Disclaimer: Yadda, yadda, yadda. If you don't know by now what I'm going to say, you need to read more fanfiction.

A/N Part I of 'The Relationship Series.' What is it with me and bad series titles?

The Movie

by Linda Bindner

I don't know, Jack, Daniel hedged. That movie's about something that really isn't my thing.

Space isn't your thing? Jack O'Neill incredulously asked.

Daniel had to smile at that point, and he even paused in playing with the artifact in his hands long enough to say, It's true, we do go to other planets through the Stargate, but we rarely see actual space, and even you've said how Earthlike those planets that we visit are. I honestly often forget that we've even traveled through space to get there. And once you've done that 'visiting other planets' bit, real space seems sort of... Daniel fished in his mind for the right term. Unreal, he finally ended.

'Unreal?' Jack echoed, as if he didn't believe what he was hearing. You're a guy who's seen Star Wars enough times to quote the whole damned movie, and you claim that space is 'unreal?'

Daniel nodded after he'd thought about what Jack was saying. Yeah, he said, That about sums it up for me.

Uh-huh, Jack intoned, as if he didn't quite see where his friend was coming from. What was the difference between Star Wars, and a movie detailing the Challenger space shuttle disaster? he asked himself. Shaking his head, he asked, Is that a 'yes, I'll go with you,' or a 'no, I never want to see something like that, so don't even ask me?'

Daniel blinked at Jack for a moment. The second thing you said, he told him, then looked at Jack in a quizzical manner. How do you say something like that, say so many things, all run together in one sentence?

O'Neill smirked. I practice, he said, then turned around to walk out of the office.

Hey, Daniel said, Where you going off to so fast? I thought we were going down to lunch?

In fifteen minutes or so, Jack called back. That gives me enough time to ask if Teal'c wants to go to the movie with me.

Five minutes later, Teal'c was also shaking his head. Thank you for inviting me, O'Neill, but sometimes you forget that I have very little knowledge of the history of your planet... especially of recent events. I have no interest in seeing a movie about an event that happened 'before my time,' so to speak.

You could learn about that part of history, Jack told him in a cajoling tone.

Thank you, no, Teal'c stated. There is very little to connect me to this story about a ship I do not know, manned by people I am unfamiliar with. I'd rather spend the day with DanielJackson, watching Star Wars.

But you've seen that one already! Jack exclaimed.

And I know how it ends, Teal'c said, not unkindly. With a medal ceremony celebrating life in the galaxy. You say this movie pertains to the destruction of the individuals on board the space craft?

Uh, Jack said, a bit unnerved at what Teal'c was not saying. I see your point. Another time, maybe.

Have you asked DanielJackson to go with you? Teal'c then inquired.

He'd rather roast in Hell than see that movie, Jack said.

I am not familiar with that phrase, Teal'c told him. What is a 'hell?' he inquired.

Uh, Daniel said he'd rather watch Star Wars again, Jack explained. And we'd better get down to the Commissary if we're going to meet the others for lunch.

Indeed, Teal'c agreed, pushing himself off his bed, where he had taken a seat during the conversation with his team leader, and joined Jack as they made their way into the corridor.

Lunch was the usual, with Jello to look forward to for dessert. Carter already had her glass of blue Jello on her tray, waiting for her to dig right into it, and savor the taste within. But, even though she was eyeing her dessert with interest, she was eating the main dish she had taken first.

You being a good girl again, Carter? Jack teased as he set his tray down across the table from her. Eating food that you don't want, just because it's good for you, when a perfectly delectable bowl of blue Jello is calling out to you? Jack went on.

This dish has vegetables in it, and it's not actually all that bad, Sam remarked. For chicken pot pie, she added, and took another bite.

Daniel looked at her. It's chicken soup, he informed.

It is? Sam asked, staring now in great suspicion at her food. Then why is it so..?

Firm? Daniel asked, finishing her question for her. I think they use too much corn starch to thicken it.

Carter snorted. Like I know what corn starch is. She cleaned off her spoon with her napkin, then pulled the glass of Jello closer to her, and 'dug in.'

Daniel inquired, Hey, Jack, what did Teal'c say about seeing that movie with you?

Teal'c responded before Jack could say anything. I would rather 'roast in hell' with you, and see Star Wars again this weekend, than see a movie about people I do not know, and an event I know nothing about.

Sam spit a mouthful of Jello back in her glass when Teal'c talked about where he would rather go.

Jack narrowed his eyes, but whacked a choking Sam on her back. It's a figure of speech, is all, he explained.

Sam coughed. Glad to know, Sir, she said, then coughed again.

It was the first thing she'd said to him for two days, ever since that damned Za'tarc testing day. Though thinking about that day always made him feel extremely uncomfortable, Jack was glad that she was speaking to him again, finally, at least.

Daniel laughed as well at Teal'c's comment. Star Wars this weekend, huh?

My room, tenhundred hours, Teal'c told him. We can use the microwave oven in the lounge to make that popcorn I like...

Butter flavored movie popcorn? Daniel asked.

Jack dropped his spoon into his own Jello bowl. You see, that's what I don't get. You won't see a real movie with me, at a real theater, where they serve real movie popcorn, but you love to eat that microwave crap. I don't get it.

Before Teal'c could start on an explanation, Sam piped up, What movie is Teal'c talking about?

Jack opened his mouth to reply, but Daniel said, That movie about the Challenger disaster. No disaster movie is my kinda thing, he said. Apparently not Teal'c's, either.

Oh, hey, I wanted to go see that! Sam told them. She turned to Jack. When were you planning to go?

Um, Jack said, a bit surprised that she showed so much interest in something that involved cool, dark places, and him, together, all at the same time. I was planning on going this weekend, Saturday afternoon, but I can't find anyone to go with me.

I'll go, she instantly volunteered. I've been dying to see that movie, but Janet, who was going to go with me, is always busy on the weekends, it seems, she added. That movie's been out for weeks, and if I wait for Janet to see it with me, I think I'll be waiting forever.

Jack was surprised again at the way she was talking to him as if nothing had recently happened. The whole thing made his head spin a little, but it also made him glad at the same time. It was confusing. But he smiled, and asked, You wanna go on Saturday? I could swing by, and pick you up at 1300... The movie starts at 1330.

Sounds good, she said. But if you drive, then I buy the popcorn and drinks, she said very calmly, as if they hadn't just agreed to spend two hours together in a dark theater only three days after proclaiming to a roomful of people that they were breaking Air Force regulations by harboring illicit feelings for each other. Of course, they shared nothing but a professional relationship, but according to those who interpreted the regulations word for word, the fact that they even had emotions for the other was enough to court-martial the both of them. It was simply luck that they had such an understanding Commanding Officer as General Hammond, or else the entire team would be split up for sure just to get them apart.

As it was, SG-1 was still a team, with the same four individuals, who still went together on missions. Jack knew that Hammond had seen the tape of the Za'tarc episode, but still nothing had happened, and Jack wasn't going to push his luck by bringing it up. He'd far rather try to forget that test had ever happened in the first place.

Except for that moment when Carter admitted that she was in love with him, of course. He remembered that part with no problems whatsoever! Her words had been burned into his brain, in spite of his trying not to let them repeat over and over again every night since the day of the Za'tarc tests. He himself had gotten away with only claiming that he 'cared for her a lot more than he should.' But then, he was already sitting in the Za'tarc testing chair, and thus had agreed to be the first to be retested. He was the guinea pig for Carter's theory about why the machine thought they were lying in the first place, and she had to admit more than he did when the machine 'adapted' to their comments, like any good machine of Tok'ra design; it had been a fully irritating moment for the Major. But Jack supposed it was a fair trade for having to go first, when all was said and done.

