If I claim that I own them
And got rich off this source
Then one can condemn,
And jail is my course,
Where I'll wallow away
And feel nothing but pain,
Though my Stargate will stay,
My fun will remain.
Yet this is fic, you insist.
No grandeur will stick.
If I still try to resist,
I vow, my ass you can kick.

AN: Takes place in between seasons eight and nine, right after the season eight episode 'Moebius.'

`The Plan'

by Linda Bindner

Sam was never certain about how Jack felt about her, and it was driving her so nuts that she couldn't get anything done anymore. It was useless to be in her lab, as whatever recent piece of equipment she was given, her attention only ever remained fixed on it for half an hour at most. The rest of the time she spent staring at the wall, daydreaming, thinking, or worrying that she had done too much damage to the internal trust and affection that he had always held for her the past seven + years with her now ended engagement to Pete Shanahan. It was useless for Daniel and Teal'c to try to put to rest all her concerns, though they did try... constantly.

But try as they might, not getting any confirmation from Jack himself that he absolved her fears was enough to spur on those same fears of hers until they had threatened to grow to become as large as Cheyenne Mountain itself. Such active fears weren't just taking up a great portion of her attention, to the point that she was beginning to make mistakes, but they were finally threatening to completely consume her. And that just wasn't acceptable any longer to Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter.

So one night, she woke from her thousandth nightmare about the subject in question, and had grown so sick and tired of the trembling and shaking that always followed those dreams that she grew determined to at last do something about her fears that had in turn caused her dreams.

But what could she possible do?

What indeed.

The next day an entirely separate issue was dropped in her proverbial lap, seemingly solving the problem of what to do about discovering how Jack felt about her in one rational sweep of her mental faculties.

And she hadn't even had to break a sweat in order to do it. If Jack O'Neill had known what was about to hit him, he would have been proud of her strategizing skills even as he might have wondered at her sanity. But, as things now stood, he never suspected a thing.

* * *

The briefing that happened two hours after Carter's Plan began to form in her mind had Daniel, as usual, doing most of the talking. So you see, he was saying as Jack valiantly tried his best to listen to his friend's every word without falling asleep. The report we got of the original survey of PRS-199 from the crew of The Prometheus this morning can be narrowed down to a few lines of... He seemed to search his mind for an appropriate explanation of what he was trying to say.

Jack broke in and said, Is it a report in a nutshell, Daniel?

Daniel snapped his fingers and pointed at General O'Neill with his right index finger. That's it exactly, he enthused. A nutshell report that says that PRS-199 is extremely rich in trinium deposits as well as Ancient writing on walls of what look to be temples, kind of like a library of buildings, if you will, only...

Jack again interrupted, Let me guess... Our main concern is that there doesn't seem to be a Stargate on this planet, he conjectured.

Carter broke in now, her attention engaged for the moment. She wanted to take advantage of her intense focus on the topic while she had it. There's a platform that indicates that a Stargate was once there, Sir, she said, But the reports mention that it was destroyed in what must have been an extremely powerful battle between the one-time inhabitants of...

Jack nodded, looking irritated now, and noted, I read the report, too, Carter.

Carter looked so momentarily stunned at the idea that Jack had bothered to read any report he had been given that she was rendered speechless.

Slowly Jack grinned at Carter's silence. You're speechless... Well, this is a first, he murmured.

Carter didn't quite know how to respond to that personal comment of his. So instead she just focused on the issue under discussion. You've read the report? she blurted. Has this ever happened before? Then she flushed at the apparent brazenness of her question.

Yes, I occasionally read reports, Jack said in a completely nonchalant tone that Carter wondered how he'd managed to carry off.

Her own tone slightly irritated now with his flippancy... or lack of it... she said, You know what I mean.

I do, Jack admitted then. He went on to predict, And you want me... all of us? She shook her head. Some of us, he corrected. Some of us to make a tiny expedition to this planet via jumper so that you can confirm the Prometheus crew's 'original report,' so that mining of this planet's trinium deposits can go into effect as soon as possible.

