Beyond 'Moebius' - a Novel

Version One

by Linda Bindner

Part III: Samantha's Journal

Much to Jack's distress, Sam was called back into the Mountain to run 'Gate diagnostics and tweak her algorithm program as they tried to leave the Complex together after she had spoken to Daniel, and then to General Hammond, until it was a full two hours later than when he had found her journal. As General Hammond was available at all times, O'Neill had never felt more replaceable, or more alone, as Sergeant Siler apologetically pulled Sam away from his side at the elevator that led to the surface. Without Sam constantly at his side, he felt more alone while engaged to her than he ever had before. Now there's irony for ya, he thought to himself as the elevator slowly rose to the surface.

Jack sighed once, sad resignation leaking through the sound. Then he hefted Sam's journal that he still carried with him, determined to spend the night reading, since it was obvious that he wasn't going to have anything better to do before the following morning. He held the binder close to his chest so as to make certain not to lose his precious cargo, and walked alone to his truck. He stopped once on the way home, at the deli that Sam had wanted to go to for lunch. After buying the biggest BLT sandwich they carried, a medium coke, and a chocolate chip cookie, he journeyed home, where the house seemed empty and silent after he'd spent practically the entire day with Sam. It's downright ironic, he thought again as he closed the front door behind him, shutting out the world and it's noises. Only a few hours had gone by since he'd asked Sam to marry him... and already he was so used to her company that he almost couldn't function alone anymore. What a pathetic man I'm becoming, he thought with a satirically wry shake of his head.

He immediately turned his attention to the journal in his hands, and looked at it, all innocent in its black binder marked as Military Strategy, binder #7. Slowly he grinned. He had a piece of Sam to keep him company after all.

In anticipation, he sat down on his sofa to eat his dinner and begin reading.

Excerpt from Sam's Journal

January 6, 2004

I'm so excited! At 1100 this afternoon I'm shipping out aboard The Prometheus to advise the original crew concerning the ship's engines on a shakedown cruise. The new hyperdrive has recently been installed, and with only minor adjustments at this point, should be good to go for longer trips, maybe even around the galaxy, maybe even to the Asgard homeworld and back. It would be incredible to not have to rely on Thor for transportation between Earth and Orilla for once. Though Colonel O'Neill claims that Thor doesn't mind transporting us back and forth all the time, it would be good to be self-sufficient for a change. Although the Asgard do tend to say that The Prometheus is simple in design, it's the best the Air Force, or Earth, for that matter, has to offer at this time.

Okay... 'simple' my ass, as Jack would say. The hyperdrive engines use a complex mixture of Asgard and Earth based technologies, and took some of our greatest minds years to develop. I probably would have been assigned to The Prometheus project if the SGC didn't already need me here.

Actually, it's kind of nice to be needed somewhere. Daniel alone needs my help to write an interface program to help him translate the new 'Rosetta Stone' of the SGC, a tablet that SG-13 just brought back through the 'Gate yesterday. I have to start writing that program the minute I get back on Friday. And there's no way that Jack would ever let me transfer to The Prometheus, even if I wanted to, which I don't. The assignment would be fascinating, I admit, but the idea of giving up 'Gate travel, not seeing Daniel and Teal'c, Janet... not to mention Jack... every day just kind of leaves me cold. To not see him all the time, hear his voice, watch him smile... (Sometimes I even think I can smell him! I know that's dumb.) Anyway, you might as well kill me now. 'Cause if I were transferred to work on The Prometheus, then I wouldn't be good for anything besides getting back to Earth.

The brilliant mind of Major Carter maybe isn't so brilliant if Jack isn't also along for the ride. (I am so far gone, I can't even find myself anymore!)

January 12, 2004

My 'advisory' mission aboard The Prometheus was a little more than I bargained for. Actually, was a lot more than I bargained for. I just now got out of the Infirmary after two days there, following four days stuck on board The Prometheus as the only crewmember, with a concussion the size of Texas running around inside my brain, and no way out of this nebula both me and this alien ship were stuck in that's on the other side of the galaxy. It was totally up to me to save all of us inside the nebula, and to find a way home. In other words, we all would have died a terrible, lonely death, and no one would even have known where we were. But, no pressure or anything.

That 'no one' I'm thinking of is, of course, Jack. I can't even begin to imagine how horrible it must have been for him, for all of SG-1, not knowing where I was, not being able to help, not knowing what to do. It's a wonder they all didn't pull their hair out. Well, Teal'c doesn't have any hair to pull out, or I'm sure he would have gone bald, too. (Crap... he already is bald)

As it is, I think Jack seems grayer than he was before I left when he went with me to The Prometheus site to see me off. He said that after that one time when me and Jonas were kidnapped while on board that 'bucket of bolts' (something tells me that I need to regulate his viewings of Star Wars with Teal'c again), he didn't trust 'those government yahoos' as far as he can throw them with a member of his team. He stayed until he heard from me via radio link that we were all okay to go. I like to think, however, that he was staying for other reasons, all of which shall remain nameless, but have to do with me specifically being okay. Not that he could have done anything for me, anyway, not in the long run. But it's the thought that counts. Or the wished-for thought, as the case may be.

I didn't put this in my final report (only one of the many things that haven't ended up in final reports over the years) While I was alone on Prometheus and trying to find a way out of the nebula, I had... visions?... hallucinations?... a backtalking brain?... I mean, who needs a brain that back talks to you?

Anyway, I saw... hallucinated... everybody, even though I knew I was alone on board the ship. By everybody, I mean Teal'c, Daniel, my Dad, Jack, and this little girl named Grace who I suspect might be someone from my future, and who's related to me, who kept singing 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,' and who ran around the ship, blowing bubbles all the time. They all wanted to tell me different things... even Jack told me something... besides telling me to go save my ass... he said that he would never ask me to give up my career for him. But I already knew that. Well, of course I did, since he... the hallucination of him, I mean... came from my own brain. So in effect, I was talking to myself.

If that's the case, I wish I had given myself a translation dictionary, or something. Dad (and I'll never forget this)(and I think I'm interpreting this right) He told me that I need to give up on the things that are keeping me from finding love, that it's time to be happy. I think he means that I have to stop this waiting for Jack that I've been doing for years, and move on with my life. That's the only thing I can think of that he could possibly mean.

Only, I don't know if I can do that. I mean, this is Jack that Dad was talking about! My Jack, my Colonel... I can't just give up on him like that! Just because nothing will ever, or can ever, happen between us isn't a good enough reason to forget the entire existence of the last seven years! Besides, I...

Oh crap (Jackism!), there's the off-world activation alarm... gotta go. More later...

January 25, 2004

Took Dad's (my?) advice. I did a tour around Colorado Springs for a friend of Mark's, some cop named Pete. I've been dating him off and on since the day of the tour.

I don't know what I think about all this. I mean, he's nice, and apparently he's plenty brave, since he's a cop, and he treats me very well, but...

I can hear the Colonel in my head saying, 'There's always a 'but'...' But... Sometimes I think Pete's too nice, too accommodating. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. And I have to remember that I didn't get that advice to move on from Dad. That was me talking, so there's no trying to please 'the old man' (as Mark would have said when we were teenagers) on this one.

And I keep feeling like I'm cheating on Jack. Which is dumb. How can you cheat on someone you never had anything going with in the first place? But it's as if Jack's trying to tell me something, and I can almost hear him, but he's talking underwater, so the message is garbled and I can't make it out.

Anyway, this doesn't feel... right. That's all I can say.

Jan 26, 2004

The other shoe dropped. I knew that eventually it would.

Pete's following me. I'm pretty sure that he is anyway. I saw... something... this morning that looked an awful lot like the SUV that he drives parked a little way down my street, facing the house. I got in my car, like normal, then circled around the block and watched to see what would happen.

Yep... It was Pete. He was across the street, between two houses, hiding in the hedges between the two properties. I could barely see him without binoculars, but he was watching my house. I'll have to remember to pull the window shades tonight. I don't want him to see me dressing, or anything.

This is pretty creepy. But why don't I just confront him, or turn him in, or beat the crap out of him with a ten foot pole, you ask? If I do that, I risk Mark never speaking to me again. He would never understand something like this. He would say that I'm making things up again, that the Pete he knows wouldn't do such a thing as watch someone, yadda, yadda, yadda, etc, etc, etc. Maybe he doesn't know this Pete as well as he thinks he does. They may have been friends in college, but it's been a long time since then.

So... Think I'll just play it cool, and see what happens next.

Jan. 27, 2004

Saw Pete again today. He was sitting on the street behind the house this time. Glad I thought to keep the curtains pulled all the time, even at the back of the house.

I'm beginning to think that Mark isn't worth all this trouble. Even if he yells at me.

January 29, 2004

Geez! Another few days in the Infirmary. Am I ever anywhere else these days?

One of Anubis' Super Soldiers had been ordered to have me and Dad for breakfast at the Alpha Site. We still don't know how Anubis learned the address for the Alpha Site (suspect how, but don't know, though). Dad just barely got away, and Colonel O'Neill found him just this side of alive with a broken leg, or some such injury. Then he and Teal'c came looking for me. They only found me because that dumb soldier drone fella shot down a UAV near my location. Shooting that UAV down gave away our position as nicely as if he had pointed his finger and screamed, There she is! If he'd just kept his arm to himself for a change, the Colonel would never have found me in time before that thing could finish me off. Anything Goa'uld is so darned arrogant!

As it is, it's lucky for me the Colonel's such a stubborn man. He kept looking until he and Teal'c got the UAV break. I was about two seconds away from being a goner when they literally came stampeding out of the bushes and killed the drone. I was so wiped out that I could barely walk at the time.

In fact, I'm still wiped out. Wonder if Jack's free to drive me home, now that I'm released from the Infirmary? Huh! I can only hope!

Feb. 11, 2004

Janet's dead.

Sometimes this job really sucks.

March 9, 2004

Janet, and now Jack. Only Jack's not dead. But he might as well be.

He's stuck in Antarctica, frozen inside some dome built by the Ancients. He destroyed Anubis.

God, sometimes this job really sucks, big time! Oh, I already said that. Well, it bears repeating... again and again and again!

I'm Cassie's legal guardian now, all she has left. Janet made a provision in her will that Cassie be left to me and Jack. We would share responsibility for her if something ever happened to Janet. Now, I guess Cassie's all mine... now that Jack...

So not going there!