And now, after two days of her avoiding him whenever she could, she had readily agreed to go to a movie with him. With only him, if Teal'c's and Daniel's reasons were found to be acceptable. And they were, Jack had to concede. The movie wasn't about fascinating things like rocks, and it wasn't a Star Wars remake. The reasons sounded more like reasons to him, and less like excuses to get him and Carter alone together in a movie theater. Jack decided he'd go along with them this time. But next time...

You guys don't know what you're missing, Jack said, then continued eating his Jello.

Yes, we do, Teal'c immediately said.

No chance of ancient artifacts in this movie, Daniel agreed. It has a limited appeal.

You'd just pick it apart if there were mention of history of any kind in it, Sam told him. And you'd get all riled up at how history is being displayed in it if there were any ancient devices in it.

Like those cheap ripoffs of the Indiana Jones movies that we all saw, Jack said. We watched all three that one week of downtime we had when...

Sam finished for him, When actually, Daniel, we were watching you throw popcorn kernels at the TV screen every time history was changed to suit the plot of the films.

Or The Government? Jack asked. What about that movie?

Daniel said, Okay, Okay, so you don't want me along to pick apart the movie! I get it!

Sam turned to Jack then. Saturday, 1300? she asked.

I'll be there, Jack promised. And that was a promise he intended to keep. Definitely!

* * *

By the time Saturday arrived, and Jack had pulled up in his truck and parked it near the curb of her street, he was more than willing to be emotionally open, an unusual thing for him to be, as long as it soothed his rampant curiosity about why she had agreed to accompany him. He had thought about little else than her errant behavior for the last several days, and he was totally puzzled by her tiny smiles and blushes after not even speaking to him for two days straight. Swallowing his natural reluctance to talk about his own feelings, and forging ahead anyway, he asked, Carter, as she answered the door for him, then stepped outside to join him on their way to his truck, and, hence, the movie. Mind if I ask you something that's a little on the personal side?

He expected her to balk at his bringing up their personal anything, but she flatly predicted what he planned to ask about. You're wondering what's up with me acting like you have the plague for two days, then acting like that Za'tarc test, and those two days, never happened.

Well, yeah, Jack said as he opened the truck door and climbed in. I mean, you won't even speak to me... and I noticed, believe me... and then, out of the blue, you agree to see a movie with me, alone. He shrugged. What gives?

Sam chuckled appreciatively as she climbed in next to him. 'Amused' was not at all how he had expected her to react. When she had managed to collect herself, she said, I can explain my reaction, promise.

Some explanation would be nice, Jack honestly admitted. I'm a bit confused, is all.

I didn't want to confuse you, Sam said. But I confess that I wasn't exactly thinking about how you might feel during this whole situation.

But wasn't I the point? Jack asked then. He turned left onto a road that would put them on the interstate that would, in turn, take them right next to the mall where the theater was located.

Sam slouched in her seat as much as the seat-belt would allow her, and rested her head against the headrest behind her. I talked to Mark that night of the tests, and he gave me some advice on the whole thing.

You told Mark? Jack asked, a bit astonished that she had felt comfortable enough with the whole testing thing to tell anybody about it.

I didn't tell him the exact details, Sam argued. Only that I liked someone, but liking that someone was against the rules of the Air Force. He understood better than most, as he's the one who grew up with the same rules and regulations that I did.

Jack let her comment sink in, then slowly said, Okaaaaay... What was his advice in this particular instance?

Well... Sam seemed to hesitate a moment. He said I should just screw the rules.

That was so not what he expected to hear Sam Carter ever say! You're kidding! Jack laughed.

My instinct was to play by those rules, instead, I admit. So that's what I did... for two days, she said.

And what happened then? Jack asked. Well, he sheepishly added, I know what happened, but why did it happen?

Sam stared out the side window so that she wouldn't have to look at him. But she told him, Those were the most miserable two days of my life, she admitted. And I didn't like being so miserable. They reminded me of when my mom died.

You were that miserable?! Jack declared. I had no idea that you were so unhappy.

Yeah, Sam said with a small smile that showed no amusement with the situation. I hide it well, don't I? Jack had to agree with her. She went on, At least, I was always taught to hide everything I was feeling, or thinking.

I don't always know what you're thinking, I admit, he said.

Sam snorted. You know exactly what I'm really thinking most of the time, she negated. I just don't always do what I'm thinking of doing, she corrected. Anyway, I decided to screw the rules, just like Mark told me to do, and I have to say that I'm much happier with that attitude.

Well, Jack eventually said. That's good. That you're happier, I mean, he hastily added. I have to say that I like you a lot better talking to me than avoiding the living daylights out of me.

Sam laughed. I bet you do!

They were silent for the next few minutes as Jack concentrated on driving off the interstate at the correct exit, and merging onto the road again. Sam opened her mouth to speak once more as he drove. But that's why I talked to you at lunch the other day, she continued. I had decided to stop being the good little soldier that I always seem to be behaving like, and behave more like what my heart was telling me to behave like. Sam turned towards him, then. You know what I'm talking about?

Jack could have claimed that her speech left him nothing but confused, but he would have been lying to her if he had. Instead, he slowly nodded his head, and said, Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. He, too, had behaved how he thought the rules dictated that he should behave, and hadn't always been so happy with the results.

He parked the truck in the mall parking lot, opened his door, then joined her on the other side of his truck. I can't say that this situation has always thrilled me, either, he said, referring to their shared affection for each other, and the lengths it had led them to in their lives.

It is a bit complicated, Sam agreed with him.

'Complicated' about sums it up, Jack muttered. I mean... He stopped himself, looked around, and when he found no one close enough to hear him, sighed, and continued in a softer voice, I can't exactly say that I was looking for this to happen. I'm actually shocked as hell that it did, to be honest.

'Shocked,' Sam repeated. Why?

Jack kind of gave a noise that was between a grunt and a laugh of incredulity. Have you looked in a mirror lately? he rhetorically asked her. You're too... He was going to say 'beautiful,' but knew instinctively that she wouldn't agree with his assessment, so he said, Too well put together to go for a guy like me. And he gave a deprecating shrug.

Sam stared at him as he held the heavy mall door open for her, since he got there first, and they entered together. There are several things I can comment on in that... comment... of yours, she said.

Jack invited, joking as he spoke. Go ahead, comment away.

Okay. Sam thought for a moment, then went on. First of all, what, exactly, did you mean by 'well put together?' She watched him out of the corner of her eyes. They walked side by side to the theater entrance. A little closely side by side; they're arms kept hitting each other... sort of on purpose. Did you mean my mind or... or the whole package? she asked.

Honestly? he ascertained. She nodded, so he took his courage in hand, and blurted, Honestly... the whole package. Jack had the delight of watching Sam blush, even though he'd known she would do that. What else did you want to comment on? he asked then in order to help distract her from his opinion of her.

It worked. Distracted, she said, What did you mean by 'a guy like me?'

Jack sighed as they bought their movie tickets. Well... A guy who's... grumpy... I guess.

You think you're grumpy? she asked.

Well, don't you? he asked back.

Sam laughed a tiny laugh. No!

That surprised Jack. You don't?

Don't be so surprised, Sam stated. No, I don't. You have too good of a sense of humor for me to think you're grumpy all the time.

I don't have a good sense of humor, Jack argued.

