Unhappy Ever After
by Suz suzvoy@tesco.net

Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.

Many thanks to Anna, who I pretty much ruined the whole plot of this for in my bid to get someone to listen to the idea. Thanks, babe!

Spoilers for 'Children of The Gods', 'Secrets', 'Foothold', 'A Hundred Days', 'Nemesis', 'Small Victories', 'Divide and Conquer', 'Window of Opportunity', 'Serpent's Venom', 'Ascension', 'Rite of Passage', 'Last Stand', 'Revelations', 'Nightwalkers', and 'Abyss'. Set sometime after season six.

This one’s rated R. I’m serious. It’s not for kiddies. Lots and lots and lots of sexual situations. Do not read if you’re underage, or the Aschen will find you.


She loved his back porch, and – as far as she was concerned – she hadn’t been there nearly often enough. Leaning forward, her hands resting against the railing, she had a great view of his back yard – a yard that was impeccably well kept.

Oddly, she could just imagine that she was watching him out there, pottering about in the fading sunlight. Mowing the lawn, or playing with the dog he might finally get now that he was...


And she was going to miss him, she really was. Not to overstate his importance but SG-1, maybe even the entire SGC, was never going to be the same. He had a larger than life presence that affected everyone he worked with or around.

Part of that certainly meant he was arrogant, loud, brash, and frequently irritating...but it also meant he was remembered – mostly with fondness.

And, she had to admit, probably most of all by her.

But as much as she was going to miss working with him, or the secret thrill of running into him accidentally in the commissary or the corridor – or the frequent times he’d just ‘happen’ to turn up at her lab – part of her was hoping he’d open the door, step outside, and ask her a question.

She knew better than that. She knew that, after everything, it was up to her.

Which was probably just as well.

As if reading her mind, she heard the sound of the door sliding open: wood on wood, with occasional faint clangs of metal. Ridiculously she squealed inside then sternly reminded herself she was well on the wrong side of thirty, and wasn’t allowed to pass out simply because Jack O’Neill was coming to talk to her.

So, concentrating on her breathing, she inhaled and exhaled slowly – but was unable to stop her hands from gripping tighter onto the wooden rail.

It moved slightly as he leant his weight against it, matching her pose and sharing the same view, the heat of his body warm next to hers. Quiet music and voices burbled out of the house, accompanied by the occasional clunking of glasses.

The big bash had already happened a couple of days ago, but this was the smaller, more intimate affair. Just for them.

"Jonas is drunk,"

Sam grinned, lowering her head. Seven years ago he would have been talking about someone else. "I guess some things never change."

"No," He agreed, shifting his weight just slightly to the left until he was almost but not quite facing her. "Some things never do."

Ohhh...definite double meaning. She couldn’t be imagining that much, surely. Still, so much of their ‘relationship’ had been so incredibly vague that she was never sure if she should take anything at face value. "It’s gonna be weird, not following your orders anymore."

"Come on," He protested gently. "You never did anyway."

Pretending to be provoked, she stood tall and turned towards him. "I’ll have you know I am ‘a model officer who is a credit to the SGC and Earth’." She watched his lips quirk as he recognised the words. "Just ask the man who wrote my last personnel review."

"Can’t," the Colonel – *ex*-Colonel responded. God, what was she going to call him now? "He retired."

"He did? Shame," Turning away she resumed her former pose. Taking a deep breath, she pushed on. This was it. After this one of two things would happen: they’d end up grinning stupidly at each other, or she’d make a run for her car with her tail tucked between her legs and drive as far away as possible.

Why was she doing this again?

"Scuttlebutt on base was that he owned a beautiful cabin that you just had to see to believe."

There. It was out.

And from the corner of her eye, she could see that he’d lost several shades of his ever-present tan. He also wasn’t moving. At all. In fact, he may even have stopped breathing.

Before her mind could get to thoughts of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – and she really had to face it; her mind was already there – she lowered her gaze again and focused on the railing.

Brown. Wood. Fairly sturdy. Don’tthinkabouthim don’tthinkabouthim. She really was quite thirsty; maybe she should go inside and-

"He asked me to go a couple of times."

Her eyebrows lifted in surprise at his comment, and she responded automatically. "You didn’t go?"

A fake shrug. "Not really my thing."

"I’m sure you would have enjoyed it," Sam objected, grinning internally. This was *so* his way of dealing with things. "You were just..." She searched for the right word, found it, and continued. "...cautious."

"Hey, I gotta be careful, a man in my position. You never know *what* people might think."

She appreciated that, she really did. But it wasn’t the truth. "You’ve never cared what other people think."

This was news to him. "I haven’t?"

Back to the rail again. "You just understand how everything...works. How it’s supposed to work. Its proper order."

His blinking was almost audible. "Okay..."

Sam wasn’t done yet. There was more that had to be said. "I wouldn’t mind seeing him again." Were those words actually coming out of her mouth? After all these years, was she finally saying it?

It was liberating, but also very, very weird.

Now *he* was most definitely cautious. "The guy who owns the cabin, right?"

Just like him to double check. "That’s the one. It’d be nice if he turned up at my favourite Italian place this Friday, say about eight o’clock – but I guess there’s no way to get a message to him. Well," Oh God, she was going to stop breathing in a minute, she seriously was – so she took a page out of his book and slapped dramatically at the rail. "I’m thirsty. Think I’ll go get myself a drink."

With nothing else to say – or at least nothing else to say other than "I can’t *believe* I just did that!" which would kind of ruin the effect – she turned away and headed back into the house.

As she turned she deliberately caught a glimpse of his face – lowered, caught in the last of the sunlight, and grinning stupidly.

Seeing her own reflection in the glass of the sliding door, she realised she was wearing the same expression.

And it felt *good*.

Inside, Jonas was lolling about on the sofa, fascinated by the lollipop he held in his right hand. He was completely enthralled, as if what was on the end of the little stick held the answer to all the mysteries of the universe.

Teal’c, sitting on the chair opposite the sofa, simultaneously lifted an eyebrow and shook his head – a talent he’d long since mastered and refused to share the secret of with anyone.

Nodding in return, Sam stepped up into the kitchen, her heart rate still well above normal. The whole experience had been pretty much terrifying, which was ridiculous – she’d faced down countless Goa’uld’s, been kidnapped, become a host herself, and the prospect of asking him out to dinner had made the palms of her hands sweatier than an obese man learning to tango in the deserts of Abydos.

Great. She was even *thinking* like him.

But hell – didn’t she secretly love that she did?

And that was even weirder: the fact that she could admit it, and not having to worry about it being *wrong*. It was definitely going to take some getting used to.

Spying the fridge-freezer, she relaxed. Yes, the fridge. Nice, cool, beer-containing pulse-reducing fridge. Opening the lower door she perused the contents, and soon spied a beer. She reached out a hand to grab it when suddenly, as if she’d had a hyperspace engine grafted onto each butt cheek, Janet appeared next to the fridge.

Unmoving, Sam stared at her. "Hey Janet,"

Those huge, luminous dark eyes peered at her from over the top of the fridge door, seeming almost as if they weren’t connected to anything. Just a pair of floating eyes, silently looming. "So?"

Did she know? "So what?"

The eyes narrowed. "Sam, you *can’t* do this to me. When you two were working together I didn’t bring up the subject unless you wanted to discuss it. Now that’s changed, you’re not keeping a single thing from me. It’s been a long time for either of us, and I intend to live vicariously through you."

"Oh yeah?" Sam teased, half-closing the door and leaning her right arm against it. "And what about ‘Simon’?"

As expected, the eyes smiled. "He wasn’t a relationship. He was a night."

"A very *good* night as I recall,"

"That’s a fair assessment," The grin was huge by now, and decidedly self-satisfied.

"‘A fair assessment’?" Sam mocked. "Janet, you had a permanent grin on your mouth for two whole months." Frankly, as pleased as she’d been for her friend, she had been decidedly jealous. It’d been almost seven years since she’d had anything even resembling a ‘Simon’.

And she knew the reason, of course. Though the opportunity had been there, it’d always seemed...wrong. Even though the idea of being with *him* was intrinsically wrong, actually *being* with someone who wasn’t him had seemed...


She really must have it bad if the idea of a no-strings night wasn’t appealing.

Well, okay – that wasn’t quite true. Certainly the idea of sex just for the sake of sex held definite appeal, but still...

Janet was speaking. "Sam, that’s not the point. We’re not talking about me; we’re talking about you. Now spill." This wasn’t Janet anymore. This was Janet Fraiser MD, and she was as relentless here as she was in her work. She wouldn’t stop until she’d found an answer.

Giving up, Sam closed the door completely and leant against the fridge, holding her beer in both hands. Looking away from her friend and towards the floor, she shrugged. "I asked him out."

The smile returned. "Did he say yes?"

"He didn’t say no. I guess we’ll know for sure if he actually turns up."

"Do you honestly think that he won’t?"

Her beer was fascinating. "I honestly don’t know."

"Well I do," Janet replied, touching her arm and forcing Sam to meet her gaze. "There is nothing short of the Goa’uld wiping out Earth that would stop him turning up to have dinner with you."

Shaking her head, Sam looked away and grinned. "You know what you just did, don’t you?"

"What?" Then, as if getting her point, Janet continued. "Oh now, don’t you start with me. There is no way I’ve jinxed your date just by saying that. You guys may have had some bad luck, but not that bad."

"I don’t know," Sam replied, half trying to talk herself out of it. "In all those alternate realities we encountered, one or both of us always ended up dead. Maybe fate was trying to tell us something."

"Maybe you’re right," Janet agreed, surprising her. "Maybe fate was trying to tell you that, no matter what the universe, the two of you would risk everything *together*. Now how romantic is that, huh?"

It wasn’t often anyone got to see it, but Janet was one hell of a romantic. "Maybe..."

"It’s time to stop running, Sam."

She started pacing, searching for the bottle opener. "Hey, I asked *him* out – that hardly counts as running."

"Yes, you asked him," the doctor agreed, watching drawers and cupboards fly open as the quest continued. "*You* were in control of everything. At this dinner...you won’t be. And that’s a hell of a lot more scary."

Finally finding the damn opener, Sam hissed open her bottle but didn’t drink from it. Instead she sighed, and leant against the counter.

"Look at you," Janet murmured. "I thought you’d be happy."

"Oh I am," Sam found herself responding instantly, eliciting a smile from her companion. "It’s just...odd. Even though I know it’s all right now, that nothing’s...‘in the way’ as it were...it’s still hard to deal with. And talk about. Even to my best friend."

"I understand," Janet sighed dramatically, "But that doesn’t mean I don’t want updates as frequently and detailed as possible, okay?"

Smiling, Sam finally lifted the bottle up to her lips. "Do you want sound effects too? Because I really could have done without your description of how Simon-"

"Hey, was it my fault he was *that* good?"


A couple of months ago he'd been flicking through some women's magazine - just out of curiosity, obviously, while he was stuck in a shopping queue - when he'd come across an article about first dates.

No doubt written by a woman whose name he didn't care to remember, she'd stated quite categorically that men just didn't understand how nerve-wracking the experience could be for women.

Jack knew without a doubt that it was a complete load of bull.

It was the waiting.

He'd chosen his outfit; something he hoped looked relaxed and casual, and wasn't going to change out of it. He'd made his decision and was sticking with it.

Unfortunately he'd made that decision three hours early.

