Under Alien Stars

I wrote this for fun. I made no money and I know that these characters do not belong to me. Feedback is always welcome.

Feint to the left and dance just out of his reach - duck and dive.

"Com'on - Dance Carter -keep the bastard busy. Don't let him near you." O'Neil was shouting encouragement. He was distracted, however, scanning distant hills and waiting for his chance.

Surrounded by hooting and jeering Jaffa all "egging on" her cocky young opponent-, Major Samantha Carter played desperately for time. The dust stirred up by their feet clogged her nostrils and caught at the back of her dry throat. Out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of Jack O'Neil and Daniel, kneeling shackled in the dirt. All three were waiting, - praying - that Teal'c was out there, waiting for the right moment to mount a rescue - to spring a distraction.

Sokar's Jaffa had underestimated her - her guard had been distracted - watching the sport his superiors were having with the Colonel and Daniel. O'Neil shouting insults as they stripped them of their gear and put the shackles on - the Jaffa using him as a punching bag while holding Daniel at bay with a charged staff weapon. Sam had been standing to one side - almost forgotten. A mere female restrained with only a hand on her shoulder. She had grabbed the opportunity provided by O'Neil's rebellion. She dodged away from her young captor, playing "keep away" with the enraged young Jaffa. She had taken a page from O'Neil's book - taunting and insulting the Jaffa, she raised her hands in defensive posture, danced around him - grinning broadly and daring him to take her on. The remaining Jaffa, now bored with subduing O'Neil, had taken in the scene- the Tau'ri female making sport with the cocky young "kid". The Jaffa had surrounded two fighters - shouting insults and encouragement at the young Jaffa.

Carter danced and dazzled, rolled and feinted, putting all her work out sessions with Teal'c into play as she anticipated the Jaffa moves and drove the junior Jaffa to distraction with her taunts. But the leader of the Jaffa patrol grew impatient for the circus to end. He stepped forward and shoved her roughly into the centre. She stumbled head long towards the youngster, putting out her hands to break her fall. She lay face down in the dust. The Jaffa paused for effect before pulling back his foot for a vicious kick to her rib cage.

The Jaffa was a young giant who far outmatched the Tau'ri, but Samantha Carter put his arrogance to her own use. She rolled to one side and grabbed his foot, using his momentum to throw him off balance. As he went down she rose and rammed her knee into his crotch. She leapt on the fallen Jaffa's back and rammed his elbow upwards at a very unnatural angle. To his credit, the Jaffa made no sound, but writhed face down on the ground in pain, trying to dislodge his tormentor.

There was stunned silence from the watching Jaffa. Daniel broke into wild cheering and was immediately silenced by a rap on the head with a staff weapon. O'Neil was still scanning the hills, watching for Teal'c. There was a roar as the older Jaffa - the leader of this particular group - leapt forward and dragged Carter from the fallen man - hurling her to her hands and knees. He forced her head back, hand clenched in her hair - and slapped her full in the face. She tasted blood as her head snapped back.

"Hey, she won fair and square, bozo!" O'Neill broke his silence, trying to distract Jaffa attention from his second in command. The Jaffa guarding Jack cuffed him silent. The lead Jaffa ignored Jack and waved the ring of Jaffa back as he released Sam. He stepped back and raised his hands, making it obvious that he was taking up the challenge. Samantha slowly stood, absently brushing the hair from her eyes. There was a moment of silence broken only by the sounds of the vanquished young Jaffa stumbling from the field - a moment of silence in which Sam assessed her situation. She had bought them some time but she was unlikely to keep this bastard busy for very long. And this Jaffa looked like he wanted to make an example of this female Tau'ri. Where was Teal'c?

