that the state of your relationship with MajorCarter has changed to one more romantic in nature... Am I correct, O'Neill?

Jack's own eyes were narrowed now. What do you have... ESP?

No, Teal'c responded. I was merely using the simple deduction method that MajorCarer instructed me to use several years ago. Sam gaped at him, her finger pointing to her chest, as if to ask 'Me?' Teal'c continued. As we both knew that MajorCarter was stranded here due to the snowstorm last night, and as I was present during your Tok'ra Zat'arc test many years ago, I simply deduced that the state of your relationship must be in question. That is all.

Daniel was far less polite than his Jaffa friend. Were we right? he demanded. Please say we're wrong, and I don't have to tell Teal'c I owe him $2000.00.

$2000.00! Jack echoed. For that kind of money, you almost deserve to lose it all to Teal'c! He scowled again. Who would have ever guessed that innocent boy, Daniel, has a gambling problem?

Only on this one thing, Daniel objected. And I'm waiting to hear if I owe him my life, or not.

Jack snuck a glance at Sam, then stuffed his hands in his pants pockets in a show of guilt. Well, he said, much more quietly as he stared at the floor. You might set up some kind of payment system, I guess.

You're kidding! Daniel loudly declared. Man! I'm going to have to learn to keep my mouth shut from now on!

Hey, Sam said. We still need to talk to you both, so if you can forget bets and money for a minute..? Daniel and Teal'c turned their attention to her. Thanks, she sarcastically said. Now that we know you're listening... Okay. Bets aside... We may have a problem here.

Problem? Daniel queried.

Sam nodded. Well, yeah, she said. Then she threaded her fingers through her hair as she propped her forehead onto her hands. This might sound kind of blunt.., she began. Jack and I want more than anything to be together... But we can't do that because of Air Force Regulations.

Short of changing the regs, Daniel said as he sat on one of Jack's easy chairs, I don't see what we can do about it.

There's quite a bit that you can do, actually, Sam negated.

Daniel's brows rose, and he glanced questioningly at Jack, then at Sam. We're all ears, he said. What are you suggesting?

Jack sat down next to Sam and took her hand that was still nervously rubbing against her pants. If you don't stop doing that, you'll dig a hole right through the material of your jeans, he softly predicted. And that would be cold at this time of year, he added.

Sam paused for a moment, then seemed to agree with him, as her hand wove more firmly through his.

What can we do? Daniel continued, eyeing their seemingly more united front, symbolized by their linked fingers.

Sam spoke up. We might as well be completely honest with you guys.

You're practically our SGC family, after all, Jack agreed with her.

We don't want you to lie about us, Sam started off by saying. If you're asked point blank by Hammond or another of our superiors about us and what we're doing, we expect either of you to tell the truth, and we'll deal with the consequences ourselves.

Jack cut in. But we don't expect you to be asked, either.

Daniel groaned through the fingers of his right hand that was covering his mouth. What does that mean, exactly? he asked.

Jack heaved a sigh. It means, he said, that the way we plan to behave towards each other at work isn't going to change very much.

It's our behavior off world that we're more concerned about right now, Sam noted then.

Off world? Daniel asked.

Teal'c broke in, then. It will be much easier on us, DanielJackson, if you do not repeat everything you hear.

Daniel would have responded to Teal'c's comment, but Jack spoke first. Okay, let's be honest here. Off world means no contact with the SGC, which means no worries about a court-martial, which...

Sam cut him off. Which means...

But it was Teal'c who finished for her. You wish for us to 'cover' for you during overnight missions, he guessed.

Sam blushed. 'Cover' may be the wrong word, Teal'c.

Look, Jack said. We need your help, or Sam and me will be court-martialed for sure. It will split us up, probably split up the team, and if that's what you want, by all means, run to tell Hammond everything that we've told you so far. Then he stared at them, a serious expression on his face. But if not, just... He sighed, distressed. All we're asking is that you be quiet in regards to any seemingly questionable behavior that you witness while off-world, he said.

Like holding hands, Daniel suggested, gesturing at their linked fingers.

Yeah, Sam said. Nothing gross, though.

Gross? both Jack and Daniel inquired.

Sam sighed in irritation, then explained, Explicit.

Ah, Daniel said in understanding. Like making out.

Daniel! Sam berated, but Teal'c intervened.

'Making out...' That is a phrase that I am unfamiliar with.

Um.., Sam stuttered.

Daniel rescued her. It's behavior between a couple that... Finally, he growled and said, Kissing, Teal'c... Fondling...

But Colonel O'Neill and MajorCarter have already declared being fond of each other, Teal'c insisted.

Daniel groaned again. Fondling, Teal'c... not fond. I know that Jack and Sam said that they're fond of each other... But fondling is definitely behavior that's over the line! he said.

Wait a minute. O'Neill stopped them. This is getting kind of heavy here.