He'd killed five minutes by unloading then re-loading the dishwasher - the ultimate in pointlessness because he didn't have any dirty dishes - then killed another five minutes by readjusting the pieces on the chessboard. It was halfway through a long-term game he'd been playing with Daniel.

Huh. *Seriously* long term.

Sighing, he flopped back on the sofa. There was no way he could have misinterpreted her 'invitation', right? No, none at all. He wasn't that dumb. He was just...paranoid. Part of him couldn't help wondering if she were really Carter at all, or just some alien facsimile. When he saw her, he'd have to make sure she wasn't wearing a round blinky thing...

Oh yeah, *that* would go down well.

"Hey Carter, how ya doing? Mind if I take a quick peek at your chest?"

Hmm. Depending on how the date went, maybe that *would* go down well.

Growling at himself, he stood up. There was no point in hanging around at his house for the next two hours and forty-eight minutes. He'd go to the restaurant now, memorise the menu, and try to look like he may have been on something resembling a first date in the last eighteen years.


The restaurant was nice, and not too intimate. He'd been there a couple of times with the gang, but never with just one other person - and especially not her.

His original intent was just to order a drink and then hide at the side of the room, lurking in the shadows until she arrived. Naturally, she was already there. And just as naturally, she hadn't seen him.

Ignoring the waiter or whomever the hell it was who walked up to him, he made his way through the group of tables until he was standing next to her.

She had her head stuck in the wine list, and hadn't looked up - though she had to be aware that someone was there. "I'll have a glass of..." She finally turned her head, acknowledging the fact that the person she was talking to may have had a face. The sudden change of expression - widening eyes, opening mouth and a faint hint of panic - was something he feared he was too familiar with. "...oh."

Quick. Something funny. Quippy. Off the cuff. "I'm sorry madam, we don't have any 'oh'. Would you like some 'p' instead?"

It stunk. He knew it did. She didn't even smile. Instead, she greeted him.


Oh yeah. *This* was comfortable. "Hi," Without invitation, he promptly sat down.

"You're early."

"So are you."

Closing the wine list, she lowered it down to the table. "I'm just waiting for my first date of the day to arrive, do you mind?"

He frowned.

She spoke. "Joke. You know...ha."

"Right," Jack nodded. "Very funny." He was going to have to speak in more than three words soon. "So, uh...as we’re both here and your first date is obviously running late...shall we get started?"

The only good news, as far as he was concerned, was that she looked just as nervous as he felt. "Sure. Why not?"

For the first time in he didn’t know how long, he didn’t automatically have to think up reasons and excuses that would keep them away from each other. His brain was already halfway there, ready to quote chapter and verse – or article and bullet-point at least – regulations he’d spent far too many hours memorising in an attempt to decipher just what ‘stepping over the line’ would be.

But he didn’t have to do that anymore. He could just be...himself. Which was scary as hell. It shouldn’t have been really. Thanks to that damn machine they both know how they felt about each other. Yet...that had been a few years ago. And ever since then, they’d been making a concerted effort to not let those particular feelings show if they could possibly help it.

The truth was, he didn’t know where she stood anymore. Obviously she liked him because she was there, but...

When in the hell did he start thinking so damn much?

The waiter finally appeared to take their order. Carter opted for lasagne, and while he’d been tempted by the prospect of Spaghetti Bolognese, his mind was soon full of just how messy it could be to eat, and just how much he did *not* want to make a fool of himself, that night of all nights.

So he went for a cannelloni.

Carter eventually selected a wine, although not without some argument ("You pick." "No you pick." "No you pick." "No you pi-" "Carter, will you just order the damn wine?"), and their waiter, Frank – obviously a real Italian boy – brought it back for them to try.

Pretending to know anything about wine at all other than the fact that, generally, they liked it, they tasted and swirled and umm and ahhed, before eventually deciding that they liked it. It wasn’t as if they were even going to drink a lot – they were both driving.

But it helped to break the ice.

For all of five minutes.

Jack couldn’t help but notice that things had a way of frosting back over where they were concerned.

The conversation became painfully stilted at times, virtually grounding to a halt, which frustrated him no end. This was a woman he’d talked about all kinds of amazing things with, heck; who he’d actually *died* with, and now he was finding it difficult to ask how her day had been.

It didn’t help that she had one hand tied behind her back. Because he was effectively retired, she wasn’t supposed to discuss any new developments at the SGC with him – he just didn’t have the clearance anymore.

But at the very least they’d been friends and co-workers. They *would* find something to talk about.

He brought up every subject he could think about, everything he knew about her. How was her Dad? (Great). Mark? (Great.) Her plants? (Fine.) Did she still talk to them? (No comment). Was Cassie’s boyfriend getting too fresh? (Without a doubt).

He managed to stop just short of asking about her mole.

The problem was, most of what he knew about her revolved around her work. That was something that was going to have to change. She may have spent more time there than she did at home, but it wasn’t the be-all and end-all of Sam Carter.

He just needed to get to know her better. Not as the Major, but as Carter.

She came back with a few questions of her own. What was he going to do with his spare time? (Form a rock band). Was he planning on moving away? (Not a chance in hell...uh, no.) Not even to his cabin? (Nope). Was he finally going to get that dog he’d always wanted? (Is that a trick question?).

The food was nice, but he knew that.

The company was better, but still awkward as hell.

The fight over who was going to pay took on mammoth proportions. He argued that though he may have been retired, he still outranked her. She reasoned that because he *was* retired, he didn’t actually outrank her. It eventually got to the point where they were comparing who had saved whose butt more often – but as quietly as possible, not wanting anyone else to hear their ‘top secret’ conversation.

As it turned out they came out about equal, mostly because while her brilliant brain had often thought up the mad plan needed to save their lives/the Earth/the Universe, it was frequently him who carried out some part of said plan.

"Carter," He pointed out eventually, "This isn’t some ‘the guy *has* to pay for the girl’ thing. I just wanna pay."

"And *I* just wanna pay," She rebutted, softening her reply with a smile. "Look, sir..."

There. She’d done it again. The fifth time since he’d sat down. He’d playfully teased her about it, although he couldn’t really say much because he’d yet to use her first name, either.

Realising what she’d done she closed her eyes, sighed, then purposefully opened them again. "Sir," She repeated, soon continuing hesitantly. "Jack."


The urge to argue dissipated.


And yep – that was an honest to God, stupid, cheesy, *huge* grin on his face. Carter had just said his name. To any other couple (wait, couple?)...any other two people it would have been the littlest, most insignificant thing. But for them?



And that was his voice, saying her name. Just her name. No Major Samantha Carter, no Major Carter, no Carter, just...


It sounded good, so he said it again.

There was her smile. Her brilliant, breathtaking smile that had to be a mirror of his, only ten times more powerful. "Jack..." Resting an elbow on the table, and her chin on the palm of her hand, she leant towards him...

Only to snatch the check out of his hand.

"I’m paying."


By the time they’d left the restaurant, walked across the parking lot and hovered beside their cars – parked next to each other, naturally (how the hell had he failed to notice that when he arrived?) – the frost was starting to build again.

"So..." He was standing by the end of his truck; she was standing by the end of her car. They were a good five feet apart.

"So..." She replied. "This was nice. If a little..."



Thank God it wasn’t just him. "Uh..." He was doing that stupid thing where instead of looking at her, he was fascinated with his shoes. "You wanna do this again?"


His head jerked up, a grin forming as he watched hers develop. "You do?"

"I do."

His stomach felt like someone was playing the drums inside it. "So I’ll...give you a call?"

Carter...Sam nodded. "I’d like that."

"Good. Good. That’s great." His hands were working their way into his jean pockets. Realising, he tugged them out. "Uh..." What now? Were they supposed to kiss? He should tell her that he was crap at this. That he hadn’t done *this* for a very long time.

But that was the truth, and he wasn’t quite ready for that yet. Not so soon.

So he chickened out. Brushing a quick kiss against her right cheek, he immediately pulled away, and dived for his truck. Soon enough he had the door open, climbed inside, and was driving away.

He kept looking at her in the rear view mirror as he went. By the time he reached the exit, she still hadn’t moved. "Dammit!" He screeched his truck to a halt. This wasn’t right. He didn’t know precisely what *was* right, but he knew it wasn’t this.

Backing up a little, he drove back around to where she was still parked. Stopping about ten feet away, he opened the door and stepped out of his truck, leaving the engine running.

This was either gonna be really, really bad, or really, really good.

But he had to know.

She still hadn’t moved.

And as he walked towards her, he found himself talking. "Look, I’m crap at this. Like, *seriously* crap. It’s been a hell of a long time since I’ve dated anyone let alone you. Because you’re *you*, you know, and you seriously have the capacity to screw me up even more than I already am-"

He was honestly planning on stopping before he actually collided with her, but somewhere between ‘am’ and his next word – whatever that was going to be – she kissed him.

It wasn’t much. Just a peck on the lips. But it stopped him cold.

Not talking was a very good idea.

He edged forward, hesitating when their noses bumped, half-chuckling, then stopping when their lips melded together.

A hand came up to touch the right side of her face, as the slow, careful, and extremely enjoyable kiss continued.

Needing to breathe he pulled away, the fingers of his hand splaying against her neck and face, his forehead resting against hers. "That was..." He exhaled heavily, searching for breath.

Her right hand had weaved underneath his arm, wrapping around his body. Pulling him towards her, she spoke into his ear. "Something I definitely wanna do again."

And damn if the hairs on the back of his neck didn’t stand on end.


"So tell me again about the part where he kissed you."

Sam sighed and shook her head fondly. Teenagers. "Cassie..."

"Oh come on come on come on," She argued, practically jumping up and down on the sofa cushion she was sitting on, an activity that should have long been given up by someone over the age of sixteen. "You guys have been like my family since I came here. You guys *are* my family. How great is it that you two should get together?"

"Uh uh," Sam held up a hand, lounging on the chair she was sprawled across. "We’ve been on one date, Cassie. That does not constitute getting together. And as for the other thing...I’ve already told you twice!" Searching for assistance from her mother, Sam’s gaze moved across the sofa to where Janet was sitting next to Cassie, sipping from a glass of wine.

Her friend shrugged. "Sorry Sam, I’m with Cassie on this one." She didn’t seem in the least bit sorry. "I want every detail." She snuggled back against the sofa, making herself comfortable. "Repeatedly."

Resigning herself to the fact that the girl’s night in was turning into the Spanish Inquisition, Sam sighed dramatically. In any case, she was secretly enjoying the hell out of this: not just the fact that she was talking ‘guy stuff’, but that she actually had something worth talking about.

And with him, no less.

Stretching out on the chair, she reached for her drink. It was resting on Janet’s coffee table, just an inch or two away from her fingers. "Cass...if I tell you again, will you get my drink for me?" She was far too comfortable to move.

"You bet," She agreed, patting her hands impatiently against her thighs. "Let’s go!"

It was almost like talking to a young, female Jack O’Neill. Almost. He did have a tendency to rub off on the people around him.

Pretending that talking about kissing him was *really* hard work, Sam rolled her eyes. She saw no need to go over how he’d initially freaked out again, so she got straight to the good stuff – and frankly, she suspected there would have been a riot if she hadn’t. "For the record, he didn’t kiss me. We kissed each other."


Finally deciding to stop tormenting the poor girl...woman? It wouldn’t be long before she’d be forced to think of Cassie as a woman, and that was too scary to contemplate.