She raised her hands and danced away from the Jaffa who slowly circled, herding her to one end of the ring. A staff weapon rapped sharply on her shoulders from behind as she came too close to the ring of watching Jaffa. They jeered at her evasive dancing tactics. They wanted action. She twisted and spun away dancing backward as the Jaffa slowly stalked her. He roared as he charged - In a one-two punch he swung one massive fist at her head even as his other fist flashed towards her belly. She ducked away and watched for an opening. But he lashed out with one leg in a sweeping motion, almost knocking her from her feet. Carter was frantically back- pedalling as a Jaffa on the sidelines tripped her with his staff weapon. She fell on her back and found herself looking directly into the sun. She rolled, trying to guess his next move- but she misjudged. As did the Jaffa - his massive boot just grazed her side with a killing kick. Her ribs flared with pain, slowing her reactions as she leapt to her feet and ran. The wall of Jaffa moved in. She was forced to turn and face her opponent only to meet the full force of his fist. The blow hurled her into the wall of Jaffa. She heard someone yelling her name just as the Jaffa tossed her back at her tormentor. Dazed from the blow, she shook her head to clear the blood dripping into her left eye and raised her fists in defiance. She stumbled away, feinting and ducking as best she could. She spun and aimed a kick up and out at his belly, ignoring her screaming ribs. But he was so much bigger and faster. He turned aside as she kicked and grabbed her foot, twisting it and throwing her face down to the ground. She registered the pain in her ankle as she rolled desperately away. But he spat something in Gou'ld before he dropped on top of her - one knee driving into her stomach. His hand was at her chin, tilting her head further back in an attempt to drive her into the ground. She tried to arch her body as she lay beneath him, gasping painfully for breath as he ground his knee into her stomach and pushed her head slowly backwards. All the while she gripped his arm in a futile attempt to push him away. She was blacking out; staring in the face of the Jaffa; hearing Daniel calling her name and O'Neil shouting.something. Her grip on his arm loosened. One hand dropped slowly to the ground and then the other.

A hot sun had shone down on the settling dust, the hard light glinting from Jaffa armour and Jaffa weapons. But Daniel had seen only the fallen woman - how the light fell on her blonde hair. The Jaffa had never ceased jeering and taunting but Daniel heard only her ragged gasps for air.

The Jaffa stared down at her, slowly increasing the pressure, his face impassive as he ground her slowly into the ground.

The world chose that moment to erupt in flame and thunder.

************

As the first death gliders swept in low over the horizon, ripping smoking holes in the ground and Jaffa alike - all hell broke lose. O'Neil stood, pivoted and ripped the staff weapon from the Jaffa behind him firing the weapon and dropping the man even as his mouth opened in shock. Hands hampered by the shackles, O'Neil managed to toss the staff weapon to Daniel as the Colonel avoided a staff blast. Daniel turned the weapon on his guard, and then on a second Jaffa as O'Neil rose and grabbed the dead Jaffa's weapon.

"O'Neil! We must leave immediately!" Daniel turned to see Teal'c running head long down the slope, blasting away Jaffa almost mechanically as he re- joined his team. "Yu is attacking Sokar's Jaffa!"

Jack could see hordes of Yu's Jaffa descending upon them. Oily black smoke and flames hid the battle - he could only catch glimpses of falling Jaffa but he could smell the burnt flesh and hear the screams and roars of fighting Jaffa. The death gliders were back and were pummelling the ground below with shock ordinance. SG-1 was covered in dirt and debris as a blast came very near to hitting them.

Crap.

"Jack, I'm going back for Sam!" Daniel shouted, heading right into the thick of the fighting. Jack grabbed him by the collar and hauled him back.

"Teal'c - dial us up - I'm going for Carter."

His eyes wild, Daniel started to argue "Jack -"

O'Neil cut him off "Daniel, I stand a better chance of finding her - go! Go with Teal'c! I'll find her - we'll catch up"

Teal'c nodded at Jack and took Daniel by the arm. Daniel turned, taking one more desperate look through the carnage and flames for Sam before he followed Teal'c in a mad dash for the nearby gate.

