Title: Consequences

Author: Jodi Marie (Formerly ShooteM)

Email: ag4bk@juno.com

Rating: PG

Summary: Jack thinks he's lost Sam for good

Classification: BWC, S/J, UST, H/C

Spoilers: Tiny early ones, but it does take place in season seven.

Archive: Fanfiction.net, yes

Disclaimer: Stargate/SG-1 and the characters thereof are the property of MGM/UA, Gekko, and Double secret Productions. This was written for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands.

"Sometimes when I consider what tremendous consequences come from little things, I am tempted to think there are no little things."

-- Bruce Barton

For you can do whatever you want, but remember, it is also you who has to face the consequences of what you have done.

--Anonymous

Consequences

The past few days had been hell for Carter. Not only did she have to oversee a mundane project being constantly screwed up by some inept technicians, her own project wasn't working out like she planned. She might as well start over from the beginning; she'd made some basic assumptions that turned out to be wrong. Add to that she never did finish her report from the last mission and wasn't ready for the briefing she needed to give come Monday morning. Well at least it was Thursday, she had plenty of time to get her act together. That would be if O'Neill stayed out of her lab for more than a few minutes at a time. The man was a menace to anything that wasn't nailed down. She griped to herself that if he really respected her he'd leave her alone.

The soft rap at the door made her jump and she shook her head. Here we go, another round at the short-attention-span-theater. She was surprised to look up and see her father's face.

"You ready to go?"

"Huh? Go where?" Her mind rapidly shoved aside equations and probabilities and found the tidbit she'd lost. Mark's birthday was Saturday; they were supposed to go spend a nice four-day weekend at his place getting to know the kids and being a 'family'. Oh, crap, she thought, this thing was planned six weeks ago, how could she have forgotten?

"Oh, Dad, I'm so sorry, I forgot. I didn't even ask General Hammond for the time off."

"Don't worry about that, I just came from his office, we're good to go. He was a little surprised, but in the interest of international relations how could he say no?"

"International? You?"

"What else would you call it?" He grinned in that smug way only Jacob Carter could pull off. When she lowered her eyes to ponder the question he continued, "It's a rhetorical question, Sam, c'mon, I can't wait to see how the kids have grown."

Even though she was less than prepared to go she knew she'd regret it if she put up any fuss; besides since she was going to have to start her project all over again anyway, she figured she might as well start fresh on Monday morning. It didn't take long to close it all down and soon they were on their way out of the mountain.

After a quick run by her house to pack a bag they were off again.

Mark and his wife were overjoyed that the visit was actually happening and the kids were beside themselves. Of course Jacob took every opportunity to spoil them, more than once earning him a stern look from Mark. Sam found herself continually laughing or at least smiling at their behavior; she liked this 'family' thing.

Sunday afternoon found her sitting on the back porch sipping a cup of coffee and wondering if she'd really made the best decisions in her life or if she was just fooling herself. Who wouldn't want to be in her position? A great job, interesting and challenging, great people to spend time with, also at work, and if that wasn't enough, a great future to look forward to, again related to the job. She frowned as she recognized there was a trend here. The job, the job, the job. So when was it *not* about the job? And was it really so terrible if it *was* only about the job?"

She was yanked out of her reverie when a bright yellow spongy ball came sailing her way and bounced off the side of her head. She picked it up off the deck and tossed it back out to the kids in the yard. They squealed with delight as Jacob caught it and dangled it over their heads and just out of reach.

She sighed and walked back toward the house and slumped into an Adirondack chair, leaning back and closing her eyes. Her sister-in-law came outside and slid the glass door shut behind her with a soft whoosh.

She grinned at the scene in the back yard. Her daughter let loose with a particularly high-pitched scream and she shook her head. "You don't get much of that down in the bowels of Cheyenne Mountain do you?"

Sam smiled up at her. She liked Marcie, they woman was a perfect match for her brother; they had a hundred things in common yet were different enough to see issues from opposing sides; a quality that made their marriage as solid as a rock. "Yeah, no kids down there. Sometimes I think I'm really missing a lot of things while I'm down working in my lab."

Marcie eased herself into one of the chairs. "Do you ever think about having kids of your own someday?"

"Well, *someday*, sure. I guess."