May 19, 2004

I'm still seeing Pete. He's a good distraction, in spite of the whole 'following me around' thing. But following is all he's done so far. Which seems pretty harmless on the grand scale of things. But I'll be honest, I'm spending so much time with him because it works to keep my mind off the Colonel for a few hours. Does that mean that I'm using him? But I never promised to be free to do or be anything for Pete. And, in spite of the Pete distraction ratio, it's still like Jack's in limbo, not alive, and not dead. I'm in limbo, too.

General Hammond has been reassigned to Washington DC. I miss him so much. He was so... calm. So dependable. His replacement is some civilian lady with a billion degrees who speaks even more languages than Daniel does (it seems), named Dr. Elizabeth Weir. I don't know her very well. But every time she assigns me to something other than trying to figure out a way to save Jack, I get all bent out of shape and resentful. I need to stop doing that, or I'll be reassigned faster than I can say 'Netu!' That's not the way an Air Force Officer behaves.

But it's the way a woman in love behaves. (I still can't wholly believe I admitted that - finally - even to just my journal!)

May 20, 2004

And I'm not talking about being in love with Pete.

July 15, 2004

This is crazy!

Insane!

Jack's back! He's alive! He's all right! Thank God!

And I was, once again, kidnapped and tortured, this time by Replicators, Fifth to be exact. He let me go, but just barely in time. The first face I saw when I came awake on the new Asgard homeworld was Jack's. And he spoke my name. It was all I could do not to hug him for all I'm worth.

But those regulations... have to uphold the Regs. (Sarcasm Alert!)

Ya know, I'm beginning to think that I might have misinterpreted what Dad (me) said when I was alone on board The Prometheus. Now I'm beginning to think that Dad was saying that it wasn't time for me to give up on Jack... but time for me to quit letting Regs rule my life.

So where does that leave me? Where does that leave Jack? Where does that leave Pete? What am I going to do? Hmm.

Oh yeah... Got promoted again. I'm now Lieutenant Colonel Carter. That sounds weird. And Jack's now a General! Can you believe that!?! That sounds even weirder! But Jack's now in charge of the whole SGC! He's not on the team anymore... I'm in charge of SG-1 now!

I'm not sure I'm ready for command.

I'm not sure I'm ready to be in a command situation without Jack.

July 23, 2004

Anubis lives on, whether we want him to or not. I suppose we should have seen this one coming. I mean, remember Apophis, the Goa'uld who wouldn't die? Yeah, same thing this time.

Anubis (or his essence) even entered the General (Jack, not Hammond) for a few minutes. My heart was in my throat the entire time. The fact that Anubis was also inside me, controlling my movements, doesn't seem real, somehow. A lot like Jolinar, actually. But seeing him come out of Jack like that... I about died on the spot of fright.

July 24, 2004

I'm so mad right now... I could... and did... throw things all over my lab. It looks like the trash heap of the Milky Way, but I want to write before I clean up... trying to cool off if I can just get this off my chest. I'm too mad right now to clean, anyway. Might as well write as waste time staring at the wall.

But I don't believe it!

I was wasting time, breaking into the FBI database when... Pete, that swine, that...! I found out that he did a background check on me! On me! And he did it right before the Osiris Op, which he showed up at and almost ruined. At the time, I thought Jack was going to shoot Pete himself, but Pete was already shot. Instead, the Colonel (I suspect that this clearance was granted at Hammond's insistence, really. I can't see the Colonel giving Pete anything) Anyway, someone gave Pete clearance, for whatever reason, and the next thing I knew, I was in some Infirmary room, telling some Denver cop about some parts of the Stargate Program.

So there I was today, seeing Pete, but having to pretend that I didn't even know about the background check! That was a test of my acting skills, let me tell you!

Ya know, Pete didn't believe me about the Stargate at first when I told him about it. I mean, who would? But it made me think even then that I need to hone up on my convincing skills a bit, too.

And things seemed to be going pretty well before that time, too. I mean, it's just nice to have someone to do things with without worrying what other people might think. It's nice to hold someone's hand for a time, to...

Okay, I admit it... I had an itch, and... and Pete was available to scratch it. I'm sure it's nothing that the General hasn't done several times over the years! (Remember Kynthia... Laira...? Ew! Not names I want to remember, actually) Of course, that doesn't make it okay for me to just go out and have sex with the first guy I come across who's willing.

But it also doesn't give him (Pete) the damn right to check me out like I'm some bimbo on the Internet sex hot-line, either! I tell you, ever since I found out about that background check, it's taken every bit of my acting abilities not to bite Pete's head off.

I'm not being sarcastic, here. When Pete was in the Infirmary (The Infirmary makes me think of Janet. And how close I came to losing Jack, too. Janet's death about did me in. I hate to think what I would have done if Jack had died then, too.)

(And it drives me nuts the way Pete always treats me like I'm some China Doll whenever Janet's name is mentioned, as if I'm going to break every time me and Cassie talk about her. Huh! If he only knew half the things I've seen and done... all without throwing up, or breaking once... then he'd probably faint from just the thought.

Men!)

September 1, 2004

It'll probably be one of the last nice weekend days we have, so I went out to the range and shot my small Rohrbaugh M9 Stealth pistol today, all afternoon. If I had known twenty years ago that I would actually own a gun someday, I would have fallen over in a dead faint!

Before I bought this gun (right after that kidnapping/Adrian Conrad incident a few years back)(and I ALWAYS keep it in my pants pocket, because 'you never know' as the Colonel... General... says)(and I bought it because of the cool name, I admit) Anyway, before I bought this particular gun I own... that's in my pants pocket (God, I actually carry a gun?) I looked at a Smith and Wesson, and a Seecamp, too. The gun shop I went to didn't have any other small guns, like a Kahr... Is it called a Kahr MK9? Or something like that... Anyway, I read about those once. I guess they have quite a kick to the hand when they fire. But then, all small guns do. Let's face it, this is no P-90! But my aim is improving some, especially after today.

My gun fires okay. It pulls to the left a little. I had to compensate for that a bit by aiming farther to the right than I normally do. And, I wish I could find some half gloves like the General has. Those would protect my hands some, at least. I'll have to remember to ask him where he got those. 'Cause I need to get some, soon. As it is, I have blisters on my blisters.

But look out, Goa'uld!

And according to Pete, women shouldn't be on the front lines in the military. I couldn't believe he actually said that. How does a guy get all the way to the rank of 'Detective' and still think in such an archaic way? If Daniel hadn't been with us at the time, and redirected the conversation onto something else, Pete and I would have had a fight about it right there in the coffee shop on 10th. Of all the chauvinistic...

I can hear Jack now. Eeeeaaasy, Carter.

I won't kill him (Pete) yet. I'll only maim him a little. Promise.

Acting class is never this full of angst.

Sep 3, 2004

What Pete said about women in the military has been bugging me for days. So, today I challenged Pete to a hand fight, no weapons, just him and me. Not like when I had a knife when I fought that 'Turgid' fellow. He agreed, and even promised not to go easy on me.

He went easy on me anyway. Until I threw him onto the mat three times in a row (we were at my favorite gym, in the boxing room)(the mats are there, and I didn't think anywhere else was safe enough. I didn't want to hurt him after all)(in spite of that maiming comment of mine) Anyway, then he started fighting for real, after I told him I'd had advanced training in hand combat, and the General had worked with me lots of times over the years, teaching me what he's picked up. That must have made Pete mad. At least, something made him have more energy, because he wasn't nearly as easy to beat then. He used some moves that I didn't know about, moves often made by criminals, just to see if he could catch me off guard. I still won (well, he finally gave in), but just barely. He said that, okay, he was wrong, and I had just proved that women can kick ass as well as any man.

I admit, that made me smile!

And it was fun, kicking someone's ass.

Oct 4, 2004

(early in the morning)(as in 0130)

Oh God, this is so not cool!

Ugh! How do I get into these messes?

Two weeks ago, Pete proposed. And I haven't answered him yet.

I talked it over with Jack.

I SO wanted him to tell me not to do it.

But he didn't.

He just said that if things had been different, he wouldn't be here.

But what the Hell does that mean?

Since he didn't say anything when I basically gave him the opportunity to say something, does that mean he could care less what I do with my life now? That he doesn't care at all anymore?

But I don't care what anybody tells me... I don't believe that. I may be dumb for waiting around for a guy who I'll never be able to be with, but one look at his face is all I need to see that he likes this even less than I do.

Then why doesn't he do something about it?

Then again, why don't I?

But can I? If I say 'no' to Pete, then it looks like I'm saying 'no' for a reason, and the gossips would love that reason to be because I'm already in love with the General.

Only, I can't be in love with the General. (It doesn't matter what's true about that statement, and what isn't). We'll both be court-martialed anyway.

But does this mean that I have to say 'yes' to Pete then, just to waylay suspicion away from the General?

But I don't want to say 'yes.'

Argh!

And Teal'c's missing. I feel like my rock... rocks... have rolled downhill.

Oct 5, 2004

Hard, hard, hard... This is sooooo hard!

I said 'yes' to Pete's proposal so that neither me nor Jack can be court-martialed over this, can even be suspected to be more involved than the professional comrades we are. But I don't think it was exactly worth it. The looks on Jack's face now before he manages to cover up his expressions suddenly makes being court-martialed a whole lot more appealing.

I didn't want to hurt anybody on purpose by saying 'yes' to Pete. That was sooooo not my intention!

So why do these great little plans that I always get end up backfiring on me? This might be the biggest backfire I've had yet.

Oct 6, 2004

I can do this! Keeping Jack safe from court-martial is worth it! I have to keep telling myself that!

And Pete's fun... most of the time. At least he's there. He's available. He's affectionate. He says he loves me. He's...

I'll keep telling myself that I made the right decision.

I'm not settling!

And it's worth it!

Damnit!

Oct 7, 2004

Who am I kidding? It may be worth it in the long run, but in the short run..?

NOT!

Oct 10, 2004

Ishta's here. She says that Hak'tyl was compromised, so I'm supposed to be busy looking for another planet for them to settle on, but I thought I'd take the time for an update.

Update... No, I got nothin' (Jackism! Holy Hannah! Do I quote him a lot, or what!)

Horses stink... literally!

Oh, one thing to report. Jack had his hands on me, one on each shoulder, in the hallway, for several seconds. That sounds so... teenagerish... doesn't it? He looked like I'd bit him when he let go, but for those few seconds... Heaven!

Oct 15, 2004

I can't wear the engagement ring that Pete gave me. I mean, I literally can't wear it. It's too big. It would be so easy for it to fall off and end up inside some alien bomb. Which wouldn't be so bad, actually...