Deciding to stop tormenting her, Sam grinned. "Well we moved closer together, kind of bumping our noses – I swear, he must have been as nervous as I was – but then we got it right and..."

"You were kissing!"

"Are you telling this story, or am I?" Even as she asked the question, Sam knew it was hopeless. There was no chance she was going to be able to finish her description.

Cassie was already away. Raising her hands, she moved them about as she spoke - obviously, a future career in amateur dramatics was calling. "As your mouths moved against each other, his hand came up to caress your face, and your neck, breath intermingling-"


Annoyed at having her 'moment' interrupted, Cassie glared at her mom. "What?"

"Have you been reading those romance novels again?"

Flushing - though whether through anger or embarrassment it was hard to tell - Cassie lowered her hands. "Of course not. Those things aren't in the least bit realistic."

Smiling, Sam spoke. "In that case, quit acting like you've regressed ten years."

"Hey," She defended. "This is *supposed* to be a girls night in. Is it my fault I'm the only one treating it as such?" Letting the thought linger, she stood up. "I'm getting a soda. Anyone else want anything?"

"My glass," Sam complained.

Shaking her head, but unable to hide a smile, Cassie passed the drink to her friend before leaving the room in search of her own.

When she was gone, Janet groaned, pressing her free hand against her forehead. "I'm not even asking how she knows they're not realistic."

Further tormenting appeared to be in order. "She *has* had the same boyfriend now for...what? Three years? You think all they do is kiss?"

From the expression on her face, Janet had spent many an hour already contemplating that fact. "Sam, I swear to God-"

The phone rang.

They looked at each other.

They looked at the phone. Neither one of them could be bothered to move.

Thankfully Cassie could, stampeding into the room in a desperate bid to get there first, not knowing she was the only one even trying. "I'll get it!"

Sam glanced towards Janet. "How is it she can still act like she's fourteen?"

Janet shrugged.

Angling her head towards the direction of the phone, Sam studied what was essentially her niece. Though she couldn't see her face, from the happy tone in her voice and the fact that her shoulders didn't droop, Sam deduced it must have been Dominic.

"Hi! It's so good to hear from you! Did you have a good day? Why yes she *is* here - why am I not surprised you asked? Oh come on, I can practically hear you blushing."

Having been frowning since the words 'she is here', Sam began to move, digging her body out of the big, comfy chair, and swivelling round until she was sitting the way you were supposed to sit on a chair.

With her back still towards her, Cassie kept talking. "Don't deny it. Besides, I think it's cute - you're such a *guy* sometimes." Suddenly pulling the phone away from her ear, she winced.

The distinctive - and familiar - yell of "I am *not* cute!" could be heard coming out of the earpiece.

With her fears suddenly confirmed, Sam leapt out of the chair, plonked her glass back on the table, and yanked the phone out of Cassie's grasp. Glaring at her, she brought the phone up to her ear. "Hey." Great. She'd moved so quickly to get to the phone that she was practically panting.

"Hi." Yup. Without a doubt, it was him. He was calling her...at Janet's house? As if reading her mind, he continued. "I, uh, tried calling your place but there was no answer. Figured you might be at Fraiser's and..."

"I am," She nodded pointlessly, making the fatal mistake of turning around and seeing that Cassie had moved; she and Janet were both on the sofa again, only this time they were sitting right on the edge. Grinning. She turned away. "Girl's night in, you know."

"Sorry; if I'm interrupting I can call anoth-"

"No! No," Why was she finding it so hard to breathe normally? Were her palms actually sweating? This was ridiculous. Anyone would think that a guy had never called her before. "It's fine."

"So...girl's night in, huh?"

There was something almost...oh God, this was *bad*...almost sexy about just hearing his voice. She'd never noticed that before. Or at least, she'd tried to never notice that before. But there wasn't usually much time for 'sexy' when he was barking orders into a radio. "Yeah. Fun. You know." He probably had this image of them painting their nails and watching mushy movies.

"You been talking about me?"

That was it; she flushed bright red. Which was even more ridiculous. "Maybe..." God, was she actually saying this to *him*? Her phone free hand subconsciously started touching her hair.

"What kind of things have you *maybe* been saying?" He was definitely amused.

She was definitely grinning, even if her stomach felt like it was on a roller coaster. Or going through the Stargate. "Oh...you know...how you..."

Forgetting herself, she again made the mistake of turning around.

Cassie was making kissy faces at her mom. "Jack!"

"Sam!" Janet declared dramatically, throwing her arms around her.

Okay, she deserved that. She *had* made fun of both of them earlier. It was just distracting.

So she put her back to them, and continued talking as if she couldn't hear the giggling. Or she'd intended to continue talking, until he beat her to it.

"What the hell is going on over there?"

Sighing, Sam relented. "Janet and Cassie seem to be re-creating our greatest moments."

"Oh yeah? Where are they up to?"

She paused, a grin beginning. In truth, it hadn't really gone away at all. It was simply getting bigger. "You sure you wanna know?" If the phone hadn't been cordless, she suspected her finger would have been wrapping around it. Talking of people acting like they're fourteen...

"Actually I probably don't...but the curiosity is gonna kill me."

"I thought I was the curious one," He'd made that comment more than one.

"What can I say? Obviously you've been influencing me without even realising it."

A gentle thump against her back prevented Sam from responding. Turning and looking down to the floor, she identified the missile as a sock. Glancing at Cassie's bare right foot, it was obvious where it had come from.

She had a feeling another performance was forthcoming. "Hang on," She murmured into the phone, before holding it out towards her friends.

Cassie began, placing the back of her right hand against her forehead, while the other clutched melodramatically at her chest. "Sam! I have loved you from afar for so long!" The hand over her chest formed a fist, and pounded against her thigh. "*Damn* those terrible regulations that kept as apart, but, at least they kept the sexual tension up."

Even Janet looked stunned by that one - which was pretty much how Sam felt. Gingerly bringing the phone back to her ear, she spoke again. "You there?"

The blinking was almost audible. "That was interesting."

At least he hadn't run away screaming. "Yeah." The nice, flirty feeling had completely evaporated, however. Dammit. Cassie was toast. "Not that it wasn't a good enough excuse, but was there any reason you called other than to talk to me..." Okay, she had to take a step here. "...Jack?"

Cassie squealed.

Janet sighed.

He spoke.


A new Ice Age had settled in.

Sam was putting the blame firmly on Cassie's shoulders. Ever since that *stupid*, completely unrealistic 're-enactment', they'd frozen up. As they'd arranged over the phone, he'd picked her up at her place the next evening and driven them to the restaurant of his choice.

And there'd been almost zero conversation, even less than the first date. She hadn't thought that would've been possible, but it'd happened.

Two looooong, awkward hours after they first arrived at the restaurant, he pulled up outside her house.

Whether it was just because he hadn't dated in a while or just because he was old-fashioned - she wasn't sure - he did, at least, walk her to her door.

Eventually, there they were. Standing on her porch. In the dark.

With both hands slung into the pockets of his pants (with a matching black shirt that, she had to admit, looked *damn* good on him), he rocked on the balls of his feet. "Well..."

"Well..." Why had they gotten in the habit of repeating what the other one was saying? "This was..." She hoped to God he wasn't going to say 'nice'. It'd been freaky as hell.

"This was..." He thought about it, pondered over it, and eventually shrugged as if coming to a decision. "...a lot easier over the phone."

Oh so relieved, not to mention surprised, she smiled and shook her head. "Cassie's at the top of my 'to punish' list."

He cocked his head to one side, his features almost completely masked in the darkness. "You have a punishment list?"

Her mind was doing all *kinds* of things with that question. "Have done for years."

"Am I on it?"

She shivered. Must have been getting chilly. "I-"

He took a step towards her.

Instinctively, she backed up. "You-"

Another step.


Another step.

"Oh-" Her back bumped against the house, trapping her between it...and him.

Him, doing his Alpha Male routine.

And she really didn't care.

"Do you mind," He murmured, close enough now that she could see his eyes and the way his gaze dropped to her mouth. "If I kiss you?"

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh-kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. She pretended to think about it. "Well I *guess* that would be o-"

His mouth was on hers. His hands were either side of her waist. Letting her eyes flutter shut, she released the keys she'd taken out of her pocket, and they thunked to the floor as her arms wrapped around his neck.

Resting her head against the house she was definitely enjoying herself, and the long, languid kiss that was much like the kiss on their first date...

And then one of them tilted their mouth; deeper, wider, harder...and it wasn’t like the kiss on their first date anymore.

Moaning against his mouth she regretfully broke for air before she was back again, her right arm and hand wrapping completely around his neck, rubbing the side of his face.

Muttering, groaning, he pushed against her, hard.

She didn’t complain, gasping, her legs instinctively setting themselves wider apart as his lips moved from hers and found their way to her neck.

This was fast – but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. This was really, really...

He was the one who pulled away, cursing, chest heaving for breath. Although ‘pulling away’ wasn’t very accurate. His face was still barely an inch from hers, his breath passing across her skin.

She licked her lips, having missed that soft ‘I’ve just been thoroughly kissed’ feel. How long had it been since she’d simply made out with someone?

"God, don’t do that," He complained roughly, one hand planted against the house to take his weight.

"Sorry." Not that she was, finding it increasingly hard...difficult, to hide her pleasure at his reaction. And to catch her own breath.

"I really should go," He still hadn’t moved, his gaze flitting repeatedly between her mouth and her eyes.

"Probably a smart idea," Sam acknowledged. Though her brain felt as if it should be dribbling out of her ear, she did have some common sense remaining. Though it was lessening with every second he was there.

From the expression on his face, he badly wanted to say something. "I...I’m gonna go now."


He still wasn’t moving.

"Go." She ordered. "Now." If he didn’t...

He did, pulling away, stumbling down the steps of her porch and into her front yard, turning back to face her when he thought of something. "Call me!"

She laughed.


Jack was starting to notice a pattern in their behaviour.

They'd go on a date, say barely ten words to each other, then somewhere near the end of the evening they'd make out in a way he hadn't done since he'd first dated Sara. It didn't seem to matter much where they were: a parking lot, her porch, her car, his front yard, his truck...

Like right now, for instance. Outside her house. In his truck.

Dying when she 'accidentally' brushed a hand against his groin, all but devouring her mouth, his right hand resting underneath her top, pressing against the warm skin, just short of her breasts.

There wasn't much room to manoeuvre (and he wasn't as young as he used to be - damn knees), but she was moving more than enough for the both of them.

Gently pushing her back in her seat, the hand underneath her top began to lift it up until it bunched together below her neck. Breaking the kiss he took it all in; the pale green bra, her rapidly moving chest, her gaze sneaking out at him from beneath half-closed eyelids...

Moaning, he tugged the bra out of the way and his mouth found its way to her left breast.

She gasped, one hand flying out to press against the passenger window, the other latching onto his thigh, her nails digging into the denim. "Oh God...*sir*..."

They froze.

Then sighed.

Carefully pulling her bra back into place - and acknowledging that his hands were shaking, just a bit - he pressed a kiss against the side of her face. "You gotta stop doing that." That was the third time since the first date. It was something of a mood killer.

"Old habits," She explained, regarding him ruefully, struggling for breath as the hand on his thigh stroked up and down.

Jack nearly growled. Down boy...his hand moved, grabbing hers and holding it still.

She grinned.