Carter felt she had to point out, You have to admit, Sir, that producing this much trinium will make the Oversight Committee nothing less than ecstatic.

And if the Oversight Committee is ecstatic, Jack finished for her, The President is ecstatic.

Daniel continued, And if the President is happy... ecstatic... then the SGC retains its current amount of funding for at least another year. He eyed his three companions sitting at the table in the Briefing Room. Doesn't that mean something to all of us here?

Jack sighed, then said, With the Jaffa Rebellion progressing so nicely...

Teal'c interjected to remind, The Jaffa Rebellion is to all purposes fast becoming The Free Jaffa Nation, a political force to be reckoned with on a galactic scale. The Oversight Committee surely knows of this.

Jack noted then, Which is why there is such interest in PRS-199, of course. He sighed again, his sound of aggravation washing over those ensconced in the room. The political maneuverings of this country is really beginning to annoy me.

Carter grinned a tiny grin. Only beginning to, Sir? she queried.

Jack grinned back at her. Good point, Carter.

It was comments just like that one from Jack that Teal'c and Daniel had been using to try to convince Sam that she had nothing to worry about concerning Jack's more open respect, if not obvious regard, for her. But she had consistently argued that even though he made such complimentary remarks about her quite often, it didn't mean that Jack held her in anything but professional regard at all. Her two team mates inevitably sighed, shook their heads at her stubbornness, then went on to argue even harder about their views concerning their General's comments. Sam wished it was enough to sway her opinions into alignment with theirs, but she continued to remain unusually stubborn for her.

Jack, of course, was kept oblivious to all of this, at her request.

But now Jack was thoughtfully staring straight at her with his deep brown eyed gaze until she had to either blink and look away, or thoroughly embarrass herself by grabbing his cheeks in her hands, and kissing him dizzy.

She was instantly aware of the irony of her decision. According to military rules, she had made the right choice by abstaining from doing what she wanted to do. But she wasn't so sure of her choice on a more personal level, if she could go by the churning in her stomach that she was currently suffering.

Sam swallowed the twisting sensation accosting her intestines, and for the moment, managed to push aside the feeling long enough for her to say in a somewhat intelligent sounding tone, However, you know that Daniel is slated to be out with SG-10 on that survey that's been scheduled for weeks. He leaves tomorrow. Then she gestured to Teal'c. And Teal'c plans to visit Ry'ac and Karryn until their baby is born. We can't exactly ask him not to go right now, as the baby can come at any time...

Or not for weeks, Jack reminded her. First babies are so darned unpredictable.

Carter agreed with him, though she really knew very little about first babies... or any babies at all, for that matter. Um... Yes... But you see our problem, she went on, speaking of things that she at least understood.

What about sending another team? Jack then suggested. Like... What about SG-15? They're stuck on base right now while Major Conson's broken leg heals.

Carter seemed to look like she was considering his argument, though she had already thought of this angle to take on the problem, and had her comments ready for him. I already thought of that, she admitted, And though it's a good idea, the members of the team that are left don't have nearly as much experience working with trinium as I do. She grimaced. I'm afraid they might mess up the samples, to be honest.

Okaaay. Jack pursed his lips, then said, SG-11?

Marines? Daniel barked. They might be a free team, but we don't need a passel of Marines to take trinium samples on a deserted planet!

They might get a bit... rough... anyway, Carter pointed out in a small voice. It would be a shame to get all the way out there only to come back with contaminated samples.

Jack sat forward in his chair. By the way, how do you plan to get out there if there's no Stargate on this planet? I know I already mentioned using the Jumper, but no one gave any kind of confirmation on that plan. So... you planning on using The Prometheus?

Daniel shoved his glasses up his nose. Uh, no, he said as he fiddled with the temple on his right ear. Finally, he took the glasses off, and rubbed the side of his head. Darn glasses, he mumbled. Hurts... Need to find my other pair... He replaced his glasses, then answered Jack's question. Um... no, he repeated. The Prometheus is trying to take some of the load off The Daedalus, and will be in Pegasus in a few weeks. They leave today, he reminded Jack.