Sam didn't agree with him. Sure you do. When he didn't nod, or show any other sign of conforming with her opinion, she argued, You joke around on every mission we go on. You're always cutting up the Control Room staff with your comments.

But my comments are so sarcastic, Jack pointed out. They have a limited appeal, as Daniel would say.

True, they do, and Daniel would say it that way, Sam said, then she had to give in to the grin she felt on her face. But your humor is so like my own humor, she said. I love good sarcasm.

Jack didn't say anything, as she wasn't telling him something he didn't already know. You always do laugh at my jokes, he eventually said. You're about the only one who does.

The others are just too square to understand what you're saying at the time, Sam stated.

That comment made Jack laugh. Sorry! he gasped, still chuckling. I was thinking of a square Walter Harriman!

Sam rolled her eyes, then stopped, and asked, I hate to bring this fascinating conversation to a pause, but do you want any popcorn, or something to drink?

Oh... Jack paused to peruse the displayed goods he could consume. Twist my arm, why don't ya... That'll get my attention.

Don't tempt me, or I will, Sam teased.

Um... Let's make T. jealous... small popcorn, and...

Order what you want... You don't get a girl to pay for your food every day, she pointed out.

In that case... Large popcorn, and large drink...

Sam pulled her wallet out of her back pocket. I thought so... Same for me, she said to the girl behind the concessions counter.

Butter? asked the girl.

You bet, both Jack and Sam said at the same time.

The girl started filling the orders, and conversationally went on, You can get a refill on popcorn, then, if you order a large.

Hey, Jack thoughtfully said. Then I can give mine to T.

And I can give mine to Daniel, Sam stated. What a good idea.

Sam paid the exorbitant amount the concession stand was charging, they grabbed their drinks, their popcorn containers, and, already munching, headed into the theater.

Sam told Jack, You can buy the ice cream after the movie.

Ice cream? Jack skeptically asked. Surely you won't still be hungry after all this popcorn?

Sam shrugged. This is the first thing I've had to eat all day... Actually, ice cream will probably be just the thing after sitting for two hours, staring at a movie screen. They entered the theater, and moved into seats near the back row, off to the side.

They munched, they talked about work, they drank, they laughed... and soon they were talking about the Za'tarc tests, and Jack asked, Did you really mean what you said during your retest?

Um... Sam gave her best impression of a trapped monkey, wanting to deny her own feelings for him, but knowing that such a denial was useless, as he already knew everything. Yeah, she finally said in a small voice. The machine had to confirm that I wasn't lying.

Jack had to admit to himself that he'd known as much. Suddenly, he grinned. And his grin was huge.

Somehow, they were next holding hands as the lights went down in the theater.

Sam squeezed Jack's fingers that were linked through hers. I shouldn't like this, but I do, Sam whispered to him as the previews filled the screen.

Whisper something else to me, Jack instructed with a flirtatious smile. You have to lean close... I like that, he mischievously said.

Sam laughed, and was hushed by some people sitting in the next row over. A minute went by while Sam was being good as she could be, but then she leaned in close to Jack, and whispered, This movie's about the reason why we even met, you know.

It's about you? Jack whispered back. It's getting better all the time!

Sam spluttered some more laughter. No...! I mean, the shuttle blowing up kind of ended my thoughts of getting into NASA anytime soon.

It blows up? Jack inquired. How do you know how the movie ends?

Sam laughed again, while trying to stifle her immediate reaction. I had to go with my second most wanted assignment.

You mean..? Jack waved his hand in front of them to make a circle in the air that indicated a Stargate.

Sam nodded. If this hadn't happened, there would have been no arm wrestling comment in the Briefing Room.

I would have missed that, Jack declared.

Sam laughed for a third time. And you think that you have no sense of humor! she told him with a giggle.

No giggling!

That did nothing but make Sam giggle harder.

Eat your popcorn and be quiet! Jack whispered with a smile cast in her direction. Don't make me make that an order!

So they sat, and watched the beginnings of a movie that seemed to be a character stretch, but was acceptable if the audience suspended their natural state of disbelief. Until about half way through, though, when Sam's hand suddenly tightened around Jack's fingers, and she slid down into her seat. Crap! she whispered, an unnatural expletive for her to engage in. Crap, crap, and double crap!

It was so unusual for her to say such a thing that it caught Jack's instant attention. What's wrong? he asked as he leaned in close to her ear.

My dad's further up by the front!

The front? Carter, you're talking about the whole damned theater, Jack said. A bit more of a specific direction would be a good thing.

Sam waved to the middle of the theater, several rows down, before Jack could even finish his request.

Jack found Jacob this time without any trouble, even in a darkened movie theater. Jacob's wearing his dress uniform, Jack commented in a soft voice. He craned his neck to peer through the dark. That's probably the only clothes your dad has at work, he said. Then he saw the Tok'ra, sitting beside another man in a similar uniform. What was it with all the uniforms? Jack wondered. Yeah, that is him.

This is so bad, Sam said.

Why is it bad? Jack inquired.

Because when the movie is over, if we don't get out first, Dad and his friend will turn, and he'll look straight at us. When Jack didn't seem to comprehend the seriousness of the situation, she added, Being alone with you is not quite what Dad would say that I should be doing. Mark mentioned that he had said something the other night about the fact that he had seen that test, too!

Good God, Jacob's seen it, I know that Hammond's seen it, Janet was there, Teal'c was there... Is there anybody who doesn't know about it, now?

Hammond saw the tape? Sam squeaked. Oh, my career is so over!

Sh! came to them from a row further up. Sam just groaned.

Come on, Jack said then. I think I want some ice cream.

They made their way out of the theater, the dark covering their exit. Since Jacob was sitting in front of them, he never saw them leave. I think that was a fine escape, Jack declared when the theater door had closed behind them, and they were in the hallway, alone again. But their fingers were still linked together.

Sam looked down at their joined hands, then said, This is nice.

It won't be so nice if anyone from work catches us like this.

No one from work ever comes to this mall, Sam then said. I've never heard it mentioned before. They all go to the mall that's closer to base.

Wonder why that is? Jack asked.

Sam answered anyway. 'Cause they're all familiar with that mall, and the familiar is better than the unfamiliar, she hazarded to guess.

Oh. Jack narrowed his eyes, still questioning. Does that mean that I get to keep holding your hand, then?

Sam laughed again. She simply couldn't help it. God, how do you do that? she asked.

Do what?

Always make me laugh, she told him. I don't think I've laughed this much since high school.

Jack grinned at her statement. I love the fact that I'm the one making you laugh, I admit.

Sam then tugged on his hand. Come on, she said. Let's get these containers filled with popcorn again, then head for the ice cream store.

Jack grinned. How do you like your ice cream? he asked. In a bowl, or on a cone?

She looked at him as he looked at her. Then both of them answered, Bowl! They laughed as they returned to the concession counter.

They stored the two tubs of popcorn on the floor of Jack's truck's back seat, then they returned to inside the mall, staying far away from the front entrance, and the movie theater, minimizing their chances of running into Jacob by happenstance. They ended up slowly walking together, and simply wandered around, until they found the inevitable ice cream store, which all malls seemed to come equipped with.

I pay this time, right? Jack asked.

Sam nodded. Right. She paused, then added, I should order a triple scoop of ice cream, then, with as many toppings as I can get, which will drive up the cost.

Jack smiled. I like the way you think, Major.

Share with me, Colonel? she asked.

Make it big enough for two, Jack told the young man behind the counter, taking orders.

Sam smiled.

Jack squeezed the fingers that he hadn't freed for going on an hour and a half, now. He mentioned this information to Sam.

