by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.

Sequel to 'Thirty Seconds'. PG-13 for swearing.

Spoilers for 'Children of The Gods' and 'Divide and Conquer'.

Looks like we're headed into romance novel territory ;) But I'm having a crappy day, so I don't care!


Something was going on.

He may have been no psychologist. He may have only been an archaeologist with a vague interest in the human condition, but even he knew something was going on.

He just wasn't quite sure what it was.

Daniel pushed his glasses further up his nose, rotated the muscles on his back that were starting to feel the weight of the pack he was carrying, and continued pondering.

The mission was effectively complete. They'd spent two nights on PXW 2R1 and after discovering the naquadah traces they discovered they were exactly that - naquadah traces. All evidence pointed to the fact that while this world may once have been rich in the mineral, it had long since been taken or used by parties unknown - although Goa'uld's were the most likely suspects. Why there was no sign of a Goa'uld influence here, he didn't know, but he knew Jack would recommend sending in a specialist survey team just to make sure.

It paid to cover all the bases in their line of work.

Which lead him to his current thought processes: the feeling that he'd missed something.

He was walking alongside Teal'c, with Jack and Sam walking ahead of them. It wasn't unusual. They usually found themselves splitting off into pairs when on a mission like this one, with no particular preference as to whom they walked with. On any mission he could end up next to any one of them.

Still, there was that vague feeling at the back of his mind...

They weren't talking more than usual; they weren't arguing more than they normally did...that was it! They weren't arguing. They weren't even talking. Most of yesterday had been quiet and since they'd set out this morning they'd spent it largely in silence. No sarcastic remarks from Jack, no displays of extreme intelligence from Sam. They were just...walking.

So why, he wondered, did he also have the feeling just by looking at them that they might as well be holding hands?



"So what?"

Janet clicked off her penlight and smiled at her friend. "You were on the planet for two nights. Any more dreams?"

"Oh," Sam looked worried for a brief second. "No, no more dreams. I don't think I'll have them again either."

The doctor lifted her eyebrows. "Really? Why's that?"

"I...uh, figured out what it was."

"So it *was* something psychological then?" As she suspected.

"Yeah. But I've dealt with it now and it won't be bothering me anymore."

Well, that statement certainly had a ring of finality to it. A bit too final. "That was fast."

Sam shrugged. "Sometimes these things are."

"Sometimes...well, that's good to know anyway. But you'd better let me know if they come back-"

"I will, promise."

"Good," Janet nodded; still thinking something wasn't quite right. "I'm glad you're all right."

Sam smiled. "Really Janet, I'm fine-"


At the sound of his voice, she stood up off the bed she'd been sitting on. "Sir?"

O'Neill - who had just appeared in the doorway to the infirmary - cleared this throat. "Can I have a word? In private?"

"Of course," Sam walked with him to the other side of the infirmary where they promptly began talking in whispers.

Recklessly intrigued, despite what her conscience was telling her, Janet moved as close as she dared without looking obvious, hoping she looked as fascinated with her clipboard as she was trying to look. She couldn't make out much although she managed to pick up the words "lame ass romantic comedy" and "cool action adventure."

The conversation ended a few seconds later when O'Neill smacked Sam lightly on the shoulder, and finished talking in a normal tone of voice. "I knew there was a reason I made you my 2IC."

"Uh, technically sir you didn't make me your 2IC. And as I recall you weren't delighted with the prospect either."

He rolled his eyes but spoke fondly. "Shut up, Carter." Walking around her he nodded at Janet. "Doc, the boys and I will be here in five minutes for the usual fun and frolics of our post mission check up."

Keeping the authenticity of her act up, she dragged her gaze away from her 'fascinating' results on the clipboards. "Always a joy, Colonel."

When he was gone, Sam spoke up. "So can I go now?"

"Sure. Everything looks fine. But before you go I do have to know something..."


Janet nodded towards the corridor. "The Colonel?"

"Oh. Oh we're going to see a movie in a couple of days."

Again with the clipboard. "I'm sure Daniel and Teal'c will enjoy that." It was very difficult not to smile.

