Title: Unspoken

Author: Jodi Marie

Email: ag4bk@juno.com

Classification/Summary: S/J, Missing scene, tag for Evolution pt. II

Spoilers: A few from season six and obviously season seven, Evolution pt. II

Rating: PG

Disclaimer: Not mine. Wouldn't mind one bit if they were.

Two hours.

Colonel Jack O'Neill moved his feet a little more quickly through the gray hallways of the SGC. While he knew time was a luxury they did not have; still the two hours notice Hammond had given him was far from adequate considering the mission he was about to undertake. Hell, he wasn't even sure if his passport was here in his office or in his desk drawer at home.

He stopped at the elevator and drummed his fingers on the wall as he waited for it to arrive. Stepping into the car, he pressed the button for level 19. Not the right one for his office.

He noticed at once Carter was looking up before he'd even entered the room as if she'd anticipated his arrival so instead of knocking or speaking he just walked over to where he could stand and face her.

The Major sat still and looked at him expectantly. Normally when he entered her lab within seconds he'd have picked up something, probably breakable and fiddle with it. Today was different; he entered quietly and then stood at the bench with both hands flat on the surface, immobile, the picture of calmness.

Carter knew better. After the look that passed between them only a short time ago when Hammond broke the news that Daniel had gone missing, she already knew what he was going to do. "Sir?"

He sighed and spoke to her quietly. "I'm going after Daniel."

"Good." She swallowed hard and nodded. It was difficult to see him go into some hostile situation without the rest of the team as proper backup, but if anyone on the planet could get to Daniel, it was the man standing before her. As always it seemed, anywhere, on any planet, her stubborn CO was often the only thing standing between a victim and their tormentor. She knew he'd come through for their friend.

A shadow of concern crossed his face. "This other mission-"

She cut him off quickly, but softly. "Shouldn't be a problem, Sir." Despite the fact her mission would most likely be to go to the home world of the 'Super Soldiers' and face who knew what dangers, she couldn't let him fret over her, not when he needed all his wits to rescue Daniel.

His only response to her interruption was to give her a quick smile.

She felt a little flush rise in her cheeks. Of course he knew what she was doing, encouraging him to concentrate on the rescue and not her and she quickly continued, "When do you leave?"

"Now."

That single softly spoken word made her throat catch and her heart took a beat before she could respond. "Good luck."

He inclined his head slightly to one side. "You too."

They exchanged silent nods that said all the things they could not say, and then he turned and left without a look back.

Carter lowered her eyes but not to the object in front of her, then raised them again and thoughtfully tensed her jaw. While she knew it wasn't really meant as a final goodbye, it could yet turn out to be one, and it was obvious O'Neill had gone out of his way to make sure to speak to her before leaving. She appreciated that, and the fact he trusted her enough to take on Anubis' threat without him. Now it was up to her to validate his faith in her and come back alive with the information they needed. She resumed probing the device gently, soon they would hear back from Jacob and have to come up with a plan to infiltrate whatever stronghold they found, she could only hope her father was bringing back a lot more Intel than just a planet location.



Several days later

Samantha Carter was normally a picky eater but today she was totally disinterested in the thing called 'lunch'. It was only a sandwich but she'd managed to bend, fold, spindle and mutilate it after taking only two tiny bites. Hopefully playing with her food would make others think she was actually *eating* some of it.

The table conversation was lively as ever when they were joined by offworld friends and since the dealings with 'Ashrak #2' at the Alpha Site, Jacob and Bra'tac had forged a strong bond of friendship. The two men traded jibes, stories and observations constantly, to the amusement, surprise and occasional dismay of their current audience.

Sam tried to take part but for the most part only got in a smile or head nod before someone else started speaking. She was definitely feeling like a 'fifth' wheel.

Lunch over and briefing next up, she smiled at her father as he and Bra'tac excused themselves to freshen up before the meeting. That left her sitting alone with her CO.

He scooted his half-eaten piece of chocolate cake in her direction. "Neurons need glucose to function properly."

"What?" She wasn't used to hearing precise medical phrases coming out of that particular mouth.