Sam! Cut it out! Play nice!

But, Holy Hannah, would that ever be funny.

If I 'accidentally' dial Netu, and the ring just 'accidentally' falls off my finger at the exact right time, and then bounces through the 'Gate, will Pete have a fit, do you think?

I've gotta stop thinkin' this way.

Dad would have my hide, but it's actually a lot of fun to think of things this way.

Oct 30, 2004

This is driving me nuts. Jack's hurt. I can tell. (Not physically... mentally) Every time I see him, even if it's by accident, this look of... agony... Is that the right word? Anyway, it passes over his face before he can cover it up again. I think I'm the only one who sees it. Thank goodness. But it's made Briefings and Debriefings hell to get through.

So I've started a new campaign. Every time I see him, I start humming songs, you know, like 'this tune is stuck in my head' kind of thing. This morning I ran into him in the elevator, and we were alone till the 18th floor, where Siler got on. I had been humming the tune to 'Tainted Love.' I figured that it couldn't hurt, unless Jack thinks that I think he's the one who's tainted. That would not be cool!

What other songs should I hum? 'Jesse's Girl?' Those eighties songs from when I was in college... I got out my CDs last night from the eighties and listened to them. Some of those songs were downright risqu‚!

Somehow, though, I don't think I should hum that 'Relax, Don't do it,' song. I don't want to give the man a heart attack or anything!

Cassie knows more about music than I do. Maybe she'll have some ideas.

Supplemental: (I've always wanted to say that word)

I was too worried about 'Tainted Love' being the wrong song to hum in the elevator today, so the next time I saw Jack (which was a half hour ago, which was about five hours after I last wrote), I hummed 'Obsession' while we were in the Control Room and I was doing another check on the ultra new UAV programming that me and Siler (Siler and I?) installed last week. I told Jack that Cassie had given me a boxed CD set called 'Fifty Decades of Music,' hits from the Fifties all the way to the turn of the century, and that I had brought the Eighties decade CD to work to listen to that day, and the song was in my head, so I was humming it. I hope he goes home and listens to it sometime. The message I'm trying to convey here should be pretty clear (or maybe that song is just too obvious? Well, too late to change my mind now.)

Anyway, I think I might have given him a heart attack in spite of what I said earlier.

Gotta remember to dig out my Fifties music next.

Nov 9, 2004

Mark's mad at me. He wants to do the family thing for Thanksgiving. But I told him I need to work. He then let me have it about working too hard, and how the Air Force is evil for expecting its employees to work on major holidays, and...

But Jack plans to work. And so do I.

Pete plans to go out to California and spend the day with Mark, then visit his family in Oregon. I say more power to him, and have a nice flight.

It really bothers me that it sounds like I'm just using Pete as a diversion for keeping Jack out of trouble. And that's not the case, really! At least, I don't mean that to be the case. I mean, I do like Pete and all, but it's kind of the way I like Daniel or Mark, like a friend or a brother. Not someone...

Well, someone like Jack!

Nov 15th, 2004

I accidentally lost Pete's ring today. I was wearing it this morning for my engagement shower that some of the girls around here threw for me (actually, it was from some of the fellas, in the guise of coming from some of the girls. And what the fellas gave me should be filed under 'classified!')

Anyway, I had the ring on, then after the 'shower,' went right back to work in my lab on the device brought back from PCS-111 by SG-7. At first I thought it was a shield generating device, but after only a few minutes, I realized it really was a bomb or some kind of a weapon. Rather than studying it and accidentally arming it to blow up the entire state of Colorado (it had a nequedah power source, meaning it was Goa'uld, but also meaning who knows how it was booby-trapped), I carefully wired the thing back together, called the General, explained the situation, and he promptly dialed the planet so we could give the whatever-it-was back to the indiginous people SG-7 got it from in the first place. The natives did something with it - they think it's some religious icon or something - and so now it's G-O-N-E!

Then, this afternoon, I noticed that Pete's ring was also gone, only this time gone from my finger. All I could think was oh crap oh crap oh crap while I looked everywhere for it. I mean, that's Pete's ring, whether I decide to keep it or not. I know that Pete spent more money on that ring than he should have, especially given how quickly in our relationship he proposed, and that there was only a 50/50 chance that I would say 'yes.'

I never did find that ring. I have the feeling it's sitting inside that bomb/weapon/religious-icon-thing that I wired together and sent a million miles away to another planet where a group of people that I don't know did something that I also don't know with it. I had to tell Pete I lost his ring in the toilet sewer system because I'm not remotely cleared to tell him about any device from PCS-111, even if he is cleared to know about the Stargate.

Needless to say, Pete was not a happy camper when I told him. He got mad. And I don't mean just a little bit angry. I mean MAD! That was the first time he's ever reminded me of Jonas, and I was part scared, and part really pissed about some of the things he said. I was glad he stormed out of the house, yelling that he was going to get drunk (as if that will help.) I didn't fight back, but at least I was pro-active enough to drive into the base after he left and spend the weekend there.

Losing that ring ended up letting me spend a whole lot of time in my lab. A whole weekend. On base. I got a lot of work done. Stayed in my lab all day yesterday. And half the night, too. Forgot to eat. You know how I am when I'm working on things... I forget the rest of the world exists. It's the part of me that has Jack bringing me breakfast... lunch... dinner... There was always some kind of food near my computer every time I came back to my lab after I'd had to leave it to go somewhere. Or a donut. Or a pastry. Or something out of the snack machine in the Commissary. No note, just food.

But I think they were all from the same guy. And Pete's not cleared to be on base without an escort. An escort that wasn't me. Daniel? Teal'c? But Daniel is off with Teal'c in New York, siteseeing this week.

I think there's a little mouse in the SGC who goes by the title of 'General.'

SWEET!

Nov 23, 2004

Thanksgiving Day

Jack and I worked, but we didn't get much work done, I admit. We played Poker in his office instead of working. He likes Texas Hold Em. I like Five Card Draw. And we played everything else in between. We even got Teal'c involved for awhile. Then Teal'c had to leave for Dakara. (If it's not those free Jaffa who need your time, it's always something, I tell ya.)

But I hummed some. I don't know if Jack understood what I was doing or not. He just looked like it annoyed the hell out of him. But at least he noticed what I was doing, even if it was in annoyance.

Then, Jack and I ended up staying up all night, getting quite happy off the whiskey he keeps in the bottom drawer of his desk (the only drawer that he ever opens)(actually, this is the first time I've ever even seen him open not just that drawer, but any drawer) We talked all night after we got tired of playing Poker. I don't know about him, but I had a great time. Humming notwithstanding.

Do you think we can do it again at Christmas?

Dec 1, 2004

Pete found out about me and Jack both being at work at the same time over Thanksgiving break. Daniel just had to open his big mouth, and it spilled out before he knew it. Pete was NOT happy.

That's putting it nicely.

But he didn't say one word about Teal'c being at the SGC, too.

Hmmmm.

Jan 1, 2005

I had to go to Oregon with Pete for his family's big Christmas shindig. I couldn't think of a good reason to cry off. I didn't think using the excuse 'The General needs me' would go over too well this time.

Do I care if it would go over well?

Well... No.

New Year. The time of revelry and happiness and...

Then why do I feel so empty?

Feb 15, 2005

Anubis, the replicators... dead.

But so is Dad.

And I'm not engaged anymore.

April 1, 2005

April Fools Day

I miss Dad more than I thought I would. Jack doesn't want me to end up moping around the SGC, so he's 'ordering' all of us on SG-1 to come to Minnesota with him this weekend (just three days from now... I don't know what I think about that. I don't know if I can stand being that close to you-know-who without... Won't say it!)(But I wonder if this fits Jack's definition of 'getting a life?')

April 3, 2005

A quick note: We're back. But it's the strangest thing... (But then, what isn't bizarre around here?) Daniel claims that we'll futz the timeline if Jack and I don't get married.

Holy Hannah!

Is that cool or what?

Okay... Act nonchalant. Act nonchalant.

But... Wow!

Advanced Acting I class just hasn't prepared me for this.

April 8, 2005

I'm gonna faint just writing this.

Jack and I are engaged!

For real!

Can I melt now?

* * *

Sam couldn't help it: she was sporting a broad smile as she stepped off the elevator when she got to work the next morning. She made her way to her lab, only having to stop three times as people halted her progress long enough to congratulate her on her forthcoming marriage. Unlike her previous engagement, the one that had ended only days before... to which Sam had done everything while at work that she could to pretend that it didn't exist... Sam's smile now widened as she thanked each person doing the congratulating, and absent mindedly played with her new ring on her left hand as she spoke. She displayed the ring when asked, amazed at how different she felt about this engagement, but doing her best to downplay the importance of this event despite her obvious excitement when anybody brought up the wedding. Even if it was happening only because Daniel claimed that a wedding between her and Jack had to happen... Even if there was hush/hush order/gossip surrounding Jack's proposal, and her acceptance... Even if that was true, or if it wasn't... She still grinned for all she was worth the entire way to her lab. She just couldn't help it.

Fifteen minutes after she got off the elevator on her lab's level, she actually managed to step foot into the lab assigned to her. She tossed her coat on her desk chair, planning to change into fatigues as soon as she checked her email. But the presence of a single CD disc right in front of her laptop workstation stopped her casual progress.

There was nothing on the outside case of the disc to indicate where it had come from, and she immediately opened the case to see if she could find any clues inside. As soon as she opened it, a folded piece of paper fell out of the case and fluttered to her desk top. She picked it up to unfold it, and smiled again. She was almost certain this unexpected gift was from Jack. Who else could it be from, the way it was sitting at her desk in the SGC, as if just waiting for her to arrive at her lab and make a beeline for her typical work site, as if the giver somehow knew her personal habits? And as far as she knew, she didn't have any secret admirers in the workplace.

She didn't have to worry. The note showed that the CD was a gift from Jack.

Samantha,

Re: your humming

You're right... I didn't know what you were up to with your humming all the time, and it made me angry while we were at the SGC during (and before) Thanksgiving, I admit, because at first I thought you were humming because you were so happy with What'shsiname, and geez, you didn't have to rub it in! But after I calmed down a bit, I got to thinking about just what you were humming all those times that I heard you. That was when I realized what you were doing. That humming thing, especially over Thanksgiving, was my first cause for even hoping that your engagement to What'shisname was not all it seemed. Anyway, humming the message (the one from 'Obsession') that all wasn't lost with you and What'shsiname being engaged was a great idea. The 'Tainted Love' thing was a bit obscure (the 'Obsession' thing wasn't... But you were right - listening to that song's lyrics made me raise my eyebrows in astonishment, but it didn't give me a heart attack). Obscure on the whole is what I suspect you wanted that humming thing to be. Very clever!