He really needed to get those breasts out of visual range, and with his free hand pulled her top down.

"I need to tell you something," She announced suddenly, surprising him.

"What?" It seemed serious. She certainly *looked* serious...and sexy as hell. Her hair mussed all over the place - much like his felt at the moment, from the treatment her hands had been giving it - her lips swollen and perfect...God, he was horny.

Wasn't this kind of thing supposed to stop at his age?

Her thighless hand was absently rubbing the top of his right arm. "General Hammond's having a get together...a barbecue, on Sunday."

Wow. He could just imagine ol' George, standing next to a barbecue with a pair of cooking tongs.

Actually, he couldn't. "I'm invited?"

"Actually," She paused, her gaze skittering away from him. "*We* are. I got the distinct impression from the way he asked that we're invited...as a couple."

The thumb that had been rubbing the hand resting on his leg stilled. He spoke quietly, a bubbling excitement filling his body. "Is that what we are now?" In one way, it shouldn't have seemed right. They certainly hadn't publicly aired their relationship yet; all of their dates had happened under the cover of darkness. They hadn't even really been dating that long - just a couple of weeks.

And yet...

She avoided the question, lowering her head and shrugging. "I don't even know how he knows we're seeing each other. It's not like I've been reporting back on a regular basis or anything..."

"He's not stupid," Jack interrupted. "He knows why I retired."

Carter's...Sam's head snapped back up, eyes focused with curiosity. "Why *did* you retire?"

It was the question she hadn't asked yet. He'd figured it was the one question she didn't need an answer to, but maybe he'd been wrong. Still, it was hard to say. "I..." He found his own gaze moving away. "I couldn't do it anymore."

"Fight the Goa'uld?"

For a woman as intelligent as she was, she really could be incredibly dumb sometimes. Unless she was simply torturing him, which was entirely possible for someone who had a frequently updated 'punishment list'.

Blowing the excess air out of his mouth, he set his shoulders back and forced himself to look up. At her. "No."

Realisation dawned, eyes widening dramatically, her mouth forming an almost perfect 'o'. "Oh." As the surprise melted into a smile (actually, more of a shit-eating grin), she spoke again. "Cassie was right about you."

He was relieved that it was out, but also scared as hell that it was out. He was definitely out of the practice of saying that stuff. Or maybe it'd just never been easy. "She was?"

"You are cute."


Everyone was staring at them.

Hammond welcomed them warmly; shaking Jack's hand, apologising for not calling more often, asking if he wanted burgers or hotdogs.

Teal'c smiled. A lot. Then offered his advice on how best to enjoy their first night together. In his own words, he wanted two of his closest friends to have a perfect experience.

Thankfully, Fraiser pulled him away before the ground could actually swallow them whole.

Jonas seemed to be fascinated by every aspect of human relationships. Did they differ in any way from Kelownan relationships? Did they reach a deeper level of intimacy faster, or slower?

Did he want his face smacked in, or not?

It was only her intervention that stopped Jack from asking.

It wasn't a large gathering; maybe fifteen people. What was left of SG-1 (the forth member was still in debate - a familiar feeling), Fraiser, Cassie, and what turned out to be some of the people who lived on Hammond's street.

Unfortunately his kids and grandkids hadn't been able to make it, but they promised to be there for the next one.

Eventually, having eluded the clutches of Hammond's neighbour (a fifty-something woman who, while unhealthily interested in their relationship, also didn't seem to mind the idea of a relationship with the general), they escaped to their own table.

It was green, it was plastic, it was covered in a tablecloth, and it was away from everyone else.

Who kept staring at them.

Still, with their chairs only a few feet away from Hammond's house, at least they knew no one was behind them.

"This is creepy," She said eventually, as he half-heartedly poked at a burger on a plastic plate.

It was the most she'd said to him since they'd arrived. "What is?"

"They keep looking at us."

So it wasn't just him being paranoid. "Yeah. I noticed." Not so much the people who didn't know them of course, but their friends and the people they'd worked with or were still working with...they couldn't drag their eyes away.

It was incredibly disconcerting, and Jack was spending as much time as possible hiding behind his shades. Not that he needed the excuse, but at least it was a sunny day. "Guess we're pretty fascinating."

She snorted. "And you just know they're analysing every little thing we do."

Hmm. That gave him an idea. He tried not to grin, but pretty much failed. "Move closer to the table," He murmured, even as he pulled his own chair forward.


"Just do it."

Complying, she moved until the edge of the table was pressing against her body, but didn't stop frowning. "What are you-" His left hand rested on her right leg, beneath the table. "-doing?!"

Jack waved at Teal'c as he walked by. "Giving them something worth analysing." She was wearing a skirt, which was an extremely rare occurrence. He'd been acutely aware of the fact that she'd been wearing a skirt ever since she'd picked him up, and now he was taking complete advantage of it.

She didn't seem impressed. "If you think I'm going crack that eas-i-ly..."

His hand moved further along her leg, pulling up her skirt. She didn't grab his hand, pull away, or tell him to stop - as he suspected she might. She simply grabbed her glass of soda that was resting on the table with both hands and held on tight.

His fingers glided across her skin, underneath the fabric of her skirt, until they reached their destination.

The hands tightened.

Jack knew they were getting dangerously close to public indecency. Were probably already way past public indecency.

He didn't care.

Jonas appeared out of nowhere, camera in hand. He was still fascinated with that thing. "Hey, you guys mind if I take your picture?"

Perfect. "Not at all!" Jack declared, but not moving, leaving it up to Carter...Sam, dammit, *Sam*, to put an arm around his shoulder. Of course, to do that she had to move their bodies closer, and shift her own to a slightly different angle...he still hadn't moved.

She bit back a noise, pressing her face against his neck.

Damn. This was supposed to be torture for her, not the other way around.

Still, for the first time that Jack could remember, he actually grinned for the camera. She did a pretty good job of acting as if it was business as usual, rolling her face away from his skin to smile, but as soon as Jonas stepped out of range she suddenly crossed her legs, trying to trap his hand.

"Do *not* move," She ground out into his neck, her arm still wrapped around him.

He swallowed, preparing himself for the lie. "Wouldn't dream of it."

He did.

Fingers digging into his shoulder, she spoke heavily. "You...*absolute*...if we don't get some privacy right *now*, I don't care - I'm jumping you right here."

Never, in his entire life, had he envisioned Sam Carter saying those words to him. It was such an un-Carter thing to say that he was momentarily stunned - before he got over it.

Even as her legs uncrossed he was pulling down her skirt, his hands unable to stop touching her hip, her back, her arm as they made their way into the house under any excuse possible - a drink, some ice, the bathroom - knowing how it looked as they went from one room to another, searching for privacy.

Finding no joy on the lower level, she dragged him upstairs. They briefly looked at Hammond’s bedroom, but that was a complete *no*. Finally deciding on the only room with a lock, they propelled themselves into the bathroom.

He didn’t know exactly what she was expecting to happen in there – they weren’t going to have sex. For one thing it wasn’t where he wanted it to happen, and for another thing he didn’t have any protection. Fool that he was, he hadn’t thought he’d need his wallet for anything. And she certainly didn’t have anything on her at the moment.

So he didn’t know exactly what she was expecting, but *he* was planning on finishing what he started downstairs.

Jack was therefore quite unprepared when she pounced, throwing him against the door.

Causing his head to connect solidly with it. "Ow! Head, head!"

"Sorry," She muttered, though it was plainly obvious she wasn’t, one hand tugging at his shirt as the other pulled his head down for a kiss. He stopped complaining.

To hell with gentle – their mouths and tongues crashed together, her body rubbing unashamedly against his. Remembering to move before he lost it completely, he rolled them until she was against the door – though they had to readjust when she complained that the handle was digging into her back.

"No fair," She murmured as his hand began inching her skirt up, quickly finding and slipping under the fabric beneath.

"You can punish me later," He whispered, his hand moving.

"You bet your assssss-oh!" Her head flung back, rocking against the door and he couldn’t take it anymore; his lips met hers again as his fingers shifted, finding what did and didn’t work.

Eventually she had to break away, panting, leaning her head back, closing her eyes as it started to happen, hands suddenly grabbing onto his shoulders for support as she spiralled away, crying out loudly.

He didn’t even try to keep it quiet.

He simply watched.

After, he talked her down, muttering nonsical words and phrases, still amazed that *he* had done *that* to *her*. "You okay?" His voice was more than a little rough. If the ache in this groin got any worse, he’d be a cripple by the end of the day.

Licking her lips (deliberately?), she kept her eyes closed. "No..."

"No?" Damn.

They fluttered open, but just barely. "I just came in General Hammond’s bathroom. How the hell am I ever going to face him again?"

Chuckling, he kissed her briefly. "With a big ass smile, I hope."


General Hammond, at least, hadn't called her into his office. Hadn't lectured her on appropriate behaviour at a superior officer's house - in a superior officer's bathroom.

In fact, he was utterly silent on the matter, as was everyone else who had been there. Teal'c, Jonas...neither of them said a thing. Didn't even give her any funny looks.

It was beginning to look like they'd got away with it until the morning, several days later, when Janet strode into her lab.

"So the bathroom, huh?"

Pausing her investigation into the piece of alien technology SG-1 had brought back from P5W 439, Sam feigned a lack of surprise. "Took you long enough to ask."

"Been busy," She explained with a shrug, dragging the spare chair to the other side of the desk. "SG-4 came back with multiple cuts from some kind of plant indigenous to the planet they visited. A few of the wounds became infected; thankfully it's not serious anymore."

That made sense. There was no way Janet would have come to see her if any of her patients were still at risk.

But now Janet *had* come to see her, shifting the chair into place and throwing herself down onto it. "So! Details?"

"I swear Janet, you're becoming more and more like Cassie every day."

The doctor was in the house - she folded her arms across her chest, and lifted an eyebrow. "Stop changing the subject. *De*-tails."

Not so secretly thrilled, Sam shrugged and attempted to keep a straight face. "We didn't have sex."

"And why not?"

"We were in a bathroom, Janet - what do you think?"

"All right," Unfolding her arms, she raised her hands. "I'll concede that it's not the most romantic place - especially *General* *Hammond's* bathroom," She paused as Sam flushed. "But I'm getting antsy here, Sam. I want some action!"

She wasn't the only one. Focusing back on the device, she grinned to herself. "I think it'll happen soon."

"You do?"

"Yeah." She had a plan. In about another week...

"I haven't told you how happy I am for you guys, have I?"

Lifting her head she saw Janet's grin was mirroring her own. Although it wasn't *quite* as self-satisfied... "I don't recall you saying that, no."

"Well I am," She insisted. "Happy. Thrilled. Ecstatic."

If Sam's grin got any bigger, her face was likely to snap in half. Feeling strangely embarrassed, she looked away again. "Thanks,"

Obviously recognising that, Janet changed the subject. "When are you seeing him again?"

*This* she could talk about. "Tonight. He's coming over to watch a movie."

"Uh huh," Janet murmured.


"Sam, you are not going to watch a movie. You'll put the tape in the VCR, and will end up spending most of the evening necking on the sofa."

It was true, of course. Sam knew it was utterly true. But where was the fun in admitting that? "I don't know *where* you get that impression-"

Janet interrupted. "Not only was I doing everything possible to keep everyone away from your little falsetto in the General's bathroom, but I've also been watching you two for the last seven years."