Sam glanced at those people in the shop, those people walking up and down in the mall outside the shop, made sure they were all strangers to her and Jack, then leaned in and kissed his cheek.

What was that for? Jack asked.

The ice cream, Sam noted, and giggled.

You seem to be doing an awful lot of giggling today, Jack noted, but had a pleased sound to his voice.

Can't help it, Sam replied as they each grabbed a side of the biggest bowl of ice cream either of them had ever indulged in. I'm a born giggler.

Good thing I was born to be sarcastic, then, which makes you giggle a lot, Jack said, as he let go of Carter's hand for once, and grabbed two plastic spoons, and napkins from the condiment counter for them.

Sam set the bowl of ice cream between them at a free table, set off by itself, with no other customers sitting anywhere near it. Then, pointing at the bowl of dessert, invited, Dig in... a medal goes to the person who eats the most.

Jack glanced at her, then. I've never seen this side of you before.

What side? inquired Sam as she ate her first scoop of vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate fudge.

Jack grinned. The side that says 'crap!' in front of your CO, the side that kisses him on the cheek, the side that says 'screw it' to rules and regulations... You've always seemed more of a by-the-book kind of soldier to me.

Sam sighed, and looked squarely at him. I know that I seem to be the good little soldier so often...

Jack pointed his spoon at Sam. That's the second time you've used that phrase just today... Why do you think you're 'the good little soldier?'

Sam shrugged. Well, aren't I? she asked. Don't you see me that way?

Jack thought about that for a minute. Yeah... But... You are a good soldier, though, he pointed out. You're never flippant when I'm giving an order, never mean spirited to anybody... Hell, I've never even heard you claim that someone's being dumb, most notably me, not even when you're explaining something to me that's incredibly obvious to you. I mean, you're...

Boring, Sam interrupted. All that techno talk... I use it to hide the fact that I know whoever I'm talking to is bored out of their skull, which I know they are, and so do they. They wouldn't be so bored if I could just...

That's where I think you're wrong, Jack cut in. And I'm never bored when you're explaining something technical to me. Heck, half the time I ask you to explain those things to me! He stared at her. But, if you think the people you're talking to are so bored... which they're not, by the way... then say something else.

But spouting techno talk every other minute is what's expected of me, of a scientist, Sam argued. And how do you know they're not bored? she suspiciously inquired.

Jack smiled a slow, guilty smile. Take it from me, they're just... not bored, he said.

How can you be so sure? Sam asked again.

Jack dropped his spoon into his empty half of the ice cream bowl. Because we work for a military organization that's mostly made up of men, and when those men ask you a question, I know they're... He paused, then just plunged on. They're checking out a beautiful lady.

Sam's eyebrows shot to her hairline. And how do you know that? she asked. And I'm not beautiful, so you can forget about convincing me of that.

Jack dropped his head into his hands, as if he were tired of trying to convince her of something that was obvious to him. Mirror? was all he repeated again.

You should talk, Sam stated.

That was enough to make him look at her once more. What's that supposed to mean?

Exactly what it sounds like it means, Sam said. I've sat in the Commissary a time or two, and listened to other women talking before, like when I'm trying to get work done. I think it's universally agreed that you're one good looking Colonel.

I've never heard that! Jack forcefully negated. And I've spent loads of time sitting in the Commissary!

No one would say anything when you're around! Sam said, sounding horrified, now. You're the 2IC of the entire base!

So? Jack asked.

So?! Sam echoed, still in a half whisper. No one wants to... um... piss you off, she explained.

How can I possibly get pissed at someone claiming I'm rather nice looking? Jack asked her.

That's... um... not exactly what they say, Sam told him, then.

So what exactly do they say? Jack asked in irritation, now.

Um... Sam hesitated. I've heard some say... She stopped.

Spit it out Carter, and that's an order.

Sam groaned. I wish you hadn't made that an order. I don't want to get anyone in trouble, here...


'Hot,' 'good looking,' 'cute...' Those are just some of the words that I've heard.., Sam then blurted. She ate some ice cream, fast, in order to claim that her mouth was too full to add any more words to the list that she was making.

Jack leaned in close to her. I am not 'hot!' he whispered.

Mirror! she said, choking on her bite of ice cream.

Jack had to sit back once she had made her point. He could hardly argue with her, as he claimed the same thing about her. Okay, I concede this argument, but only because I say the same thing, not because I necessarily agree with you.

Sam stared at him. You don't agree with me? she asked. What... Do you have an image complex, or something?

Do you? he shot back.

Sam grinned. Touché, she said.

Jack gazed at her, still mystified. I'm not certain I understand, yet. Why are you so unsure of your looks?

Why are you so insecure about yours?

No fair... I asked you first.

Sam sat back, looking defeated for just a second before she began to speak. Well... When I was growing up... They say that's the time that's important... Who was ever home who was going to tell me how I looked? she rhetorically asked. I don't think you quite understand how often my father was gone from home, and Mark certainly didn't step up to the plate on the issue of how I looked. Sam sighed again, remembering. I guess once a way of thinking becomes a habit, those habits are hard to break.

Jack shrugged. I do see your point, I suppose. Even Sara and I became something of a habit over time.

You did? Sam asked, surprised that he was willing to talk about his ex-wife so readily, but not wanting to discourage that talk of his. Really?

Well... Yeah. Jack shrugged again. I mean, we certainly had our moments, especially when we were talking about something Charlie had done, like something he had accomplished at school that day, but..

Was Charlie smart? Sam asked, cutting into his talk about Sara. She wasn't exactly sure she wanted to hear about Sara just yet. The idea that Jack had been with someone else for part of his life made her shudder.

Was he smart? Jack echoed. Then, he grinned. Oh, yeah. You would have loved that part of him. He was so smart that half the time, I didn't know what he was talking about. His reminiscences didn't end there, however. And sports... He was so good at sports. Interested in just about everything.

Sam grinned as well as she listened to him speak. It was obvious by his soft tone of voice that he had loved Charlie a lot. I bet he got that from you.

Not really, Jack said. My parents never let me play sports in school... They were so worried that I would get hurt. He snorted then in amusement. That's rather ironic when you think about it.

'Ironic' how? she inquired.

Jack peered at her over their shared bowl of ice cream. Because my parents and younger brother were the ones who eventually got hurt. They were killed in a car accident when I was eighteen.

Sam dropped her spoon into the empty bowl in shock. You're kidding! I never knew you had an older brother!

Yeah. Jack looked a bit guilty for not telling her about this sooner. The only reason I wasn't in that accident, too, is because I was visiting my grandparents at the cabin in Minnesota at the time. James was at summer basketball camp, so my parents waited for it to end, and drive him up for the rest of that visit, but they sent me on ahead so that I wouldn't have to wait. They were all killed before they even made it two miles from the airport after picking my brother up. Sideswiped by a van going the other direction. It pushed the car into the ditch to the side of the road, and then it rolled over into a culvert.

Sam furrowed her brows. God, that's just hideous! she exclaimed. How can you be so calm about it?

It happened a long time ago, Jack dismissively said. Two weeks later, I joined the Air Force, and here I am.

Wow. I'm sorry to hear about your family.

I haven't had a family for a long time, Jack told her nonchalantly, covering up his emotion that was showing by adopting a devil-may-care tone. But I do have to admit that it's made it harder for me to understand that relationship you have with your own Dad. I mean, what was that leaving the theater bit all about? So what if he saw two friends going to a movie together.