"Glucose, sugar, grey matter." He tapped the side of his head with a finger then pointed it at her plate. "If you're not gonna eat that poor tortured turkey sandwich at least give your brain *something* to work with in the briefing."

She frowned at having been found out and he smiled in response, quickly adding in a singsong voice, "It's chocolate."

"I can see that." She didn't mean to answer with so much irritation but it came out that way. "Sorry, I'm being crabby."

He nodded. "Chocolate can help that too."

She couldn't help but smile and roll her eyes, the exact response he was looking for. He pushed the plate a little closer.

She really had no intention of finishing his cake despite the fact he was probably right, until her eyes met his and she found herself looking at something that reminded her of a lost puppy. She squirmed a bit in her chair and lowered her eyes only to spot his hand reaching across the table offering her the handle end of his fork.

She paused and pressed her lips into a thin line then raised her eyes to his again as she reached out and took the implement.

As she took a bite he smiled and leaned back in the chair then suddenly snapped his fingers. "Oh, almost forgot." He reached into his pocket and produced a single dose packet of Ibuprofen containing two tablets. He glanced at her shoulder. "I wasn't going to let you have these until you ate something."

"I'm okay. I don't need-" She paused. "You just walk around with painkillers in your pocket?"

He shrugged. "Knees, Nicaragua, jungles, go figure." When she still hesitated, he jiggled the package at her. "I've got more."

She smiled again and accepted the medication. Actually she did need it; the slight ache in her shoulder was developing into a full-blown cramp.

She didn't completely finish the cake but apparently it was enough to satisfy him and when she pushed the plate away he nodded his approval. "Why don't you go ahead? Briefings in ten, I'll meet you there." He stood and waited for her.

She got to her feet and smiled. "Thanks, Sir. See you in a few minutes."



The briefing took most of the afternoon and by the time they were done everyone was tired. Bra'tac left with Teal'c to relax the rest of the evening despite the fact neither of them had the need to Kel no Reem anymore. The older Jaffa especially still enjoyed the calming effects of meditation.

Jacob gave his daughter's arm a squeeze and turned to follow Hammond into his office for a more personal conversation before heading back to the Tok'ra base and reporting in.

Immediately Daniel and Carter rose and began discussing their newfound artifact/alien technological wonder. Both of them wanted it for study. Now. And neither really wanted to share.

As they moved toward the doorway, Fraiser stood and cleared her throat loudly. "Ahem!"

Their backs were turned to her but they both stopped in their tracks.

"Although I *do* recall clearing certain persons for *light* duty, it has been a very long day for everyone. Unless this *artifact*-" She glanced at Daniel. "Is in danger of disappearing overnight I'm *ordering* you two to eat something-" She glanced at Sam. "And get a good night's sleep, *at home*. Is that clear?"

Both scientists opened their mouths to object but the stern look on Fraiser's face made them stop before uttering a sound.

Someone chuckled.

Fraiser spun around to find the Colonel leaning back in his chair sporting a huge 'cat-got-the-canary' grin on his face. "And you!" She pointed a finger at him.

He opened his mouth and raised his eyebrows in mock surprise and waved both hands in the air. "Came back with *no* injuries."

Her mouth snapped shut. He was right. Yes his knees had gotten a little sore from traipsing through who knew how many miles of rough jungle terrain but that was to be expected. It was so common she'd almost convinced him to pop a couple Ibuprofen before going through the gate as a preventative measure.

She smiled sweetly at him and nodded. "Of course the Colonel is cleared for full active duty which I'm sure includes just about as much paperwork as I have to look forward to."

The smirk began to fade but he quickly recovered. "But not tonight. Home. Beer. Pizza. Hockey. Beer."

He pushed up from the table and stood. "Carter? Daniel? Enjoy yourselves for a change, I know I'm gonna."

They looked at each other, "We *were* going to-" Carter began and Daniel finished. "Before we were told to go home." Both looked utterly dejected.

Fraiser shook her head and stalked out of the room. "Tomorrow, 0800, recheck in the infirmary and *then* you can have all the fun you want."



A short time later Carter went by Daniel's office to see if he'd like to share a ride home, the cripples sticking together as it were. She found him sitting with his leg elevated reading from a thick manuscript, looking decidedly like he wasn't going anywhere.