Relieved - yet still embarrassed - that maybe Janet *was* the only one who'd heard, Sam tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear. "That obvious, huh?"

Rolling her eyes, Janet sighed. "I don't think that dignifies a response, and as punishment, I want to hear exactly what it was that *caused* your little falsetto in the General's bathroom."

Hell, why not? It was her first kind of sexual activity in too many years to contemplate. "Let's just say...he's very good with his hands."


Janet had been right.

Only it was considerably more than necking.

They were sprawled across the sofa. He was on his back; she was lying on top of him, their legs tangled together. Her top and bra had vanished just a few seconds ago; *his* shirt had disappeared about five minutes before that.

A movie that neither of them were watching - and, at this point, had no idea what the name was - played in the background, and somewhere on the floor a bowl of popcorn had been knocked over.

The evening had started the same as the others. Scant words, fast groping.

And now here she was, enjoying the sensations as her breasts rubbed across his naked chest - especially when accompanied by his murmured curse words.

He pulled away from the kiss, briefly. "You are..." Back, mouths melding. "...gonna..." Gasping, a hand grabbing her butt, pulling her closer to him. "...drive me nuts."

"Thought I already did," She hissed, moving against his groin.

"A *good* nu-UTS!," He specified, the hand that had just been pushing her closer now trying to hold her still.

She wasn't having it, grinning. "Speaking of nuts..." The hand that had been trapped between his body and the back of the sofa wriggled free, rubbing across his stomach and quickly finding the top of his jeans. Slowly undoing them, she heard him hiss as the zipper rasped down.

Looking back at him, she watched his face as her hand delved under his boxers, soon finding what it was searching for. It wasn't difficult - it *wanted* to be found.

He jerked. Towards her hand, away from her hand, as it moved slowly. "Jeeees-us...you gotta..." The hand on her butt clenched into a fist. "...stop."

"I don't think so," She argued but released him, perhaps giving a brief sense of false hope before she shimmied down his body, evading his grasp, tugging the edge of his jeans and boxers down just enough.

And then she tasted him.

It didn't take much - he was so far gone that almost anything would set him off - and soon he grunted, his hips jerked, and he fell back onto the sofa, swearing.

Pleased as hell with herself, she crawled back up his body and rested her head against his rapidly moving chest.

A hand rubbed her back. "Sorry. That was embarrassing."

"Hush," She warned, her own hand coming up to lie next to her head. "For right now, it was perfect." As she stayed there, listening to him breathe, she began to ponder. As much as she was enjoying their 'encounters' (and truthfully, she didn't realise *quite* how much she missed it until she was getting some), they'd still get to a certain point before stopping.

Yes, that point was getting further and further along, but they still hadn't actually had sex.

And it was frustrating the hell out of her.

She knew it was partially her own fault. She stopped them from going further as often as he did. It was just that there was still some part of her, *somewhere*, that thought of him as her commanding officer.

And though she'd already done all kinds of things with him that she was never supposed to do with a commanding officer, actual sex just seemed like the line she couldn't cross.

Sam suspected much the same thoughts had occurred to him.

And she knew what to do about it.

"What are you doing in a weeks time?" Her fingers rubbed absently across his chest.

Half-shrugging, he spoke. "Dunno. The joys of retirement. Why?"

"Well," She could feel her body tensing as she broached the subject, deliberately staring at his chest and not at his face. "I thought you might like to have sex."

The chest stopped moving.


The chest started moving again. "What's so special about a weeks time?"

At least he hadn't said no. But he hadn't said yes, either. "I don't have a mission that day so there's no chance of me being too tired, and my period will have stopped by then." She was one of the 'lucky' ones; her period only lasted three days. And though it hadn't started yet, she knew it would be coming soon. "As 'interesting' as that can be, I want our first time to be, you know." Her face couldn't possibly get any redder.

"Yeah," His arm tightened around her. "I know."


He kept talking. "Maybe we should take Teal'c up on that offer of advice."

Smiling, but too nervous to actually laugh, she moved her head until she could see his face. "Is that a yes?"

Both of his hands moved, touching either side of her face and bringing it up towards his. "Do you really think I'd say no?"

Argh! The man was so frustrating! "Then *say* i-"


It was stupid, it really was. He wasn't her first, not by a long shot, but it was *him* and something she'd wondered about for a long time now. Kissing him, she deliberately tugged at his lower lip before regretfully pushing away. "I need a drink. You want anything?"

"Stupid question."

Sam rolled her eyes. "I mean something to eat or drink."

"Another stupid question." The arm had shifted down to wrap around her again.

She studied it with her eyebrows raised, then looked back at him. "What's this?"

He was dragging her further up the sofa. "You may have completely wiped out my body," Her found the zipper of her pants. "But my mouth's still good."

Maybe she didn't need a drink *just* yet.


The next week was simultaneously the longest and shortest week of Jack’s life. Time would crawl in tiny increments, so small that he swore he could actually feel every single second as it passed.

Yet suddenly, it was the morning of the seventh day.

And he was seriously starting to think this was a bad idea.

He’s wasn’t sure why, but it just didn’t feel right. Sure, when they were kissing or touching or groaning, nothing had *ever* felt that right, but now they’d made the mistake of agreeing not to see each other for the seven days.

And when he wasn’t around her, the doubts started to surface.

Which wasn’t him. He didn’t hesitate. He made a decision, and stuck with it. Though he pondered – and in the case of a command decision, occasionally listened to someone else’s opinion – nothing seriously made him doubt himself.

Until her.

Until them.

Agreeing not to see each other hadn’t stopped either one of them from reaching for the phone; sometimes more than once a day. Jack was willing to admit he’d derived a great deal of pleasure from the fact that he could talk dirty and know exactly where she was in her lab – especially that one time Fraiser had walked in.

He knew phone sex wasn’t an acceptable use of base facilities, but it *had* been her own fault for not bothering to lock the door.

Frankly, he figured they got off lucky (heh). And it’d been worth it, just to hear her horrified shriek, followed by Fraiser’s strangely calm voice, after she’d picked up the handset Carter’d just dropped: "I hope to God this is Colonel O’Neill."

That was one story she wouldn’t be passing on to Cassie.

He changed his bed, putting on fresh sheets. She’d decided they’d be at his house for the night they...

Man, he couldn’t even *think* the term. What the hell was going on?

He unfilled and refilled his dishwasher again.

He went out, did some shopping (would they even need food?), came home, stocked up his shelves and the fridge freezer, and drank eight cups of coffee.

Flicking through the TV channels, he discovered – to his horror – that even The Simpsons couldn’t hold his interest. Knowing that he’d be kicking himself when he got over this (whatever ‘this’ was), and despite the fact he’d already seen that particular episode more than ten times, he set the VCR.

The anticipation was killing him.

The waiting was killing him.

The thought of sex – with her – was killing him.

And he dimly started to realise that something was wrong, but he didn’t know what it was.

The doorbell rang, surprising him, and when he opened the door he was even more surprised to see her standing there. Wow, was that the time already? He’d been sitting on his sofa, thinking, for over four hours. Reminding himself to move, he opened the door further and stepped back.

She was wearing jeans, a red top, and her black leather jacket. Jack was relieved as hell that she wasn’t wearing some deliberately provocative, breast-enhancing getup. She didn’t need that, and it would have only served to make him even more nervous.

Walking inside, she half-turned towards him, leant forward, and planted a soft kiss on his right cheek.

Then kept walking.

Jack closed the door, and followed her into his living room.

Turning to face him, she tried to smile but it wasn’t much more than a grimace.

Frowning, Jack coughed. Those eight cups of coffee were catching up with him. "I’ll...be right back." His jerked his thumb behind him, indicating roughly the area where the bathroom was.

Nodding, she awkwardly pulled her jacket off. "Sure."

Once inside the bathroom Jack cursed, ran some water and splashed it over his face. He had to make a choice. He could back out, but how would that look? Besides, she wanted to. It was all her idea.

And he could never deny her anything.

Okay. His mind was made up. It was as simple as that.

Taking care of the bladder thing, he washed his hands and quickly glanced at the mirror. Jack didn’t think he was in too bad condition considering his age and his lifestyle, though he did take a second to rub a hand through his hair. She’d always seemed to prefer it messed up.

All right. He exhaled. He was going to go out there, offer her a drink, and then make the first move. Or maybe she’d make the first move, so he wouldn’t have to.

Bracing himself, he grabbed the handle and opened the door.

She was definitely making the first move.

He didn’t know what hit him until his back found the wall of the hallway, and her lips locked onto his.

Surprised, his arms automatically went around her as she reached between them and rubbed a hand over the front of his jeans.

Spluttering, he ended the kiss, and stared at her face. This was the woman he’d died with. This was the woman he’d been willing to die *for*.

This was Carter, and everything he’d ever dreamed about.

Jack bent to kiss her again but she’d already grabbed his hand, dragging him into the bedroom. He didn’t really put up a fight as she propelled him onto the bed, straddled his hips and began pulling his top off.

He did however grab the back of her head, pulled it down until their lips mashed together, and tried to lose himself in her.




"That was..."


"Yeah. Nice."

"Nice. Good."

They rolled away from each other.


It was after she’d spent two hours staring into space in her lab, that Sam realised she wasn’t going to get any work done. She supposed she was fortunate – SG-1’s mission to P8R 194 had been postponed due to the assistance Jonas was giving SG-7 running longer than expected. She didn’t like to think how useless she would have been off world today.

This was bad. It was affecting her work. Hadn’t that been the whole reason why they had never become involved while they were still working together?

No, she was thinking too little of herself. She’d do her job; she’d do what she had to because it was expected.

And she loved her work.

Just not today.

Sighing, acknowledging that her report to General Hammond would either be not up to scratch, or – for the first time since she started working there – not on time, she shoved her chair away from the desk and left her lab.

Making her way to the commissary, she steered well clear of the jello, instead electing for a simple cup of coffee. Several people greeted her as they walked by her table, but it was obvious from the looks she gave them that they knew she wanted to be alone.

She just...couldn’t believe it.

Realising that her coffee had gone cold – where was the time going? – she left it on the table and walked out of the commissary, not heading for anywhere in particular.

It was as she was aimlessly strolling along the corridor, that Janet came into view.


Janet, knowing full well what happened last night – there were, apparently, no secrets Sam could keep from her – grinned. "Well, well. If it isn’t the cat that..." Her words faded as she took in Sam’s expression. "...was incredibly disappointed with the canary. What the hell happened?"

Knowing this was *so* not the place to discuss that subject in public, Sam dragged her into the nearest storage room, flicked on the lights, and double checked that nobody else was already in there.

"Don’t tell me it was bad," Janet all but ordered, apparently not caring even if there had been anyone else in there. "It *can’t* have been bad."

Turning to face her, wanting to pace but not, Sam rubbed a hand over her hair while the other planted itself on her hip. "It wasn’t bad." And that was the truth. "It was just..."

"Just what?"

And here it came. "...nice."

Janet winced. "Ouch. That’s almost worse than bad."

"I guess it’s my own fault," Sam immediately defended, verbalising an argument she’d been having with herself since last night. She shrugged. "My expectations were too high. I mean, we’ve had these feelings or whatever the hell they are for a long time – I was bound to imagine what it would be like, right?"

"I suppose,"

"And given all the time I did have to think about it, I would naturally assume that it’d be fantastic, right?"

"I guess."