Sam sighed. That was probably just my reaction to how things used to be, not so much to how Dad and I have been since Selmak, she explained. Dad and I didn't have much of a relationship at all until that cancer bit. You probably guessed as much.

I had an idea, Jack admitted.

Dad likes to be in control, Sam explained then. He was gone so much that he didn't realize that he was losing control of the thing he should have controlled the most. I blamed him for years for causing Mom's death, and only just realized the truth a few years ago... He simply couldn't get away from his work at the time... It wasn't because he couldn't quit working, or anything.

Couldn't quit working? Jack repeated in a show of humor. Sort of reminds me of someone...

Now you know where I get it, Sam told him. And don't say that there's more of him in me than I think, because, so help me... Her voice trailed off, then.

You threatening me? Jack mock asked.

A Major would never get away with threatening a Colonel, Sam said.

Now you sound like you're reciting the AF instruction guide, Jack reported. Come on... Tell me what's on your mind.

Sam sighed once more. You really want to hear it all? she entreated.

I asked, didn't I? Jack gently reminded her, then leaned forward to hear her better.

Sam rolled her eyes. And this is coming from a man who had a son he didn't even tell me about for more than half a year.

Jack tried his best to swallow the inevitable pain that any mention of Charlie's death, even one so parallel to the boy, caused him. Don't feel bad, he advised her. I didn't tell many people about him, not even Kawalsky, and he was my second before you were.

He was? Sam blurted. I didn't know that.

Jack sighed then, and sat back against the rear of his chair. Yeah, well, that seems like a lifetime ago, he admitted. It's as if my life has come in stages, all separated by something significant. There was childhood, then joining the Air Force, then my best friend in the Force was killed...

I didn't know that, either, Sam stated. My, but I'm learning a lot today... I had no idea I would learn so much!

Jack nodded. He was the one who introduced me to Sara, but that's really beside the point, I guess. I met Kowalsky when he was promoted to be my 2IC... Before that, my second was Fred... He got promoted when I was around thirty, or thirty-two.

Sam snorted, then. And how old was I at the time? she rhetorically asked herself. A teenager?

Jack cringed. I'd rather not do the math... It might make me feel really old... Too old to be falling for someone as young as you...

Will you stop that! she demanded. You're not old! I'm young, that's all!

Young, and nicely put together, Jack reminded her with a flirtatious smile.

So you say, Sam said. She didn't sound like she completely believed him.

I'll say that over and over again, Jack noted. What I don't get is why you don't believe me when I say it.

Sam smiled, then. Well, I'm starting to. Just keep on saying it.

Jack stared piercingly straight into her eyes, and whispered, You're so beautiful, it puts the rest of the galaxy to shame... Thor thinks so, too.

Sam spluttered her laughter. What would we do without Thor? she asked.

Go fishing? Jack hazarded a guess.

Sam thoughtfully studied him. Is that an invitation? she inquired.

Jack looked to the ceiling, as if he were thinking deep thoughts. It might be, he finally said.

Hmmm... 'might,' Sam repeated.

You could tell everyone that you're flying to California to stay with your brother, then fly to Minnesota instead, Jack suggested, still whispering.

Sam considered for a moment. At last, she said, That might do it... Mark would probably cover for me in case Dad shows up at work....

Jack winced when she made that statement. 'Cover for me,' he echoed. That sounds like things my brother and I used to do for each other when we were in school, at a time when we needed someone to tell believable stories for us so that we wouldn't get in trouble.

Something tells me that you don't like being in trouble very much... Or, at least, getting caught at causing trouble, Sam commented. Or the idea of needing someone to cover for you, she added with an insightful look at him.

Jack rolled his eyes. Carter, I'm fifty-one years old... A fine age for a Commanding Officer, but a bit too old to still need to be sneaking around behind my superiors' backs.

Sam peered at him in consternation. Then maybe you should take me home, Sir, she suggested. I think it's passed my bedtime.

Jack chuckled gleefully. Hold on, why don't ya? You're sure easy to rile up.

'Rile up?' Sam was quickly moving from the irritated zone to the completely ticked off zone. If all I am to you is someone to 'rile up,' like a toy, then...

Jack put his hand on her fingers next to the ice cream bowl. Not so fast, Major, he said. That's not what I meant, and you know it.

Sam stared at him out of cloudy, blue eyes that surged with volatile emotions. Anger was clearly at war with something else inside her as she gauged his perceived intentions. Then, just as suddenly as it had appeared, her fury drained away like a curtain had been drawn aside.

The look in your eyes reminds me of when Doc pulls away her curtains in the Infirmary, he said. Except your eyes are a lot prettier than her curtains.

Sam couldn't help but laugh at his comment. Watch it, or I'll tell Janet that you think her curtains are ugly.

I think you'll have to take a number on that one, Jack said. There's a whoooole lot of people in head of you who want to discredit me in front of Doc Fraiser. Jack gave a small wince as he considered the CMO, the base's own version of an emperor. What most don't know is that I can discredit myself perfectly well without any help.

Then, I'll put you back together again, Sam said. It's what I do for a living, after all.

I'm not some kind of robot, you know, Jack retorted.

Then Janet will fix you up, she promised. I sometimes think that she can do anything.

It's no more than you do on a regular basis, he said in a delightfully offhand manner.

You trained me, Sam remarked. Give credit where credit is due.

Jack ate the rest of the ice cream before it melted into vanilla soup. Okay, let's back up a little, here. You never really did say what your Dad might envision as being wrong for two friends to see a movie together.

Sam dubiously eyed him. Except that he would never think that we were friends just seeing a movie together. And then, I'd have to live with a thousand lectures on the subject of... Sam stopped, swallowing her words at the last possible second.

Which made Jack even more curious to hear what she was going to say. Subject of what? he stubbornly asked.

Well... Sam crumbled her paper napkin, and tossed it into the empty ice cream bowl between them. She scratched her forehead... She scowled at her natural reluctance.

What? Jack prodded.

Sam sighed. Finally, she settled on asking him, What would your father say if he saw a video of those tests the other day, then ran into both individuals at a movie, where they had just been alone, in the dark...

You're making this sound baaaad, Jack stated.

Well? she reiterated.

Jack scratched his own forehead this time. I see your point. He firmly stared at her. I guess we should...

I suppose so, Sam said, a note of sadness in her voice. At last, she caved in to her inner torment, and asked, We can't do this, can we?

Do what? he asked.

This.., Sam was forced to explain. This... um... relationship thing.

Jack balked when she said that. Says who? We just... better go about it... really carefully.

Sam eyed him, askance. Are you suggesting what I think you're suggesting?

Jack shrugged. Believe it or not, I guess I am.

Sam furrowed her brow. But you just said that you didn't like needing someone 'to cover' for you.

Jack winced a small wince. I know what I said, it's just...

Just what?

Jack leaned back. Okay, Carter, here's the truth. Hammond saw that video tape of the tests, as well, and he hasn't said one word to me about any of it. Has he said anything to you? Sam shook her head. And I've certainly never brought it up, and I'm not going to bring it up... He ran a nervous hand through his hair, messing it up to lay in a haphazard order. Sam loved the mess, and wanted to run her hand through it to straighten it out, but she was too embarrassed to say so aloud. Carter, Jack finally went on, It's like he's giving his permission for us to go ahead... with whatever we want to go ahead with, without saying a word, so that no one can blame him if the time ever comes to blame anybody...

'Blame...' That sounds fairly ominous, Sam said, thinking about blaming someone for something that had the potential for being a lot of fun.

Jack shook his head. Not ominous, never that.