What does weight have to do with this conversation? Teal'c wanted to know.

Jack ran his free hand through his silver hair. Nothing, Teal'c. He thoughtfully paused. Okay. This you oughta understand... I love Sam. She loves me. According to the Air Force Regulations, we shouldn't be together. Not being together would make both of us so cranky that it will probably be a danger to the team as a whole. He grimaced at that thought. So, if we're not going to drag the entire team down with us, we have to ... technically... break some rules... Unofficially, we plan to bend them a little...

Teal'c interrupted with a small smile. It is my experience that rules are meant to be, if not broken, then bent a little out of shape.

Jack looked hard at Teal'c. Is that a bit of encouragement, T? he asked.

Teal'c said nothing, but he did smile at O'Neill, a rare smile that covered almost all of his face.

Jack didn't quite know what to do with a gesture like Teal'c's, and he looked to Sam for help. She obliged him by rerouting the conversation back onto the issue of their relationship. But we don't plan to change anything as to our behavior at work, she repeated.

Nothing changes? Daniel ascertained.

Jack looked at Sam. Nothing, he declared. But off world, away from the eyes of any superiors, all bets are off, as long as whatever we choose to do is not objectionable or dangerous to the group as a whole. The second either of you feels uncomfortable in any way, we both expect you to say something. Otherwise...

Otherwise, Daniel interrupted, predicting, I may be missing Sha're an awful lot over the next few months.

Sam said, That's not our intentions...

Daniel said, I know, I know... Then he looked at Jack and Sam and gave a small grin. But can't a guy be a little jealous every now and then? he grumbled good naturedly. Then, he shyly admitted, You two look pretty great together, ya know?

Jack and Sam stared at each other. But it was Teal'c who responded, Yes, they know.

* * *

Epilogue

It had been years.

Daniel tried to wrap his mind around that concept, but he was having trouble visualizing just how much time had truly elapsed.

Teal'c lifted the bag of ice from O'Neill's cabin's refrigerator, along with the case of beer, and dropped it all into the cooler sitting on the floor in front of him. DanielJackson, I require your assistance in helping me to carry such an awkward piece of equipment as this 'cooler that O'Neill wants. Please come away from the window and lift one side of this 'cooler' while I lift the other.

In a minute, Teal'c, Daniel answered him, and returned his gaze to watching Jack and Sam as they sat next to each other on the dock belonging to Jack's Minnesota cabin.

Teal'c joined Daniel at the window. What are you watching with such interest, DanielJackson? he asked.

Sh! Daniel hissed. Do you want them to hear us?

There is no possibility of them hearing our conversation through a closed window, Teal'c reminded him.

Daniel had to concede that Teal'c had a point. But he didn't want to give the Jaffa anything more than he'd already given him. Over the course of the years, and through many installments, he had slowly handed over the $2000.00 winnings that he owed to Teal'c from the bet he'd originally made with the rebel Jaffa. It had hurt the balance of his bank account to lose so much money, but it had been worth it if losing it meant that Jack and Sam had finally found the love they held for each other.

And speaking of their two team mates... Can you believe them? Daniel inquired then, sounding incredulous.

What do you mean? Teal'c asked.

Daniel pointed through the window at Jack and Sam. I mean them, he replied. It's been how long since that conversation we had with them the weekend of the snowstorm?

It has been many years, Teal'c said.

That's my point exactly, Daniel responded. It's been years since they got together, and no one is any the wiser for all that time having gone by.

General O'Neill and ColonelCarter have worked hard at fooling the entire SGC staff into thinking that they do not care for the other.

And they've been married for almost a year. Daniel shook his head back and forth to illustrate his amazement.

Just then, Jack grinned at Sam, Sam grinned back, and, after looking all around in search of the possibility of anyone spying on them, which was a minimal risk in the wilds of Minnesota ('but you can't be too careful,' Jack had told his team many times in the past), Jack leaned over towards Sam and very briefly, yet very gently, kissed her lips. Sam gave him an unusual fullblown grin. Then she very briefly, but very gently, stroked his cheek.

Daniel sighed and smiled goofily. Sometimes they're so happy that you want to be sick, he noted.

Indeed, Teal'c said. Then he turned back to the cooler still resting on the floor. Shall we interrupt their 'happiness?' he quietly asked.

But Daniel smiled, and looked at his watch. What do you say if we give them five more minutes of wedded bliss before our interruption?

Suddenly Teal'c smiled softly in response to his friend's suggestion. I'd say that would be a very agreeable thing to do.

Daniel smiled. Teal'c smiled.

And Jack and Sam were totally oblivious as to just how much that solid feeling of contentment that they had shared for so many years was due in part to the machinations of their team mates. And Daniel and Teal'c had promised each other to never tell a soul.

Some rules were, indeed, at their best when bent beyond all recognition.

The End


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