"And..." Ah, hell. Even she wasn’t buying this one. "It just doesn’t make any sense! I mean I know, I *know*, that the sex isn’t always good. Depends on the person, the mood, the night. But we did other things before this, Janet, and they *really* were..." Flushing, she forced herself not to stop. "And this was *him*. This was our first time. It should have been..." She turned away, horrified to discover that her eyes were burning. This was pathetic! Just because sex with some guy wasn’t as good as it should have been, she was welling up? God!

Stepping towards her, Janet placed a hand on her arm. "Did either of you have, uh, any problems?"

Chuckling ruefully, Sam shook her head. "No, Janet. Everything was...fully functional."

"Well you’re not gonna let this stop you, are you?" The teasing tone was back.

"No," No way was she giving up this easy. It was far too important. "But we barely said two words to each this morning. We barely *looked* at each other." They were both useless at talking.

Evidently wondering something, Janet spoke as she rubbed her arm sympathetically. "You never did tell me how you knew you were going to have sex last night..."

Not her finest moment, perhaps. "I, uh, told him."

The rubbing stopped. "‘Told him’?"

"We kept stopping before actually having sex, and it was irritating the hell out of me! So finally I decided: we’d just get it out of the way. Over and done with."

"‘Over and done with’?"

"Will you stop repeating everything I say? I can practically hear the quote marks." And before she knew it, Janet was laughing. "Janet?"

And was still laughing.

"Janet! What can you *possibly* find amusing about-?"

"Oh Sam, honey," Sighing, she tugged on her arm until she was facing her properly. "As much as I love you, you have *got* to stop thinking so much. I mean, ‘over and done with’? How romantic is that?"

All right – she may have had a point. "I-"

"Look, why don’t you try something impulsive. Spontaneous." She waggled her eyebrows. "I’m not saying it’ll solve your problems, but," Janet grinned, obviously happy. "That’s how it was with me and Simon."

Impulsive? She could do that. Spontaneous? No problem.

She had a plan.


She had a key to his house; had been given one during her first year as part of SG-1. So when she was sure that he wasn’t at home – the truck not being there was always good indication – she let herself in, armed with a box full of goodies.

It was night time but she kept the lights off, not wanting to give any obvious signs to the outside world that anyone was there.

She began setting things up; placing the candles around his house, putting the CD in the player, getting changed.

Getting changed into the kind of outfit she hadn’t worn for a long time. Still, at least she had a matching dressing gown.

And then there was the waiting. But wasn’t that part of being impulsive? Of not knowing what was going to happen next? Even though she *did* know what was going to happen when he came home, she actually had no idea where he was at the moment.

Hovering by the window, she jumped every time she heard the sound of an engine. Eventually, one turned out to be his. Immediately jumping up she lit the candles, pressed play on the CD player, and carefully peered through the window. He was just now locking the truck, holding something in his arms.

Well, at least he was by himself. It would have been just her luck if he’d had a friend with him.

Did he even have any friends outside of the SGC?

Okay, no more hesitating. He was walking up the path in his front yard.

Exhaling, she grabbed the tie holding her dressing gown together and waited. A few seconds later, she heard the familiar sound of keys turning in the lock. As the door swung open, she pulled the tie free and let the dressing gown slip from her shoulders.

Stunned, he dropped the rented videos he’d been holding.

The Simpsons, by the looks of things.

He really had to say something soon, or she was going to die of embarrassment.


It was a start.


Just not a very good one.


Snapping, she stepped around the pile of videos, closed the door, and slowly pushed him back against it. His expression looked strangely like a deer trapped in the headlights of a car.

If she was going to do this, as scary as it was, she was going to do it properly. Leaning towards him, she grabbed one of his hands and placed it on her hip. "Don’t you want to kiss me, Jack?"

He looked very much like he *did* want to kiss her, but a few seconds later, his gaze flicked to somewhere over her shoulder. "Carter..."

"*Sam*," She emphasised.

"Sam," He corrected, still seeming to be in shock as his free hand lifted up and pointed behind her. "My house seems to be on fire."

Whipping around, she saw that he was right – one of the candle’s had fallen over and set light to his coffee table.



The fire had been put out five minutes ago. Jack still stood there, fire extinguisher in hand, white foam now covering his charred table and, subsequently, a great deal of his carpet.

Wow. Talk about an evening to remember.

He really hadn’t expected a thing. Opening the door, finding her wearing...well...practically nothing, realising his living room was on fire...

All he could think was that he was lucky he was so paranoid about fires.

Another dribble of foam eked out of the end of the nozzle. Staring at it Jack sighed, and let it thump to the floor. There were more important things to deal with.

The most important of all was sitting on the end of his sofa, avoiding a wild stripe of foam that had gone off course during his frantic attempts to put his coffee table out. She had – thankfully – put her dressing gown back on, and now had her head in her hands.

Realising the romantic music playing in the background really didn’t fit with the image currently filling his living room, he trudged over to the player and turned it off. Hesitating, staring at where she was sitting a few feet away, he shoved his hands in his pockets. "So..."

She didn’t say anything. In fact, the only noise she made sounded suspiciously like a gulp – which confirmed his fears. She was crying. That thought terrified him more than anything else.

Oookay. Withdrawing his hands he walked over to her, bent down, and pulled her hands away from her face. "I seriously appreciate what you were trying to do here. I mean, given what happened last night, it was downright heroic."

The gulp turned into a hiccup, or what *sounded* like a hiccup, but as she slowly lifted her head he realised it was something else.

Laughter. "I set *fire* to your *house*." He had a feeling that if she hadn’t been laughing, she would have been crying her eyes out.

He didn’t know whether to feel relieved or not, but he went into teasing mode. "I’m not saying heroes don’t make mistakes." Moving, still holding onto her hands, he sat next to her on the sofa. To do that he had to endure the stripe of foam, but she was worth it. Waiting until her humour had trickled off, he spoke. "Maybe we should give this a break."

Now her humour was wiped off completely. "Oh."

Realising what she was thinking, he immediately continued speaking. "No, no I don’t mean a *break*, I just mean..." Fear, huge and tangible stabbed his stomach. He had to say this, even if he couldn’t look at her while he did. "This ‘thing’..."


"You and me. Us."


Say it. Just say it. "Is it just physical? Is it just about the sex?"

Fingers moved, tangling with his as she spoke with amusement. "As I recall, you ‘cared about me a lot more than I’m supposed to’, long before we ever seriously kissed."

She had to bring *that* up again. That phrase was the bane of his existence. "So that’s a no?"

"That would be a no," She agreed, looking far happier than any woman should have been – especially considering the fact that she’d just been helping him, half naked, put out a fire that she had started.

"So maybe we should skip it for a while." Part of him couldn’t quite believe he was saying that. "Nothing more than kissing." He wasn’t a saint – he had to have *something*.

Not seriously objecting, maybe as relieved as he was, she did lift her eyebrows provocatively. "*Nothing* more?"

She really had to stop that. "Nothing more. And when we go out or stay in, we’ll do other stuff."

"Other stuff," She murmured, glancing away. "What else would we do?" Before he could answer, she suddenly looked back at him, comprehending something, her fingers pulling their hands tighter together. Smiling, she placed an almost chaste kiss on the side of his face. "Maybe that’s the point."


The next weekend, they went bowling. It was the first time they’d ventured out, by themselves, during daylight.

It was weird; it was almost like their first date all over again. As usual it started out with stilted words – until he saw what appalling bad bowling skills she had. He couldn’t quite comprehend how someone who was so good at pool could be so atrocious at bowling.

She pointed out that it wasn’t as if you used exactly the same skills, but he ignored the common sense and took every opportunity to comment on how useless she was.

Of course, he also started to enjoy himself because he got to openly stare at her butt every time she bent over.

And something told him she was doing exactly the same to him.

When they were finished, they went for a drive. Nowhere in particular: the point was to spend time in each other’s company, to not actually do anything. Just to be.

Slowly, he stopped expecting her to jump him, or vice versa, and began to relax.

Most amazingly of all she revealed what she did in spare time, during one of those rare times when she was actually at home.

He stared at her as she sat next to him in his truck, sipping through a straw the drink she’d just bought at a 7-Eleven. "*Painting*?"

She was trying not to act embarrassed, but he could tell that she was nervous about admitting it. "What, you don’t think I’m creative? Not that I’m saying I’m any good, mind you."

Her tongue was blue from the drink. Should he tell her, or...? Nah. Couldn’t stop staring at it though. "Just surprised. Didn’t really think you were interested in anything that wasn’t scientific."

"What about you?" She replied, leaning towards him, pretending to be offended. "*You’re* certainly not scientific."

Jack couldn’t take it anymore. He had to have that tongue right...now.

Meeting his mouth willingly she didn’t object as he deepened the kiss, tongues tangling together. Being very careful not to take it any further he pulled away, but only just, their noses rubbing together.

He still didn’t get how a kiss could be that fantastic, and the sex...not. But he couldn’t think about that right now. "I’m an interest, huh?"

"Uh huh," She nodded, bumping their noses gently against each other again. "Something that deserves a great deal of study," Brief kiss. "And investigation." Long, deep, raspberry-flavoured kiss.

Apparently remembering ‘the rules’ – that she *had* agree to herself – she suddenly yanked her mouth away from his, briefly making him feel like a goldfish searching for air. "Sorry."

She didn’t need to apologise; he well understood how she felt. He just needed a cold shower. "I think I should start the engine."

"Are you sure we can’t do more than kiss?"

"I’m sure."

"No touching? Fondling? Tasting?"

"No!" Damn, she was doing it on purpose now. He gunned his truck to life and pulled out of the small parking lot.

Frowning hard, his attention was drawn back to her when a loud noise came from her cup. She was sucking on the straw for all it was worth, deliberately glancing seductively towards him.

It was official: she was evil.

"Will you stop that!? I’m trying to drive here!"

* "Can I see your paintings?"

The question was completely unexpected. They were on their fifth date since 'the rules' had been implemented, which meant they watching a movie at her place while attempting not to grope a body part that didn’t belong to themselves.

Not that they were leaving each other alone completely. Snuggled up with him at one end of the sofa, she rested her head back on his chest while his arm went around her, pulling her close. The tension had automatically gone up several notches - they were both very much aware of what had happened the last time they watched (or rather, didn't watch) a movie together on that particular sofa.

But as time wore on, and her self control actually held (she was quite proud of herself for that - he was almost like a drug), she discovered she was spending less time thinking about the things they'd done together and more just about him.

And then, obviously paying no more attention to the movie than she was, he asked the question.

Sam wasn't sure why she'd even told him about them in the first place. She'd been happily sitting in his truck, overloaded on sugar, openly flirting, and it had just...slipped out. She tried to pretend it wasn't a big deal almost as soon as she said it, but she wasn't sure he'd bought it.

It had, at least, not been mentioned again.

Until now.

No one knew about them. Not Janet, or her Dad, or Mark. No one. They were her little pleasure, her little break from reality.

Jack spoke again, his thumb rubbing her arm. "I understand if you don't want me to-"

Moving, her mind made the decision before actually telling her it had made the decision. Standing from the sofa, she grabbed his hand and pulled him to his feet. Leaving the movie playing on the TV, she led him out of the living room, through the hallway, and down into the basement.

Immediately moving to her right she walked around the bottom of the stairs then veered off to the left, entering the main storage area. He'd been there before, of course, but something told her that at the time he hadn't been in the mood to lift up the blanket at the back of the room.