Sam stared at Jack, and Jack stared back. Finally Sam said, I guess that depends on what we want to do.

Jack was quick to inquire, What do you want to do?

That's not fair, Sam immediately proclaimed. Don't ask me... After all, I'm the one who brought the subject up.

We need to stop hiding, Jack bluntly said, and stared into her eyes. He was lost in a sea of blue before he knew it. Then, bolstered as he was by the resolve he saw in her eyes, he was able to admit everything. I want too try a relationship with you, Jack instantly said. A romantic one, to be specific. We'll never know if one will work if we don't give it a try.

But can we do that, and still work together? Sam argued.

What do you think? Jack queried her. The alternative was obviously not working for either one of us.

How do you know that? Sam asked, then.

Let me ask you one thing, Jack said. Were you happy with the way things were?

Sam's eyes narrowed in question. Was I happy? she repeated.

Yeah... You know, always dancing around the topic, always being ultra aware of everything the other did while pretending not to notice anything...

Well... And Sam looked at him in doubt, but in honest doubt. Um... no, not really, she finally admitted. Were you?

Jack cleared his throat. Excuse me when I say 'hell, no.'

'Hell no,' Sam echoed. She smiled. I like that.

So, Jack added a recap. I wasn't happy, and you weren't happy.

'Hell no,' said Sam with a hint of a smile on her lips.

'Miserable' was the word that I think you used...

Sam blushed when he said that, but sighed a sad exhalation of air, as if she had internally thought long and hard about this very decision, and was finally giving in as gracefully as she coul, even though 'giving in' was not something she usually did. I was miserable, I admit. Always having to say 'no' when I really wanted to say 'yes.' She looked at him, straight into his brown eyes, determination and resolve filling hers. Now I've decided to say 'yes,' and that 'no' is no longer a part of my vocabulary, especially where you're concerned.

Careful, Major, he immediately cautioned. Let me play Devil's Advocate, and say that your idea can be a very dangerous thing to do.

Sam sat back in her chair with a whomp, and grimaced. Now, you sound like my dad... Is this how the age difference between us is going to play out? If it is, I'm not sure I want any part of it... You know, the whole childhood thing... been there, done that...

Sam, Jack quietly said as he leaned forward again. I am not, nor will I ever be, like your father.

Is that a good thing? Sam asked.

You tell me, Jack ordered.

Sam breathed, the loud sound washing over their tiny table. I never confused you with my dad, she acknowledged. And I would never want to do that, she said. And I never could. You're as different as...

Night and day? he guessed.

Daniel and Teal'c? she guessed as well.

Her comparison made Jack laugh.

As Jack was laughing, Sam glanced up, and caught sight of a friendly face in the crowd near the counter. Oh, my God, it's Janet! she said in a slightly horrified voice. And there's Cassie with her!

Jack turned, and caught sight of Janet just as the doctor caught sight of him. She beckoned to Cassie, said something to her, then pointed straight at him and Sam. Soon, the duo were walking right up to the Colonel's and the Major's table. Sam! Colonel! Hey!

Sam looked at Cassie, and rolled her eyes. So this is that hot date you were telling me about? How does this have to pre-empt weekly Chess?

Cassie looked affronted in all her fourteen-year-old glory. I did have a hot date! she objected. I met one of my girlfriends, then Mom said she'd get me ice cream before we blow this joint... Hey, and her eyes narrowed suspiciously at both Sam and Jack. Do you have a hot date of your own?

Cassie! Janet immediately explained. Mind your own business.

Cassie turned to the side to look at Janet. I am minding my own business, Mom, Cassie protested. We broke our Chess date for this.

Sam had to chuckle at the undignified expression of pure terror on Janet's face. She didn't think she'd ever seen the doctor look so flustered before. No, the Colonel and I went to see that movie about the Challenger disaster...

Janet perked up when she heard that. Did you finally get to see that, Sam? You've been begging me to go with you for weeks. Maybe I should be thanking the Colonel for getting me out of it! she said with a smile.

Hey, would you two like to join us? Jack asked instead of answering Janet.

No room, Cassie said, and licked a drip off the ice cream cone in her hand.

Phooey! Sam declared. We'll just scoot around...

Grab some chairs, said Jack. Then he looked straight at Cassie. And don't make me make that an order.

Cassie laughed. I can't help it! she said. I always laugh when you say that!

I know, Jack said. That's why I always say it. Then, eyeing her ice cream, he turned to Sam and asked, You up for another one? I could really go for some more.

Sam bit her bottom lip in thought, then she mischievously grinned. There's one day a month when I eat nothing but junk... This is obviously that day this month. Another one sounds great, Colonel. Thanks.

Doc? Cassie? he inquired as he rose. Anything?

No, thanks, Janet said. We're fixed for life, I think. She took another sip from the malt she had in her hands.

Jack nodded, grabbed his and Sam's trash from the table, and disappeared toward the counter.

Janet watched him go. The minute he was out of hearing, she turned to Sam, and accusingly asked, Okay... Is this a date, or what?

Sam looked as surprised as she could pretend to look. Janet, you know I can't say one way or the other if it is or isn't!

Yeah, but, a movie? Janet asked. Ice cream? That sounds like a date to me. She stared at Cassie. Would you call that a date, Cass?

All I know, Cassie calmly stated to Sam, is that this had better be a date, or you are one sick person to be going out with, but not dating, someone so good looking!

Sam spluttered some laughter. Cass! she exclaimed.

Cassie shrugged. I just tell it how it is.

Janet slurped up more malt. Then tell me where you went last night when you crawled out your bedroom window.

Sam grinned, but tried to look wide-eyed at Cassie for Janet's sake. You didn't!

I didn't! Cassie protested at the same time that Sam spoke. Honest, Mom!

Then be quieter next time when you drop from the tree limb onto the porch roof. You know, I heard every move that you made, Janet nonchalantly said to her daughter.

Cassie shrugged again, and tried to look innocent even as she confessed. Well, I tried, she said.

The family dilemma made Sam laugh. Oh, I can't wait till I have teenagers of my own! she sardonically declared.

This time it was Janet's turn to roll her eyes. I might have to do a CAT scan on you, or something, then, just to see if you're really crazy or not.

A CAT scan? Jack asked as he returned to the table, carrying two ice cream cups with straws. He handed one to Sam. Here... This is something different, he said. Something chocolate... I know how much you go for chocolate...

Sam happily sighed, looking as if she were in Heaven. Sounds perfect... She took the drink he offered, and sipped hard on it as he sat beside her, purposefully rubbing his thigh against hers. She tried to hide her blush behind her new drink, but she was relatively certain that Cassie's quick gaze caught at what she was doing.

So? Janet asked, How was the movie?

Sam turned to peer at Jack, not knowing how to respond. There was no way she could tell her girlfriend about how she and Jack had left the theater early without having to tell Janet why they had needed to leave early... Oh, this was getting to be very complicated! Well, she replied at last. It wasn't bad.

That's encouraging, Janet told them.

A bit overly dramatic, Jack said, looking at Sam. Did you think that?

Sam nodded, perhaps a little too enthusiastically. She toned down her reaction. It was a bit overly dramatic, she agreed.

Think of Sam going with me instead of going with you as saving Daniel from seeing it, Jack smirked turning to Janet.

Janet laughed. It didn't quite sound like a movie that he would like to see, she agreed.

Not unless we wanted to watch him throw things at the screen, Sam predicted.

Janet sat back in the chair she'd dragged over to their table for two. He would never do such a thing! she declared.