The Major cleared her throat. "Daniel and Teal'c aren't going."

"Ah. I see."

Sam sighed, then walked over to the doctor. "Janet, stop it. I'm sure that," She pulled the clipboard away from her and her eyes widened. "Wow, are those his physical details? Umm, I mean I'm sure whatever you're looking at can't be that interesting."

Janet wasn't so sure. "What's your point?"

"My point is that our whole society seems to believe the misconception that men and women can't just be friends! Can't we go to a movie - just the two of us - without it looking bad?"


Sam's mouth hung open. "I can't believe you just said that! As a woman I'd have thought you know exactly-"

"Sam, of course I know what you're talking about. You think I haven't heard the rumours about me and Daniel? There's not a grain of truth to them but people love to gossip. They always have and they always will. Normally there's not a problem with that."

"But there is with me and the Colonel."

There was the rub. "Yes."

From her expression, she certainly knew why. "Janet, just because what happened...happened, just because he was forced to say...it's doesn't change anything and we are well aware of that."


"We have a right to be friends. We at least have the right to do this as friends."


"How was the movie?"

Jack - as usual - was bored, and had meandered into Daniel's office some ten minutes ago. Having flopped down into a chair next to his, he'd now been fiddling with a piece of paper Daniel really wished he wouldn't fiddle with.

At Daniel's question he lifted his head and paused his fiddling. "Pretty cool, actually. Thankfully it was none of that sci-fi crap."

"Did it have a plot?"

"Do they ever? Explosions were cool though. And *wow*, that actress with the big-"

"What did Sam think?"

"I don't think she was bothered they were that big."


Grinning, Jack absently rubbed the corner of the paper with the thumb and forefinger on his right hand. "She enjoyed it. Especially the guy with the huge-"

"Did you drive her home?"

"The woman with the big-?"

"Are you *trying* to annoy me?"

"Don't know. Is it working?" Smiling sadistically, he finally stopped torturing the paper and - much to Daniel's relief - put it on the desk. "Actually, Mr Politically Correct, *she* drove *me* home."

Daniel nodded. "And did she walk you to your front door afterwards?"

Jack's smile began to fade. "What kind of question is that?"

He shrugged innocently. "I'm just curious."

"Yeah, well I think you're getting too curious for your own damn-"

The phone rang.

Both men stared at it, until eventually Daniel reached out a hand and picked it up. "Yes?" He wasn't at all surprised to hear the voice that was speaking to him. "Sure. Just a minute."

Pulling the phone away from his ear, he held it out to Jack. "It's Sam."

Trying not to look guilty Jack took the phone from him and then lifted it up to his face. "Carter? Yep. Sure. Okay. That's fine. All right, 'bye." Apparently done, he passed it back to Daniel who hung it up. "Thanks."

Daniel stared at him.

"We're going to dinner. You and Teal'c are more than welcom-"

"No, it's okay. I have plans."

"What plans?"

"With Teal'c. We're going to see a movie." He paused. "As friends."


Sitting on a chair in the commissary, Daniel stared at his mug of coffee with both hands wrapped securely around it. Pondering...wondering...was that a new blend? The smell was just slightly different, and as for the taste-

"Is this seat taken?"

He looked up and smiled. "Hey Janet. Help yourself."

Settling in the chair opposite his, she smiled in returned before sipping at her own coffee. "Oo. Tastes like a new blend."

"That's exactly what I was just thinking."

"Either that or they got bleach in the mugs again."

He contemplated his own mug with something akin to disgust. "So how are you?"

"Very well, thank you. And you? You do seem a little distracted."

Daniel shrugged half-heartedly. "Just got a lot on my mind I guess. Is it just me or are Sam and Jack-?"

"Oh God, yes."

He looked up, not sure if he should be relieved or not. "Glad it's not just me."

"Let's hope it stays with just you and me."

"They haven't exactly been subtle. Seeing the movie, dinner tonight..."

"Did you know she went to his place the other evening?"

Wow. "Uh, no. I didn't."

"I think it was the night before they saw the movie."

Sighing, Daniel lowered his head, almost thumping it against the table.