O'Neil, his hands still chained, grabbed a zat gun and ran forward. But the earth rose to meet him as a massive explosion threw him to the ground. Jack rolled, and rose to his feet - only to see the gate hit by glider fire. He saw Teal'c and Daniel disappear into the event horizon just as the DHD was blown to smithereens. In a rainbow of twisted metal and crystal the DHD rose slowly into the air and then shattered, falling in a thousand shining pieces to the ground.

O'Neil swore, took one more look behind him into the battle, before making the only decision he could make. He ran for the gate. He dove through the event horizon just as the blue puddle shimmered, winked, shimmered again and then disappeared.

The glider circled the gate, and then sailed low over the battling Jaffa - ready to blow the living to pieces.

****************** Sam Carter sat on the stargate steps staring at the smoking ruins of the DHD, running her hands through her grimy hair. Light from twin moons lit the stargate. The circle shone in the soft light - scorched but still intact. The night burned around her - burning bodies, burning death gliders and burning earth. Clouds of dark smoke drifted across the moons, throwing the gate into occasional dark relief.

She heard the Jaffa camped over the ridge. The sounds of a large war camp occasionally drowned out even the sounds of the flames. Celebrating victory. Would they wake and wonder to find themselves still alive after such a battle?

She was alone. No radio. No DHD. No team. The guys had made it. Of that she was certain.

She was hurt. Concussion - oh yeah, definitely. She tentatively touched the gash on her head. Bruised, maybe cracked ribs. Twisted ankle. Swollen eye. Bruises. Nothing she couldn't handle. She had found SG-1's discarded gear and weapons in the rubble and had salvaged what she could, including the medical supplies.

She sat back and put her cap back on, hiding her bright hair. She cradled her P-90 and checked for both her hand weapon and zat gun.

She had woken to fire, heat and smoke. She couldn't breath, someone pressing down on her chest. Confusion, screaming and the whine of weapon fire. Then she had slipped away again.

The second time she woke, about an hour ago, it was dark. It was cooler but she could hear flames and smell the burning bodies and scorched earth. She lay still and gathered her thoughts. She remembered.fighting the Jaffa. And then.he had died on top of her as a staff blast blew him away. His head had disintegrated, splattering her with blood, brains and bone. What was left had dropped directly onto her - the collar of his armour knocking her senseless as it struck her head.

Died on top of her. Blown to pieces. Damn.

She mentally changed gears.

She looked again to the sky. Her father had taught her long ago how to navigate by the stars. But these were alien skies and there was no North Star to see her home.

She stood and looked once more at the place where there should have been a DHD. It was now her job to survive. She couldn't afford to be found near the gate. She pulled her cap down over her head and headed out to find a safe place to hide until her team came for her. Because they would come for her. No one was left behind.

*****************

Siler looked up from his repairs to the MALP and at the general's office. He shook his head. Boy- shit sure was flying tonight.

"With due respect sir - What the hell does that mean?"

"I repeat, Jack, we cannot go back. Earth cannot afford to get caught in a battle between Yu and Sokar. Yu may not be an ally, but we cannot risk making him an enemy or ourselves his target."

Daniel cut in before Jack could say what was so obviously on his mind - "but general, we can send a MALP to assess the situation. If the situation looks clear, two teams could go through - a team could bring a naquadah generator and gear up the gate while we look for Sam. Yu may never know we were there."

"We have been over this, Dr. Jackson. There is to be no SGC presence on that planet."

"I will not leave a member of my team behind-" General Hammond made to reply but Jack was on a roll and would not be silenced this time. "- because some Gou'ld might be *upset* if we trespass!!! .."

"Enough, all of you! The pentagon- the president -has spoken." Softly "We don't even know if she is still alive, son."

Jack wheeled away and stormed from the room without leave.

"General, I would like permission to contact the Tok'ra and the Asgaard - they may be able to help." Daniel spoke calmly, almost casually but he was very aware how much depended upon this request.

"Go ahead - but no member of the SGC is to step foot on that planet."

