Title: Flight Author: Ted Sadler Rating: PG-15 Category: Romance, Action/Adventure Warnings: sexual situations Pairings: Sam/Jack

With thanks to Sally Murphy for inspiration and writing a part.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

Copyright (c) 2002, 2003 Ted Sadler
Flight

"What do you mean, that's not allowed?" said Jonas, looking back from his laptop. "They asked me to check on the security of the filing system, so what's wrong with actually reading the files? Particularly the ones that concern ourselves."

"It's just not right." replied Sam, standing behind him. "Besides, we might see things that would be uncomfortable to live with." But she couldn't deny the feeling of intense curiosity that swept through her.

"Did you know that General Hammond ordered Teal'c to make regular progress reports on SG-1 two years ago?" continued Jonas, unabashed. "And he's done that every quarter. Teal'c has been a soldier and commander for longer than the rest of SG-1 put together, so you can see how the General would value his opinion. Do you realise that the Colonel and the General intend for you to take command of SG-1 soon?"

Sam's immediate reaction was to protest at taking any further steps down this road, but Jonas' next words were like a jolt of electricity.

"The Colonel's on his way out sooner than he thinks, anyway." He took a deep breath and decided to force the pace of things a little. "And when he's gone, Sam, I was hoping that you and I could, well, find ourselves in a situation where we could get to know each other a little better. Or a lot better, eventually."

Sam stepped back in shock. She thought she'd been so careful about concealing any looks, or other hints that she cared for Jack 'more than she was supposed to'. She had been very vigilant, and wondered sometimes whether Jack himself had seen the rare signals. Jonas seemed to have picked up on them, though.

She liked Jonas, and felt sorry that he was alone, cut off from his family on his own world, and with only SG-1 as close friends. But she had noticed the change in the young man's behaviour towards her since an old lady had mistaken them for a couple, and she had held his hand briefly to stop him revealing the truth of their mission. But she couldn't bring herself to smash his hopes or trample on his feelings just like that, and took the obvious course of action.

"OK, so show me one of Teal'c's reports, then." she replied in a firm voice. Jonas moved and clicked the mouse a few times, and the page appeared.

"This one was written after our last encounter with the Replicators." said Jonas. Sam skipped over the headings to the main text.

'For details of the encounter, see relevant mission report.

Observations on SG-1 team status:

Colonel O'NEILL.

O'NEILL's continuing leadership skills remain undiminished. He immediately grasped the means of containing the threat and ordered Major CARTER to re-set the timer to prevent any escape of the enemy. However, post-mission, he as usual allowed the other team members to fully express their opinions and feelings and took it upon himself to shoulder any guilt they may have felt. He is alone among the SG team commanders in allowing such behaviour in subordinates. I fear that his recent torture by the GOA'ULD is beginning to leave him mentally unprepared to continue to carry the feelings of others to this extent.

Major CARTER

CARTER displayed her usual technical brilliance and the mission success was mainly due to her actions. She overcame a slight emotional attachment to the humanoid REPLICATOR (as a result of the sincerity he/it displayed) when O'NEILL ordered her to shorten the timer delay. Post-mission she continued to feel guilty over what she perceived as deceit, but eventually saw the situation in its true perspective, with O'NEILL's help. I believe she will have to face up to taking decisions like this in a more detached manner in future, if she is to command a unit.

Jonas QUINN

QUINN is a brave, headstrong individual who will in time become a formidable asset to the SGC in a scientific role. We can, for the time being, excuse his emotional outbursts because of his relative youth and inexperience. He remains a little afraid of O'NEILL but wants to become accepted by him. I hope that his fear does not turn into negative feelings.

I remain proud and honoured to call them my friends.

Teal'c.'

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Seeing that she had finished reading, Jonas clicked on another file named 'O'Neill - Carter - Security'.