"You know what this means." She continued.

Yeah. Yeah, he did.


"Daniel, what the hell are you talking about?"

The locker room. The site of several confrontations over these past few years, not least of which was Sam jumping Jack under the influence of that alien virus. Right now, Jack was getting changed into civilian clothes.

Jackson tried to keep his patience in check. Normally he considered himself a person who was slow to anger, but Jack O'Neill had just the right habits to get on his nerves. "Sam going over to yours? Watching a movie together? Dinner tonight?"

"What's your point?" He demanded, zipping up his jeans.

"Don't you think it looks a little suspicious?"

"What, two friends spending time together?"

"Every night for three days running..."

Jack's voice was muffled as he pulled on a shirt. "Come on, you and I have done that."

"The difference being that I'm not Sam."

He paused mid-pull. "Why should that make any difference?"

"Jack...despite what you may think, I'm not an idiot. We may never have talked about it, but I know. About you and Sam."

He didn't even bother finishing to pull his top down. Instead he sighed and sat on the bench, knowing instinctively where it was. "Look, I...okay, things were said. But we are still friends. I didn't think you'd be one of those people who bought into that 'men and women can't just be friends' crap."

Dammit. "Jack, you still don't get it!"

"Get what?"

"You and Sam...you're dating. You're dating and you don't even realise it!"


Sam shivered unintentionally as another rumble of thunder echoed through the air. She loved a good lightning storm as much as anybody else but there were nights when you just didn't want one.

Over the pounding rain hitting her house, she thought she heard the distinctive roar of an engine...yep, peering through a window she could just make out his truck through the rain. As she watched the lights flicked off and the drivers door opened.

Wow. He was early. He was never early for anything. In fact they all knew he was notoriously late for most things...

The expected knock at the door never came.

Frowning, she put down the book she'd been half-reading and walked to the front door. Grabbing the handle she turned it and swung it open.

He was standing in her garden. In the pouring rain. Getting thoroughly soaked.


Pushing back the screen, she stepped out onto the porch, immediately feeling the cool air wrap itself around her, a few rogue raindrops making contact. "Are you okay? What's wrong?"

He was definitely starting to freak her out. He hadn't said a word. He was dressed in jeans, a shirt, his black leather jacket, and all he did was stay in rain and stare at her.

She was only wearing socks on her feet but her curiosity compelled her to step down on to the grass; her feet soaked in seconds, and her body wasn't far behind as the rain fell freely.

He had to be absolutely soaked to the skin by now. "Sir?"

It was only when she was two feet away that he finally spoke:

"Carter...who the fuck do we think we're kidding?"

Her perfectly constructed bubble of unreality burst.

There was only one answer to his question, and there were only two people they'd been fooling. Something they were getting good at, apparently. Too good.

But this time there was no force shield between them. There was nothing between them. Nothing but air, rain, regulations, and their respect for those regulations.

She'd actually managed to convince herself that they could do this without consequences. The back of her throat was hurting. "What do we do?"

He wore the expression of a man who'd been hanging by a thread for a while. "We have a chaperone. We don't do any 'friend' stuff on our own. We have a bad habit of denying something's really happening - we can't risk it."

Yeah, she supposed they did have that bad habit, and it was something that concerned her. Alone, by herself, she considered herself a realist. But when she was with him...something in her head got knocked off balance, and her rational decisions weren't quite so rational anymore.

"Besides," His expression still hadn't changed. "If we did...get involved...if either of our consciences could get past the regs thing, we'd have to be damned discreet. How long would it last without spontaneity?"

Sam gawked at him. "You're worried about spontaneity? Aren't you the one who plans and calculates practically everything he does?"

"What, you don't think *this* is spontaneous? Turning up at your house in the middle of a damn storm?"

"Speaking of that, what was the point? If you'd realised what we were doing, why not just knock on my door and tell me calmly what was going on? Why stand in the middle of my garden in the rain? What, were you going for dramatic effect?"

"Well sure, I figured it was the only thing that would work since Daniel had to hit me over the head to get me to see what was happening!"

That caught her short. "Daniel?"

