Thirty Seconds
by Suz

Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.

Spoilers for 'Solitudes', 'Fair Game', 'Divide and Conquer', and 'Window of Opportunity'.

Buckle up kids! We're going back to the universe we last visited in 'Anything Stupid'...but I have to warn ya; it's probably not what you're expecting. It's certainly not what I was expecting.


{Hands. Eyes. Lips.}

{Hands. Eyes. Lips.}



Sam opened her eyes, then quickly scrunched them closed. Dammit, not again! Every night for the last month!

Sighing, she rubbed her hands over her face and threw back the blanket from her bed as she stood up. Picking up her robe from where it lay over a chair, she slipped it on and glanced over at the clock on the bedside table.


She'd woken up before the alarm - as usual. Her body clock had long since become used to her hours and almost every morning woke her up just before her alarm was due to go off.

As if it had known she was thinking about it, the clock ticked over to 06:30 and the alarm went off.

Hitting the off button Sam yawned, then made her way to the bathroom. As she got ready to go to work, she pondered over the dream. Yet again.

Every night for the past month she'd been having the same damn dream. She didn't experience it in vivid detail so it was quite vague, but she was aware of enough to know what was happening. And - attractive as he was - she didn't think she was quite at a point where she should be dreaming about him every night. Although there were times...

So, she was starting to feel concerned. They'd brought back enough strange things through the Stargate for her to suspect something out of the ordinary. Just to be on the safe side, she should have Janet check her out - it was the responsible thing to do.

Now if only she could do it without having to explain what the dream was about...


"What's the dream about?"

Sitting on the edge of a bed in the infirmary, Sam dipped her head. She'd come here as soon as she arrived on base. She wasn't due to officially start work for another twenty minutes, so she decided she might as well take advantage of the time. Okay. Time for a little creativity. "Well it's quite vague - dreams usually are - but...someone's kissing me."

A slow smirk spread across Janet's face as she stood next to her friend. "Anyone I know?"

She hadn't meant to give it away, but apparently just from the look she gave her Janet immediately knew who it was.

"Oh," The doctor said, still unable to stop smiling despite her efforts. "Was it enjoyable?"


"Sorry, I'm sorry," Janet apologised, finally giving up on teasing her. "Okay. On a more serious note...recurring dreams aren't that unusual. Most of us have them at some time. However..."

"Every night." Carter sighed. "Every single night."

"Does seem a bit excessive," Janet conceded. "And," She was clearly trying to phrase the next part delicately. "It's definitely not a memory? Not something you've...done before?"

Shit, did everybody know about those? She hadn't spoken to anyone - not even Janet - about all, 'all those' made them sound like a lot. Five kisses weren't a lot, were they?

Still, General Hammond seemed to know about them and if he did...God she felt depressed.

"No. Definitely not." This was nothing like the others.

"And," Again with the delicacy. "You don't believe it's simply wish fulfilment?"

Rationally, Sam knew she had to ask that question. And though her answer was negative, she did hope that her imagination was capable of giving her much more vivid dreams than the ones she was experiencing at the moment.

"Okay," Janet declared. "Let's run some tests, see if we can rule out the usual suspects. Maybe even the unusual ones. Who knows? Maybe you actually brought back a nice virus this time."


"Sure. A virus that gives you pleasant dreams every night? I'd like to get infected with that one."



Damn. She'd managed to get through the briefing relatively normally. It didn't help that every time she looked at him she was suddenly reminded of the dream, of the faint sensations it evoked...

Okay, this was definitely the wrong thing to be thinking about when a General wanted your attention.

The meeting had just been dismissed and everyone had filed out to get ready to disembark. They were due to go to PXW 2R1 in an hour and they had the usual equipment to check over, things to make sure they had packed.

But now, apparently, Hammond wanted to talk.

Making sure everyone had definitely left, she resisted the urge to suddenly stand to attention. "Yes sir?"

"Dr Fraiser tells me you've been having some unusual dreams."

Damn. Well, Janet had warned her she'd have to tell Hammond. Because of the unique nature of their work here, anything that related to medical matters - especially things that were out of the ordinary - had to be reported to Hammond. "Yes sir."

"I hope they're not particularly unpleasant."

So the good news was he didn't actually know what they were about. She reminded herself to thank Janet later. "No sir, thankfully not. And I'd also like to assure you they will in no way effect my work, in fact-"

"I know that Major," He smiled maternally. "I know that the tests Dr Fraiser ran came back clean. However, if they still continue after some time perhaps you'd like to talk to someone about them."

She knew where this was heading. "MacKenzie."

He shrugged. "I know you're not overly fond of the man; most people aren't. But he is a professional. It's by no means an order."

Thank God!