Then The Daedalus itself? Jack next asked.

Carter shook her head. We want to 'Gate to this planet here, she explained, pointing at the star chart near his office with her index finger. PRX-989, she supplied. Then we'll fly the Jumper to PRS-199. She pointed again at a dot that was so close to the first planet that she seemed to not move her finger. It should only take about three hours to make it there at top speed.

Teal'c spoke up then, It would make little sense to travel in any other way than 'top speed,' ColonelCarter.

Jack covered his grin at what Teal'c had said with a hand in front of his mouth, and asked another mundane question in order to get the topic of discussion away from the Jaffa's comment. And you need me to fly you to this... this PRS-199?

Carter smiled back at him anyway as she said, Unless I've been given the Ancients Gene in my sleep, and somebody forgot to tell me about it, yes, I need you to fly the ship, Sir.

At that news, Jack perked up. Heeey... A trip off-world. Then he grinned at her. Haven't been on one of those since the whole 'Maybourne and his merry wives' deal.

Carter tried to smile at him again, but she actually only managed to look very pained at the memory that was being recalled. To distract herself, and them, she persuasively added, And it would be a very easy mission for you, too, Sir, as PRS-199 is uninhabited.

Jack's expression instantly turned sour. A mission on an uninhabited planet? Those are the first missions to go South, he explained. Now you have me worried.

Daniel shrugged. There's no reason to worry that we can think of, he told his friend. Not unless the Goa'uld turn up unexpectedly. And PRS-199's not in the Abydos cartouche system, so that's a pretty remote chance.

Then who defeated the Ancients in the first place, and destroyed the Stargate? Jack queried next.

Daniel huffily said, Jack... That was over 10,000 years ago! I kinda think whoever did this went on to ravage some other planet.

Carter piped up, Or else the trinium would have been mined a long time ago.

But it's right there, in the top soil, Daniel argued.

Suddenly nervous of such a good thing, Jack said, Is that trinium there as a trap, just waiting to catch us unawares?

Daniel rolled his eyes. Yes, Mr. Ultra Worrywart, it's been lying in the ground for thousands of years just on the off chance that someone like us will investigate.

We sure could use your fighting expertise on this mission, Carter managed to throw in as another round of mocking persuasion.

Jack growled, but looked pleased that she thought so highly of his strategic skills in spite of his tone. You just want to butter me up so I'll agree to this... whatever it is.

This expedition, Carter helpfully supplied.

Right. This expedition, Jack echoed.

According to the almost-eager sound of his voice, he had all but agreed to accompany her on this mission. There was only a little necessary mental nudging needed to persuade him to give the mission a 'go.' So Carter purposefully smiled at him, her special smile that went all the way to her eyes, making them blaze in the lights of the Briefing Room. Buttering you up sure doesn't hurt, she teased, aware of the expression she was currently using to 'butter up' the General. It was the first time she had consciously tried to use her feminine charm to get her way with him, but it was important that he agree to take her on this mission, or she might as well retire from the Air Force right now, as she wouldn't be any good to have around anyway.

And it worked. Carter was aware of the exact second that General O'Neill began to soften. His face smoothed out, and his forehead uncreased from its typical load of worry wrinkles that he carried. He caught himself just before he would have smiled back at her, and turned his expression into something much more thoughtful as he asked, This is that important to you?

Carter briefly wondered when this 'buttering up' had changed from being about a mission to being about her in particular, but she wasn't about to kick a gift horse in the mouth at this point. So she sighed, then admitted, It could potentially be a lot of work for nothing if we don't do this right the first time, Sir.

Jack suddenly came to a decision. Okay, Little-Miss-Control-Freak, you have a go. I would love to get off world, and I bet you would love to be in control of... He paused. Get your hands on some nice soil samples, he said instead. When do you want to leave?

Carter was a bit stunned that it had been so easy to convince him. She had expected to need to argue much more, and was prepared with three other points to challenge his potential excuses not to go on this mission in the first place. But it seemed that she wouldn't need to use them now. Uh.., she stuttered, caught momentarily off guard. She thought quickly. I can get all my notes collected by this afternoon... say... by 1500?