"You'll make a great mom, I can tell. My kids adore you."

Sam looked out into the yard wistfully. In fact she had been thinking about having children and whether her career was worth giving up that hope indefinitely. "It's not possible for right now."

"Why not? Mark and I have friends who are in the military and juggle a family life. It may not be easy, but nothing is that's really worthwhile."

When Sam didn't respond Marcie decided to probe just a little deeper. She peered over the rim of her coffee cup. "So have you met anyone you could see yourself with for the rest of your life?"

The question seemed so innocent. Not are you dating anyone? Or, is it serious? Just a simple can you 'see' yourself with someone. Sam shouldn't have been surprised at all when her first thought was of O'Neill.

"So, there *is* someone."

Sam blushed. "No not really."

"You're a terrible liar. If it means anything I won't say a word to Mark or his Dad."

It was a tempting offer to be able to talk to someone freely about something so totally forbidden she couldn't even let the thought creep into her mind. Most of the time. "Okay, there is someone that I care about quite a bit, but he's off limits."

Marcie took a guess at the obvious reason. "He's married?"

"Oh, no, not that. It's more a military thing."

"The Air Force can tell you who you can and cannot be involved with?"

"Exactly."

"That doesn't sound right. What if you love him?"

The shadow that crossed Sam's face was all Marcie needed to see and her eyes narrowed. "You *do* love him, but you can't be with him because of some lame regulation." She blew out a snort. "Seems to me you've got two options, get over this guy and move on to someone you *can* have or get out and keep him."

Sam suddenly found the dregs in her coffee cup interesting. Marcie was right, she had to move on in her life; the question was would she move on with O'Neill or without him. She blinked back a tear and noticed a warm hand on her shoulder. "Honey, I'm sorry. That wasn't any of my business, but since I'm already butting in- if he cares for you at all, you owe it to each other to make a decision here. It's not fair to either of you."

Sam nodded quickly once and pressed her eyes tightly shut. The warm hand became two warm arms wrapped around her, "Just remember you don't have to make any earth-shattering decisions right now and if you ever need someone to talk to, you know where I am." She squeezed then released her grip.

From somewhere only mothers know Marcie produced a tissue and blotted at Sam's face. "Now, come on, help me get the kids in, it's almost time for you two to leave so we've got to get your Dad to give them up."

The rest of the afternoon went too quickly and soon Sam and Jacob were loading their things into a cab bound for the airport. Every time Sam caught Marcie's eye since their short conversation she'd returned her gaze with a knowing look. When Sam hugged her goodbye Marcie whispered into her ear; "Anytime, night or day."

On the plane ride back Jacob slept; it seemed two energy–laden youngsters were a match even for Selmac. It didn't bother Sam though; she was deep in her own thoughts. She decided she truly liked her job. Even so, when she considered where she'd be ten years down the road all she could see was a vast empty spot where the word 'family' should have been.

The trip home was quiet and after saying good-bye to her Dad she headed home. All that night she tossed and turned, trying to decide what to do.

Monday morning's briefing turned out to be delayed thanks to the unscheduled return of SG-4 with problems and concerns to be addressed. Carter gladly returned to her lab after being turned away from the briefing room. She couldn't believe she wasn't ready for the briefing; she'd been playing around all weekend and never got to finish her notes.

The rest of the week turned out to be only moderately productive. Her project proceeded like clockwork now that she'd worked out the bugs and by Friday noon she was done. Completely. Nothing to do. At all.

On a whim she asked Hammond if she could leave early and took off for home. She didn't really know what she was going to do once she got there but she'd figure something out. On the way she stopped by the local motorcycle shop to see if they ever got in those super hot spark plugs she liked.

The parking lot was full and she realized a meeting of some kind was going on. Instead of driving by, she pulled in.

"Hey Sam!" It was Joey, the proprietor of the establishment. "Long time no see! You're lookin' great! Come on, we're just getting' started." He pulled open the door of her Volvo and with a sweep of his arm invited her to join them.

The 'meeting' turned out to be laying out the route for a weekend road trip. Including wives and girlfriends there were about thirty people, all die-hard cyclists. They were going to ride all day Saturday, find a place to camp out for the night then head back by a different route Sunday. No fast rough riding, just the joy of the open road. They were currently discussing traffic patterns and just how to get as far away from civilization as they could.