Hammond continued. "Or, you could talk to someone else; your friends. One of us."

Oh she really didn't think so.

"Just know that we're here for you." He finished with a reassuring smile.

She nodded, knowing very well she wasn't going to take him up on his offer. "Thank you sir."


PXW 2R1 was a lovely planet. Lots of trees, mountains and grass. It reminded her of the few times she'd been to Vancouver - but then most of the planets they visited did. PXW 2R1 was definitely the rule, not the exception.

"Carter?" O'Neill asked after SG-1 had stepped clear and the Stargate had shut down.

She nodded to the west. "The UAV showed possible naquadah traces in this direction sir."

He sighed. They all knew it was a journey that took more than a day. "Okay. Let's roll kids."

He managed to go all of five minutes without conversation. "So here's a question: why are we, SG-1, the flagship team of Earth...hunting traces of naquadah?"

Daniel fielded this one, walking a step behind Sam and O'Neill with Teal'c at his side. "Think about it Jack - we don't actually know that this planet is uninhabited."

"The UAV didn't show anything."

"The UAV didn't fly over the entire planet. Besides, it wouldn't be the first time that thing has missed out on spotting life forms."

"Hey Carter," O'Neill said. "I think he's critiquing your work."

She grinned. "I'll live sir." She was glad for the banter. Things had been tense for a while following the zatarc incident - for obvious reasons - but there had been an agreement that it wouldn't change anything, that it couldn't change anything. It had definitely been strange to begin with, but now they were both coping with it.

Feelings were out in the open. It didn't make any difference. The end.

Didn't mean they couldn't be friends.

Of course the fact that she'd been dreaming about him lately didn't help.

Thankfully he'd gone back to mock arguing with Daniel, and didn't notice that she may just have been blushing.


"Oooh, MRE's. Yum."

Sam grinned.

Dusk had arrived, and with it O'Neill had ordered that they set up camp. By the time they got most of the tents up and the fire going - all indications were that it would rain overnight - it was already dark. She pointed out that maybe the sun settled much faster here. He pointed out that maybe Daniel was just really slow at getting the tent up.

She had to concede his point, before suggesting that if he set it up himself maybe it wouldn't take so long. He gave her his "And miss out on all the fun?" expression.

Teal'c was great at putting up a tent; though it wasn't often he used one. More often than not he'd prefer to sit outside while he slept or performed kel'no'reem. She'd even seen him out there during a couple of rainstorms. The only time she could remember him retreating into a tent in recent memory was a few months ago when they were caught in a sudden blizzard.

Still, 'dinner' - such as it was - was opened and ready to eat, so the Colonel ordered everyone to sit down.

"Daniel, stop torturing the tent and come and eat something will ya?"

The large lump under the pile of moving fabric - who had been uncharacteristically swearing for some time - wriggled free.

"You'd think an archaeologist would be better at setting up tents."

Slumping next to the fire with the rest of them, Daniel glared. "You'd think that if it was obvious someone was having trouble that a friend would come and help."

O'Neill used that expression again.

A companionable silence fell on the group until - as usual - he had to start talking. "Anyone know any horror stories?"

It came out before she could stop it. "Your hair?"

Everyone blinked at her. She didn't apologise.

He didn't seem offended. "Look who's talking."

Ouch. But she guessed she deserved that one.

"We have performed this ritual on many occasions," Teal'c informed them, having suffered through the experience with everyone else. "It is unlikely that you have any more 'ghost stories' since the last time we did this."

O'Neill puffed out his chest. "Is that so? Well, that's where you'd be wrong, Teal'c. I got a story for you. A real good one."

Sam didn't buy it for a second, but when he sent a grin her way, she knew she wasn't supposed to.


"Yeah. It's called...The Ancient Mechanical Spiders of Mexico."


The story almost didn't get told. Every thirty seconds - and on occasion even more frequently - Daniel interrupted to correct the many and various historical inaccuracies of his story.

Jack eventually told him to shut up and continue torturing the tent.

So, after much grunting and swearing and promises to tear the thing to pieces tomorrow, Daniel went to bed. Shortly after, Teal'c situated himself some distance away and slept. Or entered kel'no'reem. No one was really sure how to differentiate between the two.

A slightly less than comfortable silence ensued. More comfortable than it had been a while ago, but still not completely at ease. Around the others they were fine, but there were no others at the moment.

Just them.

And the memory of what had been said.

"I hear you've been having weird dreams."

She jerked her head up, staring at him.

He was looking at the fire, seemingly hypnotised by the rolling flames. But if his words mimicked his thoughts, then his mind was on anything but the fire.

You never could keep any secrets where they worked.


He nodded, prodding the fire with a stick, trying to make it look as if the movement wasn't calculated.

He failed.