The song you didn't want to hum because you thought it might give me a heart attack is a song called 'Relax' by the group Frankie Goes to Hollywood. And since you seem to be stuck on eighties songs... Have you ever thought of humming Palmer's 'Simply Irresistible?' I look forward to hearing that in the elevator someday! Your original choice, though, was so appropriate to the situation (though I didn't quite know what you meant until the 'Obsession' thing)... Anyway, the whole thing was so funny that when I read that entry, I nearly peed my pants from laughing so hard!

Jack

P.S. Re:CD Just listen to it.

Without conscious thought, Sam did as he instructed her to do. She instantly logged into her computer, then slipped the homemade CD into the computer's CD player. As a precaution, since she knew who this gift came from, and as his humor wasn't always appreciated by everyone in the SGC, she pushed her headphones onto her head after she'd plugged them into her computer.

She'd barely taken a breath before the familiar strains of the song 'Relax' sounded in her ears. She laughed as she quickly accessed her email program to send a message back to him while listening.

To: Jack O'Neill: jacko'neill@us.gov.sgc.net

From: Samantha Carter: samanthacarter@us.gov.sgc.net

Subject: Humming, in or out of the elevator

Jack,

'Simply Irresistible,' huh? Good song! How about 'I Want You to Want Me?'

Samantha

P.S. Doesn't a General have more important things to do than flirt by mail?

Before she'd even managed to head for the locker room to change clothes for the day, a reply flashed up on her screen.

To: Samantha Carter: samanthacarter@us.gov.sgc.net

From: Jack O'Neill: jacko'neill@us.gov.sgc.net

Subject: Re:Humming, in or out of the elevator

Samantha,

What could be more important than flirting? Nothing, that's what! So by all means, feel free to flirt all you want!

Jack

P.S. And speaking of Eighties Music... Next time we're alone in the elevator, I'm gonna sing (not just hum) 'Heaven Is a Place On Earth.' Just see if I don't! (You might want to cover your ears when I do this, since I can't carry a tune to save my life!)(I serenaded Teal'c once before he went on Tretonin, {I knew that Junior would fix whatever my singing might possibly do to him} but I don't think he's recovered from the experience even now!)

P.P.S. By flirt, I mean flirt with me, not every man on the base who drools all over you.

Sam laughed again as she first stopped the CD, then removed her headphones, then sped out of her lab to finally dress for work.

* * *

Three hours later, Sam's phone rang, interrupting her work again. With half her mind still concentrating on the efficiency of the Daedalus engines, which she was currently trying to optimize, she answered her ringing phone. Carter, she said with an air of vagueness, still studying the conundrum about the efficiency of the ship's engines she'd posed to herself hours before.

The sounds of General O'Neill's voice came swiftly over the line, I just finished my paperwork, and before Walter finds out about me finishing, and gives me some more random forms to sign, let's blow this joint and head out to lunch - I need to talk to you, anyway, and this is the perfect chance. Whaddya say?

Sam blinked for a moment, attempting to clear her head of the fog left over by the schematics she had been staring at all morning. Sounds like a great idea. Where did you have in mind to go to? she asked.

Jack didn't answer her question, but instead confessed, I just want to get you alone in the elevator, I admit.

Sam giggled at his statement. She couldn't resist inquiring, Are you planning to serenade me?

I told you... I can't carry a tune even to save my life, he teased.

Sam could hear him smiling as he spoke. She grinned as well, and said, Even so, I can hardly wait.

You're a brave woman. Jack laughed back to her over the line, then got down to the more business end of his call. Have you finished the announcement for the newspaper, yet?

Sam sharply inhaled. I forgot all about that! she proclaimed. Then she sighed. This whole wedding thing still doesn't seem very real to me, she confessed. It's kind of like it's happening to someone else, and I'm just watching.

It better not be happening to someone else! Jack fiercely stated in a voice full of mock anger. He continued in the same tone, This serenade is for your ears only! I don't want to be laughed all the way to the next state!

Colorado has The Four Corners, Sir, Carter began to remind.

At her 'Sir,' Jack instantly interrupted her. Ah! No 'Sir,' remember!

'Jack,' Sam quickly corrected herself. I meant 'Jack.' She was fully concentrating on the phone conversation now, her work all but forgotten as she flirted, I was saying that Colorado has four states that meet at The Four Corners... Which direction did you want me to throw you if you serenade me?

Very funny! Jack proclaimed, sounding grumpy now, but it was a grumpy colored by a smile. Just throw me towards Minnesota, and you can catch me on our honeymoon that I maybe suggest we take at my cabin, since you liked it so much last time? he asked, turning his comment into a suggestion/question at the last minute.

Sam wanted to tell him that being alone with him anywhere was perfectly okay with her, but being alone at the cabin was extra-okay. And what was wrong with her that she seemed to be so eager to get him alone all of a sudden, anyway? She had always done her best to avoid being alone with him in the past, as being alone with him was way too dangerous a proposition for her; she might throw caution to the wind and finally act on her emotions.

But now, she tried not to sound too enthusiastic as she replied, Sounds perfect to me... I loved your cabin, after all. We can fish!

Jack cleared his throat and nonchalantly said, Uh... Fish... right!

And other things, Sam playfully added.

The brightness in Jack's voice was palpable even over a phone line. Right! Other things!

Sam giggled. Anyone watching her would never guess that she had lost a family member as recently as early a few months before. She even seemed like a different person than she had been only half a month ago.

Sam smiled, liking the change that she sensed inside her. That change was due entirely to Jack's updated presence in her life, she knew. You haven't answered my question yet, she teasingly accused him. Where is it that you want to eat?

Actually, Jack softly said, It doesn't really matter to me. Wherever you want to go, just as long as I talk things over with you...

That's right, Sam said, remembering now. What is it that you want to talk about?

Not here, Jack quietly hedged. Out. He paused, then added, Um... out... preferably with you. And are you sure you want me to sing to you on the elevator?

Sam laughed. You bet!

Boy, are you ever brave, Jack again dryly remarked. You know, I won't sing for just anybody.

Then I can't wait... meet you at the elevator, she said smiling again, and hung up.

* * *

Twenty minutes later, Sam was staring at Jack sitting behind the wheel of his truck as they drove out of the Mountain and into Colorado Springs. True to his word, he had sung to her in the elevator. He had also sung to Siler... and Walter... and Lieutenant Janson... who were also in the elevator at the time. Janson even asked him if he was sick, since he obviously had a frog in his throat. Sam couldn't help the spluttered laughter attack she'd fallen into then, as she'd previously been holding her laughter in.

Even the memory of her laughter and of his singing made her smile now. And he smiled, too. What are you grinning at? she asked, and looked across at him, grinning even bigger herself.

Jack turned to her, and slowly his sexy grin widened. Can't help it, he said. You make me grin.

Sam grinned wider as well. How was it possible that a benign thing like an engagement to Jack could make her so happy? She had to respond to him, And you make me grin.

Jack's grin grew again until it had become a gentle smile. Then we're both gonna be nothin' but grinnin' fools.

Sam had to smile back, though she still felt a little shy around him and the new position he had in her life. This is still strange, she admitted at last. She fingered her engagement ring. Even with this.

Especially with that, Jack added. His smile had dimmed a bit. What do you think of all this wedding business, Samantha? he curiously asked. You haven't had the chance to tell me yet.

Sam sighed and looked thoughtfully out the front window. I think.., she hesitantly began, still thinking. She turned to stare at him, then more firmly said, I think it's pretty cool, actually. She heaved another sigh. Which probably wouldn't make sense to anybody else, she ruefully admitted. I know that I'm supposed to be all sad right now about Dad... and Pete, she acknowledged, then went on, And I am sad... sort of... a little... but I also feel... 'Great excitement' is the only way that I can describe it. She turned to look at him then as they barreled down the mountain.

Jack looked at her, too, a quick glance to his right. Kind of like things are right after they've been just a little wrong for a long time, he stated, finishing for her.

Yeah! Sam agreed. Like coming home after a trip to Europe, or somewhere!

Jack looked relieved then. I have to say that I'm glad you think that way. He fidgeted in his seat. I was worried that you'd hate this whole thing, and that you've changed your mind, now that you've had time to think about the situation.

Jack, Sam said, still somewhat tentative. Maybe I shouldn't say anything just yet... I mean... er... This time it was she who fidgeted in her seat. Then, she just took a deep breath and spit it out, You seem very determined to talk yourself down. You shouldn't, you know.

Jack replied, Well, I don't exactly have a stellar history with relationships of this kind. He self-consciously added, The husband/wife kind, I mean.

Oh, and I do? Sam was quick to challenge. She fiddled with her seat-belt, needing to give her hands something to do. If nothing else, the useless actions settled her suddenly heaving stomach. You at least were married once! she protested. That's more than I can say.

But it didn't end very well, Jack pointed out. And that was completely my fault.

Sam's forehead wrinkled as she pensively studied him once more. Do you think that I should blame you for what happened with your first marriage?

Well? Jack softly asked. Don't you?

No, she firmly said, and just as firmly laced her fingers in her lap so that her nervous energy wouldn't find a release in useless fiddling with her seat-belt. It just happened, she insisted. Just like Jonas happened to me. I could say the same thing about you blaming me for what happened with him, you know.

Of course I don't blame you for what happened with Jonas, Jack instantly stated.

And I don't blame you for the entire Sara thing, Sam just as quickly retorted.

Touch‚, Jack quietly said a moment later.

Sam smiled at his soft comment. He'd used a clich‚... sort of... and he hated clich‚s! She said more in order to distract herself from thinking too heavily about that, Maybe we just need to accept the fact that what happened with Sara isn't your fault, and what happened with Jonas... and later, that whole Pete thing... isn't my fault, and just move on from there.

Jack considered her proposition. Maybe so, he tentatively agreed with her.

Then that's that then, she said with finality in her tone. I won't bring it up if you won't.

I won't, if you don't want me to, he amended.

I don't want you to, she immediately said. I don't want you to feel badly about all that, so we just won't bring it up.