"You know, route 30 is under construction, everybody's been avoiding like the plague since the road is so rough but a bike could handle it easily as long as nobody got overly enthusiastic on the bad spots. And they won't be working on it over the weekend.

A tall lanky man with a touch of silver at his temples leaned over the table. "And you are?"

She thrust out a hand but before she could introduce herself Joey stepped in. "Sam, meet Tony. We served together in the Gulf."

"Sam, is it?" Tony took her hand and smiled. "From this point on, don't believe anything Joey says about me."

She grinned, possibly for the first time in a week. "What do you think about route 30?"

He glanced at the map then back up at her. "Looks like a winner." He looked around the room, "Anybody else? Okay then, everybody back here at 0700, that's *seven A. M. * to those non-military types-" He winked at Sam, "so don't be late."

Joey elbowed Tony and whispered into his ear as the crowd dissipated. He actually looked like he flushed a little when his eyes met hers. While Joey was checking on the plugs Tony came over and spoke to her. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be a chauvinist jackass. Joey says you're a Major?"

She couldn't help but grin at him. "Air Force, Cheyenne."

"You do national defense stuff?"

"Uh, deep space radar telemetry, actually." Someday she was gonna come up with a better cover story.

"Yeah, right. By the way, I wasn't in combat in the Gulf; I was in Public Relations. I'm the guy who told the reporters what they could and could not say on the air."

She nodded once, still smiling.

"You ought to come with us, several of us are riding solo, you could take your pick."

"Actually I just might. But I'll bring my own ride, and tent." She giggled as he raised his hands in mock surrender. "Far be it from me to get between a woman and her bike."

The ride up to the mountains was glorious, the camaraderie around the campfire was relaxed and comfortable and by they time the group had polished off a few dozen hot dogs cooked on sticks over the campfire Sam was sorry the trip was only two days long. The only equations she'd thought about were engine compression ratios; no Naquadah, no wormholes, no 'c'mon Carter, think of something'. She felt completely rested and rejuvenated.

Monday morning came way to soon and during the briefing she was barely able to keep her mind on the subject, which was very unfortunate considering it was *she* who was giving the briefing in the first place. When O'Neill corrected her and was actually right, she knew she had to get her act together.

Afterward he had to rub it in a little. "So, Carter, long weekend? A little too much partying?"

"Sir," she groused, "No, I was out of town. I just didn't get enough sleep last night." For some reason she didn't want to tell him what she had been doing.

"Don't sweat it, everybody's entitled to an off day now and then, Hammond didn't even notice you were reading from the wrong file."

She jerked her head down and scowled. She had just gone over the statistics for the project that had failed, not the one she just finished last Friday. Luckily she had ad-libbed everything except the actual numbers so the most important information she gave them was accurate, in a round about way.

"Thank you Sir for pointing that out, I'll be sure to correct it at the next briefing. I really have to go." With that she swung around and stalked out of the room. 'Shit', she thought to herself as she went, 'he didn't deserve that.' For once her CO had revealed that he really did pay attention to her reports and she shut him down. "Crap. Stupid. Dammit." She punctuated every few steps all the way to her lab.

They had a mission off world the next day and were gone two nights, getting back early Thursday morning. Sam was behaving more or less like herself, when she was moody that is, so the guys all gave her a wide berth, especially O'Neill. She figured he must have told them it was 'that time' of the month but she didn't care. She didn't want to talk to any of them anyway. She finished her sample taking and soil analysis way before Daniel was done so most of the last afternoon she spent just walking around and enjoying the quiet planet.

It wasn't that far different than the scenery she took in on the road trip. She found herself thinking about the people she'd met and how much she liked all of them, especially Tony.

He was ex-military so he understood 'classified' and never pressed her to know what she *really* did in the mountain. He was smart, funny, and had a great bike. What wasn't to love?

She surprised herself to use *that* word in *that* context. Not love, no way, but intrigue, yes. When she got back she was going to pump Joey for some information.