"You okay?" More prodding. "I mean, they're not too freaky or anythi-"

"I'm fine," She interrupted softly. "They're nothing like that. Thanks."

Nodding, his cap firmly placed on his head, he pulled his jacket a little tighter together with his free hand apparently feeling the same chill she was beginning to feel.

She was tired. It had been a long day, a long walk, and her feet wanted no more pressure on them.

She didn't move.

"They're about you," She surprised herself by saying.

He finally looked up, about the only move in the past few minutes that wasn't planned in advance, the only thing that could stop him planning: surprise. It certainly wasn't what he'd been expecting to hear. "Me?" No smug smile, not yet. Just an obscene amount of curiosity.

This wasn't against regulations, was it? This was just two friends talking. "Yeah."

"I mean 'you' as in 'me', not 'you' as in 'Yu'?"

She grinned. Oh, he had recovered already, and had it been anyone else sitting with him they probably wouldn't have noticed his nervousness. "Yes."

"Ah." An uncomfortable pause, as again he looked at the fire. "What am I doing?"

Sam didn't say anything. She didn't need to.

He understood.

"Ah." Now his nervousness would have been obvious to anyone.

"We're not..." She explained. "But we are..." Listen to her! She certainly wasn't inexperienced, but she couldn't even say the words.

But, as he lifted his gaze to meet hers and the firelight reflected from his face, she realised something else: she wasn't the only one who'd dreamt about them.

Oh...she...was *so* not thinking about that.

She didn't wait for him to ask the questions. "It's not a memory, and I don't think it's something I want to happen."

He winced. She hadn't meant it that way, but maybe it would be better to let him think that she had. Besides, he must have known that it wasn't true. He must have.

O'Neill shifted on the log he was sitting on, clearly uncomfortable - physically and psychologically. It didn't seem to stop him asking his next question. "What happens?"

She shouldn't be talking about it. She shouldn't even think about talking about it, but...this was leading to something. What that something was she didn't know, but she had to tell him. Had to. So she spoke quietly but firmly. "Your hands touch my face...and I know what you're going to. It's just for a split second, but I can see your eyes and I realise. And then you do it."

"Kiss you?" His voice sounded decidedly rough.

They were both staring at the fire. She had been since she started telling her story. "Yeah. You kiss me and I remember feeling stunned...I'm absolutely shocked that you'd do it."

"Why?" He cleared his throat. "I mean, it's not like it would have been the first time..."

Something Sam had wondered about herself. "I don't know, I..." Closing her eyes she tried to recall the dream, tried to remember some detail. The vagueness wasn't helping. She had no knowledge at all of where they were when the kiss took place, just that it happened, that he touched her face, that he kissed her, that she was absolutely stunned that he'd do it in front of-

"Oh my God!"


"General Hammond was there!" Why the hell would she dream that Hammond was there? Maybe reinforcing the fact that it couldn't happen. Great, even her dreams were turning against her.

Before she realised it O'Neill was moving, standing up petulantly. "Oh for crying out loud!"

What the...? "Sir?"

"This is all Daniel's fault!" He was pacing back and forth now; walking a little path into the mostly dry mud that had congealed under a layer of old leaves.

"What is?"

"'No consequences', he said. 'No one will remember' he said. If he hadn't said it I probably wouldn't have even done it...okay, so maybe I would have anyway but that isn't the point! I am gonna *kill* that man-"


He stopped. Whether it was because she had shouted or because she'd grabbed his arm as she shouted, she didn't know.

He looked down at her hand.

She let go. "Sir, what are you talking about?"

O'Neill was most definitely agitated, but he managed to look scared at the same time. "That...dream. It actually happened."

No it hadn't. "No, sir. It was just a dream. It's not a memo-"

"It is a memory."

"I think I'd know it-"

"Carter, will you just take my word for it, *please*?" Pausing, he closed his eyes and shook his head. After a few seconds he opened them and faced her. "Remember when Teal'c and I were stuck in that time loop?"

"Of course." She didn't remember the actual time loops herself as only the Colonel and Teal'c were the ones who remembered, but idea crept into her mind. "You didn't..."

"Oh I did. Believe me."

Understanding thrust through her mind as she gaped at him. She was...she was...too ambivalent to decide exactly what it was she was feeling, but there was one lucky emotion that didn't need classifying at all. "You *kissed* me!?"

"Woah, could you speak any louder?" He hissed. "I don't think they quite heard you back on Earth."

"You *kissed* me?" She whispered.

"Well...yeah. But it was Daniel's idea!"

She had a hard time believing that. "Daniel told you to kiss me?"

"Not in so many words..."

"I can't believe you kissed me-"

"*You* try reliving the same ten hours over and over for more than three months, then see how *you* do."