"You're supposed to be getting ready to go home. C'mon we'll ride together."

He looked up at her over the top of his glasses. "Hi, Sam. Um, I don't actually need a ride. I'm staying here."

"Janet said-"

His eyebrows went up and he winced. "We, uh, reached an agreement. I wouldn't go anywhere near the labs or the artifact until after I see her tomorrow morning and she'd let me stay on base, since I couldn't drive too easily anyway. It'll be easier on my leg this way."

Sam glared at him. Daniel could be a real sneak when he wanted to be. Janet was *her* best friend and Daniel had already maneuvered his way around her orders before Sam had even thought about doing it.

"I can't believe you did that."

He winced a little again. "And if you're thinking of asking her, she said don't bother. She knows you'll just stay in your lab all night and do what you please until you pass out on the bench."

Sam huffed, in some ways it was a pain for the CMO to know you so well. "Fine. I'll be here at 0800 to get to work. *You* can study the writings on it from photographs, *I* get the device."

He smiled. "Okay. Might take a little while to get proper photos, take your time in your medical exam."

She let the door close on his final word and headed to her own lab. The few items she wanted were already packed up to go so she took a quick look around then switched off the lights and headed out.

It was just beginning to get dark outside and as luck would have it she shared the elevator ride with her 'friend' Janet. Instead of starting up an argument she knew she'd lose she decided to let it go; after all, Fraiser was right, she *would* probably fall asleep in her lab and wake with her shoulder so sore she wouldn't be able to do the work she wanted to anyway.

Both women headed to their respective cars and nodded cordial 'goodnights' to each other. In a minute Fraiser was gone, already past the checkpoint.

Once in her car, Sam got settled then prepared to start the engine. She sat, dumbfounded for a minute. The ignition was on the right as was the gearshift, and of course it was her right arm that she couldn't move.

"Dammit."

Inability to drive was the right reason, but Fraiser had agreed to letting the wrong scientist stay on base. Sam reached over with her left had to turn the key in the ignition but knew she'd still have to shift with her right. She slipped her arm carefully out of the sling and rested her hand on the knob. Depressing the clutch she attempted to move the lever and was stopped by a sharp stab of pain.

"Aw, hell."

She thunked her good hand on the steering wheel. While she'd gotten the car started, there was no way she would be able to shift gears well enough to get home safely and now Janet was already gone. If she went back inside and stayed the night there would be hell to pay tomorrow.

She was still sitting in the car staring at the dash when a tap on her window startled her.

"Carter? Car trouble?"

O'Neill was leaning down and peering at her.

She sighed and opened the door making him take a step back. "No Sir. *Me* trouble." She looked down at her right arm now back in the sling. "Standard shift."

He nodded. "Want a lift?"

The look on her face said 'not really', but she sucked it up and nodded. It would be the pits to have to wait for a cab this late; right now all she wanted to do was go home and get in bed. The Colonel carried her briefcase to his truck and helped her get in then walked around and climbed in himself. "Damn, Carter. I don't know what you've got in there. Sure you didn't scarf the artifact before Daniel could get his hands on it?"

"No." She was not amused. "No artifacts, just my laptop and some files."

Her icy answer stopped him from joking further and he started up the engine and headed out, for once refraining from making further conversation.

Despite her current state of irritation, Carter felt herself relax as the vehicle moved. It was cold outside and the Colonel had turned up the heat a notch above the usual level just for her, she was sure. The seat was soft and comfortable and smelled of leather, and well, *him*. Not at all unpleasant. She turned sideways so that her sore shoulder wasn't touching anything and leaned into the seat with her eyes closed.

In minutes O'Neill noticed she was asleep. She was turned so she was facing him and had reclined the seat just a little to be more comfortable. As it was she looked like she could stay curled up there all night.

At a stoplight he took a moment to reach over and brush a stray lock of hair from her face. She shivered slightly and he clicked up the heat another notch. The next thing he noticed with the engine noise reduced was that her stomach was rumbling.

He smiled affectionately at her then turned back to his task of driving as the light turned green. He shook his head as he realized that little bit of cake was probably all she'd had to eat all day and she'd likely go straight to bed once she got home.