'From: NID HQ Commandant's Office To: HAMMOND G., General, CO SGC Subject: O'NEILL, J. & CARTER, S.: Security Concerns

As we instructed you at our recent meeting, you are required to take action to contain the potential security breaches resulting from the past and present actions of O'NEILL (see file NID/SGC/ON/426). You are authorized to take any or all of the following steps:

Substitution of his current course of anti-depressant drugs by a placebo to force a medical retirement. Offer immediate retirement in lieu of facing charges of insubordination. Placement on high-risk missions with little or no prospect of return.

We emphasize that TWEP will be the only option available if the threat to National Security that he represents cannot be neutralized by your actions.

You are also required to maintain surveillance of Major CARTER to ensure that any personal loyalty to O'NEILL does not lead to additional problems. TWEP is not an option that we take lightly, but we may have no choice but to apply it to all concerned if necessary.'

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The alarm bells ringing in Sam's head dictated her next actions. "Close the files, Jonas." she said. "Thank you for alerting me to them, but I really don't want to see any more. Make your security report, but don't mention me seeing them. Or yourself, for that matter. Now excuse me, I have some urgent matters to take care of." She started walking towards the door.

"I'll see you for dinner tonight, then." said Jonas. "Eight o'clock, like we arranged?"

"No, I'm sorry, but I won't be able to make it." replied Sam, hurriedly. "I have a report to deliver."

"Tomorrow, then?"

"No, sorry, I'll be too busy for a while." she lied, exiting the door and heading straight for her own laboratory. Jonas stared wistfully after her.

She collected a small electrical device from a cupboard, found her personal CD player in a drawer and placed the device inside it. After closing down her computer and changing into street clothes in the locker room, she left the SGC and drove to Colorado Springs. Three hours later, in the early evening, she walked up to the Colonel's house and rang the doorbell.

"Carter!" exclaimed Jack. "This is a pleasant sur..."

"Good evening, sir!" interrupted Sam. "You asked me to bring the report over tonight, remember?" She pushed past him and walked straight into his lounge, taking out her CD player and placing it on the coffee table. Jack closed the door, followed her in and saw her push a button on the player. He heard a very faint but persistent whistle. Black ops training had taught him what an anti-listening device was, so he phrased his first words carefully.

"Thank you, Major. I remember now. Hope it's not too inconvenient for you. I know you had a dinner engagement planned." Sam looked at him and saw the intenseness in his eyes. Just how much had Jonas been talking to him about her?

Sam deposited a sheaf of papers on the coffee table. Jack only had to glance at the front page title: "Gravitational Enhancement Properties of Object 2/13B from P4L-661" to know that this was also part of her cover story. She knew that the anti-listening device was good, but not perfect, so she hoped that he would take the hint to move the conversation to a safe location.

Jack immediately invited her not to miss out on dinner, and they called a cab to take them to a restaurant in a nearby shopping mall. He then called another cab from a public phone in the mall and they eventually arrived at a restaurant on the other side of town. Jack was sure that they hadn't been followed.

"Carter, what's up?" he said after they had ordered.

"What does TWEP mean, sir?"

Jack looked shocked. "What do you think it means, Sam? And how did you come across it?"

"Jonas was doing a security check on the computer files and showed me a couple of the reports. There was an NID memo about you and me being security threats, and General Hammond was being ordered to end your career by one means or another. It said that TWEP was an option. I have no idea what it means - 'Transfer with Early Pension'? But that doesn't sound right."

"It's an old CIA term." explained Jack. "Terminate With Extreme Prejudice. In other words, a car crash, a house fire, a boating accident or a bullet in the head. Any way you look at it you're dead. Meant for me if I don't respond correctly, I assume?"

"And me too, if I allow my *personal loyalty* to you to keep me from being a good soldier." said Sam. She reached into her handbag. "Oh, by the way, you should throw away all the drugs you've been given from the infirmary. They've probably switched them for chalk powder or something. I got you a few months supply of Prozac from three different drugstores earlier." She passed across the paper bags and he stuffed them into his coat pockets. "I'm assuming that you're still recovering from what Ba'al did, but you've got something else now to help you get over it."