****************

She had travelled down the gully, crossed the creek and had walked into a stand of Douglas Fir. Someday she would take the time to find out how so many planets had been terra-formed. She slapped at her neck - Right down to the mosquitoes. The shrubs had been too dense to allow travel at night. She had curled up in a dense stand of salal and dozed fitfully until dawn. In the morning light she had found a wildlife trail that led her to a ridge above a small village.

There had been no activity in the settlement for a half hour. The only sign of life was two small goats standing in the doorway of the nearest house.

She had hoped to find a possible source of shelter or even help. Instead, she had found hell.

Carter had seen war. She had done her share of killing. And had blocked the worst out. But today she walked past charcoaled bodies seized in flight, in moments of terror. Flight from Sokar's Jaffa. The oily smell of burnt bodies filled her nose, bringing bile to her throat, eating at the back of her throat. But this, this charnal house was the worst.

She fell to her knees and gently pulled the small cold body from her mother's arms. A child. Brown eyes still opened wide, covered now in a grey film. Small brown arms still reaching out. Carter's shoulders shook and then she flung her head back, her face skyward. She keened to the sky - a thin wail that carried all the horror, betrayal and death of that place to the soft morning sky. A mother had died. Frozen in fire - remaining as a charcoal statue. She had died still trying to protect her small daughter. The child had slowly died beneath her mother, waiting for the love and food that was her right.

The sobs rent from her chest left her throat raw. Tears ran down her soot- stained face leaving pale glistening trails in their wake. She mourned for all the innocents of universe. For the betrayed, the bereft and the lost. For all those who would never find their way home. Some say evil does not exist. But Sam Carter knew better. There was a great gaping maw that swallowed beauty and regurgitated it and twisted it into some grinning parody of hope. And smiled as it did so. War.

Sam rocked on her knees until she could cry no more. She raised her eyes to the rising sun and struggled to her feet - for the child, for all the children. For herself. She gently lay the child by her mother. And then one lone soldier got to her feet and walked out into the morning light.

***********

Jakob was livid. So livid he couldn't speak. But neither would he let Selmak speak. Jack had not thought the old general could be so angry.

Finally Jakob sputtered "the Tok'ra - Selmak included- will lift no finger to help her Jack. Not a finger."

Jack rested his head on his folded hands. They were seated at the briefing table alone.

Jakob looked close to tears. Jack did not know how to respond.

"SGC will not go after her either Jakob. She's on her own."

"The Tok'ra will not risk any of their operatives to bring her out. None. No life is worth the risk -"

The words went unsaid - "not even Sam's."

Jakob bowed his head, no longer able to hide his grief, or his tears.

Jack O'Neil reached over and grabbed the Tok'ra's hand, squeezing it. There were no tears in his own eyes, just a piece rent from his heart where Sam Carter should be. And a crippling guilt.

A commander who felt he had failed his team, forced to sit by while one of his own died alone on an alien planet and an old soldier unable to save his daughter sat in silence waiting for a miracle.

************** Carter found herself the prey. The Jaffa were on her trail and in evading them, she had moved ever further from the stargate.

Now she stood on a dry knoll that had little ground vegetation, surrounded by a few tall Yellow Pine. It was far too open here. She had to find a place to hide. She made her way back to a small windfall of Lodgepole Pine. Nothing passed through these downed dead trees willingly. Deer could break a leg in this stuff. It was a dense maze of small fallen trees that lay about a foot or so above the ground for a good quarter mile. It was a last ditch stand, but if she could crawl beneath this thick canopy of "pick up sticks" trunks and branches, she might evade capture. She fell to her belly and crawled forward, pulling her backpack behind. Oh crap. Dead pine needles in her hair, under her collar and down her pants. Was nothing easy? Finally she made it about ten feet in and away from the rock face where she had entered the maze. They would follow the trail that wove through this mess, and wouldn't think of making their way along the rock face, would they? She prayed they wouldn't sense the naquadah in her blood.