He wiped a handful of rain from his face. "Perceptive little archaeologist. Look, Carter...we can't keep doing this! We can't keep denying something's happened until we get kicked in the ass with the obviousness of it! We can't keep pretending we're just friends because as much as we'd like to be we aren't! And we can't keep doing that kissing thing, either."

She blinked against the rain. "A majority of those weren't our fault-"

"I know! I was there, remember?"

Nodding, she shivered. She always thought she'd be on the other side of this argument.

"We've just...gotta be careful. Can't end up finding ourselves in situations where we might get closer than we intend to. Just gotta keep our distance."

"We've tried that before," She rebutted. "It didn't work then, either."

"Then we'll try harder!" Angrily shoving a hand through his soaking hair and getting it caught up he yanked it out and whirled away. "I gotta go."

That was it? That was *it*? That was effectively the end of three years of...what? Attraction, flirting, arguing, laughing, working, jealousy, the four letter word she was doing her best to forget even existed.

He wasn't even going to say goodbye. With this one conversation their old relationship was leaving and a new tightly controlled one was taking over.

No. Not yet. He wasn't gone yet.

She started sprinting, almost slipping on the grass but managing to keep her balance, reaching him just as he began to step around the front of his truck.


To say Jack was in a bad mood was putting it mildly. In fact, it would be the mildest you could put anything in the entire history of putting things mildly. He was soaked to the skin and then some - his own fault, admittedly - and he had a stress headache the size of Cheyenne Mountain itself.

Stomping away from Carter he left her garden and reached the sidewalk. Stepping off the curb he moved around his truck-

Something was on his arm. He turned to look at it and discovered it was Carter, or at least her hand. His gaze followed along the hand, the arm, the shoulder and then up to the face.

She was pissed.

It didn't happen often, and he knew from experience that it took a lot to get her really, really angry. And that was pretty much how he'd describe her current expression. "Carter?"

"That's it? After three years, that's *it*?"

Three years...three years of Martouf's, Narim's and Jonas'. And now, even though she was doing her best impression of a drowned rat, she was still as gorgeous as ever. If he'd been a hearts and flowers type of guy he probably would have told her she looked even more beautiful right now than she had on the day they met.

But he wasn't a hearts and flowers kind of guy.

So again he did something really stupid, telling himself it would be the last time.

The sudden movement surprised her but she quickly caught up, sliding the hand that had been grabbing his arm up until it reached the back of his head, pushing him closer. Her lips met his greedily and she tasted of rain and coffee and God, just of Carter.

They stumbled, leaning against his truck, desperate to get closer, hands pulling at clothes and exposing previously covered skin to fresh drops of rain. It was hard keeping their balance but they just about managed it. He hadn't made out against a car in years. Hell, he hadn't wanted to make out against a car in years.

The hand that wasn't grabbing his head found its way under both his jacket and his shirt, and when she made contact with the skin on his back he couldn't feel the rain anymore; just her hands her lips her breath and he had to be closer had to get closer and he was gone and he pushed her against the truck, hard, and his mouth was on her neck and her hands were in his hair before slipping down past his waist and pushing him closer-


Unreality fled.

The rain was still falling.

The passing car - the occupants of which having either really enjoyed or objected to the show - continued driving by.

They didn't notice.

Gasping, he stared at her with much the same expression he must have been wearing when she was trapped behind the force shield on Apophis' ship.

Her hands were still on his butt and one of his hands was under her top, just short of reaching its intended target.

He wondered how much of the wetness on his face was due to the rain.

Under a mutual silent agreement hands slipped away slowly, and they pulled apart until there was nothing connecting them together. Nothing at all.

In silence, the only sound being the falling rain, he reached out and touched the side of her face with his hand.

She made a noise he couldn't identify.

Jerking away he opened the door of his truck and climbed in. He didn't think he was in the right mind to be driving, but there was no way in hell he could stay with her for another second.

Closing the door he turned the key in the ignition and the truck leapt to life. He pulled away from the curb, mentally chastising himself for doing something so damn stupid. Again.

He was not going to look back. He was not going to look back. He was not going to look-


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