It had been raining most of the way and now a light dusting of snow began to fall quickly turning the wet road to slush. O'Neill made a decision. He turned at the next intersection and headed home, to *his* home.

Once there he gently shook his 2IC to wake her.

"Oh, sorry." She sniffed and rubbed her nose. "Didn't mean to fall asleep on you." She shifted to a more upright position and reached for the briefcase. "I'll just..." She paused looking out the window. "This is not my house."

"Uh, no. It's mine."

"Sir, I really just want to sleep. Can't you take me home?" She rubbed her forehead wearily.

He stood by the open truck door and held a hand out to her. "We're already here so come in, have something to eat and I'll run you home. Okay?"

"Not hungry." Just then her stomach growled again and he grinned.

"Someone else thinks differently. Come on, you need to eat. I'll tell Doc if you don't."

She sighed, he was right and the prospect of even making herself a slice of toast at home was not appealing. "Okay. Something light though, no pizza."

"Spoil sport." He helped her out of the truck and slammed the door tight.

Inside, Sam busied herself with her laptop while O'Neill puttered around in his kitchen, taking a few minutes out to light a fire in the hearth to warm the house more quickly. In an amazingly short time a delicious smell was wafting through the house and her mouth began to water.

"Are you actually *cooking*?"

She could hear the grin in his voice, "You remember my 'to die for' melted ice? Well, my canned soup is just as good."

She entered the dining room just as he set two plates out on the table where he'd already put silverware and a box of crackers. "Chicken noodle?"

"With bits of real chicken and thick noodles, not the scrawny ones. Hungry?"

She took a seat. "I wasn't but I am now." She leaned forward and inhaled the aroma deeply.



Later, after the soup was gone, one bowl for her, two and loads of crackers for him, they moved into the den. Sam stood at the window looking at the now white covered ground. Jack finished cleanup and entered just in time to see her wrap her arms around herself.

"Cold?"

"Oh, no, actually. Just thinking." She glanced at him and back out to the frozen world outside.

"About?" He'd stopped to poke at the fire a bit and throw on another log then crossed the room and stood behind her, not touching but close.

She smiled at their reflection in the glass then her head drooped and she frowned. "There were so many of them." She shivered again and he realized it had nothing to do with the weather. He took one step closer and lightly rested his hands on her shoulders.

"We'll stop them. Hell, if you were the only one working on it I'd still be optimistic, but we've got your dad and all the stuff Selmac knows, and a lot of friends out there. We'll call in a few markers if we need to, the Asgard still owe us and I'd bet Jonas would be willing to visit for a little while and have a go, he did come up with a few novel ideas while he was here. It's to everyone's best interest to shut down Anubis' soldier factory for good."

Sam leaned back until she could just feel her back brush his chest and allowed herself a tiny bit of comfort from the strong man behind her. "You're expecting quite a lot, you know. Right now, I don't have a clue and Anubis is way ahead of us. I can't just pluck a scientific discovery off some tree like a piece of fruit."

"One percent inspiration, Ninety-nine percent perspiration?"

She inclined her head back toward him. "Quoting Edison now?"

"Hmm. Thought it was Einstein."

She felt him shrug and had to suppress a giggle. Suddenly her shoulder twinged and she let out a small groan. He lifted his hands off her immediately. "Sorry."

"No." She turned around to face him. "It's not you. I'm just tired and sore all over, and pretty much overwhelmed right now."

He nodded and took her by the hand, leading her to the couch. "Come on, sit down. You want some Tylenol or more Ibuprofen?"

She complied but shook her head to the offer of painkillers. "It's really not that bad. I know it sounds weird but I don't want to be all comfy and happy. I'm afraid it will make me complacent. You know what I mean?"

His eyebrows flicked as he sat beside her. "Yeah. Pain is a great motivator. Believe me, I know."

She turned toward him and their eyes met. For several moments they just held onto the other's gaze, not speaking.

The wind blew hard and rattled the windowpanes. Tiny bits of ice made a 'chinking' sound as they flew against the glass. Finally Sam blinked and looked away. "Maybe I should go."

Jack didn't move and the wind blew again, this time sending a gust down the chimney and a few ashes blew out only to be captured by the protective grate in front of the fire.