Perfect. O'Neill slapped at the table with the palm of his hand. Well... It's only 1000 right now. Time for cake. He rose from his chair, then without looking back, disappeared down the hall in the direction of the Commissary.

Did he just give you a new nickname? Daniel asked Sam as he gathered together the papers he'd brought to the briefing. What was it again? he asked, posing with his hand on his forehead. Little Miss what?

I am not a control freak! Carter firmly stated as they all followed in the General's footsteps and entered the corridor outside the Briefing Room. She tried her best to ignore the way she had attempted to control the previous briefing as she walked towards her lab.

Suddenly the light twinkled in Daniel's eyes, shining behind his glasses. Whatever you say, he said, then nonchalantly went on, Jack agreed to take you because it was you who asked, you know.

Carter turned her half grimace, half astonished expression on him. It was not! she protested loudly. Daniel!... What a half baked idea!

'Methinks you doth protest too much,' Daniel instantly retorted.

Carter immediately retorted back, Methinks those books of yours are finally making you insane, Daniel. I always wondered when that would happen, and now it has. She continued to walk in the direction of her lab, her mind already on the notes she needed to collect before 1500 that afternoon.

Daniel called after her. How about Little-Miss-Number-Cruncher?

Daniel! she called back in warning.


Have fun on your mission, Daniel! she shouted back over her shoulder. And Teal'c... Give my congratulations to Ry'ac and Carryn when the baby is born! With that, she was gone.

Daniel and Teal'c watched her go, leaving them alone in the corridor. Daniel narrowed his eyes in speculation. Did you see what she did to Jack? he asked when Sam had disappeared around a corner.

Yes, DanielJackson, Teal'c bluntly answered.

Daniel continued to stare at the corner she'd just vanished around. He went on to say, Just to get this straight, she smiled at Jack, and... Daniel turned to regard the Jaffa beside him. Was it my imagination, or did she smile at him in such a way that he immediately gave whatever she was asking for?

Teal'c somberly stared at his friend. You are correct in what you think you saw, DanielJackson.

Daniel again screwed his eyes shut in thought. Does that mean that we can get Jack to give us whatever we want just by having Sam ask him for it?

Teal'c replied, We should endeavor not to take advantage of our new knowledge, DanielJackson.

Daniel protested, Yeah, but... Do we have what I think we have here? He turned to face Teal'c. A secret weapon of sorts?

Teal'c stared at him in unabashed sincerity. I think we do, he flatly said.

Daniel sighed then, only once. Yep, he said, sounding as casual as he could make his voice. That's love, or I miss my mark, there's no two ways about it.

Indeed, Teal'c said next, his hands thoughtfully grasped behind his back.

Daniel seriously regarded his friend then. Do you think that Jack will give me a new micrometer if I have Sam ask him for it?

Teal'c sighed this time. Ask soon, DanielJackson, before O'Neill discovers what you plan to do, he suggested. As you often tell me, 'it is the early bird that gets the worm.' Then Teal'c cocked his head to the side. I do not understand that comment. Does it perhaps pertain to the art of fishing? he asked.

Daniel lowered his voice to sound deep and sonorous as he chanted back, Indeed.

* * *

Hours passed. Sam glanced out the window to see the blackness of space filling the jumper's front windshield. 'Gating to PRX-989 had been easy enough, and flying to PRS-199 had been simple after they'd left the first planet's atmosphere. She and the General had talked about every subject under the sun, even about the untimely death of her father, but had finally fallen silent in the last half hour out from the planet. She reminded herself to begin thinking of him as 'Jack,' since thinking of him as 'the General' wasn't particularly conducive to a plot to kidnap him, which is what she 'planned' to do. Her nerves twitched again into a tight ball in her stomach at her pretended calmness of this 'Plan.' She noted that they were about to enter this second planet's atmosphere at the same time that her stomach heaved.