Sam and Jack looked at each other, then burst out laughing. Apparently you need to come to one of our team nights, Jack said.

Hey, not without me! Cassie exclaimed.

Never! Jack said to her.

Janet grinned at them, but said to her adopted daughter, We need to go, Cass, so hurry up with that ice cream that you have.

Why? Cassie asked, suddenly growing sullen. All we have to do at home is make supper.

You're going to deprive me of the company of three gorgeous women? Jack asked flirting a little for Cassie's benefit. Shoot! Now I owe ten cents to the guy behind the counter.

Ten cents! Janet hooted. You're playing the big time now, Colonel! she laughingly mocked.

You mean that I'm out of the big time, Jack retorted with a mock look of hurt on his face. Carter and I should probably go, too. We've been here long enough, debating...

Trees! Sam burst into the conversation. There always seems to be trees at the places we visit, she said.

Is that kind of like the way certain stoplights are always red, no matter which direction you come from? Cassie asked.

Jack grinned. As the man who has a personal problem with every tree in this galaxy, you're right.

Janet pushed back her chair, and rose from the table. Finish up, Cass, or the Colonel will make you ride in the back of his truck, and your hair will get all messed up.

Hair?! Sam exclaimed. Cassie, you're getting more and more girlie each time I see you. What am I going to do with you? she rhetorically asked. You'll never make it into the military at this point.

I'm not going into the military, Cassie informed her.

You're not? This statement surprised Sam. I thought that you always said you were.

Cassie got a mischievous look in her eyes, then. I wouldn't want to follow in my mom's footsteps, or anything. I might have to start practicing to be her in the Infirmary if that's what I decided to do. Then, she tilted her head. I guess I do have a clipboard I could carry around.., she slyly suggested.

Jack choked, snorting at the thought of seeing Cassie imitating Janet in her mom's Infirmary. Scary thought, Cass! he said, still laughing.

Janet leaned forward in the moment of teasing, sarcastic intimacy, and said to her daughter, Then your old mom would have to be so proud of you, Cass.

Cassie rolled her eyes. Which is why I'm working at McDonald's, she retorted.

Sam and Jack laughed even more. You'll do a lot for those uniforms, Jack predicted.

Don't encourage her, Janet said. Then she pulled Cassie away. Come on, Cass.

Remember.., Sam said with a meaningful look on her face. Truck, was all she had to say.

Cassie scowled, then joined Janet. Bye, she said to Jack and Sam, then looked at them, and smiled with twinkly eyes. She smiled so sweetly at Sam that her expression had turned venomous. Have a good rest of your date. She just laughed as Janet whacked her on her arm. Then they were gone.

Sam watched them go. Well.., she said.

Yeah, Jack added. We met someone from work while we were together, and the planet didn't implode from the stress.

Sam laughingly coughed until she choked.

Jack grinned in clear affection as she laughed. When she leaned her head weakly into his shoulder, he couldn't resist putting his arm around her to add his support. He, too, was softly laughing, but for a different reason than Sam was laughing.

Damn! Sam quietly, appreciatively exclaimed, still laughing. Your tone was so dry!

Jack continued to chuckle with her. If my tone being dry is all I need to make you create such a nice sound, I'll be dry all the time.

Sam slipped her own arm around his waist.

God, this feels good, Jack softly commented, and smiled. He laid his head on the top of her head, grinned, sighed in contentment, and smiled some more.

Yeah, Sam agreed, calmed, then wrapped her other arm around the front of his waist in just as obvious affection. She shut her eyes to savor the feeling. This is probably the closest we've ever been to each other, she told him. I would have remembered any other time if we had been this close, she commented.

Jack's arm gave her a distinct squeeze. Want to make out in my truck? he whispered to her.

Sam laughed again. You're not serious!? she exclaimed in an answering, horrified sounding whisper.

Jack lifted his head so that he could stare at her. Why not? he innocently inquired. If no one that we know ever comes here...

But we just saw Janet and Cassie! Sam protested. That kind of shoots that theory of mine about never seeing anyone we know here all to Hell.

Jack smiled again. I am such a bad influence on you... saying 'Hell' and all...

We'll blame my bad language on Teal'c, she suggested.

Jack laughed this time. Oh, Major, you play mean! he told her.

Sam laughed with him. She lifted her head, and grinned. Then, without even thinking about it, she brushed her lips against his.

Jack didn't have time to react... this time. But next time he vowed he would be more ready for her overtures. What was that for? he whispered instead.

Sam smiled at him. Because you're you, I'm me, and you're right, this feels damned good!

Jack gave in to his urge to tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear then. Come on, Carter, he encouraged. Let's get out of here.

Sam silently agreed, and before they knew it, they were standing, and grabbing their ice cream drinks. But their arms stayed around each other's waists. She leaned in close to his ear, and gently whispered, Besides, we have that 'make out in your truck' thing to look forward to.

Jack gave a tiny start of surprise even as he shivered a little shiver of excitement from the feel of her hot breath in his ear. But he had to admit to himself that Sam had been one big surprise after another all day. I already have my keys out, he told her, and smiled.

Together, they made their way out of the ice cream shop, and into the mall crowded with strangers.

By then, the movie had to be ended, and there was no possibility of running into Jacob, so they were quite openly 'together' as they pushed through the mall doors, and into the parking lot.

I haven't felt this relaxed, or this excited about anything since I found out that I was being reassigned to the SGC, Sam confided.

Jack looked at her, and grinned as they made their way to his parked truck. Have I ever said that I have some trouble with certain... He fished his mind for the right word that would describe how he thought Carter was feeling at this moment, without letting her know that he suspected a thing. ... with... with expectation levels? he nonchalantly asked, trying to turn the conversation, and hence her fear, onto being about him instead of her. He hoped such a convoluted strategy would put her at ease again.

But completely at ease already, Sam sputtered more laughter. I've heard that the cure for unreasonable fears, like being terrified of high expectation levels, is to just go with the flow of those expectations, and let nature take its course.

Are we talking theoretically, here, or not? Jack inquired of her, then.

Do you mean that I am the one having these unreasonable fears of expectation levels? Sam asked. Not you?

Jack considered her question. Well, you have to admit that it's a reasonable prediction of the reaction that you might have of such a situation as making out in my truck.

Sam sighed, and sorrowfully shook her head. And you have a reputation for never saying words longer than two syllables. But he heard the mournful note in her voice.

Why so sad all of a sudden? Jack inquired.

Sam sighed one more time. That is something that anybody who knows me would predict that I would feel and do in this situation, she said then.

And that's a bad thing? Jack asked.

Yes and no, Sam told him.

Now you're making it sound complicated, Jack said. Don't make this so hard, he advised. Just 'go with the flow,' he quoted her words back to her.

Sam grinned. So what you're saying is that I should listen to myself, and not worry so much.

Jack thought about what she had said. You should probably worry a little... enough so that we take plenty of precautions not to get caught. But... And he pointed a finger towards the sky. But, worrying too much will get us caught for certain, because you'll look so guilty all the time.

And you're more worried about me looking guilty than you are about you looking guilty. Sam climbed into the passenger side of his truck while Jack climbed up behind the steering wheel. That makes sense.

That's been my biggest concern these last few days, I'll admit, Jack said to her. You have the tendency to let your feelings show on your face, whatever you're thinking at any given time. It's like a beacon to what you're thinking, he said. That's my secret for predicting what's on your mind all the time, by the way.

The secret is revealed, Sam mocked.

I'm not kidding, Jack said to her. We can tell Daniel and Teal'c all about this, and they'll be predicting your thoughts on every mission we go on, he said.