"Or you could stay." He suddenly realized what he'd said and flushed. "I didn't mean- what I meant was it's probably getting icy outside. Might be better to go by your place in the morning."

Sam felt herself flushing too. "Maybe you're right." It didn't make sense for her to go home and turn up the heat just for the few hours she'd be there. Here it was already warm. The company was nice too; so far the Colonel hadn't done or said anything even remotely exasperating. A first.

"I need to look over some files for a little while. If I won't be bothering you-"

"Not a chance." He reached for the remote. "I did say 'hockey' remember? Feel free to spread out anywhere." A few minutes later as commercials played on the TV he trotted into the kitchen for a beer. She heard the clinking of glass. "Sam? Beer?"

"Janet would have my head. Juice?"

On his way back to the den he dropped off a glass of orange juice and looked over her shoulder. The laptop screen was full of nothing but numbers.

"Jeez, Carter! Doc said *rest*."

"I am, I swear." She flicked her hand toward the den. "You do it your way, I'll do it mine."

"Right." He took a swig of beer and hurried back to the den as the roar of a crowd could be heard on the TV.



Two hours later Sam was done in. She'd been working on damage projections after figuring in the number of 'super soldiers' she now knew existed. Her head was pounding and her shoulder ached relentlessly. The volume of sound coming from the TV wasn't helping either.

She closed out the program and set the machine to power off then got up and stood at the entrance to the den. The hockey game was still in full swing, albeit in the third, and O'Neill was sitting on the very edge of the couch totally engrossed.

"Sir?"

He didn't respond.

"Sir!"

His head snapped briefly in her direction then back to the TV. "Carter! Come here. You gotta see this!"

She leaned against the wall and pinched the bridge of her nose with her free hand. "Actually, Sir, I'd like some Ibuprofen if you've got it and then I'm gonna crash."

His eyes didn't leave the game but one arm rose and he waved absently toward the back of the house. "Hall bathroom, medicine cabinet. You know where the guest room is. There should be old T-shirts and stuff in the dresser, take anything you want to sleep in."

"Thanks." It came out with irritation, but she knew he didn't hear it. It wasn't that Sam Carter was in the habit of feeling sorry for herself but here she was, with the weight of the world and more on her shoulders and he was watching- hockey! Life's a bitch sometimes.

She grabbed her purse and stalked down the hall, dutifully stopping in the hall bath to wash up and find some painkillers. No spare toothbrush available, she rinsed her mouth with some generic mouthwash he had and went to the spare bedroom, latching the door behind her. At least the sound of the TV didn't make it this far.

The dresser was stuffed with old clothes and as she dug through a stack of T-shirts she wondered if he ever threw anything away. Everything was too big but it didn't matter. She picked out something *not* hockey related and stripped down to just her panties, then tugged it over her head.

Immediately her mind went back to a recent mission. It was a cold and windy night off world and the tent flapped mercilessly all night. She was sure she'd never get to sleep but somehow she must have dozed off because the next thing she knew she was waking up snuggled against her CO with his arm wrapped around her shoulder. It was embarrassing but wasn't the first time it had ever happened and as usual he didn't seem to mind. He even gave her a little extra squeeze before letting her up.

Odd, she thought, to remember that right now. Then it struck her; it was the shirt. She wadded up a handful of the soft cotton material and held it to her nose and inhaled deeply the same scent from that night. It was almost intoxicating. Clean. Masculine. All O'Neill. She smiled and glanced out the window as she crawled into bed. Let the storm rage outside, in here she'd be just fine.



The hockey game finished and Jack locked up the house and turned off the lights before heading to bed. He rapped lightly on the guest room door and hearing nothing, opened the door a crack. There was only a mop of blonde hair showing out from under the comforter and he smiled when heard a soft snore. He closed the door and headed for bed himself.

It wasn't many hours later when his sixth sense alarm went off and woke him from a sound sleep. Always one to take his own instincts seriously Jack got up and took a short walk around the house. Other than the fact the electricity was off all seemed normal.

Luckily he kept flashlights and a few oil lamps around the house for just such emergencies and lit two lamps. The larger one he placed on the bar between the kitchen and den to light the entire area and the second he took with him.