When she got home Thursday evening there was a message flashing on her answering machine. "I hope you don't mind, I got Joey to rat you out for your phone number. He's way to easy, don't tell him I said that. He said you go out of town a lot so I don't know when you'll get this, but Friday night the group is getting together for some guitar pickin' and laughs out at the park on the north side of Petersen Base. I don't know the name but Joey said everybody knows where it is. Why don't you come on out and join us? I promise I won't be doing any of the singing. Hey, we're gonna grill up a mess of hot dogs so if you come BYOM, for the non-military around here that's Bring Your Own Mustard."

She grinned as the message ended. What a nut! The whole next day at work she couldn't stretch her attention span past three minutes. She was continually looking at the clock and counting down the time. It wouldn't do any good to leave early, the gathering wouldn't start until after dark most likely, so all she could do was bide her time until then. Even O'Neill coming and going several times throughout the day didn't keep her in her routine. He'd come in and watch her flit from one project to another then decide she *must* surely know what she was doing and leave, completely unaware that her actions were only a charade.

When she got to the park Tony was there sitting with a small group, not singing but he was playing a guitar with great finesse. When he saw her his face lit up. "Sam! You made it!"

He handed the guitar off to one of the others and greeted her warmly only to be surprised when she pressed a bottle of mustard into his hand. He looked at it and grinned. "Dijon Vu!"

She looked back at him oddly so he continued, "I think I've seen this somewhere before. Oh, here!" He pulled an identical yellow bottle out of his jacket and held it up with the one she'd given him.

She shook her head and grinned. "Do you guys ever eat anything else?"

"What? There's something wrong with Harley Steaks?"

The coals were ready and they were just opening the packages of wieners when two police cars showed up. The group was informed in no uncertain terms that the park *closed* at sunset. There would be no cookout tonight.

Since most of them had been there for a few hours already they just broke up instead of moving off somewhere else.

"So are you really hungry or did you just come for the dogs?"

"That and the singing." She drawled out the word 'singing' in her best hillbilly twang.

Tony grinned then looked down and scrubbed his toe in the dirt. "I, uh, know we really just met but, you want to go get something to eat with me?"

"I thought you'd never ask." With that she moved beside him and curled her arm up under his, "I know a great place with *real* steaks."

She didn't get in until 2 AM and promptly slept until noon. When she got up her message light was flashing again.

"Sam, it's me. If I'm being too forward tell me to shove off Okay? I'm a real Sci-fi buff and that new flick just opened in town. You want to go? I don't really want to do the whole dinner and a movie thing but if you'd like to go ring me back. Here's my cell number-"

She quickly jotted down the number on a pad. As she picked up the phone she paused. What was she doing? Dating? She set the phone down and stared out the window for a moment before picking it up again. So be it. Sam Carter was dating.

Over the next few weeks the 'dating' continued much to Carter's elation. She didn't stay late at work even once and was actually pushing for a speedy return home every time SG-1 went through the Gate. Her absence was not unnoticed by O'Neill who found himself increasingly bored. He hadn't realized until now just how much he enjoyed not knowing what Carter was doing but still being able to watch her do it.

He actually got his reports done. All of them. With bullet point summaries. Even Hammond was impressed.

Early the next week SG-1 was scheduled for a morning briefing. As O'Neill climbed the steps he could already hear Daniel and Sam talking. She was obviously very excited about the subject and was speaking with a lively tone in her voice about someone named Tony.

Daniel was responding to her. "But how do you keep the conversation going? I mean you can't talk about anything that goes on around here. I can't believe you have much in common with some biker."

"He's not *some* biker. He's a nice guy and he's ex-military, he doesn't push me."

O'Neill stood at the doorway and cleared his throat. Carter's mouth snapped shut and she lowered her eyes to the table. She knew this would happen. She had to confront it sooner or later; she just didn't expect to feel so guilty about it.

As soon as the briefing was over she moved directly into O'Neill's path and blocked his way to the door. "Sir. I need to speak with you about something."

"Of course." He turned back into the room.

"No, uh-" She reached out and barely touched his arm. "Not here. Maybe we could go somewhere?"

He turned and looked at her, not blinking. "We could go to the surface if you'd like. It *was* a beautiful morning when we came in."

She winced but nodded. All the better to be completely out of the complex. They walked side by side to the elevators and on up to the surface never breaking the silence. Once outside he turned around and faced her, "Carter?"

"Colonel." She looked away down the path. "Can we walk a while?"