She flicked on the light.

Releasing his hand, she clutched onto the blanket in question and pulled it off.

There weren't many paintings leaning against the wall. It wasn't often that she had a chance to work on them, and when she did it usually took a long time before she was satisfied with what she'd done. In the past she'd actually spent hours staring at her work, knowing that it needed just one more thing but never knowing exactly what that was.

Until it simply happened.

She supposed they would be classed as abstract. They weren't of any particular object or form, just shades of colour, often influenced by her mood.

Jack had already bent down, slowly flicking through them. He studied each one slowly, with care, frowning with concentration.

Sam didn't want to admit it, but she was nervous. The very fact that no one but her had seen them made her even more anxious as to his reaction - and as Cassie had said, he really could be such a guy sometimes.

Drifting away she hovered by her workbench, unable to take the stress of watching the expression on his face. He never gave much away in a normal situation.

Several agonising minutes later, still bent down, he spoke. "I like them." Turning his head towards her, he grinned. "And not just because you're a great kisser."

Not willing to show just how worried she'd been, she faked a smile. "Can't buy your opinion with a kiss, huh?"

"I didn't say that," He argued, before turning away to study them again. Choosing one, he pulled it free of the rest. "I'm not what you'd call an art critic, but something about this one seems...pissed."

He was right. She vividly remembered that one - the dark reds, the streaks of black. Painting that had helped her more than anything else had. "That was after Edora."

Jack's hand tightened on the edge of the painting briefly, but he didn't speak about it. Instead the hand moved, reaching out towards her, though he didn't turn around. "What about the rest? Are they all connected with things that happened at work?"

"Kind of," She replied, moving until she held the hand and carefully sat down next to him. It wasn't comfortable, but maybe that was the point. She started going through them; Jolinar, with the multitude of confusion, finding out Dad had cancer, Martouf and the za'tarc machine, Elliot...

"It's funny,"

"Ha ha funny or-?"

"Hey, stop stealing my material," He complained.

"I think you'll find that was somebody else's material *long* before it was-" He kissed her. Oookay. "So what's funny?"

Placing the painting back with the others, he smiled. A real one. "All those times you saved the world, and there's nothing here that reflects that."

That was an odd statement. "That's just my job."

"You really have no idea how amazing you are, do you?"

That was compliment, from him, that she knew wasn't about her brains, so she did what she always did - she freaked. Flushing, she looked away.

Thankfully he continued talking. "What's this one?" He asked, finding one he hadn't seen yet. The one at the very back. The one that he moved to the front.

It was bright; whites, yellows, sparse. "Daniel."

It surprised him. His gaze suddenly lowered, away from the picture as he frowned. "I see him sometimes." His voice sounded so small, unsure.

She stared, amazed. "See him?"

"Yeah." Clearly uncomfortable he shifted, but didn't move away. "Not as a dream or hallucination or anything, but he's really there. Well," He chuckled almost bitterly, reconsidering. "He's not *actually* there because he's on another plane of existence or something, but you know what I mean."

She thought she did. "When do you see him?"

The head lowered further: so far that she was almost worried it'd brush the floor. "When I need to."

Suddenly finding it hard to breathe around the tightness in her throat, she wrapped her arms around him. They'd never grieved about Daniel; at least, not together. He'd been so hell bent on ignoring what'd happened, and she'd been pissed that he'd been so hell bent on ignoring what'd happened...

He still hadn't moved, but slowly his right hand began to come up, and held onto the forearm across his chest. He didn't pull it away; he just touched it. "I mean it, you know."


"I really like these."

Blinking away her tears she smiled. "Really?"

Finally turning to look at her, he sighed. "How can you of all people - kick ass Sam Carter - be nervous about anything?"

Look who was talking. "I could ask you the same question."

"We're not talking about me," He defended. "We were talking about your terrific art skills."

"Terrific?" She had a feeling he was mocking her now - but in a good way.

"Oh absolutely." The hand holding her arm began to move away from his body, though he didn't initially let go. Kissing her soundly, he slowly began to push her down to the floor. "Terrific." She was on her back, her hand coming up to thread through his hair. "Fantastic." He found her lips again, settling his body on top of hers. "Absolutely..." Her neck was he next target. "...incredible."

This nice, slow make out session was in danger of rapidly turning into something else. Despite the fact that it was going against all her natural instincts, she slowed it down. "Mmm. Kissing on the cold, hard, musty basement floor. How romantic."

Snorting against her neck (causing a shiver that went through the *entire* length of her body), he kissed it once more for good measure before bracing his hands either side of her on the floor. "This is *your* fault."

"Mine?" His head was hovering just above hers now, the narcotic like effect of his presence returning.

"Yup. If my living room wasn't burnt to a crisp, we could have watched the movie there."

Oh please. "It was *one* coffee table. The top of *one* coffee table. And you weren't watching the movie any more than I was."

Jack didn't have an argument for that. "There were much more interesting things to watch." His head lowered again, and Sam sighed as their mouths locked together. It really was nice just making out; knowing it wasn't going to go any further.

Although, if his hand kept skimming along her body like that, if she kept tilting her hips towards his, if his mouth...

A rush of desire, sudden and substantial, pooled in the base of her body. Surprised, she ended the kiss, heavy breaths filling the silence. Neither of them moved, slowly letting their bodies calm down. "I..." His head was resting against her chest, and she found herself caressing his shoulder. "...have a challenge for you."

"Challenge?" The head shifted, but only minutely. He obviously liked where he was lying.

"There's something I have to do on Saturday, and I'd like you to accompany me."

"Sure." No doubt. No hesitation.

Smiling, her hand travelled up into his hair again. It was incredibly soft - she'd have to find out what shampoo he used; though she was willing to bet it was a cheap own brand kind.

Finally, sighing happily, he asked the question. "What is it?"



A new and unique form of torture.

All right, so none of that was true. For a start it wasn't as if it was it was 'girly' shopping - it was just regular grocery shopping. And he'd certainly had enough experience doing that both as a single guy and as a married man.

And a father.

It just wasn't a chore he particularly enjoyed.

He would have assumed the same of her. She had so little free time outside of work (at least, he couldn't help but notice, until they started seeing each other), that he imagined she would have zoomed in, grabbed what she needed, paid in record time, and then left as quickly and efficiently as possible.

She wasn't. She was slowly moving up and down each aisle, deliberating, pondering, chewing on her lower lip...

And he had to admit that - mostly due to their bantering - the experience wasn't quite as bad as he'd thought it'd be. At that particular moment in time, she was examining the back of quite possibly the largest chocolate bar he’d ever seen.

He knew she liked it of course, but... "Didn't know you were such the chocolate fiend."

"I'm not really," She protested, focusing on the small print. "But if I buy this, I won't have to buy any more for, oh, at least a week." Grinning, she threw it carelessly into the shopping cart.

Jack had found himself the designated driver, so as Sam started walking again, he grabbed the handle and continued pushing. "Do you know how many calories that thing has?"

She glanced over her shoulder at him. "This from the man who lives on Fruit Loops. Besides," Pausing, flirting, she deliberately ran her gaze over his body. "I'm sure we'll find a way to burn them off."

Oh yeah. *Definitely* evil. But two could play at that game. "Glad to hear it." She'd turned away and continued walking again but he quickly caught up, abandoning his hold on the cart in exchange for grabbing her waist and yanking her back around. "You've already set my house on fire,"

"You're never gonna let that drop, are you?"

Not a chance in hell. But he ignored the question. "So it'd be nice if it was something else that was burning." Ah, they were wandering into cheesy romance movie territory here.

Apparently she knew that all too well, twining her arms around his neck and thrusting her body towards his. "Burrrrning?"

It was all he could do not to laugh, and he still ended up grinning like hell. "Definitely heating up,"

"On fire," She murmured, Sam - *Sam* - actually fluttering her eyelashes 'innocently' as she drew him closer.

How was it possible that she could still manage to surprise him? It might have had something to do with the fact that, seven years ago, when she first walked into that briefing room, he never could have imagined that she'd *ever* be doing what she was doing right now. "Should probably call 911..."

"Probably a good idea," She agreed, though from the tone in her voice she wasn't really paying attention anymore (and hell, neither was he) as their mouths moved closer and closer...

"Do you mind? This is a public building, and that's quite disgusting. I may have to complain to the manager."

Groaning, he thumped his head on Sam's shoulder.

She did much the same, talking into his jacket. "Janet,"

Raising his head, he saw what his ears had already confirmed. Fraiser was standing a few feet away, clutching a hand basket, grinning like the demented scientist she was. "Doc," He said with little enthusiasm. "This is a surprise."

Not that it was.

"Same here," She nodded. "When I set off this morning, I never even once thought to myself, 'I wonder if I'll happen to bump into Sam and Colonel O'Neill today'."

She was definitely lying. "Small world."

"Excuse me for a minute," Sam finally lifted her head and sighed. "I have a best friend to kill."

"You bet." Anything to keep her happy.

Extracting herself from his hold, her veneer of politeness vanished the moment she turned to face the woman watching them.

Still with the demented grin.

"You!" Sam ordered, pointing to the far end of the aisle. "With me. Now!" Not waiting for a response, she marched away.

Not seeming particularly bothered, Fraiser smiled at him and they simply looked at each other. Her, with her shopping basket and scary grin; him with, uh...

"It's cute," She told him.

Huh? "What is?"

"She sounds just like you." And copying Sam, she didn't wait for a response either before walking after her.

Jack spent all of ten seconds debating whether or not to follow them.

Obviously, the fact that Sam had taken their conversation as far away from him as possible indicated that this was something he wasn't supposed to overhear.

Ya ha. *Right*.

Grabbing onto the cart with one hand he swung it around until it was in front of him, and then he was moving. Jogging along the aisle, dodging an old lady wearing a purple hat, careening around a guy with *way* too much gel in his hair, and coming to a sudden stop next to a family that had no less than five kids.

Catching his breath, he peered around the end of aisle. Yup, there they were. Next to the milk.

Leaning away again so they couldn't see him, he strained to hear what was being said.

"-just getting some shopping, Sam! I don't see what the big deal is."

"This store is twenty minutes away from your house."


"So there's another one less than five minutes from your house."

"Get out of town! Wow, they really have to advertise that-"


"All right, all right, but can you blame me? You call me, tell me you two are going shopping, and *don't* expect me to take advantage of the opportunity?"

"What opportunity?"

Jack was with Sam on this one. Wasn't much of a surprise, really...

"To see you guys in your natural habitat."

"Natural...it's a Safeway's, Janet!"

"You know what I mean! Just to see how you two are interacting now, and not from a story after the fact. I *did* warn you I was going to live vicariously through your relationship...and on that note, I certainly didn't notice any tension or nervousness just now. Things are good?"

Sam didn't respond for a while, probably trying to comprehend Fraiser's weird ass behaviour as much as he was - though she was no doubt doing a better job of it. She did eventually, however, answer the question. "Things are good. Things are better than good. Things are...very, very good indeed."

What was he doing? Creeping up on fifty, standing in an aisle at Safeway's, hiding next to the Reese's Pieces, grinning like a fool.


"Not *things* things,"

"Still abiding by the 'rules', huh?"

Geez, was there anything Doc *didn't* know? This probably meant she knew about their less than spectacular first attempt, too. Great.

"I think it's helped, you know. Really. We're actually...talking."