The trip down through the many layers of air was more uneventful than calming her errant intestines. Let's find that clearing the SGC means for us to land in, the General (Jack!) softly said to her, breaking the silence, and the jumper banked sharply to the left for a second. As they skimmed the treetops under them, flying towards the location of the hoped-for trinium deposits, he noted, You've been pretty quiet lately. Is everything all right?

Sam glanced up at him, an expression of surprise on her face. No! she answered, meaning to reassure him, realizing only at the last second what she had said. I mean 'yes!' She gave a flustered sigh. I mean... uh... I'm fine! There's nothing bothering me.

Jack turned to give her a fast glance again. You're sure? he inquired. Because you look a little... tense... to me.

Sam looked more surprised yet at his second question, even if she was faking her expression of that surprise. I'm fine, honest, she said again, lying. She didn't bother to voice what was really on her mind as 'The Plan' continued to refine itself in her conscience.

He didn't look entirely convinced, but was willing to go along with her commentary. Okay.., came his doubtful reply.

Sam sent a smile his way, a gesture meant to reassure him even as her stomach churned once more. It was amazing how close feelings of unacted-upon affection felt similar to an attack of nerves, she thought. Jack's brows rose at her last statement as he peered at her, so she knew that she wasn't completely successful with her expression, or of hiding her case of nerves, but he continued with his flying nonetheless.

Five minutes later, the jumper/time machine/Ancient ship-that-had-saved-their-butts-more-times-than-they-could-count landed in the center of a grassy meadow on the planet's southern hemisphere. It touched the grass, and Sam felt the ship sink a fraction of an inch into the ground. It would leave a mark, she knew, but one would have to be a skilled tracker, like Teal'c, to even see it.

There, Jack said, but he didn't power down the ship. Instead, he leaned back to slide his pilot's chair back on its track on the floor, and gracefully rose to walk towards her. Before Sam had the chance to react at all, he had purposefully, yet gently, reached around her side to pull her military-issue Beretta out of it's holster. He hauled her P-90 from its hooks on her vest, pulling both weapons into his waiting hands before she was able to clear the astonishment from her throat. What... What are you doing?

Jack hefted the weapons again, but took the time to run his finger affectionately down her cheek... an odd action considering the weapons he held. Then he made his way back to his own chair, placing her two guns beside his on the seat directly behind the pilot's chair.

Scooting his chair forward on its track on the floor, he grabbed hold of the two controls and looked like he concentrated for a split second, sending tingles of energy rippling through them both as he suddenly and quietly reported, I'm kidnapping you.

She couldn't have been more surprised than if he had calmly told her that he had wet his pants. Kidnapping me? she echoed, all the while thinking You can't! How can I kidnap you if you're kidnapping me? This wasn't part of 'The Plan.'

The tingle that she'd felt had barely had time to fade into the normal hum of the ship's engine. But Sam knew with certainty that the jumper had followed Jack's mental command, and they were now cloaked, invisible to any prying eyes if anyone happened on to this world. Sam watched helplessly as the ship rose again from its resting spot in the clearing, then shot away to skim over the treetops in a westerly direction.

Sam at least trusted Jack not to take her to a place where she couldn't return from, so she settled into her chair and tried to relax. As she didn't have the Ancient gene required to pilot the ship, she had little choice but to try to relax. Yet, relaxing was hard. Her sudden lack of control didn't exactly fit into her designs for this trip.

A moment later, she asked, Do you mind telling me why it is that you feel like you have to... to kidnap me?

With no hesitation, Jack gently answered, Because it's time that we talked, Carter.

'Talked?' Sam stupidly repeated him. About... what?

Suddenly seeming nervous, Jack cleared his throat. He stuttered, About... um... us...

'Us?' Sam echoed in a flat voice. Finally, she sighed. General, there is no 'us.'

I know, Jack whispered. His throat grated again. He cleared it again. That's what we... I... need to talk about.

Oh. Sam sounded discombobulated in spite of her attempt to act nonchalant.

Jack went on, I'm not about to let the chance of another 'Pete Shanahan' incident to happen, and I knew that I had to do something, and though this is a rather... he searched his mind for the correct word. A rather drastic thing to do... he finally said. I think it's time for drastic actions. He turned to stare at her. Don't you?