Wow. Definite hostility there. Sam's anger went on hold for a moment. "I guess I never really thought about what it was like for you."

"Bored doesn't even begin to cover it. We have frustration, annoyance, anger, lunacy...and to top it all off, I had to learn Latin."

"Must have been hard." Talk about stating the obvious.

"Yes it was, Carter. And just when I was really, really starting to lose it - I'm talking psychological damage here - there was a sudden sliver of light when Daniel pointed something out: no consequences. I could do whatever the hell I wanted, and what I wanted was..."

She was not thinking about what he was saying. She wasn't even acknowledging what he was saying. "Why are you even angry? You could do whatever you wanted with whomever you wanted and not have to pay for it. How often do any of us have that kind of freedom? You kissed me, knowing full well that I wouldn't remember-"

"Or so I thought."

"How did you rationalise that? How did your conscience let you get away with it?"

Shaking his head, he thumped back down onto the log and sighed. "As I said...I was under a lot of stress."

"So that's the reason you kissed me? Because you were going a little nuts?"

"Is that what I just said?"

"I don't know what it is you're saying-"

"Is it really so hard to believe?" His voice was firm, but quieter than it had been. A kind of 'attention grabbing' quiet. He looked up - she was still standing - and met her gaze. "Is it really so out of the realm of possibility that without the influence of viruses, nishtar, alternate realities or a certain blood-of-Sokar obsessed snakehead...I would want to kiss you?"


That had taken the wind out of her sails.

Slowly, she lowered herself onto the log opposite his, the urge to fight draining from her body.

"You know why I kissed you Carter. And you know you would have done the same."

She had no way of knowing that. She had no way of knowing how she would have responded to the situation he and Teal'c had found themselves in. There was-

"You're thinking too much again. Stop it."

"Did you do anything else?"

"With you?" The question didn't seem to surprise him. "No. I'd want anything else to be...different. But I did resign first."

Resign. Regulations.



She only realised after he'd spoken that she'd closed her eyes.

"You missed me and Teal'c playing golf through the Stargate..."

Oh, God. Humour. He was doing this deliberately. He was providing the easy end to this conversation. As if there were such a thing.

Sam smiled a smile that was half-real. "There's an image."

"Hammond was pissed."

She still had her eyes closed. "I'm sure."

"I got pretty good at potte-"

"That's why you had that grin on your face."


She was remembering something else, now, and opened her eyes. "You had a huge grin on your face for days."

He shrugged awkwardly, a movement that asked 'wouldn't you'? "It was..." The fire had become fascinating again. "The first time with just us, you know? No outside influences. No viruses, no anything else,"

She wondered what it was like. It would be so easy to find out. "That's not fair."

"What isn't?"

"You remember. I don't."

It was clear he was sorry about that, but it was also clear he also didn't see a way around it. "Carter-"

She'd had enough. It didn't happen often. "I resign."

His eyes almost popped out of their sockets. "*Excuse* me?"

"When you kissed me, you said you resigned first. How long was it before the next loop started after you kissed me?"

"Uh...I don't know, less than thirty seconds? Look Carter, you can't resign-"

"Yes I can. For the next thirty seconds - here, I'll set my watch." She did. "I am no longer your subordinate. We can do whatever we want. For the next...twenty eight seconds."

"Carter, this is insane! You haven't actually resigned - it's not real."

"It is if I mean it. Twenty five seconds."

"You're the one always throwing regulations up at me, how can you suddenly choose to ignore them?"

"I'm not ignoring them, I've resigned. Incidentally, this will be the only time I'll do so. Twenty seconds."

"So it's a one time only deal?"

"Yes. No one is looking, no one is here to see, there are no security cameras that no one checks anyway, and we'll certain never mention it. Probably be the only chance we'll ever get to kiss when we're both fully aware of what's going on and there are no outside influences. But only if you want to-"

He was already sitting on the log next to her. He took his cap off. He actually took his cap off.

Then he pulled hers off.

She couldn't stop staring at him, and she was only just becoming aware of the amount of trouble she'd put herself in. She couldn't look away if she tried, but she knew as he bent towards her that there were about ten seconds left-

Oh. Oh.


Her watch beeped. It was actually painful.

They separated, but not by much. Closing her eyes, she rested the side of her face against his.

He made no effort to move. "That was...your fault."

She still wouldn't open her eyes. Her voice was barely above a whisper, her skin brushing against his. "Dad always said I was too stubborn."

This wasn't fair. This. Was. Not. Fair.

"Was it like that?"

"No," his voice passed like a shiver through her body. "No, that was different."

Her hand - which had found its way into his hair - slipped down until it reached his waist. His hand fell from her face, mimicking her own movements.

They stayed like that, wrapped around each other, until the sun rose.


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