This is starting to sound like something that's another forbidden topic, he warned, then turned a corner onto a side street at the bottom of the mountain so that he could go slow while they finished their conversation.

Sam smiled as she said, Not forbidden... but something that's once again 'in the room.'

Jack laughed at her reference to the Infirmary isolation room on base that had once been the site of their Za'tarc confessions, and still held plenty of memories, even though their shared confessions were long-since over. He nonchalantly commented, That room is getting mighty darned full, even without... He didn't finish his comment, but Sam knew he was referring to their shared feelings for each other, only recently shared with each other.

Recently enough to make her feel uncomfortable. Quite suddenly, she changed the topic of conversation so that she wouldn't have to think about what had been 'in the room' for so many years. What did you think of General Hammond's compromise for my wedding/timeline problem?

About how Daniel might think about getting ordained, or maybe reading at the wedding ceremony so that he can still be involved, but in a smaller way? Jack asked, giving his recap of what his superior officer had suggested the day before so that she wouldn't forget. Or, so that he wouldn't forget.

Sam nodded. That's what I mean, she affirmed. I think it's a pretty good compromise. Even though we won't know if that compromise affects the timeline in an adverse way, we do know that Daniel marrying the two of us as he is right now has flipped the timelines at least twice already. We don't want to risk it happening a third time. As a compromise, it at least makes me feel better!

Jack glanced at her, then turned his gaze back to the road in front of him. Hammond hadn't had time to call the President about this suggestion of his when I left yesterday to read your journal...

You read it? she asked, then answered her own question. Of course you read it, she muttered to herself. I should have known that right away from your note this morning.

Jack's features brightened. Oh, you found that? he asked, then like she had just done, answered his own inquiry, I guess I should have known that just from your emails today, but I didn't want to assume.

Sam spoke, You can assume that I truly appreciated that CD, and like the idea of finding surprise gifts on my worktable in the morning. Sam smiled at him. Just like last time - it was a nice way to start the day.

Jack grinned again. So, you liked that?

Sam grinned back. She couldn't help herself at the bubble of emotion that swelled out from her heart. Um... I... Yeah, she finally said, blushing now. How was it that he was always able to make her blush?

Jack's grin became more firmly affixed to his face. I like it when you blush, he reported, unwittingly answering her mental query.

His statement just made her blush even more. Which he liked even more, if she could judge by the way his smile showing his appreciation bloomed across his face. That reminded her... We never did... um... deal with what we... um... were leaving to... deal with... yesterday, she said in a slightly strangled yet hopeful way.

Remembering, Jack cleared his throat and snuck a nervous glance at her. Do you want to talk about that? he asked with a tiny quaver in his voice.

Sam also snuck a glance at him. Do you?

Um... Then a slow, sexy smile stole across his face. Doesn't every male on base? he rhetorically asked.

Which made Sam blush again. I'm not concerned with every fantasy of every male on base, she answered, and stared forward so that he couldn't see the trepidation she was feeling. But she forced herself to ignore her emotions, and go on. I'm only concerned about you... about yours, I mean. Your fantasies, she stuttered.

Jack's slow smile continued to grow. Why, Samantha, he quietly said. Are you propositioning me? Again?

Sam's response was swift, as he had embarrassed her, and her embarrassment made her hasty. Even a proposition is better than doing nothing... for eight long years!

Seven years and six months, he corrected. Then he thought to add, And besides, I proposed, didn't I? That's hardly doing nothing!

She had to concede that he spoke the truth by giving a brief nod of her head and conciliatory shrug of her shoulders.

And I agreed to your... your proposition... yesterday, he pointed out.

You're not agreeing today? she quickly asked.

That's not what I said, Jack slowly stated.

So you are agreeing? she inquired then.

Are you? he asked back instead of answering her.

Sam smiled at his answer-that-wasn't-an-answer. I just brought the subject up and said that we needed to discuss it, she defended herself.

How can you discuss it with me if you can't even say the word? he asked, still smiling.

I can say the word, she protested. 'Sex, sex, sex...' See?

But can you say it in the same breath as you say my name?

Jack challenged. My first name, he amended.

Sam fidgeted in her seat a second time. That might be a little more difficult, she admitted in a soft voice. Then she thought to ask him, Can you?

Sex with Jack, sex with Jack, he instantly intoned.

His statement made Sam giggle. No, she corrected. I mean with my first name.

Jack grimaced as he turned onto another side street so that the drive could continue. That could be a bit on the more difficult side, he said, sort of repeating her words as he drove.

Sam grinned. See. It's not so easy, is it?

Jack grimaced anew, but this time with determination. I can do this, he said under his breath, and when she laughed at him anyway, said again, I really can!

Okay, let's hear it, Sam challenged him.

Jack screwed his yes shut for just a second and blurted, Sex with Samantha, sex with Samantha, sex with Samantha...

Jack, open your eyes! You're driving! Sam hollered as she reached for the truck's wheel, completely distracted from what he had just managed to say.

Jack immediately opened his eyes. I'm talking about having sex with my former second in command, and all you care about is driving? he spluttered back to her.

Sam instantly riposted, I didn't say anything about having sex, I only mentioned talking about sex!

Jack's smile was back, Oh, that's convenient! he teased. You would rather talk about it than do it?

I... Sam's cell phone rang, and she dragged it out of her coat pocket so that she could answer it. Carter, she said as she heard Jack give a huff in her direction.

Sam listened for a second, then asked in irritated aggravation, Daniel, you interrupted me and Jack having an important conversation to remind us to write announcements? Is that all? She had to listen again for another second. Then she stated, Just write both of us a note to remind us to write announcements when we can do something about it, and leave one on Jack's desk, and one at my worktable, by my computer, she ordered. Okay, Daniel, leave it on my computer then! She paused once more, then gave a mischievous grin. We're talking about sex, Daniel, she firmly retorted into her phone, then in the same tone of voice, added, Yes, again.

That was when Jack grabbed the phone from her and placed it to his own ear. We were having a good conversation, too, he reported. And you interrupted... again! Now goodbye, Daniel! He flipped the phone shut after turning it off. Then he handed it back to her.

At least you didn't take the battery out, Sam commented. Teal'c says that you aren't always friendly to batteries.

Teal'c should know, Jack said back to her, referring to the time he'd thrown the battery to Teal'c's cell phone far away from them at his cabin in Minnesota when Teal'c had received a call on his cell phone. Now, to return to what we were saying, he prompted. You would rather talk than do? he asked again.

Sam colored completely red, so that streaks of color ran down her neck and into her jacket that she was wearing. Ahem, she said, clearing her own throat. Then she stated, That's not exactly what I said.

Jack's eyebrow rose. You mean that you want to? he queried. When she didn't respond, asked, You don't want to? He looked at her seated on his passenger seat. What?

Sam sighed, then confessed in a soft voice, Oh, I want to, very much.

Jack's smile was just as slow as her confession had been. Yeah?

Yeah, she replied in a half defeated tone, a half hopeful tone. On the other hand, she was so used to being told that having feelings for someone in her chain of command was sure to cause nothing but problems for everyone involved that her hopeful expression was mixed with fear. But she also looked determined to look like she no longer cared about the 'chain of command' thing, or if she would cause trouble with her feelings; she was going to have them anyway!

Obviously, Jack felt the same way as she did. So do I, he flatly stated. I've wanted to... forever!

Sam turned to stare at him. Should we make it a little longer then, do you think?

You mean wait? Jack inquired, and glanced at her while he drove. Is waiting important to you? he asked.

Sam shook her head. No... um... not really, she said. Is it important to you? she queried. I mean, we will be married in only a week or two. Does is matter to you that we be married? She turned back around to stare out the front window again. It would be important to a lot of people.

I'm not 'a lot of people,' Jack quickly stated. He looked to her. Are you?

Sam glanced back at him. Um... Not exactly, she answered.

'Not exactly?' Jack echoed her.

Um, Sam hesitantly went on. Finally she just blurted, I think it's more important to me to find out the answer to that compatibility question of mine rather than wait until it's too late to do anything about it. She smiled when she looked at him this time. I only have one request.

Jack managed to drive the truck and gaze at her at the same time. He gave a half nervous, half elated, half terrified swallow. What's that? he asked... squeaked, really. Please don't talk about castration again! he thought.

Sam grinned. I request a bed, she responded.

The relief that lit Jack's face was completely endearing. Well, at least it wasn't talk about making me a eunuch this time! he proclaimed. He turned the truck back towards his house, which was the closer of their two houses, and, more importantly, held the nearest bed. I hope my bed is acceptable, he then said to her with a grin.

Sam's own smile became decidedly feral as she turned his way. Prepare to be seduced, O'Neill.

Jack's grin grew even wider. Always, he quietly intoned with an affectionate look and raised eyebrows.

* * *

But Sam was thinking that her aspirations were bigger than she was able to commit the minute the door shut behind them. They just hugged at first, feeling out how this might work. However, that was as far as they were able to get before one of them voiced the first misgivings of this 'seduction.'

Well, this is weird, Jack said, breaking the awkward silence that had fallen over them.

Sam gave a small, uncomfortable smile, more a lifting of the corners of her mouth than an actual smile. Her heart thudding painfully loud in her ears, she said in a low voice, I'm not sure I can do this, now that we're... uh... doing this, Sir.

Ack! Jack instantly admonished her word choice. Even as he reprimanded her, however, he comprehended how uncomfortable the idea of seducing anyone was to Samantha Carter. But all he said was, It's 'Jack,' remember?

Sorry, she immediately apologized. That 'Sir' came out of my mouth before I could even think about it. She shook her head. I don't think it'll happen again.

Jack's eyebrows both rose at her hesitant words. You don't 'think?' You're the one in control of all this name business, Samantha, he said to her.

Sam shook her head again, as if to clear it. You're right, Jack. I'm the one in control, she reminded herself.

And we both know how much you like control, Jack said, smirking now.

Sam gave him a gentle smack on his shoulder.

Ow! Jack growled. What did you do that for?

Don't get too smug, Sam cautioned him. Enough people on base think that you must be a Goa'uld by now anyway... No point in feeding that particular rumor fire.

Jack glanced at her even as she was tightly wrapped in his arms. They think I'm a Goa'uld? he asked, stunned. Who? he demanded to know.

Sam did grin a full on grin, now, as she began to relax at his bantering continued. Joking was more familiar than seduction. Only a radical minority of the base population, actually, she noted. I'd say that it's nothing to worry about.

That's easy for you to say, Carter! Jack blustered. There's nobody calling you a Goa'uld!