He nodded and they moved away from the entrance, still walking side by side. The path was narrow enough their proximity made their shoulders brush occasionally but she barely noticed she was so intent on her explanation.

She started by talking about her visit to her brother's home and how she felt about seeing a real family in action. Her priorities had changed with those revelations she had that weekend; now she wanted more than just the 'job'. "It's not that it's not rewarding, it is, it always will be to me, but there's more to living than work. I just don't want to wake up ten years from now and wonder where the time went. Like life just passed me by while I was buried in my lab."

"The old 'biological clock' ticking away is it?" He didn't really mean to be snarky; it just came out that way. He was most surprised when she agreed.

"In fact, it is. I'm not getting any younger and that mountain will be there long after I'm gone." She proceeded to tell him about meeting Tony and how much fun she had just being herself again.

"You're always *yourself*, just sometimes a little preoccupied."

"Okay, poor choice of words. Since I've been spending time with Tony I feel- well, free, unfettered by rules and-" She paused to decide if she should really say it. "Regulations."

"Um, hmm." He shoved his hands in his pockets and took a step off the path facing away from her. The sun was breaking through the trees in patches and here it was warm and bright. "You're happy, right?"

"Yes, I am."

He jerked his head up and looked directly at her. "Good. Then I wish you well."

She frowned and shook her head. "I'm not going anywhere."

"Of, course not." As they looked into each other's eyes the truth was laid bare. She'd already left.

They left on a short six-hour mission the next day. O'Neill was in full military command mode the whole time and one would think he had a hot date waiting for him at home, or at least tickets to some sporting event.

After the umpteenth order barked in his direction Daniel had had enough. "What is it with you today? We're only gonna be here a few hours and we all know that! We're working as fast as we can. Back off, would you?"

O'Neill turned to counter the younger man's assault but suddenly stopped himself and stalked off, leaving the scientists to their work. "Jeez, did he get some bad news or something? He's been a bear all day."

Sam bit her lower lip and thought a moment before replying. "In a way, maybe he did. I talked to him about Tony."

'You're saying he's acting like this because he's jealous?"

"No. No. Not that." She was stammering. "It's just hard sometimes to put things behind you." As she spoke she realized she was speaking as much about herself as her CO.

The post-mission briefing was put off until the next day and as per her now usual routine Carter didn't hang around. O'Neill was bored; Daniel was still pissed at him and even Teal'c had somehow managed to make himself scarce. So, O'Neill headed for home, knowing he'd be just as bored there; at least he had something to look forward to; after going over their last mission they'd be prepping up for a new one right away. He'd already looked over the preliminary MALP surveys and knew it would be much longer, at least several days if not a week. There would be plenty of time for him to repair whatever damage he'd done on this last one, and besides, Carter wouldn't be running off early every evening. He glanced over the survey photos at the plentitude of trees and smiled, he couldn't help but look forward to this mission.

Carter's lack of presence when he arrived at the next day's briefing was irritating to the Colonel. He couldn't believe she was late again; guy or no guy, she still had a job to do. Irritation gave way to outright annoyance when General Hammond broke the news Carter would not be attending at all. She had requested leave on short notice and would be gone for two weeks.

After the briefing, now made much longer and dryer since it was run by Daniel, O'Neil decided to blow off some steam in the gym. Teal'c arrived shortly after him and seeing the Colonel deliver several hefty punches to a bag asked if he would consider a short spar.

"Sure, why not? Maybe what I need is a good ass-kicking. Let's do it."

Teal'c inclined his head at the odd answer and gestured to the mat. At once Teal'c could see the man was in prime form today; he was actually getting through a few jabs. For just a moment Teal'c let down his guard and was suddenly assailed with a hard punch to his solar plexus knocking him back and the wind out of him. He teetered off-balance but before he could fall O'Neill locked his arm around the big man's forearm and pulled him back up. "T! Whoa big guy, where ya goin'?"

He leaned forward to catch his breath. "O'Neill, it would seem you have an advantage today."

"Advantage? Over you? And just what would that be?"

"As I continue to observe your culture, I have noticed that frequently when males vie for the attention of a single female their physical prowess often exerts itself."

"What did you just say? " O'Neill looked back at him with confusion.