Sam Carter lay on the ground, staring up at the small sparks of light filtering through the twigs and branches. She listened to all the small sounds of the forest. Cicadas droned in the heat and a squirrel chattered in the distance. The squirrel became even more agitated. And then she heard them. The earth shook from Jaffa feet. The distinctive clank of metal - Jaffa armour and Jaffa feet. They made no attempt at silence. They were planning on driving her on in panic.

Think again boys.

The marching stopped. Silence that stretched on for what seemed like hours. And then a voice boomed very close by:

"Tau'ri - come out and you will not be harmed."

More silence as she held her breathe, waiting. For what? To be dragged out by Jaffa? There was nowhere to run, even if it were possible to run in this crap. Trapped like a rabbit in a warren. Bad idea Carter.

"Major Carter - this is your last chance - surrender."

They knew who she was. She closed her eyes. No doubt they wanted something from her. Something she was not willing to give. Well, they were going to have to come in after her and she wouldn't go without a fight.

Then she heard the flames and smelt the smoke. They were going to burn her out - or burn her alive.

Carter grabbed her zat and burst from the dead, piled mat of trees where she'd taken refuge, planning on taking as many Jaffa as possible with her before she died.

But they were ready for her. A zat blast threw her backwards, leaving her lying in a crumpled heap among the branches.

***************** "The Asgaard have suggested asking Yu to find Sam. I think it is worth a try, General. The Asgaard are willing to act as mediators under the treaty and relay our request"

General Hammond was lost in thought. Daniel held his breath.

"Go ahead son. And Dr Jackson?" The younger man paused on his way out "Good work".

The door closed behind him as Daniel sprinted down the hall to relay the request to the Asgaard and to let Jack and Teal'c know about the success of his plea to the General.

General Hammond sighed and walked over to the window over looking the stargate. There were days when he hated his job and wondered whether it was worth the toll it took on his soul. Personally, there was little he would not give to bring Samantha Carter home. Anything but the security of his planet. Sometimes he felt like he'd made a deal with the devil when he'd accepted command of this facility.

*********** Her hands were shackled above her head to a camp cot. She had been placed under Jaffa guard in this tent after hours of a forced march. The candlelight had lulled her into an exhausted sleep. She woke to find a tall man staring down at her. He placed his hand on her forehead, and then peered into her eyes as he drew her eyelids back. Her vision was blurred with exhaustion and she couldn't read his expression in the flickering candlelight, but she knew that this man was a doctor, or at least a medic. He probably treated the human slaves and soldiers attached to Yu. It was Yu's Jaffa who had taken her prisoner.

He moved further into the light, and sat on the cot beside her. She started and moved further back on the bed. She bit back a yelp at the pain the sudden movement cost her. "Doc" gently pushed her back on the bed, moved her jacket aside and lifted her shirt, all the while holding her gaze and letting her know he meant no harm. She bit her lip as he prodded her ribs. His touch became much more gentle as he explored the injured bones. He then deftly bound her ribs in a way she hadn't been able to manage on her own and re-wrapped her ankle. The fall of the dying Jaffa had left quite a wound on her head, apparently, for "Doc" spent quite a while cleaning and bandaging the cut. He turned her head to better examine her swollen eye. He clucked his tongue and pulled out a small vial and carefully lifted her head to help her drink. Sam refused the drink. She appreciated his care, but had absolutely no intention of drinking any potions. He spoke soothingly, obviously trying to convince her to take the medicine, but did not force the liquid on her. He covered her with a blanket before he left. Sam threw a small smile his way as he left, disappearing into the night.

She awoke in a dark tent to a hand held over her mouth. A young woman dressed in a beautiful embroidered silk jacket knelt by her cot. "shhh.I am a friend. Just listen." The woman removed her hand, and paused, making sure that no one could overhear. The Jaffa guard was nowhere to be seen. A shackled, sleeping Tau'ri woman was apparently not worth guarding.

