MRE's

Doctor Daniel Jackson removed the tinfoil lid from his MRE and raised a small fork full of the contents to his lips. Tentatively, he consumed the 'food' and chewed thoughtfully. "Tastes like Chicken." He said after a moment.

Major Samantha Carter looked at him understandingly - if not a little sympathetically. "What's it meant to be?"

Daniel raised the aluminium dish to his face and read the label. Surprise evident on his face. "Chicken." He answered.

"Really?" Sam asked, disbelievingly. "Let me see." She studied the label, and even tried peeling it off to see if the true ingredient listing was hidden underneath. Realising that the food was indeed meant to be Chicken Chasseur, she dipped her own fork in and took a generous mouthful.

"Really is Chicken." She mused, eyebrows raised in surprise. "We should let Teal'c and the Colonel try this."

"Speaking of which, have you spoken to him yet?"

"Teal'c?" Sam looked questioningly at Daniel, her expression feigning ignorance.

The archaeologist sighed in frustration. "You know who I mean." He said, looking pointedly over at Colonel O'Neill who was currently fighting a losing battle with a tent.

"You know, maybe I should take this MRE home and study it further." She joked, desperately trying to change the subject. "There must be a logical explanation..."

"Sam."

"...I mean, maybe it's really tofu, or..."

"Sam."

"It could even be Pork pretending that it's..."

"SAM!" Daniel's raised voice not only caught her attention, but also that of the other two team members across the clearing who stopped what they were doing and stared over the couple huddled around the fire.

"Everything okay, kids?" Jack O'Neill's disembodied voice asked over the radio. Despite the planet appearing to be pretty much void of all life, SG-1 had learned over the years that it never hurt to be overly precautious, and the idea of drawing the attention of any nocturnal inhabitants was most unappealing.

Sam sighed as she depressed the switch on her radio. "Fine Sir." She replied quietly. "Daniel and I were just...talking."

"Well, would you mind asking Daniel to lower his voice a few decibels? I think they heard him back on Earth!" Came Jack's sarcastic reply.

"Yes sir. Sorry." Carter looked accusingly at Daniel. "Why'd you go and yell like that?" she hissed. "Now he's gonna be mad at us all night."

"Why do you care?" Daniel countered. "After all, it's not as if you're in 'love' with the man, is it?" He paused. "Oh, wait, you *are* in love with the man!"

"Sarcasm really doesn't suit you." Sam replied scathingly as she rose to her feet. "I'm gonna see if they need a hand."

"Sam, wait." Daniel placed a placating hand on her arm and encouraged her to sit back down. "I'm really sorry." He began. "I know you want me to mind my own business, but you guys need to talk about this, and I don't see either of you rushing to start the conversation."

"Maybe because we have good reason to keep quiet." Sam bit back, still smarting over Daniel's earlier comment.

Ever the pacifist, Daniel put his arms around her and pulled her into his comforting embrace. "I know you both think ignoring this is for the best," he murmured into her hair, "But take it from someone who learnt the hard way, If you keep silent and just wait for tomorrow to come, you'll suddenly find yourself out of time."

"That's a cliche if ever I heard one." Sam giggled into his shirt.

"What's a cliche?" Jack asked as he sat himself down opposite the pair.

Sam pulled herself out of Daniel's arms and sat up fully. "Nothing, Sir. Just talking." She stood quickly. "I'm gonna check the perimeter."

"Teal'c's already doing that." Jack replied, confusion evident on his face.

"Yeah, well, I'll help him." Sam turned and walked quickly away before he had time to argue.

"What was all that about?" the Colonel asked as he watched his second in command disappear from view.

"We had a fight." Daniel said simply. He regarded his friend for a moment before continuing cautiously. "You haven't talked to her yet."

Jack glanced over at the archaeologist. "No." he stated, simply.

"Well, are you going to?"

Jack sighed, a deep, soulful sound, then stood up resolutely. "Yeah." He said before determinedly stalking away in the direction Sam had taken moments earlier.

---------------------------------------------------------

"Everything set, Teal'c?" Sam stood quickly, mildly surprised at her Commanding Officer's unexpected appearance.

"Indeed." Came the Jaffa's stoic reply. "The perimeter has been set. I believe we are secure, O'Neill."

Jack nodded briefly. "Well, go get yourself some food, then we'll bed down for the night. I'll take first watch."

Teal'c bowed slightly before making his way towards the campfire. Sam made to follow, but halted abruptly as Jack placed his hand on her shoulder.

"I'd like a quick word with you Major." Slightly surprised, Sam nodded at her CO. "I'll catch up with you." She said to Teal'c as he bowed once again and discretely disappeared.

They both watched until Teal'c was out of sight before turning to face each other. Jack opened his mouth to speak, but Sam was quicker.

"Sir, I'd like to apologise for earlier." She began.

Confusion marred Jack's face for a moment. "Huh?"

"Between Daniel and myself." She gently reminded. "We shouldn't have been fighting like that. Not on a mission, it was unprofessional of me, and I should have known better. I..."

Jack held his hand up to silence the Major. "I think I know why you were arguing, Carter." He said. "And quite frankly I don't blame you for getting irritated. Daniel can be a little overbearing at times." Jack smiled; a tight expression that didn't quite reach his eyes.

"He's right about some things though." He continued before she had a chance to interrupt. "We do need to talk about this."