He decided to rekindle the fire to keep the house from cooling off too much until the power was restored and then went back to his bedroom to snag the quilt off his bed. He'd sleep the rest of the night on the couch to keep an eye on the fire.

When he passed the guest bedroom and heard a noise he stopped a moment to listen. It might have been a groan or something else but then there was a definite 'thunk'. He gently eased the door open to investigate.

The only light was from the small oil lamp in his hand but it was more than enough to illuminate the room. Sam was still buried under the covers but it was obvious from the twisted mass she'd been wrestling with the covers in her sleep. It must have been her knee that moved first and then she rolled suddenly to one side dragging the covers with her. The next sound was a sob.

He opened the door just enough that he could slip inside and stood there in the doorframe waiting to see if there would be any more movement or not. He didn't have to long to wait; almost immediately there was another groan and leg kick. Jack moved quickly to the side of the bed where he could reach her and set the lamp on the bedside table. As he sat on the edge of the mattress it dipped slightly and Sam rolled in his direction thrashing out with her arms at the intruder.

He easily grasped her and pulled her into a hug, carefully avoiding undue pressure on her injured shoulder.

"Sam! Wake up; it's all right. You're safe."

He ran his fingers through her hair and continued to speak softly to her. She struggled a bit yet, still disoriented, but woke and looked up at him bleary-eyed, slowly realizing not so much what planet she was on but in whose arms she was.

She blinked hard a few times and tried to slow her breathing. The T-shirt she'd borrowed was now damp with perspiration and she shivered from the chill to the point her teeth chattered. "S-s-sorry S-sir. Bad dream."

"So I guessed. You're drenched. Come on you need to get out of that thing." His actions were swift and almost mechanical having had gone through this exact scenario more than once or twice with Charlie. Without thinking his hands that were still around her tugged at the hem of the shirt and pulled it up and over her head in one swift motion. Before it cleared her head he froze, suddenly confronted with the naked upper body of his 2IC.

He took in a gasping breath and let it out in a half-groan half-sigh. "Ah, sorry."

She shivered again and he quickly wrapped the comforter around her. Tossing the shirt aside he delved into a lower dresser drawer and pulled out a thick fleece sweatshirt. He stayed at arms length and held it out to her.

Sam reached out with her good arm but then winced and let out a sharp cry of pain. Instead of taking the sweatshirt she grabbed at her sore arm. He made to move toward her but held himself in check.

After a moment she raised her head to him. "It's okay. Must have pulled it in my sleep. I don't think I can get that on by myself."

He lowered his eyes to the shirt in his hand and then met her eyes again. "I could, uh-"

She couldn't look at him but nodded her consent and began to unwrap herself from the bedding. Not looking was nearly impossible but Jack tried his best and actually did only get an eyeful of her right breast as he supported her arm and guided it into the sleeve.

Once she was covered and settled again he sat on the side of the bed and reclined back so he was nearer her head. "Better?"

She sighed and turned so that she was sideways facing him. "Much. Thank you." She nodded to the oil lamp. "What's with that?"

"Electric's out. Probably ice on the lines." He absently reached out and brushed a wisp of hair back from her ear. "I thought I was the only one around here who had demons to fight at night."

Her brows knit at that 'almost' admission from him. "Funny you should put it like that. In a lot of ways that's exactly what those soldiers are. They're not human; they're 'grown', and soul-less like a zombie or something. I don't know if I'll ever be able to sleep like I used to just knowing those things exist."

He nodded. "We'll beat them."

"I wish I had you're optimism."

He chuckled deep in his chest at that. "I must be losing my touch. I thought I had the pessimism market cornered."

She shook her head. "You're not a pessimist. You might complain and gripe but pessimist? No. You're actually one of the most positive people I know."

"Then you must not know many."

Sam slapped the back of her hand against his thigh. "Since when is it pessimism to *always* believe there's away out, that you *never, ever* have to leave someone behind and that, my favorite, there's *always* a plan 'B' or 'C' or however many letters it takes to get to the *one* plan that will work and get everyone out alive?"

He stiffened slightly. "Oh, that."