Sam didn't respond because she didn't know how to respond to such a speech. She knew that behaving disgruntled would set him more firmly in his chosen course of action, so doing more than relaxing was detrimental to either of their continued well being. And if she were honest with herself, she had planned to kidnap him, after all. He had just gotten to her first. Besides, did she truly want him to behave any differently than he was? And this flying away thing? she asked, prompting his answer.

I don't want to be risk being discovered by anyone from the SGC until I'm ready for them to discover us, Jack replied.

And you'll be ready..? When?

Jack responded to her question. That depends on you.

On me? Sam couldn't be more surprised.

Jack shrugged. On what you say... though there's no pressure here. He sighed again. I just want to know... what it is that you're thinking. What...

He had read her mind by doing the same thing she was going to do, right? Sam suddenly smiled, amused by the similarities between their two 'Plans.' She abruptly cut him off by accusing, You read my mind, didn't you?

This stunned Jack enough to make him blurt, I did... what? He gaped at her. Do you mean that you were gonna do the same thing? he asked incredulously, loud now that she had said something.

Sam's grin just wouldn't slide off her face. Well, not exactly the same, she admitted. But the details are close enough that it's strange that.., she began to say, then admitted, Actually, it's downright eerie how much what you've done is the same to what I had in mind to do.

Jack smiled ever so slightly, and only someone practiced in reading his expressions could detect the twinkle in his eyes. Really?

Really, she said, gaining confidence as she continued to answer him.

What was it that you were gonna do?

Sam thought about what to tell him. Finally she said to him, Uh... I was going to basically do the same thing... kidnap you... only I wasn't really looking forward to asking you to cloak and fly the ship to a predetermined site. It's not like I can do anything on my own about where we fly, where we land, and how we do it, she admitted with a laugh.

While they'd been talking, Jack had lowered the jumper through the trees and settled it in another field far from the first. The invisible ship slid to a stop in its new-home-away-from-home, remaining indiscernible to the naked eye.

Jack turned to her once they'd successfully set down on the ground and he had powered down the engines. So, he feigned casualness... though, he was actually so nervous that the sensation was practically rolling off him. What were you thinking of talking to me about? He knew what she wanted to talk about, but... I mean, what specifically did you want to say? he added.

Um... What did Sam tell him now? She hadn't exactly gotten this far in her 'planning.' Um... She stared at him as her heart did little flips inside her chest.

Carter, how did you expect to..?

Sam interrupted, For starters, I thought about asking you to call me 'Sam.'

I'll do that, Jack slowly promised. As long as I don't hear a single 'Sir' out of you.

Whatever you say, General, Sam instantly replied, a tiny smile gracing her lips.

Ack! Jack exclaimed and pointed at the jumper's ceiling with his finger, rolling his eyes at her. No 'General,' either. It's 'Jack,' or it's nothing.

Sam gazed at him in doubt. I'll try... That's all I can promise.

Acceptable, he responded. Same here.

Then they vacantly looked at each other. The only emotion that Sam could discern lurking in the depths of his eyes was fear. She stared until she couldn't stand the pregnant silence another moment. Um, she spluttered. What was it that... um... you... um... wanted to talk to me about? she asked, even though she knew perfectly well that he wished to inquire about the state of her feelings for him. So she answered herself, adding, Specifically, I mean. She sighed. What did you want to say? she inquired.

Jack looked both frightened and determined. Uh... Instead of answering, he turned the question back on her. What was it you wanted to talk to me about... about 'us'?

Once again Sam didn't know how to respond. Um... She remained silent.

Car... Sam?

It was only his inquiring voice that lent her the courage to ignore her furiously racing heart enough to say, I was... uh... I was going to... um...


To ask how you feel about me, she breathed in a rush of words. About there being an 'us'... maybe... eventually... I just want to know, she desperately explained. Finally.