Jack realised that she had crossed a very substantial line to help him, and looked up at her, a lump in his throat. "What's that?"

"Me." replied Sam, staring into his eyes. "I realised when I saw the memo that you mean more to me now than when we were in that room together. But we got so good at pretending, I was beginning to think you didn't feel the same way any more. But even if you don't, I'm not going to stand by and see them do this to you."

"God, Sam, I thought you and Jonas were getting close, so I kept away. I just wanted you to be happy." He paused, and continued "You really would be better off keeping well away from me now. Your career.."

Sam reached across the table, took his hand in both of hers, and said quietly, "I'm in love with you Jack. My career won't mean that much any more if you're not around." She couldn't help the tears that started to run slowly down her cheeks.

Jack lifted up her hands and placed his lips gently on them. He smiled. "You've got to be tough to come with me now. There's no hiding place for me on this world, and a hell of a long way to go to find somewhere safe. But if that's what you want, I'll never give you cause to doubt me. I've already been in love with you for four years, five months and er, ten days. Are you really sure?"

Sam just smiled back and nodded her head.

"Can I serve your soup now, folks?" enquired the waiter, who had been standing back to catch them at the right moment. "Oh, and by the way, we serve free champagne for engagements."

The rest of the evening was spent quietly planning their next steps - indeed their new life. Sam was surprised to learn that Jack had prepared a personal escape route and refined it over the years - another result of time in black ops, she supposed.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Events happened fast the next day. SG-1 was scheduled only to retrieve a MALP that was to be sent through the Stargate as part of Sam's wormhole stabilisation test program. In the very early hours, Sam and Jack had arrived separately on base, and she disabled a security camera in the assembly area. They quickly loaded the MALP's compartments with field rations, a compass, a sextant and other survival essentials.

When the time came to fetch the MALP, no-one suspected how events would unfold. Sam's heart was hammering so hard as they stood by the ramp, she felt sure that they would be stopped at any moment. Jack looked bored and impassive as usual, so she tried hard to copy his expression. Then finally, SG-1 calmly walked through the Event Horizon and seconds later, the wormhole closed.

Teal'c was surprised to hear the sound of a Zat gun discharging as he examined the MALP on the distant planet. He looked round and saw Jonas laying in a crumpled heap, with Jack standing over him, the gun still in his hand. Sam stood behind him, not moving.

"O'Neill!" cried Teal'c. "What have you done?"

Jack replaced his gun in its holster and turned to face his friend. "Teal'c, old buddy, do you remember when I told you that one day I might have to disappear suddenly, to where the NID couldn't find me?" Teal'c nodded. "Well, today's the day, and Sam is coming with me. It's that, or a life of hiding on Earth. At least out here we can be free and still fight the Goa'uld if we're needed."

"I suspected that such a time was upon you." replied Teal'c. "NID agents have been particularly active in asking questions about the two of you recently. It is not too soon to leave. I will miss both of you greatly; you have been the closest, truest friends of my life." He bowed his head and grasped Jack's arm in a firm farewell gesture, and shared a long hug with Sam.

"Leave a message with the Asgard when you feel it's safe to contact us." said Jack. "Now, you know what to do? Got your story straight? Look after Jonas when you get back to the SGC, and stay away from the Gate Room on December 25, like we discussed before, OK?"

Teal'c nodded his understanding and agreement, and stood stoically as Jack zatted him into unconsciousness beside Jonas. Then quickly, they turned the MALP, Sam dialled another Gate address and they passed through the new wormhole, Jack steering the machine and Sam following. They repeated this procedure another six times before arriving at their final destination.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

Their new 'home' was two days walk from the Stargate, on a lush green planet orbiting the star Epsilon Eridani. Jack had told Sam how the Asgard had responded to his plea for help, not long after they first became indebted to him. They had formed a dwelling for him in the side of a hill overlooking a large plain, on a protected planet unknown to the Goa'uld. Jack had not seen the place, but had been assured that it would be equipped to support human needs.