There was a not uncomfortable silence between them for several minutes then he moved to stand up. Her hand reached out and touched his leg. "Don't go yet."

He nodded but stood up anyway. "I need to check the fireplace. Back in a minute."

He was back soon and found her wrapped up tightly in the covers shivering again. "Sam? You okay?"

"Can't seem to get warm. You'd think all that time off world would make me be able to stand a little power outage."

The temperature in the house had already dropped a few degrees and he noted himself how chilly his bare arms felt. "It'll get a lot colder in here if the electric doesn't come on soon. Um." He inclined his head toward the door. "Fire's going in the den if you can give up the bed."

She thought for a minute then nodded. It wasn't as if she'd planned to go back to sleep anyway. Jack pulled the comforter off her bed and picked up the quilt in the hallway where he'd dropped it earlier.

In the den Sam settled herself in a sitting position on the floor near the blazing fire. She'd wrapped the quilt around herself but still looked chilly.

"Something hot to drink?"

She shook her head and resumed gazing into the flames.

"You should sleep. This will be almost as good as the bed." He began to adjust the cushions on the couch and lay out the comforter across the seat.

"Too far away, it's warmer here."

"Yeah, but in a few minutes you're gonna be all toasty on one side and freezing on the other." He paused a moment. "We could share."

Her eyes glinted in the firelight as she smiled at him. The idea of cuddling up next to him was something she'd been thinking of ever since she first sniffed that shirt. She got to her feet and moved toward him.

He gestured to the couch. "You get in first so I can get back up and tend the fire." She did as requested, carefully positioning herself so that her weight was on her left side. When he joined her she rested the injured arm across his chest.

"Hmm. Now *this* is better."

He chuckled, "We could really rough it and get on the floor. It'd be just like '897."

Her response was to ignore him and snuggle down deeper. In a few minutes her breathing was deep and even. Jack allowed himself to drift off knowing the fire would burn well for quite some time yet.

A while later he heard a click as his answering machine reset itself. Only a few minutes after that the heat came back on as well. The house was still chilly and it would take a while to be comfortable again so he eased out from under Sam and stoked up the fire.

He padded up the stairs to the bathroom and retuned to find Sam awake sitting up on the edge of the couch with the covers wrapped around her tightly, staring into the fire. Even in the dim flickering light she looked hollow and sad.

He approached quietly and leaned down to her. "You want to talk about it?"

She shook her head rapidly and hunkered down further in the comforter.

Accepting the non-verbal answer as the only one he was likely to get, Jack lowered himself to the couch and scooted back until he was comfortably settled against the cushions. He reached out with one hand and rested it lightly where he guessed the small of her back would be underneath all the layers.

Sam took in a deep breath then leaned back slightly increasing the pressure of his hand against her. He knew she wasn't protesting, in actuality it was quite the opposite; she was accepting his support, physical and otherwise.

She leaned further and he moved his arm so she could turn and push the comforter out of the way then curl into his side. When she was settled, he allowed his arm to rest around her shoulder.

After a few minutes passed she shook a little and sniffed.

Jacks eyes flew open. No way. Carter was not crying. He raised his head just slightly to get a better look at her face where she had it buried against him and partially obscured by the comforter. All he could see was one eye and the top of her head.

She sniffed again.

He instinctively tightened his grip and rubbed his cheek against her hair. "Hey." Unfortunately that was the extent of his emotional support vocabulary so he cleared his throat to stall for time.

"Shoulder?"

She shook her head 'no'.

"Ah."

There was another long pause and then she moved, raising her head up a notch to free her jaw so she could speak. "You don't have to say anything."

Somehow that actually encouraged him to try. "I know." His mouth moved against her hair as he spoke. "This *will* be over someday. There will always be somebody trying to run all over somebody else, but it will take a very long time for another race or group to get as much power as the Goa'uld were able to amass. Maybe during that time more of the 'good guys' will figure out that those of us who are 'primitives' can still have an impact and decide to help us along. I understand the wisdom in allowing a culture to grow on its own but if the Tollen or Nox would have not been so separatist, or if the Asgard would have made contact back in Roswell a lot of this might have been avoided. And I don't just mean on Earth."