Sam snorted. People have been calling me 'Goa'uld' since that whole Jolinar thing.

It surprised Jack to hear that. What? he barked. That Jolinar thing was years ago! he objected.

That may be, she began. But there have always been a few skeptical people who have mentioned the Tok'ra, then looked at me strangely, as if they don't believe the Tok'ra really do exist, she told him.

Jack glanced at her, disconcerted a second time. How do they explain Jacob then? he sharply asked.

Sam shrugged. Well, she half argued, half said in a questioning tone. They conveniently forgot about Dad, she told him. Not that anybody has to worry about him anymore, she dryly commented.

Jack gave a tiny roll of his eyes as a sort of apology for mentioning Jacob in the first place. Sorry, Carter, didn't mean to remind you of unpleasant things, he quickly said.

Sam's brow furrowed. What's with the 'Carter' thing? she cajoled. I thought you had decided to call me 'Samantha?'

Jack groaned. I did. He once again tightened his grasp on her in his arms. But this is... weird... weird enough that I feel like calling you something familiar. He shrugged now too. Sorry about that; I can't seem to help myself.

Sam grinned again. We both seem kinda nervous to me, she wryly reported.

Ya think? Jack quipped.

Sam shrugged once again. Nothing needs to happen right now, I guess, she said, her voice full of apology. No pressure.

But you made that comment about seduction, Jack remarked.

Sam snorted. I also made a comment that I didn't think I can do this after all, she argued. I might have been a bit...

... too enthusiastic? Jack asked.

That would be an understatement, Sam said.

Jack smiled, then without thinking about how she would take such an action, kissed her on her forehead. That's my 'Samantha.' Master of the understatement.

Sam grinned again. She looked up at him, and said, I thought that was you.

And I learned everything that I know from you, he affectionately said.

Sam laughed. And don't you forget it, she teased.

Hey, would you feel more at ease if we play a game? Jack suggested then, his idea coming from nowhere, it seemed.

A game? Sam wrinkled her brow. At his nod, she inquired, What kind of game were you thinking?

We could play more Poker, he prompted questioningly.

Or we could play 'Trivial Pursuit,' or some other board game, Sam noted.

'Trivial Pursuit?' Jack asked. Why the heck do you want to play that?

Sam grinned at him in a decidedly smug way. I have the chance of beating you at that, she said.

Jack shrugged this time. True, he commented.

Plus, you keep whipping my ass at Poker, she remarked. I want to whip your ass for a change.

You just haven't got that Poker face down, yet, he said as a way to apologize for her.

Sam peered at him in a grim fashion. Yes, well... 'Trivial Pursuit?' she queried.

Jack grinned back at her. As long as I can play using O'Neill rules, you're on.

Sam rolled her eyes. I'm going to regret this, but what are 'O'Neill rules?'

In case either of us doesn't know the answer to a question, we get to do anything we want to do, he explained.

And that is? she asked for more clarification, though she had a good idea when he began to kiss her cheek, then sucked on her earlobe, sending delicious shivers up and down her spine.

Play and find out, he challenged instead of explaining any more.

Now you've got my curiosity up, she said, then followed her comment with the thought, And other things. You're on.

From the minute the game started, it became quite obvious to Sam that he wasn't even trying to answer her questions of him in any way that might have been correct. It seemed the more outrageous he could reply, the better. It soon became something of a competition between them to see who could come up with the most outlandish answer. They sat in his living room and munched on the sandwiches they'd had delivered to his house, and flirted in a guise of giving answers to the questions on the cards.

What's the capitol of Japan? she questioned of him.

When he replied, KissSamantha, she again rolled her eyes.

That's not even close! she objected.

Jack smiled at her. Yeah, he agreed with her, then went on, But it's a very intriguing idea.

Sam immediately grew nervous just thinking about the prospect of Jack kissing her. Which was ridiculous, she admonished herself. She had even asked for a kiss the day before when they got engaged, so why was it so weird to be kissing Jack now?

It was weird now because a kiss was so loaded, she replied to herself. The day before when they had gotten engaged had no seduction looming just out of sight, she reminded herself.

That idea makes you nervous, doesn't it, Samantha? he asked. He had bounced back and forth between calling her 'Samantha' and calling her 'Carter' since the game had begun.

'Samantha' gave a tilt of her shoulders. Maybe, she replied. She did her own seductive lilt of her eyebrows. Then again, maybe not, she said.

Jack gave a rakish half grin. You're flirting with me, he accused. Isn't it against the rules to flirt with your own fianc‚?

Sam gave him a shrewdly lascivious glance then. I thought we were playing by your rules? she asked. Can't we then do whatever we want to do?

Jack pretended to feel affronted. And that includes you giving me that look?

What kind of look am I giving you? Sam innocently asked him.

Jack responded, The look that says that if I kiss you right now, we won't be playing any more 'Trivial Pursuit' this afternoon.

Would that be a bad thing? Sam asked then.

Jack was slow to grin back at her. That depends what you have in mind to replace it.

What if I have in mind..? She thought for a moment. A tingle for a tingle, she finally said.

Jack gave a furrow of his brows. What do you mean by a tingle? he asked, suspicious.

Sam grinned. You'll find out, she said, then without preamble, rose to give him a thoroughly seductive kiss on his lips.

The kiss lasted a lot longer than a quick peck on his lips. To Jack's delight, the gentle action seemed as out of character for the cautious Samantha Carter as her earlier promise of seduction had been.

Gently, Sam drew back, then grinned at the stunned expression on Jack's face. Tingles? she asked.

Suddenly, Jack grinned back at her. Oh yeah, he remarked.

Sam teasingly strafed his left cheek with her right fingers, then tenderly kissed that same cheek before she resumed her seat and picked up the dice like nothing had happened.

So she wants to play that way, he thought to himself. Well, two can play at that game.

Sam rolled the dice, but Jack argued, You sort of took my turn last time.

Sam rose her eyes to stare at him. Her eyes darkened... or was that his imagination? You have complaints?

No! No! Jack instantly negated. It just seems fair that if... He cut his own response off then, but added, Then I get to, too.

Sam lifted her shoulders in a shrug. No one's stopping you, she said in all innocence. Do what you want, she reminded. O'Neill rules of play.

So I can take over your turn? Jack asked, just to make sure he was getting her correctly.

Again Sam shrugged. Her accompanying smile was definitely seductive. Whatever you want, she said again.

Jack peered at her. Are you trying to seduce me again? he inquired in a partly accusatory tone.

No, Sam told him. If I was trying to seduce you, there would be no question about it, she said, noticing how much more comfortable with the idea she was now than when they had arrived at his house half on hour before.

Jack grinned once more. Then let the game continue, he smirked.

* * *

The game continued... for another two rounds. But by then, they gave up playing a board game to concentrate on the more compelling manifestation of the rules; each other... physically.

Two drinks... two rounds... then it was as if they literally could no longer keep their hands to themselves. Sam was kissing Jack, and Jack was kissing Sam like neither of them had any hope for a 'tomorrow' and its consequences happening.

Practically glued together, panting, reaching, yearning... They made out like teenagers left alone on their parents couch for the first time. Sam briefly managed to recal her request of a bed, and suggested that they remove themselves to his bedroom.

But they didn't make it all the way to his bedroom, or his bed. The second they rose from the sofa, they were in each others arms, kissing as if they couldn't get enough of each other, feeling 'feelings' much repressed for far too long. The 'feeling feelings' grew into even more feeling, hands roaming seductively across skin, and that grew into more kissing, which grew into more demanding kissing, which exploded into a blaze of passion before either of them could, or wanted to, stop anything from shooting out of control. They didn't want to show control anymore. They were both sick and tired of control. They wanted frantic, raging, mindless sensation. And they got what they wanted.

It began when Sam hungrily pulled off Jack's shirt so she could feel his chest unimpeded by clothes. Then Jack yanked off Sam's shirt, so that he could experience the so-important feel of skin on skin. Jack passionately kissed her as Sam's suddenly magic fingers began walking up his back. Jack softly ran his teeth across her neck, and groaned in appreciation at the same time.

Sam smiled at the tiny thrill that suddenly filled her with wild anticipation. It went straight through her body at the contact, all the way down to her toes. But she throatily protested, I thought I was supposed to seduce you.

We can say that you did, Jack suggested, and that I instantly fell captive to your wily charms.

'My wily charms!' Sam softly laughed her echo of him. These aren't my 'wily charms,' she negated. Her fingers ran enticingly down his stomach now, then up his chest as she spoke.

Jack was beginning to pant even harder at this point. Then what are you doing right now? he asked. 'Cause this is starting to feel like a seduction to me, he quietly argued as he paused long enough to untie his boots, toe them off, then untie her boots and pull them off as well.

Sam ran her hands firmly over his erection while languidly kissing him in the most erotic way she knew how as he stood up again after tossing the boots onto the nearby pile of clothes. That's my wily charms, she said with a sexy smile when she released him.

Jack couldn't help but smile back at her. You can practice those charms on me any time! His and her BDU shirts and t-shirts had been thrown negligently aside to the ever increasing pile of clothing, and he almost tripped on the pile they'd left beside his coffee table. But then he fell even more securely into her, and he didn't mind tripping nearly so much.

If it's this good all the time, I just might have to 'practice' a lot! Sam managed to choke out before drowning in the pool of his brown-eyed gaze as she kissed him again, running her tongue over his in the process. The feeling was electrifying!

Sam groaned into Jack's mouth, and Jack couldn't hold his own moan back at this point. He couldn't quite believe that he was really standing in his own living room, making out with Samantha Carter! Had he died and gone to heaven, and no one had told him about it?

They stumbled in the direction of his bedroom, but from the time Jack reached around behind her and removed the clasps of her bra, she was his and he was hers, as completely as any melded elements that spontaneously occurred in nature. Sam sank to the floor, taking Jack with her, both unable to support themselves any longer as fire rippled through veins, slowly churning blood into tighter and tighter coils of emotions.

As Jack sank beside her on the floor, he had to note to himself that he'd succeeded in thinking that her personal brand of seduction was more than all right according to his standards, but then all coherent thought flew from his mind as she ran her fingers lightly over his chest, and he stroked hers for the first time. His growing erection pressed against his pants as he kissed her even more desperately.

Good grief, he wanted to consume her, to join with her with every cell inside him! The pull was as astronomically strong as the degrees she held, as physical as his still growing erection, as amazing as she was herself.