Am I that easy to read? she asked.

Yes and no, Jack said with a pointed expression on his face.

Sam regarded him. Now I know how irritating it is when I say the same thing, because you're not saying that I am, and you're not saying that I'm not, both at the same time. She remarked, That is totally irritating.

Jack laughed lightly at her, then, making sure that she knew that he wasn't making fun of her, or that he was angry with her, only that he was attempting to illustrate his point to her. See? he asked.

Yes, I see exactly what you're not saying, Sam laughed. And are we going to 'make out in your truck,' or not?

Getting antsy? he teased her, but being rather surprised by her question at the same time. He expected more that she would be nervous about any 'making out,' not asking for it to happen. Again, she had taken him by surprise.

I admit to feeling a bit on the 'antsy' side, Sam told him in the soft voice of confession. But I also would be lying if I didn't say that the entire concept has me feeling... anticipatory... at the same time.

'Anticipatory?' Jack repeated. I don't even know if I can say that word, let alone use it correctly in a sentence.

What? Sam teasingly asked. Has it got too many syllables for you to say?

Oh, that is so not funny, Jack scowled. Then, he leaned toward her across the seat as he went on, And if you don't get your butt over here closer to me, and on the double, I'll put you on cook detail for the next month of missions.

Sam grinned at his threat, also not a reaction he expected of her. You wouldn't want to eat my cooking for an entire month, she riposted. Just who are you punishing, me or yourself?

Good point, Jack said to her. He was still leaning in close to her. When she didn't match his posture, he said, Come on, Carter, my truck is surrounded by four SUVs and another truck... all high vehicles, with supports and things that will hide what we're doing from practically anybody who happens to look. What are you afraid of? His tone was full of affectionate challenge.

But Sam took him by surprise yet again when she answered, Who says that I'm afraid of anything? Who says that I haven't wanted an excuse to do this very thing for four years? And without any chance for more words from either of them, leaned across the seat, perfectly matching him, and kissed him softly on his lips.

Jack didn't have time to react... again... since he was so flummoxed by her move. But as she drew back, her beautiful face curving into a contented smile, so that she looked like a cat who had stolen all the cream, and was pleased as punch with her cleverness, he reached out to wrap a hand around each of her cheeks, stalling her. Come 'ere, he growled.

Sam grinned again; he had called her on her very thin attempt at 'making out' without doing anything. And while hiis audacity frightened her, it also highly pleased her. Well, at least I know now that you're not scared of anything, she commented. Then, he was kissing her deeply, as if there was no tomorrow because the Gao'uld were going to imminently invade Earth. His hand on her cheeks were burning her skin like brands, but in such a nice way, that she couldn't stop herself from mirroring him, and placing her own caressing fingers on his cheeks. With her hands splayed wide so that she could feel as much skin as possible, she opened her mouth to invite him to explore as much of her as he could.

Jack didn't pass up the invitation. Shivers shot down his spine, and erupted into goose bumps all over his skin as he did what he had only dreamed about doing up until this moment. Kissing Carter was waaaaay better than he had ever dreamed it being!

God, he was like velvet, all soft, warm, and soooo... good, she thought.

God, she was like velvet, all soft, warm, and soooo... good, he thought.

I have wanted to do this ever since I met you... almost to the day, Jack whispered, when he and she had to take a break, and change position in order to experience the largest possible feel of her and him that they could.

You're sure this isn't just to settle your curiosity? she absently asked.

Jack groaned. Carter... Shut up, and just kiss me.

Is that an order?

Jack groaned again. Yes, dammit, yes! Now, come here, you little sprite. God, I love you so much that even I'm a bit surprised by myself.

Sam giggled as she kept stealing more and more kisses. I've never been called a sprite before.

You are, Jack affirmed. My sprite, and I wouldn't ever want that any other way.

I don't think you have to worry about that, Sam whispered seductively into his ear. She kissed butterfly kisses all around that ear. I'm yours, in all my glory, for good and bad...

This could never be bad, Jack proclaimed. Geez, you taste good.

That's my lethal popcorn and ice cream mix, Sam told him, and kissed him down his neck. Gets them every time.

Jack's eyes opened... hazily, but they did open when she imparted her last words. Are you saying that you planned this entire thing? he asked, stupefied.

Sam giggled.

You are a witch under that nice exterior that you have. And it is a nice exterior, by the way. Jack kissed her neck as well, grazing her skin in delicious swirls under her jaw with his tongue.

God, where did you learn to do that? Sam asked.

Like that? he lazily inquired of her with a satisfied smile on his face.

Like it?! Sam half asked, half exclaimed. I'm just a bundle of shivers, and you know it!

Jack chuckled. Good, 'cause I am, too. This 'making out in my truck' is okay by me! he exclaimed right back to her.

Oh, shut up and kiss me, she said.

Is that an order? Jack inquired.

Uh-uh, Sam said then. No ranks, or this is never gonna work, and I definitely want it to work.

Jack's hands were doing amazing things to her shoulders now. She didn't even know that shoulders could feel like that! That's so good.., Sam whispered. I wish I could tell Janet about this whole relationship thing, so that I can gloat about you, and she can get all jealous because you're mine and not hers.

Say nothing, Jack told her. But you already know that... He kissed her again in a glory of tangling tongues and hot, demanding lips.

A relationship just isn't the same if you can't gloat about it a little, Sam eventually replied.

Jack smiled a tiny amount, then kissed her again. Sam Carter, gloater extraordinaire... Who knew? he asked.

Oh, yeah... Keep rubbing my head...

I'll rub other things, too, Jack said.

Is that a promise? Sam asked.

Oh, yeah, Jack announced.

They had scooted as close to each other as the bucket seats would let them. Sam was practically sitting in Jack's lap. She had one hand splayed against the back of his head, and the other over his right cheek and ear, feeling his skin, caressing it when she did.

Carter, Jack said as his kisses grew even braver and more demanding. We've got to stop before we let this go out of control. He paused. And it could so go out of control as far as I'm concerned!

So what you're saying is that 'making out in your truck' is a real turn on? she asked.

Oh, yeah, Jack breathed in her ear. Sam gave a delightful little shudder at the feel of his breath on her skin. He went on, As if you didn't know... and didn't feel the same.

I will never look at your truck again without getting turned on, Sam told him.

Neither will I, Jack said to her, and kissed her one more time for good measure. And I'll have to use my truck every day of my life. He intimated that he'd have to think of her every time he drove anywhere.

I think I like the sound of that, Sam said. The idea of him thinking about kissing her when he drove to the grocery store kind of pleased her. Not that she wouldn't be thinking of him at the same time, too, but she wouldn't have that extra knowledge that they had made out in her vehicle to add to her thoughts!

Jack pulled back. Okay... We gotta stop, or I swear, we're moving to the back seat where I have more room to have my wicked way with you...

Then you gotta stop, too, Jack! Sam laughingly said. And the back seat sounds promising...

We're too old for that, Jack informed her. Or, at least, I am...

And I love you just the way you are, Sam made sure to tell him as she kissed him in one last blaze of heated glory. Don't ever change...

I'm too old to change, Jack told her. Changing me is like trying to change Teal'c. Sam giggled. We're both rocks, Jack said. He kissed her again, then, panting, wrapped his arms around her. Carter... Pant, pant... You're my Carter...

And you're my Jack... Sam said, and hugged him back, hard. Thank God.

Sequel: Phone Calls Late at Night Are Enough to Thrill Even Jack, the Most Jaded Person in the Universe

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