He paused and nuzzled her head then sighed and continued. "You know, they're so damn worried about their technology corrupting us. It seems to me it's corrupted them. Made them dependent on it. Well maybe not so much the Nox, but everyone else who's so far ahead of us."

Sam moved her head. "You've really thought about this, haven't you?"

"Sure. Why not?"

He couldn't see her smile but felt it. "Because you come off as running primarily on instinct instead of, well-" Her voice trailed off.

"Intellect."

Her shoulders stiffened slightly. "Um, yes."

"It's true. I don't have a problem with that."

She shook her head. "It's not *entirely* true. I don't think you're any less intellectual than anyone else, it's just that you've got *way* more instinct than the rest of us."

He arched an eyebrow as he considered her words. "Ah, it's just like Pavlov, teach an old dog the same thing over and over and eventually they anticipate it. Sometimes learned behavior can masquerade as instinct."

Sam was quiet for a long time and then snaked a hand out and slid it up to rest in the hollow of his collarbone. "So what do your instincts tell you about Anubis' soldiers?"

Always back to that, he thought to himself dryly. Carter was like a dog with a bone when something caught her attention. "Strength in the physical only. No heart, no soul and very little mind. They won't be easy to stop, but once we figure out how to exploit their Achilles' heel, they'll fall like dominoes."

"That's a tall order when all their weaknesses are internal."

"Not all."

"What?" Sam 's eyes opened. She'd been over every inch of the Soldiers armor and knew very well Earth had no technology that could damage it short of a nuclear weapon. "What weakness?"

He noted the edge in her voice, as if she'd once again missed something simple. Funny how someone so bright had so much trouble living by Occhams Razor.

"For one thing they are still physical beings, so they're subject to all the same things we are, gravity, time, pressure, stuff like that."

"Uh, I hate to inform you, but *we* haven't exactly licked any of those things."

"The Nox have a floating city and the Asgard have a time machine."

Her eyebrows twitched. The time dilation device. The Asgard might even have an improved version by now. It would certainly buy them some time.

He continued. "It's a game, you know. They think who's got the biggest, baddest technology wins. What they *don't* know is that eventually every schoolyard bully gets beaten, and not usually by a bigger bully."

He'd absent-mindedly begun to stroke her hair as he spoke.

"Don't. Please."

His hand stilled and he pressed his lips into a thin line. She could feel him take in a slow breath and let it out again.

She leaned back from the warm place she'd made and looked him in the eye. "I said I didn't want to feel good, but it seems I can't help myself." Her eyes lowered a few inches and held there.

His mouth twitched and the corners turned up in the tiniest of smiles as he realized where she was looking. One hand drifted up and his index finger came to rest under her chin, he pushed upward with very little pressure and she complied immediately. "As long as you're headed down that road..."

He moved forward and turned to more fully face her and let his lips brush over hers barely touching. She responded quickly closing the miniscule gap between them. The kiss was firm and sure and they simultaneously opened their mouths to each other.

He felt his arousal starting to build and eased his lips off hers slowly, nipping at her then brushing the tip of her nose. He knew if he didn't stop now, he wouldn't.

Far enough apart to focus, their eyes met.

He blinked slowly and his eyes moved to take in her whole face. His fingers moved from the back of her neck to her chin and his thumb ran along the jaw line.

"We *will* stop them."

She couldn't stop the tears from welling up in her eyes. "Don't make a promise you can't keep."

His eyes darkened and he leaned in closer. "That wasn't a promise, it was a fact. This-" his forehead touched hers, "is a promise." His head turned slightly to one side and he moved effortlessly into a long slow kiss. He moved back but held her to his chest and her head to his cheek.

He could feel by the firmness of her cheek she was smiling. As always between them, the most important things were never spoken.

The first rays of sunlight flicked through a gap in the curtains and he glanced at the window. "Tell you what." His voice was almost a whisper in her ear. "Give me ten minutes to shower and I'll run you home. We'll grab some breakfast on the way and get you to the Infirmary a little early. Then you can take a look at that artifact." He smirked evilly, "Daniel hasn't had a proper harassing for days, I think I can keep him out of your hair for at least a little while."

Her smile broadened into a grin.

~fin