"I am Tok'ra. My name is Telnar. Tomorrow you will be taken to meet Lord Yu. I come to warn you that while he is not your friend, he has no reason to be your enemy. The Tau'ri asked the Asgaard to contact Yu. He was asked to find you and has reason to see you returned to your own planet. Answer all you know about Sokar. He must not think you are a spy for Sokar."

This was all very surreal. "How do I know you are Tok'ra?" Sam whispered.

"I knew Jolinar of Malkshur. I honour her memory. I also know your father, Jakob and his symbiote Selmak."

"But - "

"Sleep now - there is little time and I must not be found here. " The woman melted into the night.

Telnar made her way back to her master's tent. Her heart, and that of her symbiote, was torn. She had been sent by the high council to kill the Tau'ri should it appear that Jolinar's memories would fall into Gou' ld hands. But this Tok'ra walked a fine line. She truly believed that Yu would release the Tau'ri tomorrow. And she had told the truth. She had been a friend of Jolinar. Telnar had no wish to see the young human die needlessly. The Tok'ra high council had made a poor decision, as witnessed by the need to keep Selmak ignorant of the possible assassination of Sam Carter. Any mission requiring secrecy from fellow Tok'ra bode no good. Telnar knew of SG-1 and the Tau'ri resistance to the Gou'ld. She would not kill such an honourable ally. Especially when Jolinar had died to save her.

Sam Carter slept on, oblivious to the political wrangling among several races on several planets surrounding her fate.

********** Lord Yu looked down from his throne at the Tau'ri female kneeling before him. Kneeling was not quite the right word. She had been forced to her knees, but her attitude was certainly not subservient. She was dirty, unkempt, and not a little tattered. Her face was bruised, her head bandaged and she held herself stiffly, as if nursing an injury.

He nodded to the guards to remove her cuffs and then dismissed them. They were alone.

Sam rubbed her wrists where the cuffs had chaffed, and slowly stood as Lord Yu nodded his permission for her to stand.

"It seems you are a valuable commodity, Major Carter."

The woman merely nodded. There was no disrespect, just a self-confidence and lack of fear that the old Gou'ld had never seen in his human slaves.

He continued "The Asgaard asked that I find you. It seems, however, that you did not want to be found."

She smiled, but the smile did not touch her eyes. "I have learnt by experience to avoid pursuit by Jaffa, Lord Yu."

He leant forward "And why were you on this planet. My planet"

Oh boy. Be careful here. She had decided to trust the Tok'ra, and to be frank with Yu, but she wanted to give away no information dangerous to earth. "We were exploring. We ran into Sokar's Jaffa and were captured."

He stared impassively. The woman could be a spy. "But you were left behind when your team escaped?"

She nodded. "I was unconscious when they went through the stargate. The DHD was destroyed and I was stranded."

Lord Yu began to fire questions at her - all concerning Sokar. She answered as truthfully as she could. Finally the old Gou'ld sat back in his chair and closed his eyes. He clapped his hands. The Jaffa entered and stood on either side of Samantha Carter.

"Take her to the rings". He nodded in dismissal. He expected no response from her, but she could see the speculation in his eyes. Lord Yu was now very aware of Earth. Somehow that was not good.

************* Sam waited where the rings had dropped her. Another alien planet. There was no point in hiding. Either a MALP would come out to find her. Or it wouldn't. Either there were hostiles or there weren't. She was stranded and defenceless, needing a way home. So she sat and waited in a pleasant meadow in a warm afternoon sun by the stargate.

The gate spun into life, locking into each of seven coordinates. Each lock seemed to take an eternity as she watched, holding her breath as the whoosh broke from the giant ring. Slowly a MALP emerged from the event horizon and trundled to a stop on the gate ramp.

*********

The Asgaard had said very little when they sent the coordinates to the SGC. Only that Lord Yu had said that he had sent Major Carter to this location. It could be a trap. But no one had even suggested they not send the MALP through. SG-1 and two SG teams were ready to go. They would bring her home. If there was no sign of hostiles. If she was there.