But Sam was the first to put words to her feelings. God, Jack, I want you already. This had never happened before, not so soon, not with any man she had ever been with, not Pete, not Jonas, not Jason Kline in college, not Kevin Williams in tenth grade... Sam strained against Jack as he kissed her neck. Every nerve ending in her body was on fire, just for his touch. I'm sorry, Jack, as seductions go, this one...

Jack interrupted her to whisper, This is perfect... You are perfect... He kissed her again.

Sam giggled helplessly into the skin of his neck as his amazing lips charred her insides, and he moved his hands slowly towards her breasts. Every girl likes to hear things like talk about them being perfect, she whispered back to him. She arched against his mouth even as she argued with him.

Yeah, Jack growled. But this time this boy reeeeeally means it! His own blood thundered in his temples at the feel of her smooth skin against his. If I don't have you right now, I think I'm gonna explode. He took one of her nipples into his mouth and ran his tongue across the tip.

Fire shot through Sam. Oh God, she moaned desperately. I just might explode first, she divulged to him in a whispered voice.

Then, somehow, Jack's pants were miraculously unzipped, hers were down (though he didn't remember helping her push them aside) and he was slipping into the warm depths of Samantha Carter as his arms held tightly onto her. It was like he'd never done this before, and neither had she. Sam was so soft, so warm, so tight, so... perfect, his fogged brain supplied.

OhmyGodIloveyou! Sam grunted in a rush of overwhelming sensation at the feel of him for the first time. She continued to spasmodically grunt as Jack tried to control himself long enough to begin a taut rhythm of movement inside her. But her soft jerks against his hips, and the hot breath on his ear was impossible to ignore as she breached the wave of her emotional desire, and fell into the throes of ecstasy, shattering so soon in his arms with a cry that washed throughout the house.

Jack did his best to avoid the pull of her cries for just a moment longer, but even his control was no match for the power of a crumbling Samantha Carter, who was in his arms, lost in the wild throes of orgasm. Pleasure pounded through him, and he tossed his control aside to curl up his feelings, then they all exploded in the same instance in nothing but pure passion right after she did. Her small pants and groans mixed with his as his own ecstasy linked with hers in one swift, uncontrolled burst of glory. Smmmaaan, he managed to grunt in a heartfelt plea, but that was all. He jerked and moved against her, his hips pushing into hers, the warm smell of their pleasure mixing with their combined sweat to make a very odd, very alluring perfume as it permeated the air around them.

Jack lay half on Sam as she lay unmoving under him, and half on the floor of his bedroom hallway. The chill of the air soon penetrated into his fogged mind as he and she harshly panted together in the now quiet house.

Sam looked up at Jack after a moment spent catching her breath. She grinned. I guess that answers my 'sexual compatibility' question, she said in a low voice.

His voice equally as low, Jack said, I'd say that we seem to be quite compatible... unless you demand having that bed as part of the compatibility equation.

Sam giggled at his mention of the bed. The fact that we didn't even come close to making it to a bed shows more compatibility between us than not. She sighed and snuggled up to him, resting her head under his chin, her cheek on his chest. In fact, I don't think I've ever been more compatible with anybody.

Not even..? Jack's voice stopped before he could put his voice to a name, but then, he didn't have to say a name. 'Pete' sounded on the air without him even having to whisper it. He immediately apologized, I'm sorry, I shouldn't compare, or even wonder about any compari...

Why not? she asked just as quickly. I make those kinds of comparisons all the time... why shouldn't you?

Jack looked at her in surprise. You do?

Sam nodded. I can't help it, she confessed at last.

After another silent moment fraught with pensive insecurity, Jack asked, And... um... how do I... um... compare?

Sam grinned again. Her mischievous grin was becoming well-known to him by now. It showed her hidden wicked streak, a quirk that Jack was quickly growing to love and treasure in her as much as he cherished more of her known personality traits. I can't say that there's really much comparison, she announced. This is soooo much better!

Jack laughed then, and Sam laughed. Peels of laughter floated throughout the house.

Sam kept giggling at him, at them. Finally she was calm enough to ask, And how do I compare with Kerry? Then her brow drew down into a frown. I guess I'm assuming here...

No, I'm afraid that assuming is called for, he told her, his regret loud in his voice. And again, there's no comparison. Then, I was wishing it was you. Now, it really is you. He looked partly sad at what he was divulging, and partly amazed that he was really holding her in his arms. I'd rather have you any day.

That comment seemed to please Sam. Truly?

Jack looked at her. Truly, he whispered, and kissed her just for the sake of kissing her. His whispering continued, and so did his kisses. You are so... cool, he shyly told her.

I do feel cool, Sam agreed, though she knew that hadn't been what he meant. Cold, in fact. She eyed his bed that she could see through the open door of his bedroom. Should we try out that bed now? she asked, helplessly giggling again.

Jack kissed her nose. Hope you're not as cold as your nose is, he said, pushing to his knees. Crap! I'm getting way too old for this!

Sam pushed up beside him. That carpeted floor in your bedroom suddenly seems very soft.

Soft and inviting, but not nearly as warm as the bed, Jack commented, and climbed out of his pants before making his way over to the bed, where he pulled back the covers for them. He cuddled with her as he pushed the blanket, sheet, and finally the coverlet around them.

Sam curled into him, humming under her breath.

What are you humming? Jack asked after listening to her for a moment.

'Simply Irresistible,' she told him, then grinned.

* * *

Sam woke an hour later in a nest of warmth, aware of solid skin under her cheek, and an erection poking into her thigh. It matched her growing libido. Janet would say that we're libidinous, Sam commented to Jack when she realized he was awake and gazing at her in something akin to rapture.

Jack grinned at her. 'Libidinous?' he echoed her.

Oh yeah. Sam grinned back at him as she slowly kissed his chest. She moved down that chest as he groaned. This makes me want to do certain things a second time, she lasciviously whispered to him.

Good, Jack whispered back, then captured her lips with his own in a kiss full of blinding passion.

Good, Sam repeated in between his kisses. Then she was swept away in just the smell of his skin, too far gone to comment one way or another on their shared desire.

* * *

Sam woke again an hour after that to find his gaze once more focused on her. Daniel didn't call and interrupt us, she remarked. No one interrupted us. She sounded faintly astonished.

Jack wiggled next to her, and snaked his arms around her, pulling her warmth to him. Don't knock it, he suggested. Besides, there's always time for...

He didn't even get the word 'interruptions' out of his mouth before they were being interrupted by the ringing phone. Jack reached to his cordless, pushed the 'talk' button, and without even giving a greeting, said, Yes, Daniel, announcements... we know. Let me and Samantha get out of bed... Give us five, He hung up when he pushed the 'end' button, and then dropped the phone to his carpeted floor and rolled over to lay another long kiss on Samantha's lips. Niiiiiice, he said and smiled.

Sam smiled back, and reached out to meet him half way. She replied just before his lips met hers, I hope that was really Daniel.

* * *

Five hours later, Sam was exhausted, but not too tired to visit Jack in his office. They had spent many hours getting one wedding announcement ready for translation, one marriage notice prepared for the Colorado Springs and Denver newspapers, and Sam had been gone for several hours as she took an unexpected trip through the 'Gate to see if Jonas Quinn was available to stand up with his former team mate in a little over a week at the wedding ceremony for the 'uncleared' wedding guests, as Daniel wouldn't be the person performing the 'faux' ceremony at the Academy Chapel, and would be standing beside Jack and Teal'c during that particular ceremony. Now back in the SGC, Sam could at last timidly creep into Jack's office where he had been busy doing paperwork while awaiting her return.

Jack looked up at her standing at the door the minute she knocked, and he couldn't contain the smile that burst out of him at her safe deliverance from visiting Jonas Quinn. She smiled back, then quietly closed the door behind her.

Samantha! he said, still grinning. Glad that you're back! Now, what's up?

It was as if he had thrown a bucket of freezing cold water all over her. Her smile quickly disintegrated at his unintentional reminder of recent events, and she helplessly leaned against his door knob for a brief moment. Then she gave Jack a look of what she hoped was a somewhat encouraging expression, but it turned into one of pure panic instead. That wasn't Daniel on your house phone a few hours ago, she said in response to his question.

Jack stopped pretending to read the requisition for 100 boxes of tissues for the Infirmary that he was currently reading to curiously ask her, Then who was it?

Mark. Sam went limp after her announcement and sagged against the door, too drained to even behave as if all was right with the world any longer, even for him. Sergeant Harriman just told me that five or so hours ago, he told my brother to call you at your house, since Mark couldn't get a hold of me on my land line, or on my cell phone, and called here, where he was then told to call your house.

Jack's face lit up in understanding of why her brother couldn't reach her on her phone. He had turned off her cell phone, and neither of them had remembered to turn it back on. Then complete comprehension of the situation must have hit him, for his face suddenly paled. Had you told him about... about what'shisname?

Sam's wide eyes grew even wider. Not exactly, she admitted in a guilty voice, and winced.

Jack dropped his pen onto the top form in the pile of forms before him. 'Not exactly?' he inquired in an echo of her.

Sam shrugged. Well... I told Jason.

Jack mouthed an, 'Ah,' then queried aloud, And Jason is..?

Jason is Mark's son, Sam replied. And he's ten.

Jack sighed. And did you tell this Jason to tell his Dad about you and..? He paused. And..?

Sam finished for him: she instinctively knew who he was asking about: Pete. She finished his question for him by grimacing, and finally admitted in a whisper, Not exactly.

Jack leaned back in his chair, sighed, and said, Of course you didn't, as he scrubbed a hand across his face.

Sam's brows lowered over her eyes. What's that supposed to mean? she asked. She was trying to keep any sound of accusation out of her voice, but it was hard.

Jack sighed again. Don't take this the wrong way, Samantha, but you do have a tendency to avoid having unpleasant emotional conversations by finding some way to skirt around the issue.

Like you should talk! Sam instantly commented.

The only thing that saved Jack's ass from becoming green as grass then was the fact that he gave a small smile and rhetorically asked her, And just who do you think I learned all my good avoidance tactics from?

Sam smiled then, if a bit on the hesitant side. Me? she guessed.

Well, it wasn't the Easter Bunny, Jack sarcastically said.

Sam grinned then, a much firmer gesture, then slid into a chair in front of Jack's desk. She inquired, Has Mark called you back today at the SGC?

No, Jack reported, then amended, Not that I know of, at least.