"I have noticed-"

O'Neill cut him of with a wave of his hand, "I got it. I heard what you said. That's not what it is."

Teal'c inclined his head and looked back silently.

"Okay, I've been a little jumpy lately and I needed to blow off some steam. That's all. Comprende?"

At the blank look from Teal'c he shook his head, "Do you understand?"

"I understand." The Jaffa stood upright and turned to walk away. Before he left he mat he turned his head back over his shoulder and added, "More than you, it would seem."

He left O'Neill standing there taken aback at his remark.

Later that evening O'Neill found himself standing at the door to Teal'c's quarters, staring at the blank grey door. After several moments he dragged himself out of his stupor and rapped lightly on the cold metal.

"Enter."

Once inside he closed the door quietly and stepped into the ever-present candlelight. "T, I wanted to apologize for being a bit short tempered lately." As he talked he absent-mindedly played with a drop of wax on one of the candles and subsequently burned his fingertip, jerking his hand back from the flame and sticking it in his mouth to suck the heat out of it.

Teal'c only blinked at the perceived silliness before him. Sometimes it was painfully obvious to him that he had many more years of experience than even this grey-haired seasoned warrior. He stood and approached his friend. "There is no need to apologize, you should, however, realize there has been a change in your behavior as Major Carter has spent less time here."

O'Neill looked back at him surprised and gestured with his hands, "What change?" He didn't give the Jaffa time to respond. "Okay, you're right. I've been bored, what can I say? I didn't realize how much time I spent in her lab, not that I knew what she was doing in there anyway." He pause and lightly tapped his fist against the wall. "Crap, is it that obvious?"

"It is."

Leave it to the original 'man of few words' to be blunt. O'Neill looked back at him and pressed his mouth into a thin line. "You're right. It is. She said she was happy and here I am moping around about it. I should be glad for her. She deserves to be happy, we all do." He reached out and grasped Teal'c's upper arm. "See you tomorrow. We've still got a 'go' for the mission, just us boys this time."

The mission turned out to be scrubbed for the time being as the General decided it would be too difficult to replace the Major on this one. The mineral surveys alone would be quite extensive and he couldn't spare a geologist from another team right now.

Let down and still bored, O'Neill was intent on not giving in to any more unprofessional behavior; he literally threw himself into his work. Two weeks could go by pretty quickly if you knew where the needs were. He volunteered to take on a couple of Cadet training exercises and even signed on for some night watches at the SGC in addition to his usual schedule.

On his second night shift he was surprised by the blare of the klaxons announcing an unscheduled Gate activation. Since he was the senior officer on shift he was already present, using the General's office to go over personnel reports. At the sound of the harsh alarms going off he turned to the window and watched the first two chevrons lock before darting out of the office and down the steps to the control room. Once there he rested a hand on the shoulder of a very young lieutenant who was manning the console. The kid looked scared to death, as if he expected a hundred Jaffa to storm through the gate.

O'Neill scanned the panels and spoke in a purposefully even tone. "Make sure you're set to receive any incoming signals. Could just be SG-4 coming back a bit early. Here we go."

As he spoke the final word the seventh chevron locked and the Gate whooshed open. As soon as the event horizon settled back on itself he gave the order, "Close the iris."

The lieutenant slammed his hand on the control more forcefully than was needed. All eyes were on the young man as he tapped commands into the keyboard and listened carefully on his headset. "Sir, incoming transmission."

"Identify."

"Tok'ra IDC, confirmed."

"Open the iris." O'Neill leaned forward to the desk microphone, "Team stand down. Friendly traveler." He wondered if the Tok'ra even cared to keep track of the hour here on earth. Most likely not, he just hoped it wasn't Anise with some technology she wanted to dangle in front of them and lure them into helping her with an experiment.

He was relieved when a single human male exited the wormhole and strode down the ramp. He took the steps down two at a time and was in the Gate room before the wormhole dissipated.

"Jacob! I don't suppose you know it's 3 AM here?"

"Nice to see you too, Jack. Uh, time couldn't be helped. What are you doing up and about if it's the middle of the night?"

"Long story. I'm betting you didn't come here to check up on my nighttime activities."

Jacob cast him a smirk. "No, I don't think so. You think George would be in a totally foul mood if we woke him? I really do have a good reason for being here."