Jack gave a look that said he was astounded by her question, or at least astounded that she had found enough courage to ask it in the first place, even though asking had been part of his 'Plan' when he had originally kidnapped her. But he knew that thinking about asking what her feelings for him were was very different than actually doing the asking! Um.., he said, sounding like he lacked equal courage in responding to her comment, though it had been him who had kidnapped her.

Yes? she inquired.

Suddenly Jack laughed. We seem to both be impressively unable to say anything at all about what our feelings are, even though we both had the idea to push this issue in the first place, he commented.

Sam blushed at his comment. Well, she said, I admit that it was always my idea to ask you the same question... which is why I wanted us to come on this mission together.

That briefing about this mission was where I first thought of kidnapping you, too, I admit, he told her.

So, she said.

So, he repeated.

Back to her. Where does that leave us? she dutifully asked.

Well... Jack considered her question, and his answer, staring blankly out the forward window the entire time.

Well.., she said.

Will you cut that out, Carter? Jack groused. I can't think when you're repeating everything I say.

Whatever you say, General, Sir, she immediately replied.

Jack's gaze swiveled in her direction. He hadn't missed the way she had called him by his military title. You did that on purpose, didn't you? he accused in some humor.

She responded readily enough. You called me 'Carter' Sir. I only responded in kind.

Jack grinned again. You're right... Sam. Then he rubbed dispiritedly at his face with his fingers. I guess I asked for that.

I guess you did, she said, also staring out the front window.

We're avoiding again, he promptly told her.

That comment caught Sam's attention enough for her to gaze at him instead of out the front window. We're what?

Avoiding, he told her. Pretending, he said next. Ignoring, he added for good measure.

Sam gave a soft snort. You can hardly blame us, she said. We've been doing the same things for... how long?

Seven or eight years? Jack queried.

Something like that, Sam replied.

Then there was silence between them. A big silence.

Jack broke the silence when he remarked, We're doing it again.

We aren't doing anything, she protested.

Exactly, Jack finished for her. Just like we haven't done anything for seven...

... or eight...

... or eight, he corrected, Eight years.

Sam shrugged then. Well, you can hardly expect us to change eight years worth of habit in one conversation.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, excuses, excuses, excuses, Jack instantly remarked when she was finished speaking. That's what we're making... excuses. We need to talk, not make excuses for not talking.

Sam gazed at him in hesitation when he didn't say more. You're not talking, she noted.

Neither are you, he noted back.

Sam sighed.

Jack sighed.

Then they both laughed at the same time.

We are so pathetic, he next announced.

Sam nodded her head. We're pathetic, she agreed.

Jack glanced at the reflection she made in the front window. Well, he prompted when he had calmed enough to speak.

Well, she prompted back.

Jack sighed in aggravation. Say something, dammit! he ordered.

You first! she ordered back.

Silence again reined in the jumper's forward compartment.

I'm waiting, Sam reminded him at last.

I'm thinking, he replied.

Thinking about..? What? she prompted back at him.

Thinking that I'm getting damned annoyed at you even asking what I'm thinking is what I'm thinking! Jack huffily exclaimed.

Sam gusted a breath of air in his direction. This is so dumb, she proclaimed. We can't even talk about this, she added.

We're talking! Jack insisted.

No, we're not, Sam negated.

I don't know about you, but I'm opening my mouth, and words are coming out. That's 'talking' in my book! Jack declared.

Sam gazed at him in irritation. And in all that blustering that you're doing, have you said one word to me about your feelings? she demanded to know. Have you even hit upon the subject?

Have you? he immediately demanded back.

Her response was swift, and not at all what he expected it to be. She turned around to face the wall. Okay, she firmly said. It's obvious that you only say you want to ask me about what's going on in my head, but you don't actually care enough to tell me what's going on in yours, so...

Jack sprang out of the pilot's seat and grabbed her shoulders to spin her chair around so that she was forced to face him. You're talking to a wall, he announced. Is that what you want to be doing?

No! Sam stared straight at him this time, her tone bordering on angry now. I'd much rather be talking to you... but that doesn't appear to be an option right now! So I...

Again he interrupted her, Dammit, Carter, I...