He's probably too angry to call, Sam said, busy imagining how things must appear to Mark: he had called his younger sister, expecting a friendly chat, maybe even some commentary about her excellent choice in fianc‚s, since she had chosen his good friend to marry. Except that wasn't what had happened at all; his innocent phone call had either not been answered, or had been picked up by a strange man who called him 'Daniel' and said that he and 'Samantha' were in bed together. And he would instantly assume that 'Samantha' was his sister. And as he didn't know anything about the recent developments in Sam's life, it seemed to him that his younger sister was cheating on a man who was his good friend as well as her fianc‚. No wonder he seemed to be a bit too peeved to phone again.

But Jack smiled at her, an endearing gesture of his own that put her immediately at ease. Well, if my little sister was doing mysterious things with a mysterious man who said the words 'Samantha' and 'bed' to him in the same sentence over the phone before letting him get a word in edgewise, I would be slightly ticked off, too. He held out his arm for her to come around his desk and slip into his embrace. He pulled her even closer until she was definitely sitting on his lap. Don't worry, he soothed. If all else fails, if he does call again, and yells before you can explain, transfer his call up here, and I'll talk to him. I assume you want him to come to the wedding, right? hen he amended, The second wedding, I mean. Sam nodded. I have to talk to him about this sometime then...

We can make a conference call to him right now and get it over with, Sam thoughtfully suggested.

We could, Jack said just as pensively. But I suggest that you give him a chance to get over this mad bit. Jack nodded. He'll be a lot more receptive to this whole thing in a few hours.

Or a few days, she wryly said. Then she peered at him in a hopeful 'what is your opinion about this' way. Maybe tomorrow? she suggested next.

That sounds like a plan, he said and smiled at her.

Sam sighed, then snuggled even deeper on his lap. I've always wanted to do this, ya know, she confessed, then added a further explanation, I mean, to curl up on your lap. She went on, I feel like I did when I was a little girl, sitting on Santa's lap: safe.

Jack snorted, and tightened his arms around her. 'Safe' notwithstanding, I'm gonna be your husband, not Santa.

Sam sighed, then grinned. Guess I got my Christmas wish after all.

I know I got mine this afternoon, Jack grinned lecherously up at her.

Sam grinned just as lecherously back at him. Wonder who we made win the bet about us sleeping together? We know it's part of the SGC betting pool, she remarked.

Who cares, Jack responded, and kissed her on her cheek. Maybe it was me.

Sam turned, and he caught her lips in a kiss before she could respond to his last comment. Was it? she was able to eventually ask.

And if I say 'yes?'

Sam surprised him by telling him, Then I say we take the money you've won, run, and buy a new big screen TV with it. That way you can really enjoy watching The Simpsons.

Jack added, And you can see those Discovery Channel documentaries larger than life.

Sam smiled at him. And then we can both see those documentaries that they occasionally show about fish.

You mean 'fishing,' he corrected, and kissed her again. And I wonder who's watching us right now through the star chart and yelling down to Hammond in the Control Room that I just kissed you? As one, they both turned their heads to catch the light softly glinting off Sergeant Harriman's glasses sitting on top of his head as he peaked over the stairs at them.

Jack whispered into her ear. Let's give him something to really write home about.

Before Jack could even grab Sam's shoulders in his grip, Sam had snaked her fingers onto his cheeks and kissed him so deeply that even Jack felt his toes curl up inside his combat boots. So much for the hardened warrior that he was supposed to be! But Jack found that he didn't care anymore as her hands slipped to the back of his head, where she cradled him as the kiss wore on.

At last, she sat back a fraction of an inch and smiled at him. Jack grinned back. You can do that anytime for Walter, he invited. And as one, they looked in the direction of the Briefing Room stairs, smiled, and waved. Walter ran down the stairs then in a rush to get away.

What did you want to talk to me about this afternoon at lunch, Jack? Sam suddenly asked as they continued to stare out the star chart window. Then she glanced back at him. I'm afraid that we got a little... waylaid... this afternoon.

Jack's brows arched. 'Waylaid' is a nice way of saying 'really hot Carter sex.'

I don't know about you, but I had really hot O'Neill sex, Sam saucily replied to him. Then she leaned a little further back on his lap. But I'm serious, Jack, she said then. We'll forget again... What did you want to tell me?

Oh, Jack said, suddenly remembering. Two things, really. Sam nodded, to show that she was listening. Jack cleared his throat to stall for just a second of time, then launched into his spiel, You know that I read your journal... at least the end.

Right.

Just that... You mentioned that... What'shisname... Jack couldn't seem to force himself to actually say the name.

Sam didn't have as much trouble as Jack did. Pete... You know, I really hated that whole thing about hurting you, Jack.

Jack furrowed his brows as he gazed at her. You took acting classes? he asked instead of further commenting on her comment. She furrowed her forehead, and hesitantly nodded. How come you didn't tell me? he went on to ask.

Sam seemed taken aback, as if she hadn't been expecting his question. They were getting married in only a few days, and he wanted to discuss her acting class? It didn't seem important enough to tell you about, she finally replied.

Are you acting now? Jack queried in a soft voice.

Sam seemed genuinely horrified. No! She almost slid off his lap in her surprise. How could I ever pretend my feelings this afternoon? she inquired.

Jack shrugged. Did you act with... what'shisname?

This time it was Sam's turn to give a casual shrug, trying to divert the direction of his questioning. Well... no,... n...

'Not exactly, they both said together.

Jack went on by himself, wholly undiverted. Care to explain?

Sam gave another self-effacing shrug, this time with a small smile added to the gentle rise of her shoulders. I'll just say that this afternoon wasn't exactly the first time we've made love.

Jack narrowed his eyes to thoughtfully protest, No... I'm pretty sure I'd remember something as amazing as making...

You wouldn't remember me making imaginary love to you, Sam pointed out to him.

Well... no, Jack had to concede.

Again came Sam's shrug as she tried to explain, One of my dad's worst fears was that I would join the military just to become what he expected me to become; a distraction of the sexual variety to the male soldiers. And eventually he worried that I would become nothing more than a sexual distraction to all the male soldiers. She sighed. Even then he believed that I was better than just that, and wanted more for me, even if he was afraid of the opposite happening: he had seen it happen often enough.

Well, you are a sexy distraction, Jack agreed with the imaginary Jacob, then choked at the look of aggravation that Sam was sending him. He hastily added, But you're so much more than just a distraction, and we all know it. Then he smiled. And if we don't already know it, you'll kick our ass until we do.

Sam smiled at him, as if to convey a comment of 'Nice save,' but instead went on to say, I made sure that I was more than just a sexy distraction, as you've so thoroughly pointed out.

Your astrophysics degree, Jack filled in for her in a tone of understanding.

Sam nodded. I love science.

And I love you, Jack softly told her. He was more than aware that it was the first time he had ever voiced such emotions. The fact that he chose to say those words in his office in the heart of the SGC didn't go unnoticed by either of them. The words seemed to be even more extraordinary surrounded by the very walls of the entity that had made the regulation to help subdue his regard for her in the first place. The fact that that regard of his for her, and hers for him, had flourished despite the regulation seemed quite incredible to both of them.

Sam couldn't resist her urge to smile at Jack when he said those quiet words that she had wanted to hear for more than seven years. But she ignored his confession so that she wouldn't make him associate uncomfortable feelings with something that she had decided should make them both feel warm and happy instead. Anyway, she said, continuing on. (Those particular words were still too scary to completely confront head on.) Anyway, she repeated.

Samantha, Jack said, deliberately cutting her off to summarily change the subject. I think we should look for a new house together, one that's ours, not yours, not mine, not one that I buy or you buy without even a word of input from the other...

Sam gazed at him in delighted surprise. A house together seemed so... permanent. It didn't escape her notice that she had been feeling more trapped than delighted when Pete had recently bought a house for them without her knowledge or input. The fact that only a few days later, Jack was thinking about not doing the exact same thing carried more weight with her than she would have ever imagined. Instead, he wanted to ask for her opinion about that matter first. Such a decision on his part meant even more to her than it otherwise would have.

Sam grinned. You want to buy a house?

Unless you want to live on base for the rest of our lives, Jack suggested in an humorous tone.

Sam rolled her eyes in response to that tone of his. And live with the security cameras all the time, the Air Force aware of our every move?

Jack nuzzled into the side of her neck. After this afternoon's activities, we could spend the rest of our lives shocking the socks off every soldier to come through Cheyenne Mountain's main gates, he suggested.

Sam's eye roll was decidedly sarcastic this second time. I'd rather buy a house, I think, she answered.

Jack went on, And I have to admit that it would be someplace to go that's an unknown to... He didn't say the name this time either, but they both, again instinctively, knew who he was talking about. Jack sighed and admitted, It's just that, after reading your journal and how... what'shisname... how he followed you at first... not that you didn't know about that...

Jack? Sam asked, doing some interrupting of her own now. Just what are you saying?

Jack sighed again, sounding aggravated now. I'm only worried about you, he admitted, and looked at her, his anguish burning in his gaze. If we buy a house, but keep it quiet-like... then stay on base until we can move in... Well, Jack finally said, there's no telling if he's still watching you or not, and... His voice trailed away before he could finish his comment. What do you think? he asked.

Sam was hesitant as she replied, Is that the only reason you want to look at houses?

No, Jack told her. I just want to start a new life with you, in a totally new place... our place. It would be a nice side benefit, however, he added to her.

Sam smiled at him, and tightened her grip on his back. When do we start? she asked instead of answering him.

* * *

Excerpt from Sam's Journal

April 9, 2005

Jack and I looked at two houses today, one three bedroom, and one four. Jack said that it might be nice to have the extra space 'in case we need it someday.' Does that mean what I think it means?

Oh, and I found Pete's engagement ring right before we left! I had thought I'd sent it back to the planet where the device I was working on at the time I had lost Pete's ring came from, but his ring was under the edge of my laptop computer the entire time! I had to move it (the computer) in order to grab a small piece of paper with the addresses of the houses for me and Jack to look at that had slipped further under my computer when Jack and I were ready to leave the base, and there it was! As cold as this sounds, I mailed it back to Pete in a regular envelope so that I don't have to see him again. I'm just glad that Jack wasn't in my lab yet at the time that I found that ring! That could have been awkward!

Secret: I admit it.... I was comparing Jack's ring to the one I found... I couldn't help it... I like Jack's so much better... I would, even if it didn't fit as good as it does...

Jack even knows my ring size... Is this cool or what???????????

Sequel: Conversations


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