Sam's legs seemed to have the urge to give out underneath her and she sat down heavily on a rock. "I thought we'd agreed *not* to talk about it." She stated, unable to meet his gaze.

Jack stooped and crouched down opposite her, wincing at the sudden pain that shot through his weakened knees. He placed his hand on her jaw and determinedly raised her face until her eyes met his.

"Look, Carter. I know that whatever this is between us is a little difficult to cope with right now, but I also know that we will get through this."

Sam looked sharply at him. "I don't know how often you've been through this *sir*, but this is the first time I've ever fallen in love with my Superior Officer, and quite frankly I don't know whether or not I'm *ever* gonna be able to deal with it."

Jack sighed, irritated by the misunderstanding. "That's not what I meant, and you know it." He growled. "And for your information, this is my first..." He stopped talking suddenly. His brain finally catching up and processing the information Sam had just given him.

The total shock that spread across his face slowly turned into a smile before promoting itself into a fully-fledged grin. "You love me."

Sam bowed her head sadly. "You already knew that sir. Why do you need to keep bringing this up?"

"No I didn't." he replied incredulously. "I knew you cared about me, you said so in that Zarc test."

"Za'tarc" Sam corrected automatically.

"Right, whatever." He replied impatiently. "My point is that you never actually said the 'L' word." He paused for a moment. "Neither of us did."

Jack smiled wistfully at the expression on his Major's face as her brain went into overdrive, desperately trying to remember each and every word spoken on that bittersweet day. Eventually, her eyes widened in shock and she looked back up at him. Her eyes locking with his.

"No we didn't." she conceded quietly. "And I just made this a whole lot worse, didn't I?"

"Depends on how you look at it." He grinned. "Personally, I just got the ego boost of the century, so I'm fine."

Sam smiled distractedly at his attempt to lighten the mood, obviously thinking about something else. "What?" Jack asked after a silent moment.

She looked down at her hands and started absently picking at her nails. "Do you?"

Jack was confused - again. "Huh?"


Sam closed her eyes in irritation. You know, she mused, for a Theoretical Astrophysicist, she really should be able to articulate better. "Do you...feel...the same - Sir?" she added as an afterthought.
Jack grinned openly at her pained expression, knowing that she had gone through mental and emotional hell in order to ask him. Trouble is, he thought to himself as the smile faded quickly to a frown, now he'd have to answer her.

Okay, he could do this.

He was a 'new man' after all. He could wear his heart on his sleeve - for a few minutes at least.

Er, how to word this...

"Damn." Jack muttered under his breath, then cleared his throat. Inhaling deeply, he took a deep breath and grasped Sam's fidgeting hands beneath his.

Sam looked into his eyes, full of conflicting emotions, and took pity on him. "You don't have to answer..." she began.

"No, it's okay." He replied quickly. "I want to."

The silence bearing down around them was deafening, and for a moment Sam thought that, despite her hard-nosed military persona, she might faint from anticipation.

Finally he plucked up enough courage, and looking deep into her eyes, he said, "Yes."

Tears threatened to overpower Sam as her scientific mind registered the enormity of such a small word. Her hands began to shake under his and her bottom lip started to quiver. Jack saw the effect he was having on her and, frankly, it tore at his heart.

His pulse started beating rapidly as he took the trembling woman in his arms and held on to her as if his life depended on it. Sam's resolve finally broke and tears started streaming down her flawless face, soaking his shirt as he murmured "I love you Sam Carter."

They remained this way for what seemed like an incalculable amount of time before he finally pulled away from her. "You know," he muttered resignedly as he wiped her tear-stained cheeks with the pad of his thumb "This can't change anything."

"I know." She whispered back, leaning her face into his hand, revelling at the illicit contact. "But at least we know the truth now."

Jack smiled as he stood up, resolutely ignoring the pain that once again attacked his legs. "So what do you want to do now?" he asked.

Sam thought for a moment, then almost bought her Colonel back to his knees with one of the brightest smiles he had ever seen.

"Well, Daniel and I made a discovery." She said as she turned and started walking back to the campfire. "In fact, I think it may be the scientific breakthrough of the year."

"Oh yeah?" Jack said disinterestedly as moved to catch up with her, already having tuned out at the word 'Scientific."

"Yeah." She replied, encouragingly. "Wait 'till you taste it..."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

General Hammond walked into the briefing room and took his place at the head of the conference table.

"Good afternoon people." He began, regarding each member of SG-1 in turn. "I won't keep you long as I know you just returned yesterday, but SG-15 have brought to my attention some information on P4X-639 which I believe may be of great interest to both Major Carter and Doctor Jackson."

Jack groaned unabashedly at the prospect of another planet with nothing to do but look at rocks and soil all day, but Daniel's interest was already piqued. "Can you be a little more specific, General?" he asked, trying to contain his excitement.

"The details are in your briefing packs." The General answered as he indicated towards the blue folders marked 'Top Secret' placed in front of each team member. "But I will tell you that there is an archaeologist named Malakai who is currently studying the device on the planet, and he is apparently very much looking forward to meeting you."

Hammond stoically ignored the Colonel's head dropping dramatically onto the tabletop as he continued. "He will apparently be there for some time to come, but there are also some weather anomalies that Major Carter would be interested in, and we don't know how long the planet will remain safe enough to visit."

The General stood and regarded his flagship team one last time. "Your briefing will be at 0700 hours tomorrow, and you leave at fifteen hundred. I suggest you get some rest. It's gonna be a long day Colonel."

The End.