There was silence as the MALP transmitted an image. Trees and shrubs. More trees and shrubs. And then.a very scruffy and dirty figure stepped into view and waved at the camera. She wore head bandages that had been taped at a rakish angle. They made her look more like a pirate than anything else. Her face was bruised and one eye almost closed. But there she stood - undeniably Major Samantha Carter.

Colonel O'Neil broke the silence "Hey Carter. Need a ride home?" Sam broke into a broad grin matched only by his own. "Yes sir. I'm very glad to hear your voice." "Very good to see you too. Stay put Major. Don't move. We will be there in five to bring you home."

**************

six weeks later.

She leaned into the tight curve, and pulled the Indian onto the straight stretch. The motorcycle purred as she cranked the throttle - eating the miles of hot asphalt.

She felt great. Six weeks of down time had been good for her. She had spent time with her father, with Mark and with Janet and Cassie. And she'd even been allowed to play in her lab for the last two weeks.

She had done a lot of thinking in that time. She had mourned and she had rejoiced in being alive. She had come to treasure her life. And she was ready. Not just to do her job, but to take on all that it demanded of her. These were probably the best times of her life. These were the tales she would tell her children or other people's children. Someday she would watch their eyes grow wide with wonder at her stories.

And being a soldier? All the killing and loss? These were the fights worth fighting. Whether as a soldier, a scientist or a Tau'ri - she had to be part of the battle. She didn't know any other way.

And there was something else. Her team. A mere lover could never be as close to her heart as these three men. They owned a piece of her no one else had earned. And she knew her place in their hearts. As for now? She had today, and today was well worth living. What was it that Cassie had once (or would) say to her? Your journey has just begun. Wasn't that the truth.

********* Jack O'Neil sat at a table nursing a scotch and waiting for his team to show up. They were back on the board on Monday and tonight they were just going to hang out before any Gou'ld shit (or any other kind of crap) hit the fan.

Teal'c had been off training Jaffa rebels; Daniel had been happily away at some dig or other ; he had been involved in off-world negotiations and had gotten some quality fishing time, and Carter.well, Carter had actually spent time away from the SGC.

He knew without looking when she walked in the door. A late afternoon sun shone gold in the doorway. It caught her hair in a halo of gold. She paused to let her eyes adjust to the light and then moved into the room. She was wearing brown bike leathers, jeans and a plain white T-shirt. There was a fey look to her tonight, as if she was not quite back with them. Maybe she was still out on that bike. His eyes drank in the sight as she strode into the room. Did she know the effect she had on a room as she entered? Oh, yeah. She knew. There was a challenge in those blue eyes. Innocent? You could drown in them before realizing just how much challenge those eyes really held. Heads turned her way. But they would never know. Could never know. They had never seen her take down a Jaffa in hand to hand combat; seen her tell a Gou'ld to go to hell; explain quantum physics for god's sake - or giggle at one of Cassie's jokes. Nope. They didn't stand a chance. As she walked up to the table, her eyes danced and held his for just a moment longer than necessary. She smiled. "Hello Colonel". "Hello Major." The moment was brief. But they both had recognized it for what it was. Things slipped back to normal. She was glad to see him, glad to be back in action. He was glad to see her well and home.

Teal'c and Danny breezed in, deep in a debate about the virtues of domestication and why so few terra-formed worlds had dogs. Or at least Daniel was debating. As they drew up seats and ordered their drinks, Sam broke out laughing. "Major?" O'Neil said as he finished off his drink. "Nothing really. I've just missed you guys." Daniel's smile warmed his eyes, but it was Teal'c who replied solemnly "You were greatly missed, Major Carter." She had been referring to their recent six weeks of down time, but as they all looked at her, Teal'c's real meaning, and the warmth of the general sentiment was clear. Sam smiled warmly, as only she could smile and simply said "It's good to be home."

Finis.