She sounded amazed, but he shared the sentiment. He still couldn't quite believe he'd told her about the Daniel thing, and even more than that - though she'd been surprised - she hadn't questioned him about it since. Hadn't doubted him, hadn't tried to force more details.

She'd be there when he was ready.

He was finally starting to realise that.

Something tugged on his leg, and when he glanced down he saw it was the youngest of the five kids. A girl, not even five he'd guess. As he looked at her, she pointed behind him. Clearly he was in the way. "Sorry," He whispered, grabbing the cart and wheeling it backwards. He really didn't want to go yet, but it was probably the right thing to do. Their little chat wouldn't be going on for much longer, and he needed to get out of range.

When Sam appeared next to him a few minutes later, he was pretending to be fascinated with a pot of...oh. Chocolate spread. "Everything okay?" He asked.

"I think so. That woman really needs to get her own interests." She sounded extremely satisfied with herself.

Failing to keep the charade up any longer, his gaze slid towards her. "What did you do?"

"Nothing." She replied. "Yet. Hmm," Deliberately changing the subject, she pulled the pot out of his hand. "I think we'll be needing this." Still holding onto it, she sauntered away.

Jack practically bounded after her.


It felt good being able to flirt shamelessly. And given his reaction to her, it felt almost powerful.

She probably should have felt bad about that.

It continued during the journey home and as they entered her house, laden down with shopping bags. Not that it was *real* flirting - it was over the top, clichéd, sitcom flirting - but it was still a *lot* of fun.

At one point (just after the meat had been put in the freezer), he backed her into the corner of the kitchen. "I think that mouth of yours needs to stop saying all those tempting things to me."

She glanced up at him, deliberately coy, resting her hands against his chest. "Tempting?" Her tongue sneaked out, wetting her lips.

Growling, his head almost dived down for the kiss - the type of kiss they'd been very much trying to avoid since staying well clear of the sex thing.

They weren't avoiding it now; rough, hard, insistent. Slipping away from his chest her hands grabbed his sides and yanked him closer still, moaning when he touched her breasts, even though the material of her top.

His right hand slid down, forcing itself between her and the counter, cupping her rear and pushing their lower bodies together. She gasped away from the kiss, moving her legs further apart, her left starting to bend at the knee as the hand on her rear moved down, cupping her thigh and pulling it up.

Resuming the kiss and grinding against him, she mewled a complaint when he pulled away, then stopped complaining when she realised he was picking her up and sitting her on the edge of count-


Her head whacked against the cupboard on the wall.

"Shit!" He moved closer, but this time to examine the back of her head. "Are you all right?!"

"What do you think?" She snapped, hesitantly touching the back of her head. Ow, ow, ow!

"Sorry. Here," He told her, picking her up again; she presumed so she could stand on her own two feet.


She didn't know *how* he managed it, but as if he were barely aware of the weight, he carried her around the middle of the kitchen and deposited her on the other side, on a stool.

As soon as he let go, he headed for the fridge-freezer. "Let's get some ice on that." His head was stuck inside the freezer, trying to find what he was looking for. "Do you think we should get you checked out at the hospital?" Grabbing a hand towel from the side, he filled it up with a handful of ice and pushed the door shut with his hip.

Amused (and pleased) at his complete overreaction, she smiled as he stepped behind her. "I think I'll live, Jack. It wasn't-AH!" Yanking her head away, she cursed.

"What?! What?! Does it hurt?"

"No, it's cold!"

Relieved, he didn't put it back. "It *did* come from the freezer, Sam. That does kind of indicate-"

"You just thumped my head against a cupboard. I think if anyone should be making fun of someone, it should be-"

"Say, let me get the rest of that shopping put away." Placing the ice pack next to her on the side, he delved into the various bags littered around the kitchen. He kept her entertained while he did it; apparently each piece of shopping had its own life history - the tomatoes had a particularly rough upbringing.

Sam grinned, watching him, the pain in her head dissipating. Wondering, if she brought the subject up, whether he'd claim that he wasn't in the least bit inventive. Wondering, if she mentioned it, that he'd agree how *cute* he looked putting away her shopping. Wondering, as he played with three oranges, where the hell he learned to juggle like that.

Realising, as he was deciding just *where* the onions should go, the truth.

She spoke a heartbeat later. "Jack,"

"Yeah?" His was studying the contents of her fridge was a fascination usually reserved for The Simpsons.

"Put the onions down."

Though he frowned as he closed the door and turned to face her, he did.

"Come over here."

He did.

"Give me your hands."

Standing in front of her as she still sat on the stool, he did.

She was sure. She was completely, wholeheartedly, a hundred per cent *sure*. Blinking back moisture, she smiled up at him. "You're the only person I've ever shown my paintings to. You're the only person who even *knows* about them."

Initially he said nothing, his reply being nothing but a grin. But eventually his gaze drifted away - some habits died just too hard. Habits she'd have to work on. She knew what was coming, but the fact that he said it at all was important.

"No one else knows about Daniel."

Still holding onto his hands she tugged him closer, down into a hug - that, perhaps inevitably, turned into a kiss quite unlike any they'd shared before. When the thoroughly pleasant yet strangely gentle kiss ended, his head hovered by her shoulder, his breath passing across her neck. "Does this mean we can have sex now?"

Ah. Sweet, gentle, and - ultimately - a guy.

But she had no doubts. Not anymore. Still, couldn't let him have it *too* easy. "I don't know. *You* made up the rules; I really think you're responsible for-"

"Ignoring them completely," Then his hands were moving; freeing themselves from hers and...her world turned upside down. Literally.

He'd thrown her over his shoulder.

Sam screeched. She actually screeched. "JACK!" She wasn't a screecher; she'd never screeched before in her entire life, yet there she was, screeching as if the fate of the universe depended on it.

"Hey, you're not supposed to be at the screaming part yet," He argued, thumping out of the kitchen, through the hallway, and into the bedroom. He didn't, at least, throw her onto the bed, instead carefully lowering her before tumbling down himself shortly after.

Immediately forgetting her bizarre method of transport she moved before he had a chance to, pushing him onto his back and straddling his body.

He didn't object. "I'm enjoying this already."

Grabbing the hem of her shirt, she pulled it off - trying to look as if she didn't get it caught around her head - and flung it to one side.

Suddenly he sat up, kissing her chest, face, her neck, her mouth, his hands moving around her body to unclip her bra.

Or at least, *try* to unclip her bra. The previous times it'd been removed it'd been all her own work and now, apparently, he was having some trouble. It’d been, evidently, quite some time since he’d been faced with one of those.

Muttering, he moved closed towards her, turning his head to the left and resting it against her chest as he frowned intently, trying to figure out what he was describing as the "ultimate protection concocted by your Dad who's trying to ensure that I never get my hands on-a ha!"

Sam's attempts to keep a lid on her mirth were proving completely fruitless, and even as he finally got it undone she was laughing, placing a hand against his head.

Once again, he didn't object, moving his head only to pull the bra away and then he was back, only this time with his mouth.

Her giggles died off as he tasted her breasts, her eyes drifting shut as she instinctively rocked her body towards his mouth. Of course, that also meant their groins were rocking together, but she really *wasn't* complaining.

Jack was, abandoning her chest and then rolling them over until she was on her back and *he* was on top of *her*. "Sorry," He told her on a heavy breath. "But I'm not wearing a bra you can take off."

"That's okay," She replied as he tugged his top off. "I can find something else."

She reached for his zipper.

Several moments later, both of them had shed their boots, socks, and jeans.

They came back together, him half-lying on top of her, kissing, both naked except for the material clinging to their hips. Sam couldn't help but remember what it'd been like the first time: awkward, nerve-wracking, silent.

This was anything but. She felt *alive*.

His hands slid over her body, touching, teasing, tormenting, his mouth eventually following the path the fingers had taken; down her chest, her stomach, and then beneath the underwear he was sliding from her body.

She sighed at the brief touch, but then his mouth moved, his tongue became involved, and suddenly she was doing a lot more than sighing.

Eyes closing again, biting on her lower lip, her head tilted to one side as he worked - and he was obviously enjoying the work and the effect it was having. The pit of her stomach wound tighter and tighter with each passing moment, reaching almost unbearable levels. Her left hand flew out and clutched onto the covers, while her mouth let rip with the kind of phrase that'd make her blush ten shades of red at any other time.

And then his mouth was on hers, his fingers where his mouth had been, and she couldn't think anymore, gasping into his mouth as she exploded around him.

A while later, dazed, feeling bleary-eyed and *fantastic*, she half-noticed that he was muttering something. "Mmmm?"

He repeated whatever it was he'd said: "Do you know how hard it is not losing it just *watching* you?"

There was a compliment there somewhere; she was sure of it. And at that particular moment, she really didn't mind. Shaking off her lethargy - and just knowing she was going to have some aches and pains later - she drew his body closer to hers, and tugged down his boxers. They didn't have to worry about a condom; she'd gone on the pill a few weeks ago. "Then I say don't wait any longer," And then she was fierce, slamming their bodies together, wrapping her legs around him. "Lose it." He was already pressing against her. "Now."

He did.


It was the thumping that woke her up. Blinking her eyes open, she sent a psychic glare to whoever it was that had the *indecency* to wake her up at...21:39.

All right. So *maybe* she'd gone to bed a little early, and she had the house all to herself, too. The shame.

Realising that the thumping was coming from her front door - and acknowledging the kind of job she had - she threw back the covers, grabbed her dressing gown, and tugged it on as she flew towards the front of the house.

Having made the entire journey in darkness she flicked on the hall light, then winced as her eyes adjusted, and quickly turned on the porch light too.

The thumping - that had continued up until that point - stopped. "Janet?"

What the-?

She recognised that voice! But what the hell was it doing here?

Stunned, she unlocked the door, swung it open, and yep. There he was.


"What are *you* doing here?"

"Are you all right?" He completely ignored her question, instead focusing on his own, frequently glancing behind her as if to make sure there was no trouble afoot.

"I'm fine," Apart from the fact that, damn, she'd really forgotten how attractive he was. Why had she decided against a long-term thing in the end? Oh yeah: emotional entanglement. She just didn't have the time. She and Cassie had really found their own groove these last couple of years; they were comfortable and happy. She didn't want to risk anything disrupting that. "What are you doing here?"

"I got a phone call from some woman saying that I needed to get over here; that it was urgent, an emergency. You're sure you're all right?"

The penny dropped.

And as she was deciding whether to kick Sam's butt or kiss her senseless, she took a few moments to study him, as if seeing him for the first time. A little under six feet tall (perfect for her), very little hair (through choice), African-American, at least ten years her junior, and gorgeous, *gorgeous*, deep brown eyes.

"I'm fine." Mmm. Fine indeed.

"Good," He smiled, openly relieved. "I'm...I'm pleased to hear that."

"I think it was someone I know, probably have a little fun with you. And me." Someone who had probably used illegal means to procure his telephone number. Someone whose relationship she'd been following avidly - maybe too avidly - that had ultimately reminded her that, more than anything else, she really wouldn't mind having sex on a regular basis.

"This person," He began, his gaze obviously lingering on her chest but trying to look like it wasn't. "She a friend of yours?"

Shuffling closer to him, she placed a hand on his left arm. "It's fair to say," The touch turned into a hold. This really was a good idea. "That she's a very good friend."

Tugging him inside, she slammed the door shut.



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