Her eyes blazed. He wouldn't say it, she incredulously thought. He wouldn't, or he couldn't. You what? she spat, disappointed in what he wasn't doing. But also disappointed in what she wasn't doing, too.

Will you shut up for one minute?! he inquiringly demanded.

You shut up! she yelled back, unwilling to go out on a limb for him if he wasn't equally as willing to do the same thing for her. How can I..?

And that was when he shut her up for her by kissing her in a swift gesture that was over practically before it began. She stared at him out of eyes as wide as a quarter. Had he really done what she..?

Did it really matter?

Jack softly held her cheeks in his hands, and fingered her hair at the back of her head. He smiled crookedly at her and gently said, Even if I can't tell you, I sure can show you.

He pulled her into an embrace that was as welcoming and accepting as it was sudden and unexpected. Sam instantly relaxed the rest of the way into him, no matter what she was thinking of doing or not doing. It was as if she no longer had control over her body's instant acceptance of him. She felt like she'd been gone for a long time and had finally arrived home the second she was in his arms.

Of course he couldn't say anything, she chided herself. He'd never been much of a run-off-at-the-mouth kind of guy, not about his feelings, anyway. If she wanted someone to tell her daily that he loved her, then she might as well have married Pete.

But, she admitted that she would far rather have someone show her his love for her every day of her life, every minute, every second...

Jack was murmuring something into her right ear now, something that included saying her name, 'Samantha,' over and over again. Not 'Sam, and not 'Carter,' but 'Samantha.' He was talking to her like no one else ever had, not even her parents, who had always called her 'Sam.' But Jack was currently telling Samantha that he loved the way she ate blue Jell-o every day in the Commissary for lunch. He said that he loved the way she frequently had to calmly rewrite portions of the dialing program on the fly when it unexpectedly broke. He whispered that he loved the way she smiled at him even when she shouldn't have known he was watching her. And that he loved the way she walked so jauntily down an SGC corridor when she was on her way to a briefing, and that he loved the way she had sputtered awake and called him 'Jack' when she had been aboard The Prometheus for four awful days, and that he...

'Samantha' interrupted him, Jack, I love your sarcasm, and your disregard for authority, and your cheekiness, and that way that you refuse to ever leave anybody behind, and the messy way you sign your forms, and the way you hate paperwork, and how you always play with a yo-yo when you think no one is looking, and how you always choose the one thing to fiddle with that I've set out just for you in my lab, and...

Samantha, Jack gently chided in a voice so low that it was more mesmerizing than a whisper. Shut up.

Sam happily sighed when he called her by her full name, knowing that she was melting into him, knowing that she was willing to do anything for him simply because he saw her as 'Samantha' and not 'Sam,' and knowing that she didn't really care about any of what she knew right then. Whatever you say, she whispered back to him.

Jack slowly allowed himself to send her a tiny grin, more a curving of his lips than anything else. Finally, he said on a soft exhalation of air. A quiet Samantha Carter.

You'd better kiss 'quiet Samantha Carter' stupid before she does the same to you, Sam recommended.

Jack leaned into her until their mouths were only an inch away from each other. Is Samantha Carter as stupid about me as I am about her?

Stupider, Sam immediately announced, and didn't even worry if that was a word or not.

Jack finished making that last inch between them disappear as he kissed her lovingly on the mouth in a gesture that was slow, sweet, achingly tender, and quickly over. Excellent, he told her in the same low voice he'd been using for this entire portion of their conversation.

This time it was Samantha who kissed him in a gesture that was not remotely over as quickly as its predecessor had been.

When they tentatively parted, Jack grinned at Samantha. Samantha grinned at Jack. Then they kissed each other stupid in a ship that was cloaked on an uninhabited planet, thousands of light years from everything that they had ever known...

In a stray thought that echoed through her mind, Sam considered that 'The Plan' had already made their time together as successful as a mission could get. Stupid and successful.

Here's to stupidity, Sam thought to herself with glee as she kissed Jack again, or Jack kissed her.

No other mission had ever been this much... this much fun.

And it had only just begun.

The End

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