As they walked up the final hill, Sam caught sight of a metallic window frame protruding slightly from the slope, below a rocky outcrop. After spending last night sleeping in Jack's arms in a tent, Sam wondered just how strange their first real night together would be. Would there even be a bed?

Jack soon found the door, which was activated by his palm print on an adjacent panel. He surprised Sam by lifting her suddenly off her feet and carrying her across the threshold. "I know we're not married, and the realtor who sold me this house was a little strange," said Jack, "but welcome home, Sam!" She laughed and kissed him hard before he put her down.

To Jack's surprise, his description to the Asgard of what a house interior should look like had been followed fairly closely. Except of course, just like the SGC, everything was coloured a dull grey. Sam's cry of delight when she found a workshop at the back, equipped with various tools and an Asgard computer terminal, removed one of Jack's worries about how well she would accept her new circumstances.

After finding out how things worked, and adjusting the heating to a comfortable level, they ate and relaxed.

"Jack, stop asking if I've got any regrets." said Sam. "You're not the only lucky one to be here, you know. I've got you just as much as you've got me. Sure I'll miss people at home, but staying was no option. One day we'll see them again."

"Sorry, Wilma." said Jack. "Coming to bed now?"

"I thought you'd never ask, Fred." she replied.

After the years of tension between them and the rush of recent events, there was hardly a chance that their first time together would be spectacular, and so it proved. It was in turn, embarrassing, amusing, exploratory, and fun and over rather quickly, but for all that a fond memory that neither would forget, ever. However the second time was much more satisfying and the third really quite intense.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

The Asgard communicator in Sam's workshop (it had quickly become *her* workshop) sprang into life and the familiar alien image appeared.

"Major Carter, I am surprised but very pleased to see that you are with Colonel O'Neill." said Thor. "Is he there?"

"Just coming!" called Jack, entering the room. He stood behind her and placed an arm around her shoulders.

"It is now time to carry out the final part of your original request." stated Thor. "I just wish to check that temporarily closing down the Earth Stargate is still what you want to happen."

"Yes, it is." replied Jack. "Sam and I agree on this. All the while access to Earth remains in the hands of a small, secretive power group, there is always a risk of unjust actions and untold consequences in dealing with other planets. It's not just to stop them looking for us. I hope that this will force them to make the Stargate public knowledge on Earth."

"The Asgard High Council concurs, O'Neill. Watch the screen."

They saw an Asgard ship drop an active Stargate into the ocean, followed by a few metal canisters. The view switched to an underwater camera chasing the glowing ring down into a deep chasm on the sea bed. As it descended, the flow of sea water through the event horizon increased as the pressure rose to unimaginable levels. The metal canisters followed it down and split open, discharging tonnes of metal foil strips and powder into the wormhole. 'Tinsel', Jack had called it. 'Our Christmas present to the NID'.

In the SGC control room, the only two people present at 3am on Christmas morning looked up in alarm as jets of water suddenly appeared all round the edge of the closed iris. Before they had time to sound the alarm or close the blast doors, they saw the iris bulge inwards and a solid jet of water appear through the widening hole in the centre. The speed of the jet increased almost instantly to shatter the control room windows, and they ran for the rear emergency exit. Soon, metal strips and powder added to the damage that salt water was already doing, and shorted out all the electrical equipment it came into contact with. The level was completely filled within moments, but the water's progress was slower to the higher floors as it found its way up all the stairs, elevator shafts and service access tunnels.

By the time the wormhole closed 38 minutes later, the whole of Cheyenne Mountain was flooded from the basement through to level 17. It would take months to pump it out and salvage what they could. And there was no way that news of such an event could be kept completely out of the public eye.

Jack had deliberately chosen this date for the action, to minimise casualties in the almost-deserted base. He knew also that they probably wouldn't risk placing the Stargate in such a vulnerable location again.

He felt bad about doing it for a while, but the emotion disappeared when he and Sam started travelling through the Stargate again, making contact with trusted friends in other races, and seeking out Jacob Carter. Life was never going to be dull, as their children would fondly remember in later life.

But that's another story..